|Progressive Calendar 11.03.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2009 15:35:12 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.03.09 1. Green retrofit 11.03 6:30pm 2. Salon reborn 11.03 6:30pm 3. Sustain/film 11.03 7pm 4. Kathy Kelly 11.03 7pm 5. Amnesty Intl 11.03 7pm StCloud MN 6. Insurgent party 11.03 8pm? 7. John Kolstad - Strong response to Papa John on MPR 8. ed - We support Kolstad for mayor. Sign on. 11.03 9. Susan Rosenthal - Inequality: the root source of sickness in America 10. Ellen Brown - Cutting Wall Street out/state banks 11. John Stanton - The "I didn't do it" culture/social decay in America 12. Bouthaina Shabaan - Settler colonialism/return to the Middle Ages 13. Anya Achtenberg - 2010 Writers/artists research group to Cuba/Jan 3-11 14. ed - The BSA --------1 of 14-------- From: Historic Saint Paul <ccarey [at] historicsaintpaul.org> Subject: Green retrofit 11.03 6:30pm Green Retrofitting Today's Homes for Tomorrow Historic Saint Paul's presents a series of workshops on Green Retrofitting your existing home. The series will present information on current tools, strategies, and resources for improving the energy efficiency of existing homes, and will explore related issues such as planning for long-term sustainability while conserving character and architectural features. Workshop #1 Tuesday, November 3, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Hmong Professional Building 225 University Avenue, Saint Paul, MN Jimmie Sparks, of Neighborhood Energy Connection will present Excel Energy's overview of strategies to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of existing homes. Participants will learn how to address energy wasters, such as: drafty windows, insufficient insulation, humidity problems, inefficient appliances, and poor ventilation. --------2 of 14-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Salon reborn 11.03 6:30pm HI Folks, Well, it is time for Salon nights again. Tuesday Nov 3 we will celebrate the 8th year of the salons. Come and help cheer us along. Bring something to share, if you want. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------3 of 14-------- From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Sustain/film 11.03 7pm Tues. Nov. 3rd, 7 p.m. in the College Center at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave. S., Please come to the next screening in this semester's Celebrate Sustainability Film Series! Red Gold: Sockeye Salmon Fishing and the Pebble Mine Red Gold: Imagine a pristine Alaskan watershed with the most productive Sockeye salmon rivers in the world, teeming with millions of native fish pushing up river to spawn. Now imagine the world's largest open pit gold and copper mine at their headwaters. --------4 of 14-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Kathy Kelly 11.03 7pm A Talk by Kathy Kelly: Peaceable Assembly Campaign Tuesday, November 3, 7:00 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. WAMM's participation in the Days of Nonviolent Resistance, organized by Kathy Kelly and Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will be from January 19 through February 2, lobbying our representatives to press for the complete end to the U.S. wars and military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Participants will also press for an end to U.S. support for Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. One may choose to demonstrate at the White House and lobby their representatives for whatever number of days they choose. During this two-week period, President Obama is scheduled to give his first State of the Union address and he will submit his budget for Fiscal Year 2011. [I'll be surprised if any part of it is positive, other than a fig-leaf of empty hope-style rhetoric. Corporations hold the national government, media, and Dem party hostage; citizen action is all there is. -ed] The Days of Nonviolent Resistance give us a special opportunity to speak out against the Iraq and Afghan wars and their continued funding. Sponsored by: Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-522-1861. --------5 of 14-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 11.03 7pm StCloud MN Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, November 3rd, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain, Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or jerry.dirks [at] gmail.com. --------6 of 14-------- From: John Kolstad <jkolstad [at] millcitymusic.com> Subject: Insurgent party 11.03 8pm? Come join us at the joint campaign party on election night. Independents, Ron Paul Republicans and Greens will join together for some fun and partying on election night. Bands, good food and drinks. That will be the Insurgent Party(s) and Cadillac vs Cornbread will be on the schedule, with Tomahawk Tassle doing BQ. Club Jaeger, 10th and Washington North. --------7 of 14-------- From: John Kolstad <jkolstad [at] millcitymusic.com> Subject: Strong Response to Papa John on MPR I am very pleased at the strong positive response I have gotten from voters regarding my appearance on MPR with RT Rybak. I think it is clear why the Mayor did not agree to any other public forums or debates. Mayor Rybak sounded good as long as he was on his talking points and there was no one there to point out the errors, misstatements, and partial truths. Although only a half hour, the MPR show gave me some opportunity to poke holes in his public persona. Also it is clear from the chat rooms and list serves that people see through Rybak poor job as mayor and badly hiden plan to really be Governor. Just think what would have happened if I had one or two debates that were at least one hour long. With light turnout expected, every vote for Papa John counts much more than it would with strong turn out. So I urge all those who want to bring new management and strong fiscal control to Minneapolis should vote for Papa John Kolstad today. Those who have known me through the years and support what I stand for should make sure they get out and vote and make sure their friends and family members do to. Thanks for the support. Papa John Kolstad --------8 of 14-------- From: ed Subject: We support Kolstad for mayor. Sign on. 11.03 We the undersigned support Papa John Kolstad for mayor of Minneapolis. RT Rybak has failed to properly manage the city. Rybak has failed to supervise the police department. Rybak has worked actively with the city council to concentrate power downtown, and to shut out the voices of the residents. Rybak has actively pushed to increase Property Taxes by forcing up property valuations and increasing the tax rate. The Property Tax is the most regressive tax there is. This callous policy is harming low and fixed income people and small business. Rybak and the City Council often speak of their support for small business, but their actions directly harm small business. Papa John Kolstad will actively promote public involvement, will make the city more attractive, friendly and affordable for its residents, promote small businesses, and promote public safety through a better supervised police force. Papa John Kolstad will immediately ask for a complete audit of the City's spending over the past few years. Essential Services, like Police and Fire, must be funded. Non-essential services and expenditures need to be reviewed on a case by case basis, with the intention of cutting low priority programs. Papa John Kolstad will not force people on low or fixed incomes to pay for programs of questionable value. He will examine the Property Tax and work to remove any inequities. Papa John Kolstad believes that providing assistance to small business, as opposed to heavy taxes plus fee upon fee, will unleash this economic force, create new jobs and increase revenue to the City. Rybak is clearly using the Mayors Office as a stepping stone to run for governor. Papa John Kolstad is committed to the city of Minneapolis and will serve the full four years. In a recent email to supporters, Rybak said, "For the better part of two years I traveled the state to let people know what I knew: he (Obama) would be a president who would inspire us to take on the big challenges of our time". Papa John Kolstad says, "No wonder the City is in such bad straits, the Mayor has not been here for the better part of 2 years. We need a Mayor who will travel around the City and find out what the Minneapolis citizens know and what the critical needs and problems are. Then work to solve them". To bring about this important change to our City, we the undersigned know that we must take an active and public role to bring about the change this City needs. Supporters: Danene Provencher Mike Whelan Lydia Howell Dave Garland Dori Ullman Fred Markus Michael Cavlan RN, candidate ward 8 Alan Hancock Richard Broderick Amber Garlan Suzanne Linton Gary Carlson Tom Cleland Paul Busch Robert Halfhill David Unowsky Alan Carlson Jan McGee James Mayer Andy Hamerlinck Jane Kirby Dean Zimmerman L Hogan Mary Devitt Carol Mellom Bob & Judy Bjorke Anthony Hunnicutt JOhnny Hazard Eric Gilbertson Vanessa Vogl Tom Dooley David Shove 32 [Contact John at 612-722-6649, kolstadformayor [at] gmail.com Website: papajohnkolstad.com Volunteer at kolstadformayor [at] gmail.com Send checks to Papa John Kolstad for Mayor 2830 E 22nd St Mpls 55406] --------9 of 14-------- Inequality: The Root Source of Sickness in America by Susan Rosenthal November 3rd, 2009 Dissident Voice The United States spends more on health care than any other industrial nation, yet it has the highest infant death rates and the lowest life expectancy. This problem is attributed to a fragmented, profit-oriented medical system that denies millions of people access to care.1 While a national medical plan that covers everyone is desperately needed, improving the general health of the population requires more fundamental change. Studies show that social inequality affects the health of populations more than any other factor - more than diet, smoking, exercise, and even more than access to medical care.2 Americans suffer the worst health statistics in the industrialized world because they live in the most unequal society in the industrialized world. Poor health and lack of access to medical care are both symptoms of social inequality. In 1970 the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans took in 100 times the average annual income. By 2001, they were taking 560 times the average annual income. In 1980, U.S. life expectancy ranked 14th in the world. By 2007, it ranked 29th. Inequality is built into and generated by the capitalist system. Capital is created when employers pay workers less than the value of the goods and services they produce. The resulting profit, or capital, is used to extract more capital. As this process repeats over time, capital accumulates at the top of society and misery accumulates at the bottom. The strategy of divide-and-rule generates even more inequality: between men and women; White and Black; national and foreign-born; straight and gay; etc. As social inequality grows, the health of the entire population suffers, not just those on the bottom.3 Inequality Kills A study of 282 metropolitan areas in the U.S. found that the greater the difference in income, the more the death rate rose for all income levels, not just for the poor. Researchers calculated that if income inequality could be reduced to the lowest level found in the United States, it would save as many lives as would be saved by eradicating heart disease or by preventing all deaths from lung cancer, diabetes, motor vehicle crashes, HIV infection, suicide and homicide combined!4 We would see even greater benefits if we eliminated social inequality entirely. Consider the lives that would be saved just by ending racial inequality. Without racism, death rates for Black and White Americans would be the same. Yet, every year, Black Americans suffer 300 more deaths per 100,000 people than White Americans. Compare these 300 additional deaths with the 2005 U.S. homicide rate of fewer than 6 per 100,000. Do the math. Racism kills 50 times more people than die at the hands of individual murderers. Inequality kills kids. Forty-two nations have lower infant death rates than the U.S. The infant death rate in the capital of the U.S. is more than double the infant death rate in the capital of China. In 25 nations, people live longer, on average, than they do in America. Inequality is so destructive that it can even counter the benefit of higher incomes. Studies show that poorer people living in more equal nations tend to be healthier and live longer than more-affluent people living in more unequal nations. For example, middle-income people in Britain enjoy better health than wealthier Americans.5 Men living in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, are more likely to reach age 65 than Black American men living in Harlem. Harlem men have higher incomes than Bangladeshi men but live in a more unequal society. Black Americans tend to die prematurely from cardiovascular and other diseases that are linked with class and race inequality.6 How does inequality do so much damage? Power = Health A study of the highly-stratified British civil service found that health deteriorated as social status fell. This decline in health could not be explained by smoking, exercise or body weight.7 Income is not the factor, because professionals who earn less than non-professionals still enjoy better health.8 The answer lay in the surprising finding that those near the top of the power structure had worse health than those at the top, even though their life-styles were essentially the same.7 The only difference that could account for this is social power. People with more control over their lives enjoy better health. Bosses live the longest, healthiest lives because they have the most power. As power diminishes, stress rises and health deteriorates. This relationship between social status and health has been found in every nation studied, including the United States.9 A 2008 study found widening differences in health between income levels in America. (Income level is often used to measure social status.) The nation's poorest adults were nearly five times more likely to be in "poor or fair" health than the richest, and at every income level the wealthier group was healthier than the next lower one. This trend was seen in all racial groups.10 Michael Marmot, who studies the link between social status and health, explains, Your position in the hierarchy very much relates to how much control you have over your life. Sustained, chronic and long-term stress is linked to low control over life circumstances.11 Under capitalism, only a few people get to make the important decisions. The rest of us get no say over how work will be organized and how social resources will be used. We don't get to decide if we will build more schools or more prisons, wage war or make peace. Exclusion from decision-making is strongly linked with cardiovascular disease,12 and the more powerless a person feels, the faster the disease progresses.13 Oppressed sections of the working-class suffer the highest rates of cardiovascular disease,14 because they have the least social control. People with little control over demanding jobs are more likely to be overweight and have high cholesterol regardless of age, amount of exercise and smoking habits. By itself, hard work is not bad for your health unless there is also a lack of control. The most health-damaging jobs saddle workers with great responsibility (e.g. caring for patients) while denying them the resources required to meet those responsibilities (enough time to do what is needed).15 In Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality, Richard Wilkinson links inequality with health-damaging stress. Children show rising levels of stress hormones as their social position falls.16 Nurses who work under "unfair and unreasonable" bosses have higher blood pressure.17 Simply speaking with someone with higher social status will raise your blood pressure.18 The greatest damage is done to those who are put down and ordered around their entire lives. Stress triggers a higher heart rate, a release of adrenaline, glucose and other neurological responses to help the body respond to a short-term threat. But when extended over long periods of time, they can harm the cardiovascular and immune systems, making individuals more vulnerable to a wide range of conditions including infections, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, asthma and aggression.11 vv Solidarity is the Best Medicine Human survival has always depended on the cooperation that flows from strong social bonds. People who pull together enjoy better health and longer lives.19 Strong social ties may explain why Hispanic Americans have lower rates of chronic illness than White Americans, despite having lower incomes.20 Human beings cannot be healthy in class-divided societies. From birth to death, capitalism ranks people on a vertical scale, with those higher up being treated as more worthy than those lower down. The unequal relationship between bosses and workers is maintained by divide-and-rule policies that generate more inequality based on sex, skin color, religion, nationality, etc. These divisions rupture social bonds and generate sickness throughout the population. Universal access to medical care would reduce some of this inequality. However, even the best medical system cannot eliminate the health-damaging effects of poverty, social discrimination, unsafe work, bad housing, poor schools and being denied the right to make decisions that affect our lives. To end these miseries, we must eliminate class divisions and all the other inequalities that follow. Human sickness is a product of sick social relationships, and human health is a product of healthy social relationships. Replacing class divisions with a cooperative, socialist society would reduce the burden of disease and raise the level of health more than any other measure. 1.Hadley, J. (2002). Sicker and poorer: The consequences of being uninsured. Kaiser Family Foundation. [.] 2.Wilkinson, R.G. (1992). National mortality rates: the impact of inequality? Am J Public Health, Vol 82:8, p. 1082-1084. See also, PBS (2008). Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? [.] 3.Rosenthal, S. (2006). POWER and powerlessness, Chapter 11, .Divide and Rule.. [.] 4.Lynch, J.W. et. al. (1998). Income inequality and mortality in metropolitan areas of the United States. Am J Public Health Vol. 88, p. 1074-1080. [.] 5.Quoted in Bowe, C. (2008). U.S. society helping to make people sicker. The Financial Times Limited, February 29. [.] 6.McCord C, Freeman H.P. (1990). Excess mortality in Harlem. New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 322, p. 173-7. [.] 7.DHSS (1980). Inequalities in health: Report of a research working group. Middlesex: U.K. Author. [.] [.] 8.Cited in Schmidt. J. (2000). Disciplined minds: A critical look at salaried professionals and the soul-battering system that shapes their lives. Rowman & Littlefield, p. 103-104. [.] 9.A discussion of American studies linking class and heath can be found in Schmidt. J. (2000). Disciplined minds: A critical look at salaried professionals and the soul-battering system that shapes their lives. Rowman & Littlefield, p. 103-104. [.] 10.Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2008). Overcoming Obstacles to Health. [.] 11.Cohen, P. (2004). Forget lonely. Life is healthy at the top. New York Times, May 15. [.] [.] 12.Raphael, D. (2001), Inequality is bad for our hearts: Why low income and social exclusion are major causes of heart disease in Canada, North York Heart Health Network, Toronto, Canada. [.] 13.Everson S, et. al. (1997). Hopelessness and 4-year progression of carotid atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, Vol. 17:8, p.1490-5. [.] 14.Raphael, D. (2002). Poor choice or no choice?: Even more evidence links low income with disease so why keep blaming lifestyle choices like fries? Toronto Star, October 11, p. F6. [.] 15.Kivimki, M., et. al. (2002). Work stress and risk of cardiovascular mortality: prospective cohort study of industrial employees. BMJ October 19. Vol. 325, p. 857. [.] 16.Lupien S.J. et al. (2000). Child.s stress hormone levels correlate with mother.s socioeconomic status and depressive state. Biol Psychiatry Nov 15. Vol. 48, p. 976-80. [.] 17.CBC. (2003). Bad bosses bring blood pressure to boil: Study. June 24. [.] 18.Long, J.M, et. al. (1982). The effect of status on blood pressure during verbal communication. Journal of Behavioral Medicine Vol.5, p. 165-71 [.] 19.Cacioppo, J.T. et al. (2002). Loneliness and health: Potential mechanisms. Psychosom Med May/June, Vol. 64, p. 407-17. Also, House, J.S. et. al. (1988). Social relationships and health. Science, Vol. 24, p. 540-545. [.] 20.Cited in Cohen, P. (2004). Forget lonely. Life is healthy at the top. New York Times, May 15. [.] Susan Rosenthal is a practicing physician and the the author of POWER and Powerlessness (2006) and Class, Health and Health Care (2008). She is a founding member of International Health Workers for People Over Profit. She can be reached through her web site www.susanrosenthal.com or by email: susan [at] susanrosenthal.com. [Of course the rich won't like the above. If the rich don't like it, it's got to be good for all the rest of us. I'm for anything the rich don't like. -ed] --------10 of 14-------- Let States Finance Their Own Recovery Cutting Wall Street Out By ELLEN BROWN November 2, 2009 CounterPunch President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan has so far failed to halt the growth of unemployment: 2.7 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus plan began. California has lost 336,400 jobs. Arizona has lost 77,300. Michigan has lost 137,300. A total of 49 states and the District of Columbia have all reported net job losses. In this dark firmament, however, one bright star shines. The sole state to actually gain jobs is an unlikely candidate for the distinction: North Dakota. North Dakota is also one of only two states expected to meet their budgets in 2010. (The other is Montana.) North Dakota is a sparsely populated state of less than 700,000 people, largely located in cold and isolated farming communities. Yet, since 2000, the state's GNP has grown 56 percent, personal income has grown 43 percent and wages have grown 34 percent. The state not only has no funding problems, but this year it has a budget surplus of $1.3 billion, the largest it has ever had. Why is North Dakota doing so well, when other states are suffering the ravages of a deepening credit crisis? Its secret may be that it has its own credit machine. North Dakota is the only state in the Union to own its own bank. The Bank of North Dakota (BND) was established by the state legislature in 1919, specifically to free farmers and small businessmen from the clutches of out-of-state bankers and railroad men. The bank's stated mission is to deliver sound financial services that promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota. The Advantages of Owning Your Own Bank So, how does owning a bank solve the state's funding problems? Isn't the state still limited to the money it has? The answer is no. Chartered banks are allowed to do something nobody else can do: They can create credit on their books simply with accounting entries, using the magic of "fractional reserve" lending. As the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas explains on its web site: "Banks actually create money when they lend it. Here's how it works: Most of a bank's loans are made to its own customers and are deposited in their checking accounts. Because the loan becomes a new deposit, just like a paycheck does, the bank ... holds a small percentage of that new amount in reserve and again lends the remainder to someone else, repeating the money-creation process many times." How many times? President Obama puts this "multiplier effect" at eight to ten. In a speech on April 14, he said: "[A]lthough there are a lot of Americans who understandably think that government money would be better spent going directly to families and businesses instead of banks - 'where's our bailout?,' they ask - the truth is that a dollar of capital in a bank can actually result in eight or ten dollars of loans to families and businesses, a multiplier effect that can ultimately lead to a faster pace of economic growth." It can, but it hasn't recently, because private banks are limited by bank capital requirements and by their for-profit business models. And that is where a state-owned bank has enormous advantages: States own huge amounts of capital, and they can think farther ahead that their quarterly profit statements, allowing them to take long-term risks. Their asset bases are not marred by oversized salaries and bonuses; they have no shareholders expecting a sizable cut, and they have not marred their books with bad derivatives bets, unmarketable collateralized debt obligations and mark-to-market accounting problems. The Bank of North Dakota (BND) is set up as a dba: "the State of North Dakota doing business as the Bank of North Dakota." Technically, that makes the capital of the state the capital of the bank. Projecting the possibilities of this arrangement to California, the State of California owns about $200 billion in real estate, has $62 billion in various investments and has $128 billion in projected 2009 revenues. Leveraged by a factor of eight, that capital base could support nearly $4 trillion in loans. To get a bank charter, specific investments would probably need to be earmarked by the state as startup capital; but the startup capital required for a typical California bank is only about $20 million. This is small potatoes for the world's eighth largest economy, and the money would not actually be "spent." It would just become bank equity, transmuting from one form of investment into another - and a lucrative investment at that. In the case of the BND, the bank's return on equity is about 25 percent. It pays a hefty dividend to the state, which is expected to exceed $60 million this year. In the last decade, the BND has turned back a third of a billion dollars to the state's general fund, offsetting taxes. California could do substantially better than that. California pays $5 billion annually just in interest on its debt. If it had its own bank, the bank could refinance its debt and return that $5 billion to the state's coffers; and it would make substantially more on money lent out. Besides capital, a bank needs "reserves," which it gets from deposits. For the BND, this too is no problem, since it has a captive deposit base. By law, the state and all its agencies must deposit their funds in the bank, which pays a competitive interest rate to the state treasurer. The bank also accepts deposits from other entities. These copious deposits can then be plowed back into the state in the form of loans. Public Banking on the Central Bank Model The BND's populist organizers originally conceived of the bank as a credit union-like institution that would free farmers from predatory lenders, but conservative interests later took control and suppressed these commercial lending functions. The BND is now chiefly a "bankers' bank." It acts like a central bank, with functions similar to those of a branch of the Federal Reserve. It avoids rivalry with private banks by partnering with them. Most lending is originated by a local bank. The BND then comes in to participate in the loan, share risk and buy down the interest rate. One of the BND's functions is to provide a secondary market for real estate loans, which it buys from local banks. Its residential loan portfolio is now $500 billion to $600 billion. This function has helped the state to avoid the credit crisis that afflicted Wall Street when the secondary market for loans collapsed in late 2007. Before that, investors routinely bought securitized loans (CDOs) from the banks, making room on the banks' books for more loans. But these "shadow lenders" disappeared when they realized that the derivatives called "credit default swaps" supposedly protecting their CDOs were a highly unreliable form of insurance. In North Dakota, this secondary real estate market is provided by the BND, which has invested conservatively, avoiding the speculative derivatives debacle. Other services the BND provides include guarantees for entrepreneurial startups and student loans, the purchase of municipal bonds from public institutions and a well-funded disaster loan program. When the city of Fargo was struck by a massive flood recently, the disaster fund helped the city avoid the devastation suffered by New Orleans in similar circumstances; and when North Dakota failed to meet its state budget a few years ago, the BND met the shortfall. The BND has an account with the Federal Reserve Bank, but its deposits are not insured by the FDIC. Rather, they are guaranteed by the State of North Dakota itself - a prudent move today, when the FDIC is verging on bankruptcy. The Commercial Banking Model: The Commonwealth Bank of Australia The BND studiously avoids competition with private banks, but a publicly-owned bank could profitably engage in commercial lending. A successful model for that approach was the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which served both central bank and commercial bank functions. For nearly a century, the publicly-owned Commonwealth Bank provided financing for housing, small business, and other enterprise, affording effective public competition that "kept the banks honest" and kept interest rates low. Commonwealth Bank put the needs of borrowers ahead of profits, ensuring that sound investment flows were maintained to farming and other essential areas; yet, the bank was always profitable, from 1911 until nearly the end of the century. Indeed, it seems to have been too profitable, making it a takeover target. It was simply "too good not to be privatized." The bank was sold in the 1990s for a good deal of money, but its proponents consider its loss as a social and economic institution to be incalculable. A State Bank of Florida? Could the sort of commercial model tested by Commonwealth Bank work today in the United States? Economist Farid Khavari thinks so. A Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, he proposes a Bank of the State of Florida (BSF) that would make loans to Floridians at much lower interest rates than they are getting now, using the magic of fractional reserve lending. He explains: "For $100 in deposits, a bank can create $900 in new money by making loans. So, the BSF can pay 6 percent for CDs, and make mortgage loans at 2 percent. For $6 per year in interest paid out, the BSF can earn $18 by lending $900 at 2 percent for mortgages." The state would earn $15,000 per $100,000 of mortgage, at a cost of about $1,700, while the homeowner would save $88,000 in interest and pay for the home 15 years sooner. "Our bank will save people about seven years of their pay over the course of 30 years, just on interest costs," says Dr. Khavari. He also proposes 6 percent credit cards and 6 percent certificates of deposit. The state could earn billions yearly on these loans, while saving hefty sums for consumers. It could also refinance its own debts and those of its municipal governments at very low interest rates. According to a German study, interest composes 30 percent to 50 percent of everything we buy. Slashing interest costs can make projects such as low-cost housing, alternative energy development, and infrastructure construction not only sustainable, but profitable for the state, while at the same time creating much-needed jobs. Ellen Hodgson Brown is the author of Web of Debt: the Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free. --------11 of 14-------- The "I Didn't Do It" Culture Social Decay in America By JOHN STANTON November 3, 2009 CounterPunch "The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual..What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends. Our people are losing the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy." --Jimmy Carter, July 15, 1979 It was an unremarkable incident, really. I happened to be in an American high school, watching students (grades 9-12) comingling, laughing, discussing and, at the same time, eating lunch. The locale was not the school cafeteria but rather a large school hallway, sandwiched between a lounge and a library, with benches and plenty of floor space for 15-20 students. Adjacent to one of the benches was a trash can. On top of the garbage can was stacked, precariously, many lunch trays with leftover food, silverware and plates. One student accidently bumped the trash can and down came the whole mess crashing to the floor making a sound akin to a popping balloon. For a moment there was silence, and then the students went about their business. The trays and food sat there on the floor untouched. Some moments passed and then it was time for class. A dozen or more students, from each class level, bypassed the mess on the floor. Not one thought to clean it up. A senior level student, making sure to avoid a banana peel, remarked - with emphasis- "I Didn't Do It!" and trotted off to the classroom. That senior level student, in an unconscious yelp, echoed America's byline as it approaches the year 2010. American society merrily avoids accountability and responsibility. Americans seek the loophole and blame others - be they individuals, networks or nations - for their own deficiencies. American leaders direct the consequences of poor judgment down the chain-of-command. Why? Unaccountable Elite The American people have taken the bait from the nation's op-ed writers and talking heads, corporate CEO's, financiers, the president, members of congress, justices of the Supreme Court, governors, sports/movie/think-tank/academic stars, and military leaders. In the USA these are the script writers of the American narrative and masters of the American consciousness. They stand firm in their belief that the masses down below will follow their words and deeds, even die for them. They are the Unaccountable Elite. And the American people don't disappoint. Only on rare occasions is an "American leader" taken to task by a concerned public. The American people revel in their leaders, glorifying and emulating them and striving, one day, to make it like their idols did. In so doing they have forsaken their duty as American citizens to hold their leaders to account and, as consumers, divine what is theater and what is not. The American Dream is not pretty. It is, in fact, a descent, a struggle to reach the level of the Unaccountable Elite where "I Didn't Do It" is the mantra. This is a cycle that has to be broken for America to change. President Jimmy Carter (Carter Doctrine, funding the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan) was arguably the last president to tell the American public that some hard decisions had to be made about the way they lived their lives. It wasn't just about energy consumption, as he so eloquently stated in his famed July 1979 speech. It was, at root, about how Americans interact with each other and other nations/groups. For his frankness on the matter, his popularity with the American public increased. But the Unaccountable Elite was not pleased. They vilified Carter at every turn. The basic retort to Carter's speech went something like this: there is nothing wrong with America or Americans - it's the rest of the world that's the problem. Even the compassionate Ted Kennedy ridiculed Carter. In short, "We Didn't Do It". We, the people, as instructed by the masters, blamed OPEC, the USSR, the Shah, Vietnam and Carter for all our troubles. So we remember, wrongly, Jimmy Carter for his "Mired in Malaise Speech" which, of course, was nothing of the sort. His message was timeless and far more relevant now than it was in 1979. Americans are paying the price for not listening to Jimmy Carter, the last president to go beyond the cliche of "There is nothing to fear but fear itself" and speak brutally to the American people about its troubled social infrastructure and cloudy future. The Joy of Unaccountability Since the Carter years, what has the Unaccountable Elite done to deserve the respect and admiration of the American people? Morning in America brought to you by Ronald Reagan. Iran-Contra (arms for hostages, shipping missiles to Iran, illegal funding of pro-US Nicaraguan rebels) led to the convictions of Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, Elliot Abrams (Assistant Secretary of State), Robert McFarlane (National Security Advisor), Claire George (CIA), privatization/deregulation of US government functions accelerated, destruction of US civil service morale, accelerated poverty and homelessness, 200+ US Marine deaths in Lebanon, accelerated funding to nascent Al Qaeda to combat the USSR in Afghanistan and elsewhere, inflated USSR military capabilities for the purpose of massive defense budgets, created national missile defense jobs program, increased arms sales to dictatorial regimes, oversaw the Cold War, sent future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to work with Saddam Hussein, provided intelligence and chemicals to Iraq for its war against Iran, ruined future US economic performance by expanding deficits, did not game consequences of national security policy and practice. Thousand Points of Light brought to you by George Bush I. Pardoned those convicted in Iran-Contra (Bush essentially pardoned himself), invaded Iraq and Panama, watched Los Angeles burn during Rodney King riots (later sent troops), continued privatization of government, completely befuddled at USSR's collapse, pushed for NAFTA, increased arms exports, did not know how to shop at a supermarket, did not monitor nascent Al Qaeda and internal troubles in Middle East and Central Asia (break away publics), got the US military embroiled in Somalia, did not game consequences of national security policy and practice. Bridge to the 21st Century brought to you by Bill Clinton. Brought Republican Party doctrine and practice into the Democratic Party changing the two-party system into one party with two faces, accelerated deregulation of financial institutions and markets, trumped up the war with Serbia after the breakup of Yugoslavia, distracted the nation with Lewinsky Affair and impeachment proceedings, pushed NAFTA through the US Congress, accelerated arms sales to unsavory foreign regimes, did not game consequences of national security policy and practice, failed to competently track a fully funded Al Qaeda and convince national security apparatus of insurgent attack on American soil the result of decades of ill advised national security policy and practice in the Middle East, Central Asia. Axis of Evil brought to you by George Bush II. Watched New Orleans die during Hurricane Katrina, appointed those convicted and pardoned in Reagan/Father's Iran-Contra scandal, ignored warnings about insurgent attack that took place on 9-11-2001, ignored debt levels of American consumers, accelerated deregulation of financial markets, invaded Afghanistan then proceeded, on false pretenses, to invade Iraq and execute Saddam Hussein, oversaw displacement of 2.5 million Iraqi's, funded insurgent groups in Iran, ignored rise of the BRIC's, approved torture, approved wiretapping and spying on Americans, established Guantanamo Gulag, did not game consequences of national security policy and practice. Yes We Can brought to you by Barak Obama. Lifted campaign theme from Sammy Davis, Jr. book titled Yes I Can, currently expanding war in Afghanistan, expanding foreign internal defense operations (two US troops die during operations supporting the Philippine Army's battle against insurgents), appoints Clinton operatives to key positions, revives hype on cyberwar from Clinton era, does not close Guantanamo Gulag, maintains policies of Bush II, authorizes trillions in funding to save auto industry and finance industry but maintains paltry effort to save US homeowners/debtors, is not gaming consequences of national security policy and practice (to be continued). The Unaccountable Elite have promoted, and helped execute, the foreign and domestic policies that have dominated the American experience for decades. The good in all this, if there is such a thing, is dwarfed and distorted by the lies told during lobbying campaigns or campaign speeches, the unnecessary deaths of US troops (New Orleans residents too), the dismal care for the wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, homeowners evicted, jobs lost, savings demolished, health insurance beyond the reach of millions, high murder rates, and individuals tortured whether by water boarding or a Predator. Are Americans satisfied with this? Will they be surprised when the next insurgent counterattack hits domestically, or at the next wave of company layoffs? Perhaps the "I Didn't Do It" philosophy is the American Way. What kind of country spends $1.5 trillion on national security every year - and growing- but has to debate whether to spend $900 billion to make basic healthcare available to all citizens? The nation's human capital - as the Unaccountable Elite like to say - has to be viewed as part of the overall critical infrastructure of the USA. But to make that happen, the American people have to break the cycle of false consciousness and opt to become something more. If not, the cycle will continue and with a new twist: some sort of benevolent national security state will develop. Is it any wonder that the phrase the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was so appropriate. It's happening here, right now, in the USA. The Unaccountable Elite dictate and the rest follow. Oh, those trays and food on the floor? I didn't do it but I cleaned it up anyway. John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters. His latest book is General David Petraeus. Favorite Mushroom: Inside the US Army Human Terrain System. Reach him at cioran123 [at] yahoo.com. --------12 of 14-------- Settler Colonialism Return to the Middle Ages By BOUTHAINA SHAABAN CounterPunch November 2, 2009 When you read a news story saying that "the United Nations called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and put an end to the policy of forced evictions in East Jerusalem, warning that there are 60,000 Palestinians threatened of becoming homeless," you cannot but wonder about the role of the international organization today and about the goal for which it was created on the eve of the victory of the forces of freedom against Nazism and Fascism and whether it is the same organization authorized by history and the world's peoples to guarantee the right to "self determination"? Is it the same organization charged with "putting an end to colonialism"? Is it the same organization which believes in the right of all peoples to freedom without discrimination in terms of race or religion? If it is the same organization, why does it allow Palestinian civilians suffer from the brutality of armed settlers? The evasive and shameful language of the UN's call comes in the context of the submission of the Security Council to the Zionist will, and consequently commits a historic disgrace in the form of ignoring the legitimate political, civil and human rights of the Palestinian people including their right to life and freedom. For the UN not to take any initiative or measure which leads to giving the Palestinian people the right to self determination will remain a disgrace in the history of the organization which will never be removed. The Palestinians have been under a racist settler form of colonialism for over sixty years; and they are targeted with a campaign of ethnic cleansing launched by armed gangs of settlers supported by Israel's police and army. This is unparalleled in the 21st century in terms of the crimes which include siege, murder, food poisoning, starvation, assassination, demolishing houses, scorching crops, destroying farms, raping prisoners, trafficking in the organs of captives and preventing Palestinians from moving between their villages, farms and schools. All this happens under the full gaze and silence of the "civilized" world which fully supports the Israeli government and fully ignores the savage crimes committed each day by Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers. This silence is also a crime against the Palestinian people, because it allows Israeli politicians and generals and their allies to carry on with their crimes against civilians and violate the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law. The UN call on Israel to "stop removing [demolishing] Palestinian houses" comes on the backdrop of demolishing the houses of the Hanoun and Ghawi families in al-Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, and even removing the tent they built on the street near their house and confiscating its contents which consisted of covers to ward off the cold, and some utensils. The tent housed fifty persons of the two families who, up until a few months ago used to live in their home demolished by Israeli occupation soldiers in their policy of Judaizing Jerusalem. Every now and then, the UN or the EU acknowledge that "destroying the homes of Palestinians is a violation of international law". But if this and the other crimes referred to above are violations of international law, why do not they move their conscience to protect the security of Palestinians? The question is: what will the United Nations or Europe do? Will they limit themselves to acknowledging that Israeli acts are in sharp contrast with the UN Charter and international humanitarian law, while armed Jewish settler gangs continue to murder, demolish and set fires in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron and other places without any deterrent and without being brought to account? If all these crimes committed daily against Palestinians do not amount to ethnic cleansing and genocide, what does? In America White settlers, centuries ago, used to throw contaminated blankets on Indians to kill them. Today, Israel's rulers deprive Palestinians of food and medicine, burn crops and poison drinking water in order to kill the Palestinians or force them to leave. The UN calls this crime "forced eviction". So, is there voluntary evection? After all the crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces and armed gangs of settlers, the UN only "calls on Israel to stop demolishing houses". Maybe, it forgot to add, "please!" What Palestinian civilians urgently need now is an investigation into Israeli crimes to be reported to an international organization which still retains some self respect and concern for what remains of its credibility. The crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces, the terrorization of unarmed Palestinian civilians by armed settlers have become a shame for humanity which should not be tolerated. The acts of these settlers and their supporters in the Israeli government and financiers in the Western pressure groups return the world to the law of the jungle. Considering the shameful incapacity of the United Nations and president Obama's reiteration of his commitment to "Israel's security" on the 14th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish settler - while he should have expressed an equal commitment to Palestinians' security - makes it incumbent on the free people of the world and its intellectuals, including Jewish intellectuals, to raise their voice against Israel's war criminals so that Jews are not eternally shamed for committing war crimes and genocides. They should not keep silence concerning these crimes and should not be satisfied with preventing Israeli criminals from travel. They should be brought to justice in the same way the world has brought to justice other criminals responsible for killing and occupation before them. Jewish intellectuals in particular should ask themselves why should their government be built on the ruins of the lives and freedom of another people; Why their government should commit crimes of killing children, massacres, home demolition and assassination and then try to justify these crimes and blame all those who want to bring it to account? Why do not Jewish intellectuals face this historical moral dilemma in the Zionist entity? When Nazi Germany committed massacres against the Jews and other peoples, the Germans faced this dilemma and passed laws banning anti-Semitism. When the world paid the price of Japanese wars and ambitions, Japan took a historical and final decision against war. Why would Jewish intellectuals think they should justify all the acts of Israeli politicians and generals? How can they justify the fact that Ehud Olmert is prosecuted for financial corruption and not for his and others' crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese children and civilians? Why do they even consider these criminals heroes who should be secured and defended? Why do they form governments consisting of criminals competing with their records in assassination, murder and massacres against Palestinian civilians? These crimes are crimes against humanity by any standard. Why do not they criticize, in their culture, their rulers who have the blood of children on their hands? Silent Jewish intellectuals are responsible for the continuation of crimes which bring them all eternal shame as a result of their silence concerning these crimes. The United Nations and the European Union, and all those who use evasive language in describing crimes which should prompt the world's indignation and anger share the responsibility. History will condemn those who remain silent towards these crimes and will remember and thank only those who defend Palestinian children and the right of the Palestinian people to live in dignity, freedom, security and safety on their national soil. Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has been the spokesperson for Syria and was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through nizar_kabibo [at] yahoo.com --------13 of 14-------- From: Anya Achtenberg <aachtenberg [at] gmail.com> Subject: 2010 Writers and Artists Research Delegation to Cuba! January 3-11, 2010. Dear you all -- please disseminate this widely -- it promises to be an extraordinary time. 2010 Writers and Artists Research Delegation to Cuba! January 3-11, 2010. A group of writers, visual artists, educators and others will be going to Cuba January 3-11. We will stay in Old Havana, as well as visit nearby Matanzas province and Varadero Beach. We will meet with Cuban writers, artists, filmmakers, architects and others, and individual research can be arranged. Our group is coming from all over the United States. Join us! Please send this information around widely, and as soon as possible. There are just a few spots left. For more information and to register, contact writer Anya Achtenberg at aachtenberg [at] gmail.com or 651.214.9248. --------14 of 14-------- The Ballless States of America. Tread on us! Harder! We love it! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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