|Progressive Calendar 02.11.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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