Progressive Calendar 01.05.10
From: David Shove (
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

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From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Conversation 1.05 6:30pm

Since we are a conversational salon, lets have conversation Jan. 5. 2010.

Pax Salons ( )
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.

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From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: GAMC - powerless nailed 1.06 11am

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

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.

 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": , National Alliance on
Mental Illness of Minnesota (NAMI)
 INVITED: Representatives of MN Dept. of Human Services, HCMC, Regions
Hospital (HealthPartners)


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From: Dave Bicking <dave [at]>
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:
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

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


 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

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

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:

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

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

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

"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

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

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

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).

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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
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

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

--------8 of 9--------

Left to Fend for Themselves
Killing Organizers in Honduras
January 5, 2010

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

 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

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

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]

This article also appears in Upside Down World

--------9 of 9--------

A Cure for Obamamania/Obamaitis

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

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]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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