Friday, November 24, 2017

John Steinbeck, The Dust Bowl, and Farm-Worker Organizing

Published on Portside (

John Steinbeck, The Dust Bowl, and Farm-Worker Organizing

Harry Targ

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

  Steinbeck is most known for his iconic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939, which described in detail the migration of the Joad family from their dust storm devastated farm land to California seeking work and eventually, they hoped, to accumulate enough money to buy land in this presumed mecca. Their travels involved encounters with thousands of other migrants, called "Okies," desperately leaving their homelands in several Southern and Midwest states to find a livelihood. The metaphor that shapes our consciousness of the suffering of the Great Depression of the 1930s, scholar Michael Denning suggests, is a natural disaster, the Dust Bowl.

   But the natural disaster is in fact a part of a long history, political economy, politics and culture. New agricultural technologies, shifted the means of production and the products produced  making small farming obsolete. This and a debt system that kept tenant farmers in bondage all created an inextricable connection between a crisis-prone capitalist political economy and the delicate balance of the natural environment.

   Corporate land owners demanded that tenant farmers produce more cotton and wheat from land that had been overworked and when those farmers could not produce enough to pay their debts, tractors came and plowed under fences, farmhouses, and ways of life. In fact, the new mechanized agriculture did not need as many tenant farmers to grow the crops that fed the nation. So between the erosion of the land, the huge winds that blew the dusty soil all across the sky, the new agriculture, the debt system millions were set afoot. The deeply indebted tenant farmers forced off their land and enticed by advertisements promising work and wealth in California began the long migrations from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere via old dilapidated trucks and cars to California.

  We're sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty-thousand-acre owner can't be responsible. You're on land that isn't yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don't you go on west to California? There's work there. And it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. Why don't you go there? And the owner men started their cars and rolled away.[1]

  Steinbeck powerfully describes the trek westward, the expenditures of life savings, the prejudices of gas station owners and other merchants against the "okies" along the way, the inspiring desperate efforts of migrants to share their meager food with others and the shocking arrival in a California where migrant labor is cheap and expendable. Grandpa and Pa Joad die along the way. Tom the second oldest son, and a recently paroled killer, joins a California labor struggle along the way and kills a sheriff in a brawl and is forced to leave the family. Tom tells his mother of his decision (powerfully recited by Henry Fonda in the movie version) after she asks how she will know about him. Tom Joad responds:

   Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella ain't got a soul of his own, but on'y a piece of a big one-an' then-
    .....I'll be ever'where-wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there....I'll be in the way guys yell when they're made an'-I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build-why I'll be there.[2]

   Folk balladeer Woody Guthrie went to see the film, taken from Steinbeck's novel and wrote in a column in the People's World, the west coast paper of the Communist Party USA:

   Seen the pitcher last night, Grapes of Wrath, best cussed pitcher I ever seen.
The Grapes of Wrath, you know is about us pullin' out of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and down south, and a driftin' around over state of California, busted, disgusted, down and out, and a lookin' for work.

   Shows you how come us to be that a way. Shows the dam bankers men that broke us and the dust that choked us, and comes right out in plain old English and says what to do about it.

   It says you got to get together and have some meetins, and stick together, and raise old billy hell till you get your job, and get your farm back, and your house and your chickens and your groceries and your clothes, and your money back.
Go to see Grapes of Wrath, pardner, go to see it and don't miss.

   You was the star in that picture. Go and see your own self and hear your own words and your own song.[3]

   One day shortly after seeing the film Guthrie bought a jug of wine, stayed up all night and penned the classic song depicting the story of The Grapes of Wrath called "Tom Joad."
 Tom Joad got out of the old McAlester Pen;
    There he got his parole.
    After four long years on a man killing charge,
    Tom Joad come a-walkin' down the road, poor boy,
    Tom Joad come a-walkin' down the road.
    Tom Joad, he met a truck driving man;
    There he caught him a ride.
    He said, "I just got loose from McAlester Pen
    On a charge called homicide,
    A charge called homicide."
    That truck rolled away in a cloud of dust;
    Tommy turned his face toward home.
    He met Preacher Casey, and they had a little drink,
    But they found that his family they was gone,
    He found that his family they was gone.
    He found his mother's old-fashion shoe,
    Found his daddy's hat.
    And he found little Muley and Muley said,
    "They've been tractored out by the cats,
    They've been tractored out by the cats."
    Tom Joad walked down to the neighbor's farm,
    Found his family.
    They took Preacher Casey and loaded in a car,
    And his mother said, "We've got to get away."
    His mother said, "We've got to get away."
    Now, the twelve of the Joads made a mighty heavy load;
    But Grandpa Joad did cry.
    He picked up a handful of land in his hand,
    Said: "I'm stayin' with the farm till I die.
    Yes, I'm stayin' with the farm till I die."
    They fed him short ribs and coffee and soothing syrup;
    And Grandpa Joad did die.
    They buried Grandpa Joad by the side of the road,
    Grandma on the California side,
    They buried Grandma on the California side.
    They stood on a mountain and they looked to the west,
    And it looked like the promised land.
    That bright green valley with a river running through,
    There was work for every single hand, they thought,
    There was work for every single hand.
    The Joads rolled away to the jungle camp,
    There they cooked a stew.
    And the hungry little kids of the jungle camp
    Said: "We'd like to have some, too."
    Said: "We'd like to have some, too."
    Now a deputy sheriff fired loose at a man,
    Shot a woman in the back.
    Before he could take his aim again,
    Preacher Casey dropped him in his track, poor boy,
    Preacher Casey dropped him in his track.
    They handcuffed Casey and they took him in jail;
    And then he got away.
    And he met Tom Joad on the old river bridge,
    And these few words he did say, poor boy,
    These few words he did say.
    "I preached for the Lord a mighty long time,
    Preached about the rich and the poor.
    Us workin' folkses, all get together,
    'Cause we ain't got a chance anymore.
    We ain't got a chance anymore."
    Now, the deputies come, and Tom and Casey run
    To the bridge where the water run down.
    But the vigilante thugs hit Casey with a club,
    They laid Preacher Casey on the ground, poor Casey,
    They laid Preacher Casey on the ground.
    Tom Joad, he grabbed that deputy's club,
    Hit him over the head.
    Tom Joad took flight in the dark rainy night,
    And a deputy and a preacher lying dead, two men,
    A deputy and a preacher lying dead.
    Tom run back where his mother was asleep;
    He woke her up out of bed.
    An' he kissed goodbye to the mother that he loved,
    Said what Preacher Casey said, Tom Joad,
    He said what Preacher Casey said.
    "Ever'body might be just one big soul,
    Well it looks that a-way to me.
    Everywhere that you look, in the day or night,
    That's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma,
    That's where I'm a-gonna be.
    Wherever little children are hungry and cry,
    Wherever people ain't free.
    Wherever men are fightin' for their rights,
    That's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma.
    That's where I'm a-gonna be."
 Paradoxically, John Steinbeck published his powerful novel of labor strife in a California apple orchard in 1936, three years before his more famous novel. In Dubious Battle is about Communist organizers trying to mobilize super-exploited apple pickers to strike for higher wages and the right to form a union. In Dubious Battle takes place in the aftermath of large-scale strikes all up and down the West Coast including a general strike by longshoremen in San Francisco. It was also at a time when the Communist Party USA was actively engaged in helping to build a new militant, largely industrial, labor movement. While the reader does not find out the outcome of the strike and the new young militant organizer Jim, working as an apprentice of the experienced Mac is killed by vigilantes, the narrative takes the effort and the party militancy seriously. It also addresses in depth the problematic tactical questions about how to build class consciousness, creating unity and willingness to struggle out of isolation and self-centeredness.

   Near the end of the novel Mac, the Communist leader, is called upon to give a eulogy for Joy, a hapless working class activist who spent his life protesting and rallies and getting brutally beaten by police. Joy arrived in a trainload of scabs and almost immediately is shot and killed by the same vigilantes who later would kill Jim. Mac tells the assembled mourners about Joy:

   "The guy's name was Joy. He was a radical! Get it? A radical. He wanted guys like you to have enough to eat and a place to sleep where you wouldn't get wet. He didn't want nothing for himself He was a radical!...D' ye see what he was? A dirty bastard, a danger to the government I don't know if you saw his face, all beat to rags. The cops done that because he was a radical. His hands were broke, an' his jaw was broke. One time he got that jaw broke in a picket line....He was dangerous-he wanted guys like you to get enough to eat....What are you going to do about it? Dump him in a mud-hole, cover him with slush. Forget him.[4]

[1] John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. Penguin, London, 1976, 46.
[2] John Steinbeck, 572.
[3] Woody Guthrie from a column in People's World, 1940, reprinted in Woody Suez, New York, 1975, p.133.
[4] John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle, Penguin books, London,2000, 254.

Harry Targ is a Professor of Political Science at Purdue University. He is a co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism [1] (CCDS).


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

Jury convicts 'valve turner' Leonard Higgins on both counts


Jury convicts 'valve turner' Leonard Higgins on both counts
BENNETT HALL Corvallis Gazette-Times
·         Nov 22, 2017 Updated 7 hrs ago
Leonard Higgins

From left, "valve turners" Leonard Higgins, Michael Foster, Emily Johnston and Ken Ward stand outside the Chouteau County Courthouse in Fort Benton, Mont. A Montana jury found Leonard Higgins guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and felony criminal mischief on Wednesday for his role in a “valve turner” protest. 
·         Bennett Hall, Gazette-Times

·         FORT BENTON, Mont. — A Montana jury took just one hour to find climate activist Leonard Higgins guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and felony criminal mischief on Wednesday for his role in the “valve turner” protest that briefly shut down the flow of Canadian crude through pipelines in four U.S. states last year.
·         The 65-year-old former Corvallis resident is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 2 by Judge Daniel Boucher in Chouteau County District Court.  He faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the criminal mischief count.
The 12-person jury could have found Higgins guilty of a lesser charge but determined that his actions caused more than $1,500 in damage to the pipeline’s owner, Spectra Energy (now Enbridge Corp.), making the criminal mischief a felony offense.
Higgins’ lead defense attorney, Herman Watson IV of Bozeman, said his client intends to appeal the verdict to the Montana Supreme Court.
“That’s always been the plan, and we already have the appeal written,” Watson said.
Like his four fellow valve turners, Higgins had hoped to employ a necessity defense, which would have allowed him to argue that his crimes were justified by the imminent danger to humanity of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels. Boucher denied that motion, saying that “the energy policy of the United States is not on trial.”
The trial began on Tuesday with the arguments focusing on the monetary value of the damage incurred by Spectra Energy on Oct. 11, 2016, when Higgins used bolt cutters to enter a fenced enclosure near Coal Banks Landing and close an emergency shutoff valve on the Express pipeline, which transports crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region to refineries in the United States. The company, which was warned about the action by two phone calls from Higgins’ fellow activists, had already stopped the flow of oil through the pipe.
The prosecution argued that the company’s costs were well above the $1,500 threshold because the incident occupied two supervisors and a number of technicians for all or part of a working day.
The defense conceded that Higgins destroyed chains and other equipment worth a total of $938 but insisted that the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had caused any additional economic losses to the pipeline company.
The jury found otherwise.
Watson tried to portray his client as a principled man who felt compelled to take action against climate change, which he views as an emergency that threatens current and future generations.
Taking the stand in his own defense Wednesday morning, Higgins responded to questions from Watson about his motivation by saying, “I felt responsible to stand up for what’s right — and sometimes what’s right isn’t necessarily what’s legal.”
But when the questions turned to Higgins’ beliefs about the causes of climate change and the need to stop burning greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels, his testimony was shut down by a flurry of objections from Chouteau County Attorney Steven Gannon.
Boucher backed him up, ruling those issues were “beyond the scope of this case.”
Gannon made that point again during his closing arguments.
“This is not about what (Higgins) believes,” he told the jury. “It’s about what he did about it.”
He hammered on the uproar caused by Higgins’ act of protest, arguing it cost the pipeline company thousands of dollars’ worth of lost productivity.
“The bottom line is they are in the business of moving oil,” Gannon said. “When the pipeline isn’t working, they’re not making money.”
In his own closing statement, Watson did his best to cast doubt on that claim. He argued that Higgins was an activist, not a vandal, and that the actual damage he caused was not enough to justify a felony charge.
In the end, the jury sided with the prosecution, returning a unanimous verdict after an hour of deliberation.
When court was adjourned, Higgins turned to embrace his eldest daughter, Sarah Robertson of Portland, and his partner, Angela van Patten of Portland, who watched the trial from the front row.
He was also greeted by about 40 fellow climate activists, many of whom had traveled from Oregon, Washington and elsewhere to show their support. Also on hand were three of his fellow valve turners: Michael Foster, Emily Johnston and Ken Ward.
Despite the outcome of Higgins’ trial, the group was upbeat afterward, singing songs, exchanging hugs and making plans to share a Thanksgiving dinner in Montana before returning to their respective homes.
Foster — who is awaiting sentencing on two felonies and a misdemeanor after his conviction last month in a North Dakota court — said there’s no reason to feel down because each trial advances the cause of combating climate change.
“We win even when we lose because we get stronger,” Foster said.
“What did Gandhi say? First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. And then you win.”
Higgins remains free on bail pending sentencing.
His co-defendant Reed Ingalls, who videotaped and live-streamed Higgins’ efforts to shut down the Spectra Express pipeline, also faces trial in Chouteau County on trespassing and criminal mischief charges.
© Copyright 2017 Gazette-Times,

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert - November 24, 2017 to May 5, 2018

26] Buy Black on Black Friday – Nov. 24
27] Peace vigil at White House – Nov. 24
28] WIB peace vigils – Nov. 24
29] Adopt an animal – Nov. 24 through Nov. 26
30] Blackity Black Friday Pop-up – Nov. 24
31] Black Lives Matter vigil – Nov. 24
32] Ballroom Dancing – Nov. 24
33] West Chester peace vigil – Nov. 25
34] Celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize – Dec. 8
35] Help deliver a Healthcare not Warfare petition – Jan. 11 & 12, 2018
36] Conference on U.S. Foreign Military Bases -- Jan. 12 - Jan. 14
37] Catonsville Nine Commemoration – May 4 – 5
39] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
40] Do you need any book shelves?
41] Join the Global Zero campaign
26] – On Fri., Nov. 24 from 11 AM to 5 PM, Buy Black on Black Friday at the Ujamaa Marketplace at St. Frances Academy, 501 E Chase St., Baltimore 21202. This is a marketplace of black owned businesses that offer great products at reasonable prices. Come out and connect with the community in a family friendly environment infused with culture including a drum circle, ujamaa education, musical performance, kid’s activity, qigong health demonstration, a DJ, food, dessert and more.

27] – On Fri., Nov. 24 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416. 

28] – On Fri., Nov. 24 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts. After this vigil, gather for lunch at the cafĂ© on the site.  Stay for as long as you can. Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather. Bring your own poster or help with the "NO WAR IN MY NAME" banner.  When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride [].  Peace signs will be available. 

29] – Bring home a lifetime of unconditional love. The Maryland SPCA will be waiving adoption fees for all animals starting Fri., Nov. 24 and continuing through Sun., Nov. 26 thanks to a sponsorship by Zappos for Good and North Shore Animal League America.   This adoption promotion will be running at the following locations: 1] Maryland SPCA Adoption Center, 3300 Falls Road, Baltimore 21211 from Fri.: from noon to 5 PM and Sat. and Sun. from 11 AM to 4 PM; 2] Project Adopt in the White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd, Baltimore 21236, on Fri., from 1 to 7 PM, Sat. from 11 AM to 7 PM and Sun. from 11 AM to 5 PM; and Pet Valu in the Rotunda, 711 W. 40th St., Baltimore 21211, on Fri. and Sat. from 9 AM to 9 PM and Sun. from 10 AM to 6 PM.  Standard Adoption procedures apply, including the required $25 animal ID Package. Visit

30] -- On Fri., Nov. 24 at 2 PM, get over to the Blackity Black Friday Pop-up at the Greater Baltimore Urban League, 512 Orchard St., Baltimore 21201.  Come out and kick off the holiday shopping season by supporting Black owned businesses. There will be quality products of all kinds and food trucks on location! This event is free with registration! This event is proudly co-sponsored by Greater Baltimore Urban League and Brittany T. Oliver of Not Without Black Women! If you are interested in vending, contact Michelle Duberry at 443-799-5300.

31] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on Nov. 24. Black Lives Matter.  

32] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at  8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be on Nov. 24. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

33] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

34] – On Fri., Dec. 8 at probably 5 PM, get ready to celebrate the Nobel Peace prize which will be awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons [ICAN] on December 10.  Save this date, as more information will be forthcoming.  Email max at mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.

35] – Please note that the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance planned visit on Mon., Nov. 6 at noon to help deliver a Healthcare not Warfare petition to Captain Mark A. Kobelja, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 4494 North Palmer Road, Bethesda 20889, was postponed. It is now re-scheduled for Thurs., Jan. 11 at noon.  And on Fri., Jan. 12 at 10 AM, we will continue the Healthcare not Warfare direct action with a visit to the White House to Say No War with North Korea, Iran or Yemen.  Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net to join NCNR on Jan. 11, Jan, 12 or both days.  We are still gathering signatures on our petition?  If wanting to sign, please provide name, hometown and your organization to Max.

36] – Attend a Conference on U.S. Foreign Military Bases from Fri., Jan. 12 through Sun., Jan. 14, 2018 at the University of Baltimore, Learning Commons Town Hall, 1415 Maryland Ave., Baltimore 21201, hosted by the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases.  Thirteen prominent peace and justice organizations in the United States are collectively organizing this conference.  Some of the groups are Black Alliance for Peace, CODEPINK, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, Popular Resistance, Veterans For Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and World Beyond War.  The conference will feature national and international experts. Several expert panels will discuss the economic, political, environmental and health costs and impact of U.S. foreign military bases in various regions of the world, including South America, Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The conference will be live streamed for the international audience.  For more information and to register for the conference, go to

37] –   Save the Dates.  The fiftieth anniversary of the Catonsville Nine draft board raid will be commemorated  There will be a CATONSVILLE NINE SYMPOSIUM on FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018 from 4 to 10 PM at the Shriver Center, University of Maryland – Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Cir, Catonsville, MD 21250. Enjoy Films, Lectures, Discussion Panels and Dramatic Readings.  There will be more CATONSVILLE NINE COMMEMORATION ACTIVITIES on SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 from 9 AM to 2 PM at the Baltimore County Public Library Catonsville Branch, 1100 Frederick Rd., Catonsville, MD 21228.  Enjoy more Films, Lectures, Discussion Panels and Dramatic Readings.  Go to


After 44 years of resisting weapons and war, Jonah House is Baltimore is in danger of shutting down. Two of the three core members have announced their intention to leave the community as of May 2018. That leaves one core member, Joe Byrne, who will remain to recruit and re-form intentional community. But if no one steps forward, Jonah House will have to close.

Jonah House was founded by Phil Berrigan, Liz McAlister, and others, in 1973, during the Vietnam War. It was a center of resistance to that war. When the war ended, the focus of resistance became the nuclear arms race. This resistance blossomed into the Plowshares movement. Jonah House members have spent years in jail for Plowshares disarmament actions. Other members have spent years supporting them, and doing the work of the community in their absence. Resistance to weapons and war continues at Jonah House. More recently, Jonah House has also become involved in racial justice efforts in Baltimore, and the environmental justice movement.

Jonah House is planted in the middle of a 22-acre, mostly-wooded cemetery in West Baltimore called St. Peter’s. Maintaining and slowly restoring St. Peter’s Cemetery is the work that pays the bills for the community. Jonah House also uses the property to serve the living as well as honor the dead. Our gardens and orchards feed the Jonah House community, and the surrounding neighborhood community, via a food pantry and weekly food distribution to low-income neighbors. We envision the cemetery—particularly the 11-acre forest patch—as a haven for the people of the neighborhood, international peace activists, and numberless living beings.

Jonah House is also an interfaith spiritual community. We pray or meditate together daily, and our spiritual practice informs and empowers everything we do, whether in the fields or in the streets.

To continue the vision, Jonah House is looking for a few new core members willing to commit to a two-year stint. We are also open to short- and long-term interns (3 months to a year). The work of radical peacemaking, direct service to the poor, and stewarding the land requires workers. We pray that God will send laborers to the vineyard (yes, we have that too) and that Jonah House will continue to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable for another 44 years!  For more information, call 443-804-3410, or email us at

39] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs, records, tarps and table cloths, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at

40] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

41] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert - November 22 - 23, 2017

21] Pray for the Mayor and the City -- Nov. 22
22] Pray for Peace – Nov. 22
23] Victory for Survivors -- Nov. 23
24] Turkey Drive 2017 -- Nov. 23
25] Community Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner  -- Nov. 23

21] – On Wed., Nov. 22 at 5:30 PM and Thurs., Nov. 23 at 6 PM, Pray For the Mayor And City, hosted by Hug Don't Shoot, at the Baltimore City Hall, 100 Holliday St., Baltimore 21202.  Join the #HugDealers of #HUGDONTSHOOT,  Praying for every Single Person in Baltimore. Stop talking about what someone else is NOT doing let's see what you can do.!!!!

22] –  Interfaith Peace Partners are invited to Pray for Peace at the Chapel of  Church of the Holy Comforter, 130 West Seminary Ave., Lutherville, at noon on Thanksgiving eve on Wed., Nov. 22. Contact the Rev. Charles Cloughen, Jr., Interfaith Peace Service Coordinator, at  at 410-321-4545.

23] – On Thurs., Nov. 23 at 11 AM, there will be a Thanksgiving Day Service of Victory for Survivors at Saint John African Methodist Episcopal Church, 810 North Carrollton Ave., Baltimore 21217.  Come out Cancer, Stroke, Heart, Kidney, Liver and Transplant Survivors! Also come out Military Service Survivors! Also invited are Substance Abuse and Survivors of any Emotional, Physical or Financial Catastrophes! Call (410) 523-5468. Rev. Dr. Peggy E. Wall is the Senior Pastor.

24] –The Frederick County Progressives and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick present Turkey Drive 2017 on Thurs., Nov. 23 from noon to 8 PM at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, 4880 Elmer Derr Rd., Frederick 21703.  The Thanksgiving season is one in which we look back over the year to recognize the things that we are thankful for. For those of us with the Frederick County Progressives Team it is that so many, especially here in Frederick, have decided to stand up and be the change that we want to see in our town, country, and world; to show that Frederick is a kind, caring, and welcoming community, not just in our words, but in our deeds.  Help deliver individually boxed Thanksgiving meals to those in need. Enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at the UUCF. Contact the Frederick County Progressives · RSVP at

25] –– On Thurs., Nov. 23 from 12:30 to 4:30 PM, enjoy a Community Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner hosted by St. Thomas Ev. Lutheran Church, 339 S. Pulaski St., Baltimore 21223. Free dinner to all who come; also get free coats and clothing.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ignoring Washington’s Role in Yemen Carnage, 60 Minutes Paints US as Savior

Ignoring Washington’s Role in Yemen Carnage, 60 Minutes Paints US as Savior

Monday, November 20, 2017

By Adam Johnson

   In one of the most glaring, power-serving omissions in some time, CBS News 60 Minutes (11/19/17) took a deep dive into the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and did not once mention the direct role the United States played in creating, perpetuating and prolonging a crisis that’s left over 10,000 civilians dead2 million displaced, and an estimated 1 million with cholera.

   Correspondent Scott Pelley’s segment, “When Food Is Used as a Weapon,” employed excellent on-the-ground reporting to highlight the famine and bombing victims of Saudi Arabia’s brutal two-and-a-half year siege of Yemen. But its editors betrayed this reporting—and their viewers—by stripping the conflict of any geopolitical context, and letting one of its largest backers, the United States government, entirely off the hook.

   As FAIR has previously noted (10/14/162/27/17), US media frequently ignore the Pentagon’s role in the conflict altogether. Pelly did not once note that the US assists Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign with logistical support, refueling and the selling of arms to the tune of $400 billion.  The US also routinely protects Saudi Arabia at the UN from condemnation—a shield that may have vastly prolonged the war, given that it signals the support of the most powerful country on Earth.

   Meanwhile, Iran’s involvement in the conflict—which, even by the most paranoid estimates, is far less than the United States’—is placed front and center as one side of the “war.” The conflict is framed in hackneyed “Sunni vs Shia” terms, with Saudi Arabia unironically called the “leader of the Sunni world” and Iran the “leader of the Shia world.” A reductionist narrative that omits that Sunnis have fought alongside the Houthis, and the fact that Saudi bombs kill members of the marginalized, mostly Sunni Muhamasheen caste, who are neither “led” by Saudi Arabia nor part of the “Shia world.”

    This cartoon dichotomy is the extent of the context. Saudi Arabia is rightly singled out as the primary aggressor (though a dubious comparative body count of 3,000 killed by Saudis vs. 1,000 by Houthis is proffered that is far lower than the UN’s January 2017 estimates of 10,000 total civilians killed), but who the Saudis’ primary patrons are—the United States and Britain (and Canada, too)—is simply not mentioned. One would think, watching Pelley’s report, it was a purely regional conflict, and not one sanctioned and armed by major Western superpowers to counter “Iranian aggression.”

   To compound the obfuscation, 60 Minutes doesn’t just omit the US role in the war, it paints the US as a savior rescuing its victims. The hero of the piece is American David Beasley, the director of the UN’s World Food Programme, the organization coordinating humanitarian aid. “The US is [the World Food Programme]’s biggest donor, so the director is most often an American. Beasley was once governor of South Carolina,” Pelly narrates over B-roll hero shots of Beasley overseeing food distribution.
Beasley, in his sit-down interview, bends over backwards to downplay Saudi responsibility, insisting at every turn that “all parties” are to blame:

You see it’s chaos, it’s starvation, it’s hunger, and it’s unnecessary conflict, strictly man-made. All parties involved in this conflict have their hands guilty, the hands are dirty. All parties.

   The spin that the crisis is the fault of “all parties” is understandable from a US-funded de facto diplomat, charged with providing some cover for a major regional ally. But the premise that “all parties” are causing the famine is never challenged by Pelley. It’s taken as fact, and the piece moves on.

  It’s part of a broader trend of erasing American responsibility for the conflict and resulting humanitarian disaster. The Washington Post ran an editorial last week (11/8/17) and an explainer piece Saturday (11/19/17) detailing the carnage in Yemen, neither one of which bothered to mention US involvement. American complicity in the war is so broad in scope, it merited a warning last year from the US’s own State Department they could be liable for war crimes—yet it hardly merits a mention in major media accounts. The war just is, a collective moral failing on the part of “all parties”—irrational sectarian Muslims lost in a pat “cycle of violence” caricature.

   As momentum builds in Congress, animated by grassroots anti-war activists, to push back against the war and hold US lawmakers accountable, how the US contributes to the death and disease in the Arabian peninsula is of urgent political import. By erasing the US role in the war, CBS producers obscure for viewers the most effective way they can end the war: by pressuring their own lawmakers to stop supporting it. Instead, viewers are left with what filmmaker Adam Curtis calls “Oh, dearism”: the act of feeling distressed but ultimately helpless in the face of mindless cruelty—perpetrated, conveniently, by everyone but us.
© 2017 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson is a New York-based  journalist, a contributing analyst for, and co-host of the Citations Needed podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @adamjohnsonnyc

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

A call for a world without nuclear weapons

A call for a world without nuclear weapons
·         By Sara Cate
·         Nov 3, 2017
Republicans and Democrats have agreed on many issues over the years. Reducing the threat of nuclear war was, and I hope still is, an area of common ground. The Nobel Committee just awarded the 2017 Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), for their work in passing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Our current administration dismisses this historic treaty — they are wrong to do so. The U.S., and the people of Washington state, should heed this call and join the movement for a world without nuclear weapons.
As a physician and member of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (WPSR), a partner organization of ICAN, this issue is personal. Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I felt the risk of nuclear war was frighteningly real. While earning my masters in Public Health in the ’80s, I chose to study radiation health effects. The pictures of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are etched in my mind — many dying instantly, others through an agonizing death from radiation sickness. Those who survived faced increased risks of cancers and other health issues.
This became very personal when I worked in the Pacific islands. Many islanders were exposed to radiation fallout where the U.S., France and England had tested nuclear weapons. There, I met Darlene Keju, a young woman from the Marshall Islands, also passionate about public health, and we became fast friends. A few years later, Darlene died of breast cancer before reaching 40. I often wonder if she had not been exposed to radiation as a child, whether she would be alive today and we would be sharing stories about our children and future grandchildren.
WPSR has long argued that nuclear weapons are a major public health threat. Prevention is the only answer. There is no such thing as a winnable nuclear war.
The TPNW is the result of a decade-long campaign raising awareness about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. In Washington, we know these consequences all too well. Uranium mining for nuclear weapons on the Spokane Tribe of Indians’ reservation poisoned residents and their land. The Hanford nuclear site is the most contaminated place in the United States.
This treaty is a monumental step, expressly prohibiting nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use and threat of use. Nuclear weapons will join the ranks of other inhumane weapons declared illegal by international law.
The Nobel Committee stated that the “next steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons must involve nuclear-armed states.” This prize is a call for serious negotiations with a view to the careful elimination of the global stockpile of almost 15,000 nuclear weapons.
Current actions to rebuild our entire nuclear arsenal, to scrap the Iran deal, to provoke nuclear weapons states like North Korea, are taking us down a dangerous and foolhardy path. Our members of Congress should show bold leadership in the movement to eliminate our nuclear arsenals. Washington state must be a leader in this campaign.
* Sara Cate lives in Yakima.
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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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