Progressive Calendar 03.21.07
From: David Shove (
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]>
Subject: Neo-assimilation 3.22 12noon

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

Questions/directions/disability accommodations/parking options call IHRC
at 612-625-4800 or visit our Web site at <>

Immigration History Research Center Suite 311 Elmer L. Andersen Library
222-21st Avenue South Minneapolis MN 55455 Visit our Web site at Sign up for free IHRC updates at

[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]>
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]>
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]
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]

--------5 of 22--------

From: Welfare Rights Committee - Alt Email <welfarerights [at]>
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

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]

--------6 of 22--------

From: awcmere <meredith [at]>
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

--------7 of 22-------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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]>
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 ) 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]>

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]>
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

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] or by phone 612-379-5745.
For more info:

--------10 of 22--------

From: margaret <hope4peace22000 [at]>
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]>
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:

--------12 of 22--------

From: Brian Payne <brianpayneyvp [at]>
Subject: Immokalee workers 3.23 12:15pm

Brian Payne, brianpayneyvp [at], 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]

 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]

For more info on the national movement, see: or

Fair food that respects human rights,
not fast food that exploits human beings.

--------13 of 22--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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] or 218-969-6144.

--------14 of 22--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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]

--------15 of 22--------

From: bkucera [at]
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]>
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]>
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

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

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

---------18 of 22--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
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.

--------19 of 22--------

Go Ahead, Hate Them, It's Good for You
Hating the Rich
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]

--------20 of 22--------

Global Ruling Class: Billionaires and How They "Made It"
by James Petras
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

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

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

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

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.


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.


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

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

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, and in Spanish at He can be
reached at: jpetras [at]

-------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
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

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

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]

--------22 of 22--------

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