Progressive Calendar 09.30.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2008 07:29:58 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    09.30.08

1. Mel Duncan/KFAI   10.01 11am
2. WEI/earth banquet 10.01 5:30pm
3. Fire Thunder      10.01 5:45pm StCloud - reserve by 9.30 3pm
4. Sami/Iraq         10.01 7pm

5. PUC/power rate    10.02 2/7pm Duluth MN
6. Gandhi BDay       10.02 4:30pm
7. Eagan peace vigil 10.02 4:30pm
8. New Hope demo     10.02 4:45pm
9. Northtown vigil   10.02 5pm
10. Peak oil/Cuba/f  10.02 7pm

11. Bill Van Auken - Stocks plunge as bailout fails in Congress
12. Mark Engler    - Is 'taking it to the streets' worth the cop beatings?
13. ed             - Socially immature haiku

--------1 of 13--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Mel Duncan/KFAI 10.01 11am

TRUTH TO TELL
WEDNESDAY, Oct 1 -- 11AM: GOODBYE MEL DUNCAN HELLO

Nonviolent Peaceforce Founder and Executive Director MEL DUNCAN is
stepping down after establishing a global network of Twin Cities-based
programs and peace advocates. ANDY DRISCOLL talks with Duncan about life
as a progressive organizer, former Executive Director of Minnesota
Alliance for Progressive Action (now part of TakeAction/Minnesota), and
his philosophy of citizen action. Not all of us founders are willing to
let go of our "babies." Mel Duncan has done it twice. Why? And What now?

KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis /106.7 St. Paul / Streamed @ KFAI.org


--------2 of 13--------

From: Blake Traylor <blake.traylor [at] gmail.com>
Subject: WEI/earth banquet 10.001 5:30pm

Join us October 1  at  5:30pm
Mother Earth Banquet & Fundraiser
Honoring the Earth and Three Mothers of the Environmental Justice Movement
Devra Lee Davis, Winona LaDuke and Annie Young
Park House / 2120 Park Avenue / Minneapolis
http://www.w-e-i.org/

With an evening of engaging speakers, great local and organic food and
live music, the Women's Environmental Institute honors three Mothers of
the Environmental Justice Movement: Dr. Devra Davis (keynote speaker),
[PLEASE NOTE THAT THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER IS DEVRA WITH A "V" NOT A "B"]
Winona LaDuke (founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project) and Annie
Young (local environmental justice advocate).  Our keynote speaker will
address findings in her latest book: The Secret History of the War on
Cancer.  Special guest Ann Bancroft will emcee the event.

The public is invited to celebrate the remarkable achievements of these
women and to empower the vital work of the Women's Environmental
Institute.  For details and ticket information about the Mother Earth
Banquet and silent auction, please visit our website at www.wei [at] w-e-i.org
or call Blake Traylor at 651.209.3934 (x1).

"What a line-up! Having these three amazing women under one roof is an
occasion not to be missed." Ann Bancroft, polar explorer.


--------3 of 13--------

From: Bonnie Watkins <bonnie [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Fire Thunder 10.01 5:45pm StCloud - reserve by 9.30 3pm

Cecelia Fire Thunder is a courageous leader and a funny, insightful
speaker. Come hear her this Wednesday (October 1), 6:30PM at St. Cloud
State University at the end of the conference, "Feminist Kaleidoscope:
Leadership, Activism & the Future."  Please note that St. Cloud is just
over an hour's drive north of the Twin Cities, beautiful with the fall
colors sparking all around us.

Fire Thunder has worked as a nurse, has been active in efforts to recover
and revive use of the Lakota language, worked in a domestic violence
shelter, and was a founder of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome. In 2004 she was elected the first female leader of the Oglala
Sioux in South Dakota.  Many of us first learned about her when she
announced she would open a Planned Parenthood clinic on tribal land - in
response to the South Dakota legislature's passage of a law banning almost
all abortions in the state.  Fire Thunder was removed from office as a
result, though she defended her responsibility to expand services. Cecelia
is presently the board president for KILI Radio, hosts community healing
programs, recognized internationally for her traditional doll making, and
remains active in national politics, maintaining a friendship with Hillary
Clinton among many others.

Fire Thunder's presentation at the October 1 conference will begin at
6:30PM, following a buffet supper which begins at 5:45 at the Atwood
Memorial Center.  The conference is sponsored by the Minnesota Women's
Consortium and the Women's Center at St. Cloud State University, and this
presentation is co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, South
Dakota, and North Dakota.  The cost for supper and the presentation is
$20. You may pay at the door but please register in advance - no later
than 3PM tomorrow, September 30.  To RSVP, you may just reply to this
message [mailto:Bonnie [at] mnwomen.org] or call the Consortium at
651/228-0338.  To pay in advance, please visit our website
[http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001SDMJ9FwKD5qmKlMYGd59x5QQfCN5ReZChLhp5Spo-u5bxTJxMHgw7KvL3HX4wVk7sutgwrKxZ-sEcpKO-stVEqF-srZmGSbisuSGue_JP2PQNqxmvgoZNGjeT--YLJLq]
and note "Fire Thunder speech" in the "special instructions" section.

Visit our home page
[http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001SDMJ9FwKD5omZeiivBaJaTHPrHk1PodEjFuQlrJWzw1lNzGzeQIcZYfP69eH6Qzv-k7e9qFLzdD4sT3_Bgg2NbDgTjENXzLREaotSBD-0LY=]
for more information about the rest of this wonderful conference - Senator
Tarryl Clark's presentation on "Women & Leadership" at noon, ten workshops
on vital topics, and exhibits from a variety of organizations throughout
the day.  The conference is free except for the meals ($15 for the buffet
supper, $10 for the box lunch)  and exhibits ($35 for nonprofits, $50 for
others), maintaining the Consortium's tradition of accessibility for
everyone.  We are grateful for your advance registration, and additional
donations are much appreciated as scholarships for students and low-income
women.  See you there!


--------4 of 13--------

From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Sami/Iraq 10.01 7pm

"What is Happening in IRAQ Today?" Iraqi-American Sami Rasouli
Wednesday, October 1, 7:00 PM, Mayday Bookstore, 301 Cedar Ave. South,
Minneapolis.

Briefing Session: Presentation and discussion with: Sami Rasouli,
Iraqi-American peace activist and founder of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams
(MPT). Sami, who is back in the Twin Cities for a visit, and will be
shortly returning to Iraq, will give provide a briefing on the current
situation in Iraq and answer questions. The October 1st briefing session
will be an opportunity to find out what is happening in Iraq today.
Sponsored by Iraq Peace Action Coalition & Mayday Books. FFI: 612 522-1861
or 612 333-4719.


--------5 of 13--------

From: Debbie <ddo [at] mchsi.com>
Subject: PUC/power rate 10.02 2/7pm Duluth MN

I am astounded that their hasn't been more media coverage of the huge rate
hike that MN Power is proposing.  Also, they will start a round of public
hearings in their service area:

-
PUC OKs Minn. Power Interim Rate Hike

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) Retail customers of Minnesota Power will see higher
electric bills, starting this month.

The state Public Utilities Commission has approved an interim rate
increase for Minnesota Power's retail customers. It took effect Friday.
The commission set the interim rate increase at 7.5 percent. The change
will be reflected in customers' statements beginning in August. The PUC is
to approve the final rate by spring 2009.

Minnesota Power says it faces higher operating and maintenance costs. The
company also says it's making continuing investments in utility
infrastructure and renewable energy and emission reduction projects to
meet state mandates.

Minnesota Power, an Allete company, supplies electric service to 141,000
retail customers and 16 municipalities.

The MN Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing on Thursday,
Oct. 2 in Duluth.

Thursday, October 2nd
2pm and 7pm at the Duluth City Council chambers.

The hike for residents will be between 30-50%, large business will only
get a 3% hike, small businesses a 22% hike. Does this seem fair to you? If
you don't attend these hearings the PUC will approve MN Power's rate hike.


--------6 of 13--------

From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Gandhi BDay 10.02 4:30pm

The Power of Nonviolence: Gandhi Birthday

Thursday October 2, 4:30 p.m., Please join AlliantACTION for our
annual Celebration of Nonviolence outside weapons merchant Alliant
Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive, Eden Prairie. Easy highway
access. Map and more online: alliantaction.org


--------7 of 13--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 10.02 4:30pm

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


--------8 of 13--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: New Hope demo 10.02 4:45pm

NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:45 to 5:45pm at the corner
of Winnetka and 42nd.  You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot
near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners.  Bring your own or use our
signs.


--------9 of 13--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.02 5pm

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

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

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


--------10 of 13--------

From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peak oil/Cuba/film 10.02 7pm

Celebrate Sustainability Film Series
Doors 6:30 p.m., Film 7 p.m. Free!
MCAD College Center
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Ave. S.

Please join us for the following screening about key sustainability issues
affecting our world. Discussion with practicing eco-designers after the
showing.

Thurs. Oct. 2nd, 7 p.m.
Peak Oil: excerpts from A Crude Awakening, plus
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.


--------11 of 13--------

Stocks plunge on Wall Street as bailout fails in Congress
By Bill Van Auken, Socialist Equality Party vice presidential candidate
30 September 2008
www.wsws.org/articles/20...il-s30.shtml

Wall Street suffered its biggest one-day point fall in history amid panic
selling, as the proposed government bailout of the major banks and finance
houses went down to defeat Monday in the US House of Representatives.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 777 points, or 7 percent. The
other major indexes fell even further, in percentage terms, with the
Nasdaq Composite Index plunging more than 9 percent and the Standard &
Poor's 500 Index falling 8.8 percent. A total of $1.2 trillion, or 9
percent, of total market value was wiped out.

The decline on Wall Street was already well under way before the vote was
cast in the House, and there is ample reason to suspect that if the bill
had passed, the news headlines would have read, "House Approves Bailout,
Market Collapses Anyway."

In Europe and Asia, where it was widely assumed that the bailout would be
passed and markets ceased trading before the vote was taken Monday
afternoon, there were across-the-board losses amid fears that the credit
crunch would yield a new wave of bank failures in the US and
internationally, irrespective of the $700-billion-plus proposal's fate.
Before the markets in the US opened Monday, European governments and major
financial institutions were forced to organize the bailout of three major
banks.

The governments of the three Benlux countries carried out a $16 billion
bailout of the Fortis Bank, while Banco Santander, Spain's biggest bank,
bought out Bradford & Bingley Plc, Britain's biggest lender to landlords.
In Germany, the government and major banks were compelled to intervene
with a $51.2 billion line of credit to prevent the collapse of Hypo Real
Estate Holding AG, one of Europe's largest real estate and local
government lenders.

In the US, bank lending rates rose to their highest levels in nearly a
quarter century, with widespread warnings that credit markets were seizing
up to the point where major companies might be forced to shut down. This
was the implication of remarks made by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in
the White House driveway Monday afternoon after the failure of Congress to
approve the bailout.

"Markets around the world are under stress, and that reduces the
availability of credit that businesses across America depend on to meet
payroll and to purchase inventories," said Paulson.

The specter of depression, mass layoffs and deep cuts in living standards
hangs over the US and world economy. However, there is no reason to
believe - and evidently scant confidence in the financial markets - that
Paulson's bailout scheme will prevent such a calamity. The proposal is
directed not at alleviating the deterioration of conditions of life for
millions of working people, but at salvaging the fortunes of the top
layers of the American financial aristocracy.

The naked class character of the proposal being promoted by the leadership
of both major parties was spelled out by Washington Post columnist Steven
Pearlstein, who insisted that those opposed to the scheme would have to
come "to the understanding that the only way to get out of these
situations is to have governments all around the world borrow gobs of
money and effectively nationalize large swaths of the financial system so
it can be restructured, recapitalized, reformed and returned to private
ownership once the crisis has passed."

In other words, "gobs of money" are to be seized from the people to
protect the wealth of the major shareholders and investors and place the
big banks under the wing of the government until they are profitable
enough to be turned back to these same financial oligarchs.

To call this a "plan" is a gross misrepresentation. It is nothing more
than a decision to hand over more than $700 billion in taxpayers' money to
Treasury Secretary Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, to use as he
sees fit in buying up worthless paper assets from his former colleagues on
Wall Street.

Never in history has one US official been granted such sweeping powers.
Even the staggering figure attached to this proposal is viewed by most
analysts as only a first installment, as the totality of worthless assets
on the books of the major financial institutions is many times higher.

As for the "concessions" that the Democratic congressional leadership
claims to have extracted from the Bush administration, all of them amount
to verbal window dressing, placing no binding restraints on this
breathtaking transfer of wealth, nor providing any relief for average
working people who are suffering the brunt of the economic crisis.

Despite the unity of the leadership of both parties and their respective
presidential candidates behind this scheme, popular opposition to the
proposal is overwhelming and ultimately led to its defeat. In nearly every
case, those in Congress facing tight races in November - both Democrats
and Republicans - voted against the measure, fearing retribution at the
polls if they supported it.

The administration and the congressional leadership indicated that they
would push for reconsideration of the package as soon as possible, though
a second vote appears unlikely before Thursday.

Both Wall Street and the White House appeared stunned by the defeat of the
legislation, which had the backing of the president, the Democratic
majority and Republican minority leaderships in Congress, and Barack Obama
and John McCain.

"We've got a big problem," a dazed looking George W. Bush said during an
appearance at the White House with the president of Ukraine.

On Wall Street, the mood in the major finance houses after the House vote
alternated between panic and seething anger towards the opposition of the
American people to the bailout. Some spoke darkly of the people "waking
up" when they could no longer use their credit cards or get cash from
their ATMs.

As for the media, the pretense of objective reporting was cast aside.
Television news announcers voiced the anger and concern of the major
financial interests and sought to apportion blame for what was universally
presented as the irrational defeat of an indispensable measure.

The bailout proposal was rejected by a vote of 238 to 205, with 60 percent
of the House Democrats voting for it and 67 percent of the House
Republicans voting against.

Once again, the Democrats emerged as the most consistent and loyal
defenders of Wall Street's interests.

Obama delivered a speech Monday calling for the plan's approval. He echoed
the remarks of Bush, delivered hours earlier on the White House lawn,
aimed at blackmailing the American people into supporting the plan. The
bailout, he declared, is "our best and only way to prevent an economic
catastrophe."

Neither Obama nor anyone else, however, was able to explain how this
proposal would benefit the American people. On the contrary, he has
already admitted that its passage will force the rescinding of the paltry
promises he has made in his election campaign and necessitate greater
fiscal discipline. This will inevitably translate into an attack on
essential social programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

After the bill was voted down, Obama delayed making a statement until he
could consult with Paulson. Then he insisted that the proposal was
"required for us to stabilize the markets." He continued: "Democrats and
Republicans in Washington have a responsibility to make sure an emergency
rescue package is put forward that can at least stop the immediate
problems that we have."

For his part, McCain issued no immediate statement, while a campaign aide
echoed the ludicrous claim of the Republican House leadership that the
measure's defeat was a response to a partisan attack in the remarks of
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the vote was taken.

The major congressional opposition to the bailout came from the most
right-wing sections of the Republican Party, who cast the attempt to
effect a vast transfer of public resources to the wealthiest interests in
the country as "socialism."

Representative Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan went so far as to invoke the
October 1917 Revolution in Russia, saying that the bailout plan recalled
the Bolshevik slogan of "bread, peace and land."

This right-wing ideology is infused in many cases with racist overtones,
scapegoating minority homebuyers, who were disproportionately victimized
by subprime mortgages, for the crisis created by Wall Street's parasitism.

In the end, the program of these opponents of the bailout is one of even
more tax cuts for the rich and the destruction of what little remains of a
social safety net in America, transferring all public monies to big
business, albeit by a different route.

If these imbecilic demagogues are able to exploit the popular opposition
that exists to the bailout, it is only because the leadership of the
Democratic Party is so solidly unified behind the interests of finance
capital and so indifferent to the concerns of the masses of working
people. They are utterly incapable of offering the slightest substantive
alternative to the demands of Wall Street.

A way out of the crisis - the deepest to confront American and world
capitalism since the Great Depression of the 1930s - requires a rejection
not only of the bailout, but of the entire framework in which the debate
in Washington is being conducted.

The capitalist system has failed, and there is no reason to doubt the
warnings from Bush, Paulson, Obama and others that it is preparing a
social catastrophe.

Finding an answer to this crisis begins with asking the question: Who is
to pay for it? Whatever their tactical differences on the bailout, the
answer of the Democrats and Republicans is clear: Working people must give
up their jobs, living standards and social interests in order to rescue
the financial parasites who created the disaster.

The working class must put forward its own solution. The banks and major
financial institutions which now threaten to drag down the economy and
plunge millions into poverty must be nationalized, without compensation to
their executives and big shareholders.

These institutions should be transformed into public utilities, controlled
democratically by the people, with their resources utilized not for the
creation of profits for the rich, but rather for productive purposes,
including the creation of jobs, a halt to foreclosures and evictions, the
rebuilding of the social infrastructure and the funding of education,
health care and other vitally needed social programs.

Those directly responsible for this crisis, the Wall Street executives who
oversaw fraudulent forms of financial manipulation that generated
multi-million-dollar compensation packages for themselves, must be held
accountable. Their assets should be confiscated and they themselves should
be subject to criminal prosecution.

The struggle for this program is possible only through the mobilization of
working people in their own independent political party, fighting to
replace the political rule of the banks and big business defended by both
Democrats and Republicans with a workers government.

These are the policies fought for by Socialist Equality Party and its
candidates for president and vice-president. Jerry White and I are
participating in the 2008 election to bring this program to the widest
possible audience of working people, students and youth. We urge all of
those who see the need for this socialist alternative to support us in
this campaign and to join the SEP.

To find out more about the SEP campaign, visit: www.socialequality.com


--------12 of 13--------

Is 'Taking it to the Streets' Worth the Bruises, Tear Gas and Arrests?
By Mark Engler, AlterNet
Posted on September 29, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/99880/
portside

Nine years after the World Trade Organization came to Seattle, a new
feature film sets out to dramatize the historic protests that the
institution's meetings provoked. The issue that "Battle in Seattle"
filmmaker Stuart Townsend seeks to raise, as he recently stated, is "(what
it takes) to create real and meaningful change."

The question is notoriously difficult. In the film, characters like Martin
Henderson's Jay, a veteran environmental campaigner driven by a tragedy
experienced on a past logging campaign, and Michelle Rodriguez's Lou, a
hard-bitten animal rights activist, debate the effectiveness of protest.
Even as they take to Seattle's streets, staring down armor-clad cops
(Woody Harrelson, Channing Tatum) commanded by a tormented and indecisive
mayor (Ray Liotta), they wonder whether their actions can have an impact.

Generally speaking, the response of many Americans is to dismiss protests
out of hand, arguing that demonstrators are just blowing off steam and
won't make a difference. But if any case can be held as a counter-example,
Seattle is it.

The 1999 mobilization against the World Trade Organization has never been
free from criticism. As Andre 3000's character in the movie quips, even
the label "Battle in Seattle" makes the protests sound less like a serious
political event and more "like a monster truck rally." While the
demonstrations were still playing out and police were busy arresting some
600 people, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman issued his now-famous
edict stating that deluded activists were just "looking for their 1960s
fix." This type of disregard has continued with the release of the film. A
review in the Seattle Weekly dismissively asked, "Remind me again what
those demonstrations against the WTO actually accomplished."

While cynicism comes cheap, those concerned about global poverty,
sweatshop labor, outsourced jobs and threats to the environment can
witness remarkable changes on the international scene. Today, trade talks
at the WTO are in shambles, sister institutions such as the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund are now shriveled versions of their
once-imposing selves, and the ideology of neoliberal corporate
globalization is under intense fire, with mainstream economists defecting
from its ranks and entire regions such as Latin America in outright
revolt. As global justice advocates have long argued, the forces that
created these changes "did not start in Seattle." Yet few trade observers
would deny that the week of protest late in the last millennium marked a
critical turning point.

What Happened in Seattle?

"Battle in Seattle" accurately depicts the mainstream media as being
overwhelmingly focused on the smashed windows of Starbucks and Niketown --
property destruction carried out by a small minority of protesters. In the
past two decades, the editorial boards of major U.S. newspapers have been
more dogged than even many pro-corporate legislators in pushing the "free
trade" agenda. Yet, remarkably, acknowledgement of the WTO protests'
impact on globalization politics could be found even in their pages.
Shortly after the event, the Los Angeles Times wrote, "On the
teargas-shrouded streets of Seattle, the unruly forces of democracy
collided with the elite world of trade policy. And when the meeting ended
in failure ... the elitists had lost and the debate had changed forever."

Seattle was supposed to be a moment of crowning achievement for corporate
globalization. Big-business sponsors of the Seattle Ministerial (donors of
$75,000 or more included Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser, Boeing
and GM) invested millions to make it a showcase of "New Economy" grandeur.
Any student of public relations could see that the debacle they
experienced instead could hardly be less desirable for advancing their
agenda.

Rarely do protesters have the satisfaction of achieving their immediate
goals, especially when their stated aims are as grandiose as shutting down
a major trade meeting. Yet the direct action in Seattle did just that on
its first day, with activists chained around the conference center forcing
the WTO to cancel its opening ceremonies.

By the end of the week, negotiations had collapsed altogether. Trade
representatives from the global South, emboldened by the push from civil
society, launched their own revolt from within the conference. Jumping
between scenes of street protest and depictions of the ministers' trade
debate, Townsend's film illustrates this inside-outside dynamic. Dialogue
at one point in the movie for actor Isaach De Bankole, who plays an
African trade minister, is pulled almost verbatim from a real statement
released that week by Organization of African Unity. The ministers railed
against "being marginalized and generally excluded on issues of vital
importance for our peoples and their future."

The demands of the developing countries' governments were not always the
same as those of the outside protesters. However, the diverse forces
agreed on some key points. Expressing his disgust for how the WTO
negotiations had been conducted, Sir Shridath Ramphal, the chief Caribbean
negotiator, argued, "This should not be a game about enhancing corporate
profits. This should not be a time when big countries, strong countries,
the world's wealthiest countries, are setting about a process designed to
enrich themselves."

Given that less powerful countries had typically been bullied into
compliance at trade ministerials, this was highly unusual stuff. Yet it
would become increasingly normal. Seattle launched a series of setbacks
for the WTO and, to this day, the institution has yet to recover. Efforts
to expand the reach of the WTO have repeatedly failed, and the overtly
unilateralist Bush White House has been even less effective than the
"cooperative" Clinton administration at getting its way in negotiations.

This past summer, analyst Walden Bello dubbed the current round of WTO
talks the "Dracula Round" because it lives in an undead state. No matter
how many times elites try to revive the round, it seems destined to suffer
a new death -- as it did most recently in late July. Other agreements,
such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which aimed to extend NAFTA
throughout the hemisphere and which drew protests in places like Quebec
City and Miami, have since been abandoned altogether.

"We Care Too"

The altered fate of the WTO is itself very significant. But this is only
part of a wider series of transformations that the global justice protests
of the Seattle era helped to usher in. Toward the end of "Battle in
Seattle," Andre 3000's character, an activist who spends a decent part of
the film dressed as a sea turtle, makes a key point: "A week ago nobody
knew what the WTO was," he says. "Now ... they still don't know what it
is. But at least they know it's bad."

The Seattle protests launched thousands of conversations about what type
of global society we want to live in. While they have often been depicted
as mindless rioters, activists were able to push their message through. A
poll published in Business Week in late December 1999 showed that 52
percent of respondents were sympathetic with the protesters, compared with
39 percent who were not. Seventy-two percent agreed that the United States
should "strengthen labor, environmental and endangered species protection
standards" in international treaties, while only 21 percent disagreed.

A wave of increased sympathy and awareness dramatically changed the
climate for longtime campaigners. People who had been quietly laboring in
obscurity for years suddenly found themselves amid a huge surge of popular
energy, resources and legitimacy. Obviously, the majority of Americans did
not drop everything to become trade experts. But an impressive number,
especially on college campuses and in union halls, did take time to learn
more -- about sweatshops and corporate power, about global access to water
and the need for local food systems, about the connection between job loss
at home and exploitation abroad.

With the protests that took place in the wake of Seattle, finance
ministers who had grown accustomed to meeting in secretive sessions behind
closed doors were suddenly forced to defend their positions before the
public. Often, official spokespeople hardly offered a defense of WTO, IMF
and World Bank policies at all. Instead they spent most of their time
trying to convince audiences that they, too, cared about poverty. In
particular, the elites who gather annually in the Swiss Alps for the
exclusive World Economic Forum became obsessed with branding themselves as
defenders of the world's poor. The Washington Post noted of the 2002
forum, "The titles of workshops read like headlines from the Nation:
'Understanding Global Anger,' 'Bridging the Digital Divide' and 'The
Politics of Apology.'"

Joseph Stiglitz, a former chief economist of the World Bank who was purged
after he outspokenly criticized the IMF, perhaps most clearly described
the remarkable shift in elite discussion that has taken place since global
justice protests first captured the media spotlight. In a 2006 book, he
wrote:

I have been going to the annual meetings (in Davos, Switzerland) for many
years and had always heard globalization spoken of with great enthusiasm.
What was fascinating ... was the speed at which views had shifted (by
2004). ... This change is emblematic of the massive change in thinking
about globalization that has taken place in the last five years all around
the world. In the 1990s, the discussion at Davos had been about the
virtues of opening international markets. By the early years of the
millennium, it centered on poverty reduction, human rights and the need
for fairer trade arrangements.

Changing Policy

Of course, much of the shift at Davos is just talk. But the wider
political changes go far beyond rhetoric. As Stiglitz noted, "Even the IMF
now agrees that capital market liberalization has contributed neither to
growth nor to stability." Grassroots activity has translated into concrete
change on other levels as well. Even some critics of the global justice
movement have noted that activists have scored a number of significant
policy victories. In a September 2000 editorial titled "Angry and
Effective," the Economist reported that the movement

... already has changed things -- and not just the cocktail schedule for
the upcoming meetings. Protests ... succeeded in scuttling the
(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's) planned
Multilateral Agreement on Investment in 1998; then came the greater
victory in Seattle, where the hoped-for launch of global trade talks was
aborted. ... This has dramatically increased the influence of mainstream
NGOs, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature and Oxfam. ... Assaulted by
unruly protesters, firms and governments are suddenly eager to do business
with the respectable face of dissent.

Various combinations of "respectable" negotiators and "unruly" dissidents
have forced shifts on a wide range of issues. It is not glamorous work to
trace the issue-by-issue changes that activists have eked out -- whether
it's compelling multinational pharmaceutical companies to drop
intellectual property lawsuits against African governments seeking to
provide affordable AIDS drugs for their citizens, or creating a
congressional ban on World Bank loans that impose user fees on basic
health care and education for the poor, or persuading administrators at
more than 140 colleges to make their institutions take part in the
anti-sweatshop Worker Rights Consortium. Yet these changes affect many
lives.

Take just one demand: debt relief. For decades, countries whose people
suffer tremendous deprivation have been forced to send billions of dollars
to Washington in payment for past debts -- many of which were accumulated
by dictators overthrown years ago. Debt relief advocates were among the
thousands who joined the Seattle mobilization, and they saw their cause
quickly gain mainstream respectability in the altered climate that
followed. In 2005, the world's wealthiest countries agreed to a
breakthrough debt cancellation agreement that, while imperfect, shifted
roughly $1 billion per year in resources back to the global South.

In early 2007, Imani Countess, national coordinator of the American
Friends Service Committee Africa Program, noted that the impact of the
deal has been profound:

In Ghana, the money saved is being used for basic infrastructure,
including rural feeder roads, as well as increased expenditure on
education and health care.

In Burundi, elimination of school fees in 2005 allowed an additional
300,000 children to enroll.

In Zambia, since March 31, 2006, free basic health care has been provided
for all (along with) a pledge to recruit 800 medical personnel and
slightly over 4,000 teachers.

In Cameroon, (the government made) a pledge to recruit some 30,000 new
teachers by the year 2015 and to construct some 1,000 health facilities
within the next six years.

"They won the verbal and policy battle," said Gary Hufbauer, a
"pro-globalization" economist at the Institute for International Economics
in 2002, speaking of the groups that have organized major globalization
protests. "They did shift policy. Are they happy that they shifted it
enough? No, they're not ever going to be totally happy, because they're
always pushing."

A Crisis of Legitimacy

In its review of "Battle in Seattle," the Hollywood industry publication
Variety notes that "the post-9/11 war on terror did a great deal to bury
(the) momentum" of the global justice movement. This idea has become a
well-worn trope; however, it is only partially true. In the wake of 9/11,
activists did shift attention to opposing the Bush administration's
invasion and occupation of Iraq. But, especially in the global South,
protesters combined a condemnation of U.S. militarism with a critique of
"Washington Consensus" economic policies. In the post-Seattle era, these
polices have faced a crisis of legitimacy throughout much of the world.

Privatization, deregulation and corporate market access have failed to
reduce inequality or create sustained growth in developing countries. This
has led an increasing number of mainstream economists, Stiglitz most
prominent among them, to question some of the most cherished tenets of
neoliberal "free trade" economics. Not only are the intellectual
foundations of neoliberal doctrine under assault, the supposed
beneficiaries of these economic prescriptions are now walking away.
Throughout Latin America, waves of popular opposition to Washington
Consensus policies have forced conservative governments from power. In
election after election since the turn of the millennium, the people have
put left-of-center leaders in office.

The Asian financial crisis, which occurred shortly before Seattle, and the
collapse of Argentina's economy, which took place shortly afterward,
starkly illustrated the risks of linking a country's future to the whims
of international financial speculators. Those Asian countries hammered in
1997 and 1998 have now stockpiled massive currency reserves so that the
White House and the IMF will not be able to dictate their economic
policies in the future. Similarly, Latin American nations have paid off
IMF loans early to escape the institution's control.

The result has been swift and decisive. In 2004, the IMF's loan portfolio
was roughly $100 billion. Today it has fallen to around $10 billion,
rendering the institution almost impotent. As economist Mark Weisbrot
noted, "the IMF's loss of influence is probably the most important change
in the international financial system in more than half a century."

Currently, the United States is experiencing its own crisis of
deregulation and financial gambling. We are now afforded the rare sight of
Sen. John McCain blasting "Wall Street greed" and accusing financiers of
"(treating) the American economy like a casino." Meanwhile, Sen. Barack
Obama decries the removal of government oversight on markets and the
doctrine of trickle-down prosperity as "an economic philosophy that has
completely failed." In each case, their words might have been plucked from
Seattle's teach-ins and protest signs.

Townsend's film ends with the admonition that "the battle continues." The
struggle in the coming years will be to compel those in power to transform
campaign-trail rhetoric into a real rejection of corporate globalization.
The White House would still like to pass ever-newer "free trade"
agreements. And the WTO, while bruised and battered, has not been
eliminated entirely. Because its original mandate is still intact, the
institution has considerable power in dictating the terms of economic
development in much of the world. Opposing this will require continued
grassroots pressure.

On a broader level, huge challenges of global poverty, inequality,
militarism and environmental degradation remain. Few, if any, participants
in the 1999 mobilization believed that a single demonstration would
eliminate these problems in one tidy swoop, and I very much doubt that
anyone involved with the "Battle in Seattle" thinks a single film will
solve them, either. But the coming fight will be easier if the spirit that
drove those protests animates a new surge of citizen activism in the
post-Bush era.

Mark Engler, a writer based in New York City, is a senior analyst with
Foreign Policy In Focus and author of How to Rule the World: The Coming
Battle Over the Global Economy (Nation Books, 2008). He can be reached via
the Web site DemocracyUprising.com (c) 2008 Independent Media Institute.
All rights reserved.


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