|Progressive Calendar 10.16.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2010 05:02:00 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 10.16.10 1. Peace walk 10.16 9am Cambridge MN 2. KSTP/LWV/No Green 10.16 9:30am 3. Energy/money 10.16 10am 4. TC book festival 10.16 10am 5. Is Iran a threat? 10.16 10am 6. Marvelous Cuba 10.16 10am 7. OutOf Afghanistan 10.16 1pm 8. CUAPB 10.16 1:30pm 9. James Kunstler 10.16 1:30pm 10. Northtown vigil 10.16 2pm 11. Coal/Mt tops 10.16 7pm 12. Left comedy 10.16 8pm 13. Colombia 10.17 8am 14. CO/v war 10.17 12:30pm 15. Stillwater vigil 10.17 1pm 16. James Walsh - For now, antiwar activists will not be forced to testify 17. AntiWarMN - Call State Leg/support Clark/Berglin vs FBI repression 18. Richard Wolff - French labor activism, US labor passivism 19. Reuters - French strikers cut fuel pipeline to Paris 20. Sara Joseph - Rattling democracy in Latin America 21. Michael Parenti - Death and profits: the utility protection racket 22. ed - Bumpersticker --------1 of 22-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 10.16 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------2 of 22-------- From: Rhoda Gilman <rhodagilman [at] earthlink.net> Subject: KSTP/LWV/No Green 10.16 9:30am Greens rally to protest exclusion from Minnesota State Auditor debate For Immediate Release Thursday, October 14, 2010 GREEN PARTY OF MINNESOTA http://www.mngreens.org <http://www.mngreens.org/> Dave Bicking, Spokesperson, 612-276-1213 Rhoda Gilman, Spokesperson, 651-224-6383 Minnesota Greens will be rallying outside the KSTP studios on Saturday morning to protest their candidates being shut out of public debates. The League of Women Voters Minnesota Education Fund, in partnership with KSTP 5 Eyewitness News, will be hosting a debate on Saturday between two of the four candidates for Minnesota State Auditor. Annie Young, Green Party candidate and 20-year elected official in Minneapolis, will not be allowed to participate due to the restrictive inclusion criteria established for the debate. Earlier this year the League of Women Voters Minnesota Education Fund published the following criteria for candidates: either (1) win the nomination of a party in the primary election, or (2) receive 5% in an independent, credible, state-wide professional poll. However, since Minnesotaıs minor parties are not allowed to participate in primary elections and there have been no polls for the State Auditor race, the two minor party candidates had no way of meeting either of the criteria. ³We contacted the executive director for the League at the beginning of September, to let her know this was a possibility and that they should consider either changing their criteria or fielding a poll of their own,² said Jim Ivey, Politics Chair of the Green Party of Minnesota. ³Unfortunately, she refused to do anything and placed the blame on the media organizations that wouldnıt do any polling for this race. In the end, even KSTP admitted that the only criterion being applied was the nomination by a major party.² Because federal regulations state that ³staging organization(s) shall not use nomination by a political party as the sole objective criterion to determine whether to include a candidate in a debate², the Greens feel that their candidate should be included, and plan on making their case at the rally outside the KSTP studios. Green Party candidates throughout the U.S. are being similarly excluded from debates, and earlier this week the Green Party candidate for governor in California was actually arrested while waiting in line to attend a debate from which she had been excluded. ³Hopefully it wonıt come to that,² said Andy Exley, Chair of the Green Party of Minnesota, ³but we think itıs important and worth the risk to be there outside the studio and make sure that Minnesotans know this isnıt just a national problem; itıs happening here too. At the end of the day, we just want our candidate to have the opportunity to educate voters on the changes sheıd like to bring to the office of State Auditor.² Anyone interested in attending the rally should arrive at the KSTP studio no later than 9:30 am on Saturday. The studio is located at 3415 University Ave W in Saint Paul. [The League of Women Voters now has at least a 10 year history of excluding third parties. The Dems and Reps say, If you let even one of them in, we won't come, and then your forum will be wrecked. And so LWV, spineless and cowardly, surrenders to the corporate parties. They are hopeless and unreformable; if someone tries to reform some LWV local, the Ds and Rs will get wind of it and smash it. So I don't promote the LWV in my Calendar, except to urge people to protest its collusion and collaboration with the antidemocratic 2-party corporate ruling-class system of organized corruption and theft. Stop going to LWV events except to protest; if no one came they'd have to shut down, which would be a good thing. -ed] --------3 of 22-------- From: Metro CERT <csamuelson [at] greeninstitute.org> Subject: Energy/money 10.16 10am St. Paul Residents can save Energy and Money! Don't miss a great workshop this Saturday Oct 16th at 10am at Central High School. We'll get you started saving energy and money right away! Sign up for a special home visit by the Home Energy Squad and just by attending you'll have access to additional rebate money (up to $400 for insulating or $250 for heating system replacement). Check out http://savesenergy.eventbrite.org to RSVP or call 612-278-7213 to get more info. Can't attend on Sat, check out other workshops coming up at http://nes.mncerts.org Program is partnership of the Green Institute and the Neighborhood Energy Connection, and sponsored by a grant from the Minnesota Environmental Trust Fund. Metro CERT Phillips, Minneapolis About Metro CERT: http://forums.e-democracy.org/p/6SZeBtNizCIvdGYOINrJ9Y --------4 of 22-------- From: Dara Syrkin <dsyrkin [at] loft.org> Subject: TC book festival 10.16 10am Saturday, October 16 READING/DISCUSSION Views from the Loft: A Portable Writer's Workshop at Rain Taxi's Twin Cities Book Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; reading time TBA At Minneapolis Community and Technical College, 1501 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis The Loft Literary Center and Milkweed Editions celebrate the publication of Views from the Loft: A Portable Writer's Workshop with contributors to the anthology presenting their work. Contributors to the anthology Views from the Loft: A Portable Writer's Workshop read and discuss their works. Presenters include Barrie Jean Borich, Bridget Frase, Jocelyn Hale, Lorna Landvik, and Will Weaver. About the book: Gathering the collected wisdom of the Loft's community of writers and readers' from practical tips and suggestions to ruminations on the mystery of the writing process - this invaluable book provides writers everywhere with the tools and inspiration they need to thrive. Invigorating, insightful, and illuminating throughout, this portable workshop is essential for writers at all levels. About the contributors: Barrie Jean Borich is the author of My Lesbian Husband (Graywolf, 1999) and Restoring the Color of Roses (Firebrand, 1993). She is the nonfiction editor of Water~Stone Review and teaches at Hamline University. Brigitte Frase is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. Her work has appeared in the Hungry Mind Review, Ruminator Review, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Jocelyn Hale is the executive director of the Loft Literary Center. Lorna Landvik is the author of numerous best-selling novels including Patty Jane's House of Curl, Your Oasis on Flame Lake, and The Tall Pine Polka. She is also an actor, a playwright, and a proud hockey mom. Will Weaver is the author of Red Earth, White Earth (Simon & Schuster, 1986), A Gravestone Made of Wheat (Simon & Schuster, 1989), and Sweet Land: New & Selected Stories (Borealis, 2006). He has also written books for young adults, including Full Service (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), Defect (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) and Saturday Night Dirt (Square Fish, 2009). --------5 of 22-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Is Iran a threat? 10.16 10am William Beeman: "Is Iran a Threat?" Saturday, October 16, 9:30 a.m. (Refreshments), 10:00 a.m. (Program) Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, 5440 Penn Avenue South, Minneapolis. Professor William Beeman discusses the often held view that Iran represents a serious threat to the United States, Israel and the Arab countries. In particular he will discuss the following questions: Does Iran represent an existential threat to Israel? What are the likely consequences of an Israeli "preemptive" strike against Iran's nuclear facilities? Professor Beeman is Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He is an internationally known expert on the Middle East and the Islamic World, particularly Iran, the Gulf Region and Central Asia. He recently traveled to Iran. Sponsored by: Middle East Peace Now (MEPN). WAMM is a member of MEPN. FFI: Call Dixie, 952-941-1341. --------6 of 22-------- From: Greg Klave <gregklave [at] msn.com> Subject: Marvelous Cuba 10.16 10am Oct. 16th ,10:00 AM, Saturday Book Reading of "Lost and Found in Cuba" by Author Jeanne Parr Lemkau Journey to Cuba for a midlife Rebellion that turned a study of Cuba's Healthcare and the effects of the US Embargo into a search for freedom from structure and meaninglessness. Find the peculiarly marvelous side of Cuban society. Resource Center of the Americas "Coffeehour" Ste 20, 3019 Minnehaha Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55406 612-276-0788 --------7 of 22-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Out of Afghanistan 10.16 1pm Protest: "Out of Afghanistan! Bring the Troops Home Now!" Saturday, October 16, 1:00 p.m. Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, Minneapolis. October 2010 will mark nine years of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. From October 7 through 16, there will be local peace actions in cities across the U.S. to call for peace. Organized by: the Iraq Peace Action Coalition (IPAC). WAMM is a member of IPAC. FFI: Call 612-522-1861 or 612-827-5364. [The SOBs at the top don't care what we think or do or say, they will do what they want. Rich people have tens of thousands of foreigners killed because it makes them lots of money. The only way the US will get out of Af is if 1) the dollar collapses. Or 2) we have the guts to do a General Strike - which we have been trained to be too chicken to do - and short of that we count for nothing, and the wars will go on and on and on. -ed] --------8 of 22-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 10.16 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) --------9 of 22-------- From: lydiahowell [at] comcast.net Subject: James Kunstler 10.16 1:30pm SAT.OCT. 16, 1:30pm: JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER HENNEPIN ROOM @ MCTC/Mpls Community Techincal College, downtown Minneapolis part of the 10th annual TWIN CITIES BOOK FESTIVAL James Howard Kunstler is the bestselling author of The Geography of Nowhere, a history of American suburbia and urban development, and The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, in which he proposes that big cities will collapse in the wake of absent cheap oil energy. His new fiction series, World Made By Hand, picks up on this theme, imagining a post-apocalyptic world of an oil-free nation in which the people have reverted to a pre-industrial way of life, fighting for dwindling resources. A sequel, The Witch of Hebron, continues this imagined dystopia with riveting and page-turning detail. (1:30 pm, Hennepin Room) Rain Taxi proudly announces the TENTH annual TC BOOK FESTIVAL TWIN CITIES BOOK FESTIVAL Saturday, October 16, 2010 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Minneapolis Community & Technical College, conveniently located in Downtown Minneapolis. COMPLETE SCHEDULE: http://www.raintaxi.com/bookfest/ Spectacular Authors All-Day Exhibit Used Book Sale Children's Pavilion Great Panel Discussions Lit Mag FairÂ --------10 of 22-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 10.16 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------11 of 22-------- From: "Jaime (Brian) Hokanson" <bjhokanson [at] gmail.com> Subject: Coal/Mt tops 10.16 7pm Mountaintop Removal--The True Cost of Coal Seward Café 2129 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis Saturday, October 16, 7pm presented by MARS (Minneapolis Autonomous Radical Space)<http://radspacetc.wordpress.com/> -- help us create a new radical resource center for the TC! -- http://radspacetc.wordpress.com Long exploited as a resource-extraction colony within the US, the Appalachian Mountains are home to a fight for survival whose outcome will determine in part the industrial power of this country. Without coal, there would be no 'cheap' electricity. Today's energy corporations and government bodies are continuing to show the extent of their violence and greed as they push their extractive agendas in the "New Coal Rush." Our insatiable demand for cheap power has lead to the most extreme, devastating form of coal mining yet, Mountaintop Removal (MTR). The TRUE COST OF COAL graphic uses MTR in Appalachia as a lens through which to understand the historical and contemporary story of ENERGY, RESOURCE EXTRACTION and of AMERICAN EMPIRE accelerating throughout the world. We will expose the DECEPTIONS of CLEAN COAL technologies and bring to light the ensuing CLIMATE CHAOS facing the world today. With a gigantic portable mural teeming with intricate images of plants and animals from the most bio-diverse temperate forest on the planet, the Bees will share (and seek) stories of how coal mining and Mountaintop Removal affect communities and ecosystems throughout Appalachia and beyond. This graphic also looks to the future, raising questions about resistance, regeneration, and remediation while celebrating stories of struggle from mountain communities. The TRUE COST OF COAL will challenge all of us who casually flip on a light switch to examine our own connections to MTR- and to think about what we can do to stop it from within our own communities. Learn more about this graphics campaign as it unfolds at: beehivecollective.blogspot.com and get your own copy of the Coal poster at the WEBSTORE<http://www.beehivecollective.org/english/store/POSTERS_LARGE.htm> at http://www.beehivecollective.org. --------12 of 22-------- From: John Knefel <johnknefel [at] gmail.com> Subject: Progressive comedy 10.16 8pm My name is John Knefel. I'm performing stand up comedy at Acme in Minneapolis Saturday night. I'm a political comedian, and the headliner, a comedian named Jamie Kilstein, is super political too. He runs a radio show called Citizen Radio that has had Chomsky, Zinn, and Nader as guests. We have two shows, at 8 and 10:30. Here's the link. http://www.acmecomedycompany.com/acme/shows.php Most comedy club audiences are fine, but we're trying to get progressives out because we both think they'll enjoy the show and, for more selfish reasons, it makes the show better for us. --------13 of 22-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Colombia 10.17 8am Exhibit: "Remember Me: Voices of the Silenced in Colombia" October 17 through 31, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Weekdays); 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Mondays); 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Sundays) Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 East 31st Street, Minneapolis. The bloody 60-year conflict in Colombia has touched every village, every church and every family in the war-torn country. It has created the worst chronic humanitarian crisis in the western hemisphere, yet few in the U.S. know about it. By and large, the stories of victims go untold. Truth is silenced with fear and deadly oppression. But to achieve peace, these voices must be heard. See their face, heard their voices and feel their struggle. Sponsored by: Lutheran World Relief (LWR). Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Visit http://remember.lwr.org. --------14 of 22-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: CO/v war 10.17 12:30pm Forum on Lutherans and Conscience: "Conscience Related to Military Service Today" Sunday, October 17, 12:30 p.m. Central Lutheran Church, 333 South 12th Street, Minneapolis. The three positions supported by the ELCA will be presented and discussed. They include: 1. conscientious objection to all war and killing; 2. selective conscientious objection to a particular war or a particular conduct in war such as using weapons of mass destruction or participating in torture; 3. participation in the military in conscience. At 1:00 p.m., Larry Johnson, veteran and storyteller, will share his personal story of being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Ian Smith, high school student and Lutheran Conscientious Objector, will share the documentation and process of setting up his personal C.O. file. After the program there will be an opportunity for youth to find out about how they can become a Lutheran C.O., and an opportunity to start their files. All ages are welcome, including youth ministry leaders, their confirmation students, high school students and their parents. Veterans, as well as civilians will be present to answer questions. While the focus is specifically on ELCA Lutheran theology, people of all faiths are welcome to attend. Free and open to the public. Optional lunch at 12:15 p.m. for $7.00. Sponsored by: the ELCA Joint Synod's Peace with Justice Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM and Veterans for Peace. FFI: Email dhilden [at] comcast.net. --------15 of 22-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 10.17 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 --------16 of 22-------- For Now, Antiwar Activists Will Not Be Forced To Testify By James Walsh Star Tribune October 12, 2010 http://www.startribune.com/local/104830809.html Thistle Parker-Hartog originally was supposed to testify before a grand jury in Chicago Tuesday. She didn't go. Mick Kelly was scheduled to make the same trip next week. Don't bet on it. In all, 14 antiwar activists and several organizations from the Twin Cities and Chicago who are being investigated for alleged support of terror groups received subpoenas to appear before the grand jury this month. All - including five who were to appear last week - have told the U.S. Department of Justice that they are not going. Instead, several were among about 60 people gathered in front of the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday to protest what they consider harassment and intimidation because they oppose U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. So far, it seems, the Justice Department has acquiesced. All the subpoenas have been canceled, according to a Chicago attorney working on the case. Instead of being encouraged by the inaction, they are left wondering when the other shoe is going to fall for a growing number of people under investigation. "No one knows what will happen. That's sort of the problem with all this," Parker-Hartog said. "The net is definitely getting wider. We are hearing from more of our brothers and sisters around the country that they, too, are being looked at." On Sept. 24, the FBI raided the Minneapolis homes of five antiwar activists, including three leaders of the Twin Cities peace movement, as part of what it called a probe of "activities concerning the material support of terrorism." The Minneapolis office of an antiwar organization was also raided, protest leaders said. Raids were also conducted on two homes in Chicago. No one was arrested in any of the raids. Computers, cell phones and documents were seized. FBI officials said the federal search warrants in Minneapolis were related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force. The people whose homes and offices were searched have denied being involved in any illegal activities. Meredith Aby of the Anti-War Committee, whose home and offices were raided, said Tuesday that the federal government has "given itself more power since 9/11. The federal government is doing this, I think, because they can do this." According to the warrants, the FBI is seeking travel and financial information regarding the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Colombia. It is against federal law to provide "material support" to organizations that have been defined by the U.S. government as terrorist. But attorneys argue that the law's interpretation can be dangerously broad. Activists are asking: Who defines a terror group? What constitutes material support? Over the past two years, several local men of Somali descent have been indicted, and some convicted, for providing material support for Al-Shabab, an Islamist group fighting for control of Somalia. Some traveled to Somalia to fight, some recruited fighters, some allegedly provided money. Those being investigated in Minneapolis and Chicago deny doing anything like that in this case. What happens next is uncertain. The U.S. attorney in Chicago could reissue subpoenas. Prosecutors could even grant some of the people being investigated immunity to prod them to testify. Everything could be dropped. All that is known for now, said attorney Jim Fennerty, is "that nobody is going to appear before the grand jury." --------17 of 22-------- From: AntiWarMN Meredith Aby <riot369 [at] gmail.com> Subject: Call State Leg/support Clark/Berglin vs FBI repression! On Monday, October 18th, a Special Session will be held at the Minnesota State Capitol. Representative Karen Clark and Senator Linda Berglin will be introducing resolutions in the House and Senate to support local anti-war and labor activists and to speak out against the recent FBI harrassment and intimidation. Call your Legislators and tell them to sign on to and support the Resolution to Support local Anti-War and Labor Activists and to Disavow FBI Practices and Policies that Threaten Civil Liberties! Make your calls Friday Oct 15th through Monday Oct 18th To find out who your legislator is Call: For State Representative: 651-296-2146 For State Senator: 651-296-0504 or go to district finder at: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/ Background info: The FBI raided on five homes and an anti-war office on Friday, September 24, 2010. The FBI also handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury to nine activists in Minnesota. The activists in the Twin Cities who have been targeted include 8 women and one man ranging in age from 29 to 71. Four are parents of children ranging in age from 18 months to 6 years of age. One is a great grandmother. Six are union members, five of them members of AFSCME Council 5, which passed a resolution in support of them. All have been involved in building the anti-war, international solidarity and peace and justice movements in the Twin Cities for more than a decade each. Please thank Rep Clark and Sen Berglin for offering these resolutions! (Rep Clark 651-296- 0294; Sen Berglin 651-296-4261) [Indeed! Huzzah! -ed] --------18 of 22-------- French Labor Activism, US Labor Passivism By Richard D. Wolff Source: RDWolff.com Znet October 16, 2010 US workers suffered a major rise in unemployment from its level in 2008 (5.8 %) to its level in the second quarter of 2010 (9.7 %). By comparison, French unemployment rose from 7.4 % in 2008 to 9.2 % in the second quarter of 2010. These data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show clearly that unemployment rose further and faster in the US than in France across this crisis's first three years. Yet French workers by the millions are in the streets marching against anti-worker "austerity policies," demanding that government not cut its payroll or the services it provides the public. In contrast, US workers offer no equivalent resistance as US states and towns cut payrolls and public services and as President Obama's special commission gets ready to reduce social security benefitsto the American people. Consider that in September 2010, according to the BLS, while the total US private sector added 64,000 jobs, state and local governments fired 77,000 people. This was done in a time of national economic crisis and record-high US unemployment rates. Nonetheless, worker mobilizations against austerity in the US have been, in comparison to the French, scattered and sporadic. [We Ameicans are overstuffed WimpyBurgers drowning in Wuss.ter.sure sauce, begging to be eaten alive by roving upper-class cats. -ed] What differentiates French labor activism from US labor passivism are decades in which US labor unions and the US left declined in size, militancy, and social influence far further and faster than their French counterparts. In France the electorate and mass public opinion are now swinging left against the austerity policies of the Sarkozy government in solidarity with the leadership shown by labor and the left. French public opinion polls show that two-thirds of French public opinion either supports or is sympathetic with the repeated huge labor strikes and demonstrations against austerity. Such poll results in favor of these massive actions are not only extraordinarily high but also have been stable for months at that height. In contrast, within the different US conjuncture, the Democrats fear a major electoral loss in November 2010, to an extremely conservative, pro-austerity Republican party. One key lesson of this crisis's different evolution in the US and France is this: the basic economic welfare of the working majority inside a modern industrial capitalism depends on maintaining a strong, militant trade union movement and a strong anti-capitalist movement and tradition. In France, labor and the left always included socially significant groups and movements, theoretical and practical, who were critical of capitalism and committed to basic social change beyond capitalism. That organized radicalism kept alive the notion of a real alternative to the present system. It also sustained many complex connections among militants. Those connections are now being effectively mobilized to forge an historic resistance inside capitalism to its costly crises and the ruling class's response to them. Moreover, because of its anti-capitalist components, that resistance may mature into a social movement for basic social change. --------19 of 22-------- French Strikers Cut Fuel Pipeline to Paris Reuters [a corporate organ] Friday, October 15, 2010 Common Dreams Refinery workers cut off a fuel pipeline to Paris today as protesters piled on pressure to derail French president Nicolas Sarkozy's unpopular pension reform. French riot policemen uses a flash-ball to disperse high school students during a demonstration in Lyon today. Police broke up blockades at fuel depots in southern France but protesters blocked a terminal at Paris's Orly airport and truckers were set to join the fray as momentum built for a day of street rallies tomorrow. A nationwide strike is planned on Tuesday, a day before the Senate is due to vote on a bill to make people work longer for their pensions. The protests have become the biggest challenge facing the centre-right president, who is struggling with rock-bottom popularity ratings as he tries to appease financial markets by stemming a ballooning pension shortfall. Turnout among striking rail workers dropped to 15 per cent today, from 40 per cent earlier in the week, but union leaders hope to galvanise the public for next week's action with the same force that saw a 1995 pension bill crushed by 24 days of protests. Next Tuesday's strike could hit various sectors. "This movement is deeply anchored in the country," CGT union leader Bernard Thibault told LCI television. "The government is betting on this movement deteriorating, even breaking down. I think we have the means to disappoint them." France's main trucking union called on truck drivers to join next Tuesday's strike, though they may not be able to use their bosses' trucks to block roads. The best chance Mr Sarkozy's opponents have of bringing down his pension bill is if strikes at oil refineries continue and start to threaten fuel supply, or if youths hit the streets en masse and set off violent scuffles. A pipeline supplying fuel to the Paris region and its airports stopped operating today because of strikes at northern refineries, a source at the company operating the pipeline said, and motorists across France stocked up on petrol as depot blockades squeezed supply. TV footage showed riot police using teargas to contain young protesters in the southern city of Lyon and in Paris police officers got orders to stop using flashball riot control pellets to quieten crowds after a secondary school student was badly injured on Thursday. Students at hundreds of schools across France joined the protest movement in force from yessterday, shouting anti-Sarkozy slogans. Dozens have been arrested and today more were barred by riot police from nearing the prime minister's offices. Polls show two-thirds of French people oppose Mr Sarkozy's plan to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 and lift the age at which people can retire on a full pension to 67 from 65. The government has been at loggerheads with unions for months over the issue and five rounds of strike action since the summer have badly disrupted public transport and air travel. The strikes have had negligible impact on France's economy but have sparked worries among financial analysts about whether France will struggle to push through broader austerity measures necessary to bring down its deficit. [Trust the capitalist press to end on a note favoring the powers that be. -ed] --------20 of 22-------- Rattling Democracy in Latin America by Sara Joseph OtherWords Thursday, October 14, 2010 Common Dreams Ecuador's recent crisis proves that a decisive and unified response from the international community can help determine the outcome of an illegitimate coup. In late September, tear gas and the smoke from burning tires filled the air as Ecuador's president was held hostage in a police hospital. For people throughout the Americas, Ecuador's attempted coup brought flashbacks of the June 2009 coup in Honduras. Indeed, Honduran activists still reeling from the 2009 coup were among the first to send messages of solidarity to people in Ecuador resisting the attempted coup. But why did the coup fail to topple President Rafael Correa in Ecuador, while in Honduras the current president was the winner of elections hosted by an illegal coup-installed government? More than a year after the coup that overthrew President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya, politically motivated human rights violations in Honduras remain disturbingly common. a recent Witness for Peace delegation to Honduras confirmed that human rights conditions have deteriorated since the coup. Under acting president Porfirio Lobo, journalists, labor organizers, women, and members of the gay community have all become targets of state violence. Targeted assassinations and threats against social movements continue to be denounced on a monthly basis and the country has also become one of the most dangerous worldwide for journalists. The United States is one of the few countries that has recognized Lobo's presidency. For example, President Barack Obama hosted Lobo at an official function for heads of state in New York City a few weeks ago. The tacit consent that Washington has shown Honduras allows continued U.S. funding for the Honduran military, despite accusations of its involvement in systematic human rights abuses. [Obama sucks. -ed] For months, independent observers have warned that U.S. support for the military coup government in Honduras will embolden right-wing forces and cause instability throughout the Americas. When protesting Ecuadorian police officers assumed control of the country's airports, tear-gassed the president, and held him hostage in a local hospital, it confirmed those fears. Since taking office, President Correa has pursued economic policies that challenge U.S. corporate interests and refused to allow the United States to continue to use the Manta military base. Correa's alignment with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) fed suspicions that the U.S. would support the attempted coup. But within hours of the news breaking, Latin American, European, and North American governments expressed clear support for democracy in Ecuador. Secretary Hillary Clinton issued a statement that "urge[ed] all Ecuadorians to come together and to work within the framework of Ecuador's democratic institutions to reach a rapid and peaceful restoration of order." And by 10 o'clock that night, a team of more than 500 military and police officials had rescued Correa, and the coup d'etat was largely considered a failure. In contrast, the United States never spoke out strongly against the Honduran coup and was quick to throw support behind Roberto Micheletti and then Lobo's government. Now, even as reports of human rights abuses pour out of Honduras, the United States continues to support Lobo both symbolically and financially. Ecuador's recent crisis proves that a decisive and unified response from the international community can help determine the outcome of an illegitimate coup. Honduras can't wait any longer: The United States must take a stand on human rights by voting against Honduras' reintegration in the Organization of American States. If we fail to hold the Honduran government accountable, it will set a dangerous precedent, leading to more antidemocratic acts of force in the Americas. [Which is exactly what Obama and the US ruling class want so bad they can taste it. -ed] Sara Joseph is the communications associate for Witness for Peace. www.WitnessforPeace.org --------21 of 22-------- Death and Profits: The Utility Protection Racket by Michael Parenti Thursday, October 14, 2010 CommonDreams.org Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is a multi-billion-dollar privately owned, publicly regulated utility whose main function is to make enormous profits for its shareholders at great cost to ratepayers. I know this to be true; I'm one of the ratepayers. Better than Bernard The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) permits PG&E to charge rates that are 30 percent higher than the national average. PG&E's shareholders enjoy a guaranteed 11.35 percent yearly return on equity. That's slightly higher than the 11 percent that swindler Bernard Madoff pretended to offer his investment victims. After Madoff was exposed, his victims were chided for not having realized that no one pulls down an 11 percent return year after year on the stock market. But PG&E investors take in more than that every year. And unlike Madoff, the company's earnings are for real, guaranteed at a fixed return devoid of risk. PG&E enjoys a captive consumer market of fifteen million customers in northern and central California. The utility is a shining monument to state-supported monopoly capitalism. If costs rise, then so do customer rates (in order to guarantee the 11.35 percent return). PG&E carries a $17 million insurance premium and additional millions in insurance deductibles; these expenses too are picked up by its ratepayers. If northern and central California's gas and electric services were publicly owned (yes, socialism), there would be no 11.35 percent skim off the top going to rich investors, no fat salaries and bonuses and huge severance packages pocketed by top executives, no billions of dollars in private wealth to be traded on the stock market. Customer rates would probably be one-third to one-half lower than they are today. And gas pipelines would be in better repair. An Avoidable Catastrophe Along with all the other expenses they bear, PG&E's ratepayers usually pay for the enormous costs of utility accidents. This may still prove to be the case with the disaster recently visited upon San Bruno. On 9 September 2010, a PG&E pipeline blew apart. Gas explosions and flames ripped through the San Bruno community, taking the lives of at least eight people, injuring over fifty others (some very seriously), and completely destroying or damaging upwards of a hundred homes. An official from the National Transportation Safety Board described it: "My immediate assessment was the amazing destruction, the charred trees, the melted and charred cars, the houses disappeared". In the weeks before the catastrophe, residents had been reporting gas odors and had voiced fears about a leak. But this brought no action from the company. A state assemblyman from the San Bruno area noted that the torn pipeline was over 60 years old, having been installed in 1948. He criticized PG&E for its poor maintenance and lax response. After the explosion, it took the company almost three hours to shut off the gas supply. Company officials had known since 2007 that the aged pipeline serving San Bruno needed to be replaced. As reported by The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a public interest group, the PUC had granted PG&E a $5 million rate increase to replace the pipeline in 2009, but the company never got around to doing the work. Instead PG&E overspent its budget on executive bonuses and delayed pipeline replacement until 2013. Then it had the gall to request another $5 million rate increase to replace the same neglected section of pipeline. The disastrous September 2010 explosion likely would have been averted if the utility had dealt with the pipeline in 2009 as originally slated. PG&E has a history of dangerous mishaps: improper piping allowed gas to leak from a mechanical coupling in 2006; a leak in Rancho Cordova led to an explosion that killed one resident and injured two others in 2008; over forty other gas pipeline accidents in the past decade. One wonders how many other California communities are at risk from aging and deficient pipelines. So much for the superior performance of a giant private-profit corporation. Not in the Safety Business This problem obtains not only in California. Throughout the United States people are at risk from improperly maintained gas lines belonging to private utilities that go largely unsupervised and unpunished. Average fines are less than $30,000 and not easily collected. PG&E's CEO, Peter Darbee, formerly of Goldman Sachs (how perfect), reassured the public that he was "focused on the tragedy" in San Bruno and on "how best to respond to the authorities involved". Darbee failed to mention that PG&E is not in the safety business. Like so many big corporations, it does what it can to cut corners on maintenance. The lower the maintenance costs, the higher the profits. The corroding pipelines fit well into the picture, like the corroding infrastructure of the entire society. Safety is not a prime concern for giant corporations, if any concern at all, because safety does not bring in any money. In fact, it costs money. Like any other multibillion-dollar firm, PG&E is first and foremost in the business of making the highest possible payoffs for its shareholders and its executives. The system works just fine for those whose real job is to skim the cream, those who do not have to pay the costs. That is the alpha and omega of modern corporate capitalism. Capitalism at Work Lives were lost in San Bruno; homes were totally obliterated. Darbee and his cohorts should be facing jail sentences instead of golden parachutes. Even the Contra Costa Times (9/27/10)--no radical broadsheet--urged the PUC "not to allow PG&E to raise rates to cover the expense of the San Bruno explosion or the cost of doing more and better pipe inspections. These costs should be borne by PG&E managers, employees, and investors". Certainly managers and investors. Left out of the whole picture is how corporate malfeasance and corporate generated disasters are a reflection of the capitalist system. If a gas pipeline had exploded in communist Cuba, killing people and destroying homes, the incident would immediately have been treated by US commentators as evidence of the deficiencies of the broader economic system, as proof that socialism cannot do it right. But disasters in our own society are seen simply as immediate mishaps, at worst, instances of negligence and mismanagement by a particular company, never as the outcome of a broader capitalist system that steadfastly puts profits before people, with immense costs passed along to the public. The same is true of mining accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, unsafe auto vehicles, unsafe consumer products and foods, toxic spills, offshore-drilling calamities and a host of other noxious things that corporate America foists upon us. Private industries are not in the safety business. All of them are in the business of creating the largest possible profits for their shareholders and their executives. Pressed on the matter, they might admit as much. Steel magnate David Roderick once said that his company "is not in the business of making steel. We're in the business of making profits". The social uses of the product and its effects upon human well-being and the natural environment win consideration in capitalist production, if at all, only to the extent that they do not violate the profit goals of the corporation. Better Things To Do Rather than spend money on replacing aging pipelines, PG&E - just three months before the San Bruno catastrophe - poured $46 million of ratepayer money (ten times the amount needed for repairing the San Bruno pipeline) into the electoral campaign for Proposition 16. This initiative was designed to make it nigh impossible for local governments to purchase energy from alternative sources, impossible to get out from under PG&E's monopoly grip. The proposition was miraculously defeated despite the company's immense campaign outlay. With thousands of miles of aging pipes to inspect and perhaps replace, PG&E continues to find other things to do. Through most of 2010, it was busy putting "smart meters" into people's homes. The new meters do not need to be read by an employee out in the field. Instead data from residences and businesses are transmitted by a mesh network of radio signals. Critics argue that the smart meters are too smart. They often inflate electric bills. Worse still, they may be harmful to our health. There is evidence that radio-frequency exposure is linked to cancer and other diseases. A number of ratepayers already complain of being sickened by the heavy doses from smart meters. PG&E gives reassurances that the frequencies pose no great danger but it continues to face community resistance and skeptical questions from independent investigators. Smart meters cut labor costs. Lower labor costs do not bring lower rates for ratepayers but higher profits for managers and stockholders. Never accuse PG&E of neglect or stupidity. The company knows what it is doing. In keeping with the essence of the corporate capitalist system, PG&E exists not to serve the public but to serve itself. Michael Parenti's most recent books are The Culture Struggle (2006), Contrary Notions (2007), God and His Demons (2010), Democracy for the Few (9th ed. 2011), and The Face of Imperialism (forthcoming March 2011). For further information about his work, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org. --------22 of 22-------- --------------------------- Subpoena the ruling class --------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 for governor 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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