Progressive Calendar 07.01.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2009 15:01:53 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    07.01.09

1. Health care forum 7.01 6pm

2. Eagan peace vigil 7.02 4:30pm
3. Northtown vigil   7.02 5pm

4. PC Roberts - Israel kidnaps peace boat crew: pirates of the Med.
5. Alberto Thorensen    - Honduras: why Zelaya's actions were legal
6. Figueroa-Clark et al - Honduras: a coup with no future

--------1 of 6--------

From: John Kolstad <jkolstad [at] millcitymusic.com>
Subject: Health care forum 7.01 6pm

Forum: Solving the Health Care Crisis
Wednesday, July 1
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
UCare 500 Stinson Blvd NE, Mpls, 55413.
Welcome: Nancy Feldman, CEO of UCare, welcomes participants.

Introduction: Rep. Keith Ellison.

Julie Schnell, President of SEIU Health Care MN. Julie, representing
Health Care for American Now, will speak on the need for health care
reform.

Eliot Seide, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 5. Eliot will speak
about the need to make health care more affordable.

Elizabeth Frost, Physicians for a National Health Plan. Elizabeth will
present PNHP's view that single-payer health care is the best solution to
America's health care crisis.

John Kolstad, Metro Independent Business Association. John will talk about
how small businesses will benefit from health care reform.

Val Overton, Nurse Practitioner, Fairview Health Services. Val will
present Fairview's view that everyone should have coverage, that reform
should support and reward innovation, and that reform should reward
high-quality, low-cost providers.

Michael Harristhal, Vice President, Public Policy and Strategy, HCMC.
Michael will speak about the need for more consistent, rational funding
mechanisms for clinics such as HCMC.

Rep. Keith Ellison will speak on the legislative atmosphere around
health care reform.

Discussion and Next Steps. Rep. Keith Ellison will moderate a discussion
on how constituencies with different approaches and needs can work
together to pass health care reform.

Wrap-up.

*PLEASE NOTE: Please save questions from the audience until after the
full panel has presented.


--------2 of 6--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 7.02 4:30pm

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


--------3 of 6--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 7.02 5pm

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

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

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


--------4 of 6--------

Israel Kidnaps Peace Boat Crew
Pirates of the Mediterranean
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
CounterPunch
July 1, 2009

On June 30, the government of Israel committed an act of piracy when the
Israeli Navy in international waters illegally boarded the "Spirit of
Humanity" kidnapped its 21-person crew from 11 countries, including
former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead
MaGuire, and confiscated the cargo of medical supplies, olive trees,
reconstruction materials, and children's toys that were on the way to the
Mediterranean coast of Gaza. The "Spirit of Humanity," along with the
kidnapped 21 persons, is being towed to Israel as I write.

Gaza has been described as the "world's largest concentration camp". It is
home to 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven by force of
American-supplied Israeli arms out of their homes, off their farms, and
out of their villages so that Israel could steal their land and make the
Palestinian land available to Israeli settlers.

What we have been witnessing for 60 years is a replay in modern times,
despite the United Nations and laws strictly preventing Israel's theft of
Palestine, of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century theft of American Indian
lands by US settlers. An Israeli government spokesman recently rebuked the
President of the United States, a country, the Israeli said, who stole all
of its land from Indians, for complaining about Israel's theft of
Palestine.

I knew the "Spirit of Humanity" would fall to Israeli piracy the minute I
received on June 25 from an official of an Israeli peace organization a
"public advisory" that the government of Cyprus had withheld permission
for the "Spirit of Humanity" to leave for Gaza. The US State Department
had advised that "The Israeli Foreign Ministry informed U.S. officials at
the American Embassy in Tel Aviv that Israel still considers Gaza an area
of conflict and that any boats attempting to sail to Gaza will not be
permitted to reach its destination". The "Spirit of Humanity" obtained
permission to leave Cyprus when all aboard signed a waiver absolving
Cyprus of all responsibility for the crew's safety at the hands of the
Israelis.

As President Obama has called for humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza, and
as the International Red Cross has damned the inhumanity of Israel's
blockade of Gaza, the question that immediately comes to mind is why did
not the United States send sufficient US Navy escort to see the "Spirit of
Humanity" safely through international waters to Gaza? We send ships
against Somalian pirates, why not against Israeli ones?

We all know the answer. The US talks a good "human rights" game, but never
delivers--especially if the human rights abuser is Israel. After all,
Israel owns the US Congress and President Obama. Israel even has an
Israeli citizen and former member of the Israeli Defense Forces as the
Chief-of-Staff in Obama's White House. Israel owns millions of American
"Christian Zionists" and "rapture evangelicans". When it comes to Israel,
the American government is a puppet state. It does what it is told.

Macho Americans might stand tall, but not when Israel snaps its fingers.

Israel, of course, will get away with a mere act of piracy. After all,
Israel has been getting away with its war crimes and violations of
international law for 60 years. If the UN tries to do anything, the US
will veto it, as the US has done for decades.

What will happen to the kidnapped foreign nationals? Most likely they will
be released and sent back to their respective countries. Israel, of
course, will keep the stolen "Spirit of Humanity" to foreclose any further
attempts by human rights activists to run Israel's inhumane blockade of
Gaza.

On the other hand, Israel might declare its captives to be terrorists on
the ground that the Gazans elected in a free election Hamas as their
government. Hamas, unlike Israel, is declared to be a terrorist
organization by the puppet American State Department in Washington. Thus
the human rights activists onboard the "Spirit of Humanity" are aiding and
abetting terrorists by delivering goods to them. The US Department of
Justice (sic) prosecutes American citizens and charities for sending aid
to Palestinians on the grounds that Palestinians, if not everyone a
terrorist, are governed by terrorists.

I wouldn't be surprised if a Nobel Laureate and a former member of the US
House of Representatives, along with the rest of the crew, are handed over
to the Americans for indefinite detention and for torturing and
waterboarding in the American torture facility at Bagram. I am certain
that "Homeland Security" and the US Government are desperate to be rid of
all of critics, and knocking off a Nobel Laureate and a member of the
House sets a precedent for getting rid of the rest of us.

Meanwhile, California, which has become a failed state, has been denied
bailout money from Washington. Israel, which has been a failed state for
60 years, can, unlike the American state of California, always count of
Washington to deliver the money and the weapons to keep Israel going.

The same week that "our" government in Washington told the Governor of
California "not one red cent," President Barak Obama handed over $2.775
billion to Israel.

Online Journal (June 29) reported that the handover to Israel of the
unemployed Americans' tax dollars took place in a "tiny Capitol room" to
which members of the press were denied access. I mean, really, who wants
the media writing about US taxpayer dollars for Israel's nuclear weapons
while Americans are being kicked out of their homes. Not that, of course,
the "Christian" supporters of Israel would mind.

Unlike every other recipient of US military largesse, Israel is permitted
to bypass the Pentagon and to deal directly with US suppliers.
Consequently, the Israel Lobby's influence multiplies, because military
suppliers fight for Israel in congressional committees in order to get
Israel's business. This lets Israel turn the screws on Iran. According to
Grant F. Smith writing in Online Journal, Republican US Representative
Mark Steven from Illinois has received $221,000 in campaign contributions
from Israel political action committees (PACs). Therefore, it was a sure
thing that he would introduce legislation preventing the Import-Export
bank from providing loan guarantees to countries doing business with Iran.

Americans think that they are a superpower, but in fact they are a
stupor-power. A puppet state if truth be known.

There is a great deal of evidence (see Jonathan Cook's excellent piece on
this site yesterday) that Israel is a child abuser. "God's Chosen People"
routinely abuses captured Palestinian children. The Israelis also abuse
Palestinian children by shooting them down in the streets.

Don't take my word for it. The Geneva-based Defense for Children
International says, according to Time Magazine, that "the ill-treatment
and torture of Palestinian child prisoners appears to be widespread,
systematic and institutionalized, suggesting complicity at all levels of
the political and military chain of command".

According to Time Magazine, "Often, children suffer lasting traumas from
jail. Says Saleh Nazzal from the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs,
'When soldiers burst into a house and drag away a child, he loses his
feeling of being protected by his family. He comes back from prison
alienated from his family, his friends. They don'.t like going back to
school or even leaving the house. They start wetting their beds'". Says
Mona Zaghrout, a YMCA counselor who helps kids returning from prison:
"They come out of prison thinking and acting like they are men. Their
childhood is gone.. And they often turn to another father figure--the
armed militant groups fighting the Israeli occupation".

And so it goes. There's no money for California, or for Americans' health
care, or for the several million Americans who have lost their homes and
are homeless, because Israel needs it. Israel needs the Americans'
taxpayers money so that it can create even more enemies, and, therefore,
need more American money to spend with the American armament industries to
oppress more Palestinians and to make more enemies, requiring more
American money to protect Israel from its folly and its evil.

And the brainwashed American public goes along year after year.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be
reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com


--------5 of 6--------

Behind the Honduran Coup
Why Zelaya's Actions Were Legal
By ALBERTO VALLENTE THORENSEN
July 1, 2009
CounterPunch

In the classic Greek tragedy, Prometheus Bound, the playwright observes:
"Of wrath's disease wise words the healers are". Shortly put, this story
is about Prometheus, a titan who was punished by the almighty gods for
having given humanity the capacity to create fire. This generated a
conflict, which ended with Prometheus' banishment and exile.

Currently, there is a tragedy being staged in the Central American
republic Honduras. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity follows the events, as
spectators of an outdated event in Latin America, which could set a very
unfortunate undemocratic precedent for the region. In their rage, the
almighty gods of Honduran politics have punished an aspiring titan,
President Manuel Zelaya, for attempting to give Hondurans the gift of
participatory democracy. This generated a constitutional conflict that
resulted in president Zelaya's banishment and exile. In this tragedy,
words are once again the healers of enraged minds. If we, the spectators,
are not attentive to these words, we risk succumbing intellectually,
willfully accepting the facts presented by the angry coup-makers and
Honduran gods of politics.

In this respect, media coverage of the recent military coup in Honduras is
often misleading; even when it is presenting a critical standpoint towards
the events. Concentrating on which words are used to characterize the
policies conducted by President Zelaya might seem trivial at first sight.
But any familiarity to the notion of "manufacturing of consent", and how
slight semantic tricks can be used to manipulate public opinion and
support, is enough to realize the magnitude of certain omissions. Such
oversights rely on the public's widespread ignorance about some apparently
minor legal intricacies in the Honduran Constitution.

For example, most reports have stated that Manuel Zelaya was ousted from
his country's presidency after he tried to carry out a non-binding
referendum to extend his term in office. But this is not completely
accurate. Such presentation of "facts" merely contributes to legitimizing
the propaganda, which is being employed by the coup-makers in Honduras to
justify their actions. This interpretation is widespread in US-American
liberal environments, especially after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
said that the coup is unacceptable, but that "all parties have a
responsibility to address the underlying problems that led to [Sunday]'s
events". However, President Zelaya cannot be held responsible for this
flagrant violation of the Honduran democratic institutions that he has
tried to expand. This is what has actually happened:

The Honduran Supreme Court of Justice, Attorney General, National
Congress, Armed Forces and Supreme Electoral Tribunal have all falsely
accused Manuel Zelaya of attempting a referendum to extend his term in
office.

According to Honduran law, this attempt would be illegal. Article 239 of
the Honduran Constitution clearly states that persons, who have served as
presidents, cannot be presidential candidates again. The same article also
states that public officials who breach this article, as well as those
that help them, directly or indirectly, will automatically lose their
immunity and are subject to persecution by law. Additionally, articles 374
and 5 of the Honduran Constitution of 1982 (with amendments of 2005),
clearly state that: "it is not possible to reform the Constitution
regarding matters about the form of government, presidential periods,
re-election and Honduran territory", and that "reforms to article 374 of
this Constitution are not subject to referendum".

Nevertheless, this is far from what President Zelaya attempted to do in
Honduras the past Sunday and which the Honduran political/military elites
disliked so much. President Zelaya intended to perform a non-binding
public consultation, about the conformation of an elected National
Constituent Assembly. To do this, he invoked article 5 of the Honduran
"Civil Participation Act" of 2006. According to this act, all public
functionaries can perform non-binding public consultations to inquire what
the population thinks about policy measures. This act was approved by the
National Congress and it was not contested by the Supreme Court of
Justice, when it was published in the Official Paper of 2006. That is,
until the president of the republic employed it in a manner that was not
amicable to the interests of the members of these institutions.

Furthermore, the Honduran Constitution says nothing against the
conformation of an elected National Constituent Assembly, with the mandate
to draw up a completely new constitution, which the Honduran public would
need to approve. Such a popular participatory process would bypass the
current liberal democratic one specified in article 373 of the current
constitution, in which the National Congress has to approve with 2/3 of
the votes, any reform to the 1982 Constitution, excluding reforms to
articles 239 and 374. This means that a perfectly legal National
Constituent Assembly would have a greater mandate and fewer limitations
than the National Congress, because such a National Constituent Assembly
would not be reforming the Constitution, but re-writing it. The National
Constituent Assembly's mandate would come directly from the Honduran
people, who would have to approve the new draft for a constitution, unlike
constitutional amendments that only need 2/3 of the votes in Congress.
This popular constitution would be more democratic and it would contrast
with the current 1982 Constitution, which was the product of a context
characterized by counter-insurgency policies supported by the
US-government, civil facade military governments and undemocratic
policies.  In opposition to other legal systems in the Central American
region that (directly or indirectly) participated in the civil wars of the
1980s, the Honduran one has not been deeply affected by peace agreements
and a subsequent reformation of the role played by the Armed Forces.

Recalling these observations, we can once again take a look at the
widespread assumption that Zelaya was ousted as president after he tried
to carry out a non-binding referendum to extend his term in office.

The poll was certainly non-binding, and therefore also not subject to
prohibition. However it was not a referendum, as such public consultations
are generally understood. Even if it had been, the objective was not to
extend Zelaya's term in office. In this sense, it is important to point
out that Zelaya's term concludes in January 2010. In line with article 239
of the Honduran Constitution of 1982, Zelaya is not participating in the
presidential elections of November 2009, meaning that he could have not
been reelected. Moreover, it is completely uncertain what the probable
National Constituent Assembly would have suggested concerning matters of
presidential periods and re-elections. These suggestions would have to be
approved by all Hondurans and this would have happened at a time when
Zelaya would have concluded his term. Likewise, even if the Honduran
public had decided that earlier presidents could become presidential
candidates again, this disposition would form a part of a completely new
constitution. Therefore, it cannot be regarded as an amendment to the 1982
Constitution and it would not be in violation of articles 5, 239 and 374.
The National Constituent Assembly, with a mandate from the people, would
derogate the previous constitution before approving the new one. The
people, not president Zelaya, who by that time would be ex-president
Zelaya, would decide.

It is evident that the opposition had no legal case against President
Zelaya. All they had was speculation about perfectly legal scenarios which
they strongly disliked. Otherwise, they could have followed a legal
procedure sheltered in article 205 nr. 22 of the 1982 Constitution, which
states that public officials that are suspected to violate the law are
subject to impeachment by the National Congress. As a result they
helplessly unleashed a violent and barbaric preemptive strike, which has
threatened civility, democracy and stability in the region.

It is fundamental that media channels do not fall into omissions that can
delay the return of democracy to Honduras and can weaken the condemnation
issued by strong institutions, like the United States government. It is
also important that individuals are informed, so that they can have a
critical attitude to media reports. Honduras needs democracy back now, and
international society can play an important role in achieving this by not
engaging in irresponsible oversimplifications.

Alberto Valiente Thoresen was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. He
currently resides in Norway where he serves on the board of the Norwegian
Solidarity Committee with Latin America. He wrote this column for Rebel
Reports.


--------6 of 6--------

The Usurpers of Tegucigalpa
Honduras: a Coup With No Future
By VICTOR FIGUEROA-CLARK and PABLO NAVARRETE
CounterPunch
July 1, 2009

Sunday's overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has vividly raised
the spectre of Latin America's dark history: coups de etat and brutal
military dictatorships. In a break with the past however, the region is
speaking in unison, condemning the new dictatorship and calling for Zelaya
to be reinstated as President. And significantly, the US government has
joined its southern neighbours in rejecting the new dictatorship and
recognising Zelaya as Honduras' only legitimate president.

Regional bodies such as the OAS, the Rio Group, ALBA, Mercosur and UNASUR
have also called for the restoration of the constitutionally elected
president. Furthermore, Zelaya has received the support of the Inter
American Human Rights Commission, and been invited to address the UN
General Assembly "as soon as possible" by its President, Miguel D.Escoto.
After this address Zelaya plans to return to Honduras, accompanied by
Jose Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the OAS, and possibly other
regional heads of state, with the aim of being reinstated as President.

                  The story behind the coup

Honduras is a deeply unequal country, with the richest 10% of the
population taking home 43.7% of the National Income. In contrast, the
poorest 30% take just 7.4%, and just under 40% of the population live in
poverty (defined as earning less than double the cost of the basic food
basket). Only 4.7% of Hondurans have access to the internet, which might
go some way to explaining the social background of Honduran coup
cheerleaders on English-language websites such as the BBC's.

Since coming to power in 2006 President Zelaya has gradually moved to the
left, and at the time of the coup was taking steps to address Honduras'
gross levels of inequality. Predictably, these moves earned him the enmity
of much of Congress, whose ties to the country's traditional elites run
deep. Zelaya also angered the these elites by pursuing a leftist foreign
policy, joining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an
alterative regional trade group composed of nine left-leaning Latin
American and Caribbean countries. The arrival of Cuban doctors to provide
healthcare to the poorest sectors of Honduran society, was met with
particular hostility by Zelaya's opponents.

Honduras' leftward turn also undoubtedly caused significant discomfort
among some in Washington, especially at a time when much of Latin America
has seemed to move beyond the reach of US political influence.

The catalyst for the assault on the Presidential home by the Honduran
armed forces, and the subsequent detention and expulsion of the President
from the country was the non-binding consultative poll that was due to
take place on Sunday (June 28th) on whether a referendum ought to be held
on the convocation of a constituent assembly, alongside the Presidential
election ballot in November 2010 (when Zelaya's term ends). In other
words, the coup was sparked by a non-binding vote intended to consult
Hondurans on whether or not they wanted to be asked about a constitutional
reform, and not because Zelaya wished to extend his term indefinitely, as
has been widely reported in the mainstream international media.

This last point is one of several lies and misleading statements issued by
the new dictatorship, which have been amply covered uncritically in the
mainstream media. Another key one is that the coup is in fact a
"constitutional transfer of power".  This requires a bizarre leap in logic
if we consider the facts of Zelaya's overthrow: the President's home was
assaulted by the military; after 15 minutes of combat the President
himself was kidnapped and bundled into a military aircraft in his pyjamas
and flown into exile; his Ministers were detained and beaten, alongside
the ambassadors of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

While Honduras' new and illegally installed "president", Roberto
Micheletti (the former leader of Congress), has declared that "80 or 90
percent of the population support what happened today", this is highly
doubtful given the imposition of a curfew, the ongoing street
demonstrations by Zelaya's supporters, road blockades in the west of the
country, and the general strike called for by social organisations and the
trade union movement. However, as is the norm with coups against
progressive leaders in Latin America, Micheletti has received expressions
of support from the country's business sector.

What remains to be seen is whether the Honduran military will be prepared
to shed the blood of its countrymen to protect an illegal government with
no visible international backing.

And here, as is also the norm with coups against progressive governments
in Latin America, the words and actions of the US government, closely
watched as ever, will be decisive. While the Obama administration has
joined Latin America's governments in condemning the coup the US' precise
role in the days running up to the coup still remain unclear.

While there is little direct evidence of US interference in Honduras'
coup, Eva Golinger has indicated certain similarities between the
US-supported coup that briefly removed Hugo Chavez from power in Venezuela
in 2002, and the current situation in Honduras. Gollinger points out that
a New York Times article states that the US government was working for
"several days" with the Honduran coup planners in order to "prevent" the
coup. Given that Honduras is highly dependent on the US economy and that
the Pentagon maintains a military base in the country, equipped with
approximately 500 troops and numerous air force combat planes and
helicopters, it would seem naive not to believe that if the US government
had expressed their firm opposition to the coup, it would never have
occurred. Furthermore, the US' track record of undermining and supporting
and participating in the overthrow of democratically elected government in
Latin America cannot be overlooked.

Regardless of the extent of US involvement in, or support for the coup,
the US' position in the next couple of days will go a long way to
determining whether its already precarious relationship with much of Latin
America will deteriorate. The US has several options here: it can send a
representative to accompany President Zelaya back to Honduras on Thursday,
and it can threaten military, economic and political sanctions, all of
which would have a strong effect on the usurpers of power in Tegucigalpa.

If Obama's government wants to send a powerful message about the sincerity
behind the US' rhetoric on liberty, democracy, and respect for the rule
of law, it needs to accompany words with actions, and actively support the
reinstatement of Honduras' legitimate president.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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