Recent local blog posts

Summer at the Library Focuses on Mind and Body Fitness

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 4:08pm

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Submitted by the Timberland Regional Libraries  Healthy minds and healthy bodies make children happy learners. This year, “Summer at the Library” focuses on health and fitness. Programs will offer fun for all ages – birth through teens – and all interests. Many popular performers will be back, with shows tailored to the fitness theme. The

Home Ownership Plan for Millennials – Part III

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 3:35pm

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Submitted by On Q Financial As we head deeper into residential real estate ‘high season’, positioning yourself as a strong buyer is crucial to purchase contract negotiations. One of the many steps you can take to help represent you as a strong buyer is to obtain what is known as a pre-qualification letter (within the

Hundreds of Cancer Survivors Celebrate

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 2:41pm

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Cancer. Survivor. Celebration. Three words taken separately elicit disparate responses. String them together and they become fiercely encouraging. On Saturday, June 4 Providence Regional Cancer System hosted its sixth annual Cancer Survivor Celebration with the mantra “finding inspiration, celebrating life.” The Norman Worthington Conference Center at Saint Martin’s University was filled with about 250 survivors,

A Little Story About Little Shop of Horrors

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 2:27pm

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Submitted by Harlequin Productions On May 5, Harlequin Productions opens Little Shop of Horrors by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Little Shop has become one of the most popular musicals in Broadway history, but the story of how this musical became the hit show it is today is as “strange and interesting” as the little

Saint Martin’s University Names New Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 2:06pm

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Submitted by Saint Martin’s University  Jeff Crane, Ph.D., has been named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Martin’s University. Crane comes to Saint Martin’s from his position as associate dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. In

Westport Winery Gold at Seattle Wine Awards

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 2:02pm

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Submitted by Westport Winery Garden Resort Westport Winery’s Elk River Riesling earned a gold medal at the 2016 Seattle Wine Awards held in May. The grapes for this wine were grown at Red Willow Vineyards in the Yakima Valley AVA. Director of Winemaking Dana Roberts said, “This is one of the oldest most prestigious vineyards

Sun Protection from the Inside Out

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 1:38pm

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Submitted By Niki Whiting for Radiance Herbs and Massage You’ve found a full-spectrum sunscreen. You’ve got your broad-rimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt. What more can you do to boost your sun protection? You can start by thinking of sun protection from the inside out. By making a few healthy changes to your diet you can boost

5 Tips to Create Powerful Events Calendar Entries on ThurstonTalk

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

The ThurstonTalk Events Calendar is a powerful tool for sharing your organization’s local events. Our Events Calendar tab is consistently in the top five pages visited daily and our readers know it as the go-to source for what’s happening around Thurston County. With more than 308,000 unique visitors to ThurstonTalk.com monthly, utilizing the free online

The Village at Mill Pond: Green Inside and Out

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Ask a visitor their first thoughts about the Pacific Northwest and most make a comment about how our area is “so green.” But residents know it goes so much deeper than that. Here, green living is a passion. Recent studies rank Washington the second greenest state in the country, with high scores in water and

STEM Prepares Kids for the Future at Northwest Christian Private Schools

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

STEM programs are giving local students, from preschool to high school, real life skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). At the Northwest Christian Private Schools, the nearly three-year-old STEM program was given life by Superintendent Larry Weber and is thriving at both Northwest Christian High School (NCHS) and Community Christian

Local activists stand up to Tesoro

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 3:16pm

Olympians arrested in Anacortes opposing climate change and fossil fuels

By Olympia Confronts the Climate Crisis

Twenty-one Olympia area climate activists with Olympia Confronts the Climate Crisis went to protest fossil fuel expansion at Tesoro Refinery at Anacortes and support the Break Free: PNW effort May 12-15.  This was a call to break from fossil fuels.  Six Olympia activists, motivated by the urgency of the situation and need caused by the climate crisis, and lack of effective effort at state or federal levels, planned to do civil disobedience in the form of trespass to block the oil trains and risk possible arrests.  They had previously taken nonviolent direct action training.  Because arrests were made at 5 AM Sunday morning only three Olympia activists were on the tracks at the time the arrests were made.  Three others planned to be arrested but were at other locations in the action when the arrests were made.  The Olympia area activists arrested were Todd Davidson, Scott Goddard and Scott Yoos.  They face arraignment in Skagit County Superior Court on June 2.   Forty-nine others who refused to vacate the tracks were also arrested.

Olympia Confronts the Climate Crisis #1

Background

The Northwest Regional Action took place at the Shell and Tesoro refineries near Anacortes, Washington, from Thursday May 12-Sunday May 15.  This included some pedestrian and kayak trespass civil disobedience actions but refineries were not shut down nor was there interference with refinery workers.  On Saturday, May 14, there was a family friendly protest and Native Water Blessing and rally with Indigenous Peoples at the facilities attended by more than 1,000 People. Sunday after the arrests there was another protest march down the refinery road. People from all around the west participated in this citizen effort to hasten the end of the fossil fuel era and bring about a just transition to 100% renewable energy.  [See video on the event:  Break Free PNW: Direct Action Gets The Goods]

This regional focus for the Break Free was selected for the action because of proposed oil train expansion projects and new xylene plant planned for the facility.  Already the Shell and Tesoro refineries near Anacortes are the largest source of carbon pollution in the Northwest and refine 47% of all the gas and diesel consumed in the region.  Our government and others have been unable or unwilling to stop expansion of fossil fuel energy projects in spite of scientific warnings that the lives of millions would be put at risk and life on our planet could end with the continued rate of use of fossil fuels.  Pope Francis even pointed out that climate inaction puts the planet at the point of suicide.  Canada just gave preliminary approval to a major oil pipeline and export expansion in British Columbia.  Tesoro plans on expanding oil train shipments and exports from their site at March Point at Anacortes.  Fossil fuel expansion and export facilities are also proposed along the Columbia River and in Grays Harbor.

Scientists, 195 national leaders at Paris UN Conference and world religious leaders have pointed out the need to end the fossil fuel era to reduce worst effects of climate change and have a livable planet. Our energy system must change within years not decades.  We have a moral responsibility to direct an aggressive change to sustainable, renewable energy to preserve a livable climate for our children and grandchildren.

Everything proposed by governments has been insufficient to stop the fossil fuels era or give our children a livable planet.  [See recent report: “Warming far outpacing climate action, as UN negotiators meet in Bonn”]

Citizen action is essential if we are going break free from our addiction to fossil fuels.   Accountability to create a stable climate falls to civil society–you and me!

Bob Zeigler’s notes

We began the March to Water Blessing Site at the tip of March Point with a moving call from Swinomish, Tulalip, Lummi and Lakota Climate Leaders on the deep need to protect our Mother Earth.  They sang songs and told us that violence against women and violence against the earth were part of the same dynamic.  Approximately 1000 Native and non-Native activists marched toward the water blessing site to the beat of Native drums and songs led by Swinomish Ronald Day.  A Native flute player also accompanied the journey with songs about the Sacredness of the Water and also a song about the birds in which you could hear the actual songs of various birds.  The songs of all the Native peoples made the long journey very rich as we walked along the edge of the coastal estuary on one side and estuary and oil trains and pipeline and refinery on the other.

Jewell James, Lummi Elder, Master Carver and Native Climate Activist Leader, told how it was the Native women who first felt the pain experienced by Mother Earth and told the Native men they needed to “Warrior-Up” and join them in placing their bodies in a way to protect the earth and stop the destruction.  He issued the call for more Native peoples to “Warrior-Up” and join the movement to protect the earth and its climate.  He said, Pope Francis issued a great letter on climate (Laudato Si) and everyone should read it.  He said Catholics need to follow the Pope and Stand Up to protect the earth as well as all people of all religions need to stand up now to protect the earth.

The Tulalip held a Water Blessing Ceremony at the estuary edge as eagles circled overhead at 2 PM.  This was at the same time water blessing ceremonies were carried out by indigenous peoples around the world.  A Lummi Canoe pulled by young Lummi men and women came to the shore and had a landing ceremony in which they asked the Swinomish for permission to come ashore.  They asked for assistance in lifting the canoe to the stage and two young non-Native women deeply moved went racing over to assist.  The young Native canoe team had attended the Paris Climate accords last December to give witness to the need for action.  They spoke on why they did this and sang and danced.

I spoke to one young non-Native woman, a student at Fairhaven at Western Washington University, who told me that May 14 was her mother’s birthday and that is why she was there for her mother and knew her participation would make her mother proud.

Native March Leaders

Notes from Bourtai Hargrove

Day One: After numerous meetings in the hot sun at Finney Farm near the Skagit River, we left at 5:00 PM in a caravan to blockade the railroad track. The site was excellent, a raised track clearly visible to traffic traveling into Anacortes on Highway 20. We had to park and quickly scramble up to the track with all our gear—sleeping bags, pads, chairs, and provisions, to occupy the track before we were stopped.  Bev Bassett, Don Coughlin and I sat next to the Seattle Raging Grannies at the head of the line; Rod Tharp was helping erect a large metal structure and our striking Break Free banners further down the track. It was exhilarating! Break Free had planned well; we had enough food and water to feed 150 people for three days.

Sixteen law enforcement vehicles with flashing red and blue lights arrived almost immediately. State Patrol Officers and Skagit County Sheriff’s Officers in full riot gear— ballistic helmets with tear gas visors, control batons and padded protective suits—stood conversing in groups, deciding what to do. As the sun set, we watched traffic on Highway 20 slow to get a glimpse of what was going on and Break Free organizers as they finished setting up camp.

We erected an information table, ten or twelve sleeping tents, and three small pit-stop tents in the tall grass with makeshift composting toilets inside.  At 11:00 PM, all the law enforcement vehicles, except one, left simultaneously.

The sharp-edged gravel around the tracks did not look very inviting to sleep on, so Bev, Don and I decided to sleep in our folding chairs. As night fell, it became cold, so we pulled sleeping bags around our legs and up to our shoulders. Bev gave her sleeping bag to a young activist without one, so she was exposed all night to 40 degree temperature and colder winds. She tried to ignore the cold by conversing with the many people walking by our site.

It was impossible to sleep. The flashing street lights, laughter and voices, drum beats from someone’s boom box, and our cramped legs kept us from dozing. Since law enforcement had apparently decided to let us stay until the next train was due, barricading the tracks became an exercise in endurance.  By morning, Bev was too cold to stay longer, so we decided to leave for our rented house in Anacortes to recuperate.

Special thanks to Sue Langhans, our support person at Finney Farm and for the invasion of the tracks. She tirelessly helped us with heavy bags and gear, drove my Prius to the invasion site, helped us up onto the tracks and then stayed parked within sight for several hours to be sure we were safe.

Day Two: Indigenous People’s Day. Break Free’s plans for family-friendly activities on Saturday were successful. KOMO News has great photographs of the four mile procession to the end of March point which show the colorful marchers against a backdrop of the formidable industrial structures of the refineries—smokestacks, cylindrical cooling towers and storage tanks, and the ubiquitous round waste water and sludge settling basins. [KOMO News: “Anti Oil Protests” and “Break Free: May 14Thanks also to our excellent photographers, Bob Zeigler and Bill Copeland. Kayakers had a difficult two mile trip across open water to the end of March Point and an even more difficult trip fighting the currents on the way back. Kudos to Donna Albert, who made it all the way and was exhausted when she arrived back at the rental house.  All the kayakers arrived safely, thanks to our kayak master, Jeff Snyder. Jeff conducted many of the kayak training sessions and planned the kayak safety measures. After the salmon dinner and the speakers, we had a magical luminary procession through downtown Anacortes, with glowing salmon and globes held high to illuminate the night. Rod’s beautiful Orca was part of both processions—the Indigenous march in the afternoon and the luminary procession at night.

Day Three: At 6 AM Sunday morning, Sue Gunn received a call that the rail blockaders were being arrested. All ten of us in the rental house scrambled to get dressed and out to the blockade site, hoping to join a support group or get arrested ourselves. We arrived too late, everyone and everything had been removed and law enforcement officials prevented access to the site. As our jail support person, Sue Gunn, went to the jail to see that our three arrestees—Scott Yoos, Scott Goddard and Todd Davison—were cited and set free. A meeting was held later in the morning at the Deception Pass camp site to decide on further actions. Those of us who still wanted to risk arrest drove in a bus and cars to the March Point Park and Ride. We marched as the thin green line, five in a row with locked arms, dressed in transparent jump suits each with a big green X on the back. All entrances to the refinery side of March Point were guarded by a phalanx of armed police and security officers. We sat down at the first gate, singing and chanting. Break Free has some great songs, including Rising Tide’s theme song, “We must rise like the tide”.  Here is one chant I remember:

We have a duty to fight,
We have a duty to win,
We must love one another and protect one another,
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Later we traveled farther up March Point, stopping once on a bridge to wave at the kayakers coming to meet us, then sat down again at the second entrance gate. Members of the group rose to speak about the climate emergency, but it was the wrong audience—we were already committed to the cause. Maybe the rows of heavily-armed security guards and officers listened. Finally, we were told that the plan had been to sit-in at one the security gates until we were arrested, but the officers told us they would not arrest us that day and probably not for several days. We left, somewhat dispirited, to plan for greater demonstrations another day.  But we can be proud—all of the members of our small affinity group participated and we did our best. There was a debriefing on Wednesday night, 4:30 at Rod’s house.

Notes from Becky Liebman on the final day

Sunday came. Cops cleared the tracks shortly after 5:00 am that morning. Arrests were made. So a new plan emerged under the big firs at Deception State Park: to exercise a civil disobedient protest at the tracks closer to the refineries. We got our instructions, signed our forms with emergency contact information, made arrangements for our gear and cars, and readied ourselves, in body and mind, for possible arrest.

About 150 or 200 of us met at the park and ride near the refineries, locked arms in groups of five, and set off, not exactly clear of what to expect.

As we approached, we discovered we were blockaded from our goal. So… there we sat. We sang, we shared, we listened, clueless about what would happen next.

I burst into tears when, in the shadow of hulking cops in full black riot gear, the organizers said,  “Let’s declare victory and head back.”

Why the tears? In part, it was relief. Those police dressed in bullet proof vests and shields; we wore (over our clothes) papery white jump suits. They were burly middle-aged men, with a few women among them; we ranged in age from babies to octogenarians. They held batons, guns, cans of pepper spray; we held each other. They were there to protect the oil refineries; we came, as one protestor said to “put our bodies in the gears of the fossil fuel economy to demand a just transition to the post-fossil fuel economy.”  Gears can be painful.

But I like to think the tears gushed gratitude for the young organizers who worked for months for this moment, who somehow, in the fast pace of the day, had, behind the scenes, invented a plan, agreed upon it, and asserted it.

They juggled so many variables that day, like the diversity among us, not only in age but also in experience and tolerance for the unknown. We ranged from anarchists to law-abiding rule followers. The organizers needed to plan on the spot. Their choice? To celebrate what had been accomplished and look to the future.

They deserved to celebrate! They had drawn participants from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, and Alaska, an estimated 2,000 of us during the course of the weekend. Tracks were held; people were educated and emboldened to act. All this during a weekend of volunteer food brigades, organized transportation, strategically placed composting toilets, solar panels for cell phone recharging, trained legal and medical at the ready. Throughout the weekend, participants were encouraged to “self-organize” for certain tasks as needed. Artwork and music lifted and unified.

Olympia Confronts the Climate Crisis     Olympia Confronts the Climate Crisis

We are not oblivious to the fact that we all used fossil fuels to get there.  Life as we know it moves by gears powered by fossil fuels. Nor are we oblivious to the data on climate change: record breaking temperatures; swings of drought and floods; ocean acidification levels.

Was it effective? Well, that depends on your criteria.

But I can definitively report that it made this old, retired librarian well with gratitude for the hearts and minds that planned the Break Free actions, for those who held the tracks on Friday and Saturday and allowed themselves to be arrested, for the company I kept throughout the weekend, all of whom made me want to stand a little straighter, walk a little longer, speak a little louder, and be a little braver.

All of which I will use as I work to pass the initiative on this fall’s ballot, I-732, putting a truer price on industrial carbon emissions and reducing the state sales tax by one percent. (The campaign is already a success, for it is generating heart to heart conversations on doorsteps.)

Civil disobedience and shoe leather: both are needed to deal with this inconvenient truth of climate change.

Olympia Confront the Climate Crisis is the Direct Action Committee of the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation. Bob Zeigler, Bourtai Hargrove, and Becky Liebman are long-time Olympia activists and members of the Olympia F.O.R.

The Break Free from Fossil Fuels in the Pacific Northwest at the March Point refineries in Anacortes, Washington was part of a mid-May week of climate action across the globe initiated by 350.org in conjunction with a large number of groups.

For more information on the action: breakfreepnw.org or contact Sue Gunn at 360 918-8012; Olympia Confront the Climate Crisis e-mail: olyccc@earthlink.net: web: www.olyccc.org.

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Hoo-hah! The scent of a woman!

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 3:04pm

Comments on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s malodorous feminism

By Enrique Quintero

Learning from others is anti-American, even if it could benefit women

Occasionally Hillary Clinton is inclined to tell the truth.  One of those sparse occasions took place in the early 90’s when she reassured Larry King that “there is no Left in the Clinton White House”.  Another, more recent, instance that unveils the ideological longevity of her neo-liberal values happened in February of this year when dismissing Bernie Sander’s idea that the U.S. could learn from other industrialized nations which are able to provide higher quality socialized services; she stated that although she loved Denmark,  “We are not Denmark, we are the United States of America! ”

The implications of statements like this oscillate and ultimately cover all the territorial space of political arrogance, stupidity about social learning processes, and unsubstantiated delusions about the superiority of American capitalism and U.S. exceptionalism. The progressive news organization “Common Dreams” commented on Clinton’s statement by reminding us that “ America’s twenty-first century ‘exceptions’ appear as dubious distinctions: gun violence, carbon emissions, mass incarceration, wealth inequality, racial disparities, capital punishment, child poverty, and military spending.” A sobering list meant to dissipate the conceited mind of American superiority.

From a feminist perspective, Denmark, among other things, has one of the highest levels of positive indicators regarding women’s rights and gender equality. In fact, Denmark even has a Ministry of Gender Equality that oversees the implementation of progressive policies in areas such as: equal participation in political and economical decision-making; equal promotion of women and minorities to the labor market; LGBTQ issues; gender equal pay and equal retirement pensions; reconciliation of private and professional life i.e. maternity, paternity and parental leave; and eradication of gender-based violence.  I believe that for American men and women, there is more than one idea worth considering and emulating from the Danish experience.

The rhetoric of American exceptionalism has had painful consequences on men and women of color around the world, particularly when wrapped around the logic of continuous expansion of American capitalism and the interests of the military industrial complex and its surveillance state.  In all of these areas, as senator and Secretary of State, Clinton played a central supporting role, not to mention her openly hawkish statements trying to destabilize Russia as well as elected governments both in Latin America and the Middle East, while keeping the accomplice silence of the collaborator regarding oppressive regimes in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait—the last three notoriously famous for their repressive treatment of women.

Feminism has been known since its beginning for fighting for gender equality and it has always leaned towards the left of the political spectrum; also, historically, it has always been able to learn from other feminist, progressive, and revolutionary experiences around the world.  In other words, feminism has always placed itself on the left, and has never been parochial or culturally dismissive of others.  Clinton’s self-proclaimed feminism has the function of giftwrapping the perpetuation of existing structures of power which, throughout her political career, Hillary Clinton has been unable and unwilling to challenge.  It seems that for her the axis of feminism is exclusively centered in her persona.

Hoo-hah! So, what is the scent of this woman?

It is important to differentiate here between the ‘scent’ that Clinton is attracted to, and the ‘scent’ that transpires as result of her political actions and the company she keeps. I believe the late Christopher Hitchens captured the essence of Hillary Clinton when he stated that her main crime consisted in “the transmutation of public office into private interest and vice versa. ” Hillary’s good friend and soul mate Henry Kissinger would certainly approve her behavior since for both, power and money constitute the ultimate aphrodisiac.

There have been numerous articles written about the close ties between the economic ascendance of the Clintons and their political careers and associations with Wall Street.  According to Forbes, Hillary and Bill Clinton are worth $45 million (this is not counting the value of blind investments handled by third party financial institutions).  Robert Yoon, an analyst for CNN, reports that between 2001 to May of this year, the Clintons combined earned more than $153 million in paid speeches, averaging $210,795 for each address. The main ‘donors’ paying the fees are not of course philanthropic, humanitarian, or charitable institutions, but the usual suspects of high financial speculative organizations such as Goldman Sachs, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, and City Group among other Clinton benefactors.

According to the Center for Responsible Politics (Open Secrets), since the beginning of her search for her party Presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been the recipient of over $289 million dollars, most of it a result of the agency of Super PACs and hybrids of the same nature.  As Senator Sanders put it, “ Clinton is funded by Wall Street! ” It would be utterly naïve to assume that these contributions are simple acts of generosity and not part of the rules of a game meant to perpetuate power and articulate the codependence between power and money, between politics and economics.

Hillary Clinton’s close ties with American corporations—past and present, from Wal-Mart to Goldman Sachs—are hard to reconcile with true feminist values, as Liza Featherstone suggests in her book False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton. “If feminism only concerns itself with the women at the very top of our society, it is not feminism at all. It’s just elitism.” In her book, Featherstone points out the following events of Clinton’s career that indicate the true character of her politics, and the negative impact on women, among others:

Clinton’s presence on the Wal-Mart in the board of directors never reflected any measures on her part to address Wal-Mart systemic sexism. In 2002 Betty Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores is the largest sex-discrimination action class suit in American history;

Clinton explicitly stated during the campaign that $12 per hour should be fine enough as a federal minimum (compare this to the amount the banks paid on average for each of her speeches before the members of her privileged class);

Clinton disavowed the single-payer care system, which would lower costs and ensure that everyone could have access to health care. In other words, she opposed socialized medicine, which would insured care independent from employment or marriage;

The well documented, active campaign on her part to repress and silence the various women who have accused her husband Bill Clinton of sexual abuse and rape, in spite of having stated once that “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believe and supported.”

  1. Clinton’s Simplistic Essentialism

A key point of Clinton’s campaign has been her self-declared feminism. Nonetheless, lacking a political platform able to link her claims against the multiple oppressions that women endure or the truly social emancipatory goals of socialist feminism as in Bernie Sander’s case, her feminist argumentation has been reduced to ask women and men to immolate themselves upon her identity as a woman, as if this condition was the central classifier of feminist theory and practice for the American people. In other words, if you are in favor of gender equality you must vote for me, I am your model! I am your muse!

Not everybody agrees with Clinton’s sense of entitlement. This is particularly evident among young women and men, a demographic group that in overwhelming numbers tends to favor Sanders; however, she does have some feminist followers on her new pilgrimage to the White House; they are mostly socially prosperous, upper-class, white baby boomers, plus a small group of disoriented liberal intellectuals like Katha Pollit, who in an article for the Nation, “Why I’m ready—and Excited—for Hillary”, after reminding us in the first line that she attended Radcliffe College, presents as her main argument for why we should support  Clinton what amounts to a simple knee-jerk case of gender solidarity. Pollit tells her readers that “racial and ethnic minorities can be extremely loyal to their own, but women are hard on other women” and appeals to this group to overcome their resistance because “Hillary will be the first woman president—and that is important”, and “Hillary is a feminist and is running as one”. Those are literally her arguments.  Given the previous paragraphs in this article, it seems clear that the gender identity of the president bears little weight if such an individual is an engaged and active participant in favor of capitalism as a system of social relations and specific political power. Ironically, in the current election, it has been a man, Bernie Sanders, who is the candidate with the most advanced feminist platform. Granted, it would be great to elect a true progressive feminist woman to the Presidency, but Hillary Clinton is clearly not socially progressive and her feminism is at its best opportunistic and shallow.  So, to parody a line of the famous Hollywood movie with name similar to this article’s title,  Hoo-hah! Feminism is not the sent of this woman!

If we are to take the faulty logic of gender and minority essentialism to its last consequences, people like me, a man, of Latin-American origin and cultural background, should be first and foremost loyal to my assigned minority condition and support the likes of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both of whom happen to be not only men, but also men of Latin American ancestry. After all, to paraphrase Pollit’s arguments, one of them could become the first Latino president, and “that is important.”

On the other hand, feminism is very important and it matters. We must not allow it to be manipulated in the hands of self-serving women, or men.

Enrique Quintero was a political activist in Latin America during the 70’s, then taught ESL and Second Language Acquisition in the Anchorage School District, and Spanish at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He currently lives and writes in Olympia.

The post Hoo-hah! The scent of a woman! appeared first on Works in Progress.

Opportunity for Olympia: 1.5 percent income tax on the wealthiest 3 percent

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:57pm

By Danielle Westbrook

This year, Olympia can seize the rare opportunity to address income inequality, increase revenue, and fund higher education for our community.

The initiative, Opportunity for Olympia, would provide at least one year of community college tuition, or the equivalent towards public, in-state university tuition for all high school graduates or GED recipients in the Olympia city limits. Nearly 2.5 million dollars in revenue will be raised through a 1.5 percent tax on household income over $200,000—95 percent of which would go to funding education, not administration.

While the tax only applies to the wealthiest 3 percent of households in Olympia, it would raise millions of dollars to enable high school graduates to attend community college for free. By investing in a better-educated workforce, we will be able to attract more businesses, create good-paying jobs and ensure a legacy of opportunity for our entire community.

Opportunity for Olympia has garnered broad support in Olympia, including endorsements from Olympia City Councilmembers Clark Gilman and Jessica Bateman.

“My own story leads me to support the Opportunity for Olympia Initiative,” Clark said. “I was the first in my family to go to college. I didn’t even fill out the financial aid forms my senior year of high school because we didn’t know a thing about higher education. I completed my freshman year at Evergreen, used up all my money and had to go to work. I returned several years later to complete the degree. A program like Opportunity for Olympia could offer students in my situation the support and encouragement to go on past high school.”

Opportunity for Olympia isn’t only about equal access to higher education. It also takes a step in the right direction to address income inequality. Washington’s tax system is the most regressive in our country. In our community, the lowest income families pay nearly 17 percent of their income for state and local taxes, while those in the top one percent pay only 2.4 percent. We’re leaving millions in much needed revenue on the table, and this is our opportunity to address this issue in Olympia.

“Without progress at the state and federal level on tax reform our local governments will increasingly be presented with initiatives from citizens trying to fix an inequitable and unsustainable system,” Bateman said.

“The fact is, the state of Washington hasn’t addressed tax equity. I’ve always believed that if no one is on the dance floor, it’s my personal responsibility to get something started,” Clark added.

“With so many families struggling to get by in our community it is more important than ever to ensure every student has the opportunity to thrive and earn a post high school education. We must also take steps toward progressive taxation in order to fund vital pubic services and decrease the cost of higher education,” Bateman said.

Opportunity for Olympia is a grassroots campaign. Volunteers have been on the ground collecting signatures since March. As of this writing, 1 in 6 Olympia voters have signed the petition. Over 4,700 valid signatures will be submitted to the Olympia City Council by June 21, with the initiative appearing on the general election ballot in November.

The campaign is seeking volunteers. To learn more, visit www.opportunityforolympia.com.

Danielle, a local political consultant and campaign manager for Opportunity for Olympia, is a parent and teacher, and mentors at-risk youth. She knows first hand the life-changing potential of this important initiative.

The post Opportunity for Olympia: 1.5 percent income tax on the wealthiest 3 percent appeared first on Works in Progress.

Farmworker solidarity grows across the U.S.

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:54pm

After all the lessons history has taught us, people unthinkingly continue to trample the rights of their neighbors. Doing the right thing requires effort to learn what the right thing is. The struggle of any working people is a concern for all working people.

On May first, while all the media attention was focussed on the buffoonery of the Seattle Police Department, I.W.W. members from around our region marched in Bellingham, Washington. The ongoing struggle for union recognition for Familias Unidas por la Justicia continues.

Farmworker solidarity

Early in the morning, the farmworkers began their march from miles outside Bellingham. I.W.W. picketers met up with students from Western Washington University and supporters from Community to Community at the COSTCO on the north side of Bellingham around noon.

The intrepid farmworkers marched in and joined the picket around one o’clock. A brief demonstration commenced by the front doors of COSTCO and then the entire ensemble continued onward. Together the groups marched the last three miles to Bellingham’s Maritime Heritage Park.

The farmworkers claim that the work they do is drastically undervalued by their employer Sakuma Brothers Farms. They are the biggest berry supplier to Driscoll’s Berries, the world’s largest berry distributer. The farmworkers of Familias Unidas por la Justicia still face an uphill battle, but they have caught the attention of one national news broadcast, Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! reporters investigated on the following weekend and aired an excellent report on May ninth, which can be viewed on the Democracy Now! video archive. There, COSTCO members state that COSTCO should demand from its vendors the same basic dignity that the store shares with its employees.

The boycott of Driscoll’s Berries has grown across the continent. While the spotlight briefly shined on Bellingham, pickets at the Tumwater COSTCO and others across the west coast and across the United States ensued. The infant union Familias Unidas por la Justicia even has a branch in Baja, California, Mexico.

Remind your families and neighbors before going to the grocery store that “an injury to one is and injury to all.” Learn more about this at the website, boycottsakumaberries.com

—Russ Frizzell

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U.S. Supreme Court delays decision on whether to hear Stormans vs Wiesman

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:50pm

By Janet Blanding

Ten years ago this month, a boycott against Ralph’s and Bayview began after numerous Olympia women had prescriptions for Plan B refused at Ralph’s Pharmacy. Despite more than 20 complaints filed with the Board of Pharmacy, dozens of protests outside the store, the promulgation of state pharmacy regulations guaranteeing patient access to medication, and a court battle that has dragged on for nearly a decade, the owners of Ralph’s continue to insist that stocking and dispensing emergency contraception interferes with the free exercise of their religion. So insistent are they, that when the 9th Circuit Appellate Court did not see things their way, they appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was expected that the Supreme Court would decide whether or not to review the Stormans case in mid-April. And indeed, Stormans v. Wiesman was originally scheduled to be discussed at the justices’ conference on April 15. However, the discussion of the case was rescheduled, and rescheduled, and rescheduled again. Finally, it made it into the justices’ May 12 conference, but no decision about whether to review the case or not was forthcoming. Instead, Stormans v. Wiesman was relisted for the justices’ conference of May 19, after which the docket showed a records request. This means that one or more justices asked to see the court record, presumably from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, although no details are provided on the docket. According to Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog, this indicates that someone is interested enough in the case to take a closer look.  When Works In Progress went to press, Stormans v. Wiesman was once again scheduled for discussion during the justices’ conference of Thursday, May 26, meaning a decision on whether the case will be taken up by the Supreme Court could be announced as soon as Tuesday, May 31, when the SCOTUS orders list is released.  However, the possibility of the case discussion being yet again rescheduled or discussed without a decision being reached still remains.

Janet Blanding has been writing about the Ralph’s boycott and subsequent lawsuit since 2006, when her Plan B prescription could not be filled there. After a year-long investigation, the Board of Pharmacy dismissed her complaint without action against Ralph’s.

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So what should Bernie do next?

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:44pm

Is the system working?
By Janet Jordan

Editorial note: The following is approved as a statement from the local Green Party.

Bernie Sanders has proposed the most progressive program we have heard in many years, including more taxes for the rich, taxes on Wall Street transactions, reducing the size of banks, free college tuition for all, big money out of politics, and on and on.  It has been fantastic to see so many voters, especially young ones, who feel that their concerns are being heard; there hasn’t been this much interest in a long time.

Bernie isn’t perfect; however, one can support a candidate with whom one does not completely agree. Hillary Clinton is less acceptable as she has supported the Iraq war, welfare “reform,” expanded prisons, more police on the streets, and so forth. Yet with at least one unusually honest candidate, people have been happy.

As time goes on though, and the Democratic primary process moves ahead, gloom is taking over. As I write this, following the Nevada convention, Hillary Clinton’s lead is considered by many to be insurmountable.

The problems

It looks likely that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee.  For all the emotions expended in Nevada, there were only two delegates at stake–not enough to change things. Bernie’s supporters said they were angered that the process was tilted to favor Hillary, but underneath, the anger and dismay was probably caused by a dawning recognition that their candidate just could not take control of the Democratic Party–it’s too entrenched– and what a waste that is. So many good ideas, indeed necessary ideas, and so much energy; and it’s all over, at least for this four-year cycle. We won’t get to vote for Bernie in the fall election.

When that happens, Bernie’s function will be to shepherd loyal Democrats into the fold of the winning candidate, in spite of her obvious flaws. He will encourage them to ignore better independent or minor party candidates.

Indeed that urging has already begun. He’s aware that many Bernie supporters say they won’t vote in the General Election if they can’t vote for him (thus creating a kind of third party of Bernie hold-outs), and he’s speaking out about how “stupid” that would be. He says it will ensure Trump’s election.

And party regulars want even more compliance than that. Even though he could still win (by earning two-thirds of all remaining delegates), he is being urged to quit the race for the sake of party unity.

The problems of a two-party system

In a two-party system, a party can demand that sort of knuckling under and both parties can work a sort of hostage deal on the rest of the country:  Those who don’t vote for the official party candidate will be delivering the country to the evil Other Party. The Democratic candidate holds the country’s well-being in front of her as a body shield.

Voters have fallen for this regularly over the years. Looking just at the years since Bill Clinton, we gave a few votes to Ralph Nader in 2000. It was not enough to change the outcome of the election, but the narrative of the Democratic Party has reduced support for third parties and so their candidates have come to expect that they will receive less than one percent of the vote. Pleading with third-party candidates not to run is standard these days.

For minor parties like the Green Party and the Bernie hold-outs, the hostage phenomenon is a problem. There is slight though unlikely chance that the Democrat establishment candidate’s chances might be harmed. It didn’t happen in 2000, but it could someday. It could only take one vote.

For this reason, you hear Green Party people saying now and then they will only run in “safe states”–only in states where they are guaranteed not to have any influence over the final scores. It might make the Democratic Party happy, but what a recipe for irrelevance!

There is talk among Green Party people that maybe Bernie will want to be a Green Party candidate after his Democratic Party run is over. No, he won’t.  He doesn’t want to throw the election to the Republican. Jill Stein has called him 12 times and he has never once picked up the phone.

No choice

So for the voter after the primary, the problem will be a lack of choice. From twelve Republicans, five Democrats and umpteen small party candidates, we’re down to only one Republican and one Democrat, and the likelihood that either one will represent your values are very small. As Works In Progress readers, the likelihood is much greater that the Green Party more closely matches your values; but you can’t vote for the Greens because of that hostage thing.

Over the years when voters have to vote for a candidate they don’t really like, it gives the candidate and the party the ability to move even further away from the majority’s values. Eventually neither party comes close to a reasonable platform for its base. This has already happened. The Democratic Party now takes in as much corporate money as the GOP and is sponsoring the TPP–the largest corporate giveaway in the history of the country.

How can the Democrats base take the party back? They have no leverage; they have “nowhere else to go.” After Bernie is no longer in the race, Hillary Clinton will have no reason to mention inequality, or student debt, or money in politics–Bernie’s issues. She will say those are important issues only for as long as it takes to get into office.

Numerous political commenters say the United States does not have a democracy anymore, that the wishes of the average person have zero weight in the eyes of elected officials and their parties.

This horrible predicament cannot be resolved by any kind of party politics. Voting for one candidate or another won’t help. If Bernie were to win, you’d be happy for as long as he is in office, but the same situation will await you on the other side. You cannot solve the problem while you are inside the problem.

In addition, getting “money out of politics” won’t solve it either. The influence of money cropped up worldwide in the 1970’s; some countries solved it; the United States didn’t. With only two parties, voters cannot demand any action from either of them. The countries that solved the problem were countries where more than two parties compete.

The answer, then, is outside the problem–outside the system.

A look at other systems

With the many critical issues in today’s world, we need a system in which leaders reflect the voters’ wishes, and that’s going to be one that allows more than two parties or two candidates to participate. This is necessary to encourage candidates to be honest. If a political party were to move too far from a platform the voters like, another party will come in and gain those voters’ support. Cause and effect! Accountability!

Examples include Iceland, Australia, and Brazil. Each has multiple parties and each has some type of two-step system: one step to pick a party that represents you and a second step to form a governing coalition.

Iceland has a parliamentary system. The steps here are first vote for your Member of Parliament, who is a member of some party or other; then you hope your party becomes a part of the governing coalition. To form such a coalition, a group of parties big enough to represent 50 percent or more of the people agree to act together. There’s a pretty good chance your party will be in the coalition.

The party with the most votes chooses the Prime Minister. That party can choose other parties have the most or the most important values in common. In Iceland, the two biggest parties are currently out of favor because of bad calls in the past–for example, the Prime Minister was implicated in the Panama Papers. It looks as if the Pirate Party has become the most popular with its issues of open government and accountability. It’s a tiny party that received just 5.1 percent in the last election, but that doesn’t matter. It has the same chance as any other party of being a member of the governing coalition.

None of the marginalizing tactics of the two major US political parties would work in Iceland. Each party has its own personality, its own values, and no party is considered the little brother of any other party. Bright Future at 8.25 percent is not the little brother of the Progressive Party (24.43 percent) and the Progressive Party does not own their votes. Nobody reproaches them for not supporting the Progressive Party in an election (or for just staying home).

Brazil has a two-round election system. In the first round, people say who they want, or who best represents their values. They can do that because it’s not the final vote.  It just ranks the parties by popularity.  Then all but the top two drop out and the people who were in them vote for the coalition-type party that can become big enough to take over the government. They either pick one of the final remaining candidates, or they stay home in protest.

That might sound a little like the Top Two system in Washington State, but it’s not. Our system selects the top two through the primary, an election that has no standing. Statistics will not record what your minor party won in that primary—only the two winners. It rewards the two largest parties and makes the smaller ones disappear.

Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president is being ousted from office by the Far Right in a slow- moving coup. But her party, the progressive Workers Party, will remain. It will not be co-opted by any other party and it will be available for action as the movement regains strength.

Australia has an instant run-off system. That’s the same as a two-round election, except that the second choice party is already listed on the ballot (you check off your first choice, and then your second choice). Australia has 17 parties, including 12 with either 1 or 2 members in their legislature. Those parties had enough voters in their home districts to elect a representative or a senator, and that adds to the diversity of those bodies. The remaining five parties have 11 or more members.

These systems all have a common feature: they require two steps to electing a leader. One step lets the voter identify the party that best represents him or her; the next step encourages that voter to join in a bigger coalition—hopefully including that party—big enough to overcome the opposition. The voter’s first choice is still on record and remains to give validity to that party. If the coalition doesn’t perform, there are other parties to go to.

Any one of these three systems would allow us a choice of candidates and a probability that at least one of the parties would act with integrity and in the public interest.  Any one of these electoral systems would be better than the one that exists in the United States.

So what should Bernie do?

Article after article appears with advice for Bernie: He should continue as an Independent—as a Green; he should lead a movement, a non-political but powerful grassroots movement for the things we want; he should support Hillary.

All of these are choices from within the system and they are all bad choices. None of them will gain for us a government that is strong for the things the US wants and needs right now. Some of these choices will put us at risk of a Republican government with its 1800’s values, and one that will all but guarantee we get the second-rate Hillary as our leader.

We need to free ourselves from the dysfunctional voting system that delivers these bad results. If Bernie speaks up for a better system, it will go a long way towards a public understanding that the voting system is holding us back and that it can be changed.

We usually don’t question the voting system. It’s American so “it’s the best’ is the general thinking. Or at least, “it’s American so it’s what we’ve got, period.” But it’s not working for us. It’s at the root of our persistent horrible problems because it keeps us from choosing a better governing party—permanently, or until the system changes.

It’s a long path towards changing the voting system, with twists and turns impossible to predict, but it starts with recognition that it needs changing. Bernie can help with that.
NEWSFLASH, May 23, 2016:  Austria has just elected a Green Party President, Alexander Van Der Bellen, over Norbert Hofer, his far-right, anti-immigrant, neo Nazi opponent.  The Green Party only had about 12 percent of the Austrian Parliament but it was a viable and visible party, and in this election, its particular values were recognized. Salon Magazine reports this as a Sanders win over a Trump opponent.

It happened in a country with a parliamentary voting system.

Janet Jordan is a resident of Thurston County and an active member of the Green Party of South Puget Sound.

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The disconnect from poetry indicates lost connection to reality

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:38pm

The Life of Poetry

By Sandra Yannone

“In time of crisis, we summon up our strength.” So begins the introduction to poet, activist, and journalist Muriel Rukeyser’s 1949 manifesta The Life of Poetry. Written from a series of lectures Rukeyser delivered at Vassar College, the California Labor School, and Columbia University before, during, after World War II, The Life of Poetry speaks from the frame of conflict to discuss the significance that poetry can bear on American culture’s need to reach always toward peace.

In Rukeyser’s experience, poetry existed as a vital, natural, human resource for a society’s people to reconcile their present fears and actively seek out hope either as poet or reader specifically because “[a]lways we need the audacity to speak for more freedom, more imagination, more poetry with all its meanings.” Conversely, Robert Frost, the 1962 Poet Laureate of the United States, who read at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and who worked from a more individualistic perspective, cited that writing poetry served its author by making meaning through the creation of “a momentary stay against confusion.”

The two are not mutually exclusive. When written to communicate openly, American poetry of all colors has the capacity to cut through the static noise of its made-in-the-USA brand of manufactured chaos and enable each of us to experience some aspect of the elusive lyrical.  Some barely recognize the faint symphonic melody when we hear it over the din of traffic while others crave its discovery in unexpected places. A poem can arrest us as a snippet of melody on a radio surprises us or as a story stored in our bones that when released, when heard, connects us with a familiar knowing that we long to nurture by turning up the volume.  That song, that poetry, is our “momentary stay against confusion.”

Broken Hinge

But how can we sustain that ecstatic moment?  How can we open ourselves to listen for greater meanings? Every Thursday while in graduate school, I would scour and highlight the upcoming week’s poetry readings in the Boston Globe’s events insert.  The twin literary meccas of Boston and Cambridge, as well as the surrounding college towns in New England, provided an abundance of opportunities. My friends and I didn’t have the money to wine and dine our way through Beantown’s finer culinary establishments, but we could afford the price tag of poetry readings (often free) and intoxicate ourselves by drinking in the life poets breathed into their poems on the page.

Often after a reading, our eclectic dinner party would pool our money to purchase the poet’s book.  The litmus test: if we heard a poem that “killed” us.  We always agreed on the poem as we did on the quest for that ecstatic, lyrical moment when the alchemy of language and meaning and truth cut through the defenses we’d walled up and grabbed our hearts by our throats, grabbed our lapels and shook us down saying “See here, you are going to listen to something, get it?” That adrenalin rush from the experience often lingered well into the night and next day when we’d meet up at school and review the previous evening’s feast.

Poetry remains an endeavor of discovery for me as it did on those electric nights in Massachusetts, and I’ve also read enough now that I’ve curated a personal anthology of poems that I turn to in time of crisis or joy or anything in between.  Housed in a small, bound, cloth book that my best friend in high school instructed me to fill with things that mattered to me, the book honors our friendship with poems about love, loss, grief, and joy.  Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.” Emily Dickinson’s “After Great Pain.” Derek Walcott’s “Love after Love.” William Stafford’s “A Ritual to Read Each Other.”

When I rediscovered the book a few years ago by accident, I opened it up and marveled at the poems that my younger, emerging adult self had curated.  Captured by the fading ink in a book now held together by an elastic band were poems that spoke perfectly to my current sensibilities.  One poem, Philip Levine’s “Picture Postcard from the Other Side of the World,” speaks of sending messages ahead to a future self. I carry this fragile book with me everywhere  now, ready if the moment strikes when I need to share a poem.

Like the poets of witness that preceded and followed her, Rukeyser plead that a culture disconnected from poetry reflected “an indication that we are cut off from our own reality.”  She urged earth’s inhabitants to use poetry’s unique capacity to speak its truth through motion and image to reverse America’s imperialist penchant for disaster, its turn away from the star.

Those poems that killed my friends and me in graduate school, like all productive poems, built momentum line by line to arrive at a pivotal moment, a threshold, where the poem’s power burst through.  In poetry, that momentary stay against confusion is called the volta, a xxx word for turn.  Poetry allows each of us to turn toward the face of one we love, whether partner, stranger, plant, animal, country, or all of humanity, whether in the light of day or the hush of night, and offer this stay against confusion.   Poetry offers us the opportunity to quell the deafening silences that divide us. Poetry encourages us to imagine a place where the last word in Rukeyser’s poetry manifesta resides.  And that last word in her house of poetry is peace.

Sandra Yannone is a poet, educator, and antique dealer in Olympia.  She is a Member of the Faculty and Director of the Writing Center at The Evergreen State College. 

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The Green Party’s Ten Key Values

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:35pm

Social Justice:   We oppose systemic global injustice and poverty.  We seek universal health care, fair payment for work, equitable drug laws and corrections to many other wrongs that exist today.

Grassroots Democracy:   The influence of big business and big government combined is undermining genuine democracy.  To help overcome this, we promote public participation at all levels of government, and a better electoral system.

Non-Violence:   We must develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence.  Greens work globally to demilitarize foreign policies, redirecting defense budgets to purposes of  health,  safety, education, and the welfare of all.

Ecological Wisdom:  We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit from the practices of our generation.  We seek to protect ecological diversity and balance.

Future Focus:  As did the Iroquois, we strive to create a society where the interests of the Seventh Generation are considered equal to the interests of the present.

Decentralization:  Decision-making in our social, political, and economic institutions should reside as far as possible at the individual and local levels, consistent with ecological sustainability, civil rights, and social justice.

Gender Equality:   We are committed to gender equality in all aspects of our society.  We wish to replace top-down domination with cooperation, compassion, communication and understanding.

Community-Based Economics:   We seek a new economics based on global ecological sustainability, livable wages, sufficient social safety nets, and democratically accountable businesses.

Personal and Global Responsibility:  We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of our planet.  We take personal responsibility in upholding our values.

Respect for Diversity:  We honor the biological diversity of the earth and the cultural, racial, sexual and spiritual diversity of its people.

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One year later—the struggle for justice continues

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:32pm

May 21, 2016

By Peter Bohmer

Drop the Charges

There was a march and rally of 150 to 200 people in the rain, May 21, 2016  from Woodruff Park to Olympia  City Hall and back. We took the streets. This is the text of my talk in front of City Hall.

Today is a sad anniversary because of what happened a year ago! Let us turn it into a positive and meaningful day. I want to thank the organizers and all of you who are here.

A year ago, two young Black men, Andre Thompson and Bryon Chaplin, were shot by White police officer, Ryan Donald. They had attempted to shop lift beer from Safeway and after dropping the beer inside the store were returning home.  Officer Donald stopped them and claimed he felt threatened by their skateboards. He shot them many times in the spine and torso. Bryson Chaplin is now in a wheel chair. In a very overt display of racism among the police chief, other law enforcements agencies who investigated the shooting, the City Council and City manager, and County Prosecutor Tunheim, charged Bryon Chaplin and Andre Thompson with felony assault, and totally cleared Police Officer Ryan Donald. Donald remains a danger as a police officer to the community, especially to young Black people.

I know the brothers—Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin—their sister, Jasmine, and mother Chrystal; they are real assets to Olympia.  Andre and Bryson are unlike what many unacquainted people think of them. Many, who have no knowledge of them, have called them thugs—a racist term. They are decent young men.

We in Olympia need to put forward a different narrative and do our own investigation about what happened a year ago because otherwise too many people will accept the police narrative designed to cover up the actions of Ryan Donald.  Many lawyers advise not to discuss the evidence.  I disagree. Giving a true version of what happened, putting holes in the police propaganda, will build support for Bryson and Andre and can create a climate that will increase the chance the jury will acquit them or that the charges will be dropped.

I have lived in Olympia almost 30 years and raised my daughter and three sons here. Several people I know had thought a police shooting of innocent young black people could not happen in Olympia; shootings of this type happen elsewhere, not in our “liberal progressive” city. Sadly Olympia, its mayor, the city council, and much of the population are not progressive when it comes to challenging racism and being inclusive around race, class and sexual identity. They are not progressive when it comes to treating the homeless population with respect and making housing affordable for all, nor progressive enough to support  a $15 an hour minimum wage and paid sick leave. They are not progressive about taxing upper income people to pay for the first year or two of college, nor progressive when it comes to ending our port’s complicity with the military and the war machine.

Let us connect these issues and build a bold and inclusive mass movement that makes racial justice a core principle. Let us challenge poverty in Olympia and beyond and make connections among all these interrelated issues which includes climate justice and the determination not to accept meaningless proclamations of concern. Let us add to our numbers in our organizations and in the streets and win these changes, but not stop there.

This is not the first time in Olympia that young people have been unjustly harmed by the police.  This is not an isolated case. Danny Spencer was killed by the Olympia police in 1989 for being high on LSD; Stephen Edwards was tasered to death for shoplifting in 2002; Jose Ramirez-Jimenez was shot and killed by the police in 2008.

In the cities where police shootings or killings have taken place, e.g., Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Akil Gurley in Brooklyn, John Williams in Seattle, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Antonio Zambrano-Montes   in   Pasco, Washington, Daniel  Covarrubias in Lakewood, Washington, and Bryon Chaplin and Andre Thompson in Olympia,  the claim is always police actions were justifiable or it was an accident.  In each of these cases, the official story is that other places  may be experiencing racism or excess police force, but not in our town, not in this specific case; law enforcement  and our city are innocent, blameless and not racist.   Too many accept this scenario—including in Olympia. Let us see through this rationale for Olympia and not let Olympia exceptionalism continue.

A year ago today, May 21, 2015,  in response to the shooting of Andre Thompson and Bryon Chaplin, 800 people rallied and marched from Woodruff Park to Olympia City Hall standing against police violence and racism. This was important and inspiring, but we need to struggle continually—not just once a year—against racism and all forms of oppression in Olympia and beyond. Let us demand the charges be dropped against Bryson and Andre, that their medical expenses be paid for by the City of Olympia, that Officer Ryan Donald be fired, that the police be demilitarized, and an independent civilian review board be created that can discipline cops who violate the law.

While it is important that we talk to people about this case and attend demonstrations and rallies, this is not enough.

We are living in a period of growing economic inequality, an accelerating environmental crisis, and a continuing practice of our government waging wars around the world. Our government and its police, along with the corporations, are waging a war at home against the working class and poor peoples, especially, but not limited to, African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Muslims.  Hillary Clinton is part of the problem—a representative of the one percent. The Republican Party candidate, Donald Trump, encourages white supremacists and fascists in creating a climate that helps build their organizations, many of them support him. Trump hopefully, because of his extreme racism, will cause a rise of a militant and bold anti-racist and anti-fascist movement. Let us be a part of this upsurge.

I urge everyone to think big and to do something every day—as individuals and in the groups we form and build, in our communities, workplaces and schools—to go beyond business as usual and beyond normal daily activities. This means listening to and talking to people we haven’t talked to before; it means a willingness to take risks and risking arrest because militancy can challenge those in power. Let us make the connections between poverty, racism, Islamophobia, militarism, sexism, homophobia, climate change and meaningless jobs and alienation to the underlying oppressive and destructive global capitalist system that is destroying the planet in order to benefit the 1%. Let us create a society based on production for need, a participatory socialist society, where sustainability is real—a non-class liberated society where poverty, racism and all forms of oppression are ended.

Drop the charges against Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson.

Si, se puede, power to the people.

Black Lives Matter!

Pete Bohmer teaches political economy at Evergreen and is active in organizing for economic justice and against U.S. imperialism. He is currently  coordinating and participating in Economics for Everyone workshops in downtown Olympia.

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GEO Group still needs to go

Works in Progress - Sun, 06/05/2016 - 2:26pm

By the Washington Youth Rainbow Coalition

Tacoma – Imagine that you had to flee from your own country to a completely new place to find a new job. Once you got settled into the country, you ran a red light or made an illegal left turn. For most Americans, and especially for most white Americans, this might result in a $100 ticket or a slap on the wrist. But for brown Americans, law enforcement not only requests your Driver’s license and registration, but also your naturalization documents. Not only does this affect legal Chicano-Americans in that those who do not have documentation with them are at risk of being sent to detention centers as documented Americans, but it certainly affects those without naturalization documents or simply those who left them at home. For Chicano Americans, as well as those who may be mistaken for being Chicano, the initial response might be to convince the police that you are not undocumented. However, law enforcement makes the ultimate decision about where to send you after you have been detained in central lock-up. For many Chicano-Americans, both documented and undocumented, you end up in Tacoma Northwest Detention Center.

Believe it or not, this is exactly what happened to Rennison Vern Castillo. He is a documented citizen but still spent months in custody before an immigration judge set him free. The circumstances in another man’s case were very much so different, though. Angel Padilla was 17-years-old when he committed an armed robbery, which he says was a huge mistake on his part. Padilla served 19 years for this crime and when released was taken back to be locked up at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. He did not commit an additional crime, but as an undocumented individual, his very existence proved to be a crime upon release from prison.

Some might say that the Northwest Detention Center serves a purpose, and that the inmates who reside there are dangerous and need to be kept away from documented citizens including women and children, who might fall victim to their predatory habits. But this opinion is all too common presently, as we have seen the mighty populism of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rear its ugly head. Xenophobic rhetoric is one thing, but when local Washington companies both operate against statistics and prove to be an efficient waste of money, all while violating basic human rights, we know what must be done. We know what must be done when only about 1,000 of the 1,300 detainees wear blue, denoting that they do not have a violent criminal history. We know what must be done when we consider that brown Americans who have simply violated traffic laws are bedded alongside the dangerous. We know what must be done when a major corporation like GEO Group makes a profit off the disastrous result of NAFTA and other destabilizing trade agreements which have negatively impacted Indigenous and Mestizo peoples in Mexico and Central America.

The Northwest Detention Center is operated by GEO Group, fronted by CEO George Zoley, and funded in part by the Gates Foundation. There have been many protests in the past three years organized by Presente and other groups surrounding issues like Angel Padilla’s lack of access to healthcare, specifically treatment for cancer he may have developed due to poor conditions in prison, as well as the conditions of “The Hole”, a place where hunger strikers are often sent for solitary confinement.

Our Rainbow Coalition has decided that based on the costs of incarceration with GEO Group, it would be much more efficient for ICE to put the “blue” detainees on house arrest and spend about $20/day to make the undocumented wear GPS ankle bracelets with occasional visits to their residences by officers. Our Rainbow Coalition has decided that it is the duty of both the Federal government (ICE) and the Gates Foundation (which is double-dipping by investing Seattle Public Schools testing programs which more often than not fail ESL students), to divest from GEO Group. We call for a boycott of all institutions to those the Gates Foundation has donated, as well as for future protests to occur outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma as well as Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle. The fight has not yet been won. GEO Group still needs to go. Please visit NWDCResistance.org if you are interested in volunteering to help shut down this facility.

The Washington Youth Rainbow Coalition is a sister organization located in Seattle, Washington.

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