Progressive Calendar 07.10.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 13:56:16 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   07.10.09

1. Palestine vigil   7.10 4:15pm
2. Party/Rosemary's  7.10 6pm
3. Postville/play    7.10 7:30pm
4. Moyers/Potter     7.10 9pm

5. Peace walk        7.11 9am Cambridge MN
6. TC zinefest       7.11 11am
7. EXCO design class 7.11 11am
8. Health care       7.11 11am
9. Northtown vigil   7.11 2pm
10. Rodriguez rally  7.11 2:30/4pm
11. Nagasaki         7.11 6:30pm

12. Stillwater vigil 7.12 1pm
13. RNC8 defense     7.12 3:30pm

14. Wendell Potter  - Health care industry adopts tobacco lobby's tactics
15. Dennis Rahkonen - Honduran coup: damning indictment of capitalism
16. John Ross       - Latin America asks: are the gorillas back?
17. Ronnie Cummins  - The organic monopoly & the myth of "natural" foods
18. ed              - bumpersticker

--------1 of 18--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Palestine Vigil 7.10 4:15pm

The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the
intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul.  the Friday demo
starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30.  there are usually extra signs

--------2 of 18--------

From: welfarerightsmn [at]
Subject: Party/Rosemary's 7.10 6pm

Party at Rosemary's house this Friday the 10th!  --She is still fighting
the foreclosure. Come join WRC and others for a fundraiser.

People's Party at Rosemary's Home!  Support our friend and neighbor,
Rosemary Williams, as we continue to defend our community.  Host:Rosemary
Williams Friday, July 10, 2009 at 6:00pm - 12:00am
Rosemary's House 3138 Clinton Ave. South, Minneapolis
We're putting the fun in fundraiser!

The cups are being given out in exchange for a suggested donation of $5
(and we'll even accept more). The beer and wine will be flowing freely.
We'll be grilling dollar dogs (both meaty and vegan). Slices of watermelon
are also on the menu. Of course, rockin' tunes will also be heard (dancing
is encouraged).

We won't let the tyrants in their ivory bank towers destroy the spirit of
our community, so come on by and give that spirit some exercise!

Welfare Rights Committee PO Box 7266, Mpls MN 55407 pho: 612-822-8020 main
email: welfarerightsmn [at] alt email: welfarerights [at]

--------3 of 18--------

From: "[ISO-8859-1] Marco Dávila" <maidaca85 [at]>
From: Kathryn Sharpe <kathrynsharpe19 [at]>
Subject: Postville/play 7.10 7:30pm

I would like to invite you to attend this wonderful event coming up on
July 10 - it offers a powerful, intimate perspective on the real effects
of immigration raids on the individuals and communities caught up in them.
We hope to see you there!

La Historia de Nuestras Vidas
July 10th 6pm Dinner 7:30 Performance
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
2730 E 31st St Minneapolis

La Historia de Nuestras Vida is a play written and performed by a group of
men affected by the Postville Raid of last year, La Historia powerfully
explores the difficult conditions that force people to migrate while
providing a tender - sometimes quite funny - perspective on the dreams we
all share as humans.

The play is presented in Spanish. The audience can follow along with the
playbill in English. A Tamale Dinner will be served at 6pm and the
performance will follow at 7:30pm

--Tickets: $20. Proceeds will go to help those affected by the Postville

Buy Your Tickets
*Donations will also be taken at the door. No one will be turned away for
lack of funds. Sponsored by The Interfaith Coalition on Immigration, MIRAc
and the Resource Center

--------4 of 18--------

From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at]>
Subject: Moyers/Potter 7.10 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Profits Before Patients

Bill Moyers Journal: "With almost 20 years inside the health insurance
industry, Wendell Potter saw for-profit insurers hijack our health care
system and put profits before patients. Now, he speaks with Bill Moyers
about how those companies are standing in the way of health care reform.
Potter spoke out against the industry for the first time last month."
   [See article by Potter below: #14]

--------5 of 18--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 7.11 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street

--------6 of 18--------

From: Twin Cities Zinefest <zines [at]>
Subject: TC zinefest 7.11 11am

Sixth annual Twin Cities Zinefest!  July 11 + 12

Zinefest is the Twin Cities' premiere DIY craft, culture and
self-publishing event, and it's happening soon!  The TC Zinefest strives
to connect the Twin Cities community to DIY culture as openly and easily
as possible by making tables affordable to exhibitors, and events and
admission free to attendees.  Come to trade, buy, talk or learn.  Things
are happening all day at Zinefest, and we hope you can come take a look!

Twin Cities Zinefest
July 11-12, 2009
Saturday 11am-5pm, Sunday 11am-4pm
Stevens Square Center for the Arts
1905 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404
admission is free

Saturday, July 11, 11am-5pm
1pm : open mic zine reading (by attendees and exhibitors)
3pm : MPLS Zines (documentary by Monica Anderson)
4pm : Presentation Night (Minneapolis' own living zine performs)

Sunday, July 12, 11am-4pm
12pm : Starting a Distribution Co-op with Likeminded Publications (workshop
with Microcosm's Joe Biel - limit 20 participants)
2pm : If It Ain't Cheap, It Ain't Punk: 15 Years of Plan-it X Records
(documentary by Joe Biel)

Four zine-friendly bands will play at Arise! Bookstore on Saturday night.
Please join us!  This event is open to the public.  Zinesters can bring
books to consign at Arise! and party for a bit with their DIY compatriots.
The after-party starts at 6pm and will feature music from Teenage Moods,
Gerald Prokop, Bla Bla Blacksheep, and Zombie Season.  The event is free.
Arise! Bookstore is located at 2441 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405.

Check out the website:
Check out last year's event featured on Access to Arts:

Sarah Morean : Twin Cities Zinefest Coordinator : zines [at] :

--------7 of 18--------

From: Leslie Reindl <alteravista [at]>
Subject: EXCO design class 7.11 11am

The following is a class being offered through the Experimental College of
the Twin Cities, EXCO-TC.  At EXCO, everyone can teach or take classes and
all classes are free. EXCOtc is a collective of Experimental Colleges in
the Twin Cities that shares visions of a better world, offers free and
open classes and is building a community around education for social

EXCO-TC is made up of four collaborating organizing groups out of:
Macalester, the U of M, MCTC, and the Waite House. The first chapter based
out of Macalester (EXCO-Mac) began in 2006 and a second one based out of
the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (EXCO-UMN) began in 2008. We are
excited to be developing chapters all over the Twin Cities and are open to
both campus and community groups starting chapters.

Visit the website to see other classes being offered this
Designing for a Changing Future: Understanding the Past as a Basis
for Better Designs for the Future

Design is a (human) response to a situation, challenge, or problem
constrained by insight, means, opportunities, and environment. The
response can reach far beyond the designer's intent or conception. Today's
solution-driven designs for society can be dangerous propositions.

This class will examine the listed constraints, taking into account the
humanistic and philosophical concepts that underlie today's society
(understanding where we have come from) and will engage students in
applying a resulting broader vision to specific design problems.

Three 1 1/2-hour sessions, each including class discussion:

Saturday, July 11--Purpose of design, principles, and analysis of
conditions leading to today's design environment, illustrated with slides

Saturday, July 18--Cultural filters to which current designs must conform,
illustrated with slides

Saturday, July 25--Development of new design principles and student
analysis of a design problem Optional 4--Student creation of ongoing
hands-on designing sessions

Time and Place
11 am to 12:30 pm, Room 207 at Macalester College (Student) Campus

Wilhelm Reindl--Mr. Reindl was educated in physics at the University of
Munich.  In his working life in Minnesota he was a researcher at the
University of Minnesota and with the federal Bureau of Mines; a former
energy consultant to government, industry, and community organizations;
and an independent energy entrepreneur and inventor.

--------8 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Health care 7.11 11am

[SEIU is labor gone over to the Dem dark side, selling out single payer
and crippling the "public option" so it fails and brings all public health
into disrepute. If you go at all, defend single payer, and ask then why
they don't, watch them weasel, and call them on it. And if they say
they're "on record" as for single payer, ask them to name one concrete
thing they've done to support it. -ed]

July 11:  Join SEIU Health Care Minnesota to speak out to demand health
care equity for all, stand up for the health of our children and families,
and enjoy food and live cultural entertainment. Enjoy a special
performance by Sarah Jones. Free and open to all. 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM at
Wellstone Community Center, 179 East Robie Street, St. Paul.

--------9 of 18--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 7.11 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------10 of 18--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Rodriguez rally 7.11 2:30/4pm

Saturday, July 11, 2009
4:00 p.m.
Wilson Park, 4th and Eddy, Hastings, MN
Cars will be leaving at 2:30 from Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S,

On July 11, 2008, Brandon Rodriguez was killed by three Hastings police
officers and a Dakota County deputy.  His life was ended within minutes of
the call being dispatched.  Brandon was suicidal that evening and received
four bullets from the officers without them investigating why he was
acting the way he was.  Brandon was only 23 years old.

Rather than addressing the poor handling of the Rodriguez case, the
Hastings police chief awarded the officers Medals of Honor.  There is no
honor in killing a mentally ill young man who posed no immediate danger to
the officers.

On the one year anniversary of Brandon's death, join us for a rally and
march to demand that Chief McMenomy rescind these medals and that Hastings
police receive training in addressing situations involving mentally ill
people so that future tragedies are avoided. Cars will be leaving at 2:30
from Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis.

Be sure to sign the petition at

--------11 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Nagasaki 7.11 6:30pm

July 11: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates 11th Day
Prayer for Peace Praying and Preparation for the Commemoration of the
Anniversary of the Bombing of Nagasaki. Reflection by Jim Scheibel, former
Mayor of St. Paul. 6:30 PM at Presentation of Our Lady Chapel, St. Paul.

--------12 of 18--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 7.12 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

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

--------13 of 18--------

From: info [at]
Subject: RNC8 defense 7.12 3:30pm

July 12 RNC8 Defense Committee Meeting
3:30PM to 5:30PM
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave So, Minneapolis

The one year anniversary of the pre-RNC house raids and the repressive
police actions at the RNC is just weeks away. Trials for the RNC8 are
expected to begin sometime this fall. Lots of important work to do!

The July 12th meeting of the RNC8 Defense Committee is a vital meeting to
attend. Be part of this significant struggle to defend the 8 and our right
to dissent. Put it on your calendar right this minute!

--------14 of 18--------

The Ultimate Irony
Health Care Industry Adopts Tobacco Lobby's Tactics
July 10-12, 2009
[See Potter on Moyers tonight 7.10 9pm]

At first look, one might not think that the health insurance industry has
much in common with the tobacco industry. After all, one sells a product
that kills people and the other sells a product nominally aimed at putting
people back together. But when it comes to deceitful public relations
techniques, the health insurance industry has been learning well from Big
Tobacco, which employed a panoply of shady but highly successful public
relations tactics to fend off changes to its business for generations.

One of the things I said in my testimony before the Senate Commerce
Committee on June 24 is that the health insurance industry engages in
duplicitous public relations campaigns to influence public opinion and the
debate on health care reform. By that I mean there are campaigns they want
you to you know about, and those they don't.

When you hear insurance company executives talk about how much they
support health care reform and can be counted on by the President and
Congress to be there for them, that's the campaign they want you to be
aware of. I call it their PR charm offensive.

When you read or hear someone other than an insurance company executive -
including members of Congress - trash some aspect of reform the industry
doesn't like, such as the creation of a public health insurance option,
there's a better-than-even chance that person is shilling for the
industry. That's the PR campaign the industry doesn't want you to know

The public relations and lobbying firms that work for the industry plan
and carry out those deception-based campaigns, and supply the shills with
talking points. One of many tactics they use is to get people who are
ideologically in sync with the industry's agenda to turn those talking
points into letters to the editor.

An example of a letter that contained many of the industry's messages
appeared in the June 27 edition of the New York Times.

The writer, Pete Petersen, identified as an employee benefits consultant
for small employers, took issue with a June 20 Times editorial, which
noted that, like Medicare, "a public plan (health insurance) plan would
have lower administrative expenses than private plans."

Mr. Petersen claimed that the Medicare program is a poor example of an
efficient government program because it is administered by the private
sector. While it is true that the government contracts with private
companies to handle claims, the reason Medicare has such low
administrative costs is because it does not have the unnecessary overhead
expenses private insurers have, such as costs associated with sales,
marketing and underwriting.

Mr. Peterson also wrote that Medicaid, Champus and state CHIPs "that are
administered by federal, state and municipal authorities" average 26
percent in administrative costs. What he did not mention is that in many
if not most cases, those authorities have turned those programs over to
the insurance industry to run. Private insurers' involvement in those
programs is much greater than in the Medicare program. That helps explain
why they have higher administrative costs.

Mr. Peterson also claimed that, according to a 2006 PricewaterhouseCoopers
study, "86 cents of every premium dollar goes directly toward paying for
medical services". What he does not disclose is that America's Health
Insurance Plans, the insurance industry's biggest trade and lobbying
group, commissioned that study. A 2008 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers
that was not paid for by the insurance industry tells a different and more
revealing story. That study reveals that the percentage of premium dollars
going to pay for medical care has fallen from more than 95 percent to
slightly more than 80 percent since 1993.

Wendell Potter is the Senior Fellow on Health Care for the Center for
Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin.

--------15 of 18--------

Honduran Coup: Damning Indictment of Capitalism
by Dennis Rahkonen
July 10th, 2009
Dissident Voice

Since he's spending his summer vacation at our home, I recently washed my
11-year-old grandson's dirty clothes.

As I later folded them, small tags told me they were manufactured in the
Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Not one item bore a "Made in USA" label, which is very sad, considering
that the unionized needle trades were once a bastion of our country's
labor movement, and that finding attire produced overseas was a rarity
just a few decades ago.

All this relates closely to the despicable coup that deposed Honduras'
democratically elected president, Manuel Zaleya.

Although the coup's initiators say they were motivated by other factors,
what really spurred their reactionary ire was Zaleya promoting better pay
and conditions for Honduran workers in general, but particularly for the
virtual sweatshop slaves whose cruel exploitation by mostly U.S. garment
firms has been an utterly obscene profit generator for shameless owners
residing in luxury in the North.

It would be extremely naive to think those "foreign" companies, along with
others involved in banana and fruit growing, did not facilitate the coup
in more than minor ways. It goes without saying, also, that U.S. political
conservatives, with operative ties to covert Central American intrigues
dating back to the Reagan years, are now malevolently present in

Our nation's anti-democratic, imperialist role in Central America is
nothing new.

Countless religious activists, teachers, clinic workers, union organizers,
and ordinary campesinos were brutalized by sordid contras secretly armed
and trained by the U.S. under illegal Reagan administration aegis during
the '80s.

Much earlier, however, Yankee pillage of Latin America (as well as other
world locales) was already standard operating procedure, as starkly
exposed by former Marine Corps Commandant Smedley Butler:

I spent 33 years (in the Marines) - most of my time being a high-class
muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I
was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown
Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe
for American oil interests in 1914. I brought light to the Dominican
Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and
Cuba a decent place for the National City (Bank) boys to collect revenues
in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for
the benefit of Wall Street.

In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way
unmolested. I had a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals,
promotions. I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do
was operate in three city districts. The Marines operated on three

Progressives familiar with people's history know about the titanic
struggle it took to unionize U.S. labor, lifting largely immigrant masses
out of deep poverty, winning them the pay, benefits, and conditions that
would shape the contours of our storied "good life".

They know, too, that the most militant unions were purged and broken
during the McCarthyite Red Scare, allowing class-collaborationist
tendencies to rise, making the decimation of American labor in the
aftermath of Reagan's firing of the air traffic controllers essentially a
cake walk, much to the profitable delight of corporate parasites.

Now our working class - the backbone of society and the creator of all
productive wealth - is losing its jobs, homes, health care, pensions, and
collective temper on an unprecedented scale.

The savagely exploitative, intensely destructive Walmart labor relations
model dominates U.S. life, and everything we buy is produced abroad in
oppressive settings where women and children toil long hours for mere
pennies. We (and certainly they) are being ground into the dust as a tiny
minority of private "entrepreneurs" live high on the hog, via stolen
wealth that properly should be used to improve everyone's living

But capitalism can't do that.

It's unable to function in anything but an increasingly rapacious way,
shafting majority wage earners ever more painfully, whether through the
acute injustice that leaves evicted families on the street in U.S. cities,
or Hondurans fearfully facing military repression and a drastic
deterioration of their already desperate existence.

As its growing resort to super-exploitation, dictatorial harshness,
violence and war clearly proves, capitalism is the intrinsic enemy - not
the ballyhooed champion - of fair play, democracy, simple decency, and

Humanity will have no future worth aspiring to if it stays tied to
capitalism's irreparable flaws and fiercely down-pulling restraints.

The rest of this pivotal century clearly must be devoted to building truly
democratic, broadly uplifting socialism on a global scale.

It's the great moral imperative of our era.

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive
commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the

--------16 of 18--------

Latin America Asks: Are the Gorillas Back?
After the Honduran Coup
July 10-12, 2009

Mexico City.

The June 28th coup d'etat in Honduras that toppled leftist president Mel
Zelaya sends us back to the bad old days of the "gorillas" - generals and
strongmen who overthrew each other with reckless abandon and the tacit
complicity of Washington.

Perched on a hillside in the Mexican outback, we would tune in to these
"golpes de estado", as they are termed in Latin America, on our Zenith
Transoceanic short wave.  First, a harried announcer would report rumors
of troop movement and the imposition of a "toque de queda" (curfew.)
Hours of dead air (and probably dead announcers) would follow and then the
martial music would strike up, endless tape loops of military marches and
national anthems.  Within a few days, the stations would be back up as if
nothing had happened.  Only the names of the generals who ruled the roost
had changed.

Guatemala was the Central American republic par excelencia for such
"golpes."  Perhaps the most memorable was the overthrow of General Jacobo
Arbenz by Alan Dulles's CIA in 1954 after Arbenz sought to expropriate and
distribute unused United Fruit land.  Like Mel Zelaya, the general was
shaken rudely awake by soldiers and booted out of the country in his

Coups in Guatemala continued unabated throughout the 1970s and '80s.
General Efrain Rios Montt, the first Evangelical dictator in Latin
America, who had come to power in a coup himself, was overthrown in 1983
by the equally bloodthirsty Romeo Lucas, a much-decorated general.  In
1993, the Guatemalan military brought down civilian president Jorge Elias
Serrano, the last gasp of the Gorillas until Zelaya was deposed last week.
It has been 15 years since the generals had risen in arms in Central

Zelaya's overthrow has stimulated generalized revulsion throughout the
world.  The Organization of American States, the General Assembly of the
United Nations, the European Union, virtually every regional organization
in the Western Hemisphere, and the presidents of 33 Latin American
republics have condemned the Honduran Gorillas - yet U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton can't quite get her plumped-up lips around the word
"coup", preferring to describe the low-jinx in Tegucigalpa as an
"interruption of democracy" or some such euphemistic flapdoodle.

One wonders what descriptives Hillary would have deployed if she and Bill
had been aroused from a deep snooze in the White House master bedroom on a
Sunday morning by gun-toting troops and put on the first plane for Ottawa
in their pajamas?

Why is Clinton so reluctant to label the Honduran military coup a coup?
Because such nomenclature automatically triggers a U.S. aid cut-off
through which Washington subsidizes the very same Honduran gorillas who
facilitated Zelaya's overthrow - $66 million of U.S. taxpayers' money is
programmed for 2010 to this end.  Unlike Washington, both the World Bank
and the InterAmerican Development Bank have suspended payouts to the coup

The U.S. works in cozy cahoots with the Honduran military.  Honduras sent
a contingent to Iraq as part of George Bush's Coalition of the Willing.
Coup leader Romeo Orlando Vazquez and at least two other officers who
participated in Zelaya's overthrow are School of Americas' graduates -
according to School of Americas' Watch, the "coup school", as it is called
by opponents, once produced two generals who returned to Honduras and
overthrew each other. Nearly a thousand Honduran officers were trained in
the U.S. under the IMET program in 2005-06, the last year for which
numbers are available. The Pentagon calculates that the camaraderie
between U.S. and Honduran military officers developed during such training
enlists valuable collaborators for a generation.  In fact, these
U.S.-trained assets threatened to scramble U.S. super light F5 fighter
jets to prevent Zelaya from landing in Tegucigalpa a week after the coup.

In collaboration with the gorillas, Washington maintains an advance
airbase in the country at Soto Cano (formerly Palmarola) with 500 troops
under the direction of the U.S. South Command on the ground at all times
on the pretext of fighting the War on Drugs and Terrorism.

Gregorio Seltzer, the late great historian of U.S. imperialism in Latin
America, described Honduras as "a county for rent" and from the 1920s on,
United Fruit rented this impoverished nation of 7.2 million, transforming
Honduras into the quintessential Banana Republic.  During the 1980s with
revolutions raging in neighboring El Salvador and Nicaragua, the CIA
rented Honduras as a platform for counter-insurgency.  The Nicaraguan
Contras' supply lines began at Palmarola.  More discreet intelligence
operations were housed at Puerto Castilla where suspected insurgents were
reportedly tortured, dismembered, and fed to the crocodiles.

The nerve center for U.S. counter-insurgency in Honduras was Washington's
embassy in Tegucigalpa, then under the thumb of the notorious John
Negroponte, known throughout the Americas as the gringos' "pro-consul".
Negroponte, of course, went on to become George Bush's Intelligence capo
de tutti capos.  Events in Honduras suggest that he is still pushing

Latin American leftists often refer to the Central American country as
"The U.S.S. Honduras."  Perpetual susceptibility to manipulation by
Washington was perhaps best encapsulated by former president Jose Azcona
(1986-90): "we are too small and too poor to afford the luxury of

Honduras is in fact the second poorest country in Latin America, a few
degrees behind Haiti where the poor eat mud cakes for lunch.  Things went
from "Guatemala to Guatapejor" as they say in Central America ("from bad
to worse") in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, which leveled the region in
October 1998. Hundreds of thousands of jobless refugees took to the roads
headed for El Norte to escape the devastation of their homelands.  Nearly
a million Hondurans are thought to have made it to the U.S., a seventh of
the nation's population.  Many poured into New Orleans, a traditional
landing spot for Hondurans, where they found slave labor employment in the
Katrina clean up.  Remittances from relatives working in the U.S. are
Hondurans' chief source of revenues.

Meanwhile back on the homefront, violence driven by unemployed youth holds
the country in thrall. Over 30,000 Mara Salvatrucha gang members have
turned the streets of Tegoosh and San Pedro Sula into an inferno.  86
perished in a Mara-induced prison riot in 2003 under Zelaya's predecessor
Ricardo Maduro, one of the most deadly prison uprisings in Latin America
annals, and 28 women and children were mowed down in a hail of gunfire
when the Maras attacked a San Pedro Sula city bus in 2004.

The scion of a prosperous cattle ranching family from the north of the
country with ties to the gorilla class, Mel Zelaya is an unlikely champion
of the poor - during the anti-guerrilla campaigns of the 1980s, human
rights workers claim that suspects were burnt alive in bread ovens on one
of the family's haciendas.  Backed by the Catholic Church and the
oligarchy, Zelaya won high office in 2006 as the candidate of the
right-wing Liberal Party - Honduras has two hegemonic parties, the
Liberals and the Nationals, which take turns repressing the populace.

An early advocate of CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement that
annexes the economies of the region to Washington, Zelaya beat back
protests by labor unions, farmers' organizations such as Via Campesina,
and the left Bloque Popular.  During 36 months in office, Mel Zelaya
navigated through two general strikes and 771 social conflicts, according
to data assembled by Mexican columnist (La Jornada) Luis Hernandez Navarro
who contends that the president's flipflops did not inspire much
enthusiasm for him on the Honduran left, despite his increasingly radical
pronouncements, a flaw that proved fatal.  With congress and the military
bitterly opposed to Zelaya's leftwards tack, the Honduran president's room
for maneuvering was undercut by mistrust from down below.

Cheap oil was apparently what first attracted Zelaya to Hugo Chavez and
the new Latin Left.  Under the San Jose Pact, Venezuela distributes
low-priced petroleum to Central American and Caribbean governments
(including Cuba) and Honduras was an eager beneficiary.

In recent years, Mel Zelaya has been a frequent guest of Comandante
Chavez, appearing side by side up on the podiums with Big Hugo, Ecuador's
Rafael Correa, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega and Raul Castro, and
his government has joined the ALBA, Chavez's Bolivarian alternative to

Mel Zelaya's swing to the left did not much please the highly venal
oligarchy that controls the Honduran Congress. Obligated to Washington via
commercial and military pacts, the impresarios and gorillas who comprise
that less-than-august body did their duty and tossed out their
Chavez-loving president.  In the words of Samuel Zemurray, owner of the
United Fruit predecessor in another century: "I can buy the Honduran
legislature for less than I can buy a mule."

Mel Zelaya's forcible removal from power was set in motion by a proposed
popular consultation asking voters whether or not they favored rewriting
the Honduran constitution, a document that heavily serves the interests of
the oligarchy.  If the yes vote carried, the measure would have been
placed on the upcoming November 29h ballot.

At this writing, a week into the coup, it appears that those elections are
on hold.  All civil liberties have been suspended by the gorilla
government of Roberto Micheletti and a witch-hunt of "communists" and
foreigners instigated - the military urges citizens to report suspicious
types speaking in "foreign accents" and dozens of purported Nicaraguans
and Venezuelans have been arrested.  Micheletti and his goons have sworn
out an Interpol arrest warrant for Zelaya alleging drug dealing among
other criminal acts.

Although Zelaya's proposed constitutional reform was multi-faceted and
included such items as agrarian reform (anathema to the oligarchy), CNN
and the New York Times et al fixated on the Honduran president's
intentions to write "re-election" into the nation's Magna Carta.
Similarly, presidential re-election has been incorporated in
constitutional reforms recently passed in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

But reforming constitutions to allow for re-election is not just the
property of the left. Having rewritten Colombia's constitution twice,
right-wing president Alvaro Uribe is now looking at a third term in
office.  Indeed, the U.S. electoral process is motored by the possibility
of presidential re-election.

U.S. involvement in the Honduran coup remains veiled but clearly
Washington had prior knowledge that Mel Zelaya's overthrow was in the
wings. For Barack Obama who, like Zelaya, aspires to re-election, the
Honduras uproar represents his baptism in Latin American upheaval.
Informed of Zelaya's ousting while hosting Colombia's Uribe at the White
House, El Baracko stumbled through a sparsely worded condemnation. In
response, the gorillas' new foreign minister Enrique Ortez called Obama "a
negrito (black boy) who knows nothing."

Perhaps the U.S. president would not have been so constrained in his
comments had he perused the volume gifted him by Hugo Chavez during a
recent Latin American summit.  Eduardo Galeano's "The Open Veins of Latin
America" chronicles centuries of U.S. intervention in the Americas in
precise detail.  Nonetheless, Obama's chief spokesperson Robert Gibbs
characterized the book as "a work of fiction."

The key question for Latin America is whether Honduras is a nostalgic
aberration or a whiff of what's in the wind for newly left regimes
throughout the hemisphere?  Certainly, the Honduran scenario must excite
the current generation of the gorilla class.  But making a coup is mostly
a function of the strength of alliances between the military and the
oligarchy and how closely their interests coincide.  Coup-making in Latin
America in 2009 is also very site-specific.

In Bolivia, for example, a nation that suffered 193 violent changes of
government between liberation from Spain in 1835 and 1981 when civil rule
was restored (the two presidents prior to Evo Morales were overthrown by
popular rebellion), threats by right-wing, white landowners in the lowland
"media luna" provinces to secede from this dirt-poor Andean nation have
had faint scratch with the military, largely a highland Indian army.

Similarly, although Venezuela has an active right-wing oligarchy that
appears to be active in the Honduras "golpe", the military was neutralized
by the short-lived 2002 coup to unseat Hugo Chavez engineered out of the
U.S. Caracas embassy by Bush henchman Otto Reich, that was foiled when a
million citizens descended on the presidential palace to demand the return
of the kidnapped Chavez, himself a failed coup plotter.

In the southern cone, Argentina has a resurgent right-wing but the
military remains so discredited by the memory of the 1976-79 "dirty war"
in which 30,000 leftists were thrown to their death from airplanes into
the Atlantic Ocean that a coup remains out of sync with reality.  Ditto in
Chile where a new Pinochet will not emerge any time soon.

In other newly left countries like Ecuador (where the army has sometimes
sided with the left) and Paraguay, now governed by the former liberation
bishop Fernando Lugo, father of at least two, the military is
unpredictable and the emergence of civil society serves to counterbalance
residual right-wing sympathies.

Perhaps the most likely proscenium for a Honduras-like "golpe" remains
coup-prone Guatemala where military gorillas thrive, right-wing death
squads enjoy unbridled impunity, and the civil society is weak.  History,
in fact, points in this direction - Alvaro Colum is the first president to
be elected from a left-wing party since Jacobo Arbenz who, 55 years ago,
was forced to flee Guatemala in his underwear.

John Ross will present "Iraqigirl" (Haymarket Books) at Modern Times in
San Francisco July 30th.  Ross developed and edited the new volume, a
coming-of-age diary of an Iraqi teenager growing up under U.S. occupation
that has been called "An Anne Frank for our times." He can be reached at:
johnross [at]

--------17 of 18--------

How Industry Giants are Undermining the Organic Movement
The Organic Monopoly and the Myth of "Natural" Foods

After four decades of hard work, the organic community has built up a $25
billion "certified organic" food, farming, and green products sector. This
consumer-driven movement, under steady attack by the biotech and Big Food
lobby, with little or no help from government, has managed to create a
healthy and sustainable alternative to America's disastrous, chemical and
energy-intensive system of industrial agriculture. Conscious of the health
hazards of Big Food Inc., and the mortal threat of climate change and Peak
Oil, a critical mass of organic consumers are now demanding food and other
products that are certified organic, as well as locally or regionally
produced, minimally processed, and packaged.

The Organic Alternative, in turn, is bolstered by an additional $50
billion in annual spending by consumers on products marketed as "natural,"
or "sustainable".  This rapidly expanding organic/green products
sector - organic (4% of total retail sales) and natural (8%) - now
constitutes more than 12% of total retail grocery sales, with an annual
growth rate of 10-15%.  Even taking into account what appears to be a
permanent economic recession and a lower rate of growth than that seen
over the past 20 years, the organic and natural market will likely
constitute 31-56% of grocery sales in 2020.  If the Organic Alternative
continues to grow, and if consumers demand that all so-called "natural"
products move in a genuine, third party-certified "transition to organic"
direction, the U.S. will be well on its way to solving three of the
nation's most pressing problems: climate change, deteriorating public
health, and Peak Oil.

Sales statistics and polls underline the positive fact that a vast army of
organic consumers, more than 75 million Americans, despite an economic
recession, are willing to pay a premium price for organic and green
products. These consumers are willing to pay a premium because they firmly
believe that organic and natural products are healthier, climate
stabilizing, environmentally sustainable, humane for animals, and well as
more equitable for family farmers, farmworkers, and workers throughout the
supply chain.

Many of the most committed organic consumers are conscious of the fact
that organic food and other products are actually "cheaper" in real terms
than conventional food and other items - since industrial agriculture's
so-called "cheap" products carry hidden costs, including billions of
dollars in annual tax subsidies, and hundreds of billions of dollars in
damage to our health, the environment, and climate. Strengthening the
argument for organic food and farming, scientists now tell us that it will
take a massive conversion to organic agriculture (as well as renewable
energy, sustainable housing and transportation) to drastically reduce
climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 350 parts per
million and to cope with the advent of "Peak Oil," the impending decline
in petroleum and natural gas supplies.

Organic food and a healthy diet and lifestyle are obviously key factors in
preventing chronic disease, restoring public health, and reducing
out-of-control health care costs. While in 1970, U.S. health care spending
appeared somewhat sustainable, totaling $75 billion, the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services project that by 2016, health care spending
will soar to over $4.1 trillion, or $12,782 per resident.

Millions of health-minded Americans, especially parents of young children,
now understand that cheap, non-organic, industrial food is hazardous. Not
only does chemical and energy-intensive factory farming destroy the
environment, impoverish rural communities, exploit farm workers, inflict
unnecessary cruelty on farm animals, and contaminate the water supply; but
the end product itself is inevitably contaminated. Routinely contained in
nearly every bite or swallow of non-organic industrial food are
pesticides, antibiotics and other animal drug residues, pathogens, feces,
hormone disrupting chemicals, toxic sludge, slaughterhouse waste,
genetically modified organisms, chemical additives and preservatives,
irradiation-derived radiolytic chemical by-products, and a host of other
hazardous allergens and toxins. Eighty million cases of food poisoning
every year in the US, an impending swine/bird flu pandemic (directly
attributable to factory farms), and an epidemic of food-related cancers,
heart attacks, and obesity make for a compelling case for the Organic

Likewise millions of green-minded consumers understand that industrial
agriculture poses a terminal threat to the environment and climate
stability. A highly conscious and passionate segment of the population are
beginning to understand that converting to non-chemical, energy-efficient,
carbon-sequestering organic farming practices, and drastically reducing
food miles by relocalizing the food chain, are essential preconditions for
stabilizing our out-of-control climate and preparing our families and
communities for Peak Oil and future energy shortages.

Decades of research confirm that organic agriculture produces crop yields
that are comparable (under normal weather conditions) or even 50-70%
superior (during droughts or excessive rain) to chemical farming.
Nutritional studies show that organic crops are qualitatively higher in
vitamin content and trace minerals, and that fresh unprocessed organic
foods boost the immune system and reduce cancer risks. And, of course
climate scientists emphasize that organic agriculture substantially
reduces greenhouse pollution. Organic farms use, on the average, 50% or
less petroleum inputs than chemical farms, while generating drastically
less greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Moreover diverse,
multi-crop organic farms sequester enormous amounts of CO2 in the soil.
Agronomists point out that a return to traditional organic farming
practices across the globe could reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 40%.
In other words, America and the world desperately need an Organic
Revolution in food and farming, not only to salvage public health and
improve nutrition, but also in order to literally survive in the onrushing
era of Peak Oil and climate change.

Scientists, as well as common sense, warn us that a public health Doomsday
Clock is ticking. Within a decade, diet and environment-related diseases,
including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer - heavily
subsidized under our Big Pharma/chemical/genetically engineered/factory
farm system - will likely bankrupt Medicare and the entire U.S. health
care system.

Likewise, climate chaos and oil shortages, unless we act quickly, will
soon severely disrupt industrial agriculture and long-distance food
transportation, leading to massive crop failures, food shortages, famine,
war, and pestilence. Even more alarming, accelerating levels of greenhouse
gases (especially from cars, coal, cattle, and related rainforest and
wetlands destruction) will soon push global warming to a tipping point
that will melt the polar icecaps and unleash a cataclysmic discharge of
climate-destabilizing methane, fragilely sequestered in the frozen arctic

If we care about our children and the future generations, we obviously
must reverse global warming, stabilize the climate, and prepare for
petroleum shortages and vastly higher oil prices. The only way to do this
is to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 90% by 2050, by shifting away
from petroleum and coal-based energy to radical energy conservation and
making a transition to renewable solar and wind power - not only in
transportation, housing, and industry, but in farming, food processing,
and food distribution as well.

In the food sector, we cannot continue to hand over 88% of our consumer
dollars to out-of-control, chemical-intensive, energy-intensive,
greenhouse gas polluting corporations and "profit at any cost" retail
chains such as Wal-Mart. The growth of the Organic Alternative is
literally a matter of survival. The question then becomes how (and how
quickly) can we move healthy, organic, and "natural" products from a 12%
market share, to becoming the dominant force in American food and farming.
This is a major undertaking, one that will require a major transformation
in public consciousness and policy, but it is doable, and absolutely

But before we overthrow Monsanto, Wal-Mart, and Food Inc., we need to put
our own house in order. Before we set our sights on making organic and
"transition to organic" the norm, rather than the alternative, we need to
take a closer, more critical look at the $50 billion annual natural food
and products industry. How natural is the so-called natural food in our
local Whole Foods Market, coop, or grocery store? Is the "natural" sector
moving our nation toward an organic future, or has it degenerated into a
"green washed" marketing tool, disguising unhealthy and unsustainable food
and farming practices as alternatives. Is "natural" just a marketing ploy
to sell conventional unhealthy, energy-intensive, and non-sustainable food
and products at a premium price?

            The Myth of Natural Food, Farming, and Products

Walk down the aisles of any Whole Foods Market (WFM) or browse the
wholesale catalogue of industry giant United Natural Foods (UNFI) and look
closely. What do you see? Row after row of attractively displayed, but
mostly non-organic "natural" (i.e. conventional) foods and products. By
marketing sleight of hand, these conventional foods, vitamins, private
label "365" items, and personal care products become "natural" or "almost
organic" (and overpriced) in the Whole Foods setting. The overwhelming
majority of WFM products, even their best-selling private label, "365"
house brand, are not organic, but rather the products of
chemical-intensive and energy-intensive farm and food production
factories. Test these so-called natural products in a lab and what will
you find: pesticide residues, Genetically Modified Organisms, and a long
list of problematic and/or carcinogenic synthetic chemicals and additives.
Trace these products back to the farm or factory and what will you find:
climate destabilizing chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides,
herbicides, and sewage sludge - not to mention exploited farm workers and
workers in the food processing industry. Of course there are many products
in WFM (and in UNFI's catalogue} that bear the label "USDA Organic". But
the overwhelming majority of their products, even their best selling
private label, "365," are not.

What does certified organic or "USDA Organic" mean? This means these
products are certified 95-100% organic. Certified organic means the farmer
or producer has undergone a regular inspection of its farm, facilities,
ingredients, and practices by an independent Third Party certifier,
accredited by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The producer has
followed strict NOP regulations and maintained detailed records. Synthetic
pesticides, animal drugs, sewage sludge, GMOs, irradiation, and chemical
fertilizers are prohibited. Farm animals, soil, and crops have been
managed organically; food can only be processed with certain methods; only
allowed ingredients can be used.

On the other hand, what does "natural" really mean, in terms of farming
practices, ingredients, and its impact on the environment and climate?

To put it bluntly, "natural," in the overwhelming majority of cases is
meaningless, even though most consumers do not fully understand this.
Natural, in other words, means conventional, with a green veneer. Natural
products are routinely produced using pesticides, chemical fertilizer,
hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge. Natural or conventional
products - whether produce, dairy, or canned or frozen goods - are
produced on large industrial farms or in processing plants that are highly
polluting, chemical-intensive and energy-intensive. "Natural,"
"all-natural," and "sustainable," products in most cases are neither
backed up by rules and regulations, nor a Third Party certifier. Natural
and sustainable are typically label claims that are neither policed nor
monitored. (For an evaluation of eco-labels see the Consumers Union
website The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection
Service provides loose, non-enforced guidelines for the use of the term
"natural" on meat - basically the products cannot contain artificial
flavors, coloring, or preservatives and cannot be more than minimally

On non-meat products, the term natural is typically pure propaganda.
Companies (like Whole Foods Market or UNFI) are simply telling us what we
want to hear, so that we pay an organic or premium price for a
conventional product. Perhaps this wouldn't matter that much if we were
living in normal times, with a relatively healthy population, environment,
and climate. Conventional products sold as natural or "nearly organic"
would be a simple matter of chicanery or consumer fraud. But we are not
living in normal times. Pressuring natural and conventional products and
producers to make the transition to organic is a matter of life or death.
And standing in the way of making this great transition are not only
Fortune 500 food and beverage corporations, Monsanto, and corporate
agribusiness, as we would expect, but the wholesale and retail giants in
the organic and natural products sector, UNFI (United Natural Foods) and
Whole Foods Market (WFM).

           UNFI & Whole Foods: Profits at Any Cost

UNFI and Whole Foods Market are the acknowledged market and wholesale
distribution leaders in the $70 billion organic and natural foods and
products sector. Companies or brands that want to distribute their
products on more than just a local or regional basis must deal with the
near-monopoly wholesaler, UNFI, and giant retailer WFM. Meanwhile
retailers in markets dominated by Whole Foods have little choice but to
emulate the business practices of WFM.i.e. sell as many conventional
foods, green washed as "natural," as possible. Unfortunately neither UNFI
and Whole Foods are putting out the essential message to their millions of
customers that expanding organics is literally a matter of life or death
for public health, climate, and the environment. Neither are leading the
charge to double or triple organic food and farming sales by exposing the
myth of natural foods, giving preference to organic producers and
products, and pressuring natural brands and companies to make the
transition to organic. Neither are the industry giants lobbying the
government to stop nickel and dime-ing organics and get serious about
making a societal transition to organic food and farming. The reason for
this is simple: it is far easier and profitable for UNFI and WFM to sell
conventional or so-called natural foods at a premium price, than it is to
pay a premium price for organics and educate consumers as to why "cheap"
conventional/natural food is really more expensive than organic, given the
astronomical hidden costs (health, pollution, climate destabilization) of
conventional agriculture and food processing.

UNFI has cemented this "WFM/Conventional as Natural" paradigm by emulating
conventional grocery store practices: giving WFM preferential prices over
smaller stores and coops - many of whom are trying their best to sell as
many certified organic and local organic products as possible. Compounding
this undermining of organics is the increasing practice among large
organic companies of dropping organic ingredients in favor of conventional
ingredients, while maintaining their preferential shelf space in WFM or
UNFI-supplied stores. In other words the most ethical and organic (often
smaller) grocers and producers are being discriminated against. WFM also
demands, and in most cases receives, a large quantity of free products
from producers in exchange for being distributed in WFM markets.

The unfortunate consequence of all this is that it's very difficult for an
independently-owned grocer or a coop trying to sell mostly organic
products to compete with, or even survive in the same market as WFM, given
the natural products "Sweetheart Deal" between UNFI and WFM. As a
consequence more and more independently owned "natural" grocery stores and
coops are emulating the WFM model, while a number of brand name, formerly
organic, companies are moving away from organic ingredients (Silk soy
milk, Horizon, Hain, and Peace Cereal for example) or organic practices
(the infamous intensive confinement dairy feedlots of Horizon and Aurora)
altogether, while maintaining a misleading green profile in the UNFI/WFM
marketplace. Other companies, in the multi-billion dollar body care sector
for example, are simply labeling their conventional/natural products as
"organic" or trade-marking the word "organic" or "organics" as part of
their brand name.

The bottom line is that we must put our money and our principles where our
values lie. Buy Certified Organic, not so-called natural products, today
and everyday. And tell your retail grocer or coop how you feel. Please
join thousands of other Organic Consumers and send a message to Whole
Foods and UNFI today.

Ronnie Cummins is director of the Organic Consumers Alliance. He can be
reached at: ronnie [at]

--------18 of 18--------

                          We kill capitalism
                          capitalism kills us


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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