|Progressive Calendar 08.03.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 3 Aug 2008 04:10:31 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 08.03.08 1. Atheists Talk 8.03 9am 2. Nonviolent brunch 8.03 11am 3. Stillwater vigil 8.03 1pm 4. RNC 8.03 6:30pm 5. Peace walk 8.04 6pm RiverFalls WI 6. Food/democracy 8.04 6pm 7. Peace Is jazz 8.04 6:30pm 8. Harvey Wasserman - Westmoreland, LBJ, Nixon the real 60s terrorists 9. Barbara L Minton - Crisis looms as corps seize control of commodities 10. Jonathan Tasini - Why are Democrats taking money from Wal-Mart? 11. Brian Cloughley - Bases upon bases: baleful imperial power 12. Kip Sullivan - Union-backed plan vs real health care reform 13. Sandy Eaton - In health care reform, MA shows how not to do it --------1 of 13-------- From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at] gmail.com> Subject: Atheists Talk 8.03 9am Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show Sunday, August 3, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time A conversation with Jeff Shell and Lee Michaels, co-hosts of the Christian talk radio show "KKMS Live with Jeff & Lee," interviewed by August Berkshire, president of Minnesota Atheists. "Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. To stream live, go to http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen. Podcasts of past shows are available at http://MinnesotaAtheists.org or through iTunes. Program Notes are available at http://MinnesotaAtheists.org. --------2 of 13--------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Nonviolent brunch 8.03 11am Sunday, 8/3, 11 am to 1 pm, benefit brunch to benefit the Nonviolent Peaceforce, St Frances Cabrini Church, 1500 Franklin Ave, Mpls. Suggested $5 donation. http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org --------3 of 13-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 8.03 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------4 of 13-------- From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> Subject: RNC 8.03 6:30pm RNC Welcoming Committee mtg, SUNDAY, Aug. 3, 6:30 PM at Powderhorn Park Rec Center, 35th street and 15th ave, Mpls. --------5 of 13-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 8.04 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------6 of 13-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Food/democracy 8.04 6pm Monday, August 4: Women's Environmental Institute. Organic Farm School: Food and Democracy with Mark Ritchie, MN Secretary of State and former President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. 6:00 - 8:00 PM at Open Book in Minneapolis. Register. --------7 of 13-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peace Is jazz 8.04 6:30pm Monday, 8/4, 6:30 pm, jazz concert to support the Peace Island conference, with keyboardist George Maurer, trombone Jim Ten Bensil, vocalists T Mychael Rambo, Mary Jane Alm and Ann Michaels, St Joan of Arc Church 4537 - 3rd Ave S, Mpls. Tickets $25. http://www.mapm.org or http://www.peaceisland.us --------8 of 13-------- Westmoreland, Johnson and Nixon Meet the Real Terrorists of the 1960s By HARVERY WASSERMAN CounterPunch August 2 / 3, 2008 Hate-mongering against alleged :leftist 1960s terrorists" now fills the days of anti-Obama rage for the Rovian bloviator battalion. Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, Baby Boom professors, social workers , etc, are front and center for the hateful blatherings of the usual GOP flunkies all cowering at the prospect of an African-American president. But there were, indeed, three 1960s terrorists whose murderous, planet-killing rampage continues to poison this nation. They tower above all others. Their names: William Westmoreland, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon. This unholy trinity killed outright more than 55,000 Americans and several million southeast Asians---most of them innocent civilians---while bombing, strafing and spewing horrific toxic chemicals onto countless of square miles of previously pristine jungle. Their Agent Orange caused tens of thousands of deaths and deformities that still carry through the generations. No single terror act in the history of the United States even remotely compares to the lethal psychosis that created and was then furthered by the Vietnam War. As Commander In Chief of US forces in Southeast Asia, Westmoreland dragged the US into the Vietnam quagmire. He repeatedly assured Lyndon Johnson that Vietnam's north-south civil war was "winnable". In the 1980s I debated Westmoreland on two campuses (the University of Florida and Juneata College) and heard him tell me directly that "we never lost the war in Vietnam". According to the man who lit the fuse, the US spent all those lives and dollars "successfully protecting" Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines from Communist dictatorships. Never mind that Suharto (Indonesia), Lee Kwan Yew (Singapore), and Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines) were among history's most violent and authoritarian kleptocrats. In Westmoreland's world, all that death, destruction and expenditure were worth it to keep these torturers in office while they stacked billions of public dollars in their private bank accounts. Lyndon Johnson bought Westmoreland's lies. With Defense Secretary Robert McNamara explaining the war in terms of "kill ratios," Johnson used a fake non-attack by alleged North Vietnamese gunboats to get a blank check from Congress and impose wholesale slaughter on both the US and Vietnam. Johnson's March, 1965, decision to escalate the war is arguably the turning point from which America's moral standing and quality of life took their definitive downward plunge. While he crumbled from the psychological and spiritual strain, LBJ sent 550,000 Americans to Vietnam to perpetrate a human and ecological slaughter on a scale unique in the modern annals of gratuitous terror. Richard Nixon followed with still more. After winning the presidency based on a "Secret Plan" to end the war, he escalated air attacks on an innocent nation that exceeded all the explosive tonnage dropped during World War 2. Nixon illegally expanded the war into Cambodia, where three million civilians eventually died in wholesale slaughter. At home, Nixon's close friend, Governor James A. Rhodes, furnished the Ohio National Guard with the live ammunition they used to kill four unarmed students. Two more died soon thereafter in an official attack on a college dormitory at Mississippi's Jackson State. A clearly deranged psychotic, Nixon's resignation journey should have taken him straight to prison, rather than to a presidential retreat alongside the Pacific. None of these horrific terrorists was ever prosecuted or imprisoned. But their ungodly assault drove America's economy, currency, health care and educational systems, moral and military standing, and much, much more, into a deep decline from which we have yet to recover. None of those bilious corporate bloviators ever mention these highest-ranking terrorists in their rants against all things sixties. But when it comes to an American axis of evil perpetrating useless, gratuitous and totally unredeemed mass destruction of people and the planet, this is the 1960s trio that overshadows all others. Harvey Wasserman, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw [at] aol.com --------9 of 13-------- Crisis Looms as Corporations Seize Control of Commodities by Barbara L. Minton Common Dreams Published on Saturday, August 2, 2008 by NaturalNews.com The global food crisis won.t go away any time soon. Capitalism has the average consumer by the belly. Amid growing signs of famine and outrage, the entire chain of commodities and resources of the world are now being cornered by giant corporations. Farmland, water, fertilizer, seed, energy, and most of the basic necessities of life are falling under corporate control, providing increased wealth and power to the ruling elite while the rest of humanity struggles. Commodity scarcity in India was recently reflected in the need to distribute fertilizer from the police station in Hingoli. Now police have to control the lines that form outside of dealer outlets, because the dealers won't open for business otherwise. Without this intervention there would be no fertilizer for the planting that must take place before the rain comes. In Akola and Nanded, police involvement is also needed. Agriculture officers have fled their work places to escape angry farmers. In Karnataka, a farmer was shot dead during protests, while farmers stormed meetings and set up road blocks in other districts. Despite the success of the genetically engineered Bt cotton crops, the trend in India is now back to soybeans because they cost less to grow and need less fertilizer than cotton. And it's not just fertilizer that is scarce. Seeds are also in short supply which is being blamed on agitation that has interfered with freight train traffic. However, the shortfall in seeds is 60 percent, a level more indicative of corporate intervention to drive up prices than the actions of powerless farmers. As farmers fume, the Wall Street Journal heralds the whopping 42 percent jump in the fiscal third quarter profits of huge agriculture giant Archer-Daniels Midland. This increase includes a sevenfold rise in new income in units that store, transport and grade grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans. The soaring profits of fertilizer maker Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan are reflected in the parabolic movement of its stock price from a yearly low of $70.35 to its current price of $238.22 per share. Shares of fertilizer and animal feed producer Mosaic Corp. have risen from a yearly low of $32.50 to a current price of $159.38. Similar windfall profits are reported by GMO seed and herbicide king Monsanto whose last quarterly earnings surged by 45%. Some onlookers blame the financial speculators for driving up the prices of commodities related to agriculture as wealthy investors have piled on looking to cash in on the rising stock prices. And in many ways, today's commodity market resembles the dot.com boom seen at the turn of the century, as well as the housing boom now in the throws of its bust. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission recently held a hearing to investigate the role that index funds and hedge funds are playing in driving up the prices of agricultural commodities. Total public fund investment in corn, soybean, wheat, cattle and hogs has risen by 37 billion dollars since 2006. This figure does not include the huge investments of hedge funds which don't have to make such disclosure. It also doesn't include the massive world wide investments in farmland made by the wealthy. The corporate spin is that these investments are helpful to humanity because they will ultimately result in increased food production at a time of rising world demand. They cite the need for increased corporate profits to invest in and develop new technologies that will help farmers improve productivity. This is how GMO seeds are being driven down the throats of farmers, who are told that the modified seeds can squeeze even more yield from each acre of planting. India has joined other developing countries in the decision to invest less in agriculture as advised by the World Bank-IMF, whose agenda has been to discourage crops for domestic consumption while encouraging production to spur export driven growth. This advice coupled with corporate sponsored deregulation has paved the way for corporate control of the farming process from seed to market. Research and development that was once the domain of universities has also fallen into corporate control. Farmers in India are caught in a credit crunch. Even if they are able to get the needed fertilizer, they will not have the credit to pay for it. With no increase in farmer income, larger loans are not advanced. The outlook for the small farmer there is much the same as it was in the U.S. thirty years ago, during the height of the small farms falling to big agribusiness. Corporations blame food shortages and rising prices on the people of China and India whose burgeoning income from manufacturing has allowed the average worker to increase both the amount and quality of his food consumption. But for the corporations, the increased demand for food is a guarantee of super profits to come. Of course the other commodity you can't get along without is water, which is now the focus of huge multinational companies seeking to privatize water world wide, perhaps even patent it as Monsanto did with seeds. The fight over water may bring chaos, conflict and misery on a scale never seen before as corporations and governments go so far as to grab the wells from under people's houses. And then there's oil. To produce chemical fertilizer you must make use of fossil fuel. So rising oil prices and rising food prices are joined at the hip. The behavior of corporations in the oil business has been so egregious that there is talk of a windfall profits tax here and abroad. No, the food crisis will not go away anytime soon. North Korea, Burma and Western Sudan are currently feeling a real threat of starvation while western governments manipulated by corporations continue to promote the diversion of food into biofuels to further exacerbate the upward movement in food prices. Almost all U.S. corn production between 2004 and 2007 has gone into the production of ethanol. European production of ethanol has more than tripled during the same period. This has led to a fall off in grains relative to overall demand which is not a market phenomenon but is the direct result of the government sponsored, corporate backed programs. This comes at the expense of people looking for something to eat, particularly the world's poor who are now effectively priced out of the food market. Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural. Natural News Network 2008 --------10 of 13-------- Why Are Democrats Taking Money From Wal-Mart? [MN: Oberstar & Peterson] by Jonathan Tasini Common Dreams Published on Friday, August 1, 2008 by WorkingLife.org Where does a politician, or a political party, draw the line in the willingness to sacrifice principles for a few bucks? When we talk about the need to "change" the political environment and the culture of money and politics, isn't there some place where you can say, "right here, this is the perfect example and we aren't going to let this go on anymore"? I would argue that the place to draw the line is the relationship between the Democratic Party and Wal-Mart. And the time to draw the line is now. I outline the facts in a moment. But, the premise for the need to draw the line now is this: There may be no corporation in American today that has been a more persistent, regular violator of the law than Wal-Mart. There may be no corporation in America that has been as virulently anti-union as Wal-Mart, firing workers repeatedly for trying to organize. There may be no corporation in America that has attacked the rights of workers and undercut the living standards of Americans more than Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has at least 80 class-action lawsuits in 41 states pending against it. Wal-Mart illegally denied full rest or meal breaks in violation of state wage and hour laws - a violation that may cost the company $2 billion. Wal-Mart abuses women, and is the defendants in the biggest sex discrimination case in history. Wal-Mart is a habitual tax-dodger. Wal-Mart's heirs buy expensive paintings but won't give their workers decent health care. Wal-Mart sued a disabled women, demanding she give back money she won in a settlement. Wal-Mart exploits children in Mexico. Wal-Mart lead a global corporate lobbying campaign to block a very modest improvement in Chinese labor laws - because Wal-Mart's business model depends on exploiting cheap labor, here and abroad. And that's just a sample. Why would any political leader, who represents him or herself to be a defender of the working person, want to be affiliated with such a company? The answer is clear: money. The Democratic Party is almost even with the Republican Party in the money it receives from Wal-Mart, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Center's data, published in an article in today's Wall Street Journal (I'll come back to that article in a moment), shows that 12 years ago, Wal-Mart's PAC gave 98 percent of its money to Republicans. In the current cycle, Democrats have received 48 percent of Wal-Mart's PAC expenditures. Here is the list just for the 2008 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the House, the list is breath-taking in its scope: Altmire, Jason (D-PA) $12,000 Arcuri, Michael (D-NY) $10,000 Baird, Brian (D-WA) $2,500 Barrow, John (D-GA) $10,000 Becerra, Xavier (D-CA) $6,000 Berry, Marion (D-AR) $6,000 Bishop, Sanford D Jr (D-GA)$5,000 Boren, Dan (D-OK) $7,500 Boswell, Leonard L (D-IA)$5,000 Boucher, Rick (D-VA) $6,000 Boyd, Allen (D-FL) $6,500 Butterfield, G K (D-NC) $3,500 Cardoza, Dennis (D-CA) $2,500 Chandler, Ben (D-KY) $2,500 Christian-Green, Donna (D-VI) $1,000 Clarke, Yvette D (D-NY) $1,000 Cleaver, Emanuel (D-MO) $1,000 Clyburn, James E (D-SC) $6,000 Cohen, Stephen Ira (D-TN)$2,000 Cooper, Jim (D-TN) $5,000 Cramer, Bud (D-AL) $2,500 Cuellar, Henry (D-TX) $7,000 Davis, Artur (D-AL) $7,500 Davis, Lincoln (D-TN) $5,000 Donnelly, Joe (D-IN) $5,000 Edwards, Chet (D-TX) $10,000 Ellsworth, Brad (D-IN) $12,500 Etheridge, Bob (D-NC) $2,000 Gonzalez, Charlie A (D-TX)$6,000 Gordon, Bart (D-TN) $5,000 Green, Gene (D-TX) $3,500 Hill, Baron (D-IN) $10,000 Hinojosa, Ruben (D-TX) $5,000 Holden, Tim (D-PA) $2,500 Hooley, Darlene (D-OR) $1,000 Hoyer, Steny H (D-MD) $6,000 Jackson Lee, Sheila (D-TX) $2,500 Johnson, Hank (D-GA) $1,000 Kilpatrick, Carolyn Cheeks (D-MI)$4,000 Kind, Ron (D-WI) $7,000 Klein, Ron (D-FL) $10,000 Larsen, Rick (D-WA) $2,500 Larson, John B (D-CT) $3,500 Lewis, John (D-GA) $2,500 Lofgren, Zoe (D-CA) $2,000 Maloney, Carolyn B (D-NY)$1,000 Matheson, Jim (D-UT) $5,000 McDermott, Jim (D-WA) $1,000 McIntyre, Mike (D-NC) $1,000 Meek, Kendrick B (D-FL) $7,500 Meeks, Gregory W (D-NY) $7,500 Melancon, Charles J (D-LA)$6,500 Moore, Dennis (D-KS) $3,500 Moran, Jim (D-VA) $2,500 Neal, Richard E (D-MA) $2,000 Oberstar, James L (D-MN)$1,000 [****] Ortiz, Solomon P (D-TX) $3,000 Pastor, Ed (D-AZ) $5,000 Payne, Donald M (D-NJ) $1,000 Peterson, Collin C (D-MN)$5,500 [****] Pomeroy, Earl (D-ND) $5,000 Rangel, Charles B (D-NY)$5,500 Reyes, Silvestre (D-TX) $5,500 Richardson, Laura (D-CA)$2,000 Rodriguez, Ciro D (D-TX)$10,000 Ross, Mike (D-AR) $5,000 Ruppersberger, Dutch (D-MD)$4,500 Salazar, John (D-CO) $7,000 Sanchez, Loretta (D-CA) $5,500 Scott, David (D-GA) $5,000 Scott, Robert C (D-VA) $2,000 Shuler, Heath (D-NC) $10,000 Sires, Albio (D-NJ) $2,000 Skelton, Ike (D-MO) $3,000 Snyder, Vic (D-AR) $2,000 Spratt, John M Jr (D-SC)$1,000 Tanner, John (D-TN) $9,000 Tauscher, Ellen (D-CA) $5,000 Taylor, Gene (D-MS) $5,000 Thompson, Bennie G (D-MS)$7,500 Thompson, Mike (D-CA) $4,500 Tiberi, Patrick J (R-OH)$2,500 Towns, Edolphus (D-NY) $3,000 Watt, Melvin L (D-NC) $3,500 Waxman, Henry A (D-CA) $2,500 Wilson, Charlie (D-OH) $5,000 Wynn, Albert R (D-MD) $5,000 In the Senate: Baucus, Max (D-MT) $7,000 Landrieu, Mary L (D-LA) $5,000 Lincoln, Blanche (D-AR) $2,000 McCaskill, Claire (D-MO)$5,000 Pryor, Mark (D-AR) $3,000 Salazar, Ken (D-CO) $2,000 Unfortunately, this is nothing new. In November 2005, I asked why Democrats were doing Wal-Mart's bidding, including helping block an important piece of labor legislation. Two years later, as the 2006 election drew near, Wal-Mart put on a big push to woo Democratic lawmakers, in particular, African-American and Hispanic representatives. In one sense, this was inevitable in the culture of Washington politics: money flows to power. And, since 2006, Democrats are an equal power in the political power landscape. Here is why the line must be drawn now and why this trend is particularly worrisome. The Wall Street Journal article reveals the background in a piece about Wal-Mart's internal political drive to organize its managers to vote Republican in the coming election as a strategy to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, the single-most important legislative priority for organized labor: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies - including Wal-Mart. In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized. And... The meeting leader said, "I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union," said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said. And... The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made defeat of the legislation a top priority. In the past six months, it has flown state and local Chamber members to Washington to lobby members of Congress. On Thursday, the Chamber began airing a television ad in Minnesota and plans to run ads in other states as part of a broader campaign. The bill was crafted by labor as a response to more aggressive opposition by companies to union-organizing activity. The AFL-CIO and individual unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers have promised to make passage of the new labor law their No. 1 mission after the November election. First introduced in 2003, the bill came to a vote last year and sailed through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but was blocked by a filibuster in the Senate and faced a veto threat by the White House. The bill was taken off the floor, and its backers pledged to reintroduce it when they could get more support. The November election could bring that extra support in Congress, as well as the White House if Sen. Obama is elected and Democrats extend their control in the Senate. Sen. Obama co-sponsored the legislation, which also is known as "card check," and has said several times he would sign it into law if elected president. Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and voted against it last year. Putting aside the important point about whether Wal-Mart's internal political electioneering is illegal under federal election law, the far bigger issue is that Wal-Mart is making it quite clear that it will spare no effort to defeat EFCA. Wal-Mart and the business community believe that the passage of EFCA will allow millions of workers who want to be in a union to be able to exercise their rights without intimidation and fear of losing their jobs. To cut to the chase, Wal-Mart's PAC spending is aimed at one thing: to make sure EFCA does not pass and, if it does pass, to make sure that the bill that reaches the president's desk will be weakened (which, by the way, is what happened to labor law reform in the 1970s). Let's look at the possible scenarios, assuming Barack Obama is president in 2009: 1. A 2008 election brings Democrats a large majority in the House and even 60 seats in the Senate. EFCA comes to the House floor and passes largely intact. EFCA arrives to the Senate and, lo and behold, one or more Democratic Senators block the bill, not to kill it but to exact changes that gut the effectiveness of EFCA. 2. A 2008 election brings Democrats a large majority in the House and even 60 seats in the Senate. EFCA comes to the House floor and a large number of Democrats from the list above introduce a series of amendments that seriously weaken EFCA. 3. A 2008 election keeps Democrats in control of the House and Senate with larger numbers. In both chambers, EFCA will face significant attempts to change its basic thrust. I have always been a bit skeptical about using the large numbers of legislators who have signed as co-sponsors of EFCA as a barometer of the chances for the legislation to pass - and pass in a form that changes the playing field for union organizing from one grossly tilted towards employers to one that gives workers the real right to choose a union. The Wal-Mart contribution list above remind me of that scene in "The Untouchables" where Eliot Ness, sure of the evidence against Al Capone, finds out that the entire jury has been bought of. Of course, the movie ends with a happy resolution but we aren't in Hollywood when it comes to EFCA. So, what should be done: 1. The Change To Win Coalition and the AFL-CIO should jointly send a letter to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer (head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) and Chris Hollen (head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) demanding that party members return every dime to Wal-Mart. 2. Both Federations should also write to every member of Congress declaring that any Democrat receiving or keeping Wal-Mart money can kiss any labor donations or labor support good-bye. 3. Both Federations should, then, send a letter to every supposed Democratic campaign consultant and make it clear: you work for us OR you work for Wal-Mart. You can't do both. Jonathan Tasini is Executive Director of the Labor Research Organization, which publishes WorkingLife.org. --------11 of 13-------- Bases Upon Bases Baleful Imperial Power By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY CounterPunch August 2 / 3, 2008 What do the following places have in common - Afghanistan, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and South Korea? They all have US army bases. There are dozens of them. To which add enjoyment or otherwise of the presence of US Navy headquarters and warships by the Bahamas, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), Greece, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, plus another score of ports worldwide where USN ships are welcomed by permanently-based staffs who are guests of host governments. These places are not bases. They are not counted in the officially admitted 780 (or so) colonial-style military encampments that Washington has imposed on inferior nations. The US military presence round the world is enormous. It is greater than any other country or empire has ever had. The most expansionist days of Rome and the British Empire, Hitler's assault on Europe, and Stalin's domination of the countries on Russia's borders pale in comparison with the global embrace of what has become a sinister force for destabilisation. Although it is unlikely that any more South American countries will allow the US to establish military bases (Ecuador will cancel its airbase agreement next year, being so fed up with the arrogance of the northern imperialists), the newly-created US Fourth Fleet is now patrolling off the shores of Venezuela, menacing its democratically elected leader, Hugo Chavez, who has incurred the wrath of US business interests by running his country more efficiently without their presence. Mr Chavez doesn't like the idea of giving his country's natural resources to US companies and he won't be bribed by them. This is absolutely unforgivable in the eyes of the Cheney-supported Friedmaniac freaks who nearly ruined Russia - and would have done so, had it not been for President Putin taking charge and restoring his country to economic sanity. Little wonder President Chavez has been attacked so viciously by the US and British media, parroting the Right Wing mantra that privatisation might reduce millions to poverty, but that it's really a good thing in the long run. (Providing you aren't one of those who have died from starvation meantime, of course.) Venezuela has lots of oil, which may have added to Washington's priority in creating a 12 ship fleet to "build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests". But it isn't clear what confidence and trust can be created by a nuclear aircraft carrier and amphibious assault ships whose ostensible mission involves countering drug smuggling and, inevitably, taking part in the absurd "War on Terror". President Chavez said words to the effect that he wondered what US reaction be if a South American nation sent a fleet to patrol the coast of Virginia, and of course he is perfectly right in fearing the baleful American presence. America sends hundreds of ships, many nuclear-armed and equipped with fearsome missile, to roam the coasts of foreign countries, but imagine the screams of shock, horror and astonished indignation if Russia or China sent a battle group to stroll nautically up and down the coast from Seattle to San Francisco. As to Venezuela - who knows what special forces knuckle-draggers and CIA psychotics are deployed to assist the US-supported anti-Chavez underground that already exists. (The Fourth Fleet is commanded by Admiral Joseph D Kernan, a former special forces commander; the signal could not be clearer.) In May a US Navy Viking electronic warfare aircraft "accidentally" flew into Venezuelan airspace, which doesn't provide much confidence in a navy operating a super-sophisticated plane, with every up-to-date navigation device, that can lose its way so easily. What a load of nonsense. So it can be deduced that the plane was deliberately trailing its coat to assess the effectiveness of Venezuela's defence radar system - just as is done every day in the Persian Gulf by US aircraft and ships closing up to Iran's coastline to plot radar and other defence facilities in order to be able to bomb them if Bush decides to encourage Israel to attack Iran. There is also a US navy, Marine and air force base in Diego Garcia, a British territory, in which there is a CIA prison to which prisoners have been delivered by the wonderful process of "rendition". (The British government denied knowledge of "rendition" through British territory but had to acknowledge that it lied, following production of evidence that it had lied. Can we trust anyone? Anyone at all?) Diego Garcia was given to the US illegally, and Britain's highest judiciary recently ordered that the original inhabitants should be allowed to return to their homes, but the ruling was ignored by the British government. The power of Bush Washington is such that the government of a sovereign nation considers it must put the interests of a foreign country above those of its people. The Islanders remain in poverty and squalor in fetid African slums while corrupt British politicians (which adjective fits most of them) revel in taxpayer-funded second homes in expensive London boroughs. They couldn't give a damn about people. Democracy, anyone? The US Marines are democratically in force in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Djibouti, Germany, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Japan (13 bases, around which protest is common as there have been several rape cases), and Kuwait, while the United States Air Force has bases in Afghanistan, Antigua, Aruba, Bulgaria, Colombia, Curacao, Ecuador, Germany, Greenland, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Qatar and Turkey as well as in US colonies such as Guam, where "The U.S. military maintains jurisdiction over its bases, which cover approximately 39,000 acres (160 km), or 29% of the island's total land area". The US has fourteen "overseas territories" in the Pacific, in which "US Naval Forces Marianas oversees the US Navy's largest and most strategic island base located in the Western Pacific It is home to over 160,000 residents and more than 12,000 military members and their families. Guam is the most populated island in the geographical area known as Micronesia," and in milspeak is "Supporting Command to the Warfighter" - whatever that means, as there is no war going on in the region so far as one can make out. Then there are US military bases in Australia (including an enormous complex that spies electronically on Asian communications) and in countless other countries. In addition to the admitted 780 major bases in all parts of the world, there is a significant US military presence in, for example, the Philippines (which chucked the US out of its many bases in 1992 because Washington would not tell its government whether or not there were nuclear weapons stored in Philippines' territory) and several other countries. The one bright light is that the newly created US Africa Command is regarded with justifiable suspicion by African nations, who have refused to have the Command in the continent, making it necessary for the HQ to remain in Germany, of all places. Washington intends to build anti-ballistic missile bases in Poland (missiles), the Czech Republic (radars), and in any other eastern European country whose governments can be bullied or bribed to take them. But it seems that the peoples of these countries, who will not benefit from the cosy arrangements made with senior government figures, are far from favouring close association with an imperial power. They had their fill of empire when under the yoke of Moscow, and the addled yolk of Washington has little appeal. Washington's justification for establishing these bases is that Iran has missiles from which Europe must be protected, which is balderdash, as Iran poses no threat whatever to Europe. The reason for creating military bases so close to Russia is to keep Moscow on edge regarding US capabilities. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, was designed to combat the Soviet Union's military power, which posed a threat to Europe. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, its military grouping, the Warsaw Pact, was disbanded. The threat disappeared. And NATO should have disappeared, too, as it is no longer relevant to North Atlantic or European defence. But the United States has made it a priority to antagonise Russia and menace it militarily, just as it is threatening Iran by surrounding it by military bases. Washington encouraged expansion of NATO to include ten countries along or close to the Russian border. Russia has shown independence by controlling and disciplining western oil interests whose idea of deal-making was in classic colonial tradition, and this, combined with growing economic and military self-confidence in Moscow, is deemed unacceptable by Washington and London. (For example, BP's idea of arranging contracts with a foreign company is consistent with its being registered in the Virgin Islands tax haven, and thus being immune from the laws of a host nation. Why they thought Russia would accept such arrogance is not clear.) Hence the US and British determination to discourage and curb Russian economic growth and re-establishment of national confidence. The western media's assault on Putin was only part of the campaign. The US commentator Chalmers Johnson summed up his country's foreign policy by observing that "Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base". Quite so. Which is all the more reason for Pakistan and others to resist establishment of US bases in their territory. American withdrawal from all these places would be welcome but will never happen. The world is stuck with a baleful military superpower, intent on continuing imperial domination. Little wonder Russia and China - and Osama bin Laden - are popular in so many countries. Brian Cloughley lives in France. His website is www.briancloughley.com --------12 of 13-------- Unions Back Plan that Could Kill Off Real Health Care Reform by Kip Sullivan Labor Notes August 2008 If Barack Obama wins the fall election, he will be under more pressure to establish universal health insurance than any president in U.S. history. This will be due not only to public disgust with the current health care system, but to the hard work of organizations dedicated to universal health insurance. But the most powerful of these groups, including the AFL-CIO and Service Employees (the major Change to Win health care union) are promoting a solution that won't fix the problem. Their plan would fatten the insurance industry and make it an even more formidable opponent of true reform than it already is. If SEIU and the AFL-CIO get their way, the day that all Americans have affordable insurance will be pushed into the unforeseeable future. The labor-backed plan, which they call "guaranteed affordable choice," would create a public program like Medicare that would allegedly compete with the nation's 1,500 insurance companies. Americans would get tax-financed subsidies to purchase insurance from either a private insurance company or the public plan. Competition, which has never worked in the health insurance industry, would magically come to life. By leaving the bloated insurance industry smack in the middle of our health care system, "guaranteed affordable choice" would have taxpayers and premium-payers continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on unnecessary administrative costs. DOUBLE ENDORSEMENT Oddly, the AFL-CIO and SEIU have also endorsed an entirely different plan: the single-payer solution. The AFL-CIO's executive council endorsed the concept in March 2007 by calling for the expansion of Medicare to people of all ages. SEIU endorsed HR 676, a single-payer bill pending in the House of Representatives, at its June 2008 convention. "Single payer" - the system used in Canada and other countries - gets its name from its most essential feature: One payer, a public agency, replaces the 1,500 insurance companies. It becomes the sole reimburser of clinics and hospitals. That one agency has the authority to set limits on what doctors, hospitals, and drug companies can charge. Patients go to doctors and hospitals of their choosing. The traditional Medicare program is an example of a single-payer system. The U.S. spends twice as much per person on health care as other industrialized nations. Single payer is the only system that can achieve universal coverage for the same or less money than the nation spends now. Replacing all those insurance companies and dozens of government programs with one payer slashes the huge costs incurred by doctors, clinics, and hospitals on billing and arguing with insurance companies about how to treat patients. It wipes out what insurers spend on marketing and excessive salaries, and what they take in profits. The issue that unions are sidestepping is whether the mere presence of a public program in the jungle of private insurance companies would force private insurers to lower premiums without resorting to delaying or denying care to some. What is more likely to happen is that the insurance industry would "compete" with the public program by rationing the care received by their sicker enrollees, pushing some to sign up with the public program instead. This would in turn drive the public program's premiums up and the private premiums down. Eventually the public program would be driven out of the market. WINDOW DRESSING The AFL-CIO's and SEIU's endorsements of single payer appear to be window dressing. They are putting all their energies into "guaranteed affordable choice". They do it in their own names, and as members of the Herndon Alliance and the Health Care for America Now coalition, which became public July 8. These coalitions criticize single payer as "not politically feasible". SEIU's track record is even worse than the AFL-CIO's. Unlike the federation, SEIU President Andy Stern regularly trashes single payer. "I think we need to find a new system that is not built on the back of the government," he told the Brookings Institute two years ago. "We are going to build an American system because we are Americans". Some liberals say they support single payer but won't work for it because the insurance industry is too powerful to beat. But Stern bases his trash talk on a more baseless and insidious claim - that average Americans oppose single payer. He says we embrace a hyper-patriotism that causes us to resist adopting good ideas from other countries - even Canada - .and are so satisfied with our current insurance companies that we will fight any attempt to replace them. Stern's perception is contradicted by many polls and focus groups. A December 2007 AP poll, for example, found that 65 percent of Americans support "a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers". A poll by ABC News in 2003 found 62 percent in favor. WHY BACK A BAD PLAN? Why would the AFL-CIO and SEIU endorse single payer but then, in reality, support a plan that will not cut costs? Getting officials to answer that question is difficult. Even though they are clearly supporting "guaranteed affordable choice," representatives of the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the coalitions they belong to say there's no need for the rank and file, or the public at large, to understand the differences between the two plans. This assumption was articulated by Bruce Popper, a member of SEIU 1199-United Healthcare Workers East, from the floor of SEIU's June convention. "My local union, my local labor council, and community groups all over in my area are for single payer," Popper said. "But I'm not going to get bogged down in an endless debate about which plan will work best. We must leave that debate until the day when we can actually enact a plan. That day is the day after our candidate, Barack Obama, wins the White House". Nick Unger, AFL-CIO's health policy analyst, makes the same point. In a recent presentation, he put it this way: Health care. All you need to know is: . It costs too much. . It covers too little. . It excludes too many. . And it's getting worse. But advocates of "guaranteed affordable choice" have already decided which plan is best and they are communicating their decision to Democrats. The labor-supported coalitions claim credit for having persuaded John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama to endorse the basic elements of their plan. Union members have several explanations for why the AFL-CIO and SEIU are promoting a proposal that can't work and which feeds the health insurance industry, the very industry most dedicated to killing single payer. A representative of the AFL-CIO, who asked not to be identified, said the federation is divided about how to solve the health care crisis. Apparently the federation's endorsement of Medicare-for-all merely reflected the executive council's desire to acknowledge that single-payer advocates existed in their ranks. Mike Carano, a member of Teamsters Local 348 in Ohio and longtime activist with the state's Single-Payer Action Network, offered another explanation. "The AFL-CIO and SEIU are pretty close to the Democratic Party," he said. "The Democrats don't want to take on the insurance industry. I imagine one way the AFL-CIO and SEIU support Democrats is not to upset Democrats". --------13 of 13-------- In Health Care Reform, Massachusetts Shows How Not To Do It By Sandy Eaton Labor Notes August 2008 http://labornotes.org/node/1851 Leaving the bloated insurance industry in place perpetuates the pain and cost of the current health care system. Massachusetts pays the most in the nation for its health care, and yet it's plagued by an ongoing crisis of access, affordability, and quality. Although our experiment in health care reform already has deep problems, policy wonks influencing the country's health care debate tout Massachusetts as the model for universal health care nationwide. If Massachusetts is a model, it's a model of what not to do. When the legislature passed 'shared responsibility' legislation two years ago, nearly every suit in the state's health care industry celebrated. The concept grew from an October 2005 assembly convened by the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts that made a bald assertion: there was no way to achieve universal coverage in Massachusetts without an 'individual mandate,' the enforceable legal requirement that everyone have health insurance. The problem was that the assembly was not allowed to consider Canadian-style single-payer health care-which would eliminate private insurance companies-as an option. It was off the table. So a new bureaucracy was established, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Board, with broad powers to set rates, approve cut-rate private policies, and define affordability. Subsidies are offered on a sliding scale for those earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line (about $63,000 for a family of four). Those earning below the line are covered free. The tangle of private insurance companies, with their expensive bureaucracies and profits, remains in place. The only new source of revenue for these subsidies is the $295 per employee fee paid anually by employers of 11 or more workers who fail to show that they are making a 'fair and reasonable' contribution to their employees' coverage. The tangle of private insurance companies, with their expensive bureaucracies and profits, remains in place. Given these constraints, how does the system measure up? Access. The ability to get care has expanded for some, with an increase in Medicaid enrollment for some of the poorest. But this comes at the expense of many, particularly undocumented workers and their families, who in the past had depended on the uncompensated care pool, or free-care pool, through community health centers and safety-net hospitals. For another view of the health care dilemma in this issue of Labor Notes: see Kip Sullivan: Unions Back Plan that Could Kill Off Real Health Care Reform The pressure is now on to deny free care to low-income immigrants who would be eligible for subsidized programs if their papers were in order. Out of a population of six million, a quarter of a million residents remain uninsured. About 60,000 have been granted waivers as unable to afford even the subsidized plans. Others fall through the cracks of a complex bureaucracy, and an unknown number simply defy the system and refuse to fill out the additional pages of questions about their insurance status with their state income tax form. Affordability. For many, paying for health care without the threat of bankruptcy or giving up other necessities of life remains impossible. Governments and many employers are staggering, too. Rising costs for public employees' and retirees' health insurance has led to round after round of service cutbacks, affecting every resident who uses public services. Attempts at cost-shifting have provoked strikes by teachers and turnovers in city halls. Employers successfully pressure the Connector Board to keep copays and deductibles high in the subsidized health plans. This keeps those covered by commercial plans from switching to the public ones. But ironically, those high deductibles and copays are not counted when calculating who qualifies for taxpayer subsidies. A diabetic stay-at-home mom on the subsidized plan, for example, pays $110 a month for insurance. But the array of drugs and procedures she requires and the limits on her coverage leave her with copayments of about $165 a month. Quality. The new system doesn't seem to have improved patient outcomes. A recent study showed that 45,000 patients are injured and 2,000 patients die in Massachusetts each year from hospital-acquired infections and accidents. That's six patients dying each day. And hospital executives fiercely resist steps to improve quality. In July they blocked a bill-again-to establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios. Such ratios have made California hospitals much safer. STILL NEED SINGLE PAYER In July Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy announced a bipartisan initiative to achieve 'universal health care' quickly, in the first days of a new administration. And then came Health Care for America Now, a new 80-member coalition that includes the AFL- CIO, SEIU, and AFSCME. HCAN champions a system-similar to Massachusetts's-that would leave the insurance companies at their troughs. During the Great Depression, FDR was elected with a mandate for change, but the specifics were vague and the direction of the new administration nebulous. Like today, an upsurge of grassroots action was needed to set a progressive agenda. It took 3,000 locals, for example, ignoring AFL President Bill Green's aversion to 'the dole,' as he called it, to establish unemployment insurance. This may well prove to be just as fluid a moment in history. Nothing of consequence-like universal, single- payer health insurance-will succeed without solid grassroots organizing that sets the agenda for the next administration. Sandy Eaton is Region 5 president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association and vice chair of the Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care. [Kip writes that he is in full agreement with the above article. -ed] [Massachusetts can't do "it" either, so you don't want to go there. -ed] --------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 vote third party for president for congress now and forever
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