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Tidbits - June 19, 2014

Reader Comments - Iraq; Ruby Dee; Cecily McMillan and Wall Street; Ukraine; Detroit Shuts Off Water to Thousands; Working Families Party; Civil Rights Movement; Children's Literature and Diversity; Common Core; Testing; Support Philly Jewish school teachers; Gabriel Kolko; Hatriot Politics and Las Vegas Killers; Argentina and US Banks; The Presbyterian Church and Divestment; Net Neutrality; Historic Slave Cemetery Bulldozed In Houston; Freedom Summer 2014

Tidbits, Reader Comments, Shorts, Announcements - June 19, 2014,Portside

Re: 3 Reasons Why U.S. Strikes on Iraq (Again) Are a Terrible Idea

The official Pentagon number of US casualties in the 2nd Iraq war now stands at 81,334, which includes injured by non hostile causes and sick enough to be medically evacuated.

Michael Munk

Re: Ruby Dee, a Ringing Voice for Civil Rights, Onstage and Off, Dies at 91

What an inspiring life, what a magnificent legacy - what an example of excellence!

Mildred Williamson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


A wonderful actor, a beautiful woman

Liz Elkind
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


What a wonderful, committed life!

Howard Croft
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I always admired both Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and was delighted to share the stage with them at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in the 1990s when they spoke at a meeting of the National Committee to Re-open the Rosenberg Case, of which I was a member for many years and later Co-Director. Not many artists of their stature also had the courage of their convictions to put themselves on the line for what they believed, no matter how unpopular.

Leonard J. Lehrman

They were a couple to be loved, admired and behold!

Phyllis Mandel
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Ex-banker Interviews Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan Behind Bars

The golden rule applies: Those with the Gold Rule. Fight it and get arrested. From the article:

Why are no bankers in jail?

It is a question that I, as an ex-trader for Citigroup, still can't really answer (without sounding conspiratorial)

It is a question Cecily, as an activist behind bars, can't fully answer herself (without sounding too conspiratorial).

It's a question to which our own government hasn't provided us a satisfactory answer - and maybe never will.

It is a question that has certainly forced me to believe that the system is so rigged, maybe working within the system to change things is not the right approach.

James Clopton
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: A Class Analysis of the Ukrainian Crisis

Having run this analysis which is the western Ukrainian forces are a bunch of fascists and nationalists and the east are working class and thereby better, you need to run the attached statement which takes a stand against nationalism on both sides. Your pro-Russian knee-jerk reaction in what you pick to cover the crisis is a throw-back to your pro-Soviet history. I thought you broke with that a couple of decades ago, but it again rears its head.

Jerry Harris

Stop the War in the Ukraine!
Antiwar Appeal of Left Forces in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

Re: Groups Appeal to UN for 'Humanity' as Detroit Shuts Off Water to Thousands

Yet another example of American Exceptionalism! As the 1%ers suggest, let Detroit disappear into the trashbin of failure. If it cannot compete...well... this is America...Land of Opportunity. Detroit had its chance and we don't just hand out second chances stamps or...water. Besides, we're a little too busy beating the drums for new military adventures in the Middle East to worry about a bunch of losers in Detroit dying from thirst. Hey! "Pay your water bills, you bunch of dead beats!" No, but this Uganda or the USA? Hey's the World Cup going? Glad we're not playing in Detroit!

John G. Hertzler
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Working Families Party - What Happened?; Why; What Next?

Good collection, thanks.

Daniel Millstone
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Thanks. I had no idea of the poll results cited. The second set has WFP candidate only 2 points behind. The reports make clear to me that the WFP has no real intention of pursuing independent politics or creating more space for it. We actually have a WFP in Oregon too, although we don't have real fusion (we have fusion lite where candidates can list three endorsements on their line, not be listed on party lines, which prevents knowing how many vote due to given party endorsement), in which I have even been registered for a period. Does this mean the slow decline of the WFP in NY? Will it shed those of its voters who hope it can be a vehicle for genuinely independent politics? Or are those long since gone?

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Well this article confirms what I perceived, that the "complexity" of the issue was that major unions threatened to pull their MONEY from WFP if it placed principals over power. But hey, I could be wrong about the value of the concessions WFP wrung from this slimeball douchebag. Let's do the civilized thing and put some money on it. Here are the 7 concessions that are supposed to make this capitulation OK:
--Public Financing of elections
--decriminalize marijuana
--College Financial aid for undocumented immigrants
--$10.10 state minimum wage, indexed to inflation
--Increased funding for public schools
--Women's Equality Act
--Democratic takeover of the State Senate

I've got Five big ones that says by the end of his term, Cuomo won't have enacted any two of these things. Any takers?

Mind you, I live in New Jersey, or I'd be voting for Zephyr

I must say, the concessions goodie-bag looks like a scrambled up mish-mash of unrelated issues, who's only unifying theme seems to be cover.

Bill Kransdorf
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Armed Resistance in the Civil Rights Movement: Charles E. Cobb and Danielle L. McGuire on Forgotten History

I am somewhat concerned at the gloss that has been put on this article, in its original at The American Prospect and some sharing of it I have seen, which emphasizes the guns aspect too much in my view, and might even be open to abuse in the context of advancing current misinterpretations of the Second Amendment.

If I were going to write a headline for it addressing the full content of the interview, it would be something like "Nonviolent Civil Rights Offensive Rested on Grounded Organizing, Including Armed Self-Defense."

Danielle McGuire relies heavily on the concept of resistance. That is almost universal on left these days, and not restricted to younger thinkers like McGuire, because we have been on the defensive so long.

The interview seems to reflect a difficulty of imagination about a time when people actually made positive demands and won them. The Civil Rights Movement was not a resistance movement. It was a revolutionary movement to fundamentally change key aspects of the social order, that had substantial if incomplete success in making such change.

Deliberate, strategic, offensive, active nonviolence was a strategy and set of tactics to put forward the demand for change. If the tactics had been overt armed struggle, the Federal state would have come down harshly on the side of the local Jim Crow states and smashed the movement with extreme violence and wide latitude for white extra-legal vigilante violence. There would not have been even tepid federal intervention in favor of the movement, and no Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act or EEOC.

The tactical and strategic need for the nonviolence to be the public face of the movement may have introduced elements of distortion for accurate historical understanding, so that this interview and its underlying scholarship provides useful perspective.

But to me the key value of this interview is exposing the grounded understanding by the proponents of the active non-violent offensive tactics that they were operating in a context of extreme violence and threat of violence, that their offensive tactics were deliberately chosen to highlight and delegitimize the systemic violence, and that self-defense including armed self-defense was another established response to existing violent threats, one that became extended to defending the enactors of the non-violent tactics.

Chris Lowe

Re: Children's Literature and Diversity

No mention of any Arab, Turkish, Iranian children or any Muslims.  What Islamophobe made up this list?

Letitia Ufford


Annually since 1953 the Jane Addams Children's Book award has been given to books of excellence which promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races. To find excellent children's books that reflect the diversity of society, use the searchable database on the Jane Addams Peace Association website to search for books by national, racial or cultural identity of key characters; or by social justice issue addressed. Ask your local library and schools to purchase these books!

Thank you,

Tura Campanella Cook
President, Jane Addams Peace Association

Re: Reader Response Common Core Math Standards - They Do Add Up

Why do we need a common core standard to deepen the understanding of certified math teachers and how to teach!   Relating the math concepts should be teaching 101.     I agree, the kids in "urban public schools" meaning Black and Latino,  don't  learn and love math, because our teachers don't know how to teach, don't love the kids and they don't believe the kids are capable of understanding math.  The other kids in the white neighborhoods and public schools do learn.  We already have plenty of public schools that work.  Scarsdale, Bronxville, Phelham, New Rochelle for whites they go to the best colleges in nation.  The Black kids generally graduate to the university of Lincoln Ave St Corner.  Education is not a gimmick or program that should be changing every few yrs, disrupting the whole system and the only winners are the text book publishers and test makers.  No secret or nothing new on how to teach.  You teach with love.

M Decime

Re: Frankenstein Fears His Monster: The Gates Foundation Wants You To Boycott High-Stakes Tests

There are tests, and there are tests. Some so-called "high stakes" tests may be wrong.  Tests should show us where we need to improve without removing us from the game.  A failed test should indicate where more work is necessary to master the material, rather than act as another barrier.  What happens as a consequence of test results is the important question.

As someone involved with computers before Bill Gates and the PC were born, I understand why people resent the Microsoft near-monopoly and, by extension, its founder.  Microsoft effectively throws substandard operating systems on the market without proper testing, thus requiring frequent updates to fix bugs and security flaws.  When they get tired of fixing them, they stop supporting them, forcing Microsoft users into costly software and hardware upgrades.  An inferior standard has been set.  The alternative is an even more expensive near-monopoly (Apple) or open-source Linux, at least in the past, a difficult transition.  As Linux develops easier to use front ends, this problem is subsiding, of course.

Speaking of standards and testing, Europe has been moving away from Microsoft and towards Linux - because of its higher standards, it passes their tests!  A wag might suggest Gates is now supporting standards and testing partly out of a guilty conscience.  I would not go that far.

But why should all this have anything to do with opposition to testing and standards in education?  Wealthy people find many ways, including philanthropy, to reduce their tax exposure, some wise, some otherwise. Gates is using his philanthropy money to support efforts to improve US standards through this "common core" approach.  So far as I know, this money is also supporting efforts to get rid of malaria.  In neither case is he dictating the details - those are supplied by experts in education or medicine as appropriate.  Though critical of his career legacy, I applaud Gates for doing something useful for society with his spare change.

The shameful relative showing of US education on the world stage is well known.  There are many other societal reasons for this, but I don't see how we will improve without appropriate educational standards and appropriate tests to discover where improvements are necessary, for our schools, our teachers, and our individual students.  In spite of overheated rhetoric from some critics who focus on poorly thought out standards and dead-end testing, the ideas of common core curriculum and educational testing are welcomed by those not influenced by Hagopian, Ravitch, and other "educational" misleaders.  Let's improve standards and testing rather than discard them.

David Ecklein

Re: Jewish Day School Wants To End Teachers Union

Your help needed re Perelman Jewish Day School

We are reaching out to you now to make your voices heard, as we have done.

Teachers at the Perelman Jewish Day School have been members of a union local and represented by their union since 1976. Their contract ends on August 31. On March 24, following a closed door meeting, the school's board of directors informed the school's faculty that the school would no longer recognize the union as of the end of the contract. The teachers work at campuses in Wynnewood and Elkins Park, PA.

The 59 union members were told to attend a night meeting with the board with less than 24-hours' notice to learn the details of a plan that took 10 months to develop and to pick up individual job offers and a new "Faculty Handbook." They had to sign the individual contracts within two weeks or risk losing their job. At a meeting on Wednesday morning, union members were denied union representation, despite the board saying that the union contract was still in effect until the end of August. Under the new terms that would take effect in the fall, faculty members could be fired at any time without cause, a hearing or any recourse. Teachers would also give up seniority, tenure and other rights that are guaranteed under their current collective bargaining agreement.

The Perelman Jewish Day School, which is associated with the Conservative Movement's Solomon Schechter school network, has three key words on its website: academics, ethics, and community. Yet, as the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee (PJLC) pointed out in its public statement, "by dismantling the union and denying employees the power of collective bargaining, the Perelman Jewish Day School is acting in opposition both to major halakhic authorities and to the official position of the Conservative Movement." {Please see the PJLC's statement, in its entirety online here}


Stuart Appelbaum
President, JLC

Lynne Fox
Chair, Philadelphia JLC

[posted by  Arieh Lebowitz on Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Gabriel Kolko, Left-Leaning Historian of U.S. Policy, Dies at 81

Our loss, we used his books at UCSC

Jim Brough
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I believe you advised taking note of the people mentioned in this story. If so, are these historians that you would advise I learn more about?

Sophia Nelson

Re:  Hatriot Politics Created the Las Vegas Killers

While I read every word of this article, I'd still prefer it to not include phrases such as "the unhinged right-wing echo chamber and its constant drumbeat,"  "the right-wing politics of incitement," "They were unhinged souls looking for a cause and found it in the belief that hating the government was patriotic," and "audience of enthusiastic dupes." The facts speak for themselves, without the need for inflammatory comments. In fact, those comments are similar in tone to the Miller's statements, as is the title itself.

Lets leave name-calling to the right.

Steve Lane

Re: Over One-Fourth of Men 25-34 Years Old Earned Poverty-Level Wages in 2013

Where are the superrich getting their money? I think there is a lot of WAGE THEFT going on! Let's admit it. And folks need a LIVING WAGE! That's about $17, I believe.

Lee Loe,
TX Grandmother for Peace

Re: Argentina President Blasts US Bank 'Extortion'

The rest of the world will despise this Court as many of us have despised it stateside in the wake of Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, Town of Greece, Dred Scott, and every cowardly denial of certiorari in Hedges v. Obama and warrantless electronic eavesdropping cases.

The vulture funds' debts are odious.  They are as subject to repudiation as the debts repudiated every Jubilee year, which is memorialized at Leviticus 26:10 on the Liberty Bell.  Thus, it is time to ring the Liberty Bell and knock the Supreme Court out of its high seat in the decaying temple of our civilization.

Peter J. Nickitas


Heck, why should Argentina get treated any differently than American citizens. Unfortunately Wall St has the power to rule Congress proving over and over again that democracy does not exist here or in many places that call themselves a democratic society.

Walter Brewster
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

The Presbyterian Church is just one step away from divestment

The Presbyterian Church is just one step away from divestment - but the attacks are going to be bolder than ever. Will you stand with them in a true interfaith partnership?

We have just a few days to secure 18,000 signatures. TAKE ACTION

I have wonderful news to share - and an urgent request for you!

Just 15 minutes ago, I witnessed Committee 4 at the 221st Presbyterian General Assembly approve a divestment resolution that would move over $23 million in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions stock out of Presbyterian investments, because of their well-documented system of occupation profiteering.

In plain English?

The full General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church will vote on this historic divestment resolution in a matter of days.

But our work is far from over.

Can you help keep up the momentum by adding your signature here to the 12,000 names already on the Interfaith Partners in Action letter… showing the Presbyterians how many interfaith relationships stand to be strengthened?

We have just a few days to get the total to 18,000 names before the floor vote. In the Jewish tradition, eighteen, chai, is good luck and means life. This divestment initiative is about life, for all people.

On almost every issue, the committee vote - taken by Presbyterian leaders who have devoted years to studying the issue - is adopted by the General Assembly. But of course, when it comes to holding Israel accountable to international law, things don't always follow standard procedure.

You can bet on this: the Israel Lobby isn't going to back down until the last vote is counted.

But I believe we - we Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, students, activists, senior citizens, Israelis and Palestinians literally all over the world - have the power of real interfaith partnerships.

It's a beautiful sight to see our people talking intently one-on-one with delegates by water coolers and in hallways, having searching conversations about nonviolent paths to peace. I know in my bones we're making lifelong connections here in Detroit.

And we need you to help us show that the same genuine connections - these lifelong relationships - are already being built, everywhere.

Already, 12,000 people have signed an Interfaith Partners in Action open letter encouraging Presbyterians to divest for peace, justice, and human rights.

Please help us get 18,000 signatures in the next few days - click here to sign on.

We want to make sure we get 18,000 signatures before the General Assembly debate. Each one disproves the myth that taking real action for peace is a threat to interfaith harmony.

With you, we can cut through all the chatter and fear with a simple, united message: real justice requires real action.


Rabbi Margaret Holub
Co-Chair, Rabbinical Council, Jewish Voices for Peace

Send your Net Neutrality Haiku to the FCC!

Attention, media freaks and culture mavens!!!  Sharpen your pencils!  Instead of filing wonky comments on Net Neutrality, MAG-Net [Media Action Grassroots Network]wants to "flood the FCC with haikus" instead!  Send in your best 17 syllables before July 15!

Have fun!!!

Nan Rubin

For Poets and Poetry-Lovers - New York - June 22

Phoenix Reading Series
@ The Upright Brew

Sunday, June 22, 2014, 4-6 pm
547 Hudson Street (near Perry St.), NY, NY 10014

Christopher Hirschmann Brandt is a writer and political activist.  Also a translator, carpenter, furniture designer, theatre worker.  He teaches poetry in the English Department and media studies in the Peace and Justice Program at Fordham University.  His poems and essays have been published in, among others, Laterál (Barcelona); El signo del gorrión (Valladolid); Liqueur 44 (Paris); La Jornada (Mexico); Phati'tude, Appearances; The Unbearables; National Poetry Magazine of the Lower East Side; Poiesis; /One/, The Catholic Worker, and are included in the anthologies Crimes of the Beats (Unbearables), Classics in the Classroom (Teachers and Writers) and Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and About the Police (Soft Skull, ed. Jackie Sheeler).  His translations of Cuban fiction have been published in The New Yorker and by Seven Stories Press; translations of Cuban poets are included in the anthology The Whole Island (UC Berkeley, ed. Mark Weiss), and his translations of two volumes of Carmen Valle's poetry have been published by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquena.  Seven Stories published his translation of Clara Nieto's Masters of War, a history of U.S. interventions in Latin America.

Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals such as Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review,  Birmingham  Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic,  Canadian Dimension, Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak,  Morpo Review, Ken*Again   Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Morpo, Skyline, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review, Compass Rose, Whiskey Island Review, Oregon East, Bad Penny Review and many, many others. He also has an interest in digital photography and many  poetry magazines have published many of his photos.

HOST: Michael Graves is the author of Adam and Cain (Black Buzzard, 2006), In Fragility (Black Buzzard, 2011) and two chapbooks, Illegal Border Crosser (Cervana Barva, 2008) and Outside St. Jude's (R. E. M. Press, 1990). His poem "Apollo to Daphne" appears in an anthology from Oxford University Press, Gods and Mortals (2,001)  In two thousand four (2004), he received a grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. Thirteen (13) of his poems appear in the James Joyce Quarterly. He has published scholarly-critical work on James Wright and organized a conference on Mr. Wright at Poets House in 2004.

An eight dollar ($8) cover buys a drink or pays part of a more expensive purchase.

Historic Slave Cemetery Bulldozed In Houston

By NewsOne Staff
June 17, 2014
Newsone for Black America

Historic Slave Cemetery Bulldozed In Houston

The historic Bradshaw Cemetery in Houston, Texas was bulldozed without its owners consent and now the family is searching for answers.

Bradshaw, a cemetery dating back to the 1800s and owned by the Nelloms family, was the final resting place for the "bodies of slaves and African Americans who fought in wars and were denied a proper burial...and the family who owns the land say they don't even know who is responsible," reports News92FM.

"I don't want to see my grandmother dug up out of the ground," said Jeremy Nelloms. "There's no way. I'd die before I'd let that happen."

Nelloms reportedly approached trespassers who were clearing the land, so they stopped - leaving in their wake desecrated sacred land, heartbroken family members and a mystery.

Click here to listen toNews92FM's Dennis Spellman's report.

Freedom Summer 2014 - The Young People's Project - June 25 - 29

Youth delegations from Massachusetts, Michigan, Miami, New York join with young people from Mississippi.

From June 25-29 of 2014 America will be commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer in Mississippi. Veteran elders of the movement, interested participants, organizations and youth from all over Mississippi and the country will be coming to Jackson, MS to celebrate this important moment in our history. Starting on June 23 and going to June 29, youth, ages 12-35, from all over Mississippi and the country will gather in Jackson, MS to honor Freedom Summer and to strengthen the ongoing movement in our communities for fairness, equity and justice!

The Young People's Project Mississippi Math Literacy Workers (MLWs) will be joined by a delegation of approximately 50 MLWs from our programs in Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, and New York. While there, they will participate in the official youth congress, facilitate workshops on STEM, participate in community organizing workshops and workshops on how to run political campaigns as well as identify potential candidates for political offices. In addition, The Children's Defense Fund will be hosting Freedom Schools for 150 youth under age 12.

Full Freedom Summer 2014 Agenda. Click here.

The Young People's Project
99 Bishop Allen Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

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