Thursday, June 30, 2016

An Italian Communist Views Italian And American Politics

We caught this interesting post on the Marxism-Leninism Today blog. 

Alessio Arena is the General Secretary of Fronte Popolare, a Marxist-Leninist activist group centered in Milan and Turin. He is also the author of Où Vont Les Italiens? Entre Réactions et Résistances au Nouvel Autoritarisme (Éditions Delga, 2012) [Where are the Italians Going? Reactions and Resistance to the New Authoritarianism] He visited the United States for three weeks in June, during which MLToday did the following interview.

MLT: Why are you visiting the U.S.?

AA: This is my first trip outside Europe, and I decided to come to the U.S. basically for political reasons to learn more about the culture, society and politics of the country that is the center of imperialism. Though I have seen some tourist attractions, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the World Trade Center, Wall Street, Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum, and Greenwich Village, including the statue of Garibaldi in Washington Square Park, this was not my main interest.

Mainly, I have been interested in trying to understand the prospects for the rebirth of a Communist party and left movement in the United States. For this reason, I have met with many people including trade unionists, Bernie Sanders supporters, peace activists, an activist in the Free Mumia campaign, and various communists and Marxist-Leninists, including of course those involved with

MLT: Why is this important for you at this moment?

AA: Given recent developments like the coup in Brazil and the attempts to undermine the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and Bolivia, that there is little hope for socialist and people’s movements in the world without a strong movement in the United States to restrain the hand of imperialism. Moreover, whatever positive happens with the left in the United States has a powerful impact on the left elsewhere in the world.

MLT: Tell us something about Fronte Popolare.

AA: Fronte Popolare is a militant organization inspired by Marxism-Leninism that was founded a year ago September by a split of the Young Communist Leagues in Milan and Turin (the most important industrial and financial centers of the country) from the Communist Party Refoundation. Its goal is to contribute to the reconstruction of the revolutionary thinking that corresponds to the needs and expectations of Italians today.

There were many things leading up to this split. I myself was a Communist militant in this party for eight years. In the end, because of our differences with the party over participation in popular struggles, we concluded that the party had become hopelessly revisionist.

Fronte Popolare is small but has a young and very active cadre. The average age is 25. It has organizations in Milan and Turin. It has activists in the trade unions and works closely with the USB, the 600,000 strong public sector union affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions, as well as with other unions known as CUB and COBAS, and the opposition within the CGIL, the mainstream trade union federation. We have supported strikes and factory sit-ins by workers. We also work with students in high schools and universities. We work with local collectives that defend public property against speculators who are attempting to privatize it. We also work with anti-fascist collectives that defend democratic rights and the constitution against the growing rightwing threat. We have a website and make regular video transmissions for a leftwing wing video site.

MLT: Does Fronte Populare consider itself a Marxist-Leninist party?

AA: No. We do not consider ourselves a political party. A party is not only a tool but also a formation that demands a certain level of organization and the development of internal functioning and external methods of work in the society. We consider ourselves a Marxist-Leninist activist organization that is laying the basis for a party.

It would be wrong for a small group as ours to call itself a party. A party signals the stage at which revolutionaries can in some way contest power. It is necessary for us to grow in numbers, gain experience, and establish greater roots in the working class. In other words, a party must be capable of posing at all levels of the society the problem of power. In Italy at this moment no one on the left can seriously claim to have attained this level. Fully aware of its own insufficiency, our organization nonetheless recognized that the time has come to assume its responsibilities and contribute to the gathering of forces necessary to reconstitute a revolutionary vanguard.

MLT: Could you tell us something of the history of Italian Communist Party, namely what led to the dissolution of the once great and powerful CPI in 1991?

AA: We consider the history of the PCI (Italian Communist Party) fundamental to our heritage and our identity. Obviously, it is difficult in a few lines to analyze the complex process of the ideological and political decline of the PCI. Of course, this is a complicated question and the fate of the CPI cannot be separated from the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, the dissolution of the CPI also had uniquely Italian causes. You might say that the history of the CPI was related to the application of Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony.

That is, for 40 years the party worked very successfully to build Communist centers of power within Italian capitalism. It controlled the largest trade union. It had considerable influence in the universities and media. It controlled many cities and towns. And in the center of the country particularly around Bologna it built a very successful cooperative movement (la Ligue des Cooperatives) that ran factories, controlled construction, did food processing and so forth. Indeed, this cooperative movement was a major player in Italian capitalism. This strategy made a lot of sense during the Cold War, when the presence of U.S. imperialism in Italy, including military bases and troops, made an open struggle for power inconceivable.

Yet, this very success generated tremendous rightwing pressure within the party. Of course, there was resistance to this pressure. But in the end, these social democratic forces prevailed. It is up to Communists today to rethink the strengths and weaknesses of Gramsci’s ideas in light of this history and our new situation.

On top of this, there was the problem of external ideological pressure during the Cold War, the state repression of the workers’ movement over dozens of years and the infiltration and treason that harmed the party.

All such analysis is necessary to go forward but not to rebuild an experience that is definitely over. The slogan of refounding the Communist Party is valuable but not as a project of nostalgia and not with the revisionists and class collaborationists now in charge of the Communist Party Refoundation. For them refoundation is just a marketing ploy. For us it means pulling the important lessons from the past to build the future.

MLT: How do you regard the European Union?

AA: The Fronte Popolare participates in Eurostop, a platform of opposition to the EU that unites many forces in all countries. A valuable presence in this struggle is the union USB. In general we consider “Europeanism” incompatible with the international and patriotic perspective that we wish to build in Italy.

We think that the struggle for political power will happen by the reconquest of national sovereignty and by the formation of institutions capable of posing the question of popular power at a national level. It is for this reason that we are preparing to fight against the constitutional reform of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi by proposing the slogan of winning back the Constitution of 1948, because this was a constitution that represented the heritage of the Resistance and that aimed to radically transform our country.

The British decision to leave the EU opens up a good prospect for this fight. We will use Brexit to build a left way for an “Italexit” and an end to the E.U.

MLT: While you have been in the U.S., Italy has held municipal elections. What is your assessment of the outcome?

AA: This election represented perfectly the state of confusion and the absence of alternatives that typifies Italy today. The country has suffered the loss of 700,000 youth who have left the country seeking work abroad, a phenomenon that duplicates the Italian past. The unemployment and insecurity destroy the hopes and expectations of people and require retirees to use their savings to support their children who cannot make a life of their own. The corrupt politicians in the service of the bourgeoisie are seen by the population as part of the problem not a solution. And thus electoral participation is reduced. All options of the so-called left are simply ignored by the people because they lack credibility.

The sole exception is Naples, where the mayor, Luigi De Magistris, is an independent leftist who has built an interesting model of citizen participation, in the context where the only national parties that support him (PRC, PCdl and SEL) represent hardly 5 percent of the vote.In the main, the outcome was a catastrophic setback for the ruling PD Party of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The PD won in Milan and Bologna but lost in Rome and Turin to the 5 Star Movement, in Trieste to the center-right, and in Naples to De Magistris. In general, the people know what they don’t want the politics of Renzi and patrons of the UE and NATO, but the only alternative is the 5 Star Movement.

The 5 Star Movement , however, is no real alternative. It began as an anti-corruption movement spurred by the popular comedian, Beppe Grillo, and funded by a web media entrepreneur, Gianroberto Casaleggio. Though it has acquired some populist trappings, it is in fact a dangerous movement based on the promises of social media and an illusory futuristic vision of a web-based democracy. It is a movement strongly backed by Goldman Sachs.In this context, Fronte Popolare works openly for class politics in cooperation with all sincere democrats while solidly affirming its Communist identity.

MLT: What is your assessment of the way forward for the American left today?
AA: Even though we seriously study the situation in the U.S. and know the situation of the American left quite well, it would presumptuous to give advice. Still, there are obvious similarities in the situation faced by Marxist-Leninists in our two countries.

We think, of course, that it is important to be clear on one’s own ideology, but with confidence in one’s ideology one can work with all kinds of people. The most important thing at this stage is to organize and participate in action of all kinds—strikes, demonstrations, festivals, memorials, meetings, and so forth. Only action, particularly struggle, brings people to the movement. Of course, it is difficult to organize actions when your numbers are small.

Therefore, it is necessary to look for allies with groups that are willing to undertake united action. In the future, such alliances might develop into deeper unity.This at any rate is our perspective. Next month in Milan, for example we are organizing a festival with food, music, political discussions, and international participation. It will include a day devoted to the Free Mumia campaign. This is a tremendous undertaking and expense for a small organization, but we must do things like this to grow and have an impact.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sanders Statement on Democratic Party Platform

BURLINGTON, Vt. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders issued the following statement on Sunday on a Democratic Party platform draft:

“The lesson of Brexit is that while the very rich get much richer, working people throughout the world are not seeing the global economy and an explosion of technology benefiting their lives. In fact, in the United States the middle class has been in decline for 35 years while there has been a huge increase in income and wealth inequality. Unfettered free trade has made multi-national corporations more profitable and their CEOs richer, but it also has led to the loss of millions of good-paying jobs in this country and a race to the bottom.

“The challenge for us today is to take on the greed and power of Wall Street and corporate America, and create a government and an economy that works for all of us and not just the 1 percent. In our anger and frustration, we must not succumb to the bigotry and divisiveness of Donald Trump and others like him.

“This is precisely what the struggle over the Democratic Party platform is about. We need to create a Democratic Party which fights for working families and not wealthy campaign contributors.

“I am glad that we have won some very important provisions in the platform drafting process so far, but much more needs to be done.

“There is very good language in the platform that calls for breaking up the largest Wall Street financial institutions and a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. I am glad that the platform drafting committee is on record to expand Social Security, to create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and to end the outrageous tax loopholes that enable the very rich and large profitable corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

“Unfortunately, however, the platform drafting committee voted down some very important provisions. Despite Secretary Clinton’s opposition, as a candidate for president, to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, her supporters in St. Louis voted down a proposal to keep the trade deal from coming up for a vote in Congress. The Clinton delegates also voted down definitive language to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Despite the growing crisis of climate change, they voted against a tax on carbon, against a ban on fracking and against against a requirement for 100 percent clean energy by 2050.”

“The platform drafted in St. Louis is a very good start, but there is no question that much more work remains to be done by the full Platform Committee when it meets in Orlando on July 8 and 9. We intend to do everything we can to rally support for our amendments in Orlando and if we fail there to take the fight to the floor of the convention in Philadelphia. It is imperative that this platform be not only the most progressive in the history of the Democratic Party, but includes a set of policies that will be fought for and implemented by Democratic elected officials.”

Sanders also discussed the platform during an appearance Sunday on “State of the Union” on CNN.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Support Striking Twin Cities Nurses!

The Minnesota AFL-CIO has issued the following request for solidarity with striking Twin Cities nurses. This important strike comes after the Verizon strike. We seem to be entering a period of large and concentrated strikes. Please help!

Nearly 5,000 nurses at Allina hospitals in the Twin Cities are on a seven day strike. They are standing up for their patients and to keep healthcare affordable for fellow nurses.

Walking the picket line can work up an appetite. Let’s give them a hand and send some meals their way. If anyone is able to donate lunch or dinner (easy stuff like pizza, sandwiches, etc., Nothing that needs refrigeration or to be kept hot), please contact Geri Katz at 651-252-5510 or

You can donate to any of the following strike locations:

Abbott Northwestern Strike HQ: Stewart Park, corner of 26th St and 10th Ave, Minneapolis, behind Abbott. Quantities: Usually several hundred people at once. Smaller crowd in the evening, maybe 100-150.

Phillips Eye Institute HQ: Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 2315 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis. Much smaller location. Quantities probably only need to be enough for a couple of dozen people.

Mercy Hospital HQ: Classic Bowl, 11707 Round Lake Blvd, Coon Rapids. Numbers: hundreds.

United Hospital HQ: St. Paul RLF. Quantities: hundreds

Unity Hospital HQ: home of Bill and Cheryl Cox, 7701 Terrace Rd, Fridley, across the street from Unity. Smaller than United, Abbott and Mercy, but still hundreds.

Thanks in advance for helping our Minnesota Nurses Association sisters and brothers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bernie Sanders, Labor, Ideology and the Future of American Politics---A necessarily controversial post

Bob Master has written a well-argued analysis of where we are just now as part of the left, and particularly the labor left, in the US. The article captures the contradictions of the moment and will be controversial. For those reasons, and not because of my agreements and disagreements with what Master has written, I hope that this post gets shared and discussed. CWA's endorsement of Sanders and the Verizon strike and this analysis done by the Legislative and Political Director for CWA District One have kept me proud of my CWA membership.

The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, contrary to all expectation, has become the most important left insurgency in the United States in nearly half a century. A year ago, even his most optimistic supporters might have hoped that Sanders would enliven the presidential debates by challenging Hillary Clinton on issues of Wall Street power and big money corruption, and perhaps garner a quarter to a third of the primary vote. Instead, Sanders won primaries and caucuses in 23 states, and amassed over 12 million votes and nearly 43% of the pledged delegates. And all this while unapologetically and unabashedly proclaiming himself a “democratic socialist,” re-legitimizing a systemic critique of US capitalism for the first time since the one-two punch of Cold War reaction and neoliberal triumphalism froze the left out of mainstream American discourse two generations ago. The power of Big Banks, job-killing trade deals, ending the corrosive influence of big money in elections, eliminating private insurance companies from the health care system, and the merits of a “political revolution” became staples of prime-time presidential debates. Once stunning poll numbers now seem commonplace: 43% of Iowa caucus goers, including roughly a third of Clinton supporters, describing themselves as “socialists”; a New York Times poll late last year which said that 56% of Democratic primary voters had a “positive view of socialism;” and Sanders’ overwhelming support among young voters, by margins as high as 84% in Iowa and New Hampshire, but even reaching the low 60s in states like South Carolina, where he was otherwise crushed. Indeed, Sanders’ remarkable popularity among “millennials” prompted John Della Volpe, the director of a long-running Harvard University poll of young people, to tell the Washington Post that Sanders is “not moving a party to the left. He’s moving…the largest generation in the history of America…to the left.”[1] Something significant is definitely going on.

At this writing, just after the California primary, it appears virtually certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, and despite her historically high unfavorable ratings, she is likely to defeat Donald Trump in the November election. But the unexpected breadth and fervor of the Sanders movement signifies that the shifts in US political discourse engendered by the financial collapse of 2008 and the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 are enduring. Bernie Sanders did not produce this moment—after all, he has been saying literally the exact same things about American society for over 40 years. But as in any movement moment, when the zeitgeist shifts and a leader’s vision gives voice to the hopes of tens of millions of people, the unthinkable suddenly becomes possible.

Despite its enormous promise, the movement has displayed critical limitations. Although Sanders worked hard to enrich his campaign’s analysis and message on issues of concern to people of color, the primacy he gave to questions of class, economic inequality and corporate power evidently prevented many African-Americas and Latinos from seeing themselves in his campaign. This is confounding given that African-Americans were especially hard hit by the ravages of the neoliberal, trickle-down economics Sanders attacks. Black family wealth, already only a fraction of their white counterparts, was halved after Wall Street melted down in 2008, and poor people of color were disproportionately victimized by the predatory loans which fed Wall Street’s speculative bond machine.

But African-American primary voters overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton. One leading Pennsylvania African-American faith leader explained to me that many black voters, especially older women, viewed their support for Hillary as upholding a “social contract” that was forged in 2008: after they abandoned Hillary for Obama that year, it was understood that eight years later she would have “her turn.” Younger activists of color, even some who support Sanders, say they didn’t “feel the Bern” because of his initial stumbling response to the challenges of Black Lives Matter protestors. And Michelle Alexander, who eviscerated the Clinton policy legacy in a Nation magazine article entitled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote,” attributed African-Americans’ 2016 allegiance to the Clintons to a widely held feeling that Bill Clinton was the first President “who actually treated black folks like they were real people, who could be viewed and treated as human beings…who actually would sit down to eat with them and sing in their church and acted like he enjoyed it, who recognized us as human beings.”[2]

Race remains at the core of the American tragedy, and the struggle for Black Lives will not be subsumed in a broader movement. The future potential of a continuing post-Sanders’ radical mobilization for economic justice, racial justice, and democracy will only be realized if it integrates the social critique and constituencies mobilized by BLM and movements for immigrant rights. The support Sanders received from leading black intellectuals, artists and elected officials, like Alexander, Ta-Nehesi Coates, Cornel West, Ben Jealous and Keith Ellison suggest that bridging the gap between the Sanders campaign and the emergent black mobilization is by no means out of the question. Here the labor movement, which despite all its flaws and limitations, remains by far the largest multi-racial institution of working people in our society, could play a crucial role in ensuring that whatever movement building effort that follows the Sanders campaign reflects the increasingly diverse face of American society.

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

If you live in Salem, Oregon then you should join us on Sunday, June 26 at 5:00 PM at this event

Willamette Valley Oregon United for Florida

Sunday, June 26 at 5 PM

Southside Speakeasy
3529 Fairview Industrial Dr SE, Salem, Oregon 97302

This is a show to benefit those affected by the shooting that occurred in Florida on Sunday, June 12th. We are uniting as one to show our love and support to those on the East Coast.

This event is open to those 21+ only. The event includes a silent auction, drag show and raffle. Anyone interested in donating auction items please contact the link below directly.

More information to come, flyer to come as well.

Go here for needed info.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance And Other Key Voices Respond To The Orlando Massacre

APALA Responds to Orlando Shooting
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance stands in solidarity with millions of individuals across the nation and the globe to mourn the victims of the Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016. Our thoughts and prayers go out to these individuals, their families, those injured, and all communities who are affected.

It is especially heartbreaking that this act of violence has occurred during the month dedicated to uplifting the LGBTQ community, a time of celebration and unity, and the month of Ramadan, a period of peace and self-reflection.

APALA condemns rhetoric that serves to further divide our communities and reminds all Americans that the acts of one individual do not represent all Muslims. The constant attempts to use institutionalized polices and rhetoric, such as the term “radical Islamism”, to scapegoat the Muslim community will only fuel anti-Muslim bigotry and lead to additional policies that normalize violence against AAPIs and other communities of color.

Moreover the 49 victims of this massacre targeting the LBGTQ community, including many whom were Latino, depicts the type of fear our queer and trans brothers and sisters have to live with every day because of their identity. This tragedy cannot intimidate LBGTQ people to continue to live in terror, but instead we must all be resilient and band together to stop hateful acts of homophobia and transphobia in America.

Sunday’s horrific shooting was, sadly, not an isolated incident. This year alone, we have seen 134 mass shootings and many more hate crimes throughout the country, patterns of violence that cannot continue. A taxi driver was shot in Pittsburgh, and a store owner in New York City was attacked – two instances of hate crimes all motivated on basis of the victims’ faith. APALA strongly cautions against the compounding of additional hate crimes and the pitting of people of color against each other as both our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ and Muslim communities understand what it means to be targeted. Together, we are stronger and call for all political, religious and civic leaders to unite against prejudice and violence directed at any group.

The tragedy in Orlando marks one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history and comes at a time where excessive gun violence highlights the dire need for policy change. APALA decries the wide availability of firearms and explosives, along with policies that standardize profiling and surveillance of marginalized communities. We join the national call to strengthen our gun control laws to ban assault weapons and bolster background checks and federal encouragement.

“The continued targeting of marginalized communities, from Charleston and Colorado, and acts of terror, from Boston to Brussels, remind us of the deadly force of fear and hate. We stand united against the demonization of entire communities, and denounce all acts of homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia,” states APALA National President Johanna Hester.

“We have far to go to in addressing the deep rooted hate, especially towards marginalized people, that continues to plague this country,” reflects APALA Executive Director Gregory Cendana. “We must support each other in these tough times. It’s a shame that mass shootings, hate crimes and other forms of violence are still as common as they are today. And lastly, we must continue to love, to heal, and to grow.”

APALA remains committed to creating spaces where all people can live without fear of being targeted for their sexuality, sexual orientation, their faith, the color of their skin or any other self or perceived identity.

Click HERE to read the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD) Statement.

Click HERE to read the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) Statement.

How we can fight the corporate dictatorship: The People's Tribune nails it!

The People's Tribune gets it right again:

According to a famous story, car manufacturer Henry Ford and labor leader Walter Reuther toured a new automated engine production plant during the mid-1950s. Ford reportedly commented that all the machines in the plant didn’t pay union dues, to which Walter Reuther replied that they don’t buy cars either.

If you find the logic of this story funny, keep in mind that the corporate dictatorship that is sweeping across Michigan today is no laughing matter. Also keep in mind that when capitalists replace workers with machines to ensure higher profits for themselves, it’s just a matter of time before producing more and more things with less and less people becomes producing everything with no one. If no one has a job, how are people supposed to buy the things they need to survive?

Obviously, long before that point is reached people are going to rebel. It is under these circumstances that the ruling class is imposing a corporate dictatorship spearheaded by the emergency manager laws of Michigan. Emergency Managers, appointed by the governor, come to your city and replace democratically elected officials like mayor and city council, void union contracts, dismantle public school systems, and sell off public city assets to corporations for pennies on the dollar.

These emergency manager laws, dubbed the ‘dictator laws’ by the people of Michigan, were overwhelmingly voted out in a statewide referendum, only to have the corporate owned legislature reinstate a new version that is referendum proof in ‘democracy be damned’ fashion.

The whole world is now finding out that it is these same emergency managers, who receive their orders directly from corporate Governor Rick Snyder, who made the decision that poisoned the entire population of Flint with polluted water. In spite of that fact, the emergency manager system continues and the people of Flint continue to get polluted water along with a water bill each and every month, adding insult to injury.

Flint resident Antonio Nelson summed up the situation when he said, “Politicians have made their decisions that got us here. Now, it’s our time. The people with less income will make more of an impact and guide the discussion to make change for the better.” Truck driver Jimmie Stephen added, “The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) had a job to do, and they ignored it. None of the politicians have helped us. I think the community is just going to have to band together to resolve our problems.”

In fact, it is the American people, many of them the least among us, and not government on any level, that has mostly come to the aid of the people of Flint with bottled water and caravans and whatever else they can spare.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

"...nobody can afford to close their eyes and ears. Nobody can afford to wonder 'For whom the bell tolls?' The bell tolls for everybody."---George Mavrikos of the WFTU

World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) General Secretary George Mavrikos provided the following remarks at the the Plenary Session of the 105th International Labour Conference held on June 6. During his speech he underlined the importance of international solidarity to the workers in struggle around the world, the importance of class struggle against the capitalists and the governments and the preparations for the 17th World Trade Union Congress on 5-8 October 2016 in Durban, S. Africa.

The Speech of the WFTU General Secretary:

“Ladies and gentlemen,

Colleagues, representatives of trade union organizations,

On behalf of the World Federation of Trade Unions, I want to express our internationalism to the workers of France, who have been organizing strong, massive mobilizations against the anti-labor policies of the Francois Hollande government. The law promoted by the French government, attacks rights that were won through workers struggles.

We extend our solidarity to the people of Brazil, which is struggling against the antidemocratic, parliamentary maneuvers of the bourgeoisie; we unite our voices with the heroic Palestinian people which suffer from the Israeli politics. We are on the same side with the peoples of Syria and Venezuela which are in the aim of the imperialists and the capital.

Today, in all European Union Countries, the attacks of all governments against the workers and against trade union rights are generalized. This policy is centrally planned; it is a central strategic choice of the European Union and the monopolies.

In fact, these strategies have one aim: to convert us into modern – day slaves. Slaves without salary, labor, social security and democratic rights.

At the same time, state violence, the persecution against the trade union movement and those who fight in the first line of the struggles, is getting stronger and stronger.

Right now, as we are speaking here in Geneva, fighters of the World Federation of Trade Unions are in prison, because they fought defending the workers.

In Colombia, elected union leader Huber Ballesteros is in jail for 3 years now.

In Guatemala, Julia Amparo Lotan, a vice-president of WFTU, is in prison for over a year, facing fabricated charges. In Paraguay, Ruben Villalbe, a leader of rural workers, is held in prison for over 4 years now, for organizing the struggles of his sector.

We will not let these comrades alone, not even for a moment, until they are free. The WFTU is proud for these cadres and their proud and militant stance.

Also, a central problem for the working class today, and not just for European workers, is the defense of the life of the immigrants and refugees, who are trying to save themselves by leaving the war zones. The main reason of this situation are the imperialist wars, imperialist interventions, who aim to steal the natural and economic resources of the peoples.

This image of the millions immigrants and refugees, side by side to the antilabor and antipeople policies of the governments, is exploited by xenophobic, racist and neofascist political forces. Neofascism is again threatening the peoples.

Facing this situation, nobody can afford to close their eyes and ears. Nobody can afford to wonder “For whom the bell tolls?” The bell tolls for everybody.

The World Federation of Trade Unions, that is preparing for its 17th World Trade Union Congress on October 5 to 8, is developing a modern, militant, unitary, class oriented strategy in order to give the answer of the workers side and the side of the class oriented trade union movement.

We are saying to the governments and the multinationals: We will not let you make us slaves of the 21st century.

We are telling to the world working class: united, with class unity, like brothers, we will make unions stronger, we will make participation of the youth in the unions stronger and having internationalism and solidarity among us as our weapons, we can successfully organize our defense and offence. Until the elimination of exploitation of man by man.

Thank you.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

From Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

Two comments on the Orlando Massacre

Our friend Kai has written the following:

Hatred takes many forms. It can be expressed through religion, through "science," through the so-called neutrality of the law, through the state (prisons, police, military, etc.), and through various sets of norms in our society. The ‪#‎PulseShooting‬ was the result of a man expressing his hatred, NOT THE RESULT OF RELIGION.

While he stated that his justification was Islam, the real culprits were AMERICAN CULTURAL VALUES, found right here in the U.S. He was violent because America teaches violence, fosters its growth, and encourages its ends.

He was inspired by America's rugged individualism (a value rooted in hypermasculinity and misogyny), fueled by homophobia (the root, again, being misogyny), encouraged by a hypermasculine discourse (recently being championed by our *misogynistic* elected officials), and enabled by the state's pro-gun policies.

Arguments that place religion at the center of the problem, and not American values, are direct results of the very *American* values that resulted in that tragedy.

FUCK the people saying this was Islam's fault. THIS WAS AMERICA'S FAULT. It's about time we look at what values we live by, how we teach them, and how they affect those who have the least power in our society. Because there is no scapegoat in this shooting. There is only the realization that OUR SOCIETY created it.

Our friend Ahjamu has written the following as well:

So we woke up today to the sad news of another mass shooting. This one in Orlando, Florida. Fifty people reported killed. This is of course a tragedy to see more pointless loss of life. The families and communities will be filled with grief for a lifetime and this is truly unfortunate. Equally if not more unfortunate is our continued inability to move beyond just reacting emotionally in order to place these events into any type of logical perspective. I don't make this statement lightly and I'm not at all insensitive to the suffering the people who have lost loved ones are feeling today. In fact, I come from the type of community where people get shot all the time. Shot by police. Shot by each other, dead as a result of the oppression of the capitalist system. I've had loved ones shot and killed from senseless violence so I certainly understand the trauma associated with that, actually much better than most who are doing the talking about it. This is really the point of what will be communicated here. As I'm writing this, the capitalist media machine is in overdrive using the massacre to paint the picture of Islam as the culprit. They are continuing their propaganda effort to convince you that you are not safe as long as "these Muslim people" are able to decide they can kill you in the name of "Allah." That's what they have been messaging all day and they will continue to message the massacre this way in spite of the very real circumstances that demonstrate to us that much more is really happening here than what they are claiming.

I guess when these tragedies occur, we are all supposed to become so wrapped up in our emotional trauma that we are incapable of connecting history to what is happening today. What I mean is since the days of the so-called colonies, this country has promoted, preached, and demonstrated that violence is an acceptable and preferred method of addressing any contradiction. Examples? The violent theft of Indigenous land, and the resulting and continued violent subjugation of the Native peoples. The forced servitude of Europeans escaping violent religious persecution in Europe, and the continued exploitation, manipulation, and pimping of the White working class. The subjugation of Africa, the theft, murder, and exploitation of millions upon millions of Africans and the continued exploitation and repression of Africa and African people. Capitalism was built on violent subjugation and it's maintained on it. The capitalist countries, all of them, are where they are e.g. industrialized, rich, and technologically advanced, because of their violent subjugation of humanity. And this society doesn't even deny this. Instead, they glorify it. The people who perpetuated the violence are held up as heroes. Slave holding George Washington. Indian killing Andrew Jackson. Slave holding Thomas Jefferson. War mongering George Bush (both of them). Prison profiteering and country destroying Bill and Hillary Clinton. And Barack Obama who is without question a war criminal for his sanctions of war crimes against the people of Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Memorial Day glorifies violence. Veterans Day glorifies violence. The Fourth of the Lie glorifies violence. Thanksgiving glories violence. In fact, this country's so-called national anthem speaks of "bombs bursting in air." Nowhere is peaceful resolution of conflict encouraged, taught, and nurtured on a level that can even be confused with being of mass character. So, in spite of whatever theories people have for why these tragedies happen, whatever reasons you come up with, the fact these tragedies keep happening cannot realistically be a surprise to anyone. The largest mass murder in U.S. history? That's a joke right? What about Tulsa in 1921? Hundreds of Africans killed by government bombing! What about Wounded Knee in 1980? Hundreds of Indigenous people killed by the military you want us to honor. What about the hundreds of massacres of Africans and Indigenous people's that have taken place over the last several hundred years, where thousands were killed? There's no question that they are perpetuating pure fantasy that violence is somehow unnatural in this country. As Jamil Abdullah Al Amin (H. Rap Brown) said in 1968, "violence is as American as apple pie!"

Imperialism knows that people utilizing violence isn't a surprise. That's why this system works so hard to propagate to you who's suffering you need to view as worthy and who's suffering you don't even need to acknowledge. Its not that we don't think vigils should be held for victims of senseless killing, we do, but we wonder out loud why whenever a massacre happens to people in the industrialized capitalist countries e.g. the U.S., Belgium, and France, the masses of people mobilize that very same day to pay respects to the dead yet numerically, more people are massacred in Nigeria, Gaza, Syria, and Libya, based on the same pretenses, you say the people in Orlando were killed, yet you don't take the same course of action in those instances? Why? Nigeria is no farther from the U.S. than France. There were over 50 people killed in Chicago over the so-called Memorial Day weekend and Chicago is right here in the U.S. So, before you change your social media picture to identify with the victims in capitalist countries, take a second to think about this contradiction. The reasons these things happen like they do is because imperialism has established a clear hierarchy around who's lives matter and what they want you to see as a threat. This is important because in order to justify their continued subjugation of the masses of people, they have to convince you - subconsciously - that some people's lives matter more than others. And, they have to convince you that you are not safe and the reason you are not safe is because someone, the Muslims, are after you. Take it from someone who has traveled all over the world alone with a U.S. passport. No one is after you. What people are really after is what imperialism has stolen from them, but imperialism has many of you convinced that you are responsible for what imperialism has stolen and benefits from, even if you don't benefit from it. They are forcing you to believe you have to be their shock troops because they have tragically convinced you that their enemies are your enemies.

Whatever the reasons for these shootings, we can easily pinpoint it back to the capitalist system and its institutionalized organization of oppression as the cause. This is true in each case. That's why when the massacres happen, you can count on capitalism/imperialism to capitalize in seconds on the event to reinforce its interests and to redirect away from the true reasons for these violent occurrences. Imperialism's interests are to keep the masses of oppressed people divided so that it can continue to conquer all of us. They focus primarily on working class Whites because you have proven the most easy to manipulate because you want so badly to believe that the lies imperialism has told all of us for centuries are all true. If you just work hard, you will prosper. The truth is imperialism has prospered and you have gotten its crumbs, but now, imperialism and capitalism are in a state of severe decline and are therefore unable to provide even those crumbs to so many White working class people. So they have to create someone to point the finger at for you so you don't recognize that they are the problem. One hundred and fifty years ago, they told White people your problem is the Africans when slavery ended. That worked so well that it remains their go to card even to this day, but they have others. Communism for many years was their culprit. You hate it and you are against it even though it has never happened and even if it had, you know so little about it that you couldn't properly identify it if communism walked up to you and slapped you in the face. Now, they are telling you its immigrants and Islam and the fact they are using many of the same arguments they have used to scare you for the last 150 years (Africans were taking your jobs in the 1870s. Now its immigrants) you are so willing to go along with them that they continue to scare you with the same lies. Its like the no good parent who continues to disappoint you while keeping you strung along with the promise he will come and pick you up and take you to the park, even though he leaves you sitting by the window waiting for him each and every time. So, the latest villain is Islam. They are now the source of your problems. And, you are so programmed to react to this message on an emotional level that you never stop to think how illogical this argument actually is (and always has been). You cannot name one job immigrants are doing that would be suitable to you. If that was so, you would have been doing the job all along. You can't even name two or three rational aspects of Arab life and culture nor for Islam as a religion. You don't know anything about the Arab world to even logically argue what it is you have that they want. Its as if you are so insane that you actually believe people are intent on killing you just because you are wonderful, White, and in this country. And, besides what imperialism has fed you, you cannot argue cohesively that Muslims have anything to do with the violence taking place. From what I read, the shooter today was a G4S employee, the same company that exploits Africa as one of its largest employers. This company produces prisons, while also playing a critical role in maintaining Israeli apartheid against Palestinian people. Who knows what the connections are here, but you won't consider any of that. Imperialism has tricked you by calling mass shootings by European men acts of mental disease, instead of terrorism so you will completely and ignorantly ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of mass shootings happening are being carried out by European/White people. So, this backward system has set up an informational disconnect where a young white boy can walk in a church and kill nine Africans because he wants to terrorize African people, but you don't see that the way you see today's massacre, but if an Arab man kills people because he wants to terrorize them, its now an international conspiracy to you. You let someone as ignorant and stupid as Donald Trump tell you he will fix all of this and you have absolutely no tangible or logical method to do that other than creating more terror against innocent people. You cannot even explain intelligently what he will do that's any different than any other representative of imperialism. If any of them had the key to your problems you wouldn't be as mad and ill-rational as you are right now, would you? You are being used to divide working people against one another and you are a willing participant in your own oppression. If you are mad at anyone, it shouldn't be the Muslim community, it should be the capitalist classes and yourself for being such a historical fool, over and over again.

So, for all those with good intentions, have your vigils and find your peace. Somewhere along the way, think about why you aren't thinking of a vigil the next time people are massacred in Africa or the Middle East? Ask yourself why white supremacist terrorists who target people of color are given a pass as confused individuals, but people of color are automatically a part of international networks of violence? Ask yourself why it is that you believe a system built and maintained on violence would produce people not inclined to commit planned and random acts of violence? Ask yourself why some people hold less value than others? Ask yourself why so many people, primarily White people, who are oppressed by capitalism as this is being written, are so determined to see themselves and the capitalist system as one and the same? After all those questions are out there and exhausted, than ask yourself who benefits from all of these questions we are raising? Once you do that, then when you attend the next vigil, maybe we will finally start getting the answers we are looking for.

We are of course interested in other interpretations and analysis coming from the left. If you have something that you want to say, please send it our way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Greg Ledbetter, SEIU Local 503 Member-Leader, Talks About What Is Important

We recently asked a few SEIU Local 503 member-leaders to write for our blog without strings attached and without political agreement with our line being taken for granted. We have done some recent coverage of SEIU Local 503 and the recently-held SEIU convention and these statements or essays may be understood to be in response to those posts.

First to respond was Greg Ledbetter, now president of the SEIU Local 503 retired members sub-local. We posed some basic questions to him: How did you get involved in Local 503? What has kept you involved over the years? What is it about 503's program and SEIU's program which interests you most? How do these programs come into being? Is there something missing from the programs which belongs there? Do you think that the goals of the program are achievable? What would the union look like and society look like if the goals were won?

After a 10 year stint in the property and casualty industry as an insurance adjuster I went to work for the Oregon State Insurance Commissioner in 1991 as an insurance investigator. The position was represented by SEIU 503 although we called ourselves OPEU (Oregon Public Employees Union) and represented only state workers then. I joined the union upon completion of trial service, became a shop steward a few years later. At about the same time my position with the state changed when I took a transfer to being an insurance consumer advocate, a position much more in line with my talents and outlook.

In 1995 two things happened to me, we (SEIU 503) went on a week long strike and I met my future and current wife on the picket line of that strike. I became more deeply involved with the union and no longer think of it as the union but as my union, us and we rather than them. I served as the president of the sub-local at the Department of Consumer and Business Services for four or five terms. I also was elected to the bargaining committee three times and chair of it twice.

I also worked several times for a total  six months or so on staff in a couple of different capacities.

I retired, along with my wonderful wife, in 2007 on a wonderful PERS pension that I wish everyone could have.

However, thanks to a bylaws change passed 15 years ago by 503 I have been able to maintain an active role even though I am no longer working in a represented position. We created a sub local consisting entirely of retirees . I currently am serving as president of the local (known as 001) and as such also have a position on the Board of Directors of SEIU 503. I was elected to the Executive Committee of the Board this past year and have worked closely with the past three executive directors and SEIU 503 statewide presidents.

What kept me involved for what is now 25 years?

Being involved with an organization that espouses the same values I have.

It began with the exhilaration of the 1995 strike, continued with being able to help co-workers deal with the bosses who would treat them unfairly, and was strengthened by seeing what I saw as a democratically run organization choose to transform itself once again into something different. We recognized as early as 1995 that Grover Norquist was a threat to Oregonians and that if we lost on the political front it did not matter much how great a bargaining agreement we had we public employees were still screwed. This was actually the reason for the 1995 strike. I think it enabled leadership to move many things forward in the next several years that might otherwise have not been possible such as dues increases and the inclusion of private sector homecare workers in the union.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Burgerville Workers Organize For Themselves And Others

I’m a member of the Burgerville Workers Union. Our vision is a $5-an-hour raise for all hourly workers, health care benefits for all workers, and fair and consistent scheduling. We also want a more sustainable workplace. There are things we need in order to work; things like childcare and help with transit. We have hundreds of people who are busing to work.

The BVWU is by and for Burgerville workers. Everyone in it and everything about it is being decided upon by Burgerville workers. It’s a democratic organization.

I need a raise now. The cost of living is going up, and I don’t know if I can make it from paycheck to paycheck. The minimum wage legislation is great, but $15 in five years is too long for me to wait. So my co-workers and I are coming together to do something about our situation now. The BVWU vision is that all hourly workers get a $5-an-hour raise starting immediately. This is fair. This is what I need to survive and build a life for myself. Without a raise, I don’t know what will happen – if I’ll ever be able to go to school, if I’ll ever not be living on the edge, or even if I’ll be able to keep my apartment.

I want to make enough to live.

A raise is very important, but the workers in the union also have a vision for change. The most important part of this is that we are standing together, realizing that we’re not alone, and that we can work together.

I hope the BVWU inspires other workers. The organizing and standing together that we’ve done to fight for some power in the system that’s built against the working people can be done in other places as well.


The Critical Situation In Guinea-Bissau

Below are two statements regarding the critical situation developing in Guinea-Bissau. The first comes from the The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and the second comes from Ahjamu Umi and the All African People's Revolutionary Party in Portland. We are also including a long video for educational purposes. The Guinea-Bissau Mission ion the United States can be reached at (212) 896-8311 and at

PAIGC Statement

The The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) publicly denounces the paramilitary forces that have surrounded the Government Palace with tear gas, machine guns and other arms, contrary to promises made to not use force to remove comrades in protest. They are preparing to assault the installations with armed bastions.
The PAIGC responsibilizes the President of the Republic, Jomav) the unique constitutional legal authority in the present context) for any physical damage infringed on leaders, militants and supporters of PAIGC and democracy.

The PAIGC calls attention to Guineans and the International Community on the facts of force, violence and intimidation being carried out by paramilitary forces sent by illegal unconstitutional illegitimate authorities.

The PAIGC exhorts all its militants and supporters and civil society and the international community to be vigilant to all the incendiary initiatives to destroy political order, compromise peace and the spirit of dialogue to safeguard democratic rights.
Bissau, 7 June 2016
PAIGC National Secretariat.


Greetings All,

As you know, the All African People's Revolutionary Party is currently engaged in work on a worldwide basis to bring about Kwame Nkrumah's dream for one unified socialist Africa. As a critical part of our strategy from Nkrumah's "Handbook" we are organizing ideological unity between African liberation movements on the ground throughout the African world. One of the political formations we have had major success with this work is with the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (PAIGC) in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. The PAIGC is the governing party in Guinea-Bissau today, but as you know, neo-colonialism will never permit Africa to be free without a fight. Currently, our progressive comrades within PAIGC/A-APRP are under seige in Guinea-Bissau while a reactionary element loyal to imperialism is attempting to stage an illegal coup in Guinea-Bissau. Our comrades are currently in the governing building protesting the proposed coup. The paramilitary is attempting to engage in psychological, and possibly physical, warfare against our revolutionary cadre in order to remove them. The masses of people in Guinea-Bissau are responding, but we need your help. Please respond by flooding the office of Guinea-Bissau Secretary of State for Public Order with phone calls demanding that the military be withdrawn and that our people not be obstructed, harassed, or terrorized in any way. PLEASE DO THIS IMMEDIATELY!


We encourage A-APRP comrades, supporters and BSOs to contact the illegitimate “Secretary of State for Public (dis) Order, Marcelino Simões Lopes Cabral aka “Djoy” +245 96 668 2722.

I realize it is difficult for people in the U.S. to understand these events in Africa, but rest assured, your efforts are appreciated and will greatly assist the work we are doing worldwide. Please let know if any questions.

Amilcar Cabral, Guinea and the PAIGC

Some follow-up to our SEIU convention coverage

We did a couple of posts on the recently-held SEIU convention. Our focus was on SEIU Local 503, the larger and more influential of two SEIU locals in Oregon. We offered several leading Local 503 member-leaders access to this blog to provide their own coverage or analysis and we're waiting for their articles.

In the meantime, the Stern Burger with Fries blog followed up with this post on SEIU's relationship to the fight for a $15 minimum wage. That article opens with these paragraphs:

At SEIU’s convention in Detroit last month, SEIU officials trumpeted theirFight for $15 campaign and announced they’ll soon establish a “Fight for $15 Organizing Campaign Center.”

Apparently, it’ll be non-union.

SEIU’s top officials are denying the right of Fight for $15 organizers to join a union, according to charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Approximately 100 “Fight for $15” organizers across the US -- who are funded by SEIU but employed by subsidiary organizations such as the Western Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago -- earn wages and benefits substantially lower than those of SEIU staffers.

So on April 12, “Fight for $15” organizers formally asked SEIU officials to allow them to join the “Union of Union Representatives” (UUR), a staff union that already represents SEIU’s organizers across the nation.

The UUR’s president, Conor Hanlon, explained it this way:

"We are strong believers in the work of the Fight for $15 campaign. Our [UUR] members work side by side with non-union staff who are on the front lines of this campaign. Why, then, should Fight for $15 staff not be part of our union?"

The same blog has an important piece on the possibility of SEIU and AFSCME merging. This article opens with:

The proposal reportedly has been under discussion for a year by a committee formed by the two unions.

According to Tasty’s sources, the two unions’ merger discussions are driven by concerns about Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the U.S. Supreme Court case that could weaken public-sector unions by challenging their right to collect fair share fees from nonmembers to cover the costs of representation, such as negotiating contracts.

Together, SEIU and AFSCME represent approximately 3 million public-sector workers.

In December of 2015, the two unions held a first-ever meeting between their lawyers “to share ideas and best practices to deal with issues confronting all public employees, such as Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association…”

The three-day event began with a panel discussion by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, Steve Fantauzzo (Chief of Staff to AFSCME President Lee Saunders), and each union’s general counsel.

In February, the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia left the court deadlocked on the Friedrichs case, with Senate Republicans subsequently refusing to consider Obama’s nominee to fill the vacant seat.

Scalia’s death appears to have slowed the two unions’ plan for a full merger. The resolution approved at SEIU’s convention holds open the possibility of a full-blown merger while immediately calling for the establishment of “unity partnerships” between the two unions at the local, state, and national levels in order to carry out joint planning, organizing, bargaining, and political work.

These “unity partnerships” sound a lot like the “unity councils” established by former SEIU President Andy Stern, which were intended to coordinate activities between SEIU locals.

Another article on the important issue of the union's stand on the democratizing the US presidential endorsement process is here.  

Watch this before you take that vacation in France....

The Revolution In The Philippines Reaches A New Level

We are not always cognizant of some political struggles which directly affect us. Our poor understanding and relationship to the many freedom struggles underway in the Philippines is a case in point: in Oregon we have a view into Hawaiʻi, the Pacific Rim nations, Polynesia and the Philippines, and we live with people from all of these places, but we know little or nothing about their tremendous democratic, independence and socialist movements. Many people in the US are hard-pressed to find the Philippines on a map.

There have been moments when we were not so self-centered or looking in other directions. On the eve of the Second World War there were strong bonds between the lefts in the Philippines and the United States, farmworkers with roots in the Philippines were a militant founding force in the west coast farmworker movements, Teamsters for a Democratic Union activists in California have drawn on the energy of Filipino cannery workers and the 1981 assassinations of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes came as a violent pushback against a broad movement which linked working conditions here to human rights in the Philippines. This is only a quick recital of a few leading movements; there is much more to research and discuss here.

The current situation in the Philippines is complicated and we can't do a full analysis here. Even getting the basics down for US readers is difficult. If you are reading the standard news sources here you are learning that the newly-elected Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is the devil in blue suede shoes, a kind of violence-prone and profane Donald Trump with mass support and struggling in a social crisis-driven situation while facing off against a humanitarian and human rights constituency which has either been outfoxed or buried by the same social crises. If we stop with this analysis we miss the important complexities of the situation.

Duterte has had some considerable contact with the left and some sort of power-sharing agreement is being debated. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is the most prominent and most deeply involved left political force which stands to benefit from a coalition government. Behind such a coalition government stands the possibility of increased anti-imperialist forward movement and forward movement as well for real independence and democracy and some higher levels of social peace. All of that is possible, or at least more likely, if debate and discussions move forward.

A quick and long catch up article is running in the current issue of Links. We recommend this as a starting point for the left in the US,

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines takes up some of the issues raised in the Links article here. A more pessimistic view is given in Jacobin here. The main value of the Jacobin article is that it shows a particular pole in some of the discussions underway in the US. The Philippine Revolution Web Central has some statements which will help readers trace developments to the point that we are at today. The possibility of something like a Bolivarian revolutionary movement rooting itself in the Philippines and taking power has been forecast and debated for some time and a series of articles here show how this concept has developed.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Solidarity with Mosier, Oregon!

The following comes from a message circulating from our friend Laurie Dougherty in Salem:

Fortunately no one was hurt in the oil train wreck and fire at Mosier, OR on the Columbia River Gorge and the fire has been put out. However, the wreck happened dangerously close to schools and homes, some of which were evacuated. For hours the wreck spewed toxic smoke over the community and the river and compromised the town's sewage treatment plant. This morning the Washington Department of Ecology is working to contain an oil sheen on the river.

Here is coverage in the Oregonian:

Laurie was organizing a solidarity event in Salem. Here is the description of a solidarity event which was organized in Hood River.from Dan Serres of Columbia Riverkeper:

- Solidarity with our sister city of Mosier, Oregon, Small Enough to Make a Difference, population 433.

- Focus on Governors Brown and Inslee. “This is the future of the Columbia gorge as a fossil fuel export corridor and its simply unacceptable for our community- it’s unacceptable for any community- and if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.”

- We call on Oregon and Washington to do everything in their power to protect the Columbia River, Columbia River communities, and to stop the use of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area as a fossil fuel export corridor. 

- We ask President Obama and our federal elected leaders to support a ban on high risk oil train shipments through the Columbia Gorge and other US communities.

- Deny oil train projects: no more oil infrastructure!

Laurie Dougherty

Friday, June 3, 2016

We told you: Keep it in the ground

From the Oregonian today:

"A multi-car oil train derailment Friday in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier sent up a massive plume of black smoke and stoked long-standing fears about the risks of hauling crude oil through one of the Pacific Northwest's most renowned landscapes."

Read the rest here.

Image from

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our Liberals

Our Liberals

Our liberals sleep too easily
on beds of nails,
cross the quicksand
that is every sidewalk
on ballerina toes,
run their interminable races
with a devil at their heels
and against a clock
with no hands.
They are the stuff
of alabaster and slate,
tombstones and chalkboards
are their favored mediums.

How precious sleep is
to the arsonist, the dreams
of conflagrations yet to come!
"And have you seen Nureyev perform?
Why, one could hardly guess..."
The idle chatter of the drowned
becomes tomorrow's headlines
and laurels rest unsteadily
on the heads of those
who have no compass;
they, at least, have found a path
of least resistance
in the jungle.

Edgar Cayce's message from beyond
is writ large on the banners
of our liberals, a seance serves
for their party conventions.
Our liberals sleep
soundly on their beds of nails.
Hush! Do not disturb them
lest a nightmare
wake our liberals.