Current Issues

Trayvon Martin and the US Empire

Travyon Martin

One month ago in Sanford, FL a 17-year-old African American teenager was murdered.  The murderer is known to police; except for the murder, no crime was committed.

Immediately after 9/11, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said preventing terrorist acts is now more important than punishing crimes after the fact.

Nationwide, police forces, with the cooperation of Homeland Security, effectively deputized all citizens to report any suspicious or perceived untoward behavior.  The iWatch program has published a bizarre list of normal human activity which could be viewed as “suspicious behaviors and activities” that you should report.

The underlying reticence of the authorities to treat murder as murder is a demonstration of the plague devastating our legal and, yes, moral sanity.

How is this justified?  First, it is “the other.”  This can be race, nationality, religion.

Then, we’re given the definition of the other’s bad intentions toward us.  Then, knowing those intentions are hostile, we take the sports idea that a good offense is the best defense.  Preemption is the fancy word for aggression, to destroy the other for what you believe or are told is in his mind.

A public kept constantly in fear will easily forfeit its rights to authorities who designate themselves as security.

These attitudes towards domestic self-defense and preemption parallel our foreign policy.

Some kind of murder is okay, depending on who does it and who’s murdered.

Like racial superiority, technologically advanced killing devices indicate who should be in charge.

When we deny that warfare is mass murder, we will never learn what Sean Penn’s character in Dead Man Walking said:

“Killin’ is bad.  If I do it, if y’all do it, or if the government does it.”

Martin Luther King Jr. said justice delayed is justice denied.

It’s important to know the way Trayvon Martin’s murder is being dealt with is critical to understanding where our country seems to be going.

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President Obama speaks of peace, just Imagine

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The whole world is watching…

Never in history has a drama been watched simultaneously by a billion people. I would have given a fat chunk of copper ore to have been a fly on the wall in that 2300 foot hole, and to have witnessed the social structure of inter-dependence that those 33 men developed to keep body and soul together for those harrowing ten weeks.

Journalists, writers, media, communicators – artists – have an opportunity to run with this extraordinary story, which the government of Chile stage-managed down to the razors, Chilean flag shirts, and the books of tips about how to deal with the media that were sent down to the miners before they surfaced to the flood of cameras. But forget the theater. Can this spectacle bring us together to make the world a better place?  Could it be a rare chance to see what people are forced to risk their lives to put food on the table: dangerous mining work that pillages the planet for minerals and fossil fuel, creating conflict and producing a wealth that few workers share?

Maybe all of us are in that dangling capsule, interconnected in fragile times, wondering just what we’ve traded to get this short time on – or in—the earth.

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“Hope Is A Thing”

Lisbeth Scott’s “Hope Is A Thing” is released.  I enjoyed shooting this.  Watch the VIDEO.

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WHO NEEDS SLEEP? receives standing ovation


Haskell in his 12on12off Hat

WHO NEEDS SLEEP? receives standing ovation at Labourstart 2010 Global Solidarity Conference!

Trade union delegates from over 28 countries and members of the Toronto film and television community attended a screening of Who Needs Sleep? followed by a lively discussion with Haskell Wexler on Saturday, July 10, 2010 as part of the first annual Labourstart 2010 Global Solidarity Conference.

Brothers and sisters from across the labour movement pledged their support and solidarity for the 12on12off campaign, expressing their shock at the industry standard for working hours and the total unwillingness of the unions to address the issue, despite a clear message from the rank and file that this is a crisis situation.

A number of university professors and union educators said they will be using the film as part of their curriculum.

With thanks to the support, wisdom and expertise of brothers and sisters from other unions, efforts are underway to develop a political and organizing campaign to move 12on12off forward across North America, including screenings for industry workers, enhanced petition efforts and the development of organizing kits.


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Welcome to Orwell’s World


Katherine Faulkner in her blog states:

“This government’s ‘legacy’ will be the demise of plain English” referring to the British government, I believe, but fully applies to the United States. She goes on to say,

“The main point of political prose, said George Orwell more than half a century ago, was to give ‘an appearance of solidity to pure wind’. Orwell accused politicians of the being deliberately unclear in their prose, pretending to communicate but really aiming only to obscure.

You don’t need to look very far to see Orwellian echoes in the political language of our times. Take ‘credit crunch’, a word which popped up in newspapers as it became apparent that the country was facing recession. While ‘recession’ conjures unsightly images of bread lines and derelict factories, ‘credit crunch’ sounds inherently benign, like a breakfast cereal containing free toys in little plastic sachets.”

Another article by John Pilger on the same subject puts the Obama administration in perspective:

“In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate called Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that ‘passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’.”



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President Obama should say…


Obama’s writers are working on his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.  Although the exact date of the Oslo event has not been announced, it is expected to be within the next few weeks. Crafting the acceptance speech could present a problem as Obama’s Afghan war for peace continues. Perhaps his writers should check out President Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech.

President Carter:

“For powerful countries to adopt a principle of preventative war may well set an example that can have catastrophic consequences.”

“War may sometime be a necessary evil, but no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children. The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us a capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes. And we must.”

President Kennedy American University Commencement Speech:

“What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”




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Vote NO on 400 Hours





VIST 400hours.Com for more INFO

Are YOU still going to qualify for health care under the contract that we are about to vote on? The AMPTP wants to Raise the number of hours to qualify for Health Insurance from 300 to 400 hours.

The AMPTP told our negotiators that at least 10% (or a minimum of 3,500)  IA members and their families currently covered by the medical plan have to be dropped, because of “projected” losses. This doesn’t even count the ones who currently do not qualify under the 300 hour minimum.

Many of our members will lose their Health Care if this is passed.  
If the contract is passed, your 
bankable hours will NOT increase.
WE will NEVER get the 300 hours back if we lose them now.

VIST 400hours.Com for more INFO

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Longer hours, longer hours






If the proposed union contract that was “negotiated” by our union leadership is ratified, everyone will have to work even more hours, more hours in the day, to qualify for the all important health plan the union provides. We will be required to further jeopardize our health, our very lives, to even be able to qualify for the plan coverage which is supposed to benefit us. There may well be more injury and death in our industry as workers try to preserve their health and safety, working under a new contract that does neither.

Hollywood box office up 2% to $9.78 BILLION GROSS.

Ratify the proposed contract today, and beginning in two short years YOU will need to work 33% more hours just to keep yourself and your family covered under the Motion Picture Health Plan.

Then, kiss your Bank of Hours goodbye.

Our new contract merits a resounding “NO” vote from the rank-and-file.
Send our negotiators back to the bargaining table by rejecting the proposed 2009-12 contract!

Visit 400  to learn more about why you should vote “NO,” and make sure that every single friend and colleague in the IATSE does the same.

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Amy Goodman and Two Democracy Now! Producers Unlawfully Arrested


“Look out Amy, it’s real”

I have had some personal experience covering protests at National Conventions, in my case being the Democratic National Convention in 1968. It is a really bad sign of the times when they start arresting journalists — at least Amy wasn’t tear gassed.

Amy Goodman and Two Democracy Now! Producers Unlawfully Arrested At the RNC 
September 1, 2008   
Watch Video: 

UPDATE: Amy been released with charges against her. Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have not are still in jail and may be charged with conspiracy to riot. Please keep calling the numbers below and demand their immediate release:

These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman’s office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).
ST. PAUL, MN—Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her.

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman’s crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.
Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman’s office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).
Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism’s top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar is a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists from the nation’s leading independent news outlet.

Denis Moynihan:  917-549-5000
Mike Burke:  646-552-5107 –

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