Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars Will Play in Northampton Sept. 14

The Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars band will play its soulful, dance-able reggae and Afro-pop music at the Iron Horse in Northampton on September 14 at 7 p.m. The members of the band lived in Sierra Leone until they fled the civil war there in the late 1990s. The uplifting story of their meeting in a refugee camp in Guinea is told in a documentary film that's named after the band. The DVD is available at your local public library, video store, or from Netflix. The band's new CD was released by the Vermont record label www.cumbancha.com Tickets to the concert are available from www.iheg.com

60 People Call for Peace at Northampton City Hall Rally

On August 7, about 60 people rallied at Northampton city hall to call for cuts in war funding and increases in government funding for jobs installing solar panels. Out of an annual federal government budget of about $2,900,000,000,000 about half goes to war. Details are at:

www.warresisters.org/files/FY2011piechart.pdf

Frances Crowe spoke at the event. More information on Crowe is at:

http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/sophiasmith/mnsss233.html 
Among the groups working to promote peace and solar power are www.peace-action.org and www.greenpeace.org

Northampton Nursing Home Workers Ask Public to Rally July 19

On July 19 at 2:30 p.m., Northampton nursing home workers will hold a rally for justice. The workers are asking the public to attend. The rally will be at 737 Bridge Road. Directions are at www.maps.google.com

Natalie Merchant Will Sing in Northampton on July 13

Natalie Merchant, probably the world’s best female singer, will sing in Northampton on July 13. It will be her first concert in the Valley in at least a decade. Her lyrics, and the music on her albums, are often – but not always – excellent. But Merchant’s concerts are always great, thanks to her incomparable voice.

In the song “Motherland," Merchant sings:

Where in hell can you go
Far from the things that you know
Far from the sprawl of concrete
That keeps crawling its way
About 1,000 miles a day?

Washington Judge: Valley Protesters Innocent

Four Valley residents were found not guilty of “unlawful assembly” in a Washington, DC court room on June 16. They were arrested with 21 other people for protesting torture at the U.S. capitol building in January.

Judge Russell Canan freed the arrested protesters.

The non-violent protest was organized by the group Witness Against Torture www.witnesstorture.org

Photos: Northampton Street Life

These two photos were taken on June 3 in downtown Northampton. Workers used a chemical solvent to wipe away graffiti that read, "You can't silence art." And a sign at the entrance to a parking garage proclaimed that Northampton's women and coffee are both strong. Northampton's mayor is a woman, and the city is home to Smith College, a famous women-only college.

Native New Zealander Might Sing in Northampton

Jess Harlen, a new singer from Australia with a stunning voice, has performed in Europe and Japan. Her next stop could be Northampton.

“I’d love to play there,” Harlen told the Valley Post recently. Her most popular single on YouTube, “Watch the Water,” was inspired while she was swimming in the warm ocean waters of Mexico – not too far from the U.S., she noted. A brilliant video of her performing that song is at:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvBAXq2Vdhw

Harlen writes all her own lyrics and music.

Uprising by Vermont Prisoners

Some three dozen Vermonters were on “lock down” at a private prison in Tennessee on May 14 for non-violent civil disobedience on May 12. A prison official refused to tell the Associated Press when the prisoners would be allowed to make phone calls and have their other rights restored, for example, the right to exercise outside their cells. Guards used a "non-lethal grenade" to force the prisoners into their cells.

For Massachusetts Workers, Consumers Boycott Shaw's

On May 8, workers stood outside a Shaw's supermarket near Brattleboro and asked people not to shop at Shaw's until a strike is settled. Many customers said they would do what the workers asked. Some 300 workers at a Shaw's warehouse near Boston have been on strike for weeks. Shaw's is using the Keene-based C&S corporation to scab. C&S has warehouses in Brattleboro and near Northampton. The May 8 action, and recent pickets at the C&S warehouses in the Valley, were organized by the Massachusetts and Vermont chapters of www.jwj.org

Striking Grocery Workers Will Rally in Keene on April 3

Workers at the Shaw’s and Star Markets supermarket chains went on strike March 8. There are Shaw’s stores in Keene and near Brattleboro in Wilmington, Vermont. Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 791 voted 288 to 8 to strike. The workers asked people to boycott Shaw’s until the strike is over.

The striking workers distribute perishable food like fruit, vegetables, milk, and meat to Shaw's and Star Markets stores throughout New England.

“Shaw’s has recruited C&S to scab,” said Jon Weissman of the western Massachusetts chapter of Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org