|Progressive Calendar 12.17.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 14:14:36 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.17.10 1. Palestine vigil NOT 2. Mayday mayday 12.17 6pm 3. RNC8 dinner 12.17 6:30pm 4. Merriam potluck 12.17 6:30pm 5. Peace walk 12.18 9am Cambridge MN 6. Fair trade 12.18 10am 7. Humanists 12.18 10am 8. CUAPB 12.18 1:30pm 9. Northtown vigil 12.18 2pm 10. Afgan war vigil 12.18 2pm 11. Free Bethlehem 12.18 2pm 12. CUAPB 10 anniv 12.18 5:30pm 13. Work democracy 12.18 7pm 14. Churk Collins - Obama kisses plutocrat butt 15. Sherry Wolf - The view from the empire's financial center 16. Hossein-Zader - The globalization of militarism, the biggest parasite 17. Vijah Prashad - The Wikileaks deluge / empire unmasked --------1 of 17-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil NOT Weather permitting, our next Palestine solidarity vigil will be fri, Jan. 7. we vigil if wind chill is greater than 10-20 degrees. eric 651-644-1173 http://ourworldindepth.org --------2 of 17-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Mayday mayday 12.17 6pm Mayday Holiday Party and Book Sale Friday, December 17, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. Come to Mayday Bookstore, the independent, all-volunteer progressive bookstore for your holiday shopping and to enjoy the company of Twin Cities area progressives and activists. During the event: 20% off all books, one free used book with $15.00 purchase, play holiday games, enjoy festive refreshments and snacks! With a special presentation: statement from the International Union of Elves, Reindeer and Associated Workers on the contract negotiations at the North Pole. Workers unite! Mayday Books is a non-profit, volunteer- run, progressive bookstore. "Not making a profit since 1975!" FFI: Call 612-333-4719. From: Tom Dooley <fellowcommoditydooley [at] gmail.com> Mayday, besides being the name of our bookstore, is an international distress signal. We are in some distress, financially. Following is a response to Kim Ode of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Read your article on bookstores in the Sunday 12-12-10 issue. It was sad to see so many small tragedies. As a volunteer clerk at Mayday Bookstore, I'm well aware of the change in reading habits causing these "small tragedies." We have been "on the edge" for a decade or two; one of our slogans is,"Not making a profit since 1975". Besides the usual problems faced by small "indies",our books; progressive, left, radical, sell to no more than one percent of the reading public and as we give 15% discount on all books it's a tight margin. Book sales themselves would not support the store but we host several events monthly put on by progressive, left, radical groups whose donations help a bit and we have a small hard-core group of Mayday "friends' who contribute enough to keep us semi-solvent. Tom Dooley, for Mayday Books stores Dear Mayday Friends, To help us not become a "small tragedy", come to Mayday Friday Dec 17, 6-9 pm, buy a book, or gift certificate, make a donation, have some good food, good conversation, and thanks. --------3 of 17-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: RNC8 dinner 12.17 6:30pm RNC8 Dinner/Event Series at Waite House? December 17: Music by Metapeninsula to benefit Avenues for Youth Help us make this a time of movement building and solidarity. Each event will begin with dinner, followed by different content each week, and proceeds will be donated to rotating political projects. Dinner at 6:30pm, Content at 7:00pm Waite House, 2529 13th Ave. S., Minneapolis $5-15 sliding scale, kids $2 Vegan and gluten-free options; childcare provided December 17: Metapeninsula (Benefit for Avenues for Youth) Music by Metapeninsula, midwestern gay country band from Chicago, and information about Avenues for Youth, which provides shelter and support for homeless youth in the Twin Cities. Ten thousand young people in Minnesota experience homelessness every year. On any night around the state, nearly 2,000 youth and young adults are homeless and left to find their own way. The mission of Avenues for Homeless Youth (http://avenuesforyouth.org) is to provide emergency shelter, short term housing and support services for homeless youth in a safe and nurturing environment. Through such service, Avenues seeks to help youth achieve their personal goals and make a positive transition into young adulthood. Avenues works to empower youth who are transitioning out of homelessness through an emergency shelter and transitional housing with supportive services in North Minneapolis, as well as a GLBT Host Home Program, providing transitional living arrangements for homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and young adults ages 16-21 in safe, supportive host homes. --------4 of 17-------- From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] MPPeace.org> Subject: Merriam potluck 12.17 6:30pm 2010 Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace Potlucks We hold a monthly potluck at a member's home or go out to dinner together - usually on a Friday at 6:30 p.m. Friday, December 17, 2010 Please e-mail info [at] mppeace.org or call Anne at (651) 647-0580 or Krista at (651) 641-7592 for more information. http://www.mppeace.org/events/ --------5 of 17-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 12.18 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------6 of 17-------- From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Fair trade 12.18 10am Coffee Hour: Fair Trade in Real Life Business Practice 12/18/10 Saturday, December 18/2010 Resource Center of The Americas From 10:00am to 11:45am What does Fair Trade mean in real life business practice? Is it possible to be a successful company with a social mission in Latin America? What sort of projects benefit communities that grow products for the US market? Viana Muller, cofounder of Whole World Botanicals, will address these questions and more at the Saturday Coffee Hour, December 18, and will present a video on the challenges of being a social entrepreneur in Peru. Whole World Botanicals has been importing herbs from the Central Sierra of Peru and the Amazon for almost two decades. Viana and co-founder Elena Rojas are committed to having everyone benefit from their socially responsible business, especially the producers and harvesters of herbs. Biography: Viana is an anthropologist and herbal expert. The companys products (maca, cats claw, desmodium, graviola, camu among others) have benefited many. She has worked hard to insure that the growers also benefit. This is an inside look on what it takes to be a socially responsible player in the world of herbal products. Facilitator: Jackie Mosio, former RCTA board member, will introduce Viana at the Coffee Hour --------7 of 17-------- From: Minnesota Atheists <web [at] mnatheists.org> Subject: Humanists 12.18 10am Saturday, December 18, 10:00am-Noon Humanists of MN Monthly Meeting Nokomis Recreation Center, 2401 E Minnehaha Pkwy, Minneapolis This event occurs every third Saturday. This month's topic: "A Brief History of Disbelief, Part II" --------8 of 17-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 12.18 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------9 of 17-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 12.18 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------10 of 17-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Afgan war vigil 12.18 2pm Minneapolis Vigil and Protest to Call for End to War in Afghanistan End the war in Afghanistan! Bring the troops home now! Send an Anti-War Message for the Holidays Protest and Vigil Saturday December 18, 2:00 p.m. Library Plaza, Hennepin and Lagoon, Minneapolis As Obama Administration plans to extend and expand war in Afghanistan: Minneapolis vigil and protest to speak out against Afghanistan war. On Thursday, December 16 the Obama Administration announced its "review" of the war in Afghanistan. The review essentially said that the war will continue for three or four more years and will expand with further attacks in Pakistan. Anti-war protests have been called in cities around the U.S. to speak out against the continuing war. A coalition of Twin Cities area peace and anti-war groups will hold a vigil and protest on Saturday, December 18 starting at 2:00 p.m. at Hennepin and Lagoon Avenues in Minneapolis. The event is being called under the theme of "Send an anti-war message for the holidays - End the war in Afghanistan." On one of the busiest shopping days of the year, in the very busy Uptown shopping area, participants will hold signs and banners opposing the war. The event will include anti-war holiday carols sung by the Counter-Propaganda Singers. A statement issued by organizers says in part, "Over the past year, the U.S. war in Afghanistan has dramatically escalated, with huge increases in civilian and military casualties. The U.S. is now deploying battle tanks to Afghanistan. The war is also expanding into Pakistan. "It is estimated that the escalation of this war costs $57,077 per minute. At the same time, millions of people in the U.S. are facing unemployment, the loss of their homes to foreclosure and drastic cuts in needed human services." The statement concludes, "The majority of the people of the U.S. are against the war. It is up to us, the people, to insist that this war end and that the troops and war dollars be brought home NOW." Protest actions in recent days have included a civil disobedience action at the White House on Thursday, December 16 led by anti-war veterans which led to over 100 arrests. Several Minnesotans are among those arrested in the White House action. Brief statements will be made at the Saturday vigil by members of Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Anti-War Committee and others. A special statement will also come from one of the Twin Cities anti-war activists who have recently been ordered to appear in front of a federal grand jury for their anti-war activism. For more information: Marie Braun 612 522-1861 FFI: Call 612-522-1861 or 612-827-5364. --------11 of 17-------- From: William Bailey <wbailey [at] visi.com> Subject: Free Bethlehem 12.18 2pm The Free Bethlehem Campaign: Twin Cities Bethlehem is one of the most historically significant towns in Palestine. It is known as the birthplace of King David and of Jesus. And, for generations, it was a lively and bustling town. But, today, Bethlehem resembles an open-air prison, occupied by Israel's military and encircled by Israel's wall. These circumstances have caused Bethlehem's population, particularly its once-vibrant Christian population, to emigrate from the city in dramatic numbers. AAPER invites you to join its Free Bethlehem Campaign in December by attending a showing of the documentary Sacred Space Denied, and joining in on a discussion about the film and the situation in Bethlehem. Saturday 12/18/2010 2:00 - 3:30 PM Rondo Community Outreach Library 461 N Dale St Saint Paul, MN 55103 For more information regarding the location and directions, please check the following link http://www.stpaul.lib.mn.us/locations/rondo.html#directions For more information about The American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights, Please visit <http://www.aaper.org/> www.AAPER.org --------12 of 17-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 10th anniv 12.18 5:30pm CUAPB IS 10 YEARS OLD--HELP US CELEBRATE! It's rare for an all-volunteer grassroots organization to last for ten years, let alone thrive and be responsible for an impressive list of achievements. For ten years, CUAPB has held weekly meetings, run a 24-hour hotline, attended hundreds of court hearings, successfully litigated cases of our own, testified in front of many government bodies, held tons of protests, trained thousand of people in their rights, shot hundreds of hours of copwatch footage, and generally moved heaven and earth to end police brutality and make police more accountable to the community. Come help us celebrate the last ten years and look ahead to the next ten years. CUAPB 10th Anniversary Dinner Saturday, December 18 at 5:30 p.m. Walker Church 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis Event is free, though donations will be gratefully accepted Keynote speaker for this event will be Samuel Clark, a former police lieutenant and veteran officer of over 25 years, who was himself brutalized by fellow officers. After reporting the brutality, he experienced harsh retaliation and reprisals. He worked with other officers to uncover and expose corruption and misconduct in the Newark, NJ police department and was fired as a result. He has written two books on his own experiences and on holding police accountable. Both books--Criminal Cops (2005) and Total Misconduct (2007)--feature the work of CUAPB. In a review of Total Misconduct, Leon Grauer, a defense attorney and former internal affairs prosecutor wrote, "Never before has the systemic culture of police misconduct been so thoroughly described. Lieutenant Clark's experiences and observations show why it will take a virtual revolution in police administration to change the ongoing culture of racism and corruption that plagues so many police departments." Now retired, Clark testifies in court cases involving police misconduct and provides assistance to people who have been abused by police. --------13 of 17-------- From: "Tom Dooley" <fellowcommoditydooley [at] gmail.com> Subject: Working democracy 12.18 7pm Sat Dec 18 at Mayday Books, 301 cedar Ave. S.(basement of HUB Bicycles, West Bank, Minneapolis...Brian McNeil and Morgan Soderberg will present. A sandwich bar and the usual beverages provided. 7pm Sat Dec 18. and don't forget to do some of your holiday shopping at your local progressive, non-profitÂ bookstore MAY DAY BOOKS :) phone: (612)333-4719 --------14 of 17-------- Obama Aids the Plutocrats Concentrating the Wealth By CHUCK COLLINS December 17 - 19, 2010 CounterPunch In 2010, an essential moral test of a public policy choice is: Does it further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few? Or does it disperse concentrated wealth and power - and strengthen possibilities for a democratic society with greater equality, improved health and well-being, shared prosperity and ecological sustainability? Does it move us toward Plutocracy or Peace and Plenty? Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, "We can have democracy or concentrated wealth. But we cannot have both." By the Brandeis Test, President Obama's "tax compromise" fails. By extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and instituting a significantly weakened estate tax, more wealth will flow into the hands of the richest one percent - and within that to richest one-tenth of one percent. Most of us are aware of President Obama's willingness to trade away his campaign promise to let the tax cuts for high income households expire. This will cost $60 billion next year and an estimated $700 billion if it is permanently extended. But Obama also backed away from his position on the federal estate tax, which was to freeze it at 2009 levels (wealth exempted to $3.5 million, 45 percent rate). He now supports the Kyl-Lincoln amendment which would raise the exemption to $5 million ($10 million for a couple) and drop the rate to 35 percent. The cost difference between these two measures is at least $100 billion over ten years. For the last generation, this richest one percent, with some admirable exceptions, has been using its considerable wealth and clout to push for public policy changes that have further concentrated wealth. We are now in what I could characterize as "Death Spiral To Plutocracy." As wealth concentrates, a hyper-organized segment of this wealth-holder class uses its wealth, privilege and power to change the rules of the economy to further concentrate wealth and privilege. The logical progression of these policies is a society governed by wealth, a modern high-tech version of the Gilded Age of 1900. For 30 years, liberal Presidents and Democratic Congress members have cut deals with a growing a bipartisan (mostly Republican Party) Pro-Plutocracy faction. We've won victories for working families - family leave, increased minimum wage, expanded health care, middle class tax cuts - but the price has always been very expensive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Under Clinton and Bush II, you couldn't get anything faintly progressive done without a big bone to the wealthy or corporate class - another capital gains tax cut or corporate loophole. Such compromises have been central to the Obama political strategy: To get a stimulus package to save the economy, Congress allocates a third of $780 billion for tax breaks to corporations (and still didn't get one GOP vote). To get broader health care coverage for the uninsured, lawmakers surrendered the "public option" that would have forced competition and cut into the power and profits of the health industry cartel. To get a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau included in the June 2010 financial reform bill, lawmakers allowed Wall Street to keep its risky casino operation in place - laying the groundwork for future bubbles, meltdowns and bailouts. This is a very costly strategy. It diverts trillions of dollars from the Treasury that could be used for long overdue investments in infrastructure, education, energy independence - things that could truly boost the real economy. But worse, it sets up future political battles where the very wealthy and powerful corporations continue to have most of the ammo. In the post "Citizens United" campaign finance environment, this is premeditated surrender. There are only a few ways to intervene to prevent the "Death Spiral to Plutocracy" - and reverse course. They all require an engaged citizenry to clearly say: "We want an economy that serves everyone, not just the wealthy." The first intervention is through progressive income, wealth and estate taxes. We urgently need to reinstitute a progressive estate tax. Instead of cutting a deal to institute the Republican estate tax proposal that greatly weakens the law, Congress should press for the Responsible Estate Tax Act which would chip away at concentrated wealth. The second is through robust campaign finance reform that closes the nexus between wealth and political power. Anything that puts a speed bump between wealth and political influence helps slow the Death Spiral. The third is to mobilize the silent faction of the wealthy elites that actually see their stake in the common good. Not everyone in the wealth-holding class are actively lobbying to protect their power and privilege. We need a progressive counter-weight to organized defenders of power and privilege. The Wealth for the Common Good network is an inspiring start - with several thousand business leaders and wealthy individuals advocating for policies to broaden prosperity and opportunity. They can counter the deep mythology around wealth creation and deservedness that often justify tax cuts for the wealthy and support the positions of engaged citizens. Sen. Bernard Sanders is proposing a filibuster against the tax cuts - and he plans to read hundreds of documents about the dangers of extreme inequality in the U.S. Let's all take a similar stand in our own lives - and urge our elected officials to do the same. Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good (www.ips-dc.org/inequality). He is co-author of The Moral Measure of the Economy (Orbis Books) and with Bill Gates, Sr. of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes (Beacon). --------15 of 17-------- The View From the Empire's Financial Center Letter to a Discouraged Progressive By SHERRY WOLF December 17 - 19, 2010 CounterPunch The year 2010 has not been kind to the majority of the world's people. >From the streets of Chicago to those of Port-au-Prince, Kabul and Athens, life has gotten harder for ordinary folks, while the ruling elites have become even more tyrannical than at any time in recent memory. Or so it seems from the vantage point of the Empire's crumbling financial center where I live, New York City. The hopes many around the world had placed in a Black American president have long faded; even Obama's most enthusiastic supporters can't muster a compelling call to the ballot box to stir his disgruntled base. Obama's flaccid response to the crises around him and embrace of right-wing Clintonite triangulation has resurrected and even legitimized the right. It seems that everywhere you turn there are reasons to despair - endless wars and occupations, ecological disaster beyond belief and of course, joblessness and the downward spiral of living conditions for workers everywhere. Overall, 17.9% of Black men are without a job, and in New York City only one in four Black men between 16 and 24 are employed. It's enough at times to make the most ardent hopemonger among us - that would be me - yield to the prevailing gloom and resignation. But if you allow your gaze to take in only the horrors of the system and you turn a blind eye to the developing responses and politicization, then defeat is almost certain and hopelessness is reaffirmed. This isn't a holiday cheer-up message. I'm a devout atheist with no faith in anything beyond the power of ordinary people to take collective action to change their circumstances. No, this is a blunt and urgent reminder that one of the most crucial weapons of the ruling classes of the world is their ability to disarm us - ideologically, emotionally and physically - by pounding into us a distorted and partial picture of our situation. How else can a tiny class of parasites remain in control unless they convince us that we have no alternatives to the ones their barbaric system puts on offer? The massive strikes and protests against austerity and injustice taking place in Rome, London, Paris and Athens - pitched in the U.S. media as "riots" - are very real and very encouraging. They are Europe's best hope. But, you ask, what about here? Well, what about here? To be sure, we appear far from surrounding our own wannabe monarchs' cars and shouting "Off with their heads," as they did with Prince Charles and Camilla in London last week. (Please, brothers and sisters of Britain, complete your bourgeois revolution already and bring down that useless family's reign.) But while the level of struggle remains low in the United States, it is not always subterranean. There are even protests and strikes occurring in the most unlikely places - among prisoners and doctors. In Georgia, where one in twelve adults is in jail, prison or on parole or probation, "prisoners are us," as Black Agenda Report puts it. A strike of historic proportions among Muslims, Blacks, Mexicans and whites has been taking place in Georgia's state prisons since last week. They are demanding pay for their work, opportunities for education, decent health care and nutrition. These prisoners are peaceful, well-organized and united - in defiance of every expectation and in the face of a thuggish corrections system attempting to goad them to violence. But prison strikers are asserting their humanity in a place designed to rob men and women of their souls. At Harlem Hospital, 75 percent of 200 unionized doctors voted to strike against pay cuts, the loss of tuition reimbursement and sick days, as well as inferior benefits. The physicians settled without a strike last night, but the proletarianization of their working conditions, like those of teachers and other professionals, are compelling even those we're accustomed to thinking of as above resistance to reconsider their options. The senselessness of Obama's "little Gitmos," domestic Guantnamos where entrapped Muslim victims like the Newburgh 4, the Fort Dix 5 and the North Carolina 7 languish in solitary confinement, is forcing family members and new allies to unite their efforts and build a broad solidarity movement. More than 120 people attended the first meeting last evening where 13 families told their kafkaesque stories and everyone huddled and strategized. All of this is happening within a broader context of discontent and unease beginning to show itself in all sorts of small ways - from successful anti-eviction fights in Boston and Chicago to the packed community hearings in cities across the country where budget cuts are debated. Even the world's most vilified people, the Palestinians, are gaining a greater hearing than ever on campuses and in communities in this country. Since May, when Israel massacred 9 activists on their way to Gaza with humanitarian aid, new Students for Justice in Palestine groups began forming, and now a first-ever US Boat to Gaza is organizing to join the next international aid flotilla and a newly emerging International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network is mobilizing alongside Arab and Muslim groups to expose Israel's lies. I know, we are far from the level of organizing and political cohesion required to win these fights. But we are about to enter a phase when the right wing will have to go from spitting out idiocies on Fox News to actually pursuing their slash and burn policies, with the Democrats in open collaboration. If progressives continue to look upward toward politicians for answers, disappointment is guaranteed. But there are more people than in decades attending leftist meetings, reading left-wing blogs and Web sites and seeking out independent left alternatives to the politics of Washington. What will it look like when American workers and students get more organized - to the background of scenes of Europe and elsewhere in open rebellion playing on TV and YouTube? I don't honestly know what it looks like when a society starts to go from grumbling into mass resistance. I'm too young to have experienced the last major upheavals, despite my head of salt of pepper hair. It's actually been that long. But perhaps this is what it looks like. Decades of crapification, deep crisis, illusions in a great leader, deeper crisis, mass upheavals elsewhere, discontent in great leader, stirrings, setbacks, small actions, politicization and so on from there. I am certain of two things: 1) The numbers of people wanting to read and figure out a way forward are greater than at any time in my adult life; and 2) The worst thing a progressive can do these days is sit at home, alone, and fret. It only reinforces the isolation and defeat that the people at the top want us to absorb. We have a long road ahead, but there are actions to get involved in and groups to join. As I look toward the next year, I think about the teachings of Howard Zinn, a kind and brilliant historian who passed away early this year after a life well-lived and engaged in struggle. In You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Zinn was at his hopemongering best: To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of the world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. Sherry Wolf is the author of Sexuality and Socialism. She blogs at Sherry Talks Back. --------16 of 17-------- The Biggest Parasite The Globalization of Militarism By ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH December 17 - 19, 2010 CounterPunch Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. -James Madison The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government. -Martin Luther King Jr. Many Americans still believe that US foreign policies are designed to maintain peace, to safeguard human rights and to spread democracy around the world. Regardless of their officially stated objectives, however, those policies often lead to opposite outcomes: war, militarism and dictatorship. Evidence of the fact that US policy makers no longer uphold the ideals they state publicly is overwhelming. Those who continue to harbor illusions about the thrust of US policies around the world must be oblivious to the fact that the United States has been overtaken by a military-industrial-security-financial cabal whose representatives are firmly ensconced in both the White House and the US Congress. The ultimate goal of the cabal, according to their own military guidelines, is "full spectrum dominance" of the world; and they are willing to wage as many wars, to destroy as many countries and to kill as many people as necessary to achieve that goal. The liberal hawks and petty intellectual pundits who tend to defend US foreign policies on the grounds of "human rights" or "moral obligations" are well served to pay attention (among other evidence) to the US foreign policy documents that are currently being disclosed by the Wikileaks. The documents "show all too clearly that," as Paul Craig Roberts puts it, "the US government is a duplicitous entity whose raison d'etre is to control every other country". In essence, the documents show that while the US government, like a global mafia godfather, rewards the pliant ruling elites of the client states with arms, financial aid and military protections, it punishes the nations whose leaders refuse to surrender to the wishes of the bully and relinquish their national sovereignty. US foreign policies, like its domestic policies, are revealed as catering not to the broader public or national interests of the people but to the powerful special interests that are vested primarily in the military capital and the finance capital. US foreign policy architects are clearly incapable of recognizing or acknowledging the fact that different peoples and nations may have different needs and interests. Nor are they capable of respecting other peoples' aspirations to national sovereignty. Instead, they tend to view other peoples, just as they do the American people, through the narrow prism of their own nefarious interests. By selfishly dividing the world into "friends" and "foe," or "vassal states," as Zbigniew Brzezinski put it, powerful beneficiaries of war and militarism compel both groups to embark on a path of militarization, which leads inevitably to militarism and authoritarian rule. Although militarism grows out of the military, the two are different in character. While the military is a means to meet certain ends such as maintaining national security, militarism represents a bureaucratized permanent military establishment as an end in itself. It is "a phenomenon," as the late Chalmers Johnson put it, "by which a nation's armed services come to put their institutional preservation ahead of achieving national security or even a commitment to the integrity of the governmental structure of which they are a part" (The Sorrows of Empire, Metropolitan Books, 2004, pp. 423-24). This explains the cancerous growth and parasitic nature of US militarism - cancerous because it is steadily expanding throughout many parts of the world, and parasitic because not only does it drain other nations resources, it also sucks US national resources out of the public purse into the coffers of the wicked interests that are vested in the military-industrial-security complex. By creating fear and instability and embarking on unilateral military adventures, corporate militarism of the United States also fosters militarism elsewhere. A major US strategy of expanding its imperial influence and promoting militarism around the globe has been the formation of international military alliances in various parts of the world. These include not only the notorious North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is essentially an integral part of the Pentagon's world command structure, and which was recently expanded to police the world, but also 10 other joint military commands called Unified Combatant Commands. They include Africa Command (AFRICOM), Central Command (CENTCOM), European Command (EUCOM), Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Pacific Command (PACOM), and Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). The geographic area under the "protection" of each of these Unified Combatant Commands is called Area of Responsibility (AOR). AFRICOM's area of responsibility includes US "military operations and military relations with 53 African nations - an area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt". CENTCOM's area of responsibility spans many countries in the Middle East/Near East/Persian Gulf and Central Asia. It includes Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. EUCOM's area of responsibility "covers 51 countries and territories, including Europe, Iceland, Greenland, and Israel". NORTHCOM's area of responsibility "includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the contiguous United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles (930 km). It also includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, portions of the Caribbean region to include The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands". PACOM's area of responsibility "covers over fifty percent of the world's surface area - approximately 105 million square miles (nearly 272 million square kilometers) - nearly sixty percent of the world's population, thirty-six countries, twenty territories, and ten territories and possessions of the United States". SOUTHCOM's area of responsibility "encompasses 32 nations (19 in Central and South America and 13 in the Caribbean).and 14 US and European territories. . . . It is responsible for providing contingency planning and operations in Central and South America, the Caribbean (except US commonwealths, territories, and possessions), Cuba, their territorial waters". Together with over 800 military bases scattered over many parts of the world, this military colossus represents an ominous presence of the US armed forces all across our planet. Instead of dismantling NATO as redundant in the post-Cold War era, it has been expanded (as a proxy for the US military juggernaut) to include many new countries in Eastern Europe all the way to the borders of Russia. Not only has it inserted itself into a number of new international relations and recruited many new members and partners, it has also arrogated to itself many new tasks and responsibilities in social, political, economic, environmental, transportation and communications arenas of the world. NATO's new areas of "responsibility," as reflected in its latest Strategic Concept, include "human rights"; "key environmental and resource constraints, including health risks, climate change, water scarcity and increasing energy needs: . ..; "important means of communication, such as the internet, and scientific and technological research" . ..; "proliferation of ballistic missiles, of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction"; "threat of extremism, terrorism and trans-national illegal activities such as trafficking in arms, narcotics and people"; "vital communication, transport and transit routes on which international trade, energy security and prosperity depend"; the "ability to prevent, detect, defend against and recover from cyber-attacks"; and the need to "ensure that the Alliance is at the front edge in assessing the security impact of emerging technologies". Significant global issues thus claimed to be part of NATO's expanded mission fall logically within the purview of civilian international institutions such as the United Nations. So why is the US ruling plutocracy, using NATO, now trying to supplant the United Nations and other international agencies? The reason is that due to the rise of the influence of a number of new international players such as Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Iran, and Venezuela the UN is no longer as subservient to the global ambitions of the United States as it once was. Planning to employ the imperial military machine of NATO instead of the civilian multilateral institutions such as the UN clearly belies, once again, the self-righteous US claims of trying to spread democracy worldwide. Furthermore, NATO's expanded "global responsibilities" would easily provide the imperial US military machine new excuses for unilateral military interventions. By the same token, such military adventures would also provide the US military-industrial-security complex additional rationale for continued escalation of the Pentagon budget. The expansion of NATO to include most of the Eastern Europe has led Russia, which had curtailed its military spending during the 1990s in the hope that, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the US would also do the same, to once again increase its military spending. In response to the escalation of US military spending, which has nearly tripled during the last 10 years (from $295 billion when George W. Bush went to the White House in January 2001 to the current figure of nearly one trillion dollars), Russia too has drastically increased its military spending during the same time period (from about $22 billion in 2000 to $61 billion today). In a similar fashion, US military encirclement of China (through a number of military alliances and partnerships that range from Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to South China Sea/Southeast Asia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand and most recently Vietnam) has led that country to also further strengthen its military capabilities. Just as the US military and geopolitical ambitions have led Russia and China to reinforce their military capabilities, so have they compelled other countries such as Iran, Venezuela and North Korea to likewise strengthen their armed forces and buttress their military preparedness. Not only does aggressive US militarism compel its "adversaries" to allocate a disproportionately large share of their precious resources to military spending, but it also coerces its "allies" to likewise embark on a path of militarization. Thus, countries like Japan and Germany, whose military capabilities were reduced to purely defensive postures following the atrocities of World War II, have once again been re-militarizing in recent years under the impetus of what US military strategists call "the need to share the burden of global security". Thus, while Germany and Japan still operate under a "peace constitution," their military expenditures on a global scale now rank sixth and seventh, respectively (behind the US, China, France, UK and Russia). US militarization of the world (both directly through the spread of its own military apparatus across the globe and indirectly by compelling both "friends" and "foe" to militarize) has a number of ominous consequences for the overwhelming majority or the population the world. For one thing, it is the source of a largely redundant and disproportionately large allocation of the world's precious resources to war, militarism and wasteful production of the means of death and destruction. Obviously, as this inefficient, class-biased disbursement of resources drains public finance and accumulates national debt, it also brings tremendous riches and treasures to war profiteers, that is, the beneficiaries of the military capital and the finance capital. Secondly, to justify this lopsided allocation of the lion's share of national resources to military spending, beneficiaries of war dividends tend to create fear, suspicion and hostility among peoples and nations of the world, thereby sowing the seeds of war, international conflicts and global instability. Thirdly, by the same token that powerful beneficiaries of war and military-security capital tend to promote suspicion, to create fear and invent enemies, both at home and abroad, they also undermine democratic values and nurture authoritarian rule. As the predatory military-industrial-security-financial interests find democratic norms of openness and transparency detrimental to their nefarious objectives of limitless self-enrichment, they cleverly create pretexts for secrecy, "security," military rule and police state. Concealment of the robbery of public treasury in the name of national security requires restriction of information, obstruction of transparency, and curtailment of democracy. It follows that under the kleptocratic influence of the powerful interests that are vested in the military-security-financial industries the US government has turned into an ominous global force of destabilization, obstruction, retrogression and authoritarianism. Ismael Hossein-zadeh, author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007), teaches economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. --------17 of 17-------- The Wikileaks Deluge Empire Unmasked By VIJAY PRASHAD December 15, 2010 CounterPunch "Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority, which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests. Imperialism, with its dark plans of conquest and its robber alliances and deals, developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest level." - Leon Trotsky, Foreign Affairs Commissariat, USSR, 1917. On November 28, four newspapers and WikiLeaks' website released the first tranche of almost 250,000 United States State Department and embassy cables. Orchestrated with a great deal of care, the website provided only the 291 cables that were being written about separately by El Pas, Der Spiegel, The Guardian and The New York Times. Each day a set of cables saw the light of day and the papers reported on them in tandem. A few days after the trickle, The Guardian provided a downloadable index of all the cables, with information of their provenance and their dates, but with nothing about their content. It whets the appetite. What we have to look forward to are cables from 274 embassies and the State Department at Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC. These cables cover the years 1966 to 2010, although the bulk of them belong to the period after 2006. The cables carry such varied material as Ambassadors' assessments of the political situation in the countries they are deputed to, the State Department's questions to Ambassadors, and Ambassadors' or political officers' reports on meetings they attended. Some Ambassadors and political officers are remarkably perceptive; others are, predictably, duds. Thus far, just over a thousand cables are in the public domain. WikiLeaks' public face, Julian Assange, is under arrest in the United Kingdom, and capitals across the world are either in nervous anticipation or in shocked disbelief. There is no question that this deluge by WikiLeaks is the most significant blow to the world of secret diplomacy since the Soviet Union opened the Tsarist correspondence with the grandees of Europe in 1917. In early 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey wrote to Hillary Clinton to prepare her for her visit with Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit. The cable is a model of diplomatic acumen, providing a character sketch of Gheit ("smart, urbane with a tendency to lecture") and offering a series of options that Gheit might push Clinton on (such as an invitation to the Gaza Donors' Conference in Cairo). Scobey, a career foreign services officer, knows her business. No wonder that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs asks its trainee diplomats to study the cables "and get a hang of the brevity with which thoughts and facts have been expressed". Early in the cable, however, Scobey reveals the problem with her profession. She correctly points out to Hillary Clinton that Gheit "may not raise human rights (specifically Ayman Nour), political reform, or democratisation; but you should". Ayman Nour is the leader of the El Ghad liberal party who had been in Cairo's prisons since 2005 (he was released shortly after Clinton's meeting with Gheit). The problem here is that while Scobey tried to push the agenda of human rights in one room, in other, more shadowy rooms, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and military intelligence officials of the U.S. carried a more powerful brief. Since 1995, the U.S. government has provided the Egyptian secret service (the Mukhabarat) with various prisoners through the extraordinary rendition programme. These prisoners, often suspected of being Al Qaeda members, are alleged to have been tortured in those very jails that Ambassador Scobey criticised. Idealism vs new diplomacy What the cables demonstrate, therefore, is the blind idealism of the State Department, which has been sidelined by the new diplomacy in the shadows conducted by the U.S. government's arms of war. In cable after cable, we read of the visits of U.S. military officials and their conversations with heads of state in various countries. The Ambassadors act as fixers or go-betweens for these military luminaries. For instance, Ambassador Stephen Seche, another career diplomat, filed a cable from Sana'a, Yemen, in January 2010 on General David Petraeus' meeting with Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Seche sat by as stenographer as Petraeus and Saleh colluded against Yemeni sovereignty and the U.S. public . the U.S. has an active military presence in Yemen, and is at war there, something that is not known in the U.S. and has not been admitted to the Yemeni Parliament. "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh told Petraeus. His Deputy, Rashad al-Alimi, said he had just lied to Parliament, telling it that the bombs are American, but fired by Yemenis. Petraeus pointed out that Saleh must tell the Yemeni customs to stop "holding up embassy cargo at the airport, including shipments destined for the [Yemeni government] itself, such as equipment of [Yemen's counter terrorism unit]". In other words, the diplomatic pouch no longer carries only letters; it now carries military hardware. In 2007, Deputy Chief of Mission in Berlin John Koenig wrote to the State Department after a briefing at the German Chancellery. The Bush administration was afraid that the German government would pursue a case against the 13 CIA agents who were responsible for the extraordinary rendition of a German national, Khalid el-Masri. The CIA kidnapped, tortured and then released El-Masri when they discovered that they had the wrong man. The Germans found out the names of the agents and traced their orders to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. As legal scholar Lisa Hajjar put it to me, "the cables indicate that the U.S. exerted political pressure on the German legal and political system to shut down the criminal case, a serious and unlawful intervention in the domestic law enforcement process of a sovereign state." Once more the embassy is doing the legwork of the CIA and the NSA, both of whom have begun to run foreign policy but use the State Department to clean up behind them. Even here, diplomacy is reduced to naked power. The Deputy Chief of Mission "pointed out that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S." This is, of course, a threat. Much the same dance took place in Madrid. Spying on U.N. staff No surprise then that the State Department, in July 2009, asks its embassy staff to collect credit card information, frequent-flyer numbers and biometric data of members of the United Nations Security Council and of the U.N. Secretary-General. What is revealing is that we do not know who has asked the State Department to collect this information and what will be done with it. It is unlikely that the State Department has use for such information; more likely that this goes off into the entrails of the Defence Intelligence Agency, the CIA and the NSA. These shadowy entities are the only ones with the wherewithal to use this kind of data. They have smothered the capacity of the more urbane State Department to conduct its kind of handshake diplomacy. The embassy now appears as the emissary of the military and the CIA. This is precisely what Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke meant when he called for the diplomatic arm to be a "support for the military". Cloak and Download The WikiLeaks cable dump brought embarrassment to capitals across the world. In Beijing there were shudders when the U.S. cables quote officials calling the North Koreans "spoilt children" and when the cables pointed fingers at Chinese officials for the cyber-attack on Google. A tremor crossed Buckingham Palace when the well-written cable from Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller showed up Prince Andrew's nasty side. Ex-government officials in London blushed when the cables suggested that they had released the Libyan prisoner Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi because of pressure from Tripoli, where Gaddafi must be unhappy that the world knows that he cannot climb more than 35 steps at a time. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi must enjoy the notations about his notorious party-life, as much as Germany's Angela Merkel must despise the characterisation that she "avoids risk and is seldom creative". Subservience The cables from the Gulf had the royals, in a position of utter subservience, telling the Ambassadors what they think the U.S. wants to hear: during the Bush administration begging them to attack Iran, and then during the Obama administration calling for tougher sanctions. The Gulf royals are a mirror of Washington's whims. American and Israeli newspapers saw the selective calls for a military attack on Iran as confirmation of the views of their own governments. If Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan called for Iran's nuclear programme to be stopped "by all means available", on another day his government was "clearly nervous about any U.S. actions that could upset their much larger and militarily superior neighbour". By 2009, the Crown Prince worried that a military strike "would have little impact on Iran's capabilities", even as he fulminated, "Ahmedinejad is Hitler" (the last quote was highlighted in The New York Times). Evidence of U.S. operations in Yemen was not as devastating as evidence of its Special Force operations in South Waziristan. Ambassador Anne Patterson's agony is evident. In February 2009, she wrote to Washington that the relationship with Pakistan is "transactional in nature," as well as "based on mutual mistrust". "Pakistan hedges its bets on cooperation because it fears the U.S. will again desert Islamabad after we get Osama bin Laden," she wrote perceptively. "Washington sees this hesitancy as duplicity that requires we take unilateral action to protect U.S. interests. After 9/11, then President [Pervez] Musharraf made a strategic shift to abandon the Taliban and support the U.S. in the war on terror, but neither side believes the other has lived up to expectations flowing from that decision. The relationship is one of co-dependency we grudgingly admit . Pakistan knows the U.S. cannot afford to walk away; the U.S. knows Pakistan cannot survive without our support." It is hardly the kind of thing that the State Department would like to have in the public domain, even as it demonstrates that Washington does not operate without the benefit of reality. Everybody denounced the leaks and rejected the claims made by U.S. Ambassadors. Washington, DC, reacted in an obvious way. It went after the messenger. A charge that Julian Assange did not use a condom when he had consensual sexual relations in Sweden (which has some of the best rape laws in the world) was resurrected miraculously by the prosecution office in Gothenburg; the Swedish Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, had declined to prosecute the case in August of this year. The American right wing went off the deep end, with several prominent people calling for the assassination of Assange. Even Democrats lost their commitment to free speech . Senator Diane Feinstein called for Assange to be jailed for 2.5 million years (a 10-year sentence for each offence, and with 250,000 documents the sentence is biblical). Senator Joe Lieberman put pressure on Amazon to remove WikiLeaks from their web server. It complied, and so did MasterCard, Visa, Tableau, PayPal and EveryDNS. The Hindu's editorial on December 5 called this a procedure of "Digital McCarthyism". Why is there this massive outrage at these cables when there was virtual silence at the release of the Iraq and Afghan war logs? These cables show the elite at their venal worst, conniving with each other, making light of each other's failings. Imagine what must be in the Russian diplomatic dispatches or those of the Saudi intelligence services. The war logs, on the other hand, showed the misadventures of teenaged working-class soldiers, suborned to a war that they did not understand. Their violence was dismissed as the work of a few "bad apples", men and women who had not been sufficiently civilised. In these cables, on the other hand, the civilised talk about their "dark plans of conquest". It is an abomination. Before his arrest Assange took on the liberal concept of free speech. In a chat on The Guardian website, he noted, "The West has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings, and so on. In such an environment, it is easy for speech to be ' free' because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is like birds and badgers." Assange's dry, elliptical wit emerged once more in his last published dispatch ( The Australian, "Don't Shoot the Messenger for Revealing Uncomfortable Truths," December 8). Here he compared his endeavour to the campaign of Rupert Murdoch's father Keith. Keith Murdoch fought to bring to light the sacrifices of Australian troops at Gallipoli because of muddled British commanders. "In the race between secrecy and truth," the elder Murdoch wrote, "it seems inevitable that truth will always win." Assange then went on to say, "Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption." The point about "corporate corruption" is withering. WikiLeaks has already announced that it is set to release documents from a major U.S. bank. In haste, Bank of America pre-emptively said it may be the bank. It wants to take the sting out of the surprise. When the talk of assassination heated up, Assange and his team released an insurance file to their allies. This heavily encrypted file contains damaging material on British Petroleum, Guantanamo Bay and other matters. It sits on computers, awaiting the 256-digit key. The WikiLeaks team has appropriately called this the Doomsday File. Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009. The Swedish and French editions are just out. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad [at] trincoll.edu A version of this piece originally ran in Frontline. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress for governor now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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