Progressive Calendar 01.19.08
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--------



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