Posted by TAG - June 30, 2009 | News


This year’s LGBT Pride parade was a photographer’s dream
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — June 30, 2009. LGBT pride was on display Sunday: a vibrant celebration of life and diversity that included the NYPD’s Gay Officers Action League — and marchers demanding an end to the false arrests of gay men targeted by the police department.



(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

LGBT pride was celebrated Sunday on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The weather cooperated — no rain in New York is a news story in itself in 2009 — and the parade was a photographer’s dream.



(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Mixed in with the colorful floats and costumes were various New York City politicians: senator Charles Schumer, congressman Anthony Weiner, congressman Jerry Nadler, city council members John Liu and Bill DeBlasio, civil rights attorney Norm Siegel — a candidate for public advocate, former public advocate Mark Green — who is seeking to regain his old job, state senator Tom Duane, and mayoral candidates Bill Thompson (currently NYC comptroller) and Reverend Billy Talen of the Green Party.



(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

A variety of political causes were also present at the march: marriage equality activists, AIDS research advocates, Private Health Insurance Must Go, various civil rights / legal defense organizations and church based groups from a number of faiths — including Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Jewish and Muslim — many carrying signs saying “All Are Welcome”.



Comptroller Bill Thompson is challenging Mike Bloomberg for the job of Mayor of New York City
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Also marching were members of the “Campaign To Stop The False Arrests”, an organization formed to address the NYPD targeting of gay men for vice squad stings. The NYPD has arrested recently over 30 gay men in an apparent effort to use “prostitution” arrests as evidence to support “nuisance abatement” litigation designed to shut down stores that sell adult videos. The Giuliani administration’s assault on civil liberties, initiated in the name of “quality of life” policing, continues under the Bloomberg administration. Forty years after Stonewall, gay activists report that they continue to struggle against stigma and stereotypes.



Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel is running for public advocate
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The Event…



Charles Barron discussing the Israeli seizure of the Spirit of Humanity
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — June 30, 2009. Troops Out Now is calling an “EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION Against Israeli Piracy and Kidnapping” to be held tomorrow, Wednesday, July 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Israeli Mission: 800 Second Avenue (near 43rd Street).

Earlier today, Troops Out Now issued the following statement:

“Last night, Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

The seizure of humanitarian supplies and abduction of human rights workers is an act of piracy, a crime under international law. When the boat was attacked, it was not in Israeli waters and was on a human rights mission to Gaza. Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on an unarmed boat in international waters is a clear violation of international law. Join us tomorrow from 4 to 6 pm at the Israeli Mission to demand an immediate and unconditional release of the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, all 21 human rights workers, and the humanitarian supplies.

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are ‘trapped in despair.’ Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.”



Charles Barron held a press conference today
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

City council member Charles Barron held a press conference today to discuss the situation. Barron called the seizure an act of piracy and said that not letting humanitarian aid through was an act of genocide. He has contacted the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office to urge action.

Jewish Voice for Peace is also urging people to act. In a statement issued today JVP asked people to “Call your Congressperson and your Senators today. Ask them to call the Israeli Embassy and to call the U.S. State Department demanding that the boat and its occupants be released, together with their humanitarian cargo, and that they be allowed to dock in Gaza.”

Interested persons can find their senator’s contact information HERE

Representatives can be found HERE

Don’t know who your U.S. Representative is? CLICK HERE

ANSWER has created an online petition:
http://www.iacenter.org/palestine/gazashippetition



(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Fran Korotzer contributed to this article.


Cindy Sheehan speaking on Staten Island
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — June 26, 2009. Has the nation’s most prominent “Peace Mom” developed her own class analysis — the answer is Yes and although she avoids much of the jargon her message is essentially Marxian.

***

Cindy Sheehan (born July 10, 1957) is a 51-year-old American anti-war activist and mother of four. Her son Casey was a specialist in the First Cavalry Division when he was killed in action in Baghdad on April 4, 2004. Sheehan got international attention in August 2005 for her extended protest at “Camp Casey”, an encampment outside then President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch. Sheehan ran for Congress (California’s 8th CD) in 2008, losing to incumbent Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who is currently speaker of the House of Representatives. Sheehan cites her race against Pelosi — Sheehan’s first exposure to the reality of the two party system — as a major influence in her current, class-based, analysis of U.S. politics.

On Wednesday, June 24, Cindy Sheehan spoke at the Unitarian Church, the progressive center of Staten Island’s North Shore. The church was packed and it was hot and humid but the enthusiasm of the audience made it clear that no one’s spirits were dampened. Sheehan spoke at the church as part of a nationwide tour to promote her new book, “Myth America: 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution”.



“We protest very stupidly, we go to Washington D.C. on a Saturday…” — Cindy Sheehan
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Sheehan spoke for an hour and focused on four main themes: the “System” itself is the problem, the crimes of Bush and Cheney should be prosecuted, the myths that perpetuate consumerism and false consciousness must be debunked, and the people need to start building a revolution from below. Tying it all together: the idea that a “robber class” is preying on a “robbed class”. Haves and have nots described in language that recalls Bertolt Brecht’s famous quip: “Which is the greater crime — to rob a bank or to own one?”

Sheehan opened with a salvo targeting Barack Obama. Arguing that Obama’s “foreign policies are essentially the same as the Bush administration”, Sheehan said that she was “one of Obama’s earliest and most ardent critics.” Sheehan expressed frustration that the peace movement is sitting idle while Obama expands the Afghan war into “Af-Pak”: the Afghanistan-Pakistan war.

“Where is the anti-war movement?” Sheehan asked the crowd.

Noting that Obama voted for the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) extension as well as the renewal of the Patriot Act, two Bush era pieces of legislation that abridged basic liberties, Sheehan argued that the problem is that Obama is part of a broken system. A system run by a “robber class” which includes both Democrats and Republicans who do not serve their constituents but their (upper) class interests:

“The House of Representatives is supposed to be the people’s house,” Sheehan said. “When the Democrats conspired with Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson and the Bush administration for the ‘bankster’ bailouts I started seeing that it was more of a class divide than a political divide,” she added.

It was this realization that gave birth to Sheehan’s class analysis.

“They take our money, they take our labor, they take our wealth, they take our land. And they even take our children to kill in their robber class wars — and kill other people’s children in their robber class wars,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan spoke about the crimes of Bush and Cheney and condemned the complicity of elected officials in not prosecuting Bush for war crimes. Her conclusion: a revolution is necessary to establish democracy in the U.S. This revolution will not be a violent overthrow, Sheehan said, but an unraveling of foundational myths that would expose the true nature of capitalism and social class in America — and a grassroots efforts to set things right by building a new society.

Towards this end, Sheehan decided to formalize her class analysis by writing a book which she entitled “Myth America: 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution”.

Top Ten lists are popular – here is Cindy Sheehan’s:

“Myth America:
10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class
and the Case for Revolution”



Cindy Sheehan — conflict theorist?
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

  • Myth One: America: Greatest Nation in the Universe!
  • Myth Two: Elections Matter
  • Myth Three: There’s a huge Difference Between Dems and Repubs
  • Myth Four: It is Noble to Die in Robber Class Wars
  • Myth Five: The Federal Reserve Cares About You
  • Myth Six: It’s a Privilege to pay Income Taxes to the Robber Class
  • Myth Seven: Housing, Health Care and Education are Privileges, too
  • Myth Eight: America has a Free Press
  • Myth Nine: The Environment, Who Needs it?
  • Myth Ten: 19 Muslims with box cutters were responsible for 9/11
  • In the book, available on the internet, Sheehan challenges ten common beliefs that act in concert to subvert democracy. Outlining what she sees as the ideology of “Myth America”, Sheehan argues that the solution to the misuse of myth and mystification by corrupt politicians is to foment a nonviolent revolution from below, a revolution to be accomplished via the building of “healthy subsystems” that will ultimately replace The System. These communities would bring people together to build democratic structures at the local level — not unlike Murray Bookchin’s libertarian municipalism or the Wobblies’ idea of building a new society in the shell of the old.



    “We need to … very slowly and very subversively remove ourselves from their system.” — Cindy Sheehan
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    Sheehan described her revolution as a process that will require participants to “very slowly, very subversively, remove ourselves from their system.”

    The specifics of her plan include: joining food growing cooperatives, using credit unions instead of for-profit banks, joining local parent-teacher associations and community boards, running for local office, recycling, “park(ing) your car” and using mass transit, not using credit cards, buying used items, supporting local merchants, supporting local service/repair shops, and learning to “make do” with less than the latest consumer goods.

    Although she has formalized a class analysis — and taken on the role of conflict theorist — Sheehan remains a “Peace Mom”. She urged the crowd to stop war, using what she sees as the only really effective means available to ordinary people: to stop children from enlisting in the military. She acknowledged that in the current economy this is difficult but argued that a way must be found to offer children options other than military service.

    Sheehan wrapped up her talk by mentioning the need to support alternative, progressive media, including her own show, cindysheehanssoapbox.com – and to encourage others to do the same. She asked the crowd to perform “soapbox actions” – to talk to friends and neighbors about war and its causes, to build community, and to educate and inform the public — one person at a time.

    “Turn off TV news,” Sheehan said, urging people to tune into cindysheehanssoapbox.com. “I haven’t talked once about if Jon is divorcing Kate or Kate’s divorcing Jon,” she said.

    View Photos/Videos From The Event…



    City Council member John Liu spoke at the SIDA meeting
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — June 16, 2009. Two New York City Council members made the journey to Staten Island Tuesday evening. John Liu and Bill de Blasio attended a meeting of the Island’s most progressive Democratic Party club — hoping to grab endorsements. Liu is running for city comptroller and de Blasio is running for public advocate. They were joined by a former public advocate who wants his old job back.

    The Staten Island Democratic Association met Tuesday to endorse candidates for two key New York City races: comptroller and public advocate. SIDA did endorse a candidate for comptroller but were not able to select a public advocate candidate.

    The current public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, is legally entitled to run for a third term but she will not seek re-election. Last spring, Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced legislation into the city council that overturned two previous public referendums on term limits. This machination cleared the way for Bloomberg to seek a third term as mayor. It also allowed Gotbaum to seek a third term as public advocate but she has declined to run as she was vigorous in her opposition to Bloomberg’s use of mayoral clout to override the will of the voters.

    With Gotbaum stepping down, there are three high profile Democrats seeking the public advocate position. Each of the three campaigns made their case Tuesday evening.


    Former public advocate Mark Green
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    Addressing the crowd first was the former public advocate and self described “independent progressive Democrat” Mark Green, who is running to regain his old job. Green promised to do the right thing by New York’s progressive community if they support him in his bid to succeed Gotbaum.

    “I am not an election year friend of yours going to rallies to do things that are urgent and popular…if you help me get into office I will do what I’ve always done: work and help you as an independent Democrat,” Green said.



    Bill de Blasio was a leader in the struggle to preserve term limits
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    City council member Bill de Blasio spoke after Green. De Blasio was a leader in the effort to stop Bloomberg from changing the term limits rule without a public referendum. In his remarks to the SIDA, de Blasio noted that the courts were remarkably deferential towards Bloomberg, considering that the Mayor’s maneuver nullified two referendums. De Blasio indicated that this is an indication that a forceful advocate is needed and he pledged to be a representative of the will of the people should he be elected to that position. Bill de Blasio was well received by SIDA, however, another candidate — not present at the meeting — fared better than Green or de Blasio.

    Civil rights attorney Norm Siegel, well known to many political activists and organizers on Staten Island. [Siegel joined Frank Barbaro as part of the “Fossella Five” defense team after NLN editor Thomas Good and four others were arrested for a sit-in at then congressman Vito Fossella’s office in 2007]. Peter Killen spoke on Siegel’s behalf and was well received. However, the vote to endorse a candidate for public advocate was split three ways and although Siegel got the most votes he did not have enough of a majority to secure an endorsement. Consequently, SIDA did not endorse any candidate in the public advocate race.

    James Pocchia, the Democratic Party candidate for city council (50th District — mid-Island), spoke briefly and was endorsed by SIDA.

    Well known progressive Democrat, community organizer and civil rights activist Debi Rose, who lost a crowded special election to Democrat Ken Mitchell by some 400 votes in February, is running against Mitchell in a primary this September. She easily secured the endorsement of SIDA.



    John Liu
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    City council member John Liu, who was also an outspoken opponent of Bloomberg’s term limit legislation, spoke last — and was endorsed by SIDA.

    Liu is running for comptroller and looks to replace the outgoing Bill Thompson — who is running for mayor. Thompson represents the most serious challenge to Bloomberg. Bloomberg, whose net worth increased from $5 to $20 billion during his tenure as mayor, has already spent over $20 million on television ads to promote his re-election campaign. Perhaps because of this cash outlay, Bloomberg has beaten Thompson two to one in recent polls but the Thompson campaign has been in stealth mode and has not been able to match Bloomberg’s spending. Thompson’s fortunes may improve once he begins campaigning in earnest.

    Also in the mayoral race is Reverend Billy Talen, the activist-actor, who is running on the Green Party line.

    Council member Liu spoke at length to the progressive crowd and was critical of Bloomberg’s claims that the city’s school system has improved since it was placed under mayoral control. Liu argued that, as students are doing better on state tests than on federal exams, the improved showing indicates only that the Bloomberg administration is pressuring teachers to “teach to the test” rather than to impart knowledge.

    Liu promised that, should he be elected, he will create a budget that serves all New Yorkers.

    View Photos/Videos From The Meeting…


    (Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

    NEW YORK — On Tuesday, June 16, the New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five (Comite de Nueva York por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos) held a protest at 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan. The protest was called in response to the recent Supreme Court decision not to review the controversial case of the “Cuban Five”: activists imprisoned for organizing against anti-Cuban terrorism — terrorism that is alleged to be U.S. sponsored.

    The Cuban Five have been imprisoned since 1998. The five were convicted and sentenced in the U.S. on charges their supporters describe as “fabricated”. The charges range from espionage to conspiracy to commit murder. Conversely, the right-wing organizations the Cuban Five monitored continue their activities — unimpeded by the U.S. government.


    (Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

    The trial and subsequent convictions were condemned by the U.N. Human Rights Commission, activists, legal scholars, and Nobel laureates. Supporters have consistently argued that world opinion is against the “wrongful and continued imprisonment” of the Cuban Five.

    “In spite of the solid arguments made by the defense attorneys from the obvious and multiple legal violations committed during the whole trial, by ignoring the universal backing to the petition — expressed by an unprecedented number of ‘friend of the Court’ briefs, among them 10 Nobel prize recipients, hundreds of parliamentarians, and numerous U.S. and international jurist organizations, of outstanding political and academic personalities — the Supreme Court rejected the case, thus ignoring the demand of Humanity and its obligation to do justice,” according to the website www.antiterroristas.cu.

    Supporters of the Cuban Five gathered outside the Federal Building on Tuesday, June 16, to demand justice and immediate freedom for the Five and their families.

    View Photos From The Event…

    For more information:

    New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five
    55 West 17th Street, Suite # 5c
    New York, NY 10011
    Phone: (212) 633-6646
    www.nyfreethefive.org

    Posted by Elaine Brower - June 14, 2009 | News

    The Contagious Love Experiment meets Staten Island Activists



    Iraq War veteran and conscientious objector Josh Stieber
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — June 13, 2009. On Saturday afternoon, activists from Staten Island and some who traveled from the City via ferry boat, got together at a local coffee shop called “The Cup” located in a very bohemian section of an island that is basically all residentially occupied by middle class families in hi-ranch homes. They came to participate in an intimate, yet intense, conversation with Josh Stieber. Josh is a recent member of Iraq Veterans Against the War or IVAW, and spent 14 months as an Army gunner in Baghdad, Iraq, as part of the “surge”. In April he was granted the status of “conscientious objector” after a year long struggle with the Army. Upon his military “release” he decided to start a journey not only geographically around the Country, but spiritually and emotionally. Josh researched various peace organizations and then started walking from Washington, D.C., his home, over 2 weeks ago.



    Elaine Brower introduces Stieber
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    The room at The Cup was filled with band equipment, old photos of Beatles Album covers, posters from the radical Sixties and vintage furniture. But the discussion was focused on the problems this current generation is facing with wars on many fronts that seem to have no end in sight. Those attending ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-fifties, all intently listening to Josh recount his journey from joining the Army right out of high school with the fervor of a young boy who wanted to serve his country and help people who were being oppressed by a brutal dictator halfway across the world.



    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    He spoke about how in middle school he witnessed the terrorist attacks of 9-11, saw the Pentagon destruction up close and personal, and decided at that point that he wanted to serve his Country. Raised by an extremely religious and right wing family, he was sure his future was set in the path he had chosen.

    In his search for the “good in humanity” he has walked the roads, slept in the woods and on the couches of strangers, and took rides from those who feared for his safety while walking through neighborhoods that might be unsafe.

    He spoke of the steps he took in the realization of his mind that got him to this point in his young life of 21 years. While in boot camp, his first realization that he was either not understanding the military life or not cut out for it was when they had them marching to cadences that promoted killing and bloodshed, then watching violent videos of “terrorists” being blown apart with the backdrop of rock music. While in Iraq, he realized that they weren’t really helping anyone there, they were just trying to stay alive and come home, which meant killing anyone who prevented them from reaching that goal.



    Josh Stieber’s story was compelling and inspiring to forum participants
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    Josh recounted one particular incident when his platoon was called out to the streets where Iraqis were angrily protesting against the American occupation. Their job was to clear the streets, and arrest the protesters. In his mind, he realized that if the citizens of this country wanted them gone, then what were they doing there. If our cities had occupiers, wouldn’t we do the same thing?

    Through his transition from “my country, right or wrong” to questioning his country’s motives, he read books that helped him delve deeper into the history of US empire and conquests, and included in that religious history. At a point in time when he was given leave in anticipation of coming back home for a month, he decided that he must not “train to kill” any longer. His plan was to take all his combat pay, and walk to Indiana to return it to the government payroll offices. He said he would take the consequences of jail if he had to. But after returning home to his family, discussing his plan, much to the horror of his loved ones, they helped him find another way.



    A Vietnam War veteran asks a question
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    It took one long year of diligently repeating to the Army, including his Staff Sgt that he would no longer “train to kill.” His platoon had mixed reactions, he recalls. Some who knew him and knew he truly meant what he said, stood by him, but others ridiculed him, including his staff sergeant who called him a “coward, slacker and terrorist.” But he was determined to show them that he was honest, was not shirking work, and eventually won him over. By the time his conscientious objector status review process was finalizing, the same staff sergeant who was angered over his refusal to “train to fight” helped him reach his goal.



    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

    On a final note, I met Josh through the internet. A notice came via email that an Iraq vet was on a journey to find the good in “humanity” after witnessing so much horror and hatred, and that he needed help and housing. I responded immediately that I had a vacancy in my home since my son who recently returned from Iraq himself, moved out and left his bedroom empty. What a fitting place for Josh to stay, in my son’s room one Iraq vet to another.

    Although is was a small gathering, and an intimate setting, it was an extremely powerful and gripping story spoken by citizen Josh Stieber. We were glad to welcome him and hope his quest to find the best in humanity is safe, pleasant and rewarding.

    View Photos/Videos From The Event…



    Visit The Contagious Love Experiment

    Posted by Michael Steven Smith - June 8, 2009 | Obituary

    NEW YORK (Special) — After battling recurrent cancers for half his life, Alan Berkman died in Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City around seven o’clock in the evening of June 5, 2009. He was under a death sentence with a cancer that was going to kill him. He chose to try a risky stem cell transplant procedure where he first had to have chemo-therapy to knock out his own stem cells and then replace them with the stem cells of a donor. Even finding the donor was difficult, the holocaust having significantly narrowed the gene pool of persons who might have a match. One was found. Alan entered the hospital knowing he might not get out. He understood what his doctors were telling him. He himself was a doctor, a sixties graduate of Columbia’s school for physicians and surgeons and now a professor there in the school of public health.


    Alan Berkman
    (Photo: Columbia University)

    Alan was first struck by cancer when he was in prison. He served eight years, four of them in solitary. He diagnosed himself. But to no avail. The authorities would do nothing, as if they wanted him to die. They must have hated Alan. A communist. A Jew. A doctor. A supporter of blacks and latinos and native Americans at the second battle of Wounded Knee. They knew his history. It was quite a dossier. A sixties radical. SDS. Active in the anti-war movement. A practicing doctor in New York’s poor neighborhoods. Forced underground for years because he wouldn’t give up the name of a woman he treated for a gunshot wound she got in a failed Brinks truck robbery that killed two cops and a security guard in Rockland County. Then arrested and convicted and doing hard time in a maximum security prison. He helped a cop killer. And now he is in our hands. But Alan was unbent and unbowed. He was tough.

    Finally his family and attorneys got him medical attention. He told me they operated on him while handcuffed to a gurney. Deep stomach surgery where the muscles need to be cut. When he awoke from anesthesia they took the handcuffs off and made him get up off the gurney and walk. He got cancer again before getting out on parol. Amazingly Bill Kunstler and Ron Kuby prevented the State from taking away his medical license. He started working as an AIDS doctor in the South Bronx.

    That’s when I met him. About twenty years ago. He helped me on a case. We drove out to Brooklyn to see the client and then had dinner, the first of many. A steak and a martini. Alan and Barbara, Debby and me. We four. Good friends and comrades.

    We went back to that restaurant a couple of weeks ago, just before Alan checked into Memorial. We thought we would see him the next week at the event honoring him and Dr. David Hoos for co- founding HEALTH GAP. But that was not to be. His doctors couldn’t give him the time and he was whisked into the hospital for first the chemo and then the transplant. Alan got the new cells but died before they could take root.

    When HEALTH GAP was formed with the help of ACT UP and HOUSING WORKS the anti-viral AIDS medicine “cocktail” cost ten to fifteen thousand dollars a year. Big pharma controlled manufacturing and distribution with their intellectual property rights. Alan helped change that, not having the requisite respect for private property. Now the drugs cost about eight-seven dollars a year and some four million people are taking the medicine, prolonging their lives.

    Alan wasn’t religious. Religion to him was superstition. Being part of a sect was too narrow and confining for Alan. The Jewish heretic who transcends Jewry belongs to a Jewish tradition. The historian Isaac Deutscher had a phrase for it, “the non-Jewish Jew.” Alan was in line with the great Jewish heretics, rebels, and revolutionaries of modern thought; Spinoza, Heine, Marx, Luxemburg, Trotsky, Freud, and Einstein. They too went beyond the boundaries of Judaism, finding it too narrow, archaic, constricting.

    I don’t wish to stretch the comparison. Alan was not so much a radical thinker as a man of action. But his intellectual understanding – and he was well educated and widely read – powered his activity. He had in common with these great thinkers the idea that for knowledge to be real it must be acted upon. As Marx observed: “Hitherto philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point however is to change it.”

    Like his intellectual predecessors Alan saw reality in a state of flux, as dynamic not static, and he was aware of the constantly changing and contradictory nature of society. Alan was essentially an optimist and shared with the great Jewish revolutionaries and optimistic belief in humanity and a belief in the solidarity of humankind.

    The stem cell procedure failed to save him. Alan Berkman has passed, but his work and his example have taken root. Goodbye dear friend. We all remember you with the two best words in our language: Love and Solidarity.

    Michael Steven Smith
    New York City
    June 6, 2009

    Posted by TAG - June 7, 2009 | News


    Members of the Big Apple Corps marched on Saturday
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     

    STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — On Saturday, June 6, 2009, Staten Island’s LGBT community, elected officials and peace movement activists turned out on a beautiful day for a festive gay pride march through the North Shore. NLN was there and captured the moment.


    City Council member Ken Mitchell
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    Celebrating Life
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    Co-Grand Marshall Reverend Michael Delaney
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    Co-Grand Marshall Chris Bauer
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    Rev. Terry Troia, director of the Project Hospitality homeless shelter
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    A few pets got in on the fun
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    Assemblyman Matt Titone and State Senator Diane Savino
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    Marriage Now!
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    MDS and Peace Action in the house
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     


    The message of the day: “Support us, we’re human too.”
    (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

     

    View Photos/Videos From The Event…

    Posted by Fran Korotzer - | News


    (Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

    NEW YORK — On June 3, about 450 people came out on a stormy night to attend a town hall meeting at the N.Y. Society for Ethical Culture. The subject was “torture and the need for justice”. The belief being that for a future without torture we have to start by dealing with the past – the 2,000 torture photos being held back should be released and the people responsible for the torture policy should be punished. There was an excellent group of speakers – each approaching the subject from a different angle. Between each speech three actors read poetry written by prisoners from Guantanomo.


    Jeremy Scahill
    (Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

    Investigative journalist, Jeremy Scahill, said that torture at Guantanomo continues today. There is an extra-judicial terror squad there called the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF). In effect they are a thug squad that dresses in black, their faces hidden, and they severely beat prisoners, gouge eyes, stick heads in toilets, and bang heads on concrete floors for the slightest rule infraction. He also pointed out that there are now 250,000 private mercenaries fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He believes that too many people are urging patience with Obama and to give him more time, but as long as people are being killed and tortured we should not be urging patience.


    Michael Ratner
    (Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

    Michael Ratner, a lawyer who represents prisoners at Guantanomo, said that a Democratic Guantanomo is no better than a Republican Guantanomo and it is now Obama’s Guantanomo. Torture is not about getting information – it is about suppression and domination. He discussed Obama’s speech calling for indefinite preventive detention (being held forever without being charged with a crime) as un-American, unconstitutional, and a sign of a declining empire.


    Chris Hedges
    (Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

    Chris Hedges, who, as a war correspondent, saw torture taking place in the wars he covered all over the world, said that torture is a weapon of war, part of the us vs. them culture of war. It is inevitable, part of the dehumanization, the need to enhance death. It has a centrifugal force sucking others into it. Once these forces are unleashed they cannot be held back – we develop a class or torturers that can be used at any time to suppress people abroad or at home. He concluded that empire destroys democracy.


    Sister Dianna Ortiz
    (Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

    The most devastating part of the evening was the speech of Sister Dianna Ortiz, a torture victim herself, from Guatemala, who has worked with torture survivors for 10 years. She is the founder and director of Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International. She said there are characteristics shared by all torture survivors: loss of control, dignity, security,and hope. Eventually all beg to die. These feelings do not end when the torture ends. They feel shame. Close relationships are difficult because they can’t trust. They do not feel alive, ever. Suicides occur 20 years after the torture. She ended with the following quote from Yehuda Bauer, a holocaust historian, “Thou shall not be a victim; Thou shall not be a perpetrator; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander”.


    Click HERE to view slideshow

    View Photos/Videos From The Event…

    Posted by TAG - | Editorial




    Politicians experiencing erections lasting longer than two terms…
    should seek immediate help.
    (Image: Thomas Good / NLN)