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Aug 31

The “End Corporate Welfare Polka” by Anne Feeney

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The folksinger Anne Feeney, whom Utah Phillips described as “the best labor singer in North America,” performed this song on the steps of the Berkeley Post Office Saturday afternoon Aug. 31.

Feeney, who is based in Pittsburgh PA, is on the closing leg of a 15-city tour, singing at demonstrations, picket lines, protests, and similar events wherever they’re happening — and, she says, that’s just about everywhere.

Feeney’s website, annefeeney.com, tells an inspiring story:

I’ve been ‘comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable’ since I graduated from high school in 1968. The Vietnam war and the Civil Rights Movement shaped my conscience and consciousness. I worked for a dozen years or so as a trial attorney, and served as President of the Pittsburgh Musicians’ Union. For the last 25 years I was really living my dream… on the road 200+ days a year… all over the US and Canada, and then Sweden, Ireland and Denmark. It has been my privilege to spend most of my waking hours with people who are trying to make a difference in this world… people on strike, or in a union or community organizing drive, or defending women’s rights, the environment, human rights … working to end poverty and racism … teaching peace.

In August of 2010 I was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. This disease comes with a pretty grim prognosis. As I tried to reconcile myself to this reality, I reached out to my friends for help and support. I am overwhelmed! I haven’t had to worry about money since I got ill. My heart is filled with gratitude to all of my friends and family. At this point I am in complete remission. It’s amazing news and in complete defiance of the statistics – I’ve made a career of being defiant, though – and I recommend it to all of you.

At the time Feeney sang at the Post Office, all of the Occupy-style encampment that had been in front and at the side of the building for over a month was gone.  A general assembly last Monday evening had voted 24-11 to declare victory and dissolve the encampment by today, but Berkeley police didn’t wait and cleared the tents, possessions, and occupants on Wednesday.  A speaker this morning said that about half the tents and personal effects seized by police have not been recovered, and one person was arrested and his whereabouts are unknown.

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