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Tidbits - June 5, 2014

Reader Comments - Edward Snowden, NSA and NBC; Police Crimes; U.S. Cuba Policy; Tiananmen Anniversary; Ralph Fasanella's Art; Prisons and Solidarity Confinement; Workers and Labor; Taxes and Economic Growth; Carbon Pollution; New Populism; Sexual Harassment; Sexual assault of women protestors in India; Les Orear - R.I.P.

Tidbits, Reader Comments, and Shorts - June 5, 2014,Portside

Re: NBC News Confirms Attempt by Edward Snowden to Go Through Channels at NSA

The NSA has produced one email from Snowden asking for clarification on whether an Executive Order superseded legislation. They claim he never went through channels, ever, about anything he was reading that reached the level of 'whistleblowing.'

Rough Acres
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Me? The massive invasion of our lives by Mr Bush & Mr. Obama is the evil to be opposed. Label Mr S what you like, what he did has been great, IMO.

Daniel Millstone
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Thank you. I was a whistleblower in the Army, different subject, got the same reaction Snowden did. That reaction of disdain or hostility is the norm in govt on ALL subjects for whistleblowing, including reporting the serving of outdated food to children in school cafeterias!  References include various articles and law reviews on this subject:

* David W. Ewing, "Canning Directions: How the Government Rids Itself of Troublemakers," /Harpers[1]/ 16, 18, 22 (August 1979)
  1. transfer to irrelevant assignment
  2. abolish the whistleblower's job
  3. refuse to provide pertinent records
  4. file false charges
  5. cause high legal bills
  6. falsely accuse of insanity
  7. cut their budget
  8. transfer away their co-workers
  9. close his office without warning
  10. deprive of promotion

* Martin H. Malin, "Protecting the Whistleblower from Retaliatory Discharge[2]," 16 (#2) /University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform/ 277 (February 1983)
* Stephen[3] M. Kohn[4] and Michael D. Kohn, "An Overview of Federal and State Whistleblower Protection," 4 /Antioch Law Journal/ 99-152 (Summer 1986)
* Thomas M. Devine & Donald G. Aplin, "Abuse of Authority: The Office of the Special Counsel and Whistleblower Protection," 4 /Antioch Law Journal[5]/ 5-71 (Summer 1986)
* Cynthia L. Estlund, "Free Speech and Due Process in the Workplace[6]," 71
(#1) /Indiana Law Journal[7]/. 101 (Winter 1995)
* Thomas M. Devine, "The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989: Foundation for the Modern Law of Employment Dissent[8]," 51 /Administrative Law Review/ (#2) 531-577 (Spring 1999)
* Alex B. Long, "Retaliatory Discharge and the Ethical Rules Governing
Attorneys[9]," 79 /University of Colorado Law Review/ 1043 (2008)
* Julia Davis, "Office of Special Counsel (OSC) - The Dark Legacy[10]" (/The Examiner/, 23 July 2010)

Leroy Pletten

Re: Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial ? and Kerry Is Wrong

I thought Kerry's comment was just nonsense and totally untrue. It is shocking that in the U.S. today a young man who has revealed the extent of government surveillance on everyone, has to live in a foreign country because he knows he will not have a fair trial at home and he will be jailed indefinitely in his home country. I worry about how long he can remain in Russia. He wanted to go to South America and it would be the decent thing for the American government to do, to let him transfer his place of residence. The irony is that the Russian dictator is protecting him when his own government can only besmirch his reputation.

Anyway it is a disgrace. We should be grateful to Snowden. He is a hero. He deserves a fair trial as a minimum.

Laurel MacDowell

Re: National Forum on Police Crimes Calls for Civilian Police Accountability Councils

"The Forum participants voted to organize campaigns in support of legislation for a Civilian Police Accountability Council."
This is an important discussion, but it must be raised in terms of democracy and power. Police "accountability" groups that have no authority over the police departments can not change things, and may worsen the problem by giving people a false sense of accountability, pacifying them.  Many cities have police "advisory" groups, or "oversight" or "review" boards, such as the Los Angeles Police Commission, but they have no power to do anything and their critiques get swept aside.  What is needed is democratic community control over the police, in the form of all-elected, all-civilian, police control boards with full authority over the departments in all aspects at all levels.  Not unlike how an elected board of education controls the school district.
Jubilee Shine
Los Angeles Coalition for Community Control Over the Police

Re: New Voices for Change in U.S. Cuba Policy

nice, but this isn't happening because of some moral principle or  sense of justice...

american business-capital is in need of more markets, the competition is getting fiercer and the empire is under great stress.

that's great, but let's not misinterpret capitalism spreading to china and russia and cuba as also great.

Frank Scott


As a Marine who was on the Cuban Missile Crisis and through this could be the end of days I say it's about time we stop what we are trying to do to Cuba. I was at Gitmo where we still hold and torture people and, than in the nineties I visited Cuba. Had to go to Mexico to get a visa and, of course broke the law by going to Cuba but, believe me it was worth it. I could tell many tales about Cuba. Many years ago long before Castro my Father had a good friend who was Cuban. They would get drunk together and wind up in Cuba. Back then the ferry service ran from Key West to Cuba. Needless to say my Mother would be pissed off when my Father would call and say he was is Key West Florida and would be home soon. Maybe if I live long enough I will be able to go to Cuba legally because, I would sure like to go again.

Morris Edward

Re: Tiananmen Anniversary Reflections

Someday, when the US left gets it together, we'll be able to really look at and understand what happened in 1989. The dimensions of Tiananmen are hard to absorb, even apart from the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet camp. We can chalk it all up to capitalist roaders, or we can reflect on the courage of Zhou Ziyang, the fear of the Deng generation of a repeat of the chaos and public humiliations of the Cultural Revolution, and the love of the Communist students for the dismissed Hu Yaobang. Hu and Zhou should be remembered. Google them. The path from Tiananmen was not inevitable. There were others, but what might have been is now only up for rueful speculation.

Ethan Young
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Ukraine, NATO and the World at Turning Points: Talk Prepared for Sarajevo Peace Event

Good perspective piece on the role of NATO in Ukraine and in US imperial designs.

John Jernegan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Fasanella Captured The Pain, Joy Of Working-Class America

What is not mentioned in this wonderful article about Ralph Fasanella is that he was a volunteer in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The VALB held annual reunions in New York and San Francisco and I met him at one of the annual New York reunions where he was selling copies of his works. I bought one and he signed it for me. My uncle was also a member of VALB and my aunt did volunteer work for VALB for many years, so I saw him a number of times in NYC.

Alan Jay Rom


An American working class original, Ralph Fasanella. The Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C. has an exhibit of Fasanella's remarkable work through August 3.
Jeffery Hermanson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


It was good to see Portside's coverage of Fasanella. I don't subscribe to the socialist realist approach in which all art has to "advance the struggle", but neither can art be separated from the world out of which it grows. Chagall, who is mentioned in this piece, was a great artist but also his work clearly reflected his time and place (as those lucky enough to have seen his recent show at the Jewish Museum here inNew York will know.

I'm happy with abstract art, and find the work of Albers impressive, and the strange neurotic work of

Klee sometimes touched with genuine humor.

But I sense in much of modern art an effort to meet a market demand for works which I doubt will have an audience a century from now. Fasanella's work will be of value then, as it does now.

David McReynolds


A fantastic article.

Leo Maley
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Judge's Decision to Hear Inmates' Case Threatens Practice of Solitary Confinement

Bout goddamn time...

Jack Radey
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: My Workers Are Better Than Your Workers
(posted on Portside Labor)

For every dollar workers earn CEO's on average earn 331!!!!

Brenda Wiest
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Our Egalitarian Eden

This article describes the way we lived very nicely until the last paragraph. To say that the accumulation of surplus food and goods is primarily what caused inequality oversimplifies the issue and takes it out of its political context. After all, the accumulation of surplus anything could, or could not cause inequality. It all depends on how society is organized. To paraphrase Engels, the nuclear family, private property and the state, all of which served to institutionalize inequality, were the root causes of inequality rather than the accumulation of surplus goods, which merely resulted from the development of the productive forces of society rather than who actually owned them.

Joel Schwartz

Re: Seven Key Takeaways From Joseph E. Stiglitz's Tax Plan for Growth and Equality

Hasty edit . Pretty good. I wonder if Parts 4 and 6 are duplicates, just to see who is really reading?

Otherwise, tho' an excellent summary.

Robert O. Pritchard
Cheboygan, MI

Re: Myths and Facts About EPA's Carbon Pollution Standards

"Just the facts, ma'am." (Sgt. Joe Friday of "Dragnet")

Alfred Rose
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: What Is the New Populism?

Doesn't the "New Populism" need and deserve a new political party to achieve its goals? Like, say, a party called...the Populist Party?

That sounds like a good idea to me. After all, why should we expect the Democratic Party to pass Populist legislation? The Democrats sold out organized labor on NAFTA in the `90s, caved in to the Bush administration on the illegal invasion of Iraq in the `00s, and joined the Republicans in bailing out the big bankers who caused the Crash of 2008. Why would any sensible Populist trust them?

Yet it is not so much what Robert Borosage includes in his speech that makes me doubtful about his message, but rather what he leaves out. He doesn't mention proposals that are certain to be crucially important to Populists.

For example, he doesn't say a word about Single-Payer national health insurance. He says nothing about repealing the 1947 Taft-Hartley amendments, which would surely help millions of workers form unions to raise their standard of living. There's nothing in his speech about a carbon tax to combat global warming, or about getting rid of NDAA Section 1021 and other attacks on traditional American guarantees of liberty. Yes, he does mention the initiative for a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Seattle. But that development is largely thanks to new city council member Kshama Sawant - who happens to be a Socialist, not a Democrat.

Let's not get bamboozled by the phony-baloney Democrats (and Republicans) anymore.

Jerry Kann

Why not pull a Bergdahl-like swap for Alan Gross? Ex-Cuban intel asks

By Portia Siegelbaum
June 2, 2014
CBS News

A Cuban intelligence agent released from a U.S. federal prison in February says "political will" is the only thing needed to gain the release of U.S. contractor Alan Gross currently jailed in Havana.

If President Obama could exchange five top Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay for a U.S. solider he could swap "three brothers"--Cuban agents serving long sentences in U.S. prisons-- for Gross, Fernando Gonzalez told the foreign media in Havana on Monday.

"If they were willing to make this kind of exchange with the Taliban in Afghanistan, it makes no sense other than the lack of political will" not to do the same with Havana to gain the release of "the person jailed in Cuba," he said.

Gonzalez said he was not privy to any information regarding ongoing negotiations between the Cuban and U.S. governments on this issue but insisted that he was "absolutely confident" that the Cuban government would do whatever is necessary to bring his three co-defendants home to the island.

"I think that all we need for this to happen is the political will in the U.S. administration, to make the decision and finally accept that they are responsible for [Gross'] imprisonment in Cuba," Gonzalez insisted.

Gross is serving a 15-year sentence for smuggling illegal satellite communication equipment into Cuba as part of a USAID regime change program initiated under the Bush Administration.

Gonzalez was released from U.S. federal custody and returned to Cuba at the end of February after serving 16 years for what the Cuban government says were trumped up charges and an unfair trial. He was one of the so-called "Cuban Five," three of whom are still serving long sentences for espionage, conspiracy to commit murder and acting as agents of a foreign government.

One of them, Gerardo Hernandez, is serving two life sentences. A fourth Cuban agent, Rene Gonzalez, was released in 2011 after serving a 13-year sentence and a further 3-year probation in the United States. He was allowed to return to Cuba in 2013 on the condition that he renounce his U.S. citizenship.

The release of the remaining three -- Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino along with Gerardo Hernandez -- is the goal of a five-day campaign from June 4th to the 11th that will play out in Washington. Supporters will lobby congressional representatives, hold workshops and a rally in front of the White House on Saturday June 7.

The single largest source of sexual harassment charges

When the majority of your wages come from customers, you're forced to endure all kinds of unwanted advances, harassment, and even violence to pay the bills. That's unacceptable.

Nearly 37% of all sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) come from restaurant workers -- that's more than five times the rate for the general female workforce -- making the restaurant industry the single largest source of sexual harassment charges.

Please watch and share our new video: "What's Living Off Tips Got to Do with Sexual Harassment?"

Thank you!

Saru Jayaraman
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Sexual assault of women protestors by police personnel of Parliament Street

Press Release

We are writing to demand your immediate action against police personnel of the Parliament Street Police Station who were involved in assaulting and brutalising a peaceful group of protestors today.

The facts are as follows.

  • A group of people belonging to the Dalit community from Bhagana village, Haryana, have been sitting in a peaceful dharna at Jantar Mantar for the last one month, in pursuit of their demand for justice in the case of abduction and gang rape of four minor girls. Early this morning, a large force of policemen appeared at Jantar Mantar and tried to evict the protestors who were sleeping there. pulled down their tent and scattered their belongings.
  • The Bhagana protestors (including the families of the rape survivors and the girls themselves) went to the Parliament Street Police Station this afternoon at about 1400 hours, in order to present a memorandum to the officer in charge asking to be allowed to stay in Jantar Mantar since they had nowhere else to go.
  • The Bhagana group was accompanied by representatives of women's organisations, Dalit organisations and students' organisations. The mothers of two of the rape survivors were leading the group.
  • The group was stopped by some policemen at the barricade outside the thana. Their request to be allowed to go inside and meet the office in charge was denied. Some policemen on duty at the barricade spoke to the Bhagana group in Haryanvi and asked them to go back and not to make trouble. The women argued with these policemen, insisting on being allowed to go and meet the officer in charge.
  • While the argument was going on, some policemen started pushing the group back from the barricade, using undue force and targeting the women by grabbing their private parts and pushing their hands into the anal region. The mothers of the survivors and several women activists (including Adv Pyoli Swatija of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, , Ms Sumedha Baudh of Rashtiya Dalit Mahila Andolan and Ms Rakhi - of NTUI) were attacked in this manner.
  • At this point a senior police officer (in uniform but without a name badge) came out and shouted out - "Are ye aise nahi manenge - lathi ghusao."
  • At this, some 4-5 women police charged forward and attacked the women by thrusting at their private parts with batons. The women who were in the front resisted this attack and struggled with the police women. Several policemen were also in the melee and were physically attacking women protestors.
  • Several activists were taken into custody and held for more than an hour, after which they were released without any charge being made against them.
  • None of the police had name badges except one police woman (Suman D) who removed it after a few minutes. However, we are confident that we can identify most if not all the attackers by face including the officer who gave the order for the sexual attack.

You are surely aware that the acts committed by the policemen and women are criminal offences under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

We demand that the concerned police personnel (including the officer who gave the order for sexual assault) be immediately suspended from service and charged under the relevant sections. An FIR should be filed and an enquiry instituted without delay.

We are shocked to see that the police personnel under your command seem to have forgotten the bitter lessons of December 2012, and are blatantly ignoring and violating citizens' rights of peaceful assembly and democratic protest.

We are told that much time and resources have been invested in training the rank and file of Delhi police in "gender-sensitive policing". Our suggestion to you is: please do not waste any more of the taxpayers' money on these futile public relations exercises. Instead, please take strong, immediate and exemplary action against personnel accused of such crimes.

We look forward to a response from you. We will be happy to come and present you with evidence in support of our complaint.

On behalf of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression

Re: the Death of Les Orear

Here is the obituary sent to the press. Feel free to circulate it.

Leslie Fray Orear, a union organizer for the United Packinghouse Workers of America, editor of its newspaper and co-founder and president emeritus of the Illinois Labor History Society, died peacefully in his home surrounded by family in the early hours of May 30, 2014. He was 103 years old.

Les Orear was born in Marshall, Missouri, on May 11, 1911, and grew up in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Because of the Great Depression, he left college at the Alexander Meiklejohn Experimental College at the University of Wisconsin (1929-31) prematurely to get a job and help support his family. He went to work in the stockyards for Armour & Co. in 1932, earning 32.5 cents an hour tying strings on hams.

Hearing about the CIO's growing success organizing autoworkers in Detroit, Orear and a group of co-workers began to organize the packinghouse workers, sneaking in leaflets and CIO sign-up cards in their boots. Their union, which became known as Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee in 1937, promised equality for all members -- white and black, men and women -- making it one of the most progressive unions in the country. Orear was editor of the PWOC edition of the CIO News as well as an organizer. PWOC became United Packinghouse Workers of America in 1943, and Orear worked to organize plants in Topeka and Kansas City, Mo., from 1940 to 1946.

He was the editor of the UPWA's newspaper, The Packinghouse Worker, from 1952 to 1968. He also edited several photojournalistic books depicting workers' lives, including Out of the Jungle in 1968 and On the Job in Illinois: Then and Now in 1976, which included some of his own photographs. Orear spoke at hearings before Congress in support of the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967, a landmark in consumer protection that amended the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 inspired by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

In 1969, he co-founded the Illinois Labor History Society with the late Bill Adelman and Studs Terkel, and he served as its president until age 98 and president emeritus until his death. Orear dedicated his retirement to ILHS, where he helped preserve the state's rich labor history and bring that history to the public and to generations of local students. He was instrumental in preserving the Union Stock Yard Gate and helped secure the Haymarket Monument and the Martyrs' Monument. He developed and guided many tours of important labor history sites in the Chicago area. He was the first and loudest to belt out "Solidarity Forever."

Orear served as a trustee of the Illinois State Historical Library from 1974 to 1977 and was a member of the Illinois Humanities Council from 1978 to 1982, among other community organizations.

He believed in and lived "truth, beauty and love" and fought for justice and equality for all races and classes. He believed firmly in democracy and dedicated his life to the Common Good.

In his personal life he raised three children with Hermine Orear and made sure they camped in many US National Parks and that they all completed Antioch College. He climbed the Grand Teton in 1952 with his mountaineering half-brother Jay Orear, now a retired physics professor at Cornell. He is survived by his children, Linn Orear, Leslie Orear Jr. and Radha Jill Richmond-Covey; his son-in-law, Robert Covey; grandchildren Riva Richmond, Matt Covey and Mark Covey; and half-brothers Jay and Crag Orear.

Leslie and Hermine Orear were members of the Beverly Unitarian Society of Chicago and were given keys to the castle for their work restoring its historic building.

A memorial service will be held, details of which will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made to the Illinois Labor History Society.

Press contacts:
Linn Orear, 773-753-4381
Larry Spivack, president of ILHS, 312-953-1684

Illinois Labor History Society
Roosevelt University
430 S. Michigan Ave, 13th Floor, Room AUD 1361
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 341-2247 and (312) 341-2248

Larry Spivack
Regional Director
AFSCME Council 31


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