Progressive Calendar 05.17.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sun, 17 May 2009 04:49:57 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   05.17.09

1. Stillwater vigil   5.17 1pm
2. Single payer now!  5.17 3pm
3. Amnesty Intl       5.17 3pm

4. Peace walk         5.18 6pm RiverFalls WI
5. Pedagogy/oppressed 5.18-23 6:30pm
6. Homegrown Mpls     5.18 6:30pm
7. Single payer       5.18 6:30pm
8. Disarm/film        5.18 6:30pm
9. Forest/eco/film    5.18 6pm
10. Oxfam Action      5.18 7pm
11. Edgertonite       5.18 8:30pm

12. Mike Whitney - War & empire: Obama picks up where Bush left off
13. Ramzy Baroud - New war on civilians; the drones are coming
14. Ralph Nader  - Time for renewable energy

--------1 of 14--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 5.17 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------2 of 14--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: Single payer now! 5.17 3pm

James Mayer Of the People with Host James Mayer
Join Us
Every Sunday Afternoon
3-4 p.m.
on
AM950 KTNF
Health Professionals in the Trenches:

The California Nurses Association's DeAnn McEwin Shows Why and How
No-Nonsense Action by the People Will Make Single Payer a Reality. May 17,
2009

DeAnn McEwen, RN, BSN, an Intensive Care Unit staff nurse at Long Beach
Memorial Medical Center in her discussion with host James Mayer will also
debunk the myth that Single Payer Health Care is "socialized medicine"
and why Single Payer could drive the economic recovery and create new
jobs.


--------3 of 14--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 5.17 3pm

GROUP 37 MAY MEETING REMINDER: SUNDAY, MAY 17 - 3 TO 5 P.M.
Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, May 17th, from 3:00 to 5:00
p.m.

Our presenter will be Group 37 member Gary King, who will fill us in on
his latest trip to the Philippines, including his visits to the Philippine
Scholars, political prisoners, and even a trial-in-progress.
Following the presentation, we will share actions on human rights cases
around the world and get updates on the work of our sub-groups.
All are welcome, and refreshments will be provided.

Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis
(corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot
behind the Center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn).
A map and directions are available on-line:
http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html


--------4 of 14--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 5.18 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


--------5 of 14--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Pedagogy/oppressed 5.18-23 6:30pm

15th Annual International Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO)
Conference: "Mad as Hell? Now Move (or Draw, or Act...): Organizing for
Social Justice"

May 18 to 21 (Pre-Conference Workshops), May 21 to 24 (Conference), May 24
and 25 (Post-Conference Workshops) Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside Avenue
South, Minneapolis. "PTO is a not-for-profit (IRS 501C3) organization with
the following mission: To challenge oppressive systems by promoting
critical thinking and social justice. We organize an annual meeting that
focuses on the work of liberatory educators, activists, and artists; and
community organizers." Invited guests include: Julian Boal, International
Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner; Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Spoken Word
artist, activist, and educator; Kao Kalia Yang, Critical literacy
practitioner, and award- winning writer; Ananya Dance Theatre,
Community-based women of color social justice artists; Deborah Barndt,
Victor Cole, Elle Meza, Chaka Mkali, and Larry Olds, Popular educators and
organizers; Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc Minnesota Circle and St. Paul Central
Touring Theatre. Many of the workshops are free. Sponsored by: PTO.
Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI and to Register: Call Ben Fink, 612-840-0141 or
visit www.ptoweb.org.

-
From: Sonja Kuftinec <SKuftinec [at] aol.com>
[SCHEDULE. Will be printed just this ONCE. If you want it, SAVE it -ed]

Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed FREE PUBLIC EVENTS www.ptoweb.org
Unless otherwise indicated, all events at Augsburg College Foss Center
22nd Ave. S. at Riverside Minneapolis

Mon. May 18th 7-9pm (Foss Center, TV Studio)

Doug Paterson leads an Introduction to Theatre of the Oppressed workshop.
A great opportunity for beginners to techniques for mobilizing communities
through the arts!

Tues. May 19th 6:30-7:30pm (Foss Center, TV Studio)

Hector Aristizabal "Nightwind" - a performance and participatory workshop

The program begins with a 30-minute performance based on Aristizabal's
true story of being arrested and tortured by the US-supported military in
Colombia. Aristizabal's movement-based performance becomes a springboard
for audience members to explore issues of importance in their own lives.
Following the performance Hector invites the audience into a brief dynamic
meditation. Then, using the techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed, Hector
invites participants to express their reactions to the images of torture.

Tues. May 19th 8:00-9:00pm 7 Jewish Children Bedlam Theatre (1501 6th Ave.
S. Minneapolis). A staged reading of Caryl Churchill's short response to
the Gaza war will be followed by a talk back led by Refuse Soldier and TO
activist Chen Alon.

Wed. May 20th 3:00-5:30 Legislative Theatre at City Hall Council Chambers,
Room 317, City Hall 350 South 5th St. Minneapolis

A special session in which we begin enacting legislation out of Forum
Theatre pieces. Issue areas that local residents have identified include:
funding Restorative Justice, after-school programs for youth, same sex
partner benefits, health care reform, job-training for multiple-level
skill green jobs, indigenous land return, and education reform.
Preliminary activities will begin at 3:00 P.M. Legislators will be present
from 4:30-5:30.

Wed. May 20th 8:00-9:30pm St. Paul Central Touring Company performs their
current original show "We are the Change that We Seek" (Foss Center,
Theatre)

Thurs. May 21st

6:00-7:00 pm Special film showing sex workers in India (Foss Center)

8:00 Ceremonial opening (Foss Center, Hoversten Chapel) Native scholar and
activist Waziyatawin, Aztec Danzata, Julian Boal, Tish Jones and others
will open Conference ceremonies through dance, performance, visual art,
drumming, audience participation, and more.

Fri. May 22nd

1-2pm Dr. Deborah Barndt (Foss Center, Hoversten Chapel) Renowned scholar
and activist Dr. Deborah Barndt will give a keynote on popular education
and social movements, focusing on three characteristics of popular
education: glocal, inclusive, and holistic. She will explore indigenous
knowledges, integrating arts into Popular Education, and bridging the gap
between academia and community organizing.

5:45-6:45pm Ananya Chatterjea (Foss Center, Hoversten Chapel)

Ananya Chatterjea will present a keynote address "In Fragile Hope/Dancing
Conviction." This lecture forwards Chatterjea's view of "dance as a call
to action" describing the lessons learned through Chatterjea's study of
street theater and feminist praxis around the world and her fierce
commitment to the immediate relationship between bodily artistic practices
and social justice movement.

8:30-10:00pm Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Foss Center, Hoversten Chapel)

Marc Bamuthi Joseph, an arts activist, National Poetry Slam champion, and
a recipient of 2002 and 2004 National Performance Network Creation
commissions, will be keynoting and performing new work. Last year the
Walker Art Center featured his performance The Breaks.

10:00-11:00pm Remembering Augusto Boal (Foss Center, Theatre)

Sat. May 23

1-2pm Kao Kalia Yang (Foss Center, Hoversten Chapel)

Kao Kalia Yang will present a keynote address on "The Consequences
of Our Stories." The presentation asks: what happens when you live
in a life story that others do not understand? What is the cost of being
misunderstood through the generations?

7:00 Washburn High School performance (Foss Center, Theatre)

8:15 MN Spoken Word Association Youth Open Mic (Foss Center, Theatre)

8:30 excerpts from Ashesh Barsha, unending monsoon by Ananya Dance
Theatre. This informal presentation uses dance as an exploration of
climate and energy justice in global communities of color. (Barbara Barker
Dance Studio 500 21st Ave. S. Minneapolis)

Sun. May 24th 2-3pm (Foss Center) Next Steps Meeting for all interested
local folks about building a PTO-TC movement. Facilitated by Sandy
Agustin.

For more information or to register for fee'd conference or workshops
WWW.PTOWEB.ORG
Contact Ben Fink at 612-840-0141


--------6 of 14--------

From: cg
Subject: Homegrown Mpls 5.18 6:30pm

For the past few months a group staff, residents and others have been
working on ways we can do a better job getting good, fresh, locally
produced food to the people who live and eat in Minneapolis. Food grown
locally is good for your health and promotes a stronger local economy and
protection of our environment.

Homegrown Minneapolis recommendations are expected to include:
 Using public and private land for community gardens and food production,
 Increasing access to farmers' markets or mobile food delivery services,
 Encouraging restaurants, schools, and other organizations to use locally
grown food on their menus, and
 Supporting entrepreneurs who want to create small businesses focused on
local food production.

Here is the timeline for what is a critical month for people to focus on
this issue if it is to be successful:

[If interested, please SAVE this schedule. -ed]

Residents can offer feedback at the public meetings or in writing through
May 31. The recommendations are availabel online at
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/dhfs/homegrown-home.asp

May 18th, 6:30pm Public Meeting - South Minneapolis at the Martin Luther
King Park recreation center (4055 Nicollet Ave. S)

May 20th, 3pm Presentation of Draft Recommendations to Citizens
Environmental Advisory Committee at City Hall

May 21st, 4:30pm Presentation of Draft Recommendations to Capital Long
range Imrovement Committee at City Hall - tentative

May 26th, 6pm Presentation of Draft Recommendations to Public Health
Advisory Committee , location TBD

May 28th, 9am Steering Committee Meeting at the Minneapolis Department of
Health & Family Support

May 31st online public comment period closes

June 15th, 1:30pm Presentation of Final Recommendations to Health, Energy,
and Environment Committee , at City Hall - tentative

Questions about the initiative or the community meetings can be directed
to Kristen Klingler at (612) 673-2910 or
kristen.klingler [at] ci.minneapolis.mn.us. These meeting sites are wheelchair
accessible. Disability related accommodations, such as a sign language
interpreter or materials in alternative format may be requested by calling
Kristin Klingler by May 5.


--------7 of 14--------

From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at] hammclinic.org>
Subject: Single payer 5.18 6:30pm

Single Payer Fundraiser and Celebration!
Featuring:
Dr. Oliver Fein, President, Physicians for a National Health Program
Senator John Marty, Chief Author, The Minnesota Health Act

Thursday June 18th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
University Club, on the corner of Summit and Grand Avenues in St. Paul, MN
Light buffet dinner, live music, auction, and raffle prizes

Dr. Oliver Fein, one of two single-payer advocates invited to the White
House Forum on health care reform, will give us a national perspective on
the single-payer movement.

Senator John Marty, one of the first state legislators to indorse national
single-payer legislation, will update us on the single-payer movement in
Minnesota.

Who and Why: Proceeds from this event will support the work of PNHP-MN and
The Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition.

Cost: $50 admission (Contributions are not tax deductible).  To reserve a
seat, please send $50 to MUHCC, 2469 University Ave. W, Suite W 150, St.
Paul, MN 55114 (indicate "summer celebration" in memo), or visit
www.muhcc.org<http://www.muhcc.org/> for more information.


--------8 of 14--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Disarm/film 5.18 6:30pm

FREE Third Monday Movies and Discussion: "Disarm"
Monday, May 18, 6:30 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, Parish Center, 4537
Third Avenue South, Minneapolis.

A contemporary and provocative view of the forces challenging the
achievement of a landmine-free world. Looking beyond mines, "Disarm"
offers a contemporary, intelligent and critical investigation into how
weapons systems, war, and the way it is waged are being redefined in the
twenty-first century with devastating consequences. This film reinforces
the need for a weapons ban (see WAMM's Second Annual Walk Against Weapons
on June 6). Facilitated discussion led by Jack Rossbach from the Minnesota
Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs, follows. Sponsored by: the
WAMM Third Monday Movies Committee. FFI: Call 612-871-2229.


--------9 of 14--------

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com>
Subject: Forest/eco/film 5.18 6pm

There will be a free screening of SAVING FOREST ECOSYSTEMS, a film about
the impacts of clear-cutting old-growth forests in North America, which
after the logging machines depart, are either left as wastelands or
transformed into sterile, monocultural tree plantations devoid of
understory.  Not only are the globes's forests the lungs of the planet by
providing the oxygen we breathe, but there is growing evidence that
coastal forests in particular function as its heart as well by pumping
moisture that brings rainfall to the interior of the continents.  The
documentary points out that without our forests, Earth would be a barren
world spinning in space.  Forests provide vital watershed, wildlife
habitat, genetic biodiversity and carbon storage as well as food, fodder,
fuel, fiber and medicine for the Indigenous Peoples who depend upon them.
Natural forests are steadily being depleted and degraded by over-logging,
burning and land clearing for monocrops, ranching, biofuel production to
fill the gas tanks of advanced nations and real estate developments.  In
this informative documentary, viewers will learn why the world's
forests--both temperate and tropical--urgently require protection and
restoration.

The screening will be held on Monday, May 18th at 7:00 PM at Mayday Books,
301 Cedar Avenue South on the West Bank in Minneapolis.  The program is
free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Climate Crisis
Coalition of the Twin Cities (3CTC).  The Clean-Energy Vigil to Cool Down
the Planet will take place on the plaza outside the bookstore at 5:00 PM
(Weather permitting), followed by the 3CTC Business Meeting at 6:00 PM.
All are welcome.  For more information, EMAIL:  christinefrank [at] visi.com or
PHONE: 612-879-8937.  SAVE MOTHER EARTH!  SEE YOU THERE!


--------10 of 14--------

From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN <minnesota [at] oxfamactioncorps.org>
Subject: Oxfam Action 5.18 7pm

On the 3rd Monday of each month, we gather to plan our nonpartisan
grassroots activities. We've successfully organized events, lobbied
policymakers, and have used sheer creativity to stand up for meaningful
change. We meet at 7pm the unique Common Roots Café (2558 Lyndale Ave. S.,
Minneapolis).


--------11 of 14--------

From: jwilson [at] enp-news.org
Subject: Edgertonite 5.18 8:30pm

Edgertonite National Party meeting
 Monday, 18 May 2009 -- 8:30 PM
Spyhouse coffee shop, 2404 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55408
 Focus is on the Wilson mayoral campaign
Public welcome!
 For more information: http://www.enp-news.org


--------12 of 14--------

Obama Picks Up Where Bush Left Off
From My Lai to Bala Baluk
By MIKE WHITNEY
May 15-17, 2009
CounterPunch

Barack Obama is aggressively stepping up the war in Afghanistan. He's
intensified the cross-border bombing of Pakistan and he is doubling the
number of U.S. troops to 68,000 by 2010. He's also a strong proponent of
pilotless drones even though hundreds of civilians have been killed in
bombing raid blunders.

On May 4, 2009, 143 civilians were killed in a bombing raid in Bala Baluk,
a remote area south of Herat. Obama brushed off the incident with terse
apology never intimating that the US policy for aerial bombardment would
be reviewed to avoid future mishaps. Patrick Cockburn gave a summary of
the incident:

I did not meet survivors but I did talk to a reliable witness, a radio
reporter called Farooq Faizy, who had gone to Bala Baluk soon after the
attack happened. He (had) some 70 or 80 photographs and they bore out the
villagers' story: there were craters everywhere; the villages had been
plastered with bombs; bodies had been torn to shreds by the blasts; there
were mass graves; there were no signs of damage from bullets, rockets or
grenades.

US military spokesmen denied the news reports and concocted a wacky story
about Taliban militants rampaging through the village hurling grenades
into buildings. It was a ridiculous narrative that no one believed. The
facts have since been verified by senior government officials,
high-ranking members of the Afghan military and representatives of the Red
Cross. The United States military killed 143 unarmed villagers and then
they tried to cover it up with a lie. None of the victims were fighters.
After the bombing, the villagers loaded body parts onto carts and took
them to the office of the regional governor who confirmed the deaths. The
photos of grief-stricken Afghans burying their dead have been widely
circulated on the Internet.

From Reuters:

Ninety-three children and 25 adult women are among a list of 140 names of
Afghans who villagers say were killed in a battle and U.S. air strikes
last week, causing a crisis between Washington and its Afghan allies.

The list, obtained by Reuters, bears the endorsement of seven senior
provincial and central government officials, including an Afghan two-star
general who headed a task force dispatched by the government to
investigate the incident.

Titled "list of the martyrs of the bombardment of Bala Boluk district of
Farah Province", it includes the name, age and father's name of each
alleged victim.

The youngest was listed as 8-day-old baby Sayed Musa, son of Sayed Adam.
Fifty-three victims were girls under the age of 18, and 40 were boys. Only
22 were men 18 or older. ("List of 140 Afghan Killed In US Attack Includes
93 Children", Reuters)

Neither Obama nor anyone in his administration has acknowledged that 93
children were killed by American bombs.

Military operations in Afghanistan have increased under Obama especially
in the south where the Taliban are most heavily concentrated. The fighting
has spread into Pakistan where President Asif Ali Zardari has been
pressured into deploying his troops the Swat Valley to fight militants
despite growing public disapproval. Nearly 850,000 people have been forced
from their homes in the last few weeks to seek shelter in the south. For
the most part, the humanitarian crisis has gone unreported in the western
media, but Obama knows what is going on and is sticking with the same
policy. Hundreds of thousands of people are now living in tent cities
without food or clean water because of the escalation in the violence.
It's a disaster.

OBAMA PICKS A GENERAL: Enter the assassination squads

This week, General David McKiernan was replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley A.
McChrystal as Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan. Here's how the
Washington Post summarized McChrystal's qualifications for the job:

"McChrystal kills people. Has he ever worked in the counterinsurgency
environment? Not really," said Roger Carstens, a senior nonresident fellow
at the Center for a New American Security and a former Special Forces
officer....

Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former Special Operations chief who is
President Obama's new choice to lead the war in Afghanistan, rose to
military prominence because of his single-minded success in a narrow but
critical mission: manhunting. As commander of the military's secretive
Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) for nearly five years starting in
2003, McChrystal masterminded a campaign to perfect the art of tracking
down enemies, and then capturing or killing them. He built a sophisticated
network of soldiers and intelligence operatives who proceeded to
decapitate the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq and kill its most
notorious leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.("High-value-target hunter takes on
Afghan war" Washington Post)

Obama chose McChrystal because of his "black ops" pedigree, which suggests
that the conflict in Afghanistan is about to take a very ugly turn.
According to Pulitzer Prize.winning investigative journalist Seymour
Hersh, McChrystal ran the "executive assassination wing" of the military's
joint special-operations command. (JSOC) The experts believe that he will
breeze through congressional confirmation hearings because many Senators
believe that his counterinsurgency theories helped the surge in Iraq to
succeed. There's some truth to this, too. But it would be more accurate to
say that the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad helped to reduce the violence.
That is the truth about the surge; it's a public relations moniker for
ethnic cleansing.

McChrystal's appointment suggests that Obama supports the idea that
hunter-killer units and targeted assassinations are an acceptable means of
achieving US foreign policy objectives. Obama supporters should pay close
attention; this is a continuation of the Rumsfeld policy with one slight
difference, a more persuasive and charismatic pitchman promoting the
policy. Other than that, there's no difference.

Obama knows of McChrystal's involvement in the prisoner abuse scandal at
Baghdad's Camp Nama, just as he knows of his role in the cover-up in the
friendly-fire death of ex-NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman. None of
this matters to Obama. What matters is winning; not principle, ideals,
human rights or civilian casualties. Just winning.

FROM MY LAI TO BALA BALUK

On March 16, 1968, the US military was involved in a similar incident
which soured the public on Vietnam and eventually helped bring the war to
a close. Barack Obama was only seven years old when Charlie Company - led
by platoon leader second Lieutenant William Calley - entered the small
hamlet of My Lai and proceeded to slaughter 347 unarmed civilians. This is
Sam Harris's account of what took place on that day 40 years ago:

"Early in the morning the soldiers were landed in the village by
helicopter. Many were firing as they spread out, killing both people and
animals. There was no sign of the Vietcong battalion and no shot was fired
on Charlie Company all day, but they carried on. They burnt down every
house. They raped woman and girls and then killed them. They stabbed some
women in the vagina and disemboweled others, or cut off their hands or
scalps. Pregnant woman had there stomachs slashed open and were left to
die. There were gang rapes and killings by shooting or with bayonets.
There were mass executions. Dozens of people at a time, including old men,
women and children, were machined-gunned in a ditch. In four hours nearly
500 villagers were killed." (Sam Harris from his book "The End of Faith:
Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason")

The only difference between My Lai and Bala Baluk is the degree of
savagery. In both cases the guilt can be traced directly back to the White
House.

Obama believes that civilian casualties are an unavoidable part of
achieving one's policy goals. The end justifies the means. He has
strengthened the Bush policy, not repudiated it. So much for "change".

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at
fergiewhitney [at] msn.com


--------13 of 14-------

New War on Civilians
The Drones Are Coming
By RAMZY BAROUD
May 15-17, 2009
CounterPunch

President Barack Obama took the podium in a White House press conference
and stood with an all-embellished confidence that often accompanies new
presidents. He was flanked by two leaders whose apparent grandeur barely
reflected their embattled situations on the ground: Afghan President Hamid
Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

The meeting at the White House on 6 May was fashioned to give the
impression that the new US administration is both "serious" and
"committed" about resolving the crises plaguing Afghanistan and Pakistan,
which are imprudently reduced to that of a Taliban resurgence in the
former, and a Taliban- inspired militant encroachment in the latter. Obama
declared the meeting "extraordinarily productive" as the three nations, he
said, are joined by the common goal to "defeat Al-Qaeda and its extremist
allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan".

The skewed reading of reality didn't cease there. "I am pleased that these
two men, elected leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, fully appreciate the
seriousness of the threat that we face and have reaffirmed their
commitment to confronting it," Obama said. Both leaders listened solemnly
as to reflect the level of their "seriousness".

For a fleeting moment one did in fact hope that Obama would bring with him
more than a new language; rather, an entirely new take on US foreign
policy. That hope is already in tatters.

"Obama conveyed the right message last week by hosting Afghan President
Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The meeting at the
White House reflected the close link between Pakistan and the anti-Taliban
struggle in Afghanistan. Indeed, nests of Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other
extremists sheltering on the Pakistani side of the border have become a
grave threat to Pakistan itself," opined a Boston Globe editorial. But the
Globe also counselled: "As recent events suggest, US military strikes
against militants in both countries inevitably provoke anger and
indignation among civilians."

This is as much as most US media - and of course, the US administration -
are willing to concede as far as US responsibility in lethal wars, civil
strife and militancy in both countries is concerned. In fact, if one is to
delineate a major difference in the Bush and Obama administrations
regarding Afghanistan, it's the fact that Obama apologises when the number
of innocent civilians killed by US air strikes is too harrowing to ignore.
Another notable difference is that he has committed 17,000 additional
troops to the already war-devastated country, promising more bloodshed.

"I wish to express my personal regret and certainly the sympathy of our
administration on the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan," Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton said in her public apology to the killing of over
100 civilians in two Afghan villages 4 May. The apology, however, was
obliquely qualified by the US military in comments made by Tech Sergeant
Chuck Marsh on 9 May: "Reports also indicate that Taliban fighters
deliberately forced villagers into houses from which they then attacked
ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] and Coalition forces," he said.

So, somehow, the US is still not responsible.

Now the war is flaring up in Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani
families have fled the area, and the main town of Migora has been
virtually emptied of its inhabitants. Reuters reported that, "Pakistani
forces attacked Taliban fighters in the Swat Valley with artillery and
helicopters after the United States called on the government to show its
commitment to fighting militancy." One has to wonder who is giving the
orders in this foolish war, anyway? Moreover, does Obama genuinely think
that the Pakistani "Taliban" can be defeated using the exact approach that
failed against the Taliban of Afghanistan?

The escalation in Pakistan is not entirely surprising, however, as US
officials and media pundits have been adamant in advising the new
administration that it was not Afghanistan that posed the greater threat
to US interests, but Pakistan. It was similar to the attitude of
neoconservatives in the Bush administration after its failure in Iraq. It
was not Iraq that the US should have attacked, but Iran, they tirelessly
parroted, hoping to generate yet another war.

What we are not told, however, is that unremitting US bombings of the
utterly poor and neglected northern provinces of Pakistan have garnered
untold animosity towards the US and its central government allies. It
provoked, in some areas, total chaos and lawlessness, which in turn gave
rise to the Pakistani "Taliban". History is repeating itself, but the US
administration is taking no notice of the obvious pattern.

A Pakistan writer, Abd Al-Ghafar Aziz, wrote for Al-Jazeera's Arabic
website: "Since the US attack on Afghanistan, the province [of
Balochistan] has been accused of supporting terrorism and harbouring the
leaders of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Since then, US planes, especially drones,
have been striking what it calls 'precious targets', resulting in the
death of over 15,000 people." Aziz described the people of that region
"like orphans without shelter, and without protection." Naturally, tribe
leaders, militant groups and others moved to fill the gap.

If there is one outstanding similarity between the Afghanistan and
Pakistan cases it is the fact the US is using the same flawed logic that
responds to most delicate conflicts with bullets, whether those of its own
or its allies. If the new administration is keenly interested in reversing
the misfortunes of that region, it has to understand the uniqueness of
every country and appreciate the untold harm inflicted on civilians by the
US and other militaries. Only dialogue and truly respecting the
sovereignty of Afghanistan and Pakistan can begin to stabilise the
fractious situation.

There are an estimated one million Pakistanis already on the run in the
northern and eastern parts of the country. They are threatened by
fighting, hunger and all sorts of predators, including US drones circling
overhead.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work
has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest
book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's
Struggle (Pluto Press, London).


--------14 of 14--------

Time For Renewable Energy
by Ralph Nader
Saturday, May 16, 2009
CommonDreams.org

After years of opposing or ridiculing renewable energy, the giant oil
companies are using a new approach. A recent ExxonMobil advertising
campaign puts it this way:

"Oil, gas, coal, biofuels, nuclear, wind, solar....to fuel the future we
need them all."

Not an unexpected maneuver from a fossil fuel company that has owned
Washington and received subsidies and tax breaks for decades. What is
unfortunate is that this is the exact kind of energy pitch coming out of
the Obama Administration and most Congressional Democrats. Indeed it is
right out of candidate Obama's 2008 campaign rhetoric last year.

Then Senator Obama gave every energy source its due although he spent an
inordinate amount of time pushing the mirage of "clean coal" and keeping
nuclear energy on the table.

The problem is that all energy sources are not created equal for purposes
of efficiency, and the well being of consumers, workers, the environment
and posterity. Regardless of their BTU production, different kinds of
energy produce different levels of harms and benefits, short and long
term.

Take atomic power. Wall Street financiers have been adamant for years that
lending billions of dollars to utilities to construct a single nuclear
plant requires a 100% U.S. government loan guarantee. A 90% loan guarantee
by the taxpayers is rejected by the Wall Streeters. They want a 100%
guarantee on the barrelhead.

The well-known physicist, environmentalist Amory Lovins argues against
nuclear energy just on economic grounds. He says he doesn't even have to
get to the safety issues to recommend rejection. I know no one of
prominence of on the other side willing to debate him. If you do, let me
know.

But the safety issues surrounding the nuclear option will not go away.
Neither the unresolved permanent storage of deadly radioactive waste, nor
the national security problems, nor the risk of a class nine meltdown that
could contaminate, in the words of the old Atomic Energy Agency (of the
U.S. government), an area the size of Pennsylvania, are going away.

Then, of course, there is the missing "source" of energy from the Exxon
ad. This is energy efficiency. Reducing waste. A thousand megawatts you
don't waste is a thousand megawatts you don't have to produce. The same
goes for not having to waste a gallon of gasoline in gas guzzling motor
vehicles. Nothing can compete with the payback ratios of energy
conservation which includes building and engine construction and use. Yet
again and again it is not at the top of the list or on many lists at all.

Then there are the renewables - wind, geothermal, water and all the
wonderous varieties of solar. A few days ago, the Sustainable Energy
Coalition had its 12th annual Congressional renewable energy and energy
efficiency EXPO + Forum at the Cannon House Office Building in the U.S.
House of Representatives.

This year's EXPO featured over fifty businesses, trade associations,
government agencies and non-profit policy organizations to hear some
members of Congress regale them and converse with visitors.

I found the exhibits and their personable exhibitors to be specific,
comprehensive and seemingly convinced that renewables are finally, after
some failed starts, on an irreversible road to greater market share.

It was not only the advanced hardware and the use of tax credits that fed
their optimism. Renewables are branching out in ways that are bringing
them nearer to a level playing field with their heavily subsidized and
coddled fossil fuel and nuclear "competitors." More venture capital,
better tax credits, rebates and various state and local proposals exist to
facilitate financing for users.

One spreading incentive comes from my home state of Connecticut which
offers a special solar energy leasing plan for homeowners. The Nutmeg
State claims it is leading "the way with the nation's first rate payer
supporter residential leasing program for solar energy." Catch the details
by visiting ctsolarlease.com or phone 888-232-3477.

The point of this column is to demand thoughtful discrimination by our
policy makers between different kinds of energy. Some are clearly better
than others. From the federal government on down to the state and local
level, a discriminatory approach is a must if the conversion to renewables
and energy conservation from fossils and nuclear is to accelerate.

The old energy lobbies are very stubborn and have their hooks into too
many politicians who mouth the ExxonMobil party line.

There are far more jobs in the new energy economy with far more health,
efficiency, and security benefits than there are in staying with
hydrocarbons and radioactive atoms.

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


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