December 2011, Week 3


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Sat, 17 Dec 2011 16:02:37 -0500
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Tidbits & Reader Response

-- RE The Internet is Under Attack in Congress
   Jay Schaffner

-- 27th Jazz Plaza: A Festival in Its Own Right

-- RE: Bill of Rights RIP
   Michael Munk


RE The Internet is Under Attack in Congress Jay

Both Jon Weisberger and Jerry Lembcke raise issues that
are of vital concern to progressives.

[http://tinyurl.com/8yjjpyv ]

I think that the issue that needs debate and discussion
on the left is what happens when the over-riding needs
of the people and society may at times be in conflict
with the official positions of one's own union or

The left needs a much-needed (and hopefully healthy)
discussion on what happens when the over-riding needs
of the people and society may at times be in conflict
with the official positions of one's own union or
guild. This happens to be the case currently with
regards to the Keystone XL Pipeline, where many in our
country and the world oppose the pipeline and the
dangers that it would bring, while unions such as the
Laborers, Teamsters and other building trades craft
unions support the pipeline. I support the heroic
position of the Allied Transit Workers and the
Transport Workers Union who have been front and center
in opposition to the pipeline.

I totally support the numerous arts unions and guilds,
of which I am also a member, where in their support of
the legislation they state:

    "This legislation, a companion bill to the PROTECT
    IP Act currently in the Senate, will provide U.S.
    law enforcement agencies with the tools to protect
    American intellectual property, including the
    films, television shows and sound recordings
    created by our members, from foreign rogue websites
    that knowingly and deliberately engage in the
    illegal distribution of our content for profit."


However, the current legislation up for action in the
Senate (the SOPA/PROTECT IP) goes further than this.

The current legislation would require web services to
monitor what users link to and upload, and give the
government to censor the web, using similar techniques
to those currently employed in countries such as Iran
and China. This is similar to legislation in the past
that would require public libraries to monitor what
readers looked at, read and checked out - all in the
name of fighting terrorism.

This bill will have a very chilling impact on the use
of the internet as we know it. In the name of fighting
terrorism, provisions have been added to the
legislation that was initially supported by the
numerous arts unions and guilds. Similar anti-terrorism
legislation was added to the defense appropriations
bills that would give the military the power to detain
U.S. citizens and permanent residents for an indefinite
period of time.

I am totally in support of protecting intellectual
property in music, film, television and the internet.

However, I also am in full support of basic
Constitutional rights and liberties, and will oppose
all attempts to restrict and curtail those rights.

We need the defense of intellectual property, and the
need to support the various arts unions and guilds that
may need to negotiate new provisions for upfront
compensation given the reality of the changing
technological world. We also need to defend all
attempts to erode our basic rights and freedoms as a
people and nation, all in the name of "fighting

A number of years ago Mayor Bloomberg wanted to destroy
existing houses and turn the abandoned rail line yards
on the west side of Manhattan into a boondoggle
football stadium for the New York Jets. This would have
been a gigantic tax break for Bloomberg and his real
estate cronies, along with the Jets, and the people of
the city would have been screwed. This project had the
full support of various building trades unions, along
with the official support of the Central Labor Council.
In opposition where the public employee unions, nearly
all of the arts unions, housing organizations and most
of the progressive organizations and community in New
York. Regrettably my union, joined with the building
trade unions in opposition to the over-riding needs of
the people of New York. As a member of my union
executive board vote, I was literally forced to go
along, to make it unanimous. I vowed to never again
surrender my principles and beliefs in the name of
making a wrong position "unanimous" by my union.

Jay Schaffner

27th Jazz Plaza: A Festival in Its Own Right

By Jose Dos Santos
Prensa Latina
December 16, 2011



Many of Cuba's best jazz musicians and other notables
from a dozen other countries are on hand Dec. 15-18 for
the 27th Jazz Plaza festival.

This year the festival is dedicated to "classical music
and jazz," and opened last night with a performance by
the National Symphonic Orchestra and the Entrevoces
choir, along with bassist Jorge Reyes, pianist Roberto
Fonseca and others. The closing gala will feature
classical pianist Frank Fernandez and a big "jazz band"
led by Joaquin Betancourt and guests. The festival's
seven venues are located in the Havana municipality of
Plaza, where the event was first held in 1969. As
usual, the local talent will once again be led by the
event's president of honor - the prize-winning pianist
and composer Jesus "Chucho" Valdezs.

Other stellar musicians include Bobby Carcases; Yasek
Manzano; Eman, Ruy and Harold Lopez-Nussa; Alexis
Bosch; Orlando Sanchez (Cubajazz); Emilio Morales;
Alfred Thompson; Jesus Fuentes; Giraldo Piloto; Rolando
Luna, Ceasar Lopez and a long list of acclaimed jazzmen
-and women- and their bands.

In past years, U.S. greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen
McRae, Jack DeJohnette and Max Roach have been part of
jazz fest, but that exchange was severed by
Washington's anti-Cuba policies.

This year, four professors from Boston's Berklee
College of Music plan to be here, led by saxophonist
and composer Neil Leonard, and including piano legend
Joanne Brackeen, bassist John Lockwood and drummer
Yoron Israel. Also expected from the United States:
Cuban Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Arturo O'Farrill, drummr Will
Calhoun, and bassist/cellist Kash Killion.

From elsewhere in the world: Peruvian/Mexican band
Laberinto del Caos, Mexico-based Japanese pianist Nori
Ogawa, Indian singer Joe Alvares and his band Naad
Brahnan, and polish pianist Mateusz Kolakowski, among


RE: Bill of Rights RIP

Get a load of what Senator Mark Udall (Dem-CO) did
after warning his colleagues in the Senate debate that
the War spending bill's provisions would "deny American
citizens their due process rights," and thus not only
"make us less safe, but would serve as an unprecedented
threat to our constitutional liberties. If we start
labeling our citizens as enemies of the United States
without any due process," Udall declared, " I think we
will have done serious damage to the Constitution."

So after delivering his high sounding speech, what did
Udall do? He went ahead and voted "to deny American
citizens due process" and the rest.

We have witnessed a paradigm example of liberal
politics, as was Obama's threat to veto the bill, now
exposed as a fake. When he signs the bill, he will own
not only the wars it pays for, but be responsible for
"serious damage to the Constitution."

See the final Senate vote at

Ralph Nader
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/15-0 also
called out some of the bill's actual opponents:

"Usually there are a few Senators whose upfront defense
of our Constitution would lead them to stand tall
against the "Senate Club" and put a "hold" on this
pernicious amendment. Civil libertarians hope that,
before the final Senate vote in the rush to get home
for the Holidays, Senators Rand Paul, Tom Harkin, Al
Franken, Richard Blumenthal (who voted for it), Ron
Wyden, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Tom Coburn or Mike
Lee would step forth. A "hold" could spark the demand
for public hearings and floor debate to give the
American people the time and information to react and
ask themselves "how dare Congress take away our most
fundamental rights?"

visit the new photo gallery on my website

Michael Munk


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