Friday, September 28, 2007

Ross Wine-Sky to Perform October 4th

Blind musician, Ross Wine-Sky, and his Rockin' Americana band, ELECTRIC WINE-SKY, will be playing at the Music City Star Train Station celebrating Employment Month for People with Disabilities, sponsored by the Middle Tennessee Center for Independent Living (CIL) and other community agencies, this Thursday afternoon, October 4. Wine-Sky is a singer-songwriter who moved to Nashville six years ago from the San Francisco Bay area. In addition to songwriting and performing, he has been a disability advocate and has served as Execut ive Director for several employment programs serving people with disabilities. ELECTRIC WINE-SKY recently played The Billy Block Show and is currently at work on a new CD.

Wine-Sky has assembled an electric, rootsy band that will rock your socks off. These virtuoso musicians are the perfect backdrop for Wine-Sky's earthy voice and help bring to life his songs which are filled with the stories of cops on the run, blind cowboys, itinerant lovers, homeless heroes, devoted sons with troubled fathers, and migrant workers.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme: Workers with Disabilities: Talent for a Winning Team

Where: 108 1st Avenue, S, Nashville, TN, the New Music City Star Riverfront Station, at Broadway and First, on the River
Music: Electric Wine-Sky
Date: Tuesday, October 4th, 2007
Time: 3:30 – 6:30PM

There will be information tables with employment resources for people with disabilities

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Smithfield Justice Update

There have been recent positive developments in the fight for justice at Smithfield's Tar Heel plant. These positive developments are due, in large part, to the efforts of the coalitions of faith, community, education, activist and union leaders in Boston, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. (among others) and NASHVILLE!! The actions and efforts this past summer followed by a massive march of 1,000 Justice@Smithfield workers and supporters to the Smithfield Shareholder's meeting pressured this company to finally come to the table and negotiate.

The Justice@Smithfield Campaign in support of the workers at Smithfield Foods' Tar Heel plant has already seen remarkable results. The company's pork products have been pulled from shelves of many supermarkets, presidential candidates have made the workers' plight an issue on the campaign trail, national churches and cities have passed support resolutions, and a major network of faith, civil rights, and labor organizations has been formed to speak out on behalf of justice at Smithfield.

The company has taken notice. In the run-up to the shareholders meeting, company and union officials made contact and talks are now underway. While we are still in the early stages of negotiations, we know that we could not have made it this far without your support. The union is calling on the company to remain completely neutral and allow the workers to make their own choice, without any interference, in an independently run, non-NLRB process.

Organizers have entered into these talks in good faith, and will continue to work with Smithfield to reach a fair agreement for the workers, but we also go in with a consciousness of the company's history. In past elections, workers have been threatened, called racial epithets, fired and even assaulted for their support of the union.

Over the next few weeks, organizers will continue to keep the public updated on this process. No matter which direction these negotiations take, they ask your help and support is as crucial now as it has been in the past. The campaign will not end until workers in Tar Heel have a union and a union contract. We are proud to stand alongside you in support of Justice at Smithfield, and we look forward to working with you during this new phase of the struggle.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pots and Pans for Peace

September 21 every year is International Peace Day, and the third Friday of every month is Iraq Moratorium Day. Peace rallies are being held everywhere. Some of the organizations involved are United for Peace and Justice and Vets for Peace . Here in Nashville, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship is having a ceremony at War Memorial Plaza from 11 am to 1:30 pm, to rename it the Peace Memorial Plaza. In the evening, the Molly Ivins Brigade will be joining the Nashville Peace Coalition and for a peace rally. Anyone who is interested is invited.

Eric Schechter, of the Nashville Peace Coalition, writes "from 5 to 7 pm, the Nashville Peace Coalition invites everyone to a peace rally along West End Avenue, in front of Centennial Park, across the street from Borders Books. We hope to be visible to rush hour traffic. This kind of rally is more effective if we have a big crowd, so please come if you can. It will be fun. Bring noisemakers. Bring pots and pans, and wooden spoons to bang them with, in keeping with Molly Ivins's dying wish: "get out there and raise hell for peace." Bring signs -- you can say whatever you want on your signs, but one theme we're hoping to emphasize is that funding should be allocated only for bringing the troops home."

Peace Vigil in Sewanee, Tennessee

A silent vigil calling for an end to the Iraq occupation is scheduled for Friday, September 21, at 4:30 pm, on the corner of University Avenue and Highway 41A, in Sewanee. Organized by the End the Iraq Occupation committee of CCJP, this will be the third vigil in the Sewanee community. If possible, wear black and bring a sign expressing your opposition to the war. Each vigil has doubled in numbers, with 23 people participating in the first vigil and 48 in the second.

With the help of student support, we hope to double our numbers again and break 100! Taking a public stand gives others the courage to speak out against the war and sends a message of solidarity to our legislators. Participants should gather in the Sewanee Gardener’ Market lot at the corner of Highway 41A and Hawkins Lane. For more information contact Leslie Lytle at

On Tuesday, September 25, at 4:00 pm, there will be a peace vigil in Winchester on the sidewalk in front of the old Franklin County High School. Concerned citizens of Winchester and Decherd are sponsoring the vigil, inspired by the recent vigils in Sewanee and Tullahoma. Says Pat Tabor who helped organize the event, "We need to speak up and do all we can to bring a speedy end to this illegal war." (For more information contact Pat at

The annual Peace Pole Ceremony at Sewanee Elementary School is scheduled for 8:00 am on Friday, September 21. Please turn out to show your support for this landmark event initiated by CCJP.

The Highland Rim Democrats will hold a potluck fundraiser on Friday, September 21, from 5:30-8:30 pm, at the Tullahoma Business Center, 410 Wilson Avenue. Suggested donation $5.00, music by Sewanee's own Bazzania. Welcome all Democrats, Independents and disgruntled Republicans! (For more information contact David Clark at

StoryCorps Nashville Oral History Project

StoryCorps is a national oral history project to instruct and inspire everyday people to collect one another's stories in sound. To make this possible, SC has soundproof StoryBooths (2 permanent ones in NYC and 3 mobile booths traveling the country in airstream trailers, as well as one at the Milwaukee Public library and now one here in Nashville) where folks can go to tell their stories to one another. Each interview lasts 40 minutes, is facilitated by a trained facilitator (me!) and participants leave with a broadcast-quality CD recording of their interview. With participants' permission, each interview also gets archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. A very few interviews are edited and broadcast nationally Friday mornings on NPR's Morning Edition. StoryCorps believes that everyone has a story to tell and that these stories deserve to be told and recorded for future generations. To date, SC has collected over 10,000 stories!

StoryCorps hosts its official launch on Oct. 6th, coinciding with the opening of the new Special Collections Center at the Main Library. The grand opening will be on Sat., Oct. 6th from 11 - 4 at the Main Library, 615 Church Street. Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, will be there to play some of the more memorable clips from SC interviews and show off the new booth.

To participate, just grab a partner (or come alone, if you wish -- a facilitator can interview you), make an appointment, and head on down to the main library. You can make an appointment by visiting, or by calling our reservation line at 800-850-4406 (it's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). The suggested donation is only $10.

Kate Wingate

TTPC on Nashville Queer Talk Radio

This Saturday, September 22, members of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition will appear on "Queer Talk Radio", hosted by Dr. Joyce Arnold. Queer Talk Radio can be heard in Nashville on WRVU, 91.1 FM. Queer Talk Radio airs from 4:30 to 5:00 pm CST. The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Commentary: What Woke Me Up

by Eric Schechter
Until spring 2006 I was among the Great Sleeping Masses, not paying much attention to the state of the world. Much of political rhetoric is intended to confuse, and certainly I was confused. Indeed, part of what attracted me to mathematics decades ago was its clear, objective procedure for determining truth. In math you don't have to be persuasive -- you just have to be right.

But by spring 2006 I was starting to realize that the most important questions in our lives are not mathematically precise ones. Understanding begins begins when we accept schematics in place of precision, like road maps in place of photographs. We seek a collection of overlapping oversimplifications; the good ones are those offering insights that make sense to us.

I was awakened by the near-simultaneous occurrence of many things. Some were purely personal, e.g., finishing a 7-year book project and a 23-year marriage, and discovering Alternet on my new cellphone. Some were revelations in the world news -- e.g., of the White House's enormous lies about Iraq and global warming. War is a terrible thing that you should never enter without a really good, clear reason; and science is the closest thing to objective truth that humans can get. To lie about either is blasphemous.

My fog began to dissipate when I ran across linguist George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant. (I think Lakoff's subsequent books are even better, and his Thinking Points is available for free download.) Lakoff distinguishes between progressive and conservative in fairly simple terms, in a somewhat neutral tone, but he doesn't hide the fact that he's a progressive. I quickly saw that I am too, but I don't feel at all neutral about it; the errors of the conservatives are hurting many people and killing our ecosystem.

We are engaged in a great contest of ideas about economics and human nature. Conservative propagandists have captured most of the mass communications media, but progressives still hope to win through person to person enlightenment. That includes you. Discuss these ideas with everyone.

What's going on in Jena, Louisiana?

Why are thousands of civil rights activists from around the country (including hundreds from Nashville) traveling to Jena Thursday?

A year ago, two black high school students in the small town of Jena, Louisiana sat under a tree at their school known as the "whites only tree." The next day, three nooses were hung from the tree. When three white students were identified as being responsible, the school superintendent called the nooses "an innocent prank" and gave the white students three days of in-school suspension.

To protest this inadequate response and the ongoing racial violence in their town, many more black students sat under the tree several days later. Soon, the District Attorney came to the school accompanied by police, ordering the students to call off the protest. He told them: "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."

Several months of racial fights followed, including multiple documented assaults by white students on black students. No white students were arrested. In one incident, several black students beat up a white student who was a vocal supporter of the nooses. The white student was taken to a hospital, released, and went to a party that night.

From that incident, six black teenagers (now known as the Jena 6) were arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder, among other charges, which carry a possible sentence of 20 to 100 years in prison.

For more details, search for "Jena 6" to view hundreds of media stories. Here's one from Democracy Now:

What will be Nashville's response?

On Thursday morning, September 20, a nationwide rally will be held in Jena. Last night, several hundred people gathered at the Village Church in East Nashville, including roughly 150 who have committed to taking the 20 hour round-trip bus ride to Jena (more info below if you'd like to join them). So far, several thousand dollars have been raised, overwhelmingly by and from Nashville's black community, to ensure that the bus ride is free of charge and that Nashvillians will not be spending any money on Jena's economy. Even as donations are coming in from churches, businesses, and hundreds of individuals, more funds are needed to ensure that everyone who wants to travel to Jena is able to do so, and can stay healthy and fed on the trip.

What can we do?

#1 Forward this e-mail, read more about Jena, talk about Jena to people you know.

#2 Donate money if you can. The Nashville Black Covenant Coalition's website is set up to take pay-pal and credit card donations:

#3 Ask your congregation or organization to make a contribution at the website above.

#4 Call Louisiana officials on Thursday the 20th. For more info:

#5 Come to the RALLY to send off the buses!

Where: TSU's Gentry Center, in the parking lot
When: Wednesday, Sept 19: 5pm to 6pm (buses depart at 6pm sharp)

For more information on how you can support Nashville's Jena 6 organizing, or if you'd like to "GET ON THE BUS" and go to Jena yourself, call: 615-469-5220 or 615-419-4214.

Tennessee Plans Second Execution in a Month

Edward Jerome Harbison is scheduled to be executed on September 26, 2007 in Tennessee. He was sentenced to death in 1985 for the murder of Edith Russell in 1983, yet Harbison has never received adequate counsel or a fair trial. Harbison’s defense and first appeal lawyers both failed to disclose such mitigating factors as severe deprivation and abuse during his childhood.

In addition, significant evidence leading to another suspect in the murder was never revealed and the appeal lawyer failed to disclose a substantial conflict of interest in his handling of the case. Finally, the jury was given the instruction that premeditation can "be formed in an instant," instructions which have since been prohibited by the Tennessee Supreme Court because they removed the distinction between first and second-degree murder. Due to the apparent absence of premeditation in this case, it is unlikely that E.J. Harbison would be convicted of first-degree murder, let alone sentenced to death, if he were tried today.

On January 15, 1983, Edith Russell returned home to discover burglars in her apartment and was bludgeoned to death with a heavy object. After police located some of her stolen items, David Schreane was arrested and led police to a marble vase that had been taken in the burglary. Later, E.J. Harbison was arrested and confessed to killing Edith Russell, stating that he had hit her with the vase. However, Harbison stated that his confession had been coerced by the police.

Harbison's defense and first appeal lawyers both failed to disclose such mitigating evidence as deprivation and abuse during his childhood to the jury at trial, or as grounds for appeal. Both of Harbison's parents were alcoholics and there is evidence that E.J. suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Moreover, E. J. Harbison was regularly beaten as a child, and he was witness to violence between his parents, including once when his father fired a gun at his mother, missed, and hit E.J. instead.

A psychologist has testified on appeal that E.J. Harbison "suffers from a number of interrelated cognitive, emotional and psychological impairments. Children like him who experience abuse and witness interfamilial violence have substantial problems in all areas of life... It is my opinion within a reasonable degree of psychological certainty that Harbison suffered from psychological deficits reflected in extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time of the offense, as he has throughout most of his life. In addition, the trauma he experienced as a child and other mental health and life history-related mitigating circumstances were available and could have been presented to the jury."

Further concerns remain regarding the instruction given to the jury.The jury was told that it could convict Harbison of first-degree murder if it found that he had premeditated the killing. Such premeditation would be difficult to prove, given that the burglars had entered the home when it was empty, and there was no evidence that Harbison had taken a weapon to the crime. However, the jury was instructed that such premeditation could be "formed in an instant." The Tennessee Supreme Court later prohibited this instruction because it removed the distinction between first and second-degree murder, but its ruling came seven years after Harbison's trial.

Harbison's appeal lawyer also failed to inform either Harbison or the courts that he had a conflict of interest, namely that he had previously represented another man, Ray Harrison, when he was one of the suspects in the burglary and murder of Edith Russell.

Though his appeals were denied, Judge Clay, one of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dissented, holding that the failure of the prosecution to hand over police files favorable to the defense had violated Harbison's right to a fair trial. Judge Clay pointed out that the police files provided evidence that Ray Harrison had a motive to rob and/or murder Edith Russell, that he and David Schreane were together on the day of the crime and "in close proximity to the Russell residence," that Ray Harrison's wife "placed Harrison at the scene of the crime," and that "Schreane falsely implicated Harbison in Russell’s murder." The non-disclosure of this information, argued Judge Cole, "undermines confidence in Harbison's guilty verdict."

Forum on Religion and the Elections

Forum on religion and 2008 election set for Sept. 20 at Vanderbilt

James Hudnut-Beumler, the Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History and dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School, will speak at the 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. community breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 20, in the refectory of the divinity school on the Vanderbilt campus.

His topic will be “Religion and Politics in the 2008 Election: A Look
into the Future.”

“Religion is one of the many issues that the presidential candidates will
address during the election,” Hudnut-Beumler said. “As we look to the
future, we will discuss how questions of religion may influence the
political platforms of the 2008 election.”

Cost to attend the community breakfast is $10 and advance reservations
are required. For more information, call 615-936-8457 or go to

The forum will be recorded for podcast on VUCast, the Web site of
Vanderbilt News Service, at

Media Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

100,000 March Against Iraq War

Iraq Veterans Against the War speaking at the Sept. 15 rally

On Saturday, nearly 100,000 people -- led by anti-war Iraq veterans, military families and others -- marched from the White House to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. to demand an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq. The march concluded with a dramatic "die-in" of 5,000 people surrounding the Capitol. Almost 200 people were arrested when police prevented them taking an anti-war message to Congress.

People marched shoulder-to-shoulder on eight-lane-wide Pennsylvania Avenue, with the densely packed march stretching more than 10 blocks. It was a historic action and a step forward for the anti-war movement.

Protesters surged onto the Capitol's south lawn and up the steps where they were met by a police line. There, Iraq veterans conducted a solemn ceremony to memorialize the U.S. soldiers and Iraqis killed in the war. Over 5,000 people then laid down in a symbolic "die-in" -- one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in recent years.

One hundred ninety-seven people, including dozens of veterans and activists, were arrested when they tried to deliver their anti-war message to Congress and were stopped by the police. Among the arrested were Adam Kokesh, Liam Madden, Jeff Millard, and Garrett Reppenhagen of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism); Ann Wright, former U.S. Army Colonel; Michael Prysner, Iraq war veteran and ANSWER activist in Florida; union president Gloria La Riva; and Eugene Puryear, Howard University student and National Coordinator of Youth & Student ANSWER. Police pepper-sprayed demonstrators without provocation.

This mass action came on the heels of the pro-war Petraeus report to Congress and Bush's wholehearted endorsement of the report. Meanwhile, the war rages on, destroying Iraqi society. Nearly 4,000 U.S. solidiers and up to 1 million Iraqis have died since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.

Many organizations and individuals joined together to sponsor the protest in Washington, D.C. timed to coincide with the Petraeus report on the "surge" in Iraq, including the ANSWER Coalition; Ramsey Clark; Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chair, National Council of Arab Americans; Cindy Sheehan; Camp Casey Peace Institute; Cynthia McKinney; Veterans for Peace (National); Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Chair of Board of Directors; Tina Richards, CEO of Grassroots America; Rev. Lenox Yearwood, CEO of Hip Hop Caucus; Code Pink; Father Roy Bourgeois and Eric LeCompte, School of Americas Watch; Al-Awda, The Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising; Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, co-founder Appeal for Redress; Liam Madden, Pres., Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and co-founder of Appeal for Redress; Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground Collective, New Orleans; Howard Zinn, Author and Historian; Carlos & Melida Arredondo, Gold Star Families for Peace and hundreds of other organizations and individuals.

UNA Hosts Millennium Seminar

This Thursday, September 20th, at 4:30 p.m. we have a UNA Seminar with Mary Pat Silveira speaking on "The United Nations Millennium Development Goals: What they are and what we can do about them." We are very pleased to have one of our Board members, Mary Pat Silveira, a former and returning Nashvillian who recently retired after 30 years of service at the UN, present this topic. Please see her biography summary below. The seminar is at the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, 1016 18th Avenue South.

Mary Pat Silveira recently retired from the United Nations and is currently
working as a consultant on issues related to sustainable development, public
policy and international organizations.

Ms. Silveira joined the United Nations in 1977, working on development policy
issues and as editor of the Advance Technology Assessment System (ATAS) in the
Centre for Science and Technology for Development. From 1985 through 1987 she
worked in Maputo as coordinator of the emergency response programme in
Mozambique and, upon her return to New York, became actively engaged in the
Rio process. She joined the new Division for Sustainable Development upon its
creation in early 1993.

In 1999, she participated in the UN Mission in Kosovo where she served as
acting Administrator of the region of Mitrovica. The following year Ms.
Silveira moved to the UN Regional Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in
Geneva, where she was responsible for the “Environment for Europe”
process, the Environmental Performance Reviews of countries-in-transition and
the regional contributions to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

In late 2004, Ms. Silveira was asked to return to the UN Division for
Sustainable Development in New York as Chief of the National Information,
Monitoring and Outreach Branch. Prominent among her responsibilities was
furthering the work on national sustainable development strategies and
indicators for sustainable development.

Ms. Silveira completed her doctoral studies in international relations at the
University of California, Berkeley and has published a number of books and
articles on international relations, public policy and sustainable

A Conversation on the Power of Fear

Today’s Witches:
Revisiting The Crucible
A Conversation on the Power of Fear
Wednesday, Oct. 3@ 7 p.m.

Instances of hatred, suspicion and prejudice litter the timeline of our nation. From the Salem witch trials to the Red Scare to ethnic and religious discrimination, fear and ignorance have led to some of the darkest periods in our history.

To kick off the Tennessee Repertory Theatre ’s production of
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, you are invited to participate in a
conversation that reflects upon the powerful themes that are raised
in the play. Who are the persecuted “witches” in society today?
Do your traits or beliefs condemn you in the eyes of others?

Join us in an engaging and thought-provoking discussion about
one of human nature ’s most innate and dangerous emotions: fear.

John Seigenthaler, founder, First Amendment Center

Hedy Weinberg, executive director, ACLU Tennessee
Richard Land, president, Southern Baptist Convention’s
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Arsalan Iftikhar, contributing editor, Islamica magazine
Chris Sanders, president, Tennessee Equality Project

Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center

The program will include audience Q&A, as well as a scene
from The Crucible performed by actors from the Tennessee
Repertory Theatre.

John Seigenthaler Center
1207 18th Ave. S.
Nashville, Tennessee

Parking is available on 18th Avenue South in the garage
directly across from the entrance to the John Seigenthaler Center.

Limited seating. R.S.V.P. by
September 28 to 615/727-1333 or

WRFN Benefit October 6th

Joel Higgins of "Nashville Fire" Mondays 6-7pm has put together a benefit for RFN at the Boro in Murfreesboro on October 6th with six bands. Attached please find a flyer for the show. All of you in or near Murfreesboro please print some out and plaster the town. The rest of you can do Nashville, write articles, call friends or whatever. This is very important as the station's financial resources are dangerrously low at the moment. We seriously need you all to step up!

Remember, all are required to do volunteer hours and helping to
promote this show counts toward your quota. Pleae do all you can and
try to attend if possible. Every little bit helps. Each band has
promised 100 fans so we could really make a lot of $$ that would allow
us to pay some bills and upgrade equipment.

Special thanks to Joel for all his hard work toward this goal.

Greg Welsch
General Manager
WRFN-LP 98.9 Radio Free Nashville
(615) 500-3909

TAP Hosting Progressive Thought

The next meeting of TAP's Progressive Thought Discussion Group will be September 24th, 7 pm to 8:30 pm at a NEW LOCATION, Eastwood Christian Church, corner of 16th Street and Eastland Avenue in East Nashville (map). Our topic for September 24 is: BE THE RED PILL.

In the film "The Matrix" the perceived world is an illusion generated by a computer that everyone's plugged into, and reality (of which none are aware) is very different. Early in the movie, the main character is offered a choice to take a blue pill and continue his dreaming existence, or to take a red pill and wake up. He takes the red pill, gets hip to reality, and joins the resistance. The illusion of The Matrix is an apt metaphor for the 24/7 Faux News spin cycle too many are caught in. To bring progressive social change, we must find ways to communicate like Red Pills and help others awaken from corporatist illusions and to the better reality that awaits. Facilitators Susan McKay and Eric Schechter will start off the discussion, but where it leads is up to you -- we want to hear from all the Red Pills!

Why is TAP holding the Progressive Thought Discussion Group? The goal is to discuss some deep questions such as: What kind of society do we really want? One based on fear, greed, selfishness, looking out for #1, domination of other countries, or one based on interconnectedness, community, sharing, respect, opportunity, equality, generosity and ecological sanity? How can we frame our ideas in a way that resonates with the people of Tennessee? Isn't it time for some new ideas? Some new policies? Some new leaders? Please join us for a lively discussion!

Notes from our past meetings are available on the blog. For more information, go TAP is a think and act tank dedicated to the idea that "We're All In This Together." TAP relies on the generosity of visionaries like you to continue doing our work. You can make a safe online donation to support TAP at the website or you can mail a check to TAP, PO Box 60338, Nashville, TN 37206.

Commentary: Can Congress Be Reformed?

by Richard Aberdeen

Anyone possessing an ounce of political sense can readily determine there is no way to fix America unless the influence of big money is eliminated from the political process. Any other plan is mainly a big waste of everyone's time, if we do not as all-partisan citizens, regardless of religious, political or other persuasion, rise up and demand the complete elimination of bribery from sea to once shining sea.

Nothing illustrates this need better than the current crop of malfeasant Democrats, who after gaining control of Congress in January of 2007, nine months later haven't done a single thing the people obviously want. They passed a minimum wage law that was over ten years too late and as many dollars too low and, have done nothing to provide universal healthcare, reduce poverty, create jobs, lower housing, fuel and education costs or repair national infrastructure.

Rather than do anything that will actually help Americans any time soon, they have instead engaged in endless political bend-over posturing and not surprisingly, caved into every single war funding demand that King George the Little has requested. Recently, again cowering before his ongoing fear-mongering rhetoric, they signed away even more of our already reduced rights to be free from big-brother snooping.

Because the Supreme Court will always otherwise, declare any and all manner of corruption-eliminating reform “unconstitutional”, the only way to get rid of big money influence is by Constitutional amendment. All other attempts at congressional reform have a long historical trail of tears track record of utter failure.

We need an amendment making it illegal, punishable by life in prison without parole, for any organization or group of people of any kind, for any reason, to contribute one birthday cake candle or anything of higher value, to one small-town city council office seeker on up to president. We then need to limit individual contributions to 1% of the median income per candidate per year, approximately $480 in 2007 dollars; including, relatives, friends and candidates themselves.

In order to be licensed for broadcasting on what are theoretically “the people's” airwaves, we need to require all radio and television stations to grant free equal airtime to “qualified” candidates; qualification determined by obtaining enough signatures of registered voters, amount determined by office and number of people represented. And, hold all party primaries on the same date, eliminate the electoral college, elect everyone by popular vote and demand all voting machines have a verifiable paper trail.

There is much tweaking necessary for the amendment proposed here, but this sketch outline is sufficient to grasp the basic idea. No law will eliminate all corruption, but what is suggested here would eliminate well over 90% of the current problem and, would allow the majority people to actually have a voice.

Will the bottom-feeding miscreant corporate-puppet juvenile delinquent treasonous reprobates of Congress ever be eliminated and put in federal prison where they belong? You decide.

Richard Aberdeen

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Study Examines Health Care Ministry

Seventy percent of participating churches provide direct health services

New York, Sept. 18, 2007 – A groundbreaking survey of more than 6,000 American congregations reveals that churches spend a significant amount of time, energy and money in the ministries of health care.

The Congregational Health Ministry Survey, conducted by the National Council of Churches USA (NCC) with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows that a majority of churches are ministering to their communities by providing health care ministries. As the number of uninsured Americans reaches 47 million people, congregations are supplying health education and direct health care services. Many are advocating on behalf of public policy issues related to health care.

According to the survey, about 70 percent of responding churches provide direct health services, with 65 percent offering health education programs within their community. The survey defines direct services as provision of medical care to individuals by trained health care professionals.

“It is not surprising to find that churches see health care as a part of their faith mission and mandate,” said Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, deputy general secretary of the NCC for Research and Planning, who supervised the survey. “The results of this survey confirm a higher energy for health care than we might have thought, however, and show that effective health care ministries are being developed by congregations of all sizes to meet the urgent needs of their communities.”

NCC leaders say that results of the survey will provide important information for denominational structures, ecumenical agencies, health officials and national policy makers.

“With our national health care system cracked and breaking, this survey shows that churches across the country are doing their best to fill the gaps,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Faith communities have a long and important tradition of providing health services to the most vulnerable in our nation. Now that one in seven Americans has no insurance, and therefore has difficulty accessing needed health care, the work of our churches has never been more important. The bottom line, however, is that they cannot shoulder this burden alone. The health care crisis is a national problem that needs national, bipartisan solutions.”

The survey released today found that:

Reporting congregations each have an average of 13.07 health-related activities. The sample of 6,037 responding congregations reported a staggering total of 78,907 health ministry programs.
Nearly 300 African American congregations responded to the survey, reporting the same creativity and variety of health care ministries as the total sample.
Most reporting congregations provided health care ministries to members and non-members alike.
The results indicate that 51 percent of responding congregations offer direct financial support to individuals who need help paying their medical bills.
o Public policy advocacy was provided by 35 percent of the reporting congregations. Advocacy is accomplished through preaching, group discussions, voter education, communications with government and health care providers and other activities.

Direct services reported include counseling, 12-Step Programs, emergency medical funding, mental health counseling, and even the professional support of a parish nurse or health minister.
Education programs include providing information on the prevention of disease, maintaining the health of senior citizens, medical programs, and ways to overcome diseases ranging from obesity to HIV/AIDS.
“Local congregations are demonstrating that the volume and scope of health care needs are enormous. They have shown an incredible ability to leverage health care services in extremely creative, innovative and cost-effective ways,” said Rev. Lindner. “They know their communities and they respond to their specific needs.”

The full survey report can be accessed online here.

Key findings


The National Council of Churches USA is the ecumenical voice of 35 of America's Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and traditional peace churches. Those member communions represent 45 million faithful Christians in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states. See also

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. The Foundation is the sponsor of Cover the Uninsured, the largest mobilization in history to create awareness of the need for action on the issue of the uninsured. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit

Iraqi War Deaths: Week of Sept 9-15th

Those who died in Iraq from Sep 9 to 15:

Cpl Javier Paredes 24 San Antonio TX
Cpl Lance Clark 21 Cookeville TN
Sgt Courtney Hollinsworth 26 Yonkers NY
Sgt Alexander Gagalac 28 Wahiawa HI
Pvt Sammie Phillips 19 Cecilia KY
Sgt Omar Mora 28 Texas City TX
Sgt Yance Gray 26 Ismay MT

Spc Steven Elrod 20 Hope Mills NC
Spc Ari Brown-Weeks 23 Abingdon MD
Sgt Nicholas Patterson 24 Rochester IN
Sgt Michael Hardegree 21 Villa Rica GA
Sgt Gregory Rivera-Santiago 26 StCroix VI
Cpl Carlos Gil Orozko 23 San Jose CA
Cpl Jon Hicks Jr 20 Atco NJ
Pvt Christopher McCloud 24 Malakoff TX
Spc Jonathan Rivadeneira 22 Jackson Hts NY
Spc Todd Motley 23 Clare MI
Sgt Terry Wagoner 28 Piedmont SC
Sgt John Mele 25 Bunnell FL
Cpl Terrence Allen 21 Pennsauken NJ

36 were seriously wounded and maimed.
45 were returned to occupation.

287+ Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Boyd Death Sentence Commuted

Governor Commutes the Death Sentence of Michael Joe Boyd

Today in a surprise move, Governor Phil Bredesen commuted the death sentence of Michael Joe Boyd, now Mika’eel Abdullah Abdus-Samad, to life without the possibility of parole. Boyd was scheduled to be executed on October 24, 2007. This announcement comes only two days after the execution of Daryl Holton. Though Boyd’s death sentence was upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1998 when they dismissed claims of ineffective counsel, Bredesen acknowledged in his order that the claims of ineffective counsel during Boyd’s sentencing have never been comprehensively reviewed.

Boyd was convicted in 1988 for the murder of William Price during an armed robbery in Memphis. Boyd claimed that he never meant to kill Price but was convicted of felony murder and given the death sentence.

Boyd’s case highlights the substantial problems concerning indigent defense in Tennessee and the lack of adequate representation for those charged with capital crimes. The issue of ineffective assistance of counsel is one of the major issues the legislative study committee on the death penalty is charged with addressing as it begins its work this fall. TCASK is grateful that the Governor acted with openness and fairness in acknowledging the problems with Boyd’s sentence and addressing them. Read the story HERE.

E.J. Harbison, scheduled to die on Sept. 26, is still awaiting a judge’s ruling in his challenge to the constitutionality of lethal injection. A ruling should be made by early next week. Depending on the outcome of that hearing, the Governor may be faced with making another decision on Harbison’s behalf.
The Harbison case is as problematic as the Boyd case, if not more so. Harbison had no prior criminal record and was given the death penalty for a bungled robbery where an elderly woman was hit with a vase. Though tragic, this murder was hardly premeditated nor “the worst of the worst.”

In the Harbison case, police records first requested before trial by the defense, were not turned over to Harbison until 1997, 14 years after they were requested. In the police file, counsel discovered that an eyewitness placed David Schreane, Harbison’s co-defendant, across the street from the victim’s house near the time of the crime and did not identify Harbison as the man with Schreane. Schreane, himself, first told police a different person was with him. Yet Schreane served only six years, while Harbison faces a death sentence.

The police file shows substantial involvement by another man, Ray Harrison, who was seen near the victim’s house around the time the crime was committed. Harbison’s direct appeal attorney also represented Ray Harrison concerning this crime, presenting an obvious conflict of interest. The police extradited Harrison to Florida when Schreane implicated Harbison.

If the courts do not grant Haribson relief, the Governor will be called upon again to give E.J. Harbison the same fair consideration which he demonstrated today in his decision in the Boyd case—fairness that should be of the utmost priority in every capital case. Click here to learn more about E.J. Harbison's case.

Greens to Join National Protests

WASHINGTON, DC -- Greens will use their presence in various antiwar
demonstrations and other events throughout September and October to
press the Green Party's demand for immediate withdrawal of US troops
from Iraq. In Tennessee, Greens and other peace activists will be
joining the caravan to DC for the big antiwar rally on Friday,
Sept 14th leaving from Nashville. For more information please
call Chris Lugo at 615-593-0304.

Green Party activists will also use their presence in actions
organized by the ANSWER Coalition (September 15,
) and United For Peace & Justice
(National Mobilization to End the War in Iraq, October 27,
) to stress that
the Iraq War and other disastrous Bush Administrations policies are
the result of bipartisan support.

"The greatest danger to the peace movement is that organizations and
voters who oppose the war are being fooled into seeing the election of
Democrats as a step towards peace, stability, and the observance of
human rights in the Middle East," said Deanna Taylor, co-chair of the
Green Party's Peace Action Committee (GPAX)
. "It wasn't just a scheme by
neocon radicals in the Bush Administration. The Iraq War has been a
bipartisan project from the beginning."

"Democratic Congress members joined Republicans in support of the
invasion of Iraq and transfer of constitutional war powers to the
White House. Now that they're in control of Congress, Democratic
leaders are squandering their power," SAME PERSON added.

Green Party leaders listed major points of concern that they intend to
address by participating the antiwar protests:

• The growing likelihood of a US attack on Iran, and willingness of
leading Democrats, especially presidential candidates, to support a
strike. Greens warn that a US attack on Iran is now the gravest
threat to world peace.

• A massive media propaganda blitz by the White House, including a
planned address by President Bush this week, to persuade Americans
that the troop surge is succeeding, timed to coincide with General
Petraeus's final report, despite high Iraqi civilian casualties,
continuing US troop casualties and low morale, and other indications
that the situation in Iraq is worsening

• The refusal of Democratic leaders to demand immediate withdrawal of
US troops from Iraq or to cut off funding for the war
; concerns that Democrats
will retreat further on opposition to war in the face of the
above-mentioned Bush propaganda effort.

• The refusal of Democratic leaders to seek impeachment of President
Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous abuses of power,
violations of the US Constitution and international law, war crimes,
and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Greens have called
impeachment a necessary step in the effort to recall troops and end
the war.

• Continued capitulation by both Republican and Democratic members of
Congress to the demands of the pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC, powerful
rightwing Christian groups); lack of discussion about Israel's abuses
of Palestinian human rights and violations of international law and UN
directives; lack of debate on the role of Israel and the pro-Israel
lobby in the decision to invade Iraq and current plans to attack Iran.

• Current US pressure, with bipartisan support, on the Iraqi
Parliament to pass the hydrocarbon law, which will place Iraqi oil
under the control of US and UK corporations and require prolonged US
military presence in Iraq to protect US & UK investments. Greens
have supported demands of Iraqi workers that the law be rejected and
that Iraqi oil remain under Iraqi control

Green leaders are urging US voters to support the Green Party's 'Peace
Slate' in the 2008 election. "If Green candidates get strong
percentages in races for Congress and the White House -- or even
better, a seat or two in the US House, it'll terrify the Democrats
into supporting a quick end to the Iraq War," said Jim Coplen,
co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Greens warned Americans that the Bush Administration has spread
disinformation about Iran's role in arming factions in the Iraqi civil
war and about Iran's nuclear capabilities, and has greatly exaggerated
al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq

"We're especially concerned that the Bush Administration may exploit
-- perhaps even fabricate -- a possible terrorist incident in the
coming months to intimidate Americans and sway the outcome of the 2008
election. After seven years of deception, attempts to thwart
investigate into the 9/11 attacks, and disregard for law, the Bush
Administration should have zero credibility among the media and the
public," said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party.

New Website Dedicated to a Greener Nashville

Moses Maxen is putting together a local environmental website called, the goal being to help the green community to connect with each other and with local green organizations (non profits and for profits) to help create a Greener Nashville. So far, I-Design (a local Design Company with a very green orientation) has helped to build a beautiful site, but it doesn’t stop there. Right now the site is pretty bare bones and needs content to get off the ground. Listed below are a few things that he will be needing in the very near future (or now!!!):

Any local (Nashville/Tennessee) green news articles/Press Releases, links or print copy.
Any local green events, dates/time/directions etc
Green organizations, contact info
Green/Sustainable Companies
Soon we will add a public forum for Nashville folks to talk about local green issues/topics. Please visit regularly and participate.

Please email any of this info, as well as suggestions for the site to Also, soon they will be getting ready for a GreenerNashville launch party that will have lots of food and drinks all from local growers, restaurants and brewers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Commentary: The Fourth Estate Snoozes

by Martin Holsinger

My friend Bernie is making trouble again. No, he’s not having to be a marijuana martyr, thank goodness. The DOJ appears to be too tied up in knots over Mr. Gonzalez’ departure to trifle with small change like Bernie at this point, especially since it’s starting to emerge that their prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was directed by Karl Rove. Siegelman was taken from the courtroom in chains and is being kept in prison pending his appeal, which is highly unusual in political bribery cases. Both these directives came from the benches of Bush-appointed judges, and the whole thing appears to be a politically motivated slapdown of an up-and-coming Democratic politician, especially since the DOJ ignored much larger illegal contributions to Alabama Republicans. Gee, I thought they only jailed opposition politicians in dictatorships…..but, I digress.

Bernie, although deprived of his right to vote due to his marijuana conviction, is working to make sure that those of us who can vote get our votes counted right. To this end, he wrote the following letter to the Nashville Tennessean on August 20, which I will take the liberty of quoting in its entirety, because it’s so well written. Apparently, Nashville’s newspaper of record had been asking its readers for story ideas. Here’s Bernie’s letter:

Mr. Silverman,

All of us appreciate your willingness to solicit comments and suggestions from your readership regarding issues of government improprieties, inefficiencies and insufferable ignorance that require immediate remedies. I am writing to reiterate a concern that many of us have written the Tennessean about for the past 2+ years, a concern that has only deepened in that time. The concern has to do with the inordinate influence over our election officials that electronic voting machine vendors hold and (most likely as a result) why the national concerns over the sanctity and security of our voting systems have obtained no traction here with our TN officials. Again, this is certainly not a new issue but it is one that is heating up nationally and placing Tennessee in the worst possible light. We need relief and your paper’s attention to the relationship between vendors and our election officials is one way to pursue that relief.

Here are some of our concerns:

1) Brook Thompson, the TN State Election Coordinator, is the only state election official serving on the Board of Directors of the Election Center, a group founded with start-up funding by the voting machine companies which continues to promote nonverifiable voting systems that are now being rejected nationally. As other states have returned to more verifiable voting systems and/or have initiated ethics requirements for their public officials, those states’ officials have either voluntarily severed their involvement with the Election Center or have been forced to do so. Not so with Tennessee. Indeed, Mr. Thompson requires that our county election officials attend an indoctrination session run by the Election Center as part of their certification process and he has invited R. Doug Lewis, the Election Center director, to speak at many meetings of the TN Association of County Election Officials (TACEO).

2) TACEO itself deserves serious investigation. This organization is ostensibly composed of county and state election officials, but it also includes members from the voting machine companies, has its meetings heavily underwritten by those vendors and generally discourages citizens from attending their meetings where entirely public business (the business of administering our elections) is discussed. When a group of us asked to attend the TACEO meeting in Memphis two years ago, we had to pay over $2,500 to attend. While there, we witnessed the vendors wining and dining our election officials shamelessly, and we heard (from the podium) statements that these officials could accept anything the vendors had to offer re: gifts without violating state ethics rules since these county election officials are appointed and not elected.

3) As I mentioned in the heading to this message, Tennessee is now considered to be one of the eight states whose elections are most insecure and most unverifiable as a result of the decisions (heavily pushed by Brook Thompson) to invest the $25 million in federal HAVA (Help America Vote Act) funds that Tennessee received for touch-screen machines without any sort of paper record of the votes cast. At present, 93 of Tennessee’s 95 counties use nonverifiable touch-screen machines. In the 2006 election, our group documented problems in about one in every six TN counties related to this equipment.

However, a current effort by the U.S. Congress to amend HAVA to require voter-verified paper ballots — an effort that would provide federal funds for TN to correct our serious mistakes in judgment the first time around — is being aggressively opposed by Brook Thompson and his boss, Riley Darnell (as they also oppose bills in our own state legislature to require voter-verified paper ballots). If TN is considered nationally to be one of the eight worst states for voting security AND the feds are willing to give us money to correct our mistakes, why on earth would our state election officials oppose that? (The reason they say they oppose this effort — that there would not be enough time for our counties to purchase new equipment before the 2008 election — is patent nonsense since these same officials gave our counties less time to purchase equipment in 2006 with HAVA funds than is still available before the 2008 elections, a delay in 2006 that we think helped support the push to encourage purchases of nonverifiable voting equipment.)

While our election officials continue to stone-wall any remediation of the serious errors which they are responsible for creating, what new evidence has emerged to support the Tennessean taking on this battle alongside the scores of TN voters concerned about the safety of our franchise? Here are a few things you should know about:

1) A recent analysis by computer scientists at Florida State University of the ES&S iVotronic voting equipment has revealed a serious security problem that would allow a single person to introduce a virus that would change the outcome of elections conducted with this equipment. Seventeen TN counties (including Davidson) use this ES&S equipment, but we have been unable to get our local and state officials to pursue any action to remedy this security issue.

2.The California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, has recently de-certified all nonverifiable voting equipment in that state and has imposed a series of stringent requirements that must be put into place before this equipment can be considered for re-certification.

3) A review of the business practices and ethics of voting machine companies conducted by the state of New York has determined that these companies lack the basic business performance track record and professional ethics required to do business with that state. Consequently, New York has opted to continue with its existing voting systems rather than use federal HAVA funds that would coerce them to do business with voting machine companies which do not meet that state’s standards.

4) As a result of the California action, the Attorney General of the State of Kentucky has ordered that our neighboring state’s decision to purchase nonverifiable voting systems be re-examined and he is considering bringing legal action against those companies.

5) At least two California counties are now considering action to demand their money back from the voting machine companies because of false and misleading representations of that equipment.

6) Finally, when Davidson County decided to purchase the ES&S iVotronic equipment, our county election commission was assured that this equipment was made in America. A recent investigative report by Dan Rather showed that this equipment is manufactured in the Philippines and that the primary quality control method used there was to shake the equipment to see if any loose screws could be detected bouncing around inside the equipment.

SO, what should the Tennessean do from here? Our first suggestion would be to send a reporter to tomorrow’s monthly meeting of the State Election Commission. We will be there to discuss all of the issues listed above and we think that you will learn a great deal about why we are in the precarious position we are in by observing the actions of this commission. We would also be happy to discuss our concerns with your reporter after tomorrow’s meeting or at any time that is convenient for you.

These issues continue to illustrate the most important concerns we have for the sanctity and security of how our state–how our nation–transfers the “consent of the governed” through elections to create the legitimate underpinnings for all our governmental systems. Continuing to allow our state’s election officials to both share a bed with the voting machine companies and to dictate how we should conduct our elections from that cozy platform is a recipe for disaster.

We sincerely hope that the Tennessean will take this issue on. There is more than enough “dirt” to fill any investigative series that you decide to pursue. Thank you for your attention.

Bernie Ellis

Well, gee, he just about wrote a series for the reporter, didn’t he? What kind of response did he get? Zip. No reply, no reporter at the state election commission meeting, Guess it just didn’t have that multiracial, feel-good thang that Gannett believes sells papers. But hey, Bernie, citing Dan Rather? Everybody knows he’s been discredited. Just like Don Siegelman. And you. Good job, Karl!

The meeting, held in the absence of the Dark Lords Brook Thompson and Riley Darnell, actually went pretty well, Bernie tells me. He’s not the only one concerned about the accuracy of our voting procedures. But, without the Tennessean there, it was all under the public radar. So, Bernie wrote another letter, and here it is:

Dear Mr. Silverman,
I sent (you a letter) almost two weeks ago, and have received no response. Since sending you this memo, more states (Colorado, Ohio and others) have put a halt on any purchases of new voting equipment and are demanding answers from the voting machine vendors about the security and verifiability of their equipment. Meantime, we here in Tennessee sit under shade trees and spit watermelon seeds at our bare feet. Ah yes, ignorance (nurtured by a quiescent media) is surely bliss. Until it isn’t.

We continue to meet with state legislators working to pass a bill requiring a voter-verified paper ballot in Tennessee, and they say that media attention to this issue would be very helpful. They are embarrassed that TN is considered to be one of the eight stupidest states in the US for squandering over $25 million in HAVA funds for nonverifiable touch-screen machines made in the Phillippines and “inspected” by shaking the equipment vigorously to hear if there are any loose screws inside. I keep reassuring the legislators that TN still does have a functioning media. Am I right or just suffering from nostalgia for the country (and the Fourth Estate)I once knew and loved?

That’s for you to know and the rest of us to find out. Soon, I hope. Please respond to this second mailing, one way or the other. Bernie Ellis, Organizer, Gathering To Save Our Democracy

And what did Bernie get back from this plea? I will quote you Mr. Silverman’s response in its entirety:
“We will take a look at the issues you raise in the email. Thanks”

What enthusiasm, eh? Leads me to suspect that if one were to shake the Tennessean vigorously, or even Mr. Silverman himself, one might hear the sound of quite a few loose screws. Or maybe he was just being terse, like Ernest Hemingway. I’m waiting to find out. But I’m not holding my breath.

Rally for the Jenna 6

There will be a rally at The Village Church, 211 N. 11th Ave, Nashville TN. at 6:30pm on Thursday September the 13th to inform people further about the Jena situation and to raise money for the trip. A coalition of factions organized under The Citizens Against The Criminalization of People of Color are working to plan and finance a mass contingent bus trip to be in Jena Louisiana for the Rally on September 20th, Mychael Bell’s sentencing day.


Here’s the info on how to join the pilgrimage to Jena:



What is happening to the “The Jena 6” is an extreme case, but the criminal justice system has long targeted People of Color. The facts speak for themselves:
775,000 African American Men are in Federal & State Prisons
600,000 are in Colleges and Universities
25% more African American males are in jail than in college.


September 19, 2007
5:00 pm Rally in Support of the Riders leaving for Jena, LA.
6:00 pm Buses will leave on September 19, 2007, from the Gentry Center on TSU’s campus.
8:00 am Rally and March in Jena, Louisiana
2:00 pm Leave Jena, LA returning to Nashville

We Have to Support the JENA 6

There will be a rally at The Village Church, 211 N. 11th Ave, Nashville TN. at 6:30pm on Thursday September the 13th to inform people further about the Jena situation and to raise money for the trip.

Money is being raised to make the trip free if possible, or at minimal cost.

To register to go to Jena on September 20th, call ‘Citizens’ at 615-469-5220

To donate money, click the paypal “Donate” button at the top of the page; or if you do not want to donate on line, you can mail in or drop off your donations at Citizens Bank, 2013 Jefferson St, Nashville, TN 37208-2909 - Phone: (615) 327-9787 - Paid to the order of ‘The Jena 6 Fund’.

If you have any problems or questions also call 615-496-5220.

For media request and info, you can call me as NBCC’s PR Director at 615-478-5204.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vigils Tuesday Night for Dayrl Holt

Vigils for Daryl Holton Taking Place Across Tennessee

TCASK chapters across the state will be holding vigils on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007 on the eve of Daryl Holton's execution. Please plan to attend one of these vigils to publicly express your opposition to this execution and to ask our state to stop killing people in our name. Please contact the TCASK state office or the vigil contacts for any questions regarding the vigils.

7:00 p.m.
Service at Second Presbyterian Church, 3511 Belmont Blvd., 37215, led by Rev. Stacy Rector and Rev. Jim Kitchens and music from Tom Kimmel and Michael Kelsh.

9:00 p.m.
Vigil at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution
Contact: TCASK office, (615) 256-3906 or Isaac Kimes, (615) 521-9985 - cell


7:00 p.m.
A candle light vigil will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Conger Park in
Jackson. Attendees are asked to meet at Jackson-Madison County General Hopital
on Skyline Dr. at 7 p.m. and walk to the park.
Contact: Cheryl Fisher, (731) 217-9640

8:00 p.m.
Prayerful gathering and vigil at the steps of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception,
1695 Central Avenue. The vigil will continue until the time of execution or until a stay is granted.
Contact: Peter Gathje, (901) 272-0509

When serving in the military, Daryl Holton spent a month in a psychiatric hospital. Diagnosed with severe depression, Holton has a long history of suicide attempts. In 1997, in a delusional state, he killed his four children believing that their lives would be ruined by growing up in a broken home. He intended to kill his ex-wife and himself, as well, but stopped when he realized that there would be no one left to tell his side of the story. His trial attorney suffered a family crisis just before the trial began, and Daryl Holton defended himself for the most part, selecting the jurors and deciding what questions to ask witnesses. One can only guess what his strategy of defense was. Holton has waived his appeals, dismissed his lawyers, and chosen the electric chair as his method of execution. He refuses virtually all human contact. Yet, the state contends that he is competent to make legal decisions and be executed.

Both the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Psychological Association oppose executing people with mental illness. Daryl Holton’s execution will only serve to inflict more pain and suffering on his family and to perpetuate the cycle of violence. Homicide rates are 48-101% higher in states that practice capital punishment, and in the immediate aftermath of an execution, homicide rates increase in the venue where the execution occurred.

From 1960 to mid 2006, Tennessee executed only one person. In the past fourteen months, two individuals were executed, with four more executions pending. What this says about our culture and lesson it teaches is cause for grave concern. If Daryl
Holt is executed Wednesday morning it will reflect a new low in Tennessee. Call the
Governor and tell him not to execute the mentally ill before it is to late.

Iraqi War Deaths: Week of Sept 2nd - 8th

Those who died in Iraq from Sep 2 to 8:

Sgt Kevin Gilbertson 24 Cedar Rapids IA
Spc Christopher Patton 21 Lawrenceville GA
Sgt Delmar White 37 Wallins KY
Pvt Randol Shelton 22 Schiller Park IL
Spc David Lane 20 Emporia KS
Sgt Joel Murray 26 Kansas City MO
Spc Rodney Johnson 20 Houston TX
Spc Keith Nurnberg 26 McHenry IL
Pvt Dane Balcon 19 Colorado Springs CO
Cpl William Warford 24 Temple TX

Sgt David Cooper Jr 36 State College PA
Sgt Eddie Collins England
Sgt Michael Yarbrough 24 Malvern AR
Sgt John Stock 26 Longview TX
Cpl Brian Scripsick 22 Wayne OK
Cpl Christopher Poole Jr 22 Mount Dora FL
Sgt Lee Wilson 30 Chapel Hill NC
Spc Jason Hernandez 21 Streetsboro OH
Spc Thomas Hilbert 20 Venus TX
Cap Drew Jensen 27 Clackamas CA
Spc Marisol Heredia 19 El Monte CA
Cpl Ryan Woodward 22 Fort Wayne IN

47 were seriously wounded and maimed.
58 wounded were returned to occupation.

256 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.


The Next Attack Is Coming

Six Years After 9/11
by David Rovics

My friend Robert woke me up from my slumber at his cabin next to the Hoosier National Forest. “They’re saying we’re under attack.” I came inside and listened to NPR with him. At this point they weren’t sure whether it was military or commercial planes involved. My immediate thought was, there’s no country’s leadership in the world who’d do this, no leader wants to attack the US on US soil and risk having their own nation annihilated by US retaliation. Then the second plane hit, and they were confirming that these were, in fact, commercial planes that had been hijacked.

At that point, like so many others in the US and around the world who had not been living in a cave for the past century, my next thought was, why did it take them so long? For the past several decades the CIA had been overthrowing democracies in the Muslim world and installing and supporting vicious dictatorships. The US government had been supporting every Israeli aggression against it’s neighbors, and throughout the 1990’s had imposed – with the collaboration of the UN security council – genocidal sanctions on the people of Iraq which had been directly responsible for the deaths of half a million children, according to UNICEF. Under Clinton as well as Bush, the US Air Force had been bombing Iraq on a weekly basis since the invasion of 1990-91.

It seemed obvious that it was only a matter of time before someone decided that the indiscriminate slaughter of Arab civilians by the US should be avenged by another act of indiscriminate slaughter. And given that the targets appeared to be the symbolic centers of US political, military and economic might, this slaughter was actually far from indiscriminate! Every few months I find myself driving down I-95 in Connecticut, passing the sign on the highway marking the exit for a monument to the dead from 9/11 – in Fairfield, the town that was home to the largest number of the dead from the World Trade Center. Fairfield, one of the richest towns in the US, one of the richest towns in the world, in one of the richest counties in the US, Fairfield County, home also to the wealthy suburb of Wilton, where I grew up among the children of the business executives who took the train every morning to New York City to go to work in places like the World Trade Center.

I thought about these Republicans who I knew well, these businessmen with their messianic belief in neoliberal economics and the idea that the US is a force for good in the world, ignoring all the evidence to the contrary. I thought about their children, living in their blissfully ignorant suburban fantasy worlds, some of whom would suddenly discover that there was a world out there, and it had reached into New York and taken their fathers from them. I thought about the daycare center at the federal building in Oklahoma City, and wondered whether the World Trade Center had a daycare center in it, too. I thought about all the temp workers who could have been doing data entry for some nasty corporation in one of those buildings that day. It could easily have been me instead of them, had it been Boston in 1991 instead of New York City ten years later.

At the same moment I thought about my friends from the Muslim world, and their families in the US and abroad. I wondered whether crazed American mobs would burn down Dearborn, Michigan. I wondered how many mosques would be firebombed. I wondered whether Bush would decide to use nuclear weapons against the beautiful cities of West Asia, in some kind of unimaginable escalation of the slaughter. I was happy to note, over the days and months following, that some of the worst-case scenarios that played out in my imagination did not materialize. The lynch mobs did not take to the streets, and for the time being, the ICBM’s stayed in their silos.

I knew, of course, that my government would use these attacks to further their goals of world domination. I knew, as any leftwinger with their eyes open knew, that the US government would use this as an opportunity to jump-start Daddy Bush’s “New World Order” and the Monroe Doctrine from whence it sprang. I knew they would find a way to blame governments for the crimes of nongovernmental organizations. I was not surprised that our support for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would not wane, while blame would be placed where it was most convenient for the neocons and neoliberals – against any regime that refuses to roll over on command from the State Department.

And my other thought in those first few minutes after the second plane hit the towers was, there goes the global justice movement.

I heard the confused, patriotic journalist on NPR trying to make sense of the situation. “Yesterday they were protesting the World Trade Organization, and today they’re attacking the World Trade Center.” That was it. This would be their line. Before Bush’s speechwriters could come up with the line, “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists,” someone on NPR had made the point in their own, slightly more subtle way. There is no clear distinction between those who want to undermine the US empire through killing thousands of people, and those who sought to change government policies through peaceful protest. Certainly there was now to be no distinction between those who would kill thousands of people, and those who would engage in protest actions involving property destruction or, God forbid, these terroristic college students who would dare throw the tear gas cannisters back at the police when they landed in their midst. While this behavior was never tolerated, it would now be considered as the moral equivalent of Osama bin Ladin.

I knew when I heard those words on NPR that this mostly young movement, these activists that the pundits had incorrectly dubbed “anti-globalization,” would be unprepared to deal with this new challenge. The movement was under constant, coordinated attack by the powers-that-be with surveillance, infiltration, and massive police brutality as a matter of course in dealing with peaceful civil disobedience. The movement was involved with a big internal dispute over tactics and how to relate to the Black Block. But the movement was growing, had plenty of vision and analysis, and was promoting ideas that were gaining increasing popularity.

Along with so many others around the world with their eyes open, I was living within an historical moment that could have gone in many different directions. A window had opened that was dramatically changing the composition of the air in the room, but now this window would begin to close, as quickly as it had been blown open only two short years before.

We on the left are always waiting, organizing, arguing, or some combination thereof, trying to determine what will be the next spark that will set off the next powder keg. We exist in the knowledge that the class divide, the race divide, the impending environmental holocaust, the growing disparity of wealth in the world are untenable, unsustainable. We exist in the knowledge that these things cause stresses in society that can go in many different directions, but that generally, oppression will breed resistance of one kind or another.

We are always hoping that this resistance will be a sensible sort of resistance that can lead to a better world – not white power but people’s power, not survivalism but cooperatives, not nationalism but internationalism, not religious war but class war, not authoritarianism and fascism but real democracy and socialism. But we know that these stresses in society are volatile, and can lead to many different kinds of developments. We’re all trying, in one way or another, to figure out how to bring things forward. Organizations come into existence, rise and fall based on whether they seem to know how to bring things forward or not.

The efforts of the many different groups around the US struggling for real democracy – economic democracy – bore fruit and managed to bring to birth a vital, youthful social movement in the streets of Seattle in November, 1999, that used mass nonviolent civil disobedience in a way it had not been used in the US in several decades. The WTO meetings were shut down. Around the US and around the world, people took notice, people were inspired, and the ripple effects rapidly spread across the globe.

Billions of people around the world who had been fighting the dictates of the US elite and the institutions doing it’s bidding – the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, the free trade deals, NAFTA, GATT, these arrangements that were so destructive to the working people of both the Third World and the US itself, so destructive to real democracy, to the environment, to the idea that the people of a country, not a country’s billionaires, should be controlling their collective destiny – these billions of people had been wondering, where are the Americans in this equation? Do they not realize that they’re also being screwed? Do they not have a conscience, do they not care about the rest of the world at all? And then, after so long, they received an answer. There was a stirring in the belly of the beast.

Union leaders, their unions shrinking down to the point where they only represented 5% of the private sector, had finally begun to realize that nationalism was not the answer, that internationalism was. And people, young and old, who cared about the state of the environment, the welfare of the poor and homeless, the prosperity of the people of Mexico or Peru, the ability of the women of the world to have control over their own lives, people who cared about the very idea of to whom does this green earth rightfully belong, people who didn’t want to see their schools, hospitals and infrastructure privatized -- people came together, in large numbers, realizing that what we needed more than anything was economic democracy. People began to realize that the vital argument was between the idea of the commons and rights of living things and the idea of the sanctity of greed obscene profits.

There in the streets of Seattle, and later in the streets of many other cities in the US and around the world, was a crystalization of the battle for the hearts and minds of the people of the world.

On one side was the government and it’s servile corporate (and “public”) media, spreading disinformation, focusing on the few involved with trashing, ignoring or distorting the actions of the many involved with civil disobedience, giving the likes of Milton Friedman complete access to the newspapers and TV stations to make their case for these trade deals while almost completely censoring the voices of the global justice movement.

On one side was all the power of the state and the repressive arm of the executive branch – the police chiefs like Patrick Timoney and their lackeys, their brutality, arbitrary arrests, raids and detention, their increased border security, turning away activists in trying to cross borders in any direction, their infiltration of groups, their many provocateurs, their armored vehicles, their threats of deadly force, their fleets of helicopters, their unlimited supplies of tear gas, their unlimited budgets.

On the other side were grassroots organizations like Indymedia, the Direct Action Network, Food Not Bombs, nonprofit groups like Global Exchange and 50 Years Is Enough, unions like the Longshoremen, lots of college students and other concerned citizens from all over the place.

And the ranks were growing. Of course there were (and are) the luminaries like Subcommandante Marcos, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, connecting the historical dots, making the links between US economic, military, foreign and domestic policies. But largely it was a young, inexperienced movement, well-informed about US economic policies but often relatively uninformed about the history of other social movements, past repression against them, or of the history of US military adventures around the world -- faced with a massive, well-coordinated campaign of disinformation and repression. But still it was growing, and the air was filled with optimism and possibility.

There were small and large protests happening everywhere, even a full-time protest-hopper like myself couldn’t get to half of them. Grassroots organizations were constantly being formed. Bands of hardworking activists were burning the candle at both ends everywhere, working hard, taking advantage of what was clearly a historical opportunity to win the confidence of the majority of the people. Through words and actions to spread the idea that real, economic democracy belonged to the people, that 90% of us had common interests, that the elite were screwing all of us, that we could change this situation.

I remember talking with a friend who was tirelessly working throughout the summer of 2001 to organize the next round of protests against the IMF and World Bank’s upcoming meetings in Washington, DC. After much debate and wrangling over the Black Block and other issues, the unions were coming down on the side of civil disobedience to a degree not seen in half a century. Tens of thousands of union workers and tens of thousands of other people from throughout society were preparing to shut down Washington, DC, to shut down the meetings of these elitist, anti-democratic institutions that had led to such misery around the world, that were so intent on causing so much more. My friend and other organizers were convinced that this protest was going to be much bigger than Seattle. There were rumors that the IMF and World Bank were thinking of cancelling this round of meetings, and coming up with an excuse that would attempt to hide the fact that they were cancelling them out of fear of the power of this growing movement.

In the end, they didn’t need to fabricate an excuse. The World Trade Center was destroyed, the IMF and World Bank cancelled their meetings, the unions cancelled their role in the upcoming protests, and we had a small conference instead of a large action. Even at that conference, the seeds of what would become the antiwar movement were being formed, while at the same time the feeling that this historic window that had been opened in the struggle for economic democracy was being slammed shut.

Over the next few months thousands of Afghan civilians would be killed by our Air Force, the country occupied, Osama nowhere to be found. Within two years, Iraq would be occupied, with the most sweeping agenda of economic privatization ever imposed on a country being put into place, causing unbelievable suffering to the people of the region, on top of the constant massacres being carried out by our military and by the civil war the occupation has provoked.

The movement for economic democracy that was, in part, emboldened by the protests in Seattle has continued to grow around the world. The forces of economic democracy have risen up and taken power in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and elsewhere, and have, predictably, been denounced thoroughly by the forces of plutocracy in Washington. The size and scope of the global justice movement in Europe, Korea and elsewhere has continued to grow. And just as they did before, US citizens are actively supporting these movements around the world, actively organizing protests, writing press releases, building latrines, singing songs and doing the work of movement-building alongside their global comrades.

But in the US, for now, the movement is “submerged,” that’s one word I’ve heard used. Of course there are always good people organizing all sorts of things as always. Large antiwar protests are being planned for this month and next month all over the country. Many people are getting more active around climate change and the lack of any positive initiative being taken by the powers that be. People in Colorado and Minnesota are organizing civil society’s response to the conventions of our two elite parties in this electoral cycle. Activists do the work they do as always, organizing, writing, teaching, running local Peace & Justice Centers, having weekly vigils, feeding the homeless, and so many other things.

But the IMF, World Bank and other such institutions have their meetings largely unopposed in the US these days.

A score for the forces of world domination, the forces of the rich and powerful, for whom 9/11 was a wet dream, a gift, a way out of the ideological battle they were losing, a way to avoid losing the consent of the governed in their neoliberal policies, a way to divert attention from the massive scandals at Enron, Worldcom, Xerox, a way to make someone like Bush look “presidential,” a sacrifice well worth making to allow them to further their sick agenda of “full spectrum dominance.”

But once again, their facade is crumbling. Support for Bush and the Democrat-controlled Congress are at all-time lows, CNN and Newsweek have to admit it, grudgingly, sporadically. The movement is submerged, but the bulk of the people of the US are more cynical than ever. It seems to me that something else is going to happen. Every self-respecting leftist would like to know exactly what form it will take, but nobody seems to know for sure. What’s sure is that as long as there is inequity there will be resistance. As long as people keep their humanity, they will want to show their solidarity with their brethren around the world.

The only thing that can temporarily muzzle this spirit is the maintenance of the idea that “the other” is not like us, he is bearded, angry, evil. The powers-that-be can maintain this idea through propaganda, and they can maintain this idea by killing enough innocents so that the next Mohammed Atta is a matter of inevitability.

And ultimately they can maintain this illusion best if the next attack comes soon.
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Tullahoma Peace Vigil

Tullahoma, TN: The 2nd Thursday Peace Vigil, sponsored by the Highland Rim Peace and Justice Council, will be held Thursday Sept.13th at 4:30 pm on the corner of Wilson Avenue and North Jackson in Tullahoma. More than forty people participated in the first Tullahoma vigil on August 28, including community members from Sewanee and Winchester. Members of the Highland Rim group have supported the CCJP Third Friday vigils from the start. Let's turn out in solidarity to call for an end to the war. Together we will change the world.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Homeless Out to Vote

Last Friday, Former Vice Mayor Gentry announced “the homeless have had an impact in the election this year and we expect them to do it again on Tuesday.” The Nashville Homeless Power Project will have 3 vans and 2 cars crisscrossing the city throughout election day to find homeless people and bring them to the polls to vote. John Zirker, Power Project President Shares: “We don’t tell our members who to vote for but we provide the opportunities, the voter education that will help them decide. Many of our members were at the three different Mayoral Candidate Forums that we hosted or have heard about the results from other homeless people on the street. Our message to the next Mayor is that not only do we count, but we vote.”
Meanwhile, the issue of homelessness has been brought to the forefront during other Mayoral Candidates Forums as well. Among those also addressing homelessness were
Urban League’s Young Black Professionals Forum,Village Church’s Forum held on Sunday, September 9th, 2007 and the Channel 5 Mayoral Candidates Forum.