Progressive Calendar 03.15.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 01:10:02 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     03.15.07

1. Bus/Pentagon    3.16 7am
2. FOI awards      3.16 12noon
3. Zimmermann/CTV  3.16 1pm
4. Palestine vigil 3.16 4:30pm
5. Pray for peace  3.16 6pm
6. Vigil           3.16 6pm Taylors Falls MN
7. DU/film         3.16 6:30pm
8. Sami/Iraq       3.16
9.  Maxxed out/f   3.16

10. Guatemala      3.17 10am
11. NWN4P vigils   3.17 11am
12. St Pat/IRV     3.17 12noon
13. NorthtownVigil 3.17 2pm
14. Vigil          3.17 2pm Virginia MN
15. MUI StPatCeili 3.17 6:30pm
16. Mnfolk ceili   3.17 7pm
17. Labor/climate  3.17 9pm

18. Lisa Nilles    - What we need: single payer, a single plan
19. John Pilger    - The liberal war on democracy
20. Kempf/Thatcher - How the rich are destroying the planet
21. ed             - In the beginning, God created the rich  (poem)

--------1 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Bus/Pentagon 3.16 7am

Friday, 3/16, 7 am, check-in for the bus to march on the Pentagon in
Washington, St Joan of Arc, 4537 - 3rd Ave S, Mpls.  Cost is $175 to
"Anti-War Committee."  Schedule: leave early Friday, march all day Saturday,
leave Saturday afternoon after the march, arrive around dinnertime Sunday
the 18th.  Buy your own fast-food on the way or bring your own food.
Questions and reservations: or 612-379-3899.
(About 20 seats left at this writing.)

--------2 of 21--------

From: Shirley Whiting <sgwhitin [at]>
From: "Mary Treacy" <mtreacy [at]>
Subject: FOI awards 3.16 12noon


The John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award will be presented on
Friday, March 16, at 12:00 Noon at the Minneapolis Public Library.  March
16 is celebrated nationally as Freedom of Information Day;  the date is
the birth date of James Madison, defender of an informed citizenry
supported by an open government. The event is free and open to the public.

Minnesotans struggling to gather public information collected by the state
no longer encounter such intrusive questions as "Who wants to know?" or
"Why do you want to know?" They have Gary Hill to thank. In the late
1990's Hill led efforts to eliminate these and other barriers to open
records.  Over the past decades Hill has worked at the state and national
levels to support a Shield law, to expand the use of cameras and recording
devices in the courts, and to advocate at every turn for open government.

When Gary Hill received word that he was named recipient of the 2007 John
R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award, his response was self-effacing:
"To have my name associated with Jack Finnegan is truly an honor."  As
fellow journalists, Finnegan and Hill share a commitment to openness in
government, to mentoring socially responsible journalists, and to ethics
in the profession.

The Freedom of Information Award, established by the Minnesota Coalition
on Government Information (MnCOGI) in 1989, is named for John R. Finnegan
Sr, retired senior vice president and assistant publisher of the St Paul
Pioneer Press. Finnegan is founder and stalwart of the Minnesota Joint
Media Committee which continues to support open records, open meetings and
other First Amendment-related causes in the Legislature and other public
arenas in Minnesota.

Nominated by the Minnesota Professional Chapter of the Society of
Professional Journalists, Gary Hill has been a leader of that organization
"for more years than anyone can remember." Until recently Hill was a
journalist with KSTP-TV.  In January 2007 he moved to a new position as
Communications Director for the Majority Caucus of the Minnesota Senate.

The Board of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information also
recognizes a select number of outstanding nominees for the annual award:

 · The City of Chanhassen, nominated for its enhanced website which
provides in-depth access to city government documents for residents,
businesses and other governments.  

 * Red Wing residents Pat and Roger Sween, recognized as crusaders for
intellectual freedom and against censorship.  As leaders of the Minnesota
Coalition for Intellectual Freedom, the Sweens are responsible for
landmark position papers on Internet policy, censorship, and teaching of
scientific theory in public schools. 
 * The Twin Cities Daily Planet, a program of Twin Cities Media Alliance,
is an online news service that offers access to news and government
information sources not covered by major local media while providing an
outlet for citizen journalists.

In 2005 the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information was recognized
nationally with the Eileen Cooke State and Local Information Madison
Award, named for the long-time government information advocate, and
Minnesota native, who led lobbying efforts of the American Library
Association for 25 years.   #   #  #

--------3 of 21--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Zimmermann/CTV 3.16 1pm

Showings of Dean Bicking's hour-long video with Dean Zimmerman,
Minneapolis City Councilmember, entrapped by FBI sting on
(false)"sorruption charges. This is was orignially broadcast and taped at
the White Bear Lake cable TV studio.  Moderator was Bill Oldfather.  It
was first broadcast live on Monday night, January 22 - just one week
before Dean reported to prison.  It is now scheduled for showing on
Minneapolis CABLE TV, channel 17 (not the broadcast channel 17 that
carries the weather).  Here are the dates:

Friday March 16, 1 pm

Sunday March 18, 1:30 pm (same time as anti-war march! Encourage people to
tape it for later viewing)

Tuesday March 20, 4 pm

The show consists of a brief introduction to Dean and a timeline of the
case against him, with the rest of the first half hour being a discussion
of the FBI's history of persecution and dirty tricks, with a connection to
the various movements that Dean has been a part of.  The second half deals
with the specifics of Dean's case: the charges, the evidence, and the

FROM :Dave BIcking:

There is some relevant recent news: the Justice Department (mostly the
FBI) has been shown to be showing partisan bias in local corruption
prosecutions. (Surprise!)  Of course, the FBI's prioritizing of local
corruption investigations isn't just partisan politics - it also has to do
with the continuing consolidation of the power of the federal government
(particularly the Executive Branch), at the expense of local control and
democracy.  I haven't seen the news stories myself - I doubt the MSM will
carry them prominently.

But I have seen one of the studies this is based on:  There is a pdf
document listing all the local candidates and officeholders who have been
investigated by the FBI for corruption.  The brief analysis at the bottom
shows that only 12% were Republicans.

You can see that pdf here:

Granted, it doesn't prove that Dean's case was politically motivated - but
it clearly refutes those who ridicule that possibility! (NOTE from Lydia
Howell: Look at Dean Zimmerman's proseuction and these other
"investigations about correption" primarily directed at Democrats, in
light of the most recent Bush scnadal: the firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys.
More evidnece of not just bias, but, a whole rightwing political agenda to
continue to ROB We The People and DISMANTLE policies for the "common
good"--that is rolling us backwards to BEFORE the New Deal.

--------4 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 3.16 4:30pm

Friday, 3/16, 4:30 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end the occupation of Palestine,
Snelling & Summit Aves, St Paul.  Karen, 651-283-3495.

--------5 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Pray for peace 3.16 6pm

Friday, 3/16, 6 to 7 pm, Christian Peace Witness for Iraq hosts "Prayers for
Peace" marking 4 years of war in Iraq, with bell choir of Community of Peace
Academy, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC, 500 - 8th Ave SE, Mpls.

--------6 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Vigil 3.16 6pm Taylors Falls MN

Friday, 3/16, 6 to 7 pm, vigil on interstate bridge between Taylors Falls
and St Croix Falls, with candles and luminaries in-between, representing
service members lost from each state, Taylors Falls.  715-472-2728.

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

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: DU/film 3.16 6:30pm

Friday, 3/16, 6:30 pm, excellent 50-min Spanish documentary "Poison Bullets"
on depleted uranium (with footage of local Alliant actions), O'shaughnassey
Education Building, Cleveland & Summit, St Thomas U, St Paul.  $5 benefit
local War Resisters League chapter.  FFI Marv 612-874-7715.

[Spread by people with depleted cur cranium. -ed]

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

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Sami/Iraq 3.16

Friday, 3/16, just returned from Iraq, Najaf resident (and former Mpls
restauranteur) Sami Rasouli interviews on MTN in the morning, speaks at
local high school in the afternoon, does vigil from 4:30 to 5:30 and does
potluck and dinner in the evening.  Contact David Harris for details:
tuvecino [at] or 651-388-5863.

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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Maxxed out/film 3.16

Film:MAXXED OUT opens FRIDAY,MAR.16 at Lagoon Cinema,uptown Minneapolis

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged America's Gulf Coast, it laid bare an
uncomfortable reality - America is not only far from the world's
wealthiest nation, it is crumbling beneath a staggering burden of
individual and government debt.

Filmmaker James Scurlock takes us on a journey deep inside American debt,
where everything seems okay as long as the minimum monthly payment arrives
on time. He shows how the modern financial industry really works, explains
the true definition of "preferred customer" and tells us why the poor are
getting poorer and the rich getting richer. By turns hilarious and
profoundly disturbing, his film reveals a national nightmare which is all
too real for most of us.

--------10 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Guatemala  3.17 10am

Saturday, 3/17, 10 to 11:30 am, human rights accompanier Ellen More speaks
on "Genocide in Guatemala," Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha
Ave, Mpls.

--------11 of 21--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P vigils 3.17 11am

There are now two NWN4P weekly demonstrations as follows:

NWN4P-Plymouth demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, along
Vinewood, just north of 42nd Ave.  and one block east of 494 in
Plymouth. Drive toward the Rainbow and Target Greatland on Vinewood,
turn right by Bakers Square and right again into the parking lot near
the sidewalk.  Bring your own sign or use ours.
NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the entrance fountain. 
Bring your own signs or use ours.

--------12 of 21--------

From: Jesse Mortenson <teknoj [at]>
Subject: St Pat/IRV 3.17 12noon


The next big event for IRV in St. Paul is St. Patrick's day. St. Patrick
knows Instant Runoff Voting makes for good democracy in Ireland and that
it'll make for good democracy in St. Paul. But first we have to put it on
the ballot so that the voters of our fair City can approve it.

You can help by collecting petition signatures on St. Patrick's day.
Thousands will be downtown to watch the parade and we will be there to
give them a chance to help shape the future of democracy in St. Paul.

The parade starts at noon March 17 and travels west on Fourth St. from
Sibley St. to Market St. (near Rice Park). Go to for

--------13 of 21--------

From: Lennie <major18 [at]>
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.17 2pm

Mounds View peace vigil EVERY SATURDAY from 2-3pm at the at the southeast
corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE in Blaine,
which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall area. This is a
MUCH better location.

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

For further information, email major18 [at] or call Lennie at

--------14 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Vigil 3.17 2pm Virginia MN

Saturday, 3/17, 2 to 4 pm, Iron Range United for Peace and Awareness
sponsors rally for peace on the 4th anniversary of the Iraq war, corner 8th
St S and 12th Ave W, Virginia, MN.  FFI Karen at nighj [at] or

--------15 of 21--------

From: Rebecca McConkey <mn_united_ireland [at]>
Subject: MUI StPat ceili 3.17 6:30pm

Minnesotans for a United Ireland
(651) 645-9506

Minnesotans for a United Ireland (MUI) announces its 33rd annual Saint
Patrick's Day Ceili (Irish social dance), with live music by local Irish
band, The Blackbirds.

This is the longest running Saint Patrick's Day Ceili Dance in the Upper

The event will be held on Saturday, March 17, 2007, from 6:30 to 10:00
p.m., in the gym at Hillcrest Recreation Center, 1978 Ford Parkway in
Saint Paul.

Easy dance lessons will be offered at 6:30, with dancing to follow at
7:00. The dances will be taught and called by Mike Whalen.

Admission is $8, seniors and children under 9 get in free. There is also a
$1 discount with a non-perishable food shelf donation.

This is an alcohol-free and smoke-free event for people of all ages.
Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day and support Irish unity.
Information is available at 651-645-9506 or irishdancetc [at]

Minnesotans for a United Ireland 612-871-7110

--------16 of 21--------

From: Mnfolkfestival [at]
Subject: Mnfolkfest ceili 3.17 7pm

Join us for The Irish Ceili Dance of the  year!

Saturday, March 17,  7 pm.
Music:  _Barra_ (  "Minnesota's Best Loved Ceili

CSPS Hall, 383 Michigan Avenue,  St. Paul, MN.  (Just off of West 7th Street
east of St. Clair and above the  Glockenspiel Restaurant.)

CSPS stands for Czeck-Slovak Preservation Society, this is a historic
building that has been lovingly preserved, and has a great wood dance

All the dances are taught and beginners are welcome.  Beverages (soda,
water, beer) and desserts will be available.

TICKETS: $9 at the door.  Seniors, 62+, and children 6 to 16 are $4.50,
children under 5 are free.
Sponsored  by the Minnesota Folk Arts Alliance, _www.mnfolkarts.org_
( .

--------17 of 21--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Labor/climate/CTV 3.17 9pm

Minnepolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" has begun cablecasting weekly in Minneapolis on MTN!
The Minneapolis cablecasts are on Channel 17 Saturdays at 9 pm and the
following Tuesday morning at 8:

Sat, 3/17, 9 pm  "Labor Confronts the Climate Crisis" Interview of
Christine Frank of the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities (3CTC)
and Karen Redleaf of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
(WILPF).  Hosted by Eric Angell.

--------18 of 21--------

What We Need: Single Payer, a Single Plan
by Lisa Nilles
Published on Thursday, March 15, 2007 by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis -
St. Paul, Minn.)

The universal health insurance plan introduced last week by Healthy
Minnesota (a coalition of providers, legislators and insurers) is nothing
more than a band-aid on a system in need of a much bigger fix.

It promises universal access to health care by requiring all Minnesotans
to "own" health insurance (called individual mandate). On the surface, it
may look good, momentarily, to claim that Minnesota has a universal health
care plan, but without underlying repair of our overly complex and
outrageously expensive health care system, the satisfaction won't last

Healthy Minnesota's proposal is similar to the
universal-health-care-by-individual-mandate plan passed in Massachusetts
last year. This is somewhat surprising, since the Massachusetts plan is
already failing in its promise to make "affordable" health insurance
available to all.

We need repair of the broken system to achieve universal health care. It's
that simple, and it's that hard. Band-aid solutions are "politically
possible." Genuine reform, which replaces our fragmented, failed system of
multiple private insurers with a single payer and one single plan for all,
is considered "politically impossible." But it is what we need to do.

It is not un-American to suggest that we work together to solve the health
care crisis. It is a huge social and economic problem that affects each
and every one of us. Eighty-six percent of Minnesota physicians believe
"it is the responsibility of society, through the government, to ensure
that everyone has access to good medical care." We can't expect the
private market to solve this problem: Entrusting it to manage health care
just fractures the system and drives up cost. We need to work together on
this one, and the only institution that represents all of us is

We don't want to waste any more time or money on band-aid solutions. We
are ready for real reform: single-payer with universal coverage.

Lisa Nilles, M.D., of Minneapolis, is a graduate student in theology and a
member of Physicians for a National Health Program.

2007 Star Tribune.

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

The Liberal War on Democracy
by John Pilger
Published on Thursday, March 15, 2007 by the New Statesman/UK

"Hugo Chavez expresses the kind of genuine exuberant democracy long ago
abandoned in Britain"

In Andrew Cockburn's new book, Rumsfeld, the gap between rampant power and
its faraway victims is closed. Donald Rumsfeld, US secretary of defence
until last year and a designer of the Iraq bloodbath, is revealed as
personally directing from his office in the Pentagon the torture of fellow
human beings, exploiting "individual phobias, such as fear of dogs, to
induce stress" and use of "a wet towel and dripping water to induce the
misperception of suffocation". Cockburn's documented evidence shows that
other Bush mafiosi, such as Paul Wolfowitz, now president of the World
Bank, "had already agreed that Rumsfeld should approve all but the most
severe options, such as the wet towel, without restriction".

In Washington, I asked Ray McGovern, formerly a senior CIA officer, what
he made of Norman Mailer's remark that America had entered a pre-fascist
state. "I hope he's right," he replied, "because there are others saying
we are already in a fascist mode. When you see who is controlling the
means of production here, when you see who is controlling the newspapers
and periodicals, and the TV stations, from which most Americans take their
news, and when you see how the so-called war on terror is being conducted,
you begin to understand where we are headed. It's quite something that the
nuclear threat today should be seen first and foremost as coming from the
United States of America and Great Britain."

McGovern was the author of the president's daily CIA intelligence brief. I
interviewed him more than three years ago, and his prescient words are as
striking today as Cockburn's revelation of Rumsfeld's secret life is
illuminating. His description of fascism within a nominally free society
recalls George Orwell's warning that totalitarianism does not require a
totalitarian state.

The lies that have caused this extremely dangerous time are understood and
rejected by the majority of humanity. This was illustrated vividly on
15-16 February 2003 when some 30 million people took to the streets of
cities around the world, including the greatest demonstration in British
history. It was illustrated again the other day in Latin America, which
George W Bush on tour sought to reclaim for America's lost "backyard".
"The distinguished visitor," noted one commentator in Caracas, "was
received with fear and loathing."

There are many connections in Latin America to the suffering in the Middle
East. The crushing of popular, reformist governments by the US and the
setting up of torture regimes, from Guatemala to Chile, have echoes from
Iran to Afghanistan. The current attacks on the Chavez government in
Venezuela by the media, which Ray McGovern describes as being
"domesticated by their wish to serve", are essential in disclaiming the
right of the poor to find another way.

Elected last December with a record landslide of votes cast by
three-quarters of the eligible population - his 11th major election
victory - Hugo Chavez expresses the kind of genuine exuberant democracy
long ago abandoned in Britain. In this country, the political class offers
instead the arthritic pirouetting of Tony Blair, a criminal, and Gordon
Brown, the paymaster of imperial adventures fought by 18-year-old soldiers
who, on their return home, are so ill treated that there is no one to
change their colostomy bag.

Chavez, having all but got rid of the deadly IMF from Latin America, dares
to use the wealth from Venezuela's oil to unite the Latin peoples and to
expel a foreign economic system that calls itself liberal and is the
source of historic suffering. He is supported by governments and by
millions across South America from whom he derives his mandate.

You would not know this on either side of the Atlantic unless you studied
carefully. The propaganda that converts a lively, open democracy to an
"authoritarian" dictatorship is written on the rusted crosses of Salvador
Allende's comrades, of whom the same was said. It is disseminated by the
embittered effete whose liberal hero was Blair, until he made an
embarrassing mess, and who now claim the respectability of "the left" in
order to disguise their mentoring by the likes of Wolfowitz, their
promotion of Dick Cheney's ludicrous "world Islamic empire" and, above
all, their passion for wars whose spilt blood is never theirs.

"Rumsfeld: his rise, fall and catastrophic legacy" by Andrew Cockburn is
published in the United States by Scribner ($25)

John Pilger, renowned investigative journalist and documentary film-maker,
is one of only two to have twice won British journalism's top award; his
documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US. In a New
Statesman survey of the 50 heroes of our time, Pilger came fourth behind
Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. "John Pilger," wrote Harold Pinter,
"unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him."

New Statesman 2007

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

 [There is a] crystalline pattern in phenomena as diverse as elevated PCB
 levels in the sediment of "pristine" Alaskan lakes and the increase in
 length of billionaires' yachts.

 If nothing happens even though we're entering an ecological crisis of
 historic gravity, it's because those who have power in the world want it
 to be this way.

 "If there is no justice, what are kingdoms, but vast systems
 of robbery?" -St Augustine

How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet: A Review
By Leslie Thatcher
t r u t h o u t | Review

Thursday 15 March 2007

"Ingenuous comrades, there are bad men on the Earth. If you want to be an
ecologist, you have to stop being a dummy." From Herv Kempf's "How the
Rich Are Destroying the Planet."

In 2006, Le Monde environmental editor Herv Kempf's article, "New
Suspicions about GMO" (translated and republished at Truthout) was
nominated for a Project Censored award for covering an important topic
neglected by the mainstream press. Earlier this year, Truthout reported
the publication of Kempf's new book, "How the Rich are Destroying the
Planet." I was intrigued, all the more so as a few readers asked when the
book would be available in English, and asked Mr. Kempf to send me a copy
of his book as well as for permission to translate the Preface (see
below). My own appreciation of this completely original and fundamentally
necessary little book - a scant 125 pages of text - follows. That review
precedes a short online discussion with Herv Kempf, while a translation of
the Preface to "How the Rich are Destroying the Planet" appears at the end
of this feature, along with a number of links to related subjects.

Although familiar with much of the information Kempf marshals in "How the
Rich Are Destroying the Planet," I was nonetheless amazed by the long and
elegant arc of his argument, his ability to discern and convey a
crystalline pattern in phenomena as diverse as elevated PCB levels in the
sediment of "pristine" Alaskan lakes and the increase in length of
billionaires' yachts. The book's central thesis - that the "oligarchy," a
global stateless class composed of the hyper-rich and the "new
Nomenklatura," is responsible for our species' headlong rush to
environmental destruction, both indirectly, through the rest of society's
attempts to imitate and emulate their wasteful habits of conspicuous
consumption, and directly, through their control of the levers of power,
all presently fixed at the "Catastrophe" setting - is buttressed by twenty
pages of footnotes and direct citations from sources as varied as Adam
Smith and James Lovelock; the scientific monograph, "Effects on the Marine
Environment of Ocean Acidification Resulting from Elevated Levels of CO2
in the Atmosphere" and Alexis de Tocqueville.

The first stage in Kempf's argument is to adduce the irrefutable evidence
of an accelerating ecological catastrophe as humanity's use of the
planet's resources overshoots the Earth's carrying capacity: While,
according to one researcher Kempf cites, humanity's resource use was at 50
percent of the Earth's biocapacity in 1950, by 2003, it had reached 120
percent - consuming resources faster than the Earth can reproduce them.
Foretastes of the ultimate catastrophe are suggested by avian flu worries,
the destruction of New Orleans by the combined impact of Hurricane Katrina
and infrastructure failures before and after the storm, and by increased
mortality associated with the 2003 heat wave in Europe. Each environmental
"problem" is linked to all the others; their synergy and imbrication
propel us "in the direction of unstoppable destruction" and preclude any
idea of separate crises, "solvable independently of one another." Why,
Kempf asks, when the situation is so clear and alarming, does it remain so
stubbornly intractable to change? He concludes that "if nothing happens
even though we're entering an ecological crisis of historic gravity, it's
because those who have power in the world want it to be this way."

Kempf goes on to document the return of widespread poverty and economic
precariousness to the rich world and the globalization of poverty in spite
of economic growth and some reduction of poverty in China and India.
However, economic growth and greater agricultural productivity are
achieved at the expense of environmental degradation and, finally, there
is a vicious "synergy between the global ecological and social crises:
they respond to one another, influence one another and worsen
correlatively." And the poor are the first victims of environmental
degradation everywhere.

In spite of a distinct coolness of tone and a controlled reliance on
statistics and citation, Kempf's depiction of "The Powerful of This World"
echoes Old Testament prophetic outrage. He quotes Peter Drucker on the
destructiveness of unbridled executive compensation, St. Augustine on
government ("If there is no justice, what are kingdoms, but vast systems
of robbery?"), "Forbes, "The Economist,' and the "Financial Times" to
create a portrait of a predatory, self-perpetuating elite that has become
wealthy "not through success in production, but through constant
redistribution of collective wealth" (think Halliburton or Blackwater
senior executives and shareholders) and that lives "... separated from the
plebians. They are not aware of how the poor and wage-earners live; they
don't know and don't want to know." No sense of the public good or civic
virtue moves "this predatory and greedy controlling class, wasting its
rents, misusing its power, (it) congeals as an obstacle on the way. It
bears no proposal, is animated by no ideal, delivers no promise ... is
blind to the explosive power of obvious injustice. And blind to the
poisoning of the biosphere that growth in material wealth provokes, a
poisoning that means a degradation of the conditions for human life...."

None of this would matter so much, Kempf suggests, were it not for
insatiable human rivalry in ostentation. Globally, wealth is an indicator
of status and the social stimulus of emulation and imitation creates
limitless "needs." Drawing on Veblen's "Theory of the Leisure Classes,"
Kempf suggests that production is adequate, but consumption is excessive
as oligarchs vie with one another in sumptuary competition and every
social stratum beneath does the same. The "alibi" that the oligarchy uses
to maintain its grip is economic growth and the myth that a rising
economic tide lifts all boats - a market theory that has been broken ever
since the disconnect in the direct correlation between growth and
employment: "Because the pursuit of material growth is the only way the
oligarchy can make societies accept extreme inequalities without bringing
those inequalities into question. In fact, growth creates a surplus of
apparent wealth that allows the system to be lubricated without changing
its structure." Immaterial growth would not degrade the environment the
way material growth does: in spite of technological progress, growth
degrades the environment faster than technological fixes that reduce that
degradation do. And, since justice demands that the consumption of the
poorest be increased, "the rich have to consume less." Kempf does not say
so explicitly, but that last requirement would appear to apply to me and
almost anyone reading these words online.

Although the oligarchy may be blind to the public weal, it is vividly
aware of what is necessary to maintain and perpetuate its own privileges.
We may have great difficulty believing it, but "the global oligarchy wants
to get rid of democracy and the public freedoms that constitute its
substance." Kempf cites a chilling passage from a nineteenth century
social observer to suggest how social control techniques, rather than the
crude methods of a Hitler or a Stalin, could be quite effective in muting
democratic freedoms:

"The kind of oppression that threatens democratic peoples does not in any
way resemble what preceded it (...) I want to imagine what aspect
despotism could take on in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of men,
similar to one another and equal, who gyrate unceasingly to obtain small
and vulgar pleasures for themselves with which they fill their souls. Each
one of them, isolated at some remove from the others, is like a stranger
to the destiny of all the others: his children and his personal friends
constitute the entire human species for him: as for the remainder of his
fellow citizens, he is right next to them, but he doesn't see them; he
touches them and doesn't feel them; he exists only within and for himself
and, although he still has a family, one may at the least say he no longer
has a country. Above all these men rises an immense tutelary power that
alone takes care of assuring their enjoyment and watching over their fate.
It is absolute, elaborate, regular, calculating, and mild. It would be
like paternal power, if - like it - its goal was to prepare men for virile
maturity; but, on the contra'y, it seeks only to limit them irrevocably to
childhood; it likes its citizens to be happy, as long as they dream of
nothing other than being happy." (Alexis de Tocqueville)

Since the collapse of the former USSR, it appears that capitalism no
longer needs democracy - so antithetical to the oligarchy's objectives.
Terrorism is the latest alibi to tighten security, criminalize dissent,
expand surveillance and imprison the poor. "The hyper-rich will attempt to
maintain their excessive advantages by force as they did after Hurricane
Katrina, when armed forces were sent - not to help the drowning poor - but
to hunt down looters.

"An ironic twist of history could even be an authoritarian government's
use of ecological necessity as a pretext to persuade the people to accept
a restriction of freedoms - without, however, touching [socioeconomic]

However difficult the political decision to "accept humanity's
self-moderation" may appear to be, Kempf maintains his optimism in that
possibility. He urges us to get rid of several received ideas:

belief in growth as the solution to social problems

belief in technology as the solution to ecological problems

the inevitability of unemployment ("a construct whereby capitalism keeps
workers docile and salaries down")

the necessary alliance of Europe, which embodies a universal ideal and the
demonstrated ability to unite diverse states, and North America, "the
obese power"

He encourages us to build on existing strengths:

the public freedoms and concern for the public good that still
characterize the system itself

a mass media which may have "treacherously" supported the oligarchy in the
recent past up until now, but which is capable of being once again a
vehicle of real information and empowerment.

the "Left" - which could be reborn by joining the causes of inequality and

nascent global solidarity movements.

Kempf is neither a cranky conspiracy theorist nor a bitter ascetic, but a
wide-awake dreamer with a Gallic joie de vivre and faith in liberte,
egalite, fraternite. His latest book is an important work of
social-scientific syncretism that merits wider distribution.


A Conversation With Herv Kempf
"How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet"
By Leslie Thatcher
t r u t h o u t | Interview

Thursday 15 March 2007

Leslie Thatcher, for Truthout: I read "Comment les riches detruisent la
plante" this afternoon. I'm not sure "like" is the operative term for my
response. I devoured it in one go, which means I will need to go back and
reread many passages - my copy is now as prickly as a porcupine with all
the little bits of wastepaper I stuck in to mark the passages I'd want to

The book seems to me an incredible tour de force. I could not imagine it
possible to lay out systematically, with sentences of classical limpidity
and concision, such a complete, as well as completely persuasive argument
for what ails the world and what needs to be addressed. The dense
connections between all the disturbing phenomena of recent years -
ecological degradation to the point of habitat destruction for our own
species, increasing social inequality and unemployment, the new
totalitarianism (government snooping, torture, the percentage increase in
prison populations), and the disappearance of a seriously contentious
press are simply and powerfully delineated.

One thing I missed was hearing directly from the oligarchs - not just the
presumably enlightened ones like George Soros, Warren Buffet, Al Gore and
Howard Dean, but from the Cheneys, Bushes and other Carlyle Group
shareholders. I want to know what their vision of the future is, what
planet they think they can live on after they've wasted the only one we've
got - or whether they think a "Soylent Green" future is perfectly

It was particularly poignant to read your book after reading this week in
The Independent that everyone in Davos - winter camp for the Oligarchy -
is happy and upbeat about economic growth, record profits, etc. - a
disconnect from our terrestrial reality no less dangerous than the Ancien
Regime's. And I confess that even though I work in the alternative press
and used to work in the oligarchy, I cannot believe that class's
irresponsibility can actually be conscious. In spite of myself, I remain
incredulous at the idea of such comprehensive wickedness.

Herv Kempf: I'm very happy and honored "Comment les riches dtruisent la
plante" pleased you so much. I believe it has touched a sensitive chord
with many people in many places. Many readers have responded with great
interest: it was useful to clearly connect the environmental crisis and
the social question.

I think [the oligarchy] is not monolithic and that one part of it can
break away and take another direction (that's a theme that I sketch at the
end of the book and a point that seems critical for the future).

Truthout: May I ask about the work of "Reporterre" and what, if anything,
I can do to support it?

Kempf: The objective of Reporterre is to prolong the discussion initiated
by the book by making the site a meeting place for concerns over
ecological, social and public freedom issues. As you know, we post news
produced by French associations and short interviews with militants and
personalities involved in those issues that are relatively well-known in
France. I would like to develop the site, but lack the time - and, of
course, the financing - to do it. Nonetheless, at the moment we keep the
site going and I hope some friends will join us little by little to enrich
it further. As for support, please let its existence be known!
( Even non-French speakers can enjoy Herv Kempf's
incisive interview with Al Gore, who seems a bit surprised by his
questioner's perspicacity and absence of triviality. ljt) And if there's a
foundation or some other organization somewhere that would be interested
in helping it along, send me their contact information!

Truthout: I read that you bicycle to work: how else do you personally
reduce your own consumption, share with those who have less, and create a
new ethos?

Kempf: Reducing my personal consumption? First of all, it's possible to
live in Paris without a car, given that public transportation is
efficient. In daily life, the family (I have five children) goes without
television, a microwave, a dishwasher and all those electronic gadgets
that are expensive, use a great deal of energy, and take too much time. We
pay attention to turning lights off in rooms where no one is present. My
wife is a good cook and we eat healthily and pleasantly without meat every
day. One important point is that I live without credit - indebtedness is
one of the most pernicious instruments pushing us towards excess
consumption. Obviously, all this makes life quite happy, since we have the
time to read and we spend a lot of time with our friends. The children
adapt well to such a thrifty life, even if their friends often have more
gadgets than they do. As to sharing with those who have less, one never
does enough - of course. But I regularly send money to charitable and
development organizations.

Truthout: If Veblen is right about the basic human drive to compete
insatiably for social status, it seems to me we need to replace the
competition of conspicuous consumption with virtuous competition: to make
recycling and reusing - as well as real leadership - "chic."

Kempf: Veblen and new values: yes, absolutely! To change the world we must
create new norms of "savoir-vivre" [manners] (I re-echo Veblen's formula)
so that what's "chic" is not having a big SUV and taking the plane, but
bicycling, having a convivial social life, and consuming less stuff. And
in this regard, the oligarchy has a heavy responsibility also.

Truthout: Readers have asked when "How the Rich Are destroying the Planet"
will be available in English: do you have any plans for an English

Kempf: This depends on generating the interest of an English-language

Truthout: What are your immediate plans?

Kempf: If all goes well, I'll spend three weeks at the end of March at
Duke University in North Carolina at their invitation. I will give a
symposium on "How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet;" I am curious to
know how it will be received by Duke's rich students. Then, the beginning
of April, I go to Qubec to give several lectures: the book has aroused a
great interest there, to my surprise. All the media talked about it after
the "Devoir" article appeared, and lecture offers poured in.

Truthout: Thank you so much, Herv Kempf, for taking the time to talk.

Kempf: Thank you for your work and for making these ideas known in the
United States.

Translation: t r u t h o u t French language correspondent Leslie


Preface: "How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet"
By Herv Kempf
t r u t h o u t | Translation
Thursday 15 March 2007

The bus took me to Heathrow airport after I had finished coverage on a
story about the "soldier of the future." The radio was broadcasting the
news. The reporter explained that, according to Swedish experts, a high
level of radioactivity that could have arisen from a nuclear power station
accident had been detected in that Scandinavian country.

It was April 28, 1986, the day after the Chernobyl accident. For me, that
news suddenly reawakened a feeling of forgotten urgency. Ten or fifteen
years before, I had read Illich, La Guele ouverte [the first environmental
magazine, founded in 1972]; Le Sauvage [another ecology magazine,
associated with the Nouvel Observateur, that came out first in 1973], and
I was enthralled by ecology, which seemed to be the only real alternative
at a time when Marxism triumphed.

Then life pushed me in other directions. As a journalist, I was then
immersed in the microcomputing revolution: at a time when TIME crowned the
computer "Man of the Year," I, along with my colleagues from Science et
Vie Micro, was discovering the arcana of the first Macintosh, Minitel's
"messageries roses" [an online service of France Telecom] that prefigured
Internet forums and chat rooms, and the adventures of a young guy named
Bill Gates who had just concluded a smoking deal with IBM.

Suddenly, Chernobyl. An overwhelmingly obvious need: ecology. An exigency:
to tell about it. I began to do that. Since then, I have always been
guided by two rules: to be independent and to produce good information
that is precise, pertinent, and original. Also, I held back from
Doomsdayism. While I was among the first to write about climate issues,
the GMO adventure and the biodiversity crisis, I have never exaggerated.
It seems to me that the facts, borne by tenacious attention to such
obviously priority subjects, are sufficient to speak to our intellect. And
I believed that intelligence would be sufficient to transform the world.

However, after having believed that things would change, that society
would evolve and that the system could move, today I make two

The planet's ecological situation is worsening at a speed that the efforts
of millions - but too few - of the world's citizens who are aware of the
drama do not succeed in slowing down;

The social system that presently governs human society - capitalism -
blindly sticks to its guns against the changes that are indispensable to
effect if we want to preserve the dignity and promise of human existence.

These two findings lead me to throw my weight - however minimal it may be
- onto the scales by writing this book: short and as clear as it is
possible to be without oversimplifying. You will read an alarm here, but
above all, a double appeal on the success of which everything depends: to
ecologists, to think about social arrangements and power relationships; to
those who think about social arrangements, to take the true measure of the
ecological crisis that conditions justice today.

The comfort in which Western societies are immersed must not conceal from
us the gravity of the moment. We are entering a time of durable crisis and
possible catastrophe. Signs of the ecological crisis are clearly visible
and the hypothesis of a catastrophe is becoming realistic.

Yet, in reality, people pay little attention to these signs. They
influence neither politics nor the economy. The system does not know how
to change trajectory. Why?

Because we don't succeed in relating ecology and society.

However, we cannot understand the concomitance of the ecological and
social crises if we don't analyze them as the two sides of the same
disaster. And that disaster derives from a system piloted by a dominant
social stratum that today has no drive other than greed, no ideal other
than conservatism, no dream other than technology.

This predatory oligarchy is the main agent of the global crisis -
directly, by the decisions it makes. Those decisions aim to maintain the
order that has been established to its advantage and favor the objective
of material growth: the only method, according to the oligarchy, of making
the subordinate classes accept the injustice of the social situation. But
material growth intensifies environmental degradation.

The oligarchy also exercises a powerful indirect influence as a result of
the cultural attraction its consumption habits exercise on society as a
whole, and especially on the middle classes. In the best-provided-for
countries, as in developing countries, a large share of consumption
answers a desire for ostentation and distinction. People aspire to lift
themselves up the social ladder, which happens through imitation of the
superior class's consumption habits. Thus, the oligarchy diffuses its
ideology of waste throughout the whole society.

It's not the oligarchy's behavior alone that leads to deepening of the
crises. Faced with opposition to its privileges, with environmental
anxiety, with criticism of economic neoliberalism, it weakens public
freedoms and the spirit of democracy.

A drift towards semi-authoritarian regimes may be observed almost
everywhere in the world. The oligarchy that reigns in the United States is
its engine, as it uses the terror that the September 11th, 2001, attacks
elicited in American society.

In this situation, which could lead to either social chaos or
dictatorship, it is important to know what it is right to maintain for
ourselves and for future generations: not "the Earth," but "the
possibilities of human life on the planet," as philosopher Hans Jonas
calls them; that is, humanism, the values of mutual respect and tolerance,
a restrained and rich relationship with nature, and cooperation among
human beings.

To achieve those goals, it is not enough for society to become aware of
the urgency of the ecological crisis - and of the difficult choices its
prevention imposes, notably in terms of material consumption. It will
further be necessary that ecological concerns articulate themselves as a
radical political analysis of current relationships of domination. We will
not be able to decrease global material consumption if the powerful are
not brought down and if inequality is not combated. To the ecological
principle that was so useful at the time we first became aware - "Think
globally; act locally," - we must add the principle that the present
situation imposes: "Consume less; share better."

Translation: t r u t h o u t French language correspondent Leslie

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


In the beginning, God created the rich.

And the rich looked around and said,
Hey, God, where the hell is the world
with all the resources for us
to exploit?

So God got busy and did the world thing
with oil and timber and coal for the rich
to pump up, cut down, or dig up
for profit.

And the rich looked around and said,
Hey, God, this is all well and good,
but, where the hell are the poor people
to do the pumping and digging and cutting?
You don't expect US to do it, do you?
Back to the drawing board, and be quick
about it!

So God got busy again and did the
slave serf employee poor people bit,
so the rich could be rich
without working.

And the rich looked around and said,
Hey, God, good job. Except,
that conscience thingy you gave us
makes us feel bad
treating the poor like dirt.
What can you do
about that?

So God got busy again and expunged
from the rich their consciences,
scruples, sympathy, and
moral senses.

And the rich looked around,
felt ecstatically wonderful getting rich by
grinding the faces of the poor, and said,
Hey, God, thanks a bunch; now go
f*** yourself!

And so God got busy again
doing just that,
for disobeying the rich
in thought word or deed
is heresy and blasphemy.


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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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