World Wide Work - November 2009
This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.
WORLD WIDE WORK
Need a good quote to motivate others to make their voices heard on health care reform?
Here's what Andy Davidson, president and chief executive officer of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, told the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce meeting on October 5, 2009, according to the Medford Mail Tribune's report:
"The business lobby, who wouldn't really come to the table in 1993, is now not only at the table, but they are at the head of the table. They've got the fork and they've got the knife, it's sharpened and they're ready to start carving."
New and worth noting:
Obama's War. Every American should see this powerful, one-hour PBS documentary before Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan. It follows American units as they try to carry out Obama's directive to win the people's hearts and minds and establish peace and security. The film also includes extensive interviews with U.S. military commanders at all levels, as well as footage of Washington conferences and meetings where the discussion bears little resemblance to reality on the ground. The film's objective style adds greatly to its credibility as it asks what the U.S. can really hope to achieve in Afghanistan by military means.
Rethink Afghanistan. This 70-minute film is most notable for commentary by critics of U.S. involvement in that country.
Departures. This beautiful feature from Japan about work with dignity and death with dignity won this year's Academy Award winner for best foreign film, and with good reason.
A Sea Change, The Last Beekeeper, and Split Estate are a few of the initial films in the Reel Impact series aired on Planet Green. (Click on the links to find where and when in your area.) A Sea Change shows how the chemistry of the world's oceans is changing, threatening the survival of the fish supply we all depend upon. The Last Beekeeper follows three commercial beekeepers--in South Carolina, Montana, and Washington state--who are wrestling with the impact of the worldwide decline in bee health. Split Estate tells how oil companies are drilling under other people's land for natural gas and polluting land and water in the process.
Tortured Law is a 10-minute film by the Alliance for Justice that calls on the Obama administration to hold accountable the Justice Department lawyers who wrote highly controversial memos that were used by the Bush administration to justify the practice of torture. One of those lawyers was rewarded by Bush with a lifetime appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. Aviva Kempner's latest is a profile of Gertrude Berg, who, despite being Jewish during a period of strong anti-semitism, was one of America's leading radio and then TV stars and one of the most famous and wealthiest women in America in the 1930s and 1940s.
The Retail Revolution by Nelson Lichtenstein (Henry Holt). When a recent 60 Minutes poll asked "what American business best symbolizes the country today," as many Americans chose Walmart as chose all other companies combined. Nearly half of Americans said that if Walmart offered health care such as basic check-ups, they would consider using those services. This book provides the first comprehensive account of how Walmart became the most powerful force determining the future of working people in the U.S., China, and other countries, and gives a warning about where the "Walmarting" of our economy is taking us.
The Will to Resist by Dahr Jamail (Haymarket). Despite greater obstacles than those faced by war resisters during the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, an increasing number of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are refusing to fight, openly opposing U.S. policy, or challenging the military's failure to confront sexual assaults and race and sex discrimination in its ranks. This book describes their efforts and includes a succinct description of the human toll the wars are taking on U.S. troops, including high rates of suicide.
IraqiGirl by Hadia (Haymarket). An Iraqi teenager has been blogging since 2004 about her life and the impact of the war. Her blog itself is one way for American teenagers as well as adults to be exposed to her world, but this book that compiles highlights from her entries may be a more coherent and accessible vehicle. It includes discussion questions that could be used with school or youth groups.
Wherever There's a Fight by Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi (Heyday). If a household were going to choose one U.S. history book to have as a reference, or a high school or university were picking one history textbook, this rich volume would have to be considered as it describes key events in the struggles of workers, people of color, women, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and people with disabilities. The focus is on California history, but much of what it describes sheds light on U.S. history as a whole, especially since California has often been a trend setter for the rest of the country.
Feminism Seduced by Hester Eisenstein (Paradigm). This thoughtful and provocative book by a feminist academic argues that global corporations and their political allies have co-opted "mainstream feminism," which Eisenstein says has not adequately analyzed and confronted issues of race, class, and economic globalization. The final chapter explores what the author calls "Islamophobia" and the use of professed concern for women in Afghanistan and Iraq to justify wars waged by the U.S. for other motives.
Black Elvis by Geoffrey Becker (University of Georgia Press). A mostly high quality collection of short stories with unusual characters, including a number of musicians, in unusual situations.
The Domino Effect by Thomas F. Coleman (Spectrum Institute). An attorney's inspiring memoir chronicles a lifetime of strategic breakthroughs on gay and lesbian rights, personal privacy issues for all Americans, the rights of single people, respect for family diversity, and the rights of seniors, teenagers, and people with disabilities.
Searching for Whitopia by Rich Benjamin (Hyperion). For generations, white writers have reported on black or brown communities. Benjamin, a black writer, turns the tables, living for three months each in some of the fastest growing and whitest towns in America - Coeur D'Alene, Idaho; St. George, Utah; and Forsyth County, Georgia. It's part of his report on the rapid exodus of white urban dwellers to nearly all-white small towns across the nation.
Citadel of the Spirit edited by Matt Love (Nestucca Spit Press). An eclectic collection of nearly 500 pages of stories, essays, and documents from Oregon's recent and distant past on the occasion of the state's 150th anniversary. Just a few of the many topics: the Ku Klux Klan's history in the state, women's suffrage, the founding of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, abuse of Japanese Americans during and after World War II, Bigfoot, the fights over preserving salmon, the federal "termination" of the Klamath tribe, communes, the law on assisted suicide, the FBI's investigation of the song "Louie Louie," and many, many more.
Sisters in the Brotherhoods by Jane Latour (Palgrave MacMillan). Drawing heavily on oral history, an experienced labor educator and journalist presents the story of women who were the first to break into blue-collar trades in New York City in the 1970s. It serves as a reminder of how much has changed, and how much hasn't.
The Integration Debate edited by Chester Hartman and Gregory D. Squires (Routledge). Many people of all races have given up on the goal of racial integration in urban communities. And yet separate housing continues to mean unequal opportunity when it comes to education, health care, jobs, public safety, and environmental health. Leading activists and scholars debate possible solutions.
The Lost Origins of the Essay edited by John D'Agata (Graywolf). A mind-opening tour of essays from all over the world, in a wide variety of styles from the earliest human writings to the present.
Herbert Harrison by Jeffrey B. Perry (Columbia University
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