Sunday, May 29, 2016

WikiLeaks Says Secretive Trade Agreement Paves Way to 'Corporatization of Public Services'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (photo: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (photo: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)

WikiLeaks Says Secretive Trade Agreement Paves Way to 'Corporatization of Public Services'

By John Dyer, VICE
28 May 16

   WikiLeaks has released a thousands of documents that critics of free trade said shows how officials negotiating the Trade in Services Agreement, or TiSA, could force privatization on public institutions around the world.

   The most surprising revelations in the WikiLeaks documents released this week involve state-owned enterprises, or SOEs — government-owned corporations that often operate like private businesses but pursue public goals, experts said.

   The United States Postal Service might be considered a SOE. The service has a monopoly on snail mail. But it also competes against private companies by selling money orders, retail merchandise and express deliveries. When the postal service needs more money, it raises the price of stamps and other products or, when times are desperate, goes hat in hand to Congress.

   WikiLeaks and others claim that negotiators from the United States and 22 other countries want to erode SOEs to clear the way for multinational corporations to take over their functions. TiSA would seek to lower trade barriers for finance, telecommunications and other service industries. It would cover around 75 percent of the world's $44 trillion services market, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

    "This corporatization of public services — to nearly the same extent as demanded by the recently signed TPP — is a next step to privatization of SOEs on the neoliberal agenda behind the 'Big Three,'" said a WikiLeaks statement.

    The "Big Three" referred to TiSA, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a deal that the US and 11 other governments have finished negotiating but not yet ratified, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. American and European diplomats are now negotiating the TTIP. European trade officials have said they would like to conclude TiSA talks by the end of the year.

    Defenders of the trade agreement said TiSA critics were crying wolf. Nobody expects the pact to abolish Britain's National Health Service, for example, said Claude Barfield, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former consultant to the US Trade Representative under President Ronald Reagan. Instead, TiSA would prevent governments giving favorable treatment to state-owned enterprises at the expense of foreign competitors.

   "There will continue to be SOEs, but it's just the biases and special deals they get from governments will be, if not ended — that's probably not possible —at least curtailed a great deal," Barfield said. "Treat SOEs the same way you treat private corporations."
The US Postal Service, for example, would need under TiSA to behave according to the same rules as German courier service DHL when shipping express mail, a function that's outside its normal 'public service' duties of delivering regular mail and parcels, according to the internal documents WikiLeaks claims to have obtained. It couldn't depend on Congressional handouts, in other words.

   "Each Party shall ensure that any state-owned enterprise that it establishes or maintains, when engaging in commercial activities... acts in accordance with commercial considerations in its purchase or supply of services, and in its sale of goods," the WikiLeaks documents said.

   Those rules would especially impact China, where the communist state controls much of the economy via state-owned businesses. Echoing arguments in favor of the TPP — which does not include China — Barfield said nailing down TiSA now would help set ground rules for when China also joined the accord. "When you are talking about SOEs, China is the big elephant in the room," he said.

   Celeste Drake, a trade and globalization policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, agreed. She was skeptical of the deal but saw merits in the TiSA's proposals.

    "We want trading rules that set up a level playing field," Drake said, adding that the AFL-CIO hadn't yet taken an official position on the deal. "It's not level if one country is providing subsidies to allegedly 'private enterprises' that other countries are not providing because it is against the rules. That's one of the threats from China: that it is using public monies to subsidize state-controlled businesses so they can behave in a predatory manner and destroy US jobs."

   US trade officials declined to comment on or confirm the authenticity of the WikiLeaks disclosures.

   But TiSA critics said the deal wasn't as straightforward as its supporters suggested.
"We know trade theory predicted that there would be greater economic activity if trade barriers were lifted on commodities and manufacturing," said Mark Langevin, subregional secretary of Public Services International, a coalition of labor unions. "That's generally our experience. Some people benefit from that. Some don't. Trade theory has not really been tested out on services. The advocates of TiSA are guessing."

   WikiLeaks dropped internal documents passed around by TiSA negotiators in 2014 and 2015, too. They and the most recent leaks contain provisions that have concerned Langevin and others.

   The deal could bar signatories from establishing new significant state-owned enterprises because in theory they might impinge on foreign competition, experts said.

   "If TiSA had existed prior to the establishment of the National Health System in the UK, then it would not have been able to exist," said Deborah James, director of international programs at the Center for Economic Policy Research. "I can't imagine how we could be able to have a single-payer health system here. There would never be change in a way that would disadvantage a foreign company. This is their intention."

   The deal also would bar government entities from undoing privatization.

  "Pearson sells a lot of educational services around the world to public school authorities," said Langevin, referring to the British multinational that makes textbooks and other learning materials. "What happens when a public school authority says 'We aren't going to buy these texts anymore? We are going to make our own.' Under this, they would be sued."

   The WikiLeaks document said TiSA would exempt schools, water utilities, and similar public sector businesses. Countries could exempt specific sectors, too, like businesses that operate on Native American reservations in the US.

   But it's not easy to separate, say, government-owned mass transit's responsibilities to the community from other, purely moneymaking functions, said Jane Kelsey, a law professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where officials privatized and then renationalized their railroad, ferries, and national airline in the past 15 years after private companies let those networks fall into disrepair.

   "Attempts to carve out the 'public good' functions is... extremely difficult in a practical sense," she said in an e-mail. Kelsey wrote an analysis for WikiLeaks documents that accompanied the group's release of the documents.

    Barfield believed profit-seeking managers would always run businesses better than bureaucrats or government-appointed executives. He admitted, though, that big state-owned corporations couldn't be privatized overnight.

    "A lot of the inefficient SOEs in China employ hundreds of thousands of workers," he said. "If you are going to cut them down to size you need to do that gradually. You cannot dump these workers out on the streets."

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Operation Condor: A US Program of Cross-Border Disappearance and Death


Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet reviews troops as he enters La Moneda Palace in the capital Santiago. (photo: Reuters)
Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet reviews troops as he enters La Moneda Palace in the capital Santiago. (photo: Reuters)

Operation Condor: A US Program of Cross-Border Disappearance and Death

By J. Patrice McSherry, teleSUR
28 May 16

 Operation Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships.

  Operation Condor was a covert, multinational “black operations” program organized by six Latin American states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru), with logistical, financial, and intelligence support from Washington.

   In the Cold War climate of the 1960s and ’70s, when U.S. leaders and Latin American militaries regarded popular movements and political dissidents as “internal enemies,” any methods were considered legitimate in the “war against subversion.” In fact, many of these new social movements were indigenous nationalist, leftist, socialist, or radically democratic forces fighting to represent the voiceless and the marginalized.
As leftist and nationalist leaders won elections throughout Latin America in the 1960s and early 1970s, and new revolutionary and progressive movements gained strength, U.S. security strategists feared a communist-inspired threat to U.S. economic and political interests in the hemisphere. Local elites similarly feared that their traditional political dominance and wealth were at risk. Washington poured enormous resources into the inter-American security system, of which Condor was a top-secret part, to mobilize and unify the militaries in order to prevent leftist leaders from taking power and to control and destroy leftist and popular movements in Latin America. Anticommunism and “preventing another Cuba” were the national security priorities of the U.S. in Latin America.

     The reigning national security doctrine incorporated counterinsurgency strategies and concepts such as “hunter-killer” programs and secret, “unconventional” techniques such as subversion, sabotage, and terrorism to defeat foes. Much of counterinsurgency doctrine is classified, but scholars have documented many of its key components. Michael McClintock, for example, analyzed a classified U.S. Army Special Forces manual of December 1960 Counter-Insurgency Operations, one of the earliest to mention explicitly, in its section "Terror Operations," the use of counterinsurgent terror as a legitimate tactic. He cites other secret U.S. army special operations handbooks from the 1960s that endorsed "counterterror," including assassination and abduction, in certain situations. One March 1961 article in Military Review stated, "Political warfare, in short, is warfare. . .[that] embraces diverse forms of coercion and violence including strikes and riots, economic sanctions, subsidies for guerrilla or proxy warfare and, when necessary, kidnapping or assassination of enemy elites.” In short, “disappearance” was a key element of counterinsurgency doctrine.

    Operation Condor was a multinational system to specifically target exiles who had escaped the wave of military coups and dictatorships in their own countries. Thousands of Argentines, Uruguayans, and Brazilians fled to Chile in the early 1970s when the progressive Unidad Popular government was in power. After the September 1973 CIA-backed coup against President Salvador Allende, thousands escaped to Argentina. Operation Condor focused on these people — many of whom were under United Nations protection — using covert, cross-border abduction-disappearance, “rendition” to other countries, torture, and extrajudicial execution.

    Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships, as well as guerrillas or armed insurgents (all of whom were entitled to due process and freedom from torture). Exiles were considered dangerous enemies by the regimes because of their powerful influence in the developing global human rights movement. The Chilean exiles, for instance — some 200,000 Chileans were forced out of the country in the first years after the coup — were pioneers in organizing solidarity and anti-dictatorship groups worldwide, providing information to the U.N. and human rights groups, and transmitting through their music and art the hopes and promise of the Unidad Popular.
(photo: teleSUR)

     Under a top-secret agreement known as “Phase III” Condor also assassinated, or attempted to assassinate, key political opposition leaders exiled in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Special teams of assassins from member countries were formed to travel worldwide to eliminate “subversive enemies”— political leaders who could organize and lead pro-democracy movements against the military regimes. One Condor assassination targeted former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, a prominent critic of the Pinochet regime. He and his U.S. colleague Ronni Moffitt were murdered in a 1976 car bombing in Washington, D.C. Other targets included constitutionalist Chilean general Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofía Cuthbert, assassinated in Buenos Aires (1974), and two Uruguayan legislators and opponents of the Uruguayan military regime, Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, disappeared, tortured, and killed in Buenos Aires (1976). Washington and its Latin American allies feared elected leftist leaders as much, if not more, than revolutionary guerrillas in the region, as the plots against Presidents Goulart of Brazil and Allende, among others, demonstrated.

    In 1973 or early 1974, before the Condor apparatus acquired its code name and formal structure, the counterinsurgents created the prototype of Condor. A February 1974 meeting took place in Buenos Aires to plan deeper collaboration of the police of six South American states. Between 1973 and 1975 cross-border disappearances and forcible, extralegal transfers of exiles (“renditions”) by multinational Condor squadrons intensified under an unwritten agreement enabling the associated militaries to pursue individuals who had fled to neighboring countries. This was the essence of Condor, as yet unnamed.
Chilean colonel Manuel Contreras, head of the fearsome Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), was a key Condor organizer. He called for a founding meeting in Santiago to institutionalize the Condor prototype in 1975. In 2000, the CIA acknowledged that Contreras had been paid by the CIA between 1974 and 1977, a period when the Condor network was planning and carrying out assassinations in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

    In 1974 a Uruguayan abduction-disappearance squadron took up residence in Buenos Aires and worked with its Argentine and Chilean counterparts to “disappear,” torture, interrogate, and illegally transfer exiles. Selected Uruguayan navy units began to coordinate secret repressive actions with personnel from the notorious Argentine Navy Mechanics School (ESMA) in 1974, and an ESMA delegation traveled to Uruguay that year to train officers in torture techniques in counterinsurgency courses. In an emblematic case, Uruguayan exile Antonio Viana was kidnapped from his home in Buenos Aires by a joint Argentine-Uruguayan squad, taken to the federal police headquarters, and tortured by Uruguayan officers he recognized. Viana soon realized that the squad included officers from the Argentine Federal Police and the Uruguayan Organismo Coordinador de Operaciones Antisubversivas (OCOA) and Dirección Nacional de Información e Inteligencia (DNII). In the Argentine federal police headquarters, La Superintendencia de Seguridad Federal, Viana was tortured both physically and psychologically. Viana testified that his torturers and interrogators included Argentine police officers Miguel Angel Iñiguiz and Alberto Villar and Uruguayans Carlos Calcagno, José Gavazzo, Hugo Campos Hermida, Jorge Silveira, and Víctor Castiglioni, names that are infamous in Uruguay. 

   Viana's case is one of many confirming that Condor was operative long before its official founding meeting in November 1975, thus highlighting the importance of the February 1974 meeting in Buenos Aires. Viana was transported back to Uruguay where he remained “disappeared” for years (he survived).

   Documents discovered in Argentina show that the Chilean DINA and Argentine intelligence agencies were working together in 1974 to abduct members of the Chilean Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) and the so-called OPR-33 of Uruguay in Argentina. Condor officers in Argentina used an abandoned auto repair shop, Orletti Motors — code-named OT [Operaciones Tácticas] 18 — as a secret torture and detention center for foreign detainees. Survivors reported seeing Bolivians, Chileans, Uruguayans, as well as two young security guards from the Cuban embassy in Argentina, imprisoned and tortured there. Most were killed.

   Recent testimonies, such as that of Brazilian coronel Paulo Malhaes, who appeared before Brazil’s Comisión de la Verdad, provided confirmation of joint covert operations by Brazil’s Centro de Informaciones del Ejército and Argentine Batallón 601 de Inteligencia de Campo de Mayo against Argentines who were in Rio. Malhaes confessed to following and “disappearing” many Argentines, some who were protected by the U.N. and others who were members of the Montoneros. Malhaes died of a heart attack in 2014 after three men broke into his house and held him hostage for ten hours, ransacking the place and taking files and weapons.

   Condor, “officially” institutionalized in November 1975, filled a crucial function in the inter-American counterinsurgency regime. While the militaries carried out massive repression within their own countries, the transnational Condor system silenced individuals and groups that had escaped the dictatorships to prevent them from organizing politically or influencing public opinion. The anticommunist mission, of which Condor was a part, ultimately crushed democratic as well as radical movements and individuals. Condor was not solely a Latin American (or Chilean) initiative; nor was it a simple instrument of Washington. Condor was secret component of the continental counterinsurgency regime. The militaries’ use of “disappearance” was central for carrying out covert counterinsurgency wars, provoking terror, and at the same time providing plausible deniability — the ability to camouflage links to the state and create impunity.
Justice is still pending for many crimes committed under the Condor system.

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Why Paul Krugman Is Wrong About the 1990s

Why Paul Krugman Is Wrong About the 1990s


May 27, 2016

Rana Foroohar

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Time magazine
https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/field/image/aquire-wealth-20s-30s.jpg?itok=lSTmK7DQ

  I’ve been pondering Paul Krugman’s recent column [1] in the New York Times about how great the 1990s were economically. Hillary Clinton has, of course, been saying the same thing on the campaign trail. In fact, she wants to put her husband Bill back in charge of the economy if she’s elected—a mistake, in my opinion, both on economic grounds and because it smacks of nepotism.

   The key question is this: What is the true economic narrative about the 1990s? In other words, was it a time of shared American prosperity brought on by smart policy? Or was it a time when the style of laissez-faire attitudes forged in the 1980s was co-opted by Democrats and began to create the growing inequality and periodic crises we’ve since become used to?

   It’s risky to take issue with a Nobel laureate, but having just written a book [2] that looks deeply at some of these issues, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Krugman has it partly wrong when he waxes nostalgic about the “boom” days of the 1990s.

  For starters, most of the 1990s did not produce a boom for ordinary people. Wages for the bottom 90% of the population in America were flat until 1996. (If you want to track the data yourself, check out this wonderful interactive graphic [3] from the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank affiliated with the labor movement, which allows you to set the frame anywhere you like over the last 100 years.) After that, the wage share of the lower 90 % began growing slightly, and in the last couple years of the 90s, America got some decent wage growth for average people.

  Why did this happen? Because the Federal Reserve kept interest rates quite low which allowed for full employment. This was in part because there was little risk of inflation due to globalization and new technologies; unemployment was around 3.9% in the late-1990s. That also encouraged a stock boom, which for a period of time meant more private investment into the economy. Finally, there was a brief productivity boom from new technology, which made investors bullish on the future and helped contribute to some wage growth.

    As we know, however, none of this lasted. By 2001, the dot com crash (a result of that stock bubble) had wiped out much of the investment boom. Productivity dipped and hasn’t gone up since. Incomes for average people have been stagnating, and we’ve gone back to business as usual—the 1% taking the vast majority of all income gains.

    In his column, Krugman advocates thinking about the policies of the 1990s as a model for how to create another bout of prosperity. But what were those policies, exactly?

   Bob Rubin, then Treasury secretary, balanced the budget and focused on market-led growth, rather than the massive public investment plan advocated by the other Bob, former labor secretary Robert Reich. Reich’s strategy of real, sustained investment in infrastructure and education (which Bill Clinton actually campaigned on) was deep sixed in favor of a more market-oriented, quick hit growth plan.

   “I pushed hard for a major public investment strategy, but it got ground up in demands from Republicans and some Democrats to cut the budget deficit,” says Reich, now a professor at Berkeley. “In some ways, it was an early exercise in austerity economics.”

    Would the Rubin strategy work today? Absolutely not. If we tried to balance the budget right now, we’d get European-style austerity. And while we still rely on the sugar high of super low interest rates, their effectiveness for boosting Main Street has decreased. Low rates have led to record stock prices, but Main Street growth is still sluggish, and wages are still relatively flat (as is productivity).

   The Band-Aid of easy money that worked in the 1990s simply won’t work anymore. It only changes asset prices–not what’s actually happening on Main Street. Central banks can buy time for governments to do real fiscal stimulus. But they can’t fix what’s wrong with the underlying system all by themselves.

   What’s more, one of the solutions Krugman advocates is actually the one that Bill Clinton’s administration didn’t take up–a massive infrastructure program. In fact, public investment as a percentage of GDP in the U.S. began falling in the 1990s. While it’s true that Clinton made some investments in education and infrastructure (and spent a lot of time talking about the “information superhighway [4]”), they weren’t anywhere near the levels that would have changed the underlying growth paradigm.

  The wrong Bob won the liberal economic debate of the 1990s. That’s why the decade brought a false, financialized growth that quickly evaporated at the first bubble popping, rather than the real thing. (I actually left journalism briefly to work in a high-tech incubator and, for this sin, I got to watch the bubble pop first-hand).
This is exactly why I worry when I hear that Hillary wants to put Bill back in charge. The suggestion begs an uncomfortable question: Has she learned the lessons of the 1990s?

   Maybe. Clinton recently proclaimed her desire to pull off a bold public infrastructure program. And she’s been somewhat critical of the ramifications of certain go-go 90s phenomenon like share buybacks (which create saccharine growth by artificially jacking up the value of company stock, which increases inequality).

   But I have yet to hear a full tally of what Hillary thinks was right about the 1990s, policy wise–and what wasn’t. In today’s economic climate, simply laying claim to the good parts of the 90s without explicitly outing the bad is not enough.
Certainly, we should be thinking about how to achieve a healthier labor market, but we also need to recognize that just letting the markets do their thing, as many in Bill Clinton’s administration advocated, isn’t a real growth strategy. It’s a head fake. In that sense, it’s misguided to lavish unadulterated praise for the era. The economic policy of the 90s only worked for some people, some of the time.

   Rana Foroohar is an assistant managing editor at TIME and the magazine’s economics columnist. She’s the author of Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business [5].


Links:


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How About 100 Bernie Sanders?

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

How About 100 Bernie Sanders?


May 27, 2016

Anoa Changa

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Guardian
https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/field/image/sanders_fist.jpg?itok=ZSnGWgWk

  As we approach the end of the current primary election cycle, many people are asking: what is next for the Sanders progressive revolution? The movement that has grown around Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid does not live or die by the success of his presidential campaign. Rather, it is part of a long history of progressive struggle and engagement across the country – and one that is only going to grow stronger.

   There are many candidates out there who stand for the same things as Bernie Sanders. I’m thinking of people like Zephyr Teachout, and candidates such as Pramila Jayapal, Lucy Flores, Tim Canova and many more who have shown that they can stay true to their progressive platform and their core beliefs and yet remain competitive. These candidates [1] reject the corrupt campaign finance system and have opted for funding grounded in small donations. Like Sanders, they support policies such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, social security expansion, and free college for all.

   That’s why it’s important to think beyond the presidential election. Progressives have a fierce fight on our hands in 2016 and beyond. Republican donors like Art Pope, an ally of the Koch brothers, have pledged to invest millions into down-ballot races instead of funding Donald Trump. We, like them, should have an eye to changing more than just the White House. We must change Congress, and every other level of government, right down to the grassroots.

   So, will progressives be able to harness the energy and momentum of the Sanders movement to bring candidates to power across the country, candidates who stand for the same things he does?

   I am a part of an initiative called Brand New Congress [2]. Many of us are former Sanders campaign staffers, who are hoping to help elect Bernie Sanders-like candidates in at least 100 different districts in the next two years. Rachel Maddow described us as running a “presidential campaign with 400 heads”.
With our eye on the midterm election cycle in 2018, Brand New Congress is engaging with people across congressional districts to identify potential candidates. We launched with the express purpose of building on the Sanders platform and securing meaningful representation in Congress.

   The aim is to run one campaign for hundreds of candidates. Instead of running the races separately, we will be centralizing fundraising, awareness raising and organizing for campaigns across the country. Our unified process will level the playing field, and thus permit new leaders to rise up from the ranks of our working and middle class.

   No longer will capable and competent individuals be told to wait on the sidelines because they don’t have big-money donors behind them. We seek to provide the infrastructure and strategic expertise to a new cadre of candidates across the country.

   This is a watershed moment for progressives. From state and local elections to congressional races, there are politicians and grassroots volunteers moving the needle on progressive action in this country. By empowering people to take part in the political process, via their voices and their votes, we have the beginnings of a change in the game.

   We need an honest and accountable Congress, one that is not swayed by the allure of wealthy donors. By building a network of campaigns to run simultaneously against business as usual, we have a chance at turning the tide in the 2018 midterm elections and beyond. The revolution is here, and it’s here to stay.


Links:



Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Friday, May 27, 2016

Baltimore Activist Alert May 28 – June 5, 2016

Baltimore Activist Alert May 28 – June 5, 2016

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.
The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  
4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa
5] Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore
6] Volunteer at the Belltower – through June 1
7] Tour Hampden – May 28
8] Heels on Wheels – May 28
9] Journey of healing – May 28
10] Hear from Indian environmentalist – May 29
11] Remembrance Sunday – May 29
12] Honor JFK – May 29
13] Letters left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial -- May 29
14] Pentagon Vigil – May 30
15] Marc Steiner on WEAA – May 30 – June 3
16] March in the Memorial Day Parade -- May 30
17] CISPES riders return – May 30
18] DanceAfrica – May 31 – June 5
19] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – May 31
20] Protest JHU drone research – May 31
21] Fundraising infosession– May 31
22] Film THE GROUND TRUTH– June 4
-------
1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon.net.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale.  For more details and to download the order form, go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/hocofola/2010/02/hocofola-cafe-quetzal-order-form-2010.html. The coffee comes in one-pound bags.

Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month.  Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered.  Send it to Francine Sheppard at 5639B, Harpers Farm Rd., Columbia 21044. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Francine at 410-992-7679 or FrancineMSW@aol.com.

5] – Janice and Max are looking to buy a house in Baltimore.  Let Max know if you have any leads—410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

6] –The Lincoln Memorial / Vietnam Memorial Installation continues through Wed., June 1 (all day).  This Belltower needs volunteer attendants.  The 24 foot tall touring tower is covered with over a thousand silver wind-blown 'bricks' made from recycled beer and soda cans. It was created by volunteers and dedicated by Veterans For Peace to ALL victims and veterans of war, regardless of race, faith or nationality. Wherever the tower has appeared, visitors have added personal inscriptions to the cans, rung the bell, and shared stories about how they have suffered from war. It was inspired by a WWI-Era Belltower in Raleigh, NC with the inscription, “And They Shall Beat Their Swords into Plowshares.”

    The permit requires the organizers to maintain a 24 hour vigil at the Belltower. This is a huge opportunity with thousands of visitors to the area around Memorial Day, but it is also a huge challenge. Please consider doing a shift.  The installation is being planned in conjunction with the arrival of Sam's Ride for Peace, Veterans For Peace lobby days and Vietnam Full Disclosure's Memorial Day 'Letters to the Wall” Effort. Visit https://www.facebook.com/STPBelltower.

7] – Come to the Woodberry Kitchen, 2010 Clipper Park Rd, Baltimore 21211, for a tour on Sat., May 28 from noon until 1:30 PM.  The cost is $10.   In this small community, two giants of industry converged in the late 1800s. One was Robert Poole, the leading employer of iron workers in Baltimore, and across the tracks, the other was William Hooper, whose Meadow Mill was a monument to his textile enterprise during a time of national depression. Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance chair Nathan Dennies will tell the story of the rise, eventual fall, and recent revitalization of this important site of Baltimore industry on a tour of Woodberry. The tour will stop in local businesses representing present day manufacturing in the neighborhood. The tour will begin outside Woodberry Kitchen and end at Union Craft Brewing for drinks and a tour of the brewery. Register at http://baltimoreheritage.org/partners/hampdenalliance.

8] – On Sat., May 28 from 4 to 6 PM, join the Chapel of Mary of Magdala, 3636 16th St. NW, Room AG-23, WDC in a journey of healing, wholeness and liberation to build the beloved Community. Participants will share a meal, engage in conversation, and take action.

9] –Heels on Wheels hits the road & lands at Red Emma’s in Baltimore on Sat. May 28 at 7:30 PM with its new, groundbreaking anthology of risk-taking queer femmes and LGBTQ artists, “Glitter & Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Femme Galaxy” (2015, Publication Studio).  The book features over 60 pieces of writing and art, tour real talk, community art pro-tips and all the grit it takes to get glit! -- plus, it was nominated for a LAMBDA Literary Award. All May, Heels on Wheels will be bestowing Glitterary Awards on the contributors to Glitter & Grit -- come participate and share your own #Glitterary inspirations!  Support the bookstores and buy a book at the event! If you can’t come, this book can be purchased online at http://www.heelsonwheelsroadshow.com/anthology/.  Heels on Wheels is a working-class led, multiracial queer femme arts organization, based in Brooklyn. This tour is part of #Glitterary Awareness Month, a month to celebrate radical voices in arts and media. #glitterNgrit @howroadshow.

10] – The ASSOCIATION FOR INDIA’S DEVELOPMENT ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2016 is happening at the University of Maryland, College Park campus, 1117 John S. Toll Building #082, University of Maryland Physics, College Park. On Sun., May 29 from 10 to 11:45 AM hear the Keynote speaker, Medha Patkar. Over the last quarter of a century, Medha Patkar has come to symbolize the voice of people struggling for a just, sustainable and peaceful society. She gave up her position as a faculty member at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and immersed herself in the struggles of the indigenous communities in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. She started the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement) which has been at the forefront of the struggle to uphold the lives and lands of the people of the Narmada valley, which is threatened with submergence by the mega Sardar Sarovar dam project. Since then, she has directly led several important people’s struggles across India including Lavasa, Golibar slum demolition, Adarsh land scams among many others. She is the recipient of several awards, including Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defender Award and the BBC Green Ribbon Award for the best international political campaigner. Go to https://conference.aidindia.org/.

11] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon. On May 29 the topic is “Remembrance Sunday” hosted by Karen Elliott.  Memorial Day Sunday offers BES members and guests a chance to celebrate people who have died but left us with gifts that enrich our lives. Whether the person was a family member or a historical figure, we owe so much to those no longer with us. We miss their living presence but take solace in the work, ideals, friendship, and love they offered to the world. In our quest to live more meaningful and ethical lives, we can turn to those who have gone before for inspiration, guidance and strength. During this platform program, members and guests will be offered a chance to honor someone important in their lives. It can be in honor of a relative, friend, mentor, or historical figure. Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

12] – Vigil - Peaceably Assemble, Honoring John F. Kennedy at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, (public/north terrace, facing Watergate), WDC, on Sun., May 29 from noon to 2 PM.  Peaceably assemble for 1) Immediate, un-redacted release of all still withheld assassination-related records; 2) Abolishing, or reining in the CIA to its original, intelligence-only mandate; and 3) Ending the intimidation of official secrecy and the violence it perpetuates. A recording will be heard of JFK's June 10, 1963 Commencement Address at the nearby American University Campus, concerning issues of nuclear weapons, war and peace.  JFK's words are as relevant today.  See https://youtu.be/0fkKnfk4k40.

Afterwards, those present may disperse and peaceably reassemble elsewhere, perhaps in proximity to the White House or the Capitol, in further petition for redress of grievances. All are asked to view their participation not as a protest or demonstration - not "civil disobedience" - but instead as "Civil Obedience" of the highest order, peaceably assembling in the most Constitutional of manners, that JFK may be honored and that progress is achieved towards the stated objectives. Go to //www.facebook.com/events/272306579779196/. RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/jfk-vigil-may-29-2016-peaceably-assemble-ho...

13] – Veterans For Peace wants us to Remember the Human Costs of War on Memorial Day, May 30.  As part of the Full Disclosure campaign, VFP did a Letter Writing Campaign and will deliver 1.500 letters to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 5 Henry Bacon Dr. NW, WDC 20050, on Sun., May 29 at 8 PM.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1551318831861151/.  The letters acknowledge the impact of that war on our lives.  The letters are from those directly affected by the Vietnam War--the soldier, the conscientious objector, the war resister, the grieving family member, the daughter or son of a soldier, or the so-called "boat people."

14] -- There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is Mon., May 30, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr. 

15] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday fr6m 10 AM to noon on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at www.weaa.org.   The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to steinershow@gmail.com. All shows are also available as podcasts at www.steinershow.org.

16] –  Pacem In Terris will be part of the Memorial Day Parade on Mon., May 30 at 5:45 PM, starting at Delaware Ave. & Woodlawn Ave., Wilmington.  This year marks the 149th consecutive observance of the traditional Memorial Day in Wilmington. The tradition began in 1868, when a group of New Castle County citizens formed a Memorial Day Committee to honor those who died in the Civil War. Pacem in Terris has been a part of the Wilmington Memorial Day Parade for over a decade. Honor the past, seek to heal the present and bring peace to the future. March to the Civil War Monument, and honor the dead of all wars with a memorial service. Call Pacem in Terris at 302-656-2721. 

17] – Get over to the Welcome Home Riders Potluck- CISPES Solidarity Ride on Mon, May 30 at 6 PM at a place to be determined. CISPES is holding a great Solidarity Ride for El Salvador! But just because you can't make the ride doesn't mean you can't participate. For those who aren’t/can’t/don’t want to ride, they hope you will instead join them to celebrate the coming of summer and the power of collective action with a Welcome Home, Riders Potluck--good food, cold drinks, fun & games with warm-hearted folks! Babies, kids and families welcome! Contact Laura at (202) 521-2510 ext. 204 or laura@cispes.org.

18] – DanceAfrica DC 2016 takes place at 3225 8th St. NE, WDC, on Tues., May 31 (all day) to Sunday, June 5 (all day). The 29th annual festival celebrates the dance and music of the African Diaspora! It features outstanding African dance companies from the D.C. metropolitan area, a master class series and African Marketplace; and this festival is guaranteed to inspire, invigorate, educate and entertain. Visit http://www.danceplace.org/news/danceafrica-dc-2016-festival-schedule/.

19] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine.  The next vigil is May 31.  Call 215-426-0364.

20] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. join this ongoing vigil on May 31  from 5:30 to 6:30  PM. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

21] – Come to the DC Fund in the Sun Infosession at 1317 Decatur St. NW, WDC, on Tues., May 31 at 7 PM. This is for supporters of social justice work and the Diverse City Fund to hold fundraising events through the month of July to support DC Fund's important work. Come to our infosession to learn about DC Fund, summer fundraising, and how you can support organizing rooted in communities of color in Washington D.C.  The Diverse City Fund works to nurture community leaders and grassroots projects which are acting to transform DC into a more just, vibrant place to live. Through grant-making, people in communities of color who are engaged in change work are identified, supported, and connected. The Diverse City Fund support the development of community-level social change by funding projects that have less access to traditional funding sources. Learn more about DC Fund at http://www.diversecityfund.org/.

22] –  The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee, Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings and Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES.  The DVDs will be shown at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218, usually on the First Friday. At 7:15 PM, from January through June, a DVD will be shown with a discussion to follow.  There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. The series theme is CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.  

On June 3 see THE GROUND TRUTH [USA, 2006] Filmmaker Patricia Foulkrod examines the experiences of Iraq War veterans and the plight of the military. She documents stories of human wreckage arising from the horrors of war and the dehumanizing military training. Some ten veterans discuss how their time in Iraq changed their lives irrevocably.  Regarding basic training, they discuss desensitization and depersonalization. The accounts given for their experiences in Iraq highlight both physical and mental injuries. After they were discharged, they had adjust and adapt to a civilian world.  Of course, many of them are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and amputated limbs. Call 410-323-1607 or email mobuszewski at Verizon.net.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs