December 2012, Week 1


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Mon, 3 Dec 2012 21:55:06 -0500
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Tidbits - Reader Responses and Comments - December 3, 2012

* Re: Meet The Climate Denial Machine (Peter Belmont)
* Re: In Rare Strike, NYC Fast-Food Workers Walk Out (Laurel 
* Response on Jane McAlevey book and health care unionism 
  (Marilyn Albert)
* Tax the rich: an animated fairy tale (James H. Williams)
* Re: The Obama Cave-In: Myth or Reality? (Tony Gronowicz)
* Re: Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality? 
  (Charles Ostman)
* Re: Who's Responsible for the Fire that Killed 112 Garment
  Workers? (Martin Gittelman)
* Tell the President and Congress to support the Helsinki
  Conference for a  Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons 
  (Jackie Cabasso)
* documentary on emigration of Quaker war-resisters from US to
  Costa Rica (Bill Adler)
* Davids Oppose Israel's Use of King David (David Swanson, 
  David McReynolds)


Yes, climate change denial is a dreadful thing.

And the worst thing about it is that climate change is caused
by a CUMULATIVE mechanism which does not stop just because
people are talking (whether wisely or foolishly), and will not
stop EVEN AFTER we begin to take positive action to reduce
greenhouse emissions toward zero (assuming we ever begin that
hard trek).

A thick blanket (or greenhouse gases) has been spread over the
earth and it is growing thicker day by day, year by year. But
the temperature grows merely because the present blanket is in
place, and will continue growing possibly irrespective of what
we do. The best wee can do is slow its growth.

Time to wake up and make the donuts. And stop the nonsensical
denials. Perhaps President Obama could begin a series of
national speeches, symposia, etc., on the subject. You know,
as if the subject were serious. A bit like the anti-war
"teach-ins" of the 1960s.

If the government is being asked for $100B to repair damages
from Hurricane Sandy, shouldn't it also spend $100B to teach
climate science to the American people -- and to begin to slow
greenhouse emissions here?

Peter Belmont


* Re: In Rare Strike, NYC Fast-Food Workers Walk Out

If the private service sector in America became organized to
the extent that the wages increased substantially, that would
be a big gain for the American economy and American employees.
You can have all the academics in the world explaining that
the way these chains run is the new way work is organized, but
the reality is that it does not work for people. It is
exploitation! It is unfair as all these companies are raking
in huge profits. And it is not new! Since the beginning of
industrialization, companies tried to make workers on the
line, cogs in the machine of production and in the long run it
never worked. I hope these workers just keep walking out or
screwing up the production process or working through social
media to get the public to boycott such companies until they
change their wage scales dramatically. It is time!

Laurel MacDowell


* Response on Jane McAlevey book and health care unionism

As a woman who spent the last 40 years primarily as a rank and
file nurse activist in the health and hospital workers
movement, I would like to address Jane McAlevey's narrative
about her collective bargaining work in a Las Vegas SEIU
health care local:

McAlevey seems to claim that her local's raising of collective
bargaining standards for hospital workers as a victory of her
own, or of that local's, while not presently the truth, which
is that raising such standards in a city just over the
California border, was possible only due to the prior work
over many years done by SEIU Local 250, which later became
UHW/SEIU, and which was in 2009, placed in trusteeship by the
Stern leadership and is still run corruptly by Dave Regan and
the Mary Kay Henry leadership of SEIU.

According to the former leaders of UHW/SEIU,now the current
leaders of the National Union of Health Care Workers, here are
some of the collective bargaining victories which were won in
California hospitals before Local 1107 in Las Vegas achieved

  *  At both Catholic Health Care West and Hospital
  Corporation of America chains, Local 250 won 3rd party
  resolution of staffing, wage scales, and a ban on
  *  Also employer-paid health insurance for workers and their
  *  Also a Training and Upgrading Fund, run by union staff
  *  Also an hour for the union during employee orientation
  *  Also the right to strike over staffing issues

For McAlevey not to provide this fuller picture of how "her"
victories in bargaining took place, she does a disservice to
the movement for a strong, militant and democratic health
workers' movement as the only way to win, maintain, and build
on, strong union standards.  Instead, she feeds the narrative
so  unfortunately prevalent in the progressive movement, that
individual leaders are responsible for worker victories.

Jane makes reference to $5,000 of worker money stolen by Ohio
SEIU President Dave Regan (now the dictator of California
UHW/SEIU) to fund her personal re-election to local office, as
a "technically illegal" thing -- does she not have a moral and
democratic view of such theft by union officials?

We need more building of a militant, democratic national
health care workers' movement, less personal memoirs which are
factually questionable.

And even more, we need SERIOUS discussion about how to build
strong national and international collective bargaining
standards for all workers.

Marilyn Albert, RN
Organizer for National Union of Health Care Workers (NUHW)


* Tax the rich: an animated fairy tale


Ed Asner narratives this Mike Konopacki cartoon:

James H. Williams


* Re: The Obama Cave-In: Myth or Reality?

Why no mention of Obama's two-year freeze (2010-2011) on
Social Security as well as no estate tax at all for 2010?

Tony Gronowicz


* Re: Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?

Aside from myriad biological speculations being pondered here,
I have to ask the question, even if such were possible, would
I actually want to be quasi "immortal"?

My answer would be "no".

Would I want to remain forever locked into a certain stage of
life, in perpetuity . . . without aging?

That could be a separate type of question, but I tend to
believe that even if such could be possible, this could be a
disaster in the making.

Even if this were possible, which this current discovery does
not provide any form of mechanism for such, this will never be
provided to the "general" public.

Perhaps to the elite 1% who could have access to such, this
might become the ultimate commodity within that rarified
realm, but this will never be seen by the remaining 99%.

As for me personally, I would gladly accept an arrangement
that allows for a fixed number of years, but the quality of
those years is maintained within a certain age range.

It's not the length of life that is of interest, but past a
certain point, the process of existence management becomes an
evermore daunting endeavor, not one of joy but rather one of
confronting an ever increasing series of challenges with
diminishing returns.

Along these lines, has anyone here seen the recent film, "In

For anyone who may be pondering these concepts, this might be
worth, well . . . the time it takes to watch.

Charles Ostman
Sebastopol,  CA


* Re: Who's Responsible for the Fire that Killed 112 Garment

We need to urge the AFL and CIO to assist organizing abroad.

Martin Gittelman


* Tell the President and Congress to support the Helsinki
Conference for a  Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons

Dear Friend of United for Peace and Justice

Iran has attacked no one, yet both the United States and
Israel continue to threaten Iran with a military attack unless
Iran agrees to halt uranium enrichment. While it appears that
the imminent danger of war has receded, during the
Presidential debates, President Obama flatly denied reports
that the US had agreed to hold direct talks with Iran,
declaring "...the clock is ticking, if they do not meet
demands of the international community, we will take all
options necessary." Tell the President and Congress to "take
`all options are on the table' off the table"!

Israeli and US threats of war on Iran are being justified in
the name of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation in the
Middle East. Yet, the International Atomic Energy Agency and
US National Intelligence Estimates have repeatedly concluded
that Iran has no nuclear weapons and has made no decision to
build them.  In fact, it is nuclear-armed Israel and the US
that are responsible for the presence and proliferation of
nuclear weapons in the region, in total disregard for the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and thirty years of
United Nations resolutions calling for the establishment of a
Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East.

Whether or not one agrees with Iran's interpretation of its
rights under the NPT, this is a matter to be resolved by
diplomacy, not war.  Unilateral threat or use of military
force against Iran, including covert force, would be a
violation of International Law and of the U.N. Charter. We
want no part of another illegal war in the Middle East.

Yet, the United States has just set back prospects for a very
significant diplomatic breakthrough. The May 2010 5-year
Review Conference of the NPT called for a UN-sponsored
conference in 2012 to establish a Middle East zone free of
nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, to
be attended by all States in the region. The proposed
Conference, to be co-sponsored by the US, Britain and Russia,
and facilitated by Finland, was set to take place in mid-
December, in Helsinki.

As summarized by the British American Security Information
Council: "[A November 23] announcement by the US claimed that
the conference could not be convened, blaming `present
conditions in the Middle East' and the lack of agreement over
the `conditions for a conference'. The US announcement called
on states `to take a fresh look at the obstacles', placing its
support clearly in the Israeli camp that the conference needs
a `broad agenda that covers regional security'. It pointedly
gives little hope that the conference will be convened anytime
soon, and leads some analysts to conclude that this is
actually a cancellation rather than a postponement. The UK
calls for the conference to be convened as soon as possible in
2013, and Moscow deplores the fact that not all Middle East
nations have agreed to attend the conference and said that the
conference must happen before April 2013, the date of the next
NPT Preparatory Committee."*

The United States' lack of good faith support for this
conference is unacceptable and a cause of deep concern. The
Helsinki Conference provides an opportunity for a Middle East
without nuclear weapons. It can lead to further discussions
for securing a lasting peace in the Middle East.

In response to the postponement of the Conference, United
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared: "I wish to
reaffirm the collective responsibility of the conveners to
make every effort to convene the conference, as mandated. I
will continue to work with them on that basis. I fully support
the proposal by the facilitator to conduct multilateral
consultations in the shortest possible time which will allow
the conference to be convened at the earliest opportunity in

We agree with the Secretary-General, who concluded: "I also
appeal to [all States in the region] to seize this rare
opportunity to initiate a process that entails direct
engagement on security issues - a critical shortcoming at the
moment - and follow-on steps leading to achieving the complete
elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the region,
nuclear, chemical and biological and their delivery systems."

Tell the President and Congress to stop threatening and start
talking! Click here to sign the Open Letter to President Obama
and the U.S. Congress, calling on them "to actively, and
visibly, support the Helsinki Conference for a Middle East
zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass
destruction." We are seeking as many organizational and
individual signatures as possible - please help us spread the
word! We are planning to "deliver" and publicize this letter
in mid-December, around the time the Helsinki Conference was
to have been held.

United for Peace and Justice believes that the problem of
nuclear weapons in the Middle East must be solved regionally,
as well as globally.  We support the establishment of a Middle
East zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass
destruction in parallel with a global call for immediate
negotiations to abolish all nuclear weapons.

In Struggle,

Jackie Cabasso

Please support this important work by making a generous
donation to United for Peace and Justice. Click here to

*Click here for a compilation of news stories and commentaries
on cancellation/postponement of the Helsinki 2012 Conference
on a Nuclear and other WMD Free Zone in the Middle East


* documentary on emigration of Quaker war-resisters from US to
Costa Rica

I write because I think -- hope, anyway -- you'll be
interested in supporting a project I'm at work on: a
documentary film about the 40-odd Quaker war-resisters who
emigrated from Alabama to Monteverde, Costa Rica during the
Korean War.

Here are the words of one of those pioneer Quakers:

"[W]e do not feel that our gesture in coming here was a
striking blow against war or that, in itself, it will have any
great effect toward bringing universal peace. But every wave
on the ocean has its beginning in a tiny ripple somewhere, and
perhaps our action will be that ripple which starts others to
thinking and acting so that eventually the wave of public
opinion will attain the desired end."

They came to Monteverde (from where I write) in 1951, shortly
after Costa Rica abolished its army. Here in the remote and
pristine cloud forest they established a Friends School (which
my son attends) and a cooperative cheese factory, both of
which are thriving 60 years later.

My colleague Jody Jenkins and I want to get the handful of
surviving founders of the Quaker colony here on film to
document the details of their act of conscience and courage.
Our film is to be called "Sweet Home Costa Rica: a story of
war... and peace." It is not, of course, the sort of film that
lends itself to backing from traditional sources. Instead we
are seeking to raise our modest budget on Kickstarter.com, a
crowdfunding site.

We've produced a short trailer and posted it on our
Kickstarter page. Here is the link:


Jody and I would greatly appreciate it if you'd take a few
minutes to view it, and then consider making a pledge toward
our fundraising goal of $5,500. (If we don't meet our goal,
Kickstarter won't charge your credit card -- it's an all-or-
nothing proposition for us.)

By way of background, Jody is the award-winning producer and
writer of the 2010 documentary film, American Jihadist, a
story that seeks to answer the question of why someone would
pick up a gun for his religion. Our current film, of course,
addresses the corollary: why someone would refuse to pick up a
gun, or pay taxes to pay for that gun.

And I'm the author of three books of narrative nonfiction. The
latest is The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times and Legacy
of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon. Hill and his union, the
Industrial Workers of the World, were in the vanguard of early
20th century war-resisters.

Here is a feature on the book from The New York Times:

With all best wishes, and in solidarity,

Bill Adler

PS. Our Kickstarter-imposed deadline is December 21. And I
should add that even if you can't make a pledge, we'd deeply
appreciate it, if you find ours a worthy project, of spreading
the word through whatever email and/or social media circles
you run in. Thanks again!


* Davids Oppose Israel's Use of King David


One tool being employed by the government of Israel to evict
Palestinian people from their homes is the claim that doing so
will allow archaeologists to discover historical evidence of
the existence of King David.  Such evidence is intended to
strengthen the claim that Jews are returning to land occupied
by Jews millennia ago.

Yet the living people moved off their land by Israeli
expansion are denied any right to return to it.

The King David in the book of Samuel is greedy and cruel,
thoughtless of the pain he causes others.  David is punished
for his actions, but appears to learn nothing from the
punishment.  The lesson that Nathan attempts to teach David,
to condemn evil actions in oneself that one would condemn in
others, is a difficult lesson to learn.

We encourage the government of Israel to try.

David R. Applebaum, professor, USA
David Bacon, photographer, USA
David Barkham, film-production-designer, South Africa
David Becker, environmental-lawyer, USA
David ben Or, computer-scientist, USA
David J. Biviano, educator, USA
David Berrian, videographer, USA
Dave Bleakney, educator, Canada
David Booth, software-architect, USA
David Brast, appliance-repairer, USA
David Brookbank, social-worker, USA
David B. Buehrens, editor, USA
David Camfield, professor, Canada
David Cobb, activist, USA
David Cole, researcher, USA
David Cone, webmaster, USA
David Crowningshield, consultant, USA
David Earnhardt, filmmaker, USA
David Ecklein, computer-consultant, USA
David Finke, printer, USA
David Finkelstein, filmmaker, USA
David Graeber, anthropologist, UK
David Scott Halenda, rambler, USA
David Hall, MD, physician
David Hartsough, activist, USA
David J. Heap, professor, Canada
David R. Heap, actor, Ireland
David Janzen, activist, Canada
David Klein, professor, USA
David Korten, author, USA
David Kubiak, journalist, Japan
David Lambert, Activist, USA
David Lerner, PR guy, USA
David Levy, computer-consultant, USA
David Lindorff, reporter, USA
David Lippman, songwriter, USA
David Lloyd, Professor, USA
David L. Mandel, attorney, USA
David Marsh, broadcaster, USA
David R. Marshall, guitarist, USA
David McGiffen, atheist, UK
David McNally, professor, Canada
David McReynolds, activist, USA
David Meserve, activist, USA
David J. Milne, peace-and-justice-worker, Canada
David Morris, musician, USA
David Neff, manager (retired), USA
David Norris, city council member, USA
David I. Robinson, professor, USA
David Rovics, musician, USA
David Rubinson, activist, France
David Schaich, physicist, USA
David Schott, partnership-coordinator, USA 
David Shelton, entrepreneur, USA
David Shewan, Environmentalist, UK
David Eric Shur, salesman, USA
David A. Smith, sociologist, USA
David Solnit, author, USA
David Soumis, human, USA
David Stark, executive director, USA
David Swanson, author, USA
David Tykulsker, attorney, USA
David Underhill, descendant, USA
David Weiss, environmental-activist, USA
David Welsh, labor organizer, USA
David Witham, educator (retired), USA
David Zaworski, pastor, USA

If your name is David, please add your name and identification
at http://davidswanson.org/davids

[many thanks to David McReynolds for submitting this to



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