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Tidbits - September 1, 2016 - Reader Comments: Lots of good stuff-. Black Lives Matter; Fannie Lou Hamer; Single-Payer; BLM and Palestine; Oil Industry; James Brown; Sex Workers?; The Left-Wing of the Possible; and much more...

Reader Comments: Lots of good stuff this week. What Does Black Lives Matter Want; Single-Payer Healthcare System Is Inevitable?; BLM and Palestine Solidarity; Oil Industry and Peak Oil; James Brown; Sex Workers?; and much more... Announcements: Triangle Fire opera; Women 9/11 First Responders Panel Discussion; The Left-Wing of the Possible - How Can the Sanders' Phenomenon Transform American Politics; Protect Pacifica Archives; Labor, Islam, and War...

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - September 1, 2016,Portside

Here's a thoughtful article from Robin D. G. Kelley about the The Movement for Black Lives' statement "A Vision for Black Lives." This is work that we should study and discuss. Kelley calls this "more than a platform," it's a "remarkable blueprint for social transformation."  "A Vision for Black Lives" explicitly calls for divesting from prisons, policing, a failed war on drugs, fossil fuels, fiscal and trade policies that benefit the rich and deepen inequality, and a military budget in which two-thirds of the Pentagon's spending goes to private contractors. The savings are to be invested in education, universal healthcare, housing, living wage jobs, "community-based drug and mental health treatment," restorative justice, food justice, and green energy.  Posted at Portside
This is to correct a mistake in the article by Keisha Blain regarding Mrs. Hamer at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.  Her testimony before the Credentials Committee was compelling, so much so that President Johnson interrupted it with an impromptu news conference. The Mississippi Fred Democratic Party, representing Black citizens who were denied voting rights in the state sought the seating of their delegates who had been selected in an open process, in place of the entire Mississippi delegation. When the Democratic Party offered token seating of four MFDP delegates with the "regular" party delegates to all retain their seats and voting rights at the convention, Mrs. Hamer made her famous statement that the MFDP had not come all that way for four seats.  The entire point of the MFDP was that the regular Democratic Party in the state was replete with the people who were responsible for the denial of voting rights and the horrendous violence in the state.
Thank you for the opportunity to correct this history
Rita Schwerner Bender
A strong argument -- even if "inevitable" may be an exaggeration.
Alfred Rose
Robert Reich, here, makes a good argument, speaks for me and perhaps you. Have your co-pays, premiums and deductibles gone up? My co-pays have tripled. Thanks to Portside for the link (who, if you know, is Peter Vidani? he seems to have a byline here)
Daniel Millstone
This is a disgrace. Bad for kids. Bad for funding decent social services for everyone. Bad for social ethics because quickly the wealthy feel entitled which means a lack of respect for democracy, for fairness, a greater tendency for corruption. It is the end of the American dream.It is pathetic in such circumstances that Trump is running, that Clinton beat Saunders and that President Obama is pushing the new trade deal with its bias towards the interests of multinational corporations.Very sad 
Laurel MacDowell
Allen Dershowwitz's arguments against Black Lives Matter's position paper of principles notwithstanding, the neoliberal Jewish leaders of the pro-Zionist bent, have taken to criticizing the BLM movement's conflating Israel Occupation and systematic destruction of a viable Palestinian nation-state, as being labeled "Apartheid" are here reduced to rubble... This Portside…
article also dismisses the flawed critiques of many other Jewish so-called liberal and progressive "pro-Palestinian" organization, in particular JStreet, who had objections to BLM's labeling Israel present policies as Apartheid. They all want us to recognize the fact that Israel is the only genuinely "democratic" state in the so-called Middle East. Nonsense!!!! This article helps us understand how the facts on the ground are totally not a democracy in any way shape or form for the non-Jewish demographics of present day Israel. Not only is it undemocratic for Arabic and Islamic Israeli "citizens" and non-citizens, but also for many of the Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants/refugees from North Africa and from the poorest section of Eastern Europe. But there is so much more!
"Yet, when this issue of common rights and common appeals to rights is raised, critics of the notion that Black and Palestinian rights can be taken together, often insist on some notion of "equivalence." When they do so, critics of this form of solidarity miss how concepts like apartheid are not meant to apply only when there is perfect equivalence between each supposed case of apartheid but when two cases share common features that are parts of the declared definition of apartheid. For example, in its criticism of the platform, J Street writes: "The characterization of Israel as an "apartheid state" is also misleading and unhelpful. The best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation is to address the unique and specific circumstances and conditions underlying them, without insistence on fitting them within the ill-fitting framework of a different conflict from a different time and place."
What J Street wishes to do is to dismiss out of hand a "framework" that sets up the definition of apartheid in the first place. Once one does that, the term itself disappears. The Movement for Black Lives and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement instead insist that looking at the definition of "apartheid" one finds it an appropriate label for both what went on during apartheid in South Africa and what is going on now in Palestine. In short, the frame is not "ill-fitting" at all. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states clearly: "The crime of apartheid means inhumane acts... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."
Larry Aaronson
Join us at the East Side Freedom Library on Monday, September 12, for a roundtable discussion on "What Is Solidarity?" both historically and in this present moment. This article is a valuable table-setter...
in case you weren't sure
Jim Price
One component of what is coming -- whether forced on human commerce by the economic realities Heinberg describes or adopted through foresight (likely a porridge of both) -- will be a degree of relocalization (or "unglobalization").
The breakneck globalization has depended on exactly the form of energy use for transport which Heinberg shows is highly dependent on the more concentrated sources of energy (petro, and perish the thought, nuclear).
In my specialty as a workplace crisis counselor it occasionally seems appropriate to talk informally with managers about the context of the downsizing or closures which are impacting the workplace.  On a visit to a plant closing due to pressure from international trade I said something about the economic dislocation being accompanied by environmental costs from the long-distance transportation of goods. He responded from the perspective of someone used to focusing on the profit-loss balance sheet of a company, and said that the transportation and fuel component of their costs was very small compared to other costs.  Quite correct in terms of the narrow balance sheet with which he had been living.
We may expect most decision-makers and the many at-risk people as well to resist adjusting their short-term, narrow definitions of well-being, and thus stave off the self-correcting potential of the whole.
Whatever moves people, whether in those elites or outside them, to recognize and enact the wider consciousness means less misery and a easier recovery for people and planet.  We need both the comprehensive grasp Hienberg offers us and the micro-level recognition by each of us that we simultaneously are individuals and are one.
Joe Maizlish, Los Angeles
Once the dynamic of declining energy profitability really gets rolling, adaptation becomes much more difficult. Oil no longer provides as much of a stimulus to the economy, which just can't grow as it did before, and this in turn sets in motion a self-reinforcing feedback loop of stagnating or falling labor productivity, falling wages, falling consumption, reduced ability to re-pay debt, failure to invest in future energy productivity, falling energy supplies, falling tax revenues, and so on. How long can debt continue to substitute...
Michelle Miller
That's pretty fascinating. I love that he comes to the conclusion we need a new buzz word. Marketing dominates the world view. The manufacturing of desire.
Charlie Cheney
Heinberg's analysis is confusing since it conflates physical with political economic constraints now in place.  First we should welcome "peak oil", even better "peak coal, tar sands and natural gas", with the latter being the highest carbon footprint fossil fuels. Peak here refers to peak in global production, the sooner the better for any chance for climate security in a robust energy transition to a global wind and solar infrastructure.
Yes oil is now essential for certain uses, in particular for transportation and shipping, but this can and should be replaced in transition to wind/solar power by both electrification, especially for rail/public transport and producing carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuel particularly for air travel derived from solar-powered chemical reactions using carbon dioxide and water (e.g., Asadi et al., 2016, Science 353, 467-470).  In his article Heinberg ignores the studies of Mark Jacobson and collaborators which have demonstrated this transition is plausible in a few decades. Only a fraction of the global reserves of conventional liquid oil is sufficient to power a transition to wind/solar supplies, while keeping the temperature increase to below 1.5 deg C by 2100, the goal of the Paris Agreement, but only if this energy transition starts very soon with the highest carbon footprint fossil fuels phasing out rapidly (see for details, using oil reserve data from Jim Hansen's recent papers).
Heinberg claims the energy highway is crumbling beneath us as the profitability of oil production declines but this is a political economic outcome, not a physical one. The current low price of petroleum is the direct result of U.S./Saudi collusion. The U.S. imperial goal of regime change in Venezuela converged with as Heinberg points out the Saudi objective of driving out competition from shale oil derived by fracking. Hence the Saudis blocked effective action by OPEC to limit petroleum production, thereby depressing the price of oil. 
Heinberg cites the low EROEI of bitumen oil but this is irrelevant to the issue of production of higher EROEI conventional oil being a bridge fuel in a rapid wind/solar energy transition, especially since the EROEI ratio of these technologies continues to increase, hence requiring less and less existing energy for their creation. Heinberg is correct to point out the environmental risks involved in even conventional oil production, so a strong regime of protection is required, while extracting the minimum amount of oil necessary to power a complete global transition to wind/solar energy supplies. A higher price for oil, including carbon taxation, would be beneficial in multiple ways, including increasing investment in wind/solar. This price increase should be coupled with compensation to low-income commuters and consumers of oil for home use until adequate low cost to free public transport is provided along with other alternatives to oil consumption,. 
But the main obstacle standing in the way is the military industrial complex and its imperial agenda which is blocking a global regime of cooperation needed for a rapid decline in carbon emissions coupled with accelerated wind/solar power creation. Demilitarization will free up colossal resources needed for this transition ($2 trillion is the present cost of global military expenditures). The direct and indirect costs of fossil fuels total some $5 trillion per year according to a recent IMF study. Hence a Global Green New Deal is not only cost-effective but an imperative to prevent the onset of catastrophic climate change while there is still a window of opportunity to act.
David Schwartzman
Pollute our oxygen and fill their pockets
Victor Barbian
(posting on Portside Culture)
Wow what a great read. I saw my first James Brown concert at the Oakland Auditorium. Must have ben 1957. I saw him through his last years...from the Seaman's Hall, to the Paramount in Oakland. One thing never changed brothers and sisters dressed to the nines..the other the power of James Brown and that driving band..Like this author says he was beyond imitation unless your Eddie Murphy doing a parody, but no one held that stage like him. Saw the Tami Show too in Santa Monica..much as I am a Stones fan, bout twelve of their tours, like the author says, Mick forever was a Strawman in my mind
Earl Marty Price 
American backed ,corporate finance coup
Wendall Butler
(posting on Portside Labor)
I'm always glad to get material from Portside, which offers a radical perspective on labor issues seldom found these days. But I'm surprised by the article, "Sex Workers Organize for Right to Work Safely, Legally," that you distributed.
I'm vaguely aware that there is a big dispute between people who are anti-prostitution and people who are, I guess, pro-sex-worker? I don't think these should be in contradiction. But when I read a piece that exhorts readers to "leave the rest of the industry alone" and responds to efforts to get people out of human trafficking situations by saying, "Sadly, in U.S. contexts, it means abolishing prostitution," I'm flummoxed.
Sure, I get the problem of "moral reform" types trying to tell women what to do with their bodies -- unfortunately there's a very, very long history of this -- but honestly, I can't believe somebody thinks the prostitution industry is something to protect and defend. My sense is that this writer is driven by some kind of ideological stance that isn't linked to a clear understanding of how exploitation of women has actually operated historically, and why.
I'm a labor historian, and I actually do think of prostitution and other forms of sex-for-sale from a labor perspective (unlike some of the folks this author is criticizing). So let's treat it like work. Amidst all the talk about women's agency, where is the talk about fighting to make prostitution eligible for workers comp, unemployment benefits, pension benefits, protection under federal labor laws, etc., etc.?
But even this approach doesn't mean we shouldn't critique prostitution as problematic. As a socialist and a feminist, I sure don't want to live in a society where women have to sell their bodies in order to get by. Is that the world we want? The world we're going to fight for?
Ironically, while thinking about this issue, I found myself thinking about migrant labor. Do we talk about migrant workers' "agency"? Do we say we should "leave the industry alone"? No. We talk about how to make sure migrant workers have the same rights and protections that other worker (are supposed to) have, and we go after employers to hold them accountable. We talk about how exploitative and backbreaking and painful this labor is. Why don't we do that with prostitution? The irony is that I then saw that the next Portside article in my inbox was in fact about the challenges migrant workers face.
I hope Portside will consider being a little more careful about what it distributes -- or perhaps more balanced. Please remember that we aren't all marching in lockstep with whatever seems like the latest trend these days.
In solidarity,
Tami Friedman
Thorold, Ontario
(posting on Portside Labor)
Thanks for this. "The ultimate aim of socialism should be the abolition of capitalism - anything less than this is reformism in the service of capital. Socialists may disagree about the pace of transition, or the means of enacting revolutionary change - but their ultimate aim must be the end of capitalism" and there you have it, the difference between liberalism and real change....
Steve Krug
A very sophisticated look at the achievements of Britain's post-war labor government, with real implications about how we should look at the achievements of the New Deal. It sees the left and the working class as a powerful and independent force.
David Bacon
FIFA prohibits all political displays in the stadiums and they were told that beforehand--hence the FIFA penalty.  Threatening violence against the Happoel Be'er Sheva fans who needed a police escort to get into the stadium without injury is typical of Football Hooligans (a proud tradition in Scotland when I lived there in the 1970s)--who these days are prone to chanting Antisemitic slogans like "Hiss Hiss, Jews to the Gas."  Presenting this as a progressive action and ignoring this reality is what I expect from Mondoweiss and such like anti-Israel fanatics, but Portside should be a bit more discriminating
Stan Nadel
thanks Glasgow
Rick Rice
August 27, 2016

Uncle Bob Santos on a bullhorn at the July 31 nonviolent protest against hookah bars
Photo by Isaac Liu // The International Examiner
Community leader "Uncle" Bob Santos passed away on the morning of Saturday, August 27. Born and raised in Seattle's International District, Uncle Bob spent most of his life fighting for civil rights and blazing a trail for generations of activists as a mentor, community leader, and organizer. During his time as executive director of Inter*Im from 1972 to 1989, a number of key nonprofit organizations in the Asian Pacific Islander community were born. And through his leadership and legacy, Uncle Bob will forever live on through the activism and vigor of the Asian Pacific Islander community.
"No one has done more to revitalize Seattle's Chinatown/International District and fight for civil rights and social justice than Bob Santos," said OCA Greater Seattle president Jacqueline Wu. "He was an icon who has left an indelible legacy as an effective and respected community leader who persistently fought for decent housing, seniors, children's program and the under-privileged. We will greatly miss his leadership, and will always be grateful and remember his work. Our deepest condolences to the Santos family."
"In remembering Bob, he often times made community work bearable with is jokes, laughter, and his signing," said community activist Frank Irigon, a longtime friend of Santos and OCA board member. "He made activism normal."
Last year, Uncle Bob was featured in the book, The Gang of Four: Four Leaders, Four Communities, One Friendship, which tells the story of four activists and community leaders from four ethnic communities in Seattle: Santos from the Asian Pacific Islander community, Native American Bernie Whitebear, Latino Roberto Maestas, and African American Larry Gossett.
Read more about Uncle Bob's legacy here
On Sunday, September 4th, 2016 at 3:00 PM, the American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark proudly welcomes the general public to a performance of the new Triangle Fire opera with music by Leonard Lehrman and libretto by Ellen Frankel.
This presentation of the Triangle Fire opera will be performed by members of the Metropolitan Philharmonic Chorus and the New Jersey Industrial Union Council (IUC) "Solidarity Singers."
In addition, the Annual Labor Day Parade steps-off at the Museum on Sunday, September 4th, 2916 at 1:30PM. The parade will finish at the Great Falls Historic District in the City of Paterson.
The Botto House National Landmark, home of the American Labor Museum, located at 83 Norwood Street, Haledon, New Jersey, is the 1908 home of immigrants and was the meeting place for over 20,000 silk mill workers during the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike. The Museum offers a free lending library, restored period rooms, changing exhibits, Old World Gardens, educational programs and special events. The Museum's hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9AM-5PM. Tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday from 1-4PM or by appointment. For further information, please visit the Museum's website
Commemorating the 15th Anniversary of 9/11, the panel to discuss how these women's lives have changed post-9/11 and how women are faring in NYC's emergency services
In commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, NYU's Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, in cooperation with the Frederic Ewen Center, will host a roundtable discussion on "Women 9/11 First Responders." 
The event will be held at NYU's Tamiment Library & Wagner Labor Archives on the 10th floor of Bobst Library at 70 Washington Square South on September 13, 2016 from 6-8pm. 
The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP: or call Maria Mejia at 212.998-2635.  For more information, the public should contact Sarah Moazeni, Tamiment Library & Wagner Labor Archives at (212) 998-2639.
The narrative of the national tragedy of 9/11 is often expressed through a gendered lens, with frequent references to "policemen" and "firemen." However, hundreds of women firefighters, police, and emergency medical personnel were among the first responders and three women first responders - PAPD Captain Kathy Mazza, EMT Yamel Merino and NYPD officer Moira Smith -- lost their lives trying to save the lives of others. The women first responders' stories have rarely been told.  Now, fifteen years after 9/11, a panel will discuss how these women's lives have changed and how women are faring in NYC's emergency services.
In conjunction with the panel discussion and the 15th anniversary of 9/11, there will be an exhibit drawn from the "Brenda Berkman Files Regarding September 11, 2001" and the "United Women Firefighters Records and Photographs" Collections from the Wagner Labor Archives, which will be on display until December 16, 2016.
The panel discussion will be moderated by Brenda Berkman, a first responder to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. Berkman was the pioneering firefighter responsible for filing the lawsuit which resulted in the first women being hired by the New York City Fire Department in 1982. . In 2012, she curated and exhibited at the group show "The 9/11 Decade" at Westbeth and her print series "Thirty-six Views of One World Trade Center" will be exhibited at District Council 37's gallery September 12-27, 2016. She retired in 2006 at the rank of Captain.
Mary Carouba, an investigative social worker and co-author of the book, Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion, will join Ms. Berkman on the panel. The discussion will focus on the contributions of women as 9/11 first responders and the ongoing struggle for gender equality within police, fire, and emergency services.
Additional participants will include NYPD Inspector Terri Tobin, EMS Captain Doreen Ascatigno, Firefighter Regina Wilson, the first woman President of the FDNY Vulcan Society, and Firefighter Sarinya Srisakul, President of the United Women Firefighters.  Other women first responders will be part of the Q&A.
[The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University form a unique, internationally-known center for scholarly research on Labor and the Left. Tamiment has one of the finest research collections in the country documenting the history of radical politics: socialism, communism, anarchism, utopian experiments, the cultural left, the New Left, and the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties. It is the repository for the Archives of Irish America, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, the Estela Bravo Archive, and a growing LGBT and Asian American labor collections.
The NYU Division of Libraries is a global system comprising five libraries in Manhattan and one each in Brooklyn, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, receives 2.6 million visits annually. For more information about the NYU Libraries, please visit]
How Can the Sanders' Phenomenon Transform American Politics?
Amid a volatile and unorthodox presidential season, Senator Bernie Sanders' supporters have denounced the outsized political and economic power of the corporate elite, and brought socialism back into consideration, especially among young voters. While this platform energized a broad cross-section of the country, it struggled to earn the broader support - especially among African Americans, Latinos, and organized labor - that an enduring movement would require. What will now be required to maintain the momentum and build a movement of the 99 percent? How do supporters build on the progressive message carried through the Sanders Campaign? What are the new possibilities and challenges? What comes next?
  • Steve Cobble, National Delegate Coordinator for Jesse Jackson for President 1988, political director for the National Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; co-founded Progressive Democrats of America, the organization that started the "draft Bernie" effort and the first national organization to endorse Sanders for President
  • Mark W. Griffith, co-founder and Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center, a New York State Sanders delegate, and long-time community organizer and activist
  • Bob Master, Legislative and Political Director for CWA District One of the Communications Workers of America, co-chair of the New York State Working Families Party, and New Labor Forum author
  • Nina Turner, former Ohio State Senator, a national surrogate for Senator Bernie Sanders, and Chair of Party Engagement at the Ohio Democratic Party
Friday, September 16, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM (EDT)  
The Joseph S. Murphy Institute
25 West 43rd Street 18th floor
New York, NY 10036
The National Federation of Community Broadcasters is speaking out about the fate of one of America's richest, and endangered, audio archives.
NFCB, which represents community radio stations from coast to coast, is addressing the matter of the Pacifica Radio Archives, a collection featuring critical moments in American history, including the Free Speech Movement, desegregation struggles and the arts. The Archives, which lost former director Brian DeShazor amid cuts, faces an uncertain future.
NFCB Chief Executive Officer Sally Kane wrote a letter to Pacifica's board, calling for the Pacifica Radio Archives to be released to an educational institution. Her letter reads, in part:
On Aug. 17, Dr. Josh Shepperd, director of the Library of Congress's Radio Preservation Task Force, wrote publicly about the peril this precious collection faces. The Pacifica Radio Archives contains the largest collection of U.S. movement history. From Civil Rights to protest music, early modern feminism to environmentalism, the Pacifica Radio Archives holds thousands of hours of recordings illuminating our past and present. Moreover, the Pacifica Radio Archives offer a unique and rare snapshot of our collective pain, and our triumph, in a nation that rises to leave behind its darkest past to elect its first African-American president. Such historic magnitude cannot be left to chance, but to intention and action.
You can read the full letter in PDF here.
In addition to offering its support for the transition of the Pacifica Radio Archives, NFCB is encouraging all member stations to express their support for preserving and protecting the archive for the public to the Pacifica National Board. The board can be reached via email at
NFCB, the oldest organization for community radio, represents and provides services to almost 200 community radio stations. NFCB member stations include rural to urban organizations, as well as those affiliated with the Latino Public Radio Consortium. NFCB was recently profiled among organizations bringing diversity to public media.
Save the Date
Please mark your calendars and begin to publicize in your local and among your friends. Please try to get your local to co-sponsor the event.
carry it on
Michael Zweig
President, USLAW-NYC Chapter
Labor, Islam, and War
  • Darakshan Raja - Co-director, Washington (DC) Peace Center
  • Reece Chenault - National Coordinator, U.S. Labor Against the War
Monday October 17, 2016  --  6 p.m.
1199SEIU Auditorium
310 W. 43 St.
Islamaphobia (fear of Islam and Muslim people) is an increasingly powerful and dangerous force coursing through American political and social life. Donald Trump is its most obvious proponent, but his rhetoric has unleashed millions of hateful voices across the country. Murderous acts aimed at Muslims are increasing.
Islamophobia is not just a matter of personal opinion. It has become a structural element of American society that feeds militarism and war as well as violence and oppression here. Long after Donald Trump leaves the scene, we will need to confront and defeat the racist and reactionary force he has helped bring to prominence.   
The labor movement must appreciate the dangers Islamophobia presents and mobilize against it, during this election season and beyond. The Oct 17 forum at 1199SEIU is our opportunity to learn about structural Islamophobia and plan our agenda against it. This is the first of several "Labor, Islam, and War" forums U.S. Labor Against the war will sponsor around the country through May 2017 to build the strongest possible labor campaign against Islamophobia.
Sponsored by: U.S. Labor Against the War - NYC Chapter (list in formation)