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Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 12:44 PM
Number of posts: 30,248

About Me

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives


"The doors where closing/time hung by a hair/and that child in the arms of my grandparents./The panic was evident/And everything foretold it ... And then the cold arrived/in the middle of a hurtful glacier, an unbelievable stream of warm water: Everyone said no, and Bolivia said yes."

Refugees: That Time Everyone Said 'No' And Bolivia Said 'Yes'
Updated November 22, 201511:42 AM ET
Jasmine Garsd.

"The refugee has got to be checked because, unfortunately, among the refugees there are some spies, as has been found in other countries." It could have been said today about the Syrian refugee crisis, but those words belong to President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1940.

Back then, many of those refugees — Jews fleeing Nazism in Europe — turned to South America instead. But one by one, those countries stopped issuing visas to fleeing Jews. It was no surprise: for years Nazi and fascist ideology had incubated deep in South America.

But away from all oceans and high up in the Andes, one small South American country kept its door open — a country that has had its share of economic problems and that even today is considered part of the developing world.


More here: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/11/22/456694405/refugees-that-time-everyone-said-no-and-bolivia-said-yes

The Case for Public Housing

What is to be done? Take land off the speculative market, build housing on it, and keep it permanently affordable for anyone who might want to live there. This is being done or attempted in many cities by the community land trust movement, which puts forward a vision of community-controlled affordable housing. I wholeheartedly support that vision. I also imagine a future in which the government, instead of capitulating to the demands of real estate developers, assumes the responsibility of providing shelter itself.

Karen Narefsky ▪ November 20, 2015

When people on the left think about solutions to the housing crisis, few of us think about public housing. Faced with the twin problems of overinvestment, leading to gentrification and displacement, and underinvestment, leading to substandard housing and foreclosures, we tend to think about locally based solutions, which makes sense. Many of these problems are caused by the state in collusion with the real estate industry, and it seems impossible to imagine a future in which the government plays a different role. But I’d like to imagine a future in which many of us live in, and thrive in, public housing.

Any discussion of the future of public housing must begin by understanding its origins. Public housing in the United States first emerged in the 1930s as part of the New Deal, when there was an enormous shortage of housing following the Great Depression. The federal government began by making loans to nonprofit corporations to build housing. This program produced very few housing units, due both to the lack of qualified builders and to the inefficiency of channeling public funds through the limited-dividend corporations. As a result, under the Public Works Administration, led by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the government decided to enter the housing business: rather than paying companies to build government-subsidized housing, the state would build and maintain housing through local housing authorities.

< snip >

In its relatively short history, public housing has suffered from rampant corruption in some cities, and from the failure of many local housing authorities to maintain and repair housing projects. But this doesn’t mean public housing is a flawed concept, just as “underperforming” public schools whose students are burdened by poverty don’t serve as proof that public education is a failed endeavor. Public disinvestment is the first step in a now-familiar playbook that leads to privatization ...

More here: https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/case-for-public-housing-vienna-chicago

A Suitcase Full of Passports

Everybody knows about Davos men and the global elite, and of course borders exist a lot more for the poor than they do for the rich. The rich figured out how to benefit from this system, and this is why it exists.

Booked: A Suitcase Full of Passports
Timothy Shenk ▪ November 19, 2015

Timothy Shenk: One of the statistics in this book that blew my mind is that, by some estimates, there are upwards of 10 million people who are stateless in the world today.* How did that happen?

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian: This statistic is from one of the UN agencies. It’s really hard to get an exact number for obvious reasons. These people are not documented, so governments don’t really have a good grip on how many there are and where they are. It happened in many different ways. Let’s start with the Persian-Gulf countries, because those are the ones I talk about the most in The Cosmopolites. When we talk about the Gulf states we have to remember that they are quite new—they were formed in the past fifty, sixty years at the earliest. These borders were not there before, and many of these countries were British protectorates. When the borders were drawn and these states were formalized as nation-states, a lot of people didn’t sign up to register as citizens early on. Many populations in that region were nomadic, and they thought, “Why should I sign up? This is where I’m from.” But as these states‘ bureaucracies grew, it became more and more important for people to be documented. Many of those people—called the Bidoon in this region, which means “without” in Arabic—have tried to sign up since, but the Gulf States are not always so accommodating. It varies by country and it varies by person. There is a wide perception that the resistance is a form of racism or tribalism, and of these governments being really stingy. When you are an Emirati citizen, you have a house provided for you, you get a stipend, you get cash when you get married. They make Sweden look stingy. But these benefits are paid for with the oil money, and you can hardly call it a social democracy.

Shenk: A social plutocracy?

Abrahamian: Right. And the benefits are largely distributed among a very, very small group of people, who are mostly related to each other. So you can see why it would not be in the state’s interest to include more people in this group.

Much more here: https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/booked-atossa-abrahamian-cosmopolites-global-citizen-comoros-passports

The right exploits fear for political gain

The fact that governors don't have the power to ban refugees from their states--under the United States Refugee Act of 1980, it's the president who is authorized to accept refugees--didn't stop the ludicrous posturing. "There is a close collaboration with governors and mayors and community leaders about the capacity of the area for refugees and where they can go, but once they have legal status, you cannot impede their transit between different states," Lucy Carrigan, a spokeswoman for the International Rescue Committee, told the Washington Post.

Nicole Colson reports on the response of the U.S. political elite after the Paris attacks.
November 19, 2015

AMID THE outpouring of grief following the November 13 attacks in Paris, U.S. politicians and the media are, true to form, asking the question they always ask: What can we get out of it? How do we turn a tragedy into an opportunity for narrow-minded political gain? The answer, it turns out, is a hefty dose of xenophobia and racism about the supposed threat if refugees and asylum seekers are allowed to relocate to the U.S.

Never mind that the U.S. has pledged to take a pitifully small number of those risking their lives to escape violence. Some 800,000 refugees and migrants, largely from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have fled to Europe this year, while according to the New York Times, as of September 2015, the U.S. had accepted just 1,854 Syrian refugees.

< snip >

Those basic facts haven't stopped a wave of Republican politicians from posturing about the threat of terrorism from refugees, particularly from Syria. As of November 18, 29 governors had released statements to that effect. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was typical. In a letter to Barack Obama, Abbott said his state would refuse to participate "in any program that will result in Syrian refugees--any one of whom could be connected to terrorism--being resettled in Texas." ...

More here - http://socialistworker.org/2015/11/19/the-right-exploits-fear-for-political-gain

Remembering Joe Hill and his music ~

Music was a centerpiece of the Wobbly “movement culture.” However, I wouldn’t say this came into existence with the IWW. Earlier, the abolitionists and the Gilded Age labor movement made singing, songwriting, poetry and other forms of writing a key part of their efforts. Coal miners and Jewish textile workers had already developed a strong working-class poetic and musical tradition, as did the Knights of Labor. So Joe Hill and Woody Guthrie were standing on big shoulders.

Remembering the Life and Music of Labor Agitator Joe Hill, Who Was Executed 100 Years Ago TodayDavid Cochran

Joe Hill saw his music as a weapon in the class war, composing songs to be sung on soapboxes, picket lines or in jail. And 100 years ago today, the forces of capital and the state of Utah executed him.

< snip >

Born Joel Hagglund in Sweden, Hill immigrated to the United States in 1902, changing his name to Joseph Hillstrom, which would eventually be shortened to Joe Hill. Working his way across the country, Hill became politicized, eventually joining the Industrial Workers of the World. Popularly known as the Wobblies, the IWW sought to organize those workers more mainstream unions avoided—the unskilled, migrants, immigrants, minorities—in an effort to combine the entire working class into One Big Union.

As a Wobbly, Hill was active in free speech fights in Fresno and San Diego, a strike of railroad construction workers in British Columbia and even fought in the Mexican Revolution.

In 1914, Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City and charged with killing a storekeeper, allegedly in a botched robbery. Despite the flimsy nature of the evidence, Hill was convicted and sentenced to death, with the prosecutor urging conviction as much on the basis of Hill’s IWW membership as any putative evidence of his involvement in the crime. An international amnesty movement pressed for a new trial, but the Utah governor refused and Hill was executed by firing squad on November 19, 1915. In a final message to IWW General Secretary Bill Haywood, Hill urged, “Don’t waste any time in mourning—organize.”

Much more here - http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18386/joe-hill-labor-music-execution

Coffee Talk (found on Twitter)

Vote for Bernie -

for Time person of the year!


Who is leading right now?


The war-makers demand a blank check

Today in France, the New Anti-capitalist Party says, "Their wars. Our dead."

Danny Katch ~ November 18, 2015

THE MORNING after the deadly attacks in Paris, the Economist took the fact that trains and planes were mostly running on schedule as evidence that the mood among ordinary Parisians was one of "defiant normality." This idea of Western civilization maintaining a stiff upper lip against the barbarians at the gate has become a cliché of the "war on terror." George W. Bush went so far as to advise the American people to keep shopping after the September 11, 2001, attacks, or the terrorists would win.

Of course, people understandably hope for "normality" in the wake of a crisis. I worked in the vicinity of the World Trade Center when the September 11 attacks took place, and in the days afterward, some of my co-workers were relieved to get back to the routines of daily life--and somewhat thankful, since thousands of our neighbors no longer could.

< snip >

In the days after 9/11, the U.S. ruling class feverishly planned wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, expanded government surveillance programs and pushed through the civil liberties-shredding USA PATRIOT Act. This week, the French government escalated its participation in the U.S.-led war on ISIS, declared a three-month state of emergency and began considering a range of drastic changes to the constitution that will weaken basic democratic rights ...

Much more here: http://socialistworker.org/2015/11/18/the-warmakers-demand-a-blank-check

Race, College and Safe Space

The New York Times
Charles M. Blow ~ 11/16/15

However, one must condemn the forces of anti-black oppression just as vociferously as one condemns black people’s responses to those forces, including when those responses extend beyond the boundaries of social acceptability and decorous propriety. Otherwise, one’s qualms are an overture to pacification and the propping up of the status quo. You can’t condemn the unseemly howl and not the lash.

Before there were the Paris terror attacks that changed everything and the second Democratic presidential debate that changed nothing, much of America had been transfixed by the scene playing out on college campuses across the country: black students and their allies demanding an insulation from racial hostility, full inclusion and administrative responsiveness.

There was a part of the debate around those protests that I have not been able to release other than by writing here, one step off the news, but hopefully in step with the history of this moment.

Last week I heard artist Ebony G. Patterson talking about the black body as a “site of contention,” and that phrase stuck with me, because it seemed to be revelatory in its simplicity, and above all, true.

Black bodies are a battlefield: black folks fight to defend them as external forces fight to destroy them; black folks dare to see the beauty in them as external forces condemn and curse them ...

Much more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/opinion/race-college-and-safe-space.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-1&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion®ion=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

Beyond the Wage System

There’s a famous quote that Frederic Jameson, among others, has repeated about how “It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” I’d go a step further: it’s easier to imagine the end of capitalism than to imagine the end of work as we know it. Our imagination is so dominated by this one activity that it becomes difficult to imagine having a different relationship to it. Even on the left, there is an all-too-common assumption that we are laboring creatures, and that our dignity is tied up with our waged work.

Beyond the Wage System
Kathi Weeks ▪ November 9, 2015

Here’s my pitch for a universal basic income: it’s the best way I can think of at this juncture to respond to the inadequacies of the wage system. There are two basic inadequacies that I want to cover here: underwork and overwork.

The wage system is supposed to do two things. It’s supposed to be a mechanism for the accumulation of capital and profit, and I think it’s doing a pretty good job at that. But it’s also supposed to be a means for distributing income to the rest of us. And that’s where the problems start.

Here, again, there are two dimensions. Obviously, too many people are left out of the wage system as a mechanism for distributing income. Think about the levels of unemployment, which have always been necessary to the capitalist system as a way of maintaining economic “health.” Today’s “jobless recovery” is perhaps the most obvious sign that the wage system is not working ...

Much more here: https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/beyond-wage-system-kathi-weeks-universal-basic-income

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