Sunday, September 29, 2013

Project Censored Takes on the Root of all Evil (SOAPBOX PODCAST 9/29)

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
September 29, 2013



Project Censored has just finish a year long study on the people on the boards of directors of the top ten asset management firms and the top ten most centralized corporations in the world. With overlaps there is a total of thirteen firms in our study: Barclays PLC, BlackRock Inc., Capital Group Companies Inc., FMR Corporation: Fidelity Worldwide Investment, AXA Group, State Street Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Legal & General Group PLC (LGIMA), Vanguard Group Inc., UBS AG, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse Group AG, and Allianz SE (Owners of PIMCO) PIMCO-Pacific Investment Management Co. The boards of directors of these firms, totaling 161 individuals. They are the financial core of the world’s Transnational Capitalist Class.  Collectively, these 161 people manage $23.91 trillion in funds impacting nearly every country in the world.



*Peter Phillips is professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and president of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

We Need a Living-Wage! Guest Blog by Alan Maki

  • We have been hearing a lot about attacks on Social Security and the Minimum Wage.
    Labor has not had the proper response.

    Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO, hailed Jerry Brown increasing the Minimum Wage in California to $10.00 an hour--- but, we needed to read the small print: $10.00 an hour beginning in 2016!

    Anyone care to explain exactly what $10.00 an hour will buy you in a state like California with such a high cost of living?

    And the cost of living will be even higher when this $10.00 an hour kicks in in three years--- 2016.

    How much does a loaf of bread cost in California?

    How much is a gallon of milk?

    How much is a package of hot dogs or a dozen eggs?

    How much is peanut butter?

    How much is rent?

    How much is gas?

    How much is electricity?

    How much is college tuition?

    How much will Obamacare cost?

    Why isn't anyone placing this $10.00 an hour and the paltry increases in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 in perspective of what a working class family can purchase with the Minimum Wage?
    None of these politicians, the over-paid pundits or the over-paid labor leaders want to talk about "cost-of-living" and "standard-of-living."

    Games are being played for political expediency by both Democrats and Republicans trying to gain an edge, as usual, at the expense of working people.

    Here in Minnesota we have the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's leader in the State Senate, Tom Bakk, who boasts in his campaign literature that he was an officer in the Building Trades Unions calling for a pathetically miserly "increase" in the Minimum Wage opposing the billionaire DFL Governor, Mark Dayton's call for increasing the Minimum Wage a dollar an hour more than what Bakk wants it to be--- Bakk is crying the blues for the hospitality industry, billionaire Dayton--- an heir to the Dayton-Hudson-Target Store fortune--- wants to make sure Target Stores get to keep paying employees a poverty wage as profits soar.

    And then, tossed into the mix, there is Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson calling for the Minimum Wage to be raised to a miserly $10.00 an hour. Knutson knows better. Knutson comes from a family of Socialists and Communists who taught her about "cost-of-living" and "standard-of-living" yet she kowtows to a bunch of Dumb Donkeys.

    Many years ago, John Sweeney, then President of the AFL-CIO wrote a book, "America Needs A Raise." The AFL-CIO never mobilized the rank-and-file to win a raise.

    What has happened to the difference between what U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren says the Minimum Wage would be today had it just kept up with inflation--- over $22.00 an hour--- and what the federal Minimum Wage is today: $7.25 an hour?

    This has been sheer super-profits the Wall Street crowd has derived from the exploitation of working people.

    The only way to get this wealth back is to tax the rich to pay for universal social programs which create jobs from which we will all benefit--- universal health care and universal child care along with other government jobs programs.

    No one from the two parties is talking about the politics and economics of livelihood when it comes to the Minimum Wage or Social Security--- both of which are inseparably linked... as goes the Minimum Wage, so goes Social Security.

    In California, Cindy Sheehan is running on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket for Governor and she is pushing a working class agenda which includes a real living wage and a real living income for everyone.

    If you want a miserly poverty Minimum Wage, Social Security will continue to pay out a pathetic poverty income. You get out what you pay in. The more people earn the more they pay into Social Security. Living incomes during working years means a living income in retirement years. This is just plain old common sense which gets ignored as the over-paid political hacks and pundits sow nothing but confusion surrounding the Minimum Wage and Social Security.
    Again, and this needs to be stressed; none of these politicians, none of the over-paid pundits and none of the over-paid labor leaders want to talk about "cost-of-living" and "standard-of-living."

    Why not?

    Aren't these the main issues of concern to working people?

    Because we don't have a national political party like California's Peace and Freedom Party or Canada's socialist New Democratic Party backed by organized labor bringing these concepts into the proverbial "public square" which democracy requires if we are going to find solutions to our problems.

    Pay a worker poverty wages and you have a working class family living in poverty. Any school child understands this.

    The best way to protect and expand Social Security is through Full Employment with real living wage jobs and with a Minimum Wage that is a real living wage based on--- and legislatively tied to--- all cost-of-living factors indexed to inflation with regular increases to constantly improve the living standards of working people which would have the impact of pushing all wages and living standards up for all working people. This would result in increased payments into the Social Security Trust Fund which should be held and managed by a National Public Bank and these funds would then be available to help finance a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity"--- the solution to unemployment and any financial problems plaguing Social Security; everyone works and pays in, everyone get a real living income out upon retirement which should be at age 55 for all workers.

    What the working class needs to get behind is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity;" legislation that would be brought forward by a new working class based progressive people's party like labor has in Canada with its socialist New Democratic Party.
    I do not understand why Richard Trumka and the fifty-seven members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council would piddle around with these Democratic Party politicians who are nothing but whores for Wall Street vultures and parasites who are cutting social programs and forcing austerity measures down our throats to pay for what Mark Twain called "dirty imperialist wars."

    We need to ask ourselves:

    How is Barack Obama's Wall Street war economy working for us?

    Chances are, most working people will tell you that it isn't working out very well for them.

    In fact, these dirty wars are killing our jobs just like they are killing people and with millions of workers unemployed that means fewer people paying into Social Security.

    We need to put America back to work as Stewart Acuff has suggested and the only way to do this is through massive public works jobs programs.

    The American people need a National Public Child Care System which would create another 5-million new jobs providing working class families--- and all families--- with free child care.
    Our system of public education works just fine. It was organized labor and the working class which fought for our system of public education which creates millions of jobs--- National Public Health Care and National Public Child Care would be based on the public education model.

    A National Public Health Care System would create some 15-million new jobs providing the American people with free health care through a network of community and neighborhood clinics; instead of a network of health care clinics.

    The Democrats and Republicans are squandering our taxes and resources maintaining over 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil.

    Over one-hundred years after the Spanish American War we still have U.S. troops occupying the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. These dirty imperialist wars don't come cheap and the expensive, undemocratic occupations never end.

     We need the restoration of the WPA, CCC and CETA--- these three public works programs combined would create well over ten-million new jobs.
    Paying for all of this would come from "peace dividends" as we end these dirty wars and shut down these foreign military bases. If this isn't enough then tax the hell out of the rich--- make those Forbes 400 Billionaires pay through the nose until they cry.

    The wealth being squandered on these dirty wars and that extreme, obscene wealth being horded by these millionaires and billionaires is all wealth that we as working people have created.

    We need a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would contain all of this. By putting America to work this is the way we protect, defend and expand Social Security.

    Where are the voices of Richard Trumka and the 57 members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council when it comes to supporting such legislation?

    We need more than Richard Trumka's bark if we are going to challenge Wall Street for political and economic power--- we need to fight in a way that these Wall Street bribed politicians feel our bite.

    We placed before Richard Trumka and the 57 member AFL-CIO's Executive Council, the delegates to the National Convention, the State Feds and local labor councils this statement upon invitation to participate in the discussion and we haven't heard back a word from one single member of the Executive Council or Richard Trumka... we are asking working people to check this out to see if it doesn't make more sense to advocate for a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" instead of going along to get along with a bunch of Dumb Donkeys:

    Sisters and Brothers, Fellow Workers;

    Uniting People (UP) is a new national organization for Peace, Equality, Full Employment, Universal Health Care and Protection of the Environment. We appreciate the invitation extended by the AFL-CIO to all people and organizations to comment on its White Paper, “Prosperity Economics, Building An Economy For All” by Jacob S. Hacker and Nate Loewentheil, intended to create discussion about the direction of organized labor and the kind of country we all want to live in where peace, social and economic justice for working people prevail.

    Democracy--- as well as social, economic and environmental justice--- require no less than a full and broad discussion of these important concerns and issues.

    We agree with the concept of “prosperity economics” by “building an economy that works for everyone.” There are several very basic facts left out of this “White Paper” and it is very hazy, vague and nebulous as to what our concrete and specific goals and objectives are to be and what kind of movement and struggle it will take for the working class--- organized and unorganized together--- to create a prosperity economics for us all.

    The “White Paper” does not clearly articulate our main enemy: Wall Street. The “White Paper” doesn't reflect the fact that we, as working people, are engaged in a social, political and economic struggle for power with the intent to replace Wall Street's dominance over every aspect of our lives--- in our schools, at work and in our communities.

    Let's state right up front workers create all wealth but workers have had no say in how this wealth is distributed and used. This needs to change. Democracy requires no less.
    Let's also put it right out there before the American people that militarism and wars are squandering the wealth of our Nation to such a large extent we don't have the resources to solve our many domestic problems. These dirty imperialist wars are killing our jobs and our standard of living just like they kill people.

    Militarism and wars are a major contributing factor to the world-wide collapsing capitalist economy. No nation can continue to endlessly use the wealth of its nation to prepare for wars and to fight wars. This is sheer insanity.

    Wall Street's greedy drive for profits results in wars which exacerbates our problems.
    Detroit goes broke; the rest of our cities are sure to follow as Wall Street wallows in profits.
    Working people go without adequate health care; insurance and pharmaceutical companies get fabulously wealthy. Shorter workweeks/longer vacations with no cut in pay create jobs and would keep us healthier, too.

    Our public institutions like public education fall apart, crumble and collapse just like our roads, highways and bridges because we are constantly feeding a war machine intended to fight never-ending wars waged to protect Wall Street's assets and profits.

    Prosperity for all begins with the recognition peace is required to achieve full employment.
    Full employment is about the government seeing to it that jobs are created for all at real living wages. It is about putting people to work by creating massive universal social programs like Medicare for All, not job destroying legislation like Obama-care as detrimental to our health and jobs as wars without providing real health care reform while pushing the price of health care up instead of its stated intent to push prices down.

    Eliminating militarism and wars eliminates the largest carbon footprint contributing to global warming and climate change as the Military Industrial Complex wastes our precious resources in a huge, monstrous complex that ruins our environment--- power generation, mining, manufacturing, the resources like oil and gas required to fight wars. Preparation for war, and war itself, creates a mammoth sized carbon footprint destroying our living environment while creating massive joblessness and poverty and ill health for our people as our air, water and land gets polluted.

    The Wall Street selected politicians talk about “jobs, jobs, jobs” when their hidden agenda is really “profits, profits, profits” and “war, war, and more war.”

    The time has come to make politicians legislatively responsible for full employment and peace because prosperity economics requires: peace and full employment--- a healthy people and a healthy environment.

    Therefore, we propose that a central goal of the American labor and working class movement needs to be the building of an economy for all that is inseparably linked to peace and full employment which must include:

    A Minimum Wage tied to all cost of living factors indexed to inflation. Jobs or a living income for all.

    Medicare for All. Protect, defend and expand Social Security programs.

    Legislation prohibiting lockouts and scabbing. Repeal of “At-Will Employment” legislation--- the primary obstacle to worker empowerment and union organizing.

    Price controls are needed for food, gas, home heating fuels and electricity.

    A healthy economy means a healthy living environment and a healthy planet. We need a quality of life index.

    The two-party system is a trap for working people. We must free ourselves from the Democrats and Republicans. A working class based people's party is required if we are going to have a prosperity economics that works for all of us. We can learn a thing or two about health care and politics from our Canadian Brothers and Sisters.

    We are now at a crossroads.

    We will have an economy that serves Wall Street or we will have an economy that works for the rest of us--- we can't have both just like we can't have both war and full employment.

    We encourage the use of the proposed Full Employment Act of 1945 pushed by the CIO unions and authored by liberal Texas Congressman Wright Patman and the associated hearing testimonies to broaden this discussion:;seq=10;view=1up

    We also call to your attention the excellent Op-Ed piece by Bob Herbert, “Losing Our Way,” his last piece in the New York Times (March 25, 2011), which declares:
    "The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely."
    We ask: What ever happened to William Winpisinger's "Rebuild America Act" and the “peace dividend?”

    The AFL-CIO should bring back to life its Committee on Conversion--- from military production to producing for human needs; swords into plowshares is what was advocated by the International Association of Machinist's former President, William Winpisinger. Where is this advocacy for peace and reordering our Nation's priorities now?
    Thank you for allowing us to offer our critique of the AFL-CIO's “White Paper” and our alternative perspectives.

    In solidarity and struggle. Uniting People (UP) for peace, equality, full employment, universal health care and protection of the environment.


    Contact by e-mail:

    Finding solutions to our problems means building powerful movements backed by our own political party.

    We need to get thousands of Americans to endorse the idea of a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity."

    This means creating neighborhood and community organizations to go out and educate, organize and unite people into a powerful movement.

    Meetings, petitions, letters to the editor, tabling, educational picket-lines, demonstrations.

    Most important, we need to talk about all of this with our friends, neighbors and fellow workers where ever we find people.

    Let's really defend and protect Social Security and make the Minimum Wage a real living wage.

    Let's talk about the politics and economics of livelihood for a change.

    As Stewart Acuff says, "Every worker needs to become a warrior for justice."
    But, the question needs to be asked:

    Why isn't the AFL-CIO supporting a long-time warrior for peace, social and economic justice running for Governor of California?

    Obama campaigned on a promise to raise the Minimum Wage; instead of forcing employers to pay a living Minimum Wage, Obama forced workers to buy health insurance from private insurance companies--- one more cut in the standard of living of the working class... poverty waged workers and senior citizens hit the hardest in the pocketbook with Obamacare. So much for concern about the Minimum Wage and Social Security.

    -- Alan L. Maki Director of Organizing, Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council 58891 County Road 13 Warroad, Minnesota 56763
    Phone: 218-386-2432 Cell: 651-587-5541
    Primary E-mail: E-mail:
For more information on Cindy Sheehan's EPIC (End Poverty In California) Campaign go to

Friday, September 27, 2013

Headlines of the Near Future by Cindy Sheehan

Although I can’t escape the imperial goings on around the globe — unconditional peace always being my main focus and motivation — I am running for governor of California. However, if California is managed correctly we could easily be a global force for awesomeness (had to say it, since I am a “Valley Girl”). So, lately, I have been spending most of my time focusing on the incumbent — former Moonbeam, Jerry Brown (D).

Besides recently signing legislation approving more hydrofracturing in California and giving California’s surplus funds to private prisons to alleviate horrendous overcrowding (instead of releasing non-violent offenders and those with no risk of recidivism), he also recently signed another bill into law which would protect the elite. This is the headline of the article explaining the new law: “Gov. Brown signs bills aimed at paparazzi.
The article, which appeared in the September 24th edition of the Los Angeles Times, shows a picture of celeb Brad Pitt carrying a child and goes on to explain...


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) CAMPAIGN: For Immediate Release by Cindy for Governor 2014

End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) Campaign

For Immediate Release by Cindy for Governor 2014
September 25, 2013

Instead of focusing on Ending Poverty in California and an EPIC push for funding and expanding everyone’s access to high quality education as a human right to reduce the inhumane conditions that are fueled by profound over-crowding in the 33 state prisons operated by California, Jerry Brown wants to reward his large campaign donors by giving almost one-billion dollars of the state surplus to the prisons for profit industry.

There is a deep disconnect in a state that spends over 60k per prisoner/year and less than 9k per K-12 student/year.

Below is a chart of spending on prisons and schools from California Budget Project ( 

California Gubernatorial Candidate with the Peace and Freedom Party Cindy Sheehan made this statement: “A Cindy Sheehan administration would make dramatically increasing funding for education and eliminating poverty in our state a high priority to reduce the future need for 33 state prisons with horrendous over-crowded conditions. But, in the short run, 44% of our current prison population has been deemed at no risk for recidivism and most of these inmates can be released with little to no harm to our communities instead of being forced into the scandal ridden ‘prison for profit’ system.”

Sheehan continued: “I want to live in a state where human need is elevated over corporate greed and I am the candidate who can accomplish that because my allegiance belongs to the people of this state and I will accept no campaign contributions from crooked corporations like GEO CORP or Corrections Corp of America.”

Cindy Sheehan can be reached at:

For more information on Cindy Sheehan’s EPIC (End Poverty in California; End (the use of) Petroleum in California) Campaign, go to the website:


Cindy Sheehan for Governor 2014
2124 Kittredge St, #104
Berkeley CA. 94704
Phone: (916) 905-5167

For more information on the Peace and Freedom Party go to the website:

Is Jerry Brown out of his Fracking Mind? For Immediate Release


Is Jerry Brown out of his Fracking Mind?

For immediate release from Cindy for Governor 2014:
September 25, 2013

On Friday, September 20th, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed a bill (SB-4) to permit hydro-fracturing, better known as “fracking” in California, specifically in the Monterey Shale Formation. Fracking is a method of oil and gas production that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, under high pressure deep into the earth. Fracking breaks up rock formations to allow oil and gas extraction. But it can also pollute local air and water and endanger wildlife and human health.

Gubernatorial candidate, Cindy Sheehan of the Peace and Freedom Party had this to say about the recent legislation: Jerry Brown just signed a bill that makes more "fracking" possible in California in our already vulnerable and fragile communities and eco-systems. This is just another way that Brown demonstrates his allegiance to big oil and his total disregard for the people and environment of the state of California. Being dependent on fossil fuels is a disease that's killing our planet and an official responsible to his constituents would be leading his community away from all such usage.

From an article in the Central Valley edition of IndyBay: Senator Fran Pavley and Governor Jerry Brown claim the legislation "regulates" hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), acidizing, and other oil extraction techniques, while opponents, including over 100 environmental, consumer and community groups in the coalition Californians Against Fracking, say the bill actually creates a clear path to expanded fracking in California.

Candidate Sheehan continues: “Special interests wrote the bill and the current governor of California receives tens of thousands of dollars from the oil industry for his campaign coffers. A strong environmental plank reducing and then eliminating California’s addiction to fossil fuel is one of the cornerstones of a Sheehan campaign and future administration. The people should be demanding access to clean, sustainable, and renewable forms of energy and more comprehensive and cost efficient access to public transportation.”

“We are not in this campaign for immediate profit, we are in it for the future of our state and the people who reside here,” Sheehan finished.

Cindy Sheehan can be reached at:

For more information on Cindy Sheehan’s EPIC (End Poverty in California; End (the use of) Petroleum in California) Campaign, go to the website:


Cindy Sheehan for Governor 2014
2124 Kittredge St, #104
Berkeley CA. 94704
Phone: (916) 905-5167

For more information on the Peace and Freedom Party go to the website:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cuba Under Siege (Soapbox Podcast September 22, 2013)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2013

 For more than 50 years America's unrelenting hostility against the Cuban Revolution has resulted in the development of a siege mentality among island leadership and its citizens. This has affected politics, economics, culture, and nearly all aspects of everyday life. In a vibrant new look at Cuban-American relations, Keith Bolender analyzes, through the voices of the powerful and the common, both the positive and negative of revolutionary society constantly under pressure from the world's greatest powers. Using both historic and current examination, including comparisons with America under siege since 9/11, the work covers the roots of besiegement, the impact it has had on the Cuban people, and how and when the besiegement will end.

*Keith Bolender
Keith Bolender is a freelance journalist living in Toronto and a lecturer at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Education. He has written extensively on Cuban matters for a variety of North American publications and is author of Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba. He is also a member of the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA), where he is on their roster of experts for Cuban Affairs.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013



“I say there is no excuse for poverty in a wealthy and civilized State like ours.”
Upton Sinclair, 1934

Here in California, back in 1933, Socialist author and “crusader” (his term), Upton Sinclair agreed to rejoin the Democratic Party (he was a member of the Socialist Party) and run for governor of California on an EPIC (End Poverty in California) platform. This was right smack in the middle of the Great Depression and although Sinclair approved of FDR’s “New Deal” he rightly believed that it did not go far or fast enough.

These are Sinclair's 12 Principles of EPIC, brought up to date a little for the 21st Century:

*The natural wealth of California belongs to all, not a few.

*People should seek their own welfare, not that of their masters.

*Private ownership of the means of production is a basis for enslavement.

*Autocracy in industry cannot co-exist with democracy in government.

*When some live without working, others work without living.
*The existence of luxury in the presence of poverty and destitution is immorally contrary to ethics and sound public policy.

*The present economic depression is one of abundance, not scarcity.

*The cause of the trouble is that a small class has the wealth, while the rest has debts.

*The destruction, or waste of food, or other wealth, or the limitation of production is economic insanity.

*Remedy is to give workers full access to the means of production and let them produce for themselves and their communities and share in common the benefits and profits.

*These changes can only come about by the action of a majority of the people.

*EPIC desires to leave no person in poverty, need, or want.

Cindy Sheehan is a “crusader” like Mr. Sinclair. She never asked to be in the so-called limelight, but now that she is in the struggle, she intends to do whatever she can to bring peace and prosperity to her native state—then, hopefully, the EPIC campaign will spread across the nation and join others in the global struggle for peace and economic justice.

Current governor of California Jerry Brown often toots his own horn about some imaginary economic recovery, but that “recovery” has come at the expense of education and prison reform. California is near the top of the nation when it comes to unemployment (8.6%) and Cindy Sheehan knows that there can be no just economic recovery without meaningful jobs that pay a living wage, not a “minimum” and totally inadequate one. Of course, this EPIC Campaign for the 21st Century recognizes what Sinclair saw over 70 years ago: true economic equality cannot occur when so few own most of everything.

This so-called recovery of Jerry Brown’s has come off the backs of what he, himself calls the “vulnerable.” A recent report from the California Budget Project ( shows that still, in this “economically recovered” state, six million Californians, one-third of them children, are “living” below the poverty line.

Cindy will be challenging the lies of the ownership class, of which Jerry Brown is a member, in her run for Governor on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. 

Sinclair's vision of an EPIC state caught fire and chapters were formed all through the state, and the country and he easily won the Democratic primary in 1934, but the Republicans and other conservatives in the state made a dedicated effort to demonize Sinclair and the specter of "Socialism" and he and EPIC were defeated in the general election. Well, in 2014, we won't get fooled again!

Cindy calls on her fellow Golden Staters to join together with her and her EPIC Campaign to overcome the “1%” and help her to End Poverty in California, by joining her EPIC Campaign for the 21st Century.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cuba Diaries: "Breathing Room" Cuba 4.3 (September 11, 2013)

Cuba Diaries

Breathing Room

Cuba 4.3 (4th Trip; 3rd Day)
September 11, 2013

Cindy Sheehan

Interestingly on 9/11, I am in a nation that remembers 9/11 as the day when the democratically elected, Socialist president of Chile Salvador Allende was violently removed from office and murdered ushering in the reign of terror of US backed tyrant, Pinochet.

It always seems that the US is on the wrong side of the people’s wishes. Besides trying to assassinate, or overthrow Fidel Castro dozens of times; actually did briefly overthrow Hugo Chavez in 2002; Zelaya in Honduras; tried to remove Rafael Correia in Ecuador; forced the plane of president Evo Morales of Venezuela down fearing that Edward Snowden was aboard; all the misadventures in the Middle East, beginning with Mossadegh in Iran which is really when the US slid down that slippery slope to ruin. I don’t have the time, or energy, to list it all.

In Cuba today, the delegates (which includes me) to the conference commemorating the 15th anniversary of when the Cuban Five were arrested, were bussed to Revolution Square to view the artwork of one of the Five, Antonio Guerrero, I am including photos of some of Tony’s work in this blog—all "snapshots" of his life in prison. One of the great beauties of the Cuban people, and the Cuban 5, especially, is that they have suffered so much hardship for the Revolution, but they respond with grace, with art, with doctors, with teachers, with engineers. Nothing the US does can break their spirits and the Empire doesn’t know how to deal with people that it cannot not break, or kill!

At the art exhibition one of the mothers of the Cuban Five (Rene), Irma,
Irma, by Toni Guerrero
asked me how I was enjoying my visit to Cuba. I had a response that surprised me. I said, “I am doing great, I can breathe.” Since my first time here, every time I return, it seems like I take deep breaths and relax a little when I walk off the plane and see a smiling face at the end of the ramp. The cares and oppression of the Empire gradually melt off of me. The air is clean here and it’s not so crowded that one doesn’t feel like her space is being constantly violated. I am not one of the only ones around me who knows the truth about the USA; in fact usually I am the last to know.

I had many great conversations with colleagues from all over the world, but they now live in Cuba.

I met Sean Clancy in Holguin a couple of years ago when I went there for another conference about the Five. Sean is Irish, if you couldn’t tell by his name, but he came to Cuba and fell in love with the island, its people and the Revolution and he now lives in a resort town called, Trinidad.

Sean is very, very smart with international politics, but of course more
Sean Clancy in Havana
with those of Latin America. He and I were talking about my most recent trip to Ireland back in 2011 when I addressed members of the Dail. Many of the Senators and Members of the lower body told me that they appreciate my work, but they always have to keep Ireland’s “special” relationship with the US in mind. They LOVE the USA.
When I told Sean this he said, “by Christ, if you want to look at how to ruin a revolution in 50 years, just look at Ireland.’

Sean is also very astute about US politics. I would say more so that 75% of the people who actually live in the country. I told him about my bike ride from California to Washington, DC and how I had undergone such an effort so I could take the temperature of as many people in as many places as I could. He asked me what I had found discovered.

I told Sean that I had found that most of the people we talked to were frightened and confused. In the US, for our entire lives, we are told, taught, and lied to that our only participation in US political/social life should be at the “ballot box.” If f we have a problem with an elected official, we are told that we should “vote the bum out.” If we are struggling with any kinds of problems from joblessness, homelessness, war, hunger, crime, or whatever, we are told on one hand that we should “go through proper channels” and on the other hand that “you can’t fight city hall.” Then when we step outside those false paradigms and do something about it like Occupy or Camp Casey, we are demonized as being “crazy,” or so outside the mainstream that nothing we say has validity even if we aren’t crazy. People in the US feel betrayed and befouled by the system. However, even though most people know in their gut that there is something wrong, they can’t diagnose it.

Sean said one of the most simple, yet profound things “off the cuff” that I rarely hear in casual conversation. He said, “Exactly! It’s like people walk around with an undiagnosed disease feeling really sick, but even the terms of the cure are poisoned in the US.” Of course, Sean was talking about community and the people’s solution of Socialism and revolution, but we can’t say those words in the US. The McCarthy hearings took care of one and the NSA spying on all of our communications takes care of the other.

The terms are so poisoned and now foreign to most of us in the US that the "right" will call Obama a "Socialist" and the "left" will call him a "hero." The terms are even poisoned internationally, because the Nobel Peace Prize Committee calls Obama a "Peace Laureate."

Well, I am not shy or afraid to say either one: SOCIALISM AND REVOLUTION! We are talking about a broad-based people’s struggle, not the elitist revolution of 1776 that actually changed nothing except the shapes of the colors on the flag. Revolution in the US must come in the form of community based solutions because the days of our pop-guns matching the advanced and deadly weaponry of the Empire passed many decades ago.

I also met a very petite and pretty Japanese woman who calls herself, Maggie. Maggie told me that she was on a tour of Cuba many years ago and she fell in love with their tour guide who was there translator. Her husband now teaches Japanese at Havana University. I thought that was a very romantic story. Maggie and I did pretty well communicating with each other despite my limited Spanish and non-existent Japanese and her limited English.

Maggie shared with me that in Japan she was an activist who had gone down to Okinawa many times to protest the US bases and she fought to raise awareness about nuclear contamination because her daughter died when she was nine from Leukemia. It’s such a sad time when the hearts of two mothers who have buried their children connect in a way that tragically, only they can know. It’s a sad time, but ones heart recognizes a sister in suffering and there is a stillness in that connection.

In the evening there was a dinner given in a magnificent, old colonial building with wonderful architecture and design.

The food was wonderful, but I had to pass my fish to Sean since I don’t eat anything with a face, or anything that comes out of anything with a face, but the rest was wonderful: Yummy potatoes, mixed vegetables and we started with a banana. The food is very simple, but prepared in a way that makes it extremely edible. I, myself, am not a fan of heavy sauces and cheeses anyway and I try to eat in Cuba even less than I eat in the US. I feel like I am taking someone else’s food away and the US has already taken so much from them.

After dinner, the delegation walked over to the nearby Karl Marx Theater where we were treated to singers, actors and dance companies performing for the commemoration of the arrest of the Five Heroes. The show was well rehearsed and very entertaining. Commandante Raul Castro was in attendance.

On the way home from the Theater to the hotel, I sat with Keith, an ex-pat from Australia. Keith is retired from the railroad in Australia with a “reasonable pension,” but he was sharing with me how Australia is following Europe and the States in cutting back social services and other human rights and traveling down the path to austerity. Only we the people in solidarity can stop the global assault from the 1%

Earlier in the day, I was chatting with Sean and I said that things are really, really getting bad in the States, and he said, “It’s not just the US.”

Of course I know that—but what other nation in the world sets ITSELF up as the shining beacon of hope, democracy and righteousness. It’s the hypocrisy of the ruling class jackasses that makes it so much worse globally.

So, the night after the long day of connections, I tossed and turned and turned and tossed and couldn’t get to sleep until after 3am. Jetlag caught up with me, I guess and tomorrow is a busy day.

Hasta la victoria, siempre!

Prison Shirt by Toni Guerrero

Toni's mother, Mirta

Toni's Prison Number

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cuba Diaries: "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" Cuba 4.2

Cuba Diaries

“Tie a Yellow Ribbon”

Cuba 4.2 (4th Trip; 2nd Day)
September 10, 2013
Cindy Sheehan 

Rene Gonzalez and his partner, Olga Salanueva

Today was a rare day for me being in Cuba, or elsewhere---a day off! I hardly know what to do with myself with free time because it has now become so rare.

Every time I have come to Cuba before, my time has been very closely scheduled, but most of the time it’s hardly a chore because the people are so wonderful and they have been struggling on a daily basis since the Revolution and asinine US blockade and I try to do what I can do.

After my long trip through Panama to Cuba, I slept well and awoke ready to head down to the breakfast buffet.

I try to moderate my calorie intake even more when I am in Cuba because the society almost collapsed in the late 80’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The people here call that period the “Special Period” when they were literally starving. This was the time we saw the boat people coming to Florida fleeing starvation. During that time, the US could have stepped in and lifted the blockade and helped our neighbors, but the Empire to the north wasn’t very neighborly, it just increased the sanctions.

A friend of mine here in Havana named Alberto who has translated for me in the past told me that the mothers of Cuba saved the country during the Special Period—they even ground banana peels to imitate ground beef for their recipes. During the Special Period is when Cuba invested heavily in neighborhood food gardens and organic farming. In fact, their program to eradicate hunger has been a model for many people around the world. Unfortunately, the country still needs to import about 75% of its food.

It’s pretty incredible that such a tiny and poor country leads the US in many measurable standards pertaining to Human Rights: infant mortality rates are lower here in Cuba than in the States; Cuba kicks US butt in literacy rates with a 99.9% literacy rate; and childhood hunger has been eradicated but in the “wealthiest” country on the planet, millions of children go to bed hungry every day.

Homelessness is non-existent in Cuba. Most of the people (including high government officials) live in very modest homes or apartments. The philosophy of gluttony in all things and over-consumption isn't here. Additionally, violent crime is practically  non-existent in Cuba, but also the presence of a police state that we have in the US is not in evidence. One does not even need to take his/her "terrorist" shoes off when going through airport security. The people of Cuba have also been victims of terrorism.

The second time that I was invited to Cuba was for International Human Rights’ Day on December 10th. December 10th is when the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was signed. A document signed both by the US and Cuba, but seemingly only enforced internally by Cuba. With more military intervention looming in Syria, it seems like the US only uses the promise of “Human Rights” to justify war and gross human rights violations.

On that occasion, my sister Dede Miller and I flew from Miami to Havana. We were going to Cuba on a religious license—so we had to be photographed at the Cathedral in Old Havana—but it’s the only time I really had “permission” from the US.

I have unending problems whenever I fly to, or through, Miami. It’s a conservative place heavily influenced by Cuban counter-revolutionaries who fled the country after the Revolution taking several billions of dollars with them. This trip was even worse. American Airlines has a shuttle service that at the time flew once a day from Miami to Cuba and one of its female employees followed my sister and I around the airport for awhile yelling at us and SHE threatened us with security when we were just walking. We lost her when we went through security and had no more problems from there.

That time we stayed in a Casa de Protocol (Protocol House) that are maintained by the government in a very ritzy area of Havana where many ambassadors lived under the dictatorship of Batista. 

The Houses are staffed with drivers, cooks, housekeepers and gardeners. I learned that being a staff member in one of the Hospitality Houses is a very prestigious position because the people are descendants of those who helped the Castros and Che in the Sierra Maestra during the Revolution. Dede and I were treated as VIPs, and again, the food was amazing and tastes like, wait for it, wait for it, FOOD!

On that trip, we visited the International Medical School where Cuba trains doctors (including North Americans), for free, from all over the world. The only requirement is that the students must return to their own countries and, after obtaining a medical license go to work in a poor community for a certain length of time.

Cuba sends doctors all over South America and other poor nations in her program of true humanitarian intervention, while the country I live in sends bombs and big oil to despoil countries that are already tainted by international capitalism.

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was also invited to the conference. The other USAian was filmmaker Saul Landau, R.I.P., who made many films about Cuba, Fidel, the Revolution and the Cuban5. Saul Landau (click here for more info about him) passed away from cancer the day I flew to Cuba. He will be missed by the international solidarity campaign.

This trip was in 2008: right after Obama had been elected for the first time. I was in the office of Ricardo Alarcon (President of the National Assembly) and he told Dede and I that even in Cuba, Obama’s election gave them a glimmer of hope—frankly, I was shocked since Cuba has been steeped in the harsh reality of Empire for over five decades! Of course, Obama has turned out to be a profound disaster for almost everybody, except the 1% of the world.

Except for lifting the Bush restrictions on travel between Cuba and the US for citizens of Cuba and people who have family here, the asinine US policy towards Cuba has remained largely unchanged.

I must confess that I spent much of today catching up on news from the Empire regarding Syria. I just finished watching Obama’s nothing speech. He doesn’t have me, or many others (except the talking Blah-Blah heads on CiaNN) fooled. The only reason he is not asking Congress for permission at the moment is because he wasn’t going to get it. The UK House of Commons told him “NO!,” the UN has told him, “NO,” Putin told him, "NO," and he got many cold shoulders at the G20 in St. Petersburg. For now, there will be no bombing (by US Tomahawk missiles in Syria), but Obama didn’t rule it out, of course.

One thing that Obama said made be yell, “bullshit” at the TV was when he said he didn’t want to lead the US into another war because he has spent his administration trying to get us out of wars. He claims to have ended Iraq, where the violence is still intense and the US still has troops and mercenary soldiers there. Afghanistan has been all but forgotten in the corporate media, but its also far from over.

Let’s talk about Libya—tens of thousands of Libyans were slaughtered by the US/NATO forces and Qaddafi was brutally murdered, along with many members of his family. Obama did not get Congressional permission for that war crime. Let’s talk about drone bombing—Obama has increased the use of UAVs 500% over his predecessor. Obama has greatly expanded Africom and his rhetoric is Cold War Chilly in regards to Russia and China.

Here in Cuba, the people are also very distressed about another potential Imperial war.

Anyway, besides watching CiaNN (my only option in English), I visited some Cold War relics here in Cuba. Right on the grounds of the hotel where I am staying, there were cannon nests and tunnels pointed at US warships during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Eduardo took me on a tour in the tunnels and showed me where Cuban troops were poised to defend their country and Revolution from US aggression. I told Eduardo that I was only 5 when that actually happened, I remembered it and the tenseness that pervaded in the adults around me.
Cannon "Footprint" from Missile Crisis, 1962

I am not a huge drinker of alcohol, but today, I took a Cristal (Cuban beer) from my mini-bar and went down to the pool to take a dip and lay in the sun.

At six this evenin, many Cuban 5 solidarity campaigners met in the lobby of my hotel to tie yellow ribbons around the 12 old palm trees at the entrance to the Hotel Nacional.

This year one of the 5, Rene Gonzalez was allowed to return to
Me, Rene, and Olga
Cuba to finish his three-year parole and I was honored to meet him. He told me, “Cindy, I have dreamed of meeting you and I always wanted to tell you how sorry I am that your son was killed if I ever did get to meet you.” We hugged and kissed, and his wife Olga, hugged and kissed us as she radiated with joy that her husband was at long last home. Olga and one other wife, Adrianna, wife of Gerardo, have never been granted a visa from the US to visit their husbands—which also goes against international human rights law.

Rene has called for the international community to “tie a yellow ribbon” for the speedy return of the rest of the 5 and that’s why we were outdoors tying yellow ribbons for the 5. Here is a great story in the Washington Post, of all places, about Rene's initiative.

Free the 5 (4) and all political prisoners.

End the asinine blockade!

Personally, I have never liked this song, but I think it's sweet what the families of the 5 have done with it:

Saul Landau: Presente! (Soapbox Podcast: September 15, 2013)

Saul Landau and Fidel

Saul Landau
January 15, 1936 to September 9, 2013

Saul Landau was an internationally known scholar, author, commentator, and filmmaker who worked for forty years on social, political, and human rights issues. Landau produced over forty films, and won several awards, including an Emmy for "Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang" and the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Assassination on Embassy Row, an investigation into the 1976 murders of Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and his colleague, Ronni Moffitt. Landau wrote fourteen books his latest book puplished a month before his passing, "Stark in the Bronx" a murder mystery.

He won the George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting, the First Amendment Award, and the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award. In 2008, the Chilean government presented him with the Bernardo O'Higgins Award for his human rights work, and the Cuban government gave him the "Amistad" award in 2013.
Gore Vidal once said, "Saul Landau is a man I love to steal ideas from." 

Cindy Sheehan was in Cuba this past week and was not able
to record a new show, so we are honored to honor 
Saul by replaying the interview with him about his film:
Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up