Bay Area activism, near and far

There’s plenty of liberal activism a-brewin’, as usual.

El Cerrito piano tuner and longtime pro-Palestinian activist Paul Larudee, a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement, and his cohorts are about to set sail from Cyprus en route to the Gaza Strip in an effort to “raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.” It won’t be a cakewalk for this international band of activists; Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Sunday that Israeli defense officials “favor forcefully blocking” the boats’ arrival, as “allowing the ships to reach the Gaza coastline could create a dangerous precedent.”

Closer to home, CODEPINK is gearing up for the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week. Bay Area doyenne of dissent Medea Benjamin and her group will be holding a “Peace Room” pre-convention party “to make art, friends, plans, and a peace platform” from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 19, in the CODEPINK/Global Exchange office on the second floor of 2017 Mission St. in San Francisco. Later this week, they’ll have an “All Aboard for Peace” send-off for six Bay Area activists getting on Amtrak to Denver; that’ll be at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22, at the Emeryville Amtrak station, 5885 Horton St. According to their news release, they’re headed to Denver and later to the RNC convention in St. Paul, Minn., to “demand, in full creative force, that an end to the occupation of Iraq, no war with Iran and a commitment to peace be at the top the political agenda… CODEPINK will also be speaking out against the financing of the conventions by oil, telecom and pharmaceutical companies, exposing how corporate money corrupts the political system.” They’ve even put their schedule of actions at the conventions online.

And, speaking of the conventions, some prominent Bay Area activists — including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg of Berkeley and “peace mom” Cindy Sheehan, who’s now running an independent Congressional campaign to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — are among those who’ve issued an open, online letter calling on people to go to Denver “to protest war, torture, and repression.” Other signatories include Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney; historian and activist Howard Zinn; and Vietnam veteran and activist Ron Kovic (“Born on the Fourth of July“).


Big May Day rallies planned for tomorrow

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s West Coast dock workers — including those at the ports of Oakland and San Francisco — have voted to stop work tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, to protest the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joined by other labor organizations and community groups, they’ll be rallying against the war and for workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

In Oakland, there’ll be a rally and cultural performances from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART Plaza; a 4 to 6 p.m. march from there along International Boulevard to City Hall; and then another rally and set of performances at Frank Ogawa Plaza from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Among the confirmed speakers are Green Party presidential candidate and former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney; ILWU Local 10 executive board member Clarence Thomas; Alameda County Central Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Cornu; Oakland Education Association President Betty Olson-Jones; Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition advocacy coordinator Evelyn Sanchez; and Mujeres Unidas y Activas program director Maria Jimenez.

There’ll be major happenings in San Francisco too, including a noontime rally at Justin Herman Plaza with McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Alexander Cockburn, Danny Glover and other speakers.


Loads of upcoming political events

Get out your calendars and start scribbling:

  • Thursday, March 6, 7-9 p.m. — Green presidential candidate and former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney headlines an evening of art, spoken word, humor, and music to celebrate International Women’s Day at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. Performers include Bushra Rehman, a Brooklyn-based Pakistani poet and co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism; Brooklyn-based spoken word/performance artists Climbing PoeTree; and Oakland-based R&B world music singer Jennifer Johns.
  • Thursday, March 6, Noon — Political commentator and former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers discusses her new book, “Why Women Should Rule the World,” at the Commonwealth Club of California’s offices, on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. Tickets cost $8 for club members, $15 for nonmembers or $7 students and are available through the club’s Web site.
  • Saturday, March 8, noon-1 p.m. — Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, holds another “Congress At Your Corner” meet-and-greet to hear constituents’ comments and concerns at the Safeway supermarket at 1801 W. 11th St. in Tracy.
  • Wednesday, March 12, 7 p.m. — Israeli Gershon Baskin and Palestinian Hanna Siniora — both authors, activists and educators, and leaders of the first joint Israeli-Palestinian think tank, Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information — share a first-hand assessment of the state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the Kehilla Community Synagogue at 1300 Grand Ave. in Piedmont. This is part of a national tour sponsored by the national organization Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. A $10 donation is requested at the door.
  • Saturday, March 15, 9-11 a.m. — Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, cofounder of the Out of Iraq Caucus and member of the House Appropriations State Foreign Operations Subcommittee, hosts a special town-hall briefing on the fifth anniversary of the failed U.S. occupation of Iraq at the Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave. in Oakland. The event includes a special screening of War Made Easy, a documentary exploring parallels between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq.
  • Thursday, March 20, 5:30-9 p.m. — The Eden Area United Democratic Campaign holds its 10th Annual Democratic St. Patrick’s Day Dinner in the Carpenters Hall at 1050 Mattox Road in Hayward. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer will be the special guest, and state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, will emcee. Individual tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door; seniors and students, $20 in advance or $25 at the door; children 12 or under get in free. Patrons can pay $150 for four tickets; sponsors can pay $300 for a table of eight. For more information or reservations, 510-264-0444 or 510-635-3121 by March 17.
  • Thursday, March 27, Noon — U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey speaks on “Public Corruption and Public Confidence” before the Commonwealth Club of California at the Intercontinental Hotel, 888 Howard St. in San Francisco. Tickets cost $15 for club members, $30 for nonmembers or $7 for students and are available through the club’s Web site.
  • Wednesday, April 2, 6 p.m. — Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry — distinguished and senior fellows, respectively, at the Hoover Institution — discuss “Toward a Nuclear-Free World” before the Commonwealth Club of California in the Gold Room of the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. in San Francisco. Tickets cost $15 for club members or $30 for nonmembers and are available at the club’s Web site.
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    The week in review

    Lots goin’ on this past week, so I thought maybe we could recap some of the highlights…

    We saw Bill Clinton in Oakland trying to mobilize a mostly-minority crowd for Hillary, and we saw Barack Obama in San Francisco trying to mobilize women.

    We saw Tom Lantos endorse Jackie Speier to succeed him, and we saw Leland Yee promptly declare he’s not running — but wait, here comes Yul Kwon, a San Mateo management consultant who won the $1 million prize on “Survivor: Cook Islands” in 2006, reportedly considering a run. He’s a former aide to U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. — which quite frankly might be more hinderance than help in Lantos’ district.

    We saw Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorse Proposition 93, which would lower the total number of years a state legislator could serve from 14 to 12, but would let him or her divide those years between the houses as they choose — and would grandfather current officeholders so people like Don Perata and Fabian Nunez could serve another term. The governor’s own party this week called Proposition “a self-serving measure, authored by a small group of state legislators seeking to extend their terms in office beyond the limits set by voters in Proposition 140.”

    We saw the Green Party hold a presidential debate in San Francisco, with former George Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney a clear front-runner.

    And we saw Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums give a passionate State of the City Address… but it’s not his passion with which some disgruntled residents are taking issue.


    The Greens are coming to SF

    It promises to be a left-wing bonanza at 2 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 13 as the Green Party hosts “Campaign 2008: A Presidential Debate that Matters” in the Herbst Theater/Veterans Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco.

    mckinney.jpgThis will be the first and only live debate between the Green Party’s presidential candidates, including former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga.; Maryland independent journalist and university assistant professor Jared Ball; West Virginia activist Jesse Johnson; San Diego air-quality inspector Kent Mesplay; and the big kahuna himself, consumer rights icon Ralph Nader (who isn’t actually a candidate, although some have tried to draft him).

    nader.jpgAnd as if that’s not enough to guarantee a lively debate, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan — now running as an independent against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will co-moderate, along with 2006 Oakland City Council candidate Aimee Allison; former San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez; and San Francisco Board of Education President Mark Sanchez, now a candidate for city/county supervisor.

    The event is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10-25. Click here for more information. It’s sponsored by the Green Party of Alameda County, the San Francisco Green Party and the Sacramento County Green Party, and it’s endorsed by the Green Party of San Mateo County.