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Rev. David Kirk, 72, Crusader for New York City's Disenfranchised, Dies

Margalit Fox, New York Times


The Rev. David Kirk, an Eastern Orthodox priest who spent most of his adult life working with New York City's disenfranchised, died on May 23 at Emmaus House, the communal residence for the homeless that he founded in Harlem more than 40 years ago. He was 72.


Father Kirk, who had been in declining health with kidney trouble and other ailments, died in his sleep, said his nephew Kirk Barrell. At Father Kirk's request, he was buried near his longtime mentor, the Roman Catholic social reformer Dorothy Day, at Resurrection Cemetery in Staten Island.


Father Kirk, for decades a presence in the civil rights and antiwar movements, established Emmaus House in the mid-1960s on East 116th Street. It was conceived not as a shelter but as a community for the city's homeless men and women and was modeled on the Emmaus movement, begun in France after World War II to aid the poor.

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This essay continues from Part One, here.


"Gasping From Out the Shallows," Part Two

Wayne Spencer

POLAND

26


From late 1945 until 1947, strikes in Polish factories were common, with the autumn of 1946 in particular seeing a huge mobilization in most of the major centres of industry. In the following years, the crude police terrorism and anti-worker laws of a state capitalist regime seeking to expropriate the totality of labour and social life for its own benefit managed from time to time to secure the disgruntled acquiescence of proletarians; but eruptions of discord and dissent repeatedly returned.

In the mid-1950s, wildcat strikes continuously disrupted Polish industry. In June 1956, workers in Poznań went further. Reacting to a refusal by party officials to address their economic concerns, some 75,000 marched on the city centre. Party, police and security buildings were attacked, prisoners were released and police dossiers destroyed, and barricades thrown up. Nearly three days of fighting with the security police and army followed. The party managed to suppress the Poznań uprising and to overcome a large wave of strikes in 1957; yet social peace eluded it.

In December 1970, a wave of violent conflicts with striking workers erupted, as thousands of workers around the country attacked party headquarter buildings and fought government troops; scores of workers were killed. This new peak of resistance, however, also produced developments that were to have disastrous consequences in the following decade. For the first time, factory occupations and inter-factory committees to exchange information and co-ordinate struggles came into being. In both cases, the organizational structures erected were not subject to the total control of the striking proletarians. An element of mediation and hierarchy emerged as a group of elected or self-appointed specialists began to carry out important aspects of struggles as separate leaders. These specialists in the organization of the proletariat came to conceive and pursue the project of creating a trade union.

Matters came to a head in August 1980. Price increases and the dismissal of Anna Waletynowicz, an admired veteran of the 1970 protests, provoked strikes in Gdańsk and Szczecin, which soon came to engulf almost the whole of each city, as well as spreading elsewhere on the Baltic coast. Lech Wałęsa and the other bureaucratic specialists who exercised control over the inter-factory committees entered into negotiations with the government for the legal right to form a trade union. A moment of choice had arrived for the proletariat: either take the management of its struggles back into its own hands and deepen its attack on the separate power of the state and economy or surrender to an organization that would negotiate in its name in the hope of improving the terms on which the economy and the state dominated it. In the event, the proletariat failed to act for itself and Solidarność (Solidarity) was born.


27


Solidarność accepted the legitimacy of both the state and the separate economy, aiming only to create a mediated voice for workers within production and a measure of independence within a banal daily life confined between the state and the economy. Its limited objectives inevitably brought it into conflict with a party whose logic required it to dominate every aspect of society. But the tendency of both its philosophy and its hierarchical structure of governing local and national committees was to reduce the proletariat to order-takers and spectators in any conflicts that might ensue with the state. It also discouraged the development of a critique that ranged over ever aspect of alienated life, whether economic, political or domestic. The road to self-managed revolution led directly out of the union. It was not taken. In the months that followed the foundation of Solidarność, Wałęsa’s attempts to secure control over the organization and moderate local struggles that threatened to go beyond what he felt the communist party would tolerate created conflicts and dissent within the union. However, these remained within the structures of the union and were often dominated by bureaucratic factions. Solidarność continued to be trusted by the large majority of the proletariat and it soon had ten million members.

28


On 13th December 1981, the Polish leader, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, declared Martial Law and the leadership of the national Solidarność movement was soon detained. This decapitation of the union provided an opportunity for autonomous organization and struggle by the proletariat, especially as the imposition of martial law left Solidarność’s strategy of collaboration with the state in ruins. However, although workers resisted the militarization of workplaces by sit-ins, occupations and physical force, and the period of martial law was marked by numerous protest and clashes with the authorities, these typically remained under the control and co-ordination of local Solidarność organisations or other equally hierarchical bodies. The habit of submission persisted after Martial Law was lifted in July 1983. In 1984 the Party ended the suspension of independent trade union activity that had been imposed at the outset of martial law and granted a legal right to strike. Solidarność itself remained proscribed but some union activists proposed to take advantage of the new conditions to form local unions and even a new national union.

The leadership of Solidarność discouraged both this union-building work and industrial action generally. It equally opposed local activists’ efforts to register local Solidarność unions after a general amnesty was granted in 1986 and the possibility of legal recognition of Solidarność was re-opened. Instead, the national leadership created first a Provisional Council and later a National Executive Commission, and adopted an increasingly free-market ideology.

The union was preparing for a capitalist solution to Poland’s economic problems that would centrally turn on subjecting workers to freer market forces. It was interested in workers’ struggles only insofar as they could be used as bargaining chips to advance its separate interests. More than this, as the state capitalist regime began to disintegrate after the communists’ disastrous showing in a round of free elections that had permitted in June 1989 in the characteristically delusional expectation that they the ruling party emerge triumphant, the Solidarność leadership was in effect preparing to assume power and commence the construction of a system of liberal capitalism. Strikes continue to break out in these last days of state capitalism, but the proletariat failed to look beyond its immediate conditions. The question of who was to dominate society in the post-communist era was now at large but only Solidarność and other advocates of the continuance of capitalism in another form were thinking at this level of theory and practice. The proletariat was crippled by its long years of alienated thought and action within hierarchical unions and committees, an alienation that left it bereft of the desire, the organization means, and the consciousness necessary to seize control of the society that was collapsing around it and was to be rebuilt outside and against it. It continued to share Solidarność’s fundamental acceptance of a separate economy, a separate state and an everyday life shaped by both. As new foundations for a different society were proposed and constructed, it lacked the theoretical consciousness and means of association necessary to contest the fundamentals of the new alienation. It was unable to begin a struggle against separation and for a self-managed society at the moment when the implosion of the dominant society opened history to its grasp. It was accordingly swept aside and left to quibble over the compensation to be offered for its continued exclusion from the conscious control of the socio-economic mechanisms for the making of history.

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Dutch-American Writer, "Resist"

Co-Founder Hans Koning Dies


Radical writer and "Resist" co-founder Hans Koning died April 13, 2007 at the age of 85 at his home in Easton, Connecticut after a short illness. The author of over 40 fiction and non-fiction books, he was also a prolific journalist, contributing for almost 60 years to many periodicals including the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, Harpers and The New Yorker.


Born in Amsterdam on July 12th 1921 to Elisabeth van Collem and Daniel Koningsberger, he was educated at the University of Amsterdam 1939-41, The University of Zurich 1941-43, and the Sorbonne in 1946. He was the grandson of the well-known Dutch poet Abraham van Collem.


Escaping occupied Holland with the Resistance (he was a wearer of the Dutch Resistance Cross), he was one of the youngest sergeants in the British Liberation Army, 7 Troop, 4 Commando, working as an interpreter during the allied occupation of Germany at the end of the war. His Major wrote of him, “The problems of occupation have been made much easier with the help of this NCO who not only knows the character and customs of the German people but has studied the academic approach to international affairs. Sgt ‘Hans’ as he is known to everyone in the battery has been a loyal and trustworthy member of the unit…his quiet sense of humor and his fundamentally serious mien have won him the friendship of officers and men alike”.

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French Philosopher and Social Theorist Jean Baudrillard Dies

Elaine Ganley, Canadian Press


PARIS (AP) — Jean Baudrillard, a French philosopher and social theorist known for his provocative commentaries on consumerism, excess and what he said was the disappearance of reality, died Tuesday, his publishing house said. He was 77.

Baudrillard died at his home in Paris after a long illness, said Michel Delorme, of the Galilee publishing house.

Philip DePaolo writes:

"Terminal Marketing" in Real Estate

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Philip DePaolo


Today’s article in the The Real Deal really got me going. Let’s review the facts...

An ad on craigslist.com in March 2006 for the Greenpoint Terminal Market showed the property on the market at $481 million.

The ad stated, “Land, Land and More Land, On The Waterfront, 852,160 SF, 10 Lots, $481,000,000 ... Investors, Developers ... Contact Broker & Dealmaker Frantz.”

The ad went on to include extensive descriptions of the individual lots, zoning calculations, lot coverage and the public waterfront access plan (as required by the new zoning regulations).


"Offers were being made daily on this piece," Joseph Kosofsky, a lawyer for Mr. Guttman, said in a May 4th NY Times story. "Everybody wants to be your partner."


One prospective buyer stood out: Baruch Singer, 52, a veteran developer. His offer did not have the sort of restrictive clauses and riders that Mr. Guttman found in the others, Mr. Kosofsky said.

"It was all cash," Mr. Kosofsky said. "It looked like a slam-dunk, in terms of a simple deal. They were going to buy it without any conditions or anything else."

Mr. Singer was involved in a dispute in 2000 with tenant groups and the federal Housing and Urban Development Department. The department blocked Mr. Singer from bidding on a Harlem property the department owned after it was alerted to a long record of complaints against him. Over the years, city housing officials have cited Mr. Singer's buildings for thousands of code violations.

According to the lawsuit Mr. Singer has filed in connection with the deal for the Greenpoint buildings, he planned to develop two of the property's six sites into condominiums quickly, and then pour the proceeds into the four remaining sites. Mr. Guttman agreed to help the deal through the maze that is familiar to anyone in theNew York City real estate business, the lawsuit states.


"All of it looked like it was a go," Mr. Kosofsky said.


Mr. Guttman had hired Perkins Eastman Architects to prepare a proposal for development of the site. Their proposal called for about 2.6 million square feet of residential space over 14 acres stretching from Oak Street to Greenpoint Avenue.


Several tall buildings were in the proposal, the biggest being 35 stories.


But the developers found that they could not begin work on the two fast-track sites until they won approval from the Department of City Planning for a "master plan" for the whole property.


That would have been impossible to do before the Jan. 17 closing date, the lawsuit states. A spokesman for the planning department said there was no requirement for a "master plan," but that a plan for waterfront access was required.


Mr. Singer's financing for the property fell through, Mr. Kosofsky said.


Mr. Singer contends in the lawsuit that they "orally agreed" to put off the closing date for at least six months. He says Mr. Guttman, continued to help him with the Department of City Planning after the closing date had passed.


"But Guttman has apparently had a change of heart and now pretends there was no agreement to extend the closing. The lawsuit says Mr. Guttman has kept the $42 million down payment. Some of the details of the troubled sale were reported in the May 3rd New York Sun.


Members of the Municipal Art Society and the Williamsburg Greenpoint Waterfront Preservation Alliance along with the Preservation League of New York State were attempting to preserve and Landmark the site.

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Solve et Coagula writes: "It seems 'their' silly, poisonous and useless chemtrails didnt work out neatly, hmm!?!?! When do human beings realize/accept that we're part of Nature itself, to see the entire Cosmos as a lovely, caring Being where everything is in its perfect place for good reason, and when are we humble enough to start benefiting from these eternal forces..."

US Urges Scientists To Block Out Sun

David Adam and Liz Minchin

The US wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming.

It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a UN report on climate change, the first part of which is due out on Friday).

The US has also attempted to steer the UN report, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), away from conclusions that would support a new worldwide climate treaty based on binding targets to reduce emissions. It has demanded a draft of the report be changed to emphasise the benefits of voluntary agreements and to include criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol, which the US opposes.

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Operation Overlord II: NYPD Planned RNC Arrests

Joseph Goldstein, New York Sun

The police department had a code-name for its plan to cope with the invasion
of tens of thousands of protesters who were expected to take to the streets
during the 2004 Republican National Convention: Operation Overlord II. The
name is an apparent reference to the secret plan for the Allied invasion of
Normandy, which was codenamed Overlord.

Reports of the planning and intelligence gathering leading up to D-Day are
a part of military lore. But the preparations for Overlord II, which resulted
in the contentious detention of protesters during the convention, are still
unclear.


Over the city's objections, a fraction of the police documents from the
months before the August convention are expected to be made public in the
coming days, following a recent ruling that lifted a protective order over
them. The New York Sun has obtained several of those documents.
One document suggests that the decision to arrest — instead of ticket —
all persons whose protests were deemed illegal was made months prior to the
convention itself.

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Robert Anton Wilson, January 18, 1932 - January 11, 2007

Al Barger


Robert Anton Wilson, "Occupation: Mind Fucker" - The great and legendary novelist and philosopher Robert Anton Wilson has finally slipped this mortal coil, as was announced on his official and new blogger site. Pretty much his last official professional act was to start a blog from his deathbed in December 2006. A survivor of childhood polio, he passed after a long illness on Thursday, January 11, 2007 - a week short of a 75th birthday.

His best-known work was the Illuminatus! trilogy from the 1970s, a perhaps only partly fictionalized synthesis of every kind of conspiracy theory Wilson and co-author Sheas could mash together. Some of it seemed clearly ridiculous and impossible, some of it probably true. It was high comedy and a grand apocryphal history.

"Apocalypse II in Samarra:

US Kills 6 at National Dialogue Front Office"

Juan Cole

CBS/AP report that an angry crowd of Sunni Arab demonstrators in the
northern city of Samarra, protesting Saddam's execution, broke "broke
the locks off the badly damaged Shiite Golden Dome mosque and marched
through carrying a mock coffin and photo of the executed former leader."


Folks, this is very bad news. The Askariyah Shrine (it isn't just a
mosque) is associated with the Hidden Twelfth Imam, who is expected
by Shiites to appear at the end of time to restore the world to
justice. (For them, the Imam Mahdi is sort of like the second coming
of Christ for Christians). The Muqtada al-Sadr movement is
millenarian and believes he will reveal himself at any moment.


The centrality of the cult of the Twelfth Imam, a direct descendant
of the Prophet Muhammad who is said to have vanished in 873 AD, helps
explain why the bombing of the Golden Dome on February 21 of 2006 set
off a frenzy of Shiite, Sadrist attacks on Sunni Arabs. Last
February, stuck in a Phoenix hotel because of a missed flight and
without an internet connection for my laptop, I blogged from my Treo
that it was an apocalyptic day. Sadly, it was, kicking off a frenzy
of sectarian violence that has grown each subsequent month.

A Dictator Created Then Destroyed by America

Robert Fisk, Independent

Saddam to the gallows. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving
of that last walk to the scaffold — that crack of the neck at the end of a rope
— than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered
untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons
over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a "great
day" for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his
death sentence was signed — by the Iraqi "government", but on behalf of the
Americans — on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the
moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.


But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many
millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a question that
will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative
laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers — what about the other
guilty men?


No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not
Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead — and thousands of Western troops are
dead — because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the
Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a
potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great
brutality.

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