Progressive Calendar 12.28.09
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


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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:
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 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.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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                          vote third party
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 Research almost any topic raised here at:
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