March 2002 Report
Oct 2003 | Jul 2003 | Jun 2002 | Apr 2002 || Feb 2002


Dear friend of Progressive Portal:

Konnichiwa (hello) from Osaka, Japan!

We're on a two-week peace mission, hosted by a Japanese peace and justice organization called Linking Peace and Life. Details are at

Barring technical glitches, we'll be posting updates periodically during our travels.

During the past 30 days, Progressive Portal activists have helped move Congress toward increasing international AIDS funding; we've been invited to Japan (watch for online reports from there starting March 15); and the first several people and organizations have signed on as "Day Sponsors," helping ensure the long-term success of this activist Web site.

Heiwa to Seikatsu o Musubu Kai
(Linking Peace and Life)

Activists from a progressive grassroots group in Japan called Linking Peace and Life have invited me to speak at a peace conference in Osaka March 17 and to tour the country, representing the City of Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission. Their interest was sparked when Berkeley's City Council passed a resolution calling for cessation of the bombing of Afghanistan as soon as possible.

My itinerary includes, in addition to the peace conference, meetings in Hiroshima with the mayor, peace activists, and survivors of the atomic bombing of that city on Aug. 6, 1945; and meetings with activists and government officials in Hirakata, Kobe, Kyoto, Sakai (Berkeley's Sister City), and Tokyo.

There are a number of important U.S.-Japan peace issues about which I will report back. The U.S. wants to expand its military base in Okinawa into the habitat of the dugong (similar to manatees), sea mammals that symbolize peace to the Japanese. A Japanese glass company, Hoya, makes components of nuclear weapons used by the U.S. Nuclear Ignition Facility. The U.S. government is pressuring Japan to remove the pacifist Article 9 from its constitution.

If the technology cooperates, I will post periodic reports on Progressive Portal during my travels, and hope to begin new letter-writing campaigns about some of these issues after my return.

NOTE: Merchandise orders placed during the rest of this month will be filled in early April.

AIDS Letter = Congressional Action

In conjunction with Act Up/New York, on Feb. 26 we launched our newest major letter campaign, calling for an increase in U.S. funding for international efforts to stop AIDS. In the first DAY, nearly 1,300 letters were sent!

Act Up/New York lobbyist Sharonann Lynch, after meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer's staff, said: "The meeting with Schumer went really well -- thanks to the letters they received. ... we've definitely got Schumer's staffers' ears."

As of this writing, more than 6,200 letters about AIDS have been sent. To add your voice if you haven't already, please visit:

Winery Lockout Ends with Key Demand Met

Another recent success: The Charles Krug Winery ended its efforts to bust the wine production workers' union by demanding pay cuts from long-time workers. The UFCW Local 186-D team didn't get nearly what they hoped for, but a key demand of our letter-writers -- that downward job reclassifications apply only to new employees, not to current workers -- was met. See the items posted Feb. 21, 2002 at:

Frequently Updated Action Alerts

Progressive Portal seeks to launch action campaigns on issues that aren't being covered by other Web sites. We also offer action alerts that point to other sites' action pages. Be sure to click "COMPLETE LIST" to see a more comprehensive list of items (the "Highlights" view is a minimal list, about one screenful):


Some of the most recent postings:

Web of Deceit: Earthlink Tells
Inconsistent Stories about Censoring Us

As you may be aware, on Nov. 15, 2001, our previous Web host, Earthlink Networks, without warning took Progressive Portal offline, cancelled our accounts and my personal Internet and email accounts, and invalidated all of our passwords. In the space of a few minutes, Progressive Portal was gone.

This censorship coincided with the start of a new letter-writing campaign on our site, to colleagues of a Pacifica Foundation board member calling for his resignation from the board of the progressive radio network that he and colleagues had hijacked in recent years.

The people we were writing to work at a quasi-governmental agency. We were told there was a note in our Earthlink account file saying that "someone had called" and that we were using a computer program (apparently, the program that sends out our letters) to send "spam," unsolicited commercial email. Of course, our message are not commercial, and we aren't the authors -- they are sent by thousands of individual users.

We found a new Web host and within ours were back in operation, but it was days before our site was fully functional and users could find us again at our regular location. Meanwhile, both we and our attorney emailed, called, and faxed Earthlink and its outside counsel. No response was received.

Calling such messages "spam" and preventing their distribution is a serious threat to Internet activism, particularly when it's done by one of the largest Internet providers, one that is gobbling up smaller ISPs at a staggering rate, and one that positions itself as a grassroots alternative. Last month, outraged Progressive Portal users began writing letters to Earthlink, and the response was inconsistent, dishonest, and interesting.

First, one Earthlink official claimed the service had never hosted us. Then, another official said Earthlink could not release any information because of its privacy policy. Later, yet a third person wrote that we had been warned repeatedly to change a technical problem with one of our computer programs and had refused -- a fabrication that may or may not refer to a problem that occurred months ago and was long ago resolved, with our immediate and full cooperation.

We wrote back to each of these officials asking whether we could open a dialog to get an explanation from them and resolve this disparity. None responded.

Earthlink technical staff did indeed write to us and ask us to make a small technical change to a computer program -- several days AFTER we were taken offline and our accounts were canceled, by which time it was impossible for us to access, let alone change, anything on our site. (We tried.)

Earthlink is history for us, and now apparently for growing legions of Progressive Portal users who formerly were Earthlink customers. If you want to join them in letting Earthlink know what you think of their behavior and the terrible precedent it sets, both in quashing online activism and in abrogating the customer rights Earthlink's policies promise, please see:

276 to Go: Can You Sponsor One Day
of Progressive Portal Activism?

Almost every time I tell anyone what my job is -- publishing Progressive Portal -- I get two responses: (1) what a great job that is, and (2) how are we funded?

Well, my answers are: (1) I agree!; and (2) we are funded by users who believe in our work and want it to continue and grow.

We've now launched a new way to support Progressive Portal: You can Sponsor a Day. An annual pledge of $31.25 a month will do it. (In an average day last year, our activist users sent 5,479 letters.)

Some generous people have already come forth. You can learn who they are at:

If we are able to sign up 365 sponsors, one for each day of the year, we will have a sufficient budget to increase our resources, including the number and variety of letters to write via our site, more than 20-fold this year.

Currently, we have no sponsor for March 18, 22, 24-27 and 29-31. Every day that isn't sponsored brings us closer to running out of money, so I hope you'll sign up soon.

I cannot adequately express the excitement and gratitude I feel for the opportunity to work with you on developing Progressive Portal as a resource for easy yet effective activism. We're ramping up the action now, with several new campaigns in the works for April. Thank you for your participation and support as we build this online action community.


Heiwa To Seigi (Peace and Justice),
Steve Freedkin

Our team:
Latest updates:

Please sponsor one day of Progressive Portal online activism:

Top of Page


Peace Flags, U.N. Flags, Earth Flags, Sweatshirts ...