February 28, 2013

SEIU 503 March 4-7 Honduras Events In 4 Oregon Cities

The SEIU 503 Latin@ Caucus and the Lavender Caucus join together to present "Eyewitness Honduras: Attacks On The LGBT Community and Unions".  The keynote speaker will be Chuck Kaufman the Co-Director of the Alliance For Global Justice.  He was most recently in Honduras in November with a Human Rights Accompaniment.

Since the U.S. supported coup in 2009 there have been attacks and executions throughout Honduras.  Over 80 members of the LGBTQ Community have been killed.  There have also been attacks on unions and two human rights activists have been killed.  In addition the rise of campesinos, the indigenous communities, students, and youth are joining together to oppose the coup. Three new U.S. bases are currently being built and the increasing troop deployments and CIA assignments are ominous signs.  Come join the discussion in Portland, Corvallis, Salem and Eugene.

March 4 - Portland 6:30 - 8:30
                 Metropolitan Community Church
                 2400 NE Broadway

March 5 - Corvallis 6:30 - 8:30
                 Westminster House
                 101 NW 23rd St

March 6 - Salem 6:30 - 8:30
                 Salem Public Library
                 Anderson Room A

March 7 - Eugene Noon - 2:00
                 Erb Memorial Union - Ben Linder Room
               
               


February 27, 2013

Oregon Prisoners Driven to Suicide

by Torture in Solitary Confinement Units

By Kevin “Rashid” Johnson
VIA Email
http://democracyandclasstruggle.blogspot.com/2013/02/oregon-prisoners-driven-to-suicide-by.html

Introduction

I am not one prone to fits of temper. But a few days ago I almost lost it. My outrage was prompted by witnessing the steady deterioration of another prisoner, resulting from particularly acute mental torture inflicted in Oregon’s Disciplinary Segregation Units (DSU), which duplicate almost exactly conditions of torture practiced at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, that were outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1800s.[1]

The prisoner, who’d been housed in a suicide precaution cell next to me in the DSU of Oregon’s Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI), went into an immediate depressed state upon being put into the DSU. Initially, he talked a little. Then abruptly withdrew. He stopped eating, to which the guards were unanimously indifferent. Several taunted him, “if you don’t eat it I will.” He then stuffed toilet paper and the cell’s mattress into the cracks around the edges of the door, apparently to seal off all outside sound and “barricade” himself in.

He blacked out the camera in the cell, and began talking to himself. He sat catatonic in the corner of the cell and naked for days on end. He was confronted only twice by mental health staff who indifferently left his cell when he wasn’t responsive to their half-hearted attempts to talk.

Only after I verbally protested the blatant apathy of mental health and medical staff to his condition, which was obviously due to their collaborating in his mental torture, was a nurse brought to the cell to physically examine him. Whereupon his blood pressure was found extremely low and both the nurse and accompanying guard expressed his mouth and skin showed obvious symptoms of severe dehydration—in addition to not eating, he’d also apparently not been drinking water for several days, although he was supposedly in a “monitored” cell.

The nurse had him immediately taken out of the unit, likely to the medical department since he didn’t return. The next day I was moved to another unit as well. That was on November 14th.

A high tide of suicide

I never learned his full name. The guards and other officials called him only “Acosta” (presumably his last name). In the DSU where we were confined together, there are six suicide precaution cells. I was housed next to one of them.

These precaution cells have in-cell video cameras and prisoners confined to them are generally given only a blue nylon smock-like garment to wear, a nylon blanket, and a mattress. Throughout my DSU assignment at SRCI these cells were always occupied and a constantly changing rotation of prisoners were kept on watch as a result of suicide attempts and ideations. In 22 years of imprisonment, I have never seen such a consistently high and continuous series of suicide cases, which I immediately recognized to result from the extreme sensory deprivation of DSU housing.

Compelling idle minds

Prior to my Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) assignment in February 2012, I’d spent 17 years in solitary confinement, enduring various extremes of sensory deprivation. During that time I witnessed numerous prisoners deteriorate mentally under the conditions of solitary. But in most cases, it took months to years because there was a limited amount of access to in-cell property and one could use the telephone periodically. However, in Oregon’s DSU no personal property is allowed, beyond a pen, writing paper, and, if one can afford it and has anyone to regularly correspond with, a few mailing envelopes. One cannot use the telephone to communicate with loved ones at all. One can’t have personal books even. Not even law books.

In DSU a prisoner may only receive up to three novels from a small rolling book cart kept in the unit. Many of which are missing bindings and pages. Such reading per se does little to stimulate the mind and denies one the opportunity and right to select his own subjects and fields of research and study.[2] The three novels may only be exchanged from the cart once per week.

DSU prisoners are heard frequently complaining that having nothing else to do, they complete novels in two to three days, and are otherwise left completely idle and “bored out of their minds.” Meantime the deterioration sets in: the constant cell-pacing or catatonic states, incessantly talking to oneself, depression, irrational searches for stimulation, and of course, self mutilation and suicide attempts.

Torture by design

And ODOC officials know what they’re doing. They consciously use acute sensory deprivation (psychological torture) as a behavior modification technique, with the assistance of mental health staff whose professional role and concern are supposed to be maintaining prisoners in healthy mental states, not aiding in inflicting mental pain and injury on them. This is no different from the doctors and nurses who aided the gruesome medical experiments and tortures of concentration camp prisoners in Nazi Germany.

Indeed, I was moved from the DSU with the suicide precaution cells, when I spoke out in protest to and against one of the DSU staff, D. Jennings, as she indifferently left Acosta’s cell, asking why she was condoning his and all our mental torture under DSU conditions, referring to the high frequency of suicide attempts in the unit; and citing numerous studies of psychiatric and torture experts on sensory deprivation and its being a known form of psychological torture and one of the most hurtful and damaging forms at that. Her response was to walk away with guards laughing. She then gave me a scornful stare as she left the unit.

I’ve learned from ODOC prisoners, officials and ODOC’s own publicly accessible policies—the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR’s)[3]—that ODOC officials very deliberately use psychological torture as a behavior modification technique, which is one reason the DSU is designed as it is. Those found in violation of minor or major prison rules are invariably sentenced to months of mental torture in DSU: typically four to six months at a time, which amounts to prolonged torture as a deterrent to rules violations.

Worse still is the ODOC’s Intensive Management Unit (IMU) where I am now confined. A housing status that lasts from seven months to indefinitely, during which a prisoner must pass through four levels—which requires that he reveal his every thought to his torturers.

Those housed in IMU who receive rules infractions are automatically placed on level one for a month, which is even more restrictive and extreme in sensory deprivation than DSU housing. And for every infraction he then receives, his level one assignment is extended. Such conditions often put prisoners struggling to maintain their sanity in a catch-22, where coping prompts resisting their torturing confinement, and that very resistance prompts infractions which intensify and prolong that confinement.[4]

On the level one IMU status, the prisoner may have only one novel per week, and cannot even come out of the cell for fresh air inside the walled-in enclosure, with only a small patch of the sky visible, that passes for an exercise yard.

Then, too, as a Security Threat Management (STM) lieutenant, Schultz, here at SRCI, boasted in my presence on September 18, 2012, he personally imposes indefinite statuses on select IMU prisoners where they are left in completely empty cells all day, given bedding and linen from 10:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. daily, and are allowed writing supplies for no more than four hours per day. He actually admitted to me this was torture and violated the prisoners’ constitutional rights, but proclaimed himself immune from all liability (i.e. above the law), because ODOC policy empowered him to do pretty much as he pleases to prisoners as an STM official.[5]

I, in turn, sent Schultz a written request that same day pointing out that he was not in fact immune for violating the law because he believes his policy-making superiors gave him authority to do so. I then pointed out the sort of character he and his colleagues are, who presume to punish others by imprisonment for breaking laws, when they in fact have no respect for the very same laws themselves—and the highest law of the land that they are under oath to uphold at that, namely the U.S. Constitution. And although ODOC rules required that Schultz respond to my request within seven days, he never replied.[6] Yet, he sees to prisoners being tortured for them violating ODOC rules.

One prisoner who’s been confined in the ODOC for some time—Damascus Menefee—informed me of an ODOC scandal a few years back, where it was exposed in the media that several DSU and IMU prisoners had committed suicide, but were not discovered by officials for hours, because guards weren’t tending their posts and refused to make required security rounds in the housing units. As a result, the ODOC installed electronic devices in the DSUs and IMU that monitor and record the guards’ rounds in the units. What was also exposed during this scandal was that the conditions of the DSUs and IMU were causing an extremely high incidence of suicides and suicide attempts in the ODOC. However, nothing was done to change these conditions that still exist, and, as I have observed, continue to drive prisoners at an extraordinary rate into suicidal ideations and actions.

History repeats itself

As pointed out the DSU and IMU conditions replicate abuses outlawed over a century ago, at the Eastern State Penitentiary, where solitary confinement was first tried as a method of “reforming” criminals, but only proved to drive them insane.

Whereas DSU and IMU level one prisoners are locked in solitary cells with only novels, at Eastern State they were confined in solitary with only a bible to read, where they were expected to ponder and make penance (hence the name “Penitentiary”) for their wrongs. The actual effects of such confinement, as the Supreme Court found, were quite different:

“A considerable number of prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal were not reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of subsequent service to the community.”[7]

Unite to fight prison torture

Today, as the world joins U.S. prisoners in protest against ongoing solitary confinement in prisons across the country—from the United Nations denouncing the practice of torture[8] to mass demonstrations in support of hunger striking prisoners protesting solitary[9]—the ODOC has managed somehow to remain under the radar, where the most intense sensory deprivation is being inflicted on prisoners, and prisoners are literally dying to escape it.[10]

And it’s known torture; of the same sort inflicted in U.S. torture research labs like at Guantanamo Bay, where U.S. military personnel in collaboration with psychiatrists and psychologists, inflicted, studied and refined various methods and effects of psychological torture on detainees (especially sensory deprivation), which came out in the U.S. military torture scandals of 2004 and led to ongoing mass protests to close down Guantanamo. Professor Alfred McCoy also wrote an extensive historical study and exposure of U.S. military and CIA involvement in refining techniques of mental torture for decades.[11]

Experts in the field know very well that sensory deprivation causes suffering and injury at least as extensive and often more severe than physical torture and injury. As psychiatrist and torture expert Dr. Albert Biderman observed:

“The effect of isolation, on the brain function of the prisoner is much like that which occurs if he is beaten, starved or deprived of sleep.”[12] Furthermore, studies find that sensory deprivation inflicted in solitary confinement even briefly actually causes physical brain damage.

“EEG studies going back to the nineteen-sixties have shown diffuse slowing of brain waves in prisoners after a week or more of solitary confinement. In 1992, fifty-seven prisoners of war, released after an average of six months in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, were examined using EEG-like-tests. The recordings revealed brain abnormalities months afterward: the most severe were found in prisoners who had endured either head trauma sufficient to render them unconscious or, yes, solitary confinement: without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”[13]

As said, these hypocrites running the DOC are fully aware of what they’re doing. They know they’re engaged in torture of prisoners as lawless as if they were water boarding and electrocuting us. That they pretend to have a moral authority to punish others for breaking laws they don’t respect themselves is what fueled my outrage, as I watched others around me retreat into insanity, mentally deteriorate and literally resort to self-destruction in efforts to stop their suffering.

Here on the inside, the hypocrisy of those in power is blatant. Because we “in here” so long disconnected from those “out there” are powerless in the face of our armed captors, our torturers feel little need to sugar coat reality and hide their true face as they do with the outside masses.

Here in Oregon the public seems oblivious to the abuses carried out in their names within its prisons; abuses that also unbeknownst to them they stand to suffer from, because these tortured souls around me will be returned back to those communities from whence they left. So for the sake of all concerned, it’s in these communities’ interests to end this prison torture and hold those responsible to account.

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!

All Power to the People


[1]In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160 (1890).

[2]As the courts have held: “Freedom of speech is not merely freedom to speak; it is often freedom to read. . . Forbid a person to read and you shut him out of the marketplace of ideas and opinions that it is the free-speech clause to protect.” King v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 415 F. 3d 634, 638 (2005).

[3]All of the ODOC’s Oregon Administrative Rules can be read at: www.arcweb.sos.state.or.us. The OAR’s relevant to this article are OAR 291-011 (Disciplinary Segregation), OAR 291-055 (Intensive Management Unit), and OAR 291-069 (Security Threat Management).

[4]On this phenomenon see, Dr. Atul Gawadne; “Hellhole: the United States holds thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture? The New Yorker, March 30, 2009.

[5]See OAR on STM, op cit. note 3.

[6]Per OAR 291-109-1020 (4) ODOC staff are to reply to prisoners’ written requests (“Kytes”) within seven days.

[7]See, op cit. note 1 on page 168.

[8]On October 18, 2011 UN torture expert, Juan Méndez, denounced U.S. solitary confinement practices as torture and called on all countries to ban its practice except in extremely exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible. See “UN News: Solitary Confinement Should be Banned in Most Cases, UN Expert Says,” October 18, 2011.

[9]On July 1 and September 29, 2011 six thousand and 12,000 prisoners respectively in California prisons went on hunger strikes lasting three weeks both times, protesting, among other things, long-term solitary confinement in Security Housing Units. Mass support for these hunger strikes spanned the country.

[10]A prisoner confined next to me, as I write this, witnessed two suicides occurring during or about May and July 2012 at Oregon State Correctional Institutions—Segregation Units, in Salem Oregon. This witness being Zachariah Dickson.

[11]Alfred McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror, (New York: Henry Holt, 2006).

[12]Albert Biderman, et al, The Manipulation of Human Behavior (New York, 1961) p. 29.

[13]Op cit. note 4.
 

February 26, 2013

Action Alert: Jobs Not Wars Call-in 2/27/2013

The Jobs Not Wars Campaign is calling for a change in our nation’s priorities.  We can only meet the needs of the American people and our communities by cutting the bloated out-of-control Pentagon budget and by making the super-rich and giant corporations pay their fair share.    (NOTE:  Read the entire action alert HERE.)

We will strengthen our security more by investing in jobs and caring for people than by lining the pockets of weapons makers, their executives and lobbyists.

Does the budget exist to serve the people or the profit interests of the arms industry?

The time to act is now !

The Congressional switchboard number is: (202) 224-3121

A toll-free line is: (866) 338-1015

• Tell your representative and senators that you want them to support The Balancing Act (HR 505) and oppose both sequestration and austerity measures.

•  Tell them to stand with the majority who support substantial cuts to the Pentagon budget in favor of:

► Job creation – putting people back to work is the best way to kick-start the economy

► Protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and other safety net programs

► Rebuilding public infrastructure and investing in our communities

► Protecting the environment and investing in sustainable energy sources

► Ending the War in Afghanistan now – stopping the cycle of endless war – and caring for our veterans when they return

► Ensuring the super-rich and giant corporations pay their fair share.

What is Oregon’s real retirement mess?

FROM SEIU 503:

Today the Oregonian ran yet another flawed, misinformed story this time flagging that Oregon PERS members benefits are more generous than those of neighboring states and making a stink that Oregon public workers don't contribute to their retirement based on a flawed study released by the Center for Public Policy at PSU.

Our response is available online and is pasted in below. For those of you who are Facebook and Twitter users please be sure to share, like or tweet our response and spread the word!

What is Oregon’s real retirement mess?

In response to today’s divisive and misinformed editorial about PERS, SEIU Local 503 Executive Director Heather Conroy issued the following statement:

“Part of SEIU Local 503′s vision is a ‘just and vibrant society.’ That means a society—and a media—that places the blame for economic short fallings on the banks that caused them, not the hard-working Oregonians who suffer because of them. It also means that all workers—public- and private-sector alike—have access to retirement security.

“In a sense, the editorial staff of The Oregonian are right: our retirement system is broken. Over half of private-sector workers are at risk for retiring into poverty, and Oregonians have lost millions because of bank misconduct. Sadly, instead of investigating the cause of our financial woes, they choose to pit private sector worker against public sector worker; neighbor against neighbor; working Oregonian against working Idahoans and Washingtonians.

“I invite editorial staff to look into the eyes of retirees who will have to choose between groceries and prescriptions if PERS ‘reforms’ go into place and explain to them why they’re the source of Oregon’s suffering economy, and why the state has the right to break the promises that were made to them year after year by pulling the rug out from underneath them in their autumn years.”

February 25, 2013

Greek Factory Under Workers Control


http://www.thenation.com/blog/172852/greek-factory-under-workers-control

The Nation   February 12, 2013

Greek Factory Under Workers Control


Peter Rothberg


The workers of Vio.Me., a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its bankrupt owners, have been unpaid since May of 2011. This week, after a series of general assemblies the workers convened, they’ve started occupying the factory and operating it under direct democratic workers’ control. The culmination of a year-long struggle that has attracted attention and solidarity in Greece and worldwide, the occupiers are trying to kick-start production and prove themselves a viable new model. 

As part of a letter being circulated by the Thessaloniki Solidarity Initiative explains:
This experience of worker’s occupation to workers recovery and control is not new—either historically or currently. Since 2001 there are close to 300 workplaces that are run democratically by workers in Argentina, ranging from health clinics and newspapers and schools, to metal factories, print shops and a hotel. The experience there has shown that workers together cannot only run their own workplace, but can do it better. The example of Argentina has spread throughout the Americas, and now to Europe and the United States. In Chicago, workers of New World Windows have begun production under workers control after years of struggles with former owners and bosses. And now in Greece, workers are again showing that the way forward—out of unemployment—refusing the crisis—is workers control and directly democratic self-management.
This is a dangerous time for Greece. Worn down by years of austerity, the right, led by the neo-fascist Golden Dawn is making gains. But the left is also on the rise. Bold experimentation is called for and has, perhaps, a better chance of a fair test than at previous, more stable points in Greek economic history. The Thessaloniki workers have reached out for solidarity throughout Greece and received critical support. But, more help is needed.

Here’s what you can do:

- Spread the word. Share this information with friends, family and your Facebook and Twitter communities.

- Contribute money. Forging new anti-capitalist economic models is expensive. The costs of production are high and the first few months are critical. Whatever you can afford here will be devoted to a genuine effort to create a new way of doing things. Think of it as an investment in the future.

- Send solidarity statements to Thessaloniki’s Open Solidarity Initiative at protbiometal@gmail.com. The workers are encouraged by the warmth of solidarity coming from abroad.

Trayvon Martin - one year later.


From Color of Change:

One year ago, George Zimmerman shot and killed 17 year-old Trayvon Martin because he thought the young man looked suspicious.1 And one year later, what happened that night in Sanford, Florida still outrages us.


In a culture that inundates us with images of Black men as violent2 — not to be trusted, inherently criminal — we are continually reminded that something as simple as walking home from the corner store can draw unwanted attention that puts our very lives in danger. Black Americans face racial animosity every day, and far too often that animosity turns violent.

Tomorrow as we mourn, we must also acknowledge that if it weren't for the hundreds of thousands of you who spoke up to demand basic dignity and justice, Trayvon Martin's case would have been ignored — and George Zimmerman would have gone free. As our membership grows in number, so does our power to fight injustice. Please inspire others to join the fight by sharing this video with your friends and family.
 
The movement that came together to demand justice for Trayvon demonstrates the power of our collective voice. It's thanks to the pressure from more than 200,000 ColorOfChange members, the work of our allies and tireless advocacy of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin that George Zimmerman will answer in a court of law for killing Trayvon Martin.3
ColorOfChange fights racial injustice and the danger it presents to our basic safety. We organize campaigns against racially-motivated police practices like the NYPD's Stop and Frisk.4 And we're working to stop the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which pushed the "Shoot First" laws Zimmerman is using to claim his actions were justified.5

Our power comes from you, our members — courageous individuals from all walks of life who make bold demands and achieve important social change. Watch our powerful video about the campaign to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. Pledge to grow the movement to change our culture's treatment of Black youth by sharing this video with your friends and family. Encourage them to join the fight.

Thanks and Peace,

--Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Johnny, Lyla, Kim and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
  February 25th, 2013


Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU—your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don't share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way.



References
1. "Young, black and 'suspicious'," Salon, 03-20-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2282?t=9&akid=2822.1636697.S3uhUP
2. "Opportunity for Black Men and Boys: Public Opinion, Media Depictions, and Media Consumption," Opportunity Agenda, 11-30-11
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2280?t=11&akid=2822.1636697.S3uhUP
3. "Trayvon Martin: The Latest, Week 33," The Root, 10-18-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2284?t=13&akid=2822.1636697.S3uhUP
4. "Hundreds Rally at City Hall to End Stop and Frisk," ColorOfChange.org blog, 10-01-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2287?t=15&akid=2822.1636697.S3uhUP
5. "Stand Against 'Shoot First' Laws," ColorOfChange.org, 11-15-12
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/2288?t=17&akid=2822.1636697.S3uhUP

From KC Labor: The Bi-Partisan Sequester Brings the Circus With No Bread


Stupid Is....
Mike Hall exclaims on the AFL-CIO Blog,

“[House Speaker] Boehner’s sequester could cost more than 750,000 private- and public-sector workers their jobs this year alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”

Erskine Bowles, President Clinton’s Chief-of-Staff, and co-chair of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, characterized the coming “sequestration” slashing across all government programs great and small as “stupid, stupid, stupid!” It’s an assertion that can’t be refuted. It ranks right up there with Lunch Box Joe Biden’s advice to nervous women home alone to start blasting away with a shotgun in the vicinity of unseen suspected prowlers.

But Washington Post veteran Bob Woodward, who has been exposing White House deceit since the days of Watergate, reminds us the sequester deal originated with the current administration--to get an interim deal, the Budget Control Act of 2011. Woodward has a lot of documentation compiled while producing his book The Price of Politics. He writes in Saturday’s Post,

“Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved. Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise.”

They undoubtedly thought this plan would be “action-forcing” because even Congress could not be so stupid as to actually carry out random sequestration. But they may have underestimated the lack of intelligent design guiding their Capitol Hill adversaries. We now sit as petrified backseat passengers, without even seat belts or air-bags, watching headlights closing rapidly in a game of chicken.


The action the White House hoped for–and still craves–is a Grand Bargain where the other boss party shares responsibility for unconscionable, not to mention unpopular cuts in entitlements and other useful public sector programs. Bowles, and his Republican accomplice, deficit commission co-chair Warren Simpson, have not only bravely spoken against stupidity but have issued new dire deficit doomsday warnings.

Most economists dismiss imminent danger of deficit disaster and some of the top ones even call for stimulus rather than austerity. Some of the prime targets of the administration–such as Social Security and the US Postal Service--are self-financing and contribute nothing direct one way or another to budget deficit.

The only indirect ways Social Security impacts deficit is when Congress borrows money for other uses from Social Security and when Congress decides in an election season to stop collecting part of the SS payroll tax. In both cases, Congress incurs a debt to Social Security that must be repaid with interest. It requires a cynicism bigger than the national debt to use these examples to label old folk’s pension money as a budget buster.

As for Medicare, a recent e-mail blast from the pro-single-payer Physicians for a National Health Plan says,

“The traditional Medicare program allocates only 1 percent of total spending to overhead compared with 6 percent when the privatized portion of Medicare, known as Medicare Advantage, is included,” according to a study in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.

That’s the vaunted superior efficiency of the private sector at work.

It is not fair to either him or us for our leaders at the House of Labor to center their fire exclusively on Speaker Boehner. He’s only the mischievous clown in this circus. The ringmaster resides several blocks away. Some past ruling classes used to at least provide bread along with their circuses for the proletariat. Austerity precludes substance for our bodies--and the diversion of the Washington Big Show isn’t even entertaining any more.

February 24, 2013

Update on Kevin "Rashid" Johnson - 2/23/2013

From http://rashidmod.com/

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a New Afrikan Communist prison organizer and intellectual in the United States and one of the founders of the NABPP-PC (New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter). He has spent most of his adult life in the prison system and continually been subjected to political repression and violence in retaliation for his organizing efforts. He is currently held at Snake River Correctional Inst in Oregon.

A supporter recently received a very distressing letter informing us that Rashid was in a serious medical situation, and was not receiving adequate care. Details from this letter were circulated online, however are currently being removed in order to respect Rashid’s privacy.

On February 22, a lawyer managed to speak to Rashid. This was an invaluable first step, as up until then all we had to go by was a letter from a third party, which was already dated by the time it was received.

The good news is that new x-rays have confirmed that there are no razor-blades in his system and there is apparently no longer blood in his urine. Furthermore, Rashid is now drinking liquids.

According to the lawyer, the two biggest concerns currently are (1) that Rashid receive proper medical monitoring as he gets back to a normal diet, and (2) that he be allowed to receive his mail (which he says has been accumulating for more than a week in a box within sight of his cell).

Rashid explained to the lawyer that he currently has no access to his personal property and mail. Officials  have placed him on a security designation that precludes access to these  things, so he is unable to contact anyone or publish anything. He believes this is in retaliation for articles he published that are critical of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The pretext that the  officials are using to put him on this status is an alleged incident on January 28, 2012, even though he was cleared of any  misconduct in that incident after a disciplinary hearing. Furthermore, deprivation of property and mail  is not reasonably related to the alleged incident.
Rashid thinks thinks the best people to contact would be  Doug Yancey, the security threat manager for the Oregon Department of Corrections, and C. Schultz, the security threat manager at Snake River. They are the ones who made this decision to deprive him of his personal belongings.

As soon as we have phone numbers for Yancey and Schultz, we will post them here.
Apart a brief period in general population when he was transferred from Virginia to Oregon last tear, Rashid has spent close to twenty years in solitary isolation, as a direct result of his activities resisting abuse in various Virginia prisons in the 1990s, and to his political writings and articles documenting ongoing abuse in the prison system since then. Long-term isolation was developed during the Cold War as a method to neutralize political prisoners, both by cutting them off from the outside world, and by inflicting conditions upon them that are designed to inflict severe psychological/emotional distress.

Isolation imprisonment has been described as “clean torture,” for it does its damage without leaving any visible wounds. As Craig Haney of the University of California at Santa Cruz has noted, “There is not a single published study of solitary or supermax-like confinement in which nonvoluntary confinement lasting for longer than 10 days, where participants were unable to terminate their isolation at will, that failed to result in negative psychological effects. The damaging effects ranged in severity and included such clinically significant symptoms as hypertension, uncontrollable anger, hallucinations, emotional breakdowns, chronic depression, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.”

We see both aspects of the isolation-torture regimen playing themselves out in Rashid’s case. He is currently cut off from the outside world, deprived of his mail and of any easy means of informing us of what is going on with him, so that we need to rely on communications from third parties. At the same time, he continues to be held in conditions that are known and intended to be detrimental to his health and recovery.

We will continue to keep you abreast of the situation as it develops.

February 22, 2013

Political and Vegan Prisoners United In Hunger Strike

Dickerson Detention Facility & Wayne County Jail, Michigan, U.S.A. – February 22, 2013

“You can jail the revolutionary.  You can’t jail the revolution.” – Fred Hampton    
     
For our various actions in defense of the animals, the earth, or oppressed minorities, we are behind bars while the criminals who run this country are free to torture animals, rape the planet and jail dissenters with impunity.  We are the prisoners of conscience and the state needs to silence us.  They lock us in these cells to isolate us from the apathetic and complacent masses to allow their corruption to flourish unimpeded.

But we will never be silenced.  From behind bars, we will unite our respective struggles, we will recruit and multiply, and from the bowels of their system, our armies will rise.

In a demonstration of solidarity, defiance and organized resistance, several prisoners began a 7-day hunger strike at 12:01 a.m. this morning that will end at 11:59 p.m. on February 28.  We are inviting our friends, supporters and resisters everywhere to do what your conscience dictates and take actions in solidarity with us against oppressors and in defense of the earth and the animals all week long while we fast.  If we want to get a glimpse of what a cohesive resistance movement could look like, now is the time to stop using words and start taking coherent action.

The Hunger Strikers
Camille Marino (#2012027580) is the founder of Negotiation Is Over! (NIO) and a Vegan Animal Liberation activist.  After repeated arrests last year for exposing vivisectors, spending most of 2012 in jail, and enduring the FDLE raid on her home, she is currently serving 6 months at the Dickerson Detention Facility in Hamtramck, Michigan, where she continues to radicalize the inmates.

Ebony Malcom (#2012017262) is a Black Sovereign and aspiring vegan.  In a singularly blatant and corrupt fashion, her constitutional rights have been trampled and are being held in abeyance, due to her politics.  Rather than beg or plead with the oppressors for mercy, she has chosen to sit in jail indefinitely and petition the court of appeals.  She is incarcerated in Wayne County Jail in Detroit, Michigan, where she continues to radicalize the inmates.

Nichole Hollingsworth (#2010025850) is a federal prisoner being held at Dickerson while awaiting transfer to federal prison.  While she was victimized by the system, abused and manipulated by a corrupt older authority figure, and has made some mistakes, she is now vegan and committed to Animal Liberation.  She is working to make vegan meals available in jail (and prison) on religious grounds.  She is also becoming astute at weaving the vegan Animal Liberation message into the Christian ministry as a vehicle to reach and recruit the masses behind bars.

Carol Gilbert (#2013000776) is now a paraplegic who fights for the rights of the disabled.  Prior to her accident, 12 years in prison made her an active prison abolitionist.  She joins this hunger strike to shed light on the needs of disabled prisoners who, like the animals in the vivisectors’ labs, are abused, neglected, intimidated and forgotten.

Several recently-released prisoners from Dickerson, as well as local activists, are expected to gather outside the facility at 1:00 p.m. for a brief demonstration of unprecedented unity among different groups, to show resistance against all oppression, and promote the vegan agenda.
Racism and sexism were constructs of the white power patriarchy to keep different oppressed groups marginalized.  We must erase all of the imaginary lines that have served to factionalize us and reclaim our power.

Animal Liberation will be achieved when the detriments of animal abuse outweigh the benefits.


Founded by Camille Marino in 2008, NIO strives to be an instrument of defiance, disruption, disobedience, subversion, creative & aggressive grassroots action, and a catalyst for revolutionary change.

Contact:

Camille Marino
Dickerson Detention Facility
#2012027580
3501 Hamtramck Drive
Hamtramck MI 48212

Camille’s assistant:  Elizabeth Tobier, elizabethtobier@gmail.com, (917) 676-0383
###

February 21, 2013

Presentation: 'Living Under Drones' Feb 28 in Eugene

Date: 2013-02-28

Event Time: 7:00 pm

Location: First United Methodist Church
1376 OLIVE ST
EUGENE, OR

Organization: Oregon Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)

Description: Presentation: Living Under Drones

Leah Bolger, President of Veterans for Peace, will discuss her recent trip to Pakistan with a CodePink delegation of 31 Americans whose goal was to witness first-hand the devastation caused by U.S. drone air strikes over the past several years. While there, the delegation participated in an anti-drone rally and met with Pakistanis who have been victims of drone strikes. It is estimated that 450 to 800 civilians have been killed by U. S. drones since 2004, including 160 children.

Bolger herself served in the Navy from March 1980 until the summer of 2000, when she retired with the rank of Commander. In 2004, she moved to Corvallis, Oregon, and formed Chapter 132 of Veterans for Peace serving as its president for three years. In 2009 she was elected to the national Veterans for Peace Board of Directors and served as national vice-president until 2012 when she was reelected to her second term on the board, and to the office of national president. Veterans for Peace is dedicated to ending war as a tool of foreign policy and focuses its efforts on educating the public about the true costs of war.

Date: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St., Eugene
Cost: Free & Open to the Public
Sponsor: Oregon WAND - Women's Action for New Directions

For more information about this event, please visit http://www.oregonwand.org/upcoming-events.

Youth Empowered Action Camp 2013


Date: 2013-07-27 - 2013-08-03

Event Time: (All Day Event)

Organization: Youth Empowered Action (YEA)

More Info: http://www.yeacamp.org

Description: Life-Changing Summer Camp Opportunity for Youth Making a Difference!

Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a unique and inspiring leadership summer camp for youth 12-17 who care about community service, activism, and social justice. At a week-long sleep-away program in a beautiful camp setting, YEA campers choose an issue of importance to them (for example, some have chosen climate change, racism, homophobia, homelessness, or animal rights) and they build the knowledge, skills, confidence, and community to take action on that issue once they get home. Campers also build lifelong friendships between youth with similar interests in bettering their community and society. Youth who have participated in our programs report that the camp was one of the most fun, memorable and life-changing experiences they have had, and, with YEA’s support, many have gone on to start school clubs, plan fundraisers for nonprofits, organize a call-in to Congress, and attend hearings to comment about important community issues. Check out our short video or website www .yeacamp.org to learn more about this unique program.

“This camp has truly changed my life. You have inspired me to do so much with my life and to make the world a truly better place. You have inspired me to believe in myself and to not just say ‘I’m just a kid, what can I do?’ Because of you, I have been able to actually make a difference.” -Bianca, 15

YEA is offered in Portland, OR, Ben Lomond, CA and Charlton, MA. For dates see www.yeacamp.org
$975; some scholarships available
Contact: Laura Carver, 503-347-0223 laura@yeacamp.org www.yeacamp.org

Action Alert: Kevin Rashid Johnson, New African Communist prison organizer

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a New African Communist prison organizer and intellectual in the United States and one of the founders of the NABPP-PC (New African Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter). He has spent most of his adult life in the prison system and continually been subjected to political repression and violence in retaliation for his organizing efforts. He is currently held at Snake River Correctional Inst in Oregon.

After a long and uncharacteristic silence in communication with him and no information on his circumstances, a supporter received a letter from his cellmate (indicating Rashid was in a serious medical state.  Details about his medical condition have been deleted from this post.)

It is of the utmost importance to put ALL POSSIBLE PRESSURE on the Oregon DOC AS SOON AS POSSIBLE in order to protect this comrade's life!

UPDATE 2/22/12:  call 503.378.6188 to ask for information about Rashid, rather than the numbers listed below.

 Please call Snake River at 541-881-5000 and dial 0 to speak with a staff member and express your concern over the situation:

Also call the DOC Inspector General at (877) 678-4222 and Oregon DOC at 503-945-9090.

Fax number for Snake River Superintendent’s Office is (541)881-5460.

Email address of Snake River Superintendent Mark Nooth is mark.s.nooth@state.or.us.

Rashid’s inmate number is #19370490

Snake River is open 8-5 PST/MST. Further details on the situation and support actions will be posted here as they become available.

February 20, 2013

Stop The Deportation Of Rene Meza Huertha! : Clog Janet Napolitano's Phone Lines!!


Stop the Deportation of René Meza Huertha!


by George Shriver, Tucson

René Meza Huertha, a hard-working Tucson father of six, received national and international attention after Sunday, February 17, when he and his family were pulled over by the Tucson Police Department (TPD), on an alleged traffic violation.

 

Citing the notorious Arizona racial-profiling law, SB 1070, the TPD officers claimed there was “reasonable suspicion” to check René’s immigration status. TPD called the Border Patrol to detain René. At that point community organizer Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa intervened, placing himself beneath the Border Patrol vehicle.


Raúl later explained that the TPD had options. Only a traffic violation was involved, and there was no need to go into the question of immigration status. Even under SB 1070, the TPD was not obliged to do that. When Raúl asked on what basis the TPD officers claimed “reasonable suspicion” about René’s immigration status, they refused to answer.

To protest the Border Patrol’s being called in, and the handcuffing of René in front of his wife and children, Raúl tried to prevent the Border Patrol from taking René away. This family was being torn apart cold-bloodedly by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Raúl was also arrested by the Border Patrol, after being pepper-sprayed, and was charged with interfering with justice. In fact he was trying to prevent an injustice!

Raúl was released on Monday February 18, 2013, and was able to attend a colorful, diverse, and widely representative rally of nearly 400 community members in front of TPD headquarters on Stone Avenue south of Broadway. They demanded an end to local police collaboration with the Border Patrol and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The community has also flooded ICE phone lines, demanding that the deportation of René Meza Huertha be halted.

Supporters are being asked to call Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at 202-282-8495. This is an answering machine, and can be called 24 hours a day.

Also call John Morton, head of ICE, at 202-732-3100.

Fill up these answering machines with calls for René.

A sample message would be: “I am requesting that René Meza Huertha’s deportation be immediately deferred. René is currently being held in Tucson, Arizona, away from his wife and six children. His case number as a detainee is A# 098429796. Don’t deport René.”

At a time when Congress is considering an “immigration reform” bill promoted by the Obama administration, and when there is nationwide discussion around the fact that an estimated 11 million immigrants have been part of the U.S. workforce for years, even for decades, without always having “proper papers,” the Tucson community is demanding that SB 1070 be revoked, that detentions and deportations be stopped, and that no more families be torn apart, as in the case of René Meza Huertha.

As Alma Hernández of Tucson, who herself experienced detention and separation from her three young children, commented:  “We must end this attack on families. Detentions and deportations are destroying our community. We want dignity, equality, family unity, and freedom from criminalization.”

Stop making migration a crime. Instead, we must look at the root causes of migration, a worldwide phenomenon. People come here because they are in desperate circumstances—usually the result of U.S. foreign policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA and support for military dictatorships such as in Honduras. They come in search of a better life. They contribute the great wealth of their labor power to the U.S. economy. The vast majority of such migrants, worldwide, are only looking for work, for their own and their families’ livelihood.

On Tuesday, February 19, the day after the rally in front of TPD headquarters, another demonstration was held—this time in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Tucson. It was to protest against Operation Streamline, which uses speeded-up court procedures to impose criminal sentences on approximately 75 migrants every weekday—resulting in gains to private prisons-for-profit of about a million dollars or more every week. One sign at the rally summed the situation up quite well:  “Capital Crosses Borders—Why Not Labor?”

End Misogyny

THE RIGHT TO END VIOLENCE



People came together in Times Square, NYC to create a great presence, calling for an end to violence. Then we marched through the city in a single file procession, carrying signs held high, emboldened with messages in black and white:

END MISOGYNY
END RAPE
WE ARE A GREAT FORCE
WHAT WILL WE DO?
TOGETHER

WE WILL WALK TOGETHER AGAIN...
SAVE THE DATE:
MARCH 8, 2013
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

WILL YOU JOIN US?

Read message...ZERO TOLERANCE: END MISOGYNY http://bit.ly/VvK9rB

February 19, 2013

Save Six-Day Mail Delivery! Catch the spirit of 1970 on March 17!

Communities and Postal Workers United supports the NALC March 24th day of action to Save Six-Day Delivery and encourages our contacts to mobilize with NALC members, other postal unions, and community for events in your area (the NALC will designate locations for each local action). We encourage our supporters to bring the larger message of Save America's Postal Service -- No Closures, No Cuts, No Delay of the Mail! and Stop Privatization and Union Busting! Repeal the Pre-Fund and Refund the Pension Surplus -- to these March 24 actions.

For those CPWU affiliates and contacts who have planned actions for the CPWU national day of action, March 17th, the anniversary of the Great Postal Strike, we encourage you to follow through -- catch the spirit of 1970! Both days of action can compliment each other. Congress, the President and the Postmaster General must be shown the massive support of the American people for their constitutionally mandated postal service.

Organize an action (or two) in your city!


Solidarity!

Jamie Partridge

Join the Labor Solidarity Delegation to El Salvador April 28-May 4!




Join the Labor Solidarity Delegation, April 28-May 4!

The Salvadoran social movement is calling for international solidarity as they struggle against a US-backed Public-Private Partnership law to privatize El Salvador’s last public industries & infrastructure. Take on-the-ground action alongside the Salvadoran labor movement and march with 75,000 workers on International Workers' Day!
  • Share strategies to defend the public sector and union jobs with Salvadoran union leaders.
  • Speak out against US economic and political intervention.
  • Learn about labor organizing and building popular power under the country’s FIRST leftist government.
  • Take to the streets with over 75,000 workers on International Workers’ Day!
For more information, check out the CISPES web site.

PORTLAND: Aaron Dixon at PCC! My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain

Aaron Dixon at PCC! My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain
Thursday, 4:00pm - 6:00pm at Portland Community College, Cascade Campus, Student Center Cafeteria

Portland Can't Wait!! Rally For Paid Sick Days

Where: Portland Business Alliance, 200 SW Market St, Portland


(meet in front on Market St)
 
When: Monday February 25th, at 12 Noon

Portlander's need paid sick days, and now! Join us for a noon time rally in front of the Portland Business Alliance, a key opponent of Portland's Paid Sick Days Campaign. Help us send a message to the PBA on Monday that Portland needs paid sick days.

Also: Encourage City Council to vote in favor by coming to the next hearing on Wednesday February 27th at 2pm at City Hall. The vote is scheduled for Wednesday March 6, time to be confirmed.

February 18, 2013

SEIU Proposes Living Wage For Oregon State Workers: Once Again We See Gender Based Pay Inequity

Today it was announced that SEIU 503 supports a living wage for its workers and is taking it to the bargaining table. Hooray!! While President Obama has proposed an increase in the Federal Minimum Wage to $9.00 an hour, SEIU has a better idea.  They don't believe that is the solution.  Oregon's minimum wage is close to what Obama is proposing but 800,000 Oregonians are receiving food stamps   and 30% of the applicants are currently working.

The union is saying that no state employee working full time should still qualify for public assistance. The proposal they are making is to raise the wages to at least $30,000 per year which would be slightly above the threshold for a family of four to receive food stamps.  They estimate this would help 5.69% of the work force.

But there is another issue that hit some of us.  Heather Hoffman, the Statesman Journal's columnist who is assigned to keep an eye on those pesky state workers actually dug up some interesting statistics.  First she dug into a list of state employees and their salaries.  She found that the lowest paid full time worker makes $23,340.  But what was most interesting was that when she looked at salaries by agency she found that "many of the people in the pay sector below $30,000 worked for Department Of Human Services (DHS)".  But what she didn't continue to pursue does not require a lot of research.  The answer to the question is easy to find.  What is the gender breakdown of those workers in the agency that has the most number of workers who could qualify for food stamps?  Anyone who has worked for DHS knows that answer.  Or anyone who has walked into an office where food stamps or other poverty level assistance applications are being received knows the answer. These workers are predominately women.

So here we are again.  In 1987  when SEIU went on strike, (the historic rolling strike), one of the main issues was pay equity for women who were in job classifications that were predominately female and undervalued. In the preparation for that strike women workers spoke out in public hearings, met with women workers across the state and then voted overwhelming to strike.  In fact Michael Krivosh, the chief strategist of the strike, affectionately referred to our strike as, "my mother's strike".  Not only did we get pay increases for those undervalued job classifications it changed the face of the union - literally.

So now we are in 2013 and we are not looking at predominately female job classifications.  But we are looking at the agencies with the most women workers and they are the same agencies that have the most workers who qualify for food stamps. We are living in a system that continues to use women as a source of underpaid labor.  We fought against it in 1987 and we need to fight against it again.

No changes of any magnitude will come about without organized pressure from women themselves.  Certainly no effective strike will happen without women activists stepping forward. And for those of us who have gone through this struggle 20 some years ago, we know that this fight requires a prolonged and consistent commitment.  It didn't end in 1987 and it won't end in 2013 but we can achieve victories along the way if we just do not give up.

Sing for the Climate



Sing for the Climate Lyrics
We need to wake up
We need to wise up
We need to open our eyes
And do it now now now
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now
We’re on a planet
That has a problem
We’ve got to solve it, get involved
And do it now now now
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now
Make it greener
Make it cleaner
Make it last, make it fast
and do it now now now
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now
No point in waiting
Or hesitating
We must get wise, take no more lies
And do it now now now
We need to build a better future
And we need to start right now

February 15, 2013

Medicare: What The President Did And Did Not Say


From the Columbia Journalism Review
by Tracy Lieberman
The president’s State of the Union message may have sort of resolved the question: “Will he or won’t he touch Medicare? The answer: he probably will, a conclusion based on his cryptically grand rhetoric. The president called for those who care deeply about Medicare to “embrace the need for modest reforms—otherwise our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children.” Vague enough!
Next came some “specifics.” Obama said he was prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of healthcare savings by the beginning of the next decade as those proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission. The Simpson and Bowles reference probably flew over many heads. Three years ago, the president appointed the commission to recommend steps for reducing the deficit. It was chaired by the former Wyoming senator, Alan Simpson, and the former Clinton chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, and composed of Democrats and Republicans. They could not agree on final recommendations, but issued a report anyway. It’s time to dust it off.
The Simpson-Bowles plan called for a global budget for all federal government healthcare spending, and for limiting healthcare outlays to the rate of GDP growth plus one percent. And it laid out several changes to Medicare, with price tags for each adding up to billions.
What’s significant is that the proposals shift some of the cost of care from the federal government to seniors, along the lines of the bill introduced by Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, which we parsed last week. Like Corker’s bill, Simpson-Bowles would require seniors to pay one $550 deductible instead of separate deductibles for various Medicare services. And like Corker, seniors would have to pay $7,500 of their expenses out-of-pocket. As we wrote last week, that would be tough for millions of beneficiaries, considering that half of them have incomes of $24,000 or less.
Simpson-Bowles also restricts the amount that insurance companies can reimburse a beneficiary for medical expenses under a Medigap policy—the “skin-in-the-game” method of controlling medical costs, meaning that if seniors have to pay more they will use fewer medical services. Indeed, the Simpson-Bowles document asserts that Medicare’s “benefit structure encourages over-utilization of health-care,” a point state insurance commissioners have found dubious. So to fix this “problem” and make seniors pay more, Medigap policies would be prohibited from covering the first $500 of expenses and only 50 percent of the next $5,000 of expenses a beneficiary racks up.
Was the president hinting that he was prepared to embrace that kind of cost-shifting?
The Simpson-Bowles blueprint also opens the door for converting Medicare from social insurance into a voucher plan. Remember that’s what Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan proposed to do when he was running for vice president, and the president strongly opposed it. But Simpson-Bowles proposes a pilot project: changing the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program into a voucher arrangement, by giving each worker a fixed amount to buy health insurance and letting retired workers use that subsidy to pay for health insurance premiums. Simpson-Bowles argued that such a test would provide “real-world experience” with vouchers. Would the president go for a test drive?
He did mention that he would ask the “wealthiest” seniors to pay more, whatever that means. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that some changes in that vein can eventually result in seniors with incomes around $47,000 range in 2012 dollars paying higher premiums. Most important, the president is “open to additional reforms from both parties so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement.” That, too, could mean anything—good, bad, indifferent, or, possibly, devastating to seniors and their “secure retirement.” Obama left the devil hidden in the details.
The media didn’t delve into the Simpson-Bowles part. Most didn’t mention it. Medpage Today did, but then it isn’t The New York Times, which simply noted in a news analysis that Obama gave a nod to put entitlement programs on the table.

February 14, 2013

Eju-mi Paraguay pe! Please come to Paraguay!

Eju-mi Paraguay pe! Please come to Paraguay!

Oñondive, Jajapota! Thirty years ago the people of Paraguay showed me the meaning of that phrase which in Guarani means “Together, We will do it”. I had come to Paraguay to work as a nurse in response to a request by local schoolteachers to help get a rural health clinic started. “Together, We will do it!” In spite of material poverty, the hospitality and generosity of my neighbors was rich. And in the face of repression and violence suffered by friends under the brutal regime of General Stroessner, the dignity and resistance around me was impressive. It wasn’t until after I had lived there over a year that my Paraguayan father whispered to me about the torture to which he had been subjected.

I returned to Paraguay many summers in succession to continue with the clinic and to teach health or nursing classes. The repression that had led to the death and disappearance of thousands of Paraguayans at the hands of the repressive military regime continued. To my chagrin, many of those responsible for torture and assassinations had been trained in my own country, at the School of the Americas. I became active with the SOA Watch movement and joined their Legislative Working Group to rally support for a bill to close the SOA in Congress.

Today I write you today to share an invitation from my Paraguayan friends: Eju-mi Paraguay pe! Please come to Paraguay!  Paraguay is in great need of international solidarity at this moment! Organizations in Paraguay with whom SOA Watch partners have specifically asked SOAW for solidarity at this time. Please consider joining us on an SOA Watch Delegation to Paraguay from April 16-24th.

On April 21st elections will take place that will either legitimize or question a regime that toppled President Fernando Lugo last June. A bloody confrontation between landless peasants and police forces was used by Paraguay's right wing congress as a pretext to remove Lugo, an ex-bishop inspired by liberation theology. Lugo ran on a platform of agrarian reform and justice and accountability for past human rights violations and his 2008 victory ended the 61-year rule of Stroessner’s Colorado Party.

The “express coup” was condemned throughout the region, and Paraguay was removed from UNASUR and Mercosur by fellow Latin American governments.

The SOA Watch Delegation to Paraguay will focus on observing the presidential elections, as well as on issues of violations of human rights, criminalization of social protest and the struggle for land rights leading to the militarization of the north. For those wanting to experience one of the most stunningly beautiful spots on the planet, we invite you to participate in the 2-day extension of the delegation to Yguazu Falls. Please consider joining us! For more information, contact Lisa Sullivan, or call Mary Anne Perrone at 734-996-9390, or download the application here.

For those who cannot travel as far as Paraguay, we hope that you can join us in Washington for the SOAW April Days of Action. Or consider going an another SOAW delegations to the US/Mexico border in May and to Chile in September.

Next month other SOA Watch activists will be visiting Costa Rica and El Salvador to ask that they withdraw their troops from the SOA, as have done 6 other nations. Keep tuned for how you can help with these efforts. Whether it be by congress, the courts, or attrition, we will close this school! As my Paraguayan teachers told me: Oñondive, Jajapota! Together, We Will Do It! And each of us is helping to make that happen.

Please consider joining us in my beloved Paraguay, bajo el cielo Guarani, and if you can't make it, please know that we bring the strength of your support and solidarity.

In Solidarity,

Theresa Cameranesi
SOA WATCH Council.

PORTLAND: Two Labor Solidarity Events

MOVIE: "Papers, Stories of Undocumented Youth"

DATE: Thursday, February 21st, 2013
TIME: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) office, 345 NE 8th Avenue (corner of NE 8th & NE Everett)

PHONE #: (503) 233-5018

SPONSORED BY: PAT's Community & Human Relations Committee


Lessons from The GREAT POSTAL STRIKE --Catch the spirit of 1970!

Documentary videos followed by discussion

Saturday, February 23rd, 5:30 – 7pm
Letter Carriers Union Hall
5265 NE 42nd (s. of Killingsworth)
Food and drink; donation: $5 – 10 – to benefit PCPWU
Sponsors: Portland Communities and Postal Workers United & NALC Branch 82
Info: 503-752-5112