The NYT and the “New McCarthyism”

Responding to a horrible article in the New York Times that included an attack on the People’s Forum, a group of organizations and people have signed a statement reprinted below. Radical Elders is one of those co-signers.

McCarthyism Is Back: Together We Can Stop It

We stand together against the rise of a new McCarthyism that is targeting peace activists, critics of US foreign policy, and Chinese Americans. Despite increased intimidation, we remain steadfast in our mission to foster peace and international solidarity, countering the narrative of militarism, hostility, and fear.

As the US government grapples with a major crisis of legitimacy, it has grown fearful of young people becoming conscious and organized to change the world. Influential media outlets like The New York Times have joined right-wing extremists in using intimidation tactics to silence these advocates for change, affecting not only the left but everyone who supports free speech and democratic rights.

The political and media establishments, both liberal and conservative, have initiated McCarthy-like attacks against individuals and organizations criticizing US foreign policy, labeling peace advocates as “Chinese or foreign agents.” This campaign uses innuendo and witch hunts, posing a threat to free speech and the right to dissent. We must oppose this trend.

Scientists, researchers, and service members of Chinese descent have been falsely accused of espionage and unregistered foreign agency, often with cases later collapsing due to insufficient evidence. Similar to the old “Red Scare” and McCarthy periods, when scores of organizations and leaders like W.E.B Du Bois, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King Jr and others were attacked with fact-less accusations, today, prominent organizations and individuals, including CODEPINK, The People’s Forum, and Tricontinental Institute have been targeted, with smears and accusations propagated by outlets like The New York Times.

Their strategy paints a sinister image of a secret network funding the peace movement. However, there’s nothing illegal or fringe about opposing a New Cold War or a “major power conflict” with China, views shared by hundreds of millions globally. Receiving donations from US citizens who share these views is not illicit.

Media outlets have tried to scandalize funding sources of several organizations that are on the frontlines working with anti-racist, feminist, anti-war, abolitionist, climate justice, and other movements throughout the United States and globally. Meanwhile, when white neoliberal philanthropists flood the non-profit complex with significant funds to support their political agendas this is rarely scrutinized or made accountable to the communities they impact.

From The New York Times to Fox News, there’s a resurgence of the Red Scare that once shattered many lives and threatened movements for change and social justice. This attack isn’t only on the left but against everyone who exercises their free speech and democratic rights. We must firmly resist this racist, anti-communist witch hunt and remain committed to building an international peace movement. In the face of adversity, we say NO to xenophobic witch hunts and YES to peace.


Ten Reasons to Take Action Now on the Climate Emergency!

An Urgent Call by Radical Elders

We are Radical Elders who care deeply about the world our children and grandchildren are inheriting from us. We are particularly outraged by the continued dominance of the fossil fuel industry—oil, coal and methane gas—allied with other mega-corporations, and their criminal efforts to keep the world hooked on their destructive products as long as possible solely for private profit. Time is short and the need for action is urgent.

  1. Elders, especially low-income, low-wealth, and people of color elders, are and will be disproportionately affected by the increasing number and strength of heat waves, polar vortices, wildfires, floods, droughts, earthquakes, and major storms as the climate emergency deepens. Under our current corporate-dominated economic and political system, tens of millions of people do not have the resources to have a decent chance of dealing with these emergency situations. Emergency funding is needed now to expand inadequate local and state climate-change disaster infrastructure and personnel. We support the creation of climate-change disaster sanctuaries in all public schools and other public buildings in every neighborhood and town across the U.S.
  2. The world must rapidly shift from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and other as-clean-as-possible renewable energy sources, as well as energy conservation measures, such as massive insulation and air sealing of buildings, efficiency, and a widespread ethic of conservation. We particularly support “power to the people” in the form of solar and wind cooperatives including community-controlled and -led microgrids, such as the inspiring example of Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. We support democratic and community, not corporate, control over all electricity production and distribution including the local, regional, and national electricity grid. We oppose nuclear power as a supposed “solution” and mega green energy projects that seize land, push people off it, and destroy Mother Nature
  3. Those of us who benefit economically because of the Global North’s historic and continuing oppression and exploitation of the Global South have a responsibility to both consciously challenge that reality and support programs that lead to society-wide reductions in wasteful and harmful overuse of energy. Without collective, cooperative, equitable energy reductions in the Global North and moving from individual solutions based on wealth to societal solutions based on need, humans will never win the race between fossil-fuel extraction and conservation-based renewable energy.
  4. In our work for a just transition to clean energy and sustainable living, we uplift that Indigenous resistance has stopped greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to nearly ¼ (24%) of annual, total U.S. and Canadian emissions. We support returning land to Native people, recognizing that while comprising less than 5% of the world’s population, Indigenous people protect 80% of global biodiversity. We recognize the fundamental importance of Indigenous rights and support honoring all treaties signed by the U.S. government with Indigenous Nations, noting that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution defines treaties as the supreme law of the land.
  5. We support organizations based in local environmental-justice communities, those who have suffered for decades from the air, land, and water pollution caused by the fossil-fuel industry, in their fights against environmental racism and classism. Especially egregious examples are the ongoing Flint, Michigan lead-in-water disaster and the racist proposed takeover and lack of funding and maintenance of the Jackson, Mississippi water system. We call for the shutting down of existing, polluting, fossil-fuel plants and other fossil-fuel infrastructure in EJ communities. We oppose the construction of any new fossil-fuel infrastructure, as called for by the International Energy Agency (!) two years ago.  
  6. We demand societal solutions that are of benefit to all. We need all-electric, free, accessible, 24/7/365 bus and rail public transportation funded by federal, state, and local governments. Electric cars and trucks are a better solution than gas-fueled vehicles, but all-electrified public transportation and all-electrified freight and passenger rail are the best options. We support not just heat pumps and solar panels, but also widespread insulation and weatherization of all buildings.
  7. We demand the enactment of a strong Green New Deal that connects action on the climate emergency with job creation, new housing construction, Medicare for All, poverty elimination, taxing the rich, and similar steps.
  8. We demand the shift of money from the Pentagon budget to Green New Deal–type programs. The U.S. military itself is the largest single institutional producer of greenhouse gases in the world. War is the most environmentally destructive human activity ever.
  9. We call for land reform that generates a shift away from corporate, industrial agriculture to local rural and urban farming cooperatives and family farms that produce organic healthy food and are democratically controlled by local families who work the land to naturally sequester carbon in the soil. We call for an end to large-scale monoculture plantations and the continuing destruction of woods and forests and those Indigenous and other peoples sustainably living within them all over the world. We oppose all forms of geoengineering, carbon capture and storage, and all corporate schemes that only perpetuate the fossil fuel industry.
  10. Most immediately, we demand that President Biden, governors, and mayors use their powers to issue Executive Orders declaring a climate emergency and then use those powers to advance these kinds of climate justice solutions.

Time is short. Climate scientists predict that the 2023 and especially the 2024 summers will be the hottest in recorded history because of the combined effects of El Niño and global heating. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2021 that the world must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 to have a chance of avoiding major and escalating ecosystem and societal breakdowns going forward. Some steps toward that end are being taken but nowhere near enough, while the extraction of fossil fuels is actually increasing. With young people and others, we must rise like the waters because we hear the voices of our grandchildren saying, shut this crisis down.


Continue the COVID Public Health Emergency

A Statement by Radical Elders

On Monday, January 30, 2023 President Biden announced that the federal government will end the COVID public health emergency on May 11, 2023. Immediately governors declared an end to their states’COVID public health emergencies on May 11 or before.

Since Biden’s announcement there have been 1 million new cases, 15,000 deaths and 30,000 people hospitalized daily from COVID. Only 16% of U.S. residents have the new multivariant COVID vaccine.

On March 1, 2023, thirty million children and adults lost their SNAP food benefits or had them decreased. Medicaid for 15 million adults and children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) ends March 31, 2023. Among SNAP recipients, older Americans will see the largest benefit decrease per person, according toan analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

It is unconscionable to declare the COVID Pandemic over while rates of COVID infections and related deaths continue at an alarming rate especially in low-income communities of color and in particular among elders.

These communities remain much less likely to have access to tests, vaccines, and treatments and more likely to get COVID, long COVID, serious infections, and related deaths.

Since COVID began three years ago, 75% of all deaths are among elders, with the African-descent, Latinos and Indigenous elders dying at a rate 2–3 times higher than whites. Deaths from COVID-19 have become the third greatest cause of death (after heart disease and cancer), the vast majority of deaths being among the most vulnerable.

Treatment for new COVID infections and vaccines will soon be unaffordable and less accessible. Free COVID rapid home tests for Medicare recipients end May 11th, 2023. Moderna and Pfizer have announced COVID vaccines that were covered by the federal government will now cost $110-$130 each.

Radical Elders commits to fighting for an effective COVID response that addresses the systemic problems in public health, the economy, and decision-making at the root of the COVID emergency, acknowledges the crisis is not over, particularly for elders, and offers resources for the specific prevention and management needs of elders. We understand the federal emergency measures were insufficient but demand they be reinstated and insist they be expanded.

Radical Elders demands that President Biden, his administration, and the federal government:
• Immediately rescind the ending of the COVID Public Health Emergency
• Continue emergency status including expanding Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP),Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as well as free-of-cost COVID-19 tests,
masks, vaccine, and treatment access

Radical Elders asks all family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, unions, worker centers, community organizations, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples to organize petition drives, press conferences,
rallies, COVID information sessions, etc. demanding that President Biden, elected representatives and officials, local Public Health agencies continue and expand the COVID-19 state of emergency.


RE Supports Rail Workers

Immediate release allowed

December 5, 2022

We Support This Country’s Rail Workers Right to Strike For Safer Working Conditions and Paid Sick Leave!

An Official Statement from Radical Elders

On December 1st the U.S. Senate voted to deny rail workers their democratic right to strike and to side again with some of the most powerful robber barons in US history, the seven Class 1 freight railroads.

For elders, the protection of railway work and its workers is essential. For Radical Elders, that social importance is enhanced by the political importance of these workers’ fighting for the right to strike over safety and paid sick days.

Radical Elders understands that, for seniors, the agreement represents the continuing abuse of a vital part of this country’s frontline workforce. Biden and Congress are carrying out the will of rail companies at the expense of those who put their lives at risk each day to get us food, water, medicine, clothing, fuel and vital equipment. The rail-based supply line is crippled after lay-offs of over 20 percent of the workforce between 2019 and 2021. These supply-line disruptions have sent prices soaring, forcing many elders to choose between some of these basics and paying their rent or mortgage and face a potentially life-threatening winter.

We should all be rallying to honor the work of rail workers and protect their security. It’s clear that President Biden and the Congress aren’t going to do that.

Eighty Democratic and Republican Senators approved President Biden’s rail contract agreement that does not contain any paid sick days for overworked rail workers, fails to address the companies’ unfair points-based attendance policy, and does nothing to improve the federal government’s oversight of the dangerous Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR). The Senate failed to pass an amendment to guarantee the seven sick days the House passed in a separate bill Wednesday or the 15 paid sick days rail workers demanded.

“Because of PSR, our members are forced to work more hours, have less stability, suffer more stress, and receive less rest. The ask for sick leave was not out of preference, but rather out of necessity. No American worker should ever have to face the decision of going to work sick, fatigued or mentally unwell versus getting disciplined or being fired by their employer, yet that is exactly what is happening every single day on this nation’s largest freight railroads” Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees of International Teamsters (BMWED)

“This agreement,” President Biden said, “is a big win for America, a great deal for both sides. What was negotiated was so much better than anything they ever had.” The “big win” agreement calls for a 24% pay raise over 4 years (below the inflation index) and one personal day per year.

Four unions, representing the majority of the 110,000 U.S. rail workers, who handle a third of all freight, voted against the contract and oppose this week’s Senate vote: BMWED; The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; The Sheet Metal, Air & Transportation Workers (SMART); and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers: “Congress should not have to intervene. The railroads should provide paid sick leave to its employees. They have the money to do it, and it literally would cost them a penny of every dollar of record profits to provide it. It’s only 2% of what CSX, NS and UP spent so far this year in stock buybacks. It’s literally nothing to them, yet they refuse to provide it.”

Rail workers have a strict points-based attendance policy forced upon them with no relief from either the U.S. Department of Labor or OSHA: “Workers say that they have been pushed to their physical and mental limits on the job, where they are expected to be on call 24/7 — sometimes working for weeks at a time with only one day off per month — and face a strict points-based attendance policy that quickly leads to penalties.”

Instead of the federal government using the power of the President, the Secretaries of Labor, Transportation and Commerce and the Congress they have given in to every move the rail robber barons have made to increase profits by cutting the workforce, failing to modernize and maintain equipment and rails and violating safety rules. Trying to force one worker crew on trains up to 4 miles long and PSR, have resulted in more deadly accidents across the country.

We should all unite in solidarity with rail workers and their unions to force Biden to extend President Obama’s 2015 Executive Order 13706, requiring federal contractors to provide employees with seven paid sick days annually, to cover up to now excluded rail workers. The struggle over PSR, points-based attendance continue as does the need to abolish the 1926 Railway Labor Act, which substitutes bargaining, arbitration and mediation for strikes to resolve labor disputes and for the revolutionary reform of public/worker control of rail and all transportation.

Radical Elders is a U.S.-based national organization of elder activists committed to fundamental social change. It practices democracy and intentionality.

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A Statement by Radical Elders

Radical Elders denounces the criminally negligent response to the ongoing threat to the lives and survival of all vulnerable people posed by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic as the latest Omicron variants infect more than 100,000 new people in this country every day (a number that because only counts reported positive tests could be actually ten time as high when unreported positives, and untested infected people are added in).

We demand a fundamental policy change now!

There’s a reason why the US, the world’s richest country, has had the highest death rate from the pandemic of modern industrialized nations.

The U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has always been driven primarily by capitalist concern for the economy and a focus on how favored companies could make money off of it while ignoring the threat posed to the 100 million or so Americans particularly vulnerable because of age, poverty, reliance on mass transit, inadequate or non-existent medical insurance, and the many medical and physical issues related to those conditions.

Rules regarding mask-wearing, which public health experts know should still be worn in all enclosed spaces, have been dropped to exploit the ignorance of some potential voters and benefit capitalist employers more interested in profit than public health. Free PCR tests — the only tests that can assure that a person is not infectious before associating with others— have ended — replaced with quick antigen tests that are often falsely negative when infected people have no symptoms, giving millions daily the deadly, false illusion people are free of the virus, not contagious and are safe to go to work, school or get on public transit.

People, including many in the service industries, are being forced to return to in-person work situations without adequate protections and measures designed to prevent virus spread. Such actions are almost certain to produce Omicron infection.

Eldercare facilities, housing the most vulnerable people, are still plagued by absent or inadequate protection measures and have long been among the leading situations for virus spread.

The country’s prisons cram two million people into cages, denying them tests and vaccines, in a situation perfect for disseminating disease, which then gets spread to guards and visiting relatives who in turn deliver the virus to their families and the world outside the prison walls.

“This threat to elders, among whom African Americans, Latinos & Native Americans have the highest infection and death rates, must end immediately.”

We demand:

*  That beginning immediately, this threat to the elderly and other vulnerable populations end and public health policy going forward be founded on concern for society’s vulnerable, not on professed concerns about the economy, profits or the political demands of people who selfishly only care about their own convenience and don’t care about those who are at risk in society. 

* That PCR testing, rapid tests, Covid vaccinations and N-95 masks all be made available free in all public spaces — train stations, schools, churches, workplaces, libraries, town halls, health care centers, etc.

* That the Medicare program be immediately expanded by a national emergency health crisis executive order to cover the health care of people of all ages, and that this expansion then be extended not just while Covid continues to spread, but permanently.

Put simply, we will not accept being ignored or neglected at this time of health crisis.

We demand the means to protect ourselves from this killer epidemic.

Radical Elders is a U.S.-based national organization of elder activists committed to fundamental social change. It practices democracy and intentionality.

Free Mumia!

On July 3, journalist/activist and Radical Elders member Mumia Abu-Jamal will have been caged by the state for more than 40 years with thirty years spent on Death Row, after a thoroughly corrupt trial and after a demonstrably racist judge misinformed his mainly white jury they could not individually find him not guilty. The majority of these four decades he has been held in solitary confinement, with no hope of parole. Since his unconstitutional death sentence was overturned he has been a victim of multiple government efforts to execute him in prison through neglect and denial of medical care. Through it all, Mumia has maintained a posture of principled outspoken opposition to all oppression and a refusal to buckle under the unspeakable pressure brought against him.

We Radical Elders, an organization whose founding conference was addressed by Mumia, demand that he be immediately freed given the corrupt prosecution and appeal process that sent him to prison and has kept him there. We want Mumia to be present at our next gathering.

We call on all movements for justice and change to join the world, July 3 and demand Mumia’s immediate release.