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New Ground 100

May - June, 2005


  • Preserving Social Security by Bob Roman
  • No Doubt, A Flawed Fix by Tom Broderick
  • A Perfect Storm Rising: The Crisis in Health Care, Defending Social Security by Bob Roman
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
    National Day of Action Against the War
    Stop CAT Coalition
    An American Tradition: Election Fraud
    Illinois Budget Fiasco
    RadFest: the Midwest's Social Forum
    Don't Hafta CAFTA

    Preserving Social Security

    by Bob Roman

    The fight to preserve Social Security gathers momentum, helped in large part by the apparent terminal ineptness of the Bush Administration. After months of campaigning for private accounts as a substitute the present Social Security system, Bush finally broke down and proposed a plan: how about benefit cuts with private accounts on the side? This has not helped his position.

    One shouldn't give Bush all the credit. Americans United to Protect Social Security has been active in all 50 states building grassroots opposition to the attack on Social Security. This has paid off in the ability to react quickly to events. When hearings were scheduled on the issue, a National Day of Action was declared on April 26. In Chicago, Illinois United to Protect Social Security (IUPSS) brought about 100 people together outside the Social Security building on west Madison in Chicago. The event gathered considerable press and, typical of these events, spontaneous participation by passersby. In Washington, DC, a national rally was held on the 28th. The rally brought over 3,000 people together to hear Illinois' William McNary, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, and Kim Gandy of NOW speak. The rally even had its own feeder march: a brigade of 120 members of Congress who marched together from their Capitol offices.

    In Illinois, IUPSS has engaged in other coordinated national actions and has kept up an ongoing campaign of targeted grassroots organizing. The AFL-CIO declared a National Day of Action Against Social Security Privatization on March 31, aiming at brokerage houses participating in industry trade associations advocating privatization, particularly Charles Schwab. The Illinois AFL-CIO, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans and IUPSS organized a noon hour picket outside the Charles Schwab offices on south Wacker Drive in Chicago. Hundreds of people participated, and a thoroughly stonewalled attempt at delivering a letter to the office resulted in a great bit of drama for the journalists.

    On April 2nd, IUPSS took the fight to the Republican leader in the House, Dennis Hastert, with a demonstration outside his district office in Batavia. This brought together several hundred people from all over Illinois, including the local chapter of "Billionaires for Bush".

    Chicago DSA endorsed and promoted both these events.

    All Along the Food Chain

    Organizing continues apace with Congressional District committees being formed to target Republicans Dennis Hastert in the far western suburbs, Jerry Weller in the southern suburbs, and Tim Johnson in east central Illinois (Champaign - Urbana). IUPSS is planning to have at least one big event each month to keep the issue before the local press.

    The Alliance for Retired Americans has produced a 12 minute video rebutting the conservative attack on Social Security. And it is planning to bring its petition gathering semi truck tour to the Midwest in early July (a flat bed semi with bales of collected petitions as a visual aide for rallies and media). The AFL-CIO is conducting a series of "buy-in" training sessions that both educates union activists and creates a network on the issue that can be activated.

    Scoundrels Worth Watching

    One shouldn't think the other side is idle. The national strategy thus far has been to keep the hot potato in the Republican lap by discouraging any "Democratic" plans or proposals. The Congressional Democrats have been amazingly disciplined on this issue, but the proponents of dismantling Social Security have been generating some pressure of their own. Finally one Democrat, Robert Wexler of Florida, has nervously succumbed to the noise and proposed his own legislation, "The Social Security Forever Act of 2005". As of press time, his proposal had not been translated into specific legislation, but as sketched in a speech the proposal amounts to simply removing the cap on income taxed for Social Security. That this is an entirely reasonable adjustment to the financing of Social Security is beside the point, which is that the proposal is premature.

    At the same time, a few dozen bills have been introduced in Congress affecting Social Security in one way or another. Some are global attacks on the system. But quite a few are efforts at tinkering with it, both well meant or subversive, for example proposals to exclude particular classes of public employees from the system or to diversify the holdings of the Social Security "Trust Fund" to include bank certificates of deposit. These are all worth tracking as a long standing conservative tactic is to nibble institutions to death, especially if frontal attacks seem futile.

    No Doubt, A Flawed Fix

    by Tom Broderick

    A bill that was just defeated in an Illinois Senate Committee caused quite a stir in the pro-execution, anti-execution world. HB2704 was referred to as the "no doubt" bill and was promoted as a reform to the train wreck we call capital punishment.

    The bill sought to prevent a sentence of death if there were any doubt as to the guilt of someone convicted of a capital offense. A defendant could still have been found guilty of first-degree murder if the evidence was convincing beyond a reasonable doubt ­ the current standard. Under the proposed law, a death sentence could only be handed out if there was no doubt about guilt, and this would have applied to both bench and jury trials.

    Legislative Maneuvers in the Dark

    The Illinois House voted 66 to 49 in favor of the "no doubt" bill. Many Legislators who support abolition voted for it. Among them are the three House members representing Oak Park: Calvin Giles, (D-8), Deborah Graham, (D-78) and Karen Yarbrough, (D-7). Representative Art Turner, (D-9), Deputy Majority Leader and a leading abolitionist also voted for it. They joined several pro-execution Representatives including Angelo Saviano, (R-77), John Millner, (R-55) and chief sponsor of the bill, Tom Cross, (R-84).

    Senator Don Harmon, (D-39), also representing Oak Park, was the chief and only sponsor of the bill in the Senate. The House sent the bill to the Senate on March 17th, where it was referred to the Rules Committee. On April 13th, the bill was sent to the Judiciary Committee, where it was postponed. On May 6th, the bill was re-referred to the Rules Committee ­ likely a move to gain time to find backers. Although the bill had cross-party and cross-ideological support in the House, it appears the Senate wanted nothing to do with it.

    In a procedural move to save the bill from dying in committee, Senator Harmon amended HB2704 to another bill on the floor: HB0481. This amended bill would need to pass through a committee before it could be voted on by the legislature, and on May 16th, HB0481 was sent to the Licensed Activities Committee. Then on May 17th, the bill was again referred to the Rules Committee and from there to the Executive Committee. The probable goal in this movement was to find a committee more favorable to the bill. If it had been referred out of committee and passed by the Senate, the bill would have to have been reconciled with the House version and voted on again. The Executive Committee defeated the bill on May 19th.

    Roiling Roots of Grass

    Outside the Legislature, the bill also created disturbance. One group came out strong against it: Illinois State's Attorneys. They were said to be concerned that passage would effectively end capital punishment by establishing a standard too high for them to successfully win a sentence of death.

    The abolition movement had mixed reactions to "no doubt." Jane Bohman, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP), responded to the passage of the bill by the Illinois House:

    "The (ICADP) is encouraged by the serious debate over increasing the standard of proof in capital cases, which reflects growing recognition of the deep flaws in the Illinois capital punishment system. However, certainty in capital cases, while a laudatory goal, is an inevitably elusive one. The only way there can be 'no doubt' that a wrongful execution will never take place in Illinois is to abolish the death penalty."

    Recently, I went to the screening of a new documentary film about the lives of men and women after they have been released from death row. The film is "The Innocent" and is directed by Lauri Feldman. Former Governor George Ryan and Rob Warden, Executive Director, Center on Wrongful Convictions, were on hand to answer questions after the film. When asked about the "no doubt" bill, Mr. Warden said he supported passage, as it would "essentially put an end to executions." Former Governor Ryan hopped to his feet and said:

    "The bill is a cop-out... It's a way for the legislators to look like they are doing something about crime... They need to work on abolition."

    In the audience was former U.S. Attorney Thomas Sullivan. He was co-chair of former Governor Ryan's panel to investigate the Illinois Capital Punishment system. After two years of study, the panel made more than eighty recommendations to improve the process. Their conclusion was that even if all reforms were enacted, there would be no guarantee that an innocent person would not be executed. When asked to comment on the then proposed bill, Atty. Sullivan simply said that he agreed with Mr. Warden.

    Excluding the legislature, everyone that I have talked with who opposes the death penalty, but supported the "no doubt" bill is connected to the legal profession either through employment or education. On the other hand, everyone that I have spoken with who opposes both the death penalty and the bill is not. Most odd. We have State's Attorneys (execution proponents) and a segment of the abolition community in opposition to the "no doubt" bill, while another group of abolitionists, connected to the legal world, supported it.

    Too Flawed to Fix

    Many, who favor the bill, feel that requiring absolute certainty of guilt would cause juries to hand out fewer death sentences. In all likelihood, there would be a decrease in the number of cases where prosecutors seek execution. Both results are welcome. My concern is that passage would create a false sense that the system has been fixed. This could lead to an end of the moratorium on executions, which is in place solely at the whim of our Governor.

    No matter how clever the defense lawyers, juries will still react to the crimes they try. Prosecutors will still portray the accused as animals. There will still be misconduct on the part of police and prosecutors. "Misconduct" is a genteel way of referring to frame-ups, including the suppression and falsification of evidence. There may even be volunteers. Gary Gilmore jump-started the current phase of executions when he volunteered to be shot by firing squad.

    I don't oppose the death penalty because I worry about executing an innocent person. That sure cost of capital punishment should weigh heavily on those who believe it serves justice. My issue with the death penalty is that we execute any of my brothers or sisters. The entire process is destructive, cruel, inhumane and driven by revenge. Politics, poverty and race are major factors in determining who faces execution, so it is patently unjust. The "no doubt" bill did not address these fundamental problems.

    This effort to reform a system that executes people may be a step in the right direction, but we must keep the focus on the termination of extermination. I worry that if the bill had passed, there would have been a collective sigh of relief heard in Springfield. Our Legislators would have successfully removed abolition from their agenda for the foreseeable future. This may have been the real goal behind the bi-partisan push for HB2704 in the House. Personally, I am glad to see the lack of interest in the Senate.

    For a wealth of information on the death penalty, go to the Death Penalty Information Center: www.deathpenaltyinfo.org. Another resource is the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty: www.icadp.org.

    A Perfect Storm Rising: The Crisis in Health Care, Defending Social Security

    by Bob Roman

    The 2005 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner was held on Friday, May 6 at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza. For those obsessed with odometers, this was the 47th annual dinner held since the first in 1958. Named for three of the great leaders of American democratic socialism (Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas, and Michael Harrington), the 2005 Dinner was a demonstration that their faith, passion, commitment, and pragmatism are still very much alive. The theme of this year's Dinner was "A Perfect Storm Rising: The Crisis in Health Care, Defending Social Security".

    Our Honorees

    Since 1973, the Dinner has honored one or more individuals each year whose public career evokes the spirits of Debs, Thomas, and Harrington. This year, we honored two individuals whose careers have advanced the cause of universal health care and social security: Dr. Linda Rae Murray and Hal Gullett.

    Dr. Murray is a long time advocate of universal health care for the United States. Indeed, she spoke at the 1993 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner on just that subject. Dr. Murray has been involved in public health and occupational health and safety as a practitioner, consultant, and public policy advocate. She advised Congressmen Charles Hayes and Harold Washington on health care policy. Dr. Murray is President of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group Board of Directors. Margie Schaps, the Executive Director of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group presented the award to Dr. Murray.

    Hal Gullett is President of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, the labor movement's senior community organization. He is on the Board of the Campaign for Better Health Care. And he is active in the retiree chapter of his union, being a board member of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 31 and a member of AFSCME's International Retiree Council. Retired UAW International Representative and Dinner Committee Chair Carl Shier presented the award to Hal Gullett.

    Our Speakers

    From the very first Dinner, we have featured good speakers on the issues of the day. This year's Master of Ceremonies, Reverend Gene Birmingham, greeting the dinner attendees with some heartfelt remarks on the need for Social Security. He noted the irony that some 40 years ago, Michael Harrington's book, The Other America, inspired the Johnson Administration's "War on Poverty" while today we have a war on the poor. To illustrate how the issues have not changed, Reverend Birmingham read from the 1936 Republican Platform on Social Security which makes the same arguments against Social Security that the Republicans are making today.

    The Dinner also heard from DSA's National Director, Frank Llewellyn. He spoke on the need for holding Democratic politicians accountable for their votes, using the recent Republican bankruptcy reform as an illustration. It was a particularly apt choice as Illinois' junior Senator, Barack Obama, was one of the defecting Democrats on that vote. He also spoke about DSA's campaign against the "low wage economy" and about how DSA was one of several dozen organizations (including the NAACP) singled out for political harassment by the Internal Revenue Service.

    Raising a Perfect Storm

    But the Dinner's featured speaker was William McNary. McNary is the Co-Director of Citizen Action Illinois and President of the national organization, USAction. Those of you who have heard him speak can imagine the experience. For the rest of you, trust me: you had to be there; I cannot adequately describe his performance. I can only say that he spoke with the passion that characterized speeches of Eugene V. Debs and with that curious blend of idealism and pragmatism that characterized the speeches of Michael Harrington.

    After introductory comments about the honorees, attendees, and Citizen Action, McNary began his talk on health care and social security by discussing how issue campaigns can shift power in society, and if successful then sometimes shift power rather permanently.

    In speaking about health care, McNary emphasized that anything we propose must deliver three characteristics: quality, affordability, and availability to all. That the issue of health care is a perfect storm brewing, he demonstrated the test that the issue appears in one guise or another in every day's newspaper. Selecting the day's newspaper, he pointed to the down rating of GM's and Ford's bonds to "junk bond" status, largely on the basis of the cost of health care provided to their employees and retirees. McNary felt that Clinton's attempt at health care reform taught us three lessons. First that Labor must be at the center of the fight; last time Labor was divided. Second, we must fight the political battle for power before fighting the policy battle. And finally, we must stop speaking in code and win the hearts of the American people.

    McNary said that the fight in defense of Social Security (that we are winning though we should not take the outcome as given) was an excellent prelude to the fight for universal health care because it speaks to that last point. It is an ideological fight that gives us the opportunity to speak our values plainly.

    As a summary of a passionate speech that lasted nigh 40 minutes, this account leaves out a lot and is dry, dry, dry. As I said, you had to be there. But at the end, we closed the Dinner as we always do, singing "Solidarity Forever". Never mind that solidarity is a lesson that must be constantly learned. Never mind that a new world does not always spring from the ashes of the old. For the moment, the affirmation was enough.

    Dr. Linda Rae Murray

    For your devotion to the extension of care to the medically indigent;

    For your advocacy of universal health care as a right of all citizens;

    For your service to working people in the field of occupational health and safety;

    For your service to the community in the field of public health;

    For your willingness to speak out against the injustices of an unequal society;

    The Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present you with its annual award this 6th day of May, 2005.

    Hal Gullett

    For your steadfastness in the fight to preserve Medicaid and Social Security;

    For your leadership in establishing the Alliance for Retired Americans and in galvanizing seniors throughout the State;

    For your willingness to confront the power of the drug industry and your insistence on affordable prescription prices;

    For your untiring efforts on behalf of senior citizens and your insistence that they be allowed to live with security and independence;

    The Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present you with its annual award this 6th day of May, 2005.

    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman


    National Day of Action Against the War

    March 18 - 20 was the two year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and thus became the date of an international weekend of protest against the continuing occupation. According to United for Peace and Justice, over 765 communities around the country hosted anti-war demonstrations, vigils, and teach-ins. In Illinois alone, there were events listed in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Canton, Carbondale, Chicago, Evanston, Glen Ellyn, Kankakee, Macomb, Morton, Mt. Prospect, Naperville, Oak Park, Olney, Palatine, Park Ridge, Peoria, Rock Island, Rockford, Schaumburg, Springfield, Urbana-Champaign.

    The keystone event in Chicago was the Saturday, March 19, afternoon march to and rally at the Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago. The event was organized by the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racisim (CCAWR), but it was supported by virtually the entire spectrum of the peace movement. It featured speeches by notables such as Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Reverend Jesse Jackson, among others; several feeder marches; an ongoing pissing match between the organizers and the City of Chicago regarding the route of the march; a small counter demonstration; lavish police presence; and several arrests. Some 3,000 people attended the rally, at its peak, though some estimates went as high as 5,000. The latter might be a fair guess at how many participated overall.

    Chicago DSA endorsed, promoted, and contributed to the Chicago demonstration and the demonstration in Oak Park that was organized by the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice. The Oak Park march and rally took place later Saturday afternoon so that, in principle, people could attend both the Chicago march and rally and the Oak Park event. Some 300 or so people participated.

    The immediate aftermath in Chicago was some degree of disappointment and acrimony. For the most part, the disappointment was inspired by the smallish turnout as compared to the general level of skepticism over the ongoing occupations. Considering how much anti-war activity was going on in the Chicago area (for example, there was a "family friendly" interfaith service at the Methodist Temple in the Loop on Sunday that drew nearly 1,000), this might be overblown. But it is also true that if the left were stronger, the turnout would have been greater. In the mid-1980s, for example, the Mother's Day March for Peace down Michigan Avenue (the route banned by the police for March 19, lest there be any doubt about Chicago's pig-headed refusal to grant a permit) drew a crowd a whole order of magnitude greater than March 19 and then some.

    But some of the disappointment and acrimony was generated by those who had been hoping this would be the first step in some revolution. On a variety of bulletin boards and e-lists, a relatively small number of people had nothing but contempt for those who were not disposed to defy police direction and flood Chicago's jails. There is a report of at least one speaker at the rally, Alderman Joe Moore, being bumped from the program because of his recommendation that people follow the Police Department's alternate plan of meeting at and marching from Bughouse Square.

    Bughouse Square is the nickname for Washington Square Park on Chicago's near north side, immediately south of the Newberry Library. It received this name as it was the low-rent venue where free speech of all types was tolerated. There is in fact a festival each spring at the park to celebrate that tradition. But what about the First Amendment? Prior to the 1920s, local governments were considered to have the same rights as private property owners. While they could not pass laws restricting freedom of speech, they could very well prohibit anyone they did not care for from speaking on "their" property. Thus the great syndicalist union of the first two decades of the last century, the Industrial Workers of the World, flooded the jails of various cities (Seattle, for example) to win the right to rally and march. It may be that this civil disobedience had an affect, but credit for the expansion of free speech rights is usually given to the early American Civil Liberty Union litigation in the 1920s. It was worth fighting the ban on a Michigan Avenue march not only because the ban was unreasonable but because there are those who wish to turn the clock back. The City of Chicago is probably not among them, this year at least, but Congress continues to keep writing the Department of Homeland Security blank checks on our liberties. Who knows what we'll be facing in a few years?

    It's hard to say what this presages for future antiwar actions except that CCAWR is once again stuck with outstanding bills for legal expenses and for confiscated equipment. Those wishing to contribute can make checks payable to the "8th Day Center for Justice." Please write "M19 Legal Defense" in the memo field, and mail them to CCAWR, 4404 N. Magnolia, Suite 420, Chicago, IL 60640. CCAWR is offering contributors of $50 or more a complimentary DVD or VHS tape (please indicate which version you prefer) of the Labor Beat program about the March 19th protest.


    Stop CAT Coalition

    At the request of DSA member Libby Frank, the Chicago DSA Executive Committee voted to endorse the April 13 Stop CAT Coalition demonstration outside the Caterpillar shareholder meeting. This was in support of a shareholder action brought by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to have the corporation consider discontinuing the sale of its D9 and D10 bulldozers to Israel's military. (The demonstration demanded an end to sales, but the shareholder resolution made a more modest request.) These particular machines are modified by the military post-sale, but are financed through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program, meaning that they are not sold as civilian equipment but as weapons. The tractors are used to demolish homes, roads and other civilian property. Israel's military has concluded, wisely, that retaliatory home demolitions are counterproductive and has ceased doing them. The military demolitions continue, however, because most of them are "administrative" in nature, often in response to construction done lacking permits, a permission that is often unavailable in any case.

    Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization based in California that was founded in 1996, when, despite three years of participating in a "peace process" under the Oslo accords, Palestinians and Israelis seemed increasingly unlikely to achieve the peace they claimed to seek. JVP members were especially concerned that, in violation of Oslo, the Israeli government was continuing to build settlements in the Occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Israel also had opened a controversial archaeological tunnel in the Old City of Jerusalem, leading to confrontations in which 65 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed. JVP organized more than 100 people to protest at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, becoming one of the first U.S. Jewish group to criticize Israeli treatment of Palestinians since the "peace process" began.

    As a media event, the demonstration was a success, gathering considerable coverage in the business press and some coverage in general media. The organizers deserve credit for their well organized presentation to the press. They not only supplied considerable documentation, they also knew which points to make in the 15 to 20 seconds they had available.

    The demonstration was greatly reinforced by irate union members, Machinists apparently, who were in the middle of contract negotiations that were not going well at the time.

    Chicago DSA accompanied its endorsement with a $50 contribution and lent them its 10 watt bullhorn.

    The shareholder resolution did not pass.


    An American Tradition: Election Fraud

    When the Election Science Institute (ESI) announced the results of a more detailed study of exit polls done during the 2004 election in Ohio claiming that the analysis does "not necessarily indicate that there was fraud in the Ohio election," Chicago DSA member Ron Baiman lamented that no one would be at the American Association for Opinion Research (AAOPR) 60th conference in Miami, Florida, to argue the data are rather more indicative of problems than not. The folks at Andersonville Neighbors for Peace took up a collection to send Baiman there to make the point. Greater Oak Park DSA contributed $100 toward the plane fare and lodging costs.

    Baiman has been doing considerable statistical work with dissidents in Ohio on this issue, including DSA member and general rabble rouser Bob Fitrakis. He has also been doing a number of speaking engagements on the subject.

    In the end, Ron Baiman and Pete Pekarsky (the lead attorney in the Ohio election challenge) attended the conference. The AAOPR was very gracious in waiving conference fees and allowing access to the event.

    Both sides of discussion agree for the need for "better tools to monitor our elections," as the ESI's Steven Hertzberg put it. But the need is not for "more timely election data so the public may verify for themselves that the voting and the counting is done accurately". First we need voting systems that are capable of providing auditable tallies. Then, given that "the public" does not have the statistical tools to make judgements, the elections industry and the opinion research industry need to develop the tools that will indicate probable fraud when it happens and the political will to do something about it when it does.


    Illinois Budget Fiasco

    As New Ground goes to press, legislative leaders are sounding optimistic about meeting the deadline for reaching a budget agreement, but this hardly means that Illinois is not facing a fiscal train wreck with schools, public mass transit, and health care being among the major victims. In the Illinois Senate, HB750, the school finance reform bill proposed by Senator Meeks (see New Ground99), has been combined with Republican Senator Winkel's counter proposal and fused on to a minor bit of sundry school reform legislation, HB755. Most of this legislative maneuvering is to advance the bill's position in the legislative queue, the specific choice being partially dictated by Illinois' requirement that legislation be on a single topic. In this case, it's education, even though the bill would have global consequences for state finances.

    Meeks is reportedly confident that the bill could be passed out of the Senate, but House Speaker Michael Madigan seems more inclined to play with Governor Rod Blagojevich. The Governor pretends that looting the state's dedicated funds of spare cash combined with some tax law tinkering and more state sponsored gambling will save the day. If the economy were to skyrocket, he might be right. But the only thing skyrocketing is the Governor's unpopularity. Madigan may very well be feeding the Governor all the rope the Governor desires, at the expense of most things decent in Illinois.

    It's not too early for "progressives" to start thinking about a candidate to oppose Blagojevich in the next gubernatorial election. If we don't get rid of him, the Republicans will do it for us.


    RadFest 2005: the Midwest's Social Forum

    RadFest 2005 is scheduled for June 3 through 5 at the George Williams ­ Lake Geneva campus of Aurora University on the shores of Lake Geneva in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Our apology: this is after most readers of New Ground will receive this issue, but readers on the web can go to http://www.radfest.org for more information regarding schedules and registration or call 608-262-0854 or 608-262-1420. The conference includes more than 120 speakers, 50 workshops, panels, plenaries, music and more.

    The Madison Area chapter of DSA contributes a Saturday morning panel discussion entitled "Winning the Battle Against Wal-Mart". In this session, activists from Chicago, Stoughton and Ft. Atkinson discuss local strategies in fighting Wal-Mart within the context of broader community discussions about Wal-Mart's political and economic impact on the economy. They detail the concrete effects on city policies and planning that have emerged as a result of their efforts. The panelists areMarc Silberman (Moderator), Chair - Madison Area DSA; Ron Baiman, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago DSA; Carl Davidson, Networking for Democracy, CoCDS; Buzz Davis, WI AFT Retirees Chapter, Madison Area DSA; Beth Gehred and Kitty Welch, Heart of the City, Fort Atkinson, WI.


    Don't Hafta CAFTA

    A vote on CAFTA is ripening in Congress. Readers should take the time to write Congress, both their Representative and Senators, particularly Obama as he has no track record on this issue. Do not assume that if you have a Democratic Representative that you have a vote against the agreement. For talking points, go to http://www.afl-cio.org/issuespolitics/globaleconomy/cafta_ftaa_main.cfm, also see New Ground 98.

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