Archive for September, 2012

Austin’s Picks – poetry from Ramallah

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Suheir Hammad Peforms in Ramallah on Vimeo

Suheir Hammad Peforms in Ramallah from Palestine Festival of Literature on Vimeo.

Thanks to Austin

New Economics? Is there another way?

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

I like some aspects of free markets. As a craftsman who has made a living at times in my life building and remodeling houses, I like the idea that I can trade my time and skills in a relatively free manner for money or other goods that I want or need. More and more I find I don’t really want too much stuff. I have a houseful of stuff. It comes and goes. I don’t buy much in the way of new stuff. We are awash in consumer goods in the US and if you turn off regular television and cable and stop reading the newspaper, your consumer programming falls away pretty fast in my experience, so I just am not all that familiar with the stuff that the consumer culture thinks I should be craving.

I think consumer culture and rampant capitalism is the downside of the free market. I like Medicare. I like Social Security. I like public education. I think it should be free and include higher education. I think that means I like socialism.

But try to sell socialism to the US electorate with the consumer capitalists in charge of the media. It’s going to be a tough sell.

I am throwing up this piece by Gar Alperovitz. I will watch it in a day or two. Maybe he has some thoughts about new economic systems that I will find appealing. Maybe you will find something here also. Hope so.

Gar Alperovitz – Our Time in History: The Possibility of Fundamental System Change from New Economics Institute on Vimeo.

People’s Movement Assembly October 20, 2012

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
October 20, 2012
10:00 amto6:00 pm

A Day of Interactive Workshops  @ The Evergreen State College

Presented by Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace   & The Evergreen State College

Saturday October 20th    10:00am—6:00pm

Lecture Hall 1  &  Seminar 2  Classrooms
Network   Strategize   Plan   Organize   Act

TOPICS INCLUDE:
Alternative Politics,  Gender Justice,   Student Debt,  Organizing 101,  Local Food,  Capitalism & Corporate Personhood,   Erasing Racism,  Prisons & Prisoners,  Environmental Justice,  Police Accountability,  Venezuela Today,  The Wars,   Our Nuclear World,   Current Economic Crisis,  Alternative Media,  Anarchists Anonymous,   Cooling a Fevered Planet,  And more…
ALL ARE WELCOME.

CHILDCARE AVAILABLE.

NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED

Dr. Michael Parenti, October 19, 2012

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
October 19, 2012
6:00 pmto9:00 pm

Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace  and The Evergreen State College welcome Dr. Michael Parenti from Berkley,  to Olympia on October 19th as the keynote speaker for the 4th Annual People’s Movement Assembly.

Lecture Hall 1, The Evergreen State College

All Welcome.   No Charge.

6-7pm meet & greet.  

7-9pm lecture on  Ecology Wars and the 1% Pathology

Who is Dr. Parenti?  Why would you want to join us?

Check out:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelParentiOrg

Ocean Report

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

A couple of items on things oceanic came to my attention this week.

NYT had a story on collapse of the cod fishery:

The Shocking News About Cod

The ideal fish for human consumption would mature quickly and reproduce in staggering numbers.

Courtesy Wiki Commons NOAA

This does not describe the Atlantic cod. Cod mature late — at 4 to 6 years old — and they can live as long as 25 years. Female cod do, in fact, produce astonishing numbers of eggs. But older cod lay two or three times as many eggs as younger cod. This means that a healthy cod population must include relatively large numbers of older fish.

For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

A recent survey of cod catches in Northern Europe shows exactly the opposite. Extrapolating from survey numbers, scientists at a British government fisheries agency estimate that there are nearly 200 million 1-year-old cod in the North Sea but only 18 million 3-year-olds. As for older cod, the numbers are shocking. The survey team estimates that in 2011 there were only 600 12- to 13-year-old cod, a third of which were caught, and not a single fish older than 13 has been caught in the past year.

Read the whole article? Important stuff.

Paul Pickett in Oly shared this new NOAA app that shows sea level rise and coastal impacts. We have been talking in Oly about actions by the Washington State Department of Ecology. DOE has blocked a shoreline plan in Jefferson County that prohibited pen fish farming. This is the industrial practice of raising fish such as Atlantic salmon in pens. We don’t healthy fisheries if we can raise fish to eat in pens. Ecology is also stepping in on the the Olympia shoreline plan in ways that may help the Port of Olympia and thwart environmental action that has wide public support. We are talking in Olympia about how regulatory agencies can be captured by the industries they regulate and what we can do about it.

I think we have to ask the right question and that question is “why would regulatory agencies thwart reasonable environmental actions?” The answer is profit, capitalism; economic interests are in control and dictate to us all. Disaster capitalism. Disaster, capitalism. Disaster. Capitalism.

Here is the sea level rise app. NOAA is not a regulatory agency per ser, more of a pure science agency. It’s harder to capture science agencies than it is to capture regulatory agencies who are able to weigh science against economic interests.

It’s kind of tragic and ironic that we are both depleting the ocean and increasing the ocean’s coverage of the planet at the same time. The Greenland ice cap is melting. Start looking hard at the sea level rise application and plan accordingly. There are going to be some opportunities for profit in the coming troubles.

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer

NOAA Coastal Services Center

Features

  • Displays potential future sea levels
  • Provides simulations of sea level rise at local landmarks
  • Communicates the spatial uncertainty of mapped sea levels
  • Models potential marsh migration due to sea level rise
  • Overlays social and economic data onto potential sea level rise
  • Examines how tidal flooding will become more frequent with sea level rise

Overview

View the current status of the tool.

Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.

Launch Now

Acknowledgements

The NOAA Coastal Services Center would like to acknowledge those organizations that provided direct content used in this tool or feedback, ideas, and reviews over the course of the tool’s development. Specifically the Center would like to acknowledge the following groups.

Here is the link to the main page for this NOAA app.

No Minority, No Majority. There Shall Just Be People.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Biko!

You are not forgotten.

Struggle. Resist. Live and Work for Justice.

The Verdict and Response from the Corrie’s Attorney

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

This ran in Haaretz after the verdict in the civil case brought over the killing of Rachel Corrie.  The Rachel Corrie Foundation forwarded the piece.

Rachel Corrie: Blaming the victim

Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, who represented Rachel Corrie’s family in its suit against Israel, says they knew from the beginning that it would be an uphill battle to find truth and justice in an Israeli court.

By Hussein Abu Hussein Sep.02, 2012 | 10:13 AM

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/rachel-corrie-blaming-the-victim.premium-1.462179

On Tuesday, Judge Oded Gershon of the Haifa District Court dismissed the civil lawsuit I brought on behalf of Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for the unlawful killing of their daughter, an American peace activist and human rights defender who legally entered Gaza to live with Palestinian families in Rafah whose homes were threatened by demolition.

While not surprising, the verdict is yet another example of impunity prevailing over accountability and fairness and it flies in the face of the fundamental principle of international humanitarian law – that in a time of war, military forces are obligated to take all measures to avoid harm to both civilians and their property.

It is not the first time courts have denied victims of Israeli military actions the right to effective remedy. Just ask the many Palestinians who have faced a myriad of legal hurdles and fought for decades simply to have their day in court. Thousands of legitimate claims continue to be denied based on the controversial legal theory – which Judge Gershon adopted – that soldiers should be absolved of civil liability because they were engaged in military operational activities in a war zone.

Rachel’s case is unique because she was the first foreign national to be killed while protesting Israeli occupation, though she was hardly the last. Tom Hurndall, a British peace activist, was shot in the head and killed by an Israeli sniper less than three weeks after Rachel was killed. And less than a month after that, James Miller, a British cameraman was also shot and killed by the IDF in Rafah.

In reaching his decision in Rachel’s case, Judge Gershon accepted virtually all of the government’s legal arguments and either ignored or distorted critical facts in order to reach his decision. For example, he concluded that Rafah was a closed military zone, as declared by the Israeli military’s southern command (never mind that no such order was presented in court, and the ground unit commander testified he was unaware of the area’s designation as a closed zone). And that conclusion had implications.

When the former Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade Commander Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz, who was in charge in 2003, testified, he confirmed that the rules of engagement at the time Rachel was killed were to “shoot to kill any adult person on the [Philadelphi] route.” As another Israeli colonel who testified put it: “There are no civilians in a war zone.” By accepting the testimony of Zuaretz and others, Judge Gershon essentially accepted that the “shoot to kill” order was acceptable, which violates the fundamental tenets of international humanitarian law, mandating that soldiers distinguish between combatants and civilians.

We knew from the beginning that it would be an uphill battle to find truth and justice, but we are convinced that this verdict not only distorts the strong evidence presented in court, but also contradicts fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in Rachel Corrie’s killing, this verdict is part of a systemic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights. As former U.S. President Jimmy Carter put it: “The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory.”

The Corrie family has always stressed that the purpose of this lawsuit was larger than compensation for their loss. For them, it was about understanding exactly what happened to Rachel and exposing the injustices their daughter and her friends in the International Solidarity Movement stood against. They filed suit on advice of Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who, on behalf of the State Department, told the family in 2004 that the United States did not consider the investigation into Rachel’s death to be “thorough, credible and transparent.”

The U.S. government has repeatedly reiterated its position regarding the failed investigation, and after nearly seven years of mounting evidence since the case was initially filed, it has become even clearer that the military conducted its investigation not to uncover the truth of what happened, but rather, to exonerate itself of any blame.

In his decision, Judge Gershon concluded that because Rachel put herself in harm’s way, she is to be blamed for her own death. That conclusion puts at serious risk the lives of human rights defenders and it creates yet another dangerous precedent regarding the protection of civilians in war. Not surprisingly, the court avoided any analysis of international law obligations.

The verdict ensures that the Israeli culture of impunity will continue unchecked. Rachel Corrie lost her life standing non-violently with those who have been subject to Israel’s systematic policy of destruction and demonization. Like the Freedom Riders in the United States who, during the civil rights movement, joined oppressed black communities in their struggle for equality, Rachel and her friends in the ISM presented a new challenge and model of non-violent activism, solidarity and resistance to the longest military occupation in modern history.

In a country in which the judicial system has enabled the occupation for almost 50 years, I suppose it’s not surprising that the judicial system blamed the victim for her own death.

Hussein Abu Hussein is a human rights lawyer and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights. He represented the Corrie family in their case against the Israeli government and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

 

Austin’s Picks: Happy Labor Day to the Working Clas

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

 

From Recomposition

“Just and peaceful labor relations”: Why the U.S. government supported collective bargaining

| Filed under Our writings

 

This post gives a brief account of some of the history of the capitalist state’s sponsorship of contracts for unions in the United States, with an emphasis on the reasoning that politicians and judges gave for their support of collective bargaining. The piece argues that what the U.S. government wanted out of introducing state support for collective bargaining was, in the words of the National Labor Relations Act, to ‘Promote the flow of commerce’ through ‘friendly adjustment of industrial disputes.’ 

“Just and peaceful labor relations”: Why the U.S. government supported collective bargaining
by Nate Hawthorne

The U.S. government increasingly promoted collective bargaining in the early part of the 20th century. To take one important example: In 1919, economically disruptive disputes escalated between the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and capitalists in the textile industry. In response, the New York governor appointed a state commission aimed at preventing “industrial war” which created “distrust and hostility” between classes. This commission recommended collective bargaining in order to reconcile the union and the employers. As the commission wrote, a “collective bargaining agreement calls for the utmost good faith on both sides to perform (…) every term and condition thereof; whether it refers to shop strikes on the part of the worker, lock-outs on the part of the employers, or the maintenance of its terms as to wages and hours. This Board desires to emphasize this point as fundamental in any contractual relationship.” Contracts require such good faith and, from the point of view of the capitalist state, contracts helped create such good faith.

With state help, the ILGWU won an industry-wide collective bargaining agreement, which the industry association soon violated in 1921. The ILGWU sued and won an injunction against the employers. The New York Supreme Court said it issued this injunction to prevent “the continuance of an industrial impasse.” The Court said that no matter who won the dispute, “such industrial struggles lead to lockouts, strikes and acts of violence” and in the end “the employer and employee, instead of co-operating to promote the success of the industry, become permanently divided into hostile groups, each resentful and suspicious of the other.” Therefore, “it is the duty of the court to (…) compel both parties to await an orderly judicial determination of the controversy.” In other words, the capitalist state began to believe that promoting collective bargaining agreements would help create industrial peace. The role of law is not simply to protect individual capitalists but to bring greater stability to the capitalist system as a whole. (On this point, I encourage fellow workers to read the discussion of the English Factory Acts in chapter 10 of Karl Marx’s “Capital.”)

The state’s role and strategy of promoting stability in the capitalist system by promoting collective bargaining explains U.S. labor legislation created in the 1930s. The 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act (hereafter, “Recovery Act”) said “disorganization of industry (…) burdens interstate and foreign commerce, affects the public welfare, and undermines the standards of living of the American people.” The Act argued that one key tool for more efficiently organizing industry under capitalism was to promote collective bargaining agreements. Thus Congress should “remove obstructions to the free flow of interstate and foreign commerce” by “induc[ing] and maintain[ing] united action of labor and management under adequate governmental sanctions and supervision.” The Recovery Act added that contracts would raise wages for workers, “increas[ing] the consumption of industrial and agricultural products by increasing purchasing power” of workers. More money in the pockets of more workers would help stabilize the American economy by providing a larger base of consumers.

Read the whole article at Recomposition?  Hey, you have a day off, take a minute to read and think about labor.

Subscribe to RSS feed