Two of the three proposals are aimed at amending the Michigan constitution and state law to end Michigan’s long tradition of giving even public-sector workers rights to bargain collectively. The third proposal would let workers get the benefits of union-bargained agreements, including higher wages and better working conditions, without either being union members or paying the rough equivalent of dues.

Longtime union member and activist Lloyd Clarke, a presenter on these petitions, mentioned that the issue was really a misnomer: “It’s not about the right to work, it’s about the right to work for less.” Clarke, GPMI’s 2010 candidate for Congress in the 2nd District, retired at age 49 and is now 70. “It’s all thanks to the UAW and the folks who came before us who won the 8-hour day, health care, and safe workplaces.”

He cited statistics showing that workers in “right-to-work” states average about $6,500 less than workers in union-shop states like Michigan. The odds of getting killed on the job are higher in right-to-work states; so are infant-mortality, bankruptcy, and poverty rates. Pensions and 401(k) plans, however, are less.

The marijuana petition is sponsored by the Committee for a Safer Michigan, led by Detroit attorney Matthew Abel. Abel has been a Green Party candidate three times: for US Senate in 2000; for the 9th District US House seat in 2006; and for Wayne County Prosecutor in 2008. Issue presenter Ben Horner relayed Abel’s request to the meeting after showing a documentary on the misapplication of the medical marijuana initiative approved by 63% of voters in 2008.

The status of all proposals targeted for the November 6, 2012 ballot can be seen at

For more information on GPMI and its positions on these and other issues, please contact Green Party of Michigan Elections Co-ordinator John Anthony La Pietra via e-mail at or call 269-781-9478. Or visit to see the party’s new 2012 platform.

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GPMI was formed in 1987 to address environmental issues in Michigan politics. Greens are organized in all 50 states and the District
of Columbia. Each state Green Party sets its own goals and creates its own structure, but US Greens agree on Ten Key Values:
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Another public e-mail asks if I think we'll be able to continue to write about Iraq here with so little coverage from outlets? I'm assuming he means US outlets. The US withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2008 -- the US media, that is. The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, the Los Angeles Times and McClatchy Newspapers were really the only major US outlets in Iraq. NPR's done with Iraq. McClatchy pretty much is -- though hopefully they'll continue to allow their Iraqi correspondents to at least blog. The Los Angeles Times hasn't really replaced Ned Parker in Iraq so you can consider them basically closed down. From time to time, something pops up on their blog for the region but that's really it. The wire services remain (AP, UPI, Reuters and AFP). China's Xinhua usually has some in depth reporting. The Wall St. Journal's got some coverage of Iraq.

That's why we go with Al Mada, Aswat al-Iraq, Alsumaria, Al Rafidayn, Dar Addustour and others. Thus far, there's not been a problem of having enough to cover. For example, the Sahwa -- under attack across Iraq -- are calling for their own summit. Had things been slower, we would have covered that. Advocates in Iraq for orphans -- a huge number of Iraqis are orphans -- are attempting to pressure the government to address the situation with benefits. We haven't had time to cover that. Baghdad's water is polluted. I can tick off 20 major stories that we haven't had space or room for in the last week that are just from the Iraqi press.

When the US press was withdrawing at the end of 2008, I was in a panic because everyone I knew at news outlets were telling me that there would be no more big stories from Iraq. And, for example, that's certainly been true of ABC News (US) which hasn't been able to break a story since. But that's not been true of news in general. (Australia also has an ABC News. Just FYI.)

We made it through the US press withdrawal of 2008. We'll do fine regardless of what happens next with coverage.

A reader wants to know what I'd say the biggest story of Iraq that's received the least attention is? On any given day, that changes. However, from the start of the illegal war to today, the least covered aspect of the Iraq War has been its effect on Iraqi women. They immediately lost rights. They took to the streets early on to protest that (and successfully fought back against some measures). The New York Times, of course, led on the Iraq coverage -- they did, after all, sell the illegal war. And the New York Times' go-go boys Dexter Filkins and John F. Burns couldn't relate to Iraqi women -- though, if rumors are to be believed, they related very well to women who took their money for non-journalistic endeavors in a 'don't come knocking if the Green Zone's a-rocking' manner -- and sought to eliminate them from the coverage. This only changed with the arrival of Sabrina Tavernise to the region. And from her through Damien Cave's stay, you can see real efforts made (Alissa J. Rubin and Cara Buckley and Erica Goode are among the reporters in this period) to note Iraqi women. But then things changed again and you'd be hard pressed to find a woman in the paper's coverage today.

One of the smartest things Iraqiya's done -- something Nouri's attempting to emulate but failing at -- is make their main spokesperson a woman. I'm always tempted to use "spokeswoman" here when we're noting Maysoun al-Damlouji because I know many will have no idea, from the Arabic name, that she's a woman. (But we stick to the gender neutral "spokersperson" for all persons in such a post including the White House's Jay Carney.)

She is probably the most cited woman by the Iraqi press. If you leave out entertainers, she is the most cited woman by the Iraqi press. That was a very smart move on their part. I'm sure she earned her role but Iraqi politics in recent years aren't known for recognizing women. By not fighting her appointment to the post (which I'm sure was deserved), Iraqiya has been able to present an image of tomorrow.

As Nouri issues one paranoid raving after another about how (he just knows) the Ba'athists are coming! and they're going to take back the government, he appears more and more a bygone quality of a country ready to move on.

By having the most visible woman in politics, Iraqiya looks like the image of tomorrow. And when Nouri has tried to use women in similar posts -- for certain issues -- it's failed miserably. In part because members of his own coalition have objected but also because it doesn't fit with State of Law's image. State of Law is sectarian. It's restrictive. Iraqiya was created to be a slate for all. Those two differences are why Iraqiya was able to beat State of Law in the March 2010 elections despite Nouri's bribes ("I give you -- temporary -- potable water! Enjoy the ice and vote for me!") and his control over so much of the media as well as his repeatedly disqualifing Iraqiya candidates via the Justice and Accountability Commission.

And each time Iraqi TV shows the point-counterpoint exchanges between State of Law and Iraqiya, the image Maysoun al-Damlouji presents is one that Iraqis want.

Iraq was an advanced country and Iraqi women led in the region. That's not forgotten. Nor is it forgotten that things were better in Iraq when women had a role in the public discourse. All Nouri offers is 'little women' picked by State of Law (or Dawa or whomever) holding office and refusing to do anything that the men object to. He is the past and will remain so. Iraq cannot move forward with him in charge barring his having a major awakening (or getting on some prescribed meds).

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