Monday, November 30, 2015

The US Postal Service Is Spying On Us

Winnie Hong sorting packages before Christmas last year in San Francisco. (photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Winnie Hong sorting packages before Christmas last year in San Francisco. (photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The US Postal Service Is Spying On Us

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News
30 November 15

   The U.S. Postal Service is spying on us. And they’re not doing a very good job at it. I’m not talking about peeking into letters or looking at how many mutual fund statements you receive. I’m talking about the systematic collection of information on every single piece of mail you send or receive, including the names and addresses of the sender and recipient, without a warrant or oversight and without any explanation to the person being targeted.

    Indeed, the USPS Inspector General has even issued a report saying that the Postal Service “failed to properly safeguard documents that included the names, addresses, and financial information used by its law enforcement arm to monitor the mail of people suspected of criminal activities or for national security purposes.” The USPS “mail cover surveillance program” is poorly run, poorly managed, and could “reveal personally identifiable information and compromise the security of the mail,” the report said.
What makes this program particularly dangerous is that there is no judicial oversight, no appeals process, and no way of knowing why any one person is under surveillance or when the surveillance began or will end. I know. I’m under Postal Service surveillance.

   I served 23 months in prison for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program. After having been locked up for two months, I decided to commission a card from a very artistically-inclined prisoner for my wife’s 40th birthday. I sent it about two weeks before her birthday. She never received it. Finally, about four months later, the card was delivered back to me with a yellow “Return to Sender – Address Not Known” sticker on it. But underneath that sticker was a second yellow sticker. That one read, “Do Not Deliver. Hold For Supervisor. Cover Program.”

     Why was I under Postal Service Surveillance? I have no idea. I had had my day in court. The case was over. But remember, the Postal Service doesn’t have to answer to anybody – my attorneys, my judge, even its own Inspector General. It doesn’t need a warrant to spy on me (or my family) and it doesn’t have to answer even to a member of Congress who might inquire as to why the spying was happening in the first place.

    The problem is not just the sinister nature of a government agency (or quasi-government agency) spying on individuals with no probable cause or due process, although those are serious problems. It’s that the program is handled so poorly and so haphazardly that in some cases surveillance was initiated against individuals for no apparent law enforcement reason and that surveillance was initiated by Postal Service employees not even authorized to do so. Again, there is no recourse because the people under surveillance don’t even know that any of this is happening.

    Perhaps an even more disturbing aspect of the program is the fact that between 2000 and 2012, the Postal Service initiated an average of 8,000 mail cover requests per year. But in 2013, that number jumped to 49,000. Why? Nobody knows. And remember, the Postal Service doesn’t have to answer to anybody.

    So where does all this surveillance information end up? Much of it remains with the Postal Service, which is always looking for people illegally sending things (drugs, weapons, etc.) through the mail. A lot of it also goes to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

     But between 2011 and 2013, 800 “Special Mail Cover” operations were approved. These dealt with “national security.” Again, because there is no judicial or Congressional oversight, we don’t really know what this means. Does the information go to the FBI? The CIA? The Department of Homeland Security? Who knows? Is it used to target political opponents of the administration? Is it used to build cases against civil liberties activists? There aren’t any answers.

   The civil libertarian Reason Foundation wrote in early November that the system already is being grossly abused. The notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and an Arizona prosecutorused mail cover surveillance against a politician who criticized them. And a former FBI agent said the mail cover program is “So easy to use. You don’t have to go through a judge. You just fill out a form.”

    With that said, there’s at least some oversight. Federal prosecutors a few years ago charged a letter carrier with a felony for tipping off a customer on her route that he was under Postal Service surveillance. There’s justice for you.

   John Kiriakou is an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. He is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

  Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

C 2015 Reader Supported News

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

Russians May Have a Strong Case in Turkish Shootdown

Published on Portside (

Russians May Have a Strong Case in Turkish Shootdown

Charles J. Dunlap Jr.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The Hill

   The shootdown of the Russian Su-24 bomber [1] by Turkish F-16s [2] raises a number of critical issues under international law that the U.S. needs to carefully navigate. This is especially so since the result of the Turkish action was the apparently illegal killing by Syrian rebels of one of the Russian aircrew, as well as the possibly unlawful death of a Russian marine [3] attempting to rescue the downed aviators.

  While President Obama is certainly correct in saying [4] that "Turkey, like every country, has a right to defend its territory and its airspace," exactly how it may do so is more complicated than the president implies. In fact, the Russians may have strong legal arguments that any such right under international law was wrongly asserted in this instance.

When is self-defense triggered?

Article 51 of the U.N. charter [5] permits the use of force in the event of an "armed attack." However, in a 1986 case, the International Court of Justice concluded that a "mere frontier incident [6]" might constitute a breach of the U.N. charter, but did not necessarily trigger the right to use force absent a showing that the attack was of a significant scale and effect. Most nations also accept that states threatened with an imminent attack can respond in self-defense so long as they did not have under the circumstances "any means of halting the attack other than recourse to armed force [7]," as noted by Leo Van den hole in the American University International Law Review.

   The problem here is that the Turks are not asserting that any armed attack took place or, for that matter, that any armed attack was even being contemplated by the Russians. Instead, in a letter to the U.N. [8], the Turks only claimed that the Russians had "violated their national airspace to a depth of 1.36 to 1.15 miles in length for 17 seconds." They also say that the Russians were warned "10 times" (something the Russians dispute [9]) and that the Turkish jets fired upon them in accordance with the Turks' "rules of engagement." Of course, national rules of engagement cannot trump [10] the requirements of international law. Moreover, international law also requires any force in self-defense be proportional [11] to the threat addressed.

   Thus, the legal question is this: Is a mere 17-second border incursion of such significance and scale as to justify as "proportional" the use of deadly force as the only recourse — particularly where there is no indication that the Russians were going to actually attack anything on Turkish soil?

   The U.S., so far, is staying mum [12] about what it may know about the precise location of the planes (which the Russians insist never entered Turkish airspace). What is more is that even if the Russians had penetrated Turkish airspace, that fact alone would not necessarily legally authorize the use of force, absent a showing of hostile intent [13] (which the Turks are not alleging). Additionally, it is quite possible that the Russian aircraft may have penetrated Turkish airspace — if at all — because of a bona fide navigational misunderstanding [14] occasioned by the satellite guidance system the Russians employ. Navigation errors are not an adequate reason to use deadly force.

  In short, it appears at this point that the Turkish case justifying the use of deadly force is, at best, weak. Nevertheless, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said [15] that NATO stands "in solidarity with Turkey." However, it may have been more prudent to withhold judgment until all the facts are definitively known and a full legal analysis is complete. Why? Article 5 of the NATO treaty [16] governing self-defense tracks almost exactly with the Article 51 of the U.N. charter, so if the facts show illegality under international law, that would undercut the wisdom of NATO standing "in solidarity" with any nation.

The attack on the Russian aviator and marine

   Another important international law issue arose after the Russian aircraft was struck by the Turkish missiles. The two aviators ejected, but were attacked as they parachuted from their stricken aircraft — reportedly by elements of the Free Syrian Army. In the effort to rescue the downed aviators, one Russian marine was killed.

  It is extraordinarily well-settled that the law of war [17] prohibits making anyone parachuting from a distressed aircraft the object of attack, and that doing so is a war crime [18]. There is no real dispute among experts as to this reading of the law.

Regarding the Russian marine killed on the rescue operation [3], the law is more complex. Generally, a rescue effort is a military operation subject to lawful attack. 

  If, however, the aircraft was displaying the red cross or a similar internationally recognized medical emblem [19], and the aim was simply to provide medical care, the attack would likely be unjustified. Furthermore, given that shooting at parachuting aviators is itself a war crime, the effort to rescue them from patently illegal conduct may very well transform the incident into one where international law could find the marine's death an unlawful killing.

What it means for the U.S.

 Turkey is not only a highly valued U.S. and NATO ally, but also a key member of the international coalition opposing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That said, adherence to the rule of law is especially important in extremely unstable situations like that in Syria today. It is not the time or place for loose interpretations that can lead to unintended consequences. The U.S. also needs to keep in mind that there are several other volatile aeronautical situations around the globe — overflights in the South China Sea [20] being one — where U.S. interests are served by having legal restraints on the use of force meticulously observed.

  If Turkey was wrong on this one, the U.S. should say so, regardless of whatever other disputes we may have with the Russians. A friend should always tell a friend when they made a mistake. It really is that simple.

Dunlap is a retired Air Force major general who is currently executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke Law School.



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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Baltimore Activist Alert - November 30 - December 2, 2015

13] Urgent demo against Gitmo – Nov. 30
14] Printing the Bomb – Dec. 1
15] Protest Big Pharma – Dec. 1
16] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – Dec. 1
17] Vigil against JHU’s drone research – Dec. 1
18] ACLU holiday party – Dec. 1
19] Lawyer Up at Red Emma’s – Dec. 1
20] Film FAIRNESS RISING – Dec. 1
21] Afghanistan’s Future – Dec. 2
13] – An URGENT GUANTANAMO SOLIDARITY VIGIL is CALLED for noon on Mon., Nov. 30 at the White House by Witness Against Torture.  People of conscience will gather to keep the lives of the Guantanamo captives, so unjustly held by the United States, in the minds of the people.  he prisoners’ agonizing confinement has been decried by human rights activists and international lawyers around the world. Members of Witness Against Torture recently went to Cuba to participate in an international conference opposing the US Naval base at Guantanamo and have been holding vigil the last several days outside the prison camp in solidarity with those unjustly and indefinitely held.  Contact Malachy Kilbride, Witness Against Torture: 301 - 283-7627or

14] –On Tues., Dec. 1 from 10:30 AM to noon, Tristan Volpe, Carnegie Endowment, Matthew Kroenig, Georgetown University, and Bruce Goodwin, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will discuss "3-D Printing the Bomb? The Challenge for Nuclear Nonproliferation" at the Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, WDC 20036. RSVP at

15] – Get over to PhRMA HQ, 950 F St. NW, WDC, on Tues., Dec. 1 at noon as pharmaceutical companies are charging unaffordable prices for new drugs and raising prices on generic and current medications.  There are new drugs to CURE Hepatitis C in 3 months with few side effects yet it costs $80,000.  Hepatitis C is a deadly disease that disproportionately affects African American, Latino, and Native people, many who are under- and uninsured, creating a racist impact.  Many insurance programs require doctors to treat people only when they have a severe disease.  States without expanded Medicaid will not cover this care, and the Trans-Pacific Trade agreement protects drug company profits. Join the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association (MWPHA) and DC Fights Back.  Email or call 301-356-5087.  

16] – 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 Dec. 1.  Call 215-426-0364.

17] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil on Dec. 1  from 5:30 to 6:30  PM.  Call Max at 410-366-1637.

18] – Come to the Laughing Man Tavern, 1306 G St. NW, WDC, on Tues., Dec. 1 from 6 to 8 PM and kick-off the holiday season with ACLU-DC as it partakes in good food, drinks, and conversation. Go to

19] – Catch up on the Lawyer Up Series: Reducing Police in Schools on Tues. Dec. 1 at 6:30 PM @ Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201.  Presented through a partnership between the Baltimore Algebra Project and the Baltimore Action Legal Team, a panel will discuss the issues of criminalization in schools (school to prison pipeline), how school police operate in Baltimore, the rights of students in relation to police in schools and on the street, and organizing around school policing.  An open forum for questions will conclude the event. The panel participants are Tara Huffman, Director, Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program, Open Society Institute-Baltimore, Jenny Egan, Asst. Public Defender with the Juvenile Division of the Office of the Public Defender., and Tre Murphy, Organizer, Baltimore BLOC.  Call 443-602-7585.  Go to

20] – See FAIRNESS RISING at the Potter's House, 1658 Columbia Rd. NW, WDC, on Tues., Dec. 1 at 7 PM.  Washington D.C.’s Franklin Square is famous for its hundreds of unhoused patrons who congregate there daily. Less known is the stately building that haunts its eastern end: Franklin School, the shelter that used to house them. Formed in response to the shelter’s closing, People for Fairness coalition – an advocacy group made up of unhoused and formerly unhoused men and women – sought to stand up for themselves and the city’s most vulnerable, when they realized no one else would. Experience a year with these amazing men and women as they architect two powerful events that silently shake the city, portending an imminent political quake. They will stop at nothing short of housing for all, but will the brutal winters that increasingly claim the lives of their friends, family and those they serve silence their stride?

The film is 30 minutes long and will be followed by a discussion by the filmmakers and current People for Fairness members, moderated by Elizabeth Falcon from CNHED's Housing For All Campaign. The discussion will include the film making process as well as current activities and issues led by People For Fairness Coalition and homeless self-advocates. Go to

21] – Catch a Roundtable Discussion on Afghanistan's Future with General Jamal Abdul-Nasir Sediqi, Deputy Minister of Interior, on Wed., Dec. 2 from 10 to 11:30 AM at the Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, 8th Floor, WDC 20036.  RSVP at  General Jamal Abdul-Nasir Sediqi, Deputy Minister of Interior for Public Protection Forces and Security Enterprises for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will provide his current perspective on the key challenges and needs facing Afghanistan as foreign troops prepare to depart, including the needs of the security services and areas for continued support from the U.S. and international community. This event invitation is non transferrable and the event is off the record.  Also speaking are Amb. Ronald E. Neumann, President, American Academy of Diplomacy. And Jason Campbell, Associate Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation.

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] 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 

Former Drone Operators Are 'Horrified' by the Cruelty of the Assassination Program

Drone pilots. (photo: Getty)
Drone pilots. (photo: Getty)

   Former Drone Operators Are 'Horrified' by the Cruelty of the Assassination Program

By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept
27 November 15

    U.S. drone operators are inflicting heavy civilian casualties and have developed an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents, four former operators said at a press briefing today in New York.

    The killings, part of the Obama administration's targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program's goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. Drone operators refer to children as "fun-size terrorists" and liken killing them to "cutting the grass before it grows too long," said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.

     In addition to Haas, the operators are former Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bryant along with former senior airmen Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis. The men have conducted kill missions in many of the major theaters of the post-9/11 war on terror, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We have seen the abuse firsthand," said Bryant, "and we are horrified."

    An Air Force spokesperson did not address the specific allegations but wrote in an email that "the demands placed on the [drone] force are tremendous. A great deal of effort is being taken to bring about relief, stabilize the force, and sustain a vital warfighter capability. … Airmen are expected to adhere to established standards of behavior. Behavior found to be inconsistent with Air Force core values is appropriately looked into and if warranted, disciplinary action is taken."

     Beyond the press conference, the group also denounced the program yesterday in an interview with The Guardian and in an open letter addressed to President Obama.
At the press conference, Bryant said the killing of civilians by drone is exacerbating the problem of terrorism. "We kill four and create 10 [militants]," Bryant said. "If you kill someone's father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge."

    The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to keep details of the drone program secret, but in their statements today the former operators opened up about the culture that has developed among those responsible for carrying it out. Haas said operators become acculturated to denying the humanity of the people on their targeting screens. "There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring," he said. "Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for."

    The deaths of children and other non-combatants in strikes was rationalized by many drone operators, Haas said. As a flight instructor, Haas claimed to have been non-judicially reprimanded by his superiors for failing a student who had expressed "bloodlust," an overwhelming eagerness to kill.

Haas also described widespread alcohol and drug abuse among drone pilots. Drone operators, he said, would frequently get intoxicated using bath salts and synthetic marijuana to avoid possible drug testing and in an effort to "bend that reality and try to picture yourself not being there." Haas said that he knew at least a half-dozen people in his unit who were using bath salts and that drug use had "impaired" them during missions.
The Obama administration's assassination program has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. This October, The Intercept published a cache of classified documents leaked by a government whistleblower that showed how the program killed people based on unreliable intelligence, that the vast majority of people killed in a multi-year Afghanistan campaign were not the intended targets, and that the military by default labeled non-targets killed in the campaign as enemies rather than civilians.

The operators said that they felt increasing urgency to speak out in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last week; they believe drone assassinations have fed the rise of the extremist group the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Westmoreland said of drones: "In the short term they're good at killing people, but in the long term they're not effective. There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what's going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them."

In their open letter to Obama, the former drone pilots made a similar point, writing that during their service they "came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS," going on to describe the program as "one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."

At the press conference today, the pilots echoed these sentiments. "It seems like our actions of late have only made the problems worse. … The drones are good at killing people, just not the right ones," Bryant said. "Have we forgotten our humanity in the pursuit of vengeance and security?"

C 2015 Reader Supported News

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

Baltimore Activist Alert Nov. 29 –December 1, 2015

Baltimore Activist Alert Nov. 29 –December 1, 2015

"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  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 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at]

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] “How Are We Treating Ex-offenders” -- Nov. 29
7] March for the Climate Nov. 29
8] Pentagon Vigil – Nov. 30
9] Support the memory of Freddie Gray – Nov. 30
10] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Nov. 30 – Dec. 4
11] Say no to privatization – Nov. 30
12] Giving Tuesday – Dec. 1
1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

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

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  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 You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA CafĂ© 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 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

5] – Janice and Max are looking to buy a house in Baltimore.  Let Max know if you have any leads—410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

6] – 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 Nov. 29 hear the address “How Are We Treating Ex-offenders.”  Do Ex-Offenders really get a second chance? Are we aware of the collateral consequences of incarceration? Are we aware of our personal biases against returning citizens? What can we do to ensure that returning citizens regain their full rights?  Monica Cooper is a graduate of the University of Baltimore and a proud member of the International Honor Society of two year colleges Phi Theta Kappa. As the Co-founder of Maryland Justice Project she has work tirelessly to change the conversation around incarceration and the justice system in the United States. Call 410-581-2322 or email

7] – The weekend before the Paris climate talks, all around the world people will be coming together in massive global weekend of action that will make sure global heads of state know that the entire world expects them to take nothing less than dramatic action to shut down the fossil fuel industry and build the renewable energy we need. Be in D.C. for a creative, art-filled action just outside the White House! This event is part of the Global Climate March. On Nov. 30, world leaders meet in Paris to start negotiating the next global climate deal. That’s why, the day before, people around the world will take to the streets and push leaders at every level of government to commit to 100% clean energy. Together, we can push the world towards a climate deal that gets us off dirty energy and unleashes clean energy for all. Let's make history!  Go to the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, WDC 20500, on Sun., Nov. 29 at 2 PM.  Go to

There is a carpool to D.C. leaving at noon from the Broken Land WEST Park and Ride at MD 32 & Broken Land Pkwy.  Sign up to be part of our group which carpools from Columbia MD to the Greenbelt Metro and then to the White House. RSVP with your name and cell phone number --  See

8] -- 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., Nov. 30, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email 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. 

9] – The Peoples Power Assembly is calling for action.  On Mon., Nov. 30 starting at 8:30 AM protest at the police trial in the Freddie Gray case at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouses, 100 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21202.  The protest will continue through the day.  Also join the rally at 5:30 PM.  Visit

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

11] – You are needed on Mon., Nov. 30 to Say No to Privatizing DLC.  Don’t say good bye to 350 Union Jobs, or let $35 Million in annual revenue slip away.  PACK THE HOUSE. Protect jobs and county on Mon., Nov. 30. Sign in at 6:15 PM in the 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Stella Werner Council Office Bldg., 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850. Enjoy pizza and drinks beforehand.  RSVP at  Email Alicia Valentin at

12 – Tuesday, Dec. 1 is Giving Tuesday.  Support the Washington Peace Center, 1525 Newton St. NW, WDC.  Start the giving season by supporting peace and justice in D.C. Become a sustaining donor to the Peace Center at $10 or $20 a month and sustain this work for another year. Plus, you’ll get an awesome WPC t-shirt AND a free ticket to the Activist Awards in March! Go to

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] 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 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why It Makes No Sense for Labor Unions to Endorse Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Why It Makes No Sense for Labor Unions to Endorse Hillary Clinton

By Michael Sainato, Observer
27 November 15

Given her record for flip flopping, unions should be weary of endorsing her candidacy

     In June 2015, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told 1,300 fast food workers, "I want to be your champion," and that she supported their push for a $15 minimum wage.

     Despite such a pledge, her support of their cause was more of a Faustian strategy than one of genuine interest. Ms. Clinton recently endorsed a $12 minimum wage. Her opponents, Senator Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley both voiced their support for a $15 minimum wage early in their campaigns, but it took until early November for Ms. Clinton to affirm her stance on the issue.

      The fight for a $15 minimum wage has been a staple for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has spent millions to push it into the mainstream American consciousness—which is why their recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton makes no sense for the organization. Several SEIU members agree, with rifts in the organization over the endorsement, and the New Hampshire SEIU Chapter formally endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders in retaliation for the decision.

     Ms. Clinton's political expediency on the minimum wage issue isn't the only ploy she has used to gain favor of labor unions. She has distanced herself from Wal-Mart, where she served as a board member from 1986-1992, while the corporation waged campaigns against labor unions seeking to unionize store workers. There is no evidence she ever vocalized her support for labor unions, and ABC News obtained videos of several board meetings she attended and remained silent as her fellow board members worked out anti-union strategies. The New York Times reported in 2007 that Ms. Clinton maintains close ties to Wal-Mart executives, but omits her past affiliation with the company in her speeches and website. At the time of her appointment to Wal-Mart's board, she held nearly $100,000 in stock and was a lawyer with the Rose Law Firm, which represented the company in several cases. Her current campaign treasurer, Jose Villareal, has also spent decades on boards of Wal-Mart and other companies run by their owners, the Walton family.

       In addition to an endorsement from the SEIU, Ms. Clinton received endorsements from the nation's largest teachers union, the National Education Association. The decision has also created a rift within the union, with several state and local chapters protesting the endorsement. The American Federation of Teachers' endorsement Ms. Clinton resulted in a similar rift among its members—many opponents to the endorsement feel it undermines the democratic process to endorse a candidate before the primaries, which is why several unions still have not endorsed any candidate at all, including the nation's largest organization of labor unions, the AFL-CIO.

       The Clintons' history with teacher unions isn't a positive one. The Washington Post recently reported during Bill Clinton's tenure as Governor of Arkansas, teacher unions hated the Clintons after they supported an education bill in Arkansas staunchly opposed by teacher unions, despite the generous campaign contributions and support given to Bill Clinton in his initial election to Congress in 1974. Given Ms. Clinton's penchant for flip flopping or waiting to affirm her stance on key issues until a favorable political side has revealed itself, teacher unions should have been more wary and at least held off endorsing a candidate until after the primaries.

      During her current presidential campaign, Ms. Clinton hesitated in her disapproval of Keystone XL and the Trans Pacific Partnership until the majority of labor unions had vocalized their opposition to the deals, and made it clear she would have to oppose them if she wanted their support. After she obliged, several unions came through with their endorsement even though her affirming stance in opposition came months after Mr. Sanders'. Her initial involvement in setting up the deals while serving as Secretary of State should have been enough indication for labor unions to steer clear of endorsing the frontrunner candidate, who is more than likely not to hold their best interests to heart if she is elected.

     The donor network of the Clinton Foundation should have also deterred labor unions from endorsing her. In 41 years, their foundation has received nearly $3 billion in contributions, most of which are from large corporations or their executives. Labor unions are deluding themselves if they believe Ms. Clinton is going to fight for their interests over those of corporations.

C 2015 Reader Supported News

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"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