|Progressive Calendar 12.28.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 28 Dec 2009 09:51:43 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.28.09 1. Peace walk 12.28 6pm RiverFalls WI 2. Candles/kids/war 12.28 6:30pm 3. Planet in peril 12.28 7pm 4. Buddhism 101 12.28 time? 5. Party/salon 12.29 6:30pm 6. Landmines/party 12.29 6:30pm 7. Amy Goodman/CTV 12.29 9pm 8. Ralph Nader - Obama: a weak character in the shark tank 9. Randall Amster - Et tu, Barack? Mr president, we hardly knew you 10. Mike Whitney - Cindy Sheehan on Obama, progressives & the press 11. Chris Hedges - One day we'll all be terrorists 12. Mumia Abu-Jamal - Wealth care 13. Ronnie Cummins - Darkest hours, grassroots rising [excerpt] 14. ed - Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/12.28.09 15. ed - Of, by, and for (haiku) --------1 of 15-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 12.28 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------2 of 15-------- From: braun044 <braun044 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Candles/kids/war 12.28 6:30pm CANDLELIGHT SERVICE FOR THE CHILDREN OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN AND OTHER CHILD VICTIMS OF WAR Monday, December 28 6:30 pm St. Joan of Arc Church 4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis Your children and grandchildren are also invited to come and participate in the Procession of the Children Dear Peacemakers, On Monday, December 28, 2009, at 6:30 pm, the Twin Cities Peace Campaign is organizing the twelfth annual Candlelight Service for the Children of Iraq and Afghanistan and Other Child Victims of War. It will be held at St. Joan of Arc Church at 4537 Third Avenue South in Minneapolis. This is an invitation to join with others to remember the children who have died as a result of war and to call for an end to the destruction and chaos that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the bombing of Pakistan, are leaving in their wake. Each day we are hearing new reports of soldiers and civilians being killed, terrorist attacks, drone attacks, people fleeing their homes, increasing numbers of widows and orphans, cancer, high infant mortality, and the lack of adequate health care, food, and clean water in these countries. This candlelight service is an opportunity to stop, for a time, to remind ourselves of the plight of the children and others in these war-torn countries and to join together to say, "War is not the answer." It is also a call to action; we hope that people will leave the Candlelight Service inspired to do more to end the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the bombing of Pakistan. In his recent speeches, President Obama has disappointed many people by defending the military exploits of the U.S. in the past and supporting the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. It was particularly difficult to listen to him extol the virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi and then go on to dismiss nonviolence and endorse the "just war theory" as the way to peace. It was reminiscent of Rome during the time of Jesus when Tacitus, after following Rome's legionnaires as they laid waste to that empire's far-flung cities, wrote "The Romans brought devastation and they called it peace." While many had great hope that President Obama would change the war narrative to one of peace, the President has, in reality, gone beyond the Bush administration in Afghanistan by increasing troop levels and ordering air strikes that continue to kill innocent people. And, immediately after taking office, he sent unmanned drones across the border into Pakistan, causing hundreds of casualties and terrorizing the people. Howard Zinn, noted historian, reminds us that we should not be surprised by President Obama's decision. "He stands at the apex of a pyramid of power that has layer after layer of corporatists and militarists," and not only has he not tried to dismantle it, he has been responsible for maintaining the pyramid of power." So we are reminded once again that we cannot look to those in high political office to change the power structure. We are the ones who will have to challenge this pyramid of power if our nation is ever to live in peace with other peoples of the world. We hope you will join us at the candlelight service. Peace in the struggle, Marie Braun 612-522-1861 for Twin Cities Peace Campaign --------3 of 15------- From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com> Subject: Planet in peril 12.28 7pm A FREE SCREENING OF: PLANET IN PERIL--THE STORY THE WORLD CAN'T AFFORD TO IGNORE A CNN Worldiwde Investigation with News Anchor Anderson Cooper, Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin. The documentary deals with resource depletion, ecosystem degradation, species extinction and threats to human health. Solutions will be discussed after the film showing. MONDAY, DECEMBER 28, 7:00 PM MAYDAY BOOKS 301 CEDAR AVENUE SOUTH WEST BANK, MINNEAPOLIS SPONSORED BY THE CLIMATE CRISIS COALITION OF THE TWIN CITIES (3CTC) --------4 of 15-------- From: TIBETAN AMERICAN FOUNDATION OF MN <office [at] tafm.org> Subject: Buddhism 101 12.28 time? SEMINAR ON BUDDHISM FOR BEGINNERS December 28th , 29th , and 30th. Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota 1096 Raymond Ave St. Paul, MN 55108 TAFM Office Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota 1096 Raymond Ave. St. Paul, MN 55108 [Interested? Better check:] Ph: (651) 917-9556 Fax: (651) 917-9565 Website: www.tafm.org --------5 of 15-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Party/salon 12.29 6:30pm HI, This Tuesday we will have a holiday party for the salon. If you want to bring something to eat/drink, that would be nice. We may have some great live music, too, with Chad Guerrero and his friends playing. If you want to bring your own musical instrument, please do. 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. --------6 of 15-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Landmines/party 12.29 6:30pm International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions Annual Meeting and Birthday Party for Jack Tuesday December 29, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Walker Community United Methodist Church, Basement, 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Ban those landmines and cluster munitions! Come and celebrate with a number of Nobel Peace Prize winning Laureates and Jack arriving at three score of years. Bring friends, family and anyone else that you can convince this is a good time. Entertainers welcome. As always, there will be a potluck dinner so bring something - even if it is only yourself. There is some positive news this year as well as an active campaign to get Al Franken on board. Jack Rossbach, Coordinator of the Minnesota Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions calls the annual meeting to order while celebrating his birthday - much to the dismay of his children. Sponsored by: the Minnesota Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call Jack, 651-488-0524 or email jack2ros [at] yahoo.com. [Peace blowout! Crash the bash! -ed] --------7 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Amy Goodman/CTV 2.29 9pm 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. Tuesday, 12/29, 9pm and Wed, 12/30, 8am "Amy Goodman: Breaking the Sound Barrier: Part 2 " Talk by Amy recently given at the University of Minnesota. Amy, as well as Denis Moynihan, had recently been stopped and interrogated by armed border guards while crossing into Canada. Amy speaks personally about her parents and experiences in her youth as well as the national debate on health care reform. (11/29/09) --------8 of 15-------- A Weak Character Obama in the Shark Tank By RALPH NADER December 22, 2009 CounterPunch The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus (535-475 BC) said that "character is destiny." He might have added that "personality is decisive." Where is Barack Obama in this framework? The venerable historian, James MacGregor Burns, in his book "Transforming Leadership," drew an important distinction between "transforming and transactional leadership," and calling Franklin Delano Roosevelt a reflection of the former genre. Given all the burgeoning crises in the United States and the world, the only global military and economic superpower (albeit in serious deficit straits) needs a transforming leader, when, at best, it has a transactional leader in the White House. I say "at best," because President Obama displays an uncanny inability to deal. He is not even anywhere near Lyndon Baines Johnson in that regard. This lack is due more to his personality than to his character. His is a concessionary demeanor, an aversion to conflict and to taking on entrenched power, a devotee of harmony ideology not because he doesn't believe in necessary re-directions, but because he does not project the strength of his beliefs and willingness to draw the line - here and no further - as did Ronald Reagan or FDR. In the shark tank known as the federal Washington, D.C. Obama's personality projects weakness as someone who does not take a stand and fight, as someone inclined to rely on his rhetoric to explain his withdrawals, retreats and reversals. Some examples follow. First, the President has been openly for single payer health insurance (full Medicare for all with free choice of physician and hospital) since before he became a politician. His friends included single payer leaders such as the stalwart Dr. Quentin Young in Chicago. So, instead of starting with "single payer," he descends to vague policy declarations, asks Congress to come up with a specific bill, while cutting private deals in meetings in the White House with drug industry and health insurance executives. Now months later, with Blue Dog Democrats emboldened, with his progressive wing angry and starting to rebel, a hoked up insurance bill is having many provisions eviscerated. Once the Republicans smelled his lack of resolve, his wavering on one amendment after another, they became ravenous in their demands and obstructions. Second, Barack Obama, before he came to Washington, was also a supporter of Palestinian rights. Between election and inauguration, he proceeded to categorically back the illegal blockade and invasion of Gaza by Israel and did not object to the slaughter of 1400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, young and old. Apparently, the impoverished, pummeled people of a half-destroyed Gaza, whose many newly elected members of the Palestinian parliament were kidnapped and jailed by the Israelis two years earlier, had no right to feebly defend themselves against constant border raids and missiles by the fifth most powerful army in the world. Third, Mr. Obama's tough talk about a reckless and greedy Wall Street is not paralleled with tough regulatory proposals. He allowed, without working his will, the banks and Banking Committee Chairman, Barney Frank to produce a weakened regulatory bill that passed the House of Representatives. For example, regulatory provisions on the rating agencies (such as Standard and Poor's and Moody's) and derivatives were mere taps on the wrists, ridiculed by former Chairs of the Securities and Exchange Commission from both parties. Fourth, on labor and NAFTA, his campaign speeches were about the need for reform. He has started nothing there and says nothing about this promise to revisit the U.S. participation in NAFTA. He believes in the card check version of labor law reform but has not used his political capital to advance this modest reform at all. Fifth, on climate change, where so much of the world looks for him to be a transforming leader, Mr. Obama has bought into the cap and trade morass instead of a simpler, more enforceable carbon tax. His words on this subject are often well-spoken but his rhetoric is undermined by his inaction. His opponents in Congress and the corporate sector are strengthened as a consequence. Mr. Obama leaves Copenhagen without a deal after outlining three steps - mitigation of greenhouse gases, openness of each country's progress or lack thereof, and a very modest financial commitment from the world's biggest polluter to help the more beleaguered countries with climate change (poor countries that are recipients of the Western countries emissions.) He hardly set an example for a government whose ownership and control of GM and Chrysler could transform automotive technology. He cannot transform his hope and change slogan into meaningful policies if he signals that he can be had on one issue after another by being desperate to get any legislation so long as he can give it the right public relations label. Most importantly, The President cannot be a transforming leader if he turns his back on the liberal and progressive constituency that elected him because he thinks they have nowhere to go. He must give visibility to their expectations of him, including access to many cabinet secretaries and regulatory agency heads who have been reluctant even to meet with civic leaders, unlike the open doors regularly available to the corporatists and their lobbyists. "Personality," "character," pretty soon they become indistinguishable and very resistant to both "hope and change." Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel. --------9 of 15-------- Mr. President, We Hardly Knew You Et Tu, Barack? By RANDALL AMSTER December 23, 2009 CounterPunch Less than a year into the Administration that was to save us from the perfidy of the past, it's clear that business-as-usual still holds sway. Trillions for war, nothing for the poor. Trillions for banks, but the people - no thanks. Trillions more in debt, and we ain't seen the end yet. Trillions for corporate cronies, but who will show us the monies? (Sorry!) I suppose at this point we may well have to give up on the notion that there will ever again be anyone in American political life worthy of holding out hope for. The character qualities and integrity of a bygone day - whether real or imagined - are implausible and impracticable in the hypermodern age. We see too much of our public figures, and yet too little at the same time. Image is everything, and the slogan has become the product. Jaded as we are, some still expected more (or at least different) from our young President. Perhaps it was a form of self-delusion born of longing for someone, anyone, to make sense in these times. We are, after all, a messianic people at the end of the day. We have lost our way, so we seek "the one" descending from on high with stone tablets and a plan. This has nothing to do with partisan politics or the relative merits of individual candidates and officeholders. It is a cultural phenomenon, this longing for someone on whom to pin our hopes. It is likewise systemic in nature that any such potential person will be coopted, coerced, corrupted, or crucified - in that order of pressure and outcome, most likely. So why are we surprised to find ourselves at this juncture again? Is it because we arrived there so soon with this new icon? Many people seemed to think it would somehow be different this time, that history was yielding and a new day was dawning. Even the electorally-indifferent couldn't help being taken in by the soaring oratory and stark contrasts embodied in the man who would be president. But reality has quickly set in. Obama is a brand, and - even with the shine coming off a bit - is still a strong one. "Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand," said Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide, back in March 2008. "New, different, and attractive. That's as good as it gets". Indeed, Ad Age and the Association of National Advertisers selected Barack Obama as "Marketer of the Year" for 2008, even before he was elected President. In the end, which victory really matters more? Is there in fact a difference? An incisive summation of the brand's genesis from Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi appeared way back in February 2007, and still speaks very much to the tenor of these times: "The Illinois Senator is the ultimate modern media creature [and] his entire political persona is an ingeniously crafted human cipher, a man without race, ideology, geographic allegiances, or, indeed, sharp edges of any kind. You can't run against him on the issues because you can't even find him on the ideological spectrum. Obama's "Man for all seasons" act is so perfect in its particulars that just about anyone can find a bit of himself somewhere in the candidate's background, whether in his genes or his upbringing.... [H]is strategy seems to be to appear as a sort of ideological Universalist, one who spends a great deal of rhetorical energy showing that he recognizes the validity of all points of view, and conversely emphasizes that when he does take hard positions on issues, he often does so reluctantly..." In another feat of foreshadowing, Paul Street penned these prescient words in November 2008, on the heels of Brand Obama's ascent to the highest office in the land: "The Obama-based 'rebranding of America' in the wake of the long proto-fascistic, arch-plutocratic, and messianic-militarist Cheney-Bush nightmare comes with heightened popular product expectations at home and abroad. The risks and likelihood of disappointment and betrayal are high. Many American and other world citizens can be counted on to take 'Brand Obama' and the refurbished 'Brand USA' and give them meanings that do not accord very well with the U.S. power elite's agenda. Rising and betrayed expectations are the stuff of actual social revolutions (something rather different than marketing revolutions), as the left historian Barrington Moore once argued. For these and other reasons, Obama will be relying heavily on his marketing and public relations experts to keep the bewildered citizenry's hopes and dreams properly constrained and downsized. Popular thought coordination through mass marketing will be important to the governance period as well as the election phase of the Obama ascendancy. As Obama's early and excessively candid foreign policy advisor and Harvard ally Samantha Power told the power-worshipping public affairs talk-show host Charlie Rose last February, "Expectation calibration and expectation management is essential at home and internationally.." Can we thus claim not to have known? All the hand-wringing over Afghanistan, Wall Street, Health Care, the Peace Prize, Climate Change - was there some reason aside from misplaced romanticism to believe that it was going to be different in a post-Bush world? Obama played the role pitch perfectly by letting others embrace a partisan-tinged foolish consistency on the issues, and instead subtly ingratiated himself to us as someone who cared about things, a decent guy, solid - in short, he began to seem almost like a friend. To update the seminal phrase from history: Et tu, Barack? "Perhaps the most famous three words uttered in literature - this expression has come down in history to mean the ultimate betrayal by one's closest friend". Strong words, yes - but as Ralph Nader recently opined on CounterPunch, the same sleight-of-hand manner and faint-of-heart rhetoric continues to this day: "His is a concessionary demeanor, an aversion to conflict and to taking on entrenched power, a devotee of harmony ideology not because he doesn't believe in necessary re-directions, but because he does not project the strength of his beliefs and willingness to draw the line.. The President cannot be a transforming leader if he turns his back on the liberal and progressive constituency that elected him because he thinks they have nowhere to go." Progressives need to show that there is somewhere else to go, first by realizing that there are no saviors - just real people working together. In this cult of personality masking as politics, we must acknowledge that the fault lies not in our superstars, but in ourselves. Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., teaches Peace Studies at Prescott College and serves as the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009). --------10 of 15-------- An Interview with Cindy Sheehan Obama, Progressives and the Press By MIKE WHITNEY December 24, 2009 CounterPunch Mike Whitney: President Barack Obama recently visited Dover Air Force Base where he was photographed with the flag-draped coffins of soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why did Obama do this and what was your reaction? Cindy Sheehan: "I think Obama did this as a publicity stunt and used the dead troops (that he was responsible for killing) as props to show that he "cares" about the troops. This stunt was in the middle of the "discussions" about how many more troops to send to Afghanistan. (After he has already sent about 35,000.) It made me sick. MW: On Thursday, on orders from President Obama, the US military launched cruise missile attacks on Yemen which were followed by raids by the Yemeni Security forces. An estimated 120 people were killed. Obama's actions indicate that he accepts the Bush Doctrine, that he thinks the US has the right to assassinate people without due process on the mere suspicion they may be linked to a terrorist organization. Is Obama right? Does the US need to be more aggressive in the "post 9-11" world? Cindy Sheehan: And Obama reiterated this doctrine during his Nobel acceptance speech - which some are calling the "Obama Doctrine" now. No, I do not agree with these extra-legal executions. I do not agree that the CIA can be jury, judge and executioner in Pakistan and indiscriminately kill people with their drones. I adamantly disagree with the doctrine of "pre-emptive" strikes or invasions and I don't agree that they keep Americans "safer" and, even if they did, innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire and we are creating enemies that we will never be able to kill. MW: Hugo Chavez has been demonized in the US media as anti-American and a dictator. You've met Chavez and seen first-hand what's going on in Venezuela. What's your take? Is Chavez a dictator or does he believe in democracy? Have his policies been helpful or harmful to the poor and illiterate? Cindy Sheehan: Well, statistically, illiteracy and poverty rates have improved since Chavez has been president of Venezuela - although, it is still a very poor country. I think we should always take governments and politicians with a grain of salt, or with high suspicion. But for a politician, I do think that Chavez cares about the people of Venezuela and democracy movements in South America. His actions have proven that and he has been pretty courageous in trying to spread populism and socialism. He has supported other leaders, like Morales of Bolivia, who have been attacked and marginalized by the ruling class. Is Chavez a dictator? He's as much a dictator as Obama is. Chavez has put constitutional reforms before the public and has survived a CIA coup and recall attempts. I am sure there is always hanky-panky in any election, but Jimmy Carter has certified the elections. MW: Here's a poem by an Iraqi blogger named Layla Anwar, which pretty well sums up the anger and anguish felt by many Iraqis: Come and see our overflowing morgues and find our little ones for us. You may find them in this corner or the other, a little hand poking out, pointing out at you. Come and search for them in the rubble of your "surgical" air raids, you may find a little leg or a little head - pleading for your attention. Come and see them amassed in the garbage dumps, scavenging morsels of food. Come and see, come.. ("Flying Kites" Layla Anwar) How important to you is it that the people who are responsible for the destruction of Iraq and the slaughtering of over 1 million Iraqis be brought to justice? Cindy Sheehan: In my opinion, accountability for war crimes committed on the people of Iraq/Afghanistan and, now Pakistan, is imperative. The US has been committing war crimes for at least the last 100 years (off the continent) and none of our leaders have ever been held accountable and that's one of the reasons that the empire is able to keep rolling. I also believe that the way to the rest of the world's heart is for American leaders to be held accountable. MW: The senate just passed the $636 billion Pentagon budget on Friday which extends the controversial US Patriot Act. Obama is expected to sign the bill sometime this week. Why is America trying to trying to "liberate" Iraq and Afghanistan, when it is spying on its people at home? Cindy Sheehan: First of all, "liberation" was not a goal of the invasions. We, the gullible, were told that we were going into Afghanistan to get Osama and Iraq because Saddam had WMD and a connection to al Qaeda. When those rationales were proven false, we were then told that it was to liberate the people. Now in Afghanistan, we are told we are "protecting the women." The phony war on terror has been used to steal our liberties in a full-frontal assault since 9-11 and Obama voted to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT ACT when he was a Senator, and voted for the FISA modernization act, which gave broad authority to the government to spy on our electronic communications and gave telecom companies immunity. I not only see this as passive stealing of our liberties, but the United Police States of America is increasing in physical oppression, also. I'll be interested to see how the Police State will handle my new action: Peace of the Action. MW: You know a lot of people across the country. What's the mood among Obama supporters? Have they thrown in the towel already or do they still think he'll turn out to be the leader they hoped he would be? Cindy Sheehan: I lost a lot of friends when B.O. became president and it was a lonely 6 months after he was elected. I wrote a new book called Myth America (short title) and I started to travel around the country in April doing book events. For the first time since my activism started, people walked out on my presentations because I was telling them that it was the system - not the person who infests the White House. However, by the end of my book tour in August, the crowds were growing and more enthusiastic and less gaga-eyed over Obama. Then I started touring again in September and the discontent is growing. I am happy about that. The ones that upset me the most are the so-called leaders of the "progressive" movement like Tom Hayden, CODEPINK and Michael Moore who very enthusiastically endorsed, worked for, voted for, and raised money for Obama, and NOW are beginning to speak out against his carnage, when in fact, Obama has always been very pro-war. Once the horse is out of the barn, it's hard to get him back in. The movement should never have given him a "chance." Things are so much worse in foreign policy almost a year into his regime. MW: The media has had a tough time dealing with Cindy Sheehan. On the one hand, they've done everything in their power to glorify the wars and the men and women who serve in uniform. On the other hand, they've gone to great lengths to discredit the mother of a soldier who died fighting in America's wars. Why is the media so afraid of Cindy Sheehan? Cindy Sheehan: Because I tell inconvenient truths. War is not pretty, ever, but unnecessary wars and needless carnage are even worse. Also, I realized very early on that the problem didn't rest with a particular political party, but it's a systemic problem and the corporate media is part of it. MW: Here is a quote from Obama's Nobel acceptance speech in Oslo: "We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified." This is a very disturbing quote. What do you think Obama is trying to say here? Cindy Sheehan: Like I said in my speech in Oslo, the ruling class is telling us by giving Obama that award, and in his speech that "War is Peace" and the only conceivable way to peace is through war. What is also disturbing, is the kudos he got from the left-right establishment over that speech. Disturbing, yet predictable. MW: Last question. This is an excerpt from an article you wrote more than a year ago: "The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.... Good-bye America ...you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't make you be that country unless you want it." Do you feel the same way now as when you wrote that, or do you see any glimmer of hope that the country is beginning to change directions? Cindy Sheehan: I wrote this in May of 2007 when I resigned from the movement. I still believe that the people have to wake up on their own, but we can give them some gentle shakes. I am still sacrificing for the enlightenment and am still trying. It was a short retirement. Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, He can be reached at fergiewhitney [at] msn.com --------11 of 15-------- One Day We'll All Be Terrorists by Chris Hedges Monday, December 28, 2009 TruthDig.com Common Dreams Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantnamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak. This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements - who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorismhave - discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at www.educatorsforcivilliberties.org or www.freefahad.com. On Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can. The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence. This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial. Hashmi, who if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held in solitary confinement for more than 2 years. Special administrative measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. He can write one letter a week to a single member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour of daily recreation in a cage. His "proclivity for violence" is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence. "My brother was an activist," Hashmi's brother, Faisal, told me by phone from his home in Queens. "He spoke out on Muslim issues, especially those dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His arrest and torture have nothing to do with providing ponchos and socks to al-Qaida, as has been charged, but the manipulation of the law to suppress activists and scare the Muslim American community. My brother is an example. His treatment is meant to show Muslims what will happen to them if they speak about the plight of Muslims. We have lost every single motion to preserve my brother's humanity and remove the special administrative measures. These measures are designed solely to break the psyche of prisoners and terrorize the Muslim community. These measures exemplify the malice towards Muslims at home and the malice towards the millions of Muslims who are considered as non-humans in Iraq and Afghanistan". The extreme sensory deprivation used on Hashmi is a form of psychological torture, far more effective in breaking and disorienting detainees. It is torture as science. In Germany, the Gestapo broke bones while its successor, the communist East German Stasi, broke souls. We are like the Stasi. We have refined the art of psychological disintegration and drag bewildered suspects into secretive courts when they no longer have the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves. "Hashmi's right to a fair trial has been abridged," said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Much of the evidence in the case has been classified under CIPA, and thus Hashmi has not been allowed to review it. The prosecution only recently turned over a significant portion of evidence to the defense. Hashmi may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention have impacted his mental state and ability to participate in his own defense. "The prosecution's case against Hashmi, an outspoken activist within the Muslim community, abridges his First Amendment rights and threatens the First Amendment rights of others," Ratner added. "While Hashmi's political and religious beliefs, speech and associations are constitutionally protected, the government has been given wide latitude by the court to use them as evidence of his frame of mind and, by extension, intent. The material support charges against him depend on criminalization of association. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities". Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations can now become a crime. Dissidents, even those who break no laws, can be stripped of their rights and imprisoned without due process. It is the legal equivalent of preemptive war. The state can detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last. "Most of the evidence is classified," Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College who taught Hashmi, told me, "but Hashmi is not allowed to see it. He is an American citizen. But in America you can now go to trial and all the evidence collected against you cannot be reviewed. You can spend 2 years in solitary confinement before you are convicted of anything. There has been attention paid to extraordinary rendition, Guantnamo and Abu Ghraib with this false idea that if people are tried in the United States things will be fair. But what allowed Guantnamo to happen was the devolution of the rule of law here at home, and this is not only happening to Hashmi". Hashmi was, like so many of those arrested during the Bush years, briefly a poster child in the "war on terror". He was apprehended in Britain on June 6, 2006, on a U.S. warrant. His arrest was the top story on the CBS and NBC nightly news programs, which used graphics that read "Terror Trail" and "Web of Terror". He was held for 11 months at Belmarsh Prison in London and then became the first U.S. citizen to be extradited by Britain. The year before his arrest, Hashmi, a graduate of Brooklyn College, had completed his master's degree in international relations at London Metropolitan University. His case has no more substance than the one against the seven men arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower, a case where, even though there were five convictions after two mistrials, an FBI deputy director acknowledged that the plan was more "aspirational rather than operational". And it mirrors the older case of the Palestinian activist Sami Al-Arian, now under house arrest in Virginia, who has been hounded by the Justice Department although he should legally have been freed. Judge Leonie Brinkema, currently handling the Al-Arian case, in early March, questioned the U.S. attorney's actions in Al-Arian's plea agreement saying curtly: "I think there's something more important here, and that's the integrity of the Justice Department". The case against Hashmi revolves around the testimony of Junaid Babar, also an American citizen. Babar, in early 2004, stayed with Hashmi at his London apartment for two weeks. In his luggage, the government alleges, Babar had raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks, which Babar later delivered to a member of al-Qaida in south Waziristan, Pakistan. It was alleged that Hashmi allowed Babar to use his cell phone to call conspirators in other terror plots. "Hashmi grew up here, was well known here, was very outspoken, very charismatic and very political," said Theoharis. "This is really a message being sent to American Muslims about the cost of being politically active. It is not about delivering alleged socks and ponchos and rain gear. Do you think al-Qaida can't get socks and ponchos in Pakistan? The government is planning to introduce tapes of Hashmi's political talks while he was at Brooklyn College at the trial. Why are we willing to let this happen? Is it because they are Muslims, and we think it will not affect us? People who care about First Amendment rights should be terrified. This is one of the crucial civil rights issues of our time. We ignore this at our own peril". Babar, who was arrested in 2004 and has pleaded guilty to five counts of material support for al-Qaida, also faces up to 70 years in prison. But he has agreed to serve as a government witness and has already testified for the government in terror trials in Britain and Canada. Babar will receive a reduced sentence for his services, and many speculate he will be set free after the Hashmi trial. Since there is very little evidence to link Hashmi to terrorist activity, the government will rely on Babar to prove intent. This intent will revolve around alleged conversations and statements Hashmi made in Babar's presence. Hashmi, who was a member of the New York political group Al Muhajiroun as a student at Brooklyn College, has made provocative statements, including calling America "the biggest terrorist in the world," but Al Muhajiroun is not defined by the government as a terrorist organization. Membership in the group is not illegal. And our complicity in acts of state terror is a historical fact. There will be more Hashmis, and the Justice Department, planning for future detentions, set up in 2006 a segregated facility, the Communication Management Unit, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Nearly all the inmates transferred to Terre Haute are Muslims. A second facility has been set up at Marion, Ill., where the inmates again are mostly Muslim but also include a sprinkling of animal rights and environmental activists, among them Daniel McGowan, who was charged with two arsons at logging operations in Oregon. His sentence was given "terrorism enhancements" under the Patriot Act. Amnesty International has called the Marion prison facility "inhumane". All calls and mail - although communication customarily is off-limits to prison officials - are monitored in these two Communication Management Units. Communication among prisoners is required to be only in English. The highest-level terrorists are housed at the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, known as Supermax, in Florence, Colo., where prisoners have almost no human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation, replicating the conditions for most of those held at Guantnamo. If detainees are transferred from Guantnamo to the prison in Thomson, Ill., they will find little change. They will endure Guantnamo-like conditions in colder weather. Our descent is the familiar disease of decaying empires. The tyranny we impose on others we finally impose on ourselves. The influx of non-Muslim American activists into these facilities is another ominous development. It presages the continued dismantling of the rule of law, the widening of a system where prisoners are psychologically broken by sensory deprivation, extreme isolation and secretive kangaroo courts where suspects are sentenced on rumors and innuendo and denied the right to view the evidence against them. Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism. 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. --------12 of 15-------- Wealth Care Mumia Abu-Jamal [col. writ. 12/17/09] (c) 09 As Congress wrestles over the parameters of a health care bill, amidst maddened catcalls of 'death panels' and 'socialism!', I am reminded of the experience of John Black, an old trade unionist, revolutionary activist and journalist. Black, a fervent supporter of the Cuban Revolution, joined the Venceremos Brigades, an annual trek of foreigners to the island, who assisted in harvesting the sugar crop and other agricultural work. Although he was in his mid-to-high seventies at the time, Black did his part, until the searing tropical heat, or perhaps the work (or both) took its toll. Black was taken to a nearby hospital, and received what he called "excellent treatment." As he was leaving, he reached for his wallet, and began pulling out some bucks. The doctor looked at him quizzically - and then told him to put his money away. "We treated you because you were sick, Senor," the doctor explained, "Not for the money." These words blew Black away, and this experience with socialist medicine moved him deeply. What is even more remarkable is that Cuba was doing this during its 'Special Period:, a time of economic chaos when its biggest trading partner, the Soviet Union, stopped bartering things for things (as in oil for sugar, for example) and began demanding cold cash for trade. As of 2006, Cuba had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $45 billion dollars - about the same as the Congo, or the Sultanate of Oman ($44.1bn). The GDP measures the market value of goods and services purchased within a nation over a given period of time - usually a year. Do you want to know what the U.S. GDP was for 2007? Over 13 trillion dollars. 13 trillion. Guess which country provides free medical care? The richest nation in earth's history can't agree on how to insure that its citizens get good health care, balking over the economic interests of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. One of the poorest nations on earth (Cuba) not only provides free, universal health care, but it provides well-trained, humanistic doctors to developing and poor countries all over the world (in fact, there are more Cuban doctors helping people overseas, than there are from the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) We need to stop rapping about so-called Health Care: and call it what it is: Wealth Care. --------13 of 15-------- Beyond the Darkest Hours, Grassroots Rising [excerpt] by Ronnie Cummins Saturday, December 26, 2009 CommonDreams.org ... Is This What Democracy Looks Like? In 2009, indentured politicians, bought and sold by the corporate elite, crushed our hopes for peace and prosperity by spending trillions of our tax dollars on war, Wall Street, and corporate welfare. As a critical mass now understand, these trillions could and should have gone toward financing organic transitions, public health, and a Green New Deal. Given the fact that just over a year ago we drove the warmongers and corporate criminals of the Bush Administration out of office, and replaced them with a new set of so-called liberal Democrats, we should already be well on our way to changing course, averting economic meltdown and climate catastrophe. Instead Obama and his pompous cohorts have disillusioned an entire generation and stabbed the living Earth in the back. Riding on a Death Train full-throttle toward the abyss, it matters little whether the Commander in Chief is an outright fascist, like Bush, or merely a coward and a fraud, like Obama. Circumstances leave us no choice but to organize a mutiny and stop the Death Train. ... Ronnie Cummins is National Director of the Organic Consumers Association. --------14 of 15-------- Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/12.28.09 ed Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama Some of Barack Obama's bad actions: 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan record high military budget bombing by unmanned drones in Pakistan continued Iraq war rejection of landmine treaty continued torture and coverup of past torture support for Honduras coup support for Israeli occupation of Palestine suppression of Goldstone Gaza war report bank bailout no prosecution or even investigation of Bush & Co reaffirmation of Patriot Act for insurance companies & vs single payer support for expanded nuclear power For these, and many other bad actions, We the undersigned publicly pledge not to vote for Barack Obama for US president in 2012. Robert Halfhill Amber Garlan Tom Cleland David Weisberg Dave Bicking Andy Hamerlinck Doug Mann Ted Dooley Melissa Hill Dori Ullman Ryan Carey Jan McGee Bill Oldfather Carol Mellom Michelle Gross Mike Whelan Robert Palmer Tom Dooley Tim Nolan Johnny Hazard Suzanne Linton Michael Cavlan Steven Boyer John Simcox Louise Bouta Vanessa Vogl David Shove [room for YOUR name] ==end of pledge To sign this pledge, send to shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu an email from your standard personal email address, with your name, and the words: No Obama 2012 vote. The above will be published regularly on the Progressive Calendar, Green Party lists, etc. Continuing chances for additional people to sign. If you need to research any topic raised here, go to eg: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones --------15 of 15-------- Obama is the president of, by, and for the world's biggest thieves. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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