Tags >> protest
May 12
2010

George Houser

Posted by Bruce Robinson in rights , protest , poverty , politics , peace , nonprofit orgs , justice , international , history , government , author , Africa , activism

Bruce Robinson

george-houserFifty years of support and participation in the drive toward democracy in South Africa has earned some recent recognition for a new Santa Rosa resident, both here and there.

The South African award bestowed upon George Houser is named for Oliver Tambo (left) ,  the African National Congress' president-in-exile during the years that Nelson Mandella was imprisoned.  Tambo died in 1994.  Non-violence was a consistent theme throughout his lifetime of political involvement, George Houser recalls, starting with his early participation in the American Civil Rights Movement.

The Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County will hold their annual Community Celebration and Awards Ceremony--at which George Houser will be honored-- Saturday evening, Nov. 13 at the Sebastopol Veterans Building from 5-8:30 pm. A silent auction and no-host bar with hors d'oeuvers will precede the presentation of the awards, which begins at 7:30. Tickets are $40 at the door. Information at (707) 575-8902.sit-in

Bayard Rustin and George Houser (right)  in a sit-in protest against segregated restaurants in Toledo, Ohio in 1947.

As Houser explains, South Africa was the only region on the continent that was claimed and colonized  by the Dutch, who introduced the concept of apartheid, a state-controlled form of enforced segregation.

Houser, an ordained Methodist minister, was interviewed about the role of the clergy in pressing social justice issues on the PBS/ Tavis Smiley blog.

Apr 21
2010

Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park

Posted by Bruce Robinson in unions , Rohnert Park , research , protest , policy , jobs , employment , California , business , author , activism

Bruce Robinson

Critics of Wal-Mart who oppose the retail giant’s plans to expand in Rohnert Park are fighting an uphill battle, especially on labor issues, warns a University of California historian who has studied the company.

Knowing they will face local opposition in many communities, Nelson Lichtenstein (left)  observes that Wal-Mart has recently turned to a new tactic to minimize the regulatory review they must undergo—moving into existing but empty big box buildings.

That didn’t work so smoothly for the company in Santa Rosa, but the vacated space next to the already-established Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park apparently prompted their bid to expand into it.

In his recent book, The Retail Revolution, Lichtenstein  charts the history of Wal-Mart from its  origins in Arkansas and Alabama, detailing how the attitudes of founder Sam Walton became enmeshed into the core culture of the company. And, he says, they didn’t change as the retailer expanded and grew, and now lie at the heart of many of Wal-mart’s battles with local communities.

Opposition to the  proposed Wal-Mart Supcercenter in Rohnert Park (seen here in an artist's drawing of the project as it might look)  is being led by the Living Wage Coalition. The city's planning staff has recommended approval of the Environmental Impact Report for the expansion.  Read the full staff report here. The city's original approval for the store in 1991 allowed the store to occupy up to 225,500 square feet; is it currently using just 131,500 square feet, and the proposed Supercenter would increase that to just under 178,000 square feet.

 

Apr 13
2010

Daniel Ellsberg Documentary

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , speaker , protest , politics , news , media , journalism , jail , international , history , government , events , election , Congress , author , activism

Bruce Robinson

A single significant act of civil disobedience, one that may have changed the course of American history in the 20th century, is chronicled in the new documentary film, The Most Dangerous Man in America.

Daniel Ellsberg (seen here a in 1971 news photograph)  was arrested and faced serious criminal charges for making public the highly classified “Pentagon Papers.” But the case collapsed in a mistrial, when it was revealed that the Nixon administration had interfered in it, initially by engineering a surreptitious burglary of the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Looking back on those events now, film-maker Judith Erlich (below)  says, it’s entirely plausible to see Ellsberg as the catalyst for Richard Nixon’s downfall.

Having spent considerable time with Ellsberg over the five years it took to make the film, Erlich says she is convinced and appreciative of the sincerity of his motives, both in 1971 and over the years since.

Daniel Ellsberg was interviewed on the North Bay Report in November, 2006, prior to an appearance in Sebastopol. Here is that archival report.

This is the trailer for The Most Dangerous Man in America, currently showing at the Rialto cinemas Lakeside in Santa Rosa.

[video://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXlmQeSpqI4&feature=player_embedded 360x240]

Mar 22
2010

"Deadly Persuasion"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in youth , women , teens , speaker , Science , research , public safety , protest , policy , media , legislation , journalism , Ideas , families , events , education , corporate responsibiliyt , children , business , author , activism

Bruce Robinson

Advertising isn’t just annoying, contends industry critic  Jean Kilbourne, it can be genuinely harmful, especially in promoting additions to alcohol, tobacco or even just shopping.

Kilbourne observe that many of the most prolific advertisers are trying to promote regular consumption of their products, which although legal, are nonetheless highly addictive. So they are, essentially, working to promulgate addictions.

 

Politics is another area in which Kilbourne worried that the growing reliance on campaign advertising is inflicting powerful and distorting influence, implicitly facilitating corruption of candidates while discouraging public participation in the electoral process.

 

Those concerns have been exacerbated by the recent Supreme Court decision affirming “corporate personhood,” and striking down any limits on campaign spending by corporations. Kilboure fears that decision will have far-reaching and terribly destructive consequences.

Jean Kilbourne will deliver her presentation, “Deadly Persuasion” about advertising and how it tries to manipulate us, in the Sonoma State University Cooperage, Tuesday, March 23 at 7:30 pm. Here's a summary/preview:

What are advertisers really selling us?

Advertising is an over $200 billion a year industry. We are each exposed to over 3000 ads a day. Yet, remarkably, most of us believe we are not influenced by advertising. Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions.

In her slide presentations, Jean Kilbourne examines images in advertising with the incisive wit and irony that have delighted and enlightened her audiences for years. With expert knowledge, insight, humor and commitment, she brings her audiences to see that, although ads may seem harmless and silly, they add up to a powerful form of cultural conditioning. She is known for her ability to present provocative topics in a way that unites rather than divides, that encourages dialogue, and that moves and empowers people to take action in their own and in society’s interest.

She explores the relationship of media images to actual problems in the society, such as violence, the sexual abuse of children, rape and sexual harassment, pornography and censorship, teenage pregnancy, addiction, and eating disorders. She also educates her audiences about the primary purpose of the mass media, which is to deliver audiences to advertisers. The emphasis is on health and freedom — freedom from rigid sex roles, freedom from addiction, freedom from denial, and freedom from manipulation and censorship.

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