|Progressive Calendar 02.27.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 23:44:05 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.27.09 1. RNC8 court 2.27 9:30/10:30am 2. Vote/ex-offenders 2.27 10am 3. Rachel Nelson 2.27 7pm 4. Pakistan 2.27 7pm 5. Moyers/bailout 2.27 9pm 6. Peace walk 2.28 9am Cambridge MN 7. WAMM annual 2.28 10am 8. Single payer 2.28 10am 9. Cam house party 2.28 12noon 10. Cat killers 2.28 1pm 11. Northtown vigil 2.28 2pm 12. Unions/Haiti 2.28 3pm 13. Earth hour 2.28 8:30pm 14. Civil lib/CTV 2.28 9pm 15. Martha Rosenberg - Got pain? Suicide-linked Cymbalta may be for you 16. Collins/Pizzigati - Obama is right to take on the very rich 17. Khaled Amayreh - Amnesty's scandalous obliquity 18. PC Roberts - How the economy was lost --------1 of 18-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: RNC8 court 2.27 9:30/10:30am Because of the new judge, we have separate hearing this time around. We still hope folks can make it to any or all of our dates. This will be our first appearance in front of the new judge, and it is important to show that we have support! All hearings are at the Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul, courtrooms TBA (you can always check the TV screens on the ground floor for courtroom assignments). Luce Guillen-Givens: Friday, February 27, 9:30am Eryn Trimmer: Friday, February 27, 10:30am Erik Oseland: Monday, March 2, 9:00am Rob Czernik: Tuesday, March 3, 9:00am Nathanael Secor: Tuesday, March 3, 10:00am Garrett Fitzgerald: Tuesday, March 3, 1:30pm --------2 of 18-------- From: Sarah Walker <SarahW [at] 180degrees.org> Subject: Vote/ex-offenders 2.27 10am We just learned that there will be a hearing this Friday, Feb. 27 at 10:00 in Capitol room 123 on legislation to restore voting rights for people with a felony conviction as soon as they are out of prison, and to make sure people are notified when they are eligible to vote after serving a sentence. Two bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate on voting rights for ex-offenders, and this hearing is the first step in moving them toward passing. We need the hearing room full of people who are affected by and concerned about this issue to push legislators to move the bills on to the next step. This is a great opportunity for us to show the many barriers people face in trying to reenter the community and highlight our belief that all people have dignity and deserve second chances. Please join us and invite others. We are hoping to have 100 people at the hearing. Will you be one? Thanks for your work to deal with issues in the criminal justice system and ensure respect for all members of our community. Please let me know if you have questions or if I can plan to see you Friday. Sarah Walker Chief Operating Officer 180 Degrees, Inc. 236 Clifton Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55403-3466 sarahw [at] 180degrees.org 612.813.5017 office 612.220.2070 cell 612.813.5039 fax --------3 of 18-------- From: Rachel Nelson <bardlive [at] usfamily.net> Subject: Rachel Nelson 2.27 7pm I'm coming back to the Twin Cities from Two Harbors to do my theater piece After Leaving Eden at the Spirit in the House Festival, Feb. 27-March 8. I hope you can come! After Leaving Eden is theater, story, music, movement, and visual image--all bringing you--the Politico, a folkie, the returning vet, a woman who's lost her voice . . . and one uncertain girl who finds the courage to act. Find show pictures and more info at www.bardlive.com "intense and provocative" - Andre Heuer Friday, Feb. 27 at 7:00 pm Saturday, Feb 28, 5:30 pm Thursday, Mar 5, 8:30 pm Saturday, Mar 7 7:00 pm Sunday, Mar 8 2:30 pm All shows are at the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403. Free parking is available in the church lot. Advance and Group rate Tickets available at Uptown Tix, 651-209-6799, www.uptowntix.com. Good deal punch cards available at the door. For more information about Spirit in the House Festival, performances, films, and workshops, see http://spiritinthehouse.org The Spirit in the House Festival is an annual 10-day event exploring questions of spirituality, interfaith dialogue, ethics and social justice through theater, film, music, dance and storytelling. Rachel Nelson www.bardlive.com bardlive [at] usfamily.net 651-353-3370 --------4 of 18-------- From: "Murphy, Cathy" <CMurphy [at] analysts.com> Subject: Pakistan 2.27 7pm An International Peacemaker from Pakistan will be visiting the Twin Cities from Feb 25 - Mar 1. Maqsood Kamil is a Presbyterian minister and a professor at Gujranwala Theological Seminary in Pakistan. He will talk about the current situation and answer questions at several events in the Twin Cities: February 27, 7pm, dessert and discussion Macalester Plymouth United Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln Ave St Paul, MN 55105 651-698-8871 March 1, 9am, adult education. Peace Presbyterian Church 7624 Cedar Lake Rd S St Louis Park, MN 55426 (952) 545-2586 March 1, 11:00am, presentation and discussion Islamic Center of Minnesota 1401 Gardenia Ave NE Fridley , MN 55432 (763) 571-5604 For further details/updates: http://www.ptcaweb.org/COMM/peaceandjustice.html Cathy Murphy (612) 799-0595 Sponsored by the Justice & Peace Task Force of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities --------5 of 18--------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: Moyers/bailout 2.27 9pm Bill Moyers Journal | Behind the Bank Bailout http://www.truthout.org/022509U Bill Moyers Journal: "Who wins and who loses in the economic stimulus package? Bill Moyers talks with economist Robert Johnson, who decodes this week's news on the bank bailout, with a hard look at the international ramifications of the plan and a discussion of why nationalization has become a flash point." --------6 of 18-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 2.28 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------7 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: WAMM annual 2.28 10am WAMM's 2009 Annual Meeting: "Social Change We Can Believe In!" Saturday, February 28, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, Hospitality Hall, 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. Good Music! Good Program! Good Brunch! WAMM Action! Meet old friends. Make new friends. WAMM members Wanda Brown and Phyllis Goldin sing the annual report. WAMM member, Coleen Rowley speaks on "What Can We Expect to See in Our Civil Liberties and Foreign Policy Under Obama?" Musical selections by the singing peace women. Introduction of WAMM committees. Become change makers. Win raffle prizes. Bring a book for the book sale with a comment enclosed. Get a WAMM t-shirt or visor. Bring your spare change to make real change. FFI: Call WAMM, 612-827-5364. --------8 of 18-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Single payer 2.28 10am The Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition is hosting "Mobilize for the Minnesota Health Plan." The MN Health Plan is a single-payer health plan that would cover all MN residents. The training will cover: an overview of the bill, how to effectively lobby, the legislative process, frequently asked questions, dispelling myths, and a training on effective organizing. The training will be held at the Brookdale Library from 10:00 AM - 3:30 PM. Click here for more information. --------9 of 18-------- From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at] msn.com> Subject: Cam house party 2.28 12noon You are invited you to a House party this Saturday hosted by Sheldon Mains and Laura Waterman Wittstock in support of the re-election of Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon. Saturday, February 28, Noon-2pm At the home of Sheldon & Beverly 2718 24th St E, Minneapolis Please RSVP to Sheldon at smains [at] visi.com "Cam is providing strong, progressive representation for the Second Ward. Come learn more about Cam's accomplishments and priorities, and share your hopes and concerns. Light fare will be provided. RSVPs requested but not required." For more info. camgordon.org Prepared and paid for by Neighbors for Cam Gordon.Arthur LaRue, Treasurer, 630 Cedar Ave S #1106, Minneapolis, MN 55454 --------10 of 18-------- From: Ellen Weinstock <ellenweinstock [at] comcast.net> Subject: Cat killers 2.28 1pm You've probably heard about the Animal Humane Society's recent "rescue" of 130 cats in St. Anthony, Minnesota. This was a case of a couple hoarding a ridiculous number of cats in a small trailer. However, pictures released by the AHS show cats who appeared to be pretty well socialized and well fed. Various people who have been involved in seizures of hoarders' cats say these were in better shape than they expected. The AHS invited all the media to come see the cats in their cages at the Golden Valley site. Their press person said they would spend 2-3 weeks evaluating the cats for illness and socialization. The AHS later admitted that they killed them within 48 hours. Every single one. As people and organizations from all over started contacting them to offer help, they were already busy killing cats. They say now it was a public health issue, but have not explained: 1) why the timeline was changed; 2) whether they actually tested cats for illness; and 3) if the cats were so critically ill, why they even brought them to the shelter. (Hint: the Star Tribune article didn't ask people to volunteer, but did ask for money.) This Saturday, 2/28, we will be protesting at the Humane Socy in Golden Valley - 1 p.m. to 2 or 2:30 (depending on how cold!) at Highway 55 and Meadow Lane North. Please join us and wear thermal underwear & bring signs! It is one exit west of Theodore Wirth Parkway. There are several parking lots nearby. Note that this protest is not sponsored by any organization, but just an ad-hoc group of extremely pissed off citizens! Can't make it? Can make it & want to be even more helpful? Here is a link for more information & a list of contacts for AHS board members. Please ask them to investigate thoroughly and make necessary personnel changes. (That would be a polite way of saying that they need to fire CEO Janelle Dixon, who has presided comfortably over the deaths of tens of thousands of animals, first at the St. Paul shelter & then at the head of the 5-shelter AHS system.) Feel free to share this with anyone interested. If anyone outside the area has a moment to write a few board members, it would be very helpful. Let them know there are people watching everywhere. Thanks so much! Ellen Weinstock St. Paul, MN More info: http://animalarkshelter.org/animal/ArkArticles.nsf/EmailArticle/58760A421FF6284386257560005A2E8F You can contact the following board members c/o Animal Humane Society, 845 Meadow Lane N., Golden Valley, MN 55422. (763) 522-4325 You may also wish to contact the Humane Society's sponsors. All of them have links here: http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/aboutus/sponsors --------11 of 18-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 2.28 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------12 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Unions/Haiti 2.28 3pm The Union Movement in Haiti: 5th Anniversary of the Coup Saturday, February 28, 3:00 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue (below the Hub Bike Co-Op), Minneapolis. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In 2004 the United States (supported by France and Canada) staged a coup against Haiti's elected government. Haitian workers confront the most vicious face of capitalism in the fields, sweatshops, and slums across the country. In the Spring of 2008 the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union sent a delegation to Haiti to meet with and support unions and workers organizations there, including the Confederation des Travailleurs Haïtiens (CTH). On the 5th anniversary of the coup, come to a meeting on the historical background, and current situation of workers in Haiti. Video: "Haiti's Tourniquet" (20 min), interviews with CTH activists (IWW International Solidarity Commission) Speakers include Ruben Joanen, Haiti Justice Committee and IWW organizers. Sponsored by: the Haiti Justice Committee and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Twin Cities General Membership Branch. WAMM is a member of the Haiti Justice Committee. FFI: Call 612-339-1266. --------13 of 18-------- Earth Hour 2.28 8:30pm 2009, United States Raging Grannie (Wanda B) wrote: http://www.earthhourus.org/main.php?enews=enews0902t2 On March 28, 2009 at 8:30 p.m., local time, World Wildlife Fund is asking individuals, businesses, governments and organizations around the world to turn off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour - to make a global statement of concern about climate change and to demonstrate their commitment to finding solutions. Turn out. Take action. <http://www.earthhourus.org/around_world.php>Be part of this historic event. This is a great idea to raise awareness, create good habits, and enable us to see the stars. However, I don't know why it isn't done much more than once a year - how about once a week? I also wonder why buildings don't use sensors instead of leaving lights on all the time. And how about unplugging lights and appliances when not in use, particularly those with stand-by black boxes. Saves on the electricity bill too. In Sydney, Australia, Earth Hour 2007 saw energy consumption fall by 10.2 percent - more than double the amount that organisers had hoped for, saving some 24.86 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. WWF Australia says that if the greenhouse gas reduction achieved during last year's Earth Hour was sustained for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking 48,616 cars of the road for the same length of time. (http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41767) I have not seen statistics like this gathered by any other city that has participated in the annual Earth Hours, but it would be most useful if that information was gathered and publicized. I sincerely hope everyone will urge their city or town and everyone they know to participate in this event. Write all levels of govt., send letters to the editor.... --------14 of 18-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Civil liberties/CTV 2.28 9pm Perceptive 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, 2/28, 9pm and Tues, 3/3, 8am The Green Scare: Civil Liberties Post-9/11 What is the Green Scare? Most everyone has heard of the Red Scare. In a talk given at the U of M, award-winning independent journalist Will Potter makes the case that animal rights and environmental (green) activists are the most recent targets of government repression via new "anti-terrorism" laws. Potter is an authority on the use of these new laws to silence political activists post-9/11. Potter's writing on the topic was recognized by Project Censored as one of the top twenty censored stories of 2008. Part 1 of 2. --------15 of 18-------- Got Pain? Suicide-Linked Cymbalta May Be Right for You by Martha Rosenberg February 21st, 2009 Dissident Voice Many are outraged that Eli Lilly gave nonprofits $3.9 million in grants last year for medical courses to "educate" doctors about the pain-and-fatigue ailment fibromyalgia - more than it spent for diabetes and Alzheimer's which people already know they have. But finding new diseases to justify a drug's existence is the normal way pharma operates. Especially Lilly who agreed to pay $1.42 billion for illegal marketing of its anti-psychotic Zyprexa last month.$615 million for criminally promoting it for dementiaanother - $62 million to 32 states for illegal pediatric marketing and agreed to resolve Medicaid fraud investigations into "rebates" at the same time. (And how was your year?) And whose diabetes treatment Byetta is tanking since reports last summer of six deaths, at least two from pancreatitis. But Lilly's fibromyalgia-fighting drug, Cymbalta (duloxetine) - its second best seller after Zyprexais - anything but normal. Starting with the death of 19-year-old Cymbalta test subject Traci Johnson in 2004 - who hanged herself in the Lilly Clinic in Indianapolis and had no history of mental problemsit - has been beset by reports of baffling, rapid, unprovoked, and out of character suicides. A 37-year-old man described in the Feb. 2008 Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology with a stable marriage and employment and no history of mental problems tried to kill himself with carbon monoxide two months after taking Cymbalta for back pain. "The patient was unable to state exactly why he wanted to commit suicide," write the four physician authors all with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center who note he returned to normal when the drug was stopped. A 63-year-old man with no history of suicide attempts or ideation was similarly "unable to explain why he was having thoughts of wanting to die," say the authors after becoming suicidal two weeks after being put on Cymbalta for fatigue, insomnia and sadness. Last January, a Texas man prescribed Cymbalta for peripheral neuropathy because of a job that required him to be on his feet all day with no history mental problems "had a normal day at work, drove home, said he was going to grab a sandwich to his wife, and went and shot himself," his family wrote a reporter. In Feb. 2007, a 19-year-old Wisconsin college student recently put on Cymbalta "checked out books for a paper he was to write over the weekend," emailed his resume "to see if he could get a spot on Obama's team for the summer" and "then hung himself from his loft bed in his dorm," writes his family. One month earlier, a 21-year old Midwest college student, recently put on Cymbalta, took his own life three minutes after speaking to his family while driving home and sounding fine, the family wrote a reporter. Nor are incomprehensible and abrupt suicide attempts on Cymbalta a US phenomenon. Bilal Salem and Elie Karam of the Saint George Hospital University Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon write of similar "suicidality in apparently nonsuicidal patients after starting or increasing Duloxetine," in the June 2008 Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health. Approved as an antidepressant and for diabetic nerve pain in 2004 - soon after the Johnson suicide thanks to an unfazed FDA - Cymbalta soon proved to be the "Swiss Army Knife" of Lilly drugs says its hometown paper the Indianapolis Star - approved for general anxiety disorder and maintenance treatment of depression in 2007, for fibromyalgia in 2008 and with approvals for chronic knee and low back pain expected shortly. In Europe it is in use for stress urinary incontinence but in the US its side effect of urinary retention landed Cymbalta on the FDA's first Potential Signals of Serious Risks danger list in 2008. (FDA won't release suicidal rates from stress urinary incontinence trials says reporter Jeanne Lenzer on Slate, who estimates them as 400 per 100,000 person-years for middle aged women.) But some, like Shannon Brownlee, author of Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, question the revenue-driven prescribothan. Should drugs "that may have a really serious side effect called suicide," be used for simple knee or back pain, she asks in the Star. No kidding! Cymbalta is also being studied for binge eating, social phobia, chronic fatigue, restless legs disorder, seasonal affective disorder, migraines, attention deficit disorder and childhood depressiondespite - known pediatric risks - PMS, menopause, alcoholism, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, kleptomania and the important medical condition: tennis elbow. At the American Academy of Pain Medicine Annual Meeting in January, Lilly presented a study by its own doctors finding Cymbalta was superior to placebo in knee painin - keeping with its penchant to publish studies by Lilly funded and Lilly employed doctors saying Cymbalta is safe. Cymbalta is also a good use of state and third party payer dollars say Lilly funded doctors in "Differences In Medication Adherence and Healthcare Resource Utilization Patterns: Older Versus Newer Antidepressant Agents In Patients With Depression And/Or Anxiety Disorders" in the 2008-22 CNS Drugs who are fighting the "restrictive reimbursement policies for newer antidepressants," in which pharmacy benefits managers are saying you want us to spend WHAT? Getting benefits managers to cover the $200 a month cost for Cymbalta prescriptions for fibromyaglia may also be tough since the ailment has no clear cause, blood test or cure. Maybe Lilly will offer pointers in the medical courses it is funding. Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. She can be reached at: martharosenberg [at] sbcglobal.net. [And there are LOTS of ads for Cymbalta on TV. How else are Lilly CEO's going to afford longer yachts than the other pharma CEOs? Nothing beats strutting on the deck of your longer yacht as you shame the poor bastards in shorter yachts! So a bunch of (probably worthless or surplus) people die or are deformed for life - hey, that's the American Way! - so screw 'em! -ed] --------16 of 18-------- Obama Is Right to Take on the Very Rich They're paying far less of their incomes in taxes than average Americans. by Chuck Collins and Sam Pizzigati Published on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 by the Christian Science Monitor Common Dreams We've seen, in recent weeks, an outpouring of public outrage over the mega millions that keep flowing - despite the escalating economic meltdown - into the pockets of America's top bankers and corporate executives. "I'm angry," Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri told her Senate colleagues late last month, as she introduced a bill to cap pay for bailed-out CEOs at $400,000 a year. "Wall Street [is] kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer." "I will not tolerate it," President Obama added a few days later, as he announced a $500,000 executive pay cap at firms getting substantial bailout dollars. The amount of money that goes into executive pockets is staggering. So is the amount that comes out of those pockets in taxes: precious little. America's super-rich are paying far less of their incomes in taxes than average Americans who punch time clocks. This is grossly unfair. The good news: Under Mr. Obama's new plan to cut the deficit in half, the very richest Americans will start paying something closer to their fair tax share. It's been a while since they've done that. As recent IRS data show, these elites are paying less in taxes - much less - than their deep-pocket counterparts used to pay. In 2006, the 400 highest-income Americans together reported $105 billion in income, an average of $263 million each. Having trouble visualizing that? To pocket $263 million a year, you would have to take home over $60,000 an hour - and work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for an entire 12 months. Sounds tiring, doesn't it? But most of the top 400 make their fortunes buying and selling assets, everything from stocks and bonds to the exotic paper that helped inflate the housing bubble. Uncle Sam taxes income from those assets - whether that income be capital gains or dividends - at a much lower rate than income from work. The current top tax rate on "ordinary" work income sits at 35 percent. But dividends and capital gains from the buying and selling of most assets face only a 15 percent top rate. That's why in 2006, America's top 400 paid just 17.2 percent of their $263 million average incomes in federal tax. Millions of middle-class American families, once you tally income and payroll taxes, pay far more of their incomes in tax. One particularly striking example from billionaire investor Warren Buffett: In 2006, he paid 17.7 percent of his income in total taxes. His secretary, who made $60,000, paid 30 percent of hers. How did we end up with this sorry state of affairs? Lawmakers in Congress have spent the past several decades systematically slicing the tax rates on America's top income brackets. Their rationale? Lower taxes on the top, free up capital for investment, and boost productivity. In actual economic practice, those lower taxes have served instead to fuel speculation and increase budget deficits. For the ultrarich themselves, the tax savings have been nothing short of breathtaking. Back in 1955, America's top 400 paid more than 50 percent of their incomes in federal tax, almost triple the rate of today's top 400. We can fix this. Obama just announced his plan to end the Bush administration's high-income tax cuts. This is an important step. We can insist, also, that lawmakers end the preferential treatment of dividends and capital gains. And we can raise the tax rate that kicks in when taxpayers start collecting more than $10 million and $20 million a year. Steps like these would help get our future in order. But what about the past - and all those windfalls the super-rich have been pocketing as our economy veered into the ditch? Are we going to have to watch these billions multiply, generation after generation, into a new American aristocracy of wealth? Not if we save the estate tax, the only federal levy on grand accumulations of private wealth. The rich and their retainers have been trying to repeal the estate tax for 20 years now. They haven't succeeded, but they have slashed the tax rate on the fortunes the ultrawealthy leave their heirs. Congress is about to begin debating legislation that would freeze the estate tax at the current bargain-basement rate set by President Bush. We can't let that happen. More than ever, America needs its ultrarich to chip in more. Copyright 2009 The Christian Science Monitor Chuck Collins directs the program on inequality and the common good at the Institute for Policy Studies. Sam Pizzigati, an Institute associate fellow, edits Too Much, on online weekly on excess and inequality. They are coauthors of the annual Institute for Policy Studies "Executive Excess" report on CEO pay. --------17 of 18-------- Amnesty's Scandalous Obliquity by Khaled Amayreh February 24th, 2009 Dissident Voice In an apparent effort to sound "balanced" and "unbiased," the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International (AI), has urged the international community to halt arms sales to the Israeli apartheid regime and the Palestinian Islamic liberation movement, Hamas. A report issued by the group on Sunday, 22 February, pointed out that arms supplied to "the two sides" were used in attacks on civilians and civilian objects - which constituted war crimes. Nonetheless, a careful examination of the report shows a clear propensity on the part of AI to create a false symmetry between Hamas, a small liberation movement resisting a decades-old Nazi-like foreign military occupation, and Israel, a manifestly criminal state armed to the teeth, which has been committing every conceivable crime under the sun for the purpose of maintaining its colonialist occupation and brutal domination over the Palestinian people. Palestinians incinerated to death by Israeli White Phosphorous bombs To be sure, no one claims that Hamas is completely blameless. Targeting innocent civilians is unacceptable. However, equating the resistance of a long-persecuted people languishing under an evil military occupation, even if wrongs are done, with an immensely superior state terror unjustifiably perpetrated by an occupying power is morally unconscionable, to say the very least. Indeed, doing so would be analogous to equating European resistance to the attacking Nazi armies during the Second World War, with the Nazi aggression itself. Well, with all due respect to AI and its efforts to safeguard and defend human rights, there is no legal or moral equation between a rape victim's right to defend herself against her attacker and the criminal act initiated by the rapist. I am using this analogy because the enduring Israeli oppression meted out to the Palestinian people is an enduring act of rape. Yes, firing home-made and other comparatively primitive projectiles on Israeli civilians is a regrettable act. However, the firing of these projectiles, which killed a few Israelis in ten years of hostilities (virtually one Israeli per year), can't be compared with the nearly complete annihilation of Gaza's civilian infrastructure and wholesale murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children. The excessive, disproportionate and often pornographic use of deadly violence against an essentially imprisoned and unprotected civilian population is more than just a mere miscalculation or faulty reasoning. It is rather a deliberate war crime the perpetrators of which are vile war criminals who ought to be prosecuted and punished for their crimes. More to the point, it is imperative that one gives context if one is truly interested in producing an honest and objective analysis of the recent outrage in Gaza. Hence, one must be honest enough to remember that Israel had been forcing the 1.5 million Gazans to choose between dying quietly by succumbing to a genocidal hermetic siege that pushed most of the region's inhabitants to the brink of a silent holocaust, or fighting back, using whatever primitive and extremely limited means at their disposal. I strongly believe it is absurd and ludicrous, if not outright malicious, to compare Hamas with Israel as far as the use of violence is concerned. Hamas is a small movement of persecuted Palestinians who have been on the receiving end of Israeli persecution and repression. Hamas poses no real or strategic threat to Israel, a military superpower which also, to a large extent, controls American politics and policies. In its recent genocidal onslaught on Gaza, Israel used the deadliest weapons of death, including F-16 warplanes, apache helicopters, Merkava tanks, heavy artillery, depleted uranium, chemical agents that eat through the human flesh and eventually cause death, white phosphorus, dart shells and a variety of other lethal weapons. On the other hand, Hamas used notoriously primitive weapons, mainly to deter Israel from carrying out a genocide on a wider scale. During that blitz, Israel knowingly and deliberately targeted civilian neighborhoods, apartment buildings, private homes, mosques, college dorms, university buildings, UN-run schools, grocery stores and businesses. It was a no-holds-barred rampage of murder and terror against an imprisoned and thoroughly starved civilian population. As a result, as many as 7,000 Palestinians were murdered, or maimed and injured, many with life-long deformities. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of other Gazans suffered long-lasting psychological trauma. On the Israeli side, we are talking about a dozen Israeli fatalities, some of whom killed or injured by "friendly fire". So, we are dealing with an extremely lopsided situation where the death ratio is nearly 1:100. Needless to say, one doesn't have to be a great military expert to realize that this is not really a war; it is rather a huge massacre. This is why, AI is called upon to call the spade a spade and refrain from hiding behind technical jargons that not only fail to communicate the facts about what really happened in Gaza but also give a false impression of symmetry in guilt between Israel and Hamas. More to the point, it is important to remember that Israel didn't impose the draconian blockade of Gaza as retaliation for the largely innocuous firing of projectiles onto Israel. The criminal blockade was imposed, first and foremost, as a cruel punishment of Palestinians for electing a political party that Israel didn't like. Hence, the imposition of the siege, which is continuing unabated, is per se a war crime or a crime against humanity. The world betrayed them, the Arab world stood silent, with some Arab regimes even colluding with Israel to perfect the siege in the hope that Gazans would turn against Hamas and bring it down. And the hypocritical West had the audacity to blame the victims while babbling, as usual, about Israel's right to defend itself. This happened while an entire people was being imprisoned, starved, tormented and quietly exterminated, mainly for political reasons pertaining to Israeli territorial aggrandizement. In short, it was the Nazi-like Israeli savaging of the Palestinians that made Palestinian resistance inevitable. The Palestinians, long tormented by this cruel occupation, have every legal and moral right to resist, using whatever means available to them. Indeed, instead of blaming the victims for resisting their oppressors, the world, including AI, ought to tell Israel that it can't just incarcerate 1.5 million civilians within the confines of an open-air prison, surrounded by barbed wire, watchtowers, tanks, landmines, and other state-of-the-art machines of death, and then expect the victims to display love and understanding toward their tormentors and oppressors. Israel did transform the Gaza Strip into a real concentration camp, by denying the prisoner population access to fuel, electricity, food, medicine, medical care, and basic consumer products. Meanwhile, the Israeli death machine never stopped murdering innocent Palestinians, nearly on a daily basis. It is essential that AI and other human rights groups take these facts into account when dealing with the situation in Gaza. Failing to do so, by cowering before Israeli pressure, would further corrode AI image as the world's premier human rights organization. Khalid Amayreh is a journalist living in Palestine. --------18 of 18-------- Doomed by the Myths of Free Trade How the Economy was Lost By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS February 24, 2009 CounterPunch The American economy has gone away. It is not coming back until free trade myths are buried six feet under. America's 20th century economic success was based on two things. Free trade was not one of them. America's economic success was based on protectionism, which was ensured by the union victory in the Civil War, and on British indebtedness, which destroyed the British pound as world reserve currency. Following World War II, the US dollar took the role as reserve currency, a privilege that allows the US to pay its international bills in its own currency. World War II and socialism together ensured that the US economy dominated the world at the mid 20th century. The economies of the rest of the world had been destroyed by war or were stifled by socialism [in terms of the priorities of the capitalist growth model. Editors.] The ascendant position of the US economy caused the US government to be relaxed about giving away American industries, such as textiles, as bribes to other countries for cooperating with America's cold war and foreign policies. For example, Turkey's US textile quotas were increased in exchange for over-flight rights in the Gulf War, making lost US textile jobs an off-budget war expense. In contrast, countries such as Japan and Germany used industrial policy to plot their comebacks. By the late 1970s, Japanese auto makers had the once dominant American auto industry on the ropes. The first economic act of the "free market" Reagan administration in 1981 was to put quotas on the import of Japanese cars in order to protect Detroit and the United Auto Workers. Eamonn Fingleton, Pat Choate, and others have described how negligence in Washington DC aided and abetted the erosion of America's economic position. What we didn't give away, the United States let be taken away while preaching a "free trade" doctrine at which the rest of the world scoffed. Fortunately, the U.S.'s adversaries at the time, the Soviet Union and China, had unworkable economic systems that posed no threat to America's diminishing economic prowess. This furlough from reality ended when Soviet, Chinese, and Indian socialism surrendered around 1990, to be followed shortly thereafter by the rise of the high speed Internet. Suddenly, American and other first world corporations discovered that a massive supply of foreign labor was available at practically free wages. To get Wall Street analysts and shareholder advocacy groups off their backs, and to boost shareholder returns and management bonuses, American corporations began moving their production for American markets offshore. Products that were made in Peoria are now made in China. As offshoring spread, American cities and states lost tax base, and families and communities lost jobs. The replacement jobs, such as selling the offshored products at Wal-Mart, brought home less pay. "Free market economists" covered up the damage done to the US economy by preaching a New Economy based on services and innovation. But it wasn't long before corporations discovered that the high speed Internet let them offshore a wide range of professional service jobs. In America, the hardest hit have been software engineers and information technology (IT) workers. The American corporations quickly learned that by declaring "shortages" of skilled Americans, they could get from Congress H-1b work visas for lower paid foreigners with whom to replace their American work force. Many US corporations are known for forcing their US employees to train their foreign replacements in exchange for severance pay. Chasing after shareholder return and "performance bonuses," US corporations deserted their American workforce. The consequences can be seen everywhere. The loss of tax base has threatened the municipal bonds of cities and states and reduced the wealth of individuals who purchased the bonds. The lost jobs with good pay resulted in the expansion of consumer debt in order to maintain consumption. As the offshored goods and services are brought back to America to sell, the US trade deficit has exploded to unimaginable heights, calling into question the US dollar as reserve currency and America's ability to finance its trade deficit. As the American economy eroded away bit by bit, "free market" ideologues produced endless reassurances that America had pulled a fast one on China, sending China dirty and grimy manufacturing jobs. Free of these "old economy" jobs, Americans were lulled with promises of riches. In place of dirty fingernails, American efforts would flow into innovation and entrepreneurship. In the meantime, the "service economy" of software and communications would provide a leg up for the work force. Education was the answer to all challenges. This appeased the academics, and they produced no studies that would contradict the propaganda and, thus, curtail the flow of federal government and corporate grants. The "free market" economists, who provided the propaganda and disinformation to hide the act of destroying the US economy, were well paid. And as Business Week noted, "outsourcing's inner circle has deep roots in GE (General Electric) and McKinsey," a consulting firm. Indeed, one of McKinsey's main apologists for offshoring of US jobs, Diana Farrell, is now a member of Obama's White House National Economic Council. The pressure of jobs offshoring, together with vast imports, has destroyed the economic prospects for all Americans, except the CEOs who receive "performance" bonuses for moving American jobs offshore or giving them to H-1b work visa holders. Lowly paid offshored employees, together with H-1b visas, have curtailed employment for older and more experienced American workers. Older workers traditionally receive higher pay. However, when the determining factor is minimizing labor costs for the sake of shareholder returns and management bonuses, older workers are unaffordable. Doing a good job, providing a good service, is no longer the corporation's function. Instead, the goal is to minimize labor costs at all cost. Thus, "free trade" has also destroyed the employment prospects of older workers. Forced out of their careers, they seek employment as shelf stockers for Wal-Mart. I have read endless tributes to Wal-Mart from "libertarian economists," who sing Wal-Mart's praises for bringing low price goods, 70 per cent of which are made in China, to the American consumer. What these "economists" do not factor into their analysis is the diminution of American family incomes and government tax base from the loss of the goods producing jobs to China. Ladders of upward mobility are being dismantled by offshoring, while California issues IOUs to pay its bills. The shift of production offshore reduces US GDP. When the goods and services are brought back to America to be sold, they increase the trade deficit. As the trade deficit is financed by foreigners acquiring ownership of US assets, this means that profits, dividends, capital gains, interest, rents, and tolls leave American pockets for foreign ones. The demise of Americas productive economy left the US economy dependent on finance, in which the US remained dominant because the dollar is the reserve currency. With the departure of factories, finance went in new directions. Mortgages, which were once held in the portfolios of the issuer, were securitized. Individual mortgage debts were combined into a "security". The next step was to strip out the interest payments to the mortgages and sell them as derivatives, thus creating a third debt instrument based on the original mortgages. In pursuit of ever more profits, financial institutions began betting on the success and failure of various debt instruments and by implication on firms. They bought and sold collateral debt swaps. A buyer pays a premium to a seller for a swap to guarantee an asset's value. If an asset "insured" by a swap falls in value, the seller of the swap is supposed to make the owner of the swap whole. The purchaser of a swap is not required to own the asset in order to contract for a guarantee of its value. Therefore, as many people could purchase as many swaps as they wished on the same asset. Thus, the total value of the swaps greatly exceeds the value of the assets. The next step is for holders of the swaps to short the asset in order to drive down its value and collect the guarantee. As the issuers of swaps were not required to reserve against them, and as there is no limit to the number of swaps, the payouts could easily exceed the net worth of the issuer. This was the most shameful and most mindless form of speculation. Gamblers were betting hands that they could not cover. The US regulators fled their posts. The American financial institutions abandoned all integrity. As a consequence, American financial institutions and rating agencies are trusted nowhere on earth. The US government should never have used billions of taxpayers' dollars to pay off swap bets as it did when it bailed out the insurance company AIG. This was a stunning waste of a vast sum of money. The federal government should declare all swap agreements to be fraudulent contracts, except for a single swap held by the owner of the asset. Simply wiping out these fraudulent contracts would remove the bulk of the vast overhang of "troubled" assets that threaten financial markets. The billions of taxpayers' dollars spent buying up subprime derivatives were also wasted. The government did not need to spend one dime. All government needed to do was to suspend the mark-to-market rule. This simple act would have removed the solvency threat to financial institutions by allowing them to keep the derivatives at book value until financial institutions could ascertain their true values and write them down over time. Taxpayers, equity owners, and the credit standing of the US government are being ruined by financial shysters who are manipulating to their own advantage the government's commitment to mark-to-market and to the "sanctity of contracts". Multi-trillion dollar "bailouts" and bank nationalization are the result of the government's inability to respond intelligently. Two more simple acts would have completed the rescue without costing the taxpayers one dollar: an announcement from the Federal Reserve that it will be lender of last resort to all depository institutions including money market funds, and an announcement reinstating the uptick rule. The uptick rule was suspended or repealed a couple of years ago in order to permit hedge funds and shyster speculators to rip-off American equity owners. The rule prevented short-selling any stock that did not move up in price during the previous day. In other words, speculators could not make money at others' expense by ganging up on a stock and short-selling it day after day. As a former Treasury official, I am amazed that the US government, in the midst of the worst financial crises ever, is content for short-selling to drive down the asset prices that the government is trying to support. No bailout or stimulus plan has any hope until the uptick rule is reinstated. The bald fact is that the combination of ignorance, negligence, and ideology that permitted the crisis to happen still prevails and is blocking any remedy. Either the people in power in Washington and the financial community are total dimwits or they are manipulating an opportunity to redistribute wealth from taxpayers, equity owners and pension funds to the financial sector. The Bush and Obama plans total 1.6 trillion dollars, every one of which will have to be borrowed, and no one knows from where. This huge sum will compromise the value of the US dollar, its role as reserve currency, the ability of the US government to service its debt, and the price level. These staggering costs are pointless and are to no avail, as not one step has been taken that would alleviate the crisis. If we add to my simple menu of remedies a ban, punishable by instant death, for short selling any national currency, the world can be rescued from the current crisis without years of suffering, violent upheavals and, perhaps, wars. According to its hopeful but economically ignorant proponents, globalism was supposed to balance risks across national economies and to offset downturns in one part of the world with upturns in other parts. A global portfolio was a protection against loss, claimed globalism's purveyors. In fact, globalism has concentrated the risks, resulting in Wall Street's greed endangering all the economies of the world. The greed of Wall Street and the negligence of the US government have wrecked the prospects of many nations. Street riots are already occurring in parts of the world. On Sunday February 22, the right-wing TV station, Fox "News," presented a program that predicted riots and disarray in the United States by 2014. How long will Americans permit "their" government to rip them off for the sake of the financial interests that caused the problem? Obama's cabinet and National Economic Council are filled with representatives of the interest groups that caused the problem. The Obama administration is not a government capable of preventing a catastrophe. If truth be known, the "banking problem" is the least of our worries. Our economy faces two much more serious problems. One is that offshoring and H-1b visas have stopped the growth of family incomes, except, of course, for the super rich. To keep the economy going, consumers have gone deeper into debt, maxing out their credit cards and refinancing their homes and spending the equity. Consumers are now so indebted that they cannot increase their spending by taking on more debt. Thus, whether or not the banks resume lending is beside the point. The other serious problem is the status of the US dollar as reserve currency. This status has allowed the US, now a country heavily dependent on imports just like a third world or lesser-developed country, to pay its international bills in its own currency. We are able to import $800 billion annually more than we produce, because the foreign countries from whom we import are willing to accept paper for their goods and services. If the dollar loses its reserve currency role, foreigners will not accept dollars in exchange for real things. This event would be immensely disruptive to an economy dependent on imports for its energy, its clothes, its shoes, its manufactured products, and its advanced technology products. If incompetence in Washington, the type of incompetence that produced the current economic crisis, destroys the dollar as reserve currency, the "unipower" will overnight become a third world country, unable to pay for its imports or to sustain its standard of living. How long can the US government protect the dollar's value by leasing its gold to bullion dealers who sell it, thereby holding down the gold price? Given the incompetence in Washington and on Wall Street, our best hope is that the rest of the world is even less competent and even in deeper trouble. In this event, the US dollar might survive as the least valueless of the world's fiat currencies. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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 vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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