Progressive Calendar 12.07.10
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2010 02:39:23 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   12.07.10

1. Zirin/sports    12.07 5pm
2. Climate change  12.07 5pm
3. WILPF party     12.07 5:30pm
4. Speak easy      12.07 6:30pm
5. Energy past oil 12.07 7pm

6. Chris Hedges   - Happy as a hangman
7. Rich Broderick - Free market puts Ireland on starvation diet .. again
8. ed             - Fungus  (haiku)

--------1 of 8--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Zirin/sports 12.07 5pm

"Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love"
Author of "Bad Sports" & avid sports lover, Dave Zirin humorously recounts
stories uncovering the devolution of team owners and their negative impact
on the games fans love.  Given ongoing attempts by Minnesota Vikings owner
Zygi Wilf to convince the local public to buy him a new stadium "or else",
Zirin's book and commentary are extremely well timed. (Nov., 2010)

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, 12/7 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 12/8, 10am
"Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love"


--------2 of 8--------

From: Alliance for Sustainability <sean [at] afors.org>
Subject: Climate change 12.07 5pm

Tues December 7 from 5 to 7pm  From Cancun to Minnesota: Reclaiming a
People's Agenda for climate Change -- Midtown Global Market, 920 East
Lake St in the former Jade Restaurant,
http://www.iatp.org/events/#mncancun


--------3 of 8--------

From: Doris Marquit <marqu001 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: WILPF party 12.07 5:30pm

wilpflogoMnWILPF 2010 Winter Party
Tuesday Dec. 7   5:30-7:30 pm
Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, MN Metro Branch, cordially
invites you to celebrate Winter & our history of peace-making

1920 S. 1st St., Minneapolis

Highrise east of 7 Corners, just north of Humphrey Institute, U of M West
Bank. From South Washington Ave., turn left at 19th Ave. S. Take the first
right onto S. 2nd St., turn right at S. 1st St. Before the Tower you will
pass a parking lot on the left. Park in visitors' section; register car in
building entry.

Appetizers, wine, juice, coffee, & tea provided.

Just bring yourself - plus a guest or two if you wish (don't you know
someone who should learn about WILPF and its history of working for peace
& justice all over the world?)

Video: the historic 1995 Peace Train, a 3-week journey across Eastern
Europe, Russia, and the Great Steppes of China organized by International
WILPF to bring 230 women and 10 men to the 4th UN Conference on Women in
Beijing. Stops along the way were made to meet with women's groups and bring
their messages to the Conference.


--------4 of 8--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Speak easy 12.07 6:30pm

This Tuesday, Dec. 7 will be Open Conversation.
patty

[A day that will live in famy.]

Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


--------5 of 8--------

From: Alliance for Sustainability <sean [at] afors.org>
Subject: Energy past oil 12.07 7pm

Tues Dec 7 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m."Beyond Oil Addiction: Sustainable
Energy" First Tuesday Dialogues - Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian
Church -  145 Engler Blvd., Chaska, MN 55318 With Ken Bradley, Program
Director of Environment Minnesota, and Rebecca Lindberg, CEO of a solar
company here in Minnesota, led the discussion. Free
http://www.shepherdofthehillchurch.com/


--------6 of 8--------

Published on Monday, December 6, 2010 by TruthDig.com
Happy as a Hangman
by Chris Hedges
Common Dreams

Innocence, as defined by law, makes us complicit with the crimes of the
state. To do nothing, to be judged by the state as an innocent, is to be
guilty. It is to sanction, through passivity and obedience, the array of
crimes carried out by the state.

To be innocent in America means we passively permit offshore penal
colonies where we torture human beings, some of whom are children. To be
innocent in America is to acquiesce to the relentless corporate
destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species. To be
innocent in America is to permit the continued theft of hundreds of
billions of dollars from the state by Wall Street swindlers and
speculators. To be innocent in America is to stand by as insurance and
pharmaceutical companies, in the name of profit, condemn ill people,
including children, to die. To be innocent in America is refusing to
resist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are not only illegal under
international law but responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands
of people. This is the odd age we live in. Innocence is complicity.

The steady impoverishment and misery inflicted by the corporate state on
the working class and increasingly the middle class has a terrible logic.
It consolidates corporate centers of power. It weakens us morally and
politically. The fraud and violence committed by the corporate state
become secondary as we scramble to feed our families, find a job and pay
our bills and mortgages. Those who cling to insecure, poorly paid jobs and
who struggle with crippling credit card debt, those who are mired in
long-term unemployment and who know that huge medical bills would bankrupt
them, those who owe more on their houses than they are worth and who fear
the future, become frightened and timid. They seek only to survive. They
accept the pathetic scraps tossed to them by the corporate elite. The
internal and external corporate abuse accelerates as we become every day
more pliant.

Our corrupt legal system, perverting the concept that "all men are created
equal," has radically redefined civic society. Citizens, regardless of
their status or misfortune, are now treated with the same studied
indifference by the state. They have been transformed from citizens to
commodities whose worth is determined solely by the market and whose value
is measured by their social and economic functions. The rich, therefore,
are rewarded by the state with tax cuts because they are rich. It is their
function to monopolize wealth and invest. The poor are supposed to be
poor. The poor should not be a drain on the resources of the state or the
oligarchic elite. Equality, in this new legal paradigm, means we are all
treated alike, no matter what our circumstances. This new interpretation
of equality, under which the poor are abandoned and the powerful are
unchecked, has demolished the system of regulations, legal restraints and
services that once protected the underclass from wealthy and corporate
predators.

The creation of a permanent, insecure and frightened underclass is the
most effective weapon to thwart rebellion and resistance as our economy
worsens. Huge pools of unemployed and underemployed blunt labor
organizing, since any job, no matter how menial, is zealously coveted. As
state and federal social welfare programs, especially in education, are
gutted, we create a wider and wider gulf between the resources available
to the tiny elite and the deprivation and suffering visited on our
permanent underclass. Access to education, for example, is now largely
defined by class. The middle class, taking on huge debt, desperately flees
to private institutions to make sure their children have a chance to enter
the managerial ranks of the corporate elite. And this is the idea. Public
education, which, when it functions, gives opportunities to all citizens,
hinders a system of corporate neofeudalism. Corporations are advancing,
with Barack Obama's assistance, charter schools and educational services
that are stripped down and designed to train classes for their appropriate
vocations, which, if you're poor means a future in the service sector. The
eradication of teachers' unions, under way in states such as New Jersey,
is a vital component in the dismantling of public education. Corporations
know that good systems of public education are a hindrance to a rigid
caste system. In corporate America everyone will be kept in his or her
place.

The beating down of workers, exacerbated by the prospect that unemployment
benefits will not be renewed for millions of Americans and that public
sector unions will soon be broken, has transformed those in the working
class from full members of society, able to participate in its debates,
the economy and governance, into terrified people in fragmented pools
preoccupied with the struggle of private existence. Those who are
economically broken usually cease to be concerned with civic virtues. They
will, history has demonstrated, serve any system, no matter how evil, and
do anything for a salary, job security and the protection of their
families.

There will be sectors of the society that, as the situation worsens,
attempt to rebel. But the state can rely on a huge number of people who,
for work and meager benefits, will transform themselves into willing
executioners. The reconfiguration of American society into a corporate
oligarchy is conditioning tens of millions not only to passively accept
state and corporate crimes, but to actively participate in the mechanisms
that ensure their own enslavement.

"Each time society, through unemployment, frustrates the small man in his
normal functioning and normal self-respect," Hannah Arendt wrote in her
1945 essay "Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility," "it trains him
for that last stage in which he will willingly undertake any function,
even that of hangman".

Organs of state repression do not rely so much on fanatics and sadists as
ordinary citizens who are desperate, who need a job, who are willing to
obey. Arendt relates a story of a Jew who is released from Buchenwald. The
freed Jew encountered, among the SS men who gave him certificates of
release, a former schoolmate, whom he did not address but stared at. The
SS guard spontaneously explained to his former friend: "You must
understand, I have five years of unemployment behind me. They can do
anything they want with me".

Arendt also quotes an interview with a camp official at Majdanek. The camp
official concedes that he has assisted in the gassing and burying of
people alive. But when he is asked, "Do you know the Russians will hang
you?" he bursts into tears. "Why should they? What have I done?" he says.

I can imagine, should the rule of law ever one day be applied to the
insurance companies responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of
Americans denied medical care, that there will be the same confused
response from insurance executives. What is frightening in collapsing
societies is not only the killers, sadists, murderers and psychopaths who
rise up out of the moral swamp to take power, but the huge numbers of
ordinary people who become complicit in state crimes. I saw this during
the war in El Salvador and the war in Bosnia. It is easy to understand a
demented enemy. It is puzzling to understand a rational and normal one.
True evil, as Goethe understood, is not always palpable. It is "to render
invisible another human consciousness".

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his book "The Gulag Archipelago" writes about a
close friend who served with him in World War II. Solzhenitsyn's defiance
of the Communist regime after the war saw him sent to the Soviet gulags.
His friend, loyal to the state, was sent there as an interrogator.
Solzhenitsyn was forced to articulate a painful truth. The mass of those
who serve systems of terrible oppression and state crime are not evil.
They are weak.

"If only there were vile people ... committing evil deeds, and if it were
only necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them,"
Solzhenitsyn wrote. "But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the
heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his
own heart?"

The expansions of public and private organs of state security, from
Homeland Security to the mercenary forces we are building in Iraq and
Afghanistan, to the burgeoning internal intelligence organizations, exist
because these "ordinary" citizens, many of whom are caring fathers and
mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, have confused conformity
to the state with innocence. Family values are used, especially by the
Christian right, as the exclusive definition of public morality.
Politicians, including President Obama, who betray the working class, wage
doomed imperial wars, abandon families to home foreclosures and bank
repossessions, and refuse to restore habeas corpus, are morally "good"
because they are loyal husbands and fathers. Infidelity, instead of
corporate murder, becomes in this absurd moral reasoning the highest and
most unforgivable offense.

The bureaucrats who maintain these repressive state organs, who prosecute
the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or who maintain corporate
structures that perpetuate human suffering, can define themselves as good
- as innocent - as long as they are seen as traditional family men and
women who are compliant to the laws of the state. And this redefinition of
civic engagement permits us to suspend moral judgment and finally common
sense. Do your job. Do not ask questions. Do not think. If these
bureaucrats were challenged for the crimes they are complicit in
committing, including the steady dismantling of the democratic state, they
would react with the same disbelief as the camp guard at Majdanek.

Those who serve as functionaries within corporations such as Goldman Sachs
or ExxonMobil and carry out crimes ask of their masters that they be
exempted from personal responsibility for the acts they commit. They serve
corporate structures that kill, but, as Arendt notes, the corporate
employee "does not regard himself as a murderer because he has not done it
out of inclination but in his professional capacity". At home the
corporate man or woman is meek. He or she has no proclivity to violence,
although the corporate systems they serve by day pollute, impoverish, maim
and kill.

Those who do not carry out acts of rebellion, no matter how small or
seemingly insignificant, are guilty of solidifying and perpetuating these
crimes. Those who do not act delude themselves into believing they are
innocent. They are not.

Copyright  2010 Truthdig, L.L.C.
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a weekly
columnist for Truthdig. His newest book is "Death of the Liberal Class."
On Dec. 16 he, Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern, Dr. Margaret
Flowers and several others will hold a rally across from the White House
to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and attempt to chain
themselves to the White House fence.  More information on the Dec. 16
protest can be found at www.stopthesewars.org.


--------7 of 8--------

To Hell or Connaught
The Free Market Puts Ireland on a Starvation Diet ... Again
By RICH BRODERICK
CounterPunch
December 1, 2010

Johnny O'Broderick was my first direct ancestor to emigrate from Ireland
to the United States, eventually sending back enough money for his wife,
Mary, to book passage and follow him a few years later.

In making the trek from his home in County Clare to the port where he
debarked for New York, my great-grandfather would have passed through a
landscape that was picturesque, bucolic - and post-apocalyptic. In the
1870s, that part of Ireland was a sparsely-populated underworld of
abandoned shanties, crumbling stone walls separating overgrown fields, and
weedy, frost-heaved roads leading to nowhere.

Ireland was still reeling from the after-effects of the Great Famine,
which began a failed potato harvest in the fall of 1845 and whose end is
usually dated to 1850, some 160 years ago this fall.

The cause of the blight was a fungus that originated in the Americas and
then spread by way of shipping lanes to Europe and Ireland. While it
attacked and destroyed newly harvested tubers wherever they were grown,
its effects on Ireland went beyond lost revenue and the temporary uptick
in hunger seen elsewhere.

>From this remove, it is difficult to comprehend the central role the
potato played in the life and survival of Ireland's tenant farmers, in
particular those who inhabited Connaught, the traditional name for the
part of the country where indigenous Irish culture - including the Irish
language - held out longest against English inroads; during his 17th
Century attempt to exterminate the Irish, Oliver Cromwell declared that he
would send all the Irish "to hell or Connaught!," the two locations
apparently interchangeable to his Puritan way of thinking.

In the mid-19th Century, tens of thousands of tenant farmers had to turn
over virtually every grain of oats or barley they harvested to
absentee-landlords, most of whom lived in London or Dublin and rarely set
eyes upon their holdings. These farmers and the kind of large families we
now know are produced by rural poverty subsisted on a monotonous but
nonetheless nutritious diet of potatoes and buttermilk: like beans and
rice, this combination provides almost all the amino acids needed by the
body.

They did so, these peasants, because even in the one or two acres of sandy
soil on which they were expected to grow everything they necessary for
survival, it was possible to harvest enough potatoes - a remarkably
productive crop - to meet basic needs. It is estimated that a typical
adult Irish male in pre-Famine days could be expected to consume up to 14
pounds of potatoes a day. Despite poverty and persecution, the potato
enabled the Irish peasantry to thrive after a fashion, so much so that on
the eve of the famine, the country had a population of approximately six
million.

But within five years some 1.5 million Irish had starved to death or died
of the diseases that follow in starvation's wake - flu, dysentery, typhus
and typhoid fever. Another 1.5 million emigrated - fled - with tens of
thousands dying of hunger and hunger-borne illnesses on so-called Coffin
Ships awaiting clearance to sail. When the famine finally sputtered out,
Ireland was left with a population half its former size - 3 million as
opposed to 6 million in 1845.

To a casual observer, the famine might seem like a natural disaster
triggered by the rise in global trade and commerce. But it was more than
that. Like New Orleans after Katrina, the Great Famine was a natural
disaster augmented by a man-made catastrophe, the toll in death, disease,
and dislocation made exponentially worse by political decisions taken at
the top; in fact, almost all the famine deaths can be laid at the feet of
of a heartless, laissez-faire ideology known in the 19th Century as
economic "liberalism" (not to be confused with political liberalism with
its calls for tolerance, individual liberty, and universal human rights).
Today that heartless - and sublimely stupid - ideology has once more
reared its Social Darwinist head under the name of "neo-liberalism."

How can we be so sure that economic policy - and not God's will - was
responsible for most of the deaths in Ireland? A simple review of the
history of those five awful years will suffice.

When the Tory government of British Prime Minister Robert Peel learned of
the crop failure in 1845, it acted decisively and effectively to forestall
the worst, ordering several shiploads of corn from the United States,
which was then distributed for free to the Irish through a famine
commission Whitehall established before the onset of winter. As a result,
many Irish went hungry but almost no one died of starvation that first
year.

But, to the incalculable woe of the Irish, Peel's government would fall
the following summer, victim of its own success in bringing relief to the
hungry. In particular, its attempts to repeal the Corn Laws, which kept
the price of the grain it was importing unnaturally high, alienated the
government's base among England's great landholders. In July, 1845, Peel
was replaced by Whig Prime Minister John Russell, an economic "liberal."

When it became clear that the potato crop was going to fail again in 1846,
Russell banned the free distribution of corn to the Irish. Such a move,
according to the tenets of economic liberalism, violated the workings of
the free market; government largesse, Whitehall believed, unjustly
punished England's grain factors - companies that sold and shipped grain
for profit. It also rewarded "dependency" on the part of the "undeserving"
Irish.

Henceforth, the starving Irish would have to earn money to pay those grain
factors for corn the factors received at cost from the English government.
A system of make-work projects was created. Many of these were road
building endeavors in which Irish laborers were paid a set number of
shillings for every foot of right-of-way they graded on a given day.

Unfortunately, then as now, economics was an inexact science practiced by
men unwilling to alter ideology in the face of empirical evidence. As the
blight wore on year by year, inflation set in and the price of grain shot
up. The wages for the make-work projects, however, did not. Over time, the
shillings the laborers earned could purchase less and less food. Growing
hunger rendered the laborers weaker and weaker. As a result they could put
in fewer and fewer feet of road bed every day. A vicious death spiral
started to swirl, with thousands of laborers literally dropping dead on
the job, at the ragged end of unfinished famine roads.

It took Ireland well over a century to recover from the impact of the
Great Famine. But ironically, the very same ideology is getting ready to
wreak havoc on the island again.

Only three years after being hailed by the neo-liberal commissariat as a
shining example of laissez-faire free market success, Ireland is on the
ropes, the victim of the speculative bubble triggered by neo-liberalism's
unvarying prescription for growth and prosperity - low taxes on
corporations and the rich, elimination of any meaningful regulation of
finance and banking, and an intentional blurring of the lines between
commerce and government. Two years ago, when boom turned to bust, the
Irish government stepped forward - as did ours - and, instead of allowing
the banksters and financial scam artists both inside and outside Ireland
to pay for their own folly, agreed to bail out the financial markets to
"restore confidence."

Today confidence has yet to be be restored, But as punishment for
indulging in the same drunken behavior as did most of the industrial
world, the Irish face draconian punishment.

In return for an EU bailout worth a measly $115 billion, the Irish
government - for the moment led by the former finance minister of the
previous government (i.e., the one that got into bed with the
banksters) - has agreed to the harshest tax hikes and budget cuts in the
nation's history; the move will result in the loss of some 25,000
government jobs, escalating fees for schools, universities and government
services, sharp reductions in government-backed pensions, and a 15 percent
reduction in the country's minimum wage.

If that weren't bad enough, the bailout also stipulates that Ireland's
budget deficit shall not exceed 3 percent of GDP (an EU rule flouted by
most EU members); by way of comparison, the U.S. budget deficit currently
stands at about 20 percent of GDP. And with Ireland's GDP in freefall,
this 3 percent rule means that, far from being able to fund stimulus
programs to get the economy moving again, the Dublin government will have
to continue cutting its budget year after year as far as the eye can see.

This is the kind of savage austerity package usually levied by the IMF on
developing nations in the Southern Hemisphere. That the austerity boom is
being lowered on a western country which until recently boasted one of the
fastest growth rates in the world is surprising to say the least, and a
clear sign of just how ruthless the neo-liberal elites can be when it
comes to turning on - and devouring - one of their own at the first sign
of weakness.

The larger lesson to take away from this? Simple: The pro-lifers have it
right. The spectre of a "culture of death" does, indeed, haunt the world.
But that culture isn't about abortion. The real culture of death is
globalized neo-liberalism - the ideological descendent of the "liberalism"
that depopulated Ireland in the 1840s. Neo-liberalism is just free market
idolatry by another name - a fetishistic belief in the mysterious power of
the market to make wise decisions about who and what posess any value.

n the mid-19th Century, when capitalism was still in its adolescence,
perhaps there was an excuse for embracing such nonsense. Today, there can
be no excuse. The history of the past 160 years has time and again
revealed the utter lunacy of thinking the world will conform to free
market precepts. "Ideology contradicts psychology," Camus said. To
psychology, let us add common sense. And common humanity.

Like liberalism, and the imperialism to whose predations it gave
ideological cover, neo-liberalism demands that we act from the conviction
that the world and everything and everyone in it are nothing more than
dead objects, "resources" to be exploited, exhausted, and excreted when no
longer of any "value."

While we commonly describe as "materialistic" the Stage 4 Consumer
Capitalism that neo-liberalism lauds and promotes, it is important to note
that this ideology is, in fact, anti-materialistic; is, in reality,
inimical to the material world that provides the very basis of human
survival. Neo-liberalism deals in abstractions - money, resources, debt,
capitalization - not in tangible reality. It operates at the behest of a
class of vampires and addicts who harbor delusions that, when the end
comes, they will be able to escape to some gated fantasy land where they
and theirs will be safe from the ecological collapse they have
precipitated.

Touring the West of Ireland during and after the Great Famine, travelers
often compared what they witnessed to the End of World.

In the 1840s, that apocalypse was confined to one region of a small,
impoverished, ruthlessly colonized nation. This time around, few if any
will starve - but many will certainly go hungry - because of Ireland's
contemporary turmoil. Even so, the crisis is merely another benchmark on
the path to a much wider, global collapse - not just financial, but, as
during the Great Famine, ecological as well.

And this time around, there will be no New World to which survivors can
escape. This time around, global capital is outfitting the entire planet
as a vast Coffin Ship to be set adrift, lifeless, upon the ether.

Rich Broderick lives in St. Paul and teaches journalism at Anoka-Ramsey
Community College. Rich is a writer, poet, and social activist. He can be
reached at: richb [at] lakecast.com

This essay originally appeared in TC Daily Planet.


--------8 of 8--------

 Fungus - you may not
 like it now, but you'll find
 it will grow on you.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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