Radical media, politics and culture.


The Passing and Passion of Grandpa Al Lewis, 1911–2006

Mitchel Cohen

What a sad day ... and what an incredible, artistic and political life!

I first met Al Lewis in person in New Haven in 1971, at a demonstration in support of the jailed Black Panthers. I remember it being a very raw afternoon, and I kept staring at the man I'd later introduce myself to, wondering at the famous fellow standing all by himself unlike so many actors and famous people, and then lost in the small crowd that turned up.

Later, I was to learn that Grandpa was rarely alone in that way. Campaigning with him for Mayor all over the City with other Green stalwarts like Frank Carr, Craig Seeman, Michele Daneles, Afrime Derti, Carl Lawrence, Pete Dolack and Robb Ross — the core of the Brooklyn Greens at that time — I was struck by the amount of adulation and genuine affection that so many people had for Al, especially (gulp!) cops. They all wanted Al to sign autographs. I collected hundreds of signatures to put Al on the ballot from cops riding home on the Long Island Railroad and the Staten Island ferry. It was amazing, the transformation that came over people when Al greeted them. He ended up getting just over the 50,000 votes we needed to put the Green Party onto the ballot in NY State.

"Why an Economic Boycott of Israel is Justified"

Norman G. Finkelstein

The recent proposal that Norway boycott Israeli goods has provoked passionate debate. In my view, a rational examination of this issue would pose two questions:

1) Do Israeli human rights violations warrant an economic boycott? and

2) Can such a boycott make a meaningful contribution toward ending these violations? I would argue that both these questions should be answered in the affirmative.

Although the subject of many reports by human rights organizations, Israel's real human rights record in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is generally not well known abroad. This is primarily due to the formidable public relations industry of Israel's defenders as well as the effectiveness of their tactics of intimidation, such as labeling critics of Israeli policy anti-Semitic.

Yet, it is an incontestable fact that Israel has committed a broad range of human rights violations, many rising to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

National Call-in Day to Repair the USA PATRIOT Act

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Thank you for all your calls and visits to Congress, your resolutions, and your other actions to defend civil liberties. In December, a bipartisan group of senators stopped a bill that would have reauthorized expiring PATRIOT Act provisions from coming to a vote because it failed to safeguard essential civil liberties. In anticipation of the new February 3 deadline for the PATRIOT Act's reauthorization, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has designated January 25, 2006, as National PATRIOT Act Call-In Day. Dozens of other organizations are joining us (see below).

An anonymous coward writes:

"Are 500,000 Keys to Paradise Enough?
Germany 'Confronts' Ahmadinejad"
Matthias Küntzel

In pondering the behavior of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I cannot help but think of the 500,000 plastic keys that Iran imported from Taiwan during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980–88. At the time, an Iranian law laid down that children as young as 12 could be used to clear mine fields. Before every mission, a plastic key would be hung around each of the children’s necks. It was supposed to open for them the gates to paradise.

The “child-martyrs” belonged to the so-called “Basij” movement created by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The Basij Mostazafan – the “mobilization of the oppressed” – were volunteers of all ages that embraced death with religious enthusiasm. They provided the model for the first Hezbollah suicide bombers in Lebanon. To this day, they remain a kind of SA of the Islamic revolution. Sometimes they serve as a “vice squad”, monitoring public morals; sometimes they rage against the opposition – as in 1999, when they were used to break the student movement. At all times, they celebrate the cult of self sacrifice.

Zapatista Comandanta Ramona, R.I.P.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México. — The woman
who had the command of the taking of the city of San Cristobal on the 1st
of January 1994, died this morning 6th of January 2006.

The news of the death of Comandanta Ramona was broken at the Otra Campaña
meeting in Tonalá, Chiapas, where the Delegado Zero was participating.
Since 1994 she was suffering from a terminal disease. In 1995, she had a
kidney transplant operation and with that she stole another 10 years from death. This morning she awoke in a delicate state and she died when she
was brought to San Cristobal (Trans note: the original spanish says she
"ceased to exist", but of course it would be nonsense to put it like that
in english).

Comandanta Ramona, a tiny indigenous woman, commanded the strategy of the
taking of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas during the armed uprising of
the 1st of January 1994. She was a woman who gave her life for the
struggle of her people, and who despite her delicate state of health, was
always present.

The last time she was seen in public was the 16th of September 2005, in
the plenary meeting of the preparations for the "Other Campaign", in the
Caracol of La Garrucha, Municipality F. Gomez.

In giving the news, Delegado Zero announced the suspension for 2 days of
the programmed "Other Campaign" tour, and the return of the delegation to
the Caracol of Oventic, in order to be present at the funeral of this
great woman, Comandanta Ramona.

American Marxist Theorist Harry Magdoff, 1913–2005

Wikipedia and Autonomedia

Henry Samuel Magdoff (born 21 August 1913), commonly known as Harry Magdoff, died today. He was a prominent American socialist commentator. He held several administrative positions in government during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt and later became co-editor of the Marxist publication, Monthly Review.

Early Years

A child of poor Russian-Jewish immigrants, Magdoff grew up in the Bronx. In 1929, at age 15, Magdoff first started reading Karl Marx when he picked up a copy of The Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy in a used-book store. "It blew my mind," recalled Magdoff in 2003. "His view of history was a revelation....that got me started reading about economics. We were going into the Depression then and I wanted to figure out what it all meant." His interest in Marx led him to embrace socialism.

George Gerbner, 86;
Educator Researched the Influence of TV Viewing on Perceptions

Myrna Oliver, Los AngelesTimes

George Gerbner, an educator and pioneer researcher into the influence of television violence on viewers' perceptions of the world, has died. He was 86.

Gerbner, the former dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, died Saturday at his home in Philadelphia of unspecified causes.

Always interested in storytelling, the Hungarian-born Gerbner became concerned as television and motion pictures supplanted family members and friends in relaying tales both true and fictional.

Outspoken Professor to Leave Yale Faculty

Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A professor who also is an outspoken anarchist has
agreed to leave Yale University this spring, dropping an appeal over
whether his termination was politically motivated.

David Graeber, one of the world's leading social anthropologists, said he
will teach two classes next semester, then take a yearlong paid
sabbatical, after which he will not return.

"The Old New Clothes of the French Republic:
In Defense of the Supposedly 'insignificant' Rioters"

Yann Moulier-Boutang, Le Manifeste

Major events are not necessarily beautiful, nor joyous. They take you by surprise. They do not necessarily produce integration. The reason why they happen never says anything about the moment of their actual occurrence. They are overdetermined in the same way as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back: there is a long build-up, and then, one day, submission no longer holds, and you tear down the house.

A riot is rarely a cause for enthusiasm. Its actors are usually unknown, confused, and seldom heroes. There is more than a whiff of undirected, aimless violence in a riot. Unlike wars or revolutions, the dead it leaves, or who lie in its dazed wake, will never be decorated. "Melancholia" [1], despair, "nihilism", "loss of self-confidence", are the conventional vignettes the not-too-stupid Right promptly used to label the rioters.

Eric Goldhagen writes:

On Thursday November 24 2005 the struggle for justice and fair housing lost one of its greatest fighters, Carmen Rubio.

Among the many gifts she gave to the community on the Lower East Side is the Children's Magical Garden, a once rubble strewn lot that she and her life partner Alfredo Felicanio transformed into a beautiful space for the children of the community.


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