Skip to main content

Tidbits - March 12, 2015 - Ferguson, Selma, Voting Suppression, Racism, Venezuela, Netanyahu, Israel, Iran, Palestine and more...

Reader Comments - Ferguson and Racism; Venezuela - New Coup, Made in USA; Selma, Voting Rights and Today; International Women's Day, Wonder Woman; Netanyahu, Israel, GOP and Iran; Wisconsin Attack on Unions; Ukraine; Death Penalty, 'Justice', Incarceration; Leonard Nimoy; Books on Upton Sinclair, Michael Harrington; Announcement - Triangle Shirtwaist Fire commemoration; Today in History

idbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - March 12, 2015, Portside

Re: A Few Reactions to DOJ's 'Scathing' Report on Ferguson Cops and Racial Bias

Makes you wonder, doesn't it, how many police forces could "pass" this same investigation. And how the officers who killed Mike Brown are "not guilty."

With thanks to Portside for this link and comment:

"Blacks make up 67 percent of the population in Ferguson. But they make up 85 percent of people subject to vehicle stops and 93 percent of those arrested. Blacks are twice as likely to be searched as whites, but less likely to have drugs or weapons. The report found that 88 percent of times in which Ferguson police used force it was against blacks and all 14 cases of police dog bites involved blacks."

Kipp Dawson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I ain't buying Darell Wilson's "innocence."  How can it be that the entire Ferguson Police Dept. and the City of Ferguson are guilty of abject racism, yet Wilson gets off scot free?  Once again, the people are given with one hand while the other hand takes it away.

This is a travesty and the DOJ blew it because Holder didn't have the guts to do it correctly.

Claire Carsman

Re: The Gangsters of Ferguson

We don't agree with the DOJ's position on Darren Wilson based on our experience as activists and the DOJ's track record. See the attached document.

Yours in unity and struggle,

Frank Chapman, Field Organizer,
Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression


More radical analysis by Atlantic investigative reporter Ta-Nehisi Coates, of the meaning of US government DOJ revelations on the Police Department of Ferguson. This one about the DOJ's investigation that concluded there is insufficient legal evidentiary material to bring charges against Darren Wilson, the police officer that killed Michael Brown. Coates conflates the two narratives by dying if they could not find sufficient material evidence that contradicted officer Wilson's account of his acts of shooting back in self-defense, than the DOJ could readily find severe fault in officer Wilson's own Ferguson police department.

Wilson was operating in a milieu that gave no doubt whatsoever to Black or Brown men. Black lives did matter to FPD. Why? because Black lives were an endless source of cash to feed their budgetary revenue stream. FPD operated their field operations much like white race supremacist cotton farmers operated Jim Crow peonage "sharecropping" Black agricultural workers "sharecroppers" were an endless source surplus labor value, imposing and enforcing debt and usurious interest rates on their workers. In Ferguson, it was largely Black and Brown workers legally driving their automobile that were made vulnerable to the police department frivolous stopping, frisking, ticketing, indicting, convicting, fining, imprisoning and creating stifling debt for these marginalized laborers go to and from work and home and shopping. The arrestees were majority Black, and the officers were majority white.

Institutional racism of police departments is probably rampant throughout our nation. I still struts that The People's Republic of Cambridge is an anomaly. I know this is so because the vast majority of our officers were born, raised and educated in Cambridge. I and my teaching colleagues taught probably 30-50% or more of them! Hello!!!!!

Larry Aaronson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Venezuela: The Destabilizing Impact of a Continuous Coup

This article is OK, states basic facts, but a much better one with the appropriate context is by Mark Weisbrot:

Obama absurdly declares Venezuela a security threat

I suggest you send this out, even though Portside just sent out this Venez. article because I don't think people understand how serious this is.

T.M. Scruggs


The US Fears Democracy and Freedom in Latin America .
Will They Attempt Another fascist Coup
Like they did Against Hugo Chavez.
History Tells us They Will.

Ben Ferreira
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Seems like Chile and Allende all over again

Ahmed Iqbal Cajee
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The popular press is distorting the hell out of the situation in Venezuela. There is a global right wing conspiracy against the government of Maduro!

Robert G Watts
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Selma and Voting Rights: Commemoration or Legislation?

The irony is rich: The 1965 Selma march -- and the violent "Bloody Sunday" caused by the reaction of Alabama troopers, which horrified the nation -- is credited with speeding passage of the Voting Rights Act, one of the crowning achievements of the civil rights struggle.

But Selma's legacy is being remembered at a moment when voting rights in the South, and the Voting Rights Act itself, are in their most precarious position in half a century -- and there appears to be little political will in Washington to act on measures that would solidify the legal architecture to protect free and fair access to elections.

Diane Laison
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


We in this country choose to build monuments and nail plaques on buildings over legislating any REAL change.

Jenny Kastner
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

A People's Victory, Selma's Backwards March & Bridge Crossing - 50 years Later

At the 50th commemoration of Selma, it was ordinary people, who do extraordinary things, at the lead and at the center of the 70,000 people gathered who marched across the historic Edmond Pettus Bridge. As rumors and misinformation fly around the internet about what happened in Selma this weekend, Project South and our Southern Movement Assembly partners want to amplify the powerful reasons why there were no big celebrities leading the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years after Bloody Sunday.

While the TV preachers, famous speakers and their handlers remained at Brown Chapel, local leadership, Rose Sanders Toure made a bold call not to wait. Rose and countless unnamed people have kept the flame of history lit, commemorating the significant moment when state violence attacked the Southern Freedom Movement foot soldiers of 1965 on that bridge. Representing the rising tide of the Formerly Incarcerated People's Movement, Rev. Kenneth Glasgow has been organizing a 'Backwards March' over the bridge since 2007, a week before the Jubilee Crossing to express the need for our movements to 'go back, get it right, and go forward with everyone who has been forgotten or left behind.'

On March 8, 2015, under the gaze of a national spotlight, the people's movement started with a Backwards March of formerly incarcerated people, youth, elder movement veterans, international refugees, and grassroots organizers. Those who fight on every frontline, resisted being erased by the idea of individual, iconic leadership by wearing bright gold banners that read: We are the Peoples Movement, Leadership from the Bottom-up. The Backwards March parted at the bottom of the bridge, and Rev. Glasgow with The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS) led the march back over the bridge with Rose, the Southern People's Movement Assembly, and partner organizations.

In 2015, 50 years later, it was the People's Movement of today that reclaimed the bridge for the people, for our collective memories, and for the current frontline battles against state violence, economic displacement, mass incarceration, and injustice.  As Rev. Glasgow says in this short video highlighting this victory: "The people are tired. We will not wait. . . . Enough is Enough. Unite to Fight."

The Southern Movement Assembly recognizes the fierce leadership of local Alabama freedom fighters past, present & future and is calling for action over the next two years to grow the Southern Freedom Movement of the 21st century with the Southern People's Initiative.


More on how to get involved
More on TOPS

Our Turn To Dream (watch here)

    When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave the "I Have a Dream" 50 years ago, he had no idea Jim Crow would be replaced with another oppressive system: mass incarceration and the drug war. It's our turn to dream.

Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, Founder, National President
The Ordinary People Society (TOPS)
Phone: 334-671-2882 Office,334-791-2433 cell
403 West Powell St.     Dothan, AL 36303
Web: or

Re: The Shape of African American Geopolitics

It's interesting, covers important issues. I wonder, though, what it's taken from. The assertions are broadly stated and thinly documented. Is this a intro or first chapter of a more through study?

Daniel Millstone
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. It was founded by American women and is celebrated worldwide by nations, but how many American women even know about it, much less celebrate it? The women who tell me about their homelands' celebrations are all immigrants to the U.S. One was stupefied, "It was founded here and you don't celebrate it???"

Misogyny in the U.S. is primarily practiced at a subtle level just beneath our awareness. I look forward to the day when we will need to celebrate white men because *as a group* they have no singular power nor control over the lives of We The People and we have forgotten that they ever did.

Donna Parten
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Netanyahu's Speech: Mansplaining Iran to Obama

Divisive; no media will touch the nuclear armament in Israel and the threat that Israel will bomb Iran on its own

Brent Bonah-cameron
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


If Iran is such a threat why does Netanyahu claim Israel is the safest place for Jews

David Martinez
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Bibi's Fear - And What Really Matters

Catch Jon Stewart's bit on this from Tuesday (I think) night. It's awesome.

Elaine Rose
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


[Moderator see]:
Jon Stewart destroys Netanyahu over speech to Congress

click here to watch


What gives him the right to come here and say what we should and shouldn't do? He has also being saying the same thing for the last 20 years!

May Santiago
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


And he tells America not to interfere with Israel when it comes to the occupied territories and is always demanding that American release a criminal that was convicted there....

Marian Paroo
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Tens of thousands in Tel Aviv demand Netanyahu's ouster
+972 Magazine

Ten days before Israelis head to the polls, masses turn out in anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv. Latest polls put Zionist Camp ahead of Likud but it's still unclear who can form a coalition.

Pat Mowatt
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Give peace a chance, Bibi was so wrong about Iraq, we must not take his advice again!

David Murphy
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I cannot understand why it is taken as a given that Iran may not develop nuclear weapons of her own.Why are we not discussing the disarmament of the present batch of nuclear armed nations. What moral right do these nations have to dictate to the have nots.Surely if you have a nuclear armed pseudo state as belligerent as Israel as your neighbour then the only logical step would be for you to develop a similar capability. That would be the only way to guarantee your sovereignty as a state.If not the power differentials become so great that Iran will become just another vassal state that Israel will dictate to. No Iran should be free to scientifically and technologically develop to her full potential.Same argument for missile and rocket launching systems.

Scientifically capable nations are blocked from developing their own delivery systems. End result- they have to pay the vetoing nations hundreds of millions of dollars to put their national satellites into orbit.Until there is an international agreement to go nuclear free individual nations should have the right to develop their own to protect their sovereignty.

Nazier Ahmed Karjieker
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Israel's Peace Now: Illegal Settlements Designed to Make Two-State Solution Impossible

The two-state solution is fantasy. Conditions on the ground in the West Bank totally contradict every aspect of that proposal. Simply a red herring to buy time for more settlement construction. Israel was founded on the principal of "one more acre," creating facts on the ground that become points for negotiation, and this is no different. They will create a situation that can never be rolled back, then act as though that situation has always existed.

Peter Kalajian
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Israel never wanted a two state solution. They never even talked about at two state solution until it became impossible to have one. The aim from the start of the settlement project was to place the settlements in such a way as to preclude the Palestinians having a viable territory. It was a policy born in greed and evil.

Jan Bauman
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


There's never going to be a two state solution and it was never realistic to contemplate one. What is required is a one-state solution. A nullification of Israel's UN charter and the formation of a single federated state with equal social, political and economic rights for all regardless of race, sex or creed. The new state should be called Abrahamsland, in deference to the 3 major Abrahamic religions which claim the patriarch's patronage and a sacred tie to that region.

Howard Brodsky
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The settlements should be disbanded. Isr destroys Bedouin homes Outside designated areas. They should do the same with illegal settler houses

Carol Raskin
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Wisconsin, Round Two: Walker Attacks Private Sector Workers
(posting on Portside Labor)


Gina Woody
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Unions Suffer Latest Defeat in Midwest With Signing of Wisconsin Measure
(posting on Portside Labor)

It's time for bills to be introduced in Right-to-Work-for-Less states that frees unions of the obligation to represent workers who do not belong to the unions, a perfectly logical extension as a matter of equity.

Jim Young
Harrisburg, PA

Re: Breedlove's Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

This article claims Obama is "isolated" by warmongers like Breedlove and Nuland. So why doesn't he order his SecState to get rid of his undersec Nuland and why doesn't he as commander-in-chief order Breedlove to get with his program or retire? Seems to me O is their enabler and articles that target his employees rather than their boss have a political agenda.

Mike Munk

Re: Wonder Woman: Missing Link in Fight for Women's Rights

There's another missing link in the fight for women's rights. During the 1930s and 1940s, working-class feminists (also called labor feminists) fought against sexism and also demanded that working women be supported in their dual role as workers and mothers. The fight for women's social rights is chronicled in The Other Women's Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America, by Dorothy Sue Cobble.

Susan Rosenthal

Re: Bryan Stevenson: If It's Not Right to Rape a Rapist, How Can It Be OK to Kill a Killer?

Five or six hundred years ago judicial torture was widely accepted. It used to be legitimate for a government to torture a suspected criminal to get him to confess to his crimes. Except for throwbacks like the CIA and Dick Cheney, we have done away with judicial torture. Judicial murder is still widely accepted, however.

Judicial torture was not done away with in anyone's lifetime, nor will judicial murder be eliminated in our lifetime. A human lifetime is not the time scale for change.  But things ARE changing - lynching was acceptable in some parts of the US only 100 years ago, and is almost gone now. I hope that our great-grandchildren will be as horrified by the idea of judicial murder as we are by that of judicial torture. Brian Stevenson is not giving up, nor should the rest of us.

Steve Lane


We need to get away from the idea that prison is a deterrent, or that punishment results in improved behavior. Our prison system is modern day slavery in most cases, public vengeance in the rest of the cases..... It's not about justice. It's not about paying a debt to society. It's not about rehabilitation.

If we really wish to turn the tide on crime, then we can put in place the systems that we know are effective ..... Early intervention, mentoring, support for young families, creating communities, support for teachers, appropriate training and support for social workers... There are a million things we could be doing. What we choose to do instead is it ignore the kid until he's broken the law.... Well, many will fight for him while he's still a fetus, then ignore him until he's broken the law

JuLeah Willson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I can argue until the cows come home how it is morally wrong for our country to kill its citizens, Killing the guys "In Cold Blood" did not deter Bundy, or Dahmer, or Gacy, who themselves were snuffred. On the other side if the coin to spare the lives of Manson or Speck has had no change of the men currently awaiting their turn to face the grim reaper, The U S of A incarcerates and kills more people than any other country in the world and our crime rate speaks for itself, If I were set to be executed for rape or murder let me be even if I am innocent. To me the greater punishment is having to live out my life in prison perhaps as Big Bubba's Bitch to keep some guard's job, To kill is morally wrong but you are saving a life from the agony of prison. forever,

Ralph Bertolucci
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I've been against the death penalty since I was a child going to church every Sunday and NOTHING has come close to changing my mind nor will it EVER!

Eva Adams
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I totally agree, and am totally against the death penalty. The death penalty is wrong and stupid. First of all it is not a just punishment. Were it that you would have to kill a Timothy McVeigh once for every person he killed. Don't work that way.

Jo Erisey Courtney
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


So true!! Aside from the simple fact (and it is a fact) that the death penalty does nothing to discourage crime. Its (to my mind) a commandment.....Thou shalt not kill....that simple.

Margaret Stallings
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


One of the challenges we face is that people talk about the death penalty as if it's a choice between the death penalty and no punishment. In a 21st-century society we have so many ways to incapacitate people who are a legitimate threat to public safety and impose punishments that are serious and substantial, that express community outrage without executing people

Jean Douthwright
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


His book, "Just Mercy" is excellent. I highly recommend

Elinor Edmunds Miller
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


He is one of our heroes. Love this man.

Bill N Dayna Beavers
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Free Leonard Peltier!

Suze Wauneka
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


If the death penalty does not deter murders then why doesn't every criminal just kill every witness to their crime? They fear the sentence. Mr. Stevenson's analogy is fatally flawed in that murder is the only crime where the penalty is similar to the crime and only after due process which murderers never give their victims. We don't steal from a thief or beat up a domestic abuser etc. Murder, because it can not be reversed has its own unique place in our system and if you knew some of the people I have known you might feel differently. Make no mistake evil walks our streets. I respect the opinion of those who disagree.

Gary Tullock
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Algeria Criminalizes Violence Against Women, But.

Islamic law has always had a provision that the victim can accept monetary compensation in lieu of physical punishments or even forgive the perpetrator.

I think Amnesty International is correct that allowing forgiveness is dangerous in domestic abuse cases. It is better that such behavior be punished as the treason it is to a woman and her children.

Given the high rates of violence toward women and children world-wide, there needs to be stronger penalties.

Aileen Kane
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Leonard Nimoy: A Man Who Embraced Humanity

Leonard Nimoy's Last Wishes for Israel and Palestine (Video)
By Juan Cole
February 28, 2015
informed Comment

Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, speaks out as a Jewish American in favor of a two-state solution and a divided Jerusalem.

Nimoy said,

    ` "I reach out to you as someone who is troubled to see the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continue apparently without an end in sight.

    "In fact, there is an end in sight. It's known as the two-state solution-a secure, democratic Israel as the Jewish State alongside an independent Palestinian state. Even Israel's nationalist Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has come to see this as the shape of the future. The problem is how to reach that end point. It's something we should be concerned about-not only as world citizens, but as Americans.

    "You might recall the episode in the original Star Trek series called, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. Two men, half black, half white, are the last survivors of their peoples who have been at war with each other for thousands of years, yet the Enterprise crew could find no differences separating these two raging men.

    "But the antagonists were keenly aware of their differences-one man was white on the right side, the other was black on the right side. And they were prepared to battle to the death to defend the memory of their people who died from the atrocities committed by the other.

    "The story was a myth, of course, and by invoking it I don't mean to belittle the very real issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. What I do mean to suggest is that the time for recriminations is over. Assigning blame over all other priorities is self-defeating. Myth can be a snare. The two sides need our help to evade the snare and search for a way to compromise.

    "The Middle East is only getting more tumultuous. The upheavals throughout the region show that what happens in the Middle East can't help but affect us in the United States. This year, we've seen oil prices rise sharply and America become involved militarily in Libya. The cost to American lives and our economy continues to rise at a time when unemployment and deficits are sapping our country's strength." `

Nimoy's letter was originally on the website of Americans for Peace Now. but was subsequently taken down.
Original story from 2011 was published by Haaretz.

Full text of letter can still be viewed on Nimoy fan page.

Relevant also is this video of Nimoy speaking on the Jewish values in Star Trek:

Jay Schaffner
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


He was a vocal and constant supporter of Peace Now, simply the most cogent and realistic of Israeli political entities. At the end of the day, the only thing one can say to both Israelis and Palestinians is "Get real...grow up...get over it!"

J.a. Murphy
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Five Years In - How's the Affordable Care Act Doing? A Diagnosis

Have you noticed that Republicans don't rant against Medicare or Medicare for All?  But they do foam at the mouth about Single-Pay.  Why do we have such difficulty arguing for Medicare-for-All?

Brad Smith

Re: Neanderthals Practiced Sexual Division of Labor

no wonder they were called neanderthals...

Jim Harris
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Review of Lauren Coodley's "Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual

During Sinclair's race for Governor of California, the state's biggest businessmen ran a massive public relations campaign to defeat him, including the distribution of 6 million pamphlets (designed to prove that Sinclair was an atheist who advocated revolution, Communism, and free love), 200,000 anti-Sinclair billboards, and fake newsreels (which movie theaters were blackmailed into running by MGM's threat to block the distribution of its films). Popular fundamentalist preacher Aimee Semple McPherson, handsomely paid by the business conspirators, staged an anti-Sinclair rally just before election day. Called "America Awake! The Enemy Is at Your Gates!" the event featured McPherson lowering the American flag and hoisting the flag of the Soviet Union. Ironically, the Communist Party was busy at the time condemning Sinclair for failing to meet its own standards of political purity.

Edwin Manners
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Remembering Michael Harrington
(posting on Portside Labor)

Thank you for this essay. These are my people. In my library are several biographies of Eugene Debs, an old copy of Norman Thomas' book A Socialist's Faith, which was my father's copy and of course Harrington's book on poverty. All were courageous people, not only rejecting the majority support in America of "free enterprise" and corporate capitalism, but also refusing to join the small minority of Marxists because that meant rejecting democracy. They led hard lives as a political minority but at least Harrington could look to Scandinavia where democratic socialism initiated many social programs that were models for other countries. He also had friends in the Canadian social democratic movement that has a long history, has sometimes won power provincially and at the moment is the Official Opposition in Ottawa. But even in Canada it is a tough sell when you are up against the conventional media espousing to goals and ideas of corporations and a public that is easily swayed by polls etc. Harrington was an interesting individual who was respected and made a contribution.

Laurel MacDowell

New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO?2015 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Commemoration

2015 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Commemoration

Wednesday, March 25 at 11:30am

New York University (NUY)
Washington Place and Greene Street
New York

The Official Commemoration of the 104th Anniversary of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Hosted by New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Today in History - March 12, 2011 -- 200,000 March on Capital in Madison, Wisconsin to Protest Gov. Walker's Attack (Then) on Public Workers

One Wisconsin Now - We Are Wisconsin

One Wisconsin Now was on hand to document the overwhelming opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's extreme right-wing agenda in Wisconsin. Click here to watch

If you like this article, please sign up for Snapshot, Portside's daily summary.

(One summary e-mail a day, you can change anytime, and Portside is always free.)

"They Say These Are Not the Best of Times...They Are the Only Times That We Have Ever Known"

"Rights Die Hard in Heartland...We Will Not Rest Until Our Rights are Restored"