Progressive Calendar 03.29.09
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 Ségolène
Royal and centre-Right leader François 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.


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