|Progressive Calendar 04.07.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2010 10:45:11 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 04.07.10 1. Obesity epidemic 4.07 12noon 2. Palin/Peanuts 4.07 12noon 3. Merriam/peace 4.07 6pm 4. Wangari Maathai 4.07 6:30pm 5. CRA board 4.07 6:30pm 6. AntiWarMN meets 4.07 7pm 7. Chris Hedges - How the corporations broke Ralph Nader & America, too 8. Noam Chomsky - Globalization marches on 9. Dave Lindorff - Welcome to Obama's war 10. Roger Burbach - Bolivia's Path to Socialism --------1 of 10-------- From: Institute on the Environment <danie419 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Obesity epidemic 4.07 12noon The Institute on the Environment's spring 2010 Frontiers lecture series is now underway. Join us each Wednesday for a presentation and Q&A session, followed by a casual get-together in the IonE Commons. The lectures also air live on the Web. 4/7 - Why We Can't Stop Eating Speaker: Allen Levine, Dean, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences The world is home to 1 billion overweight and 300 million obese people. There are a variety of hypotheses about the cause of the obesity epidemic. This seminar will address the central nervous system controllers that regulate food intake and the rewards associated with ingestion. Lectures take place Wednesdays, noon to 1 p.m, in IonE Seminar Room 380, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus. All lectures are free, no registration required, and also air live on the Web. --------2 of 10-------- From: Rowley Clan <rowleyclan [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Palin/Peanuts 4.07 12noon Come Join the Peanuts Gang Staging Outside the big Palin-Bachmann Rally at noon tomorrow I know it's smack dab in the middle of the workweek but thousands of their fans somehow got the time off and got tickets to go hear these lovely (but clueless) ladies, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann at the Minneapolis Convention Center tomorrow, Wednesday April 7th! Who's interested in helping LUCY and the rest of the PEANUTS GANG offer their "Psychiatric Help" outside the Palin-Bachmann GOP Rally beginning when the doors open at noon (rally starts at 2 pm) at the Convention Center, Minneapolis, on Wednesday April 7th?! Lucy and her friends aren't necessarily counting on taking in a lot of nickels from people going to this event but they decided their psychiatric help might be needed when they discovered the following: The folks at Minnesota-Bachmann Victory Committee are putting the price tag at a whopping $10,000 per couple, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by the Huffington Post. According to the invitation, attendees at the April 7 event in Minneapolis are asked to spend $500 per person for attendance at the General Reception and Dinner; $5,000 for a table of ten; and $10,000 per couple for a "Private Reception with Photo Opportunity. (Included in the latter is a table for ten as well). So anyone who's interested in what's happening, has street theatre skills or just a passion for Charles Schultz classic PEANUTS cartoons should look for Lucy's yellow "Psychiatric Help" shop and come hang out for a while as their favorite "Peanuts" character. --------3 of 10-------- From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] MPPeace.org> Subject: Merriam/peace 4.07 6pm Wednesday, April 7, 2010 2010 Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace Meetings First Wednesday of each month 6:00-7:45 p.m. (Note time change due to reduced library hours) Merriam Park Library - Basement Meeting Room A or B 1831 Marshall Avenue (at Fairview Avenue), St. Paul, MN --------4 of 10-------- >From renee.lepreau [at] gmail.com Wed Apr 7 11:49:27 2010 Subject: Wangari Maathai 4.07 6:30pm "Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai" April 7, 6:30 pm St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 1895 Laurel Ave., St. Paul (west of Fairview). FREE This is a documentary of the extraordinary life of activitis and Nobel Laureate WangariMaathai, a Kenyan woman who has worked to regain ownership of her country and its fate after years of colonialism. While gentle and thoughtful, Maathai carries a powerful message: the First World holds much of the responsibility for the environmental, economic and social struggles of the developing world. Wangari Muta Maathai (born April 1, 1940 in Ihithe village, Tetu division, Nyeri District of Kenya) is a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica College and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. In 2004 she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace." Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005. She is of Kikuyu ethnicity. --------5 of 10-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CRA board 4.07 6:30pm NEXT CRA BOARD MEETING Wednesday, April 7 6:30 p.m. Minneapolis City Hall, Room 333 Please plan to attend the next CRA board meeting and let your voice be heard. Between Chair Bellfield's lawbreaking under the ordinance and his efforts to have Dave Bicking ousted from the board, things are really heating up with the CRA. This next meeting promises to be plenty spicy. There may even be a few surprises. You won't want to miss it! [Amen!] recent background: Date: Fri, 02 Apr 2010 13:21:25 -0500 From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com> Subject: CRA reappointment final vote Well, it all ended quickly, with a whimper not a bang. I am officially no longer a member of the board of the CRA (Mpls Civilian Police Review Authority). As I said in my last update, the slate of recommended appointees was revealed at yesterday's Committee of the Whole, and it did not include me. That slate was brought forward at today's City Council meeting by Don Samuels, chair of the Public Safety Committee. Don waxed eloquent about the virtues of the applicant that was chosen instead of me as the City Council pick for the CRA (the mayor got to make the other three picks this time). He spoke of her being "fair and balanced" - over and over. Clearly the point made was to contrast that to his claims about me. My name was never even mentioned, of course. Then Cam Gordon (Green Party Ward 2 Council member) made his substitute motion: to reappoint me in place of the "recommended" applicant. He mentioned that I had "served admirably" on the CRA, and that my reappointment at least deserved debate and discussion. The other Council members clearly didn't agree - not a single one of them would even second the motion, so it died with no chance for discussion or vote - or even for Cam Gordon to speak in favor of the motion. It is very rare for a motion to not receive a second. I have been pretty diplomatic through all of this, but I have to say: What a bunch of cowards!! Other than Cam Gordon, every Council member and the mayor should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever they think about the merits of my service on the CRA - and I accept that there are legitimate differences of opinion - they should have the guts to say in public why a conscientious, active, and reliable member of the CRA (or any board) should be thrown off the board before even serving a full term. The one constant throughout all of this is that no Council member will express any reason for not reappointing me. I have asked repeatedly, in emails and at the public hearing, for anyone who had any concern about my reappointment, to let me know their concern so I could address it. I have had NO responses. This is very shabby treatment for someone who has put in many hundreds of hours of service to the city. You know what they say about bullies really being cowards inside? Today's action was an example of bullies showing their cowardice. I would accept the results of a fair and open process. This was neither. And while this was particularly blatant, it is a pattern of behavior in our city government. That is the biggest reason why I ran for City Council. Since the election, I have seen an accelerating trend toward arrogant, undemocratic, and unresponsive government. As I've said before, this is not really about me. This is about the protection of those involved in encounters with Mpls police. The real issue is whether there is any control over our police department; will there be any real accountability? Will people abused by the police have anywhere to go where they can be not just "listened to", but where their experience will lead to real consequences? The CRA is an important reform won through years of demands and hard work. Will it be valuable, or will it be window dressing? The answer is still uncertain, but today's Council action says much about their desired direction for the CRA. Quite a burden rests on the new appointees to the CRA. Rather than give my opinion and judge them now, I would prefer to let them show their merit through action. The new members are: Arlene Santiago, a public defender; Dean Kallenbach, former DFL endorsed City Council candidate against Dean Zimmermann in 2001; Pramma Elayaperumal, a young and enthusiastic applicant who has been attending CRA meetings; and Mary Pargo, a social service worker with Pillsbury United Communities and Executive Director of Juneteeth. Mary Pargo was the City Council pick, the other three were appointed by the mayor. The fight for the future of the CRA is not over. Personally, I will continue to attend CRA meetings, even if only as a member of the public. I will continue the research I have been working on. At this point, there is far more attention being paid to the CRA than before. That is a positive development. Often there is more value in the fight than in the outcome of a particular battle. We have much to build on, and we must do that. The next step is the upcoming CRA monthly board meeting on Wednesday, April 7, 6:30pm, in Room 333 of City Hall (enter through after-hours door facing 4th St.). The meeting is open to the public, and public comment is allowed. A big turnout will help demonstrate the community's expectations for the new board. Also please consider coming to tomorrow's meeting of CUAPB (Communities United Against Police Brutality), Saturday, April 3, 1:30pm in the basement of Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. S., Mpls. [See item #2 above - ed] They will surely be strategizing next steps in their relationship with the CRA, and planning for their input at the upcoming CRA board meeting. Thanks to all who have been involved. I am uncomfortable with political action which puts me personally in such a public position, just as my City Council campaign did. The real important issue is the strength we have working together. Even in temporary defeat, we have shown that strength, and the fight is not over. Dave Bicking 612-276-1213 PS. I would be happy to forward any documents, emails, etc. to anyone who is interested. --------6 of 10-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: AntiWarMN meets 4.07 7pm AWC meeting has moved for this week This week we are attending the Ellison Palestine forum and are NOT having our regular meeting on Thursday night. Instead we're meeting at our office at 1313 5th St. SE at 7pm on WEDNESDAY April 7th instead. Next week we will resume having our meeting at 7pm on Thursday night. Peace, Meredith --------7 of 10-------- How the Corporations Broke Ralph Nader and America, Too By Chris Hedges Apr 5, 2010 Truthdig http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_the_corporations_broke_ralph_nader_and_america_too_20100405/ Ralph Nader's descent from being one of the most respected and powerful men in the country to being a pariah illustrates the totality of the corporate coup. Nader's marginalization was not accidental. It was orchestrated to thwart the legislation that Nader and his allies - who once consisted of many in the Democratic Party - enacted to prevent corporate abuse, fraud and control. He was targeted to be destroyed. And by the time he was shut out of the political process with the election of Ronald Reagan, the government was in the hands of corporations. Nader's fate mirrors our own. "The press discovered citizen investigators around the mid-1960s," Nader told me when we spoke a few days ago. "I was one of them. I would go down with the press releases, the findings, the story suggestions and the internal documents and give it to a variety of reporters. I would go to Congress and generate hearings. Oftentimes I would be the lead witness. What was interesting was the novelty; the press gravitates to novelty. They achieved great things. There was collaboration. We provided the newsworthy material. They covered it. The legislation passed. Regulations were issued. Lives were saved. Other civic movements began to flower". Nader was singled out for destruction, as Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan point out in their engaging documentary movie on Nader, "An Unreasonable Man". General Motors had him followed in an attempt to blackmail him. It sent an attractive woman to his neighborhood Safeway supermarket in a bid to meet him while he was shopping and then seduce him; the attempt failed, and GM, when exposed, had to issue a public apology. But far from ending their effort to destroy Nader, corporations unleashed a much more sophisticated and well-funded attack. In 1971, the corporate lawyer and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote an eight-page memo, titled "Attack on American Free Enterprise System," in which he named Nader as the chief nemesis of corporations. It became the blueprint for corporate resurgence. Powell's memo led to the establishment of the Business Roundtable, which amassed enough money and power to direct government policy and mold public opinion. The Powell memo outlined ways corporations could shut out those who, in "the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals," were hostile to corporate interests. Powell called for the establishment of lavishly funded think tanks and conservative institutes to churn out ideological tracts that attacked government regulation and environmental protection. His memo led to the successful effort to place corporate-friendly academics and economists in universities and on the airwaves, as well as drive out those in the public sphere who questioned the rise of unchecked corporate power and deregulation. It saw the establishment of organizations to monitor and pressure the media to report favorably on issues that furthered corporate interests. And it led to the building of legal organizations to promote corporate interests in the courts and appointment of sympathetic judges to the bench. "It was off to the races," Nader said. "You could hardly keep count of the number of right-wing corporate-funded think tanks. These think tanks specialized, especially against the tort system. We struggled through the Nixon and early Ford years, when inflation was a big issue. Nixon did things that horrified conservatives. He signed into law OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency and air and water pollution acts because he was afraid of the people from the rumble that came out of the 1960s. He was the last Republican president to be afraid of liberals". The corporations carefully studied and emulated the tactics of the consumer advocate they wanted to destroy. "Ralph Nader came along and did serious journalism; that is what his early stuff was, such as 'Unsafe at Any Speed,'" the investigative journalist David Cay Johnston told me. "The big books they [Nader and associates] put out were serious, first-rate journalism. Corporate America was terrified by this. They went to school on Nader. They said, 'We see how you do this'. You gather material, you get people who are articulate, you hone how you present this and the corporations copy-catted him with one big difference - they had no regard for the truth. Nader may have had a consumer ideology, but he was not trying to sell you a product. He is trying to tell the truth as best as he can determine it. It does not mean it is the truth. It means it is the truth as best as he and his people can determine the truth. And he told you where he was coming from". The Congress, between 1966 and 1973, passed 25 pieces of consumer legislation, nearly all of which Nader had a hand in authoring. The auto and highway safety laws, the meat and poultry inspection laws, the oil pipeline safety laws, the product safety laws, the update on flammable fabric laws, the air pollution control act, the water pollution control act, the EPA, OSHA and the Environmental Council in the White House transformed the political landscape. Nader by 1973 was named the fourth most influential person in the country after Richard Nixon, Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren and the labor leader George Meany. "Then something very interesting happened," Nader said. "The pressure of these meetings by the corporations like General Motors, the oil companies and the drug companies with the editorial people, and probably with the publishers, coincided with the emergence of the most destructive force to the citizen movement - Abe Rosenthal, the editor of The New York Times. Rosenthal was a right-winger from Canada who hated communism, came here and hated progressivism. The Times was not doing that well at the time. Rosenthal was commissioned to expand his suburban sections, which required a lot of advertising. He was very receptive to the entreaties of corporations, and he did not like me. I would give material to Jack Morris in the Washington bureau and it would not get in the paper". Rosenthal, who banned social critics such as Noam Chomsky from being quoted in the paper and met frequently for lunch with conservative icon William F. Buckley, demanded that no story built around Nader's research could be published unless there was a corporate response. Corporations, informed of Rosenthal's dictate, refused to comment on Nader's research. This tactic meant the stories were never published. The authority of the Times set the agenda for national news coverage. Once Nader disappeared from the Times, other major papers and the networks did not feel compelled to report on his investigations. It was harder and harder to be heard. "There was, before we were silenced, a brief, golden age of journalism," Nader lamented. "We worked with the press to expose corporate abuse on behalf of the public. We saved lives. This is what journalism should be about; it should be about making the world a better and safer place for our families and our children, but then it ended and we were shut out". "We were thrown on the defensive, and once we were on the defensive it was difficult to recover," Nader said. "The break came in 1979 when they deregulated natural gas. Our last national stand was for the Consumer Protection Agency. We put everything we had on that. We would pass it during the 1970s in the House on one year, then the Senate during the next session, then the House later on. It ping-ponged. Each time we would lose ground. We lost it because Carter, although he campaigned on it, did not lift a finger compared to what he did to deregulate natural gas. We lost it by 20 votes in the House, although we had a two-thirds majority in the Senate waiting for it. That was the real beginning of the decline. Then Reagan was elected. We tried to be the watchdog. We put out investigative reports. They would not be covered". "The press in the 1980s would say 'why should we cover you?'". Nader went on. . '.Who is your base in Congress?' I used to be known as someone who could trigger a congressional hearing pretty fast in the House and Senate. They started looking towards the neoliberals and neocons and the deregulation mania. We put out two reports on the benefits of regulation and they too disappeared. They did not get covered at all. This was about the same the time that [former U.S. Rep.] Tony Coelho taught the Democrats, starting in 1979 when he was head of the House Campaign Finance Committee, to start raising big-time money from corporate interests. And they did. It had a magical influence. It is the best example I have of the impact of money. The more money they raised the less interested they were in any of these popular issues. They made more money when they screwed up the tax system. There were a few little gains here and there; we got the Freedom of Information law through in 1974. And even in the 1980s we would get some things done, GSA, buying air bag-equipped cars, the drive for standardized air bags. We would defeat some things here and there, block a tax loophole and defeat a deregulatory move. We were successful in staunching some of the deregulatory efforts". Nader, locked out of the legislative process, decided to send a message to the Democrats. He went to New Hampshire and Massachusetts during the 1992 primaries and ran as "none of the above". In 1996 he allowed the Green Party to put his name on the ballot before running hard in 2000 in an effort that spooked the Democratic Party. The Democrats, fearful of his grass-roots campaign, blamed him for the election of George W. Bush, an absurdity that found fertile ground among those who had abandoned rational inquiry for the thought-terminating clichs of television. Nader's status as a pariah corresponded with an unchecked assault by corporations on the working class. The long-term unemployment rate, which in reality is close to 20 percent, the millions of foreclosures, the crippling personal debts that plague households, the personal bankruptcies, Wall Street's looting of the U.S. Treasury, the evaporation of savings and retirement accounts and the crumbling of the country's vital infrastructure are taking place as billions in taxpayer subsidies, obscene profits, bonuses and compensation are enjoyed by the corporate overlords. We will soon be forced to buy the defective products of the government-subsidized drug and health insurance companies, which will remain free to raise co-payments and premiums, especially if policyholders get seriously ill. The oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies have made a mockery of Barack Obama's promises to promote clean, renewal energy. And we are rapidly becoming a third-world country, cannibalized by corporations, with two-thirds of the population facing financial difficulty and poverty. The system is broken. And the consumer advocate who represented the best of our democracy was broken with it. As Nader pointed out after he published "Unsafe at Any Speed" in 1965, it took nine months to federally regulate the auto industry for safety and fuel efficiency. Two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns there is still no financial reform. The large hedge funds and banks are using billions in taxpayer subsidies to once again engage in the speculative games that triggered the first financial crisis and will almost certainly trigger a second. The corporate press, which abets our vast historical amnesia, does nothing to remind us how we got here. It speaks in the hollow and empty slogans handed to it by public relations firms, its corporate paymasters and the sound-bite society. "If you organize 1 percent of the people in this country along progressive lines you can turn the country around, as long as you give them infrastructure," Nader said. "They represent a large percentage of the population. Take all the conservatives who work in Wal-Mart: How many would be against a living wage? Take all the conservatives who have pre-existing conditions: How many would be for single-payer not-for-profit health insurance? When you get down to the concrete, when you have an active movement that is visible and media-savvy, when you have a community, a lot of people will join. And lots more will support it. The problem is that most liberals are estranged from the working class. They largely have the good jobs. They are not hurting". "The real tragedy is that citizens' movements should not have to rely on the commercial media, and public television and radio are disgraceful - if anything they are worse," Nader said. "In 30-some years [Bill] Moyers has had me on [only] twice. We can't rely on the public media. We do what we can with Amy [Goodman] on 'Democracy Now!' and Pacifica stations. When I go to local areas I get very good press, TV and newspapers, but that doesn't have the impact, even locally. The national press has enormous impact on the issues. It is not pleasant having to say this. You don't want to telegraph that you have been blacked out, but on the other hand you can't keep it quiet. The right wing has won through intimidation". --------8 of 10-------- Globalization Marches On By Noam Chomsky Noam Chomsky's ZSpace April 5, 2010 To date, growing popular outrage has not challenged corporate power. The future depends on how much the great majority is willing to endure, and whether that great majority will collectively offer a constructive response to confront the problems at the core of the state capitalist system of domination and control. If not, the results might be grim, as history more than amply reveals. Shifts in global power, ongoing or potential, are a lively topic among policy makers and observers. One question is whether (or when) China will displace the United States as the dominant global player, perhaps along with India. Such a shift would return the global system to something like it was before the European conquests. Economic growth in China and India has been rapid, and because they rejected the West's policies of financial deregulation, they survived the recession better than most. Nonetheless, questions arise. One standard measure of social health is the U.N. Human Development Index. As of 2008, India ranks 134th, slightly above Cambodia and below Laos and Tajikistan, about where it has been for many years. China ranks 92nd-tied with Belize, a bit above Jordan, below the Dominican Republic and Iran. India and China also have very high inequality, so more than a billion of their inhabitants fall far lower on the scale. Another concern is the U.S. debt. Some fear it places the U.S. in thrall to China. But apart from a brief interlude ending in December, Japan has long been the biggest international holder of U.S. government debt. Creditor leverage, furthermore, is overrated. In one dimension - military power - the United States stands alone. And Obama is setting new records with his 2011 military budget. Almost half the U.S. deficit is due to military spending, which is untouchable in the political system. When considering the U.S. economy's other sectors, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and other economists warn that we should beware of "deficit fetishism." A deficit is a stimulus to recovery, and it can be overcome with a growing economy, as after World War II, when the deficit was far worse. And the deficit is expected to grow, largely because of the hopelessly inefficient privatized health care system - also virtually untouchable, thanks to business's ability to overpower the public will. However, the framework of these discussions is misleading. The global system is not only an interaction among states, each pursuing some "national interest" abstracted from distribution of domestic power. That has long been understood. Adam Smith concluded that the "principal architects" of policy in England were "merchants and manufacturers," who ensured that their own interests are "most peculiarly attended to," however "grievous" the effects on others, including the people of England. Smith's maxim still holds, though today the "principal architects" are multinational corporations and particularly the financial institutions whose share in the economy has exploded since the 1970s. In the United States we have recently seen a dramatic illustration of the power of the financial institutions. In the last presidential election they provided the core of President Obama's funding. Naturally they expected to be rewarded. And they were - with the TARP bailouts, and a great deal more. Take Goldman Sachs, the top dog in both the economy and the political system. The firm made a mint by selling mortgage-backed securities and more complex financial instruments. Aware of the flimsiness of the packages they were peddling, the firm also took out bets with the insurance giant American International Group (AIG) that the offerings would fail. When the financial system collapsed, AIG went down with it. Goldman's architects of policy not only parlayed a bailout for Goldman itself but also arranged for taxpayers to save AIG from bankruptcy, thus rescuing Goldman. Now Goldman is making record profits and paying out fat bonuses. It, and a handful of other banks, are bigger and more powerful than ever. The public is furious. People can see that the banks that were primary agents of the crisis are making out like bandits, while the population that rescued them is facing an official unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent, as of February. The rate rises to nearly 17 percent when all Americans who wish to be fully employed are counted. Bringing Obama to Heel Popular anger finally evoked a rhetorical shift from the administration, which responded with charges about greedy bankers. "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," Obama told 60 Minutes in December. This kind of rhetoric was accompanied with some policy suggestions that the financial industry doesn't like (e.g., the Volcker Rule, which would bar banks receiving government support from engaging in speculative activity unrelated to basic bank activities) and proposals to set up an independent regulatory agency to protect consumers. Since Obama was supposed to be their man in Washington, the principal architects of government policy wasted little time delivering their instructions: Unless Obama fell back into line, they would shift funds to the political opposition. "If the president doesn't become a little more balanced and centrist in his approach, then he will likely lose" the support of Wall Street, Kelly S. King, a board member of the lobbying group Financial Services Roundtable, told the New York Times in early February. Securities and investment businesses gave the Democratic Party a record $89 million during the 2008 campaign. Three days later, Obama informed the press that bankers are fine "guys," singling out the chairmen of the two biggest players, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs: "I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That's part of the free-market system," the president said. (Or at least "free markets" as interpreted by state capitalist doctrine.) That turnabout is a revealing snapshot of Smith's maxim in action. The architects of policy are also at work on a real shift of power: from the global work force to transnational capital. Economist and China specialist Martin Hart-Landsberg explores the dynamic in a recent Monthly Review article. China has become an assembly plant for a regional production system. Japan, Taiwan and other advanced Asian economies export high-tech parts and components to China, which assembles and exports the finished products. The Spoils of Power The growing U.S. trade deficit with China has aroused concern. Less noticed is that the U.S. trade deficit with Japan and the rest of Asia has sharply declined as this new regional production system takes shape. U.S. manufacturers are following the same course, providing parts and components for China to assemble and export, mostly back to the United States. For the financial institutions, retail giants, and the owners and managers of manufacturing industries closely related to this nexus of power, these developments are heaven sent. And well understood. In 2007, Ralph Gomory, head of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, testified before Congress, "In this new era of globalization, the interests of companies and countries have diverged. In contrast with the past, what is good for America's global corporations is no longer necessarily good for the American people." Consider IBM. According to Business Week, by the end of 2008, more than 70 percent of IBM's work force of 400,000 was abroad. In 2009 IBM reduced its U.S. employment by another 8 percent. For the work force, the outcome may be "grievous," in accordance with Smith's maxim, but it is fine for the principal architects of policy. Current research indicates that about one-fourth of U.S. jobs will be "offshorable" within two decades, and for those jobs that remain, security and decent pay will decline because of the increased competition from replaced workers. This pattern follows 30 years of stagnation or decline for the majority as wealth poured into few pockets, leading to what has probably become the greatest inequality between the haves and the have-nots since the end of American slavery. While China is becoming the world's assembly plant and export platform, Chinese workers are suffering along with the rest of the global work force. This is an unsurprising outcome of a system designed to concentrate wealth and power and to set working people in competition with one another worldwide. Globally, workers' share in national income has declined in many countries - dramatically so in China, leading to growing unrest in that highly inegalitarian society. So we have another significant shift in global power: from the general population to the principal architects of the global system, a process aided by the undermining of functioning democracy in the United States and other of the Earth's most powerful states. The future depends on how much the great majority is willing to endure, and whether that great majority will collectively offer a constructive response to confront the problems at the core of the state capitalist system of domination and control. If not, the results might be grim, as history more than amply reveals. Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of many books and articles on international affairs and social-political issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements. His most recent books include: Failed States , What We Say Goes (with David Barsamian), Hegemony or Survival , and the Essential Chomsky . This commentary first appeared in the New York Times Syndicate of March 26, 2010. --------9 of 10-------- Death to Women and Children and Cover-Ups to Protect the U. S. Killers Welcome to Obama's War By DAVE LINDORFF April 6, 2010 CounterPunch So finally the truth comes out...sort of. After initially claiming that two pregnant women and a teenage girl killed in a US Special Forces raid on an Afghan home in Khataba in February had been discovered bound and slain by the Americans, the US military has admitted that they were actually shot and killed by those US troops - who then tried to cover up their "mistake" by carving the bullets out of the bodies with knives, removing other incriminating bullets from the compound's walls, and then washing away the bloody evidence with alcohol. In this new grisly version of the story issued from the US command in Afghanistan, it was a case of the Special Forces Unit lying to superiors about what had transpired in their botched raid, which also killed an Afghan police commander and a government prosecutor. The only reason we know all this today is because of the intrepid digging by a relentless reporter from the Times of London, Jerome Starkey, who, unlike the hacks in Kabul passing themselves off as journalists from American news organizations, didn't just accept the press release on the incident put out by Gen. Stanley McChrystal's office, but instead did his own investigation, talking to Afghan and UN investigators, as well as local people where the incident happened. For his efforts at getting to the truth, Starkey was attacked by the US military, accused of lying and misrepresenting US statements. Now that Starkey has been fully vindicated, there has been no apology from McChrystal's office, or from the military public relations operation. Nor have US reporters and editors, who left Starkey undefended while his credibility was being attacked by the US, said anything about his role in bringing the truth to light. The New York Times, in an article today by Richard A. Oppel, Jr., datelined Kabul, said that the US military, "after initially denying involvement in any cover-up in the deaths," had "admitted that its forces had killed the women during the nighttime raid". The paper also credited the Times of London (without mentioning Starkey), with, a day before the military's about face, disclosing that American forces on the scene had "dug bullets out of their victims' bodies in the bloody aftermath" and then "washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened". What the paper didn't mention is that Starkey had broken the story weeks earlier, only have his expos ignored by the US media, which allowed him to be slandered by the American military. This story is not over yet, either. The US military, incredibly, is still claiming that despite an official investigation by US/NATO personnel into the incident, "Nothing pointed conclusively to the fact that our guys were the ones who tampered with the scene". As Oppel demurely observed, "However, given that Special Operations forces killed the women, it was not clear why anyone else would have a motivation to remove bullets from the bodies or tamper with evidence at the scene". It would appear that a cover-up is still underway. There has been no talk of bring charges against the Special Forces personnel who committed these killings and who then sought to cover up their actions, or those who were with them who allowed this crime to be committed and didn't report it. It is worth pointing out that Gen. McChrystal's background is running Special Forces operations. He ran a major death squad operation in Iraq before being put in charge of the Afghan War, and was widely reported to be planning to repeat that tactic in Afghanistan. This particular night raid, on what was thought to be a Taliban household, but which turned out to be a party for the naming of a new baby boy, was almost certainly part of just such a mission. The point to be taken from this ugly window on American operations in Afghanistan is that far from being an aberration, this is precisely how the war is being fought. Had this raid not been based on bad information, so that instead of killing a police officer and a prosecutor, the Special Forces hit-men had actually taken out a Taliban fighter or two, the fact that they also slaughtered a few pregnant women and a girl would have gone unnoticed and unremarked. In fact, the Special Forces killers wouldn't have even bothered to try to cover up their handiwork by digging knives into the victims. bodies to gouge out their bullets. We can safely assume that this kind of thing is going on all over Afghanistan every day. Welcome to Obama's War. Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff [at] mindspring.com --------10 of 10-------- Bolivia's Path to Socialism Evo's Way By ROGER BURBACH April 6, 2010 CounterPunch When Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, was sworn in to a second term in January, he proclaimed Bolivia a plurinational state that would construct "communitarian socialism". In an accompanying address, Vice President lvaro Garcia Linare, envisioned a "socialist horizon" for Bolivia, characterized by "well-being, making the wealth communal, drawing on our heritage . . ". The process "will not be easy, it could take decades, even centuries, but it is clear that the social movements cannot achieve true power without implanting a socialist and communitarian horizon". During the past decade Latin America has become a scene of hope and expectations as its leaders and social movements have raised the banner of 21st century socialism in a world ravished by imperial adventures and economic disasters. Proponents of the new socialism assert that it will break with the state-centered socialism of the last century, and will be driven by grassroots social movements that construct an alternative order from the bottom up. There is also widespread concurrence that the process will take a unique path in each country, that there is no singular model or grand strategy to pursue. The new socialism has been characterized by a much slower and transitory process than the revolutionary socialism of the past century, which was based on the overthrow of the old regime, with a vanguard party seizing control of the state and moving quickly to transform the economy. A different scenario is occurring in Latin America where new governments take control politically, with the previous economic system largely intact. In Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, where the socialist discourse is the most advanced, constituent assemblies were convened to draft new constitutions that restructured the political system and established broad social rights. The process and pace of transforming their economies has become the task of the political and social forces acting through the new legislative assemblies and the "refounded states". In Bolivia, the struggle for a constitutional assembly and a new constitution was particularly strife-ridden with the oligarchy, centered in the resource-rich lowland departments, engaging in an outright rebellion with the tactical backing of the US embassy. Little was heard of socialism in this period, in spite of the name of Morales' political party, Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). Now, with the consolidation of the new political system and the plurinational state, socialism has been placed on the agenda. In a number of public addresses and interviews, Vice President Garcia Linare and Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca have articulated what they envision as the Bolivian road to socialism. The vice-president - a member of an armed guerilla movement in the early 1990's who was captured and imprisoned for four years - now asserts that "in Bolivia we are working and betting on the democratic path to socialism". It is possible "because socialism is fundamentally a radical democracy". He goes on to add: "The constitution provides the architecture for a state constructed by society and it defines a long path in which we participate in a process of constructing a new society, pacifically and democratically". Noting the uniqueness of the Bolivian process, the vice president states: "Bolivia is inserted in planetary capitalism, but it is different from other societies - community structures have survived, in the countryside, in the high lands, the low lands, and in some parts of the cities and the barrios that have resisted capitalist subjugation". He adds, "This is different from American and European capitalism, and it gives us an advantage". David Choquehuanca in an interview elaborated on the communal roots that facilitate the construction of socialism: "We have always governed ourselves in our communities. This is why we maintain our customs, perform our own music, speak our own Aymaran language, in spite of a 500-year effort to erase these things - our music, our language and our culture. In a state of clandestinity, we have upheld our values, economic forms, our own types of communitarian organization, which are all being reappraised now. This is why we are incorporating into socialism something that has resisted for 500 years - the communitarian element. We want to build our own socialism". He added: "In the communities, we always had our ulacas (assemblies), where debates took place. Those political spaces are being recovered. I don't know if this can be called "the seeds of a people's government'. What existed, what exists, is being reappraised, is beginning to be valued and developed. These are the times we're in". Choquehuanca also described the contemporary communities and the unions that exist both in and outside of them: "We organize ourselves in the communities. In Bolivia there must be around ten thousand communities, and in each community there is a union of campesino workers. Each union has a base which is associated first on a provincial level, and then on a departmental and national level. The national level is the Confederacion Sindical Unica de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (CSUTCB). They're not naturally existing organizations, but organizations that helped allow us to table our demands and participate in elections. There are various organized sectors with similar structures, such as the teachers, the miners, the indigenous groups, women, factory workers. And we have a mother organization which is the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB). These are the people's organizations. President Evo Morales has called for strengthening them, since they are the agents driving this process of change". Some are skeptical of Morales' commitment to socialism. Jim Petras, a Marxist scholar who has written on Latin American politics for half a century, asserts that Morales gives a "high priority to orthodox capitalist growth over and above any concern with developing an alternative development pole built around peasants and landless rural workers". This he says has led to "the increased size and scope of foreign owned multinational corporate extractive capital investments". Others from an ecological perspective like Marco Ribera Arismendi proclaim: "Weve changed the discourse, but not the model". A member of the Environment Defense League, one of Bolivias largest environment organizations, Ribera adds, "We had great hopes in this government to solve or make a change on these issues," but it has instead followed an extractive industry model that is driven by transnational capital" While it is true that Morales has not launched a full assault on capital, his government along with the other New Left governments in Latin America have ended the neo-liberal era in which the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank imposed free market policies, severely curtailing social spending, and enabling transnational corporations to gain unprecedented control of the region's nonrenewable resources. Now many of these governments are using the state to exert greater control of the economy and are renegotiating the terms of investment in order to capture a greater portion of the revenue for social programs and to facilitate internal development and industrialization. Morales, soon after taking office in 2006, moved against the foreign-owned natural gas and petroleum companies to take 50% of the revenues, and to make the state-owned petroleum company the administrator and, in some cases, a co-investor. Similar deals have been made with transnational capital in the iron-mining sector, and the government is in the process of negotiating state-dominated agreements for the exploitation of Bolivia's huge lithium deposits. Pablo Solon, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, who previously served as the representative on trade and economic integration issues, summed up the government's policy: "We need foreign investment. The issue is the rules under which we are going to allow this foreign investment - how much they are going to leave for the country, how much they are going to have as profit, who is going to own it, the transfer of technology, the transformation of raw materials inside the country. Those are the key issues that Bolivia has synthesized into the words 'When it comes to foreign investment, we don't want bosses; we want partners'. If they can accept that rule, they are welcome. We will no longer accept the relations that we had before". The process of transforming Bolivia's social and economic institutions will be the task of the legislative branch, which will be drafting over 100 bills to implement the provisions of the country's new plurinational constitution. Of central importance is the empowerment of the indigenous communities and granting them the economic resources to construct communitarian socialism. The existing agrarian reform law will be revisited. According to Victor Camacho, the Vice-Minister of Land Issues, "we are going to re-territorialize the indigenous communities," recognizing that the ancestral communal lands have been seized from the indigenous peoples since the conquest.While advancing at a rhythm that reflects the country's particular correlation of social and political forces, the Bolivian experiment is contributing to the advance of socialism on a global level. As Vice President Garcia Linares declares: "The society we have today in the world is a society with too many injustices, too much inequality. We have the seeds of communitarian socialism, badly treated, partially dried up, but if we nourish this seed in Bolivia a powerful trunk will grow with fruit for our country and the world". For Evo Morales, the necessity for socialism is global and urgent, given the state of the planet. "If capitalism produces crises in the financial system, in energy, in food, in the environment, in climatic change, then what good is this capitalism that brings us so many crises? - What is the solution? I am convinced that it is socialism, for some socialism of the 21st century, for others communitarian socialism". Roger Burbach is the director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Pinochet Affair. Notes  Garcia Linare: Bolivia deja el Estado aparente e impulsa el Estado Socialista, Arzobispado de La Paz, 22 de Enero, 2010, http://www.arzobispadolapaz.org/noticias/Nacional  Garcia Linare Plantea Socialismo Comunitario Contra el Capitalismo, Jornadanet.com, 8 de Febrero, 2010, http://www.jornadanet.com/n.php?a=43340-1  Bolivia Vira al Socialismo Comunitario y Comienza a Sepultar el Capitalismo, Cambio, Periodico del Estado Plurinacional Boliviano, 8 de Febrero, 2010, http://www.cambio.bo/noticia.php?fecha=2010-02-08&idn=14526  Bolivian Foreign Minister: Communitarian Socialism Will Refound Bolivia, Bolivia Rising, http://boliviarising.blogspot.com/2009/05/bolivian-foreign-minister-communitarian.html  James Petras, Latin America.s Twenty First Century Socialism in Historical Perspective, The James Petras Website, http://petras.lahaine.org/articulo.php?p=1789&more=1&c=1  Juan Nicastro, Environment Continues to Suffer, Latinamerica Press, Febr. 11, 2010, http://lapress.org/articles.asp?art=6061  Jason Tockman, Bolivia.s New Political Space: An Interview with Ambassador Pablo Solon, NACLA News, Views and Analysis, March 15, 2010, https://nacla.org/node/6473  Victor Camacho, Vamos a Reterritorializar las Comunidades Indigenas, La Prensa, 16 de Febrero, 2010, http://www.laprensa.com.bo/noticias/16-02-10/noticias.php?nota=16_02_10_nego2.php  Evo Morales Defiende al Socialismo como la Solucion al Capitalismo y sus Crisis, EcoDiario, http://ecodiario.eleconomista.es/politica/noticias/1740280/12/09/Evo-Morales-defiende-al-socialismo-como-la-solucion-al-capitalismo-y-sus-crisis.html ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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