Thursday, October 28, 2010

10-29-10 Activist Calendar

Oct. 29, 2010, Issue #650,
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Dedicated to Helping Activist Movements in the Hudson Valley
Editor's Note:

A total of 165 people, more than half of whom were students, attended our public meeting Oct. 27 on "The Perfect Storm: Environmental Crisis Plus Endless Wars and Global Poverty." Texts of some of the talks will be published in the next issue of the Activist Newsletter.

Our next public meeting is a collaboration with Middle East Crisis Response. It's Wednesday, Nov. 10 (below), titled "Crisis in Israel/Palestine — What do Americans Need to Know? What is the Palestinian Side of the Story?"


Friday, Oct. 29, POUGHKEEPSIE
: The documentary film, "The Dark Side of Chocolate" will be shown at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 67 S. Randolph Ave., 7-9 p.m. The film documents the trafficking of children, slavery, and child labor in the international chocolate industry.  Donation is requested.  Non-complicit chocolate will be served. Information, (845) 471-6580, (845) 452-4013,,

Friday, Oct. 29, NEW PALTZ:
A fundraiser for Charity Water will be held at the Slash Root Tech Café, 60 Main St. Starting at 7 p.m. there will be music (Sophia Wortzel, Sekanjabin, Marigo Farr) and a costume contest. The cost is $4 at the door. Proceeds go toward providing safe drinking water to a village of 250 people suffering from water-borne illnesses. Information,, (845) 633-8330,

Friday, Oct. 29, CATSKILL: Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins will speak and answer questions 4 p.m. election rally at Leggio Park at the corner of Water and Main Sts. For information about his campaign,

Saturday, Oct. 30, KINGSTON
: Join others in a "Walk for a Free Palestine" starting at 12:30 p.m. at Dietz Stadium parking lot. People in Kingston will join others in 45 cities across America in the Second Annual Free Palestine Walks, sponsored by the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights. The aim of this silent walk is to raise awareness about the movement, and to raise funds.  Registration fee is $20, and you will receive a T-shirt.  Information,

Monday, Nov. 1, POUGHKEEPSIE: Author,  historian and peace activist Lawrence Wittner will discuss "How to Grow Local Organizations" in a 7 p.m. talk at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, 67 South Randolph Ave. Wittner, a professor of history at SUNY Albany and a board member of Peace Action, will discuss how to expand the membership of grassroots activist organizations. "All Mid-Hudson activists and organizations are welcome to attend" this free event sponsored by Dutchess Peace. Information,

Monday, Nov. 1, NEW PALTZ (SUNY Campus): The documentary, "Freeing Silvia Baraldini" will be shown at Lecture Center 102 at 6 p.m., followed by a Q&A with the director.  This award winning film tells the story of an Italian immigrant who became an American radical when she was convicted of helping to free a Black Panther from prison. Co-sponsored by the Departments of History, Black Studies, Foreign Languages, Women's Studies, Sociology and Political Science, and the Progressive Academic Network. Information, Campus map,

Monday, Nov. 1, OLD CHATHAM: A free public showing of the documentary "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai," followed by a moderated discussion, will take place  7-9 p.m. at the Powell House Quaker Conference and Retreat Center, 524 Pitt Hall Rd. (off Columbia County Rt. 13). Here is what the film notes say about this one hour 20 minute 2008 production: "Planting trees for fuel, food and timber is not something usually associated with winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Yet with that simple act, Wangari Maathai helped spark a movement to reclaim Kenya's land from a century of deforestation while providing new sources of livelihood to rural communities. The tree-planting groups that formed were a community-building context for women to come together and become involved in resolving their local challenges. The documentary tells the story of Kenya's Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization encouraging rural women and families to plant trees in community groups." The sponsor is Old Chatham Quaker Meeting. Information, (518) 766-2992, The film's at Directions,

Monday, Nov. 1, ALBANY: The film, "Amreeka" will be screened at the Pine Hills Branch of the Public Library, 517 Western Ave. at 6:30 p.m. This comedic drama tells of the happenings of a single mother who leaves the West Bank with dreams of a better future in the promised land of Illinois. This is a free event, with refreshments to follow. Information, (518) 465-5425,,

Thursday, Nov. 4, NEW PALTZ: The PBS documentary "Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet" will start at 7 p.m. at Elting Library, 93 Main St. at North Front St. (The free parking lot is behind the library.)The program notes for the 2002 film say it's "The story of the seventh century prophet who changed world history in 23 years, and continues to shape the lives of more than 1.2 billion people. The film takes viewers not only to ancient Middle Eastern sites where Muhammad's story unfolds, but into the homes, mosques and workplaces of some of America's estimated 7 million Muslims, to discover the many ways in which they follow Muhammad's example." This free showing is sponsored by New Paltz Neighbors for Peace. Information, (845) 255-4815,

Thursday, Nov. 4, CATSKILL: Amy Goodman, the host of the hour-long weekday Democracy Now! TV/radio/internet program, will appear 6:30-8:30 p.m. at this Hudson River town's Community Theatre of Catskill, 323 Main St., as part of a fundraiser for the new Community Radio station WGXC. She will give a talk on Promoting Social Justice Through Independent Media and sign copies of her new book "Breaking the Sound Barrier." Tickets are $25. WGXC is online and expected to launch its FM signal on 90.7-FM this fall. It's located at, where you can order tickets for the Goodman talk. Information,

Friday, Nov. 5, TROY: Author Scott Christianson will discuss his new book, "The Last Gasp: The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber," at a 7 p.m. public meeting at The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 6th Ave. and 101st St. in North Troy. We're told: "The Last Gasp takes us to the dark side of human history in the first full chronicle of the gas chamber in the United States,... originally touted as a 'humane' method of execution." Admission  is by donation ($10 suggested, $5 student/low income). Information, (518) 272-2390,, http//

Sunday, Nov. 7, NEW PALTZ: Progressive editor/journalist Ben Dangl will discuss his new book about social movements in Latin America titled "Dancing with Dynamite" in a 6 p.m. free public meeting at New Paltz Village Hall, 25 Plattekill Ave. (a block south of Main St. (Rt. 299). We're informed the book will address the internal and external dynamics of "grassroots social movements that played major roles in electing left-leaning governments throughout Latin America" during the last decade, suggesting that "subsequent relations between the streets and the states remain uneasy." Democracy Now's Amy Goodman says "Ben Dangl breaks the sound barrier, exploding many myths about Latin America that are all-too-often amplified by the corporate media in the United States. Read this much-needed book." It should be a good meeting. The free event sponsored by the Caribbean and Latin America Support Project (CLASP) begins after an optional potluck starting at 5 p.m. Information, (845) 255-0113,

Sunday, Nov. 7, POUGHKEEPSIE (Vassar College Campus): A Fair Trade Bazaar and Ethical Shopping Experience will be held at The Aula at Ely Hall, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. An international marketplace with crafts, clothing, food, live music and more. Information, (845) 452-4013,, Campus map,

Tuesday, Nov. 9, ROSENDALE: The documentary "Gasland" will be screened at 7 p.m. at the Rosendale Theater, followed by a discussion featuring Democratic State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.  This new film by Josh Fox exposes the extreme dangers of the fracking (horizontal hydraulic fracturing) process of extracting natural gas. The State Senate has issued a temporary moratorium in New York State and the Assembly has yet to vote. The cost is $6. (Gasland will also be shown at SUNY New Paltz Nov. 17.) Theater information, (845) 658-8968.

Wednesday, Nov. 10, NEW PALTZ (SUNY campus): A public meeting titled "Crisis in Israel/Palestine" will  take place in the auditorium of the Coykendall Science Building on campus. The subtitle asks two questions: What do Americans Need to Know? What is the Palestinian Side of the Story? This 7 p.m. event is co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Middle East Crisis Response, and Peace and Social Progress Now. The campus sponsor is the Muslim Students Association. A main purpose of the educational event, according to the organizers, will be to discuss "the Palestinian side of the story because the great majority of Americans have only been exposed to the views of Israel and the United States and not to those of the Palestinians.  A clear understanding of the Israel/Palestine crisis is possible only by knowing the actual  facts about both sides of this question." Speakers at the meeting include Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and now a tireless peace and justice activist who took part in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla; Joel Kovel, a retired professor and author of a dozen books, the latest being "Overcoming Zionism";  Jack A. Smith, editor of the Activist Newsletter; Nada Khader, executive director of the WESPAC Foundation, and a Palestinian American who has served as a consultant for the UN Development Program in Gaza; Jane Toby, who teaches at SUNY/NP and founded the first Hudson Valley branch of Women in Black; Mariam Haris, a Muslim student at SUNY New Paltz; Faris Giacaman, a Palestinian student at Bard College; Hannah Schwarzchild, representing the organization "American Jews for a Just Peace"; and Paul Rehm, a Christian pacifist who took part in a recent peace mission to Hebron in the West Bank. The MC is Donna Goodman. Information, (845) 255-5779, Campus map, Directions,

Wednesday, Nov. 10, DELMAR: A potluck dinner and fundraiser to support the legal defense of Pfc. Bradley Manning will take place 6:30-9 p.m. at Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Ave. Manning is accused by the U.S. military of leaking the video called "Collateral Murder" to the WikiLeaks web site. Manning was charged in June with being the source of the leak last April. The 22-year-old intelligence analyst is accused of disclosing a classified video showing U.S. Army Bravo Company 2-16 in Iraq shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in 2007. Twelve people were killed, including two Reuters employees. Two children were critically injured. No charges, of course, have been filed against the soldiers who did the killing. We're told: "Participants are asked to bring a dish to share, and are asked to consider bringing an appropriate book, CD, DVD, baked goods or services to donate toward a silent auction. A number of local merchants are donating gift certificates for this event. The suggested donation is $10, "more or less as per your ability." This event is sponsored by Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace and Tom Paine Chapter of Veterans for Peace. Information,, (518) 466-1192,

Friday, Nov. 12, SAUGERTIES: "Sonando-12th Annual Benefit Dance and Art and Craft Sale for Haiti's Reconstruction" will take place at Ric Orlando's New World Home Cooking, 1411 Rt. 212, 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Suggested donation for dance is $20, arts and crafts fair is free. Sponsored by Haitian People's Support Project and New World Home Cooking. Information, (845) 679-7320,

Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12-13, ALBANY: A working conference to build the Northeast food system will take place at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center, 660 Albany Shaker Rd., with pre-conference trainings taking place on Friday, Nov. 11.  Join others to build sustainable agriculture in the Northeast region of the U.S. A full agenda, schedule and registration can be found at  Registration fee is $180.  Information, and to find out about sponsorships, or become a sponsor, contact Amy Little at (845) 255-0822, (845) 853-3440,

Saturday, Nov. 13, RHINEBECK: The Mid-Hudson Larreynaga Sister City Benefit Dance will be held at the Church of the Messiah Parish Hall at 6436 Montgomery St. at 7:30 p.m., with the band Cuboricua. Admission is $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit the children and village of Rhinebeck's sister city, Larreynaga, Nicaragua. Free door prize ticket to donors of non-perishable food items for the church food pantry. Sponsored by Mid-Hudson Larreynaga Sister City and Dutchess Peace. Information (845) 876-3779,,

Monday, Nov. 15, DELMAR: Tom Ellis, a member of the regional Palestinian Rights Committee, will discuss the book "Rounded Up: Artificial Terrorists and Muslim Entrapment After 9/11." The book details the FBI's terrorism case of Albany immigrants/residents Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain. Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace is the sponsor. Information. (518) 466-1192,

Wednesday, Nov. 17. ALBANY (SUNY Uptown Campus): Norman Finkelstein, the author and critic of Israeli policies, will speak on Israel/Palestine After the Gaza/Flotilla attack at 8 p.m. in Lecture Center 18 on campus, 1400 Washington Ave. This free public meeting is sponsored by the Palestine Rights Committee, Justice and Peace in Palestine Alliance, and University at Albany Amnesty International. Information,, Campus map:

Wednesday, Nov. 17, POUGHKEEPSIE: A free screening of the classic 1964 film, "The Americanization of Emily" will be shown at the Adriance Library Community Room, 93 Market St., at 6 p.m. This free film features James Garner, Julie Andrews, Melvin Douglas, and James Coburn.  It is a charming antiwar comedy set during the lead up too D-Day in Europe. Part of Dutchess Peace's "Give Peace a Film" series. Sponsored by Dutchess Peace. Information, (845) 876-7906,

Wednesday, Nov. 17, NEW PALTZ (SUNY campus)
: A free and public 7 p.m. screening of the documentary "Gasland" will be held at a campus location to be announced soon (email Ryan at for information). This new film by Josh Fox exposes the extreme dangers of the fracking (horizontal hydraulic fracturing) process of extracting natural gas. The State Senate has issued a temporary moratorium in New York State and the Assembly has yet to vote. The event is sponsored by NYPIRG and the Environmental Task Force.

Thursday, Nov. 18, NEW PALTZ: A "Hydro-Fracking Mini Forum" — a good follow-up to "Gasland" — will begin at 7 p.m. at New Paltz Village Hall, 25 Plattekill Ave., a block south of Main St. (Rt. 299). The free event is  sponsored by the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, which says "bring your questions and ideas." (The coalition meets every Thursday at Village Hall, 5-6:30 p.m., and encourages local residents to "join and learn about our programs.") Information, (845) 255-9297.

Thursday, Nov. 18, RHINEBECK: Dr. Sacha Spector, Scenic Hudson's director of Conservation Science, will discuss how the latest climate predictions will affect Hudson Valley residents in a discussion titled, "Our Fight Against Global Climate Change," to be held at the Starr Library, 67 W. Market St. at 6:30 p.m.  Information, contact Anthony Coneski at (845) 473-4440, ext. 273,

Wednesday, Dec. 1, PORT EWEN: Dr. Sacha Spector will discuss "Our Fight Against Global Climate Change (see Nov. 18 just above), at the Town of Esopus Library, 128 Canal St. at 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

10-21-10 Activist Calendar

Oct. 19, 2010, Issue #650
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[EDITOR'S NOTE: We can use some volunteer help posting our leaflet for the Oct. 27 public meeting in New Paltz  on "The Perfect Storm: Environmental Crisis plus Endless Wars and Global Poverty." (See last item below.) We're covered in New Paltz and southern Ulster but want to get on bulletin boards and wherever there are public announcements in Woodstock, Rosendale, Kingston, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh as well as Vassar, UCCC and DCC. Inform us of your availability by email and we will send you a pdf version of the leaflet. If you incur more than minimal expenses, we'll reimburse. Thanks, Jack.


[Our Oct. 19 calendar also includes some other events in the next few days.]

Friday, Oct. 22, NEWBURGH: A rally to support the Newburgh Four will take place 4-6 p.m. at the corner of Broadway and Liberty St., one block from City Hall. The four Newburgh men were found guilty by a federal jury in New York City Oct. 18. Accusations against them included alleged plans to shoot down military aircraft and to bomb synagogues. Their lawyers and supporters in the Hudson Valley argue that the men were entrapped by the FBI. Rally organizers say: "These  four African American men did not plan the crime and had no means or  intent to commit such a crime, and yet they have been convicted and face life in  prison. A government agent provocateur was implanted in Newburgh, one of the poorest cities in New York, and with offers of food, money,  marijuana, cars and vacations, lured the four into collaborating on so-called terror plots." The rally is endorsed by WESPAC Foundation, Project SALAM, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia, the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter and Peace and Social Progress Now. Information, (845) 569-8662,

Friday, Oct. 22, KINGSTON: A performance and discussion of "Words of Choice" created by feminist Cindy Cooper will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Creative Education, 20 Thomas St. This event is sponsored by Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley and Ulster County YWCA. Suggested donation is $10, $5 students. RSVP and information, (845) 294-9975 ext. 115,

Saturday, Oct. 23, NEW PALTZ: The well known progressive topical singer-musician David Rovics will appear at the Slash Root Tech Café, 60 Main St. A potluck dinner begins at 6 p.m. After warm up speakers, Rovics will go on at 8 p.m. A $15 donation is requested. Information, (845) 633-8330.

Sunday, Oct. 24, COBLESKILL: A screening of the award-winning documentary "Gasland" will start at 3:30 p.m. the Cobleskill-Richmondville High School Theater. The free public event is about director Josh Fox's "cross-country odyssey to uncover the secrets, lies and consequences of gas drilling using hydraulic fracking in the U.S." It's sponsored by Schoharie Valley Watch. Information,

Monday, Oct. 25, SCHENECTADY: The Public Library's McChesney Room (99 Clinton St.) is the venue for a 7 p.m. showing of "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train," the film about the late progressive historian Howard Zinn. This 78-minute 2004 documentary features rare archival materials and interviews with Zinn's colleagues and friends, including Noam Chomsky, Marian Wright Edelman, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden and Alice Walker. The sponsor of this free event is Schenectady Neighbors for Peace. Information, (518) 346-0517,

Wednesday, Oct. 27, ANNANDALE (Bard Campus): Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies will deliver a 7 p.m. talk on U.S. Middle East Policy at the Weiss Cinema on campus. Information,

Friday, Oct. 29, NEW PALTZ: A fundraiser for Charity Water will be held at the Slash Root Tech Café, 60 Main St. Starting at 7 p.m. there will be music (Sophia Wortzel, Sekanjabin, Marigo Farr) and a costume contest. The cost is $4 at the door. Proceeds go toward providing safe drinking water to a village of 250 people suffering from water-borne illnesses. Information,, (845) 633-8330,


Wednesday, Oct. 27, NEW PALTZ (SUNY campus): A major meeting, titled "The Perfect Storm: Environmental Crisis plus Endless Wars and Global Poverty," will take place at 7 p.m. at the Coykendall Science Building auditorium on the SUNY campus.

Speaking at this free public meeting will be four SUNY professors, two students and four Mid-Hudson community activists. They will largely discuss climate change, but war and poverty will also be noted in two talks since together they "combine to create the perfect storm of impending global devastation," according to the organizers.

The event is sponsored by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter/Calendar and the local group Peace and Social Progress Now (PSPN). The  Campus sponsor is Environmental Task Force. The event is endorsed by Climate Action Coalition, SUNY Progressive Academic Network, New Paltz Students for Sustainable Agriculture, Students for Fresh Water, SUNY NP Recycling Club, Ulster County Move-On Council, Women in Black New Paltz, Hudson Valley Single Payer, Caribbean & Latin America Support Project, Arts for Peace, New Paltz Greens, Dutchess Greens, Dutchess Peace Coalition, and Mid-Hudson ANSWER.

The speakers include Sociology Professors Brian Obach and Irwin Sperber, Education Professor  Kate McCoy, and Geography Professor Salvatore Engel-DiMauro, and student activists Claire Papell and Nick DePalma.

The community activist speakers include Donna Goodman, a co-chair of PSPN who is also an elected statewide delegate from the SUNY New Paltz chapter of United University Professions; Ariana Basco, a recent SUNY graduate, member of the New Paltz town Police Commission, and a local environmental organizer; Ann Guenther an anti-fracking campaigner with Climate Action Coalition; and Jack A. Smith, editor of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter and Calendar and the other co-chair of PSPN.

The Coykendall auditorium is directly opposite the Lecture Center on campus. If you are not familiar with the campus, here are directions and a map:, Scope out the nearest parking lots and leave yourself a bit of extra time. Information,, (845) 255-5779.



[Editor's Note: It's fashionable to blame foreign trade — especially with China — for America's huge decline in manufacturing jobs. But is it true? According to economist Arthur Macewan it's much more complex than that. Macewan, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, answers reader questions at Dollars & Sense magazine, under the name "Dr. Dollar." Here a question and his answer from the progressive magazine's September-October issue.]

Dear Dr. Dollar: Many times I have read (in writings by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, for example) or heard it said (by President Obama, for example) that technology is eliminating more manufacturing jobs in the United States than rising imports. Is that true? — Kevin Rath, Oakland, Calif.

The former labor secretary and the president are right — at least if by “technology” we mean all sources of increases in output per worker, whether by greater use of machinery, work reorganization, or plain old speed-up.

Consider the years from 1990 to 2007. In this period, the supply of manufactured goods in the United States (production plus imports) roughly doubled (in inflation-adjusted, or “real,” terms). Had the share of imports stayed the same and had productivity (output per worker) stayed the same, employment too would have roughly doubled (assuming workers worked just as many hours, an issue I will come back to below). But that’s not what happened. In 2007, manufacturing employed about 76% as many people as in 1990, 13.431 million as compared to 17.695 million.

In fact, both productivity and the share of imports in total supply increased substantially between 1990 and 2007. Output per worker in manufacturing rose dramatically, by roughly 88% in real terms. Imports rose from 27% of the total supply of manufactured goods in the United States in 1990 to 48% in 2007. So the amount of domestic output, instead of doubling along with the doubling of supply, increased by only 43% (in real terms).

To figure out which of these factors—productivity or the share of imports in total supply—had the larger quantitative impact on employment, let’s look at two fictitious cases that allow us to examine each factor separately:

Case 1: Productivity increases by 88%, but the share of imports stays the same. If supply doubles, domestic output will also double. Employment will rise, but only by approximately 6% because with an 88% increase in productivity, each worker is yielding a larger output. Only 6% more workers are necessary to produce twice as much output.

Case 2: The import share increases from 27% to 48%, but productivity stays the same. If supply doubles, domestic output will rise by 43% (as it actually did). And if productivity stays the same, employment would therefore also increase by 43%.

It is clear that the increase in productivity had a quantitatively larger impact in limiting employment growth than did the increase in the share of imports.

Job-loss in manufacturing presents serious problems. Some people lose their jobs and most are unlikely to get jobs that pay equivalent wages, even if overall employment picks up. These people suffer, and so do their families and communities. More broadly, the strong unions that developed in manufacturing are weakened, undercutting the economic and political strength of all working people.

But these negative impacts don’t have to take place. There is no good reason why we have to accept the choices of cutting foreign trade or cutting jobs, of reducing technological change or reducing jobs, or, for that matter, of destroying the environment (e.g., off-shore drilling and clear cutting of forests) or destroying jobs. Instead we can find ways to prevent the costs of economic changes from falling on workers, their families, and their communities.

One positive step would be to assure that productivity gains yield shorter work-weeks with no cut in pay—that is, no loss in the number of jobs. After all, this has happened before. Also, we need to establish the conditions for rebuilding strong unions in all segments of the economy—for example, by passing the Employee Free Choice Act and assuring that the National Labor Relations Board does its job. In addition, we need an array of good social programs such as, “Medicare for all” so people don’t lose their health care benefits when they lose their jobs. Likewise, better support for education and training programs for all workers—not just those affected by imports—are essential to facilitate their adjustment to change.

There may be good reasons to place some restrictions on technological changes or foreign trade—for example, when they generate environmental destruction, when they place workers in danger, or in conditions of virtual slavery (in the exporting countries). When we are forced to choose between the gains from trade or technology versus the well-being of workers directly affected, most often we should choose the well-being of the workers. The real solution to these problems, however, is to find ways to change the choices.

Whatever steps we take, we need to recognize that foreign trade is not the only cause—not even the quantitatively most important cause—of the decline in manufacturing employment

By Simon Butler

A strong agreement at Copenhagen was scuttled by the rich nations’ refusal to commit to deep emissions cuts.  No legally-binding agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions will be made at this year’s big United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico from November 29 to December 10.

And that’s just the way the rich nations want it. Few world leaders are even expected to turn up to the Cancun talks. For months, key players have tried to dampen down public hopes that the summit will mark a shift away from business as usual.

The British Guardian columnist George Monbiot wrote on September 20 that it was time for climate action campaigners to accept the UN process was dead.

The huge threat posed by dangerous climate change, and the need for an urgent response, may make this painful to admit for some. But the facts speak for themselves.

A September 21 AFP article reported that top US climate negotiator Todd Stern said bluntly: “No one is anticipating or expecting in any way a legal treaty to be done in Cancun this year.”

For two decades, successive US governments have fought against any legally-binding climate treaty. The US is the only nation in the world to not sign on to the existing Kyoto protocol treaty.

But this year, UN officials have also downplayed hopes for much progress at Cancun — or beyond.

On June 9, Associated Press reported that UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said: “I don’t believe that we will ever have a final agreement on climate, certainly not in my lifetime.” (JS: She's 54.)

Figueres’s statement marked a shift in the UN’s rhetoric — and a win for the big polluting nations bent on sabotaging strong climate action.

Before the December 2009 UN climate talks in Copenhagen, UN officials urged member nations to agree to a new, binding treaty to replace the existing Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.

A strong agreement at Copenhagen was scuttled by the rich nations’ refusal to commit to the deep emissions cuts demanded by the world’s least developed nations.

Developed nations also led a charge to kill off the Kyoto protocol, which requires rich countries to make bigger emissions cuts than poor countries.

Copenhagen ended in a stalemate. Many poor countries refused to endorse the so-called Copenhagen Accord that was proposed by the US, China, India and South Africa. Most rich nations, including Australia, supported the accord.

By contrast, developing countries have insisted that cuts of 40%-50% by 2020 are needed.

The Guardian reported on August 4 that the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Third World Network had released a study that found various loopholes in the accord would actually allow emissions to rise by as much as 9% by 2020 (on 1990 levels).

The accord also proposed a global warming target of a 2°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels, despite the call from the Association of Small Island States to limit warming to a safe level of less than 1.5°C. founder Bill McKibben said in a December 19 statement that the Copenhagen Accord was “a declaration that small and poor countries don’t matter, that international civil society doesn’t matter, and that serious limits on carbon don’t matter”.

Yet this year, the rich countries have pushed to make the Copenhagen Accord the basis of Cancun negotiations.

The April 11 London Observer revealed that European Union (EU) and US diplomats had threatened African countries with cuts in humanitarian aid unless they dropped their opposition to the accord.

The same month, the US suspended its climate aid programs to Bolivia and Ecuador because the two countries had refused to back the accord.

Preliminary UN climate talks held in August in Bonn, Germany, ended without any positive news. After Bonn, the EU’s climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: “These negotiations have, if anything, gone backwards,” reported on August 9.

Another round of talks in the Chinese city of Taijing, the last before Cancun, ended on October 9. Ironically, Taijing was not the first-choice venue. The conference was supposed to take place on the Chinese island of Hainan. But in the days before the talks opened, the island was hit by a freak, nine-day rainstorm, which caused the worst flooding in 50 years.

The October 11 China Daily said the rains affected 2.5 million people and forced the evacuation of 336,000 residents. Local crops were wiped out, vegetable prices rose by 30% and medicine supplies ran low.

Yet the rich nations were unmoved. The head of Bolivia’s delegation, Pablo Solon, told on October 6: “We don’t see any kind of movement [at Taijing] from developed countries to increase the level of emissions reduction.”

Instead, several developed nations, including Australia, Japan, Russia, New Zealand and Canada, used the meeting to announce “they want to do away with the Kyoto Protocol,” said the October 11 Malaysian Star.

It is clear the existing framework will not allow for the urgent action required. Much greater struggle is required against the powerful forces that rich nations’ governments are in bed with.

This article appeared Oct. 17 in Australia's Green Left Weekly.

By Economic Policy Institute (Oct. 20)

Not all Americans are living longer than they were a generation ago. In 2006 (the latest figures), the top income half of men who reached age 65 were expected to live another 21.5 years, but lower half income of  men had a median life expectancy of only an additional 16.1 years — a difference of five years and four months.

While life expectancy for higher-income men increased more than five years between 1986 and 2006, life expectancy for lower-income men rose little more than a year over that same 20-year period.  Lower-income men in 2006 had shorter life expectancies than higher income men had a generation ago.

These data, from the research paper "Trends in Mortality Differentials and Life Expectancy for Male Social Security-Covered Workers," by Average Relative Earnings,  were presented Oct. 5 at the America’s Fiscal Choices conference co-sponsored by EPI. During a panel on Social Security and overall retirement security, experts Nancy Altman of Social Security Works and Teresa Ghilarducci of The New School stressed that raising the retirement age would reduce benefits, particularly for those lower-income workers with shorter life expectancies, who depend on Social Security for the bulk of their income. They also stressed that workers are often unable to choose when they retire and must stop working when they are no longer able to perform physically demanding jobs, or when they suffer a layoff and cannot find work.

The America’s Fiscal Choices conference focused on the best policies for strengthening the economy and reducing the deficit. Panelists stressed that without Social Security, the economy would be in much worse condition, since the program lifts 19 million people out of poverty. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10-19-10 Activist Calendar

Oct. 19, 2010, Issue #649,
Send event announcements to
Editor's Note:
• We have organized an important meeting that will take place in New Paltz Wednesday, Oct. 27. It's titled "The Perfect Storm: Environmental Crisis plus Endless Wars and Global Poverty." Full details are in the last item below, including a listing of the speakers and the Hudson Valley groups endorsing the event. Check out the details and join us at the meeting.
• Our November Calendar will be emailed in a week, including information about a Nov. 10 meeting we have organized in New Paltz on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Tuesday, Oct. 19, NEW PALTZ:  Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins will make a campaign appearance 12 noon-1:30 p.m. at the Slash Root Cafe, 60 Main St. The long time political and antiwar activist and a co-founder of the Green Party will discuss his political program and why it is important to challenge the candidates of the two ruling parties.

Thursday, Oct. 21, BEACON: "Bioscapes: A Bioregional Approach to Sustainability" is the topic of a free public talk by Fred W. Koontz, director of the 834-acre nature preserve in Ossining known as the Teatown Lake Reservation. One aspect the discussion will be to encourage regional residents to practice "nature-friendly living" in their own back yards. The event will be held at the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries Center for Environmental Innovation and Education, 199 Dennings Ave. Attendees are asked to pre-register at

Thursday, Oct. 21, NEW PALTZ (SUNY campus):
"The Push to Revive Nuclear Power" will be explored by SUNY Old Westbury journalism Prof. Karl Grossman, an author and investigative reporter.  His free public talk will begin at 7 p.m. at the Coykendall Science Building auditorium. We're told he will discuss "a number of myths about nuclear power prominent in the mainstream media, among them that nuclear power doesn’t contribute to global warming." Grossman will also present a workshop, “Energy We Can Live With,” that "will provide an interactive venue for participants to learn about and discuss new, safe, clean energy technologies." The meeting is sponsored by the Progressive Academic Network and Environmental Task Force, among others. Campus map:

Friday, Oct. 22, MILLBROOK: A free public talk on genetically modified crops and environmental health will begin at 7 p.m. at the auditorium of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, 2801 Sharon Turnpike (Route 44). The speaker will be aquatic ecologist Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall,  who will "discuss the adoption of modified crops in the U.S., evidence that the insecticides and herbicides in these plants can escape into natural areas, and potential threats to biodiversity and freshwater supplies." According to the organizers: "The next time you go grocery shopping, survey your cart. If it contains products that list corn, soybeans, canola oil, cottonseed oil, or papaya as ingredients — chances are good that they can be traced back to genetically modified crops. These crops, which have been altered to repel pests and/or resist herbicide exposure, are now a mainstay of U.S. agriculture." Information, (845) 677-7600, ext. 121,

Friday, Oct. 22, NEW PALTZ: A free public showing of the documentary "Under Our Skin"  — a tale of "microbes, medicine and money" — will begin at 8:15 p.m. at the Elting Library, 93 Main St. at North Front St. We're told the film "exposes the hidden story of Lyme disease, one of the most controversial and fastest growing epidemics of our time. Each year, thousands go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed." Sponsored by New Paltz Neighbors for Peace. Information,

Saturday, Oct. 23, GREENWICH, Conn.:
A peace march demanding "War Profiteer: Stop the Wars," will kick off at 12:30 p.m. from the Post Office at Arch St. and Greenwich Ave. The march will wend its way through the downtown area and then proceed to the neighborhood containing the residence of ITT Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Stephen R. Loranger. We're told: "ITT makes bomb and missile releases for drones used in Afghanistan and Pakistan, among other military hardware. ITT is among the top 10 Pentagon contractors and spent $ 2.5 million lobbying the current Congress. The event is endorsed by WESPAC and World Can't Wait. Greenwich is only a few miles from Westchester, which is convenient for our Lower Hudson Valley readers. Information,,

Sunday, Oct. 23, ALBANY:
"The Great Depression: Mean Things Happening" is an important 53-minute documentary about worker uprisings during the 1930s — particularly the struggle of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union to organize sharecroppers, and of the new Congress of Industrial Organizations to organize steel workers. A free public showing of this 1993 film starts at 7:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, 405 Washington Ave. (between Robin and Lake Sts.). It's said that "this film tells the dramatic story of two workers' uprisings of that era through interviews with participants and their descendants, as well as through rarely-seen film footage." The filming is sponsored by the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, and Upper Hudson Peace Action. Information, (518) 426-0883,,

Sunday, Oct. 24, NEW PALTZ: There will be a Memorial Bench Dedication at this town's African-American Burial Ground "to commemorate the slaves who helped build our community and nation." The ceremonies begin at 3 p.m. at 174 Huguenot Street. At 4 p.m. gospel music and refreshments will be available at nearby Deyo Hall, 6 Broadhead St. Information, (845) 255-1660 or (845) 255-8560.

Wednesday, Oct. 27, NEW PALTZ (SUNY campus): A major meeting, titled "The Perfect Storm: Environmental Crisis plus Endless Wars and Global Poverty," will take place at 7 p.m. tonight at the Coykendall Science building auditorium on the SUNY campus.

Speaking at this free public meeting will be four SUNY professors, two students and four Mid-Hudson community activists. They will largely discuss climate change, but war and poverty will also be noted in two talks since together they "combine to create the perfect storm of impending global devastation," according to the organizers.

The event is sponsored by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter/Calendar and the local group Peace and Social Progress Now (PSPN). The  Campus sponsor is Environmental Task Force. The event is endorsed by Climate Action Coalition, SUNY Progressive Academic Network, New Paltz Students for Sustainable Agriculture, Students for Fresh Water, SUNY NP Recycling Club, Ulster County Move-On Council, Women in Black New Paltz, Hudson Valley Single Payer, Caribbean & Latin America Support Project, Arts for Peace, New Paltz Greens, Dutchess Greens, Dutchess Peace Coalition, and Mid-Hudson ANSWER.

The speakers include Sociology Professors Brian Obach and Irwin Sperber, Education Professor  Kate McCoy, and Geography Professor Salvatore Engel-DiMauro, and student activists Claire Papell and Nick DePalma.

The community activist speakers include Donna Goodman, a co-chair of PSPN who is also an elected statewide delegate from the New Paltz chapter of United University Professions; Ariana Basco, a recent SUNY graduate, member of the New Paltz town Police Commission, and a local environmental organizer; Ann Guenther an anti-fracking campaigner with Climate Action Coalition; and Jack A. Smith, editor of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter/Calendar and the other co-chair of PSPN.

The Coykendall auditorium is directly opposite the Lecture Center on campus. If you are not familiar with the campus, check out Scope out the nearest parking lots and leave yourself a bit of extra time. Information,, (845) 255-5779,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10-13-10 Perfect Storm


A major meeting, titled "The Perfect Storm: Environmental Crisis plus Endless Wars and Global Poverty," will take place Wednesday Oct. 27 in New Paltz at the Coykendall Science building auditorium on the SUNY campus.

Speaking at this free public meeting will be four SUNY professors, two students and four Mid-Hudson community activists. The will largely discuss climate change, but war and poverty will also be noted in two talks since together with the environmental crisis they "combine to create the perfect storm of impending global devastation," according to the organizers.

The 7-9:15 p.m. event is sponsored by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter and the local group Peace and Social Progress Now (PSPN). The SUNY sponsor is the campus-community organization Environmental Task Force. Almost a dozen local groups are endorsing the meeting, including SUNY's Progressive Academic Network, New Paltz Students for Sustainable Agriculture, and Students for Fresh Water among others.

The speakers include Sociology Professors Brian Obach and Irwin Sperber, Education Professor  Kate McCoy, Geography Professor Salvatore Engel-DiMauro, and student activists Claire Papell and Nick DePalma.

The community activist speakers include Donna Goodman, a co-chair of PSPN who is also an elected statewide delegate from the New Paltz chapter of United University Professions; Ariana Basco, a recent SUNY graduate, member of the New Paltz town Police Commission, and a local environmental organizer; Ann Guenther an anti-fracking campaigner with Climate Action Coalition; and Jack A. Smith, editor of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter and Calendar and the other co-chair of PSPN.

"The purpose of the meeting is two-fold," say the organizers, "First is to alert New Paltz students and regional residents to the extreme danger of climate change and environmental degradation, especially during an era of seemingly endless wars and growing global poverty. Second, we hope to encourage more people to take action against this developing Perfect Storm."

Volunteers will distribute the following statement promoting the meeting on campus and in surrounding villages and towns:

"Global warming will disfigure our world unless decisive emergency measures are taken now. The United States and other industrialized countries must substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other tasks, within a couple of decades. The longer it takes, the more devastating the destruction.

"Earth's entire ecological system is in crisis. But the principal countries with the power to prevent disaster are either not acting swiftly, or not at all. Water and food supplies are endangered. Glaciers are melting, as are the Arctic and Antarctic ice packs. Temperatures are rising. Coastal areas are in danger of flooding.

"Coinciding with this unfolding tragedy are the long wars being conducted by our own country, and Pentagon plans for more wars in future. America is spending a trillion dollars a year on the military and national security — funds needed to help develop a green economy and to end increasing global poverty. By 2050, 70% of world population will live in urban or rural slums. A billion people suffer chronic hunger now. And 15 million children starve to death each year, one every six seconds.

"Taken together this amounts to a perfect storm of impending global devastation. Learn about this crisis from experts and activists Oct. 27. Learn about what we can do as concerned people to stop this madness — for ourselves and future generations. There's still time, but we must act now to help save our environment and life on Mother Earth."

Campus map:
Information and directions, (845) 255-5779,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

10-09-10 "Socialist Obama?


[Editor's Note: We're all aware that the right wing considers President Obama, a man who governs from the center/center right, to be a "socialist," so CBS News political reporter Brian Montopoli decided to ask an actual socialist for his views on the matter. His article, which appeared on Oct. 8, follows.]

By Brian Montopoli

According to a Democracy Corps poll released over the summer, a majority of likely voters believe that the word "socialist" is a fair way to describe President Obama. The word is often used by the president's harshest critics, and not just those on the fringe: In March, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele complained that the president was pushing a "radical socialist health care 'reform' experiment."

So what does an actual socialist think about the idea that Mr. Obama deserves the label? Not much.

Billy Wharton, the 41-year-old co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, said in an interview that the president's agenda is nothing like the vision that his group espouses for the country.

Start with employment: As the government announced today, the unemployment rate currently stands at 9.6%. Under socialism, he said, everyone has a right to a job — which means that the unemployment rate would, essentially, be zero. If the private sector didn't provide enough jobs, Wharton said, a socialist government would create jobs to fill the gap.

Wharton pointed to the bank bailout — passed under President Bush but supported by President Obama — as an example of where socialist and Obama agendas differ. "We would have used that money to create a national jobs system," he said, calling for a "system of cooperatives that would be run by workers themselves."

Then there's health care: Wharton's Socialist Party supports the idea of a single-payer health care system in which the health care companies would be "abolished." The bill passed under the Obama administration didn't even come close to such a system — even the "public option," the government-run health care plan, did not make it into the bill. The bill that passed actually ended up creating more customers for health care companies thanks to the individual mandate.

"We really see the corporation as being the most undemocratic influence in capitalist society," said Wharton, who believes "regular people" should be able to decide what gets produced and consumed.

Wharton, who penned a Washington Post op-ed on this topic last year, said the use of the word socialist by opponents of the president "taps into a long tradition of paranoia in American politics," most notably in the 1950s. He complains of a "hysterical tone of a farcical McCarthyism" in the current debate over the president.

He also suggested the use of the word as an insult has become less effective as more Americans have grown up in a post-Cold War era. "People under the age of 25 weren't educated in a Cold War period," he said. "So when they hear the word socialism, they don't automatically draw a negative conclusion."

As for the president, Wharton says socialists see him as a "hedge-fund Democrat" — someone unwilling to take what they see as necessary steps like nationalizing banks or keeping public money from flowing to private corporations. Instead of supporting programs like Social Security and Medicare, he says, Mr. Obama is doing the bidding of the wealthiest Americans.

And for those still insist the president is his ideological brother? "I'd invite them to ask a real socialist what a socialist is," says Wharton.

10-09-10 Netanyahu


[This article about right wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu is by Uri Avnery, the long time leader of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, a frequent critic of his country's policies toward the Palestinians. It appeared on the organization's website Oct. 9, 2010.]

By Uri Avnery

WHICH IS the real Netanyahu?

• Bibi the weakling, the invertebrate, who always gives in to pressure, who zigzags to the left and to the right, depending whether the pressure comes from the U.S. or from his coalition partners?

• The tricky Likud chief, who is afraid that Avigdor Ivett Lieberman might succeed in pushing him towards the Center and displace him as the leader of the entire Right?

• Netanyahu, the man of principle, who is determined to prevent at any cost the setting up of the State of Palestine, and is therefore using every possible ruse to sabotage real negotiations?

The real Netanyahu - stand up!

Hey, wait a minute, what's going on here? Do I see all three of them rising?

THE FIRST Netanyahu is the one who meets the eye. A leaf in the wind. The con man without principles and with plenty of tricks, whose sole aim is to survive in power.

This Netanyahu practically invites pressure on himself.

Barack Obama pressured him, so he agreed to the settlement freeze - or the perceived settlement freeze. In order to avoid a crisis with the settlers, he promised them that after the agreed ten months, the construction boom would be resumed with full vigor.

The settlers pressured him, and he did indeed resume the building at the appointed time, in spite of the intense pressure from Obama, who pushed for an extension of the moratorium for another two months. Why two months? Because the congressional elections take place on November 2, and Obama desperately needs to avoid a crisis with the Jewish establishment before that. For this end, he is ready to sell Netanyahu the whole inventory - arms, money, political support, a set of guarantees about the outcome of the negotiations that have not yet even begun. Sixty days! sixty days! my kingdom for sixty days!

Netanyahu is now zigzagging between these pressures, trying to find out which is the stronger, which one to give in to, how much and when. In his dreams he probably feels like the Baron von Munchhausen, who found himself on a narrow path, with a lion behind him getting ready to spring and a crocodile in front of him opening its awesome jaws. (If I remember right, the baron ducked and the lion jumped straight into the jaws of the reptile.)

This is the great hope of Netanyahu. AIPAC will help to deliver Obama a crushing defeat in the elections, Obama will deliver a crushing blow to the settlers, and Baron von Netanyahu will rub his hands and survive to fight another day.

Is this the real Netanyahu? For sure.

BUT THE second Netanyahu is no less real. This is Tricky Bibi who is trying to out-fox Tricky Ivett.

Ivvett (Avigdor) Lieberman astounded the UN General Assembly, when, as the Foreign Minister of Israel, he addressed this august body from the rostrum.

Because our Foreign Minister did not rise to defend the policies of his country, as did his colorless colleagues. Quite the opposite: from the UN rostrum he vigorously attacked the policy of his own government, giving it short shrift.

The official policy of the Government of Israel is to conduct direct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, in order to achieve a final peace treaty within one year.

Nonsense, said the Foreign Minister of that same government. Rubbish. There is no chance at all of a peace treaty, not within a year and not within a hundred years. What's needed is a Long-Term-Interim-Agreement. In other words, the continuation of the occupation without time limits.

Why did Lieberman give this performance? He was not addressing the few delegates who had remained in the UN assembly hall, but the Israeli public. He challenged Netanyahu: either dismiss me or pretend that the spittle on your face is rain.

But Netanyahu did not dismiss and did not react, except for a weak statement that Lieberman was not expressing his views. And this why? Clearly, if Netanyahu were to kick Lieberman's party out of the government and bring in Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party, Lieberman would do to Netanyahu what Netanyahu did to Yitzhak Rabin. He would declare him a traitor selling out the fatherland, an enemy of the settlements. His devotees would parade around with posters of Netanyahu in SS uniform or wearing a keffiyeh, while others performed arcane Kabbalah rituals to bring about his death.

Lieberman would raise the flag of the Right, split the Likud and take sole possession of the entire Israeli Right. He believes that this is the way to become Prime Minister.

Netanyahu understands this perfectly. That's why he is restraining himself. As a man who grew up in the United States he probably remembers what Lyndon Johnson said about J. Edgar Hoover: Better to have him inside the tent pissing out, then outside the tent pissing in.

AND PERHAPS this Netanyahu - the second one - does not really object to the plan outlined by Lieberman at the UN assembly.

The Foreign Minister was not content with rejecting peace and bringing up the idea of the Long-Term-Interim-Agreement. He described the solution he has in mind. Not surprisingly, it is the electoral platform of his party, Israel Beytenu ("Israel Our Home"). In essence: Israel, the "Nation-State-Of-The-Jewish-People", will be free of Arabs, or, translated into German, Araberrein.

But Lieberman is a humane person, and does not advocate (at least in public) ethnic cleansing. He does not propose a third Naqbah (after the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe and the 1967 expulsion). No, his solution is far more creative: he will separate from Israel the Arab towns and villages along the Eastern border, the so-called "triangle", from Umm al-Fahm in the North to Kufr Kassem in the South This area, together with its inhabitants and lands, would be joined to the territory of the Palestinian Authority, and in return Israel would annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

That raises, of course, several questions. First, what about the Arab concentrations in Galilee, which include dozens of villages, towns like Nazareth and Shefa Amr, and the Arab population in the mixed towns, Haifa and Acre? Lieberman does not propose to transfer them too. Neither does he propose to give up East Jerusalem, with its quarter of a million Arab residents. If that is the case, is he prepared to leave in the "Nation-State-Of-The-Jewish-People" more than three quarters of a million Arabs? Or does he dream at night, lying in his bed, of conducting ethnic cleansing after all?

A second question: to whom will he transfer the Arab towns and villages of the 'triangle"? Without a peace treaty, there will be no Palestinian state. Instead, there will remain the Palestinian Authority, with its few small enclaves all subject to Israeli occupation. The Long-Term-Interim-Agreement would leave this situation, more or less, intact. Meaning that this area, now part of Israel, would become a territory under Israeli occupation. Its inhabitants would lose their status as Israeli citizens and become an occupied population, devoid of civil rights and human rights.

As far as is known, not a singe Arab leader in Israel agrees to that.  Even in the past, when it seemed that Lieberman agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and wanted to transfer to it the Arab areas of Israel, not a single Arab leader in Israel agreed. The Arab citizens of Israel, a population approaching a million and a half, are indeed a part of the Palestinian people, but they are also a part of the Israeli population.

Netanyahu is certainly afraid of Lieberman, but can it be that he did not condemn Lieberman's UN speech because he secretly shares his views?

In any case, this week Netanyahu announced that he is adopting Lieberman's baby, the demand that non-Jewish (meaning Arab) people who wish to obtain Israeli citizenship swear allegiance not just to the State of Israel and its laws, as is usual, but to "Israel as a Jewish and democratic state". This is a nonsensical and meaningless addition, solely devised to provoke the 20% of Israelis who are Arabs. One might as well demand candidates for U.S. citizenship swear allegiance to the "United States as a White Anglo-Saxon Christian and democratic nation".

BUT IT is quite possible that there is a third Netanyahu, who stands taller than the others.

This is the Netanyahu who always believed in a Greater Israel, and who has never given up the ideology which he suckled with his mother's milk.

The veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Samet goes further: he believes that Binyamin Netanyahu's main motivation is his total obedience to his old father.

Ben-Zion Netanyahu is now 100 years old, and in full possession of his mental faculties. He is a professor of history, born in Warsaw, who came to Palestine in 1920 and changed his name from Mileikowsky to Netanyahu ("God has Given"). He has always been on the extreme right-wing fringe. Ben-Zion Netanyahu spent several periods of his life in the U.S., where his three sons grew up. When in 1947 the UN General Assembly adopted the plan to partition Palestine between a Jewish state and an Arab state, father Netanyahu signed a petition, published in the New York Times, condemning the resolution in the strongest terms. Returning to Israel, he was not accepted into the new Freedom Party (the forerunner of Likud), because his views were too extreme even for Menachem Begin's tastes. He claims that he was barred from a professorship in the Hebrew University because of his opinions, and his bitterness about this poisoned the atmosphere at home.

The professor's special field is Spanish Jewry, with the emphasis on the Spanish Inquisition. He condemns the Jews who were baptized (the Marranos) and says that the great majority of them were eager to be assimilated into Christian Spanish society, contrary to the official heroic myth, which says that they continued to practice the religion of their forefathers in secret.

When Netanyahu the son transferred a part of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority, his father rebuked him and stated publicly that he was unfit for the job of Prime Minister, fit at most to serve as Foreign Secretary. But the son made a huge effort to remain true to his father's views, and that is the main motivation for his policy. According to Samet, he would not dare to face his father and tell him that he had given away parts of Eretz Israel.

I tend to accept this version. Netanyahu will never agree to be responsible for the establishment of the State of Palestine, will never conduct serious peace negotiations - unless under extreme duress. That is all there is to it, everything else is hollow talk.

If the real Netanyahu were called to stand up, all three, and perhaps a few more, would rise. But the third one is the most real.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

10-05-10 One Nation Rally analysis

By Jack A. Smith, Activist Newsletter

An enthusiastic crowd estimated at 175,000 people attended the four-hour rally in Washington Oct. 2 at Lincoln Memorial — a mass action by the labor movement and African American rights groups, supported by the Latino, environmental, LGBT and other liberal and progressive movements. The main purpose was to increase the Democratic vote next month.

The event was organized by a new coalition, One Nation Working Together, which is supported by some 400 groups, primarily led by the two labor federations, AFL-CIO and Change To Win/SEIU, and the NAACP. The rally was addressed by a couple of dozen speakers, mostly from supporting liberal advocacy organizations.

A constant theme reiterated by the union leaders who spoke was the need for jobs — the absence of which is probably one of the main reasons a number of voters who went Democratic in the presidential election may not vote in November. Among these leaders, and a sign of the strength of labor at the rally, was AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry, UAW president Bob King, AFT chief Randi Weingarten, NEA President Dennis Van Roakel,  and CWA's Larry Cohen.

President/CEO Ben Jealous of the NAACP told the crowd — which included a large proportion of African Americans — that "We've come too far to turn back now," evoking the long struggle for equal rights. "We've got to go home and ask our friends and ask our neighbors to vote. Get up off the couch and get out and vote November 2."

Up to 2,000 chartered buses — largely financed by the unions — brought participants to the demonstration from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. Others arrived by car, commercial bus, railroad and planes from as far away as the West Coast.

The crowd reached its height around 2:30 p.m. when it extended from the Memorial along each side of the long Reflecting Pool to the end. The attendance was not as large as the Aug. 28 right wing "non-political" religious manifestation organized by TV personality Glen Beck, but the two events were so different in character that comparing size determines nothing.

The historic rally and its feeder marches in Washington Oct. 2 had several pluses accompanied by minuses, the most important being these two:

• The unity achieved at the rally between the working class, people of color and progressives in various social advocacy groups is very important in terms of the political struggle for needed progressive social change in the United States.

However, the rally's singular purpose was to increase the popular vote for Democratic candidates in the Nov. 2 Congressional election and local offices, not to build an independent liberal/progressive/left coalition to agitate for needed  programs that go beyond the limited possibilities of the Obama Administration's center/center right political agenda.

• Rally speakers supported a number of relatively progressive policy initiatives, including a massive and comprehensive jobs program, advancement of civil rights and liberties, immigration reform, education reform, and union rights to mention a few. This was a major liberal event and were it the actual intention of the Obama Administration to fight for such initiatives it would be transformational.

However, not one of the speakers criticized the Obama Administration's failure to seriously embrace many such programs or to mount the political fight required to attain even watered down versions, blaming everything on "The Party of No." Even the Blue Dog  conservative Democrats in Congress were off the hook.

Clearly, the administration's weak jobs program has fallen far short of  making a significant dent in unemployment, which remains around 10% officially and 17% unofficially. Its anti-foreclosure efforts have failed. Civil liberties are being eroded because of White House decisions. Immigration reform is piecemeal. Education reform, based on President Obama's $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" initiative, is actually opposed by the two teacher unions that so strongly support the Democrats. The labor movement's main legislative goal —Employee Free Choice Act — can't even be introduced in Congress, in part because of conservative Democrat opposition.

One of the reasons the Democratic Party may lose a more than usual number of House and Senate seats in the midterm contest is that a number of 2008 Obama voters are disappointed that the Democrats didn't fight harder and compromise less for "the change they believe in." (For a full background, see the article "Democrats Face Tough Election," the first story in the Oct. 1 Activist Newsletter below.)

It appeared that President Obama's massive escalation of the Afghan war, extending the fighting into western Pakistan and Yemen, and continuing the occupation of Iraq would also be unchallenged by the speakers — despite the fact that the majority of Democratic voters are against the war — until Harry Belafonte shattered the silence.

Charging that "the wars that we wage today in far away lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable," the famous musician, social activist and civil rights leader  delivered a stunning denunciation of a top Obama Administration priority. The crowd seemed momentarily taken aback by this sharp criticism of Obama's wars (though the president's name was not mentioned) and the reception was somewhat muted, though at the finish, just after he said "let us put an end to war," he received prolonged applause.

Could it be that rally leaders were unaware Belafonte intended to deliver a strong antiwar message? His speech, the text of which we reproduce below this article, was the highlight of the afternoon as far the peace movement and left were concerned.

The only other reference to the military — aside from some patriotic comments to the troops — was Jesse Jackson's call to "Cut the military budget," but even Defense Secretary Gates says that. The rest of Rev. Jackson's talk was essentially "vote Democratic" in November because "The president can’t bear this cross alone."

One of the more moving presentations was by outspoken progressive Marian Wright Edelman, founder/president of the Children's Defense Fund, who sharply criticized politicians that promote "massive tax giveaways to the rich when 50% of our children are living in poverty," and called for increased education funding.

Van Jones, a well known environmental and civil rights activist and an expert on "Green Jobs," noted that  “We can empower America by looking up for our sources of energy instead of looking down,” referring to wind and solar power. Rev. Al Sharpton earned applause when he declared: “We bailed out the banks. We bailed out the insurance companies. Now it’s time to bail out the American people.”

The only Congressman to speak was Chicago immigrant rights advocate Democratic  Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who declared: "The Latino and immigrant struggle is a continuation of the civil rights struggle in this nation. There would be no Cesar Chavez without Dr. Martin Luther King, no Sonia Sotomayor without Thurgood Marshal and no Roberto Clemente without Jackie Robinson.”

The absence of Democratic Party leaders and office holders on the podium as endorsers or rally officials was intentional. Rally leaders did not wish to convey the impression that One Nation Working Together was simply organizing a campaign event to elect a fairly unimpressive collection of center/center right office holders and a small minority of liberals.

The Democrats are worried that independent voters, young voters and liberal supporters who voted Democratic in 2008 are not going to come out in large enough number to prevent the Republicans from making major gains in the House and Senate. A good proportion of these voters are disappointed in the Obama Administration's performance over the past two years, including some union workers who voted for the Democrats in the last election.

One Nation has positioned itself as independently promoting a relatively liberal agenda and is asking Democrats — who are told that the only obstacle to real progress is the GOP and the dreaded Tea Party — to vote in sufficient number to make it possible for the Democratic members of Congress to score major victories in the next two years. The disinclination of many of these politicians to consider aligning with center/center left progressive programs is notorious.

This event cost the union movement plenty. Most of the buses allowed union members — and in some cases the general public — to travel free. Our New York State United Teachers-sponsored bus from New Paltz cost a paltry $20 to D.C. and back for non-union riders, in return for which we received a bagged breakfast, dinner snack, a blue and orange AFT jersey proclaiming One Nation Working Together plus a $5 roundtrip metro fare to and from the Lincoln Memorial.

Charter buses began arriving in the huge parking lot of RFK Stadium starting around 9 a.m. on what turned out to be a day of blue skies, sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Up to 700 buses were said to be coming from New York State alone. According to local union sources buses brought perhaps 1,000 demonstrators from the Upper Hudson Valley cities and towns of Albany, Amsterdam, Latham, Schenectady, Saratoga and Troy and 500 from Mid-Hudson Valley communities of Kingston, New Paltz, Middletown, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Fishkill and Beacon. An unknown number took other transportation.

Thousands more probably would have attended the Washington event but there were serious bus problems in Boston, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and on Long Island. Through a mix-up, some  scheduled buses never arrived to pick up passengers, and some got to the nation's capital just about in time to return home.

Many buses, including ours, arrived too late to attend the scheduled 11 a.m. antiwar feeder march from 14th St. and Constitution Ave., where there were two speaking platforms, one organized by United for Peace and Justice and the other by the United National Antiwar Conference. After a while both groups agreed to use the same stage. In addition there was a Socialist Contingent nearby. When the three groups marched together to the Memorial there were about 500-600 people, we're told.

Some Union contingents, each wearing their own colored t-shirts, marched in separate  feeder marches. 

A number of peace and left wing groups attended the rally but not all marched, including several socialist and communist organizations which carried their own signs in the crowd and distributed leaflets and free publications. The ANSWER antiwar coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) handed out a great many large yellow and black peace posters on sticks with a photo of Martin Luther King that predominated in a large part of the rally where we were situated, and hundreds of demonstrators took them home on buses that evening. The Party for Socialism and Liberation decided to charge a donation for their paper, Liberation, an sold 1,200 copies.

This was a positive aspect of the way the One Nation event was organized. Antiwar and socialist or communist groups were welcomed to join the rally just like every other group, to arrange feeder marches of their own, to set up tables, distribute literature, and to become one of the hundreds of endorsers if they wished.

The Communist Party USA, Democratic Socialists of America and the International Socialist Organization were among the endorsers, though most left organizations did not wish to be associated at that level. It has not always been this way in union or liberal dominated events, when the left has often been discouraged from attending or excluded. Hopefully it's a new trend. Of course, the left was not invited to speak at the main rally, and didn't expect to be.

Right wing websites and blogs howled with red-baiting denunciations about the presence of the left Oct. 2, which was actually quite small — but since they already call Obama a "socialist" and believe the Democratic Party is a front for a Bolshevik conspiracy it's not a big deal.

To sum up: The various liberal groups that gathered in Washington for the One Nation rally are a positive factor on the political landscape, mainly because of their working class, multinational and progressive orientation.

Unfortunately their heightened political consciousness remains to be developed vis-à-vis (1) the inherent political limitations of the Democratic Party to which they are presently wedded; (2) their acceptance of a restrictive, closed circuit two-party system extending from the center to the far right without a mass left entity; and (3) their adherence to "lesser evil" politics that insures that "evil" in one guise or another is the only result.

Lastly, the notion of "one nation" sounds good, even inspiring, and entirely useful in the present situation. But most of us know that in reality the U.S. remains, in effect, two nations: one representing the interests of the minority — the big corporations, big banks, big stockholders, and big money that tend to rule; and the other the interests of the great majority — the working class, middle class and lower class that tend to be ruled.

The real issue is which "nation" does one support, and out of that support help to create one real nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.



Text transcribed by Democracy Now!

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of this Memorial and declared that this nation should come together and embrace its greater ideals. He said that we should rally together and overcome injustice and racism, and that all citizens should not only have the right to vote, but that we should exercise that right and make America whole.

That is part of why we are here today. But we’re also here to tend other grievances. Martin Luther King Jr., in his “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago, said that America would soon come to realize that the war we were in at that time, that this nation waged in Vietnam, was not only unconscionable, but unwinnable. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died in that cruel adventure, and over two million Vietnamese and Cambodians perished. Now today, almost a half -century later, as we gather at this place where Dr. King prayed for the soul of this great nation, tens of thousands of citizens from all walks of life have come here today to rekindle his dream and once again hope that all America will soon come to the realization that the wars that we wage today in far away lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable.

The Central Intelligence Agency, in its official report, tells us that the enemy we pursue in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, the al-Qaeda, they number less than 50—I say 50—people. Do we really think that sending 100,000 young American men and women to kill innocent civilians, women and children, and antagonizing the tens of millions of people in the whole region somehow makes us secure? Does this make any sense?

The President’s decision to escalate the war in that region alone costs the nation $33 billion [extra a year]. That sum of money could not only create 600,000 jobs here in America, but would even leave us a few billion to start rebuilding our schools, our roads, our hospitals and affordable housing. It could also help to rebuild the lives of the thousands of our returning wounded veterans.

Dr. King loved this nation. He saw, as all of us here today see, that this great nation should not be allowed to perish. Martin’s vision was also the vision of Abraham Lincoln, who understood the evil of slavery and, in abolishing that evil, saved America. Although slavery may have be have been abolished, the crippling poison of racism still persists, and the struggle still continues. We have the largest prison population in the world. And as we industrialize these prison systems, we rob hundreds of thousands of workers of the jobs that they need and the wages that are rightfully theirs.

The plight of women is no better. Their oppression refuses to yield, as rape and domestic violence and sex slaves and teenage pregnancy abounds.

But perhaps the greatest threat of all is the undermining of our Constitution and the systematic attack against the inalienable rights of the citizens of this nation, rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. At the vanguard of this insidious attack is the Tea Party. This band of misguided citizens is moving perilously close to achieving villainous ends.

This gathering here today is America’s wake-up call. The giant called democracy is at last stirring again. Citizens are coming together to say freedom does not sleep. It may have been fueled and lulled for the moment into a lethargy, but it’s fully awake now. And we the people are its engine.  We must awaken the apathetic, the cynical, the many angry doubters, who see their future as the perpetual hopelessness, and show them that our greatest weapon is the vote. And it is the answer to much that nags in us.

On November 2nd, in the millions, we must overburden our voting booths by voting against those who would see the nation become a totalitarian state. Americans know that Dr. King’s dream is not dead. Let us vote on November 2nd for jobs, for jobs, for jobs, for peace, for justice, for human rights, for our children and the future of America. And let us put an end to war. Peace is necessary. For justice, it is necessary. For hope, it is necessary, for our future.