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by PAR Planning Committee

The Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter publishes from September through June. Subscriptions from many of our readers will expire with the June issue.

We hope you enjoy your subscription and value the PAR newsletter as a community resource. To see if your subscription is due for renewal, please look at your address label. If “201906” is printed on the label to the right of your name, your subscription ends next month. Please send in $13 for 10 issues (Sept. 2019-June 2020) so that you can continue to read about what local organizations are doing and you can submit articles about your own organization.

The Progressive Action Roundtable was started in January 1993. After several months, this community Newsletter became the main activity of PAR, giving New Haven area organizations an opportunity for networking and for advertising their activities.

We hope to hear from you.

Students Disrupt David Swensen Talk and Occupy Investments Office

(contributed photo)

NEW HAVEN, CT – Student demonstrators interrupted a public talk given by Yale Chief Investments Officer David Swensen and NPR correspondent Chris Arnold on Tuesday, calling on Swensen to meet the demands of students who were occupying the Yale Investments Office for the third time in the past five months. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/FossilFreeYale.

Half an hour into the financial advice presentation described as “teaching students to invest like Yale does”,” more than 40 members of the Yale Endowment Justice coalition stood up, holding banners reading “Yale is Complicit” and “Inaction is not an option.”Lorna Chitty YC’20, a member of the Yale Democratic Socialists, interrupted Swensen to inform him that earlier that afternoon, 20 students and community members had begun a third sit-in in the Investments Office. She asked when Swensen would respond to the years of student activism calling for fossil fuel divestment and cancelling Puerto Rico’s debt.

As Swensen sat without replying, Arnold urged the protestors to bring their complaints at another time.. Chitty responded: “We have gone through all of your administrative channels, we have written countless reports, we have delivered our demands to your door, and you remain invested in the climate crisis that threatens all our futures and is already impacting the people of Puerto Rico.” The student organizers marched out of the lecture hall, chanting “Cancel the Debt,” leaving only about half of the original attendees. .

This isn’t the first confrontation between Swensen and student organizers. In March 2018, Yale’s legendary investments manager faced backlash following an email exchange with the Yale Daily News, in which Swensen called the editor-in-chief a “coward” and wrote, “Don’t you understand simple English?”

Students point to Yale’s holdings in the Puerto Rican debt crisis as an example of investments that aren’t consistent with Yale’s stated commitment to climate change. “As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from a climate change-fueled hurricane and a massive debt crisis, Yale’s fifth largest fund manager Baupost is suing the island to be repaid first. Our demands for bold moral action from Yale have been met with silence. That’s why we’re continuing to take direct action to hold our university accountable to principles of climate justice” said Adriana Colón-Adorno YC’20, a member of Despierta Boricua, the Yale Puerto Rican students association. Yale’s CIO David Swensen sits on the board of Baupost.

Fossil Free Yale has been working with the Yale administration for six years to divest the university’s $29 billion endowment from fossil fuels, but students’ frustration with administrative stalling and inaction has led them to take more drastic actions like disrupting an event. “Nonviolent direct action is a necessary and just response to a rigged and fraudulent democratic system of representation,” says Ross Pennock, DIV ’21, a member of the Endowment Justice Coalition.

While the students were walking out of the lecture hall, the Yale Police Department was issuing citations to 20 more students and community members for refusing to leave the Investments Office until Yale agreed to meet their demands. This sit-in follows a December action at which 48 students were arrested, the largest university fossil fuel divestment direct action in history, as well as a March sit-in at which 17 students were arrested. The activists promised they would continue to hold Yale accountable to principles of climate justice.

Students Occupy Yale Investments Office, Demanding Action on Climate Injustice in Puerto Rico

[Below are excerpts from the press release PAR received on March 4 regarding the action at Yale]

Yale University police arrested and issued citations to 17 Yale students who held an occupation of the Investments Office [March 4] demanding that Yale direct its fund managers to cancel their holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt and divest the endowment from fossil fuel companies. A total of 30 students and New Haven community members participated in the sit-in lasting the entire afternoon. They have emphasized that they will continue returning to the Investments Office until the University takes action on their demands.

In the face of hurricanes, devastating California wildfires and the latest UN climate report, bold and comprehensive action is needed to address climate change. Climate change exacerbates existing economic inequity, as seen in Puerto Rico, where several “vulture funds” that hold Puerto Rico’s considerable debt are demanding to be repaid before the island can rebuild and support its poorest residents. Research has shown that the intensity of hurricanes like Maria, which struck the island in September last year, is being exacerbated by climate change.

“As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from a climate change-fueled hurricane and a massive debt crisis, Yale’s fifth largest fund manager Baupost is suing the island to be repaid first. Our demands for bold moral action from Yale have been met with silence. That’s why we’re continuing to take direct action to hold our university accountable to principles of climate justice,” said Adriana Colón, a member of Des-pierta Boricua, the Yale Puerto Rican students association. Yale’s CIO David Swensen sits on the board of Baupost.

For six years, student and community organizers have worked with the Yale administration to advocate for the divestment of Yale’s $29.4 billion endowment from fossil fuel corporations. Yale would join 998 institutions that have committed to divesting $7.2 trillion from the fossil fuel industry worldwide. Most recently, Middlebury College announced it will divest its $1 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies. For more information, please contact Martin Man at martinmi5@hotmail.com or call (845) 505-9281.

Liberty Community Services at New Haven Libraries

Liberty Community Services offers one-on-one consulta-tions at NHFPLs for those with basic needs (jobs, food, shelter, and health and wellness issues).
Ives Main Library, 133 Elm Street
* Mondays to Fridays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
* Saturdays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Fair Haven Branch Library, 182 Grand Avenue
* Thursdays, 5-7 p.m. * Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Wilson Branch Library, 303 Washington Avenue
* Tuesdays, 5-7 p.m *Saturdays, April 13, 27, 10 a.m.-1p.m.

Coalition For People Annual Meeting, April 17

The annual meeting of the Greater New Haven Coalition For People will be on Wednesday, April 17, from 4:45-7:30 p.m. in the Program Room, lower level of the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St., New Haven.

Coalition For People through the years

Coalition For People led the successful campaign to have the downtown bus stops restored around the New Haven Green; demanded the hospitals adhere to the Hill-Burton Act and provide free health care to people who could not afford it; promoted universal, comprehensive single-payer health care; organized in neighborhoods to curb drug dealing and violence; won guarantees of jobs for New Haven residents at projects and businesses receiving city assistance; and worked with many other organizations in the New Haven area on issues of justice, racism, welfare rights, peace and the environment.

This past year we have taken on such issues as New Haven’s lack of affordable housing, the rights of the homeless, “hospital-dumping” of patients to the street who have no where to go after they are discharged from the hospital, lack of disability access to public places, and development of a program to provide resources for people with behavioral issues who would otherwise be put through the court system for creating a disturbance or other minor infractions or misdemeanors.

We are honored that our guest speaker will be Rev. Bonita Grubbs, Executive Director of Christian Community Action. Music will be performed by Flint Ladder. Our meeting and light dinner are free.
We invite you to become a member of Coalition For People and join our board. Annual dues are $5. Only members are eligible to vote during the business portion of the meeting.

RSVP is necessary. Please call (203) 468-2541, or e-mail coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com.

An Invitation to a Liberation Seder April 27

Mikveh Warshaw, Mending Minyan and Jewish Voice for Peace

Join us for our second annual community liberation seder, hosted by Mending Minyan and Jewish Voice for Peace, New Haven (JVP) on Saturday, April 27 from 4:30 to 9 p.m. It will be held in the Congregational Church North Haven, 28 Church St. North Haven. Guests are asked to donate $15-$25, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. After costs are covered excess funds will be donated to a local charity.

During Passover, we recall the story of Exodus where the ancient Hebrew people were liberated from slavery. The night is filled with story-telling, ritual, song, and delicious food! For centuries Passover has been used by communities, Jewish and non-Jewish, as a time to build connections across movements and commit to celebrating liberation struggles. This year, as we read stories of the past, we connect the teachings to our current struggles for a more just world.

This event is hosted by Mending Minyan and JVP. Mending Minyan is a group of Jews and friends of Jews in the New Haven vicinity who are practicing deeply-rooted and joy-based Jewish ritual decoupled from Zionism and in service to building radical Jewish practices in support of struggles against white supremacy and colonization. JVP New Haven is a diverse community of activists inspired by Jew-ish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights in Palestine, Israel, the U.S., and globally. This event is hosted in the spirit of the liberation for all people, and thus we will be centering the experience of Black and Brown, Queer, Trans, Women, and working-class and other marginalized Jews and non-Jews. This event is open to people of all or no faiths and to children of all ages!

We will be having pot-luck style food so that we can share our wide tradition of dishes we cook for Passover. Please sign up to bring a dish if possible. We are also looking for volunteers to help with setup, break-down, and childcare. Contact us at mikveh.warshaw@gmail.com.

Combating Climate Collapse, Combating Fascism

Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace

To top off a month of climate action, Promoting Enduring Peace and other groups will be holding a forum on Sunday, April 28 called “A Green New Deal and Other Ideas on Avoiding Climate Catastrophe.” It will be held in the early afternoon at the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center, 703 State St, Bridgeport, CT. Details are being worked out so check at pepeace.org during the month.

Readers of the Progressive Action Roundtable surely know that the consensus of U.N. scientists has concluded that we must cut back carbon dioxide emissions to nearly half by 2030. That is a massive undertaking. The purpose of the forum is to debate what it will take to overhaul production and consumption so drastically in just 11 years. The Green New Deal popularized by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for meeting all our power needs with “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” increasing electric car pro-duction, expanding rail lines and guaranteed jobs for all. Richard Smith, an ecosocialist who will be speaking at the event, says that to do a Green New Deal the government will need to nationalize energy and transportation systems, ration power use and plan the U.S. economy. Winona LaDuke has talked about an Indigenous-led Green New Deal that will not let the land and animals be taken as mere things to be used for human benefit. Anarchist Wayne Price talks about Revolutionary Ecosocialism which he sees as out-and-out anti-capitalist and a system based on decentralized planning. We hope to discuss all these ideas at the forum.

PEP is continuing to expand its archives on its newly designed website, pepeace.org. The archives are on climate and nature, Ukraine and Russia, anti-nukes, Korea and the struggle against fascism. Of note is a link to an article about India where a Hindi superiority party rules and the country is rocked by atrocities against Muslims. PEP urged a big turnout at the New York City demonstration “United Against Racism and Fascism.” Hundreds rallied and marched on March 16. TSVN covered the protest. See video on TheStruggle.org.

Taking Coals to Newcastle with HB 5898

by Lisa Blumberg, Second Thoughts CT

Trump wants the Affordable Care Act to implode. Republicans seem willing to swell the ranks of the uninsured and to cut Medicaid funding. There are corporate imperatives to reduce healthcare costs even if quality is diminished. Many people are unable to access basic care and minorities, the old and people with disabilities are often subject to medical prejudices or “quality of life” misconceptions. (1) Legalizing doctor assisted suicide in these times would be akin to taking coals to Newcastle.

Let’s not be confused by rhetoric. The bill (HB 5898) that the Connecticut legislature is poised to consider has nothing to do with “aid in dying.” Aid in dying is palliative care to improve the quality of a person’s remaining life. The World Health Organization views such care as a human right. (2)  Doctor assisted suicide would not expand desperately needed access to palliative care or otherwise increase healthcare choices. Patients already have the right to refuse any type of treatment. The bill is not about patients’ rights but about the authority of doctors. It sets forth the circumstances under which a doctor could actively prescribe lethal drugs to directly cause the death of a supposedly willing patient without fear of liability.

Legalized assisted suicide is exploitable by for-profit entities. There have been cases in Oregon of insurers denying payments for new treatments but offering to pay for lethal drugs. (3)

Proponents talk of “safeguards.” Nothing can prevent an erroneous prognosis or keep a vulnerable person from subtly being steered. Since the bill is about permitted medical behavior and not about patient protection, the minimal criteria written into the bill apply only to the prescribing of the lethal drugs, and not to their use. Who is to know if in any particular case the drugs are self-administered or what a person’s mental state is when she decides to swallow the drugs?

We should focus on efforts to reduce healthcare inequities and not on legitimize assisted suicide. As progressives, we need to care.

Lisa Blumberg is a member of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a bi-partisan organization composed of citizens with disabilities and advocates who oppose the legalization of assisted suicide.

Footnotes
1 http://notdeadyet.org/2017/08/anita-cameron-three-big-reasons-black-people-should-join-the-anti-doctor-assisted-suicide-movement.html
2 https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ palliative-care
3 https://dredf.org/public-policy/assisted-suicide/why-assisted-suicide-must-not-be-legalized

Frida Berrigan to Deliver the Mark Shafer Lecture

by Stanley Heller, Administrator, Promoting Enduring Peace

Promoting Enduring Peace’s big event for March will be the Mark Shafer lecture this year given by Frida Berrigan. Berrigan is a long-time anti-nuclear activist. Frida writes the Little Insurrections blog for Waging Nonviolence and is the author of “It Runs in the Family: On Being Raised by Radicals and Growing into Rebellious Motherhood,” a memoir of her childhood as their daughter and her adult life as an activist and a mother. She lives in New London with her husband Patrick Sheehan-Gaumer and their three children.

The event will take place on Tuesday, March 26 in the Great Hall of the Parish House of United Church on the Green at 323 Temple St. (by the corner of Wall Street). The event will begin at 7 p.m. It’s free. More details at PEPeace.net.

Berrigan comes from a distinguished family of activists. Her mother, Elizabeth McAllister, is in Glynn County Jail. McAllister took part in the Kings Bay Plowshare action in Georgia in 2018. Seven activists entered the nuclear sub base, with hammers and their own blood which they used to try to “convert swords into plowshares.” Incidentally, New Haven’s Mark Colville also took part in the action and is in the same lockup. The trial of the Plowshare activists will begin in March or April.

Frida Berrigan spoke for Promoting Enduring Peace last year at the Gandhi Peace Award event honoring Jackson Browne and got a spontaneous standing ovation. The Mark Shafer Lecture was started in 2013 in honor of peace activist Mark Shafer.

Earlier in the month PEP will have its Annual Meeting, looking at the past year and talking about world developments in peace and environment. It will take place on Thursday, March 7 starting at 6 p.m. in the Marrett Room of the New Haven Free Public Library on 133 Elm St. It’s open to all, but only active members can vote on internal issues.

Another March event of note is the “United Against Fascism and Racism” event in New York City. It’s part of an international effort. It’s happening at noon Saturday, March 16 in Foley Square.

Finally, we’re looking for volunteers to help plan an April conference about the climate crisis. Tentative title, “A Green New Deal and Other Ideas on Averting Climate Catastrophe.” Reach us at office.pepeace@gmail.com.

Boycotting Saudi Arabia

by LouAnn Villani-Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee

A number of groups got together in February and called for an economic, cultural and entertainment boycott of Saudi Arabia. The groups are horrified by the Saudi regime war on Yemen, its murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its imprisonment of feminists and others.

There are legislative efforts to force the Trump administration to stop its participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. A bill passed the House this year that invokes the War Powers Act to end U.S. involvement, but its future in the Senate is uncertain. The Senate Republican majority has increased after the election, and the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee appears to be a supporter of the Trump line. Even if it passes the Senate, Trump can veto the legislation so the whole effort may just “send a message” while the calamity in Yemen continues.

Popular efforts must be made. One possibility is to use the BDS tactics being used against Israeli apartheid. CODE-PINK has already campaigned to get Black Eyed Peas and Mariah Carey to cancel their appearances in Saudi Arabia. It’s appealing to VICE media to end its production of publicity videos for the monarchy. Campaigns to get MIT to break ties with Saudi Arabia and (our own) efforts to get the University of New Haven to end its work for the Saudi police college are other examples. More about this on SaudiUS.org.

On another issue, MECC is continuing to support the courageous stand of Texas teacher Bahia Amawi in refusing to sign a pledge that she would not boycott Israeli goods. Texas passed an outrageous unconstitutional law requiring that promise in 2017. Amawi was fired for her actions. At present, she is suing and is being supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It appears that no trade unions are supporting her or even noticing what’s happening. MECC is gathering signers of a letter calling on unions to rally to support Amawi.

Details at TheStruggle.org.

Tweed Airport and Climate Change: The Environment Is Both Local and Global

by Jeffry Larson, PAR Subscriber, CT Green Party member

Tweed Airport astride the New Haven-East Haven city line has long been an environmental concern to its neighbors because of the noise and pollution it creates. So they have organized a group, stoptweed.org, to limit the airport’s adverse impact. Unfortunately, they have been dismissed as NIMBYs by the corporate and academic jet-setters who find Tweed a convenient amenity.

The City of New Haven has recently abrogated its agreement to limit the length of the runways at Tweed Airport, and, with the state’s permission, plans to increase air traffic there. So, in addition to more local noise and pollution, there will be an increase in the amount of jet fuel emissions–one of the worst greenhouse gases–being poured into the atmosphere.

Tweed is a low-lying shoreline facility, vulnerable to rising sea levels: this would be one of the risks of a proposal hastening catastrophic climate.

Last fall the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued another report on the state of climate change. Denialists predictably dismissed it as “alarmist.” Even climate change activists take its conclusions as somehow assuring us that we have 12 more years to mend our fossil-fuel ways. But the IPCC has been severely criticized by actual researchers for being consistently overly cautious and loath to emphasize the real urgency of our plight. We do not have a guaranteed 12 years to forestall or mitigate climate change. Some leading scientists even believe we’ve already passed the carbon budget turning point.

Apparently, no environmental group or politician or journalist has expressed concern about this. They need to join with local grassroots groups. It is the jet-setters who are the NIMBYs here. As the director of Transport & Environment, one of the mainstream anti-aviation groups in Europe, says, “Air travel is the fastest and cheapest way to fry the planet.”

Ask your local elected officials, environmental groups or reporters why they are not raising questions about this proposed increase in our carbon footprint.

jeffrylarson73@yahoo.com

Politics in Plain English at the Institute Library

by Bennett Graff, Institute Library

The Institute Library, 847 Chapel Street, is proud to announce the launch of a new monthly program Politics in Plain English. Following in the tradition of the Library’s one-time role during the Civil War — when it served as a lyceum where such luminaries as Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Henry Ward Beecher, and Theodore Parker spoke — the Institute Library once more seeks to become New Haven’s center for a conversation about civics in the America at a time when such a conversation has never been more needed.

The discussions are hosted by John Stoehr, editor and publisher of The Editorial Board, contributing writer to Washington Monthly, and columnist at the New Haven Register. $10 suggested admission—free light refreshments served.

Politics is simpler and more complex than most realize. Fortunately, there are good people able to see through the haze and talk about issues plainly and honestly. Hosted by the Institute Library and sponsored by The Editorial Board, Politics in Plain English brings a panel of writers and thinkers to New Haven to debate current events and bring you into the conversation.

Tuesday, March 12, 7:30-9 p.m. What’s Up with Liberalism and the Left? Josh Holland, contributing writer for The Nation, and Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor for The Forward, takes on the revived embrace of the once-maligned term “liberal” by the left and explore the pushes and pulls of the collection—or is it a coalition?—of interests and political leanings that now make it up.

Tuesday, April 9, 7:30-9 p.m. Peeking Under the Hood: The “Invisible Primary” of 2020. Our guests, Jacob Hacker of Yale and Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg News, will look not only at the role primaries play in the rough and tumble of selecting candidates, but also at the early jockeying of the “invisible primary,” as candidates coyly deflect press inquiries, leak intel on primary opponents, and position themselves before the starting gate opens.

For more information, please contact John Stoehr at johnastoehr@gmail.com or (912) 247-0515 or Bennett Graff at bennett_lovett_graff@hotmail.com or (203) 640-3573.

The Great Migration: Then and Now — 45th People’s World African American History Events Feb. 24

Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

“The Great Migration: Then and Now — Fleeing Terror, Searching for Jobs and Equality,” is the theme of the 45th People’s World African American History Month celebration on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. at the Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave., New Haven. The day includes a march at 2:30 p.m., arts and writing competition, guest speaker, drumming and dance.

Some stories will be told of the many African American families in New Haven who trace their roots in the city to the great migration from the South in the 1930s and 40s when companies like Winchester recruited workers to come up from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. They were fleeing Ku Klux Klan terror and looking for a better life.

Stories will also be told of the migrants from Central American countries coming to New Haven and the United States today, fleeing terror and economic devastation in their countries and hoping to find new opportunities for their families.

The “Jobs for Youth — Jobs for All” march will call on Yale to meet its signed commitment to hire from neighborhoods with high unemployment such as Dwight, Dixwell, Newhall, Fair Haven and the Hill. The march leaves the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe St., at 2:30 p.m. and will wind through the Dwight neighborhood to Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave., for the 4 p.m. program.

Guest speaker Chauncey K. Robinson, journalist and social media editor of peoplesworld.org from Los Angeles, California, believes that writing and media, in any capacity, should help to reflect the world around us, and be tools to help bring about progressive change. She says she seeks to make sure topics that affect working-class people, peoples of color, and women are constantly in the spotlight.

The program will include drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and African dance with Ice the Beef. Ice the Beef Youth supports each other through education, dreams, goals, and talent by meeting, sharing stories, laughing, joking, and expressing feelings. They are on Facebook.

Prizes and acknowledgments of entries to the Arts and Writing Competition grades 8 to 12 will be presented. Students are asked to reflect in artwork, essay, poetry, rap or song about grandparents or great-grandparents who came up from the South in the past, or about someone who came up from Latin America or elsewhere recently. “What did they find? How can we continue the struggle for good jobs and equal rights to fulfill the dreams of those who came and made New Haven home?  What are your dreams for a better life?” Entry deadline is Feb. 14. For information e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com.

During the Great Migration (1916 to 1970), six million African Americans left the South. They moved to cities like New Haven in the North and the West. They were fleeing discrimination, lynchings, denied rights and a lack of jobs. They were searching for a better life for themselves and their children.

As they settled they found that segregation and racism were not just in the South. The migration gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement and before that to the art, literature and music of the Harlem Renaissance that stirred the country and the world.

Artist Jacob Lawrence created a series of paintings about the Great Migration in 1940. He said, “And the migrants kept coming…their struggles and triumphs ring true today. People all over the world are still on the move, trying to build better lives for themselves and for their families.”

In 2018 famed activist and scholar Angela Davis said, “I believe that the major civil rights issue of the 21st Century is the issue of immigrant rights.”

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