How do you make this song a reality? To be sure, singing songs about peace will not bring peace. But reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, visiting the conflict area and talking to the people on the ground are concrete steps that can make a difference.
In this song, Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian singers and musicians joined together to perform the Hebrew-Arabic song “Hevenu Shalom Aleinu” (We Brought Peace Upon Us) – “Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam” (There is Nothing More Beautiful Than Peace). Sung in both Hebrew and Arabic, this Middle Eastern, Sepharadic-style, jazzy and inspiring song challenges us to rise above the propaganda, renounce hatred, supremacy, violence, and terrorism, and “rock the boat” until Israelis and Palestinians understand there is only one path to security and peace, and that is through sharing the land and upholding the human rights of all inhabitants of the Holy Land.
This song is dedicated to the thousands of ordinary people around the world, including many Jews, who are helping to promote human rights, equality and justice.
Thank you for listening! Shamai Leibowitz
PERFORMERS (in order of appearance):
TRANSLITERATION OF SONG
yesh beneynu hiburim
she’horeynu lo halmu
yesh beneynu diburim
she’ad koh lo nishme’u.
anahnu kan bishvil koolam
anahnu gesher ve’soolam
bishvil mi she’holem
bishvil mi she’halam.
A police spokesperson said the use of pepper spray was “appropriate” as those penned asked “why are you doing this?” The police official implied that they should be glad their ribs weren’t broken for daring to question New York’s finest.
Expect more police brutality as protests against Wall Street heat up.
The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was one of those formative events that triggered the modern era of research protections. But these protections aren’t working when it comes to poor minority families.
In shades of Tuskegee, word comes of a study conduced at Johns Hopkins in which families with African-American children may have been deliberately induced to move into lead-tainted public housing so the lead levels in the children could be assessed. Families of those showing elevated lead levels were never told and were never offered treatment.
The fact that this study could be conducted at a major university is further evidence that the system of research protections is broken. These protections often appear to be protections only for the researchers and institutions, not those subject to the research, who apparently are considered expendable. Dr. Gary W. Goldstein, the head of the institute where the research was conducted said the
“research was conducted in the best interest of all of the children enrolled.”
Evidently, in his view, poisoning young children with lead and keeping knowledge of their poisoning from them is in the “best interests” of poor African-American children. We need have no doubt that “Dr.” Goldstein would never consider such treatment appropriate for his children or the children from his social circle.
One wonders how this study got funded and how it got approved. The “Informed Consent Form,” which would better be called a “Disinformation Form,” lists no risks of participating in the study. Nor does it list any procedures should participating children be found to have elevated lead levels, as happened to some of the children.
Racial Bias Seen in Study of Lead Dust and Children
By Timothy Williams
A class-action lawsuit was filed Thursday against a prominent Baltimore medical institute, accusing it of knowingly exposing black children as young as a year old to lead poisoning in the 1990s as part of a study exploring the hazards of lead paint.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that more than 100 children were endangered by high levels of lead dust in their homes despite assurances from the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the houses were “lead safe.”
The institute, a research and patient care facility for children that is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, periodically tested the children’s blood to determine lead levels.
But, the lawsuit said, Kennedy Krieger provided no medical treatment to the children, who ranged in age from 12 months to 5 years old. Lead exposure was a significant cause of permanent neurological injuries in some of the children, according to the suit. Johns Hopkins, which approved the study, is not a defendant in the lawsuit.
“Children were enticed into living in lead-tainted housing and subjected to a research program which intentionally exposed them to lead poisoning in order for the extent of the contamination of these children’s blood to be used by scientific researchers to assess the success of lead paint or lead dust abatement measures,” said the suit, filed in state court in Baltimore. “Nothing about the research was designed to treat the subject children for lead poisoning.”
Dr. Gary W. Goldstein, president and chief executive of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, said in a statement on Thursday that the “research was conducted in the best interest of all of the children enrolled.”
“Baltimore city had the highest lead poisoning rates in the country, and more children were admitted to our hospital for lead poisoning than for any other condition,” he said. “With no state or federal laws to regulate housing and protect the children of Baltimore, a practical way to clean up lead needed to be found so that homes, communities, and children could be safeguarded.”
“Over all, the blood lead levels of most children residing in the study homes stayed constant or went down,” the statement read, “even though in a few cases, they rose.”
The lead paint study, which started in 1993 and continued for six years, was designed to determine how well various levels of lead abatement would reduce lead in the blood of young children. The buildings where the study was carried out were generally in poor neighborhoods of Baltimore. Litigation surrounding the research has gone on for more than a decade, and in 2001 the Maryland Court of Appeals compared the study to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which withheld medical treatment for African-American men with syphilis.
According to the lawsuit, Kennedy Krieger helped landlords get public financing for lead abatements and helped select families with young children to rent apartments where lead dust problems had been only partly eliminated so that the children’s blood could be measured for lead over a two-year period, according to the lawsuit.
“What they would do was to improve the lead hazard from what it was but not improve it to code,” said Thomas F. Yost Jr., one of the lawyers who filed the suit.
Mr. Yost said that although parents signed consent forms, the contracts failed to provide “a complete and clear explanation” about the research, which aimed to measure “the extent to which the children’s blood was being contaminated.”
David Armstrong, the father of the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, David Armstrong Jr., said that after his son, age 3, was tested for high levels of lead in 1993, he went to a Kennedy Krieger clinic for help. The father said the family was provided state-subsidized housing by Kennedy Krieger and was told they would be part of a two-year research project. Mr. Armstrong said he was not told that his son was being introduced to elevated levels of lead paint dust.
Mr. Armstrong said blood was collected from his son for two years, but that no one told him the lead levels had increased. After the two-year mark passed, Mr. Armstrong said he continued to live in the two-bedroom apartment but did not hear from Kennedy Krieger.
During those two years, he said his son, now 20 years old, received no medical treatment for lead. Later, when Mr. Armstrong took his son to a pediatrician, the doctor detected blood lead levels two and a half to three times higher than they had been before the family moved into the apartment.
“I thought they had cleaned everything and it would be a safe place,” Mr. Armstrong said. “They said it was ‘lead safe.’ ”
Jeffrey Sachs reminds us that even the “new, improved” Obama spouting tax-the-rich language to aid his reelection has a budget plan that is an absaolute disaster for the country and those of who live in it:
Grim Realities in the Obama Budget Plan
By Jeffrey Sachs
President Obama is defending a basic principle of budget fairness against the wretched selfishness of the Republican candidates. The Republican anti-tax position is so stark and greedy that Obama will win the political debate and probably the polls next year. He deserves our support for facing down the extreme right.
Yet we should not kid ourselves about the real direction of this country. Obama may be leaning against the right-wing juggernaut, but he is not changing its direction, only slightly blunting its force. Obama has already given in where it counts by agreeing with the Republicans in August to slash the core of the discretionary civilian budget (non-military spending other than the entitlements programs).
Readers can check this out for themselves by downloading two recent documents from the White House website. I must give advanced warning: they are turgid documents and hard to decipher, even for an expert in budget analysis. Their real meaning is hidden in the fine print, which is why I write about the documents here.
“The Mid-Session Review for Fiscal-Year 2012,” released on September 1, describes the state of the budget after the August debt deal, and on the eve of the new super-committee. Monday’s plan, “Living Within our Means and Investing in Our Future,” takes the story forward by making specific recommendations to the super-committee. Taken together they form the President’s fiscal blueprint, and most likely his re-election platform. If for some reason you’re not worried yet about America’s future, start worrying.
The essence of Obama’s plan comes to this. Obama would protect most but not all entitlements spending against the Republican axe, and would modestly trim military spending. On the tax side, he would raise tax collections as a share of GDP slightly, around 1 percent of GDP. Roughly half of that would come from repealing the Bush tax cuts on incomes above $250,000, and the other half from eliminating various tax breaks, such as for the oil industry.
Both tax changes are good but modest. It is a testimony to Republican extremism that they virulently oppose even these modest measures. And sadly, even with these modest revenue-raising actions, Obama holds out the prospect of cuts in tax rates to offset these revenues.
Now here comes some basic arithmetic, taken from Table S-5 of the Mid-Session Review. (To his credit, Obama called on the Republicans to face some basic arithmetic, so my observations follow in the same vein). Obama’s tax policy would raise a projected 19.8% of GDP a decade from now (2021). He would spend around 3.5% of GDP on the military (compared with 5.6% this year). He would spend 14.4% of GDP on mandatory entitlements programs, mainly Social Security (5.3%) plus Medicare (3.5%) plus Medicaid (2.4%). Interest payments will eat up another 3.4% of GDP.
Note that the military plus entitlements plus interest account for more than the total tax payments! We would still have a budget deficit even before getting to the parts of the budget that help America to be productive, educated, energy secure, and environmentally safe. To be specific, once we account for the revenues needed to pay for mandatory programs, the military, and interest, there are no revenues left over to pay for the rest: highways, long-distance transmission lines, dams, levees, inland waterways, water and waste treatment facilities, national parks, climate safety, renewable energy, clean air and water, conservation, pre-school, student loans, federal courts, prisons, homeland security, international diplomacy, hazard preparedness, disaster response, biomedical research, energy research, agricultural research, public administration, job training, job matching, data collection, space science, computer science, and dozens more areas of federal responsibility.
It’s not that Obama plans to close these down entirely. Rather, his plan would bleed them dry gradually. Without adequate budget revenues, the plan proposes to pay for these programs through deficit financing. To shrink the budget deficit, Obama must therefore shrink the “discretionary” spending. Specifically, the deficit is set at 2.2% of GDP in 2021, with domestic discretionary spending set at 1.8 percent of GDP. This compares with non-security discretionary spending equal to 3.4% of GDP today.
Here’s how I look at this. America today is suffering today from a shortfall of federal efforts on renewable energy, job training, pre-school, higher education, climate change mitigation and adaptation, epidemic disease control nationally and globally, highways, fast rail, water and sewerage systems, and much more. We feel the burden of under-investments in countless ways: poorly trained youth; an epic scale of highway congestion in many places; unprecedented flooding and droughts; and declining global competitiveness.
Instead of addressing these challenges, the Obama plan would cut government roughly in half from today’s level! Obama’s plan calls for 20% of GDP in revenues in 2021. This is simply too low for a decent, productive, and fair America. Taking into account our real needs, revenues as of 2021 should be around 24% of GDP, opening the space for real investments in America’s future.
That level of revenues would still leave the U.S. with one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the high-income world. The higher taxes could be collected heavily from the rich and the corporate sector, still leaving them with ample incomes and profits. Obama’s plan, in short, does not solve problems. It outflanks the Republicans.
Don’t get me wrong. Outflanking the Republicans is vital work, and merits our full backing. George Bush almost brought us to catastrophe, and there should be little doubt that Rick Perry would finish the job.
Still, we need to do better than merely to survive. Those of us who believe that the federal government has a vital role to play in ensuring a productive, fair, and sustainable society need to press ahead beyond Obama’s plan. Let’s find our voice to press for much more. To the cynics today who say that can’t be done, I urge you to revisit the history of Progressivism, when social activists a century ago changed the course of America in the face of similarly grievous ills and corrupted politics. Our shared contribution today should be a new progressivism, to put core values of decency and responsibility back into the American political system.
Jeffrey Sachs is author of “The Price of Civilization” due out October 4.
Review of The Patriots: An Inside Look at Life in a Defense Plant by Jean Alonso. Leap Year Press, 2011. Available at Amazon here.
Did you ever demand any answers?
The who, the what or the reason why?
Did you ever question the setup?
Did you stand aside and let them choose while you took second best?
Did you let them skim the cream off and then give to you the rest?
Did you settle for the shoddy?
Did you think it right
To let them rob you right and left and never make a fight,
never make a fight, never make a fight?
Suddenly jobs are on the political agenda. Politicians from the President on down state that creating jobs for American workers is their top priority. Often any jobs, as with the low-wage jobs that Texas Governor Rick Perry brags he “created.” Sometimes they want to create “good paying” jobs. But in this discourse having a job is everything, because it allows one to pay the bills and avoid poverty.
Those who worked with Jean Alonso making missiles in a Massachusetts defense plant – referred to as American Missile and Communications Corporation but sounding suspiciously like Massachusetts-based Raytheon –knew how important it was to have a job in this society. But they also recognized that ”good jobs” should mean far more than good-paying ones. And they knew, from their own bitter experience, that many jobs can be toxic, destroying the mind and soul, and sometimes the body as well, of those who work them.
Alonso’s book The Patriots: An Inside Look at Life in a Defense Plant begins as the missiles fly at the start of the first Gulf War. The fragile community in the plant is strained by tensions between the patriotic workers and Alonso with her antiwar views and activities. Alonso copes with her own anguish by conducting an informal survey of how her coworkers feel about their work. She learns that these coworkers are filled with a profound sense of hopelessness and despair:
“I feel like a zero.”
“I’m very depressed and anxious.”
“I’m so unhappy here I get aches and pains from it.”
“Apathetic. I can’t do anything at home anymore but watch TV.”
“I was a musician, you know, so I still need to write everyday – if you don’t you have no soul. But I go home and I’m too tired.”
“I feel like there’s something crushed inside – I feel really defeated. It’s like giving up on your whole self in order to make a living – you can’t figure a way out.” (pp. 10-11).
These responses, expressing feelings that had never been spoken among these workers, start Alonso and a small group of coworkers on a journey to make sense of what was happening to them at work and why. Through monthly meetings buttressed by Alonso’s library research they explore the deadening effects of repetitive work accompanied by social powerlessness in the workplace. They try to understand Alonso’s realization that “something in this work is changing us, as if we were living by Love Canal” (p. 37).
Over the next couple of years this group of defense plant workers examine their dashed hopes and dreams as well as an extensive body of social science literature in an attempt to figure out just how the work was changing them. They confessed to each other that their ability to reason had diminished after years in the plant. The lack of mental stimulation was reducing their very intelligence. And, indeed, as Alonso learned from her reading, a German researcher had found that IQ declines following years of unskilled labor. This cognitive decline didn’t seem so surprising to the workers when one of them recalled being told by a supervisor “You don’t get paid to think.” These workers discovered through their own experience that mindless work induces mindlessness.
Alonso later realized that the experience of the American Missile workers wouldn’t have seemed strange to Adam Smith, who in 1776 wrote of the mind-destroying effects of unskilled work as an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of the then new industrial system:
The understanding of the greater part of men is necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man’s whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations and he naturally loses, therefore, the habit [of solving problems] and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become… But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the laboring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall (p. 180).
In addition to cognitive problems the plant workers confronted elevated depression, anxiety, and apathy. Alonso’s research convinced her that these symptoms were similar to those experienced by victims of what psychologist Judith Herman called “complex chronic post-traumatic stress syndrome” or CCPTSD. She quotes Herman as saying that those suffering from CCPTSD “have a history of subjection to totalitarian control over a prolonged period of time” (p. 125).
The shop floor environment that Alonso and her fellow workers experienced daily was, indeed, totalitarian. Every motion was monitored. Bathroom breaks were strictly regulated. Supervisors yelled at workers as if they were disobedient children. Conversations were monitored and often forbidden. Escape, while not impossible, became ever more difficult as years in the plant went by and economic chains bound the workers.
In her efforts to better understand the totalitarian aspects of her work environment, Alonso studied military culture and found many similarities to the culture at American Missile. The similarities were not accidental. She realized that the company deliberately sought out supervisors with military backgrounds. The fact that the company was part of the military-industrial complex, producing missiles for US wars, probably made military culture especially desirable to management.
At the time that Alonso writes about, relations between workers in the plant were especially stressed as many of the workers sought a sense of meaning and community through patriotic identification with the company’s missile-producing mission and with the war in progress and became less tolerant of those questioning the war. Pressure to not rock the boat increased as demand for the missiles rose.
Like many manufacturing companies, American Missile had a union. Unfortunately, this was as much a part of the problem as part of the solution. Union officials refused to pursue cases of sexual abuse, wouldn’t recognize the women’s committee founded by Alonso and others, and systematically harassed militants. Thus, much of the energy to improve the workplace was channeled into often futile attempts at union reform.
Throughout The Patriots: An Inside Look at Life in a Defense Plant Alonso weaves her personal account of nearly two decades in the factory with an account of the research into the effects of the work environment on workers. The result is one of the most thought provoking books you will find to read this year. As the politicians talk endlessly about “jobs” while providing few, Alonso reminds us that a good society will provide not just jobs, or even well-paying jobs, but jobs that enhance the spirit and development of those who work them.
Surely today, 235 years after Adam Smith described the mind-destroying nature of unskilled work, an “improved and civilized society,” – as Smith described the new industrial capitalism – should be one that proves him wrong. Such a society would be one in which all who work find that their jobs enhance their thinking, spirit, and sense of humanity. Such a society would be one in which workers are not merely the tools of the already wealthy and powerful, but makers of a more decent world for themselves, their fellow workers, and the rest of society. While the politicians beholden to the powerful are not likely to be concerned with this goal, surely the vast majority of us ought to be.
What did you learn in the morning?
How much did you know in the afternoon?
Were you content in the evening?
Did they teach you how to question when you were at the school?
Did the factory help you grow, were you the maker or the tool?
Did the place where you were living
Enrich your life and then
Did you reach some understanding of all your fellow men,
all your fellow men, all your fellow men?
Ray Fisher: Singer who established herself as one of the most important figures in the British folk revival
By Ken Hunt
Scots, not to be confused with Gaelic, groans with rich and redolent expressions. The best word to describe Ray Fisher, who has died of cancer, was kenspeckle, not in its sense of “conspicuous”, but in the sense of “standing out from, or standing apart from the multitude”.
She was among the British folk revival’s most important singers and interpreters, the drollest of parodists and an all-too-modest authority on our folk traditions. No wonder then that, deep in his Hollywood fame period, Billy Connolly drove hundreds of Californian miles to a distant folk club to see Ray and her sister Cilla sing the family brand of folk-song-and-beyond songs, a repertoire irrigated by their love of language and Scots idioms.
Born in Glasgow in 1940, Fisher was one of six daughters and a token son in a family with catholic musical tastes embracing light operatic and parlour fare, Scots and, through their mother, Gaelic songs. In receptive company, Fisher could unleash an impressively exaggerated Count John McCormack impersonation. Topic’s The Fisher Family (1966), long out of print though reissued in Japan in 2002, captures the feistiness of the family singing together. Ray’s lead vocal on “Joy of My Heart” and “Come All Ye Fisher Lassies” are defining performances.
For Fisher, like many of her generation, the skiffle movement was a conduit to folk music. Her brother Archie’s and Bobby Campbell’s skiffle group, The Wayfarers, landed an opening spot for Pete Seeger in their hometown, as well as in Edinburgh and Aberdeen (Archie was a year older than Ray). The group Seeger co-founded, The Weavers, and especially its female vocalist, Ronnie Gilbert, proved monumental inspirations. Of their 1957 LP, The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, Fisher admitted, “At one time I could start from the very beginning and go right through. Introductions word-for-word. Everything.” Cliff Stanton, a local record shop owner, organiser of Cliff Stanton’s Pan Club and under-acknowledged legend of the Glasgow folk scene, lent Fisher’s fellow singer Hamish Imlach what were then prohibitively expensive US import LPs by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. It was, Fisher explained, “part of the upgrading of our education.”
In her final school year Fisher met the Scottish Traveller Jeannie Robertson, yet to receive her 1968 MBE for services to traditional music. Norman Buchan, then a teacher and, with his wife, Janey, a stalwart of Glasgow’s budding folk scene, invited a number of rising young singers to their Partick home. There Fisher sang “Jeannie My Dear, Will You Marry Me?” It was a Robertson morsel. She told Howard Glasser in a 1974 Sing Out! interview: “Jeannie sang the entire song after I’d sung it… talk about upstaging!”
Robertson saw potential, however, and invited Fisher to visit. Ignoring prejudices about the Traveller community, the teenager stayed at Robertson’s Aberdeen home for some six weeks during the summer holidays. “She’d say, ‘You’ve got a good voice. I’ll give you these songs’. She didnae have to do that,” Fisher told me. “She had a daughter of her own, [the superlative traditional singer] Lizzie Higgins.”
Ray and Archie Fisher were one of the folk acts to gain greatly from television exposure. Opportunity knocked with Here and Now, the Scottish regional variant of BBC TV’s Tonight magazine programme. Following the runaway success of Cy Grant, Rory & Alex McEwen and, especially, Robin Hall & Jimmie Macgregor, television embraced folk, topical song and calypso. Television’s voracious appetite for new material schooled them in new disciplines and standards of professionalism. Watching the duo on television provided a steer for the Leith-raised folk singer and guitarist Dick Gaughan to perform professionally.
Her commercial recording debut came in 1961 with the duo’s “Far over the Forth” EP, but she also recorded on a non-commercial basis for Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies. The EP’s natural expression of regional idioms and identity impressed many, including Gaughan and Anne Briggs.
Further direction for Fisher came through politics, whether singing for Labour Party, pro-CND and anti-Polaris events or attempting to go on Aldermaston marches. “Underneath all of what was going on within Scotland,” she told me, “there was a realisation that there was strength in the music as a vehicle for politics. There was a left-wing stream and there was a Scottish nationalist stream. Folk music was just tailor-made for that.”
In 1962, the year she married Colin Ross, the fiddler, piper and future mainstay of the High Level Ranters, and settled in Tyneside, she toured England with the Centre 42 project. An outgrowth of the TUC’s resolution that unions support the arts and decentralise them from London, the folkies formed ranks alongside Shelagh Delaney, Christopher Logue and Arnold Wesker. Performing on Centre 42 stages led to Fisher contributing to Bert Lloyd’s The Iron Muse (1963) and the radio ballads created by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker, On the Edge (1963).
Never fond of the studio, she managed to avoid recording her solo debut until 1972. Produced by Ashley Hutchings, The Bonny Birdy teamed her with accompanists of the calibre of Martin Carthy, Tim Hart, Hutchings and Peter Knight from Steeleye Span, Alistair Anderson and Colin Ross from the High Level Ranters, as well as Liz and Stefan Sobell and Bobby Campbell. They made an album with folk-rock credentials that did not swamp her distinctive singing style.
Better was to come with Willie’s Lady (1982) which, in style and delivery, was truer to her live act. The title track is one of the Scots language’s finest texts about the ancient belief system, and outwitting malice and witchcraft. Also typical of what made her unique was her interpretation of Alan Rogerson’s version of, as she wrote, “one of the great parting songs”, “When Fortune Turns the Wheel”. Her third solo album, Traditional Songs of Scotland, emerged quietly in 1991.
Fisher was fond of humour and parodies, deconstructing with Cilla the Beverley Sisters’ “Sisters” as “Twisters”, or refashioning the Scots feminist anthem, “I’m a W.O.M.A.N.”. As a writer Fisher contributed to The Singing Kettle, the children’s entertainment ensemble fronted by Cilla, Artie Trezise and Gary Coupland; her story “Christmas Holiday Time” is preserved on The Singing Kettle’s Christmas Crackers video.
Ray Galbraith Fisher, folk singer: born Glasgow 26 November 1940; married 1962 Colin Ross (two sons, one daughter); died North Shields 31 August 2011.