The Greek Debt Crisis
Bombing for Ethnic Cleansing
Edward S. Herman
Conflict in Syria
John W. Whitehead
The Great Obama Bailout
Good News Clubs
The Christian Right Quiz
Steel Workers March
Military Threats in Iran
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Items From the Internet
Moderator@ portside.org forwarded “What the War over Contraception is Really About: Control over Women’s Bodies.” Author Ruth Rosen describes the “bizarre theatrical antics” leading up to the U.S. Senate vote that defeated an amendment that would have allowed religious employers to refuse to pay for the contraception of their employees. The drama began on February 16 when President Obama announced that all employers of all institutions, regardless of their religious affiliation, would have to pay for contraception. When the Catholic Church and right-wing fringe went ballistic, he compromised and said that if an institution felt it was violating its religious beliefs, then the insurance company would pay.
In the weeks that followed, the Republicans launched a war on contraception. They told women that the appropriate birth control pill was an aspirin held by tightly-grasped knees; they created a religious “hearing” on contraception made up of all men; and right-wing radio pundit Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student, who had defended contraception, a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
In Virginia, the legislature passed a bill that would require a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound probe inserted in her vagina so she would really know she was carrying a human being. The governor at first agreed, but then, attacked for humiliating pregnant women, he dithered about what kind of bill he would sign.
The Republican Party, for its part, framed the fight as one of religious freedom and freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Democrats and women’s rights advocates responded that it was exclusively about women’s health care.
What neither side wants to say is that this is a counter-reformation, an attempt to return women to the early 1960s before the birth control pill existed and the Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), established the right of contraception in the United States. At stake is the right of a woman to control her own fertility, her own reproductive choices, and, therefore, to lead an independent life.
After abortion became legal in 1973, the Republican Party inserted an anti-abortion plank into its 1980 platform and ever since, every Republican candidate has had to pass a litmus test of opposing abortion in order to run for president.
When the Supreme Court formally ratified that rupture by making abortion legal in Roe v. Wade (1973), many in this country trembled at the possible changes women’s sexual independence might bring. By then, the women’s movement had challenged and changed laws and customs that governed the daily lives of women in both the work place and at home.
Today, contraception and abortion are legal, but, state by state, laws are chipping away at women’s access to both contraception and abortion. The truth is, this is the last gasp of a patriarchal counter-reformation that is still alive, mobilized, and well-funded.
Moderator@ portside.org sent “The War on Birth Control” by Rachel Maddow who details the history of the “personhood” initiative. In 2008 in Colorado, a rebel faction of anti-abortion activists decided to pursue a “personhood” initiative. Over the objections of the mainstream anti-abortion movement, they proposed amending the state’s constitution to redefine the word “person” to include zygotes. Under the proposal, “from the moment of fertilization,” a woman would be considered two people under Colorado law. When the initiative went before voters, it failed by a large margin.
The same activists brought up the measure again in 2010. They changed the “moment of fertilization” language to “the beginning of biological development,” but Colorado voters said no to “personhood.” Again.
Voters seemed to have rejected “personhood” because it would not only criminalize all abortion, but would probably outlaw hormonal forms of birth control as well. Hormonal contraceptives generally prevent an egg from being fertilized in the first place, but the theoretical possibility that they might also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus raised the specter of birth control pills being viewed as instruments of homicide.
After Mississippi rejected “personhood” and its threat to contraception and after Colorado rejected it twice, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul attended (Paul by satellite) a Personhood USA candidates forum in South Carolina. All signed a pledge to pursue “personhood” at the federal level. Mitt Romney did not attend the event, but when asked on Fox News before the Mississippi vote last year whether he would have supported such a measure as Massachusetts governor, he replied, “Absolutely.”
The right has picked a fight on this issue because religiosity is a convenient partisan cudgel to use against Democrats in an election year. But this is more than just a 2012 measure of Catholic bishops’ influence on moral issues. It’s this year’s mainstream Republican embrace of an anti-abortion movement that no longer just marches on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to criminalize abortion; it now marches on the anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, holding signs that say “The Pill Kills.”
Karen Lee Wald (Karenlee726@gmail.com) calls attention to the article “US Congress passes authoritarian anti-protest law” by Tom Carter, who writes about a bill passed in March that would make it a felony to participate in many forms of protest associated with Occupy Wall Street. Several commentators have dubbed it the “anti-Occupy” law, but its implications are far broader. The bill—HR 347, or the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011—was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, while only Ron Paul and two other Republicans voted against the bill in the House of Representatives (388-3). Not a single Democratic politician voted against the bill.
Among the central provisions of HR 347 is a section that would make it a criminal offense to “enter or remain in” an area designated as “restricted.” The bill defines “restricted” in extremely vague and broad terms. Restricted areas can include “a building or grounds where the president or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting” and “a building or grounds restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.”
The Secret Service provides bodyguards not just to the U.S. president, but to a broad layer of top figures in the political establishment, including presidential candidates and foreign dignitaries. Even more sinister is the provision regarding events of “national significance,” which are left to the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. Included among such events would be the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which have been classified as National Special Security Events (NSSE), a category created under the Clinton administration.
The standard punishment under the new law is a fine and up to one year in prison. If a weapon or serious physical injury is involved, the penalty may be increased up to ten years. Also criminalized by the bill is conduct “that impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of government business or official functions” and “obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds.” In order to appreciate the sweep of HR 347, it is necessary to consider a few examples.
(1) A wide area around the next G-20 meeting or other global summit could be designated “restricted” by the Secret Service, such that any person who “enters” that area can be subject to a fine and a year in jail under Section 1752(a)(1)—making it a felony to enter any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so).
(2) Senator Rick Santorum, as a presidential candidate, enjoys the protection of the Secret Service. Accordingly, a person who shouts “boo” during a speech by Santor- um could be subject to arrest and a year of imprisonment under Section 1752(a)(2)—making it a felony to “engag[e] in disorderly or disruptive conduct in” a restricted area.
(3) Striking government workers who form a picket line near any event of “national significance” can be locked up under Section 1752(a)(3)—making it a crime to impede ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds.
The passage of HR 347 has been the subject of a virtual blackout in the media. In light of the unprecedented nature of the bill, which would effectively overturn the First Amendment, this blackout cannot be innocent.
Lacotas & the Tarsands Pipeline
www.commondreams.org reports that the Oglala Nation and all American Indian tribes in South Dakota have adamantly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline that was routed through the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations and that would cross the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System in two places. In protest, the Eagle Butte Indian tribal council decided to form a human blockade on their reservations if the convoy attempted to come through.
On March 5, when the XL Pipeline trucks came through and refused to turn around—claiming they had corporate rights that superceded any other laws—Lakota human rights activists Alex White Plume, Debra White Plume, Sam Long Black Cat, Andrew Iron Shell, and Terrell Eugene Iron Shell refused to break their blockade and were charged with disorderly conduct and taken to the jail in Kyle, South Dakota.
Native News Network reports that the trucks attempted to pass through reservation land because Totran Transportation Services, Inc., a Canadian company, apparently wanted to avoid paying South Dakota $50,000 per truck to use its state highways.
The developing confrontation between Native peoples and the huge multinational corporate XL Pipeline complex could become an international focal point.
Color Lines.com forwarded their concern about voting rights. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, as many as five million eligible voters could meet difficulties on Election Day 2012 due to new, imposing voter laws. There are currently eight states with photo voter ID laws containing specific criteria for what qualifies as “identifi-cation” for voting purposes. Some states require that identification be state-issued and only for the state a person is voting in; some prohibit college IDs; some demand that the full name and address on the card be current; while others require that an ID card has an expiration date.
Looking at those stipulations, it’s not hard to imagine how low-income citizens, African Americans, Latino Americans, college students, and elderly voters might get tangled up or turned away on voting day.
The Center estimates that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters lack proper identification right now. For African Americans, it’s 25 percent. Other groups like Native Americans, transgendered people, newly divorced, newly married couples or people who’ve recently lost their homes could all have information on their drivers licenses that reflect names, addresses, and faces that aren’t current. The costs for these groups will be more than an inconvenience: fees for new birth and marriage certificates, hours lost waiting in lines for updated materials, and transportation costs to handle it all.
Republicans in state legislatures around the country have tried to pass these laws for years. In 2010, when Republicans not only took over Congress, they became majorities in state legislatures across the country, one of the chief items on their agendas was changing the rules of the voting game. An example is Tennessee, which for the first time since the Civil War saw its House of Representatives, Senate, and governor’s office all controlled by Republicans. They quickly passed new voter ID laws and last year made headlines when a 96-year-old African American was denied an ID to vote.
A great deal of funding comes from the Koch Brothers, who’ve vowed to remove President Obama from the White House by any means and billions of dollars if necessary. Another player is ALEC—the American Legislative Exchange Council—a body that includes banks and corporations working alongside Republican legislators to craft laws that would dismantle not only voter rights, but also environmental and labor protections.
The states are perverting and exploiting civil rights laws in order to pretend that racial discrimination has been completely eradicated. Some even point to the election of the first black president and the record turnout of voters of color in 2008 as evidence that no traces of discrimination are left in the system. Instead, they claim to trace voter fraud to “people voting with the names of other displaced, deceased, or fictionalized voters” and argue this is why voter IDs are needed.
All the data shows that instances of voter fraud are negligible at best. The voter fraud argument is in many cases a ploy to disguise the racial animus that fuels the voter ID push as well as to keep “illegal immigrants” from voting.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.