Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Saturday, February 19, 2011

People's Hearning on Racism and Police Violence-- a teach-in
Saturday Febuary 19th and Sunday Febuary 20th 9 am-5 pm
info oaklandtribunal@gmail.com
Oakland High School
1023 MacArthur Blvd. @ Park Blvd., Oakland
Black History: Today's Struggles and History's Lessons--in honor or Dr. Huey P. Newton's Birthday
Saturday February 19th, 4-9 pm
Films 4-6 pm
Speakers 6-7:30 pm
Open Mic for poetry and music 7:30-9 pm.
Food and Beverage
info 510-652-7170
Humanist Hall [390 27th St., Oakland]
suggested donation $10--no one turned away
Sponsored by Commemoration Committee for the Black Panther Party
Sandra Decker
home: 510-530-5878

Friday, February 18, 2011

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

2011-02-18 "In Puerto Rico, Protests End Short Peace at University" By TAMAR LEWIN from "New York Times" daily newspaper
SAN JUAN, P.R. — Months of unrest at the University of Puerto Rico seemed to be reaching a finale over the last 10 days. Scores of students were arrested or injured by riot police officers. Faculty and staff members held a two-day walkout. The president of the university resigned Friday, the police who had occupied campus were withdrawn Monday and an interim president arrived Tuesday.
But there were only three days of peace.
On Thursday morning, students blocked the stairs to classrooms in the social science department with trash cans and chairs, and also closed down the humanities department. At the social sciences building, students said only one professor had tried to get through the blockade.
The spark for the university’s problems was a budget cut that required students to pay a new $800 fee, increasing their costs by more than 50 percent.
“It is the same situation that many universities in the United States are facing,” said Miguel A. Muñoz, the interim president. “Our budget is about $1 billion, and we have been cut about $200 million. We need the $800 fee to cover the deficit, and our tuition is so low, $51 a credit, that it’s almost a gift.”
The tuition is indeed far lower than most other flagship public universities. But Puerto Rico is poorer than the mainland United States, and two-thirds of the students have incomes low enough to qualify for Pell grants.
As at many public universities elsewhere in the United States, students here worry that the new fiscal realities will restrict who can attend.
“This is a public university, and it should be accessible to everyone,” said Eduardo Galindez, a second-year student. “I work in the physics department, and I know some graduate students who couldn’t come back this semester because they couldn’t afford the fee.”
Student leaders estimate that at least 5,000 of the university’s students were not able to pay the fee this semester. And the administration acknowledges that there are now fewer than 54,000 students this semester, compared with about 60,000 last semester.
Dr. Muñoz, however, attributed the drop to instability, not the new fee. “As a parent, you don’t want to send your son, your daughter to a campus where you see so many protests, and police,” he said. Still, if there are threats to security and safety, he said he would not hesitate to bring back the police.
“A university is not a different place from the rest of Puerto Rico,” he said.
Protests may well flare up again. A general student assembly is scheduled for Tuesday, to discuss whether to call a further strike to protest the $800 fee, program cuts, and the unwillingness of the authorities to negotiate.
“We have to see if students will ratify a strike or not,” said Giovanni Roberto, one of the student protest leaders. “We know there are alternatives and we have proposed them, but we don’t have any power to get them to listen.”
But the students have flexed their muscles. A two-month strike last spring shut down the university’s 11 campuses. And since the current strike began in December — this time, largely at the main Rio Piedras campus in San Juan — people across the island have been riveted by television and YouTube videos of violent confrontations between students and the police.
Many students were outraged that the police had been called to the campus.
“Calling in the police, for the first time in 30 years, was one of the most rash decisions they could have made,” said René Vargas, a law student who represents the student body on the university board of trustees. “The university’s intransigence and refusal to talk to students has worsened the whole situation. The students presented a 200-page document suggesting alternatives and ways to increase revenues, and the trustees have not even been willing to look at it.”
Some students, like Liz Lebron, a freshman, said they thought the administration had been right to bring in the police, because some students were destroying property and stopping others from attending class.
Whether or not they approved of the police presence, many students said they found it frightening.
“I didn’t go to class when I saw the police because I was scared of getting hurt,” said Carmen Gonzalez, a senior majoring in English literature who supported the protesters. “On television I saw people getting hurt, and if you’re in class and you hear those police helicopters, you can’t concentrate.”
Many students complained about the university’s decision to put several academic programs, including Hispanic studies, “on pause,” meaning they are not accepting new undergraduates.
Some faculty members and students say that local politics have played a large role in the university’s problems.
Puerto Rico has its first Republican governor in decades, Luis G. Fortuño, a pro-statehood conservative who has cut the number of public employees by about 17,000. Last weekend, while the protesters were marching in the streets, Mr. Fortuño was in Washington as a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action conference.
Even in the lull from protests early this week, students and faculty members alike said they had no illusion that the situation had been resolved.
“We still have a very volatile situation,” said Maritza Stanchich, an English professor who has supported the students. “This all started out over anger about the new fees that were being imposed, but the issues have expanded to the style of governance and the lack of negotiation.”
While it is hard to predict what will happen next, some students may be changing their approach.
“What a lot of people are saying, and I believe too, is that we should be thinking about a movement of protest now, not really a strike,” said Omar Oduardo, a Student Council representative who spent Thursday at the social sciences department lobby, discussing the situation.
“Maybe stopping classes is working against the movement,” he added, “and it’s time to go outside the university, to the legislature and the community, to work for change.”

Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press
Recent protests at the University of Puerto Rico over an $800 student fee have resulted in scores of arrests and injuries.
Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press
Some students are rethinking their protest approach. “Maybe stopping classes is working against the movement,” one said.
Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press
Riot police and students clash inside the University of Puerto Rico on Jan. 13.
Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press
A contingent of riot police was withdrawn on Monday, but could be back if needed, the interim university president said.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Scandal of Smart Meters and PG&E: Beyond the Greenwash
Green Sunday, February 13th, 5 - 6:30 pm
In this presentation, we will cover the major issues surrounding Smart Meters, including their threat to health (from their microwave radio frequency radiation), their invasion of privacy (in gathering hourly data about private lives), their easy hackability, and their violation of basic democratic rights. We will also refute the spurious claims to their environmental benefits and energy-saving capability.The installation of Smart Meters without consent represents a degree of corporate impunity possible only with government complicity. The Smart Meter program, as an expression of corporate control, stands in opposition to democratic and community rights, most directly expressed by denial of a right to refusal. It also represents a fundamental violation of the precautionary principle. Already large numbers of people have become ill after Smart Meters were installed n ear their living environment (e.g. headaches, nausea, ear ringing, heart palpitations etc). We will describe the meters themselves, the movement that has arisen against them, some of the immediate health effects, and the overall politics of this new form of grid (the "Smart Grid"). We will also discuss the research on the impact of non-thermal radiation on humans, animals, plant life, and those who have Electro-Hypersensitivity"

Steve Martinot is a writer, human rights activist, and retired lecturer from San Francisco State Univ., living in Berkeley. He has done union, community, and anti-war organizing for most of his life.
Marti Kheel is an ecofeminist scholar and activist and author of Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective.. Currently she is a visiting scholar at U.C. Berkeley, Division of Society and the Environment.
Alexander Binik, an environmental health educator and licensed psychotherapist, is also Executive Director of the DE-Toxics Institute in Fairfax.
Sarah Reilly is a Certified Nutritionist and founder of Get Nourished, a Holistic Nutrition Practice that serves clients globally. She has advanced certifications in functional endocrinology, functional blood chemistry and brain chemistry with a special interest in inflammation and autoimmunity. She has had Electro Hypersensitivity since 2003 and has been studying the physiological impacts of Electro Magnetic Radiation on human physiology for the past 3 years.
LOCATION: Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. at 65th in North Oakland.
DIRECTIONS: One block north of Alcatraz on the West side ofTelegraph, wheelchair accessible. Buses pass by regularly. Ashby BART is approximately 7 blocks away.
SPONSOR: Green Sundays are a series of free programs & discussions sponsored by the Green Party of Alameda County. They are held on the 2nd Sunday of each month. The monthly business meeting of the County Council of the Green Party of Alameda County follows at 6:45 p.m. Council meetings are always open to anyone who is interested.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2011-02-10 "Right-Wing Relaunches Crusade Against Women’s Rights" by Liz Lowengard
Every year, on the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, a group of determined activists appears on the steps of the Supreme Court to commemorate the day when a woman’s right to have an abortion was legalized in the United States. It is not a sentimental remembrance. It is an important occasion to remind the public of the continuing struggle to keep abortion legal.
It was Jan. 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled that laws forbidding abortion (except when necessary to save the life of the woman) were unconstitutional. The Court concluded that the issue of abortion and abortion rights falls under the right of privacy. Since that time, various rulings have undermined the basic right to privacy by balancing a woman’s right to privacy with the “interests of the state” in protecting the so-called “unborn” or “pre-born.”
A woman’s right to control her body is not guaranteed in our “democracy.” It can be and has been weakened substantially by legislators on both the federal and state levels. Because it is more difficult to reverse a Supreme Court decision outright, conservative anti-choice legislators have chosen different tactics. One of them is known as the Hyde Amendment.
Starting in 1976, the Hyde Amendment has been added annually onto the appropriations bill that funds the Department of Health and Human Services. Each year, the most right-wing “family values” cabal calculates whether they have enough votes to change the language in the Amendment so that tighter restrictions are in place for poor women who are seeking an abortion with the use of Medicaid dollars.
The original wording of the Hyde Amendment disallowed the use of federal dollars except when the woman’s life is endangered by the pregnancy. Not when her health is at risk, only her life. There have been modifications over the past 35 years, which have added exceptions for rape and incest; however, this still restricts poor women’s access to abortion.
In 2011, newly elected right-wing U.S. representatives calculated that they could change the Amendment and further restrict the use of federal dollars for abortion by adding the term “forcible rape” instead of plain old rape. Imagine the arrogance and cold-heartedness of this group of legislators so desperate to respond to the “family values” constituents, rich institutes and corporations that put them in office.
The language was put forward in committee by Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). It also included limitations on the age of the incest victim. This language was quickly defeated, actually withdrawn when pro-choice groups became aware of the suggested wording. Their attempt was foiled but not for lack of trying.
On Jan. 20, Pitts introduced HR 358, the Protect Life Act, which would allow a hospital to refuse to perform an emergency abortion even when necessary to save the life of the woman. Under current law, all hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid are required to provide emergency care, regardless of ability to pay. Minimally, they must stabilize the patient and if the hospital cannot provide the care, it must transfer the patient to a hospital that can.
The Pitts’ bill would free hospitals from any abortion requirement, meaning that medical providers who are not willing to terminate pregnancies would not have to—nor would they have to facilitatea transfer. Pro-choice organizations are calling it the “Let Women Die” proposal.
A bill proposed by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) would get rid of tax breaks for bosses who provide health coverage if the plans includes abortion services, and would forbid women from using pre-tax dollars from a flexible spending plan to pay for an abortion. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” bill also includes the “forcible rape” language. Although Smith’s office says the word “forcible” will be withdrawn, the language remained in the bill as of Feb. 8.
These right-wing proposals are testing the waters for the larger issues and battles that will define health care for women when and if the new health care law goes into effect. Will the new laws mandate that health insurance providers offer family planning services to women free of charge? How will preventive health care be defined and what will it include?
In his pre-election campaigning, then candidate Barak Obama affirmed a woman’s right to choose and opposed the Hyde Amendment. But we should not forget the last minute wrangling and deal-making between Pres. Obama and Rep. Stupak to get the health care votes he needed. The deal stated that the president would sign a separate executive order reaffirming a ban on federal funding of abortions, a ban that creates great hardship for poor women. Apparently, women’s reproductive rights are negotiable in the legislative and executive arenas.
We cannot rely on the politicians’ slogans and promises to secure our rights. We must remain vigilant and organize in the streets for free reproductive rights for all women.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

By Jaime Cader, Antioch Green Party Member
On February 5, 2011 attorney Jerry Goldberg spoke in Antioch to a large group of people (from as far away as Richmond and San Francisco) that assembled in a parking lot because no room in the building on the premises could hold the number of people that eventually showed up. His presentation was translated into Spanish. He stated that foreclosures were not the fault of the people who were going through the foreclosures but the result of bank lending practices and actions.
 Goldberg said that he was an activist since he was 18 years old and only became an attorney when he was fifty. He spoke of the accomplishments of people in the Detroit area - in their struggles to keep their homes. He said that we need to build a movement for a political solution to the foreclosures because we cannot depend entirely on the court system. He spoke a little about history, stating that a similar situation took place in the 1930s which resulted in a Supreme Court case precedent.
Goldberg recommended going in a large group to the County Board of Supervisors to demand that those officials support a moratorium on foreclosures. If necessary he recommended taking it to the next level, to the Governor of California who can call a state of emergency, and if that did not work he recommended going to President Obama, who so far has not supported a moratorium.
A few other individuals also spoke at this event and after Goldberg's presentation there was a period for questions and answers. This writer spoke at the mike about the legal right of individuals to ask the lenders for the original mortgage note, to which the attorney commented that one needs to write RESPA on the request in order to get a prompt response. Since he is an attorney visiting from Michigan, Goldberg cannot give legal advice. When this writer spoke to him briefly afterwards, he recommended looking up Christopher Hill on the Internet, as Hill had done research on the illegality of MERS that has been involved with many foreclosures.
The website showing Goldberg's work is <www.moratorium-mi.org> . Goldberg cautioned people not to sign anything from the bank lenders because they could be signing away their rights. He said that these bank lenders (referring to them as "banksters") are liars, and often claim that they did not receive people's correspondence. Others at the event warned of third parties that offer assistance in foreclosures for a fee, as they often charge large sums of money for no real help. One woman present at the event was a victim of such a fraud and lost her house several months ago.
The organizer for this event was Guillermo Briceño and he had a follow up meeting with community members on February 7, 2011. A couple came from as far as Sacramento to attend that organizing session.
Briceño can be contacted at:
Guillermo Briceno
Phone: 925-478-6022