Published by the Thomas Merton Center Published by Occupy Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH’S PEACE & JUSTICE NEWSPAPER
VOL. 43 No. 1, January 2013
OCCUPY PITTSBURGH INSERT
VOL. 2 No. 1, January 2013
IN THIS ISSUE What Do We Do Now? Page 1 & 4
Skyrocketing Health Care Page 11 Taxes, Taxes, Taxes Page 12
Photo courtesy of Philomena O’Dea
What Price Security? Page 12
Francine Porter, at far left, stands dressed in the signature pink and black of her women’s peace group CODEPINK to coordinate with their pink-lettered anti-drone banner.
Fighting Drone Warfare at Home
Summit Against Racism, Jan. 26 by Tris Ozark
by Francine Porter On November 24th, 60 activists stood on Forbes and Murray Avenues in Squirrel Hill, chanting, and holding signs to raise public awareness about our country's use of Drone warfare in the Middle East. A young girl approached me to ask, "What's a drone?" I explained that a Drone is a pilotless aircraft used for tactile bombing in countries where the Unites States feels terrorists groups are hiding. I explained that often, innocent civilians living in these war torn areas get caught in the crossfire, and many women and children have already been killed as a result. As she walked away, I realized that we, as activists, have a lot of things to do to educate the general public about these action-at-a-distance weapons that allow warriors to kill at a minimal risk to themselves. Drone strikes are infuriating civilians living in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, creating feelings of hostility and hatred towards the United States. Imagine how Americans would feel if drones were hovering above their homes, posing a bombing threat any time of the day or night to their families.
The Black and White Reunion (BWR), an organization working to end racism, racial profiling, and police brutality, will host its 15th Summit Against Racism from 9 a.m. (registration at 8) to 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2013, at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Highland Avenue 15206. Held annually on the Saturday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the event is recognized as a day when everyone—from students to seasoned activists—can gather to start the new year by making or renewing and revitalizing commitments to ending racism in Pittsburgh. The $25 all-day admission includes continental breakfast, lunch, speakers, a commemorative program book, one-year membership in BWR, and several workshops from which to choose. Reduced admission ($10 per person) is available for students, groups of five or more, and low-income attendees. Some scholarships are available, and organizers say no one will be turned away.
(Continued on page 14)
What Do We Do Now? Open Wide The Window Of Change! by Michael Drohan The reelection of Barack Hussein Obama to the presidency Michael Drohan for four more years caused most of us to breathe a sigh of relief, because the alternative was so frightening. But, having breathed several sighs of relief, we are now overcome by a dark dose of realism. Really, is Obama’s reelection the realization of our dreams for the end of the multiple wars, covert and otherwise, that the U.S. is engaged in around the world? Does his reelection extend any hope for peace in the Middle East? Can we realistically hope for an end to the use of drones all over the world from a president who has expanded their use by several factors over the last four years? Can there be hope for addressing the frightening prospect of global warming and climate change in the coming four years? (Continued on page 4)
(Continued on page 3)
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. 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. January 2013
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THOMAS MERTON CENTER, 5129 PENN AVE. PITTSBURGH, PA 15224
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2013 HOURS of OPERATION! Thomas Merton Center Monday—Friday: 10 am to 4 pm Saturday: Noon to 4 pm
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East End Community Thrift Tuesday—Friday: 10 am to 4 pm Saturday: Noon to 4 pm
TMC Editorial Collective Robin Clarke, Rob Conroy, Ginny Cunningham, Michael Drohan, Russ Fedorka, Martha Garvey, Carol Gonzalez, John Haer, Lilly Joynes, Shahid Khan, Bette McDevitt, Charlie McCollester, Diane McMahon, Kenneth Miller, Jibran Mushtaq, Jonathan Reyes, Mike Rosenberg, Joyce Rothermel, K. Briar Somerville, Jo Tavener, Molly Rush, Marcia Snowden
TMC Staff, Volunteers and Interns Diane McMahon, Managing Director Marcia Snowden, Office Coordinator Office Volunteers: Kathy Cunningham, Mike Deckabach Monique Dietz, Mary Clare Donnelly, RSM, Jibran Mushtaq, Community Organizer / IT Director Roslyn Maholland, Finance Manager, Mig Cole, Assistant Bookkeeper Shirley Gleditsch, Manager, East End Community Thrift Store Shawna Hammond, Manager, East End Community Thrift Store Dolly Mason, Furniture Store Manager, East End Community Thrift Store Interns from Pitt Social Work Program: Michael Rosenberg, Shahid Khan, Minghua He, and Xinpei He Interns from other University of Pittsburgh Departments: Lilly Joynes, Russell Noble, Stephanie Maben, and 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 Ave. sites 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 Outreach Committee Coordinates outreach efforts to younger members of TMC
TMC COMMITTEES & PROJECTS: Anti-War Committee firstname.lastname@example.org www.pittsburghendthewar.org
Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance 412-867-9213
Association of US Catholic Priests Fr.Survil@EmbraceAllOflife.us
Pittsburgh Campaign for Democracy NOW! 412-422-5377, email@example.com www.pcdn.org
Book‘Em (Books to Prisoners Project) firstname.lastname@example.org www.thomasmertoncenter.org/bookem CodePink (Women for Peace) email@example.com, 412-389-3216 www.codepink4peace.org East End Community Thrift Shop 412-361-6010, firstname.lastname@example.org Economic Justice Committee email@example.com
Roots of Promise 724-327-2767, 412-596-0066 firstname.lastname@example.org (Network of Spiritual Progressives) email@example.com Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org; www.pittsburghdarfur.org Urban Arts Project email@example.com
Fight for Lifers West 412-361-3022 to leave a message firstname.lastname@example.org http://fightforliferswest.mysite.com
Progressive Pittsburgh Notebook Call 412-363-7472 email@example.com www.progressivepghnotebook.blip.tv
Human Rights Coalition / Fed Up (prisoner support and advocacy) 412-802-8575, firstname.lastname@example.org www.thomasmertoncenter.org/fedup
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group/ Roots of Promise 724-327-2767 email@example.com
Marcellus Shale Protest Group firstname.lastname@example.org (412) 243-4545
The Pittsburgh Totebag Project P.O. Box 99204, Pittsburgh, PA 15233 www.tote4pgh.org
marcellusprotest.org New Economy Initiative MollyRush@verizon.net
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Whose Your Brother? 412-928-3947 www.whoseyourbrother.com
General information….........…….http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org Submissions ……....http://thomasmertoncenter.org/newpeople/submit-article Events & Calendar Items…thomasmertoncenter.org/calendar/submit-event
East End Community Thrift is a Human Rights Zone! We could use more volunteers for sorting, decorating, personal shoppers, assisting people from local shelters, and helping to pick up and deliver furniture. Stop by to shop, volunteer, or donate Tuesday—Friday 10-4, Saturday from 12-4. There is something for everyone here. People can find gently used warm clothes and useful household products that make their lives better. We sustain one another at the East End Community Thrift.
(courtesy Kenneth Miller)
Come see us in January! We will make the most of 2013 together.
TMC AFFILIATES: Allegheny Defense Project, Pgh Office 412-559-1364 www.alleghenydefense.org
Pittsburgh Cuba Coalition 412-563-1519 email@example.com
Association of Pittsburgh Priests Sr. Barbara Finch 412-716-9750 B.firstname.lastname@example.org
Pittsburgh Independent Media Center email@example.com www.indypgh.org
Amnesty International firstname.lastname@example.org www.amnestypgh.org The Big Idea Bookstore 412-OUR-HEAD www.thebigideapgh.org Black Voices for Peace Gail Austin 412-606-1408 CeaseFirePA
Global Solutions Pittsburgh 412-471-7852 email@example.com www.globalsolutionspgh.org Citizens for Social Responsibility of Greater Johnstown Larry Blalock, firstname.lastname@example.org Haiti Solidarity Committee email@example.com 412-271-8414 www.thomasmertoncenter.org/hs 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition 412-369-3961 www.northhillscoalition.com Pittsburgh North People for Peace 412-367-0383 email@example.com Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee
Raging Grannies 412-963-7163, firstname.lastname@example.org
Religion and Labor Coalition 412-361-4793 email@example.com School of the Americas Watch W. PA 267-980-4878 firstname.lastname@example.org United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) 412-471-8919 www.ueunion.org Urban Bikers email@example.com Veterans for Peace Icwheaties@aol.com Voices for Animals firstname.lastname@example.org 1-877-321-4VFA Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Eva 412-963-7163 email@example.com
TMC IS A MEMBER OF Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Martha Connelly (412) 361-7872 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network 412-621-9230 email@example.com
Activists Fight a Racist Police State The Black and White Reunion: Building Bridges Against Racism (from front) Workshop topics on January 26 at East Liberty Presbyterian Church will include Voter Empowerment and Election Protection 365, Challenging White Supremacy in the Workplace, Injustices in the Criminal Justice System, Gentrification and Displacement, and more. Members of BWR who are involved in police accountability issues anticipate reporting on results of a Right to Know request for public disclosure of the police union (FOP) agreement with the City of Pittsburgh, and on police and community testimony at a public hearing held December 12 by the Citizen Police Review Board on the police “99 Units” (crews of non-uniformed officers in unmarked cars patrolling city neighborhoods). The roster of prospective workshop sponsors includes Election Protection, WWHAT’S UP! (Whites Working and Hoping to Abolish Total Supremacy Undermining Privilege!), Coalition Against Violence, Alliance for Police Accountability, and at least one faith-based organization. Details on the workshops found at summitagainstracism.blogspot.com. The opening plenary will feature remarks by BWR founder Tim Stevens and a short documentary on long-time civil rights activist Sarah B. Campbell, both honored at the recent YWCA Racial Justice Awards Dinner. Other films available through BWR include Enough IS
ENOUGH: The Death of Jonny Gammage; What Does Trouble Look Like? Nate Smith’s Revolution, and Brother Outsider, on civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. The Summit is BWR’s primary fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds supports the Jonny Gammage Memorial Scholarships, which are presented by BWR, NAACP Pittsburgh, and the Negro Educational Emergency Drive (NEED) to support Black law students with an interest in studying civil rights and social justice issues at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. The scholarships are awarded to the winners of an essay contest. This year’s essay question, written by 2012 winner Chris Carter, asks applicants to choose one case of an individual killed by law enforcement and to write documents that the victim’s survivors could use as the basis for a legal case against the killers. The cases are selected from the book Stolen Lives, a compilation of hundreds of such cases, beginning with 500 from 1990 to 1997 in just the first edition. Stolen Lives is a project of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. Scholarship applications will be available at the Summit or by contacting BWR at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-322-9275. The deadline to submit essays is April 15, 2013. Members of the Summit Against Racism's Planning Committee The scholarships are named for Jonny (left to right): Faith Stenning, Peta Harrigan Cole, Dorcas Gammage, a Black businessman and Amaker, Bob Maddock, Sarah B. Campbell, Celeste Taylor, philanthropist who died from positional and Etta Cetera . (courtesy Kenneth Miller) asphyxiation at the hands of white police
Celebrating the Life of Bayard Rustin by Kenneth Miller
rights. Beginning in February, the Bayard Rustin Deryck Tines Group will be fought for many launching a Bayard Rustin human rights issues in Lecture Series to be held on the his life time, including first Friday of every month. ending homophobia, Bayard Rustin's partner, Walter halting the spread of Nagle, is hoping to come to HIV, and mobilizing Pittsburgh and speak with local support services for creative commons human rights organizers. homeless gay black These organizing efforts will Bayard Rustin, champion of human rights men in downtown help guide our efforts as we Pittsburgh. He identified as black, gay, a build on Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther Quaker, and a communist. King’s successful Rustin, who helped organize the 1963 campaign which march on Washington, would be 100 years resulted in the Poor old if he were alive this year. Peoples March on In celebration of his life, the Bayard Washington. Rustin Festival was held in Pittsburgh by On Friday, the Deryck Tines Group in connection with January 25, at 7:00 World Aids Day. It featured an elders’ pm, there will be a discussion where civil rights veterans screening of the discussed this activist’s contributions. They film “Brother also showed the award winning film about Outsider” followed Bayard Rustin, The Brother Outsider. by a panel The event spoke to the many forms of discrimination that Bayard Rustin faced. As discussion. This event, cosponsored then, young gay transsexual people are still by the American homeless in downtown Pittsburgh, where Friends Service Committee PA, the Black they face continued forms of discrimination. More services are needed to and White Reunion and the Thomas Merton Center, will be held in conjunction with the support them. Some turn to sex work; Black and White Reunion. The event will many are victims of homophobia and hate be held at the Friends Meeting House, crimes. During the occupation of People's located at 4836 Ellsworth Ave in Oakland. Park in downtown Pittsburgh, some of these individuals shared our encampment and we were honored to learn more about them as we struggled together for human
during a “routine” traffic stop in 1995. This incident, and the “not guilty” verdicts in court cases against the police, inspired the founding of the Black and White Reunion, the Summit Against Racism and the scholarships. New this year will be the availability of childcare by certified volunteers. Children must be pre-registered either through the online Summit registration form at summitagainstracism.blogspot.com or by contacting Etta at email@example.com. BWR urges everyone to pre-register online at summitagainstracism.blogspot.com so that they can make sure to have room and food for all. Volunteers are welcome at planning committee meetings on January 7, 14, and 25, 6 p.m. at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Call 412-322-9275 for more information. Tris Ozark is a freelance writer and member of the Black and White Reunion (BWR), which hosts the annual Summit Against Racism and co-sponsors the Jonny Gammage Memorial Scholarships. Summit Planning Committee and BWR members Celeste Taylor, Kenneth Miller, Bob Maddock, Craig Stevens, and Etta Cetera also contributed to this article.
Free a Prisoner! Thank you to everyone who is giving monthly donations to the Thomas Merton Center Book 'Em Project—which sends donated books to prisoners! Book’em needs $500 a month, every month, to send packages of three books to prisoners living in Pennsylvania prisons. Volunteers meet the requests of 150 prisoners monthly. Book’em now receives about $250 a month from monthly pledges! They are still hoping to raise the additional monthly $250 to cover all project costs! Just 50 people subscribing at $5 a month would provide that needed funding and would be used only for mailing books. All contributions are tax-deductible and can be made through PayPal or a credit card. http://thomasmertoncenter.org/join-donate/
Kenneth Miller is a member of The New People editorial collective. January 2013
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Activists Envision Peace What Do We Do Now? (from front page) This list could be expanded to fill several pages and the answer to all of the questions is NO. We have little or nothing to look forward to or hope for from a second-term Obama presidency — just look at the record. On further reflection, however, we would probably realize that we are asking the wrong questions. In the history of the United States, as indeed in the history of all other countries, advances in peace and social justice came not from Congresses or Presidents or Kings. Think of the abolition of slavery and apartheid; think of suffrage for women and African Americans, of civil rights and the eighthour work day. In all these cases governments finally acknowledged rights only after much social pressure and movements that had made continuing to prevent them untenable. The events in the Middle East over the last two years confirm this hypothesis. Hosni Mubarak in Egypt fell from power only from the courage and persistence of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in Tahrir Square. Likewise in Tunisia, the dictator Bin Ali was overthrown by power from the streets. We cannot expect it to be otherwise in the United States in regard to global warming action, the abolition of nuclear weapons, outlawing drones, police brutality, and other forms of obscene economic inequality. The story is often told of the meeting of the great union organizer A. Philip Randolph and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. When Randolph had laid out his demands for worker and racial justice, the President reportedly told him he agreed with his demands, but that Randolph had to go and make him do the things
Thursday Afternoon July 2007
—Emily DeFerrari On the occasion of encountering a smoldering car, and the surrounding scene on Murray Ave., in front of the Giant Eagle. The gasoline made shimmering rainbows that ran down the groove where the sidewalk meets the street. The burnt hood and the smoldering engine were being liberally doused by the kind firemen who brought the pretty red truck. The bystanders seemed pleased, festive actually, perhaps because they live in such a place where cars burn, but don’t explode. I, however, was not convinced, wondering how far such a place can ever be from the combustibility of inattention to the wars we wage and dependency upon disregard of rainbows (we make) from gasoline, dark skin, blood, bone and feces. Emily DeFerrari is a midwife and a Pittsburgher. 4 - NEWPEOPLE
he wanted realized. Whether apocryphal or not, the story carries a great message of history and wisdom which is germane to the present discussion. The reelection of Obama for progressive people at most opens a window of possibility and opportunity, nothing more. It is for us to open wide this window to substantial social change. To me, this is the meaning and hope of the Obama reelection. If we acknowledge the truth of what I have put forth, namely that the onus is on us, we have only made the first step in advancing toward a decent, humane and just society. We have to face the fact that we are weak and need a strong injection of courage, commitment and time. Many of our projects and solidarity groups are anemic. This is our challenge in the next four years and beyond. Being specific, in the Merton Center we have to muster all our forces to build existing movements and to foster new movements which will put the heat on the Obama administration. While there is much which militates against our projects, we have many strengths and aids. For instance, we all have access to Democracy Now at CMU radio station FM 88.3 and on PCTV on a daily basis to inform us about what is being done elsewhere so that we might learn and do likewise. We have the new social media to help us organize and coordinate with other groups. As US citizens we have a special responsibility to use to the maximum this window of opportunity offered to us. Noam Chomsky and others have often pointed out that activists like to indulge in bemoaning the lack of human rights and justice in China, Syria and many other parts
of the world. However, we have little control over those parts of the world. Where we have some control, albeit small, is in the US as citizens. But more than that, the US exerts an inordinate power in the world over all sorts of crucial problems such as global warming, nuclear weapons, justice for Palestinians, peace in the Middle East and the list goes on. In addition, decisions made by the US are made in our name whether or not we like these decisions. In many cases we are abhorred by these decisions, in fact. In conclusion, nothing is going to be handed to us on a plate by Father Christmas Obama and we should not delude ourselves with expectations. We are, however, handed the opportunity to work to achieve substantive social change together by exploiting to the maximum the openings that are offered.
Whether we realize it or not, we are an essential potential force in possibly changing US establishment policies. As social activists, we bear a great responsibility to ourselves and the world. Michael Drohan Michael Drohan is a member of the board of the Thomas Merton Center and of the Center’s editorial collective.
Re-energizing the Local Peace and Justice Movement If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas. -George Bernard Shaw by Edith Bell and Scilla Wahrhaftig A gathering of activists (and would-be activists) is scheduled for Saturday, February 2, to reconstruct our peace and justice movements. Please join with us at the Friends Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Ave in Oakland at 2:30 pm to be a part of this coalition-building effort designed to build the local peace and justice movement. While many groups are working for peace and are opposing the military mindset of our society, many of us have been pushing our little part of it with some success but little notice by the general public or the media. Several of us, involved with the American Friends Service Committee PA, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Code Pink, Peace Action, and TMC Anti-War Committee, know that
there are many more groups and individuals who contribute in their own way to the movement or would like to bring about a more peaceful world in a coalition building effort. We believe that, if we pool our energy, resources and ideas, we can become a much more powerful force and have more impact on events developing in Washington and in the world around us. Since President Obama’s election to a second term, he himself has said that he needs to hear from us, and so does the rest of our government. We need to be looking at different strategies and ways of working and doing some creative new thinking. It may be useful for you to come to the meeting ready to present some creative ideas and to listen to the ideas of others. We are inviting people from all around the Pittsburgh area (and beyond) who are interested or working on organizing around peace and/or anti-war and militarization issues, including students and faculty who are teaching peace and justice classes in our universities. Join us and invite anyone you think should be there. For more information call Scilla at 412315-7423 or Edith 412-661-7149. Edith Bell is the Coordinator for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in Pittsburgh. Scilla Wahrhaftig is the Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee in Pittsburgh.
Faith and Activism Plowshares Members Charged with Sabotage Here is their response to the charges: We remain convinced that making and Our consciences compelled us to act at Y-12 refurbishing nuclear weapons at Y-12 is both Oak Ridge nuclear facility because we knew that illegal under U.S. and international law and is the nuclear weapons of mass destruction illegally immoral. Ultimately we are required to follow the First posted at: produced there threaten the well-being of our law of love and our consciences. WWW.TRANSFORMNOWPLOWSHARES. entire planet. The government and Babcock and Our present activities include daily community WORDPRESS.COM Wilcox [a contractor that manages the Y-12 prayer, study of the Nuremberg trials, and public nuclear weapons plant] know these weapons can education about the existence of illegal nuclear A new charge of sabotage, carrying up to 20 only be used to inflict massive death and injury weapons of mass destruction. years in prison, has been leveled against the on people and on our planet. Transform Now Plowshares defendants. In the The Government threatened to charge us with We look forward to presenting evidence to the new indictment, Greg Boertje-Obed, Sister the more serious crime of sabotage if we did not jury of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but Megan Rice, and Michael Walli face two charges plead guilty. We chose to exercise our the truth, about what goes on at Y-12. from the original indictment, but the trespass charge has been replaced by the sabotage charge constitutional right to a jury trial and refused to bow down to their threats. So the government has This article was submitted by Editorial listed as Count I below: Count I – Damage to national security defense added serious new charges which expose us to an Collective member Molly Rush. The story appeared earlier on the Transform Now materials, with a fine and or imprisonment up to additional twenty years in prison for our peacemaking actions. Plowshares website. 20 years under 18 USC 2155. The prosecution has also added 18 USC 2152 which is harm to, among other things, torpedoes from submarines. That claim carries an additional imprisonment of up to five years. Count II – Damage to a structure within Y-12, carrying up to 5 or 10 years in prison. Count III – Damage in excess of $1000 – up to 10 years in prison. Greg, Michael, and Sister Megan’s action peaceably pointed out the unlawful production and preparation of nuclear weapons at Y-12. The new charges have not deterred them in their continued call for transformation and common nuclear disarmament. Source: Oakridgetoday.com
Three Transform Now Plowshares Members Charged with Sabotage
From left to right the three Plowshares members are Michael R. Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed.
Feminine God Talk by Joyce Rothermel
Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Yale University. She is the On the first Sunday of Lent, Executive Editor of the Journal February 17, 2013, the of Interreligious Dialogue and Association of Pittsburgh has a forthcoming book, Priests (APP) is holding a mini Interreligious Thought & -conference on feminist Feminist Theology. The minitheology, inviting a conference will begin at 1:30 PM and include conversion of thinking. two presentations concluding at 4:30 PM. All are It will be held at the Epiphany Administration welcome. Suggested donation is $20 and free to Center, 164 Washington Place, next to the Consol students and people who have low incomes. Energy Center. Presenting at the conference will Register by mail (send to APP, PO Box 2106, be Aimee Light, Assistant Professor of Theology Pgh. PA 15230), email assocpghpriests@ at Duquesne University. Aimee Light earned her yahoo.com (pay at door), or pay at the door. MA from the University of Notre Dame, and her
Joyce Rothermel is Co-chair of the Church Renewal Committee of the Association of Pittsburgh Priests. “To satisfy the demands of justice and equity, strenuous efforts must be made, without disregarding the rights of persons or the natural qualities of each country, to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing….” --Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Vatican Council II Association of Pittsburgh Priests
Are you inspired by the peace activism of Catholic Workers like us? Then you’ll love Thomas Merton discussion group! As a follow-up to the fall 2011 retreat with Jim Forest on Dorothy Day, and as part of the 40th Anniversary year celebration, a "Merton Study Group" formed in the spring of 2012. Meeting the second Wednesday evening of the month for contemplative conversation, we read together two books: Living with Wisdom- A Life of Thomas Merton by Jim Forest and Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton. In concert with the unfolding "Pittsburgh Catholic Worker Network," we've decided to continue this graced journey in 2013! We'll be reading Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own - An American Pilgrimage as we deepen this exploration into the lives & work of Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, as well as Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy. ALL are WELCOME to participate! We'll meet again January 9 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at Calvary Episcopal Church, as we also explore possibilities for future gatherings at various sites throughout the Pittsburgh area where efforts in the Catholic Worker movement are unfolding. Submitted by Carol Gonzalez—TMC Board Member and leader of the local Merton Study Group.
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Activism and China A Divine Combat
Is S.T.E.M. Bill Auspicious for the U.S.?
My Debut of Activism for China’s Transformation Part I of 3
by Jianyu Hou
Recently the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Immigration) Bill H.R. 6429 was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is now awaiting the agreement of the Senate. The bill would allow additional visas for foreign nationals who earn advanced degrees in science, engineering, technology and mathematics. This news has aroused discussion among Chinese nationals in the U.S. because the bill eases the wait for a green card for high-skilled workers (mainly benefiting Chinese and Indians), who constitute the majority of the labor force in the scientific industry. This bill is a stimulus for intellectual competition between U.S. and China in the post-elections era. But is it enough for Chinese to stay in America? Why do young high-skilled Chinese come to America? A passion for new culture, a competitive environment, high salary, low home prices, good natural surroundings, and better education for children, but is that enough? As China becomes the world's second-largest economy, these advantages are less and less appealing. Some state-owned enterprises in China provide higher salaries than the U.S. for excellent minds graduating from the best colleges. Many students give up full scholarships from U.S colleges and choose positions as government officials or state-owned enterprise managers in China as their better alternative. Even though many Chinese students travel to the U.S. with the hope of accessing these advantages, many of them achieve success in their careers and are living in large houses, but they are not happy about their family life. The majority of potential beneficiaries of STEM legislation from China are single males with scientific backgrounds. Due to their shy personalities, their ethnic origins and heavy work schedules in the lab, more than half of them have lost the best time (in the Chinese ethical value) in their lives to find a spouse. Ph.D. graduates receive their degrees around the age of 28 if they applied for doctoral programs directly after their undergraduate program. But for those from China with master’s degrees, the average age for receiving a Ph.D. is 32. Compared with those who stay in China, and are enjoying family life, these single male Ph.D.s have more difficulties. They must take short breaks from their busy work life to find spouses in China. Often they meet only once or twice face-to-face, beginning their relationships through online video chats. They also face the international challenge of time differences. Additionally, unlike previous generations, the “one-child” policy generation faces the dilemma of returning to China for the sake of their lonely old parents, or they must bring them to the U.S. Language barriers and cultural differences are hard for elderly parents to adapt to, so longdistance separations often continue. For the Chinese, family holds a high value in our ethical belief systems. Thus, the STEM Bill does not provide enough for Chinese high-tech Ph.D.s to stay in the U.S. The U.S. government should consider creating a more inviting bill to be successful in attracting the best and the brightest from China.
“Here rests a man awaiting the promised eternal life. To his best on earth, he loved his family; he voiced for the voiceless; he challenged the most stubborn dictatorship. He just lived what he is created to be, nothing more.” -- My epitaph, the mission to guide the rest of my life. Born this way: So sorry, China. I am a Catholic, a human rights activist, and an NGO (non-government organization) practitioner–each individually sufficient to cause a headache to the regime. So sorry, China. I was born as an only son in the unfortunate year of 1983, the year China’s one-child policy began to take strict effect. Fairly unique among Chinese, we are a family of six generations of Catholics. My father is a longtime communist and a Catholic. For him, the former is just a means to make a living; the latter is what life means. (Ridiculously, many Chinese today still mix political belief with a religious one by arguing “How can I believe in Jesus Christ while I believe in Communism?”) While my family has not undergone lifeand-death oppression during the Cultural Revolution, my parents were forced to follow Mao’s call to rural regions as the socalled “educated youth.” Like their ten million-plus counterparts, they were deprived of freedom to choose their own future and of the opportunity to attain a degree in higher education. Currently, they live a middle-class life in peace, compassion and righteousness– the foundation of my activism, which is, sadly, unsupported by them. Why unsupported? Like most ordinary Chinese, they doubt the intended change an individual can bring about given the stubborn state machine. They are, moreover, loving parents who do not wish for their children to live under ongoing intimidation as a result of their outspokenness. Who says organized student protests have been extinct in China since the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre? A year after that, Washington state governor Gary Locke
The second section of this three part story will appear in the February issue of The New People.
Jianyu Hou is a former TMC intern. Hou is now a religious affairs policy analyst in a City Administration Department for Religious Affairs in China.
Nima now lives in the United States and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. map courtesy enchantedlearning.com
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(currently the U.S. Ambassador to China) visited my 2140-year old high school in Chengdu. Students were mobilized to stage public protests against the casualties caused by a U.S. B-2 mistakenly bombing the Chinese embassy in the 1989 Kosovo War. Incited by a little nationalism, I walked with the group and shouted like a puppet, wondering whether these types of street protests are only allowed for anti-America or anti-Japan purposes. (Thank Japan’s recent island dispute for giving the Chinese, though once again manipulated, another opportunity to exercise human rights and hit the streets in protest.) Then during my college years, I insisted on going to the U.S. Consulate in my city to commemorate the first anniversary of 9/11 and I put an American flag bumper-sticker on my car, all under pressure from my surroundings. Their resistance made me more resistant. After getting a job in Beijing, I spent six months touring Europe and Asia on business trips. My curiosity drove me to join a teacher demonstration in Paris, to listen to Falun gong victims in Hong Kong, and to talk to Thai soldiers during the overnight military coup of Bangkok in 2006. Returning to my country, for the first time, I spent the Christmas with an underground, rural Catholic community. While average villages across the nation have slogans such as “Glory to the Communist Party,” this one has “Glory to God” hanging in the streets. How brave! Alleluia! Oh, one more thing: On the last day of 2006, I was praying with the Pope in the Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican and brainstorming a way to attract his attention. When he stopped by the aisle, I stood on the chair and shouted “China, China!” The Pope heard it! He approached me and we shook hands (causing the surrounding Sisters to turn to me asking for handshakes as a blessing). So sorry, China. I used your name to win your enemy. Right before applying for a visa to the U.S. in 2009, I had the exciting experience of confronting corrupt police/public officials in a negotiation meeting in defense of our long-infringed private property rights. “Have your butt seated on the right place (the people’s side)! Even rabbits (obedient victims) can bite you when angered!” I jumped from my chair and pointed my finger at them, saying that they should speak for law-obeying people, not hooligans. On several occasions, I received midnight phone calls about their excavators trying to secretly demolish our private houses. I rushed there and stood in front of giant machines, asking for legal documents. My father thus refused to let me continue to engage in this ten-year rights defense effort, in fear that they could retaliate against me by blocking my plans to go to the U.S. (Who knows what the American diplomats would do when facing the regime’s pressure and/or lure? No offense, just crossed my fingers.)
Activism and the Middle East An Olive Tree in Ma’Aleh Adumin: Disappearing Palestine minutes to come out with all their personal possessions. Then they leveled it with their bulldozer. We had lunch with the family in a tent overlooking the remains of their once beautiful home. Every piece of tile, every stone, every piece of furniture was broken and destroyed—demolished. Salim was still in shock and didn't understand how they could be treated so inhumanely. Arabiya, calm and gracious, said, "We are the weak side, they are the strong side, but it doesn't mean we have to kill justice. We are looking to have a state, a passport, justice like everyone else in the world.” Salim, who has been beaten Photo credit Ken Boas: graffiti in Palestine and jailed by Israeli soldiers, said, without anger but still by Ken Boas have built up over so many years? resistant, "I know what they want, And I realized that I should be they want an empty land, but we are For years now, I have been a asking myself this same question. not going to give it to them." critical voice against the Israeli They would each say, in different After the third demolition, six of occupation of Palestine, and often ways, that life has to go on. We their kids came home from school ; vilified for it: called a self-hating have to survive. We won't let them seeing their house in rubble they Jew, an anti-Semite, a traitor. But I humiliate us or poison us with their were stunned. But the youngest, had never been to Israel/Palestine, fears and violence. That night, I their six-year-old son Mohamed, and I needed to go there. I needed to began to hear them. was nowhere to be found. After six stop my angry arguing and start On our trip to Bethlehem hours of searching, they found him listening and seeing for myself. The University earlier in the week. I met asleep between two rocks in the twelve-day ICAHD (Israeli a young woman, Huda, a student, valley. Eight years later, Mohamed Committee Against House who hoped to become a teacher. is still not normal. He is afraid of Demolitions) Educational Tour Like so many of her fellow students everything, doesn’t want to leave gave me the perfect opportunity. and teachers, she had never been in the house, but is afraid to stay there, My trip turned out to be a Jerusalem, 15 minutes away. She can’t concentrate in school, transformative experience for me. looked at me and quietly said, “I trembling whenever he sees a The stories and the spirit of the refuse to go to the Israeli authorities soldier, he is very troubled. Arabiya Palestinian people made a deeper to get a permit to travel to said Mohamed’s condition is worse impression on me than the obvious Jerusalem. I won't put this basic than all the demolitions combined. facts on the ground that we right in the hands of the Israelis. I Salim mourns the damage caused confronted. They turned my won't give them that kind of power to the land by the building and counterproductive anger into over my life.” She said she would sustaining of Israeli settlements in something else, something I rather never see Jerusalem than get East Jerusalem and the West Bank. absorbed from the Palestinian on her knees to them and beg for a “They have poured enormous people I met as if it was a precious permit to go to her own holy capital amounts of concrete to build entire gift: a quiet sense of patience and city. cities in hills that had remained dignity; a calmness and Huda was so beautiful in that untouched for centuries.” He looked determination that this land was moment: calm, dignified, and around his home to the hills in the theirs and that they would not be centered. She said, “We live in the east, and said, “beautiful wadis, driven from it. moment. The Occupation is always springs, cliffs, and ancient ruins Halfway thru the trip, Illan with us, but we don’t think about it were destroyed by those who claim Pappe, the Israeli historian and all the time. I will never leave to love the land more than we do.” author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine; it’s my home and leaving His eloquence was as real as the the Palestinian People, was in East it makes it easier for Israel. When I huge and obscene Settlement Jerusalem debating the EU get up in the morning, I feel the looming in the distance, alien representative in Israel on the sunshine, and think about peace and structures lording over this ancient question of Palestine and the Nobel waking up with my family, and that land. Peace Prize awarded to the EU. At sustains me. I will keep on hoping The spirit of Salim and Arabiya the question session, I proceeded to for peace and freedom, and that is is inspiring and contagious. And it vent my frustrations about Israel on what keeps me going.” is the one thing that their relentless to this hapless diplomat. I was She had transformed her rage policies of removal and theft cannot angry about what we had been and frustration into something else-- remove or steal. witness to. I said no one was something clear and patient and Later in the week we visited two listening to the empty rhetoric of the determined--something that was more Palestinian families; the home EU. The audience of mainly young powerful and willing to wait, of Atta Jabar outside of Hebron, and Israelis and East Jerusalem something that could not be the home of Hashem Al Azzeh in H Palestinians loved my passion and defeated. -2, in the center of Hebron but applauded me. But that night, in The next day, in East Jerusalem, totally controlled by the Israelis. bed, I realized no one was really we drove through poverty stricken Atta Jabar’s home, surrounded by listening to me either. My angry neighborhoods with kids playing in flowering trees and plants, has been complaint had been heard all too the dirt, to Anata, which sits beside attacked and demolished many many times, and it and I were easily the twenty-five foot high Separation times since 1976. He talked about dismissed by all concerned except Wall, and the hillside property of the pain in his heart—“like a knife those who basically already agreed Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, and stabbing him over and over for 35 with me. their 7 kids. Their home, on this years.” It was at that point, unable to same spot, has been demolished six Like Salim, he doesn’t sleep, that I started to think about times by Israeli soldiers over the understand how Israel can treat him the Palestinians I had been meeting last twenty years. With the help of and his people “worse than and spending time with, and I felt ICAHD they kept rebuilding, animals.” The inhumanity of it all is myself begin to turn away from the refusing to move from their land. beyond him. The settlers come and anger inside me that had futilely Three days before we arrived, the harass him, roll stones down the hill controlled my narrative for so long. house was once again been turned into his house at all hours of the I had been asking them how they into rubble by the Israeli Defense night, come to their home and were able to live under such Forces (IDF). They arrived at three threaten his family and relentless repression. How could in the morning, surrounded the burn his trees. they live with the anger that must home and gave the family ten Atta said, “I was
literally born in the field below my home. My mother was working in the field and gave birth to me. I sucked the soil like it was my mother’s milk. This land (where his family has lived for nine generations) is my soul.” He pointed to his heart. “How can the Jews, who suffered in the Holocaust, commit what is a holocaust against my people?” It was very hard to hear this question. I had no answer. I could only take him aside and apologize for what was happening to him in the name of a Jewish State. I told him I was Jewish, and that I supported him and his people completely. He put his arm around me and told me I was his brother. We went on to Hebron, the largest and most conflicted Palestinian city in the West Bank. Six hundred religious settlers living throughout the middle of the old city are defended by 2000 IDF, stationed in their military garrisons and on rooftops of Palestinian homes. Among other restrictions, the IDF has closed one of the busiest streets in the old city, Shuhada Street, to Palestinians. All entrances to their homes that front the street have been welded shut. This once thriving street is now like a ghost town, and settler violence is endemic. Hashem Al Azzeh’s home is situated directly under a settlement in Hebron. He has been harassed for ten years by settlers. His front entrance is blocked, so he and his family must climb halfway up a steep, rocky hillside to get home. He wife suffered two miscarriages due to settler beatings. She had to be carried down the hillside to get to a taxi when she was in labor with her adorable little four-year-old son. Their daughter’s arms were broken when she was pushed down the hill. His house was stoned repeatedly, his children threatened, his olive and apple trees poisoned, yet they are a beautiful, steadfast family. Hashem is as active as he safely can be, filming settler violence, pleading to every agency he can find -- finally receiving permission by the Israeli Supreme Court to harvest his own olive grove, which settlers think belongs to them because they are Jewish. His wife makes stunningly beautiful chalk paintings which she sells. The spark in her eyes stayed with me for days. Yet she admits to a pain at her core that will not go away. It has been there for forty years.
The second half of this article will appear in the February 2013 issue of the New People. Ken Boas: faculty of English, University of Pittsburgh; former president of the board of the Thomas Merton Center.
Logo Source: brandsoftheworld.com
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Alternative Business John Restakis’ Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital book review by Karen Bernard It’s been four years since, during the close of the Bush II era, the free market ethos held so dear by that administration failed so spectacularly. In October 2008, Congress approved the bailout plan to halt a financial meltdown, but many legislators opposed this government intervention in the market as “a slippery slope to socialism.” In their minds, the only options were a free market system on the one hand, and “socialism” on the other. So, as he announced the partial nationalization of America’s largest banks, President Bush said that this was only a temporary action. “These measures,” he assured us, “are not intended to take over the free market, but to preserve it.” American taxpayers, it seemed, were to bear the cost of the bank bailout, but must not expect to profit from it. In his 2010 book, Humanizing the Economy: Cooperatives in the Age of Capital, John Restakis points out that “The free market system, such as it is, has been able to survive only because the state has been there to support it—and to salvage it.” He draws attention to the crisis we face today—the way corporate capitalism is failing to meet the most basic needs of billions of people around the world. Beyond salvaging the status quo, then, what alternatives can we imagine to this system now in such chaos? Restakis shows that there is a middle path between laissez faire economics and dreaded “socialism,” where the market can be made responsive to human needs without state control. Co-operatives, in fact, have a long and rich history and are thriving in many parts of the world today. This book is well written, the history is fascinating, and the examples extremely hopeful. The author is lucid and concise in outlining the ideology underlying “the grand delusion” we’re living. He explains how “the rise of the free market myth that has so enthralled politicians, policy makers, academics and a great swath of the public in Western democracies can be
traced to the early 18th century and the onset of the Industrial Revolution.” Out of this atmosphere came economic theory “deeply influenced by the mechanistic model of the universe…a philosophy in which the individual came to be regarded as an isolated social atom.” In this story, the human is an egotistical, selfish, competitive individual. And society is analogous to a machine, subject to the laws of an abstract market. Here, the elements of an organic life—shared land, meaningful labor, and communityderived identity—are deprived of their socially embedded meaning and turned instead into commodities. As economist Karl Polyani put it, the overarching dynamic of Western history since the rise of the machine age has been opposition: subjection of society to the mechanism of the market, and society’s corresponding defense against the damages. Restakis, though, tells about humanizing, not mechanizing efforts. The book presents a range of alternatives to corporate capitalism, such as Emilia Romagna’s widespread co-operative economy in Northern Italy, Argentina’s recovered factory movement, Japan’s consumer health co-operatives, and Sri Lanka’s small farmer movement for fair trade. Co-operatives, in all these cases, are structures that elevate the needs of society over the “self-regulating” market. Does this kind of socialism involve state control? No. Co-operatives are more democratic than current capitalist structures will ever be. Although somewhere along the line, “free markets” have been identified as the source of free and democratic societies, anyone with a passing knowledge of history knows that democracy began centuries before capitalism. And since the late 1700s, state control has been used, sometimes brutally, to enforce laissez faire for the propertied class—hardly what we could honestly call democracy. In any society, Restakis says, “Authoritarian power in economics trumps democratic power in politics.” Therefore, he concludes, without a democratic economy, democracy can not survive. Restakis is clear that what ultimately conditions
how people live is the degree to which we can exercise control over our lives. “Economics is central to this,” he says. What is often less clear is how those who seek change can move beyond protest to a vision of what else is possible. But co-operative alternatives are happening: With more than 800 million members in 85 countries the co-operative movement is by far the most durable and most powerful grassroots movement in the world. Co-operatives employ more people in democratically run enterprises than all the world’s multinational companies combined. Although the forms co-ops take and the uses to which they are put display an astounding variety, their essential structure remains what it was when they were first organized in the mid-1800s—enterprises that are collectively owned and democratically controlled by their members for their mutual benefit. As the global economic crisis continues to take its toll, cooperatives continue to provide livelihoods and essential services in the very places where established multinationals are shedding workers and shuttering plants. In its own quiet way, the cooperative vision continues to thrive and hold the keys to the emergence of an economic model that is capable of remaking and humanizing the current capitalist system. If you’re interested in learning about co-operatives in a more social way, check out A Discussion Course on Cooperatives, a manual for community selfdirected education published by, and available at, our very own East End Food Co-op. Topics include: history and origins; principles, values and philosophy; cooperative models; cooperative responses to globalization; and legal aspects, among others. Cost is $10. Karen Bernard is the book buyer at the East End Food Co-op and a member of the Environmental Justice Committee of the Thomas Merton Center.
Braddock Carnegie Library Organizing a Neighborhood Print Shop Next for BYP and NPS is a Teen Open Studio on by Jonathan Reyes Thursday’s where Autumn and the rest of her coLearning how something is done has its workers will have the opportunity to teach their benefits; however, learning how to do it peers how to use the print shop themselves! “That’s yourself is what puts a new notch in your what we want to see more of in the Print Shop,” says achievement belt! The staff members at the Ruthie Stringer, a print shop teacher. “User-based Neighborhood Print Shop (NPS) are not a programs such as Teen Open Studio give the public team ready to take all your money, ideas, more opportunity to experience the wonders of the and creativity and put them into perspective shop, and all it requires are ideas and dedication.” FOR you, but they would much rather teach The history behind The Neighborhood Print Shop you how to do it yourself. $5 can buy you is a humbling and coincidental one. Collaboration unlimited possibilities, because that’s how between Transformazium, Carnegie Braddock much a lesson on how to use all of the state Library and Dipcraft Manufacturing began when of the art material at NPS costs. Although Mike Tobias, owner of Dipcraft, did not want to nothing is required for you to learn this cool (photo courtesy Leslie Stem) stuff you will be “better qualified” to learn The Pittsburgh organization New Voices prints window placards for their waste the resources of the print equipment left over 1 Billion Rising campaign in the Neighborhood Print Shop in Braddock. from his balloon printing industry. Luckily for him the new game-changing techniques if you bring an idea and the material you want to Transformazium was hard at work renovating a center of my torso, I would have paid $2.50 per shirt. see it printed on. Not bad right? But being that I only have to make the building for an active arts center. The ambitious There are general materials available, but if you’d design once and reprint it on however many shirts I ladies Leslie Stem, Dana Bishop-Root, Ruthie rather see your ideas on a poster or a T-shirt, bring it want, that per price can quickly become 5 cents per Stringer, and Heather White quickly realized that the in and Leslie Stem, the shop manager, or any other process was too long, especially when there was a shirt! teacher will be happy to see your intentions through. ceramic studio that could easily become a print shop Autumn Wilson, a 16-year-old member of the “NPS does have limited space and can hold 4-5 ideas media team for the Braddock Youth Project (BYP), in no time on the top floor of Carnegie Braddock (people, small groups) at a time, so it’s best to call in does plenty of work in the NPS. In charge of the Library! After an agreement with Mr. Tobias that the ahead and make an appointment, but it is open to the visual layout of the “what’s up doc” articles, she material can be used by the public, a contract was public any given Saturday” states Ms. Stem. The shop claims, “No, I’m not artistic at all. It’s not about what made with the Library and Transformazium, and for boasts the use of an exposer unit, a “wash-out” area, a you can do, it’s about the idea, and to see those ideas two years the team voluntarily ran the studio. “Now, design computer, and printer, as well as few other thanks to arts funding, there are a couple positions on a t-shirt makes me very proud of my pieces of equipment that the team would love to see that ensure that more programs can be and are accomplishments.” Whether her shirt spreads the used. offered through the Neighborhood Print Shop,” says message to “Build it [Braddock] back up” or just After you have learned how to use the equipment, throws a few words at you that describe who she is, Leslie Stem. Find out more about Transformazium it’s your shop! There are very low costs for material Autumn deserves every bit of her pride in her at www.transformazium.org. usage, and even though it starts off insanely cheap it work. Autumn describes the positive impact the gets cheaper by the dozen. With the idea that I Braddock Youth Project and The Neighborhood Print Jonathon Reyes is a member of the New People proposed, bringing in two t-shirts, using practically Shop have had on her: “It’s a real stress reliever up editorial collective and facilitator of a new one color in slight shade variations, the size of the there.” discussion group at the Braddock Library. 8 - NEWPEOPLE
Labor Activism Union could help us stop sweatshops/won’t stop sweatshops/ might someday or could stop sweatshops. When we start talking about sweatshop worker pay rates fans know that the businesses of sports could afford to pay better. Charlie Kernighan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights, even wrote an article about how the Players Union and the players retirements are connected to apparel sales and the licensing agreements. He called sweatshops the players’ strike fund. If anyone needed Marvin Miller’s perspective, the anti-sweatshop movement did. In Pittsburgh the antisweatshop movement spends a lot of energy educating people about how the very wealthy sports teams, who get stadiums paid for by the taxpayers, are using very low paid sweatshop workers to build up the profits of the teams. So Kenneth Miller looked Marvin Miller up and picked up the phone. Marvin Miller immediately wanted to be helpful. He was interested in sweatshop workers. He was interested in discussing Human Rights and sports. Marvin Miller talked about the baseballs being made in Haiti and also reported that he had spent time discussing that National Labor Committee report with some of the players. Marvin Miller knew that there was a long way to go before the labor problems of the system were all being addressed. He made some giant steps in a better direction. Kenneth Miller adds: As an economist, Marvin Miller understood that too many free agents could actually drive down player salaries. He agreed to limit free agency to players with more than six years of service, knowing that restricting the supply of labor would drive up salaries as owners bid for an annual, finite pool of free agents. This strategy is not applicable in any way to organizing sweatshop workers, there being an indefinite supply of impoverished teenage women looking for jobs all over the globe.
Baseball and Sweatshops? Marvin Miller’s Contributions to Labor Activism by Tom Keough Mining is the most dangerous job in the world. Mickey Mantle at the height of his career could not support himself and his family on what the extremely wealthy New York Yankees paid him. Many baseball books about Mantle show him as a miner working in that dangerous job with his dad and uncles. Mantle would have to go down into the mines a day or two after the season or world series ended. I'm no psychologist, but I always thought that the economics of the Yankees is what probably pushed Mantle to drink too much. He could see how much money the team made and see how little they paid him. Marvin Miller, who died in November, is a hero. In a business where people thought it would be impossible to have a union, he organized. The union he organized got the players a bigger piece of the pie in a business where each team had a pie worth hundreds of millions in profits every year. When the Yankees had a total of $47 million in payroll and expenses each year that team was paid $47 million from just one year of one of their TV contracts, but the Yankees had three TV contracts that same year. A second contract paid more than $45 million, and the third paid a secret amount. Meanwhile hundreds of millions of dollars are made from selling tickets, souvenirs, shirts, hats, and highpriced ads in the yearbooks, score cards and on the stadium walls. I had some great long talks with Marvin Miller. So did other wobblies. Kenneth Miller from the Pittsburgh IWW, talked to Marvin Miller about sweatshops and Major League Baseball. Baseball fans at PNC Park talking about sweatshops shared their opinions about how the Players Association/the Players
Tom Keough is an artist who lives in New York City with his wife and son. He authored a chapter in “The Wobblies! A Graphic Novel”, and illustrated Solidarity Unionism at Starbucks.
Pittsburgh I.W.W. Flying Grievance Committee
by Robin Clarke The Pittsburgh General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (PGH IWW) has launched a Flying Grievance Committee designed to connect with workers who have been denied wages, suffered harassment, been given mandatory unpaid overtime, and faced other forms of injustice by employers. These problems may seem all but impossible to address without risking one’s job. The Flying Grievance Committee offers a group support network for workers to use direct action to address their own grievances. For example, should a boss be denying someone wages, one could begin by presenting management with a letter outlining the grievance and requesting payment in full by a specific date. One hopes that in that first attempt, the employer feels compelled to comply. If not, or if the date specified in the letter passes without resolution of the problem, incrementally escalating tactics are used to bring the issue to crisis. For example, the group might follow up with an informational picket about how this establishment engages in wage theft, and that potential employees should be warned of the dangers of working there. Often such measures bring full resolution of the grievance. If not, then a new tactic would be in order, like a boycott. Direct Action is central to the IWW’s underlying philosophy of Solidarity Unionism: relying on workers to organize on their own behalf and to address grievances and negotiate the conditions of their employment on their own behalf, using the power of solidarity as primary leverage. Confronting management with one’s desire for an equitable workplace is protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act, but more than that, it is our human right. Robin Clarke is a member of the editorial collective, teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, and organizes around labor issues.
stronghold and look what happened there. Pittsburgh will only be a union town if we make it one. Union and Non-union Workers Join Together by John Lepley Under Fight Back Pittsburgh members of Every now and then you might catch a the Local 3657 organizing committee will work glimpse of a bumper sticker with the simple with non-union workers, students, the declaration, “The Labor Movement: The Folks unemployed and retirees to organize a PittsburghWho Brought You the Weekend.” As more people based chapter of the USW’s Associate Members become poverty statistics and work in low-paying, Program (AMP). The USW created the AMP to insecure jobs, though, we should pause to ask if build a space for people who are interested in the that “movement” is even moving. Consider, for USW but are not employed at a facility under a example, that just this past week the Michigan USW contract. This includes high school and legislature passed so-called right-to-work college students, educators, retired workers and legislation in the birthplace of the UAW. A non-union workers who are interested in forming bumper sticker that reads “Corporate America: a union at their workplace. Taxi drivers in The Folks Who Took Away the Weekend” would Boston, Massachusetts, for instance, are legally be a more accurate sign of the times. classified as independent contractors so they can’t Enter Fight Back Pittsburgh. Members of form a union but they have formed an AMP United Steelworkers Local 3657, which is made chapter to form a united voice to deal with their up of activists who work out of the USW employers. AMP activists in Tucson, Arizona, on headquarters and in field offices around the the other hand, work together in local political country, began looking for ways they could build activities. the labor movement where it matters the most— On Tuesday, December 4th more than 40 right in the their own community. Pittsburgh is a people from the Pittsburgh community and Local city with a reputation as a union town but the gap 3657 gathered at the USW headquarters to discuss between that ideal and reality tells another the shape and direction of Fight Back story. Pundits describe Michigan as a labor Pittsburgh. “Is the labor movement still
Fight Back Pittsburgh!
relevant?” facilitators Guillermo Perez and Steffi Domike asked. “Yes!” was the unanimous response. A discussion on alternative unionism followed. The problems Pittsburghers face— decreased funding for essential public services, to name but one—require a community union that makes workplace and neighborhood problems collective ones. The suggested models for Fight Back Pittsburgh are past and present: the industrial unionism championed by the IWW and CIO unions; the community-worker unionism of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers that is laying bare the slavery that persists in the agricultural industry. We believe that anotherPittsburgh is possible because we know that change does not happen on its own; it has to be made. The structure and direction of Fight Back Pittsburgh have yet to be determined. To get on board, to make the change you want, and make Pittsburgh a union town, join online at www.FightBackPittsburgh.orgor check out a regular monthly meeting on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at the United Steelworkers headquarters at 60 Boulevard of the Allies and Stanwix St., in downtown Pittsburgh. John Lepley is a member of USW Local 3657. January 2013
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Healthcare Activism Skyrocketing Health Care Costs Is PPACA the Answer? Or Is There a Better One? by Scott Tyson In a new report The Commonwealth Fund concluded that eroding protection and rising costs of health care require action.
Key Findings: Across states, the total average premium reached $15,022 per year in 2011 for family coverage, an increase of 62 percent since 2003. By 2011, there were 35 states in which the annual premium equaled 20 percent or more of income, compared with just one state in 2003. Although workers are paying more for insurance, their premiums are buying them less financial protection because of the rapid increase in deductibles. As of 2010, estimates indicate 81 million adults under age 65 (44% of all adults) were either uninsured during the year or underinsured, up from 61 million in 2003. The national private insurance companies have done well throughout the recession years, with strong pretax profit margins and administrative costs that have largely kept pace with increases in medical care costs. The costs of private insurance spending per person, which have been rising faster than Medicare spending...are projected to continue to do so over the next decade. The Affordable Care Act’s effectiveness in tackling costs, however, will require collaboration among public and private stakeholders to ensure that markets operate in the broad national interest of better health, more positive health care experiences, and lower future costs.
Response: Don McCanne MD.
Physicians for a National Health Program www.pnhp.org commented: “Many are hoping that the Affordable Care Act will provide some relief. The PNHP website (www.pnhp.org) has a plethora of reports and studies indicating that there is no hope that we will have truly substantial reform under this Act only administrativelycomplex tweaks.” The authors of this report state that the Affordable Care Act's effectiveness "will require collaboration among public and private stakeholders." This is the fundamental reason that there is no hope. Under our current dysfunctional financing system, which was left in place by this legislation, that collaboration must be voluntary [is] an impossibility since each vested interest is jockeying for the most advantageous position. Under a properly designed single payer system, the publicly-administered policies are designed to ensure collaboration of all parties. What works in the interests of the patients also works in the interests of the collaborators. Until the nation is ready to demand structural reform that benefits us all, we are going to continue to see the numbers in this report grow even worse.
providing quality health care to everyone. We need you. Here’s What You Can Do: 1. Share the EIS with friends, your community group, local officials; use social media to reach others; write letters-to-the-editor; meet with your legislator. 2. Volunteer a couple hours a week with PUSH to help staff the office, make calls, send out mailings, organize lobby visits, get endorsers, arrange an event, etc. Our office is located at 2102 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. You can leave a message at 412-241-4242, go to www.pushhc4allpa.blogspot.com and www.healthcare4allpa.org or email email@example.com. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Scott Tyson is a pediatrician, the chair of Pennsylvanians United for Single-payer Healthcare (PUSH), and a member of the Physicians for a National Health Program.
NEW: PA Study Provides Better Answer The Economic Impact Study (EIS) of PA Single Payer Bill, Health Care for All PA, (SB 400) is set to be released this month.. Prime sponsor in the Pennsylvania Senate is Senator Jim Ferlo. If, as expected, the EIS convincingly documents substantial savings while fully covering everyone, with no co-pays or deductibles, PUSH, our local affiliate which founded the state coalition, needs your help. It will take a major effort to publicize the report and provide the public, legislators, cash-strapped municipalities, school boards, and businesses with solid information on how to solve their fiscal problems while making Pennsylvania a national leader in
Pennsylvania Voters Want a Better Health Care Law by Paul Ricci Exit polls provide a wealth of information on the thinking of the voters. For this year's election the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, and AP) used the same exit poll to save money, using a national sample of 26,517. Many people failed to answer all the questions toward the end of the poll. Nationally, about 20% answered the question, “What should happen to the health care law?" (PPACA, the Affordable Care Act) But a different pattern appeared in Pennsylvania. Of 2,908 responses to the poll, 1,019, or 35% answered the health care question. The results are strikingly similar to a 2010 poll taken before the Senate race between Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak and about the time of the Supreme Court decision. In contrast to the national poll, a slight majority of Pennsylvanians supported the bill. See the table at right: 10 - NEWPEOPLE
The larger response rate (35%) suggests that either this issue and others resonate more with this state's voters, or there is a sampling issue in other states. Regardless, the results suggest that there is still fertile ground for health care activists in Pennsylvania among the electorate. Now that the election is over, the battle rages in each state over whether to expand Medicaid and whether to create state or federal level exchanges (a place where people will go to buy insurance). The deadline for states to decide on creating their own exchanges was Dec. 14 or use the federal government’s national exchange. Governor Tom Corbett has decided to reject a state exchange in Pennsylvania. About half of Pennsylvania's 12.1% uninsured could be covered by Medicaid expansion. Many
of the states not participating, such as Texas at 26.3%, have the worst uninsured rates. Paul Ricci is a blogger for PUSH/Healthcare for All PA. Paul provided the source material for this article.
Activists Follow the Money TAXES, TAXES, TAXES FEDERAL TAXES: AMERICA IS NOT BROKE! by Molly Rush Inside the Beltway, the battle was over higher taxes on the rich and cuts in entitlements. Meanwhile, the Institute for Policy Studies has just issued an important new report, AMERICA IS NOT BROKE. It makes a compelling case for building a sustainable and just economy that would benefit everyone and save over eight hundred billion dollars a year in fiscal reforms. A pipedream? Only if we continue to accept the storyline that the government can’t afford to fund “amenities” such as good public education, transportation, infrastructure repair, healthcare for all, or a social safety net -- and that lower taxes on corporations and the rich will produce jobs. Here are the major recommendations in the report:
What Price Security? What does fear buy? by Ginny Cunningham Especially since 9/11, though its roots have been traced back to the end of World War II when we embraced the nuclear bomb, national policy has turned toward expanding security initiatives and enhancing defense capability almost beyond the capacity of the average citizen to imagine. What the Joint Chiefs and the CIA were refused during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 has been handed to them since on silver platters. Logic suggests that our military capability and the billions of dollars we continue to pour into it dismiss the possibility of threat from any foreign government or terrorist cell. Instead, the United States fails to claim actual victory over any enemy it has engaged since Vietnam. Instead, the U.S. economy shudders from crisis to crisis and its educational system, its social welfare programs, and its infrastructure rot and crumble. When did we step onto this pathway? When did we choose to live in fear and to spend our life’s blood to ensure something so fleeting and fragile as “security”? Where will this path take us? What will be our end? As you turn the calendar to a new year, consider the following and ask:
PA Tax System Benefits Wealthy & Corporations ...Harms Common Good
by Molly Rush For years, our state tax system has been outrageously skewed. The richest 1% of Pennsylvanians paid just 3.9% of income averaging $1,369,000. The poorest 20% of workers, with To save $458 billion: Revenues that average earnings of $10,500, shelled out 11.2% of advance a more equitable society: fairly tax income, or nearly three times that rate. [The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2009.] Wall St., corporations, and the rich [end Taxes corporations actually pay are much lower tax cuts on top 2%; tax financial than the posted rate. PNC Financial Services, had transactions and the largest banks; three-year profits totaling over $10 billion, but paid progressively tax large estates; end tax just 1.5% in taxes between 2008-2010; Comcast havens; add tax brackets for higher incomes; tax capital gains and dividends as with earnings of $15.2 billion paid 3.4%. No major company headquartered in PA paid more than 5.3% ordinary incomes; close stock option in taxes. loophole.] In 2011, facing a budget deficit of $4 billion, To save $198 billion: Expenditure cuts that Governor Tom Corbett actually cut corporate taxes, would make the United States and the costing the state $822 million. [The Center on world more secure: [end war in Budget & Policy Priorities.] Afghanistan; eliminate 1/3 of U.S. military Who suffers? We all do, including those bases in Europe and Asia; eliminate waste attending public schools and universities, receiving and unnecessary weapons systems (by public assistance, Adult Basic health care, or using cutting number of nuclear warheads, R&D, many public services, including mass transit. two Air Force Wings, and two carrier Corbett also refused to levy a severance tax on groups); scale back outsourcing to natural gas drilling, unlike other states. Then he contractors by 15%; end foreign military offered the richest corporation in the world, Shell financing; eliminate inefficiencies.] Oil, a $1.7 billion tax break to build a petrochemical plant in Western PA. To save $225 billion: Revenue increases Then he took on people with disabilities and and subsidy cuts that will create a cleaner homebound seniors who require personalized environment [tax pollution; end financial services in order to hire their own environmentally harmful subsidies to dirty caretakers. In December, Corbett outsourced projects in energy, transportation, and land financial management jobs to for-profit Public and water use, and unsustainable Partnerships Ltd. in Boston, forcing 37 agencies to agriculture.] lay off 500 workers who provided these services for their 22,000 clients. Total savings: $824 billion a year. The media pays little or no attention to these gross injustices. So we pay and pay. Read the report: We can stand by and call this revolting or we can come together as a community and state and www.fpif.org/reports/america_is_not_broke actually revolt!
Molly Rush is co-chair of the editorial collective and a Thomas Merton Center board member.
Pentagon base budget for fiscal 2013: $ 530 billion War funding 2013: $ 88 billion Weapons funding under Department of Energy (nuclear): $ 11.5 billion Weapons clean up (nuclear waste): $64. billion Department of Homeland Security (umbrella for Transportation Security Administration): $ 35.5 billion Suspected terrorists arrested by Transportation Security Administration:
-0Homeland security through other agencies (such as food supply security through Department. of Agriculture): $ 13.5 billion International affairs funding Iraq and Afghanistan wars: $ 8 billion International security assistance (weapons and training to foreign militaries): $ 14 billion “Peacekeeping” funds to military operations handled by international organizations and allies: $ 2 billion Veterans care: $ 138 billion Retirement/pensions for non-veteran military retirees: $ 55 billion Retirement/pensions for civilians at the Department of Defense: (approx) $21 billion “Defense-related” miscellaneous: $ 8 billion Most recent estimate of China’s military funding: $ 136 billion
What have these dollars have bought? Source: Mother Jones May 2012, “Our Insanely Big One Trillion Dollar National Security Budget” by Chris Hellmen and Mattea Kramer.
To avoid “disastrous” cuts to defense in 2013, proposals instead cut the National School Lunch Program, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, food stamps, and Social Services Block Grant program, among others. Do you feel safe now? Ginny Cunningham is a member of the Editorial Collective of the Thomas Merton Center.
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Food Justice Activism became electronic in 2004 and participants were issued debit cards. “We are on the cusp of solving that program in getting a system back in place,” says Regal. by Pamela Diana for the Point Park News Service every seven people in Allegheny County receives Here’s how it will work. The system will run a food stamps, according to Regal. Sometimes the wireless electronic machine kiosk where food Just Harvest has been working since 1986 to process can be overwhelming and eligible people stamp users can get tokens in exchange for their end hunger and poverty in Allegheny County with end up feeling frustrated and don’t apply, so they electronic food stamps. They can use the tokens advocacy and mobilization towards economic end up without enough food on the table for their to shop and farmers will be then reimbursed for justice. families. Regal estimates that Just Harvest gets their tokens. “People will get good nutritious, “It’s difficult and overwhelming when a about 2,000 calls per year for food stamp affordable food. We’re able to serve as a person has no money, no transportation, and a assistance. Last year they processed applications mediatory to make that happen and farmers will family to feed; sometimes they just slip through for over 1,300 people. be able to do more business,” says Regal. the cracks. We’re here for them to get the They electronically prepare their application The new process should be in place by spring services they need,” says Ken Regal, Executive and submit it to Pennsylvania Welfare 2013. Director of Just Harvest. Department on the person’s behalf, plus follow up Funding for Just Harvest comes from federal, Regal has been with Just Harvest since its on the process if there’s a problem with the state and county funds as well as the United Way beginning and has seen many positive changes application or documents supporting it. The and company and individual contributions. It come out of the program. The School Breakfast entire process takes about 30 days, from preholds two main fundraisers a year – The Empty Program was one of the first campaigns Regal screening on the phone, submitting the Bowls Dinner, a joint fundraiser with the Greater worked on. Initially started in the Pittsburgh application, and collecting and submitting Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and the Public Schools, it has expanded throughout documentation. A file is kept on each applicant Autumn Harvest Dinner and auction. Allegheny County . so they can intervene if there’s a problem. He The agency’s public policy advocacy covers Pittsburgh was one of the last cities in America estimates that over the past five years eligible all kinds of long-term policy issues such as the to participate in the Program; his job was to poor and disadvantaged people have received Farm Bill, the State Budget and protecting safety persuade the district to initiate it. While the about $5.5 million worth of food stamp benefits net programs for the poor and disadvantaged from federal government funded operating costs in the because of their help. “It’s all about sustainable the “Fiscal Cliff” debate (that guides cuts in District, they weren’t facilitating it. Thanks to services, once you get them into the system, then federal spending), right down to how the city and advocacy by Just Harvest and the support of the they’re able to help themselves,” says Regal. county run their summer food programs. many parents in the pilot program, an entire Just Harvest is currently lobbying the WIC “The network of problems that poor people generation of children has grown up eating Program to require paperwork for benefits once a face is like this knot of things you can’t unravel,” breakfast in the schools. “It’s been immensely year, rather than twice. says Regal. Just Harvest strives to assist by gratifying to me that 10,000 to 12,000 kids are “Information about their services flows advocating for the poor and disadvantaged, eating a nutritious breakfast at school everyday at through food pantries; the United Way’s 211 working on solutions, and changing the rules to taxpayer expense because of all the work we did Human Services Information Systems; brochures make it better for them. 26 years ago,” says Regal. in churches, community centers, social service For more information on Just Harvest, visit “The School Breakfast Program is proof that agencies, neighborhood information fairs, and www.justharvest.org when you work on long-term policy implications community festivals; mass media and through our of hunger, it can have much more impact than if whole network of friends and allies around the Pamela Diana is a part-time graduate student in you just collect food and give it to people -- the community,” says Regal. Journalism and Mass Communications at Point long-term solution just keeps going on.” “Another exciting program that we’re working Park University and works for the United Regal was a political advocate in college and on is the food stamp exchange with the farmers Steelworkers of America (USW) in the always felt committed to do community-based markets,” says Regal. Organizing Department as a graphic designer. non-profit work. He worked for ACORN and the When food stamps were Hunger Action Coalition in the early 1980s and in paper, most farmers accepted 1986 became co-director of Just Harvest. In July them at their stands and tens 2012 he was named Executive Director. His of thousands of dollars were duties have always included fundraising, financial being spent every year in management, program design and new program Pittsburgh by poor people to development. With his promotion, he will be get good, locally grown, responsible for overall management of the affordable, nutritious food organization. for their families – and it Just Harvest helps the poor and disadvantaged went right into local farmers’ by assisting them to receive food stamps through pockets, says Regal. That the Welfare Department and WIC checks from amount went to zero the Women, Infant and Children Program. One in overnight when food stamps
Just Harvest Promoting Seeds of Change
Speak Up Now to Fight Hunger! by Joyce Rothermel Pennsylvanians struggling with hunger need your help! Since the beginning of the recession, Pennsylvania's State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) appropriation has dropped by 7.5%. During this same period, the need for food assistance has risen dramatically— by nearly 43% - and food banks in Pennsylvania are struggling to meet the demand. Governor Corbett can help by recommending adequate funding for the State Food Purchase Program. To continue to make vital nutritional assistance available to our neighbors struggling with hunger, Pennsylvania's food banks and other charitable food assistance providers need a strong State Food Purchase Program. Please help ensure Pennsylvania's charitable food providers are adequately stocked to serve those in need by contacting Governor Corbett urging him to support a strong State Food Purchase Program! Write to: Governor Tom Corbett, Governor's Office, Room 225,Main Capitol, Harrisburg, PA 17120 or call him at 717-787-2500. Joyce Rothermel is co-chair of the Southwestern PA Food Security Partnership. 12 - NEWPEOPLE
Environmental Activism Pittsburgh's Community Bill of Rights creates its own laws on any topic not exclusively regulated by the state or federal government. The set of local laws that govern the city are collectively referred to as the city’s Charter. The Charter may be amended either by action of the by Wanda Guthrie elected government officials or through a citizen petition. This ballot question is being presented by citizen initiative. So what does the Community Bill of Rights do? It asserts the rights of residents to clean air, We are working on an ambitious campaign to pure water, freedom from chemical trespass, include our Community Bill of Rights in the peaceful enjoyment of home, local selfPittsburgh Home Rule Charter. Everyone is government, and the right to establish sustainable needed to support the Referendum! The Petition energy policies. It recognizes the rights of natural Drive is crucial! A new vocabulary is needed! communities and ecosystems as well, and Our civil rights are at stake! empowers community members with legal In 2010, Pittsburgh famously became the first standing to enforce those rights. Included in the U.S. city to pass a Community Bill of Rights Bill of Rights, indeed the issue that prompted its (CBoR) ordinance which, in contradistinction to introduction in the first place, is a provision that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, prohibits corporations from extracting natural gas limits the rights and influence of corporations and within the city (with the exception of gas wells makes them subordinate to the rights of people already established and in operation at the time of and the natural communities upon which we adoption of this amendment). depend. Here’s the reason why it's so important to move Now, this groundbreaking ordinance may our Community Bill of Rights from the status of become part of Pittsburgh's local constitution. A an ordinance to that of an amendment to the city group of citizens is circulating a petition to place Charter: Numerous times over this past year, the a question on the ballot that will allow city voters community has rallied to support the ordinance as to amend their Home Rule Charter by including the mayor was prodded by the gas industry to this Community Bill of Rights in the Charter. overturn the drilling ban so that such companies Pittsburgh is a “home rule” city. This means it might "feel welcome" to set up their headquarters
Leading the Way Toward True Local Democracy, Sustainability, and Justice
WE ARE DECLARING AND ORGANIZING!
in Pittsburgh. If the citizens of Pittsburgh succeed in embedding the Community Bill of Rights in the Charter through a ballot initiative, it will be clear to politicians that the people of Pittsburgh take their rights seriously. It will also take the Community Bill of Rights, including the gas extraction ban, out of the hands of future mayors and council members, who might be persuaded to rescind it on behalf of the gas corporations. If you are a city resident, please join in this very active petition campaign. If you belong to a group and would like to have someone come and speak about the campaign, please contact Eric Belcastro, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund at email@example.com, or call him at (412) 216-9671. For meeting times, venue, and to be on a contact list for the campaign, contact Pat Buddemeyer firstname.lastname@example.org. Wanda Guthrie is Chair of the Environmental Justice Committee, Board Member of the Thomas Merton Center and a regular contributor to The New People.
PNC Day of Action: Green Your Money by Amy Ward Brimmer
“We know PNC can do better, and we are committed to using nonviolence to stand up for the people of Appalachia,” said Bryn Mawr student Samantha Shain. “PNC was formed from a merger between Pittsburgh National and Provident Bank, which was founded by Quakers,” said EQAT board member Eileen Flanagan. “As Quakers, we feel that if PNC is going to promote itself as a ‘green’ bank, they must act with integrity and live up to their claims of caring about the environment and the communities where they do business.” PNC’s response to the Day of Action was consistent with their reaction to the Green Walk for Jobs and Justice staged by EQAT last spring: no comment. Activists report being met by security guards or police at the door, being threatened with arrest, being told by bank employees (including managers) that they could lose their jobs if they spoke to EQATers about the issue, and being blocked from entering. Banks in Washington, DC and Delaware completely closed down for the duration of the actions, angering unwitting customers trying to do their banking on a busy holiday shopping weekend. Some said they were surprised and unhappy to discover that PNC was involved in financing mountaintop removal. In many cases, PNC branch managers accepted the toxic water samples, waited tolerantly while the activists had their say and then left without comment. In Harrisburg, the manager was asked if he would be sending a report to his superiors and if he thought they were getting EQAT’s message. “Oh, they are well aware, believe me,” he replied. That would appear to be the case; in a number of locations extra security guards were hired for the day. Maybe PNC is beginning to agree with the Harrisburg Patriot- Carolyn McCoy, an EQAT Organizer, listens to activists Lou Martin and Julie News, who called Earth Quaker Charles talk about their experience Action Team a “multimillionwithdrawing their money from PNC dollar threat” to PNC. Bank’s Squirrel Hill Branch.
Green Your Money! Earth Quaker Action Team's PNC Day of Action hosts 15 Demonstrations across the Eastern Seaboard. In Pittsburgh we were 15 strong as two members withdrew their money while we serenaded the customers with “This Little Light of Mine” and delivered our message and a jar of highly toxic water to the assistant bank manager. Pittsburgh supporters would like to keep up the momentum! Join us! Call Wanda Guthrie 412-596-0066 or email email@example.com Contaminated water from West Virginia brought to PNC Bank On December 1, Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) put PNC Bank on notice: the campaign to stop PNC from financing mountaintop removal coal mining is powerful, growing, and rapidly spreading across the bank’s geographic territory. Last Saturday saw the largest single-day protest against PNC’s investments in mountaintop removal since EQAT launched their Bank Like Appalachia Matters (BLAM!) campaign in 2010. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Princeton to Cincinnati, EQAT coordinated 15 nonviolent direct action protests at PNC bank branches in five states and Washington, DC. At most locations, activists brought samples of contaminated water taken from Eunice, WV containing arsenic, selenium, mercury, and other toxins that routinely leach into the water table as a result of the mountaintop removal mining process. The water came from the well of Junior Walk, who currently suffers from severe gastrointestinal illnesses and other health problems common in the region, where increased rates of cancer and birth defects have been documented. Demonstrations included a banner drop over a highway in Morgantown, WV, mock “taste tests” of contaminated water in Princeton, a parade of toxic chemicals with a sit-in at Bryn Mawr, PA, and numerous public statements by PNC customers who closed their accounts on Saturday or who plan to do so unless PNC adopts a sector exclusion banning investments in mountaintop removal. Two years ago, in response to demonstrations by Earth Quaker Action Team, PNC updated their Corporate Responsibility Report with a policy that prohibits investments in coal companies that source a majority of their coal from mountaintop removal. The policy, however, does not apply to any of the six largest mountaintop removal corporations with whom PNC does Source: Online Rainforest Action Network: a Guest Blog by Amy Ward business, and has not significantly impacted PNC’s investments in the Brimmer, Executive Director—Earth Quaker Action Team industry, according to a recent RAN report. January 2013
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Anti-War Activism Marquino Considers the Springtime —Lawrence Wray
New Pittsburgh Chapter School of the Americas Watch by Russell Noble
Birds in your sky will whir, so say the peasants of Waziristan. Unseen, they will whir like cicadas emerging a season early, when green stems finger up in bracken tatter and leaf. In your sun, your cloudless sky, birds will seek you out the week daffodils offer first color, a yellow impasto by the garden Madonna forsythia takes up, a sign among countless signs, say the peasants of Waziristan. Here too, in the spring, birds will slash faces. Bulbs that held a pale fist: as soil froze, their unclenching flower was stocked for the eventual thaw. Who will offer a hand like this? Birdsong will return to the trees we loved in winter, but now that drones resemble birds even the meaning of springtime changes. Perched on street lamps, they’ll leer into bedrooms, scour café tables that shed people for hours, a lizard’s predatory intelligence. And once, what could be only alluded to in the rudimentary image—a lover’s body and state of mind, the undulant rivering of people like clouds, their visible edges frayed— can now be acutely captured and replayed, where there was static, anonymous noise, no death but what they give you. These birds see, as nothing ever has been seen, myriad encounters that were otherwise ineffable, an infinite succession of presents—whereabouts, undertakings. The birds are back, feint-bodied, in the straggling city trees, and now our winter’s flocked. Look for a glint of sun as they cross the sky. Rivers blue the underside of their wings. By the time you hear them, it will be too late. Lawrence Wray is a former staff organizer for the Thomas Merton Center.
America’s relationship with Latin America has always had an imperialist character, but in 1946, it was given a new face when the doors to the U.S. School of the Americas (SOA) opened wide to Latin American soldiers. Ostensibly to promote the national security of their nations, they trained them (and police officers) for the kind of high-quality, American-made military training they couldn’t have gotten back home. More than just strict discipline and weapons training, though, this school taught torture, extortion, execution, and repression. In the interest of preserving U.S. hegemony in the Western hemisphere and its companies’ capital investments in its southern neighbors’ territories, the SOA was used to foster coups against governments deemed unacceptable, and to ensure that human rights movements in Latin America never got too powerful. This involved teaching tactics that directly violated international human rights standards. In 1990 in a tiny apartment outside the gates of Fort Benning, the military base that houses the SOA, the School of the Americas Watch began. Father Roy Bourgeois, who received the Thomas Merton Annual Award in 2005, was instrumental in the founding of the group and remains active to this day. With the express missions of standing in solidarity with Latin American human rights movements, opposing American imperialism, and closing down the SOA, a small group of U.S. activists quickly connected with leaders in Latin American human rights groups. As its base expanded, so did its activities, and by 1996 it had an office in DC. In 2004, a delegation from SOA Watch met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and convinced him to cease sending troops to train at the SOA. Since then, the movement has succeeded in convincing Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Nicaragua to stop sending soldiers to the SOA as well. After a period of inactivity with respect to SOA Watch, a group of Pittsburgh activists has recently decided to renew our city’s link with the national movement. An
SOA Watch Chapter is forming now in Pittsburgh to support and continue the work of the movement at a local level. This chapter will have two basic goals: to educate Pittsburghers about the deplorable training regime at the School of the Americas and to get support for anti-SOA activities and legislation. HR 3368 is a bill that seeks to stop the operation of the SOA until a congressional commission established by the bill has completed a thorough investigation into its human rights-violating training practices and those responsible for them. Introduced by Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, it has only 50 co-sponsors and will almost certainly not pass in this session. But the bill is itself a reintroduction of one from past sessions, and with a new one beginning this month, we have yet another chance to reintroduce and get support for the bill. The newly formed SOA Watch Chapter of Pittsburgh will encourage people to write to their representatives asking them to support this anti-SOA legislation and meet with Pennsylvania congressmen to convince them to cosponsor the bill. The educational part of SOA Watch Pittsburgh’s mission will begin on January 20 with the SOA-themed Capital’s End. (Capital’s End is an open space for activists organizing around different issues every Sunday with the goal of cross-pollinating our progressive efforts.) At the Istanbul Grille at 4130 Butler Street, local activists and progressive minds will meet to learn about and discuss the SOA and SOA Watch from 6:30-9:30pm. There at 5:45pm, shortly before the event begins, the SOA Watch Pittsburgh chapter will have a meeting; anyone with an interest in fighting American imperialism or supporting human rights in Latin America is encouraged to attend. To join, support, or get more information contact Russell Noble at 267-980-4878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Russell Noble studies philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. He organized the the recent Pittsburgh trip to protest the SOA and is the new chair of the chapter.
Drone Warfare (from front page) Since 2007, the Obama Administration has increased the number of covert Drone attacks in foreign countries and the CIA has recently asked the White House for additional funding to increase its fleet of unmanned drones. "Drones are used to carry out extrajudicial executions...murder, said National Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams. They are also illegal under the laws of war." Reminiscent of Madeleine Albright's remarks that 500,000 dead Iraqi children was "worth it", when pressed about the morality of Drone warfare on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Time magazine's Joe Klein replied, "the bottom line is "who's 4 year old gets killed?" "What we are doing is limiting the possibility that 4 year olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror." As we enter into this new type of Robotic warfare, it's up to us to raise awareness about these lawless attacks and press the government any way we can to establish effective monitor processes to limit or eliminate drone attacks. Will we become a nation that immorally kills innocent men, women and children from the convenience of an air conditioned office in Nevada, or will pressure and public outrage, the same kind that helped end the war in Iraq, wake a sleeping public lulled into thinking that drones are good, and targeted killings are making this country safer? The answer my friend is up to you. Francine Porter is a TMC Board Member and Coordinator of Codepink Pittsburgh Women for Peace. Francine will be presenting a forum on Drone Warfare at the Istanbul Grill's Capital’s End, Sunday, January 27. She will also facilitate a discussion on Drone Warfare at the Unitarian Church in Shadyside in early February. 14 - NEWPEOPLE
Activist Community Speaks Out Activist New Years’ Resolutions In 2013… It seems as though we often make the same silly resolutions year after year lose 10 pounds, pick up a new hobby, visit someplace new; But we rarely make much progress or find fulfillment from them. We at the Thomas Merton Center believe the best resolutions are those that act for positive change in the world. Here are some resolutions TMC members are making this year: Russ Fedorka: Refuse endless war and fight for a sustainable future. Jonathan Reyes: I will help others bring sound to their silence by becoming educated and in turn edifying others on social justice issues. Diane McMahon: Get off the grid and help shape the New Economy, a place where everyone is in and no one is out. Molly Rush: Work to build a green New Economy owned by the people. Bette McDevitt: Get out in the streets. Jo Tavener: I will try to get the farmers at the East Liberty Farmers’ Market to take seriously the fracking pollution threat to Butler, Armstrong and Washington Counties, its crops, livestock and people. Kenneth Miller: I would like to stop the baseball season while we renegotiate the lease agreement for PNC Park and hear the testimony of workers sewing Pittsburgh Pirate apparel. I resolve to have consistent and hard-hitting labor news on the pages of The New People. Fr. Jack O’Malley: Health permitting, I resolve to work with those struggling to improve the economic conditions of low wage workers and as labor chaplain to continue to work with organized labor to preserve the middle class. Robin Clarke: I will do 2 or 3 political things really well instead of 10 things at minimal capacity.
CAPITAL’S END ISTANBUL GRILLE
Carol Gonzalez: Lend energies and actions to promoting TMC, including Merton Day, and NEW TIME: 6:30-9:30 spirituality and charism we’re (Drum Circle Begins at 3:30) grounded in. Wanda Guthrie: With the help of A social space others, I will continue on the path for those working to change the world. and message of justice for Earth, that every being in the Earth community has three rights: the right to be, the right to habitat and Jan. 6 - “Democracy: Our Clarion Call” the right to fulfill its role in the Jan. 13 - “Palestine: The Occupation” ever-renewing processes of the Earth community. Jan. 20 – “School of the Americas” Joe Guthrie: Do all I can to move Jan. 27 – “Drone Warfare” the world from fossil fuel energy to sustainable energy. Live local music, poetry, theater, film, discussion, Lilly Joynes: I will refuse to pay ATM surcharges. In 2010, “collective political karaoke,” open mike, display/sale Americans paid a combined $7 of art, a “call to arms” and an opportunity to build billion in ATM fees! friendships, community & solidarity. Briar Somerville: I will shop at the East End Community Thrift DIVINE TURKISH CUISINE (BYOB) Store (Thrifty) or other charitable 4130 Butler St. Pgh, PA 15201 -- (412) 251-0441 second-hand stores when possible, rather than support the commercial Further information: email@example.com 724-388-6258 garment industry responsible for the recent deaths in Bangladesh. website: network23.org/capitalsend Marcia Snowden: To do the best job I can to support the staff, board, projects and programs of the Thomas Merton Center. Ruthie Stringer: a Carnegie Braddock Librarian: I’d like to be more mindful that activism isn’t a by Helen Gerhardt chore or duty, but rather a way to In January, Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) will kick off their be joyful and celebrate my values direct organizing and legislative campaigns on the buses, at bus stops and and ideals. in neighborhoods across the city to rally support for long term, dedicated The editorial collective produces The funding for mass transit. We will also work with the Pittsburgh Community New People — a monthly alternative Reinvestment Group and Bricolage Production Company to gather your bus stories in audio, print, and video for distribution through websites, newspaper designed to promote an social media, public radio, and the Pittsburgh City Paper. Bricolage will engaged, transparent, consensusdevelop interactive theatrical engagement opportunities for community building democracy. We look to members to perform those stories, and invite other actors, artists, writers, create world community where all and community organizations from across the city to form their own people are honored and all life is creative interpretations. protected and cared for. We Would you like to help educate the public and speak out to our elected welcome your article submissions, officials about the need for dedicated funding for public mass photos, donations and comments at transit? Would you like to help collect the stories of your own bus drivers, thomsmertoncenter.org. Contact us your fellow riders, and of the communities that your bus rolls through? Do at (412) 361-3022 for more you have a bus tale to tell? Do you have a yen to act out such a tale? If so, information or email newpeople @ we will provide training and lots of great examples - please contact PPT thomasmertoncenter.org. organizer Helen Gerhardt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pittsburghers For Public Transit
Identifying Violent Offenders Before They Offend Is Just Plain Incorrect by Daniel Marston Another tragedy, another call for the mental health community to save the day. Whenever supporters of guns want to sidestep the issue of gun control they call out for psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. to step in and stop the violence. If only, their thinking goes, we could just identify the people who are going to use guns for tragic purposes, we would stop them from getting those guns. And then that would stop terrible things from happening with guns. These supporters of gun rights insist the real key is getting mental health professionals to identify people with mental illness and stop them from getting guns. Now, never mind that these people are often the ones who ignore the importance of mental health services any other time. And never mind that these are also people who scream at even the mention of some sort of universal healthcare. So it is not clear how they expect mental health services to be available to identify and help the people who would do harm with guns. But the real important fact here is that it won’t work. There simply is no way to single out
individuals who would use guns for harming others from those who would not. At least not before they actually do harm or attempt to do harm. And the primary factor at work here is “low base rate.” Simply put, this means that people using guns to intentionally harm others happens so rarely, compared to the size of the population, that there simply is no way to determine ahead of time when this is going to happen. If given enough information, psychologists can determine with a high degree of accuracy a small percentage of people who are likely to do certain things. And when it comes to violence, psychologists can in many cases determine the 1% of any particular population who are most likely to commit violent acts. This is something that can be determined with a review of empirical research conducted over decades. But in any type of population (e.g. males, females, old, young) there are likely to be millions of people— So, determining the 1% of any population most likely to commit any type of violence still means you have identified hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. And very, very
few of them will ever actually commit violence. Determining which of that group will actually ever be violent is beyond the scope of even the best psychological research. So, of the thousands or millions identified as having the potential for violence, very few of them will actually be violent. And the research would just be plain wrong about the remaining. There would be no way to act on the group identified as having the potential for violence when it is clear up front that most of them will be identified incorrectly. Saying that the people who are likely to be violent can be stopped from getting guns might make gun supporters feel better. But it is just incorrect. If so many types of guns remain so easily accessible to the general population, then violent people will get them. Dr. Daniel Marston is a licensed psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of neurobehavioral disorders. He also is an expert on the psychological impact of poverty. He has been in practice for over 15 years and teaches collegelevel statistics and research design. January 2013
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January Activist Events Sunday
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. Thomas Merton 6
@TMC Anti-War Committee 2—3:30 pm
TMC New Economy Meeting At Merton Center at 10 am
TMC Environmental Justice Community Rights Workshop Friends Meeting House 6-9 pm
TMC New Economy Resilience Circles Training 9am-3pm First United Methodist
Also Saturday 9 am to 6 pm
Mike Stout Rock, & Revolution Tour (see below)
TMC Book Study Calvary Episcopal Church 315 Shady Ave. 15206 7-8:30 pm
Clean Rivers Speaker Series Visitcleanriverscamp aign.org/
Jazz at Emmanuel 5 pm “365-24-7”
@TMC Anti-War Committee 2—3:30 pm
21 Black and White Reunion East Liberty Presbyterian Church 116 Highland Ave. 15th Annual Summit Against Racism
Antonian Room #502 19
RSVP by 4 pm January 18, by calling 412.613.0300
What do you do if you need bail money? 10:00 am-12:00 pm at TMC
See ad on page 3 for more information
Pittsburgh Goo-Goo Gathering AVA Lounge 5:30-8:00 pm
The Life of Bayard Rustin 7-9 pm Friends Meeting House Ellsworth Ave. Oakland
"Department of Hope," will explore the many facets of Hope amongst LGBTQ and Allied young people. August Wilson Center 4 -7 pm
Mohandas Ghandi is assassinated (1948)
Become a Member of TMC & Help Build the Movement! $ 15—Student/Low Income Membership $ 50—Individual Membership $ 100– Family Membership $ 75—Organization (below 25 members) $ 125—Organization (above 25 members) Become a member of the Thomas Merton Center—at www.thomasmertoncenter.org/ join-donate. AS A MEMBER, WE WILL MAIL YOU THE NEW PEOPLE! TMC membership benefits include monthly mailings of The New People to your home or email account, weekly eblasts focusing on peace and justice events, and special invitations to membership activities. 16 - NEWPEOPLE
Birthday Harris of Thomas Interfaith Merton (1915) Lecture: Gershon Baskin, Ph.D Rodef Shalom 11 am-2 pm
Wednesdays Fed-Up! Write on-Letters for Prisoner Rights Thomas Merton Ctr. 7:00-9:30 pm Saturdays Black Voices for Peace—Vigil to End War 1:00 pm—Corner of Penn & Highland Ave. East Liberty Sundays TMC Anti-War Committee (Alternating Sundays) Thomas Merton Ctr. 2-3:30 pm Book’em Packing Days Thomas Merton Ctr. 4-7 pm Capital’s End Every Sunday—6:30-9:30 pm Istanbul Grille-4130 Butler St. Lawrenceville
Monthly Meetings Second Tuesdays W.O.M.I.N. Meeting 7:30-8:30pm 18 Schubert Street Pgh, PA 15212
First Wednesdays Darfur Coalition Meeting (Every Other Thursday) 7:00—9:00 pm—2121 Murray Avenue Second Floor—Squirrel Hill (412) 784-0256 PA Alternative to Death Penalty The Pittsburgh Chapter at 7:00 pm Unitarian Church in Shady Side 605 Moorewood Avenue-15213 First Thursdays Green Party Meeting 5:00—7:30 pm—Room C Carnegie Library—Squirrel Hill
MLK Day! 27
Weekly Meetings Tuesdays International Socialist Organization Thomas Merton Ctr. 730-9:30 pm
Project to End Human Trafficking (PEHT) 10 am -1 pm Carlow University 3333 Fifth Ave Oakland
Merton on the Dalai Lama, he is... “prayer, silence, loving kindness” 13
Feb. 2 Reconstruct our Peace and Justice Movements Friends Meeting House 4836 Ellsworth Ave at 2:30 pm! Call Scilla at 412-315-7423 or Edith 412-661-7149
Third Sundays Fight for Lifers West 10 am to Noon—Crossroads Church 325 N. Highland Ave—East Liberty
Coming Soon! Thomas Merton Awards April 13, 2013— Award Winner: Marti Sheen