April 26, 2012

TOM WHITNEY: U.S. ADDS BASES IN SOUTH AMERICA


Until recently, the United States has operated 22 U.S. military bases in Latin America, 800 worldwide. Now there are two more, one in Chile and another in Argentina, the first in either country. The purported justification is humanitarian.

U.S. diplomats and Chilean military chiefs gathered April 5 at the Fort Aguayo naval base in Concón, 90 miles northwest of Santiago, Chile's capital, to inaugurate a recently completed eight-building complex intended as a training prop for mock urban battles. The U.S. military's Southern Command provided $460,000 for construction. Training will be consistent with U.S. military doctrine known as Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT).
Opening ceremonies took place even as U. S. and Chilean military personnel were teaching 300 junior level military and police personnel from 17 countries. The course there covers police training, convoy movements, crowd control, and helicopter tactics. Students are being prepared ostensibly to deal with natural disasters or national emergencies, specifically for United Nations "Peacekeeping Operations." Joint Chilean and U.S. military experience in post-earthquake Haiti in 2010 is cited as a model.
Chilean defense officials and U.S. Southern Command head Douglas Frazier prepared the way with an agreement signed on September 10, 2011. The accord allows U.S. troops to deploy in Chile whenever "the Chilean Army finds itself overwhelmed by some emergency situation [like] a natural disaster," or when international aid with "military components" is required, or when "national emergency scenarios [prompt] a state of exception and suspension of constitutional guarantees."
Critics recall participation by U.S. military and intelligence services in the violent overthrow of President Salvador Allende's government in 1973, and U.S. collaboration afterwards with the Pinochet dictatorship. Some worry that carabineros, Chile's militarized police notorious for political repression, will train at the new base.
Communist Party Congressman Hugo Gutiérrez objected to "training for the Armed Forces to combat a civilian population." Human rights activist Alicia Lira indicated that "when the United States is involved in this militarist, interventionist practice, we have to be worried." For Patricio Labra, head of the SERPAJ-CHILE human rights group, "this supposed training for peace is a cover for preparing military forces to contain and repress citizen's legitimate reactions to unjust situations."
Indeed, Chile's right-wing government headed by billionaire Sebastián Piñera faces increasingly militant domestic opposition. Students demanding free high-quality education demonstrated repeatedly last year. Cities in remote Chilean Patagonia are alive with protests. Indigenous peoples, despite incarceration, terror, and deaths at the hands of security forces, are intensifying their long fight for land and sustenance.
By 2013,over a period of six years, the U.S. government will have funneled $45,105,001 in "military and police aid to Chile." U.S.-Chile military cooperation entails joint military exercises, troop exchanges, Chilean participation with U.S. National Guard training, and military purchases worth almost $1 billion over 20 years. Chile has sent almost 4,000 soldiers to the U.S. Army's School of the Americas (now the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation"), averaging 190 students annually over the past decade. Chilean as well as Colombian military trainers traveled to post-coup Honduras to support security forces there.
In Chaco State, Argentina, construction is under way at the Resistencia airport of a so-called "humanitarian aid center" for dealing with natural disasters. At a planning meeting in December 2011 attended by Chaco Governor Milton Capitanich, U.S. Embassy official Jefferson Brown identified the project costing $3 million as a high U.S. priority. Military attaché Col. Edwin Passmore, in charge, indicated the Southern Command would be paying.
For some, giant antennae springing up at the site betray espionage and surveillance purposes. Venezuela expelled Passmore in 2008, when as military attaché at the U.S. Embassy, he was accused of spying. In 2011 he arranged for a U.S. military plane to land unannounced and unexplained in Buenos Aires loaded with electronic monitoring equipment, medications, and intelligence transmission devices.
Observers say location of the facility in Chaco relates to the Guarani Aquifer underneath, one of the world's largest reserves of fresh water, and to the nearby Triple Frontier region, which U.S. officials claim is an "entry point for illicit drugs and a home base for terrorist planning."' The location could also be strategic for U.S. corporations interested in the abundant, exploitable natural resources throughout the region. The United States unsuccessfully tried to persuade previous Argentinean governments to permit a military base in Misiones Province, also close to the Triple Frontier region. Parliamentary Deputy Victoria Donda, a victim of Argentina's "dirty war," was hardly alone in noting "overwhelming evidence that in Latin America the strategy of the Southern Command is to disguise its intelligence activities as humanitarian aid and international cooperation."
Reacting to the Fort Aguayo installation, the Ethics Commission against Torture, a Chilean NGO, spoke for many: "Sovereignty rests with the people. Security cannot be reduced to protection of the interests of the transnationals...The armed forces are supposed to protect national sovereignty. Their bending to the dictates of the North American army constitutes treason to the homeland." And besides, "People have the legitimate right to organize and to demonstrate publicly."

April 25, 2012

AMY GOODMAN: "OBAMA'S POLICIES: THE REAL SCANDAL IN CARTAGENA"

I am glad to see someone writing about what really happened at the Summit Of The Americas. It was beginning to look like the whole prostitution thing was happening as a smoke screen for what Obama was doing in Cartagena and how totally isolated he is from both reality and every other country. I imagine that the next Summit Of The Americas will have only the U.S. and Canada in attendance. Even Columbia spoke out against Obama on Cuba. Although not against his turning a blind eye to the murder of Trade Union Leaders in Columbia. You can check out Amy Goodman's entire column at Democracy Now's website. I thought the parts on the Columbia Free Trade Agreement and Cuba were particularly important in terms of the upcoming Presidential Election.
 
 "Then there is trade. Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also announced that the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement would take full force May 15. Colombian and U.S. labor leaders decried the move, since Colombia is the worst country on Earth for trade unionists. Labor organizers are regularly murdered in Colombia, with at least 34 killed in the past year and a half. When Obama was first running for president, he promised to oppose the Colombia FTA, “because the violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements.” That year, 54 Colombian trade unionists were killed. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the announcement “is deeply disappointing and troubling.” Republicans, on the other hand, are offering grudging praise to Obama for pushing the FTA."

Then there is trade. Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also announced that the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement would take full force May 15. Colombian and U.S. labor leaders decried the move, since Colombia is the worst country on Earth for trade unionists. Labor organizers are regularly murdered in Colombia, with at least 34 killed in the past year and a half. When Obama was first running for president, he promised to oppose the Colombia FTA, “because the violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements.” That year, 54 Colombian trade unionists were killed. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the announcement “is deeply disappointing and troubling.” Republicans, on the other hand, are offering grudging praise to Obama for pushing the FTA.

On Cuba, Obama took the globally unpopular position of defending the U.S. embargo. Even at home, polls show that a strong majority of the American people and businesses support an end to the embargo. The U.S. also succeeded, once again, in banning Cuba from the summit, prompting Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to boycott the meeting this year.
Responding to overall U.S. intransigence, other Western Hemisphere countries are organizing themselves. Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University, told me: “Latin Americans themselves are creating these bodies that are excluding the United States, that are deepening integration, political and economic integration. This seems to be a venue in which they come together in order to criticize Washington, quite effectively.”

Grandin compared Obama’s Latin America policies to those of his predecessors: “The two main pillars of U.S. foreign policy—increasing neoliberalism and increasing militarism around drugs—continue. They feed off of each other and have created a crisis in that corridor, running from Colombia through Central America to Mexico. That’s been a complete disaster, and there’s no change.”

April 24, 2012

US Communists discuss path to socialsm

April 21, 2012

NEW YORK - The Communist Party USA has opened a national conference here this weekend. The logical assumption is that the 140 delegates present today from all over the country will focus on what they can do to defeat the right wing in this year's elections. And while this is, in fact, very true, the delegates note that they intend to go much, much further.
"This conference will not ignore the elections, to be sure," Sam Webb, the party's chair, declared in his opening remarks. "But it has, at the same time, a grander design. It will connect the dots between our immediate and longer-range political tasks.

"Or to put it differently, we hope to connect the struggle at the ballot box today with the struggle for socialism tomorrow."

There were many new faces present at the conference, as Webb noted: "Many of the new delegates are young people, who are as committed now to a socialist future as were the older generations of Communists in the past."

One of the things driving their commitment is concern about the growing threat to humanity's future coming from environmental degradation. "Almost daily," he said, "we hear of species extinction, global warming, deforestation, resource depletion, and on and on to the point where we are nearly accustomed to the gathering catastrophe.

"Our planet cannot indefinitely absorb the impact of profit-driven, growth-without-limits capitalism; the earth is sending distress signals to its inhabitants. And they will become louder, still, as long as the reproduction of capital dominates the reproduction of nature."

The Communists gathered here today say that capitalism - which once generated jobs and rising income - has devolved into a generator of unemployment, inequality, and insecurity. And with that understanding, they don't believe that the future offers a restoration of growth and rising income - that can only come, they feel, with a turn in the balance of class and social forces.

Socialism - more than a good idea, is "imperative," as Webb put it, "to preserve peace and our planet, expand democracy, eliminate gross racial, gender, and other forms of inequality, and to provide a secure life for the billions living on this earth."

Given their commitment to this goal, the delegates are preparing to discuss the various stages through which they see the struggle for socialism progressing.

Defeating right-wing extremism is seen as simply the first stage of the fight. Webb warned of that stage's critical nature. "If you don't believe me," he added, "take a look at Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, where Republicans took control of the levers of power in 2010 and then ruthlessly rolled back rights, eliminated social programs, and attacked the labor movement.
Assuming an eventual victory over the right wing, the Communists see workers and allies then being able to enter an "anti-corporate" stage of the struggle, where they expect the fight for a peoples' agenda will bring the labor movement at odds with corporate/economic political power.

"This stage of struggle doesn't supplant capitalism," Webb remarked. Instead, it "brings the socialist stage closer as tens of millions become convinced in the course of the struggle that capitalism doesn't work for them."

In the next stage (the socialist stage), Communists see a substantial shift to the left among the "core forces" of social change, a deepening of anti-racist consciousness and practice, the consolidation of the anti-corporate alliance, and the growth of the Communist Party and other left organizations.

"This stage will culminate in the election of a peoples' government," Webb stated.

Important parts of this stage, he noted, are "steps to control the movement of capital, to institute a tax policy that weighs heavily on the wealthy, and to place under democratic control sectors of the economy, such as finance, that are a threat to the peoples' government and a socialist revolution."

Some of this is still a way off, and so another focus on the part of the Communists is turning their party into a far bigger one than it currently is.

"We are still too small," Webb acknowledged, "but the good news is that we're growing. A good measure of this is the thousands of people who 'like' us on Facebook. As of last week, 20,000 people liked us on the People's World and 18,000 liked us on the Communist Party page. And in both instances, the number grows week by week."

April 22, 2012

News and events from PCASC; April - May 2012

Want to help shape the future of PCASC (Portland Central America Solidarity Committee) and build a strong organization for the important work we do? We are looking for new board members. Please contact craig@pcasc.net for more information.

PCASC Internships! Interested in lending your skills to the movement? Check out the PCASC internships and apply today!Tues, April 24th
Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting!
10am - San Francisco

This week, several PCASC members are going down to San Francisco to take part in Wells Fargo's shareholder meeting to demand that Wells Fargo stop investing in private prisons. We expect thousands to be present and look forward to reporting back from the trip! In SF on the 24th? Details here.

Sat, April 28th
Ben Linder's legacy 25 years later
7pm
@ Peace House
2116 NE 18th Ave


April 28th will mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Ben Linder, a mechanical engineer from Portland who was killed by U.S.-backed contras in northern Nicaragua as he prepared to build a small hydroelectric plant. Green Empowerment is hosting an event to celebrate Ben’s legacy.  Learn how rural Nicaraguan communities are transforming themselves and taking control of their futures.

Fri, May 4th
PCASC Social Club
7-10pm @ location TBA

Feature film Even the Rain- Tambien la Lluvia (2010) explores issues of water privatization and social exlusion as a director and his crew shoot a controversial film about Christopher Columbus in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Join PCASC for a movie night social featuring friends from BARK and Portland Rising Tide to
we hear updates from a campaign to stop Nestle from privatizing water in the Gorge, as well as updates from Latin American struggles against privatization and for community control of resources.

Come out and enjoy food, discussion, education and community with PCASC and friends!

Enjoy this song by Calle 13 to get in the mood.
More details at pcasc.net/events-calendar

take action
international workers day | we won't be divided
may day graphic
May Day Coaltion Events
Tues, May 1st
Rally   3:30 pm
March 4:30 pm
South Park Blocks
Full details here.
Sat, April 28th
Meaning of May Day
: A panel discussion
2-4pm PSU Food For Thought Cafe
1825 SW Broadway
More details at the FB event.

PLOC may day graphic
Gather round! Liberate.MayDay!
The Portland Liberation Organizing Council (PLOC) is inviting all members of the community join in the Liberate.MayDay project where a neighborhood will be leading a liberatory event.

Meet 9am at Woodlawn Park on Tuesday, May 1st.
More details here and at liberatepdx.org

~Check out this inspiring video to prepare for May 1st~

NEWS AND ANALYSIS

From our friends at Green Empowerment: A recent editorial in The Oregonian speaks to the person that Ben Linder was and the impact he had.

U.S. Narcotics Chief Defends Drug War During Central American Tour

Ecuador: A Revolutionary March Versus a Counter-Revolutionary March

Canada Deepens Ties with Deadly Regime in Honduras

Gathering in Bajo Aguán: Oligarchy and Human Rights Violations in Honduras

Progress or Promises? Free Trade and Labor Rights in Colombia
News as we get it at www.pcasc.net

How to plug-in to PCASC

“If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time…But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”- lila watson

PCASC is a democratic, volunteer led and run organization with just two half- time staff people.  From stuffing envelopes to taking a lead role in organizing a protest, PCASC has a place for you. Please take a moment to fill out our volunteer survey so we can help plug you into PCASC’s work!

Our next volunteer orientation is Wednesday, May 9th. RSVP by emailing craig@pcasc.net!

April 20, 2012

Cohen: Build a Framework like Brazil

From CWA:


Larry Cohen at EPI CWA President Larry Cohen joins worker rights panel at Economic Policy Institute.

Faced with a nationwide attack on workers' rights and their unions, American workers can learn a lesson from the Brazilians, CWA President Larry Cohen said Wednesday.
"If we don't build a framework like they did in Brazil, I don't think we'll be able to reverse this for decades," said Cohen, speaking on a panel of labor activists at the Economic Policy Institute.

In Brazil 25 years ago, Cohen said, organizers like himself and fellow panelists — including Luis Carlos de Oliveira, vice president of the Metalworkers Union of Jundiai, Brazil — would have been jailed. But today nearly 40 percent of Brazilians belong to a union. The reason — Brazil's Workers Party built a powerful movement that linked together jobs, workers' rights and economic justice. United, workers won the creation of laws that ushered in higher wages, 30 days of paid vacation each year, four months of paid maternity leave and more.

That movement has enabled Brazil to combat corporate greed and the wealthy's colossal political influence, the panel explained. Take for instance the controversy around worker abuse at Foxconn factories. In China, Apple supplier Foxconn has taken advantage of Chinese workers, forcing them to work overtime in deplorable conditions for little pay. Chinese unions are dominated by Foxconn management. Explosions have killed and injured employees, while the militaristic work environment has driven many to suicide.

But at Foxconn's plants in Brazil, employees don't work beyond the maximum 44-hour week established by Brazilian law. Their monthly wages start at roughly $580 a month, while their Chinese counterparts earn as little as $246 a month for similar work, according to data compiled by EPI. In Brazil, Foxconn is working with unions to facilitate more hiring to assemble more Apple products, and its Brazilian factory lines haven't seen a single explosion.

Meanwhile, General Electric workers in West Burlington, Iowa, are struggling this week to organize. In just five years, wages in Shanghai will equal those in US cities, since American production workers haven't seen a real wage increase in more than three decades. Cohen called America's trade policy a "sled ride downhill," as many consumers celebrate Apple and ignore the labor environment that has relocated US manufacturing to countries with few workers' rights.

Cohen encouraged the audience to take action into their own hands, starting with attending a 99 Percent Spring training. "It's not 'how do we speak to our government,' but 'how do we speak to each other,'" he said.

Portland & Salem May Day Events

The PDX Mayday Blog:http://www.pdxmayday.blogspot.com
MAY DAY ORGANIZING MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT
Saturdays, 1-3pm and Wednesdays 5:30pm
at St. Francis, SE 12th Oak
May Day Organizing Committee Website:
http://maydaypdx.blogspot.com

This year's celebration and protest on International Workers Day, May 1st,
will be the combined efforts of a broad swath of the 99%, from the Occupy Movement, existing May Day organizations, JWJ, The Alliance, Laughing Horse, KBOO, unions, and new and old groups who stand for peace, justice, freedom, and everyday people.


General Strike!
Occupy General Strike
https://www.facebook.com/events/337068492974144/

MAYDAY!
The NW Alliance for Alternative Media & Education Portal
https://www.facebook.com/events/220604641373277/

Mayday general strike march!
Under the Burnside Bridge
https://www.facebook.com/events/408483545845941/

Marcha Primero de Mayo en Portland
¡LOS DERECHOS DE LOS INMIGRANTES SON DERECHOS LABORALES!
https://www.facebook.com/events/284414721638568/


MAYDAY 2012: The Light of Hope March & Rally

CAUSA OREGON http://oregonmayday.com/
https://www.facebook.com/events/395901180427146/

Action Name: Protest! No War on Iran: Occupy AIPAC

Date: 2012-04-29
Event Time: 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Location: Mittleman Jewish Community Center
6651 SW CAPITOL HWY
PORTLAND, OR, 97219-1914

Organization: Americans United For Palestinian Human Rights
More Info: http://auphr.org
Description: Say "No to war on Iran, No to funding Israeli apartheid, and No to AIPAC and the lobbies of the 1%."
* * * Please Distribute Widely * * *

Time: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m,
Date: Sunday, April 29, 2012
Location: Mittelman Jewish Community Center, 6651 SW Capitol Highway, Portland, Oregon

See our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/events/207196606050041/
For more information: info@auphr.org
Talking points: 10 Reasons Why the Israel Lobby AIPAC is So Dangerous http://mondoweiss.net/2012/02/ten-reasons-why-the-israel-lobby-aipac-is-so-dangerous.html
Event Flyer: http://www.pjw.info/occupyaipac.pdf

Two buses stop right in front of Mittelman: 44-Capital Hwy/Mocks Crest and 45-Garden Home. Contact Trimet: http://trimet.org 503-244-0111
Signs will be available at the protest!
Call your politicians! Before the event, we ask that people call their state and federal representatives and ask them to "Say no to AIPAC" and not attend this event. The AIPAC event regularly attracts State Legislators, our members of congress, Oregon mayors, members of Portland's city council, and even the student body presidents of Oregon's universities! See our sample letter and contact information below! Please let us know of any responses by emailing info@auphr.org

Join a coalition of peace, human rights, and Palestine solidarity organizations for a demonstration outside the annual Oregon fund-raising dinner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday, April 29. The demonstration will protest AIPAC’s role in promoting a military attack on Iran’s nuclear energy facilities. The protest is also calling for an end to U.S. military aid to the Israeli apartheid government which refuses to halt the construction of illegal settlements and routinely violates the human rights of Palestinians living under Occupation. Israel controls the lives of more than 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip but denies them the right to vote or to exercise their right to self-determination. We will be demonstrating at the start of the event and at the end when the politicians leave stuffed full of food and AIPAC talking points.

Some Oregon political leaders have regularly attended AIPAC’s annual fundraiser in past years. This year the protesters are asking Oregon's leaders to represent their constituencies' opposition to another unjust war in the Middle East by boycotting AIPAC's gala. Among the groups protesting are Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights (AUPHR), Friends of Sabeel - North America (FOSNA), Jewish Voice for Peace - Portland (JVP), Occupy Portland, Peace and Justice Works - Iraq Affinity Group, and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER).
At AIPAC’s recent national convention , Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to justify a military assault on Iran. Such an attack would violate the United Nations Charter, which forbids the use of force except in self-defense. The Iranian government has said that its nuclear energy program is for peaceful purposes. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and is under an inspection regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Both the IAEA and U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Israel, on the other hand, has refused to sign the NPT and is believed to have between 200-400 nuclear weapons.

“AIPAC represents a minority, radically right-wing position in its lobbying for the Netanyahu government,” explained William Seaman, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. “They do not represent Jewish opinion in the United States or in Israel, which is one reason groups like JVP and other Jewish organizations are challenging their disproportionate influence on our political process.” Polls show that AIPAC does not speak for most American Jews.

The protest will take place outside the Mittelman Jewish Community Center, 6651 SW Capitol Highway in Hillsdale, beginning at 4 p.m. on April 29. Demonstrators are committed to nonviolence and oppose all forms of racism, including racism against Jews. They are asking Oregon residents and political leaders to say No to war on Iran, No to funding Israeli apartheid, and No to AIPAC and the lobbies of the 1%.

[SAMPLE LETTER]
Dear Representative XXXX -
I understand that you have been invited to attend a fundraising dinner for the Oregon branch of the American Israeli Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on April 29. As one of my legislators, I hope you decline this invitation. I am opposed to AIPAC’s agenda for war on Iran, its support for Israeli apartheid and the denial of Palestinian’s right to self-determination, and the undue influence of this lobby on U.S. foreign policy. It is time for American legislators to stop listening to the money of the 1% and start listening to the voices of the 99%.
I am deeply concerned by the increasing prospects of a disastrous war on Iran by the United States and Israel. At a time of dangerously escalating tensions, AIPAC continues to beat the drums of war and fan the flames of military action, as documented by a recent article in the Jerusalem Post (see below). It’s time for a new approach to the Middle East. We need to support diplomacy with Iran, not issue threats. Don’t support AIPAC. Please don’t go to this fundraising dinner!
Polls show that AIPAC does not speak for the American Jewish community. Since 1996 AIPAC has been led by supporters of the right-wing Likud Party and members of the RepubIican Jewish Coalition. I support equal rights for all in Israel/Palestine, a human rights approach that AIPAC disavows with its support of illegal settlements, military occupation, and second-class citizenship for Palestinians within Israel.
AIPAC has been described by a former Israeli Knesset member as "a kind of a filter which filters only darkness through it, rather than light through it."
Please stay in the light and let me know if I can count on you to tell AIPAC, "No more war, no to war on Iran!"
Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME HERE]
Reference: Washington Watch: Setting back the war clock http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=262855


CONTACT NUMBERS:
For your state legislators, go to http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

Contact numbers for Oregon’s Senators and Representatives

Senator Jeff Merkley Phone: (202) 224-8845 Fax: (202) 228-2111

Senator Ron Wyden www.wyden.senate.gov Phone: (202) 224-5244 Phone: (503) 326-7525

Rep. Earl Blumenauer www.house.gov/blumenauer
Phone: (202) 225-4811 Fax: (202) 225-8941 Phone: (503) 231-2300 Fax: (503) 230-5413

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici bonamici.house.gov
Phone: (202) 225-0855 Fax: (202) 225-9497 Phone: (503) 326-2901 Toll Free: (800) 422-4003 Fax: (503) 326-5066

Rep. Kurt Schrader Phone: (202) 225-5711
Rep. Peter DeFazio www.house.gov/defazio Phone: (202) 225-6416 Phone: (541) 465-6732

Congressman Greg Walden www.house.gov/walden Phone: (202) 225-6730 Fax: (202) 225-5774 greg.walden@mail.house.gov Phone: (541) 776-4646

Toll Free: (800) 533-3303 Fax: (541) 779-0204
Southwest Washington comrades! The phone number of the Capitol Switchboard is 201-224-3121.

AFL-CIO Launches 'CEO Pay and the 99%'

From the AFL-CIO:

The AFL-CIO revamped its executive pay watch website today, adding new shareable infographics and data on the business world's wealthiest 1 percent.

The renamed site "CEO Pay and the 99%" gives users a look inside CEO salaries in a database sortable by industry, state and the top 100 highest paid executives. It features data on corporate cash hoarders, the CEO-to-worker pay gap, the growing influence of mutual funds on pay issues and the world of private equity.

Did you know it would take a worker 11,000 years to earn the equivalent of Apple's CEO salary? Were you aware that over the past five years, Verizon Communications cut 41,100 jobs, but still stockpiled $14 billion and paid its CEO $23.1 million last year?

Companies are increasingly under fire for out-of-control CEO pay. On Tax Day, Citibank shareholders voted against extravagant compensation for the bank's top executives, including CEO Vikram Pandit's $15 million pay package.  It was the first time a Wall Street firm faced such a stinging rebuke.

Visit www.paywatch.org to write the Securities and Exchange Commission and urge the agency to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's requirement that public companies disclose their ratio of CEO-to-worker pay.

Portland Organizes For Clean Energy & Against Neoliberalism

DEMOCRATIZING THE GRID - CLEAN ENERGY FROM THE 99%
Oregonians for Renewable Energy Policy and Partners Present Paul Gipe


What: Democratizing the Grid Forum
When: Tuesday, April 24, 7 - 9 PM (Q & A to follow)
Where: First Unitarian Church, SW 12th and Salmon, Portland OR.

Paul Gipe, international expert and leading North American advocate for
Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs (aka CLEAN Contracts), will show how paying
people a fair price for  clean energy they "feed" into  the grid:
   * made Germany the world's leader in solar energy in less than a decade
   * has created 370,000 renewable energy jobs in Germany since 2001, and
   * is responsible for 45% of the world's wind and 75% of its solar PV installations

Paul will report on feed-in tariff success worldwide, in Canada, and citizens' movements within U.S. States. As Governor Kitzhaber invites
Oregonians to help develop a 10 year Energy Plan for our state, now is the time to understand the power of feed-in tariffs and how Oregon can be a leader in the clean energy economy.

Find out how a feed-in tariff policy can help Oregon:
    * rapidly develop large amounts of locally-owned, clean energy
    * create needed good, green energy jobs quickly in all corners of our state, and
   * redirect billions of energy dollars currently going out-of-state to Oregon communities.

Admission: $5 - 20 suggested donation but no one turned away.

Co-sponsored by:
   Jobs With Justice
   Community for Earth and Economic Justice Action Group, both of the First Unitarian Church
   Oregon Interfaith Power and Light (of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon)
   Alliance for Democracy
   Lake County Resource Initiative
   Venus Motors Company, Inc.
   Oregon Sierra Club
   Sustainable Solutions Unlimited, LLC
   Solar Energy Solutions, Inc.
   Fair Rate Coalition of Small Hydro Producers
   Oregon Small Wind Energy Association
   Eastern Oregon Renewable Energies
   Solar Oregon
   Oregon Community Wind
   Cascade Climate Network

Note: Paul Gipe is also the keynote speakers at the 2012 NEBC Future Energy Conference, Thursday, April 26th, at the Oregon Convention Center, with a workshop to follow.

Learn more about:
   * Feed-in tariffs and Oregon's 10 Year Energy Plan at www.OregonRenewables.com
   * Paul Gipe: www.wind-works.org/giperesume.html
   * NEBC Future Energy conference: www.futureenergyconference.com
###
Global Teach-In Portland
April 25th, 2012
8:30am – 4:15pm
First Unitarian Church, 1211 SW Main Street
We are in the midst of a global uprising.

Despite neoliberal declarations that we have reached the end of economic history, the world is teeming with creativity, passion, and an insatiable desire for new ways of living. Business as usual is being rejected on a mass scale..., while new ideas are emerging and spreading at an incredible rate. Each day, it becomes more and more obvious that the old economic order is flawed, predatory, and incapable of existing in its current form. Instead of more war, debt slavery, and foreclosures, people are clamoring for a sustainable and equitable world economy.

On April 25, the Global Teach-In will facilitate a dialogue on strategies and tactics to achieve this goal through a global event made possible by local democratic experimentation. In Portland, we will bring together organizers, activists, and intellectuals to discuss the nature of and solutions to the ongoing economic crisis and explore ways to build a more just world. We will learn from one another, find out what is already going on locally, and build powerful networks that can implement the changes we know are necessary.

Think globally. Revolutionize locally.

http://vimeo.com/39371903

---------------------------------------------

The official Global Teach-In site for Portland, OR

www.globalteachinpdx.org

April 19, 2012

Tavis Smiley & Cornel West on "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto"

ThumbwestsmileyTavis Smiley & Cornel West on "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto"

Also, listen to Part 2 with Smiley and West..

In part two of our interview, Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornell West discuss growing up in working-class households, and compare the amount of money spent on war and the 2012 presidential campaign to funding for programs that assist the one in two Americans who are now poor. They also discuss the Trayvon Martin case, and Ted Nugent’s potentially threatening comments about President Obama at the recent National Rifle Association meeting.

April 18, 2012

JESSE JACKSON, SEIU, NNU, UE ANNOUNCE ENDORSEMENT OF MARCH AGAINST NATO IN CHICAGO

This is big and shows the increasing support and willingness to take on NATO and the Rahm Emmanuel machine in Chicago.  The mayor has violence baited and attempted to threaten the organizers of this march who have pressed forward with their right to have a family friendly march in Chicago.  They have their permit for the march and now these endorsements will guarantee increasing numbers.  The unions have made statements that they are actively encouraging their members to turn out.


MEDIA ALERT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Lauren Love, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, 248-514-2922
Eric Ruder, Coalition Against NATO/G8, 773-398-3020

Rev. Jesse Jackson announces his support 
for anti-NATO protest in Chicago

CHICAGO—The Rev. Jesse Jackson and other community and labor leaders will gather on Thursday, April 19, at 11:15 am on the 2nd floor of City Hall to announce their plans to march in opposition to NATO. The march will take place on Sunday, May 20, which is the first day of the NATO summit, and is being organized by the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8). 

Rev. Jackson will also announce his plans to speak at CANG8’s People’s Summit at Occupy Chicago’s headquarters on May 12-13, the weekend before the NATO summit.

Standing with Rev. Jackson to announce their support for the march and People’s Summit will be Occupy Chicago; the Chicago Teachers Union; the National Nurses United; and members of the Service Employees International Union.

"Our world has become jilted by war and weapons,” said Rev. Jackson. “There is simply too much violence, too much concentrated wealth and too much poverty. I hope on May 20 there will be a large demonstration with global participation. It’s time we go in a different direction. I am urging us to shift our priorities. This demonstration is designed to appeal to the leaders of the world to choose to depend less on military intervention and more on negotiations to try to heal these societies ravished by poverty and internal strife." 

CANG8 organizers are pleased to be joined in their efforts by many other community and labor leaders in addition to Rev. Jackson. “This march will take place at a crucial moment in NATO’s war on Afghanistan as a majority of Americans have now turned against further U.S. involvement there,” said Joe Iosbaker, a CANG8 organizer. “This is a historic convergence of the antiwar and civil rights movements to demand that the incredible sums of money being spent to wage war abroad be redirected to address pressing social needs at home.”

Many other allies are also gearing up to mobilize their constituents for the May 12-13 People’s Summit (peoplessummitchicago.org) and the May 20 mass march (cang8.org) from Grant Park’s Petrillo Music Shell to McCormick Place where NATO and the heads of state of some 50 countries will be meeting.

“Occupy Chicago is proud to support the May 20 march being organized by the Coalition Against NATO/G8," said Rachael Perrotta, a member of Occupy Chicago’s press team. “We expect Occupiers to stream in from across the country to join us in stopping the NATO war machine.” Occupy Chicago is also hosting the People’s Summit (peoplessummitchicago.org) on May 12-13 at its offices at 500 W Cermak Rd. one week prior to the NATO summit.

Many nurses from the Chicago area and beyond have been active in the Occupy movement and in challenging budgets that prioritize war spending over public health. "As an ER nurse, I see the suffering of the 99 percent firsthand,” said Dennis Kosuth, a registered nurse at Stroger Cook County Hospital. “The global 1 percent and the G8 are calling for austerity cuts to vital social services while draining trillions of our tax dollars into the NATO war machine. Our tax dollars should be going into our public schools, healthcare services, libraries, public transportation—back to the people of Main Street. Registered Nurses of the National Nurses United will be marching alongside CANG8 this May to protest NATO and to call for a Robin Hood Tax on the G8 global 1 percent." 

Christine Boardman is the president of Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents 25,000 public employees in Illinois and Indiana, and she is urging union members and working people to attend the protest in large numbers. “G8 policies have supported so-called ‘free trade agreements,’ which have caused the loss of millions of jobs,” said Boardman. “Instead of funding for war and supporting ‘free trade’ for corporations, which means ‘slave trade’ for workers, it must become our national priority to keep good jobs here and to fund services for our communities.”

In addition to SEIU Local 73, several other unions have also endorsed the May 20 protest, including the Chicago Teachers Union, National Nurses United, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, United Electrical Western Region and University of Illinois-Chicago Graduate Employees Organization.

Other noted speakers at the May 20 march and the People’s Summit include Malalai Joya, former Afghan member of Parliament and internationally renowned opponent of NATO's occupation of Afghanistan; Reiner Braun, International Coordinating Committee of the European No to NATO network; Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence; Malik Mujahid, Muslim Peace Coalition; Medea Benjamin, Code Pink; and Col. Ann Wright (ret.), antiwar activist.

April 17, 2012

The AFL-CIO's Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage

Corvallis May Day Solidarity Fair

Sunday, April 29 at 1:00pm at Central City Park

Free movie night Thursday, April 19, 2012, Portland, Ore.


The free movie at the Portland SEIU union hall is "Inside Job" which won an academy award for best documentary.

If you aren't outraged by the crazy politics and insane amounts of money that are currently sloshing around our country in anticipation of the upcoming national election, you will be enraged when you see how clearly the financial world has rigged itself to profit a few at the expense of everyone. 'Inside Job' provides a straight forward comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia.

The full consequences of the 2008 global financial collapse continues to grow. This movie does a great job of showing you just how untouchable our national and international financial institutions are. The facts will shock you.

Where: SEIU Local 503; 6401 SE Foster Rd, Portland, Oregon
When: Doors open at 6 PM, the movie will start at 6:30 PM, Thursday April 19th, 2012

Sponsored by WE ARE OREGON, Portland JwJ, Tom Dwyer Automotive, and Economic Fairness Oregon.

Movie night is an effort to welcome progressive community members into our SEIU union hall for the sake of coming together and have a conversation about issues that matter. Or you can just show up for a quality movie and enjoy some fresh free popcorn.

If you have questions, you can call Timothy Welp at 503-528-6929

Palestinian prisoners in mass hunger strike - Middle East - Al Jazeera English


Palestinian prisoners in mass hunger strike - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

At least 1,200 Palestinian inmates of Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike on Tuesday, as rallies across the occupied territories marked "Prisoners' Day".

As thousands gathered in towns and cities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, three-quarters of the 4,700 Palestinians held by Israel began refusing food, the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) said.

"In the framework of (Palestinian) Prisoners' Day, around 2,300 security prisoners said they were refusing their daily meals, and around 1,200 prisoners said they were starting a hunger strike," IPS spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said on Tuesday.

Another eight women inmates had also said they were refusing food as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian security prisoners, Weizman said.

"We have coped with hunger strikes in the past and we are prepared to do so again now," she added.

Speaking to crowds gathered in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, gave a higher figure for the hunger strike, saying "1,500 prisoners from all the factions" had joined it already and more were expected to later in the month.

"We are united and undivided when it comes to prisoners, and we will stand by them until they get their demands," he said.

The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Ministry says there are about 4,700 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, including 319 being held without charge in so-called "administrative detention".

The action by prisoners comes on the same day that Palestinian activist Khader Adnan was due to be released as part of a deal struck earlier this year to end his 66-day hunger strike in protest at his detention without charge.

Throughout the morning, thousands of people held marches and rallies across the West Bank, with about 3,000 people gathering in Shuhada Square in central Nablus, waving Palestinian flags and holding up pictures of imprisoned relatives.

Another 1,000 or so people gathered in central Ramallah, with a sit-in planned for later in the afternoon outside the nearby Ofer prison.

In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, 1,500 people gathered holding up flags, pictures and slogans reading: "Stop the policy of solitary confinement."

Hundreds more gathered in the northern towns of Tulkarem and Qalqilya, a witneses said.

In Gaza City, about 2,000 people marched to the headquarters of the Red Cross where they set up a solidarity tent with the hunger strikers.

There are currently 10 Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, four of whom have been transferred to prison hospitals because of the fragile state of their heath, the Palestinian Prisoners Club says.

Two of them, Bilal Diab, 27, and Thaer Halahla, 34, have been refusing food for 50 days, with medics expressing concern over their deteriorating health.

Another prisoner, Hassan Safdi, on hunger strike for 44 days, was being held in the same facility, with his condition described as "very serious".

All 10 are being held without charge under administrative detention orders, which means they can be held for renewable periods of up to six months.

April 16, 2012

TEA PARTY SPEAKER TELLS LGBT PROTESTER, "WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY FAGGOTS"


In response to the homophobic Tea Party speaker the counter demonstrators seemed to be saying, "we will not be silenced - ever".

They have history on their side.  As the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Act Up (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) are being put into gear it is encouraging to see the militant spirit of Act Up in the resurgence of LGBT activism.  In 1987 Act Up activists infiltrated the New York Stock Exchange and chained themselves to the VIP balcony to protest the high price of the only approved AIDS drug, AZT.

That spirit of taking LGBT justice and equality issues outside the bounds of lobbying and the electoral process started gearing up around the struggle to repeal DADT.  Now the LGBT activists are taking on the Tea Party like no one else really has.  

The comment through the loudspeakers about "faggots" occurred as the Boston Police were arriving to break up the counter demonstration.  They were demonstrating against the presence and honoring of Scott Lively.  Scott has been active in Uganda advocating for laws against the LGBT community and making claims of "curing" homosexuality.  He supports the proposed laws targeting the LGBT community.  They call for jail and in some cases execution.  The laws generally are known as "The Kill The Gays Law".  They are supported by the homophobic Ugandan President Museveni.  The U.S. government sends military aid to prop up the government of Uganda.

The protester in the picture above later wrote:  "The officer in the picture approached me and said, "Okay, take your shit and get out of here," shoving me back.  I said to him, "Don't shove me."  He then said, "Don't shove you?" and then choked me, for a period of time.  My comrades reacted quick, taking pictures, getting his badge number, etc  He was rough with several other people, grabbing one of my comrades' phone out of his hand when he tried to take a picture."  Somethings have changed since the early days of Act Up..and some things have not.

Support Teachers at Parkrose School Board Emergency Rally; April 17, 2012, Portland, Oregon; plus more actions

Actions in Portland, Oregon:

The Parkrose School Board has called its emergency meeting to vote on implementing its contract.

The meeting will be April 17th at 8.45am, at 10636 NE Prescott, on Bus Route 71.

Come out to support the teachers.  Lobby, take pictures, wave placards!

And don't forget the Portland Rising actions happening later in the day:

**** Noon to 1 PM  Tax Dodgeball.  The 1% face off against janitors, postal workers, teachers, home owners, Verizon workers and other teams representing the 99%. At Terry Schrunk Plaza, between SW 3rd and 4th, and SW Madison and Jefferson Streets.

****4 PM  to 5 PM  Budget Crisis Bake Sale.  Should our city have to organize bake sales to fundraise for public bathrooms, garbage collection, childhood education and street repair?  We say NO!  A bake sale and press conference to draw attention to the lack of solutions coming from City Hall to save our services. At City Hall, 1221, SW 4th.

We will then ride the Max for free, while showing our support for transit workers and the Fareless Square to....

****5.30 PM  to 6.30 PM  Save America's Postal Service - Informational Picket & Rally.  Stop the closures, support Saturday delivery and prevent mail delays!  Portland Main Post Office, NW Hoyt at Broadway

April 14, 2012

CUBAN DISSIDENTS ARE SHOCKED BY THEIR DREAMS OF CAPITALISM

Cuban dissidents who were yearning to leave Socialist Cuba for the freedom of Capitalism claim they had no idea it would be like this.  Apparently they had not been listening!!

HAVANA TIMES
Cuban Dissidents: Behind the Dreamed of Paradise
April 12, 2012
Fernando Ravsberg*

HAVANA TIMES, April 12 — "My name is Barbara Dueñas. I'm one of the relatives of the former Cuban political prisoners who arrived in Spain in August 2010. I'm the ex-wife of Marcelo Cano, from the "Group of 75" [imprisoned in 2003]. I live in Tarragona and I'm alone with my daughter. Since February 19, I haven't received any assistance and I don't know what to do.

Barbara's letter appeared in en Periodistas en Español, where she says: "There hasn't been one day that I haven't cried since I came to this country. I feel like a helpless prey. I'm sick, both me and my daughter. Now, Social Services want to take my daughter away from me for not being able to maintain her."

Almost at the same time, we learned of the suicide in Palmas de Gran Canarias [Canary Islands] of Albert Santiago Du Bouchet, who was a dissident Cuban journalist and a former political prisoner exiled in Spain since he was released in Cuba last year.

The crash could be seen coming. A year ago, walking around Madrid, I met some of those who had been released. They asked me to do a report revealing the appalling living conditions which they were suffering under the government of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

Months later, another colleague published an article about a group of dissidents who camped outside of Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to protest the government-run shelter that had kicked them out, accusing them of rowdiness.

In the Plaza Sol, the then recently released dissident Orlando Fundora explained that they had conflicts with the PSOE because "our ally is the [conservative] People's Party (Partido Popular or PP)." That's why I was so surprised that the now PP government of Mariano Rajoy would cut off their financial assistance.

They didn't expect such a position from a right-wing government and now they are truly angry. "I didn't leave one dictatorship to get mixed up with another one," said dissident Randol Roca who arrived in Spain a year ago.

He told a reporter, "I want freedom," though actually he wasn't protesting any restrictions on their ability to speak, assemble or associate. Rather, he was upset over a cut in aid of $117 (US) that they each received at the beginning of every season to buy new clothes.

According to EFE, the socialist government had created an 18-month transitional assistance plan to support the released Cubans, giving each family 700 euros a month for rent and providing each household member with 180 euros, for a total allocation that reached a considerable sum.

Authorities explain that the period of assistance simply ran out, though Roca suspects they're stealing his check. "My Lord, where's the money for political refugees in Spain?" he asked, but then he responded by saying, "It's being diverted somewhere."

"We left Cuba with nothing, and on the plane that brought us to Spain they promised us a place to live and work," said Roca, but he claims that now nearly all of the released prisoners and their families — around 700 people — are unemployed.

Some of them left for the US, but things there aren't much better. A recent report done in Miami showed the mother of Orlando Zapata (who died on a hunger strike) mopping floors to survive.

In addition, Washington is reluctant to grant visas to the released prisoners and their families. So far these have only been obtained by the "Group of 75." The rest were denied political refugee status because they live in Spain, where no one is persecuting them.

For the US, political asylum doesn't even fit the case of the dissident Carlos Martinez, who is awaiting trial in a Malaga jail cell as the result of a street brawl. Previously, he had spent 10 years in prison in Cuba, explained his wife Marcia.

She is a woman who seems desperate. She says she cries every day and is starting to suffer a nervous condition. No wonder, her government assistance has been cut, she's unemployed, lives in a house where "there are mice and cockroaches," and her husband is back behind bars.

Marcia is demanding a visa for the US, where she thinks that things would go better for her. However if Washington doesn't yield, she'll ask for authorization from Havana to return to live on the island, "We, the family members, should be able to return to Cuba."

Ricardo Gonzalez, another dissident in exile in Spain, summed it all up saying that the frustration of those who were released is due to the gap between the expectations they had when leaving Cuba and the reality they found once they arrived in Spain.

"I dreamed I would be here, from when I was in a crowded prison. I dreamed I would see myself in a more flattering condition," wrote the Spanish writer Calderon de la Barca, who concluded by recalling, "Every life is a dream, and dreams, are dreams."

_________
An authorized translation by Havana Times (from the Spanish original) published by BBC Mundo.

April 13, 2012

"Fostering peace through education"; Eugene, Oregon event, April 2012

You are invited to attend this year’s Lane Peace Symposium (at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon) on April 20-22, 2012.  The symposium will be a Democracy Convergence in the spirit of the Occupy Movement entitled ‘People Powered Democracy Confronts Corporate Rule.  http://www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter/ The symposium will bring together the top democracy activists in the nation to speak on democratic social movements and give workshops on building movements for people’s democracy.  These include:

  • David Barsamian – founder and Director of Alternative Radio.  http://www.alternativeradio.org/
  • David Cobb – Spokesperson for Move to Amend. http://movetoamend.org/
  • Alice DiMiceli – Pacific Northwest singer, songwriter and musician, her music celebrates the natural world and the people in it.
  • George Friday – Field Organizer for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee http://www.bordc.org/ and National Coordinator of the Independent Politics Political Network
  • Ben Manski – Director of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution. http://libertytreefoundation.org/
  • Max Rameau – Organizer for Take Back the Land and Movement Catalyst, providing campaign development and support to social justice organizations.   
  • David West – Director of the Native American Studies Program at Southern Oregon University. http://www.sou.edu/natam/dwest.html

The Peace Symposium is scheduled for April 20-22, 2012 at the Longhouse on the Lane Community College main campus.  Friday’s daytime session will be a series of keynote talks.  The Friday evening session will be a plenary panel on 'The State of Global and US Grassroots Democracy Movements'. David Barsamian will keynote. His talk is entitled, ‘Uprisings: Kashmir to Cairo to Wall Street’. Saturday will include both keynote presentations and organizing workshops dedicated to organizing a movement to amend the Constitution to end the fiction of Corporate Personhood and Corporate Constitutional Rights.  David West, David Barsamian, and Max Rameau will give keynote talks.  Complete details are available on our web page at: http://www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter/

Since we are expecting to draw an audience from across the Northwest, we are asking people to pre-register so we can effectively plan to meet everyone’s needs. Register online at http://www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter/

If you can not make a session in person, keynote talks will be live streamed. Visit our web site to find the live stream button.

If you have questions e-mail peacecenter@lanecc.edu or call Stan Taylor at (541) 463-5820

Tolerance of Whom?

Tolerance of Whom?

by Rashid Khalidi  | April 10, 2012, THE DAILY BEAST

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is planning to build a Museum of Tolerance on the Muslim Mamilla cemetery. This project is a grotesque attempt to erase the well-established history of a continuous Muslim presence in the city that dates back over a millennium.

For over six centuries, many of my ancestors have been buried in an historic cemetery that holds the remains of some of the most prominent public figures and military leaders ever to live inside the Holy City of Jerusalem.  The Mamilla cemetery is said to contain the remains of Muslims who walked alongside the Prophet Muhammad, fought in the Crusades, and influenced the city over many centuries.  It is one of the most important remaining Muslim heritage sites in the Holy Land.

In recent years, however, I and surviving members of many of Jerusalem's oldest families have witnessed the desecration of the cemetery. The efforts of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center to build a "Museum of Tolerance" on the site have already tarnished the cemetery and damaged its integrity. 

Hundreds of sets of remains have been disinterred and carted off for disposal in unmarked mass graves in unknown locations, or worse. The Jerusalem municipality has enabled this effort with the approval of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. This project is a grotesque attempt to erase the well-established history of a continuous Muslim presence in the city that dates back over a millennium.

Last month, new images surfaced that confirm excavations in the ancient Cemetery continue in secret, proving false the repeated claims of the Wiesenthal Center that there would be no further digging on the historic site. Footage made public by the Center for Constitutional Rights shows new power equipment and electrical supply within a fenced-off and covered pit, that borders an as-yet undisturbed portion of the cemetery.  As an American from New York who can trace the burial of my own ancestors at Mamilla back to the 14th century, I can only hope that the news of likely additions to the hundreds of remains already wrongfully disposed of increases the urgent calls to stop this abuse of the dead before the site is entirely desecrated.

Since the plans to construct the Museum of Tolerance on Mamilla Cemetery began in 2004, nearly 60 other descendants of those buried at the cemetery and I have made repeated appeals to try and stop the disinterring and destruction of the remains of our ancestors.  We have appealed directly to the Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier, to the Jerusalem Municipality, and to the UN. We have received the support of over 80 prominent archaeologists from Israel and around the world, who have petitioned for the preservation of the site, while others have filed legal appeals in Israeli courts.

Israeli courts have not provided a remedy, and our suggestions of compromise, including relocating the Museum to a new location-a move that would showcase genuine tolerance-have been met with silence.  Meanwhile, the Wiesenthal Center has skirted responsibility, initially disavowing knowledge of the graves, and now clinging to a flimsy defense that the sanctity of the site has long since diminished.

The Protection of Holy Sites Law in Israel now covers 137 sites.  Not one of these is Christian or Muslim.

To show that these claims are patently false, one need only look to the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry's 1948 declaration of Mamilla  as "one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where seventy thousand Muslim warriors of [Saladin's] armies are interred along with many Muslim scholars... Israel will always know to protect and respect this site."  As recently as 1986, in response to a UNESCO investigation regarding Israel's development projects on the site, the Israeli government stated that "no project exists for the deconsecration of the site... the site and its tombs are to be safeguarded."

There is no justification for these desecrations. If they were occurring in any other place on earth, the outcry would be deafening.  Unfortunately, the treatment of Mamilla is not an anomaly; Muslim and Christian sites of cultural, religious and historical significance continue to be systematically disrespected by Israeli authorities.  The Protection of Holy Sites Law in Israel now covers 137 sites.  Not one of these is Christian or Muslim.

At a time when Americans are engaged in a national dialogue about division along racial and cultural lines, a time when discrimination and the marginalization of minorities are subjects of public protest, it is disheartening to see  some individuals and institutions exporting and abetting division elsewhere.  The Wiesenthal Center's mission statement says its goal is to promote human rights and dignity.  People of conscience everywhere must press the respected and influential Rabbi Hier, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center to adhere to those goals, and to allow the thousands still buried at Mamilla cemetery to rest in peace.

- END -

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and a former advisor to Palestinian negotiators. Khalidi is the author of numerous books, including Palestinian Identity and The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. He currently serves as the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com. 

Rashid Khalidi is a member of the advisory board of Friends of Sabeel--North America.