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July/August 2009
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THE GREENS / GREEN PARTY USA (G/GPUSA)
The Original Green Party
Publishing Green Politics Since 1992

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Dear Reader,

In this issue of Green Politics we have articles on the “Historical Causes of the Current Iranian Turmoil”, the Peru situation, the latest on Gaza and our usual mix of news on grassroots struggles against corporate power, insightful report on genetic engineering, the humor of our “ditty” contributor, and Mike Alewitz’s art work along with his provocative essay.

We would like to hear from our readers. If you have articles, artwork, poems, suggestions, or commentaries on what is happening in your community, you can reach us at http://www.greenparty.org/newsletter/contact_us.php.

In solidarity
The Print Collective
Phil Ardery Jr.
Barbara Chicherio
Elizabeth Fattah
Wes Wagar

Historical Causes of the Current Iranian Turmoil

By Ahmad Fattahipour

Iranian men stand in line at a mosque in Tehran as they wait to vote in Presidential elections June 12, 2009. (Ramin Talaie, Bloomberg News) A woman casts her vote in a Tehran mosque transformed into a polling station. (Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images)

Writing for Green Politics, Ahmad Fattahipour, retired university professor and United Nations consultant, provides valuable historical background and context that help GP readers to better evaluate the protests following Iran's recent national elections. The dominant U.S. media and the U.S. governing elite have served up a black-and-white version of events, casting the re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as villain, challenged by democracy's champion Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Fattahipour writes, "There is a difficult choice before the Left in the United States. Supporting Ahmadinejad would probably result in a national socialist (fascist) regime and supporting Mousavi would probably result in a free-market economy more inclined towards economic integration of Iran into the world capitalistic economy." According to Fattahipour, "In supporting Mousavi, one should bear in mind that he is a member of the present ruling class which is composed of the clerics and Bazaaris (merchants, petit-bourgeoisie) and extremely wealthy people. The paradox is that Ahmadinejad represents the lower classes and the down-trodden."

Read Fattahipour's entire article here.

Philadelphians Rally In Support of Workers at Quad Cities Die Casting

By Warren Davis

Ron McCullough, president of United Electrical Workers Local 155 (left), and, holding the default notice, John Braxton, co-chair of Philly Jobs with Justice. Left to Right: Mortgage loan applicant Amekia Jackson, Philly Jobs with Justice field organizer Eduardo Soriano-Castillo (holding bullhorn), Braxton and McCullough.

On Tuesday, June 23, several dozen activists joined organizers from United Electrical Workers Local 155 to picket the Wachovia Bank at 1500 Market Street in Philadelphia. A National Day of Action was called by UE in support of the workers they represent at Quad Cities Die Casting in Moline, IL, who face the loss of nearly 100 factory jobs and more in the community because of inadequate funding to meet obligations in the economic downturn. Although the company remains viable and has kept its customers, the recession has resulted in fewer orders and temporary hardship. The company seeks bridge financing to sustain itself until an economic recovery.

The US government banking rescue was intended to provide financial institutions with the liquidity to keep credit flowing to American businesses to help them meet payrolls and weather the downturn. Instead, large banks like Wells Fargo, recipients of many billions of taxpayers' bail-out dollars, have bought other banks, like Wachovia, but refused to extend the credit to many struggling businesses and homeowners the bailout was meant to save. Instead of saving jobs with the taxpayers' bailout, Wells Fargo is destroying jobs and folks' lives, while grabbing easy profits.

Jobs with Justice took up the call in chapters all over the country. Locally, JwJ organized a picket at the Wachovia Bank branch in the heart of Philly's financial district. Activists from allied organizations responded, including SEIU Health Care PA, Change To Win, AFSCME DC 47, Temple Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), along with many others affiliated with community and political groups. One passer-by, homeless, hearing about the struggle at the picket, demanded that bank officials reconsider her application for a home loan, but was forced to leave.

UE Local 155 President, Ron McCullough, and Philly Jobs with Justice Co-Chair, John Braxton, signed and delivered a Notice of Default to the Wachovia Bank management, stopping business as usual in the branch. This action and many similar events across the country have put Wells Fargo-Wachovia Bank on notice that they are in default of their promise to use taxpayers' bail-out funds to save jobs, not destroy them. Message delivered, loud and clear. The pressure is on.

Obama Charges Backwards on Health Care

(Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford has looked closely at the so-called health care reform intentions of the U.S. President, and Ford's harsh critique, published in BAR, is reprinted here.)

Barack Obama, like the little kids that used to appear on Art Linkletter’s TV show, says "the darndest things." He has discovered that the "root cause" of America’s health care cost problem isn’t the insurance companies, or the drug barons, or the hospital corporations. Medicare is the villain. Disastrously, he has created a situation in which health care 'reform' is predicated on stripping Medicare down to the bone.

President Obama made a big to-do in June about taking charge in the health care debate. His phrase-mongers were busy at their specialty: shaping air for their boss to blow without hurting anyone powerful. "Simply put, the status quo is broken," Obama said. "We cannot continue this way. If we do nothing, everyone’s healthcare will be put in jeopardy."

The problem is, status quos are usually arrangements that serve the purposes of those in power, and do not break by themselves. Breaking the status quo requires doing battle with entrenched interests. One cannot cajole, lie or primp one's way out. There is one exit, and that is through struggle.

"We must attack the root causes of skyrocketing health costs," the president told his radio audience, correctly. But of course, fighting the powers-that-be in health care -- the corporations whose quest for mega-profits is the "root cause" of wildly overpriced and criminally ill-distributed health services in the United States -- has never been on Obama’s agenda. Instead, like a McCarthyite searching for communists under the bed, the president pointed a long finger at the imagined culprit: Medicare. Obama then called on Congress to squeeze half a trillion dollars over the next ten years out of Medicare, whose overhead is a fraction of the for-profit health sector.

Obama succeeds only in further alarming what’s left of the Left in his party -- a sport of his, that no doubt makes him feel courageous. Disastrously, he has created a situation in which health care "reform" is predicated on stripping Medicare down to the bone. That's a game the Right would love to play, and Obama has given them the invitation.

Continue reading here.

Blood at the Blockade: Peru's Indigenous Uprising

Highly publicized political events in Honduras, where in late June powerful forces drove the elected President from office, cannot yet be summarized or adequately analyzed – change is happening too fast. But farther south, a less reported but more significant upheaval is brewing in Peru. Gerardo Rénique, who teaches at Queens College in New York City, recently wrote for the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) an in-depth article about the crisis there.

The stakes are high. As Rénique states, Peruvian President Alan García, following the policies of his predecessors, has "tried to give transnational companies -- logging, oil, mining, and pharmaceutical etc. -- unfettered access to the Amazon's riches. The potential plunder not only poses a threat to the very existence of indigenous peoples, but also presents a serious danger to the region’s diverse and fragile ecosystems."

In the aftermath of government-initiated violence June 6 that resulted in multiple civilian deaths, Rénique concludes, "The outcome of this current crisis is highly uncertain. Indigenous are calling for García to resign, while a chorus of groups (newspapers, unions, opposition figures) are at least demanding that García sack cabinet members, particularly Prime Minister [Yehude] Simon and the Minister of the Interior. The police union issued a statement lamenting the death of both the officers and their 'Indian brothers,' while placing the blame for these deaths squarely on García." [Note: July 3, Prime Minister Simon announced that he indeed would resign in July. More Cabinet re-shuffling is expected to follow.]

Read Rénique's entire article here.

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Gaza: Cynthia McKinney Exposes Israel's Brutality and U.S. Silence

Activists seeking to draw world attention to Israel's illegal naval blockade of Gaza got world attention in recent weeks after the Israeli Navy boarded an unarmed relief boat and detained and imprisoned occupants, including Cynthia McKinney, 2008 U.S. Presidential Candidate of the Green Party of the United States.

One of the activists, Mairead Maguire, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Ireland, had said before the boat departed, "I am going to Gaza to show my love and support for the people of Gaza who continue to suffer under Israeli siege and occupation, yet whose spirit of nonviolent resistance inspires all who believe in equality, freedom and justice."

"It is crucial that we continue sending boats to Gaza to challenge Israel's criminal closure on the Strip," said Huwaida Arraf, delegation leader of the June 25th voyage. "Gaza does not need our charity but needs us to stand up against the forces that continue to deliberately deny an entire people their human rights. International donors pledged over $4 billion to rebuild Gaza, and yet none of them are doing anything about the fact that Israel is not allowing any building supplies into Gaza, not to mention thousands of other items such as anaesthetic, oxygen and cancer treatments, chlorine to treat the water supply as well as paper, books and toys for children, even tea and coffee have been banned."

Israel had hoped to quickly deport the activists following the seizure, but McKinney and others refused to cooperate. McKinney forced a court appearance after being jailed. A protest statement she recorded from an Israeli jail July 2 can be heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkPvzSZRuDo. Following her release July 5, McKinney faulted the U.S. government both for accepting the Israeli blockade that prevents humanitarian supplies from reaching Gaza and for failing to press the Israeli government to release the activists arrested and jailed on this relief mission.

Cynthia McKinney in Cyprus prior to the sea voyage to deliver relief supplies to Gaza

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine Calls For Immediate Moratorium On Genetically Modified Foods

(Adapted from an article published by Organic Consumers Association, campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace and democracy.)

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has released its position paper on Genetically Modified foods stating that "GM foods pose a serious health risk" and calling for a moratorium on GM foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes "there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects" and that "GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health." The AAEM calls for:

  • A moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labeling of GM food.
  • Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GM foods.
  • Physicians to consider the role of GM foods in their patients' disease processes.
  • More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GM foods on human health.

"Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients' and the public's health," said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM. "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions," said Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM. "The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil." The AAEM's position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http://aaemonline.org/gmopost.html. AAEM is an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health. More information is available at www.aaemonline.org.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine was founded in 1965, and is an international association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment. The Academy is interested in expanding the knowledge of interactions between human individuals and their environment, as these may be demonstrated to be reflected in their total health. The AAEM provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water.

It Was a Very Good Year

By Paul Kesler

Sung to the tune of "The Battle of New Orleans"
(with apologies to Johnny Horton)

In 2-O-O-9 there was a market crash,
They wasted all their assets and they squandered all their cash;
They tried a little fakin' and a lot of Ponzi schemes,
'Cause they'd been a little skittish since the storm hit New Orleans.

They hired some bums but the mortgages were fallin',
There wasn't quite as many as there was a while ago,
They hired some more but the market kept a-stallin'
Around the Wall Street palaces where paupers couldn't go.

We looked up at the TV screen and saw the financiers,
There must have been a hundred of 'em cryin' phony tears,
They'd flown up to the studio packed in their private planes, 
And here they were a-bitchin' that the people were to blame.

They hired some bums but securities were fallin',
There wasn't quite as many as there was a while ago,
They hired some more but the market kept a-stallin'
Around the trading floor where even suckers wouldn't go.

Joe Sixpack said we could take 'em by surprise
If we raided all the failing banks before the sun could rise.
We planned all night, then we saw their faces swell
When we rounded up the bankers and we really gave 'em…

Well…, they…
hired some bums but the mortgages were fallin',
There wasn't quite as many as there was a while ago,
They hired some more but the market kept a-stallin'
Around the Wall Street palaces where paupers couldn't go.

Yeah, they ran through the lies
And they ran through deceptions
And they made up some excuses
Even Nixon never knew.
It got so strange
All the anchors lost connections:
They ran around the studio till all the fuses blew. 

We pissed on the bankers till their temper melted down,
Then we grabbed an old repeater and we chased 'em through the town.
We finally got 'em cornered in a haberdashery
Then we brought out all our pocket knives and made 'em history.

They hired some bums but securities were fallin',
There wasn't quite as many as there was a while ago,
They hired some more but the market kept a-stallin'
Around the trading floor where even suckers wouldn't go.

Yeah, they ran through the lies
And they ran through deceptions
And they made up some excuses
Even Cheney couldn't know. 
And now we stand with a bad disconnection
Around the sweatshop workers all the way from Mexico.

Labor Solidarity Has No Borders

mural

Activist and muralist Mike Alewitz, associate professor of art at Central Connecticut State University, created this mural in South Central Los Angeles in 1990. Located at the Library for Social Studies and Research, the mural measures approximately 48 feet by 23 feet, and has been described as follows by activist and Ph.D. Eric Gordon: "The mural depicts a mass of working people streaming toward the electrified, barbed-wire Mexican border from the distant, smog-shrouded city of Los Angeles. They wield a magnificent tool of their own creation, designed to cut through the frontier. On the right, the captains of local industry (grapes, wine, garment, pharmaceutical, machine tools, aeronautics, shipbuilding) look on in horror as their profits are threatened. Their mascot, the bloodsucking monster of imperialism, guards the pile of gold that has been created by labor. "On the other side the legions of paper-shuffling bureaucrats, all of them plugged in to the middle class conformity emanating from the TV minority. Overhead, the sun that shines on all breathes out a banner held up by worker-angels, while a projector from the top of the tower spells out of the title of the mural, 'Labor Solidarity has no Borders,' in English, Spanish, Korean and Farsi." In creating the mural, sponsored by Social & Public Art Resource Center and" dedicated to the undocumented workers of the world," Alewitz was assisted by Juan Garcia, Mauricio Cabrera, Lydia Velasquez, and Spark Bookhart.

In addition to his art work and teaching, Mike Alewitz also writes. He authored the next and final acticle in this issue of Green Politics, "Socialists & Social-lites."

Socialists and Social-lites

By Mike Alewitz

It’s been over 100 days. I am now prepared to accept the apologies of those who worked to put Obama in the White House. Remember your effusive praise, how you touted him as being different than Bush? You accused people of being a sectarian, and out of touch with reality, if they refused to vote for him.  You said he was leading a progressive movement - the beginning of a bright new era of politics.

You owe an apology to me and everyone else that spoke the truth about Obama. We said he would continue the Bush policies.  We told you so.

More importantly, you need to express remorse to the millions of working people in this country and around the world that you helped convince to vote for him.  Unlike you, they have nothing to apologize for. They made a mistake, but they did it for the right reasons - they hated what Bush stood for and wanted to express their solidarity as a class – they voted to reject war and racism. They did not understand that the elections are a charade - but you did.

So let me make it clear who I am addressing this to: the union officials, peace activists, staff people for progressive organizations and others who have argued and fought against independent political action – all the longtime activists that have supported one lying, miserable Democratic politician after another as the lesser of two evils – Obama, Kerry, Clinton, Carter, Johnson, ad nausea.

I’ve now been listening to your equivocations and apologies for over 40 years. You cannot see beyond your own little milieu of self-absorbed radicals. You have learned nothing.

Let’s review what your man Obama has accomplished in his first hundred days: revived the military tribunals; refused to address himself to the don’t ask don’t tell policy; decided to keep prisoners in Guantánamo; maintained troops in Iraq; refused to release the pictures of torture; supported the Israeli devastation of Gaza; maintained the US embargo of Cuba; named Cheney’s chief interrogator to head up the war in Afghanistan; refused to bring criminal action against widespread torture; expanded the war in Afghanistan to bomb civilians in Pakistan; given hundreds of billions of dollars to his Wall Street backers; given billions of dollars to the auto industry as a reward for massive layoffs; support for doctor’s refusing a women’s right to abortion. And as a special bonus: preventive detention.

Continue reading here.

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