Progressive Calendar 03.23.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2009 03:27:56 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.23.09

1. Skocpol/elections 3.23 12noon
2. Peace walk        3.23 6pm RiverFalls WI
3. Water/not bottled 3.23 7pm
4. MLK/Memphis/film  3.23 7pm

5. Solar after dark  3.24 4pm
6. People's bailout  3.24 5pm
7. RNC court watch   3.24 6pm
8. Alice Paul/Salon  3.24 6:30pm
9. Frontline/$$$     3.24 9pm

10. Charley Underwood - Meeting the devil at a DFL convention
11. Federico Fuentes  - Venezuela: organisation, unity, revolution deepens
12. ed                - Nice to rats   (poem)

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

From: Human Rights Center/Lauren Merritt <humanrts [at]>
Subject: Skocpol/elections 3.23 12noon

March 23, 2009 - Civic Engagement in America: Will the 2008 Election
Matter?.  Time: 12:00pm-1:30 pm.  Cost: Free and open to the public.

Theda Skocpol, Harvard University, will discuss "Civic Engagement in
America: Will the 2008 Election Matter?"

Pundits and social observers have voiced alarm as fewer and fewer
Americans involve themselves in voluntary groups and participatory
democracy. Most of the nonprofit groups launched in recent decades are run
by professionals who lobby Congress or deliver social services to clients,
displacing membership groups and leaving many Americans with fewer
opportunities to interact across class lines and become involved in
community and public affairs. In the wake of the 2008 election and the
innovative Obama campaign, Skocpol will discuss what the prospects are for
a sustained revitalization of America's civic democracy. This free event
is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance and is
open to the public.

Location: Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Institute, University of
Minnesota-West Bank, Minneapolis, MN

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

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 3.23 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

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

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at]>
Subject: Water/not bottled 3.23 7pm


For the survival of all, it is important that water be owned by no one yet
be equally available to all, especially with growing shortages of this
vital resource due to pollution and climate change.  Eleanor Fort, Green
Corps Field Organizer, will speak on Corporate Accountability
International's anti-privatization campaign to get consumers to take the
pledge and drink municipal tap water.  She will explain why this is
preferable to purchasing water that is bottled by big corporations like
Pepsi and Coke and sold at exorbitant prices in petroleum-based plastic
bottles that, when not properly recycled, leach toxins into our soil,
groundwater, freshwater and oceans. World Water Day is March 22nd. <>

The forum will take place on Monday, March 23rd at 7:00 PM at Mayday
Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South on the West Bank, Minneapolis.  The event is
free and open to the public and sponsored by the Climate Crisis Coalition
of the Twin Cities (3CTC).  The Clean-Energy Vigil to Cool Down the Planet
will take place on the plaza outside the bookstore at 5:00 PM, weather
permitting, followed by the 3CTC Business Meeting at 6:00 PM.  All are
welcome.  For more information, EMAIL:  christinefrank [at] or PHONE:

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

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: MLK/Memphis/film 3.23 7pm

 MON.3/23,7pm:labor film AT RIVER I STAND @ St. Joan of Arc Minneapolis

You are invited to a screening of *"At the River I Stand"*, one of the
best movies I've ever seen -- we showed it here at SJA last year, and St.
Joan of Arc is collaborating with Pax Christi Twin Cities and the Workers
Interfaith Network to bring it back. It is an amazing and hopeful
testament to the power of nonviolent social change and you will love it.
If you don't, we'll give you your money back (except that it's free....)
This screening will be Monday, March 23 at 7pm in the church at St. Joan
of Arc.

"At the River I Stand" is a short (one hour) documentary that tells the
story of the Memphis sanitation workers' strike, which brought Dr. Martin
Luther King to Memphis and ultimately to his assassination. That terrible
tragedy did not, however, thwart the remarkable work that achieved dignity
and justice for the sanitation workers of Memphis.

Please join us on the 23rd , and invite anyone else who needs a good dose
of inspiration!
 -Julie Madden

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

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Solar after dark 3.24 4pm

4 PM at Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Center, 301-19th Avenue South,

Spring 2009 Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture: Solar After
Dark - Going Green at Night. Features Professor Jane H. Davidson, a
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, whose current research focuses on
solar systems for buildings and solar thermo-chemical cycles to produce
solar fields.

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

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: People's bailout 3.24 5pm

Significant St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  All
households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 3/24, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 3/25, 10am
Bail Out the People!

The Welfare Rights Committee's Tasha Jackson and Linden Gawboy speak about
how the economic crisis has been affecting poor people and the People's
Bail Out Bill in the MN legislature.  Hosted by Karen Redleaf.

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

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 3.24 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at]

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

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Alice Paul/Salon 3.24 6:30pm

This Tuesday, March 24, Jill Zahniser, who has written a first volume on
suffragist, Alice Paul, will be our guest. The life of Alice Paul was very
inspiring and it should be an interesting evening.

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

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Frontline/$$$ 3.24 9pm


- This Week: "Ten Trillion and Counting" (60 minutes),
March 24th at 9pm on PBS (Check local listings)

Among the unpleasant truths Americans are facing are trillion dollar plus
current budget deficits and a total national debt which serves as the
title for Tuesday's FRONTLINE, "Ten Trillion and Counting."

Beyond these stunning numbers, there's more: huge unfunded promises the
nation has made to current and future retirees. Combined, these stupendous
amounts of money stagger the imagination. But don't let your eyes glaze
over. Our report offers you a primer on just how we got ourselves into
such a mess and the huge gamble the new administration is taking to try
and get us out of it.

The journey begins as correspondent Forrest Sawyer takes us to a secret
location - the Treasury's debt auction room where every day the U.S. sells
T-bills and bonds which, along with interest, are guaranteed by the "full
faith and credit of the U.S." So far, we've been able to rely on
foreigners to buy these obligations, and that's how year after year we
close the deficit gaps in our national budget. It isn't free money - huge
interest payments must be made and foreign governments are beginning to
lecture us about getting our financial house in order.

Warns Wall Street Journal reporter David Wessel, "The status quo is not
gonna work. Anybody who thinks about that realizes that the U.S.
government cannot go on every year borrowing more money than it did the
year before."

Yet more borrowing is exactly what the Obama administration plans to do:
hundreds of billions to bail out the banks and other financial
institutions; tens of billions more for the auto industry; new billions
for beleaguered homeowners; and a giant $800 billion stimulus package to
jump start an economy spiraling downward. Just like the Bush
administration before it, Obama and his team are going to borrow big and
make promises about cutting the yearly deficit later on.

Years ago, there was a famous cartoon caption which read: "We have met the
enemy and he is us." FRONTLINE asked policy expert Maya MacGuiness, who
heads up the Committee for a Responsible Budget, about our own role as
voters in piling up the deficits. She said: "...we want it all. We want
our tax cuts and want them to be big. We want new spending programs, we
want every person cared for, we want government investment - but we don't
want to pay for it."

We hope you'll join us Tuesday night (check local listings). And
afterward, explore our Web site where you can watch the full program again
online, explore the interviews and join the discussion.

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

Date: Sun, 22 Mar 2009 05:45:02 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Charley Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Meeting the devil at a DFL convention

Last week I met the devil.  In person.  Let me explain....

The Minneapolis ward 12 endorsing convention had just adjourned at
Roosevelt High School.  I was in the hall saying good-bye to delegates as
they left.  Suddenly a woman walked up to me and said, "Hi, I'm the

Since I must have looked somewhat confused, she continued, "I'm Susan
Gaertner, and I came over to show you that I am not actually dangerous."
(She made little horn gestures with her fingers as she said this.)

I smiled and looked down at her sides, noting that she did not appear to
be carrying the deadly weapons that Bob Fletcher always keeps handy to
protect himself.  We chatted for a while, and I would call it a good talk.

I didn't yell at her.  I didn't call her names.  I even made a gentle joke
about not smelling sulfur.

But I also told Susan Gaertner that I was disappointed in her judgment.
She is known as a bright woman and she has been around the block a few
times, I mentioned.  So how could she as Ramsey County Prosecutor accept
the wild paranoid ravings of Sheriff Bob Fletcher as if they were actual
evidence?  Wasn't that her job to actually decide whether or not she
actually had the evidence to prosecute?

There was also a sense of loss I expressed, a sort of mourning for the
loss of community policing during the RNC, a hallmark that had previously
put St Paul on the national map in law enforcement circles.  That's gone
now, as will soon be St Paul police chief John Harrington, one of the more
moderate forces before, during and after that hellish RNC in September.
As would be other honest and moderate voices in the the rank and file of
the St Paul Police or the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.

When people like Gaertner don't stand up to bullies like Fletcher, then
the bullies win and the moderates lose.  The rule of law loses.

I told Susan Gaertner all this in a quiet and (I hope) respectful way.
She didn't actually respond to anything I said, except to say that we
would have to get together again some day to talk.

Really, I hope she was able to hear me.  We would all be safer if Susan
Gaertner would use a little judgment and uphold the rule of law evenly,
rejecting the clear paranoid delusions of Fletcher and perhaps even
prosecuting all equally for actual violations of the law.  Even if they
happened to be wearing a uniform while assaulting or threatening citizens
in St Paul.

Charley Underwood
Longfellow (SD 62 A), Minneapolis

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

Venezuela: Mass organisation, unity increases as revolution deepens
By Federico Fuentes
March 23, 2009                        [Venezuela huzzah! -ed]
Source: Green Left Weekly

"This government is here to protect the people, not the bourgeoisie or the
rich", proclaimed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on February 28, as he
ordered soldiers to take over two rice-processing plants owned by
Venezuelan food and drink giant Empresas Polar.

The move was made in order to ensure that the company was producing
products subjected to the government-imposed price controls that aim to
protect the poor from the affects of global price rises and inflation.

Under Venezuelan law, companies that can produce basic goods regulated by
price controls must guarantee that 70-95% of their products are of the
regulated type.

"They've refused 100 times to process the typical rice that Venezuelans
eat", said Chavez. "If they don't take me seriously, I'll expropriate the
plants and turn them into social property."

Four days later, Chavez announced the expropriation of a rice-processing
plant owned by US food giant Cargill after it was revealed the company was
attempting to subvert the price controls.

                       Moving against capital

In the following period, "Venezuela's National Institute of Lands (INTI)
[took] public ownership of more than 5000 hectares of land claimed by
wealthy families and multi-national corporations and is reviewing tens of
thousands more hectares across the nation", reported
on March 11.

This includes the March 5 expropriation of 1500 hectares of a tree farm
owned by Ireland's Smurfit Kappa. The government has pledged to move away
from eucalyptus trees, which were drying up the land, and turn the land
over to cooperatives for sustainable agriculture.

On March 14, Chavez decreed a new fishing law, banning industrial
trawl-fishing within Venezuela's territorial waters.

"Trawling fishing destroys the sea, destroys marine species and benefits a
minority. This is destructive capitalism", explained Chavez on his weekly
TV show, Alo Presidente the following day. reported on March 17 that the government will invest
US$32 million to convert or decommission trawling boats, as well as to
development fish-processing plants.

"Thirty trawling ships will be expropriated, Chavez said, due to the
refusal of their owners to cooperate with the plans to adapt the boats to
uses compliant with the new fishing regulations."

Small-scale fisherpeople will have access to the converted boats.

                         Anti-crisis measures

This latest wave of radical measures by the Chavez government should be
seen in the context of the ongoing process of nationalisations since early
2006, the onset of the global economic and food crises and the February 15
referendum victory.

The government has re-nationalised privatised industries such as
electricity, telecommunications and steel. Cement companies, milk
producing factories and one of Venezuela's major banks have either been,
or are in negotiations to be, nationalised.

Unlike the state interventions currently being undertaken in the
imperialist centres, the aim of these moves is not to bail out bankrupt
capitalists, but to help shift production towards meeting people's needs .
in service provisions (phone lines, electricity, banking) and production
of essential goods (concrete, steel for housing and factories, and food).

Last July, the government made strong signals that its next targets would
be two strategic sectors previously barely touched - food and finance.

The day after announcing the planned government buyout of Banco de
Venezuela (which, once completed, will give the government control over
close to 20% of the banking sector), Chavez issued 26 decrees, a number of
which increase government and community control over food storage and
distribution - and allow the state to jail company owners for hoarding.

Moves aimed at increasing government control over food production come
amid soaring world food prices and 30% inflation within Venezuela - which
is still dependent on imports for 70% of its food supply.

The government also faces an ongoing campaign of food speculation and
hoarding carried out by the capitalist food producers and distributors in
order to destabilise the anti-capitalist government.

With oil prices plummeting by almost $100 per barrel from a high of more
than US$140 last year, the government is tightening the screws. Oil
accounts for 93% of the government's export revenue and around half of its
national budget.

The government has already announced the restructuring of its ministries,
merging a number of them in order to cut down on bureaucracy.

The Chavez government is making it very clear that it will be the
capitalists, not the people, who will pay for the mess that the capitalist
system has created.

"I have entrusted myself with putting the foot down on the accelerator of
the revolution, of the social and economic transformation of Venezuela",
Chavez explained on March 8.

                       Mandate for socialism

These latest moves follow the government's victory in the February 15

Officially, the referendum concerned whether to amend the constitution and
remove limits on the number of times elected officials could stand for
re-election. At stake was the possibility of Chavez standing for
re-election in 2012.

In the context of the intense class struggle, it became a referendum on
the socialist project pushed by Chavez.

Addressing tens of thousands of supporters from the balcony of the
presidential palace after the victory, Chavez noted that those that had
voted "yes" had "voted for socialism, voted for the revolution".

The referendum was proposed by Chavez as a "counter-offensive" against the
opposition following the November 23 regional elections.

Candidates from Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won
the overwhelming majority of governorships and mayoralties.

However, opposition victories in key states on the Colombian border (where
there is growing right-wing paramilitary activity) and the Greater Caracas
mayoralty were viewed as important gains for the counter-revolution.

Opposition governors and mayors began to use their new positions to attack
community organisations and the pro-poor social missions.

The rapid mobilisation to defeat these attacks by the poor and working
people was converted into the formation of 100,000 "Yes committees" to
campaign in the referendum, in poor communities, workplaces and
universities across the country.

These committees were the backbone of the successful referendum campaign.

                     Organising for revolution

The latest measures will undoubtedly intensify the class conflict in

An example of this conflict has resulted from the government's program of
land reform, aimed at ending the domination over agriculture by a small
minority of large landowners.

Previous attempts by the government to redistribute land have resulted in
a violent counter-offensive by large landowners that has resulted in the
murder of more than 200 peasants since the land reform law of 2001.

On March 9, land reform activist Mauricio Sanchez was murdered in Zulia,
two weeks after campesino activist Nelson Lopez was shot dead in Yaracuy.

Increasingly, trade unionists have also been the target of violent
repression when struggling for their rights. On January 29, two workers at
Mitsubishi plant were killed by police during an industrial dispute -
sparking protests and the arrest of a number of police.

Several peasant organisations are seeking to unite their forces in support
of government measures and against repression. The PSUV leadership has
also called for a restructuring of the party to better organise the masses
for the coming battles.

Launched after Chavez's 2006 re-election to help accelerate the
revolutionary process, the PSUV brought together a range of revolutionary
forces as well as opportunist and corrupt layers.

On March 6, the national leadership of the PSUV made public a series of
decisions aimed at deepening participation and democracy in the party.

This includes a recruitment drive to sign up new militants, a clean out of
the current membership lists, the reactivation of the grassroots socialist
battalions and the organisation of an extraordinary congress for August to
deepen discussion over the party's program and principles.

Building on the success of the "yes" campaign, the PSUV will move to
consolidate national mass fronts of workers, peasants, women and students
- along with converting the "yes committees" into ongoing "socialist

[Ah, to live in a civilized country! -ed]

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

 I am nice to rats
 even when they mock me. I
 don't give a rat sass.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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