|Progressive Calendar 11.30.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 08:21:13 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.30.07 1. Human rights 11.30 11:15am 2. Craft sale/FNVW 11.30 2pm 3. Human rights 11.30 3pm 4. Palestine 11.30 4:30pm 5. Che today 11.30 5pm 6. World AIDS Day 11.30 6:30pm 7. WW Jesus Buy?/f 11.30 7:20pm 8. Gender violence 11.30 7:30pm 9. NOW/rigged vote 11.30 8:30pm 10. Moyers/Israel 11.30 9pm 11. Homeless vets 12.01 10am 12. Screw the king 12.01 10:30am 13. NWN4P-Mtonka 12.01 11am 14. GreenParty StP 12.01 12noon 15. Plymouth vigil 12.01 1pm 16. Tech-share 12.01 1pm 17. Spaghetti/YAWR 12.01 6pm 18. Jarvi/poetry 12.01 8pm 19. Dave Lindorff - US coup planned for Venezuela? News not fit to print 20. Johann Hari - The plot to rig the 2008 US election 21. Mark Morford - Black Friday die die die 22. ed - I hear America bleating (pastiche poem) --------1 of 22-------- From: Human Rights Events Update <humanrts [at] umn.edu> Subject: Human rights 11.30 11:15am Speaker: Robert T. Coulter Executive Director Indian Law Resource Center Friday, November 30, 2007 11:15 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. Room 30, Law School Free and open to the public Robert T. Coulter will give a public presentation as part of the International Human Rights Law class on Friday, November 30. A major proponent of indigenous human rights, he was one of the principal moving forces behind the newly adopted U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He will speak on the drafting of the Declaration and how it can be used. --------2 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Craft sale/FNVW 11.30 2pm Friday, 11/30 (2 to 9 pm) and Saturday, 12/1 (9 am to 4 pm), craft sale to benefit Friends for a Nonviolent World, held at Minneapolis Friends Meetinghouse, 44th & York, South Mpls. http://www.fnvw.org --------3 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Human rights 11.30 3pm Friday, 11/30, 3 to 5 pm, Yale history prof Jay Winter lectures on "The Birth of the Human Rights Movement," Ford Room (710), Social Science Building, 267 - 19th Ave S, U of M West Bank, Mpls. http://igs.cla.umn.edu/events/ --------4 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Palestine 11.30 4:30pm Friday, 11/30, 4:30 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end the occupation of Palestine, Snelling & Summit Aves, St Paul. Karen, 651-283-3495. --------5 of 22-------- From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at] USFAMILY.NET> Subject: Che today 11.30 5pm Che Guevara: Are his Ideas Relevant in the World Today? Friday, November 30, 2007 5-7 pm La Raza Cultural Center, 2nd Floor University of Minnesota, Coffman Union 300 Washington Avenue SE, Minneapolis* Panel Discussion followed by video montage of Che's life Refreshments will be served Admission is free Panelists: Professor August Nimtz, University of Minnesota, Minnesota Cuba Committee Ernie Mailhot, Socialist Workers Party Raudemar Hernandez, lecturer/practitioner of Afro-Cuban culture (invited) Sponsored by La Raza Student Cultural Center and the Minnesota Cuba Committee For more information: Caitlin Weis, 651 418-9337 * Parking and directions: http://www.coffman.umn.edu/about/directions.php?PHPSESSID=d43e867e27a1ebe822fc0a7a8e2df45a --------6 of 22-------- From: David Strand <mncivil [at] yahoo.com> Subject: World AIDS Day 11.30 6:30pm http://www.mnaidsproject.org/worldaids2007.html A World AIDS Day 2007 Event Hope for the future, stopping HIV through cutting edge research On Friday, November 30, The HIV/AIDS Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, The HIV Services Planning Council, Hennepin County Medical Center Positive Care Clinic, and the Minnesota AIDS Project are commemorating World AIDS Day 2007 at Intermedia Arts with an event focusing on hope for the future of people living with HIV through cutting edge research. This is an exciting time in the world of HIV treatment as many new potent HIV medications are on or about to come to market. These new medications offer hope especially for those who have exhausted their medication options along with anyone living with HIV who is on HIV medication therapy. Along with these new medications, the evening will focus on cutting edge research in the areas of gene therapy, vaccine research, and microbicide development. Martin Delaney, founder of Project Inform, will be coming from California to give a presentation on these new medications and cutting edge HIV treatment research. Martin is masterful at presenting this material in a way that is easy to understand whether you're a person living with HIV or a trained clinician. Along with Martin, there will be community speakers talking about the message of hope they are imparting to the HIV community. The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with socializing and appetizers by Chef Todd followed by the presentation beginning at 7:00 p.m. Whether you have HIV or care for those who do, this is an amazing opportunity to learn about some of the most exciting and promising research being conducted in the fight against HIV. Overflow parking is available at the Egg and I restaurant adjacent to Intermedia Arts: 2822 Lyndale Ave. S. Minneapolis. --------7 of 22-------- From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] mppeace.org> Subject: WW Jesus Buy?/f 11.30 7:20pm What Would Jesus Buy? Opens Friday, November 30, 2007 Landmark Edina Cinema 3911 West 50th Street, Edina November 30-December 6 - 1:50 | 4:30 | 7:20 | 9:50 After December 6 - Check with theater Check out our homegrown activists in one of the most fun anti-consumerism demonstrations to ever hit the Twin Cities! The charismatic Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir take us on a cross-country crusade to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse! Their mission begins on Black Friday, when families bloated from their Thanksgiving turkeys spend the night freezing in mile-long lines to trample each other at early bird sales. Reverend Billy is here to invade the parking lots and temples of commerce, to liberate consumers from their corporate trances. From preaching at the Mall of America, to exorcising the demons from Wal-Mart HeadquartersReverend Billy takes his gospel to the Promised Land. Changelujah! The Shopocalypse is upon us "Who will be saved?" Must-see viewing before you head to the mall. Produced by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and directed by Rob VanAlkemade. Director: Rob VanAlkemade MPAA Rating: PG [MOA/Wallmart rating: $#&@!] Run Time: 1hr 31mins Release Year: 2007 Country of Origin: USA Official Web Site: http://www.wwjbmovie.com/ Edina Theater Showtimes and Tickets: https://tickets.landmarktheatres.com/Landmark.aspx?TheatreID=266 [How is the Walton family to make even more money every year if you don't spend spend spend? They are building a pile of gold to the moon, and you can help. -ed] --------8 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Gender violence 11.30 7:30pm Friday, 11/30, 7:30 to 8:30 pm, Women's Program staff of the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights presents a short presentation and discussion on local and international work related to gender violence, Common Roots Cafe, 2558 Lyndale Ave S, Mpls. http://www.mnadvocates.org --------9 of 22-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: NOW/rigged vote 11.30 8:30pm NOW | Will the 2008 Elections Be Free and Fair? http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/112907U.shtml How safe is your right to vote? Former Justice Department official and voting rights activist David Becker, who worked under both President Bush and President Clinton, alleges a systematic effort to deny the vote to hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. --------10 of 22-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: Moyers/Israel 11.30 9pm Bill Moyers Journal | Middle East Peace? http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/112907V.shtml In the wake of this week's peace summit in Annapolis, Bill Moyers Journal profiles the politically powerful group Christians United for Israel (CUFI), whose leader, Pastor John Hagee, wants to bring millions of Christians together to support Israel. --------11 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Homeless vets 12.01 10am Saturday, 12/1, 10 to 11:30 am, meeting of Homeless Veterans for Peace, Peacehouse, 510 E Franklin, Mpls. Bob 612-789-9020. --------12 of 22-------- From: Leslie Reindl <alteravista [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Screw the king 12.01 10:30am [ed head] Sat. Dec. 1, 10:30-12:30: Walk Away from the King - Here's How! Discussion and Reporting Merriam Park Library, Corner of Marshall and Fairview, Saint Paul (BYO Coffee) These meetings spring from the belief that the current economic system is unsustainable and destructive. They are intended to begin concrete in-the-world projects that offer alternatives to this system. They are free and open to all. One goal of the meetings is to gather a critical number of people who are able and willing to engage in the action research of creating real world economic and social alternatives. Here are some steps we might take, to build the road while walking on it: * A cooperative business proposition, with groundwork already in place, that will serve as an economic engine (and real-world model) for a dynamic scale-appropriate alternative to capitalism, grounded in the Commons (report) * Research into what other groups are doing, to learn what is working, around the U.S. and in other countries. Are there models that we can adapt or learn from? Can we connect and cross pollinate with groups who share our sense of urgency, and the willingness to think, step and live in new ways? * Spiritual and cultural reinforcement and support as as we chart and begin to explore unknown territory * Spreading the idea locally, via the film "What a Way to Go," or other venues, learning circles, meetings or gatherings Come meet with other like-minded people and get started "doing"! [For others, there's the Rosy Buttsitters, dedicated to developing couch potatoism into an Olympic sport. (USA! USA!) For yet others, there's the Deer-in-the-Headlights Freeze and Stare group, where you stand statue still on a public corner, eyes glazed over as if watching TV, moaning softly ooohhhh ooohhhh ooohhhh under your breath. -ed] --------13 of 22-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P-Minnetonka 12.01 11am NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7 and 101. Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available. ------14 of 22-------- From: Andrew Abruzzese <spreadleft [at] hotmail.com> Subject: GreenParty StP 12.01 12noon Our Monthly Membership Meeting for December 2007 is this coming Saturday. 12/01/07 12:00-2:00 Mississippi Market (Selby/Dale) Agenda: Treasurer's Report (5 min) Committee Reports (20 min) IRV Action Communication Memb/Fin State CC Rep Report (15 min) Early 2008 fundraiser, preferences for date/time/location (15 min) We will discuss information gathered so far regarding date/time/locations for an early 2008 fundraiser and what remains to be planned. January elections (5 min) We will discuss plans for GPSP officer elections in January. We will discuss the need for ample member turnout at the January meeting, and the need for candidates for the various offices. Strategic Plan follow-up session, preferences for date/time/location (10 min) We will discuss a potential strategic planning session follow-up for early 2008- dates/times/locations Caucus Night (15 min) Will discuss GPSP plans for 2008 caucus night, taking stock of GPMN's plans as they stand at this time. GPSP involvement in local issues and events (15 min) We will hear reports from members who have attended community meetings, forums, etc on issues of local concern, such as LRT, Rock-Tenn, 08 Republican Convention, etc. Announcements Andrew Abruzzese co-chair, Green Party of Saint Paul 651-917-2846 --------15 of 22-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P Plymouth vigil 12.01 1pm NWN4P Plymouth vigil, every Saturday, 1-2 PM The "New Hope vigil" has moved to County Rd. 9 (also known as Rockford Rd. or 42nd Avenue N.) and Vinewood, one block east of 494, for the winter months. You may park in the lot between Chilis and Bakers Square. Express your thoughts on your own sign or feel free to use one of ours. Vinewood is the entrance to Target Greatland and Rainbow. Please join us; all are welcome. --------16 of 22-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Tech-share 12.01 1pm LOCAL OPEN SOURCE GEEKS TO HOST RAPID FIRE TECH-SHARING EVENT Short Circuits to be held Dec. 1, 1pm at Acadia Café Open Circuit, a local technology-sharing group, will be hosting their first event Sat., Dec 1 at 1pm at Acadia Café. The event, entitled Short Circuits, will consist of a series of 10-15 minute presentations about using open source technology to better our community. Open Circuit was established this summer out of the desire for local open source technology enthusiasts to share knowledge and educate others. Amanda Luker, a longtime volunteer at Arise! Bookstore in south Minneapolis, helped found the group out of a desire to find people struggling with similar issues. "In many activist and nonprofit organizations, the volunteers or staff managing websites or other technology pieces are self-taught or overworked -- or both. Having a network to share information and ask questions is something we desperately need, and fits with our ideals of 'open source' information." Internet marketer and citizen journalist Bretton Jones joined Open Circuit out of a desire to aid local nonprofits and community organizations. These organizations "can easily boost their messages via community and social media networks, building bridges to new, young audiences of helpful volunteers." Jones will be presenting on web video production and syndication method. Local Flash developer and open source enthusiast Thomas Saunders views his interaction with computers akin to interaction with a musical instrument. "You can do some cool things with your own instrument, but you can't have a symphony without a large group of people learning, sharing, practicing, and playing together, and that's how I kind of view this organization." Anyone is welcome to sign up and present on a project they are working on (open source is encouraged, but not required). A projector, laptop and PA will be provided for the presentations. Each presentation will be followed by a short time for questions or feedback. A few examples of some presentations are: 1. Building a community wireless mesh network 2. Video blogging 3. Social media utilization 4. Making 3 dimensional panoramas with flash and Papervision3d, an open source Flash 3d engine 5. Drupal-based site hosting a database of youth media projects 6. Free educational software for teaching the building blocks of programming More information is available at http://tcopencircuit.org/ The cost of the event is $5. Open Circuit is a Twin Cities knowledge-sharing network working to demystify computers and information technology. They foster the free circulation of technical knowledge to help community organizations increase their organizing capacity and improve the common good. If you would like more information about this topic, please call Amanda Luker at 612-590-3276 or email Open Circuit at admin [at] lists.tcopencircuit.org. [If you would like less information, call Tim Pawlenty or George Bush -ed] --------17 of 22-------- From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] mppeace.org> Subject: Spaghetti/YAWR 12.01 6pm Spaghetti Dinner Benefit for Youth Against War and Racism eat delicious food, support your local anti-war movement! Saturday, December 1, 2007 6:00-9:00 p.m. Walker Community United Methodist Church 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN As you probably know, Youth Against War and Racism is building for a metro-wide student walkout on November 16th. This event will be a great opportunity for young people around the Twin Cities to protest and get active against the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment in schools. However, this event is costing us A LOT of money. We've already printed thousands of fliers that have been passed out in area high schools, as well as making buttons, posters and banners to advertise. On top of that, we have the expenses of putting on the event itself, paying for our full-time activist Tyrus, as well as the other day-to-day costs of running our organization. YAWR doesn't get any big donations from corporations, and we definitely do not have the money to match the over-inflated budget of the Pentagon. We rely exclusively on donations from our supporters to keep going. In other words, we are counting on YOU! That's why we are organizing a Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser on December 1st. This will be a great way to support the work we do, and eat some delicious food prepared by youth activists! It will also be a great opportunity to hear from students involved in the anti-war movement, and we also plan on providing some entertainment as well. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to <mailto:against.war [at] gmail.com>against.war [at] gmail.<mailto:against.war [at] gmail.com>com as soon as possible! Tickets range from $10-$100, and please let us know how many people you're bringing with you so we can ensure we've got enough food! Thanks again for your support, and we'll see you on December 1st! Youth Against War and Racism (612) 532-1980 www.yawr.org www.myspace.com/yawrmn <mailto:against.war [at] gmail.com>against.war [at] gmail.com --------18 of 22-------- From: Richard Broderick <richb [at] lakecast.com> Subject: Jarvi/poetry 12.01 8pm Saturday, December 1: Please join Diane Jarvi/Jarvenpa at "Wild Night at the Black Dog," a reading/performance to celebrate the publication of The Tender Wild Things, her latest collection of poems, and Wild Gardens, her new CD from Lupine Records. The event is taking place at 8:00 p.m. at the Black Dog Cafe, in Lowertown St. Paul, 308 Prince. Admission is free -- call 651/228-9274 if you need directions. Jarvi/Jarvenpa, whose grandparents were all born in Finland, grew up in the Twin Cities, but has performed extensively abroad where she is known as "Minnesota¹s Nightingale." Her CD¹s are an eclectic blend of original material, Finnish folk songs, blues, and world music, including songs from Spain, Provence, Russia, Sweden, France, and elsewhere. She has studied music in Finland and, besides playing the guitar, is a master of the 5, 8, 10, 15 and 36-string kantele, a folk harp native to Finland. Of her singing voice, Ron Hubbard of the Pioneer Press has written that it is "marvelously versatile, alternatively soothing or scintillating, but always soulful," while poet Thomas R. Smith praises her newest collection of verse as "wonderful poems, musical to their core" ! --------19 of 22-------- News Not Fit to Print US Coup Planned for Venezuela? By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch November 29, 2007 The New York Times had a news article about Venezuela in Thursday's edition, but it was about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saying he would cut diplomatic ties with neighboring Colombia. There wasn't a word about a memo from a CIA operative in Caracas to CIA Director General Michael Hayden, uncovered yesterday, outlining a plan for interfering with a Venezuelan referendum set for Dec. 2, and laying out the steps for instigating and backing a coup. The plot, called "Operation Pliers," and laid out in the letter to Hayden by an undercover operative named Michael Steele, who reportedly works in the US Embassy as a "regional affairs officer," was intercepted by Venezuelan intelligence and released publicly on state TV yesterday. In the Nov. 20-dated letter, Steele refers to an $8 million US-funded in-country propaganda campaign against Chavez and the referendum, already being implemented, which is designed to institutionalize many of Chavez's socialist reforms and to permit him to continue to run for president beyond his current two-term limit. He proposes trying to stall the referendum, which pro-Chavez forces are expected to win handily, and failing that, to then promote a campaign to refuse to accept the results. Steele further confirms that the agency is working with international news agencies in an effort to distort reports about the referendum and the reforms. (CNN had to apologize for a "mistake" which led to the words "Who killed him?" superimposed over a photo of Chavez broadcast on CNN's Spanish-language international broadcast in Venezuela. Was this a deliberate CIA-inspired black-op?) Among the tactics Steele recommends in his letter are: * Promoting street demonstrations and violent protests * Creating a climate of ungovernability * Provoking a general uprising * Working through the US military attache at the embassy to coordinate with ex-military officers and former coup plotters against Chavez. Even more darkly, the letter calls for initiating "military actions" to support opposition mobilizations and strategic building occupations, involving US military bases in neighboring Curacao and Colombia to provide support, and even taking control of parts of Venezuela in the days after the referendum, while encouraging a "military rebellion" inside the Venezuelan National Guard. The CIA communication has been reported in articles filed by the Associated Press, but the Times and other major US news organizations have not mentioned it. Instead, the Times today ran a column by Roger Cohen, which compares Chavez to the fascists of 1930s Europe, and which calls for defeat of the referendum. (Are Cohen and the Times part of the CIA's propaganda campaign?) The Cohen column is so rabid that it would be almost comical, were it not for the fact that there is a real threat of a bloody CIA-inspired coup in the democratic nation of Venezuela. In fact, I thought it would be fun and instructive to alter Cohen's hit piece a bit, substituting the US for Venezuela, and Bush and Cheney for Chavez, to show its hypocrisy. Here then, a sample of the only lightly tweaked column: Shutting Up America's Bush and Cheney By Roger Cohen (courtesy of editing by Dave Lindorff) It was a fascist general in 1930s Spain who coined the phrase "Viva la muerte!" or "Long live death!" Essentially meaningless, the words captured the cult of soil, blood and savagery that coursed through European Fascism, in its Francoist and other forms. President Bush and Vice President Cheney hate Islamo-fascists; they are central to their repertoire of insults. But they have not hesitated to deploy the imagery of death to bolster their rightist brand of petro-authoritarianism, now operating under the ludicrous banner of "Homeland, Free Markets and Democracy!" The slogan looks almost quaint in its anachronism. Bush and Cheney would no doubt claim American Revolutionary, rather than Spanish fascist, roots for it (Patrick Henry also invoked liberty and finality). The bottom line is this. America's oil-gilded caudillos are getting serious about instituting executive rule, much like Franco and Mussolini. I might add Vladimir Putin to that list. Like the Russian leader, Bush and Cheney have already used fears of terrorism, a pliant judiciary, subservient institutions like the Congress, and the galvanizing appeal of vitriolic anti-Arabism to concoct a 21st-century authoritarianism, complete with gulags and arrest and indefinite detention without charge. But even Putin has not contemplated going as far as Bush and Cheney with their doctrine of pre-emptive war and "regime change" abroad. Americans will vote next November most likely between two candidates for president who endorse many of the new powers already claimed by Bush and Cheney, and the Congress, even under Democratic control, continues to grant them additional powers, including the power to conduct sweeping spying on electronic communications without any court order or demonstration of probable cause, the power to declare martial law anywhere in the country on the slightest of pretexts, and the power to expropriate private property of those deemed to be "threatening" the American occupation in Iraq. "The measures amount to a constitutional coup," said Teodoro Petkoffetc. Bush's and Cheney's grab for emperor status is grotesque and dangerous - as Fascism was - a terrible example for a world that is moving towards democracy. Venezuela's Chavez got it right when he told the assembled delegates at the United Nations General Assembly, shortly after President Bush had left the podium after addressing the same group, that he could still "smell the sulfur" left in the room by the American president. -- Of course, we in America only read such things about foreign governments, not about our own. Which may explain why despite the constitutional coup that has been occurring in the US over the last seven years, we have yet to see any hearing in the Judiciary Committee on the impeachable crimes of Bush and Cheney. 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 --------20 of 22-------- The Plot to Rig the 2008 US Election by Johann Hari In the long, hot autumn of 2000, the world was shocked by the contempt for democracy shown by the Republican Party. They knew their man had lost the popular vote to Al Gore by half a million votes. They knew the majority of voters in Florida itself had pulled a lever for Gore. But they fought - amid the confetti of hanging chads - to stop the state's votes being counted, and to ensure that the Supreme Court imposed George W Bush. Today, that contempt for democracy is on display again. In California right now, there is a naked, out-in-the-open ploy to rig the 2008 presidential election - and it may succeed. To understand how this works, we have to roam back to the 18th century, and learn about the odd anachronistic leftover they are trying to use now to thwart democracy. Back then, America's founding fathers decided not to introduce a system where US presidents would be directly elected, with the votes totted up in Washington, DC, and the winner being the man with the most. Instead, they chose a complex system called the electoral college. This stipulates that American citizens do not vote directly for a president. Instead, they technically vote for 539 state-wide "electors", who then gather six weeks after the election to pick the President. The founders designed it this way for a number of reasons. They wanted the smaller states to have a say, so they gave them a disproportionate number of electoral college votes. They also believed that, in a country that was largely isolated and illiterate, voters wouldn't know much about out-of-state figures, and would be better off picking intermediaries who could exercise discretion on their behalf. It is the worst part of the Constitution, producing perverse results again and again. On four occasions there has been such a big gap between the national popular vote and the state-by-state electoral college votes that the guy with fewer real supporters in the country got to be President. It happened in 1824, 1876, 1888 and - most tragically for the world - in 2000. Today, the Republicans are trying to exploit the discontent with the electoral college among Americans in a way that would rig the system in their favour. At the moment, every state apart from Maine and Nebraska hands out its electoral college votes according to a winner-takes-all system. This means that if 51 per cent of people in California vote Democrat, the Democrats get 100 per cent of California's electoral votes; if 51 per cent of people in Texas vote Republican, the Republicans get 100 per cent of Texas. electoral votes. The Republicans want to change this - but in only one Democrat-leaning state. California has gone Democratic in presidential elections since 1988, and winning the sunny state is essential if the Democrats are going to retake the White House. So the Republicans have now begun a plan to break up California's electoral college votes - and award a huge chunk of them to their side. They have launched a campaign called California Counts, and they are trying to secure a state-wide referendum in June to implement their plan. They want California's electoral votes to be divvied up not on a big state-wide basis, but according to the much smaller congressional districts. The practical result? Instead of all the state's 54 electoral college votes going to the Democratic candidate, around 20 would go to the Republicans. If this was being done in every state, everywhere, it would be an improvement. California's forgotten Republicans would be represented in the electoral college, and so would Texas's forgotten Democrats. But by doing it in California alone, they are simply giving the Republicans a massive electoral gift. Suddenly it would be extremely hard for a Democrat ever to win the White House; they would need a landslide victory everywhere else to counter this vast structural imbalance against them on the West Coast. You can see this partisan agenda if you look at who is behind the campaign. It was set up by Charles "Chep" Hurth III - a Republican donor to Rudy Giuliani. It was drafted by Tom Hiltachk - a Republican attorney. Its signature drive was co-ordinated by Kevin Eckery - a Republican consultant. Its funds were provided by Paul Singer - a Republican billionaire and one of Rudy Giuliani's biggest donors. Its chief fundraiser is Anne Dunsmore - who went there straight from her post as national deputy campaign manager for Giuliani. Seeing a pattern yet? Indeed, this bias is so blatant that the state Republican Party itself has now chipped in $80,000 (39,000) to the campaign. Of course, the campaign is not marketing itself as a Republican rigging escapade. They insist: "This initiative is not about helping any one party or candidate. It simply ensures that every vote cast in our state counts in the electoral college". But the best they can do to provide "balance" is to point to the fact that one of the men who has given them $20,000, Edward Allred, once also gave $2,300 to the campaign of Democratic contender Bill Richardson. Wow. There is a real risk they could succeed. They are close to getting the number of signatures they need to secure a referendum in June. (The Los Angeles Downtown News claims to have witnessed signature-gatherers offering homeless people food in return for signing.) The turnout for the referendum is expected to be extremely low, because the state-wide primaries usually held on that date have been moved forward to February. So the Republicans only have to activate a small part of their base to push it through - and they have the cash to do it. California dreamin', on such a winter's day. The Democrats in response shouldn't be trapped in the conservative position of defending the indefensible electoral college. There is an alternative way to reform it - one that would be fair to all parties. It used to be thought it was all but impossible to ditch the system because it would require a constitutional amendment, which needs the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress, plus three-quarters of state legislatures. But then constitutional scholars realised there was another way. The Constitution only requires that each state must "appoint" its presidential electors "in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct". That leaves a glimmer of hope. The Campaign for a National Popular Vote is campaigning for every state simply to commit its delegates to the electoral college to vote 100 per cent for the candidate who wins the popular vote. This would render the electoral college a forgotten technicality. It's very revealing that when the California state senate voted to introduce this genuinely democratic system last year, the Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it, with the support of his party. It shows that the Republicans' rhetoric of wanting "fairness" and "equal representation" in California is a honeyed lie. They want a system that retains their power, even if it subverts the will of the people. It risks becoming Florida Part II: just when you thought it was safe to go back into the polling booth. Fasten your seatbelts - it's going to be a bumpy election. .j.hari@ independent.co.uk 2007 The Independent --------21 of 22-------- Black Friday Die Die Die by Mark Morford Published on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle America's most obscene shopping day meets its doom in an oily nightmare hell. All true! Is this why they hate us? Why we hate ourselves? Is this why we seem to have no real idea who the hell we are anymore, or what it means to have a humane and thoughtful national identity, and therefore we happily scratch and claw and fight our way into giant fluorescent-lit hellpits for a chance at a $29 DVD player and some crappy plasma TVs and a pallet of heavily discounted spatulas? More broadly: Is this why we're suffering such a general feeling of ennui and disgust and apathy in the culture right now, the nagging feeling that we have no center and God has abandoned us and we therefore simply cannot consume enough goods and technology to try and fill the void? The answer seems rather obvious. I don't even know what Kohl's is. I'm guessing some sort of mass-crap superstore, like Best Buy or Target or T.J. Maxx or a weird amalgam of all of those and it doesn't really matter because last Friday they opened at 4 a.m. for the mad rush of Black Friday shoppers, because if there's one thing you want to do when your body is groggy and sleep tugs at your heart and your dreams have turned vacant and sad, it's grope cheap waffle makers before sunrise. Wal-Mart opened at 5. Target opened at 6. Across America, gluttony ruled. There were stores that had nothing whatsoever to do with gifting or holiday largess, stores with names like Cabinetry and More or Rug Depot that nevertheless opened at 6 or 7 a.m. on that now-ominous, insane, fateful day, if for no other reason than to capitalize on the fact that there were so many franctic zombified credit-carded bodies swarming about and it would be foolish not to take advantage. Some say Christmas day most accurately captures the true nature of the American spirit. Some say it's Easter. Or the Fourth of July. They are all wrong. Black Friday has become, far and away, the most glorious expression of the true American idea, the gleaming capitalist leviathan at its most violent and orgasmic. Deny it at your peril. Every year, there are new layers, new strata of absurdity. This year, retailers were reportedly angry that there are now a few blogs dedicated entirely to Black Friday sales, and those blogs were posting secret inside info on which particular items the various stores had marked down for the supersale, those bait-and-switch items on which the shops willingly take a huge loss in order to lure in shoppers in the hopes they will grab not only the $8 electric skillet but also an expensive digital camera and what the hell, a new stove and a drill set and a car. Which reminds me of the nice discussion I had over Thanksgiving dinner about oil. My dinnermate's belief was that, as oil prices creep up and gas prices inch toward four, five, 10 bucks a gallon in the U.S. over the next decade, one of the first things to suffer will be the megastores, the Wal-Marts and the Targets and their Black Friday-promoting ilk, and not merely because their transportation costs will skyrocket and it will be increasingly unfeasible for them to ship their sweatshop crap over from China and then truck it from the docks to the individual stores. No, he suggested Wal-Mart and its rapacious brethren will begin to fade because people in the more rural parts of America will refuse to pay the 10 or 15 bucks in fuel costs for a round-trip drive to the nearest big box mega-outlet just to get some crackers and shampoo and some nails. Instead, they will return to shopping locally, in their own neighborhoods and downtowns, where the shops are smaller and the hardware store owner knows them personally. They might still haul ass to Wal-Mart once a month for a serious shopping excursion, but that won't be enough for the big boxers to stay in business for long. And lo, the world will improve. A little. I am not so certain. Firstly, I do not underestimate the power of Wal-Mart, et al to viciously alter the time/space continuum for their own benefit, and to figure out a way around the transport issue, perhaps by cutting the pay of their sweatshop workforce from eight cents a month to four and by strapping enormous pallets of crappy ink-jet printers and porcelain Jesus figurines to the backs of trained dolphins and send them over from Shanghai. They are just that kind of malevolent. More importantly, I also just read the disturbing piece in the New Yorker about the massive new oil boom, how the petroleum titans are right now stampeding into Canada to lay claim to the land and build massive facilities for the extraction of a heavy hydrocarbon called bitumen from the enormous deposits of tar sand found there, in order to convert it into synthetic crude oil. It is but one of a slew of new, hugely destructive oil-conversion techniques. They say there is enough bitumen intermixed with the sand that, if extracted and converted on a mass scale, it would guarantee sufficient oil for generations to come. Until recently, the extraction process was prohibitively expensive. Not anymore. As long as oil stays at or above $100 a barrel and people unflinchingly pay 4 or 5 bucks a gallon for gas, well, this brutal new technique will be insanely profitable indeed. There are, as you might imagine, horrific drawbacks to this reeking, stinking, violent process, not the least of which is the appalling decimation of the natural landscape and the poisoning of the surrounding lakes and water basins and the horrid economic lopsidedness and the nuclear reactors currently being proposed to power the insane operations, not to mention appalling levels of greenhouse gas emissions (much higher than current refineries), massive water use, and the fact that, should these systems become deeply entrenched, big oil will continue to have a stranglehold on U.S. policy and the American identity for decades to come. These pits, these new facilities are pure ecological nightmares. What's worse, nothing is stopping the new onrush. They are building them as fast as they can, with no limitation in sight. Bush just smirks. The GOP just gloats. Iraq roils on. Should the boom continue, not even the most liberal, environmentally conscious presidential administration in the world would be able to stop it. There is simply too much money to be made. And hence, far from moving away from oil and investigating alternative fuels and taking global warming seriously, the most powerful and bloodthirsty among us are still racing full speed ahead, in the worst possible direction. This was my counterpoint, that until there's a profound shift in how we approach the world, in how we view the goods we buy, in how Black Friday and the rape of Canada are grossly, inextricably connected, we cannot affect much change. Much as I love the green movement and the Buy Nothing movement and the Slow Food movement and all the rest, in the face of the countless billions still to be made by raping the planet for oil, they're merely the equivalent of trying to water the rainforest with an eyedropper. There was only one thing left to do. We both raised our wine glasses for a humble toast to the belief that man is, at heart, a deeply benevolent creature, and that a true sea change is coming (we just can't quite see it yet), that we as a species will wake up and see our way clear very soon, if not sooner. I'm quite sure we finished the bottle. Thoughts for the author? E-mail him. Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle. The San Francisco Chronicle --------22 of 22-------- I Hear America Bleating I hear America bleating, the varied baa-baa's I hear, Each bleating what belongs to him and her and everyone else, Bleating with open mouths their strong malodorous baa's. ed Thanks for improving my poem. I would have done it myself, but I am, alas, dead. -Walt Whitman ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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