|Progressive Calendar 10.19.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2008 05:17:23 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 10.19.08 1. Cosmology 10.19 9am 2. CO resistance/f 10.19 10am 3. Peace/justice 10.19 12:30pm 4. Stillwater vigil 10.19 1pm 5. Jerusalem/film 10.19 1pm 6. AI 10.19 3pm 7. ACORN/nuts/AM950 10.19 3pm 8. African summit 10.19 3pm 9. Grand juries/RNC 10.19 6:30pm 10. Peace vigil 10.19 7pm Menomonie WI 11. Peace/prejudice 10.20 11:30pm 12. Iran/film 10.20 6:30pm 13. Podcast class 10.20 7pm 14. Oxfam Action 10.20 7pm 15. Child slavery/f 10.20-23 16. Tim Simmers - Naomi Klein discusses bailout, economy at Stanford 17. Deepak Tripathi - Understanding terror 18. Linda Burnham - Capitalism: the great unmasking 19. Jan Lundberg - Society's downward spiral must play out first 20. Walter Smolarek - Latin America: half way through Bush's gauntlet 21. ed - US gold (poem) --------1 of 21-------- From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at] gmail.com> Subject: Cosmology 10.19 9am Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show. Sunday, October 19, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time "Cosmology & The Origins Initiative" with Lawrence M. Krauss World-renowned astrophysicist Lawrence M. Krauss joins us for the entire hour to discuss cosmology and the new Origins Initiative that he is heading at Arizona State University. Also a discussion about the upcoming Science and Technology Conference at the University of Minnesota and the Origins Symposium at Arizona State University. We welcome questions during the program at (952) 946-6205 or radio [at] MinnesotaAtheists.org. "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. [It's obvious to any rational person that the universe came from the Minnesota State Fair, because you can get anything there. The only question remaining is, how they got it off the stick - if they did. Sometimes it feels like the stick is still there... How come no one talks about this? Psychologists call it Chronic Stick Denial. -ed] --------2 of 21-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: CO resistance/film 10.19 10am SUNDAY OCT., 19, 10am THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE Heights Theatre 3951 Central Ave.NE, Minneapolis One of the most powerful films at the 5th annual MIZNA Arab Film Festival, is the American-made THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE. Robert Wise joined the Army after being kicked out of home. Daniel Baker joined the Navy with the hope of doing humanitarian aid. Both young men had spiritual and moral awakenings forcing them to recognize they could not participate in the occupation of Iraq. The film follows their journey as they apply for Conscientious Objector (CO) status. Asked why Mizna chose this American film, Slisli says, "We are an Arab-American organization. We stress American as much as Arab...We owe it to these soldiers to tell their stories and why they object to the war. They are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers." We meet inspiring allies, like Micheal Baxter, with the Catholic Workers and the Military Support Network, in Germany - the only CO support group outside the U.S. Army Lt. Ana Edgeon tells the official military side of the story. Daniel Blalock, is a longtime member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War-Anti-Imperialist, has devoted his life to ending war. "It takes more guts to refuse than to just go with the flow," says Blalock, who did two tours in Vietnam. "It takes more bravery to say 'No, I'll be a CO'. You're inside a machine that's going to squeeze you as much as they can to try to break you. It takes guts to be a CO." After the screening, there will be a discussion with Wes Davey, President of the Minnesota Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Slisli notes that most films about the Iraq occupation are getting very little distribution. "They say Americans aren't ready to see films about the war," he says. "But, I don't think that's true at all." I look forward to Mizna's Arab Film Festival every year and this year is packed with films that deserve a wide audience - and this may be your only chance to see these urgent films. --------3 of 21-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peace/justice 10.19 12:30pm Sunday, 10/19, 12:30 to 2 pm, Twin Cities Peace with Justice Forum series (ELCA denomination) presents a program with Hillary Freeman and Rev Brian Herron on the Minneapolis Community Justice Mentor Connection, Central Lutheran Church, 3rd Ave and 12th St (next to Mpls Convention Center), Mpls. Info from dhilden [at] comcast.net or 612-825-1481. (Lunch available for $7. Validated parking available in the Central lot/ramp on the south side of the church.) --------4 of 21-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 10.19 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 --------5 of 21-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Jerusalem/f 10.19 1pm Sunday,10/19, 1 pm, Mizna Film Festival presents documentary "Jerusalem: The East Side Story" about eastern Jerusalem since the Israeli occupation there began in 1967, Heights Theater, 3951 Central Ave NE, Mpls. http://www.mizna.org or 612-532-0747. --------6 of 21-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: AI 10.19 3pm GROUP 37 OCTOBER MEETING: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19 - 3 TO 5 P.M. Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, October 19th, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. We will take some time at the meeting to honor and celebrate the contributions and energy that Margaret Rounds has brought to our local group and the Center for Victims of Torture over her long career as a human rights defender. In addition to honoring Margaret, we will also take some time to share updates and take action on the case of Troy Davis. Troy Davis has been sentenced to be executed in the state of Georgia. The US Supreme Court recently granted a stay of execution, during which time, the state's execution warrant expired. The Supreme Court has since decided *not* to review Troy Davis's case. Georgia is now free to issue a new execution warrant and proceed toward execution. Several witnesses key to his conviction have recanted their testimony, and severe doubts exist about Troy Davis's guilt. Amnesty International is part of a massive effort to prevent the execution of Troy Davis. All are welcome at our meeting, and refreshments will be provided. Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis (corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot behind the center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn). A map and directions are available on-line: http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html --------7 of 21-------- From: James Mayer <info [at] jamesmayer.org> Subject: ACORN/nuts/AM950 10.19 3pm NATIONAL IMPACT OF LOCAL ACTION: CAN THE RABID CORPORATIST SQUIRRELS BURY THIS A.C.O.R.N.? CHECK INTO THIS ON: Of the People this Sunday, October19th at 3 p.m. on AM 950 KTNF (formerly Air America Minnesota) with Host James Mayer. Call-in line: 952-946-6205 Do the words "We the People" include people with little or no income, health care, decent education or housing, or even protection of their voting rights? Making sure they're included is what The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (A.C.O.R.N.) does. It's the nation's largest community organization of low-and moderate-income families. Of the People brings you guests who see when something's wrong in our society, and use the tools of democracy to fix it. See how that describes A.C.O.R.N. and how they'll help get out the November vote. Join James Mayer and Minnesota A.C.O.R.N. Director, Brandon Nessen this Sunday afternoon at 3:00. Threats to a democratic and healthy society don't go away for the weekend. Neither does the bad news the corporate media uses to make us feel shocked, depressed or even helpless. But for a few weekend moments you can refresh and regenerate your energy on Of the People, a place to go for good news that the "news" corporations monopolizing our airwaves seldom let through: people taking action together, on real solutions. To listen to us on AM 950 KTNF (formerly Air America Minnesota), go to 950 on your AM radio dial --------8 of 21-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: African summit 10.19 3pm Sunday, 10/19, 3 to 8 pm, the Justice and Peace Task Force of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities area sponsors an African Summit, with a focus on exploitive practices of extractive industries, a discussion of individual countries by a panel, and a panel of community youth who have immigrated from Africa, Carondelet Center, 1890 Randolph St, St Paul. http://africasummit.eventbrite.com or 612-799-0595. --------9 of 21-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Grand juries/RNC 10.19 6:30pm Sunday, 10/19, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, info session on grand juries, what they are, what rights you have, in preparation for the 5 Texas activists subpoenaed post-RNC, Walker Church, 3104 - 16th Ave S, Mpls. --------10 of 21-------- From: Jayne & Bob <jaynebob [at] baldwin-telecom.net> Subject: Peace vigil 10.19 7pm Menomonie WI Fellow seekers after peace: you are invited to a Peace Vigil to be held under the auspices of the Unitarian Society of Menomonie, Wisconsin. We will meet on Sunday, October 19, at the Mabel Tainter Theatre in Menomonie at 7:00 p.m. for a series of speakers and conversations, and then join at the UW-Stout Clock Tower across the street for a vigil for a peaceful end to the war in Iraq. Please visit our website at www.menomonieuu.org <http://www.menomonieuu.org/> for further information or to direct questions. Thank you, Bob Bledsoe, Commissioned Lay Leader, U Society of Menomonie. --------11 of 21-------- From: Sage Holben <Sage.Holben [at] metrostate.edu> Subject: Peace not prejudice 10.20 11:30pm PEACE NOT PREJUDICE SERIES OF PROGRAMS Ecolab Room 302 Metropolitan State University 645 East 7th Street Saint Paul, MN The Muslim Student Organization at Metropolitan State University is launching a new awareness series which is a proactive and positive campaign seeking to facilitate understanding among different communities, regardless of race, ethnicity and/or religion. The purpose of this campaign is to build awareness and stand against racism and stereotypes while simultaneously celebrating our differences. ALL SESSIONS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. LUNCH IS PROVIDED: RSVP NECESSARY FOR LUNCH & SEATING at each session. CALL 651-793-1270 or lupe.sanchez [at] metrostate.edu MONDAY, OCT. 20, 11:30-1 p.m. Ecolab Room 302, Metropolitan State University Library COMMUNICATION IN TURBULENT TIMES A panel comprised of staff, faculty and students from different cultural communities will discuss different cultural approaches to controversial issues affecting their communities. TUESDAY, OCT. 21, NOON - 1:30 p.m. Ecolab Room 302, Metropolitan State University Library CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE POST 9/11 WORLD Speaker is Chris Schumacher, a St. John's University graduate, civil rights worker and educator. As the chapter coordinator for CAIR-MN, Schumacher works to understand tensions, examine differences, and clarify misconceptions surrounding Muslims in America THURSDAY, October 23, NOON -1:30 p.m. Ecolab Room 302, Metropolitan State University Library EXPRESSION OF CULTURE THROUGH MEDIA: Case study of how Muslims are portrayed in the Western and Muslim world Presenter is Mohammad Zafar, a social science alum, who is currently a student in the community psychology master's program. --------12 of 21-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Iran/film 10.20 6:30pm FREE Third Monday Movies and Discussion: "Iran Is Not the Problem" Monday, October 20, 6:30 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, Parish Center, 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. "After years of working on Iran and Middle East politics, this is perhaps the most engrossing and easily digestible film I've ever come across" explains the often misunderstood and complex issues in U.S.-Iranian relations." (Sanaz Meshkinpour) Discussion with William Beeman, University of Minnesota professor and expert on Iran follows film. Sponsored by: the WAMM Third Monday Movies Committee. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364. --------13 of 21-------- From: Tim Erickson <tim [at] e-democracy.org> Subject: Podcast class 10.20 7pm SPED Outreach Workshop - Fall 2008 ALL workshops listed are FREE on Mondays at 7:00 PM. Unless otherwise noted, all are in the Electronic Classroom at Rondo Community Outreach Library (University & Dale, in St. Paul). Oct 20th - Podcasting A podcast is a radio-style show distributed over the Internet to anyone who wants to listen. Come learn how to record, edit and publish a podcast from your home computer. --------14 of 21-------- From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN <minnesota [at] oxfamactioncorps.org> Subject: Oxfam Action 10.20 7pm On the 3rd Monday of each month, we gather to plan our nonpartisan grassroots activities. We've successfully organized events, lobbied policymakers, and have used sheer creativity to stand up for meaningful change. Common Roots Café (2558 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis). Anyone can become an Oxfam Action Corps volunteer. Remember, our entire team is volunteer organized and driven - the only qualification is a passion to end suffering. New members join regularly. Stop by this Monday even if you can only spare a few minutes. We'd love to meet you. You can contact us at minnesota [at] oxfamactioncorps.org. --------15 of 21-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Child slavery/f 10.20-23 10/20 to 10/23, rockumentary film "Call + Response" about modern-day slavery from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India, revealing the terrifying secret that there are more slaves today than ever before, Lagoon Cinema, 1320 Lagoon Ave, Mpls. http://www.landmarktheaters.com --------16 of 21-------- Author Naomi Klein Discusses Bailout, Economy at Stanford by Tim Simmers Published on Saturday, October 18, 2008 by San Mateo County Times (California) Common Dreams As public anxiety about the teetering economy deepens, author Naomi Klein is gaining listeners with her pronouncements on the failings of American-style capitalism. "We've been living in a fairy tale" that deregulation and privatization serve the common good, the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" said Thursday. Speaking at Stanford University's Kresge Auditorium on Thursday evening as part of the Aurora Forum, Klein minced no words. She insists that deregulating the financial system has created bubbles and busts, and she called the current $700 billion bailout, or rescue plan, a "stickup." This financial crisis and the Iraq war are examples of how economic shocks and global disasters are used to boost the profits of the elite, she said. "The president goes on TV and dangles a plan to Congress, saying if we don't get it we're going down, and banks are going to close in your neighborhood," she said. "That's deeply crazy if you look at it. Especially about a plan that almost all economists said couldn't fix the problem." Klein said the Bush administration's plan was reckless. She bristled at the "comfort level" Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and President Bush have exhibited with the crisis. "It's like they're saying, 'Hey, stuff happens,'"." she said. "And then a week later the whole idea of buying toxic debt they were pushing died." Klein's ideas have been criticized by some as extreme and leftist, but her challenges to the myth of the unfettered marketplace are resonating with a growing number of people. Klein, a former fellow at the London School of Economics, believes the policies of the last few decades have allowed a shadow banking system to flourish. It was a "disaster waiting to happen," she said. She puts the blame on both parties, though she clearly believes the Bush administration has done more to close the curtains, allowing for deep corruption. "There was no morality," she said. "It was all based on the get it while you can concept." Now Klein suggests that Paulson, Bush and Congress are using the bailout to push through radical policies that favor the corporate elite. "It's a cesspool of conflicts of interest, the people pulling together this plan," she said. "Where are we now?" asked Terry Karl, a Stanford political science professor who was part of the conversation with Klein onstage. "Are we doomed?" Klein said she thinks the country is at a crossroads and that this is a "moment of possibilities" that could reverse entrenched corruption. But she fears more of the same policies as the financial crisis deepens. She believes the financial crisis will be used by Republicans against Democratic Sen. Barack Obama if he is elected president. "No, we can't" may become the new refrain, she said, from social programs that help the disadvantaged to the pursuit of alternative energy and investment in technology to combat climate change. "Business will be in a slump, and there will be calls for tax breaks and deregulation," she said. "It's going to be a hard fight." She also expects more attacks on civil rights and undocumented workers, as well as another attempt to privatize Social Security. "I call for the nationalization of ExxonMobil," she said jokingly, to roaring applause. "They made $40 billion in profits from us." 2000-2008 ANG Newspapers --------17 of 21-------- Understanding Terror By Deepak Tripathi October 18, 2008 ZNet The 9/11 attacks on America and the subsequent 'war on terror' prosecuted by President George W. Bush have brought the debate on terrorism into sharp focus. Hardly any country today can claim to be immune from the threat of terrorism or the impact of the US offensive worldwide. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and increasingly Pakistan, it means war. India, ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia and US allies in the Gulf have become frontline states in the war against terrorism. Beyond the conflict zone, its manifestations can be seen in security operations. These include surveillance, kidnappings and detentions instigated by America and its allies, as well as immigration restrictions and checks on money transactions unprecedented in scale since the end of the Cold War. When changes of such magnitude take place in the name of 'war on terror', it is natural to ask what constitutes terror and how is it caused? Yet the reluctance to confront these questions is far greater today than at any time in the last half century. 'Terrorist' and 'terrorism' have become widely used terms of abuse throughout the world by democratic and totalitarian regimes alike. Academics and human rights activists can be denied visas to enter the United State. The political opposition in Zimbabwe and Buddhist monks protesting against Chinese rule, even the Dalai Lama, are accused of engaging in terrorist activities. There is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. The term is used so widely and for such a sweeping range of activities today that anybody faces the risk of terrorism-related accusations. The absurdity of this approach has been demonstrated most recently by the British government's decision to use its counter-terrorism laws to seize the UK-based assets of Icelandic companies following the collapse of an Icelandic bank, caught in the worldwide financial turmoil. The 'terrorist' label is used primarily for non-state groups. States, with few exceptions, can employ extreme repressive measures without being called terrorist. The idea of citizens taking up arms against a repressive regime has been buried in history. It has been quite a turn around since the 1970s and 1980s. But there is a way to understand the phenomenon of terrorism objectively, casting aside the subjectivity that clouds the debate today. It is to examine terrorism through the microscope of 'culture of violence'. Conflicts such as those in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine serve as reference points to study terrorism by this method. Culture, as defined by E. B. Taylor, is 'that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs and many other capabilities and habits acquired by ... [members] of society'. Culture is the way of life which people follow in society without consciously thinking about how it came into being. It incorporates the impact of events, cultivated behavior, experience accumulated over time and social learning and is transmitted from generation to generation over years, decades, even centuries. The fundamental building block of a culture is trait. Traits assume many forms such as tools, houses and lifestyle. Culture represents patterns of behavior - family relationships, attitudes and acts towards neighbors and people from distant places. The way government encourages citizens to conform, or imposes sanctions on them, indicates a certain culture. It is a collective mentality involving shared ways of seeing, understanding and experiencing the world. It distinguishes the members of one group from another. How does a culture of violence take root and how does it grow? The process can be seen in four, sometimes overlapping, phases, starting with internal conflict. In Afghanistan, it began with the fall of the monarchy in 1973 and conflict between rival forces in the country. Iraq had been a tightly controlled dictatorship under Saddam Hussain. Its history under Ba'athist rule, which ended with Saddam's overthrow in 2003, shows conflict within the ruling party and between the regime and opposition groups. The modern conflict in Palestine goes back to just after the Second World War and the creation of Israel. It, too, can be described as an internal conflict, between Jews and Palestinians, who have competing claims to the same land. But it would be wrong to see the Israel-Palestinian conflict solely as an internal matter today. It is central to the wider Middle East crisis, in which external powers are involved, and oil is key. The second phase in the growth of a violent culture is associated with the involvement of outside players that fuels the internal conflict. The conditions which led to Afghanistan falling under Communist domination in the 1970s and the war since then have much to do with the actions of the ex-Soviet Union, America and regional powers such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and, to a lesser extent, China and India. After the failed attempt to annex Kuwait in the early 1990s, the Iraqi regime was seriously weakened by the imposition of UN sanctions and no-fly zones by America, Britain and, for a period, France, excluding Iraqi aircraft from flying over large parts of northern and southern Iraq. Following the 2003 US-led invasion and the dismantling of the Ba'athist regime, many state and non-state players moved into Iraq, starting a vicious cycle of violence along with internal forces which had been unleashed. The third phase in the growth of a culture of violence involves disintegration of the state structure, as the case of Iraq illustrates. The disintegration of the Afghan state in the 1980s and 1990s was a slow process. Once the institutions had collapsed, the Taleban were left as the only agency with the coercive power necessary to enforce some kind of order. The system which the Taleban imposed was oppressive and isolationist. It turned Afghanistan into a sanctuary for groups like Al-Qaeda. The fourth stage is the creation of an environment in which the rise of extremism occurs. By this stage, the cycle of violence has matured. Violence has superseded the rule of law. Violent players and their victims have become used to coercion. Their thinking and behaviour are driven by the perceived justification for, or expectation of, the use of force to resolve matters. In short, a condition has been reached in which violence permeates all levels of society and becomes part of human thinking, behavior and way of life. The reign of terror has arrived and becomes a phenomenon that does not know borders. How can it be prevented? There are remedies implied in the discussion above. Deepak Tripathi, former BBC correspondent and editor, is a researcher and an author. He is the author of a study of the Afghan conflict during the Cold War and its consequences. Its findings were published in March 2008 in a short monograph, Dialectics of the Afghanistan Conflict: How the country became a terrorist haven (Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi). His book is to be published later. --------18 of 21-------- Capitalism: The Great Unmasking By Linda Burnham Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2008 11:38:02 -0400 From: moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG Capitalism in crisis is a sight to behold. Most of the time the system seems to hum along quite nicely. Oh, maybe a passel of people loses their jobs when some big-headed suit at the top decides to up and move on to a cheaper labor market. And maybe a city or two, or even a whole region, goes bankrupt and destitute, shops boarded up, ghosts in the street. Maybe a generation of young people ends up poorly educated because nobody could figure out how to turn a decent profit schooling ten-year-olds, so it slid down to the bottom of the priority list. Maybe there's an aberration here or there, like the positive incentive to filling up prisons. But overall, the thing has the reputation of the proverbial well-oiled machine, humming along and delivering the greatest good to the greatest number. And besides, it's the only machine in town. But then it breaks down. Spectacularly. And it turns out that this highest possible form of human development has more than a few foundational flaws, the relevant one at the moment being that it is subject, inevitably and constitutionally, to periodic, devastating crisis. At such moments the verities of capital are called into question, and not by the closet Marxists and nostalgic revolutionaries. No, the capitalists themselves, in deed if not in word, are heaving great chunks of their ideology overboard. Invisible hand of the market? Heave ho. Limited government intervention in business? Heave ho. Self-correcting system? Heave ho. Whatever it takes to re-stabilize the system, let's do it. Principles be damned. The pragmatic and temporary abandonment of core ideological beliefs is a great unmasking. And behind the mask - fear, befuddlement, bravado. The lords of finance live in a universe in which they are rewarded for being both insatiable and delusional. With maximizing profits as their single imperative they toil daily at the task of turning every human relationship and every form of matter - animal, vegetable or mineral - into a monetized asset. The only limits on how many ways that monetized asset can be reconfigured and repackaged; the only limits on how many times it can be resold; the only limits on how many ways profit can be wrung out of it are the limits of the imagination. We're human; our imagination is without limits. We've figured out how to buy, sell and lease the air space above buildings and the wind blowing across the plains. And here you thought 'inherit the wind' was just a metaphor. But at least the air is a substance you can feel and hear and, on a crisp fall day, smell. Our boys are way beyond that, having long since abandoned the molecular to trade in the entirely immaterial. So those are the rules they've been playing by. Did the current crop of players make up those rules? No, they are the rules of the reproduction of capital and the current players just happen to be in the game at a time when, abetted by the information superhighway and in the context of globalization, they've triggered a crisis that may yet turn out to be steeper, wider and deeper than any in recent history. As anybody standing on the corner could tell you, don't hate the player, hate the game. And the rest of us? What are we to them? We are the human embodiment of the capacity to carry and pay off debt. That's it, that's all. We are our credit scores. We might as well have them flashing on an LED display implanted in our foreheads. We've been suckered, cajoled, manipulated and coerced into joining them in their world of delusion, ensnared as bit players in the grievous overproduction of imaginary wealth. And while the realm of the fictitious expanded infinitely, the realm of our real lives contracted and shrank. Our wages flatlined or fell; we lived in fear of acquiring an uninsured health problem; our mortgages turned into a leaden ball and chain. The loans and debts multiplied and the interest rates kept rising. One administration after the other enabled a regime of trickle up profits and trickle down pain. So while they're frantically hustling to salvage the system, let's stop for a moment to consider where we stand. We collectively face three major, inter-related crises: the global crisis of capitalism; the crisis of planetary sustainability; and the crisis of war, militarism and empire. The crisis of capitalism will be temporarily resolved. On our backs, to be sure, and it will undoubtedly take a while, but the markets will stabilize, borrowing and lending will resume, and profit-taking will be back on track. The mask, now in the repair shop for a custom remodel job, will be back in place, firmly affixed to once again show the face of capital triumphant. And capital triumphant will have firmly in hand the one chunk of ideology that was never tossed - there is no alternative, or TINA. Which brings me to the fourth crisis, hardly acknowledged and barely discussed, at least here in the U.S.: the crisis of the political impotence of the left. We stand at the brink of multiple disasters in the howling absence of an alternative vision for sustainable, people-centered human development, or an alternative platform for deep reform, or an organized base capable of challenging and shifting power. And so this moment - the great unmasking - should serve as an urgent reminder that we have a multi-generational project at hand. That is, to construct a viable politic and effective organizational forms capable of acting on the belief that it is possible to build a society that lifts up that which is generous and creative and humane while curbing the greedy, the short-sighted and the predatory. There must be an alternative. Otherwise we, and generations to come, will remain at the mercy of the players and their game. -- Linda Burnham is a co-founder and former executive director of the Women of Color Resource Center. She was a leader in the Third World Women's Alliance, an organization that grew out of a women's caucus in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), The numerous articles she's published include: "Has Poverty Been Feminized in Black America," "Race and Gender: Analogous or Not," "A Sledgehammer Message from L.A.," and "Recruiting for the FBI: Reflections on The Bell Curve." --------19 of 21-------- Society's downward spiral must play out first by Jan Lundberg Culture Change Letter #206 http://culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=226&Itemid=1 Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2008 20:38:38 -0700 (PDT) Society's sad and terminal state is not an abstraction of issues or dollars. It is the wasted human potential of the intelligent, charitable individual who is stifled and hemmed in. Yet, our many wonderful members of society are creatures of artificial "comfort." Convenience comes at costs such as cancer and heart disease that were rare diseases until the last hundred years. Forced by the present economy to be self-centered, we also suppress our creativity and innate potential for triumphing over a clear threat. For the most part the modern human being labors in exchange for essentials handed over at whatever the market will bear. Food, shelter and clothing are not won or collected from nature, or in cooperation with helpful tribe members, but rather obtained in exchange for becoming a kind of slave. Neuroses from overcrowding are apparent, but none dare call it overpopulation. The result of living this way, with little daily activity in healthy nature, is a weakened race unable to survive in the wild, much as a domesticated animal such as a dog would do poorly in a forest where the wolf belongs. Some humans are exemplary in capabilities and resolute spirit, but they are the small minority in a mass of humanity remarkably passive as disasters close in. On our way like sheep to the slaughterhouse appears to be our fate. In past centuries and decades people were tougher and closer to the land, so when they got hungry enough they revolted and took what they needed. Today's people are confused about what constitutes real wealth and power, such that they may be sitting ducks for those who would take away further the freedoms and normal responses that should be present among healthy, strong humans. Unless people riot uncontrollably and breach the walls of the gated communities and fan out from there, they may be prey to urban social control mechanisms designed to remove the threat that the masses pose to those who may be sitting well in the countryside with a ready, sustainable food supply. Little of this will occur in societies far less petroleum dependent. The more I travel and interact in this country, I get a bad feeling about living in a U.S. city today. To see a homeless person or deranged street person is to feel the failure that is U.S. society. It's just as clear when one meets an expanse of asphalt and cars; the terminal nature of our society is in our faces. I want to live but they want me to die I've got to give the best of myself They only want me to lie I gotta give the best of myself They only want me to lie - Warhorse, "Solitude" (from Mojo Magazine's compilation Heavy Nuggets 1968-1973 British rock songs) The future can only get worse before it gets better, from an understanding of energy, ecology and social response to stress and deprivation. My feelings and outlook easily elicit "Nothing new! Join the club!" Yet there may be something more for me to say of some value to you. I actually bring good tidings, even if the prophetic "doom and gloom" stereotype works unintentionally as blinders. The barren social wasteland is on its way to complete desertification; then the deluge. Before this urban existence is washed away forever, we're experiencing historic intensification of alienation from nature and our fellow humans. The tribe is gone, the buffalo are gone, the salmon almost gone, along with the climate. But there's good news. Having money and material things for security is rapidly expiring. The expiration date for consumer culture and materialism could be 2009, 2012 or later, but the exact date is not the point of this prediction. We can't claim it's far off if we're honest about observable trends. So it's time to get off our asses and separate ourselves from those who are constipated and are hopelessly in denial. The alternative is to take one's drug of choice to the extent one can afford, and revel in gratifying consumption such as a juicy steak. The non-money culture has to begin now. Impossible? Well, maybe for you, so you must get out of the way and be bid adieu. People have been extricating themselves from Babylon for a long time as individuals and small groups finding real community closer to nature. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of us live day-to-day routines of desperate existence. If anyone believes their life in an urban U.S. "community" is better than that, they're delusional. How can it be a delusion when money buys happiness and freedom? Well, anyone ingesting plastics and radiation (most of us today) is getting screwed. We want to believe we're taking minute risks in exchange for techno-bliss. Piss on it and walk away from the fray. Those who have awakened do not need further explication or convincing. Preparedness for petrocollapse and climate chaos is the only sensible course. Society's downward spiral must play out before positive social change kicks in, which it will -- like gangbusters. We pick up the pieces. Many columns and short stories from Culture Change have described this process in an as optimistic fashion as reality can merit. It is up to you to make it better or succumb to the tragic script others have written for humanity and all life as we know it. Culture Change Consulting for peak oil and post-collapse living: http://culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=135&Itemid=46 --------20 of 21-------- Latin America: Half Way Through Bush's Gauntlet: A Status Report by Walter Smolarek October 18th, 2008 The not-so subtly imperialist administration of George Bush, in a last ditch attempt to stem the tide of revolution in Latin America before his term ends in January, has launched a divide and rule campaign against the Bolivarian governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia. At the heart of the rightist plan is the International Confederation for Regional Freedom and Autonomy (CONFILAR), which was convened in Guayaquil, Ecuador in 2006. In attendance were counter-revolutionaries from all three nations, and deciding the outcome of the battle against their divisive schemes are four elections: The August 10th recall referendum in Bolivia, the September 28th constitutional referendum in Ecuador, the November 23rd regional elections in Venezuela, and the December 7th constitutional referendum in Bolivia (although that date is now in question). The former two have already been decided (Ecuador just about a week ago); what rides on the later two? The myriad of violence, plotting, mass mobilizations, and intervention manifesting in these nations must be understood in the context of these decisive votes to come to the realization that the struggle in South America is reaching its apex. Bolivia In Bolivia, the secessionists are well organized and more powerful than their Venezuelan and Ecuadorian counterparts. Emboldened by CONFILAR and after sufficient agitation, the largely white ruling class of this Andean nation had an epiphany: that autonomy was the only way to escape Morales' redistribution of wealth. The first aggressive action taken by the oligarchy was on May 4th with the illegal autonomy referendum held in Santa Cruz Department. Morales called for abstention in this quasi-consultation plagued with violence perpetrated by the Santa Cruz Youth Union, and, if abstentions are counted as no votes, the voting was split almost exactly down the middle. This set the stage for the August 10th recall referendum for the President, Vice President, and all of the departmental prefects, called with support from both the governing MAS (Movement for Socialism) and the opposition. While some counter-revolutionaries thought that this would strengthen their position, the referendum did just the opposite. The people showed tremendous support for Morales, who garnered over 67% of the vote. In addition to this socialist victory, the secessionist prefects of the Cochabamba and La Paz departments were overwhelmingly voted out of office. After this great outpouring of popular support, the long-awaited constitutional referendum was called for December 7th, as well as the elections for those who would replace the recalled prefects. Having been trounced in the arena of democracy and faced with the threats of a very progressive constitution and that, in all likelihood, the secessionist prefects will find themselves in the minority, the oligarchy turned to violence. The fighting began when "strikes" enforced by the Santa Cruz Youth Union were called in the Media Luna (as the departments ruled by the secessionists are called); which coincided with the seizure or vandalizing of government institutions and later, on September 10th, an attack on an important pipeline; truly a "civil coup". This attack finally prompted Morales to deploy the military to defend vital infrastructure, and the violence reached its peak on September 11th when 16 pro-Morales peasants were massacred by groups connected to prefect Leopoldo Fernandez, who was later arrested. Faced with insurmountable odds, the oligarchs agreed to negotiate and the situation de-escalated after September 12th when negotiations began. These will almost certainly turn out favorably for the popular MAS government, as the powerful social movements of Bolivia had provided muscle were Morales was forced to be soft and will continue their blockade of the rebellious provinces until the referendum on the new constitution is secure. This referendum will (seeing the broad support for Morales during the crisis and in the recall referendum) almost certainly pass and consolidate and invigorate the socialist transformation taking place. Ecuador In Ecuador, the leftist government of Rafael Correa is the product of years of struggle. From the revolution that overthrew Lucio Gutierrez, who betrayed the people with his capitulation to neo-liberalism, to the Alianza PAIS (Proud and Sovereign Fatherland Alliance, Correa's party) campaign to defeat the notorious capitalist Alvaro Noboa for the presidency, the Ecuadorian people have shown that exploitation is not acceptable. To that end, Correa's APAIS administration (although one might stop short of calling the government socialist) has pursued an anti-imperialist line primarily via the drafting of a new constitution. Within three months of Correa's taking office, a referendum was held on whether or not to proceed with the restructuring of the apparatus of state power. Overwhelmingly, the people approved by a margin of over 4 to 1. This was, naturally, followed by an election for the constituent assembly that would draft the new constitution. Held less than six months later, APAIS crushed the other parties, garnering nearly 70% of the vote. A few months of hard work later a new framework for a just, independent Ecuador was laid, ensuring social security, healthcare, education, the end of foreign military presence, and regional solidarity. All that was left was to rally the people for a final vote, the September 28th constitutional referendum. And this is when our friends from CONFILAR come in. Jaime Nebot, the mayor of Guayaquil and therefore host of CONFILAR, became the de facto leader of the opposition to the constitution alongside the Catholic Church, which played a major role in a well coordinated misinformation campaign via a disgusting spectacle of manipulation playing to homophobic and misogynistic tendencies the Church itself instilled in some Ecuadorians. Opposing them were the social movements, toughened by the struggle against the corrupt governments of the past, carrying out an even more efficient mobilization campaign emphasizing the history-making significance of this consultation. When September 28th finally rolled around, there was, in reality, two elections going on. One in Ecuador as a whole, determining the fate of the progressive constitution, and another in Guayas province, where the level of approval for the constitution would determine whether or not there was any future for the CONFILAR strategy. In both contests, the secessionists were defeated, with 64% support nationally and 51% support in Guayas. To give a final dose of legitimacy to the new order, a general election will be held in a few months, and from there on it's easy to see Correa radicalizing just as Chavez did after the passing of Venezuela's progressive, 1999 constitution. Although this may be too bold, at present it seems that the oligarchy will have to de-emphasize its secessionist tactics. Venezuela Certainly more developed than the Ecuadorian secessionists, but less so than their Bolivian counterparts, a CONFILAR-originated quasi-movement for autonomy has reared its head in the oil-rich state of Zulia, whose governor, Manuel Rosales, is a long time opponent of Chavez and was complicit in the 2002 coup attempt. In Venezuela, the opposition forces (which includes the media in its near entirety) are arguably the most radical and definitely the most hardened and manipulative. With tremendous popular support, Hugo Chavez and PSUV, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (in one incarnation or another), have won every election they faced with the exception of the most recent, the 2007 constitutional referendum. Through a combination of insufficient agitation by the Bolivarian forces and the vehement anti-Chavez attitude of the media, the constitution was defeated. The oligarchs used this momentum to attempt to construct a two-pronged counter-revolution: electoral organizing (backed by US government slush funds like USAID) and violence (carried out by thugs or reactionary officers). The electoral organizing (if spending NED grants can be considered organizing) is focused on the November 23rd regional elections. Currently, 21 of the 23 states have Bolivarian governors. However, up to seven of these positions could be lost, and especially critical is control of the governorship Zulia. The construction of socialism could be totally put on hold or even begin to reverse should the oligarchy be able to multiply its momentum. On the other hand, should PSUV be able to hold on to the vast majority of states, the weaknesses of the revolution could be rectified. Undeniably, Chavez and PSUV have vast popular support, so while the regional elections may strengthen the opposition, it will certainly not be an outright victory. As such, violence is a key tactic of the desperate counter-revolutionaries. At first, this was confined to bands of thugs, most notable of these is the March 13th Movement (M13). For example, a little over two months ago M13 (consistent with their actions before the 2007 referendum) instigated a riot in the city of Merida. However, these paramilitary actions have proved insufficient. No, the oligarchy has no other alternative than to take the route of Pinochet, Banzer, and Stroessner. On September 11th, the 35th anniversary of Pinochet's seizure of power from the Allende government, it was announced that a coup was being planned involving officers both presently and formerly serving as well as media tycoons Miguel Henrique Otero and Alberto Federico Ravell, heads of El Nacional newspaper and Globovision channel, respectively. Using an F-16, the plotters would bomb Miraflores (the presidential palace) or shoot down Chavez's plane with an AT-4 rocket launcher. Luckily, yet another usurpation of state power was averted through excellent intelligence gathering. However, even if a putsch had occurred, the people would have, just like they've done before, came out in force to re-establish democracy and sovereignty. It's essential that the popular support that would drive such an action is maintained, and this means reaffirming the Bolivarian government's dedication to entirely removing capitalism, possible only with a victory on November 23rd. >From the tremendous show of support for the socialist government in Bolivia, to the successful resistance against a reactionary civil coup, the establishment of a starting point for radical change in Ecuador, and courageous resistance against imperialist and capitalist influence in Venezuela, we may very well be seeing the defining moment in the fight for South American liberation. However, we should be careful not to assume a triumphant attitude in the light of these recent victories. Anti-imperialists of all nations (especially in the United States) should fight on and redouble their efforts to not only achieve national sovereignty by fighting Western (or more accurately, Northern) lackeys in the two elections to come but to consolidate this freedom via Latin American integration along socialist lines. Walter Smolarek is a student and supportive of the progressive presidential campaign of Gloria LaRiva and Eugene Puryear. He encourages you to learn more about it at www.votepsl.org. Read other articles by Walter. This article was posted on Saturday, October 18th, 2008 at 7:00am and is filed under Activism, Bolivia, Democracy, Ecuador, Socialism, Solidarity, Venezuela. --------21 of 21-------- Who stole the world gold medal for evil? 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