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Tidbits - November 7, 2013

Reader Comments - Science, Climate Change; Angela Davis; Israel; Elections and Labor; Music and Race Relations - Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun; Weathermen; Doctors & Interns as Workers; Mondragón; Golden Rice; Civil War was About Slavery; Announcements - Stop the Attacks on the School Bus Drivers' Union-Boston-Nov 9; Art to End All Wars - Live! Auction-New York-Nov 16; Unions & Child Care: Expanding Access, Raising Standards-New York-Dec 18; Travel-Study Delegations to Cuba

.,Question Capitalism

Re: How Science is Telling Us All to Revolt

While Naomi Klein gets the problem right,  that capitalism is destroying the environment, her solution is not adequate. Mass uprisings of people while necessary are not sufficient as the Cairo Arab Spring or the Occupy Wall Street sadly demonstrate.  Without a coherent social/economic/ political analysis and strategy and the crystalization of  leadership and organization committed for the long term, for life, to carrying it through, mass movements will burn out and often lead to repression and the triumph of reactionary forces.

The old Maoist slogan , where there is oppression there is resistance, is true but that resistance spontaneously generates positive social change is not. Organization, clarity and serious long term strategy is what is missing from current social movements. How to rectify this is very difficult but we won't do it by simply calling for militant resistance.  It would be good to see some our leading left ideologues, such as  Klein, Hedges , etc devote some real thought to strategy and organization, which would involve difficult and thorough historical  analysis as well as coming to grips with the 20th century movement failures. Simply calling for militant mass resistance is easy.  Unfortunately it is not sufficient.

Mel Rothenberg

I think the current generation - those in their 20s - are becoming more concerned and more engaged in politics as a result.

The other tactic that some people have consistently taken is countercultural. They choose to lower their carbon footprint in their lifestyle, support local organic farmers, buy local goods, support environmental groups that do not invest in energy stocks, and build community. Those with business or tech skills even try to found alternative energy industries.

The problem with striking capitalists head on is that they have power, police and politicians on their side. But if enough people simply went around them and lived as we need to live to survive, and not purchase their goods or vote for people who support fossil fuels, they become irrelevant. Of course we have to do both, and soon.

Thanks for a good article Naomi Klein.

Laurel MacDowell

Re: Angela Davis Comes to Federal Way Washington

Kudos to Federal Way for recognition of a Black American icon who can contribute enormously to the educational experience of present-day children and adults.  We must face our history in America, which has been a sordid mess where people of color are concerned, and where oppression and racism have left their ugly scars on those who engaged in these dehumanizing practices as well as those who suffered, even until death, under them. Yes, taxpayer money should be used to tell her story and the stories of all those who challenged the status quo of racism in America.  It was American government and American laws and American culture  that created Angela Davis. I'm glad she's alive to speak.  America, the bully-warrior, is intimidated too easily and protests way too much!

Velva Spriggs

Re: Imploding the Myth of Israel

"Imploding the Myth of Israel" is a fascinating article, and I know of no other publication in which it would appear (except, of course, for the one from which it was reprinted).

Henry Foner

Re: Working Families See Big Wins in Tuesday's Elections
(post on Portside Labor)

Working Families Party did well. It remains to be seen how well actual working families will benefit.

Marian Feinberg
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Remembering the Turkish Brothers Who Helped Change Race Relations in America

This story on the Ertugun brothers opened my eyes and amazed me.

My paternal grandmother survived the pogrom against Greeks and Armenians of Asia Minor at the hands of the Turkish Army in September 1922 as the war between Greece and Turkey ended in Turkey's favor.

Nonetheless, my father taught me great respect for Mustapha Kemal, and due regard for the fact that Kemal and the Greek Prime Minister, Eleutherios Venizelos, got along well after 1923, as a model for all.

I am a Jewish convert and department commander for the Jewish War Veterans of the United States in MInnesota.  That the Ertugun brothers brought African-American and Euro-American musicians together at the Jewish Community Center in D.C. brings great inspiration to me.  

David Ben-Gurion always warned of the rise of a new Kemal.  We Jewish-Americans should be looking for Turkish musicians and artists today, with whom to build common ground, as did the Ertuguns and their peers.

Peter J. Nickitas

Re: Book Review: You Don't Need a Weatherman

The difference between Liberals and Progressives is that Liberals need a weathervane to know which way the wind is blowing.  Because they never look at the sky only at their checkbooks.

I was a member of SDS which evolved from the Student Peace Union.  The Weather Underground did as much to destroy the peace and freedom movement as the government did.

Claire Carsman

Re: 16-Hour Shifts, But not a Real Worker

Resident physicians hospitals considers to be still students. Student loans are required to be paid after graduating from college, they are no longer considered to be students. The hospitals have a cash cow and this is what is what they want to maintain.

Chris Dominick

Re: Mondragón and the System Problem
(post on Portside Labor)

I visited Mondragon and toured its stores and some factories -- amazing.

Carol Higgs
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

The Word "Radical"

I know you're not responsible for the language of others and that you're merely quoting pieces that others have written. But I feel that I must call your subscribers' attention to the misuse of the word "radical."

Twice in tonight's (November 2) pieces the word has been distorted, each time in a somewhat different way.

In the Monday REWIND excerpt, Elizabeth Drew of Rolling Stone writes: "The Tea Party radicals and those who either fear or cultivate them are now subjecting the food-stamp program to the same kind of assault they have unleashed on other settled policies and understandings that have been in place for decades."

In the interview of Bill McKibben ("Being Green won't Solve the Problem") one passage goes like this:

"Q: You write in the book that you're not very comfortable taking on the role of an activist. But you also say that the real radicals are a different group entirely.

"A: Whenever anyone challenges anything, the powers that be try to paint them as extremists, or radicals, or whatever. And I think that's actually nonsense. I think if you look at, say, Occupy, which is held up as the most radical thing going, or whatever, well to a large degree what people in Occupy are asking for is a system that works somewhat the way we were told in civics class it did: where everybody had some say in how things came out, and just because you have a ton of money doesn't mean you get to dominate everything.

"In the case of climate, it's very clear who the radicals are. If you're the CEO of an oil company, making a huge fortune by altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere, then you're doing something so radical that nobody in the `60s would ever have thought of it."

What's common to the two uses of the word is that in each case "radical" is taken to mean "someone nasty and extremist who should be shunned."

As I'm sure you know, the word "radical" has a long and honorable history and I protest against its meaning being distorted like this.

Gene Glickman

Re: Standing Up for Golden Rice

I just googled this for comments and found:

I think Portside readers will be interested in reading arguments opposed to this GMO.  Thanks.

Mike Wolfson


This Science editorial is shameless propaganda for corporate-driven false solutions to malnutrition.
Here is a rebuttal:

Golden Rice  Background - March 1, 2013

The so-called 'Golden' rice marketed by the biotech industry is a rice variety genetically engineered (GE) to produce pro-vitamin A. Its proponents say this GE rice could solve the problems of Vitamin A deficiency (which can lead to blindness) in developing countries.

  1. Greenpeace opposes the release of GE crops, including 'Golden' rice, into the environment.
  2. Greenpeace believes that 'Golden' rice is not an answer to Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and malnutrition, and diverts resources away from dealing with the real underlying causes of VAD, which are mainly poverty and lack of access to a more diverse diet.
  3. Greenpeace believes that money spent on fighting Vitamin A deficiency should be channelled into programs that are already working, such as the promotion of home-gardening and pills. Greenpeace believes that by combating Vitamin A deficiency with home gardens, sustainable systems are created that provide food security and diversity in a way that is empowering women and protects agro-diversity.

More information:

GE 'Golden' rice is undoubtedly one of the most ecologically dangerous ways to address Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD). In the long term, the single-crop approach of GE rice may be a serious threat to food security. GE rice does not address the underlying causes of VAD, which are mainly poverty and lack of access to a more diverse diet. This rice is an untested and superficial technological fix that may generate new problems. Vitamin A rice could, if introduced on a large scale, exacerbate malnutrition and ultimately undermine food security because it encourages a diet based on one staple rather than increase access to the many vitamin-rich food plants. These plants would address a wide variety of micronutrient deficiencies, not just VAD.

Despite all the hype about `Golden' rice, it still remains unproven whether daily consumption of `Golden' rice would actually improve the vitamin A status of people who are vitamin A deficient (1).

The solutions to fight Vitamin A deficiency, multi-nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition, are known, available and cost effective, what is lacking however is the political will and determination to put them in place.

In the past decade, great progress has been made on Vitamin A deficiency and other malnutrition problems. For example, Vitamin A deficiency is currently being successfully tackled by a combination of supplementation and home gardening in Bangladesh (2), where it was considered one of the worst public health problems 20 years ago. By looking at the root causes of the problem, a range of projects such as home gardens can eradicate not only VAD, but tackled all other nutrients and malnutrition in the same instance.

For a better understanding of Greenpeace position on 'Golden' rice, please refer to our briefing 'Golden Illusion' and report 'Lack of Lustre'

1. IRRI, 21st February, 2013. Clarifying recent news about Golden Rice.


David Schwartzman
Washington DC


Golden rice is such a perceived silver Bullet so companies can continue to Own more of our calories. What's wrong With eating any of the other hundreds of Foods that contain vitamin A? Are they Not commodities and therefore not Considered options? Wearing the mask of the The charity/industrial Complex is a good PR Strategy for companies just looking to Patent biology.



Oh the poor biotech industry

Once again we see the behind the scenes influence of the biotech and chemical corporations.

You must be getting a fat check for printing this `oh poor us' pity patter from the corporations that specialize in producing cancer, autoimmune deficiency diseases, impaired fertility and death.  Oh, let's not forget their goal to gain totalitarian control of the world's food while selling more and more glyphosate and now pushing to re-introduce DDT into the world's diet.

Progressive is no longer a word that you can meaningfully use to describe your posts.

tanya marquette

Re: The Civil War Was About Slavery

The attempt to lie about history exists in other areas-such as rewriting the history of the movement to gain civil rights for homosexual Americans.

It is done for pr reasons-for instance, the founders of the movement (early Mattachine-that lasted, there had been other brief attempts) were communists, using their tactics, as members were hiding their purpose.  It is relevant that once the secret meetings got going, they were taken over by conservatives, who then went public (ONE Magazine),

As the members became more "respectable" the early people accused them of being assimilationists.  That is why some activists concentrated on getting rid of the sodomy laws while others sought marriage equality, or to change the views of religious institutions, etc.

This is relevant to the issue of the attempt to keep slavery but claim it was states rights that was the cause of the Civil War, using the Bible, as that same Bible today is used, ironically enough by many black preachers, to demonize homosexuals.

Billy Glover

Re: Anti-Foreclosure Activists Put BlackRock in a Hard Place

Why not call the protest, Bad Years at Block Rock.

David Reno

Americans pay more for slower internet

Americans pay more for slower broadband than most countries - due to monopolizing by big business.
See here.
Dave Ecklein

Stop the Attacks on the School Bus Drivers' Union - Boston - Nov. 9

Organized Labor & Allies to Hold Boston Rally to say:
Stop the Attacks on the School Bus Drivers' Union by Union-Busters Veolia Corp and Mayor Menino
Hands Off the School Bus Union 5!

Saturday, November 9 - 1:00 P.M.
Gathering at corner of Dorchester Ave. & Hoyt St. -- Outside Veolia Corporation

MEDIA ADVISORY - Contacts:  Garry Murchison (339) 364-0999  Andre Francois (617) 759-9033

This Saturday, November 9, a solidarity demonstration will be held to defend the Boston school bus drivers' union at Veolia Transportation's office and bus yard, where for the last two weeks hundreds of the union's rank-and-file immigrant workforce - 95% of whom are from Haiti and Cape Verde -- have been holding a series of larger and more powerful rallies.

The protest is being sponsored by United Steelworkers International, the Boston School Bus Drivers' Union and a broad coalition of labor and supporters in Boston communities. The top demand is the immediate re-instatement of two terminated drivers and the complete cessation of disciplinary actions against all of the School Bus Union Five.

The broader demand is that Veolia Transportation honor the terms of the union contract, which its executives have violated repeatedly. In fact, the many Unfair Labor Practice charges the union has been forced to file with the National Labor Relations Board has prompted Boston City Councillor Charles Yancey to officially call for city hearings to determine if Veolia Transportation is in breach of its vendor contract with the City of Boston.

The hearings follow a national trend in which cities like St. Louis and Indianapolis have rejected or cancelled contracts with Veolia because of its outrageous, profits-before-people practices.

Among the union's supporters are unionized school bus drivers from New York City. "We have to stop those corporate monsters who are trying to destroy unions all over the country," said Maria Gianformaggio Gentile, a school bus driver from New York.  Gentile will be joined by fellow members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, who will be in Boston for the demonstration Saturday. Referring to Veolia's attempt to bust the sister union in Boston, Gentile said. "We can't let this happen. What happens in Boston will happen to us because we're all union."

"And of course we're reciprocating -- because in February the Boston school bus drivers sent a solidarity caravan to New York to join us on the picketline when we were on strike," Gentile said. The 1181 delegation will be joined by leaders from Parents to Improve Student Transportation-NYC, who hope to meet Boston parents interested in maintaining a high standard for school bus conditions.  Other union support of Saturday's rally includes an endorsement by Boston's International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222.

The terminated members are Vice President Steven Gillis and Grievance Chair and Local founder Stevan Kirschbaum. The suspended members are Recording Secretary and Charlestown Chief Steward Andre Francois, Local founder and Steward Richard Lynch and three-term former President Garry Murchison.

The global corporation Veolia Transportation, which sparks struggles and strikes wherever it goes has this time picked a fight with Boston's fighting union USWA Local 8751, known for having some of the highest wages and best benefits for school bus drivers in the U.S.


Art to End All Wars - Live! Auction - New York - Nov. 16

Celebrate 90 years of Revolutionary Nonviolence with 90 Artists and 90 Pieces for Peace!

Saturday November 16, 2013
Preview: Noon to 2pm
Auction: 2pm to 5pm

Starting bids range from $9-$900

Friends Meeting House
15 Rutherford Place, NYC

[See map here: ]
Subway: 6/N/R to 14th St., L to 3rd. Ave.

The War Resisters League is 90 years old. In celebration 90 artists have donated 90+ works of art for a no-reserve sale to the highest bidders. Starting bids range from $9 to $900. Go home with original art from established, emerging and "cheap art" creators.

War Resisters League are thrilled by the tremendous outpouring of support we have received by artists and activists alike, as we work to imagine and build a world without war. Join us on Saturday, November 16th for a live no-reserve auction, bid on and bring home a collectible work of art in support of visionary organizing and education against militarism.

Established artists include: Mary Frank ("Realm", pictured), a well-known painter and steadfast collaborator/supporter of the WRL; painters Augustus Goertz, Carolanna Parlato, Edith Isaac-Rose, Ray Rapp; illustrators Zina Saunders and Vera B. Williams; photographer Walter Rosenblum ("Horse, Gaspe", pictured); stage designer Stephen Kaplin and Bread & Puppet founder/director Peter Schumann; and graphic artist Seth Tobacman. Emerging artists include: Mathew Lutz-Kinoy, Devon Clark. Self-proclaimed "cheap artists" associated with Bread & Puppet and/or Great Small Works include Sam Wilson, Rachel Schragis, Alma Sheppard-Matsuo.

Special Guest Auctioneers: Jennifer Miller (Circus Amok), James Irsay (Morning Irsay on WBAI), Citizen Reno, and Rev. Billy Talen (The Church of Stop Shopping)

Art to End All Wars - Live! Auction

Unions & Child Care: Expanding Access, Raising Standards - New York - Dec. 18

Forum: Unions & Child Care: Expanding Access, Raising Standards

December 18, 2013 | 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
ILR NYC Conference Center, 16 East 34th Street, 6th Floor, NYC

Access to quality child care is vital in ensuring children get a good start in life and to promoting gender equality at work and across society. And yet across North America, governments are reducing their funding commitments to the sector. Labor unions are at the forefront of resisting these cutbacks and are organizing to improve access and raise workplace standards to ensure that child care workers get the resources they need.
Cornell Worker Institute, in cooperation with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - New York Office, is hosting a public panel discussion on unions and child care at which child care researchers, advocates and trade union representatives from Canada and the United States will share their perspectives on moving child care policy forward in their respective political contexts.

  • Simon Black, Researcher Political Science, York University
  • Martha Friendly, Executive Director, Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Child Care Canada
  • Jamie Kass, National Child Care Coordinator, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  • Deborah King, Chair, New York Union Child Care Coalition
  • Nancy Kolben, Executive Director, Center for Children's Initiatives
  • Vicky Smallman, National Director for Women's & Human Rights, Canadian Labour Congress
  • Mildred Warner, Professor City and Regional Planning, Cornell University
  • Representative from DC 1707, AFSCME - invited
  • Representative from United Federation of Teachers - invited
  • Moderator:  KC Wagner, Director Workplace Issues and Co-chair Equity at Work, The Worker Institute at Cornell

This event is free. To RSVP contact Stacy Reynolds, or 212-340-2809.  For more information about the forum contact Ian MacDonald at

Travel-Study Delegations to Cuba - January and March

I'm writing to invite you, your family and friends to travel to Cuba with Disarm/Global Health Partners in 2014 and take part in an extraordinary journey. By experiencing Cuba with us, you'll have a great opportunity to engage in uniquely meaningful interactions with the Cuban people, their lives, and vibrant culture.

You asked us to alert you as soon as travel details were available; we're happy to provide you now with information on dates, itineraries and costs. These trips are limited to 18 people, are priced significantly lower than most trips of this caliber, and will fill quickly. Our two scheduled tours will take place from:

  • Saturday, January 18th, 2014 to Sunday, January 26, 2014
  • Saturday, March 1st, 2014 to Sunday, March 9th, 2014

We'll open the doors to your unique journey by providing you with impressive itineraries that take you from the artists' studios of Old Havana to the lush pastoral landscapes of sugar cane fields. Each trip will explore a broad range of interests - such as art, architecture, music and politics - so you'll be fully immersed in experiencing the real Cuba, and getting to know its people. Your guides and translators are accessible, expert and experienced in creating compelling, exciting encounters that will make your visit hugely successful and truly unforgettable.

Travel with Disarm/GHP is fully authorized under a US Treasury Department People-to-People license granted to Disarm (License # CT-2013-300210-1). If you're interested in exploring Cuba with us please contact me directly by email at, or by calling us at (212) 353-9800.  We'll get back to you quickly with details about availability, itinerary, cost and accommodations. If you're interested in customized travel, please check our website for additional information.

We looks forward to traveling with you to Cuba this coming year. It will be a joy and an honor to experience Cuba with you, and a way of expressing our thanks for your continued support.

Bob Schwartz
Executive Director

Telephone: (212) 353-9800

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