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Tidbits - June 11, 2015 - Kalief Browder, Criminality of Prisons; Fight for $15; Edward Snowden: Hero; Ronnie Gilbert; Walmart; Suicide in Young Women; Left Strategy Needed; and more...

Reader Comments: Kalief Browder and Criminality of Prisons; Fight for $15; Edward Snowden - Hero; Ronnie Gilbert; Walmart Anti-Labor Activity; Suicide in Young Women; The Audacity to Win - Left Strategy Needed; Recommended Books - By non-white authors; Announcements: 62nd Memorial of the Execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; Brooklyn Peace Fair

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - June 11, 2015,Portside

Re: The Brief and Tragic Life of Kalief Browder

What an American horror story...

Scott E. Starr
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


We need to realize that Rikers is as bad as anything in the world, it is a disgrace, the police union there is corrupt, and this tragic suicide is only one part of the fall out. We need to keep attention focused on Rikers, and on the bail issue.

David McReynolds


Shameful! No reason whatsoever that a 16 -year -old should ever have been held within or committed to the Adult Corrections System, absolutely NONE whatsoever! I worked with hundreds of Adjudicated youth committed to The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) for Treatment, even some with Murder Charges, and in all my years I have never seen such irresponsible behavior on the part of Adults as this. New York you need to be totally ashamed of your archaic Criminal Justice System and Laws! This is OUTRAGEOUS in ever sense of the word!!!

Lee Ann Gale
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: New Snowden Documents Reveal Secret Memos Expanding Spying

On the second anniversary of Edward Snowden's courageous challenge.....


In difficult political times, it's all the more important to appreciate the power of protest. That's something to celebrate on the second anniversary of Edward Snowden's courageous challenge to the government's colossal secret surveillance enterprise.

His action triggered a dramatic change in public consciousness that built up here and abroad until it even shook up our feckless Congress. No, it didn't bring down the "security state". In fact, even as the surveillance hawks suffered a setback, another secret government intrusion on Internet privacy came to light. Still it showed that no reactionary policy is immune to the power of protest once the public conscience is aroused.

That truth has been verified over and over again. It is not just a matter of vindication for heroes like Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden. It's recognition of the force for change that's inherent in a determined battle for civil rights and equality or against war-prone foreign policies.

Leon Wofsy
Leon's OpEd
June 5, 2015

At Fight for $15 Convention, A Call from Clinton but Little Talk of Union

Unlike a chair, an idea can be shared by a whole people. The time is right for alternative economics, reducing working hours, access not excess and enough not more!

Marc Batko
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The Cheapest Way to End Homelessness ... Build Homes, Says New Study

The study itself seems to say something different from the article and headline. As I read it, it says there is a small subset of permanently homeless who, because they absorb a large share of costs, can be housed more in new supported housing more cheaply.

Daniel Millstone
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Every dollar that we put in the hands of the poor returns $1.75 to the community, They have already proven in several communities that it is cheaper to house the homeless than to leave them on the streets.

Keith Miller
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: How Walmart Persuades Its Workers Not to Unionize
(posting on Portside Labor)

This ain't persuasion, this is ILLEGAL and UNJUST corporate interference in the constitutional and workplace and human rights of workers!  We do NOT give up our human and constitutional rights of free speech and collective action when we clock-in to work.  Continue to DEMAND OUR WORKER AND HUMAN RIGHTS!

Leanna Noble

Re: Daniel Barenboim on Music, Israel and Playing in Gaza

Barenboim and Edward Said were the very best of friends. As Edward was failing, the 2 of them spoke every night.

Carole Travis
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Status of Palestine in 2015

"It has been 67 years since the occupation of 78% of Palestine in 1948." OK, this makes it clear, this isn't about peace and it isn't about the occupation of the West Bank, it is about the existence of Israel--an existence that can't be eliminated without a genocidal war.  Some of us on the left support a peaceful 2 state solution, but others are knowingly or not campaigning for genocide.  The left, if it is to remain true to its basic principles, has to cut these people loose and not let them destroy the left from within.

Stan Nadel

Re: The Dark Saudi-Israeli Plot to Tip the Scales in Syria

Sorry but you cannot take sides in this dreadful Syria mess. The Assad government did not go after ISIS until recently. And barrel bombs do not endear it to the population. There are no good guys.

Evelyn Leopold

Re: Sexism Increases Suicide Risk in Young Women Worldwide

This tragedy is unbearable, and the institution causing it must be abolished!

Lee Wood
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


not only sexism and in all cultures but sexual abuse and domestic abuse as well.

Rachel Barr
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Not surprised at this statistic

Marcia Barnette
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Yogurt: Is Savory the Next New Thing?
(posting on Portside Culture)

Portside -  Interesting deviation. Love it. The article didn't mention Tzatziki, the quintessential "Greek" yogurt dish (it's actually Turkish, but probably used far more in Greece than any where!). Yogurt, GARLIC, finely chopped cucumber, & olive oil.

Andrea Devine
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Ronnie Gilbert, Bold-Voiced Singer with the Weavers, Is Dead at 88

Burn in hell Joe McCarthy.

Dale Stubenhofer
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Sad to see these people leave us

Christine Elliot
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


RIP, Ronnie. Burn in hell, Joe.

Susan B. Jones
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I still have my "Weavers at Carnegie Hall" LP. A prized possession. I can hear her voice in my head.

Linda Turner
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I LOVE Ronnie Gilbert. I just found out today that she died June 6. I heard her sing in person a number of times. I took care of my mother when she had dementia, and I often took her to hear music, all kinds of music.

One night we went to hear Ronnie and Holly Near sing at Sanders Theater. Cambridge. She did not want to leave when it was over. She kept on hoping they would come out again and sing. And they had already come out a few times

She loved seeing and hearing a bubbie up there on the stage singing her lungs out so gorgeously. And so did I

We have lost a great woman - a shera - a great singer, a great feminist, a great activist.

This is a good read.

Sheila Parks
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The Audacity to Win: A Call for Strategy for the US Left

Why not just forget about the dialectics, put the rhetoric aside, sit on the egos, learn to work together collectively,  get a robust group of activists and build a party that votes and just do it!

Stan Maron


Thanks to the "left strategy collective" for raising the issue of the need for discussion on developing a strategy for building socialism in the United States.

I think one way to begin such a discussion is for people to read some current thinkers on what is and how to achieve "Twenty First Century Socialism". This current trend in socialist thought arises out of new thoughts and studies on the failure of "socialism" in Eastern Europe and experiences in Latin America.

It would be worthwhile for people to read many of the books and articles by Michale Lebowitz and Marta Harnecker on this trend.

For example,

The Socialist Alternative - Real Human Development by Michael A. Lebowitz

Contradictions of Real Socialism, the Conductor and the Conducted by Lebowitz

"The Spectre of Twenty-First Century Socialism" by Lebowitz

A World to Build - New Paths Towards Twenty-First Century Socialism by Marta Harnecker

"New Paths Require a New Culture on the Left" by Marta Harnecker, (Speech accepting the 2013 Libertador Prize for Critical Thought, awarded for A World to Build: New Paths toward Twenty-first Century Socialism, Caracas, Venezuela, August 15, 2014)  published on Portside

By presenting such a list I do not mean to imply that other readings and authors are not necessary, this is just a place to begin.

Of course the discussion must be on if and how such theories and strategies would be applied to the conditions in the United States.

Dave Cohen


I thank the authors for this latest "left strategy" discussion. I wish it would include an analysis of the fate of the previous "left strategy discussions". Its not clear that they generated any noticeable advance in left organization numbers, elected officials, etc. But maybe this one will be different.

First problem: definition of the "Left":
    "those forces that oppose the capitalist, white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal system and seek to build an alternative society."

Invoking undefined abstractions in a definition, is like generating potential energy (voltage) for which there is no path to ground. Creates as many problems as it seeks to solve. If the Left are forces who, in the first place, "oppose capitalism" -- it's already fatally marginalized. Indeed, I think this misconception negates much of the value of this entire article, which curses many of the ideas with irrelevance. Worse, I too find myself a bit intoxicated when I read polls saying 40% of the population has positive views of "socialism". And who on the Left have not drunk gallons kool-aid of various prescriptions and dogmas in the past on this matter of "capitalism"?.   We have the same problem with "neo-liberalism", which, when the list of its maladies is made evaluates -- usually explicitly in Left literature -- also to "capitalism". What is NOT neo-liberal society, or economy? What is anti-capitalist society, or economy? The few polls that query a bit deeper, find "socialism" to mostly mean the northern european social democracies, whose governments have been led by parties called "Socialist", with some admiration of Cuba and Latin American "Popular Socialists". Not many "Bring back the USSR", or "Lets Be Like China" sentiments in the US. I find it interesting that the surviving positive reputation of socialism in the wake of the collapse of the USSR, etc., are grounded in the two principle successes of socialism: 1. Its incarnation as "planned capitalism with strong working class organization and protections" in Northern Europe has been an ECONOMIC SUCCESS. As anyone familiar with organizing in the industrial days knows -- winning a raise in the union plant  will overcome a lot of lies and propaganda against unions in the non-union plant down the street; 2) its proof that political parties with a socialist vision can govern mixed economies. The Chinese CP is no longer "anti-capitalist", but asserts its ability to lead society through an era of rapid capitalist development.

I blame it in part on Marx, Engels, and Lenin too for some of the confusion, although the latter tried to correct it in his last two years.  In their economics and historical writings, Marx and Engels never consider the birth or emergence of capitalism on the heels of feudal or barbarous societies, a choice,  even though historical development is manifest dialectically as  aggregates of human choices and actions.  It emerged because a new level of human and material resources enabled a new mode of production -- commodity production -- to take hold. ONce it took hold it has, as Marx predicted, proceeded in both leaps and increments, despite numerous setbacks, to consume the world and obliterate all previous relations in it wake. "All that is solid melts into air, and all  that is holy is profaned."

... while enumerating the signs of upsurge is good and worthy, STRATEGIC note should be taken of the fact that the 2014 elections showed deep inroads by the ultra right into working class voters. Strip all the spin away and its there --- we have some serious class unity problems that could land all three branches of government in the hands of complete cretins. The path to socialism (if you don't like baseball) must address and make progress on the questions of equity and inequality in terms of bourgeois right, that is, essentially, equal pay for equal work, before moving on. Further, the "anti-capitalist" Left "membership requirement" makes it easy prey for the trap of underestimating the ultra right threat, or putting every evil in the "that's capitalism" box -- or other  futile gestures.

John Case

[This is part of a longer submission from the author. Interested readers should contact him directly at: ]

Re: Recommended Summer Reading: Alternative Lists

Here are two lists - by non-white authors - that the New York Times just simply missed with its recommendations of summer books to read:

Some African authors to add to The New York Times' list of summer books
An Indian alternative to the New York Times' all-white summer reading list

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.)

Jay Schaffner

Re: Does Anthropocene Science Blame All of Humanity For Environmental Crisis?

This is from London Review of Books, 37:7; Letters

John Allison
Mt Shasta, North America

When the Anthropocene Began
April 9, 2015
London Review of Books - Letters - Vol. 37 No. 7

Discussing the global cooling of around 2°C in the mid-17th century, David Parrott notes that `the Little Ice Age is today more likely to be appropriated by climate change sceptics than by historians: humanity survived global cooling, they argue, so we need not worry about global warming - just another part of the cycle' (LRB, 5 March). This sanguine view is undermined by evidence that the 17th-century global cooling was itself anthropogenic: a consequence of the arrival of Europeans in the New World. `Besides permanently and dramatically altering the diet of almost all of humanity,' Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin write in a recent paper inNature,

the arrival of Europeans in the Americas also led to a large decline in human numbers. Regional population estimates sum to a total of 54 million people in the Americas in 1492, with recent population modelling estimates of 61 million people. Numbers rapidly declined to a minimum of about six million people by 1650 via exposure to diseases carried by Europeans, plus war, enslavement and famine. The accompanying near cessation of farming and reduction in fire use resulted in the regeneration of over 50 million hectares of forest, woody savanna and grassland with a carbon uptake by vegetation and soils estimated at 5-40 Pg [a Pg, or petagram, is a billion tonnes] within around 100 years.

Lewis and Maslin use this evidence in support of a plausible dating of the onset of the Anthropocene epoch at 1610 CE, marked by a historic atmospheric CO2 minimum. They also note that `post-1492 humans on the two hemispheres were connected [and] trade became global,' citing Immanuel Wallerstein's Modern World System theory. The onset of globalisation, marked by the voyages of Columbus (1492), Vasco da Gama (1498) and Cabral (1500) and accelerating through the 17th century, was also the beginning of the rise to global ascendancy of Western European empires, powered by the plundered riches of the New World. Nowhere and for no one was the 17th century sadder than for the surviving one in ten or so of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Chris Sinha

Re: How the United States Economically and Politically Strangled Puerto Rico

That is the real story of our country....a colony of USA....we are just a property of USA....but this is worse that spaniards regime...the real truth...the liberation from the USA army was a fraud and lie.

Jorge Gonzalez
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Our country did same to Philippines

Matthew Jochim
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Israel Threat: Nuke Iran

But defensively, of course. Because you know, Israel NEVER does anything unkind, illegal, immoral, or aggressive. And you know, the Holocaust... and some nasty things the Iranian politicians say... so it will really be OK, very humanitarian. And there will be no repercussions, experts agree...

Jack Radey
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


What an incongruity! To use nukes to prevent Iran from having nukes!

Arthur C. Hurwitz
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The Female Mathematician Who Changed the Course of Physics-But Couldn't Get a Job

An interesting piece. I've never heard of it but it just shows how many people are involved in a scientific discovery. Also true for art. Yet one person puts his name on it

Sonja Franeta
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

The French Revolution and the struggle for the abolition of slavery - Olympe de Gouges Honoured by the National Assembly in France

Translated by Adrian Jordan
June 6, 2015

A ceremony in honour of Olympe de Gouges, feminist figure of the French Revolution and the struggle for the abolition of slavery, will take place on Thursday at the National Assembly. A highlight will be the presentation of a recently acquired signed letter.

The National Assembly will pay homage to Olympe de Gouges on Thursday, at the behest of the president of the Assembly, Claude Bartolone (PS) and Sandrine Mazetier (PS), vice-president of the Assembly and president of the delegation of the Office for Artistic and Cultural Heritage. The honoured lady of letters and politician worked for the recognition of women's civil and political rights and also for the abolition of slavery.

On the occasion, a highlight will be the presentation of a letter signed by Olympe de Gouges, recently acquired by the National Assembly and of other documents concerning her, conserved at the Palais-Bourbon library. Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793) is the author of "The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen" (1792), containing the famous line: "Woman has the right to mount the scaffold; she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum."

Arrested in July 1793 for her stance, she was guillotined the following November 3, crying out: "Children of the Fatherland, you will avenge my death." The feminist figure will again be honoured by the assembly in October, during celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the first women deputies. The National Assembly has called for proposals for the creation of a bust of Olympe de Gouges, which will be sited near to the Salle des Quatre Colonnes.

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Olympe de Gouges à l'honneur à l'Assemblée Nationale 

62nd Memorial of the Execution of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg - Thursday, June 18 - New York

The National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case

Thursday, June 18, 2015, from 7:00 - 9:30 pm

UAW/National Writers Union
256 West 38th Street (between 7th & 8th Avenues)
12th floor
New York City.

FREE Admission
RSVP Required: (212) 533-1015 or


  • Screening of award-winning film "Strange Fruit" - The story of the song that became the anti-lynching anthem and signature song of Billie Holiday;
  • Robert Meeropol, younger son of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, discussing "Strange Convergence: Billie Holiday & Ethel Rosenberg at 100";
  • Soffiyah Elijah, activist advocate and Executive Director of NY Correctional Association, on "Political Repression - Extra-Judicial and Legal Lynching."

Refreshments will be served.  Books and literature will be available.

The National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case
339 Lafayette St., Suite 203 New York, NY 10012-2725
Tel. (212) 533-1015

Brooklyn Peace & Justice Fair! - Saturday, June 27

Saturday, June 27
11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Cuyler Gore Park (in Fort Greene), Fulton St. and Carlton Ave
. [MAP]

How to get there:
Train: C to Lafayette/Fulton); G to Fulton;Lafayette;
2/3/4/5B/D/N/R/Q/LIRR to Atlantic Terminal (7-10 min walking distance)
Bus: B 25, B 26, B 52 (stops right at the park)


Art, games, kids' activities,  music, dance, theater, poetry, discussion groups, puppets, yoga, know your rights trainings, and more!
On Facebook -- RSVP and invite your friends!
Child friendly event! Children's playground is in the park.

Sponsoring organizations: (list in formation)
Black Vets for Social Justice;Brooklyn For Peace; Brooklyn Movement Center; FUREE; Fort Greene Peace; Fort Greene SNAP; Lafayette Ave Presbyterian Church Social Justice  Committee; Ingersoll Community Center; Atlantic Terminal Community Center; Lone Wolf Tribe; JACK Theater; People's Puppets of Occupy Wall Street (OWS); Irondale Theater; Brooklyn YWCA; Greene Hill Food Co-op.

For more info, and if your organization would like to participate, e-mail