World Wide Work - July 2010
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
New and worth noting…
Entre Nos. An immigrant from Colombia raised her two children alone in the U.S., supporting them by collecting cans from the city’s garbage. Now, her daughter and another filmmaker have collaborated to tell her story in an 82-minute tearjerker.
Frozen Dreams (firstname.lastname@example.org). In 2007, 160 immigrant workers at a Del Monte food packing plant in Oregon were detained in a federal raid. Some of them tell their story in this 30-minute film, which also includes footage showing why immigrant workers come to the U.S. in the first place.
8: The Mormon Proposition. A former Mormon evangelist who is now a journalist directed this 78-minute documentary about how the Mormon Church drove the initiative campaign in California that took away the right of gays and lesbians to marry. The film says the Mormons plowed $30 million into the campaign through front groups, while bringing in canvassers from Utah who were instructed not to wear white shirts and ties that would identify their affiliation. Interviewees include a gay descendant of one of the church’s original founders.
Word is Out. This 2 hour and 15 minute film was originally issued in 1977 and has now been restored. It is believed to have been the first feature-length documentary about lesbian and gay identity, featuring moving, intimate interviews with 26 people of many different backgrounds. It provides a good history lesson, while provoking thoughts about what has and has not changed.
Obselidia. In this entertaining 97-minute feature, shot in L.A. and Death Valley, a librarian spends his off hours compiling an encyclopedia of obsolete things as he mourns the rapid disappearance of American cultural traditions. He also studies the deadly effects of climate change, which he learns may already be irreversible. After he interviews a silent movie theater projectionist for his book, the two strike up a friendship and help each other find joy and beauty in an increasingly troubled world.
Whiz Kids. Coming of age is a different experience for high school students engaged in serious scientific research and competing in a prestigious national competition. This 82-minute film focuses on three – an immigrant from Pakistan, a first-generation Ecuadorian-American, and a student in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who researches a pollutant dumped in the Ohio River by the region’s largest employer.
The Most Dangerous Man in America. Daniel Ellsberg risked life in prison to leak secret Pentagon documents showing the government’s deception about the Vietnam War. This 94-minute documentary dramatically raises the question of why a few individuals go against the tide and challenge the powerful despite the likely personal cost.
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha (Broadway). In this masterfully written novel, a 15-year-old Oregon boy is killed at home by a 19-year-old intruder. As the legal system takes many years to process the case, the victim’s mother believes that only the execution of the man who killed her son will bring her closure. Over time, she learns deeper truths about the crime, about herself, and about human connection.
Green Gone Wrong by Heather Rogers (Scribner). Many Americans feel that we are taking meaningful action about climate change by substituting cloth shopping bags for plastic ones or buying organic food. But really doing something requires joining together to win government action to control greenhouse gas emissions, develop and distribute alternative energy, invest in mass transit, encourage sustainable local food production, and address the global wealth gap.
Ending the U.S. War in Afghanistan by David Wildman and Phyllis Bennis (Olive Branch). In question and answer format, analysts from the United Methodist Church and the Institute of Policy Studies provide essential background on the real reasons for the Bush invasion of Afghanistan and the continuation of the war by President Obama. They also address the question of how the U.S. can bring its involvement to an end.
13 Bankers by Simon Johnson and James Kwak (Pantheon). This book explains in convincing detail how Wall Street destroyed the economy, why elected officials and regulators in both the Bush and Obama administrations failed to take the necessary action, and what ought to be done now.
Colorblind by Tim Wise (City Lights). America needs not to “move beyond” race but to adopt innovative public policies that directly address it. Wise gives specific ideas of what those policies might be. Also worth reading is a recent blog entry by the same author, Imagine if the Tea Party was Black.
No One is Illegal by Justin Akers Chacon and Mike Davis (Haymarket). This timely and informative book makes clear that current immigration policy is deliberately designed to ensure a supply of cheap labor for corporate interests. It recounts the history of anti-immigrant violence and discrimination in the U.S. and describes the current movement for real immigration reform.
Seeds of Change by John Atlas (Vanderbilt University). The president of the National Housing Institute has written an impressively detailed, thoughtful, and honest history of ACORN, from its founding to its recent reorganization forced by right-wing attacks.
Share This! by Deanna Zandt (Berrett-Koehler). An experienced progressive activist shares her knowledge and insights about the potential and limits of social networking.
The Autobiography of an Execution by David R. Dow (Twelve). A Texas law professor who has handled appeals in more than a hundred death penalty cases provides a powerful personal account of the issues, contradictions, and stresses that his work involves.
A Shameful Business by James A. Gross (Cornell University). Politicians of various stripes occasionally find it useful to decry human rights abuses in other countries. This book details the human rights abuses built into the American workplace, where property rights are consistently valued over workers’ rights.
Spirit of Rebellion by Jarod Roll (University of Illinois). In Missouri in the 1930s, black and white farmers inspired by Pentecostal revivals joined forces to fight for economic justice.
When Chicken Soup Isn’t Enough edited by Suzanne Gordon (Cornell University). Seventy registered nurses, most of them in the U.S., tell briefly about times they have challenged obstacles to providing quality patient care. Most of these vignettes involve individual action such as confronting a doctor or administrator.
God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says by Michael Coogan (Twelve). Political activists often cite the Bible for validation of their views. But the book was written thousands of years ago by a number of different writers in a time when social customs were very different from our own, according to this dispassionate history by a professor of religious studies.
The Illuminated Landscape edited by Gary Noy and Rick Heide (Heyday). This varied anthology of essays, poetry, and stories focuses on the Sierra Nevada region of California from the earliest days of human habitation to the present. It includes work by local authors as well as excerpts from works by some of America’s most famous writers.
Victors’ Justice From Nuremberg to Baghdad by Danilo Zolo (Verso). An Italian academic argues that international law is not impartial but political, legitimizing imperialism and labeling resistance as terrorism.
Love Filling Station by Jesse Winchester (Appleseed). After a long career, Winchester still has a beautiful voice and a knack for fresh and tight lyrics and melodies.
Agridustrial by Legendary Shack Shakers (Colonel Knowledge/Thirty Tigers). Harsh hard rock, including percussion sounds recorded in a blacksmith’s forge, provide the backdrop for angry rants about hard times, past and present, in rural America.
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