Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Emergency Demo to support Gaza Freedom March - Dec. 31

Emergency Demonstration:
Thursday Dec 31, 1 pm

Protest Egypt's refusal to allow Gaza Freedom March to enter Gaza

304 East 44th St. (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave)

The government of Egypt continues to deny international activists from the Gaza Freedom March and also from Viva Palestina's humanitarian aid convoy access to the Gaza Strip. This clearly demonstrates the Egyptian Government's complicity with Israel in maintaining the illegal and devastating blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Marking the one-year anniversary of the December 2008 Israeli invasion that left more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead, the Gaza Freedom March is a grassroots global response to the inaction on the part of world leaders and institutions. 12 Brooklynites, including 2 BFP members, are in Cairo with the Gaza Freedom March.
Tell Egypt to open its border with the Gaza Strip, let people and goods in and out!

Thursday December 31st, 1 PM

304 East 44th St. (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009



Please join the War Resisters League in supporting its members and allies who are part of this historic international delegation against the Israeli siege on Gaza. Put pressure on the Egyptian government to open up the Gaza-Egypt border and let the Gaza Freedom March proceed!

From The Gaza Freedom March Steering Committee:

December 21, 2009

We are determined to break the siege
We all will continue to do whatever we can to make it happen

Using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us yesterday that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege, that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now. We both agreed to continue our exchanges.

Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we've encountered-and overcome--before. No delegation, large or small, that entered Gaza over the past 12 months has ever received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.

Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and march on December 31 against the Israeli blockade. We are continuing in the same direction.

Call the Egyptian embassy and ask your elected official to call on your behalf. Contact your local media/press to tell them you are going to Gaza. Egyptian embassies and missions all over the world must hear from us and our supporters (by phone, fax and email) over the coming crucial days, with a clear message: Let the international delegation enter Gaza and let the Gaza Freedom March proceed.

Contact your local consulate here:

Contact the Palestine Division in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cairo
Ahmed Azzam, Email:

In the U.S., email Omar Youssef at the Egyptian Embassy,

War Resisters League
339 Lafayette Street | New York, NY 10012
212.228.0450 |

Monday, December 21, 2009

Up in the Air: a review

So Saturday eve we went (with our friends Barbara & Eli) to see Up in the Air. It's like no other movie you've ever seen, but I'm not sure that's a good thing. George Clooney - who I think is the last real movie star - is brilliant. But the character he plays is an empty vessel. He works for a company that sends people out to fire people. That's it, just to fire people. Although it's only mentioned once or twice, their main purpose is to prevent the people being fired from suing. Their job is to convince those being fired that this is a new beginning - at whatever age or qualifications. In order to be able to do this day-after-day, year-after-year, one has to be an emotional void. Of course, Clooney is his usual charming self. He travels many miles up in the air. One day he meets a beautiful woman (Vera Farmiga) in an airport bar, she accompanies him back to his room and they have sex. They meet from time to time, when it's mutually convenient to indulge themselves. Finally he invites her to his sister's wedding and he begins to believe there is something more happening than just convenient sex. She has a secret that will ultimately turn him back into an empty firing automaton. At the same time a young woman (Anna Kendrick) shows up at his company with an internet strategy for firing people. In other words, let's make the process less human, more abstract. She becomes his protege. He wants to keep the firing process what its always been, she wants to make it less personal. He wins this battle, but they lose the war - he in his relationship with his occasional lover, she with the job.

The movie appears to be in touch with a contemporarily high unemployment rate. But it's effectively empty. None of the three main characters is worth rooting for. Sure there are some laughs, really fine performances but at its heart (which it doesn't have) Up in the Air is an almost empty two hours.

Up in the Air will almost surely be nominatec for an Oscar - it was chosen the best film of 2009 by the National Board of Review, it captured six Golden Globe nominations But it was left out of the list of movies receiving nominations for their ensemble casts, Screen Actors Guild's equivalent of a best picture award. Instead, the SAG nominating committee opted for "Inglorious Basterds" and "Precious" along with Sony Pictures Classics' British period drama "An Education," Summit's Iraq War film "The Hurt Locker" and the Weinstein Co.'s Roman disaster of a musical "Nine."

If you want to see how totally cannibalistic capitalism can be, Up in the Air will show you.

Dec. 22, Hearing in ACORN v. U.S.A.

Hearing in ACORN v. U.S.A.

Tuesday, December 22, 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM
(Arrive early for security and seating)

United States District Court Eastern District of New York,
225 Cadman Plaza East, (Room 6D)
Brooklyn, New York

Last week the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) celebrated a major victory in our case on behalf of ACORN over congressional de-funding, but we have to go back to court tomorrow and we hope you will come show your support if you can.

The case charged Congress with violating the Bill of Attainder provision in the U.S. Constitution by singling out an organization for punishment without a fair investigation and trial, violating the Fifth Amendment right to due process, and infringing on the First Amendment right to freedom of association by targeting affiliated and allied organizations as well. And the judge agreed. Two days later, Congress passed a new budget that included three specific references targeting ACORN for de-funding, and we are asking the judge to amend her decision to include these new violations of the law. Join CCR tomorrow, Tuesday, December 22, 2009 to pack the court to make it loud and clear that Congress cannot act as judge, jury and executioner.

The U.S. Constitution forbids lawmakers from singling out a person or group for punishment in order to protect against political retribution without due process. We asked the judge to amend her decision granting an injunction against Congress' unconstitutional de-funding of ACORN to apply it to the new federal budget provisions that President Obama signed into law last week. The United States has also filed papers asking the judge to reconsider her December 11 ruling and set it aside.

For more information on ACORN v. USA, please visit CCR's website. Join us to show solidarity with ACORN and to make sure the right does not continue its unconstitutional targeting of progressive organizations.

We hope to see you in court.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Deaths to note: Liam Clancy & Bess Lomax Hawes

I was sad to hear of the death of Liam Clancy, the last remaining member of the extraordinary Irish band - The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. There were many nights in the Village of the 1960s and 1970s that would not have been the same without Liam, Tom, Paddy and Tommy Makem at the Lion's Head and the old Limelight. No matter how popular they became the Clancys were never too big to join us late at night. The alcohol didn't hurt either. As we all know the music was an integral part of the politics of those years and the Clancy Brothers were a very important part of that music. Culture and politics are never really separable. They taught us a whole new way to hear Irish music and to think about Irish politics.

Although I wasn't as familiar with Bess Lomax Hawes as with Liam Clancy, anyone who sang with Woody and Pete deserves to be remembered. She was part of the Almanac Singers in the 1940s with Woody, Milard Lampell, Pete, Arthur Stern and Sis Cunningham. For those of you who are knowledgeable about ethnomusicology, Bess Lomax Hawes was the daughter of folk song collector John A. Lomax and the sister of Alan Lomax.

Both Liam Clancy (and the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem) and Bess Lomax Hawes should be remembered as key parts of our movement.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dec. 14, New York City Labor Chorus mini-concert

Monday, Dec. 14, 6-8 PM

New York City Labor Chorus mini concert

CWA local 1180
6 Harrison St. (at Hudson)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

12/8: Book party for The Tyranny of Oil

Tuesday, December 8, 7 pm
Book Talk & Party

7 pm - Book Talk with Author Antonia Juhasz
8pm on... - partying until you want to leave

Eight Mile Creek
240 Mulberry Street (bt Prince and Spring)
(212) 431-4615

Author, Antonia Juhasz, will speak about her book, The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry--And What We Must Do To Stop It,
just released in paperback: updated with a new preface: "Big Oil and the Obama Presidency."

with a special appearance by The Yes Men!

Film award season begins: The National Board of Review

The film award season begins with the National Board of Review:
Best Film: UP IN THE AIR
Best Director: CLINT EASTWOOD, Invictus

Best Actor(s) (a tie): GEORGE CLOONEY, Up In The Air; MORGAN FREEMAN, Invictus
Best Actress: CAREY MULLIGAN, An Education
Best Supporting Actor: WOODY HARRELSON, The Messenger
Best Supporting Actress: ANNA KENDRICK, Up In The Air
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: JEREMY RENNER, The Hurt Locker
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: GABOUREY SIDIBE, Precious

Best Foreign Language Film: A PROPHET
Best Documentary: THE COVE
Best Animated Feature: UP

Best Ensemble Cast: IT’S COMPLICATED

Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut: DUNCAN JONES, Moon; OREN MOVERMAN, The Messenger; MARC WEBB, (500) Days of Summer
Best Original Screenplay: JOEL AND ETHAN COEN, A Serious Man
Best Adapted Screenplay: JASON REITMAN and SHELDON TURNER, Up In The Air
Special Filmmaking Achievement Award: WES ANDERSON, The Fantastic Mr. Fox
William K. Everson Film History Award: JEAN PICKER FIRSTENBERG

Ten Best Films
(in alphabetical order)


Read more at Film School Rejects: Nat’l Board of Review Takes Up in the Air as Best Picture - Film School Rejects

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy: Obama & Afghanistan

There are many things I could say about our escalation of the "war"in Afghanistan, but I'm going to let Pete Seeger say it for me:

Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

As always Pete nails it.

But although I don't agree with Obama's decision to escalate the "war" in Afghanistan, he has always been clear: Iraq bad, Afghanistan good. He just happens to be wrong.