June 30, 2008

Keith Olbermann Special Commentary: Obama's FISA Opportunity

The Democratic leadership in the Senate, Republican knuckle-dragging in the same chamber, and the mediocre skills of whoever wrote the final version of the FISA bill, have combined to give Sen. Barack Obama a second chance to make a first impression.

And he damned well better take it. The Senate vote on this tortured and reckless piece of legislation has now been postponed until after the 4th of July break. The Democrats, completing their FISA experience, a collective impression of Homer Simpson falling off a cliff and hitting every bramble on the way down, didn't exactly plan this fortuitous delay.

June 28, 2008

Protesters split weeks before Dem Convention

DENVER - They adopted a bold name - Re-create 68 - promising a protesters' show of force like in Chicago 40 years ago when the Democratic National Convention comes to Denver in August.

But the Denver-based umbrella coalition ranging from anarchists to environmentalists has fractured in recent months. Prominent activists have split with Re-create 68 over its incendiary rhetoric and, according to some, its refusal to endorse nonviolent protest.

"My understanding was that there was some resistance to really settling on a commitment to non-violence," said Dana Balicki, whose group, Codepink, joined a new protest coalition for the convention.

Re-create 68 appeared shortly after Denver's selection as convention host. On its Web site, the group once vowed its protests here would make the 1968 clashes with police in Chicago "look like a small get-together."

The war in Iraq, government infringement of civil liberties and the environment dominated its message. The coalition once included Tent State University, a student organization that began at Rutgers University demanding that war funding be channeled to education, and Troops Out Now, a New York-based group.

Re-create 68 has since sought to tone down its rhetoric to appease would-be allies and critics. Its Web site has been edited to emphasize its members are drawing from the "optimism" of the 1968 protesters.

Co-founder Mark Cohen says the group's mission always was to "recreate" the spirit of political activism of the 1960s. The group says it opposes violence but reserves the right to "self-defense" during the Aug. 25-28 convention.

That hasn't stopped a dozen activist organizations from leaving its umbrella and forming a second protest coalition called the Alliance for Real Democracy. It includes Codepink, Students for Peace and Justice and Tent State University, among others.

Claire Ryder, a member of the Denver Green Party, said she attended some Re-create 68 meetings but now refuses to talk about them. Duke Austin of Boulder-based Students for Peace and Justice also declined to comment. So, too, did Codepink organizer Zoe Williams.

"We wish them the best," said Glenn Spagnuolo, Re-create 68's most prominent spokesman, who calls the protesters' rift a creation of the mainstream news media.

Unity dominated a recently weekly meeting of Recreate 68 in the basement of a Denver coffee shop. "Love is free will. Enter with luv," read a sign as organizers discussed convention preparations, including the topic, "Be positive: R68 is not exclusionary - we are working with everyone."

A former New Yorker, Spagnuolo, 37, has participated in heated Columbus Day parade protests in Denver. Many local residents oppose celebrating a man they say helped introduce centuries of oppression of Native Americans.

Spagnuolo also gained attention for supporting the free speech rights of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who triggered national outrage over an essay equating some Sept. 11 victims to Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

Re-create 68 has been at the forefront of efforts to get protest permits from the city, and is pressing officials to release information about police plans to handle demonstrations during the convention. The American Civil Liberties Union represents the group and 13 other plaintiffs.

It plans a large anti-war rally on the eve of the convention and at least 10,000 people for daily demonstrations addressing political prisoners, civil rights violations, immigrant rights, the environment and racism.

Sen. Barack Obama's historic candidacy didn't affect planning, Spagnuolo said.

"We firmly support the idea of a black president. That's a racial step forward," he said. "But we don't applaud what Obama stands for or what he's done the last couple of years. The only thing now is that imperialism has a black face instead of a white one."

But Re-create's rhetoric - and a plan to levitate the Denver Mint - can overshadow its efforts to pry information from the city.

"The DNC is setting up a very dangerous situation," Spagnuolo warned when the Denver convention host committee won a permit to use Civic Center park for a convention event. Re-create 68 insisted park permits go to groups not affiliated with the convention.

Spagnuolo warned the Democrats would be to blame if things "blow up." He later explained that people participating in Re-create 68 demonstrations nearby could spill over to Civic Center park and that he wasn't implying there would be violence.

"When they make a statement like that, we just can't ignore it. We have to prepare for the worst," said Charlie Brown, a Denver City councilman and one of Re-create 68's most outspoken critics.

Brown said the group puts Denver police in a "no-win" situation where they'll be criticized if they respond aggressively and if they take a laid-back approach.

Brown also criticized the group for being "selective" about First Amendment rights, noting its protests of the Columbus Day parade.

"They basically hate America, they hate both political parties, they hate capitalism, you can go down the list," Brown said. "Their real goal is to make it so bad here that no American city will ever want to host a convention."

Re-create 68's preparations include an attempt to encircle and levitate the Denver U.S. Mint and shake the money out to spread the wealth - a nod to Abbie Hoffman and protesters who tried to levitate the Pentagon in 1967.

"I think that everybody has a little bit of magic inside them and if we combine our energies, who knows what could happen," Spagnuolo said.

NEA Peace & Justice Caucus Calendar

Representative Assembly 2008
Washington, DC

4 :00- 5:30 PM Welcome Meeting--Renaissance Auditorium


Noon- 1:00 PM Issues/Membership--Renaissance West A

JULY 3rd
8:00 - 9:30 AM Pass the Hat for Paul * All State Caucuses
9:30 - 11 AM Issues/Constitution Renaissance West A

9:30 - 10 AM Nominations/Issues Renaissance West A
Paul Mann Youth Activism Award Presentation

JULY 5th
9:30 - 10 AM Issues/Elections Renaissance West A
11 AM - 2 PM ELECTIONS RA Café Tables
Cindy Sheehan--Peace Activist - Gold Star Mother - Congressional Candidate

9:30 - 10 AM Issues Discussion Renaissance West A
LUNCH BREAK Issues Discussion Renaissance West A

Come visit the Peace and Justice Booths 761 and 763
* T-shirts * Jewelry * Books *
* Support the Paul Mann Memorial School and Music Center *

June 26, 2008

They're Not Just Numbers, Mr. President, These Young People Dying Halfway Around the World All Have a Face, Names & Families

Promising Diplomat, Peace & Justice Advocate Killed in Iran

It is with great sadness that Seton Hall announces the death of Captain Gregory T. Dalessio ’00/M.A. ’04, from wounds suffered in combat in Iraq on 23 June.

Greg Dalessio, 30, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, out of Baumholder, Germany. He was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq and had been there about two months when he was killed. He was the oldest of eight children and grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and he graduated from Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken.

Greg earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in diplomacy and international relations here at Seton Hall. He was an outstanding member of the ROTC program, and left his mark as a sincere, hard-working young man who was always concerned with helping others in need and seeking peace and justice in our world.

“I remember meeting Greg when he was a freshman here and I will forever remember his warm smile and engaging, generous spirit,” said Monsignor Robert Sheeran, University President.

“With his close-knit family, we mourn Greg Dalessio’s passing in the service of his nation. He lived the way the Church teaches us we ought, with a deep commitment to ethics and honor, with a love for family, country and God. We pray that he may find eternal rest among the saints in the presence of the Almighty Father,” said Monsignor Sheeran.

The American flag is to be flown at half mast on the Seton Hall campus in honor of Captain Dalessio.

June 17, 2008

Des Moines Student, Roman Borcelino, Receives NEA Peace & Justice Youth Activisim Award: Please Help Us

originally posted 6/10/2008

...from the desk of Nancy Porter, NEA P&J Recording Secretary

Please help us raise dollars to support this gentleman who will come to DC and accept the award. Bring money to the RA to give to Nancy Porter

Great News! On the 4th of July in DC, a past student of Paul Mann's,
recipient of the first Iowa Caucus Peace and Justice Youth Activist Award, Romen Borcelino, will receive the first NEA Peace and Justice Youth Activist Award. He competed against many great applicants.

Those of you who were lucky enough to hear Roman's wonderful acceptance at the ISEA Delegate Assembly know that we have honored a gifted, articulate and deserving young man.

You may also send a check to Nancy Porter
with a "defray costs" for Romen note to

2519 Potomac Drive
Iowa City, IA 52245

We want to cover plane and room. If there is any money left over, it will beused for the Paul Mann Youth Activist Award for 2009. Thank you for helping forthis very special occasion that puts IOWA in the front seat.

If you have any issues you feel the P and J caucus should bring forth at the RA, please email Nancy Porter immediately.

Thank you, again, for all you do in the name of Peace and Justice.

June 15, 2008

McCain vs. Obama: Video in Their Own Words

John McCain in his own words in 90 seconds: the War in Iraq, Immigration & Health Care

Barack Obama in his own words in 90 seconds: War in Iraq, Health Care & Alternative Energy

Keith Olbermann: Special Commentary on John McCain's Comment that "It's not too important when troops come home..."

Senator and US Presidential hopeful John McCain recently met criticism of his comments to Today Show's Matt Lauer that, "It's not too important when troops come home..." and what President Bush's Congressionally unauthorized plan to staff 50+ bases in Iraq might mean to the future of our dedicated soldiers/patriots, their lives and the impact of this rhetoric on real people's lives.

Olbermann uses his "Special Commentary" to address Senator McCain's remarks in his Edward R. Murrow style.

June 13, 2008

A New Logo for P&J Midwest and Justice Caucus

With the encouragement of Nancy Porter of Iowa City, we've designed the following new logo for our Midwest Caucus...we'll hope that we can take it further... We hope you like our new look.

Your blog guy,


Cindy Sheehan: July 5th Keynote Speaker for P&J at the NEA RA

Cindy Sheehan ("Before You Sign Up")

Marisa Tomei reads Cindy Sheehan

June 12, 2008

Habeas Corpus: A Letter from Our Friend, Senator Patrick Leahy

Dear NEA Peace & Justice Caucus Friends,

Today the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a stinging rebuke to the Bush-Cheney Administration's handling of military detainees at Guantanamo Bay -- while vindicating you, me, and thousands of others who have spoken out against the Administration's unwise and unconstitutional policies from the very beginning.

In today's 5-4 Boumediene v. Bush decision, the Court ruled that stripping habeas corpus rights from detainees at Guantanamo Bay was unconstitutional. In so doing, the Court reaffirmed the fundamental right of habeas corpus -- the right that all Americans, and those prisoners under American control, have to challenge the government's reasons for imprisoning them -- a fundamental American right that underpins our individual freedoms and liberty.

Now, in three separate decisions, the Supreme Court has rejected the Bush-Cheney Administration's erosion of fundamental rights. It is these very protections and rights that set America apart from our enemies and make our nation a beacon of freedom and justice for the rest of the world.

It's time to repair the damage that the Bush-Cheney Administration has done in rolling back essential rights that have long guided America's conscience -- and the Supreme Court's ruling is yet one more step in that important process. It's another signal that -- at least in this instance -- we will not cringe in fear and walk away from bedrock American values.

Today's decision is a huge victory for justice, for the Constitution, and for the rule of law. Thank you so much for continuing to stand with me and fight for the rights and freedoms we hold dear.


Patrick Leahy
U.S. Senator

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of "Habeas Corpus" as a Constitutional Right

Supreme Court backs Guantanamo detainees
In rebuke to administration, suspects may appeal in U.S. civilian courts

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."

It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than six years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The administration opened the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to hold enemy combatants.

The Guantanamo prison has been harshly criticized at home and abroad for the detentions themselves and the aggressive interrogations that were conducted there.

The court said not only that the detainees have rights under the Constitution, but that the system the administration has put in place to classify them as enemy combatants and review those decisions is inadequate.

The administration had argued first that the detainees have no rights. But it also contended that the classification and review process was a sufficient substitute for the civilian court hearings that the detainees seek.

June 11, 2008

World Day Against Child Labor

World Day Against Child Labor

June 12 is World Day Against Child Labor. This year’s theme is “Education-the Right Response to Child Labor”. NEA President Weaver, who is also Vice President of Education International, will participate as a panelist in a discussion addressing the theme of this year 's World Day Against Child Labor and the role of education unions and governments to ensure Education For All by 2015. www.nea.org

Resources for World Day Against Child Labor are available from the following organizations:

Education International, www.ei-ie.org
Global March Against Child Labor, www.globalmarch.org
International Labour Organisation, www.ilo.org
International Center on Child Labor and Education, www.knowchildlabor.org

June 3, 2008

The "Pass the Hat for Paul" Campaign

Orginally posted on June 3, 2008

It is very appropriate that we use this 300th post of the NEA Midwest Peace and Justice Blog to bring you news of joining us in our living memory of NEA Peace and Justice Caucus leader and Pioneer Paul Mann. As we remember Paul today in our thoughts, we ask you to join us in remembering him with action. We believe that's exactly what Paul would be doing right now. Join us in bringing the basic right of an education to the students of Chiapas, Mexico.

The Paul Mann Memorial School & Music Center
Making Paul’s School a Reality at the 2008 NEA Convention--We NEED YOU to Help with this Worthy Project

Background: On July 2, 2008 hundreds of key NEA leaders will join the NEA by awarding Paul Mann the Applegate-Dorros International Understanding and Peace Award at the NEA Human and Civil Right's Dinner. These leaders will see the video including footage of The Paul Mann Memorial School and hear Lola Mann’s moving appeal of support for that school. Twelve hours later, first thing the next morning, is our best opportunity to gather resources for Paul’s school. After that we will have several days of the convention to tie up loose ends and “grow the pot” for Paul’s school with the "Pass the hat for Paul" campaign.





When: 8:00 a.m., July 3, 2008. until 8:30 a.m., July 3, 2008

What: “Pass the hat for Paul” collections for the Paul Mann Memorial School

Where: 50 state caucus (plus other affiliates such as Federal) meetings in fancy hotels throughout the Washington, DC area.

Who: Three to ten supporters of Paul’s school in each and every state caucus will pass the hat after one person is recognized on a point of “personal privilege” to energize and motivate donations to the school. Lola herself will speak in California (if at all possible!).

How: Supporters speak IN ADVANCE to their state presidents and make an agreement to “Pass the hat for Paul” in the state caucus at 8am on July 3, 2008 for Paul’s school. Supporters will also have to wake up REALLY EARLY to distribute fliers and envelopes as delegates arrive at the state caucus meeting. Supporters will also have carefully planned what “HAT” they will pass around and how they will keep it moving until everyone has a chance to donate.

Additional details: Beginning on Monday, June 30, 2008 and continuing through Sunday, July 6, 2008 there will be a daily prize drawing for everyone who has donated to the Paul Mann Memorial School. (WE NEED PRIZES!!!???) Any state which does not hold their collection on July 3 will be urged to do so on July 4 or July 6. On the last day of the convention Paul Mann supporters will again distribute flyers before their state caucuses THANKING delegates for their donations and informing NEA delegates how much has been raised. A final collection will be made in the state caucuses on that last day – July 6, 2008.

Needed Now from
  • CLICK HERE to provide a prize or prizes for the daily drawing of donors.
  • CLICK HERE to volunteer to the the Prize Drawing Coordinator.
  • CLICK HERE to be a motivational speaker for each state caucus. It would be nice to have more than one speaker to July 3, 2008. It would be nice to have follow up speakers for subsequent days.
  • CLICK HERE to be a State Caucus Coordinator.
  • CLICK HERE to be one of the TWO to NINE delegates from each state caucus to make the collections.
  • CLICK HERE to bring a unique "hat" or "hats" to pass around the caucus.
  • CLICK HERE to volunteers to deliver fliers at the doorways EVERYWHERE at the RA.
  • CLICK HERE to be the "literature distribution coordinator."
  • CLICK HERE to volunteer to staff informational tables from Monday, June 30 until Sunday, July 6, 2008.
  • CLICK HERE to volunteer to be a "table coordinator."
  • CLICK HERE to volunteer to be the driver, scheduler, facilitator, and coordinator for Lola Mann.
  • Luck, prayers, lots of good humor, hard work, and just a touch of audacity.
Click Here to See Photos and Read more About the Paul Mann Memorial Reconstruction Project.

Click Here to Donate by Buying a Paul Mann Memorial School Bond.

If you can help with any of our requests, please respond to Peter Brown. Also send all questions to the Project Coordinator Peter Brown.