Sunday, April 22, 2007

Three salutes over the weekend

There were three important celebrations and anniversaries this weekend. 
First, this is the time for marijuana legalization events.  Maybe I'll post more on that later and I'm hoping to write on the related issue of industrial hemp (a very valuable non-narcotic variety used for fiber, paper etc.) legalization later on. 
April 22 is the anniversary of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's birth in 1870.  He was born in Simbirsk (renamed Ulyanovsk, I assume in honor of Lenin's family name), on Russia's Volga River.  He went on to lead the great socialist revolution that created the longest lasting workers' state, and made many useful innovations in revolutionary communist theory and practice.  These include his analysis of monopoly capitalism (see Imperialism, online at, linking the proletarian revolutionary movements in the most developed capitalist countries with the national liberation movements in the colonies, strengthen both movements for freedom and democracy, and the two-stage theory of revolution in oppressed nations.  
Now to the most popular anniversary.  As most people know, today is also Earth Day, I think first established in the USA in 1970.  A lot of media outlets are portraying it as a celebration of the living Earth, which it is, but I think of it more as a day to work to conserve the environment.  This usually involves picking up trash, which I did yesterday with NE Creek Stream Watch, or lobbying politicians for better environmental protections.  I think the most pressing environmental issue now is climate change caused by humans, and it is good that there is more focus on that this year.  I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint, though I admit that I'm not doing enough, and we should all cooperate and work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Otherwise we risk a world with more natural disasters and disease, the loss of many species (probably leaving more of the weedy species we tend not to find so beautiful), and coastal flooding that will even sink some nations.  There is even a possibility that warming will actually trigger the next ice age, rather than putting it off, as some reactionaries say they think will happen.  Then we in northern North America and Europe, who caused most of the carbon dioxide pollution, will really be in trouble.  If we work to prevent this, we will have more leverage on India and China to get them to industrialize more responsibly than we did.  I also plan to write on global warming for  Alliance! later this year.              

More for the SF meeting

For the May meeting, I was thinking of focusing on immigration (since there will be immigrant rights protests again this year in May) or a different aspect of the so-called "War on Terror" and militarism, or whatever other topics are suggested.  Then we could look at some more theoretical issues over the summer, though it seems to be harder to get people to come to events during the summer.  
Link corrections/additions:

The article from the Fight Back! newspaper is online at at . - (might not be online now) this is the address I have bookmarked, and the one I gave before might not be correct  - has a lot of useful information, mostly Baathist I think - a Brazilian interview with a leader of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance.  There is also an analysis of the international significance of the Iraqi Resistance, by the Ray O Light group, posted at - this is the website of the Italian Iraq solidarity conference - this is an often cited website from Basrah, Iraq, and has all of the Iraq Resistance Reports archived, along with other information.

The 2005 Alliance! article on the Resistance that I referred to is online at .

Iraqi resistance readings

Below is a report-back from the UNC SDS and FRSO teach-in on the conference recently held in Italy in solidarity with the Iraqi resistance. 
The teach-in last Thursday
The teach-in was in the place I referred to in an earlier post and I think there were about 20 people in the class room.  When I came in the presentation was starting, with background statistics on how living standards have declined under the foreign occupation.  He also spoke about how the Italian conference was held, despite some speakers not being able to come, and an earlier attempt at a conference that was cancelled when US Congress members pressured the Italians to deny entry to people. I think Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hezbollah, and the Lebanese Communist Party were represented, in addition to Iraqi guerilla groups.  Next the speaker talked about the composition and actions of the Resistance, based on his research, Conference attendees, and an interview with a member of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance. 
History and composition of the Resistance
Kosta said part of the reason for resistance is that an Iraqi has the duty to avenge the death of a family member.  This duty came up because the occupation forces killed innocent Iraqis, including peaceful demonstrators (I think he referred to 17 killed after US troops panicked in Falluja in April 17th, 2003, but I could have the date and place wrong).  Public meetings were then held, along with underground meetings to organize cells.  The US had too few soldiers, so they tried to surround Falluja (?), but they could not block all routes.  The US has twice attacked Falluja, devastating the city, and I think Kosta said that now only people with government cards saying that they were residents before 2003 can go there.  He showed statistics showing that resistance attacks have been increasing since 2003, with a few very high spikes, I assume from the battles with al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.  The terrorist attacks we here about in the media against civilians are a minority of the actions.  I think the figure given for the number of guerillas was 400-500,000, which the speaker said he was doubtful about, but heard from several sources.  Patriotic nationalists, Baathists, Islamists, and communists make up the Resistance.  Kosta said that only about 2% of the Resistance is with al-Qaida, which targets civilians.  For this, groups such as the Islamic Army Group have broken all links with the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida.  
The militias
Militias such as the Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army, and others are also behind attacks on civilians, and they are operating through the official "puppet" security forces.  The speaker also pointed out that Negreponte was posted to Iraq at one point, and he was behind the death squads in Honduras.  There was also talk in the US military of the El Salvador style death squad option to fight the Resistance.  Perhaps that option has been taken, since the militias can get through occupation check points, even carrying many prisoners.  
Civil War?
Kosta argued that Iraqis are not split by sectarianism as much as the Western media would have us believe, and that there will not be a civil war after the occupation ends, since the occupation is fomenting divisions.  The CIA could try to destabilize the post-occupation government, but they will be opposed.  He also argued that the resistance is what will end the occupation and hold in check the Bush Administration, not the Democrats or the anti-war movement, though I doubt Kosta meant that protest in pointless, only that, like the Vietnam War protests, it is not decisive.    
There were several questions, I would say cautiously supportive of the proposition that we should support the Resistance.  Political support is all the Resistance wants from us, Kosta said, not material aid or new Lincoln Brigades (Americans who fought on the side of the Republic in thr Spanish Civil War in the 30's).  He was asked if he supported impeachment, which he said he does, though I think he also said it was a doubtful prospect and not what will be decisive.       
Hopefully he will be able to come to the TSF meeting on April 29th so you can hear this from the source.  You can read an article he wrote about the conference in the Fight Back! newspaper in March, but unfortuntely I can't provide a link at the moment. 
The Death Squads, a video available on Google Videos was suggested as a useful documentary on the action of the militias, and if I can I will download it and bring it to the meeting.
Useful readings for the TSF:

I looked at these quickly this afternoon and all but the first work, unless there are typos.  Just paste them into your browser if my blog does not list them as actual links.  I'll add more or edit these later.  They are a mix of documents about the Resistance and Iraq or directly from the Resistance, representing a variety of views, along with more about the non-violent Iraqi Civil Resistance.  These aren't required readings for the meeting, but could help answer questions, provide more context, and prompt discussion. (might not be available now) - a lot of useful information, mostly Baathist I think - list and links to many Iraqi political parties, including the Worker-communist Party of Iraq (which has an English language website), which is mentioned in "Iraqi Civil Resistance" - also links to parties and copies of the Iraqi consititutions, NGOs, etc. - an interview with a leader of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, which is an alliance of several secular and religious groups resisting the occupation, and formed during the 90's to oppose the sanctions.  I can't remember the link, but you can find it in the what's new section near the top. - this appears to be the IPA's website - I think this is the website of the Italian conference

The October 2005 edition of Triangle Free Press carried an interview from (the Voices of the Resistance series), with Sheik Hadi al-Khalassi, of the Iraq National Foundation Congress, a political group seemingly speaking for the Resistance.  I can't find the interview online and I don't think I saw an INFC website, so I can't provide an easy link at the moment. - this looked like another useful site, I think about the secular and democratic side of the Resistance  - a useful list of Resistance groups that I think is supportive of Iraqi liberation (from the title I thought that it might be rightwing) - I think this is the group that I bought my copy of "Iraqi Civil Resistance" from, and it is probably connected to ICR - more about the ICR and I think also the IFC  - this is an often cited website, and has all of the Iraq Resistance Reports archived, as do other sites.  I haven't examined its politics yet.   

                                                                                                                                  has an article (posted this week) by a Durham writer about a new documentary on the Resistance, which has a website online at
The group I bleong to has an article by a knowledgeable guest writer about the composition and history of Iraq's Resistance online at that can be reached by seeing What is New and then scrolling to the 2006 or 2005 issues.   

Saturday, April 21, 2007

NC's new state amphibian is...

The Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana.  The vote was April 19th at midday and the Bullfrog was approved 96 to 1, with 4 not voting and 19 excused (   Aside from the somewhat comical title of state amphibian, I find the choice peculiar.  I can see why the State Legislature might have chosen the Bullfrog.   It is economically important as a food source, it has a certain cuteness and is big enough to look in the face, it is found throughout the State, and it is the king of frogs in this country (growing up to 8" long).   On the other hand it is present in every state east of Texas, Wyoming, and Minnesota, locally through the southwest, and throughout the West Coast. It could therefore be the state amphibian of most states (the NC Herpetological Society points out that it is already the state amphibian of Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma), and we already share our state bird, the Cardinal ( Cardinalis cardinalis), with several others.  Bullfrogs are also voracious predators that can eat snakes, turtles, birds, and other frogs, and harm native amphibian populations when they are introduced into areas where they are not native (as has happened in the West).  


The Legislature could have considered amphibians unique to North Carolina, or at least those less widespread than Bullfrogs, and it did consider two I thought of this afternoon (info and pictures at  These include the Neuse River Waterdog or Carolina Mudpuppy (a kind of mudpuppy, or totally aquatic salamander, Necturus lewisi, which the legislators did consider), the Junaluska Salamander (Eurycea junaluska, only found in the NC and Tennessee Smokies, see, the Zigzag Salamander (Plethodon dorsalis, rare and of concern in NC, see, or the Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersoni), a rare and handsome bright green and brown amphibian that also inhabits a few other states and was considered.   The Junaluska salamanders and the Zigzag salamanders are probably threatened by climate change, since they have no where to go if their mountain microclimates vanish up slope into thin air as it gets warmer.   Therefore they would provide an object lesson to North Carolinians about what it really means to change the climate even a few degrees, in addition to being less common than Bullfrogs.   The southern Appalachians are home to a large number of salamander species, many with very small ranges, and the coastal plain is very rich in frog and toad species.   I like Bullfrogs also, (though maybe not as much as our legislators!), but maybe it is time for our State mudpuppy, salamander, treefrog, and our most at risk animal species to be declared.   After all, we already have our state red berry (the Strawberry) and blue berry (Blueberries)…        

Oppose excessive gun control

After the tragic events that left 32 victims and the shooter dead at Virginia Tech, there have been calls to increase gun control.   I'm sure there is room for reasonable controls to prevent dangerously mentally ill individuals and repeat offenders from getting guns so easily, but guns should still be readily available.   I am not very concerned at this point about needing a gun for my personal safety or hunting, and I'm a generally mild-mannered person depending on the police forces for now, but an armed citizenry is still important to protect democracy.   Violence is the last resort to protect our rights, and I doubt the security forces and paramilitaries will tolerate even a totally constitutional socialist revolution.   When the American socialist revolution comes, it will have to have the support of the majority or a large percentage of Americans (just like the first, bourgeois, revolution did), but the capitalists and their tools (not necessarily every officer, at least some would refuse to attack their fellow workers and citizens) in the military, intelligence, and police establishments, along with rightwing militias will most likely use sabotage and violence to try to overthrow that government.   Other countries might even try to intervene.  Look at what happened in Venezuela, where the US and the Venezuelan establishment tried to violently overthrow democratically elected President Hugo Chavez, and he isn't even a communist (he even pays the capitalists for what he nationalizes!).   I believe it was the Russian revolutionary communist leader V.I. Lenin who wrote that only a strong revolutionary force will discourage the losers from resorting to violence to oppose the wishes of the majority.  
Even just protecting the Bill of Rights and our (bourgeois) democracy might require violence, as Thomas Jefferson and the other framers of the Constitution knew.   It took being armed to protect activists fighting Jim Crow in Monroe, NC in the late 50's-early 60's (see for more info) and a coup overthrew the elected progressive black and white government of Wilmington in 1898 (the report by the NC Office of Archives & History are online at, and they did it because they could


As Lenin shows in his book, The State and Revolution (online at, written in 1917 after the first, bourgeois democratic, stage of the Russian Revolution, the existing government bureaucracy and military structure has to be destroyed to build a more democratic and socialist government.   The military and police exist in modern society to protect the class rule of the capitalists, even though workers can vote and be elected to government, and the police generally prevent non-government violence.   Therefore a socialist government can't just use the old institutions, assuming the security forces were not trying to exterminate the communists by then, which they probably would be doing.   Lenin quotes Marx on the history of the Paris Commune, the first working class government, established in Paris in 1870, and later slaughtered by the French capitalist forces with the support of the Prussian German occupiers.   "The first decree of the Commune was the abolition of the standing army and its replacement by the nation in arms" along with reform of the police force, making politicians and judges recallable and paid no more than workers, etc.  


So far from true communists wanting to disarm Americans, like the Nazi fascists did in Germany, we want the American working class to be armed and trained in how to use weapons (a benefit of being in the US military).   I've heard that socialist Albania was apparently full of guns and even authoritarian capitalist Iraq seems to have been full of arms, though maybe that is only since 2003 (but what about the custom of shooting off guns in celebration?).   Being armed is currently perfectly legal and it is the best way to prevent worse bloodshed, by showing the reactionaries that they won't be able to use violence with impunity.   This probably scares the pro-gun lobby (perhaps all the way over to being with the anti-gun lobby for some reactionaries), but I can agree with them that guns should be kept legal, and I think the government couldn't disarm the people at this point anyway.  


Some say that military technology has advanced so much that there is no longer a point in armed revolution.   In that case we all should just give up and remain content with wage slavery.  This is obviously false.  Look at the examples of the Hezbollah nationalists defeating Israel last summer, the Maoist victories over the royal military in Nepal, and the nationalist Iraqi resistance that is holding its own against the US and British militaries.   I'm not talking about trying to wage a Maoist "people's war" like the Nepalese, but these examples show that modern militaries are not invincible against the will of the people.   A rocket propelled grenade launcher or machine gun or howitzer would be more useful against a military than a rifle, but having only a gun is better than only a knife.  The capitalists could in theory use nuclear or other massive strategic weapons and win, and that is the self-defeating worst they can do, while the working class numbers in millions and builds and operates those weapons.   It is basically only a matter of hearts and minds, brought about by one of the recurring crises in the capitalist system.


The Constiutional right to bear arms
If the framers of the US Constitution meant for citizens to be privately armed, as the Supreme Court currently interprets it, than Amendment II in the Bill of Rights is very progressive.   State operated militias are of some use in opposing tyranny, but most likely they would be a prop for it.


The 2nd Amendment


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.          

Scott Mill: postscript

This is an email I received Wednesday (April 18th) from Rep. David Price's office after I emailed him before the rezoning vote.  Predictably he did not intervene, but it is good that he agreed with the opponents and I must have given his staff some exercise with a letter that they didn't have a form reply prepared for.   

Dear [southplumb]:

Thank you for contacting me concerning the Scott Mill development project in Durham.

I understand your concern that building a new subdivision on this land, which has been designated as an important natural heritage area by the North Carolina Heritage inventory, is shortsighted and unwise, and could have significant negative effects on water quality in the NE Creek and Jordan Lake.

As a federal elected official, I generally avoid direct involvement in matters under the jurisdiction of local governments. Given the serious concerns raised about the proposed Scott Mill development, however, I was pleased to see that the Durham County Board of Commissioners decided in February not to permit the rezoning necessary to allow the project to proceed.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please continue to stay in touch on issues of concern.



Member of Congress

Articles of impeachment to be filed against Cheney by Rep. Kucinich!

This was posted on the Information Clearing House website ( and comes the same week as the Vermont Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution for impeaching Bush and Cheney and Gonzales was grilled by Congress members and appears to be on the way out. 
Articles of Impeachment To Be Filed On Cheney

By Mary Ann Akers

04/18/07 "
Washington Post' --- -- Looks like he's reached his boiling point.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), the most liberal of the Democratic presidential candidates in the primary field, declared in a letter sent to his Democratic House colleagues this morning that he plans to file articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney.

Kucinich has made ending the war in Iraq the central theme of his campaign. He has even taken aim at the leading Democratic presidential candidates in the field for their votes on authorizing the war.

Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to impeach the president, vice president and "all civil Officers of the United States" for "treason, bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Sources tell the Sleuth that in light of the mass killings at Virginia Tech Monday, Kucinich's impeachment plans have been put on hold. There will be no action this week, they say.

Kucinich's office had no comment on the Congressman's "Dear Colleague" letter -- which apparently was drafted over the weekend, before the school massacre -- or on what the focus of articles of impeachment against Cheney would be.

But Kucinich shouldn't hold his breath on getting anywhere with his impeachment plan. "We'll see a Kucinich Administration before we'll see a Cheney impeachment," quipped one Democratic aide.

Here is the text of his letter, a copy of which was forwarded to the Sleuth:

April 17, 2007

Dear Colleague:

This week I intend to introduce Articles of Impeachment with respect to the conduct of Vice President Cheney. Please have your staff contact my office . . . if you would like to receive a confidential copy of the document prior to its introduction in the House.



Dennis J. Kucinich

Member of Congress

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Meetings on the Iraqi resistance in April

There will be a presentation sponsored by the UNC-CH
chapter of Students for a Democratic Society this
Thursday about the armed Iraqi resistance and a recent
conference in Italy.

There are two Hanes buildings at UNC, but I think the
one this event is in is the one on the south side of
Cameron Avenue.  If you're going towards Carrboro on
Cameron, Hanes is the building facing you if you go
into the first parking lot on the left after you pass
Raleigh St. and the Old Well (on the right).  It is
also next to the Campus Y.  Most parking at UNC is
free after 5pm.

The non-partisan Triangle Socialist Forum is also
discussing Iraqi resistance to the occupation this
month.  There will be a showing of a 30-minute
documentary "Iraqi Civil Resistance," about several
non-violent movements, then discussion of the whole
range of Iraqi resistance and what we can do to
support a free Iraq.  The meeting will be April 29th
at 4:30 in the lower conference room at the Chapel
Hill Public Library (off of Estes Rd. close to the
intersection with E. Franklin St.).  I will post some
suggested readings later this week.  
 * * * Please forward widely! * * *

Report Back: A Meeting with the Iraqi Resistance
UNC-Chapel Hill SDS will host an event, Report Back:
A Meeting With the Iraqi Resistance , Thursday April
19 at 7:00 pm. Kosta Harlan, member of the Freedom Road
Socialist Organization, recently traveled to Italy to attend the
international conference, "With the Resistance, for a Just Peace in the Middle East"
The conference marks the first time that leaders of
the Iraqi national resistance have been able to speak in the West.
Kosta will report back on who the resistance is and why they fight; the
current conditions of the U.S. occupation of Iraq; the birth and development of the
Iraqi resistance; and the tasks of the U.S. antiwar movement. Q&A to follow.
This event is free and open to the public. Donations welcome!
Note: UNC-Chapel Hill SDS does not necessarily endorse all the views of the

Thursday April 19 at 7:00 pm
Hanes Room 308 at UNC-Chapel Hill
Questions? Please contact unc.sds at gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

FLOC activist murdered in Mexico

I received this press release (?) from a Duke listserve.  I'm not sure if I ever met Santiago Rafael Cruz, but this is a brutal and sobering reminder that being a labor activist is still dangerous, whether or not capitalist interests were involved in this.  I've heard that when FLOC first began operating in Monterrey a few years ago the American sent there first was harassed by the police, though in that case I think FLOC did not have an office and was operating at the City's main plaza  I can't remember if organized crime was involved in those earlier problems.  I was also told a Mexican communist group offered support, which of course they would, if they are true reds.  I hope they catch the perpetrator(s) quickly and I offer my condolences to Cruz's family, friends, and FLOC.   
FLOC Press Release
04/09/2007 Monterrey, Mexico — It is with pain and sadness that we
report the tragic murder of one of our Monterrey, Mexico office
staff-members, Santiago Rafael Cruz. We struggle to keep tragedies from
occurring in the fields, but it is equally painful to have them occur in
our work environment.

While we have no official police reports, friends who found the body
this morning in the FLOC Monterrey office said that he had been tied-up
and beaten to death.

FLOC has asked the National AFL-CIO and Congressman Marcy Kaptur's
office to request that our State Department press the Mexican Government
to conduct a thorough and speedy investigation to bring the perpetrators
to justice.

Since our breakthrough agreement in North Carolina in 2004, FLOC has had
to battle against anti-union hostility in the South's "right-to-work"
environment. We have put up with constant attacks in both the U.S. and
Mexico—including having our office burglarized and broken into several
times and a number of other attempted break-ins. Now the attacks have
come to this.

FLOC will respond to this attack in a disciplined but forceful manner at
the appropriate time. For now, we will focus on Santiago and his family
to make sure his body is returned home, and minister to those who loved him.

Santiago spent years defending his countrymen's rights in the U.S. and
Mexico. His life and service will be missed but not forgotten.

For further information please contact:

Baldemar Velasquez 419-297-7526
Leticia Zavala 919-394-7797

People wishing to donate money to help with transporting Santiago's body
home, his funeral, and other expenses can make a check payable to:

C/O Santiago Tragedy Fund
1221 Broadway St
Toledo, OH 43609

letter to Hawaiian legislators on impeachment bill

This is a message I sent to Hawaii State Senators Clayton Hee ( and Russell S. Kokubun ( ) on the Judiciary and Labor Committee.  You can find out more about SCR 83 at  This is the first time I have done this for other impeachment campaigns, but I should do it more often, if it helps them help all of us. 
Dear Senator Hee:

I am writing to ask you to bring Senate Concurrent
Resolution 83, on impeachment, to a vote in your
committee.  The text does not seem to be online [actually it is], but
it is probably something I can also recommend that you
vote for.  I am a North Carolinian (and a member of
the Grass Roots Impeachment Movement, ), but I was asked to support
the Hawaiian impeachment movement, and if Hawaii
forces Congress to consider impeachment, it will be
fulfilling the wishes of a majority of Americans.  It
will be a while longer before we can get North
Carolina to consider and pass a similar resolution.

This is not a partisan issue and I would be as hard on
a Democrat who commits the same crimes as Bush and
Cheney (and Bill Clinton did, but that is not what
Congress decided to impeach him on).  I was as much
for impeachment when Republicans controlled Congress
as I am now that the Democrats are in control.  In
North Carolina it is mainly Democrats who support
impeachment, but they are joined by Libertarians,
Greens, other third parties, and, at least nationally,
by some Republicans.  We need to send a message that
the Bush Administration's illegal and dangerous
actions will no longer be tolerated, and impeachment
might be required to bring peace to Iraq and prevent
aggression against Iran and anything else the
Administration is planning.

Some of the main reasons that both Bush and Cheney
deserve to be impeached are illegally lying to
Congress to start the Iraq War, illegally spying on
Americans, authorizing torture, and subverting
democracy in other ways, such as through their
excessive secrecy and habitually lying on a variety of
issues.  I think they are also guilty of war crimes,
such as crimes against the peace in Iraq and targeting
civilians and journalists.  War crimes are also
illegal under American laws.  There are other offenses
that might not be illegal, but should be impeachable,
such as corrupt government (serving Big Business, such
as Enron and Halliburton, at the expense of most
Americans), inaction in the Katrina disaster, the
Patriot and Military Commissions acts, anti-unionism,

I would welcome a reply, although I am not one of your
constituents.  Thank you for considering my concerns.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Solidarity with the impeachment campaign in Hawaii

An impeachment activist from Hawaii has requested the help of people here in getting the Hawaiian legislature to consider an impeachment resolution.  If it passes, it will force the US Congress to consider impeachment.  We need to contact Hawaiian senators Clayton Hee and Kokubun before this Friday.  The email does not include their contact information, but I'm sure it can easily be found through Google or any search engine.  This was sent over the GRIM listserve, so I assume it can be publicly posted (let me know otherwise and I will edit out whatever needs to be confidential). 
> Subject: URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON Hawaii SCR 83 requesting impeachment
> Aloha,
> I live way out in Honolulu and I have been fortunate
> enough to suggest and help draft for the Hawaii State
> Senate, Senate Concurrent Resolution 83, requesting
> Congress to commence impeachment proceedings against
> the President and the Vice President of the United
> States.
> The deadline for this resolution to make it through
> the Hawaii State Judiciary and Labor Committee is
> Friday the 13th. Senator Clayton Hee is the chair and
> he decides whether or not it will be heard. He has
> waffled a bit on this and is very clearly seeking a
> great deal of attention to be paid to this if he is
> going to hear it. Hence my desperately late letter to
> you to ask people on your list serve to sign a
> petition, call, or write letters to Senator Hee, the
> Vice-Chair Senator Kokubun and the other committee
> members before this thing dies in committee! It might
> actually work here in one of the most liberal states
> in the Union, but its got to get through this
> committee first!
> It does not matter that you and those you might be
> able to get to help call or write are not Hawaii
> residents, this Senator (and frankly this issue) needs
> national attention for action to take place.
> Below is a proposed draft letter. PLEASE get back to
> me on this ASAP. The local media wants to do a story
> on it too, but only if Sen. Hee agrees to hear the
> resolution. But unless people know about the
> resolution, they wont contact him to ask him to hear
> it...
> Dear Senator,
> If a state legislature forwards a bill or a resolution
> on impeachment to the Congress of the United States,
> then the Congress must act. I urge you to hear Senate
> Concurrent Resolution 83 before the JDL committee.
> This resolution reflects the sentiment of a growing
> number of people in the State of Hawaii and in the
> nation at large, and the people and the sentiment of
> the people should be heard.
> Considering this resolution before your committee can
> only strengthen our democracy by fostering a much
> broader national debate on the importance of holding
> he executive branch of our federal government
> accountable for its actions and will send a strong
> message to future Presidents and Vice-Presidents of
> the United States that they are not above the law.
> Please do not shy away from making the State of Hawaii
> politically relevant on the national level and hear
> SCR 83 before your committee before it's too late!
> Thanks for all you do and keep up the good work.
> [ML]
> Honolulu, HI

War and resistance in Iraq discussion, April 29th

The next meeting is set for Sunday, April 29th at 4:30pm in the Chapel Hill Public Library's conference room. The topic of this meeting is how Iraqis are resisting the occupation of their country and what anti-war Americans should do to support Iraqis' efforts to free their country.  We will watch and discuss the 30-minute documentary Iraqi Civil Resistance, about the Iraqi Civil Resistance group and related efforts such as a union for unemployed workers, a women's rights group, a national Iraqi labor union federation, and the movement for multi-ethnic communities.  The documentary is mostly in English, but was produced in Japan and features reporting from Iraq and Japan and interviews with Iraqi and Japanese activists.  I will post more details later.  I am looking for a documentary about the armed resistance and I will suggest some online readings later if I don't have a video to show.   

Healthcare and Iraqi resistance discussions

We had a very interesting discussion at the meeting
last Saturday afternoon, though I expected more people to
turn out to discuss such a timely issue.  Jonathan
Kotch, president of Health Care for all NC (current or
future website spoke about
the many problems with our multi-payer healthcare and
how it compares to Canada's single payer system.  I
pointed out some features of healthcare in the Soviet
and Cuban models, in which doctors and medical staff
are usually government employees and most healthcare
needs are provided free by the government.

I took some rough notes below.

Health Care for all NC is the new name of the NC
Committee to Defend Health Care.  It started in 1994
as the NC chapter of Physicians for a National Health
Program, but it has broader membership than just
healthcare professionals.  It has several new
initiatives going.  Local branches are being started
in Raleigh and I assume also in Durham and Orange
County.  Rep. Inskoe (spelling?) in the General
Assembly is sponsoring the Health Care for All bill,
which calls for a referendum on adding a right to
healthcare amendment to the State Constitution.  About
24 other representatives support the bill so far.  A
second legislative action is the expansion of the NC
version of the Federal Child Health Insurance Program,
which Governor Easley supports.  I think President
Kotch also mentioned work by Rep. Inskoe to create a
high-risk health insurance pool, for people who are
rejected as being too sick by private insurance.

These proposals are in response to facts such as the
1.4 million North Carolinians without health insurance
(statistics at  It also
addresses the bureaucratic overheads, over use of
hospital emergency rooms, drug company profiteering,
etc.  which push up healthcare costs for everyone, but
are created by the current insurance system.  Another
problem is that doctors are leaving relatively low
paid specialties such as pediatrics in favor of
plastic surgery, etc. The UN's World Health
Organization ranked our health care as 37th in the
world, and that is one of the reasons we have a lower
life expectancy than people in similar countries. In
some aspects Cuba is healthier than we are and it is a
developing country but about equals the US in
healthcare and public health.

In the Canadian system, each province operates a
program in which the government provides the health
insurance.  People can see their own doctors, who are
not necessarily government employees.  There is a
waiting list for operations, but not for urgent needs.
 At one point some doctors were leaving Canada to
pursue higher profits in the US, but Kotch said
that trend has reversed now.  Most or all countries,
except ours, have a form of national health insurance.

I did some brief research on socialist healthcare
systems.  A British medical survey of the Soviet
system in the early 30's, Red Medicine, is a useful
resource that is online at (under
subjects, go to Soviet Union and then healthcare).  At
that time most medical services were free and provided
by mostly government employed doctors.  Some care was
provided through medical staff at places of work.
Workers were given first place in receiving services.
Cuba has a similar system, but all doctors are
government employees (as of the 80's at least) and
there is a national clinic system, new doctors are
usually required to work for a period in rural areas,
etc.  Venezuela has similar neighborhood clinics, set
up with the help of Cuban doctors.

At the national level, Kotch recommended that the
Medicare system be expanded.  Medicare provides much
cheaper insurance than private insurers.  He said
Hillary Clinton botched the effort in the early 90's,
by operating in secret, trying to get private insurers
actively involved, and trying to please all parties.
John Edwards has a detailed plan now, and Kotch
praised the Kucinich-Conyers plan, which is Medicare
for All (House Resolution 676).  I asked if the
dynamics of medicine might encourage further
socialization (such as cooperatives) after a
single-payer system is established.  The answer seemed
to be that it was possible, but would require the
higher paid doctors to accept lower earnings, to share
with lower paid specialists.  He criticized the
Massachusetts and California health insurance reforms
as only continuing the problem.

April meeting

To talk about Iraq, especially what Iraqis are doing
to end the occupation, I suggest we look at videos.  I
have a DVD, Iraqi Civil Resistance, on nonviolent
efforts such as an unemployed workers' union.  I will find
another documentary on the armed resistance or