|Progressive Calendar 03.24.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 20:30:06 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.24.07 1. Socialism USA/CTV 3.24 9pm 2. Welfare rights 3.26 8am 3. Child soldiers 3.26 12noon 4. RNC pox 3.26 1pm 5. RNC/Thune 3.26 7pm 6. Climate crisis 3.26 7:30pm 7. Roediger/race 3.27 9:45am 8. CCHT annual meet 3.27 5pm 9. Immigration 3.27 6:30pm 10. HPV vaccine 3.27 7pm 11. Ground truth/f 3.27 7pm 12. Cindy Sheehan - No taxation without representation 13. Rep Ron Paul - The war funding bill 14. Dave Lindorff - The gutless mini-politics of the congressional Dems 15. Naomi Klein - Class war in Conrad's court 16. Alan Mammoser - The new rules of food 17. Roger Burbach - Leftist victory in Ecuador --------1 of 17-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Socialism USA/CTV 3.24 9pm Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts weekly in Minneapolis on MTN! Households with basic cable can watch. MTN cablecasts are on Channel 17 Saturdays at 9 pm and the following Tuesday at 8 am. Below are the scheduled shows through April 14: Sat, 3/24, 9 pm "Socialism USA". Interview of CPUSA members Harry McAllister and Michael Wood. Hosted by Eric Angell. Sat, 3/31, 9 pm "Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic: An Evening with Norman Finkelstein". Part 1 of a talk given 11/5 in Mpls. Sat, 4/7, 9 pm "Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic: An Evening with Norman Finkelstein". Part 2 of a talk given 11/5 in Mpls. Sat, 4/14, 9 pm "Social Justice for Life". Interview of long time justice and peace activist Polly Mann. Co-hosted by Eric Angell and Karen Redleaf. -- Dear St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts at 5 pm and midnight each Tuesday and 10 am each Wednesday in St. Paul. All households with basic cable can watch. 3/27 and 3/28 "Re-framing The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" Interview of Jeff Halper, Israeli with MN roots, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. 4/3 and 4/4 "Challenging the Profit System" Interview of Ty Moore, national organizer of Socialist Alternative. Co-hosted by Eric Angell and Karen Redleaf. 4/10 and 4/11 "Cindy Sheehan" Talk by Cindy Sheehan given in Mpls 1/30. Introduction by Becky Lourey. (Apologies for tape issues) "Our World In Depth" features analysis of public affairs with consideration of and participation from Twin Cities area activists. The show is mostly local and not corporately influenced! For information about future programing of "Our World In Depth", please send an e-mail to eric-angell [at] riseup.net. (PS It might be better than PBS.) --------2 of 17-[------- From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Welfare rights 3.26 8am Support the Welfare Rights Committee: HF 605 Monday March 26, 8:00 a.m. Minnesota State Capitol, Room 200, 75 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, St. Paul. HF605 would undo the biggest welfare cuts in history. These cuts 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. Sponsored by: WRC. FFI: Call WRC, 612-822-8020. --------3 of 17-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Child soldiers 3.26 12noon Monday, 3/26, noon to 1 pm, MN Advocates for Human Rights' Jennifer Prestholdt and American Refugee Committee's Pham Thi Hoa speak on "Child Soldiers: Who is Fighting Our Wars?," Faegre & Benson LLP, The Century Room, 2200 Wells Fargo Center, 90 S 7th St, Mpls. RSVP by 3/22 to Julia Kashaeva at jkashaeva [at] mnadvocates.org or 612-341-3302 ext. 127. (RSVP gets you free lunch.) --------4 of 17-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: RNC pox 3.26 1pm [ed head] Monday, 3/26, 1 to 3 pm (potluck at noon), RNC Welcoming Committee meeting, Jack Pine Community Center, 2815 E Lake St, Mpls. www.rncwelcomingcommittee.org --------5 of 17-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: RNC/Thune 3.26 7pm Monday, 3/26, 7 to 8 pm, St Paul Councilmember Dave Thune hosts a public forum on the 2008 Republican National Convention, West 7th Community Center, 265 Oneida St, St Paul. (Come see how big your "free speech zones" will be.) --------6 of 17-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Climate crisis 3.26 7:30pm Regular meeting of the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities (3CTC). EVERY 2nd and 4th Monday at 7:30 pm. The Freight House Dunn Brothers, 201 3rd Ave S, next door to the Milwaukee Road Depot, Downtown Minneapolis. Stop global warming, save Earth! --Eric 651-644-1173 --------7 of 17-------- From: Stephen Feinstein <feins001 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Roediger/race 3.27 9:45am Mar. 27 - Dave Roediger, University of Illinois, "Looking at 'The House I Live In': Race, the New Immigrant and the Popular Front", 9:45-11 am, 120 Andersen Library --------8 of 17-------- From: Jeff Smith <jeff [at] backstairsdown.com> Subject: CCHT annual meeting 3.27 5pm The CCHT annual dinner is at Bethlehem church on March 27th. It is free, and there are a lot of neighbors who will be there. From all strata. I find it to be an amazing happening. It makes me proud to be in Elliot Park. Please join Central Community Housing Trust as we gather to celebrate the past year and build for the future. Tuesday, March 27, 2007 5:00 p.m. Social gathering and registration 5:30 p.m. Dinner and program 7:00 p.m. Business meeting, new community and resident board members announced. (Proposed bylaw changes will be discussed at the meeting) The event is free to attend. Location: The Community Room at Bethlehem Baptist 720 Thirteenth Ave. So., Minneapolis (enter parking lot on 7th or 8th Street) Free childcare is available Please RSVP by calling 612-341-3148, ext. 210 or click here to register on line. CCHT.org is the web site. Jeffrey G. Smith, Photographer 1605 Park Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55404-1652 612.333.6926 cel: 612.865.8973 jeff [at] backstairsdown.com --------9 of 17-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Immigration 3.27 6:30pm Pioneer Press reporter to give talk on immigration by Aaron Smith On Tuesday, March 27, the Sisters of St. Joseph and Consociates Justice Commission features a talk on immigration with Ruben Rosario, reporter for the Pioneer Press. Rosario will discuss his work that brings the stories of immigrant people and the challenges they face to the community at large. The event is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Carondelet Center, 1890 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul; it is free and open to the public. For more information call 651/690-7054 or visit www.csjstpaul.org. --------10 of 17-------- From: matsonem [at] aol.com Subject: HPV vaccine 3.27 7pm What Should We Do About The HPV Vaccine? An open dialogue with Rep. Phyllis Kahn. Hosted by Uptown NOW. Open to all members of the public. Dunn Bros. Coffee at 3348 Hennepin Ave. S, Minneapolis. Tuesday, March 27. 7 p.m. Erin Matson Minnesota NOW (612) 730-5108 cell (651) 222-1605 NOW office www.mnnow.org -------11 of 17-------- From: Florence Steichen <steichenfm [at] usfamily.net> Subject: Ground truth/film 3.27 7pm Join Merriam Park and Crocus Hill/West 7th Neighbors for Peace at a screening of the widely acclaimed film, The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends. Tuesday, March 27, 2007 7:00 p.m. Hamline Midway Library 1558 West Minnehaha Avenue, St. Paul The Ground Truth takes an unflinching look at the training and dehumanization of U.S. soldiers and how they struggle to come to terms with it when they come back home. This film overrides familiar images of heroic soldiers in battle, and overjoyed returning faces, reunited with their families with one effortless stroke. Instead, we see a scenario that can include illness, amputation and injury, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), of which Iraq has become a fertile breeding ground. While America's poor treatment of veterans is not news to most, The Ground Truth makes it so personal and real that it is impossible to dismiss its characters simply as war statistics. The film is 72 minutes, followed by a short discussion and refreshments. Free, but donations accepted. Sponsors: Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace; Crocus Hill/West 7th Neighbors for Peace --------12 of 17-------- No Taxation Without Representation by Cindy Sheehan Published on Friday, March 23, 2007 by CommonDreams.org I have about had it! The Bush Criminal Mob is asking Congress for $123 billion more dollars to fund their total demolition of Iraq and their future crime sprees in such places as Iran and perhaps, Syria. Despite the notable and courageous actions of such Congress Reps as Barbara Lee (D-Ca), Lynn Woolsey (D-Ca), Maxine Waters (D-Ca), Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh) and John Lewis (D-Ga ), it looks like the supplemental bill is going to sail through Congress with the backing of the Dem leadership who blocked the adding of any amendments reining in Bloody George to the supplemental funding. The ungodly evil rhetoric of "supporting the troops" to defend their support of this new pile of blood money is immoral and insupportable - especially considering the fact that our VA hospitals are falling apart and returning Vets are committing suicide because they can't get the help they need to throw some water on the fire of their PTSD. And we know that Congress, better than anybody, knows who really gets these billions of dollars, because some of that money trickles down into many of their own pockets: the War Machine. Besides the stranglehold that the War Machine has on our government and our lives, the weasly Dem leadership is using the flesh of our flesh as political pawns in their high-stakes game of presidential politics. The Dems are frightened by the fact that if they bravely bring our troops out of the mess that they are mired in, thereby "losing" the war in Iraq, that the Dems will lose the presidency in 2008. There is so many things wrong with that stinkin' thinkin'. First of all, there is not one hair breadth of difference between a Republican and someone who votes, talks, and acts like a Republican. Secondly, our troops should be treated like they are human beings, with tender loving care knowing that each and every one of them is precious to somebody. They should not be used as cold political calculations. The last two reasons are obvious and I know that they Dem leadership is as aware of these reasons as I am: the occupation of Iraq was lost as soon as the first tank rolled over the border and the first smart bomb was dropped on innocent people in Baghdad. It was fated to be a monumental failure because its foundation was feebly pasted together on lies, deception and greed and citizens of a country have more at stake to overcome occupiers and in the whole history of this planet an occupation has never been successful and always profoundly weakens the imperial occupiers. If the Dems would step out and lead out of their humanity and not with their greed for money/power like the Bush Mob, then there would be a landslide in 2008 and we Americans could revel in authentic and reasonable leaders, not mourn another administration of craven cowards. This supplemental funding bill will pass, and I believe that giving George Bush a blank check for more killing is reprehensible and I refuse to support these crimes against humanity with my own funds. I urge every American with a heart, compassion, and a sense for justice and a return to moral based leadership to join me in withholding our money from this murderous and callous government. Give your money to peace or justice groups instead. Give your money to homeless shelters; grass-roots Katrina recovery efforts; create a "Peace Scholarship" at your local college to reward a young person who doesn't want to join the military to pay for college; give to Veteran's groups who are advocating for better care for our veterans or a group like IVAW which is a group of returning vets who are actively trying to stop the war; give to War Resisters to support legal aid for our active duty soldiers who refuse to go to war; give to Camp Casey; give to your local peace group. I am sure there are thousands of places to put our money besides the pockets of the Military Industrial Complex. So many people and groups have been damaged because of our war economy. A lot of good could be done with our tax dollars instead of funding continued killing. Our elected officials have failed us miserably. We elected them to oppose George and his war, not support him. We are not being represented properly and I, for one, refuse to be taxed by them. Think about it. Reflect. Google: "War Tax Resistance" for tons of good information. Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed in Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute. --------13 of 17-------- Congress Must Admit Its Mistake and Repeal the Authorization to Go to War The War Funding Bill By Rep. RON PAUL CounterPunch March 23, 2007 The $124 billion supplemental appropriation is a good bill to oppose. I am pleased that many of my colleagues will join me in voting against this measure. If one is unhappy with our progress in Iraq after four years of war, voting to de-fund the war makes sense. If one is unhappy with the manner in which we went to war, without a constitutional declaration, voting no makes equally good sense. Voting no also makes the legitimate point that the Constitution does not authorize Congress to direct the management of any military operation - the president clearly enjoys this authority as Commander in Chief. But Congress just as clearly is responsible for making policy, by debating and declaring war, raising and equipping armies, funding military operations, and ending conflicts that do not serve our national interests. Congress failed to meet its responsibilities four years ago, unconstitutionally transferring its explicit war power to the executive branch. Even though the administration started the subsequent pre-emptive war in Iraq, Congress bears the greatest responsibility for its lack of courage in fulfilling its duties. Since then Congress has obediently provided the funds and troops required to pursue this illegitimate war. We won't solve the problems in Iraq until we confront our failed policy of foreign interventionism. This latest appropriation does nothing to solve our dilemma. Micromanaging the war while continuing to fund it won't help our troops. Here's a new approach: Congress should admit its mistake and repeal the authority wrongfully given to the executive branch in 2002. Repeal the congressional sanction and disavow presidential discretion in starting wars. Then start bringing our troops home. If anyone charges that this approach does not support the troops, take a poll. Find out how reservists, guardsmen, and their families - many on their second or third tour in Iraq - feel about it. The constant refrain that bringing our troops home would demonstrate a lack of support for them must be one of the most amazing distortions ever foisted on the American public. We're so concerned about saving face, but whose face are we saving? A sensible policy would save American lives and follow the rules laid out for Congress in the Constitution - and avoid wars that have no purpose. The claim that it's unpatriotic to oppose spending more money in Iraq must be laid to rest as fraudulent. We should pass a resolution that expresses congressional opposition to any more undeclared, unconstitutional, unnecessary, pre-emptive wars. We should be building a consensus for the future that makes it easier to end our current troubles in Iraq. It's amazing to me that this Congress is more intimidated by political propagandists and special interests than the American electorate, who sent a loud, clear message about the war in November. The large majority of Americans now want us out of Iraq. Our leaders cannot grasp the tragic consequence of our policies toward Iraq for the past 25 years. It's time we woke them up. We are still by far the greatest military power on earth. But since we stubbornly refuse to understand the nature of our foes, we are literally defeating ourselves. In 2004, bin Laden stated that Al Qaeda's goal was to bankrupt the United States. His second in command, Zawahari, is quoted as saying that the 9/11 attack would cause Americans to, "come and fight the war personally on our sand where they are within rifle range." Sadly, we are playing into their hands. This $124 billion appropriation is only part of the nearly $1 trillion in military spending for this year's budget alone. We should be concerned about the coming bankruptcy and the crisis facing the U.S. dollar. We have totally failed to adapt to modern warfare. We're dealing with a small, nearly invisible enemy - an enemy without a country, a government, an army, a navy, an air force, or missiles. Yet our enemy is armed with suicidal determination, and motivated by our meddling in their regional affairs, to destroy us. And as we bleed financially, our men and women in Iraq die needlessly while the injured swell Walter Reed hospital. Our government systematically undermines the Constitution and the liberties it's supposed to protect - for which it is claimed our soldiers are dying in faraway places. Only with the complicity of Congress have we become a nation of pre-emptive war, secret military tribunals, torture, rejection of habeas corpus, warrantless searches, undue government secrecy, extraordinary renditions, and uncontrollable spying on the American people. The greatest danger we face is ourselves: what we are doing in the name of providing security for a people made fearful by distortions of facts. Fighting over there has nothing to do with preserving freedoms here at home. More likely the opposite is true. Surely we can do better than this supplemental authorization. I plan to vote no. Ron Paul is a Republican congressman from Texas. --------14 of 17-------- This Joke's on Us The Gutless Mini-Politics of the Congressional Democrats By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch March 23, 2007 Despite polls showing that 6 in 10 Americans want the U.S. out of Iraq asap, the best that this crew can come up with is a call - not binding, of course - for the president to pull out the troops by next spring or even summer. That would be over a year from now, and more than five years (!) into this criminal and incredibly stupid war. At the rate things have been going, it would also be perhaps 1000 more dead Americans, 14,000 more gravely wounded Americans, and 100-150,000 more dead Iraqis later. And in offering this limp request, Congress is in the process of approving the appropriation of another $122 million in spending on the War in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan. This is action? They could be blocking that funding altogether, and shutting the damned war down. Why can't Democrats, who were put in their position of power in Congress by the voters, at least show the courage and principle of Republican Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex), who is opposing the funding and says, "It's amazing to me that this Congress is more intimidated by political propagandists and special interests than the American electorate, who sent a loud, clear message about the war in November." And those subpoenas. Congress is boldly demanding the appearance of Bush's Rasputin Karl Rove and his ousted legal adviser Harriet Meirs. Fine as far as it goes, but what about the clear evidence at the Libby trial that his regent, Dick Cheney, orchestrated a smear campaign against administration critic Joe Wilson and his CIA wife Valerie Plame, obstructed the Justice Department investigation into that effort, and lied about what he had done? Shouldn't there be subpoenas issued to the Veep himself and all of his staff? What about the evidence at that same trial that the president himself was in on the cover-up and obstruction of justice conspiracy? Shouldn't there be subpoenas of staff to pin that down, and a letter of interrogatories to the president himself? While they're at it, shouldn't this 110th Congress that the people elected last fall in an effort to clean out the Augean stables of the Bush White House and to end the war be initiating an impeachment of the president, at least on his admitted felonious violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Law? After all, a federal judge already tried that case and determined that the president is a felon. That's an easy case to impeach on. They could also be revoking the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. That's the resolution Congress passed on September 18, 2001, which the president has ever since been claiming makes him a dictator - that is commander in chief in a borderless, endless "war" on terror-not beholden to the Constitution, and free to ignore or invalidate acts of Congress at will. It's an astonishing abuse of power, exactly what the Founding Fathers feared could happen, and yet Congress is doing exactly nothing about it. There's no need for the 2001 AUMF. We're not at war in Afghanistan anymore, after all. There is a new, elected government there, and it has invited in NATO to help it fight a resurgent Taliban. We're just there as part of NATO, and so hardly need a special AUMF - especially one that can be falsely construed as an authorization to be a dictator. So why isn't Congress revoking the damned thing? The could revoke the 2002 AUMF too. Bush misued that one as an authorization to go to war against Iraq, since it actually required him to go to the UN for authorization - something he never bothered to do. In any event, we're not at war in Iraq either, as much as it might look like we are. The war in Iraq is over folks. We're not even occupiers there any more. Remember, we handed sovereignty over to the Iraqis in 2004! There's an elected government in Iraq - an independent government - and we're there at their invitation to help them with an insurrection problem. That's not a war, any more than it's a war in Columbia, where we've also sent troops at the Columbian government's request. So why doesn't Congress revoke the AUMF? It would be a good idea, because Bush is liable to misuse it further and claim it gives him the right to attack Iran at will. He's said as much. Again, listen to Republican Ron Paul, who says, "Congress should admit its mistake and repeal the authority wrongfully given to the executive branch in 2002. Repeal the congressional sanction and disavow presidential discretion in starting wars. Then start bringing our troops home. If anyone charges that this approach does not support the troops, take a poll. Find out how reservists, guardsmen, and their families - many on their second or third tour in Iraq - feel about it. The constant refrain that bringing our troops home would demonstrate a lack of support for them must be one of the most amazing distortions ever foisted on the American public." (Of course, Rep. Paul has his own issues when it comes to guts. He has publicly stated that the president has committed impeachable crimes, and yet he has shied away from doing the obvious, and appropriate, thing: submitting a bill of impeachment. If he does do it, it would be the ultimate shaming of Democrats in the House.) I'm fed up with the gutless mini-politics of this Congress. Who gives a damn whether they've passed a minimum wage bill? It'll never get past Bush anyhow. Neither will anything else of consequence that this Congress passes. Unless they don't start challenging the Bush administration directly and forcefully, Congressional Democrats aren't going to do bupkis in two years and people are going to start wondering why they were voted in in the first place. People might even start to think seriously about letting the Democratic Party just wither away. Wouldn't make much of a difference without it, really, and we might even come up with something better. It wouldn't be too hard to do. Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment", co-authored by Barbara Olshansky. He can be reached at: dlindorff [at] yahoo.com --------15 of 17-------- Class War in Conrad's Court by Naomi Klein Published on Friday, March 23, 2007 by The Nation During the jury selection process at the Conrad Black fraud trial in Chicago, the judge polled potential jurors on their impressions of Black's home, Canada. "Socialist country," one replied. According to press accounts, Black, once the third-most-powerful press baron in the world, turned to his wife, Barbara Amiel, and they shared a smile. At last, a juror after their own hearts . the couple had been redbaiting Canadians for years. The Black trial is an odd beast: A Canadian who gave up his citizenship to be a British Lord is on trial in the United States for allegedly pocketing tens of millions that belonged to the shareholders of Chicago-based Hollinger International. Every twist is front-page international news, but most Americans have no idea who Black is. In his opening remarks, Black's lawyer Edward Genson assured the jury, "In his native Canada and England, he's a household name." It makes sense that Lord Black is a nobody in Chicago. Black never needed to bother with politics in the United States . as far as he was concerned, the country was close to perfect. It was the rest of the English-speaking world that required Black's bombastic ideological lectures. Delivering those was his life's mission. Black is the world's leading advocate of the "Anglosphere," a movement calling for the creation of a bloc of Englishspeaking countries. Adherents claim that the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand must join together against the Muslim world and anyone else who poses a threat. For Black, the United States is not just the obvious leader of the Anglosphere but the economic and military model that all Anglo countries should emulate, as opposed to the soft European Union. Although the consolidation of the Anglosphere as a political bloc receives far less scrutiny than US military interventions, it has been a crucial plank of Washington's imperial projects. The movement recently gained some notoriety when it emerged that on February 28, the White House had hosted a "literary luncheon" for George W. Bush's and Dick Cheney's new favorite writer, ultraright British historian Andrew Roberts, author of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, an Anglosphere manifesto. But it is Black who has been the linchpin of Anglosphere campaigns for two decades, using his British and Canadian newspapers to reach out and collectively hug his beloved United States. In Britain this took the form of using the Daily Telegraph as a beachhead against "euro-integrationism" and insisting that Britain's future lies not with the EU but with Washington. This vision reaches its zenith, of course, with the Bush-Blair team-up in Iraq. In Canada, where Black controlled roughly half the daily newspapers, the push to Americanize was even more strident. When Black founded the daily National Post in 1998, it was with the explicit goal of weaning Canadians from our social safety net (a "hammock") and forming a new party of the "united right" to unseat the governing Liberals. So, if Black was going to get a sympathetic jury anywhere, it should have been in the United States, where regular people worship the wealthy because they are convinced they could be the next to strike it rich (unlike those envious, over-taxed and -regulated Europeans and Canadians). Perhaps in 2000, at the height of the stock market bubble, Black would have faced a jury made up of such supportive folks, ones who would have looked at his uncanny ability to divert Hollinger profits into his own accounts and said, "More power to you." But in 2007 Black came face to face with the casualties of the boom's collapse and of the ideological revolution he so aggressively globalized. As the judge questioned a pool of 140 prospective jurors in order to whittle the group down to twelve, plus eight alternates, she found men and women who had "lost every dime" in the WorldCom collapse, whose pensions had evaporated on the stock market, who had been fired thanks to outsourcing and who'd had their finances ravaged by identity theft. Asked what they thought of executives who earn tens of millions of dollars, jurors answered almost uniformly in the negative. "Who could possibly do that much work or be that much capable?" one asked. A union mechanic's apprentice pointed out that no matter how much he works, "I'm barely getting by as it is, living at home." No one said "more power toyou." Many appeared to regard North America's ultrarich the way Russians see their oligarchs . even if the way they amassed their fortunes was legal, it shouldn't have been. "I just don't think anyone should get that amount of money from any company, example Enron and WorldCom," one juror wrote. Others said, "I feel that there is corruption everywhere"; anyone paid as much as Black "probably stole it"; "I am sure this goes on all the time and I hope they get caught." John Tien, a 40-year-old accountant at Boeing, launched into such an elaborate lecture about the accounting scams endemic in corporate America that Black's lawyers asked the judge to question him in private, to prevent his views from influencing the other potential jurors. Regardless of what else happens in the Black saga, the jury-selection process has already provided an extraordinary window onto the way regular Americans, randomly selected, view their elites . not as heroes but as thieves. As far as Black is concerned, this is all terribly unfair . he is being "thrown to the mobs" because of rage at the system and, unlike American billionaires, he doesn't "dress in corduroy trousers" or donate his fortune to AIDS charities. Black's lawyers even argued (unsuccessfully) that their client could not get a fair trial because the average Chicagoan "does not reside in more than one residence, employ servants or a chauffeur, enjoy lavish furniture, or host expensive parties." [Incredible unconscious satire. -ed] There is no doubt that what is going on in that courtroom looks less like a fraud trial than class war, one at the heart of the Anglosphere. Even if Black wins, it will be harder to sell the world an ideological model that is so deeply reviled at home. Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Picador) and, most recently, Fences and Windows: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (Picador). Copyright 2007 The Nation --------16 of 17-------- Doing Good by Eating Well? The New Rules of Food By ALAN MAMMOSER CounterPunch March 23, 2007 What if you knew the story behind everything you ate, such as where the food came from, who grew it and how? Imagine the landscape from which it came, perhaps a thriving collection of family farms. What if you knew the people that grew the food, knew that they got a fair price for it and that they actively worked to protect the landscape? How differently would we eat if we got to know our food better? Basic knowledge of where food comes from and how it is produced is lost on many Americans today and with it a trust in the food supply that sustains us. With the rise of a highly industrialized society, an industrial farming system has developed along with it. Farms have become ever more mechanized, specialized and distant from most of the population. The federal government has contributed to the trend through legislation, with consecutive farm bills that favor big concentrated commodity growers - sometimes known as "factory farms" - while nearly ignoring local growers with smaller operations, sometimes collectively called "family farmers." Now, when you walk into your local grocery, you see shelves chock full of all the marvels of our food system, with colorful packaging and displays. But do you know where it comes from? Do you trust it? In most cases, there is no information beyond the basic government approvals ad ingredient lists. But for a growing number of people, particularly in the age of food safety scares, the lack of information is unacceptable. Many Americans want to get to know their food, and the story behind it, better. A new food movement is growing out of these concerns. Concerned citizens, farmers and others are starting to work on a new set of rules for the food system. These rules or standards would ensure sufficient incomes for family farmers, fair treatment of farm workers, proper care of farm animals and conservation of the environment. While some are working on the specific rules, others are figuring out how to communicate about the issue and efforts to others. They're devising ways to convey the stories behind food, so grocery shoppers know more about a cut of meat or a bag of beans and can use this information to make better choices. This food and farming conversation is gathering force, appropriately, in the Midwest. Many leading thinkers are gathering in March at the Family Farmed Expo , a two-day event in Chicago that contains events for the general public. Local experts on the subject will be on hand as well. "When national organic food standards were adopted in the early 90s, there was a choice," says Jim Slama of Sustain USA, a Chicago-based non-profit that works on food and farming issues. "At that time, the feds chose to emphasize environmental standards in the strictest sense, to certify whether the food production system avoided artificial fertilizers and chemicals. But they chose to ignore other values related to producing and selling food, values that many people care about." Slama and his colleagues are at the forefront of a "food convergence." Previously, food-related issues were addressed separately as individual groups focused on organics, local production, fair trade or family farm issues. Today, these groups are coming together to look at food from all angles with the belief that collectively, they can have far greater impact. Four key topics of discussion include certifying family farms; fair trade standards; organics and beyond; and local food and flavor. Fred Kirschenmann has watched with alarm as the number of independent family farms decline across the Midwest. The North Dakota farmer and senior fellow at Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture noted that this tragic disappearance was occurring even as demand was growing for specialty food products. "New markets are opening," says Kirschenmann. "In many cases, markets for organic foods, but they really take organic to another level. They come from peoples' rising desire to buy food that protects the land and animals, supports farm families and farm workers. These markets demand food products that independent family farmers can, by their very nature, best provide." This new demand for food can be summed up in three things food must convey: memory, story and relationship. People want food that carries the land's qualities and nutrients to their tables - that's its memory. They want to know where it came from and follow it to its source - that's its story. And they want to enjoy a trusting relationship through real communication with the producer. Kirschenmann joined like-minded rural advocates and food activists to form the Association of Family Farms (AFF). The organization's goal is to differentiate themselves in the marketplace by forming cooperatives and creating their own unique brands, which they will certify with a special seal. Like the ubiquitous "UL" (Underwriters Laboratories) label on household goods, the AFF seal will appear on food products from meat to wheat. It will certify food in three ways: 1) environmental stewardship on the farm; 2) social standards, such as fair treatment of farm workers; and 3) fair business practices including fair compensation for family farmers. AFF is composed of farmers from local marketing organizations and co-ops and is gradually expanding through regional committees. In addition to the AFF seal, Kirschenmann foresees an interactive website that will provide detailed information about the food, and the farmers and practices used to produce it. For AFF to work, it needs solid rules and agreed-upon standards by which to judge whether a food item deserves the seal. The group is drawing upon the Portland-based Food Alliance, whose certification programs support sustainable agriculture. Their standards are comprehensive and touch on every aspect of the farm economy and call upon farmers and ranchers for the following: * Provide safe and fair conditions for workers * Ensure healthy and humane care for livestock * Avoid use of hormones or related antibiotics * Avoid genetically modified crops or livestock * Reduce their use of pesticides and other toxins * Actively conserve soil and water resources * Protect wildlife habitat * Plan for continuous improvement Michael Sligh of the North Carolina-based Rural Advancement Foundation is working to adapt international fair trade standards, such as those well-recognized for coffee, to the domestic food market. "The standards are tools to help small farmers make a claim, to make their products more unique and more valuable," Sligh says Organic Valley is a LaFarge, Wisconsin-based cooperative that is owned by 900 independent farmers, most with small to mid-sized family farms. The Organic Valley label provides a powerful seal that guarantees social justice and environmental care. Now, the company is moving toward adopting some form of fair trade standard. "Organic and beyond," is how the company's CEO, George Siemon, describes it, signaling Organic Valley's desire to reach buyers who care about a wide range of values in their food. Erin Ford, a project coordinator at the company, notes that good standards require good metrics. "To create useful standards, we need to answer basic questions, such as 'what is a family farm?'" she says. "Another is, 'what is local food?'" Organic Valley has done much to provide answers, just through the guidelines it has established for its members. "We've got good working definitions, based upon our experience as a national brand working through a regional business model," says Ford. For example, to define a family farm, the company sets out certain thresholds, such as the number of heads of cattle (the maximum allowed for members is 500 without special approval, although their farmer average is 65). Their local milk is seen in a broad yet well-defined regional context, with seven major trade areas across the country broken up into the following regions: Pacific Northwest, California, Rocky Mountain, Texas, Midwest, Northeast and New England. Their goal is to ship within their regions, so the milk in the stores comes from relatively local producers. To tell the food story, to convey trust, means food must become more local, in both a real and a figurative sense. The food buyer must come to know the landscape, the scene of the harvest, whether it be across the continent or in the buyer's own region. Locality plays a big role in any new standards for food. The creation, or restoration, of local food systems goes to the heart of what people love most about food, namely, flavor. The international Slow Food movement sees this instinctively, placing the concern for good flavor into broader agendas for land conservation and the survival of diverse plant and animal varieties. Slow Food brings the discussion of fair trade down to where it really matters most: the plate. "The universal aspect of food is pleasure," says Erika Lesser of Slow Food USA. "It's not gluttony. It's just the reality of how food motivates people. It's like doing good by eating well." This appeal to taste could bring huge numbers of people into the fair trade fold, by getting them to look for good - and good-tasting - meals. Slow Food projects bring producers together around agreed-upon standards for special heritage varieties, such as raw milk cheese, Gravenstein Apples or other high value or unique foods. There is still a lot of work ahead to make the "memories, stories and relationships" of food accessible to most city folk who live far away from farms and food production. The evolving conversation - with new farmer-oriented standards, seals and methods to communicate food stories - may create a growing swell that will shake our food system, and our ways of interacting with it, to its very roots. ALAN MAMMOSER is a Chicago-based writer and regional planner. This essay was originally published by Conscious Choice. --------17 of 17-------- Correa Takes on Rightwing and Wins Leftist Victory in Ecuador By ROGER BURBACH CounterPunch March 23, 2007 The two month old government of leftist Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and the popular movements that back him have emerged triumphant in their first battle with the oligarchy and the traditional political parties that have historically dominated the country. Correa in his inaugural address in January called for an opening to a "new socialism of the twenty-first century" and declared that Ecuador has to end "the perverse system that has destroyed our democracy, our economy and our society." Correa's presidency is rooted in a militant mass movement that has been mobilizing and challenging the country's ascendant economic and political interests for years. The Ecuadorian political system, referred to as a "partidocracia," is run by factious political parties dominated by oligarchs who pull the strings on a corrupt state that includes Congress, the Supreme Court, as well as the presidency until Correa's election. Even Michel Camdessus, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, once commented that Ecuador is characterized "by an incestuous relation between bankers, political-financial pressure groups and corrupt government officials." The central demand of the broad movement that brought Correa to power is for a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution that breaks up the current dysfunctional state, ends the reign of the "partidocracia," refounds the country as a plurinational, participatory democracy, reclaims Ecuadorian sovereignty and uses the state to advance social and economic policies that benefit the people, not the oligarchy. Correa upon his inauguration issued a decree calling for a plebiscite for the people to vote on April 15 for the election of a Constituent Assembly. The Congress refused to accept the president's initiative, passing its own law saying that such an assembly would not have the right to limit the tenure of Congressional members or any other elected officials until their terms expired with the next elections. It would not be an assembly with powers to refound the country's institutions. Then with the intent of turning the election of assembly members into a virtual circus, the Congress declared that anyone could put their name on the ballot for the assembly. No signatures or petitions were required, meaning that hundreds or more could simply sign up to run for any given seat, making the balloting virtually impossible to administer. Correa responded by taking the Congressional legislation, eliminating the onerous clauses, tailoring it to his original decree for a Constituent Assembly to refound the country, and sending it the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which rules on elections and electoral procedures. Hopes were not high, as the Tribunal is historically viewed as part of the "partidocracia.'' The popular movements began to demonstrate in front of the Tribunal and Congress, calling for their closure, and for Correa to simply issue a decree for the Constituent Assembly. Rene Baez, a political analyst at the Catholic University of Ecuador, says: "To the surprise of virtually everyone the popular repudiation shook the consciousness of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal." Lead by its president, Jorge Acosta, a member of a traditional right wing party, the Tribunal declared that the statute proposed by President Correa to refound the country's institutions would be the one that would be voted up or down on April 15. Outraged by this decree, fifty-seven of the one hundred deputies of Congress voted to depose Acosta from the Tribunal. The next day Acosta and the Tribunal responded by expelling the fifty- seven deputies from Congress for their unconstitutional actions. The people took to the streets in a jubilant mood. Backed by demonstrators, Correa ordered 1500 policeman to surround the Congress to enforce the decree of the Tribunal, preventing any of the fifty-seven deposed representatives from entering. They attempted to hold a rump session at the Quito Hotel, but it went nowhere, with demonstrators ridiculing them outside by throwing pieces of dried pork fat at them as they entered and left. Since a quorum of fifty-one members is required in Congress to conduct business, the deposed members hoped to provoke an institutional crisis. But because of a quirk of Ecuadorian law, each deputy of Congress is elected along with a substitute legislator from the same party. The Correa government made it clear it would seat any of the substitutes, if they accepted the rulings of the Electoral Tribunal. Twenty substitutes almost immediately broke ranks with their parties, and Congress had the quorum necessary to function. "This is a major blow to the right wing and the oligarchy," says Rene Baez. "The 'partidocracia' has been gutted in the political realm." President Correa proclaimed: "The fifty-seven deputies tried to sow chaos in the countrynow they have been sanctioned and deposed. Congress will continue to function." While the plans for the Constituent Assembly to refound the country move forward, Correa on the same day that he declared victory made it clear that he intends to take advantage of his powers and a more pliant Congress, particularly to control the country's private banks. In the midst of the political crisis, the banks spread rumors of a "liquidity crisis," saying they were short of funds and might have to close their doors. Correa declared: "The problem is the exact opposite: The banks have ample funds and reserves, they are breaking historic records with their profits, exaggerated profits based on high interest rates, these will be regulated and controlled." Correa is setting up a special commission to investigate bank accesses and corruption dating back to 1998. "Let's be clear" he said, "The banks are never again going to be in the position to break the state." With the victory of Correa and the popular movement, a leftist axis of nations comprised of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador is consolidating in South America that is bent on carrying out profound social and economic changes at home while challenging the historic domination of the United States in the region. Correa has already announced he is shutting down the largest US military base on the South American coast at Manta, Ecuador. He is also moving forward with the expropriation of Occidental Petroleum, the largest petroleum corporation in the country, merging it with the state-owned company PetroEcuador, which in turn is signing a number of accords for cooperation and joint investments with PDVSA, the Venezuelan state company. Simultaneously, the popular movements are moving forward with their plans to make the Constituent Assembly a democratic, participatory process. In "An Open Letter to the People," signed by many leaders of the country's popular organizations, they declared: "The Constituent Assembly should be an organizing process for the Ecuadorian people, including workshops, seminars, and discussions at the grassroots of society that spills over and includes the different social sectors, women, the indigenous peoples, the Afro-Ecuadorians, workers, professors, students, informal merchants " "Never before has it been so clear that it is the people who make history. Today we are at the beginning of an era of popular power, marked by the initial work of the Constituent Assembly. It flows out of the resilience of the Ecuadorian people. It is potent and tumultuous." Roger Burbach is director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He is co-author with Jim Tarbell of "Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire," His latest book is: "The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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