|Progressive Calendar 01.05.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2010 14:38:54 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.05.10 1. Conversation 1.05 6:30pm 2. GAMC/poor lose 1.06 11am 3. Dolan reviewed 1.06 6pm 4. Randall Amster - The road to healthcare is paved with bad intentions 5. Bob Herbert - An uneasy feeling 6. John Pilger - Obama's Afghan lies remind of Orwell's 1984 7. George Monbiot - From 60-year feeding frenzy to disposable earth 8. Joseph Shansky - Killing organizers in Honduras 9. ed - A cure for Obamamania/Obamaitis --------1 of 9-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Conversation 1.05 6:30pm Since we are a conversational salon, lets have conversation Jan. 5. 2010. 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. --------2 of 9-------- From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com> Subject: GAMC - powerless nailed 1.06 11am TRUTH TO TELL 11AM JANUARY 6: GENERAL ASSISTANCE MEDICAL CARE: Nailing the Powerless Again Please: Help us make TruthToTell the best in local issues coverage by donating at our GiveMN page - and Thank You! KFAI - 90.3FM-Minneapolis/106.7FM Saint Paul and STREAMING at KFAI.org WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6 - 11:00AM GENERAL ASSISTANCE MEDICAL CARE: Nailing the Powerless Again Is the entire matter of shifting 28,000 General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) recipients to MinnesotaCare all about Governor Pawlenty's continuing battle with the urban core? Because state-funded GAMC fills the healthcare gap Medicaid (called Medical Assistance in Minnesota) opens for the poorest of the poor (to qualify for GAMC, one must be a childless adult earning no more than 75% of Federal Poverty Guidelines [FPG] - about $11,000 for a single adult), the poorest among us find themselves on the outs once again. Some 41% ofGAMC's 35,000 to 40,000 enrollees reside in Hennepin County alone; in Ramsey, 12.6%. Over half, then, in the core cities and counties. Although it's possible the national healthcare reform measure would relieve the state of some burden starting in 2014, as part of Governor Pawlenty's now-challenged 2009 budget-balancing scheme, the "unallotment" process, the targeted GAMC recipients at least a quarter of them homeless and over half of them white are scheduled to lose their coverage unless they qualify for Transitional MinnesotaCare. $138 million from the budget. Why? Because MinnesotaCare requires copays on hospital stays, non- preventative doctor's office visits and prescription drug - plus a $10,000 yearly cap on hospital stays. Under current cost conditions, that might mean one overnight bed. Moreover, sometime within the six months following GAMC transfers to MinnesotaCare, GAMC eligibility expires andGAMC recipients must re-apply - not for the better guaranteed GAMC coverage, but for regular MinnesotaCare. No one need remind us that with the poverty represented by GAMC recipients comes a raft of medical and social issues - chemical dependency, mental illness (80%), and, again, homelessness. Core city hospitals like Hennepin County Medical Center and Regions in St. Paul face a severe shortage of funds to cover the healthcare the law mandates for emergency facilities. MinnesotaCare is paid for through the Health Care Access Fund, and the influx of GMAC recipients into this pool will increase costs significantly, given their health needs. The ripple effect includes higher costs and insurance premiums for the entire system. Legislative leaders have been scrambling to solve this dilemma, despite the Governor's veto of a financing package that included a tax increase last session. A proposal being heard in joint House-Senate committees - they'll hold another another hearing Wednesday, January 13 - is meant to bring at least temporary relief even as the new session promises even more fiscal pain for the state. TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with policymakers, advocates and willing officials in the provider community and the state's Human Services Department to clear up confusion over which program is which and what is likely to happen now that the entire care community is up in arms over this proposed shift to the rolls of a program recipients may no longer qualify for after a few months. GUESTS: STATE SEN. JOHN MARTY - Chair of the Senate Health Housing and Family Security Committee; co-chair of the joint committee hearing GAMC resolution legislation SARAH WALKER - Chief Operating Officer, 180 Degrees, a residential post-incarceration program; Founder, Second Chance Coalition. ANNA MEYER - Director, "Criminal Justice Project": http://www.namihelps.org/advocatingbooklet2.pdf , National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota (NAMI) INVITED: Representatives of MN Dept. of Human Services, HCMC, Regions Hospital (HealthPartners) CAN'T GET US OVER THE AIR? STREAM TTT LIVE and LATER --------3 of 9-------- From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com> Subject: Chief Dolan reviewed 1.06 7pm Dear friends, I am a member of the volunteer board of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA). We are holding an important community forum tomorrow night (Wednesday), and I hope you will come. The CRA faces many challenges, not the least of which is a refusal of the Police Chief to impose meaningful discipline in most cases where we have substantiated charges of police misconduct. Tomorrow night's forum will address that issue, and other ways in which Chief Dolan's performance has impacted the ability of the CRA to carry out its mission. We have issued a report on the Chief's performance in areas important to the CRA. We will be presenting that report, discussing its implications, and soliciting questions and suggestions from those who come. I encourage you to come - to find out more about the relationship between the CRA and the Police Chief, and to help support the CRA, and the overall goal of accountability through civilian oversight of the police. * Wednesday, January 6, 7pm Community Forum to present and discuss "CRA Participation in Performance Review of MPD Chief Dolan." Room 319, Mpls City Hall, 350 S. 5th St. (use after-hours entrance: the center doors on 4th St. - north side of building) Copies of the document will be available at the meeting. It can also be found online, at: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cra/docs/CRA-Board_Chief-Dolan_review_2009.pdf I encourage you to take a look at it. It's pretty long and thorough. If you don't have much time, start by reading the Introduction, then the "Summary of Performance Evaluations", to get a feel for the issue. The CRA investigates and rules on civilian complaints of police misconduct, including excessive force, discrimination, bad language, and failure to provide adequate protection. We also have the opportunity to research issues of police policy and make recommendations. The CRA is independent of the Police Department. Nevertheless, we have a lot of contact with the Police Department, and are dependent on cooperation in order to do our job. We rely on the Police to provide police reports, videos, and other evidence. We need officers to be truthful and cooperative in interviews. And, when we find that misconduct has occurred, it is up to the discretion of the Police Chief to determine what, if any, discipline will be issued. The community, and those who file complaints, expect that there will be reasonable consequences for officers who have been found to violate police policies. At this point, the mission of the CRA is in serious jeopardy. If we are to provide the service that is expected of us, we need better performance from the Police Chief. We can't leave it up to the Police to police the Police. The city ordinance that governs the CRA gives us the duty and power to participate in the performance review of the Chief of Police. That is what we have done, and we hope that our conclusions will be listened to. Police Chief Dolan is up for re-appointment this January. There will be at least one public hearing on his re-appointment to another 3 year term. I hope you will also participate in that, and that this report and this forum will help inform you and others about the issue. The above comments are my own, not those of the CRA as a whole. Below I have copied the text of the official press release put out by the CRA. Dave Bicking == PRESS RELEASE Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) Board* Participation in Performance Review of Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan Contact: Don Bellfield, CRA Board Chair, (612)-418-2573 Minneapolis - The Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) Board announced the public release of its report, CRA PARTICIPATION IN PERFORMANCE REVIEW OF MPD CHIEF DOLAN. The Civilian Police Review Authority provides an avenue independent of the Police Department for the resolution of civilian complaints of police misconduct. Though independent, the effectiveness of civilian oversight depends to a large degree on the cooperation of the Police Chief. In particular, the Chief has discretion in the imposition of discipline in cases where the CRA has determined that an officer has violated police policy. The Report by the CRA Board covers all areas of the Chief´s performance as it relates to the CRA, but it is particularly concerned with the inaction of the Chief to impose discipline in most cases in which the CRA determined that misconduct occurred. The CRA Board believes this could compromise the CRA´s ability to reduce misconduct and foster mutual respect between the police and the community. The full report, with detailed statistics, commentary, and recommendations, will be available to the public at the CRA website: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cra/ This is the first time the CRA Board has issued such a report, as authorized by city ordinance. The Police Chief received a performance review recently, but the CRA was not notified in advance. The CRA Board believes that the chief´s performance review should include consideration of the chief´s responsibilities relative to the CRA. "I am confident that this Report will lay a foundation for a productive working relationship between the Minneapolis Police Department, the CRA and the residents of Minneapolis", said Don Bellfield, Chair of the CRA Board. The CRA Board invites the public to attend a forum presenting and discussing its conclusions and seeking public input, on Wednesday, January 6, 2010, at 7:00 pm, in Room 319, Minneapolis City Hall. *The Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority Board members are residents of Minneapolis appointed by the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor to fairly, objectively and independently consider complaints of misconduct by members of the Minneapolis Police Department, and to issue determinations based on findings of fact and evidence to promote adherence to the highest standard of police conduct and to foster mutual respect between the Minneapolis Police Department and all the populations of the city of Minneapolis. --------4 of 9-------- The Road to Healthcare is Paved with Bad Intentions by Randall Amster Tuesday, January 5, 2010 CommonDreams.org A few months ago I inquired, rhetorically, "does anyone in the healthcare debate really care about health?" Obviously the answer was and is a resounding NO, as the discussion has wholly devolved upon insurance coverage to the exclusion of substantive aspects of health like nutrition and preventive care. Yet not only is the focus of the deliberations far removed from any talk of improving health - now it has explicitly gone to the next level in which it is simply about who will pay and who will profit. It isn't health care being produced in this process, but rather, health carelessness. Still unconvinced? Soon we will have the final proof in hand by way of an impending faux healthcare bill, now in conference committee while awaiting a guaranteed presidential signature no matter what it winds up including or omitting. A public option to keep the private insurers honest, as contained in the House version of the bill? Not likely. A requirement that all Americans carry private insurance anyway, backed by the government's enforcement authority, as dictated by the Senate's version? Quite likely. Welcome to America, the new and improved "company town." Once this precedent is set, what other mandates will follow? How about no more public schools coupled with compulsory education. Or perhaps the elimination of public airwaves but a requirement that everyone be plugged in anyway. Maybe it will involve forced contributions to fund elections but the elimination of public referendums and any pretense to open ballot access. We don't have to tread too far down a slippery slope to appreciate the ramifications of this, as recently observed in the New American in an article highlighting the potential unconstitutionality of this mandatory rubric: "Indeed, a federal government mandate to require citizens to purchase such an expensive consumer item - health insurance often costs more than $1,000 per month - has never been created in U.S. history, even in wartime. As the Heritage Foundation recently asked: 'Can Congress require all Americans to buy a new Buick every year or pay a tax equivalent to the price of a used LeSabre?' Such is the same power being claimed on behalf of the healthcare legislation. Here's what the principle [of] the healthcare mandate means: The federal government could literally require individual citizens to purchase any product or service under such a federal power, provided that the economy or some other alleged public good is served. For example, under such a power Congress could also require all citizens to deposit their cash in certain banks (perhaps to avoid the bankruptcy of the banks)." Can you say, "taxation without representation?" Revolutions literally take hold under such conditions. Oh, but healthcare is different, we will likely hear. "This is our best chance to have universal coverage. Once we get that established, then we can work on fixing the rest of the system. Making everyone carry health insurance will be for their own good and will protect everyone's rights, just like requiring all drivers to carry car insurance does. Are you saying that you don't want 30 million more people to have healthcare? You're just supporting the far right by making these arguments, you know." Indeed, as Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake has observed, opposition to this unprecedented mandate has served to unite "liberal progressives and conservative libertarians" against an escalating "corporatist control of government that politicians in both parties seem hell-bent on achieving." Hamsher's FDL colleague Jon Walker likewise asserts that "private individual insurance in America will become a money-making scam into which Americans are forced to pay," to which he subsequently added: "It is both immoral and financially reckless to do what the Senate bill does. It uses the power of the federal government to force people to buy private insurance and gives the private insurance companies hundreds of billions in federal funds." In this sense, the imminent healthcare bill appears to be little more than an elaborate grift - or as Dave Lindorff colorfully refers to it, "rip-offs, screwjobs, and flim-flam." And yet don't count on it being struck down: Congress claims for itself an unbridled and broadly-construed power to "regulate commerce," which the courts generally have let stand. So where to now? Legal challenges are in the offing and pressure groups are working the phones. But to reduce this to a matter of politics misses the larger point. In essence, we are witnessing the concretization of processes of corporate takeover that have been in the works for decades. The purveyors of these processes know no partisan bounds or party lines. They exert control over the money system, the media, the military machine, and more. They've standardized the schools, busted up the unions, controlled access to information, exploded the prison population, effectively cornered the market on food and energy, fomented perpetual warfare, bought the politicians, and toxified the environment. They enjoy the mantle of "upstanding citizens," but in reality function in many respects as little more than a criminal syndicate - a point made by The Free Dictionary in its casual observation that "recent analyses of organized crime point out its similarities to multinational corporate structure." At the risk of putting one's credibility on the line, it needs to be said. The corporate interests that are steadily working to militarize and privatize every aspect of our lives are fascistic, plain and simple. There's a reason why the precursors of today's controllers, including Henry Ford and Prescott Bush, were entangled with the Nazis back in the day, and why they supported Franco's regime in Spain rather than aiding the peasants and workers fighting for their freedom. This isn't some "conspiracy theory," and it isn't intended to be provocative or salacious - it's just what happened. And still happens. Centralized decision-making, enforced Hobson's choices, the illusion of liberty, authority as a path to security, militarization of the economy and media - and yes, even smaller acts like mandatory corporate insurance in the name of universal healthcare - these are the stock-in-trade tactics of the "power elite" that C. Wright Mills wrote so poignantly about back in the 1950s. Forcing everyone to purchase health insurance is essentially a form of taxation being levied and enforced by the government at the behest of private interests. This all fits with the spirit Mussolini's outre notion of the Corporate State of Fascism, which, while he was not cognizant of the practices of modern-day corporations, granted primacy to "private initiative ... as the most efficient and useful instrument of the Nation." Interestingly, Franklin Roosevelt, who himself has been criticized primarily from the right for ushering in fascistic policies, warned of the creeping dangers back in 1938: "The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.... Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing." These themes were broadly echoed in Dwight Eisenhower's now-famous farewell address to the nation in 1961, in which he warned of a burgeoning phenomenon that would erode liberty if left unchecked: "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." We have not adequately heeded these warnings from former leaders of both major political parties. The result has been an inexorable shift toward an omnipotent "power elite" that has effectively seized the reins of governance, and hence of a large measure of our lives as well. Fascism, the antithesis of any pretense we may still hold toward cherished values of freedom and democracy, isn't merely something we need to watch for, but a matter that we increasingly are being required to live with. The fact that it often comes under the guise of this "freedom and democracy" makes it all the more chilling, as George Orwell of course noted in his body of work on the multilayered evils of totalitarianism of all stripes. Okay, so the f-word is out of the bag - now what? Meditating on the ills of coercion and corporatism might be therapeutic to some extent but it does not an alternative make. Tautologically speaking, it is beyond peradventure that you cannot force people to be free, or liberate them at the point of a smart bomb, or impose democracy upon them. You can't turn people good by deploying practices of torture and punishment as a matter of standing policy. Enlightenment doesn't come from enslavement, and "arbeit macht frei" is nothing more than a cruel joke. Likewise, the health of the people will not be improved by forcing us to work for insurance companies that will continue their essential monopoly over our access to medical treatment. Health comes through education and opportunity, not by swearing fealty or homage to corporate hegemons and indemnifying their profligacy with mandatory tribute. Look, only the most heartless sector would want a world in which only certain people are entitled to basic human services like healthcare. But mandating that everyone pay private insurers for it, without a public option, is possibly the most asinine way to go about it. Funny how people can get all up in arms about a potential "government takeover" of healthcare, yet seem to care less about an impending corporate takeover. Well, here's a newsflash: this bill might be both. And it mirrors similar patterns we've seen regarding schools, prisons, banks, the military, security, energy, technology, the media, and politics itself. The government isn't just beholden to corporate America - it is corporate America. At this point, the optimist in me usually tries to push through and offer something constructive and tangible to do in response. You know: community-building, local organizing, people power, self-sufficiency, civil disobedience, nonviolent praxis, opting out, do-it-yourself ethics, mutual aid, positive thinking, holding a vision, creative interruption, highlighting exemplars, and the like. These (and more) are all good strategies, to be sure. But we're fast approaching a potential tipping point of no return here, and our window of room to organize and strategize seems to be rapidly closing. Left and right ultimately have no deeper meaning in this unfolding drama, and the symbols of both elephant and donkey are equally passe. Today, it's really more a matter of ostriches and eagles by now, if you catch my drift - and it's kind of ironic how few eagles there are left in America anymore. The pending healthcare legislation is merely the latest in a litany of efforts to fundamentally reorder our lives toward a further acceptance of coercion as a legitimate form of influence, and it continues the corporate power grab that has been steadily escalating for generations. The road to hell indeed might be paved with good intentions, and it bears asking whether the road to healthcare is inversely plagued. You know, I actually feel a bit better having said all of that. Maybe this new healthcare plan has some unintended healing properties to it after all... Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., teaches Peace Studies at Prescott College, and is the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is Lost In Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly 2008). --------5 of 9-------- An Uneasy Feeling by Bob Herbert Tuesday, January 5, 2010 The New York Times Common Dreams I'm starting the new year with the sinking feeling that important opportunities are slipping from the nation's grasp. Our collective consciousness tends to obsess indiscriminately over one or two issues - the would-be bomber on the flight into Detroit, the Tiger Woods saga - while enormous problems that should be engaged get short shrift. Staggering numbers of Americans are still unemployed and nearly a quarter of all homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Forget the false hope of modestly improving monthly job numbers. The real story right now is the entrenched suffering (with no end in sight) that has been inflicted on scores of millions of working Americans by the Great Recession and the misguided economic policies that preceded it. As The Washington Post reported over the weekend, the entire past decade "was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times." There was no net job creation - none - between December 1999 and now. None! The Post article read like a lament, a longing for the U.S. as we'd once known it: "No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent." Middle-class families in 2008 actually earned less, adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999. The data for 2009 are not yet in, but you can just imagine what happened to those families in that nightmarish downturn. Small children over the holidays were asking Santa Claus to bring mommy or daddy a job. One in eight Americans, and one in four children, are on food stamps. Some six million Americans, according to an article in The Times on Sunday, have said that food stamps were their only income. This is a society in deep, deep trouble and the fixes currently in the works are in no way adequate to the enormous challenges we're facing. For example, an end to the mantra of monthly job losses would undoubtedly be welcomed. But even if the economy manages to create a few hundred thousand new jobs a month, it would do little to haul us from the unemployment pit dug for us by the Great Recession. We need to create more than 10 million new jobs just to get us back to where we were when the recession began in December 2007. What's needed are big new innovative efforts to fashion an economy that creates jobs for all who want and need to work. Just getting us back in fits and starts over the next few years to where we were when the recession began should not be acceptable to anyone. We should be moving now to invest aggressively in a new, greener economy, leading the world in the development of alternative fuels, advanced transportation networks and the effort to restrain the poisoning of the planet. We should be developing an industrial policy that emphasizes the need for America to regain its manufacturing mojo, as tough as that might seem, and we need to rebuild our infrastructure. We're not smart as a nation. We don't learn from the past, and we don't plan for the future. We've spent a year turning ourselves inside out with arguments of every sort over health care reform only to come up with a bloated, Rube Goldberg legislative mess that protects the insurance and drug industries and does not rein in runaway health care costs. The politicians will be back soon, trust me, screaming about the need to rein in health costs. We keep talking about how essential it is to radically improve public education while, at the same time, we're closing libraries and firing teachers by the tens of thousands for economic reasons. The fault lies everywhere. The president, the Congress, the news media and the public are all to blame. Shared sacrifice is not part of anyone's program. Politicians can't seem to tell the difference between wasteful spending and investments in a more sustainable future. Any talk of raising taxes is considered blasphemous, but there is a constant din of empty yapping about controlling budget deficits. Oh, yes, and we're fighting two wars. If America can't change, then the current state of decline is bound to continue. You can't have a healthy economy with so many millions of people out of work, and there is no plan now that would result in the creation of millions of new jobs any time soon. Voters were primed at the beginning of the Obama administration for fundamental changes that would have altered the trajectory of American life for the better. Politicians of all stripes, many of them catering to the nation's moneyed interests, fouled that up to a fare-thee-well. Now we're escalating in Afghanistan, falling back into panic mode over an attempted act of terror and squandering a golden opportunity to build a better society. 2010 The New York Times Bob Herbert joined The New York Times as an Op-Ed columnist in 1993. His twice a week column comments on politics, urban affairs and social trends. --------6 of 9-------- Welcome to Orwell's World Obama's lies over the Afghanistan war remind us of the lessons of Nineteen Eighty-Four by John Pilger Tuesday, January 5, 2010 The New Statesman Common Dreams In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate, Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that "passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past'." Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that "extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan" to "disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies". He called this "global security" and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which the US has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: "We have no interest in occupying your country." In Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorised by the United Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said that "the world" supported the invasion in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks. In truth, all but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming opposition. He said that America invaded Afghanistan "only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden". In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand over Bin Laden for trial, Pakistan's military regime reported, and they were ignored. "Hearts and minds" Even Obama's mystification of the 9/11 attacks as justification for his war is false. More than two months before the twin towers were attacked, the former Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik was told by the Bush administration that a US military assault would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded as "stable" enough to ensure US control over oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go. Obama's most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a "safe haven" for al-Qaeda's attacks on the west. His own national security adviser, James Jones, said in October that there were "fewer than 100" al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 per cent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but "a tribal localised insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power". The war is a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of "world peace". Beneath the surface, however, there is serious purpose. Under the disturbing General Stanley McChrystal, who gained distinction for his assassination squads in Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan is a model for those "disorderly regions" of the world still beyond Oceania's reach. This is known as Coin (counter- insurgency), and draws together the military, aid organisations, psychologists, anthropologists, the media and public relations hirelings. Covered in jargon about winning hearts and minds, it aims to incite civil war: Tajiks and Uzbeks against Pashtuns. The Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multi-ethnic society. They built walls between communities which had once intermarried, ethnically cleansing the Sunnis and driving millions out of the country. Embedded media reported this as "peace"; American academics bought by Washington and "security experts" briefed by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the good news. As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the opposite was true. Something similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be forced into "target areas" controlled by warlords, bankrolled by the CIA and the opium trade. That these warlords are barbaric is irrelevant. "We can live with that," a Clinton-era diplomat once said of the return of oppressive sharia law in a "stable", Taliban-run Afghanistan. Favoured western relief agencies, engineers and agricultural specialists will attend to the "humanitarian crisis" and so "secure" the subjugated tribal lands. That is the theory. It worked after a fashion in Yugoslavia, where ethnic-sectarian partition wiped out a once-peaceful society, but it failed in Vietnam, where the CIA's "Strategic Hamlet Program" was designed to corral and divide the southern population and so defeat the Vietcong - the Americans' catch-all term for the resistance, similar to "Taliban". Behind much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the Americans in both the Iraq and the Afghanistan adventures. Ethnic cleansing, wall-building, checkpoints, collective punishment and constant surveillance - these are claimed as Israeli innovations that have succeeded in stealing most of Palestine from its native people. And yet, for all their suffering, the Palestinians have not been divided irrevocably and they endure as a nation against all odds. Imperial cemeteries The most telling forerunners of the Obama Plan, which the Nobel Peace Prize-winner and his general and his PR men prefer we forget, are those that failed in Afghanistan itself. The British in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century attempted to conquer that wild country by ethnic cleansing and were seen off, though after terrible bloodshed. Imperial cemeteries are their memorials. People power, sometimes baffling, often heroic, remains the seed beneath the snow, and invaders fear it. "It was curious," wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, "to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same - everywhere, all over the world . . . people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same - people who . . . were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world." 2010 The New Statesman John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film-maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism's highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia. --------7 of 9-------- After this 60-year Feeding Frenzy, Earth Itself has Become Disposable by George Monbiot Tuesday, January 5, 2010 The Guardian/UK Consumerism has, as Huxley feared, changed all of us - we'd rather hop to a brave new world than rein in our spending Who said this? "All the evidence shows that beyond the sort of standard of living which Britain has now achieved, extra growth does not automatically translate into human welfare and happiness." Was it a) the boss of Greenpeace, b) the director of the New Economics Foundation, or c) an anarchist planning the next climate camp? None of the above: d) the former head of the Confederation of British Industry, who currently runs the Financial Services Authority. In an interview broadcast last Friday, Lord Turner brought the consumer society's most subversive observation into the mainstream. In our hearts most of us know it is true, but we live as if it were not. Progress is measured by the speed at which we destroy the conditions that sustain life. Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose. They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country's most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year. The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management. As the Guardian revealed today, the British government is now split over product placement in television programmes: if it implements the policy proposed by Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary, plots will revolve around chocolates and cheeseburgers, and advertisements will be impossible to filter, perhaps even to detect. Bradshaw must know that this indoctrination won't make us happier, wiser, greener or leaner; but it will make the television companies 140m a year. Though we know they aren't the same, we can't help conflating growth and wellbeing. Last week, for instance, the Guardian carried the headline "UK standard of living drops below 2005 level". But the story had nothing to do with our standard of living. Instead it reported that per capita gross domestic product is lower than it was in 2005. GDP is a measure of economic activity, not standard of living. But the terms are confused so often that journalists now treat them as synonyms. The low retail sales of previous months were recently described by this paper as "bleak" and "gloomy". High sales are always "good news", low sales are always "bad news", even if the product on offer is farmyard porn. I believe it's time that the Guardian challenged this biased reporting. Those who still wish to conflate welfare and GDP argue that high consumption by the wealthy improves the lot of the world's poor. Perhaps, but it's a very clumsy and inefficient instrument. After some 60 years of this feast, 800 million people remain permanently hungry. Full employment is a less likely prospect than it was before the frenzy began. In a new paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Sir Partha Dasgupta makes the point that the problem with gross domestic product is the gross bit. There are no deductions involved: all economic activity is accounted as if it were of positive value. Social harm is added to, not subtracted from, social good. A train crash which generates 1bn worth of track repairs, medical bills and funeral costs is deemed by this measure to be as beneficial as an uninterrupted service which generates 1bn in ticket sales. Most important, no deduction is made to account for the depreciation of natural capital: the overuse or degradation of soil, water, forests, fisheries and the atmosphere. Dasgupta shows that the total wealth of a nation can decline even as its GDP is growing. In Pakistan, for instance, his rough figures suggest that while GDP per capita grew by an average of 2.2% a year between 1970 and 2000, total wealth declined by 1.4%. Amazingly, there are still no official figures that seek to show trends in the actual wealth of nations. You can say all this without fear of punishment or persecution. But in its practical effects, consumerism is a totalitarian system: it permeates every aspect of our lives. Even our dissent from the system is packaged up and sold to us in the form of anti-consumption consumption, like the "I'm not a plastic bag", which was supposed to replace disposable carriers but was mostly used once or twice before it fell out of fashion, or like the lucrative new books on how to live without money. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley proposed different totalitarianisms: one sustained by fear, the other in part by greed. Huxley's nightmare has come closer to realisation. In the nurseries of the Brave New World, "the voices were adapting future demand to future industrial supply. 'I do love flying,' they whispered, 'I do love flying, I do love having new clothes ... old clothes are beastly ... We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending, ending is better than mending'". Underconsumption was considered "positively a crime against society". But there was no need to punish it. At first the authorities machine-gunned the Simple Lifers who tried to opt out, but that didn't work. Instead they used "the slower but infinitely surer methods" of conditioning: immersing people in advertising slogans from childhood. A totalitarianism driven by greed eventually becomes self-enforced. Let me give you an example of how far this self-enforcement has progressed. In a recent comment thread, a poster expressed an idea that I have now heard a few times. "We need to get off this tiny little world and out into the wider universe ... if it takes the resources of the planet to get us out there, so be it. However we use them, however we utilise the energy of the sun and the mineral wealth of this world and the others of our planetary system, either we do use them to expand and explore other worlds, and become something greater than a mud-grubbing semi-sentient animal, or we die as a species." This is the consumer society taken to its logical extreme: the Earth itself becomes disposable. This idea appears to be more acceptable in some circles than any restraint on pointless spending. That we might hop, like the aliens in the film Independence Day, from one planet to another, consuming their resources then moving on, is considered by these people a more realistic and desirable prospect than changing the way in which we measure wealth. So how do we break this system? How do we pursue happiness and wellbeing rather than growth? I came back from the Copenhagen climate talks depressed for several reasons, but above all because, listening to the discussions at the citizens' summit, it struck me that we no longer have movements; we have thousands of people each clamouring to have their own visions adopted. We might come together for occasional rallies and marches, but as soon as we start discussing alternatives, solidarity is shattered by possessive individualism. Consumerism has changed all of us. Our challenge is now to fight a system we have internalised. 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. Visit his website at www.monbiot.com --------8 of 9-------- Left to Fend for Themselves Killing Organizers in Honduras By JOSEPH SHANSKY January 5, 2010 CounterPunch The bodies of slain activists are piling up in Honduras. While it's being kept quiet in most Honduran and international media, the rage is building among a dedicated network of friends spreading the word quickly with the tragic announcement of each compaero/a. Now that the world heard from mainstream news outlets such as the New York Times of a "clean and fair" election on Nov. 29 (orchestrated by the US-supported junta currently in power), the violence has increased even faster than feared. [Thanks Obama] The specific targets of these killings have been those perceived as the biggest threats to the coup establishment. The bravest, and thus the most vulnerable: Members of the Popular Resistance against the coup. Their friends and family. People who provide the Resistance with food and shelter. Teachers, students, and ordinary citizens who simply recognize the fallacy of an un-elected regime taking over their country. All associated with the Resistance have faced constant and growing repercussions for their courage in protesting the coup. With the international community given the green light by the US that democratic order has returned via elections, it's open season for violent forces in Honduras working to tear apart the political unity of the Resistance Front against the coup. [Thanks Obama] The killings are happening almost faster than they can be recorded. On Sunday, Dec. 7, a group of six people were gunned down while walking down the street in the Villanueva neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. According to sources, a white van with no license plates stopped in front of the group. Four masked men jumped out of the van and forced the group to get on the ground, where they were shot. The five victims who were killed were: Marcos Vinicio Matute Acosta, 39 Kennet Josu Ramrez Rosa, 23 Gabriel Antonio Parrales Zelaya, 34 Roger Andrs Reyes Aguilar, 22 Isaac Enrique Soto Coello, 24 One woman, Wendy Molina, 32, was shot several times and played dead when one of the assassins pulled her hair, checking to see if anyone in the group was still alive. She was taken to the hospital and survived. The Honduran independent newspaper El Libertador reports that the group members were all organizers against the coup. According to a resident in the area, "The boys had organized committees so that the neighbors could get involved in the Resistance Front." This massacre was part of a string of Resistance-related murders during the past few weeks alone. On December 3, Walter Trochez, 25 a well-known activist in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community was snatched off the street and thrown into a van, again by four masked men, in downtown Tegucigalpa. In the report that he later filed to local and national authorities, Walter said he was interrogated for hours for information on Resistance members and activities, and was beaten in the face with a pistol for refusing to speak. He was told that he would be killed regardless, and he eventually escaped by throwing open the van door, falling into the street, and running away. It wasn't the first time Walter had been subject to these kinds of threats. He was a much-loved organizer against the coup who had been documenting human rights violations, particularly in the gay community. Walter had just published two articles. One following the elections was titled "The Triumph of Abstentionism", on the success of the effort by the Resistance to encourage citizens to refuse to vote. The other was called .Escalation of Hate and Homophobic Crimes against the LGBTT Community Rooted in the Civil-Religious-Military Coup d'tat in Honduras.. In both, he concludes: "As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow and forever on the front lines of my people, all the while knowing that I may lose my life". On Dec. 13, one week later, Walter was shot in the chest by a drive-by gunman while walking home. He died at the hospital. On Dec. 5, Santos Garcia Corrales, an active member of the National Resistance Front, was detained by security forces in New Colony Capital, south of Tegucigalpa. He was then tortured for information on a local merchant who was providing food and supplies to the Resistance. After reporting the incident to local authorities, Santos. body was found five days later on Dec 10, decapitated. There have been others as well, notably a rise in murders in the LGBT community since the coup. In particular, several transvestites have been recently killed in similarly gruesome ways. Human rights advocates report that "up to 18 gay and transgender men have been killed nationwide - as many as the five prior years - in the nearly six months since a political crisis rocked the nation". The latest victim, Carlos Turcios, was kidnapped outside his home in Choloma Cortes, at three in the afternoon of Wednesday Dec. 16. He was found dead the next day, with his hands and head cut off. Carlos had been vice-president of the Choloma chapter of the Resistance Front, a town located a few hours outside of the capital. Andres Pavn, president of CODEH (Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras), commented: "We believe this horrendous crime joins others where the bodies show signs of brutal torture. This aggression is directed to the construction of collective fear". It is a sinister effort to shake up a community that is now in fact stronger than ever. As Walter Trochez noted (and CNN confirmed), most of the country refused to go to the polls that day. Many of the world's governments, including most of Latin America, refused to recognize the results. In this climate of fierce repression, citizens can no longer depend on authorities for the most basic protective rights, and those fearful for their lives cannot report to the police. Complaints they file, such as those of Santos and Walter, could soon become signatures to their own death letters. Many believe with good reason that the killings are state-sponsored. At the very least, they are the result of new conditions which allow for the widespread deterioration of state protection. Pavn and other human rights leaders in Honduras have been extremely vocal in denouncing these atrocities, but the story has remained under the radar for most Hondurans and almost all international media. At the time when Hondurans most need exposure to these abuses, they've been left to fend for themselves. How did this happen? Why are people being randomly executed in dark corners of the country for simply standing in opposition to a military coup? Most of the bloodshed is on the hands of coup president Roberto Micheletti and other leaders of the regime. However, President Barack Obama and the US State Department played a major role in allowing conditions to get to this point. The US government took no concrete action against the thousands of documented violations since the coup took place June 28. It's no shock that the violence has worsened dramatically with the eyes of the world now averted. [Thanks Obama] In a recent interview, Francisco Rios of the National Front Against the Coup reiterated Frente communiqus which stated that the Resistance, though now lying low, is preparing a massive organization effort for next year and beyond. Rios reported that they have stopped meeting publicly as a safety measure for now, but will soon begin dividing into chapters around the country with plans to emerge as a new, strengthened political force. Walter, Santos, Carlos, and all of the Resistance fighters who gave their lives have inspired others in the movement to continue the struggle for justice in Honduras. Joseph Shansky was reporting from Honduras during the recent military coup, and can be reached at fallow3 [at] gmail.com. This article also appears in Upside Down World --------9 of 9-------- A Cure for Obamamania/Obamaitis ed Most are becoming aware that Obama is bad for us and that we should be doing something about it. But many still suffer from advanced Obamamania, rendering us deer in headlights, gawking and trembling, unable to move or act. This disease is psycho-social and so must be its remedy: Every hour on the hour the patient is to stand up, face toward the Oval Office in Washington DC, and say (mutter, shout) as loud as he/she dares, (Expletive-deleted) you Obama! This can be any expletive of choice, milder, eg "damn" or "screw" or even "ishy-poopoo on", medium, eg the standard 4-letter words, or extreme, eg "DNC on". Cures are faster if 1) it is done with other patients, as many as possible, and 2) it is accompanied with well-known highway-type gestures. Patients have so much fun the first time they look forward to every top of the hour, to do it again. Soon nothing at all else will be done in the whole USA and beyond from t:00 to t:02 every hour.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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