COVID-19 and Global Injustice

by Andy Piascik, freelance writer and PAR reader

After two years, COVID-19 continues to ravage planet Earth. Over 5.5 million people have died, millions more have suffered major health consequences and millions beyond that have experienced severe economic hardship. In the United States, the official tally is 850,000 and the real toll is probably over one million.

Much media attention has focused on large segments of the population who refuse to get vaccinated and/or wear masks in public. In both cases, millions of people are downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19 and asserting individual rights in a thoroughly irresponsible manner, egged on by reactionary politicians and media figures. According to all data, the roughly 95% of current cases are the unvaccinated.

The pandemic has highlighted the destructive ramifications of a grossly unjust economic system. Domestically, a health care system based on profits led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. Millions of workers in the United States lost their jobs and, when normal unemployment benefits proved inadequate, the federal government was forced by popular outrage to provide a short-term supplement. When the pandemic ebbed somewhat, working-class parents faced the terrible dilemma of fearing to send their children back to school while not being able to keep them home because of having to return to work.

Internationally, hundreds of millions in the global South are unvaccinated because elites in control of the vaccines have primarily only made them available on a for-profit basis. Millions of doses remain warehoused in the US because of those who refuse to get vaccinated and as many as 100 million doses will soon expire. The richest of the rich, meanwhile, have prospered so much that 2020 saw the introduction of a new word to the English language: centi-billionaire.

While we will hopefully get a handle on COVID-19, we nonetheless confront a planet more unstable and dangerous. As in every other instance of human progress, organized collective action is key. All individuals, organizations and movements have a role to play. No one in power is going to do it for us.

New Haven Peace Activist Dealing With Son’s Cancer While Jail Still Possibility

by Ed Stannard, New Haven Register, Jan. 14, 2022

Mark Colville served 18 months in jail for his 2018 protest of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, and he’s still battling what he considers an idolatrous government.

Because he refuses to submit to drug tests or consent to disclosing his finances, Colville faces a hearing that could end up with him being put back in jail for violating the terms of his supervised release.

Colville was one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, who entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia on April 4, 2018. Colville poured blood, hammered and wrote biblical texts on the monuments to the Trident D5 nuclear missile and was arrested, tried and convicted.

Since his release from the jail in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Sept. 10, 2021, however, he and his family also have been dealing with a more personal issue: his son Isaiah’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“It was diagnosed right about the time I was getting out of prison, so it was a big shock,” Colville said. Isaiah Colville, 19, will have his last chemotherapy treatment Monday, and the journey his family has taken has been complicated by the elder Colville’s legal issues.

“It’s a very aggressive form of cancer,” Mark Colville said. “You get tumors that grow very quickly, but the treatments, the chemotherapy regimen, is also very effective.” According to Luz Catarineau, Isaiah’s mother, the treatment gives her son an 80 percent chance of a cure. “But it’s still a very aggressive form of cancer. He’s not out of the woods yet,” Colville said.

Colville’s hearing originally was scheduled for early December. “We asked for a postponement until my son’s treatments were done … and the court wouldn’t give me that, the government wouldn’t agree to a postponement that long.” He was given until this past Monday.

Mark’s hearing has since been moved to Feb. 4. Updated information is at https://kingsbayplowshares7.org.

To read the above article in its entirety, please go to https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/New-Haven-peace-activist-dealing-with-son-s-16768112.php.

McDonald’s Workers Win Jobs Back in COVID-19 Layoff Case

by Ian Kullgren, Bloomberg Law, Jan. 3, 2022

A federal labor judge ordered the reinstatement of four McDonald’s workers laid off by a Connecticut franchisee in 2020, sending a warning shot to employers who use the pandemic as a pretense to purge union activists.

The workers, who had participated in a public union campaign before the pandemic, were furloughed in early 2020 from a McDonald’s Corp. restaurant at an Interstate 95 service plaza in Darien, Conn., as COVID-19 disrupted travel.

Many of their colleagues were furloughed as well. But their employer, Michell Enterprises, a franchise company that owns several McDonald’s restaurants in the Northeast, called back furloughed workers a few weeks later—except for the four union supporters.

In a lengthy opinion, National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Donna Dawson suggested the workers were unlawfully fired, ordering that they be reinstated and provided with back pay. She wrote that the employer “kept track of and were aware of various union rallies, events and press releases which included quotations and even photographs” of the four union supporters.

“I find based on the totality of the circumstances, including the almost complete unreliability of Respondent’s witnesses, that their arguments are without merit and that their reasons for its actions are based on pretext,” the judge added.

The workers are backed by Service Employees International Union 32BJ as part of a broader effort to organize workers under multiple brands at Connecticut highway rest areas, as organized labor seeks a crucial foothold at McDonald’s and other fast-food chains. Three of the workers also filed a lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court under a state law requiring employers to re-hire laid-off pandemic workers before replacing them.

[To read the article in its entirety, please go to https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/mcdonalds-workers-win-jobs-back-in-covid-19-layoff-case]

Happy 100th Birthday, Al Marder

by Lucy Gellman, The Arts Paper, January 19, 2022

Al Marder listened from the corner of the screen, his head bobbing as Millie Grenough lifted her hands and began to conduct the impromptu New Haven Peace Commission choir. A cacophonous chorus of “happy birthday” rang out over the screen, voices lifted to give a centenarian his due.

Al Marder poses with New Haven peace activist and Peace Council member Mary Compton at the Peace Day celebration at the Amistad Memorial statue outside New Haven City Hall Sept. 21, 2015. The statue was built thanks to his guidance and supervision. Marder is chairman of the Amistad Committee. (photo: cjzurcher)

Al Marder poses with New Haven peace activist and Peace Council member Mary Compton at the Peace Day celebration at the Amistad Memorial statue outside New Haven City Hall Sept. 21, 2015. The statue was built thanks to his guidance and supervision. Marder is chairman of the Amistad Committee.
(photo: cjzurcher)

Marder—a lifelong champion of worker rights, disarmament, anti-racism and literally keeping the peace in New Haven—turned 100 Tuesday evening with a clear call to do good in the face of climate disaster, economic depravity, global precarity and violence that has gripped both New Haven and the country. Speaking at a meeting of the New Haven Peace Commission, of which he is a founding and current member, he showed no sign of stopping as he entered his second century of life.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend the evening with you,” he said as commissioners kicked off the night with birthday wishes and a musical interlude. “The struggle for peace is not easy. We’re living in a society that’s built on guns and killing and we’re trying, you and I, to educate young people that there’s another way of living. A peaceful way, a just way, to treat each other as individuals without hatred, without killing.”

Marder has made peace—particularly labor rights, demilitarization, and a fervid commitment to anti-racism—his life’s work. Born in 1922 to Ukrainian immigrants in the city’s Hill neighborhood, Marder started growing his roots as an organizer before his 10th birthday. Some of his earliest memories are of an economically hard-hit New Haven as the city headed into the Great Depression. In an interview with Mary Donahue of Connecticut Explored in 2016, he recalled watching unemployed men come from the rail yard to his parents’ Oak Street grocery store, looking for something to eat.

Even at a very young age, Marder became committed to fighting for the wellbeing of his fellow New Haveners, and saw it as a struggle tied to the rights of workers and to the end of the military-industrial complex. At 16, he became the chairman of the Connecticut Young Communist League, publicly declaring a lifetime commitment to the cause that later made him a victim of invasive FBI surveillance. His years as a student at James Hillhouse High School were formative in and outside the classroom, as he spent organizing with a fire he still carries every time he speaks today.

[You can read the article in its entirety at www.newhavenarts.org and click on Arts Paper]

52 Years In, Love Marches On

by Lucy Gellman, The Arts Paper, Jan. 17, 2022

Tenikka Hampton lowered her mask and lifted her face toward the sky, her breath wispy and white in the morning air. Portraits of President Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. peered from a sign that read “We Shall Overcome: The Dream Still Lives” in her hands. Around her, Humphrey Street was still waking up to the bone-cracking cold. She began to sing, collapsing hundreds of years onto a single city block.

“We are marching/On Dr. King’s birthday,” her voice rang out, and a chorus joined in around her. “We are marching/ Each and every day!”

Ten-degree temperatures couldn’t stop Hampton and members of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church from keeping spirits high at the 52nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Love March Saturday morning, held on what would have been Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 93rd birthday. Braving the cold and the wind, close to five dozen marchers began at the church’s Lawrence Street home, wound through the streets of East Rock singing, and ended with a short speaking program and mask and test giveaway outside the church.

“You are a drum major for justice,” said Pastor Kennedy D. Hampton Sr., whose father, the late Rev. George W. Hampton Sr., started the march in 1970. “We can’t get comfortable. We can’t become complacent. We can’t become satisfied. Because until there’s equal justice for all, we have no reason to be satisfied.”

…Mincing no words, State Sen. Gary Winfield said he was tired of hearing about the “Santa Claus version of Dr. King,” the mild-mannered beacon of harmony and racial reconciliation that Republicans tweet glowingly about once a year. He wants his children—and all children—to know the Dr. King who rallied for labor rights and against capitalism, who led the Poor People’s Campaign, who the then-nascent F.B.I. saw as one of the most dangerous men in the United States for his basic belief that Black people should have equal rights.

[You can read the article in its entirety at www.newhavenarts.org and click on Arts Paper]

CT NOFA’s 40th Winter Conference: Innovation and Determination

CT Northeast Organic Farming Association is proud to present our 40th Winter Conference to be held virtually over the course of two weeks, starting Feb. 11 until Feb. 26. In week one, we will offer over 20 workshops on farming, seed saving, organic land care, community food security, social justice issues, and more. In week two, we will host small in-person meet-ups around the state to gather and share much-needed social connections.

Join us as we learn, grow, innovate, and think critically about what our food and farming will look like in the future.

Conference registration includes over 20 live sessions and exclusive access to all recordings and pre-recorded content.

This year, we are implementing a sliding scale pricing model, allowing us to practice economic solidarity, providing mutual support for the cost of our programs. In this way, we make our education more accessible and help cover costs of operation. Choose the pricing tier that fits with your income and access to wealth, and help us create a more just, inclusive, and equitable conference. Many thanks to Soul Fire Farm, and Rock Steady Farm for their vision and leadership in advocating for equitable pricing models. Minimum registration fee is $15. Scholarships are still available thanks to our generous donors and sponsors. There is a link to request a registration fee waiver on the registration page for the conference at ctnofa.org.

URI Seeks Requests for Street Trees

Thanks to a partnership between the City of New Haven and the Urban Resources Initiative, you can request a tree to be planted for free, as long as you commit to watering the tree to ensure it survives. Planting a tree not only helps to shade, beautify, and add value to your home and the street, but it also provides paid work experience to adults with barriers to employment. URI’s tree experts will work with you to plant a tree that thrives at your location and fits your interests.

The spring planting season is only a few weeks away, so request your tree today! New Haven properties only.
To make a request, visit uri.yale.edu/get-involved/request-free-tree. For more information, contact: uri@yale.edu or 203-432-6189.

Heiwa Salovitz, June 10, 1969 – January 3, 2022

Heiwa was a New Haven activist until 2010 when he moved to Austin to work with its chapter of the disability rights organization ADAPT. His involvement in many New Haven organizations for peace, justice, disability rights, human rights, equity and respect for all impacted everyone who knew him. Heiwa was Muslim, had cerebral palsy, and used a wheelchair. He was active, outspoken and effective in making change. The PAR Planning Committee extends our deepest condolences to all his family and to his many friends.

From The Record-Journal, Jan. 7, 2022

Heiwa Salovitz, of Austin, Texas, formerly of Wallingford and New Haven, passed away January 3, 2022.
He is survived by his mother Elaine Harris (late Richard Harris), his siblings Charlie, Robin, Amy (Gary), Larry (Debra). He was the beloved uncle to Autumn (Marvin), Heather, Noah, Ava, and Sophie, great-uncle to Harmony, Jadyn, Shaelynn, Brooklyn, and Sirene. He was predceased by his bio parents Simon Salovitz and Dee LeDoux.

He will be missed by his many friends and extended ADAPT family, where he was a fierce advocate of change and reform for people with disabilities.

The Consequences of Endless War

by Joan Cavanagh, New Haven Sunday Vigil for Peace and Justice

On August 29, 10 members of the Ahmadi family, seven of them children, were killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. One branch of the Pentagon investigated another and essentially decided that the mistake was an unfortunate by-product of a usual days’ work that did not go quite as planned.

This strike gives us a small window into the methods and consequences of the war that the U.S. government is waging daily and the sense of normalcy with which its architects regard it. So does the air-strike on Baghuz, Syria in 2019, which killed an estimated 60 civilians and whose previously successful cover-up was revealed by the New York Times on November 13 of last year.

These “incidents” are the tip of the iceberg. In 20 years, U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan have caused thousands of deaths among non-combatants, the full extent of which remains unknown despite valiant attempts by watchdog groups, whistleblowers, and non-governmental organizations to document them. Many have gone unreported or underreported. The whistleblowers have been sentenced to prison.

This is the 21st-century face of endless war: anonymous killing by remote control, off the radar of most of us, although it is being done by our own government. The consequences for the immediate victims are obvious. Survivors face less visible but deeply scarring outcomes.

The role of these virtual warriors is unprecedented. Studies of post-traumatic stress disorder among them are necessarily in their infancy but an estimated 4% are already suffering from PTSD. Surely the cumulative psychological toll of witnessing the devastating results of their work will have a long-term impact that we cannot predict.

Historically, U.S. citizens, who have learned the truth of wars being fought, and war crimes committed in our names, have struggled to end them. We cannot possibly achieve a decent society while our nation is inflicting this kind of damage on the rest of the world. Please, learn as much as possible about these wars that the policymakers would prefer you didn’t concern yourself with, and act to help stop them.

Joan Cavanagh is part of the New Haven Sunday Vigil to “Resist this Endless War.” This is an edited version of a longer Forum piece in the New Haven Register on November 28, 2021, https://www.nhregister.com/opinion/article/Opinion-The-consequences-of-endless-war-16653302.php.

Art Perlo, 74

by Paul Bass, New Haven Independent, Dec. 23, 2021

Art Perlo, Ward 24 co-chair and executive board member of the Yale Unions Retirees Association, passed away on Dec. 18, 2021, after a year-long battle with bladder cancer.

Alder Evette Hamilton called him a “gentle giant” for his kindness, commitment, humor and broad knowledge that touched the lives of so many in the city, state and around the country.

Born in New York on November 2, 1947, son of Marxist economist Victor Perlo and artist Ellen Perlo, Art moved to New Haven in 1975 after living in Chicago and Portland, Oregon, to join his life partner Joelle Fishman, participating in her People before Profits campaigns for Congress and mayor.

As an independent economist and activist, Art devoted his talents to the cause of the rights and equality of working class people of all races, genders and national backgrounds.

An IT worker at Yale’s Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry lab for 35 years, he helped organize and was a founding member of the clerical and technical workers union Local 34 Unite Here in 1984. Although not eligible for the union with his managerial and professional job classification, he was appreciated for honoring the strikes of Local 34 and Local 35, joining his co-workers on the picket line for respect and improved wages and benefits. He was an early proponent for restructuring Yale’s hiring practices to open job opportunities for Black and Latino New Haven residents.

Since the 1990s ….

READ THIS ENTIRE OBITUARY HERE:  www.newhavenindependent.org/obituaries/art_perlo_74

Contributions to the causes closest to Art’s heart can be made at: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/art-perlo-presente-carry-it-forward/

Due to the rise in COVID a gathering will not be held at this time. On January 1, 2023 an open house continuing the annual tradition of Art and Joelle will be held to celebrate Art’s life and carry on the movement-building his life exemplifies.

 

Lynda.com gets an upgrade

Previously named Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning has returned as an upgraded platform with double the number of courses available in six more languages. Choose from thousands of online courses to learn in-demand skills from real-world industry experts. You can find course recommendations tailored to your interests so you know exactly what to learn next. LinkedIn Learning tracks the courses you have in progress and lets you set weekly goals to help make lifelong learning a part of your regular routine.

To log in you will need your library card number and your PIN (the last four digits of your library card number).

Help Counter the Upcoming Effort to Pass Medical Assisted Suicide Legislation

by Joan Cavanagh, Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide

In the middle of a pandemic that has killed close to a million people in this country, in the face of a medical system that repeatedly shows itself unable and unwilling to try to save the lives of the most vulnerable, members of the CT State Legislature are gearing up once again to try to legalize Medical Assisted Suicide. The session begins in February, and “Compassion and Choices” has already hired at least one extra lobbyist to help push it through. You may remember that they got it out of the Public Health Committee for the first time last year.

Incredibly, some of the same leaders who say they are planning an all-out effort to reform Connecticut’s mental health system by increasing funding and staffing (see https://ctmirror.org/2022/01/11/ct-legislative-leaders-mental-health-system-in-deep-crisis-is-priority-in-2022-session/) will also be pushing for this legislation.

Constituent pressure is the only thing that will cause the liberal Democrats in favor of this to change their minds. New or seldom heard voices are especially important to weigh in on this!

PLEASE: 1. If you have a personal connection to any of the Democratic legislators (not limited to those members of the Public Health Committee, where this legislation is likely to be introduced), start talking to them now to let them know of your objections. And prepare to keep talking to them as the bill with its specific language takes shape.

2. If you’re part of a political organization or religious group whose membership identifies as largely liberal or progressive, introduce this as a topic on their agenda. Speak up about it yourself and invite members of Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide (which formed in New Haven in August) to address them in person or via Zoom. We are interested in meeting with these folks as soon as we can.

Joan Cavanagh is also a member Second Thoughts CT and the New Haven Sunday Vigil for Peace and Justice.