Progressive Calendar 02.27.09
From: David Shove (
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]
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

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]>
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] 612.813.5017 office 612.220.2070 cell
612.813.5039 fax

--------3 of 18--------

From: Rachel Nelson <bardlive [at]>
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

"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,  Good deal punch cards available at the door.

For more information about Spirit in the House Festival, performances,
films, and workshops, see

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 bardlive [at] 651-353-3370

--------4 of 18--------

From: "Murphy, Cathy" <CMurphy [at]>
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

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:
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]>
Subject: Moyers/bailout 2.27 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Behind the Bank Bailout
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]>
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]>
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]>
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]>
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]

"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

For more info.
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]>
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:

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:

--------11 of 18--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.28 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------12 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
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:

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.
<>Be part of this historic

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. (

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]>
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

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

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

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]

[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

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

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

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
February 24, 2009

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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]


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