Progressive Calendar 02.13.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2008 04:15:24 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.13.08

1. Local govt/KFAI   2.13 11am
2. Second chance     2.13 11am
3. V war teach-in    2.13 12noon Superior WI
4. Water rights      2.13 12:15pm
5. Angela Davis      2.13 5pm
6. Intellectuals/war 2.13 5pm
7. Happy NOWr        2.13 5pm
8. LWV planning      2.13 6pm
9. V war teach-in    2.13 6pm Duluth MN
10. Women's rights   2.13 7pm
11. Vagina monologs  2.13 7:30pm

12. Eagan vigil      2.14 4:30pm
13. Northtown vigil  2.14 5pm
14. PoliticalTheatre 2.14 6pm
15. MidEast water    2.14 7pm

16. Andy Birkey    - Minnesota Health Plan
17. Ronnie Cummins - Corporate globalization/at the end of the road
18. Naomi Klein    - Police and tasers: hooked on shock
19. Jos M. Tirado  - A socialist alternative? Going from Green to Red
20. Ben Tripp      - Thus I refute critics
21. ed             - Half-truths  (poem)

--------1 of 21--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Local govt/KFAI 2.13 11am

Wednesdays at 11:00 AM
KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis/106.7 St. Paul
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING: How will cities cope in 2008 and Beyond?

Eight years of budget cuts, especially state LGAs ­ Local Government Aids
­ may have satisfied conservative tax-cutters and allowed Gov. Pawlenty to
live up to his nasty pledge to one organization never to raise revenue.
But municipalities, especially the urban core cities of Minneapolis and
St. Paul, have been left to severely cut services, which they have (much
to the consternation of their constituents) and/or raise property taxes
(much to the consternation of their constituents). But most constituents
donıt understand how cities are financed and why lowering one tax must
push up the balloon on the other end.

TTTıs Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen try to sort out this mess with
officials forced to deal with the exigencies of state and local government

 State Sen. Dick Cohen, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee;
 Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak;
 St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman;
 Minnetonka City Manager John Gunyou, Former State Finance Commissioner

AND YOU: Call in: 612-341-0980 Wednesday at 11:00AM.

--------2 of 21--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Second chance 2.13 11am


Second Chance Day on the Hill
February 13, 2008
11:00 a.m. rally
12:00 noon lobbying
State Capitol Rotunda
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., St. Paul
Transportation available: see below

Over 50 organizations­including CUAPB­are coming together for the first
ever Second Chance Day on the Hill to demand justice system reforms that
will make it easier for ex-offenders to reintegrate into society.  Over
1000 ex-offenders, their families and supporters of justice reform will be
present to highlight the importance of second chances. We will be raising
statewide and national attention to barriers facing individuals with
criminal records that affect the social, civic and economic stability of
families and communities.

There are currently 155,000 Minnesota adults under some form of
correctional supervision;  142,000 on probation, 4,200 on some level of
supervised release, and 9,100 in prison. And there are at least as many
with a criminal record who have satisfied all the requirements of their
sentence. This equates to one in every sixteen Minnesotans having the
stigma of a conviction they must overcome to qualify for housing,
employment and student loans, among other things.  Legislatively we have
created nearly 200 collateral sanctions over and above the penalties
associated with a conviction.

These collateral sanctions limit the ability of people to reintegrate into
society and to survive in the mainsteam economy and are the leading cause
for recidivism.  CUAPB is proud to be part of this organizing and we urge
you to attend this important event.

For transportation: There will be a bus at each of the following
Minneapolis locations: Sabathani Community Center, 310 E 38th Street
Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Avenue

Buses will load at 10:00 am from both locations
and leave at 10:15 for the Capitol
Buses will load at 1:00 PM at the Capitol and
leave at 1:15 PM to return to Sabathani and the Urban League.

For our families, communities and public safety,
give ex-offenders a Second Chance
by Charles Hallman
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 1/30/2008

There are currently 155,000 Minnesota adults under some form of
correctional supervision ­ 142,000 on probation, 4,200 on some level of
supervised release, and 9,100 in prison. At least 95 percent of those in
prison will eventually be released.

"The actual prison population is overwhelmingly male, and overwhelmingly
minority," noted Sarah Walker, director of juvenile services at 180
Degrees, a Minneapolis-based organization that runs a halfway house.
Eighty percent of all male prisoners have a child, she said, adding that
the number of female prisoners has been rapidly increasing in the past 10

Getting a second chance often becomes an elusive goal for too many
ex-offenders, who must face housing and employment barriers upon their
re-entering society. Even getting a student loan can be difficult for
someone wishing to pursue an education who possesses a criminal record.

These barriers are the reason for the "Second Chance Day on the Hill"
scheduled for February 13 at the State Capitol in St. Paul. On this day,
several organizations, many of which are heavily involved in criminal
justice issues, are calling for the Minnesota Legislature and the general
public to seriously begin looking at "Second Chance" legislation.

Representatives from these organizations have met weekly over the last few
months to plan this event. Organizers are anticipating that at least 1,000
ex-offenders, their family members, and supporters of criminal justice
system reform will attend.

"This is the first time in many years that I have seen so many diverse
organizations come together for one issue," Walker said. "I think we
wouldn't be having this conversation 10 years ago. What we have now is a
window of opportunity to look at things [in] a pragmatic way."

"The Day" organizers also want the general public to be aware of the
importance of Second Chance legislation, continued Walker. "Second
chances are about public safety," she pointed out. "If you want to
increase public safety, you need to facilitate successful re-entry [of

"Everyone gets scared, and everyone wants to feel safe in their
community. All I am saying is to give someone a second chance, you are
going to make your community safer."

Among the principles the Second Chance supporters emphasize are:

 Providing ex-offenders with fair access to housing, employment, credit,
and higher education, along with restoring their voting rights;

 Making sure all criminal background checks are accurate and up-to-date;

 Providing treatment programs in correctional facilities, including
improved prison mental-health intervention programs, and providing
diversionary community-based programs for first offenders;

 Eliminating collateral punishment so that once offenders have served
their time, they do not face unnecessary and unfair side effects once they
are back in society;

 Providing rehabilitative opportunities for offenders while
incarcerated, and preparing willing individuals to become productive
members of their communities when they are released;

 Ensuring that punishment falls on the offender and not on the
offender's children, other family members, and communities; and

 Developing pragmatic and cost-effective approaches to public safety.

Upon their release from prison, most ex-offenders then experience a
vicious cycle of circumstances, Walker explained. "If you don't have
stable housing, you have trouble finding a job because you don't have a
regular residence. However, you have trouble finding stable housing if you
don't have any income.

"I think the two most important things [facing ex-offenders] are barriers
to employment and opportunities to stable housing," said Walker.

A University of Minnesota doctoral student, Walker has been involved in
criminal justice issues for a long time. "I have been interested in this
all through my undergraduate years," she noted. "Criminal justice is
where all issues of disparity come in: poverty, mental health, inequality
and racism. If you want to address all these issues, they all end up in

Also, Walker has a personal stake in second chance issues. "I stole
something, and I ended up in big trouble," she admitted. "I was able to
not go to prison or spend any significant time in jail."

Nonetheless, Walker now has a criminal record. "I am still not eligible
for many types of employment. There were many schools who wouldn't accept
me [for graduate school] because I have a criminal record."

The U.S. House of Representatives last November passed a Second Chance
bill (H.R. 1593). Now awaiting U.S. Senate action, the bill calls for
federal funding for ex-offender reentry services and job training.

Now it is Minnesota's turn to do something as well, Walker concluded.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to
challman [at], or read his blog,

--------3 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: V war teach-in 2.13 12noon Superior WI

Wednesday, 2/13, noon, Iraq Veterans Against the War teach-in, UWS
Rothwell Student Center, rm. 111, Superior, Wisc.  daniel5points [at] gmail or
northlandiguana [at]

--------4 of 21--------

From: Human Rights Events Update <humanrts [at]>
Subject: Water rights 2.13 12:15pm

The Human Right to Water -A Five-Part Human Rights Center Lecture Series
(Cosponsors:  Program in Human Rights and Health / School of Public Health)

All lectures Wednesdays: 12:15-1:15 p.m., 30 Mondale Hall

 2/13 Water and the Human Right to Health (Jim Toscano, PhD, Environmental
Health Sciences, SPH) - Room 65
 2/27 Water Distribution: Public, Private, or Both? (William Easter, PhD,
Applied Economics)
 3/12 Making it Happen: Practical Strategies for Fulfilling the Human
Right to Water (Paige Novak, PhD, Civil Engineering)
 3/26 Water and the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

--------5 of 21--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
ubject: Angela Davis 2.13 5pm

Must have (free)tickets for this event--the tickets are now available.

Angela Davis: A Socially Conscious Conversation
with the Legendary Activist & Author
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
5:00pm  Alexander G. Hill Ballroom

Angela Davis, a renowned social activist for over 30 years who is deeply
involved in our nation's quest for social justice, is the first speaker in
a new Lealtad-Suzuki Center initiative entitled "SPEAK! A Series of
Conscious Conversations." This will be an engaging opportunity for the
Macalester community to be a part of an intimate dialogue with Ms. Davis.
This event is free, however, tickets will be required and available for
pick up at the Macalester Campus Center Information Desk beginning on
February 6.

--------6 of 21--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Intellectuals/war 2.13 5pm

WEDNESDAYS thru MAR.12:5pm-7pm
302 Cedar Ave,S.(basement HUB Bikes, door frway side og bldg) WEST BANK,
Minneapolis  (612)333-4719

a free class facillitated by Prof. Rich Martinez of the U of MN

What are academics & other intellectuals doing to support or oppose war?
How can dissent be encouraged?
NO Books! NO grades! Only requirement: an OPEN MIND!

This is an EXCO course:EXCO stands for Experimental College. For more
info on other EXCO free classes:

--------7 of 21--------

From: Trisha Hasbargen <thasbargen [at]>
Subject: Happy NOWr 2.13 5pm   [ed head]

Grrrl Power Happy Hour

Join the Uptown chapter of National Organization for Women for its monthly
happy hour- an opportunity to network and get to know other like-minded
people in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. Join us for some boisterous
conversation and a little trouble-making! We'll save you a spot! This
event is open to members and non-members alike- bring a friend!

5:30-7:00: Wednesday, February 13
Aura in Calhoun Square in Uptown,

For more information: Go to or email
nowuptown [at]

--------8 of 21--------

From: Amy <amy [at]>
Subject: LWV planning 2.13 6pm

League of Women Voters of Saint Paul Meets to Set Direction
For Local and National Policy Positions

The League of Women Voters of Saint Paul (LWVSP) invites all interested
members of the public to listen in for League "Program Planning" on
Wednesday, February 13, 2008.  This Member Meet-up will be held at 6:00pm
at the Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice Street, St. Paul.  Hot soup
will be served by LWVSP.

Program Planning for Local and National LWV
Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 6:00-7:30 pm

Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice Street, St. Paul.
On-street parking is available around the building.

Program planning is an annual event in Leagues around the country.  It is
the core of why League is considered a grassroots organization.  All
positions on which the League takes action - whether it be the national,
state or local level of League - have been studied by league members whose
joint opinions come together to form a consensus.  In addition, the
February 13 Member Meet-up will begin the process of proposing issues to
be studied at the local and national level.  Members will consider topics
of interest to the St. Paul League and those topics that should be sent on
to the National League for consideration at the League's annual convention
in June.

All Member Meet-ups are free and open to both League members and the
general public.  To RSVP for the meet-up or for more information, please
contact Amy Mino at amy [at] or 651-430-2701. For more
information on the League of Women Voters of St. Paul, please visit:

[I suggest forums that include Green Party candidates, even in the face of
DFL candidates who say they will not come if the GP is invited. Call their
bluff. Don't let the Dems trim our democratic choices. Does the LWV want
to be known as a corporate party patsy? -ed]

--------9 of 21--------

From: Charles Underwood
Subject: V war teach-in 2.13 6pm Duluth MN

Wednesday, 2/13, 6 pm, Iraq Veterans Against the War teach-in, UMD,
Duluth.  daniel5points [at]

--------10 of 21--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Women's rights 2.13 7pm

Wednesday, February 13: Women's Programs at Minnesota Advocates for Human
Rights. Women's Human Rights Film Series. Features "Not for Sale & So Deep
a Violence." 7 PM. Highland Park Branch Library, St. Paul. Free & open to
the public.

--------10 of 21--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>

AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, February 13th, at 7:30 p.m.
Mad Hatter Teahouse, 943 West 7th Street, Saint Paul.

--------11 of 21--------

From: Kiera Coonan <kieracoonan [at]>
Subject: Vagina monologues 2.13 7:30pm

 [This is the only listing of these events; SAVE it if you want it]

MPIRG to put on 2008 production of The Vagina Monologues Twin Cities, MN
: The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group presents the annual theater
production of The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler. This event is a part
of the V-Day movement which calls for respect and appreciation for women,
but also an end in violence towards women.  The proceeds from these
performances go to programs that work to end violence against women and
girls, including crisis centers and women's shelters. One performance per
day will take place from Wednesday, February 13th 2008 to Sunday February
17th 2008.  Tickets are $12.00 for students, $15 general admission.

Feb. 13th: AUGSBURG- Sateren Auditorium @ 7:30 PM
2211 Riverside Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55454

Feb. 14th: UMN ST PAUL- Student Union Theatre @ 8:00 PM
2017 Buford Ave # 42
St Paul, MN 55108

Feb. 15th: HAMLINE- Kay Fredericks Rm in the Klas Center @ 8:00 PM
1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104

Feb. 16th: MACALESTER- Weyerhaueser Chapel @ 8:00 PM
1600 Grand Ave
St. Paul, MN, 55105

Feb. 17th: UMN MPLS- Coffman Theatre @ 4:00 PM
300 Washington Ave Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group is a grassroots,
non-partisan, nonprofit, student-directed organization that empowers and
trains students and engages the community to take collective action in
the public interest throughout the state of Minnesota .  For more
information go to or contact Karmann Peters at
karmann [at]

--------12 of 21--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 2.14 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------13 of 21--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.14 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------14 of 21--------

From: Julie Bates <julie [at]>
Subject: Political theatre 2.14 6pm

TEATRO DEL PUEBLO, in collaboration with INTERMEDIA ARTS, and in
February 14, 2008-March 2, 2008

Politics join forces with the theatre for a three weekend exploration of
Latino Identity on stage! In the true tradition of Latin American theatre,
Teatro del Pueblo collaborates with Intermedia Arts, the University of
Minnesota, and the Resource Center of the Americas, to bring six new plays
to the stage that take a fresh look at the politics of identity among the
Latino community here, in the United States, and abroad. Using interactive
theatre techniques unique to Teatro, audiences are engulfed within play
subject matter and are engaged into in-depth conversations regarding hot
topics affecting both the Latino and non-Latino community today. Also,
Teatro brings two brand new interactive pieces to life, including the
return of the very popular 2007 piece American Immigrant!, based on
American Idol, with American Latino!.

February 14-March 2, 2008   | Thurs-Sat at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm and 7pm

Thursday, February 14: 6pm-8pm; Santiago Zarzosa: Illustrating Action
exhibit opening reception (exhibit runs February 14 - March 15, 2008

School Matinees: February 15, 20, 29 at 9:30am, call 651-224-8806 for
more info on School Matinees

All activities, unless otherwise noted, take place at Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

TICKETS $15 General, $13 Students/Seniors/Fringe, $10 for groups of 10 of
more; call 612-871-4444

The Political Theatre Festival was founded as a portal for creating a
greater understanding of the Latin American experience through the eyes of
the Latino. The Festival unites weighty political issues with theatre as a
forum for communication and has become a lab for experimentation with
audience engagement in public discourse using various techniques such as
theatre of the oppressed, forum theatre, animating democracy philosophy,
games with the audience, and, most successful, interactive theatre. A
growing tradition in the community, the Festival allows Teatro del Pueblo
to better serve its mission to this community by providing an outlet for
Latino voices and direct participation in our programming.

CONTACT Alberto Justiniano 651-224-8806 al [at]

--------15 of 21--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: MidEast water 2.14 7pm

Dr. D.J. Mulla: "The Role of Water in Middle East Conflicts"

Thursday, February 14, 7:00 p.m. Plymouth Presbyterian Church, 3755
Dunkirk Lane North (north of the intersection of County Road 9 and Highway
55), Plymouth. Dr Mulla is a Professor in the Department of Soil, Water,
and Climate at the University of Minnesota and has worked in over a dozen
countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and India. Is it possible
that water plays as important a role in Middle East politics as oil?
Sponsored by: Northwest Neighbors for Peace and hosted by the Peace and
Justice Committee of Plymouth Presbyterian Church. FFI: Call Linda,

--------16 of 21--------

From: Andy Birkey <andy.birkey [at]>
Subject: Minnesota Health Plan

I think the mainstream coverage of the Minnesota Health Plan leaves a bit
to be desired. They keep calling it government run health care, when it's
really simple to figure out : government run HEALTH INSURANCE. Both the
strib and KSTP got it a bit off.

Here's my summary of what's been said. I plan to follow this bill closely
and write as much as I can about it in the forums I have available. It's
fairly simple and straight forward, and the benefits would seem to far,
far outweigh the risks.

Single-payer health plan could create savings, more choices for
Minnesotans by: Andy Birkey

Several members of the Minnesota Legislature have embarked on a mission to
build political support for the Minnesota Health Plan, a proposal that
would create a central entity to manage the health insurance of every
Minnesotan. The proponents of the plan say it would reduce health
insurance premiums, provide universal coverage, reduce health care costs
in the state by 20 percent, provide greater freedom of choice, end
employer-tied insurance and increase preventative health.

This weekend, legislators took the plan to seven Minnesota cities: Duluth,
Bemidji, Northfield, Winona, Hibbing, Brainerd and Mankato. The plan is
ambitious and would fundamentally change how health insurance is managed
in Minnesota, but proponents say that change is welcome and needed in a
system that needs a lot of work.

Rep. Shelley Madore, DFL-Apple Valley, spoke about her experiences at a
press conference at the State Capitol on Monday and while touring the
state. Two of her children were diagnosed with disabling medical
conditions, and after one underwent a $60,000 surgery, she was told it
wasn't covered by her insurance plan.

"For those Minnesotans that think they are insured, I challenge them to go
back and read their health insurance policy and see what is not covered,
because insurance is great until you really need it. And that's the lesson
that I learned and the reason I decided to run for the state Legislature."

The Minnesota Health Plan would essentially take health insurance out of
the private sector and have the state run the system. Everyone would pay
premiums according to their ability to pay.

"One of the problems that our rural hospitals have is that under the
current system, unlike what is being proposed here, we have so many
different payment rates depending on who's paying," Sen. Mary Olson,
DFL-Bemidji, told a group gathered in that city. "The government is not
paying enough for poor people's health care, which is why it is so hard
for them to get access to health care.

"But basically it's not the government paying those bills, it's taxpayers
who are paying those bills. In order to raise those rates, you have to
raise taxes to pay for them."

Sen. John Marty outlined the ways the plan, which already has the support
of one-fourth of the Legislature, would save money for both the
government, clinics and health care consumers.

"The plan would save money though administrative efficiency. It avoids
insurance company marketing and underwriting costs. It saves doctors who
have to have three to four billing clerks in every clinic. It saves money
by price negotiation. It saves money through prevention and early
intervention. It saves money by ending the technology arms race; not every
corner clinic needs an MRI machine."

Madore and Rep. David Bly, DFL-Northfield, said that not only are there
cost savings to be had in a centralized insurance system, but there are
benefits outside that system as well, including greater clinic and doctor
choice and more flexibility in career choice.

"This is a public-private partnership, not a state-run medical system,"
said Bly. "The insurance plans that you have are often networked, and they
don't allow you to go outside the network to see the doctor you want to
see. And people change jobs and have a new system and have to see a doctor
they've never seen before. We want people to have those kinds of choices
in the clinic or doctor they want to go to."

Madore said that for many disabled Minnesotans, who constitute 14 percent
of Minnesota's adult population under age 65 and are often denied coverage
due to preexisting condition clauses, the plan would lead to greater
independence. "We haven't addressed the need to move these people out of
poverty and into working jobs and allowing them to be able to stay in
jobs," she said. "We have people with late onset diagnosis of things like
Parkinson's and MS. People are forced to leave their jobs in their
forties." For many, health insurance doesn't cover many needs and people
are forced to quit their job, sell off their assets - sometimes even
their homes - so that they can qualify for government aid and get the
health care they need.

"They cannot contribute back as a taxpayer and become classified as what
is called health care welfare recipients," said Madore. "I do believe when
we allow health care to not be tied to employment, self-determination is
brought back and we will reduce a significant cost in social programs."

The added side effect of health insurance not being tied to employment
means more freedom for employers as well. "I think you'll see Minnesota
will become a job magnet," she said. "People will be able to determine
what they want to do with their lives" as they won't have to stay at a
certain job or in a particular career just to keep health benefits.

Marty said that while they think they have a great proposal, it will take
a few years to catch on. In the meantime, the legislators are open to
looking at short-term options as well and proposals that can have a
similar impact on cost savings, choice and increasing prevention.

More information on the bill can be found at

- Andy Birkey Reporter - Minnesota Monitor
MInnesota's LGBT Blog - 11th Avenue South
Phone: 612-387-5460

--------17 of 21--------

Corporate Globalization
Standing at the End of the Road
February 11, 2008

Mexico City.

Standing at the end of Avenida Madero (Madero Avenue) on the last day of
January 2008, a stone throw from the Zocalo or City Center of Mexico City,
I am swept along in a sea of thousands of farmers and laborers, carrying
signs and banners. Streaming from the historic statue of the Angel of
Independence, symbolically setting fire to a decrepit tractor, one hundred
and fifty thousand small farmers, teachers, workers, and neighborhood
activists are marching to repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA), and end the illegal "dumping' by Cargill, ADM, and Monsanto of
billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidized U.S. agricultural crops-beans,
rice, sugar, powdered milk, soybeans, and genetically engineered
corn - onto the Mexican market.

NAFTA, pushed through in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. in 1994 over the
opposition of the majority of North Americans, is literally driving
Mexico's thirty million small farmers and villagers off the land and into
the slums of Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, Juarez, and
other cities; or else, following the path of twelve million others before
them, across the increasingly dangerous border into the United States to
find work. Rural villages in Mexico have become literal economic ghost
towns of women, children, and the elderly. In some municipalities, 80-90%
of the men and boys are gone, increasingly joined by the young women.

A dark-skinned peasant woman, wearing her kitchen apron, approaches me. I
stand out in the crowd, an obvious gringo with my Code Pink anti-war
T-shirt and my Organic Consumers Association baseball cap. The farm woman
patiently explains to me how NAFTA has broken up her family. Her two sons
and her daughter, like millions of other jovenes (young people), she
explains, desperate for a living wage, did not want to leave their
community or abandon their families, but they had no choice. And now, with
the militarized border, so-called illegal aliens, like her children, can
no longer take the risk of coming back home to visit. Her spons amnd
daughter, like most other immigrants, send back remesas (money) to help
support their families. This twenty-four billion dollar annual lifeline is
the only thing standing between Mexico's rural population and utter

Moving up behind the farmers, flanked by banners protesting the imminent
sell-off of Mexico's publicly owned electricity and oil industries, union
workers and students fill the massive square in front of the National
Palace. Mexican workers, whose minimum wage is 1/12 that of the U.S., are
already suffering from high prices for electricity and gasoline. But once
U.S. and European corporations take over the petroleum and electricity
sectors, prices will inevitably skyrocket.

Passionate speakers from the podium call for a repeal of NAFTA and the
restoration of food and energy sovereignty, but everyone knows that Big
Business and Agribusiness call the shots in Mexico City, Ottawa, and
Washington. Short of a miracle, rural and urban poverty will increase, as
will the power and obscene wealth of the industrial agriculture, oil, and
utilities multinationals. In July 2006 Mexicans launched an impressive
though ultimately abortive ballot box revolution, turning out in droves
for the anti-NAFTA presidential candidate, Manuel Lopez Obrador, from the
left-of-center PRD (Party of Democratic Revolution). Although Obrador won
the popular vote, according to reliable exit polls and election experts,
in a U.S.-style electronic vote theft, the elections were stolen, and
Felipe Calderon, a pro-NAFTA corporatist was installed as President. As a
Mexican activist friend reminds me today, we are at the end of the road
for polite protest. Nothing short of a second Mexican (and American)
revolution will save us.

Corporate globalization, savagely embodied by NAFTA, is not just a threat
to Mexican farmers and rural villagers. The economic, health, and social
damage created by industrial agriculture, corporate globalization, and the
patenting and gene-splicing of transgenic plants and animals, are
inexorably leading to universal "bioserfdom " for farmers, deteriorating
health for consumers, a destabilized climate (energy intensive industrial
agriculture and long-distance food transportation and processing account,
directly or indirectly, for 40% of all climate-disrupting greenhouse
gases), tropical deforestation, and a rapid depletion of oil supplies.
Lest we forget, forty percent of the world's population are still small
farmers and rural villagers. If we allow corporate agribusiness and
so-called "free traders" to continue to drive these last two billion
peasants from the land, replacing them with chemical and energy-intensive,
climate disrupting industrial farms, cattle ranches, and agrofuels
plantations, we are doomed.

Fortunately practical solutions are at hand, although implementing these
obvious alternatives will require nothing short of a global grassroots
rising. The simple solution to all this is to scrap NAFTA, make organic
and sustainable farming once more the dominant practice in agriculture (as
it has been for most of the last 10,000 years), help the globe's two
billion farmers stay on the land, make healthy organic foods and
lifestyles the norm, and restructure global agriculture and commerce so
that sustainable local and regional production for local and regional
markets and Fair Trade become the norm, not just the alternative. And of
course as we begin this great turning away from corporate control, we will
also begin to be able to address and solve the global energy crisis (at
the root of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) as well as the global
climate crisis, through conservation, economic re-localization, and
drastic greenhouse gas reduction in the agriculture, transportation, and
utilities sectors. Unfortunately none of the "major contenders" for the
White House are offering any real alternatives, other than rhetoric, to
address the current Crisis. Our job is daunting, but standing here at the
end of the road, it appears we have no choice.

Ronnie Cummins is director of the Organic Consumers Alliance. He can be
reached at: ronnie [at]

--------18 of 21--------

Police and Tasers: Hooked on Shock
by Naomi Klein
Published on Monday, February 11, 2008 by

The past couple of weeks have been rocky on the stock market, but one
company that hasn't been suffering too much is Taser International. At the
end of January, its stock jumped by an impressive 8 per cent, and it's
even higher today.

Matthew McKay, a stock analyst at Jeffries & Co. in San Francisco, cites a
simple cause: news that the Toronto Police Services Board plans to buy
3,000 new Taser electroshock weapons, at a cost of $8.6 million for gear
and training. If the deal goes ahead, tasers would become standard issue
weaponry for all of Toronto.s frontline officers, right next to their
handcuffs and batons.

On Wednesday night, I participated in a public forum about the prospect of
a fully taser-armed police force, organized by the Toronto Police
Accountability Coalition. One speaker, who had a history of psychiatric
illness, told the room: "We're worried because we're the people who are
going to get shocked".

It's a concern grounded in experience. According to Toronto Police Chief
Bill Blair's own analysis, in 2006, city cops deployed the devices in 156
incidents. In all but nine, the subject appeared "to have a mental
disorder" or was in some sort of "crisis".

Several speakers at the forum pointed out that $8.6 million would be
better spent keeping people out of crisis - by opening more beds and
providing better mental health and addiction services. Instead, four
homeless shelters were closed last year, at a loss of 258 beds.

But the most troubling remark of the evening was this: "Why is this
happening now?" The timing is indeed baffling. It was only three months
ago that video of the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver
International Airport caused an international furor. The tragedy exposed
the most prevalent misconception about tasers: that they are used
primarily as an alternative to guns. As former Toronto mayor John Sewell
told me, "the taser is not the thing that replaces the gun, it's what
replaces all the other things that police might do other than use a gun,
like talk to you".

That certainly appears to have been the case with Mr. Dziekanski. When the
RCMP approached him, they made no attempt to calm the unarmed Polish man,
or to discover the source of his extreme agitation. Within 25 seconds, he
was getting zapped.

Mr. Dziekanski's death also put a spotlight on the other post-taser
deaths, the ones not caught on film. According to Amnesty International,
310 people in North America have died after being shocked with a taser
since 2001.

Were these deaths caused by the device or by something else? Taser's
aggressive lawyers make it tough to know. The company has been hit with
roughly a hundred wrongful death and injury lawsuits and claims it hasn't
lost one yet. But in August, Bloomberg News reported on "several
mysterious dismissals" - instances where the plaintiffs asked for the
cases to be thrown out. Though Taser denies paying off all its accusers,
it admits to paying in some, "where the settlement economics were
significantly less than the cost of litigation".

Taser has consistently claimed that something else is causing the deaths.
The company points to a report saying that that death by electrocution
happens within seconds. Yet in many cases, subjects have died minutes,
even days, after being shocked.

A recent study may explain the discrepancy. Trauma researchers at
Chicago's Cook County Hospital conducted an experiment on 11 pigs, zapping
each for 40 seconds; then zapping them again 10 or 15 seconds later. (This
mimics how tasers are actually used, since Amnesty reports that those who
have died after being Tasered were frequently "subjected to multiple or
prolonged shocks".) The study found that all the pigs exhibited heart
problems after the shocks and two of them died of cardiac arrest, one
three minutes later.

Taser CEO Rick Smith has brushed off the study, saying human research is
more relevant. However, according to Bob Walker, one of the lead
researchers, it shows "that the effect of the taser shot can last beyond
the time when it's being delivered".

So back to that question: Why now? In addition to the troubling new
scientific evidence and the disconcerting lawsuits, there are several
public investigations in Canada that are still ongoing. In addition to
those sparked by the Dziekanski death, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and
Nova Scotia are all conducting taser reviews.

Surely it would be wise for Toronto's police chief to wait for those
findings before ordering a seven-fold taser increase. But something more
powerful than reason appears to be at play here, and I believe it has to
do with the seductive promise of no-touch policing.

No other method of controlling unruly suspects offers police the same kind
of all-encompassing, instant effect. Talking, calming, negotiating are all
messier and take time. Other physical techniques put officers' own bodies
at risk.

Then there is the taser. The company boasts that its technology, which
allows electrified darts to be fired from more than 10 meters away,
"temporarily overrides the command and control systems of the body". At
the push of a button, even the strongest, angriest subject drops to the
floor. In a way, firing a taser is the maximum power one person can exert
over another. As an Ottawa Police officer reportedly said after tasering
protesters at the ministry of immigration back in 2003: "Less mess, more

Few would argue with an officer's right to use an electroshock weapon when
lives are in danger and the only alternative is a gun. Many Toronto police
officers, particularly those on the Emergency Task Force, clearly use them
with restraint.

Yet there is also plenty of evidence that some officers get hooked on
shock. In Edmonton, in 2001, reports of taserings averaged less than once
a week. Three years later, they were coming in daily. In another part of
the country, a mother in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia called police when she and
her 17-year-old daughter were having an argument. Three officers showed up
and tasered the teen in her own bed. In a recent court ruling, the judge
called these actions "very disturbing and disconcerting".

It may well be possible to prevent shock-happy policing with tighter
controls. Yet, despite repeated calls for stricter regulations for police,
Taser International is racing to get its devices in the hands of
civilians, marketing the product as not just safe but fun. In the United
States the company has been aggressively pushing its line of C2 "personal
protectors" - available in pink, leopard print, and in holsters with
built-in MP3 players. (The weapon is nicknamed the "iTaser".)
Tupperware-style taser parties are springing up in the suburbs of Arizona.

Taser International is a company whose executives present themselves as
serious experts in public safety. Yet it has launched this foray into
fashion at the very moment when the safety of its devices is being
questioned on multiple fronts. Valentine's Day is coming and Taser's
website is busily hawking the C2 in flaming red. "Love her? Protect her,"
goes the slogan.

This is what corporations do: whatever they can get away with to sell more
product. From Taser International, we should expect nothing less.

From our police we have a right to expect much more.

Naomi Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster

--------19 of 21--------

A Socialist Alternative? Going from Green to Red
by Jos M. Tirado / February 11th, 2008

The recent election primaries have stolen much of the progressive
thunder-badly. Barrack Obama's stentorian voice and uplifting rhetoric,
two qualities often passed as "progressivism" in the United States, gets
incredible press while the personal venality of the Clintons and their
surrogates, (which mask serious policy choices anathema to a truly
progressive agenda) is overly analyzed. Some substance!

Both candidates are imperial Democrats, supporting the 800 or so military
bases around the world, and the hegemonic dominance that assures. Both
candidates will not support an end to insurance company mobsterism in
health care, and instead opt for what most modern Western democracies
have: a single-payer health system. Both candidates talk only in the
vaguest of generalities about the importance of unions (but neither
support an end to Taft-Hartley), the environment (yet both support nuclear
power and neither will reign in destructive corporate agriculture), or
"working families" (but neither supports a living wage). What all this
means is that, simply put, a progressive agenda is once again relegated to
the backburner in exchange for the maddeningly inevitable mantra of
"change", which in American politics means changing the prison guards and
keeping the Left locked away from mainstream debates.

Here in Iceland where I live, the Left-Green Movement, a
Green-Socialist-Feminist coalition, is part of the government, and its
leader Steingrmur Sigfsson delivers the most impassioned and inspiring
speeches, winning respect from even opponents for his integrity and
vision. But they represent only 14.3% of Parliament. The Socialist
Alliance, a Social Democratic, center-left coalition (perhaps the
equivalent of a more liberal version of New Deal Democrats) holds 26.8% of
Parliament and so between them, almost half of the total seats. Together
they get attention and more importantly, some legislation passed that fits
a progressive description. While this is not the place to recommend a
proportional system of representation for the US (though I do) or a whole
new way of configuring movements and political parties (which I do), I
think it time some of us on the US Left reassess our choice of words (and
fear of others) and earnestly support where we can an openly socialist
agenda electorally. What this means is giving a new look to an old friend,
the Socialist Party-USA (SP-USA).

Even as large numbers of progressives, including socialists joined the
Green Parties in the 80s (and technically there still remains 2, without
counting the arcane mergers and configurations within individual states)
the Greens have been hobbled by infighting and crass manipulation by Dems
in Green clothing. And while Communists (CPUSA) and other socialist
parties exist, they have neither the traction (organization or ballot
access) nor the independence (the CP, for example, supports the Dems as a
tactical, and "practical" endeavor) to make more waves than a pond ripple.
For progressives, these are disheartening signs.

In addition, we have seen the movement of radicals, Leftists, and other
progressives drift towards the Republican candidacy of Ron Paul. His
unswerving opposition to American imperial adventurism and undeclared
wars, and strong support of the Constitution make him appealing. Yet many
of his other positions are questionable, to say the least. Why aren't we
reassessing a group that has always opposed wars, imperialism and unjust
policies at home and abroad?

The Socialist Party is the USs oldest socialist party, does not favor top
down "democratic centralism", is adaptable to distinctly American
political realities and has a platform remarkably consistent with
progressive (and Green) views without the nutty baggage that hampers any
Left discussion of politics. At one time, in its heyday, the Socialist
Party had numerous elected officials in office and Eugene Debs once
received almost a million votes - while he was in jail! By openly
supporting the Socialist Party, we would be making a statement loud and
clear that can push the debate much further to the Left than it is at

Yet, if history teaches us anything it's that movements matter and that
unified struggle beats divisive sectarianism. Hopping from one political
party to another is now an unfortunate, inevitable consequence of US
ballot access laws. Thus, a socialist may have to vote Green in order to
have her vote count (or in order to simply be able to vote) or a Green to
support an Independent candidacy in order to be heard.

But what if we simply agreed that what we want, at its most basic, is
found pretty squarely inside that SP-USA platform and that, wherever
possible, by voting Socialist we are helping a noble party get back into
the consciousness of Americans and giving an alternative vision the chance
it needs to compete. While I have for 20 years committed myself to Green
politics, I think it may be time to shift back to where my heart says I
should go for me to feel I am not wasting my vote, or my time - to the
Socialist Party. And if, and when we can form our version of a Left-Green
Alliance, in whatever name, I'll be right there too.

Rev. Jos M. Tirado is a poet, priest and writer finishing a PhD in
psychology while living in Iceland. Read other articles by Jos.

This article was posted on Monday, February 11th, 2008 at 5:00 am and is
filed under "Third" Party, Socialism, Solidarity. Send

--------20 of 21--------

Thus I Refute Critics
Beggars Collide
February 11, 2008

If there was a nickel for every leftie I've pissed off with the expression
of my views, I would not be rifling pay phones for change. This suits me
fine, as do dimes and half-dollars. I didn't start writing in hope that
everyone would agree with me all the time; anybody that did agree with me
all the time would have to be some kind of crank. Back in 1992 when
precious few people were making even the littlest peep against the slimes
and arrows of outrageous fortunates, ninety-nine out of a hundred of my
irate readers were right-wingers; now they're all liberals. I guess this
is because, what with Obamarama and all that, folks on the Left think
their day is finally coming. On that, we agree. I just happen to think
it's a different day. Maybe (certainly) I'm just a big party pooper, but
in the name of Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all, knock off acting like
'hope' is something that has energy and can perform work. It doesn't and
it can't. It's just an emotion. We're talking about an abstract noun. Hope
is just an affective meaning we apply to future events, of no more
substance than amusement, irritation, or tridecaphobia: a feeling, an
idea, nothing more. The first thing the Left in this country has to do is
abandon hope. Then maybe we can get something done.

Here's a sample of a typical correspondence from an irritated reader whose
hope my prick deflated:

"To be a progressive, you have to have some hope, and you obviously have
none. One question, why do you bother lecturing progressives and liberals?
You know nothing they do matters. Oh, yeah of course to see your name in

This is purest horse shavings. Who the hell says a progressive must have
hope? Intentions might be better. What matters is plans, and the will to
put them into action. I'm about 95% certain that I'm going to die some
day. Hope otherwise as I may, it won't influence the outcome. So the plan
is to stay alive as long as possible. Fair enough. But don't I hope
there's an afterlife? I don't. Rather than pray a magic book turns out to
be right about death and we all turn into cloud-fairies if we're very,
very good, I have a plan: to cease to exist. In this world, the next
world, or any other world. Which isn't a bad thing. To cease to be 'one'
is to become a part of 'all' again, mingled with the rocks and trees,
bowler hats, photons, dust, antimatter, stars, marmalade, and the gossamer
fish-bats of Alpha Centauri. Is that so bad? To die is merely to give up
the illusion of self, and join the rest of the universe in the endless
atomic dance. That said, if there is another life after this one, I hope
it's less expensive. But you see? There's hope again. Hope is futile.
Action is what matters. Deeds, not words. Don't hope, but plan. And then
act upon your plan. Make it into motion. There's an old saying, "If wishes
were horses, beggars collide", or something. Hope is just another word for
'wish'. I wish a right turn on red was legal in Manhattan. What does that
have to do with my credentials as a progressive?

Lecturing, yes. I do that. But the beauty of the written word is that you
don't have to read it! So it's not really even a lecture, is it? Rather,
the problem is liberal/progressive types have been living without the
slightest whiff of opportunity to make fuck-all happen in this country for
so long that 1) they're surviving entirely on wishful thinking, and 2)
they're forming a circular firing squad. Look, people, I would love it if
Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton or Zippy the Pinhead for that matter won the
presidency and announced they were going to remove human rights from
corporate entities, ensure all Americans got free healthcare, pull our
military out of Iraq within the fortnight, and instead of spending 60% of
our red ink on war, we would spend it on the invention of a substance that
not only cured cancer and reversed global warming, but was chock full of
the good kind of cholesterol. I'd love that. But it's not going to happen,
and if you're hoping one of these candidates is a stealth socialist, this
would be a good time to start huffing lacquer thinner. Am I saying of
progressives that "nothing they do matters"? No, I'm saying most
progressives don't do diddly squat. I don't, and neither do you, probably.
That is, unless you're working your little toches off right this minute to
transform the way America does its business. Sure, I do a little work for
change, like write essays and send letters and march in marches and sport
a bumper sticker that reads "Impeachment Is Too Good For Them". Is that

Of course not. I need to start a political party called "The Independent
American Party", with a platform consisting of human rights, revocation of
corporate citizenship, the end of fossil and mineral fuels, and right on
red in Manhattan. I have not started that party yet, so hoping meanwhile
that Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or whatever corporate spokesperson makes
it to the White House will say, "I've lost my taste for the never-ending
gravy-flavored orgasm of infinite profit", then go all Che Guevara on the
Establishment, is plain embarrassing. If you think this is what the 2008
election is all about, you're not only hoping and wishing. You're
dreaming. But it is easier to attack a venomous old Cassandra like me for
daring to point out the incredibly obvious, than to admit you're high on a
fantasy that Things Are Going To Magically Turn Around. A suggestion:
rather than waste your time writing to me (except with lavish praise or
book offers), get out there and do something - like found a political
party. I'll work for it.

The same reader quoted above continues with the following speculation:

"Sometimes I think this site [Counterpunch] is paid for by the CIA or the
Republican party. Goal: keep progressive activists depressed and
discouraged. [A]nd inactive. And hey you're pretty good at that."

With all due respect to the reader that took the time and effort to
respond to my words, this is the most miserable, gutless, whimpering
jelly-wobble cop-out piece of snark that it is possible to express, and
also the most common. It's like listening to the non-athletic kids in gym
class accusing each other of ruining their throws when they fail to get
the basketball even halfway to the hoop. I know what I'm talking about. I
was one of those kids. Are we on the Left such delicate flowers (pansies,
for example) that we cannot face a little flinty-eyed examination of the
dangerous terrain ahead? Are we so sensitive and artistic and in touch
with our feelings that we can't so much as hear a word of dissent on our
side without wagging an admonitory finger? How dare I fail to click my
heels together three times and say, "There's no place like home!" What a
bunch of wilted pussy-ass vegan guitar-plucking Birkenstock dingleberries
we must be! No wonder we get the shit kicked out of us on a thrice-daily
basis. We deserve it.

So don't come crying to me, unless you have an interesting counterargument
to make. I reserve the right to bitch and moan just as much as I see fit,
which after all is one of those unalienable rights you used to hear about,
and if somebody else sees fit to print it, that's nobody's business but
his and mine, unless of course you're interested in reading it, in which
case as always caveat lector and argle-bargle away. But if you're going to
use some ill-tempered asshole like me as an excuse for not doing anything,
if you're depressed, discouraged, and inactive, is it not possible I say
this only out of compassion, of course, because I deeply care Is it
possible you're being just an ickle bit precious? You don't really imagine
the Left is in such appalling disarray because me and my radical ilk in
our grubby basement Biergeschfte aren't members of the Sunshine Optimist
Club. Pull yourselves together. Neither Obama nor Clinton is an authentic
progressive. Not even close. Sure, you can make the best of it. That's
what I'll be doing. But don't deceive yourself. "These are not", to quote
the prophet Kenobi, "the droids you're looking for."

That said, my grousing is probably counterproductive, guilty as charged, a
moaning streak of paralyzed piss with nothing good to say about anybody,
an armchair anarchist with all the spunk of a gutta percha dildo. But I'm
not depressed or discouraged. Why would I be? We Americans were born in a
rich and powerful land in a time of relative ease. For most of us,
sacrifice has been elective and hardship largely self-imposed. We haven't
been invaded or overthrown, nor have we endured pandemic or famine The
U.N. has never thrown sacks of rice at us out the backs of trucks. We're
so soft, so exquisitely coddled, we enjoy the incredible luxury to wince
at harsh words - words that, like hopes or feelings, have no corporeal
substance, no power but the power we surrender to them. The real problem
is that you and me, O constant reader, are both so wrapped up in our
precious little feelings and our comforts and our rainbow-colored utopian
dreams that we'd rather huck blame at each other than do the hard work
that needs to be done.

I admit it, I'm sort of froze up myself. If these are the candidates we
get, after all the Right has done to drive the public to the Left, I have
no idea where to begin. But I'm also not floating in some kind of fragile,
nitrous oxide-scented bubble of hope, dizzy on moon-bims. We have to be
realistic about the situation. It's hope, finally, that makes us sell out.
We get so downtrodden we'll do anything for a chance at that happy
dreamed-of outcome: find substance in the airiest speeches, comfort in the
slightest promises. Hope springs eternal. That's what makes it such a
useful tool of the elites in power, better than gunpowder. For every
promise they make, there's an "if": if you get me elected, if
circumstances are favorable, then it will be done. The "if" is just a wish
in disguise, and it almost never comes true. If we just elect more
Democrats, or elect more Republicans, or send more money, maybe next time,
if Whereas a well-considered plan, acted upon with vigor and determination
 - a robust third-party movement with a simple, encompassing platform, for
example - really can make hope into reality. Until then, I console myself
with the occasional check from the Republican National Committee, and of
course seeing my name in print.

Ben Tripp, author of Square in the Nuts, is a hack in many mediums. He may
be reached at credel [at]

--------21 of 21--------

 Bad folks say half-truths
 are half empty. Nice folks say
 say they are half-full.

 Super-not-nice folks
 ask just what the hell half-full
 truths are half-full of.

 Super-nice folks hate
 icky talk like that and wash
 out their mouths with fire.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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