Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How many lives ruined? Teacher loses all for talking of peace.

A friend in Indiana sent me this in an email a couple days ago:

Teacher Awaits Day in Court
By Matthew Rothschild
January 25, 2006

Deb Mayer was a teacher of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at Clear
Creek Elementary School in Bloomington, Indiana, during the 2002-2003
school year.

On January 10, 2003, she was leading a class discussion on an issue of
"Time for Kids"-Time magazine's school-age version, which the class
usually discussed on Fridays and which is part of Clear Creek's approved

There were several articles in the magazine that discussed topics
relating to the imminent war against Iraq, and one that mentioned a
peace march.

According to Mayer, a student asked her if she would ever participate in
such a march.

And Mayer said, "When I drive past the courthouse square and the
demonstrators are picketing, I honk my horn for peace because their
signs say, 'Honk for peace.' " She added that she thought "it was
important for people to seek out peaceful solutions to problems before
going to war and that we train kids to be mediators on the playground so
that they can seek out peaceful solutions to their own problems."

Mayer claims in a pending federal lawsuit that the school chilled her
First Amendment rights because of this one conversation in class, which
she says took all of about five minutes, and that the school district
refused to renew her contract because of it. (The quotes above are taken
from court documents.)

I spoke with Mayer on January 24-more than three years after this
incident took place.

"It didn't dawn on me that people would object to me saying peace was an
option to war," she says. "I didn't even think it was controversial."

But it sure turned out to be.

"One student went home to tell her parents that I was encouraging people
to protest the Iraq War," she says. "The parents called the principal
and demanded to have a conference. The dad was complaining that I was
unpatriotic. He was very agitated. He kept raising out of his chair and
pointing his finger at me and yelling, 'What if you had a child in the
service?' I said, 'I do have a child in the service.' "

At the time, one of Mayer's sons was a naval nuclear engineer aboard the
USS Nebraska, she says, adding that he's now an officer in Afghanistan.

She told the parent, Mark Hahn, that her son also "doesn't preclude
peace as an option to war," she recalls. "And that made him even

At the end of the meeting, Hahn insisted that the principal, Victoria
Rogers, make Mayer refrain from talking about peace again in the
classroom. "I think she can do that," Principal Rogers responded,
according to Mayer's deposition. "I think she can not mention peace in
her class again."

"I was just floored," Mayer says, "but I said OK because we had a parent
out of control, and I didn't want to be insubordinate. I thought that
would be the end of it."

It wasn't.

At the end of that day, Principal Rogers circulated a memo, entitled
"Peace at Clear Creek," that said: "We absolutely do not, as a school,
promote any particular view on foreign policy related to the situation
in Iraq." And she cancelled the annual "peace month" that the school had
been holding.

On February 7, 2003, Rogers also sent Mayer a letter telling her to
"refrain from presenting your political views."

Mayer and her lawyer, Michael Schultz, contend that this illegally
infringed on Mayer's First Amendment rights.

At the end of the spring semester, the school district did not renew
Mayer's contract, and she and Schultz allege that this was in
retaliation for her political expression.

"This is a classic First Amendment free speech case," says Schultz. "It
involves, for the first time as far as I can tell, the right of a
teacher to express an opinion in a classroom while teaching approved

The school district, the Monroe County Community School Corp., takes a
different view.

While neither Principal Rogers nor anyone at the school district would
respond to my phone calls because the case is pending, the district is
mounting an aggressive legal defense. Represented by the law firm of
Locke Reynolds in Indianapolis, the district is seeking summary
judgment, asking the judge to throw out the case.

I called Heather Wilson, one of the Locke Reynolds attorneys on the
case, but she would not comment, suggesting only that I examine the
court documents.

"Ms. Mayer's one-year contract was non-renewed after ongoing parent
complaints about her and her teaching style, and five students being
transferred out of Ms. Mayer's classroom at the parents' request," says
the brief for the school district. And it summons affidavits from
parents finding fault with Mayer's teaching style.

The brief does not deny the Iraq War discussion took place, or that the
Hahns got upset by it. In fact, it acknowledges that Mayer was
instructed to refrain from discussing her opinions on the war. But the
brief says that during the parent conference on the subject, "according
to Principal Rogers, Ms. Mayer was borderline unprofessional." And it
states further that the Hahns alleged that Mayer continued to talk about
the war in class, a charge she denies.

The gist of the district's case, as outlined in its brief, is this: "Ms.
Mayer's speech on the war was not the reason for her ultimate
termination. Instead . . . the motivating factor for her termination was
her poor classroom performance, the ongoing parental dissatisfaction,
and the allegations of harassment and threats towards students."

Schultz, in his court filing in response to the request for summary
judgment, rebuts this argument. He says the affidavits about poor
performance are pretexts. They "were signed in the summer of 2005, more
than two years after Plaintiff's termination. . . . Those alleged
complaints about Ms. Mayer were not and could not have been relied on by
Principal Rogers in making her decision to terminate Plaintiff's
contract with the school." He also cites an evaluation that Mayer
received that had praised her effusively.

Schultz says that Mayer deserves her day in court not only because of
what he calls the "wrongful termination" but also because her First
Amendment rights were violated.

Mayer says at one time the school district did offer to settle-for
$2,500. She had already spent ten times that amount, so she refused it,
she says. Plus, she wants to defend the free speech rights of teachers.
"If the school prevails on this, teachers have no protected speech at
school and can be fired for saying anything," she says.

The case has cost Mayer dearly, she says. "I have lost my house, my
income, my health insurance, my life savings, and my prospects for

If the judge does not grant summary judgment, the case will begin on
March 6.

I'm presuming this came from a Bloomington, Indiana newspaper, but I could be wrong. I found this Counter Punch article on her case. I wonder how many more individuals were and are being sacked because of discussing war and peace.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Corporate Control Is the Problem.... with Ports, the Media, Health Care, and Government

Well, today let us just focus on corporate control of the ports.
The problem is that it that Dubai Ports World is a corporation. It happens to be a corporation that is owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, a nation that served as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of 9-11 attacks, and that has stirred broad concern. But, even if the sale of the ports to this firm did not raise security alarm bells, it would be a bad idea.

Ports are essential pieces of the infrastructure of the United States, and they are best run by public authorities that are accountable to elected officials and the people those officials represent. While traditional port authorities still exist, they are increasing marginalized as privatization schemes have allowed corporations -- often with tough anti-union attitudes and even tougher bottom lines -- to take charge of more and more of the basic operations at the nation's ports.

Read more... from the Nation via Common Dreams.

And as for media....Clear Channel, Sinclair, and Fox ---- can you say Rupert Murdoch? More on that another time.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Why do I have to read foreign papers to find articles arout these disturbing facts? "A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world."

And these aren't unemployed or homeless folks. Most have jobs.

Some more facts from the same article:

· There are 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. That figure has increased by five million since President George W. Bush came to power.

· The United States has 269 billionaires, the highest number in the world.

· Almost a quarter of all black Americans live below the poverty line; 22 per cent of Hispanics fall below it. But for whites the figure is just 8.6 per cent.

· There are 46 million Americans without health insurance.

· There are 82,000 homeless people in Los Angeles alone.

· In 2004 the poorest community in America was Pine Ridge Indian reservation. Unemployment is over 80 per cent, 69 per cent of people live in poverty and male life expectancy is 57 years. In the Western hemisphere only Haiti has a lower number.

· The richest town in America is Rancho Santa Fe in California. Average incomes are more than $100,000 a year; the average house price is $1.7m.

This all makes about as much sense as those in power showing utter disdain for a democratically elected head of state in Venezuela and being buddy buddy Saudi Arabia a totally nondemocratic nation controlled by a single family through a King.

Something is terribly wrong with the entire country if we don't call the criminals in power on their bogus illegal and immoral governance. These freaking emperors not only are wearing no clothes they are engaged in masturbation and no one is saying a word.

It makes me ashamed to be an American if this is what the U.S. has become.

Counter the Nazis in Orlando

For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, or the power of focused energies, here is an area on which to focus for the next week. For those of you with cameras and the freedom to travel to Orlando, FL, here is an opportunity to shed so much light on the darkness of a hate group that they utterly fail their mission this upcoming weekend.

I received in the inbox this a.m. from a sister organizer in FL:
This is a request for prayers, meditations, and any
other form of positive energy you can send in the
direction of Orlando.

There is a white supremist group, National Socialist
Movement (NSM), planning a rally in Orlando on
Saturday afternoon, February 25th. This is the same
group that rallied in Toledo last October and incited
all sorts of violence. Again, their chosen location
is a poor predominantly black neighborhood. Their
stated goal is to ?take back the streets of Orlando so
they are safe for white people.? This is a Nazi
group, they?re serious, and dedicated. The Orlando
Police Department denied them a permit; NSM filed an
injunction against OPD and won. So they?re coming
whether we like it or not.

The local chapter of CODEPINK and other peace groups
in the area are planning to be in the area. Our goal
is to counter the message of hate with one of peace,
love, and non-violence. My request to you is to
please focus positive energy on that area and to
solicit others to do the same. We need you now.
I'm sending this out in hopes of generating enough attention that the hate mongering cowards will run away like rats or cockroaches in the light.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Raging Granny Round Up -- From Sea to Shining Sea (and in the Desert Too!)

What these wise and war weary women are up to around the country. Really--all over the country. The Raging Grannies are everywhere.

I personally believe the best (and Pinkest) recent Granny action was in our little old pueblo, when the Tucson Raging Grannies the first in the country to attempt to enlist (and to be arrested for it) last July 13th, 2005 were outfitted in pink for peace and Valentines Day delivered a thank you to Senator John McCain. The thank you valentine for the anti-torture legislation he sponsored was delivered to one of his staffers with a stern grandmotherly reminder that he has a long way to go per rendition and bringing the troops home. But even the meeting with the staffer didn't stop the federal tenants from calling the cops on the Grannies (for what we wonder..... wanton and/or illicit valentine distribution?) but the Grannies had dispersed before any officers arrived. [You can read all my Tucson Granny Arrest rants in the July archive of this blog.]

In Oakland the recruiters just closed the military recruiting station during a time when Grannies planned to enter one at a time and attempt to enlist.

Del Ray Beach, FL is getting on the Granny Wagon too.

And these Grannies Rage about all the outrageous processes and actions that got us into an illegal and immoral war, such as the voting fraud that got this administration into office that the Menlo Park Grannies protested.

The tenacious resolve of the Grannies cannot be disputed. Arrest does not intimidate them in their ever expanding actions to bring attention to the senseless loss of life of the children of the women of the world in Iraq and the seemingly forever war. In Vermont, the Barre Raging Grannies actually took over room in a recruiting office and refused to leave. Police removed them.

In Albany, New York "a few recruiting officers stared from behind the glass office door, but refused to come out" when Raging Grannies attempted to enlist.

I am so proud of the women of this country! In the best tradition of the International Feminist Movement that was focused on abolition of slavery and then on suffrage during the first 200 years of our United States, the women of the world (and thus feminist -- ist = relating to --- and feminine = of women) once again have given voice to resounding call for united action. This time the focus of women's attention is peace.

We need to celebrate the Grannies! Perhaps in song? Seems appropriate since that is what they do.

It's the Raging Grannies from Tucson --- A --- Z
(Sung to Little Old Lady from Pasadena)

It's the little old Granny from Tucson --- A --- Z
Go Granny Go Granny Go Granny Go
Has a pretty little flower bed of code pink freesias.
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
But packed under her rickety ramada
are boxes of lyrics and protest signs

Everybody says that there's nobody more peaceful
Than the little old lady from Tucson --- A --- Z
She protests real hard and she sings real loud
She's the terror of Speedway Boulevard

It's the little old lady Tucson --- A --- Z

If you see her on the street don't try to outdo her
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
You might call the cops but you'll never deter her
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Well, she's really not easily intimidated
'Cause she sings and stands when justice 's abraded

And everybody's saying that there's nobody meaner
Than the little old lady from Tucson --- A --- Z
She sings real loud and holds her sign up high
She's a terror on Rumsfeld's watch list

It's the little old lady from Pasadena

Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
The cops come to detain her from miles around
But she gives 'em resistance til they shut her down

And everybody's saying that no one is more righteous
Than the Raging Granny from Tucson --- A --- Z
She protests real good and she protests real hard
She's a terror out on Speedway Boulevard

It's the Raging Granny from Tucson --- A --- Z
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Granny go
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Granny go
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Granny go
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Granny go

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Still Raging!

Those Raging Grannies are still at it...this time at a Maryland recruiting station. They just wanted to enlist. And the eldest member of those "temporarily" arrested is 102! After being arrested the recruiters apparently thought better of it and dropped the charges, so the Grannies were "let off" with a warning. CODEPINK ladies also participated.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Collaborators and Other Creeps

We must start a massive boycott/stoppage of all communication companies who cooperated and turned over any of our information to the NSA.

Which ones? Well this c|net article gives some information about which companies cooperated and and which did not. As soon as we (the progressive media, indy media and progressive bloggers) get some verification I will be stopping all contracted services with any collaborators.

More on this soon!

But in the mean time, here are some of the best links I've found on the spying on us/lying to us/big-brother-is-here issue.

When Google is not your friend. It's only a matter of time before other attorneys realize that a person's entire search history is available for the asking, and the subpoenas begin to fly. This could happen in civil lawsuits or criminal prosecutions.

EFF sues AT&T to stop NSA spying. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a lawsuit against both the old and new versions of AT&T, alleging that they have illegally cooperated with the National Security Agency's (NSA) recently revealed domestic wiretapping program. A related lawsuit was filed against the NSA itself several weeks ago by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In that suit, the ACLU requested an end to the spying program, on behalf of "prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys, and national nonprofit organizations (including the ACLU) who frequently communicate by phone and e-mail with people in the Middle East."

Electronic Privacy Information Center is doing some interesting stuff too.

And well, the name Big Brother Watch says it all and has a GREAT collection of links to other stories... like this one from Wired.

And even though I've mentioned it before... do check out The New Tech Behind the NSA Spying Case. Wiretapping isn't the proper description of what is going on. It is data storage and data mining.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Jennifer Harbury on Torture

Just saw a very interesting presentation on Book TV on C-Span 2 by Jennifer Harbury of the information in her new book: Truth, Torture, and the American Way published by Beacon Press. She presents a lucid detailed accounting of the whole sordid story of U.S. torture. Her recommendations -- broader more flexible base (outraged Republicans too), be heard in a unified coherent message. Points from the Q & A Session: Torture (especially rendition) is covered under the conspiracy law... Rumsfeld should be prosecuted. Intellectual authors, and order givers must be included in justice actions. Torure has created conditions where it will be much more difficult to achieve the aims of the torturer. Torture creates an after war appetite for violence. For example the rape and mutilation of women in Guatemala is greater than in Juarez is related to the number of individuals brought into death squads and no back in the normal citizenry.

She suggests: join first monday of the month telephone campaign. Organize local events -- use the material on the UUSC website.

Friday, February 03, 2006

This Week's Disturbing News: Terrorists Inside the State of the Union Address

The most disturbing news item for me this week concerned who could attend the State of the Union Address and who could not attend.

Cindy Sheehan was forcibly removed from the Gallery at the Capital and arrested. The authorities now say, "oops." Cindy is not going to let this afront to her civil liberties quietly fade away. While I don't agree with everything Ms. Sheehan says or does, one does have to remember that she has only come under the constant scrutiny of an unrelenting media in the last six months and she had not prepared for such celebrity through years of education and training as are most talking heads. She does fairly well for a person who has become iconic for all the major sides in the fever pitched battle for America's soul.

The little guy whose son has died fighting for America is abused legally and physically. The wealthy beyond imagining individual who has multiple direct connections to the leader of our country's most avowed enemy is welcomed with honor into those same halls.

Prince Turki al-Faisal (with Bush in White House photo), a central member of the Saudi royal family and the kingdom's current ambassador to the US personally managed Riyadh's relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban and was named in the $1 trillion lawsuit filed by hundreds of 9/11 victims' families, who accused him of funding bin Laden's network, and was head of Saudi intelligence until 10 days before the 9/11 attacks.

The second most disturbing news is that Rosemary Woods ghost apparently has run amok in Cheney's email archive. Fitzgerald, special prosecutor in Scooter Libby's investigation/prosecution has suggested that not all of Cheney's emails from 2003 may have been archived due to a glitch.

Oh, news that is just plain chilling is that the first case relating to termination of pregnancy that Alito will hear nears the bench.

These are only some of the the underreported news items of the week, of course. These are just the significant stories behind the non-news blasted in continuous loops from the corporate media.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Who are the best soldiers to send to D.C. to take back our country?

I watched/listened to the State of the Union Address at an LD 27 Democrats organized function at The Vaudeville last night in downtown Tucson. It was very well attended. Bush Bingo was played by all busily checking off how many buzzwords were used by Bush. An occasional marshmallow was thrown at the screen. Boisterous opposition filled the air throughout the address. It was good to see and hear opposition from some mainstream folks.

I did become very concerned at the end of the evening when I gave a G. Giffords representative in attendance a set of pink balls (or ovaries) to remind her that the majority of the Democrats want a pronounced return to democratic values, beliefs and representation by our Democratic leaders not Republicrat middle of the road pro-corporate platform. When I asked this representative about why Giffords didn't announce her intention, like Jeff Latas, to run before Kolbe announced that he would not run for re-election -- I became aware of a very disturbing viewpoint in at least some of her camp. The response I got, although I do want to say straight up that he abolished for it later, was that No, she didn't attempt a "suicide run."

This is what has been wrong with mainstream Democrats here in AZ and elsewhere for far too long. These people who did not announce their intention to run against Kolbe because they believed that they could not defeat Republicans are chicken. And unless they have come out against the continued presence of the U.S. in Iraq, they are Chicken Hawks. Such a defeatist attitude should not be rewarded. Jeff Latas was brave to serve his country in the Middle East and to serve for 20 years. His brave decision to run before Kolbe announced his retirement suggests a fierce dedication to America and I hope last night's unfortunate words will be the only character assassination attempt because a candidate stood up for what he believed in before the CD 8 race became a no incumbent race.

I personally cannot imagine wholeheartedly supporting a person who apparently follows the Old Boy/Old Girl network belief that one inherits a turn to run and party support merely by some sort of seniority. Giffords inherited her father's tire business which she sold to the competition, I don't want her to do the same thing with a Congressional Seat.

I would love to be able to vote for a woman, and I do think it is imperative we get both houses filled with representative numbers of women, but right now, this year, I want the person who can best represent us and is best positioned to take back America and rebuild our severely damaged Democracy to represent me. I personally hope every one of the Band of Brothers: Veterans for a Secure America who are running for office this year, including Jeff Latas, wins. These guys and gals will have the authority to speak the truth about this war in a way that other candidates will not. These guys cannot be depicted as soft on any security or military issue. Check out their petition (and sign it!) to have the RNC to stop attacking Veterans and their heroic records for political reasons with campaigns of lies and support them!


Sheehan Gives Details of Her Arrest Last Night BEFORE the State of the Union Address

This from Common Dreams this a.m.:
What Really Happened
by Cindy Sheehan

Dear Friends,

As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight.

I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country.

There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press. (Shocker) So this is what really happened:

This afternoon at the People's State of the Union Address in DC where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh, Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: 2245 Dead. How many more?

After the PSOTU press conference, I was having second thoughts about going to the SOTU at the Capitol. I didn't feel comfortable going. I knew George Bush would say things that would hurt me and anger me and I knew that I couldn't disrupt the address because Lynn had given me the ticket and I didn't want to be disruptive out of respect for her. I, in fact, had given the ticket to John Bruhns who is in Iraq Veterans Against the War. However, Lynn's office had already called the media and everyone knew I was going to be there so I sucked it up and went.

I got the ticket back from John, and I met one of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's staffers in the Longworth Congressional Office building and we went to the Capitol via the undergroud tunnel. I went through security once, then had to use the rest room and went through security again.

My ticket was in the 5th gallery, front row, fourth seat in. The person who in a few minutes was to arrest me, helped me to my seat.

I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?" By the way, his name is Mike Weight.

The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, "That's Cindy Sheehan." At which point the officer who arrested me said: "Take these steps slowly." I said, "You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps." He said, "That's because you were protesting." Wow, I get hauled out of the People's House because I was, "Protesting."

I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

After I had my personal items inventoried and my fingers printed, a nice Sgt. came in and looked at my shirt and said, "2245, huh? I just got back from there."

I told him that my son died there. That's when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.

What did Casey die for? What did the 2244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm's way for still? For this? I can't even wear a shrit that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.

I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there and I thought every once in awhile they would show me and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George's speech. If I had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable that I would be arrested...maybe I would have, but I didn't.

There have already been many wild stories out there.

I have some lawyers looking into filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the government for what happened tonight. I will file it. It is time to take our freedoms and our country back.

I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ulitmate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government. That's why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That's why I am not going to let Bushco take anything else away from me...or you.

I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred of protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support....we have so much potential for good...there is so much good in so many people.

Four hours and 2 jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight.

Keep up the struggle...I promise you I will too.

Love and peace soon,