Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn (1922-2010)

Howard Zinn died today. An historian best known for A People's History of the United States (1980) an alternative history that told more than the mythical history of America, but told the history of labor organizers, native americans, blacks and women. Dr. Zinn was known for his activism for civil rights and anti-war mvement from Viet Nam to Iraq. He also wrote a play about Emma Goldman "Emma" (1976).

He modeled activist teaching. From his autobiography You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994): "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity' ; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it."

Howard Zinn's voice today was silenced, but his words still move me/us to action.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Define: Person

I have slogged through the Citizens United v FEC opinion [558 US ___ 2010]. The majority opinion hinges on the conceit* that corporations are persons, and thus, must be given the same rights as natural persons (equal rights**), especially those rights of free speech in the political sphere.
Corporations (for profit and not for profit) are made up of persons, and the corporate structure protects those persons. So, pehaps corporations should give up these protections? Or, IMHO, perhaps we need to re-define "person(s)" in our constitution (as in an amendment to our constitution).

10 steps to curtail the corporate state from Fran Korten on Common Dreams:
The problem with these are that they require Congress to act against their own self interest (to be re-elected using corporate $$$$$).
We need a real grassroots movement--perhaps a revolution to recapture the government that was supposed to be "We, the people."

* The term Justice Stevens used in his dissent, p.2
** The absurdist in me is thinking... If corporations have equal rights with persons, I guess they can marry--oh, they already can: there are marriages (aka mergers) between corporations--perhaps then hostile takeovers would be prohibited, since in the USA the concept of freedom of choice is very prevalent in our marriage laws. Exception alert: save the freedom of same sex couples to marry. Does that mean that corporations are more of a person than lesbians and gay men ??

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Corporate Citizens?, More like a Corporate State

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Citizens United V FEC that in short states that corporations are citizens and thus, can not be censored; they have first amendment rights to free speech.
I am making my way through the 183 page decision.. .[ for those of you who want to read it]

As I said this Fall at the Constitution Day event, if corporations are given the same rights as citizens, they also need to be given the same responsibilities. For instance, they need to be making decisions not just with their own self interest in mind (read: profit) but with the public good in mind. Perhaps using this mindset, we might not have had people mortgaged over their means with interest only mortgages because the mortgage brokers would have thought about the consequences and impact on the community five years out when the balloon payment hit, and could not be paid. Likewise the development and sale of derivatives might have been curtailed.
But, for a court which the majority are suppose to be strict constructionalists and not judicial activists, this decision is more than activist it remakes our Republic into a Corporate State.

Chris Hedges' view on this situation:

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help Haiti

Here is an article with some of the aid for Haiti groups listed:

Here is another list of groups & what they do on the ground in Haiti to donate funds :

•Americares – provides health care materials and relief aid via partners on the ground

•Doctors without Borders – has already set up emergency relief clinics on the ground, (may need supplies later as well)

•Grassroots Online – partners w/local social justice organizations to help distribute food, medical supplies, & other needs identified by Haitian social justice workers;

•Haiti Emergency Relief Fund – has been working on social, political, and human rights issues in Haiti for 6 years,

•Madre – works with community based Haitian women’s organizations, will be helping women in crisis, needs: water tablets, antibiotics, medical supplies, also distributing food & clean water asking for: donate $$ or supplies, call for more info 212 627 0444

•Quixote Center – long term grassroots organization working in US & Haiti, works w/ women’s groups & is sending earthquake aid

•Red Cross has already allotted funds to relief effort; you can give money via link or text “Haiti” to #90999 to give $10; NO volunteer opportunities @ this time

•UNICEF – emergency teams already in Haiti or volunteer

•World Concern – offering food, clean water, blankets, and temp shelter to victims,

•World Food Programme – provides emergency meals and clean water,

•Yele - donate $5 by texting the word “yele” to #501501

If you are a relative of a US citizen in Haiti and are trying to get information about their safety, you can call 1-888-407-4747 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225 202-647-5225

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