A general meeting for USC4P& J was held in the home of Marilee Karl on April 19, 2010.
Attending were Anna, Becky, David, Ilona, Marilee and Patrick. The meeting was held at around 19:00.
Anna chaired the meeting and David took the minutes.
1) Report on the March 19 Sit-in “No more war as usual”: Anna, Becky, and Patrick all expressed alarm that so few members of the group had wanted to attend the demonstration and commented on the apparent apathy affecting members as well as the peace movement in the U.S. and Italy generally. (Patrick distributed a CIA “Red Cell Report”, obtained from the site Wikileaks, which explains to media specialists how to build on apathy and other sentiments in the populations of European countries, so that they do not follow the recent example of Holland and opt to withdraw troops from Afghanistan). Fortunately, the USC4P&J numbers were increased with the support of the Italian groups who demonstrated with them. This U.S.-Italian group collaboration seems to be working well. In any case, Anna concluded that the demonstration was successful in its own way and that collaboration with allied Italian groups should continue.
2) Report from the Treasurer: Becky provided a report on USC4P&J accounts for the period from 1 October 2009 to 19 April 2010 (a copy of the full report is available on request). The group started the period with roughly 230 € and ended it with roughly 656 € (with some film expenses still to be taken into account). The principal source of revenue for the group remains the documentary film series (kudos to the Film Committee –Ilona, Gene, David). The group's expenses are for its various political activities/demonstrations and to cover the Film Committee's expenses.
In addition, Becky informed the meeting that USC4P&J raised 640 € at its December 16 Fundraiser for the Gaza Freedom March, which was used to purchase school supplies for Gaza children. Ilona and others recalled that Gretchen had suggested, at our last meeting, that the next film – ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell', which deals with the empowerment of women in Africa, to be screened April 22 nd – could provide another opportunity to raise funds for a related group. Marilee suggested Women's World or Isis-WICCE. Marilee was asked to coordinate with Gretchen (the film's presenter) on selecting the group and making arrangements.
3) Action for a Nuclear Free Future: Anna led a discussion on the call for action on a nuclear free future, set for 30 April, announced by our umbrella organization in the U.S., United for Peace and Justice. She read from the group's statement about current U.S. moves to reduce the number of nuclear weapons while continuing to increase the budget for them and about the problem in the Middle East with applying sanctions on Iran while ignoring Israel, which is continuing to develop its nuclear weapons. Anna asked whether USC4P&J should consider a solidarity action to coincide with an anti-nuclear rally in New York or should concentrate on collecting signatures for their petition. It was decided that April 30 is too soon to plan any activity in solidarity with the rally in New York, but that members should be encouraged to sign the petition.
4) Action against the Supreme Court Decision on Corporate Political Contributions: Anna and Becky led a discussion on what USC4P&J can do to press for overturning the recent Supreme Court decision (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) allowing unlimited political contributions by corporations in elections. In the ruling, the Court said that the government may not ban political spending by corporations to support (or attack) given candidates standing for election, a decision that would allow corporate money to flood the political marketplace and increasingly corrupt the political process. The meeting decided that Becky would write a thoughtful e-mail message on the issue, drawing on Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion, and distribute it to all members.
5) Paedophilia in the Catholic Church: In Gene's absence, Anna led a discussion of the latest developments regarding the paedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church, the Vatican cover-up, etc. The meeting discussed some kind of action/initiative on the issue, whether separate or allied with Italian or other U.S. groups, perhaps related to one of the films in the film series (‘Anatomy of Hate' set for May 6th ). The meeting expressed interest in showing support for the citizens' groups coming from the U.S. on this issue later this year. The meeting decided to ask Gene (as he had, on prior occasions, expressed a particular and strong interest in issues regarding the RC Church) to take the lead on this issue and to look into various alternatives for USC4P&J action.
6) Miscellaneous Business: Two items came up under miscellaneous business: Gretchen had asked Anna to raise the question of participating in the new Retake Rome clean-up campaign publicly supported by the mayor and the U.S. ambassador. While the meeting did not think this worthy cause was appropriate for USC4P&J group action, it decided to suggest that Gretchen send an email to members of the group about Retake Rome, so that they can get involved if they are interested.
Finally, Anna (who had been contacted by an Italian fan and activist about this) brought up the idea of USC4P&J sponsoring/facilitating a concert in Rome of a Hip Hop Group from Gaza, called the Darg Team (Darg stands for ‘Da Arabian Revolutionary Guys'). The meeting showed interest but was skeptical about the possibility of raising enough interest or funds to justify an invitation. Anna was asked to look into it and report to the next USC4P&J meeting. Meanwhile, for those interested, please see one of their videos with English subtitles or listen to this song called “23 days” about the January 2009 attack on Gaza (contains some very disturbing images)