[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ7Km7SEZ70]Time to Choose PeaceA Rabbinic Letter to President-Elect Barack ObamaRabbis, Cantors, and Jewish clerical students:Join your colleagues in urging President-elect Obama to make resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority of the incoming administration by signing on to the statement below.Current List of SignersFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs)DONATE to support media campaign around the letterSigner DisclaimerNOT A RABBI OR CANTOR? CLICK HERE
Text of the Letter
We the undersigned, call on you, President-elect Obama, to pledge to make resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority of your Administration.While you come into office with a long list of problems before you, the long-simmering conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is among the most urgent. After eight years of half-hearted diplomacy, there is no time left to walk softly and hope for the best.The consequences of failing to establish a durable peace are grim. The influence of Iran and Hezbollah would grow among an increasingly bitter Palestinian population, and extremists would have further excuse to do vicious battle with the West. It is difficult to calculate the damage that a downward spiral into fresh waves of violence could hold.American Presidents traditionally look to the Jewish community for insight on Israel-related policy. As Jewish clergy, we pledge to mobilize our people behind your leadership for a mutually-acceptable, two-state solution. We pledge to support you through difficult, trying times, and to celebrate with you when the job is done. We pledge to let the American public know: An American President who dedicates himself to the establishment of a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace acts in the best interests of Israel and the United States.* We call on you to dedicate yourself to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel early in your first term.* We call on you to appoint, within your first 100 days in office, a high-level, highly-regarded envoy to the region, an individual who has the ear of both Israelis and Palestinians, the respect of the American people, and ready access to your Oval Office.* We call on you to establish mechanisms of enforcement and follow-through, so that decisions made and agreements signed will be respected and brought to fruition.
Fredrico Martinez, who joined other workers in a prayer vigil, said he had worked at the factory for nine years.
Republic Windows, a Chicago company since 1965, closed it's doors on Friday, December 5, leaving 300 workers without a job, and only a 3 day notice. Under the WARN Act this is illegal, and the company must give at least 60 days notice. Workers have occupied the plant and are demanding that if the plant stays closed, they receive the wages, severance, vacation pay due them--totally $1 million.
Here are some things you can do to help:
1. Donate to the strike fund the families of the workers have to eat, pay rent and utilities, while they are occupying the plant. Donations should be sent to UE Local 1110 at 37 S. Ashland Chicago, IL 60607.
2. Bring friends to the plant to show solidarity, workers can get very de-moralized if they feel like people are just going on with their lives while they are putting themselves at such risk, so any small group of people can be very helpful to the morale. We invite you to sign our solidarity posters and visit with workers.
3. Call Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis. Say that you are a concerned member of the community who is disturbed by BoA's apparent disregard for people's livelihoods by forcing republic windows to shut down without paying people their vacation and WARN act pay. BoA just got $25 Billion from taxpayers precisely to make credit lines like the Republic Windows line work. Calls help, but so do emails and faxes to the CEO. Jobs with Justice National web site has an action email you can send to BofA.
Talks Fail to End Sit-In at Closed Factory
CHICAGO — As workers at a window-making plant here prepared to spend a fourth night in the factory they had been told to leave for good, union leaders, bankers and company owners met into the night on Monday but the meetings ended without bringing about an end to the workers’ peaceful but increasingly tense occupation of the plant.
The layoff of 250 workers last week at Republic Windows and Doors on the North Side with only three days’ warning and without pay the workers say is owed to them had, by Monday, drawn the attention of nearly every politician with a connection to this city, numerous union and workers’ rights groups and scores of ordinary people, who arrived at the plant offering families toys, food and money.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who met with the workers Monday morning, said the State of Illinois was suspending its business with the Bank of America, Republic Windows’ lenders, and that the Illinois Department of Labor was poised to file a complaint over the plant closing if need be. Political leaders on the Chicago City Council and in Cook County threatened similar actions. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez said he was encouraging the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to investigate. “Families are already struggling to keep afloat,” Mr. Blagojevich said.
Workers here say they blame the operators of Republic Windows and Doors, a manufacturing company that was founded in 1965, for giving them just three days’ notice before closing last Friday, with no earlier hints to the employees that orders for vinyl windows and sliding doors had fallen off.
Late Monday, the company released a statement that indicated that it had known since at least mid-October that it intended to close the factory by January. The statement suggested that it had gone back and forth with Bank of America for more than a month, but that the bank had rejected several of its “wind down” plans as well as the company’s request for financing to pay workers’ owed vacation.
The statement also revealed that the family of Richard Gillman, once a minority shareholder who in 2006 and 2007 bought out Republic, last month formed a new window business — Echo Windows LLC. All along, workers here said they feared the owners were shutting down to reopen a cheaper operation somewhere else. A trade publication reported last week that Echo had recently bought a window manufacturing plant in Red Oak, Iowa. No one from Republic could be reached for comment.
“It is looking like reopening is exactly what happened,” said Tara Taffera, the editor and publisher of the publication, Door and Window Manufacturing magazine.
The company’s statement said it had been placed, “in the impossible position of not having the ability to further reduce fixed costs, coupled with severe constrictions in the capital debt markets and an unwillingness of the current debt holder to continue funding the operations.”
The workers here also blamed Bank of America for preventing the owners from paying its workers for already-earned vacation time and severance. Workers here said the owners told them last week that Bank of America had cut off the company’s credit line and would not allow payments.
As part of government bailout efforts for the struggling banking industry, Bank of America has received $15 billion, and is expected to receive an additional $10 billion. That fact left many workers here seething.
“Taxpayers would like to see that bailout money go toward saving jobs, not saving C.E.O.’s,” said Leah Fried, an organizer for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. “This is outrageous.” [...]
'Hope' springs anew for Washington University grad students
(Christian Gooden/P-D)By Margaret GillermanST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH11/29/2008UNIVERSITY CITY — Georgia O'Keeffe found inspiration in the light and shapes of New Mexico. Mary Cassatt found hers in mothers and children. Maya Escobar and Carianne Noga, two graduate students at Washington University's Sam Fox School of Art and Design, found inspiration for their latest project from the long lines on Election Day at a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop in the Loop.There, on the sidewalk outside the shop, which was giving away scoops of ice cream to voters, the two women felt excitement and hope among voters. They said they found that same feeling across the street in the long line of voters waiting to vote at the Loop polling place."We wanted to continue that moment and not let it peak out," Noga said.Before the polls closed, they had begun to create their "I hope…" project.They first staked out a site: outside the University City Post Office at 561 Kingsland Avenue.They then provided people with bright red tags and paint markers for them to write down their hopes for a better future.The tags then are affixed to a permanent lattice wood sculpture already on site outside the Post Office."As difficult as it can be sometimes to voice our wishes and dreams, it can be strengthening," the artists say in explaining their mission. "We can be reminded of the rest of the world outside our own immediate concerns. In this period of great change and near infinite possibilities, it is time for us to voice our hopes."While the project is for all people, Escobar said it holds special meaning for young people."This is our moment to make a difference for our communities," Escobar said. "We need to be aware — of our national situation, of the economy."Many of the hopes expressed — most recorded anonymously — so far are noble and universal: "I hope for world peace" and "My hope is that hate is no longer."Some of the hopes are personal. "I hope to not fear death," wrote one.Others have a distinctly political bent: "I hope we get out of Iraq and don't go to war with Iran." And some are just fun, like the person hoping for "chocolate cake for dessert ..."A University City police officer named Hope — Reginald Hope — shared with them his own hope: for safety for police officers. A fellow officer was killed while on duty near the Loop last month.Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton gave his hope and "wishes for better health and greater prosperity for all."The artists also are encouraging people to submit their hopes online at togetherwehope.com.The existing sculpture outside the post office was designed in 2005 by an undergraduate architectural design studio taught by Carl Safe in the Washington University School of Architecture. University City resident Ethel Sherman had asked Safe to help create a sculpture in memory of her husband William Sherman, a Washington University biochemist who died about five years ago."It's strong like Bill and peaceful and quiet," she said. Sherman said she's thrilled about adding "I hope..." to it."This is an exciting time of change and hope," said Sherman, a retired psychologist and teacher who worked for 10 years at the Loop's Craft Alliance.The artists, both 24, come from family traditions of public service and political idealism."I grew up under the table of political meetings," says Escobar, remembering her childhood in Chicago. "My friends and I formed our first political organization when we were 11 — Students Against Child Oppression — on behalf of children in sweatshops in Mexico."Her mother is a school nurse, and her father, an educator, hosts a radio show in Chicago called "Si, Se Puede," which means "Yes, We Can." The program has been around since 1996.Noga grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and in Georgia. Her father is a psychiatrist at a state hospital, and her mother is a library director.Both artists are second-year graduate students in the two-year master's of fine arts program.The project will remain up through January. Later, the tags can be relocated to other sites and the online site will remain.University City has embraced the "I hope ..." project, according to city manager Julie Feier."It's an inspiring project," she said.
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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcwPoFPdeVM]The polling lines were LONG in STL, I waited over 4 hrs to vote! But it was well worth it, I have never been more proud to be an american and to take part in such an important moment in history.The night of the elections, Carianne and I initiated our project together we hope with the help of our friend Becky Potts. We passed out red tyvek tags and asked people to write down their hopes for the future. We tried to encourage them to go beyond "I hope Obama wins" or I hope McCain wins".People wrote things ranging from "I hope I get good grades" to "I hope that we end the war in Iraq and do not go to war win Iran."Check out this website we created where you can submit your hopes online. We will make a tag for each hope submitted...
I just re-uploaded a better quality of this video to youtube, check it out if you missed it before....[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pCxlxNZH-Rg]Clip from ABC7's "The N Beat," With Host Theresa Gutierrez back in 2002Paint 4 Peace is a non-profit organization comprised of artists and activists who strive to create a culture of peace, fortify communities, and bridge the gap between humanity and politics through artistic endevors.