Progressive Calendar 11.01.05
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2005 11:53:34 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    11.01.05

             server problems delayed this post by several hours

1. Cool cities/Dickinson   11.01 10:30am
2. Same-sex marriage       11.01 7pm

3. Socalist peace teach-in 11.02 4:30pm
4. Mpls park board         11.02 5pm

5. Alaska/oil/Norm         11.03 8am+
6. Green Technologies Tour 11.03 12:30pm Brainerd MN
7. HMO/mortality/medicare  11.03 4pm
8. Eagan peace vigil       11.03 4:30pm
9. Small is beautiful      11.03 5pm
10. Northside arts         11.03 6:30pm
11. Politics of Katrina    11.03 6:30pm
12. Police brutality       11.03 7pm
13. School board forum     11.03 7pm
14. Progressive vote party 11.03 9pm
15. Natalie Johnson Lee    11.03-07

16. Jared Bernstein - Fastest decline in real wages on record
17. Dan Raphael     - Boot Yahoo
18. Craig Aaron     - How the right has won
19. Lee Sustar      - What the "war on terror" is really about
20. John Steppling  - Zombie nation: what have we become? Not better
21. ed              - Join the army (poem)

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Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 8:26 AM
From: Cesia Kearns [mailto:cesia.kearns [at]]
Subject: Cool cities/Dickinson 11.01 10:30am

Cool Cities Hybrid Car Tour and Scavenger Hunt
Seeking solutions to global warming
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1st  kickoff press conference at 10:30am

The Cool Cities hybrid car tour is about praising the work of mayors that
have signed onto Climate Protection Agreement, and highlighting the work
of "Cool Cities" and citizens that are working toward a sustainable energy
future through local efforts to curb global warming.

Participants at each stop in the Twin Cities Hybrid Car Tour and Scavenger
Hunt will learn an example of how the Twin Cities and citizens are
creating local strategies to curb global warming, and collect ideas and
solutions for how we can move faster and farther toward sustainability.
Stops as part of the Scavenger Hunt will point out that we don't have to
do much searching- solutions are right before us, we simply have to
collect and implement them!

This day is meant to point out that by taking action with Cleaner Cars,
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy local solutions, Minneapolis and
other U.S. cool cities are proving that we can solve global warming one
city at a time and move our nation toward a safer and more secure energy

Here's what the day will look like:

10:30am - Press Conference at Minneapolis City Hall
Mayor R.T. Rybak
J Drake Hamilton - Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient Economy
Josh Syrjamaki, United Steelworkers of America

11:30am  - Green Institute  2801 21st Ave. South, Minneapolis
Corey Brinkema, Community Energy Initiatives Project Associate
Sean Gosiewski, Executive Director of the Alliance for Sustainability

1:00pm  - Minnesota State Capitol building 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. Blvd W, St.Paul
Speakers:  Representative Frank Hornstein

2:00pm  - District Energy, St.Paul,  76 Kellog Blvd. W.
Anders Rydaker, founder and president
Elizabeth Dickinson, clean air activist with the Metro Emissions
Reduction Project

3:00pm - Izzy's Ice Cream, 2034 Marshall Ave, St.Paul- an example of a
local solar energy community project.

Enjoy ice cream and discuss how citizens can continue to work with the
community and public officials to curb global warming, one cool city at a

To RSVP for the whole day, specific stops, or for questions, directions, or
more information, please call Cesia (saysha) at 612-659-9124 or email
cesia.kearns [at]

Cesia G. Kearns Conservation Organizer Sierra Club, North Star Chapter
2327 E. Franklin Ave, #1 Minneapolis, MN 55406 office: 612.659.9124
mobile: 612.310.2649

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Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 16:08:11 -0600
From: humanrts [at]
Subject: Same-sex marriage 11.01 7pm

November 1 - Same-Sex Marriage: Exploring Competing Legal & Philosophical
Contentions.  7-8:15pm.  Cost: Free and open to the public.

Professor Anthony S. Winer and Jeffrey J. Ventrella, Esq. will debate this
topic here at the U. of M. Law School on Tuesday, November 1 in Room 25.

Professor Winer teaches at the William Mitchell College of Law.  He is
currently a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association (International
Business Law section) and serves on the Board of Directors of the
Minnesota Lavender Bar Association. His scholarship includes
"Assimilation, Resistance and Recent Transsexual Marriage Cases," 1
SEATTLE J. SOC. JUST. 653 (2003) and "Hate Crimes, Homosexuals, and the
Constitution," 29 HARV. C.R.C.L. L. REV. 387 (1994).

Mr. Ventrella is the Senior Vice-President of Strategic Training for the
Alliance Defense Fund, a Phoenix-based, non-profit organization. He
regularly participates in formal debates and media interviews and also
serves as an approved speaker for the Federalist Society.  His scholarship
includes "Square Circles?!! Restoring Rationality to the Same-Sex
Marriage' Debate," 32 HASTINGS CONST. L.Q. 681 (2004).

Sponsored by Christian Legal Society, Lambda Law Students, American
Constitution Society, Law Council, Phi Alpha Delta, Civil Libertarian
Society & Law School Republicans

Location: Room 25, University of Minnesota Law School, West Bank,
Minneapolis, MN

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From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Socalist peace teach-in 11.02 4:30pm


Socialist Alternative Teach-In
Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, 4:30 PM
Coffman Union room 303

Speaker: Katherine Quarles is a student organizer for Socialist
Alternative at the U of M. She spent four years as an activist within the
German anti-fascist and anti-war movements, and has been a key organizer
for the November 2nd walkout.

Plagued with wars and conflicts, the 20th century was the most violent in
human history. After only five years, the 21st is continuing the same
tradition of violence, oppression and poverty. Anti-war activists must
start thinking not only about ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but
also how to build a society to stop all war.

Is war and imperialism a natural, inevitable part of human society or a
result of the underlying economic contradictions of the capitalist system?
What is the alternative? Is a socialist transformation possible?  Come to
a discussion with Socialist Alternative about these issues and more.

Socialist Alternative is the national organization that, alongside Youth
Against War and Racism, initiated the November 2nd Walkout mobilization.
We are affiliated internationally with the Committee for a Workers'
International (CWI - with affiliate groups in 37
countries around the world.  Our members fight in our workplaces,
communities and schools to confront daily injustices brought on by
capitalism and expand the struggle for a socialist future.

Questions?  Interested in joining? Call 612-226-9129 E-mail
mn [at]

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From: Chris Johnson <issues [at]>
Subject: Mpls park board 11.02 5pm

Please attend (or watch on cable TV) the next Park Board meeting.
Wed, 11/02 - 5pm
2117 West River Road Mpls
Cable TV channels: 14 and 79 live during the meeting, replays on channel 14

Official agenda documents in Adobe Acrobat PDF format can be found at this

Items of note include:

* 5:30PM -- PUBLIC HEARING on the proposed DeLaSalle Athletic Stadium to
be built on park property on Nicollet Island.

* An action item forwarded by the staff to pursue a retributive attack on
the Padelford Boat company, said action item containing patently false
statements about raw sewage which could open the Park Board (and hence the
taxpayer) to liability for a libel lawsuit.

Further information:  Park Watch

From: Barry Clegg <bfclegg [at]>

"For the kids" is the refrain we keep hearing from those who support
giving away a piece of Nicollet Island Park to DeLaSalle High School.

Is this really "for the kids?"  Does ANYONE believe that if North High
School wanted to build a stadium for the kids in North Commons Park that
the Park Board would be so cooperative?

It's not about "the kids."  Its all about politics, as even the most
fervent "for the kids" Park Board members admit in private.  It's about
many of DeLaSalle's Board and alumni being powerful people in our City,
many Park Commissioners are alumni, former employees or beholden to those
who are.

It's embarassing and shameful that some of the Park Board's current
majority are actively trumpeting their support of this project in targeted
campaigning to Catholic voters while turning a blind eye to the bad public
policy implications of this proposal and similar projects which seek to
privatize our parks.

Today, when we look back at the closing of Nicollet Avenue to build a
K-Mart (?!), we all wonder, " who were the bozos who decided to do that?"
Twenty years from now, we'll be asking the same question about this
stadium (and yes - even DeLaSalle's hired architechts call it a stadium).
If you want to know the answer, watch the Park Board meeting on TV this
Wednesday. --Barry Clegg Nicollet Island

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From: Sean Babington <sean [at]>
Subject: Alaska/oil/Norm 11.03 8am+

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge FINAL DAYS
(before the votes!) Senate Vote November 3rd

As you know Congress is pushing for selling leases for oil drilling on the
coastal plain, the biological heart of this great Refuge. They have used a
backdoor tactic of slipping this into the Budget Reconciliation Bill
because this bill cannot be filibustered and drilling will be embedded in
a measure with many other items. Proponents of drilling know that it would
not pass by the American public if it was not hidden. Not only that! But
the language of the bill exempts the development from other protective
environmental laws - speeding the destruction of oil rigs and roads.

We cannot let this pass - our Senator Coleman is one of a handful of
Senator's in this country that can make the deciding vote. We really need
to have him keep his campaign promise and protect the Arctic Refuge from
oil drilling by voting No on the Budget Reconciliation Bill.

1. Come to the "Campaign for America's Priorities" Thursday November 3rd
"Campaign for America's Priorities" Event
Thursday, Nov. 3rd , 10:30am - noon, press conference at 11:00am
2550 University Ave W in St. Paul (in front of Coleman's office)

We will be holding an event outside Senator Coleman's office - stop by and
show support for protecting this national treasure. important times are:

1. 8AM - join in the "constituent communications" drop in the office -
bring letters, postcards, information factsheets, and help us present them
to the office - en masse!

2. 11AM - for the "Campaign for America's Priorities" Press Conference.
Attend and show support not only for our precious Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge, but also other "safety net" programs being cut in the bill that
support farmers (Conservation Security Program), families and children
(Medicaid, food stamps and nursing home aid), and students (student loan

Can't make it? Or please do Both!

2. Plan your own visit:
Bring a letter / a postcard / a factsheet and your concerns - to Senator
Coleman's District office anytime this final week. Drop by on your own, or
with a friend or two, and let the office know that you are very concerned
that Senator Coleman keeps his promise to protect the Arctic Refuge and
votes NO to the Budget Reconciliation Bill.

2550 University Ave. W., Suite 100N (Building with the Egg an I restaurant
on corner of 280 and University) St. Paul, MN 55114 651-645-0323

Or 3. Call Senator Coleman (and call again!) 651-645-0323, 202-224-5641

Sean Babington Field Organizer Alaska Coalition of Minnesota 1313 5th
Street SE, Suite 329 Minneapolis, MN 55414 Phone: 612-379-5996 Email:
sean [at]

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From: Alan Carlson <discern [at]>
Subject: Green Technologies Tour 11.03 12:30pm Brainerd MN

Brainerd Area Environmental Learning Network (BAELN) 2005-2006 Season
Healthy Communities: People and Landscapes
is pleased to offer

The Green Technologies Tour
Thursday, November 3 from 12:30-4:30pm

This tour will visit three north central Minnesota locations dealing with
green technologies related to design and energy.

All are invited but space is limited. Pre-registration is required at
$10.00 per person. Transportation and refreshments will be provided.

Tour Highlights:
Rural Renewable Energy Alliance - solar technologies including
electricity, water heater and space heat. Featuring a demonstration home
that utilizes all three. Dedicated to bring solar heat to low income
families. <>

Hunt Utilities Group - exploring and developing systems that support
ecological living. Current and planned projects include: HUGnet, Straw
bale construction, a research campus, buildings that heat themselves
(even in Minnesota), sewage reprocessing and reuse, alternative energy,
and related business incubation.

Forestview Middle School - utilizing an innovative energy design, using
a low cost, high efficient system that exceeds the standards set for
schools today.

Pre-registration is required at $10.00 per person. To register please
send a check made out to Phil Hunsicker, with your contact information
(please include your phone number) to:
Phil Hunsicker, BAELN Treasurer
1000 Friends of Minnesota
213 South Fifth Street
Brainerd, MN 56401
If you have any questions please call Phil at 218-824-5095 or email him
at phunsicker [at]

Tour Itinerary
12:15 p.m. Meet at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) 7678
College Road, Baxter, MN (phone: 218-828-2492)
12:30 p.m. Transportation departs for Pine River
1:00 p.m. Rural Renewable Energy Alliance Jason Eden, Director
2:00 p.m. Hunt Utilities Group Campus Ray Holm, Researcher
3:00 p.m. Break - HUG Campus Refreshments provided by 1000 Friends of
3:15 p.m. Depart for Baxter
3:45 p.m. Forestview Middle School Earl Wolleat, Director of Buildings
and Grounds
4:25 p.m. Return to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
4:30 p.m. End of tour

BAELN works to create opportunities for people working in the
environmental field, and the community, to receive timely information on
environmental and sustainability issues, along with the chance to network
with other professionals. This season's theme is Healthy Communities:
People and Landscapes. BAELN is a collaborative effort of the following
organizations: 1000 Friends of Minnesota, Central Lakes College, Crow Wing
County Soil and Water Conservation District, Initiative Foundation, MN
Department of Natural Resources, MN Pollution Control Agency, Northland
Arboretum, Paul Bunyan Trail Association, and the U of MN Extension

--------7 of 21--------

From: humanrts [at]
Subject: HMO/mortality/medicare 11.03 4pm

November 3 - Bryan Dowd, Ph.D.: HMO Enrollment and Mortality in the
Medicare Program.  Time: (Reception preceding at 4pm) 4:30pm.

Mayo Professors in Public Health Lecture - School of Public Health

Bryan Dowd, Ph.D. speaking on "HMO Enrollment and Mortality in the Medicare

This Mayo lecture compares two-year mortality rates for Medicare beneficiaries
enrolled in HMOs versus traditional fee-for-service Medicare with some general
observations about drawing causal inference from non-experimental data.

Dr. Dowd is professor and director of graduate studies in the Division of Health
Services Research and Policy. He received his Ph.D. in public policy analysis at the
University of Pennsylvania in 1982. His work focuses on employment-based health
insurance, the Medicare Program, and econometric methods.

The Mayo Professors in Public Health Program honors faculty who have
distinguished themselves as internationally recognized scholars in one or more of the
fields of public health. Faculty are designated to server three-year terms as
Mayo Professors. During their term as Mayo Professor, faculty will present their work
at a public seminar for students, faculty, staff, media representatives, and the public
at large.
Location: 2-101 Hasselmo Hall (formerly Basic Sciences & Biomedical Engineering
Bldg), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus, East Bank

--------8 of 21--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 11.03 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------9 of 21--------

From: Jesse Mortenson <jmortenson [at]>
Subject: Small is beautiful 11.03 5pm

11.03 5pm
Cahoots coffeehouse
Selby 1/2 block east of Snelling in StPaul

Limit bigboxes, chain stores, TIF, corporate welfare, billboards; promote
small business and co-ops, local production & self-sufficiency.

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From: Connie Beckers <CBECKERS [at]>
Subject: Northside arts collective 11.03 6:30pm

Calling all North Minneapolis artists, art enthusiasts and everyone
interested in helping promote positive change for our community through
the arts!

Northside Arts Collective
1st Annual Meeting & Grand Introduction
Thursday, November 3rd, 6:30 to 9:30 pm
Master Development (the old Rainbow Bowl)
Broadway & 2nd Street North, Minneapolis

~Keynote by Mary Altmann, Public Arts Administrator for the City of Mpls
~Meet 11 Northside Artists exhibiting and talking about their work
~Door Prizes & Lite Fare
~Join as an Individual Artist, Business or Organization Member and Vote in
our 1st Board of Directors
~Bring your business cards for our Networking Tables

The goals of the Northside Arts Collective are to create and nurture a
network of artists living and working on the Northside, to help strengthen
and empower the community by connecting neighborhoods and artists for
education, enrichment and cultural opportunities and to serve as
advisor/partner in community initiatives where the question of art is
involved. Please join us in make these ideas a reality for our community.
For more information, call Connie Beckers at 612-521-0399, e-mail
nacarts [at] or visit us on the web at

This event is free and open to the public.

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From: Joan Malerich [mailto:joanmdm [at]]
Subject: Politics of Katrina 11.03 6:30pm


Role of Race and Class
Politics of Reconstruction
Lessons from Cuba on Hurricane Preparedness
Cuba's Offer of Aid

Thursday, November 3
6:30 - Reception
7:00 - Program

Lutalo Toure, community activist, attended Millions More march in Washington
August Nimtz, Minnesota Cuba Committee
Representative of Nation of Islam (invited)

Heritage Park Apartments Community Room
1100 Olson Memorial Highway - from Minneapolis take I-94 to Olson
Highway, left four blocks to Heritage Park

Communiversity of Minnesota
Minnesota Cuba Committee
For more information: Adrian Mack, (612) 522-9889, August Nimtz, (612)

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From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Police brutality 11.03 7pm

Community Forum on "False Reporting" Law
Thursday November 3, 7pm
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

A new law was passed in the last legislative session that makes it a crime
to make a "false" report of police brutality.  This law extends even to
people who report on it in newsletters like this one or to attorneys who
represent their clients to Internal Affairs.  The question is: who decides
a complaint is false? Is it the same department the person is complaining

Complaining about police misconduct is a First Amendment right.  Come to a
meeting to learn about this new law and get involved in getting it
overturned.  Police brutality is a crime--reporting it shouldn't be!  Be
sure to sign our petition at

For more info on either of these activities, call our hotline at

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From: Christy Eriksen <ceriksen01 [at]>
Subject: School board forum 11.03 7pm

St. Paul School Board Forum
Giddens Learning Center, Room 106W
Hamline University
1536 Hewitt Ave, St. Paul
Thursday, November 3, 7pm

All 6 candidates will be in attendance.  Forum will be moderated by St.
Paul NEAT.

Please come here from the candidates and pitch your own questions at them!
This is a great opportunity for you to hear what's important to and for
the candidates to hear what's important to you.

If you want more information, please contact: Christy Eriksen Hamline
University ceriksen01 [at] 651-523-2483

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From: erausch <erausch [at]>
Subject: Progressive vote party 11.03 9pm


Don't miss the 2005 Get Out the Progressive Vote Party

-With special performance by local hip-hop artists Desdemona and Carnage

-Screenings of the international award winning film "The Corporation"
featuring interviews by Milton Friedman, Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore
and the guerilla documentary "Always Low," a story of community resistance
against St. Paul's Midtown Wal-Mart. (Co-produced by 2005 St. Paul Mayoral
Candidate Elizabeth Dickinson)

-Appearences by Ward 2 City Council Candidate Cam Gordon and other local
Green candidates

And Radio K International's Paul Harding spinning political world beats
all night long

Date: Thursday, November 3rd
Location: Dinkytowner 412 1/2 14th Ave SE Minneapolis
visit for more info
Doors @ 9PM
18 plus
Cover: $3, no one turned away for lack of funds

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From: Wyn Douglas <wyn_douglas [at]>
Subject: Natalie Johnson Lee 11.03-07

NATALIE JOHNSON LEE for Minneapolis City Council:
Phone bank for Natalie and help her Get Out the Vote for re-election!

Thursday, Nov. 3rd - Monday Nov. 7th during the day and evening in
North and Northeast Minneapolis.

Contact Becki Smith to work out a shift and learn the exact locations.
(612) 378-0081 (home) (703) 731-5534 (cell) becki [at]

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Fastest Decline in Real Wages on Record
Inflation Up; Wages Down
October 28, 2005

Employers' wage costs grew 2.3% over the past year, the slowest growth
rate on record, according to today's report from the Bureau of Labor
Statistics. Factoring in the recent energy-driven increase in inflation,
the real wage is down 2.3%, also the largest real loss on record for this
series that began in 1981.

With hourly wages falling in real terms, the only way working families can
raise their incomes is by working more hours - certainly not the path to
improving living standards that we would expect in an economy posting
strong productivity gains.

This 2.3% rate is a slight tick down from the 2.4% - the previous
historical low - that prevailed for the last four quarters.
Compensation-wages plus benefits - also grew more slowly in the third
quarter of this year, up 3.1% over the same quarter last year, the slowest
yearly growth in six years.

For the first time in this employers' costs report, the Bureau of Labor
Statistics presented these values adjusted for inflation. Both wages and
compensation are losing growth in real terms, down 2.3% and 1.5%,
respectively, as slower nominal wage growth is colliding with faster
inflation. In both cases, these are the largest yearly real losses on

This is a broad measure of earnings, including all civilian workers. It
thus reveals an ongoing, important imbalance in this economic expansion.
Overall measures of economic performance, such as gross domestic product,
continue to perform well. For example, real GDP grew by 3.8% in the third
quarter, above expectations and an acceleration over the 3.3% GDP growth
rate of last quarter.

Yet the wage and compensation results show that this growth is failing to
show up in hourly earnings. This has two implications. First, the view
that increasing labor costs are pushing up prices is clearly not supported
by these data. There is no evidence of an over-heating labor market that
needs to be cooled by Federal Reserve rate hikes. Second, the resulting
stagnant hourly wages will make it hard for working families to truly get

Jared Bernstein is an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

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Boot Yahoo
by Dan Raphael
October 27, 2005

One of the standard arguments for the superiority of "free enterprise" is
that in the wake of economic freedom - defined as the freedom of capital
to enrich itself - political and other freedoms follow in its wake. There
are a few problems with this argument: first, it is often framed in the
broad sweep of history, looking ahead at decades or even centuries. Most
people don't have centuries or even decades to waste, when it comes to
being imprisoned, assaulted, tortured, and executed. Second, freedom
exists in many places where the marketplace is heavily regulated; in fact,
most European countries place greater restraints on the rights of
corporations than is the case in the United States. Third, capitalists are
more than eager to do the work of tyrants when it will assure them profit
in return.

A current example of this third problem is currently gaining new
notoriety. The leading multinational internet corporation Yahoo! is under
growing fire for its admitted service to the government of mainland China
in helping identify political dissidents there. As noted by Reporters
Without Borders, "We already knew that Yahoo! collaborates
enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and
now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well". The human rights
organization's website points out: "The text of the verdict in the case of
journalist Shi Tao - sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for
'divulging state secrets abroad' - shows that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong)
Ltd provided China's state security authorities with details that helped
to identify and convict him".

Lest any reader think that ten years in prison, while hard, is nothing
when set alongside the glory of money flowing into corporate coffers, it
is well to keep in mind that a prison sentence in China - especially when
handed down by a civil court rather than the special courts used to try
Communist Party members for identical offenses - can often be a death
warrant, either from beatings by other inmates encouraged by jail
management or due to lack of medicines and incarceration in unheated
cells. Such conditions were widely publicized in the case of Wei Jin
Sheng, author of The Courage to Stand Alone.

The one thing that can get the serious attention of vultures is the lack
of carrion. On this principle, a growing boycott of Yahoo! - its site,
and by extension, advertisements viewed there - is being organized by
word-of-email and a blog expressly established for the purpose. BooYahoo!
was recently created by Jim Etchison, who explained his concern in a New
York Times article. In addition to his concern, the same article also
quoted part of a letter written by Liu Xiaobo, a dissident in Beijing, to
Jerry Yang, Yahoo!'s founder: "I must tell you that my indignation at and
contempt for you and your company are not a bit less than my indignation
at and contempt for the Communist regime". He adds, "Profit makes you dull
in morality". No kidding.

As of this writing, I have cancelled my Yahoo! accounts, and no longer use
their search engine. Yahoo's profits are underwritten by oppression
sustained by its own activities. Conscientious users of Yahoo!'s services
and site should give serious thought to utilizing other services; BooYahoo
even provides a helpful step-by-step explanation of how to cancel Yahoo

Someone's life and freedom just might depend on it.

Dan Raphael has been an activist since the Vietnam war was heating up and
is a member of the Green Party of the United States.

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How the Right Has Won
By Craig Aaron
October 27, 2005

Sometimes schadenfreude just feels so good. There's nothing like watching
Tom Delay get nailed for money laundering, or, as In These Times went to
press, placing bets on whether Karl Rove or Scooter Libby would be the
first one frog-marched out of the White House. Bill Frist is under
investigation for possible insider trading. And super-lobbyist Jack
Abramoff's imbroglio - which involves Indian casinos, sweatshops, a
gangland murder, a kosher deli and Ralph Reed - is simply breathtaking.

Even when Republicans should be running for political cover, they continue
to operate with impunity. In the latest audacious example, the Republican
leadership is proposing to offset the cost of Hurricane Katrina by
slashing $50 billion from Medicaid, food stamps and student loan programs.
Yet they continue to push for another $70 billion in tax cuts, including
elimination of the estate tax.

Despite losing his title as majority leader, The Hammer still twisted arms
on the House floor for the Gasoline for America's Security (GAS) Act. The
bill - described by the Natural Resources Defense Council as a "grab-bag
of polluter-friendly policies" - barely passed after the vote was held
open for 40 extra minutes. Democrats in the chamber chanted "shame,
shame," but of course the Republican leadership has none.

Conventional wisdom says that to stay in power, a party must appeal to
swing voters and the moderate middle. If the party veers too far right or
left, the laws of political gravity should bring it down. But the Bush
administration and radical right-wingers in Congress continue to gut
programs supported by most Americans while lining the pockets of their
corporate cronies without ever facing repercussions on Election Day.

How do they do it?

That's the question political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
examine in their excellent new book, Off Center: The Republican Revolution
and the Erosion of American Democracy. They dispute that the country has
become more socially conservative, arguing the preponderance of polling
data shows that "if anything, public opinion has grown more centrist on
such issues, and more tolerant of the divergent views, values and
behaviors of other Americans."

Off Center shows how the Republicans furthered their unpopular policies
through a potent combination of centralization, misinformation, secrecy
and "backlash insurance" - a variety of tactics used to keep wayward
members in line while shielding them from voter outrage. One of the most
common forms is "catch and release," in which the leadership allows
moderates to vote their "conscience" as long as it won't threaten passage
of a bill.

The end result - seen in the Bush administration's massive tax cuts, the
energy bill boondoggle or the bloated Medicare prescription drug benefit -
is that the right's political machine now has "the motive and the means to
get into law major policies that few Americans support - and to shield
themselves from the risk that millions on the losing end of the bargain
will realize they've been had."

Cracks in the GOP facade are starting to show - almost all of the "New
Power Brokers" named in Off Center are either under investigation or
indictment. But the right won't be easy to supplant. For one, the GOP has
perfected the art of gerrymandering to the point where one political
scientist estimates the Democrats would have needed to win 57 percent of
the vote nationwide to retake the House in 2004.

So what can be done to break the Republican hegemony? The solution will
not be to hope "that the masses will wake up and suddenly take an interest
in politics," Hacker and Pierson argue. "The problem is deeper. In our
increasingly unequal society, in which government activity is not just
extensive but extensively complex, voters have proved no match for a
mobilized and coordinated conservative movement capable of managing the
agenda and shaping and distorting the flow of information to citizens."

Once upon a time, organized labor served as a crucial counterweight to the
corporate right. Unions provided much more than a bigger paycheck for
workers. As Hacker and Pierson remind us, "We often forget that they have
always been crucial political actors, helping workers identify common
issues, informing them about political and policy considerations, and
shaping political debates."

But Hacker and Pierson conclude that class still matters. "Since the
1950s," they write, "the relation between income and party allegiance -
with poor and working-class voters favoring the Democrats - has become
stronger, not weaker." The problem for Democrats is less about working
people voting against their interests than not voting at all.

There's much talk these days about Democrats needing to come up with "new
ideas" to slow the Republican juggernaut. Perhaps first they should dust
off some old ones, like solidarity.

Craig Aaron is the communications director of the national media reform
group Free Press and a senior editor of In These Times. The views
expressed here are his own.

--------19 of 21--------

The Left and a Softer, Gentler War?
What the "War on Terror" is Really About
October 22 / 23, 2005

With support for the Iraq war collapsing ahead of the U.S.-imposed
constitutional referendum this month, George W. Bush resorted to his old
trick of trying to tie the U.S. occupation to the September 11 attacks and
the "war on terror."

"The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against
humanity," Bush said October 6 at a meeting of the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED). "And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our
war on terror."

A government-funded foundation, the NED has funneled money to pro-U.S.
political movements around the world since the 1980s, most recently those
involved with pre-packaged "revolutions" that ousted governments in
Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. Bush portrayed the U.S. role in Iraq as
another example of such "democracy promotion." He also invoked September
11 and the "good" war in Afghanistan to contain growing criticism of
Washington's foreign policy and U.S. military interventions.

Invoking the "war on terror" in connection with Iraq hasn't helped Bush
reverse his fall in the opinion polls. Yet the White House has managed to
preserve the foreign policy consensus among Republicans and Democrats
around aggressive - and, when necessary, pre-emptive - use of military

Thus, the Democrats' hawkish presidential aspirants like Sens. Joe Biden
and Hillary Clinton are following John Kerry in trying to out-do Bush as
champions of "national security." Even sections of the antiwar movement
are reluctant to portray the U.S. occupation of Iraq as an element of a
broader imperial drive to dominate a strategic corridor stretching from
the Mediterranean to Central Asia.

This creates the political space for Bush and pro-war Democrats alike to
use Islamophobia to trump their critics. "Like the ideology of communism,
our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims," Bush said in his speech to the
NED. "Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the
powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions
of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except

Shamefully, some on the left still chime in with almost identical
rhetoric. "Al-Qaeda is classically imperialist, looking to subvert
established social orders and to replace the cultural and institutional
infrastructure of its enemies with a (divinely inspired) hierarchical
autocracy of its own, looking to craft the next chapter of human history
in its own image," wrote journalist Sasha Abramsky.

His article, headlined, "Our Al-Qaeda Problem," was the lead story of the
October issue of The Progressive, a magazine known for decades for its
principled antiwar politics. The cover artwork can only be called racist -
a giant, dark, bin Laden-like figure wearing a turban and waving a huge
scimitar blade and hammer at a tiny white man holding two much smaller

So after the rampage by U.S. soldiers in Iraqi towns such as Falluja, Tal
Afar and Ramadi; the farcical constitutional referendum; widespread
documentation of torture and even murder of detainees in U.S. military
prisons; accounts of a secret American gulag stretching around the world;
U.S. threats against Syria and Iran; and the collapse in support for the
Iraq war - now is the time The Progressive chooses brings us Abramsky to
act as a recruiting sergeant for a proper "war on terror."

On this issue, Abramsky argues, "progressives [have] to set some of the
terms of the debate, rather than continually playing catch-up with
conservatives." He endorses "preventive detention" for suspected
terrorists, while maintaining democratic trappings like a "speedy trial" -
as if one can be put on trial for a crime that hasn't yet been committed.

Abramsky skips over the real history of political Islam - fostered by the
U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian regime as a bulwark against secular nationalism
and the left in the Middle East from the 1950s to the 1970s. Abramsky
certainly knows that the CIA funneled money, guns and missiles to the
Afghan resistance - including Osama bin Laden - in its war against the
Russian occupation of that country in the 1980s.

If bin Laden's current of Islamism has any appeal, it's because young
Muslims grow up under repressive Washington-backed regimes and face grim
prospects in economies geared to the dictates of the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Add to this more than a decade of killer sanctions in Iraq; the deaths of
100,000 Iraqis and nearly 2,000 U.S. soldiers since the U.S. invasion
began; a low-grade civil war stoked by the occupation authorities; the
disappearance of $8 billion under a U.S.-appointed Iraqi government; and
the planned sale of the country's oil industry to U.S. and Western oil
corporations. Then there's Washington's support for Israel's apartheid
wall on the West Bank, and the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

Abramsky shrugs all this off as having nothing to do with the September 11
attacks and the London subway bombings - in favor of a virtual echo of
Bush's "why do they hate us" rhetoric.

"Indeed," he writes, "what al-Qaeda apparently hates most about 'the West'
are its best points: the pluralism, the rationalism, individual liberty,
the emancipation of women, the openness and social dynamism that represent
the strongest legacy of the Enlightenment. These values stand in
counterpoint to the tyrannical social code idealized by al-Qaeda and by
related political groupings such as Afghanistan's Taliban."

The hypocrisy of this is striking in light of U.S. politics today. Does
the word "rationalism" describe U.S. society, where the theory of
evolution is under continuous assault from politically powerful Christian

As for "individual liberty," there's always been a huge gap in the U.S.
between the language of the Constitution and the political reality of
racist discrimination - particularly in the era of the USA PATRIOT Act,
detentions and deportations of Arabs and Muslims, and other "homeland
security" measures.

The "emancipation of women" has never been achieved in reality - a fact
made all the more obvious by the assault on women's right to choose
abortion. Social dynamism? Abramsky has somehow missed economic and class
polarization in the U.S., which has led to falling real wages, rising
poverty rates and the greatest concentration of wealth at the top since
the 1920s.

Abramsky may go further than most, but other liberals and progressives
accept at least part of this case. They're wrong.

The U.S. "war on terror" is nothing more than ideological justification
for the aggressive projection of U.S. imperial power abroad - and a
clampdown on any serious challenge to the system at home. Islamophobic
diatribes are a means of providing a cover to this reality.

The task of the antiwar movement isn't to reshape the U.S. war on terror
to be more effective - but to oppose it.

Lee Sustar is a regular contributor to CounterPunch and the Socialist
Worker. He can be reached at: lsustar [at]

--------20 of 21--------

What Have We Become? Not Better
Zombie Nation
by John Steppling

"And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry
out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns
and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women
in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them
to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets
as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could
cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the
pike. They took infants from their mothers' breasts, snatching them by the
legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the
arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as
the babies fell into the water, 'Boil there, you offspring of the devil!'
Other infants they put to the sword along with their mothers and anyone
else who happened to be nearby. They made some low wide gallows on which
the hanged victim's feet almost touched the ground, stringing up their
victims in lots of thirteen, in memory of Our Redeemer and His twelve
Apostles, then set burning wood at their feet and thus burned them alive.
To others they attached straw or wrapped their whole bodies in straw and
set them afire. With still others, all those they wanted to capture alive,
they cut off their hands and hung them round the victim's neck, saying,
'Go now, carry the message,' meaning, take the news to the Indians who
have fled to the mountains. They usually dealt with the chieftains and
nobles in the following way: they made a grid of rods which they placed on
forked sticks, then lashed the victims to the grid and lighted a
smoldering fire underneath, so that little by little, as those captives
screamed in despair and torment, their souls would leave them..."
      -Bartolom de Las Casas, 1542

(Swans - October 24, 2005)  I start with this paragraph from the journals
of Bartolom de Las Casas, the 16th century defender of Indian rights in
the New World, and a witness to the devastation of the Island of Hispanola
(now Cuba). I start with this because the topic phrase "What Have We
Become" suggests perhaps we were once something better. Clearly, this is
not so. Are we speaking of just the U.S.? Then we can reference slavery
and the genocide of Native Americans. The dropping of the A-Bomb and the
fire-bombing of Dresden. We can point today to the Texas death house,
where only a short month or so ago a possibly innocent woman was executed.
If we speak of mankind in general, then we find even more atrocities to
point toward: Torquemada, Hitler, and Attila the Hun; the British
suppression of the Mau Maus and King Leopold in the Belgium Congo. These
are obvious points, perhaps, but the essential truth here is that we have
NOT become better. We are still brutish, sadistic, pathological, and
collectively ill. So, what have we become? Answer: Not Better.

So, is there nothing to say, then? No, I think what is different today is
the rise of the mass man. What I find today is a more rationalized form of
sadism. The system of domination is better oiled and runs more smoothly
and is more effective. The populace is more asleep - and on some counts
this is good, but on most it is simply another contributing factor in the
growing collective suicide of Homo sapiens.

The advances in technology have not brought sanity, but instead have
brought more oppression. Yes, there are medical achievements we can
applaud, for those who can afford them. Still, the overriding sense one
feels today is that of mediation at the hands of an authority structure
that is running in hyperspeed. Even the advances we applaud have a shadow
beside them; for while they bring prosperity or good health to many, they
also grind many more, further into the mud and muck. The system is adept
at keeping invisible those victimized by its machinery. People of the
advanced West are so asleep and so narcotized and fat and toxic that they
simply no longer see what is in front of them.

Societies need secrecy and stealth in order to oppress and cheat. They
must slink along like vipers at midnight and carry off and feed on the
most unprotected and defenseless. The armies of the world are robotic and
insane, mostly, and increasingly seem to embody a very tangible form of
the death wish. Hurricane Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Camp Gitmo, plans for
mini-nukes and Creationism in schools - this is not a happy society.

Our fall from grace - our separation from the mother - our lifelong
yearning for a return to completion - our fundamental sublimating selves
have never managed to rise above the predatory and venal. Societies and
politics only reflect this. What have we become? We have not become other
than what we always were, and that is the tragedy. The U.S. is now a
template for the madness that promises to engulf the planet. A culture of
cyborgs, of zombies, who compulsively and with growing intensity stagger
toward mental paralysis. Is it an unconscious self loathing that is
reflected in backing a Hillary Clinton? A George Bush? A John Kerry? I
suspect so. Our society has less and less "time" for its populace to spend
on idle activities or reflection. Longer hours and less pay, more stress
and the need for more justification. "We" are the best, "We" are the
richest, etc., etc., etc. At what point is such talk meaningless? (It long
ago became demonstrably incorrect.) Ortega y Gasset once wrote how animals
respond more directly to the exterior, that they respond to stimuli around
them, and when the stimulation stops, they simply go to sleep. Man once
slept better, as life was simpler. Today we live in a terminal state of
anxiety and suffer near total insomnia. We seem unable to step back and
look inward, even for a minute. In the U.S., as of 2003, one in eight
lived beneath the poverty line. That's roughly double the numbers for
Western Europe. The U.S. leads the world in per capita prison population
and we have the highest murder rate. We also, as a nation, kill the most
people in other countries. We do this in the name of progress and out of a
nerve-bending white-hot brain-melting fear. We fear everything.

So, what have we become? We have become zombies. That is the best single
image I can come up with. We are programmed by marketing and a religion of
profit. Distraction from ourselves is such an acute need that without it
we go berserk. The numbers of those "going postal" increases each day, and
the cracks in the patina of sanity grow wider. The Western turn toward
"reason" has become a principle of domination and control. The inequality
all around us is simply not seen by most Americans. If someone points out
that Cheney is living off blood money, hundreds of millions made off the
suffering of others, most Americans respond by wishing THEY were Cheney -
NOT by asking for a stop to the suffering and exploitation.


Night of the Living Dead! It is now Day of the Dead and Night of the Dead
and everything in between. Zombies. Blind, thoughtless, and narcotized. Is
there hope? I don't know. For America, I doubt it. For the planet, maybe.
The beginning of that hope is a stark and total refusal to accept any
(ANY) of the madness of this system. Don't look for compromise. Don't
expect change from those guys in expensive suits. Don't tolerate an
ideology of exploitation and inequality.

How to do that?

I don't know. I would think it starts with just turning away from the
spectacle. Turn away. Turn away and start walking, fast.

--------21 of 21--------

 Join the army. Cease
 to be all that you can be.
 Or just cease to be.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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