Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The hate group masquerading as feminists

Help Defend Jacobin


From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/11/the_hate_group_masquerading_as_inclusive_feminists_partner/

"RadFems'" openly discriminate against the transgendered while clinging to a reactionary definition of sex

By Thursday, Jul 11, 2013

This article originally appeared on Jacobin.
Jacobin
I’m an endangered species. Nearly half of people like me attempt suicide. Hundreds of us are murdered annually and, worldwide, that rate is only increasing. Those of us who have a job and a place to live often lose them both; too many of us can’t acquire either in the first place. What I am is a transgender woman, one of the lucky ones.

I’m lucky because I’m white, and because I have employment, housing and health insurance. I can’t get too comfortable, though, because every few days, a tragic headline reminds me of how fragile we are as a group: “Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill Passes,” “Transgender Inmates At Risk,” “Transgender Woman Shot.” The world is not kind to us and the news never lets me forget that sobering fact.

In some bizarre alternate reality, however, I’m seen as a villain who invades “real” women’s spaces and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes. A small but vocal band of activists known as “Radfems” see transgender women like myself as a blight on the feminist movement, but — because their views are not representative of the feminist movement as a whole — many trans*-inclusive feminists refer to them as TERFs, or Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists.

The chief TERF figurehead is a Maryland attorney named Catherine Brennan who once served as a liaison on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. In July of 2012, a petition circulated to have Brennan removed from that position because, to put it mildly, she flatly rejected the “Gender Identity” half of her job description.

Apart from a sordid internet history of harassing, misgendering, and mocking trans* people, Brennan co-authored a letter with Elizabeth Hungerford to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, to argue against — yes, against — legal protections based on “gender identity or expression.” In so doing, Brennan has effectively allied herself with those on the Right who viciously deter trans* folks’ attempts to secure employment, housing and safe public spaces.

Since vacating the American Bar Association liaison position, Brennan has continued to spread her anti-trans* viewpoints at the annual Radfem conference. Every year, the Radfems gather in a “women-only” space to promulgate their politics of exclusion. Every year, however, conference organizers find it even more difficult to book space as people begin to recognize the Radfems for what they are: a hate group.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/11/the_hate_group_masquerading_as_inclusive_feminists_partner/

See Jacobin for the original article: CounterPunch and the War on Transgender People

Original Counter Punch article: The Left Hand of Darkness


From Socialist Worker:  http://socialistworker.org/2013/07/15/jacobin-needs-our-support

Jacobin needs our support

Bhaskar SunkaraJuly 15, 2013

On July 10, the left-wing magazine Jacobin published an article by Samantha Allen titled "CounterPunch and the War on Transgender People," which challenged a strand of radical feminism whose proponents, in Allen's words, see a transgender woman as someone who "invades 'real' women's spaces and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes," and who acts "as a blight on the feminist movement."

In particular, Allen singled out Catherine Brennan as a leading proponent of trans-exclusive radical feminism--to the extent that Brennan has argued "against legal protections based on 'gender identity or expression,'" according to Allen. Allen also cited the CounterPunch website for publishing an article by Julian Vigo that defended Brennan and condescendingly attacked transgender activists for daring to criticize those who consider them a "blight."

Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara recently announced that Brennan, in response to Allen's article, has reportedly begun legal action against the magazine--and that Jacobin is raising funds for a legal defense. Here, we reprint his call to contribute to Jacobin's legal defense--and hope SocialistWorker.org readers will support it.

Dear readers,

This week we were pleased to publish a wonderful essay by Samantha Allen on "CounterPunch and the War on Transgender People." It's a moving piece that brings to life the type of discrimination that trans* people experience on a daily basis.

In the piece, Allen laments the fact that portions of the Left, including some self-described feminists, are still bullying this vulnerable population. What's more, these reactionary voices are even finding outlets in some of our best publications, like CounterPunch. As Allen writes, "...pundits of both liberal and radical varieties can demonize us, ignore us, and question our legitimacy because they can get away with it."

As is the case with many other issues--and largely due to a lack of time and resources--Jacobin hasn't provided a very good counterweight to these tendencies. That's why we were so proud to publish Allen's piece, and it's one of the many reasons we stand behind it without reservation.

But not everyone is so pleased with its publication. Catherine Brennan, whose views are critiqued in the essay as being transphobic, has instructed her lawyer David Diggs to prepare litigation against Jacobin magazine.

Any money raised in the next few weeks will be held in escrow and reserved for a long overdue legal defense fund. Our payment pages are all secure and encrypted, but for those who prefer they can donate via PayPal to editor@jacobinmag.com.

Your generosity is vital and appreciated. It will help safeguard our writers and our publication and enable us to continue what I believe to be valuable work.

First published at Jacobin Magazine.

The Humanity of Private Manning: My Experience As a Defense Witness

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zinnia-jones/bradley-manning-verdict_b_3676995.html

07/30/2013

It's been weeks since I testified at the court-martial of Private Bradley Manning, and I still don't know how to explain to anyone what that experience was like. I don't even know how to feel about what I saw there.

Everything seemed simple before, and now it's really not. It used to be easy to take a bird's-eye view of the entire situation. I saw it as some abstract network of people, events, morals, responsibilities, laws, consequences, past, future, the connections between them, and some process of justice or historical consensus that would resolve all this in favor of one definitive outcome or another. It was easy to talk about what Manning did, debate the ethical and legal character of his actions, and calmly contemplate what should happen next.

That was my attitude going into this - there were facts, they would eventually add up to an answer, and I didn't need to give much thought to anything beyond that. For me, the facts were simple: I had spoken with Manning online for several months in 2009, after he took an interest in my fledgling YouTube channel, and long before his leaks of classified material. His defense team believed our conversations could show that Manning cared about his country and wanted to protect people, contrary to the government's assertions that he had recklessly placed America and its troops at risk. And so I was called by the defense to testify about what Manning said to me: that he felt he had a great duty to people, and wanted to make sure everyone made it home to their families.

Flying out to Baltimore was disorienting; I hadn't been apart from my fiancee and our kids for over a year, and now I was on my own in a city I'd never visited before. Still, I took it in stride and tried to think of it as something that was going to happen, something I'd get through no matter how it went, and then it would be over - the same things I would always tell myself before a dental appointment. As if this were no more than some temporary discomfort or inconvenience to my life. I drew on the same strategy I used when nervous about flying, or transitioning, or coming out to my family: pretending that all of this was completely normal to me. Of course, having to pretend meant that it very much was not, but I tried not to think about that.

"Miss McNamara?" Sgt. Valesko, clean-shaven and wearing a sports jersey, recognized me at the baggage claim and introduced himself. He carried my bags outside, where Sgt. Daley was waiting to drive me to my hotel. I joked about the fact that I was quite literally getting a ride in a black government van. As they showed me some landmarks around the area - Costco, Olive Garden, and a high-security prison - we all got to know each other. Daley told me about growing up in Shreveport, attending a superhero-themed wedding in Seattle, and shattering his wrist in a motorcycle accident; I showed him the thick five-inch surgical scar on my abdomen. They thought it was great. It was surprisingly easy to talk to them - they were very friendly, and it really put me at ease, even when I was still struggling to get a handle on everything that was happening.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zinnia-jones/bradley-manning-verdict_b_3676995.html

See Also:

BuzzFeed: Lauren McNamara, Trans Activist And Witness For The Defense Of Private Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning cleared of 'aiding the enemy' but guilty of most other charges

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/30/bradley-manning-wikileaks-judge-verdict

• Pfc. Manning convicted of multiple Espionage Act violations
• Acquitted of most serious 'aiding the enemy' charge
• Army private faces maximum jail sentence of 136 years

at Fort Meade The Guardian, Tuesday 30 July 2013

Bradley Manning, the source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of secret disclosures, faces a possible maximum sentence of 136 years in military jail after he was convicted on Tuesday of most charges on which he stood trial.

Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over the court martial of the US soldier, delivered her verdict in curt and pointed language. "Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty," she repeated over and over, as the reality of a prolonged prison sentence for Manning – on top of the three years he has already spent in detention – dawned.

The one ray of light in an otherwise bleak outcome for Manning was that he was found not guilty of the single most serious charge against him – that he knowingly "aided the enemy", in practice al-Qaida, by disclosing information to the WikiLeaks website that in turn made it accessible to all users including enemy groups.

Lind's decision to avoid setting a precedent by applying the swingeing "aiding the enemy" charge to an official leaker will invoke a sigh of relief from news organisations and civil liberties groups who had feared a guilty verdict would send a chill across public interest journalism.

The judge also found Manning not guilty of having leaked an encrypted copy of a video of a US air strike in the Farah province of Aghanistan in which many civilians died. Manning's defence team had argued vociferously that he was not the source of this video, though the soldier did admit to the later disclosure of an unencrypted version of the video and related documents.

Lind also accepted Manning's version of several of the key dates in the WikiLeaks disclosures, and took some of the edge from other less serious charges. But the overriding toughness of the verdict remains: the soldier was found guilty in their entirety of 17 out of the 22 counts against him, and of an amended version of four others.

The guilty verdicts included seven out of the eight counts brought under the Espionage Act. On these counts, Manning was accused of leaking the Afghan and Iraq war logs, embassy cables and Guantánamo files "with reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the US or the advantage of any foreign nation". The 1917 act has previously been reserved largely for those who engage in spying as opposed to leaking; the seven convictions under the act are likely to be seen as a major stepping up of the US government's harsh crackdown on whistleblowing.

Continue reading at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/30/bradley-manning-wikileaks-judge-verdict

The Moral Verdict on Bradley Manning: A Conviction of Love in Action

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/30

by Norman Solomon


The sun rose with a moral verdict on Bradley Manning well before the military judge could proclaim his guilt. The human verdict would necessarily clash with the proclamation from the judicial bench.
In lockstep with administrators of the nation’s war services, judgment day arrived on Tuesday to exact official retribution. After unforgiveable actions, the defendant’s culpability weighed heavy.

“Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house,” another defendant, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, wrote about another action that resulted in a federal trial, 45 years earlier, scarcely a dozen miles from the Fort Meade courtroom where Bradley Manning faced prosecution for his own fracture of good order.

“We could not, so help us God, do otherwise,” wrote Berrigan, one of the nine people who, one day in May 1968 while the Vietnam War raged on, removed several hundred files from a U.S. draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, and burned them with napalm in the parking lot. “For we are sick at heart…”

On the surface, many differences protrude between those nine draft-files-burning radical Catholics and Bradley Manning. But I wonder. Ten souls saw cruelties of war and could no longer just watch.

“I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy,” Manning wrote in an online chat. Minutes later he added: “I think I’ve been traumatized too much by reality, to care about consequences of shattering the fantasy.” And he also wrote: “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

Those words came seven weeks after the world was able to watch the “Collateral Murder” video that Manning had provided to WikiLeaks. And those words came just days before military police arrived to arrest him on May 29, 2010.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/30

What Bradley Manning's Sentence Will Tell Us About Our Military Justice System

From Huffington Post:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-moore/what-bradley-mannings-sen_b_3679015.html

07/30/2013

Today Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That's the bad news. The good news is he was found not guilty on the charge of "aiding the enemy." That's 'cause who he was aiding was us, the American people. And we're not the enemy. Right?

Manning now faces a potential maximum sentence of 136 years in jail. When his sentence is announced tomorrow, we'll all get a good idea of how seriously the U.S. military takes different crimes. When you hear about how long Manning – now 25 years old – will be in prison, compare it to sentences received by other soldiers:

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the senior military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib and the senior officer present the night of the murder of Iraqi prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi, received no jail time. But he was reprimanded and fined $8,000. (Pappas was heard to say about al-Jamadi, "I'm not going down for this alone.")

Sgt. Sabrina Harman, the woman famously seen giving a thumbs-up next to al-Jamadi's body and in another photo smiling next to naked, hooded Iraqis stacked on each other in Abu Ghraib, was sentenced to six months for maltreating detainees.

Spec. Armin Cruz was sentenced to eight months for abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib and covering up the abuse.

Spc. Steven Ribordy was sentenced to eight months for being accessory to the murder of four Iraqi prisoners who were "bound, blindfolded, shot and dumped in a canal" in Baghdad in 2007.

Spc. Belmor Ramos was sentenced to seven months for conspiracy to commit murder in the same case.


Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-moore/what-bradley-mannings-sen_b_3679015.html

I am Bradley Manning


Statement by Julian Assange on Verdict in Bradley Manning Court-Martial

From Wikileaks:  http://wikileaks.org/Statement-by-Julian-Assange-on.html

30 July 2013, 19:30 UTC

Today Bradley Manning, a whistleblower, was convicted by a military court at Fort Meade of 19 offences for supplying the press with information, including five counts of ’espionage’. He now faces a maximum sentence of 136 years.

The ’aiding the enemy’ charge has fallen away. It was only included, it seems, to make calling journalism ’espionage’ seem reasonable. It is not.

Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions, and induced democratic reform. He is the quintessential whistleblower.

This is the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower. It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short sighted judgment that can not be tolerated and must be reversed. It can never be that conveying true information to the public is ’espionage’.
President Obama has initiated more espionage proceedings against whistleblowers and publishers than all previous presidents combined.

In 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform that praised whistleblowing as an act of courage and patriotism. That platform has been comprehensively betrayed. His campaign document described whistleblowers as watchdogs when government abuses its authority. It was removed from the internet last week.

Throughout the proceedings there has been a conspicuous absence: the absence of any victim. The prosecution did not present evidence that - or even claim that - a single person came to harm as a result of Bradley Manning’s disclosures. The government never claimed Mr. Manning was working for a foreign power.

The only ’victim’ was the US government’s wounded pride, but the abuse of this fine young man was never the way to restore it. Rather, the abuse of Bradley Manning has left the world with a sense of disgust at how low the Obama administration has fallen. It is not a sign of strength, but of weakness.
The judge has allowed the prosecution to substantially alter the charges after both the defense and the prosecution had rested their cases, permitted the prosecution 141 witnesses and extensive secret testimony. The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to crack him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. 

This was never a fair trial.

The Obama administration has been chipping away democratic freedoms in the United States. With today’s verdict, Obama has hacked off much more. The administration is intent on deterring and silencing whistleblowers, intent on weakening freedom of the press.

The US first amendment states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". What part of ’no’ does Barack Obama fail to comprehend?

Edward Snowden's not the story. The fate of the internet is

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/28/edward-snowden-death-of-internet

The press has lost the plot over the Snowden revelations. The fact is that the net is finished as a global network and that US firms' cloud services cannot be trusted

The Observer, Saturday 27 July 2013

Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world's mainstream media, for reasons that escape me but would not have surprised Evelyn Waugh, whose contempt for journalists was one of his few endearing characteristics. The obvious explanations are: incorrigible ignorance; the imperative to personalise stories; or gullibility in swallowing US government spin, which brands Snowden as a spy rather than a whistleblower.

In a way, it doesn't matter why the media lost the scent. What matters is that they did. So as a public service, let us summarise what Snowden has achieved thus far.

Without him, we would not know how the National Security Agency (NSA) had been able to access the emails, Facebook accounts and videos of citizens across the world; or how it had secretly acquired the phone records of millions of Americans; or how, through a secret court, it has been able to bend nine US internet companies to its demands for access to their users' data.

Similarly, without Snowden, we would not be debating whether the US government should have turned surveillance into a huge, privatised business, offering data-mining contracts to private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton and, in the process, high-level security clearance to thousands of people who shouldn't have it. Nor would there be – finally – a serious debate between Europe (excluding the UK, which in these matters is just an overseas franchise of the US) and the United States about where the proper balance between freedom and security lies.

These are pretty significant outcomes and they're just the first-order consequences of Snowden's activities. As far as most of our mass media are concerned, though, they have gone largely unremarked. Instead, we have been fed a constant stream of journalistic pap – speculation about Snowden's travel plans, asylum requests, state of mind, physical appearance, etc. The "human interest" angle has trumped the real story, which is what the NSA revelations tell us about how our networked world actually works and the direction in which it is heading.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/28/edward-snowden-death-of-internet

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I am Bradley Manning


End The Doctrine of At Will Employment

TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2013

“JUST CAUSE:” ISN’T IT TIME FOR ALL WORKERS TO HAVE MORE JOB SECURITY?



I'm glad to see a few other working class activists besides myself finally beginning to speak out about the need for a struggle to put an end to "At-Will Employment" although we need to put an end to "At-Will Hiring and At-Will Firing" which would assure fairness and non-discrimination when it comes to both hiring and firing.

It is bad enough employers have the "right" to exploit the labor of workers; employers shouldn't have the "right" to determine who should work and who shouldn't work based on any forms of discrimination--- be it age, sex, racial, political thinking & ideology or whether workers are engaged in union organizing activities, drives & campaigns.

Class collaboration among the top circles of leaders of organized labor has prevented a campaign to repeal "At-will hiring and At-will firing" since these labor "leaders" believe employers have more rights than workers and they are for going along to get along with employers which has proven to be detrimental to union organizing as the declining membership in unions proves.

When I introduced a resolution to repeal "At-Will Hiring and At-Will Firing" at the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's State Convention in Duluth, it was then Minnesota AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron and his little toady, Mark Froemke, who organized opposition to the resolution--- more organizing than either of these labor-fakers have done in their entire lives. This resolution was defeated by about a 70% majority vote which tells us a great deal about the commitment of the Democratic Party for justice for working people; and, it tells us a great deal about why organized labor, while doing the bidding of employers, can't organize Wal-mart, Marvin Windows and Doors, Arctic Cat, Polaris, Digi-Key or any of the other large non-union employers in Minnesota... there is even the huge Northshore mining operation that Cleveland Cliffs operates that the huge United Steel Workers Union hasn't been able to organize because all the rank-and-file organizers keep getting fired because of "At-Will." Then there was the failed Canal Park organizing fiasco where organized labor couldn't even organize a couple hotels... again, because of "At-Will Employment."

Not one single Democratic Party politician has had the moral or political courage to take on the repeal of "At-Will Employment." What does this tell us about the Democratic Party and labor?
When I first brought forward Precinct Caucus resolutions to repeal "At-Will Employment" here in Minnesota I was told by every single sitting member of the DFL Caucus in the State Legislature that the obstacle was Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. Well, now there is a Democratic Party super-majority with a billionaire Democratic governor supported by the Rockefellers claiming to be sympathetic to organized labor and the State Senate leader is Tom Bakk who claims to be a leader of the Building and Construction Trades unions and working people can't even get a hearing on the repeal of "At-will hiring and At-will firing." Of course, these same labor loving Democrats left Minnesota's Minimum Wage at $6.25 an hour, too; below the Minimum Wages of Mississippi and even North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Not one single labor "leader" from Change To Win or AFL-CIO unions in Minnesota has brought forward the need to repeal "At-will hiring; At-will firing;" why not? Because they fear a struggle with employers and their Democratic Party partners over this issue.

Unless At-will hiring and At-will firing are both confronted at the same time I doubt we can successfully replace At Will Employment with "Just Cause" because workers of color, women and the youth understand that they will remain the last hired and never get jobs in the first place... this is why for over 40 years I have pushed the idea that we need to challenge the "rights" of employers over hiring and firing. Here in Minnesota, fair employment hiring could take place through the Minnesota Workforce Centers with these government centers matching workers to employment opportunities; why would any employer not want to get employees through these centers which employ professionals? One reason only--- employers want complete control over workers and their work-forces.

The repeal of "At-will hiring; At-will firing" is all about justice and democracy... it is all about workers, who are human beings, forced by economic circumstances and an unjust economic system being entitled to human rights.

The "Doctrine of At Will Employment" has to go--- it is a thoroughly reactionary concept dating back to the days of the emerging industrial industrial revolution when employers believed they had the "right" to treat workers like shit.

Here is an interesting perspective deserving of wide discussion:

The United States is alone among industrialized countries in allowing workers to be considered "at will" employees and dismissed for any reason – justified or not, unless protected by a union contract or individual agreement. Labor should seize the opportunity to champion the passage of "just cause" standards into state laws. It's a labor law reform proposal that will appeal to all workers while putting employers on the defensive.

“JUST CAUSE:” ISN’T IT TIME FOR ALL WORKERS TO HAVE MORE JOB SECURITY?

by RAND WILSON
July 30, 2013 4:03 pm

The next collective bargaining battleground is likely to be the job security provisions of union contracts, including the “just cause” clause.

Instead of waiting for such an attack, labor should seize the opportunity to champion the passage of “just cause” standards into state laws. It’s a labor law reform proposal that will appeal to all workers while putting employers on the defensive.

It’s long overdue.

The United States is alone among industrialized countries in allowing workers to be considered “at will” employees and dismissed for any reason – justified or not, unless protected by a union contract or individual agreement. Governments such as France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom require employers to have a “just cause” to dismiss non-probationary employees. Just cause appeals to basic fairness, just as due process does in court. Workers who believe they have been fired unfairly have the opportunity to contest their dismissals before various types of industrial tribunals. In the U.S., such recourse is available only to public employees with civil service protection and/or union-represented workers with access to a negotiated grievance/arbitration procedure.

At-will employees have no job security: they can be fired for a mistake, an argument with a supervisor, a critical comment about the enterprise or management, taking a sick day, a complaint about working conditions or pay, or involvement in outside political campaigns – all activities that just-cause protected workers can take part in without worry.

One state has passed a law: The Montana Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act was passed in 1987. Applicable to non-union non-probationary employees, it prohibits discharges without good cause, allows workers to sue for up to four years of back pay, and provides a method for workers to recover attorneys’ fees. Despite fear-mongering by opponents, the Big Sky state’s robust economic growth has not been affected. Statutes in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also prohibit termination without the slightly more ambiguous “good cause.”

Winning state “just cause” legislation would certainly not be easy. But building a movement to win it offers union leaders and activists an opportunity to champion an issue that would benefit all workers and also help union growth. Short of winning state legislation, local unions, Central Labor Councils and workers’ centers could seek to enforce a community “just cause” standard through workers’ rights boards and / or strategically applied public pressure on employers.

A “just cause for all” campaign could engage working people at many different levels. One can imagine communities declaring certain areas “just cause zones” while other activists could be involved using the proposed legislation as a “litmus test” for politicians to gain labor support in electoral campaigns. Still others could be involved in holding hearings on the importance of achieving a “just cause for all” standard and lobbying for resolutions with their city councils.
Some union leaders have voiced concerns that winning just cause for all could make the main reason workers join unions irrelevant. However, if just cause campaigns succeed, workers will have more security to participate in union campaigns. Union leaders and organizers will be able to make the point that they are experts at enforcing just cause protections and can provide representation at hearings etc.

Even if campaigns for just cause do not succeed, millions of non-union workers will learn about the concept (especially if campaigns are based on ballot referendums) and the increased security it could bring to their lives. By popularizing the just cause concept, more workers may respond by thinking, “If we can’t get this important protection through legislation, let’s get it by forming a union!”

Meanwhile, when employers seek to roll back the just cause articles in our contracts, union members won’t be in the same position we were with the attacks on health care and defined benefit pensions. Instead, we will have laid important groundwork to fend off the employers’ attack by building broader public support for union job security provisions.

Imagine the labor movement leading a $50 to $100 million campaign over the next five years to win just cause protections for all workers in eight to ten states where grassroots movements have shown a desire to pursue it. Employers (and their political handmaidens) would be on the defensive. Most likely they would spend five or ten times more than our side to defend the “freedom to fire.” By over-reaching, it would actually help us raise more awareness about the importance of having just cause job protections.

A major Just Cause for All campaign would make labor a champion of the 99 percent and spur more workers to form unions. The sooner we get started the better!

Rand Wilson is currently on the staff of SEIU Local 888 in Boston. Wilson was the founding director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice and has been active in community-labor coalition building for more than 30 years. This article is adapted from a forth-coming article in Democratic Left.

Bradley Manning Awaits Verdict After Trial Ends With Prosecution "Smears" & Harsh Gov't Secrecy




Bradley Manning judge to release verdict on Tuesday in WikiLeaks trial

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/29/bradley-manning-verdict-expected-tuesday

Army private faces sentence of life in military custody with no chance of parole if convicted on 'aiding the enemy' charge

in New York guardian.co.uk, Monday 29 July 2013

Bradley Manning, the self-confessed source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of US state secrets, will learn his fate on Tuesday when a military judge announces her verdict in the most high-profile prosecution of an official leaker in at least a generation.

The army private faces a possible sentence of life in military custody with no chance of parole should Colonel Denise Lind find him guilty of the most serious charge – that he knowingly "aided the enemy" by transmitting intelligence to WikiLeaks. 

In the course of the eight-week trial, which ended on Friday, the US government sought to create a new precedent by arguing that Manning knew he was helping al-Qaida when he released more than 700,000 documents to the anti-secrecy website.

The verdict will be issued at 1pm ET by Lind sitting alone in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland, in the absence of a jury – an arrangement made at Manning's own request. The soldier's decision to put his faith in a military judge, rather than in a panel of his peers – the military equivalent of a jury – was a big legal gamble whose merits will become clear when the verdict comes in.

In another huge legal roll of the dice, Manning decided to plead guilty to a lesser version of 10 of the 21 counts of which he is accused, carrying a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in military jail. He did so with nothing in return in the form of a plea bargain, a highly unusual step in criminal proceedings.

The outcome of the trial has huge potential ramifications, not just for Manning personally but for the wider health of investigative journalism in the United States. Leading media experts have warned that a guilty verdict on the most serious charges could send a devastating chill across news outlets by frightening away potential official leakers.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/29/bradley-manning-verdict-expected-tuesday

Why Did 83 Democrats Vote to Continue NSA Surveillance?

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15361/why_did_83_democrats_vote_to_continue_nsa_surveillance/

This time, we can’t blame the Republicans.

BY Cole Stangler July 26, 2013 

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of legislators in the House came extraordinarily close to passing an amendment that would have prevented the National Security Agency from collecting bulk data on Americans. The Amash-Conyers amendment would have limited Section 215 of the Patriot Act to apply only to individuals subject to investigation under that law, barring mass surveillance programs like PRISM.

Failing by a 217-205 vote, the amendment earned support from an unlikely coalition of Republicans and Democrats—a group that could perhaps lead future legislative rebellions against the surveillance state.  

A majority of Democrats actually supported the amendment, in defiance of party leadership, the White House and the NSA itself, which, in a moment of panic, organized an emergency meeting the day of the vote in which director Keith Alexander personally lobbied against the measure. At the end of the day, 83 Democrats still voted against it.

Most of the “no” votes came from what Glenn Greenwald characterized as the “establishment” wing of the party. These include figures like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), once a fierce critic of the Bush administration’s attack on civil liberties, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.). Hoyer, who sent out an alarmist and factually incorrect email to House Democrats in his efforts to shoot down the amendment, asserting that it would bar the NSA and other agencies to collect records of people who “may be in communication with terrorist groups.” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) also voted against the amendment, as did Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel (N.Y.).

But in addition to the more predictable defenders of the White House and the national security state, the “no” camp included support from some Democrats who typically lean left on a number of issues, from the economy to military spending and even civil liberties. With the Amash-Conyers amendment failing by such a close margin, these key Democrats could have helped swing the vote.

Eight of those votes to defend the NSA’s blanket surveillance came from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the left flank of the Democratic Party in Congress.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15361/why_did_83_democrats_vote_to_continue_nsa_surveillance/

Lawmakers Protecting NSA Surveillance Are Awash In Defense Contractor Cash

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/175464/lawmakers-protecting-nsa-surveillance-are-awash-defense-contractor-cash

Lee Fang on July 28, 2013

Though it failed by a twelve-vote margin, Congressman Justin Amash’s (R-MI) amendment last week to curtail the NSA’s dragnet surveillance efforts reveals new fault lines in the debate over privacy. The roll call for the vote shows that 111 Democrats and ninety four Republicans supported the measure, which was co-sponsored by Amash’s Democratic colleague, John Conyers.

The amendment failed as the White House and NSA director General Keith Alexander personally lobbied lawmakers to oppose the measure. At first glance, a look at the ‘no’ votes seems to suggest an odd coalition of establishment Republicans and Democrats rallying to support the administration’s position. Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican who casts himself as a leader on privacy issues and as a tough opponent of most of President Obama’s domestic policies, voted against the Amash bill. So did minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who, as The Huffington Post reported, previously criticized the section of the Patriot Act enabling large-scale data-mining as a “massive invasion of privacy.”

Why would an anti-Obama Republican and a supposedly pro-privacy Democrat join forces to uphold the NSA’s surveillance policies?

MapLight, the Berkeley-based campaign finance website, has aggregated the numbers and found that lawmakers “voting to continue the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs received on average 122 percent more money ($41,635) from defense contractors and other defense industry interests than did representatives who voted to end the programs (18,765).” Amash has received a mere $1,400 from industry PACs and individuals.

Profit-driven defense contractors, like Booz Allen Hamilton and Boeing, manage the lion’s share of the government’s surveillance efforts. While it’s unknown at this point if any of the firms involved in the NSA’s domestic spying efforts attempted to influence the vote, the evidence suggests that recipients of defense contractor cash are more likely to vote to support NSA policies.

Ralph Nader Whos On The Run! Theyre NOT Pursuing The Criminals Theyre After The Right Doers


Is online privacy a right?

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/29/can_apple_and_google_be_trusted/

Feds want an Internet skeleton key that would allow surveillance of encrypted content. Will tech companies agree?

By Monday, Jul 29, 2013

Keep Calm, and Encrypt — this slogan, a play off Britain’s World War II posters, is the privacy-seeker’s new motto in the age of mass surveillance and data mining. The idea is that even with the expansion of surveillance, some data can still be kept away from eavesdroppers, as long as it is properly encrypted. It is the assumption behind whistleblower Edward Snowden’s insistence on only communicating via encrypted conduits and it is the basis for watchdog groups like the Freedom of the Press Foundation to help reporters learn how to communicate through such conduits with their sources.

Using encryption is clearly a smart move in this Orwellian era. After all, even with the NSA’s impressive codebreaking abilities, secure encryption still works. In fact, when done properly, it works so well to preserve privacy and lock data away from snoops that the government has now kicked off an aggressive campaign to turn the concept of “secure encryption” into an oxymoron.

Specifically, the Obama administration has launched an initiative to force tech companies to give the NSA a set of Internet-wide skeleton keys. The radical move, which would let law enforcement agencies access vast troves of encrypted information, adds significant questions to the ongoing debate over privacy. It begs us to ask not only whether the government has a right to vacuum up millions of Americans’ private data, but also to ask whether the security-conscious among us should even be allowed to retain the right to make data truly secure?

The word “right” is important here — the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution does not only bar unreasonable searches and seizures nor does it only mandate probable cause for searches. In addition to all that, it enshrines “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” In the digital age, it shouldn’t be a stretch to assume that such a precept means a basic right to access tools that keep personal property, including data and intellectual property, secure.

That tool is encryption — aka software and hardware that codes data so that it is locked and inaccessible to everyone except those who are specifically given a key. But as CNET’s Declan McCullagh reports, “The U.S. government has attempted to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users’ private Web communications from eavesdropping.” Accurately describing the move as “a technological escalation” in the government’s effort to conduct mass surveillance, McCullagh goes on to explain why this is such a big deal:

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/29/can_apple_and_google_be_trusted/

Noam Chomsky "Snowden Should Be Honored for Telling Americans What the Government Was Doing"


Stranded by Sprawl

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/29/opinion/krugman-stranded-by-sprawl.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

By Published: July 28, 2013

Detroit is a symbol of the old economy’s decline. It’s not just the derelict center; the metropolitan area as a whole lost population between 2000 and 2010, the worst performance among major cities. Atlanta, by contrast, epitomizes the rise of the Sun Belt; it gained more than a million people over the same period, roughly matching the performance of Dallas and Houston without the extra boost from oil. 

Yet in one important respect booming Atlanta looks just like Detroit gone bust: both are places where the American dream seems to be dying, where the children of the poor have great difficulty climbing the economic ladder. In fact, upward social mobility — the extent to which children manage to achieve a higher socioeconomic status than their parents — is even lower in Atlanta than it is in Detroit. And it’s far lower in both cities than it is in, say, Boston or San Francisco, even though these cities have much slower growth than Atlanta.

So what’s the matter with Atlanta? A new study suggests that the city may just be too spread out, so that job opportunities are literally out of reach for people stranded in the wrong neighborhoods. Sprawl may be killing Horatio Alger. 

The new study comes from the Equality of Opportunity Project, which is led by economists at Harvard and Berkeley. There have been many comparisons of social mobility across countries; all such studies find that these days America, which still thinks of itself as the land of opportunity, actually has more of an inherited class system than other advanced nations. The new project asks how social mobility varies across U.S. cities, and finds that it varies a lot. In San Francisco a child born into the bottom fifth of the income distribution has an 11 percent chance of making it into the top fifth, but in Atlanta the corresponding number is only 4 percent.

When the researchers looked for factors that correlate with low or high social mobility, they found, perhaps surprisingly, little direct role for race, one obvious candidate. They did find a significant correlation with the existing level of inequality: “areas with a smaller middle class had lower rates of upward mobility.” This matches what we find in international comparisons, where relatively equal societies like Sweden have much higher mobility than highly unequal America. But they also found a significant negative correlation between residential segregation — different social classes living far apart — and the ability of the poor to rise. 

Rage and frustration during Burkhardt Lac Mégantic visit


Flood, Rebuild, Repeat: Are We Ready for a Superstorm Sandy Every Other Year?

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/07/hurricane-sandy-global-warming-flooding

Why we pretend the next storm won't happen—and flush billions in disaster relief down the drain.

By July/August 2013

Two months after Hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City, Battery Park is again humming with tourists and hustlers, guys selling foam Statue of Liberty crowns, and commuters shuffling off the Staten Island Ferry. On a winter day when the bright sun takes the edge off a frigid harbor breeze, it's hard to imagine all this under water. But if you look closely, there are hints that not everything is back to normal.

Take the boarded-up entrance to the new South Ferry subway station at the end of the No. 1 line. The metal structure covering the stairwell is dotted with rust and streaked with salt, tracing the high-water mark at 13.88 feet above the low-tide line—a level that surpassed all historical floods by nearly four feet. The saltwater submerged the station, turning it into a "large fish tank," as former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota put it, corroding the signals and ruining the interior. While the city reopened the old station in early April, the newer one is expected to remain closed to the public for as long as three years.

Before the storm, South Ferry was easily one of the more extravagant stations in the city, refurbished to the tune of $545 million in 2009 and praised by former MTA CEO Elliot Sander as "artistically beautiful and highly functional." Just three years later, the city is poised to spend more than that amount fixing it. Some have argued that South Ferry shouldn't be reopened at all.

The destruction in Battery Park could be seen as simple misfortune: After all, city planners couldn't have known that within a few years the beautiful new station would be submerged in the most destructive storm to ever hit New York City.

Except for one thing: They sort of did know. Back in February 2009, a month before the station was unveiled, a major report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change—which Mayor Michael Bloomberg convened to inform the city's climate adaptation planning—warned that global warming and sea level rise were increasing the likelihood that New York City would be paralyzed by major flooding. "Of course it flooded," said George Deodatis, a civil engineer at Columbia University. "They spent a lot of money, but they didn't put in any floodgates or any protection."

And it wasn't just one warning. Eight years before the Panel on Climate Change's report, an assessment of global warming's impacts in New York City had also cautioned of potential flooding. "Basically pretty much everything that we projected happened," says Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, co-chair of the Panel on Climate Change, and the co-­author of that 2001 report.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/07/hurricane-sandy-global-warming-flooding

Monday, July 29, 2013

Think Russia is Scary? Look at Greece

From Frontiers: http://www.frontiersla.com/positivefrontiers/2013/07/25/think-russia-is-scary-look-at-greece

by Karen Ocamb7/25/2013

Et tu, Bruté? So much attention is being paid now to the anti-gay horror unfolding in Russia that the LGBT community and health care advocates are completely missing an equally horrifying new law in Greece.

The idyllic birthplace of lesbian poet Sappho and Greek mythological gods such as Adonis may not be so alluring now that another Adonis—Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgladis—has reinstated a measure that not only requires mandatory HIV testing but enables Greek police to stop anyone—including tourists—they suspect of being HIV-positive and force them to be tested.  


This is from HIV Plus Magazine

“Health minister Adonis Georgladis has reinstated Public Health Decree 39A, a 2012 measure that allows police to detain people suspected of being HIV-positive and force them to be tested, according the Greek news outlet ENET. The measure also urges landlords to evict tenants who are HIV-positive (as a public health threat).

 

In April 2012, the measure was the catalyst for the forced testing of hundreds of women. The 17 that were discovered to be HIV-positive were splashed across media outlets, with their personal information and photographs published for the world to see. They were characterized by police as "prostitutes" despite the fact that there no evidence was ever provided to back up the accusations. After the women were detained for months, the regulation was repealed and they were sent home.
Now that same measure is being implemented again.

Greece has been seen as increasingly fearful of people with HIV. Rates of the virus have risen over 200% since 2011, most likely due to increased drug abuse and rising unemployment among young adults, which is now over 20%. According to the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV infections among injecting drug users has doubled from 206 to 487 since 2011. At the same time, HIV prevention budgets have taken a major cut, from 35 million Euros in 2010 to 20 million last year.

Continue reading at:  http://www.frontiersla.com/positivefrontiers/2013/07/25/think-russia-is-scary-look-at-greece

Don't You Think It's Time for a Raise?

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/24-10

by Ralph Nader

Thirty million Americans are making less today, adjusted for inflation, than they did 45 years ago in 1968!

If the 1968 minimum wage grew with inflation, it would be $10.67 today. Unfortunately the federal minimum wage is a miserly $7.25.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, U.S. CEOs of major companies earned 18.3 times more than a typical worker in 1965 and in 2012, CEO pay was 202.3 times more than typical worker pay.

Don’t you think it’s time for a raise?

Fortunately, Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) has introduced H.R. 1346, the “Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2013,” which would raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour and index it to inflation.

We started the Time for a Raise campaign to help mobilize citizens across the country to encourage Members of Congress to support the H.R. 1346 and catch up with 1968.
Here’s how you can help:
  1. Visit TimeForaRaise.Org and sign our petition. The single most important thing we can do to is to make sure members of Congress hear from their constituents on this issue. Each petition will be presented in person to your Member of Congress to request a town meeting in your district focused on raising the federal minimum wage. This means every signature counts!
  2. We need citizen leaders in each Congressional district to be district captains to help spread the word about the need to raise the federal minimum wage. Captains will gather signatures, present the collected petitions to their member of Congress and help with media outreach. The time commitment is low — no more than a few days of work — and the upside is high: exercise your civic muscles as a community activist; meet with your Member of Congress; and, most importantly, correct a major injustice by helping thirty million Americans making less than $10.50 per hour receive the increased federal minimum wage they deserve. (Email pdavis@timeforaraise.org to be a district captain.)
Every step in our nation’s struggle for fair working conditions — from overtime pay to the 40-hour workweek to the original federal minimum wage — has been hard earned. This step will be no different. However, if you sign our petition, become a district captain and spread the word about our campaign, we will have a serious chance of securing the increase in the federal minimum wage that low-wage workers have long deserved. 

More than 1.5 million workers living in U.S. make less than minimum wage

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/26/more-than-1-5-million-workers-living-in-u-s-make-less-than-minimum-wage/

By John Light, billmoyers.com
Friday, July 26, 2013


This week marked the four-year anniversary of the last time Congress increased the minimum wage — from $5.15 in 2007 to $7.25 in 2009. Groups demonstrated across the country, demanding increases at both the state and federal level. President Obama pledged that he would continue to press for an increase in his economic policy speech at Knox College.

But there’s another problem: Millions of working Americans make less than minimum wage. In fact, more Americans are exempt from it than actually earn it.

The Pew Research Center examined Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that about one and a half million Americans earned the minimum wage in 2012, but nearly two million people earned an hourly wage that was even less than $7.25 an hour. These workers, for one reason or another, are exempted from the part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) that requires employers to pay at least the minimum wage, and include tipped workers and many domestic workers, as well as workers on small farms, some seasonal workers and some disabled workers. 

The largest of these exempted groups is tipped employees, many of whom work in food service. Today, tipped employees earn just $2.13 an hour — the rationale being that tips cover the rest. In fact, some of these workers do earn a reasonable living through their tips, but, as Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, told us, many don’t. 

“Imagine your average server in an IHOP in Texas earning $2.13 an hour, graveyard shift, no tips,” she said. “The company’s supposed to make up the difference between $2.13 and $7.25 but time and time again that doesn’t happen.”

The Obama administration proposal laid out in the State of the Union calling for $9 an hour also called for an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers, and for that increase to be indexed to inflation. At the moment, the minimum for tipped workers has not changed for 22 years, because, in 1996, Congress detached tipped worker wages from the normal minimum wage at the bidding of the National Restaurant Association — a powerful lobbying organization headed, at the time, by Herman Cain. This leaves millions of tipped workers — a group that is mostly women — living in poverty.