Saturday, February 27, 2010

ACORN wins a big one against right-wing attempts to defund it

ACORN won a big battle in its struggle to overturn the unconstitutional congressional provisions specifically naming it for defunding. According to The Center for Constitutional Rights,
Yesterday, Wednesday, federal judge, for the second time, granted an injunction against Congress’ unconstitutional de-funding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to apply to federal budget provisions signed into law by President Obama in December 2009 and ordered the United State of America and several named agencies to rescind orders cutting off funding to ACORN and its affiliates and allies. A preliminary injunction was won in December 2009 in the Center for Constitutional Rights’ (CCR) case charging Congress with violating the U.S. Constitution’s protections against Bill of Attainders and the First and Fifth Amendments in several recurring resolutions. Today’s opinion extends that protection by ordering a permanent injunction and directing agency heads to disregard the provisions denying funding and to rescind the memos that implemented the Congressional action.

I think the best way to understand the congressional attack on ACORN is to ask, who's behind it? Or maybe, why is ACORN being targeted now? The answer is simple. The Republicans and their right-wing allies (the line between these two is getting more and more blurred) are deathly afraid of the enfranchisement of poor people and mostly people of color. That's exactly who ACORN is organizing. ACORN has fought for the last 40 years to get poor people, working class people and people of color access to the American dream. In very simple terms that means enfranchisement, education and a good job and home of one's own. These are hardly radical ideas. But they do require some changes, which the Republicans and their right-wing allies are ideologically against. They are opposed to broader enfranchisement, greater access to education and to home loans because securing access to these rights requires government intervention, the great bugaboo of the right.

ACORN is being targeted by the internal enemies of democracy because above and beyond everything else they are scared to death of the enfranchisement and empowerment of poor people and working people, particularly people of color. It's not accidental that this anti-ACORN attack follows the election of a person of color to the what is still to them the aptly named White House. It has not been missed by these people that if only the votes of white people were counted in 2008, John McCain would now be president. So the enfranchisement of poor people, people of color and young people does not bode well for the future of Republican/right wing power. And the primary goal of ACORN has always been the expansion of voting rights. But not just to expand the franchise, but to educate people how to exercise their power - the vote is only a part of that struggle. The struggle continues between the power of bribery (oops, I mean campaign contributions) and the power of the vote of an ORGANIZED constituency. And that's what ACORN does, it helps people to organize so that they can exercise their power. Human centered social change has never happened unless people were organized. And prepared to exercise their power both inside and outside the electoral process. Resistance is key and it takes many forms.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The politics of The Hurt Locker and Avatar

If you are following the race for the Oscar - or even just interested in the politics of the nominated films - this article addresses the politics of The Hurt Locker and Avatar. Since the media (especially film critics) has essentially ignored the politics of these two films, Mamoon Alabbasi's article fills in some of the spaces. I think there is more to be said about both films, especially Avatar, but this is a good beginning.

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The War Resisters League's income tax pie chart

The pink shows how much of your income tax dollars are used to support the U.S. military.

Just so you know what you're paying for:

Hot off the press! Tax Day Pie Chart FY2011

The War Resisters League's famous "pie chart" flyer analyzes the Federal Fiscal Year 2011 Budget (released in February 2010). Perfect for Tax Day!

Each year, War Resisters League analyzes federal funds outlays as presented in detailed tables in "Analytical Perspectives" of the Budget of the United States Government. Our analysis is based on federal funds, which do not include trust funds--such as Social Security--that are raised separately from income taxes for specific purposes. What you pay (or don't pay) by April 15, 2010 goes to the federal funds portion of the budget.

Order print copies via WRL online store,
or by phone at 212.228.0450

Downloadable versions are available on WRL website

Orders can also be mailed to:
War Resisters League
339 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012

If you have questions about ordering, email WRL at

Copies are available for $.10 each (1-199), $.07 each (200 or more), $.06 each (500+) plus 20% postage. Call for information on very large or rush orders.

The War Resisters League spends a lot of time, energy, and money to create this resource. Please credit when using. For permissions to reprint, email us at

Monday, February 22, 2010

1000 U.S. Deaths in Afghanistan: Vigil Tues Feb 23, 5:30-6:30 pm

1000 U.S. Deaths in Afghanistan!
Vigil Tues Feb 23, 5:30- 6:30 pm:
Rockefeller Center, Manhattan

According to the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan has reached 1,000 as of, Feb. 22.
An untold number of Afghans have also died. Just this weekend at least 27 Afghan civilians were killed by a NATO airstrike.

Join other NYC peace groups in a commemorative candlelight vigil:

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 5:30 pm
Rockefeller Center:
West side of 5th Ave bt 49th and 50th St

In a candlelight ceremony, names of U.S. military and Afghan citizens who have died in war-related incidents will be read, to the somber beat of a drum.
Invited political and celebrity speakers, including actor/author Malachy McCourt, actress Kathleen Chalfant, State Sen. Bill Perkins, civil liberties attorney Norman Siegel, and others will make brief remarks.

At 6:30 p.m., the vigil group will walk to the Times Square recruiting center for more comments, name readings and songs by the Raging Grannies
(Route: down 5th Ave, turn right on W. 44th St., walk to recruiting center at Broadway & 44th Street.

Let’s send a strong message: it’s time to bring the hostilities to an end! Replace missiles with missions! Replace destruction with diplomacy!


Participating groups: Grandmothers Against the War; Brooklyn For Peace; Granny Peace Brigade; Veterans for Peace; Raging Grannies, Peace Action NYS; World Can't Wait; Code Pink; Gray Panthers; West Side Peace Action, and others

Questions? Call 718-624-5921 or e-mail

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kevin Smith v. Southwest Airlines

I suppose you've heard about the Southwest Airlines v. film director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, and upcoming Copout) brouhaha by now. It seems to me that it's a perfect example of how capitalist corporations fail to serve their customers but just indulge their greed for profit. After all they have to pay their executives. Clearly greed isn't exclusive to Wall Street. In short, in case you missed it, Smith was thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight (although he paid for two seats) because they couldn't accommodate him on a soldout flight. If you want to check other airlines click here

It seems to me that if airlines were concerned about serving their customers instead of squeezing as much out of them as possible they would have accommodations for heavy-set people. But that would mean they might have to give up a few seats (and a few fares). It's hardly surprising that people are flying less. It's also true that Americans are getting fatter (not a good thing) but the airlines are not the appropriate diet monitors, since all they care about is making as much profit as possible. so the hell with the customers. Also, I believe, if the planes were appropriately designed (for the population) the concerns about safety, voiced by hired experts, could easily be accommodated. The capitalist hunger for profits is not a customer or worker friendly world.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

March 12: Celebrate International Women's Day with the Federation of Cuban Women

In Celebration of International Women’s Day
Welcome the visting delegation of the

Friday, March 12, 2010,
you will have a unique opportunity to share an evening of information and open dialogue with the leadership of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC). Martizel Gonzalez, Foreign Relations Representative, of the Federation of Cuban Women, North America Region, will be joined by others

Friday, March 12th
John Jay College
Reception 6:30pm
Program Begins 7pm

The FMC Delegation will be there to discuss:
* Women in Cuba today
* The world economic crisis and its impact on Cuba
* Prospects for ending the U.S. embargo of Cuba and normalization of relations
* Democracy in Cuba today
* Cuba’s ongoing solidarity with Haiti
* Recent developments on race relations in Cuba and much more

During the Question & Answer part of the program, you will also be able to raise your interests and concerns.
Literature will be available on Cuba, the Cuban 5, current activities and trips to Cuba and Cuba’s initiatives in solidarity with
the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Sponsored By:The July 26th Coalition, an ongoing initiative by the organizations and individuals in solidarity with the People Cuba, in the NYC/Tri-State Area.

For more information about this event and the ongoing work of the July 26th Coaltion contact :

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book signing/discussion: Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire

Saturday, Feb. 20, 12 p.m.

Richard Becker
Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire.

ANSWER Coalition office
2295 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Ground Floor

... Richard Becker, ANSWER's Western Regional Coordinator, will be in New York City to speak about his new book Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire. Becker is a noted writer and commentator on Middle East affairs. He led fact-finding delegations to Palestine in 2000 and 2002, delivering medicine to Palestinian hospitals. Becker helped produce the video Palestine Fights for Freedom (2002) based on his experiences.

Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire provides a sharp analysis of historic and current events in the struggle for Palestine—from the division of the Middle East by Western powers and the Zionist settler movement, to the founding of Israel and its regional role as a watchdog for U.S. interests, to present-day conflicts and the prospects for a just resolution.

The book’s narrative is firmly rooted in the politics of Palestinian liberation, and is a necessary introduction to the heroic efforts of the Palestinian people to achieve justice in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

In addition to the Saturday, Feb. 20 event in the ANSWER office in Harlem, Becker will be speaking at the following New York City locations:

Feb. 22: City College
Monday, Feb. 22, 5pm-6:30pm
Hoffman Student Lounge (Back Theatre)

Feb. 23: Bronx Community College
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 12pm-2pm
South Hall (Conference Area)
Hosted by ANSWER Club at Bronx Community College

Feb. 23: John Jay College
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 6:30pm
Room 1311 in N-Building
Hosted by Justice in Action

Contact the ANSWER Coalition at 212-694-8720 or email for more information about these events.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Oscar firsts:: Kathryn Bigelow & Lee Daniels

OK, the Oscar nominations have been announced. And maybe Hollywood has decided to join the rest of U.S. society. But it's clearly easier to elect a Black President than for a Black or female director to win an Oscar.

The best picture fight is between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. As I said earlier, Kathryn Bigelow is the fourth woman to be nominated for Best Director (Lina Wertmuller, Seven Beauties ; Jane Campion, The Piano,; and Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation). Only The Piano was nominated for Best Picture. Bigelow would be the first woman to ever win for Best director.

But there is another important award to focus on. Lee Daniels (Precious) is the second African American to be nominated for Best Director (John Singleton, Boyz N the Hood, was the first). But Daniels has already made Oscar history, because Precious is the first film by a Black director to be nominated for a Best Picture award.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Oscar nominations tomorrow (Tues)

Tommorow (Tues) morning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will announce its nominations for the Oscars. The winners will be announced March 7th.

Here's a tip for those who plan to wager on the outcome: In 54 out of the last 60 years the winner of the Directors Guild award for best picture went on to win the Oscar. Last Saturday the Directors gave their award to The Hurt Locker.

More importantly, if The Hurt Locker wins it will be the first movie directed by a woman -Kathryn Bigelow - to win the Best Picture Oscar. If she wins the Best Director, that would also be a first for women.

As a Hollywood gossip footnote Bigelow and her main competitor - James Cameron (Avatar) used to be married. Sounds like a Spencer Tracy/Kathryn Hepburn movie to me.