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William Pitt Responds to Boston Hecklers at Dahr Jamail Event
PittWilliamRivers.jpgDon't let me change my heart,
Keep me set apart
From all the plans they do pursue.
And I, I don't mind the pain,
Don't mind the driving rain.
I know I will sustain
'Cause I believe in you.

- Bob Dylan, 'I Believe in You'

An interesting thing happened to me last week. I got heckled while giving a speech. Now, don't get me wrong, I've been heckled before. I've given speeches in most of the Red States across the country, and have gotten quite adept at the call-and-raise verbal jousting required when addressing an unfriendly crowd. I've been heckled by irate conservatives in Texas, in Montana, in North Carolina, in Colorado, in Arizona. I've been called a Socialist, a Communist, a Fascist, and a Communist Fascist, my own personal favorite. It's actually fun once you get used to it.

Last week was a different thing, however. I got heckled by people on the Left.
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06 May 2005 Modified: 06:35:53 PM | Filed under: Commentary / International : Organizing : Politics
Anti-Vivisection Activists Had A Busy Month
P4150039withbanner.jpgOn Saturday, April 16 and Saturday, April 30 members of animal rights groups such as The Animal Defense League of Boston (ADL), The Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition (MARC) and Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN) marched, rallied, chanted and otherwise expressed their disdain for the animal experimentation that happens with help from their tax dollars in their own home state.

viv·i·sec·tion - n. -The act or practice of cutting into or otherwise injuring living animals, especially for the purpose of scientific research. [from]

Harvard Medical School's "New England Regional Primate Research Center" or NERPRC was the focus of these protests although many universities and private companies in Massachusetts experiment on animals, including M.I.T., Tufts University, and Charles River Laboratories.
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02 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare
Immigrant Rights Rally Fast Becoming May Day Tradition in Boston
May-Day.jpgAccording to the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Coalition, international immigration to the Commonwealth is responsible for both the population growth and the net labor force growth experienced here in the 1990s. An ever growing coalition of immigrant, labor, religious and community organizations that organizes the perennial ‘MayDay Rally for Immigrants Rights’ has had their finger on the pulse of the demographic shift in the state.

Since the mid-nineties Bostonians have intermittently celebrated May 1st, which since the late 1800s has been an international workers holiday, with an immigrants rights rally. In 2001 the annual rally received a boost thanks in part to a call out from the AFL-CIO for labor to highlight the connection between labor and immigrant rights. Since then the annual rally has just about become a staple of spring in our fair city. It is rumored that Mayor Menino might even make an appearance this year.

Regarding the mayor, Jason Pramas of Massachusetts Global Action, one of the key groups organizing the event, said that while he doesn’t necessarily agree with his politics, ”It is extremely important for a mayor of a major urban center, especially one who has not been as strong on immigrants rights as he could be, to stand up and commit himself to meeting the needs of immigrant populations in Boston.”
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28 Apr 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Organizing : Politics : Race
Jesse Jackson, Jr. Fights for Constitutional Right to Vote
Last night, the National Voting Rights Institute and Lesley University hosted Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. to speak to the issue of a constitutional right to vote for all US citizens. Speaking to a packed audience at the Marran Theater, Congressman Jackson made it abundantly clear that there is no specific guarantee providing the right to vote under the US Constitution, and so he has filed House Joint Resolution 28 to remedy this.
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27 Apr 2005 | Filed under: News / Politics
Your Risk, Their Gain: Wall Street CEOs Lobby for Social Security Privatization
Would you be upset if someone spent millions of dollars to put your future retirement funds into a casino, while taking no risks with their own future?

Say hello to the Wall Street CEOs whose companies are aggressively lobbying for Social Security privatization. Because of their bloated compensation packages, these CEOs pay Social Security taxes only a few days a year.
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13 Apr 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Politics : Social Welfare
Where Boston's bikers go to retire
bikepath.jpgChris Grealish’s first thoughts of leaving Boston were inspired by bone-crushing accidents. In his three years riding as a courier he received a broken collar bone, a demobilizing blow to the hip, stitches on a gruesomely torn upper lip, lost skin on his hands, legs and arms, and a knee swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. Instead of vacations, Grealish was often forced to take unpaid downtime to heal his wounds. He claims he averaged one accident or serious altercation with a cabdriver every three months.

Yet he loved the job.

“I had no formal education. I found something that I wanted to do and I was really good at it. Having that taken away was pretty alarming,” says Grealish 42, “It became very apparent that my shelf life was limited.”
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30 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Politics : Social Welfare : Technology
Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
dasani.jpgContributions from Coca-Cola and its enterprises to federal candidates and parties rose as much as 31% between 1998 and 2004, with the greatest concentration of funds during the 2000 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Seventy-one percent of those contributions, or $2,483,283, went to the Republican Party and GOP candidates. Relationships between the soft-drink giant and Bush’s chums have indeed gone sweeter since many issues affecting Coca-Cola’s assets are at stake: soda consumption in schools, environmental standards, bottled water labeling, and human rights concerns overseas.
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25 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Education : Environment : International : Politics
Population Density Poses Challenge to Construction of BU Bioterror Lab
ebola.jpgThe New Year has brought some new bumps in Boston University Medical Center’s plan to construct their new security level 4 bio-containment safety laboratory (BSL4) on the bustling border where the South End and Roxbury meet. BU is planning to begin construction on the lab, which would enable researchers to investigate weaponized strains of the most deadly biological agents known to man, this summer.

And until recently, the year and a half of debate over the hotly contested plan certainly seemed to be balancing in BU’s favor. Backed by key players in Commonwealth politics, the project coasted through city and state permit and approval processes. Rose Arruda of the Roxbury community organization Safety Net told the Boston Globe on February 5 that since the group had begun their opposition to the lab, “People just ignored us. They’d say, ‘You are just a bunch of crazy activists.’”

But then everything went to hell at the BUMC press office in late January when the Boston Globe revealed that researchers had been doing everything short of seasoning the lunch meat in the cafeterias at their BSL2 labs with an infectious strain of the deadly disease tularemia. According to an article that ran in the Boston Globe on January 20th, the University had, on the previous day, “confirmed that on October 28 test results showed that researchers who had thought they were working with a harmless variety of the bacteria tularemia instead had been working with material that appeared to be contaminated and might have caused illnesses in three researchers.” The article stated that Massachusetts State law required BU to report their suspicions that infections had occurred within 24 hours.

It took the university 11 days.
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02 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Organizing : Politics : Technology
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