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Tidbits - March 20, 2014

Reader Comments - Tony Benn; Labor organizing; BDS and American Jews; Seniors; Mayor de Blasio; Education - Charters, Testing, Children's Literature, Adjuncts; Real Irish American history; Keystone XL; Neil deGrasse Tyson on Cosmos; Announcements: GLobal Protests Against Racism and Fascism - this Saturday; Cecily McMillan Trial Update; New books/resources - New Labor in New York; Living Wage Calculator; Getting Back to Full Employment; Truth About Three Mile Island

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - March 20, 2014,Portside

Re: Tony Benn, Veteran Labour Politician, Dies Aged 88

There are good reasons why it was named "the Labour Party" - reasons and principles that its current leaders want everyone to forget. It was built by workers to be THEIR party - a party for the working class, for peace, and for democratic socialism. Tony Benn fought relentlessly for the Labour Party's founding principles.

Alan Hart


Tony Benn's inspiration traversed the ocean.  We shall remember.

James Young

Re: Mr. and Mrs. Labor-Management: Struggling to Make Their Marriage Work

Dear Ms. Labor:

Let's see if I got this right.

You were in an abusive exploitative relationship.  You couldn't take it any longer so you decided the solution was to marry your abuser.

You believed that having a CBA would protect you but failed to consider that the level of protection afforded by any contract is a function of the power relationship between the parties entering into it.

You seem to believe that it is the CBA rather than your power in the relationship that will force your abuser to either treat you fairly or enter into couple's therapy (mediation). You also appear to assume that the state which establishes the rules under which this relationship is sanctioned is a neutral party interested only in what is fair and just for all concerned.

If your marriage "partner" will allow you to access the internet, do a search for "Stockholm Syndrome".  You are suffering a delusional state that is a direct result of the dysfunctional relationship in which you find yourself.

When you reach the point when you recognize that your abuser is incapable of changing his character, consider some alternative strategies to liberate yourself from this degrading relationship.

You'll find you have lots of company.  If we learn how to work together, we can not only escape the relationship.  We can put our abuser in the ash bin of history and start charting our course forward without him.

In solidarity,

Michael Eisenscher


Did labor sign the pre-nup?

Charles Levenstein
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: BDS and American Jews; Israelis Resist Draft

Sarah Lazare writes:
"The term "Shministim" caught on in 2008 when 100 young people signed an open letter <>refusing the draft, and the years since have seen waves of conscientious objection."

This is not true. The term Shministim, which simply means "12 graders" in Hebrew, caught on as a term for those questioning military service in 1970 with the first such letter to Golda Meir. Gadi Algazi was part of a group in 1979 known as the Shministim. Another group emerged right before the start of the 1st intifada in 1987. And there have been others since.

What is new, is that earlier waves usually engaged in selective refusal (refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories) while the current crop tends to choose total refusal.

Charles Lenchner

Re: As Living Standards Fall for Seniors, Some See Signs of `Silver Revolution'

Let us rage and act.

Nancy Leff
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Interesting, relevant news items. More news items by and about senior citizens' activism would be welcome!

Best regards from Stockholm where some activist inspiration for the elderly is sorely needed.

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Media Up to Old Tricks in de Blasio Bashing

Looks like a case of Democrats liking to talk the talk and then take a walk leaving de Blasio out on a limb.  Never fails the whole bunch of them down there and here are useless scum.

William Friesen

Re: Lawsuit Opposes 'Co-located' Private Schools

The way to really go after the charter schools and their undertaxed wealthy donors is to say:

Fine, we will let you share a public school building but ONLY IF every cent you or anyone invests in that charter school is matched by a similar investment in the public school. Any equipment provided, improvements made, supplies, etc. be provided equally to the public school and its students. That's all. If investors won't do that, they can't share the space. Period. It is a convenient say to tax the rich without going through Albany!!

What do you think??

Marilyn Vogt-Downey


Not only this, but this is just another way of funneling public funds to private schools...

If they wanna be private, then let them take their schools to private locations and pay all the law requires...

Mark Binder

Re: Seattle School Teachers Boycotted Testing and Sparked A National Movement

Read the article about teachers' strike against tests with great interest. Here in Sweden, school issues are in the news more than ever before. Kids' results are declining by international comparisons, teachers are overworked and overloaded with documentation, tests, etc. but protests are luke-warm. I'd like to forward your article to "L,rartidningen" (The teachers' magazine) which my Teacher's Union publishes. How do I do it technically the easiest way? Thankful for your help. "Portside" was sent me by New York friends and I find it most interesting.

Best regards from Stockholm
Katarina Wallin-White
Retired language teacher

Re: The Apartheid of Children's Literature

This should be required reading for every bookstore, library, parent, teacher, politician; in other words, everyone, then a concrete plan of action to remedy this situation.

Furaha Youngblood
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Professors in Homeless Shelters: It is Time to Talk Seriously About Adjuncts

This problem is as widespread as it is blatantly cruel and exploitative. Makes my blood boil. Capitalism supply-demand dynamic at work.

Roland Jesperson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools

At the 150th anniversary of the famine some of the dafter elements of nationalist interpretation actually got addressed. Sure the famine was a product of the imposition of a capitalist political economy rationale on Ireland, explicitly so given the rejection of the report of the Irish Commission on the Poor Law and the consequent imposition of a version of the English Poor Law. That rag of global capitalism, the Economist, actually saw the famine as a good thing. BUT and here is the big BUT the major beneficiaries of the famine were not the landlords per se who never got control of their land given the subsequent land acts, but the 'strong farmers' who either already existed or emerged through the consolidation of conacre style tenancies and the development of tenancy rights generally converted into owner occupation.

Hence the dominance of Irish politics by gombeen capitalism, jumped up in the years of the Celtic Tiger to be global in its own right.  And the strong farmers were just as much responsible for exports as the landlords by the way. Also the major destination of the poorest elements of the famine diaspora was not North America but Britain where 25% of the population have some sort of Irish origin, a factor systematically ignored in Ireland since it contradicts the nationalist rhetoric and generally in England although Scottish work does address it, as indeed it should given the history of rancid anti Irishness in Scotland until very recently.

David Byrne

Re: Nurses Demand State Department Certify That Keystone XL Will Not Have Adverse Health Effects

I am sure that I am not the only reader that is rendered confused by the headline of your communication:  Nurses Demand State Department Certify That Keystone XL Will Not Have Adverse Health Effects," as well as its opening sentence, when the rest of the story seems to convey the exact opposite.  One of the following sentences states that "NNU announced its opposition to Keystone in early 2013, citing harmful health hazards then emerging with tar sands oil, tar sands pipeline spills, and tar sands refining, as well as for the long term contribution tar sands and Keystone add to the climate crisis."  On an issue of such vital impact on our future health and well-being, what is a concerned reader to make of such apparently contradictory assessments?

Henry Foner


This is great.

Diane Laison
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Neil deGrasse Tyson on "Cosmos," How Science Got Cool, and Why He Doesn't Debate Deniers

Here is what I sent to the editors at ClimateDesk:

Dear Chris Mooney,

Thanx for your article about why Dr Degrasse-Tyson should tackle the Creationist head on...

I think Dr Degrasse-Tyson is going to let the series layout the argument that Creationism is absurd.


Because he is a Black scientist in the Age of Hyper-Racism. For the norm of White America the idea of a Black Astrophysicist creates cognitive dissonance and doubt about his ability to know the facts because of the intellectual limits of his brain. This is the Black Hole lurking in the room-- sucking out all forms of rationality for many viewers.

It will take the whole series-- and more --to convince the majority of US folk who watch Cosmos that Dr Degrasse-Tyson is more than a jovial deliverer of complex and mind-blowing understanding of Nature and Humanity. That he actually has his own thoughts about the nature of Nature and has been a contributor to the advancement of that science.

The political-cultural context of the US today is far more conservative than during Carl Sagan's time. And don't forget he was a White Male Scientist... the "true" bearer of scientific truth" according to racist norms. The science deniers, the Creationists, the Climate Deniers were politically and financially weak because during the late 70s thru the 80s the more liberal open view of science was the dominant cultural form within academia-- including most of public education systems.

Dr Neil DeGrase Tyson faces a more "dumbed down" populace within a heavily funded and promoted climate of a Tea Party Mentality that can't stand the fact that a Black Man was elected president of the US twice... and that the US is soon to be majority of People of Color like the rest of the world. If  DeGrase Tyson confronted the science-deniers and Creationists head on- like Sagan did -even Fox would send out the media hordes and attack him like he was some antiChristian intellectual terrorist. His mere presence at the center of the programs riles them to high levels of cognitive dissonance. Just like how they foam at their political mouths everyday around what Prez Obama says and does.

So, Dr DeGrase Tyson has chosen to stay out of the fray and let Cosmos the Series do the talking for him and Science. He rightfully sees that the series is primarily about educating a critically dumbed down populace. And the starting point is to watch and discuss the show as well as to stimulate the young open minds all over Planet Earth to believe in Science... and to DO Science for the sake of Humanity and Mother Earth. When most of the young world (inside and outside of the US) watches Cosmos with a African Descendent Astrophysicist at the helm, it convinces them that they too can "do science."

Let the Science/Climate Deniers and Creationists foam at the mouth thru out the series. Even with the billions of 1% rightwing money behind them, they will not be able to reverse the enthusiasm and inquiry of young minds that are now fascinated about what science can bring them and what they can bring to science. Like all the laws and barriers set up to keep Blackfolk enslaved and Women subordinate, the enslaved youth and oppressed women fought to be free in spite of the odds, the Cosmos-inspired Youth will upset the antiscience norm as well as the racist norm of the current crop of  Science/Climate Deniers and Creationists.

This 2 1/2 year old Black girl reacting to Cosmos IS the Future of Humanity

She- and millions of youngsters like her right here in the US and elsewhere -will render the Science/Climate Deniers and Creationists as mere annoying gnats flittering around edges of their Science Work.

Our task is to help make this happen-- not try to force to have Dr Degrasse Tyson debate the lunatic fringe on their soundbite TV turf.

In Struggle,

Sam Anderson
Retired Math and Black History Professor

Re: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Shows Science and Religion Can Co-Exist In 'Cosmos'

I love Portside and the outstanding new[s] it brings me, but Degrasse Tyson is a charlatan.

Religion is dogmatic belief, whereas science is the dispassionate investigation of nature. The two are utterly incompatible. Anyone arguing for a symbiosis between and Christianity and science or speaking of "theological truth" can be proven to be a liar. Here's one proof: A scientific proposition, to be scientific, must be falsifiable. Religious belief cannot be falsified because it has no empirical component. Therefore, religion is not falsifiable and therefore may not form the basis of truth claims.

Please pull this story.

Thank you,

Greg Felton


Saturday, March 22nd, 2014, 1-3pm Greek Consulate, 69 East 79th Street, Manhattan

On March 22nd we protest with thousands of people around the world in Greece, Britain, France, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Cyprus, Australia and elsewhere, against the rise of fascism and racism, state authoritarianism and police violence. The initiative was launched in Greece, where the neo-fascist threat posed by Golden Dawn is well known. Please join us!

London march poster

Amsterdam march poster

Cecily McMillan Trial Update - Trial starts April 7 in New York

UPDATE FROM THE COURTHOUSE: The judge has made the decision to DENY the defense's pre-trial motion. We were, however, granted access to the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) disciplinary files regarding Officer Bovell's involvement in the Bronx ticket fixing scandal. Jury selection is definitively starting on Monday, April 7th. Thank you all for the amazing turnout today! We had two court sketch artists and over 50 people! See you all in two weeks!

"I was honored to be with Cecily and many other NYC activists this morning at Cecily's hearing. Here is my quick sketch of Cecily, her attorney and the judges. I plan to be back April 7 for the trial to help publicize the truth about the terrible ordeal Cecily has endured for two years running." Deb Vanpoolen

Address: 100 Centre Street, Part 41

Jury selection begins April 7th.

Cecily is facing a recommended sentence of up to 7 years in prison and the reality of living out the rest of her life as a convicted felon after receiving brutal beatings and harassment by the NYPD. We would love for you to come and show your support of her and her case!

Exclusive: OWS Activist Cecily McMillan Describes Seizure, Bodily Injuries in Arrest by NYPD
Re-Occupied: Protesters strike back after dozens of arrests in Zuccotti Park where one activist 'suffers seizure after she is beaten up by police'

  • Cecily McMillan, 23, arrested during protest on St Patrick's Day
  • Footage uploaded to YouTube shows 'woman convulsing on floor surrounded by officers'

In the best interests of her trial, everyone who comes needs to wear proper business casual clothing and remain calm and respectful in the courtroom.

More information:  #Justice4Cecily- PACK THE COURTS!!

Book Release - April 8 - Book Party for NEW LABOR IN NEW YORK

Useful resource - Poverty in America - Living Wage Calculator

Introduction to the Living Wage Calculator

In many American communities, families working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to live locally given the local cost of living. Recently, in a number of high-cost communities, community organizers and citizens have successfully argued that the prevailing wage offered by the public sector and key businesses should reflect a wage rate required to meet minimum standards of living. Therefore we have developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region. The calculator lists typical expenses, the living wage and typical wages for the selected location.

Select a Location
To get started, enter a location into the search box above, or browse to a location using the list below.

New Book - Getting Back to Full Employment by Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker

    "A gem of a book -- explaining why full employment is so important and how it can be achieved. Mandatory reading for every concerned citizen."
    -- Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor.

While most people intuitively know that low unemployment is important to job seekers, they may not realize that high levels of employment actually would make an enormous difference in the lives of large segments of the workforce who already have jobs. Particularly in an era of historically high wage and income inequality, many in the workforce depend on full employment labor markets, and the bargaining power it provides, to secure a fair share of the economy's growth. For the bottom third or even half of the wage distribution, high levels of employment are a necessary condition for improving wages, higher incomes, and better working conditions.
Getting Back to Full Employment is a follow-up to a book written a decade ago by the authors, The Benefits of Full Employment (Economic Policy Institute, 2003). It builds on the evidence presented in that book, showing that real wage growth for workers in the bottom half of the income scale is highly dependent on the overall rate of unemployment. In the late 1990s, when the United States saw its first sustained period of low unemployment in more than a quarter century, workers at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution were able to secure substantial gains in real wages. When unemployment rose in the 2001 recession, and again following the collapse of the housing bubble, most workers no longer had the bargaining power to share in the benefits of growth. The book also documents another critical yet often overlooked side effect of full employment: improved fiscal conditions (without mindless budget policies like the current sequestration). Finally, in this volume, unlike the earlier one, the authors present a broad set of policies designed to boost growth and get the unemployment rate down to a level where far more workers have a fighting chance of getting ahead.
Getting Back to Full Employment is available as a free download (pdf) and paperbacks are available at cost or on iBook, Kindle, Nook, Mobi, Kobo and other ebook retailers. While the book is available here free, donations  to CEPR are welcome.

The Truth About Three Mile Island

March 28th will mark 35 years since the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, PA.

Beyond Nuclear has prepared a special edition of our newsletter, The Thunderbird, focused entirely on examining the truth about the TMI disaster. View and download it here.

In it we debunk the myth that "no one died" and look at how much radiation really got out; the health effects; the fiasco of evacuation; and the parallels between the TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima catastrophes.

Beyond Nuclear
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, MD 20912

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