Tag Archives: berkeley

Book Reading with Takashi Tanemori

28 Nov

Saturday, December 7, 6:30pm
The Path to Forgiveness, The Way to Peace:
An Evening with Takashi Tanemori

tanemoriTakashi Tanemori, survivor of the 1945 nuclear attack on Hiroshima, Japan, and long-time peace activist, will be present during a reading of his memoir, Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness. Losing both parents and two sisters to the atomic blast and its aftereffects, Tanemori became an Oyanashigo – a street urchin – who struggled to stay alive by searching waste sites and garbage cans for food in the ashes of postwar Japan. At the age of 18, he emigrated to the United States, becoming a laborer in the agricultural fields of Fresno. Currently a Berkeley resident, Takashi’s road to forgiveness spans decades of life experience, forging the bitterness of revenge into a devotion to peace and harmony. Founder of the Silkworm Peace Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to international peace, Takashi shares his life story through speaking engagements, conflict resolution seminars, workshops on The Seven Codes of the Samurai (“Peace through Forgiveness”), his writing and artwork.

Elizabeth Weinberg, John Crump and David Duckworth will read excerpts from Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness. Takashi Tanemori will speak on exercising forgiveness and achieving peace.

Elizabeth Weinberg is the Executive Director of Silkworm Peace Institute. John Crump is co-author of Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness. With an active interest in history, Hiroshima was his first book effort. Recently, he co-authored Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks, about pilots of the 365th Fighter Group in WWII. David Duckworth is an artist, cultural historian, and lecturer on World War II era material culture.

The Green Arcade (bookstore), 1680 Market Street, at Gough and Haight, (415) 431-6800

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15 Oct

David Duckworth, Your Loan Is Secure With Us. Pen and ink on paper, 12 x 9 in.; cropped and digitally painted.

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to CJ Holmes, broker, realtor, and real estate analyst, speak in Bernal Heights.  An articulate speaker, her arguments regarding the mortgage crisis afflicting America were clear and concise.  I urge all to attend one of the upcoming foreclosure town hall events: October 16 in Berkeley, October 20 in San Bernardino, October 21 in Santa Barbara, October 24 in Santa Rosa, and October 27 in Fresno.

For further information: http://www.hofj.org, Home Owners For Justice, and http://www.publicbankinginstitute.org, Public Banking Institute.

The following information was provided by Holmes at the Bernal Heights presentation:

“Home Owners For Justice invites all elected officials and all citizens to attend a Foreclosure Town Hall in Berkeley on October 16th, San Bernardino on Oct. 20th, Santa Barbara on Oct. 21st, Santa Rosa on Oct. 24th, or Fresno on Oct. 27th, or others as scheduled.  Foreclosure crisis solutions that benefit the People will be presented at these Town Halls, with time for questions and answers.

The People have two tremendous powers of which they seem unaware: 1) Eminent Domain of contracts like securitized loans, and 2) the establishment of Public Banks.

Bankruptcy courts across the country and State or Superior courts in Nebraska, Ohio, Vermont, North Carolina, Delaware, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have agreed with MERS’ [Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems] own definition of itself—that MERS exists strictly for the purpose of circumventing loan ownership documentation—making it impossible to establish legal ownership of a specific loan.  Independent audits across the country consistently identify 84% of foreclosures are illegal, which forces us to recognize that the county recording system we have trusted for centuries is fundamentally broken.

The very process of using MERS and pooling 72M loans into securitized trusts not only ruined loan ownership chain of title, it allowed lenders to be paid time and again as they fraudulently sold the same loan to trust after trust.  These trusts have been mostly paid off now with credit-default-swap insurance, bank bailout funds, or the trillions of unreported dollars taken from the Fed discount window since 2008, all at taxpayer expense.

Predatory securitized loans caused home values to spike, and fraudulent foreclosures caused home values to collapse, ruining the construction industry and thousands of jobs, closing businesses, increasing homelessness, and causing massive tax revenue and state funding losses.

The people and their elected representatives can and must stop this fraudulent theft of their homes, jobs, and economy.  Eminent domain allows the seizure of intangible property such as contract rights like loans, provided it benefits the public and the lender is compensated at fair market value.  If the lender cannot prove loan ownership, as is the case with securitized loans, the county can proceed uncontested with the seizure, costing the county very little.

New loan terms can then be implemented, for example 90% loan-to-market value, credit for original down payment, 2% interest, 30-year-fixed.  For a home valued at $350,000 with $40,000 down payment credit, the county would receive around $1000/m for the next 30 years.

Payments from thousands of loans like this would provide a powerful source of new revenue, which, when harnessed with a public bank, would allow the creation of a sustainable, abundant, and affordable credit—OUR credit to benefit OUR communities—to pay for non-securitized underwater loans, and expand economic activity in industries like renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, redevelopment efforts—all projects that private banks do not fund.

The recent mega-bank strategy of shifting loan servicing to their draconian wholly-owned bank subsidiaries—like Nationstar, Ocwen, and Greentree—is a blatant attempt to circumvent the Attorney General Settlement and other government oversight.  Combined with insider warnings that loan mods will soon be cancelled en masse as banks ramp up foreclosures, we, the people are at a critical juncture.  We are facing the train of destruction as it roars down upon us.”

Always Dance!

5 Sep

David Duckworth, Untitled, 1982. Charcoal on bond paper, 19 x 24 in.

It’s always a pleasure meeting a lifelong dancer.  That is how I felt meeting Julia Montrond, dancer, painter, poet, through my work at Expressions Gallery, Berkeley, where Julia is an exhibitor.  Julia will be reading a poem this coming Saturday, September 8th, at the 18th Annual Dancing Poetry Festival, where she among other prize honorees will present between noon and 4:00 p.m. (http://www.dancingpoetry.com/).  The venue is the Florence Gould Theater in the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, San Francisco.

Dance is my first love.  I studied ballet and modern dance at a school in Los Angeles under the direction of Sally Whalen.  I quit after almost three years of training, not knowing as a young adult how I could build a career as a ballet dancer.  I was in need of mentoring but only understood the isolation I felt at the time.  For years afterward I quietly dwelled on the regret of an unfulfilled ending.  I did not realize until much later in life that I had always danced and that this dance was not only my constant return to the joy of physical movement, but the uplifting of my soul.  This is how we stay young, by forever dancing.  Julia’s poem appears below.

Julia Montrond’s poetry has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Poetalk, Farewell to Armaments, and her chapbook: Steaming Radiators and Red Poppies.  Her poems have won prizes in the International Dancing Poetry Festival, the Ina Coolbrith Contest, and the Alameda Haiku Contest.  A BAPC prizewinning poem, the judged remarked, was so sensuous it made him reach for a cigarette and a pen!  A teacher for 45 years, she spent her last ten years teaching drama in Berkeley.  Her poems cover a variety of themes and moods, including identity, New York childhood, journeys, and aging.

David Duckworth, Untitled, 1982. Charcoal on bond paper, 19 x 24 in.

Tents I

13 Jan

Joanie Mitchell. Occupy Tents, 2011. Digital print, 26 x 18 in. (On view at Expressions Gallery, Berkeley, through March 2nd).

“The evils that are permitted to generate, unmolested in industry, must always, sooner or later, assert themselves in politics.” — Ethelbert Stewart to Louis Freeland Post, U.S. Department of Labor, November 21, 1913, Records of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Archives, quoted in Martelle, Blood Passion, page 33

Tents are intrinsic to the landscape of American history, especially its history of political redress.  The Occupy movement continues the noble tradition of placing citizens’ concerns within a public dialogue through the bodily occupation of public space.  It cannot be otherwise.  The radical ideas under circulation at this time regarding social equity, public good, and material property can only be argued free from the restraints of preexisting structures.  The goals of corporations are antithetical to the concerns expressed through this movement.  The interests of non-profit centers can address these concerns in piecemeal fashion, but the broadly articulated critique on the ills of American society must be broached beyond the doors of any particular institution.  The ideals of such a movement can be utopian, as we can see in Mitchell’s drawing of circles of discussion during an Occupy Oakland day.  The utopian vision is reinforced by the cluster of tents at the top of the drawing suggesting a city of brotherly/sisterly accord.  The makeshift dwelling of the tent is suitable to a people’s movement and symbolic of the loss of home epitomized by today’s failed home mortgage industry.

So it was in Ludlow, Colorado when coal miners struck in September 1913, that tenting and political redress merged.  Ludlow was one of the sites in the southern fields of the state’s mining industry.  Miners were paid by the ton of coal brought up from the mines, where they were often cheated at the scales.  Often, they were not paid for the work required to set up excavation, such as bolstering underground roofs or laying tracks for coal cars.  Mining companies ignored state mine safety laws.  According to historian Scott Martelle, “organized mines, particularly those in states where unions dominated, had 40 percent fewer fatalities than nonunion mines, such as those in Colorado” (see Martelle, Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West, Rutgers University Press, 2007, page 19).

Here, towns were few and far between; many coal seams were remote from human civilization.  As a result, mine owners established camps, where low-grade housing was erected, in the words of Martelle, “little more than shanty towns in some cases.”  The structures were usually frame, while the more recent vintage were made from brick or concrete block.  Martelle notes the closed economic system that a typical camp comprised, where workers “were paid in company scrip, forced to live in company houses (or at least on company land in jerry-built shanties), shop at the company store, worship in the company church to sermons uttered by the company-hired minister, and drink in the company saloon…” (Martelle, 27).

The United Mine Workers of America secured tents for the strikers evicted from company-owned homes.  These tents were placed on leased pasture land, the strikers’ main settlement situated east of a railroad line connecting Trinidad to Denver, and north of Ludlow, a string of buildings that included a post office, saloon, store, and “a small cluster of houses” (Martelle, 68).  Following a gun battle between mine owner’s guards and tent colony residents on October 7th, trenches were dug beneath tents and a “deep underground bunker” was dug for the purposes of providing a birthing chamber for the colony’s pregnant women (Martelle, 89).

Living conditions were harsh in the tent colony, given that winter had set in.  But the residents made what they could of comfort.  Union meetings were held outside in good weather.  During rain or snow, a big tent with a potbellied stove in the middle was used for gatherings.  There were makeshift picnic tables and clotheslines outside the tents.  Old linoleum was used to cover cracks in floorboards to guard against the winter’s cold.  There were tables and chairs for some, and orange crates in service as stands for storage.

According to Zeese Papanikolas, as many as 1,300 people lived in this colony (see Papanikolas, Buried Unsung: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre, University of Utah Press, 1982, page 83).  To diffuse tension following an October 17th machine gun attack by men of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency against a strikers’ tent colony at Forbes Junction, union man John Lawson organized Ludlow colonists into squads, with work organized around grounds, building, sanitation, and other useful preoccupations; a police force was organized with an effort to provide enough squad members who could service the 22 languages spoken in the camp (Papanikolas, 92).  (Like a modern-day Academi, previously known as Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide, Baldwin-Felts was a private Virginia-based police force for railroads, mine operators, and other businesses, whose apparent purpose during the Ludlow strike was to provoke violence from the strikers in order to force the governor of the state to send state militia.)

As much as the strikers tried to keep peace, their efforts did not stop a state militia from being formed to command the strike zone under undeclared martial law.  And before the year ended the same militia broke the governor’s promise to keep the mining companies from importing labor during the strike.  The state would draw down militia forces, but within this vacuum was formed a local troop, a “hastily-assembled collection of mine guards and pit bosses armed and paid by the [mine] companies…one hundred and thirty men or more, unorganized, without uniforms, scarcely drilled.”  Additionally, a Lt. Karl E. Linderfelt, already relieved of militia duty, remained with 34 men, “nursing his anger at his superiors and the ragged foreigners in the tents” (Papanikolas, 211).

On April 20, 1914, following orders from a Major Pat Hamrock to send troops to the tent colony, an all-out attack ensued in which machine guns ripped through tents during a ten-hour gun battle.  Under orders from Linderfelt, tents were burned while militia men ransacked strikers’ property.  Eight men died in the battle.  The next day, the bodies of two women and eleven children were found in a trench below a burned tent, having asphyxiated during the marauding fires set above them.  The seven-month strike remains one of the bloodiest capitalist-labor battles in our history.  Little was accomplished following the strike.  At least John D. Rockefeller, Jr., unlike his father, paid attention to the costs of the struggle by developing a “company union” for Colorado Fuel & Iron Co., which sought to put in place a model that would preclude the need for worker-organized unions.  The model became popular enough, and workers would wait until the 1935 Wagner Act established the National Labor Relations Board, banning company unions and protecting workers in their choice to join independent unions.  Rockefeller also hired Ivy Ledbetter Lee to present the company’s version of strike events at Ludlow, who created what may have been the first “major public relations spin campaign” (Martelle, 214).

While worker-organized unions remain viable today, despite sustained attempts by capitalists and their paid political representatives in Congress, the courts, and the executive branch to eviscerate the power of the working class, so does the deceptive spin issued from advertising offices via corporate media.  The battle is not over, no matter what lessons were learned.