Progressive Calendar 02.08.10
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 14:20:42 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   02.08.10

1. Peace walk      2.08 6pm RiverFalls WI
2. Community ag    2.08 6:30pm

3. Neo-CondiRice/f 2.09 6:30pm
4. Plan Mayday     2.09 7pm
5. Amnesty Intl    2.09 7pm

6. McMorris-Santoro - Poll: 2/3 of Americans vs Citizens United ruling
7. Pam Martens      - Wall Street's killer instinct = death for jobs

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From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 2.08 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


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From: Leslie Reindl <alteravista [at] usfamily.net>
Subject: Community ag 2.08 6:30pm

Monday, Feb. 8, 6:30 to 8 pm
Workshop:  Community Owned Agriculture (COA)--A Step Beyond the CSA
Merriam Park Library,1831 Marshall Ave., St. Paul

How can city folks farm in the country?  What would it take to become a
food producer on actual farmland, without living in the country? And why
would city folks want to do this, when they can grow food at a community
garden close to home, or contract with a CSA farmer, or shop at a farmer's
market?

Some reasons:
*  To produce essential crops that need more acreage than the city
usually provides, such as grains
*  To actually own production on a long-term lease or purchase of the
land
*  To invest assets into real, productive property
*  To become part of a group that works together based on interest
and investment, without necessarily doing farm work
*  To participate in a new type of land and farming reform
*  To opt further out of the industrial agriculture system
*  To slowly learn the essentials of farming, if desired, for future
purposes

This workshop presents a new concept in farming--how to become a co-
producer, with others, of food on agricultural land leased or purchased by
the group.  This concept responds to current health and food security
concerns, interest in "local," and dissatisfaction with returns on and the
risks of investment.

Presenters: Wilhelm and Leslie Reindl
Sponsored by Wilderness Connections, St. Paul
FFI alteravista [at] usfamily.net, 651-633-4410


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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Neo-CondiRice/f 2.09 6:30pm

Pax Conversational Salon (Film Screening): "American Faust: From Condi to
Neo-Condi"
Tuesday, February 9, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West
Seventh, St. Paul.

Sebastian Doggart's award-winning film explains in depth how the ten year
old girl who confidently told her father she would someday be in the White
House got there and what happened when she did. The investigative
documentary has no narration but is instead told entirely through
interview clips of Condoleezza herself, her family, former fiancé,
professors, mentors, colleagues, her supporters and her critics, and
several authors and experts. Three of Rice's best biographers backstop the
timeline from Rice's birth in 1954 to her 2009 departure from the office
of Secretary of State. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 651-227-3228.


--------4 of 7--------

From: In the Heart of the Beast Theatre <info [at] hobt.org>
Subject: Plan Mayday 2.09 7pm

We like a good conversation. In fact, a good conversation is the beginning
of the MayDay Parade and Festival, every year.

MayDay community meetings are the venue to which we invite you and your
neighbors to brainstorm and discuss the theme for this year's Mayday
Parade and Festival. The meetings are free and everyone is welcome to
attend one or both. No reservation needed, but please come ready to share
ideas and discuss recent issues as well as concerns and hopes for the
future.

Details
Tuesday, February 9 ˇ 7-9pm at HOBT
Tuesday,
March 16 ˇ 7-9pm at HOBT
Open community
workshops will run throughout April on Tuesdays,
Thursdays, and Saturdays beginning April 3.
The MayDay Parade
and Festival will be held on Sunday, May 2.


--------5 of 7--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 2.09 7pm

JOIN US FOR OUR MINNEAPOLIS AMNESTY MEETUP: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9 - 7 P.M.

Join other Amnesty members and friends for a casual, agenda-free social
meetup on the second Tuesday of each month. Free flowing conversation
about our shared interests. Common Roots Cafe, 2558 Lyndale Ave S.,
Minneapolis MN 55405. Beer, wine, coffee, and food available. Look for an
Amnesty logo or ask for Gabe.

For a map, directions, and more info on Common Roots Cafe, visit their web
site:

http://www.commonrootscafe.com/


--------6 of 7--------

Poll: Two-Thirds Of Americans Unhappy About Citizens United Ruling
by Evan McMorris-Santoro
Monday, February 8, 2010
TalkingPointsMemo
Common Dreams

Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito may not have wanted to hear it during the
State Of The Union address, but a new poll shows the majority of Americans
agree with President Obama's take on the Citizens United ruling. More than
60 percent of respondents say it was a bad idea.

The opposition was found across party lines, and according to the
pollsters was especially common among independents - the group both
parties have desperately fought over for a decade now. The pollsters said
that result suggests that the parties would be well-served to take on the
ruling and reinstate campaign finance regulations canceled out by the
ruling with new law.

The poll was conducted by a bipartisan pairing of Democratic pollster Stan
Greenberg and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon. The sponsors were
several groups opposed to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which
they say will open the door to unheard of corporate influence in American
politics. The results of the survey show that the general public
overwhelmingly agrees. Sixty-four percent of respondents were opposed to
ruling, while just 27% said they favored it.

"The results are pretty striking," Greeberg said on a conference call with
reporters this morning. He said that the current anti-establishment fervor
in the electorate suggests that incumbents should get as far away from the
Citizens United ruling as they can. "The last thing people want to see in
this environment is corporations having more influence on politicians."

That's especially true among independents, as data from the poll shows.

More than 80% of independents said new limits should be placed on campaign
spending. Seventy-four percent of independents agreed with the statement
that "special interests have too much influence in Washington."

Though the results are good news for campaign finance reform fans, they're
not so good for the party in power at the moment. Independents did not
give positive reviews on how Democrats have dealt with the problem of
special interest influence in Washington. Just 30% said President Obama
has reduced the power of lobbyists in Washington, while 50% said special
interests have gained more power in the city since he took office.
 2010 TalkingPointsMemo


--------7 of 7--------

This Trend is Not Your Friend
Wall Street's Killer Instinct Spells Death Knell for Jobs
By PAM MARTENS
February 8, 2010
CounterPunch

I think it's time to take Wall Street literally: they've made it
abundantly clear they have an insatiable appetite for killing things: the
housing market, the financial system, the economy, reform legislation, the
next generation's future.

Wall Street is so steeped in destruction that the symbols of death are
everywhere.  Wall Street calls the big newspaper ads they take out to
herald the launch of their market offerings a "tombstone". (To understand
how appropriate that is, consider the billions in bond and stock offerings
they raise for Big Tobacco.)  What does Wall Street call the completion of
a buy or sell order: an "execution". (Think of how many derivative trades
they "executed" for the now crippled, life support patients Fannie Mae,
Freddie Mac and AIG; or the off balance sheet vehicles they created for
Enron, WorldCom, and dozens of now bankrupt companies.)

Wall Street calls an order to complete a trade without any reduction in
quantity a "fill or kill".  This could just as reasonably be called a
"fill or cancel" order but it's so much more fun for the thundering herd
to race around a trading floor screaming "kill it, kill it!"

What is the benefit to Wall Street in killing things or bringing the share
price of companies to near worthless?  Tails they win; heads you lose.
Wall Street can and does make enormous profits on bets that share prices
will decline (shorting), that companies will disappear (credit default
swaps), that the economy will crater (interest rate swaps).  And there's a
slogan on Wall Street: the trend is your friend.  When it's clear the bull
is lying in the center of the ring (think Lehman's death and the Merrill
Lynch shotgun wedding on September 15, 2008), Wall Street moves its bets
to the downside.

No one has their jive aligned with their agenda any better than
Citigroup's traders.  When they set out to inflict pain on the European
bond market in 2004, they labeled the trade "Dr. Evil".  Citi also created
a structured finance vehicle that greased the skids for the collapse of
Italian dairy giant Parmalat, dubbed Buconero, Italian for "Black Hole".

Until a President comes along with a genuine will to deal with the truly
rapacious nature of Wall Street, these destructive forces will continue.

President Obama's latest Wall Street reform plan to bar commercial banks
from owning private equity funds or hedge funds and banning proprietary
trading for the benefit of their own firm constitutes needed reform toward
unrigging the markets.  But the proposal neglects Wall Street's most
serious threat to the economy.  It's the commercial banks' ownership of
investment banks and brokerage firms that's killing innovation and job
growth in America.  The longer we wait to deal with this issue, the more
the national debt will balloon as the government is forced to indefinitely
add job stimulus money and sustenance funds for the growing number of
unemployed.

As currently structured, Wall Street investment banks have no incentive to
bring viable companies to market.  Wall Street makes the same huge fees
for putting lipstick on a pig and dumping it on the public as they do for
launching solid companies with real job growth potential. Over the past
decade, trillions of dollars of investors' life savings have been
misallocated to bogus business models.  Those companies are now worthless
or are trading for pennies on the Pink Sheets, the graveyard for
investment banks' misfired ideas.

The Pink Sheets provide quotes on these stocks to broker dealers.  It's
not responsible for the legitimacy of the companies and, in fact, warns
investors on its web site that these "are small companies with limited
operating histories or are economically distressed. Investors should avoid
the OTC [over the counter] market unless they can afford a complete loss
of their investment".  In many cases, this is far more disclosure than
licensed brokers at the "venerable" firms told their clients when the
companies first went public at fat share prices.

A study done by Tyler Shumway and Vincent A. Warther for the University of
Michigan Business School and University of Chicago Graduate School of
Business found that between 1972 through 1995, 4,188 companies were
delisted by Nasdaq, the stock exchange that facilitated the boom and bust
in dotcoms and tech start ups in the late 90s. After delisting, many ended
up on the Pink Sheets.  In March 2000, the Nasdaq index stood at 5,048.
Today, a decade later, it's still down 58 percent from its peak.

It's time for Congress to open its eyes to the reality that this massive
decline in Nasdaq is telling us Wall Street is not bringing enough good
companies to market.  And the mergers Wall Street has put together,
typically traded on the New York Stock Exchange, have created Frankenbanks
and debt-laden conglomerates too bloated to figure out their own balance
sheet let alone create new jobs.  Two poster children come to mind:
AOL-TimeWarner and Citibank-Travelers-Smith Barney-Salomon, a/k/a
Citigroup.

Investment banks that arrange these initial public offerings of new
companies or merge together existing ones are now located within the "too
big to fail," publicly traded commercial banks.   But they used to be
private partnerships and put their own money at risk when bringing a new
company to market.  When their own money was at risk, there was a far
greater due diligence done to ensure the company would be viable.  That's
gone now.  There's no incentive to be vigilant. It's OPM: other people's
money to throw down on the casino table.

To fully understand the new structure of Wall Street, it helps to reflect
back to August 1995 when the FDA told us that a cigarette was really a
nicotine delivery system in drag and Big Tobacco was manipulating
"nicotine delivery at each stage of production".  People were being hooked
on something very harmful to their well being while a colluding industry
lied and lobbied.

Insiders on Wall Street call their retail brokerage firms, now also
dangerously merged with commercial banks, a "distribution" system.  The
investment banks create the toxic product, the brokers distribute it to
the public under an enshrined carrot and stick system that is virtually
identical at every major firm.  That is, the internal research department
puts out a buy recommendation.  The brokers' local manager holds a sales
meeting and pushes the firm's latest offerings. The brokers' commission
system dramatically favors risky products that the firm is pumping out
over safer investments.

There is absolutely no system that rewards a broker for how well his
clients' portfolio performs.  The broker's ability to have secretarial
help, the size of his or her office, gaining the title of Vice President
on the business card, the annual bonus, even being taken out to lunch by
the Branch Manager, is dependent solely on how much money the broker makes
for the firm.

If you want to challenge the system as corrupt, the courthouse doors are
closed to you.  Wall Street enforces its own private justice system called
mandatory arbitration.  The public is not allowed to have a peek, after
all it's private justice, so there is no disinfecting sunshine on this
cabal.

The only way a system this riddled with conflicts of interest and contempt
toward its own customers' interests could have survived this long was by
grabbing that huge depositor base of money from the commercial banks and
then trading it into oblivion. The newest patsy in this grand bank heist
is the taxpayer who is replenishing the empty vaults.

With each new $100 billion job creation program from the government, we
acknowledge that Wall Street isn't creating companies that create jobs.
According to the Labor Department, 9.3 million Americans could not find
work as of January and millions more are involuntarily working part-time
or too discouraged to look for work.

So if Wall Street is not properly allocating capital to viable companies,
it's not rewarding its shareholders or customers, remind me again why
taxpayers are spending trillions to save it?

The February 15, 1999 cover of Time magazine lauded Federal Reserve
Chairman Alan Greenspan, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and Deputy
Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as The Committee to Save the World.
We now know this was really The Committee to Slave the World.  The
economic challenges the world now confronts were of their making;
together, of course, with some well placed Washington and Wall Street
cronies.

Greenspan has a B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from New York
University; Rubin has a B.A. in Economics from Harvard and a law degree
from Yale.  Summers has a B.S. from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. from Harvard.
Despite these 7 degrees from some of the finest institutions of learning
in the country, we are asked to believe that there was not one ounce of
common sense that suggested to these men that repealing the depression era
investor protection legislation known as the Glass-Steagall Act that
prevented the combination of commercial banks with investment banks and
brokerage firms would end up killing jobs, the financial system and the
economy.  (Were we not looking at men who profited greatly from that bad
decision, we might be less skeptical.)

There has been this intellectual dishonesty and revisionist history
suggesting no one could have seen this coming. Not only did lots of people
see it coming but on June 25 and June 26, 1998 a steady stream of
public-minded citizens walked through the stately doors of the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York and testified that repealing the Glass-Steagall
Act and allowing commercial banks to merge with Wall Street firms was a
preposterously bad idea and would lead to economic ruin.  Why is our
President turning to Summers and Rubin for advice instead of the people
who got it right?

President Obama has now anointed Neal Wolin to join the New Committee to
Save the World along with himself and former Fed Chair Paul Volcker.  Who
is Neal Wolin? He was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury on May
19, 2009.

In the Clinton administration, Wolin was general counsel to Lawrence
Summers, a key proponent of repealing the Glass-Steagall Act.  According
to the New York Times, Mr. Summers earned $5.2 million in 2008 working one
day a week for the hedge fund, D.E. Shaw & Company, while simultaneously
advising Obama.  After leaving government, Wolin worked for Hartford
Financial Services Group Inc. for eight years. According to BusinessWeek,
if you add up Wolin.s cash compensation, restricted stock awards, options,
and other compensation, he made $3.4 million his last year at Hartford in
2008.

Robert Scheer wrote the following about Wolin at the San Francisco
Chronicle on November 19, 2009:

"Wolin, Geithner and Summers were all proteges of Robert Rubin, who, as
Clinton's treasury secretary, was the grand author of the strategy of
freeing Wall Street firms from their Depression-era constraints. It was
Wolin who, at Rubin's behest, became a key force in drafting the
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which ended the barrier between investment and
commercial banks and insurance companies, thus permitting the new
financial behemoths to become too big to fail. Two stunning examples of
such giants that had to be rescued with public funds are Citigroup bank,
where Rubin went to 'earn' $120 million after leaving the Clinton White
House, and the Hartford Insurance Co., where Wolin landed after he left
Treasury".

Mr. President, it's time to clear out the fat cats and deliver on that
message of hope and change.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security
position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article.  She
writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire.  She can be reached
at pamk741 [at] aol.com


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

   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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