Progressive Calendar 02.11.07
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2007 17:12:56 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.11.07

1. Women authors    2.13 9:45am
2. Ray Tricomo      2.13 6pm
3. Valentine poetry 2.13 6:30pm
4. Colombia         2.13 7pm
5. PBS: News war    2.13 9pm

6. Women's wages    2.14 12noon
7. Colombia         2.14 7pm

8. Patricia Goldsmith - The limits of tolerance
9. Carl Bloice        - Bush's People
10. Robin Andersen    - Bush's budget & the military/entertainment complex
11. Bruce Morris      - How the 2007 Democrats are losing democracy

--------1 if 11--------

From: Stephen Feinstein <feins001 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Women authors 2.13 9:45am

Feb. 13 - Wang Ping, Mai Neng Moua, Lorena Duarte, Why Write? A
Conversation with Women Immigrant Authors, 9:45-11 am, 120 Andersen
Library, UofM Mpls


--------2 of 11--------

From: PRO826 [at] aol.com
Subject: Ray Tricomo 2.13 6pm

Two non-credited, free courses taught by Ray Tricomo will be available at
Macalester College for the winter semester. Below is a brief description
of the courses, more info is available by calling Ray directly at
651-714-0288.

The Great Law of Peace - Past, Present and Future
Includes the role of indigenous people in inventing a new  nation on this
continent.
Tuesday nights starting January 30th from 6-8pm

and

Black Folk:  Culture Defeats Holocaust
The liberation of the black people and the rest of us
Wednesday nights from 6-8pm


--------3 of 11--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Valentine poetry 2.13 6:30pm

This Tuesday, Feb. 13th please bring poetry for Valentine's Day.
Whatever that means to you.  If you have something to share to eat or
drink, or a song to share,, c'est si bon.  patty

Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


--------4 of 11--------

From: awcmere <meredith [at] antiwarcommittee.org>
Subject: Colombia 2.13 7pm

U.S. Terrorism in Colombia: A First-Hand Account with Imelda Daza-Cotes,
Colombian activist and professor, living in political asylum

Tuesday, February 13th @ 7pm @ Spirit of the Lakes Church
2930 13th Ave S (13th Ave. & Lake St.), Mpls

Imelda Daza-Cotes was an activist and a member of the Patriotic Union (UP)
in Colombia.  The UP was created through peace accords in 1984, as a
leftist alternative to the two ruling parties. 4,000 UP members,
activists, candidates and elected officials were assassinated by military
and paramilitary forces supported by the right-wing government.
Daza-Cotes was elected to office representing the Patriotic Union and fled
from Colombia to protect her life. She is currently a professor of
Economics in Sweden.

As a member of the UP, Daza-Cotes organized with Ricardo Palmera. Palmera
(also known as Símon Trinidad) later joined the FARC-EP, the largest rebel
group in Colombia. In 2004, the US illegally extradited Palmera to the US
after he was kidnapped in Ecuador, where he was arranging a meeting with
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to work out a prisoner exchange between
the FARC and the Colombian government. The extradition and trial of
Palmera further threaten any chance for peace in Colombia, and continue
the pattern of US interference in the region.

Although called as a defense witness, Daza-Cotes was not allowed to
testify at Ricardo Palmera trial last fall. On her national speaking tour,
she will address Plan Colombia and US intervention, repression by the
Colombian government, and the injustice of Palmera's trial in the US.
Sponsored nationally by the Committee to Defend Ricardo Palmera
(freericardopalmera.org).  Endorsed by the Colombia Action Network.
Organized locally by the Anti-War Committee (www.antiwarcommittee.org,
612.379.3899)


--------5 of 11--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: PBS: News war 2.13 9pm

Frontline/ News War: Secrets, Sources & Spin
tpt2 and tpt2 Part 1: Tuesday, February 13 at 9PM
tpt2 and tpt2 Part 2: Tuesday, February 20 at 9PM
        President Bush
tpt17Part 1: Wednesday, February 14 at 9PM
tpt17Part 2: Wednesday, February 21 at 9PM

America's mainstream media are under siege, facing unprecedented
challenges from the Bush Administration, the courts, corporate owners, and
the Internet. Frontline traces the recent history of American journalism
and examines how the war on terror and other global forces are changing
the role of the press in our society.


--------6 of 11--------

From: erin [at] mnwomen.org
Subject: Women's wages 2.14 12noon

Wednesday, February 14, Noon-1PM in Capitol Room 229. Join the Consortium
and the Pay Equity Coalition as they discuss how the legislative session
could affect women's wages.


--------7 of 11--------

From: awcmere <meredith [at] antiwarcommittee.org>
Subject: Colombia 2.14 7pm

Show Your Love for Political Prisoners & the People of Colombia!
Wednesday, February 14th @ 7:00pm @ 3039 14th Avenue South, Minneapolis

Please join the Anti-War Committee in a special celebration on Valentine's
Day. We are hosting a fundraiser to support our guest, Imelda Daza-Cotes,
a Colombian professor currently on a nation-wide speaking tour addressing
Plan Colombia and US intervention, repression by the Colombian government,
and the injustice of Ricardo Palmera's trial. Please come and show your
love for civil liberties, social justice, and peace.  You will enjoy our
buffet of delicious desserts and drinks. We are honored to have such an
esteemed guest and hope that you can attend this intimate gathering of
local activists to personally welcome, meet, and speak with Imelda. Please
RSVP by Sunday, February 11th to awcmere [at] hotmail.com. We are asking for
donations of $15-$30. You can also send your donation to us at 1313 5th
Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414 or donate online at antiwarcommittee.org
if you are unable to attend but would like to show your support.  Thank
you.


--------8 of 11--------

The Limits of Tolerance
by Patricia Goldsmith
www.dissidentvoice.org
February 11, 2007

With the words, "I'm in it to win," Hillary Clinton tossed her hat into
the ring - and gave us the motto of the Democratic Leadership Council,
the group that launched her husband's presidency and continues to dominate
Democratic Party strategy. In the mid- to late-'80s, at the height of the
Reagan Revolution, this group of Democratic politicians and strategists
realized that unless they could figure out a way to start winning
elections again, they would not have political careers.

So instead of bucking Reaganomics, they hitched the Democratic Party to
the Republicans' bumper, like a string of tin cans bouncing along in the
dust. They declared that business and government would henceforth be
friends and partners. They had found a third way, a new center. No more
unseemly scuffles.

In practice, however, it turned out to be a very lopsided partnership. If
the average citizen won by inches during Bill Clinton's tenure - with his
popular family leave bill, for example - big business won by light years,
especially with the passage of NAFTA. (This is the same Bill Clinton, by
the way, who chose to leave the Kyoto global warming protocols unsigned at
the end of his term.)

Hillary's current war chest shows just how handsomely the move to a
business-friendly party has paid off in cold hard cash - at least for
people named Clinton. Rupert Murdoch actually held a fundraiser for
Hillary over the summer - which just goes to show that corporate moguls
know the value of having two parties to choose from. But not everyone has
the billions it takes to put a down payment on a president. And the price
is going up.

Senator Clinton has opted out of public financing, the first candidate to
do so for both the nomination and the general election campaigns - which,
according to experts, will probably be the end of the current voluntary
system for regulating big money in presidential campaigns.

Since the passage of NAFTA, we've seen the same effects in the US that
we've seen with globalization all around the world: increasing economic
inequality. Monetary agreements are harshly enforced, but there is no
corresponding enforcement of labor, human rights, or environmental
standards. Free trade has, in fact, turned out to be a very efficient
vehicle for concentrating wealth in a few private hands at the expense of
whole societies. It's a privatizing, planet-eating machine.

As the war in Iraq should make clear to the least attentive among us,
where resources cannot be obtained through unequal trade and debt
agreements, they are being taken at gunpoint. Iran is next.

FDR and LBJ talked openly about class war. Like his cousin Teddy before
him, FDR warned about monopolies that corner markets, fix prices, lie,
cheat, and chisel in a relentless and single-minded quest for profits.
Johnson, for all his sins, pointed out the shameful relationship between
race and poverty. Not the DLC. In an attempt to woo back Reagan Democrats,
Clinton constantly intoned the mantra of the little guy who "works hard
and plays by the rules" - a culture war pitch.

Let's forget for a minute that effort and obedience are more properly
attributes of a robot than a citizen in a modern republic, and consider
the fact that the same centrists who tell us that big business is our
friend are also telling us that we have to be tolerant and respectful of
"deeply held beliefs" - for the sake of winning.

I might actually go for that, if I thought the culture war was about gay
marriage or immigration or abortion. But it's not. The culture war is not
about any particular conflict. It's about the ground rules for deciding
differences.

One way is based on equality, the primary assumption of secular
government. The first sentence of the Declaration of Independence declares
all men equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights. Over a hundred
years later that promise of equality was extended to black people with the
Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law for
everyone, a promise many state constitutions also make. Constitutional
guarantees are bedrock, not to be voted away - in the same way that we
can't simply vote slavery back into existence.

The other way to settle differences is to give more weight to "good"
people. We decide issues not on the basis of evidence and expertise, but
on the basis of values and moral authority. For example, when it comes to
gay marriage, a lot of citizens are very happy to see family values
prevail over scientific expertise and equal rights. They're quite willing
to amend their state constitutions, or even the Constitution of the United
States, to make an exception to the requirement of equal rights for all.

The problem is, gay marriage isn't the only decision we're making that
way. We're making decisions about when and how to go to war in the exact
same way.

During the run-up to the war on Iraq, we heard a lot about George W.
Bush's character, his faith and steely resolve, his instincts and ability
to recognize and confront evil, his refreshing black-and-white moral
clarity. Evidence and expertise were very much in the background. Not only
that, but this "good" Republican president, a faithful evangelical
Christian, wasn't pressed for corroboration in the same way that a "bad"
Democratic secularist like Clinton was when, for example, he sent American
troops into Somalia.

The culture war is about manufacturing the attitudes required for people
to accept endless resources wars and extremes of economic inequality. The
culture-warring right isn't asking for tolerance. It demands submission.

It certainly wasn't tolerance when President Bill Clinton sat on his hands
as Republican operatives wielding baseball bats stopped votes from being
counted in Florida in 2000.

It's the class war that has the potential to unite us. Hatred of George
Bush has brought together a very broad coalition of unconscious class
warriors. Now it's time for us to realize that hatred of Bush is really
hatred of the ruthless corporate oligarchy he represents.

The good news is that the increasing economic insecurity of the middle
class in this country is reaching a critical mass. As Princeton economist
and Hamilton Project participant Alan Blinder puts it, "There's a whole
class of people who are smart, well educated and articulate, and
politically involved who will not just sit there and take it." I'd like to
think I'm one of those people, and I know a lot of others who fit that
description. We have an opening.

It will be an uphill battle. Centrist Democrats are working as hard as
Republicans to protect free trade, while the deregulated corporate media
continues to block most discussion of class inequality - and almost no
one is pointing out the connections between culture war and class war
inequality.

It's also likely that there are those Republicans who, having shot
government in the head, would be quite content to see it flatline on a
Democrat's watch. They're already getting the Dems in the new Congress to
do their dirty work. While the GOP continue their insatiable shrieking for
more and more corporate welfare, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry
Reid are returning to PAYGO standards - a move which would, without a
return to fair taxation for the rich and big business, require that
Democrats slash the remaining tatters of our social safety net.

No way. That's not winning. We need a complete turnaround, not a slight
course correction. Roll back obscene corporate welfare. Pass universal
health care. Drop out of NAFTA, sign Kyoto, withdraw from Iraq. Return to
FCC fairness and equal-time rules, and begin enforcing the Sherman
Anti-Trust Act again, beginning with the big media monopolies. Real public
financing of elections and paper ballots.

If grass- and netroots Democrats can re-ignite the class war, the culture
war will lose its wallop, and we might just stand a chance of, at least,
beginning to think about the problems that are threatening our very
survival.

Patricia Goldsmith is a member of Long Island Media Watch, a grassroots
free media and democracy watchdog group. She can be reached at:
plgoldsmith [at] optonline.net.


--------9 of 11--------

Bush's People
by Carl Bloice
February 10, 2007
Black Commentator

CNN business reporter Susan Lisovicz got really excited when the President
arrived on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week. Explaining
later to an anchor why she thought the President, whose public approval
rating stood at 36 percent, had received a rapturous welcome on the
exchange floor, she exuded: 'These are his people.' Twenty-four hours
later she was still gushing; she had become part of the story. When
Lisovicz got close enough to the chief executive with her microphone to
ask him how he felt about his reception he said he was 'impressed and
grateful.' 'Do you think it's warmer than on Capitol Hill right now?', she
inquired, at which point he gave her 'a suspicious glance' and 'covered
the microphone.' Lisovicz said she thought 'his expression, his facial
expression really gave the answer, not quite as sure, I think, as what the
president of the United States indicated.'

The people on the exchange floor were not just the young people you see at
other times, eying the Big Board, holding fingers in the air and yelling
transactions. These were business leaders, important people in the arena
of national and world finance, applauding and maneuvering to get close
enough to press the flesh.

Bush's people had reason to be of good cheer; the market was doing
remarkably well that day and some of them would go home a lot richer than
they were when they arrived. Think about it. Exxon Mobil Corp. reported it
had turned in a profit of $39.5 billion last year, the largest corporate
profit in the nation's history, and its stock price rose 47 cents.
Although its fourth quarter profits were down, primarily because of a
decline in natural gas prices, Chevron, the country's second largest oil
company reported record earnings for the third year in a row.  Natural gas
price were a problem for third-largest ConocoPhillips too, but it
recorded its most profitable year on record. Annual profits jumped by 21
percent at Shell to $25 billion. The people who own, manage and trade oil
stocks could only be appreciative that day of an Administration so closely
tied to the petroleum industry.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., the giant agribusiness firm, largest in the
country - who stands to gain big-time from the President's plan to turn
large swaths of the Midwest into an ethanol producing plant in the name of
energy independence, saw its stock price rise over 10 percent after
reporting a 20 percent jump in profits, mostly from processing corn.

The stock price for Boeing Co. reached an all-time high that day, up $1.47
to $91.03. It's been doing quite well, in large part as a result of orders
for military aircraft. They could not have been unmindful that the foreign
policy of the current Administration, from the Persian Gulf to the Horn of
Africa, portends the necessity of even larger military outlays in the
future. Not any more than the folks at Mobil could forget that the
military conflicts the Administration has provoked are closely tied to the
economics of oil.

One estimate is that, over the past six years, over $3 billion has flowed
into the coffers of the military and oil industries.

Ever wonder why, in the face of overwhelming scientific opinion, Bush
continues his stubborn resistance to accept and act on the danger of
global warming? Consider this: The Guardian (UK) reported February 2 that
'Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group
funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major
climate change report due to be published today.' The letters were from
the American Enterprise Institute (AEI); the oil company is ExxonMobil.
AEI has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its
staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond,
a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of
trustees. AEI just happens to be the brain trust for the Administration's
Iraq policy and the source of the new 'surge' project.

"ExxonMobil's outlandish profits are the direct result of a Bush energy
policy that for seven years has used every lever of the American
government to tilt the scales towards satisfying the special interest
demands of a single industry at the expense of the public interest," Rep.
Ed Markey (D.- Mass.) told the Associate Press.

Yes, these were Bush's people: the masters of finance, agribusiness and
the military-industrial complex and they had reason to cheer. Never mind
that the number of young women and men killed in the war in Iraq had
reached 3,092. Never mind that hundreds of thousands of people had taken
to the streets of Mexico City because the new economics of corn production
has driven up the price of tortillas, threatening their livelihood; that
they were demanding that revision be made in the 'free trade' agreement
that made it possible for the U.S. traders to raise the price to control a
large portion of their food market. Never mind that when the new U.S.
employment figures were released two days after hoopla on the trading
floor, unemployment had held pretty steady but the joblessness rate for
young African Americans in January reached 29.1 percent, up from 26.2
percent in December, even though black unemployment overall had declined
somewhat. Never mind that with our economy, considered to be the engine
for the world economy, we cannot marshal the resources necessary to
guarantee the people, whose lives were disrupted and decimated by
hurricane Katrina, that they can once again live in a viable community. Or
that the President, who once promised a post-Katrina 'Marshal Plan', can
give a State of the Union address and not mention New Orleans.

Yes, for those cheering on the Stock Exchange floor, the economy is doing
well. The problem is that the high profits being engendered are not being
shared proportionately. There is what the Nation magazine termed, 'The
destructive inequalities embedded in our supposedly healthy economy' and
increasing economic insecurity of the country's working people. The
President is acutely aware that as he tries to shift the public debate
from his disastrous foreign policies to the resilience of the economy, the
inequities of the returns hangs over anything he may say. He is aware that
there is widespread public recognition that the policies he has pursued
have .. to put it simply .. benefited those who need more money the least
rather than those who need it most. That extends from his tax cuts for the
well-to-do, his healthcare plan, which is really a new tax on working
people, to his latest schemes to reduce Medicare benefits.

In his address to the business executives gathered in nearby Federal Hall
for his homage to Wall Street, the President actually addressed the
question of economic inequality. This is kind of interesting, seeing as
how his right wing supporters are diligently trying to justify it by
either suggesting it is a good and natural thing or attacking critics as
promoting the 'politics of envy.' "The fact is that income inequality is
real. It has been rising for more than 25 years," the president said. "The
earnings gap is now twice as wide as it was in 1980," Bush said.
However, the only prescription he offered for dealing with the problem was
to provide for more and better education, a dubious proposition at best.
Later in his remarks, the President addressed the matter of executive
compensation, noting that it has prompted concern and anger within the
ranks of investors. "Government should not decide the compensation for
America's corporate executives," he said. "But the salaries and bonuses of
CEOs should be based on their success at improving their companies and
bringing value to their shareholders." The corporate executives were not
impressed with even that toothless invocation. The remark, reported AP,
was 'met with complete silence from the business crowd he addressed.'

Excessive CEO pay has reached outrageous proportions and investors, as
well as working people, are justifiably outraged. But that is only a
sideshow compared with what's going on under the big tent. There, economic
inequality is reflected in the very simple fact that there is a continuing
massive shift of wealth toward the top, that the wealth being created is
going in lesser amounts to the women and men whose labor produced it. "The
president is right,' Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com,
told the AP. 'The economy in aggregate is performing very well. So he's
right to claim that the economy, looking from above, looks very good,"
Zandi said. "Democrats are also right. The fruits of this strong economy
have largely accrued to higher income wealthier households."

'President Bush came to Wall Street yesterday to tout the continuing good
economic news, and afterward he sat down for 45 minutes with a few members
of this newspaper's editorial board,' reported the Wall Street Journal.
'If Mr. Bush is beaten down by the polls and his party's loss of Congress,
he isn't showing it.'

Some of my friends have taken to wondering out loud: if President Bush has
one of the lowest approval ratings in U.S. Presidential history and his
policies are being questioned by most of the big business media and
leading members of his own party, who's in his camp? The answer, my
friends, was there on the trading room floor January 31. Those are Bush's
people. And right now they rule.

[BC Editorial Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a
member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of
Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and formerly worked for a
healthcare union.]


--------10 of 11--------

Bush's Fantasy Budget and the
Military/Entertainment Complex
by Robin Andersen
www.dissidentvoice.org
February 11, 2007

                             Summary

This tie-in piece to Bush's proposed military budget documents some
disturbing connections between the military and the media industries,
connections which influence news reporting and media entertainment
culture. Through the research and development of shared computer-based
digital technologies, Hollywood has become a full partner in the economies
of war, weaponry, and military training and recruitment. The consequences
include a new type of militarism and a culture geared toward permanent
war. Material is drawn from the author's recent book, A Century of Media,
A Century of War.

Those distressed by the bloated military budget Bush announced this week
should be equally alarmed by corporate media's stake in defense spending,
because among other things, it helps shape news, entertainment culture and
public attitudes toward war and its weapons. CBSnews.com (02/05/07)
revealed a list of nearly identical stories about the proposal for "a big
increase in military spending, including billions more to fight the war in
Iraq." Most of these tease lines acknowledge that such spending means
"squeezing the rest of government," a euphemism for slashing Medicare and
social programs across the board, further impoverishing Americans now
sitting on mountains of debt with no medical coverage.

News stories (only now) admit that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan carry
huge price tags. When American soldiers are sent to fight wars of
occupation it takes expensive persuasion, slick recruitment, increased pay
checks, lots of guns, tanks, airplanes, and medical and death benefits,
even if most of us never see the military funeral processions and
flag-draped coffins. But that is only half the story of military spending,
and most in the media will not fill us in on what is wrong with the other
half. There is roughly $140 billion in proposed Pentagon funding that is
not part of the request for Iraq and Afghanistan. This figure represents
an incredible boondoggle in high-tech weaponry and a ballooning Pentagon
budget that has doubled since Bush took office.

To its credit the New York Times (02/06/07) editorial cautioned that
congress "will have to pare back the most extravagant elements of this
fantasy weapons wish list." (02/06/07) But the Times exposes only a wee
tentacle of the sprawling military complex, keeping the blame directed
toward "those well-connected Washington lobbyists" we all detest, who push
congress into wasteful weapons projects and "costly jobs programs
disguised as defense." And jobs are certainly the least of the problems
with money for guns.

The wasteful weapons listed are cold-war inspirations like the stealth
F-22 originally designed for air-to-air combat against Soviet-style MIG
fighters. Tom Cruise battled MIGs in Top Gun and Bush imitated him on
board the USS Lincoln during his "Mission Accomplished" production. The
military habit is hard to shake, especially for a media culture now fully
tied to the high-tech fantasy weapons that the Pentagon loves to dream
about. Today the media and the military dream the same dreams.

                    The Military-Entertainment Complex

Shared technologies, both real and imagined, tie the media industries to
the Pentagon in what has become the military-entertainment complex. During
the 1990s, the best and the brightest researchers who produce and design
new-media platforms joined with engineers from the Department of Defense
to trade expertise in pursuit of cutting-edge, computer-based digital
technologies. These multipurpose protocols are quite versatile, and are
used to create fields of entertainment, news graphics, videogames, and the
deadliest weapons of war. The most profitable sector of the entertainment
industry - computer games - use the same technology essential to
advanced weapons systems. Computer games have also become key training and
recruiting tools. The characters that inhabit virtual game worlds locked
in endless battles between good and evil, double as "warfighters" and kill
targets for military training.

Consider the connections articulated by the National Research Council
after a conference in Irvine, California, at the height of the
military-media technology surge of the 1990s:

Modeling and simulation technology has become increasingly important to
both the entertainment industry and the US Department of Defense (DOD). In
the entertainment industry, such technology lies at the heart of video
games, theme park attractions and entertainment centers, and special
effects for film production. For DOD, modeling and simulation technology
provides a low-cost means of conducting joint training exercises,
evaluating new doctrine and tactics, and studying the effectiveness of new
weapons systems. These common interests suggest that the entertainment
industry and DOD may be able to more efficiently achieve their individual
goals by working together to advance the technology base for modeling and
simulation.

And work together they have. Their mission: to boldly design the future
technologies of fantasy entertainment and war weaponry alike. At Irvine,
members from DOD's Defense Modeling and Simulations Office (DMSO), and
from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), together with
Navy and Air Force representatives, met with industry people from Pixar,
Disney, Paramount, and George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic. Joining
this group were other computer industry executives and academic
researchers in computer science, art and design.

                    Flight Simulation and Video Games

The image generator designed initially for military flight simulation is
at the heart of any computer based visual system. Computerized flight
simulation modeling was a crucial point in the history of digital
interactive electronic gaming. Popular video games are direct descendants
of military research and represent the passage of military-driven
technological innovations into the heart of entertainment culture. As a
graphic style, simulation dominates the visual imaging of war and its
weapons, and across the media landscape, from films to the nightly news.

Entertainment companies excelled at turning the military's computer
research into popular entertainment and handsome profits, and video games
brought about an "entertainment revolution." The pace of R&D picked up,
and a company like Electronic Arts, the maker of 1 in 4 videogames, now
has twice as many in-house game developers as Disney has animators. The
flow of networking and software innovations evened out, and in some cases
reversed direction. Important advances made by commercial researchers were
then appropriated by the military. Cyberlife Technology's Creatures 2.0
offered the cutting edge of artificial life simulation and helped realize
the dream of smart weapons systems such as pilotless fighter aircraft.
Another essential technological advance useful to the military,
particularly for recruitment and training, is interactive first-person
shooter technology developed by id Software in 1994. The US Marine Corps
adapted their game Doom 1.9, for tactical combat training exercises.

This trans-sector reciprocity is now a stable, on-going mutually
beneficial industrial relationship. Military funding remains essential to
entertainment technologies with millions of dollars in grants awarded to
academic research facilities such as the University of Southern
California's Institute for Creative Technology, which enlists the
resources and talents of theme park innovators and special effects
designers among others, to advance the state of military immersive
training simulation, and other applications.

Hollywood has now become a full partner in new weapons training and
development. At the ICT the management skills of former media executives
from NBC, Paramount and Disney can direct designers from Silicon Valley to
help adapt the same digital effects used for movies, amusement parks and
video games to military platforms. When synthetic characters, becoming
known as "synthespians" can act and react in realistic ways to numerous
stimuli, they make video games more challenging. In military training,
synthespians make better "warfighters." Both benefit from the others
expertise. The video game America's Army boasts the most authentic
rendering of combat, because real soldiers help create the synthespians.

Orlando, Florida is another site of this trans-industrial formation. The
well-known home of Disney's teams of R&D imagineers, the DOD's Simulation
Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM) is also headquartered
there. In addition, the University of Central Florida's Institute for
Simulation and Training, together with other virtual reality designers,
create a formidable node of the military entertainment establishment that
STRICOM's own website calls Team Orlando.

Another major player in Orland is the complex across the street from
STRICOM that houses the nations largest military contractor, Lockheed
Martin.

                  Cyborg Soldiers on Virtual Battlefields

The fantasy battlefields of the future are digitalized and "Net-ready"
with complex communications systems for all aspects of war. Soldiers
participating in futuristic war games are networked with wireless computer
helmets that receive signals from the Global Positioning Satellite that
maps enemy terrain. Data from numerous sources are integrated into a
central command system monitored by computers. Robot scouts send
surveillance imagery to commanders instantaneously. The twenty-first
century land warriors carry video cameras and computers in their
rucksacks, with 1-inch helmet-mounted LED screens. War games combine
real-time airborne and satellite surveillance, all connected by radio
communication to a battle command vehicle coordinating the attack though a
customized Windows program. Using SIPE (Soldier Integrated Protection
Ensemble) the physical state of the soldier can be monitored in the same
way video games register the breathing and movement of players.

Unfortunately, as an observer of one virtual battlefield discovered, the
American side lost to the imaginary enemy.

Bush's war was always a fantasy, enabled by Rumsfeld's dreamy Pentagon,
and Gates continues the expensive charade. Visions of virtual war are no
doubt in the minds of those who plan and execute combat operations in
foreign lands, but just as the TV coverage of war is often entertaining
fiction, so too are futuristic battlefields that have little in common
with a bloody occupation a foreign country. As one young soldier says in
the film Fahrenheit 911, it's not like a video game when real people die.
Virtual war, training simulations, interactive video and militainment all
share the fictional sensibilities of games, not reality. The reality of
war remains hidden, especially the deadly consequences of bombs not
contained within computer screens and virtual worlds.

                   The New Militarized Cultural Milieu

It should come as no surprise that the convergence between the media and
the military, as both pursue the economies of war, would have alarming
consequences. We might ask under this new confabulation, how the media
could possibly adopt an independent stance toward an enterprise they are
so integrally connected to. As weapons technology merges with
entertainments that thrill gamers, moviegoers and TV audiences alike,
militarism becomes the order of the day. The boundaries between war and
peace begin to lose distinction in an age when so many resources,
technologies, creative talents and cultural practices are enlisted in the
celebration of weapons of mass destruction. This new culture of permanent
war has entered the home and is held close to a new American hearth, the
digital entertainment center where recruitment, training, planning and
preparations for war are carried out.

The largest economy the globe has ever known, at the height of its
progress, has directed its astonishing advancements toward the creation of
the ultimate forces of destruction. America has created a twenty-first
century dance of death. That is why we should actively protest Bush's
bloated military budget, and demand the media industries divest from
weapons technologies at the same time.

Robin Andersen in the Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Fordham
University. Material from this essay was drawn from her recent book, A
Century of Media, A Century of War.


--------11 of 11--------

February 9, 2007 at 07:04:07
Betrayal (Or How The 2007 Democrats Are Losing Democracy)
by Bruce Morris
OpEdNews
httpL//www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_bruce_mo_070208_betrayal_28or_how_the.html

Dear Democratic Leadership:

By giving us false hope to extract gut-wrenching work for your political
power, you are complicit in the demise of government by the people and the
final rise, by default, of plutocratic theocracy. Short of grief for a
loved one, no pain is greater than the pain of betrayal; no betrayer more
wicked and withering than one who seduces the already betrayed to dream of
a new fidelity then slips away after obtaining the prize.  Betray me
twice, lose me forever.

This is what you have done to us since that beautiful November day when we
finally succumbed to your promises. We worked harder than you can imagine:
going from door to door in the rain, making phone calls to strangers after
working all day, giving up our weekends to raise money and convince the
doubtful. We came out despite our loss of hope; we cajoled others to stir
from their cynical paralysis and give it one more shot.

You gave us hope. You reignited our belief that the people actually
matter. We brought older, deflated Americans back into political action
and watched their spirits rise as they remembered the wonder of working
for real change. We convinced young people who felt abandoned by
politicians to get involved, and they loved it. They believed for the
first time that politics mattered; that THEY mattered to their government.

"It will be different this time. This time it will matter. They are
promising more, saying new things, showing courage. Just give them one
more chance," we said to our friends, or families, our youth. You are such
practiced enchanters you even had us fixing your lairs for you.

We screamed ourselves hoarse in joy when we delivered for you; got you
back. Days and weeks of post-election exhaustion, the colds and flu we
caught from ignoring our own needs were all worth it. We had won; we had
worked so hard and obtained our goal and now we really did believe again.
This process actually works if we work hard enough. You thanked us and
praised us and promised to raise our message high in the most exalted
offices of the land.

Then you went right back to your old ways. Talking sweetly to us while
pleasing your old suitors. Yes, you passed a few good measures in one
House, but you stand accomplice to their weakening and undoing in the
other.

And you have abandoned altogether any meaningful efforts toward the
mission with which we charged you: end this horrible, wasteful, criminal
war and return our once great nation to the pursuit of justice and
liberty. The "People's House" has yet to even take it up. The Senate, with
a Democratic majority, cannot manage to get it discussed, to even force an
actual filibuster, crumbling instead (or failing to show up and vote)
before a mere threat of one.

You have broken our hearts, sapped our will, left our once lifted spirits
wobbling listlessly in hopeless surrender. Death of this democratic dream
is better now than fighting on knowing those who whispered promises of
passion and communion have donned again the paymasters' hood and armor to
do his bidding in disregard of ours.

We read that you fear being called weak and cowardly if you work
courageously to stop this insanity; that you must continue to support the
war effort or risk losing future elections as national security pansies.
Could you possibly be more dismissive of us? WE, WE, WE, the PEOPLE,
elected you to end the war. Who are these phantoms who would defeat you if
you actually do so?

This is where you add insult to injury. Do you think us fools? H.L.
Mencken may have said "nobody ever went broke underestimating the
intelligence of the American people," but I feel certain no one ever
gained long-term trust and confidence insulting the intelligence of the
American people. We know it is not our continued votes you fear losing.
We know you fear losing billions of dollars of corporate cash, not just in
campaign donations, but also in cozy consulting jobs, mainstream media
positions, and revolving-door appointments on the way into and out of
public office.

Don't you see what you are doing? You are bringing true that terrible,
cynical nightmare that we really don't matter after all, even to you;
that working and voting and believing are, in fact, for naught.

No matter what you think or what your sycophantic handlers, narcissistic
strategists, and slick money-changers tell you, WE got you elected. You
did not get you elected; corporations did not get you elected; targeted
centralized spending did not get you elected. You were elected because
millions of ordinary people got engaged in hopes of changing the way our
government works. In hopes of saving government by the people.

If you do not heed their desires and demands very quickly, you will lose
them. And you will not get them back again. If so much hard work can be
fanned away like mere bog mist, then why work, why vote if it does no
good?

And if you lose these millions, you are left only with those whom money
can buy and intolerant religion can move. You are left with a mutant
beast-child of plutocracy and theocracy, knowing it was borne of your own
infidelity.

http://madnessofdivinity.blogspot.com

Bruce is 45 year-old father of one, stepfather of three and grandfather of
two, who left a lucrative law practice at a large national law firm to
work, advocate and write for social justice and equality and find a way to
incorporate a spiritual life into the material world. He now struggles
along to make a decent living while holding true to his deepest principles
in Portland Oregon.


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