|Progressive Calendar 09.30.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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. --------13 of 13-------- One-legged frog tap clump tap clump tap clump tap clump tap clump tap clump plop! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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