March On!

Yesterday evening Tina and I went to a Get Equal sponsored screening of the documentary film March On!

The film is a gentle reminder of why so many of us started marching for so many causes and have continued marching for those causes, be they peace and freedom, equality and justice or love and dignity.

Sometime we march for ourselves, sometimes for others.

I felt so renewed by this film.

When I was a kid marching for the rights of the Vietnamese to choose their own form of government without outside interference there were old CP folks and veterans of the Spanish Civil War marching beside us, survivors of the McCarthy era.  There was Morris Kight and Harry Hay, Barbara Gittings, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, founders of the modern gay and lesbian movement.

Now I am the old timer still marching, still speaking out.

It must be the ghost of Joe Hill or Mother Jones, Emma Goldman or Lucy Parsons.  Maybe standing up for justice and equality is just the right thing to do.

Go see this film if it show at a benefit for an organization you support or as part of a film festival.  Maybe it will show on PBS, if we can save PBS or on Logo if they ever decide to show serious films.

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Shoppers Wary of GM Foods Find They’re Everywhere

From Common Dreams:

by Mary Clare Jalonick

Published on Friday, February 25, 2011 by the Associated Press

You may not want to eat genetically engineered foods. Chances are, you are eating them anyway.

Genetically modified plants grown from seeds engineered in labs now provide much of the food we eat. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States have been genetically modified to resist pesticides or insects, and corn and soy are common food ingredients.

The Agriculture Department has approved three more genetically engineered crops in the past month, and the Food and Drug Administration could approve fast-growing genetically modified salmon for human consumption this year.

Agribusiness and the seed companies say their products help boost crop production, lower prices at the grocery store and feed the world, particularly in developing countries. The FDA and USDA say the engineered foods they’ve approved are safe — so safe, they don’t even need to be labeled as such — and can’t be significantly distinguished from conventional varieties.

Organic food companies, chefs and consumer groups have stepped up their efforts — so far, unsuccessfully — to get the government to exercise more oversight of engineered foods, arguing the seeds are floating from field to field and contaminating pure crops. The groups have been bolstered by a growing network of consumers who are wary of processed and modified foods.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture

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Time to show our power

From Socialist Worker:

Unions have the strength to block everything in Scott Walker’s union-busting bill.

February 24, 2011

THE BATTLE for Wisconsin’s future has come to a crossroads–and the movement that has electrified the country with its opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-labor assault needs to step up the fight to win.

Last week, the capitol building in downtown Madison took on the spirit and feel of Cairo’s Tahrir Square as growing numbers of workers and students, first from Madison and then from around the state and the country, occupied the building and took over the grounds around it.

Their determined spirit–and action–pressured Senate Democrats to boycott a session where Walker and the Republicans were ready to ram through a proposal that would effectively cut state workers’ wages by 5 to 7 percent and cripple public-sector unions by virtually destroying collective bargaining.

This week, though, Republicans are vowing not to make any concessions, and Walker recruited enough police from around the state to push protesters out of sections of the capitol building. Senate Democrats are still boycotting the session, denying Republicans the quorum they need to conduct most business. But the movement against Walker’s anti-union assault needs to regain the initiative.

Walker’s threat to lay off 1,500 state workers if his proposal isn’t passed by Friday is aimed at breaking workers’ resolve. But it’s more obvious than ever what Walker is after–his premeditated intention to destroy organized labor was highlighted in a recorded conversation with a blogger pretending to be union-hating billionaire David Koch.

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Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.

Not to belabor a point, but I have been telling people they MUST READ Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” ever since I started this blog.

From The New York Times:

Published: February 24, 2011

Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad — specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.

As many readers may recall, the results were spectacular — in a bad way. Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” — Mr. Bremer’s words, not the reporter’s — and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.”

The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

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Marriage Equality in Maryland

From The Advocate:

By Julie Bolcer

February 24, 2011

The Maryland marriage equality bill cleared a crucial hurdle Thursday evening when senators voted 25-21 to pass the bill on the third and final reading. The measure now heads to the house of delegates, where approval is anticipated. Gov. Martin O’Malley has pledged to sign the bill.

Senators convened in the evening for less than one hour of debate, passing the bill shortly before 6:30 p.m. Check back with soon for reactions on the historic approval.

The final approval capped two days of debate in the senate. In an earlier session Thursday morning, senators for and against the marriage equality bill presented their arguments. Speakers in support included Rich Madaleno, the first openly gay Maryland state senator, who spoke poignantly of what the proposal means for the two children he shares with his partner, Mark.

Madaleno told a story about parenthood in which his young daughter asked, “Daddy, will you hold my wishes for me?”

Sen. Bryan Simonaire, an opponent of the bill who tried but failed to advance an amendment Wednesday to exempt public school teachers from teaching marriage equality, continued with his dire warnings of “unintended consequences” if the measure is passed.

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The asshole arguing against same sex marriage are the same asshole who argued against inter-racial marriage.  They are ignorant bigots.

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Study: US wasted billions in Iraq, Afghanistan

If the Republi-Nazis were really interested in saving tax payers money they would support ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as bring the troops home from around the world.

Since private business claims they can do everything cheaper than the government, perhaps we should pay the mercenaries working for the war corporations say 2/3s what we pay our actual military personnel.

Perhaps austerity should start with the Military Industrial Complex and the Prison Industrial Complex.

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, February 24th, 2011

WASHINGTON – Corruption and waste has cost the US government billions of reconstruction dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an official study on wartime contracting released on Thursday.

The report found that “criminal behavior and blatant corruption” were responsible for much of the waste related to the nearly $200 billion spent since 2002 on US reconstruction and other projects in the two countries.

It did not give exact figures, but cited the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report to Congress in January that found efforts were at clear risk because of poor planning and insufficient oversight.

Another estimate in the “Commission on Wartime Contracting” report found that losses to fraud alone in both war zones could be as high as $12 billion.

“When it comes to oversight of contingency contracting, we’ve been driving beyond the reach of our headlights. Reforms are badly needed,” said the report.

“For many years, the government has abdicated its contracting responsibilities — too often using contractors as the default mechanism — without consideration for the resources needed to manage them.”

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Don’t Sit on the Sidelines — This Saturday, Be Part of the Uprising Sweeping the Country from Wisconsin to Your Home Town

We plan on going to a local rally sponsored by Move On…

From Alternet:–_this_saturday%2C_be_part_of_the_uprising_sweeping_the_country_from_wisconsin_to_your_home_town_/

A huge coalition of progressive groups have organized rallies across the country to stand up against harsh budget cuts and tax cheats, and protect the middle class.

By Joshua Holland

February 25, 2011 |

Noam Chomsky was asked in a recent interview whether it’s possible to make our government work for ordinary Americans rather than a rarified elite. “What has to be done,” he replied, “is what’s happening in Madison, or what’s happening in Tahrir Square in Cairo. If there’s mass popular opposition, any political leader is going to have to respond to it, whoever they are.”

Today, we may be seeing the emergence of just such a force in American politics. This Saturday, the sleeping giant will stir as progressives across the country rally in solidarity with public-sector workers and in opposition to the draconian cuts to our already threadbare safety net proposed by the Tea Party-infused GOP.

There’s a new militancy in the air. Inspired not only by the protesters standing tall in Wisconsin, Ohio and a half-dozen other states but also by the seismic upheaval taking place around the world, progressive America, long overshadowed by the media-friendly Tea Parties, will show up in force in all 50 states this Saturday to demand that budgets aren’t balanced on the backs of working people and the most vulnerable among us.

In Wisconsin, there has even been talk of organizing a general strike, an event not seen in this country since the 1930s, if right-wing Governor Scott Walker manages to push his union-busting bill through the legislature. Labor hasn’t flexed its muscles like that for generations, but there is a growing sense that we, as working people, face a defining moment in our democracy.

On Saturday, there will be two opportunities to make your voice heard above the astroturfed right-wing din. First, a coalition of grassroots progressive groups are staging a nationwide “Rally to Save the American Dream” in front of every state house in the country at noon local time to express support for the working people of Wisconsin.


You can find out more about the Rally to Save the American Dream, and get involved in the action, here.

The other major actions this weekend are being organized by US Uncut, which is targeting the corporate power behind the elites’ assault on our middle-class. Modeled on the UK Uncut movement that was organized to push back against the “austerity” measures being imposed by the Cameron government (and inspired by an excellent essay by Johann Hari titled, “How to Build a Progressive Tea Party”), they have an exceedingly simple yet powerful message: there is a simple alternative to imposing economic pain on working people to balance budgets: make corporate tax cheats pay.

Complete article at:–_this_saturday%2C_be_part_of_the_uprising_sweeping_the_country_from_wisconsin_to_your_home_town_/

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Zinnia Jones

Right-wing unsettled by tomorrow’s NJUnion Rally

From Blue Jersey:
by: Rosi Efthim
Thu Feb 24, 2011 at 10:21:31 PM EST
First of all, what’s Rick Shaftan, consultant/pollster to far-right candidates like Steve Lonegan, doing trolling at the NJ Against Chris Christie facebook group (43,000 members)? Check it out: (h/t ken bank)

Shaftan Screen shot

Dude, what’s up with the sneering? the name-calling?

Tomorrow’s rally is going to be big. That’s going to be bad for the conservatives, whose argument depends on pitting New Jerseyans against each other, and getting non-union workers to resent union workers. Wisconsin was evidence of a pendulum swing of ordinary people in defense of fair bargaining. That swing can happen here in Trenton tomorrow noon, even though our governor’s spent a year making himself famous for propagandizing public workers.

Don’t let Shaftan plant the idea that tomorrow’s rally will be anything but big, successful and peaceful. Madison was. The city-to-city rallies have been (counter-rallies, small). That’s got to be a challenge for the right. They’d like nothing more than trouble to discredit us. That’s why we now know from the recording made when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker thought he was talking to his benefactor David Koch, that Walker considered infiltrating the peaceful rally with troublemakers, but ditched it because it might not work (not because it was wrong). The call, a prank, showed Walker up as an irresponsible, dangerous fool. In fact, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray had some serious questions for Governor Walker today. Wray:

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Yes, America Still Needs Unions

From Truthdig:

By Joe Conason
Posted on Feb 23, 2011

“There was once a need for unions, but they’ve outlived their purpose,” said a nice lady interviewed on the radio in Tennessee just the other day. Annoyed by the spectacle of tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, cops and other public employees rallying to protect their rights in Wisconsin, she was saying what more than a few Americans think about the labor movement.

They ought to think again—unless they want their children and grandchildren to become the peons of a corporate oligarchy.

Behind the vague notion that unions are somehow obsolete is the suggestion that workers—and their families—are amply protected by the law’s provisions prohibiting child labor and mandating minimum wages, safe working conditions, overtime pay and all the other standards that we now take for granted.

But if you listen carefully to “conservatives” of the ilk of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and billionaire financier David Koch, you’ll learn that they want to do away with most if not all of those advances, hard won by the labor movement and its allies over the past century. Their core belief is that the state should never interfere with capital—and therefore every law defending workers or consumers is a constitutional abomination. Their ultimate project is to return this country to the absolute dominion of the wealthy that existed before the rise of the Progressive Movement and the New Deal.

Politicians like Walker know better than to articulate their goals so unappealingly. Invariably, they prefer to talk about fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, hoping that nobody will notice (in Wisconsin or Washington) how they squander vast sums on tax breaks for the wealthy while demanding “sacrifice” from the middle class and the poor. Breaking unions is the only way, they tell us, to restore jobs and ensure prosperity.

But if you thumb back through the pages of our economic history over the past hundred years or so, a number of obvious facts stand out. First, the United States enjoyed a far better distribution of income and a steady improvement of our productivity and power when the labor movement was strong. Second, labor always struggled to expand human and civil rights for everyone, whether or not they happened to belong to unions. And third, the success of labor’s effort toward a more equitable society ensured broad prosperity for decades. As labor’s power diminished, income and wealth skewed upward—and helped drive the economy into stagnation and recession.

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PayPal cuts service to group supporting Bradley Manning: report

From Raw Story:

By Sahil Kapur
Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Online payment provider PayPal has apparently frozen the account of Courage to Resist, a group raising funds to support US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the whistleblower accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.

The group said Thursday in a media advisory that PayPal recently chose to freeze its account — created in 2006 — after it began soliciting donations to support Manning. The 23-year-old, arrested in May, could face charges of espionage or treason.

He is currently being held in solitary confinement in a Virginia maximum security prison, where he sits alone in a cell for 23 out of 24 hours each day, according to Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald.

PayPal did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to Courage to Resist, the “Bradley Manning Defense Fund” — run in collaboration with the Bradley Manning Support Network — has raised a total of $176,250 from 2,801 individuals, and an additional $60,640 for Manning’s legal trust account.

“We’ve been in discussions with PayPal for weeks, and by their own admission there’s no legal obligation for them to close down our account,” said Loraine Reitman of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “This was an internal policy decision by PayPal.”

The group said PayPal declined to provide documentation of its policies regarding the matter.

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Julian Assange plea after extradition defeat: ‘Make this case bigger than me’

From The Guardian UK:

WikiLeaks chief must answer sex charges, judge says, as court dismisses fears over fair trial in Sweden

Esther Addley, Thursday 24 February 2011

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, will be extradited to Sweden to answer accusations of rape and sexual assault, a judge has ruled, bringing to an close the first stage of what is now likely to be a lengthy legal battle.

Assange, who has been fighting extradition since being arrested in Britain in December, must face interrogation in Sweden on the sex assault claims, ruled chief magistrate Howard Riddle, rejecting arguments that the prosecutor seeking his extradition had behaved illegally and was unqualified to issue a warrant, and that he would not receive a fair trial.

But if the judgment had been widely anticipated by both sides, the Australian’s decision to appeal against the ruling was, he told reporters afterwards, never in question. “What we saw today was a rubber-stamping process. It came as no surprise, but is nonetheless wrong. Of course, we always knew we would appeal.”

He now has seven days to lodge an appeal, otherwise extradition would automatically take place within 10 days. His solicitor, Mark Stephens, who called the ruling an example of “tick-box justice”, insisted he was “still hopeful that the matter will be resolved in this country. We still remain very optimistic about our opportunities on appeal.”

Outside court Assange, who remains on bail subject to curfew conditions, preferred not to assert his innocence of the accusations but to appeal instead to public opinion in Sweden and internationally over what he sought to portray as an unjust legal system.

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