Progressive Calendar 10.23.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2010 22:19:04 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   10.23.10

1. Stillwater vigil   10.24 1pm
2. Pentel/governor    10.24 2:30pm
3. Green schools conf 10.24-26

4. Redistricting 2011 10.25 9am
5. Immigration laws   10.25 10:45am
6. Peace walk         10.25 6pm RiverFalls WI
7. River design       10.25 6:30pm
8. Amnesty Intl       10.25 7pm
9. Nice gals/FBI raid 10.25 7pm
10. Gelderloos/video  10.25 7pm
11. TroublWaters/free 10.25 7pm

12. Save North High   10.26 4:30pm
13. Rovics/Gelderloos 10.26 5pm
14. Erlinder/Dafur    10.26 6:30pm

15. Mike Whitney  - Vive la resistance! Thank god for France
16. Mark Weisbrot - Why French protestors have it right
17. Dave Lindorff - Up the revolution! Arise, ye homeowners of America
18. John Walsh    - Punish Obama; ignore the scare tactics
19. ed            - Pigskins  (haiku)

--------1 of 19--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 10.24 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

--------2 of 19------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: Pentel/Governor 10.24 2:30pm

Ken Pentel for Governor
Sunday, October 24th
2:30pm-La Asambleas de Derechos Civiles Candidate Forum
Incarnation-Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Catholic Church 3800 Pleasant Ave
S., Minneapolis

--------3 of 19--------

From: Alliance for Sustainability <sean [at]>
Subject: Green schools conf 10.24-26

Oct 24 to 26 - 1st Annual National Green Schools Conference, Mpls

Mon Oct 25 - 8 am to 6pm Green Schools National Youth Summit, Central
Lutheran, Mpls, FREE Meet 100 student leaders from across the state and
the US

From: Joe Nathan <jnathan [at]>

Subject: District, charter educators & students cooperating to share info
about green schools

Give several hundred district and charter school teachers from Minnesota
and 49 other states, businesspeople and students an A for making our
planet a priority.  Theyre coming together October 24-26 in Minneapolis,
for what they describe as the nations first conference bringing together
schools, non-profits, government and corporate partners to help encourage
the growing National Green Schools Movement**

Abby Fenton of the Will Steger Foundation, who is helping plan the Youth
Summit, wants students to know that they can attend this part of the
conference at no cost. (For info, go to and * (*1-800-280-6218)**

Conference speakers will share experience and research, including
      Research showing that certain types of studying about the
environment can and have helped improve test scores
      There are a variety of new, emerging jobs in this field that
students can consider.
      Using green building techniques can save significant dollars for
public schools, by allowing them to use less energy
      Existing buildings also can be modified in cost effective ways to
reduce energy costs
      District and charter public schools are developing intriguing
curriculum that helps students learn about the environment, and the
controversies in this field

Ron Bratlie, formerly an administrator in the Elk River school district is
doing a workshop at the meeting.  He'll share the districts experience in
constructing two green buildings.  Bratlie will explain that going green
isn't just about the school buildings: GIS (Geographic Information
Systems) technologies should be used to green your district:  save time,
money, and energy in areas of site selection and planning, transportation,
student services, facilities, public relations, demographics, bond and
levy elections.

Bratlie told me, Communities have the ability to build better buildings
with a better environment yielding better students costing less to operate
at no additional cost. We need to re-think our approach to facilities.
School boards must voice expectations for building performance goals to
the professional that they hired to design, build, and then measure the
results achieved.

James Steckart, Director of the Northwest Passage Charter in Coon Rapids
also will be presenting at the conference.  He told me last week, America
has always been on the cutting edge of innovation...the green movement is
the next stage in that evolution.  Green sector jobs have the potential to
revitalize our economy by creating highly skilled workers, while at the
same time reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources and promoting
a healthy world to leave to our children.

He continued, Schools need to be the leaders in teaching our young people
these concepts, skills and ideas through innovative and hands on learning.
We see the energy light up in our students eyes when they are given the
chance to learn something relevant while providing a chance to better
their world. The Green School Conference and the forming of the Minnesota
chapter bring resources and ideas together supporting these concepts.

Conference organizers suggest that people attending might include
different disciplines/job titles who may not normally attend a conference
together: such as administrators, facility managers, school CFOs/business
officers, school board members, teachers, purchasing officers, school
lunch managers, transportation managers, business/community leaders,
parent, students, and policymakers.

Sounds like a great opportunity, and terrific collaboration.

--------4 of 19--------

From: TruthToTell <andydriscoll [at]>
Subject: Redistricting 2011 10.25 9am

TruthToTell Mon Oct 25 @9AM: REDISTRICTING 2011: First, Consider Your
Cities - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7/Online

And now it begins - at least at the local level. The battle over who is
represented by whom for the next ten years is under way with discussions
about the upshot of population growth or shrinkage in some districts as
well as shifts from one district to the next - or several miles away. As
the 2010 Census figures are compiled for presentation early next year,
coalitions are forming to ensure that statewide redistricting is seriously
reformed after decades of Legislative redistricting wound up in the courts
- and still safe districts for incumbents were the outcome. When once we
thought it possible Minnesota's eight Congressional districts might be
whittled to seven by the Census outcome, it now appears we'll hold the
eight by a very slim margin - as little as 1,500 souls.

Minneapolis has a question on the November 2nd ballot asking whether the
city's Charter Commission should be the body to redraw City Ward and Park
District lines, unlike the political-party-appointed Redistricting
Commission, which ten years ago found itself under a cloud for its
DFL-heavy redistricting out of Green Party incumbents and other anomalies
which landed the entire process in court. [I learned never to
underestimate DFL selfish meanness. If you want a free knife, turn your
back on the DFL. -ed]

This time out, the struggle is over whether the Charter Commission, itself
questionably representative of the city as a whole, is likely to properly
redraw the city's lines of representation. (Under state statute, all
Charter Commissions are appointed from pools of self-selected applicants
by the chief judge of the appropriate district court of jurisdiction, in
this case the¬ Chief Judge of the Hennepin County District Court.)

Saint Paul's Charter Commission is itself the city's redistricting
commission (Disclosure: your servant was a member of that body for eight
years back in 1990 and was part of the redrawing of St. Paul's Ward
boundaries). Many think that's enough. But, again, with chief judges
appointing (Ramsey County, in this case), can it be as representative of
the city's diversity or not?

And yet, how to ensure diversity, anyway?

TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN query those zeroing in on this
issue - some for the coming referendum in Minneapolis, the others for
Saint Paul or the statewide planning process quickly coming into place for
2011 and 2012.

 KEESHA GASKINS - Executive Director, League of Women Voters of Minnesota
 MIKE DEAN - President, Common Cause, Minnesota
 BARRY CLEGG, Chair, Minneapolis Charter Commission and Attorney, Gray
Plant Mooty
 JOHN VAN HECKE - Chair, Saint Paul Charter Commission and Executive
Director, Minnesota 2020

--------5 of 19--------

From: Bonnie Watkins <bonnie [at]>
Subject: Immigration laws 10.25 10:45am

October 25: Minneapolis Branch American Association of University Women
Meeting. 9:30 AM: Monday Interest Groups. 10:45 AM: Supporting Fair and
Just Immigration Laws. 11:45 AM: Announcements. Noon: Luncheon. 11:15 PM:
Global Political Trends and the World Financial Crisis.

--------6 of 19--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 10.25 6pm RiverFalls WI

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

--------7 of 19--------

From: Elizabeth Dickinson <eadickinson [at]>
Subject: River design 10.25 6:30pm

About Saint Paul's Great River Park

In 2009, Saint Paul received funding from the Minnesota Legislature to
create a new vision for how we live, work, play, commute and connect with
the Mississippi River. A master plan for Saint Paul's 17-mile river valley
will deliver a prioritized list of projects that will restore natural
habitat and ecology, create economic vitality and provide better
connections to the river.

Saint Paul Parks & Recreation is leading a Great River Park Master
Planning design team, made up of national and local partners and
consultants. For more information:

City of Saint Paul
Parks and Recreation

Community Design Forum #2:
River Gorge and Valley
Monday, October 25 and Thursday, October 28
Ohage Boulevard, Harriet Island, Saint Paul (directions)

With tremendous citizen input from the first Community Design Forum
held October 11-14, the Great River Park Design Team will now focus
on the Gorge and Valley stretch of the Mississippi River in Saint
Paul, which runs from the I-94 Bridge to the High Bridge.

Share your ideas and visions for these special places on the river
Monday night; review how the Design Team brings your ideas to life
at Thursday night's Concept Review session.

Mark your calendar:
In November, the Design Team will focus on the Downtown and the
Floodplain stretches of the river (from the High Bridge to just above
the I-494 Bridge).

Community Design Forum #3: Downtown & Floodplain
November 8 and 10, 6:30-8:30pm
Wellstone Community Center
179 Robie Street, Saint Paul (directions)

--------8 of 19--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 10.25 7pm

Augustana Homes Seniors Group meets on Monday, October 25th, from 7:00 to
8:00 p.m. in the party room of the 1020 Building, 1020 E 17th Street,
Minneapolis. For more information contact Ardes Johnson at 612/378-1166 or
johns779 [at]

--------9 of 19--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Nice gals/FBI raid 10.25 7pm

Discussion: "What Are Nice Gals Like Us Doing Getting Raided by the
Monday, October 25, 7:00 p.m. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 East
31st Street, Minneapolis.

Recently, the FBI has raided anti-war activists and offices in several
cities, including Minneapolis. Several have received subpoenas to appear
before a grand jury this month. All have refused to testify, on the advice
of lawyers, and are at risk of further prosecution and jail. Speakers will
be: 71 year old anti-war activist and co-chair of WAMM, Sarah Martin, who
was subpoenaed; Meredith Aby, school teachers and member of the Anti-War
Committee whose home was raided; and lawyer and Holy Trinity member, Ted
Dooley. Sponsored by: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and WAMM. FF: Call
WAMM, 612-827-5364.

--------10 of 19--------

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at]>
Subject: Gelderloos/video 10.25 7pm

a free 3ctc screening of: an "our world in depth" video of author/activist
peter gelderloos speaking on the politics and science of climate change
and its holistic solutions

monday, october 25, 7:00 pm
mayday books
301 cedar avenue south
west bank, minneapolis

So far, 2010 is proving to be the warmest year on record, indicating that
the planet continues to warm due to interminable fossil-fuel combustion.
There have been many extreme weather events around the world, most notably
the horrendous floods and subsequent human suffering in Pakistan caused by
shifts in the monsoon rains and rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers. Also,
there has been a very active Atlantic Hurricane season brought on by
record warm sea surface temperatures four degrees above average and the
influence of a La Nina.  Minnesota entered the record books this year and
came in first with the most twisters of any state because of the customary
"Tornado Alley" having shifted northward onto the High Plains and into the
Great Lakes Region.  This forum is being held as part of the October
actions leading up to the COP 16 Climate Conference to be held in Cancun,
Mexico in late November & early December when a global agreement may or
may not be reached on greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The event is sponsored by the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities
(3CTC).  It is free and open to the public.  The Clean-Energy Vigil to
Cool Down the Planet takes place on the plaza outside the bookstore
(Weather permitting.) at 5:00 PM, followed by the 3CTC Business Meeting at
6:00 PM. All are welcome.  For more information, EMAIL:
christinefrank [at] or PHONE:  612-879-8937.

--------11 of 19--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: Troubled Waters/free 10.25 7pm

special free screening of troubled waters: a mississippi river story
monday, october 25, 7:00 pm
parkway theater
4814 chicago avenue south
followed by a panel with representatives from
the insitute for agriculture & trade policy
friends of the mississippi river
land stewardship project
mary turck, editor, twin cities daily planet, who covered the story

Pre-Register Online at
<>  Unfortunately, they have
already filled the seating capacity of the theater, but you can still
get on a waiting list.  Good Luck!

This film on the pollution of the Mississippi River Basin and Gulf of
Mexico with agricultural & urban run-off was suppressed by public
relations Vice President Karen Himle, who arbitrarily yanked it from
screenings at the Bell Museum and Twin Cities Public Television. As a
result of efforts by environmental groups and members of the media, 2500
emails have been released under the Minnesota Data Practices Act and are
being analyzed by those interested in knowing why this outrage has

Despite the apology that was on the front page of the Minneapolis Star
Tribune, the heavily censored emails tell the real story of Himle's
virulent hostility toward the film and the truth it tells of the poisoning
of our aquatic and marine ecosystems by agricultural chemicals and
nutrient overloading. Himle's flagrant suppression of academic freedom and
her labeling of peer-reviewed science as nothing but "propaganda", shows
her utter disregard for the integrity of the scientists, who participated
in the making of the film, and its director, Larkin McPhee, who is an
Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. Could it be that this self-appointed
arbiter of the "truth" is in the back pocket of agribusiness giants, who
have good reason to take offense? After all, they depend upon land grant
institutions such as the University of Minnesota to promote their
unsustainable, industrialized form of food production through extensions
services to farmers and gardeners as well as many corporate-funded,
multi-million-dollar research programs.

Find out for yourself if this film "vilifies agriculture", as Dean Allen
Levine of the UMN College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource
Sciences claims.

According to Alan Muller, who offers a brief critique below, it is
available on DVD through the Data Practices Act from the U of M. A few
years ago, 3CTC/Climate Change Coaliton--Twin Cities held a forum with

MN PCA Whistleblower Paul Wotzka, who spoke on the high levels of Atrazine
that he found in Southeastern Minnesota's streams.†We would like to follow
up on that with a future screening of Troubled Waters despite its apparent
shortcomings on issues such as the burning of biofuels.

From: Alan Muller [mailto:amuller [at]]
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:58 PM
To: Minnesota burner interest list :
Subject: "Troubled Waters--A Mississippi River Story" available on DVD

For those who may be interested, I got a DVD of this via a Data Practices
Act (FOIA) request to the President of the U of M.†The person responding
was Susan McKinney, susan.mckinney [at]

It's about 58 minutes. My reaction: Technically well done and easy to
watch. It makes well the connection between unsustainable agricultural
practices in the upper midwest and water quality problems in the Gulf of
Mexico, explains the grim future of Lake Pepin, negative consequences of
the "Farm Bill" .... There are some nice examples of better practices.
There is nothing "unfair" to ag interests. If widely circulated in may be

I feel quite critical of a section offering an unexamined, unbalanced
endorsement of "biomass" (wood, oat hulls, switchgrass) burning. (Plainly
enough, nothing, whether it be trees, or switchgrass, or whatever, can be
intensively cropped without tending to create some of the same problems
now experienced with corn and beans.) This problem might be invisible to
the U, itself deeply involved in the irrational promotion of "biomass."

Perhaps the makers also were not clear that there is a lot less energy in
10 gallons of ethanol than in 8 gallons of petroleum.

The film does not get into regulatory problems: That the present
fragmented, narrowly-focused, compromised, Clean Water Act process isn't
addressing the overall problems effectively. This is not likely to change
without major Federal intervention:  whole-Mississippi
"<> TMDL," seriously
enforced. See, for example, that the
water quality impairments acknowledged by the MPCA don't address the
problems of the Gulf. It's probably not realistic to think this would
happen absent Federal coordination.

Real action may now be happening for the
<> Chesapeake Bay, with a similar
multi-state problem, after decades of delay and excuse-making:
releases draft Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan

"The states and EPA have reneged on promises over the past 27 years
to clean the Chesapeake, suffering few consequences beyond a still-dirty bay."
"Things are different now that President Barack Obama has made the
cleanup a priority, EPA officials say."
Will environmental interests in the Midwest and Gulf states demand
similar action on behalf of the Mississippi and the Gulf?

Alan Muller Energy & Environmental Consulting 113 W. 8th Street Red Wing,
MN, 55066 Box 69 One Stewart Street Port Penn, DE, 19731 302.299.6783
alan [at]

--------12 of 19--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: Save North High 10.26 4:30pm

Subject: TUES: OCT.26:Rally to SAVE NORTH HIGH @ School Board Meeting,
4:30pm - spread the word!
PROTEST to SAVE NORTH HIGH at the School Board Meeting

TUESDAY, Oct. 26
4:30pm - Rally outside the School District Headquarters
5:30pm - March into the Board Meeting
LOCATION: 807 Broadway Ave. NE, Minneapolis

Despite widespread community protests, the Minneapolis Board of Education
is set to vote on the proposal to close North High School at their
November 9th meeting. But with a growing tide of community opposition, and
an election in two weeks, Board members face growing pressure to step back
from this attack on the students and the wider North-side community. Now
is the time to step up the pressure on the Board. With an all-out
community mobilization, we can stop this! Help spread the word!

Invite friends to Facebook Event:

1)      Withdraw the proposal to close North High; instead re-invest and
re-build North High
2)      Re-establish a "home-zone" for North High to boostenrollment
3)      In partnership with parents, teachers, and students, develop an
aggressive, fully-funded plan to boost enrollment at North
4)      Immediately open a dialogue with teachers, students, parents, and
the community to create a community-based public school

Sign the the Petition "Don't Close North High"

Send a letter of protest to all School Board members:

--------13 of 19--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Rovics/Gelderloos 10.26 5pm

The finale of the recent David Rovics concert in St. Paul featuring "The
Internationale", "Song for Francis Hughes" and "Life is Beautiful". Plus,
excerpts of a talk delivered by international activist and author Peter
Gelderloos filmed at May Day Books in April.

Given the proliferation of recent FBI raids and subpoenas forced upon
local anti-war activists, Gelderloos' commentary on state repression and
the War on Terrorism is especially relevant.  This show is dedicated to
the several Twin Cities activists who, over the last 3 years, have faced
charges or investigations relating to the dubious "War on Terrorism".

SPNN 15 viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN)
Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am,
after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 10/26 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 10/27, 10am
"Rovics at the Black Dog/Gelderloos on State Repression & the War on Terror"
Stream shows @

--------14 of 19--------

From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: Erlinder/Dafur 10.26 6:30pm

Peter Erlinder on "Darfur and the International Criminal Court: the
reality behind the facade"
Pax Conversational Salon
Tuesday, October 26, 6:30 to 8:30pm
Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West Seventh, St. Paul.

Peter Erlinder:
Professor of Law at William Mitchell College of Law
Lead Defense Counsel at the UN Tribunal for Rwanda
Past National President (93-97) of the National Lawyers Guild
Recently released from a Rwanda prison

New additional longer (auto)bio:

Academic Career: Prof. Peter Erlinder began his preparation for legal
academia repairing garbage trucks and performing "hands-on environmental
upgrading" in the alleys of the Southside of Chicago, where President
Obama began his career as a community organizier and Michelle Robinson
Obama was raised. He attended Georgetown Law School and graduated from the
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law.  He was a
Bigelow Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School and on the
Clinical Faculty at IIT/Chgo-Kent before joing the Wm Mitchell College of
Law Faculty in 1982. He has been a visited and lectured at Columbia U; U.
of Wisconsin; ; Geo. Wash. U;  U of Texas;  Waseda U (Tokyo); U of Paris;
Erasmus U, The Hague, and others.  He is the Director of the International
Humanitarian Law Institute, St. Paul, MN.

Publication: He is the co-author of the three-volume treatise Criminal
Constitutional Law (Lexis/Nexis) and author of numerous academic articles,
which have been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States, various
States, and many lower federal and state courts.  His commentaries are
carried by domestic and international media, such as the New York Times;
Washington Post; Chicago Tribune, major Minnesota dailies; International
Herald Tribune; the Guardian; BBC; CNN; CBS; PBS; Al-Jazeera; CBC, etc. He
is President of the Association des Avocats de la Defense (ADAD- defense
lawyers of the UN-Rwanda Tribunal) ; Lead Defense Counsel-UN Rwanda
Tribunal; past-President of the National Lawyers Guild; Founder of the
National Police Accountability Project; founding Board Member, National
Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (to oppose "secret evidence"
deportations) and National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (opposing
pre-textual prosecutions of Muslims and politically-motivated "material
support" prosecutions; Legal Advisor, Somali Justice Advocacy Center.

Legal Practice: Practice: first successful criminal defense of Vietnam
Veterans suffering psychological effects of war (PTSD);  first
Inter-American Human Rights claim against Peruvian Fujimori dictatorship
use of " faceless judges" (Dr. Abimael Guzman); defense counsel post-9/11
for Omar Jamal and many members of Minnesota's Somali community; U.S.
counsel for families of Japanese students killed by US submarine off
Hawaii; counsel for Minnesotans civilly-incarcerated for life without jury
trials or chance for release; defense counsel for the Cuban Five, Cuban
anti-terrorists convicted on false-espionage charges; defense counsel for
Palestinian-academic/activist Dr. Sami al Arian, acquitted of "terrorism
charges" but incarcerated;  Muhamed Warsame, longest pre-trial detainee in
US history (61/2 years in solitary confinement post-9/11); Muslims facing
politically-motivated charges; political activists facing
poltically-motivated repression on "material support" and other charges;
won first acquittals at UN Rwanda Tribunal on conspiracy and planning to
commit genocide charges; and, numerous clients without power or privilege,
whose fundamental constitutional or human rights have been violated, the
vindication of which contribute to protecting civil liberties and
democracy for all of a matter of principle.

Prof. Peter Erlinder Wm. Mitchell College of Law St. Paul, MN. USA

Contact: Gena Berglund gena [at] 651-208-7964

--------15 of 10--------

Vive La Resistance!
Thank God for France
October 22 - 24, 2010

Thank God for France. While American liberals tremble at the idea of
sending an angry e mail to congress for fear that their name will appear
on the State Department's list of terrorists, French workers are on the
front lines choking on tear gas and fending off billyclubs in hand-to-hand
combat with Sarkozy's Gendarmerie. That's because the French haven't
forgotten their class roots. When the government gets too big for its
britches, people pour out onto to the streets and Paris becomes a warzone
replete with overturned Mercedes Benzs, smashed storefront windows, and
stacks of smoldering tires issuing pillars of black smoke. This is what
democracy looks like when it hasn't been emasculated by decades of
propaganda and consumerism. Here's a blurp from the trenches:


"French Energy Sector Crippled by Nationwide Strike... French energy
facilities are close to total disruption in the wake of nationwide strike
against the raise of the retirement age.....France has been hit by
numerous protests across the country against a controversial pension
reform that would rise the retirement age to 62 from 60....On October 22
morning 80 protesters blockaded Grandpuits oil refinery outside Paris, key
supplier for Charles de Gaulle and Orly international airport." (The

Shut 'em down.

Take note, Tea Party crybabies who moan about restoring "our freedoms"
while stuffing the backyard bunker with seed corn and ammo. Glenn Beck
won't save you from the "mean old" gov'mint. Liberty isn't free anymore.
If you want it, get out of the barko-lounger and organize. The amount of
freedom that any nation enjoys is directly proportionate to the amount of
blood its people spilled fighting the state. No more, no less. The man who
is willing to accept the blunt force of a cop's truncheon on his back is
infinitely more praiseworthy than the leftist/rightist scribe crooning
from the bleachers. The state isn't moved by lyrical editorials or prosaic
manifestos. It responds to force alone, which is why it takes people who
are willing to "throw themselves on the gears" of the apparatus and stop
it from moving forward. Unfortunately, most of those people appear to live
in France.

The resistance is steadily building in France. The budding rebellion is
cropping up everywhere - "secondary schools, train stations, refineries
and highways have been blockaded, there have been occupations of public
buildings, workplaces, commercial centers, directed cuts of electricity,
and ransacking of electoral institutions and town halls..." And the big
unions are calling for more strikes, more agitation, more ferment.

For more than a week, transportation has been blocked across the France
due to the protests by students and workers. Sarkozy's popularity has
plummeted. 65% of people surveyed don't like the way the French president
is handling the strikes. 79% of the people would like to see Sarkozy
negotiate with the Union on terms and conditions, but he won't budge.
Thus, the cauldron continues to boil while the prospect of violence rises.


This is from an anonymous striker:

"In each city, these actions are intensifying the power struggle and
demonstrate that many are no longer satisfied with the order imposed by
the union leadership. In the Paris region, amongst the blockades of train
stations and secondary schools, the strikes in the primary schools, the
workers pickets in front of the factories, people create
inter-professional meetings and collectives of struggle are founded to
destroy categorical isolation and separation. Their starting point:
self-organization to meet the need to take ownership over our struggles
without the mediation of those who claim to speak for workers.

We decided Saturday to occupy the Opera Bastille. This was to disturb a
presentation that was live on radio, to play the trouble makers in a place
where the cultural merchandise circulates and to organize an assembly
there. So we met with more than a thousand people at the "place de la
nation., with banners stating "the bosses understand only one language:
Strike, blockade, sabotage." (end of communique)

The action was met with predictable police violence and mass arrests.

The pension turmoil is not limited to France either. US pension funds are
underfunded by nearly $3 trillion. Will US workers be as willing as their
French counterparts to face the beatings (to defend "what's theirs") or
will they throw up their hands and appeal to Obama for help?

There's no question that Washington elites have joined with Wall Street to
offload the massive debts from the financial meltdown onto workers and
retirees. Nor is their any doubt that they will invoke (what Slavoj Zizek
calls) a "permanent state of economic emergency" to justify their actions.
That will allow them to move ahead with so-called "austerity measures"
that are designed to impoverish workers and strip popular government
programs of their funding. The trend towards "belt-tightening" merely
masks the ongoing class war which is aimed at restoring a feudal system of
royalty and serfs.

This is from an article by economist Mark Weisbrot:

"If the French want to keep the retirement age as is, there are plenty of
ways to finance future pension costs without necessarily raising the
retirement age. One of them, which has support among the French left - and
which Sarkozy claims to support at the international level - would be a
tax on financial transactions. Such a 'speculation tax' could raise
billions of dollars of revenue - as it currently does in the U.K. - while
simultaneously discouraging speculative trading in financial assets and
derivatives. The French unions and protesters are demanding that the
government consider some of these more progressive alternatives."

But the retirement age is not really the issue at all. This is about union
busting and "putting people in their place." It's about "who will
call-the-shots" and in whose interests will society be run.

The French are fighting back against this "oligarchy of racketeers" and
the ripoff system they represent, while, namby-pamby Americans are
neutralized by signing their umpteenth petition or venting their spleen at
a Palin rally.

Vive la France. Vive la Resistance.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state and cvan be reached at
fergiewhitney [at]

--------16 of 19--------

No Need to Raise the Retirement Age
Why French Protestors Have It Right
October 22 - 24, 2010

The demonstrations that have rocked France this past week highlight some
of its differences from the United States. This photo, for example, shows
the difference between rioting in baseball-playing versus soccer-playing
countries. In the U.S., we would pick up the tear gas canister and THROW
it - rather than kick it - back at the police.

More importantly the French have decided to take to the streets in the
millions to defend hard-won retirement gains - including large-scale
strikes and work stoppages. French populist rage is being directed in a
positive direction, unlike in the United States where it is most
prominently being mobilized to elect political candidates who will do
their best to increase the suffering of working and middle-class citizens.
(It must be emphasized, since the media sometimes forgets to make the
distinction, that only a tiny percentage of France's demonstrators have
engaged in any kind of property damage and even fewer in violence, with
all but these few protesting peacefully.)

I have to admit it was perplexing to watch the French elect President
Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, a man who campaigned on the idea that France had
to make its economy more "efficient" like America's. In reality, he
couldn't have picked a worse time to peddle this mumbo-jumbo. The housing
bubble was already bursting in the United States and would soon cause not
only our own Great Recession but also drag most of the world economy into
the swamp with it. So much for that particular model of economic dynamism.

But Sarkozy had a lot of help from the major media, which was quite
enchanted with the American model at the time and helped promote a number
of myths that formed part of his campaign. Among these were the idea that
French social protections and employment benefits were "unaffordable in a
global economy," and that employers would hire more people if it were
easier to fire them, and if taxes were cut for the rich.

Sarkozy has recently abandoned one of his most politically unpopular tax
cuts for the rich, but there may be others. But he had also promised not
to raise the retirement age for the public pension system. This has
contributed to the mass outrage at his current proposal to raise it from
60 to 62, for those taking the reduced benefits, and from 65 to 67, for
full benefits. (In the United States Social Security system, most people
opt for the reduced benefit that is available beginning at age 62; full
benefits are available, for those born after 1959, at 67.)

Once again most of the media thinks the French are being unrealistic, and
should just get with the program like everyone else. The argument is that
life expectancy is increasing, so "we all" have to work longer. However
this is a bit like reporting half of a baseball score (or soccer if you
prefer). On the other side is the fact that productivity and GDP also
increase over time, and so it is indeed possible for the French to choose
to spend more years in retirement, and pay for it.

France's retirement age was last set in 1983. Since then, GDP per person
has increased by 45 percent. The increase in life expectancy is very small
by comparison. The number of workers per retiree declined from 4.4 in 1983
to 3.5 in 2010. But the growth of national income was vastly more than
enough to compensate for the demographic changes, including the change in
life expectancy. The situation is similar going forward: the growth in
national income over the next 30 or 40 years will be much more than
sufficient to pay for the increases in pension costs due to demographic
changes, while still allowing future generations to enjoy much higher
living standards than people today. It is simply a social choice as to how
many years people want to live in retirement and how they want to pay for

If the French want to keep the retirement age as is, there are plenty of
ways to finance future pension costs without necessarily raising the
retirement age. One of them, which has support among the French left - and
which Sarkozy claims to support at the international level - would be a
tax on financial transactions. Such a "speculation tax" could raise
billions of dollars of revenue - as it currently does in the U.K. - while
simultaneously discouraging speculative trading in financial assets and
derivatives. The French unions and protesters are demanding that the
government consider some of these more progressive alternatives.

It is therefore perfectly reasonable to expect that as life expectancy
increases, workers should be able to spend more of the lives in
retirement. And that is what most French citizens expect. They may not
have seen all of the arithmetic but they can see intuitively that as a
country grows richer year after year, they should not have to spend more
of their lives working. An increase in the retirement age is a highly
regressive cut that will hit working people hardest. Poorer workers have
shorter life expectancies and would lose a higher proportion of their
retirement years. Workers who have to retire early because of unemployment
or other hardships will take a benefit cut as a result of this change. And
of course this cut would not matter to the richest people who do not rely
on the public pension system for most of their retirement income.

France has a lower level of inequality than most of the OECD countries and
is one of only 5 - out of 30 OECD countries - that saw inequality
decrease from the mid-80s to the mid-2000s. It also had the largest
decrease in inequality in the group, although all of it was from the
mid-eighties to the mid-nineties. The country has until now resisted at
least some of the changes that have rolled the clock back for working and
especially low-income citizens in the high-income countries. The European
authorities (including the European Commission, European Central Bank, and
International Monetary Fund) are currently accelerating these regressive
changes in the weaker Eurozone economies (e.g. Greece, Spain, and
Ireland). All of these institutions and many politicians are trying to use
the current economic problems of Europe as a pretext to enact right-wing

Polls show more than 70 percent support for France's strikers despite the
inconvenience of fuel shortages and other disruptions. The French are
already sick of right-wing government, and that is also part of what is
generating the protests. France has a stronger left in than many other
countries, and one that has the ability and willingness to organize mass
protest, work stoppages, and educational efforts. They are fighting for
the future of Europe, and it is a good example for others. Hopefully, here
in the United States, we will be able to beat back any proposed benefit
cuts to our much less generous Social Security system, that are looming on
the horizon.

Mark Weisbrot is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic
and Policy Research. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security:
the Phony Crisis.

This article was originally published by The Guardian.

---------17 of 19--------

Up the Revolution!
Arise, Ye Homeowners of America, You Have Nothing to Lose But Your
October 22 - 24, 2010

The American Revolution, for all the pious talk about freedom and the
Rights of Man, was at bottom simply a matter of people not wanting to pay
their taxes.  It was about rank self interest, and it was a powerful

That rank self-interest could spark a new revolution - hopefully one that
will still also advance the cause of freedom and the Rights of Man.

Two issues are rushing to the fore that could have most Americans grabbing
pitchforks, guns, shovels, bats, mop handles, and whatever else they have
handy that could be useful in the streets.

The first is Social Security, and the angry mob is going to be the Baby
Boom Generation whose members, myself included, have paid 13-15 percent of
income into the Trust Fund now for over 40 years, expecting that at 66, we
could retire and collect our pensions. Now the greedheads on Wall Street
and their toadies in Washington are trying to say that we shouldn't be
able to count on that money. They want to make us wait until we're 68, 69
or 70, and they don't want to give us cost-of-living adjustments. They say
that the money's going to run out before we die (unless we oblige them and
starve), even though the reason for that is that they've been stealing all
that money and giving us Treasury Bills in return, which they now plan on
refusing to honor, saying it would mean raising taxes on our kids.
(Actually those T-Bills could be retired by taxing the rich, and leaving
our kids alone.)

Anyhow, when we hit 66, let me tell you: if our money isn't there, or if
we get to 76 and they try to take it away (and right now I'm supposed to
be able to count on collecting $22,000 a year when I retire), we'll be
ready to take out Washington and Wall Street. And we could do it, too.
Some in my generation, remember, spent a few years in Vietnam, and they
got the skills. Me, I'd be willing to take lessons.

But that's only part of it.

The other is the housing fiasco, and that's an even bigger cause for

See, that was our other bastion for retirement. All these years, Americans
have been fed this comforting myth that our homes are our castles, and
that the best investment we could make in life was to invest in the
"American Dream" of home ownership. Then Wall Street, having already
stripped the industrial base down to the concrete pads, looked around and
saw this huge pile of real estate ripe for the taking. They couldn't just
steal our property outright, though. After all, we all had these deeds on
file with the local county Deeds Office.

But we all had mortgages. And they figured out a way to steal these. They
created derivatives, called Mortgage Backed Securities. They took our
mortgages and they chopped them up into little pieces, which they then
bundled into tranches and started trading like bonds. These tranches were
designed to have varying risk levels, which they accomplished by putting
"good" mortgages - those that were expected to be repaid regularly - with
"bad" mortgages - those likely to default.  But since it's really a guess
whether any particular mortgage, good or bad, is going to default, they
didn't really put individual mortgages into individual tranches. They put
them all into an electronic data base called MERS, for Mortgage Electronic
Registration (sic) System, and then shifted them, or pieces of them,
around as needed when they wanted to create a good tranche or a bad
tranche or a mediocre tranche.

This meant that they had to deliberately sever the chain of ownership of
the repayment note formerly attached to those mortgages - because it's the
note, which is signed at a closing, that actually entitles the holder
collect payments on a mortgage, or to foreclose on a defaulted property.

Get this now: What I'm saying here is that the banking industry
deliberately broke the chain of ownership on all the mortgages that have
been securitized, not just on those famous subprime mortgages you've been
hearing so much about.

In other words, if you, like most Americans who are not renters, own a
home and have been dutifully paying off a mortgage, it's almost certain
that your local bank, which issued that document now in your safe deposit
box and on file at your county's Deeds Office, no longer holds the note.
It has long since been lost, perhaps even tossed into some shredder, and
so nobody has a clue who has a right to foreclose on your home. In fact,
nobody does have that right.

If you were to go to your bank and demand to see your mortgage note before
you pay them another goddamned dime (which I'm planning to do, out of
curiosity, next week at my bank, which is now on its fourth new sign since
the little community bank that issued my mortgage back in 1997 was first
taken over), chances are they wouldn't be able to produce it, and wouldn't
have any idea how to find out who, if anyone, has it.

That means that, at least in most states in the United States, including
my state of Pennsylvania, nobody could legally take my house if I just
decided that I'm through paying mortgage payments.

According to a recent survey by American CoreLogic, one quarter of all
mortgaged homes in America today are worth less than the amount owed on
the mortgage. This is thanks to the reckless behavior of the banking
industry. The tens of millions of homeowners in that situation, along with
the tens of millions more who have seen the value of their property
plummet, could just march into their bank, demand to see their mortgage
repayment note, and, if it's not produced, march back home and stop paying
off that mortgage.

That would be one hell of an economic stimulus! For me, it would mean
about $1200 a month in extra cash every month.

For the banks, though, this must be a nightmare scenario.

That's why the stock market swooned today, dropping 1.5% like a rock on
news that a group of rather prominent investors that had bought $47
billion in mortgage backed securities from Bank of America were demanding
that the nation's biggest bank buy them back.  Those securities were
issued by Countrywide Financial, which went bust and was taken over by B
of A, and they are basically worthless today, Buying them back at face
value would be a huge blow to B of A, whose shares slumped 4.4% on news of
the bondholders' demand.

But that's just the start. It's just one bank, and it's the suckered
holders of the securities - primarily investment house PIMCO, hedge fund
Blackrock and, get this, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  These
supposedly sophisticated investors are trying to get their money out
before the proverbial shit hits the fan, because they know all these
mortgages, which B of A has been calling "assets," and which still get
listed on the books at their face value, are in truth essentially

But B of A is just the tip of the iceberg. All the "too-big-to-fail" banks
and most regional banks are in the same situation.

And American homeowners haven't yet gotten the word - because the
corporate media is keeping it pretty well covered up, out of concern no
doubt for all the banks that buy advertising - that really they don't owe
these wretched banks that brought on this economic crisis anything at all.

When they do get the word, things are going to start getting really

We may get a real tea party, instead of this fake one funded by the Koch
Brothers and Fox TV. Only instead of dumping tea in Boston Harbor, we'll
be dumping bales of mortgages.

In fact, here's a proposal: Want to see our elected officials sit up, take
notice, and stop treating the bankers so nicely? Let's have a national
mortgage protest month this December. Everyone should skip a mortgage
payment during the holiday season and instead send in a note to their bank
saying that they are not paying on their mortgage until the bank produces
proper documentation - a properly signed and notarized mortgage note - to
prove that they owe the money and to whom it is actually owed. If angry
French people can take to the streets and shut their country down over an
effort to impose regressive changes in their retirement program, we
Americans should at least be able to organize a national protest by mail!

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new
independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run, alternative online

--------18 of 19--------

Punish Obama
Ignore the Scare Tactics. There is no Tea Party
by John Walsh
October 21st, 2010
Dissident Voice

"There are many things that I have publicly said that I support the Obama
administration on. I support Obama's decision to send troops to
Afghanistan. I support Obama's decision for drones. I support Obama's
decision to treat the American who is recruiting terrorists on American
soil, who is hiding in Yemen, I support the decision for our intelligence
agencies to do whatever it takes to take him out."
  - Christine O'Donnell, GOP Senatorial Candidate from Delaware

Why does no one on the Left say it outright ? Obama and his Democratic
Party gang should be punished mercilessly in the November elections. If
they escape such punishment, then they will continue to break every real
and implied promise to their base; and the goals of an end to wars and a
decent, secure life will continue to be trampled under foot.

Let us remember that Obama was not, and is not, simply the candidate of
the Democrats. He was and is the candidate of the most "liberal" or
"progressive" wing of the Democrat Party, the candidate of "Progressive"
Democrats of America, of Norman Solomon, of Medea Benjamin, of Michael
Moore and on and on. If this wing of the Democrat Party betrays the hopes
of its supporters, then surely there is nothing decent remaining in the
Party. And so it has become apparent in the last two years.

The people understand this fact far better than the pundits of the liberal
"Left," at the Huffington Post, The Nation, etc; and the people have
already registered their discontent. A striking fact bears this out. Since
1970, the turnout in Democratic primaries has been dropping inexorably as
the Democrats piled betrayal upon betrayal. And this year, according to
data compiled by American University, the "average percentage of eligible
citizens who voted in Democratic primaries was the lowest ever. The
average percentage of citizens who voted in the GOP statewide primaries
was the highest since 1970.. . Democratic turnout was 8.3 percent of the
eligible electorate, lower than the 8.7 percent of the electorate who
voted during this period in 2006 and continuing [an] almost linear descent
in Democratic primary turnout since 20.7 percent voted in the party's
primaries in 1966". Why? It is a simple reflection of reality. In his 2008
campaign Ralph Nader patiently and exhaustively documented how the
Democrats have become more and more like the Republicans with each passing
year, and so it is not strange that the response of the electorate to both
parties has ranged from disinterest to disdain.

So what remains for the Dems? How can they scrounge up some badly needed
votes this November? Scare tactics is about all they have left - which I
might add is also the only thing the Republicans offer. If your email
inbox is like mine, it is brimming with pleas from the Dems to fill their
campaign coffers so that they can save us from the Tea Party, from China
and a handful of shadowy billionaires. The Tea Party is especially useful
in this regard. It is great for the Republicans because it gives the
appearance that the GOP has some connection to real people at the grass

But for the Dems the Tea Party is even more bountiful since it is pictured
as a mass movement, racist to the core and about to plunge the country
into a fascist abyss. However, as Anthony Dimaggio and Paul Street report
in an article entitled "The Tea Party Does Not Exist" in Black Agenda
Report, "The white nationalist Boogie Man that has the NAACP and the
Democrats on the run isn't a bonafide social movement, at all, but a
top-down creation of media and millionaires. The Tea Party is generally
drawing much smaller crowds than the leftish U.S. Social Forum, but
garners far more coverage from a corporate media that portrays the
phenomenon as "rising up from the grassroots against establishment
politics... All indications are that the Tea Party is poorly organized and
funded at the local level". Yes, there is anger aplenty out there as there
should be, but it has not yet found a mass organizational basis, certainly
not in the Tea Party. And neither the liberal "Left" nor the Right,
neither Dems nor Republicans, with their basic loyalty to the elite of
Finance and the project of Empire, are in a position to tap that anger
which is after all directed at their masters.

The other bogeymen conjured up by the Obamanites are the Koch brothers,
libertarian conservatives who draw the poorly penned ire of Frank Rich and
Jane Mayer whose accounts are masterpieces of lies by omission. As Justin
Raimondo has pointed out in a very informative essay, "What Rich, Mayer,
and the other chroniclers of the 'Invisible Hands' behind the
libertarian-conservative movement elide from their pocket history is the
one factor that sets the Kochs apart from post-cold war conservatives (and
liberals), and that is their untrammeled anti-militarism. The Cato
Institute, which was started with Koch money, stood almost alone in
Washington against the first Iraq war [.pdf], and staunchly opposed the
more recent invasion - just as they oppose Obama's wars in Afghanistan and
beyond. Cato has also stood up for our civil liberties, opposing the
PATRIOT Act, and the whole panoply of post-9/11 repressive measures
initiated by the Bush administration and expanded by Obama. Right after
9/11, the Koch brothers gave the ACLU $20 million to fight off the
Bushies' assault on the Constitution (George Soros gave half as much). ..
The Kochs stand at the end of a long albeit virtually unknown tradition.
The American Liberty League, which Rich and his ideological allies
disdain, was financed by many of the same businessmen who later founded
the biggest organized peace movement in our history, the America First
Committee. A thoroughgoing anti-interventionism motivated these men". Now
isn't that interesting? And might those who despise war and Empire not
find a lot more in common with the Kochtopus than the Obamanite Dems?

Obama is racing about the land in unseemly panic, railing against "the
failed policies of the Bush administration" - presumably the policies of
waging war, bailing out the banksters while neglecting job creation and
mortgage foreclosures, handing over the health care system to the
murderous moguls of the health insurance industry, spying on antiwar
activists, continuing the extraordinary renditions to torture chambers all
over the globe, increasing military spending and on and on. There is no
danger of returning to those policies since Obama never abandoned them.
They are now the failed policies of the Obama administration.

Just listen to Christine O'Donnell, the Wicked Witch of Delaware: "There
are many things that I have publicly said that I support the Obama
administration on. I support Obama's decision to send troops to
Afghanistan. I support Obama's decision for drones. I support Obama's
decision to treat the American who is recruiting terrorists on American
soil, who is hiding in Yemen, I support the decision for our intelligence
agencies to do whatever it takes to take him out". And she is no
exception, as Glenn Greenwald points out: "In addition to Christine
O'Donnell's effusive praise for Obama's Terrorism and war actions in
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, Bush CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden
has repeatedly praised Obama's "powerful continuity" with Bush/Cheney in
these areas; torture choreographer Condoleezza Rice came out of a meeting
with the President on Friday and praised his foreign policy and hailed him
as "a defender of America's interests"; and one of the most ardent
defenders of Obama's assassination program is the incomparably unhinged
anti-Muslim fanatic Andrew McCarthy of National Review".

So what is to be done? You are probably flooded with desperate pleas from
Dems for money and support. If there is not a dime's worth of difference
between the two parties, then I submit neither deserves a dime nor even a
nickel. Since there is no lesser evil, there is no lesser evil for which
to vote. And if you feel betrayed by Obama and his minions, then let
November 2 be the day of reckoning.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar [at]

--------19 of 19--------


 Let's all help kick the
 rich through the goal posts of life.
 Steel-toed shoes work best.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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