Monday, February 19, 2018

Not a Matter of If, But When

Published on Portside (https://portside.org/)

Not a Matter of If, But When


Shawn Hattingh
February 13, 2018
Monthly Review

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  In early January 2018, capitalists across the globe were celebrating the fact that the Dow Jones had rallied by 45% since the election of Donald Trump. Likewise, brokers were beaming in Sandton when the Johannesburg Stock Exchange hit a high of 61,475 points (up a staggering 300% compared to early 2009 when at one point it sat at 18,465 points). Yet beneath all the exuberance, danger signs abound—including signs that stock, bond and debt markets are experiencing bubbles, which will burst at some point.

   The danger derives from the reactions of the ruling classes and their states to the crisis of 2008. The paths they chose to follow to save and even further their own wealth in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis have paved the way for a future crash that could dwarf the one of a decade ago.

   In fact, the main thing currently keeping the global economy stumbling along—and not crashing down as happened in the 1930s—has been massive intervention by states in the EU, U.S. and China. Since 2008, as even Forbes magazine has pointed out, the U.S. state has spent trillions of dollars bailing out large corporations; many that were and are effectively bankrupt, whilst imposing austerity on the working class. This, at times, also saw states assisting corporations by taking on their bad debts and toxic assets—wracked up through wild bouts of speculation—by swapping this financial junk for government backed bonds. Quantitative Easing (QE) too has seen states assisting capitalists through creating money and handing to over to corporations. Far from using this money wisely, corporations have gone on a speculative binge, leading to soaring stock markets.

Bailouts and QE are not the only methods by which states have propped up an ailing capitalism. Low and in some cases even zero interest rates have been implemented by major states through their Central Banks to further assist corporations since 2008. For instance, for several years the U.S. state kept interest rates at zero; while states in the European Union have even had negative interest rates. Capitalism has become dependent on these low interest rates in the U.S. and EU, without it bankruptcies will proliferate.

  In fact, states find themselves in a bind. The main fear of the ruling classes that control states is inflation and rising wages for the working class–as rising wages slightly dent the vast sums of wealth being funneled up the class pyramid. To halt any inflationary pressure, the U.S. state has slowly and very cautiously been raising interest rates again.

   Should extremely low interest rates end, and be raised to levels even as low as 3%, thousands of businesses will go bankrupt in the U.S. alone. This is due to the reality that 12% of U.S. companies are no longer viable if interest rates even rise marginally. That is, their earnings do not cover their interest repayments, and an increase in rates by the U.S. state would propel them into bankruptcy, so dependent have they become on the continuous supply low interest and even negative interest money from states. According to a report by BofA Merrill Lynch, a similar picture exists in Europe, where 9% of  companies are being described as “zombies”.

   The Trump regime has, of course, not deviated from the path of using the state to prop up capitalism; but has rather deepened it. The slashing of the tax rate to 15% has been another gift to corporations that will in the end total trillions of dollars.

   To fund all of these the bailouts, undertake Quantitative Easing, keep interest rates at record low levels, and fund tax breaks; states have issued bonds—in other words, they have taken on debt.
One problem though is that the key buyers of these bonds are now Central Banks themselves; not a sign of health, but an ailing system in which private corporations are becoming loathe to speculate on bonds that are possibly in bubble territory. Buying up bonds too means major states are seemingly trapped in an endless spiral of debt. This has all been part of trying to keep capitalism from falling into a Depression. Central Banks buying up bonds was also meant to be a temporary response to the 2008 crisis, it has now become a feature of propping up a “zombie” economy’. As the Financial Times has pointed out:

The U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England, along with the Swiss and Swedish central banks now hold more than $15tn of assets, according to analysis by the FT of IMF and central bank figures, more than four times the pre-crisis level. Of this, more than $9tn is government bonds—one dollar in every five of the $46tn total outstanding debt owed by their governments. (Kate Allen and Keith Fray, “Central banks hold a fifth of their governments’ debt,” August 15, 2017.)

  The low interest rates have also seen corporations enormously increasing their debt. This, however, has not been used to invest in productive sectors, but has been used to speculate. This has seen large corporations once again borrowing to speculate on opaque derivatives, speculate on stock markets, and even speculate on fads such as bitcoin. As part and parcel of this, listed companies—from South Africa to the US—have been buying back their own shares to inflate the prices, which has in part fueled the growing stock market bubbles. In the U.S. alone listed corporations have spent U.S. $4 trillion since 2008 using the cheap and free money the state has given them to buy their own shares to boost the prices.

  The size of the debt problem is, therefore, massive. Global state and private debt has risen to over U.S. $233 trillion—300% the size of the planet’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Even China’s debt is beginning to pose problems as it stands at over 260%.

  Under such circumstance, it is not a matter of if the bubbles end; but rather when. When these do burst the states that have been pumping money into the financial sector may find themselves with few tools left in the box to avert a massive crisis. Given state already has vast debts and are already the main purchasers of their own bonds, adding further massive amounts of debt to bail out corporations when the bubbles burst may not be an option. Likewise, states are being forced in the current context to gradually raise interest rates, rather than reduce them—which they used as one mechanism to assist corporations in the crash of 2008. The bad news for the ruling class; their states and companies (and possibly everyone including the working class), therefore, is that they are running out of space to maneuver and they are running out of time.

  When the crash does become a reality, the political and social consequences will be chaotic and very uncertain. Given the fact that the working class internationally is weak, further shifts to the right and even fascism could be a real outcome. Trump and his cabinet could only be the start of dreadful reactionary politics worldwide that could make the already horrendous neoliberalism of the 1990s and early 2000s seem humane.

   If the working class is to prevent this, it needs desperately to revive revolutionary politics in opposition to the ruling classes, their states and capitalism. Capitalism won’t end because of a future crisis, but if the working class can’t build a counter-power it will pay dearly when it happens.

Shawn Hattingh is a researcher and educator at the International Labour Research and Information Group.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Who Is Adam Schiff?


February 15, 2018  JACOBIN

Who Is Adam Schiff?
BY

Resistance leader? Not really. Democratic congressman Adam Schiff personifies the link between foreign policy hawks and deep-pocketed defense contractors.
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House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks to reporters about the recent disclosure of a meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign in the Capitol Visitors Center July 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Since Donald Trump’s election, a number of Democrats have tried to cast themselves as leaders of the “resistance.” Few have done it with more gusto than Adam Schiff.
The California representative has become something like the point man for all things Trump-Russia, using his position as the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee to act as the “guardian against the [administration’s] worst abuses” and making television appearances and public statements to warn about the administration’s alleged ties to Russia.
At the same time, Schiff has solidified his status as one of Congress’s leading anti-Russia hawks. He has ardently supported harsher sanctions on Russia, warned of future election interference by the Kremlin, and cautioned that its operatives are trying “to tear us apart” through their online activities. Last year, in response to the GOP’s decision not to endorse sending lethal arms to Ukraine in its platform — a policy he spent years working with Republicans like John McCain to push — he aggressively questioned those involved as part of the Trump-Russia investigation.
Schiff’s alarmism has paid off for him personally, catapulting him to national prominence and supplying him a potent theme for fundraising. But it also has the potential to be profitable for another group: the arms manufacturers and military contractors that are among his biggest donors.
The Rain Forest in Iraq
Schiff’s hawkishness isn’t limited to Russia. He voted for the original AUMF that has served as the legal basis for the war in Afghanistan and all other aspects of the “war on terror” since. He was an early supporter of the Iraq War, joining twenty-eight other Democrats in handing Bush the keys to invade Iraq, and he insisted on staying the course for much of the 2000s. He also backed Obama’s war in Libya, pushed for the military destruction of ISIS, and called for “greater involvement” in Syria, including setting up a “no-fly zone.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Schiff’s list of campaign contributors in recent years is littered with the names of prominent defense contractors. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK, Harris Corporation, and Raytheon all make an appearance. The latter has given the California representative a total of $64,015 over the course of his career, and in 2013, its PAC held a fundraiser for him at the Verizon Center headlined by Beyoncé. That same year, Schiff was treated to a fundraiser by Igor Pasternak, a blimp manufacturer who returned to Ukraine and, inspired by the 2014 revolution, began working with the country’s defense ministry.
But surpassing all these is Parsons Corp, a multinational engineering services firm whose headquarters in Pasadena have sat in or adjacent to the different congressional districts Schiff has represented over the years. Parsons has been Schiff’s second-most generous funder, donating a total of $101,500 (just narrowly behind Disney). While it gives prodigiously to both parties, Parsons has maxed out for Schiff ($5,000 each for the primary and election) every election cycle he’s been an incumbent — an honor it hasn’t bestowed on any other congressperson.
Parsons’s various subsidiaries receive huge amounts of government largesse. Its “Government Services” subsidiary landed more than $740 million in government contracts in 2017, most of which came from the defense department, while its “Global Services” subsidiary has raked in tens of millions of dollars worthover the last few years, almost all from the Pentagon.
Parsons benefited directly from Schiff’s vote for the Iraq War, becoming the second largest reconstruction contractor in the country. It won a $900 million contract for security and justice, a $500 million contract for renovating public buildings, medical facilities and housing, a $1.5 billion contract for construction and engineering work, and was part of a $1.8 billion infrastructure deal.
And as if war-profiteering wasn’t enough, Parsons’s work in Iraq tended to be rife with problems, including delays and shoddy workmanship. It managed to construct only fifteen of the 150 medical facilities it was supposed to build, and the $75 million police academy it put up in Baghdad was plagued by plumbing issues — light fixtures damaged by human waste seeping through the ceiling, and a room so leaky it was nicknamed the “rain forest.” The special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction later found that nearly every project it worked on was beset with construction failures.
While other lawmakers criticized the company for its failures, Schiff was muted, blaming a lack of oversight and competitive bidding for the problems. At that point, he was California’s top recipient of Parsons money.
The Party Line
Iraq isn’t the only Schiff-backed war Parsons has benefited from. After Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi was killed as a direct result of US intervention, the Pentagon hired Parsons to help the Libyans dispose of his chemical weapons. And Parsons equipment has already been sent to the Ukrainian government for defense purposes.
Schiff’s public inflation of the Russian cyber-threat may also be serendipitous for the company, which over the past six years has been slowly pivoting away from construction toward cybersecurity and missile defense. It has hosted a Cyber Defense Exercise run by the NSA four years in a row, and recently acquired Williams Electric Co., which is set to boost its work in cybersecurity.
Schiff, of course, has been a big backer of US intelligence agencies. Shortly after Trump’s election, he penned an open letter to the intelligence community in which he stressed that its “contribution remains more important to our national security than ever,” and paid tribute to its “commitment to the rule of law,” “unwavering patriotism,” and “sacrifice.” Elsewhere, he has said that criticizing the intelligence community “impairs our national security,” and rebuked Trump for impugning “the tens of thousands of Americans who are at work every day of the year, many in great physical danger, to protect us.”
Other Schiff donors would also stand to profit from the military escalations he has supported. In fact, they’ve acknowledged that rising tensions with Russia are good for business, and in some cases have even called for the policy (allowing arms exports to Ukraine) for which Schiff has spent years advocating.
As the Intercept’s Lee Fang reported last year, the Aerospace Industries Association, a lobby group that works on behalf of corporations like Lockheed and Raytheon, complained that the Pentagon wasn’t spending enough to resist “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep,” and one Raytheon board member called for the US to “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine” because “even President Putin is sensitive to body bags.”
Lockheed’s vice president of air and missile defense systems said at last year’s Paris Airshow that “the threat [from Russia and others] is absolutely increasing and it’s increasingly rapidly,” spurring greater interest in missile defense. While there, Raytheon’s president of integrated defense systems also commented that countries previously hadn’t been interested in missile defense because “they didn’t see Russia as a threat, but now that has changed.”
“As a direct result of the threat dynamic that our customers are seeing, they want to have the ability to protect their sovereignty,” the company’s CEO told CNBC late last year.
Similarly, the CEO and chairman of Nothrop Grumman informed investors last month that “the nature of the threat environment that we observe around the globe today” is going to feed into greater national security investment (from which the arms industry profited). And the CEO of Harris Corporation — which has already supplied $21 million worth of military radios to Ukrainian forces — said to investors on a conference call in January that the perceived Russian military threat was driving up demand for their radios. In fact, back in 2015, when the US government was looking to invest in countering Russian and Chinese competition in space, Harris capitalized by stepping up R&D in space protection. It won $184 million worth of government contracts for this purpose.
Every one of these companies is a donor to Schiff.
No Conspiracy Necessary
It’s impossible to know how much of Schiff’s rhetoric and votes are motivated by campaign contributions. But the link between defense contractors’ interests and an aggressive US foreign policy is undeniable.
Defense contractors who have given lavishly to Schiff talk openly about how tensions with Russia — which he has played a key part in fomenting — are good for business. And Parsons, which financially backed Schiff early on, personally profited from his support for the wars in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Libya.

We’re still waiting to find out exactly how the hand of the Kremlin affected the 2016 election. The symbiotic relationship between the defense industry and congressional hawks like Schiff is far clearer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Branko Marcetic is an editorial assistant at Jacobin. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Former President of Modern Language Association Resigns Following Decision to Ban Debate on BDS

Published on Portside (https://portside.org/)

Former President of Modern Language Association Resigns Following Decision to Ban Debate on BDS


Margaret Ferguson
January 9, 2018
Mondoweiss
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January 9, 2018

To Paula Krebs, Executive Director of the MLA, and to the Officers and other members of the MLA Executive Council

Dear Colleagues,  

   I write with great regret to tell you that I have decided to resign from the MLA. My decision was long and hard in the making. No other past president has taken such a step, to the best of my knowledge, and I am not at all sure it is a step that will bear fruit. Please let me explain why I am leaving.

   By passing Resolution 2017-1, which closed the door in a constitutionally unprecedented way on future debate about the Palestinian call for boycott of Israeli academic institutions, the Association has sent a message to the world that it wants protests about the conditions of teaching and learning in Palestinian universities off the table. Because the resolution misrepresents the MLA’s purpose in its opening clause, leaving out the Association’s long-standing efforts to advocate for humanities educators’ rights; and because the resolution prohibits future discussion of an issue of public concern, eleven past presidents with different views on boycott asked the Council not to treat the resolution as business as usual at its meeting last February. The decision to do just that means that the Association has gone on record as wishing to prevent further discussion of infringements of educators’ rights in the Occupied Territories; instead, the Association agrees that its proper business is with more pressing matters closer to home—home evidently defined as the United States that gives massive financial aid to Israel.  But the MLA’s multilingual members, both teachers and students, come from at least 104 nations; and MLA members of Palestinian descent have testified repeatedly to losing their freedom of expression and movement when they seek to enter the Occupied Territories in order to teach and do research.

  As a member of a small, unofficial group of MLA members who visited West Bank universities in the summer of 2016, at the invitation of a member who works at the University of Bethlehem, I saw firsthand how teachers and students are prevented daily from doing their work of teaching and learning.  My experience in Israel-Palestine, detailed in this report, is one of the many reasons I am giving up my membership in an organization I have participated in and learned from for over 40 years—long enough to acquire the privileges of “life membership.” Those privileges are now a burden to me. I relinquish them to give myself a chance to speak out through a symbolic gesture of separation after having exhausted the means of protest available to me as a member.

  My decision to resign is painful for many reasons. One is that my mother, Mary Anne Ferguson, served on the MLA’s Commission on the Status of Women in the late 60s and early 70s. She saw the Association, as I did then too, as a site in and from which humanities educators could work to effect social change, including improvements in what the current mission statement calls “workplace equity.” The question is whether “equity” will be interpreted narrowly or broadly. With the passing of Resolution 2017-1, the Association has opted for an interpretation eerily consonant with President Trump’s doctrine of “America First.”

   In the years when I first joined the MLA and my mother was working on the Commission, the Association did vote after “divisive” debate to intervene in a public arena that was both national and international by making a statement against the U.S. Government’s conduct of  its war in Vietnam (for a discussion of this historical statement, see my  Presidential Address of 2014). Those were the years when the Delegate Assembly itself was created as a “voice for members” and as a structure that would enable the Association to become more representative (although that remains a difficult concept in the MLA’s documents and election practices). Since the Assembly was formed, the MLA has certainly become more open than it had previously been to the scholarly, pedagogical, political, geographical, and economic concerns of its members, most of whom do not work at the elite, East Coast American institutions from which the Association’s founders hailed in 1883. But the Association has evidently not become more open to discussing what I, and many others, consider to be one of the major assaults on access to education and academic freedom in our time. If the Association could amend its bylaws to affirm its commitment to allowing debate on all issues of public concern to members, I would eagerly rejoin.

   For the time being, the MLA has taken an extreme and ethically untenable position by endorsing the idea, promoted by a group of members who were openly “assisted” by outside groups, that it is illegitimate for professional groups to protest Israel’s policies towards its Palestinian subjects. This despite the fact that the Executive Council clearly does not accept the narrow definition of the Association’s mission given in Resolution 2017-1 when it comes to speaking out about other communities of educators whose academic freedom and freedom of movement are threatened, whether in Trump’s America (see Resolution 2017-2) or in Erdogan’s Turkey.  Having spent part of the last year in a university in South Africa, I am acutely aware that the organization I was honored to serve was dishonorably silent about the South African regime’s apartheid policies.  At a watershed moment when even the mainstream press in the U.S. describes the creation of apartheid “bantustans” in Jerusalem neighborhoods just outside the “separation” wall, I find that I must leave an Association that has chosen again to remain silent, this time by actively proscribing debate.

  Torn as I have been about what to do in the wake of Resolution 2017-1, I have found myself thinking hard about how another former MLA President, Edward Said, might have viewed these matters as he pursued his long effort to balance pessimism of the intellect with optimism of the will. Because he is dead, I cannot ask him for counsel. But I can ask you to consider some words from his book After the Last SkyPalestinian Lives: “Memory adds to the unrelieved intensity of Palestinian exile. Palestine is central to the cultures of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism . . . . There is no forgetting it, no way of overlooking it.” The Palestinian call for justice will keep coming, and the MLA resolution enjoining deafness to it will be questioned from within and from outside in the coming years.

  As the MLA’s elected leaders resume work after the 2018 Convention, where members in many sessions engaged with President Diana Taylor’s theme (#States of Insecurity) by exploring its premise that “the academy cannot be separate from the political, economic, and ideological turmoil of our time,” I hope that there will be robust discussion in your meetings about how, why, and to whose benefit the Palestinian call for boycott was deemed officially unspeakable by the world’s largest association of teachers of the humanities.

Yours sincerely,

Margaret Ferguson
Distinguished Professor of English (Emerita)
University of California at Davis



Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



"An Ideological Firestorm"


"An Ideological Firestorm"

Jeff Dietrich,  February 2018 Catholic Agitator, newspaper for the Los Angeles Catholic Worker

  I have been reflecting on King Lear recently as my wife and I have long passed the age where most people retire. Youth and old age, children and parents, and how and when to retire are the issues of Shakespeare’s play. And these are the issues with which we all must deal at some point in our lives.  For my wife and I, it is a personal issue that also affects the LACW community.  But recent events in the larger Catholic Worker movement have caused me to think that what is happening here in our small community is also happening within the larger movement as well.

The impetus for my thoughts came some months ago when Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, of the Des Moines Catholic Worker, took an acetylene torch and cut through the Dakota Access Pipeline, making it unusable for the transport of oil. In addition, they set fire to bulldozers used in the construction of the pipeline. The pipeline is just one of many pipelines that threaten water tables, rivers, lakes, and the earth it- self, across our nation in the event of their inevitable rupture.

   Their actions have set off an ideological firestorm within the larger Catholic Worker movement, sparking questions about the validity of property destruction, the identity of Jessica and Ruby as Catholic Workers, of Catholic Worker identity and Catholic Worker nonviolence, and whether Dorothy Day, our co-founder, would have approved.

 To be honest, I am still struggling with Jessica and Ruby’s actions.  I am challenged as well as frightened by what they did. Yet I am also honored that they did their action as Catholic Workers.

   It was, in fact, an act of property destruction that originally drew me to the Catholic Worker 48 years ago. As a young man hitchhiking from New York back to Los Angeles, I serendipitously landed at a Peace-makers conference outside of St. Louis, Missouri where I learned of the actions of young people at the Milwaukee Catholic Worker who, inspired by Dan and Phil Berrigan and the “Catonsville Nine,” burned draft files. It was the most radical anti-war action that I had ever heard of. And a few weeks later it was a major motivating force in my decision to join the newly formed L.A. Catholic Worker. The other motivational force as a young, anti-authoritarian “radical” was anarchism.  Distrusting the state, as well as all formal institutions, I was impressed with that aspect of the Catholic Worker movement.

   It is my sense that many young Vietnam protesters and resisters of my generation were attracted to the Catholic Worker because of the radical draft file burnings of the Berrigans and others. In fact, I believe that these acts of radical property destruction revitalized the Catholic Worker movement which had diminished in numbers as a result of Dorothy’s admirable pacifist stance during World War II and did not recover appreciably during the concretive post-war years of the 1950s. The draft file burnings of the Berrigans and others brought hundreds of young war protesters and resisters like myself into the Catholic Worker movement, addressing as it did the most vital issue of the day and aligning itself with the larger anti-war movement.

 Just as many in the movement, including Dorothy, had problems with draft file burnings and the subsequent property destruction of the Plowshares movement, so too many in the movement have problems with the property destruction of Ruby and Jessica.  Some say that their action did not qualify as a Plowshares action because the destruction was actual and not symbolic. Some say that it was not a Catholic Worker action because they had been Catholic Workers only briefly. Some say that it was an act of violence and thus did not qualify as a nonviolent act.

 As I read through the responses to Jessica and Ruby’s action, it seemed to me that many in the movement wanted to define, and in some cases to repudiate that action by what had taken place in the past.  But in my mind, one of the best features of the Catholic Worker is its ideal of anarchism. And because of the general commitment to that ideal, no one gets to tell anyone else what to do. As a young neophyte Catholic Worker, I was intimidated and awed by my elders and I wanted to do things the “right way.”  But as I grew more confident in my abilities, I was really grateful for the latitude offered me by the value of Catholic Worker anarchism.  No one of outside authority, no “Mother House,” no board of directors, no church official could tell our house what to do. And for that matter, no one can  tell the Des Moines Catholic Worker or Jessica and Ruby what they can or cannot do. Like Lear’s faithful daughter Cordelia, who was his youngest child and a speaker of truth despite the consequences, Ruby and Jessica are young and fearless speakers of truth despite the consequences, which could mean decades in prison.  I believe that there is the possibility that Jessica and Ruby, like the Berrigans, are the harbinger of future possibilities for Catholic Workers in the arena of environmental protection, global warming, and alternative energy.  Perhaps their prophetic action will inspire a new generation of young people and recruit a whole new ecological force into the Catholic Worker.

   As my wife Catherine and I move towards our fiftieth year here at the L.A. Catholic Worker, we do not seek to leave or retire in the way of King Lear. And as a former English major, I am well aware that King Lear is one of the greatest tragedies in the English language.  So I do recognize that it is a bit pretentious to compare our situation to King Lear’s. However, I also recognize that it would be something of a minor tragedy if we missed the possibility of insuring the ongoing life of the L.A. Catholic Worker.

 Catherine and I simply want to prepare for our inevitable human fate. Not so long ago we were a community composed of people over 60 with little probability of long-term viability.  Now we are blessed with the gift of many young people and we seek ways to make room for young leadership. We have entered into a process of discerning what from the past is essential and what the Spirit of the contemporary moment calls us to do. The process is much like the larger dialogue inspired by the actions of Jessica and Ruby:  How do we allow ourselves to be inspired by the past but open to new possibilities? We can only hope that our efforts will bear fruit.                                         

 Jeff Dietrich is a Los Angeles Catholic Worker community member and editor of the Agitator.

 Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



Baltimore Activist Alert February 18 through 20, 2018

Baltimore Activist Alert February 18 through 20, 2018

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net.

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  
4] Two friends are in need of movers
5] Organizing for Ethical Behavior – Feb. 18
6] Fundraiser for Ben Jealous – Feb. 18
7] Kicking Hate Out of This World -- Feb. 18
8] BLACK HISTORY IN CONCERT – Feb. 18
9] Vigil to Remember Ukraine's Heavenly Hundred -- Feb. 18
10] Homeless Potluck -- Feb. 18
11] Protest at the Pentagon – Feb. 19
12] Protest for Gun Reform – Feb. 19
13] Community Summit -- Feb. 19
14] Clean Energy Jobs Act -- Feb. 19
15] Our Revolution Maryland in Annapolis – Feb. 19
16] See the film KANGAROO – Feb. 19
17] Women’s Rally in Annapolis – Feb. 19
18] POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN MASS MEETING -- Feb. 19
19] Film “Walking While Black” -- Feb. 19
20] Film “Chisholm '72 - Unbought and Unbossed” – Feb. 19
21] Women’s Rights in the Americas – Feb. 20
22] PG County Council budget hearing – Feb. 20
23] Peace Vigil – Feb. 20
24] No more Drone Research at JHU – Feb. 20
25] Stormwater – Feb. 20
26] Post-Incarceration Opportunity – Feb. 20
27] Film A PLASTIC OCEAN – Feb. 20
28] Film GOD’S COUNTRY – Feb. 20
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1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email 6address to mobuszewski at Verizon.net.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.

4] – Janice and Max are looking for experienced movers to bring furniture from PODS into a house.  Let Max know if you have any suggestions—410-323-1607 or mobuszewski 2001 at comcast dot net. 

5] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon.  On Sun., Feb. 18, the Sunday Platform is “Organizing for Ethical Behavior.” The recent surge by the #MeToo movement focuses on abuse in the workplace and on a power structure that allows unethical behavior to go both unpunished and even unchallenged. For many centuries, workers have organized unions to protect themselves, providing a collective response to injustices that appear individual. This presentation will describe these efforts and the importance of unionism for enforcing ethical relationships in the workplace and for spreading the same values into the community.  Bill Barry is the retired Director of Labor Studies at The Community College of Baltimore County-Dundalk, and the author of a books including “The 1877 Railroad Strike in Baltimore”, “Closing Up the Open Shop: A Guide to Internal Organizing”, and the forthcoming “Don’t Trump on Us; Making Our Unions Great Again.”   Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

6] – On Sun., Feb. 18 from noon to 1 PM, be at a fundraiser for Ben Jealous at the New Deal Café, 113 Centerway, Greenbelt 20770. Tickets available at www.newdealcafe.com. This is a Musical FUNdraiser with KIVA performing from noon to 1 PM. Enjoy some rabble rousing songs!

7] –  On Sun., Feb. 18 from 1 to 3 PM, there is a Kicking Hate Out of This World Workshop, hosted by Gulmakai P. Saleh at MakeSpace, 6082 Franconia Rd., Suite C&D, Alexandria 22310.  The cost for an adult is $5.  The workshop will be led by Gulmakai Popal Saleh, an author and survivor of childhood bullying. There will be two exclusive workshops aimed at empowering children and adults to break the cycle of bullying and hate by becoming creative in creating an environment where there is understanding and empathy among all students. The workshops are suitable for children aged 4+.  This event is highly recommended for parents, caregivers and professionals working with children. Two AWESOME books will be on sale, and don’t forget to get your copy signed by the author.  RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/1597843523625153/.

8] – There is a BLACK HISTORY IN CONCERT Performance on Sun., Feb. 18 at 2 PM featuring The Charm City Labor Chorus, directed by Darryl L. C. Moch at Mt. Washington Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 5800 Cottonworth Ave., Baltimore with Rev. Vera Mitchell. Enjoy Civil Rights songs, including a number of sing-alongs.  The concert is free, donations are welcome.  Call 410-323-4314.

9] – On Sun., Feb. 18 from 4 to 6 PM, get over to a Vigil to Remember Ukraine's Heavenly Hundred, hosted by United Help Ukraine at the Lincoln Memorial, 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle NW, WDC 20037.  Please join United Help Ukraine, the Embassy of Ukraine, US Ukraine Foundation, Razom for Ukraine, US Ukrainian Activists, other Ukrainian organizations, and the diaspora in the Washington D.C. area, come and remember the sacrifices of the Heavenly Hundred during the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014, as well as the sacrifices of brave men and women who died defending Ukraine against Russia's invasion. Bring a candle! Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/143144826398991/.

10] – On Sun., Feb. 18 from 4 to 6 PM, help out at a Homeless Potluck, hosted by Sunday Dinner at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 120 N. Front St., Baltimore 21202. Prepare your favorite dish for the needy! Let them know what you will cook: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lXSnsHzGUKR6Fc3rszW2_LSjj6VJra59IMQpMj9EL68/edit?usp=sharing.

11] – There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is Feb. 19, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr.

12] – On Mon., Feb. 19 from noon to 1 PM, Protest for Gun Reform, hosted by Teens for Gun Reform at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., WDC 20500.  For three minutes, lie down in front of the White House in representation of the victims of school shootings. Bring posters and tell your friends! See https://www.facebook.com/events/154480278543138/.

13] – On Mon., Feb. 19 from 2:30 to 5:30 PM, attend the First Annual Community Summit at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, 430 E Belvedere Ave., Baltimore 21212. There will be a live broadcast from 3 to 5:30 PM.  So activists, educators, politicians, and clergy must come together and develop a plan to move our city forward. You asked for a Summit and WEAA heard your plea. RSVP by calling (443) 885-3564 or by emailing todaywithdrkaye@gmail.com. See https://www.facebook.com/events/155170165290087/.

14] -- On Mon., Feb. 19 at 4:30 PM, get over to the Asbury United Methodist Church, 87 West St, Annapolis 21401 for four legislative priorities.  In conjunction with the statewide Maryland Climate Coalition and legislative champions in both the Senate and House of Delegates, work on the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a bill ensuring that Maryland gets 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. Help ban Styrofoam statewide. This would be mean no establishment or institution can serve on Styrofoam materials, including restaurants.  Work on the Forest Conservation Act, which updates and improves current laws surrounding forests in Maryland. Finally, join in reforming the transparency and stakeholder process of the Public Service Commission. See https://www.facebook.com/events/1768511710122461/. Contact Liz Lee at liz@chesapeakeclimate.org.

15] – Join with Our Revolution Maryland. This day of action combines the issues, organizations, and power of the progressive movement in Maryland. Activists from across our state will come together and meet with their legislators to show their support for our top-priority issues.  All attendees will be given an informal briefing on talking points, up-to-date information on legislation, and specific actions from our elected representatives. Following their briefing, participants will be organized into teams to visit their local State Senator and State Representatives to advocate for Medicare for All/Single Payer Health Care, $15/Hour Minimum Wage, an increase in Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard and Debt Free College Degrees and Job Certification.  Progressive Lobby Day in Annapolis is on Mon., Feb. 19 at 5 PM in the Maryland State Delegate Office Building, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis 21401.  Contact Scott Gledhill at scottgledhill@aol.com or 410-507-0002. Visit http://ourrevolutionmd.com/.

16] – On Mon., Feb. 19 at 7 PM, catch a screening of KANGAROO, hosted by Abramorama at the Landmark's E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW, WDC 20004. Tickets are at http://bit.ly/2E7YZjh,  The panel discussion will be moderated by Maureen Harrington, Vice President of the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association, and will feature filmmakers Mick McIntyre and Kate McIntyre Clere, and guest panelist Becky Robinson, President and founder of Alley Cat Allies. From the heart of Australia comes this comprehensive and controversial documentary that focuses on one of the world's most recognizable icons, the kangaroo. This groundbreaking film reveals the truth surrounding Australia’s love-hate relationship with its beloved icon. The kangaroo ‘image’ is proudly used by top companies, sports teams and tourist souvenirs, yet as they hop across the vast continent, many consider them pests to be shot and sold for profit. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/426571377760670/ or www.landmarktheatres.com.

17] – On Mon., Feb. 19 at 7 PM, attend the Women's Rally in Annapolis, hosted by Maricé Morales in Lawyers Mall, Bladen St., Annapolis 21401. Join the fourth year rallying on behalf of women on Lawyers Mall, 100 State Circle, Annapolis 21401. Speakers will address issues regarding Women’s Economic Security, Healthy Families and Reproductive Justice, and efforts curtailing Violence Against Women. Email Marice.Morales@house.state.md.us or call 301.858.3528. https://www.facebook.com/events/519046228479655/.

18] – THERE IS A POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN MASS MEETING ON MON., FEB. 19 AT 7 PM at the Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 9th St. NW, WDC 20001. At this time of intensifying political, economic, and moral crisis, with the lives of the most vulnerable and the spirits of all under vicious attack, people in growing numbers around the country are fighting back for their lives, communities, and deepest values.  Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King called for a Poor People’s Campaign to begin a “revolution of values” in America. We are reigniting these efforts to unite the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized to transform our nation’s political, economic and moral structures of our society.  Learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival by joining campaign co-chairs the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis to hear faithful reflection and public action on moral issues through storytelling, music, and interviews with local community organizers and impacted people.  Email info@breachrepairers.org.

19] – On Mon., Feb. 19 at 7 PM, Reel and Meal at the New Deal presents a screening of WALKING WHILE BLACK; L.O.V.E is the Answer  at the New Deal Café, 113 Centerway, Roosevelt Center, Greenbelt.  An optional vegan buffet is served at 6:30 PM for $14. The New Deal Café is accessible from the Greenbelt Metro station by buses G 12 and 14.    The film is a documentary about improving police-community relations as a way of addressing the tragic consequences of racial profiling. Following the film, representatives of the Greenbelt Police Department will explain their approach to ensuring racial justice in their policies and procedures and day-to-day actions. For more information on this month’s program contact Nancy Joy Allchin at njallchin@gmail.com. The evening is hosted by the Prince George’s County Peace and Justice Coalition. Go to https://www.newdealcafe.com/events/reel-and-meal/.

20] – On Mon., Feb. 19 from 7:30 to 9:30 PM watch the documentary “Chisholm '72 - Unbought and Unbossed,” a President's Day Screening, hosted by The SNF Parkway / Maryland Film Festival, 5 West North Ave., Baltimore 21201. The Parkway is proud to partner with Black Girls Vote, Baltimore Ceasefire 365, and Film Fatales' Baltimore chapter for a special screening of Shola Lynch's inspirational documentary about the pioneering 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress! 

Following the film, have a conversation about this documentary and the lasting legacy of Shirley Chisholm featuring Nykidra Robinson of Black Girls Vote (BGV) and Letrice Gant and Erricka Bridgeford of Baltimore Ceasefire 365! Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/119313438854614/.

21] – On Tues., Feb. 20 from 9 AM to 1 PM, focus on Women’s Rights in the Americas: Closing the Implementation Gap, hosted by Comisión Interamericana de Mujeres at the Organization of American States (OAS).  In recent decades, the Americas has adopted countless binding legal agreements, political statements and declarations of commitment that provide strong and unequivocal policy and regulatory support to the protection and guarantee of women's rights. On paper, women enjoy a broad range of rights under conditions of equality with men. But the persistent gap between women’s rights on paper and women’s rights in practice is one the biggest obstacles to sustainable development, effective democratic governance and human security. Join a high-level panel of key women leaders of the Americas for a look at some of the main achievements and challenges to the full enjoyment of women's rights and to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Inter-American Commission of Women. See https://www.facebook.com/events/2019192501697575/.

22] – The Prince George’s County Council will hold a Town Hall Meeting on the County Budget Process from 7 to 9 PM on Tues., Feb. 20 in the County Administration Building, Council Hearing Room, First Floor, 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Go to https://pgccouncil.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=429.

23] –  Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine.  The next vigil is Feb. 20.  Call 215-426-0364.

24] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil on Feb. 20,  on this day from 5  to 6 PM. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

25] – On Tues., Feb. 20 from 7 to 9 PM, hear about Stormwater: What's Working - What's Not, hosted by Severn River Association at the Union Jack's of Annapolis, 2072 Somerville Rd., Annapolis 21401. What do we need to do to finally put a stop to these mud-flood events and keep this polluted stormwater out of our rivers and creeks? Richard Klein, with Community & Environmental Defense Services, will discuss why runoff controls fail and which BMPs succeed. See https://www.facebook.com/events/1343427222436578/.

26] – On Tues., Feb. 20 from 7 to 8 PM, have a dialogue with Robert Green on Post-Incarceration Opportunity, hosted by Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville 20850.  Tickets are available at www.cms.montgomerycollege.edu. Incarceration, sentencing, and racial bias are topics that are much debated in American society. Director of Montgomery County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Green has 33 years of experience in one of the most diverse counties in the country which has given him unique perspectives on correctional management and the implementation of special programs that serve incarcerated and returning citizens.  Green serves as the chairman of the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards and on the Maryland Justice Reinvestment Council, roles that allow him to speak on the tradition of American criminal justice, incarceration, and reforms. He is also well versed in racial and economic inequities as well as disparities in education and workforce development. This event is at the Theatre Arts Arena, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville 20850.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/183054379130100/.

27] – On Tues., Feb. 20 from 7 to 9:30 PM, Docs From the Docks: A Plastic Ocean is happening, hosted by Mr. Trash Wheel at Brown Advisory, 901 South Bond St., #400, Baltimore 21231. The Waterfront Partnership and Chesapeake Bay Foundation present the second year of a winter environmental film series, Docs from the Docks.  A PLASTIC OCEAN begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine oceans. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect." Following the film, there will be a panel discussion featuring professionals in Baltimore City whose work focuses on trash, recycling and litter.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/2002091770059469/.

28] – On Tues., Feb. 20 from 7:15  to 9:15 PM, see Louis Malle's “God's Country,” presented by Colette Shade, hosted by The SNF Parkway / Maryland Film Festival, 5 West North Ave., Baltimore 21201.  Tickets are available at www.mdfilmfest.com. The Parkway is proud to present Louis Malle's fascinating and newly relevant documentary about the American dream with a pre-film talk by Colette Shade exploring late 20th century economic history, the farm credit crisis, conspiracy theories, and how American society fell apart. In 1979, Malle traveled into the heart of Minnesota to capture the everyday lives of the men and women in a prosperous farming community. Six years later, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, he returned to find drastic economic decline. Free of stereotypes about America’s “heartland,” GOD'S COUNTRY is a stunning work of emotional and political clarity.  Shade is an essayist, fiction writer, and teacher. She mostly writes about economic history, inequality, and the history of wealth in Baltimore. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/176036089659660/.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs