Progressive Calendar 04.14.12 /2
From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 02:22:45 -0700 (PDT)
*P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.14.12*

1. Bahrain           4.14 12noon
2. CUAPB           4.14 1:30pm
3. Northtown vigil  4.14 2pm
4. Randomness   4.14 3:30pm
5. Syria/CTV       4.14 9pm

6. Black atheists 4.15 9am
7. Stillwater vigil  4.15 1pm
8. AI                   4.15 3pm

9. Kevin Zeese - Cracks in the pillars of power
10. James Wright - A Blessing  (poem)

--------1 of 10--------

From:CPRMN-Announce [at] yahoogroups.com>
Subject: Bahrain 4.14 12noon

Witness Bahrain, a reportback by Flo Razowsky
Saturday, April 14, 2012
12:00pm until 2:00pm
@Cafe SouthSide
3405 Chicago Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55407

In February, I was part of a group invited by Bahraini activists to
witness, document and stand in solidarity with their revolution.
After 8 days in the country, I was arrested and deported by the Bahraini
regime for my activities.
As the revolution in Bahrain continues, join me to talk about these
experiences, how it relates to other issues and communities of which we are
a part.
Come early and get yourself snacks, food and/or drinks at the lovely Cafe
SouthSide. Mention this event and get 5% off your purchase.
--Flo


--------2 of 10--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com>
Subject: CUAPB 4.14 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue
South http://www.CUAPB.org <http://www.cuapb.org/>

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


--------3 of 10--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.14 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm


--------4 of 10--------

From: AWE
Randomness 4.14 3:30pm

Saturday, April 14, 3:30pm  TED Talks: Tim Harford on Trial, Error, and the
God Complex
Sumner Library, 611 Van White Memorial Boulevard, Minneapolis, MN

This month's topic: "Economics writer Tim Harford studies complex systems
-- and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built
through trial and error. In this sparkling talk, he asks us to embrace our
randomness and start making better mistakes."


--------5 of 10--------

Eric Angell eric-angell [at] riseup.net
Syria/CTV 4.14 9pm

MTN 17 viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on Minneapolis Television Network (MTN)
Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!
Households with basic cable may watch.
** Sat, 4/14, 9pm and Tues, 4/17, 8am
"The Price of Dignity in Syria"

==and, on-line:

1. The Price of Dignity in Syria
What are the Syrian dissidents about?  Meet Syrian-American Mazen Halabi
and Syrian rebel "Nadia", recently arrived from Syria. (end of March)
 online at: http://ourworldindepth.org/archives/486

2. Witness Bahrain
Twin Cities' and world activist K. Flo Razowsky on her February
human-rights monitoring trip to Bahrain, her photography, and her path, as
an American Jew, toward solidarity with Palestinians. (March, 2012)
 online at: http://ourworldindepth.org/archives/482


--------6 of 10--------
.
From; AWE
Black atheists 4.15 9am

Sunday, April 15, 9:00am-10:00am  “Atheists Talk” Radio
AM 950 KTNF in the Twin Cities or stream live at http://www.am950ktnf.com.
Guest:  Ayanna Watson speaks on “Black Atheists of America.”  Contact us
during the show with questions or comments at (952) 946-6205 or
radio [at] mnatheists.org.


--------7 of 10--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 4.15 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>
http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------8 of 10--------

From: Amnesty International Group 37
AI 4.15 3pm

Our next meeting will be on APRIL 15th, 3:00 to 5:00 PM.
Meeting Location - First Congregational Church in Minneapolis. The church is
located at 500 8th Ave SE _Minneapolis_ MN 55414-1910.

Speaker will be Mr. Iqbal Ahmed Detho.

Mr. Iqbal Ahmed Detho is currently National Manager (Child Rights) &
Regional Manager for the Society for Protection of Rights of Child (SPARC)
in Karachi, Pakistan, and was the volunteer Secretary General of Amnesty
International - Pakistan 2001-6.  He is passionate about human rights and
is committed to harmonizing national child rights related legislation with
international human rights standards.  His major area of interest is to
establish institutional linkages with Police and Prison departments in
Pakistan to incorporate Human Rights in the curriculum of their training
courses.  He has been working towards the prevention of forced marriages,
honor killing, and child and bonded labor and written various articles on
the subject.  He has conducted studies on the issue of tribal and
traditional justice in Pakistan.  He received a Master of Science in Human
Rights from the London School of Economics.  He is currently a Hubert. H
Humphrey Fellow (Human Rights), at Humphrey School of Public Affairs,
University of Minnesota, focusing on human rights, law, and criminal
justice.

In his talk, he will also share how AI groups worldwide and other Human
Rights Organizations can help protect rights, especially in Pakistan.


--------9 of 10--------

Cracks in the Pillars of Power
Top Financiers Expose Fissures Among the 1%
by Kevin Zeese
Dissident Voice/ April 13th, 2012

In recent weeks several big finance insiders have publicly exposed fault
lines in the U.S. financial system. Their inside views are telling us that
the corruption we see is real and, more importantly, those in the system
know it.

Financiers that break from the corruption of gluttonous greed can become
the conscience of a sector that seems to have no conscience. Let’s hope
their courage is contagious and others follow their lead.  We need a revolt
from inside big finance that will help radically transform finance from
greed to generosity, from gluttony to moderation and from selfishness to
community benevolence.

A thorough examination of the corruption of big finance came in a recent
shareholder letter from Robert Wilmers, the Chairman and CEO of M&T Bank.
He laments that “it is difficult, for one who has spent more than a
generation in the field, to recall a time when banking as a profession has
been publicly held in such persistently low esteem” noting that polls show
“only a quarter of the American public expressed confidence in the
integrity of bankers.”  He recognizes that this is something big finance
has brought on itself: “Since 2002, the six largest banks have been hit by
at least 207 separate fines, sanctions or legal awards totaling $47.8
billion. None of these banks had fewer than 22 infractions; in fact, one
had 39 across seven countries, on three different continents.

And, he highlights the salary disparity between bankers and other Americans
reminding us that this is a recent development.  Just a few generations ago
“the average compensation in the financial services industry was exactly
the same as the average income of a non-farm U.S. worker.”  But today:

At a time when the American economy is stuck in the doldrums and so many
are unemployed or under-employed, the average compensation for the chief
executives of four of the six largest banks in 2010 was $17.3 million –
more than 262 times that of the average American worker . . . it is hardly
surprising that the public would judge the banking industry harshly – and
view Wall Street’s executives and their intentions with skepticism.

How did the finance industry change into this corrupt mass?  Wilmers points
to the repeal of Glass-Steagall, a law “prudently erected in the wake of
the Depression, kept investment banks apart from traditional banks.”  When
banks were credible members of the community they “saw public service as
part of their obligation” and “played a clear, if limited, role in the
economy: to gather savings and to finance industry and commerce. Trading
and speculation were nowhere included.”

But, in the 1970s and 80s he describes banking moving away from investing
in things they knew as they began investing in areas where they “possessed
little knowledge.” This created high risks, so much so that a 1993 study
conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that had “banks truly
recognized all the losses inherent in their books in 1984, one major bank
would have been insolvent and seven others dangerously close.”

Rather than reducing risk, they sought quick profit by creating
“investments they did not understand – and, indeed it seems nobody really
understood. In the process, they contorted the overall American economy.”
 The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 married investment banks with
traditional banks.  Rather than sound investment Wall Street bet on
“increasingly opaque financial instruments, built on algorithms rather than
underwriting.” This sowed “the seeds of crisis and embodied a broader
change that, in important and unfortunate ways, continues today”

Wilmers describes a bigger, systemic problem, “not only bankers but their
regulators, not only investors but those paid to advise them, not only
private finance but its government-sponsored kin.” The result – “the
decimation of public trust in once-respected institutions and their
leaders.”  The economic collapse “was orchestrated by so many who should
have, instead, been sounding the alarm.”

Unfortunately, “the Wall Street banks continue to fight against regulation
that would limit their capacity to trade for their own accounts – while
enjoying the backing of deposit insurance – and thus seek to keep in place
a system which puts taxpayers at high risk. In 2011, the six largest banks
spent $31.5 million on lobbying activities. All told, the six firms
employed 234 registered lobbyists.”

Wilmers urges us “to distinguish between Wall Street banks who, in my view,
were central to the financial crisis and continue to distort our economy,
and Main Street banks who were often victims of the crisis.”  Many
activists do see the difference between Wall Street and community banks and
credit unions; and therefore, have engaged in the “move your money”
campaign.

A second example of divisions in the banking sector comes from the Federal
Reserve Board of Dallas which released a report from its chief researcher,
Harvey Rosenblum , “Why We Must End Too Big To Fail Now,” cites statistics
showing that the five largest U.S. banks hold 52% of all bank assets.  The
report points out that “American workers and taxpayers want a broad-based
recovery that restores confidence. . . The road back to prosperity will
require reform of the financial sector. In particular, a new roadmap must
find ways around the potential hazards posed by the financial institutions
that the government not all that long ago deemed ‘too big to fail.’” In an
introduction to the report, Dallas Fed President Richard W. Fisher calls
for “downsizing” these megabanks because the continuing cloud of ‘too big
to fail’ hanging over the economy is simply too costly.

Rosenblum, like Wilmers, sees that Americans have lost faith in capitalism
as a result of Wall Street’s greed: “Diverse groups ranging from the Occupy
Wall Street movement to the Tea Party argue that government-assisted
bailouts of reckless financial institutions are sociologically and
politically offensive. From an economic perspective, these bailouts are
certainly harmful to the efficient workings of the market.” He blames the
big banks for the lackluster “recovery” writing that the too-big-to-fail
banks “remain a hindrance to full economic recovery.”

In the report, Rosenblaum states that the financial crisis arose because of
“failures of the banking, regulatory and political systems.” But, he warns
“focusing on faceless institutions glosses over the fundamental fact that
human beings, with all their flaws, frailties and foibles, were behind the
tumultuous events that few saw coming and that quickly spiraled out of
control.”  As the regulatory and political systems failed, the rule of law
was not enforced, when this occurs “incentives often turn perverse, and
self-interest can turn malevolent. . . Greed led innovative legal minds to
push the boundaries of financial integrity. . .”

Rosenblaum sees the too big to fail financial banks, not community banks,
as the “primary reason” for the weak recovery: “Many of the biggest banks
have sputtered . . . in contrast, the nation’s smaller banks are in
somewhat better shape . . . most didn’t make big bets on mortgage-backed
securities, derivatives and other highly risky assets whose value
imploded.” He concludes: “an economy relatively free from financial
crises—won’t be reached until we have the fortitude to break up the giant
banks.”

The most highly publicized division among financiers was in mid-March when
Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith publicly resigned, with a pointed letter
 in the New York Times.  The letter described a “toxic and destructive
environment” in Goldman where the entire staff from senior partners to
associates, pursued nothing but ever-more sophisticated means of “ripping
their clients off.”  At the center of  Smith’s critique is the massive
derivatives market, where he was a central player.

What may have been most interesting about the public resignation letter was
so many commentators saying – ho hum, Goldman rips off its clients, big
surprise.  Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich broadened the discussion
describing the history of Goldman rip-offs going back to the 1920s and
broadening the rip-off mentality to all of Wall Street’s big banks, not
just Goldman. Reich describes this as a problem of “endemic abuse of power
and trust.”  This culture of corruption led to “the junk-bond and insider
trading scandals of the 1980s, the dot-com scams of the late 1990s and
early 2000s, the Wall-Street enablers of Enron and other corporate looters,
and the wild excesses that led to the crash of 2008.”

What do these emerging cracks mean to people in the United States who want
to see radical transformation of finance, democratization of the economy
and a participatory democracy where people have real power?  It means, we
are seeing the weakening of the pillars that hold the power structure in
place – a critical step to people having the power to demand change.

Steve Chrismer, an engineer working with Occupy, describes this in
engineering terms; how with the right frequency we can insert our fist,
even our arm between rocks:

Did you know that it is possible to insert yourself between rocks that are
vibrating at just the right frequency?  When looking for the optimum
vibration frequency I increased the frequency by single digits from 0 Hz.
 When resonance occurred the situation changed dramatically and as the
rocks became ‘fluid’ I was able to insert my hand and then my whole arm
into the rocks.  If you went slow enough the rocks flowed around you, not
noticing your presence, and did not resist: go too recklessly fast and the
rocks would resist.

This is where Occupy is as a movement: only 6 months old and we are already
noticing the weakness of solid walls. To weaken the pillars of power
requires that we study these cracks so that we can provide the needed
energy to open them non-violently and allow us all to pass through.

Occupy needs to drive wedges through these cracks.  Protests of executive
salaries, stopping foreclosures and evictions through Occupy Our Homes,
highlighting the failure to loan to small businesses and the hiding of
profits offshore to avoid paying taxes, pressuring banks for their
investments in private prisons, dirty fuel, for-profit health care and
other negative corporate interests need to escalate as we build pressure to
break up the Too Big to Fail Banks.  At the same time, we need to build a
new finance system which includes developing public banks at the state and
city level and building community banks and credit unions by moving our
money from the big banks.  Time banks that record volunteer time which is
traded for unpaid labor at the community level will avoid the banking
system altogether. Expanding the fissures by the combination of protest and
building the new economy will result in a finance system that serves the
public interest, not private gain.

No doubt many others inside big finance feel the same as those who have
spoken out. The courage of the few may embolden more to expose the corrupt
practices and unsafe risks that are being taken; and to speak about real
solutions to the financial crisis. Up until now, those who see the
corruption may have felt alone but now they know they are not, and they can
join with others seeking to stop the exploitation of people and the planet.

The more we speak about the fraud and corruption of Wall Street, the more
we will empower those in big finance who are questioning the current
paradigm. The more we protest at banks and financial institutions, exposing
the truth about unethical foreclosures, concentrated wealth and ties to
industries that harm people and the planet. the more reasons those inside
will have to change their behavior. Using creative conflict and nonviolent
tactics, we can draw more people to the movement for social and economic
justice and provide a safe place for them to speak the truth of much-needed
transformation.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace.


--------10 of 10--------.

[A classic modern poem - ed]

A Blessing
by James Wright

Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

--From Above the River
©Farrar, Straus, Giroux, and The University Press of New England


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