Progressive Calendar 04.18.11
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2011 12:48:24 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.18.11

1. Peace walk        4.18 6pm RiverFalls WI
2. Freethought talk  4.18 6pm
3. GP 3CD meeting    4.18 7pm
4. Gary Snyder       4.18 7pm
5. Inside Job/$$$    4.18 7pm
6. Egypt/dinner      4.18 8pm
7. John Muir/TV      4.18 8pm

8. Energy/Mn         4.19 8am/3:30pm/6:30pm
9. Rally vs FBI      4.19 4:30pm
10. Undeserving rich 4.19 6:30pm
11. Plastic bags/TV  4.19 11pm

12. Chris Hedges  - Throw out the money changers
13. Brian Tierney - US Uncut - The new movement against austerity

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From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 4.18 6pm RiverFalls WI

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


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From: Minnesota Atheists <web [at] mnatheists.org>
Subject: Freethought talk 4.18 6pm

Monday April 18, 6:00pm  Freethought Toastmasters
Larpenteur Estates Party Room, 1276 Larpenteur Ave. W, St. Paul 55113
This group meets the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month.  Contact George
Kane, nup [at] Minn.net for more information.


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From: Allan Hancock <alforgreens [at] gmail.com>
Subject: GP 3CD meeting 4.18 7pm

3rd Congressional District Green Party Local Meeting
7 PM Monday April 18
Southdale Library in the Public Conference Rm,. 7001* *York Ave. S. Edina,
55435.
Agenda: Lobbying at the Capitol and MN Health Care Look forward to seeing
you there.

Any questions or need a ride please contact: Allan Hancock, Chair 3rd
Congressional District Green Party (763)-561-9758 or
3rdCDGreenParty [at] gmail.com


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

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com>
Subject: Gary Snyder 4.18 7pm

MONDAY, APRIL 18, 7:00 PM
ENVIRONMENTALIST-POET GARY SNYDER
Beautiful poem included with event
http://birchbarkbooks.com/events/gary-snyder

Gary Snyder Reading
Monday, April 18 @ 7pm, Free
Plymouth <http://www.plymouth.org/visiting/location.php>  Congregational
Church

Prize-winning poet and essayist Gary Snyder, who lives in the foothills of
the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, will read his poems at Plymouth
Congregational Church in Minneapolis (1900 Nicollet Avenue . Minneapolis
MN 55403) on Monday, April 18 at 7pm. Co-sponsored by The Loft Literary
Center and Plymouth's Literary Witnesses series, the event is free with
plenty of free parking. For more information, visit
www.plymouth.org/calendar/calendar.php or www.loft.org or call
612-871-7400.

Birchbark Books will have many of Gary Snyder's books available for
purchase at the reading, ready to be signed by the author.

Gary Snyder has won nearly all the major literary prizes in America,
including the Pulitzer and the Shelley Memorial Award. His Chinese and
Japanese inflected poems represent a new American voice, inspired by the
poetry and Buddhism of Asia and the ecology and peoples of native North
America, including native languages, stories and practices.  His eleven
poetry collections include Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems (1969), Turtle
Island (1974, Pulitzer Prize), Mountains and Rivers Without End (1996),
and Danger on Peaks (2005).  He has been called the "Poet Laureate of Deep
Ecology."  Snyder was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American
Poets in 2003.

In addition, he is a visionary essayist, from The Old Ways (1977) and the
influential Earth Household (1980), The Practice of the Wild (1990), to
The Etiquette of Freedom, a conversation (and film, DVD included) between
Snyder and novelist Jim Harrison released late last year. He has been
awarded the John Hay Award for Nature Writing.Finally, Snyder is a serious
scholar of Asian literature, anthropology, linguistics and ecology, a
translator of Chinese and Japanese poetry, and a life-long practitioner of
Zen Buddhism. He is a celebrated activist for bioregionalism and for a
Native American inspired practice of how to live lightly on the land. was
selected by the Utne Reader as one of 100 visionaries for his ecological
and social activism.

Christian Wiman, editor of Poetrymagazine, in awarding Snyder the Ruth
Lilly Poetry Prize in 2008, said, "Gary Snyder is in essence a
contemporary devotional poet, though he is not devoted to any one god or
way of being so much as to Being itself. His poetry is a testament to the
sacredness of the natural world and our relation to it, and a prophecy of
what we stand to lose if we forget that relation."

 FOR ALL

 Ah to be alive
 on a mid-September morn
 fording a stream
 barefoot, pants rolled up,
 holding boots, pack on,
 sunshine, ice in the shallows,
 northern rockies.

 Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
 stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
 cold nose dripping
 singing inside
 creek music, heart music,
 smell of sun on gravel.

 I pledge allegiance

 I pledge allegiance to the soil
 of Turtle Island,
 and to the beings who thereon dwell

 one ecosystem
 in diversity
 under the sun
 With joyful interpenetration for all.

(From AX HANDLES: Poems by Gary Snyder,C1983, North Point Press, used by
permission of the author)


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From: "Karen Redleaf" vegan14ever [at] riseup.net
Subject Inside Job/$$$ 4.18 7pm

monday, april 18th 7 pm at mayday bookstore

"Inside Job" is the documentary about the causes of the current financial
crisis that won the academy award this year. we'll be showing it at mayday
bookstore this coming monday, april 18th starting at 7 pm. join us! invite
anyone you think might be interested. May Day Books 301 Cedar Ave. S.

(basement of Hub Bicycle, door frwy side of  bldg), West Bank, Minneapolis
(612)333-4719 FREE!

solidarity,
karen redleaf, co-host of  Our World In Depth on MTN's channel 17 Mpls/SPPN 
channel 15
www.ourworldindepth.org

"Israel's self-image as a liberal Jewish and democratic state is
impossible to maintain against the reality of a militarized,
ultranationalist, sectarian Jewish settler colony that has to carry out
regular massacres of indigenous civilians in order to maintain its
control. Zionism simply cannot bomb, kidnap, assassinate, expel, demolish,
settle and lie its way to legitimacy and acceptance."  -Ali Abunimah, at
the Hampshire BDS conference


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From: Friends for a Non-Violent World <info [at] fnvw.org>
Subject: Egypt/dinner 4.18 8pm

Celebrate the Egyptian Revolution!
BelAhdan and Ahmed Tharwat invite you to:  Egypt Freedom Trail Dinner
Monday, April 18, 8-10:00 pm
Big Marina Restaurant 4755 Central Avenue NE, Mpls 55421

BelAhdan,
"A show with an accent for those without one," and host Ahmed Tharwat are
creating an on-the-ground documentary about the nonviolent movement in
Egypt which brought down Hosni Mubarak.

Please join BelAhdan and Friends at a fundraiser for the Egypt Freedom
Trail documentary.  Free roasted lamb dinner, music and a fun and
engaging program will make it an evening not to be missed!

More information at: www.belahdan.com
Please RSVP to ahmediatv [at] gmail.com

BelAhdan airs on Public TV Saturdays at 10:30 pm, on tpt MN, the MN
channel, on digital 202-17. Visit www.belahdan.com for details. Ahmed
Tharwat interviewed Ways of Peace II speakers last week.


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

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com>
Subject: John Muir/TV 4.18 8pm

* "John Muir in the New World", Monday, 4/18 at 8 pm
"John Muir in The New World"

Nearly a century after his death, John Muir is remembered and revered as the
father of the environmental movement, the father of conservation, and the
founder of the Sierra Club. It was this Scottish-American who believed it
was our responsibility as citizens to care for and protect our natural
surroundings. He taught us by example and passion -- through his actions,
his writings, his art -- how to do so. Through his tireless advocacy, he
almost single-handedly saved the Yosemite Valley of California from
destruction and was the force behind the creation of the National Parks
Service. Filmed throughout the majestic, breathtaking landscapes and
wilderness traveled by Muir those many years ago, this documentary places
our nation's most important asset in a cultural and social context. Muir's
story could not be a more timely reminder of America's unique and,
ultimately, threatened eco-system.

"John Muir in the New World" will be shown on TPT-2 .....
* Monday, 4/18, at 8 pm
* Tuesday, 4/19, at 2 am


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From: Lisa Ledwidge/IEER < ieer [at] ieer.org >
Subject: Energy/Mn 4.19 8am/3:30pm/6:30pm

3 events:

1. "100% Renewable Energy Based Electricity System for Minnesota"

Arjun is the featured speaker at the April "Green Ideas and Ham" breakfast
series hosted by Environment Minnesota. He will be leading a discussion on
a achieving a 100% clean renewable energy based electricity system in
Minnesota. Arjun will be sharing the initial findings from a forthcoming
report on a 100% Renewable Minnesota future. This is your opportunity to
join the discussion of how we get there together.

Please join us Tuesday April 19th for a special Earth Day "Green Ideas and
Ham"

8-9:30am at the Red Stag Supper Club (509 1st Avenue Northeast,
Minneapolis, MN 55413)

To RSVP and for more information about the event visit
http://www.environmentminnesota.org

2. "Fukushima: Implications for US nuclear policy"

You are invited to hear respected energy expert Dr. Arjun Makhijani
discuss the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors and its implications for
existing and future nuclear power policy in the US and in Minnesota. Come
participate in a dialogue on how the events in Japan will impact
regulations of existing nuclear reactors in the US and how it will affect
state and federal energy policy moving forward.

Please join us Tuesday April 19 th for a discussion on the future of
nuclear power policy (Note: the same topic will be discussed at both
venues)

3:30-5pm at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (2104
Stevens Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55404). Co-sponsored by the Center for
Earth, Energy and Democracy at at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy.

3. 6:30-8pm at the Red Wing Library (225 East Avenue, Red Wing, MN
55066)

Questions? Contact Christina Mills at (612)722-9700 or christina [at] ieer.org

Please feel free to forward this email onto others who may be interested.

Arjun Makhijani, President of IEER, holds a Ph.D. in engineering
(specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at
Berkeley. He has produced many studies and articles on nuclear fuel cycle
related issues, including weapons production, testing, and nuclear waste,
over the past twenty years. He is the principal author of the first study
ever done (completed in 1971) on energy conservation potential in the U.S.
economy. Most recently, Dr. Makhijani has authored Carbon-Free and
Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy (RDR Books and IEER Press,
2007), the first analysis of a transition to a U.S. economy based
completely on renewable energy, without any use of fossil fuels or nuclear
power. He is the principal editor of Nuclear Wastelands and the principal
author of Mending the Ozone Hole, both published by MIT Press.


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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Rally vs FBI 4.19 4:30pm

Rally: Say No to FBI Repression
Tuesday, April 19, 4:30 p.m. FBI Building, 111 Washington Avenue,
Minneapolis.

Join others outside the FBI building in downtown Minneapolis for a picket
and bannering to show your support for local activists under attack. Let's
remind the FBI that free speech is our right and that their scare tactics
won't stop our voices from being heard! Organized by: the Committee to
Stop FBI Repression. FFI: Visit mnstopfbi.wordpress.com


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

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Undeserving rich 4.19 6:30pm

This Tuesday, Tom Dooley will be the guest.  He will answer this
question and we can discuss it.

What moral or ethical entity advocates giving more money to those who
already have more than they need and more than they deserve?

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

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


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

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com>
Subject: Plastic bags/TV 4.19 11pm

"Bag It!"
Is your life too plastic? In this touching and often flat-out-funny film, we
follow "everyman" Jeb Berrier as he embarks on a global tour to unravel the
complexities of our plastic world.

See "Bag It" this week on TPT at these times.
Tuesday, 4/19 at 11 pm on TPT-2
Wednesday, 4/20 at 5 am on TPT-2
Monday, 4/25 at 12:00 am on TPT-2
Saturday, 4/30 at 11:30 pm on TPT Life

See more info about "Bag It!" at  <http://www.bagitmovie.com/>
http://www.bagitmovie.com/


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Throw Out the Money Changers
by Chris Hedges
Published on Monday, April 18, 2011 by TruthDig.com

These are remarks Chris Hedges made in Union Square in New York City last
Friday during a protest outside a branch office of the Bank of America.

We stand today before the gates of one of our temples of finance. It is a
temple where greed and profit are the highest good, where self-worth is
determined by the ability to amass wealth and power at the expense of
others, where laws are manipulated, rewritten and broken, where the
endless treadmill of consumption defines human progress, where fraud and
crimes are the tools of business.

The two most destructive forces of human nature - greed and envy - drive
the financiers, the bankers, the corporate mandarins and the leaders of
our two major political parties, all of whom profit from this system. They
place themselves at the center of creation. They disdain or ignore the
cries of those below them. They take from us our rights, our dignity and
thwart our capacity for resistance. They seek to make us prisoners in our
own land. They view human beings and the natural world as mere commodities
to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. Human suffering, wars, climate
change, poverty, it is all the price of business. Nothing is sacred. The
Lord of Profit is the Lord of Death.

The pharisees of high finance who can see us this morning from their
cubicles and corner officers mock virtue. Life for them is solely about
self-gain. The suffering of the poor is not their concern. The 6 million
families thrown out of their homes are not their concern. The tens of
millions of pensioners whose retirement savings were wiped out because of
the fraud and dishonesty of Wall Street are not their concern. The failure
to halt carbon emissions is not their concern. Justice is not their
concern. Truth is not their concern. A hungry child is not their concern.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky in "Crime and Punishment" understood the radical evil
behind the human yearning not to be ordinary but to be extraordinary, the
desire that allows men and women to serve systems of self-glorification
and naked greed. Raskolnikov in the novel believes - like those in this
temple - that humankind can be divided into two groups. The first is
composed of ordinary people. These ordinary people are meek and
submissive. They do little more than reproduce other human beings in their
own likeness, grow old and die. And Raskolnikov is dismissive of these
lesser forms of human life.

The second group, he believes, is extraordinary. These are, according to
Raskolnikov, the Napoleons of the world, those who flout law and custom,
those who shred conventions and traditions to create a finer, more
glorious future. Raskolnikov argues that, although we live in the world,
we can free ourselves from the consequences of living with others,
consequences that will not always be in our favor. The Raskolnikovs of the
world place unbridled and total faith in the human intellect. They disdain
the attributes of compassion, empathy, beauty, justice and truth. And this
demented vision of human existence leads Raskolnikov to murder a
pawnbroker and steal her money.

The priests in these corporate temples, in the name of profit, kill with
even more ruthlessness, finesse and cunning than Raskolnikov. Corporations
let 50,000 people die last year because they could not pay them for proper
medical care. They have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and
Afghanis, Palestinians and Pakistanis, and gleefully watched as the stock
price of weapons contractors quadrupled. They have turned cancer into an
epidemic in the coal fields of West Virginia where families breathe
polluted air, drink poisoned water and watch the Appalachian Mountains
blasted into a desolate wasteland while coal companies can make billions.
And after looting the U.S. treasury these corporations demand, in the name
of austerity, that we abolish food programs for children, heating
assistance and medical care for our elderly, and good public education.
They demand that we tolerate a permanent underclass that will leave one in
six workers without jobs, that condemns tens of millions of Americans to
poverty and tosses our mentally ill onto heating grates. Those without
power, those whom these corporations deem to be ordinary, are cast aside
like human refuse. It is what the god of the market demands.

When Dante enters the "city of woes" in the Inferno he hears the cries of
"those whose lives earned neither honor nor bad fame," those rejected by
Heaven and Hell, those who dedicated their lives solely to the pursuit of
happiness. These are all the "good" people, the ones who never made a
fuss, who filled their lives with vain and empty pursuits, harmless
perhaps, to amuse themselves, who never took a stand for anything, never
risked anything, who went along. They never looked hard at their lives,
never felt the need, never wanted to look.

Those who chase the glittering rainbows of the consumer society, who buy
into the perverted ideology of consumer culture, become, as Dante knew,
moral cowards. They are indoctrinated by our corporate systems of
information and remain passive as our legislative, executive and judicial
branches of government - tools of the corporate state - strip us of the
capacity to resist. Democrat or Republican. Liberal or conservative. It
makes no difference. Barack Obama serves corporate interests as
assiduously as did George W. Bush. And to place our faith in any party or
established institution as a mechanism for reform is to be entranced by
the celluloid shadows on the wall of Plato's cave.

We must defy the cant of consumer culture and recover the primacy in our
lives of mercy and justice. And this requires courage, not just physical
courage but the harder moral courage of listening to our conscience. If we
are to save our country, and our planet, we must turn from exalting the
self, to subsuming of the self for our neighbor. Self-sacrifice defies the
sickness of corporate ideology. Self-sacrifice mocks opportunities for
advancement, money and power. Self-sacrifice smashes the idols of greed
and envy. Self-sacrifice demands that we rise up against the abuse, injury
and injustice forced upon us by the mandarins of corporate power. There is
a profound truth in the biblical admonition "He who loves his life will
lose it".

Life is not only about us. We can never have justice until our neighbor
has justice. And we can never recover our freedom until we are willing to
sacrifice our comfort for open rebellion. The president has failed us. The
Congress has failed us. The courts have failed us. The press has failed
us. The universities have failed us. Our process of electoral democracy
has failed us. There are no structures or institutions left that have not
been contaminated or destroyed by corporations. And this means it is up to
us. Civil disobedience, which will entail hardship and suffering, which
will be long and difficult, which at its core means self-sacrifice, is the
only mechanism left.

The bankers and hedge fund managers, the corporate and governmental
elites, are the modern version of the misguided Israelites who prostrated
themselves before the golden calf. The sparkle of wealth glitters before
them, spurring them faster and faster on the treadmill towards
destruction. And they seek to make us worship at their altar. As long as
greed inspires us, greed keeps us complicit and silent. But once we defy
the religion of unfettered capitalism, once we demand that a society serve
the needs of citizens and the ecosystem that sustains life, rather than
the needs of the marketplace, once we learn to speak with a new humility
and live with a new simplicity, once we love our neighbor as ourself, we
break our chains and make hope visible.


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The New Movement Against Austerity
US Uncut
By BRIAN TIERNEY
April 18, 2011
CounterPunch

By Monday April 18th most Americans will have finished filing their taxes,
helping to boost government revenue at a time when the only thing most
politicians care to discuss is how to cut the deficit.

But a large pack of corporate citizens will probably not be worrying about
paying their dues; tax day, like any other day for them, will be strictly
devoted to growing their bloated profit margins.

Recent reporting that some of the largest U.S. corporations have paid
little to nothing in federal income taxes in the past few years hasn't
stopped the upside-down debate in Washington. The beltway budget battle
remains focused on one blunt question: how much of a beating should be
given to workers and the poor in order to bring down the deficit while
leaving the corporate bottom line unscathed?

Beyond Capitol Hill, however, the scope of corporate tax-dodging during a
period of devastating budget cuts has inspired the ire of thousands of
Americans and given birth to a new people-powered movement to hold big
business and their mouthpieces in Washington accountable for the cuts.
It's called US Uncut, a campaign that has produced hundreds of direct
actions targeting notorious tax cheats like Bank of America and Verizon
while agitating around other major offenders like General Electric and
Citigroup.

Thanks to tax breaks, creative accounting schemes, loopholes and off-shore
havens, these companies are raking in billions and getting away with
systematic tax-evading operations that would land ordinary people in jail.

Launched back in February, US Uncut has so far made Bank of America and
Verizon the primary targets of its actions. According to US Uncut, Bank of
America's 2009 pre-tax income was $4.4 billion. As the fifth largest
corporation in the world, Bank of America received $45 billion in bailout
funds in 2008 and 2009 but didn't pay a single dime in federal income
taxes in 2009. In the same year, Bank of America received up to $1.9
billion in tax refunds.

How did they get away with it? Bank of America has 115 foreign tax-havens
where it keeps its income in order to avoid taxes. And Bank of America is
not alone. Roughly 25 percent of the largest U.S. corporations don't pay
any federal income taxes.

US Uncut has adopted a model of organizing first used in the U.K. where an
organization called UK Uncut has been using hundreds of creatively-themed,
non-violent direct actions targeting companies that flout their duty to
pay taxes while budget crises are crippling social programs. The "flash
mob"-style actions are meant to both pressure companies and galvanize the
broader population through attention-grabbing and highly publicized direct
actions.

According to its website, "US Uncut is a grassroots movement taking direct
action against corporate tax cheats and unnecessary and unfair public
service cuts across the U.S. Washington's proposed budget for the coming
year sends a clear message: The wrath of budget cuts will fall upon the
shoulders of hard-working Americans. That's unacceptable."

The approach taken by US Uncut relies heavily on the use of social media
and a decentralized, do-it-yourself system for organizing protest actions
and posting them on its website.

George Taghi, a leading organizer with US Uncut in Washington DC,
explained that US Uncut wants to change the public discourse around the
budget and the deficit and engage the public with its approach to
activism.

"US Uncut's goal is to punctuate and change the narrative that says 'we
have a spending problem' to 'we have a revenue problem,'" Taghi says.

When asked why US Uncut is focused on tax-dodging companies rather than
the lawmakers who enable them, Taghi pointed to the corporations as the
real source of power in Washington:

"US Uncut has focused on bringing protests to companies' storefronts,
instead of lawmakers, because that is where the true powers lie. On the
whole, for companies to claim ignorance or deny responsibility for our
lopsided tax code - that legalizes off-shoring of profits and accounting
gimmicks - is a farce. These companies have lobbied Congress for such
privileges and donate to representatives to enact loopholes."

In addition to Bank of American, US Uncut is shining the spotlight on
other corporations like Verizon, which reported a pre-tax income of $24.2
billion last year and was rewarded with a $1.3 billion tax refund.
Citigroup has paid zero dollars in taxes in the last four years, according
to US Uncut. The company also was the largest recipient of government
bailout money, totaling a staggering $476 billion.

The issue of corporate tax-dodging has been pushed into the limelight in
recent months. Last month, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders compiled a list
of "the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders." The list included
companies such as those on the US Uncut target list, in addition to Exxon
Mobile, which made $19 billion in profits in 2009, paid no federal income
taxes and received a $156 million tax rebate, according to SEC filings.
While the official corporate tax rate is 35 percent, Goldman Sachs managed
to whittle its tax obligations down to 1.1 percent of its income in 2008.

In March, the New York Times published a front-page article describing how
General Electric, the second largest corporation in the world, paid
nothing in federal income taxes last year while it reported $14.2 billion
in profits. On top of that, GE claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

"Its extraordinary success," according to the Times article, "is based on
an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and
innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits
offshore."

Add to all of this GE's anti-worker policies - which include plant
closures that have eliminated a fifth of GE jobs in the U.S. since 2002
and the company's drive to cut the wages and benefits of its mostly
unionized workforce - and you have what President Obama lauds as a "model"
for American business.

On Wednesday that model was the target of a hoax executed by the same
activists of US Uncut, in partnership with the "Yes Men," an
anti-corporate group notorious for pulling pranks that parody corporate
propaganda. The two groups put out a fake GE press release that announced
GE's plans to return all of its $3.2 billion tax refund in response to
public outrage. The stunt brilliantly put GE into an awkward public
relations situation in which the company was forced to openly admit that
it in fact had no intention of paying anything back.

Given GE's relationship with the White House, the egregiousness of its
tax-dodging helps to contextualize the willingness of the Obama
administration to inflict such harsh cuts like the ones that went through
Congress last week to avert a government shutdown. Instead of being
sanctioned for its tax cheating, GE's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, was awarded a
top position in the Obama administration as chair of the president's
Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

So when it comes to spending and budget cuts, forget hope and change.
Compromise and capitulation is the catchphrase of this administration, and
this should surprise no one who knows the company that Obama keeps. In
fact, the president's "compromise" last week with Republican House Speaker
John Boehner cannot even be called that. Democrats and the White House
conceded even more in spending cuts than what Republicans themselves
originally proposed at the beginning of the year. And it was a
"compromise" that Obama applauded as the largest annual spending cut in
U.S. history.

On Wednesday Obama delivered a speech in which he seemed to be changing
course and finally turning back to the progressive ideals that inspired
millions during his campaign. His argument for progressive tax policies,
making the wealthy pay more and preserving critical programs like Medicare
and Social Security was a rhetorical departure from what we've seen from
his administration over the past several months of budget wrangling.

Following the speech, liberal commentators voiced their exuberance and
suggested that Obama's disillusioned base can again find some cause for
excitement. Others were not as impressed.

"[Obama] has given so many great speeches before, only to disappoint.
Unfortunately, he still adheres to the right's narrative that spending
cuts on domestic programs has to happen to the tune of nearly $1 trillion
over ten years," said Taghi from US Uncut.

The speech also left the door open to unspecified reforms to Social
Security and Medicare that will play into the hands of the right-wing tea
party-backed Republicans in Congress who want to privatize and destroy
those programs.

Last week Congress voted to chop $38 billion dollars from the budget with
cuts that will affect health programs, heating assistance to the poor,
education programs, the Environmental Protection Agency, and food safety.
Funding for essential women's health services provided by Planned
Parenthood just barely made it passed the GOP's ideological chopping
block, but Obama and the Democrats still traded away money for those
services for residents of the District of Columbia.

And while the let-them-eat-cake budget cutters are using the deficit to
justify these cuts at the federal level, they have also been on the attack
at the state level where budgets are being slashed and unions are under
assault.

The campaign against unions has helped breathe some life back into the
labor movement. But what started as an anti-union crusade in Wisconsin -
inspired and funded by the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers - has
spread to other states, and it's not just Republicans who are out to make
union workers scapegoats for the deficit. Democratic governors in
California, New York, and Illinois are using the deficit as an excuse to
force major concessions from public sector unions.

In response, unions and labor activists have been mobilizing and fighting
back. A national day of action last week on April 4th saw over a thousand
union rallies and other actions for labor across the country.

In the midst of this labor upsurge, US Uncut is another component of the
progressive fightback, and it's a campaign that goes directly to the
corporate tax-dodgers who are materially and ideologically feeding the
narrative about a deficit crisis that can only be solved through budget
cuts. A unified progressive fightback - including labor, environmentalist
and consumer rights groups - is needed in order to push back against
austerity and fight to rebuild the tattered social safety net that
Washington is poised to shred altogether.

The right yearns for capitalism unfettered, and to get there they are
relying on a structure in Washington that can only be described as
plutocracy. And neither party is willing to consider serious cuts to the
massive Pentagon budget. Unpopular wars abroad and unpopular tax cuts at
home for the wealthy are all evidently worth the resultant suffering
inflicted on millions here in the U.S. under the budget ax.

In Wisconsin and other states where workers have been fighting back, an
important example has been set. This class war no longer needs to be
asymmetrical. Working people can and must fight back, not just against the
budget cutters in Washington, but against their corporate paymasters whose
anti-worker and tax-dodging practices have helped set the stage for
ruthless austerity.

We simply cannot defeat the high-powered corporate lobbyists on their own
turf. If ever there was a time for progressives and the left to abandon
the tired and feeble strategies of lobbying, letter-writing, and
petition-signing, that time is now. We need to exert pressure where it
will be felt - on the streets and in the workplace through mass
mobilizations, strikes, and yes, militant direct actions.

US Uncut called for national days of action on "Tax Weekend," April 15th
to the 17th, and on Friday there were over 130 actions across the country
posted on its website through tax day.

It's time to go directly after the corporate powers using creative direct
action and other forms of protest to expose their dirty war against
workers and the poor.

Brian Tierney is a labor journalist in Washington, DC.


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