Progressive Calendar 12.14.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2010 03:04:06 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   12.14.10

1. Chipotle firing   12.14 3pm
2. Erlinder/Rwanda   12.14 5pm
3. 9/11 Truth social 12.14 6:30pm
4. Salon/Haiti       12.14 6:30pm
5. Solar hot water   12.14 7pm

6. Alliant vigil     12.15 7am
7. Mizna/film/pizza  12.15 6:30pm
8. Boycott Israel    12.15 7pm

9. Chris Hedges        - No act of rebellion is wasted
10. Jeff Cohen         - President NAFTA backs President Shafta
11. Stephen Lendman    - Chopping Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid
12. Alexander Cockburn - Obama the greater traitor
13. Portside Moderator - (Sociable) dogs have bigger brains than cats

--------1 of 13--------

From: MIRAc <miracmn [at]>
Subject: Chipotle firing 12.14 3pm

Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc)
651-389-9174 | miracmn [at] |

Fired Latino Chipotle workers to speak out

On Tuesday, December 14 at 3:00 pm, some of the Latino Chipotle workers
who have been fired from multiple Chipotle locations over the past week
will speak out at a press conference about what has happened to them. They
will say what they want to see happen, and will be available to answer
questions and speak to the press.

The press conference will be at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, December 14th at
Bethany Lutheran Church, 2511 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis.

Starting the week of December 6, 2010, dozens of Latino workers at
Chipotle restaurant locations throughout Minnesota were fired en masse in
what appears to be a coordinated, statewide operation in response to an
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) I-9 audit.

Latino workers at Chipotle stores including those in St. Cloud,
Stillwater, Golden Valley, downtown Minneapolis, Richfield, Grand Avenue,
Seven Corners, among others, were fired en masse. Despite repeated
attempts by workers to contact the company, Chipotle officials still have
not clarified the reason for their actions.

"Firing large numbers of Latino workers right before Christmas is the
wrong thing to do. We demand that Chipotle stop this cruel wave of
firings, and we demand that ICE stop these I-9 audits that punish workers,
not employers," said Brad Sigal of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action
Committee (MIRAc), which is supporting the workers.

According to Niger Arevalo of MIRAc, "With this situation where our
brothers and sisters who work at Chipotle are suffering, we say to the
immigrant community that we must unite our efforts and demand
energetically that the Obama administration stop these electronic raids
that they're carrying out in Minnesota and around the country, which is a
repressive measure against the immigrant community."

MIRAc has called on the public to call Chipotle headquarters in Colorado to
ask them to stop these firings, and has also called on people to boycott
Chipotle until they stop this wave of firings.

For background on this story, see coverage of the story last week from
City Pages
<>, FOX 9
video), WCCO
video), and the Pioneer Press

MIRAc is a grassroots immigrant rights organization that works toward
legalization for undocumented immigrants and full equality for all
regardless of immigration status. MIRAc is currently organizing the No
More Deportations campaign which aims to stop ICE's Criminal Alien
Program (CAP) and prevent ICE's Secure Communities program from being
implemented in Minnesota.

--------2 of 13--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Erlinder/Rwanda 12.14 5pm

Genocide in Context: War in Central Africa

Professor Peter Erlinder, Lead Defense Counsel for the UN International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and now officially an enemy of the Rwandan
state, provides extensive context for the period known as the Rwandan
Genocide.  Erlinder, who accumulated and publicly leaked, masses of
documents from UN, Rwandan and US embassy sources, helps the viewer gain a
new perspective on Central African history and... US foreign policy.  The
presentation occurs the day after Paul Rusesabagina, protagonist in the
film Hotel Rwanda, joined Erlinder on Rwanda's "Wanted" list. (10/28/10,
William Mitchell College of Law)

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, 12/14 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 12/15, 10am
"Genocide in Context: War in Central Africa"

Stream it @ !!

"Our World In Depth" features analysis of public affairs with
consideration of and participation from Twin Cities area activists.
Locally produced and not corporately influenced, "Our World In Depth" may
be better than PBS!  Order a dvd copy or contact us at
ourworldindepth [at]

--------3 of 13--------

From: shirley johnson <skjohnsn [at]>
Subject: 9/11 Truth social 12.14 6:30pm

Cold, snow, who cares!  The fellowship will be great.  The event is still
going to take place at the Rondo Community Library. shirley 651-291-7053

Greetings fellow citizens,
Minnesota 9/11 wishes you a happy and safe holiday season!

As a member of this group, I would like to personally invite you to a
holiday social event to meet others who are behind the 9/11 Truth Movement
in Minnesota.

During the year (and past years) we have been working hard at educating
other citizens, showing films, putting on events so this month we offer an
informal chance to share a bite of holiday food with those behind the
scenes of these events.

We have seen you at one time or another at our events and you likely get
many emails from us but this month we would love to see you in person and
share some holiday cheer. Thanks for your past and continued support, we
are in this together.

With admiration and respect, Bruce Stahlberg

December Meeting of Minnesota 9/11 Truth
Will Be A Social Event
December 14, 2010
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
At Rondo Community Library
Rondo Community Library is on the Southwest Corner
of University Avenue and Dale Street in St. Paul

Meet and Greet
Share Your Ideas and Resources
Enjoy Refreshments
Open House
Bring Interested Guests

RSVP would be helpful for planning but not necessary
skjohnsn [at]

I have arranged for access starting at 5:30 for anyone who want to
come early and help set up the room!

--------4 of 13--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon/Haiti 12.14 6:30pm

HI . this Tuesday, the 14th, our guest will be Ruth Anne  Olson who
will present a program on Haiti.

Ruth Anne has traveled to Haiti numerous times over several years, to
visit schools and to interview and write the stories of women and men in
rural villages. She returned from her most-recent trip on November 18 with
fresh experiences of village life since the January earthquake. She will
read from her book Images of Haiti: Stories of Strength, published in

Pax Salons ( )
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 13--------

From: Alliance for Sustainability <sean [at]>
Subject: Solar hot water 12.14 7pm

Tues, Dec 14 from 7 to 9pm Make Mine Solar Educational Workshop - Como
Streetcar Station 1224 N Lexington Parkway St Paul, MN, 55103.

Solar Hot Water Basics, Program Basics, Q & A plus Meet Your Installers
This workshop is for people interested in participating in the Solar Hot
Water Bulk Purchase Program - Make Mine Solar

--------6 of 13--------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: Alliant vigil 12.15 7am

Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am
Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday
morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems,
7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie.
We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies?
directions and lots of info:

--------7 of 13--------

From: Mizna <mizna [at]>
Subject: Mizna/film/pizza 12.15 6:30pm

Fan of Mizna's Arab Film Festival? Interested in learning more about Arab
culture through Arab cinema? Wish to get involved?

Mizna invites you to attend the first meeting of its film festival
planning committee for the upcoming 7th edition of the festival scheduled
for fall of 2011.

Actually, its more like a social/pizza party--Punch Pizza!
Time: 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Day: Wednesday, 12/15
Location: Mizna office,
2205 California Street NE # 109A, Minneapolis, MN 55418 (Please enter the
California Building through the California St. entrance)

Questions/Concerns:  mohannadghawanmeh [at]
Thank you
Mohannad Ghawanmeh

--------8 of 13--------

From: Jordan Ash <jordanash79 [at]>
Subject: Boycott Israel 12.15 7pm

Fwd: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaigns in Minnesota
Please join us for the exciting chance to learn more about Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), meet Minnesotans who are part of the
movement, and discover how we can be part of making history together.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 7 - 9 pm
Blegen Hall, Room 105,
West Bank Campus, University of Minnesota

In July 2005 a broad range of Palestinian civil society organizations
issued a call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, as a part of
a non-violent campaign to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza and West
Bank, including East Jerusalem.

In Minnesota, there are currently two BDS efforts:

   - Minnesota Break the Bonds (MN BBC,
   is a state-wide campaign calling for Minnesota to divest from its Israeli
   bonds until it complies with international law and universal principles of
   human rights.

   "Israel Bonds support Israel's apartheid system in both Israel and the
   Palestinian Territories and enable widespread abuse of human rights.  For
   example, the money from these Bonds go to fund infrastructure projects such
   as settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that displace
   Palestinians from their own lands and create unequal access to water, health
   services and education; toward the building of Jewish-only roads within the
   West Bank that Palestinians are not allowed to access; and toward
   maintaining Israel's deadly military occupation."

   - Jewish Voice for Peace is engaged in a national campaign to get
   TIAA-CREF, one of the largest retirement systems in the world, to divest
   from companies that profit from or contribute to the occupation. Minnesotans
   will be playing an important role in this campaign, not only by pressuring
   TIAA-CREF, but also by exposing the role played in the occupation by one of
   the specific companies in which TIAA-CREF is invested -- Veolia. Veolia
   provides trash services in many Minnesota communities.

   Veolia also owns and operates the Tovlan Landfill in the occupied West
   Bank. Most of the garbage comes from the numerous illegal Israeli
   settlements, and some hazardous waste, such as used needles, come from
   hospitals inside Israel and are incinerated at the landfill. The Palestinian
   communities that neighbor the landfill are not even able to dump their own
   waste there.)

So Join us! Members of MN JVP and MN BBC will present on the work of their
organizations and ways that you can be involved!

*Details: Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 7 - 9 pm,
Blegen Hall, Room 105,
West Bank Campus, University of Minnesota (map below):

--------9 of 13--------

Published on Monday, December 13, 2010 by
No Act of Rebellion Is Wasted
by Chris Hedges
Common Dreams

I stood with hundreds of thousands of rebellious Czechoslovakians in 1989
on a cold winter night in Prague's Wenceslas Square as the singer Marta
Kubi'ov approached the balcony of the Melantrich building. Kubi'ov had
been banished from the airwaves in 1968 after the Soviet invasion for her
anthem of defiance, "Prayer for Marta". Her entire catalog, including more
than 200 singles, had been confiscated and destroyed by the state. She had
disappeared from public view. Her voice that night suddenly flooded the
square. Pressing around me were throngs of students, most of whom had not
been born when she vanished. They began to sing the words of the anthem.
There were tears running down their faces. It was then that I understood
the power of rebellion. It was then that I knew that no act of rebellion,
however futile it appears in the moment, is wasted. It was then that I
knew that the Communist regime was finished.

."The people will once again decide their own fate," the crowd sang in
unison with Kubi'ov.

I had reported on the fall of East Germany before I arrived in Prague. I
would leave Czechoslovakia to cover the bloody overthrow of the Romanian
dictator Nicolae Ceau'escu. The collapse of the Communist regimes in
Eastern Europe was a lesson about the long, hard road of peaceful defiance
that makes profound social change possible. The rebellion in Prague, as in
East Germany, was not led by the mandarins in the political class but by
marginalized artists, writers, clerics, activists and intellectuals such
as Vaclav Havel, whom we met with most nights during the upheavals in
Prague in the Magic Lantern Theater. These activists, no matter how bleak
things appeared, had kept alive the possibility of justice and freedom.
Their stances and protests, which took place over 40 years of Communist
rule, turned them into figures of ridicule, or saw the state seek to erase
them from national consciousness. They were dismissed by the pundits who
controlled the airwaves as cranks, agents of foreign powers, fascists or
misguided and irrelevant dreamers.

I spent a day during the Velvet Revolution with several elderly professors
who had been expelled from the Romance language department at Charles
University for denouncing the Soviet invasion. Their careers, like the
careers of thousands of professors, teachers, artists, social workers,
government employees and journalists in our own universities during the
Communist witch hunts, were destroyed.  After the Soviet invasion, the
professors had been shipped to a remote part of Bohemia where they were
forced to work on a road construction crew. They shoveled tar and graded
roadbeds. And as they worked they dedicated each day to one of the
languages in which they all were fluent - Latin, Greek, Italian, French,
Spanish or German. They argued and fought over their interpretations of
Homer, Virgil, Dante, Goethe, Proust and Cervantes. They remained
intellectually and morally alive. Kubi'ova, who had been the most popular
recording star in the country, was by then reduced to working for a
factory that assembled toys. The playwright Havel was in and out of jail.

The long, long road of sacrifice, tears and suffering that led to the
collapse of these regimes stretched back decades. Those who made change
possible were those who had discarded all notions of the practical. They
did not try to reform the Communist Party. They did not attempt to work
within the system. They did not even know what, if anything, their
protests would accomplish. But through it all they held fast to moral
imperatives. They did so because these values were right and just. They
expected no reward for their virtue; indeed they got none. They were
marginalized and persecuted. And yet these poets, playwrights, actors,
singers and writers finally triumphed over state and military power. They
drew the good to the good. They triumphed because, however cowed and
broken the masses around them appeared, their message of defiance did not
go unheard. It did not go unseen. The steady drumbeat of rebellion
constantly exposed the dead hand of authority and the rot and corruption
of the state.

The walls of Prague were covered that chilly winter with posters depicting
Jan Palach. Palach, a university student, set himself on fire in Wenceslas
Square on Jan. 16, 1969, in the middle of the day to protest the crushing
of the country's democracy movement. He died of his burns three days
later. The state swiftly attempted to erase his act from national memory.
There was no mention of it on state media. A funeral march by university
students was broken up by police. Palach's gravesite, which became a
shrine, saw the Communist authorities exhume his body, cremate his remains
and ship them to his mother with the provision that his ashes could not be
placed in a cemetery. But it did not work. His defiance remained a
rallying cry. His sacrifice spurred the students in the winter of 1989 to
act. Prague's Red Army Square, shortly after I left for Bucharest, was
renamed Palach Square. Ten thousand people went to the dedication.

We, like those who opposed the long night of communism, no longer have any
mechanisms within the formal structures of power that will protect or
advance our rights. We too have undergone a coup d'etat carried out not by
the stone-faced leaders of a monolithic Communist Party but by the
corporate state. We too have our designated pariahs, whether Ralph Nader
or Noam Chomksy, and huge black holes of state-sponsored historical
amnesia to make us ignore the militant movements, rebels and radical ideas
that advanced our democracy. We opened up our society to ordinary people
not because we deified the wisdom of the Founding Fathers or the sanctity
of the Constitution. We opened it up because of communist, socialist and
anarchist leaders like Big Bill Haywood and his militant unionists in the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

We may feel, in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our
nation, our culture, and our ecosystem, powerless and weak. But we are
not. We have a power that terrifies the corporate state. Any act of
rebellion, no matter how few people show up or how heavily it is censored
by a media that caters to the needs and profits of corporations, chips
away at corporate power. Any act of rebellion keeps alive the embers for
larger movements that follow us. It passes on another narrative. It will,
as the rot of the state consumes itself, attract wider and wider numbers.
Perhaps this will not happen in our lifetimes. But if we persist we will
keep this possibility alive. If we do not, it will die.

All energy directed toward reforming political and state structures is
useless. All efforts to push through a "progressive" agenda within the
corridors of power are naive. Trust in the reformation of our corporate
state reflects a failure to recognize that those who govern, including
Barack Obama, are as deaf to public demands and suffering as those in the
old Communist regimes. We cannot rely on any systems of power, including
the pillars of the liberal establishment - the press, liberal religious
institutions, universities, labor, culture and the Democratic Party. They
have been weakened to the point of anemia or work directly for the
corporations that dominate our existence. We can rely now on only
ourselves, on each other.

Go to Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, at 10 a.m. Dec. 16.
Join dozens of military veterans, myself, Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin,
Ray McGovern, Dr. Margaret Flowers and many others who will make visible a
hope the corporate state does not want you to see, hear or participate in.
Don't be discouraged if it is not a large crowd. Don't let your friends or
colleagues talk you into believing it is useless. Don't be seduced by the
sophisticated public relations campaigns disseminated by the mass media,
the state or the Democratic Party. Don't, if you decide to carry out civil
disobedience, be cowed by the police. Hope and justice live when people,
even in tiny numbers, stand up and fight for them.

There is in our sorrow - for who cannot be profoundly sorrowful? - finally
a balm that leads to wisdom and, if not joy, then a strange, transcendent
happiness. To stand in a park on a cold December morning, to defy that
which we must defy, to do this with others, brings us solace, and perhaps
even peace. We will not find this if we allow ourselves to be disabled. We
will not find this alone. As long as a few of us rebel it will always
remain possible to defeat a system of centralized, corporate power that is
as criminal and heartless as those I watched tumble into the ash bin of
history in Eastern Europe.

Copyright  2010 Truthdig, L.L.C.
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book
is "Death of the Liberal Class." You can find out more about the
Washington protest at

--------10 of 13--------

Published on Saturday, December 11, 2010 by
President NAFTA Backs President Shafta
by Jeff Cohen

It was a stunning spectacle yesterday when former President Clinton took
the podium from President Obama in the White House briefing room to help
shove the Obama-GOP tax deal down the throats of Democratic activists and
Congress members.

It was a fitting spectacle too (carried live on CNN) - since Bill Clinton
paved the way in teaching how a Democratic president can win battles
through the votes NOT of his own party but the Republicans.

Remember NAFTA, the trade deal loved by big business and Republicans -
and opposed by Democratic constituencies like unions, environmentalists
and consumer advocates? President Clinton passed NAFTA in 1993 with the
votes of nearly 80 percent of GOP senators and almost 70 percent of House
Republicans. Meanwhile, House Democrats opposed NAFTA by more than 3 to 2.

More than a year ago, I warned ("Get Ready for the Obama/GOP Alliance")
that Obama would follow Clinton's lead in winning some of his biggest
fights by allying with the GOP against his own base.

Following much White House lecturing and name-calling ("the professional
left," "f**king retarded") aimed at the activists who put him in the Oval
Office, Obama shafted his base this week and broke another promise, this
time on tax breaks for the rich.

Look for another Obama/GOP alliance if Democrats in Congress find their
voices over Obama's bloody, costly, unwinnable folly in Afghanistan.

These kinds of deals can become habit forming. After NAFTA, Clinton went
on to other bipartisan deals - cutting welfare for the poor while
extending welfare to the media conglomerates in 1996, and concluding his
tenure with deregulatory giveaways to the investment banks that led
directly to the financial meltdown of 2008.

And Obama seems to have less backbone and firm principles than even Bill
Clinton - even more prone to a Stockholm syndrome-tendency to cozy up to
his Republican batterers.

So it was quite a scene yesterday, with voices on CNN almost giddy that
the gray ghost of pro-corporate "bipartisan compromise" was back at the
White House.

Meanwhile, independent Bernie Sanders was electrifying much of the country
by railing for 8 and  hours in the Senate against the wealthy getting
billions in tax breaks while deficit-hawks take aim at Social Security and
other vital programs.

I'm sure I wasn't the only American fantasizing that one day a fighting
independent like Bernie would occupy the White House.

Instead, with Obama, we seem to be getting the best Republican president
since . . . well . . . since Clinton.

Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the
Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media
watch group FAIR, and former board member of Progressive Democrats of
America. In 2002, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC (overseen by NBC
News). His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in
Corporate Media.

--------11 of 13--------

On the Chopping Block
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
By Stephen Lendman
Monday, December 13, 2010

Planned is death by a thousand cuts - aka "creeping normalcy," defined as
a way to make major changes seem normal if happen slowly, incrementally
like boiling a frog unaware it's dinner until cooked.

Social Security and Medicare are dinner. Yet both are insurance, not
welfare, programs funded by (worker-employer) payroll tax deductions.
They're contractual federal obligations to eligible recipients who
qualify. You'd never know it the way both programs are publicly discussed,
explaining everything but the truth. More on that below.

On August 14, 1935, the Social Security Act became law, known as the
federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program (OASDI). It
provides retirement, disability, survivorship, and death benefits. It's
still America's most effective poverty reduction program that's worked
remarkably well since inception. It exists to provide secure
inflation-adjusted retirement or disability income, unlike risking
personal savings to create private wealth that may end up losing it.

Despite bogus claims, it's not going bankrupt. When properly administered,
it's sound and secure, needing only modest adjustments at times to assure

On July 30, 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed the Social Security (Medicare) Act
into law, enrolling Harry and Bess Truman as its first recipients. calls it "the nation's largest health insurance program,"
covering 40 million Americans. It's a "Health Insurance program for people
age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages
with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with
dialysis or a transplant)."

America's aristocracy wants Medicare and Social Security ended, citing the
nation's burgeoning debt and enormous unfunded liabilities for both
programs. The web site lists them as follows:

(1) the US National Debt: nearly $14 trillion;

(2) Social Security Liability: nearly $15 trillion;

(3) Prescription Drug Liability: nearly $20 trillion; and

(4) Medicare Liability: nearly $78 trillion.

Total: nearly $113 trillion plus the National Debt.

Most important is that future liabilities mask today's soundness that can
stay that way if current programs are properly administered. That's
omitted from hyped scare tactics to convince future recipients to make
unjustifiable sacrifices. Like them or not, they're coming, major media
reports promoting the idea as well as politicians from both parties.

On August 9, 2010, for example, a New York Times editorial headlined, "The
Latest on Medicare and Social Security," saying:

"Of course, neither program is sound for the long run. (Yet there's) time
for lawmakers to reform and strengthen both (for) the long haul. (Required
is) a combination of benefits cuts and tax increases, which could be
distributed fairly and phased in over decades."

A May 13, 2009 Wall Street Journal report headlined "Social Security,
Medicare Face Insolvency Sooner," saying:

Medicare "will be depleted by 2017," Social Security by "2037." In fact,
neither program is endangered as explained above. Yet the report

"Any attempt to address long-term fiscal problems will require big changes
to the way entitlements are funded or paid out."

False, but don't expect major media reports to explain or side with
recipients about programs too important to be weakened or lost.

Yet in his January State of the Union address, Obama announced plans to
"freeze government spending for three years," starting in 2011, saying
he'd form a bipartisan fiscal commission to cut the deficit and tackle
entitlements by imposed austerity at a time massive stimulus is needed.

Called the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
(NCFRF), it's co-chaired by two deficit hawks, former Senator Alan Simpson
(R. WY) and Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff.
They headed an 18-member team, stacked with like-minded members, elitists
knowing their futures are secure.

Their mandate: slash Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social
spending, continuing a decades long process of transferring wealth to
America's super-rich. On November 10, they issued their proposal. An
earlier article addressed it, accessed through the following link:

Among other recommendations were:

-- ending or capping middle class tax breaks, including deductions for
home mortgage insurance and tax-free employer provided medical insurance;

-- lowering income taxes dramatically to 9, 15 and 24%, down from six
brackets ranging from 10 - 35%;

-- slashing corporate tax rates from the top 35% to 26%;

-- making deep Medicare cuts as well as increasing Medicaid co-pays; and

-- raising the Social Security retirement age to 69 by 2075 as well as
reducing annual cost-of-living increases.

A second Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) commission co-chaired by former
Senator Pete Domenici (R. NM) and Alice Rivlin, former director of the
Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office,
issued its own proposal called "Restoring America's Future."

Its recommendations include:

-- indexing Social Security benefits to life expectancy to reduce them as
longevity increases;

-- eliminating annual cost-of-living adjustments, bogusly claiming
inflation is overstated, especially for retirees facing costly medical

-- instituting a one-year payroll tax holiday for workers and employers to
save $650 billion, supposedly to be replenished from future general
revenues; in fact, it's a way to help kill Social Security as discussed

-- sharply cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits;

-- simplifying the tax code to two brackets (15 and 27%), favoring the

-- eliminating home mortgage and most other deductions and credits;

-- taxing employer provided health insurance; and

-- instituting a 6.5% national sales tax, hitting ordinary people hardest.

An earlier article providing more details, including on Obama's planned
austerity, can be accessed through the following link:

Nancy Altman is co-director of Social Security Works
(, an "American coalition (representing over
50 million Americans) united around the simple proposition, Strengthen
Social Security...Don't Cut It."

Its seven principles include:

(1) Social Security didn't cause the federal deficit; it shouldn't be cut
to reduce it;

(2) it shouldn't be privatized;

(3) it shouldn't be means-tested;

(4) future revenues should come by raising the payroll tax ceiling,
requiring those earning more to pay their fair share;

(5) the retirement age shouldn't increase further;

(6) benefits shouldn't be cut, including by reducing annual
inflation-adjusted increases; and

(7) benefits "should be increased for those who are most disadvantaged."

In short, Social Security (Medicare and Medicaid) should be strengthened
to provide greater, not lower, future benefits.

Obama's Destructive Payroll Tax Holiday

The proposed 2% worker earnings cut for one year is a stealth indefinite
extension scheme to drain hundreds of billions from the Social Security
Trust Fund. Doing so will irreparably weaken its ability to pay future
benefits, the idea being to destroy the program altogether, perhaps first
by privatizing it.

Social Security Works explained how the tax holiday "could unravel" the
whole system as follows:

(1) "It's easy to enact tax cuts - it's very hard to end them."

(2) Doing so results in a substantial tax increase - $2,000 on $100,000 a
year earners, $400 for those making $20,000.

(3) "Restoring the 2% lost....would be a nearly 50% tax increase (for) 94%
of all Americans...."

(4) House and Senate Republicans oppose any increases. So do many
Democrats, especially in election years or when economic conditions are

(5) Obama's proposal undermines Social Security's long-term solvency.
Repaying what's lost from general revenues is greatly impeded by the size
of the deficit and planned austerity coming to reduce it.

(6) Maintaining the 2% cut indefinitely will cause massive benefit cuts
and eliminate any chance for improving them, notably for society's poor
and disadvantaged.

(7) Middle class households will also be harmed, violating Franklin
Roosevelt's pledge that:

"We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors
a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their
unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can
ever scrap my social security program. Those taxes aren't a matter of
economics, they're straight politics."

FDR never met Obama or congressional Republicans and Democrats. What he
gave, they'll end, violating a government-mandated right.

(8) A payroll tax holiday is another step toward privatization, a sure way
to kill it, the way 401(k)s destroyed private pensions, leaving workers at
the mercy of marketplace uncertainties that can wipe out life savings
during hard times.

Social Security Works concluded, saying:

"There are better ways to provide stimulus to the economy - and that do
less harm to Social Security - than a tax holiday."

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), one way
is by extending the 2009 Making Work Pay Tax Credit, adding much more
stimulus than a payroll tax holiday. It gives workers a refundable tax
credit, increasing the size of the paychecks. At 6.2% of earned income, it
provides maximum $400 for working individuals, $800 for married taxpayers
filing joint returns.

A payroll tax holiday is a bad idea any time, besides doing little to
stimulate economic growth. "The most efficient way to boost consumer
spending is to put money into the hands of people who will spend it
quickly rather than save it." It's most effective when given to low and
middle-income workers, not high-end ones who'll save, not spend, their

"A payroll tax holiday does not score well on this front - too little of
the benefit goes to lower-income households struggling to make ends meet
and too much goes to higher-income taxpayers, who are likely to save a
significant (portion) of any new resources they receive."

Besides killing Social Security, that's the whole idea, of course,
transferring more wealth to the rich, what Republicans and Democrats
endorse, including Obama.

In contrast, the Making Work Pay Tax Credit poses no threat to Social
Security. The payroll tax holiday may destroy it. Republicans signing on
as a concession masks their real intent, the same one they've had since
Social Security's enactment, a program they strongly opposed as well as
Medicare in 1965. Now both parties oppose them.

A Final Comment

Obama's payroll tax holiday will drive a stake into Social Security's
heart, or as Hall of Fame former baseball announcer Bob Prince used to
call Pittsburgh Pirate home runs: "Kiss it goodbye." Fans cheered. Deathly
silence will greet Obama's proposal once recipients know they've been
scammed. Republicans and Democrats plan it unless an aroused public stops

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
lendmanstephen [at] Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive
Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays
at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

--------12 of 13--------

December 10 - 12, 2010
CounterPunch Diary
The Greater Traitor

As an Irish-American, I ask myself, Which of the two is the greater Judas
to his nation: the Irish prime minister, Brian Cowen, or the American
president, Barack Obama?

Both of them are carrying out the same mission. plunging the bulk of the
citizenry of their nations into debt peonage, so that bankers and the rich
can prosper.

There's no need to choOse, though in terms of sheer magnitude of the
disaster, Obama would carry the prize.  No one has described his sellout
on taxes last week better than Michael Hudson who turned in an acrid
resume of Obama's .compromise. on this site last Wednesday. The

"Monday's deal to re-instate the Bush era tax cuts for two more years sets
up a 1-2-3 punch - enabling the Republicans to legislate the cuts in
perpetuity in 2012 - an estimated $4 trillion to the rich over time.

"To "save the dollar" the Republicans will propose to replace progressive
income taxation with a uniform flat tax (the old Steve Forbes plan)
falling on wage earners, not on wealth or on finance, insurance or real
estate income. A VAT will be added as an excise tax to push up consumer

"Third, the tax giveaway includes a $120 billion reduction in Social
Security contributions by labor - reducing the FICA wage withholding from
6.2 per cent to 4.2 per cent. Obama has ingeniously designed the plan to
dovetail neatly into his Bowles-Simpson commission pressing to reduce
Social Security as a step toward its ultimate privatization and subsequent
wipeout grab by Wall Street..

"The bottom line is that after the prolonged tax giveaway exacerbates the
federal budget deficit - along with the balance-of-payments deficit - we
can expect the next Republican or Democratic administration to step in and
"save" the country from economic emergency by scaling back Social Security
while turning its funding over, Pinochet-style, to Wall Street money
managers to loot as they did in Chile..

"Welcome to debt peonage. This is worse than what was meant by a
double-dip recession. It will be with us much longer".

The 2012 battlefield could turn out to offer the voters a choice not of
three but of four serious candidates. The last time this happened was in
1948, which saw a fierce contest between the Democrat Harry Truman and the
Republican Thomas Dewey, and also, on the left, the Progressive Party's
Henry Wallace (formerly FDR's vice president) and on the right the
pro-segregation Dixiecrats, led by Strom Thurmond.

The wild card for the Republicans is Sarah Palin. She has made it clear
she's contemplating a run for the nomination, and not a week goes by but
that the Republican high command gnashes its teeth at her enduring
popularity with the party base, which is unfazed by Palin's gaffes with
which the pundits and late-night comedians have such sport. She took even
longer to slaughter that poor moose on her "realityd" show than the
official executioners in US prisons with their lethal needles.

If Palin does make a strong showing in the early primaries and the frantic
Republican leadership cannot find an opponent tasked with overwhelming her
and beating Obama, then we could see another independent making a
challenge for the Republican/independent constituency.

And who would that be? The man with the money and the ambition for the
role is the present mayor of New York, 68-year old Michael Bloomberg, the
tenth richest man in the United States, who quit the Republican Party in

Last month, the Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg announced it was
renewing efforts to persuade Bloomberg to wage a presidential campaign in
2012. Bloomberg's repeated denials of any intention to run are not taken
as gospel.

An Obama-Feingold-Palin-Bloomberg donneybrook would make the 2011-2012
political season one to look forward to. "I don't think about Sarah
Palin," Obama told Barbara Walters a few weeks ago when she asked him if
he felt he could beat the Alaskan, who had earlier told Walters she could
beat the President in 2012.

Mr President, you lie! Of course you think about Palin. Each night, as you
and Michelle kneel at the bedside in prayer to the Disposer Supreme, you
jointly implore him to ensure Palin wins the Republican nomination. Obama
knows who came from behind in that 1948 four-way race: the Democrat, Harry

The Empire Strikes Back

The WikiLeaks sites have vanished - though more than 1,400 mirror sites
still carry the disclosures. Amazon, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and the
organization's Swiss bank have shut it down, either on their own
initiative or after a threat from the US government or its poodles in
London and Geneva. Attorney General Eric Holder is cooking up a stew of
new gag stipulations and fierce statutory penalties against any site
carrying material the government deems compromising to state security.
Commercial outfits like Amazon are falling over themselves to connive at
the shutdowns, actual or threatened.

As I outline at greater length in my Beat the Devil column in the current
Nation, one of the biggest lessons for us all comes in the form of a
wake-up call on the enormous vulnerability of our prime means of
communication to swift government-instigated, summary shutdown.

So here we have a public "commons" - the Internet - subject to arbitrary
onslaught by the state and powerful commercial interests, and not even the
shadow of constitutional protections. The situation is getting worse. The
net itself is going private. As I write, Google and Facebook are locked in
a struggle over which company will control the bulk of the world's
Internet traffic. Millions could find that the e-mail addresses they try
to communicate with, the sites they want to visit, the ads they may want
to run are all under Google's or Facebook's supervision and can be closed
off without explanation or redress at any time.

Here in the US certainly, we need a big push on First Amendment
protections for the Internet: one more battlefield where the left and the
libertarians can join forces. But we must do more than buttress the First
Amendment. We must also challenge the corporations' power to determine the
structure of the Internet and decide who is permitted to use it.

Alexander Cockburn can be reached at alexandercockburn [at]

--------13 of 13--------

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 22:32:56 -0500
From: Portside Moderator <moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG>
Subject: Dogs Have Bigger Brains Than Cats Because They Are More Sociable

Dogs Have Bigger Brains Than Cats Because They Are More Sociable, Research

ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2010) -- Over millions of years dogs have developed
bigger brains than cats because highly social species of mammals need more
brain power than solitary animals, according to a study by Oxford

For the first time researchers have attempted to chart the evolutionary
history of the brain across different groups of mammals over 60 million
years. They have discovered that there are huge variations in how the
brains of different groups of mammals have evolved over that time. They
also suggest that there is a link between the sociality of mammals and the
size of their brains relative to body size, according to a study published
in the PNAS journal.

The research team analysed available data on the brain size and body size
of more than 500 species of living and fossilised mammals. It found that
the brains of monkeys grew the most over time, followed by horses,
dolphins, camels and dogs. The study shows that groups of mammals with
relatively bigger brains tend to live in stable social groups. The brains
of more solitary mammals, such as cats, deer and rhino, grew much more
slowly during the same period.

Previous research which has looked at why certain groups of living mammals
have bigger brains has relied on studies of distantly-related living
mammals. It was widely believed that the growth rate of the brain relative
to body size followed a general trend across all groups of mammals.
However, this study by Dr Susanne Shultz and Professor Robin Dunbar, from
Oxford University's Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology
(ICEA), overturns this view. They find that there is wide variation in
patterns of brain growth across different groups of mammals and they have
discovered that not all mammal groups have larger brains, suggesting that
social animals needed to think more.

Lead author Dr Susanne Shultz, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at
ICEA, said: 'This study overturns the long-held belief that brain size has
increased across all mammals. Instead, groups of highly social species
have undergone much more rapid increases than more solitary species. This
suggests that the cooperation and coordination needed for group living can
be challenging and over time some mammals have evolved larger brains to be
able to cope with the demands of socialising.'

Co-author and Director of ICEA Professor Robin Dunbar said: 'For the first
time, it has been possible to provide a genuine evolutionary time depth to
the study of brain evolution. It is interesting to see that even animals
that have contact with humans, like cats, have much smaller brains than
dogs and horses because of their lack of sociality.'

The research team used available data of the measurements of brain size
and body size of each group of living mammals and compared them with
similar data for the fossilised remains of mammals of the same lineage.
They examined the growth rates of the brain size relative to body size to
see if there were any changes in the proportions over time. The growth
rates of each mammal group were compared with other mammal groups to see
what patterns emerged.

[Research is now going forward on the brain size of 2008 and prospective
2012 Obama voters. Would we get more intelligent results if dogs voted in
their place? Cats? Ficus plants? Driveway gravel? Fingermail clippings?
Belly-button lint? Aged snot? -ed]


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