Published by the Thomas Merton Center
PITTSBURGH’S PEACE & JUSTICE NEWSPAPER
VOL. 43 No. 5, May 2013
OCCUPY PITTSBURGH INSERT
Published by Occupy Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania D.E.P. to Activists: “Can I Help You?” Washington’s Landing, “This public Pittsburgh relations person for the DEP certainly exercised One hundred good humor in protesters take on Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson John Poister as he asks, "Can I help you?" on Earth Day, Monday, April 22. “You betcha'!” says Wanda Guthrie, chair of the Thomas Merton Center environmental justice committee (pictured right in hat). Activist and TMC responding to our moard member Carol presence in the crowded Gonzalez says: lobby! The laughter his
comment evoked was a surprise for us all. I spoke with him afterwards as he really
Labor Unions Split on Endorsement for May Mayoral Primary
politeness, seemed genuinely sympathetic to the clear concerns delivered to DEP on
Photo by Tom Jefferson
was open to Earth Day, promising to conversation and take these to Harrisburg beyond just his required on our behalf.”
Supreme Court on May Day and Full Table of Gay Marriage Labor Activism Contents - Page 4 - Pages 8 & 9 -Page 2
VOL. 2 No. 5, May 2013
by Kenneth Miller The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), The United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE HERE, the Stage Hands, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) and the Iron Workers Local 3 have all endorsed Bill Peduto. The Police, the Firefighters, and a big chunk of the Building Trades are backing Jack Wagner. The Central Labor Council is not making any endorsement of a Mayoral Candidate for the May 21 Primary. Not in recent memory has the local labor union movement split so dramatically. Both Peduto and Wagner boast of their labor union endorsements and support for organized labor. Four of the nine school board seats will be filled this year, and the winners will likely be determined by the outcome of the May 21 Democratic Primary. All of the candidates have signed
the A+ Schools “Equity Pledge” and they all seem generally supportive of Linda Lane’s administration. They all promise to work with one another. Silvia Wilson, long time staffer with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and Officer at the Central Labor Council is running against ACORN/Action United’s Lucille Pratt Holiday. The PFT and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) hosted a big community event at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in January. The event was amazingly similar to an A+ Schools community meeting. Evan Moore, who used to work for PIIN, is now on the national staff of the NAACP, focused on education policy. The growing alliance between SEIU, UNITE HERE, and the PFT was evident. Kenneth Miller is a member of the New People Editorial Collective.
Justice for Janitors Revisited by Bette McDevitt
For several weeks, beginning in January 2004, weekly demonstrations Father Jack O’Malley and Joel in front of Centre City Tower at Wood Woller, who teaches history at Carlow and Smithfield Streets called attention University, reminisced, with a few to the fact that the owner of the laughs, about their trip to jail in the building had replaced the janitors Justice for Janitors Campaign in the rather than renew a contract that gave spring of 2004. the janitors benefits and salary The action, part of a national increases. Union members and their campaign to gain benefits for janitors, supporters, many clergy among them, was organized by the Service participated in arrests, rallies, and Employees International Union eventually hunger strikes. (SEIU).. The action was well planned, and
those willing to risk arrest simply sat down and refused to leave the building when asked to. “We were quite relaxed,” said Woller. “The police knew we were making a statement,” said O’Malley, who was no stranger to the police and who knows his way around a paddy wagon and a jail cell. Continued on page 3
Source Creative Commons Father Jack O’Malley (front & center) at United Farmworkers Grape Boycott demonstration in Pittsburgh, 1970.
TMC works to build a consciousness of values and to raise the moral questions involved in the issues of war, poverty, racism, classism, economic justice, oppression and environmental justice. PERMIT NO. 458
TMC engages people of diverse philosophies and faiths who find common ground in the nonviolent struggle to bring about a more peaceful and just world.
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New People Editorial Collective Robin Clarke, Rob Conroy, Ginny Cunningham, Michael Drohan, Jona Dudley, Russ Fedorka, Martha Garvey, Carol Gonzalez, John Haer, Xinpei He, Shahid Khan, Bette McDevitt, Charles McCollester, Diane McMahon, Kenneth Miller, Jonathan Reyes, Joyce Rothermel, Molly Rush, Marcia Snowden, K. Briar Somerville, Jo Tavener
TMC Staff, Volunteers, & Interns Managing Director: Diane McMahon Office Coordinator: Marcia Snowden Office Volunteers: Kathy Cunningham, Monique Dietz, Mary Clare Donnelly, RSM Jasmine Khan, James Lucius, Melissa Morelli Finance Manager: Roslyn Maholland Assistant Bookkeeper: Mig Cole East End Community Thrift Store Managers: Shirley Gleditsch, Shawna Hammond, Dolly Mason Interns from local colleges and universities: Mike Deckenbach, Ying Li, Minghua He, Xinpei He, Shahid Khan, Stephanie Maben, Russell Noble, Michael Rosenberg, K. Briar Somerville
2013 TMC Board of Directors Ed Brett, Rob Conroy, Kitoko Chargois, Kathy Cunningham, Michael Drohan, Patrick Fenton, Carol Gonzalez, Mary Jo Guercio (President), Wanda Guthrie, Shawna Hammond, Ken Joseph, Edward Kinley, Chris Mason, Jonah McAllister-Erickson, Francine Porter, Joyce Rothermel, Molly Rush, Tyrone Scales, & M. Shernell Smith
TMC Standing Committees Board Development Committee Recruits board members, conducts board elections Building Committee Oversees maintenance of 5123-5129 Penn Avenue sites Development Committee Guides the strategic growth and expansion of the Center Membership Committee Coordinates membership goals, activities, appeals, and communications Editorial Collective Plans, produces and distributes The NewPeople newspaper Finance Committee Ensures financial stability and accountability of TMC Personnel Committee Oversees staff needs, evaluation, and policies Project Committee Oversees project applications, guidelines, and policies Special Event Committees Plans and oversees TMC fundraising events with members and friends Youth and Student Outreach Committee Coordinates outreach efforts with younger members of TMC
East End Community Thrift Celebrating 20 Years! This is a big year for Thrifty, twenty years strong and still growing and dedicated to service in the community! Stop by to say happy birthday and shop, volunteer, or donate from Tuesday to Friday 10-4, or Saturday from 12-4. Help us spread the love around at the East End Community Thrift Store! 412-361-6010
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Anti-War Committee email@example.com www.pittsburghendthewar.org
Allegheny Defense Project, Pgh Office 412-559-1364 www.alleghenydefense.org
Book‘Em: Books to Prisoners Project firstname.lastname@example.org www.thomasmertoncenter.org/bookem
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Page 5 Gay Marriage in Court International Women Page 6 Court Victory for SOAW Desmond Tutu on Nuclear Weapon Abolition Page 7 Venezuelan Elections Cuba Friendshipment Page 8 Fannie’s Hat—Poem
Amnesty International email@example.com www.amnestypgh.org
Capital’s End (724) 388-6258, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Big Idea Bookstore 412-OUR-HEAD www.thebigideapgh.org
CodePink: Women for Peace email@example.com, 412-389-3216 www.codepink4peace.org
Black Voices for Peace Gail Austin 412-606-1408
East End Community Thrift Shop 412-361-6010, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Global Solutions Pittsburgh 412-471-7852 firstname.lastname@example.org www.globalsolutionspgh.org
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http://fightforliferswest.mysite.com Formerly Convicted Citiznes Dean Williams (412) 295-8606 Harambee Ujima/Diversity Footprint Twitter @HomewoodNation Human Rights Coalition / Fed Up (prisoner support and advocacy) 412-802-8575, firstname.lastname@example.org www.thomasmertoncenter.org/fedup Marcellus Shale Protest Group email@example.com 412-243-4545
Citizens for Social Responsibility of Greater Johnstown Larry Blalock, firstname.lastname@example.org PA United for a Single-Payer Health Care www.healthcare4allPA.org www.PUSH-HC4allPa.blogspot.com 2102 Murray Avenue Pgh, Pa 15217 412-421-4242 Pittsburgh Area Pax Christi 412-761-4319 Pittsburgh Committee to Free Mumia 412-361-3022 email@example.com
New Economy Working Group MollyRush@verizon.net
Pittsburgh Cuba Coalition 412-563-1519 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Pittsburgh Campaign for Democracy NOW! 412-422-5377, firstname.lastname@example.org www.pcdn.org
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Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org; www.pittsburghdarfur.org
Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee email@example.com www.pittsburgh-psc.org Raging Grannies 412-963-7163 firstname.lastname@example.org
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SW PA Bread for the World Donna Hansen 412-812-1553
Roots of Promise 724-327-2767, 412-596-0066 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org School of the Americas Watch W. PA 267-980-4878 email@example.com Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group/ Roots of Promise 724-327-2767 firstname.lastname@example.org Whose Your Brother? 412-928-3947 www.whoseyourbrother.com Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network 412-621-9230 email@example.com
Table of Contents Page 1 DEP at Earth Day Justice for Janitors Labor Unions Split Page 3 Why Civil Disobedience Continued Merry Month of May Public Transit Moving Page 4 Triple Divide Review Leftover Women
Association of Pittsburgh Priests Sr. Barbara Finch 412-716-9750 B.firstname.lastname@example.org
UPMC Unionizing Casino Workers Union Page 9 Food Workers on Strike Mondragon Adjuncts Uniting Page 10 Poem for May Day 2013 Capitals End—May 5 ad Fedorka Cartoon Page 11 Interview with Marcus
Religion and Labor Coalition 412-361-4793 email@example.com
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TMC is a Member of: Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Martha Connelly 412-361-7872 email@example.com
Rediker “The Slave Ship” Youth for Race Rights Page 12 Protest in Charleston, WV Move to Amend Update Page 13 The Environmental Cliff Earth Justice Page 14 Bread for the World Single-Payer Healthcare Legislation
Private Insurance Co. Almost Killed Me Page 15 Mike Rosenberg Award New Board Member Ken Joseph Martin Sheen Award Page 16 Calendar of Events TMC Membership Form
Community Organizing Justice For Janitors, continued from page 1 Being a Source Creative Commons historian, Woller spoke of the long tradition of civil disobedience, from the Boston Tea Party onward. “Civil disobedience entails a risk and a consequence. Not all of us are ready for pepper spray, June 15, 2011— Justice for Janitors Rally in Pittsburgh and not all of Source: http://tinyurl.com/ahxzwjf us have the flexibility in our lives to do dramatic downtown buildings are organized as far things like civil disobedience, but can as janitors.” There was a strong effort to contribute in other ways. We knew, in embarrass the owners, who were known this case, there would not be a riot- this to be “progressive Democrats” and campaign did not rouse the angry friends of Bill Clinton. opposition that anti-war demonstrations “Since the 60s,” said Woller, “pain did—but that we would have to pay a compliance has been upped. Since the penalty. We were required to do Miami demos ten years ago, police have community service, and I could do that perfected their ways of crowd control. with the flexibility of my job.” Police don’t let us fill the jails; they use With the arrest came some humor. terrorist methods, noise machines to “Since I was cuffed to Father Jack,” said disperse crowds. It’s hard to do Woller, “they barely searched me, and I something that attracts attention.” had my cell phone. We called our lawyer, O’Malley is encouraged by the and other people in the jail, facing other Occupy Movement and by the actions of charges, recognized Father Jack and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network asked us to make calls for them. To pass (PIIN), which has partnered with the the time in the crowded cell, we tore up Gamaliel Foundation to build a coalition paper and made a checker board.” dedicated to community organizing to “It was an example, though, where address the root causes of systemic the action didn’t bring the desired result,” problems. “They are based on the said Woller. Some of the tenants were Alinsky model of confronting injustice in sympathetic to the call to rehire the fired nonviolent way.” We can watch for janitors and honor the contract giving future actions in which we can continue benefits, but the owners held their the time honored tradition of active ground. participation in our democracy, including “But,” said O’Malley, “people all civil disobedience. over town may have been at the point of firing their janitors and they got a clear Bette McDevitt is a member of the message: you do not want this crowd in editorial collective. front of your building. Now, most of the
Help Keep Public Transit Rolling An Invitation from Pittsburghers for Public Transit Governor Corbett’s transportation budget falls far short of what is needed to keep our public transit healthy. Unless our state legislature acts to develop and pass funding plans to make up that shortfall, we will face more damaging bus route cuts in upcoming years. Stand with us as we call for a transportation bill which dedicates adequate, long-term funding to sustain and restore public mass transit in our region. What can you do to help stop the countdown to more cuts and make sure our growing metropolitan area has a growing, modern transit system to match? Visit www.pittsburghforpublictransit.org to get to know our organization and get the scoop on transit-related news, events, and volunteer opportunities. Call on elected officials to support sufficient funding for public transit. You can find the contact information for your elected official on the “Take Action” tab of our website. Come to a PPT General Membership Meeting to learn about our projects and campaigns and how you can contribute your talents and expertise based on your own interests and concerns. We will be planning our next rally to Harrisburg as well as many other local actions and events. We meet the third Saturday of every month in the Liberty Conference Room of the Human Services Building, One Smithfield St, downtown Pittsburgh. Free parking! - or take the bus! For more information, call PPT Community Organizer Helen Gerhardt at 412-518-7387 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Merry Month of May by Anne E. Lynch
a store that carries ONLY fairtrade items! The month of May contains On May 17th, we have the a number of awareness events International Day Against to promote social justice. First Homophobia and Transphobia and foremost, May 1st is May (IDAHO), which aims to Day, or International Labor coordinate international events Day. Observed in more than to demand respect for lesbians, 140 countries, this day is the gays, and transgendered people celebration of the central worldwide. While the highest contributions of workers to the court in our land is currently economic life of their nations, deliberating on marriage and of worker solidarity. Have equality and partner rights, let you hugged your union worker us not forget that in some today? Today would be a good countries in the world simply opportunity to do so! being out as LGBTQ can be a May itself is both Asian/ death sentence. And let’s not Pacific Islander American think that we in the United Heritage Month and Jewish States are immune – remember American Heritage Month. Matthew Shepard was These two often-overlooked murdered for being gay in groups of people have Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998, contributed in many wonderful and others have followed. Our ways to the American society transgender brothers and sisters we are part of today. Take some are particularly at risk, so make time to read up on them this sure you reach out and let them month. know you care. May 3rd is World Press May 22nd is Harvey Milk Freedom Day. We, as social Day, set aside to honor the justice advocates, utilize our birthday of the fierce LGBTQFirst Amendment rights to rights activist who was freedom of speech all the time. assassinated in 1978 along with We take for San granted that Francisco’s we mayor, supposedly George have a free Moscone. press in this He was the country, as first openly also gay person guaranteed to be elected in the Bill of to public Rights. We office in can argue California, about mass when he Source Creative Commons media, and joined the who owns San what, but keep in mind that Francisco Board of Supervisors media are not restricted any in 1977. In addition to his work more to just official journalists in the gay community, Milk and stations. With the advent of was a strong supporter of social media, citizen journalists unions. abound; so thank your local There are also lots of social activist bloggers, social media change-related events mavens, and independent happening in Southwestern newspapers! Pennsylvania in May. National Teacher Day comes Bookmark TRCF’s community on May 8th. We’ve all had calendar <http://trcfwpa.org/ teachers who have inspired us; news-events/special-eventsgive them a nod today! Now, meetings/> and visit it would also be a great time to frequently – new events are get involved in working for added every day! If you have an public education. I’d event to add to the calendar, recommend checking out please email all the details to Yinzercation <http:// email@example.com. And, if yinzercation.wordpress.com> you’re a history buff like me, be to help dedicated educators, sure to check out TRCF’s parents, and students advocate newest Facebook page, for their rights. Progressive History of May 12th brings us World Pittsburgh! We’ve taken our Fair Trade Day. Fair trade, original Progressive Pittsburgh infinitely better than “free” 250 document, prepared for the trade, ensures that workers and 250th birthday of Pittsburgh, artisans get paid adequately for and are charting out events that their efforts, including equal happened in our region on a pay among genders, and have day-by-day basis. fair working conditions. If you need a gift for someone, check Anne E. Lynch is the Manager out Ten Thousand Villages on of Operations at Three Rivers Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill, Community Foundation. May 2013
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Reclaiming Our Rights Film Screening in Indiana, PA Illuminates Fracking Issue
The Negative Effect of the Term “Leftover Women”
by Colleen Donovan
by Jianyu Hou
In Pennsylvania, the topic of the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale deposit by means of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has become highly contested. For some, this process represents energy independence and the means to improve a depressed local economy. For others, fracking means ruined water, homes, livelihoods, health, and more. In addition, the longterm effects of this controversial method of fossil-fuel extraction remain unknown. However, evidence is starting to emerge that the disposal of wastewater represents a mounting problem that threatens key watersheds, streams and rivers. Therefore, any opportunities to discuss the effects of fracking seem warranted—if not urgent. On March 29 at the Indiana Theater, The Center for Community Growth was pleased to present its second film in the 2013 film series -- Triple Divide by filmmakers Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic. The film is of “exceptional value,” like the headwaters of the Eastern continental triple divide located in Potter County, Pennsylvania, because of its sensitive, yet evidence-based examination of the reoccurring effects of natural gas extraction, especially on the watersheds fed by the Triple Divide to three major waterways in the Eastern United States. As viewers of the film had the opportunity to rediscover, these include water and soil contamination, as well as fragmentation of forests and farms. The power of people to exercise their democratic rights against large economic forces is also a major concern. In this respect, the film promises to be especially effective in raising people’s consciousness about the long -term and potentially devastating effects of fracking. This awareness may be especially important in Pennsylvania where government has enacted vast array of legislation that favors the drilling industry over the health and well being of its citizens as well as the environmental integrity of the land. As a result of legislative moves in Harrisburg, such as Act 13, those activists wary of the process of fracking have denounced Governor Corbett’s measures to strengthen government and industrial ties. But in order to navigate the process of resistance to this onslaught of governmental-industrial power, the people must first be informed. Herein lies the strength of the film Triple Divide. While a number of documentaries about fracking have undergone rigorous scrutiny, Triple Divide can withstand this sort of inspection because it represents extensive fact-based investigative reporting. In addition, the film is
The word “leftover” can only be used for nonliving things, such as “leftover food” or “leftover goods”. But in recent years, this word has frequently been used for humans - “leftover women”- in China's public discussion. A Ph.D. student from America at Tsinghua University published an article in The New York Times Chinese version and claimed that this phrase was created by China Women's Federation (CWF), to urge those women with a high educational level to marry sooner. The author argued that the CWF's intention was to advise the welleducated women to return home and shoulder the responsibility of improving the population quality of China's next generation, but the negative effect of “leftover women” is obvious. I can't agree more with the author. In recent years, many good quality Chinese girls have suffered from depression and anxiety, just because they approach thirty but haven't meet their Mr. Right. Many friends of mine feel anxious about marriage, which is intensified by their parents and society. Last year, one of my friends, who was 26, told me that she was confused about why she hadn't found her Mr. Right. She counted her advantages, but the more she counted, the more depressed her Jianyu Hou is a former tone sounded, as if these intern at the Thomas Merton advantages became obstacles on Center, and is currently a her way to the true love. She's researcher on religious affairs. pretty, polite, nice and had a
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hauntingly beautiful with its superb cinematography and creative use of music to enhance its message. Because of it skillful expression, Triple Divide will emerge as one of the most effective documentary films pertaining to gas extraction. After the film, the audience participated in a discussion led by Indiana County Coalition for a Healthy County steering-committee member Brian Cope including the filmmakers, Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic. President of the Indiana County League of Women Voters, Sherene Hess, presented her organization’s project regarding the compilation of voters’ information guides about fracking. Evergreen Conservancy Board President Cindy Rogers described this organization’s efforts to document water quality in Indiana County. Anthropology student, Gabrielle Renee Lehigh described her ethnographic research that pertains to the effects of naturalgas drilling on the residents of Diamondville. Pennsylvania. Attendees had plenty of opportunities to speak about their impressions of the film as well as their knowledge of fracking. Some expressed their shock about fracking’s potential destruction. A few expressed their skepticism for some of the effects of natural gas drilling. Others called for a balance between measures to protect the environment and ways to reduce the nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. Still, most attendees agreed that we would all benefit from a program that advanced the use of clean energy. As a newly-formed organization, members of The Center for Community Growth, the audience in attendance on March 29, and the panel members left knowing more about the various aspects of fracking. These include human, environmental, and economic issues with emotional costs as well as rational solutions. In sum, all participants emerged from the evening knowing more. Some may have decided to take a greater role in the sort of action that results in change among an ever-increasing audience of people in the state of Pennsylvania and other states, like West Virginia and Ohio, within the Marcellus Shale region.
masters degree in accounting. “I'm a leftover woman!” She said. I encouraged her, “You are good enough, and you don't have to blame yourself. If a man marries you when you are young but leaves you when you grow older, his love is not true. Your Mr. Right won't only consider your age and envy your good educational background. See what kind of wives of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Clinton have.” The phrase “leftover women” has created a language environment to discriminate against women. The philosopher Erich Fromm in his work in Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis wrote that, “Different languages differ not only by the fact that they vary in the diversity of words they use to denote certain affective experience, but by their syntax, their grammar, and the root meaning of their words.” The passive voice of “leftover” emphasizes women's passiveness, which commodifies women as goods for reproduction and creates the atmosphere of a big sale at the end of the season. Similar offensive words definitely exist in other cultures and languages. Women should keep confident at any age. Our existing values don't only build on our reproductive ability!
Gender and Sexuality Activism Gay Marriage and the Supreme Court Understanding Windsor and Hollingsworth by Russell Noble As the biggest social movement in over a decade, the public push for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens has garnered national attention. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the constitutionality of two laws against same-sex marriage in United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. The opinions that the Court is expected to issue this June may fundamentally change the landscape of marriage in the U.S., and it is crucial that activists understand the legal issues at the heart of the debate if they are to properly respond to these changes. In United States v. Windsor, the Court is debating the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. DOMA, as it is often called, defines the term “marriage” as “a legal union between one man and one woman” for the purposes of federal law. The case came to the Supreme Court when Edie Windsor, whose marriage to her late wife Thea Spyer was recognized as valid by the state of New York, was
taxed $363,000 by the federal government on the estate she inherited from Spyer. If the federal government had recognized Windsor as Spyer’s legal spouse, she wouldn’t have been taxed a dime. Windsor sued the government, claiming that DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates against homosexual couples. The case against DOMA is fairly strong. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits any state, and by interpretation the federal government, from “deny [ing] to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Federal marriage laws are comprehensive and sweeping; they cover hospital visiting rights, adoption laws, social security, taxes, and employee benefits. The gap between benefits accorded a heterosexual marriage recognized by both state and federal government and a same-sex marriage recognized by state, but not federal, government is large. During oral arguments for Windsor on March 27, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg characterized the difference as a difference between “the full marriage, and then this sort of skim milk marriage.” This kind of disparity clearly offends the
Fourteenth Amendment. DOMA also allows states that prohibit samesex marriages to ignore marriages consecrated in states that allow them. There are currently 32 states with amendments to their constitutions banning same-sex marriage and nine states (plus the District of Columbia) that recognize samesex marriages. Under DOMA, a same-sex couple married in New York loses their marriage rights and benefits when they go on vacation to Ohio. This contradicts the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, which establishes that each state must respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” By changing what marriage means from one state to the next, DOMA promotes disunity and legal confusion between the states, the very dangers that the Full Faith and Credit Clause was written into the Constitution to guard against. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Court is considering the
Women and Girls Foundation Honors Women Doing International Work Celebrating Women! began eight years ago as an annual event to recognize and honor amazing women from myriad disciplines and industries who are serving as role models and breaking barriers in our region. This year, the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) is hosting Celebrating Women! Having a Global Impact. This event will honor women who are helping the Pittsburgh region have a global impact or those individuals who are introducing this region to worldwide influences. To kick off this global theme, WGF has partnered with ELAS, The Women’s Social Investment Fund in Brazil, to produce a documentary titled “Madame Presidente: Why Not U.S.?” exploring the changing roles of women in politics and economic development. The documentary asks a key question: Why is it that so many other countries have elected female presidents, while the United States still lags behind? The film will tell the story of how Brazil came to elect its first female president, what impact her presidency is having on women’s rights and opportunities, and what Americans can learn from our international sisters and their surge towards political leadership. For more information about the documentary, visit www.wgfpa.org/vamos-meninas/kickstart. Many local women and girls, from corporate leaders, educators, writers, artists, students, and so many others, are doing important work abroad, as well as opening this region to global influences. They are challenging the political, economic and cultural roles women play in leadership around the world. We want to honor their stories, learn from their passion, and provide opportunities for vibrant discussions about the impact that they have on the communities they serve. Please join us by nominating someone you admire from your neighborhood, company or organization for this award. Visit www.wgfpa.org/celebrating-women-having-a-global-impact for more information and to make your nomination. Nominations are due by Wednesday, May 1st. The awards will be presented at the organization’s annual gala, which will take place on Saturday, November 16th, at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Through the documentary and the event, WGF will be able to share global lessons each of us can use to enhance female leadership within our companies and communities, regionally and throughout the United States. Women and Girls Foundation The Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania (WGF) is an independent, communitybased foundation serving Southwest Pennsylvania. Our vision is to create a region where women and girls have equal access, opportunity, and influence in all aspects of their public and private lives. To realize this vision, the organization’s active mission is to achieve gender equity by investing in public policy initiatives that will result in long-term systemic change impacting women’s and girls’ lives for generations to come.
Source: Creative Commons
constitutional merits of Proposition 8, a referendum passed by California voters that amended California’s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Kristin Perry, a Californian lesbian, sued the state officials responsible for the enforcement of Proposition 8, denouncing it as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. When those officials would not defend Prop 8, Dennis Hollingsworth, former California senator and member of the conservative group Protect Marriage, stepped in to take their place. Now the Court has the opportunity to decide whether the equal protection clause forbids a state ban on same-sex marriage. The Court, however, may simply dismiss the case. During oral arguments on March 26, many Justices expressed skepticism that Hollingsworth even had the standing to bring the case to the Supreme Court. To have proper legal standing, a party must have been injured in some way or be challenged by an injured party. Because Perry was suing state officials, not Hollingsworth, the Court may simply declare that the state has no authority to assign this defense to a citizen and dismiss the case. Another reason for dismissing the case is that the Court is reluctant to assert its authority over the states on such a fresh issue. Marriage is traditionally the purview of the states, and the Court has only stepped into the fray in extreme circumstances, such as the question of interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia (1967). The Justices expressed doubt that now is the time to rule same-sex marriage bans either constitutional or unconstitutional, showing a desire to let voters decide by state. Whether the Court cripples or buoys the same-sex rights movements with its opinions this July, they are bound to have a profound impact on the concepts of marriage and equality in the years to come. Russell Noble is an intern at the Thomas Merton Center, and a politics and philosophy student planning to attend law school. May 2013
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Community Anti-WarNews Victory in Court for SOA Watch by Russell Noble
McGovern its findings that five students were admitted In the modern era, to WHINSEC despite information is the existing records of human nonprofit’s most powerful rights violations, the tool. School of the Americas Institute reversed that Watch, a watchdog practice. For the past nine organization dedicated to years, WHINSEC has shutting down the Western refused to release records of Hemisphere Institute for its students and instructors, Security Cooperation making it extremely difficult (WHINSEC), uses the for SOA Watch to implicate Institute’s records to link its its graduates in Latin graduates to human rights American abuses. abuses. Such linkages are On February 6, vital in persuading members 2012, SOA Watch members of Congress that WHINSEC Theresa Cameranesi and poses a danger to Latin Judith Liteky filed an action American human rights. in federal court against the WHINSEC, once Department of Defense, known as the School of the demanding the release of Americas, had been WHINSEC’s records. Under releasing its records to SOA the 1996 Freedom of Watch and the public for Information Act, the public nearly sixty years, since its is entitled to information inception in 1946. But in about the operations of most 2004, after SOA Watch government facilities, with a presented to the office of few exemptions. On April U.S. Representative Jim 22, 2013, U.S. District Judge
Source Creative Commons
Phyllis Hamilton ruled that WHINSEC did not meet any of the criteria for exemption and ordered the Institute to continue releasing the names of its instructors and students. This was a major victory not only for SOA Watch, but for all who value transparency in the military. With these records, SOA Watch will once again be able to find connections between WHINSEC students and human rights abuses in Latin America. This will be instrumental in shutting WHINSEC down and crippling United States militarism in the Western Hemisphere. Russell Noble is the President of SOA Watch Pittsburgh.
Extend Nuclear Weapon Abolition to All Nations NOW No nation should own nuclear arms – not Iran, not North Korea, and not their critics who take the moral high ground - Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu Speech at Oslo Conference on Nuclear Weapons - Monday, March 4, 2013 As an Oslo conference on nuclear weapons starts, we should not accept that a 'select few nations can ensure the security of all by having the capacity to destroy all.' We cannot intimidate others into behaving well when we ourselves are misbehaving. Yet that is precisely what nations armed with nuclear weapons hope to do by censuring North Korea for its nuclear tests and sounding alarm bells over Iran's pursuit of enriched uranium. According to their logic, a select few nations can ensure the security of all by having the capacity to destroy all. Until we overcome this double standard – until we accept that nuclear weapons are abhorrent and a grave danger no matter who possesses them, that threatening a city with radioactive incineration is intolerable no matter the nationality or religion of its inhabitants – we are unlikely to make meaningful progress in halting the spread of these monstrous devices, let alone banishing them from national arsenals. Why, for instance, would an aspiring nuclear state pay heed to the exhortations of the US and Russia, which retain thousands of their nuclear warheads on high alert? How can Britain, France and China expect a hearing on non-proliferation while they squander billions modernising their nuclear forces? What standing has Israel to urge Iran not to acquire the bomb when it harbours its own 6 - NEWPEOPLE
atomic arsenal? Nuclear weapons do not discriminate; nor should our leaders. The nuclear powers must apply the same standard to themselves as to others: zero nuclear weapons. Whereas the international community has imposed blanket bans on other weapons with horrendous effects – from biological and chemical agents to landmines and cluster munitions – it has not yet done so for the very worst
agencies to provide an effective response in the event of a nuclear attack. For too long, debates about nuclear arms have been divorced from such realities, focusing instead on geopolitics and narrow concepts of national security. With enough public pressure, I believe that governments can move beyond the hypocrisy that has stymied multilateral disarmament discussions for decades, and be inspired and
Read The Nuclear Resister The Nuclear Resister newsletter is the only comprehensive chronicle of information about anti-nuclear and anti-war related arrests and peace prisoner support in the U.S. and globally. You can subscribe to the print edition of The Nuclear Resister online at: www.nukeresister.org. Find updates about Korean activist Yang Yoon-Mo, a movie critic and a prominent opponent of the Jeju naval base project, which will be open to US warships and risks creating tensions with China and causing environmental damage. He was arrested and directly jailed from the court on Feb. 1, 2013. It is his 4th imprisonment. He has been jailed the most times during the struggle against the base project. Also follow The Nuclear Resister on Facebook! At tinyurl.com/amkyqfh.
Editors Jack & Felice Cohen-Joppa have published The Nuclear Resister since 1981. weapons of all. Nuclear weapons are still seen as legitimate in the hands of some. This must change. Around 130 governments, various UN agencies, the Red Cross and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons are gathering in Oslo this week to examine the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons and the inability of relief
persuaded to embark on negotiations for a treaty to outlaw and eradicate these ultimate weapons of terror. Achieving such a ban would require somewhat of a revolution in our thinking, but it is not out of the question. Entrenched systems can be turned on their head almost overnight if there's the will. Let us not forget that it was only a
few years ago when those who spoke about green energy and climate change were considered peculiar. Now it is widely accepted that an environmental disaster is upon us. There was once a time when people bought and sold other human beings as if they were mere chattels, things. But people eventually came to their senses. So it will be the case for nuclear arms, sooner or later. Indeed, 184 nations have already made a legal undertaking never to obtain nuclear weapons, and three in four support a universal ban. In the early 1990s, with the collapse of apartheid nigh, South Africa voluntarily dismantled its nuclear stockpile, becoming the first nation to do so. This was an essential part of its transition from a pariah state to an accepted member of the family of nations. Around the same time, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine also relinquished their Soviet-era atomic arsenals. But today nine nations still consider it their prerogative to possess these ghastly bombs, each capable of obliterating many thousands of innocent civilians, including children, in a flash. They appear to think that nuclear weapons afford them prestige in the international arena. But nothing could be further from the truth. Any nuclear-armed state, big or small, whatever its stripes, ought to be condemned in the strongest terms for possessing these indiscriminate, immoral weapons. Source: The Guardian (UK) Desmond Tutu is a South African social rights activist and Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.
Activism for South America U.S. Should Honor Results of Venezuelan Elections by Daniel Kovalik The United States has refused to recognize the results of the Venezuelan elections, instead insisting that Venezuela conduct a re-count of 100% of the votes in light of the narrow margin of victory for Nicolas Maduro. I just returned from Venezuela where I was one of 170 international election observers from around the world, including India, Guyana, Surinam, Colombia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Scotland, England, the United States, Guatemala, Argentina, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Greece, France, Panama and Mexico. These observers included two former Presidents (of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic), judges, lawyers and numerous high ranking officials of national electoral councils. What we found was an election system which was transparent, inherently reliable, well-run and thoroughly audited. As to the auditing, what has been barely mentioned by the mainstream press is the fact that over 54% of all votes are, and indeed have already been, audited to ensure that the electronic votes match up with the paper receipts which serve as back-up for the electronic votes. And, the Venezuelan government has agreed to audit the remaining 46% of the ballots. The initial
auditing performed on election day is done in the presence of witnesses from both the governing and opposition parties right in the local polling place itself. I witnessed just such an audit at the end of election day on Sunday. And, as is the usual case, the paper results matched up perfectly with the electronic ones. As the former Guatemalan President, Alvaro Colom, who served as an observer, opined, the vote in Venezuela is “secure” and easily verifiable. In short, the observers’ experience this past week aligns with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s observation last year that Venezuela’s electoral system is indeed “the best in the world.” What were the results of the election? With an impressive 79% of registered voters going to the polls, Nicolas Maduro won by over 260,000 votes, with a 1.6% margin over Henrique Capriles (50.7 to 49.1%). While this was certainly a close race, 260,000 votes is a comfortable victory, certainly by U.S. election standards. Recall that John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960 with 49.7% of the vote to Nixon’s 49.6%. In addition, George W. Bush became President in 2000, though losing the popular vote to Al Gore, with 47.87% of the vote to Gore’s 48.38%, and with the entire race coming down to several hundred votes in Florida. And, while the
State of Florida itself decided that it was necessary to have a hand re -count of the ballots there, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this decision and blocked the recount. The U.S.’s position is all the more ridiculous given its quick recognition of the coup government in Paraguay after the former Bishop turned President, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in 2012, and its recognition of the 2009 elections in Honduras despite the fact that the U.S.’s previously-stated precondition for recognizing this election (the return of President Manual Zelaya to power after his forcible ouster by the military) never occurred. Of course, this even pales in comparison to the U.S.’s active involvement in violent coups against democraticallyelected leaders in Latin America (e.g., against President Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, against President Allende in Chile in 1973, and against President Aristide in Haiti in 2004). The U.S.’s failure to recognize the Venezuelan elections is having devastating consequences in Venezuela, for it is emboldening the Venezuelan opposition to carry out violence in Venezuela in order to destabilize that country. Unlike Al Gore in 2000 who stepped aside for George W. Bush in the interest of his country and the U.S. Constitution, the Venezuelan opposition, being led by Henrique
Capriles, clearly wants to foster chaos and crisis in Venezuela in order to topple the Maduro government by force (just as the same forces represented by Capriles forcibly kidnapped and briefly overthrew President Chavez, with U.S. support, in 2002). Thus, reasonably believing itself to have the backing of the U.S. and its military, the opposition is causing mayhem in Venezuela, including burning down clinics, destroying property, attacking Cuban doctors and destroying ruling party buildings. In all, 7 Venezuelans are dead and dozens injured in this opposition-led violence. There is no doubt that
the U.S. could halt this violence right now by recognizing the results of the Venezuelan elections. The reason the U.S. is not doing so is obvious. It does not like the Venezuelan’s chosen form of government, and welcomes that government’s demise. The U.S., therefore, is not supporting democracy and stability in Venezuela; it is intentionally undermining it. Daniel Kovalik is a labor and human rights lawyer living in Pittsburgh, and teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law .
Join the 24th U.S.—Cuba Friendshipment Caravan by Lisa Valenti The U.S. blockade of Cuba harms the Cuban people and prohibits Americans from the freedom to travel where they choose. It is not illegal for Americans to travel to Iran or North Korea; why is it still illegal to travel to Cuba? The issue became news recently because of the publicity generated by Beyonce and JayZ’s trip to Havana for their anniversary. But Pastors for Peace/IFCO has been successfully challenging this internationally condemned U.S. policy every year for almost a quarter century. You are invited to join the 24th U.S.CUBA Friendshipment Caravan and see Cuba for yourself. For the first time, the caravan will be going to Santiago, a city of rich history, beauty, and natural environmental wonders. We will meet Cuban people, learn about their culture, and participate in a cooperative construction project. At the same time we will challenge the travel ban and demand that Americans be free to choose their own destinations. From July 8th through 15th, look for national activities drawing attention to the Caravan’s launch. Support events are being planned in Pittsburgh as well. Please plan to participate!
Mission: Challenge the U.S. blockade of Cuba! Show solidarity with the selfdetermination of the Cuban people! On July 16th Caravanistas will fly from several nations to converge in Mexico City and spend two days, July 17th &18th, for group orientation and solidarity events, and then on July 19th fly to Santiago de Cuba. For the next ten days, July 19th – 29th we will get to know the Santiago region, survey the damage the Cubans suffered from Hurricane Sandy, and volunteer at a reconstruction site (optional). We will visit Cuba’s museums, view stunning historical architecture, sample the cuisine, experience the Afro-Cuban culture, and talk to ‘real’ Cuban people – get their views of the blockade, and of their revolution. On July 26, we join celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Moncada Barracks; the ‘flashpoint’ that touched off the Cuban Revolution! July 29, we return to Mexico City, and on July 30, fly home. Every July for more than 20 years the U.S.-CUBA Friendshipment has been an actual caravan of vehicles from all over North America, carrying humanitarian aid that converges in Texas defiantly bound for Cuba, to deliver humanitarian aid to Cuba and demanding the right to
travel to Cuba free from U.S government control. The first caravan in 1992 simply fought to bring powdered milk to children and every year since pushed open new frontiers: computers, critical medical aid, construction goods, communications equipment, school buses, trucks, ambulances and tractors, strengthening solidarity with the Cuban people. In 1996, Congress ratcheted-up restrictions with the Helms-Burton Act that forced other countries to choose to obey the U.S. blockade or lose U.S. trade. The caravans consistently defied these cruel and immoral prohibitions with direct action; most famously a 23- day hunger strike to allow a Little Yellow School Bus to be delivered to a Cuban church, and a 94-day “Fast for Life” that garnered international attention, forcing the U.S. to allow a U.N.-requested medical shipment safe passage to Cuba. But the struggle to end the 53-year-old blockade and to restore Americans’ fundamental human right of personal freedom to travel continues. This year’s caravan acknowledges changing times and the need to explore new tactics, but our determination to hold the U.S. accountable for this destructive policy remains. This Caravan will be a unique
opportunity for people to help us evaluate new ways to strengthen this historic movement. Why should you go to Cuba with us this year? Because this year people-topeople solidarity is more critical than ever to our world’s well being and to world peace. Until citizens of the world stand together to demand peace, tolerance, and self-determination, the spiraling of world violence will continue. For more information, or to register for this exciting trip, contact Lisa Valenti at 412-303-1247 or email LisaCubaSi@aol.com. The cost of the trip is $2,000, which covers all expenses* except airfare to and from your city to Mexico City (*Costs may increase if you choose to engage in extra-curricular activities.) Pittsburgh events are planned to raise funds to help defray local participants’ costs. You are invited to participate in these activities; ideas welcome. If you cannot join us this year, please contact Lisa to see how you can still support our efforts to end the blockade and let Cuba live. Venceremos! Lisa Valenti is the director of Cuba’s Caravan for Peace.
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! e t i n U s r e Work Pittsburgh Casino Workers Beginning to Organize
by Kenneth Miller
1. everything's coming up hats mined from the underbelly underfoot undertoe underskin underlungs heaps of hats in box cars rolling on the track shoveled into furnaces hats blasting fire hats out of the smokestack puffs of them white then gray then black looping the sky dusting the factory gate and company houses women scrubbing hats off windows and walls 2. three hats fired on Overlook Street through head and neck a woman herding children to the gate falls they give her another a silent body, another hat through her skull a boy looks in her face lifts her straw hat and sees false teeth lying in blood a deputy places it on his head dances a step, says he's Fannie Sellins now
dividing up these bargaining units? The Pittsburgh entertainment A group of four labor unions, complex, almost entirely created and UNITE HERE, the Operating supported by tax dollars should be a Engineers, Teamsters 211, and the bastion of worker organization and United Steelworkers have announced community/union planning. Instead it the Three Rivers Casino Workers is divided into little chunks with large Council, with a letter pledging support groups of workers completely for workers from nearly 50 union excluded. leaders and politicians. How many bargaining units do Kenneth Miller is a member of the these union officials envision at Three Industrial Workers of the Rivers Casino? Do they intend to have World, and a member the same expiration dates on their of the Editorial union contracts? PNC Park, Heinz Collective. Field, the Consol Energy Center and the David L Lawrence Convention Center all have multiple unions representing workers at each facility by Jo Tavener and no apparent coordination of May Day has been a traditional day of fe bargaining. With what rhyme or times. It was mostly associated with towns and v reason or objectives are the unions -- of the soil, livestock, and people -- and revelry gatherings. Since the reform of the Catholic Cale St Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of worker were given the day off in celebration of the end o May 1st, 1886 became internationally in a public assembly of workers demonstrating for a demonstrators were killed. In 1889, the first cong meeting in Paris called for international demonst Chicago protests. May Day was formally recogn and an annual event at the International's second In 1904, the International Socialist Conf on all trades unions and the Socialist Democratic on May 1st for the eight-hour day among other d stoppage mandatory. In the United States, President Cleveland holiday would continue to commemorate the Hay September 1st. as Labor Day. as promoted by the socialist Knights of Labor. Today of course, in our all-consuming co beginning of Summer with huge sales throughou the end of summer with another buying spree.
The History of M
Jo Tavener taught film production at N retiring as Assistant Professor of Cri Studies. She has taught at the Un Chatham University and Poin
3. hats and more hats in the courtroom hushing up witnesses hats in the verdict but only hers is worn by every Hunkie at her gravesite by every miner on strike by every woman in a sweatshop the wide-rimmed hat she wore when she bought shoes for the children when she closed the eyes of the dying *A PA state historic marker in Union Cemetery reads: "An organizer for the United Mine Workers, Fannie Sellins, was brutally gunned down in Brackenridge on the eve of a nationwide steel strike on August 26, 1919." Paola (P.J.) Corso is an award-winning author of seven books of fiction and poetry set in her native Pittsburgh where her Italian immigrant grandfather and father found work in the steel mill. She is a recent addition to the editorial collective. 8 - NEWPEOPLE
UPMC Workers Unionizing by Kenneth Miller At a time when UPMC is under the gun, from its fracas with Highmark, its contentious tax exempt status and its sagging popularity in Western Pennsylvania, service and maintenance workers are attempting to organize at the four biggest hospitals in Oakland and Shadyside -- UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Montefiore, UPMC Shadyside and MageeWomen's Hospital-- with the help of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. About 20,000 UPMC employees would be eligible for the bargaining unit. The workers' grievances
include salaries that top out at $12 an hour and yearly raises of less than 25 cents. There is also concern about understaffing and its effect on patient care. UPMC has responded to these organizing efforts with standard union busting tactics -intimidation, firings, threats of loss of benefits among others. A recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board found in favor of the workers and ordered UPMC to reinstate fired workers with back pay and post notices that it would abide by the law in future dealings with organizing workers. Kenneth Miller is a member of the Editorial Collective.
Labor Justice Fast Food Workers Go on Strike by Jo Tavener
to earn a living wage, pay one’s bills, feed one’s family and enjoy the fruits Source: Creative Commons In a strikingly courageous move, New of one’s labor should be a human York City fast food workers went on strike April right. As of today, it is not! 4th for higher wages and, in some instances, the Workers for 60 fast food right to unionize. Without legal recourse or restaurants participated, including protection and fearful of intimidation and job Burger King, KFC, McDonalds, loss, 400 workers took to the streets on the very Taco Bell, Wendy’s. While more day 45 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King was than a quarter of private sector assassinated after arriving in Memphis to support workers in the United States of 2013 the sanitation workers in their struggle for higher work in low wage jobs of under $10 wages and human dignity. In 1968 sanitation an hour, the companies that hire them workers made $1.60 an hour, that in today’s are making record profits. Yum! dollars would come to $11 an hour. Brands -- Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Today’s fast food workers make only Hut -- made a net profit of $1.3 $7.25 an hour. Though New York State has just billion in 2011. McDonalds made past a new minimum wage of $8.75 an hour, it $1.38 billion, up 11% and Burger still falls short of the buying power of the 1968 King nearly doubled its quarterly profits at $48.6 concerns for middle class identity politics. WE wage -- even more reason for today’s workers to million. In what moral universe is it acceptable to ARE THE 99% was just an opening shot across carry the same 1968 signs demanding that accumulate such wealth as one’s employees face the proverbial bow of the American ship of state. one’s humanity be acknowledged by the food insecurity, grinding poverty and debt? way one is treated and recompensed. What is the price of such income Jo Tavener taught film production at New York Sign after sign in 2013 as in inequality? Hopefully it will be the growth of a University before retiring as Assistant Professor 1968 proclaimed that I AM social movement that links workers’ rights and of Critical Media and Cultural Studies. She has A MAN or I AM A their economic welfare to a new economy of taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham WOMAN. The ability worker cooperatives, pulling in its wake liberal University and Point Park University. estivities dating back to pre-Christian villages celebrating springtime fertility y with village fetes and community endar, May 1st. became the Feast of by Richard Wolff all subsidiaries Mondragon Cooperative rs. Farm-hands and other workers Saturday, The Pump of the Movements of the sowing process. The most successful example of May 18 House Mondragon From Spain to Pittsburgh nfamous when Chicago police fired on coops in Europe is Mondragon, Cooperative Carl Davidson and Rob Witherell an eight-hour workday. Dozens of located in northern Spain in 1:30 PM Corporation. In 60 Waterfront gress of the Second International the Basque region. In the years its total trations on the 1890 anniversary of the 1950s, because of the Spanish employment is in excess of over 100,000 or factory, got together and had the power — nized as International Workers’ Day Civil War, this was a rural, workers. Mondragon Cooperative Corporation which in a co-op they would — to decide what congress in 1891. backward area with huge is the largest single corporation in northern the wages and salaries of everybody are, do ference meeting in Amsterdam called unemployment and deep Spain and the tenth largest corporation in all of you think they’d give a handful of people at c Party in all countries to demonstrate poverty. A local priest, Father Spain. the top tens of millions of dollars, while demands. The congress made the work José María Arizmendiarrieta, In Mondragon, it’s the workers who hire everybody else is scrambling and unable to decided not to wait until some the managers, the exact opposite of a capitalist pay for their kids’ college education, etc.? d, fearing that May 1st. as a labor employer came in to provide corporation. The rule the workers adopted is That’s not going to happen. Even if you decide ymarket Massacre, supported work, but instead gathered six the gap between the highest and lowest paid to pay some people more you’re not going to e Central Labor Union and the antiparishioners to form a cooperative worker is not allowed not to be more than six live in the world of extreme inequality the way enterprise. Basically, the idea was: and a half times. Compare that to the CEO of a that’s normal and typical for capitalism. onsumer culture, May 1st marks the We don’t need an employer. We can major corporation who makes 340 times more ut the country, while Labor Day marks be our own employer, we can set up a than the average — not even the lowest paid Richard D. Wolff is an American professor of collective or cooperative enterprise. economics who has hailed the Mondragon set — worker in America. What a radical Let’s fast forward to 2013: What was of enterprises as a major success and has difference you have with a place like New York University before once one co-op has mushroomed. It’s now an cited it as a working model of an alternative Mondragon. And that shouldn’t surprise itical Media and Cultural association of several hundred co-ops that are anyone. If all the workers in any office, store to the capitalist mode of production. niversity of Pittsburgh, nt Park University.
Spanish Cooperative Mondragon Rivals Corporations
Adjuncts Unite for “Countering Contingency”
by Robin Clarke Building on the highly successful organizing campaign at Duquesne University, non-tenure-track faculty from Pittsburgh and across the nation gathered this past April 5-7 for “Countering Contingency: Teaching, Scholarship, and Creativity in the Age of the Adjunct,” a conference devoted to rectifying the abysmal working conditions of adjunct faculty members here in Pittsburgh and nationally. In the current system of academic employment, most faculty are on the non-tenure track, with many denied full employment at their home institution, which means they juggle more than one contract in substandard conditions. They receive poverty wages and struggle to meet the basic needs of food and shelter. Adjuncts work uncertain of future employment and without health care. Most undergraduates gain their education purely by the altruistic impulses and ethical compulsions of faculty who are no longer adequately paid to teach them. On the 4th floor of the USW building, on a weekend when winter had just begun to relent to spring, a thaw could be felt from the icy system of
higher ed employment in which so many of us feel frozen. Talks ranged from how motherhood creates gendered faculty inequality, often barring women from achieving tenure, to the ideological changes in higher education that create a radically tiered labor pool, to the nuts and bolts of beginning to form an adjunct faculty union today. Conference participants said it was the most inspiring and engaging conference they had been to in years, and the energy was high for taking action to gain more control over our workplaces. Local presenters included Joshua Zelesnick and Robin Sowards of the Duquesne Adjunct Faculty Association, Heather Steffen, PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon, and multiple panels of University of Pittsburgh tenured and non-tenured faculty. Formative national figures in the movement for contingent faculty justice also spoke, such as Joe Berry, author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education; Jack Longmate, co-author of the “Program for Change,” an influential document that faculty and organizations use to imagine and map out a practical timeline for achieving dignity in pay
and stability of contract; and Michael Bérubé, last year’s outspoken president of the Modern Language Association. SEIU Organizer David Rodich discussed their adjunct faculty union’s use in the Washington D.C. area of the “metro strategy”—a concept developed by Joe Berry to describe how adjuncts should organize as a region (since they work at multiple institutions, generally) rather than within only one school. IWW organizer and tenured faculty member Joe Baranski discussed tactics for greater faculty workplace control in his own right-to -work state of Colorado. The conference began with remarks by USW president Leo Gerard and concluded with an “actions and strategies” session facilitated by USW Assistant Director of Organizing Maria Somma, who spoke powerfully about the need for all faculty—tenured and non-tenured—to regain control of our workplaces. “Every adjunct is always 15 seconds away from humiliation,” said one presenter. The conference showed that every adjunct is also seconds away for organizing. Robin Clarke is a poet, educator, and labor activist . May 2013
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Activist Arts and Culture a poem for may day 2013 —Robin Clarke Loosely speaking, torque = flywheel = a measure of the turning a josh boldt goes viral and Queen Elizabeth turns some lights off in Buckingham Palace which runs on plasma of farm workers and lead workers poison in their actual plasma but constellation Adjunctus Facultus Majoris knows who puts the lights on who can turn them off language is solar-powered, can’t be stolen the poet stores power in a device of perpetual turning the critic creates and holds on to energy Say it together: In the moment of inertia, I, takes the role of the mass I shit you not this is RIGHT off WIKIPEDIA! Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly forward except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed. Language pops a moment of inertia and then rearranges the letters A LIVE ART AUCTION = A LIVE RAT AUCTION apply torque to this semantic load we’ve gone from silhouettes and paperwork to say my name say my name where we’re going we don’t need names where you’re from where you’re from if you’re from anywhere anymore @Iwasrobs, I’m from The Jungle @queenoffree I’m from More Shit Chief Keef Don’t Like every contingent worker is always [15 seconds away] from humiliation every contingent worker is always [30 seconds away] from organizing Robin Clarke is a poet, educator, and labor activist .
10 - NEWPEOPLE
Racial Justice Marcus Rediker Writes ‘History from Below’
Interview by Al Hart Marcus Rediker is a labor historian who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. Rediker writes "history from below," specializing in maritime labor, and he's written two very moving and profound works of history about the Atlantic slave trade. The Slave Ship: A Human History (2007) examines these vessels of dehumanization and terror from the perspectives of the common sailors, the captains, and most importantly the African captives. In November 2012 he published what he's called a "hopeful counterpoint to this gruesome history," The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom, the story of a successful revolt aboard a
slave ship. To honor Black workers in the international History Month, the UE News division of labor. interviewed Professor Rediker. So I was very interested in how they worked, how they Hart: It seems to me that there's a unity in all your work, cooperated and how they thought about their roles on and it's about the making of the working class. So I'd like these ships, and in the process of doing that I discovered that to start by asking what you think both of these books offer were also on the cutting edge of thinking about labor. It was the labor movement, the sailors in London in 1768 who American working class. invented the strike. The word Rediker: My first research "strike" actually comes from was about sailors as essentially the maritime realm. To take down the sail of a ship is to the first modern proletariat, "strike a sail". So what London who sold their labor on an sailors did in 1768 was to go international market for a around the harbor and strike money wage, who were the sails of ships one after organized together under a system of coercive discipline another. Ships stopped to make a machine work. And moving, the accumulation of capital came to a halt, and the that machine happened to be the most sophisticated piece of working class had a new form technology of its day, and that of power. is the European sailing ship, The book I did with Peter which was the key to the Linebaugh, The Many Headed origins of globalization and Hydra : Sailors, Slaves, the key to the rise of Commoners, and the Hidden capitalism. This is what allowed Europe to conquer the History of the Revolutionary world and to build new labor Atlantic (2000), is about systems that would advantage sailors and slaves and the Europe over all the other parts connections to other kinds of workers, and how struggles of the world. So the establishment of the European circulated around the Atlantic. At the heart of that book was empires – Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the strategic connection between sailors and slaves. We English – are impossible have this idea that there are without sailors and ships. free workers, and then there Sailors are kind of strategic
are unfree workers, and never the two shall meet. But in fact they met every day, on ships and in port cities, and their labor was cooperatively organized. So how did they use it for purposes of their own? What kind of freedom struggles were involved? What I came to see was that, if the labor of the sailor was crucial to the Atlantic, the labor of the African slave was in many ways even more crucial. So I started thinking about the slave ship and its relationship to this capitalist system, but also how it was a machine that created labor power. So I was very interested in the role of sailors in sailing these ships, but also in how the bodies of the enslaved were literally being produced for work on the global market, as plantation workers.
ways of communicating among themselves, because they were multi-ethnic, many different African culture groups. They had to learn to talk to each other, if they were going to cooperate for selfdefense. One of the best comments I ever heard about this book was from a Pakistani trade unionist that I met in London, his name is Salman Mirza. When I gave a talk in London soon after the book came out, Salman had come down from Birmingham. He'd already read the book, so he made this great comment to this big crowd, he said, "I say to me mates, if these people, on those ships, can find ways to fight back, surely we out here can do something!"
You can take inspiration from the fact that, even though they didn't often win, the battle was just constant. I think this is an The only redeeming thing inspiring part of the story for about the whole awful subject anybody who resists – and I lived with it for years – oppression, especially people the horror of the floggings, the who resist it in a workplace, an beheadings, the violence. The authoritarian workplace. only redeeming feature of that History can help us see that whole story was that the things are not hopeless. Africans fought back, in all Al Hart is the managing kinds of ways. They just editor of the United Electrical fought back. They waged hunger strikes, they rose up in Radio and Machine Workers rebellion, they developed new of America.
Local Youth Campaign for Racial Justice and Human Rights by Maya Best If you turn onto Ellsworth Avenue in Pittsburgh, you will come across a big house standing between two tall green trees. This is the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House where the American Friends Service Committee’s Racial Justice Through Human Rights Youth Program meets twice each month on Sunday afternoons to learn about the importance of human rights and equality. The group is run by Scilla Wahrhaftig, the program director, at the Friends Meeting House. The students come from different social and economic backgrounds and attend a number of different high schools around the city. This program offers a way for students to communicate and share their opinions and ideas with one another. Already having accomplished
their goal of making the Committee. The city of Pittsburgh a students learned about Human Rights City, at a military spending and City Council meeting on prepared for their April 19th 2011, the meeting with members group has now of Congress. They had completed a new the opportunity to project. express their concerns Washington, D.C.—Pittsburgh youth demonstrate what they would Back in December and do with a Trillion Dollars. Photo by Scilla Wahrhaftig about funding for January, members education when participated in the “If I Had a and how it sets up a lifelong path speaking with the aides of Senator Trillion Dollars” (IHTD) youth for students. In this film, a high Toomey and Congressman Doyle. video competition that asked school boy is forced to change To wrap things up, the group helped students what they would do if they schools in his senior year because to perform an action on the could spend a trillion dollars on his old school has shut down. He Washington mall where they held anything. A trillion dollars is spent ends up dropping out of school and up poster boards showing the every year on the U.S military and joining the military. Students should current military action budget, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not feel the need to make bad their ideal budget if one trillion causing other things to fall to lower choices in life. The film then shows dollars went into other categories, levels of importance. The youth the boy’s life path with a trillion chanting, “We are unstoppable, group worked non-stop and created dollars invested in education. As another world is possible.” It was a a stop motion film called stated at the end of the film, wonderful experience and members “Educating Hope,” using legos and “Education is the key to success.” hope to attend the event again next other props to express the http://www.afsc.org/video/ year. Now the youth group will importance of education. educating-hope-if-i-had-trillioncontinue to help out in the The Pittsburgh Public dollars community by starting an art project school system is The film was chosen for the that will demonstrate their views on struggling with IHTD contest and was shown at the fracking and how it affects the continuous budget cuts annual film festival in Washington, environment. and less funding, and D.C. The group traveled to Maya Best is a 9th grade student at many students receive a Washington this April 13-15, to CAPA and a participant in the poor education. The video participate in the annual IHTD Racial Justice Through Human Rights Youth in Racial Justice Through Human Senator Toomey’s Office. Photo by Scilla Wahrhaftig strives to show people the leadership training organized by the Rights youth group. importance of education American Friends Service May 2013
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Protest Actions Thousands March on Patriot Coal in Charleston, WV Sixteen Arrested in Non-Violent Protest United Mine Workers of America Press Release Faith leaders and elected officials joined thousands of active and retired union members, families and concerned citizens on April 1, marching to the offices of Patriot Coal in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. Sixteen labor leaders, clergy and UMWA members were arrested during a non-violent protest in front of Patriot headquarters at Laidley Tower on Lee Street in Charleston, the state capital. The march and rally, sponsored by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), supported the union’s “Fairness at Patriot” campaign to save health care for retired mine workers and secure decent wages, health care, and working conditions for active miners. The massive community and labor mobilization, overflowing the Charleston Civic Center, included dozens of busloads of marchers from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. “A lot of people, when they see the coal miner’s face covered with dust, all they see is that worker,”
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin told a packed crowd at the West Virginia Civic Center. “I see a family, a wife, and children they are responsible for, and they’re working every day to make sure their family is taken care of, in case anything happens to them. Those are the benefits we’re talking about losing here today. I will continue to encourage Patriot to be fair as we go through these negotiations.” “Patriot and Peabody and Arch, I know these people,” said West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, “and I told them: Where I come from you can’t make wrong into right. We’re not going to let it happen. We’ve given too much, we’ve sacrificed too much. We’re going to make the changes we need for the working men and women of this country.” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) told the crowd he will fight to maintain federal guarantees which ensure health and welfare funds for retired miners. "That promise MUST be kept," he said. "It simply MUST be kept." Legislation introduced by Rahall, Sen. Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia – “will allow trustees [of
mine workers health and pension funds] to reach back and make sure those entities who are responsible be held responsible.” “In America, our word is our bond,” said Rich Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “Peabody and Arch and Patriot, they want to just take the money and run. Not this time, and not these workers. You can’t be a ‘friend of coal’ unless you’re a friend of coal miners.” “This is a crime,” said UMWA President Cecil Roberts. “We’ve been robbed, tricked and lied to. This cannot stand – and with thousands of us from all over the country marching today and keeping us this fight tomorrow, it will not stand.” Patriot Coal was spun off from St. Louis-based Peabody Energy in 2007, with approximately 43 percent of Peabody’s pension and health care liabilities, but just 11 percent of its productive assets. Patriot also later assumed pension and health care obligations for retired union miners who had worked for Arch Coal, which had previously shed its liabilities in a similar fashion as Peabody. In June of 2012, Patriot filed for reorganization under U.S. bankruptcy law. The company is seeking court approval to drastically reduce or eliminate health care coverage for retired miners, and to make severe cutbacks in the wages,
health care, pensions and working conditions of active mine workers. “I never worked a day for Patriot Coal,” said Shirley Inman, a retired miner whose health care benefits are threatened by Patriot’s actions in U.S. bankruptcy court. “I don’t care what the corporate name is, those executives made us a promise: We’d mine their coal, and in exchange we’d have good health care while we worked and after we retired. I kept my promise; they should keep theirs.” “Patriot doesn’t have to go down this road,” Roberts said. “We can help Patriot solve its problems, with a solution that keeps the promises made to retired miners, and provides decent pay, benefits and working conditions to active miners. Patriot’s problems are not rooted in competition with other coal companies, they’re rooted in not having the assets to pay Peabody’s and Arch’s bills in a coal market that is on a downswing.” The UMWA is challenging Patriot’s action in court, has undertaken a public education advertising campaign about Peabody, Patriot and Arch Coal, and has worked with Senators Rockefeller and Manchin and Representative Rahall to develop and introduce federal legislation to assist retired miners. Press Release from the United Mine Workers
Group Plans to Hang Anti-Corporate Banner on Insterstate 279
The Thomas Merton Center is a proud consumer of TriEagle Energy. 12 - NEWPEOPLE
by Tim Cimino The Pittsburgh Move to Amend group will be unfurling a large “We can limit corporate power!” banner on a bridge over Interstate 279 North on Friday, May 10th as part of multi-city actions. Corporations are currently perverting our state and federal laws to dominate the political process. A striking example occurs when doctors’ treatment of patients made sick from fracking chemicals because energy companies claim the composition of their fracking mixtures are trade secrets. This directly puts company rights and profit over human rights and individual human survival. Move to Amend wants to stop these types of policies by limiting the power that corporations exert on the political process, in order to reduce (and ultimately stop) corporate policy’s negative impact on the environment, worker health, and consumer safety. The good news is that momentum is building against corporations. In a recent landmark Pennsylvania ruling, Washington County’s President Judge, Debbie O’Dell-Senaca, ruled against Range Resources, a fracking company. Her
written decision included some stirring language: “In the absence of state law, business entities are nothing.” If corporations could claim rights independent from people, she asserted, then “the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principals, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it.” These are beautiful and welcome words. That means, for example, that if a state revokes a corporation’s charter, it ceases to exist. Corporations like Range Resources, Monsanto and even nonprofits like UPMC could instantly cease to exist. Right now, that’s highly unlikely. But it’s important to realize that it is now conceivable under the law. Every action we take brings us one step closer to justice. Move to Amend is still seeking a few more volunteers for the afternoon rush hour. Please contact Marcia Bandes at MBandes@c9n.com if you are interested and available. Tim Cimino is a member of Pittsburgh Move to Amend and the Thomas Merton Center.
Environmental Justice The Fight for Earth Justice on Native American Lands from an article by Linda Three Crows Meadowcroft The Lower Wisconsin is a 92-mile pristine recreational and world class heritage corridor, breathtakingly beautiful. It flows through the Driftless Area, an unusual region that wasn’t glaciated like the rest of Wisconsin and has not been changed (except by agriculture) for millennia—truly timeless. Tall sandstone and quartzite bluffs that provide exquisite views of the river below are capped by ancient Indian mounds built by the ancestors of the Indian nations of Wisconsin more than 1300 years ago. The Lower Wisconsin Riverway is the most beautiful part of their 1,000- mile canoe journey. A mystical corridor—hundreds of sacred sites of the Ho-Chunk Nation—where people today are awed into silence. Many mound sites have been plowed flat, but their “roots” still lie underground. The mounds’ disturbed earth, often made of soil brought from distant locations by the ancient mound builders, now scatters ghostly shadows across the fields. Many other mound sites still exist above ground, often located on bluffs at the edge of agricultural fields, where they claim sweeping views of the water below. Esteemed Ho-Chunk elder Merlin Redcloud Jr. believes there to be hundreds of mounds along the (Lower Wisconsin) river. Now the mounds are again in jeopardy, this time not from being plowed under or from housing development, but from the frac sand
mining craze that’s Source Creative Commons sweeping the Midwest. While state burial laws have protected the ancient mounds since the mid-1980s, the required buffer zone around the mounds is a mere five feet, and no regulatory guidance exists on how to avoid Great Bear Mound Group, damage or destruction Effigy Mounds National Monument to mounds when megaton machinery is used or blasting occurs. There isn’t an is also) encoded in its formations. adequate buffer zone, no fencing or Hundreds of effigy mound signage is required to separate earthworks, still alive to the touch, mound sites from mining areas; and stand today as spiritual gifts and no vegetation, protective netting, or messages from those who peopled other measures have been called this land in the deep past.” The for. If mining truck traffic now effigy mounds have transformed the threatens historic sites from the entire river corridor into “a work of 1800s, could we expect 1,200-year art,” but this living work of art old earthen monuments to suffer stands to be transformed into an less from both truck traffic and unsightly string of open pit mines nearby blasting? along the length of the Lower The largest deposits of the best Wisconsin Riverway with frac sand in the US are in devastating environmental, cultural, Wisconsin, so this issue is not going and economic consequences. away any time soon. Deposits of Sadly, well over 90% have been silica (quartz) lie along Wisconsin’s destroyed. In fact, it’s estimated western border with the Mississippi that the effigy mounds of Wisconsin River and through the west and represent over 90% of all the south central region of the state— world’s remaining ancient effigy along the scenic lower Wisconsin monuments. River. The sites are the burial places of It has been said that the the relatives of the still-living first river “sparkles, by sunny day or peoples. The sites are the worship starry night, with the wild beauty of places of our neighbors, friends, Nature left to its own devices for school chums, local entrepreneurs, thousands and thousands of professionals, laborers. Ho-chunk years”… and that as “transcendent David Greendeer talks about how as the ancient Driftless area difficult it is now to “go to a sacred landscape is, the history (of the area ceremony and see all these sand
piles” that have torn up and covered the woods he explored as a child. He says “I cried,” and you would, too, on seeing the devastated landscape. If we want to claim religious freedom in this country how can we justify damaging these ancient churches and destroying their surrounding context? These areas tell important stories about the past and present, about reverence for the living earth and our relatives, and about our shattered contemporary relationships and human greed. Linda Three Crows Meadowcroft visited Pittsburgh in April to speak to the tragedy of frac sand mining in Wisconsin. She is formerly a resident of Lawrenceville in Pittsburgh. She is President and founder of CultureWorks, inc., a non-profit dedicated to preserving the effigy mounds along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway and author of a biography: Ghost Eagles: The Spirit Journey of Jan Beaver about an artist’s recovery of identity through the reclamation of an ancient Native American sacred site in Wisconsin. She is now living in Baraboo, Wisconsin , and working (always pro bono) in Native American cultural preservation with the HoChunk and other Nations.
economy. Then the proceeds from this carbon fee would be distributed monthly to the population on a per by Michael Drohan clear, the political, economic and capita basis as dividends. The dividends would be sent directly via Drastic climate change, due largely social obstacles are daunting if not intractable. International agreements electronic transfers to bank accounts or to human intervention in the form of on carbon emission reduction such as debit cards of citizens. None of the carbon emissions into the atmosphere the Kyoto Protocol have little effect proceeds would go to the government; from fossil fuel use, is now an due to the resistance of the richer Hansen sees the government as being established scientific fact. Only cranks, countries. The U.S. signed the in collusion with the fossil fuel fossil fuel companies and Fox Newscompanies. The dynamics of the fee like misinformation networks remain Protocol but never ratified it and Canada withdrew from it in 2011. But and dividend system are as follows: in denial. We are fast approaching a even if the Kyoto Protocol agreement The fee would amount to $115 per ton climate cliff which would be was universally ratified, it would not of carbon emitted into the atmosphere precipitated by a global average likely save the planet from the according to the proposal that Hansen temperature rise of two degrees catastrophic effects described above. laid out to Congress in 2009. This Celsius. This rise would precipitate An essential part of Kyoto is the sowould be equivalent to about $1 extra irreversible changes beyond human called “cap and trade” which basically per gallon of gasoline and 8 cents per control and lead to melting of a allows countries to buy and sell kilowatt hour of electricity. According considerable amount of the planet’s pollution rights around the globe. Its to Hansen, the increased price for ice. The results would be catastrophic essential weakness lies in its reliance fossil fuel products would lead to a for Mother Earth and its inhabitants. on market forces to solve global decrease in demand for fossil fuels and Such a change would lead to the an increase in the search for alternative extinction of 50 percent or more of all climate issues. We have to think beyond Kyoto and its provisions if we non-fossil fuel energy sources since it plant and animal species. World are to avoid climate catastrophe. would make the latter more production of food would decrease Thinking beyond Kyoto, James economically desirable. drastically due to droughts, flooding Hansen, director of the Goddard PROBABILITY OF SUCCESS OF THE and other severe climate events. The Institute for Space Studies and one of HANSEN PROPOSAL rise in the levels of the oceans would the world’s foremost climate scientists, It is difficult to be optimistic about put many islands and coastal cities and has come up with an fairly the prospects for success of any communities under water and make revolutionary alternative solution. measures to avoid planetary collapse them uninhabitable. Hansen proposes a “fee and dividend” given the U.S. economic and political THE SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS system whereby fossil fuel companies system. In this vein, the U.S. has just It seems obvious that the solution would be charged a carbon fee which experienced ( April 17) the defeat in lies in the weaning of humanity from would be levied at the wellhead, mine the Senate of all and every attempt to the use of fossil fuels in quick order. shaft or point of entry into the curb the violence wrought by the gun While this seems obvious, simple and
industry and lobby. Imagine how much more powerful the fossil fuel lobby is in the U.S. and one gets an estimate of the odds in the battle to save planet earth and its different forms of life and beauty. If the entire East Coast of the U.S. was all brought under water due to climate changes, it is unlikely to move or change a troglodyte-like Congress and a press given to disinformation. These institutions seem to be totally beholden to the gun, pentagon, and fossil fuel lobbies, just to mention the principal influences. Given this reality, the environmental struggle has to be put in the perspective of much wider political and economic changes. For starters, money has to be taken out of politics, terms of office have to be limited to one or two terms and accountability to electors made real. James Hansen has declared, “Humanity is not a bunch of lemmings marching unstoppably towards a cliff.” Maybe not, but we certainly do look like a herd of sheep being driven over a cliff by a group of people (Congress and Administration) whose wisdom resembles that of lemmings.
The Environmental Cliff
Submitted by Wanda Guthrie, Thomas Merton Center board member and chair of the environmental committee.
Michael Drohan is a member of the Editorial Collective and a board member of the Thomas Merton Center. May 2013
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The Right to Wellness Bread for the World Plans May and June Actions by Joyce Rothermel Bread for the World will be holding its national gathering, A Place at the Table, in Washington D.C. from June 8 – 10. Lobby Day will take place on Tuesday, June 11. The regional Bread Team will be heading down on Monday, June 10, and returning on Tuesday, June 11. They plan to visit the offices of Senators Casey and Toomey as well as PA Representatives. Our hope is to help our political leaders to ensure a place at the table for all people. A reversal to the Sequestration law, improvements to the Farm Bill (which includes several food security programs) and funding for domestic and international food security
programs in the 2014 federal budget will be sought. To find out more about the national gathering, visit www.bread.org If you are interested in participating, please contact Donna Hansen at 412812-1553 or by e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org> Visits to Sen. Casey, Rep. Murphy and Sen. Toomey’s regional offices have already been made. Local visits to the offices of Representatives Doyle, Rothfus and Kelly will soon be scheduled. If you are from any of their districts and are willing to speak out with the Bread members, please contact me at the
invited to write letters to our U.S. Senators and Representatives supporting food security public policy improvements. These letters will be hand delivered by those Merton Center, 412-361-3022. traveling to Washington D.C. in Locally, all are invited to June. participate in a potluck followed by The next meeting of the SW discussion hosted by the SW PA PA Bread for the World Team, now Bread for the World Team at the an affiliate of the Thomas Merton Thomas Merton Center on Thursday, Center, will be on Wednesday, June May 23, from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. We 19, at 10 AM at Christian will view a short, locally produced Associates, corner of 37th and Butler DVD on regional hunger and food Streets in Lawrenceville. insecurity and then talk about current Bread lobbying efforts and how to Joyce Rothermel co-chairs the SW take action. Opportunities for PA Bread Team with Donna regional involvement will also be Hansen. presented. Participants will be
Legislation to PUSH for Single-Payer Health Care in PA! by Molly Rush On April 1 Prime Sponsor Senator Jim Ferlo re -introduced PA Senate Bill 400, the Family and Business Health Care Security Act of 2013, providing for a Statewide comprehensive health care system by establishing the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan to provide coverage to all Pennsylvanians at a savings of $17 billion a year. [See Economic Impact Study by Gerald Friedman: www.healthcare4allpa.org.] According to a Pennsylvania Medical Society 2010 poll, two-thirds of Pennsylvanians support universal health care. About one in eight Pennsylvanians under 65 lacked health care in 2010-11. A new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study found that in 2011 67% of workers in Pennsylvania were insured by their employer,
down from 78% in 2001. Foundation Health Care Group Director Dr. John Lumpkin says the trend could have an impact on public health. "What we've seen in the last 10 years is that 860,000 fewer people in Pennsylvania have been able to obtain health insurance through their job," Lumpkin says. "This creates problems for people without health insurance because they live sicker and die younger." As blogger Aaron DiDonato (www.Keystone Politics.com) commented: Here is our collective chance as a state to finally catch up with the rest of the world and have a universal health care system that provides for everyone. It may seem greatly improbable or too-good-to-be-true in the abstract, but that is only true if we allow it to be. There’s no doubt it seemed that way in other countries before reforms happened there. I urge all my fellow Pennsylvanians to contact your state legislators and tell them to support with emphasis on the dual
imperative of morality and economics. They take calls from constituents seriously. But we all need to get very active in our long term effort to pass the bill. As economist Gar Alperovitz has said, single payer is inevitable, given the growing costs. Share our website with your friends. Write a letter to the editor. Talk with your legislators. Tell them your story and urge them to co-sponsor the bill. Go towww.legis.state.pa.us for contact information. Join PUSH planning group: next meeting is Saturday, May 18th, 11 AM at the office, HC4APA/PUSH, 2101 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Send PUSH a donation. To volunteer to staff the office contact Marilyn Kuenzig email@example.com. Molly Rush is a member of the PUSH steering committee and co-founder of the Thomas Merton Center.
How Private Insurance Companies Nearly Killed Me by Joanne Tosti-Vasey
not by providing–healthcare. Health insurance for Women), we were finally able to get me the CEOs of the top 10 health insurance companies life-saving transplant that I needed. And I am I received a bone marrow today typically enjoy an average of $10,000,000 here today. transplant in 1989 from my in annual compensation–salary, bonuses, stock This experience is why I became an identical twin sister. options, etc. advocate for a single-payer health care system Although I had no problem Back to my story. I went into battle mode rather than the current system that allows private finding a match, I had to against the insurance companies when I was told companies the ability to deny critical health care jump through many hoops that they would let me die because of their to “save” their bottom line for profit only. and barriers put up by the bottom line and attempts to deny coverage. Joanne Tosti-Vasey is a Healthcare for All PA two health insurance Because of the support and advocacy I had companies covering my sister through the organization where I self-purchased state Board Member and past PA Now and me. In the case of my my health insurance (the National Organization President. insurance provider, I was refused coverage of the donor portion of the transplant because my Freedom of Conscience From Vatican Council II: Association of Pittsburgh Priests twin sister wasn’t on my health insurance plan. Before Vatican Council II (1962-64) Declaration on Religious in the Catholic Church, the idea In the case of my twin sister’s insurance Freedom persisted that ‘error’ had no rights. provider, they refused to cover her portion of the “Many pressures are Thanks to the work of Fr. John transplant because she “wasn’t sick.” brought to bear upon the Courtney Murray, SJ the Council Then the hospital administration said that people of our day, to the passed a Declaration on Religious they would not perform the transplant until this point where the danger Freedom that taught that all people conflict between the two insurance agencies was have the right and duty to follow arises lest they lose the making light of the duty of their conscience. People have a right resolved with a guarantee of payment by either possibility of acting on their to freedom of conscience. This was own judgment. On the other obedience. (An or both companies. And my doctors said that if addressed to governments that tried important goal is to have a hand, not a few can be the resolution did not occur rapidly, I would be to impose one religion, or ban all well formed conscience.) found who seem inclined to dead within the year due to the seriousness of the religions. But it was also addressed use this name of freedom as This doctrine of freedom form of leukemia that I had. to the Church and all religions. It is has its roots in divine part of the dignity and rights of all a pretext for refusing to According to Health Care for America, revelation.” human beings to have freedom of submit to authority and for health insurance companies profit by denying– conscience.
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Thomas Merton Center News TMC Intern Mike Rosenberg Receives 2013 Community Practice Award by Diane McMahon This past April, intern Mike Rosenberg won the prestigious 2013 Community Practice Award from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work for his outstanding work at the Thomas Merton Center. Under Mike, a TMC Intern Recruitment Program was developed and launched during his year at the Center. During this time Mike recruited more than 20 interns to staff our grass-root organizing projects. This required creating an interview, orientation and evaluation process to help interns succeed in their positions. During this time Mike participated in many community employment and intern fairs to recruit our highly valued interns and volunteers. This recruitment process was part of the board’s strategic goal of expanding youth membership and integrated well with our newly developed Youth and Student Outreach Committee of the board. Interns provide greatly needed people-power at the
Thomas Merton Center. With only three part-time staff many organizing functions of the Center would not happen without their presence. The Thomas Merton Center’s organizational capacity has grown three-fold due to Mike’s efforts with renewed energy provided by dedicated interns working at the Center. Interns provide fresh and innovative ideas, and have displayed a deep commitment to our peace and justice goals. During Mike’s time at the Center, he assisted with weekly eblast email efforts, which included coordination of a long list of ongoing activist events that occur in the greater Pittsburgh area. Our members have noted the outstanding improvements of the eblast under Mike’s leadership. Mike has also helped facilitate deeper communication about events, press releases and other activities through use of the social media and software programs at the Center. This past year Mike took on the challenge of working with our diverse membership, special events,
and facilitated the newly developed youth and student outreach committee with the board. Towards this end, Mike has attended many committee meetings, events, and spoken publicly to the membership about the current state of affairs at the Thomas Merton Center with an intent and focus on recruitment of youth and interns who are supportive of community organizing efforts of the Center. Most importantly, Mike helped develop new relationships with a diverse set of volunteers and board members. Towards this end he has seamlessly created a culture of hospitality where all are welcomed and respected for their unique gifts and talents. In all these ways and more Michael Rosenberg has established himself as an everlasting asset to the Thomas Merton Center and we were honored to work with him to accomplish our important mission in the greater Pittsburgh area and region. Diane McMahon is the Managing Director of the Thomas Merton Center.
by Joyce Rothermel
As well as recruiting new young members, another method of involving them is the election of a new board member who sees the Center “as a resource for younger people to nurture their societal values for peace and social justice and a place to be with others who share them.” This is how Ken Joseph, newly elected Merton Center board member, expresses the importance of the Center at this time in its over 40 year history. Ken is a first generation American whose parents emigrated from Canada just before Ken was born. They settled in Pittsburgh’s South Hills where Ken grew up and was educated. After receiving a liberal arts degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Ken worked in the hospitality industry and then returned to Pittsburgh. While working at Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Beaver County, Ken got his law degree from Duquesne University and now is employed at the law firm, Pepper Hamilton LLP. His focus is on the development of affordable housing.
ovation. Senator Ferlo was followed by U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle, who also thanked the TMC. TMC founder Molly Rush was warmly received by the audience, and introduced the evening’s headliner with a clip from “In the King of Prussia”, which reenacts the trial of the Plowshare Eight. The film is significant because Molly and the rest of the Plowshares Eight play themselves, while Martin Sheen presides over the trial as the judge. After the video, Board President Mary Jo Guercio and Molly Rush welcomed Martin Sheen to the stage and presented him with the 2012 Merton Award. Sheen then took to the podium to make some remarks. In his address, Martin Sheen thanked the Thomas Merton Center for their honor and for the opportunity to speak. Sheen shared how the filming of King of Prussia was a watershed moment in his activist life and inspires his activism to this day. He recently represented the United States at the Oslo international conference aimed at eliminating all nuclear weapons. After his address, a brief
Award Reception for Martin Sheen April 13, to socialize and honor the lifetime achievement of Actor -Activist Martin Sheen. The reception began at 5:00 p.m., as longtime friends, members, and Photo by Shahid Khan volunteers of the Thomas Merton by Michael Deckebach Center funneled into Soldiers & Sailors. Once inside, the crowd Pittsburgh’s activist drank, ate, and mingled while community joined the jazzy “When I think of Molly together at the Thomas guitar of Rush and the Thomas Merton Award Reception Merton Center, I think Moko set the in honor of Martin Sheen of the commitment and atmosphere. the cost. Anything of for fun, food, laughter, A little after value has to cost you and solidarity. 6:00, the something otherwise A packed room of 400 you’re left to question main its value.” -plus activists gathered at program Soldiers & Sailors began. While Memorial Hall on Saturday, attendees grabbed one last plate of food and worked towards their seats, Anne Feeney greeted the crowd with chants of “War on the Workers!” After the opening song, TMC intern Michael Deckebach made a plea for youth and student involvement at the Center, and the evening’s emcee, State Senator Jim Ferlo, spoke to the crowd, receiving a standing
Welcome TMC Board Member Ken Joseph
Ken and his wife Susan Small have two adult children. It was through their daughter, when she was in high school, that Ken came to know about the Merton Center. He then volunteered with CMU’s WRTC radio station in the effort to keep Democracy Now on the air in Pittsburgh and became a member of the Merton Center. Deciding that financial support of the Center was not enough for an organization he believes in, Ken agreed to serve as a TMC board member and was elected last November. Ken’s daughter has continued her involvement in peace and social justice efforts, too. Now living in eastern Pennsylvania, she is active in Decarcerate PA, protesting against the prison industrial complex in Pennsylvania. Of note, Ken has not owned a car since 1984 out of concern for the environment. Joyce Rothermel serves on the Thomas Merton Center Editorial Collective.
Q&A followed. Sheen said that “while acting is what I do for a living, activism is what keeps me alive.” When asked about whether his activism has Photo by Shahid Khan ever influenced his acting career, Sheen stated he has reception, “was a time of joy.” certainly not been selected for The Merton Center’s Managing roles because of his activist Director, Diane McMahon, had career, but he also likes to think this to say: that he has been selected for “With the help of so many other roles because of his people, it’s amazing how things activism. When a questioner come together so well in the end. asked, “When it’s all said and I think the Merton Center has a done, how do you want to be larger mission that can only remembered, as an actor or an happen with the support of activist?” Martin Sheen replied, people, and there is still much to “For about five minutes.” be done.” The Merton Award The Merton Award Reception finished with Reception was the culmination powerful performances from of months of planning by dozens Mike Stout and the Human of people. The TMC thanks all Union Band, and much of the of our sponsors, especially crowd stayed after to speak with emcee and Peace and Justice Sheen or mingle some more. Sponsor Senator Jim Ferlo, who Overall, the reception was a was invaluable throughout the huge success for the TMC and reception planning process. was received very positively by Michael Deckebach is the those in attendance. Joyce Rothermel, a board member and Youth & Student Outreach intern at the Thomas Merton chair of the Membership Center. Committee, said that the May 2013
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May Activist Events Sunday
There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it's not really there.” ― Bill McKibben, The End
May 1 Mayday March for Immigrant Rights, 5 pm, Pgh. Federation of Teachers, 10 So. 19th St., Southside to IBEW Hall
Editorial Collective meets Join Us!
Borland Green Open House 1-3 pm 5800 block of Black Street East Liberty
Pittsburgh: The West Virginia Mine Wars 6:00-7:30, Big Idea Book Store 4812 Liberty Ave
3:30-7:00pm 126 S. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206
10 Natl Day of Action Against Corporate Personhood 3:30 PM Greenfield Bridge MOVE TO AMEND
7:00-9:00pm Rodef Shalom, 4905 Fifth Ave, Oakland 20
TMC Antiwar Committee
PUSH meets, 10 am, 2101 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill, 412-421-4242
25 Memorial Weekend: StopTheViolence & Community AWARENESS Event, 12:00pm 5:00pm , Stage AE
“Shift Change” film at the Pump House Waterfront 7:30 PM
meeting to organize against drone warfare 1:30 pm @ TMC
Ten Thousand Villages 5824 Forbes Avenue Pgh. Haiti Solidarity Meeting TMC @ 11 am
5:00pm, Schenley Oval Meadow
World Fair Trade Day
3rd Peaceful Gathering of Hands 12:00-
Sister Helen Working Group, Prejean
International Socialist Organization Meets weekly at the Thomas Merton Center 730-9:30 PM Fed-Up! Write on-Letters for Prisoner Rights 7:00 PM—Thomas Merton Center
of Nature 5
Weekly Recurring Meetings:
Thursday TMC schedules potlucks on this evening. Interested in having one on an issue that’s important to you or your organization? Email JRothermel@tgpcfb.org
Saturday Black Voices for Peace—Vigil to End War 1:00 pm—Penn & Highland Ave. East Liberty Citizens for Peace Vigil, 12:00—1:00 pm, Intersections of Forbes and Braddock Aves
Sunday Anti-War Committee meets every other week.
Environmental Justice Committee Meets at various times email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monthly Recurring Meetings: First and Third Wednesdays Darfur Coalition Meeting 7:00—9:00 pm—2121 Murray Avenue Second Floor—Squirrel Hill Contact: (412) 784-0256
Second Mondays Assn. of Pgh. Priests Meeting 7:00-9:00 pm Epiphany Administration Center
Second Sundays 26 Save Lives Honor the Earth Cherish Humanity END THE WARS NOW CHOOSE PEACE
28 W. PA Single Payer Coalition, 7 pm, Sixth Presbyterian Church, Forbes & Murray, Squirrel Hill
31 The 2013 Film Series: A New
Economy (Urban Roots (2011), 7:3010pm, Indiana Theater, 637 Philadelphia Street Indiana PA
Women In Black Monthly Peace Vigil 10:00—11:00 am Ginger Hill Unitarian Universalist Slippery Rock
First Thursdays Green Party Meeting 5:00—7:30 pm—Room C Carnegie Library—Squirrel Hill
Third Sundays Fight for Lifers West 10 am to Noon—Crossroads Church 325 N. Highland Ave—East Liberty
Environmental activist, author and founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, is considered “one of the most important environmentalist of the century” and will receive the Thomas Merton Award: DATE: November 4, 2013 @ 6:00 PM LOCATION: Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Southside REGISTER NOW: www.thomasmertoncenter.org
Become a Member of TMC Today! __$15: Low Income/Student Membership __$50: Individual Membership __$100: Family Membership __$75: Organization (below 25 members) __$125: Organization (above 25 members) Join at thomasmertoncenter.org/join-donate or fill out the box and mail it in. ONCE YOU BECOME A MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE THE NEW PEOPLE IN THE MAIL! TMC membership benefits include monthly mailings of The New People to your home or email account, weekly eblasts focusing on peace and justice events in Pittsburgh, and special invitations to membership activities. You will be an active member of our community! 16 - NEWPEOPLE
Name(s):________________________________ Organization (if applicable):__________________________ Address:________________________________ City: __________________ State: __________ Zip Code:_______________________________ Home Phone:____________________________ Cell Phone: _____________________________ Email:_________________________________ Be sure to choose your membership level. Mail to: Thomas Merton Center, 5129 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224. You can also join online at www.thomasmertoncenter.org.
Internship and volunteer opportunities are available at the Thomas Merton Center. Help assist Pittsburgh’s leading peace and social justice efforts by supporting the work of the center and its dedicated projects in this way. (more info on page 2). Call (412) 3613022 or email@example.com.