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Tidbits - November 28, 2013

Reader Comments - Black Friday protests; Walmart and retail workers; Congress filibuster; Warren, Sanders - the 2016 elections; healthcare; Detroit; Climate Change; "Hunger Games;" Africa; Iran; Announcements - NC Music Love Army benefit album; New Books - What We Can Learn from the New Deal and JFK - The Cuba Files the untold story of the plot;; Performance-talk and jam - Nueva Canción - New York - Dec 6; PM Press - Holiday Sale and Upcoming Releases!

Black Friday Walmart Protests,

Attend a Black Friday Protest Near You!

Enter your zip code here.

Re: The Top 10 Myths About Working Retail - At the Holidays and Beyond

One could rewrite Dickens' Christmas Carol to feature a Wal-Mart manager as Scrooge.

Karyne Dunbar

Outdone - poem for Walmart

[The Ohio branch of Walmart placed signs in its stores requesting shoppers to make food donations for its "Associates," the Walmart term for its employees.]


O you bards of pungent pen
whose barbs have prickled mighty men
the venom of your noble art
was rendered inert by Walmart.
That behemoth of retail stores
that blankets states and bridges shores
has by this Scrooge-like enterprise
outdone your gift to satirize:
They1ve asked their shoppers for donations
to boost their low-wage workers1 rations.

No wiles of yours may stamp this act
more biting than the stated fact.
And so, you bards of pungent pen,
if you would work your craft again
turn elsewhere, there be realized,
for Walmart stands self-satirized.

Seymour Joseph

Re: A Progressive Victory on the Filibuster

Is it possible that Republicans are once again smarter than Democrats? Remember, McConnell a few years back, when in control argued to eliminate the filibuster. Watch the videos from back then and he sounds exactly like Reid today. I wonder if they were playing a long game. What if they used current nominees as pawns? What if their real goal was to get Reid to do exactly what he did? Then if the day comes when they again control the Senate, they can say "We didn't do it." So is all this current horrified, outraged chest beating  just a sham? Was the escalation of filibusters to outrageous levels just a way to push Democratic buttons, get them to do the dirty work for Republican future gains? They will now be able to say that Democrats have no one but themselves to blame.

Daniel Jordan, PhD

Re: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders-Run in 2016?

There won't be a savior. Save yourself. Save us, too. Who, in particular, populates the presidency matters less than who serves on the County Commission. It's good to think globally, but be sure to act locally

Burt Wartell
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Affordable Care - This is What is Needed to Help Win the Public Support

We need a counter, like the National Debt clock, that combines all those newly insured and signed up, either for the federal system or one of the state systems.  Every person signing up is a victory for health care legislation.

So, can a reader of Portside help? I think it would be something like this:

  • A Healthcare SignUp clock similar to the National Debt Clock. This clock would keep a running count of how many people are signing up in real time.

Am appealing to Portside computer programmers, readers, geeks, hackers - surely there is someone out there that can do this.

Next question, would Portside then run this on the Portside website? Would unions and other organizations?


Re: The Detroit Bankruptcy

The P/L bottom line analysis of Detroit's fiscal problems is certainly correct if one only looks at the bottom line.  But there is more going on with the problems in Detroit.  As a many years resident in Detroit it is still a city that is vibrant at its core.  An old union friend once described Detroit as "the worker's city."  Attached is a letter I sent to the LA Times, when it had an article asking is racism is part of the problem.  Of Course it is.  Attached is the letter I sent to the LATimes which they did not publish.  Detroit represents the absolute crises of capitalism gone wild and the absolute denial that racism still exists in our country.

"Thank you for finally talking about one of the main issues in Detroit: race.  I'm a white woman, originally from New York, who went to Wayne State University, met and married my husband there, and started a ballet company there with the help and support of Coleman Young and the community.  When my husband was transferred to LA in 1977 I was devastated.  I loved Detroit then, and I still love it.

The issue of racism is not new to the problems of Detroit.  Detroit, thanks to the unions and progressive movements, became the first northern city where Black people gained an active political and social voice.   In your article,  your quote by McLellan hit it right on the head: the factories moved out and took the downtown and the economy with them.  Unlike other major cities, New York is a prime example, Detroit was left to wither and die without any government help.  The so-called "Bailout of Detroit" actually had nothing to do with the City of Detroit.  The factories are festering in disrepair and the auto workers, among the best in the world, are still unemployed.  The Detroit Institute of Art is recognizably among the best in the world, the Detroit Public Libraries was a leader in research and branch libraries.  There was a time when there wasn't a jazz group that didn't have at least one sideman from Detroit and let's not forget about Motown.  And JL Hudson's downtown store, 14 floors and 3 basements, rivaled Macy's.  Additionally, there were vibrant ethnic communities.  Detroit embodied the real exceptionalism of the United States.

Snyder's "emergency manager" deal, overturned by voters, was turned back on in a backroom, late night deal with a changed word. Snyder needs to go and the people of Detroit, the Black, white, Latino and Middle-Eastern need to get the City back.

Claire Carsman

Re: How to Reverse a Slow-Motion Apocalypse - Why the Divestment Movement Against Big Energy Matters

Can someone tell me how a divestment from fossil fuels will directly and with certainty reduce the consumption of fossil fuels?

Maybe I am missing something here but I wager that everyone who supports divestment owns and drives at least one car, probably two if they live in the suburbs or a rural area. If they live south of the Canada, chances are they also use at least one air conditioner at some time in the well as a microwave oven, TV, radio, computer, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, toaster, refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and light up their home with electricity. If their families live far away, chances are they  or their families fly during holidays for visits, and some of them may also fly regularly for business.

Let me stick my neck out a bit and say this: that the climate/energy crisis derives directly from overconsumption of energy due to historically cheap prices made possible by various subsidies and tax breaks. It seems obvious to me, an ordinary person, that the most important thing we can do is REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION.  Are you still with me, folks?

If you disagree with me, I'd like to hear your story. If you agree, then let's move on to answer the question: HOW can we reduce energy consumption?

There are several ways, some quicker than others; all are needed. The first is INCREASING THE PRICE OF ENERGY through ending the subsidies and tax breaks and imposing a carbon tax as well as a separate gasoline tax to hit the largest sector of the economy the hardest. (Another way of raising prices would be to restrict supply by banning new exploitation of oil and gas, and closing all coal power plants).

The second is through mandatory energy efficiency standards and procedures, which will affect the other large sector: buildings. (This sector may consume more than cars and trucks actually).

The third would be via rationing of gasoline and banning the use of cars in cities on certain days each week.

An indirect method would be to provide free public transportation to encourage people to leave their cars at home.

Then there are all the other institutional and structural means involving land use, taxation,  mortgages, making sprawl costly and difficult.

So now that I've laid out some solutions, can someone make an argument that fossil fuel divestment will, more than any of these, accomplish our goal of reducing energy use as quickly as possible?

 Now, it certainly would be CHEAPER to divest, and a lot more convenient and comfortable for Americans not to fork over more money for energy. Maybe this little fact is why divestment is getting so much support? And why a carbon tax and efficiency standards are not even on the table for discussion?

If Bill McKibben had any political smarts and were honest, he'd be pushing these other strategies to reduce consumption instead of pointing the finger at the oil companies who are, let's face it, just giving us the product we demand. We don't have to fill up our gas tanks or run our air conditioners....but we do. We're quite happy just giving money to Exxon et al to give us what we still refuse to relinquish: cheap energy whenever we want it, at a price we can afford (i.e. one gallon of gasoline still costs less than one gallon of milk, something arguably far more valuable and necessary).

I am really really fed up with these phony distracting campaigns, which take advantage of people who should know better but aren't willing to find out the facts. In Europe gasoline costs about $9 a gallon. As a result Europeans have functioning public transportation systems, among all the other amenities that civilized society has and should have. This country is floundering and on the verge of drowning as its economy and environment go down the tubes because hardly anyone, McKibben included, understands that the capitalist growth model is doomed and that a serious transition to a low=energy, low throughput society is desperately needed.

Where is the leadership that will tell the truth?

Lorna Salzman

Re: Americas' Natives Have European Roots

The article makes some powerful assumptions for some personal reasons of the author, a European descendant.  

Yes, well, two related facts are that:

1. Modern European populations are descended from some of the same populations as some of the native populations of North America at the time of recent contact.

Not surprising that all humans carry some of the genes of all other humans.
as with Kennewick, some would make this into proof that "Europeans" first settled the "new world". Remember the Nordic group going there to claim him as an ancestor and dance where he was found?

However the one-way hypothesis seems to suggest that the only possibility is that those males only went to North America and settled. could they have come from north America?

2. They might have COME FROM North America to interact with the ancestors of Indo-European, Turkic and Semitic speaking populations in that area north and east of the Black Sea and up to the Caucasus, over to Kiev and such.

There have been finds of million-year-old hominoid fossils in that same area and northeast of there.

The same ancestral Indo-European genes were well-settled in Wales at that time and the Mongol-Turkic, Semitic and Indo-European groups were still forming. How can one calls these "European".


John Allison, Double-Agent Anthropologist

Re: Film Review - The Hunger Games (three angles, three reviews)

This movie is about the USA now. These reviews might make your want to see it.

Ed Whitfield

Re: With Scant Media Attention, 'Human Catastrophe of Epic Proportions' Unfolding

The role of  Christian terrorist  groups in creating this situation in central Africa  has indeed been given scant attention.  It is important that  we not simply  repeat the Muslims-are-bad-guys background noise to horrible  misuse and abuse of human being in the name of religion.  Its not hard to see past this; so lets try. even Wikipedia [not an in depth source  explains] ;

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), also known as the Lord's Resistance Movement, is a militant movement, which is described by some as a new religious movement or a cult which operated in northern Uganda and South Sudan. Since 2005 there have been claims that the group has entered the Democratic Republic of Congo, but in 2007 it was reported that they were in Central African Republic. The LRA has been accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, child-sex slavery,  and forcing children to participate in hostilities.  

Rachel deAragon

Re: US-Iran War Averted by Agreement to Negotiate on Nuclear Enrichment

I think that a large part of the world's problems stems from sleep deprivation.  World leaders and their policy wonks are borderline psychopaths to start with, and the maddening feeling that they have to control everything by working 18-hour days, nights and weekends, pushes them over the edge.  A lot of our problems could be avoided if they got eight, or even seven, hours sleep a night.

Sterling Vinson

NC Music Love Army releases Moral Monday benefit album


The NC Music Love Army will release an album on Nov. 26, with benefits going to progressive groups working in the state.

North Carolina's Moral Monday movement inspired more than 900 people to get arrested for engaging in civil disobedience while protesting the extremist policies of the current legislature.

It also inspired a lot of great music that will soon be available for listening everywhere.

On Nov. 26, the NC Love Army, an alliance of musicians who support the NAACP-led Moral Monday movement, is releasing a 10-track album on vinyl, CD and for download titled "We Are Not for Sale: Songs of Protest." All proceeds from sales will go to progressive organizations working for civil rights, voting rights, and choice rights in North Carolina.

A release concert and fundraiser followed by a dance party is planned for Nov. 30 at the Cat's Cradle nightclub in Carrboro, N.C.

The NC Music Love Army got its start in June when Old Ceremony frontman Django Haskins returned home from one of the weekly protests and wrote and posted to YouTube his song "We Are Not for Sale." After seeing Haskins' video, Charlotte, N.C. musician Jon Lindsay wrote and recorded "NC GOP Just Don't Know Me," also posting that to YouTube.

That same night, Raleigh singer-songwriter Caitlin Cary of Tres Chicas saw Lindsay's video and called him, and thus began the Love Army. Musicians from across the state began to enlist. They include artists such as Chris Stamey from The dB's, Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Audley Freed of Cry of Love, The Black Crowes, and Sheryl Crow's band.

Here's how the Army describes its mission: "We are a united force composed of your favorite musicians set to battle against the regressive legislation of the current administration. We are outraged. We fight with songs. We win with your ears and with your help."

To view a promo video for the album, click here.

To order the album, go here.

New book announcement on what we can learn from the New Deal

When Government Helped: Learning from the Successes and Failures of the New Deal

Edited by Sheila D. Collins and Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg

The Great Depression and Great Recession are frequently compared, and so are the responses of the New Deal and the Obama administration to these economic crises. None of the comparisons, however, systematically examines what the successes and failures of the New Deal can teach us about solutions to the Great Recession and its aftermath. This book fills that gap by evaluating New Deal approaches to relief, recovery and reform along a wide range of policy issues, including a response to environmental degradation that is of particular contemporary relevance. The book offers new perspectives on the Great Depression and the choices taken by New Dealers on issues similar to those that confront contemporary publics. Through doing so, it demonstrates some possible ways out of our malaise - policies and programs that began modestly but were expanded, that were initiated but never fulfilled in the 1930s, that were raised as possibilities by popular movements but not allowed onto the political agenda, that were enacted but either discontinued or diminished, or that were simply unforeseen in an earlier era. Thus, the book presents a set of guide posts - some beneficial, some cautionary--for the future.

        "When Government Helped is a revelatory collection of essays. It sheds light on how the New Deal order was put together, how it transformed American public life, and where it failed to go far enough. Even more exciting these essays are written in light of the recent near collapse of our economy and draw valuable lessons from the past about how to deal with our present dilemma."

        -Steve Fraser, Co-Editor, The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order



[Thanks to the authors for letting Portside readers know about their new book.]

New Book - JFK: The Cuba Files - The untold story of the plot to kill Kennedy

By Fabián Escalante

Ocean Press
ISBN 978-1-920888-14-5
260 pages
Regular price US$16.95 Our price US$12.71
Also available in Spanish

Amid continuing speculation over Cuban involvement in the most famous political crime of the 20th century, this book reveals for the first time Cuba's own report into the Kennedy assassination. With compelling logic, Fabián Escalante describes the conspiracy uncovered by Cuba's investigation, which reviewed declassified US files and reports from Cuban intelligence units that had infiltrated anti-Castro groups in Miami. This anti-Kennedy conspiracy brought together three groups that violently opposed the Cuban revolution - the Cuban exiles, the Mafia, and the CIA - who all felt betrayed by the Bay of Pigs debacle and Kennedy's apparent moves toward a rapprochement with Fidel Castro.

By assassinating President Kennedy and presenting the crime as a Cuba-inspired plot, they hoped to remove an obstacle to their plans and to provide a pretext for decisive military action against Cuba.

Fabián Escalante Font was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1940. As a young political activist he suffered persecution and was imprisoned for his activities against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Following the 1959 Cuban revolution, he joined the newly created Department of State Security, where he carried out varied activities against counterrevolutionary organizations and the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, including the latter's Operation AM/LASH - a plan to assassinate Fidel Castro. He directed the investigations that the Cuban government carried out at the request of the US Select Committee of the House of Representatives, when the investigation into the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy was reopened in 1978. Escalante was a Division General of the Ministry of the Interior and between 1976 and 1982 was head of the State Security Department (G-2). He is internationally recognized as an authority on the CIA and its operations in Cuba and Latin America.

Published as part of the Secret War series.

Performance-talk and jam - Nueva Canción - New York - Dec. 6

Performance-talk and jam with Prof. Colleen Kattau. 7:30 PM. At OSA Hall, 220 East 23rd Street, suite 707, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Manhattan. General admission: $15. FMSNY members or full-time students: $12. Nueva Canción is a movement of folk, folk-inspired, and socially committed music that originated in the 1960s and continues to this day. It is to Latin America what the Folk Music Revival of the 1960s is to North America. Colleen Kattau, Associate Professor of Spanish at SUNY Cortland, is both a scholar and an accomplished performer of Nueva Canción. In this educational workshop she will present an overview of the movement, its origins, its development, and its impact, and she will illustrate her talk with a live performance. After a short break, Prof. Kattau will lead a one-hour Latin folk jam. All instruments are welcome. No previous knowledge of either Spanish or Nueva Canción is required. For information please e-mail Steve Suffet at or call him at 718-786-1533.

Friday, December 6, 2013 -- 7:30pm until 10:30pm

OSA Hall
220 East 23rd Street - Suite 707
between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Manhattan

Download flyer here

Sponsored by the Folk Music Society of New York - the New York Pinewoods Folk Music Club

PM Press, Holiday Sale and Upcoming Releases!

We can't list everything happening in one email, but click on the relevant images for more info or check it all out HERE.

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