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Tidbits - September 14, 2017 - Reader Comments: Environmental Racism; Puerto Rico; DREAMers; What to Do When White Supremacists March; Support NFL Players; Hillary Book Debate; Myanmar; Vietnam; Life After the Soviet Union; Austria Update; Announcements;

Reader Comments: Environmental Racism; Puerto Rico Hit by Irma, Hedge Funds; Defend DREAMers; What to Do When White Supremacists March; Support NFL Players Who Kneel; Hillary Book Debate; Myanmar; Vietnam; Life After the Soviet Union; Maine Indian children; Austrian Political Update; Syria to Buy Iranian Power Generators for Aleppo; Announcements; and more...

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Resources, Announcements and Shorts - September 14, 2017,Portside
Have you been following the clear, well thought out environmental reporting by Sharon Lerner? Conveying complex subjects in ways we can understand them is both gift and craft, on display here in her powerful, timely take on toxins in Texas, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the huge sway of the fossil-fuel and allied chemical industries. Thanks to Portside for the link
Daniel Millstone
Only 10 percent of customers are without power in 6/7 days and Puerto Rican's have been the first responders in the emergency aid to the catastrophic of Irma's direct hit in nearby islands. Get your story up to date and maybe, just maybe, will see how we have and are taking care of our own and our neighbors, besides having an imposed fiscal junta from Congress which only efforts have been to paid the vouchers, not audited, illegal debt!
Juan Carlos Sifre
This is a beautiful article. The one thing missing is internationalism and the desire for peace. But MLK made those connections between racism, working class issues and peace. And they are still connected.
Sonia Collins
It's not just kids. Many of these people are married and have kids and wives. Some have businesses and employ others. Hundreds have served or will serve in the military.
David Denson
He's obsessed with undoing everything Obama signed and created. He could care less about helping Americans. His main goal is to erase Obama's legacy off the map.
Juanita Torres La Bori
On Sept 9th, once again,  ,000 DACA demonstrators flooded  New York City’s Columbus Circle across from Trump’s International Hotel.
Photo by Bud Korotzer // Desertpeace
Former Boy Scouts will know the last line he couldn't utter was "morally straight."
William Leffingwell
It’s the start of a new NFL season...and with it comes the news that one of the lead national anthem protesters, Seattle Seahawk star Michael Bennett, survived a terrifying assault by Las Vegas police. And despite Michael Bennett serving as living proof of the daily terror and violence Black people face in this county the player who started this protest movement, Colin Kaepernick, is still being blackballed by the NFL.
But players and fans are taking note and taking action. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen more than 1,000 people show up at NFL headquarters in support of Kaepernick, the number of NFL players joining the protest grow to over 50, and some of the most elite quarterbacks in the game support Kaepernick.
It’s clear that we are witnessing the dawn of a new era of athlete activism and we should all support it and be a part of it. Which is why we are calling on you to join in growing this protest. Tonight, at the start of the Monday Night Football game, whether you’re at home with family, at work, or in a bar with friends, you have the power to spread this protest and support these athletes.
Join the anthem protesters by sharing a photo of yourself on Facebook or Twitter kneeling during the national anthem with the hashtags #MNF and #IStandWithKap.
Here is the Petition:
Join the anthem protesters by sharing a photo of yourself on Facebook or Twitter kneeling during the national anthem with the hashtags #MNF and #IStandWithKap.
Sign here.  
The most important thing you can do is support your local ANTIFA instead of jumping on the bandwagon of the radical, militant centrists who want you to believe that you are what you punch.
Joe Elegua
I absolutely love this idea I read about, and really wish it would be used here.
Peaceful for us, demeaning for them, and makes money for good causes. 
Chris Neeley
Photo credit: Jews For Racial & Economic Justice
A very good summary of the progress of the anti-Trump resistance since his election and path forward to defeat the racist right wing, ruling class offensive currently underway.
John Jernegan
(posting on Portside Labor)
I certainly wouldn't vote to support the welfare queen corporations. They took the money, let them pay it back.
Donna Shumaker
They want to be slave owners again.
Duke Spaulding
These slobs want to create an impoverished working class to enhance their own wealth.
Ted Roberts
They are going after the folks who gave us the weekend.
Jenny Kastner
For the record, the asteroid strike didn’t create the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf was already there and the asteroid landed on the Gulf beach of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Now consider how narrow the isthmus is there, between the Gulf and the Pacific Ocean, and how fast the earth spins, ever eastward. Had the strike taken place in either body of water, there wouldn’t have been the immense amount of dust raised that caused the long long winter that killed off the dinosaurs (except for the ancestor(s) of the birds).
Quoting Paul Braterman:
“And if the meteorite had arrived ten minutes earlier, or ten minutes later, it would still no doubt have inflicted devastation, but the dinosaurs would still be here and you wouldn't.”
Chance really does play a part in the origin of species.
Ted Cloak
she is the one complaining. and complaining and complaining. a whole book of complaints.
Gwendolyn Ivey
11th commandment.......THOU SHALT NOT WHINE.
Gary Hicks
Ok you can kick me but I like this woman. This interview shows just how intelligent, thoughtful and, yes, principled she is. I don't have to agree with every one of her view to feel this way very strongly. She is so right on so many really big issues, including racism.
Hillary Clinton speaks - listen here

Susan Vago Webb
Hillary and her friends lost the House, the Senate, the presidency and dozens of state legislatures and governorships. So let's do it their way!!
Richard Cole
Can we get over it and figure out how to get the GOP out of state government and federal government!
Naomi Lockwood
Because she doesn't want to talk about the obvious ... Why she didn't simply put him on the ticket ... Somebody knows and someday they're gonna tell the story ... it always comes out eventually
Julie Cochran
Because Bernie is going to win.
Paul Richards
She kicked the asses of two old white men by a combined total of 7 million votes. Sit down and stfu.
Kathy McGrath
I am horrified by this news. How can anyone claiming to be a progressive of any kind possibly ignore the oppression of a population by a racist apartheid government?  Where can we turn, when these people from our own parties show their ugliness?
Judith Ackerman
Always a dubious hero, beloved by the North Atlantic powers and Eurocentric human rights champions and her Anglo British husband. But, it's not only the cult around Aung San Suu Kyi, which is real, but also the cult in the West around Buddhism itself; this same problem in the early 1980s gaining any support for the minority (Christian, Hindu, Muslim mixed)Tamil community when the Sinhalese (Buddhist) majority government in Sri Lanka incited mass riots and slaughter of the Tamils
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
read article here:
There are so many appalling factors combining together in the racial religious war conducted by Myanmar's rulers. Is the silence of Ang San Suu Kyi crucial? Is she, in effect, a prisoner still of the military? Thanks to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for the link. Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.
Daniel Millstone
Attached are two links to fine pieces – with excellent photography – on the state-induced challenges that have plagued Maine Indian families and their children.
But first, a word on Massachusetts.  In the latter 19th century, many Native people from Maine and the Maritime provinces began going “down to Boston” in search of work.  Almost all kept in contact with their back-home Native tribes and communities, often made visits thereto, and usually returned home for good at some point.
Early on, Massachusetts began seizing Native children on grounds of “welfare.” The basis for these actions were generally skimpy, even frivolous or non-existent.  (This was common practice around the country.)  Several years before the 1978 passage of the National Indian Child Welfare Act, the Maine tribes and Massachusetts made a compact requiring Massachusetts to notify the tribes in case of seizures of children and, in almost all cases, return them to their families or tribes.  This worked to some extent but problems continued via resistance (or sometimes ignorance) by state and county authorities.
The National Indian Child Welfare Act, 1978 has been a significant step forward.  As I noted in an essay several years ago, ICWA, “though often under attack right to the present, has pretty successfully implemented its mandate of -- should a transfer from natural parents be genuinely necessary -- placing the child in its extended family as first choice, or in a family setting within its tribe, or at least with another Native family of another tribe."  In most of these cases, matters wind up in tribal court, where such exist, or in civil court in those rather rare instances where there are no tribal courts.
But problems have definitely continued. States and counties have often resisted or simply ignored ICWA.  (I was involved in several significant and successful fights with county welfare outfits in North Dakota around these issues.)
Maine has certainly been no beacon of light on this – or in other matters involving Indian people.  Its history is bad.
And again, these two first rate pieces tell much of that story – often in the eloquent words of the Natives involved -- but also speak substantively of the good work being done on this most significant front by the Indians of Maine and their committed allies.
Yours,  Hunter Gray (Hunter Bear)
Wabanaki (Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, St. Francis Abenaki),
St. Regis Mohawk.
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari' . Check out our massive social justice website:
Member, National Writers Union AFL-CIO
(posting on Portside Labor)
It is great that workers in Vietnam can wildcat strike as necessary and aren't hampered by anti-strike laws like we are in the US. The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, the Government in Vietnam and their Party respect the working class and when the workers walk out the respective organizations step forward on the side of the working people to build power to move toward resolution very quickly - on the side of the workers - achieving results and not piddling around. (Most politicians in the US won't be caught dead supporting  unauthorized striking workers if they can help it.) The Vietnamese leadership understands that the working class of Vietnam whose organized strength was the power victorious in the fight against colonialism will not accept wage slavery and may not and will not be forced to work for unscrupulous employers who will and do mistreat workers. 
Where we have unions in the US workers do have recourse through collective bargaining agreements and due process, grievance procedures, to attempt to resolve issues but our unorganized non-union workers lack due process for dispute resolution and because the laws so favor business wildcat strikes are very rare.  Even where we have unions the laws are designed to keep people on the job  and go through a lot of  hoops before a strike can be "legally" held.
Law in the US is organized on the assumption that property rights are greater than human rights and businesses from mom and pops to mega-corporations  have the power to make their own decisions *unless there is a union*.  While we rail a lot about democracy in the US we in fact have little democracy in the work place -- ownership rules: money talks and workers walk.  We will have to rebuild our union movement outside the "labor laws" that favor the moneyed interests and use worker power with walk outs, wild cats, like our grand parents did in the 30's and 40's.  Our "capital" is our labor and we have a right to collectively strengthen our fight for justice and an adequate standard of living through joint action.
Hollis Stewart
With an evolving economy still committed to building sustainable socialism, Vietnamese workers not only have a recognized voice and vote and role in government, trade unions, a political party and allies in various people's organizations, they also have the support of government 99% of the time when they strike, even wildcat strikes. Check out VN's labor law as well -- way easier to organize in the workplace! We got a lot to learn from our Vietnamese union sisters and brothers!
Leanna Noble
"Although the so-called end of the Cold War was expected to make a nuclear-weapons-free world achievable, the latest conflict with North Korea has only heightened the risk of nuclear war. Today, the danger isn’t history repeating itself with another Cold War; rather it is American complacency at having “won” the Cold War. The Soviet Union is long gone, but increasing conflicts with Russia and China prompted Barack Obama—the first American president to pledge nuclear disarmament—to renege on his promise and commit a projected $1 trillion over three decades toward revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons. This isn’t simply a return to a Cold War-era arms race. The Cold War never ended nor did it maintain peace. The Cold War was never “cold” for those who experienced the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the many other conflicts around the world, especially in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In the Third World, the Cold War was fought in actual combat with millions of lost lives, the vast majority civilian. And the Cold War has yet to end in Korea. Today, August 15, is the anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial occupation, but also its simultaneous division. The Korean peninsula has remained divided since the Americans and the Soviets partitioned it in 1945 with almost 30,000 American troops still stationed in South Korea."
Larry Aaronson
"According to a comprehensive poll conducted by leading polling organization Gallup in 2013, “residents of [11 of the 15] former Soviet republics are more than twice as likely to say the breakup hurt (51 percent) than benefited their countries (24 percent).” Think about that statistic for a moment: twice as many residents of the former Soviet republics think the breakup of the Soviet Union did more harm than good. That is a rather devastating indictment of the supposed era of freedom and prosperity that the likes of Reagan & Co. promised in the years leading up to the breakup."
Parson Stewart
rear view mirror socialism
John Case
This article paints a pretty rosy picture of life in the USSR before it broke up. I stayed with people in their homes in Moscow and then Leningrad in 1989. I was part of an independent citizen exchange mission called the Soviet - American Sail 1989
My observation was that the "security" that the USSR system offered as cited in this article was really practically non-existent. While health care may have been free and universal- it could not serve the population. There were no materials in the clinics, and waiting times for seeing a doctor was weeks. or months. The guaranteed income was marginal and could not support the basic needs of an individual. As one of my hosts told me- " We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us" Most people were living off of a second economy- my host sewed clothing for outdoor use. His buddy machined climbing gear out of titanium that was supposed to be used in submarines. The buildings were all crumbling because the best materials were shunted away into this ( capitalistic) black market economy. 
When I was there, supply of everything was a huge problem. For example, there was available two condoms per person per year People kept their windshield wiper blades inside the car, because you could not get new ones. When it started to rain , all traffic would stop until everyone installed their wipers! I went into a local store with my host- there was very little food, but a huge stack of paint thinner sitting in a pile there. 
I think that my point is that life was a nightmare for most before the breakup, and that only those with connections had an advantage. It is the same today. In general, the nostalgic yearnings for the communist old days has been created by the same forces that usurped the communist revolution in the first place: Greed by those who have the power and want to keep the wealth for themselves.
Joshua Gordon
It has been a long time since I last filled you in and a lot has happened to shake up the political landscape here. We now have an election scheduled for mid-October and the prognoses look very different from when I last wrote about this.  The key to all of this was a putsch in the conservative ÖVP Austrian Peoples’ Party.  For months the very young (age 31) ÖVP foreign minister Sebastian Kurz had been maneuvering to replace vice-chancellor Michael Spindelegger before the next election.  In May Spindelegger got fed up with the impression that he was just a place holder for Kurz and quit his party and government positions.  Kurz then took over as party leader and immediately withdrew from the coalition, forcing an early election.
Kurz is young and good looking and very successful rhetorically.  He also moved to take over a lot of the far right-wing Austrian Freedom Party’s anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rhetoric and policies.  That has given a lot of Austrians a more respectable outlet for these politics and led to a major shift in the election prospects of the different parties.  The Socialist Party's (SPÖ) support declined a bit from 28% before the ÖVP putsch to 26% this week, but the ÖVP’s support has jumped from 20% to 33% giving them a big lead while the Freedom Party’s has dropped from 35% down to 23%. Kurz claims to have transformed the ÖVP (he even changed its name to List Kurz and its official color from black to turquoise), but except for the more viciously anti-immigrant rhetoric the party platform is largely unchanged and his speeches and interviews are full of slogans and hot air, but little substance--they are based on impossible numbers that don’t add up regarding proposed tax cuts (mostly for the rich) to be balanced by cuts in social services and administration. He hasn’t made any commitments regarding a post-election coalition should he come in 1st, but the chances of a renewed coalition with the Social Democrats are close to nil—leaving a coalition with the far right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) as his most likely option.
The Austrian Freedom Party has lost its momentum from nearly winning the Presidency last year and talk of them taking the lead in a new government coalition has vanished.  Their long term leader HC Strache has tried to present a moderate image, party officials caught making openly anti-Semitic statements have been pushed into the background (though not expelled, just given less visible posts) and Strache’s public appearances have been less aggressive than in the past as he tries to look statesmanlike—or at least like less of a demagogue.  The Freedom Party has also adopted a new economic platform—one that abandons the interests of its largely working class base and adopted a neo-liberal line that fits with that of the ÖVP. In other word the “social homeland party" (as in National Socialist) has become less social in order to make itself more appealing as a coalition partner with the ÖVP. The FPÖ has become the party of the Austrian working class lately, but we will see if the new FPÖ economic program might shift some former Socialist Party voters back to the SPÖ.
The Social Democrats are holding to most of their traditional welfare state politics and their current leader, Chancellor Christian Kern, is much more impressive than his rivals in actually answering questions about his program plans rather than evading them (but it doesn’t seem to be helping him any more than Hilary’s actual program did her). The press, including the parts traditionally favorable to the SPÖ, seems to be producing mostly anti-SPÖ material.  Kern and the SPÖ have moved to the right on refugees and immigrants in a concession to the popularity of these themes with the voters, especially former SPÖ voters who have gone over in large numbers to the FPÖ.  The right wing of the party is even looking at the possibility of replacing Kern after the election with their hard line defense minister (a former cop) and then forming a coalition with the Freedom Party—something which Kern and Strache have more or less excluded.  That outcome if carried through to a coalition with the Freedom Party would be a reversal of the 2000 election when the SPÖ came in 1st, but the ÖVP and the Freedom Party cut a deal to form a right wing governing coalition government of the 2 less successful parties.
All in all, an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition is the most likely outcome, with an SPÖ-Freedom Party coalition possible, but far less likely.  Either outcome would move Austria far to the right politically.
In the meantime, the air seems to have been sucked out of the smaller parties.  The Greens, who managed to get their former leader elected President last year when he and the FPÖ candidate were the ones who made it into the run-off rounds, have fallen into disarray. First the Green party leader quit politics suddenly this Spring after having taken years of abuse. Then the party congress dumped their leading parliamentary investigator Peter Piltz (who has uncovered numerous scandals) from his high position on their electoral list (which would have guaranteed him re-election to Parliament).  Outraged at his demotion, Piltz quit the party and has organized his own electoral list. This has divided the Greens’ core supporters.  The Greens and the new List Peter Piltz could now both fail to get the 4% needed to get into the next parliament—though at the moment the splinter List Pilz looks like it will clear the hurdle with 6% and the Greens will squeak through with 4%.
There is also the small liberal party, the Neos, which look like it will also make it into the parliament with 6%.  The Communists, now joined by the former Young Greens (who were expelled from the party earlier this year) may up their vote to 1.5%--they have been very successful in past elections in the city of Graz and are popular there, but they have little support in the rest of Austria.  There are also a some other minor parties (left, right center and loony) who have made it onto the ballot nationwide or in just one or more States, but they will also fail to make it into the parliament.
Stan Nadel, 
Salzburg Austria
RT, Sept 12, 2017

FILE PHOTO: People walk along a damaged neighbourhood in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria March 6, 2017.
Photo creditL Khalil Ashawi / Reuters // RT 
Syria has signed a contract to buy Iranian power generation equipment for the country’s war-torn city of Aleppo, according to Syrian state news agency.
The agreement was reportedly signed by Iran’s state-run Mabna company during a visit to Tehran by the Syrian Electricity Minister Zuhair Kharboutli.
The deal is valued at €130 million and aims to provide 125 megawatts of electricity to the biggest city in Syria.
The minister also signed memorandums of understanding to import five generators for the coastal region of Latakia and restore the electrical infrastructure nationwide.
The new plant will reportedly generate 540 megawatts.
Earlier this week, the ministry said Syria and Iran would cooperate in renewable solar and wind energy.
Michael Munk
Monday, September 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall
55 West 13th Street - Room I-202
New York, NY 10011
The Robert Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies invites you to participate in a conversation between Nancy Maclean, author of the new book “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America”, and New School Historical Studies faculty. This panel discussion will take place on September 18th, 2017, at 6:00 PM, at the Theresa Lang Center, 55 W. 13th Street. 
Democracy in Chains” blows open the doors to the unknown history of the relentless campaign by the radical rich to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize everything from schools to Medicare and Social Security, and change the Constitution. MacLean traces this game plan back to one man, the Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan, who forged his ideas in an attempt to preserve the white elite’s power in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. The book also tells the story of the Koch brothers, following how their fortune has shaped the contemporary American right-wing. Maclean's book has drawn both high praise and deep criticism from a variety of writers and thinkers from across the ideological spectrum. Despite the immense controversy, the book is well on its way to becoming a center piece for our understanding of contemporary American political life.   
NANCY MACLEAN is the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry (a New York Times book of the year) and Freedom is Not Enough, which was called by the Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best”‘; The William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, she lives in Durham, North Carolina.
JFREJ will be hosting a special event next Tuesday, September 19th as part of our Rise Up & Be Counted campaign, and we would love to see you there! 
We will be hearing a report-back from members of our community who were in Charlottesville last month, confronting white supremacist terrorism. Our guests Rabbi Lizz Goldstein (member of T'ruah) and Carmen Dixon (NAACP LDF, Black Lives Matter NYC) will be talking about their respective experiences in Charlottesville and sharing their courage and vision with us. We'll also do outreach together to grow our community and build our power in response to the critical threats that we are collectively facing in this moment.
As we approach Rosh Hashanah and the new year ahead, we want to ground ourselves in truth and community. We hope you'll join us:
Rise Up & Be Counted: Charlottesville Report-Back & Outreach Night
Tuesday Sept. 19th, 7:00 PM–9:00 PM
370 7th Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY
You can share the Facebook event to invite your friends. Additionally, if you haven't yet participated in the Rise Up & Be Counted membership campaign, you can commit to joining the campaign and /learn how to get involved here
I look forward to seeing you Tuesday night!
Leo Ferguson
Movement Building Organizer, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
PS: Check out this upcoming concert to benefit our partners at the ACLU/NYCLU, co-sponsored by JFREJ! Performers will include the 10-piece supergroup Abraham Inc. (featuring David Krakauer, Fred Wesley and Socalled), Members of the Silk Road Ensemble, Marc Ribot, Where Worlds Collide (featuring South African pianists Kathleen Tagg and Andre Petersen), and Frank London of the Klezmatics.
Buy your tickets here, and use the promo code: JFREJ to get a special discount!
Jews For Racial & Economic Justice
330 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1901
New York, NY 10001