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Tidbits - May 14, 2015 - TPP; Stop-and-Frisk; White Americans and Police Accountability; Vietnam ,Debating the War; Remembering Jackson State Murders; more...

Reader Comments - Obama and the TPP; Stop-and-Frisk; White Americans and Police Accountability; Vietnam and Anti-War History and the Ongoing Debate; Remembering Jackson State Murders; Greece, Organizing New York; Those Who Work in Customer Call Centers; Announcements - Immigration, Work and Wages - Washington - May 21; Film Showing and Discussion - Blood Fruit - New York - May 22

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - May 14, 2015,Portside

Re: Obama Intensifies TPP Push As Critics Worry Trade Deal Will Threaten US Jobs

More on the differences between Mr. O and us by Steven Greenhouse (via Portside). The bad news is that Senate Democrats have mostly caved and will vote for fast-track today (Thursday) in one of those charades of political parlor games that fool none of us.

The bizarre and transparently scandalous deal is explained here by Jonathan Weisman. It allows Congressional Democrats to claim to be against the TPP and to vote to fast-track it at the same time.

After Lobbying by Obama, Senate Agrees to Vote on Trade Bill After All

Daniel Millstone
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Obama claims that TPP ".will be guided by one simple principle: putting American workers first.The Trans-Pacific Partnership we're working on would be the most progressive trade agreement in American history-with the strongest labor, environmental, and intellectual property standards yet. It's designed to protect jobs and help grow the economy by focusing on working and middle-class families."

Well, part of this statement is likely a stated truth that is a big untruth, NAFTA and CAFTA have provisions that other countries are supposed to respect, labor and environmental standards-there are, to my knowledge, no cases of enforcement and Central American countries, especially Honduras, stand in flagrant violation. (While the U.S. condemns Venezuela for human rights violations when there are not any, but says not a word about repression and murders in Honduras since the military coup that the U.S. applauded).  Then of course there is the NarcoState of Mexico (created by NAFTA and the War on Drugs) with its border maquilas polluting the environment and extremely low waged women workers, made desperate by the displacement and unemployment effects of NAFTA and who are regularly subject to femicide.  The import of cheap American corn and agricultural products has decimated Mexican Agriculture.  The peasants who protest are repressed, often murdered, along with massacres of youthful supporters.

[Excerpt from book in preparation, An American Odyssey: What Is and What Ought to Be.]

Dale Johnson

Re: The Origins of Stop-and-Frisk

"Government commissions appointed by President Lyndon Johnson highlighted the corrosive effect of the dragnet on minority communities. African Americans routinely experienced overt racism and public frisks - police stopped them for socializing with white people, for walking down the street at night, for driving expensive cars, or simply for standing on street corners."

Lisa Husniyyah Owens Pinto
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Why White Americans Don't Believe in `Personal Accountability' For Police

A powerful and provocative critique.

Bill Woodson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The disconnect / denial of reality in the face of evidence on this issue (and many others) has been stunning to me.

Stu James
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Oh, so, according to this headline, ALL white Americans think the same thing??

It will solve nothing to paint all whites with such stereotypes!!

No more than painting "any" group with such stereotypes will solve problems!!

What such stereotypes of whites *do *do is to alienate whites who are sympathetic and supportive to minority causes!

The civil rights movement succeeded because it gained the support of many "white" Americans outside the segregated South, who, previously uninterested, unconcerned or assuming it was necessary, seeing the realities of segregation on television changed their opinions.

Richard Butsch

Re: Victims of Chicago Police Savagery Hope Reparations Fund is 'Beacon' for World

"Keep your hands on the freedom plough and hold on"!

Curtis Muhammad
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Greece What Is to Be Done? A Review

I want to thank Portside for this wonderful piece. It has clarified a lot of what is happening in Greece that I have wanted to know about and understand.

Stan Maron

Re: Organizing New York
(posting on Portside Labor)

At a time (now) when public sector workers' rights to union representation is under such fierce attack, Josh Freeman has offered us a particularly worthwhile appreciation of the complexity of history.

East Side Freedom Library
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Film Review: Last Days In Viet Nam -- With Liberals Like Rory Kennedy, Who Needs Reactionaries?
(posting on Portside Culture)

I saw this film and I don't agree with the characterization given it in this article. I never once thought that Kennedy was trying to somehow make our involvement in Vietnam seem less heinous; perhaps because I grew up during this war I have a more firmly-rooted opinion about it than younger generations.

Lisa A. Miller
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


like every thing else we all got lied to and we fell for it

Roger Zwieg
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I was curious when I saw this advertised. Thought it might be a beginning of insight on the part of American Imperialists. Nope. Opposite.

And we wonder why we have cultural problems like Rape Culture, Imposter Syndrome, etc...

America, we are an Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great nation.

Chris McCamic
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Don't fall for the propaganda regarding the Vietnam War.

Jon Adams
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Here's a memory from a neighbor of mine:

Eyewitness to the `Fall' of Vietnam: It was Not a Bloodbath
By Claudia Krich
May 3, 2015
The Davis Enterprise

Jesse Drew
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


i want to watch it. Looks quite intriguing. I don't remember Vietnam, though. Too young. My mom has some stories of friends who were drafted and never made it back home. Wasted lives.

Melissa De Sapri Williams
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


In 1974, my mother found a pocket diary on the shelf while making a call in a phone booth at JFK Airport. There were thousands of dollars in $100 bills placed between the pages. She took the diary, stood by the booth, and soon a frantic, very well-dressed woman came looking for it. My mother gave it to her, and was invited to have a cup of coffee. The woman said she was Vietnamese, and was going to settle in the US. She was overwhelmingly grateful that my mother returned the money to her.
Afterwards, my mother began to wonder who this woman was. She must have been South Vietnamese. Was she part of the corrupt elite whose exit from Vietnam was made easy by a stack of cash obtained illegally, and smuggled into the country? Was she a fortunate innocent fleeing for her life? Who was this woman my mother had helped?

Randy Ostrow
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Eyewitness to the 'Fall' of Vietnam: It Was Not a Bloodbath

Vietnamese "bo doi"...the disciplined soldiers of the People's Liberation Army behaved exactly like they were: as liberators, not conquerors

Francisco Gonzalez
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Daring women who speak the truth.

Carl Finamore
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: How to Turn a Nightmare into a Fairy Tale - 40 Years Later; The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Protest, 1965-1975

The war was not a "mistake" it was the logical consequence of the Imperialist policy of the U.S. It was a rich man's war fought by the children of the working-class and those who finished college before it ended. A time of mass upheaval against government policies and ended when the Vietnamese defeated the U.S. Army which was itself in turmoil as tens of thousands of troops refused to fight, disobeyed their Officers and even "fragged" them (tossed hand grenades under tents.

And by the way, must vets were highly respected by the anti-war protesters and given pride of place in demonstrations against the war, especially the active duty anti-war GI's who risked jail to fight imperialism.

I didn't serve in the army but took no student deferment. When I was called to the draft with high school classmates at Whitehall street, I flunked the physical. Whatever!

Herb Michael
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Remembering Those Murdered at Jackson State - May 14, 1970

Mike Alewitz

Re: Countries Around the World Are Revoking Freedom of Assembly

Again, its like global warming. If you look at just this week and last week, you won't see the changes. If you faced police in the 1960s and seen them in their party clothes today, you will notice the changes. When you plot the graph of the militarization of the police, and put it alongside the trends for a greater concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands, alongside the impoverishment of the rest of us, you will see some striking parallels. It probably won't all come to a big crunch at one moment, but with the environment's ability to support the population decreasing, and desperation rising, the only thing that will protect the 1% from the wrath of the people is that thick Blue line... watch as it grows longer teeth and claws...

Jack Radey
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


An extremely misleading headline.  The article doesn't cite any countries where freedom of assembly was "revoked".  An accurate headline would have said "curtailed".

Jonathan Nack
Oakland, CA

Re: The Precarious World of Those Who Answer Your Customer Service Calls

The transformation of work continues and we (or I at least) seem baffled as to how to respond. Call centers, paying bad wages, lock workers into data driven scripts. Customers are driven wild and workers miss out on the bonuses for prompt resolution of issues. I sense the same sorts of deskilled merging of people with machines at the supermarket self checkout and in online customer service. Soon even bad jobs will be disappearing. Thanks to anonymous for the post and to Portside for the link.

Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Oppressive and highly exploitative working conditions are an old old policy:

See Exodus, Chapter 5

6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people:

7 "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw.

8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. . . .

10 Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, "This is what Pharaoh says: `I will not give you any more straw.

11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.'"

12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw.

13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, "Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw."

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14 And Pharaoh's slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, "Why haven't you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?"

Joseph Maizlish,

Re: The Poems of Amiri Baraka
(posting on Portside Culture)

I remember him from when he was the "bad boy, avant grade" writer, LeRoy Jones. Then he became the "revolutionary" writer/poet, Amiri Baraka. He was fearless, electrifying, and right on time.

Bilal Shabazz
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Television posting on Portside - Does Fox's 'Empire" Break or Bolster Black Stereotypes?
(posting on Portside Culture)

Badly written dialog?  On TV?  There is hardly a program on TV that doesn't have badly written dialog.  It's pathetic.  When McCluhan came out with "The Medium is the Message" I thought it was a bunch of crap.  But it's true.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram on and on to the next quick write with no vowels, no thought.

Next on TV will be shows with no words just pictures and Twitterese.

There are other issues about the demise of network TV that are more complicated than bad dialog.  This is not the place to talk about the attempted take-overs of cable suppliers - that's another big problem.

I'm old enough to remember the beginning days of TV.  It was incredible.  Now it's just a commodity for advertisers who basically have nothing to sell.

The issue is not bad dialog.  The issue is bad art for good people who deserve better.

Claire Carsman

Re: Civil Resistance and the Geopolitics of Impunity

Sounds uncomfortably like Watergate and Shrub's program of torture - Nixon/Ford and Shrub built impunity around themselves, in the one case pleading "the best thing for the nation" and in the other, claims of impunity in the very laws  authorizing torture.

Sterling Vinson

K2 and the Invisible Footmen (Final Trailer)

salam!!! i am super excited to finally share the trailer of our latest film:

K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN: shot in stunning northern Pakistan, it is about the plight of the unsung heroes, the indigenous porters of majestic K2, the earth's second-highest peak.

hope you manage to carve out 2 minutes of your precious time to check it out

iara lee

watch here

Director/Producer: Iara Lee
Editor/Cinematographer: Jawad Sharif

Located on the border between Pakistan and China, K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth. For many climbers, it is an even greater prize than Everest, with limited routes, a steeper ascent, and a harder push to its summit. Nicknamed the 'Savage Mountain,' K2's peak is so much higher than the rest of the surrounding range that it juts unprotected into the atmosphere, regularly exposing climbers to life-threatening weather conditions. In 2008, a tragic disaster on K2 claimed the lives of 11 mountaineers.

Four of those who lost their lives in the disaster were porters hired to carry the equipment and provisions of foreign climbing expeditions. Despite being paid at rates far below those received by international expedition leaders, such porters - whether they provide critical supplies to expedition base camps or take on higher-altitude tasks in support of ascending climbers - take on difficult and dangerous work. These efforts make them worthy of recognition as the true heroes of mountaineering.

In K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN, filmmaker Iara Lee and her team chronicle the lives of those who make possible ascents of the world's tallest mountains, including both Pakistani porters and Nepalese sherpas. The film also follows the first official all-Pakistani climbing team, made up of former porters. This team successfully summited in 2014, on the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of the mountain. Amid breathtaking scenery, the film depicts the everyday sacrifices of porters and the courage of those indigenous climbers who choose to return to scale K2 in spite of past tragedies. In their striving to perfect their craft, these mountaineers provide a fresh look into the cultures and national traditions of Pakistan, a country typically portrayed in the foreign media as merely a land of conflict and sectarian strife.

Guestworkers, Unauthorized Immigrants, and the Impact of Immigration Status on Wages - Washington, DC - May 21

This panel explores the relationship between immigration status and wages.
A number of employer associations and legislators have proposed the expansion of U.S. temporary foreign worker programs, also commonly referred to as "guestworker" programs, as a way to supply non-immigrant workers to U.S. employers and limit unauthorized migration. Guestworker programs allow migrants to enter the U.S. workforce temporarily before returning to their home countries.   But what would the expansion of guestworker programs mean for the migrant workers themselves? Are guestworkers any better off than unauthorized workers in economic terms? Is there any economic benefit for workers who have a temporary immigration status, but no path to becoming a legal permanent resident or naturalized U.S. citizen?
If guestworker programs are to become a viable alternative to unauthorized migration, they should provide a living wage and reduce the risk of abuses workers encounter at the hands of employers and labor recruiters.  New research that will be published by EPI uses Mexican Migration Project data to compare the wage earnings of Mexican guestworkers employed in agriculture and other low-wage occupations, and to compare them to earnings of unauthorized immigrant workers and legal permanent residents.
If implemented, President Obama's deferred action initiatives for qualifying unauthorized immigrants (DAPA and DACA) could grant protection from deportation and work authorization for up to half of all unauthorized farmworkers. New research will be presented that examines farmworker wages by legal status and how deferred action might be expected to alter the hourly wages and annual earnings of those beneficiaries who choose to remain in agriculture. This research also investigates the effects of legal status on farmworkers' probability of simultaneously holding nonfarm employment and summarizes what was learned in the wake of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 about the relationship between legal status and the rate at which farmworkers left agriculture for other industries.

  • Tom Hertz - Economist, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Lauren Apgar - Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, University of Indiana
  • Charles Kamasaki - Senior Cabinet Adviser, National Council of La Raza; Resident Fellow, Migration Policy Institute
  • Opening remarks by Larry Mishel, President, Economic Policy Institute
  • Moderated by Daniel Costa, Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research, EPI

Please join us. Lunch will be served.

Thursday, May 21, 2015
11:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. ET
1333 H St. NW,
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005

This event is free and open to the public.
Register for this event.

Film Showing - Blood Fruit and Discussion - New York - May 22

The Murphy Institute and the Workers Unite! Film Festival are co-sponsoring the screening of Blood Fruit


Friday, May 22, 2015, 6-8pm
Q & A after the film

Murphy Institute
25 W 43rd St, New York, NY, United States
New York, NY 10036

Blood Fruit (1987), part of the 4th Annual Workers Unite Film Festival, happening Now thru May 27th, is the story of Mary Manning a 21 year old check-out worker at Dunnes Stores in Henry Street in Dublin who refused to register the sale of an Outspan grapefruit under a directive from her union in support of the anti-apartheid struggle. She and ten other workers who supported her action were suspended with immediate effect and so a strike ensued.  Mary and her colleagues knew little or nothing about apartheid and assumed it would be a matter of days before they could return to work but the arrival on the picket line of Nimrod Sejake changed everything.
Following the film, we'll have a Q & A with Director, Sinead O'Brien, some of the labor heroes from the film and Kendall Fells, National Organizer from 32BJ / SEIU and the Fight for $15 team.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Joseph S. Murphy Diversity in Labor Scholarship program. Tickets can be purchased here.

The film festival highlights the lives of workers in their efforts to unite and organize for better living conditions and for social justice. We're glad to be partnering with them once again this year. The complete film festival schedule is available here.