Subject : Progressive Calendar 07.07.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2008 16:34:37 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   07.07.08

1. E-workshops     7.07 7pm
2. Health/uhcan-mn 7.07 7pm
3. War crimes play 7.07

4. Mumia Abu-Jamal - Power, justice and immunity
5. Ralph Nader - Greed without accountability - economic domino theory
6. Stan Cox    - Home gardens won't save you - fighting corporations will

--------1 of 6--------

From: Jonathan Barrentine <jonathan [at] e-democracy.org>
Subject: E-workshops 7.07 7pm

E-Democracy has a bunch of workshops this month.  Starting next week, we
will be running workshops at both the Rondo Library in St. Paul and the
Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis.

Rondo workshops:
Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:00pm - 8:30pm.
July 7  E-Tools for Citizen Participation
July 9  Online Tools for Group Collaboration
July 14 Online Video
July 16 Blogs and Blogging
July 21 Podcasting
July 23 Building Your Own Website
July 28 Staying Safe Online
July 30 E-Participation and Real-World Politics

Brian Coyle workshops:
Tuesdays from 10:30am to Noon.
July 8  Staying Safe on the Internet
July 15 Online Tools for Productivity and Collaboration
July 22 Online Tools for You and Your Community
July 29 Building Your Own Website


--------2 of 6--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org>
Subject: Health/uhcan-mn 7.07 7pm

Dear Health Care Activists,

The next UHCAN-MN organizing meeting is Monday, July 7, 7PM, Walker
Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Mpls. (Walker Church is 1 block from Lake Street
and Bloomington Ave). (Note: regularly scheduled mtgs continue to be first
Monday of each month).

Items  (yours' are welcome):
        -Reportback: List serve problems
        -Lisa Boynton from HealthCare United to network w/ UHCAN-MN
organizing Practitioners

 -Resist the RNC planning actions w/ North Star Health Collective,
 & Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign

 -2 Sicko Film showings, discussions; MayDay Books, & Student from
 Hamline want to network w/ us on this for August, Oct, respectively

 -Need Tablers for Fallout Art Festival,Sat. July 19, noon to 10PM

 -MN Health Fund update


--------3 of 6--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: War crimes play 7.07

7/7 to 7/29, play "After a Hundred Years" about U.S. journalist
interviewing Khmer Rouge general accused of war crimes, Guthrie Theater,
Dowling Studio, 818 S 2nd St, Mpls.  http://www.guthrietheater.org


--------4 of 6--------

Power, Justice and Immunity
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Jul 06, 2008
ZNet

There is an adage in Anglo-American law that says, "The King can do no
wrong," a reflection of the power of kings stemming from the conquest of
Britain by William the Conqueror in 1066.

It remains in American law under the doctrine called sovereign immunity,
which protects the government from suit by its citizens.

But beyond the law there is the practice of politicians of bowing to the
power of the president, no matter what he (or someday, she) does.

There is no question that Richard Nixon broke laws during the Watergate
scandal. Nor is there serious question that Ronald Reagan violated the
Boland Amendment, which outlawed aid to the contras in Nicaragua.

When the present Bush administration wiretapped the phone calls of
Americans it violated the F.I.S.A. (or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act) law, which required  secret court orders to proceed.

Yet, in none of these cases were presidents charged for violating the
laws.  Indeed, when Nixon was threatened with impeachment, his handpicked
successor, Gerald Ford, issued a pardon before any charges were even made!

There's an important lesson here, in that the presidents known as the
toughest on crime, didn't want that toughness when it came to their
crimes.

Historians have demonstrated that high ranking congressmen worked out a
nice, neat deal with Nixon, sparing him the embarrassment of impeachment
if he resigned.

Centuries after a revolution, in the name of democracy , and it's still
'the king can do no wrong.'  Or as Richard Nixon put it, "When the
President does it, that makes it legal."

Clearly, if George W. Bush has studied anything, it's Nixon.

From secret prisons to legalized torture; from renditions abroad to
wiretaps at home; from illegal wars to ruinous occupations, crimes - as in
violations of both U.S. and International laws - have become presidential
prerogatives.

And Congress has become legislative enablers, by not only taking
impeachment off the table, but by rewriting laws to make crimes legal, and
also granting retroactive immunity to those corporate criminals which
aided and abetted the White House in its crime sprees.

When the White House urged companies to quietly violate FISA by spying on
Americans' communications, both sides knew the law was being violated. If
this involved poor folks, conspiracy charges would've been leveled, and
the conspirators would've been cast into prison.

But in the recent FISA amendments, a majority of the members of the House
voted to grant immunity to phone companies.

How would you like that kind of juice?

Well, you can't have it.  You'd have to be a multi-million (or billion)
dollar corporation...or a president.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an acclaimed American journalist and author who has
been writing from Death Row for more than twenty-five years.

----
Mumia was sentenced to death after a trial that was so flagrantly racist
that Amnesty International dedicated an entire report to describing how
the trial "failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the
fairness of legal proceedings." The complete report is posted here:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/001/2000

Mumia is author of many books, including Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners
Defending Prisoners vs. The USA, forthcoming from City Lights Books.


--------5 of 6--------

Greed Without Accountability
Economic Domino Theory
By RALPH NADER
CounterPunch
July 2, 2008

The worst top management of giant corporations in American history is also
by far the most hugely paid. That contradiction applies as well to the
Boards of Directors of these global companies.

Consider these illustrations:

The bosses of General Motors (GM) have presided over the worst decline of
GM shares in the last fifty years, the lowering of GM bonds to junk
status, the largest money losses and layoffs of tens of thousands of
workers. Yet these top executives are still in place and still receiving
much more pay than their successful counterparts at Toyota.

GM's stock valuation is under $7 billion dollars, while Toyota is valued
at over $160 billion. Toyota, having passed GM in worldwide sales, is
about to catch up with and pass GM in sales inside the United States
itself!

GM's executives stayed with their gas guzzling SUVs way beyond the warning
signs. Their vehicles were uninspiring and technologically stagnant in
various ways. They were completely unprepared for Toyota's hybrid cars and
for the upward spiral in gasoline prices. They're cashing their lucrative
monthly checks with the regular votes of confidence by their hand-picked
Board of Directors.

About the same appraisal can be made of Ford Motor Co., which at least
brought in new management to try to do something about that once famous
company's sinking status.

Then there are the financial companies. Top management on Wall Street has
been beyond incompetent. Wild risk taking camouflaged for years by
multi-tiered, complex, abstract financial instruments (generally called
collateralized debt obligations) kept the joy ride going and going until
the massive financial hot air balloon started plummeting. Finally told to
leave their high posts, the CEOs of Merrill-Lynch and Citigroup took away
tens of millions of severance pay while Wall Street turned into Layoff
Street.

The banks, investment banks and brokerage firms have tanked to levels not
seen since the 1929-30 collapse of the stock market. Citigroup, once
valued at over $50 per share is now under $17 a share.

Washington Mutual - the nation's largest savings bank chain was over $40 a
share in 2007. Its reckless speculative binge has driven it down under $5
a share. Yet its CEO Kerry Killinger remains in charge, with the
continuing support of his rubberstamp Board of Directors. A recent $8
billion infusion of private capital gave a sweetheart deal to these new
investors at the excessive expense of the shareholders.

Countrywide, the infamous giant mortgage lender (subprime mortgages) is
about to be taken over by Bank of America. Its CEO is taking away a
reduced but still very generous compensation deal.

Meanwhile, all these banks and brokerage houses' investment analysts are
busy downgrading each others' stock prospects.

Over at the multi-trillion dollar companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,
the shareholders have lost about 75 percent of their stock value in one
year. Farcically regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs,
Fannie and Freddie were run into the ground by taking on very shaky
mortgages under the command of CEOs and their top executives who paid
themselves enormous sums.

These two institutions were set up many years ago to provide liquidity in
the housing and loan markets and thereby expand home ownership especially
among lower income families. Instead, they turned themselves into casinos,
taking advantage of an implied U.S. government guarantee.

The Fannie and Freddie bosses created another guarantee. They hired top
appointees from both Republican and Democratic Administrations (such as
Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick) and lathered them with tens of
millions of dollars in executive compensation. In this way, they kept
federal supervision at a minimum and held off efforts in Congress to
toughen regulation. These executives are all gone now, enjoying their
maharajan riches with impunity while pensions and mutual funds lose and
lose and lose with no end in sight, short of a government-taxpayer
bailout.

Over a year ago, leading financial analyst Henry Kaufman and very few
others warned about "undisciplined" (read unregulated) and "mis-pricing"
of lower quality assets. Mr. Kaufman wrote in the Wall Street Journal of
August 15, 2007 that "If some institutions are really 'too big to fail,'
then other means of discipline will have to be found".

There are ways to prevent such crashes. In the nineteen thirties,
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose stronger regulation, creating
the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and several bank regulatory
agencies. He saved the badly listing capitalist ship.

Today, there is no real momentum in a frozen Washington, D.C. to bring
regulation up to date. To the contrary, in 1999, Congress led by Senator
McCain's Advisor, former Senator Phil Gramm and the Clinton Administration
led by Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury, and soon to join Citibank,
de-regulated and ended the wall between investment banks and commercial
banking known as the Glass-Steagall Act.

Clinton and Congress opened the floodgates to rampant speculation without
even requiring necessary and timely disclosures for the benefit of
institutional and individual investors.

Now the entire U.S. economy is at risk. The domino theory is getting less
theoretical daily. Without investors obtaining more legal authority as
owners over their out of control company officers and Boards of Directors,
and without strong regulation, corporate capitalism cannot be saved from
its toxic combination of endless greed and maximum power-without
responsibility.

Uncle Sam, the deeply deficit ridden bailout man, may have another
taxpayers-to-the-rescue operation for Wall Street. But don't count on
stretching the American dollar much more without devastating consequences
to and from global financial markets in full panic.

Consider the U.S. dollar like an elastic band. You can keep stretching
this rubber band but suddenly it BREAKS. Our country needs action NOW from
Washington, D.C.

Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent.


--------6 of 6--------

Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You
-- Fighting the Corporations Will
By Stan Cox
AlterNet
Posted June 23, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/workplace/86943/

The corporate agriculture industry would like nothing better than to see
us spend all of our free time in our gardens and not in political dissent.

I didn't mean to lead anyone down the garden path. Adding my small voice
to those urging Americans to replace their lawns with food plants wasn't,
in itself, a bad idea. But now that food shortages and high costs are in
the headlines, too many people are getting the idea that the solution to
America's and the world's food problems is for all of us in cities and
suburbia to grow our own. It's not.

Don't get me wrong: Growing food just outside your front or back door is
an extraordinarily good idea, and if it's done without soil erosion or
toxic chemicals, I can think of no downside. Edible landscaping can look
good, and it saves money on groceries; it's a direct provocation to the
toxic lawn culture; gardening is quieter and less polluting than running a
power mower or other contraption; the harvest provides a substitute for
industrially grown produce raised and picked by underpaid, oversprayed
workers; and tending a garden takes a lot of time, time that might
otherwise be spent in a supermarket or shopping mall.

So it was in 2005 that our family volunteered our front lawn to be
converted into the first in a now-expanding chain of "Edible Estates," the
brainchild of Los Angeles architect/artist Fritz Haeg. We already had a
backyard garden, but growing food in the front yard (which, as Haeg
himself points out, is a reincarnation of a very old idea) has been a
wholly different, equally positive experience.

Our perennials and annuals are thriving, we've gotten a lot of publicity,
and I've been talking about the project for almost three years. Yet
neither of our gardens, front or back, can stand up to the looming
agricultural crisis. Good food's most well-read advocate, Michael Pollan,
has written that growing a garden is worth doing even though it can make
only a tiny contribution to curbing carbon-dioxide emissions. He might
have added that growing food is worth it even if it does very little to
revive the nation's food system.

              World cropland: the pie is mostly crust

The edible-landscaping trend is catching on across the country, and with
food prices rising, it has taking sadly predictable turns. A Boulder,
Colo. entrepreneur, for example, has tilled up his and several of his
neighbors' yards and started an erosion-prone, for- profit
vegetable-farming operation. It will supplement his income, but it won't
make a nick in the food crisis.

That's because the mainstays of home gardening -- vegetables and fruits --
are not the foundation of the human diet or of world agriculture. Each of
those two food types occupies only about 4 percent of global agricultural
land (and a smaller percentage in this country), compared with 75 percent
of world cropland devoted to grains and oilseeds. Their respective
portions of the human diet are similar.

Suppose that half of the land on every one-acre-or- smaller urban/suburban
home lot in the entire nation were devoted to food-growing. That would
amount to a little over 5 million acres (pdf) sown to food plants,
covering most of the space on each lot that's not already covered by the
house, a deck, a patio, or a driveway. (And in many places it couldn't be
done without cutting down shade trees and planting on unsuitably steep
slopes).

That theoretical 5 million acres of potential home cropland compares with
about 7 million acres of America's commercial cropland currently in
vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and 350 to 400 million acres of total
farmland. The urban and suburban area to be brought into production would
not approach the number of healthy acres of native grasses and other
plants that are slated to be plowed up to make way for yet more corn,
wheat, soybeans, and other grains under the newly passed federal Farm
Bill.

A nationwide grow-your-own wave would send good vibes through society,
ripples that could be greatly amplified by community and apartment-block
gardening. But front- and backyard food, even if everyone grew it, would
not cover the country's produce needs, much less displace our huge volume
of fresh-food imports.

We could, instead, plant every yard to wheat, corn, or soybeans, which
would account only for a little over two percent of the US land sown to
those crops. Other policies, like dispensing with grain-fed meat and fuel
ethanol, would free up far more grain-belt land than that.

                     Not even a poke in the eye

I've played a part in the promotion of domestic food- growing, and I now I
seem to hear daily from people who believe that it's the best alternative
to industrial agriculture (as in, "I'll show Monsanto and Wal-Mart that I
don't need their food!"). Even though most prominent home-lot food
efforts, like the "100-Foot Diet Challenge," also try to draw attention to
bigger issues, the wider message can get lost in the excitement. Whatever
its benefits, replacing your lawn with food plants will not give Big
Agribusiness the big poke in the eye that it needs, nor will it save the
agricultural landscapes of the nation or world.

To do that, the big-commodity market must be not just modified but
overthrown. Until then, most of that two- thirds or more of the human
calorie and protein intake that comes from grains and oilseeds (directly
in most of the world or among Western vegetarians, largely via animal
products for others in this country) will continue to be served up by a
dirty, cruel, unfair, broken system.

Essential for providing vitamins, minerals, and other compounds, a highly
varied diet is important, and home gardens around the world help provide
such a diet. But with a world population now approaching seven billion
people and most good cropland already in use, only rice, wheat, corn,
beans, and other grain crops are productive and durable enough to provide
the dietary foundation of calories and protein.

Grains made up about the same portion of the ancient Greek diet as they do
of ours. We've been stuck with grains for 10,000 years, and our dependence
won't be broken any time soon.

The United States emulate Argentina and a handful of other countries by
raising cattle that are totally grass-fed instead of grain-fed and thereby
consuming less corn and soybean meal. But most of the world is utterly
dependent on grains. The desperate people we saw on the evening news
earlier this year, filling the streets in dozens of countries, were
calling for bread or rice, not cucumbers and pomegranates.

             Capitalism: It doesn't go well with food

Humanity's attachment to cereals, grain legumes, and oilseeds has acquired
a much harder edge in the industrial era, but as a base for political and
economic power, the staple grains have always been unsurpassed. Because
they hold calories and nutrients in a dense package that can be easily
stored for long periods and transported, the more fortunate members of
ancient societies could accumulate surpluses. Those surpluses are
recognized by the majority of scholars as necessary to the birth of market
economies, which allowed the prosperous to exercise control over society's
have-nots. Eventually, states used control over grains to exert political
power over entire populations.

Few foods could have filled that role. Noting that before grain
agriculture came along, ancient Egyptians might have gathered a surplus of
various foods from nature, most of them highly perishable, economic
historian Robert Allen once wrote, "If all a tax collector could get from
foragers was a load of waterlilies that would wilt by next morning, what
was the point of having them?" The Pharaohs managed to exert control over
the area's population only after people started farming wheat and barley.

The even bigger problem with grains -- which are short- lived annual
plants, grown largely in monoculture -- is that they supplanted the
diverse, perennial plant ecosystems that covered the earth before the dawn
of agriculture. We've been living with the resulting soil erosion and
water pollution ever since.

Then, when grains became fully commodified a couple of centuries ago,
things really started to go downhill. In discussing his new book Stuffed
and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, Raj Patel cited
India as an example: "The social safety nets that existed in India under
feudal society had been knocked away by the British. If people couldn't
afford food, they didn't get to eat, and if they couldn't buy food, they
starved. As a result of the imposition of markets in food, 13 million
people across the world died in the 19th century. They died in the golden
age of liberal capitalism. Those are the origins of markets in food."

Indeed, if capitalism were a wine, it would be a wine that doesn't go well
with any type of food.

Most food today is produced not as an end in itself but as a by-product of
a global economy with the singular goal of turning maximum profit. That is
a dysfunctional arrangement, as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, the founder of
ecological economics explained almost 40 years ago in his book The Entropy
Law and the Economic Process: "So vital is the dependence of terrestrial
life on the energy received from the sun that the cyclic rhythm in which
this energy reaches each region on the earth has gradually built itself
through natural selection into the reproductive pattern of almost every
species, vegetal or animal ... Yet the general tenor among economists has
been to deny any substantial difference between the structures of
agricultural and industrial productive activities."

Industrial or commercial output can be increased by building more
capacity, stepping up the consumption of inputs, taking on more workers,
and pushing workers harder and for longer hours. Farming, by contrast, is
inevitably bound by the calendar -- by month-to-month variation in the
capacity of soil and sunlight to support the growth of plants. It depends
fundamentally on the productivity and the habits of non-human biological
organisms over which humans can exert control only up to a point.

That clearly isn't the ideal pattern for efficient wealth generation, so
the past century has seen relentless efforts to mold agriculture into the
factory model as closely as possible and, where that can't be done, to
graft more easily regimented industries -- farm machinery, fertilizers,
chemicals, food processing, the restaurant industry, packaging,
advertising -- onto an agricultural rootstock. In the US, the dollar
outputs of those dependent industries are growing at two to four times the
rate of agriculture's own dollar output, putting ever-greater demands on
the soil.

With a wholesale shift toward mechanization of US agriculture, 75 percent
of economic output now comes from fewer than 7 percent of farms;
furthermore, there has been a steep rise in the proportion of farms owned
by investors living in distant cities (some of them perhaps avid urban
gardeners).

Because, as Georgescu-Roegen showed, there's a fundamental difference
between the farm and the factory, the well-used term "factory farming"
represents more an aspiration than an accomplished fact. Nevertheless,
agribusiness's attempts to defy natural rhythms and achieve industrial
efficiency have been ecologically devastating. The biofuel craze,
encouraged by subsidies that continue in the new Farm Bill, compounds the
problem.

              "We must cultivate our garden," and ...

To repair the broken system that supplies the bulk of the nation's diet
will require Americans to step out of the garden and into the public
arena. Beyond working to get a better Farm Bill passed five years from
now, we have to work together to break the political choke-hold that
agribusiness has on federal and state governments.

With land and wealth being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands (and with
more prisoners than farmers in today's America) we have actually reached a
point at which land reform is as necessary here as it is in any nation of
Latin America or Asia. Only when we get more people back on the land,
working to feed people and not Monsanto, will the system have a chance to
work. Most home gardeners know that the root of the problem is political,
but the agricultural establishment would like nothing better than to see
us spend all of our free time in our gardens and not in political dissent.

Ironically, it's that great troublemaker Voltaire who has too often been
trotted out (and too often misquoted) as an advocate of withdrawing from
the tumult of society, into tending one's own property. Voltaire was
indeed a gardener, and he did end his most famous novel by having Candide,
after surviving so many far-flung hazards, utter those famous words to his
fellow wanderer Dr. Pangloss: "We must cultivate our garden."

However, with the publication of Candide in 1759, Voltaire entered the
most politically active part of his life, as he "went on to a series of
confrontations with the consequences of human cruelty that, two
hundred-odd years later, remain stirring in their courage and
perseverance," in the words of Adam Gopnik.

If Voltaire could find the time for both gardening and radical political
action, then all of us can do it.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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