Object: ON REINVENTING THE WHEEL AND OTHER BASIC SKILLS: FROM THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, GRENOBLE, FRANCE.
16 November 2009
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
"There are good people and bad people," my mother told me at a very early age, "kind people and cruel people; intelligent people and stupid people; gifted people and dull people, happy people and bitter people in every race, in every religion, in every nation and ethnic group."
"How can you tell the difference," I asked, selecting arbitrarily one of her categories, "between an intelligent person and a stupid person?"
"If you can't tell the difference, then you are stupid," she replied.
This folk wisdom of a high school librarian and single mother of four has stayed with me for more than half a century.
I don't know how other families bring up their children, but looking around at the greed and selfish consumerism that passes for culture, I would say that at a very early age many children are made to feel an acute sense of scarcity, against which they must compete to attain what they belive to be "the necessities of life," and they are carefully taught one supreme ethical value : that ends can always be used to justify means.
I suppose this is what is behind the historic attraction of watching public executions for entertainment, like the famous description of Damiens' execution in front of the main door of the Church of Paris, reproduced by Michel Foucault in his classic work, Discipline and Punishment (1975):
On 2 March 1757 Damiens the regicide was condemned 'to make the amende honorable . . . where he was to be 'taken and conveyed in a cart, wearing nothing but a shirt, holding a torch of burning wax weighing two pounds' . . . ; 'where, on a scaffold that will be erected there, the flesh will be torn from his breasts, arms, thighs and calves with red-hot pincers, his right hand holding the knife with which he committed the said parricide, burnt with sulphur, and, on those places where the flesh will be torn away, poured molten lead, boiling oil, burning resin, wax and sulphur melted together and then his body drawn and quartered by four horses and his limbs and body consumed by fire reduced to ashes and his ashes thrown to the winds'.(p.3)
What more harsh reminder of what happens to "loosers" in a stratified society?
My interest in history dates back perhaps to my mother's experiences in Europe before the Second World War. She left Germany before Nazi "hunting parties" began capturing and killing Jews and other non-conformists who threatened National Socialist hegemony. But hunting human beings was not unique to the Fascists of Europe. In the Middle Ages, according to Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, hunting heretics was an honorable profession, and at one point the most successful hunter in what is now southern France was Bishop Jacques Fournier (later to become Pope Benedict XII). He hunted the heretics of the Albigensian persuasion in the 1320s living in the Comté de Foix, which included the regions surrounding Toulouse and Carcasson, extending westward to the Pyrenees. The self-effacing Fournier was remarkably successful in getting confessions, usually without resorting to torture.
The accused's appearance before the Bishop's tribunal began with an oath sworn on the Gospels. It continued in the form of an unequal dialogue. Jacques Fournier asked a series of questions, pursuing various points and details. The accused would answer at length --a deposition might easily cover ten, twenty or even more big folio pages in the Register. The accused was not necessarily kept under a state of arrest throughout the trial. Between interrogations he might be shut up in one of the Bishop's prisons in town. But he might also be let out under house arrest, bound to keep within the limits of his parish or of the diocese. When the accused was imprisoned, various pressures were brought to bear to make him confess. Apparently these pressures usually consisted not so much of torture as of excommunication or confinement either 'strict' or 'very strict' (the latter consisting of a small cell, fetters and black bread and water.). In only one instance did Jacques Fournier have his victims tortured: this was in the trumped-up case which French agents made him bring against the lepers, who brought forth wild and absurd confessions about poisoning wells with powdered toads, etc. In all the other cases which provided the material of this book, the Bishop confined himself to tracking down real deviants (often minor from our point of view). The confessions are rounded out by the accuseds' descriptions of their own daily lives. They usually corroborated each other, but when they contradicted, Fournier tried to reduce the discrepancies, asking the various prisoners for more details. What drove him on was the desire (hateful though it was in this form) to know the truth. For him, it was a matter first of detecting sinful behavior and then of saving souls. To attain these ends he showed himself 'pedantic as a schoolman' and did not hesitate to engage in lengthy discussion. . . .
- When the trials were over, various penalties were inflicted: imprisonment of varying degrees of strictness, the wearing of the yellow cross, pilgrimages and confiscation of goods. Of the five guilty who ended their lives at the stake, four were Waldensians from Pamiers and the other a relapsed Albigensian, Guillaume Fort, from Montaillou.(Montaillou, The Promised Land of Error, pp.xvi-xvii)
Hunting heretics has been with us for a long, long time, and we can presume the "hunt" itself represents a source of excitement, independent of the practical consequences, like the labor of a mathematician, passionately engaged in solving a complex problem, and seeking no reward more tangible than the satisfaction of eventually resolving an interesting differential equation.
"The most common form of 'Jew hunt' [in Poland, during the fall of 1942 through the spring of 1943]," reports Christopher R. Browning in his study, Ordinary Men, Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1993),
was the patrol into the forest to liquidate an individual bunker that had been reoprted. The battalion built up a network of informers and 'forest runners', or trackers, who searched for and revealed Jewish hiding places. Many other Poles volunteered information about Jews in the woods who had stolen food from nearby fields, farms, and vi9llages in their desperate attempt to stay alive. Upon receiving such reports, the local police commanders dispatched small patrols to locate the hiding Jews. Time and again the same scenario was played out, with only minor variations. The policemen followed their Polish guides directly to the bunker hideouts and tossed grenades in the openings. The Jews who survived the initial grenade attack and emerged from the bunkers were forced to lie face down for the neck shot. The bodies were routinely left to be buried by the nearest Polish villagers.(p.126)
Though the 'Jew hunt' has received little attention, it was an important and statistically significant phase of the Final Solution. A not inconsiderable percentage of Jewish victims in the General Government lost their lives in this way. Statistics aside, the 'Jew hunt' is a psychologically important key to the mentality of perpetrators. Many of the German occupiers in Poland may have witnessed or participated in ghetto roundups on several occasions --in a lifetime, a few brief moments that could be easily repressed. But the 'Jew hunt' was not a brief episode. It was a tenacious, remorseless , ongoing campaign in which the 'hunters' tracked down and killed their 'prey' in direct and personal confrontation. It was not a passing phase but an existential condition of constant readiness and intention to kill every last Jew who could be found.(p.132)
Technical knowledge of science is amoral. The telephone and the twitter, like the wheel and the lever, can be used with the effect of a guillotine or a drone attack airplane; and they can also be used to cure cancer. [See CEIMSA Bulletin # 155
.] Who controls the technology; and for what purposes is it used? are vital political questions today.
John Berger's poetic essays describing rural life, from the viewpoint of Jean, a peasant living in the Haute Savoie region of southern France, is a voyage into the psychological space of the 20th-century peasantry, a space in which the tyranny of time remains conspicuously absent and the fantastic details of life on our planet are in constant play. In this book, Berger succeeds in capturing the rich diversity of daily life in rural France. In his village as a boy, Jean befriended a girl who was stigmatized for her small size. During the Second World War, Jean migrated to Brazil and Lucie Cabrol lived with her two brothers as somewhat of an outcast in the village. She had the occasion of befriending members of the French resistance who once came to her family farm to solicit aid for a wounded comrade. She dressed the wounded leg of the man, and the next day the small group left the farm. Two days later they were captured and killed by the Germans, after the ritual digging of their own graves in the nearby forest. Cocadrille
, the name Lucie was called by all the villagers including her brothers, was convinced that it was her two brothers who had reported the resistance fighters' whereabouts. She was oustrasized by her family and the village, and years later she was found murdered in her small house in the forest. It was commonly believed that it was someone from the village who had robbed and killed her in her small home in the forest. Her friend, Jean, recounts:
- One morning when I was six my father said to me: When you let out the cows, keep Fourgère behind, she's going to the abattoir today. I undid the chains of the other cows --I could just reach the locking links with my arms above my head-- and the dog chased them out. Later I would take the cows to the slopes by the place which we called Nimes.
- Left alone in the stable, Fourgère looked anxiously around her, her ears full out like wings. By this afternoon, I said, you will be dead. She started to eat the hay in the manger. After pulling out several mouthfuls, each with a toss of her head, she looked around again and lowed. The other cows were already grazing outside. I could hear their bells. The sunlight coming through the holes in the planks of the stable walls made beams in the dust which I raised as I swept.
- My father unbuckled the wide leather collar Fourgère was wearing. Attached to this collar was her bell which weighed five kilos. Before he turned away to hang the collar and the bell on the wall, he looked at the beast and said: My poor cuckoo, you'll never again go to Nimes.
- Whilst the funeral service was being performed inside the church, most of us men stood outside. This group of standing figures, solemn and still, always looks dwarfed by the mountains. We spoke in low voices, about the murder. Everyone was agreed that the police would never discover who the assassin was. Each said this as if he himself had a clear idea of the truth. She was fearless, they said, this had been the Cocadrille's trouble.["The Third Life of Lucie Cabrol," in Pig Earth (1979) p.166.]
The tyranny and fear governing daily life in modern society is brought home in another book on the peasantry, by Laurence Wylie, in his earlier post-war study, The Village of Vaucluse
To an American . . . the children of Peyrane seem incredibly well behaved. . . . The teachers rarely have to punish a serious infraction. Their principle disciplinary efforts are directed toward insisting on courtesy and neatness, and toward repressing restlessness and talking out of turn.
The directives of the Department of National Education expressly forbid the infliction of physical pain as a punishment of children. . . .
- The most usual punishment and apparently the most effective one lies in shaming the child by isolation him and pitting the rest of his society against him. Every effort is made to make him feel ridiculous or guilty in the eyes of others. Minor infractions bring forth a stream of mocking criticisms from the teacher as she calls on the rest of the class to bear witness to the misbehavior. If a visitor is present the teacher includes him in the jury.
- A scene that took place in Madame Vernet's room one day after she had given a dictation was typical. I arrived just as she was going over the children's papers.
- "Ah, Monsieur, you arrived just at the right moment," she said. "Just look at this dictation of Laure Voisin. Have you ever seen anything so careless, so untidy? Six mistakes in three lines, and an ink smudge to end it with!"
- She was speaking to me, but her eyes were flashing at Laure who sat staring at her desk.
"Just look, Monsieur," she went on. "She wrote ses instead of c'est, so the sentence has no meaning at all. Stupid! It's only stupidity --and I used to think she was fairly intelligent."
- She paused for these remarks to sink in.
- "And lazy. Maybe she could do good work if she wants to. But, no, she prefers to sit there and dream! And to think that this girl insists on presenting herself for the certificat primaire! I wouldn't shame the school or her parents by letting her try. What candidate could pass who writes ses instead of c'est on a dictation?"
- The other children laughed mockingly. I would have preferred to be elsewhere. Laure winced and tears came.
- "That's right. Now you cry. As though that would help you. it's not by crying that you'll learn to write a dictation. No, you will stay in after school and we shall do that dictation over until you do it right.(pp.84-85)
Both Berger and Wylie capture the pathos of a culture of survivors facing the onslaughts of modern capitalist expansion by accepting violence when it seems inevitable and avoiding it when at all possible. In this culture, the future belongs to the past, a "Paradise Lost" which serves to orient present concerns toward strategies for survival, and very little else.
In the 8 items below we can see the results of today's culture of violence as the perpetrators of violence (who themselves are victims of terror) continue to walk the narrow line between complete psychotic collapse and an external conformity, grasping at the trappings of dysfunctional traditions in an effort to adapt themselves each day, as if by magic, to the senseless routines they are tied to, so as to show once more that they belong to an audience which in reality has long since left the arena.
Item A. is an article from Le Monde in Paris covering Israeli's "water war" and "house thefts" against the citizens of Gaza.
Item B., is the film of Jean Bricmont's presentation at the CEIMSA International colloquium held on May 6, 2009 at The University of Paris-Nanterre on "The Role of Ethics in the Class Society of Contemporary America," in which he discusses : "Zionism, the ideological conflict of our time?".
Item C., is an exposé on the national grass-roots movement which aims at reclaiming the airwaves by broadcasting on "low-power radio."
Item D., sent to us by Grenoble professor Sheila Whittick, is an article first published in the UK Guardian on "Mafia tactics" employed by the planners of U.S. foreign policy in the guise of real politique.
Item E. is an article from Information Clearing House, analyzing the syntax around reports on the Fort Hood massacre and U.S. Major Hasan's criminal acts against his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood.
Item F. is a report from the UK Guardian describing the Israeli public relations campaign using "false allegations" and "misinformation," including "extremely personal attacks" against the staff of America's leading Human Rights organization, Human Rights Watch, in an attempt to discredit the group over its reports of war crimes in Gaza.
Item G., sent to us by UCSD Professor Fred Lonidier, is a report on the TRW Workers' intercept of the Border Cities' Summit.
Item H., also sent to us by Professor Lonidier, is a public service announcement from the independent artists at Art Work, prtomotin "A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics."
And finally, we conclude this CEIMSA bulletin by offering readers a look at The Veterans Day interview on GRITtv with 19-year-old Israeli Master Sergeant Micha Kurz of Jerusalem. The below program might represent an epiphany for some, if not a redemption.
In American Civilization courses in France it was once common to study how European Americans took the American Indian homeland by force. Implicit in this study was the lesson of how the imbalance of power leads to abuse and injustice, and how intellectual collaboration by opportunists of all stripes is the rule, and not the exception.
It is gratifying to think that this lesson may not have been entirely lost on the young Sergeant Kurz and his generation.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Le Monde :
Date: 28 October 2009
Subject: La guerre de l'eau dans Gaza.
Israël mène la guerre de l'eau dans les territoires occupés
from Jean Bricmont :
Date: 8 November 2009
Subject: Zionism: The Ideological War of our Time?
La vidéo de la conférence faite à Nanterre le 6 mai est finalement presque prête-montée et raccourcie.
On peut la voir sur:
avec le mot de passe : jerusalem009
Aucune référence n'est faite pour le moment à la conférence que vous avez organisée (disons, par précaution)-
Noam Chomsky is the closest thing in the English-speaking world to an intellectual superstar. A philosopher of language and political campaigner of towering academic reputation, who as good as invented modern linguistics, he is entertained by presidents, addresses the UN general assembly and commands a mass international audience. When he spoke in London last week, thousands of young people battled for tickets to attend his lectures, followed live on the internet across the globe, as the 80-year-old American linguist fielded questions from as far away as besieged Gaza.
mais on peut la rajouter si vous le souhaitez.
from Truth Out :
Date: 7 November 2009
Subject: Controlling the Local Air Waves : Low-Power Radio.
There's a classic problem for progressives who want to change the media: the media doesn't like to cover itself. Especially not when it comes to issues that challenge the status quo of corporate control. It's like turning to the military for news about the peace movement, or asking Big Oil to report on climate change legislation.
But the bulk of the mainstream western media doesn't seem to have noticed. His books sell in their hundreds of thousands, he is mobbed by students as a celebrity, but he is rarely reported or interviewed in the US outside radical journals and websites. The explanation, of course, isn't hard to find. Chomsky is America's most prominent critic of the US imperial role in the world, which he has used his erudition and standing to expose and excoriate since Vietnam.
Like the English philosopher Bertrand Russell, who spoke out against western-backed wars until his death at the age of 97, Chomsky has lent his academic prestige to a relentless campaign against his own country's barbarities abroad ? though in contrast to the aristocratic Russell, Chomsky is the child of working class Jewish refugees from Tsarist pogroms. Not surprisingly, he has been repaid with either denunciation or, far more typically, silence. Whereas a much slighter figure such as the Atlanticist French philosopher Bernard Henri-L?vy is lionised at home and abroad, Chomsky and his genuine popularity are ignored.
Indeed, his books have been banned from the US prison library in Guant?namo. You'd hardly need a clearer example of his model of how dissenting views are filtered out of the western media, set out in his 1990's book Manufacturing Consent, than his own case. But as Chomsky is the first to point out, the marginalisation of opponents of western state policy is as nothing compared to the brutalities suffered by those who challenge states backed by the US and its allies in the Middle East.
We meet in a break between a schedule of lectures and talks that would be punishing for a man half his age. At the podium, Chomsky's style is dry and low-key, as he ranges without pausing for breath from one region and historical conflict to another, always buttressed with a barrage of sources and quotations, often from US government archives and leaders themselves.
But in discussion he is warm and engaged, only hampered by slight deafness. He has only recently started travelling again, he explains, after a three-year hiatus while he was caring for his wife and fellow linguist, Carol, who died from cancer last December. Despite their privilege, his concentrated exposure to the continuing injustices and exorbitant expense of the US health system has clearly left him angry. Public emergency rooms are "uncivilised, there is no health care", he says, and the same kind of corporate interests that drive US foreign policy are also setting the limits of domestic social reform.
All three schemes now being considered for Barack Obama's health care reform are "to the right of the public, which is two to one in favour of a public option. But the New York Times says that has no political support, by which they mean from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies." Now the American Petroleum Institute is determined to "follow the success of the insurance industry in killing off health reform," Chomsky says, and do the same to hopes of genuine international action at next month's Copenhagen climate change summit. Only the forms of power have changed since the foundation of the republic, he says, when James Madison insisted that the new state should "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority".
Chomsky supported Obama's election campaign in swing states, but regards his presidency as representing little more than a "shift back towards the centre" and a striking foreign policy continuity with George Bush's second administration. "The first Bush administration was way off the spectrum, America's prestige sank to a historic low and the people who run the country didn't like that." But he is surprised so many people abroad, especially in the third world, are disappointed at how little Obama has changed. "His campaign rhetoric, hope and change, was entirely vacuous. There was no principled criticism of the Iraq war: he called it a strategic blunder. And Condoleezza Rice was black ? does that mean she was sympathetic to third world problems?"
The veteran activist has described the US invasion of Afghanistan as "one of the most immoral acts in modern history", which united the jihadist movement around al-Qaida, sharply increased the level of terrorism and was "perfectly irrational ? unless the security of the population is not the main priority". Which, of course, Chomsky believes, it is not. "States are not moral agents," he says, and believes that now that Obama is escalating the war, it has become even clearer that the occupation is about the credibility of Nato and US global power.
This is a recurrent theme in Chomsky's thinking about the American empire. He argues that since government officials first formulated plans for a "grand area" strategy for US global domination in the early 1940s, successive administrations have been guided by a "godfather principle, straight out of the mafia: that defiance cannot be tolerated. It's a major feature of state policy." "Successful defiance" has to be punished, even where it damages business interests, as in the economic blockade of Cuba ? in case "the contagion spreads".
The gap between the interests of those who control American foreign policy and the public is also borne out, in Chomsky's view, by the US's unwavering support for Israel and "rejectionism" of the two-state solution effectively on offer for 30 years. That's not because of the overweening power of the Israel lobby in the US, but because Israel is a strategic and commercial asset which underpins rather than undermines US domination of the Middle East. "Even in the 1950s, President Eisenhower was concerned about what he called a campaign of hatred of the US in the Arab world, because of the perception on the Arab street that it supported harsh and oppressive regimes to take their oil."
Half a century later, corporations like Lockheed Martin and Exxon Mobil are doing fine, he says: America's one-sided role in the Middle East isn't harming their interests, whatever risks it might bring for anyone else.
Chomsky is sometimes criticised on the left for encouraging pessimism or inaction by emphasising the overwhelming weight of US power ? or for failing to connect his own activism with labour or social movements on the ground. He is certainly his own man, holds some idiosyncratic views (I was startled, for instance, to hear him say that Vietnam was a strategic victory for the US in southeast Asia, despite its humiliating 1975 withdrawal) and has drawn flak for defending freedom of speech for Holocaust deniers. He describes himself as an anarchist or libertarian socialist, but often sounds more like a radical liberal ? which is perhaps why he enrages more middle-of-the-road American liberals who don't appreciate their views being taken to the logical conclusion.
But for an octogenarian who has been active on the left since the 1930s, Chomsky sounds strikingly upbeat. He's a keen supporter of the wave of progressive change that has swept South America in the past decade ("one of the liberal criticisms of Bush is that he didn't pay enough attention to Latin America ? it was the best thing that ever happened to Latin America"). He also believes there are now constraints on imperial power which didn't exist in the past: "They couldn't get away with the kind of chemical warfare and blanket B52 bombing that Kennedy did," in the 1960s. He even has some qualified hopes for the internet as a way around the monopoly of the corporate-dominated media.
But what of the charge so often made that he's an "anti-American" figure who can only see the crimes of his own government while ignoring the crimes of others around the world? "Anti-Americanism is a pure totalitarian concept," he retorts. "The very notion is idiotic. Of course you don't deny other crimes, but your primary moral responsibility is for your own actions, which you can do something about. It's the same charge which was made in the Bible by King Ahab, the epitome of evil, when he demanded of the prophet Elijah: why are you a hater of Israel? He was identifying himself with society and criticism of the state with criticism of society."
It's a telling analogy. Chomsky is a studiedly modest man who would balk at any such comparison. But in the Biblical tradition of the conflict between prophets and kings, there's not the slightest doubt which side he represents.
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from Information Clearing House :
Date: 13 November 2009
Subject: "The Shooter Was a Soldier"
The inconvenient truth is the deplorable act committed by Major Hasan cannot be a shock because we knew it was coming; in fact, it was foreseeable, unavoidable, and inevitable to a moral certitude. It takes no leap of imagination to understand this act as a predictable outcome of criminal wars of aggression, torture, and indifference to the slaughter and displacement of foreign peoples under the guise of freedom, democracy, and the market.
from The Guardian :
Date: 13 November 2009
Subject: New Targets, Old Weapons: Character Assassinations within Human Rights Organizations.
America's leading human rights organisation has accused Israel and its supporters of an "organised campaign" of false allegations and misinformation, including "extremely personal attacks" on its staff, in an attempt to discredit the group over its reports of war crimes in Gaza.
Israel 'personally attacking human rights group' after Gaza war criticism
from Fred Lonidier :
Date: 14 November 2009
Subject: TRW Workers intercept the Border Cities' Summit.
TRW Workers intercept the Border Cities' Summit, deliver their demands directly to the Governor, and
announce their solidarity with the Electrical Workers Union (SME)
· Write a letters to TRW's executives supporting workers
· Write a letter to President Obama demanding NAFTA Free Trade be addressed
On November 12th the TRW Workers Coalition hijacked the Border Cities' Summit, which was held in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. The workers learned that the governor of Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernandez, would be attending the event, so they arrived early at the Holiday Inn Hotel, before security guards cordoned off the area.
The mayors of Tamaulipas' cities were surprised by the courage of the workers, who stood up to the police and security guards and approached the Governor of Tamaulipas. The Governor's Secretary told them to put down their signs and wait for the Governor to come to them; but the workers went directly to the podium and asked the Governor to hear what the TRW Workers Coalition had to say. Please see the following link:
The TRW Workers Coalition gave the Governor a letter asserting that they are not troublemakers; instead, they are workers some of whom have 20 years seniority at TRW. But now, the TRW corporation is violating their right to jobs, to freedom of association and to collective bargaining by relocating them to a warehouse without adequate security and transportation and by refusing to recognize the workers' coalition and deal with them: Please see the following link: http://www.enlineadirecta.info/nota.php?art_ID=110984&titulo=Le_piden_a_"Ge_o"_ser_reinstalados_en_TRW.html
The workers demanded that TRW negotiate the relocation directly with them or pay them severance including back pay, in keeping with Mexican labor law. They recommended to the Governor that corporations be required to provide a deposit to local government to begin operations in a city, in order to guarantee that corporations not behave with impunity, without accountability to workers and without paying what the law requires. The workers demanded that the Governor investigate TRW's practice of blacklisting the workers who formed the TRW Workers' Coalition.
The letter ended by stating that TRW and the CTM union have informed the workers that TRW's actions have the support of the three levels of government. The letter asks, if that is true, then the government is failing in its obligation to defend the rights of the people. The workers asked the Governor to intervene in order to reach a prompt and fair solution to the conflict.
The Governor told the workers that he will study their letter and respond. During this exchange, the Mayor of Reynosa appeared to be very angry at the failure of the security guards to block the workers' access to the Governor.
Three TRW workers, Delfino, Antonio and Leonardo, accompanied the Governor to his bus. The exchange was covered widely by the media.
Earlier, on November 11th, workers from the TRW Workers Coalition took over the Labor Board again, demanding that its President set a date for the evidentiary hearing in the case. The date was set for December 7th. TRW Workers also made a statement to the media that they would join the call by the Electrical Workers' Union (SME) to turn off the lights in their homes for two hours, in a show of solidarity with the SME struggle. Please see the following link:
- Please write a letter to TRW's CEO in Michigan headquarters, demanding that TRW be accountable to the workers and negotiate directly with the Workers Coalition instead of the charro corporate CTM union
- Please keep sending messages to President Obama demanding that NAFTA be renegotiated
- Send a tax-deductible contribution to the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras: Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, 3611 Golden Tee LN, Missouri City, TX 77459
- Sample TRW headquarters message to send to:
- John C. Plant, President and Chief Executive Officer TRW Automotive. Phone: 734.855.2600. Email: John.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neil Marchuk Exec. VP for Human Resources. Phone: 734.855.3871 (office) 734.748.0676 (cell) 734.855.2473 (fax) Email: Neil.Marchuk@trw.com
- John Wilkerson, Senior Communication Manager. Phone: 734 855 3864. Email: John.Wilkerson@trw.com
Continued concern about TRW operations in Reynosa, Mexico
To: John.email@example.com, Neil.Marchuk@trw.com, John.Wilkerson@trw.com
John C. Plant, President and Chief Executive Officer TRW
Dear Mr. Plant:
I am writing to express my continued concern about TRW's operations in Reynosa, Mexico. I learned that yesterday the workers met the Governor of Tamaulipas and asked him to investigate TRW's actions in Reynosa. I am sure that you understand by now that the CTM "official" union does not adequately represent the workers and has repeatedly failed to stand up for their rights.
No corporation wants to be known as an entity that condones violations of labor rights and labor law. It is in TRW's interests to respect workers' rights to safe jobs, freedom of association and collective bargaining. I urge you to take action now to guarantee that TRW reinstate workers who were fired unjustifiably from their jobs at the TRW Del Norte Industrial Park plant and respect all severance and seniority payments as required by Mexican labor law.
I call on you to guarantee respect for workers rights and to take immediate action to address these concerns about TRW operations at the Reynosa plant. I request that you keep me informed of the steps you are taking to address this extremely serious situation.
SAMPLE MESSAGE to President Obama: Phone: 202-456-111, 202-456-1414, Fax 202 456-2461 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send copy of your letters to CJM at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: NAFTA fails to protect workers' rights
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
The NAFTA trade agreement has failed to meet the expectations of economic growth and development. Instead, NAFTA has increased unemployment, economic instability and insecurity, poverty and environmental injustice in the three countries of North America.
Multinational corporations such as TRW, a US corporation based in Livonia, Michigan, have profited by exploiting cheap labor, thanks to free trade agreements. After many years of phenomenal earnings, corporations are now laying off workers. In the case of TRW in Mexico, they are laying off workers without the severance payments that the workers are owed by law.
Trade agreements are about much more than trade. Trade agreements must have mechanisms to address and resolve the social consequences they create.
Despite the economic crisis, now is the right time to renegotiate NAFTA and address the need for immigration reform, which is inextricably linked to NAFTA.
The evidence of NAFTA's failure is everywhere - people are suffering the real consequences of unregulated and irresponsible free trade policies.
I call on you to investigate and regulate multinational corporations such as TRW, which is violating workers' rights and operating with impunity in Mexico.
I also urge you to uphold your commitment to address immigration reform and renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement immediately.
Martha A. Ojeda
Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras
Cell:210 240 1084
Office:210 732 8957
from Fred Lonidier :
Date: 15 November 2009
Subject: Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics.
Dear folks: check out this free paper about art and work organized by Temporary Services (the PDF is attached, but there are also some copies printed and kicking around various cities)...best - g
Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics
Half Letter Press
[Brett Bloom, Marc Fischer, Salem Collo-Julin]
P.O. Box 121012
Chicago, IL 60612
P.O. Box 12588
Chicago, IL 60612
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