Progressive Calendar 06.30.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2009 05:19:56 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   06.30.09

1. Lament Pawlenty    6.30 10:15am
2. Picket Pawlenty    6.30 4:30pm
3. NWN4P vigil        6.30 4:45pm
4. Single Payer/CTV   6.30 5pm
5. RNC court watch    6.30 6pm
6. Galloway/Palestine 6.30 6:30pm
7. John Marty/health  6.30 6:30pm
8. What America needs 6.30 7:30pm

9. Race peace in Mpls 7.01 9am
10. Cop kulture/KFAI  7.01 11am
11. McCollum/health   7.01 6pm

12. Chris Hedges - The truth alone will not set you free
13. Clifton Ross - From Bolivia to Honduras: coups and constitutions
14. Nikolas Kozloff - The Coup in Honduras: Obama's real message to LatAm?

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From: Mike Schoenberg <geomike [at]>
Subject: Lament Pawlenty 6.30 10:15am

Faithful Minnesota Rally
Tuesday, June 30, 10:30-11:30am
State Capitol, St. Paul

Minnesota people of faith are gathering for a witness of lament on the
morning of Tuesday, June 30 to ask Governor Tim Pawlenty not to abandon
the health of Minnesota's citizens, especially those most in need.

Gather at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, 105 University Avenue,
St. Paul, by 10:15 am.  We will stage in congregational groups and process
in a somber, funeral-like procession beginning at 10:30am.  Please wear
black and bring old flowers and notes to the governor expressing your
faith-based concern about these budget decisions.

Speakers will include Bishop Peter Rogness, Saint Paul Synod of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; and Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, Temple
Israel Minneapolis; as well as the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, Executive Director
of the Minnesota Council of Churches and Rev. Grant Abbott, Executive
Director of the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches.

The Joint Religious Legislative Coalition supports this event, which is
being organized by the Minnesota Council of Churches.  For more
information contact Gail Anderson, Unity and Relationships Organizer,
Minnesota Council of Churches, gail.anderson [at] or

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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Picket Pawlenty 6.30 4:30pm

Picket Governor Pawlenty's Cuts

Tuesday, June 30, 4:30 p.m. Governor's Mansion, 1006 Summit Avenue(between
Dale and Lexington), St. Paul. The day before Governor Pawlenty has the
authority to "unallot" money from the state budget, join others to demand,
"No Cuts to Healthcare: No to Pawlenty's General Assistance Medical Care
(GAMC) Cuts! No Cuts to Education! No Cuts to Working People and Poor
Families!" Sponsored by: the Welfare Rights Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM.

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From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P vigil 6.30 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.

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From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Single Payer/CTV 6.30 5pm

Summery St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:
Tues, 6/30, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 7/1, 10am

Single Payer: HELL YEAH!
longtime Twin Cities nurse and single-payer health care advocate Faith
Kidder and DFL Progressive Caucus chair Dan Brown share their insights on,
and passion for, single-payer universal health care.  hosted by Eric

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From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 6.30 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

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

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]

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From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: Galloway/Palestine 6.30 6:30pm

Guest Speaker: British MP George Galloway

The inspirational anti-war British MP, George Galloway, decided that while
it is necessary to speak out - in his case with great force and eloquence
- it is actions that speak louder than words. George Galloway has recently
returned from Gaza after leading a convoy of medical aid and humanitarian
assistance to the region and will share his experience and reflections.

Tuesday, June 30, 6:30pm
Crown Plaza Hotel 2200 Freeway Blvd Brooklyn Center, MN 55430

While the bombs were still showering down on Gaza, the largest open-air
prison in history, Galloway decided to organize a humanitarian convoy that
would start in Britain, drive through France and Spain, and across North
Africa to arrive in Gaza with aid, even as all borders to the devastated
region were under complete blockade. In just five short weeks, he pulled
together 107 vehicles - including ambulances and a fire engine - 255
people and $2 million of aid, which set off from London on February 14.
Some 23 days and 5,500 miles later it arrived in Gaza to tumultuous

Now, Galloway is heading a second convoy - this time from the USA.  The
convoy“s aim is to take hundreds of US citizens in 500 vehicles, bearing
$10 million in medical aid from Cairo to Gaza. Convoy participants will
leave from JFK airport on July 4, bearing the simple yet powerful message
that Palestinian independence is as precious as US independence. The group
will organize the convoy in Cairo and proceed to Gaza the following
weekend, proudly waving US and Palestinian flags, as well as banners
declaring thousands of supporting organizations and institutions.

This is set to be the biggest single aid effort for Palestine ever to
leave US shores. It will be a source of great strength and hope for the
Palestinian people and will also have a major impact here in the United
States, helping to stir US public opinion about the conflict in the Middle
East and hopefully bring about a permanent shift in government policy.

Sponsored by: Al Aqsa Institute & American Muslims for Palestine

Tickets:  $10/at the door
All proceeds will go to Viva Palestina

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From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: John Marty/health 6.30 6:30pm

Tuesday, June 30, our guest will be Senator John Marty.
He will speak mainly on his health bill in the Minn. Legislature, which is
a Single Payer Bill.  The tea house is small, but hopefully it will fit
all who come.  Very exciting.

"Senator Marty has been one of the strongest opponents to the recent cuts
to Health & Human Services and Education - cuts that officials from
Governor Pawlenty's own administration admit will hurt the "the poorest of
the poor" and the "sickest of the sick." Senator Marty is the candidate
that can best restore our great State to what it can and should be.
Instead of kicking the poorest residents off health care, a Marty
Administration will vigorously push to enact the MN Health Plan - a single
plan that will give all Minnesotans guaranteed, affordable health care for
all their medical needs including prescription drugs, dental care, mental
health and chemical dependency treatment. This comprehensive plan will
create jobs, save the state (tax payers) money, and will literally save

"John is the ONLY candidate with a plan to enact Single-Payer Universal
Health Care. Minnesota can lead the nation in Health Care Coverage, but we
must support a candidate with the bold leadership and progressive vision
MN needs. We must support a candidate that will take on the special
interest money - one that has a proven track record of standing up to the
health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. That candidate is John

Pax Salons ( )
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.

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From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: What America needs 6.30 7:30pm

Tues. June 30, 7:30 PM: "What America Needs" directed by Mark Wojahn.
INTERMEDIA ARTS, 2844 Lyndale Ave, South, MInneapolis
Mark Wojohn: Film-maker
by Lydia Howell, KFAI

Minneapolis film-maker Mark Wojohn boldly challenges Hollywood hype with
"What America Needs: From Sea To Shining Sea", (which debuted at City
Pages' GET REAL! Documentary Film Festival). This road-movie reality-check
contradicts depictions of Americans as celebrities, wealthy, dysfunctional
poor folks or jingoistic war-mongers. Wojohn's autumn 2002 journey from
NYC to LA, posed one question,"What does America need?" Going Greyhound,
taking trains, in rural towns, inner-cities, suburbs, Wojohn discovered
the eclectic heart beating steadily against the din of Dittoheads:
cabbies, cooks, students; gay Halloween celebrants, tourists in D.C. and
Ground Zero; artists, immigrants, punks, mall-shoppers, the homeless.
There's plenty of women, youth, elders and people of color, too--welcome
antidote to the white, middle-aged men usually annointed to speak for
everyone. Not just a stream of "talking heads", Wojohn's imaginative
visual storytelling captures contexts that reveal essences of these
glimpsed lives.

There's surprising answers to Wojohn's question, from the silly to the
sublime. Of 500 people, only four supported war, although Wojohn purposely
put himself in "uncomfortable places", casting his net widely. An
exhillerating sense of motion propells the film and a provacative
thoughtfulness anchors it. Wojohn counters the commercial appropriation of
wilderness as backdrop selling SUVs, with a meditation on America's
geographical magnificence, creating many moments of humbling awe.

Wojohn seizes America from the war-hucksters, pundits, and
corporate-sponsored culture. He reveals us to ourselves.  Wojohn's
film-making is infused with the same democratic spirit exemplified by
absolutely American artists like poets Whitman and Ginzberg, jazz,
Hendrix, novelist Marge Piercy. Like them, Mark Wojohn reconnects us to
the trancedent possibilites of America's democratic experiment. "What
America Needs" left me feeling more damn hopeful than I've been in a

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From: farheen [at]
Subject: Race peace in Mpls 7.01 9am

During the week of June 29th Race Peace is going to be in Minneapolis. In
partnership with Pangea World Theatre, Main Street Project and
others - they will hosting a number of conversations/ workshops.

You may already know of RACE PEACE a project of Mondo Bizarro and
M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction), under
the mentorship of Junebug Productions and Roadside Theater, which blends
multi-disciplinary performance techniques with interactive dialogue to
incite conversations about race and racism. Race Peace explodes the myth
that civic transformation only takes place at City Hall. Race Peace
believes that true racial progress starts in small gatherings around the

At each of their workshops, Race Peace uses art-making as a tool for
renewing conversations about race. Through art and performance, they
provide an opportunity for people to experiment, celebrate and explore
common bonds; to debate their differences and pursue solutions to ongoing

Race Peace is not attempting to offer a solution to racism. Rather, they
are offering are ways of exploring racism through artistic creation and
dialogue. The goal is to learn, and to bring what they've learned from one
community into the next. We want to listen, to honor people's stories and
to serve as a conduit between communities around the country.

On Wednesday, July 1st from 9am to 12pm - Main Street Project would like
to invite you to one such workshop/conversation. As a cultural organizing
institution - we believe in the power of story-telling for social change
as well as the role of arts and culture in organizing.

Wednesday, July 1
9 am-12 pm
2104 Stevens Ave. South  Minneapolis, MN  55404
RSVP: kathy [at]
Space is limited, and food will be served

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From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Cop kulture/KFAI 7.01 11am

SPECIAL REPORT: The Cop Culture: Fear and Loathing in the Streets -
Part III: Police Accountability and Public Policy

In theory, police internal affairs units ride herd on their own - the only
public agency at any level in charge of investigating itself (although
some federal agencies host offices of inspectors general).  Rare, indeed,
does the internal affairs unit crack down on its fellow officers, despite
being despised by them for even looking into complaints.

Next stop is supposed to be the Civilian Review Authority (Minneapolis) or
Civilian Review Board (St. Paul). Even here, what is supposed to be a
check and balance on the internal review processes fails to sustain
complaints at an alarming level or to hold officers accountable for cruel
and irresponsible - sometimes criminal - behavior. Politics have placed
cops on those boards and authorities, forgetting that the cops are not the
only ones being charged, but already having been through cop-controlled
investigations, should be free from intimidation and participation in
deliberating complaints that reach them.

Prosecutors are reluctant to bring charges against police officers,
reliant as they are on the notion of deference to an an officer's reports
- reports known to be cut from whole cloth, in many cases.  Judges defer
to police even when confronted with substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
Juries, either from fear or undue respect for cops, acquit them of some of
the most violent charges coming into court. How can society function
without holding its armed, armored and powerful and violent law
enforcement officers accountable for their violent, unfair policing and
misdeeds, too often death-dealing - getting away with murder?  How can law
enforcement ever develop trust within the communities officers are
constantly harassing, and why are urban police forces still so dominated
by white males patrolling in a sea of color?

TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and a guest co-host examine the possibilities and
probabilities of holding police procedures, behaviors and coded
silences to account with those people confronting abuses every day,
every week, every year.

 MICHAEL QUINN, retired Minneapolis Police Officer; Author, Walking with
the Devil (Inside the Code of Silence)
 MICHELLE GROSS, Executive Director, CUAPB (Communities Against Police
 JILL CLARK, Criminal Defense Attorney; Plaintiff's Advocate; former
candidate, Minnesota Supreme Court
 WAMENG MOUA - Editor/Publisher, Hmong Today
Podcasts are available for all archived Truth to Tell shows HERE

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From: Mike Schoenberg <geomike [at]>
Subject: McCollum/ health ins 7.01 6pm

This will be the time to let Rep. McCollum hear about our need for
single-payer universal health care insurance.  (Announcement below) We
need to pack the house with advocates. Talk to your friends and neighbors.
Let her hear out concerns.

As Congress prepares to reform America's health care system, Congresswoman
McCollum will host a town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 1 from 6-7:30pm
at the Highland Park Picnic Pavilion in St. Paul.

All residents of the Fourth Congressional District are invited to
participate and share their views on reforms to offer the choice of
affordable health care to all Americans.

Health Care Town Hall Meeting with Congresswoman Betty McCollum
Wednesday, July 1, 6-7:30 pm CDT
Highland Park Picnic Pavilion
1270 Montreal Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55116

From: MN Universal Health Care Coalition <info [at]>

She welcomes you to share you opinion on health care reform.  Please
attend and tell her that you support single-payer health care. Urge her to
co-sign HR 676 (the Conyers' Medicare-For-All bill).  Let her know that
her constituents support real reform.  She so far is not on record
supporting HR 676, single-payer, or even a robust public plan.

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The Truth Alone Will Not Set You Free
by Chris Hedges
Monday, June 29, 2009

The ability of the corporate state to pacify the country by extending
credit and providing cheap manufactured goods to the masses is gone. The
pernicious idea that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands
and the freedom to accumulate vast sums of personal wealth at the expense
of others has collapsed. The conflation of freedom with the free market
has been exposed as a sham. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming
the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance
runs out and people get a taste of Bill Clinton's draconian welfare
reform. And class warfare, once buried under the happy illusion that we
were all going to enter an age of prosperity with unfettered capitalism,
is returning with a vengeance.

Our economic crisis - despite the corporate media circus around the death
of Michael Jackson or Gov. Mark Sanford's marital infidelity or the
outfits of Sacha Baron Cohen's latest incarnation, Brno - barrels forward.
And this crisis will lead to a period of profound political turmoil and
change.  Those who care about the plight of the working class and the poor
must begin to mobilize quickly or we will lose our last opportunity to
save our embattled democracy. The most important struggle will be to wrest
the organs of communication from corporations that use mass media to
demonize movements of social change and empower proto-fascist movements
such as the Christian right.

American culture - or cultures, for we once had distinct regional cultures
- was systematically destroyed in the 20th century by corporations.
These corporations used mass communication, as well as an understanding of
the human subconscious, to turn consumption into an inner compulsion. Old
values of thrift, regional identity that had its own iconography,
aesthetic expression and history, diverse immigrant traditions,
self-sufficiency, a press that was decentralized to provide citizens with
a voice in their communities were all destroyed to create mass, corporate
culture. New desires and habits were implanted by corporate advertisers to
replace the old. Individual frustrations and discontents could be solved,
corporate culture assured us, through the wonders of consumerism and
cultural homogenization. American culture, or cultures, was replaced with
junk culture and junk politics. And now, standing on the ash heap, we
survey the ruins. The very slogans of advertising and mass culture have
become the idiom of common expression, robbing us of the language to make
sense of the destruction. We confuse the manufactured commodity culture
with American culture.

How do we recover what was lost? How do we reclaim the culture that was
destroyed by corporations? How do we fight back now that the consumer
culture has fallen into a state of decay? What can we do to reverse the
cannibalization of government and the national economy by the

All periods of profound change occur in a crisis. It was a crisis that
brought us the New Deal, now largely dismantled by the corporate state. It
was also a crisis that gave the world Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic.
We can go in either direction. Events move at the speed of light when
societies and cultural assumptions break down. There are powerful forces,
which have no commitment to the open society, ready to seize the moment to
snuff out the last vestiges of democratic egalitarianism. Our bankrupt
liberalism, which naively believes that Barack Obama is the antidote to
our permanent war economy and Wall Street fraud, will either rise from its
coma or be rolled over by an organized corporate elite and their
right-wing lap dogs. The corporate domination of the airwaves, of most
print publications and an increasing number of Internet sites means we
will have to search, and search quickly, for alternative forms of
communication to thwart the rise of totalitarian capitalism.

Stuart Ewen, whose books "Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the
Social Roots of the Consumer Culture" and "PR: A Social History of Spin"
chronicle how corporate propaganda deformed American culture and pushed
populism to the margins of American society, argues that we have a
fleeting chance to save the country. I fervently hope he is right. He
attacks the ideology of "objectivity and balance" that has corrupted news,
saying that it falsely evokes the scales of justice. He describes the
curriculum at most journalism schools as "poison."

" 'Balance and objectivity' creates an idea where both sides are
balanced," he said when I spoke to him by phone. "In certain ways it
mirrors the two-party system, the notion that if you are going to have a
Democrat speak you need to have a Republican speak. It offers the phantom
of objectivity. It creates the notion that the universe of discourse is
limited to two positions. Issues become black or white. They are not seen
as complex with a multitude of factors."

Ewen argues that the forces for social change - look at any lengthy and
turgid human rights report - have forgotten that rhetoric is as important
as fact. Corporate and government propaganda, aimed to sway emotions,
rarely uses facts to sell its positions. And because progressives have
lost the gift of rhetoric, which was once a staple of a university
education, because they naively believe in the Enlightenment ideal that
facts alone can move people toward justice, they are largely helpless.

"Effective communication requires not simply an understanding of the
facts, but how those facts will take place in the public mind," Ewen said.
"When Gustave Le Bon says it is not the facts in and of themselves which
make a point but the way in which the facts take place, the way in which
they come to attention, he is right."

The emergence of corporate and government public relations, which drew on
the studies of mass psychology by Sigmund Freud and others after World War
I, found its bible in Walter Lippmann's book "Public Opinion," a manual
for the power elite's shaping of popular sentiments. Lippmann argued that
the key to leadership in the modern age would depend on the ability to
manipulate "symbols which assemble emotions after they have been detached
from their ideas." The public mind could be mastered, he wrote, through an
"intensification of feeling and a degradation of significance."

These corporate forces, schooled by Woodrow Wilson's vast Committee for
Public Information, which sold World War I to the public, learned how to
skillfully mobilize and manipulate the emotional responses of the public.
The control of the airwaves and domination through corporate advertising
of most publications restricted news to reporting facts, to "objectivity
and balance," while the real power to persuade and dominate a public
remained under corporate and governmental control.

Ewen argues that pamphleteering, which played a major role in the 17th and
18th centuries in shaping the public mind, recognized that "the human mind
is not left brain or right brain, that it is not divided by reason which
is good and emotion which is bad."

He argues that the forces of social reform, those organs that support a
search for truth and self-criticism, have mistakenly shunned emotion and
rhetoric because they have been used so powerfully within modern society
to disseminate lies and manipulate public opinion. But this refusal to
appeal to emotion means "we gave up the ghost and accepted the idea that
human beings are these divided selves, binary systems between emotion and
reason, and that emotion gets you into trouble and reason is what leads
you forward. This is not true."

The public is bombarded with carefully crafted images meant to confuse
propaganda with ideology and knowledge with how we feel. Human rights and
labor groups, investigative journalists, consumer watchdog organizations
and advocacy agencies have, in the face of this manipulation, inundated
the public sphere with reports and facts. But facts alone, Ewen says, make
little difference. And as we search for alternative ways to communicate in
a time of crisis we must also communicate in new forms. We must appeal to
emotion as well as to reason. The power of this appeal to emotion is
evidenced in the photographs of Jacob Riis, a New York journalist, who
with a team of assistants at the end of the 19th century initiated
urban-reform photography. His stark portraits of the filth and squalor of
urban slums awakened the conscience of a nation. The photographer Lewis
Hine, at the turn of the 20th century, and Walker Evans during the Great
Depression did the same thing for the working class, along with writers
such as Upton Sinclair and James Agee. It is a recovery of this style, one
that turns the abstraction of fact into a human flesh and one that is not
afraid of emotion and passion, which will permit us to counter the force
of corporate propaganda.

We may know that fossil fuels are destroying our ecosystem. We may be able
to cite the statistics. But the oil and natural gas industry continues its
flagrant rape of the planet. It is able to do this because of the money it
uses to control legislation and a massive advertising campaign that paints
the oil and natural gas industry as part of the solution. A group called, for example, has been running a series of television
ads. One ad features an attractive, middle-aged woman in a black
pantsuit - an actor named Brooke Alexander who once worked as the host of
"WorldBeat" on CNN and for Fox News. Alexander walks around a blue screen
studio that becomes digital renditions of American life. She argues,
before each image, that oil and natural gas are critical to providing not
only energy needs but health care and jobs.

"It is almost like they are taking the most optimistic visions of what the
stimulus package could do and saying this is what the development of oil
and natural gas will bring about," Ewen said. "If you go to the Web site
there is a lot of sophisticated stuff you can play around with. As each ad
closes you see in the lower right-hand corner in very small letters API,
the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying group for ExxonMobil and
all the other big oil companies. For the average viewer there is nothing
in the ad to indicate this is being produced by the oil industry."

The modern world, as Kafka predicted, has become a world where the
irrational has become rational, where lies become true. And facts alone
will be powerless to thwart the mendacity spun out through billions of
dollars in corporate advertising, lobbying and control of traditional
sources of information. We will have to descend into the world of the
forgotten, to write, photograph, paint, sing, act, blog, video and film
with anger and honesty that have been blunted by the parameters of
traditional journalism. The lines between artists, social activists and
journalists have to be erased. These lines diminish the power of reform,
justice and an understanding of the truth. And it is for this purpose that
these lines are there.

"As a writer part of what you are aiming for is to present things in ways
that will resonate with people, which will give voice to feelings and
concerns, feelings that may not be fully verbalized," Ewen said. "You
can't do that simply by providing them with data. One of the major
problems of the present is that those structures designed to promote a
progressive agenda are antediluvian."

Corporate ideology, embodied in neoconservatism, has seeped into the
attitudes of most self-described liberals. It champions unfettered
capitalism and globalization as eternal. This is the classic tactic that
power elites use to maintain themselves. The loss of historical memory,
which "balanced and objective" journalism promotes, has only contributed
to this fantasy. But the fantasy, despite the desperate raiding of
taxpayer funds to keep the corporate system alive, is now coming undone.
The lie is being exposed. And the corporate state is running scared.

"It is very important for people like us to think about ways to present
the issues, whether we are talking about the banking crisis, health care
or housing and homelessness," Ewen said. "We have to think about
presenting these issues in ways that are two steps ahead of the media
rather than two steps behind. That is not something we should view as an
impossible task. It is a very possible task. There is evidence of how
possible that task is, especially if you look at the development of the
underground press in the 1960s. The underground press, which started
cropping up all over the country, was not a marginal phenomenon. It
leeched into the society. It developed an approach to news and
communication that was 10 steps ahead of the mainstream media. The proof
is that even as it declined, so many structures that were innovated by the
underground press, things like The Whole Earth Catalogue, began to affect
and inform the stylistic presentation of mainstream media."

"I am not a prophet," Ewen said. "All I can do is look at historical
precedence and figure out the extent we can learn from it. This is not
about looking backwards. If you can't see the past you can't see the
future. If you can't see the relationship between the present and the past
you can't understand where the present might go. Who controls the past
controls the present, who controls the present controls the future, as
George Orwell said. This is a succinct explanation of the ways in which
power functions."

"Read 'The Gettysburg Address,' " Ewen said. "Read Frederick Douglass'
autobiography or his newspaper. Read 'The Communist Manifesto.' Read
Darwin's 'Descent of Man.' All of these things are filled with an
understanding that communicating ideas and producing forms of public
communication that empower people, rather than disempowering people,
relies on an integrated understanding of who the public is and what it
might be. We have a lot to learn from the history of rhetoric. We need to
think about where we are going. We need to think about what 21st century
pamphleteering might be. We need to think about the ways in which the
rediscovery of rhetoric - not lying, but rhetoric in its more conventional
sense - can affect what we do. We need to look at those historical
antecedents where interventions happened that stepped ahead of the news.
And to some extent this is happening. We have the freest and most open
public sphere since the village square."

The battle ahead will be fought outside the journalistic mainstream, he
said. The old forms of journalism are dying or have sold their soul to
corporate manipulation and celebrity culture. We must now wed fact to
rhetoric. We must appeal to reason and emotion. We must not be afraid to
openly take sides, to speak, photograph or write on behalf of the
disempowered. And, Ewen believes, we have a chance in the coming crisis to

"Pessimism is never useful," he said. "Realism is useful, understanding
the forces that are at play. To quote Antonio Gramsci, 'pessimism of the
intellect, optimism of the will.' "

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle, will be out in July, but is available for

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From Bolivia to Honduras
Coups and Constitutions
June 29, 2009

Even in the best of times a coup in Honduras wouldn't get much coverage in
the U.S. since most North Americans couldn't find the country on a map
and, moreover, would have no reason to do so. Nevertheless, those in the
U.S. who have been alert to the changes in Latin America over the past
decade and almost everyone south of the border know that the coup d'etat
(or "golpe de estado") against President Manuel Zelaya has profound
implications for the region and, in fact, all of Latin America. While the
US press will glance from their intent gaze at reruns and specials on
Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett only long enough to report on President
Obama's reaction to the coup, Latin Americans will keep their eyes on the
governments of the region as well as the social movements in Honduras as
they search for a key to how the whole affair will turn out.

In a power play between President Zelaya who maneuvered (some say
illegally) to push a referendum on the constitution, and a congress that
see their jobs possibly go on the line if there is a new constitution, the
military played the decisive role and ousted Zelaya in the early hours of
the morning on Sunday, June 28, 2009, preempting the national referendum.
After producing a forged letter of resignation, supposedly from President
Zelaya, president of the congress, Roberto Micheletti, was sworn in. From
exile in Costa Rica, President Zelaya denounced the forgery and maintained
that he continued to be the only legitimate president of Honduras.
Meanwhile, back at Micheletti's solemn swearing-in ceremony, the AP
reported, "outside of Congress, a group of about 150 people opposed to
Zelaya's ouster stood well back from police lines and shook their fists,
chanting 'Out with the bourgeoisie!' and 'Traitors!'".

Venezuelan-based Telesur, however, gave a distinctly different impression
of the scene. It reported at least one hundred times that many people ("at
least 15,000" - there were other estimates of 20,000) were gathered in a
strike and a leader of the Bloque Sindical Popular (Popular Union Block),
ngel Alvarado, was calling for a general strike the following day. On the
evening after the coup, Micheletti's government put the country under
curfew enforced by the military which also enforced a ban on all news of
the golpe. Meanwhile, regional leaders and members of ALBA (Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas) met in Nicaragua where Chvez recalled the
similarities between what happened to him in Venezuela in April, 2002 and
the events in Honduras. Chvez ended his tale calling on the "golpistas"
(those who carried out the coup) to surrender, while Ecuadoran President
Rafael Correa demanded that they be tried for treason.

If possibility for support for the "golpistas" looked slim in Latin
America, things didn't look better up north. Indeed, what was most
striking about the coup, if the Wall Street Journal can be believed, is
that it appears that the new administration of President Obama was opposed
to the coup even in the planning stage. Paul Kiernan and Jose de Cordoba
report in the Wall Street Journal that "the Obama administration and
members of the Organization of American States had worked for weeks to try
to avert any moves to overthrow President Zelaya". Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton stated bluntly that "The action taken against Honduran
President Manuel Zelaya violates the precepts of the Inter-American
Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all".

For those hoping to see a new US policy in the region, this is indeed
reason to be guardedly optimistic, even more so since Zelaya is a close
ally to Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez. This will be among the first
military coups in fifty-five years of coups throughout the continent that
the U.S. wouldn't have either perpetrated or backed after the fact - the
first one being the four-hour-long coup in Ecuador in January, 2000,
carried out by center-leftists.

The Wall Street Journal article, however, offered a hardly credible reason
for the coup: "Voicing the fears that sparked the military's action,
retired Honduran Gen. Daniel Lpez Carballo justified the move against the
president, telling CNN en Espaol that Mr. Zelaya was a stooge for Mr.
Chvez. He said that if the military hadn't acted, Mr. Chvez would
eventually be running Honduras by proxy".

While it's true that the most reactionary forces in the region see
sinister motives behind Chavez's generosity and do all they can to
demonize the Venezuelan leader, the more obvious reason for the coup was
the fact that Zelaya had called a referendum on the constitution, an act
which has drawn a similar response from reactionaries in other countries
in Latin America. The problems are the same: progressive leaders enter
power on a wave of popular support only to find their hands bound by
constitutions written by their neoliberal predecessors of the 1990s under
the tutelage of Washington. The new leaders then face the choice of
playing by the very limited rules of the neoliberal constitution or
writing up a new charter. Even the proposal of new rules enrages the local
oligarchy which, of course, was behind the neoliberal constitution in the
first place, and the opposition to constitutions aimed at democratizing
power has grown with each successive process.

President Hugo Chavez was the first progressive president of the region to
call for a referendum on a nation's constitution after his election. The
Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was written by
thousands across the country and passed in popular referendum by nearly
72% of the people in a popular vote, establishing the "Fifth Republic".
Chavez then ran again for president, was re-elected with an even larger
margin than before, and he now had the possibility of carrying out reforms
that would have been impossible under the old, 1961 constitution of the
Fourth Republic.

While the Venezuelan process was peaceful, when Rafael Correa came to
power in Ecuador, his call for a constituent assembly to write the new
constitution frightened the old congress, almost cost him his job and led
to street battles and the cordoning off of the congress. Eventually that
crisis passed, with Correa beating the old congress and a winning a new
Constitution, the first in the world to guarantee the rights of Mother
Earth and nature.

That mini battle in Ecuador between congressmen and police, however, was
nothing compared to what nearly became a civil war in Bolivia over the
proposed new constitution. The crisis, which left over 100 dead in the
department of Pando, and nearly brought about the succession of the "Media
Luna" departments from Bolivia, was eventually resolved and in the process
set a new precedent for diplomacy in the region. For the first time in
modern history a political crisis in Latin America was resolved not by the
U.S. dominated OAS but by the newly formed UNASUR (Union of South American
Nations) at a meeting held in Santiago, Chile presided over by the
center-left President Michelle Bachelet and the notable absence of the
United States, whose representatives were not invited. This was the first
test of the newly formed UNASUR which had until then existed largely only
on paper, and it was viewed everywhere as a great success, proving that
the nations of the South American continent could resolve their own
problems more effectively among themselves than under the aegis of the
imperial eagle of the north. Evo returned to Bolivia with the full backing
of UNASUR and nine countries of the region (including the neoliberal
governments of Peru and Colombia) and eventually the "Media Luna" had to
submit. The new Constitution was passed in the referendum in January of
this year.

While it's impossible to say how the coup in Honduras will play out, the
new president sworn in on the day of the coup, Roberto Micheletti may fare
only a little better than the unfortunate Pedro Carmona,
President-for-a-day in Venezuela (April 12-13, 2002) when Chavez was
briefly overthrown. Micheletti hasn't a single ally in Latin America, and
even the Empire now seems to be resigned to the fact that military coups
are a thing of the past and has turned its back on him. Elections and
constitutions aimed at the transformation of nations in Latin America from
"representative" to "participatory" democracy seem to be the wave of the
future that even well-armed militaries will no longer be able to oppose.

Clifton Ross is the writer and director of the feature-length movie,
"Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out" (2008,,
author of "Translations from Silence" ( and half a
dozen books on Latin America. He can be reached at clifross [at]

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

Obama's Real Message to Latin America?
The Coup in Honduras
June 29, 2009

Could the diplomatic thaw between Venezuela and the United States be
coming to an abrupt end?  At the recent Summit of the Americas held in
Port of Spain, Barack Obama shook Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's hand
and declared that he would pursue a less arrogant foreign policy towards
Latin America.  Building on that good will, Venezuela and the United
States agreed to restore their ambassadors late last week. Such diplomatic
overtures provided a stark contrast to the miserable state of relations
during the Bush years: just nine months ago Venezuela expelled the U.S.
envoy in a diplomatic tussle.  At the time, Chavez said he kicked the U.S.
ambassador out to demonstrate solidarity with left ally Bolivia, which had
also expelled a top American diplomat after accusing him of blatant
political interference in the Andean nation's internal affairs.

Whatever goodwill existed last week however could now be undone by
turbulent political events in Honduras.  Following the military coup
d'etat there on Sunday, Chavez accused the U.S. of helping to orchestrate
the overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.  "Behind these soldiers
are the Honduran bourgeois, the rich who converted Honduras into a Banana
Republic, into a political and military base for North American
imperialism," Chavez thundered.  The Venezuelan leader urged the Honduran
military to return Zelaya to power and even threatened military action
against the coup regime if Venezuela's ambassador was killed or local
troops entered the Venezuelan Embassy.  Reportedly, Honduran soldiers beat
the ambassador and left him on the side of a road in the course of the
military coup.  Tensions have ratcheted up to such an extent that Chavez
has now placed his armed forces on alert.

On the surface at least it seems unlikely that Obama would endorse an
interventionist U.S. foreign policy in Central America.  Over the past few
months he has gone to great lengths to "re-brand" America in the eyes of
the world as a reasonable power engaged in respectful diplomacy as opposed
to reckless unilateralism.  If it were ever proven that Obama sanctioned
the overthrow of a democratically elected government this could completely
undermine the U.S. President's carefully crafted image.

Officially, the military removed Zelaya from power on the grounds that the
Honduran President had abused his authority.  On Sunday Zelaya hoped to
hold a constitutional referendum which could have allowed him to run for
reelection for another four year term, a move which Honduras' Supreme
Court and Congress declared illegal. But while the controversy over
Zelaya's constitutional referendum certainly provided the excuse for
military intervention, it's no secret that the President was at odds
politically with the Honduran elite for the past few years and had become
one of Washington's fiercest critics in the region.

                       The Rise of Zelaya

Zelaya, who sports a thick black mustache, cowboy boots and large white
Stetson hat, was elected in late 2005.  At first blush he hardly seemed
the type of politician to rock the boat.  A landowner from a wealthy
landowning family engaged in the lumber industry, Zelaya headed the
Liberal Party, one of the two dominant political parties in Honduras.  The
President supported the Central American Free Trade Agreement which
eliminated trade barriers with the United States.

Despite these initial conservative leanings, Zelaya began to criticize
powerful, vested interests in the country such as the media and owners of
maquiladora sweatshops which produced goods for export in industrial free
zones.  Gradually he started to adopt some socially progressive policies.
For example, Zelaya instituted a 60 per cent minimum wage increase which
angered the wealthy business community.  The hike in the minimum wage,
Zelaya declared, would "force the business oligarchy to start paying what
is fair".  "This is a government of great social transformations,
committed to the poor," he added.  Trade unions celebrated the decision,
not surprising given that Honduras is the third poorest country in the
hemisphere and 70 per cent of its people live in poverty.  When private
business associations announced that they would challenge the government's
wage decree in Honduras' Supreme Court, Zelaya's Labor Minister called the
critics "greedy exploiters".

In another move that must have raised eyebrows in Washington, Zelaya
declared during a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean anti-drug
officials that drug consumption should be legalized to halt violence
related to smuggling.  In recent years Honduras has been plagued by drug
trafficking and so-called maras or street gangs which carry out gruesome
beheadings, rapes and eye gouging.  "Instead of pursuing drug traffickers,
societies should invest resources in educating drug addicts and curbing
their demand," Zelaya said.  Rodolfo Zelaya, the head of a Honduran
congressional commission on drug trafficking, rejected Zelaya's comments.
He told participants at the meeting that he was "confused and stunned by
what the Honduran leader said".

                         Zelaya and ALBA

Not content to stop there, Zelaya started to conduct an increasingly more
independent foreign policy.  In late 2007 he traveled to Cuba, the first
official trip by a Honduran president to the Communist island in 46 years.
There, Zelaya met with Raul Castro to discuss bilateral relations and
other topics of mutual interest.

But what really led Zelaya towards a political collision course with the
Honduran elite was his decision to join the Bolivarian Alternative for the
Americas (known by its Spanish acronym ALBA), an alliance of leftist Latin
American and Caribbean nations headed by Chavez.  The regional trade group
including Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Dominica seeks to
counteract corporate-friendly U.S-backed free trade schemes.  Since its
founding in 2004, ALBA countries have promoted joint factories and banks,
an emergency food fund, and exchanges of cheap Venezuelan oil for food,
housing, and educational investment.

In an emphatic departure from previous Honduran leaders who had been
compliant vassals of the U.S., Zelaya stated "Honduras and the Honduran
people do not have to ask permission of any imperialism to join the ALBA".
Speaking in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa before a crowd of 50,000
unionists, women's groups, farmers and indigenous peoples, Chavez remarked
that Venezuela would guarantee cheap oil to Honduras for "at least 100
years".  By signing onto ALBA, Zelaya was able to secure access to credit
lines, energy and food benefits.  As an act of good faith, Chavez agreed
forgive Honduran debt to Venezuela amounting to $30 million.

Infuriating the local elite, Chavez declared that Hondurans who opposed
ALBA were "sellouts".  "I did not come here to meddle in internal
affairs," he continued, "but I cannot explain how a Honduran could be
against Honduras joining the ALBA, the path of development, the path of
integration". Chavez lambasted the Honduran press which he labeled
pitiyanquis (little Yanqui imitators) and "abject hand-lickers of the
Yanquis".  For his part, Zelaya said "we need no one's permission to sign
this commitment. Today we are taking a step towards becoming a government
of the center-left, and if anyone dislikes this, well just remove the word
'center' and keep the second one."

It wasn't long before private business started to attack Zelaya bitterly
for moving Honduras into Chavez's orbit.  By joining ALBA, business
representatives argued, the President was endangering free enterprise and
the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States.  Former
President Ricardo Maduro even claimed that the United States might
retaliate against Honduras by deporting Honduran migrants from the United
States.  "Don't bite the hand that feeds you," Maduro warned, alluding to
Washington.  Zelaya was piqued by the criticisms.  "When I met with (U.S.
President) George W. Bush," he said, "no one called me an anti-imperialist
and the business community applauded me. Now that I am meeting with the
impoverished peoples of the world, they criticize me".

                    Zelaya's Letter to Obama

In September, 2008 Zelaya further strained U.S. relations by delaying
accreditation of the new U.S. ambassador out of solidarity with Bolivia
and Venezuela which had just gone through diplomatic dust ups with
Washington.  "We are not breaking relations with the United States,"
Zelaya said. "We only are (doing this) in solidarity with [Bolivian
President] Morales, who has denounced the meddling of the United States in
Bolivia's internal affairs".  Defending his decision, Zelaya said small
nations needed to stick together.  "The world powers must treat us fairly
and with respect," he stated.

In November, Zelaya hailed Obama's election in the U.S. as "a hope for the
world - but just two months later tensions began to emerge.  In an
audacious letter sent personally to Obama, Zelaya accused the U.S. of
"interventionism" and called on the new administration in Washington to
respect the principle of non-interference in the political affairs of
other nations.  According to Spanish news agency EFE which saw a copy of
the note, Zelaya told Obama that it wasn't his intention to tell the U.S.
President what he should or should not do.

He then however went on to do precisely that.  First of all, Zelaya
brought up the issue of U.S. visas and urged Obama to "revise the
procedure by which visas are cancelled or denied to citizens of different
parts of the world as a means of pressure against those people who hold
different beliefs or ideologies which pose no threat to the U.S".

As if that was not impudent enough, Zelaya then moved on to drug
trafficking: "The legitimate struggle against drug trafficking should not
be used as an excuse to carry out interventionist policies in other
countries".  The struggle against drug smuggling, Zelaya wrote, "should
not be divorced from a vigorous policy of controlling distribution and
consumer demand in all countries, as well as money laundering which
operates through financial circuits and which involve networks within
developed countries".

Zelaya also argued "for the urgent necessity" of revising and transforming
the structure of the United Nations and "to solve the Venezuela and
Bolivia problems" through dialogue which "yields better fruit than
confrontation".  The Cuban embargo, meanwhile, "was a useless instrument"
and "a means of unjust pressure and violation of human rights".

                       Run Up to June Coup

It's unclear what Obama might have made of the audacious letter sent from
the leader of a small Central American nation.  It does seem however that
Zelaya became somewhat disenchanted with the new administration in
Washington.  Just three months ago, the Honduran leader declined to attend
a meeting of the System for Central American Integration (known by its
Spanish acronym SICA) which would bring Central American Presidents
together with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Both Zelaya and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua boycotted the
meeting, viewing it as a diplomatic affront.  Nicaragua currently holds
the presidency of SICA, and so the proper course of action should have
been for Biden to have Ortega hold the meeting.  Sandinista economist and
former Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Trade Alejandro Martnez Cuenca
declared that the United States had missed a vital opportunity to
encourage a new era of relations with Central America by "prioritizing
personal relations with [Costa Rican President] Arias over respect for
Central America's institutional order"..

Could all of the contentious diplomatic back and forth between Tegucigalpa
and Washington have turned the Obama administration against Zelaya?  In
the days ahead there will surely be a lot of attention and scrutiny paid
to the role of Romeo Vasquez, a General who led the military coup against
Zelaya.  Vasquez is a graduate of the notorious U.S. School of the
Americas, an institution which trained the Latin American military in

Are we to believe that the United States had no role in coordinating with
Vasquez and the coup plotters?  The U.S. has had longstanding military
ties to the Honduran armed forces, particularly during the Contra War in
Nicaragua during the 1980s.  The White House, needless to say, has
rejected claims that the U.S. played a role.  The New York Times has
reported claims that the Obama administration knew that a coup was
imminent and tried to persuade the military to back down.  The paper
writes that it was the Honduran military which broke off discussions with
American officials.  Obama himself has taken the high road, remarking "I
call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic
norms [and] the rule of law. Any existing tensions and disputes must be
resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference".

Even if the Obama administration did not play an underhanded role in this
affair, the Honduran coup highlights growing geo-political tensions in the
region.  In recent years, Chavez has sought to extend his influence to
smaller Central American and Caribbean nations.  The Venezuelan leader
shows no intention of backing down over the Honduran coup, remarking that
ALBA nations "will not recognize any [Honduran] government that isn't

Chavez then derided Honduras' interim president, Roberto Micheletti.  "Mr.
Roberto Micheletti will either wind up in prison or he'll need to go into
exile. If they swear him in we'll overthrow him, mark my words.
Thugetti--as I'm going to refer to him from now on--you better pack your
bags, because you're either going to jail or you're going into exile.
We're not going to forgive your error, you're going to get swept out of
there.  We're not going to let it happen, we're going to make life
impossible for you.  President Manuel Zelaya needs to retake his position
as president".

With tensions running high, heads of ALBA nations have vowed to meet in
Managua to discuss the coup in Honduras.  Zelaya, who was exiled to Costa
Rica from Honduras, plans to fly to Nicaragua to speak with his
colleagues.  With such political unity amongst ALBA nations, Obama will
have to decide what the public U.S. posture ought to be.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of
the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008) Follow his blog at


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