|Progressive Calendar 03.21.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 17:32:26 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.21.07 1. Neo-assimilation 3.22 12noon 2. Immigration history 3.22 4pm 3. Eagan peace vigil 3.22 4:30pm 4. Northtown vigil 3.22 5pm 5. Welfare bills 3.22 6pm 6. Civil disobedience 3.22 6pm 7. Guantanamo/film 3.22 6:45pm 8. Haiti/law 3.22 7pm 9. World water day 3.22 7pm 10. Palestine/houses 3.22 7:30pm 11. Ellison/war$$ 3.22 12. Immokalee workers 3.23 12:15pm 13. Sami/Iraq 3.23 6pm 14. Iraq war tapes 3.23 6:30pm 15. Forced immigration 3.23 7pm 16. Jesus/Guantanamo 3.23 7:30pm 17. Food industry film 3.23 7:30pm 18. War-displaced/play 3.23 19. Dunbar-Ortiz - Go ahead, hate the rich, it's good for you 20. James Petras - Global ruling class: billionaires & how they "made it" 21. Sharon Smith - Hillary's cojones: our bleach-blond Thatcher? 22. ed - Recruiters (bumper sticker) --------1 of 22-------- From: Stephen Feinstein <feins001 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Neo-assimilation 3.22 12noon THE IMMIGRATION HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER Informal Seminar Series: Disciplinary Research in an Interdisciplinary Field: Migration Studies "What's New about Neo-Assimilation Theory?" Doug Hartmann Professor, Department of Sociology, U of M Thursday, March 22, 2007, 12:00-1:00 PM Light refreshments provided Immigration History Research Center Conference Room 308 Elmer L. Andersen Library 222 - 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis After having fallen out of favor in the 1960s, the concept of assimilation and assimilation theory more generally have experienced a recent renaissance in the social sciences. The most prominent of these works jettisons classical and conventional assumptions about the inevitability, uni-directionality, and normative desirability of assimilation. They focus instead on the conditions (economic, political, and cultural) that shape and determine how migrants and other minority groups are incorporated (or not) into "mainstream" society. While useful for examining traditional socio-economic indicators and inequalities, these analyses often sidestep questions about social solidarity, racial/ethnic identity, and national culture at the core of broader debates about immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism. Several variations on this neo-assimilation theme and critique will be explored. In addition, a closer consideration of the assumptions embedded in the standard, mostly quantitative measures and techniques used to operationalize these approaches will raise the question of whether assimilationist theory ever really disappeared in the first place. Questions/directions/disability accommodations/parking options call IHRC at 612-625-4800 or visit our Web site at < www.ihrc.umn.edu> Immigration History Research Center Suite 311 Elmer L. Andersen Library 222-21st Avenue South Minneapolis MN 55455 Visit our Web site at www.ihrc.umn.edu Sign up for free IHRC updates at http://www.ihrc.umn.edu/about/eNotice.html [Doubtless many of us have recently had raging arguments over the breakfast or dinner table: Neo-assimilation, pro or con? I don't want to say which side I'm on, because, as we all know, the other side is a bunch of mouth-breathing idiots! Recently, anti-neo-neo-assimilation theory has been proposed, and I can't even mention it without possible harm to life and limb, mine or others! -ed] --------2 of 22-------- From: Stephen Feinstein <feins001 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Immigration history 3.22 4pm CONTINUING LECTURE SERIES: "It's History: Immigration since 1965" Mar. 22 - James Ault, "African Christianity and Immigrant Life -- Remaking World Christianity & American Culture", screening and discussion of pieces of his series in progress, 4-6 pm, 120 Andersen Library --------3 of 22-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at] mtn.org> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 3.22 4:30pm CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------4 of 22-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 3.22 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------5 of 22-------- From: Welfare Rights Committee - Alt Email <welfarerights [at] qwest.net> Subject: Welfare bills 3.22 6pm Action Alert Upcoming Hearings For the WRC Bills In the House Welfare Rights Committee is continuing to fight for poor and working Minnesotans at the capitol. As it stands now, we need your immediate help to tell the politicians the time is now to ACT! Unfortunately, the poor of Minnesota are at risk of being sold out yet again by politicians. Come to the hearings and Support the Poor People's Bills HF 924 that will Outlaw workfare will be heard in the Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy and Finance Division Chaired by Rep. Rukavina on Thursday March 22, 2007 at 6PM in State Office Building Room 5. (ATTENTION!!! BECAUSE THIS IS A EVENING HEARING THE ROOM MAY CHANGED! BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR EMAIL FOR UPDATES IF THE ROOM DOES CHANGE) Workfare forces MFIP parents to work for nopay in order to get the grant. We say, if there is a job to be done, make it a real job with real wages and benefits! If workfare is allowed to happen, it will serve to hurt all working people, as real jobs are replaced by free-labor jobs. HF605 that will undo the biggest welfare cuts in History will be heard in Health Care and Human Service Finance Division Chaired by Rep. Huntley on Monday March 26, 2007 at 8AM in the State Office Building Room 200. Undo the cuts of 2003. These include the $125 MFIP cut to disabled families, the $50 MFIP cut to families in subsidized housing, the family cap, restrictions on education and the increased co-pays for poor families' childcare and basic medical. Please come out support HF605 and HF924 Also Call your Representative in the House and tell them not to steal money from welfare!!!!! If you have any questions please call us at 612-822-8020 Thank you for your support Welfare Rights Committee 310 E 38th St #207, Minneapolis, MN 55409 pho: 612-822-8020 Fax: 612-824-3604 welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com www.welfarerightsmn.org --------6 of 22-------- From: awcmere <meredith [at] antiwarcommittee.org> Subject: Civil disobedience 3.22 6pm * Civil Disobedience Training Thursday, 3/22 @ 6pm @ the UTEC building (1313 5th St. SE in conference room 102A). Come learn how you can resist the war using civil disobedience. --------7 of 22------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Guantanamo/film 3.22 6:45pm Thursday, 3/22, 6:45 pm, NW Neighbors for Peace hosts film "Road to Guantanamo," Parish Community of St Joseph, 8701 - 36th Ave N, New Hope. --------8 of 22-------- From: Dick Bernard <dick_bernard [at] msn.com> Subject: Haiti/law 3.22 7pm Thu Mar 22 7 p.m. Well known Human Rights Lawyers Mario Joseph (from Port-au-Prince Bureaux Avocats Internatiounaux) and Brian Concannon (Executive Director of Institut Justice d'Haiti www.ijdh.org ) will speak on current conditions in Haiti. Both are experts on Haiti Human Rights, and are known for such cases as the Raboteau Massacre prosecution, and defense of Fr. Jean-Juste, and folksinger So Anne Auguste, among other credentials. Room 250 Olin Science Building at Macalester College, at Snelling and Grand (between campus buildings and football field). Perhaps easiest to enter Macalester off St. Clair. Parking available just south or west of Olin Science Bldg. --- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] Visi.com> Human rights lawyers Brian Concannon and Mario Joseph on Haiti's struggle Three years after the coup in Haiti, hear their firsthand account of their struggle for the release of political prisoners and to end the repression of supporters of democracy in Haiti. --------9 of 22-------- From: Susu Jeffrey <susujeffrey [at] msn.com> Subject: World water day 3.22 7pm World Water Day: Challenge Corporate Control of Water Thursday, March 22, 2007 7 PM Saint Joan of Arc Church 4537 Third Avenue South, Mpls (1-block east of 35W, exit at 46th Street) Take the World Water Challenge! Join water experts, community members, faith leaders and environmental groups as we celebrate international World Water Day with an evening of education and action. The event is part of Corporate Accountability International's "Think Outside the Bottle" Campaign. We aim to raise awareness about the growing global water crisis. We seek to protect water as a human right, not as a corporate commodity. The United Nations estimates that by 2025, 2 out of 3 people will not have access to water. Find out how we can work together here in the Twin Cities for the common good. Free food! Bring families, friends and neighbors. All welcome. Cosponsors: Minnesota Water Alliance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Friends of Coldwater, Alliance for Sustainability and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Please RSVP to annie [at] greencorps.org or by phone 612-379-5745. For more info: www.stopcorporateabuse.org --------10 of 22-------- From: margaret <hope4peace22000 [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Palestine/houses 3.22 7:30pm Jeff Halper, internationally-recognized human rights activist and founder ot the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, will speak at: Kenwood Isles 1425 W. 28th St., Minneapolis Thursday, March 22nd at 7:30pm Open to the public but pre-registration is required: Pre-register by calling: 612-871-2229 or 612-721-5569 Jeff Halper is an Israeli anthropologist, a retired professor at Ben Gurion University, a transplant 30 years ago from Minnesota, a harsh critic of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and, as founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), one of the leading peace and anti-occupation activists in Israel. --------11 of 22-------- From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Ellison/war$$ 3.22 Call Congressman Keith Ellison, if you live in the Fifth Congressional District (Minneapolis), and tell him to tell Washington that his constituents won't let him vote on appropriating more money for war on Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison has publicly stated that he will not vote for more money for war on Iraq and Afghanistan. That means NO on the Supplemental Appropriations bill which is expected to reach the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this Thursday, March 22. However, we hear that Keith is under terrific pressure from Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic caucus to vote yes on Appropriations. A yes vote means more money--$125 Billion--to keep the war going. Keith needs to be able to say that his constituents will not allow him to vote for money for war!! Congressman Keith Ellison 612-522-1212; D.C.: 202-225-4755 Web: <http://www.house.gov/ellison> --------12 of 22-------- From: Brian Payne <brianpayneyvp [at] gmail.com> Subject: Immokalee workers 3.23 12:15pm Brian Payne, brianpayneyvp [at] gmail.com, 612-859-5750 Romeo Ramirez, member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and recipient of the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for his work fighting modern-day slavery in the fields of Florida, will be in the Twin Cities from March 21-24, 2007 leading presentations about the current reality lived by farmworkers in the United States and the efforts of the CIW to change this reality. The speaking events are part of the Twin Cities CIW Solidarity Committee preparations for a Minnesota Caravan join the CIW for mass protests in front of McDonald's headquarters in Chicago, IL on April 13-14. The main presentation will be: Friday, March 23, 12:15pm, University of Minnesota Law School, Room 55, Mondale Hall (229 19th Ave. S., Mpls), sponsored by Human Rights Center, Human Rights Program, Chicano Studies, Global Studies, and the Global Studies Student Association. Other presentations include: Sat., March 24, 10:30am-3:00pm, Cretin-Durham Hall High School (550 South Albert St., St. Paul). Youth Summit of the Americas, developed in the accordance with the need in the Twin Cities for a youth driven unification of students to discuss issues currently facing Latin America. The cost of half day is $5 and the full day is $10. To register or receive more information, contact: WFPeaceYouthSummit [at] gmail.com Saturday, March 24, 3:00pm, Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha Ave. Gathering with Centro de Derechos Laborales, Centro Campesino, and rank and file union members for a more intimate discussion about the history of the CIW. For more info on the presentations and the Minnesota Caravan to join the CIW in the pass protests at McDonald's HQ on April 13-14, contact: Brian Payne, 612-859-5750, brianpayneyvp [at] gmail.com For more info on the national movement, see: www.ciw-online.org or www.sfalliance.org Fair food that respects human rights, not fast food that exploits human beings. www.sfalliance.org --------13 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Sami/Iraq 3.23 6pm Friday, 3/23, 6 pm potluck, 7 pm speaker, Iraqi American (and founder of Muslim Peacemaker Team and resident of Najaf) Sami Rasouli speaks to Iron Range United for Peace and Awareness, Messiah Lutheran Church, 8590 Enterprise Dr S, Mt Iron, MN. FFI Karen at nighj [at] aol.com or 218-969-6144. --------14 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Iraq war tapes 3.23 6:30pm Friday, 3/23, 6:30 pm, the DFL Veterans' Caucus presents "The Iraq War Tapes," Immanuel Lutheran Church, Luther Hall, 16515 Luther Way, Eden Prairie. RSVP (appreciated, not required) to dflvetscaucus [at] gmail.com --------15 of 22-------- From: bkucera [at] csom.umn.edu Subject: Forced immigration 3.23 7pm 'Morristown' chronicles changes wrought by immigration, globalization What effect is globalization - and the waves of immigration it often compels - having on communities? That story is told in "Morristown," the next film in the Labor & Community Film Series. "Morristown" will be shown Friday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at the Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis. It is free and open to all. The showing is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service and co-sponsored by the Resource Center. In this hour-long documentary, director Ann Lewis chronicles nearly a decade of change in Morristown, Tennessee, through interviews with displaced or low-wage Southern workers, Mexican immigrants, and workers and families impacted by globalization. The film shows how working-class people in Mexico and eastern Tennessee are caught in the throes of massive economic change, challenging their assumptions about work, family, nation and community. "Morristown" is in Spanish and English with subtitles. It replaces "Five Factories: Worker Control in Venezuela," which originally was scheduled for March 23. A copy of "Five Factories" could not be obtained; film series organizers regret any inconvenience this may cause. --------16 of 22-------- From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Jesus at Guantanamo 3.23 7:30pm "Jesus at Guantanamo" A One-Man Play by Matthew Vaky Friday, March 23, 7:30 p.m. Walker Community Church, 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis. One performance only. Jesus returns with some surprising insights in a gripping modern situation, and offers his thoughts on the nature of morality. This play addresses issues of habeas corpus, torture and man's inhumanity to man. Matthew Vaky is an actor, director and playwright in the Twin Cities who has appeared at the Guthrie Theatre, Mixed Blood and Teatro del Pueblo, among other theatrical venues. Mature themes and strong language. Free will offering: suggested $5.00-$10.00+ (Students/Seniors: $8.00). Sponsored by: the WAMM Tackling Torture at the Top (T3) Committee. --------17 of 22-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Food industry film 3.23 7:30pm "Our Daily Bread":Strange Artistry Exposes Food Industry reviewed by Lydia Howell Austrian filmmaker, Nikolaus Geyrhalter's uses a radical aesthetic to expose industrialized food produciton in "Our Daily Bread". Rather than the grainy gore of animal rights activists' hidden cameras, Geyrhalter filmed in high-defnition digital video (transposed to 35mm film). The result is vivid, long shots of places that sometimes seem as if they exist on another planet, yet intrinsically linked to our everyday sustenance. Huge greenhouses. lit from within at night, look like space stations. Inside a chick farm looks like a maxium security prison. Steril or bloody, these food factories are rythms of precise motions whether by machines or humans. By being sometimes almost painterly, the souless, mechanized world we've created for agriculture and meat production is made even more starkly horrifying. The steady hum of machinery, grinding wheels, metal upon metal, and in chicken factories, animal feedlots and slaughterhouses, punctuated by chirps, screeches, cries, and moans iss the only real 'dialogue'. Geyrhalter decided to drop all the interviews he conducted, as distractions from direct experience. In a time where we're all information-overloaded, he wisely decided that citing statistics or naming facts would ahve less impact than siply allowing viewers to see for themselves. Sometimes, the sheer enormity of how machines work together produces its own kind of awe. But, to this viewer, at least, I identified with the people working in these environments, and immediatly saw how workers are incorporated as simply other moving parts. For unlike some exposes of the food industry, I think "Our Daily Bread" reveals not only the horror of how the natural world has been subsumed to efficiency, but, that human beings are as well. There's an alienation about the workers we see. Wearing padded headphones, working alone, with steril machines or blood and guts, I wondered: how they can bear eight or more hours a day of such labor? How do men inside little cubicles atop deafening tractors not go mad from the noisy isolation? Even workers picking fruits and vegatables in big greenhouses do not converse or sing. The people who work in these industries are as almost as interchangeeable as the animals who's lives are displaced from the life cycle. Ultimately, "Our Daily Bread" poses questions about food, labor and "modern life" as the West has defined it. Reverence and ritual that once attended how human beings grew food and practiced animal husbandry has been replaced by a mechanization process that lauds uniformity above all eles. (For thoughtful meditations about these matters, I highly recommend exploring the writings of Kentucy farmer/poet and essayist Wendell Berry). In "Our Daily Bread", I came away with a visceral sense of how much these same industrial values are permeating more and more of our lives. Underneath all the media-saturation of celebrity worship glitter and whiz-bang consumerism, I felt THIS is the unsettling underpinning of 21st century life. As a post-script, it should be said that when petroleum runs dry, so will the industrialzed food production that Nikolaus Geyrhalter has revealed. In the meantime, one good reason to see this film is to contemplate what we'd like to create in its place and how our whole society could be transformed if we did. "Our Daily Bread" Fri.Mar.23, 7:30pm, Sat. Mar. 24, 2pm and 7:30pm, Sun. Mar.23, 2pm $8 general public/$6 Walker Art members Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave. (next to the sculpture garden)near downtown Minneapolis (612)372-7600 http://www.walkerart.org ---------18 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: War-displaced/play 3.23 3/23-3/25, play "Six Lives," true stories about adults who experienced displacement through war or turmoil in their youth, Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave, Ste 704, Mpls. www.illusiontheater.org --------19 of 22-------- Go Ahead, Hate Them, It's Good for You Hating the Rich By ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ CounterPunch March 20, 2007 "The rich are not like you and me." "The poor will always be with us." Get real and accept it we are told. Give alms and aid to the poor, tax the rich. Establish private foundations, be a responsible trust baby and give. You've heard it all, and maybe even believe it in your heart. But, it's toxic thinking. I have a suggestion for clarifying our consciousness: learn to hate the rich. Hate, yes. You can dress up the language and call it rage. But, hate is a concept underrated. Everyone does it, but no one wants to admit it, usually hating the wrong person. Hate is the opposite of love. Do you love the rich? Like the rich? If not, than maybe you can learn to hate the rich. I don't mean shame the rich in order to get money out of their guilt, as has been a long practice on the left and among non-profits. I mean NOT taking money from the rich, isolate the rich, make them build tall walls around their estates and corporate headquarters as the people force the rich to do in Latin America. How dare they have plate glass windows! We are held back and diminished by the claim that hating is bad for us, bad for everyone. You can hate the act but not hate the person. You can hate wealth or capitalism but not the rich. It's a ridiculous logic that keeps us hating and blaming ourselves for not being rich and powerful. Anyway, it's not consistent; it's all right to hate slavery and slaveowners, fascism and Hitler, etc. Why not hate the rich, the individual rich, not an abstract concept? Ah, but who are the rich? We have to be careful about that, living in a country that does not admit to class relations, and class is subject to little analysis even on the left. It's not a matter of income per se. And it's essential in hating to target the enemy and not some front for the enemy. High income can certainly make a person full of herself, and most US citizens who live on high fixed or hourly incomes due to circumstances of a good trade union or a professional degree have no idea that they aren't rich. In polls they say they are in the top fifth of the income ladder, and they aren't. A majority of US citizens don't want to tax the rich more, because they think they will be rich one day. They won't. The rich own not just a mortgaged house and a car, maybe a boat or a cabin in the woods or a beach house to boot; rather they own you. Even the cash and luxury soaked entertainment and sports stars are not the rich; they certainly deserve contempt and disgust, but not hatred. Don't go for scapegoats - Jews, Oprah, Martha Stewart. Hatred should be reserved for those who own us, that is, those who own the banks, the oil companies, the war industry, the land (for corporate agriculture), the private universities and prep schools, and who own the foundations that dole out worthy projects for the poor, for public institutions - their opera, their ballet, their symphony, that you are allowed to attend after opening night. My oldest brother, who like me grew up dirt poor in rural Oklahoma, landless farmers and farm workers, rebuts my arguments by saying that no poor man ever gave him a job. That says it all. The rich own you and me. In all the arguments about the crimes of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions, rarely is their greatest crime ever discussed - the leveling of class, rich and poor are the same in god's sight. What a handy ideology for the rich! The same with US democracy with its "equal opportunity" and "level playing fields," absurd claims under capitalism, but ones held dear but liberals. Hating the rich means also hating the state, the United States of America that is the ruling corporate body of the rich. Why are we so silent about this, grumping over the increase in the income gap, trying to figure out how to narrow it? What do we expect, that the rich will empower the people to overthrow them as they almost did in response to the labor movement in the 1930s or the Civil Rights Movement with the War on Poverty? Not again will they make that mistake. I'm not saying we shouldn't point to it as evidence of the crimes of the rich, but we should not delude ourselves that the rich will give up their ownership of us. So, we need to stop longing for the return of the New Deal or savior Roosevelt. Passionate, organized hatred is the element missing in all that we do to try to change the world. Now is the time to spread hate, hatred for the rich. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is a longtime activist, university professor, and writer. In addition to numerous scholarly books and articles she has published two historical memoirs, Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie (Verso, 1997), and Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 19601975 (City Lights, 2002). "Red Christmas" is excerpted from her forthcoming book, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, South End Press, October 2005. She can be reached at: rdunbaro [at] pacbell.net --------20 of 22-------- Global Ruling Class: Billionaires and How They "Made It" by James Petras www.dissidentvoice.org March 20, 2007 While the number of the world's billionaires grew from 793 in 2006 to 946 this year, major mass uprisings became commonplace occurrences in China and India. In India, which has the highest number of billionaires (36) in Asia with total wealth of $191 billion USD, Prime Minister Singh declared that the greatest single threat to 'India's security' were the Maoist led guerrilla armies and mass movements in the poorest parts of the country. In China, with 20 billionaires with $29.4 billion USD net worth, the new rulers, confronting nearly a hundred thousand reported riots and protests, have increased the number of armed special anti-riot militia a hundred fold, and increased spending for the rural poor by $10 billion USD in the hopes of lessening the monstrous class inequalities and heading off a mass upheaval. The total wealth of this global ruling class grew 35% year to year topping $3.5 trillion USD, while income levels for the lower 55% of the world's six-billion-strong population declined or stagnated. Put another way, one hundred millionth of the world's population (1/100,000,000) owns more than over three billion people. Over half of the current billionaires (523) came from just three countries: the US (415), Germany (55) and Russia (53). The 35% increase in wealth mostly came from speculation on equity markets, real estate and commodity trading, rather than from technical innovations, investments in job-creating industries or social services. Among the newest, youngest and fastest-growing group of billionaires, the Russian oligarchy stands out for its most rapacious beginnings. Over two-thirds (67%) of the current Russian billionaire oligarchs began their concentration of wealth in their mid to early twenties. During the infamous decade of the 1990's under the quasi-dictatorial rule of Boris Yeltsin and his US-directed economic advisers, Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar the entire Russian economy was put up for sale for a 'political price', which was far below its real value. Without exception, the transfers of property were achieved through gangster tactics - assassinations, massive theft, and seizure of state resources, illicit stock manipulation and buyouts. The future billionaires stripped the Russian state of over a trillion dollars worth of factories, transport, oil, gas, iron, coal and other formerly state-owned resources. Contrary to European and US publicists, on the Right and Left, very few of the top former Communist leaders are found among the current Russian billionaire oligarchy. Secondly, contrary to the spin-masters' claims of 'communist inefficiencies', the former Soviet Union developed mines, factories, energy enterprises were profitable and competitive, before they were taken over by the new oligarchs. This is evident in the massive private wealth that was accumulated in less than a decade by these gangster-businessmen. Virtually all the billionaires' initial sources of wealth had nothing to do with building, innovating or developing new efficient enterprises. Wealth was not transferred to high Communist Party Commissars (lateral transfers) but was seized by armed private mafias run by recent university graduates who quickly capitalized on corrupting, intimidating or assassinating senior officials in the state and benefiting from Boris Yeltsin's mindless contracting of 'free market' Western consultants. Forbes magazine puts out a yearly list of the richest individuals and families in the world. What is most amusing about the famous Forbes magazine's background biographical notes on the Russian oligarchs is the constant reference to their source of wealth as 'self-made' as if stealing state property created by and defended for over 70 years by the sweat and blood of the Russian people was the result of the entrepreneurial skills of thugs in their twenties. Of the top eight Russian billionaire oligarchs, all got their start from strong-arming their rivals, setting up 'paper banks' and taking over aluminum, oil, gas, nickel and steel production and the export of bauxite, iron and other minerals. Every sector of the former Communist economy was pillaged by the new billionaires: Construction, telecommunications, chemicals, real estate, agriculture, vodka, foods, land, media, automobiles, airlines etc. With rare exceptions, following the Yeltsin privatizations all of the oligarchs quickly rose to the top or near the top, literally murdering or intimidating any opponents within the former Soviet apparatus and competitors from rival predator gangs. The key 'policy' measures, which facilitated the initial pillage and takeovers by the future billionaires, were the massive and immediate privatizations of almost all public enterprises by the Gaidar/Chubais team. This 'Shock Treatment' was encouraged by a Harvard team of economic advisers and especially by US President Clinton in order to make the capitalist transformation irreversible. Massive privatization led to the capitalist gang wars and the disarticulation of the Russian economy. As a result there was an 80% decline in living standards, a massive devaluation of the Ruble and the sell-off of invaluable oil, gas and other strategic resources at bargain prices to the rising class of predator billionaires and US-European oil and gas multinational corporations. Over a hundred billion dollars a year was laundered by the mafia oligarchs in the principle banks of New York, London, Switzerland, Israel and elsewhere - funds which would later be recycled in the purchase of expensive real estate in the US, England, Spain, France as well as investments in British football teams, Israeli banks and joint ventures in minerals. The winners of the gang wars during the Yeltsin reign followed up by expanding operations to a variety of new economic sectors, investments in the expansion of existing facilities (especially in real estate, extractive and consumer industries) and overseas. Under President Putin, the gangster-oligarchs consolidated and expanded - from multi-millionaires to billionaires, to multi-billionaires and growing. >From young swaggering thugs and local swindlers, they became the 'respectable' partners of American and European multinational corporations, according to their Western PR agents. The new Russian oligarchs had 'arrived' on the world financial scene, according to the financial press. Yet as President Putin recently pointed out, the new billionaires have failed to invest, innovate and create competitive enterprises, despite optimal conditions. Outside of raw material exports, benefiting from high international prices, few of the oligarch-owned manufacturers are earning foreign exchange, because few can compete in international markets. The reason is that the oligarchs have 'diversified' into stock speculation (Suleiman Kerimov $14.4 billion USD), prostitution (Mikhail Prokhorov $13.5 billion USD), banking (Fridman $12.6 billion USD) and buyouts of mines and mineral processing plants. The Western media has focused on the falling out between a handful of Yeltsin-era oligarchs and President Vladimir Putin and the increase in wealth of a number of Putin-era billionaires. However, the biographical evidence demonstrates that there is no rupture between the rise of the billionaires under Yeltsin and their consolidation and expansion under Putin. The decline in mutual murder and the shift to state-regulated competition is as much a product of the consolidation of the great fortunes as it is the 'new rules of the game' imposed by President Putin. In the mid 19th century, Honor Balzac, surveying the rise of the respectable bourgeois in France, pointed out their dubious origins: "Behind every great fortune is a great crime." The swindles begetting the decades-long ascent of the 19th century French bourgeoisie pale in comparison to the massive pillage and bloodletting that created Russia's 21st century billionaires. Latin America If blood and guns were the instruments for the rise of the Russian billionaire oligarchs, in other regions the Market, or better still, the US-IMF-World Bank orchestrated Washington Consensus was the driving force behind the rise of the Latin American billionaires. The two countries with the greatest concentration of wealth and the greatest number of billionaires in Latin America are Mexico and Brazil (77%), which are the two countries which privatized the most lucrative, efficient and largest public monopolies. Of the total $157.2 billion USD owned by the 38 Latin American billionaires, 30 are Brazilians or Mexicans with $120.3 billion USD. The wealth of 38 families and individuals exceeds that of 250 million Latin Americans; 0.000001% of the population exceeds that of the lowest 50%. In Mexico, the income of 0.000001% of the population exceeds the combined income of 40 million Mexicans. The rise of Latin American billionaires coincides with the real fall in minimum wages, public expenditures in social services, labor legislation and a rise in state repression, weakening labor and peasant organization and collective bargaining. The implementation of regressive taxes burdening the workers and peasants and tax exemptions and subsidies for the agro-mineral exporters contributed to the making of the billionaires. The result has been downward mobility for public employees and workers, the displacement of urban labor into the informal sector, the massive bankruptcy of small farmers, peasants and rural labor and the out-migration from the countryside to the urban slums and emigration abroad. The principal cause of poverty in Latin American is the very conditions that facilitate the growth of billionaires. In the case of Mexico, the privatization of the telecommunication sector at rock bottom prices, resulted in the quadrupling of wealth for Carlos Slim Helu, the third richest man in the world (just behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet) with a net worth of $49 billion USD. Two fellow Mexican billionaires, Alfredo Harp Helu and Roberto Hernandez Ramirez benefited from the privatization of banks and their subsequent de-nationalization, selling Banamex to Citicorp. Privatization, financial de-regulation and de-nationalization were the key operating principles of US foreign economic policies implemented in Latin America by the IMF and the World Bank. These principles dictated the fundamental conditions shaping any loans or debt re-negotiations in Latin America. The billionaires-in-the-making came from old and new money. Some began to raise their fortunes by securing government contracts during the earlier state-led development model (1930's to 1970's) and others through inherited wealth. Half of Mexican billionaires inherited their original multi-million dollar fortunes on their way up to the top. The other half benefited from political ties and the subsequent big payola from buying public enterprises cheap and then selling them off to US multi-nationals at great profit. The great bulk of the 12 million Mexican immigrants who crossed the border into the US have fled from the onerous conditions, which allowed Mexico's traditional and nouveaux riche millionaires to join the global billionaires' club. Brazil has the largest number of billionaires (20) of any country in Latin America with a net worth of $46.2 billion USD, which is greater than the new worth of 80 million urban and rural impoverished Brazilians. Approximately 40% of Brazilian billionaires started with great fortunes - and simply added on - through acquisitions and mergers. The so-called 'self-made' billionaires benefited from the privatization of the lucrative financial sector (the Safra family with $8.9 billion USD) and the iron and steel complexes. How to Become a Billionaire While some knowledge, technical and 'entrepreneurial skills' and market savvy played a small role in the making of the billionaires in Russia and Latin America, far more important was the interface of politics and economics at every stage of wealth accumulation. In most cases there were three stages: 1. During the early 'statist' model of development, the current billionaires successfully 'lobbied' and bribed officials for government contracts, tax exemptions, subsidies and protection from foreign competitors. State handouts were the beachhead or take-off point to billionaire status during the subsequent neo-liberal phase. 2. The neo-liberal period provided the greatest opportunity for seizing lucrative public assets far below their market value and earning capacity. The privatization, although described as 'market transactions', were in reality political sales in four senses: in price, in selection of buyers, in kickbacks to the sellers and in furthering an ideological agenda. Wealth accumulation resulted from the sell-off of banks, minerals, energy resources, telecommunications, power plants and transport and the assumption by the state of private debt. This was the take-off phase from millionaire toward billionaire status. This was consummated in Latin America via corruption and in Russia via assassination and gang warfare. 3. During the third phase (the present) the billionaires have consolidated and expanded their empires through mergers, acquisitions, further privatizations and overseas expansion. Private monopolies of mobile phones, telecoms and other 'public' utilities, plus high commodity prices have added billions to the initial concentrations. Some millionaires became billionaires by selling their recently acquired, lucrative privatized enterprises to foreign capital. In both Latin America and Russia, the billionaires grabbed lucrative state assets under the aegis of orthodox neo-liberal regimes (Salinas-Zedillo regimes in Mexico, Collor-Cardoso in Brazil, Yeltsin in Russia) and consolidated and expanded under the rule of supposedly 'reformist' regimes (Putin in Russia, Lula in Brazil and Fox in Mexico). In the rest of Latin America (Chile, Colombia and Argentina) the making of the billionaires resulted from the bloody military coups and regimes, which destroyed the socio-political movements and started the privatization process. This process was then even more energetically promoted by the subsequent electoral regimes of the right and 'center-left.' What is repeatedly demonstrated in both Russia and Latin America is that the key factor leading to the quantum leap in wealth - from millionaires to billionaires - was the vast privatization and subsequent de-nationalization of lucrative public enterprises. If we add to the concentration of $157 billion in the hands of an infinitesimal fraction of the elite, the $990 billion USD taken out by the foreign banks in debt payments and the $1 trillion USD (one thousand billion) taken out by way of profits, royalties, rents and laundered money over the past decade and a half, we have an adequate framework for understanding why Latin America continues to have over two-thirds of its population with inadequate living standards and stagnant economies. The responsibility of the US for the growth of Latin American billionaires and mass poverty is several-fold and involves a wide gamut of political institutions, business elites, and academic and media moguls. First and foremost the US backed the military dictators and neo-liberal politicians who set up the billionaire-oriented economic models. It was ex-President Clinton, the CIA and his economic advisers, in alliance with the Russian oligarchs, who provided the political intelligence and material support to put Yeltsin in power and back his destruction of the Russian Parliament (Duma) in 1993 and the rigged elections of 1996. And it was Washington, which allowed hundreds of billions of dollars to be laundered in US banks throughout the 1990's as the US Congressional Sub-Committee on Banking (1998) revealed. It was Nixon, Kissinger and later Carter and Brzezinski, Reagan and Bush, Clinton and Albright who backed the privatizations pushed by Latin American military dictators and civilian reactionaries in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Their instructions to the US representatives in the IMF and the World Bank were writ large: Privatize, de-regulate and de-nationalize (PDD) before any loans should be negotiated. It was US academics and ideologues working hand in glove with the so-called multi-lateral agencies, as contracted economic consultants, who trained, designed and pushed the PDD agenda among their former Ivy League students-turned-economic and finance ministers and Central Bankers in Latin America and Russia. It was US and EU multi-national corporations and banks which bought out or went into joint ventures with the emerging Latin American billionaires and who reaped the trillion dollar payouts on the debts incurred by the corrupt military and civilian regimes. The billionaires are as much a product and/or by-product of US anti-nationalist, anti-communist policies as they are a product of their own grandiose theft of public enterprises. Conclusion Given the enormous class and income disparities in Russia, Latin America and China (20 Chinese billionaires have a net worth of $29.4 billion USD in less than ten years), it is more accurate to describe these countries as 'surging billionaires' rather than 'emerging markets' because it is not the 'free market' but the political power of the billionaires that dictates policy. Countries of 'surging billionaires' produce burgeoning poverty, submerging living standards. The making of billionaires means the unmaking of civil society - the weakening of social solidarity, protective social legislation, pensions, vacations, public health programs and education. While politics is central, past political labels mean nothing. Ex-Marxist Brazilian ex-President Cardoso and ex-trade union leader President Lula Da Silva privatized public enterprises and promoted policies that spawn billionaires. Ex-Communist Putin cultivates certain billionaire oligarchs and offers incentives to others to shape up and invest. The period of greatest decline in living standards in Latin America and Russia coincide with the dismantling of the nationalist populist and communist economies. Between 1980-2004, Latin America - more precisely Brazil, Argentina and Mexico - stagnated at 0% to 1% per capita growth. Russia saw a 50% decline in GNP between 1990-1996 and living standards dropped 80% for everyone except the predators and their gangster entourage. Recent growth (2003-2007), where it occurs, has more to do with the extraordinary rise in international prices (of energy resources, metals and agro-exports) than any positive developments from the billionaire-dominated economies. The growth of billionaires is hardly a sign of 'general prosperity' resulting from the 'free market' as the editors of Forbes Magazine claim. In fact it is the product of the illicit seizure of lucrative public resources, built up by the work and struggle of millions of workers, in Russia and China under Communism and in Latin America during populist-nationalist and democratic-socialist governments. Many billionaires have inherited wealth and used their political ties to expand and extend their empires - it has little to do with entrepreneurial skills. The billionaires' and the White House's anger and hostility toward President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is precisely because he is reversing the policies which create billionaires and mass poverty: He is re-nationalizing energy resources, public utilities and expropriating some large landed estates. Chavez is not only challenging US hegemony in Latin America but also the entire PDD edifice that built the economic empires of the billionaires in Latin America, Russia, China and elsewhere. Note: The primary data for this essay is drawn from Forbes Magazine's "List of the World's Billionaires," published March 8, 2007. James Petras' latest book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). His articles in English can be found at the website www.petras.lahaine.org, and in Spanish at www.rebellion.org. He can be reached at: jpetras [at] binghamton.edu. -------21 of 22-------- [Hillary is the manipulating war-monger the rich and their indentured servants the Dems are most likely to foist upon us. She is a lesser evil? The Dem party is a lesser evil? Both corporate parties are tools of the rich, described in the previous two articles. -ed] Our Bleach-Blond Thatcher? Hillary's Cojones By SHARON SMITH CounterPunch March 20, 2007 In recent weeks, Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy appears increasingly centered on proving she has the cojones to ruthlessly pursue U.S. imperial interests the world over. With Barack Obama nipping at her polling numbers by invoking his opposition to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Clinton steadfastly refuses to pander to the antiwar movement by admitting she made a mistake in voting to authorize the war in 2002. These days, Clinton misses no opportunity to demonstrate her own combative stance on foreign affairs, whatever the subject under discussion. After pledging to work toward energy independence at a March 18 mid-Manhattan fundraiser, Clinton told an audience laden with Wall St. financiers that each time she switches off a light bulb in her own home, she mutters, "'Take that, Iran,' and 'Take that, Venezuela.' We should not be sending our money to people who are not going to support our values." And Clinton has made clear she has no intention of ending the occupation of Iraq if elected president. In an interview published by the New York Times on March 15, she was explicit on this issue - sounding remarkably like, well, George Bush. A complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could turn it into "a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda," she said, adding, "It is right in the heart of the oil region. It is directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to Israel's interests." Clinton would downsize the U.S. troop presence, pulling them out of urban combat to minimize U.S. casualties while preserving enough troops "for our antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for, for the Iraqis." As the Times reported, "Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence - even if it descended into ethnic cleansing." Indeed, Clinton responded coldly to the prospect of such a mass sectarian bloodletting: "This is an Iraqi problem; we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves." Clinton's candid Times interview seems to place her well to the right of other Congressional Democrats, currently absorbed in an apparently principled fight to pass antiwar legislation through the House and Senate. On March 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked, "The administration's answer to continuing violence in Iraq is more troops and more treasure from the American people." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated defiantly that Bush "must change course, and it's time for the Senate to demand he do it." But behind the scenes, Democratic Party Congressional leaders were maneuvering frantically to avoid conflict with the Bush administration's war aims. On March 13, Democrats announced plans to remove a requirement that Bush gain Congressional approval before taking military action against Iran in its military spending bill. Democrats, not Republicans, stymied the Iran proposal during a meeting held behind closed doors, objecting to possible opposition from Israel. As Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley explained, "It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran." The spending bill to be debated in the House this week includes nearly $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-more than Bush requested. Its antiwar provisions require most U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn by August 31, 2008. But the President "may waive" these requirements for reasons of "national security," according to the now toothless legislation. In concrete terms, three months after establishing a majority in Congress, the Democrats have little to show for themselves. The House managed to pass a single non-binding resolution against Bush's troop surge on February 16, while the Senate failed even to accomplish that much. This is hardly what the antiwar majority has in mind. Rhetoric aside, how much political distance separates Hillary Clinton from her more impassioned Congressional counterparts? Less than it might appear. The notion of withdrawing most combat troops is less dramatic than it seems. Although the House resolution currently up for debate calls for removing most combat troops from Iraq by September 2008 (presidential waivers aside), it also acknowledges the need to maintain the presence of a "limited" number of U.S. soldiers for purposes including "targeted counterterrorism operations." Obama has admitted that he, too, might decide to retain some U.S. troops in Iraq as president. No major Democratic Party presidential candidate has so far called for a complete U.S. troop withdrawal, and with good reason: the party's powerbrokers aim to salvage, not renounce, U.S. war aims in Iraq. As the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) notes on its website, "A rapid and complete withdrawal from Iraq isn't really a Plan B: it's a 'Plan Zero' for liquidating the whole Iraq engagement as hopeless." The Times noted that Clinton's plan is not a new one - and has already been advocated by Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon's comptroller under Rumsfeld, who estimated that roughly 75,000 "non-combat" troops would be required to fulfill this limited set of strategic U.S. aims in Iraq. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are biding time in Iraq, in the hopes of consolidating a long-term U.S. military presence there - while leaving open the option of attacking Iran as a bargaining chip. Clinton stated recently, "No option can be taken off the table" against Iran's alleged nuclear threat, while presidential rivals John Edwards and Obama echoed, "All options on the table." The aim of a continued military presence in Iraq is a given for both Democrats and Republicans. Rarely has the U.S. fought a major war without leaving permanent military bases behind. No longer referred to as "permanent bases" in Iraq, the Pentagon has successively described U.S. military bases as "Enduring Bases" and then as "Contingency Operating Bases" since February 2005. The purpose remains the same. As a former Pentagon official told the New York Times, Clinton's Iraq plan, by minimizing U.S. troop casualties, would make it politically possible to sustain a long-term military presence in the Middle East Region. Only a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq can end the occupation - and prevent a region-wide Middle East war. Don't count on the Democrats to make it happen, rhetoric aside. Sharon Smith is the author of Women and Socialism and Subterranean Fire: a History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States. She can be reached at: sharon [at] internationalsocialist.org --------22 of 22-------- Bumper sticker: Recruiters - pimps for death ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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