|Progressive Calendar 12.08.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 8 Dec 2009 01:37:47 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.08.09 1. MAP lunch meet 12.08 11:30pm 2. Health care 12.08 1pm 3. Boycott Israel/CTV 12.08 5pm 4. Salon/open talk 12.08 6:30pm 5. World human rights 12.08 6:30pm 6. AlliantACTION vigil 12.09 2am 7. Sust cities 12.09 12noon 8. Paul Street 12.09 7pm/12.10 7pm 9. Health care reform 12.09 7pm 10. Chris Hedges - Liberals are useless 11. Phil Ochs - Love me, I'm a liberal (song lyrics) 12. Margot Kidder - Ax Max/Time to declare war on Dem blackmailers 13. Ben Dangl - Bolivian president Morales empowered by re-election 14. Tanya Kerssen - With victory, new challenges in Bolivia 15. Alex Doherty - Heroism under tyranny - apathy under freedom 16. ed - Catatonia (story) 17. ed - Smell the rot (haiku) 18. ed - Bumpersticker --------1 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: MAP lunch meet 12.08 11:30pm MAP Annual Meeting and Luncheon Tuesday, December 8, 11:30 a.m. Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis. Join others at the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) Annual Meeting. There will be a luncheon and business meeting that includes the election on the Executive Committee. Sponsored by: MAP. WAMM is a member of MAP. FFI: Visit www.mapm.org. --------2 of 18-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Health care 12.08 1pm December 8: St. Paul Branch American Association of University Women Meeting. 10:45 AM: Business Meeting. 11 AM: Trio Brava. 1 PM: Health Care Reform. --------3 of 18-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Boycott Israel/CTV 12.08 5pm St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 12/8, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 12/9, 10am "Omar Barghouti: The Need to Boycott Israel, Part 2" Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian researcher, commentator, and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Barghouti spoke in an open public discussion at the University of Minnesota. --------4 of 18-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Salon/open talk 12.08 6:30pm This Tuesday, Dec. 8, we will have an Open Discussion. Please bring your thoughts and share with all of us. 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. --------5 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: World human rights 12.08 6:30pm Human Rights Across the World Tuesday, December 8, 6:30 p.m. (Reception); 7:30 p.m. (Panel and Discussion) Waite House Community Center, 2529 13th Avenue South, Minneapolis. On Thursday, President Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize, meanwhile the U.S. is occupying both Afghanistan and Iraq, expanding military bases in Colombia, and funding Israel's occupation of Palestine. Come hear about U.S. foreign policy across the world and discuss how we can build a movement to end U.S. human rights abuses across the globe. The panel will include Iraqi American Sami Rasouli from the Muslim Peacemakers Team (MPT), Gerardo Cajamarca a trade unionist from Colombia and Meredith Aby a member of the Anti-War Committee. A reception with light appetizers before the panel will be held to say goodbye to Sami Rasouli who will be returning to Iraq shortly and to wish him luck with his work. Proceeds from the event will go with Sami to Iraq. Organized by: the Anti-War Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-379-3899. --------6 of 18-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: AlliantACTION vigil 12.09 2am Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie. We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies? directions and lots of info: alliantACTION.org or call 612.701.6963 --------7 of 18-------- From: Institute on the Environment <danie419 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Sust cities 12.09 12noon Upcoming Frontiers in the Environment lectures The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment is breathing new life into the old lecture series. Frontiers in the Environment explores the frontiers of knowledge in climate change, renewable energy, land use, food security and many other environmental hot topics. 12.9 - "Sustainable Cities: Urban Design for Human Health and the Environment" Julian Marshall, Assistant Professor, Environmental Engineering All lectures take place Wednesdays, noon to 1 p.m, in IonE Seminar Room 380, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus. The lectures are free and open to the public; no registration required, and also air live on the Web. See the Frontiers speaker line-up, along with a campus map and the link to the online broadcast. More info: http://environment.umn.edu/news_events/events/frontiers.html --------8 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Paul Street 12.09 7pm/ 12.10 7pm Paul Street: "Does Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?" TWO EVENTS: Wednesday, December 9, 7:00 p.m. Macalester College, Humanities, Room 226, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul. Thursday, December 10, 7:00 p.m. University of Minnesota, West Bank, Blegen Hall, Room 010, 269 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Paul Street is the leading left analyst of Obama and author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics, which journalist John Pilger calls "perhaps the only book that tells the truth about the 44th president of the United States." On December 10th, Barack Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. Yet in what seems to be a contradiction of this award, his administration is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and recently signed one of the largest military budgets in U.S. history. Come hear anti-war activists' views on Obama's foreign policy, and discuss what we can do to achieve real peace. Sponsored by: Socialist Alternative. Endorsed by: the Iraq Peace Action Coalition (IPAC) and Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR). WAMM is a member of IPAC. --------9 of 18------- From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] mppeace.org> Subject: Health care reform 12.09 7pm HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH A Series on Equality In Access to Health Care Economics of Health Care and Solutions: December 9, 2009 Monthly forums will be held at 7pm on Wednesday evenings at Jeanne d'Arc Auditorium, Whitby Hall, Saint Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105 Presented by <http://www.stkate.edu/>St. Catherine University and <http://www.pnhpminnesota.org/>Physicians for a National Health Program, Minnesota. --------10 of 18-------- Liberals Are Useless by Chris Hedges Monday, December 7, 2009 TruthDig.com Common Dreams Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject, cloying letters to Barack Obama - as if he reads them - asking the president to come back to his "true" self. This sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America's liberal class an object of public derision. I am not disappointed in Obama. I don't feel betrayed. I don't wonder when he is going to be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist, which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney. How can an organization with the oxymoronic title Progressives for Obama even exist? Liberal groups like these make political satire obsolete. Obama was and is a brand. He is a product of the Chicago political machine. He has been skillfully packaged as the new face of the corporate state. I don't dislike Obama. I would much rather listen to him than his smug and venal predecessor - though I expected nothing but a continuation of the corporate rape of the country. And that is what he has delivered. "You have a tug of war with one side pulling," Ralph Nader told me when we met Saturday afternoon. "The corporate interests pull on the Democratic Party the way they pull on the Republican Party. If you are a 'least-worst' voter you don't want to disturb John Kerry on the war, so you call off the anti-war demonstrations in 2004. You don't want to disturb Obama because McCain is worse. And every four years both parties get worse. There is no pull. That is the dilemma of The Nation and The Progressive and other similar publications. There is no breaking point. What is the breaking point? The criminal war of aggression in Iraq? The escalation of the war in Afghanistan? Forty-five thousand people dying a year because they can't afford health insurance? The hollowing out of communities and sending the jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas that know how to put the workers in their place? There is no breaking point. And when there is no breaking point you do not have a moral compass". I save my anger for our bankrupt liberal intelligentsia of which, sadly, I guess I am a member. Liberals are the defeated, self-absorbed Mouse Man in Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground". They embrace cynicism, a cloak for their cowardice and impotence. They, like Dostoevsky's depraved character, have come to believe that the "conscious inertia" of the underground surpasses all other forms of existence. They too use inaction and empty moral posturing, not to affect change but to engage in an orgy of self-adulation and self-pity. They too refuse to act or engage with anyone not cowering in the underground. This choice does not satisfy the Mouse Man, as it does not satisfy our liberal class, but neither has the strength to change. The gravest danger we face as a nation is not from the far right, although it may well inherit power, but from a bankrupt liberal class that has lost the will to fight and the moral courage to stand up for what it espouses. [Amen cubed. -ed] Anyone who says he or she cares about the working class in this country should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 with the passage of NAFTA. [That's when I left it - ed] And it has only been downhill since. If welfare reform, the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which gutted the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act - designed to prevent the kind of banking crisis we are now undergoing - and the craven decision by the Democratic Congress to continue to fund and expand our imperial wars were not enough to make you revolt, how about the refusal to restore habeas corpus, end torture in our offshore penal colonies, abolish George W. Bush's secrecy laws or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens? The imperial projects and the corporate state have not altered under Obama. The state kills as ruthlessly and indiscriminately in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under Bush. It steals from the U.S. treasury as rapaciously to enrich the corporate elite. It, too, bows before the conservative Israel lobby, refuses to enact serious environmental or health care reform, regulate Wall Street, end our relationship with private mercenary contractors or stop handing obscene sums of money, some $1 trillion a year, to the military and arms industry. At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back? We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will salvage our self-esteem and integrity. I learned to dislike liberals when I lived in Roxbury, the inner-city in Boston, as a seminary student at Harvard Divinity School. I commuted into Cambridge to hear professors and students talk about empowering people they never met. It was the time of the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Spending two weeks picking coffee in that country and then coming back and talking about it for the rest of the semester was the best way to "credentialize" yourself as a revolutionary. But few of these "revolutionaries" found the time to spend 20 minutes on the Green Line to see where human beings in their own city were being warehoused little better than animals. They liked the poor, but they did not like the smell of the poor. It was a lesson I never forgot. I was also at the time a member of the Greater Boston YMCA boxing team. We fought on Saturday nights for $25 in arenas in working-class neighborhoods like Charlestown. My closest friends were construction workers and pot washers. They worked hard. They believed in unions. They wanted a better life, which few of them ever got. We used to run five miles after our nightly training, passing through the Mission Main and Mission Extension Housing Projects, and they would joke, "I hope we get mugged". They knew precisely what to do with people who abused them. They may not have been liberal, they may not have finished high school, but they were far more grounded than most of those I studied with across the Charles River. They would have felt awkward, and would have been made to feel awkward, at the little gatherings of progressive and liberal intellectuals at Harvard, but you could trust and rely on them. I went on to spend two decades as a war correspondent. The qualities inherent in good soldiers or Marines, like the qualities I found among those boxers, are qualities I admire -self-sacrifice, courage, the ability to make decisions under stress, the capacity to endure physical discomfort, and a fierce loyalty to those around you, even if it puts you in greater danger. If liberals had even a bit of their fortitude we could have avoided this mess. But they don't. So here we are again, begging Obama to be Obama. He is Obama. Obama is not the problem. We are. Copyright 2009 Truthdig, L.L.C. Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. --------11 of 18-------- Artist: Phil Ochs Love Me, I'm a Liberal [song from 1966-70s] I cried when they shot Medgar Evers Tears ran down my spine I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy As though I'd lost a father of mine But Malcolm X got what was coming He got what he asked for this time So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal I go to civil rights rallies And I put down the old D.A.R. I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy I hope every colored boy becomes a star But don't talk about revolution That's going a little bit too far So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal I cheered when Humphrey was chosen My faith in the system restored I'm glad the commies were thrown out of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board I love Puerto Ricans and Negros as long as they don't move next door So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal The people of old Mississippi Should all hang their heads in shame I can't understand how their minds work What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain? But if you ask me to bus my children I hope the cops take down your name So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal I read New Republic and Nation I've learned to take every view You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden I feel like I'm almost a Jew But when it comes to times like Korea There's no one more red, white and blue So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal I vote for the democratic party They want the U.N. to be strong I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts He sure gets me singing those songs I'll send all the money you ask for But don't ask me to come on along So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal Once I was young and impulsive I wore every conceivable pin Even went to the socialist meetings Learned all the old union hymns But I've grown older and wiser And that's why I'm turning you in So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal --------12 of 18-------- Time to Declare War on Democratic Blackmailers Ax Max By MARGOT KIDDER CounterPunch December 7, 2009 The Democratic Party needs an intervention and then it needs to be sent to rehab. The lunacy behind the thinking of many traditional Democrats that any Democrat in Congress is better than no Democrat at all needs to be exposed and treated for the infectious disease that it is. But there is no 12 step program for corrupt politicians, and turning the problem over to God is just not going to cut it this time, no matter what Sarah Palin thinks. The absence of democracy in a congress whose votes are bought, sold, and traded like pork bellies by big corporations in exchange for highly profitable votes and amendments on bills is a bi-partisan infection. And the pus is everywhere. Give me a nut job for an enemy anytime. You can take aim at the obviousness of the problem and roll a strike 99 times out of a hundred. But if your enemy is disguised as a boring but harmless friend, and wears the same logo on his sweatshirt as you do, then landing a punch is like trying to slug mist. There's no connection, no delicious smacking sound, there's no obvious win. The fact that 20 to 25 percent of Americans support policies and politicians that are bat shit crazy is not as much a concern as the fact that 50 to 60 percent of Americans support politicians whose policies are for sale to the highest bidder, and exist independent of any underlying morality or consistent philosophy of government. Arlen Specter calls himself a Democrat for God's sake. And so does Ben Nelson. And Blanche Lincoln. These are not Democrats; they're Republicans in Donkey suits. And somewhat tasteful donkey suits at that. None of them would have strings of tea bags dangling from THEIR cowboy hats, you can bet the ranch on that. They are much more dangerous than Rush Limbaugh could ever hope to be. And oh how they bray, and the bray is as bad as the bite. With each snort and hee-haw the party trembles defensively and gives them whatever they want. To hell with traditional Democratic principles, its all about keeping the guy from leaving you, so what if he's hit you so many times that your face is no longer recognizable? Keep that man. Get more numbers on your side of the aisle than they have on theirs and pay no attention to the actual quality of the people who make up those numbers. If they say they are Democrats, if they will wear our label, they must be on our side. Democrats can't hurt us. Can they? Look at Max Baucus, the most anti-charismatic Montanan in the state. How is it possible to recognize such a surfeit of blandness as dangerous? Talking with Max is like talking with drywall: he nods at whatever you say and he'll smile vacantly at you for hours on end, but you're never quite sure if he's home or if he's just had one motorcycle accident too many. I say this because I believe that those of us he purports to represent have a right to know who the person behind the mask really is. The hideous truth is that this empty suit-person almost single handedly took the reform out of health care reform, has introduced and somehow passed more legislation to abet the cornucopia of crime that is our banking system than anyone else in congress, and has stalled the funding of any, if not all, modern programs that would give financial lifeboats of one kind or another to families in need. He did it by pretending he was a Democrat and by hanging in there long enough to get appointed, almost by default, as chair of the banking committee. And he gets elected in a state with the fourth lowest per capita income in the country by consistently "bringing home the pork". Billings needs a baseball field? That's no problem for Max. Stick it on the nearest bill, regardless of relevance. Missoula wants a biking path? Easy as spitting. But you poor souls who are being screwed by the credit card company that got you so deeply in debt and then raised your interest rates so high that you had to sell your house to make the payments? Tough titty. Max voted against a ceiling on credit card interest rates. You're going bankrupt and about to lose your house because you got laid off and missed two payments, you deadbeat you? Max voted against allowing bankruptcy judges the leeway to lower interest rates or principle on mortgages in a way that would allow families to stay in their homes. Can't afford health insurance at today's exorbitant rates? Max devised a plan whereby if you DON'T buy from one of the existing health insurance companies who trade your health for their profits you will get smacked with a whopping fine by the IRS, and they get to charge you whatever the hell they please. Hey, it's your own fault; you should better manage your money. Have to choose in the winter months between your medication and your heat? Max made sure that no pharmaceutical company will ever be asked to put ceilings on their profit margins, so if you can't afford that one hundred and forty seven dollars for the only antibiotic that will work on your systemic sepsis, well, die baby die, you should have learned the rules of unregulated capitalism. Everyone who is anyone donates huge sums of money to Max. It's like landing on the social pages of Women's Wear Daily. But Max is from Montana so its doubly chic, macho wilderness chic, with just a hint of cowboy. Here in Montana the corruption is as fresh as this morning's manure. No company with their shareholders interests at heart would dare forget mailing in their "Max Baucus for Senate" checks come election time. You're guaranteed a lot of bang for your buck, and if your check is big enough and Max has to choose between the interests of his scruffy and often poor Montana constituents and the freshly facialed, Armani-clad CEO's of Aetna or Goldman Sachs or Anaconda Mining, trust me, he's going to go with the high-end set - they pay a lot of money every summer to learn to light campfires at Camp Baucus at the Big Sky Ski Resort and Max has become addicted to their donations. The mainstream media calls Max Baucus and other Democratic blackmailers "centrists". As compared to what, Chiang Kai-Shek? "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world," said Yeats, but that was in 1919 and he was referencing the Russian revolution. America's centre has been tap dancing to the right since Ronald Reagan was loosed upon the world and it hasn't taken a backwards step yet, so our centre is way out in right field and has no intention of coming back of its own accord. It's up to us, unfortunately. In the big D.C. high school known as congress, "practical" politics is all the rage with the in crowd these days. It's Rahm Emmanuel speak for accepting the system as it is and playing the game better than anyone else. Get all the dough you need from huge corporations - and what's a concession or two or twenty compared to several million dollars of fuck-you money in the campaign chest that will ensure you can four wall the country with television ads in 2012 and thus get Obama a second term? It is essentially a philosophy of "anti-change", no matter what system of logic you apply to it. Rahm must have been out of the room when the campaign was going on last year. But wherever he was, he is demanding an ossification of our dreams. You want "Hope" back? Hope, schmope. The world doesn't work like that. And protesting will just get you are accused of idealism, that nagging little worm that lives in the hearts of nerds everywhere. And idealism is just not cool. It's not practical. You must abandon childish notions of hope for a better world and look the corruption square in the eye and accept it. Work with it. Look at Max. He's arguably the most powerful guy in the Senate. So get with the program and shut up. Call this mess of health insurance backed suggestions "reform" and let's move on. No one will really notice that it's a ferocious defense of the status quo, so who are you to make a fuss? Be a good little Democrat. Say we passed an historical health reform bill. Lie, OK? Lie for the greater good of the party. Sadly, the hard truth is that it's hard not to feel like a little baggie of leftover peas in the face of the seeming omnipotence of these corporations, these dictates from above. Inertia and depression are logical responses to such an enormous monolith of corruption. And fighting for anything remotely resembling a just society, or expressing severe disillusionment with the fact that your own senator has been bought by JP Morgan Chase and Blue Cross/Blue Shield is just not done and is frowned upon. But we can't give in to the easy seduction of lying in bed with the covers over our heads hoping this whole thing will somehow pass of its own accord. Its not going to go willingly, and until we get really, really feisty and turn back to all that anger that Obama managed to tamp down with all his lovely speeches and turn it again into a force to be reckoned with, there is no hope for any kind of future worth having. The Democrats aren't going to save us - we have to save them. We can target every one of these fake Democrats and expose the hypocrisy that is running like a deep aquifer of sludge under their public personas. And we can, if we're smart, soften them up for the blows of the more polished and hopefully "progressive" politicians who will remove them from office. Will the forces who replace them be infinitely better than them? Who knows? They might be worse. But until we flex our muscles and show we mean business, it will be business as usual, and business as usual benefits no one. Until we get all our little homemade slingshots out and relentlessly whack at this destructive Goliath of our own making, nothing is going to ameliorate the ruthless destruction of what is still naively called a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Margot Kidder is an actress and activist living in Livingston, Montana. --------13 of 18-------- The Speed of Change: Bolivian President Morales Empowered by Re-Election Ben Dangl Znet Dec 07, 2009 Bolivian President Evo Morales was re-elected on Sunday, December 6th in a landslide victory. After the polls closed, fireworks, music and celebrations filled the Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz where MAS supporters chanted "Evo Again! Evo Again!" Addressing the crowd from the presidential palace balcony, Morales said, "The people, with their participation, showed once again that it's possible to change Bolivia... We have the responsibility to deepen and accelerate this process of change." Though the official results are not yet known, exit polls show that Morales won roughly 63% of the vote, with his closest rival, former conservative governor Manfred Reyes Villa, winning around 23% of the vote. The Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), Morales' political party, also won over two thirds of the seats in the lower house and the senate, meaning the MAS administration will have an easier time passing laws without right wing opposition. Many of Bolivia's indigenous and impoverished majority identify with Morales, an indigenous man who grew up poor and was a grassroots leader before his election as president in 2005. Many also voted for Morales because of new government programs aimed at empowering the country's marginalized people. "Brother Evo Morales is working for the poorest people, for the people that are fighting for their survival," El Alto street vendor Julio Fernandez told Bloomberg reporter Jonathan Levin on election day. "He's changing things. He's helping the poor and building highways and schools," Veronica Canizaya, a 49-year old housewife, told Reuters before voting near Lake Titicaca. During his first four years in office Morales partially nationalized Bolivia's vast gas reserves, ushered in a new constitution written in a constituent assembly, granted more rights to indigenous people and exerted more state-control over natural resources and the economy. Much of the wealth generated from new state-run industries has been directed to various social and development programs to benefit impoverished sectors of society. For example, Inez Mamani receives a government stipend to help her care for her newborn baby. The funding is thanks to the state-run gas company. Mamani, who also has five other children, spoke with Annie Murphy of National Public Radio about the program. "With my other children, there wasn't a program like this. It was sad the way we raised them. Now they have milk, clothing, diapers, and it's great that the government helps us. Before, natural resources were privately owned and there wasn't this sort of support." In addition to the support for mothers, the government also gives stipends to young students and the elderly; the stipends reached some 2 million people in 2009. "I'm a teacher and I see that the kids go to school with hope, because they get breakfast there and the subsidies ... I ask them how they spend the hand-outs and some of them say they buy shoes. Some didn't have shoes before," Irene Paz told Reuters after voting in El Alto. Thanks to such far-reaching government programs and socialistic policies, Bolivia's economic growth has been higher during the four years under Morales than at any other period during the last three decades, according to the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research. "None of this would have been possible without the government's regaining control of the country's natural resources," said CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot. "Bolivia's fiscal stimulus over the past year was vastly larger than ours in the United States, relative to their economy." During Morales' new term in office, with over two thirds control in both houses of congress, the MAS government should be able to further apply the changes established in the new constitution, a document passed in a national vote this past January. The MAS base is eager for land reform, broader access to public services, development projects and more say in how their government is run. The mandate and demands for massive changes are now greater than ever. As Bolivian political analyst Franklin Pareja told IPS News, "In the past four years, the change was an illusion, and now it should be real." Benjamin Dangl is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia (AK Press) and the forthcoming book Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press). He is the editor of TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events and UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America. Email: Bendangl(at)gmail.com --------14 of 18-------- With Victory, Morales and Social Movements Confront New Challenges in Bolivia By Tanya Kerssen http://globalalternatives.org/node/110 Bolivian president Evo Morales and his political party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), won a resounding victory in the presidential elections this past Sunday, December 6. The nearest challengers, Manfred Reyes Villa and his running mate Leopoldo Fernandez - whose current address is a La Paz prison, where he stands accused of ordering the murder of pro-government peasants - represent an old political and economic order that has used sedition and violence in an effort to obstruct and destabilize the Morales government. The old order and the new are locked in a struggle for the future of Bolivia. "The social movements are critical for presidents to be able to create a new alternative," declared Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca in the tropical city of Cochabamba in October at a summit of leftist Latin American presidents, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Ecuador's Rafael Correa. At the parallel Social Movements Summit comprised of 700 delegates from 40 countries, Isaac Avalos, leader of the Bolivian Peasants Federation promised to help "bury the opposition" in the election. The dialogue between these parallel summits is emblematic of the close association between social movements and the new left governments of Latin America. In Bolivia, a broad-based coalition of movements - with peasants, workers and indigenous groups at the forefront - was instrumental in defining Morales' platform even before he was first elected to the presidency in 2005. With the support of the social movements, the administration succeeded in meeting three key goals in its first term: government control over the nation's oil and gas resources, the creation of a new constitution to re-found the Bolivian state, and the advance of agrarian reform. The right-wing opposition, rooted in its control of large landed estates and petro-carbon resources in the eastern lowlands, constitutes the main challenge to transforming property relations and creating a more equitable, democratic society in Bolivia. The deepening of "21st Century Socialism" during Morales' next five years in office will depend on the sustained strength of the social movements, the government's continued responsiveness to their evolving agenda, and the ability of both to overcome the opposition of the entrenched elites while maintaining democratic legitimacy. A report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that despite the global recession and destabilizing threats from the right, the government was able to minimize the impact of the economic crisis and increase foreign exchange reserves. Morales has also expanded social services for the poorest Bolivians through the creation of health and literacy programs and financial support for the elderly, school-aged children and pregnant women. These achievements were made possible by the government takeover of the oil and natural gas industries, which increased government revenue by an impressive 20% of GDP since 2004. The deepening of government involvement in the economy - one of Morales' key campaign planks - is a remarkable achievement, and one that was unthinkable just a few years ago. It was, of course, built on the blood and sweat of the social movements, which called for an end to the privatization of public corporations, land and natural resources; the restoration of social protections and government regulation of private capital; and the reassertion of state sovereignty vis-a-vis the United States and the dominant international financial institutions. In a long turbulent process, the administration succeeded in creating a new constitution - approved in a popular referendum in February 2009 - that seeks to re-found the nation to be more reflective of, and accountable to the country's indigenous majority. The constitution provides indigenous peoples with greater territorial autonomy and recognizes Bolivia's 36 indigenous languages as "official." The new charter also grants the state greater control over natural resources, establishes access to water as a human right and requires the government to protect biodiversity. In a country with one of the most unequal land tenure systems in Latin America, deepening the land reform program is a central challenge facing this administration. Since large landholdings are the basis for elite power, land reform is an overtly, sometimes violently, contested issue. Under the changes introduced to the land reform law in 2006 and approved by congress, land must fulfill a "social and economic function" - regardless of property tax payment - in order to avoid expropriation and re-distribution to poor peasant families. The land reform process, which according to government figures has titled 26 million hectares and distributed 958,454 hectares since 2006, was further bolstered by a measure approved by voters in 2009 limiting private landholdings to 5,000 hectares (about 12,400 acres) rather than the 10,000 hectares demanded by the landed elite. As a result of pressure from conservative landowners in the process of drafting the new constitution, however, these reforms will not be retroactive to include currently owned properties. This compromise greatly defuses the radical potential of the legislation. In another capitulation to the right, language that prohibited the use and production of genetically modified organisms was removed in the final text, a large blow to the peasant movements and environmental NGOs that fought for its inclusion. The more radical leaders of the social movements are advocating new decrees and legislation to overcome these limitations and deepen the agrarian reform. Changes in the international context are promising for the Morales government's ability to implement its agenda. The rise of South-South cooperation provides opportunities for greater independence from and negotiating power with the North, especially the United States. ALBA - the Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Alternative for the People - is an important iteration of this phenomenon. Relations with the United States remain estranged ever since the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador in September 2008 for meddling in Bolivian affairs. Though Bolivia has long been dependent on U.S. foreign aid, ALBA's support - and particularly support coming directly from Venezuela - has allowed it to escape Washington's political and economic stranglehold. Venezuela also helped Bolivia cushion the blow of its suspension from the U.S. Andean Trade Preference agreement, a suspension initiated by President Bush in 2008 and extended by President Obama last June. Negotiations for the normalization of relations took place at the State Department in Washington last month, but with no final resolution. Morales has expressed his disappointment with the policies of the Obama administration, particularly its decision to establish seven military bases in nearby Colombia. He declared that Latin America is no longer "in the time of kings" and that "we cannot be in the time of American military bases." One of the poorest countries in Latin America, Bolivia under Evo Morales is in a strong position to transform its economy and to break the historic hegemony of the United States. The strength and character of this transformation will largely hinge on continued dialogue between the government and the social movements that have been at the vanguard of progressive change. Tanya Kerssen is a Masters candidate in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and a contributor to the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA). This article was first published on the website of the of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), www.nacla.org. --------15 of 18-------- Heroism Under Tyranny - Apathy Under Freedom by Alex Doherty December 6th, 2009 Dissident Voice The following remarks are excerpted from a series of leaflets produced by a Christian based anti-war group at Manchester University: "Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be 'governed' without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct". "If the British people are already so corrupted and spiritually crushed that they do not raise a hand, frivolously trusting in a questionable faith in lawful order of history; if they surrender man's highest principle, that which raises him above all other God's creatures, his free will; if they abandon the will to take decisive action and turn the wheel of history and thus subject it to their own rational decision; if they are so devoid of all individuality, have already gone so far along the road toward turning into a spiritless and cowardly mass - then, yes, they deserve their downfall". "Tennyson speaks of the British as a tragic people, like the Jews and the Greeks, but today it would appear rather that they are a spineless, will-less herd of hangers-on". "Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure!" I wonder how these words strike the reader. Perhaps they seem harsh, condemnatory and surely likely to alienate the average reader. I have a little experience of writing campaign leaflets and I don't believe I was ever the co-author of anything with such a stern tone, nor have I have ever read anything of a similar character produced by any anti-war group in the country. Perhaps the reader might find themselves preparing rebuttals to such blanket accusation - given the impact of the mass media in dulling critical faculties and insinuating lies the public cannot be considered wholly to blame for its apathy and so on. However, there's a simple reason for the unusual tone of these excerpts: they weren't produced in Manchester at all. Rather, these words are from the work of the White Rose: the German anti-Nazi student group that operated during World War II at the University of Munich. I have simply swapped Britain for Germany and had Tennyson stand in for Goethe. The most famous members of the group were Hans and Sophie Scholl who, along with another activist - Christoph Probst, were tried for treason and executed by a Nazi "people's court" in 1943. If the tone seems harsh when the intended audience is believed to be British, it seems vastly more so when we consider that the audience were people living under the rule of the most vicious and cruel dictatorship the world has ever seen, a regime that reacted to dissent with the most extreme brutality - decapitation in the case of the White Rose group, hanging from meat hooks in the case of the anti-Nazi generals, and the slaughter of most of the population of the Czech town of Lidice in the case of Reinhard Heydrich's assassins. The White Rose group could hardly have been unaware of the cruelty of the regime they opposed and yet the group did not shy from exhorting, in fact demanding that their fellow citizens take action to against the Nazi state. They took it to be a sacred duty of all people to oppose violence and authoritarianism regardless of the personal cost: "Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your right - your moral duty - to eliminate this system?" I would suggest that the reason the text of the leaflets appears so alien is that the heroism of groups such as the White Rose is largely alien to contemporary Britain. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates that since World War II, the UK has borne significant responsibility for the deaths of at least ten million people around the world. Those include the victims of direct aggression: the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the murderous sanctions imposed upon pre-invasion Iraq that have been all but airbrushed from history; the arming and supporting of authoritarian regimes the world over, from Pinochet's Chile, Suharto's Indonesia (the author of perhaps the worst case of genocide by proportion of population since 1945 in East Timor) and Putin's Russia, to the colonial settler society of Israel amongst many others. Not included in these figures are the casualties resulting from the West's economic relations with the third world, which have inflicted deliberate underdevelopment in order that those countries might remain little more than resource extraction zones for Western corporations and dumping grounds for Western products and waste. We could also add to the list the victims of the economic "shock therapy" imposed upon the former Soviet bloc that led to precipitous declines in life expectancy and other health indicators across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Today Britain is embroiled in two wars, it is the seventh largest arms dealer in the world and it is a supporter of some of the worst human rights abusers in the world, including Colombia, the most violent and oppressive regime in the western hemisphere, Nigeria, Uzbekistan (where the favoured form of torturing dissidents is immersion in boiling water), the Saudi theocracy and Israel amongst others. While Britain can hardly compare to the monstrous depredations of the Third Reich, many of its practices abroad, as well as those of its allies, are not wildly dissimilar. (Muzafar Avazov was probably little comforted as he was tortured to death by our Uzbek allies by the fact that his captors were not members of the Gestapo or the SS. And it is unlikely to be much of a consolation for an Afghan family to be bombed by the RAF rather than the Luftwaffe). Unlike Germans living under the Nazis, punishment for dissent in the UK is slight, especially for relatively affluent, educated people such as myself. In dissenting what do people like myself risk? Career prospects maybe, the disapproval of others perhaps, at worst getting tear gassed and beaten at a demonstration - but unlike the White Rose and present-day activists in countries such as Colombia, China or Saudi Arabia, people like me generally do not risk their necks through their political activities. One might imagine that given the freedom of our society and how much blood is on the hands of our leaders, Britain would be a country in a constant tumult of radical political activity, and yet that is transparently not the case. Principled radical dissent remains a marginal presence in our culture. One could of course provide reasons and excuses for that lack and there is some force to those reasons: our educational system and the mass media, it is true, breed little more than cynicism and deceit. However, that cannot offer an explanation for the political apathy of our society. There are simply too many people who know all too well about the crimes they are complicit in but who do nothing or close to nothing to retard and stop those crimes. If I think of my friends and family in the UK, they are all, almost without exception, left-wing and progressive, opposed to war, opposed to injustice. And yet I can count on one hand the number of people I know who are actively doing something more than bemoaning the state of the world. A similar situation pertains with my American friends. Almost without exception they are politically progressive and yet they also do little to act upon those convictions. The one political "activity" my American friends do engage in is bashing the Republican party and its Christian fundamentalist allies. My friends seem to genuinely believe that it is the political right that is the problem: if only the Republicans and Christian extremists would vanish, all would be right with America and the world. But I would like to respectfully suggest to my friends that it is they who are the problem. They are the problem and people like them are the problem - good, progressive, relatively privileged and educated individuals who aside from voting for the liberal hero of the hour every four years consider themselves to have no moral duty to take political action. I don't say this with much sense of moral superiority - I consider myself to be part of the problem too. Having immersed myself in radical politics I have perhaps fewer illusions about my country than many others and yet my political activity has often been half-hearted and infrequent - for the past two years I have done virtually nothing aside from produce a few articles - instead, like so many I have prioritised hedonistic consumption and my own private psychodramas over more worthwhile concerns. Even in the most twisted and evil of ideologies there can sometimes be found little kernels of truth that are worth contemplating. Take Muslim fundamentalism for instance. There are many factors in the rise of militant Islam but I would aver that one of the reasons for its appeal is that fundamentalists have sensed something true about us - they have recognised that for all our beautiful words, for all our talk of human rights and democracy, and despite whatever faith we may profess, our real guiding philosophy is a kind of chronic hedonism. Instead of reaching for the heroism of the Scholl siblings we routinely put our careers or our dreams of consumption or our personal travails above the lives of others. Here are some more harsh words from the White Rose group: Why do German people behave so apathetically in the face of all these abominable crimes, crimes so unworthy of the human race? "The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals; they give them the opportunity to carry on their depredations; and of course they do so. Is this a sign that the Germans are brutalized in their simplest human feelings, that no chord within them cries out at the sight of such deeds, that they have sunk into a fatal consciencelessness from which they will never, never awake? It seems to be so, and will certainly be so, if the German does not at last start up out of his stupor, if he does not protest wherever and whenever he can against this clique of criminals, if he shows no sympathy for these hundreds of thousands of victims. He must evidence not only sympathy; no, much more: a sense of complicity in guilt. For through his apathetic behaviour he gives these evil men the opportunity to act as they do; he tolerates this "government" which has taken upon itself such an infinitely great burden of guilt; indeed, he himself is to blame for the fact that it came about at all! Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty! What on earth would the White Rose have said about us? Alex Doherty has written for ZNet, Counterpunch, and the New Standard. He can be reached at: alexjamesdoherty [at] gmail.com. --------16 of 18-------- Catatonia David Shove Little Jimmy loves to kick the cat. With a good running start, he can whack it half-way across the room. The cat, Alfred, now suffers from PTSD. Mom and Dad warn Jimmy, Next time you kick that poor old cat you're going to have to stand in the corner for a whole hour! Hear? Yes Mom he says. A bit later a shaky Alfred ventures out from under the couch. Jimmy waits until he limps into the middle of the room, runs, kicks, whammo, screeee! clump! Well now Jimmy you know you're not supposed to do that. Yes Mommy. But they don't make him stand in the corner. So he kicks the cat again. Whenever he feels like it. Mom and Dad confer - He won't do it again. But he does, over and over, just daring them. Ha, Jimmy tells his little friends, Bill and Carl, I'm the boss of them. Jimmy brings them in the house. Watch this he says. Whammo, scree, clump! The cat hits the wall. Wow, you're really gonna get it! say Bill and Carl. No way! says Jimmy. And nothing happens. Boy, what a bunch of wimps your folks are! says Bill. Ditto, laughs Carl. Double ditto, says Jimmy. They'll never change. How do you know that? asks Bill. They're Democrats, says Jimmy. --------17 of 18-------- Awareness-challenged. That's why we don't smell the rot of the ruling class. --------18 of 18-------- ------------------------- Wake up and smell the rot ------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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