|Progressive Calendar 05.10.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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? ---------------- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
- (no other messages in thread)
Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.