Progressive Calendar 01.26.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2008 06:28:32 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.26.08

1. Church/state      1.26 10am
2. Welfare rights    1.26 11am
3. NWN4P-Minnetonka  1.26 11am
4. Free classes      1.26 12noon
5. New Hope vigil    1.26 1pm
6. Northtown vigil   1.26 2pm
7. Resist RNC        1.26 2pm
8. UN Afghanistan    1.26 3pm
9. Tiny feet         1.26 3pm
10. Homeland decency 1.26 7pm
11. Cops & you/CTV   1.26 9pm

12. Web design       1.27 10am
13. Stillwater vigil 1.27 1pm
14. Liberia/play     1.27 2pm
15. Marty/health/AM  1.27 3pm
16. KFAI Indian      1.27 7pm

17. Kip Sullivan     - New single-payer group in the Legislature
18. Marjorie Cohn    - Senate Dems poised to fold to Cheney on FISA
19. Elliot Cohen     - The end of privacy
20. Russell Mokhiber - Fastest growing corporate crime in America
21. ed               - bumperstickers - 2 for the price of 1

---------1 of 21--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Church/state 1.26 10am

Saturday, January 26, 10:00 a.m.-Noon - Humanists of Minnesota Chapter
Meeting. We will watch a DVD lecture by Dr. John E. Finn, professor of
government at Wesleyan University, on " Church/State - Strict Separation
or Accommodation?" Nokomis Recreation Center, 2401 E. Minnehaha Pkwy,
Minneapolis, MN 55417. Afterwards, attendees go to a nearby restaurant for
lunch and conversation. For information contact Scott Lohman,
ScottL2605 [at]

--------2 of 21--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: Welfare rights 1.26 11am

Celebrate the Victories of the Welfare Rights Committee, Get Ready to Fight
for More in 2008!
SAT, 1/26th, 11am - 1pm, Walker Community United Methodist Church, 3104
16th Ave S, Mpls.

Starting on Feb 1st, over 7,000 families will receive $125 a month ($1500
a year) back in their welfare checks!  Come hear how the WRC won this
important victory and about their action plan for 2008 to fight for more
from the state legislature! Food and childcare provided.  For more
information call Angel at the WRC 612.822.8020.

--------3 of 21--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P-Minnetonka 1.26 11am

NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We
will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available.

--------4 of 21--------

From: excotc <excotc [at]>
Subject: Free classes 1.26 12noon

The Experimental College of the Twin Cities is happy to inform you that we
are offering our 4th straight semester of free and open classes on topics
ranging from capoeira to global warming, co-ops to knitting, the social
responsibility of African American music to community journalism to
discussions on anarchism.

Register for classes now at or attend an EXCO Infosession!
Most classes are up but some will be added in the weeks to come so don't
forget to check back!

With 35+ classes on a huge range of topics, EXCO has all sorts of classes
for all sorts of people, and has grown tremendously since we began with 6
classes a few seasons ago. Moreover, we are dedicated to creating an
inclusive space open to all sorts of knowledges, particularly those that
have been historically marginalized.

We see our work as creating an educational and community commons to learn
about what we each find fascinating or important, and as a way to come
together to think about and take action on the challenges we face in the
world. At EXCO everyone can teach or take classes and all classes are

Classes typically meet once a week on evenings or weekends, and will take
place all over the Twin Cities from Rondo Library in St. Paul to Arise
Bookstore in Minneapolis; no grades, no tests, just EXCO!

We are also proud to announce a new EXCO chapter based at the University
of Minnesota, and encourage people interested in organizing with EXCO to
join our organizing chapters in St. Paul or Minneapolis or to create a new
chapter in their own universities, neighborhood associations, housing
units, etc.

Lastly we would like to invite you to attend one of the two EXCO
Infosessions where you can meet teachers, ask questions, and register in

In Minneapolis: Saturday Jan 26th 12-2pm
Rm #303, Coffman Union
300 Washington Ave. S.E.

In St. Paul: Saturday Feb 2nd, 3-5pm
Macalester Campus Center 2nd Floor Atrium
1600 Grand Ave.

For more information or ways in which you can be involved please contact
us at excotc [at] or 651-696-8010. Thanks for your support and we
would be grateful for anything you can do to spread the word.

--------5 of 21--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: New Hope vigil 1.26 1pm

Saturday, 1-2PM - Weekly NWN4P vigil for peace in New Hope at the corner
of 42nd (Co. Rd. 9) and Winnetka Ave. N.  We usually park in the
Walgreen's lot or near McDonald's. You may use one of our signs or bring
your own. All welcome. Carole-763-546-5368.

--------6 of 21--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.26 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av.), every Saturday
2:00 -- 3:00 PM.

--------7 of 21--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Resist RNC 1.16 2pm

The Republican National Convention (RNC) is coming to our backyard in
Sept. Feeling angry?  Want to do something?

Come to
Resisting the RNC: Minnesota Town Hall Organizing Meeting
Saturday, January 26th, 2pm
Walker Community United Methodist Church
3104 16th Ave S

Please join us for a gathering of those who have already started
organizing to resist the RNC in 2008 and those looking for a place to
start. This will be a space for people to come together, share ideas,
energy and participate in the process.

- A discussion about the why the Republicans are coming, what it means for
our community, and why resistance is necessary.
- Followed by a listening session where those organizing for the RNC will
hear what you have to say about the upcoming protests.  Come and share
your concerns and views and have your voice be heard.
- Updates and presentations of the plans groups have for the convention.

After the program, please stay and mingle with each other, get to know
each other, and start to work together!
Childcare and snacks provided.

FYI: contact Kim: kimdefranco [at] or Andy: 612-719-4292 to reserve
an information table, present your "already underway" plans, and/or
volunteer to help with the event.

Co-hosted by:
Protest RNC 2008 -
The RNC Welcoming Committee -

--------8 of 21--------

From: United Nations Association of MN <info [at]>
Subject: UN Afghanistan 1.26 3pm

We are pleased to invite you to the Annual Meeting of the United Nations
Association of MN. If you want to really find out what is happening in
Afghanistan or you are looking to get involved in an organization with an
international viewpoint or are interested in the environment, human
rights, peace and justice, then come along to our annual meeting!

United Nations Association 2008 ANNUAL MEETING
Saturday, January 26, 2008 3:PM - 5:PM
at the Weisman Art Museum University of MN, East Bank Campus
 2:15 PM - Pre-meeting Weisman tour for those interested
 3:00 PM - Social Time: Hors d&rsquo;oeuvres and Drinks (inc. wine and beer)
 3:30 PM - Annual Meeting and Board Election
 4:00 PM - Program:
"Rebuilding Afghanistan" - Mark Kryzer speaker

Mark Kryzer is a co-founder of In-Sight Solutions Group of management
consultants in St. Paul, MN. He is a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer
who served at U.S. embassies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He just returned
from three + years in Kabul directing a project renovating its judicial

$25 per person ($10 for students)
Please RSVP by e-mail at info [at] or callling 952-240-9727

--------9 of 21--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Tiny feet 1.26 3pm

Sunny Day Earth Solutions is now staring winter workshops
1000 26th Ave. SE Minneapolis, MN 55414 612-455-1355 (fax:) 612-455-1356
info [at]

Saturday January 26th 3pm -Reduce your footprint
Taught by Ramy Selim,owner operator of Sunny Day
As well as an edjucated earth citizen
Find simple, inexpensive, solutions to reduce your footprint on the
Aprox 2 hours Free workshop

--------10 of 21--------

[Decency. I didn't know if I should allow myself to mention it, because I,
a grossly indecent person, know next to nothing about it. But then I
thought, what the hell, screw that noise, and if you don't like it you
know where you can put it. -ed]

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Homeland decency 1.26 7pm

SAT.JAN.26, 7:00 P.M. Celebrate the release of Susan and Frank Fuller's
new book: the satirical Department of Homeland Decency. Longtime Twin
Cities comic performer Susan Fuller will perform a routine based on the
book; cabaret music by Andy and Karen. Liquid refreshments will be served.
Magers and Quinn Booksellers.

Want some much-needed comic relief? Cone hear St. Paul authors FRANK
FULLER (former editor of PULSE News aper) and SUSAN FUULER, a TC actor,
present their parody DEPT.OF HOMELAND DECENCY MANUAL--updated in its new
edition! SUSAN FULLER presents a hilarious character, who's a
"representative" of this all-too-possible government agency, who is
hilariously horrifying! Highly recommended! Lyfia Howell, KFAI Rdio

Contact:David Unowsky 612/822-4611
davidu [at]

55408 612-822-4611

--------11 of 21-------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Cops & you/CTV 1.26 9pm

Most excellent Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am.  Households with basic cable may watch.

Sat, 1/26 9pm and Tues, 1/29 8am "Holding Police Accountable" Interview of
Communities United Against Police Brutality organizer Michelle Gross.
Hosted by Eric Angell. (a repeat)

--------12 of 21--------

From: erriiik [at]
Subject: Web design 1.27 10am

Open Circuit presents DRUPAL DAY
Sunday January 27th, 10am-5pm in the Learning Technologies Center
at the Science Museum of Minnesota

The Internet holds immense potential for activists and organizers, but
many organizations do not take advantage of this because of the perceived
difficulty and cost of setting up a website. During Drupal Day,
experienced web designers will share their knowledge and guide
participants through the process of setting up a website based on the
Drupal Content Management System. You will come out of Drupal Day with an
attractive, interactive website, a working knowledge of the Drupal CMS,
and one month's free web hosting with Sunday's Energy!

There will also be a discussion about the dynamics of working in open
source communities and open source politics, as well as time to talk with
web designers about Drupal websites they have created.

Cost: $10, lunch included
Register now at!

Sponsored by Open Circuit, a Twin Cities knowledge-sharing network working
to demystify computers and information technology. We foster the free
circulation of technical knowledge to help community organizations
increase their organizing capacity and improve the common good. For more
information, email admin [at]

--------13 of 21--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 1.27 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

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

--------14 of 21--------

From:   Peter Rachleff <rachleff [at]>
Subject: Liberia/play 1.27 2pm

Peter Rachleff
Professor of History, Macalester College

On Sunday afternoon, January 27, at 2:00 PM, the Minneapolis Urban League,
the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota, and Jewish Community Action,
with the support of many other community-based organizations, will
collaborate on an unusual, exciting, and historic project -- the staged
reading of the first act of a new play, "Tap the Leopard."  Written by Kia
Corthron, whose work has been performed on Minneapolis stages from the
Children's Theater Company to the Pillsbury House Theater, "Tap the
Leopard" explores the interwovenness of the histories of African Americans
and Liberians.  Following the reading will be a panel and audience
discussion will explore our shared future as well as our shared histories.

The Twin Cities metro area is home to the largest Liberian immigrant
community in the United States, 15,000 to 20,000 women, men, and children.
They have come here over the past two decades, seeking the peace and
stability that they could not find in their own war-torn country.  While
they have begun to make new homes here, as families and as a community,
their security has been undermined by threats from the U.S. federal
government to take away their Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which
would require them to return to Liberia, whether they felt it was safe to
do so or not.

Sunday, January 27, 2008; 2:00 -- 4:30 PM; Hosted by the Minneapolis Urban
League, 2100 Plymouth Avenue; free and open to the public; a staged
reading of Kia Corthron's "Tap the Leopard," followed by a panel and
audience discussion.

--------15 of 21--------

From: Don Pylkkanen <don [at]>
Subject: Marty/health/AM 1.27 3pm

Could you please send the following notice on your listserve to announce
this Sunday's Air America broadcast of the Minnesota Health Act, which
will be explained by two of its authors- Senator John Marty and
Representative Carol Laine. It would help spread the word on this
breakthrough legislation.

State legislation to create affordable health care for all Minnesotans
will be discussed by its legislative authors on Air America's Of the
People, AM 950, this Sunday afternoon, January 27, 3 PM.  The broadcast is
the second in a series on the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition's
campaign to solve the state's health care crisis of unaffordable coverage
and care.

Senator John Marty, Senate chief author of the legislation, called the
Minnesota Health Act (SF 2324, HF 2522), will be joined by Representative
Carol Laine who is one of the House co-authors.

They are among 57 legislators who have signed on to the Health Act so far
due to growing public demand for a state health plan that is universal,
affordable, comprehensive, allows choice of providers, doesn't deny care,
contains costs, and stays with you regardless of employment, health
status, or retirement.

The legislation is being led by the Minnesota Health Reform Caucus, which
will be explained by Senator Marty and Representative Laine in the context
of legislative initiatives coming from other commissions, task forces, and
bills to solve the crisis.

They will then layout the legislators' tour to bring the Minnesota Health
Act to communities in northern and southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities
February 7 through February 9.

Subsequent series broadcasts will continue on successive Sundays from
February 3 through February 24.  Next Sunday's broadcast will give the
medical community's perspective of the health care crisis and the
Minnesota Health Act to solve it.  Stay tuned and tell friends to listen

Host James Mayer will get in as much phone time with callers as possible.
Call 952-946-6205.

You can also stream the program, as long as you can put in a MN zip code,
by going to HYPERLINK "";

--------16 of 21--------

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at]>
Subject: KFAI Indian 1.27 7pm

KFAI¹s Indian uprising for January 27, 2008 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT #250

Dakota People, Minnesota History and "The Sesquicentennial: 150 Years of
Lies."  Also, guest perspectives about the following and related issues:

 Decolonization perspective: "tribal councils" are foreign structures
having been imposed upon Native Indigenous peoples by the U.S. government
(Indian Reorganization Act - 1934), thereby suppressing and supplanting
traditional forms of Indigenous governance.
 Fishing on one of the lakes in the ceded area of the 1805 Treaty.
 Ft. Snelling, a concentration camp where Dakota people were killed in the
winter of 1862-63. Two Dakota leaders, Wakan Ozanzan and Sakpeda, were
hanged there.
 Minneapolis Star Tribune not publishing op-ed pieces submitted by Dakota
writers who present a Dakota perspective.
 Public rally on the steps of the State Capitol, spring 2008.
 Putting Ramsey and Sibley on trial for Genocide and Crimes Against
 Sesquicentennial grant to the Mendota Dakota Community, yet, the
Commission has denied funding for other Dakota projects because they were
considered too "controversial."
 The DNR and both the Mendota Community and the Pipestone [tribal]
Communities not federally recognized, yet, they as Dakota People had
relatives killed in 1862 either in warfare, forced marches, mass execution
at Mankato, at the concentration camps at Mankato and Ft. Snelling, ethnic
cleansing, and the forced removal of the Dakota People from their
traditional homelands.
 Treaty of 1805, the first treaty with the U.S. vs. Dakota land

Guests are:
 Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa (Dakota), Associate Professor, Southwest Minnesota
State University
 James "Jim" K. Anderson (Dakota), Cultural Liaison, Mdewakantunwan Dakota
Community, Minnesota

Indian Uprising a one-hour Public & Cultural Affairs program is for and by
Native Indigenous People broadcast each Sunday at 7:00 p.m. CDT on KFAI
90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul.  Producer and host is volunteer
Chris Spotted Eagle. KFAI Fresh Air Radio is located at 1808 Riverside
Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454, 612-341-3144.

For internet listening, go to  and for live listening, click
Play under ON AIR NOW or for later listening via the archives, click
PROGRAMS & SCHEDULE > Indian Uprising > STREAM.  Programs are archived for
two weeks.

--------17 of 21--------

From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at]>
Subject: New single-payer group in the Legislature

An extraordinary thing has happened. A group of legislators committed to
real health care reform (single-payer, county-based purchasing,
deprivatization, bulk purchasing of prescription drugs) has come into
existence and is about to commence a tour of the state to announce their
existence and their platform. The group is called the Minnesota Health
Reform Caucus (MHRC). It was formed last July.

Over the last six months they have met roughly twice a month, usually on
Saturdays, to hammer out a list of bills they intend to support, and the
details of the tour of the state that will begin in early February. At
this morning's meeting of the MHRC, Joel Clemmer and Santwana Dasgupta
agreed to release the details of the state tour to this listserve. In this
email, I'll tell you a little bit about who the MHRC is.

The founders are all freshmen House members from swing districts. They
are, in other words, gutsy people. They are Reps. David Bly
(DFL-Northfield), Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights), and Shelley Madore
(DFL-Apple Valley). David and Carolyn are the co-chairs. By September
Senator John Marty and/or his committee assistant Laura Blubaugh were
coming regularly to MHRC meetings, and at that point the caucus felt
comfortable inviting other senators to their Saturday meetings. Rep. Ken
Tschumper (DFL-La Crescent) hasn't been able to attend any of the
meetings, in part because he's so far away and in part because he's been
very busy with the single-payer working group of the Health Care Access
Commission and the flood in SE MN, but he has consulted regularly with
David, Carolyn and Shelley and I believe he intends to participate in one
or two of the press conferences in the southern leg of the upcoming tour.
I'll list other legislators who have participated in some way in a later

The MHRC doesn't yet have a mission statement or something comparable that
legislators can sign to indicate they are MHRC members, so it's not
possible to say exactly how many legislators consider themselves members
or supporters of the caucus. But they definitely are having an influence
in both chambers already.

What's amazing about the MHRC is how hard they have worked. We spent much
of late August and September just studying all the issues you hear about
in today's health care reform debate - single-payer, deprivatization,
county-based purchasing, managed care, HSAs, report cards, disease
management, "medical homes," the works. David has started a Web site
( Shelley has written well-researched letters to
DHS to question the process by which disabled people eligible for Medical
Assistance are being shipped off to HMOs. Caroline and Ken are among the
few Minnesota legislators in Minnesota who have actually read the draft of
the Transformation Task Force Report in its entirety and can speak
confidently about it.

It is extremely unusual to see a group of legislators meet regularly on an
issue outside of the standing committee structure of the two houses
(Senate and House). Most legislators are assigned to three or four
committees and attending to the work of those committees is about all they
can handle. For a half-dozen legislators to put as much time into a
separate committee, in this case the MHRC, as the MHRC ringleaders have is
very very unusual. I am pretty sure no similar caucus like this has
existed in Minnesota in modern history.

To give you some idea of how unusual this caucus is, I'll end with a brief
story. I was in a meeting ten days ago with a guy who used to cover the
Capitol for the Star Tribune for a long time. When I told him about the
MHRC (that they met regularly, that they had an agenda and a Web site, and
were planning a tour of the state), he shook his head and said that was
highly unusual. He said he had little doubt the media would want to do
stories on these people.

I urge you to support MHRC leaders and members in any way you can in the
coming years, be it contributions to their re-election, attendance at any
of the press conferences coming up (the St Paul press conference is now
set for 11:15 on February 11, State Office Building, Room 181), and
letters to your own DFL legislators urging them to work with the MHRC.

--------18 of 21--------

Will Fear-Mongering Work, Again?
Senate Democrats Poised to Fold to Cheney on FISA
January 25, 2008

After a January 24 debate in the Senate on amending the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Senate appears ready to capitulate once
again to the Bush administration's agenda of sacrificing liberty for
questionable security.

On the day before Congress was slated to take up this issue, Dick Cheney
addressed the Heritage Foundation, the most influential right-wing think
tank. He was given a thunderous reception, to which he quipped, "I hold an
office that has only one constitutional duty - presiding over the Senate
and casting tie-breaking votes." But the most powerful vice president in
this nation's history was about to strong-arm Congress into doing the
administrations' bidding.

Invoking the memory of September 11, 2001 twelve times, Cheney said it was
"urgent" that Congress update the FISA law immediately and permanently.
Notwithstanding the administration's well-known violations of FISA months
before 9/11, Cheney claimed they had used "every legitimate tool at our
command to protect the American people against another attack." He omitted
the illegal tools the administration has admitted using, that is, Bush's
so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program" and a massive data mining
program. FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison,
for the executive to conduct a wiretap without statutory authorization.
The TSP has been used to target not just the terrorists, but also critics
of administration policies, particularly the war in Iraq.

Although Cheney repeatedly linked amending FISA with protecting America,
there is no evidence Bush's secret spying program has made us any safer.
Indeed, in 2006, the Washington Post reported that nearly all of the
thousands of Americans' calls that had been intercepted revealed nothing
pertinent to terrorism. About the same time, the New York Times quoted a
former senior federal prosecutor, who described tips from intelligence
officials involved in the surveillance. "The information was so thin and
the connections were so remote, that they never led to anything, and I
never heard any follow-up," he said.

In his speech to the Heritage Foundation, Cheney aimed to bully Congress
into making the so-called "Protect America Act of 2007" permanent. On the
eve of Congress's Labor Day recess last year, the Bush administration had
rammed that act through a Congress still fearful of appearing soft on
terror. It was a 6-month fix to the 1978 FISA, which didn't anticipate
that foreign intelligence communications would one day run through
Internet providers in the United States. But the temporary law, which
expires February 1, went further than simply fixing that glitch in FISA;
it granted immunity to telecommunications companies that turned over our
telephone and Internet communications to the government.

Permanent immunity, retroactive to 9/11, for the telecommunications
companies is the apparently most critical concern of the Bush
administration, whose primary constituency has been the mega-corporations.
Although Cheney touted these companies as patriotic partners in the
administration's "war on terror," they are breaking several U.S. laws,
including FISA itself, Title III, the Communications Act, and the Stored
Communications Act, as well as the First and Fourth Amendments to the
Constitution. Indeed, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it, "the
real heroes are the companies that refused to help [the administration],
like Verizon Wireless" and Quest Communications.

Cheney quoted Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who described the need for
these companies to defend against litigation as "an enormous burden." What
he really meant is that defending the roughly 40 pending lawsuits is
cutting into their enormous profits.

The House of Representatives passed a bill without immunity for the
telecoms. But in a 60-36 vote, the Senate rejected a proposal from the
Senate Judiciary Committee that omitted immunity and contained important
limits on wiretapping powers. Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey
Graham, and Democratic senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were not
present for the vote.

Senator Christopher Dodd has indicated his intent to filibuster, or
prevent a Senate vote, on a version of the bill that includes immunity.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apparently now supports the filibuster.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on whether to proceed to a final Senate
vote on this issue on January 28. Three of the Democrats who voted against
the SJC proposal must be persuaded to change their votes, and Clinton and
Obama must follow suit in order to maintain the filibuster and prevent the
Senate from adopting a bill that includes immunity and omits vital civil
liberties safeguards.

Here are the Democrats who voted against the SJC proposal:

Bayh (202) 224-5623
Carper (202) 224-2441
Inouye (202) 224-3934
Johnson (202) 224-5842
Landrieu (202)224-5824
McCaskill (202) 224-6154
Mikulski (202) 224-4654
Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274
Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551
Pryor (202) 224-2353
Salazar (202) 224-5852

John Edwards, the only Democratic presidential candidate willing to
effectively take on the corporations, should weigh in against immunity for
the telecoms and challenge his competitors to do the same. This is a
golden opportunity for Clinton and Obama to exercise leadership on a
crucial issue. Our civil liberties and privacy rights are at stake.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and
president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Cowboy
Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law

--------19 of 21--------

The End of Privacy
by Elliot Cohen
Published on Friday, January 25, 2008 by

Amid the controversy brewing in the Senate over Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) reform, the Bush administration appears to have
changed its strategy and is devising a bold new plan that would strip away
FISA protections in favor of a system of wholesale government monitoring
of every American's Internet activities. Now the national director of
intelligence is predicting a disastrous cyber-terrorist attack on the U.S.
if this scheme isn't instituted.

It is no secret that the Bush administration has already been spying on
the e-mail, voice-over-IP, and other Internet exchanges between American
citizens since as early as and possibly earlier than Sept. 11, 2001. The
National Security Agency has set up shop in the hubs of major telecom
corporations, notably AT&T, installing equipment that makes copies of the
contents of all Internet traffic, routing it to a government database and
then using natural language parsing technology to sift through and analyze
the data using undisclosed search criteria. It has done this without
judicial oversight and obviously without the consent of the millions of
Americans under surveillance. Given any rational interpretation of the
Fourth Amendment, its mass spying operation is illegal and

But now the administration wants to make these illegal activities legal.
And why is that? According to National Director of Intelligence Mike
McConnell, who is now drafting the proposal, an attack on a single U.S.
bank by the 9/11 terrorists would have had a far more serious impact on
the U.S. economy than the destruction of the Twin Towers. "My prediction
is that we're going to screw around with this until something horrendous
happens," said McConnell. So the way to prevent this from happening, he
claims, is to give the government the power to spy at will on the content
of all e-mails, file transfers and Web searches.

McConnell's prediction of something .horrendous. happening unless we grant
government this authority has a tone similar to that of the fear-mongering
call to arms against terrorism that President Bush sounded before taking
us to war in Iraq. Now, Americans are about to be asked to surrender their
Fourth Amendment rights because of a vague and unsupported prediction of
the dangers and costs of cyber-terrorism.

The analogy with the campaign to frighten us into war with Iraq gets even
stronger when it becomes evident that along with the establishing of
American forces in Iraq, the cyber-security McConnell is calling for was,
all along, part of the strategic plan, devised by Dick Cheney and several
other present and former high-level Bush administration officials, to
establish America as the world's supreme superpower. This plan, known as
the Project for the New American Century, unequivocally recognized "an
imperative" for government to not only secure the Internet against
cyber-attacks but also to control and use it offensively against its
adversaries. The Project for the New American Century also maintained that
"the process of transformation" it envisioned (which included the
militarization and control of the Internet) was "likely to be a long one,
absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor".
All that appears to be lacking to make the analogy complete is the
"horrendous" cyber-attack-the chilling analog of the 9/11 attacks-that
McConnell now predicts.

Apparently, the Bush administration had hoped to continue its mass
surveillance program in secret, but as many as 40 civil suits were filed
against AT&T and other telecoms, threatening to blow the government's
illegal spying activities wide open. Unable to have these cases dismissed
in appellate court by once again playing the national-security card, the
administration drafted and tried to push through Congress a version of the
FISA Amendments Act of 2007 that gave retroactive immunity to telecom
corporations for their assistance in helping the government spy en mass on
Americans without a court warrant. The administration's plan was to use
Congress' passage of this provision of immunity to nullify any cause of
civil action against the telecoms, thereby pre-empting the exposure of the
administration's own illegal activities.

Two versions of the FISA bill emerged, one from the Senate Intelligence
Committee drafted largely by Cheney himself, which contained the immunity
provision, and another from the Senate Judiciary Committee that did not
contain the provision. Although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid
inauspiciously chose the former to bring to the Senate floor, the bill was
surrounded by much controversy. There had been well organized grass-roots
pressure to stop it from passing, and the House had already passed a
version that did not include the retroactive immunity provision. Thus, in
the face of a filibuster threat by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Reid
postponed the discussion until the January 2008 session.

Now Reid has tried to put off the FISA Amendments Act once again by asking
Republicans to extend, for one more month, the Protect America Act of
2007, an interim FISA reform act that is due to sunset in February.
However, Cheney has urged Congress to pass his version of the FISA
Amendments Act now. "We can always revisit a law that's on the books.
That's part of the job of the elected branches of government," Cheney
said. "But there is no sound reason to pass critical legislation - and
slap an expiration date on it".

Cheney's point about the possibility of later revisiting the FISA
Amendments Act after it becomes law may foreshadow replacing it in the
coming months with a law based on McConnell's plan, which is due to emerge
in February. This would mark a gradual descent into divesting Americans
entirely of their Fourth Amendment right to privacy - first by blocking
their ability to sue the telecoms for violating their privacy and then by
giving the government the same legal protection. After all, the FISA
Amendments Act still requires the government to get warrants for spying on
American citizens even if it does not afford adequate judicial oversight
in enforcing this mandate. McConnell's proposal, on the other hand, would
make no bones about spying on Americans without warrants, thereby
contradicting any meaningful FISA reform.

President Bush has already made clear he would veto any FISA bill that did
not give retroactive immunity to the telecoms. However, if McConnell's
soon to be unveiled spy-at-will plan is turned into law, a separate law
giving retroactive immunity to the telecoms would be unnecessary. All Bush
and Cheney would need to do to protect themselves from criminal liability
would be to make the new spy-at-will law retroactive in effect from the
inception of the illegal NSA surveillance program. This would also be
sufficient to deflate the civil suits filed against the telecoms because
the past illegal spying activities that these companies conducted on
behalf of the government would then become "legal". Indeed, the Bush
administration has already done this sort of legal retro-dating and
nullifying of civil rights and gotten it through Congress. For example,
the Military Commissions Act of 2006 conveniently gave Bush the power to
decide whether someone - including himself - is guilty of torture,
irrespective of the Geneva Conventions, and it made this authority
retroactive to Nov. 26, 1997.

Whatever the final disposition of FISA in the coming weeks or months, the
administration is now bracing to take a much more aggressive posture that
would seek abridgement of civil liberties in its usual fashion: by
fear-mongering and warnings that our homeland will be attacked by
terrorists (this time of the menacing hacker variety) unless we the people
surrender our Fourth Amendment right to privacy and give government the
authority to inspect even our most personal and intimate messages.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the resolve of the Bush
administration. But it would be a bigger mistake for Americans not to
stand united against this familiar pattern of government scare tactics and
manipulation. There are grave dangers to the survival of democracy posed
by allowing any present or future government unfettered access to all of
our private electronic communications. These dangers must be carefully
weighed against the dubious and unproven benefits that granting such an
awesome power to government might have on fending off cyber-attacks.

Elliot D. Cohen, PhD, is a media ethicist and critic. His most recent book
is "The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-Hungry Government
Are Turning America Into a Dictatorship". He is a first-prize winner of
the 2007 Project Censored Award.

Copyright  2007 Truthdig, L.L.C.

--------20 of 21--------

Published on Friday, January 25, 2008 by
Fastest Growing Corporate Crime in America
by Russell Mokhiber

What's the fastest growing corporate crime in America?

Corruption? No.

Pollution? No.

Market manipulation? No.

Securities fraud? No.

Give up?

It's hidden fees.

It's how the giant credit card, cell phone, cable, and banking
corporations nickle and dime you to death.

And there are literally scores of hidden fees with more being proliferated
every day.

Bounce a check? That will be a $39 bounced check fee.

One day late on your credit card payment? That will be a $39 late payment
fee - and we'll hike your interest rate from the introductory 0.00 percent
to 15.99 percent.

Towel fee.

Towel fee?

Yeah, you get one of those deals from Priceline on a swank hotel.

And you show up at the hotel and get hit with a $30 a day resort fee -
including a towel fee.

In case you go to the pool and use the towels. Or even if you don't. Pay
the fee.

Here's one of my favorites - the ATM denial fee.

You go to your ATM machine and ask for $400 in cash.

You get back a note from the ATM machine saying - sorry, but your daily
limit is $300.

So, you ask for $300.

The machine spits out the $300, you grab your card and walk away.

Next month, you get your statement.

And there it is - $1.50. ATM denial fee.

Bob Sullivan has written one of the best consumer books of recent decades
- Gotcha Capitalism: How Hidden Fees Rip You Off Every Day - and What You
Can Do About It (Ballantine Books, 2008)

Call him the Upton Sinclair of the modern corporate jungle.

It has yet to be reviewed by the mainstream press, but on the weight of a
couple of interviews on National Public Radio, it has already broken into
the New York Times Paperback Advice Top Ten.

And that's not an easy list to break into. Five of the top ten books on
that list are diet books - with the top two being Skinny Bitch and Skinny
Bitch in the Kitch.

If there were a top ten corporate crime books of all time list, Gotcha
Capitalism would be on it.

In an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter earlier this week, Sullivan
said he knew something was up with the book because every time he's
interviewed about it, he gets a few minutes into his pitch and the
interviewer interrupts with a horror story.

And in fact, that's how Sullivan compiled the stories for his book. A
couple of years ago, he was in New Orleans covering Hurricane Katrina for

And he started a blog called the Red Tape Chronicles about the problems
facing victims of the Hurricane.

But pretty soon, people were contacting him from all over the country
about consumer problems of their own.

And soon, it became pretty clear that corporate rip-offs were a huge

Since starting the column two years ago, he has received 50,000 e-mails
message from consumers around the country.

It became clear that the biggest culprits were credit card companies,
banks, cell phone companies and cable companies.

Sullivan conducted a survey of consumers nationwide, asking them to
identify hidden fees in their most common purchases. And he estimates that
the average consumer gets hit with $1000 a year in hidden fees. That comes
out to $45 billion a year.

But that's clearly an underestimate. Consumer Reports says that hidden
fees cost consumers $215 billion a year - or $4,000 a year per consumer.

That's more like it.

And then you have your $25 billion a year that brokerage firms skim off
your retirement funds every year for essentially doing nothing. Or the
real estate fees when you close on a house. Sullivan has a whole book of

The rise of the hidden fee corporate crime wave parallels the corporate
attack on consumer fraud enforcement.

Sullivan says that hidden fees have flourished largely because laws
governing false advertising aren't enforced.

"There are great folks who work very hard at the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC)," Sullivan said. "They don't like it when I say this, but the truth
about the FTC is that in 1979, it had 1,700 full time employees. Since
then they have become responsible for huge areas like identity theft, the
do not call list, internet security. And our population has grown by 75
million since 1979. But today, the FTC has 1,000 full-time employees. So,
they have been cut almost in half. The budget is more of a flat-line. And
you see that same trajectory at all of the other consumer protection

If you are having problems with high blood pressure or heart palpitations,
or if you are manic, you might want to leave this book for another day.

I mean, do you really want to read that AT&T sought consultants to design
a mailer so that you, the average Joe consumer, would be more likely to
throw it in the trash?

And why would they want you to throw a mailer in the trash?

Because if you throw it in the trash, you agree to giving up your right to
sue them if there is a dispute over your phone bill.

Do you really want to know that of the $80 billion dollars of gift cards
pumped into the market every year, 10 percent - or $8 billion - are lost?
That's an $8 billion gift to the corporate criminal lobby?

Do you really want to know that the hidden fee rip-off artists have two
complaint desks - one in Southeast Asia for the regular folks, and one in
corporate headquarters in the USA for the sophisticates?

That's right. Consumers are divided into two categories - suckers and

For suckers who don't know how to complain, you get the help desk in
Thailand, or India, or the Philippines.

For people who know how to work the system, and struggle to get their
money back, you get the VIP treatment - and a good chance to get at least
some of the ripped off money back.

I experienced this first hand earlier this month. The Verizon DSL at our
home went out. I spent five days talking to very kind people at Verizon
help centers throughout Southeast Asia.

Then one day, I wrote about my problems on a blog. It got picked up by
some corporate person in the USA. And within 30 minutes of writing the
piece, I got a call from Verizon telling me that someone from "escalation"
will be calling me.

Within five minutes, Wendy from "escalation" calls me.

Within an hour, the problem is fixed.

I haven't followed all of the presidential debates. But as far as I can
tell, Wolf Blitzer hasn't asked any of the presidential candidates about
the fastest growing corporate crime in America.

Maybe that's because the corporate criminals sponsor the debates or own
the television networks - and contribute to the candidates.

In any event, the bottom line is you can buy three of Sullivan's books for
the cost of a bounced check fee. Or a late payment fee.

Buy a bunch and pass them around.

It teaches us how they rip us off.

And how to get to Wendy at escalation.

(For a complete transcript of Interview with Bob Sullivan, see 22
Corporate Crime Reporter 4, January 28, 2008, print edition only.)

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime

--------21 of 21--------

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