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Thursday, April 29, 2010

May Day: Rally for Workers' Rights and Remember Our Heroes

I regret that, because of personal issues, I didn't post this sooner. But I certainly hope and plan to be there:

Rally for the Rights of All Workers MAY DAY USA

May Day is the Global day to Honor All Workers. Come and Learn the True American History of May Day and its Origins in Chicago During the Struggle for the 8 Hour Day.
Saturday, May 1- Noon til 2 PMElmwood Park @ South 71st St. &Buist Ave. in Southwest Philly

Join us for the Dedication of a Labor Monument in the Park That Will Honor Eugene V. Debs; The Wobblies; Bread and Roses; Child Labor Reform; “Si Se Puede!”; “I Am a Man”; and Karen Gay Silkwood.

Guest Speakers:

Reverend Chester Williams- Pres., Nat’l Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees Local 509
Cathy Brady- Friends of Elmwood Park/SEIU Healthcare Pa.
Pedro Rodriguez- Member, Phila. Civil Service Commission
Royce Adams- Int. Longshoreman’s Assoc. (ILA) Local 1291
Fabricio Rodriguez- Lead Crdntr, Phila. Security Officers Union
Tom Paine Cronin- Dir. Comey Inst. of Industrial Relations @ St. Joe’s Univ., Pres. (Ret.) AFSCME DC 47
Kathy Black- Pres., CLUW (Phila. Chapter), Co-Convener of USLAW, Health & Safety Director AFSCME DC 47
Barbara Rahke- Executive Director, Philaposh

Music & Entertainment “The K&A Mob” (Rock) , “Tha Truth” (Rap) “Legendario” (Spanish Rap)

Sponsored By: The Penna. Labor History Society (PLHS) and the Phila. Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health (Philaposh)

For more Information Contact us at 215-301-2633 or

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Test Passed

It's been a little while since I gave myself any major challenges to my social anxiety, and I'd started to feel I was stagnating/regressing. But I had occasion to change that today.

I should back up and explain that on 10 March I received a notice from my landlord congratulating me on having my lease renewed as of May on new terms (higher rent) of which I'd previously been notified. Problem is, I hadn't received said prior notification. This made me very anxious as it activated the "bait and switch" trigger tracing back to my adolescent experience with a cult.

Within a few days I met with someone at Community Legal Services. He could give me limited advice at that point since I had brought the lease renewal currently in effect, but not the lease itself from two years ago. I sent him a copy of that a day or two later.

I then procrastinated a while. It took me a few more weeks to get around to actually reading the lease and start advertising that I was looking for a new place (since at that point I didn't think I had an alternative). Finally I talked to the guy at CLS again, who'd reviewed my lease and said that since I hadn't received the stipulated sixty days notice of a change in terms, it was renewed on the old terms. Of course the landlord could claim that I had received timely notice, but in any case, I was told, their position would be that a change in terms constitutes a new lease which has to be agreed to affirmatively and not just passively. It was advised that I meet with the landlord's representative to state this view of things.

For a change, circumstances actually beyond my control delayed my doing so for another week. My employer was short-handed because a coworker's heart trouble was turning out to be worse than first realized. (I felt a little guilt since I'd encouraged his interest in switching from another employer; on the other hand, since his previous job was pretty similar, there's no particular reason to think I hastened this development, which now has had him out for a week.)

But I already had this week scheduled as personal vacation (more on which below), so today I visited the management office and showed one of them the pertinent documents, and she said she'd research the issue. It was no big deal in the event, but that's just the point with exposures: you intellectually understand there's not much to be afraid of, but you have to go through the experience to prove that to yourself on an emotional level.

The reason for the vacation is another bright spot in the picture: starting tomorrow, I'll be getting training to be a Street Enumerator for the Census. This will provide a quite considerable, if temporary, boost to my income that will be particularly handy if I find I have to move without receiving a refund of my deposit.

Eric Hamell

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Federal Anti-SLAPP Legislation Being Considered

As reported in this week's On the Media, legislation has been proposed in Congress to deter so-called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), defamation cases brought not because they have legal merit or are likely to be successful, but simply to harass and bankrupt the defendants and thereby silence them, and pre-emptively induce self-censorship by others who might criticize the plaintiff.

SLAPPs have targeted a variety of groups and individuals. Environmental activists have been sued for expressing their view that an industrial facility will be polluting; James Randi and CSICOP (now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) were sued by Uri Geller and other purported psychics for pointing to evidence that they were fakers. According to the story, SLAPPs have proliferated as social media expand the opportunities for public expression.

The situation is even worse in the United Kingdom, where libel law appears to be stronger than whatever protection for free speech is considered to be in that country's unwritten constitution. A recently prominent case involving a skeptic/consumer advocate being sued by homeopaths is described here:

Called the Citizen Participation Act, the bill has been introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9). A summary by the Public Participation Project can be read at It would not supercede anti-SLAPP laws already in place in several states, but would create the option of moving a case to federal jurisdiction.

If you are in Cohen's district you can express your support through his web form at; otherwise you can write him at 1005 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Eric Hamell