Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tony Benn: A titan of our movement

Monday 17th

posted by Morning Star in Features

JEREMY CORBYN fondly remembers his fellow rebel MP and close friend Tony Benn - including their late-night escapade to put up a commemorative plaque to Emily Wilding Davison in a parliamentary broom cupboard

The death of Tony Benn is devastating to me, obviously to his family and to millions all around Britain and the world who recognised him as a friend, an honest man, and someone who passionately believed in the cause of socialism and humanity.

Tony was an MP for 50 years, with only a very short break between a sad defeat in Bristol East in 1983 and his election to Parliament as MP for Chesterfield nine months later.

His contribution to Parliament was magnificent in every way. He saw it as an institution to be revered and supported, but which he wanted to make more effective.

He was a real democrat who understood the broad sweep of history and how today's parliamentary democracy is a product of the Peasants' Revolt, the English civil war, the Great Reform Act of 1832, the Chartists and the radical movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Tony was a minister in the 1964-70 and 1974-79 Labour governments. A far-thinking postmaster general, he went on to become minister of technology.

He recognised Britain's need to develop high-quality cutting-edge engineering as the way forward, and through his personal intervention he saved the Concorde project from cancellation in 1974.

As minister for industry in the second Wilson government, Tony developed the lessons of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders' work in 1971 as a way of defending industry from the predators who only saw assets to be stripped.

As secretary of state he steered through the public ownership of shipbuilding and aircraft manufacture, supported the Triumph Co-operative at Meriden and spoke at enormous Institute for Workers' Control conferences.

I worked at the Engineering Union in the early 1970s and Tony came to our offices to seek support for his industrial strategy because he felt he was being obstructed by the dead hand of officialdom in Whitehall.

He encouraged us to produce a blueprint for workers' control of British Leyland. Sadly he was moved on from his ministerial position before this bold move could take place.

Some of those who vigorously opposed Tony in the 1980s have surfaced again in the aftermath of his death, and are retrospectively trying to blame him for Labour's 1983 election defeat.

Yet the manifesto on which that election was fought would be highly appropriate today to deal with the finance and banking crisis that has been visited upon the poorest people in Britain and, indeed, across Europe.

The real reason for Labour's 1983 defeat was the defection of a number of leading figures in the Labour Party to the SDP, allowing Thatcher to be re-elected on the same vote as she had achieved in 1979 while calling it a triumph.

When the miners' strike took place in 1984-5 it coincided with Benn's election campaign in Chesterfield - and what a pleasure it was to campaign with him there, where he was elected and subsequently re-elected.
The miners' strike in many ways saw Tony at his finest, tirelessly travelling the country supporting picket lines and the Women Against Pit Closures, managing to unite inner-city struggles with the mining communities and always bringing a strength of internationalism into all of his speeches, regardless of the fact that it might be at 5am on a freezing picket line with an enormous menacing police presence threatening the miners and their families.

Tony, apart from being a great writer of diaries and a highly optimistic political philosopher, was fascinated by discussions and ordinary people's stories.

For a time in the late 1980s we held meetings of the Independent Left Corresponding Society, so named in memory of the radical correspondence societies during the dark days for radicals in Britain in the early part of the 19th century.

These meetings which included such luminaries as Ralph Miliband, Jim Mortimer, Tariq Ali and Hilary Wainwright, took themes for discussion about party structures, the development of democracy and the effectiveness or otherwise of trade unions. In many ways this was my university education.

Tony never shied away from supporting equality, anti-racism and causes that didn't get much attention from the media or the political Establishment.

He supported the black community in Bristol when they boycotted the buses in 1959 because of the racism in the recruitment of drivers and conductors. He wanted to negotiate and talk with Sinn Fein when it was being isolated and ostracised.

Before the outbreak of the Gulf war in 1991 he went to Baghdad with Edward Heath to try to obtain some kind of agreement, and memorably said when the war started that George Bush Snr had declared himself at war with humanity.

Tony later was hugely active in the foundation of the Stop the War Coalition in 2001 and was president at the time of his death. He had been an inspirational figure at every rally, particularly the million-plus rally in Hyde Park on February 15 2003. Right up to the end Tony was supporting and speaking at peace events.

An imaginative thinker, he founded the Coalition of Resistance as a way of uniting people in opposition to the austerity programme being promoted by George Osborne and David Cameron whose method of restructuring society remains to increase inequality and to concentrate wealth in the hands of the minority.

I have so many personal memories of Tony. I first met him in the late 1960s as a young activist and it's been a privilege and honour to work with him on so many causes for so long.

My memories include little vignettes of life such as, at a moment of enormous tension in Brighton as Tony was about to lose the deputy leadership of the Labour Party election, he was frustrated that he couldn't get a cup of tea because the kettle wouldn't work. I suggested that this should not have been a problem for him as a former technology minster, at which he smiled.

Later, when my eldest son Ben was just a few months old, I brought him into Parliament, and he sat on Fenner Brockway's knee in the parliamentary cafeteria while Tony fed him and talked to him, both of them oblivious to what was going on around them as they concentrated on each other.

Tony had a great sense of history and wanted Parliament to commemorate those who had made a difference, including Emily Wilding Davison and her census-night sojourn in the broom cupboard under Westminster Hall.

I had the pleasure of helping Tony put the plaque up late one evening after the house had finished its business for the day.

We went to Tony's car and collected the plaque and an electric drill and as we made our way via the crypt a policeman approached us.

I thought the game was up and we'd be asked about the drill and electric tool box, late at night.
While I was trying to dream up the appropriate explanation to offer, the policeman approached and simply offered to carry our bags for us.

Tony told him that we were on our way to the chapel, at which point the policeman offered to escort us but Tony insisted on privacy.

On another occasion we went to Belfast to observe a "supergrass" trial, where the juries did not exist and the judge made a decision on the basis of evidence given from an informer who in return was given anonymity, a change of identity and a very large sum of money to start a new life.

When we arrived we went and queued up with other families to go into the public gallery and the court master saw us and said he'd find a space for us in the well of the court.

Rather undiplomatically he explained that in the public gallery one couldn't see or hear anything because the glass screen was scratched and there was a very poor PA system.

When we reached the well of the court, to the chagrin of our host, there were no seats available until the empty 12 seats in the jury box were spotted and we duly sat in them.

The barrister for the defence spotted an opportunity and announced to the judge that he was surprised at how small the new jury was but that he was happy to accept its wisdom.

Tony leaves behind the books and wonderful diaries he wrote and the enormous admiration and the friendship of millions of people.

He died with his family around him and while it is desperately sad for all of the family, his children Hilary, Stephen Melissa and Josh, he also leaves behind a wider family who he loved and adored.

At a Stop the War conference in the Emmanuelle Centre late last year, he was treated with overwhelming warmth and reverence by the international gathering.

He realised his legacy is a belief in people, progress and our abilities to shape our own lives, not leave it to the powerful and the wealthy.

Thanks, Tony, for everything that you did and the path that your writings will continue to show about how to bring about change. It was been one of the great privileges of my life to have known you so well and worked with you on so many causes.

Jeremy Corbyn is Labour MP for Islington North

Is U.S. Congressman Rick M. Nolan a "liberal" or "progressive" as some Democratic Party hacks would have us believe?

Some die-hard Democrats have challenged me to "prove" my assertion that Congressman Rick Nolan is supporting the K-XL Pipeline.

I'm going to provide this proof but not until you listen to a little more of what I have to say about this phony.

In fact, Nolan supports the peat mining in the Big Bog.

In fact, Nolan is pushing for sulfide mining in northern Minnesota.

In fact, Nolan is pushing for Iron Ore mining in the Penokee Hills of northern Wisconsin.

Kind of interesting, but the upper-middle class, muddle-headed "environmentalists" with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and all the tribal governments and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association support Rick Nolan.

Also interesting is how Nolan turns around and supports crooked and corrupt creeps heading up tribal governments like Floyd "Buck" Jourdain, Carri Jones and the wife-beater Kevin Leecy who goes to testify before government committees about how money is needed to fund education for spousal abuse.

But, the real hypocrisy of Nolan is demonstrated by his support for the violent and corrupt thug who terrorized the entire Leech Lake Indian Nation for years which includes sodomizing one of his opponents with a broom handle and beating with his fists on another opponent for over two hours.

Every election cycle, Minnesota Democrats like Rick Nolan go begging for money to these thoroughly corrupt tribal leaders and then when the election is over, Nolan turns his back on the victims of poverty.

Here is the letter Nolan sent to a constituent. Anyone may contact Nolan's office to verify the authenticity of this letter from him... and, I expect to read an apology here from those supporters of these Dumb Donkeys like Nolan who wrote and called me a liar:

February 28,2014
Ms. Janice Marie Ward
48063 North Big Island Road
Marcell, MN 56657-2133

Dear Ms. Ward.

Thank you for contacting me regarding your views on the Keystone Pipeline.

The Keystone Pipeline is a good and necessary project that will generate urgently needed jobs and economic development across our great nation.

I support the Keystone Pipeline, but I could not support the extreme Keystone bill (H.R.3. the Northern Route Approval Act) the House passed just prior to Memorial Day.

A privately-financed pipeline, properly maintained and regulated in an environmentally safe way, using today's highly advanced technologies. is the best solution. And I believe that approach will ultimately prevail.

As I told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Northern Route Approval Act goes too far in exempting a non U.S.-based corporation from the regular construction, environmental, and health regulatory process we normally require of every single other pipeline we build in this country. Rest assured there are places in the permitting process that could be streamlined, but we should not exempt any
corporation, foreign or domestic, from being held financially liable in the event of a spill.

I do believe we can move this project forward in a responsible way, but not at the abandonment of everything that
protects our health, our safety, and our environment.

Fortunately, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate. If it does, the President has promised a veto.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. I appreciate your advice and counsel and hope that you will contact me in the future whenever I can be of assistance.

Richard M. Nolan
Member of Congress

1 1 East Superior Street, Suite '125
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 464-5095

Laura Friedenbach the Press Secretary for the foundation-funded Bold Progressives fronting for the Democrats and the National Indian Gaming Association wants you to know...

That Kelly Westlund wants to keep you working for poverty wages.

This is the e-mail I received from Laura Friedenbach, the Press Secretary for the foundation-funded Bold Progressives.

Laura didn't explain why Kelly Westlund is taking campaign contributions from the National Indian Gaming Association and the thoroughly corrupt Mike Wiggins, Jr. who refuses to put up "No Smoking" signs at the Bad River Casino.

Kelly Weslund says she supports the Minimum Wage being $10.10 an hour. This is one more poverty wage; it is not a real living wage that takes into consideration "cost-of-living." 

See my blog post Laura Friedenbach is responding to:


Hey Alan -- Kelly Westlund has been outspoken about her support for raising the minimum wage. Last month she went directly to Sean Duffy's offices in Superior and Wausau to demand he give Americans a raise. Think you can make that fact clear for your readers? You can check out some of the news coverage below. 


My advice to Laura and Kelly: 

Try living on $10.10 and see what it is like.

Kelly Westlund's Congressional campaign is being funded by Mike Wiggins, Jr. and the National and Regional Indian Gaming Associations

Why was my comment removed from this website:


Mike Wiggins, Jr. is the biggest hypocrite. He operates a loud, noisy, smoke-filled casino that is ruining the health and lives of the workers he impoverishes.

The workers employed in the Bad River Casino have NO rights under state or federal labor laws--- does anyone call this being respectful of human rights?

Mike Wiggins, Jr. hides his real motives for opposing this hideous mine project that will tear apart the Penokees behind very legitimate reasons for opposition; however, his only motivation is to keep wages down because his casino operation requires a huge pool of cheap labor as casino workers are fired left and right for no other reason than they are getting to sick to work from working in this smoke-filled casino.

If Mike Wiggins, Jr. really respected human rights and a liveable environment he would:

1. Put up "No Smoking" signs in the Bad River Casino; and,

2. Sit down and negotiate a union contract that would protect the rights, lives and livelihood of casino workers.

Kelly Westlund talks about jobs; but, like other Democrats, she refuses to talk about real living wage jobs.

Kelly Westlund's campaign for Congress is being financed by Mike Wiggins, Jr. and the Indian Gaming Industry.

If you notice, Kelly Westlund does not utter a peep about the horrendous unhealthy working conditions casino workers are forced to endure nor does she utter a peep of protest about the poverty wages paid to casino workers in this Indian Gaming Industry which is far more profitable than any iron ore mining operation.

The mainstream media refuses to address these issues of the Indian Gaming Industry as do the public and alternative media.

Nick Vanderpuy, Mike Wiggins, Jr.'s buddy, interviewed me for hours about the plight of casino workers and the tape ended up in the hands of one of the union busting outfit hired by the National Indian Gaming Association, Altegrity/USIS--- so much for concern about human rights. Just how did Altegrity/USIS "Special Agent" George Armstrong get his hands on this interview which never aired?

Kelly Westlund and the Democrats point to industries providing jobs that are an alternative to mining and yet she and Mike Wiggins, Jr. and the Democrats the Indian Gaming Association money buys can only point to a bunch of poverty wage jobs with unhealthy working conditions. There are no efforts made to make these jobs real living wage jobs in healthy working environments.

Just a bunch of hypocrites--- and this gaggle of upper-middle class muddle-headed intellectuals posing as "environmentalists" couldn't give two-hoots about workers forced to work in smoke-filled casinos.

Why didn't the Associated Press' Todd Richmond ask Mike Wiggins, Jr. about the unhealthy smoke-filled Bad River Casino workers are forced to work in and the fact all of these workers are employed at poverty wages and without any rights under state, federal, tribal or international labor laws in complete violation of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

And; oh, yes; these "environmentalists" will claim they can only handle one issue at a time but they don't explain why they tolerated these deplorable working conditions in Mike Wiggins, Jr.'s Bad River Casino for so many years before this mining issue came along?

Mike Wiggins, Jr. conceals the fact that every single slot machine and table game in the Bad River Casino are owned by a bunch of racist, rich mobsters who rake in the profits skimming the cream off the top leaving the people of the Bad River Tribe mired in poverty causing debt from which they will never escape.

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council