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Tidbits – Feb.22, 2024 – Reader Comments: Democrats’ Immigration Policy; Presidential Immunity; Aleksei Navalny; Alabama Decision Weaponizes Religion; More Gun Shootings, Deaths; Artists Call for Ceasefire Now; Paul Robeson New Documentary; More

Reader Comments: Democrats' Immigration Policy; Presidential Immunity !?!; Aleksei Navalny; Alabama Decision Weaponizes Religion; More Gun Shootings, Deaths; Artists Call for Ceasefire Now; Paul Robeson New Documentary; Cartoons; more.....

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Resources, Announcements, AND cartoons - Feb.22, 2024,Portside






Presidential Immunity  --  Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz


Lalo Alcaraz
February 20, 2024

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Re: Democrats Eye New Immigration Strategy After Suozzi Win

This piece, and much of what Portside has been posting lately, is giving the centrists in the Democratic Party too much of a pass on immigrant rights, rather than being the voice of the movement, which is what we need much more.

David Bacon


Suffer the Children  --  Cartoon by Pat Bagley



Pat Bagley
February 15, 2024
The Salt Lake Tribune


Re: Navalny Dies in Prison, Authorities Say − but His Blueprint for Anti-Putin Activism Will Live On

Gee. After reading this and Navalny's/ Meduza visionary testimony, Why would ANYONE not join Blinken, Biden, what's left of Reagan, the Clintons, JPMorgan, Rishi Sunak, and raise the military budgets by the amount truly needed to remove the fascist criminal Putin from Russia and return it to the path laid out by Clinton and the Washington Consensus where, as the lights of paradise approach, the fruits of having US style democratic and republican parties will be manifest.

The US military and state department are indeed looking for people willing to not just talk, but do the deed. Sign up NOW. Agents, spies, advocates, writers, artists, rockers, freedom soldiers are needed. Russia needs our help. Who best to teach and lead them than the US liberals and leftists? We would NEVER start a war! Or seek Domination of a country! But first, the little matter of liberating Ukraine for safe business development, and overthrowing the criminal Putin. Why can't we empty our prisons for anyone willing to join the mission.

(Then we would not have a higher prison pop/citizen than Russia. Tsk Tsk)

Like Navalny says: "You got two legs. Stand up".


Great article.

John Case


Re: The Documentary Aleksei Navalny Knew We’d Watch After His Death

(posting on Portside Culture)

I am disappointed that such a wonderfully progressive, working class media portal would put out such a biased, one-sided analysis of an important issue as Navalny and his death. It comes straight from the NY Times even. Just a minimum of research would reveal that Navalny was likely in the pay of the CIA and Britain's MI6. There are video recordings of his assistant Volkov negotiating with the MI6 representative in Moscow for money to finance them. Listen to this interview with Scott Ritter for some balance. You can be sure that very few Russian people respect Navalny. Most regard him as a traitor. Putin had little reason to worry about him as a rival, since he had less than 1% support among the Russian voters. It seems much more valuable to the West to have Navalny killed during the Munich security conference, where his wife just happened to be in attendance. Please issue a rebuttal of your very one sided report.

Dimitri Devyatkin


Re: The GOP’s Next Target? Prenatal Tests

This is a mental illness among these anti-abortion freaks.  Strangely, they're probably supporting the killing of children in Gaza.  Hateful, mean, mostly white men

Velva Spriggs


Another day another mass shooting  --  Cartoon by Drew Sheneman


According to the Gun Violence Archive, 4,994 people have died from gun violence this year, 3,351 more were injured. There have been 49 mass shootings in 2024. It’s February.

If history is any judge, the mass shooting at the Chiefs victory parade, where 1 is confirmed dead and more than 20 injured (more than half of them children), nothing is going to happen to curb the epidemic of gun violence in America. Nothing of substance happened after Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas or any of the myriad other instances where people were just going about their day learning, shopping, celebrating and were struck down by a bullet.

The reasons are pretty clear. One political party absolutely refuses to consider even common-sense gun reform. Despite the current state of the NRA, decades of lobbying by gun manufacturers and advocates has done its job. Unquestioned fealty to the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment, and an extremely vague interpretation of the term “well regulated,” are a litmus test for any Republican trying to hold elected office.

The Republican Party is perfectly willing to tell you how to live your life, except when it comes to guns. They’re willing to regulate your reproductive healthcare, your child’s school curriculum and even your social media use, but not guns. Any political party that sees books as a bigger threat to children than an assault rifle lost its way long ago, and fosters very little hope of ever finding its way back.

Drew Sheneman
February 16, 2024
The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)


Trump Needs Our Help  --  Cartoon by Clay Jones



Clay Jones
February 18, 2024
@CNNOpinion  newsletter


Damages  --  Cartoon by Rob Rogers


Rob Rogers
February 20, 2024


Re: Charles v. Hamilton, an Apostle of ‘Black Power,’ Dies at 94

Did you knw he coined the term Black Power? It is so fascinating to see the origins of movements from many different perspectives.

Natalie J. Sokoloff, Professor Emerita of Sociology
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
City University of New York


Re: George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ Is a Story of Jazz, Race and the Fraught Notion of America’s Melting Pot

A lot of Eastern European Jewish influences in that piece as well. That opening clarinet, for example.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


When my husband and I heard this black composers Afro-American symphony #1, we thought it was a tribute to Gershwin. Turns out Gershwin had "unconsciously" borrowed from William Still "I Got Rhythm" melody is very clear in the second movement.

Marcy Horner
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Republican Tradition  --  Cartoon by Mike Stanfill


Mike Stanfill
February 16, 2024
Raging Pencils


Court Decision Weaponizes Religion to Take Away Rights


National Council of Jewish Women Calls Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF Ruling an Affront to Religious Freedom

Court Decision Weaponizes Religion to Take Away Rights

February 20, 2024
National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of Jewish Women CEO Sheila Katz released the following statement in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that declared frozen embryos to be children and that the discarding of frozen embryos constitutes the wrongful death of a minor:

“This weekend’s decision from Alabama’s highest court classifying frozen embryos as children is wildly outrageous and sets a harmful precedent that violates separation of church and state and will make it nearly impossible for families in Alabama to access fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

“The court didn’t even try to hide the Christian theology behind their reasoning by referencing God 41 times and repeatedly quoting the Bible in their decision. Make no mistake, this is a clear violation of religious freedom as the Alabama Supreme Court — indeed the Chief Justice — has made clear that it seeks to impose a narrow Christian interpretation of theology on all people in Alabama. Religious freedom exists as a shield to protect religious minorities, and should never be used as a sword to discriminate. Weaponizing a personal religious belief to create law for millions is not just unconscionable, but unconstitutional.

“Jewish tradition does not consider an embryo as having the same legal status as a person, and the most common Jewish interpretation is that life begins at birth. Jews in the United States disproportionately rely on IVF, with 17% of Jewish women utilizing fertility treatments to get pregnant, as compared to 12.5% of the general population. This ruling will cause major pain as it strips away access to crucial scientific advances for Jews, LGBTQ couples, and so many who rely on IVF to start a family.

“Further, this decision creates legal chaos with far reaching consequences on medical providers — leaving fertility clinics unsure if they can provide services in Alabama and those who already have embryos frozen in clinics wondering if they will go to jail if they discard them.

“The people of Alabama deserve better. One-in-six people are affected by infertility.  Barriers to accessing IVF would only compound the lack of health coverage in Alabama, a state with the third highest maternal death rate in the nation. National Council of Jewish Women affirms that people should have full reproductive freedom to decide when and how to build their families — including through IVF. We will pursue all legal options available to our organization and will not stop fighting until everyone can access the health care they need according to their own religious beliefs.”


Artists Call for Ceasefire Now


Dear President Biden,

We come together as artists and advocates, but most importantly as human beings witnessing the devastating loss of lives and unfolding horrors in Israel and Palestine.

We ask that, as President of the United States, you and the US Congress call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel before another life is lost. More than 29,000 people have been killed over the last 4 months, and over 60,000 injured* – numbers that any person of conscience knows are catastrophic. We believe all life is sacred, no matter faith or ethnicity and we condemn the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

We urge your administration, Congress, and all world leaders, to honor all of the lives in the Holy Land and call for and facilitate a ceasefire without delay – an end to the bombing of Gaza, and the safe release of hostages. Half of Gaza’s two million residents are children, and more than two thirds are refugees and their descendants being forced to flee their homes. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach them.

We believe that the United States can play a vital diplomatic role in ending the suffering and we are adding our voices to those from the US Congress, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, The International Committee of The Red Cross, and so many others. Saving lives is a moral imperative. To echo UNICEF, “Compassion — and international law — must prevail.”

Since Oct 7th, more than 45,000* bombs and missiles have been dropped on Gaza - resulting in one child being killed every 10 minutes.

"Children and families in Gaza have practically run out of food, water, electricity, medicine and safe access to hospitals, following days of air strikes and cuts to all supply routes. Gaza’s sole power plant ran out of fuel Wednesday afternoon, shutting down electricity, water and wastewater treatment. Most residents can no longer get drinking water from service providers or household water through pipelines.... The humanitarian situation has reached lethal lows, and yet all reports point to further attacks. Compassion — and international law — must prevail.” – UNICEF spokesperson James Elder

Beyond our pain and mourning for all of the people there and their loved ones around the world we are motivated by an unbending will to stand for our common humanity. We stand for freedom, justice, dignity and peace for all people – and a deep desire to stop more bloodshed.

We refuse to tell future generations the story of our silence, that we stood by and did nothing. As Emergency Relief Chief Martin Griffiths told UN News, “History is watching.”

Supported by Oxfam America & ActionAid USA

*Updated as of 2/20/24 - List in formation - click here


PAUL ROBESON: “I’M A NEGRO. I’M AN AMERICAN.”  --  Free Stream | February 18-25  (DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst)


In celebration of Black History Month and in anticipation of our streaming and upcoming DVD release, we are offering a free one-week preview stream of the documentary PAUL ROBESON: “I’M A NEGRO. I’M AN AMERICAN.” (1989, dir. Kurt Tetzlaff).


A cinematic homage to the Black American singer, actor, civil rights activist Paul Robeson (1898–1976), who, at the peak of his singing career in the late 1940s, became a political activist and as a result endured years of persecution and isolation in his own country during the hysteria of 1950s McCarthyism. Throughout his life, he advocated at home and abroad for freedom of the Black community and all human beings. He had a significant impact on the 1960s US American civil rights movement and the subsequent social changes. Paul Robeson inspires us to use our voices and our social positions to speak up against racism and oppression and in doing so, to strive for a better and more just world.


“This film is a must-watch! It intimately portrays Paul Robeson and allows us to experience him through the eyes of the people who loved him, including the great Harry Belafonte.”   — Kevina King, Howard University

“Kurt Tetzlaff's documentary simultaneously shows us twos side of Paul Robeson. On the one hand is the mythological Robeson; the outstanding artist and activist, whose leftist politics and solidarity with people around the globe so perfectly fit the GDR's ideal of crossracial alliance. On the other hand, there is Robeson the man, someone who felt betrayed by his country after he was banned from travel and performance due to his Communist sensibilities. Robeson spent his lifetime proving his worth, reciting Shakespeare, singing opera and fighting for the rights of the oppressed. But more often than not, even his white allies saw him only as a token - someone they wanted to perform a certain myth of Blackness they held dear. These expectations were arguably as restraining to Robeson as the bans on his travel and work. Tetzlaff's documentary honors Robeson, while also giving voice to his pain, in part by allowing those who knew him well express the hardships he didn't always share with the world. And thus, as a documentary about the complicated entanglement of politics, art and freedom, it offers a sorely needed perspective in our current political climate.”   — Priscilla Layne (U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"Paul Robeson was indeed an unsurpassed legend in American music, and Tetzlaff's film reminds us he was a legend, too, for the global left. Thanks to extended musical sequences and exclusive interviews with other legends such as Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte, Tetzlaff portrays Robeson as the key linchpin between the American civil rights movement and the communist publics of the Eastern bloc."   — Evan Torner, U of Cincinnati

"From any perspective, the film stands as an elegant, revealing, and powerful portrait of a towering figure in American culture, society, and politics. Revisiting episodes in Robeson’s life, drawing attention to his performances and writings, and confronting the virulent racism and anti-communism he faced in the U.S., Paul Robeson: "I'm A Negro. I'm an American." documents the life of a groundbreaking artist whose courage, tenacity, and passion remain profoundly inspiring."   — Anthology Film Archives, New York, 2023

"A tribute to an entertainment titan."   — The New York Times, 2023

The DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, founded by Professor Barton Byg in 1993, is the only archive and research center outside of Germany devoted to a broad spectrum of filmmaking from and related to the former GDR. It houses an extensive collection of 35- and 16mm prints, DVDs, books, periodicals and articles. Students are involved in all aspects of the Library’s research, outreach and teaching activities and also gain valuable experience in subtitling and library, conference and arts management.

The DEFA Film Library makes films available to a wide public in the USA and Canada through: touring film series; the rental of 35- and 16mm films from our collection, in cooperation with a wide range of partners; and the production and distribution of films on DVD with English subtitles and extensive bonus materials by experts in the field.

502 Herter Hall
University of Massachusetts
161 Presidents Drive
Amherst, MA 01003-9312

Tel: 413-545-6681
Fax: 413-577-3808


Virtual Book Talk: Public Workers in Service of America  --  February 28  (The Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University)


Join Frederick Gooding and Eric S Yellin along with a panel of contributors for a virtual lunchtime discussion on public workers
February 28th at 12:00 pm EST

Moderated by The Kalmanovitz Initiative's Joseph McCartin 

"From white-collar executives to mail carriers, public workers meet the needs of the entire nation. Frederick W. Gooding Jr. and Eric S. Yellin edit a collection of new research on this understudied workforce"

RSVP on Zoom
Purchase from University of Illinois Press

Reach out to with any questions.

Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
at Georgetown University  
209 Maguire Hall
Georgetown University 37th and O Streets NW
Washington, DC 20057


Book launch for Lawrence Hamm: A Life In The Struggle  --  Newark  -- March 9  (Newark Public Library)



Book launch for Lawrence Hamm: A Life In The Struggle by Lawrence Hamm with Annette Alston 

Saturday, March 9, 2024, 3:00pm

Newark Public Library, 5 Washington Street in Newark, NJ.