Progressive Calendar 03.15.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2008 03:31:57 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.15.08

1. Women's rights    3.15 8am
2. Queer youth fest  3.15 9am
3. Workplace justice 3.15 10am
4. NWN4P Mtka        3.15 11am
5. Antiwar demo      3.15 1pm
6. Northtown vigil   3.15 2pm
7. Green career      3.15 2pm
8. Twain/war prayer  3.15 7:30pm StCloud MN

9. Stillwater vigil  3.16 1pm
10. McKinney/film    3.16 1:30pm
11. AI               3.16 3pm
12. How media lies   3.16 3pm

13. Joe Bodell     - Ciresi leaves Senate race; what next?
14. Mickey Z       - Antiwar and pro-troops? No way.
15. PC Roberts     - Watching the dollar die
16. Don Santina    - Vichy Dems: Pelosi & the politics of collaboration
17. Peter Erlinder - The torture of Sami Al Arian
18. Anonymous      - Ha ha

--------1 of 18--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Womens rights 3.15 8am

The 13th Annual International Women's Day Celebration: "Women Leading for
Global Justice"

Saturday, March 15, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. University of Minnesota,
Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis.
Plenary panel on indigenous rights, workshops, performances, film, visual
arts and display and information tables from over 60 co-sponsoring
organizations. Keynote Speaker: Robin Morgan. FFI: Call 612-341-3302
(extension 107) or email <mhunt [at]>.

--------2 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Queer youth fest 3.15 9am

Minnesota School OUTreach Coalition presents
The 3rd Annual Q-Quest Youth Fest!
A Conference Exploring and Celebrating the Voices of Queer Youth & Allies

Saturday, March 15th 2008
9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Webster Community School
425 Fifth Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Go to to register
online now!

Also: Adult volunteers needed!  Contact Jessi Tebben at
Out4Good [at]

 Explore Identity:/ Explore personal identity and voice within the context
of a diverse queer community.
 Plan for the Future:/ Consider options for education, career and family.
 Make Connections:/ Think, create, and celebrate with youth from

Who should come? Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning,
intersexed youth and straight allies ages 18 and under. (Youth aged 19-21
are also invited to join the event and share their experiences, but the
conference focuses on high school students.)

We warmly welcome GSA advisors or other school staff and parent
volunteers to attend as chaperones.
Cost: The entire event is free, including workshops, lunch, dinner,
and entertainment.

Conference sponsor:   The Minnesota School OUTreach Coalition, a
coalition of Minnesota students, educators, families, community members
and organizations working within the broad context of schools to address
the issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning people.

Registration:   Every participant (including school staff) must fill
out a registration form online.

Subject: Northtown vigil 3.15 2pm
What should I bring? Bring a positive attitude and the willingness to
network with other youth!  Please do not bring any valuables, weapons,
drugs, or alcohol.

--------3 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Workplace justice 3.15 10am

March 15: Workplace Justice. Support/Networking Meeting. 10 AM-Noon.
Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice St., St. Paul. 952/996-9291.

--------4 of 18--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P Mtka 3.15 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.

--------5 of 18--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Antiwar demo 3.15 1pm

Mass Antiwar Demonstration: "U.S. Out of Iraq Now!

Saturday, March 15, 1:00 p.m. Gather at Hennepin and Lagoon Avenues
(Uptown), Minneapolis. 1:30 p.m. March north down Hennepin Avenue for 1.5
miles to Loring Park at Oak Grove Street and Hennepin Ave. There will be a
closing rally near Loring Park. Join a mass antiwar demonstration to mark
the 5th anniversary of the war with a call of: "Not One More Death! Not
One More Dollar! Not One More Day! U.S. Out of Iraq Now! End the War and
Occupation! No War on Iran! Fund education, housing, health care and other
human needs! Bring the troops home now!" Initiated by: the Year-5
Committee to End the War. FFI or Interested in being a peace marshal?:
Call Marie Braun, 612-522-1861.

--------6 of 18--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.15 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av.), every Saturday
2:00 -- 3:00 PM.

--------7 of 18--------

From: Do it Green! <Do_it_Green [at]>
Subject: Green career 3.15 2pm

Saturday, March 15th: Green Careers with Barbara Parks of Green Career
Time: 2-4 PM
Location: Washburn Public Library (5244 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls).

--------8 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Twain/war prayer 3.15 7:30pm StCloud MN

Saturday, 3/15,7:30 pm, a readers' theater musical adaptation of Mark
Twain's "War Prayer," recognizing the 5th anniversary of America's
invasion of Iraq, University Lutheran Church, 390 S 4th Ave, St Cloud.
susan.rego [at]

--------9 of 18--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 3.16 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 you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------10 of 18-------

From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at]>
Subject: McKinney/film 3.16 1:30pm

The Green Party of St. Paul will host "American Blackout" featuring
Cynthia McKinney. American Blackout will be shown Sunday 3/16/08 at 1:30pm
at the Rondo Library in St. Paul.  The Rondo Library is at 461 Dale Street
(Dale & University Ave.) American Blackout is about the electoral fraud of
the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections.  Will your vote count in 2008?

If you have any questions please call Amber at 651 249-7286

--------11 of 18--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: AI 3.16 3pm

AIUSA & Group 37 News
Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, March 16th, from 3:00 to 5:00

Our presenter this month will be Group 37 member Gary King, who will
present slides and stories about his recent month in South Africa, with
"very, very inspiring news on their democracy today after undergoing the
crucible of Apartheid." Gary spent some time there with the Farisani
family -- Our group was active on behalf of Dean Tsehnu Farisani in the
1980s, when he spent several months in prison under the Apartheid
government, during which he was severely tortured.

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:

--------12 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: How media lies 3.16 3pm

Sunday, 3/16, 3 pm, IMPACT presents short film and discussion
"Constructing Public Opinion: How Politicians and the Media Misrepresent
the Public," Mayday Bookstore, 301 Cedar Ave S, Mpls.
vegan14ever [at]

--------13 of 18--------

Campaign Notebook: Ciresi leaves Senate race; what next?
By Joe Bodell, Minnesota Monitor
March 11, 2008

Following attorney Mike Ciresi's departure on Monday from the U.S. Senate
race, what happens now?

Ciresi's withdrawal leaves Al Franken going head-to-head with Jack
Nelson-Pallmeyer, who has gotten activists excited with his "most
important decade" stump speech. But Nelson-Pallmeyer has run into a
buzzsaw of heavy Franken support at conventions around the state. Though
he has raised less money than Ciresi did, and trails badly on that count,
Nelson-Pallmeyer managed to claim second place in the delegate chase even
before Ciresi withdrew. Still, the numbers game is working against
Nelson-Pallmeyer at this point in the campaign. Franken has won big in the
western suburbs, in Minneapolis, in St. Paul, in rural parts of the state,
pretty much everywhere.

An informal poll of several well-connected activists revealed few who
think the endorsement balloting at the state convention will go past the
first ballot. One said there would be plenty of delegates who simply will
not want to hand the endorsement to Franken on the first ballot. Another
said that Franken and Nelson-Pallmeyer are both trying to grab Ciresi's
committed delegates, and Franken definitely does not have it sewn up yet.
However, all said the endorsement would go to Franken with relative ease.

Expect little to change for Team Franken. Staffer Andy Barr said last
night via e-mail that "our campaign is still about all the same things
it's always been about - working hard to build a progressive coalition
that will not only win the DFL endorsement and beat (Republican) Norm
Coleman, but truly and fundamentally change our government and our
country". Still a long road to June and November.

[JNP said months ago that he would "honor the endorsement", that is,
support whoever gets the DFL endorsement and urge all followers and good
Dems to do likewise.  JNP provided "hope" for a lot of weary Dems; their
eyes would light up with "hope"; the DFL was for the time being a party of
hope and progress; one that could be and was being "reformed from within".
Hope hope glorious hope. With such hope thou shalt NOT join a progressive
third party, which is an invention of the devil. No, one lives in one's
hope, safely in the confines of the hope-happy DFL.

Until, of course, the clearly predictable loss of JNP to the most pliable
clueless corporate candidate - Al Franken. And the predictable JNP request
to have all his backers move to the right and support Franken. All of this
had to be known by the DFL and by JNP months ago; JNP's role was to offer
"hope" for months, until too late, and all that is left is the prize
booby, Al Franken. The DFL leaders know that most Dems will hold their
noses and surrender their votes and consciences, because "What else can we
do???" So the strategy pays off. It paid off re Kucinich in 2004, and and
will pay off in 2008 with JNP. Of course, it means the citizens never get
what they want, as they would if we lived in a democracy. But people got a
few months of cheap "hope". Quick: forget that underhanded trick;  be
ready for the next election's cardboard candidate of Hope. -ed]

--------14 of 18--------

Antiwar and Pro-Troops? No way.
by Mickey Z. / March 14th, 2008
Dissident Voice

For some, the phrase "support our troops" is merely a euphemism for:
support the policies that put the troops there in the first place. For
others - including many activists - the mantra is a safe way to avoid
taking an unqualified, uncompromising stand against this war (and all
war). Many who identify themselves as "anti-war" still vigorously defend
the troops - no questions asked.

The excuse making typically falls into two broad categories. The first
being: "Our troops are just following orders".

A simple Web search will find many reasons why this concept has no legal
basis. For example, Principle IV of Nuremberg Tribunal (1950) states: "The
fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a
superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law
provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him".

Besides this, it can be easily posited that "only following orders" also
has no moral footing. Of course, the facile example would be Nazi Germany.
But surely every suicide bomber is merely following orders as are those
detonating IEDs in Iraq. The Left praised Vietnam era draftees who fled to
Canada. Yet, today's volunteer warriors are given a free pass because they
didn't give the orders in an illegal war and occupation. This is not only
illegal and immoral; it also lacks any radical credibility. Somehow,
individuals and groups can stand tall against war and military
intervention but refuse to shine a light on those who choose (and get
paid) to fight. Nowhere else in the realm of activism does such a paradox

Consider the animal rights activists struggling to end the morally
indefensible and scientifically fraudulent enterprise of animal
experimentation. Can they expose the corporations and academic
institutions but somehow "support" the actual scientists performing the
lab experiments? Surely, they are "just doing their job" and "following

How about those fighting to end unfair labor practices? Is it acceptable
to call out the CEOs of Nike & The Gap but hang yellow ribbons for those
who handle day-to-day operations of a sweatshop in, say, Vietnam? These
men and women are just as "stuck in a bad situation" as any grunt in Iraq
or Afghanistan.

The second excuse usually sounds like this: "It's a poverty draft. These
poor souls have to enlist because they any economic options". America is
certainly an unjust economic society and this would be a compelling
argument - if it were true. A 2006 New York Times op-ed highlighted a
study by Tim Kane and Mackenzie Eaglen that "analyzed demographic data on
every single enlistee, not just a sample, and found that in terms of
education, last year's recruits were just as qualified as those of any
recent year, and maybe the best ever. Over all, wartime recruits since
1999 are in many respects comparable to the youth population on the whole,
except that they are on average a bit wealthier, much more likely to have
graduated from high school and more rural than their civilian peers". They
also found that youths "from wealthy American ZIP codes are volunteering
in ever higher numbers" while "enlistees from the poorest fifth of
American neighborhoods fell nearly a full percentage point over the last
two years, to 13.7 percent. In 1999, that number was exactly 18 percent".

So, are some of the soldiers in Iraq there primarily for economic reasons?
Sure. Did others sign up for a chance to shoot some "ragheads"? Probably.
After factoring out these two relatively small groups and rejecting the
illegal, immoral, and reactionary "only following orders" defense, I ask
this of anti-war activists: Exactly how are the men and women who
willingly signed up to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan immune from any
and all scrutiny and/or blame?

After all, what do you think "our troops" are doing? "We know that 99.9%
of our forces conduct themselves in an exemplary manner," says Donald
Rumsfeld. "We also know that in conflicts things that shouldn't happen do

If only 1/10 of 1% of US soldiers make "things happen that shouldn't
happen," what are the rest doing to make us stand and sing "God Bless
America" during the 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium? How do we define
exemplary manner?

By Rumsfeld's reckoning (and the standard company line of most every
politician, pundit, and peon) "exemplary" includes (among other things)
the use of Daisy Cutters, cluster bombs, napalm, depleted uranium, white
phosphorus, and the launching cruise missiles into crowded cities.

"Things that shouldn't happen do happen," Rumsfeld explains. But what
about all the stuff that this society accepts "should" happen? Why would
anyone besides a sadist feel compelled to support that unconditionally?

There are two powerful myths/ironies propping up the "support the troops"
premise. The first involves what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan in
the first place. I can't tell you how many e-mails I've received over the
years that read something like this: "While you sit at home in your
luxurious apartment, making money off your writing (insert laugh track
here), those brave men and women are putting their asses on the line to
fight for your freedom to write your anti-American garbage".

I say: Bullshit.

The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not fighting for my freedom. They
are fighting to keep the world safe for petroleum. If anything, since
9/11, our freedom has been slowly eroded and the presence of the US
military in Iraq and Afghanistan makes it harder for anyone to speak up in
dissent. If I were in an airport, and I spoke aloud what I've written in
this article, I'd likely be detained or arrested.

Irony #2: While most American citizens are manipulated, harassed, coerced,
and guilted into hanging yellow ribbons - even if they're anti-war - from
Shays Rebellion in 1787 to Coxey's Army to the Bonus Army to the Gulf War
Syndrome to a quarter-million homeless vets today, generation after
generation of US military personnel has suffered a lack of support from
their own government (and the corporations that own it). "Our troops" are
just as controlled and exploited as the US citizens that worship them.

And one more thing: Let's stop with the "our troops" charade. You and I
may foot the bill, but "we" have no say in what they do. If those truly
were "my" men and women, I'd bring them right home and put them to work
doing something useful - like turning the Long Island Expressway into the
world's longest organic farm.

Don't support the troops - inform them.

Mickey Z. is the author of the forthcoming novel, CPR for Dummies (Raw Dog
Screaming Press). He can be found on the Web at Read other
articles by Mickey, or visit Mickey's website.

This article was posted on Friday, March 14th, 2008 at 4:49 am and is
filed under Anti-War, Military/Militarism. Send to a friend.

--------15 of 18--------

Watching the Dollar Die
March 14, 2008

I've been watching the dollar die all my life.  I sometimes think I will
outlast it.

When I was a young man, gold was $35 an ounce.  Today one ounce gold
bullion coins, such as the Canadian Maple Leaf, cost more than $1,000.

Our coinage was silver.  Our dimes, quarters, and half dollars had
purchasing power.  Even the nickel could purchase a candy bar, ice cream
cone or soft drink, and a penny could purchase bubble gum or hard candy.
If a kid could collect 5 discarded soft drink bottles from a construction
site, the 2 cents deposit on the returnable bottles was enough for the
Saturday afternoon movie. Gasoline was 32 cents a gallon.  A dollar's
worth was enough for a Saturday night date.

Our silver coinage was 90 per cent silver.  People sometimes melted coins
in order to make silver spoons, known as coin silver, which can still be
found in antique shops.  Except for the reduced silver (40 per cent)
Kennedy half dollar which continued until 1970, 1964 was the last year of
America's silver coinage. The copper penny departed in 1982.  As Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury, I opposed the demise of America's last
commodity money, but I couldn't prevent the copper penny's death.

During World War II (1941-1945), nickel was diverted from coinage to war,
and the US mint issued a wartime silver (35 per cent) nickel.

It is not easy to find items to purchase with today's US coins, but the
silver coins of the same face value still have purchasing power.  The 10
cent piece of my youth contains $1.42 worth of silver at today's silver
price.  The quarter is worth $3.55, and the half dollar contains $7.10 of
silver.  The silver dollar is worth 15.2 times its face value. These are
just the silver values of coins that might be worth far more depending on
condition and rarity.  The silver in the wartime nickel is worth $1.10,
which is 22 times the coin's face value. Even the copper penny is worth
2.5 cents.

When I was a young man enjoying travels in Europe, the German mark or
Swiss franc traded four to one US dollar.  The euro, which is today's
equivalent to the mark, costs $1.55.

People who haven't accumulated much age have little idea of the corrosive
power of "acceptable" inflation.  Unlike gold and silver, fiat money has
no intrinsic value.  When money is created faster than goods and services
it drives up prices, thus driving down the value of the money.  If freely
traded currencies are excessively printed or if inflation, budget
deficits, and trade deficits drive currencies off their fixed exchange
rates, prices of imports rise as the foreign exchange value of the
currency falls.

Today the US, heavily dependent on imports, is subject to double-barrel
inflation from both domestic money creation and decline in the dollar's
foreign exchange value.

The US inflation rate is about twice as high as the government's inflation
measures report.  In order to hold down Social Security payments, the
government changed the way it measures inflation.  In the old measure,
inflation measured the nominal cost of a defined standard of living.  If
the price of steak rose, up went the inflation rate.  Today if the price
of steak rises, the government assumes that people switch to hamburger.
Inflation doesn't go up.  Instead, the standard of living it measures goes

This is just one of the many ways that the government pulls the wool over
our eyes.

With the dollar value of the euro rising through the roof, today a
vacation in Europe is far more costly than in the past. Thanks to China,
so far Americans have been sheltered from the greatest effects of the
dollar's declining value. Our greatest trade deficit is with China. The
prices of the goods from China have not risen, because China keeps its
currency pegged to the dollar.  As the dollar goes down, China's currency
goes with it, thus holding down price rises.

The resignation of Admiral William Fallon as US military commander in the
Middle East probably signals a Bush Regime attack on Iran.  Fallon said
that there would be no US attack on Iran on his watch.  As there was no
reason for Fallon to resign, it is not farfetched to conclude that Bush
has removed an obstacle to war with Iran.

The US is already over stretched both militarily and economically.  An
attack on Iran is likely to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal
editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor
of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:
PaulCraigRoberts [at]

--------16 of 18--------

Vichy Democrats: Pelosi and the Politics of Collaboration
March 14, 2008

As the Bush Administration's economic stimulus plan sailed through
Congress last month, a few Democratic senators timidly raised objections
to the legislation that Nancy Pelosi's House had approved, particularly in
relation to certain provisions deleted by the House. These provisions,
which would have provided critical assistance to people most hard hit by
the continuing recession included an extension of unemployment insurance,
expansion of food stamps, and rebates to the working poor whose incomes
fall below the radar of income tax requirements.

They lost.

"There's no reason for any more delay on this," House Speaker Pelosi said
as the Senate approved the plan.

In a not-surprising move earlier in the legislative process, Pelosi had
surrendered those provisions during a joint session with president's
budget crew. It was not surprising because in her fourteen month reign as
Speaker of the House, Pelosi has collaborated incisively and repeatedly
with the policies of the Bush Administration.

The term "collaboration" is popularly considered to be a construct of
WWII, but the phenomenon is certainly older than Judas and threads through
recorded history to its penultimate high point in Vichy France after the
German conquest in 1940. In Vichy France, the collaborators appeared in
basically two forms: active and passive collaboration with the German
masters. Simply stated, the active collaborators identified Jews and
resisters for the Nazis to take to the concentration camps, and the
passive collaborators watched it happen and made excuses about why they
could do nothing about it.

Through the power of her office, Speaker Pelosi's collaboration with the
White House Agenda has been both active and passive. For the sake of
identification, the White House Agenda can be defined as: aggression
overseas, suppression of dissent at home, and the transfer of wealth
upward to the richest segment of society.

The Speaker of the House is one of the most powerful positions in
Washington. The Speaker, selected from the majority party, controls the
inner workings of the House, determining who goes on what committee, what
legislation gets considered, and what hearings are to be scheduled in
support of legislation. Conversely, the Speaker also decides who doesn't
go on what committee, what legislation never gets considered, and what
hearings will never be called.

Let's look at the practice of active collaboration through the categories
of the White House Agenda. For starters, there's Speaker Pelosi's
continued funding of undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the illegal
occupation of Haiti, support of the Colombian government's reign of
terror, Israel's scorched earth policy in Lebanon, and aggressive
posturing toward countries like Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. In lockstep with
imperial White House policy, Pelosi called the democratically-elected
president of Venezuela a "thug" for stating that our questionably-elected
president was promoting a "democracy of bombs".

In terms of legislation, perhaps the most egregious transfers of wealth
upward under Speaker Pelosi's stewardship were the Energy Bill, the Farm
Bill and the Peru Free Trade Agreement. The Energy Bill was not
substantially different from the legislation Dick Cheney created on secret
several years ago.  The oil, coal and power companies all got what their
lobbyists bought.

The Farm Bill was a lay-down-and-roll-over capitulation to the corporate
greed of giant unregulated agribusiness, even in this day of massive meat
recalls from feedlot cattle production and other destructive agricultural
practices such as the use of pesticides and squandering of water
resources.  To add insult to injury, after virtually excluding support for
organic farming from the big buck bill, Speaker Pelosi directed House
cafeterias to serve organic meals. Like health care, it's obvious that
Pelosi believes that what's good for Congress is not for good the rest of

Speaker Pelosi actively trumpeted the Bush Administration's Peru Free
Trade Agreement, yet another offspring of NAFTA. NAFTA, championed by
President Clinton and supported by Pelosi in 1993, has become the poster
child of the multinational corporations' eternal quest for cheap non-union
labor. In 2002, the Economic Policy Institute estimated that NAFTA had
eliminated 879,000 American jobs.  It also devastated Mexico by disrupting
the work force and dumping subsidized American corn on its markets. The
trade agreement passed the House with yes votes from all of the
Republicans plus Pelosi and 108 other Vichy Democrats.

In terms of passive collaboration with the White House Agenda, we
encounter the fact that since Speaker Pelosi's House held hearings on the
steroid farce in baseball, Pelosi's House Can Hold Hearings On Anything.
That being the case, not calling for hearings on issues vital to the
American public is an act of passive collaboration.

Where are the hearings on Katrina? Where are the hearings on the new
American policy of torture?  Who was responsible for Abu Graib and the
secret prisons around the world? What about warrantless wiretapping and
the removal of habeas corpus from the judicial system? No bid contracts to
Halliburton, the vice president's company? Who rigged the 2000 and 2004
Florida and Ohio elections? What about the fact that 35.5 million
Americans went hungry in 2006?  Why isn't there an investigation into the
predatory lending schemes and bundling that created the mortgage crisis?
Bush's signing statements and the Constitution? Why are the oil companies
reaping vast profits while working people pour their pay checks into the
gas pumps?

And, of course, the 500 pound gorilla: where are the impeachment hearings
for grievous lies and heinous falsifications that led to the preemptive
war on Iraq? Hundreds of thousands dead, thousands injured and wounded,
millions displaced. No hearings. The carnage continues.

"Impeachment is not on the table," Speaker Pelosi stated fourteen months
ago and - bunker like - has continued to suffocate all efforts to bring
the White House's treasonable activities to the table.

Our prison system - which is now the largest in the world - is filled with
non-violent drug offenders and petty criminals. When sentencing these
people to the living death of prison, our courts are known for laying on
bromides like "you have to be responsible for your actions. A civil
society demands that we must have accountability!"

And yet there is no accountability in Washington. No one is held
responsible for crimes against humanity. And no one will be held
responsible as long as the Vichy Democrats remain in power.

[And yet many will line up to vote lesser evil. They will beg "What else
can we do? So we wind up approving of war and torture and imperialism and
so on, you know, but what other choice do the powers that be let us have??
So we HAVE to collaborate, we HAVE to dull our consciences and call down
misery on other people (please to god it not be on us too)."  Is this a
profile in courage? If our all ancestors had thought and acted this way,
we'd all be slaves. -ed]

Don Santina is a cultural historian who received a Superior Scribing award
for his Counterpunch article "Reparations for the Blues". He also details
Nancy Pelosi's privatization projects in "Ethnic Cleansing in San
Francisco" which appeared in the September 29-30, 2007 issue of
Counterpunch. He can be reached at lindey89 [at]

--------17 of 18--------

The Torture of Sami Al Arian
by Peter Erlinder
Published on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 by JURIST

The storm of criticism that followed George Bush's weekend veto of
Congressional limits on the CIA's use of torture might lead to the
conclusion that, reprehensible as "torture" might be in remote, secret CIA
locations, it could never happen here in the US. But the Bush
administration's abuse of power in its treatment of Dr. Sami al Arian and
other acquitted Palestinian "terrorism-defendants" has already
demonstrated that "torture" for this administration is commonplace - even

In December 2005, a Tampa jury acquitted Dr. Al Arian of "terrorism"
charges. Two years later he is still in prison, and in the 6th day of a
hunger-strike because the Bush administration refuses to honor a May 2006
promise to release and deport him. Unless he receives proper medical care
within days, he risks irreversible renal failure and death - all under the
watchful eyes of the Bush "Justice" Department.

Apparently, "legal black holes" like Guantanamo can be created without
having to set-up a special overseas prison, if domestic law can be
sufficiently manipulated. And the Bush administration is very, very good
at manipulation, both legal and otherwise.

         A Propagandized Arrest and Pre-Trial Torture

In a February 2003 Moscow press conference, then Attorney-General John
Ashcroft breathlessly announced the FBI capture of "the major North
American financier for terrorism in the middle-east", in Tampa, Florida,
of all places. Ashcroft pointed proudly to obviously, pre-arranged media
coverage of a shackled Dr. Sami Al Arian being taken from his home by a
SWAT team, with his children cowering in the background.

The images were a lot like those of US troops and cowering Iraqi women.
But this was not Iraq, or Afghanistan. And Dr. Al Arian was never even
suspected of any violence. He was a well-known and well-respected academic
and Palestinian activist, and that, the jury concluded more that 2 years
later, had been his only "crime."

For more than a year before trial, Dr. Al Arian was in Super-Max isolation
on 24/7 lockdown. He was denied family visits and was chained whenever he
was out of his cell, even to talk to his lawyers. Super-Max prisoners are
usually only convicts too violent to live in the general prison
population, criminals among criminals. But the Bush administration put Dr.
Al Arian in the Super-Max, hundreds of miles from his family, even before
the final charges against him had been decided, and without even accusing
him of being violent. It was torture.

On top of Guantanamo-like conditions, Dr. Al Arian was denied warm
clothing, writing materials and was subject to taunting guards, convinced
by Bush administration propaganda that he was a second Osama bin Laden.
Things got so bad that the Justice Department Inspector General is
investigating abuse by guards. A UN body formally objected to his
conditions of confinement before trial.

By the beginning of trial in July 2005, the original 200 charges against
Dr. Al Arian and his 3 co-defendants were reduced to eliminate any mention
of the accusations leveled by Ashcroft. But the remaining 94
"terrorism-related" counts could result in the death penalty or life in
prison, including the 17 counts facing Dr. Al Arian, if he had been
convicted. But he wasn't convicted, and neither were any of his

       Trial By Jury: Still a "Bulwark" Against Government Abuse

After hearing 6 months of evidence, including 80 witnesses; hundreds of
hours of FISA wiretaps culled from 425,000 conversations recorded over 10
years; testimony of Israeli intelligence agents; heart-wrenching testimony
of Israeli suicide bombing victims; graphic video of suffering bombing
victims; and more than $50 million in taxpayer money being thrown at the
case, the jury refused to find any of the defendants guilty of anything!

Dr. Al Arian's lawyers, Linda Moreno and Bill Moffett, did not call one
witness or put on one piece of evidence. The defense was the First
Amendment right to free speech and the lack of any connection between Dr.
Al Arian's lawful support for the Palestinian struggle in the U.S. and the
tragic violence connected to Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine.

On December 2005 TIME Magazine called Dr. Al Arian's acquittal "the
biggest defeat for the Bush Administration to date" [1], and so it was. It
was also a victory for the United States Constitution. The Tampa jury
upheld the best traditions of our Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial,
that is supposed to be a "bulwark" against misuse of governmental power.

For a while it seemed that the Constitution was actually working the way
it was supposed to, but the Bush administration made sure that this
illusion did not last for long. Within days, the administration said they
were going to re-try Dr. Al Arian on the lesser charges on which the jury
"hung" 10-2 for acquittal. Re-trial is not illegal, but highly unusual
when the evidence was so clearly rejected by the jury.

But at the same time the Bush administration was telling the world they
would try Dr. Al Arian again, they secretly approached Al Arian's lawyers
with "an offer he couldn't refuse" in early 2006 to avoid government being
embarrassed by another acquittal.

            Setting the Trap: "An Offer He Couldn't Refuse"

The Bush-administration promised to: (a) drop all charges; (b) release Dr.
Al Arian in 30 days; and (c) assist in deporting him to country of his
choice, immediately upon his release. Compared to the death penalty or
life in prison that he had been facing weeks earlier, it was a difficult
offer to turn down but he did precisely that, because there were a couple
of "catches" he and his lawyers refused to accept.

First, he would have to plead guilty to a crime, and he had not committed
any crimes. Second, the standard Tampa plea-agreement had a "grand jury
co-operation" clause, and Dr. Al Arian would not agree to either. The Bush
administration panicked and sweetened their offer.

If Dr. Al Arian would only admit having helped his brother-in-law with
immigration matters, and not telling a reporter about a colleague's
political associations, both of which were true, and neither of which were
crimes, the Bush-administration would agree call the legal, non- violent
acts evidence of a "conspiracy," and recommend his release by the end of
May 2006.

But Dr. Al Arian and his lawyers still said "no-deal" because he
absolutely refused to "co-operate" with a Bush Justice Department that had
set him up and prosecuted him for political reasons. So the Bush-
administration "blinked" again, because they needed to avoid another
embarrassing defeat.

This time, they removed the "grand jury co-operation" requirement because,
as they admitted in court, it was only way to get his name on the dotted
line. They also admitted, in court on April 14, that the terms of their
agreement with Al Arian had been approved in Washington, D.C. and
specifically applied to Alexandria, Virginia, the federal district where
most of the Pentagon's employees live and a favorite place for grand-jury
"terrorism" investigations.

                    The "Trap" Begins to Close

But when Dr. Al Arian appeared in court on May 1, 2006, expecting the
agreement to become final, and to be released before the month was out,
the game changed. Judge James Moody agreed to immediate deportation (which
means neither the judge or the Bush-administration considered him
dangerous) and all other charges were dropped. Instead of time-served
release and deportation, the judge sentenced him to the constitutional
maximum sentence, another year in prison, and read a prepared statement
publicly declaring him guilty of "killing women and children in Israel."

In essence, the judge convicted Dr. Al Arian of the same violent offenses
that the jury had rejected. Several of the jurors went public after the
sentencing hearing expressing outrage that the judge had ignored their
verdict. So much for the Sixth Amendment.

Instead of beginning a new life in May 2006, as the Bush Administration
led him to believe would happen, Dr. Al Arian would be in prison until
April 2007. But there was no reason to think that the Bush administration
was actually manipulating the legal system - yet.

       The Bush Administration's Post-Acquittal "Torture-Strategy"

On May 10, 2006 the "trap" snapped shut when the Assistant U.S. Attorney
in Alexandria sought a secret order calling Dr. Al Arian before the very
Alexandria grand jury that the Tampa prosecutor said had been covered by
the "no grand jury cooperation" agreement. Neither Dr. Al Arian nor his
lawyers knew about the secret order until October 2006, when AUSA Gordon
Kromberg informed them Dr. Al Arian would be brought before the grand jury
- during Ramadan.

When Dr. Al Arian appeared before the grand jury and relied on the "no-
grand jury cooperation" promise, Judge Lee held him in contempt of court,
and he was in contempt detention until December 2007, when the grand jury
expires, which effectively extended original May 2006 release until April
7, 2008, two years after the Bush administration promised he would be
released and deported.

               Last Week: Another Turn of the Screw

On March 3, 2008 AUSA Kromberg turned the torture screw up another notch,
when Dr. Al Arian was brought back to court and informed that he would be
called before yet another grand jury on March 19, 2008, this time only 3
weeks before his latest release and deportation date. If he insists on the
Bush administration respecting its "no-grand jury cooperation" promise
again, he is likely to be held in contempt again, which will effectively
cancel the April release date and extend his time in prison again -
indefinitely. And, he has to insist on it because terms of the plea
agreement "contract" are still on appeal, a Catch-22, if there ever was

But, there is a more sinister manipulation in the works. AUSA Kromberg has
charged other acquitted Palestinian defendants with perjury, when they did
testify before his grand jury. Other acquitted Palestinian defendants have
been charged with "obstruction of justice," when they declined. Dr. Al
Arian's lawyer, George Washington Univesity law professor Jon Turley has
said that Kromberg is "setting up Al Arian for a perjury/obstruction

The other acquitted Palestinian defendants facing the same "Hobson's
choice" have been given "terrorism-enhanced" sentences of 5 to 10 years
whether they answered grand jury questions or not after American juries
already acquitted them of the underlying charges. Imprisoned for a decade
after being acquitted certainly could be called "torture", or at least

Neither Alberto Gonzalez, nor "General Mukasey" (as he apparently referred
to in White House circles) have done anything to rein in this misuse of
prosecutorial power, but neither have the Courts nor the
Democrat-controlled Senate and House Judiciary Committees even though both
Chairmen, Sen. Leahy and Cong. Conyers, were made aware of this blatant
manipulation of prosecutorial power, for apparently political purposes,
more than a year ago.  [And yet so many Dem blind-hopers will swallow
anything no matter how absurd just so long as they can maintain their
cheap hope and do nothing but smile weakly for a while - until the next
betrayal. The powers that be have *nothing* to fear from such blind
hopers. As the ship goes down, they close their eyes. -ed]

                  Dr. Al Arian's Last Protest Fast

But now, the Bush administration, the Courts and Congressional oversight
committees have a chance to intervene. On March 4, 2008, the day after the
"perjury/obstruction" trap was sent by Kromberg, Dr. Al Arian began a
complete food and water fast to protest, in the only way he can, the
perfidy of the Bush administration, and the "torture" caused by its
rejection of the constitution and abuse of its power.

This is Dr. Al Arian's third hunger-strike during his 5 years of
imprisonment. The first was in 2005 and lasted 140 days on liquids only,
before he was permitted the lawyers of his choice. In early 2006 he drank
only water for 60 days, when the court refused to require the
Bush-administration to honor their "no grand jury cooperation" promise,
the first time. Now, he is refusing all food and liquids was transferred
to the prison hospital on March 5. But he is not getting necessary medical

As of Monday, March 10, Dr. Al Arian has not received any intravenous
liquids, and he is in danger of irreversible renal failure - yet another
kind of torture, that could be ended with proper medical care. If Dr. Al
Arian dies, AUSA Kromberg will have accomplished his stated "mission", so
the question is, will anybody else respond, before it is too late?

                 End the Torture of Dr. Al Arian Now!

Between now and his April 7, 2008 release/deportation date, Kromberg will
have to bring Dr. Al-Arian before the grand jury on a stretcher, kept
alive by IV's, assuming he receives proper treatment in the next day or
two. Unless, of course, the Congress, the Courts or Mukasey put an end to
the torture he has so far been subjected to. While Mukasey or Bush could
release Al Arian with the stroke of a pen. Bush's veto of the torture
limitation bill is an indication that Dr. Al Arian's own torture will not
be ended without the intervention of the Congress, the Courts, or the
American people.

The torture of Dr. Al Arian is not "water-boarding," nor the "enhanced
interrogation techniques" that Bush says is now part of America's regular
way of doing business - but it is "torture" nonetheless. The Bush veto on
Saturday demonstrates the Bush-Cheney "war on terror" is not really about
terrorism at all, but is a politically-motivated assault directed against
the constitution and the rule of law.

A government that is unwilling to publicly renounce torture committed in
its name, and in the name of the American people, is capable of doing
anything, to anybody, at any time, and the Al Arian case is a prime
example of a lawless regime displaying itself to the world.[2] The Al
Arian case is not law, it is politics - and torture. It is time for
Congress, the Courts and the American people to put an end to the legal
torture of Dr. Al Arian, now.

Release him!

Peter Erlinder is a professor at William Mitchell College of Law, St.
Paul, MN and attorney on appeal for Dr. Sami Al Arian in appeals to the US
4th Circuit, the 11th Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States -
all of which have declined to intervene in his case. E- mail
peter.erlinder [at]

 2008 Peter Erlinder


[1] TIME Magazine, December 19, 2005, "When Terrorism Charges Just Won't

[2] The Al Arian case is the subject of USA v. Al Arian, awarded the prize
for best documentary at the Nordic Film Festival in 2007, which is being
shown in film festivals and other venues worldwide.

--------18 of 18--------

Ha ha

Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their
days interesting. Well, for example, the other day I went downtown and
into a shop. I was only there for about 5 minutes, and when I came out,
there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. I said to him, "Come on,
man, how about giving a retired person a break"? He ignored me and
continued writing the ticket. I called him a "Nazi." He glared at me and
wrote another ticket for having worn tires. So I called him a "doughnut
eating Gestapo." He finished the second ticket and put it on the
windshield with the first. Then he wrote a third ticket. This went on for
about 20 minutes. The more I abused him the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, I didn't care. I came downtown on the bus, and the car that he
was putting the tickets on had a bumper sticker that said, "Hillary in
'08." I try to have a little fun each day now that I'm retired. It's
important to my health.


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