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Tidbits - November 27, 2014

Reader Comments - Darren Wilson Acquittal - Reader Responses; Black Friday Protests; Election Lessons for the Left; Immigration Reform; Ursula K. Le Guin, Pension Reform(?); Water Grab; Facebook Drivers Vote Union; Berlin Wall's Fall - Reflections from the GDR; Israel Lobby and Ukrainian Fascists; Mexico - 43 students murdered; Israel, Palestine and Rasmeah Odeh; The Selfless Gene; Announcement - New Politics Forum on the Environmental Crisis - New York - Dec. 9

Reader Comments and Announcements - November 27, 2014,Portside

Reader Responses to Acquittal of Darren Wilson

The Ferguson protests represent the national marriage of the white Occupy movement with African-American and Latino working class youth, a potent social synthesis directed against state terrorism.

Anthony Gronowicz


Thanks for distributing some of the factual info to remind us all that in capitalist USA we do NOT have a "justice" system.  Our on-going challenge is to continue building a strong working-class, diverse movement for REAL justice and peace here in the belly of the beast.

Leanna Noble


It is a sad day! The decision is an injustice. One problem is that in a community that has a relatively large black population has only a few black police officers. How can this be? It would be logical to ensure that the makeup of the police force represented the makeup of the community. At least then the police would be perceived as more fair and more representative of the community. The other problem is that police are now armed like military and they don't seem too inhibited about using their weapons.

Finally the reality is that black people are still not accorded the same rights of citizenship as whites. This is mind boggling. In a new world society, the United States should be or should be working towards being a multicultural society. In the present world, white people are not the majority! The authorities and elected leaders all over the U.S. act as thought the United States is still in the world that existed just after the American Revolution or at the end of the Civil War. This is a totally outmoded view. America is technologically advanced but on racial issues it is back in the 19th century. It is time to embrace reality and grow up, so that black citizens get as fair a chance at a decent life as whites, which means education, jobs, income and respect. The fact that Republican administrations are gerrymandering to prevent blacks from voting and white cops think they can shoot black kids with impunity is wrong. It makes America look bad to the world and these aspects of America are bad and tiresome because racism has gone on so long.  But today it is totally unacceptable.

Instead of smashing businesses in anger, would it not be more to the point to run some candidates in municipal elections and take over the municipal government which could then hire blacks onto the police force? Anger is understandable but just smashing things feeds into preconceived notions about "radical protesters" and it doesn't fix the problem. It also penalizes some people who have nothing to do with the situation. I heard a female small shop owner who makes cakes. Her business was destroyed but she says that is her livelihood so she has no option but to rebuild. These are the kind of people who should not be hurt by this.

Political education and political action is a longer process but this case will be remembered by everyone for years so it is the perfect springboard to create a new local black movement for political change. The police force that exists today and takes the actions it does with impunity can be totally changed with different local officials. And it does not take a lot of money with social media; it takes organization and commitment and memory.

Laurel MacDowell,


Good to see Big Labor step up and speak out. Teachers, where is the statement from NEA or AFT? Colorado teachers, where is the statement from CEA?

Andrea Mérida


Today, we stand for the future of all our children to have a better society . Michael Brown will be remember as a young man, who's life was taken away from us by a police who think it is "open hunting season" on young Black men. Furthermore, this policeman Wilson is a armed guard for a society that protect the interests of the 1per-cent and their private property.  We much continue the fight, because the killing of Michael was a step toward Fascism in this country. Michael will live on through us.  We will stand up against the attacks on our Human Rights in Michigan and throughout this country. Michael' life was taken, but, we will fight on to final Victory for Michael.

Marian Kramer, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.


Very interesting article providing an angle not covered my mainstream media.

Ken Roy
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Different groups working in Ferguson and how to support them.

Ferguson Movement Moment Rapid Giving Information
Updated: 11/25/2014 12:30 PM ET

Statements from Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)


2014 Black Friday Protests - Attend One Near You

Why to Act Now:

While Rob, Alice and the rest of the Waltons are by far the richest family in America, many of the Walmart workers who helped to build that fortune are struggling just to get by. Workers at Walmart are looking for fair shot, but the silver-spooned Walton family is robbing them of a decent living.

Walmart workers in nearly 800 stores have joined calls for Walmart to increase wages to $15/hr and give them access to fulltime. Join them here and tell the Waltons that if they don't respond, you'll be in the streets on Black Friday!

Income inequality is the highest it's been since 1928. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Meanwhile, wages are at the lowest point since 1948 - even as productivity increases.

No one family is driving this trend quite like Walmart's owners, the Waltons. The Walton family is the richest family in America with nearly $150 billion in wealth and as much money as 43% of American families combined. And yet, most Walmart workers make less than just $25,000 a year. That's why community members are joining their calls for increased wages and access to hours. Stand with us and join us on Black Friday if the Waltons fail to respond.


Re: Election Lessons for the Left

it's always time for a labor/socialist party..but there are structural reasons why it's difficult to build a 3rd party in US...last long term successful one was the Republicans..unless you can win executive office, you can't deliver anything for your third parties have to be able to be first parties in partisan elections at state level or else they wither away, unlike the state...Tea Party knows this..hence they run candidates in Republican primaries..the left 1/3 block of Dems in state legislatures and Congress are pretty in 30s and 60s, when social movements get stronger, more left Dems will get elected...

real question is what is strength of left in civil society..we aren't stronger than the 1/3 of Dems in Congress who are left of center (and 2/3 of those represent Black and Latino districts). Voluntarism is fine..but folks have been saying third party for gazillion years..Greens have only won 3 partisan state legislative elections in 25 years in close to 100,000 tries..and 2 of those went back to being Dems cause they needed to caucus with Dems to get stuff done in state legislature and also Greens couldn't/wouldn't raise enuf money for them to be viable in re-election campaigns.

Savant and Mujica are running in non-partisan elections...that's where you can run independent socialist campaigns.... remember that Harold Washington and Jessie Jackson ran as Dems...they understood that in partisan races left has to be intervene in Dem primaries, just as Tea Party does in Republican primaries...

our problem is left and labor are weak in civil society so their electoral expression is weak...simply saying "break with the elephant, break with the ass, build a party of the working class" don't cut it...nice sentiment, but you need practice.. Even if goal is to create a labor/working class party you'd have to split the Dems thru lots of hard work...

See Carl Davidson

Joe Schwartz


"Populist" is a chickenshit term liberals use; go socialist or continue to be disrespected as cowards unwilling and able to go left of center....

Ivan Obregon
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


This articulates much better than I could what was concerning and irritating about the strategies and tactics of some democratic campaign folks in the midterm elections- In particular the dncc. So much negativity and whining about the Rs and so little emphasis on putting forward a positive platform. Not every campaign but certainly enough of them.

There are also some interesting insights in here about labor that speak to the need for more private sector unionization. To the extent that the majority of union workers are in the public sector, this does not lead to support for unions or their initiatives because many people resent the salaries and job security of the public sector (teachers in particular), which they see as lazy, etc.

Beth Rosenson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I spent more than 30 years active in the labor movement until the factory where I worked closed it's doors. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of the Democrats taking unions and workers for granted even as they embrace trade agreements that harm those who are supposedly a major segment of the party base. Now, in all likelihood, we will have a presidential candidate in Hillary Clinton who is tied at the hip to Wall Street and who once sat on board of directors of Walmart, the poster corporation for worker exploitation and anti-unionism. Sorry, but after 30 years of watching labor get it's ass kicked while the Democrats sat on the sidelines and did nothing, I find far more hope in a Kshama Sawant in city hall than I do a Hillary Clinton in the White House. And that's because I know for certain which of the two are on the side of my union brothers and sisters and have our backs.

Rich Smith
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


you are making good points here. A big part of the problem is that most of the still-existent socialist Left that engages in electoral activity don't do much of anything else, or keep their non-electoral activism too separate. On that second point, I'd also say that too much of non-electoral activist by the socialist Left is just a few people trying to sell newspapers, holding signs, yelling chants...but where is the grassroots mobilizations and organizing in the diverse workplaces, neighborhoods and schools of the bottom 2/3rds of society? I kid you not, most working class folks have never ever met an open socialist in their workplace, neighborhood, or school, so the obvious two-way conversation isn't happening. Plus, by the point that working people are fed up with pro-corporate Dems, they could go three quite different directions: turn to the far right, say "to hell with politics" and no longer participate at all, or they'll expect independent Leftists to prove they could make a difference (in a "show me what you're doing now" way

Jamie Commie
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Immigration Reform - Pres. Obama's Order, Immigrant Groups Respond

I understand that this was not carried by some major networks. I think it is worth catching if you haven't seen it.

[here's the link to the video.]

Eugene Flynn
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Remembering Freedom

Would that those who read brilliant and enervating ideas like LeGuin's could make them operational!!

Chuck Weed
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Forget Pundits: Immigrants React to Obama's Speech

Still a long way to go. Healthcare and food stamps next.

Sheila Baker
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Illinois Pension Reform Law is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules
(posting on Portside Labor)

Isn't taking money that does not belong to you is theft. Refusing to pay money that you promised to pay, at best, violates the contract you agreed to. Claiming that you no  longer owe that promised money because, well, you say so (and can prove it because you passed a law saying that you no longer owe the money) would get the average person jailtime.

Oh, right, this is the Illinois way.

Ellen Dannin

Re: Re: Privateers Make a Water Grab

Water is becoming the new gold, only bigger.

Michael Gardner

Re: Facebook Shuttle Bus Drivers Vote to Join Teamsters Union

Mark Zuckerberg, you should and you know better. Get with the right program. The humanity one...

Don't be on the wrong side of history.

Anna Ruiz
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


no better example of too much money corrupts  

John Six
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


this was why union movement was started to begin with. People have forgotten.

Companies from Google to Apple outsource service jobs such as janitors and security guards to outside contractors to lower costs.

With modest pay and few benefits, these workers struggle to piece together a living in one of the nation's most expensive areas, creating a growing underclass of service workers in Silicon Valley.

Christina M. Brooks
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Employees help create profits, but have no say in how they're spent. As an individual it's take it or leave it. Your ability to negotiate wages is nil. Collective bargaining gives leverage for better wages, and protects workers from abuse.

Gianmarco Conegliano
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Do that and loose half your subscribers. Dare ya.

Paul Carpenter
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Berlin Wall's Fall - Reflections from the GDR

Thank you, Victor Grossman, for a dose of realism in your articles about the history of East Germany (the GDR). The slogan of "workers' control" is a good one, but is just that, a slogan.  When it comes to organizing a complex economy, workers' control at the enterprise level has severe problems.  What about national planning?  Without this, a socialist society would suffer the same inequalities, distortions and crises as a capitalist one.  You could envisage control at the local level, with taxation to enable redistribution of resources to poorer regions, and new industrial sectors for example, but this would put great economic power in the hands of central 'state officials' .  Other forms of democratic control of these would be necessary-

In the GDR, as I understood it, there was planning by industrial sector which included representatives from each enterprise involved. Quite possibly imperfect in practise, but a good model, surely? The 'self-management' of enterprises in Yugoslavia did not seem to solve regional differences or overall economic performance, or no? Citizens of former Yugoslavia criticised to me the utopian practise of insisting on unanimity for management decisions in factories - how important that was, I don't know. In short, democratic control of a country, including its economy, has to go well beyond workers' control of factories.  This might satisfy the thirst for democratic control in the short term but only at the cost of creating great negative tensions and problems in the longer term.  Building socialism will be very difficult, and simplistic slogans do not help achieve it.

Dan Morgan

Re: How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

I don't quite understand the jewish support for neo-Nazis.

William Friesen

Re: Mexico Teeters on the Brink and the U.S. Is Oblivious

I am glad you commented that the U.S. is not oblivious because complicit is more accurate. Not only do American consumers rely on Mexican drug cartels for their product, we supply the weapons that have turned Mexico into a modern nightmare version of the Wild West. Meanwhile, in Washington DC--Dee Corporate Headquarters---the jockeying for access to the Federal Treasury, or what's left of it, continues unashamedly. God Bless us, indeed.

Jeff Dunleavy
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

The Drug War is a profit center for many corrupt people in both countries along with being an excuse to oppress and murder anyone that they want to.

Charles Decelles
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I think it is no surprise that the United States isn't even ruffled, because we seem to have no idea how important Mexico is to us.  We still have most pervasive the "banana republic" mentality.  American Exceptionalism has blinded and deafened us.

Larry Sherk


we should be supporting the people protesting

Megan Corcoran
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The U.S.A. drug users support the whole drug empire by making it financially rewarding. A whole new approach to drug use in needed.

William Poole
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The 1% controlled corporate media does not want Americans to know about this.

David Johnson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: This Mass Grave Isn't the Mass Grave You Have Been Looking For

Subject of to correction, I believe before the '68 Olympics there was another student massacre for which no one was held to account

Nigel Crawford
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


exactly! How many mass graves do we need to rise up for the dead?

T Mike Walker
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Mexico has been destroyed by "the war on drugs" and NAFTA. The students are targeting the wrong villain

Judith Johnson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The article says that the Zetas came from the Kaibiles. This is not true. The Kaibiles were trained in Guatemala by US Navy Seals & were the most vicious death squads ever known during the civil war waged against Mayan Indians. The Zetas were trained at Ft. Benning, GA at the School of Assassins as Mexican Army Special Forces that mutinied to work for the more lucrative cartels then taking over cartels themselves. Accuracy is crucial in all this.

The students KNOW NAFTA started this mess. As if they're in a position to lobby. Death squads go hand in hand with US inculcated globalization.

Swaneagle Fitzgerald
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Déjà Vu in Jerusalem?

I hope that our most progressive politicians in the DNC, namely Warren and Sanders, read this article very carefully before they go on to supper the embattled Zionist state of Israel.

"This, it should be stressed, is precisely what the Israeli government wants. It would like to present the conflict as a clash of civilizations à la Samuel Huntington, rather than as a Palestinian struggle against colonial domination. Alongside the government's attempt to pit fundamentalist Jews against Palestinians, most Israeli politicians on the right, which now dominates the country's electoral landscape, have been working overtime to bolster the "no partner for peace" myth as another justification for their ongoing refusal to resume negotiations with the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinians are not only part of a different and barbaric civilization, they claim, but their leaders are terrorists, or at the very least support terrorism.

Larry Aaronson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Tortured and Raped by Israel, Persecuted and Imprisoned by the United States

First of all after Rasmeah Odeh was released and left Israel she and her co-conspirators publicly admitted their roles in placing bombs in a supermarket and the British consulate in the documentary, "Women in Struggle." There Odeh and her accomplice sit on a couch together years after the bombing and talk in detail about their gruesome acts. They explain that it was their idea to have a second bomb go off 5 minutes after the first to kill the first responders. In the film Ayesha Odeh describes how they planned and implemented the attack, saying that Rasmeah was more involved than she was:

"Rasmeah Odeh was more involved than I was [in the grocery store bombing] ... I only got involved during the preparation of explosives. We wanted to place two bombs to blow up consecutively. I suggested to have the second bomb go off five or six minutes after the first bomb so that those who get killed in it would be members of the army and secret service, but it did not explode. They diffused it 20 seconds before it exploded."

There is nothing credible about the absurd claim that the Israelis tried to force her father to rape her--a claim out of the same playbook that claims Jews murder Christian children for blood to make matzo

And we are supposed to believe her even though she clearly lied twice years apart when asked if she had EVER been convicted of a crime.  Odeh's supporters are either being badly misled or are deliberate liars themselves. I remember that real Communists used to distinguish themselves from terrorism and denounce it.  I'm afraid that much of the left seems to have degenerated since then.

Stan Nadel

Re: The Selfless Gene

Olivia Judson's Atlantic article is  an interesting report, and undoubtedly is good science, but I believe it  is limited in its insight. I hasten to add that I am not an academic  scientist nor have I been trained in this field beyond having attended  some sessions of the 1959 Darwin Centennial conference in Chicago, so I am  unaware whether my favored explanation has been tested.

I agree with the author (and with Charles  Darwin) that the widespread belief that natural selection functions  only by eliminating unfit individuals for reproduction is not correct, but  I think extending the theory only to abide selection of closely  related groups is insufficient. Nature also selects populations that are  better adapted even when individuals are not closely related; their very  diversity may offer an evolutionary advantage.

From this perspective, if a cooperative  population (a better term than altruistic in my concept, though I do not  disparage selfless behavior) is more fit than one based on  every-individual-for-her/him/itself, the former will prosper while the latter  will eventually become extinct, not necessarily on account of kinship, and  possibly despite or because of weak genetic links among the  survivors.

How might this operate in nature? Consider a  population that is distributed unevenly so that its members may be residents of  densely populated metropoles, or of sparsely populated frontiers, or  of places in between. At the frontier we should expect the  rugged individuals to be the best-adapted survivors, as predators make  meals of those who are less wily. But in the metropoles predation will  surely be more randomly distributed while reproductive success will be less  contingent on specific inherited traits.

In that case, groups of individuals who/which  learn to help one another may gain survival advantages collectively  although their genetic makeup is diverse. (Homogeneity can become a disadvantage  in an otherwise cooperative population as studies of Amish communities  report.) Over time, the genetic diversity of the group might itself become  a positive adaptation (out-migration might spread these adaptations, while  in-migration of homogeneous super-fit individuals from the frontier might  be detrimental to cooperation and collective survival, but in any case adaptive  traits would probably modify each sector.).

Has this hypothesis been tested?

Ken Lawrence
Spring Mills, Pennsylvania

New Politics Forum on the Environmental Crisis - New York - Dec. 9

Slamming the Brakes on Ecological Collapse and Transitioning to a Sustainable World

With Jeremy Brecher, Gloria Mattera, Natassa Romanou, Richard Smith

Tuesday, Dec. 9th - 7:00 p.m.
YaYa Network - 224 West 29th St, 14th floor

(between 7th and 8th Aves., Manhattan)
We regret that while the building is wheelchair accessible, the restrooms are not.

Chair and Commentator:

  • Gloria Mattera - Co-chair, Green Party of NYS, Steering Committee SCNCC, (System Change Not Climate Change)


  • Natassa Romanou - Research scientist, Columbia University and NASA-GISS (Godard Institute for Space Studies).
  • Richard Smith - SCNCC, Author of articles on China, capitalism and the global environment for New Left Review, Monthly Review, The Ecologist, The Journal of Ecological Economics, Real-World Economics Review, Adbusters, and other publications.
  • Jeremy Brecher - Activist and author of more than a dozen books on labor and social movements, including Strike! (recently re-issued), Global Pillage or Global Village, Globalization from Below, and a founder of Labor Network for Sustainability.

Sponsored by New Politics: A Journal of Socialist Thought

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