Posted by Fran Korotzer - September 29, 2010 | News

The panel at Brooklyn Law School: Fatima Mohammadi, Rashid Khalidi and Glenn Greenwald
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

“The fact finding mission concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to detention.”

Summary of the report of the international fact finding mission to investigate violations of international law.
Human Rights Council
15th Session Agenda Item 7

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — September 22, 2010. On September 22nd the Brooklyn Law School was the site of a most interesting panel discussion on the subject, Flotilla: Fact, Fiction and the Law. The speakers were Fatima Mohammadi, a lawyer who was part of the flotilla and aboard the Mavi Marmara when Israeli commandos attacked the ship, Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer, news analyst on Washington Journal (C-Span), Majority Report (Air America), and To The Point (Public Radio International), blogger, and columnist, and Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He was also an advisor to the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid peace conference (1991) and has been a guest on many TV and radio shows. The event was sponsored by: Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY, Muslim Law Students Association at BLS, Islamic Law Students Association at BLS, National Lawyers Guild – BLS Chapter, Adalah-NY, and Brooklyn for Peace. Months after the flotilla to Gaza was attacked there was still great interest in hearing what these speakers had to say. The auditorium at the BLS Subotnik Center was filled to capacity and people had to be turned away.

Fatima Mohammadi
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Fatima Mohammadi spoke first. She is an activist who has been in Gaza several times and has witnessed the horrific living conditions there. Mohammadi brought a part of the Cultures of Resistance film that was successfully smuggled off the Mavi Marmara when the IDF was searching and confiscating all the photos and videos from the passengers so that there would be nothing to counter the Israeli line fed to the press after the assault. It was a very good copy of the video and she did a commentary as the video was viewed which was very helpful in understanding exactly what was happening at several points. It showed the arrival of the Zodiac boats in the pre-dawn darkness, blood splattered on the walls before the helicopter arrival (Israel claimed that the IDF only shot passengers as the IDF came down from the helicopters), commandos shooting from the upper deck before the arrival of the helicopters arrived, red laser lights from the weapons targeting people on a lower deck, also before the helicopters arrived, and a book with photographs of some of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara that was confiscated from an Israeli soldier. It is not known if it was meant to be a hit list or a capture alive list. Passengers could be seen throwing onions at the soldiers and using a sling shot against a helicopter. There were many people bleeding from gunshot wounds. That was the only kind of injury, indicating that they had made no direct physical contact with the commandos. Passengers were carrying them below deck where others were desperately trying to save them. The injured were surprisingly calm. Several had been taking photographs at the time they were shot.

Mohammadi said that the Israelis gave no medical aid to the injured and dying until hours later when the ship docked in Israel. The air conditioning was turned off on the ship and she could smell the blood of those injured in the next room. She sat with the captain’s one year old son sleeping on her lap. A soldier, face covered by the black hood he was wearing, kept looking at the child. She asked him if he had a son too. His response was to point his weapon at the head of the sleeping child.

One passenger onboard, an Australian, who was badly injured was taken to an Israeli hospital for surgery when they docked. He said the doctors there treated him well but the soldier guarding him beat him while he was in the hospital.

At one point she stopped the video – there was too much to see (it can be viewed on line: youtube – Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara).

She said that Israel had circulated lies about the events that night. There were no weapons on the ship. People fought the commandos that attacked them with objects at hand – like tools. The purpose of the flotilla was not to anger or provoke Israel. It was to help the people of Gaza and show them that they are not forgotten. It was also to call the attention of the world to what was happening there. When Mohammadi was there last year she spoke to parents who had to walk around picking up their children’s body parts after Operation Cast Lead. One family lost 29 members leaving only 4 little girls, now orphans, alive.

Today people all over the world are raising money to send a ship in the flotilla this fall. In the U.S. fundraising continues. “Do you have any idea of the effect, the symbolism, that will have?”, she asked. It will be a repudiation of the U.S. policy of unlimited aid to Israel. This fall there will be 3 efforts to break the blockade. A convoy going overland through Europe to get aid to Gaza through the Raffah crossing. Then the Viva Palestina convoy which will travel through Europe to Syria where they will take a ferry. Then, finally, another flotilla which the U.S. boat, the Audacity of Hope, flying an American flag, will be part of. The 3 groups will be bringing mostly building supplies and prefab housing so that the homes, schools, hospitals and roads destroyed in Operation Cast Lead can be repaired.

When the people in the last flotilla were released after spending a few days in an Israeli jail they were met by people from their country’s consulates but the Americans were not – no government officials were there for them.

She ended by saying that all had a role to play in this struggle. Put your body on the line by going on a convoy or make a financial contribution, support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and spread the truth.

Glenn Greenwald
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Glenn Greenwald spoke next. He said he was going to focus on what it was about this episode that resonated and caused such a strong reaction. The condemnation around the world was more visceral than we’ve seen before. Diplomatic leaders abandoned niceties. It was hard to see a ship with a humanitarian mission be attacked with such brutal aggression. Lives were wiped out in cold blood for no reason. U.S. commentators were struck dumb – they didn’t reflexively defend Israel. In the first few days the pro-Israel propaganda machine was disoriented, stunned by the criticism in the U.S. media but after about 3 days they had their story down: the people on the ship were the true aggressors, they were terrorists. How the Israeli and the U.S. propaganda apparatus responded is a potent illustration for how fiction, or lies, could deceive. It showed how suffocating and false our discourse is and how the pro-Israel propaganda is maintained in the U.S. media.

The legal issues were totally distorted. First, the IDF seized all documentary evidence of what took place. Then they arrested all on board the Mavi Marmara and the other ships so Israel could create their own narrative without contradiction. Israel created a video that began in the middle of the event. It looked like the passengers on the ship initiated the aggression, fighting the IDF when they climbed down from the helicopters (which they would have had the right to do since this was an act of piracy on international waters). The manipulated video didn’t start with the actual beginning of the event – the Zodiacs filled with commandos attacking the passengers. A video can be started at any point in an event to make it look like the other party started the aggression. As unsophisticated as this attempt was, U.S. media kept showing the video without questioning it. Greenwald added, imagine if 2 sides are in a dispute and 1 side gets to hold back and manipulate the evidence. You ought not trust what you are being shown but there was no skepticism. Israel refused to release videos made on the ship and because of that the finger of guilt should have been pointed at them. Instead the lies went unchallenged. Once again they were allowed to present themselves as a victim, as always and without deviation.

Continue Reading…

Vigilers remember local basketball champ Sandy Brock
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — September 23, 2010. On Thursday, family members who have lost loved ones to gun violence gathered at the Mt. Sinai United Christian Church to remember their fallen children and to organize to take back the streets and to put an end to violence in their community.

Organized by “Shoot Hoops Not Guns,” Thursday’s “Vigil Against Violence: Remembering Sandy Brock” event featured speakers and music in an hour-long ceremony held at the Mt. Sinai United Christian Church, a candlelight march, and a vigil at a local gas station. The event was in part a remembrance of Sandy Brock who was a young, up-and-coming, basketball star when he was shot to death on September 23, 1997. But it was also an opportunity for grieving families and concerned community members to come together and build a future free of gun violence.

Reverend Dr. Victor Brown
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Rev. Dr. Victor Brown, pastor of the Mt. Sinai church and a well known community organizer, opened the event, speaking from his pulpit. Brown listed the many achievements of Sandy Brock, whose dream of playing in the NBA was ended with a fatal gunshot wound. Brown told the crowd that Brock had been Staten Island’s top player and had been honored in the Daily News, as the father of Ron Artest, Jr., star forward of the Los Angeles Lakers, looked on. Ron Artest Sr. is a supporter of the Shoot Hoops Not Guns organization and is working to bring NBA stars to Staten Island as a means of reaching young sports fans before they turn to violence.

Reverend Brown told participants, “It is time for us to make a change.”

“The next meeting must be for the purpose of mobilization and strategy. Because all that is necessary for the forces of evil to win out in this world is for enough good people to sit back and do nothing. We can talk about the problem but as long as we are not willing to step into the arena of responsibility and do something about it then we are not part of the solution, but part of the problem,” he said.

City Council member Debi Rose
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

City council member Debi Rose spoke about the need to intervene in the lives of children, in order to save their lives.

“I am sick and tired of hearing ‘he was a good guy’,” she said.

Rose urged participants to re-examine their role and responsibilities as parents — to think back to their own childhood and their own relationship with their parents. Rose said that her mother and her extended family had zero tolerance for misbehavior.

“I’m still afraid of my Momma!” Rose said.

But times have changed, according to Rose.

“When did we stop teaching our children how to resolve their differences?” she asked.

Expressing her frustration, Rose said, “I’m tired of going to vigils.”

Rose issued a challenge to the parents in the church: “I want you to promise that you are going to step up — that you are going to mentor a young person. That if you see a young person who needs some guidance that you will be the person to give them that advice.”

Tim Gannon, who coached Sandy Brock
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Tim Gannon is principal of Port Richmond High School — and the former coach of Sandy Brock. He said that, “It’s time to stop protecting the shooters and start protecting the children.”

Telling the audience that his five-year-old son “Will never get to play with Sandy Brock’s son,” Gannon said, “So don’t tell me, 13 years later, there’s no impact. That I’m supposed to get over it, because you don’t.”

He urged those present to speak out if they know of someone holding a gun, to help prevent another murder.

“Maybe there’s someone here tonight, maybe there’s someone in this room, who knows where there’s a gun on Staten Island. And I’ve been living here for 20 years. There is no duck hunting on Staten Island. We don’t shoot deer. We’re shooting each other,” he said.

Marquette Elliott, director of Shoot Hoops Not Guns
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Marquette Elliott, executive director of Shoot Hoops Not Guns, told the crowd that the problem extends beyond the borders of New York to several states in the South where guns are easily obtained — and transported back to New York City. Elliott said that in the South it’s easier to get a gun than a library card. He urged the audience to work to change gun laws, to stop the exportation of gun violence from states with lax laws.

After the speeches, Elliott and Reverend Brown led the congregation in a candlelight procession to the Gulf gas station a few blocks away — where several Staten Islanders have been murdered, including Sandy Brock. Circled by vigilers, Elliott asked the participants to shout out the names of loved ones lost to gun violence. More than 30 different names were heard. One young man told Elliott that he wanted to remember “Robert Taylor” — his grandfather.

Elliott told the crowd that the wife of a man killed at the gas station had sent an email saying that it was too painful for her to stand at the site of her husband’s death but she was supports the work of Shoot Hoops Not Guns and was there in spirit.

Driving home the point that far too many people have been lost to senseless gun violence, Elliott, followed by others, named some prominent victims: Biggie Smalls, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tupac Shakur, Jam-Master Jay, Huey Newton, and Marvin Gaye. Several participants yelled out “John F. Kennedy.”

A young vigiler holds a candle for the fallen
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Reverend Brown ended the vigil with a prayer — and a plea. He urged all present to work to change things, to get involved in the lives of their children, and to “reconnect with God.”

“We do not want Sandy Brock’s death to be in vain,” he said.

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Posted by TAG - September 21, 2010 | News

NY1 interviewing parade participants
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — September 18, 2010. What do Freemasons, a local realtor, the Shaolin Ryders Motorcycle Club, New York State Assembly member Matt Titone, New York City Council Member Debi Rose, the Against Da Grill restaurant (doubtless Method Man’s favorite), the NAACP and the Staten Island Democratic Association have in common? They all took part in this year’s African Heritage parade.

Assembly member Matt Titone (left) was at the parade
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Saturday’s parade was the fourth of its kind and like its predecessors was organized by Staten Island dynamo Bobby Digi. The parade was started to honor the contributions and the cultures of the Staten Island’s West African, Carribean and African-American residents.

Organizer Bobby Digi with City Council member Debi Rose
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The parade formed up on Central Avenue and made its way to Tappen Park in the Stapleton section of the Island, traveling along Bay Street before turning up Van Duzer and winding down Beach Street.

Spectators lined Van Duzer, cheering
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Spectators lining Van Duzer cheered as City Council member Rose waved from a silver PT Cruiser.

Congressman Mike McMahon
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

At the park Congressman Mike McMahon greeted the marchers.

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Outside City Hall — young protesters ask for acceptance on 9/11
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — The anniversary of 9/11 was observed differently this year. It was, as always, a day of grief for the victims of the attack NYC endured 9 years ago. A day when over 3,000 people, our friends and neighbors, were lost to us. It was also a day that the workers in the city were the true heroes. Not only the firemen and police who gave their lives attempting to save others, but the transit workers who drove through rubble to get people out of harms way, the teachers who safely evacuated and calmed all their young charges, the steel workers who helped build the twin towers coming to help dig people out declaring, ‘We put this up, we know how to get it down’, and the thousands of workers from all over the city who left their jobs to line up outside hospitals to donate blood to victims that never came. All were gone.

September 10: Candlelight Vigil

An interfaith candlelight vigil drew thousands on 9/10
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

It is, therefore, hateful that right-wing opportunists have used 9/11 to spew hatred against a group that lost 300 people when the towers were attacked – our Muslim fellow citizens. They have used the building of a Muslim community center (Park 51 / Cordoba House) to whip up hostility and unite their followers in a way that Hitler’s toxic propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, would have admired. They planned a rally on 9/11 and were bringing haters from near and far to attend and speak at their rally.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The people of NY responded with 4 separate actions of their own. On Sept. 10th there was a candlelight vigil near the World Trade Center site organized by NY Neighbors for American Values, an umbrella group that included about 100 community, labor, political, and religious groups. One of those groups was the ACLU who, in an e-mail to their members dated the day before, made the statement, “Religious freedom is one of America’s most fundamental liberties, and a founding principle of our nation. But the battle over the proposed Muslim Cultural Center in Lower Manhattan is about more than religious liberty – it is about the very soul of our city.”

Spotted at the vigl: Anglicans…
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

According to TV newscasters “thousands” of people filled 2 blocks along Church St. There were clergy from every denomination, Jewish families with fathers and their sons wearing yarmulkes, young and old of every race. The crowd was generally subdued. There were no signs. All expressed strong support for the community center. There was music and the crowd sang “This Land Is Your Land”. There was also a few speeches, one being from the first Muslim elected to Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) who reminded everyone that the Muslims were our fellow citizens. This crowd already knew that. An imam read the names of Muslims who perished on 9/11.

…Muslims and Buddhists
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

September 11: Protesting Anti-Muslim Bigotry at City Hall

The next day, Saturday, the reactionary Stop Islamization of America took place. Perhaps 2,000 people came – including a large anti-abortion contingent. It was led by Pamela Geller, who has called for the removal of the Dome of the Rock, an extremely holy sight for Muslims, and she posted, on her blog, a picture of the Prophet Mohammad with the face of a pig. The other rally leader was Robert Spencer who has an anti-Muslim blog called Jihad Watch. He believes that the Muslim community center is an insult to the victims of 9/11.

The War Resisters League contingent at City Hall
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

A few blocks away, along Broadway near City Hall Park, the counter-demonstration took place. It was organized by the Emergency Mobilization Against Racism and Anti-Muslim Bigotry, also an umbrella group, representing over 60 organizations including Al-Awda, Bronx Greens, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, Green Party Power to the People NY, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Stonewall Warriors, Labor Against The War, World Can’t Wait, and the International Action Center. It was different in tone from the candlelight vigil the night before, much more raucous. There were thousands of people holding hundreds of signs calling for peace, justice, jobs, and against racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and Islamophobia (a word that doesn’t make much sense because hatred is being expressed, not fear). There were about 50 speakers including Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, and Ramsey Clark, each mercifully limited to 2 minutes. Some likened the current Anti-Muslim fever being whipped up by a small group to what happened in Germany in the 30’s when the bad economic times made the population vulnerable to anti-Semitic violence. Many spoke of the need for unity to defeat what was going on. Many more said that this demonstration had to be called to respond to the hate filled rally being held by the other group. They said they could not remain silent, surrendering the streets of NY to those filled with such hostility. There had to be an antidote to their poison.

“Bedrock American Principles: Tolerance And Freedom Of Religion”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The following day, Sunday, an interfaith group, Religious Freedom USA, held a rally at St. Peter’s Church, the oldest Catholic parish in NY, located very close to the World Trade Center site. The church was badly damaged on 9/11/01 and underwent extensive renovations. It reopened on 9/11/10, the day before. The restoration was beautifully done. Every seat was taken and many remained standing in the back and in the balcony. The huge room was filled with people of faith, priests, rabbis, ministers, imams, and their flocks.

First Father Kevin Madigan welcomed everyone to his church. He began by saying, ” I believe that an overview of our Roman Catholic experience, viewed just within the confines of St. Peter’s Parish, can provide enough examples of religiously based fear, bigotry and prejudice, to demonstrate that this terrible virus is never completely eradicated, but simply lies dormant, seeking new targets to attack, particularly in times of perceived threat and uncertainty.” He spoke of the enormous hostility against Catholics that existed throughout this country’s history. In 1701 any priest discovered within city limits could be sent to prison for life. JFK had to convince the nation that he would not be taking orders from the pope if he was elected president. He ended by saying that grief cannot trump or give veto power over a right so basic as freedom of religion. And somewhere in this country there is a little Fatima or Mohammad who wants to grow up to be our president – and they will.

On August 29, 2010, a group of clergy on Staten Island organized an interfaith march for tolerance — and acceptance. Peace Action’s Eileen Bardel filed the following report with NLN:

Eileen Bardel
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Diversity. Tolerance. Freedom of religion. Curiosity. All reasons for nearly 80 people, both lay and clergy to take a walk together in St. George on a beautiful sunny day on Sunday, August 20th. Building Bridges, Interfaith Gathering for Reflection and Hope organized the gathering which began its short journey at Brighton Heights Reformed Church, then proceeded to Al-Ihsan Mosque and finally concluded the walk at St. Peter’s RC Church. At each place of worship the participants were led in prayer by island clergy and given information about the history and practices of various faiths. Over and over it was stressed that we must work together to promote understanding and tolerance among members of our community. At the Al-Ihsan Mosque questions were posed about the Ramadan fast, whether or not Al-Qaeda represents Muslims, equal education for males and females and why women wear head coverings. I was struck by the simplicity of the room and the sincerity of the representatives from the mosque who tried to shed light on Muslim beliefs and traditions. Obviously the people participating in the walk came with open minds and a willingness to learn. There was much insight given this day to reflect upon but the real challenge lies in building bridges that will not collapse under the weight of hate and fear that is growing in our country. We have to hold on to the hope that truth will prevail despite the destructive forces swirling around us and believe that whatever we do to further peace and trust is worthwhile and absolutely necessary.

View Photos From The Event…

Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of Congregation Ansche Chesed on the Upper Westside spoke of interfaith unity and support. He reminded those gathered that the US Constitution is still in effect below Canal St. Charles Wolf, husband of 9/11 victim Katherine Wolf, also spoke strongly in support of the Muslim community center. Speaker after speaker, spoke of interfaith unity and support for Park 51. When the speeches ended all filed out of the church and took a “Liberty Walk” passing the 9/11 site as well as several houses of worship. Some participants were holding small American flags. When the walk ended back at St. Peter’s everyone stood in a fine drizzle singing patriotic songs like “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is your Land”.

The religious leaders that spoke at the church showed great courage because the solidarity they expressed and their support for the mosque was either in contradiction to the ‘official’ positions of their religious hierarchy or against the silence of the hierarchy.

September 16: The “Wiesenthal Museum of Intolerance”

Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

On Thursday, September 16th there was a formidable picket line of about 100 people, who came out in a rain storm, to protest at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum Of Tolerance on East 42nd St. in Manhattan. As they walked they chanted, “Islamophobia isn’t pretty. It has no place in New York City” and “Islamophobia is a shame. New Yorkers say, not in our name.”

The event was sponsored by American Jews for a Just Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jews Say No because the Simon Wiesenthal Center has demonstrated anything but tolerance – they are opposing the building of the Muslim community center at the present site. In doing so they are reinforcing the idea that all Muslims are responsible for the 9/11 attack. This is the same organization that is violating international law by destroying the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem, a cemetery that dates back to the 7th century and holds the graves of some of Mohammad’s prophets. The Mamilla Cemetery has been completely destroyed so that the Wiesenthal Center could build a Museum of Tolerance there!

“Jews Against Islamophobia And Anti-Arab Racism”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The coalition sponsoring the demonstration made the following statement:
” As Jews, we understand well how hateful stereotypes easily become vehicles for exclusion, demonization, discrimination and violence. Our history teaches us that we must always stand up against injustice. We also recognize the connections among our many movements for justice and equity, such as those of low-income and communities of color, immigrant communities, women, LGBT communities, and groups fighting for religious and cultural expression.

In the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, many of us reflect upon the past year and think about the ways we can participate in the struggle for a more just world. During this time of increased anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia in NYC, in the US, and in many parts of the world, we want to make clear our opposition to the targeting of Muslim and Arab communities since 9/11 and to the use of Islamophobia as a means of shaping US foreign policies and public opinion.”

Connecting The Dots: Bigotry 101
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

9/11 dramatically changed the lives of all Americans. For the 1st time we are truly frightened. We have been made painfully aware that we are part of the world, we don’t live in isolation. In the name of the ‘War on Terror” the Muslim population has become objects of suspicion and persecution, we have lost many of our most fundamental freedoms, we openly admit to using torture, we are in a period of seemingly endless wars where hundreds of thousands have died, including our own fellow citizens, and millions have been turned into refugees. There is no money for basic human needs like education, healthcare, housing and the infrastructure or for building a green economy because the wars are so costly. The destruction of the earth is on a back burner, if on the stove at all. And while we weren’t paying attention the functions of the federal government have been privatized, including our military and security apparatus. The government has become a big empty shell with vital services being performed by corporations whose only loyalty is to their bottom line.

CodePINK’s Dana Balicki
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The response of the good people of NY, fighting against the tidal wave of hate being created in their midst was an encouraging sign that most people here are maintaining their values and principles in spite of the pressures to do otherwise. The populace we saw on September 11, 2001 is still here.

View Photos From The Candlelight Vigil…
View Photos/Videos From The Anti-Bigotry (9/11) Protest…
View Photos From The (In)Tolerance Protest…

Posted by Fran Korotzer - | News

Kate Barnhart
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

[ Editor’s Note: This was a painful story to edit. Vance’s behavior in this instance is beyond disgraceful — it makes this New Yorker wince to read of his callous disregard for the suffering of a young woman who dares to challenge the insurance companies while suffering from a brain tumor and lupus. As the New York poet Tom Verlaine said, “…how I wish I could change my vote…” ]

NEW YORK — Kate Barnhart, a healthcare activist fighting both a brain tumor and lupus, now has to fight NYC also. The Manhattan District Attorney seems to believe that she belongs in prison. A year ago Barnhart was arrested for participating in a peaceful sit-in at Aetna along with 16 others who were protesting the health insurer’s denial of care to extremely sick people. During the course of the past year charges against those arrested were dropped. In July Judge Shawn Dya Simpson dismissed the trespassing and related charges against Barnhart. Weeks later D. A. Cy Vance’s office threatened to rearrest Barnhart and file new charges against her. This enraged healthcare and LGBT activists. Barnhart is the Executive Director of New Alternatives, a program for homeless LGBT youth. Hundreds of phone calls were made to Vance’s office as well as a petition with thousands of signatures was sent there. The D.A.’s office backed off slightly. They didn’t rearrest her but did refile charges against her. State Senator Tom Duane, knowing Barnhart’s work as an advocate on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS as well as marginalized youth, contacted Vance’s office to object to the refiling of charges.

One of the reasons she joined the sit-in was because her friend, Mark Milano, was denied chemotherapy by Aetna. Barnhart, herself suffering with a brain tumor, was dropped by her own insurer after having paid $900 a month for the insurance. Milano, still battling cancer, believes that the spotlight put on Aetna by the sit-in played a crucial role in getting Aetna to pay for the treatment they were denying him up until that point. He said, “There’s no doubt that what Kate did saved my life. Aetna didn’t care whether I got my chemo or not until the sit-in took place. There’s nothing criminal about what Kate did. The crime is insurance companies withholding care. Why doesn’t the D.A. go after them?”

Donald Grove who was also arrested at the Aetna sit-in commented, “This is pure harassment. Along with all the care she gives to others, she spoke up when the healthcare system was failing her and her loved ones. Why should that make her the target of such harsh treatment by the D.A.?”

Protesters outside 100 Centre Street — demanding justice
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

On the morning of September 15th about 80 of Barnhart’s supporters from both the healthcare and LGBT community rallied outside the city court building at 100 Centre St. in Lower Manhattan where she was to appear. There was a general sense of outrage. They were wearing masks of Barnhart’s face as a symbol of solidarity and carrying signs that read, “Only Guilty of Needing Healthcare.” They chanted, “Patients, not profits. Medicare for All”, “Kate Barnhart is under attack. What do we do? Act-up. Fight back”, and “Today it’s Kate. Tomorrow who? What would you do if they came for you?”.

The police tried to get the protestors to cross the street but one in the group told the police, in no uncertain terms, that they had the right to picket on any street in the city and they would absolutely not cross the street. The NYPD didn’t pursue the issue.

Responding to public pressure Erin Duggin, Vance’s Communications Director, came to the rally and spoke to the press. When asked by Katie Robbins of Healthcare-NOW! why Barnhart was treated more harshly than other peaceful protestors Duggin replied, “You could argue that we treated the other arrestees more fairly.”

“Only guilty of needing health care.”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

“The D.A’s office just admitted Kate has been treated ‘less fairly’ by saying that others were treated ‘more fairly’. When voters put Cy Vance in that office, I don’t think they were voting for a ‘sometimes fair, and sometimes less fair’ system” said Laurie Wen, a member of the New York City chapter of Healthcare-NOW!, which organized the rally.

When Barnhart entered the courthouse some of the protestors accompanied her. She was given a date to return in mid-November. When she returns her supporters will return with her. Why Kate Barnhart has been singled out for this treatment remains a mystery. Are they trying to make an example of her to others who might peacefully protest? We just don’t know yet. But the one thing that is for sure, the numbers of her supporters will continue to grow and they will be there to support her whenever she returns to court.

View Photos From The Event…

Noor says, “Fashion Designers Care”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On September 14th a small group of N.Y. Palestinian rights activists committed to sending an American boat, “The Audacity of Hope”, in the next flotilla to help break the deadly Israeli blockade of Gaza decided on a flash action for Fashion Week which was taking place at busy Lincoln Center.

One of the group arrived looking majestic in a creation he designed using black net while the others dressed down in their black “We will not be silent” or “U.S. Boat to Gaza” tee shirts. Small signs that read “End the Blockade” or “U.S. Boat to Gaza” were carried by everyone. The purpose of the action was to draw attention to the situation in Gaza which is genocidal because the necessities of life are being denied by the Israeli blockade. Coincidentally, this was the day that Elie Tahari, who recently made a $100,000 contribution to Friends of the IDF, was showing his new line.

(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

As the group posed on the plaza people came over, took photos, and asked questions. Some good dialogues took place. People, mainly tourists, were interested and open-minded. But within a very few minutes 2 police officers arrived to convey the message that Lincoln Center Security wanted everyone to leave. Members of the group pointed out that there were other groups there that were doing the exact same thing but were not being asked to leave. When asked if we could remain there without the signs one officer said yes, the other said no. By then many more police joined in and one of the officers said that Lincoln Center may not like the group’s message. As the debate continued, and by then there seemed to be more police then demonstrators, a woman arrived who identified herself as the head of security. She said that the group had to leave immediately because they were on private property and the courts had given Lincoln Center the authority to remove anyone that they decided wasn’t welcome there. Nobody knew if what she was saying was true or not. And where is the line drawn between public and private property? This all attracted more attention and the curious crowd grew larger.

Finally the activists left the plaza and stood on the street in front of Lincoln Center. The police followed, ‘No good,’ they said, ‘the street is private property too’. They wanted everyone to cross the street. More argumentation. Nobody wanted to be arrested but nobody wanted to cross the street either. The group walked a few feet away from the front of Lincoln Center and the police told them they were still on private property but had apparently decided not to make an issue of it. They stood by while the demonstrators posed for photos and talked to people in the street. The photos will be put on line to be shared with Palestinian rights activists worldwide.

Activists inform police that the First Amendment is always in fashion
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Activists constantly find themselves in conflict with the NYPD about where they can or cannot stand and what they can or cannot do. Frequently definitive statements become negotiable or the police back off completely when a legal observer is present or when activists show that they know their rights. It is also helpful to have a National Lawyer’s Guild observer, whenever possible, with the group when they have a protest. They are there to protect everyone’s rights and the police are sometimes more respectful when they see them there.

View Photos From The Event…

SAN FRANCISCO (BeyondChron) — In his September 14 story, “Union vs. Union,” New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse relied on confidential sources (“outside labor experts”) to back SEIU’s false claims that an NUHW victory jeopardizes worker benefits under Kaiser’s current contract. Greenhouse interviewed a number of labor experts, but none was willing to publicly support the SEIU view. Yet instead of concluding that SEIU was wrong and/or lying, Greenhouse propped up SEIU’s falsehoods by claiming “outside labor experts” backed them. Greenhouse also failed to disclose a recent NLRB regional director’s finding that Kaiser violated federal law when it rescinded pay raises for workers who earlier voted to leave SEIU for NUHW — the exact situation now at issue. The Times policy on confidential news sources states, “we will not use anonymous sourcing when sources we can name are readily available.” Despite many “readily available” labor experts, some of whom were cited by other news outlets, Greenhouse violated Times policy and used unnamed sources in his zeal to promote SEIU.

The New York Times is the gold standard for newspapers in the United States, and has adopted a tough policy against reliance on confidential news sources. The introduction to its policy states:

“Readers of The New York Times demand to know as much as possible about where we obtain our information and why it merits their trust. For that reason, we have long observed the principle of identifying our sources by name and title or, when that is not possible, explaining why we consider them authoritative, why they are speaking to us and why they have demanded confidentiality.”

As I recently reported, SEIU’s chief campaign argument at Kaiser is that workers will lose current contract benefits if they switch to NUHW. SEIU has repeated this false argument despite an NLRB ruling directly to the contrary.

The truth of SEIU’s charges does not require a labor expert to be an undisclosed whistleblower, or to remain unidentified in order to avoid jeopardizing public safety or national security. Rather, it requires a conscientious reporter to talk to a labor expert and provide readers with this expert’s interpretation of federal labor law.

That’s what veteran reporter David Moberg did in his September 13 In These Times article, Kaiser’s Bitter Labor War. Ellen Dannin, a former attorney for the NLRB and author of Taking Back the Workers’ Law, told Moberg, “Going on basic [National Labor Relations] Board law, the terms of employment remain the status quo until there is an agreement between the successor union and the employer, or if the parties reach impasse, when the employer can impose terms.”

New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse has far more resources at his disposal than Moberg, and can pick up the phone and get nearly any labor expert in the country to talk to, and be quoted in, the Times. In fact, Greenhouse’s article cites two prominent labor experts, Nelson Lichtenstein and William Gould IV, neither of whom were quoted to support SEIU’s legal position.

Contrary to Times policy, Greenhouse never explained why he cited “outside labor experts” rather than providing their names. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that Greenhouse did not like what he heard from labor experts willing to be identified, so relied on unnamed sources to bolster SEIU’s multi-million dollar disinformation campaign.

And Times editors should be particularly troubled by Greenhouse’s omission of the NLRB regional director’s ruling on this legal question. The opinion of the preeminent government agency on federal labor law should be given greater weight than the “outside labor experts” Greenhouse preferred.

A Journalistic Failure

Greenhouse’s article fails on journalistic grounds for other reasons as well.

First, his fundamental framing is that Sal Rosselli “did create a rival union” and that he is now using “brass knuckles” against SEIU. Greenhouse knows perfectly well that NUHW was created, and could only legally have been created, by workers themselves.

This is not a small point. The only reason there is an election at Kaiser is that thousands of workers filed petitions to decertify SEIU. As much as Greenhouse and others seek to portray this as some sort of Star Wars-like revenge saga by Sal Rosselli, this struggle is about workers choosing between two very different models of unionism.

Greenhouse’s attribution of “brass knuckles” to Rosselli is particularly inaccurate, given that it is SEIU that has been associated with virtually every act of violence and thuggery during its many elections against NUHW. This includes the death threats made by an SEIU staffer against NUHW employees at Kaiser’s Baldwin Park hospital, which resulted in a court issuance of a temporary restraining order against her.

Second, while Greenhouse cites SEIU President Mary Kay Henry urging NUHW to “consider organizing non-union workers,” he fails to acknowledge that NUHW did precisely this in winning the nation’s biggest hospital organizing campaign at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Santa Rosa in December 2009. Nor does Greenhouse ask Henry why SEIU has only organized one new health care facility in California over the past eighteen months, which is one less new facility than that organized by NUHW.

Third, readers have come to expect Times reporters to check crucial facts rather than just citing each side’s claims. Here, Greenhouse quotes NUHW saying SEIU is spending $40 million on the Kaiser campaign, and SEIU saying they are spending at most $4 million.

Having clearly spoken to many inside and outside labor experts, one wonders why Greenhouse did not make even a minimal effort to assess SEIU’s campaign costs. If he had, he would have likely found that SEIU is waging perhaps the most expensive political campaign per voter in United States history, which certainly would have given readers a different take on the entire Kaiser contest.

Sadly, Greenhouse likely knew the truth about SEIU’s spending and felt it was not fit to print. A reporter who claims that SEIU has dispatched “hundreds” of foot soldiers when SEIU is not even hiding the fact that it brought in 2000 to add to its prior 600 has lost any claim to journalistic integrity.

Randy Shaw’s Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century has just been released in paperback by the University of California Press.

Posted by Bill Reed - | News

Cynthia McKinney
(Photo: Bill Reed / NLN)

NEW YORK — Sunday Sept. 12 Cynthia McKinney, former Member of Congress for six years and the 2008 Green Party candidate for President, spoke in Brooklyn as part of her New YorkC tour to discuss the impact of 9/11 and support the Rally Against Racism and Islamophobia. Ms McKinney is currently traveling with the Bike Across America For Peace Campaign due to arrive in Washington D.C. in October.

She was welcomed at The Commons, a skill share organization in downtown Brooklyn. Ms McKinney spoke about the need to build the Green Party alternative to the Democrats and Republicans and to support New York Green Party candidates and the event featured a serious discussion of current problems with the death penalty in the U.S.

Julia Willebrand
(Photo: Bill Reed / NLN)

Green Party candidate for New York State Comptroller Julia Willebrand spoke about the basic problems of how the New York State Comptrollers have been investing the state’s huge state employee retirement fund. The funds are given to brokers who are paid huge fees for their services. One investment firm received $200 million,”to invest in Ireland.” Ms. Willebrand said that the money should have been invested in New York State businesses to create jobs here. The money was never invested in Ireland because of severe problems with the Irish economic downturn, but the investment firm was paid a fee of $6 million anyway. Ms. Willebrand would invest in socially responsible investments.

Howie Hawkins
(Photo: Bill Reed / NLN)

Howie Hawkins, a Teamster, is the only candidate for governor who is a union member. He spoke about many of the problems caused by the state government which is controlled by Democrats acting like Republicans. He called for a “Green New Deal” with a higher minimum wage, Medicare for All, a state owned bank to finance an economic recovery with alternative energy jobs and a moratorium on foreclosures.

Colia Clark
(Photo: Bill Reed / NLN)

Colia Clark, the Green candidate for U.S. Senate running against Senator Schumer, has been a life long activist. She was an organizer for tenants rights in Chicago when Dr. King moved to Chicago to support those efforts in that city. She detailed the support that Sen. Schumer has given the Wall Street Financial Service Industry and Big Oil. He was the person in the Senate who helped get much of Wall Street’s deregulation requests pushed into law in Washington. She opposes the senator’s constant work to expand the US wars and occupations.

Ms Clark introduced fellow anti-death penalty activists from the World Day Against the Death Penalty in the U.S.A. This organization will hold events world wide in October. There will be a march in Philadelphia on October 10. For more information call: 212 330 8029. Pam Africa spoke about activists being very disappointed in the President, Attorney General Holder and other Black Democrats who support and promote the death penalty and obstruct appeals, DNA testing and new evidence in death penalty cases. In Philadelphia, a Black Democrat ran for election on the slogan that, “There is no evidence that Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent,” she said.

Cynthia McKinney spoke about traveling through out the U.S. and hearing people who voted for President Obama who have “Buyers Remorse.” With the large numbers of people very disappointed in the elected Democrats and Republicans she calls for New Yorkers to give the Green candidate for governor enough votes so that the party can again become an official ballot line party in the state. The candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, Howie Hawkins and Gloria Mattera, need at least 50,000 votes to do that. In 2008, Julia Willebrand received over 118,000 votes for Comptroller.

Ms McKinney also spoke about the need for peace and justice activists to reach out to a wider group of people.

Ann Roos
(Photo: Bill Reed / NLN)

Ann Roos, Green candidate for New York State Senate in Manhattan’s 31st Senate district on the Upper West Side, was also there. Her campaign emphasizes closing nuclear power plants, a ban of hydro-fracking, stopping privatization, repealing the Rockefeller drug laws, legalizing marijuana, and improving public transportation among other things.

View Photos From The Event…

Posted by Tom Keough - September 7, 2010 | Comics

Reverend James Seawood of the Brighton Heights Reform Church
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — On Sunday, August 29, clergy of several traditions — Rabbis, Reverends, Priests and Imams — joined together on a march for tolerance and respect. The interfaith procession journeyed from a Protestant church to a Muslim mosque and ended at a Catholic church. At each stop speakers addressed the marchers — delivering an ecumenical message.

Activist Hesham El-Meligy outside the Masjid Al-Ihsan Mosque
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The “Respecting Differences Program” was an interfaith gathering “for reflection and hope” designed to promote tolerance and respect. Members of various religious traditions gathered at Staten Island’s Brighton Heights Reformed Church. Several speakers, representing a variety of faiths, addressed the audience. After the remarks concluded the congregation walked down St. Mark’s Place to the Al-Ihsan Mosque, a short distance away. At the mosque an Imam called the group to prayer and an Episcopalian minister asked if anyone could imagine a neighborhood complaining about a plan to build an Anglican church in their community.

Peace Action’s Eileen Bardel at the mosque
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

After the visit to the mosque ended the group continued their journey to Saint Peters Catholic Church, also on St. Mark’s Place.

Imam Tahir Kukiai looks on as Rabbi Gerald Sussman speaks to NY1
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Surrounded by press an Imam calls the congregation to prayer
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)