Progressive Calendar 05.10.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sun, 10 May 2009 16:18:14 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   05.10.09

1. Justice/Fong Lee 5.11 8:45am
2. Housing for all  5.11 9:45am
3. Project homeless 5.11 10am
4. MN health $$$    5.11 12noon
5. No new MN nukes  5.11 3pm
6. Massad/Islam     5.11 5pm
7. Peace walk       5.11 6pm RiverFalls WI
8. Peace/raid       5.11 6:30pm
9. GP 3CD meeting   5.11 7pm

10. NWN4P vigil     5.12 4:45pm
11. RNC court watch 5.12 6pm
12. Poetry happens  5.12 6:30pm
13. Solar/heat/elec 5.12 6:45/7pm

14. Ralph Nader         - Stop the single payer shut-out!
15. Margaret Flowers MD - Why we risked arrest for single-payer
16. Donna Smith         - Mother's Day: health insurance plans & Mr Baucus
17. Sharon Smith        - Something stinks at Whole Foods
18. David Macaray       - Heads business wins, tails labor loses
19. ed                  - bumpersticker

--------1 of 19--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com>
Subject: Justice for Fong Lee 5.11 8:45am

JUSTICE FOR FONG LEE!
RALLY FOR JUSTICE FOR FONG LEE
Unarmed man killed by Minneapolis cops
Monday, May 11, 8:45 a.m.
Federal Courthouse
316 N Robert Street, St. Paul

Parking/transportation
Shuttle buses will be available starting at 8:00 a.m. from Lao Family
Community of Minnesota, 320 W University Ave, St. Paul
OR meet at 8:00 a.m. at Joseph's Grill, 140 Wabasha St S, St. Paul,
and march with others across the Robert Street bridge to the Courthouse

On July 22, 2006, Fong Lee was riding his bike with friends when
Minneapolis cop Jason Andersen and state trooper Craig Benz decided a
little "aggressive policing" was in order.  They rode their squad car up
on the group of young men and, according to several witnesses, hit the
rear tire of Fong's bike.  Fong either fell or jumped off the bike as the
officers ran out of their squad car.  Andersen was pointing his gun as he
chased Fong through a school playground.  Andersen shot Fong 4 times in
the back.  As Fong lay dying, Andersen shot him 4 more times.  31 seconds
after the start of the encounter, Fong Lee was dead.  Throughout the
entire ordeal, Benz never pulled his weapon.

MPD Lies and Corruption
After the killing, MPD claimed Fong had a gun.  However, witnesses and
evidence point strongly to a gun being planted on the scene by cops.  The
gun cops claim was recovered next to Fong's body was in their property
room up to the time of the shooting and was likely brought on the scene by
a sergeant.  The gun had no fingerprints, DNA or blood on it.  Further,
Fong had a defensive wound in the palm of his dominant hand.  The squad
car video was rendered useless because it remained in the squad car to
which Andersen had access for 10 days after the incident and has,
according to experts, been partially erased.  What the cops didn't count
on is a video of the incident captured by a camera at the school.  That
video clearly shows that Fong never had a gun.

Case of Extreme Importance to Community
This case is emblematic of all that is wrong with the MPD and the judicial
system that backs them up.  Racial profiling, corruption, manipulation of
evidence and outright lies are all part of this case.  Immediately after
the incident, cops went into spin mode to dirty up Fong Lee with lies that
he was a gang member or criminal (he was neither).  An internal
non-investigation exonerated Andersen and a bogus grand jury process gave
prosecutors political cover not to prosecute Andersen.  The story about
the gun has changed at least three times.  Hennepin County if fighting
tooth and nail to block release of the grand jury transcript even to the
Lee family's lawyers.  On top of everything else, the MPD spit in the face
of the community by pinning a medal of "valor" on Andersen.

Lee Family Seeks Justice--Stand with Them!
The Lee family has always held that their son was murdered by Andersen
based on race.  They have bravely stood up to the lies and corruption of
the MPD and continue to press forward, recognizing the importance this
case has to the community.  We must stand with this family as they try to
bring at least some good out of Fong's death by forcing this system to be
accountable and as they push for changes to prevent such tragedies in the
future.  This case goes to court on May 11 and there is a rally outside
the courthouse.  WE NEED YOU THERE to show the courts that the community
supports the Lee family's demands for justice.

Rally sponsored by Coalition for Community Relations, Communities United
Against Police Brutality, Lao Family Community of Minnesota, Inc.,
Minneapolis NAACP, Take Action Minnesota.

JUSTICE FOR FONG LEE! TAKE AWAY ANDERSEN'S MEDAL! INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR!
PROSECUTE KILLER COPS!


--------2 of 19--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Housing for all 5.11 9:45am

Show Public Support for Housing for Everyone! Attend Committee Meeting at
Minnesota House of Representatives
Monday, May 11, 10:00 a.m. (Be in place there at 9:45 a.m.) (Confirm
meeting time at People's Bailout web site www.mn-peoples-bailout.org or
Senate web site www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/hinfosched.asp or Chair
Karen Clark's phone: 651-296-0294), Housing Finance and Policy and Public
Health Finance Committee Meeting of the Minnesota House of
Representatives, North State Office Building, Room 500, Chair: Rep. Karen
Clark. Moratorium on foreclosures.

From the Minnesota People's Bailout:
"The People's Bailout housing bill (HF-2233) calls for a one to two-year
moratorium on house foreclosures. It also calls for letting tenants keep
their leases when their building is foreclosed upon. Here are just a few
reasons why a moratorium is needed now:
 Save Our Homes - We keep hearing about programs in the pipeline to help
people, BUT they aren't taking effect yet. We NEED a 1-year moratorium so
people and banks have time to get together to work out a deal.
 Protect Innocent Renters - Renters need the option of keeping their
existing leases. Many renters don't even know their landlords are getting
foreclosed on; they have been paying rent, assuming it was going to the
mortgage. There are also cases where "landlords" take the security deposit
and disappear! Let renters keep the leases.
 Save Neighborhoods, the Tax Base, Housing Stock and Investments - When
houses (or apartments) go empty, everyone suffers. Housing values go down
and there are health and safety issues. Empty houses turn into trashed
houses. Lower property values mean less $ for local governments. Trashed
houses mean less money when the banks try to re-sell the house. Keep
people housed, keep properties maintained, and even keep some money going
to the lender.

At the Capitol, powerful politicians have so far stopped the legislative
progress of the bill. But the MN Coalition for a Peoples Bailout will use
every means necessary to get it passed this year. We expect that the
Minneapolis City Council will agree, as they passed almost unanimously a
resolution put forward by the People's Bailout and supported by the
citizenry to keep people in their homes.


--------3 of 19--------

From: Todd Heintz <proud2liveinjordan [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Project homeless 5.11 10am

Project Homeless Connect
Monday, May 11, 2009, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Convention Center

WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Ending homelessness, one person at a time.
Project Homeless Connect is a one-stop shop model for delivering services
to people experiencing homelessness. Hennepin County and the City of
Minneapolis are partnering with service providers, businesses, citizens,
and faith communities to bring multiple resources to one location where
people can come to find the services they need. These services include:
housing providers, employment specialists, medical care, mental health
care, benefits specialists, eye care, haircuts, transportation assistance,
food and clothing.

December success
At Project Homeless Connect on December 8, 2008, nearly 1800 individuals
experiencing homelessness were assisted by more than 1500 volunteers in
accessing services at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The number of
guests served was fewer than the previous event but the number of services
accessed was greater. 196 people completed housing applications and 28
received foreclosure prevention counseling. 17 were placed on a housing
wait list, 4 received rent assistance and 3 secured housing the day of the
event. 105 people received a free health assessment followed by on-site
health care services and 296 received dental assessments. 13 received
vouchers for free dentures. 60 received prescription eyeglasses while 248
received reading glasses. Over 500 obtained vouchers for shoes and 700
received free state IDs and birth certificates. 221 accessed legal
services while 322 completed employment applications. 48 people were
placed in jobs. 82 received help with benefits from veterans services,
Social Security, and community action agencies. 334 received haircuts and
122 set up free voicemail accounts.

Email us at : projectconnectmpls [at] gmail.com or visit our web site to donate
securely online through Network for Good. The only donations being
accepted for the May 11 Homeless Connect are cash contributions. Neither
clothing nor any other goods will be accepted for the May 11 Homeless
Connect

Patricia McHugh, Volunteer Coordinator PROJECT HOMELESS CONNECT


--------4 of 19--------

From: Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition <info [at] muhcc.org>
Subject: MN health $$$ 5.11 12noon
Action Alert - May 11 Rally on the Budget Crisis

Dear members of MUHCC and supporters of single-payer health care,

"Invest in Minnesota" is a coalition of Minnesotas faith community, labor,
and nonprofit organizations that are responding to the budget crisis with
a demand to balance spending cuts by raising revenues fairly.

"Invest in Minnesota" is sponsoring a rally at the State Capitol Rotunda
on Monday May 11th from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm. We urge all our supporters to
attend and to spread the word. A flyer is available here:
http://www.investinmn.org/docs/investinmn511capitolevent.pdf.

The governors budget has devastating cuts to health and human services
which would, among other things, kick over 113,000 people off Minnesota
Care. While the mission of our organization is to enact the Minnesota
Health Plana sustainable, cost-effective and equitable solution to the
health care crisiswe cant stand by while thousands lose their current
coverage.

The Minnesota Health Plan made substantial progress this session: There
were three hearings and many more legislators signed on in support (now
over 1/3 of the legislature). Minnesota Health Plan hearings are done for
2008 and we are already working on our legislative strategy for next years
session. We believe that the cost containment in the Minnesota Health
Plan, once enacted, will help prevent budget show-downs in the future.

What remains to be done this session is to agree on a budget. Please let
the Governor know that budgets have significant human consequences and
that we will stand together to assure that this budget is fair. We urge
you to participate in this rally and to contact your legislators.

If you plan to lobby, you can get tips here:
http://www.muhcc.org/resources/activisttoolkit#lobbying


--------5 of 19--------

From: PRO826 [at] aol.com
Subject: No new MN nukes 5.11 3pm

This looks like a very important meeting to attend.
Monday, May 11, 2009 - 3:00 PM
Conference Committee on S.F.  550
Chairs: Sen. Yvonne  Prettner Solon and Rep. Bill Hilty
3 p.m.  Room 112 Capitol
SF 550/HF 863
Agenda:
S.F. 550-Prettner  Solon: Omnibus energy conservation provisions;
nuclear power plant  certificate of need issuance prohibition
elimination (Overview of  side-by-side comparison).


--------6 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Massad/Islam 5.11 5pm

Monday, 5/11, 5 to 7 pm, Columbia U Middle East languages and cultures
prof Joseph Massad speaks on "Psychoanalysis, Islam and the Other of
Liberalism," Nicholson Hall room 135, 216 Pillsbury Dr SE, Mpls.
http://ing.cla.umn.edu/events/


--------7 of 19--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 5.11 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


--------8 of 19--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Peace/raid 5.11 6:30pm

May 11: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates 11th Day
Prayer for Peace. Prayer Service on the Anniversary of the Postville
Immigration Raid. 6:30 PM at Presentation of Our Lady Chapel, 1884
Randolph Avenue, St. Paul.


--------9 of 19--------

From: "Allan Hancock" <3rdcdgreenparty [at] gmail.com>
Subject: GP 3CD meeting 5.11  7pm

3rd Congressional District Green Party Members,
Rm 172 at Ridgedale Library Monday,
May 11 at 7PM.
All 3rd Congressional District Green Party members and anyone interested
in learning about the Green Party values are invited to a meeting at the
Ridgedale Library Rm 172
Agenda: To talk about legislative issues and upcoming events.

Allan Hancock, Chair 3rd Congressional District Green Party Local


--------10 of 19--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P vigil 5.12 4:45pm

NWN4P vigil every Tuesday.
Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM.
All welcome; bring your own or use our signs.


--------11 of 19--------

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com>
Subject: RNC court watch 5.12 6pm

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

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

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

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com
THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!


--------12 of 19--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Poetry happens 5.12 6:30pm

Tuesday, May 12 it's poetry. I have Mary Oliver's new book and want to
share some of her poetry, so please bring some of your favorite poet's
poetry, too.

Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


--------13 of 19--------

From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu>
Subject: Solar/heat/elec 5.12 6:45/7pm

On Tuesday 5.12 7pm
Southside Energy Commons presents
Ralph Jacobson, of Innovative Power Systems, speaking on solar heating &
electricity (see info below)
Doors open 6:45; starts PROMPTLY at 7pm.
Second floor loft above Blue Moon/Mill City Music at 39th and EAST Lake.
Get coffee desserts sandwiches at Blue Moon, bring them up.

20-30 minute presentation, 60 minutes Q&A and discussion.
Overflow talk can last till 9:15pm, at which time some will retire to
Merlin's Rest Pub, where we will be energizing our social molecules while
our brains rest.

Requested issues:
What are the best uses of Solar?
Is it practical to put in neighborhood or block generators?

More questions: What is its overall efficiency, including EROEI.  What
other technologies might supplement it?  What is it's capacity for
replacing fossil fuel in the Twin Cities?  What do you say we need to be
thinking about and doing to meet our energy needs while reducing our
carbon output?  What is the Carbon cost of production for solar...the
total Carbon costs?

-from an article on Ralph Jacobson:

Back in the '70s, Ralph Jacobson had an epiphany while passing out
antinuclear petitions. "I'd get into debates with older guys - who were
younger then than I am now - who would ask me, 'So, if we're not going to
use nuclear power, then what are we going to use?'" recalls Jacobson,
founder of Innovative Power Systems, a designbuild contractor of solar
energy systems headquartered in Minneapolis. "As soon as I started talking
about solar power and wind, I realized, 'Here I am, 22, and I don't know
what I'm talking about.'"

Jacobson decided that, if he truly believed in solar power, he should try
to make it work instead of simply spouting rhetoric. "That remains one of
my main motivations," he says. "I take great pleasure, every time we bring
another system on line, in saying, 'Okay, we made another one work.'"

Jacobson, whose company has designed and installed more than 300 solar
energy systems since he started in his garage in 1991, has seen plenty of
ups and downs in the industry. The fact that solar power had fallen out of
favor after the natural gas industry began to be deregulated in the late
1970s didn't deter him from pursuing an engineering degree with
aspirations of landing a job in designing and installing solar heating
systems.

But until recently, solar power was hardly an easy sell. "Just five years
ago, I was trying to market solar technology to architects, but I couldn't
get them to take it seriously," he says. "Even if they were personally
interested, they had the perception that they'd be considered flaky by
potential customers. Now it's really turned around. I've got architects
calling me frequently because there's some competition in the industry
about who can be the greenest."

Solar power is enjoying a resurgence chiefly because of rising costs for
traditional energy sources. "Deregulating natural gas in the '80s brought
the price down because there was a lot of it around," Jacobson says. "Now,
however, sources of natural gas are in danger of being fully depleted."

According to Jacobson, solar energy systems eliminate uncertainty because
all the costs, aside from annual maintenance fees of 1 to 2 percent, are
paid up front. Residential solar heating and solar electric systems
typically run from $10,000 to $40,000, with payback taking 13 to 18 years.
For commercial heating systems, payback comes in 5 to 10 years. Payback
for solar electric systems generally takes 20 to 30 years for residential
systems, and 8 to 12 years for commercial. (Commercial payback is shorter
due to a federal tax subsidy for such systems.)

"Most of our customers have been people of means and strong ideals,"
Jacobson says. "They're willing to pay what it takes to have solar or wind
power so that they can reduce their environmental footprint. Essentially,
our customers are people who think like I do."

Ninety percent of Innovative Power Systems' business is solar, which is
evenly split between heating and electric systems; the remaining 10
percent is wind power systems. Sales in 2006 reached $1.8 million, nearly
three times as much as the year before.

"The solar industry developed a bad track record in the '80s," Jacobson
says. "When salesmen were out there showing the price of natural gas going
up forever, and then it falls to half of what it had been, they were
discredited. So I tend to be pretty cautious about making wild
predictions. I want people to pick solar energy because it's the right
thing for them."

-from his web site:

www.ips-solar.com
1153 16th Ave Se
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 623-3246

IPS Solar & Wind is the upper Midwest's leading solar
energy contractor.
We specialize in solar electric, wind electric and solar heating systems
for homes and businesses. We have designed and installed hundreds of solar
energy systems since 1991.

Your solar heating system saves you money by minimizing the impact of
volatile natural gas and propane rate hikes on your budget. You enjoy the
freedom and security of being your own power producer when you utilize the
limitless, reliable energy from the sun. The higher your current gas or
propane bill is, the more money your solar heating system will save you.
And, as the cost of natural gas and propane increases, so do your savings.
Your solar heating system will pay for itself, something your current gas
or electric heater will never accomplish.

Your property value increases when you become your own power producer.You
become more of an energy owner rather than an energy renter.  A recent ICF
consulting study determined that every dollar saved in annual utility
bills can add $20 to your home's market value.

Your solar heating system is affordable, reliable, and hassle-free. It is
designed to last for decades with little or no maintenance. It works with
your existing water heater and furnace, so you'll always have plenty of
hot water and heat - at less cost to you.

Solar heating systems are great for business applications. As the cost of
natural gas and propane increases, many owners and managers are realizing
that energy costs can have a substantial effect on business profits. Your
solar heating system is built to work for decades and will pay for itself
many times over.

Your solar electric system helps create energy independence for our
nation. It is one of the best resources for creating homeland security.
Our country's dependence on foreign energy is minimized when you use
sunlight to create electricity rather than expensive fossil fuels. Your
solar heating system is affordable, reliable, and hassle-free. It is
designed to last for decades with little or no maintenance. It works with
your existing water heater and furnace, so you'll always have plenty of
hot water and heat - at less cost to you.


--------14 of 19--------

Stop the Single Payer Shut-out!
by Ralph Nader
Saturday, May 9, 2009
CommonDreams.org

Among the giant taboos afflicting Congress these days is the proposal to
create a single payer health insurance system (often called full Medicare
for everyone).

How can this be? Don't the elected politicians represent the people? Don't
they always have their finger to the wind?

Well, single payer is only supported by a majority of the American people,
physicians and nurses. They like the idea of public funding and private
delivery. They like the free choice of doctors and hospitals that many are
now denied by the HMOs.

There are also great administrative efficiencies when single player
displaces the health insurance industry with its claims-denying,
benefit-restricting, bureaucratically-heavy profiteering. According to
leading researchers in this area, Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Stephanie
Woolhandler, single payer will save $350 billion annually.

Yet, on Capitol Hill and at the White House there are no meetings,
briefings, hearings, and consultations about kinds of health care reforms
that reform the basic price inflation, indifference to prevention, and
discrimination of health insurers.

There is no place at the table for single payer advocates in the view of
the Congressional leaders who set the agenda and muzzle dissenters.

Last month at a breakfast meeting with reporters, House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi (D-CA) responded to a question about health care with these
revealing and exasperating words: "Over and over again, we hear single
payer, single payer, single payer. Well, it's not going to be a single
payer."

Thus spake Speaker Pelosi, the Representative from Aetna? Never mind that
75 members of her party have signed onto H.R. 676-the Conyers single payer
legislation. Never mind that in her San Francisco district, probably three
out of four people want single payer. And never mind that over 20,000
people die every year, according to the Institute of Medicine, because
they cannot afford health insurance.

What is more remarkable is that many more than the 75 members of the House
privately believe single payer is the best option. Hillary Clinton, Barack
Obama, Ted Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi are among them. But they all say,
single payer "is not practical" so it's off the table.

What gives here? The Democrats have the procedures to pass any kind of
health reform this year, including single payer. President Obama could
sign it into law.

But "it's not practical" because these politicians fear the insurance and
pharmaceutical industries - and seek their campaign contributions - more
than they fear the American people. It comes down to the corporations, who
have no votes, are organized to the teeth and the people are not.

So, when Senator Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a
large recipient of health insurance and drug company donations, held a
public roundtable discussion on May 5, fifteen witnesses were preparing to
deliver their statements. Not one of them was championing single payer.

As Senator Baucus started his introductory remarks, something happened.
One by one, eight people in the audience, most of them physicians and
lawyers, stood up to politely but insistently protest the absence of a
single payer presentation.

One by one, the police came, took them out of the hearing room, arrested
and handcuffed them. The charge was "disruption of Congress" - a
misdemeanor.

They call themselves the "Baucus Eight". Immediately, over the internet
and on C-Span, public radio, and the Associated Press, the news spread
around the country. You can see the video on singlepayeraction.org.

To the many groups and individuals who have labored for single payer for
decades, the Baucus Eight's protest seemed like an epiphany.

Dr. Quentin Young, a veteran leader for single payer and a founder of
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) e-mailed his reaction:
"For our part, when the history of this period is written, we believe your
action may well be noted as the turning point from a painful, defensive
position to a more appropriate offensive position vis-a-vis Senator Baucus
and his health industry co-conspirators."

Webster's dictionary defines "taboo" as "a prohibition against touching,
saying, or doing something for fear of a mysterious superhuman force." For
both Democrats and Republicans in Congress it is a fear of a very
omnipresent supercorporate force.

However, moral and evidential courage is coming. On May 12, 2009, Senator
Baucus is having another roundtable discussion with thirteen more
witnesses, including those from the business lobbies and their
consultants. Word has it that the Senator is about to invite a leading
single payer advocate to sit at the table.

Here come the people! Join this historic drive to have our country join
the community of western, and some third-world, nations by adopting a
state of the art single payer system.

Visit singlepayeraction.org and break the taboo in your region.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent
book is The Seventeen Traditions.


--------15 of 19--------

A Statement From the Baucus 8
Why We Risked Arrest for Single-Payer
By MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D.
CounterPunch
May 8-10, 2009

On May 5, eight health care advocates, including myself and two other
physicians, stood up to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the Senate Finance
Committee during a "public roundtable discussion" with a simple question:
Will you allow an advocate for a single-payer national health plan to have
a seat at the table?

The answer was a loud, "Get more police!" And we were arrested and hauled
off to jail.

The fact that a national health insurance program is supported by the
majority of the public, doctors and nurses apparently means nothing to
Sen. Baucus. The fact that thousands of people in America are dying every
year because they can't get health care means nothing. The fact that over
1 million Americans go into bankruptcy every year due to medical debt -
even though most of them had insurance when they got sick - means nothing.

And so, as the May 5 meeting approached, we prepared for another one of
the highly scripted, well-protected events that are supposed to make up
the "health care debate" using standard tools of advocacy. We organized
call-in days and faxes to the members of the committee requesting the
presence of one single-payer advocate at the table of 15. Despite
thousands of calls and faxes, the only reply - received on the day before
the event - was, "Sorry, but no more invitations will be issued".

We knew that this couldn't be correct. We had heard Sen. Baucus say on
that very same day that "all options were on the table". And so, the next
day, we donned our suits and traveled to Washington. We had many
knowledgeable single-payer advocates in our group. And as the meeting
started, one of us, Mr. Russell Mokhiber, stood up to say that we were
here and we were ready to take a seat. And he was promptly removed from
the room.

In that moment, it all became so clear. We could write letters, phone
staffers, and fax until the machines fell apart, but we would never get
our seat at the table.

The senators understand that most people want a national health system and
that an improved Medicare for All would include everybody and provide
better health care at a lower cost. These facts mean nothing to most of
them because they respond to only one standard tool of advocacy:  money,
and lots of it.
[Don't you just love the rich? And their pol tools? -ed]

The people seated at the table represented the corporate interests:
private health insurers and big business and those who support their
agenda. The people whose voices were heard all represented organizations
which pay huge sums of money to political campaigns. These interests
profit greatly from the current health care industry and do not want
changes that will hurt their large, personal pocketbooks.

And so, we have entered a new phase in the movement for health care as a
human right: acts of civil disobedience. It is time to directly challenge
corporate interests. History has shown that in order to gain human rights,
we must be willing to speak out and risk arrest. We must engage in actions
that expose corporate fraud and corruption. We must make our presence
known.

And that is why the eight of us, knowledgeable health care advocates and
providers, most of us parents, some of us grandparents, spoke out
one-by-one at the Senate Finance Committee. And it is why we will continue
to speak out and encourage others to do the same. Our voices must be
strong enough to drown out the influence of corpo rate dollars.

Health care must become the civil rights movement of this decade. The
opportunity is here. And we can create a single-payer national health care
system.

Yes, we can.

[I agree - health care is big enough to break the hold of the rich,
because FINALLY we have an issue WE WILL INSIST ON. -ed]

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician in the Baltimore are and co-chairs
the Maryland chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP).
Her statement was co-signed by Mark Dudzic, Labor Campaign for Single
Payer; Russell Mokhiber, Single Payer Action; Carol Paris, M.D., PNHP;
Katie Robbins, Healthcare-NOW!; Pat Salomon, M.D., PNHP; Adam Schneider,
B.more Housing for All; and Kevin Zeese, ProsperityAgenda.us.



--------16 of 19--------

Happy Mother's Day from America's Health Insurance Plans and Mr. Baucus
by Donna Smith
Saturday, May 9, 2009
CommonDreams.org

Wow. America's Health insurance Plan's (AHIP) czar - and the woman our
Congress and president have anointed as the nation's architect of health
reform - has offered a gift to all of America's moms and women. The
health insurance industry will stop charging you more - they'll stop
discriminating against you - so long as all of you are legally forced to
buy their product.

It sounds to me a little like the old saw, "When did you stop beating your
wife?" But then when I really thought about it, it made me sicker and
sadder and more acutely aware of exactly what this nation's leaders think
of all of the mothers and daughters in the land this Mother's Day 2009.

Here's how the New York Times' Robert Pear wrote it, "Insurance companies
offered Tuesday to end the practice of charging higher premiums to women
than to men for the same coverage.

Karen M. Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade
group, made the offer in testifying before the Senate Finance Committee."

Yes sir and yes ma'am, Mr. Pear. Karen's going to stop beating us real
soon. I don't buy that for a moment until they actually go all the way
back and acknowledge the fact that the men who impregnated the women
charged more for their gender-based ability to be impregnated are made to
pay up for all the losses women have suffered at the hands of this
unscrupulous industry.

Never mind for one moment that the single payer point of view was
systematically shut out of that hearing and nearly all others (as
evidenced by the arrests of eight advocates this week at the same hearing
- though Mr. Pear chose not to report on those arrests, favoring to lead
his piece with an Ignagni tribute).

If we could go back and try to fix the damage from the admitted industry
discriminatory practices, how do we charge for the lost lives? The moms
who buried children they couldn't afford to buy insurance for? The moms
who suffered severe illness and unthinkable pain because Karen and crew
deemed them uninsurable?

Now they want to charge women the same as men for this defective product
that has been allowed to cause hundreds of thousands of women and kids to
suffer?

I've heard some friends in political circles say that Karen Ignagni and
AHIP are not the real problem in this health care travesty of a U.S.
healthcare system. Some say it's the Dems and the Congress that fail to
act that are the real problem, that Karen is just doing the job she's paid
so very well to do.

Can't buy that one. It would be like folks saying Hitler wasn't the real
problem behind the Holocaust and that the folks who ignored him or feared
him were really to blame.

Karen and AHIP have given us exactly the same sort of death and
destruction as any of the other major human rights disasters over the past
century have done, including the Holocaust. These people are the
architects of pain and of long and prolonged suffering for millions of
women and kids and families. All for the almighty buck.

So now that in 2009, just in time for Mother's Day, she has agreed to stop
charging more for health insurance for women, it does not mean she's
agreed to stop the death marches across time for millions of people who
will not be able to access the best level of care that this nation has to
offer.

Sen. Baucus, and all of his committee members on the Senate Finance
Committee, are the observers of an American tragedy. And if Hitler had
appeared before them in 1944 and said he'd stop gassing the Jews, what
would our Senate have said to him?

Here's what I wish they had said in 2009 to the for-profit health
insurance industry folks who have overseen the suffering and deaths of so
many women for decades.

And as soon as Ms. Ignagni opened her mouth and acknowledged publicly the
discrimination against the mothers of this land, you'd think one of them
might have stood for us all and said, "We find it wholly unacceptable that
you have violated if not the letter than the clear purpose and intent of
the law of this great United States of America in which we have determined
some time ago that women are equal citizens to men, mothers are equal to
fathers, and therefore entitled to equal treatment. And as a consequence,
we - the U.S. Senators elected to serve the women and men of this land -
find you unacceptable to participate in the delivery of healthcare, a
basic human right, in these United States."

The house would have come down in honor of that Senator and the Senate
would have finally honored all moms and children and dads and families in
this great debate. It's not too late. It could still happen.

Happy Mother's Day.

Donna Smith is a community organizer for the California Nurses Association
and National Co-Chair for the Progressive Democrats of America Healthcare
Not Warfare campaign.


-------17 of 19--------

Union Busting in Hippie Clothing?
Something Stinks at Whole Foods
By SHARON SMITH
CounterPunch
May 8-10, 2009

Whole Foods Market is a highly profitable corporation that far outperforms
its competitors, while maintaining an aura of commitment to social justice
and environmental responsibility. Its clientele is attracted not only to
its brightly lit array of pristine fruits and vegetables, organically
farmed meats, and delectable (yet healthy) recipes, but also to the notion
that the mere act of shopping at Whole Foods is helping to change the
world.

In 2007, Whole Foods launched its "Whole Trade Guarantee," stating its aim
as advancing the Fair Trade movement - encouraging higher wages and
prices paid to farmers in poor countries while promoting environmentally
safe practices. In addition, Whole Foods announced that 1 percent of
proceeds will be turned over to its own Whole Planet Foundation, which
supports micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Meanwhile,
the company's Animal Compassion Foundation seeks to improve living
conditions for farm animals, while stores periodically hold "5 Percent
Days," when they donate 5 percent of sales for that day to an area
non-profit or educational organization.

Whole Foods also has a distinctive reputation for rejecting traditional
corporate management models in favor of decentralized decision-making,
described as an experiment in workplace democracy. There are no
departments at Whole Foods stores, only "Teams" of employees. And Whole
Foods has no managerial job titles, just Team Leaders and Assistant Team
Leaders. Nor does the company admit to having any workers, only Team
Members who meet regularly to decide everything from local suppliers to
who should get hired onto the Team. Generally, the company strives to
achieve consensus at Team meetings, where workers brainstorm about new
ways to raise productivity. And new hires need to win the votes of at
least two-thirds of Team Members in order to make the cut.

The liberal dress code at Whole Foods allows nose rings, Mohawks, visible
tattoos and other expressions of individuality to help promote its stated
goal of  "Team Member Happiness" for its relatively young workforce. Each
Team takes regular expeditions, known as "Team Builds," to local farms or
other enterprises to educate themselves on how to better serve their
customers. When Team Members show extra effort on the job, Team Leaders
award them with "High Fives" that can be used to enter an onsite raffle to
win a gift card. When a Team Member gets fired, it is sadly announced as a
"separation".

For all its decentralization, the "unique culture" so beholden to Whole
Foods' supporters bears the distinct stamp of its cofounder and CEO, John
Mackey, who declared in 1992, a year after Whole Foods went public, "We're
creating an organization based on love instead of fear." The former hippie
is known for shunning suits and ties and wearing shorts and hiking boots
to meetings - and for insisting that before the end of every business
meeting, everyone says something nice about everyone else in a round of
"appreciations". In a 2004 Fast Company article, business writer Charles
Fishman favorable quoted a former Whole Foods executive calling Mackey an
"anarchist" for his eccentric executive style.

***

But something sinister lurks beneath the surface of Whole Foods'
progressive image. Somehow, Mackey has managed to achieve multimillionaire
status while his employees' hourly wages have remained in the $8 to $13
range for two decades. With an annual turnover rate of 25 percent, the
vast majority of workers last no more than four years and thus rarely
manage to achieve anything approaching seniority and the higher wages that
would accompany it. If Whole Foods' workers are younger than the
competitions', that is the intention.

But another secret to Whole Foods' success is its shockingly high prices.
When Wal-Mart began promoting its own organic products last year, Whole
Foods' Southwest regional president Michael Besancon scoffed at the notion
that Wal-Mart could present serious competition. "There's no way in the
world that we'd win a price battle with Wal-Mart," he told the Rocky
Mountain News. "I'm relatively smarter than that." On the contrary, Whole
Foods orients to a higher income clientele willing to pay significantly
more for somewhat higher quality foods. Whereas the average supermarket
chain's profits traditionally hover at around 1 percent, Whole Foods was
able to sustain a profit margin of 3 percent for 14 years after it went
public in 1992. After hitting a low of 1 percent in the economic downturn
in late 2008, "now the margins are expanding again," according to the
Cabot Report's investment adviser Mike Cintolo on April 26th.

Indeed, Mackey is no progressive, but rather a self-described libertarian
in the tradition of the Cato Institute. He combines this with a strong
dose of paternalism toward the company's employees. Mackey complained
about his unique dilemma at the helm of Whole Foods to fellow executives
in an October 2004 speech: "I cofounded the company, so I'm like this
father figure at Whole Foods. I'm this rich father figure and everybody's
pulling at me saying, 'Daddy, daddy can we have this, can we have that,
can we have this, can we have that?' And I'm either like the kind,
generous daddy or the mean, scrooge daddy who says 'No'". [Like, man]

Using a carrot and very large stick, Mackey managed to "convince" Whole
Foods workers across the country to vote in 2004 to dramatically downgrade
their own healthcare benefits by switching to a so-called
"consumer-driven" health plan - corporate double-speak for the high
deductible/low coverage savings account plans preferred by profit-driven
enterprises. As Mackey advised other executives in the same 2004 speech,
"[I]f you want to set up a consumer-driven health plan, I strongly urge
you not to put it as one option in a cafeteria plan, but to make it the
only option".

There have been setbacks for Mackey, to be sure. He suffered public
humiliation in 2007 when he was exposed as having blogged under the false
user name "rahodeb" - his wife's name spelled in reverse - between 1999
and 2006 at online financial chat boards hosted by Yahoo. For seven years,
he backstabbed his rivals - including the Wild Oats franchise that Mackey
later purchased as an addition to the Whole Foods Empire. The Wall Street
Journal reported a typical post: "Would Whole Foods buy (Wild Oats)?
Almost surely not at current prices," rahodeb wrote. "What would they
gain? (Their) locations are too small.." At one point, rahodeb even
admired Mackey's latest haircut, gushing, "I think he looks cute!"

Preventing Whole Foods workers from unionizing has always been at the top
of Mackey's agenda, and the company has been successful thus far at
crushing every attempt. Perhaps the company's most notorious attack on
workers' right to unionize occurred in Madison, Wisconsin in 2002. Even
after a majority of workers voted for the union, Whole Foods spent the
next year cancelling and stalling negotiation sessions - knowing that
after a year, they could legally engineer a vote to decertify the union.
Mission accomplished.

At the mere mention of the word "union", Whole Foods still turns
ferocious. Even when United Farm Workers activists turned up outside a
Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas, where Mackey is based, the company
called the police and had them arrested for the "crime" of passing out
informational literature on their current grape boycott. And as Mother
Jones recently reported, "An internal Whole Foods document listing 'six
strategic goals for Whole Foods Market to achieve by 2013' includes a goal
to remain '100% union-free'". Mackey launched a national anti-union
offensive in January, in preparation for the (remote) possibility that
President Barack Obama, upon his inauguration, would make it a legislative
priority to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), allowing workers to
win unionization when a majority of a company's workforce signs a union
card. Although union card check is standard procedure in many countries,
Mackey claimed to the Washington Post that it "violates a bedrock
principle of American democracy" and has vowed to fight to prevent its
passage here.

"Armed with those weapons," Mackey argued, "you will see unionization
sweep across the United States and set workplaces at war with each other.
I do not think it would be a good thing." Workers don't want to join
unions anymore, Mackey declared, contradicting every recent opinion poll:
"That so few companies are unionized is not for a lack of trying but
because [unions] are losing elections - workers aren't choosing to have
labor representation. I don't feel things are worse off for labor today."

In January, Whole Foods launched a nationwide campaign, requiring workers
to attend "Union Awareness Training" complete with Power Point
presentations. At the meetings, store leaders asserted, "Unions are
deceptive, money hungry organizations who will say and do almost anything
to 'infiltrate' and coerce employees into joining their ranks," according
to Whole Foods workers who attended one such meeting.  "According to store
leadership," the workers continued, "since the mid 1980's unions have been
on decline because according to Whole Foods 'theory', federal and state
legislation enacted to protect workers rights has eliminated the need in
most industries (and especially Whole Foods stores) for union
organization. No need to disrupt the great 'culture' that would shrivel up
and die if the company become unionized".

When rumors recently began circulating that a union drive might be brewing
in San Francisco, the response from the company was immediate - including
mandatory "Morale Meetings" to dissuade employees. But company leaders
failed to address workers' complaints that they have gone without any pay
raises sometimes for more than two years because Team Leaders have
neglected to hold "Job Dialogue" meetings (known as "annual performance
reviews" in traditional corporate-speak).

* * *

There was a time in decades past when liberalism was defined in part by
its principled defense of the right to collective bargaining. That liberal
tradition was buried by the market-driven neoliberal agenda over the last
three decades, allowing companies like Whole Foods to posture as
progressive organizations when their corporate policies are based upon
violating one of the most basic of civil rights: the right of workers to
organize and bargain collectively. Indeed, Whole Foods has ridden its
progressive image to absorb its smaller competitors and emerge as a
corporate giant.

As the Texas Observer argued recently, "People shop at Whole Foods not
just because it offers organic produce and natural foods, but because it
claims to run its business in a way that demonstrates a genuine concern
for the community, the environment, and the 'whole planet,' in the words
of its motto. In reality, Whole Foods has gone on a corporate feeding
frenzy in recent years, swallowing rival retailers across the country....
The expansion is driven by a simple and lucrative business strategy: high
prices and low wages."

Indeed, Whole Foods now stands as the second largest anti-union retailer
in the U.S., beaten only by Wal-Mart. Most of Whole Foods' loyal clientele
certainly would - and should - shudder at the comparison.

Sharon Smith is the author of Women and Socialism and Subterranean Fire: a
History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States. She can be
reached at: sharon [at] internationalsocialist.org


--------18 of 19--------

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose
Recessions and Labor Unions
By DAVID MACARAY
CounterPunch
May 8-10, 2009

It was reported Wednesday that in an attempt to save the 137-year old
newspaper - and their jobs along with it - the Guild representing
employees of the Boston Globe had agreed to dramatic wage and benefit
concessions.  The Guild members, including about 700 editorial, business
and advertising employees, will begin voting on Thursday, May 7, and are
expected to approve the contract.

Among the concessions are substantial cuts in base salaries, mandatory
unpaid furloughs, discontinuation of company-matched pension funds, and
the loss of job security clauses.  It's been reported that the New York
Times, owner of the Globe, needs to slash expenses by $20 million
annually.  It's also been rumored that the Times intends to sell the Globe
and is requiring these cuts to entice a buyer.

With a world recession, the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble, and
twenty-five years of unsound, unscrupulous and unregulated financial
policy coming home to roost, organized labor leaders knew they were going
to be in for a bumpy ride.  They weren't wrong.  Not only are labor unions
being punished by the recession, in many instances they are, predictably,
being blamed for it.

Oddly, in a country that prides itself on fighting for what it believes
in, people who don't make a decent wage or have company-supplied medical
insurance or a company-supplied pension are often critical of labor unions
for striving to obtain those things.  It's a confounding dynamic, one that
can't be explained away entirely as simple envy or resentment.

Rather than saying, "Gee, we should be like you guys, and fight to have a
better standard of living," they seem to think that because they never had
those perks (or had them once, but saw them taken away), you shouldn't
have them either, and that your having them somehow causes an
'imbalance'".

These people believe the propaganda that says society can't afford a
thriving middle-class, that we need a disproportionate number of victims
at the bottom, people to prop up the rest of us, pyramid-style.  They're
the same ones who object to a journeyman plumber making $30 an hour, but
don't blink an eye at a hedge fund manager making $3 billion in a single
year by manipulating money.

Given that every manner of investment portfolio has tanked - from massive
institutional pension funds, to credit unions, to individual stocks and
personal 401(k) accounts - and given that the systemic apparatus that set
the whole banking debacle in motion is still as squirrelly as Hogan's
goat, it's unlikely (despite Wall Street.s rah-rah cheerleading) that
things will look up anytime soon.

It's not only the financial giants, retailers, auto manufacturers and
media that have been hit; the nation's non-profit service sectors are also
struggling, with state and municipal governments across the country
scrambling to make their payrolls.  Teachers, police and firefighters are
facing lay-offs.  Jobs that, typically, were considered "immune" to
economic downturns are now in jeopardy.

Still, as bad as things are for union workers, they are substantially
worse for non-union workers.  At least union folks have the cushion of
falling back on better-than-average wages, benefits and severance
packages, and having contract language in place that spells out exactly
how lay-offs and recalls will be administered, which removes the fear of
being booted out the door arbitrarily by panicky or unprofessional bosses.

Of course, recessions are also opportunities.  Just as businesses having
little to do with the price of gasoline nonetheless raised their rates
when gas hit four dollars a gallon, companies that are relatively
unaffected by the recession are going to use the weak economy as an excuse
to squeeze every dime out of their employees.  That's the way it works.
[Don't you just love the rich? -ed]

When a union committee sits down with a management team during a recession
or a downturn in the industry (or a devastating company slump, e.g., the
Boston Globe), they fully expect to encounter World War III, and they're
rarely disappointed.  They get bombarded with charts and graphs and long
rows of alarmingly dwindling numbers.

And it's not only numbers.  Just as a ship will seek any port in a storm,
management will use any argument or reference point that bolsters their
position.  For example, at this very moment, the LAUSD (Los Angeles
Unified School District) is battling with the teachers. union over a
proposed one-day strike, scheduled for Friday, May 15, to protest District
cuts.

In a letter to the teachers, Superintendent Ramon Cortines used a
three-pronged attack: he appealed to their sense of responsibility,
reminding them that standardized testing was still going on (although
students aren't tested on Mondays or Fridays, which is why the union chose
that day); he threatened the teachers with an injunction; and he made
reference to the swine flu. Yes, the he actually resorted to the swine flu
as part of his pitch.  Again, any port in a storm.

But what happens when the converse is true?  What happens at the
bargaining table when the economy is flourishing, the industry is
prospering, and the company with whom you're negotiating is more or less
raking in the money?  Answer:  Very little changes.

There's a term used in labor relations called "whipsawing".  This refers
to the management practice of intentionally pitting one plant or sector
against another, as a means of keeping wages down.

Pitting one group of workers against another makes sense in a grim,
Machiavellian sort of way.  After all, a company whose exorbitant annual
profits are boldly splashed across the front page of the Wall Street
Journal can't very well go to the bargaining table and, with a straight
face, argue that they can't "afford" to give the hourly workforce a decent
raise.

Instead, what they do is divide and conquer.  They say that, while the
corporation as a whole is doing quite well, the facility whose contract is
being negotiated is not doing as well.  In fact, if the workers want to
continue to have a place to work, they're going to have to find ways of
lowering costs in order to remain competitive.  And one of those ways -
indeed, the only really surefire way - is to keep the hourly wages in
check.

So they hammer you when there's a national recession, even though your
industry is doing well; they hammer you when your specific industry is
struggling, even though the national economy is strong; and they hammer
you when things are flush, when everything is good, by playing one
facility against another, looking for an edge.
[Don't you just love the rich? -ed]

In truth, they'll use anything - Hurricane Katrina, the swine flu, the
price of oil, the GNP of Venezuela, anything! - to avoid parting with
their money.  The only statement you'll never hear uttered at a contract
bargain is, "You're in luck, boys!  Because we're rolling in dough, we've
decided to give you that big raise you deserve".  America will colonize
Mars before that's ever said.

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright ("Americana," "Larva Boy") and
writer, was a former labor rep.  He can be reached at
dmacaray [at] earthlink.net



--------19 of 19--------


                             ----------------
                              Don't you just
                              love the rich?
                             ----------------


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