|Progressive Calendar 01.19.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 06:52:07 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.19.08 1. Atheist event 1.19 10am 2. NWN4P-Minnetonka 1.19 11am 3. NewHope vigil 1.19 1pm 4. Northtown vigil 1.19 2pm 5. Cops/your rights 1.19 5pm 6. Candlelight ski 1.19 6pm 7. Palestine 1.19 9pm 8. Atheist/sex/AM950 1.20 10am 9. Palestine 1.20 11:15am 10. Mississippi 1.20 12noon 11. Stillwater vigil 1.20 1pm 12. Atheist/sex/meet 1.20 1pm 13. AI 1.20 3pm 14. Weather undrgrnd 1.20 3pm 15. Atheist/AA 1.20 6pm 16. KFAI/Indian 1.20 7pm 17. Kip Sullivan - Report cards won't improve health care 18. John Jonik - Private insurance is bad for your health 19. Ralph Nader - Predatory lending 20. Patrick Irelan - Saving the American empire with eternal war 21. Paul A Moore - How to destroy the public schools 22. ed - bumpersticker --------1 of 22-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Atheist event 1.19 10am Saturday, January 19, 10 am to Noon. West Metro Critical Thinking Club. New location: The Cliffs, 12300 Marion Lane W. Minnetonka 55305 (North of Ridgedale.) Professor Gerald Smith presents an "Introduction to Critical Thinking." RSVP to think-rsvp [at] markpaquette.com. --------2 of 22-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P-Minnetonka 1.19 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. --------3 of 22-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NewHope vigil 1.19 1pm Saturday, 1-2PM - Weekly NWN4P vigil for peace in New Hope at the corner of 42nd (Co. Rd. 9) and Winnetka Ave. N. We usually park in the Walgreen's lot or near McDonald's. You may use one of our signs or bring your own. All welcome. Carole-763-546-5368. --------4 of 22-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 1.19 2pm Below are the people of the peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av.), every Saturday 2:00 -- 3:00 PM. If "We the People" want to stop warfare and militarism, then we should not yield to the deceptive siren songs coming from the electoral contest of the two-headed party of the establishment. We should redouble our efforts instead. One form of action is to cover all the junctions of the Twin Cities metro area with small groups of peace vigils, such as the Northtown group below. Already there are about 14-15 such groups. If each of the 70 organizations of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) alone creates two such groups of 4-7 people each, we are going to jam the cities with messages of peace and we will show the aspiring politicos that we do not fool around with the important matter of war or peace. And they will have to tell us clearly where they stand. We have had enough of wishy-washy talk." We the People" must make clear to them that we are very well aware of our constitutional powers as well as of their constitutional obligations. --------5 of 22-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Cops/your rights 1.19 5pm Saturday, 1/19, 5 to 7 pm, Communities United Against Police Brutality conducts training session "Know Your Rights When Dealing with the Police," Arise Bookstore, 2441 Lyndale Ave S, Mpls. http://www.cuapb.org --------6 of 22-------- From: Diane J. Peterson <birch7 [at] comcast.net> Subject: Candlelight ski 1.19 6pm Wild River Candlelight Ski Includes Music, Bonfire, Hiking, Stargazing LOCATION: Wild River State Park is located 3 miles north of Minnesota Highway 95 at Almelund, halfway between Taylors Falls and North Branch. For park information, call (651) 583-2125 or visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/wild_river/index.html. EVENT DESCRIPTION Wild River State Park's Candlelight Ski-Snowshoe-Hike on the evening of Saturday, January 19, a few days before the full moon, will be an enjoyable time no matter what kind of snow conditions we have. The event lasts from 6 to 9 PM and includes a hiking/snowshoe trail to a bonfire on Amador Prairie, live music at the Trail Center; and environmental education programs at the Visitor Center. Come to ski several candle-lit trail loops, to enjoy the annual bonfire, to view the winter sky through telescopes, or for the music, or combine several activities. If there's not enough snow for skiing, trails will be lighted for walking instead. If there is enough snow for skiing, a route from the Trail Center to the Visitor Center and a route to the bonfire will still be lighted for those who would rather walk or snowshoe. SPONSORS Sponsored by the Friends of Wild River State Park and supported by National Honor Society students from the North Branch School system. MORE DETAILS Being outdoors on a winter night with the light of the moon and hundreds of candles is a near-magical experience that appeals to people of all ages. For additional entertainment, Gigi Nauer will provide live music at the Trail Center. "Prairie Passage", a short program of nature photographs and music commemorating the park's Prairie Care landscape restoration project, will be offered at the Visitor Center at various times throughout the evening. The park's 5½-foot bull snake, Ripley, will star in a show-and-tell presentation in the Visitor Center for most of the evening. Get a close look at this fascinating animal. Sky conditions permitting, astronomy enthusiast Kenny Bahmer will have two telescopes set up for sky viewing a short distance to the west of the Trail Center parking lot. You may be able to get a magnified view of the magnificent Orion Nebula and other features of the winter sky. If conditions are cloudy, Kenny will set up one of the telescopes at the Visitor Center instead to provide an opportunity to see how a 10-inch Dobsonian scope works. Light refreshments will be available at the Visitor Center and Trail Center. [The Icicle Soup is fabulous, followed by Double-Frozen Ice-Cream -ed] SKIS Ski rentals are available at the Trail Center or by advance reservation by calling (651) 257-0685. SNOWSHOES Snowshoes are available for rental at the park office on a first-come, first-served basis (no reservations). ADMISSION: A Minnesota State Park vehicle permit is required on each vehicle entering the park, and may be purchased at the park office the night of the event ($5 for a one-day permit, $25 for a twelve-month permit good at over 70 Minnesota State Parks). A Minnesota Ski Trail pass is also required for anyone over 15 who will be skiing. One-day ski passes ($5) are available at the park office. Annual ski passes ($15) may be purchased at businesses which offer the DNR Electronic Licensing System (ELS), or by filling out a mail-in application at the park office on your arrival. CONTACT Dave Crawford, Park Naturalist Wild River State Park 39797 Park Trail Center City, MN 55012 (651) 583-2925 dave.crawford [at] dnr.state.mn.us --------7 of 22--------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine 1.19 9pm Most excellent Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and Tuesdays at 8am. Households with basic cable may watch. Sat, 1/19 9pm and Tues, 1/22 8am "Ali Abunimah: Where Next for Palestine-Israel? Part 2" Talk by Palestinian American given at the U of M in Oct. '07. (a repeat) --------8 of 22-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Atheist/sex/AM950 1.20 10am Sunday, January 20, 9-10am "Atheists Talk", Air America Radio AM 950. Featured interview with Jennifer Tuder, who will perform "Sex Across the Curriculum" at the Minnesota Atheists Membership Meeting later that day. [I always knew atheism was the fast lane to sex sex and more sex. -ed] --------9 of 22-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Palestine 1.20 11:15am Anna Baltzer: "Witness in Palestine: A Jewish-American Woman in the Occupied Territories" Sunday, January 20, 11:15 a.m. Linden Hills United Church of Christ, 4200 Upton Avenue South, Minneapolis. Anna Baltzer, a Jewish-American Columbia University graduate, Fullbright scholar, and volunteer with the International Women's Peace Service, is currently touring the U.S. with a presentation and book describing her experiences documenting human-rights abuses in the West Bank and supporting Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. Anna's presentation covers checkpoints, Israeli activism, the Separation Wall, censorship, nonviolent resistance, and other topics rarely covered in mainstream U.S. media. FFI: Visit <www.annainthemiddleeast.com>. --------10 of 22-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Mississippi 1.20 12noon Vigil: Being With the Mississippi Sunday, January 20, Noon to 1:00 p.m. 10th Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River, Minneapolis. [Your chance to freeze your body for posterity or whenever they develop that medical procedure that will cure what everyone says is wrong with you. -ed] Last summer the Interstate 35 bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. Last week thousands of gallons of gasoline spilled into the Mississippi via the sewer system from a tanker accident in downtown Minneapolis on Interstate 394. The Mississippi is the aorta of North America. 18-million Americans drink from the Mississippi. Our bodies and the Earth are about 70-percent water. All water is connected. People are invited to be a presence at the Mississippi. Dress realistically, it might be windy. Bring chimes, bells, drums, your voice. Sponsored by: Friends of [Very] Coldwater. FFI: Visit <www.friendsofcoldwater.org>. --------11 of 22-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 1.20 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------12 of 22-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Atheist/sex/meet 1.20 1pm Sunday, January 20, 1-3:30pm. Minnesota Atheists Monthly Meeting, Ramsey County Library, Hamline Ave. and County Road B, Roseville. Dr. Jennifer Tuder, Prof of Communications and Theater at St. Cloud State University, presents "Sex Across the Curriculum." At 4:00, dinner [nudge nudge] at Panda Garden Buffet, 1706 Lexington Ave. N. For information, contact Steve Petersen, 651-484-9277. --------13 of 22-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: AI 1.20 3pm Amnesty International USA GROUP 37 JANUARY MEETING REMINDER: SUNDAY, JANUARY 20 - 3 TO 5 P.M. Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, January 20th, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. This month we have three speakers who will address the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants. Eduardo Cardenas is currently working as an organizer with Unite HERE local 17, a hotel and restaurant employee union representing thousands of immigrant workers in Minneapolis. Eduardo is a founding member of MIRAC (Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition), and has been a leading member of the Twin Cities Community Raid Response Team. Eduardo immigrated to the United States from Bogota Colombia in 1985 and holds a BA in International Relations from Boston University. Francisco E. Segovia has been the Center Director at Waite House since November of 2002. He is well known in the Minneapolis area as a trainer for and program developer of services to new immigrants from Latin America and East Africa. His educational background in teaching and computer technology and his experience as an English as a Second Language learner has allowed him to promote and implement creative initiatives in which job seekers can enhance their job seeking and job keeping skills. In November 2005, Francisco became involved with the pro-immigrant movement in Minneapolis. In early February, along with several other people, Francisco participated in the foundation of MIRAC. Kristen Melby is currently the regional organizer for Witness for Peace-Upper Midwest. She has been working with MIRAC and Raid Response Team. Previous to working and living in Minneapolis, Kristen spent time in Honduras and Guatemala. She spent 6 years working on an organic farm in southern Minnesota and teaching at a free-democratic school after college. The presentation will begin promptly at 3:00 and will run about an hour including time for questions and discussion. In our second hour, we will share actions on human rights cases around the world and get updates on the work of our sub-groups. All are welcome at the meeting, and refreshments will be provided. Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis (corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot behind the center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn). A map and directions are available on-line: http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html --------14 of 22-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Weather undrgrnd 1.20 3pm Ideas to Mobilize People Against Corporate Tyranny (IMPACT) upcoming events: Sun., Jan. 20, 3pm: Film and discussion: "The Weather Underground" [Will it be warmer than the weather aboveground? -ed] Documentary about the Weathermen, a radical group which declared a state of war against the institutions of American injustice. We'll use this chapter in the history of the '60s protest movement to begin discussion of tactics for today's movement(s). --------15 of 22-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Atheist/AA 1.20 6pm Sunday, January 20, 6:00 p.m. - Atheist/Agnostic AA, Men's Center, 3249 Hennepin Ave. # 55, Minneapolis, Jason Herrboldt. Open to men and women [nudge nudge]. Contact: MplsAtheistAgnosticAA [at] yahoo.com. --------16 of 22-------- From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at] spottedeagle.org> Subject: KFAI/Indian 1.20 7pm KFAI¹s Indian uprising for January 20, 2008 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT Guest producer and host, Clara NiiSka, has a conversation with Bernard Rock (Ojibwe) an Army veteran with his wife Feather (Cherokee) and Mark 'Tony' Erickson (Ojibwe) a Marine veteran, now a traditional singer, about healing from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), that has affected, unfortunately, untold numbers of soldiers that have served in combat zones. Bernard Rock, and his wife have spent over a decade and half contributing their time and working on behalf of Native Veterans and through the North Central Minnesota Native American Veterans Outreach and Resource Center. They operate the Center from their home on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, Minnesota. Bernard, Elder of the Ojibwe Wolf Clan, is a combat veteran of the Korean War. He was awarded three Purple Hearts for his combat wounds. He speaks of the urgency to help veterans heal not only physically and emotionally, but from the other wounds of war: the wounds of the spirit and heart. NiiSka (Ahnishinahbaeotjibway of the Bear Dodem) is completing a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Previously, she was a managing editor of the Native American Press newspaper, now published out of Bemidji, MN. She is presently co-host of KFAI's program, Womenfolk. Her website is www.anishinaabe.net. * * * * Indian Uprising a one-hour Public & Cultural Affairs program is for and by Native Indigenous People broadcast each Sunday at 7:00 p.m. CDT on KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul. Producer and host is volunteer Chris Spotted Eagle. KFAI Fresh Air Radio is located at 1808 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454, 612-341-3144. For internet listening, go to www.kfai.org and for live listening, click Play under ON AIR NOW or for later listening via the archives, click PROGRAMS & SCHEDULE > Indian Uprising > STREAM. Programs are archived for two weeks. --------17 of 22-------- Kip Sullivan: Report cards won't improve health care Proposals would apply some of the mistakes made under No Child Left Behind to hospitals and doctors. By KIP SULLIVAN Last update: January 7, 2008 - 6:03 PM If you liked the school report cards required by President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, you're just going to love the doctor and hospital report cards that will almost certainly be recommended by the two state health care commissions - the Health Care Access Commission and the grandly named Minnesota Health Care Transformation Task Force - due to report in the next few weeks. The supreme irony is that these calls for medical report cards will come in the midst of a tremendous backlash against the school report cards required by the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Teachers, parents and leaders of both political parties are fed up with NCLB school report cards. Those report cards have not been shown to improve the quality of education for all children, but they have driven up education costs, induced teachers to "teach to the tests," punished schools that serve an above-average number of disadvantaged children, induced some schools to get rid of troubled kids and triggered lawsuits by states and school districts against the federal government. We can expect similar mayhem from widespread implementation of No Patient Left Behind report cards. The best-documented example of a medical report card harming patients is the New York state report card on heart surgeons. A 2003 study said the report card led to "major adverse health consequences for sicker patients." At least three other studies reached similar conclusions about New York's heart surgery report card. This illustrates a serious problem with most of the studies on medical and school report cards: They tell you only about what the report cards measure; they tell you nothing about the unintended consequences, including the decline in quality of services rendered to patients and students whose care or education was unmeasured. The most serious indictment of medical report cards is identical to the most serious indictment of school report cards: Even though they fail to take into account factors outside of the doctor's or teacher's control, the report cards are nevertheless used to punish and reward doctors and teachers. To put this another way, even though we don't know why School A or Clinic A scored poorly on a report card, we're going to pretend the low grades were the teacher's or doctor's fault and punish them financially and with embarrassing publicity. Report cards used in this fashion are a prescription for disaster - for inducing good doctors and teachers to leave their profession, for punishing disadvantaged patients and students, and for wasting precious resources on "solutions" that may even make the problem worse. My criticism of report cards should not be construed to mean I think our education and health care systems are problem-free. To the contrary, I believe both systems suffer serious problems. But what is the cause of these problems? Report-card buffs assume defects in doctors and teachers, or clinics and schools, are the main problem. But they have no evidence for this claim. Advocates of medical report cards often state that doctors follow guidelines only half the time, but that claim is simply not supported by scientific evidence. It's true the research indicates patients do not get the care they need half the time. But the research does not tell us why. The causes of that problem are more likely to be high rates of uninsured people, a serious nurse shortage, crowded emergency rooms, sky-high drug prices, managed care and other factors far beyond the control of clinics and hospitals. Let's study the reasons American patients get half the care they need, and let's continue to do research on report cards. If by some chance it turns out report cards do more good than harm, and if it turns out spending money on them will accomplish more than spending money on other quality-improvement projects, then let's proceed with widespread implementation of medical report cards. But until then, let's ignore calls to endorse No Patient Left Behind. Kip Sullivan is the health systems analyst of the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition and the author of "The Health Care Mess: How We Got Into It and How We'll Get Out of It." --------18 of 22-------- Investing in Cancer Private Insurance is Bad for Your Health By JOHN JONIK CounterPunch January 18, 2008 Private health insurance is "oil" in the "water" of Public Health. They do not belong together. We have heard much about the redundancy, and excess, unnecessary costs of private insurance, and a lot about the horrors faced by those with and without coverage. But there are other basic, root issues that so far have not been widely addressed. The presidential campaign traveling show now offers opportunities to raise some of these questions. * Private insurers are invariably investors, with what was our health care money, in all sorts of industries, many of them being notorious for causing health problems. We know, from SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) material, that top insurers have been or still are multi million dollar investors in cigarette manufacturing! They may also invest in tobacco pesticides and even the firms that supply carcinogenic radioactive (!) fertilizers to tobacco growers...not to mention chlorine interests that are responsible for presence of dioxin in the smoke from adulterated products, agricultural firms that supply pesticide-contaminated crop ingredients, paper/pulp, sugar, burn accelerants, and flavorings/sweeteners/aromas etc from pharmaceutical firms. This glaring Conflict-of-Interest goes far to explain why we have a war on undefined, unanalyzed, unpatentable tobacco plants, and on smokers...on the unwitting victims of these fraudulently-marketed concoctions...instead of on the manufacturers and adulterant suppliers and their compliant agents in regulatory positions. No insurer with cigarette production holdings ought be anywhere near our health care system, and they certainly ought not be among those participating in compulsory programs. * If an insurer is invested in, or does business insurance with, pharmaceutical firms, such an insurer has motive, opportunity and fiduciary duty to promote its investment property's drugs over others that may be cheaper, more effective, and safer. Apparently, no laws prohibit this. Such an insurer has same motives to ignore, or not even look for, problems with drugs made by its investment properties. Such an insurer might also work to discredit, prohibit, or not authorize traditional natural unpatented drugs, herbs, vitamins, minerals and supplements. * An insurer invested in pesticides or bio-tech firms has a huge motive to ignore the harms and risks of pesticides (in typical cigarettes or elsewhere) and Genetically Engineered foods, and to fail to advise proper prevention such as avoidance of toxics and synthetics, and the use of organics. * With whatever control private insurers have over HMOs, hospitals, doctors, etc., one has to worry that patients may not receive proper medical diagnoses if medical staff avoids even looking for body burdens of industrial chemicals or radiation. It is hard to imagine how proper care can be administered if certain causes of illnesses are not sought or found. What we have with private, investor insurers is a "Company Doctor" situation like in the old Coal Mine Towns where a doctor finds that a miner has "a cold", not black lung disease caused by unsafe work conditions. Not a day goes by without reports that some natural thing, or peoples' "behavior", or natural plants (like tobacco), or "faulty" genes, or bad diet, or something ,causes such-and-such problems. We only hear about Industrial Causes when a problem becomes too big to cover-up. * Insurer investments create problems all over the board...as many, most, or all customers would not care to have this second-handed economic investment relationship with firms they may oppose for religious, moral, political, environmental or even business reasons. But who is told where an insurer invests? Who thinks to even ask? One would have to go to the significant trouble of navigating the SEC EDGAR Database, if they even knew such a thing existed. * No matter how the issue is sliced, one who patronizes a private insurer, either willingly or under gov't compulsion, therefore contributes funds to things that have nothing whatever to do with health OR the Public Interest. Besides the investment funds, these include advertising, campaign gifts to politicians, CEO bonuses, corporate conventions, corporate jets, lobbying, and even lawn care and brass polish at corporate headquarters. With no Public Interest relating to those matters, it is hard to see how compulsory insurance patronage can even be legal. * Speaking of legality, compelling the purchase of private health insurance services is importantly different from states' police-enforced compulsion on drivers to buy auto insurance. In that case, in order to comply with First Amendment prohibition on Compulsory Speech, officials point out that no one is forced to drive. However, with health insurance, the only ways to opt out legally, without penalty, would be to leave the country, or commit suicide. This Constitutional question needs to be addressed. Some presidential contenders seem resolved to commit perjury even as they take the oath of office, swearing to preserve, protect, and defend The Constitution. * Beside all that, private insurers must grow or face shareholder suits. This guarantees rate hikes forever. They have that motive and duty to charge as much as possible for services, and to provide the least possible in return. This is an unacceptable Adversarial situation. The United States public is capable of taking care of its own health system, as citizens of other countries manage quite well, without the questionable "help"...thanks anyway...from unnecessary, parasitic private insurers. The biggest hurdles the people face are corporatized mainstream media (including "public" broadcasting) and "public" (endless quotes, I know) officials who have gone AWOL from their duties to serve the public but who serve, instead, and above all, those insurers and any or all of their investment properties. John Jonik lives in Philadelphia. He can be reached at: j_jonik [at] yahoo.com [One more chapter of evidence for capitalism bad socialism good. Capitalism is so bad only billions spent every year for mind-numbing PR keeps citizens from rising up and booting it out. Time to un-numb our minds. Boot it thru the goalposts of nonexistence. -ed.] --------19 of 22-------- Predatory lending "Yes, Enough is Enough" When the Big Boys Get in Trouble, Who Pays the Ultimate Bill? By RALPH NADER CounterPunch January 17, 2008 I was at a large wedding reception in New York City that I saw Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, sitting down to dinner one spring evening in 2000. Having heard on the grapevine that the Federal Reserve was finally going to do something about predatory lending - an area of enforcement under their jurisdiction - I went over to his table and asked him this question: "Mr. Chairman, I hear that you are going to crack down on predatory lending practices." He nodded and said quite firmly, "Yes, Enough is Enough." Since it was, after all, a social occasion, those words were enough for me and I returned to my table with the good news. For years, my associates, Jon Brown and Jake Lewis, had been working to document the prevalence of predatory lending and communicate our concern to the federal banking agencies and members of Congress. Jon Brown developed detailed computerized maps of bank redlining in low-income areas, city by city, which were geographic guides to places where there were plenty of predatory lending practices. As it turned out, Chairman Greenspan's Federal Reserve did nothing about either traditional predatory lending or the rise of the latest version of that abusive pattern - the now notorious sub-prime mortgage scandals and mega-losses that are shaking the financial industry to its foundations Actually, Mr. Greenspan often lauded leveraged, collateralized sub-prime lending as helping lower-income people to get home mortgages. He did not give much weight to the deception and imprudence and gouging of the lenders lurking in the fine print and flowing from the silver tongues of the salespeople. The Federal Reserve touts itself as the agency where lots of smart people work - economists, statisticians, forecasters - and, of course, the often-described very smart Chairman. Yet as the speculative greed that developed, sold and resold ever more abstract and risky financial instruments comprised of bundled home mortgages went toward its final orbit of collapse, these "best and the brightest," failed to act. They failed to regulate. The business assault on regulation and its drumbeat demands for de-regulation over the past quarter century have now caused a burgeoning sub-prime mortgage collapse that is producing hundreds of thousands of home foreclosures. The housing market is plummeting. Giant banks are desperate for infusions of capital from abroad to save them from insolvency. Huge mortgage lenders are teetering on bankruptcy, looking desperately to be taken over by other financial companies. Foreign banks and municipalities around the world that assumed these risks are marking down big losses. All this has been caused by a combination of speculative greed, taking on huge risks for higher returns and the refusal to apply financial law and order - i.e. regulation - by the Bush regime. All this was preventable by institutional prudence and a vigilant Federal Reserve. So what are all these giant financial corporations on their knees begging for these grim days? They are begging the Federal Reserve to use every bit of its authority to save them through lower interest rates and by using a variety of other more abstruse tools the Fed has to rescue the very banks that help fund its budget and dominate the regional Boards of the Federal Reserve. It is true that corporate heads have rolled - most notably the CEOs of Citigroup and Merrill Lynch. By and large, however, the remaining top culprits who got their banks and mortgage lending firms into such deep losses for investor-share holders are staying put with their enormous compensation packages. When the big boys get into trouble, they expect Uncle Sam to bail them out. Who pays the ultimate bill? You guessed it. The small taxpayer and the consumer. So next time your hear the words - deregulation or over-regulation - by the thoughtless think tanks, heavily funded by business money, remind yourself that you believe in tough law and order for big business and your demand that politicians weigh in with a strong enforcement crackdown on corporate crime and fraud. Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions --------20 of 22-------- [The following is further evidence for the case made by John Perkins in "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man". - ed] Saving the American Empire with Robert Kaplan Eternal War By PATRICK IRELAN CounterPunch January 17, 2008 In the early 1990's, Robert Kaplan went to West Africa and saw the future: Disease, overpopulation, crime, war, refugees, private armies, scarce resources, ecological disasters, and various other evils were about to reduce the entire region to a condition in which life would be as "nasty, brutish, and short" as anything ever imagined by Thomas Hobbes. Kaplan's vision of Africa's future appeared in "The Coming Anarchy," an article in the February 1994 edition of the Atlantic Monthly. He subsequently attached the same title to a book published in 2001. From the more dismal part of whatever library he uses, Kaplan summoned Thomas Malthus, "the philosopher of demographic doomsday, who is now the prophet of West Africa's future. And West Africa's future, eventually, will also be that of most of the rest of the world." While waiting for West Africa to slide into the ocean, Kaplan became an accepted authority on military matters. The Atlantic put him on salary. Military scribes called him brilliant. The American Navy, always eager for a new trick, hired him to lecture at the U.S. Naval Academy. But by November of 2007, over a decade after "The Coming Anarchy" appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Kaplan had returned both Hobbes and Malthus to the open stacks and someone had resuscitated West Africa, which Malthus had led us to believe was as close to dead as the west end of a continent can get. Who performed this miracle? The Pentagon. Who else? "Africa matters," Kaplan explains with the first two words of "The Next Frontier," a revelation from the leased wires of TheAtlantic.com, November 1, 2007. With his gift of prophecy again in control of the keyboard, Kaplan writes, "The Pentagon's decision to stand up a war-fighting command exclusively for Africa by the end of 2008 presages a new direction for the global war on terrorism." It's so like the Pentagon to revive a continent with a global war. But why would the happy warriors in the Pentagon want to "stand up" a command for Africa, which only recently, in whole or in part, was so close to death that we were ready to re-shelve it with Hobbes and Malthus forever? Kaplan explains: "Without seeking to conquer or govern anything, the American military is pursuing a strategy of security linkages similar to those of the French 150 years ago." Conquering and governing cost too much. The Pentagon's plan to save Africa and (as we will see) the rest of the world for the American Empire contains a money-saving bonus. "No permanent bases will be needed, just cooperative security facilities owned by the host country and supported by civilian contractors, used quietly and austerely by the Americans." The writing in this sentence presents a verbal shell game, concealing all the familiar ingredients of the "War on Terror" - mercenaries, torture, assassinations, and unlimited cash for the purchase of intelligence that may or may not be true - all contained within "cooperative security facilities" used "quietly and austerely." How cleverly we hide our evil. But there's even more. Kaplan goes on to say that at one time he favored "major military involvement in the Middle East." That's what he wanted it, and that's what he got. Iraq and Afghanistan were pretty major. But Kaplan has changed his mind. It's a little late, but what does he want now? What he wants now is "a low-hanging-fruit strategy aimed at discreetly killing select groups of Islamic terrorists here and there." This "here and there" sounds a little vague, but Kaplan has plenty of details to relieve our doubts. He refers to the kind of combat that requires "small-scale elite ground units" that will engage in long wars requiring no exit strategy, wars that will last forever if necessary. These wars will be "relentless and low-key," involving "small-scale military strikes that do not generate bad publicity" or, one suspects, any publicity at all, given that small wars are the easiest to conduct in secret. In 2005, Imperial Grunts crept into a bookstore near you. It explains everything about Kaplan's new enthusiasm for low-hanging-fruit assassinations, elite ground units, and eternal war. The first thing that grabs your attention in Imperial Grunts is a map of the world, which spreads itself across two pages at the front of the book. Lines divide the entire map into five sections, each with a name like SOUTHCOM (Southern Command) or PACOM (Pacific Command). As Kaplan recently explained, AFRICOM (African Command) will soon raise the number of sections to six. A caption above the map says: THE WORLD WITH COMMANDERS' AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY. If you have any understanding of the U.S. military and the people whose interests it serves, it won't take you long to see what this map represents. It shows the American Empire, divided into what may or may not be manageable sections. No matter where you're located on this map, once the United States decides you're a threat to its interests, it will label you a terrorist, and heavily armed men in your part of the world will soon send you the way of all low-hanging fruit. If you present a difficult target, those same men will simply destroy the whole orchard. When Robert Kaplan first saw a large version of this map hanging on a wall in the Pentagon, he underwent a religious experience not unlike that of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. "I stared at it for days on and off, transfixed. How could the U.S. not constitute a global military empire? I thought." He's not kidding, and he's entirely correct. At this point, Kaplan sets out to meet the American grunts who kill low-hanging fruit in the various sections of the U.S. Empire. Bob politely calls these sections SOUTHCOM, PACOM, and so on, but the grunts, he tells us, have the habit of calling everything "Indian Country" or "Injun Country." One might find these locutions insensitive, but Bob says they're "never meant as a slight against Native North Americans. Rather, the reverse." For the grunts and their officers, the wars with America's Indians taught the U.S. military how to fight the small, endless wars that Kaplan says will now be required to defend the American Empire. So off he goes to places "here and there." While marching across SOUTHCOM, Kaplan stops in Colombia, with "its vast untapped oil reserves," to find Army Special Forces teaching Colombian troops how to kill low-hanging "narco-terrorists," although an American sergeant admits that the poor quality of noncommissioned officers in the Colombian army makes it difficult to record much progress. Because this war is scheduled to last forever, the Colombian noncoms still have time for self-improvement. While waiting, Kaplan launches an obligatory verbal attack on President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, claiming that Chavez has his "fingerprints all over the narco-terrorist operation in South America." As I write this in January of 2008, President Chavez has just negotiated the release of two hostages by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The hostages, Consuelo Gonzlez de Perdomo and Clara Rojas, are Colombian politicians. In widely reprinted photographs by Howard Yanes of the Associated Press, the women appear with President Chavez, two babies, and various adults. All but the babies are singing the national anthems of Colombia and Venezuela. Referring to other hostages still in captivity, Chavez later told reporters in Guatemala, "I ask for help from the governments of Latin America, from the governments of the world, so we free all of them." The Bush-Cheney administration is burned up about all this. When President Chavez is freeing hostages and holding babies, he really doesn't look like a terrorist. Twenty pages after calling President Chavez a narco-terrorist, Kaplan has deserted Colombia and landed in Mongolia, a country that sits on the northern rim of PACOM. Mongolia has 2.5 million citizens, all of whom easily fit within an area over twice the size of Texas. In this distant country, Bob meets U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Wilhelm. Among other goals and objectives, Col. Wilhelm wants to help the local military prevent "transnational terrorism" in Mongolia, even though the country is so large and so remote that a terrorist could spend a lifetime finding anyone to terrorize. Before Bob packs his bags and heads for someplace with more violence to depict in his quiet and austere way, Wilhelm points out that "the rise of Christian evangelicalism helped stop the indiscipline of the Vietnam-era Army." Col. Wilhelm's reference to God's saving grace among the U.S armed forces provides a convenient entre to one of Kaplan's major themes in Imperial Grunts. Everywhere he goes, he finds God on his side. And this deity is no flabby Methodist, Presbyterian, or Lutheran God. He's a Southern Baptist God who grants salvation only to born-again, evangelical Christians. Later, in Afghanistan, Kaplan meets Capt. Lee Nelson, an evangelical chaplain who is also the minister of a Baptist Church in Florida. After watching Capt. Nelson perform his duties, Kaplan has an epiphany: "the martial evangelicalism of the South [gives] the U.S. military its true religious soul." Then Kaplan meets another southerner with soul, Tony Dill, a major with the Special Forces. Among other achievements, Dill once parachuted onto the infield of a racetrack while a NASCAR race was in progress. Kaplan doesn't say who won the race. After returning to the United States, Kaplan experiences yet another epiphany. "The Deep South was heavily represented in the military," This is also true of the Middle West, Puerto Rico, East St. Louis, and Pittsburg, but Kaplan doesn't mention it. At this point, Kaplan starts to sound like a combination of Jimmy Swaggart and Barney Fife: The American military, especially the NCOs, who were the guardians of its culture and traditions, constituted a world of beer, cigarettes, instant coffee, and chewing tobacco, like Copenhagen and Red Man. It was composed of people who hunted, drove pickups, employed profanities as a matter of dialect, and yet had a literal, demonstrable belief in the Almighty. Having finished this collection of Hee Haw generalizations, Kaplan gives us the lowdown on the Marines. Sadly, he has to report that these guys aren't all southerners. "They [are] simply generic working class from all regions of the country." They have a much longer tradition than the Army Special Forces. They have unlimited faith in their own ability. And they're experts at low-hanging-fruit removal, having contributed the Small Wars Manual to the library of American military strategy. The farther Kaplan goes into the land of Copenhagen and Red Man, the more embarrassing he becomes. While still with the Special Forces in Colombia, he says, "I was beginning to love these guys," referring to "three well-spoken men with tattoos," Back with the Marines in Iraq, a general tells Kaplan how to deal with the locals: "Wave at them, but have a plan to kill them." But don't let the job of killing obscure the spiritual side of the Marines. "In fact, the U.S. Marines came from the East, from the Orient. That was their spiritual tradition. It was the legacy of their naval landings throughout the Pacific," Bob, get hold of yourself. Help is available if you need it. Despite Kaplan's love for the "martial evangelicalism of the South," at last report he hadn't found a nice cottage in Mississippi, Alabama, or anyplace else in the South where he could settle down, talk dirty, and chew tobacco. Instead, when Imperial Grunts first appeared at your supermarket checkout line, he was still living in western Massachusetts, whose people he dismisses as Democrats, pacifists, and bad journalists. Because of Kaplan's occasional sappiness, it would be easy to ignore him. But that would be a mistake. Kaplan is entirely humorless, and what he reveals isn't funny. With Imperial Grunts, he lays out America's long-term plan to loot those countries of the world least able to defend themselves. And if they don't like it, tough shit. The Pentagon is ready for Eternal War. Patrick Irelan is a retired high-school teacher. He is the author of A Firefly in the Night (Ice Cube Press) and Central Standard: A Time, a Place, a Family (University of Iowa Press). You can contact him at pwirelan43 [at] yahoo.com. --------21 of 22-------- How to Destroy the Public Schools When the Rich Pay No Taxes By PAUL A. MOORE CounterPunch January 17, 2008 During his eight-year reign as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush fashioned an economic time bomb. On his way out the door he lit the fuse. His handiwork will soon devastate this state and visit unprecedented suffering on its people. It will be a nightmare, part of which will imperil the public schools, the operation of local governments and the state retirement system. The government of the State of Florida realizes most of its revenues by way of sales and use taxes, intangible taxes and corporate income taxes. Sales and use taxes are the most regressive and hit poor, working and retired people the hardest. These taxes have done nothing but increase and when they are discussed in the halls of government it is always in the context of raising them. Meanwhile, if he could have, Jeb Bush would have relieved Florida's wealthy persons and corporate entities of their entire tax burden. As it stands he came very near his goal. Tax loopholes created during his administration for corporate income now shelter between $500 and $600 million that was counted as revenue before. $600 million more was lost to the state when Bush eliminated the tax on intangible properties (stocks and bonds) in January 2007. Jeb Bush tried to privatize all things profitable and make the people assume all risk associated with investment. His program gave a leg up to charter schools and turned elements of the state's water supply, public roads and social services over to wealthy investors. The lynchpin of his healthcare agenda was to turn Medicaid into a private managed health care system. That program was piloted in five counties and has failed miserably. The Department of Children and Families was turned into a massive private gamble that money could be made off Florida's most vulnerable children. When investments went bad the working people of Florida ate the loss. In 2002 the state's short-term investment and pension funds lost $334 million as Enron collapsed, three times the loss of any other fund in the nation. Jeb Bush's minions invested in Edison charter schools when the stock was valued at $37 and got out when it was worth 14 cents. Another $500 million of the public's money was lost to enable other corporate adventures. But the worst was yet to come! Because although term limits forced Jeb Bush to give up his Tallahassee office in 2006, it did not thwart his plan for turning the apparatus of state government into his own personal cash cow. First he put one of his stooges, Coleman Stipanovich, in charge of making decisions for the multi-billion dollar Local Government Investment Pool and the Florida Retirement System. Then he got himself a spot on the Board of Directors of Lehman Brothers, the giant Wall Street financial services corporation. This unholy alliance has borne bitter fruits. The now resigned Stipanovich made $1.5 billion in bad investments, $842 million of them purchased through Lehman Brothers. The pension fund now holds $756 million in worthless paper related to the housing market meltdown, almost 8% of its cash holdings. The state's short-term investment fund is faced with similar losses. Jeb Bush and Lehman Brothers won't be losing any sleep over it though because the vulnerability has been dumped on Florida's 1.1 million current and retired state workers, hundreds of school districts and local governments, the state-created Citizens Property Insurance, and the state treasury. This fiscal year the state treasury suffered the first waves of the tsunami that is coming. The servile Florida State Legislature was called back into special session barely six months after passing a $71 billion budget to address a 1.1 billion dollar revenue shortfall. Among other things these servants of the wealthy took $100 from each of Florida's public school children to rebalance the budget. The lights had not been turned out in the Capitol Building when the Office of Policy and Budget projected an additional $2.5 billion revenue shortfall over the next 18 months. And Florida, now weakened by the greed and avarice of a few, faces a growing crisis in its second largest industry after tourism. To get a sense of the outlook for agriculture consider these recent statements and their sources: "We're not in any old drought. We're in what I like to call the biblical drought." Shannon Estenoz, member of the South Florida Water Management District's (SFWMD) governing board. "We are facing Armageddon. I think we are going to see massive crop losses we have never seen before." Malcolm Wade, member of the SFWMD and a Vice-President of U.S. Sugar. "We are beginning to see some of the initial signs of collapse. If you're a farmer, you're going into the spring season with a greater than 50 percent chance you're not going to have enough water to make a crop." Nelson Mongiovi, director of the division of marketing, Florida Department of Agriculture. The crisis in agriculture threatens to shrink the state's revenues by up to $8 billion more over the next five year. Governor Charlie Crist is reportedly "torqued off" at the insurance companies and wants property taxes to "drop like a rock" but neither sentiment is more than public theatrics. The Governor and State Legislature have no answers because the only solution requires they turn on their masters. In the property tax amendment debate Gov. Crist has been reduced to a carnival barker for the Florida Association of Realtors, Florida Power & Light, the Florida Medical Association, Wal-Mart, and private prison builders The GEO Group. These corporate giants are driving this campaign with millions in contributions to advance their own interests. Truth be told there is no salvation to be found in higher sales taxes for working people, or slightly lower property taxes for the average homeowner, or reduced funding for schools, fire and police protection, or shredding the social safety net, or higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, crime and violence. Florida's survival now hinges on one question, "Can the people force Jeb Bush and his corporate band of reverse-Robin Hood's to give up enough of their ill-gotten wealth for the sake of everyone's survival?" The men in charge in Florida have looked over the horizon and seen the inferno that lies ahead. They fear only one force - their many victims united and mobilized in acts of resistance. Concessions (like reduced health care benefits for teachers) are a dead end! One concession will beget another and another until we have nothing to give up. We must fight! They have already begun sowing seeds of division hoping to block any uprising as human misery and deprivation spread across the state. They don't expect their sham property tax proposals to result in lower property tax bills. They expect the measure to pit desperate homeowners against teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and other workers living paycheck to paycheck. In their campaign for Amendment 1, as always, they will attempt to sharpen racial divisions. In Miami-Dade that has taken the form of a manufactured uprising of the parents at Emerson Elementary School with the goal of splitting the Black and Hispanic communities and advance certain school board members vendetta against the Superintendant. They will point the finger at immigrant workers, local governments, and district school boards. Any scapegoat will do to divert attention from them as they execute the final phases of their plan to destroy the public schools. Paul A. Moore is a Miami-Dade County Teacher. --------22 of 22-------- -------------------------------- Support Our Capitalist Masters -------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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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