|Progressive Calendar 10.17.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 17 Oct 2009 05:23:48 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 10.17.09 1. Peace walk 10.17 9am Cambridge MN 2. Anti-war protest 10.17 1pm 3. Northtown vigil 10.17 2pm 4. Sami/Iraq today 10.18 9/11am 5. Peace/justice 10.18 12:30pm 6. Stillwater vigil 10.18 1pm 7. Amnesty Intl 10.18 3pm 8. Edgertonite 10.18 6pm 9. PC Roberts - The rich have stolen the economy 10. Andrew Cockburn - How the bankers bought Washington - cheap! 11. Donna Smith - Baucus-Braly-BlueCross bailout toilets to final flush 12. Gilad Atzmon - Israeli deception, spin, and lies 13. James Petras - Understanding the world economy 14. ed - Tiny Tim receives Nobel peace prize --------1 of 14-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 10.17 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------2 of 14-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Anti-war protest 10.17 1pm Saturday, October 17, 2009 Minneapolis anti-war protest 1:00 pm Gather at Hennepin & Lagoon Ave. in Minneapolis 1:30 pm March to closing rally at Loring Park As U.S. Administration discusses Afghanistan escalation: Saturday Minneapolis anti-war protest to be part of national day of peace actions Minnesotans will join together this Saturday to voice their opposition to the continued U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. The demonstration starts at 1:00 pm at Hennepin & Lagoon Avenues in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. A march begins at 1:30 pm, ending in a rally at Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis. In addition, anti-war protests will be held in more than 40 communities across the U.S. on Saturday, October 17, 2009. The protests call for an end to the war in Afghanistan and an end to the occupation of Iraq at a time when the Obama Administration is considering a plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan by sending up to 40,000 additional U.S. troops. "The U.S. anti-war movement will be back in the streets this October to make a clear statement against any escalation of the war in Afghanistan, to demand an end to that war, and an end to the occupation of Iraq," said Meredith Aby, a member of the coalition that is planning the Saturday protest. A statement issued by organizers says in part, "President Obama is reported to be listening to the generals about the next steps in Afghanistan, he should be listening to the people, who want an end to the war." The statement goes on to say, "There is growing sentiment among people in the U.S. against the war in Afghanistan. They want an end to the eight-year long war, not an escalation. "During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. government is spending billions for wars and occupations, while millions lose their jobs and housing and go without health insurance." Cities with plans for anti-war events on October 17 include Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Albany, New York, Austin, Texas and Orlando, Florida. For information on other cities holding October 17 events see www.october17.org Twin Cities-area organizations that are participating in the local Saturday protest include Anti-War Committee; Iraq Veterans Against the War; Military Families Speak Out; Women Against Military madness; Twin Cities Peace Campaign; St. Paul Regional Labor Federation and many others. For more information, call 612 827-5364 or 612 522-1861. --------3 of 14-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 10.17 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------4 of 14------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Sami/Iraq today 10.18 9/11am A Talk by Sami Rasouli: "Iraq Today" Sunday, October 18, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi-American with dual citizenship, who left Iraq in the late 1970s, lived in the Twin Cities area for more than 17 years. In November 2004, nearly 30 years after leaving Iraq and following the 2003 invasion and occupation of his country of origin, Sami returned to Iraq to help rebuild his country. During this time, he founded and supported the development of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams, groups dedicated to the principles of nonviolence. He recently brought a delegation of thirteen Iraqis from the city of Najaf to the city of Minneapolis as a part of the Sister City Project. Sami will speak about the situation on the ground in Iraq today; the U.S. pull-out from the cities; the return of the giant oil companies; political divisions; the upcoming elections in January, 2010; and the prospects for U.S. withdrawal and a substantive change in U.S policy toward Iraq. He will also speak about the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq and the building of peaceful relationships between the people of Iraq and the people of the United States through the Iraqi Art Project, the Sister City Project, Water for Peace, and Letters for Peace (www.mpt-irq.org/). Endorsed by: WAMM. --------5 of 14-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Peace/justice 10.18 12:30pm Peace with Justice Forum: a Talk by Wes Davies of IVAW Sunday, October 18, 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Central Lutheran Church, 333 South 12th Street, Minneapolis. Wes Davey, co-founder of the Minnesota chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), will be the featured speaker at a peace with justice forum. Followed by discussion. Lunch available at 12:30 p.m. for $7.00. Sponsored by: the Joint Peace with Justice Committee of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Areas Synods. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Contact Mary Amdahl, 651-698-6441 or mamdahl6441 [at] msn.com . --------6 of 14-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 10.18 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------7 of 14-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 10.18 3pm Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, October 18th, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. We will share other actions on human rights cases around the world and get updates on the work of our sub-groups. All are welcome, and refreshments will be provided. Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis (corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot behind the Center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn). A map and directions are available on-line: http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html --------8 of 14-------- From: jwilson [at] enp-news.org Subject: Edgertonite 10.18 6pm The next Edgertonite National Party meeting is at Bryant/Lake Dunn Bros. at 6:00 PM Sunday, 18 Oct. 2009. NO RSVP is required. Just show up! The RSVP requirement has been abolished. This is the last meeting before Election Day! [Endorsed by J Edgertonite Hoover] John Charles Wilson National Chairman, ENP --------9 of 14-------- >From Offshoring Jobs to Bailing Out Bankers The Rich Have Stolen the Economy By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS CounterPunch October 16-19, 2009 Bloomberg reports that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's closest aides earned millions of dollars a year working for Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and other Wall Street firms. Bloomberg adds that none of these aides faced Senate confirmation. Yet, they are overseeing the handout of hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds to their former employers. The gifts of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money provided the banks with an abundance of low cost capital that has boosted the banks' profits, while the taxpayers who provided the capital are increasingly unemployed and homeless. JPMorgan Chase announced that it has earned $3.6 billion in the third quarter of this year. Goldman Sachs has made so much money during this year of economic crisis that enormous bonuses are in the works. The London Evening Standard reports that Goldman Sachs' "5,500 London staff can look forward to record average payouts of around 500,000 pounds ($800,000) each. Senior executives will get bonuses of several million pounds each with the highest paid as much as 10 million pounds ($16 million)". In the event the banksters can't figure out how to enjoy the riches, the Financial Times is offering a new magazine - "How To Spend It". New York City's retailers are praying for some of it, suffering a 15.3 per cent vacancy rate on Fifth Avenue. Statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) reports that retail sales adjusted for inflation have declined to the level of 10 years ago: "Virtually 10 years worth of real retail sales growth has been destroyed in the still unfolding depression". Meanwhile, occupants of New York City's homeless shelters have reached the all time high of 39,000, 16,000 of whom are children. New York City government is so overwhelmed that it is paying $90 per night per apartment to rent unsold new apartments for the homeless. Desperate, the city government is offering one-way free airline tickets to the homeless if they will leave the city. It is charging rent to shelter residents who have jobs. A single mother earning $800 per month is paying $336 in shelter rent. Long-term unemployment has become a serious problem across the country, doubling the unemployment rate from the reported 10 per cent to 20 per cent. Now hundreds of thousands more Americans are beginning to run out of extended unemployment benefits. High unemployment has made 2009 a banner year for military recruitment. A record number of Americans, more than one in nine, are on food stamps. Mortgage delinquencies are rising as home prices fall. According to Jay Brinkmann of the Mortgage Bankers Association, job losses have spread the problem from subprime loans to prime fixed-rate loans. At the Wise, Virginia, fairgrounds, 2,000 people waited in lines for free dental and health care. While the US speeds plans for the ultimate bunker buster bomb and President Obama prepares to send another 45,000 troops into Afghanistan, 44,789 Americans die every year from lack of medical treatment. National Guardsmen say they would rather face the Taliban than the US economy. Little wonder. In the midst of the worst unemployment since the Great Depression, US corporations continue to offshore jobs and to replace their remaining US employees with lower paid foreigners on work visas. The offshoring of jobs, the bailout of rich banksters, and war deficits are destroying the value of the US dollar. Since last spring the US dollar has been rapidly losing value. The currency of the hegemonic superpower has declined 14 per cent against the Botswana pula, 22 per cent against Brazil's real, and 11 per cent against the Russian ruble. Once the dollar loses its reserve currency status, the US will be unable to pay for its imports or to finance its government budget deficits. Offshoring has made Americans heavily dependent on imports, and the dollar's loss of purchasing power will further erode American incomes. As the Federal Reserve is forced to monetize Treasury debt issues, domestic inflation will break out. Except for the banksters and the offshoring CEOs, there is no source of consumer demand to drive the US economy. The political system is unresponsive to the American people. It is monopolized by a few powerful interest groups that control campaign contributions. Interest groups have exercised their power to monopolize the economy for the benefit of themselves, the American people be damned. 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 --------10 of 14-------- How the Bankers Bought Washington Our Cheap Politicians By ANDREW COCKBURN October 15, 2009 CounterPunch Smart investors have certainly had plenty of opportunity to make money lately. Gold is up twenty percent. Oil has doubled. The Dow roars through 10,000. But one investment has far, far, outperformed all others in epic returns: politics. Wall Street balance sheets make this very clear. Last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, major banks and other financial institutions in receipt of $295 billion in TARP money pumped $114 million into Washington in lobbying and campaign contributions. As a stand-alone figure, $114 million sounds like a lot. Set against the torrent of cash flowing in the opposite direction, it is minimal. At 258,449 percent it has been called "the single best investment in history". Our elected representatives are giving it away. No one should be surprised at the bankers' dominance of Washington. They even boast about it. Hailing a further emasculation of the powers of the proposed Consumer Finance Protection Agency, the American Bankers' Association recently issued a press release commending lawmakers for removing "the unworkable requirement that communications with consumers be 'reasonable'". Keeping banker-consumer communications unreasonable has been only part of the labors of the House Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Barney Frank. Yet the sums ladled into members' campaign coffers are by no means proportionate to their actions. Pushing for a change in the so called "mark to market" accounting rule earlier this year, a coalition of financial industry PACS, according to the Wall Street Journal, contributed a total of $286,000 to committee members. Various members then communicated their mounting dissatisfaction with the rule to the accounting standards board which, coincidentally or not, decreed the rule be changed. The decision did wonders for Wall Street balance sheets. Wells Fargo's capital officially soared by $4.4 billion, while Citigroup boosted its reported earnings by $413 million in the first quarter of '09. Yet Melissa Bean, D-Ill, who got the most money from the coalition of any committee member, garnered a mere $20,000 toward her next campaign. Chairman Frank was apparently satisfied with $8,500. To be sure, it's not just the financial industry that knows how to get the most out of a dollar on Capitol Hill. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, corporations angling for earmarks in this years Pentagon budget spread $1.25 million among the 18 members of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. That's only $69,000 per member - and these are Senators! - who nonetheless approved $762.3 million worth of earmarks sought by these same corporations. Officials in other countries have a greater sense of self worth, as U.S. corporations doing business internationally surely know. Just this year, the Haliburton Corporation admitted to paying $180 million to Nigerian officials in connection with the Bonny River liquefied natural gas terminal project. Greece has been recently convulsed by revelations of the hundred million euros in bribes allegedly lavished on their elected politicians by the German Siemens corporation. Just a generation ago, our own legislators displayed a more robust attitude to those seeking favor. In his instructive memoir "Wheeling and Dealing - Confessions of a Capitol Hill Operator," former Senate aide Bobby Baker recounts his efforts in collecting the half million dollars in cash demanded by Senator Robert Kerr of Oklahoma from the Savings and Loan industry in return for a favorable legislative adjustment. And that was in the 1950s, when a dollar was still worth something. The S&L representatives, records Baker, complained bitterly, paid most of the sum demanded, and duly got their reward. Pending concrete revelations about contemporary Kerrs in House or Senate, we have to assume that nowadays campaign contributions are as reported and cited here. Therefore, given the evident selflessness or timidity of today's lawmakers, we might venture a modest proposal: political contributions should be taxed - at source. Given the current state of the exchequer, a rate of one thousand percent would not be out of order. Thus the $1000 contributed by the Mortgage Bankers Association to Congresswoman Bean in pursuit of that bountiful accounting rule change could yield a cool million for the taxpayer. Though leaving several trillion to go, it would be a start. If possible, this tariff should be retroactive, so we could collect on the donations inevitably flowing to the lawmakers charged with deliberating this necessary measure. It's time the rest of us got in on the act. Andrew Cockburn is the co-producer of the 2009 documentary American Casino. He can be reached at: amcockburn [at] gmail.com --------11 of 14-------- No Surprises: Baucus-Braly-Blue Cross Bailout Advances to Final Act by Donna Smith Wednesday, October 14, 2009 CommonDreams.org Whew. Saddle up, America. And say it three times, really fast: Baucus-Braly-Blue Cross Bailout, Baucus-Braly-Blue Cross Bailout, Baucus-Braly-Blue Cross Bailout. Get ready for the next act in the intricate drama that has been unfolding under the guise of healthcare reform since last fall. Recalling those glorious chilled fall evenings of 2008 and the promise of a Presidential candidate who confidently and clearly proclaimed healthcare as a basic human right, observers of the quest to grant that right within the American system might wonder how such a welcome proclamation dissolved into a nation standing on the brink of making that right to healthcare more distant, less protected and far less secure for millions of its citizens. Senator Max Baucus could explain. He receives the highest political contributions of any Democrat in Congress from the healthcare industry. Angela Braly of WellPoint could explain. As one of the most powerful women on earth (see Forbes' listing for the past few years of the top 100 and look among the top 10), she writes the provisions of the legislation Sen. Baucus offers to the nation. She protects the interests of Blue Cross and all other for-profit, private insurers very well indeed. And together with a few of their closest friends both in government and industry - folks well place inside and out - they'll be enriched many times over by the passage of reform legislation that leaves millions and millions of people with healthcare access problems and open to financial ruin. It's all there: Take carefully scripted and timed objections by the insurance and healthcare industry giants, woefully long legislative pauses of dismay over costs or the terribly unacceptable option of inaction and lack of bipartisanship, and then punctuate it with Presidential moments of stoic determination. That's the stuff of political theatrics. If only it were the stuff of the basic human right to healthcare, it might be a play we'd all have enjoyed watching. What would make any American citizen watch the unfolding events and think many of these leaders - oft cited as brilliant minds and superior intellects - would allow any outcome in policy and law not in their own best interests to prevail? The plot is what they wrote it to be - all the way down to the last minute objections to make it appear as though the health insurance industry doesn't really want to raise premiums and make even higher profits. The American people owe them all a very good living, don't we? "The lady doth protest too much." Shakespeare wrote it a few centuries ago. Many have borrowed it. Braly and her pals have perfected it to an art form. And watch Congress act as though with its huge Democratic majority capable of passing real reform that they've been scared by the "teabaggers of August" or influenced by labor leaders on the left slamming their shoes on the table and objecting to weak reforms and taxation of benefits - and now have muscled through all of that to give us insurance purchase mandates as reform. So, watch and wonder no more America. The next few scenes will include all sorts of conflicts surrounding the details. Public option, robust or not. No matter. Amendments to add some teeth to the legislation. Sure enough. Taxation of benefits. No problem. House of Representatives stomps its feet. Of course. President steps in now and then to put his bigger than Congress' foot down. You betcha. And then on to the Rose Garden just before Christmas with all the players wrapped in holiday glow giving a gift to the American people. Maybe we can time the ceremony with the lighting of the White House Christmas tree and the placement of the Menorah. Bet we could all write the invitation list right now. And we're not on it. Buy insurance (as an employee). Buy insurance (as an employer). Buy insurance in the private market. Buy insurance (as a taxpayer funding the subsidies). It's sort of like Jingle Bells, only a lot less fun. But that's the simple bottom line to this reform. Everyone buys the defective product or else. Sold to protect health and wealth, it does neither by law. In the end, millions of us pay more for less coverage. Hundreds of thousands bury family members, children, neighbors, friends as they want for protection from preventable death. Millions are fined for failing to buy insurance. Financial services firms grow fatter and bolder collecting for medical providers. Millions more go bankrupt. America the beautiful continues to finish last and boldly so in measures of real health. Round and round we go. Ten or so years down the road, the unsustainable and well-scripted healthcare reform plan crafted by team Baucus-Braly and all its supporting cast of characters will have to be redone. A gruesome sequel of sorts. I wonder if we'll have someone writing the new script that hears the cries of the people and actually acts on that suffering. Because the current cast will be long gone having claimed their victory and safely off counting their riches. [Proof positive that the rich are unworthy. They are the ones doing this to us, and laughing. They have got both parties and a servile "president" and media licking their boots. We the people are sliced diced and riced so the cash and labor fall out, and the rest dumpered. And the rich laugh, How can they be so everlastingly dumb? And they plan more cops and weapons against citizens in the streets, to make us ransom our lives with money and labor. They laugh ha ha ha in country clubs. The rich hate and fear democracy and they hate and fear us. When are we going to act? -ed] Donna Smith is a community organizer for the California Nurses Association and National Co-Chair for the Progressive Democrats of America Healthcare Not Warfare campaign. --------12 of 14-------- Deception, Spin, and Lies by Gilad Atzmon October 16th, 2009 Dissident Voice By way of deception thou shalt do war. - the Mossad motto Less than a week after Ankara cancelled an air exercise with Israel, Turkey's state-sponsored channel TRT1 broadcast "Ayrilik" ("Farewell"), a new prime-time TV show that depicts the true image of Israel's genocidal military operation in Gaza last January. The Israelis are not happy. "Broadcasting this series is a serious case of state-sponsored incitement..."., said Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Thursday morning. "Such a series, which doesn't even have a weak connection to reality presents the IDF's soldiers as murderers of innocent children..." I wonder whether one should remind hardliner Lieberman, who happens to be an enthusiastic ethnic cleanser and a proud Judeo supremacist racist, that the reality on the ground last January was "connected enough" to establish a genocidal war crime inquiry and a crime against humanity. It left over 1400 fatal casualties. It also left thousands more injured, most of them children, women and elders. However, for once Lieberman happens to read the map. The Turkish TV-show indeed depicts the IDF's soldiers as murderers of children women and elders for this is what Israeli soldiers are and this is exactly what Israel stands for politically, symbolically, ideologically and practically. Though Lieberman tries to appease his Israeli crowd and may even be successful in doing so, his chances to mount pressure on Turkish TV and the government are rather limited. By now we all happen to know Israel is all about the establishment of a "Jew-only state" in a stolen land named Palestine. As it happens we tend to spend a lot of time writing and analysing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the facts on the ground are actually very simple. Zionism is an ideology inspired by the plunder of Palestine. Israel has put the robbery of Palestine and the Palestinians into practice. We are talking here about a national revival project that is taking place at the expense of another people. It is a murderous project inherently inspired by the bible and an unethical plundering project of "home coming". It is a lethal combination of some deadly interpretations of the Old Testament together with a non-ethical present. The only question to be asked is how have they got away with it? How do they continue to get away with plunder, murder, spreading white phosphorus and piling up nuclear weapons? Spin, Deception, and Lies are the Answer A few weeks ago, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu stood in front of the UN waving the Wannsee Conference's protocols suggesting that he was holding the "proof for the Nazi extermination of European Jewry". With typical histrionics, he pleaded for the nations empathy. "Is this a lie?" he cried out. Embarrassingly enough, though the document he presented to the assembly was genuine, he was actually spinning the usual Zionist lines. The Wannsee Protocol refers in a rather general manner, to the deportation to the East of the entire Jewish population from Germany and German occupied territories. Though the document refers to "Final Solution", the very "solution" it prescribed is rather different from the common interpretation offered by the Zionist Shoa narrative. The Wannsee Protocol refers basically to a sinister plan to exhaust the deported Jews in the hard labour of roadwork. As much as Wannsee document is devastating, its relevance to the history of the holocaust is rather limited for the "Wannsee plan" has never materialised into an actual operative program. It has actually nothing to do with the historicity of Jewish extermination known as the Shoa. It doesn't set any plan for death camps or gas chambers whatsoever. As a legal document, it proves nothing but general Nazi inclinations. As a historic document it by no means "proves" the Shoa and the extermination of the Jews, it just affirms that the Nazi regime was committed to the idea of Judenrein (Free of Jews). However, this fact is well established and widely accepted even by most if not all holocaust revisionists. As much as Netanyahu insisted to boost the Holocaust with some fresh credibility, he ended up waving a relatively insignificant paper in front of the nations. Needless to say, he got away with it. However, far more crucial is the fact that the Wannsee Protocol lines out a program that is not that different from Lieberman's deadly plan for the Palestinians. In reality it is the Jewish state that murders Palestinians en masse and starves those who survive. Moreover, it is very interesting also to elaborate on the following questions: how is it that the leader of the Jewish state is standing in front of the nation and spins in broad daylight in the name of Israel and the name of the Jewish people? What can we learn from the fact that an Israeli leader tries to fool the entire UN assembly? How is it that as Israeli PM manages to divert the attention so easily from his own crimes against humanity that are taking place in the present into a relatively insignificant historical document? In short, how does he get away with it? The answer may be pretty trivial. Like in the case of the Mossad motto, they make their wars by deception. The entire Jewish revival project is grounded on sets of lies. The entire tale of Jewish "home coming" is nothing less than a daylight collective crime based on false argument and lies again. Initially Zionists were deceiving their fellow Jews but as time passed by they have been extending their tactics. For more than a while they have been spinning us all. The Israelis and Zionists are born into a lie, they live their life through a lie, they tend to believe that they can get away with lies and deception and the sad truth must be said. As far as world leaders are concerned, they actually do. As we know, not a single world leader challenged Netanyahu's spin at the UN. More disturbing is the fact that not a single historian or intellectual tried to point out to the Israeli PM that, more than anything else, the Wannsee Protocol actually describes his own policies at home. Very few World Leaders have the guts to oppose the Zionist spin operation. Recently we have witnessed the courageous Iranian Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan. This is not a lot considering the level of colossal atrocities committed by the Jewish state. However, it is better than nothing. The good news is that Humanism and Humanity is not exactly in the possession of politicians or so called "world leaders". It is actually our property, the members of the human race, the people out there who happen to witness the emerging evil. True Humanity and Humanism is delivered by kindness and an aspiration for ethics and truthfulness. In most cases it is actually artists and ordinary people who transform Humanism into a vivid message. Our elected interventionists, for some reason insist on dragging us all into more and more Zionist wars in the name of the holocaust, democracy and liberation... Tragically enough, our Western leaders are still silenced or at least "captivated" by Zionist lies. But this shouldn't be a major concern anymore. The betrayal of Western ideologies (left, right, and centre), politicians and institutions are an established fact. Succumbing to Zionist lies is apparently just one symptom amongst too many. Not only that truth will win, it is actually winning already. The identification of the Zionist spin is becoming common knowledge. As the foggy cloud of the Zionist brutality expands we all develop a growing yearning for some beams of truth and grace. We are beginning to grasp that they make their wars by the means of deception. They may win a few more Pyrrhic battles, but they are losing the war. Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He lives in London, and is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed and the recently released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. He can be reached at: atz [at] onetel.net.uk. --------13 of 14-------- "Global Imbalances" Versus Internal Inequalities Understanding the World Economy by James Petras October 14th, 2009 Dissident Voice The deep and ongoing crises of leading capitalist countries, especially the United States, has provoked a debate over the causes, consequences and appropriate policies to remedy it. The debate has revealed a deep division over the causes and remedies, with Anglo-Franco American (AFA) politicians, columnists and economists on one side and their Asian-German (AG) counterparts on the other. In general terms the AFA spokespeople put the blame for the crises on external factors, or more specifically they point their finger at the positive trade surpluses, dynamic export sectors and high investment rates in productive sectors and low levels of consumption in the AG countries as the cause of "unbalances" or "disequilibrium" in the world economy.1 In contrast, the AG countries reject this argument which speaks to prejudicial external practices. They emphasize the internal "imbalances" within the AFA countries, which has weakened their international, commercial and financial position. In this paper, I am going to argue that both internal economic policies and external empire building strategies of the AFA countries have been the driving force for global imbalances. The structural differences between the two regions and the differences in class structure and economic configurations in each bloc precludes any easy or immediate solution. On the contrary, for the foreseeable future, the conflict between dynamic emerging export powers and the declining western bloc is likely to intensify, leading to greater trade conflicts and possible military confrontations. The AFA charges against China's commercial "imbalances" conflates trade with the West with Beijing's relations with the rest of the world. China has balanced trade or even trade deficits with Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Latin American countries. Moreover, the AFA countries have trade imbalances with other regions including the Middle East and Germany. Even if the AFA countries curtailed imports from China, it is most likely that other Asian countries would replace them, including Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Bangladesh and India. The resulting trade deficits of the AFA would remain about the same. The AFA countries blame China's "undervalued" currency, and claim that Beijing authorities manipulate the exchange rate to under price exports and beat out competitors (namely producers within the AFA). Yet China's currency has been revalued steadily upward over 20% the past five years, and yet the AFA still run a deficit, suggesting that their domestic producers have still not been able to compete with Chinese manufacturers.2 More recently AFA writers have complained about low interest rates set by the Chinese government as a "subsidy" to its exporters. Yet AFA interest rates are at zero percent or even negative, to no avail. Moreover, the AFA have provided over 1.5 trillion in bailout funds and over 1.3 billion in stimulus spending - a subsidy five times greater than China's stimulus package, without improving their trade balance. What is telling, given the sectoral allocations, of each regime's bailout - subsidy - stimulus packages, China has fully recovered and is growing at 8% by mid 2009, while the AFA continue to wallow in negative territory and continue running up trade deficits. This points to the centrality of internal factors, namely, the economic sectors which receive the state subsidies and how they invest it and as a result how their decisions affect trade balances. The AFA charge that China's low cost labor, its exploitation of workers accounts for trade imbalances. Yet an increasing percentage of China's exports are based on technological advances, not cheap labor. This is because low labor cost competitors are emerging in Asia. The AFA complain that China over emphasizes its "export" strategy at the expense of producing for the domestic market. Yet nearly half of China's exports to the US are made by US owned multi-nationals who have invested, subcontracted and co-produced with Chinese counterparts. In other words, US internal policy, the deregulation of capital flows, has facilitated the movement of US manufactures abroad resulting in a decline of local production, an increase in imports and greater trade deficits. Internal Causes of Trade Deficits (and Unbalanced World Economy) The most obvious and striking correlation with the growth of AFA trade imbalances is the growth and dominance of the financial sector.3 The financialization of the AFA economies and Wall Street's CEOs dominant role in the strategic economic positions of the state is transparent to the mass of the people and has even been acknowledged by most private economists and academics. Trade deficits increased in direct proportion to the growing political and economic power of the financial sector. In large part, this was due to the transfer of capital from manufacturing to financial services, leading to the decline of the manufacturing sector's investments in innovations and competitive management strategies. The financial sector's high salaries, bonuses and quick returns attracted most of self-styled "best and the brightest". MBA graduates multiplied while advanced engineering school graduates diminished. Advanced skilled worker training programs disappeared while low skill retail sales recruitment grew. The problem was that financial services did not, could not replace the overseas earnings which formerly accrued to the country through manufacturing sales. Least of all in the highly regulated financial markets of China, Japan, India and the rest of Asia, where banking was subordinated to the expansion of manufacturing - namely financing industries targeted by state officials. The dominance of finance capital and the related sectors of real estate and insurance, led to a highly polarized class structure: in which billionaire and millionaire investment bankers presided at the top and an army of low paid service workers (retail employees, cleaners and sweepers, etc.) immigrant and non-union workers occupied the bottom. Presently income inequalities in the US exceed those of any other "advanced" capitalist country. The inequalities in Manhattan exceed those of Guatemala. The growing concentration of wealth is accompanied by decline of median wages over the past three decades. As a result the purchasing power of US workers is declining, thus reducing the demand for locally produced quality goods. The purchase of imported cheap textiles, shoes and other accessories results. The result was a decline in local saving and domestic investment in manufacturing leading to a decline in competitiveness. Moreover, the competition among financial lenders furthered consumer spending and greater individual indebtedness at a time when manufacturing exports were declining, starved of investments. Most manufacturing firms transformed themselves into financial corporations, channeling investment funds in sectors not earning foreign exchange. Worst of all in pursuit of higher profits, manufacturers turned into commercial vendors, closing down plants and sub-contracting production to China and other Asian countries and importing final products into the US creating the trade imbalances. The large scale relocation of US multi-nationals abroad further exacerbated the trade imbalances. The key role of the state in creating domestic imbalances leading to global disequilibrium is a result of the financial sector's takeover of the state, and the deregulation of financial markets. The result was the long term promotion of an economic policy, in which the central bank (the Federal Reserve) and Treasury encouraged the growth of finance, real estate and insurance sectors over manufacturing. The finance based strategy was justified by a large army of academics and publicists who spoke of a "post industrial", or "service" or "information" economy as a "higher stage," rather than a perversely unbalanced, unsustainable and unjust economy. Financial supremacy coincided with the growing militarization of US foreign policy. Throughout the last thirty years, US overseas economic expansion was gradually eclipsed by the growing reliance on military intervention, and the build-up of military bases in hundreds of sites. As financialization weakened the productive capacity of US manufacturing exporters' efforts to capture markets, US policymakers increased their reliance on the supremacy of military power. The channeling of billions into military spending drained resources from efforts to upgrade the competitiveness of US civilian industry and was a major factor in its declining share of export markets. The end result of militarization was a loss of export earnings and the growth of trade deficits. If we combine the three great internal imbalances in the AFA economics, but especially in the US, the financialization of the economy, the militarization of foreign policy and the concentration of wealth at the top, we can best understand why the US has such a huge and growing trade deficit. China Export Driven Strategy China's emphasis on an export driven strategy and the resultant growing class inequalities is largely a result of the class composition of the state and its social structure. In other words internal factors are the driving force of its pursuit of trade surpluses. What is ironic is that some of the AFA critics, who rightly point to the internal "imbalances" in China, overlook similar problems in the West. Namely, no mention is made of the absence of a national health plan in the US, the growth of inequalities and declining mass purchasing power - even as they point to these deficiencies in China. What Western advocates of greater social welfare in China do not discuss is the capitalist class power, privilege and profits which hinder greater mass consumption. Least of all do they discuss the motor force for lifting working class and peasant living conditions, namely the class struggle. Instead they rely on technocratic appeals to Chinese elites for greater social spending. The Chinese state has evolved into a powerful machine for manufacturing goods and billionaires. Today China has the highest growth, the highest rate of exploitation and the greatest class inequalities in Asia. Increasing wages to stimulate local consumption means reducing profits, anathema to all capitalists including Chinese. Increasing public spending on universal health coverage especially for the 700 million uninsured peasants and rural workers means higher taxes on the rich, including the families and colleagues of the governing elite. In contrast, producing for export markets does not require increasing domestic consumer power, on the contrary it requires lower wages. A shift from an export-driven to a domestic market driven strategy, requires not only a "change in policy" but a deep shift in class power, from the current capitalist class and its state backers to the workers and peasants. To realize large scale, long term commitments of public revenues to social services for the rural poor and higher wages for exploited workers requires sustained popular mobilizations, uprisings, strikes to secure the independent trade unions and peasant associations necessary to secure a shift in state allocations toward domestic consumption. China's "imbalances" are largely internal, social and political. An imbalance of social power between an all powerful capitalist state and a repressed powerless mass of workers and peasants; an imbalance in income between a super-rich banking, real estate, manufacturing export elite and a low paid working class and subsistence peasantry; an imbalance between a highly organized state linked by family, ideology and economic interests to the capitalist class and a dispersed, fragmented and isolated mass of working people. China's ruling class, its outward billion dollar investments in western capitalist enterprises via its sovereign wealth funds, its billion dollar investments in overseas extractive enterprises, is driven by the mass of capital accumulated that is extracted via intense levels of labor exploitation and the elimination of state funded pensions, health plans and education. China's role as an emerging imperial power is rooted in the imbalance between global power and social welfare decay. The fact that western capitalist writers, policymakers and their academic camp followers point to the same social imbalances in China as its domestic working class critics should not obscure a basic point. The Wall Street critics are defending the AFA financial elite against China's export industrialists' greater productivity; while the domestic working class critics are criticizing the capitalists and the state for their high rates of exploitation and concentration of wealth. The key to reducing imbalances in world trade is reducing socio-economic inequalities within each region. The US requires a profound shift from a finance dominated economy to a manufacturing economy, where finance, high tech and higher education is directed to creating a competitive, productive economy based on skilled labor. The link at the top between Wall Street and the Pentagon must be replaced by a link from below between the industrial working class, low paid service workers and public sector employees and professionals. The structural transformation of the US economy is necessary but not sufficient. If US efforts to pursue a military driven empire persist, this will divert resources away from domestic and overseas economic priorities. Military driven empires alienate trading partners, have high costs and low returns, isolate economic investors and traders from productive partnerships and are destructive of domestic and overseas civilian productive facilities. The way out of the massive imbalances is for the US to engage in a large scale, long term domestic structural transformations - namely de-financialization and de-militarization. But the political and economic forces benefiting from the current configuration are deeply entrenched, in control of both major parties and dominate the mass media and its message. Yet, despite their profound institutional power they suffer several fatal flaws. In the first instance they have created unsustainable global imbalances, which will sooner or later lead to a collapse of the dollar and renewed and more virulent and costly financial bubbles. Secondly, the free market which is the main ideological prop of the deregulated financial power elite is totally discredited as evidenced by the single digit support and trust of Wall Street. Thirdly, military driven empire building has run its course: after nine years of war in Afghanistan the vast majority of the US public has sent a message to the political elite of both parties, the White House and Congress, that its time to shift from funding failed overseas adventures to solving the problem of 20% under and unemployed Americans (30 million), the 100 million or 33% of Americans with no or costly and inadequate health coverage. No amount of media and political pundit scapegoating of China for our own self-induced "imbalances" can divert American opinion from their direct experiences with our own internal inequalities and policy failures. 1. Martin Wolf, .Why China must do more to rebalance its economy. Financial Times, September 23, 2009, p 11. See also Financial Times, October 3, 4, 2009. p 3 and Financial Times, September 21, 2009 p 9. [.] 2. Financial Times, October 9, 2009 p 1. [.] 3. Gerald Davis, Managed by the Markets: How Finance Re-Shaped America (New York: Oxford University Press 2009). [.] James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras. most recent book is Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press, 2008). He can be reached at: jpetras [at] binghamton.edu. --------14 of 14-------- Tiny Tim receives Nobel peace prize Hjalmar, Norway - Today we the Nobel Commitee announce the co-recipient of the Peace Prize: Tiny Tim. For years he tiptoed through the tulips, eyes on a Peace Prize. He then correctly realized that prizes are not given to tiptoeing pansies. So he ran, skipped, hopped, and rolled through the tulips, with attendant manly collateral damage. Better. Tim's breakthrough came when he wholeheartedly +mowed+ the tulips. Response was immediate and positive. "Mowing Through the Tulips", the Video, shows, finally, Tiny Tim to be a +practical+ man of peace, and it is for this that we grant him the prize. Congratulations, Tim! -------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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