Next forum: Communists, FBI Tricksters, and El Paso Justice: The Infamous Case of Clinton Jencks

Sunday, October 27th, 2:30-4 pm

El Paso Public Library, 501 N. Oregon (parking is free on Sundays, look away from the ballpark)

Speaker: Raymond Caballero, former El Paso mayor and noted attorney and historian

This presentation is based on Raymond Caballero's new book, McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019). Caballero will focus on the most important legal case in El Paso and New Mexico history, with an emphasis on how Jencks, a fighter for Mexican American civil rights and a union organizer, was denied his constitutional rights by the Department of Justice and the FBI who knew all along that Jencks was innocent. Only a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision saved Jencks from prison.

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The Controversial Selection of Dr. Heather Wilson a UTEP President

Photo courtesy of The Prospector

Photo courtesy of The Prospector

Note: Dr. Heather Wilson assumed the UTEP presidency on August 15, 2019. Her appointment to that position by the U.T. Regents generated overwhelming opposition in El Paso from students, faculty, and community residents, including over 10,000 signatures rejecting her selection on the Facebook petition "UTEP Deserves Better," which focused attention on Dr. Wilson's anti-LGBTQ voting record while she served in the U.S. Congress. Other problems with her resume included weak academic credentials, anemic support for civil rights and minority education issues, and lack of personal and professional experience running a large, Hispanic-serving institution. New questions: What does it mean for UTEP that she has an A rating from the NRA? What was her role as Secretary of the Air Force in the channeling of U.S. taxpayer money to Pres. Trump during the many stay-overs by Air Force crews in a Trump resort in Scotland? Read more-you will be taken to a Facebook page where you’ll have access to the entire article.

Upcoming Forum: Follow the Money: Campaign Finance in El Paso

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Sunday, September 15th, 2:30-4 pm

El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon

Free parking on Sunday—best to seek parking away from the ball park

Who funds campaigns in El Paso? And what are the possible benefits of big-donor contributions in decision-making on the El Paso City Council? Are there long-term debt consequences for property-taxpayers in El Paso, a city with almost stagnant population growth and excessive use of residential, not business property tax burdens? Two panelists affiliated with the Community First Coalition--Kathy Staudt and Rosemary Neill--provide some answers to these questions and seek fruitful dialogue with the audience. They provide evidence from publicly available municipal campaign contribution websites and state websites with figures on long-term per-person city debt compared to other comparably-sized cities in Texas, suggesting ominous trends for our city. Come hear about the top-twenty big donors to the mayor and the extent to which city council representatives are dependent on big donors for funding their campaigns. Other cities have solutions for 'pay-to-play' politics: Why not El Paso?


Immigration panic: how the west fell for manufactured rage

Photo taken by Fernando Méndez in El Diario de Juárez

Photo taken by Fernando Méndez in El Diario de Juárez

Thoughtful piece from The Guardian:

From Trump to Orbán, politicians are winning votes by stoking age-old hatreds. Where does this fear of migrants come from? By Suketu Mehta

The west is being destroyed, not by migrants, but by the fear of migrants. In country after country, the ghosts of the fascists have rematerialised and are sitting in parliaments in Germany, in Austria, in Italy. They have successfully convinced their populations that the greatest threat to their nations isn’t government tyranny or inequality or climate change, but immigration. And that, to stop this wave of migrants, everyone’s civil liberties must be curtailed. Surveillance cameras must be installed everywhere. Passports must be produced for the most routine of tasks, like buying a mobile phone. Continue reading

From The Guardian: David Koch leaves a legacy of death and destruction

‘This is the tragic mindset of many a rightwing oligarch: the toils, the woes, the maladies of humankind are irrelevant – unless they happen to me, or perhaps my close family members’ Illustration: Guardian Design/Guardian Design/Francisco Navas

‘This is the tragic mindset of many a rightwing oligarch: the toils, the woes, the maladies of humankind are irrelevant – unless they happen to me, or perhaps my close family members’ Illustration: Guardian Design/Guardian Design/Francisco Navas

Written by Alex Kotch

In 1992, billionaire industrialist David Koch was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given just a few years to live. Thanks to his enormous wealth, he was able to purchase the best treatment in the world, and he survived 27 more years until his death last week.

For all his adult life, he’d led Koch Industries, a diversified manufacturing conglomerate, with his older brother Charles. Now taking in around $110bn per year, the company creates chemicals and fertilizers; it produces synthetic materials such as Lycra; it sells lumber and churns out paper and glass products; it makes electronics components used in weapons systems. But first and foremost, Koch Industries mines and refines petroleum and operates pipelines to spread it throughout North America.

Koch Industries, a private company, is the United States’ 17th-largest producer of greenhouse gases and the 13th-biggest water polluter, according to research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst – ahead of oil giants Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum and Phillips 66. The conglomerate has committed hundreds of environmental, workplace safety, labor and other violations. It allegedly stole oil from Indian reservations, won business in foreign countries with bribery, and one of its crumbling butane pipelines killed two teenagers, resulting in a nearly $300m wrongful death settlement. The dangerous methane leakage, carbon emissions, chemical spills and other environmental injustices enacted by Koch’s companies have imperiled the planet and allegedly brought cancer to many people. But it took Koch’s own struggle with the disease for him to care about cancer and fund research to combat it. Continue Reading

From NPR: How Does 1 Man Have So Much Power Without Being President?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walks off the House floor in April. In his chamber, McConnell can decide virtually by himself what the Senate will do — and even what it will consider doing.   Andrew Harnik/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walks off the House floor in April. In his chamber, McConnell can decide virtually by himself what the Senate will do — and even what it will consider doing.

Andrew Harnik/AP

By Ron Elving

"How does one man have so much power?"

One hears that question asked in Washington a lot these days, often with exasperation and bewilderment.

And it is not always a reference to President Trump.

Quite often, the man in question is Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky.

The man who calls himself the "Grim Reaper" — of signature Democratic initiatives.

McConnell's status stems from his office as the Senate majority leader — elected by his party colleagues to lead their conference in the chamber. But few who have held this office have been able to wield it with this kind of results.

In today's Senate, McConnell can decide virtually by himself what the chamber will do — and even what it will consider doing.

You may have first noticed McConnell early in 2016 when he proclaimed the Senate would not consider any nominee appointed by President Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. McConnell made this announcement on his own, within hours of Scalia's death.

This year, McConnell has issued similar summary judgments on House-passed bills to reform election laws, combat foreign interference in U.S. elections and strengthen gun control.

In each of these instances, the question arose: How can one man make this kind of momentous decision and make it stick?

Continue reading

Upcoming Forum: "Follow the Money: Campaign Finance in El Paso"

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Sunday, September 15, 2:30-4, El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon

Who funds campaigns in El Paso? And what are the possible benefits of big-donor contributions in decision-making on the El Paso City Council? Are there long-term debt consequences for property-taxpayers in El Paso, a city with almost stagnant population growth and excessive use of residential, not business property tax burdens?

Two panelists affiliated with the Community First Coalition--Kathy Staudt, Professor Emerita, UTEP, and civic activist and Rosemary Neill, retired from El Paso County, and civic activist--provide some answers to these questions and seek fruitful dialogue with the audience. They provide evidence from publicly available municipal campaign contribution websites and state websites with figures on long-term per-person city debt compared to other comparably-sized cities in Texas, suggesting ominous trends for our city. Come hear about the top-twenty big donors to the mayor and the extent to which city council representatives are dependent on big donors for funding their campaigns. Other cities have solutions for 'pay-to-play' politics: Why not El Paso?