|Progressive Calendar 03.29.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 29 Mar 2009 06:06:19 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.29.09 1. Stillwater vigil 3.29 1pm 2. Iraq/Ellison 3.29 1pm 3. FMLN/Romero anniv 3.29 1:15pm 4. Immigration/food 3.29 2:30pm 5. Local foods 3.29 3pm 6. Single payer/KFAI 3.29 6pm 7. Stop foreclosures 3.30 9am 8. Peace walk 3.30 6pm RiverFalls WI 9. Amnesty Intl 3.30 7pm 10. Danene Provencher - Good news: MN nuclear moratorium maintained 11. Neve Gordon - Netanyahu's minister Lieberman, Israel's shame 12. Hannah Safran - "Ready to be traitors": the Israeli resistance 13. Nathan Rao - Another Left possible: new anti-capitalist party 14. Diane Farsetta - The nuclear industry targets Wisconsin 15. ed - Ohhh! Ooooh! (poem) --------1 of 15-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 3.29 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------2 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Iraq/Ellison 3.29 1pm "Achieving Peace and Stability in Iraq and Afghanistan" Town Hall Forum with Congressman Keith Ellison Sunday, March 29, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Plymouth Congregational Church, Jones Common, 1300 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis. Attend a town hall forum hosted by Congressman Keith Ellison to discuss "Achieving Peace and Stability in Iraq and Afghanistan." Ellison, and an invited panel of experts, will discuss the plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, as well as the plan to increase military presence in Afghanistan. [Ellison is not a progressive, but we progressives can show up and ask tough questions. -ed] --------3 of 15-------- From: Marco Dávila" <maidaca85 [at] gmail.com> Subject: FMLN/Romero anniv 3.29 1:15pm -FMLN committee invites to commemorate the 29th aniversary of the physical death of Monseñor Romero -you are invited to a celebration with a mass at sacred heart of jesus -after the mass, please join us downstairs where we will play a movie about monsenor's murder in 1980 Sunday 29th of March, 2009 Sacred Heart of Jesus (38th Street and Pleasand Ave.) Time of the mass: 1:15 pm Time of the movie: 2:30pm --------4 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Immigration/food 3.29 2:30pm Immigration and Food Justice: a Multi-Faith Dialogue Sunday, March 29, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Faith Mennonite Church, 2720 East 22nd Street, Minneapolis. What impact do immigrants as people and immigration policy have on the production and distribution of food in the U.S.? Who benefits? Who suffers? A panel from different faith perspectives will discuss how the values of justice and respect apply to the connections between immigration and food. Panelists include: Rabbi Morris Allen, Beth Jacob Congregation; Tisha Rajendra, University of St. Thomas; Owais Bayunus, Islamic Center of Minnesota; and Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Rural Enterprise Center. Free and open to the public. Co-Sponsored by: Bread for the World Upper Midwest Office, Oxfam Action Corps Minnesota, Islamic Center of Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, Community of St. Martin, Pan-African Community Organization, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Holy Rosary Catholic Church, and the Land Stewardship Project. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call Michael Bischoff, 612-521-1889. --------5 of 15-------- From: tom [at] organicconsumers.org Subject: Local foods 3.29 3pm What happens when wild nut gatherers from the Amazon Basin, fishers from Spain, the Congo and Norway and pastoralists from Iran rub shoulders and break bread with farmers from right here in Minnesota? Come hear the shared worldview experiences of MN farmers who visited the mountains of Italy to celebrate and discuss their passions and livelihoods with other sustainable family farmers from around the world. On Sunday, March 29th from 3 to 4:30 PM Land Stewardship Project member/farmers will share their experience of attending Slow Food International's Terra Madre in Turin, Italy in Fall of 2008. Moonstone Farm's Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen, Garden of Eagan's Atina Diffley, Lori and Allan Callister of Callister Farm and Laura Frerichs of Loon Organics will gather to discuss the most local of global challenges, feeding the world in a sustainable and humane way and how efforts here and worldwide are rising to meet these challenges. Don't miss this unique opportunity to hear from some of the most visionary farmers in MN and find out what is happening and what you can do to keep more sustainable family farmers on the land and get more of the food they raise to our tables. There is no admission for this special Sunday matinee event but seating is limited so please make your reservations by emailing ttaylor [at] landstewardshipproject.org with your name, how many seats you will need and your telephone number. Bryant Lake Bowl is located at 810 West Lake Street in South Minneapolis For more information or questions call Tom Taylor at 320-2690-2105 Please feel free to share this information. Tom Taylor Community Based Food Systems Organizer Land Stewardship Project Montevideo, MN 56265 320-269-2105 X 10 ttaylor [at] landstewardshipproject.org www.landstewardshipproject.org If you care about a healthy ecosystem, good food and vibrant rural communities you should be a member of Land Stewardship Project. --------6 of 15-------- From: zaelonyrep [at] aol.com Subject: Single payer/KFAI 3.29 6pm TUNE IN SUNDAY, MARCH 29th KFAI Radio's Wave Project, 90.3 FM in Minneapolis & west, 106.7 FM in St. Paul & East. 6-7 PM Topic: Government-funded Single-payer Universal Health Care; Opportunities for a NEW New Deal in a Time of Economic Crisis. Hosted by Zev Aelony, Panelists Joel Albers (health economist, pharmacist, Universal Health Care Action Network-MN); and Ann Settgast (physician from Physicians for a National Health Program- MN). We will discuss the prospects for major health care reform in a time of economic crisis, how government-funded single-payer UHC is today what Social Security was to the New Deal in 1935. --------7 of 15-------- From: Ricardo Levins Morales <ricardo [at] northlandposter.com> Subject: Stop foreclosures 3.30 9am Action announcement: There will be daylong series of activities at an eviction-threatened home in South Minneapolis on Monday, March 30. 3138 Clinton Ave., South. Rosemary Williams has lived here for 55 years (since she was a child). A loan against her home "re-set" last year and the monthly payment jumped from $1200 to an impossible $2200. She is under threat of eviction starting March 30 (although there is a possibility for extension). While banker loan sharks get $$billion bailouts, homeowners are thrown into the street. Does this picture seem wrong to you? Be part of the solution! Join the resistance to the foreclosure epidemic! sit-in starting@ 9am 11:30 am rally 6pm cultural event spoken word performance speeches on foreclosure crisis performers welcome! Organized by the Minnesota Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign Please pass the word! info: deeq 612-636-5642 or manuel 413-559-9099 Ricardo Levins Morales Northland Poster Collective PO Box 7096 Minneapolis, MN 55407 (800) 627-3082 www.northlandposter.com --------8 of 15-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 3.30 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] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------9 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 3.30 7pm Augustana Homes Seniors Group meets on Monday, March 30th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the party room of the 1020 Building, 1020 E 17th Street, Minneapolis. For more information contact Ardes Johnson at 612/378-1166 or johns779 [at] tc.umn.edu. --------10 of 15-------- Date: Sat, 28 Mar 2009 15:27:21 EDT From: Danene Provencher PRO826 [at] aol.com Subject: Good news: Nuclear moratorium maintained I was in attendance at two hearings this past Wednesday and Thursday evenings in a supportive role with our lobbyist of the West Metro Global Warming Action Group (WMGWAG). Fortunately, HF 1091 did not pass!! and I wanted to share this write up on it with others, Danene Provencher Board Member WMGWAG Subject: Good news: Nuclear moratorium maintained As you may have heard, last night the Minnesota House Energy Finance and Policy Division voted on HF1091, Rep. Tim Mahoney's bill to repeal Minnesota's moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction. It failed on a 12 to 9 committee vote. Here is a related news article http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/03/27/nuclearpower/ The hearing on the bill followed public testimony, as well as a policy discussion the night before at which Arjun Makhijani of IEER testified. For me, the highlight from last night's hearing was when the committee chair, Rep. Bill Hilty, said: "I did not have a position on this issue. I try to keep an open mind, particularly on something as serious as the energy future of the state of Minnesota. ... The thing that really got me in all of this testimony was just one thing that Dr. Makhijani said last night. And that is that, if we imply that we have a immediate nuclear energy future in Minnesota, it will be a distraction from the course that we have in recent years already, I think rightly and sensibly, put Minnesota on to develop its own resources, its own renewable resources, to the greatest extent that we can. The utilities all find that a very challenging order to try to meet. But they're doing it. Let's keep focused on the path we have already started." A video archive is available of both meetings: Thursday, March 26, 2009, House Energy Finance and Policy Division hearing of HF 1091 http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/programa.asp?ls_year=86&event_id=1949 (Hilty's statement above starts around 03:03:48) Wednesday, March 25, 2009, Discussion of nuclear power in a joint meeting of the Legislative Energy Commission, the House Energy Finance and Policy Division, and the Senate Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee Part 1: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/programa.asp?ls_year=86&event_id=1948 (00:41:50 Dr. Makhijani's testimony on nuclear power, including a demystification of the French nuclear situation) Part 2: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/programa.asp?ls_year=86&event_id=1964 (01:06:45 Makhijani on the inadequacy of federally guaranteed insurance to cover damages on a potential nuclear power accident) (01:10:53 Makhijani on new reprocessing technologies) (01:14:00 Question for Makhijani on interim nuclear spent fuel management) A big thanks to those who made this victory possible. Lisa Ledwidge Outreach Director, United States Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) PO Box 6674 | Minneapolis, MN 55406 USA tel. 1-612-722-9700 | fax: please call first | ieer [at] ieer.org | http://www.ieer.org --------11 of 15--------- Meet Netanyahu's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Shame By NEVE GORDON March 26, 2009 CounterPunch Thanks to Binyamin Netanyahu's overweening ambition, Israel is to be saddled with a foreign minister who is a national disgrace. Imagine a country that appoints someone who has been found guilty of striking a 12-year-old boy to be its foreign minister. The person in question is also under investigation for money-laundering, fraud and breach of trust; in addition, he was a bona fide member of an outlawed racist party and currently leads a political party that espouses fascist ideas. On top of all this, he does not even reside in the country he has been chosen to represent. Even though such a portrayal may appear completely outlandish, Israel's new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, actually fits the above depiction to the letter. . In 2001, following his own confession, Lieberman was found guilty of beating a 12-year-old boy. As part of a plea bargain, Lieberman was fined 17,500 shekels and had to promise never to hit young children again. . In 2004, Lieberman's 21-year-old daughter Michal set up a consulting firm, which received 11m shekels from anonymous overseas sources. Lieberman, according to the police, received more than a 2.1m-shekel salary from the company for two years of employment. In addition, according to an investigation by Haaretz, he allegedly received additional severance pay - amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels - in 2006 and 2007, while he was minister of strategic affairs and deputy prime minister. According to Israeli law, this is illegal. . Lieberman is an ex-member of Meir Kahane's party, Kach, which was outlawed due to its blatantly racist platform. Moreover, his views towards Arabs do not appear to have changed over the years. In 2003, when reacting to a commitment made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to give amnesty to approximately 350 Palestinian prisoners, Lieberman declared that, as minister of transport, he would be more than happy to provide buses to take the prisoners to the sea and drown them there. . In January 2009, during Israel's war on Gaza, Lieberman argued that Israel "must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in the second world war. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary." He was referring to the two atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. . Lieberman does not live in Israel according to its internationally recognised borders, but rather in an illegal settlement called Nokdim. Legally speaking, this would be like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton residing in Mexico and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband living on the Canary Islands. And yet, despite these egregious transgressions, newly-elected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no qualms about appointing Lieberman to represent Israel in the international arena. Netanyahu's lust for power has led him to choose a man who actually poses a serious threat to Israel. Both Lieberman's message and style are not only violent, but have clear proto-fascist elements; and, as Israeli commentators have already intimated, he is extremely dangerous. Politics being politics, most western leaders will no doubt adopt a conciliatory position towards Lieberman, and agree to meet and discuss issues relating to foreign policy with him. Such a position can certainly be justified on the basis of Lieberman's democratic election; however much one may dislike his views, he is now the representative of the Israeli people. Those who decide to meet him can also claim that ongoing diplomacy and dialogue lead to the internalisation of international norms and thus moderate extremism. These justifications carry weight. However, western leaders will also have to take into account that the decision to meet Lieberman will immediately be associated with the ban on Hamas, at least among people in the Middle East. In January 2006, Hamas won a landslide victory in elections that were no less democratic than the recent elections in Israel. While Hamas is, in many respects, an extremist political party that espouses violence, its politicians are representatives of the Palestinian people and are seen as struggling for liberation and self-determination. If western leaders want to be conceived as credible, they must change their policy and meet with Hamas as well. Otherwise, their decision to meet Lieberman will be rightly perceived as hypocritical and duplicitous, and the pervasive perception in the region - that the United States and Europe are biased in Israel's favour - will only be strengthened. Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and author of Israel.s Occupation (University of California Press, 2008). --------12 of 15-------- "Ready to be Traitors" The Israeli Resistance By HANNAH SAFRAN March 26, 2009 CounterPunch On January 8, 2009, 13 days into the war on Gaza, 45 people, Jews and Arabs, came together in Haifa to discuss how to proceed with our anti-war activities. Each one of those present in the room had already participated in more than one action against this war in Gaza. In Haifa itself, the third largest city in Israel, there have been at least two demonstrations each day - one at lunchtime at the university and the other later in the evening in downtown Haifa, where many Palestinian citizens of Israel live. At both demonstrations both Palestinians and Jews have been present. Five days earlier, on the first Saturday after the start of the war, most of us went either to Sachnin, a Palestinian town in northern Israel, to join some 25,000 people for a demonstration, or to Tel Aviv - the largest city - were there were another 10,000 people. All of the protesters were citizens of Israel, but the Israeli-Jewish press hardly mentioned the Sachnin demonstration, because it was mainly Palestinians who demonstrated. The press also hardly mentioned the Tel Aviv demonstration, because it routinely ignores the Jewish left. We all felt these protests were not enough. We wanted to bring the message home to Israelis who refuse to see that their government has engaged the country in yet another unnecessary and cruel war. Most of those in the Haifa meeting knew each other from years of protest against Israeli occupation of the occupied territories and especially from the anti-war protests during the second Lebanon war, when Haifa itself was bombarded. However, there were also new faces - young men and women who added to the sense that we are increasing in number and there is still hope. We belong to a growing public that does not buy into the Israeli propaganda of "there is nobody to talk with" - the idea that we, Israelis, are eager to make peace but they, the Palestinians, are not interested. We have come of age during the past eight years of activism against all odds. Many of us are long-time, dedicated peace activists. We come from organizations such as Women in Black (a 21-year-old vigil against the occupation), the Hadash party (a coalition of left-wing groups and the Communist Party), Ta'ayush (an Arab-Jewish activist group), the Haifa University Forum Smol (left wing lecturers and students), Isha L'Isha feminist centre and many other groups, all of them working in their own way for politics of social justice and peace. We are Jewish and Palestinian Haifa residents, all citizens of Israel. But nobody in mainstream Israeli politics or even academia is ready to recognize that these alliances are the nucleus of the new left in Israel today. Even the (only) liberal daily newspaper Ha'aretz, which has claimed since the year 2000 that there is no left in Israel, refuses to recognise that something else has developed on the ruins of the old Zionist left. Haifa is not unique in its grass-roots peace activism and its ability to bring people together beyond political differences. Many groups have been active for years and their numbers have increased a hundredfold since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000. Breaking the Silence (a group of ex-servicemen who are exposing what is happening in the occupied territories), the Anarchists Against the Wall (a group of dedicated brave, mainly young people, who are at the forefront of demonstrations against the wall), the Women's Coalition for Peace (a coalition of nine women's organizations), New Profile (which advocates de-militarisation of Israeli society) - these are only a few of the many different groups active around the country. In addition, there are the human rights organisations that are doing an extremely important job despite the belligerent Israeli establishment. Organisations such as Physicians for Human Rights and B'Tselem have dedicated staff and volunteers who are part of the movement for peace. I should also mention the many groups of Palestinians in Israel, such as Mossawa ("Equality"), Adalla ("Justice") and Women Against Violence, who campaign against war and racism and for the cultural and civil freedoms of their oppressed community. These organisations are mobilising growing numbers of young women and men who are dedicated to the struggle for civil rights, human and women's rights for the Palestinians of Israel. One remarkable phenomenon was the declaration against the war, circulated within five days of it beginning, by 24 women's organizations. The declaration called for an end to the bombing and demanded that war should stop being an option. The organisations signing this statement went beyond women's peace organisations such as the Women's Coalition for Peace. This time, for the first time, it included a mixture of organizations promoting social, legal and financial rights for women. The Haifa-based feminist organization Isha L'Isha went even further and issued a statement calling "upon the government of Israel to bring about the end of the cruel siege on Gaza, to stop immediately its attacks, to free the residents of the south from their role as hostages in the hands of politics without future, and to fulfil the role for which it was elected - to bring about prosperity and economic security, peace and security, today and for generations to come, for all women and men in Israeli society, while creating true alliances with all the residents of the area". We should recognise this change, and hope for joint action by these organizations and other civil society groups such as the environmental movement. The process that dismantled the old party system in Israel brought many people to take part in local community groups, dissatisfied with their social and political oppression. These groups have not yet been able to formulate a common platform for change, and they are facing the resistance of the hegemonic Ashkenazi (Jews of European descent) establishment, which refuses to recognize their existence and importance. But in spite of their orchestrated attempt to make the entire left-peace-resistance movement invisible, these social forces, together with the new left, might one day group together to effect change. The refusal to recognize our existence has served the propaganda machine of Israel well, especially in times of war. The Israeli media work in unison with the government to present a unified voice of the Jewish population, supporting military action small and large. This seemingly unified voice is presented in opposition to the Palestinians in Israel who are naturally opposing the war and the occupation. Any demonstration, articles or public statements against the war are discarded as representing Arabs and not Jews. The "only democracy in the Middle East", as Israel portrays itself, does not allow dissent. If you are against its military offensive you are immediately branded a traitor. >From this, the idea follows that all Palestinian citizens of Israel who oppose the war should be stripped of their citizenship. Such racism is what all of us, Jews and Arabs, have to suffer when we decide to publicly oppose the war. There are a growing number of people ready to be considered "traitors". When Israel conquered the rest of Mandate Palestine in 1967 (most of it had already been taken in 1948 to create the state of Israel) there were only a handful of Jewish people who publicly opposed that occupation. The first group to do so was called Matzpen ("Compass"), a group of perhaps fewer than 100 people altogether. They launched a brave struggle against the Israeli policies of expansion and oppression. Forty years later, their insight and courage is now manifested in about 60 peace groups of different kinds and a thousand people marching in the streets of Tel Aviv on the first evening of the war. It is not even just the left who oppose Israel's policies. Even the Council for Peace and Security, a group of ex-generals and high ranking officers, had called on the government - just a month before the war on Gaza - to accept the Saudi peace plan and to go ahead with a two-state solution. And the amount of protest is growing daily. Around the world, Jews are speaking up against the myth of "one people, one voice." They are fed up of supporting Israel, with its obvious refusal to follow a peaceful solution to the conflict. As I write, eight Canadian-Jewish women are invading the Israeli consulate in Toronto, chanting anti-Israel slogans. A group of Israelis who live in Holland issued a statement against the Israeli attack on Gaza. A week ago a branch of Women in Black in Melbourne, headed by an Australian Israeli woman, organized a demonstration in front of Government House and managed to get on the main news channel. The Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, based in the US, organised a petition against the bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza. We, the resistance movement in Israel, will continue our struggle against the war in Gaza and the racism that prevails within Israeli society. We will continue to grow, we will connect to other social and environmental protest groups, and we will hopefully help change our society for the better. Dr Hannah Safran is a feminist peace activist and a co-founder of Women in Black, Haifa --------13 of 15-------- Another Left is Possible: The Protests in France and the New Anti-Capitalist Party by Nathan Rao The Bullet - No. 198, March 25, 2009 A Socialist Project e-bulletin http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/bullet198.html From: moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG It would be wrong to see last Thursday's massively successful protest actions in France as distant and exotic, of no particular relevance to us here in Canada. With the economic meltdown heralding a new political era, and with most of the country's Left and social movements still stunned and disoriented following their embrace of the misguided and failed Liberal-led coalition plan, the French experience is instructive and inspiring. France has just gone through another day of mass strikes and protests against the hard-Right government of president Nicolas Sarkozy. The protest action is hugely popular in opinion polls and comes on the heels of another successful but smaller day of action on January 29, a victorious six-week general strike on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe that spread to other overseas colonial territories and the proliferation of radical protest actions among students and in a number of workplaces - all in the context of growing job losses and a deepening financial and economic crisis. `France's Thatcher' on the defensive Not long ago, Sarkozy was widely hailed in Anglo- American circles, from the Blairite "centre-Left" across to the Bushite and Harperite neo-conservative Right, as the French Thatcher - the man that would usher in the "normalization" of French society by at long last breaking resistance to growing inequality, job insecurity, privatization and cutbacks. And yet, a mere 18 months into his mandate the swaggering and obnoxious Sarkozy is now stumbling in the face of the resilience and scale of popular resistance. Though still very far from being defeated, Sarkozy and the neoliberal project more generally are on the defensive in France, a country at the heart of the global capitalist and imperial order. This has not failed to raise a few eyebrows in other European and western capitals, where the fear is that developments in France will serve as an example for workers and young people in their own countries. Further stoking these fears is the fact that Olivier Besancenot - the 34 year-old postal worker and spokesperson of the newly created New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) - has consolidated his position as by far the most popular opposition figure in the country. For several months now, polls have ranked him well ahead of the leader of the nominally social-democratic Socialist Party (PS) Martine Aubry - and even further ahead of the PS candidate in the 2007 presidential elections SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal and centre-Right leader FranÃ§ois Bayrou. Besancenot recently even earned the unusual distinction of being the only left-wing and working-class figure to be named to the Financial Times list of 50 people "who will frame the debate on the future of capitalism." New Party, New Politics for France's Left As its name suggests, the NPA has an explicitly anti- capitalist profile and its program calls for a revolutionary transformation of the country's political institutions and property relations. It is an activist party, with a growing base of more than 10,000 members across the country involved in local organizing efforts and broad activist campaigns and the internal work and debates of the NPA itself. The party brings together former members of the largest surviving (and now "self-dissolved") organization of the 1968-era far-Left (the "Trotskyist" LCR), a wide array of experienced and previously non-party- affiliated trade-union and social-movement activists, a new generation of radicalized students and youth and a significant layer of people of all ages for whom the party is their first political experience ever. It is quite easily - certainly within the industrialized world at any rate - the most dynamic and radical example of attempts at fashioning a left-wing alternative to the increasingly discredited policies and institutions of neoliberalism and capitalism. Relevant to Canada's Left? This is all very heady stuff. So heady, in fact, that it is tempting to see these developments in France as distant and exotic, of no particular relevance to our own work and debates here in Canada. That would be unfortunate. To be sure, there are important differences between the context and relationship of forces in the two countries. For one thing, today's protest movements are at least in part an extension of those that have shaken France since late 1995; and the initiative to found the NPA was taken only after a long, complicated and occasionally rancorous debate between the various political and social-movement forces involved in these movements in one way or another. It will certainly take time and a significant upsurge of protest and resistance in Canada before these kinds of debates get any kind of traction beyond the margins of political life here. Fundamentally, however, the strategic lay of the land in the two countries is not so dramatically different. Whatever the fate of Sarkozy's cabinet in the face of the present protest movement or of Sarkozy himself in the 2012 presidential elections, the NPA are under no illusions that there will be a serious breakthrough for anti-capitalists in the short term. Even in France, the relationship of forces and rules of the institutional game are firmly stacked against such an outcome. The NPA understand that they are just now entering a long period of rebuilding working-class and anti- systemic movements and of developing a new vision and strategy for enduring radical change. This is something the party's program describes as "21st century socialism," tipping its hat to the Bolivarian revolutionary process underway in Venezuela and other Latin American countries. What are the broad lessons we can take away from the French experience? For one thing, the protests and strikes, and the organizing that made them possible, show that resignation, panic and "everyone for themself" are not the only possible responses to the onset of economic hard times. While people will often respond in a conservative and individualist manner at the onset of a crisis, there comes a time when they realize that systemic issues are at play and that only broad, collective action and political alternatives will do. For another, the party and trade-union organizations of the traditional Left are too weakened and compromised by years of adaptation to neoliberalism and dependence on positions in parliament and the state to respond to the challenges thrown up by the hard-Right and the economic crisis. While rightly associated with a range of measures of socio-economic progress, the post-war mediations between the organized working classes, their party, trade-union and social-movement representation and the state itself were never ideal; but after 25 years of neoliberalism they have ceased even to be operative for some time now. In France, repeated waves of mass protest and organizing over the past 13 years have failed to halt the traditional Left's drift toward the Blairite "centre-Left." As the Right and ruling elites toy with various ineffective solutions to the crisis, the forces of the "centre-Left" will be quick to latch on to the handful of "stimulus" and ersatz "Keynesian" measures that are thrown into the mix to artfully declare a major breach in the neoliberal fortress. So the crisis is just as likely to deepen the rightward trend of the traditional Left and "centre-Left" as it is to push these forces in a more radical and combative direction. The new days of action in France provide further confirmation of this analysis. While they could not have occurred without trade-union unity at the top, this unity "from above" came about in response to pressure "from below" and simultaneously acts as a trammel on the further development of the current movement. The pressure "from below" has itself been the result of a surprising and noteworthy development - the confluence of a substantial segment of public opinion with radical sectors scattered across traditional and new trade-union groupings, local workplace and activist campaigns, the student and international-solidarity movements and the relatively small party-political organizations of the radical Left. How a `Radical Left' Can Get a Wide Hearing And this brings us to the particular significance of the NPA. It is as much a product of this surprising confluence of forces as it is a vital ingredient in ensuring that the present unity and momentum are not lost in the face of hard-Right intransigence and "centre-Left" weakness and perfidy. In other words, the debate on political strategy and organization now occupies centre stage; and the main lesson of the NPA's undeniable success is that a radical-Left political project can both receive a sympathetic hearing and play this strategically essential unifying and galvanizing role, on condition that: * Its message consistently targets the systemic origins of the crisis and identifies those responsible for bringing us to the brink of economic and ecological calamity. * It contains an iron-clad commitment to the broadest unity "in the streets" of all forces willing to oppose the right-wing agenda, overall and on an issue-by-issue basis. * It confidently enters the electoral, institutional and media fray but strikes a position of defiance and strict independence on the question of electoral and governmental agreements and alliances with the forces of the traditional "Left" and "centre-Left" (not to mention centre-Right forces such as those around Francois Bayrou in France and the Liberal Party here in Canada). These forces are beyond redemption as any kind of credible vehicle for popular aspirations and seek to govern at all costs - in practice along lines that vary only slightly from those of the Right and hard-Right. * It prioritizes work among those sectors of the population and country ignored or abandoned by the traditional institutions of the "Left" and "centre- Left." The NPA has, for example, made a priority of organizing in the working-class and immigrant areas that have been hit hard by neoliberal structuring and were the backdrop of the banlieues revolt of late 2005. This is why the topics of racism and the precarious work imposed on young people figure prominently in the NPA's internal discussions. * It aims to be a grassroots force, rooted in the actual struggles and debates of workers and young people, eschewing any kind of elitist, rigid and hyper-activist model of organizing and transformation, throwing its doors wide open to seasoned activists and interested newcomers alike, while creating a democratic and transparent framework for collective discussion, decision- making, action and the drawing of balance-sheets. * It takes a long-term approach to its project of social and political transformation and understands that we are in an extended period of resistance and development of alternatives to capitalism and imperialism. While history and politics always have surprises in store, especially in a period of deep crisis such as now, the relationship of forces is too unfavourable, and the vision of an alternative too weak, to expect major breakthroughs on an institutional level in the near term. Better to understand this and get down to the serious work of organizing and rethinking than to feed technocratic and armchair illusions about quick fixes and imminent elite-level "paradigm shifts." A New Generation's `New Left' Finally, the protest movements in France and the birth of the NPA inaugurate a new chapter in the life of the international radical Left, especially when viewed in tandem with the developments of recent years in Latin America. The fact that the main figure associated with events in France was born in the mid-1970s also signals the emergence of a new generation of radicals. We had a whiff of this trend during the wave of anti- globalization protests ushered in by the Battle of Seattle in 1999. But now it appears to be asserting itself much more forcefully, with a larger and more receptive audience than the one that existed just a short time ago. This, too, is a tremendously important and encouraging development. [Nathan Rao attended the founding convention of the NPA in Paris earlier this year. He lives in Toronto and is a supporter of the Socialist Project. He welcomes comments at natrao99 [at] gmail.com ] The Bullet is produced by the Socialist Project. Readers are encouraged to distribute widely. Comments, criticisms and suggestions are welcome. Write to info [at] socialistproject.ca The Bullet archive is available at www.socialistproject.ca/bullet For more analysis of contemporary politics check out 'Relay: A Socialist Project Review' at www.socialistproject.ca/relay --------14 of 15-------- The Campaign to Repeal the Nuclear Moratorium The Nuclear Industry Targets Wisconsin By DIANE FARSETTA March 27-29, 2009 CounterPunch Wisconsin law sets two conditions that must be met before new nuclear power plants can be built in the state. One is that there must be "a federally licensed facility" for high-level nuclear waste. In addition, the proposed nuclear plant "must be economically advantageous to ratepayers." It's a law that the nuclear power industry doesn't like. Given the near-death of the planned waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, and the estimated $6 to $12 billion cost (pdf) of building one nuclear reactor - not to mention the lack of interest from private investors and the tanking economy - Wisconsin's law effectively bans new nuclear plants in the state, for the foreseeable future. Earlier this year, the major U.S. industry group Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) registered four lobbyists in Wisconsin. NEI is lobbying state legislators on issues related to "nuclear generation ... engineering education and other issues related to state policies on energy, job creation, and environmental law," according to disclosure forms. It's the first time that NEI has had lobbyists in Wisconsin since at least 1996, though the group has organized public and media events here, especially in recent years. As it does on the national level, NEI argues that building new nuclear power plants would bring good jobs to Wisconsin while helping reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions, especially from coal-fired power plants. NEI's foray into Wisconsin politics is logical and not at all surprising - until you compare it to the group's apparent lack of interest in other states with similar laws. Moratorium nation Wisconsin passed its moratorium on new nuclear plants in 1983, the same year that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar measure in California. While the federal government decides "how to build and operate nuclear plants," the Supreme Court found that California's restrictions were allowable, as "Congress has not required States to 'go nuclear.'" California still bans new nuclear plants, until there is "a demonstrated technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste." The size of the state and its growing energy needs led the trade publication Nuclear News to call California (pdf) "critical, not just for the economic prospects of the nuclear industry but for the environmental impact on and energy supply adequacy for the nation's most populous state." Yet NEI doesn't have a single lobbyist in California. There are local people and groups who want to repeal the state ban. Assemblyman Chuck DeVore has tried repeatedly, through the legislature and through a ballot initiative campaign, even setting up a group called Power for California. However, NEI's involvement has been minimal. When the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group held its first public event in 2007, NEI's high-profile spokesman, former Greenpeace activist turned industry PR consultant Patrick Moore, was the main attraction. It's not just California and Wisconsin. More than a dozen states effectively ban new nuclear power plants. Minnesota law simply says the state will not approve "the construction of a new nuclear-powered electric generating plant," though a bill to repeal this language has been introduced. Connecticut has a moratorium similar to California's. Before West Virginia can consider a nuclear plant, there must be a waste facility "proven safe, functional and effective" over two years, and nuclear power must be "economically feasible." In Oregon, voters must approve all nuclear projects, and no nuclear plants can be built until there is a federally-licensed "adequate repository for the disposal of the high-level radioactive waste." Kentucky not only requires a high-level nuclear waste facility "in actual operation" by the time the new plant would require it, but also wants to know "the cost of [waste] disposal ... with reasonable certainty." (A bill to remove these restrictions is working its way through Kentucky's legislature.) Maine and Massachusetts also require an operational waste facility. Montana voters must approve building a nuclear power plant, its "radioactive materials" must "be contained ... with no reasonable chance of intentional or unintentional escape or diversion," and its owner must post a bond worth 30 percent "of the total capital cost of the facility," to ensure adequate funds to close the plant. Illinois requires either a federally-approved waste disposal strategy or the state legislature's approval for the project. New Jersey law necessitates a "safe ... proposed method for disposal of radioactive waste material." In Pennsylvania, a nuclear plant can only be built if it provides a cheaper alternative to coal plants, or if the energy needs cannot be met by coal. Of all these states, NEI has lobbyists in just three. Michael McGarey, of NEI's Washington DC office, is registered in Kentucky, where he reported lobbying expenditures in March 2008 and February 2009. McGarey's also a registered lobbyist in Pennsylvania, where he was active in early 2007. Then there's Wisconsin, where NEI recently registered four lobbyists: McGarey, two other DC-based employees and a Madison lawyer. That's not bad for a state where, even if the moratorium were repealed, "its [energy] demand growth may still be too modest to encourage new reactor projects," according to Nuclear News. Madison's pro-nuclear environmentalist NEI's man in Madison is Frank Jablonski, an attorney who specializes in environmental and consumer issues. He recently testified before two state legislative committees, urging them to repeal Wisconsin's moratorium. "Jablonski is the former general counsel of Wisconsin's Environmental Decade, the group now known as Clean Wisconsin," reported the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. At the same hearing, the current "head of energy policy" for Clean Wisconsin, a local environmental non-profit, "cautioned against expanding nuclear power in the state." Jablonski readily fits the "environmentalist who just happens to support nuclear power, much to the chagrin of their environmentalist colleagues" framing. NEI knows how well this storyline appeals to reporters. It's been wildly successful in presenting NEI consultants Patrick Moore and Christine Todd Whitman as environmentalists who just happen to support nuclear power, and the NEI-funded and Hill & Knowlton-organized Clean and Safe Energy Coalition as "a large grassroots coalition that unites unlikely allies." (To its credit, the Journal-Sentinel described Moore, who also addressed the joint committee hearing, as the head of "an energy coalition funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute.") Jablonski registered as an NEI lobbyist in February 2009, but previously supported nuclear power. At a March 2008 conference in Madison, Jablonski gave a talk titled, "Changing climate and changing understandings: Paths to new opinions on nuclear energy" (pdf). His profile for the event describes Jablonski as "formerly a member of the Sierra Club" who "recently crossed from the 'anti' to 'pro' side of the nuclear power debate." While still an "anti," Jablonski wrote in a 1995 op/ed column that "Wisconsin's low [electricity] costs were achieved largely because of laws and regulatory actions that the utilities adamantly opposed, such as the nuclear power moratorium." "Back in the early 2000s or thereabout, I decided that it was necessary to at least think about whether nuclear should be a possibility, given the circumstances that we're facing and what the scientists have told us about climate [change]," Jablonski told me. After three years of research, "I now favor the use of nuclear energy, its expansion and its further development." His relationship with NEI began at the March 2008 conference where Jablonski gave a pro-nuclear talk. "At that meeting, there were people from the Nuclear Energy Institute, and I hooked up with them," he explained. As an NEI lobbyist, he's met with state legislators and staffers "on both sides of the moratorium issue, to provide my perspective as an environmentalist who changed his position on nuclear." Asked how he discloses that he's an NEI lobbyist, when speaking publicly about nuclear power, Jablonski got defensive. "The NEI stuff is public record," he said, referring to Wisconsin's online registry of lobbying records. Although he describes himself as "an environmentalist who changed his position on nuclear," Jablonski speculated that "the reason that people focus on that environmental angle is because that's what makes it more arresting or interesting." With regards to the recent legislative hearing, Jablonski said, "When I did my testimony, it was invited. ... Did they mention that I was with NEI, in their list of stuff? I didn't even look." What about his 1995 contention that Wisconsin's moratorium on new nuclear plants helps keep state electricity costs low? Jablonski says that's no longer true, because "the cost overruns that nuclear facilities experienced in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when things went to hell for the business" are a thing of the past. That may be news to Finland, where work on a major nuclear reactor is more than three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, leading to legal disputes. "We're not lobbyists" Yet Jablonski's and his colleagues' lobbying is only one facet of NEI's efforts to change Wisconsin's law. Patrick Moore has visited the state at least twice, in the past four months. While in Madison for a November 2008 energy conference, Moore told me that the state's moratorium is "a bit too stringent and restrictive. ... I really do think it needs to be reworded, so that what we have is a requirement that the used nuclear fuel is safely and securely managed into the future." That can be achieved, he argued, by storing waste at nuclear plant sites for up to 300 years or until it can be reprocessed - or, as Moore called it, "recycled" - and again used to fuel reactors. Moore also met with local media, resulting in two anti-moratorium editorials from the Wisconsin State Journal in less than a week. "It should already be clear to lawmakers that the state can no longer afford to rule out the construction of nuclear power plants in Wisconsin," began the first column. The editorial went on to praise Moore, who it simply identified as an "environmental policy consultant." Moore must have been pleased. "I don't think it's a problem" when media outlets don't disclose his paid work for NEI, Moore told me. "Really what matters is that my support for nuclear energy is communicated." (Moore also told me he supports developing Alberta's tar sands, a particularly dirty source of oil, but that the extraction should be powered by "small nuclear plants" instead of natural gas, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.) In late February, NEI sent another branch of its PR arsenal to Milwaukee and Madison. Clean Energy America is "a group of nuclear energy experts who volunteer their time to raise awareness about the benefits of nuclear energy as a clean, reliable and affordable source of energy," according to its website. The site discloses that Clean Energy America is an NEI program. However, describing its participants as "volunteers" is a bit of a stretch. As Clean Energy America's Darren Gale and John Williams explained to me, they're paid for the time they give to the program by their employers, while travel, lodging and other expenses are covered by their employers or NEI. Like Moore's and Whitman's Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, Clean Energy America is funded by NEI and coordinated by a public relations firm. In Clean Energy America's case, the firm is Smith & Harroff. The Virginia-based firm has long worked for the nuclear power industry. In the 1980s, it set up a "nuclear industry speakers bureau" for Westinghouse, which later became NEI's "Energy America Program." The PR firm's website describes that program as "'truth squads' of scientists and engineers ... trained by Smith & Harroff to work with the media, then dispatched all over the country." Darren Gale drew a direct line from that earlier effort to Clean Energy America. "They did this twenty-five years ago," he told me. "So this is really the second time that the industry has set up a speakers program like this." Clean Energy America speakers visited six states in the program's first six months, including Florida, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. "The timing [of the visits] is usually associated with issues that a state might have, or a region might have," especially in "places that are actively discussing the new plant potentials," according to Gale. "The timing with Wisconsin is really around the moratorium," he said, but "please don't confuse us with lobbyists." Williams added, "When an issue [about nuclear power] pops up in the news, we like to be there to provide answers to questions." During their Wisconsin visit, Williams and Gale went on talk radio shows, met with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and spoke on the UW-Madison campus. Wisconsin as stepping stone? Legislative attempts to repeal Wisconsin's moratorium on new nuclear plants in 2003, 2005 and 2007 all failed, but the political ground on the issue has shifted. Last year, Governor Jim Doyle's Task Force on Global Warming came out in support of modifying the law. Their proposed changes would allow new nuclear power plants, if they meet "Wisconsin needs at a cost that is reasonable and advantageous to customers in comparison to alternatives," considering the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the nuclear waste plan is "economic, reasonable, stringent, and in the public interest" (pdf). A bill to implement the task force's recommendations, including the changes to the moratorium language, is currently being drafted. Since it will be part of a package supporting energy efficiency and renewables, and isn't an outright repeal, it's likely to enjoy wider support than the earlier bills. There are also new players lobbying to repeal or amend Wisconsin's moratorium. Not only will NEI be actively involved for the first time, but a new industry coalition called "Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin's Economy" recently formed to lobby in support of the task force's recommendations. Its members include Alliant Energy, the Wisconsin Energy Corporation and Xcel Energy. Then there are the usual suspects who lobbied in support of the previous moratorium repeal bills, such as Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group and labor unions representing electrical and construction workers. NEI may see Wisconsin as its best chance to finally get rid of a state moratorium. Madison-based NEI lobbyist Frank Jablonski speculated that the industry group may be focusing here because "the politics are more polarized in California," while the Wisconsin legislature has "a number of either open-minded or pro-nuclear Democrats." Moreover, NEI considers Wisconsin a "favorable" state, because it has "legislation in place that helps secure financing." However, its annual Wall Street briefing, delivered on February 12, 2009, did not place any potential new nuclear plants in the state (pdf, page 17). If Wisconsin amends or repeals its moratorium, it may help the nuclear industry convince other states to relax their restrictions, whether or not new nuclear plants are built here. But first, the people of Wisconsin will have their say, and the debate may be more contentious than NEI anticipates. Diane Farsetta is the Center for Media and Democracy's senior researcher. She participated in the "stridently anti-American" National Conference on Media Reform in Minneapolis, on a panel titled, "The Changing Role of Media Critics." She can be reached at: diane [at] prwatch.org [The fastest way to get a cushy corporate job is to start out with an anti-corporate/progressive/green/etc organization, and then sell out for a high price as "a treehugger who has seen the light". Some have speculated that many begin the process from the very first as a springboard to wealth. It seems to be effective. As for the unprincipled vermin that do it, there is an inner ring of hell reserved for them. -ed] --------15 of 15--------- Rich men defend their cash-wet-noodled manhood with ever longer yachts. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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