Progressive Calendar 02.20.10
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 2010 05:31:01 -0800 (PST)
               P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   02.20.10

1. Peace walk        2.20 9am Cambridge MN
2. Foreclosures      2.20 10am
3. Haiti             2.20 10am
4. CUAPB             2.20 1:30pm
5. Northtown vigil   2.20 2pm
6. Race in Cuba      2.20 2:30pm
7. Film/food         2.20 5pm
8. Change repressed  2.20 6:30pm
9. IWW/film          2.20 7pm
10. Afghan/Obama     2.20 7pm

11. Stillwater vigil 2.21 1pm
12. Amnesty Intl     2.21 3pm
13. Civil rights/f   2.21 6:30pm

14. Ralph Nader - King Obesity/ the empire of empty calories
15. Dean Baker  - Paralysis on the Hill/ dysfunctional democracy
16. Paul Street - Colonial war media: a recent issue of the New York Times
17. PC Roberts  - Wall Street targets the elderly/ looting social security

--------1 of 17--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 2.20 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


--------2 of 17--------

From: Lynette Malles <lynettemalles [at] msn.com>
Subject: Foreclosures 2.20 10am

Town Hall Meeting led by Reps. Karen Clark, Jeff Hayden, and Linda
Berglund

Please join us if you are available as we raise our voices in support of a
two-year moratorium on foreclosures and evictions! Help spread the word.
(This town hall meeting has not been widely publicized.)

Center for Changing Lives at Lutheran Social Services
2400 Park Ave. South, Minneapolis, 55404
10am-noon

Minnesota Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign PO Box 6316 MPLS,
MN 55406-9998
www.mnppehrc.wordpress.com<http://www.mnppehrc.wordpress.com/>


--------3 of 17--------

From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com>

Coffee Hour: Haiti-The day the earth shook - Feb. 20
Saturday, February 20th
10:00am-11:45am
At the Resource Center of the Americas
Presented in English

Please help us raise $500 at this event for the Institute for Justice &
Democracy in Haiti (http://www.ijdh.org/). Nobody will be turned away for
lack of funds.

Members of the Haiti Justice Committee will discuss the ongoing recovery
efforts, the numerous local groups responding with relief aid, and what we
can be looking for in the official US response that will signal a new
relationship with the Haitian people, including a recognition of the
sovereignty of the Haitian government. Joelle Vitiello, Chair of the
French Dept., Macalester College, was an eye-witness to the earthquake,
and local Haitian-Americans have been in contact with family and
colleagues in Haiti.


--------4 of 17--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com>
Subject: CUAPB 2.20 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue
South http://www.CUAPB.org

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


--------5 of 17--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.20 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


--------6 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Race in Cuba 2.20 2:30pm

Discussion on Race in Cuba

Saturday, February 20, 2:30 to 6:00 p.m. University of Minnesota, Carlson
School of Management, 321 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis. An important
discussion on race in Cuba has been taking place recently between Cubans,
Afro-Americans and Cubans themselves. Hear a panel discussion with live
audio from Cuba. Hear Esteban Morales, Professor Economics and Political
Science at the University of Havana (via audio from Cuba); Raudemar
Hernandez Abreu, Cuban-American, Priest of Ifa; Anya Achtenberg, organizer
of the January 2010 Writer and Artists Delegation to Cuba; August Nimtz,
Professor of Political Science at the U of M; Gary Prevost, Professor of
Political Science at St. John's University; and Diana Newberry, US worker
who has traveled to Cuba several times. Sponsored by: the Minnesota Cuba
Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Visit www.minnesotacubacommittee.org.


--------7 of 17--------

From: Socialist Appeal <new [at] socialistappeal.org>
Subject: Film/food 2.20 5pm

WIL and HOV Office Moving Party! Spread the Word!

Join the Workers International League and Hands Off Venezuela as we say
goodbye to our old office space in NE Minneapolis!

For the last three years, we have used this space to coordinate the work
of the WIL and Hands Off Venezuela in Minneapolis and nationally. We have
held literally hundreds of meetings, shown dozens of films, and packaged
and mailed thousands of copies of Socialist Appeal. Unfortunately, the
landlord has decided he wants to use the space in order to expand the
Erte restaurant downstairs. Therefore, we are moving out and looking for
a new space! Unfortunately, new space will be more expensive, so we are
holding a fundraiser in order help with the rising costs!

Join us as we close this chapter of our history and look forward to the
new!

February 20, 2010
1314 University Ave, NE Suite #200
(On the corner of University and 13th in NE, in the same building as Erte
Restaurant. Entrance is on University Ave., across the street from the
331 Club. If outside entrance is locked, call 651-373-7609 to be let
in. Up the stairs to the left of the bathrooms, first door on the left)

5:00 pm - "The People Speak," a film by Howard Zinn. In honor of Zinn's
recent death, we will be showing his last major work. The film features
the actual words (in letters, songs, poems, speeches, and manifestoes) of
rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from our past--and present--including
Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Bob Dylan, Langston Hughes, Chief
Joseph, Muhammad Ali, and unknown veterans, union workers, abolitionists,
and many others never featured in high school textbooks. These dramatic
moments from U.S. history are brought to life by a group of remarkable
musicians and actors. The film will be followed by an informal discussion.

6:30 pm - Food, music, conversation! We will have snacks, food, beverages
of all kinds. We'll be here until at least 9:00 pm so stop by anytime!

ALSO:
 *  Free sample issue of Socialist Appeal to everyone who comes!
 *  Discounted Socialist Appeal subscriptions - just $10 for an entire
    year!
 *  20% off all Wellred books, booklets and T-Shirts in stock!
 *  Stickers and buttons just 2 x $1!

Come support the work of the WIL and HOV and the struggle for a better
world! We are asking a $5 to $20 donation, including the film, food,
beverages, etc., but no one will be turned away for lack of funds! Come
join us for informal discussion on the Venezuelan, Latin American, and
World Revolutions, socialism, Marxism, and more! If you can't join us, but
would still like to contribute toward this fundraiser, you can donate
online: www.wellredusa.com

For more information, please contact John Peterson at 651-373-7609
or wil [at] socialistappeal.org.
www.socialistappeal.org www.ushov.org www.marxist.com www.wellredusa.com


--------8 of 17--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Change & repression 2.20 6:30pm

"State Repression and Social Movements: Grand Juries, the Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act, and Community Activism"

A talk with legendary radical attorney Stu Sugarman and Professor David N.
Pellow

Saturday, February 20th, potluck at 6:30pm, talk at 7pm
Social Science Building Room 1114, University of Minnesota campus

On the anniversary of the arrest of the AETA 4, join sociologists,
attorneys, and community activists to learn about the history of state
repression directed at activists and scholars involved in social change
movements.

Information will be provided on the defense of the following activists:
 -the AETA 4, four Santa Cruz activists facing "animal enterprise
terrorism" charges for sidewalk-chalking and other 1st-amendment-protected
activities
 -Scott DeMuth, a grand jury resister now facing false charges of "animal
enterprise terrorism"
 -Carrie Feldman, currently in her third month of incarceration in Iowa
for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury

Sponsored by Scholars for Academic Justice, Earth Warriors are OK!
(EWOK!), the Coldsnap Legal Collective, the Scott and Carrie Support
Committee, and the Minnesota Global Justice Project


--------9 of 17--------

From: Erik Forman <erik.forman [at] gmail.com>
Subject: IWW/film 2.20 7pm

In Honor of Black History Month, the Twin Cities Industrial Workers of
the World presents...
"AT THE RIVER I STAND"
Film Screening and Discussion

AND release of 7 new original new poster prints celebrating the
intersection of Black history and labor history

7:00pm Saturday February 20
IWW Office- 79 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis

*FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC*

More about the film, from California Newsreel:
Memphis, Spring 1968, marked the dramatic climax of the Civil Rights
movement. At the River I Stand skillfully reconstructs the two eventful
months that transformed a local labor dispute into a national
conflagration, and disentangles the complex historical forces that came
together with the inevitability of tragedy at the death of Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. This 58-minute documentary brings into sharp relief
issues that have only become more urgent in the intervening years: the
connection between economic and civil rights, the debate over violent
vs. nonviolent change, and the demand for full inclusion of African
Americans in American life.

In the 1960s, Memphis' 1,300 sanitation workers formed the lowest caste
of a deeply racist society, earning so little they qualified for
welfare. In the film, retired workers recall their fear about taking on
the entire white power structure when they struck for higher wages and
union recognition.

But local civil rights leaders and the Black community soon realized the
strike was part of the struggle for economic justice for all African
Americans. Through stirring historical footage we see the community
mobilizing behind the strikers, organizing mass demonstrations and an
Easter boycott of downtown businesses. The national leadership of AFSCME
put the international union's full resources behind the strike. One day,
a placard appeared on the picket lines which in its radical simplicity
summed up the meaning of the strike: "I am a man."

In March, Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Memphis as part of his Poor
People's Campaign to expand the civil rights agenda to the economy. The
film recreates the controversies between King's advisors, local leaders,
and younger militants - debates that led to open conflict. When young
hotheads turned King's protest march into a violent confrontation with
the brutal Memphis policy, King left.

King and the nation realized his leadership and nonviolent strategy had
been threatened. King felt obliged to return to Memphis to resume a
nonviolent march despite the by-now feverish racial tensions. The film
captures the deep sense of foreboding that pervaded King's final "I have
been to the mountaintop" speech. The next day, April 4, 1968, he was
assassinated.

Four days later, thousands from Memphis and around the country rallied
to pull off King's nonviolent march. The city council crumbled and
granted most of the strikers' demands. Those 1,300 sanitation workers
had shown they could successfully challenge the entrenched economic
structure of the South.

The 1992 fires of Los Angeles, the endemic inner-city unemployment and
the growing disparity between rich and poor, make clear that the issues
Martin Luther King, Jr. raised in his last days have yet to be
addressed. At the River I Stand succeeds in showing that the causes of
(and possibly the solutions to) our present racial quandary may well be
found in what happened in Memphis. Its riveting portrait of the grit and
determination of ordinary people will inspire viewers to re-dedicate
themselves to racial and economic justice.


--------10 of 17--------

From: jtmiller jtmiller <jtmiller [at] minn.net>
Subject: Afghan/Obama 2.20 7pm

Working Democracy Meetup Group

Discussion Forum
Obama & Afghanistan: Vote Peace, Get War
Is lasting peace possible under capitalism?
Saturday Feb. 20, 7:00 pm
MayDay Bookstore

Book Club
"Value, Price & Profit," by Karl Marx
How capital exploits labor
Friday Feb 26, 7:00 pm
MayDay Bookstore


--------11 of 17--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 2.21 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------12 of 17--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 2.21 3pm

GROUP 37 MONTHLY MEETING: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21 - 3 TO 5 P.M.

Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, February 21st, from 3:00 to
5:00 p.m.

We will share actions on human rights cases around the world and get
updates on the work of our sub-groups.

All are welcome, and refreshments will be provided.

Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis
(corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot
behind the Center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn).

A map and directions are available on-line:
http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html


--------13 of 17--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Civil rights/films 2.21 6:30pm

Opposition to War and Occupation wrote:
The course will begin Sunday, February 21st, 2010 from 6:30-9pm at Mayday
Books

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Screening & Discussion Series presented by
Opposition to War & Occupation (OWO) through the Twin Cities Experimental
College (EXCO)

This course is designed for those looking to gain a preliminary
understanding of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in combination
with a more general discussion of the ideas of anti-racism,
pacifism/non-violence, and militancy. We will be viewing Eyes on the Prize
in 1-hour increments. Eyes on the Prize is an award-winning 14-hour
television series produced by Blackside

<http://www.blackside-inc.com/> and narrated by Julian Bond. Through
contemporary interviews and historical footage, the series covers all of
the major events of the civil rights and Black Power movements from
1954-1985. Series topics range from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to
the Voting Rights Act in 1965; from community power in schools to Black
Power in the streets; from early acts of individual courage to the
emergence of a mass movement and its eventual split.

We will hold discussion directly following each screening, which will be
supplemented by optional readings. While each session is open to all, we
would like to encourage people to come consistently in order to have an
ongoing discussion that addresses what we've cumulatively gained form
tracing this history. It should be noted that this course is being led
by white activists who are interested in understanding the civil rights
movement both as a way of developing anti-racist/solidarity practices and
also in order to better understand the historical origins of tactics
employed in all forms of justice organizing.

6:30-9pm every other Sunday evening at Mayday Books, beginning February
21st, 2010--free and open to all.

To register for the course, visit www.excotc.org <http://www.excotc.org/>
or contact us at oppositiontowarandoccupation [at] gmail.com
<mailto:oppositiontowarandoccupation [at] gmail.com>.

Opposition to War & Occupation (OWO)
http://www.oppositiontowarandoccupation.info
<http://www.oppositiontowarandoccupation.info/>

/Opposition to War & Occupation is a Twin Cities based education and
solidarity group working to build a culture of direct action in resistance
to US-sponsored war and occupation, here and abroad./


--------14 of 17--------

The Empire of Empty Calories
King Obesity
By RALPH NADER
February 18, 2010
CounterPunch

King Obesity sat grandly on a huge hassock atop a throne composed of
solidified animal fat surveying his domain. The last thirty years have
been bullish for Obesity, during which the number of seriously overweight
children in America tripled. Eating fat, sugary and salty food while
sitting for hours daily looking at video screens, being bused to and from
school, and not having to bother with physical education, millions of lads
and lassies were following orders.

An agitated messenger arrived in the throne room, breathing heavily from
his travels. "Oh, my liege, Obesity, I have disturbing news. Michelle
Obama, the First Lady, is launching a nationwide project she calls 'Let's
Move' to combat childhood obesity and shed billions of pounds of your
stuff. She claims that success would reduce all types of diseases now and
later, save on medical costs, as well as raise the energy level and
self-esteem of millions of children. Here, Your Eminence, are the complete
details of her plan".

Obesity was a hard person to agitate. He had heard of these campaigns
before. They went nowhere. He shook his heavy jowls and rubbed his
many-layered belly, which was his way of saying "ho, hum, here we go
again".

His fleshy fingers clutched the plan by those people he always called the
"lean and meaners," and saw that improvement in the school lunch program's
menu, exercise at school, farmers' markets and community gardens were at
the top of the action list. Obesity chortled at his adversaries' naivete
and reticence.

For some reason, they avoided the real causes of his success in pouring
massive amounts of empty calories into the mouths and down the throats of
these children who cry out for more and more of them.

It is all about who owns the tongues of these youngsters, not who reaches
their brains, mused Obesity. Ownership, Obesity knew, belonged to his most
faithful allies - the vast fast food and food processing industry and
their clever advertisers. For decades these companies have transformed
millions of young tongues into fast food first responders.

The tongue has been turned against the brain for so long that the kids'
parents and even some grandparents accept this conditioned response. Look
what they head for in the movies, what they choose in the supermarkets,
what they order in the chain restaurants and takeouts. It's all about the
pipeline full of enlarged amounts of sugar, fat and salt, dude! Hour after
hour, day after day, these pipelines are flowing to the delight of their
video-addicted young customers.

Obesity has been defeating his principal opponents - Knowledge, Nutrition,
and Health - for so long, he sleeps most of the day when he is not eating.
So, Michelle Obama is going to concentrate on the schools. Hah, not a
chance unless she wants a rebellion of the kids, whose habit is to cast
aside much of the cooked and raw vegetables even when they're hungry. The
school vending machines are stocked with the perfect junk food and nearby
stores can make up for any lack of ready supply.

So, though knowing better, school lunch managers, to quell any unrest,
load up on sugar-glazed cookies called Crunchmania Cinnamon Buns and
sugar-laden cereals for breakfast. At lunch there are dollops of modified
cornstarch, lipolyzed butter oil, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar-flavored
milk.

It wasn't accidental that McDonald's most successful words to get children
to nag their parents were "It's a Child's World". So, if sincere schools
can't get the children to eat their fruits and vegetables, what about the
burdened, commuting parents? Can they overcome the daily barrage of junk
food and drink that shapes their children into Pavlovian specimens - mere
conditioned responders? Don't be silly. They eat from the same menu.

Obesity continues to bet on the children's tongues as wards of the
irresistible junk food companies. After all, his ranks keep swelling and
the Fat Pride movement is picking up steam.

The messenger, standing with military erectness, deferentially asked: "Oh
master, what are you thinking?" Obesity looked down on him and rendered
his conclusion: "So long as the lean and meaners do not focus on the
battle for the tongues and their captors and instead concentrate on
presenting nutritious foods to children while explaining why and how they
are good for them, I say to you and all messengers of these tidings, do
not worry, Obesity is and will continue to be king".

"Why," he continued, "just a few days before Michelle Obama's multimedia
White House event announcing 'Let's Move' with former NFL runner, Tiki
Barber, Barack Obama was with a group of schoolchildren. As if being at
the White House was not enough excitement for the students, what did Mr.
Obama do? He presented each of them with a box of red, white and blue M&Ms
imprinted with the Presidential seal and his signature, no less".

With that pontification, a smiling Obesity picked up a dozen triple deck
cheeseburgers, a gallon of thick ice cream milk shakes, 100 Hostess
Twinkies, topped off with a bucket of sweetened lard to start his third
meal of the day.

Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel.


--------15 of 17--------

Paralysis on the Hill
Dysfunctional Democracy
By DEAN BAKER
February 18, 2010
CounterPunch

Those outside the United States may be surprised how the loss of a Senate
seat in the state of Massachusetts in a special election can paralyze the
Obama Administration. After all, it was just over a year ago that
President Obama was elected by the largest margin for any Democrat in more
than 40 years. He still enjoys large majorities in both houses of
Congress. Even after losing the Massachusetts seat he still enjoys a
59-to-41 majority in the Senate, a larger margin than any president of
either party has had since the 60s.

Yet, President Obama appears unable to move most of his agenda forward.
First and foremost, the health care bill that had been the main focus of
his attention in his first year in office now appears to be dead. Both
houses had approved versions of the bill, but there were still substantial
differences that had to be resolved before a final bill could be sent to
President Obama to sign. Now that the Democrats no longer have 60 members
in the Senate, it seems unlikely that they can get the votes needed to
bring a final bill to the floor for a vote.

The same problem applies to almost everything else on President Obama.s
agenda. Financial reform legislation looks highly unlikely given the
prospect of unanimous Republican opposition. Any major jobs proposal will
almost certainly face the same obstacle. Serious measures to limit global
warming are almost inconceivable. In fact, President Obama can't even get
many of his appointees approved by the Senate and must now run his
administration with interim appointees occupying key positions just below
the cabinet level.

This is a new story in U.S. politics. The key issue is the rules in the
Senate that allow a minority of 40 members to obstruct legislation,
presidential appointees or any other order of business. The rules are not
new, with relatively minor modifications they date back to the 19th
century. What is new is the willingness of a minority party to use these
rules to obstruct almost any order of business by the Senate.

In prior decades, the rules were very infrequently used to obstruct
legislation that otherwise enjoyed majority support. The most famous
example of the use of these rules to block the majority's will was the
effort to obstruct civil rights legislation in the 50s and 60s. This
legislation gave the federal government a direct role in ensuring the
voting and legal rights of African Americans, over-riding state laws that
made them second class citizens. The legislation was blocked for years
over the issue of states' rights (the basis for the U.S. Civil War in the
19th century).

However deplorable the cause of this obstruction, no one could dispute its
importance. Senators were prepared to defend their obstruction of majority
rule based on their belief in the principle of states' rights. No one can
argue that the obstruction of nearly every aspect of President Obama's
agenda or his appointees (most of whom have solid records of achievement
and public service) is based on such fundamental principles.

The explanation for this obstructionism rests on a fundamentally different
dynamic in U.S. politics. In past years, the minority party took advantage
of the Senate's rule sparingly, because they feared being portrayed as
obstructionists. This was seen most recently in the Democrats' reluctance
to block funding for the Iraq War under President Bush, even though the
vast majority of Democrats were strongly opposed to the war and especially
President Bush's conduct of the war. Democrats refused to use Senate rules
to obstruct funding because they feared being portrayed as undermining our
troops. Therefore they always let the funding requests go through
unchallenged.

The Republicans see a different calculus today. They know that few people
follow the details of politics closely. For the most part people know what
gets done, not how it happened it or what stopped things from getting
done. In the case of the health care bill, people will know if it passes.
If it doesn't pass, the public will see that President Obama, even with
Democrats controlling both the House and Senate, was unable to deliver the
health care reform that he had promised. President Obama and the Democrats
will be held responsible for this failure, not the Republicans who
obstructed the bill.

The same holds true for all the other items on his agenda. In particular,
Obama has been stifled on every aspect of his stimulus agenda. He
originally downsized his stimulus proposal, asking for just two-thirds of
what his top economist considered necessary, in order to make it more
palatable to Republicans. He ended up getting even less than this
scale-downed package. With the downturn even steeper than projected, the
economy now faces high rates of unemployment long into the future with
little prospect of effective government response.

The prospect of high unemployment and economic stagnation in the United
States may be bad news for people here and in the rest of the world, but
it is likely good politics for the Republican Party. For the moment, this
Republican agenda is likely to dominate American politics.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy
Research (CEPR). He is the author of Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and
Fall of the Bubble Economy and False Profits: Recoverying From the Bubble
Economy.

This column was originally published by The Hankyoreh (South Korea)


--------16 of 17--------

Colonial War Media: Reflections on a Recent Issue of the New York Times
By Paul Street
Saturday, February 20, 2010Paul Street's ZSpace Page

"Frightening" Marines With Bullets

"Oh My, Colonial Subjects Are Shooting Back". That would have been a good
title for a recent New York Times story on the U.S. military assault on
Marja, in Afghanistan's HelmandProvince.  Times reporter C.J. Chivers
reports breathlessly that "Five Marines have been struck in recent days by
bullets at long range".

Yes, it appears that some natives are firing back - with guns and bullets.
Goodness.

According to Chivers, "Almost every American infantryman" involved in the
Marja campaign "has had frightening close calls".  Chivers mentions "lone
bullets striking doorjambs beside their faces as Marines peeked around
corners, single rounds cracking by just overhead as Marines looked over
mud walls, and bullets slamming into the dirt beside them...". [1]
Imagine.

"You Strap on a Gun and go Struttin' Around Some Other Man's Country..."

Yes, the colonials are coming at "our" brave young troops with live
ammunition. What next? I wonder if Chivers and his editors ever heard the
following bit from the admittedly arch-cynical comedian George Carlin's
2005 "Life is Worth Losing" show:  "When all those beheadings started in
Iraq," Carlin ranted, "it didn't bother me. A lot of people here were
horrified, 'Whaaaa, beheadings! Beheadings!' What, are you fucking
surprised? Just one more form of extreme human behavior". Further:

"Besides, who cares about some mercenary from Oklahoma who gets his head
cut off? Hey Jack, you don't want to get your head cut off? Stay the fuck
in Oklahoma. They ain't cuttin' off heads in Oklahoma, far as I know. But
I do know this: you strap on a gun and go struttin' around some other
man's country, you'd better be ready for some action, Jack. People are
touchy about that sort of thing... And let me ask you this... this is a
moral question, not rhetorical, I'm looking for the answer: what is the
moral difference between cuttin' off one guy's head, or two, or three, or
five, or ten - and dropping a big bomb on a hospital and killing a whole
bunch of sick kids? Has anybody in authority given you an explanation of
the [moral] difference?.

Strong stuff, to be sure, but Carlin had a point - he usually did.

Stray Kalashnikovs v. 250-Pound Bombs

Of course, the American troops in Afghanistan are mainly working class
kids with few job options - pawns who have been ordered into bloody
colonial war. And the United States has a bit more than rifles in its
arsenal when it comes to countering scary attacks - with, yes, bullets -
from Afghan militants in Marja. Chivers reports that U.S. forces have
responded to Taliban sniper fire with "mortars, artillery, helicopter
attack gunships, and airstrikes".  After one rifle "ambush" against
American soldiers, U.S. Marine Capt. Akil R. Bacchus put in a call for
assistance from above.   "About a minute later," Chivers writes, "a
250-pound GPS-guided bomb whooshed past overhead and slammed into the
compound with a thunderous explosion".

"After the airstrike, two pairs of attack helicopters were cleared to
strafe a set of bunkers and canals that the Taliban fighters had been
firing from".

"They climbed high over the canal and bore down toward a tree line, guns
and rockets firing. Explosions tossed soil and made the ground shudder".

With the Pashtun snipers pulverized (along with any civilians who might
have been in their vicinity), U.S. Marines First Platoon was free to
continue clearing "insurgents" from the colonial hinterland.


An Unimaginable Headline

Chivers' article is titled "Snipers Imperil U.S.-Led [2] Forces in
Afghanistan".  Imagine a New York Times article (front page or anywhere
else) titled "World's Only Military Superpower Imperils Afghanistan".
Uncle Sam has killed many thousands of Afghanis - mainly civilians - in
countless bombings (wedding parties have been a recurrent target), missile
and artillery attacks, strafing assaults, and executions since October of
2001. The attacks have continued and indeed escalated into the Age of
Obama, who has made good on his campaign promise to escalate the "good
war" in Afghanistan [3]. Nobody in a position of imperial authority has
been willing to respond to George Carlin by explaining the moral
difference between Muslim beheadings and American bombings of Afghan
villages and wedding parties.


"Air Warfare" (Supposedly) Hampered By (Supposed Excessive) Concern About
"Dead Civilians"

An Op-Ed by the cold-blooded U.S.  "intelligence analyst" Lara Dadkhah in
the same day's Times (Thursday, February 18, 2010)  decries the supposed
terrible impact of "new air warfare rules" on "our troops"  in
Afghanistan.

"Air warfare"? Have Taliban fighters sent up propeller planes to shoot
bullets at "our" pilots? No.

"Air warfare" is Dadkhah'e term for bombing runs by U.S. warplanes, which
meet no resistance in the air beyond the occasional flocks of
(Islamo-terrorist and al Qaeda trained?) geese.

Didkhah's opinion piece is titled "Empty Skies Over Afghanistan".  It
worries about American and NATO leaders' concern not to be seen as killing
"an inordinate number of civilians". This consideration is making "our
soldiers" wait an hour or more for air support as U.S. officials
(allegedly) work to distinguish "enemy" fighters from "innocent"
bystanders. Some U.S. troops have been shot while waiting for the U.S.
forces units to wage "air warfare" against the dastardly enemy, which
insists on defending their lands from foreign assault.

The "pendulum has swing too far in favor of avoiding the death of
innocents," Dadkhah proclaims.  Hardly bashful about announcing his
willingness to embrace the unavoidable slaughter of bystanders, Dadkhah
wishes to disabuse readers of the childish "premise that dead civilians
are harmful to the conduct of war. The trouble is," he writes, "no
previous war supplies compelling proof of that claim".

 Look, let's be real, Dadkah argues, "wars are ugly" and "harmful to
civilians".  But they must be fought, of course.  The doctrinal assumption
that We (the U.S) are Good, noble, and well-intentioned in our foreign
policies is ubiquitous in U.S. dominant media and indeed across the
spectrum of respectable opinion in the "mainstream" political and
intellectual culture. You can't get on the supposedly left New York Times'
Op Ed page if you question that childish nationalistic premise, which Lara
Dadkhah automatically and almost invisibly embraces. The front-page story
twenty pages ahead of Dadkhah's opinion piece suggests that U.S. "air
warfare"  is less than completely inhibited and slowed-down by the
crippling rules of engagement imposed by such noted pacifists and
humanitarians as Gen. Stanley McChrystal [4]. Col. Bacchus'. wait-time for
the launching of American weapons of mass destruction from on high - what
Lara Dadkhah called "air warfare" - was one minute.

"As Illegal as the Invasion of Iraq"

 There's something missing from both Chivers' reflexive angst over the
horror of Taliban fighters shooting rifles at Marines and Dadkhah's
willingness to embrace the butchering of civilians.  The absent ingredient
is the simple, brazen, and imperial criminality of the U.S. military
presence in Afghanistan. Throughout the national "debate" over Obama's
"Afghanistan options" in the summer and fall of 2009, there was no
discussion outside marginal left circles of the fact that the initial
bombing and invasion of the Afghanistan took place in bold defiance of
international law forbidding aggressive war. Sold as a legitimate
defensive response to the September 2001 jetliner attacks, it was
undertaken without definitive proof or knowledge that that country's
Taliban government was responsible in any way for 9/11. It occurred after
the Bush administration rebuffed offers by that government to extradite
accused 9/11 planners to stand trial in the U.S. It sought to destroy the
Taliban government with no legal claim to introduce regime change in
another nation. It took place over the protest of numerous Afghan
opposition leaders and against the warnings of aid organizations who
expected a U.S. attack to produce a humanitarian catastrophe. U.S. claims
to possess the right to bomb Afghanistan - an action certain to produce
significant casualties - raised the interesting question of whether Cuba
and Nicaragua were entitled to set off bombs in the U.S. given the fact
that the U.S. provided shelter to well-known terrorists known to have
conducted murderous attacks on the Cuban and Nicaraguan people and
governments [5].

The United States' attack on Afghanistan met none of the standard
international moral and legal criteria for justifiable self-defense and
occurred without reasonable consultation with the United Nations Security
Council. As prominent legal scholar Marjorie Cohn noted in July of 2008,
"the invasion of Afghanistan was as illegal as the invasion of Iraq".  As
Cohn explained, the U.N. Charter requires member states to settle
international disputes by peaceful means.  Nations are permitted to use
military force only in self-defense or when authorized by the Security
Council. After 9/11, the Council passed two resolutions, neither of which
authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan. Assaulting that
country was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the Charter
since the jetliner assaults were criminal attacks, not "armed attacks" by
another country. Afghanistan did not attack the U.S. and 15 of the 19 9/11
hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there was no "imminent
threat of an armed attack on the United States after September 11 or Bush
would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001
bombing campaign". As Cohn added, "The necessity for self-defense must be
'instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for
deliberation'.' This classic principle of self-defense in international
law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the U.N. General
Assembly.[6].

Not surprisingly, an international Gallup poll released after the bombing
was announced showed that global opposition was overwhelming. In 34 of the
37 countries Gallup surveyed, majorities opposed a military attack on
Afghanistan, preferring that 9/11 be treated as a criminal matter rather
than as a pretext for war. Even in the U.S., just 54% supported war [7].
"In Latin America, which has some experience with US behavior," Noam
Chomsky noted, "support [for the U.S. assault] ranged from 2% in Mexico,
to 18% in Panama, and that support was conditional on the culprits being
identified (they still weren't eight months later, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation reported) and civilian targets being spared (they were
attacked at once). There was an overwhelming preference in the world for
diplomatic/judicial measures, rejected out of hand by [Washington,
claiming to represent] "the world'" [8].

If it was the Other Way Around...

The late George Carlin's (understandable) cynicism aside, one should
hardly want to see young working class American women and men subjected to
sniper fire, IED attacks, and/or other forms of violence in Afghanistan or
anywhere else.  But U.S. troops are at once agents and hostages of an
Empire that has no legitimate moral or true legal basis for invading and
attacking Afghanistan (or Pakistan or Iraq or Somalia or Yemen or Iran
or - fill in the blank).  At the same time, the "insurgents" on the other
side of "our" (Empire's) guns (and cannons and tanks and missiles, and
bombs, and drones) have the fully legitimate right to resist "our"
colonial incursions with force.  The Times reports with sensitivity on the
fear and exhaustion experienced by U.S. troops "ambushed" by snipers in a
foreign country their masters have illegally invaded. But of course their
"ambushers" are doing exactly what many Americans would proudly do to
Russian or Chinese troops order to take over part of, say, California. And
imagine Dadkhah writing so coldly about the unavoidable necessity of a
certain number of "ugly" civilian casualties in a Chinese assault on, say,
Honolulu.  These inverted scenarios are absurd, of course, but the point
of imagining them is not.  It is to suggest how nationalistic doctrine
prohibits an honest discussion of what "we" are really doing in the world.

Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com)is the author of many articles,
chapters, speeches, and books, including Empire and Inequality: America
and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); Racial Oppression
in the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007; Segregated
School: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York:
Routledge, 2005); and Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics
(Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008). Street.s next book The Empire.s New
Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm,
2010), will be released next summer. Street's article "The Enemy At Home"
will appear in the March 2010 issue of Z Magazine,on newsstands.

NOTES

1. C.J. Chivers, .Snipers Imperil U.S.-Led Forces in Afghanistan,. New
York Times, February 18, 2010, A1.

2. The use of the phrase .U.S.-led. is meant to downplay the fact that the
United States is by far and away the real force behind the imperial
violence.

3. .Peace prize? He's a killer." Thus spoke a young Pashtun man to an Al
Jazeera English reporter on ecember 10, 2009 - the day that Obama was
given the Nobel Peace Prize. "Obama,. the man added, .has only brought war
to our country.. The man spoke from the village of Armal, where a crowd of
100 gathered around the bodies of 12 people, one family from a single
home.  The 12 were killed, witnesses reported, by U.S. Special Forces
during a late night raid. "Why are they giving Obama a peace medal?"
another village resident asked. "He claims to want to bring security to us
but he brings only death. Death to him" Al Jazeera went to the Afghan
village of Bola Boluk, where a U.S. bombing butchered dozens of civilians
last spring.  "He doesn't deserve the award," a young woman said. "He
bombed us and left us with nothing, not even a home" See Aljazeera
English, "Afghans Anger at Obama's Nobel Peace Prize," YouTube (December
10, 2009) qt www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBHrnQTinGY&feature=related

4. For some instructive reflections on McChrystal.s
blood-soaked/death-squad past, see Tom Engelhardt, .The Pressure of an
Expanding War,. TomDispatch.com (May 21, 2009), read at
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175074/the_pressure_of_an_expanding_war;
Alexander Cockburn, .How Long Does it Take?. CounterPunch (May 23 2009),
read online at http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn05222009.html

5. Noam Chomsky, Hegemony Over Survival: America's Quest for Global
Dominance (New York: Metropolitan, 2003), pp. 199-206.  See also Rajul
Mahajan, The New Crusade: America's War on Terror (New York: Monthly
Review, 2002), p. 21.

6. Marjorie Cohn, "End the Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan,. ZNet (July
30, 2008), read at
http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/18303.Many defenders of
the invasion, Democrats as well as Republicans, upheld Bush's right to
attack prior to UN consultation by making the analogy of a maniac who had
broken into your house and already killed some residents: "do you sit and
around a negotiate with the murderers while they kill more or do you go in
and take them out?" But, as Rajul Mahajan argued, "the analogy to the U.S.
action would have been better if the maniac had died in the attack, and
your response was to bomb a neighborhood he had been staying in, killing
many people who didn't even know of his existence - even though you had
your own police force constantly on the watch for more attacks." By this
analogy, the U.S. would have also been allowed to bomb the German
neighborhoods in which many of the 9/11 conspirators planned their
operation.

7. Abid Aslam, .Polls Question Support for Military Campaign,. Inter Press
Service, October 8, 2001; Gallup International, Gallup International Poll
on Terrorism .(September 2001); Edward S. Herman and David Peterson,  ..
Obama.s Foreign Policy Report Card.: Juan Cole Grades His President . and
Very Positively,. MR Zine (November 9, 2009), at
http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/hp091109.html

8. Noam Chomsky, .The World According to Washington,. Asia Times (February
28, 2008).


--------17 of 17--------

Wall Street Targets the Elderly
Looting Social Security
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
CounterPunch
February 19 - 21, 2010

Hank Paulson, the Gold Sacks bankster/US Treasury Secretary, who
deregulated the financial system, caused a world crisis that wrecked the
prospects of foreign banks and governments, caused millions of Americans
to lose retirement savings, homes, and jobs, and left taxpayers burdened
with multi-trillions of dollars of new US debt, is still not in jail. He
is writing in the New York Times urging that the mess he caused be fixed
by taking away from working Americans the Social Security and Medicare for
which they have paid in earmarked taxes all their working lives.

Wall Street's approach to the poor has always been to drive them deeper
into the ground.

As there is no money to be made from the poor, Wall Street fleeces them by
yanking away their entitlements. It has always been thus. During the
Reagan administration, Wall Street decided to boost the values of its bond
and stock portfolios by using Social Security revenues to lower budget
deficits. Wall Street figured that lower deficits would mean lower
interest rates and higher bond and stock prices.

Two Wall Street henchmen, Alan Greenspan and David Stockman, set up the
Social Security raid in this way: The Carter administration had put Social
Security in the black for the foreseeable future by establishing a
schedule for future Social Security payroll tax increases. Greenspan and
Stockman conspired to phase in the payroll tax increases earlier than was
needed in order to gain surplus Social Security revenues that could be
used to finance other government spending, thus reducing the budget
deficit. They sold it to President Reagan as "putting Social Security on a
sound basis".

Along the way Americans were told that the surplus revenues were going
into a special Social Security trust fund at the U.S. Treasury. But what
is in the fund is Treasury IOUs for the spent revenues. When the "trust
funds" are needed to pay Social Security benefits, the Treasury will have
to sell more debt in order to redeem the IOUs.

Social Security was mugged again during the Clinton administration when
the Boskin Commission jimmied the Consumer Price Index in order to reduce
the inflation adjustments that Social Security recipients receive, thus
diverting money from Social Security retirees to other uses.

We constantly hear from Wall Street gangsters and from Republicans and an
occasional Democrat that Social Security and Medicare are a form of
welfare that we can't afford, an "unfunded liability". This is a lie.
Social Security is funded with an earmarked tax. People pay for Social
Security and Medicare all their working lives. It is a pay-as-you-go
system in which the taxes paid by those working fund those who are
retired.

Currently these systems are not in deficit. The problem is that government
is using earmarked revenues for other purposes. Indeed, since the 1980s
Social Security revenues have been used to fund general government. Today
Social Security revenues are being used to fund trillion dollar bailouts
for Wall Street and to fund the Bush/Obama wars of aggression against
Muslims.

Having diverted Social Security revenues to war and Wall Street, Paulson
says there is no alternative but to take the promised benefits away from
those who have paid for them.

Republicans have extraordinary animosity toward the poor. In an effort to
talk retirees out of their support systems, Republicans frequently
describe Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and "unsustainable". They ought
to know. The phony trust fund, which they set up to hide the fact that
Wall Street and the Pentagon are running off with Social Security
revenues, is a Ponzi scheme. Social Security itself has been with us since
the 1930s and has yet to wreck our lives and budget. But it only took Hank
Paulson's derivative Ponzi scheme and its bailout a few years to inflict
irreparable damage on our lives and budget. [I wish for irreparable damage
to be inflicted on Hank Paulson. -ed]

Years ago with stagflation defeated and a rising stock market, I favored
privatizing Social Security as a way of creating a funded retirement
system and producing greater savings and larger incomes for retirees. At
that time Wall Street was interested, not for my reasons, but in order to
collect the fees from managing the funds.

Had Social Security been privatized, I doubt that Wall Street would have
been permitted to deregulate the financial system. Too much would have
been at stake.

After the latest crisis brought on by Wall Street's dishonesty and greed,
trusting Wall Street to manage anyone's old age pension requires a leap of
faith that no intelligent person can make.

Wall Street has got away with its raid on the public treasury. Now,
pockets full, it wants to pay for the heist by curtailing Social Security
and Medicare. Having deprived the working population of homes, jobs, and
health care, Wall Street is now after the elderly's old age security.

Social Security, formerly an untouchable "third rail of politics," is now
"unsustainable," while the real unsustainables - a pre-1929 unregulated
financial system and open-ended multi-trillion dollar Global War Against
Terror - are the new untouchables. This transformation signals the
complete capture of American democracy by an oligarchy of special
interests. [I wish for irreparable damage to be inflicted on that
oligarchy of special interests - both collectively and individually.  Let
the bastards suffer even one one-thousandth the pain they're so gleefully
inflicting. -ed]

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an
Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE
ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can
be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com


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