Dedication to James Thindwa

January 21, 2020

In 2016 I published a radical manifesto with Haymarket Books called DEMAND the IMPOSSIBLE! and this is the dedication:

“For the extraordinary James Thindwa, who challenges and inspires me day in and day out with his ability to make a concrete analysis of real conditions, and then to do the work that needs to be done—again and again. And all the other beautiful people rising up against the odds for justice—for a world where no one is so wealthy that they can buy another human being, and no one so needy that they must sell themselves in order to survive—and for all those who will join us by and by.”

I miss James terribly.


Martha Biondi on the loss of our dear friend…

January 20, 2020

My dearest James Thindwa died yesterday January 19, 2020 after a courageous fight against cancer. His passionate commitment to fighting for social justice and his belief in the power of ordinary people to change their lives, and our world, will live on in the rich legacy he imparted to so many. Born in Harare Zimbabwe in 1955, James later moved with his family to Blantyre Malawi. In what ended up as a permanent move to the United States, James left for Berea College in Kentucky in 1974. There he began his commitment, as an African immigrant, toward identifying and forging solidarity with African American struggles. Upon earning an MA in Political Science from Miami University, and briefly considering a career in academia—and wisely rejecting it—James began his beloved work as a community organizer. Spanning issues from climate justice, to racial justice and the right of workers to unionize, James’ incredible skills at organizing and fighting for social justice touched countless people and communities. From 1985 to 1992 he was staff director of Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana and Ohio Citizen Action. He spent nine years as lead organizer in Chicago with Metro Seniors in Action organizing for national health insurance and mass transit. He served for many years as executive director of Jobs With Justice in Chicago, where he fought in numerous local campaigns, most memorably in the fight for a municipal living wage ordinance. His work with JwJ was featured on a Bill Moyers show in 2009, of which James was very proud. https://www.thirteen.org/programs/bill-moyers-journal/bill-moyers-the-journal-james-thindwa-and-william-greider/

He spent his last years working for the American Federation of Teachers, initially in making unprecedented strides in organizing charter school teachers in Chicago and then in the union’s efforts nationally to strengthen relationships with parents and community organizations. A lifelong activist and champion of human rights, James fought in numerous struggles including the anti-apartheid movement, immigrant rights movement, antiwar movement and many campaigns for racial justice. James was a firm believer in the responsibility of government to tax the rich, defend the rights of workers, provide free health care for all and robust support for the elderly. He refused the lure of cynicism and despair his whole life. He instilled in so many young organizers a fervent belief in the power of personal and social transformation. He served on many boards over the years, including the Illinois Labor History Society and In These Times Magazine, for which he also occasionally wrote. James loved music, especially Jazz, Soul, Blues, (and Rock and Country!) and a wide variety of the Afro-beat. He occasionally played guitar and drums in beloved South Side clubs and neighborhood bands. James cherished a wide circle of friends in Chicago and across the country and the world. He is survived by his comrade-spouse Martha Biondi, twin brother Jeff in Vienna VA and his wife Lucy; brother Robert in Harare and his wife Rosemary; sister Faith in Blantyre; his aunt, Joyce Kajama in Harare, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Arrangements are private. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to the Crossroads Fund in Chicago, a public foundation supporting the kinds of social justice organizing to which James devoted his life. An ongoing initiative will be created in his honor. https://crossroadsfund.org


On MLK, Jr. Day

January 20, 2020

Chesa Steps Up—Keep Rising SF!

January 9, 2020

DA Chesa Boudin sworn in with promises of dramatic reform


Noam Chomsky is Devastatingly Clear

January 8, 2020

Noam Chomsky: US Is a Rogue State and Suleimani’s Assassination Confirms It


Fred Klonsky writes:

January 8, 2020

As Iraqi lawmakers vote to kick American forces out of Iraq, U.S. officials urge Americans to evacuate Iraq for their own safety, Iran accelerates its nuclear program, and missions against ISIS are curtailed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted on Meet the Press yesterday that we are “absolutely” safer as a result of the airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani.

Pressed further by NBC News’ Chuck Todd, the nation’s chief diplomat used a line that may come back to haunt him.

Pompeo also said the administration was prepared for any Iranian counterattack.

“It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim, that the Iranians make a choice to respond,” he said. “I hope that they don’t.”

Donald Trump used a similar line with reporters last night, when asked about fears of Iranian retaliation in response to last week’s airstrike. “If it happens, it happens,” the president said.

A little noise.

All told, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This tally of the counts and estimates of direct deaths caused by war violence does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the US joined in August 2014.

The NeoCons, the liars, the Regime Changers, the war-mongers are back on the stage.

So naturally Paul Wolfowitz is on Fox today https://t.co/mEMzVMUtzZ

— d (@oneduran) January 7, 2020

The threat to bomb historic cultural sites is what terrorists do.

“A nation that willfully destroys another country’s heritage would be no better than the criminals who have destroyed irreplaceable sites in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in recent years,” Sara C. Bronin, a lawyer and specialist in historic preservation, wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in response to Trump’s threats to target cultural sites in Iran.

“Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do. It’s a war crime,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Dancing in the streets of Baghdad Iran.

Walsh notes that on Friday, January 3, Pompeo claimed, “I saw last night, there was dancing in the streets in parts of Iraq. We have every expectation that people not only in Iraq, but in Iran, will view the American action last night as giving them freedom.”

That “ludicrous claim” by Pompeo, Walsh adds, recalls former Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2003 prediction that U.S. troops “will, in fact, be treated as liberators” after an invasion.

Of course, post-Saddam Hussein Iraq hardly turned out to be the oasis of peace and tranquility that Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other neocons in the Bush Administration claimed it would be. Hussein was a brutal dictator, but he brought an element of stability to Iraq; with Hussein overthrown and executed, Iraq descended into a state of chaos and tribalist conflict.

The first station for #Soleimani’s funeral was #Ahvaz, the funeral continues in #Mashhad, then #Tehran, #Qom, and #Kerman… probably this is the biggest ever funeral in the history of #Iran pic.twitter.com/ngpCAUYDfH

— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) January 5, 2020


Mike Klonsky on point:

January 8, 2020

“Every member of Congress who voted to give the most corrupt, unhinged, and unstable president in history $738 billion to fight endless wars…must never tell us that we cannot afford Medicare for All or a Green New Deal.” — Warren Gunnels, Sanders senior adviser

Despite their claims that congress wasn’t consulted in advance of the latest U.S. aggressive moves against Iran. Democrats are in many ways complicit.

For one thing, they passed on chances to constrain military aggression against Iran in the recent Pentagon budget debate. Only 41 House Democrats, voted against the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which increased the Pentagon budget by $22 billion, including billions for Trump’s bogus Space Force. The final vote was 377-48. Democrats voted overwhelmingly for passage without any restrictions on the use of funds in a war with Iran.

One of the omitted amendments in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), would have barred Trump from using federal dollars for military action against Iran without congressional approval. Although the measure was included in an earlier draft of the NDAA, it was later stripped out in the compromise version that Democrats voted for anyway.

Khanna, one of the members who vocally opposed the NDAA in December, argued that his amendment would have prevented the US from using government funds to conduct the strike against Soleimani. Whether his claim is real or not remains a question, given Trump’s potential for ignoring Congress and violating the Constitution.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) also sought to include an amendment in the NDAA that would limit the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF), which permits the president to take action against anyone responsible for or associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arguing that it was too broad. Administrations have since used the AUMF to wage military action across the Middle East, efforts that have been seen as further expanding the executive branch’s war powers.

More than 30 progressive and anti-war organizations — including MoveOn and Indivisible — expressed disagreement with the bill, too. “It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of US foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump,” they wrote in their December statement.

On Sunday, Trump warned Iranian leaders against any military retaliation by boasting on Twitter that,
“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment” and that if necessary he would use it to hit Iran “very fast and very hard.”
The $1.4 trillion spending deal for 2020 that became law in December includes about $695 billion for the Pentagon, an increase of about $19 billion from the 2019 level.

But Democrats still have a chance to redeem themselves in an effort to prevent all-out war with Iran by supporting a House bill introduced by Lee and Rep. Ilhan Omar and a Senate bill sponsored by Khanna and Bernie Sanders that would block funding for any military action “in or against Iran” without congressional authorization.

We should be watching closely and taking names on who votes which way.

🚨@SpeakerPelosi announced: This week, the House will vote on a #WarPowers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. pic.twitter.com/gBH6WOy07A
— Christine Pelosi (@sfpelosi) January 6, 2020

.@RepBarbaraLee and I are introducing a War Powers Resolution in the House to prevent a disastrous war with Iran.

We in Congress must reassert our Constitutional authority and stop a disastrous war.

The stakes could not be higher.
#NoWarWithIran https://t.co/UXpKdbfk4R
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) January 5, 2020