Progressive Calendar 03.17.11
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2011 14:23:35 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.17.11

1. Eagan peace vigil 3.17 4:30pm
2. Northtown vigil   3.17 5pm
3. St Pat/BlackDog   3.17 6:30pm
4. Polly Mann play   3.17 7pm
5. Coleen Rowley     3.17 7pm
6. St Pat ceili      3.17 7pm
7. Cuba film         3.17 7:30pm

8. Anti Anti-Islam   3.18 12noon
9. Palestine vigil   3.18 4:15pm
10. Water story      3.18 7pm
11. US/Mexico/1846/f 3.18 7:30pm
12. Nonviolence      3.18-3.20

13. WAMM          - Action alert-call congress today
14. Conn Hallinan - Europe's austerity: a Grimm's fairy tale
15. John Feffer   - The Age of Activism
16. Stephen Soldz - Fight for a decent society or inherit a worse one
17. Ralph Nader   - Our right-leaning public media

--------1 of 17--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 3.17 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.


--------2 of 17--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.17 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com.


--------3 of 17--------

From: Richard Broderick <richb [at] lakecast.com>
Subject: St Pat/BlackDog 3.17 6:30pm

The second annual installment of "The Next Parish Over," a St. Patrick's
Day celebration featuring stories, poems, jokes, drama, music and food of
Ireland and the Irish diaspora. Performances by Mike Finley, Kathleen
Heaney, James Silas Rogers, and Rich Broderick and music by The Mighty
Fine Wake Band. 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m., March 17, 2011, the Black Dog Café,
308 Prince St., Saint Paul.

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged to support Art Buddies, a
nonprofit that pairs low-income kids with creative mentors
(www.artbuddies.org). On street parking is available and off-street
parking in the lot behind the Black Dog costs only $1 for the entire
evening. For more information, call 651-228-92


--------4 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Polly Mann play 3.17 7pm

Staged Reading: "Victoria Reincarnated"
Thursday, March 17, 7:00 p.m. Inver Hills Community College, Fine Arts
Building, 2500 East 80th Street, Inver Grove Heights.

Polly Mann cordially invites you to enjoy a staged reading of her original
drama "Victoria Reincarnated" featuring Sara Jane Olson as Victoria
Woodhull, Beth Anne Nelson as Victoria's sister, Tennesee and Susu Jeffrey
as Victoria's mother, Roxanna. Directed by Ed Felien. Victoria Woodhull
(1838-1929) was audacious. She ran for the office of U.S. President five
times before women in the U.S. had the right to vote. She believed women
were included in the terms "people" and "citizens: referenced in the 14th
and 15th Amendments! FFI: Call 612-871-2229 or email
luciaws [at] usiwireless.com.


--------5 of 17--------

From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Coleen Rowley 3.17 7pm

The coming 3rd Thursday forum is bound to be interesting. The speaker,
Coleen Rowley, is uniquely qualified to speak on the subject of internal
security issues.

THIRD THURSDAY GLOBAL ISSUES FORUM
Free and open to the public. Come and bring a friend.
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis
(at Lyndale and Hennepin). Park in church lot.
March 17, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

HOW TOP SECRET AMERICA MISFIRES

Since 9/11 America's security system has been radically expanded and
transformed. Our "surveillance-security complex" now includes more than
850,000 analysts, private contractors and other agents.  Proper legal
safeguards, including prohibitions against torture, have been eroded. The
Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act have permitted multiple
abuses of "presidential war powers." Perverse incentives for rewarding
security agents lead to over-zealous security behavior. Effective,
independent oversight of the system is lacking. This presentation will
explain and document these and other shortcomings of the present system
and propose relatively simple, common sense ways of correcting them.

Presenter: COLEEN ROWLEY. Ms. Rowley worked as an FBI agent for 24 years,
in 1990-2003 as the Bureau's Chief Division Counsel for Minneapolis. In
2002 she brought 9/11 lapses to light and testified to the Senate
Judiciary Committee about endemic problems facing the intelligence
community, then becoming one of three whistleblowers chosen as "persons of
the year" by Time magazine. Since retiring from the FBI in 2004 she has
given numerous talks on ethical decision- making and balancing civil
liberties with the need for effective investigation and has also authored
a chapter for a book, Patriotism, Democracy and Common Sense: Restoring
America's Promise at Home and Abroad.


--------6 of 17--------

From: MinnesotaFolk ArtsAlliance <minnesotafolkartsalliance [at] gmail.com>
Subject: St Pat ceili 3.17 7pm

20th Annual Irish Ceili Dance
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The dance starts at 7 p.m. - the doors open at 6:30.
CSPS Hall - St. Paul, MN
383 Michigan Avenue, St. Paul, MN
(near St. Clair Avenue just off of West 7th Street - Upstairs from the
Glockenspiel Restaurant)

Music:  Barra <http://www.barraband.com/> - Minnesota's Best Loved Ceili
Band
Dance Instruction:  Ann Wiberg
Tickets:
Adults are $10 at the Door.  Seniors, 62+ and children aged 6 to 15 are
$5.00.  Children under 5 are free.
 Advance Tickets <http://www.mnfolkartsevents.org/id27.html> are $9.50 for
adults and 4.75 for seniors 62+ and children 6 to 15.

The annual Irish dance for St. Patrick's Day is a great family event.
This is considered to be the largest Irish dance that takes place
throughout the year and it's at the CSPS Hall, a historic vaudeville hall
built around the turn of the century with a wonderful wood dance floor.
CSPS stands for Czeck-Slovakian Preservation Society and they've done a
wonderful job of taking care of this historic building. All the dances are
taught and beginners are welcome.  Beverages (soda, water, Summit beer)
and desserts will be available.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Folk Arts Alliance <http://www.mnfolkarts.org/>
 - with kind support from the Summit Brewing 
Company<http://www.summitbrewing.com/home.php>

 For more information:  651-357-0400


--------7 of 17--------

From: Rowley Clan <rowleyclan [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Cuba film 3.17 7:30pm

Cuban Movie Festival
St Anthony Main Theater, 115 Main Street SE, Minneapolis Free Parking
All films 7:30pm at St Anthony Main Theater:

March 17th Fallen Gods

This film was Cuba's official submission to Academy Award's Foreign
Language category in 2010. Los Dioses Rotos (Broken Gods), has become one
of the most talked-about movies since it was released across Cuba in
December 2009.. This passionate and beautiful film is a Cuban version of
the Greek tragedy as recreated in Carlos Felipe's play Requiem por Yarini.


--------8 of 17--------

From: WAMM <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: AntiAntiIslam 3.18 12noon

Rally Against Anti-Islam Hearing
Friday, March 18, Noon to 5:30 p.m. (Gather) Masjid Dawah, 478 University
Avenue West, St. Paul. (March) Through the streets. (Rally) Minnesota
State Capitol, 75 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, St. Paul.

Join with others to speak out against the anti- Muslim hearing that is
currently taking place in the U.S. Speakers include: imams officials,
community leaders and youth. Sponsored by: Minnesota Muslims. FFI: Call
651-224-6722, 763-354-0342 or 507-351-4652.


--------9 of 17--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Palestine vigil 3.18 4:15pm

The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the
intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo
starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs
available.


--------10 of 17--------

From: WAMM <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Water story 3.18 7pm

World Storytelling Day Celebration: Bridge Over Troubled
Waterboarding

March 18, 7:00 p.m. Larry's House, 315 Georgia North, (half mile west of
Highway 100, between 55 and 394), Golden Valley. There are storytelling
events going on all over the world with theme of water, on or around March
20. Bring a story or poem, or something to eat or drink, or just come.
Sponsored by: Veterans for Peace. FFI and to RSVP: Email
larryjvfp [at] gmail.com or call 612-747-3904.


--------11 of 17--------

From: WAMM <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: US/Mexico/1846/f 3.18 7:30pm

Film Screening: One Man's Hero
Friday, March 18, 7:30 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South,
Minneapolis.

During the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1846-1847, some U.S. soldiers, many
of whom were Irish immigrants, left the U.S. army and joined the Mexican
army. They were called St. Patrick's Battalion, or San Patricios, as the
Mexicans called them. After the U.S. defeat of Mexico, most of them were
hanged. Not surprisingly, this remarkable and courageous story is not in
history textbooks. But it is depicted in a film called "One Man's Hero,"
starring Tom Berenger. Come see the film and join in a brief discussion.
Presented by: Mayday Books. FFI: Call 612-810-6625 or email
joepfaucal [at] gmail.com.


--------12 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Nonviolence 3.18-3.20

Active Nonviolence Training
March 18 through 20 Faith Mennonite Church, 2720 East 22nd Street,
Minneapolis.

Intensive 3-day training in the principles and practice of active
nonviolence. An interactive weekend (non-lecture and non- reading) in
social change analysis, community-building and project planning to
strengthen our group for action. Certificates for participants. Trainers
from Creating a Culture of Peace (CCP) which moved its national
headquarters to Minnesota. Sponsored by: CCP. FFI and to Register: Visit
www.creatingacultureofpeace.org.


--------13 of 17--------

Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2011 12:25:07 -0500 (CDT)
From: WAMM <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Action alert-call congress today

*Action: Urge your Rep. to Vote Yes on Kucinich-Jones Afghanistan
withdrawal resolution

On Thursday, the House is expected to vote on a resolution introduced by
Dennis Kucinich and Walter Jones that would require the president to
withdraw all U.S. military troops from Afghanistan by the end of this
year. An amendment last month to the same effect narrowly missed getting a
majority of House Democrats. Friends Committee on National Legislation has
generously provided a toll free number that we may use: 1-800-530-1748.

When talking to your Rep's office, you can also ask them to co-sponsor
Rep. Lee's bill which would restrict military funds to being used for a
safe and orderly withdrawal.

Talking points.

When we invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the Afghanistan gross domestic
product was just a little over $2 billion dollars.  Since that time, US
taxpayers have furnished $100 billion a year to the war in Afghanistan.
That's fifty times their gross domestic product, making war the single
largest industry in Afghanistan!  Because of that, much of the US tax
dollars ends up in the hands of Taliban. The end result is that we have
funded an Afghanistan war industry that accomplishes nothing, produces
nothing and has created a prolonged civil war in a country that could not
afford to fund such extensive warfare before we intervened.

If we allow congress to extend the departure date from 2011 to 2014, we
will have spent more than $700 billion on Afghanistan directly. In order
to pay for all this, we have made cuts to housing, education, healthcare
and job programs while we now have a record 43 million Americans living in
poverty.  Not only have we failed to accomplish our goals in Afghanistan,
but we have undermined the infrastructure of our own society to do so.
Call today.  Tell them "No More!"  It doesn't work and we can't afford it.


--------14 of 17--------

Greece is Not Alone
Europe's Austerity: a Grimm's Fairy Tale
By CONN HALLINAN
March 17, 2011
CounterPunch

In the Greek town of Aphidal, people have stopped paying road fees. In
Athens, bus and metro riders are refusing to cough up the price of a
ticket. On Feb. 23, 250,000 Greek protesters jammed the streets outside
the nation's parliament.

The Portuguese nominated the protest song "A Luta E' Alegria" (The
Struggle is Joy) for the Eurovision song contest and, when judges ignored
it, walked out in protest. They also put 300,000 people into the streets
of the country's major cities on Mar. 12.

Liverpool bailed from a Conservative-Liberal scheme to supplement
government funding with private funding when it found there wasn't any of
either, and the British Toilet Association protested the closure of 1,000
public bathrooms across the country.

In ways big and small, Europeans from Greece to Portugal, from Britain to
Bavaria are registering their growing anger with the relentless assault
inflicted by government-imposed austerity programs.

Wages, working conditions and pensions that unions successfully fought for
over the past half century are threatened by the collapse of banking
systems caught up in a decade-long orgy of speculation that the average
European neither took part in, nor profited from. Even the so-called "well
off" workers of Bavaria, Germany's industrial juggernaut, have seen their
wages, adjusted for inflation, fall 4.5 percent over the past 10 years.

The narrative emanating from EU headquarters in Brussels is that high
wages, early retirement, generous benefits, and a "lack of competition"
has led to the current crisis that has several countries on the verge of
bankruptcy, including Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Now, claim the
"virtuous countries" - Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland - it is time
for these spendthrift wastrels to pay the piper or, as German Chancellor
Andrea Merkel says, "do their homework."

It is an interesting story, a sort of Grimm's fairly tale for the 21st
century, but it bears about as much resemblance to the cause of the crisis
as Cinderella's fairy godmother does to the International Monetary Fund
(IMF).

While each country has its own particular conditions, there is a common
thread that underlines the current crisis. Starting early in the decade,
banks and financial houses flooded real estate markets with money, fueling
a speculation explosion that inflated an enormous bubble. In climate and
culture, Spain and Ireland may be very different places, but housing
prices rocketed 500 percent in both countries.

The money was virtually free, with low interest rates on the bank side,
and cozy tax deals cut between speculators and politicians on the other.
That kept the cash within a small circle of investors. While Bavarian
workers were watching their pay fall, German banks were taking in record
profits and shoveling yet more capital into the real estate bubbles in
Ireland and Spain. The level of debt eventually approached the grotesque.
Ireland's bank debts, if translated into dollars, would be the equal of
$10 trillion.

The Wall Street implosion in 2008 sent shock waves around the world and
popped bubbles all over Europe. While nations on the periphery of the
European Union (EU) tanked first - Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Romania,
Hungry, and Greece, economies at the heart of the EU - Britain, Spain,
Italy, and Portugal were also shaken. According to the Financial Times
(FT), total claims by European banks on the Greek, Irish, Italian, Spanish
and Portuguese debts alone are $2.4 trillion.

The European Union's (EU) cure for the crisis is a formula with a long and
troubled history, and one that has sowed several decades of falling living
standards and frozen economies when it was applied to Latin America some
30 years ago. In simple terms, it is austerity, austerity and more
austerity until the bank debts are paid off.

There are similarities between the current European crisis and the 1981
Latin American debt crisis. "In both cases debts were issued in a currency
over which borrowing countries had no control," says the FT's John
Rathbone. For Latin America it was the dollar, for Europe the Euro.
Secondly, there was first a period of easy credit, followed by a worldwide
recession.

Bailouts were tied to the so-called "Washington Consensus" that demanded
privatization, massive cuts in social services, wage reductions, and
government austerity. The results were disastrous. As public health
programs were eviscerated, diseases like cholera reappeared. As education
budgets were slashed, illiteracy increased. And as public works projects
vanished, joblessness went up and wages went down.

"It took several years to realize that deflating wages and shrinking
economies were inconsistent with being able to fully pay off debts," notes
Rathbone. And yet the "virtuous" EU countries are applying almost exactly
the same formula to the current debt crisis in Europe.

For instance, the EU and the IMF agreed to bail out Ireland's banks for
$114 billion, but only if the Irish cut $4 billion over the next four
years, raised payroll taxes 41 percent, cut old age pensions, increased
the retirement age, slashed social spending, and privatized many public
services. When Ireland recently asked for a reduction in the onerous
interest rate for this bailout, the EU agreed to lower it 1 percent and
spread out the payments, but only on the condition of yet more austerity
measures and an increase in Ireland's corporate tax rate. The newly
elected Fine Gael/Labor government refused.

To pay back its own $152 billion bailout, however, the Greek government
took the deal. But the price is more austerity and an agreement to sell
off almost $70 billion in government properties, including some islands
and many of the Olympic games sites.

But the "deal" will hardly repay the debt. Unemployment in Greece is 15
percent, and as high as 35 percent among the young. Wages have fallen 20
percent, pensions have been cut, and rates for public services hiked.
Growth is expected to fall 3.4 percent this year, which means that
Greece's debt burden is projected to increase from 127 percent of GDP to
160 percent of GDP by 2013. "Your debt will continue to increase as long
as your growth rate is below the interest rate you are paying," economist
Peter Westaway told the New York Times.

Austerity measures in Portugal and Spain have also cut deeply into the
average person's income and made life measurably harder. In Spain, more
than one in five workers are unemployed, and consumer spending is sharply
off, dropping by a third this past holiday season. Portugal is actually in
worse shape. It has one of the slowest economic growth rates in Europe, a
dead-in-the-water export industry, and a youth unemployment rate of over
30 percent.

In Britain, the Conservative-Liberal government has cut almost $130
billion from the budget and lobbied for what it calls the "Big Society."
The latter is similar to George H.W. Bush's "thousand points of light" and
envisions a world in which private industry and volunteerism replaces
government-funded programs. The actual result has been the closure of
libraries, senior centers, public pools, youth programs, and public
toilets. The cutbacks have been most deeply felt in poorer areas of the
country - those that traditionally vote Labor, as cynics are wont to point
out - but they have also taken a bite out of the Conservative Party's
heartland, the Midlands.

Conservative voters have organized demonstrations to save libraries in
staid communities like Charlbury and to protest turning public woodlands
over to private developers. According to retired financial officer Barbara
Allison, there are 54 local voluntary organizations that run programs like
meals on wheels in Charlbury. "We're already devoting an awful lot of our
time to charity and volunteers," she told the FT. "Am I not doing enough?
Is [Conservative Prime Minister] David Cameron going to volunteer?" In any
case, as Labor Party leader Ed Milliband points out, how does Cameron
expect people "to volunteer at the local library when it is being shut
down?"

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner strongly endorsed the Cameron
program last month and said that he "did not see much risk" that the
cutbacks would impede growth. But even the IMF warns that the formula of
treating debt as the central problem in the middle of an economic
recession has drawbacks. This past October an IMF study concluded "the
idea that fiscal austerity stimulates economic activity in the short term
finds little support in the data."

But a massive program of privatization does mean enormous windfall profits
for private investors and the banks and financial institutions that
finance the purchase of everything from soccer fields to national parks.
Those profits, in turn, fuel political machines that use money and media
to dominate the narrative that greedy pensioners, lay-about teachers, and
free loaders are the problem. And austerity is the solution.

But increasingly people are not buying the message, and from Athens to
Wisconsin they are taking their reservations to the streets. The crowd in
Charlbury was a modest 200, and the tone polite. In Athens the
demonstration drew 250,000 and people chanted "Kleftes," or "thieves." But
the message in both places is much the same: we have had enough.

A bus driver in Athens told Australian journalist Kia Mistiles that his
wages had been cut from 1800 Euros ($2500) a month to 1200 Euros ($1660).
"There are more cuts coming into effect in the next three months, that's
why the protests are heating up. I am worried that my wages will be cut to
800 Euros ($1110) a month, and if that happens I don't know how I will
survive."

But he has a plan. "The situation is reaching a climax," he told Mistiles,
"because working people know that the austerity measures go too far, and
with the final rollout, they can't survive. So there is nothing to do but
protest," adding, "You wait until next summer. The situation in Greece
will explode."

It is unlikely that Greece will be alone.  [Bring it on. -ed]

Conn Hallinan can be reached at: ringoanne [at] sbcglobal.net


--------15 of 17--------

Foreign Policy In Focus The Age of Activism
by John Feffer
Published on Thursday, March 17, 2011
Copmmon Dreams

The world is convulsed in protest. In recent months, people have filled
the streets in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, and many parts of the
United States. Their targets are local: autocratic leaders, corrupt
politicians, and dismal economies. They're not performing acts of global
solidarity. Nor has there been an outbreak of some protest virus. These
demonstrations are responding to specific conditions. Tunisia isn't
Bahrain. Croatia isn't Burkina Faso. Madison, Wisconsin isn't Frankfort,
Kentucky.

Yet, I am an inveterate lumper - and only a half-hearted splitter - so I
feel compelled to connect the dots between these disparate events in an
attempt to delineate our era, to name our moment. In four magisterial
works, the historian Eric Hobsbawm divided 200 years of modern history
into the Age of Empire (1789-1848), the Age of Revolution (1848-1875), the
Age of Capital (1875-1914), and the Age of Extremes (1914-1991).  The
period after 1992 so far remains nameless.

Let me rashly and prematurely propose a name for our era: the Age of
Activism. Here's a preliminary sketch for a history of the age in which we
are currently immersed, as well as a diagnosis of where this activism is
heading.

In the early 1990s, the decay of Cold War structures that kept the Age of
Extremes in place gave rise to new possibilities for national
transformations in Eastern Europe, South Africa, and Latin America as well
as activism on a regional and global level. A Europe-wide movement came
together to support a united, peaceful, and Green continent. Activists
launched similar efforts in Asia, North Africa, and Latin America.
Meanwhile, the United States and its allies began to construct a "new
world order" based on the expansion of multilateral and bilateral military
alliances, the free flow of capital, and the management of the new global
economy by a trio of organizations (World Bank, International Monetary
Fund, World Trade Organization).

The fall of the Berlin Wall, in other words, was to lead to the fall of
all the smaller walls that prevented the free flow of goods, investments,
and armaments. But this free flow of trade threatened to increase both
global inequality and the divide between rich and poor within countries.
To fight this vision of world order, a new anti-globalization movement
emerged, breaking into the headlines at the World Trade Organization
meeting in the legendary Battle of Seattle of 1999. Throwing sand into the
gears of free trade and throwing into question the very foundations of
global governance, the movement seemed to gather irreversible momentum in
2001. The first World Social Forum brought activists of all stripes to
Porto Alegre, Brazil in January 2001. In April, protesters blocked the
Free Trade Area of the Americas at the third Summit of the Americas in
Quebec City. The preparations to gather in Barcelona in June scared the
World Bank into canceling its meeting. The next month, thousands descended
on Genoa to protest the G8 meeting.

Everything was building toward September 30, 2001. Activists were planning
a giant demonstration with 150,000 people protesting the IMF and World
Bank annual meetings. "The IMF and World Bank had rented miles of chain
link fence and were planning to fence off dozens of city blocks," recalls
John Cavanagh, my colleague at the Institute for Policy Studies. "It was
going to be the biggest global justice demonstration to date."

And then came 9/11. And suddenly talk of war eclipsed talk of economics.
Activists turned their attention to reining in U.S. foreign and military
policy. On February 13, 2003, the largest protests in world history took
place around the world in an attempt to forestall the U.S. invasion of
Iraq. The effort failed, but it was an important step in the development
of global civil society. Governments had failed to outlaw war in the
infamous Kellogg-Briand Treaty of 1928. Citizens now stepped in,
attempting to put this renunciation of aggressive war into practice.

After eight years of failed policies, the neoconservatives no longer run
the show. Responding to pressure from the peace movement, the Obama
administration has put a timetable on what had once been wars without end
in Afghanistan and Iraq (though the drone war continues unabated in
Pakistan and elsewhere). The effort to create large multilateral trade
agreements through the World Trade Organization has foundered (though
bilateral treaties have taken their place). It might then be said that
activists have scored victories, albeit qualified ones, in the first major
engagements of the Age of Activism.

One vector of activism has targeted global institutions (WTO) and
senseless bloodshed (the Iraq War). A second vector that included the
revolutions of the first decade of the 21st century - Rose (Georgia),
Orange (Ukraine), Cedar (Lebanon), Tulip (Kyrgyzstan), Green (Iran) - has
focused on national political elites. The current convulsions in the
Middle East and elsewhere on the globe are mostly found at the confluence
of these two vectors.

To explain this confluence, let's first look at three conventional
explanations for the current wave of discontent. According to one school
of thought, the protests can ultimately be traced back to economic crisis.
Rising food prices caused considerable discontent in Egypt. Limited
economic opportunities created enormous frustration in Tunisia. Austerity
measures in Greece brought out hundreds of thousands of protestors in a
24-hour strike on February 23. "With youth unemployment hitting 35
percent, young people in Greece see a bleak, jobless future," writes
Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) contributor Kia Mistilis in The Battle For
Greece. "Greeks say a mass exodus is looming, similar to the period
following World War II." Economic downturns were also partially
responsible for the rise of Solidarity in Poland in 1980 and the Tiananmen
Square protests in 1989 in China. Sociologists call this failure of
governments to deliver the promised goods a "legitimation crisis."

A second explanation focuses on impunity. Protesters are incensed at the
corruption of their ruling elites. In Croatia, where protests have nearly
paralyzed the country over the last two weeks, "protesters have focused on
the lavish lifestyles of many of Croatia's politicians," writes FPIF
contributor Sabrina Peri. in Days of Rage in Croatia. "The discovery last
week that former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader received a commission
of 3.5 million Croatian kuna in negotiations with the Austrian Hypo Bank
has served to consolidate the loose alliances amongst protesters created
via newspaper websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, talk on the
streets, and phone calls between family members." In China, meanwhile,
apartment owners are rising up against the management in their buildings
in an effort to create democracy on the ground floor. "This is the same
class that occupied Tahrir Square and pushed out Hosni Mubarak, the first
generation to have the Internet and the first to think about buying a
home, however small," writes Doug Saunders in The Globe and Mail.

Finally, a third theory attributes the spread of discontent to the
multiplier effect of new technologies. Photocopiers helped spread
dissident ideas in Eastern Europe in the 1980s. Faxes were a key part of
the Chinese democracy efforts in 1989. And now Twitter and Facebook serve
to connect the likeminded - those who want to ogle silly kitty pictures as
well as those who want to bring down governments.

But here's another way to look at the current wave of activism that goes
beyond economics, transparency, and technology. The fundamental issue is
the nature of the state.

In the Age of Activism, protesters aren't venting rage just at
authoritarian governments, like those of Egypt and Tunisia. They've gone
into the streets against democratic governments in Croatia and Greece and
Wisconsin. They protested the Islamic republic of Iran. They're
organizing, if only indirectly, against China's communist government. The
modern state has proven woefully ill-suited for dealing with the
challenges of the international economy, the worsening environment, or the
aspirations of rising classes. The state is letting us down. And we're
beginning to sense that a mere rotation of elites, through election or
selection, isn't good enough.

Neoliberalism - the creation of a borderless global economy - was one
response to the failure of the state to rise to these challenges. Another
response was neoconservatism - a last-gasp effort of the United States to
retain global power by force. The anti-globalization and anti-war
movements have tackled each in turn. The current wave of activism, on the
other hand, challenges the state as a vehicle for the enrichment of elites
at the expense of the common good - at the local, national, and global
levels.

The Age of Activism isn't, of course, all about progressives. There have
been tea party activists, radical Islamists, European racists, and ugly
populists of all hues. They also use the Internet, dislike economic
austerity, and rage against corrupt elites. In Pakistan, supporters of the
country's blasphemy laws have already claimed two victims, Governor Salman
Taseer and Christian politician Shahbaz Bhatti. "More troubling than the
murders is the soft support for - if not outright approval of - the law
among the Pakistani public," writes FPIF contributor M. Junaid
Levesque-Alam in How to Prevent Pakistani Anarchy. "Lawyers, once hailed
by Western media as heroes of Pakistani liberalism, raucously supported
the alleged murderer of Taseer."

We can imagine more democratic forms of governance at the global level.
Activists are championing sustainability at the local level through
community economics. But the real struggle in the Age of Activism is over
that middle term, the state. In our era, a laissez-faire state cannot
provide justice for the disenfranchised or tackle the major threats of
climate change and nuclear proliferation. And our welfare states struggle
to deal with the scarcity imposed by ecological and economic limits. We
must conjure a different kind of state, which intervenes just enough to
subordinate the military and the corporation on behalf of the common good.
It must adhere to the principle of subsidiarity by which it performs only
those tasks that can't be done effectively at a more local level. And it
must be thoroughly transparent to reduce corruption to minimal levels.
This is what activists are fighting for in Egypt, in Croatia, in the peace
movement, and  the anti-globalization movement.

We must fight hard in our Age of Activism to construct this new political
entity: the activist state. This is, literally, a do-or-die situation. If
we fail, we will slip, inexorably, into an Age of Apocalypse.

 2011 Foreign Policy in Focus
  John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the
Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of North
Korea, South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis (Seven Stories, 2003)
among other books.


--------16 of 17--------

Fight for a Decent Society or Inherit a Worse One
by Stephen Soldz
Published on Thursday, March 17, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The following was given as a speech given at the Defend the American Dream
Rally, Boston, Massachussetts, March 15, 2011:

I am delighted to be here today with you as we defend the American Dream
from those seeking to turn our society back a century or more. I am
President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, an organization
whose members are psychologists and other mental health professionals and
behavioral scientists who use their knowledge and expertise to further
peace and social justice. We treat those having emotional problems which
interfere with their functioning, promote peaceful strategies for conflict
resolution and the development of healthy communities, bring social
justice concerns to the teaching of psychology, and do research to improve
our efforts. The massive budget cuts will injure the interests of both
professionals like our members and the people we serve and teach. And the
research to improve those services will be cut.

Now these cuts demonstrate a particularly ugly side of our country and its
culture at this decisive time in our history. For they are overwhelmingly
aimed at the most needy among us: the poor needing help with food and
housing; the emotionally disturbed needing help coping better with their
feelings and coping with social pressures; students from poor and middle
class families who will face larger classrooms and unhappy teachers in
K-12 and higher tuition in college with less financial aid available.

While bankers and other business leaders have become obscenely rich by
stealing our homes, laying us off or sending our jobs overseas, robbing
many of us of our futures, and destroying our economy, others have been
working, at modest pay to help their fellow citizens. Many of these people
work in the public sector or have jobs which depend upon public sector
funding; our teachers and our social workers; our librarians and
psychologists; our doctors, nurses, and home health aides. For a decent
society is a society which takes care of those in need and in which those
who take care of others are valued, not devalued and demonized as has
happened all too often in recent months, by politicians and pundits from
the Republican Party, but, to be honest, not only from that party.

There is another factor that needs to be mentioned. Most of these helping
professions are overwhelmingly female. Over 80% of public school teachers
are women, as are over 90% of our nurses. We cannot separate the attack on
public sector workers and those whose work is funded by the public sector
from the vicious attack on women and their rights that we are seeing
across the country as efforts are made to ban abortion, to demonize those
who seek and provide abortions, to abolish family planning services, and
even to criminalize miscarriages.

If these cutbacks are implemented, our helping workers, largely women,
will be laid off or have their wages and benefits cut. Also cut will be
those, often men, who build and construct and whose efforts are vitally
needed to fix and improve our crumbling physical infrastructure.  A decent
society would not let either of these possibilities happen.

Also important to recognize is that these cuts are not needed. While there
is a long-term deficit problem, a decent society would dramatically expand
spending on needed services and infrastructure at this time of mass
unemployment and increased need. And after an economic recovery, when we
do need to deal with the deficit, a decent society would not cut services
but would take three needed steps. A decent society would dramatically
increase taxes on those ultra-rich who swept up virtually all of the vast
increases in wealth in our society over the last 40 years. A decent
society would dramatically reduce the obscene war budget that has us
spending more than all other countries combined on weapons and means of
destruction. And a decent society would confront the escalating health
costs, even if it meant taking on the pharmaceutical, insurance and
hospital industries that get wealthy far beyond their contribution to the
welfare of the majority of us.

As we go together into the future we should remember that either we will
fight together for a better, more decent, society or we, our children, and
even our grandchildren will inherit a far worse one.

 Stephen Soldz is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher,
and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He
edits the Psyche, Science, and Society blog. Soldz is a founder of the
Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the organizations working to
change American Psychological Association policy on participation in
abusive interrogations; he served as a psychological consultant on several
Gutanamo trials. Currently Soldz is President of Psychologists for Social
Responsibility [PsySR] and a Consultant to Physicians for Human Rights.


--------17 of 17--------

Our Right-Leaning Public Media
by Ralph Nader
Published on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The tumultuous managerial shakeup at National Public Radio headquarters
for trivial verbal miscues once again has highlighted the ludicrous
corporatist right-wing charge that public radio and public TV are replete
with left-leaning or leftist programming.

Ludicrous, that is, unless this criticism's yardstick is the propaganda
regularly exuded by the extreme right-wing Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
These "capitalists" use the public's airwaves free-of-charge to make big
money.

The truth is that the frightened executives at public TV and radio have
long been more hospitable to interviews with right of center or extreme
right-wing and corporatist talking heads than liberal or progressive
guests.

PBS's Charlie Rose [a self-righteous puppet I can't bear to waste my time
watching -ed] has had war-loving William Kristol on thirty one times,
Henry Kissinger fifty five times, Richard Perle ten times, the global
corporatist cheerleader, Tom Friedman seventy times. Compare that guest
list with Rose's interviews of widely published left of center guests -
Noam Chomsky two times, William Grieder two times, Jim Hightower two
times, Charlie Peters two times, Lewis Lapham three times, Bob Herbert six
times, Paul Krugman twenty one times, Victor Navasky one time, Mark Green
five times and Sy Hersh, once a frequent guest, has not been on since
January 2005.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the widely-quoted super-accurate drug industry critic,
who is often featured on the commercial TV network shows, has never been
on Rose's show. Nor has the long-time head of Citizens for Tax Justice and
widely respected progressive tax analyst, Robert McIntyre.

Far more corporate executives, not known for their leftist inclinations,
appear on Rose's show than do leaders of environmental, consumer, labor
and poverty organizations.

In case you are wondering, I've appeared four times, but not since August
2005, and not once on the hostile Terri Gross radio show.

The unabashed progressive Bill Moyer's Show is off the air and has not
been replaced. No one can charge PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer with
anything other than very straightforward news delivery, bland opinion
exchanges and a troubling inclination to avoid much reporting that upsets
the power structures in Congress, the White House, the Pentagon or Wall
Street. [All too accurate. -ed]

The longest running show on PBS was hard-line conservative William F.
Buckley's show - Firing Line - which came on the air in 1966 and ended in
1999.

Sponsorship by large corporations, such as Coca Cola and AT&T, have
abounded - a largesse not likely to be continued year after year for a
leftist media organization.

None of this deters the Far Right that presently got a majority in the
House of Representatives to defund the $422 million annual appropriation
to the umbrella entity - Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). About
15% of all revenues for all public broadcasting stations comes from this
Congressional contribution.

Though he admits to liking National Public Radio, conservative columnist
David Harsanyi, believes there is no "practical argument" left "in the
defense of federal funding...in an era of nearly unlimited choices..".

Really? Do commercial radio stations give you much news between the
Niagara of advertisements and music? Even the frenetic news, sports,
traffic and weather flashes, garnished by ads, are either redundant or
made up of soundbytes (apart from the merely 2 minutes of CBS radio news
every half-hour). If you want serious news, features and interviews on the
radio, you go to public radio or the few community and Pacifica radio
stations.

Harsanyi continues: "Something, though, seems awfully wrong with
continuing to force taxpayers who disagree with the mission - even if
their perceptions are false - to keep giving...

Public radio's popular Morning Edition and All Things Considered are the
most listened to radio shows after Rush Limbaugh's, and any taxpayer can
turn them off. Compare the relatively small public radio and TV budget
allocations with the tens of billions of dollars each year - not counting
the Wall Street bailout - in compelling taxpayers to subsidize, through
hundreds of programs, greedy, mismanaged, corrupt or polluting
corporations either directly in handouts, giveaways and guarantees or
indirectly in tax escapes, bloated contracts and grants. Can the taxpayer
turn them off?

Here is a solution that will avoid any need for Congressional
contributions to CPB. The people own the public airwaves. They are the
landlords. The commercial radio and TV stations are the tenants that pay
nothing for their 24 hour use of this public property. You pay more for
your auto license than the largest television station in New York pays the
Federal Communications Commission for its broadcasting license - which is
nothing. It has been that way since the 1927 and 1934 communication laws.

Why not charge these profitable businesses rent for use of the public
airwaves and direct some of the ample proceeds to nonprofit public radio
and public TV as well as an assortment of audience controlled TV and radio
channels that could broadcast what is going on in our country locally,
regionally, nationally and internationally? (See: Ralph Nader & Claire
Riley, Oh, Say Can You See: A Broadcast Network for the Audience, 5 J.L. &
POL. 1, [1988])

Now that would be a worthy program for public broadcasting. Get Limbaugh's
and Hannity's companies off welfare. Want to guess what their listeners
think about corporate welfare?

 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent
book - and first novel - is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most
recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.


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