Progressive Calendar 01.31.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2009 15:34:01 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.31.09

1. AWC anniv bash   1.31 7pm
2. Police brutality 1.31 9pm

3. Stillwater vigil 2.01 1pm
4. MN health/AM950  2.01 3pm
5. Bicking campaign 2.01 6pm

6. Ron Jacobs       - Return of the Democrats - buyer beware
7. John Rockefeller - Final piece in our economic collapse
8. Benjamin Dangl   - Bolivia: new constitution passed; celebrations
9. Rev Jos M Tirado - How Iceland fell: a hundred days of (muted) rage
10. Walter Smolarek - The NeoCon gauntlet traversed: a victory report
11. Missy Beattie   - Indefensible empire: the US Garden of Evil
12. ed              - Yokking Yokks!  (poem)

--------1 of 12--------

From: Jess Sundin <jess [at] antiwarcommittee.org>
Subject: AWC anniv bash 1.31 7pm

This week, the AWC is celebrating 10 years of solidarity and resistance.
There's a huge party Saturday night; bring yourself, your friends and your
loved ones. It will be a blowout: A chance to tell our old stories, eat
great food (provided by Cooks for a Cause), and dance to a live
performance by our favorite band, Junkyard Empire. Children are welcome in
the childcare room, or to join in the all-age festivities. Aside from a
cash bar, the party is on us!

Saturday, January 31
Waite House Community Center
2529 13th Ave S, Mpls

7p:   Peace, justice and appetizers
8p:   Story time with the AWC (your participation welcome)
9p:   Live performance by Junkyard
Empire<http://www.junkyardempire.blogspot.com/>


--------2 of 12--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Police brutality 1.31 9pm

Magnanimous Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may
watch.

Sat, 1/31, 9pm and Tues, 2/3, 8am
Police Brutality: from the RNC to Everyday Life

Guest Michelle Gross, President of the MN-based Communities United Against
Police Brutality shares the word from the streets and neighborhoods of the
Twin Cities.  From cop behavior in St. Paul during the RNC and the
increase in cop usage of new "less lethal" weapons to hate crimes being
carried out by police relating to the election of President Barack Obama,
Ms. Gross lays out reason for us to keep a closer eye on police behavior.
Hosted by Karen Redleaf.


--------3 of 12--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 2.01 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------4 of 12--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: MN health/AM950 2.01 3pm

MN Universal Health Care: Making it a Reality and Model for the U.S.
Part II-A Doctor's perspective!
Join in THE CONVERSATION. TUNE YOUR RADIO TO:
Of the People this Sunday, February 1 at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF (formerly
Air America Minnesota) with Host James Mayer.  Or stream us:
http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen
Call-in line: 952-946-6205

Join us during the second program of our series of broadcasts about REAL
Universal Health Care with James F Hart, M.D., Assistant Professor
University of Minnesota School of Public Health as he and host James Mayer
discuss the benefits of single payer universal health care and what we can
do to make it a reality.


--------5 of 12--------

From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com>
Subject: Bicking campaign 2.01 6pm

Dave Bicking for City Council campaign meeting:

Sunday, February 1, 6:00pm
Dave's house:  3211 22nd Ave. S. (lower duplex), Minneapolis
(Directions: Just over two blocks south of Lake St. on 22nd Ave.  22nd
Avenue is just west of the Lake Street stop of the Hiawatha LRT.  There is
also good bus service along Lake St.)

There will be a meeting this Sunday evening for all those who would like
help plan and organize my campaign for Mpls City Council.  We need to
organize a campaign team, strategize, and start work on next steps.
There are many ways to help with the campaign, and some of them do not
necessarily involve coming to meetings.  Please let me know if there are
specific ways you would like to volunteer, even if you are not interested
in or not available for meetings.

If you would like to help set the direction of the campaign, volunteer to
be on the campaign team, or just provide your ideas and suggestions, I
would appreciate it if you can come to the meeting this Sunday.  We will
be talking about recruiting volunteers, especially, at this stage, those
who can take responsibility for particular parts of the campaign.  We will
start work on a timeline and strategy for the campaign, discuss our
message and publicity, plan the website, plan for position papers, think
about graphics and logo, and think about the first literature piece.  We
also need to think about a next campaign event to follow up on our very
successful campaign kick-off party.

The campaign has gotten off to a great start, thanks to your help and
enthusiasm.  The party was wonderful; over 60 people filled the basement
of Walker Church. I think we all had a good time, and we raised over $1000
as well!  Other donations and offers of help continue to arrive.  We need
to build on this success, and I need your continuing help to stay on top
of it all and plan for the next 9 months.

Also, please mark your calendars now for a community forum of all the
candidates for City Council in Wards 2, 9 (mine), and 12:  Saturday,
February 21, 10am - noon, at Matthews Park, 2318 29th Ave. S., Mpls.

We need a major change in City government, so that it represents and
serves ALL of us.  Please come and be a part of that change!

Dave Bicking 612-276-1213
--
   you'll be
Picking Bicking

-ed


--------6 of 12--------

Buyer Beware
Return of the Democrats
By RON JACOBS
CounterPunch
January 30

The Democrats are now running the show in DC.  How much difference will
this make if they truly exercise their power and don't fold to every
threat from the right like they did under Clinton?  If they stand up to
filibuster attempts, will they pass universal health care that actually
provides medical insurance for every person living in the United States?
Will they end the warmongering so many people think is the domain of the
Republican Party?  Will the people that are truly being hurt in the
economic recession be the ones they help instead of the banks?

I pose these rhetorical questions because so many people expect the answer
to be one that favors the average American and not the plutocracy so
clearly favored during the eight years of Bush.  While it is true that no
one knows exactly how things will develop over the next few years of
Democratic rule, author and activist Lance Selfa has done a fairly good
job of looking at the role the Democrats have historically played in his
book Democrats: A Critical History.  By looking at the history covered by
Selfa, it becomes clear that the Democrats represent different elements of
the same class represented by the GOP.  Consequently, the policies of the
Democratic Party are designed to insure the continued rule of that class.
This is true no matter how many progressives and leftists bring their
principles with them when they work for candidates that appeal to them.
Perhaps the most profound example of this is the 1972 campaign of George
McGovern.

McGovern was probably the most radical candidate to run for president on a
major party ticket in the 20th Century.  Among other items, he called for
an immediate end to the war in Vietnam, a guaranteed annual income for all
Americans, and reproductive choice for women.  He won the series of
primaries and was nominated as the Democratic candidate.  Before he even
gave his acceptance speech, the Democratic leadership was at work
sabotaging his campaign.  The rules committee played around with floor
activities ensuring that his speech would be delivered at 2:00 in the
morning.  News organizations were provided with unfavorable information
regarding his vice presidential nominee's health.  Party conservatives
like Henry "Scoop" Jackson (the first neocon) mounted a campaign within
the party and in the press designed to prevent McGovern from winning.
After the landslide victory of Richard Nixon in November 1972, the party
leadership began implementing rules changes that would forever prevent
someone like McGovern from gaining the nomination.  As Selfa points out,
it's not that McGovern was a radical; it's that the Democratic Party does
not represent the people (who by 1972 wanted out of Vietnam no matter
what), but the corporate class.  Even in 1972, the bulk of big business
were willing to let the war go on as long as they made money from it.

This is a party that began as the party of the landed gentry in the United
Stats' slave holding south.  It held to its racist philosophy into the
1960s, although the process to remove that stain arguably began in 1948
when southern racists like Strom Thurmond left the party over disputes
with the northern members over segregation, especially in the armed
forces.  Today, the general consensus is that that legacy is completely
removed thanks to the nomination and election of Barack Obama.  This is
certainly the case at least superficially.  Underneath the appearance of
post-racialism, however, lies the very real fact of an economic and
political system built on the backs of slaves.  Indeed, if it weren't for
the institution of slavery in the US and the bloody support of that
institution by the Democratic Party, the ubercapitalist nation we live in
today would look considerably different.  While the Republican Party is
the primary party of the capitalists (and were willing to fight a bloody
war against the nation's south to move their wage slavery into that
region), the Democrats have always been a close second.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the realm of foreign policy.  Selfa
reminds the reader that the Democrats were co-authors of the Cold War and
expanded the US involvement in Vietnam to murderous levels.  The Democrats
are arch defenders of the state of Israel, no matter how many Palestinians
it kills and, as the folks who voted Democratic in 2006 hoping to end the
wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, those exercises would not be
possible without the Democrats' support.  It was Woodrow Wilson that
pushed the US into World War One to help bail out the house of Morgan and
it was the Democrats that saw the war against Nazism as a means to put
Washington in a position of dominance after the bombs stopped dropping.

Selfa's history is a concise and erudite look at the place of the
Democratic Party in US history.  The party's stances are examined from a
viewpoint that understands that it's not the Republicans or the Democrats
that are the problem, but the tag team the two parties comprise.  While
this team is in the ring, the people of the US and the world are at a
disadvantage, no matter how personally pleasing one or the other of their
candidates might be.  If people want any kind of change, they must keep
the Democrats on a very tight leash.  The hope that the nation feels must
not cloud its judgement or the need to mobilize to accomplish the goals
they believe they voted for.

Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather
Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill
Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex,
Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is
published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625 [at] charter.net


--------7 of 12--------

Final Piece in Our Economic Collapse
by John Rockefeller
Published on Saturday, January 31, 2009 by the Portland Press Herald
(Maine)

Letting the health care market segment wither by lack of public support
will do no one any good.

Having campaigned on a broadly sketched platform of hope for those on the
fringes of economic and physical viability, President Obama is watching
the ticker line expand to the point where half of the U.S. population
considers itself either underemployed or underserved.

An expanding percentage of this group - 43.6 million by the Centers for
Disease Control's 2006 pre-recession count - are without health care.

This number has certainly burgeoned well beyond the 50 million mark given
the fresh round of layoffs, financial failures and re-budgeting by the
recently unemployed.

My concern, and the concern of many, surrounds the disappearance of
Obama's commitment to health care provision for the uninsured and
underserved members of our population.

We are about to ignore our single functional economic engine - that of
the health care sector - by prioritizing long-dead sectors of finance and
auto manufacturing.

FACING A FISCAL TROUGH

If we fail to rescue health care and public health itself as we move
forward, we will be entering a fiscal trough that may take decades to
rebuild.

Now would be the perfect time to pick the sector with most viability to
fuel our recovery. Later will be far too late.

As we pour countless, and lightly accounted for, billions into bailouts
and tax cuts for those having sufficient income to avail themselves of
such stimulus measures, we are leaving an ever larger proportion of our
country behind, and in the most dire state of need.

Health has been largely commoditized and subjected to profit-focused
market efficiencies for the past quarter century, leaving more and more
Americans behind in the eternal rush to the margin.

As this process unfolded, and despite the loss of millions on the health
care coverage rolls, there were ample dollars to ensure the profitability
of health as a commodity.

This will not be the case moving into the near and distant future. Health
care is, like so much else, heading into its own meltdown, and it will
make the financial collapse of 2008 look like a mere blip on the Bloomberg
screen.

With the U.S. economy claiming more and more members of the middle class
for transition toward the poverty line, we are about to enter a period in
our history defined by a statistical majority in the U.S. population
having little or no access to health care - at a time when health care is
acting as one of the few profit-making sectors in our economy.

With a spiking unemployment rate in the health care sector and a
dilapidated pharmaceutical industry that continues its merger mentality to
control costs no longer borne by a viable financial sector, we are heading
into an uncharted abyss of social disaster.

TURN THE TIDE AROUND

The only way to stem the tide on this decline - and its accompanying
fiscal and public health consequences - is to fund health care as the
fiscal engine it has recently become amidst the financial sector collapse.

Had the health care sector been given half of the recent financial and
auto manufacturing bailout funding, we would have been able to expand and
extend health care coverage.

We would thereby be capturing the remaining stability of this sector as an
engine of economic and public health recovery.

It surprises me that the economists and health care consultants working in
the Obama administration have not taken this opportunity to the bank.

They could have made a difference by diverting meaningless cash dumps from
non-functional industries into the single most viable and necessary
industry in the country.

I am sad to say that the crash of the health care economy will be heard in
a very different way than the crashes that recently preceded it.

It will take our final breath economically, and literally with the
disappearance of greatly diminished health care services to all economic
classes in the United States.

Copyright 2009 by The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram
John Rockefeller of Camden is CEO of a management consulting firm, Zero
Consult Ltd., based in Boston


--------8 of 12--------

New Constitution Passed, Celebrations Hit the Streets
Bolivia Looking Forward
By BENJAMIN DANGL
January 27, 2009
CounterPunch

After Bolivia's new constitution was passed in a national referendum on
Sunday, thousands gathered in La Paz to celebrate. Standing on the balcony
of the presidential palace, President Evo Morales addressed a raucous
crowd: "Here begins a new Bolivia. Here we begin to reach true equality."

Polls conducted by Televisin Boliviana announced that the document passed
with 61.97% support from some 3.8 million voters. According the poll,
36.52% of voters voted against the constitution, and 1.51% cast blank and
null votes. The departments where the constitution passed included La Paz,
Cochabamba, Oruro, Potos, Tarija, and Pando. It was rejected in Santa
Cruz, Beni, and Chuquisaca.

The constitution, which was written in a constituent assembly that first
convened in August of 2006, grants unprecedented rights to Bolivia's
indigenous majority, establishes broader access to basic services,
education and healthcare and expands the role of the state in the
management of natural resources and the economy.

When the news spread throughout La Paz that the constitution had been
passed in the referendum, fireworks, cheers and horns sounded off
sporadically. By 8:30, thousands had already gathered in the Plaza
Murillo. The crowd cheered "Evo! Evo! Evo!" until Morales, Vice President
Alvaro Garcia Linera and other leading figures in the Movement Toward
Socialism (MAS) government, crowded out onto the balcony of the
presidential palace.

"I would like to take this opportunity to recognize all of the brothers
and sisters of Bolivia, all of the compaeros and compaeras, all of the
citizens that through their vote, through their democratic participation,
decide to refound Bolivia," Morales said. "From 2005 to 2009 we have gone
from triumph to triumph, while the neoliberals, the traitors have been
constantly broken down thanks to the consciousness of the Bolivian
people."

He shook his fist in the air, the applause died down. "And I want you to
know something, the colonial state ends here. Internal colonialism and
external colonialism ends here. Sisters and brothers, neoliberalism ends
here too."

At various points in the speech Morales, and others on the balcony, held
up copies of the new constitution. Morales continued, "And now, thanks to
the consciousness of the Bolivian people, the natural resources are
recuperated for life, and no government, no new president can.give our
natural resources away to transnational companies."

A Weakened Right

Though news reports and analysts have suggested that the passage of the
new constitution will exacerbate divisions in the country, some of the
political tension may be directed into the electoral realm as general
elections are now scheduled to take place in December of this year. In
addition, the constitution's passage is another sign of the weakness of
the Bolivian right, and their lack of a clear political agenda and mandate
to confront the MAS's popularity. The recent passage of the constitution
is likely to divide and further debilitate the right.

Even Manfred Reyes Villa, an opponent of Morales and ex-governor of
Cochabamba, told Joshua Partlow of the Washington Post that, "Today, there
is not a serious opposition in the country." When the right-wing led
violence in the department of Pando in September of 2008 left some 20
people dead and many others wounded, the right lost much of its legitimacy
and support. "With Pando, the regional opposition just collapsed," George
Gray Molina, an ex-United Nations official in Bolivia, and a current
research fellow at Oxford University, told Partlow. "I think they lost
authority and legitimacy even among their own grass roots."

Celebrations

Fireworks shot off at the end of Morales' speech in the Plaza Murillo,
sending pigeons flying scared. Live folk music played on stage as the
crowd danced and the TV crews packed up and left. The wind blew around
giant balloon figures of hands the color of the Bolivian flag holding the
new constitution.

As the night wore on, more people began dancing to the bands in the street
than to those on the stage. At midnight, when the police asked the
thousands gathered to leave the plaza, the crowd took off marching down
the street, taking the fiesta to central La Paz, cheering nearly every
Latin American revolutionary cheer, pounding drums and sharing beer. After
marching down a number of blocks on the empty streets, the crowd hunkered
down for a street party at the base of a statue of the Latin American
liberator, Simn Bolvar. The celebration, which included Bolivians,
Argentines, Brazilians, French, British, North Americans and more, went on
into the early hours of the morning.

Oscar Rocababo, a Bolivian sociologist working on his Master's degree in
La Paz, was elated about the victory in the referendum. "The passage of
this constitution is like the cherry on top of the ice cream, the
culmination of many years of struggle."

Benjamin Dangl is the author of "The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and
Social Movements in Bolivia," (AK Press). He is an editor at
UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America,
and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Email
bendangl(at)gmail.com


--------9 of 12--------

How Iceland Fell
A Hundred Days of (Muted) Rage
By Rev. JOS M. TIRADO
January 27, 2009
CounterPunch

Activists of the world can take heart. Yesterday, Morgunbladid, the
largest newspaper in Iceland announced the end of the coalition government
responsible for the huge financial crisis which has rocked this North
Atlantic island to its volcanic core. This event is relevant for a number
of reasons, not least of which is the non-violent resistance which has now
succeeded in forcing the downfall of a government whose leaders have been
copying the American example in banking for years.

Icelanders, beginning shortly after the government intervened and
nationalized the three largest banks upon their collapse, signaled their
displeasure with the government and week after week were demanding that
the entire cabinet step down, en masse. Well, they now have and it is a
victory for democracy lovers everywhere.

Icelanders did it in their own peculiar way, though. While daily reports
of violence in the Greek streets dominated foreign news coverage here, I
sat in bemused fascination as the travails of one single rock was being
debated with the intensity of a grainy JFK assassination video and the
moral indignation of a soul-searching nation stunned at its new-found loss
of conscience. What a contrast! It seems that in mid-December one police
officer had allegedly been scratched by a rock tossed by an angry
protestor. Home videos were scrutinized as to whom might have been the
attacker and talk show hosts wondered aloud at the moral state of the
nation, fearing the direction protests might be turning, and what that
might mean for their people who are not known as a violent sort.

While Iceland has had more than its share of a violent past (can anyone
say, Vikings?) it seems that the insularity and isolation of the country
(and the occasional intervention of its Scandinavian neighbors over the
years) has tempered the Icelandic temperament. This has forced typical
tension releasing into arenas such as skiing, regular gym workouts and,
for the insistent, drunken revelry from Friday to Sunday.

But even the latter rarely descends into more than early morning shouting
matches as displays of violence are rarely countenanced. In fact, in a
recent conversation with Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the
Blade, she asked this writer to consider if Iceland had in fact, made the
remarkable transition from a dominator mode of social relationship to a
partnership mode. I will leave that discussion for another time, but the
results are stunning. In just over three months, Icelanders have stopped
cooperating, withdrawing their support for a coalition government seen as
more concerned with holding onto power than working in the people's
legitimate interests. So the people took to the streets. Tentatively, of
course, and with an Icelanders typical reserve, holding protests in front
of the Parliament building on Saturdays, promptly and peacefully at 3pm.
But the people came together.

While Athens burned into a maelstrom of ungovernable chaos, Icelanders, in
roughly the same time period, politely listened to long speeches and, as
the weeks progressed, increased their venting with the occasional egg toss
and curse word. (One newly coined expression of their frustrated rage was
"Fokking fokk!" laughable perhaps at first listen, but as near a violent
expression as I've heard hear in nearly 7 years). A couple of times small
bonfires were lit and, as reported later, appeared to be evidence of
violence against the Parliament.

No such violence occurred, though. And as the recent tensions came to a
head and the frustration boiled over even more, many protestors took to
wearing orange ribbons signifying their "legitimate" protestor status, as
opposed to the occasional drunken lout eager to fight or create mayhem at
will, something most Icelanders, pro or against the government loathe.
Still the protests continued onward and Icelanders, oblivious to the cold
and rain soldiered on bravely until, last week, on January 20, as the
Parliament resumed meeting, the protests culminated in between 7-8000
people gathering (the US equivalent of 7-8 million). (This was the second
time such a large gathering had happened in the course of this crisis.)

Apparently, the die was cast: within a few days, the Business Minister
resigned and the political blogging hit a fevered pitch, letting the
politicians know their time was up. It has now precipitated the collapse
of the government and the frenzied assembling of a caretaker government to
lead until elections are held in May.

Where this will go in the next few months is uncertain, (the Left-Green
Alliance is certainly to be a major player in the new government) but the
Icelandic example provides powerful instruction that, when a people reject
violence and take up a struggle together, they can still actually win.

Rev. Jos M. Tirado is a poet, priest and writer finishing a PhD in
psychology while living in Iceland.

[Fokking Fokk!  - what a phrase for our demo banners! -ed]


--------10 of 12--------

The Gauntlet Traversed: A Victory Report
by Walter Smolarek
January 29th, 2009
Dissicent Voice

Back in October, I wrote an article titled "Half Way Through the Gauntlet:
A Status Report". It dealt with the latest campaign against the Bolivarian
movement in Latin America which utilized secessionist groups that
participated in the 2006 meeting of the International Confederation for
Regional Freedom and Autonomy (CONFILAR). It also analyzed the battles to
be fought and the battles won: The August 10th recall referendum in
Bolivia, the September 28th constitutional referendum in Ecuador, the
November 23rd regional elections in Venezuela, and the constitutional
referendum in Bolivia. With the success of the new Bolivian constitution
on January 25th, I can happily write the follow-up article; not a status
report, but a celebration of the people;s victory against the most recent
imperialist scheme.

Ecuador

First, to deal with the nation that had first vanquished the
secessionists, Ecuador - Alianza PAIS (Proud and Sovereign Fatherland
Alliance), the ruling party of President Rafael Correa, had lead a
movement against neo-liberalism and for a new, progressive constitution.
After his initial election and two subsequent electoral victories, the
stage was set for the final referendum in late September 2008 to approve
or reject the product of several years of struggle. It would open up new
avenues for reversing the ravages of neo-liberalism and further popular
participation in the administration of state power; a critical step for
the most cautious nation in the Bolivarian camp.

In opposition, including the ever present puritanical voice of the
Catholic Church, were the secessionists in the important province of
Guayas, led by the mayor of Guayaquil (host city of the 2006 CONFILAR
gathering), Jaime Nebot. Thanks to a vibrant array of social movements,
the right-wing opposition was defeated overwhelmingly, with 64% of the
voters favoring the new constitution nationally and 51% in Guayas.

Since this victory, the secessionists have been largely silent. With less
initial support than their Venezuelan and Bolivian counterparts, it seems
that the elites have apparently decided to pursue different tactics to
derail the changes sweeping Ecuador, which may very well include co-opting
Correa's "Citizen's Revolution". New contradictions have risen during the
rule of the transitional regime that holds caretaker power until the April
elections, which has brought the government into conflict with one of the
most important social movements in the nation, the Confederation of
Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE).

The dispute centers over the rights to mine Ecuador's vast natural
resources. The government has signed a deal with a multinational
corporation based in Canada which APAIS argues that it will help the
economy and increase government control, but others are uneasy about the
multinational's presence, with CONAIE in large part against any mining at
all. Several large, militant demonstrations and blockades were held, which
were met by police repression.1 This friction, in addition to disputes
over the minimum wage, is making it very apparent that Correa will soon be
made to choose between yielding to the national bourgeois elements of the
revolution or utilize the new constitution to advance in an explicitly
socialist direction.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, the revolution led by Hugo Chavez is leading the charge
towards the Bolivarian Socialist ideal: a united Latin America whose
future is not contingent on Washington, Wall Street, or their lackeys, but
the will of the people, with whom power exclusively resides. As the
trajectory of Chavez and PSUV (the United Socialist Party of Venezuela)
grew ever more radical in the face of the international crisis facing
capitalism, contradictions reached new heights in the run-up to the
November 2008 regional elections, especially in the state of Zulia, rich
in oil and under the control of CONFILAR-affiliated governor Manual
Rosales (recently replaced by his hand-picked successor Pablo Perez
Alvarez)

Violence perpetrated on behalf of the capitalist class was the defining
facet of the opposition's strategy to build momentum after the Bolivarian
forces were defeated in late 2007. Groups of quasi-political,
petty-bourgeois thugs like the M13 (March 13th Movement) incited violence
as they had been doing so for quite some time, but the anti-democratic
forces went much further. Involving owners of some of the biggest news
outlets in Venezuela and several rightist officers, a coup was planned and
was apparently very close to being executed when it was uncovered on
September 11th of last year. Having closed this especially viscous avenue,
the election proceeded relatively normally (as normal as an election could
considering the sheer quantity of US meddling), and on November 23rd,
there were no major disturbances. The interpretation of the results varies
widely.

First, let's get the facts straight.2 The last time Venezuela had
municipal elections pro-Chavez forces won 21 of 23 governorships. However,
as the socialist orientation of the Bolivarian revolution became more
apparent, several parties showed their true, counter-revolutionary colors
and joined the opposition. When the elections were held, PSUV and its
allies controlled 16 of the governorships; after the election, they
controlled 17. Roughly 60% of votes went for pro-Chavez candidates, which
is the level of support the Bolivarians have consistently received
throughout the course of the revolution. 4 of 5 mayoral elections went in
favor of the PSUV-led Patriotic Alliance.

There are some unnerving aspects of the results. The five elections that
PSUV lost were in some of the most heavily populated states, and therefore
only 57% of Venezuelans have socialist governors. This is especially
troubling as it suggests that the urban proletariat's support for the
revolution is dwindling, for the most part due to the government's
inability to deal with high crime rates. As for Zulia, PSUV was defeated
and Rosales and his allies retained power. However, with the defeat of
secessionism in Bolivia and Ecuador, there has been almost no secessionist
rhetoric, perhaps due to the overall socialist victory in the elections.

The Bolivarian forces experienced a critical success in the municipal
elections. On the other hand, it showed the worrying possibility of
stagnation in revolutionary fervor; the only remedy for which is a
deepening of people's power. Essential to this ongoing struggle is the
leadership of Hugo Chavez, whose absence would create a possibly fatal
power vacuum that could be filled by the "Endogenous Right" (the small but
dangerous national bourgeois tendency within PSUV).

The victory of November 23rd can only be solidified with a victory on
February 15th, the date of the referendum to abolish term limits.

Bolivia

In Bolivia, the greatest battle between the Bolivarians (Evo Morales'
Movement for Socialism, MAS) and the secessionists took place. The
magnitude of this confrontation was greatly exacerbated by the complex
ethnic makeup of the nation, with the largely white Media Luna (Crescent
Moon) region, filled with natural resources, in antagonism with the
densely populated indigenous Andean areas. The first bold political moves
by the mostly white oligarchy took place on May 4th, when a referendum on
autonomy was held in Santa Cruz province, tainted with violence carried
out by the Santa Cruz Youth Union,3 a group of fascist-inspired thugs.
Seeking to strike back and assert the popularity of the leftist central
government, a referendum was called on August 10th which would confirm or
recall the head of state and the prefects of all nine departments in
Bolivia. This turned out to be a stunning success for MAS, with two-thirds
of voters preferring to retain Morales as President and recalling two
secessionist prefects. This set the stage for the civil coup.

Defeated overwhelmingly in an internationally-observed, democratic
referendum, the secessionist capitalists tried to violently overrule the
people. Shutting down daily life, attacking important infrastructure, and
massacring those in their way, a "Civil Coup", as it came to be known,
occurred in early September of last year. The people, well organized by
the nation's robust social movements, were quick to strike back. Backed up
by UNASUR and eventually the Bolivian Army, massive protests threatened to
lay siege to the Media Luna. Giving up some ground in negotiations (mostly
having to do with term limits), the crisis ended and the referendum was
scheduled for January 25th.

The campaign for the referendum was not especially dramatic widely
expected to go in MAS' favor. Most polls showed support at around 65%
percent, and the only real opposition came from the private media, which
launched a disinformation campaign in the tradition of their notoriously
deceptive Venezuelan counterparts.4 In the end, over 61% voted in favor of
the constitution.5

While this was a great victory for the oppressed people of Bolivia, the
results,6 when looked at through a regional and demographical lens, also
revealed some troubling blind spots. The Media Luna largely rejected the
constitution. For example, in Santa Cruz, whose governor is the de facto
leader of the secessionists, "No" won 65-35. It also became clear that MAS
has been so far unable to overcome the contradiction between town and
country and unite workers in both the countryside and the cities. In rural
areas, the constitution was approved by over 80% of the population. This
is important as it will provide a serious hindrance to secession, with the
rural provinces eating away at the otherwise large portion of Bolivia
within the Media Luna. However, only 52% of the urban population voted
"Yes", highlighting the need for MAS to truly become a multi-ethnic
vanguard and reach out to the industrial proletariat that may not be of
indigenous heritage. If it does not, then the mantle of secessionism could
be taken up once again by the oligarchy.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre

The CONFILAR secessionists have, for the most part, been neutralized. This
is by no means the end of the revolutionary road Latin America (and
especially these three nations) has been traveling on; rather, this
victory has simply opened up new avenues. All three nations must take this
opportunity to radicalize: Venezuela needs to break with capitalism on a
fundamental level, Morales must proudly proclaim his socialist beliefs,
and Correa must break out of the constrictive mold of social democracy.
The bold rebellions against neo-liberalism have yet again been
successfully defended, and the people must ceaselessly fight for the
complete annihilation of capitalism and its resulting social ills, the
only way to guarantee sovereignty and democracy.

1 http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1659/1/ [.]

2 http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/3990 [.]

3http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1270/31/ [.]

4 Tinyurl [.]

5 www.cne.org.bo/ResultadosRNC2009/ [.]

6 Tinyurl [.]

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.


--------11 of 12--------

Indefensible Incursions of Empire
The US Garden of Evil
By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE
CounterPunch
January 30

In a recent Arab-language television interview, Barack Obama said:

Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's
best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do
believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path
that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and
security for their people. And that instead, it's time to return to the
negotiating table.

But we have been telling the Israelis and the Palestinians what is best
for them for years now. It's what we do. Our approval of Israel's rampages
against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have stymied peace and
given Israel support to shunt Palestinians into ghettos where they are
deprived of food, water, electricity, and access to health services - in
other words, Palestinians are treated as inhuman with the US stamp of
"Amen. It's little wonder that Palestinian resistance fighters launch an
occasional rocket into Israel.

And, now, exacerbating another complex and un-winnable quagmire, Obama
will send more of our troops into Afghanistan, having learned nothing from
the Soviet example. A New York Times headline put it this way: "Aides Say
Obama's Afghan Aims Elevate War".

Elevate means to exalt or raise to a higher spiritual level. Certainly,
the words "war" and "elevate" are incongruous.

When intelligence, often faulty, locates al Qaeda in an Afghan house or
village, our military levels the particular site, frequently killing more
civilians, including children, than enemy fighters. This isn't just sowing
seeds of hatred; it's fertilizing and tending the garden of evil. We have
lost the support of the people of Afghanistan just as we have lost the
support of the Iraqis.

War does not elevate. It devalues human life - our own and the people
whose lives are forever scarred by our aerial assaults and weapons of mass
destruction, if they survive the devastation.

Surely, our leadership should know this. But, instead of committing to
peace, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are escalating war. Remember, it was Joe
who said you don't have to be Jewish to be a Zionist, words that transport
more than a whiff of white phosphorous, words that threaten the very
existence of Palestinians, words translating that Obama's power ascendancy
will mean squalor and a system of apartheid to the people driven from
their land by the Israeli government, a government gifted so generously
with our tax dollars.

Before Joe Biden took his oath as VP, he traveled to Afghanistan to scold
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for being unhelpful to US goals. The
puppet Karzai walks a tightrope, trying to balance his act: "Make my
people happy or make America happy" is the dilemma that has to be
streaming constantly through his mind. Sort of like the lesson Jill Biden
must be pounding into Joe's head each morning as he leaves Number 1
Observatory Circle: "Remember, you are the vice president, not the
president".

And as Obama asserts himself as the new toughie who can direct the rise
and fall of countries, he would do well to remember his message on Arab
television: Palestinians and Israelis should "realize that the path that
they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security
for their people".

Neither is the path we are on - a surge of troops to Afghanistan, missile
strikes in Pakistan, all-options-are-open threats to Iran, and excuses and
support for Israel's war crimes against the people of Palestine. And on
Iraq, there's Obama"s Catch 22: "Do I listen to the generals or to the
people who elected me?"

The new president seems to dislike the rallying cry, "war on terror". But
his choice of neocon advisers and menacing rhetoric indicate we may soon
have a new slogan, the "occupation on terror", for our continued shameful
and indefensible incursions for empire.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public
Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush
Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families
for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her
nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she
has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:
Missybeat [at] aol.com


--------12 of 12--------

 Fokking Fokk! say prim
 Iceland mokk-rakers. No more
 rule that sokking sokks!


 [See article #9 for explanation]


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