Teachers for Social Justice Curriculum Fair is November 22

TSJ is now officially taking applications for Workshops, Exhibitors and Resource Tables for the 9th Annual Chicago Area Teaching for Social Justice Curriculum Fair.

(if you are not clear on exactly what Workshops, Exhibitors and Resource Tables are, follow this link:
http://teachersforjustice.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=48&Itemid=55 )

These will also be posted on the TSJweb site: http://teachersforjustice.org/

Please note the deadline for Exhibitors and Resource Tables! OCTOBER 31!!


10AM – 5PM
Orozco Elementary School
1940 W. 18th St (Corner of Damen)
Chicago, IL


Reminder: Cuba in Africa/Africa in Cuba Sunday October 4

Cuba in Africa,
Africa in Cuba
Cuba in Africajpg

Film: Cuban Odyssey in Africa, pt. 1


Panel featuring Professors:
Lisa Brock, Felix Masud, William Watkins William Santiago-Villes

University of Illinois at Chicago
Lecture Center A – Room A1

Lecture Center A is located immediately east
of Daley Library – 801 S. Morgan St.

Pay Parking available – 700 block S. Halsted
between Polk and Taylor

New Issue of Mexican Labor News & Analysis

What is going on with workers in Mexico? Below is a link to Mexican Labor News and Analysis, a UE feature offering news directly from Mexico, with a labor focus and perspective.


* Mexican Government Prepares to Seize Mexico City Power Plants to Break Power of Electrical Workers Union

* Press Release from Mexican Electrical Workers Union

*Struggle over the Budget and Fiscal Policies: Calderón v. the People

* Social Movement Coalition Proposes A Legislative Agenda

*Disappointment, Anger over Calderón’s Choice of Secretary of the Interior

*After Midterm Election, Left Attempts to Reorganize

* Mexico City Teachers Demand New Union Elections

*PEMEX Paid Petroleum Union Leaders Millions

*International Domestic Workers Organization Criticizes Mexico

* Mexican Trade Union and Civil Society Leaders Join G-20 Protests in Pittsburgh

* Chihuahua: Journalist Killed Inside Newsroom

* Railroad Retirees Protest Collection of Union Dues


Marc Sapir sent this report from Cleveland and the Mad As Hell Docs Care-a-Van

As you are reading this, the docs may well be trying to present their findings to white house politicians.  Whether they get to do this or not, they have shaken the country up a little bit.  And the report below, especially the conversation with Dennis Kucinich, is quite enlightening.

—2 a.m. September 23, Cleveland, OH: As the Mad as Hell Docs tour for single payer nears is destination (in Washington, DC), I again reflect on the journey.  In the past several days we’ve been as far south as Nashville and Louisville.  Then to back Zenia and Dayton, Detroit, Chicago, Toledo and now Cleveland. Tomorrow we’ll be off to Pittsburgh and then on to Frederick, Columbia and Silver Spings, MD on the last leg toward Lafayette Park across from the White House on September 30. This evening’s town hall style meeting organized by the local single payer network was presented at the Laborers’ Union Hall here in Cleveland before another enthusiastic crowd.  We were joined on our panel on stage by, as usual, a local activist doc; and rejoined by Katherine Ottoway the Oregon doc who had returned home last week to spend time with her 11 year old.  Bill Aikin, the Washinton state male nurse who joined us about 4 days ago gets one of the more rousing rounds of applause when he merely opens with “I’m a Mad as Hell nurse.” Tonight’s audience again included several other nurses, organizers, representatives of the National Nurses Organizing Committee (California Nurses Association) in their colorful garb. There was again a number of Congresspeople, aides, and state legislators in the audience (7 if I’ve remembered correctly). Also joining us is Bob Wickline from Oregon (and his wife Lynda) who sings and plays his high energy Single Payer country western electronically integrated single payer song. Staff has grown too as we’re joined by Bill Whitaker’s (our Mad as Hell Social Worker)wife Cheryl. Last night’s dinner was prepared (yes I do mean he alone cooked for about 20 people himself, including brownies for desert)Toledo physician activist John Ross, at his home. Earlier John had been a most compelling spokesperson for Single Payer at the town hall at the Union Hall in Toledo. Toledo has a strong single payer advocate for a Congressperson too. Leaving Toledo on Monday morning we travelled East along the shore of Lake Erie to an outdoor presentation in the park at Clinton Habor to 75 local folks who had prepared a brunch for us (passing within 100 feet or so of a nuclear power plant on the lake shore that is within sight of Clinton Harbor). At this venue the organizer/mc, a woman whose name I can not recall, began by leading the crowd in singing the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance while gale force winds of about 40-50 miles an hour made 58 degrees feel like 45; leading MAHDoc Paul Hochfeld told the audience that he always ads a few words onto the Pledge of Allegiance as follows: “with liberty and justice for all who can afford it,” which was appreciated with laughter. There were about 4 tea bagger types (3 women and a man) in the audience who caused no disruptions but in the comment section one middle aged woman shouted something from the audience but wouldn’t come to the mic although she was told that disagreement is welcomed. A couple of Single Payer advocates talked with these folks and found they simply rejected, or repudiated unasailable facts in our presentations, such as that the U.S. has by far the most expensive health care (non)system in the world at $7,000 per capita per year, so cost of a Medicare for All program is not a problem.

The highlight of Monday, September 28 activities was a tele-conversation between our group and Congressman Dennis Kucinich held at his office with Dennis appearing from D.C. on one of those huge wide screens. Everyone of us put in our two cents worth of a question or comment and he responded with his comments over the 40 minute time span. To my own delight the Congressman highlighted forcefully many of the points that we include in our presentation across the country (Our individual 2-4 minute comments are–or should be– found on the http://www.madashelldoctors.com website). Kucinich’s key points, as best I can remember, included: 1) that Congress is currently so much under the sway of and afraid of the lobbyists that no one should expect anything useful to come out of this legislative session. Any bill that passes will benefit the insurance companies more than the public  2) that he values and supports the importance of our Care-a-Van in motivating and energizing a new grassroots civil rights movement around full access to health care as a right. 3) that building a civil rights movements for health care for all involves building infrastructure and organization that will last for the long haul over as long as it takes 4) that that long term effort includes an indefinable future time after a Single Payer bill is passed and signed because there will be never ending efforts to weaken the program even afer it is put into effect, 5) that docs can play very important role in this movement and should redouble their efforts to bring more physicians into the now 17,000 member Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) 6) that trying to get the President to create a “white ribbon commission” from which the Insurers and the Drug companies are excluded isn’t likely to achieve much, but that docs might consider spearheading local commissions, with public health and medical experts and patient advoctes in some states to travel around gathering testimony at public hearings and presenting reports and recommendations to the public and government on their findings. This approach could help mobilize public opinion and energize people.

The debate among MAHDs over what we will do in DC is narrowing toward a consensus plan. The morning after the rally at Lafayette Park from 4-6 p.m. on September 30 we will join Congressman Kucinich at a press conference at the Capitol. From the press conference we will likely proceed to the White House and attempt to present our findings, video testmonies of hundreds of people who have given witness, and recommendations there, even if we do not get an audience with President Obama. Later we will return to the Capitol for both scheduled meetings and unscheduled meetings with various Congresspersons, including MAHD members own Congressepeople, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. There may also follow a laying of flowers, candles and white ribbons at the Lincoln Memorial or other site in memorialization of the 45,000 people who have died/will die this year in the US due to lack of health care insurance. Readers who want to participate in the care-a-van from Frederick to Silver Springs or join us in walking from McPherson park to Lafayette park at 3:30 p.m. should check the http://www.madashelldoctors.com web site regularly for updated plans.


Marc Sapir MD MPH


Mad As Hell Doctors in Chicago

Audience Listens to Mad As Hell Doctors presentation, UIC College of Pharmacy, Saturday Sept. 26

Audience Listens to Mad As Hell Doctors presentation, UIC College of Pharmacy, Saturday Sept. 26

Mad As Hell Doctors bring their Care-avan to the SK Tool picket line, Friday, Sept 25, 2009

Mad As Hell Doctors bring their Care-avan to the SK Tool picket line, Friday, Sept 25, 2009

When the Mad As Hell Doctors explain why they are “mad as hell,” they tell all kinds of ways in which there is no serious health care in the US for the vast majority of people.  One of those examples could be what happened to the SK Tool workers 30 days ago, that made Teamsters Local 743 go out on strike.  Their employer arbitrarily and without notifying the workers or their union canceled their health care insurance from their benefits package.  Their CEO is from France, and one of the strikers made a point of telling me that, as a French citizen he had access to the best health care system.

As the docs are fond of pointing out, the SK Tool workers would not have lost their coverage with single payer:  everybody in, nobody out.  In fact, speaking before an audience of supporters, the MAHD asked their audience:  “Do you think the health care system is broken?”  When the question was answered with a resounding “Yes!”, the speaker told his listeners he had asked a trick question, that there is NO health care system.  Further, he and his colleagues went on to show dramatically that the plans before the Congress now will neither cut costs nor provide health care to the people who need it most.

Speakers made it clear that their trip cross country from Oregon was met by mostly enthusiastic people; that among the fervent opposition it was sometimes possible to show people how single payer was the only health care reform; but that this was just the beginning of what needs to be a national movement.  One Chicagoan I talked to expressed her enthusiasm for the tour this way:  “This is truly historic, when doctors take up the fight for single payer, you know there is a movement brewing!”

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Here is the Publishers Weekly review of Kingsolver’s first novel in nine years.  Not a surprise that she returns to a political terrain, and those of us who have been fans for years will have difficulty waiting until November 3, the on sale date for the new book.

Publishers Weekly
Kingsolver’s ambitious new novel, her first in nine years (after the The Poisonwood Bible), focuses on Harrison William Shepherd, the product of a divorced American father and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked out of his American military academy, Harrison spends his formative years in Mexico in the 1930s in the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S., settling down in Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical potboilers (e.g., Vassals of Majesty) and is later investigated as a possible subversive. Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon). “Employed by the American imagination,” is how one character describes Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist. (Nov.)

Women & Children First — save this bookstore

WRITING THE NEXT CHAPTER Linda Bubon is doing whatever she can to save her bookstore.

Linda Bubon is no stranger to battling the economy. The co-owner of Women and Children First sounded the alarm two years ago, when it became clear the bookstore might not make it through the end of the year. Co-owner Ann Christophersen took another full-time job and pared down her duties at the store, but it still wasn’t enough. So in April 2007, WCF made a plea to its customers: Save us.

“The story got legs really fast,” Bubon says. “In-store sales that May were up nearly 70 . . . .
Read more: http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/features/74843/save-women-and-children-first#ixzz0SSQ4zqHT
Help keep this bookstore a bookstore by shopping there. 5233 N Clark St (773-769-9299).  Also

Dorothy Allison and Alison Bechdel will be joining WCF for their 30th Anniversary Celebration & Benefit. It’s all happening Saturday, October 3rd at the Breakers at Edgewater Beach. (Valet parking available.) The festivities begin at 5:30 pm, with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and the chance to mingle with Dorothy Allison, Alison Bechdel, and more than a dozen local writers. Buffet dinner and dancing begin at 7 p.m.  For tickets and more info:http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp

Mad As Hell Doctors in Chicago

You may not have heard of the SK Tool Company before.  If the Teamster Local 743 and the Mad As Hell Doctors have anything to say about it, the name will be emblazoned in your memory.  Not because it is an exemplary employer.  No.  As Norma Trinidad, one of the striking workers, explained to me today, they have been off work for 30 days protesting the company’s arbitrary withdrawal of their health insurance.  Workers only found out about this when they noticed their co-pay not being deducted from their checks, or perhaps were refused care when they went to see their doctors.  The owner of SK, by the way is French, Ms. Trinidad told me, so he doesn’t have to worry about health care.  The French system is famously universal.

So Local 743 strikers were delighted to receive the Mad As Hell Doctors Care-avan when it rolled into town.  And as workers and the doctors and local Chicago supporters talked to each other, held signs supporting single payer health care, truckers and other motorists drove by honking their horns.  Washington has not yet heard the demands for health care coming from 47th Street in Chicago.  Maybe they have ear plugs on.  Maybe we all can help with a political ear-plug-ectomy, at least to force a floor discussion of HR 676, the single payer bill that only one or two politicians in Washington want to talk about.


11 AM  Saturday Sept. 26
Town Hall Meeting
at the University of Illinois
School of Pharmacy
Hall 134
833 So. Wood

There will be a press conference following the Town Hall at the Pharmacy School.  Some of the Docs will appear on the Dick Kay show, “Back on the Beat,”  3 pm.

The mixture of art and politics thrives

Here are four titles that demonstrate the social, political and economic contexts in which creative writing takes place, a land of struggle, yes, but also and more importantly: a land of hope and dreams.

1.  Fire and Ink


Fire and Ink
An Anthology of Social Action Writing
Edited by Frances Payne Adler; Debra Busman; Diana García
448 pp. / 6.0 x 9.0 / 2009
Paper (978-0-8165-2793-9)  $32.95

Fire and Ink is a powerful and impassioned anthology of stories, poems, interviews, and essays that confront some of the most pressing social issues of our day. Designed to inspire and inform, this

collection embodies the concepts of “breaking silence,” “bearing witness,” resistance, and resilience. Beyond students and teachers, the book will appeal to all readers with a commitment to social justice.  It’s appeal may well also be its sheer size, which perhaps mitigates the $32.95 cost a little . . .

2.  Seeds of Fire

Seeds of FireContemporary Poetry from the Other USA

Seeds of Fire brings together the work of over fifty poets from the other USA – including Adrienne Rich, Fred Voss, Grace Paley, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez and Martín Espada.

Lyrical, satirical, raging and prophetic, they bear witness against the crippling nationalism promoted by the ruling political parties and corporate media in the United States. They seek solidarity with the impoverished and war-torn working classes around the world against the forces of imperial slaughter, environmental catastrophe and social disintegration.

Because this was published in England, it will be difficult to find, but can be ordered.  At 124 pp and about $10 (used) it is affordable and portable as well as incisive!

3.  Poetry Like Bread
Poets of the Political Imagination from Curbstone Press

Poetry Like Bread: poetry of the political imaginationEdited by Martín Espada

“Poetry, like bread, is for everyone.”
from the poem “Like You” by Roque Dalton
Since 1975, Curbstone Press has published works by a unique group of writers: political activists, feminists, guerrilla combatants, “independistas” from several countries, as well as ordinary working people from many parts of the world — the U.S., Latin America, Vietnam, Europe, Eastern Europe. What all these poets share is an affinity for that place “where art and politics intersect.” Unique among poetry anthologies, Poetry Like Bread contains works by poets whose imaginations are fueled by political realities.

The current edition is expanded from the original edition and sells new for $15.95 and spans 281 pages.

4. American Working Class Literature An Anthology

Amer. Working Class Litedited by Nicholas Coles and Janet Zandy  $57.95  Aug 2006 ISBN13: 9780195144567ISBN10: 0195144562

America’s workers have been singing, reciting, performing, telling stories, writing, and publishing for more than three centuries. Ranging from early colonial times to the present, this groundbreaking anthology presents more than 300 literary texts that exemplify this tradition. In its attempt to be inclusive, this volume swells to over 900 pages and begins with excellent introductory remarks by the editors on the concepts “American,” “Working,” “Class,” “working class,” and “literature.” These notes prepare the reader situate these writings from the 17th to the 21st centuries within this relatively new discipline called “working class studies.”
Despite its bulk, the volume manages to miss significant authors, but in so doing the editors select writings and genres we might not even consider and therefore open doors for us to walk through.
One recommendation:  there are many songs included in this anthology, and to appreciate them properly it is wise to read and listen at the same time — Leadbelly, Pete Seeger’s “American Industrial Ballads,” Bucky Halker’s many recordings of labor songs, Utah Phillips (I’m especially fond of his disc with Ani Difranco called “Fellow Workers”), and Cisco Houston’s “The Folkway Years” are some places to start. Given the historic importance of the coal mines and the musical tradition, it’s not surprising to find the songs and stories of the miners an important part of this anthology. Coal Mining women “Coal Mining Women” includes the voices and songs that have become anthems, e.g. Florence Reece singing “Which Side Are You On.”
Read from these four books; you will have no difficulty choosing sides!

Langston Hughes — Let America Be America Again

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

[ view the whole poem — http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15609 ]