Progressive Calendar 04.22.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 01:45:20 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.22.09

1. Protest foreclosures 4.22 9:30am
2. Homeless youth       4.22 11am
3. Mpls charter         4.22 11am
4. Campaign research    4.22 12noon
5. JeanEstime/GP/ward 8 4.22 4:30pm
6. Woodbury vs speech   4.22 7:30pm

7. OutFront lobby       4.23 9am
8. Don't enlist/resist  4.23 9:30am
9. Zero recruit/UofM    4.23 11am
10. Eagan peace vigil   4.23 4:30pm
11. Northtown vigil     4.23 5pm
12. WILPF potluck       4.23 6pm
13. Mpls city charter   4.23 6:30pm

14. Take back the night 4.24 5:30pm

15. John V Walsh   - Obama cowers before the health insurance industry
16. Ross & Rhee    - RFK Jr: Obama an indentured servant to coal industry
17. Alex Cockburn  - Thin ice from here to the horizon
18. Steven Salaita - Renouncing Israel on principle

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From: WRC alt email <welfarerights [at]>
Subject: Protest foreclosures 4.22 9:30am

As you know, the Welfare Rights Committee is an active memer of the MN
Coaltion for a People's Bailout. One part of our bill calls for a
moratorium on forclosures on owner-occupied homes. The case of Coalion
member Rosemary Williams is a prime example of why this moratorium is
needed. Please join us as we stand in solidarity with her in struggle.

Neighbors, friends and community organizations
Rally & Intervene in Court on Rosemary Williams Eviction Case.
Wednesday, April 22, 9:30 a.m.
Outside Hennepin County Government Center

Rosemary Williams, a 55-year resident of the Central Neighborhood, in
south Minneapolis will be going to court the morning of April 22, where
she will face evictions proceedings from her foreclosed home. Rosemary's
decision to fight the eviction and stand up to foreclosures has drawn
broad community support.

Prior to the court hearing, Rosemary Williams will be speaking at a 9:30
press conference and protest organized by the Poor Peoples Economic Human
Rights Campaign and the MN Coalition for a Peoples Bailout. Other
organizations backing the effort include;

ACORN, MN Tenants Union, and CANDO.

Rosemary Williams states, "Housing is a human right and we need a
moratorium on home foreclosures.  I am taking a stand for all people
facing homelessness from foreclosures and evictions from foreclosed
properties. We can not be sacrificed to the greed of bankers and mortgage

Cheri Honkala, of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, states
"Rosemary Williams is on the front lines of the fight against
foreclosures.  We are organizing in our neighborhood and our neighbors are
behind her. We will do everything in our power to prevent her eviction."

In the April 22 Court appearance, attorneys for Rosemary Williams will ask
the judge to allow her to stay in her home, while the legal issues
relating to her case are sorted out.

Specifically, the attorneys will argue that her eviction, which will lead
to another vacant home, would create a public nuisance for the entire
neighborhood. Low income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people
of color have been the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. Hundreds of
residents of the Central Neighborhood and other concerned people have
signed legal requests to intervene in her legal case on these grounds.

Linden Gawboy, of the MN Coalition for a Peoples Bailout states, "Rosemary
Williams is helping to build the movement against home foreclosures and we
will fight with her every step of the way."

For more information contact:
Linden Gawboy / Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout @ 612-296-5649
Cheri Honkala  / Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign @ 267-439-8419

Welfare Rights Committee PO Box 7266 (3104 16th Ave S), Mpls, MN 55407
612-822-8020 Primary email: welfarerightsmn [at] Secondary email:
welfarerights [at]

--------2 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Homeless youth 4.22 11am

PLEASE SHARE ON YOUR LISTS/CALENDARS:come see film & bring various items
needed by homeless youth--list included below

A new documentary
Homeless Youth: Finding Home and a chance to help our own MCTC students
Wed, April 22 from 11am-1pm,
Helland Student Life Center
on Hennepin Ave. @ 15th, DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS

Did you know that?
 22,000 youth are homeless in MN every year?
 An estimated 700 to 1,650 young adults ages 18-21 experience
homelessness nightly?
 Children represent more than half of the hungry who visit food shelves?
 In 2007, 300 MN food shelves were visited 1.9 million times? (By
hunger solutions)
 Some of our own MCTC students are impacted by hunger and homelessness?

Join us for a viewing and hear real life stories from our own MCTC
students on hunger and homelessness.
Help us meet some of the most basic needs of our students. Please bring
non-perishable food and personal care items the week of April 20-April
24th, 2009 . We will also accept donations day of screening.
Drop-offs at Counseling and Student Life Center.
Proceeds will be distributed to our MCTC students on April 29th
(location to be announced).

Some items recommended:

Canned/preserved meats, chicken, salmons or tuna
Canned/boxed fruit juices Jam and jelly, peanut butter
Dry pasta, rice, beans
Cooking oil
Potatoes (packaged)
Spices ( or salt and pepper)
Tea, coffee, sugar
Baking/pancake mixes/dessert mixes
Toothpaste/toothbrush Toilet paper
Dish detergent Lotion, deodorant
Diapers (all sizes)  Bath soap/laundry soaps
Cooking sauces/seasoning or gravy packets/spaghetti sauce

Sponsored by: Office of Resource and Referral, Power of You Club, Dean of
Academic Students & Multicultural Student Success, Youth Moving Forward
Agenda, Student Life, Center for Civic Engagement, Academic Dean and HPHC.

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From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Mpls charter 4.22 11am

Tune in and Donate to TRUTH TO TELL - 612-375-9030

After over 100 years, the Minneapolis Charter Commission will hear
comments on several major revisions, which, if passed by city voters in
November, would radically change the way Minneapolis is governed.  One
converts the archaic language of the charter itself into plain English.
Three others submitted by some councilmembers propose significant changes
in how the city would be run, including 1)  creation of the office of City
Administrator (replacing the currently appointed Coordinator's position);
2) eliminating altogether the Minneapolis Park Board and 3) the Board of
Estimate and Taxation, rolling all those responsibilities into the City
Council and Mayor's offices. TTT'S ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN
talk with supporting and opposing officials about the history of those
bodies, the impact of their creation/elimination, and what citizens might
expect in the wake of such radial change: Accountability? Efficiencies?
Autonomy? Focus?  Tune in and talk with our guests. How would you vote on
this today?

 CAM GORDON - Minneapolis Ward 2 City Councilmember
 PAUL OSTROW - Minneapolis Ward 1 City Councilmember
 ANNIE YOUNG - Minneapolis At-Large Park Board Commissioner
 CAROL BECKER - President, Mpls. Board of Estimate and Taxation (Elected
 JIM BERNSTEIN, Chair, Minneapolis Charter Commission
AND YOU! CALL IN - 612-341-0980

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

From: joan [at]
Subject: Campaign research 4.22 12noon
    Campaign Strategy

Join in the next Organizer Roundtable discussion on how research can increase
the credibility and strengthen the positions of your organizing campaigns.

The Role of Research in Effective Campaign Strategy
Noon - 1:30 pm, Wednesday, April 22
Alliance for Metropolitan Stability
2525 E Franklin Avenue, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN  55406

Our presenters will discuss how they have used research to influence
decision-makers, and will engage participants in a discussion about practical
research applications in organizing campaigns. We will also discuss research
resources available to organizations in our metropolitan region.


Jeff Corn, community programs assistant at the Center for Urban and
Regional Affairs. Jeff is providing administrative and program support to
CURA's three community-based research programs.

Andrea Lubov, retired economist and member of Jewish Community Action.
Andrea provided vital statistical research for the Stops for Us campaign
in making the case for the Hamline, Victoria and Western stations on the
Central Corridor LRT.

Geoff Maas, GIS manager at the Minnesota Center for Environmental
Advocacy. Geoff has more than a decade of experience in urban and regional
planning, geographic information systems and cartography.

Organizer Roundtables are free but registration is required.
Please register at

Light snacks will be provided. Please bring your lunch!

We hope to see you there! Please contact me with any questions. Joan
Vanhala, Coalition Organizer 612-332-4471 <email obscured> Joan Vanhala
Phillips, Minneapolis Info about Joan Vanhala:

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From: press [at]
Subject: Jean Estime/GP/ward 8 4.22 4:30pm

Jean Estime City Council Ward 8 612-395-5333

For more information contact
Farheen Hakeem 612-432-6806 or press [at]

For immediate release:                                                  April 
20, 2009

Press Conference:
Wednesday April 22, 2009 4:30PM
Sabathani Community Center
Room 218
310 East 38th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55409

Jeanine Estimé, a 15 year resident of South Minneapolis is entering the
City Council Ward 8 race.  She will be seeking the Green Party
endorsement.  Jeanine, who currently serves on the Steering Committee of
the 5th Congressional District Green party, holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts
from Metropolitan State University.

According to the City of Minneapolis website, Ward 8 has the third highest
number of foreclosures in the City of Minneapolis, effecting over 800
homes.  Estimé sees concerns that residents have, especially those that
rent, are not addressed and opportunity to alleviate worries is greatly
needed.  "As a single parent and a renter, I understand the growing needs
of the community and the much needed visibility for a strong voice in City
Hall," Estimé explains.

Estimé is campaigning on issues of youth programming, environmental
sustainability, housing, and civil rights.  Her vision includes:
 Eliminating cuts to the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department
 Preventing youth violence by using private and public funds to
create youth programming
 Support businesses that will produce alternative energy use
 Encourage new businesses, such as Trader Joes, to open in North

Estimé continues to say, "There is a great potential to bring more
resources to our ward, and I am encouraged by the support I have received
to run."

Jeanine Estimé is announcing her candidacy on 4:30PM Wednesday April 22,
2009 at Sabathani Community Center Board Room, Room 218.

For more information contact press [at]

--------6 of 18--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Woodbury vs speech 4.22 7:30pm

Attend City Council Meeting to Fight Back!
Wednesday, April 22  7:30 p.m.
8301 Valley Creek Rd, Woodbury
Carpool leaving 6:30 p.m. from Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

On Wednesday, April 22, the Woodbury city council is expected to vote on
an ordinance banning residential picketing.

This ordinance is being proposed in response to a half dozen pickets that
happened at the homes of 3M executives this past summer because of 3M's
connection to an animal testing company called Huntingdon Life Sciences.
The police themselves have stated that no laws were broken, the protesters
were peaceful, and the protesters even cooperated with the police when
asked to leave.

Please come out and help prevent another attack on First Amendment rights.
A carpool will be leaving the Walker Church at 6:30 SHARP to be at the
city council meeting (8301 Valley Creek Road) by 7:30.  If you have a car,
please bring it with because it is likely we won't have enough cars. -- If
your not able to make it to the meeting, or even if you are, please call
the Woodbury city council and voice your opposition on Wednesday, April 22

Mayor William Hargis: (651) 739-1040
Council Member Paul Rebholz: (651) 735-7864
Council Member Mary Giuliani Stephens: (651) 739-1242
Council Member Julie Ohs:  (651) 735-5325
Council Member Amy Scoggins: (651) 702-0075

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From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: OutFront lobby 4.23 9am

April 23: OutFront Minnesota's justFair Lobby Day. Lobby Day from 9 -
11:45 AM. Rally for Fairness at Noon. Meetings with Legislators all day.

--------8 of 18---------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Don't enlist/resist 4.23 9:30am

"Zero Recruitment: Don't Enlist! Resist!" Press Conference and
Demonstration to Oppose Recruitment

Thursday, April 23, 9:30 a.m. Knollwood Mall, Parking Lot (by the
Knollwood sign), Highway 7 and Texas Avenue, St. Louis Park. President
Obama has failed to keep his promise of ending the U.S. war on Iraq. His
plan to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq through 2011 will continue an
unjustified military occupation for almost three more years. An escalation
is planned for Afghanistan, where Obama just deployed 17,000 additional
troops. Maintaining these wars and occupations requires military
recruiters to entice young people with false promises. Recruiters, who
already disproportionately target low-income people, will use the economic
crisis to intensify pressure on vulnerable youth. We have to shatter the
illusion that the war is ending and that new soldiers won't have to
fight. On April 23, 2009, actions will occur simultaneously at recruiting
centers across Minnesota. All will have the shared goal of opposing the
wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and opposing military recruiting that day.
WAMM members will protest outside Knollwood Mall. Initiated by: the Anti-
War Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM.

--------9 of 18--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Zero recruit/UofM 4.23 11am

Zero Recruitment Day at the University of Minnesota Thursday, April 23 @
11am - 1pm @ 806 Washington Ave. SE Army Recruiting Station, 806 Washington
Ave. SE, Minneapolis (near corner of Washington & Oak Street

On April 23, 2009, different actions, will occur simultaneously at
recruiting centers across Minnesota. All will have the shared goal of
opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and preventing military
recruiting that day. Join us at the University of Minnesota to help make
this day a success. Organized by U of MN sds.

Meredith Aby

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From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 4.23 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.

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

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.23 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

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

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: WILPF potluck 4.23 6pm

April 23. Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, Minnesota
Metro Branch Potluck and Festive Membership Drive Kickoff. 6 PM at
Riverview Towers, 1920 South 1st Street, West Bank, Minneapolis.

--------13 of 18--------

From: Ian Stade <ianstade [at]>
Subject: Mpls city charter 4.23 6:30pm

The Charter Commission is having four public hearings about the proposed
changes to the City Charter by city councilmembers Ostrow, Remington and
Samuels.  The elimination of the park board, the board of estimate and the
creation of a city administrator are all being proposed.  Please show up
and give us your opinion. [Anyone for condos in Loring Park? -ed]

Thursday, April 23, 2009 - 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Minnesota Transitions School (Board Room)
2872  26th Ave S
Minneapolis  MN  55406
Phone:  612-722-9013

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
North Regional Library
1315 Lowry Ave N
Minneapolis  MN  55411
Phone:  612-630-6600

Thursday, April 30, 2009 - 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Northeast Library
2200 Central Ave NE
Minneapolis  MN  55418
Phone: 612-630-6900

Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
St. Joan of Arc Church (lower level)
4500 Clinton Ave S
Minneapolis  MN  55419
Phone:  612-823-8205

From shove001 [at] Wed Apr 22 01:46:44 2009
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 13:52:21 -0500 (CDT)
From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
To: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: Your E-Consortium Note for April 21

--------14 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Take back the night 4.24 5:30pm

April 24: Many Consortium member groups are co-sponsoring Take Back the
Night. Join them and others in Taking Back the Night from gender and
sexuality-related violence. The annual march and rally tells the Twin
Cities that everyone should be safe to walk in the streets, and that
sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the other -isms that make us
targets of violence and harassment will not be tolerated. The evening will
feature live music by Sleeper and the Sleepless and No Bird Sing, keynote
speech by State Senator Sandra Pappas, author Patricia Weaver Francisco,
OutFront MN organizer Kelly Lewis, and will be emceed by
Scholar/Activist/Drag Queen Esme Rodriguez. 5:30 - 10 PM at the State
Capitol Lawn, Saint Paul.

--------15 of 18---------

Obama Cowers Before Insurance Industry
Code Red for Single Payer
April 21, 2009

Many activists have worked tirelessly for decades to win single payer, aka
national health insurance, aka Medicare for all.  Rallies, letters to
legislators, binding and non-binding referenda in many states have all
been tried.  The one clear result is that 66 per cent of the public now
favors single payer.  The battle of ideas has been won.  And now at this
moment of opportunity when the health care system is in a very deep crisis
with increasing numbers unemployed and hence in need of health insurance,
all may be lost - and that due to the very man, Barack Obama, whom so many
of these same activists worked so hard to elect.  Such a betrayal is

Obama betrays single-payer movement to insurers.

At the White House Conference on Health Care Reform several weeks back
Obama made it abundantly clear that single-payer was off the table.  Not
so much as one single payer advocate was invited while the room was
stuffed to the gills with representatives of the insurance industry and
CEO's of every stripe.  Several weeks earlier at a White House meeting of
the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. John Conyers, the author of H.R. 676,
the House single-payer bill asked Obama if he might attend along with a
physician advocate of single-payer.  In an email reply, Obama said no.

In response Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and other
organizations threatened a demonstration of docs in white coats in front
of the White House on the day of the conference.  Obama quickly reversed
himself and admitted Conyers and PNHP president, Dr. Oliver Fein, to the
conference.  So far so good.  The threat was an exercise in power and it
worked.  It also demonstrates that Obama does respond to pressure - but
not to polite requests.  Very important.

However, Obama also made it clear Conyers and Fein were to sit down and
shut up, unlike Karen Ignani, spokesperson for the insurers who was a
prominent speaker.  Unfortunately Fein and Conyers obeyed.  In my
estimation, this was a mistake as was the decision to cancel the
demonstration without gaining more from Obama.  Imagine if Dr. Fein had
spoken up; imagine if he had to be forcibly excluded from the conference.
Single payer would have been put before the nation right then and there.
The admission of Fein and Conyers to the forum has been presented as a
victory and I suppose it was a small and partial one.  But it was
certainly a lesson, one that should not be forgotten or have to be

Obama has organized a series of regional health care forums and at none of
them have single payer advocates been invited to address the room or join
the discussion - the forums are by invitation only.  I was part of a
single-payer demonstration at the one for New England in Vermont hosted by
Obama's buddy, Mass governor Duval Patrick.  As at the White House, some
single-payer advocates managed to get in but they did not challenge
Patrick or by extension Obama.  With two hundred others we demonstrated
outside for single payer.  I was bowled over when the principal physician
speaker at the demonstration proclaimed, "President Obama is on our side.
But he cannot put his foot in the water for us because it is shark
infested."  As she explained, the sharks in this case are the insurers.
Is that not another way of saying that Obama has sold out to the insurers?

Our group joined the demonstration with a banner reading:

On Single Payer.
2003: "It's the Best".
2009: Get Lost. (1)

And so it is.  Obama rose to prominence in Chicago in part by pledging to
labor and to prominent activists, like national PNHP coordinator, the wise
and witty Dr. Quentin Young, once upon a time Obama's personal physician,
that he was committed to single payer.  And you can be sure that Obama was
thoroughly educated by Quentin Young on single-payer.  But Young somewhat
ruefully admitted to Amy Goodman that Obama was "dishonest" on
single-payer (2).  That is another word for liar.  And here is Dr. David
Himmelstein, a founder of PNHP and one of its leading thinkers, on Obama:
"The President once acknowledged that single payer reform was the best
option, but now he's caving in to corporate healthcare interests and
completely shutting out advocates of single payer reform," Himmelstein
said. "The majority of Americans favor single payer.."  And yet if one
looks at the PNHP web site home page there sits a picture of Obama
embracing Quentin Young.  Strange tribute to a sworn adversary, but a sign
of confusion about Obama that reigns in all too many quarters.

So let us be clear.  Obama is not on the side of single-payer - far from
it.  He has actively sought to remove it from public consideration.  It
may be hard for some to see Obama as the enemy since he is an appealing
persona, a physically attractive man in appearance and speech, a
politician of color, and one who looks especially good after years of
Bush.  But the Bush standard is a low bar indeed, and persona is no
substitute for policy.  Health care reform is not a matter to be judged
according to the values of People magazine or by wishful thinking or a
desire to be "part of the crowd"; it is a life and death matter for
millions of people in this country.

How to win the Medicare-like option in the Obama plan.  Make the perfect
the ally of the apparent good.

Some now argue that Obama must be supported, because he will include a
public sector, Medicare-like option for everyone in his "reform" plan.
The insurers will not be able to compete, or so goes the argument, and
hence they will eventually be driven from the scene.  So do not give Obama
too much flack, we are told.  However, it is unclear whether this option
is presented by Obama in a serious way.  Jack Beatty of the Atlantic said
on April 17 on NPR that the White House is sending out signals it is
backing off this option in the face of insurance industry opposition.  And
the Wall Street Journal and others are already assailing this option as a
disguised assault on the health insurance industry and the American free
enterprise system and liberty itself.

Let us suppose that you are a supporter of this public sector,
Medicare-like option and that you are interested in the tactics to win it.
What is the best path?  I submit that the best path is an all-out battle
for single payer.  In that way, the public sector option is the compromise
position between all-out insurance company domination and single-payer.
It permits politicians who might want single payer to say to the insurers:
"Give me this public sector option, because I need to give my constituents
that - at the very least".  It is horse trading, of course - but that is
what tactical politics is all about.  In other words the perfect can well
be the ally of the apparent good - to alter a well-worn phrase used to
discredit single payer.  To give up on single payer or to fight for it
half-heartedly will only make the eventual outcome worse.  And of course
this strategy also opens the possibility that single-payer might prevail.
And would that not be sweet.

So job one now is to get single-payer back on the table.  This will not be
easy.  In some sense we are now in a worse state now than we were in the
early 90s when the Clintons raised the issue of health care reform.  At
that time there was much debate about single payer, and the newspapers
were filled with charts comparing it to the convoluted plans put forward
by the Clintons. Obama has been much more successful in serving the
insurance industry and paralyzing the single-payer movement than the
Clintons ever dreamed of.

Now the question is how to get single payer back on the table.  It would
be a profound mistake to see the main effort as educational.  Single
payer, aka Medicare for All, is easily understood; and 67 per cent of the
American people already support it.  The battle of ideas has been won.
Now we must win the political battle.  And that cannot involve polite
discourse alone.  Obama needs his progressive base to win election again -
as do many congress members.  Simply put, we must tell Obama and company
that this base will desert them if we get only McCain lite from them.
That is the key; without that we have no leverage.

Militancy will be necessary.  Non-violent civil disobedience must be
considered.  Congressional offices and Obama appearances must be targeted
for forceful and plain-spoken demonstrations - not polite tete a tetes out
of the public view.  And there is urgency to this.  The Congresspeople and
the president must be put on notice that we will not support them if they
do not meet our demands.  No more Mr. Nice Guy on the movement's part.

Many people have worked for many decades trying to win single-payer.
What a tragedy it would be if we allowed ourselves to be diverted by a
deceptive Messiah at a moment of possible breakthrough. Both PNHP and are willing to continue the battle, but too many
others are not.  This must change.  The specifics of the struggle will
demand imagination, militancy and more.  But if we do not fight, we surely
will not win.

John Walsh is an activist in PNHP. He also ran for Congress twice in the
early 90s on a single-payer platform, inter alia, but lost each time by
about 1 million ..dollars. He can be reached at john.endwar [at]

--------16 of 18--------

Published on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 by ABC News
RFK Jr. Blasts Obama as 'Indentured Servant' to Coal Industry
Critics Say Clean Coal Is a Boondoggle; 'Clean Coal Is a Dirty Lie'
by Brian Ross and Joseph Rhee

"Clean coal is a dirty lie," says environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.,
who calls President Barack Obama and other politicians who commit taxpayer
money to develop it "indentured servants" of the coal industry.

Despite a series of expensive false starts and failures, President Obama
proposed $3.4 billion in stimulus legislation to fund continued research
on "clean coal" projects.

"Clean coal is like healthy cigarettes, it does not exist," says former
Vice President Al Gore.

The coal industry has been running a multi-million dollar advertising
blitz to promote the theory that coal can be made clean, using one of
Obama's campaign speeches in its television commercials.

"You can't tell me we can't figure out a way to burn coal that we mine
right here in the United States and make it work," says Obama in the
commercial, which ends with on-screen words: Yes We Can.

The "clean coal" theory is that coal's dangerous global warming gas,
carbon dioxide, can be captured and sent by pipeline to be buried deep in
the earth.

"It is the dirtiest of all fuels that we know of," said Bruce Nilles of
the Sierra Club, which says talk of "clean coal" is designed to put off
efforts to wean the country off coal.

"Today in the United States, most of the pollution is coming from coal
burning power plants," said Nilles.

After 24 years and billions of dollars spent trying, there is still no
operating coal power plant using "clean coal" technology.

"How many such plants are there?" asked former Vice President Gore at a
the Clinton Global Initiative last year. "Zero. How many blueprints?

                 Clean Coal Projects Abandoned

What was to be the premier "clean coal" project in Mattoon, Illinois, was
abandoned last year by the Bush administration when the projected cost
doubled to nearly $2 billion.

"It has suffered the same fate as other clean coal efforts, it simply
became too expensive and doesn't work," said Tom Schatz, of the
organization Citizens Against Government Waste.

A similar project in southern California, announced with great fanfare,
was also abandoned after environmental concerns were raised by local

A third "clean coal" project set for Indiana, was put on hold when the
money ran out.

"Carbon capture, storage technologies are expensive," concedes Steve
Miller of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry
group. "They are high risk ventures."

Half of the electricity in the United States is produced through burning
coal, and given the worldwide dependence on coal, the industry says
there's no choice but to keep trying to make clean coal technology work.

"It's the only way to have affordable, reliable energy and also meet our
environmental ethic," said Miller of the industry group.

Despite the failures, "clean coal" got new life during last year's
Presidential campaign when both major candidates endorsed the concept as
they campaigned in coal-producing states.

The coal industry contributed $15.6 million to all federal campaigns in
the last election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The McCain campaign received $302,000 from coal industry-connected
contributors. Obama received $242,000.

"It's a sad testament to the impact of campaign contributions, our system
and the political clout of this industry that you have very sensible
politicians, including great men like Barack Obama, who feel the need to
parrot the talking points of this industry that is so destructive to our
country," said Kennedy, who was reportedly under consideration as Obama's
Environmental Protection Agency director.

The battle over "clean coal" is being played out now on cable news
channels, where both sides have run a series of advocacy commercials.

          Coen Brothers Produce Anti Clean Coal Ads

To counter the coal industry's commercials with President Obama,
environmental groups have used wicked humor.

Showing an empty field, the announcer says, "Clean coal, heard a lot about
it, so let's take a look at the clean coal state of the art facility.

Another commercial, produced by the Coen brothers, shows a man spraying
black coal dust. "It smells so clean," the announcer says. "Clean coal
harnesses the awesome power of the word 'clean' to make it sound like the
cleanest clean there is. Clean coal is supported by the coal industry, the
most trusted name in coal."

The coal industry is unbowed. "I feel like we can be the good guys here,
and we have to be the good guys here if we're really going to address
climate change," says Miller of the industry group.

Copyright  2009 ABC News Internet Ventures

--------17 of 18--------

Thin Ice From Here to the Horizon
April 17-20, 2009

On any rational assessment the popular new president is skating on thin
ice. Pollyanna bulletins about the economy puff up from the White House
and Federal Reserve, like auguries of a new Pope through the Vatican
chimney. "Habemus spem". We have hope. We've just heard it from President
Obama: "We are starting to see glimmers of hope across the economy." From
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who's so far unleashed $12 trillion in booster
money, we get the always sinister reassurance, like Death giving the
Appointee in Samarra a friendly tap on the shoulder, "the foundations of
our economy are strong".

The economic news in the near and medium term is ghastly, as Mike Whitney
outlined on this site last Thursday. Retail sales crashed again in March,
nowhere worse than in the car market, though electronics and building
materials were way off too. They now reckon there'll be just over two
million housing foreclosures in 2009, up 400,000 from 2008. Industrial
output is going through the floor at an annual rate of 20 per cent, the
biggest quarterly drop since the end of the Second World War. US industry
is now running at only 70 per cent of capacity, the worst number since
they started tracking this stat in 1967. Job losses are currently running
at 650,000 a month.

Round the next corner is credit card delinquency and the long-heralded
slump in commercial real estate, where vacancy rates are already running
at 15 per cent. Capital One, a huge issuer of Visa and Mastercard, just
said the annualized net charge-off rate for U.S. credit cards -- debts the
company reckons will never be paid -- rose to 9.33 percent in March from
8.06 percent in February. In other words, Capital One - whose credit card
promotions take up hefty space in the mailbag of every US postman - is in
big trouble, and under one in ten of these credit card holders will have a
messed up credit rating for several years to come.

Wall Street and its boosters are trying to pretend that indeed the worst
is over. The Dow and S&P Index have been rallying for five weeks. Wells
Fargo, the huge San Francisco-based bank, second biggest home lender,
announced that first quarter net income rose 50 per cent to $3 billion.
No one seriously believes the bank is in anything other than continuing
huge trouble, and will soon need - so Blomberg News surmises - $50 billion
to settle near-term commitments. The profit figure stems from newly
relaxed rules about the valuation of Wells Fargo's assets.

In other words it's thin economic ice from here to the horizon. Robert
Reich, now teaching economics at Berkeley and formerly labor secretary in
the Clinton administration, wrote a piece recently, titled "Why We're Not
at the Beginning of the End, and Probably Not Even At the End of the
Beginning". There are huge problems with the whole orientation of the US
economy. The "free market" outsourcing model has failed. Even at the best
of times the US consumers who account for over 70 per cent of all economic
activity in the country, don't have purchasing power to keep the whole
show on the road, unless they put it on the credit cards which are now
maxed out and going into default, or borrow on houses they can't afford.

Amid a hail of well founded criticism from liberal and conservative
economists alike, Obama, with Geithner, Summers and Bernanke at his elbow,
remains absolutely committed to giving the bankers everything they ask
for, trillion upon trillion.  As William Black, deputy director at the
former Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. during the thrift crisis
of the 1980s, recently remarked in an acrid interview in Barron's,
(reprinted here last week) "Unless the current administration changes
course pretty drastically, the scandal will destroy Obama's
administration, both economically and in terms of integrity. We have
failed bankers giving advice to failed regulators on how to deal with
failed assets. How can it result in anything but failure?"

In foreign policy the ice is just as treacherous. As the nation emerges
from its disastrous adventure in Iraq, Obama redeploys to the
Afghan-Pakistan theater. The administration delightedly touts claims that
its remote-controlled missiles are decimating al-Q'aida. The
Washington-based journalist Gareth Porter last Thursday cited here data
leaked by the Pakistani government showing that only ten out of 60 drone
attack in February and March hit al Qaida leaders and the rest did what
bombs and missiles usually do, namely kill civilians, 537 of them - thus
immeasurably strengthening the hand of the Taliban in the battle for
hearts and minds.

Obama is no doubt unworried by this since the hearts and minds he's mostly
interested in belong to the American people and especially opinion-forming
elites, who remain unflustered when high explosive falls on a wedding
party in Waziristan. Failure in Iraq was re-labeled "victory" and in terms
of domestic politics the chickens only come home to roost when there's
film of people climbing off the roof of the US embassy into a helicopter,
or when the casualty rates among US soldiers start soaring. Soaring
Pentagon budgets are popular with Congress, whose members nix any effort
to cut back.

Where the ice is giving way for Obama is among those who thought he might
strike out in a new direction in foreign policy. There's not much sign of
that. Whether it's a sell-out of Haiti's poor or acquiescence in Israel's
grim plans for the Palestinians, Obama's game is strictly business as
usual, up to and including the Cuban blockade whose damage, as Fidel
Castro said here last week, "cannot be calculated only on the basis of its
economic effects, for it constantly takes human lives and brings painful
suffering to our people. Numerous diagnostic equipment and crucial
medicines --made in Europe, Japan or any other country-- are not available
to our patients if they carry U.S. components or software".

Obama has welshed on promises that America will stop kidnapping its
enemies and "rendering" them to secret prisons overseas. As under Bush,
enemy combatants languish without rights or recourse in prisons like
Bagram. The torturers who flourished in the Bush years will not be
prosecuted. Electronic eavesdropping continues unabated. It seems, so
CounterPunch's Fred Gardner is reporting in exclusives on this site, he
and his attorney general are welshing on commitments not to harass medical
marijuana operations in states where local laws sanction such activity.

Will the liberal-left mutiny? Never. Remember, Bill Clinton bombed
Yugoslavia and kicked away life supports of America's poorest and most of
the liberal-left stayed loyal to the end and cherish his memory. The labor
movement has already seen defeat for its cherished "card check" bill,
designed to win a level playing field for union organizers, thus
presumptively boosting effective purchasing power among working people,
vital to the nation's economic well-being.  They're not really blaming
this on Obama, even though it is his chief aide, Rahm Emmanuel who, in his
years on the Hill, picked Democratic candidates who feel no loyalty to
labor and refused to push for the card check bill, and though Obama
recently stressed he is a "new" Democrat - transparent code for someone
distancing himself from the labor movement.

Obama's polling numbers remain good. He has only to say there are
"glimmers of hope" and the pollsters duly find increasing sentiment among
Americans that they feel the economy is moving in a "positive" direction.
He gets good assessments from Democrats and Independents. Many Republicans
don't like him but here again Obama is lucky, just as he was lucky - at
least in the near term - to have three Navy SEALS off the horn of Africa
who were good shots. The Republican opposition is in appalling shape,
lumbering from one ill-conceived stunt to the next.

Obama's lucky to have succeeded a terrible president. He gets out a lot
and talks a great game. His problem is the same as the country's. The
economic ice is cracking under his feet, and the "stimulus" is going to be
about as efficacious as those cushions under the seats the flight
attendants assure us are going to come in handy when the plane goes down
in the North Atlantic.

--------18 of 18--------

Renouncing Israel on Principle
by Steven Salaita
Disssident Voice
April 20th, 2009

A few years ago I was asked to give a presentation at my alma mater on the
1948 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Deir Yassin. Despite a nasty cold
on the day of the talk, I grabbed a page of horrifying statistics and a
handful of tissues and headed off to criticize Israel, wondering how many
Zionists would come out and complain this time.

It turned out that I had only one dissenter (from an admittedly small
audience), an old professor of mine whose intellect and pedagogical style
I had admired as a student (and still admire as a professional). I took
three classes with this professor, finding all three valuable and
interesting. I knew at the time that he was Jewish, just as he knew that I
was Arab, but we transcended assumed political differences through a
mutual passion for literature. I am still indebted to him for having
written me a generous letter of recommendation for graduate school.

When my old professor turned up for the presentation, I had a feeling that
he wouldn't like what I was about to say despite the fact that I carefully
avoided polemics and prepared a factual account of Israel's early war
crimes, referencing standard historiography. I struggled not to cringe
when he raised his hand immediately after I finished speaking. A minute
later we were arguing vocally with one another. I was mildly enjoying the
opportunity to have at it with a former mentor and authority figure, but
disturbed by the vitriol of his reaction to what I conceptualized as a
tepid presentation. I've certainly said worse things about Israel on other

We soon reassumed our composure and attempted to think through our
discrepant viewpoints. As audience members and the event organizer,
another former professor of mine, interjected their commentaries I could
see my antagonist growing progressively agitated.

"You don't believe in the right of Israel to exist," he suddenly declared.
I was taken aback not by the intimation of the declaration, but by the
fact that nowhere in my prepared comments or in our argument did such a
topic arise.

"I don't think anybody here has heard me say anything about destroying
Israel, professor," I responded coolly. He wouldn't drop the subject,
though, bringing it up over and again, each time impelling me to affirm
Israel's right to exist. Each time, I ignored him or flatly refused. He
left the event shaking, inconsolable despite the doting of the event

There are lots of reasons why I declined my former professor's demand that
I recognize Israel. The first reason is practical: I never advocated for
its destruction, and so it seemed peculiar to be asked to affirm its
existence. Nobody has ever asked me to affirm another nation-state's
existence, a demand that I would in any case likewise decline. Like
anybody who values humanity above capital and hierarchy, I believe it is
people and not national institutions that require our empathy and
attention. Besides, I was unhappy with the congenital violence implicitly
ascribed to me while Israel's entrenched violence, which I had spend 45
minutes illuminating, once again benefitted from an uncritical perception
as normative.

The other reasons for my reluctance to acquiesce to my former professor's
peculiar demand are philosophical and political. It is remarkably brazen
for a nation founded on the destruction of Palestine and now embroiled in
vicious forms of ethnic cleansing to ask the victims of its malevolence
for recognition. It is also a rhetorical trick that scarcely conceals some
propitious imperatives: the legitimization of Israel as a Jewish-majority
state; the whitewashing of Israel's ugly past; tacitly absolving Israel of
its immoral behavior; the privileging of Israel's needs at the expense of
basic recognition of Palestinian needs.

I have no desire to encourage these imperatives. Even if I did have the
desire, I don't have the authority: it is not up to me or to any other
individual to relinquish Palestine under the pressure of a spuriously
humanistic insistence by Zionists that their perfidy be excused because it
will somehow make me a more respectful and responsible person.

Many people, anyway, have written in more detail about the insidiousness
underlying affirmations of Israel's "right to exist," a phrase so
ambiguous it should invoke any thinking person's suspicion. Rather than
limiting my discussion to philosophical, political, and practical factors,
I'd like to mention a worthy psychological reason to refuse the demand
that anybody who wants to enter into a conversation about the
Israel-Palestine conflict must first proclaim devotion to Israel's
existence: principle.

Indeed, I would suggest refusing to acquiesce on principle. Zionists hold
nearly all the power in the Israel-Palestine conflict and much of the
power in the culture wars the conflict inspires. They have more funds,
better access to corporate media, and the backing of the American
military. The Palestinians, however, hold one form of power that doesn't
require money, media sympathy, or weaponry: the legitimacy that Zionists
so desperately want us to confer to Israel. It is a small power, one
without a material apparatus, but it is power, nevertheless, one I am
unwilling to relinquish, one I have no moral obligation to relinquish.
Zionists already took Palestine. Now they're trying to appropriate our
right to resist, too.

I am happy, eager even, to affirm the right of Jewish people to live in
peace and security, wherever that may be, a right that all humans deserve
in no particular order of worthiness. But I won't celebrate Israel's
bloody founding and its goal of retaining a juridical ethnocentrism.
Ultimately, when Zionists demand that you affirm Israel's right to exist,
what they are really asking for is your validation. Don't give it to them.
Until Israel treats the Palestinians equally and humanely, it won't have
earned the right to a celebrated existence.

Steven Salaita's latest book is The Uncultured Wars: Arabs, Muslims, and
the Poverty of Liberal Thought.


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