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Tidbits - October 15, 2015 - Kunduz bombing;; NLRB at 80; Grace Lee Boggs; Pinochet Murder - CIA knew; prison divestiture, Ethel Rosenberg, Announcements and more...

Reader Comments: Kunduz, Doctors Without Borders and War Crimes; U.S. Labor Law at 80 - a dissenting view; Grace Lee Boggs; Congress in Chaos; Pinochet Murder and the CIA; Connecticut's Malloy attacks college unions; TPP; Henning Mankell; Prisons and Campaign to Divest from Private Prisons; Ethel Rosenberg Celebrated on 100th birthday in New York; Announcements: Eastampton, MA; New York; San Francisco; Brooklyn' Labor Notes is Hiring

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - October 15, 2015,Portside

Re: Doctors Without Borders: "Even War Has Rules"; Kunduz Fact Sheet

Bravo!! Do not give up this fight.  We are deeply sorry that you and your patients have suffered these losses and we completely agree that an International, neutral body should investigate, issue a report and that the report should be available to the press and wider public.

Wishing you well in your important work,

Edward I Geffner


that's the about:

rules of rape? wear white gloves, no face punching, only body punching

rules of child molesting? always use a condom

rules of wife beating? only once or twice a week, never more

if any of that makes sense, then tolerating war and making rules for how to properly, legally commit mass murder is brilliant.

if the 22 people murdered in that raid hadn't been at that particular place, nobody but their loved ones would know about it or care..

and that is as great a disgrace, that we tolerate such filthy, moronic, "values" as rules of war.

Frank Scott


When it comes to war the Satan has no rules. Vietnam should had proved that.

E. Morris


Bombing hospitals? Just wrong (Though, sadly, not unheard of). This is a petition sent along and signed by many friends calling for an independent investigation (independent of the bombers, that is).

click here

Daniel Millstone
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: US Labor Law at 80: The Enduring Relevance of Class Struggle Unionism

The article, "US Labor Law at 80: The Enduring Relevance of Class Struggle Unionism" is a gruel of discredited syndicalism and bad history. The contention that the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 locked the labor movement into government-controlled "contract unionism" to the detriment of  class struggle is palpably false. The Act itself was basically the product of an unprecedented strike wave in 1934 highlighted by the San Francisco general strike. Rising labor militancy forced FDR's administration to accept legislation  that forbade employers to interfere with workers attempting to unionize and seek  collective bargaining. With expanded unionization, Roosevelt hoped to force  a moderate redistribution of wealth to counter the worst abuses of the  Depression. Any calculation that the labor movement could be tempered or  controlled was belied the massive breakout of the industrial union movement  abetted by the NLRA (Wagner Act). Under mine leader John L. Lewis' sly slogan  that "the president wants you to join the union," the AFL's Committee on Industrial Organization (Later to become the independent CIO), led unprecedented industrial union drives and mass strikes  that broke out in auto, rubber, steel, packinghouse, textile, electrical and other basic industries -- punctuated by militant sit-downs in auto and rubber. With a political victory embodied in the NLRA's ban on employer sabotage of collective bargaining, the US labor movement accomplished  in six years what it took 100 years for British labor to accomplish -- the mass unionization of basic industry.

The IWW, lionized in the article as an exemplar of class struggle unionism, did have a rich and inspirational history of militant struggle and working class  unity across racial and ethnic lines. But the IWW's fierce opposition to  political engagement ultimately undermined its effectiveness and cast it to  the margins of the labor movement. The growth of rising industrial unionism brought significant advances to African American workers and other oppressed nationalities within the working class. That growth was based in significant measure on an understanding of the inseparable relationship between  political power of the state and class struggle -- and labor's willingness  to contest in the political arena. The decline of the labor movement was  foretold by the ferocious government assault, embodied in the Taft-Hartley Act  of 1947 (not mentioned in the article), that banned the closed shop, placed  major restraints on union organizing and bargaining and enacted the notorious  non-communist affidavit as a condition for union leadership. The non-communist  affidavit tore the principled heart out of industrial unions; the cold  war became a cruel rationale for the expulsion of ten militant unions from the  CIO. In the wake of such attack fomented by government, a major segment of  surviving labor leadership abandoned its last vestiges of political  independence.

All that raises a question: if collective bargaining is emblematic of class collaboration, why has government and its corporate allies fought so hard and so destructively to crush it? As the union movement struggles today to recover its standing and its militant spirit, new conditions require both traditional and new forms of organization. While labor creatively seeks to maneuver around constraints on organizing, traditional "contract unionism" remains an important element in the battles of working people to counter the effects of austerity and inequality.

Mark Solomon

Re: The (R)evolutionary Vision and Contagious Optimism of Grace Lee Boggs

Thought Portside readers would be interested in this interview with Grace Lee Boggs.

    DailyGood: A Century in the World
    Grace Lee Boggs, Chinese-American philosopher and civil rights legend, talks here on her 100th birthday...
    You're entering a kind of parallel urban universe - a  Detroit rarely seen in news coverage of the city. This
    pocket of innovation and vigor flourished within more familiar recent pictures of decline.
    And right in the middle of it all has been Grace Lee Boggs - the Chinese-American philosopher, civil rights
    legend, and social visionary. She's just celebrated her 100th birthday. So we're revisiting our 2011
    pilgrimage to Detroit to meet her. We discovered her at her home, surrounded by joyful people re-creating
    their corners of the world. Their innovations are now ironically struggling to continue amidst Detroit's
    economic rebirth. Yet to meet Grace Lee Boggs again, together with her community, is to gain perspective on
    all of our work to re-imagine and navigate the most challenging dynamics of our time.
    Full transcript here.
    Listen here.   

Susan Ackoff Ortega

Re: Labor Coalition Calls for Minimum Wage Higher Than $15 Per Hour
(posting on Portside Labor)

and also no one is asking 'are you a supporter of Apartheid in Israel and lobbying for their financial and political support through AIPAC...especially not Clinton

Azim Hajee
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: This Document Reveals Why The House Of Representatives Is In Complete Chaos

Let's not forget the contribution of the extreme gerrymandering that made a minority party into the House's majority party.  I believe it was several million more votes went to Democratic party candidates for House seats than to Republicans.

The Republican claim to represent the public -- even a public subjected to media miseducation -- is fraudulent.
Unfortunately but characteristically, Pres. Obama, perhaps out of a desire not to be the one reporting the bad news or perhaps because some Dems are jealous of the Republican success at scoring what we now see is "self-goal," hasn't spoken of this distorted situation in his last three State of the Union messages.

It's quite an achievement to make the House less representative that the Senate (which was constructed in part to limit popular democracy), but we see the results in the mess among the victors. Oh, and by the way, also in the continuing social damage being done.

Joe Maizlish,
Los Angeles

Re: Pinochet Directly Ordered Killing on US Soil of Chilean Diplomat, Papers Reveal

Pinochet became dictator of Chile in a coup on 9/11/1973 arranged & enabled by the U.S. government. The popular, democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, died during the coup, as did thousands of other Chileans.
(One of the many examples of U.S. government support for "democracy" around the world.)

Diane Laison
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


New proof which the United States has provided to the world - that Pinochet killed Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffitt in 1976.

Marilyn Albert
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The Malloy Administration's stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

(posting on Portside Labor)

It would be helpful if, on such an article of real potential use in on-going struggles, you gave some basic information on the author, that would support the credibility of the piece --which sounds very good indeed.

Peter Marcuse


Moderator's Note: Portside tries to provide background information on the authors of articles that we post. Thanks for reminding us of this.

The following information is from the author's website:

Jonathan Pelto has been actively involved in Connecticut public policy, advocacy and electoral politics for nearly 40 years.

In 1984 he was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives as a senior at the University of Connecticut and, over five terms, rose to the level of Deputy Majority Leader.  Pelto was a long-time member of the Appropriations and Education Committee and chaired the House Democratic Screening Committee.

Since leaving the Legislature in 1993, he's worked as a communications strategist developing and implementing sophisticated public relations, media relations and advocacy programs aimed at educating, persuading and mobilizing targeted audiences.  His clients have included many of Connecticut's most significant non-profit organizations, corporations, associations and unions, as well as Native American Tribes.

Over the years he's also managed or worked on numerous political campaigns at the federal, state and local levels including campaigns Chris Dodd, Gary Hart, Connecticut gubernatorial and congressional campaigns and many state legislative races.

Pelto is now a candidate for governor in Connecticut running as the nominee of the newly created Education and Democracy Party.  Pelto's running mate is Ebony Murphy, a school teacher and policy activist who lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

Re: What You Should Know About That Completed TPP "Trade" Deal; The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade

This is a rerun of the 1980s on a larger scale. As for free trade, there is no such thing. This is a process that gives the largest corporations in the world a seat at the table with governments in a secret process, while small businesses, taxpayers and everyone else are excluded. These rules will continue to undermine democracy because they give companies the right to sue governments over social programs, they will continue to undermine standards and unions trying to protect them, and they do all of this in secret without public knowledge. How did we get here?

Politicians are going along with this and in doing so betray the public trust. The last 30 years have been a disaster for the economy and most people, so there is no justification to continue a process that created these problems.

There is nothing wrong with more global trade but people should be protected, social standards should be sacrosanct and unions should be free to represent workers. None of this is possible when you have bloated huge companies looking out for their own interests alone.

Laurel MacDowell

Re: Henning Mankell, Swedish Author of Wallander, Dies at 67

Excellent article about one of my favorite authors.

Ellen Broms
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Un-Natural Gas and Unnecessary Pipelines: De-bunking Myths

We should always refer to it as  POISON GAS  !!!

Matthew Borenstein

Re: Solar and Wind Just Passed Another Big Turning Point

Dear Mr. Randall: We have had wind energy in TX with Green Mountain Energy. If after its installation the electricity becomes "free", why doesn't our cost go down?

Lee Loe
Houston , TX

Re: Our Prison Debate Team Beat Harvard's. Here's How We Did It

I would like to hear more about the Bard prison initiate and how it works in practice.

Nina Udovicki

Re: Ethel Rosenberg Day of Justice in the Borough of Manhattan Declared on Sep 28, Ethel's 100th Birthday

Thank you Portside for sharing! We held a ceremony here for her as well. RIP. There but for fortune go you or I, me or mine.

Joan Kramer
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Columbia Becomes First U.S. University to Divest From Prisons
(see original post )

Ask if your educational institution has divested from private prison companies. Demand that trustees divest from private prison companies and refrain from investing in such companies in the future. - See more at…

Peace and Justice Center
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

25th Anniversary Celebration Spotlighting "Artists as Activists" - Rosenberg Fund for Children - Easthampton, MA - October 17

Saturday, October 17  --  8:00 - 11:00pm

Eastworks, first floor (east end)
116 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA

Tickets available here.

Please join us to celebrate our 25th anniversary!

for a Discussion, Film and Concert:

  • 8:00 pm - conversation about "Artists as Activists" with Gina Belafonte, Ellen Meeropol, and Erin McKeown, moderated by Jenn Meeropol
  • A short film with Angela Davis, Holly Near, Mike + Ruthy, The Nields, Pamela Means, Peter Mulvey, Public Enemy's Chuck D, and RFC founder Robert Meeropol.
  • 9:30 - concert by Erin McKeown, with opening by A Besere Velt (A Better World) Workmen's Circle Yiddish Chorus

Thanks to generous sponsorship from the Puffin Foundation, general admission tickets are $25. (For student/low income $15 tix, contact the RFC at 413-529-0063 or
Cash bar with beer from Abandoned Building Brewery and wine from Black Birch Vineyard.
A limited number of $125 sponsor tickets are also available and include pre-event reception catered by Galaxy, reserved seating section, and more.

The Revolution in Rojava | Kurdish activists Dilar Dirik and Zozan Alush in conversation with Meredith Tax - New York - October 22

Thursday, October 22  --  7:00pm - 9:00pm

Hoerle Lecture Hall (UL105) -- The New School
63 Fifth Avenue (at 13th Street)
New York, NY 10003

You'd think it would be big news that there's a liberated area in the Middle East led by socialist-feminists, where people make decisions through local councils and women hold 40% of leadership positions. You'd think it would be even bigger news that their militias are winning territory from ISIS. But many on the U.S. left have yet to hear the story of the Rojava cantons-Afrin, Cizîre, and Kobani-in northern Syria, or western Kurdistan.

Join Dissent, the Center for Secular Space, and the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies for a special discussion with two Kurdish activists.

  • Dilar Dirik is a Kurdish activist and a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. Her writings can be found here.
  • Zozan Alush is a Kurdish women's rights activist from Rojava and a newscaster at Ronahi TV.
  • Meredith Tax is a writer and activist in New York and a founder of the Centre for Secular Space. Read her April 2015 article on Rojava for Dissent here

Co-sponsored by the Centre for Secular Space and the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies.

PEOPLE POWER: Mike Miller book event - San Francisco - October 28


October 28  --  6:30 pizza/7:00 event

1188 Franklin St
San Francisco

Hosted by: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union

An Evening with Gregor Gysi and Leo Panitch - New York - October 29

Join us on October 29 for an evening with Gregor Gysi, a longtime leader of Germany's Left Party, and Leo Panitch, a leading intellectual of the North American Left. They will discuss what the Left can do about the crises in the European Union, including Greece's unbearable debt, the deepening refugee crisis, and never-ending austerity's immiseration of the European working class.

Thursday, October 29, 6pm-8pm

NYU Journalism Institute
20 Cooper Square, Seventh Floor

More information and RSVP here.
This event is a co-production of RLS-NYC and Jacobin Magazine.

Gregor Gysi has for decades been one of the most prominent political leaders of the European Left. From 2005-2015 he served as chairman of the parliamentary group of DIE LINKE in the German Bundestag. He recently stepped down from this position but continues to serve as member of parliament representing the district Treptow-Köpenick in Berlin. On this trip he will be giving talks in Washington D.C. (Oct 27, sponsored by the German Historical Institute), New York City, and Chicago (co-sponsored by University of Illinois Chicago and RLS-NYC).

Leo Panitch has for decades been a leading intellectual of the North American Left. He is a distinguished professor of politics at Toronto's York University and since 1985 co-editor of the Socialist Register. His latest book, co-written with Sam Gindin, is The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire. He is a frequent consultant to left causes and commentator on European politics.

The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung is an internationally operating, progressive non-profit institution for civic education.
275 Madison Avenue, Suite 2114 New York, NY 10016 -- (917) 409-1040

On his U.S. trip, Gregor Gysi will also be giving talks in Washington, D.C. (Oct 27, sponsored by the German Historical Institute), and Chicago (co-sponsored by the University of Illinois, Chicago and RLS-NYC).

Book Release - Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg - New York - November 5

RED ROSA: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg is one of the foremost political thinkers of the 20th century. Her philosophy of socialism and democracy was present in every aspect of her life-her work as an economist and educator, her activism against war and socioeconomic injustice, her relationships with friends and lovers.

Red Rosa,  a new graphic novel by Kate Evans, published by Verso Books in collaboration with the RLS-NYC, opens up Luxemburg's intellectual world to a new audience, grounding her ideas in the realities of an inspirational and deeply affecting biography.

Join us at Verso Books on Thursday night, November 5, to celebrate the release of Red Rosa with a special event featuring Kate Evans and New York-based artist and writer Molly Crabapple. Evans will open the event with a presentation about the process of creating this graphic novel. She will then be joined by Crabapple for a dialogue about what it means to be a political feminist graphic artist in this day and age.

Please RSVP here.

The event will be followed by a reception with drinks and light snacks.

The new graphic novel Red Rosa, as well as a new translation of the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg: Volume II-also published by Verso with support from RLS-NYC-will be available for sale.

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg

Thursday, November 5, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Verso Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 1010,
Brooklyn, NY

The event is free with registration. Please RSVP here.

Kate Evans is a radical cartoonist, artist, author, and activist. She draws feature-length cartoons in The Spark magazine. She is the author of numerous books, comics, and zines, including Funny Weather: Everything you Didn't Want to Know About Climate Change but Probably Should Find Out and The Food of Love.

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer in New York. Her illustrations bring critical attention to injustice and social movements-from gentrification and mass incarceration to Abu Dhabi's migrant labor camps, and rebels in Syria. Crabapple is a contributing editor for VICE, and has written for publications including The New York Times, Paris Review, and Vanity Fair. Her memoir, Drawing Blood, will be published in December 2015.

Labor Notes is hiring! -  Make Trouble Like It's Your Job

Work at Labor Notes! 

Labor Notes is accepting applications for /two positions in our New York office.  We are looking for people with experience in the labor movement and demonstrated capacities as organizational leaders. Desired start date is in November or ASAP. A commitment to rank-and-file unionism is a must.
Staff Writer/Organizer

The Staff Writer/Organizer's initial duties will focus on organizing Labor Notes' biennial Conference April 1-3, 2016. Assignments will include recruiting individuals and groups to attend, coordinating workshop speakers, dealing with venue and vendors, organizing volunteers, soliciting program book ads, overseeing scholarships, coordinating language interpretation, entertainment/culture, childcare, fundraising before and during, and audiovisual needs onsite.
After that, you will:

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  • Organize Events: Coordinate local one-day Troublemakers Schools (like mini-Labor Notes Conferences) in cities around the U.S. and Canada. Work with local committees to plan program, recruit, and organize logistics.
  • Train and Strategize: Set up and sometimes facilitate stand-alone workshops and ongoing support for local unions, caucuses, and worker centers.
  • Build Labor Notes: Promote Labor Notes publications, events, and training. Assist in fundraising efforts.
  • Network and Write: Keep in regular touch with rank-and-file activists across the country and around the world. Develop deeper knowledge and contacts in certain beat areas (specific unions, industries, or topics). Write for the monthly magazine and daily blog and recruit others to write.
  • Learn and Grow: Labor Notes' staff culture is friendly and collaborative. We value camaraderie, respect, a diverse workplace, and helping each other solve problems.

Requirements: Experience in grassroots organizing and a commitment to rank-and-file unionism.
Useful but not required: Spanish or another language; experience with layout software, databases, event organizing, public speaking, or fundraising.
Generous benefits and vacation are provided. We believe in a healthy work-life balance, and most work happens during regular office hours-but there are occasional weekend Troublemakers Schools, speaking trips, and demonstrations, and the springtime gets excitingly busy in Conference years.
Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply. Please send resume and cover letter to
Assistant Director

The Assistant Director will collaborate with staff to plan Labor Notes' strategy and budget, manage projects, and coordinate staff.
As Assistant Director, you will:

  • Train and Strategize: Dig into your toolbox of knowledge and organizing skills to provide stand-alone trainings, ongoing support, and advice to international and local unions, caucuses, and worker centers.
  • Mentor and Collaborate: Mentor other staff to plan and prioritize their work, troubleshoot, deepen their organizing skills, and interpret opportunities and challenges. Facilitate communication among staff and off-staff leaders.
  • Organize Events: Work on all aspects of our biennial Conference (the next one is April 1-3, 2016), local Troublemakers Schools, and other events.
  • Build Labor Notes: Lead fundraising, including major donors and foundation grants. Plan promotional campaigns for Labor Notes publications, events, and training.
  • Network and Write: Keep in regular touch with rank-and-file activists across the country and around the world. Develop deeper knowledge and contacts in certain beat areas (specific unions, industries, or topics). Write for the monthly magazine and daily blog and recruit others to write.
  • Learn and Grow: Labor Notes' staff culture is friendly and collaborative. We value camaraderie, respect, a diverse workplace, and helping each other solve problems.

Requirements: Experience with workplace organizing, experience supervising or leading other staff, and a commitment to rank-and-file unionism.
Useful but not required: Spanish or another language; experience with layout software, databases, event organizing, public speaking, or fundraising.
Generous benefits and vacation are provided. We believe in a healthy work-life balance, and most work happens during regular office hours-but there are occasional weekend Troublemakers Schools, speaking trips, and demonstrations, and the springtime gets excitingly busy in Conference years.
Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply. Please send resume and cover letter to
What is Labor Notes? Labor Notes is a media and organizing project that has been the voice of union activists who want to put the movement back in the labor movement since 1979. Read more...