Progressive Calendar 05.29.07
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 03:37:57 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    05.29.07

1. Protest UHG health 5.29 9am
2. VetsPeace/KFAI     5.29 11am
3. Natural step       5.29 5:30pm
4. PollyMann          5.29 6:30pm
5. Global health work 5.29 7pm
6. Refuse refuse      5.29 7:30pm
7. Israeli apartheid  5.29 8pm

8. Rally v CEO greed  5.30 12noon
9. Internet tools     5.30 6:30pm
10. Peace dinner      5.30 6:30pm

11. Cindy Sheehan   - Leaves Dem Party; meet July 4 in Philadelphia
12. Michael Parenti - Globalization and democracy: some basics
13. James Petras    - Imperial rot

--------1 of 13--------

From: joel michael albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org>
Subject: Protest UHG health 5.29 9am

Star Tribune,Sunday March 11, 2007, David Phelps  612-673-7269 ´
dphelps [at] startribune.com

Despite paying the price, UnitedHealth bounces back; the big insurer is
back in Wall Street's good graces - for now.

As emphasized by David Phelps' article (see below), everything seems to be
rosey again with United Health. (NOT so). Phelps continues to write in
exclusively financial terms, not health care and human terms. He states,
United's stock price is back up to $53/share, near where it was b4 the
stock option backdating scandal.

David Phelps buried the following important point mid-article, which
should have been the first paragraph. "But the company's troubles are not
yet entirely behind it.Still looming are [criminal] investigations by the
SEC, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice, plus a
collection of shareholder lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in
Minneapolis. Each investigation, review and lawsuit could result in
significant fines, penalties, [criminal] charges or financial
settlements."

Comment: If you'd like to buy a share at $53 each, and attend the United
Health Group (UHG) Annual Shareholder's mtg, on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007,
9AM, at corporate headquarters, in Minnetonka, make sure you bring proof
of your shareholder statement. For more details see:
http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/invest/index_invest.htm. UHCAN-MN will
also sponsor a demonstration that day,right outside of corporate
headquarters.

Here is the story in human health care terms: Feel free to email or call
David Phelps about reporting that side. David Phelps ´ 612-673-7269,
dphelps [at] startribune.com.

The fact is, 'United" Health Group (UHG) still continues a strategy of:
1. "growth by aquisition", and
2. promoting individual consumer Health Savings Accounts,

Both strategies dismantle health care pools, and the very concept of
health insurance, which is to pool financial and health risk.  UHG's HMO
division, "United" Health Care", denies health insurance to hundreds of
thousands of people across the country, (including MN, by managing
Medica's core insurance functions of underwriting,claims, and billing).
"United" is thus, the middle-man of the Medica middle-man.  HMOs profit by
denying care and coverage (the profit measure Wall Street evaluates is the
medical loss ratio, i.e. how much of premium revenues was kept for profit
rather than paid out in medical claims).  This is what raises their stock
price, and the criminal root of the problem. McGuire's $1.6 billion
backdating is a corrupt symptom of this larger problem. And i doubt that
Universities will be inviting Mcguire to speak at their Commencement
ceremonies this year as in recent years.  That's just the HMO division.But
there's more.

Another division, Ingenix, produces billing code software, and arms BOTH
SIDES, HMO insurers, and physician groups/hospitals in "billing wars", the
tension of which has spawned a booming industry of intermediaries.

Moreover, UHG "signed-up 6 million seniors in the Medicare Part D
disaster, in a joint venture with AARP, (who has sold UHG health insurance
since 1996). Insurers love to get their hands on senior organizations'
membership lists. UHG, Humana, and Wellpoint formed a Part D (so-called
drug benefit)  oligopoly, while over 2,000 other private insurers also
sell complicated, confusing drug policies to seniors. The donut-hole
(essentially a cap at $2,250 of RX coverage)  according to the New England
journal of Medicine, is likely to worsen seniors' health outcomes in blood
pressure, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, based on similar Rx caps imposed
by Medicare HMOs. Part D also raises drug prices, while UHG profits
enormously. Medicare Part D is yet another example, under field
conditions, of how competitive markets don't exist in health care.

UHCAN-MN action at "United" Health Group's Annual Shareholder Mtg last May
we chanted, "McGuire You're Fired, single-Payer your hired"!  Half of this
chant proved prophetic. Even w/out McGuire, UHG's new CEO, Stephan
Helmsley's stock options approach $1 billion. UHG's 10 member board of
directors, consisting mostly of lawyers, bankers, investors, and no HC
practitioners, are all multi-millionaires, Today's (tuesday's) Strib
article by Phelps,is equally glowing and flowery as Sunday's, about UHG's
latest $2.6 billion all-cash takeover, this time of Sierra Health Services
w/ a huge presence in Nevada, Arizona, and Texas. Note that UHG now
becomes the largest HMO in the U.S., and the largest corporation in MN in
revenues,( from second last year, surpassing Target Corp). Revenues are
now at $71 billion, up from $45 billion !  l Last year their profits of
$3.3 billion were second only to US Bank, and UHG was #1 in total stock
investments by far (no surprise) at a whopping $76 billion, and ranked 4th
in total assets at $41 billion. The worst-case scenario for MN will be
when UHG buy-out the MN HMOs, or at least enters the MN "market" through
legislation that allows HMOs to be for-profit. Such legislation has
already been introduced.

If you are interested in organizing on this pls call 612-384-0973.

Joel Albers Universal Health Care Action Network Minnesota 612-384-0973
joel [at] uhcan-mn.org www.uhcan-mn.org Health Care Economics Researcher,
Clinical Pharmacist


--------2 of 13--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: VetsPeace/KFAI 5.29 11am

Tune in to the LAST Tuesday of the month, May 29 for a Memorial Day
edition with excerpts from an International Women's Day special about
women in the military with Veterans for Peace members Chante Wolf and Kim
Doss-Smith.

"Catalyst" airs Tuesdays, 11am on KFAI Radio, 90.3 fm Mpls 106.7 fm St.
Paul online at http.www.kfai.org All shows archived online for 2 weeks
after broadcast.


--------3 of 13--------

From: Karen Engelsen <Karen [at] afors.org>
Subject: Natural step 5.29 5:30pm

Alliance for Sustainability Minnesota
May 29 & 31 - Natural Step Framework Seminar
Tuesday May 29, and Thursday, May 31, 5:30 - 9:30p.m., at Mississippi
Market. St. Paul.

Sustainability and the Natural Step Framework, This seminar provides an
innovative, successful, and cost-effective approach for becoming
yenvironmentally and socially responsible based on consensus and systems
thinking. Its purpose is to present a common framework comprised of
easily-understood, scientifically-based principles that can serve as a
compass to guide society toward a just and sustainable future. This
seminar is being offered twice, once each in the East and West Metro:


-------4 of 13--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: PollyMann 5.29 6:30pm

Polly Mann will be here and her play titled John Peter Zenger will be read
by some people.  Here is the gist of it:

The play, based on an actual historical event involving John Peter Zenger,
takes place in 1735 when the US was still part of the British Empire.
Zenger was a German immigrant printer who established the first partisan
political journal in the US, The New York Weekly Journal, in which he is
accused of corrupting the governor of New York, an appointee of the King.
Zenger was tried for printing libelous material.  The verdict set the
precedent for an important principle of law still in effect today.  Much
of the material came from transcripts of the trial.

Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


--------5 of 13--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Global health work 5.29 7pm

Finding Work in Global Health
Tuesday May 29, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m.
St. Anthony Park Branch Library, 2245 Como Ave., Saint Paul
These events are free and open to the public.
For more information, call 651-222-3242 or friends [at] thefriends.org


--------6 of 13-------

From: Kelly <saintcurmudgeon [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Refuse refuse 5.29 7:30pm

Join your neighbors in learning about the proposed plan to burn RDF in our
backyard at the Rock-Tenn paper recycling facility.Find out that RDF
(refuse-derived fuel) is garbage with serious toxic emissions (including
heavy metals and dioxins). Burning garbage in any form is not good for
your health!

Tuesday, May 29
Green Insitute Report on Biomass Fuels
7:00 pm
Hamline Univ.
Drew Science Hall
1536 Hewitt Ave.

Neighbors Against the Burner  651-647-9908
Tuesday, June 19
Toxic Emissions from RDF
7:30 pm
Macalester College Ballroom
1600 Grand Ave.

If I go to these, I will report back. I would appreciate a report from
anyone else who is able to go.

Grace Kelly nicknamed Kelly
Curmudgeon from Merriam Park


--------7 of 13-------

From: Leslie Reindl <alteravista [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Israeli apartheid 5.29 8pm

Tuesday, May 29 (and June 5), 8 pm, MTN cable channel 16:  Altera Vista
presents "Apartheid South Africa and Israel Today: The Parallels."
Speaker Farid Esack, South African Muslim theologian, speaking at
conference "Divestment from Apartheid Israel: An Organizing Conference."
Taped April 28, 2007.

Thursday, May 31 (and June 7), 8 pm, SPNN cable channel 15:  Altera
Vista presents "Apartheid South Africa and Israel Today: The
Parallels."  Speaker Farid Esack, South African Muslim theologian,
speaking at conference "Divestment from Apartheid Israel: An
Organizing Conference."  Taped April 28, 2007.


--------8 of 13--------

To: 'Karen Schultz' <schulars [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Rally v CEO greed  5.30 12noon

Wednesday May 30th, working families will be rallying at the MN State
Capitol against executive greed and the growing disparity between worker
pay (concessions) and executive pay (millions in stock and stock bonuses).
All workers and families are invited to join us in the fight back.

Working Families against Executive Greed
Rally
Wednesday May 30, 2007
12:00 noon - 2:00 pm
Minnesota State Capitol <http://www.mnhs.org/statecapitol>
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul MN 55155


--------9 of 13--------

From: Tim Erickson <tim [at] politalk.org>
Subject: Internet tools 5.30 6:30pm

I'm looking for a few good folks to accept a last minute invitation to
exchange notes on some of the cool tools that are available on the
internet. In specific, tools/sites that can be used for community
organizing, campaigning, or advocacy.

We have the run of the Rondo Library electronic classroom, including 15
computer terminals (connected to internet) and a really fancy
Smartboard/Projector. I'll show off some of my favorite web sites/tools -
and you can show off some of yours! This will be an
interactive/collaborative session.  Please, join with me. If you don't
know anything about these tools, come along and learn.  This session is
open to complete beginners to advanced geeks!! If you can make it, please
drop me a quick note so I have some idea of who is coming.

   WHAT:  New Tools: Show and Tell
            "An interactive exchange about new web tools
             for community/political participation"
   TIME:  6:30 - 8:00 (Mon, May 30)
   WHERE: Electronic Classroom
          Rondo Library (Dale and University, St. Paul)

Tim Erickson 651-246-5045 E-Democracy.Org


-------10 of 13--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Peace dinner 5.30 6:30pm

Work A Day for Peace Dinner Event
Wed 5/30 @ 6:30pm @ Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Mpls.
Want Peace?  Work for Justice!

The Anti-War Committee is asking supporters (and hungry people in general)
to work a day for peace, and join us for a family-friendly thank you
dinner event.  Supporters will enjoy a delicious dinner of pasta, salad &
dessert.  We request that supporters donate a day's wages (or an hour's
wage -depending on what you can afford) to cover dinner and support the
Anti-War Committee.  There will be a brief political and cultural program
at the event. Money will go to support local peace organizing.


--------11 of 13---------

Date: Mon, 28 May 2007 12:52:03 -0400
From: James M Leas <jolly39 [at] juno.com>
To: jolly39 [at] juno.com
Subject: Cindy Sheehan: leaving the Democratic Party and calling for July 4
    meeting in Philadelphia

Like her sit-in in Crawford Texas in 2005, Cindy Sheehan's letter to the
Democratic Congress following their vote to fund the war (below and at
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/26/10135/7518) marks an
important initiative for the antiwar movement.

Cindy calls for a meeting in Philadelphia on July 4 "to try and figure a
way out of this 'two' party system that is bought and paid for by the war
machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives." She
concludes her letter to the Democratic Congress by saying, "As for myself,
I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who
put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did
not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe
harbor.

"We do not condone our government's violent meddling in sovereign
countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq.

"We gave you a chance, you betrayed us."

People all over the country have recognized that the vote to fund the war
- and all the trickery leading up to that vote - means that new ideas are
needed. The Democrats thought they did not have to worry about the vast
antiwar majority in this country because we have no where else to go.
Cindy Sheehan is sparking an alternative. We all know that business as
usual is not enough. The July 4 meeting in Philadelphia provides an
opportunity for new ideas and new directions.

Ideas from history: When the two parties of slavery (the Democratic Party
and the Whig Party) reached a similar point of discrediting themselves in
the late 1850s, and people were fed up with both, activists from those
parties and various smaller abolitionist parties merged to form the
Republican Party that nominated Abraham Lincoln for the 1860 election. He
won, and the Whig Party soon ceased to exist.

More recently, for decades two major corporate parties alternated control
in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez formed a new party in 1998. After his victory in
the 1998 election both those two major parties shrank to single digits.

Our forefathers gathered to declare independence on July 4, 1776 in
Philadelphia and to initiate an alternative to colonial rule. The American
people have a similar opportunity on July 4, 2007 to gather in
Philadelphia, declare independence from the two colonial war parties, and
initiate an alternative that is of, by, and for the people, and free of
control by war makers and corporations. I hope everyone will go to
Philadelphia on July 4 to support this declaration and contribute
proposals for an alternative.

Jimmy

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/26/10135/7518
Dear Democratic Congress
by CindySheehan
Sat May 26, 2007 at 07:03:16 AM PDT
May 26, 2007
Dublin, Ireland

Dear Democratic Congress,

Hello, my name is Cindy Sheehan and my son Casey Sheehan was killed on
April 04, 2004 in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq . He was killed when the
Republicans still were in control of Congress. Naively, I set off on my
tireless campaign calling on Congress to rescind George's authority to
wage his war of terror while asking him "for what noble cause" did Casey
and thousands of other have to die. Now, with Democrats in control of
Congress, I have lost my optimistic naivetÚ and have become cynically
pessimistic as I see you all caving into as one Daily Kos poster called:
"Mr. 28%"

There is absolutely no sane or defensible reason for you to hand Bloody
King George more money to condemn more of our brave, tired, and damaged
soldiers and the people of Iraq to more death and carnage. You think
giving him more money is politically expedient, but it is a moral
abomination and every second the occupation of Iraq endures, you all have
more blood on your hands.

Ms. Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said after George signed the new weak as
a newborn baby funding authorization bill: "Now, I think the president's
policy will begin to unravel." Begin to unravel? How many more of our
children will have to be killed and how much more of Iraq will have to be
demolished before you all think enough unraveling has occurred? How many
more crimes will BushCo be allowed to commit while their poll numbers are
crumbling before you all gain the political "courage" to hold them
accountable. If Iraq hasn't unraveled in Ms. Pelosi's mind, what will it
take? With almost 700,000 Iraqis dead and four million refugees (which the
US refuses to admit) how could it get worse? Well, it is getting worse and
it can get much worse thanks to your complicity.

Being cynically pessimistic, it seems to me that this new vote to extend
the war until the end of September, (and let's face it, on October 1st,
you will give him more money after some more theatrics, which you think
are fooling the anti-war faction of your party) will feed right into the
presidential primary season and you believe that if you just hang on until
then, the Democrats will be able to re-take the White House. Didn't you
see how "well" that worked for John Kerry in 2004 when he played the
politics of careful fence sitting and pandering? The American electorate
are getting disgusted with weaklings who blow where the wind takes them
while frittering away our precious lifeblood and borrowing money from our
new owners, the Chinese.

I knew having a Democratic Congress would make no difference in grassroots
action. That's why we went to DC when you all were sworn in to tell you
that we wanted the troops back from Iraq and BushCo held accountable while
you pushed for ethics reform which is quite a hoot...don' you think? We
all know that it is affordable for you all to play this game of political
mayhem because you have no children in harm's way...let me tell you what
it is like: You watch your reluctant soldier march off to a war that
neither you nor he agrees with. Once your soldier leaves the country all
you can do is worry. You lie awake at night staring at the moon wondering
if today will be the day that you get that dreaded knock on your door. You
can't concentrate, you can't eat, and your entire life becomes consumed
with apprehension while you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Then, when your worst fears are realized, you begin a life of constant
pain, regret, and longing. Everyday is hard, but then you come up on
"special" days...like upcoming Memorial Day. Memorial Day holds double
pain for me because, not only are we supposed to honor our fallen troops,
but Casey was born on Memorial Day in 1979. It used to be a day of
celebration for us and now it is a day of despair. Our needlessly killed
soldiers of this war and the past conflict in Vietnam have all left an
unnecessary trail of sorrow and deep holes of absence that will never be
filled.

So, Democratic Congress, with the current daily death toll of 3.72 troops
per day, you have condemned 473 more to these early graves. 473 more lives
wasted for your political greed: Thousands of broken hearts because of
your cowardice and avarice. How can you even go to sleep at night or look
at yourselves in a mirror? How do you put behind you the screaming mothers
on both sides of the conflict? How does the agony you have created escape
you? It will never escape me...I can't run far enough or hide well enough
to get away from it.

By the end of September, we will be about 80 troops short of another
bloody milestone: 4000, and MoveOn.org will hold nationwide candlelight
vigils and you all will be busy passing legislation that will snuff the
lights out of thousands more human beings.

Congratulations Congress, you have bought yourself a few more months of an
illegal and immoral bloodbath. And you know you mean to continue it
indefinitely so "other presidents" can solve the horrid problem BushCo
forced our world into.

It used to be George Bush's war. You could have ended it honorably. Now it
is yours and you all will descend into calumnious history with BushCo. The
Camp Casey Peace Institute is calling all citizens who are as disgusted as
we are with you all to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and
figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by
the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As
for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed
those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading.
We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to
safe harbor.

We do not condone our government's violent meddling in sovereign countries
and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq .

We gave you a chance, you betrayed us.

Sincerely, Cindy Sheehan Founder and President of Gold Star Families for
Peace. Founder and Director of The Camp Casey Peace Institute Eternally
grieving mother of Casey Sheehan

[I applaud Cindy's action. The DP will begin a vicious smear campaign,
perhaps the one thing it does really well. Nevertheless one should leave
it; suffering the names it will call one is a small price to pay to be rid
of it.  I kicked the Dem habit back in 1994, and my brain is now almost as
blather-free as if I had never taken up 'cratting as a teen-ager. -ed]


--------12 of 13--------

Globalization and Democracy: Some Basics
by Michael Parenti
Published on Friday, May 25, 2007 by CommonDreams.org

The goal of the transnational corporation is to become truly
transnational, poised above the sovereign power of any particular nation,
while being served by the sovereign powers of all nations. Cyril Siewert,
chief financial officer of Colgate Palmolive Company, could have been
speaking for all transnationals when he remarked, "The United States
doesn't have an automatic call on our [corporation's] resources. There is
no mindset that puts this country first".[i]

With international "free trade" agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, and FTAA,
the giant transnationals have been elevated above the sovereign powers of
nation states. These agreements endow anonymous international trade
committees with the authority to prevent, overrule, or dilute any laws of
any nation deemed to burden the investment and market prerogatives of
transnational corporations. These trade committees - of which the World
Trade Organization (WTO) is a prime example - set up panels composed of
"trade specialists" who act as judges over economic issues, placing
themselves above the rule and popular control of any nation, thereby
insuring the supremacy of international finance capital. This process,
called globalization, is treated as an inevitable natural
"growth" development beneficial to all. It is in fact a global coup d'tat
by the giant business interests of the world.

Elected by no one and drawn from the corporate world, these panelists meet
in secret and often have investment stakes in the very issues they
adjudicate, being bound by no conflict-of-interest provisions. Not one of
GATT's five hundred pages of rules and restrictions are directed against
private corporations; all are against governments. Signatory governments
must lower tariffs, end farm subsidies, treat foreign companies the same
as domestic ones, honor all corporate patent claims, and obey the rulings
of a permanent elite bureaucracy, the WTO. Should a country refuse to
change its laws when a WTO panel so dictates, the WTO can impose fines or
international trade sanctions, depriving the resistant country of needed
markets and materials.[ii]

Acting as the supreme global adjudicator, the WTO has ruled against laws
deemed "barriers to free trade." It has forced Japan to accept greater
pesticide residues in imported food. It has kept Guatemala from outlawing
deceptive advertising of baby food. It has eliminated the ban in various
countries on asbestos, and on fuel-economy and emission standards for
motor vehicles. And it has ruled against marine-life protection laws and
the ban on endangered-species products. The European Union's prohibition
on the importation of hormone-ridden U.S. beef had overwhelming popular
support throughout Europe, but a three-member WTO panel decided the ban
was an illegal restraint on trade. The decision on beef put in jeopardy a
host of other food import regulations based on health concerns. The WTO
overturned a portion of the U.S. Clean Air Act banning certain additives
in gasoline because it interfered with imports from foreign refineries.
And the WTO overturned that portion of the U.S. Endangered Species Act
forbidding the import of shrimp caught with nets that failed to protect
sea turtles.[iii]

Free trade is not fair trade; it benefits strong nations at the expense of
weaker ones, and rich interests at the expense of the rest of us.
Globalization means turning the clock back on many twentieth-century
reforms: no freedom to boycott products, no prohibitions against child
labor, no guaranteed living wage or benefits, no public services that
might conceivably compete with private services, no health and safety
protections that might cut into corporate profits.[iv]

GATT and subsequent free trade agreements allow multinationals to impose
monopoly property rights on indigenous and communal agriculture. In this
way agribusiness can better penetrate locally self-sufficient communities
and monopolize their resources. Ralph Nader gives the example of the neem
tree, whose extracts contain natural pesticidal and medicinal properties.
Cultivated for centuries in India, the tree attracted the attention of
various pharmaceutical companies, who filed monopoly patents, causing mass
protests by Indian farmers. As dictated by the WTO, the pharmaceuticals
now have exclusive control over the marketing of neem tree products, a
ruling that is being reluctantly enforced in India. Tens of thousands of
erstwhile independent farmers must now work for the powerful
pharmaceuticals on profit-gorging terms set by the companies.

A trade agreement between India and the United States, the Knowledge
Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), backed by Monsanto and other
transnational corporate giants, allows for the grab of India's seed sector
by Monsanto, its trade sector by Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, and
its retail sector by Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart announced plans to open 500
stores in India, starting in August 2007.) This amounts to a war against
India's independent farmers and small businesses, and a threat to India's
food security. Farmers are organizing to protect themselves against this
economic invasion by maintaining traditional seed-banks and setting up
systems of communal agrarian support. One farmer says, "We do not buy
seeds from the market because we suspect they may be contaminated with
genetically engineered or terminator seeds".[v]

In a similar vein, the WTO ruled that the U.S. corporation RiceTec has the
patent rights to all the many varieties of basmati rice, grown for
centuries by India's farmers. It also ruled that a Japanese corporation
had exclusive rights in the world to grow and produce curry powder. As
these instances demonstrate, what is called "free trade" amounts to
international corporate monopoly control. Such developments caused
Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to observe:

We now have a situation where theft of genetic resources by western
biotech TNCs [transnational corporations] enables them to make huge
profits by producing patented genetic mutations of these same materials.
What depths have we sunk to in the global marketplace when nature's gifts
to the poor may not be protected but their modifications by the rich
become exclusive property?

If the current behavior of the rich countries is anything to go by,
globalization simply means the breaking down of the borders of countries
so that those with the capital and the goods will be free to dominate the
markets.[vi]

Under free-trade agreements like General Agreements on Trade and Services
(GATS) and Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), all public services are
put at risk. A public service can be charged with causing "lost market
opportunities" for business, or creating an unfair subsidy. To offer one
instance: the single-payer automobile insurance program proposed by the
province of Ontario, Canada, was declared "unfair competition". Ontario
could have its public auto insurance only if it paid U.S. insurance
companies what they estimated would be their present and future losses in
Ontario auto insurance sales, a prohibitive cost for the province. Thus
the citizens of Ontario were not allowed to exercise their democratic
sovereign right to institute an alternative not-for-profit auto insurance
system. In another case, United Postal Service charged the Canadian Post
Office for "lost market opportunities," which means that under free trade
accords, the Canadian Post Office would have to compensate UPS for all the
business that UPS thinks it would have had if there were no public postal
service. The Canadian postal workers union has challenged the case in
court, arguing that the agreement violates the Canadian Constitution.

Under NAFTA, the U.S.-based Ethyl Corporation sued the Canadian government
for $250 million in "lost business opportunities" and "interference with
trade" because Canada banned MMT, an Ethyl-produced gasoline additive
considered carcinogenic by Canadian officials. Fearing they would lose the
case, Canadian officials caved in, agreeing to lift the ban on MMT, pay
Ethyl $10 million compensation, and issue a public statement calling MMT
"safe," even though they had scientific findings showing otherwise.
California also banned the unhealthy additive; this time a Canadian based
Ethyl company sued California under NAFTA for placing an unfair burden on
free trade.[vii]

International free trade agreements like GATT and NAFTA have hastened the
corporate acquisition of local markets, squeezing out smaller businesses
and worker collectives. Under NAFTA better-paying U.S. jobs were lost as
firms closed shop and contracted out to the cheaper Mexican labor market.
At the same time thousands of Mexican small companies were forced out of
business. Mexico was flooded with cheap, high-tech, mass produced corn and
dairy products from giant U.S. agribusiness firms (themselves heavily
subsidized by the U.S. government), driving small Mexican farmers and
distributors into bankruptcy, displacing large numbers of poor peasants.
The lately arrived U.S. companies in Mexico have offered extremely
low-paying jobs, and unsafe work conditions. Generally free trade has
brought a dramatic increase in poverty south of the border.[viii]

We North Americans are told that to remain competitive in the new era of
globalization, we will have to increase our output while reducing our
labor and production costs, in other words, work harder for less. This in
fact is happening as the work-week has lengthened by as much as twenty
percent (from forty hours to forty-six and even forty-eight hours) and
real wages have flattened or declined during the reign of George W. Bush.
Less is being spent on social services, and we are enduring more wage
concessions, more restructuring, deregulation, and privatization. Only
with such "adjustments," one hears, can we hope to cope with the
impersonal forces of globalization that are sweeping us along.

In fact, there is nothing impersonal about these forces. Free trade
agreements, including new ones that have not yet been submitted to the
U.S. Congress have been consciously planned by big business and its
government minions over a period of years in pursuit of a deregulated
world economy that undermines all democratic checks upon business
practices. The people of any one province, state, or nation are now
finding it increasingly difficult to get their governments to impose
protective regulations or develop new forms of public sector production
out of fear of being overruled by some self-appointed international
free-trade panel.[ix]

Usually it is large nations demanding that poorer smaller ones relinquish
the protections and subsidies they provide for their local producers. But
occasionally things may take a different turn. Thus in late 2006 Canada
launched a dispute at the World Trade Organization over the use of
"trade-distorting" agricultural subsidies by the United States,
specifically the enormous sums dished out by the federal government to
U.S. agribusiness corn farmers. The case also challenged the entire
multibillion-dollar structure of U.S. agricultural subsidies. It followed
the landmark WTO ruling of 2005 which condemned "trade-distorting" aid to
U.S. cotton farmers. A report by Oxfam International revealed that at
least thirty-eight developing countries were suffering severely as a
result of trade distorting subsidies by both the United States and the
European Union. Meanwhile, the U.S. government was maneuvering to insert a
special clause into trade negotiations that would place its illegal use of
farm subsidies above challenge by WTO member countries and make the
subsidies immune from adjudication through the WTO dispute settlement
process.[x]

What is seldom remarked upon is that NAFTA and GATT are in violation of
the U.S. Constitution, the preamble of which makes clear that sovereign
power rests with the people: "We the People of the United States . . . do
ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution reads, "All legislative Powers
herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States".
Article I, Section 7 gives the president (not some trade council) the
power to veto a law, subject to being overridden by a two-thirds vote in
Congress. And Article III gives adjudication and review powers to a
Supreme Court and other federal courts as ordained by Congress. The Tenth
Amendment to the Constitution states: "The powers not delegated to the
United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are
reserved to the States respectively, or to the people". There is nothing
in the entire Constitution that allows an international trade panel to
preside as final arbiter exercising supreme review powers undermining the
constitutionally mandated decisions of the legislative, executive, and
judicial branches.

True, Article VII says that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties
"shall be the supreme Law of the land," but certainly this was not
intended to include treaties that overrode the laws themselves and the
sovereign democratic power of the people and their representatives.

To exclude the Senate from deliberations, NAFTA and GATT were called
"agreements" instead of treaties, a semantic ploy that enabled President
Clinton to bypass the two-third treaty ratification vote in the Senate and
avoid any treaty amendment process. The World Trade Organization was
approved by a lame-duck session of Congress held after the 1994 elections.
No one running in that election uttered a word to voters about putting the
U.S. government under a perpetual obligation to insure that national laws
do not conflict with international free trade rulings.

What is being undermined is not only a lot of good laws dealing with
environment, public services, labor standards, and consumer protection,
but also the very right to legislate such laws. Our democratic sovereignty
itself is being surrendered to a secretive plutocratic trade organization
that presumes to exercise a power greater than that of the people and
their courts and legislatures. What we have is an international coup d'tat
by big capital over the nations of the world.

Globalization is a logical extension of imperialism, a victory of empire
over republic, international finance capital over local productivity and
nation-state democracy (such as it is). In recent times however, given
popular protests, several multilateral trade agreements have been stalled
or voted down. In 1999, militant protests against free trade took place in
forty-one nations from Britain and France to Thailand and India.[xi] In
2000-01, there were demonstrations in Seattle, Washington, Sydney, Prague,
Genoa, and various other locales. In 2003-04 we saw the poorer nations
catching wise to the free trade scams and refusing to sign away what
shreds of sovereignty they still had. Along with the popular resistance,
more national leaders are thinking twice before signing on to new trade
agreements.

The discussion of globalization by some Marxists (but not all) has focused
on the question of whether the new "internationalization" of capital will
undermine national sovereignty and the nation state. They dwell on this
question while leaving unmentioned such things as free trade agreements
and the WTO. Invariably these observers (for instance Ellen Wood and
William Taab in Monthly Review, Ian Jasper in Nature, Society and Thought,
Erwin Marquit in Political Affairs) conclude that the nation state still
plays a key role in capitalist imperialism, that capital - while global in
its scope - is not international but bound to particular nations, and that
globalization is little more than another name for overseas monopoly
capital investment.

They repeatedly remind us that Marx had described globalization, this
process of international financial expansion, as early as 1848, when he
and Engels in the Communist Manifesto wrote about how capitalism moves
into all corners of the world, reshaping all things into its own image.
Therefore, there is no cause for the present uproar. Globalization, these
writers conclude, is not a new development but a longstanding one that
Marxist theory uncovered long ago.

The problem with this position is that it misses the whole central point
of the current struggle. It is not only national sovereignty that is at
stake, it is democratic sovereignty. Millions of people all over the
world have taken to the streets to protest free trade agreements. Among
them are farmers, workers, students and intellectuals (including many
Marxists who see things more clearly than the aforementioned ones), all of
whom are keenly aware that something new is afoot and they want no part of
it. As used today, the term globalization refers to a new stage of
international expropriation, designed not to put an end to the
nation-state but to undermine whatever democratic right exists to protect
the social wage and restrain the power of transnational corporations.

The free trade agreements, in effect, make unlawful all statutes and
regulations that restrict private capital in any way. Carried to full
realization, this means the end of whatever imperfect democratic
protections the populace has been able to muster after generations of
struggle in the realm of public policy. Under the free trade agreements
any and all public services can be ruled out of existence because they
cause "lost market opportunities" for private capital. So too public
hospitals can be charged with taking away markets from private hospitals;
and public water supply systems, public schools, public libraries, public
housing and public transportation are guilty of depriving their private
counterparts of market opportunities, likewise public health insurance,
public mail delivery, and public auto insurance systems. Laws that try to
protect the environment or labor standards or consumer health already have
been overthrown for "creating barriers" to free trade.

What also is overthrown is the right to have such laws. This is the most
important point of all and the one most frequently overlooked by persons
from across the political spectrum. Under the free trade accords, property
rights have been elevated to international supremacy, able to take
precedent over all other rights, including the right to a clean livable
environment, the right to affordable public services, and the right to any
morsel of economic democracy. Instead a new right has been accorded
absolutist status, the right to corporate private profit. It has been used
to stifle the voice of working people and their ability to develop a
public sector that serves their interests. Free speech itself is
undermined as when "product disparagement" is treated as an interference
with free trade. And nature itself is being monopolized and privatized by
transnational corporations.

So the fight against free trade is a fight for the right to
politico-economic democracy, public services, and a social wage, the right
not to be completely at the mercy of big capital. It is a new and drastic
phase of the class struggle that some Marxists - so immersed in classical
theory and so ill-informed about present-day public policy - seem to have
missed. As embodied in the free trade accords, globalization has little to
do with trade and is anything but free. It benefits the rich nations over
poor ones, and the rich classes within all nations at the expense of
ordinary citizens. It is the new specter that haunts the same old world.

Michael Parenti's recent books include The Assassination of Julius Caesar
(New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle
(Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.

 2007 Michael Parenti

[i] Quoted in New York Times, May 21, 1989.

[ii] See Lori Wallach and Michelle Sforza, The WTO (New York: Seven
Stories Press, 2000); and John R. MacArthur, The Selling of Free Trade:
Nafta, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy (New York:
Hill and Wang, 2000).

[iii] New York Times, April 30, 1996 and May 9, 1997;Washington Post,
October 13, 1998.

[iv] See the report by the United Nations Development Program referenced
in New York Times, July 13, 1999.

[v] Project Censored, "Real News," April 2007; also Arun Shrivastava,
"Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto," Global
Research, October 9, 2006.

[vi] Quoted in People.s Weekly World, December 7, 1996.

[vii] John R. MacArthur, The Selling of "Free Trade": NAFTA, Washington,
and the Subversion of American Democracy (New York: Hill & Wang, 2000; and
Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, "Nafta's Unhappy Anniversary," New York
Times, February 7, 1995.

[viii] John Ross, "Tortilla Wars," Progressive, June 1999

[ix] For a concise but thorough treatment, see Steven Shrybman, A
Citizen's Guide

to the World Trade Organization (Ottawa/Toronto: Canadian Center for
Policy Alternatives and James Lorimer & Co., 1999).

[x] "US seeks 'get-out clause' for illegal farm payments" Oxfam, June 29,
2006, http://www.oxfam.org/en/news/pressreleases2006/pr060629_wto_geneva

[xi] San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 1999.


--------13 of 13--------

Are the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the Beginning of the End of the
American Empire?
Imperial Rot
By JAMES PETRAS
CounterPunch
May 26 / 27, 2007

Washington outlined in explicit language its plans to engage in sequential
wars in the Middle East, Southwest and Northeast Asia and the Caribbean.
Under the offensive military doctrine of 'Pre-emptive Wars' and the
'Global War against Terrorism', the United States' pursuit of military
conquest was backed by Israel, Great Britain and several newly
incorporated client states from Eastern Europe. The White House's
grandiose scheme of world conquest was orchestrated and pre-maturely
celebrated by top Zioncon (Zionist Conservative) officials embedded in the
Pentagon, White House and the National Security Council.

The imperial wars of conquest however were stopped literally dead in their
tracks at their starting point: Iraq and Afghanistan. Subsequent to the US
invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, a formidable mass armed
resistance emerged from the underground, aided by widespread civilian
support. Large majorities of public opinion, major religious communities ,
trade union militants, small business associations and neighborhood-based
community organizations actively and passively opposed the US-led
occupation forces at every turn, providing logistical support and
intelligence to the armed and non-violent resistance. Similar developments
took place at a later stage in Afghanistan. Despite draconian military
measures, including the bombing of population centers, systematic mass
round-ups of civilians followed by brutal torture, the US military failed
to consolidate its rule via puppet regimes. As the resistance grew,
Washington's efforts to foment ethnic-religious sectarian warfare and
territorial fragmentation failed. By late 2006 it was clear that the
imperial army's only territorial conquest was the bunkers in the so-called
'Green Zone'. In 2007 Washington escalated its troop commitments in a
desperate effort to fend off impending defeat and to recover massive loss
of domestic support.

>From a world historical perspective, the Iraqi and Afghan resistance has
successfully stymied Washington's pursuit of world domination through a
series of offensive wars. The success of the national liberation movements
led to the over-extension of the US imperial armed forces weakening
efforts to launch programed ground wars against Iran, Syria and elsewhere.
The prolonged resistance led to wholesale domestic opposition in the face
of never-ending US casualties and skyrocketing financial costs.

The demoralization of the US infantry and National Guard prevented
Washington from following up its failed coup against Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez with a direct military invasion.

The prolonged and deteriorating war in Afghanistan, with the advances of
the re-grouped guerrilla fighters especially among the civilian
population, has led the US-controlled colonial coalition to engage in
indiscriminate bombing of civilians adding to the growth of the
anti-colonial resistance.

The success of the resistance movements in Iraq and Afghanistan and the
appeal of their examples has encouraged new formidable anti-colonial
struggles, led by Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, the Islamic
Courts Union in Somalia as well as having stiffened the resolve of Iranian
leaders to resist US demands to unilaterally suspend their nuclear
programs. Further abroad, the weakening of US global military
interventionist capacity has taken the heat off of progressive governments
in Venezuela and revolutionary Cuba. The consolidation of the Venezuelan
nationalist-populist government has had a powerful demonstration impact
throughout Latin America, encouraging new anti-imperialist movements and
dissident governments in Ecuador and beyond. In an all out battle of
ideas, programs, foreign aid and solidarity, Bush is losing out to
President Chavez: Unable to launch a full-scale military invasion, to
eliminate the Chavez government, Washington has failed to match
Venezuela's vast petrol subsidies and promising alternative integration
proposals: ALBA has prevailed over ALCA.

The failure of Washington's will to a world empire has led to the
shrinking of power relative to its global situation prior to 2001. And in
large part that is due to the fighting capacity and organized resistance
in Iraq and Afghanistan: Both have demonstrated that despite the great
store of modern technological warfare and monopolies of media propaganda,
wars are decided on the ground, by the popular majorities directly
affected. It is they who set in motion the conversion of enthusiastic
domestic majorities for the US war to demoralized minorities; it is they
who have given backbone and resiliency to the Middle Eastern governments
who vacillate between collaboration with and rejection of the colonial
powers.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University,
New York, owns a 50 year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser
to the landless and jobless in brazil and argentina and is co-author of
Globalization Unmasked (Zed). His new book with Henry Veltmeyer, Social
Movements and the State: Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina, will be
published in October 2005. He can be reached at: jpetras [at] binghamton.edu


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