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Tidbits - April 25, 2013

Readers Comments: Henry Kissinger; Richie Havens; Chechnya, Terrorism; Whither the Socialist Left; Korea; Venezuela; Texas Plant; Nude Protests; Robin Hood Tax; Labor's Organizing Model; Announcements: Angela Y. Davis, Feminism & Abolition: Theories & Practices for 21st Century - Chicago - May 3; Labor Historians - AFL-CIO Needs Your Help: Organizing: New & Forgotten Methods; Maudelle Shirek Memorial - Berkeley - Apr 30; Resource: Workers Memorial Day - April 28,


Pacifists, of which I'm one, believe in compassion and forgiveness. But there is also a belief in justice. Given his advanced age, there is not a lot of point in jailing Kissinger - prisons aren't good places at the best of times, and there is little reason to believe a jail term would lead him to change his views.
But it is really impossible to accept the fact he still appears as a foreign policy expert on the networks. A criminal trial is long overdue and in the meantime he should be barred from any of the various hearings and public appearances the media have granted him.
He is a war criminal, one of our very own, and should be treated as such.
David McReynolds
I very much appreciated the article you sent out on Henry K, from AlterNet.  I have also written to them, and sent them the attached poem.  You may use this poem however you wish - I'd be delighted of course if you send it out as an addition to the discussion - or please feel free to ignore it altogether.
Best wishes,
Chris Brandt
Is it too late to curse you, Henry?
Is it time to have the years obscure your crimes?
Time to close that chapter,
let bygones be gone, give it a rest, let it be?
It is not too late, Henry.
And thus begins our curse:
Be it never too late,
be the voices you hear in your dotage
your victims' shouting Assassin! Thief!
Because you sat well-tailored in handsome offices
and sent others out to prove your power,
because you wrote, "With proper tactics
nuclear war need not be as destructive as it appears",
because you found white phosphorous a useful tool
and napalm a tolerable arm of diplomacy,
and agent orange necessary
to policy, and tiger cages,
because you didn't understand why we should allow a country to go
communist on account of its own people's ignorance,
because you enjoyed the company of Pinochet
Marcos, Duvalier, Stroessner, Somoza, the Shah,
because you regretted Laos and Cambodia-
"We should have found some other way of doing it",
because you killed Allende and shattered Neruda's heart
as surely as if you had held the gun yourself,
because you accepted the Nobel Peace Prize,
because in the mirror you see a god - Hermes, Loki,
because you have a mind for deciding life and death,
and think it pure injustice of history you're not still doing so-
may the insects refuse to touch you, may the worms spit you back,
may you never know decay's comfort and rest.
Let the voices follow you always.
Let the burning children run toward you forever
clasping you in their flaming arms.
Let your eternal waiting room be
the stadium in Santiago, filled with silent prisoners filing
past. Each one stops to look at you,
and you, with all the time in the world
cannot look away.
None mentions bruises, burns,
missing fingernails, teeth, faces,
each only recites a name -
Elena, Nguyen, Christofis, Bobby Jene, Laureano,
and one of them hands you a snapshot of his daughters,
another his unused high school registration card,
a third the unfinished history of her family,
a fourth holds out a stuffed penguin, won
at a carnival moments before his arrest,
the next carries nothing, having no hands,
gives you only her look, and whispers
a poem, a hymn to the wind.
The line of the disappeared goes on and on
and you will stand rooted,
seeing them at last. And always,
always will you hear the songs of love
Victor Jara continues to sing,
even without
his tongue.
His Woodstock set was amazing. Never to be forgotten - a unique artist
Tony McGregor 
Another Side of Richie Havens
"Havens was a determined progressive who took every opportunity to use his music to help improve peoples lives.
A stalwart ally of the environmental movement, Havens devoted considerable energy to educating young people about the critical urgency of environmental activism. In 1975, he founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children's museum on City Island in the Bronx. In the early 1980s, he created the Natural Guard, an environmental organization for children.
He did too many benefit concerts to count on behalf of environmental, antiwar, civil rights and anti-nuclear causes."
I am posting this because I just saw an obit for Richie in the NY Daily News, that left this important information out, as some others do, I am sure.
In addition to his great musicianship and great personal warmth, he was a great role model for those who believe in music for social change. 
Norman Savitt
Very interesting.  How can you get this information to most people who don't read your long articles?  
Vivian Levy
Thanks.  It was a little hard to follow because it was written for people who are "up" on what she's talking about.  But I got the gist of it.  Our dirty hands are everywhere!
Jo Wilkinson
Terrorize: To fill with coerce by intimidation
It saddened me to hear of that young eight year old boy killed by the bombs in Boston. The other two people dead by that terror attack only further saddened this writer. Yet, the conversation throughout our mainstream media and by our general populace concerning such an act ended with that act of terror. Why, I asked, are not all acts of recent terrorism discussed and condemned by my fellow Americans? Does it have to be the torn apart body of one of our own that exclusively raises our ire?
When a suicide bomber blows away the lives of students and other civilians in an Israeli caf,, my eyes fill with tears. When Israeli Apache helicopters blast away the lives of innocent Palestinians, more tears flow. Terrorism has no parameters. It sucks no matter who does the killing and who does the dying. The overkill of the cities of Dresden and Tokyo with incendiary WMDs was just a ghastly as the `Rape of Nanking `and the carpet bombing of London. In any war, to destroy the lives of civilian non combatants is terrorism, plain and simple. Yet, my fellow Americans, many of them... most of them, could not give a rat's ass for what our military has done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya... to name but a few such places. When we illegally and immorally invaded Iraq how many little eight year old boys were blown away by our `smart bombs `through what war criminal Donald Rumsfeld called collateral damage? How many such children have been destroyed by the drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan under Mr. Obama's watch? One wonders if my neighbors, who brag to me about how the drones are fighting terrorism in a more `rational and humane `way, would pause for a moment and play `What if?' What if each neighbor who supports these drones, let us say in Pakistan, had a son or daughter who married a Pakistani, and moved to Pakistan to raise a family with their new spouse. One night, the call comes in that a village was droned and sadly their child and new grandchild were victims of collateral damage.
I love my country. I fear and protest its leaders and their policies. My country, sadly, has become the worst purveyor of terrorism in the entire world. Yet, few of us got out on the street corners and town squares protesting what we did to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan some 10 years ago. Look how we continue to terrorize through our illegal and immoral occupations. What in the hell are we doing in all of these countries of the world with our military bases and weapons systems? Cannot the good people of our great nation begin to connect the death of that poor Boston eight year old with the countless dead children of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan? We never give those dead kids names so as to remember them. We never show their dead and bloody dangling body parts in our media. Some still refer to them as rag heads or A-Rabs , a sub humanity as the Germans referred to the Jews of Europe, and many Israelis see the Palestinians... ironic isn't it? Disgusting is a better word.
If we truly wish to see peace in this world, let our great and most powerful nation take the first step. Let us get the hell out of the 100 countries we have over 900 bases in! Let our Congress cut this obscene military spending drastically! Let us have the decency and courage to go to the United Nations and acknowledge the past deeds committed by our leaders and our military. Finally, let us understand that terrorism by any means is wrong and against whatever God we say we believe in.
Philip A. Farruggio
Those who see themselves participants in debating the issues Mark Solomon has raised may be interested in a presentation I gave last year in Berlin at the North Atlantic Left Dialogue. It is called: "What If? Politics and Post-Capitalism" and can be accessed by clicking here. It appears in the current (March 2013) issue of Critical Sociology. 
If I were writing it today I would stress even more strongly that the emphasis on austerity is not a mistake, but a class strategy and that the crisis has to been resolved to strengthen capitalism witnessed by growing extreme inequality and weakening the achievements of the left in building trade unions, achieving social welfare programs etc. but that it sets up a dynamic in which the power of individual capitals threatens the system over an extended future and results in either a new stage of repressive capitalism and/or a powerful working class movement seen in embryo in the resistance we see in many parts of the world and the potential of which was demonstrated by Occupy Wall Street. "Recovery" is premised on a continuation of the present pattern of redistributive growth.
William K. Tabb
Sixty years after an armistice ended the fighting in the Korean War, the situation remains tense, abnormal and dangerous on the Korean peninsula.  Any military conflict in Korea carries the risk of broadening into a catastrophic war as the US, China, Japan and Russia all have strategic interests in the area.  Another major Korean war would mean large increases in US military spending and more austerity and repression at home, as well as great destruction and loss of life.  The crisis of March-April 2013 did not lead to a military confrontation; however, since the basic issues have not been addressed, another crisis is at some point likely.
The first source of tension is the US refusal to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea legally ending the Korean War.  Sometimes characterized as inscrutable, North Korea's prime diplomatic objectives are actually simple and clear: sign a peace treaty with the US, get the sanctions lifted and join the international community as a respected and equal nation.  It is US policy that is blocking normalization.
After World War Two, a reunited Korea would surely have chosen the popular Kim Il Sung as president since Kim had been the national leader of the Korean resistance  to the Japanese occupation.  Kim Il Sung, however, was also leader of the Korean Communist Party and thus unacceptable to the US, which blocked reunification.  In the 1990s, North Korea participated in discussions to suspend its nuclear program in return for economic aid and movement towards recognition.  In 2001, however, the Bush administration labelled Pyongyang as one of the "axis of evil" and showed in Iraq what that meant.  North Korea then restarted its nuclear program and moved to further development of a nuclear weapon and long range missiles.  The simulated nuclear bombing runs of US B-52s and stealth bombers practicing over South Korea only justifies in North Korean eyes their need for nuclear weapons and a powerful military.
As the world's military superpower, far more powerful than North Korea, the US should take the initiative to reduce militarization and tensions rather than conducting provocative military exercises with South Korean forces.  However, partly as a result of the Obama administration's "pivot" to Asia/Pacific, the US has been strengthening its military presence in East Asia, including working with Japan to strengthen anti-missile defense systems.  This has encouraged rightist Japanese prime minister Abe to suggest altering the Japanese pacifist constitution to allow for a stronger Japanese military presence, further inflaming tensions.
China has proposed restarting the six-party talks to energize the diplomatic process.  The Chinese are North Korea's long standing ally; China wants a denuclearized Korean peninsula and calls for reduction of US/South Korea joint military exercises and  an end to provocative language.  This would create a better environment for talks and reconciliation and benefit the Korean people as well as peace.  China also wants closer consultation with North Korea.
CCDS urges that people contact the president and Congress to demand the US agree to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea and stop its campaign of pressure and regime change.  Talks among equal partners are the only way to improve the situation in Korea.  Activists should call for cutting the military budget by the US withdrawing troops and pulling back from its growing forward position in the Asia/Pacific region.
When is the next coup attempt by the "Freedom loving" USA? Could this be the next war to keep Wall Street's industrial complex siphoning the treasury? Best government money can buy!
Peter Arata
Long before OSHA we passed, so-called, Workers Compensation laws. These were pushed by the corporate community and passed after some courts were holding employers responsible for the accidents and illnesses caused by the way their workplaces were run.  They are state-by-state laws and, like so much of our "states riights" oriented government, they do not do what they are purported to do. The thing they do best, and were designed from day one to do, is protect corporations from suits by injured and sickened workers.
The "Compensation" to workers is kept miniscule. it does not incentivize safe nor healthy workplaces. Each state "competes" with 49 others to keep its WC law weak and corporate costs down.
Martin Morand
Thank you for publishing my piece on nude protests and political contradictions. But the piece is difficult to grasp without the pictures that go with it.  The version I put on my website has more and clearer pictures than the one in openDemocracy, so anyone who is interested should go check out
Meredith Tax
I do not understand how this tax will raise one trillion dollars in 10 years, if as Mr. Ellison states it will raise $300 billion a year. 300 billion times 10 = 3 trillion.
Jim Nolan 
A lamentable, splitting, defeatist analysis betraying profound confusion about the purpose and nature of trade unions.
John Case
So as our brains grow larger, our pelvis grows smaller
Lori Funicello 
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
5850 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637
Friday, May 3 -  7:30pm until 9:00pm 
This event is a collaboration between the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS) and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC). Davis' lecture culminates a year-long series on the theory and praxis of her work and re-inaugurates the CSRPC Annual Public Lecture.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory.
Free & Open to the Public.
The AFL-CIO has formed a committee of labor historians to prepare a document to help them think about the future of organized labor. Confirmed coommittee members include: Julie Greene, University of Maryland; Michael Kazin, Georgetown University; Nelson Lichtenstein, UC Santa Barbara; Bethany Moreton, University of Georgia; Christian Sweeney, AFL-CIO; and Heather Thompson, Temple University. The committee chair is Daniel Katz, Dean of the National Labor College.
The AFL-CIO is looking for historical examples of inter-union and/or federation-level cooperation in organizing unions. Officers and staff are open to lessons of failures as well as success, and they are are open to listening to healthy debate over differing interpretations of those moments. They have begun thinking about the Steel Workers Organizing Committee and Operation Dixie as examples. Many of the AFL-CIO leaders, including Rich Trumka, read scholarly labor history. Recently, Sue Cobble's article "Lost Ways of Organizing: Reviving the AFL's Direct Affiliate Strategy" made its way around the DC headquarters.
We invite you to submit short essays of up to 500 words to help the committee synthesize the currents of our profession. We ask that as you write you consider that the essays will be most effective if they have the following qualities: 1) Focus right away on a concrete event, strategy or campaign 2) Written clearly for an educated but general audience 3) Is explicit about what the lessons are for current or future efforts 4) Does not disparage other points of view.
While the final report will be short and can not include many ideas, AFL-CIO staff and officers will have access to these posts. Feel free to add to current discussion threads, or start a new one.
If you have questions or comments about the committee, please direct them to Dan Katz
All best,
Ryan Poe
Executive Assistant
On April 30, 5:00pm, in Berkeley City Hall chambers in the building named after her, there will be a celebration of the life of former Vice-Mayor Maudelle Shirek. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Tom Bates, Rev. William Kruse and family member Ronald Bridgeforth will speak. There will be a video, light refreshments and shared remembrances. All are invited.
Maudelle Shirek, conscience of the Berkeley City Council, dies at 101
By Judith Scherr
April 11, 2013
BERKELEY -- Maudelle Shirek, city council member for 20 years, is best known for her public face: picketing the Port of Oakland to protest a shipping company doing business with apartheid South Africa, or getting handcuffed at the Claremont Hotel supporting workers organizing a union. Less well known are her visits to families in crisis or the times she brought food to an ailing elder and stayed to scrub the floors.
Shirek died peacefully Thursday night in hospice in Vallejo at the age of 101.
"She was a woman who understood that she had to have a comprehensive agenda," said Rep. Barbara Lee, whom Shirek mentored. "It couldn't just be about health care or seniors or peace and justice, but it had to be about change."
Maudelle Shirek, conscience of the Berkeley City Council, dies at 101
We've just published a page for the upcoming workers memorial day 2013 (falls on April 28th) that I thought you might be interested in posting on your site: 
You're also more than welcome to use any of the content from our memorial page on your website.
Thanks a lot!
Matthew Pelletier 
Director of Public Relations
Compliance and Safety LLC
Established in 2005 and based out of Middletown, Delaware, Compliance and Safety LLC (CandS) has quickly grown to one of the top suppliers for safety training videos on the market today. Click here to browse our wide selection of safety training kits & DVDs.  

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