Progressive Calendar 10.16.10
From: David Shove (
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]>
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]>
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
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]>
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 to RSVP
or call 612-278-7213 to get more info.  Can't attend on Sat, check out
other workshops coming up at

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:

--------4 of 22--------

From: Dara Syrkin <dsyrkin [at]>
Subject: TC book festival 10.16 10am

Saturday, October 16
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.,

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]>
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,

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]>
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

--------7 of 22--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
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,

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]>
Subject: CUAPB 10.16 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

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

--------9 of 22--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: James Kunstler 10.16 1:30pm

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
Saturday, October 16, 2010
10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Minneapolis Community & Technical College,
conveniently located in Downtown Minneapolis.
Spectacular Authors  All-Day Exhibit  Used Book Sale
Children's Pavilion  Great Panel Discussions  Lit Mag FairÂ

--------10 of 22--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.16 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------11 of 22--------

From: "Jaime (Brian) Hokanson" <bjhokanson [at]>
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
 -- help us create a new radical resource center for the TC! --

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: and get your own copy of the Coal poster at

--------12 of 22--------

From: John Knefel <johnknefel [at]>
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.

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]>
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

--------14 of 22--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: CO/v war 10.17 12:30pm

Forum on Lutherans and Conscience: "Conscience Related to Military Service
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]

--------15 of 22--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
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

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

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

"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]>
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:

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

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
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

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

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
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

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

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.

--------21 of 22--------

Death and Profits: The Utility Protection Racket
by Michael Parenti
Thursday, October 14, 2010

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

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

                     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

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:

--------22 of 22--------

                       Subpoena the ruling class


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