Progressive Calendar 05.23.06
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 01:40:28 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     05.23.06

1. No border troops  5.23 5pm

2. Palestine         5.24 8am
3. Battered women    5.24 9am
4. Superior hiking   5.24 10am Duluth MN
5. Labor/elections   5.24 1pm
6. Women/nations     5.24 5:30pm
7. Anti-torture      5.24 6:30pm
8. Citizens for PRT  5.24 7pm

9. Eagan peace vigil 5.25 4:30pm
10. Northtown vigil  5.25 5pm
11. Sami send-off    5.25 7pm
12. Steps            5.25 7pm
13. Peoples open mic 5.25 7pm
14. GLBT flame films 5.25-31

15. Patrick Martin - Democrats rubberstamp Bush police-state spying
16. Bill Blum      - But what about the Marshall Plan?
17. Tim Montague   - Nanotech showdown
18. Shelly Fredman - Howard Zinn on fixing what's wrong
19. ed             - Developers (poem)

--------1 of 19--------

Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 14:18:26 -0500
From: ereiam j.h. <sembl001 [at]>
Subject: No border troops 5.23 5pm

No Troops at the Border! Full Legalization Now!
Protest on Tuesday, May 23 @ 5pm
Minneapolis Federal Building, 4th St. & 4th Ave, Downtown Minneapolis

On national television on May 15th, Bush announced his version of
immigration reform - sending 6000 troops to the US-Mexico border. His
plans are yet another example of Bush's use of violence as a solution to
every problem. The Bush administration will send thousands of troops to
the border in order to arrest millions of immigrant workers as they try to
cross the border in desperate search for employment. Bush's decision to
use the military to erect "high tech fences in urban corridors," will
force people into ever more dangerous and deadly crossings, and will send
an ever larger number of people to silent death.

People throughout the US - in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles -
have mobilized against Bush's call to militarize the US-Mexico border.
Join us for a protest here in Minneapolis to say: No to Bush's
anti-immigrant campaign! Stop racist deportations and border
militarization! Support full civil rights and legalization for all
undocumented workers!

Initiated by the Anti-War Committee

--------2 of 19--------

From: humanrts [at]
Subject: Palestine 5.24 8am

May 24 - The Interplay of Faith and Politics in Israel/Palestine with
Chuck Lutz. 8-9:30am. St Martins Table, 2001 Riverside Mpls

The Interplay of Faith and Politics in Israel/Palestine with Chuck Lutz,
journalist, MN coordinator for Churches for MidEast Peace. People of Faith

FFI ejyackel [at]

--------3 of 19--------

From: erin [at]
Subject: Battered women 5.24 9am

Wednesday, May 24 and Thursday, May 25: MN Coalition for Battered Women
Domestic Violence Training 101 in Virginia, MN. 9 AM-5 PM on both days.
Conference Room A, Arrowhead Center, 505 - 12th Avenue West, Virginia.

--------4 of 19--------

From: GibbsJudy [at]
Subject: Superior hiking 5.24 10am Duluth MN

The Superior Hiking Trail seeks volunteers t build 40 miles of trail
through the City of Duluth. No experience is necesary, all ages welcome,
tools provided. Dress for the weather and bring a lunch and plenty of
fluids. Call Judy at 728-9827 or email at gibbsjudy [at] for more
information. There are other opportunties other than what is listed here
to get involved.

Wednesday May 24, 10-3 pm. Meet at the main pullout on Skyline Drive between
Piedmont Ave and Haines/40th Ave. W.
Thursday May 25, 10-3 pm. Meet at the main pullout on Skyline Drive between
Piedmont Ave and Haines/40th Ave. W.

--------5 of 19--------

From: <llwright [at]>
Subject: Labor/elections 5.24 1pm

Help us launch the St. Paul Trades & Labor Assembly's program for Election
2006 Wednesday, May 24 at 411 Main in St. Paul

Day Session 1-5pm.

Join us for trainings by the Labor Education Service:
* Rethinking How We Talk Politics
* Building Power through One-to-One Communications

Evening Session 6-9pm.

We officially launch the Assembly's Political Program for the 2006
elections! Join us for a discussion of our plans for this year - and how
the labor movement can work together to elect our candidates.

We'll also have sessions by the Labor Education Service:
* Getting Past the Wedge Issues
* "Delivering the Mail:" A Fresh Approach to Engaging Members

Come for the afternoon, evening or both! Refreshments will be provided.
For more information and to RSVP, contact Bree Halverson,
651-222-3787, ext. 15 or bhalverson [at]

--------6 of 19--------

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at]>
Subject: Women/nations 5.24 5:30pm

Wednesday, May 24. 5:30-8pm.  Women of Nations Spring Feast at Smith Hall,
627 Smith Avenue (across the High Bridge) in West St. Paul, MN, Another
delicious feast and celebration, Free and open to the public, FMI call
Gennet (651) 251-1603 or Rick at (651) 251-1606 or visit: <>

--------7 of 19--------

From: Dave Bicking  <dave [at]>
Subject: Anti-torture 5.24 6:30pm

Every Wednesday, meeting of the anti- torture group, T3: Tackling Torture
at the Top (a sub-group of WAMM).  Note new location:  Center School, 2421
Bloomington Ave. S., Mpls.

We have also added a new feature:  we will have an "educate ourselves"
session before each meeting, starting at 6:30, for anyone who is
interested in learning more about the issues we are working on.  We will
share info and stay current about torture in the news.

--------8 of 19--------

Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 20:12:52 -0500
From: Margaret Beegle <beegle [at]>
Subject: Citizens for PRT 5.24 7pm

The Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit annual election meeting is on
Wednesday, May 24, at 7pm at Minnehaha United Methodist Church in
Minneapolis. We are electing a Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and four
directors. Please attend and make your voice heard. Website

--------9 of 19--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 5.25 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.

--------10 of 19--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 5.25 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5 to 6 pm, at the intersection of Co.
Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley,
and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------11 of 19--------

From: Sue Ann <mart1408 [at]>
Subject: Sami send-off 5.25 7pm

Sami Rasouli Returns to Iraq : A Send-off and Thank You to Supporters

Thursday May 25, 7pm
St. Joan of Arc Church , 4537 Third Avenue South , Minneapolis

Original Iraqi artwork for sale
Hors d'oeuvres from Sinbad Deli & Market
Doors open at 6:30pm
Large public parking lot

After more than ninety speaking engagements in Minnesota and Wisconsin, a
trip to New Orleans and meetings with Human Rights groups in Washington,
DC, Sami Rasouli will return to Iraq to continue his work with the
Christian and Muslim Peacemakers Teams.  Sami will speak about his
experience with U.S. audiences, his trips to New Orleans and Washington,
DC and his plans upon returning to Iraq.

--------12 of 19--------

From: Karen Engelsen <siribear [at]>
Subject: Steps 5.25 7pm

7-9 pm May 25 Steps to Health and Personal Sustainability: Living the Life
You've Always Wanted - A Workshop on Possibilities by Certified Yoga
Instructor and Artaria String Quartet member Annalee Wolf and Alliance
President Terry Gips at Lunds Uptown, 1450 West Lake St., Minneapolis -
Upstairs in the Community Room.

Through music, yoga, meditation, discussion and fun we'll explore the
possibilities of creating a healthy, balanced life while making a
difference. We'll explore the challenges we face and how we can use
alternative Nobel Prize-winning Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef's ten
basic human needs and other innovative approaches in taking some key steps
to creating an organic, humane life and world you'll love.

--------13 of 19--------

From: Jennifer <jennifer_nemo [at]>
Subject: People's open mic 5.25 7pm

May 25 Thursday 7-9pm. Minnesota Spoken Word Associationâ's People's Open
Mic: Poetry for the People by the People. Every Thursday. Lula's Coffee
and Jazz, 3400 Nicollet Av, Mpls

--------14 of 19--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: GLBT flamin' films 5.25-31

Cruisin' with Rosie

Annual Flaming Film Festival opens May 25 (through May 31)

Enough Man, by Luke Woodward, explores the body image and sexuality
issues of nine female-to-male transmen and their partners. May 27 at
Bedlam Theater.

by Morgon Mae Schultz
Minnesota Women's Press

As if Lisa Ganser didn't have enough on her plate with programming,
promoting and drumming up financial support for the annual Flaming Film
Festival, this year she's picking up slack for its defunct big-sister
event, the LGBT Film Festival.

The Flaming Film Festival, a weeklong celebration of queer films that
brings local and national work to area screens, used to take a back seat
to the larger event. But Minnesota Film Arts abandoned its long-running
LGBT Film Festival after its 2004 run, citing low attendance and "a lack
of internal connections to the [LGBT] community."

So the Flaming Film Festival, which typically serves its movies raw, is
taking on some near-mainstream fare. For instance, All Aboard!, a movie
about Rosie and Kelli O'Donnell's gay-friendly family cruise, opens the
festival on May 25.

Ganser hopes the sleeker pieces will draw new viewers, but she
acknowledges the risk of losing street cred. "Our built-in community is
looking for something more edgy," she said.

And edgy they've got. Director Ellen Flanders' Zero Degrees of Separation
documents Israeli-Palestinian violence through lens of gay and lesbian
cross-border relationships. Also, guest curator Lisa Vandever showcases
collections of "sexplicit" erotica, including leather-fetish films. It's
the kind of 18-plus material that, in the past, has had some folks
dismissing the fest as too flaming. Three out of 25 screenings this year
are adult-only because of sexually explicit material, Ganser said. "That's
12 percent! I think most people have 12 percent of their sexuality that
they don't show."

Flaming Film Festival also forges relationships between filmmakers and
viewers. Director Samantha Farinella joins the audience for a screening of
Left Lane; the film follows spoken word artist Alix Olson on a nationwide
tour. Local singer-songwriter Ellis follows All Aboard! with a live
performance. This year's fest also includes three youth screenings - those
21 and younger get in free.

Flaming Film Festival: May 25-31
Various Minneapolis venues
Tickets $7

--------15 of 19--------

Senate hearing on CIA nominee: Democrats rubberstamp Bush police-state
By Patrick Martin
19 May 2006

The Senate hearing Thursday on the nomination of General Michael Hayden to
head the Central Intelligence Agency demonstrates the bipartisan
congressional support for the Bush administration's assault on the
democratic rights of the American people.

While there were scattered criticisms of the methods of the Bush
administration, particularly its failure to consult with Congress, every
senator on the Intelligence Committee accepted the premise that the United
States is engaged in a "war on terror" and that the Bush administration's
escalation of domestic surveillance and wiretapping is a product of that

There was no challenge to the Orwellian label, "terrorist surveillance
program," which the Bush administration has chosen to apply to a program
which actually involves the surveillance of the telephone calls and
Internet messaging of nearly the entire American population-an estimated
225 million people. It would be far more accurate to describe the
electronic monitoring and data-mining by the National Security Agency
(NSA) as the "universal surveillance program"-or as the Pentagon once
labeled its own version of the program, "Total Information Awareness."

Not one senator, on the Intelligence Committee or off it, will acknowledge
the basic truth that the Bush administration is a far greater threat to
the democratic rights of the American people than all the terrorists in
the world. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda may be capable of terrible crimes,
but they cannot impose a totalitarian dictatorship in the United States.
That threat comes solely from the American ruling elite and its
military-intelligence apparatus.

[So why do we bow and scrape to these miserable arrogant parasites? This
is a sick American Dream, best scuttled. -ed]

General Michael Hayden is a sworn enemy of the democratic rights of the
American people. In his six years as head of the NSA, from 1999 to 2005,
he was responsible for both the program of interception and eavesdropping
on international phone calls, revealed by the New York Times in December,
and the creation of an enormous database of the telephone calling records
of 225 million Americans, made public by USA Today May 11.

While some press reports in the past week have suggested that the domestic
telephone monitoring was less sweeping than reported by USA Today, perhaps
limited to long distance phone calls, about 20 percent of the total, the New
York Times quoted an unnamed "senior government official, granted anonymity
to speak for publication about the classified program" confirming that "the
security agency had access to records of most telephone calls in the United

A lawsuit brought by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), a group
opposed to Internet censorship and spying, has produced evidence of
widespread interception of traffic on the web by the same telecommunications
companies that turned over phone records to the NSA. EFF legal director
Cindy Cohn told Bloomberg News Wednesday that AT&T had carried out
"real-time diversion of customer Internet data" as part of its collaboration
with the NSA.

In his appearance before the Senate committee, Hayden adamantly defended
both the legality and the necessity of telecommunications spying, while
refusing to discuss any aspect of the program except in a closed session,
where members of the Senate panel were sworn to secrecy. This was combined
with a denunciation of leaks to the press which exposed both the illegal
domestic surveillance and the CIA's network of secret prisons overseas,
where selected prisoners are interrogated and tortured outside of any legal
process. CIA officers "deserve not to have every action analyzed,
second-guessed, and criticized on the front pages of the newspapers," he

Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, sounded
the same note in his opening remarks, when he rejected concerns that
domestic spying was a violation of democratic rights, declaring, "You have
no civil liberties if you are dead." This is a particularly moronic version
of the bullying threats by the Bush White House that anyone who criticizes
its repressive measures is opening the way for new 9/11-style attacks.

Roberts also denounces critics of the NSA spying as ill-informed, saying
they were talking about a subject "about which they know little or nothing."
This was a curious line of argument, given that the intelligence agencies,
the Bush administration and its congressional apologists like Roberts have
done their best to keep the American people in the dark about these abuses.
Presumably only those who know quite a lot about the spying-i.e., the
wiretappers themselves, and their political overseers-should be permitted to
discuss the subject, and then only behind closed doors.

The chief spokesmen for the Democrats on the committee, Senator Carl Levin
of Michigan, accepted the framework put forward by Roberts, only in more
restrained language. "The war on terrorism not only requires objective,
independent intelligence analysis," Levin said, "it also requires us to
strike a thoughtful balance between our liberty and our security."

The truth behind this soporific cliché, however, is that the liberty of
the American people is being sacrificed to provide greater security for
the US ruling class, the privileged class of multimillionaires and
corporate CEOs who use both the Democratic and the Republican parties as
their political instruments. The ruling elite is far more fearful of the
intensifying opposition to the Iraq war and of a mass political upheaval
provoked by the growing socioeconomic polarization within the United
States than it is of any possible action by small bands of terrorists.

[The sooner the ruling class is deposed, the better; then we can get on
with making life better for all the rest of us.  -ed]

In selecting Hayden as the nominee to head the CIA, Bush is signaling an
escalation of this war against the democratic rights of the American people.
Hayden headed a top-secret spy agency, the NSA, which is supposedly focused
entirely on foreign signals intelligence and legally prohibited from
targeting Americans. Under his leadership, the NSA was refocused on the
American population, accumulating what USA Today described as "the biggest
database in the history of the world," consisting of the personal telephone
records of nearly every person in the country.

There is every reason to believe that Hayden will play the same role at the
CIA, another top-secret spy agency supposedly focused entirely on foreign
intelligence and legally prohibited from targeting Americans. He is tasked
by the Bush administration to intensify domestic operations of the CIA which
are no doubt already under way on a large scale.

In that context, one should note the fact reported by the New York Times
Thursday: by next year the number of trained CIA case officers will have
tripled since 2001. Who are these agents and where are they at work? Few of
these new recruits are likely to speak Arabic, Farsi, Pashtun, Chinese or
other languages necessary for assignment as intelligence operatives in the
countries on the Pentagon's current target list. They don't know the
cultures of those countries, but these recruits do speak English and could
operate undetected within the United States. Many of them are likely already
deployed in domestic spy operations, despite the legal prohibitions.

Hayden gave a hint of this in his opening statement, when he declared, "I
would reaffirm the CIA's proud culture of risk-taking." He was using
political code words to reassure right-wing critics of the CIA, who have
complained that the agency became too timid after the exposure in the 1970s
of CIA involvement in assassination plots, fomenting military coups overseas
and other criminal activities, including illegal domestic spying. The "old
firm" is back in business, Hayden was suggesting, and once again, anything

The public hearing, which began Thursday morning, took on the character of a
stage-managed farce, in which the participants were going through the
motions by rote. One Republican after another voiced praise for the nominee
and for President Bush. One Democrat after another raised questions, only to
be told by Hayden that he could not discuss the issue in open session but
would respond fully in the closed session, scheduled for the afternoon.

Among the questions he declined to answer were those related to NSA
wiretapping, his attitude to torture techniques such as "waterboarding," and
his opinion on whether the US government could hold a prisoner without trial
indefinitely, even for life.

The ritual of the hearing was preceded by a secret briefing Wednesday of the
full Intelligence Committee, conducted by the current head of the NSA,
General Keith Alexander, who provided details of the eavesdropping program
directed at international phone calls placed by or to telephone numbers in
the United States. This is the program first made public by the New York
Times last December.

The Bush administration had refused to brief the full membership of the
committee, limiting the information to a selected subcommittee of only seven
of the 15 members. It became impossible to sustain this arrangement given
that Hayden would have to testify before the entire committee in closed

The briefing satisfied one of the principal demands of both the Democrats
and some "moderate" Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, which was
that all the members from both parties should have access to information on
the eavesdropping program so they could exercise "oversight." As an
unacknowledged quid pro quo, the Democrats will rubberstamp the nomination
of Hayden to head the CIA.

No member of either party has suggested that the illegal program be shut
down. Instead, they have debated whether the program should be retroactively
legalized through new legislation or simply allowed to continue on the basis
of Bush's assertion of executive authority.

The complicity of both parties in Congress with the illegal program of
domestic surveillance was underscored by the administration's release
Wednesday of a list of 30 briefings on the program that it conducted with
Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate since the
September 11 terrorist attacks. A total of 31 members of Congress attended
at least one such briefing, far more than the eight previously reported,
including five briefings for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The list includes seven Senate Democrats: two former senators, former
Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and former Intelligence Committee chairman Bob
Graham; and five currently in the Senate, John D. Rockefeller IV, Carl
Levin, Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Diane Feinstein and Daniel Inouye. The
seven House Democrats included Pelosi, Jane Harman, the ranking member of
the Intelligence Committee, John Murtha, Rush Holt, Anna Eshoo, Bud Cramer
and Leonard Boswell.

--------16 of 19-------

But what about the Marshall Plan?
By Bill Blum
ZNet Commentary
May 22, 2006

During my years of writing and speaking about the harm and injustice
inflicted upon the world by unending United States interventions, I've
often been met with resentment from those who accuse me of chronicling
only the negative side of US foreign policy and ignoring the many positive
sides. When I ask the person to give me some examples of what s/he thinks
show the virtuous face of America's dealings with the world in modern
times, one of the things almost always mentioned is The Marshall Plan.
This is explained in words along the lines of: "After World War II, we
unselfishly built up Europe economically, including our wartime enemies,
and allowed them to compete with us." Even those today who are very
cynical about US foreign policy, who are quick to question the White
House's motives in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, have no problem in
swallowing this picture of an altruistic America of the period of

After World War II, the United States, triumphant abroad and undamaged at
home, saw a door wide open for world supremacy. Only the thing called
"communism" stood in the way, politically, militarily, and ideologically.
The entire US foreign policy establishment was mobilized to confront this
"enemy", and the Marshall Plan was an integral part of this campaign. How
could it be otherwise? Anti-communism had been the principal pillar of US
foreign policy from the Russian Revolution up to World War II, pausing for
the war until the closing months of the Pacific campaign, when Washington
put challenging communism ahead of fighting the Japanese. This return to
anti-communism included the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan as a
warning to the Soviets. [1]

After the war, anti-communism continued as the leitmotif of foreign policy
as naturally as if World War II and the alliance with the Soviet Union had
not happened. Along with the CIA, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations,
the Council on Foreign Relations, various corporations, and other private
institutions, the Marshall Plan was one more arrow in the quiver in the
remaking of Europe to suit Washington's desires -- spreading the
capitalist gospel (to counter strong postwar tendencies towards
socialism); opening markets to provide new customers for US corporations
(a major reason for helping to rebuild the European economies; e.g.,
almost a billion dollars of tobacco, at 1948 prices, spurred by US tobacco
interests); pushing for the creation of the Common Market and NATO as
integral parts of the West European bulwark against the alleged Soviet
threat; suppressing the left all over Western Europe, most notably
sabotaging the Communist Parties in France and Italy in their bids for
legal, non-violent, electoral victory. Marshall Plan funds were secretly
siphoned off to finance this last endeavor, and the promise of aid to a
country, or the threat of its cutoff, was used as a bullying club; indeed,
France and Italy would certainly have been exempted from receiving aid if
they had not gone along with the plots to exclude the communists.

The CIA also skimmed large amounts of Marshall Plan funds to covertly
maintain cultural institutions, journalists, and publishers, at home and
abroad, for the heated and omnipresent propaganda of the Cold War; the
selling of the Marshall Plan to the American public and elsewhere was
entwined with fighting "the red menace". Moreover, in its covert
operations, CIA personnel at times used the Marshall Plan as cover, and
one of the Plan's chief architects, Richard Bissell, then moved to the
CIA, stopping off briefly at the Ford Foundation, a long time conduit for
CIA covert funds; one big happy family.

The Marshall Plan imposed all kinds of restrictions on the recipient
countries, all manner of economic and fiscal criteria which had to be met,
designed for a wide open return to free enterprise. The US had the right
to control not only how Marshall Plan dollars were spent, but also to
approve the expenditure of an equivalent amount of the local currency,
giving Washington substantial power over the internal plans and programs
of the European states; welfare programs for the needy survivors of the
war were looked upon with disfavor by the United States; even rationing
smelled too much like socialism and had to go or be scaled down;
nationalization of industry was even more vehemently opposed by
Washington. The great bulk of Marshall Plan funds returned to the United
States, or never left, to purchase American goods, making American
corporations among the chief beneficiaries.

It could be seen as more a joint business operation between governments,
with contracts written by Washington lawyers, than an American "handout";
often it was a business arrangement between American and European ruling
classes, many of the latter fresh from their service to the Third Reich,
some of the former as well; or it was an arrangement between Congressmen
and their favorite corporations to export certain commodities, including a
lot of military goods. Thus did the Marshall Plan lay the foundation for
the military industrial complex as a permanent feature of American life.

It is very difficult to find, or put together, a clear, credible
description of how the Marshall Plan was principally responsible for the
recovery in each of the 16 recipient nations. The opposing view, no less
clear, is that the Europeans -- highly educated, skilled and experienced
-- could have recovered from the war on their own without an extensive
master plan and aid program from abroad, and indeed had already made
significant strides in this direction before the Plan's funds began
flowing.  Marshall Plan funds were not directed primarily toward feeding
individuals or building individual houses, schools, or factories, but at
strengthening the economic superstructure, particularly the iron-steel and
power industries. The period was in fact marked by deflationary policies,
unemployment and recession. The one unambiguous outcome was the full
restoration of the propertied class. [2]


[1] See my essay on the use of the atomic bomb:

[2] See, for example, Joyce & Gabriel Kolko, "The Limits of Power: The
World and US Foreign Policy 1945-1954" (1972), chapters 13, 16, 17; Sallie
Pisani, "The CIA and the Marshall Plan" (1991) passim; Frances Stoner
Saunders, "The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the world of arts and
letters" (2000) passim

--------17 of 19--------

By Tim Montague

Just in time for summer, a group of eight environmental and public
interest groups have petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to recall nanotech sunscreens from supermarket shelves. This
will force FDA to finally decide whether nano particles are something
radically new or not.

Nano particles are named for their small size (a nanometer is a
billionth of a meter), and nano particles are smaller than anything
humans have ever put into commercial products before. Their tiny size
changes their characteristics completely. If they didn't represent
something new, they wouldn't have the commercial world excited. At
present something like a goldrush mentality surrounds nanotech.

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the International Center for
Technology Assessment on May 17 demanded of FDA "that nanoparticles be
treated as new substances; nanomaterials be subjected to nano-specific
paradigms of health and safety testing; and that nanomaterial products
be labeled to delineate all nanoparticle ingredients." In other words,
they are asking the FDA to wake up to the consensus of respected
scientific bodies like the British Royal Society who concluded in
their 2004 report that nano particles are different from anything
humans have ever created before and that we need to take a
precautionary approach.

The petition to FDA says, "Engineered nanoparticles have fundamentally
different properties from their bulk material counterparts --
properties that also create unique human health and environmental
risks -- which necessitate new health and safety testing paradigms."
And this is confirmed by scientists like Gunter Oberdorster who has
written text books on the subject and a recent review of
'nanotoxicology'. Until now, FDA (like U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) have
remained oblivious to all nanotech health risks. Their position is
that carbon is carbon regardless of the size of its particles, zinc is
zinc, and titanium is titanium. Size does not matter, says FDA.

But every physicist knows that size matters a great deal. The smaller
an object is, the larger its surface is in relation to its volume.
Thus nano particles have an enormous surface to volume ratio, which
renders them biologically active. Oberdorster says, "This increased
biologic activity can be either positive and desirable (e.g.,
antioxidant activity, carrier capacity for therapeutics, penetration
of cellular barriers for drug delivery) or negative and undesirable
(e.g., toxicity, induction of oxidative stress or of cellular
dysfunction), or a mix of both."

Now public interest organizations are asking the FDA to "Declare all
currently available sunscreen drug products containing engineered
nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as an imminent hazard
to public health." The petition (2.8 MB) and a related report (4
MB) by Friends of the Earth (FOE) expose the dark underbelly of the
health and beauty industry that has joined the nanotech gold rush
without much thought for the short or long term consequences to nature
or human health. But how could they? The structure of the modern
corporation doesn't allow for ethical perspectives or precautionary
action if they might significantly limit the bottom line.

Next time you (or your kids) want to slather up with your favorite
sunblock, remember that the active ingredient in the sunscreen --
typically zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide -- could very well be a
nanomaterial. There are now hundreds of sunscreens, moisturizers,
cosmetics and other personal care products containing sub-microscopic
materials that we simply don't understand. And because the FDA doesn't
require labeling, consumers are left in the dark -- a vast experiment
with only one winner, and that isn't you or me.

We aren't talking about the same zinc oxide that you knew as a youth
on lifeguard's noses. Nanoscale engineered materials (smaller than 100
nanometers in diameter -- iron, aluminum, zinc, carbon, and many
others) are measured in billionths of a meter. A human hair is 80,000
nanometers wide. A strand of DNA is 3.5 nm across. The nanoworld is
quite a different place -- a world where particles can pass directly
from the environment into your bloodstream, tissues, cells and
organelles. The nano revolution has burst upon us for just that reason
-- nanomaterials take on new and unique properties that make them
attractive as drug delivery vehicles, chemical sponges and nano-robot
("nanobot") building blocks.

There are three typical ways in which nanomaterials get into our
bodies -- we breath them, ingest them or absorb them through our skin.
And despite the evidence that nanomaterials cause lung, liver and
brain damage in animals, our Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is
treating nanomaterials like their standard or bulk sized counterparts
of yesteryear.

In March, 2006, Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC) summarized the state of regulatory affairs for nanotechnology
thus: "The Toxic Substances Control Act is the most obvious law for
regulating nanomaterials. But the law does not require manufacturers
to provide safety data before registering a chemical, instead placing
the burden on the government to demonstrate that a substance is
harmful. If the government does not follow up on potential risks with
a new product application within several months, the company can
proceed to sell its product. Other laws on the books also are
inadequate. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act [giving FDA regulatory
power] includes only feeble safeguards for cosmetics, which already
promise to be a major use of nanomaterials. Likewise, the poorly
enforced Occupational Safety and Health Act fails to address nano-
specific worker protections."

As we reported in Rachel's #816, the British Royal Society
(approximately the equivalent of our National Academy of Sciences)
issued a report in July 2004 recommending a series of precautionary
actions based on their review of the scientific literature on the
possible health effects of nanomaterials:

** "The evidence we have reviewed suggests that some manufactured
nanoparticles and nanotubes are likely to be more toxic per unit mass
than particles of the same chemicals at larger size and will therefore
present a greater hazard."

** "There is virtually no evidence available to allow the potential
environmental impacts of nanoparticles and nanotubes to be evaluated."

** Therefore, "the release of nanoparticles to the environment [should
be] minimized until these uncertainties are reduced."

** And, "until there is evidence to the contrary, factories and
research laboratories should treat manufactured nanoparticles and
nanotubes as if they were hazardous and seek to reduce them as far as
possible from waste streams."

At the heart of the health and safety concerns is the tendency for
nanoparticles like fullerenes, nanotubes, and nanoparticle metal
oxides to produce free radicals -- charged atoms that are highly
reactive and which can cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and
subsequent damage to cells and tissue. A recent study by Duke
University found that fullerenes (Buckyballs) cause brain damage in
large mouth bass.

The FOE report says "Because of their size, nanoparticles are more
readily taken up by the human body than larger sized particles and are
able to cross biological membranes and access cells, tissues and
organs that larger sized particles normally cannot." Once in the blood
stream, nanomaterials can affect all of the organs and tissues of the
body including the bone marrow, heart, lungs, brain, liver, spleen and
kidneys. But little is known about what dose may cause harmful effects
or how long different nanomaterials remain in various tissues.

It is known that nanoparticles can inhibit the growth of and kill
kidney cells. At the cellular level, unlike larger particles,
nanomaterials can pass into organelles like the mitochondria -- the
power plant of the cell -- and cell nucleus where they can cause DNA
mutation and cell death.[1 p. 7]

Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide -- widely used in
sunscreens and cosmetics -- are photo active, "producing free radicals
and causing DNA damage to human skin cells when exposed to UV
light."[1 p.7] Although there is conflicting data on just how much
nanoparticles can actually penetrate human skin and enter our blood,
there is no doubt that what we put on our skin will end up in our air,
food, and water. A recent report in Environmental Science &
Technology found fish throughout Europe are contaminated with UV-
filter-chemicals -- from sunscreen -- (4-methylbenzylidene camphor or
4-MBC; and octocrylene or OC) which are known hormone disruptors. What
we rub on our bodies washes into the lakes and rivers, and then gets
into the food chain.

Even nanotech industry professionals themselves are skeptical about
the safety of these materials. Speaking about the incorporation of
fullerenes into skin-care products, Professor Robert Curl Jr. -- who
shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his co-discovery of
fullerenes -- expressed concern: "I would take the conservative path
of avoiding using such cosmetics while withholding judgment on the
actual merits or demerits of their use."

And when a scientist at an international nanotoxicology meeting asked
200 of her colleagues whether they would feel comfortable using face
cream that contained fullerenes, fewer than ten indicated that they
would.[1 p.8]

The scientists who specialize in nano materials don't trust the stuff,
yet thousands of workers and consumers are being exposed every day in
the manufacture, transport and application of skin care and many other
products from tires to computer hard drives and skis.

There is very little known about current levels of workplace exposure.
The US National Science Foundation estimates that by 2015 2 million
workers worldwide will be directly employed in nanotechnology
industries. This means the total number of exposed workers will
certainly be much larger.[1 p. 10]

While the evidence continues to pile up that nanomaterials pose
significant health risks to consumers and workers, the federal
bureaucracy turns a blind eye concerned mostly with fostering economic
growth at all cost. Of the "$1.3 billion budget for the US National
Nanotechnology Initiative, only $38.5 million (less than 4%) was
earmarked for the study of the health, safety and environmental
impacts of nanotechnology. Conversely, the US Department of Defense
received $436 million (33.5% of the nanotechnology budget)." We are
spending more than ten times as much on nanotech warfare technology as
we are investing on basic health and safety research.

By their nature, corporations cannot regulate themselves -- by law
they are only allowed to do one thing: return a decent profit to
investors using every legal means available. But judging from the
chemical, nuclear and biotechnology industries, government is not up
to the task of regulating corporations to protect human health. So,
while our tax dollars are doing relatively little to bring health and
safety research into the public domain, corporations are ploughing
forward, constrained only by consumer tastes and trends. We don't want
a visible white paste on our bodies (nanomaterials help the sunscreen
disappear fast), therefore we must want nanotech.

Now public health advocates are calling for a "moratorium on the
commercialization of nanoproducts until the necessary safety research
has been conducted." And they specifically call on a precautionary
approach which shifts the burden of proof onto industry to demonstrate
product safety, calls for product labeling and transparent peer-
reviewed health and safety studies that become part of the public

In March 2006 the EPA issued 'voluntary' reporting guidelines (you've
heard this one before) which give no incentive to industry to invest
in product safety research much less reveal what little they may
actually know about the health effects of their nano-products. Time
and time again -- remember tobacco, asbestos, and lead? -- the profit
motive will always drive corporations to release products into the
market (our air, food, water and soil) even if they know the product
is dangerous to human health and the environment.

As reported in Rachel's #816, the insurance industry is deeply
concerned about the environmental and health effects of these largely
untested technologies. They understand that nanomaterials could be the
next asbestos liability debacle. It would be interesting to see a full
cost accounting (see Rachel's #765) of the potential benefits and
costs not only to industry but to the public that currently shoulders
the burden of proof with their tax dollars, endangered health and
degraded environment.

As the pharmaceutical industry has demonstrated -- operating within a
precautionary framework -- a better safe than sorry approach can work
for investors and consumers alike. Big pharma has been hugely
succesful under a system that demands precautionary pre-market testing
-- so successful that it's now under constant attack for using its
financial influence to corrupt the regulatory system. When industry
and the current regulatory agencies tell us they fear a precautionary
approach will 'stifle innovation', they really don't have a leg to
stand on.

In the meantime, I'll be heading for the fantasy nano-free section of
my supermarket for some non-nano sunscreen.

[1] Nanomaterials, sunscreens and cosmetics: small ingredients big
risks. Friends of the Earth, Washington, D.C. May 17, 2006 available
here and at

--------18 of 19--------

By Shelly R. Fredman
From: Tikkun, May 17, 2006

When I arrived at Boston University in 1978, it was like showing up at
a party after all the guests had gone home. The Civil Rights movement
and the Vietnam War protests were over, and everyone around me was
studying business and honing their resumes. The Sixties had died. All
the activists were gone.

Except for Howard Zinn. You could sign up for Zinn's classes,
"Marxism" and "Anarchism," and there, every Tuesday and Thursday, you
could hear the stories no one else would tell you: Columbus's arrival
on these shores from the Arawak Indian's point of view, Emma Goldman's
message to the unemployed in Union Square, black students in
Greensboro, NC, who one day sat down at the Woolworth's counter where
only whites could eat.

Now, some twenty years later, in the wake of Katrina, mired in Bush's
reckless reign and the ever-escalating death toll in Iraq, it seemed a
good time to revisit Zinn.

Best known for A People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn
has been a professor, radical historian, social activist, and
intellectual leader of the Left for forty years. In over twenty books,
he has devoted himself to connecting America's past with its present,
providing a frame for left-wing activism and politics. Praised by
academics and lay readers alike, Zinn feels more at home on the
streets than in the ivory tower.

Zinn's message of hope is unflinching, and he is busier than ever. He
has written a play, "Marx in Soho," is producing a People's History of
the United States television series, and his new book, Original Zinn,
will be released in July.

He seems to have stashed De Leon's fountain of youth in his back
pocket. Though we are seated at a small table drinking coffee,
occasionally he still moves his large hands through the air, as he did
in class, underscoring the urgency of his words. And at the end of his
most radical sentences, a wry smile lights up his eyes, as if he's
imagining the glorious trouble we the people can, and will, make.

Shelly R. Fredman: I'd like to start by asking you about Michael
Lerner's new book, The Left Hand of God. In it, Lerner says that, post
9/11, a paradigm of fear has gripped our culture and been used to
manipulate the public into supporting politicians who are more
militaristic. How would you characterize the post-9/11 world?

Howard Zinn: Michael Lerner is certainly right about how fear has been
used since 9/11 to push the public into support of war. "Terrorism" is
used the way "communism" was used all through the Cold War, the result
being the deaths of millions and a nuclear arms race which wasted
trillions of dollars that could have been used to create a truly good
society for all.

SF: Lerner also claims that the parts of our cultural heritage that
embody elements of hope are dismissed as naive, with little to teach
us. You must have had your own bouts with critics who see your vision
as naive. How do you address them?

HZ: It's true that any talk of hope is dismissed as naive, but that's
because we tend to look at the surface of things at any given time.
And the surface almost always looks grim. The charge of naivete also
comes from a loss of historical perspective. History shows that what
is considered naive in one decade becomes reality in another.

How much hope was there for black people in the South in the fifties?
At the start of the Vietnam War, anyone who thought the monster war
machine could be stopped seemed naive. When I was in South Africa in
1982, and apartheid was fully entrenched, it seemed naive to think
that it would be dissolved and even more naive to think that Mandela
would become president. But in all those cases, anyone looking under
the surface would have seen currents of potential change bubbling and

SF: Has the Left responded adequately to the kind of fascism we see
coming from Bush's people? Street protests seem to be ineffective;
it's sometimes disheartening.

HZ: The responses are never adequate, until they build and build and
something changes. People very often think that there must be some
magical tactic, beyond the traditional ones -- protests,
demonstrations, vigils, civil disobedience -- but there is no magical
panacea, only persistence in continuing and escalating the usual
tactics of protest and resistance. The end of the Vietnam War did not
come because the Left suddenly did something new and dramatic, but
because all of the actions built up over time.

If you listen to the media, you get no sense of what's happening. I
speak to groups of people in different parts of the country. I was in
Austin, Texas recently and a thousand people showed up. I believe
people are basically decent, they just lack information.

SF: You have been outspoken against the war in Iraq. Despite all the
chaos we've heard may ensue, do you still believe we should get out of
Iraq now?

HZ: Yes, we should immediately withdraw. There will be chaos... it is
actually there already, and much of the chaos and violence has come
about because of our involvement. But that doesn't change the fact
that our occupation of Iraq is wrong.

What's more troubling [than a military mistake] is that this is an
administration that is impervious to pressure. If you listen to LBJ's
tapes, where he discusses the escalation of the war in Vietnam, you
can hear that he is torn....

Still, the good news is that more and more of us are becoming aware of
Bush's true nature. Less than fifty percent of Americans are for the
war, and forty percent are calling for [Bush's] impeachment.

SF: Where do you see the Democrats in all this? What of their role,
their responsibility?

HZ: The Democratic Party is pitiful. Not only are they not
articulating a spiritual message, as Lerner says, they don't even have
a political message. The Democrats are tied to corporate wealth. And
they are incompetent when it comes to understanding how to win
elections. By the time Kerry ran, the public had actually shifted.
Fifty percent were against the war. The Democrats should have been
saying they would end the war, and make those dollars available for

SF: What about the upcoming crop of presidential candidates -- Hillary
Clinton, for instance?

HZ: Hillary Clinton is so opportunistic. She goes where the wind is
blowing. She doesn't say what needs to be said. And Barack Obama is
cautious. He's better than Clinton, but I'd suggest Marian Wright
Edelman as the Democratic candidate for president. She's the epitome
of what we need. A very smart black woman who deals with children,
poverty.... She's in the trenches, and she ties it in with
militarization. But she doesn't come out of government.

That's another problem -- the Democratic Party is a closed circle. It
may take a threatening third party to shake things up.

SF: Many people believe that history is a pendulum, and that we are
overdue for a swing to the Left. Lerner, for instance, views American
history as an oscillation between the voices of hope and the voices of
fear -- the fear after the stock market crash in 1929, the hope of the
New Deal, the fears of McCarthyism, the hope of the Civil Rights
movement and social change movements in the sixties. Is this a
compelling view of history?

HZ: Without making it chronological, like a roller coaster, with
predictable ups and downs, it's certainly true that in any period
there are voices that demand maintenance of the status quo, and other
voices demanding change. In other words, it isn't so much a period of
hope, then a period of fear, etc. But in every period there are both
tendencies, with one or another dominant and the dominant
characteristic often leads to a simplified picture of an era.

My differences with Lerner, though, reside in the proportion of
attention he pays to spiritual values. These are important, but
they're not the critical issue. The issue is how are people living and
dying. People are dying in Iraq and our wealth is being squandered on
war and the military budget.

SF: Don't you believe the Left needs to address spiritual needs to
win? How else can we galvanize the heartland, people taken in by the
religious rhetoric of Bush?

HZ: Yes, there are special needs and they need to be addressed. But
after the last election there was a kind of hysteria among liberal
pundits about a "failure" to deal with the moral issues. There is a
hard core for whom religion is key. They are maybe twenty-five percent
of the population. It's a mistake to try to appeal to that hard core.

I define the spiritual in emotional terms -- to the extent that
religion can draw on the Ten Commandments (for example, thou shalt not
kill), it is important. And I find the spiritual in the arts, because
they nourish the spirit and move people. Artists like Bob Dylan and
Joan Baez, for example, and now Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. We need
more of these.

It's not that people are turned off by the Left. The Left hasn't
reached out to people with a clear, coherent, and emotional message.
The Left often does not know how to talk to other people. Tikkun
magazine appeals to intellectuals. I've never spoken the language of
ivory tower academics. And there are other voices on the Left that
speak in understandable language. For instance, Barbara Ehrenreich's
Nickel and Dimed, in which she took menial jobs across the country and
wrote about those lives, was a bestseller. There's an emotionalism to
her message that makes contact and touches thousands. Michael Moore's
movies have been seen by all sorts of people. GI's in Iraq watched his
movie. We just have to do more along those lines.

SF: Many on the Left seem to identify religion with the fundamentalist
versions of it we see in the worst moments of human history. Do you
see any value in religious ideas and traditions? If I can get
personal: do you identify at all as a Jew, with the Jewish story? Is
there anything in it that's meaningful to you? Are there any thoughts
of the world beyond this one -- where, for example, you can sit with
Marx in Soho and eat Deli Haus blintzes together?

HZ: If I was promised that we could sit with Marx in some great Deli
Haus in the hereafter, I might believe in it! Sure, I find inspiration
in Jewish stories of hope, also in the Christian pacifism of the
Berrigans, also in Taoism and Buddhism. I identify as a Jew, but not
on religious grounds. Yes, I believe, as Pascal said, "The heart has
its reasons which reason cannot know." There are limits to reason.
There is mystery, there is passion, there is something spiritual in
the arts -- but it is not connected to Judaism or any other religion.

For those who find a special inspiration in Judaism or Christianity or
Buddhism or whatever, fine. If that inspiration leads them to work for
justice, that is what matters.

Shelly R. Fredman's work has appeared in Best Jewish Writing, First
Harvest, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, and the Forward.

---------19 of 19--------

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