Friday, February 27, 2009

SPEEA Engineers Rally for a Fair Contract

This photo was taken Monday during a rally by Boeing engineers. members of SPEEA. Their contract expired in November. Usually, after engineers in Seattle reach a deal, a contract in Wichita is easy to finalize in a few day. Not this time. A few weeks back, the Wichita engineers rejected the company's offer by a 88%-12% margin. On Monday, the talks resumed, with the aid of a federal mediator. But on Tuesday, they broke down. SPEEA say it will take another vote on the contract and will add a strike authorization vote.

I'm not an engineer, not a member of SPEEA, and this is just my opinion, it looks like the company is toying with provoking a strike. Making a substandard offer, that they know the workers can't accept.

Some people seem to think the engineers make too much money and should  be happy just to have a job in such trying times. This is envy combined with subservience. For if the corporations can get away with stomping highly educated and skilled workers, what chance to the rest of us have.

New Kansas Blogger Gets A Scoop

Ks-1 is a new blogger to me and he has got a scoop. KS-1 has poured over the campaign finance records of hard right Tim Huwlskamp, a leadering contender to take the seat of Congressman Jerry Moran who is running for the Senate.

Here's what he found

Records now in Kansas01's possession, some of which are pictured above behind Dr. Timothy Huelskamp's photo and some of which are available for download, confirm that Huelskamp's immediate family has pocketed over $18,000 of his contributors' dollars over the past several years. At least $15,000 of this was spent on reimbursements for mileage (which would be a lot of driving, even in Kansas); for "Republican retreats;" for hotels and other miscellaneous items.

(BTW, I'm using the old style "he" instead of "he or she" or "he/she." I don't know KS-1's idenity.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

US Peace Activists Defend Shirin Ebadi

I've added my name to this letter from the Committee for Peace and Democracy.

We are writing to invite you to sign the open letter below from American peace activists in defense of Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate and defender of women's rights and human rights for all. Your support can make a difference.

We believe that peace and democratic rights are deeply intertwined, and we defend freedom of expression whether or not we agree with the views being expressed. As peace activists, however, we are particularly concerned about the persecution of Shirin Ebadi, who has on many occasions repeated her opposition to the use of or threat to use U.S. military force against Iran. For example, on February 4, 2009 Ebadi was interviewed by Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now! television program. Goodman asked, "If the United States were to attack Iran, and when you look at the repression that you and others have suffered, would that help the democratic movement in Iran?" Ebadi replied firmly, [translated] "A military attack on Iran or even a threat of a military attack on Iran will deteriorate the situation of human rights and women's rights, because it gives an excuse to the government to repress them more and more often."

If Shirin Ebadi has no security inside Iran, then all peaceful civil society activists are at great risk. Indeed, the recent attacks on Ebadi take place against a background of stepped-up government repression. Trade union leaders, including Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Maddadi, are currently in prison; two women labor activists, Sussan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi, were flogged on February 18, 2009 because of their participation in a May Day celebration. Women's rights defenders, including those involved in the "One Million Signatures Campaign" have been unfairly prosecuted and sentenced. Privacy and personal dignity are under siege. People who defy patriarchal codes prescribing how men and women should behave, and people who are suspected of homosexual conduct, have been routinely victimized, often violently. Students, including most recently students from Amir Kabir University in Tehran, have been persecuted and brutally attacked. Mothers for Peace protesting the war in Gaza were attacked by plain clothes security agents on January 11 of this year.

These developments strengthen warmongering voices on both sides and thus threaten to set back the peace movement opposing military action against Iran.

Initial signers include Ervand Abrahamian, Janet Afary, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Ariel Dorfman, Martin Duberman, Carolyn Eisenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, John Feffer, Arun Gupta, Adam Hochschild, Doug Ireland, Kathy Kelly, Assaf Kfoury, Naomi Klein, Jesse Lemisch, Kevin Martin, Scott McLemee, David McReynolds, Charlotte Phillips MD, Katha Pollitt, Danny Postel, Matthew Rothschild, Stephen Shalom, Alice Slater, David Swanson, and Chris Toensing.

If you would like to add your name or make a tax-deductible donation to publicize the following statement, please go to our website -- if for any reason you have difficulty at the website, just send us an email at And please circulate the statement to your colleagues and friends.


Joanne Landy Tom Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy



Peace Activists Call on Teheran to Ensure Her Safety


Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ayatollah Shahrudi, Head of the Judiciary
Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Islamic Republic of Iran

We are writing to protest in the strongest terms the threats that have been mounted against Shirin Ebadi, co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and the Organization for the Defense of Mine Victims. Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, has spoken out vigorously and repeatedly for women's rights and human rights for all in her own country. She has also been a vocal and effective advocate for peace and against military attacks on Iran in international forums.

Ebadi today is in considerable danger. On December 21, 2008, officials prevented a planned celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and forced the closure of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which Ebadi helped found. The Center provides legal defense for victims of human rights abuses in Iran. The group had invited nearly 300 human rights defenders and supporters to the private celebration. A few hours before the start of the program, members of state security forces, and plainclothes agents entered the DHRC building. They filmed the premises, made an inventory, and forced the center's members to leave before putting locks on all entrances.

On December 29 officials identifying themselves as tax inspectors arrived at Ebadi's private law office in Tehran and removed documents and computers, despite her protests that the materials contained protected lawyer-client information.

Ebadi's former secretary has been arrested, and on January 1, 2009 a mob of 150 people gathered outside her home, chanting slogans against her. They tore down the sign to her law office, which is in the same building, and marked the building with graffiti. The police, who have been quick to close down unauthorized peaceful demonstrations, did nothing to stop the vandalism.

In similar cases, Iranian authorities frequently have followed office raids and other harassment with arbitrary arrests and detention, often leading to prosecutions on dubious charges

As peace activists, we have a special concern for Shirin Ebadi. Ebadi has spoken out, as we have, against any U.S. military attack on Iran. In 2005, Ebadi wrote, "American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause." ("The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran" by Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi, The New York Times, Feb 8, 2005).

We oppose any military attack on Iran by the United States or any other nation. We reject too the hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it protests repression in Iran while turning a blind eye to or actively abetting comparable or worse repression in countries with which it is allied like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Israel in the Occupied Territories. And we condemn as well Washington's double standard in criticizing Iranian repression while itself engaging in torture and undermining civil liberties at home. But that in no way deters us from protesting in the strongest terms the denial of basic democratic rights to the people of Iran. We protest because we believe in these rights, and also because we see social justice activists in Iran and all countries as our natural allies in building a peaceful, democratic world.

We call on you to cease and desist from the threats to Shirin Ebadi, to move immediately to prevent any further harassment, and to ensure Shirin Ebadi's safety and security.

You can sign on here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

EPI at the Entitlements Conference

The following is a statement outlining recommendations of the Economic Policy Institute’s president, Lawrence Mishel, before participating in today’s White House meeting on the economy:

“Over the last 30 years, the United States has seen an unprecedented transfer of income and wealth. Trillions of dollars of income that formerly were shared with all income classes have been captured by the top 1% of Americans, leaving the middle class squeezed and lower income Americans suffering real hardships.

“In fact, since 1979, the share of national income going to the top 1% has more than doubled, thereby allowing them to enjoy more than $1 trillion a year in extra income. It is clear that when the government looks for revenue to redress our fiscal imbalance that it should look first to those who have profited so disproportionately from the nation’s past economic growth. An estate tax (affecting only the wealthiest 5% of Americans),top marginal tax rates, and the taxation of capital gains and dividends can be the primary source of additional revenue needed both for continued public investment and to attain a reasonable deficit level of about 3% of GDP.

“With this historic rise in inequality in mind, it is also clear that Social Security, America’s most important and successful social insurance program, is the wrong place to look for savings. Like Medicare and Medicaid, which have done so much to end poverty among the elderly and ensure basic medical care for the most vulnerable among us, Social Security should be strengthened, not cut. The most serious long-term threat to fiscal balance comes from the rising costs of health care, but that problem is economy-wide and in no way caused by the so-called entitlement programs. Medicare does a better job of controlling costs than private insurance, and the best hope for the future depends on creating the option of a large Medicare-like plan that employers and individuals can choose as an alternative to costly private medical insurance. EPI and the Lewin Group have shown that such a plan could lower the cost of health care by a trillion dollars over 10 years while guaranteeing coverage to every American.”

See also a very good statement from the Democratic Socialists of America.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band headlined the closing concert of Friends University's Jazz Festival and did a great job.

Opening acts "Soulstice" and the Friends Jazz Band I also did a very good job.

Here's video of the Phat Band, I found on You Tube.

Be patient through the introductions, you'll be rewarded.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two Anti-Fred Phelps Protests in Wichita on Tuesday

Topeka's hate preacher Fred Phelps is bringing his show to Wichita this Tuesday. Counter-protests are being planned at WSU and Southeast High.

Info on the two counter-protests and links to their Facebook pages are below.


1:50pm - 2:40pm
Wichita State University (Wherever the Phelps Protest is - Likely outisde of RSC)
1845 Fairmount
Wichita, KS

Friends and activists at WSU,
It has come to my attention, and likely to many of yours, that the Westboro Baptist Church will be staging a protest of WSU on Tueday, Feb. 17 2:00PM-2:30PM. I was hoping to let you know about this so that you could, in turn, share it with others. Though a large scale counter-protest at such late notice - and for such a short event - may not be necessary, I hope that we can prepare one another to face the hate that is coming to our campus.

Though it has not been officially announced, they will likely gather outside of the RSC on the large ground-level patio near the parking lot. As we pass through this area, I hope that we are able to meet thier hate and anger with a peaceful response. They thrive on conflict and seek ways to destroy other people, if even for a few heated moments. I believe our greatest weapon in the face of this challenge is to stand facing their hateful rhetoric without response. My feet will be firmly and silently planted unafrad of their words and threats on Tuesday. I will stand not only for those targeted for being LGBT, but for soldiers, children, Christians who believe in a God that loves everyone, and all who suffer from the hateful actions of others.
Please feel welcome to join me. If you are unable, or choose not to, I will trust that your courage and energy will support mine and others' protests throughout this day from wherever you may be.

Please feel free to invite others you think may want to participate.

They will be leaving our campus and traveling to Southeast high school. A counter-protest has been arranged at SEHS from 2:30 - 3:45. They will meeting in front of South East High At 2:30 on Feb. 17th. "Brings creative signs or banners. There will be music and dancing. You are encouraged to bring anything that you think would help! ( baked goods, signs, instruments.. anything)" See the facebook event: Search for "Phelps Protest!"

South East High

2:30pm - 3:45pm
In front of South East High
903 South Edgemoor
Wichita, KS

Phelp's group ( Westboro Baptist) have broadened their targets and are now spreading their hate to the students and children of Wichita, KS. As citizens of Wichita it is our responsibility to make sure the youth in our community feel love and acceptance rather than hate. Here is a description from god hates fags about their plans.

"Wichita High School Southeast - Full of every filthy bird! 903 S. Edgemoor St We are coming to Bible-bleak Wichita, to picket you "WEST SIDE!" (that's what your little brat gang bangers hollar) Perverts! All your ?choices? ? in the gutter All they taught you is how to screech and stutter Serve Obama ? in his army full of fags Try to make a living ? you?ll end up in rags Rebel child, God hates you These plain words, we?re here to tell Bible stupid ? makes God angry Read the words ? for riz-zle hell! We hear tell that this High School has both a fag club and a bible club. Tell me you are kidding. Please tell me that you dumb asses are not actually going to pretend that you have anyone at that school who ever cracks a Bible! Oh no you did NOT just confess your stark sins. Let me remind the readers that Wichita is the most violent, filthy, corrupt city in Western Kansas. And you know that famous city of Dodge is farther west - that was where Wyatt Earp was Sheriff. YES! Wichita is worse than old Dodge City.''

We [anti-Phelps protesters] will meeting in front of South East High At 2:30 on Feb. 17th. Brings creative signs or banners. There will be music and dancing. You are encouraged to bring anything that you think would help! ( baked goods, signs, instruments.. anything)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Karl Marx's Letter to Abraham Lincoln

In observance of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, NAR thought it might be timely to recall the letter that Karl Marx as a leader of the International Working Men's Association sent to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America

It was presented to U.S. Ambassador Charles Francis Adams on January 28, 1865

We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery.

From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class. The contest for the territories which opened the dire epopee, was it not to decide whether the virgin soil of immense tracts should be wedded to the labor of the emigrant or prostituted by the tramp of the slave driver?
When an oligarchy of 300,000 slaveholders dared to inscribe, for the first time in the annals of the world, "slavery" on the banner of Armed Revolt, when on the very spots where hardly a century ago the idea of one great Democratic Republic had first sprung up, whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the eighteenth century; when on those very spots counterrevolution, with systematic thoroughness, gloried in rescinding "the ideas entertained at the time of the formation of the old constitution", and maintained slavery to be "a beneficent institution", indeed, the old solution of the great problem of "the relation of capital to labor", and cynically proclaimed property in man "the cornerstone of the new edifice" — then the working classes of Europe understood at once, even before the fanatic partisanship of the upper classes for the Confederate gentry had given its dismal warning, that the slaveholders' rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy crusade of property against labor, and that for the men of labor, with their hopes for the future, even their past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic. Everywhere they bore therefore patiently the hardships imposed upon them by the cotton crisis, opposed enthusiastically the proslavery intervention of their betters — and, from most parts of Europe, contributed their quota of blood to the good cause.
While the workingmen, the true political powers of the North, allowed slavery to defile their own republic, while before the Negro, mastered and sold without his concurrence, they boasted it the highest prerogative of the white-skinned laborer to sell himself and choose his own master, they were unable to attain the true freedom of labor, or to support their European brethren in their struggle for emancipation; but this barrier to progress has been swept off by the red sea of civil war.

The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world. [B]

Signed on behalf of the International Workingmen's Association, the Central Council:
Longmaid, Worley, Whitlock, Fox, Blackmore, Hartwell, Pidgeon, Lucraft, Weston, Dell, Nieass, Shaw, Lake, Buckley, Osbourne, Howell, Carter, Wheeler, Stainsby, Morgan, Grossmith, Dick, Denoual, Jourdain, Morrissot, Leroux, Bordage, Bocquet, Talandier, Dupont, L.Wolff, Aldovrandi, Lama, Solustri, Nusperli, Eccarius, Wolff, Lessner, Pfander, Lochner, Kaub, Bolleter, Rybczinski, Hansen, Schantzenbach, Smales, Cornelius, Petersen, Otto, Bagnagatti, Setacci;
George Odger, President of the Council; P.V. Lubez, Corresponding Secretary for France; Karl Marx, Corresponding Secretary for Germany; G.P. Fontana, Corresponding Secretary for Italy; J.E. Holtorp, Corresponding Secretary for Poland; H.F. Jung, Corresponding Secretary for Switzerland; William R. Cremer, Honorary General Secretary.
Here's a recent article on Marx and the American civil war.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Leonard Zeskind on the Society of St. Pius and St. Mary's Kansas

Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen the local media note the Kansas connection to the controversy over the Pope's recent move to bring Catholic traditionalists back into the fold.

Leonard Zeskind discusses the connection in his latest blog post.

I am looking at a copy of the title page from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious Czarist forgery that has been part of the anti-Semitic stock in trade for more than a century. This particular edition was translated into English by “Victor E. Marsden,” and was published in 1934. And it was “Item: 6012,” its price was listed as $5.00, and it was sold by the “Immaculata Bookstore” in St. Mary’s, Kansas in 1993. The Immaculata Bookstore being part of St. Mary’s Academy & College, which described itself as one of the “Traditional Catholic Schools of the Society of St. Pius X.
Zeskind concludes

In an interview with Salomon Korn, the vice-president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Korn concludes that, “As long as Pope Benedict XVI doesn’t send a clear signal that all Catholics must support the Second Vatican Council, things simply cannot return to normal.”

And it is on that small patch of ink that the truth of the matter resides.

"Generational Theft" Nonsense from the GOP

The GOP's latest talking point against President Obama's recovery program is that it is "generational theft."

Building schools that will educate not only today's children, but another generation or two. Generational theft--Not

Providing health insurance of laid-off workers and their families. Generational theft--Not

Building and repairing roads and bridges. Generational theft--Not

Promoting green energy and jobs. Generational theft--Not

Providing aid to states so that school budgets aren't cut and teachers fired. Generational theft--Not

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sebelius Leads Moran and Tiahrt

Daily Kos and Research 2000 have just released a startlingly good poll for a potential Kathleen Sebelius race against either of the Republican Congressmen who have announced for the GOP Senate nomination. (Hat tip to Moti)

Both Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt trail Sebelius by significant margins.

Sebelius (D) 47
Tiahrt (R) 37

Sebelius (D) 48
Moran (R) 36

Here's what Kos says

Kansas is an exceedingly difficult state for Democrats to compete in. Note that despite Obama's huge popularity around the country, he clocks in only at 48-41 in Kansas. Sure, it's a net positive, and it's numbers that George W. Bush would kill for, but they lag far behind Obama's national numbers. This isn't a hospitable place for Democrats.

Yet here we have Gov. Kathleen Sebelius coming in with a solid 56-37 approval rating, including a surprisingly good 42-54 among Republicans, which is important given that Republicans make up half the state's voters. In the head-to-head matchups, Sebelius, gets about a third of those voters. Independents, another quarter of the voter pool, like her at a 63-27 clip. If those numbers held up, she'd make history by having a Democrat represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1939.

And, here some surprising news. Neither of the right-wing Congressmen does that well in his home district against Sebelius.

In Moran's first distirct
Sebelius 40
Moran 46

In Tiahrt's fourth district
Sebelius 38
Tiahrt 47

Kansas political junkies have been speculating the either Moran or Tiahrt will get cold feet and give up the Senate race for the comfort of safe House seat. Looking at this poll, maybe they'll both decide they don't want to go down as the first Republican since 1932 to lose a Senate seat.

KC Rally "Save Our Jobs" Sunday February 8

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and other elected officials will join the United Auto Workers and the Automobile Dealers Association at a “Save Our Jobs” rally at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, in the gymnasium of Penn Valley Community College. 3200 Southwest Tfwy, In Kansas City.
Thousands of residents from both sides of the state line will convene in the 3,000-seat gym to stress the impact auto manufacturing has on the region.

“The global financial crisis is crippling the availability of credit for the automakers, their suppliers, their dealers and consumers,” said Cleaver. “As our local auto plants extend their work stoppages, it is quite possible one or more of the domestic automakers could collapse.

“No one can afford American automakers going bankrupt, least of all the 7,200 men and women who work at the Fairfax and Claycomo plants, the thousands who work for the auto dealers in the area or the tens of thousands of retirees,” Cleaver continued. “Those are our neighbors, friends and family and they are in trouble.”

Other elected officials expected to attend the rally—which is scheduled to last one hour—include Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond, and U.S. Rep Dennis Moore of Kansas. Kansas City, Kansas Mayor/CEO Joe Reardon also will attend.

Friday, February 06, 2009

SPEEA engineers reject Boeing Offer

Engineers delivered a resounding “NO” to a contract offer from The Boeing Company in voting today, a move that sends both sides back to the bargaining table.

Following the recommendation of union negotiators, members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, voted down the Boeing offer at a special meeting held at Curtis Middle School. The tally showed 88 percent of the voting members rejected the offer, with 209 voting “No” and 28 voting “Yes” to accept Boeing’s offer for a new contract covering engineers at Boeing’s Wichita Integrated Defense Systems (IDS). Union tellers counted the votes at SPEEA’s Midwest office following the meeting. The ballot did not include a strike authorization vote. “This is a very clear message to Boeing corporate that engineers in Wichita will not tolerate being treated as second-class,” said Joe Newberry, chair of the SPEEA Wichita Engineering Unit negotiating team and a 35-year employee at the plant. “We’re anxious to get back to the table.”


Warren's 3-D Rip-off

3-D movies are all the rage and going to be more so. But there's been a debate about who is going to pay for the expensive equipment required--the movie houses or the Hollywood studios.

Dumby, it's going to be you the consumer. At least, if Bill Warren has way.

There's a notice on the Warren Theater website

Because these shows are special engagement shows and the equipment to display the 3-D film is very expensive, tickets for 3-D shows cost an additional $3.00 per ticket. In addition, no passes/vips/discounts will be accepted for these shows.
So, if you just have to go see Coraline, FIGHT BACK. Don't buy popcorn and a soda.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

KPTS documentary on Dockum Sit-in

The Dockum Sit-in: A Legacy of Courage - Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:00 p.m.

In the summer of 1958, two dozen young people from the Wichita Branch of NAACP Youth Council staged what would become the first successful student-led sit-in of the Civil Rights movement.

This documentary will air on KPTS, Channel 8, on Thursday, February 5 at 7:00 p.m.