Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For Rush

Gee maybe you shouldn't smoke cigars and take hill billy heroin. And your appalling diet..

It must suck having a heart attack, especially since we didn't think you had one.

Good thing you have health care and they didn't suspend your policy because of your being a junkie.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nepali opposition party to launch fourth-phase protest

From China View 2009-12-24 14:02:59

KATHMANDU, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- The main opposition Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M) standing committee meeting on Thursday decided to launch during the fourth-phase protest from Dec. 25.

According to report, the meeting held at the party central office in the capital Kathmandu decided the agenda for the discussion Thursday morning.

The agenda includes, programs for the fourth-phase protest, structure of parliamentary struggle, constitution drafting, summary of the third-phase protest, and recent political situation.

The UCPN-M has already declared to launch national protest campaign against the foreign brokers from Dec. 25.

For Obama, No Opportunity Too Big To Blow

From The Nation

posted by Naomi Klein on 12/21/2009 @ 10:26am
Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone's fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China's fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.

There's plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn't use it. If Barack Obama had come to Copenhagen with a transformative and inspiring commitment to getting the U.S. economy off fossil fuels, all the other major emitters would have stepped up. The EU, Japan, China and India had all indicated that they were willing to increase their levels of commitment, but only if the U.S. took the lead. Instead of leading, Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.

(The "deal" that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world's biggest emitters: I'll pretend that you are doing something about climate change if you pretend that I am too. Deal? Deal.)

I understand all the arguments about not promising what he can't deliver, about the dysfunction of the U.S. Senate, about the art of the possible. But spare me the lecture about how little power poor Obama has. No President since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the U.S. into something that doesn't threaten the stability of life on this planet. He has refused to use each and every one of them. Let's look at the big three.

Blown Opportunity Number 1: The Stimulus Package When Obama came to office he had a free hand and a blank check to design a spending package to stimulate the economy. He could have used that power to fashion what many were calling a "Green New Deal" -- to build the best public transit systems and smart grids in the world. Instead, he experimented disastrously with reaching across the aisle to Republicans, low-balling the size of the stimulus and blowing much of it on tax cuts. Sure, he spent some money on weatherization, but public transit was inexplicably short changed while highways that perpetuate car culture won big.

Blown Opportunity Number 2: The Auto Bailouts Speaking of the car culture, when Obama took office he also found himself in charge of two of the big three automakers, and all of the emissions for which they are responsible. A visionary leader committed to the fight against climate chaos would obviously have used that power to dramatically reengineer the failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs. Instead Obama saw his role as uninspiring down-sizer in chief, leaving the fundamentals of the industry unchanged.

Blown Opportunity Number 3: The Bank Bailouts Obama, it's worth remembering, also came to office with the big banks on their knees -- it took real effort not to nationalize them. Once again, if Obama had dared to use the power that was handed to him by history, he could have mandated the banks to provide the loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn't tell the failed banks how to run their businesses. Green businesses report that it's harder than ever to get a loan.

Imagine if these three huge economic engines -- the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill -- had been harnessed to a common green vision. If that had happened, demand for a complementary energy bill would have been part of a coherent transformative agenda.

Whether the bill had passed or not, by the time Copenhagen had rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.

There are very few U.S. Presidents who have squandered as many once-in-a-generation opportunities as Barack Obama. More than anyone else, the Copenhagen failure belongs to him.

Research support for Naomi Klein's reporting from Copenhagen was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Health care profiteers: A billion-dollar lobby

From World Socialist Web Site

By Patrick Martin
22 December 2009

A study by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Northwestern University and the Chicago Tribune, published in the newspaper Sunday, found that health care lobbyists have spent more than $396 million this year to influence senators and congressmen engaged in passing the health care restructuring legislation, and $862 million in 2008-2009 combined.

With the frenzy of lobbying in the last quarter of 2009, the two-year total will go well beyond $1 billion.

The drug industry alone has spent $199 million on lobbying in the first nine months of the year, which CRP said was the largest such amount ever spent by any industry on any issue. The drug lobby negotiated a deal with the White House in the spring to limit to $80 billion over ten years the amount that the drug companies would have to accept in discounts and rebates as their “contribution” to paying for the health care overhaul. Efforts by some Senate and House Democrats to impose greater costs on the industry, as much as $200 billion, have been beaten back with the support of the Obama administration.

The 338 health care corporations and associations hired at least 166 former staffers and 13 former members of the nine congressional leadership offices and five committees with a role in shaping health care legislation. Another 112 former staffers worked as lobbyists on health care legislation for non-health care companies.

The value of such lobbying was demonstrated in the case of one former staffer for the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, a leading liberal and chairman of one of the key Senate committees. Donal Nexon went to work for the trade association representing small and mid-size manufacturers of medical devices, and was able to reduce a proposed $40 billion tax over ten years to one only half as large—a $20 billion saving that dwarfs the lobbying expense.

Top staffers and former congressmen can count on tripling or quadrupling their incomes when they leave Capitol Hill for positions with major lobbying groups.

According the figures assembled by the CRP researchers, former Democratic staffers led the way in cashing in on the health care legislation, including 14 former aides to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and 13 former aides to Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, whose draft legislation is largely intact in the bill currently going through the Senate.

The biggest single employer of insider lobbyists is the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which employs at least 26 former congressional aides and members. The head of PhRMA is Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Democratic congressman who became a Republican, shepherded the Bush administration’s Medicare drug benefit through the House—a huge boondoggle for the drug companies—then retired to become the top drug industry lobbyist at an annual salary of $2.5 million.

These CRP figures actually understate substantially the total cash being expended to ensure that the overhaul is tailored to various corporate interests. Insurance company lobbying is not included, as the reports filed by these companies do not distinguish between lobbying on health insurance and lobbying on other insurance issues. Nor does the report consider spending by general business lobbies like the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, or individual corporations like Walmart.

The insurance industry is, next to the drug companies, the biggest spender on health care lobbying. Its bribes—thinly concealed as campaign contributions and “educational” expenses—have paid big dividends. The Senate bill will require at least 30 million Americans to buy health insurance, thereby becoming forced customers of the big insurers, while there will be no public option and no expansion of Medicare to compete with them.

The favorite senator of the health insurance lobby, Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, was not coincidentally the key player in ditching the public option, as he threatened to join the Republican filibuster and kill the overall legislation if the public option was not withdrawn.

Other reports give a glimpse of the vast flow of money from private corporations to Capitol Hill in the course of the health care “debate.” GlaxoSmithKline spent $2.3 million in the first half of 2009, Novartis $1.8 million, MetLife $1.7 million, Allstate $2.4 million. The American Medical Association spent $8.2 million in the first half of the year.

There are a total of 3,300 registered health care lobbyists, approximately six for every senator and congressman. Throughout the year, this force was increased at the rate of three new lobbyists each day.

The beneficiaries of the health care slush fund include both the leading opponents of the current Senate bill—Republican John McCain leads with $546,000 and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell follows with $425,000—and the leading supporters, including Senator Baucus, with $413,000 in contributions. Baucus collected $3 million from health and insurance companies from 2003 to 2008, and his top contributors include Schering-Plough, New York Life, Amgen, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the CEO of Merck.

The Washington Post described one summer meeting between Baucus and a group of health care lobbyists who included two of his former chiefs of staff: David Castagnetti, whose clients include PhRMA and America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Jeffrey A. Forbes, who represents PhRMA, Amgen, Genentech, Merck and others. A third Baucus chief of staff, Jim Messina, is now deputy White House chief of staff.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Police crack down on California student protests

From World Socialist Web Site:

California governor denounces “terrorism”

By Marge Holland and Kevin Martinez
14 December 2009

California police, with the support of university administrators, are engaged in a major crackdown of student protests against budget cuts, tuition increases and the attack on public education.

On Saturday night, police arrested eight students who were among about 75 involved in a protest at University of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert Bergenau’s home on campus. In an ominous attempt to intimidate students involved in protests, and in a sign of the measures the state is preparing to take against those opposed to budget cuts, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denounced the students for engaging in “a type of terrorism.”

The action followed the arrest of 66 students in the early morning hours on Friday. Police stormed into Wheeler Hall at the UC Berkeley campus, where the students were engaged in a week-long occupation. This followed by one day the arrest of 25 students at San Francisco State University, who were also engaged in an occupation to protest budget cuts.

The SF Chronicle reported that as many as 75 people surrounded Bergenau’s mansion, known as University House, Friday night. The protesters were alleged to have broken windows and thrown torches at police and Bergenau’s residence, as well as overturning planters and scattered garbage brought from nearby student housing. Eight people, including two UC Berkeley students and two UC Davis students, were reportedly taken into custody.

The Daily Californian online reported Saturday that “all are charged with rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, felony vandalism and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer. The eight were all issued exclusion orders which bar them from returning to campus, police said.”

No one was injured in the incident, but the police and university officials responded with hysterical denunciations. “These are criminals, not activists,” Bergenau declared. “The attack at our home was extraordinarily frightening and violent. My wife and I genuinely feared for our lives.”

The eight students remained in custody Saturday with a bail set at $132,500 and are expected to appear in court Monday or Tuesday. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately weighed in by declaring, “California will not tolerate any type of terrorism against any leaders, including educators. The attack on Chancellor Bergenau's home is a criminal act and those who participated will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law."

As always, it is impossible to rule out the role of police provocateurs. It was when police attempted to break up the demonstration that it turned to vandalism. According to eyewitnesses, many of those detained by police were bystanders who were swept up by the police in the confusion. Jobert Poblete, a UC alumnus, was at the march on the chancellor’s house but decided to leave when “things were getting out of hand,” he told

Police then took into custody James Carwil, 34, a visiting PhD student from the City University of New York. “Carwil hadn’t been doing anything at the time. Now he’s in jail on his birthday, and they just raised his bail from $50,000 to $132,000. There’s no way we can raise that much money. This is a travesty,” said Poblete.

Callie Maidhof, a student organizer told, “Regardless of what one thinks about the events of last night, the minor vandalism that occurred cannot be viewed outside the context of the physical violence inflicted by police on student activists and the broader assault on public education.”

The demonstration Saturday night began as a concert to denounce the arrests of the students the previous morning. Police monitored the concert closely, and followed the students as they marched in demonstration to Bergenau’s house.

The arrests Friday came at the end of an “Open University” occupation at Wheeler Hall, a major classroom building on campus. The students were protesting budget cuts, a 32 percent fee increase, and the reduction to student space and services.

Students had been occupying the building for a week, and were planning on leaving Saturday morning, before final exams began. The administration claimed they decided to make the arrests after they heard of plans for a free music concert on Friday evening. However, the arrests have the air of a deliberate provocation.

Bail was originally set at $25,000 for some of those arrested, according to a blog on the Facebook page of Transform Public Education, the group organizing the occupation. That bail requirement has since been dropped, and everyone without outstanding warrants or “other criminal issues” was cited and released. Some were not eligible for release due to previous arrests, including one individual who was on federal probation.

“People were not given a final warning—police burst in while people were sleeping and immediately started locking doors and arresting people. Many students have papers due today, and finals to take starting tomorrow,” said Elias Martinez, an undergraduate.

Roey Kruvi, a third year geography student at UC Berkeley reported that he was sleeping in the hall when he was arrested. He told the San Francisco Bay Guardian that he was put in zip-tie handcuffs and taken down to the basement of the hall where he and the other protestors were kept for two hours without any of their possessions.

“We were not allowed to speak to lawyers, we had all our stuff taken from us, and we were kept unaware of what was going to happen to us,” he said. “It was a freezing cold room where we were kept and some students had no shoes on. One boy did not even have pants on—he was left in boxers and a T-shirt in the cold all day.”

The arrests at UC Berkeley followed by one day the arrest of 25 students at San Francisco State University, after a group barricaded themselves into the business administration building. The occupation began on Wednesday morning, and at one point involved as many as 300 students.

The students’ demands included an end to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Gaza; free education at every level; the return of Wall Street bailout money; and debt forgiveness for student loans.

Campus police, in full riot gear, with the support of the San Francisco police, broke into the barricaded building, smashing windows in the process, to forcibly remove the students inside around 3:15 a.m. on Thursday.

Police arrested 12 students who were inside and charged them with trespassing, and 11 more were arrested outside the building for unlawful assembly and resisting arrest. Two other students who were blocking traffic in protest were also arrested.

The police crackdown on students this past week follows a similar wave of arrests and police intimidation during protests staged last month. At least two students at UC Los Angeles were tasered, and dozens were arrested at UCLA and UC Davis.

The protests by students reflect the growing popular opposition to the budget cutting in California, which is being carried out with the full support of the Obama administration and both political parties in the state. Crippling cuts in education will force many working class students out of school, while budget cuts at the K-12 level will lead to the elimination of programs, layoffs and cuts in teacher pay.

As opposition grows, the response of the state will be ever more open forms of repression. With a new round of budget cuts planned for this coming year, the statements by Schwarzenegger and university administrators should be seen as a direct threat against all those who oppose the demands of the corporate and financial elite.

The World Socialist Web Site condemns the arrests of these students and demands their immediate release. The response of the state only demonstrates that a successful opposition to budget cuts and the attack on public education must be based on the independent political mobilization of the working class, in opposition to both the Democratic and Republican Parties, and on the basis of a socialist perspective.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Violence erupts outside Copenhagen climate summit

Raw Story"
Saturday, December 12th, 2009 -- 12:10 pm

"Violence erupts outside Copenhagen climate summit"

Violence broke out in Copenhagen on Saturday as tens of thousands took to the streets to demand tough measures on climate change, with demonstrators around the world rallying for action instead of words.

Hundreds of youths wearing black went on the rampage through the Danish capital, throwing bricks and smashing windows, as around 30,000 protesters marched through the streets to demanding world leaders declare war global warming.

Many of the youngsters, whose faces were covered with scarves, were forced to the ground by riot police before being bundled into vans, an AFP reporter said.

Police said some 400 people were arrested in the scuffles, although the rest of the march -- the centerpiece of protests in 130 cities across the world -- remained peaceful.

The huge march to the heavily-guarded Bella Center venue capped a day of lobbying by green groups around the world, staging peaceful, colorful protests from Australia to the Arctic Circle.

"We can't change the science, we have to change the politics -- and if we can't change the politics, we have to change the politicians," Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International, told the main rally.

If all goes well, the 194-nation conference under the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will wrap up on Friday with a historic deal sealed by more than 110 heads of state and government.

It would commit major economies to actions that would curb emissions of heat-trapping fossil-fuel gases and generate hundreds of billions in dollars for poor countries badly exposed to climate change.

Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen of host country Denmark was upbeat.

"In less than a week, I believe we will achieve global agreement... an agreement that will set the course for an ambitious approach to our joint efforts in combating climate change," he told a forum on clean energy.

But many delegates complained that progress had been negligible and the mood soured by finger-pointing.

A draft blueprint, presented on Friday, ran into problems almost immediately among developing countries, emerging giant economies, the United States and the European Union (EU).

Poorer countries lashed it for failing to spell out commitments on finance while the United States complained it failed to bind China and other high-population, fast-growing economies to tough pledges on emissions.

The EU said the draft did not go nearly far enough to limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a goal endorsed by many countries.

"We are in a situation where we can see that so far we haven't achieved enough," Andreas Carlgren, environment minister of Sweden, which currently chairs the EU, said on Saturday.

The EU has unilaterally decided to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent over 1990 levels, and has offered to deepen this to 30 percent if it finds other major players willing to make a comparable effort.

But Carlgren ruled this out, blaming foot-dragging by the world's top two carbon emitters.

"So far we haven't sufficient bids on the table," he told a press conference.

"So far the bids from the United States and China are not sufficient whereby we can deliver this 30 percent." Related article: US, China face off at talks

Conference chair Connie Hedegaard scheduled an informal meeting with environment ministers on Saturday, followed by a further session on Sunday.

Those meetings mark the start of a gruelling game of climate poker before the arrival of heads of state and government on Wednesday and Thursday, many of whom will speak in the conference's plenary session.

Those slated to attend include US President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Premier Wen Jiabao of China, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan and the heads of the European Union (EU).

Failure on December 18 would deal a heavy blow to the nation-state system, the head of the Nobel-winning UN panel of climate scientists warned on Saturday.

"I think if we are able to get a good agreement, this would clearly create an enormous amount of confidence in the ability of human society to be able to act on a multilateral basis," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"If we fail, I don't think everything is lost, but certainly it will be a major setback."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Community activists Sharon Black, Steven Ceci arrested Dec. 9

The set up with the cops planting the evidence against activists is a tradition as old as Red Squads. They used it against Anarchists, Union organizers, Communists, Civil Rights workers and Peace Activists.

From Workers World

Demand the charges be dropped immediately! Stop attacks on all political activists!

Published Dec 10, 2009 6:14 AM

Sign the petition.

On the morning of Dec. 9, long-time Baltimore Community activists Sharon Black-Ceci and Steven Ceci were dragged from their home by Baltimore police. The two, long-time leaders in the anti-racist, and poor people’s rights struggle, had been under police surveillance for their political activism. They have each been falsely charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a felony, and possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor.

On Nov. 14, while both Sharon Black-Ceci and Steven Ceci were attending a workers’ rights conference in New York City, Baltimore police broke down the door of their Baltimore home purportedly based on mysterious and false reports of heroin being sold from their residence. A roommate, Patrick Allen -- who was present at the time of the police break-in — was arrested and the home was senselessly damaged.

Sharon Black-Ceci and Steven Ceci believe that this is not just an attack on them, but an attack on all activists and organizations that are fighting for a society based on social and economic justice and peace.

A year ago, the Baltimore ACLU revealed that the Baltimore All-Peoples Congress, the organization that Black-Ceci has led for more than a quarter of a century, was named as one of four political groups in Baltimore that the Maryland State Police had been spying on.

Sharon Black-Ceci and Steven Ceci were planning to hold a public event Dec. 9, the evening they were arrested, as a political response to the police attack on their home in mid-November. That event was carried out as a press conference and emergency rally to free the activists.

Sign the petition to demand: Release immediately and drop all charges against Patrick Allen, Sharon Black and Steven Ceci! Stop police attacks on all political activists!

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tis The Season For Corporate Lies about Canal Street Louis Vuitton and Prada

Yesterday in the business section of either the New York Times or the Dallas Morning News I read one of those periodic "news stories" decrying counterfeit luxury goods. Most notably handbags.

They laid it on heavy. All the bullshit. Supporting terrorists and organized crime. As if that hasn't become the Big Lie catch all phrase used to rally the nervous nellies of the conservative right wing sheeple and their equally nervous faithful sidekicks, the liberals.

The semi-truths about how these "cloned" luxury goods are made in sweat shops. Probably. But so are the real thing. Or did you actually think well paid members of the ILGWU (International Lady's Garment Workers Union) sewed that Donna Karen or Ralph Lauren?

No my darlings they did not. Those and other luxury good come from sweat shops in China, India, Indonesia. If it says "Made in the USA" the sweat shops are in US owned slave labor sites in the Pacific that are nominally our possessions, spoils of conquest, colonies gained by victory in WW II.

The war against reasonably priced clones of luxury good has multiple facets.

About 20 years back I lived in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. I was too poor to own a car but affluent enough to buy my monthly public transit pass and dress in fashionable knock off and thrift store clothes. Bohemian chic. A girl friend introduced me to Loius Vuitton clones.

I could get a fake Louis for less than a quarter of what the real thing would cost and the profit would go to a stall renting small business person in one of the Koreatown "swap meets" found in the formerly abandoned businesses between Wilshire and Pico.

I thought, "Wow this is neat." I can fake looking a bit better off than I actually am and get treated a little better in a society that treats its poor like the lumpen scum of the earth.

Riding the bus in LA is a lesson in the social stratification and the role race and sex plays in the distribution of wealth. Bus riders are mostly people of color and more women than men. A lot of those women seemed to have found the same cloned Louis Vuitton stalls in the same black and gray market malls that I had.

And there in lies the rub. When the FBI and police go after sellers in micro store stalls of Koreatown and Canal Street who is being protected and who is being served?

Now some can say that consumers like me are being protected from shoddy merchandise, yet I had one bag, one of the large bucket ones that I carried for years. I think I still have it. So the quality wasn't all that bad and the bag cost me about a quarter of what a real one would. Not that I would have bought a real one.

Who profited? The stall renting Korean woman I dealt with. She used her few phrases of English and I used my few phrases of Korean to negotiate a deal that left her with income to pay for her stall, eat and rent her Koreatown ghetto apartment. It left me with a bag at least as good as any of the non-clone bags I've bought for the same price. Not to mention the satisfaction I felt in getting the bargain.

So who is being hurt here? I saw an HBO film recently called, "Schmata: From Rags to Riches", a story of the New York garment district where manufacturers of women's clothing knocked off the designers left and right as well as creating reasonably priced American made clothes that working class American women could afford.

American workers shared the income from that unionized industry.

Now half the time the only connection the clothes with the famous designer's name on them have with the famous designer is the pay check the designer gets from those who purchased his/her name. Who profits?

Not the American worker. The corporation that purchased the designer's name doesn't make the clothes here using American ILGWU workers, something that might justify the price. No they make them in the same sweat shops where the cloned Louis Vuitton are made. And judging from some of the components in the cloned bags like the zippers that say Louis Vuitton on them perhaps in the same factory on the same line using the same materials.

Now we get into something Karl Marx called "surplus value" the difference between the labor plus material costs and the price less the costs of distribution paying for the workers engaged in that process as well as the cost of the retail out let. The profit that produces the lifestyle of the rich and famous is based on selling a delusion of exclusivity and luxury that is undermined by having the poor of all races carrying around an identical appearing bag on buses and subways.

Luxury is based on elitism and exclusivity. It is the idea of having enough money to afford to pay for image rather than for substance. Counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Prada bags are the poor and unwashed barbarians at the gates of Richistan, diluting and democratizing the image of luxury.

If it goes too far perhaps luxury will come to once again be represented by the hand made item, purchased from the leather worker like the ones who run the shop on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village.

Perhaps the corporate elite peddling the cheap crap made in sweatshops will see their image value eroded and the fact that their goods are more accurately valued by those merchants in Koreatown and on Canal Street than they are in the Prada Store or the Louis Vuitton Stores and boutiques?

Perhaps the American people rich and poor will question the value of making the corporate elites that destroyed our industrial base even richer by buying their over priced goods made in sweatshops by children right next door to those that make the knock offs.

Maybe we should start looking for the union label instead of the designer label.

As a side note the article in the corporate owned press was the set up. The propaganda roll out meant to prevent any questioning of today's raids on the poor and small stall business owners of Canal Street.

Chinatown stores raided for counterfeit goods

Updated at 01:01 PM today
Eyewitness News

A strip of stalls selling counterfeit goods in Chinatown were raided Tuesday morning, shutting down the notorious shops just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Police say 10 buildings, housing about 30 stalls, were raided on a block of Canal Street off Broadway.

A large number of counterfeit goods was reportedly seized, including knock off bags, watches and wallets purporting to be brands such as Chanel, Gucci and Tiffany.

Police used bolt-cutters to burst into the shops where counterfeiting was suspected. The raids allegedly revealed secret rooms inside the buildings where dealers did their business.

Continue reading at:

Who is protected? Who is served?

Not the American worker. Not the poor consumer. Not the poor immigrant running the stall.

Bloomberg is protecting the profits of his elite corporate friends and their image based elitist image of luxury. He isn't protecting the American worker whose job was sent off shore by the people profiting from the sale of goods from the sweat shops they control.

The ILGWU was destroyed during the neo-con/neo-lib rise of globalization that has taken place since the Reagan Regime and the rise of corporate fascism.

For some historical perspective on the the ILGWU I recommend:

International Ladies Garment Workers Union (1900-1995)

At the height of its power during the 1930s and 1940s, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) was one of the most important and progressive unions in the United States. Founded in 1900 as an organization dominated by Jewish and Italian immigrants, its membership rolls expanded greatly in its first few years of operation. Nonetheless, a weak economy and conservative business forces were able to keep the union’s gains in check, leading to two major strikes. In 1909, 20,000 New York shirtwaist makers, mostly women, launched a fourteen-week strike, called “The Uprising,” followed several months later by a strike of 60,000 cloakmakers. In the negotiations that followed, the ILGWU was recognized by the industry and won higher wages as well as important new benefits for its members, such as health examinations. In 1911, 146 workers, most of them young women, were killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire leading to a public call for laws to protect workers. As a result, by 1920 the ILGWU was one of the most powerful unions in the organized labor movement.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win

We were young and brave once upon a time.

When Mario Savio called upon us and stated the obvious: There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

We put our bodies on the line. We were beaten, arrested some of us were murdered, especially those of us didn't have white skin privilege.

Some like Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal are still in prison on trumped up government charges, political prisoners whose real crime was standing up to the lies of the powerful and speaking the truth.

Way back when Bob Dylan sang, "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" and some of us answered with a line from Subterranean Homesick Blues, "You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Hunter Thompson said "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

You know MacBeth's three witches are stirring the pot and seeing some powerful signs when the ultras both left and right are quoting Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine".

They started propagandizing us to accept the rogue cop way back at the dawn of the 1970s, first with Dirty Harry and then a million other frightening ultra violent movies. All portraying those attacking authority as sub-human and little more than targets for the super hero straight out of Nietzsche.

We saw the withering away of movies where the common person stood up and made a difference. In real life ordinary people launch movements that clean up lakes and rivers, that pass anti-discrimination laws. They aren't super heroes able to face down an army alone.

We have sunk into a programmed helplessness, chained to debt, drugged out on sports and CGI violence that teaches misogyny if only by the near erasure of women from the screen. Women are regularly shown as victims unable to defend themselves even if they have a perfectly good SIG or Beretta in their hand.

Yeah, those of us on the left back then screwed up. Way too much Che and Mao and not enough Ethan Allen, Tom Paine, John Brown and Big Bill Haywood. We were nearly as ignorant of our history as the kids today are. Shit even long time CPUSA, Dorothy Rae Healy wrote that the left made a mistake in joining so closely with the USSR instead of with the IWW.

Tom Morello sings, "Yeah I support our troops, they wave black flags, they wear black masks."

Ten years since the Battle in Seattle, one year from the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Greece touched off weeks of rioting.

Evo Morales, how the white and privileged hate this man of the people, has won re-election. How he and Hugo Chavez piss off the corporations that run everything and own most of us.

The secret to keeping the flame inside alive is to always work a little sand into the gears of the machine meant to grind you down, resistance is good for the soul. No retreat, no surrender.

There is an ultra cool book out by Stuart Archer Cohen called "The Army of the Republic: A Novel". I highly recommend reading it and digging on the truths it lays out there in the guise of fiction.

As Steve Earle sings "The Revolution starts Now!"

There's a Riot Going On... Anarchists Take to the Streets to Commemorate one year since Riots of 2008

Anarchists clash with Greek police on first anniversary of shooting tragedy

ATHENS, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Violent clashes broke out between Greek riot police and groups of masked young people in the center of Greek capital on Sunday afternoon, one year after 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by police.

A wave of massive demonstrations and riots all over Greece followed his death last December. Despite pleas by the victim's family and political leaders, extensive clashes between anarchists and policemen marred the rally which was organized in his memory.

Violent clashes broke out between Greek riot police and groups of masked young people in the center of Greek capital on Sunday afternoon, one year after 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by police.

Demonstrators clash with riot police in central Athens, capital of Greece, Dec. 6, 2009. More than 10,000 policemen have deployed in Athens this weekend, as Greek authorities and citizens fear a replay of last December's riots, exactly one year after the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old student. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
Photo Gallery>>>

Dozens of young hooded protesters threw stones, Molotov bombs and other objects against policemen in the area of Propylea, the seat of the first university of Athens, and around Syntagma square next to the parliament. They broke shop windows, set rubbish bins on fire, as police answered back with tear gas.

So far at least 60 people have been arrested, and three people, two demonstrators and a policewoman, were injured. Also slightly injured is Christos Kittas, the rector of Athens University. He was transferred to hospital as a precautionary measure after an incident with anarchists who invaded his office breaking the doors of the university earlier.

Violent clashes broke out between Greek riot police and groups of masked young people in the center of Greek capital on Sunday afternoon, one year after 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by police.

Greek protestors clash with riot police in Athens on Dec. 6, 2009, during a massive demonstration commemorating the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos one year ago. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
Photo Gallery>>>

Clashes between police and protesters occurred also in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where police entered the courtyard of Aristotle University earlier in the morning and arrested eight people.

Among the 101 people apprehended across Athens on Saturday night in pre-emptive police operations at Exarchia Square where Grigoropoulos was killed and an anarchist's hideout at Keratsini are at least 5 Italians, reaffirming media reports on foreign anarchists who have arrived in Greece to take part in the protests.

Violent clashes broke out between Greek riot police and groups of masked young people in the center of Greek capital on Sunday afternoon, one year after 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by police.

Greek protestors clash with riot police in Athens on Dec. 6, 2009, during a massive demonstration commemorating the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos one year ago. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
Photo Gallery>>>

Remembering Seattle during Copenhagen

From Socialist Worker

Patrick Bond, author of Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation and director of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society in South Africa, explains why what happened in Seattle a decade ago matters for the movement today.

Hundreds of activists blockade a coal-fired power plant in Washington, D.C. (Indymedia)

PREPARATIONS FOR the December 7-18 Copenhagen climate summit are going as expected, including a rare sighting of the African elites' stiffened spines. That's a great development (maybe decisive)--more about that below.

While activists help raise the temperature on the streets outside the Bella Center on December 12, 13 and 16, inside, we will see global North elites defensively armed with pathetic nonbinding carbon emissions cuts (Barack Obama's promise is a mere 4 percent below 1990 levels) and carbon trading, but without offering the money to repay the North's ecological debt to the global South.

The first and third of these are lamentable enough, but the second is the most serious diversion from the crucial work of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. A nine-minute film launched on the Internet on December 1, The Story of Cap and Trade, gives all the ammunition climate activists need to understand and critique emissions trading, and to seek genuine solutions.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

ANOTHER IMPORTANT diversion emerged on November 20, when hackers published embarrassing emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA) Climate Research Unit. What I've understood from the Guardian's George Monbiot and EnviroKnow is roughly this:

What else to read

Watch the video The Story of Cap and Trade for all the ammunition ou’ll need to understand and challenge the U.S. government’s plans for carbon emissions trading—and what we’ll need to provide a real solution.

-- The UEA researchers were silly, egocentric, ultra-competitive academics who were at times sloppy, an occupational hazard true of most of us--only in this case, there is a huge amount at stake, so their silliness is massively amplified.

-- But a few academics who are silly about their work ethos do not reverse the universal understanding that scientists have regarding climate change.

-- People who want to distract the world from getting to the root of the climate crisis may well have a field day with the UEA emails scandal, which should in turn compel the rest of us to redouble our efforts to achieve real action to stop climate change.

The unapologetic UEA researcher Phil Jones seems to think that because climate denialists have been a pain in the arse (since 2001), it was okay to hide scientific data (paid for by taxpayers), and avoid wasting valuable time addressing the loonies' arguments. "[A]t the beginning," Jones said, "I did try to respond to them in the hope I might convince them, but I soon realized it was a forlorn hope, and broke off communication."

Where I live, Durban in South Africa, we've had dreadful experiences with two kinds of life-threatening denialisms: apartheid and AIDS.

Dating back many decades, apartheid-denialists insisted that Black South Africans had it better than anywhere else in Africa; that anti-apartheid sanctions would only hurt Blacks and not foster change; and that if Blacks took over the government, it would be the ruination of South Africa, with whites having all their wealth expropriated, etc.

From around 1999-2003, AIDS denialists very vocally insisted that HIV and AIDS were not related; that AIDS medicines were toxic and would do no good; and that the activists' lobby for the medicines was merely a front for the CIA and the big pharmaceutical corporations (denialist-in-chief Thabo Mbeki is now being widely cited for genocide, involving 350,000 unnecessary deaths due to his presidency's withholding of AIDS medicines).

In both cases, as with human-induced climate change, the denialists' role was to entrench the status quo forces of state and capital. They were, simply, hucksters for vested interests.

In both cases, they were defeated, thanks to vigorous social activism.

-- During the 1980s, the United Democratic Front, the African National Congress and other liberation forces found that the apartheid denialists' main damage was in opposing pressure for sanctions and divestment against the racist South African regime. So we intensified our efforts, and by August 1985 won the necessary breakthrough when New York banks withdrew lines of credit to Pretoria, thus forcing a split between Afrikaner state rulers and white English-speaking capitalists.

Within a few days, the latter traveled to Lusaka to meet the exiled ANC leadership, and then over the next eight years helped shake loose Afrikaner nationalism's hold on the state. Indeed, today in South Africa, you will search long and hard to find a white person who admits they ever defended apartheid.

-- The Treatment Action Campaign found that a mix of local and internationalist activism was sufficiently strong to pry open Big Pharma's monopoly on intellectual property rights and also overthrow opposition by the U.S. and South African governments, a story worth revisiting in more detail below. In short, by 2003, the coterie of AIDS denialists surrounding Mbeki lost to street heat, ridicule and legal critique, so today, nearly 800,000 South Africans and millions more elsewhere have access to AIDS medicines.

We'll look back at the climate denialists and judge them as merely a momentary quirk in human rationality--ultimately not in the least influential. The real danger comes from fossil fuel firms that, like big tobacco corporations decades ago, know full well the lethal potential of their products. Their objective is to place a grain of doubt in our minds, and for that, denialists are rather useful.

The fossil fuel firms--especially BP, Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil--not only fund denialist think tanks and "astroturf" outfits, such as the Global Climate Coalition (i.e., fake green groups). They also support members of Congress--such as Rick Boucher from Virginia--who energetically sabotage legislation aimed at capping emissions--Congress' offsets, carbon trading and other distraction gimmicks mean there will be no net U.S. cuts until the late 2030s. They also work with mainstream "green" groups--the World Wide Fund for Nature comes to mind--to halt environmental progress.

These corporations are far more insidious than the e-mail hackers. I hope we aren't further distracted by the UEA affair, and that this is a quickly forgotten little episode of dirty academic laundry meant for the dustbin of our sloppy movement, where it belongs--so we can make the movement stronger, more transparent, more rigorous, more democratic and much more militant in trying to defeat the fossil fuel industry.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

ONE WAY to do so is to flash back to Seattle a decade ago, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) mobilizations on November 30, 1999, taught civil society activists and African leaders two powerful lessons.

Veteran anti-apartheid and social justice activist comrade Dennis Brutus from South Africa--who turned 85 years old on November 28--reminded us of two lessons from one of the most eventful weeks in his amazing life.

First, working together, African and global South leaders and activists have the power to disrupt a system of global governance that meets the global North's short-term interests against both the global South and the longer-term interests of the world's people and the planet. Second, in the very act of disrupting global malgovernance, major concessions can be won.

Spectacular protests against the WTO summit's opening ceremony is what most recall about Seattle 1999--activists "locking down" to prevent delegates entering the conference center, a barrage of tear gas and pepper spray from hundreds of riot cops, a sea of broken windows and a municipal police force later prosecuted for violating U.S. citizens' most basic civil liberties. (See David and Rebecca Solnit's excellent new book, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle.)

That was outside the convention center. Inside, when negotiations belatedly got underway, African leaders quickly grew worried that further trade liberalization would damage their tiny industrial sectors. The damage was well-recognized, as even establishment research revealed Africa would be the continent to suffer the worst net losses from corporate-dominated free trade.

The U.S. trade representative, Charlene Barshefsky, repeatedly insulted African elites who raised this point. With the exception of South African Trade Minister Alec Erwin, who enjoyed an insider role to promote South Africa's self-interest, delegations from the Organization of African Unity (OAU, since renamed the African Union) were soon furious.

As OAU Deputy Director General V.J. McKeen recalled: "They went out to a dinner in a bus, and then were left out in the cold to walk back...When we went into the room for our African group meeting, I mean, there was no interpretation provided... so one had to improvise. And then, even the microphone facilities were switched off."

Tetteh Hormeku, from the African Trade Network of progressive civil society groups, picks up the story:

By the second day of the formal negotiations, the African and other developing-country delegates had found themselves totally marginalized...[and threatened] to withdraw the consensus required to reach a conclusion of the conference. By this time, even the Americans and their supporters in the WTO secretariat must have woken up to the futility of their "rough tactics."

By walking out, the Africans' strong willpower earned major concessions in the next WTO summit, in Doha in November 2001. At the same time as the global justice movement began widening into an anti-imperialist movement in the wake of the U.S. government's post-9/11 re-militarization, African activists delved deeper into extreme local challenges, such as combating AIDS. In Doha, African elites joined forces with activists again.

On this occasion, the positive catalyst was a South African government law--the 1997 Medicines Act--which permitted the state's compulsory licensing of patented drugs. In 1998, the Treatment Action Campaign was launched to lobby for AIDS drugs, which a decade ago were prohibitively expensive--$15,000 (U.S.) per person per year--for nearly all South Africa's HIV-positive people (roughly 10 percent of the population).

That campaign was immediately confronted by the U.S. State Department's attack on South Africa's Medicines Act--a "full court press," as bureaucrats called it in testimony to Congress. The U.S. elites' aim was to protect "intellectual property rights" and halt the emergence of a parallel inexpensive supply of AIDS medicines that would undermine lucrative Western markets.

Vice President Al Gore intervened directly with South African government leaders in 1998-99, with the aim of revoking the Medicines Act. Then in mid-1999, Gore launched his presidential election bid, a campaign generously funded by big pharmaceutical corporations, which that year provided $2.3 million to the Democratic Party.

In solidarity with the South Africans, the U.S. AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACTUP) began protesting at Gore's campaign events in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The protests soon threatened to cost Gore far more in adverse publicity than he was raising in Big Pharma contributions, so he changed sides.

As pressure built, even during the reign of president George W. Bush and his repressive trade representative Robert Zoellick (now World Bank president), the WTO's Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights system was amended at Doha in late 2001 to permit generic drugs to be used in medical emergencies. This was a huge victory for Africa, removing any rationale for continuing to deny life-saving medicines to the world's poorest people.

In 2003, with another dreadful WTO deal on the table in Cancun and 30,000 protesters outside, once again, the African leadership withdrew from the consensus, wrecking the plans of the U.S. and Europe for further liberalization. The WTO has still not recovered.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THESE ARE the precedents required to overcome the three huge challenges the North faces in Copenhagen: 2020 greenhouse gas emissions cuts of at least 45 percent (from 1990 levels) through a binding international agreement; the decommissioning of carbon markets and offset gimmicks; and payment on the vast ecological debt owed to victims of climate change.

Realistically, the adverse balance of forces currently prevailing will not permit victories on even one, much less all three. What response is logical?

In Barcelona, in early November, African negotiators boycotted the pre-Copenhagen talks, making good on African Union leader Meles Zenawi's September threat, because the North had put so little on the negotiating table.

Indeed, that is the main lesson from Seattle: by walking out--alongside mass action by civil society protesters--and halting a bad deal in Copenhagen on December 18, we can together pave the way for subsequent progress.

Two years after Seattle's failure, progress was won through African access to life-saving medicines. We must ensure it doesn't take two years after Copenhagen's failure for Africa to get access to life-saving greenhouse gas emissions cuts and climate debt repayment, alongside the demise of carbon trading. But those are surely the battles just ahead.

First published in The Bullet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bolivia's Morales wins new presidential term

By Raul Burgoa
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 08:35:00 12/07/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Politics

LA PAZ, Bolivia—Bolivian President Evo Morales easily won a second term in elections Sunday, according to early exit polls that showed him with a strengthened mandate to pursue socialist reforms deeply dividing his country.

Various polls suggested Morales, a 50-year-old former coca farmer who became Bolivia's first indigenous president in 2006, attracted 62-63 percent of the vote.

His nearest rival, conservative former governor Manfred Reyes Villa, was credited with just 23-24 percent, the polls said.

Official results based on a nearly complete tally were expected on Tuesday. They were expected to confirm voter intention surveys that predicted a landslide win for Morales.

If that is the case, the United States can also expect continued fraught relations with Morales, who last year threw out the US ambassador and the US Drug Enforcement Administration after accusing them of undermining his government.

What was less clear was the number of seats Morales's Movement Towards Socialism party grabbed in the 157-seat congress in the legislative part of the ballot.

Already dominant in the chamber of deputies, the party was looking to also seize control of the senate from the conservative opposition and secure a two-thirds majority that would deliver unfettered political freedom to Morales.

Much of Morales's support came from Bolivia's indigenous majority, which makes up 60 percent of the population and which is now embracing greater powers and pride after long being suppressed by the 40 percent minority of European descent.

The Bolivian leader's close ally and role model, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, predicted on Sunday that official results would confirm an "overwhelming" victory for Morales and his party.

Morales followed in Chavez's footsteps in organizing a referendum changing the constitution early this year that scrapped a previous one-term limit for presidents and allowed him to stand once more for reelection.

Like Chavez, he also hinted on Sunday he intended to stay on beyond the new five-year mandate he was likely given, to see through his "revolution" that he claimed would require decades of stewardship.

"If we talk of the new constitution... this is the first election of Evo Morales," he argued.
If Morales does stand and win in the next presidential election in 2014, he could stay in power until 2020.

Such a prospect would unsettle the non-indigenous part of the population which mostly inhabits the more prosperous lowlands in the eastern half of Bolivia, where economically vital natural gas deposits are located.

Non-indigenous Bolivians have been unable to counter Morales's reforms which have included limiting the size of ranches and other land holdings, and nationalizing the energy and telecommunications sectors.

They fear that a Congress dominated by Morales's party will now pass a law approved in the referendum that would give indigenous communities the right to self-rule. That has already been interpreted as permission to seize land from non-indigenous owners.

Tensions between the president's supporters and opponents spilled over into deadly violence late last year, though they have subsided somewhat since the January 2009 referendum that knocked Reyes Villa and other "rebel" governors from power.

Reyes Villa additionally faces a threat of jail on corruption charges voiced by Morales in the lead-up to the elections. The government said the former military

officer—who was ousted in a recall question on the referendum along with other "rebel" governors—had bought a plane ticket to flee the country on Monday.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dec 12th: System Change, not Climate Change!

Posted on 4th December 2009

dec12thSystem change, not climate change!

On Saturday the 12th of December, tens of thousands of people will march in Copenhagen to demand real and effective action on climate change. Many are still hoping, against hope, that the ‘world leaders’ gathered inside the summit will be able to deliver a good deal for planet and people. But we already know that the talks will not solve the climate crisis. We are no closer to reducing greenhouse gas emissions than we were when international negotiations began fifteen years ago: emissions are rising faster than ever, while carbon trading allows climate criminals to pollute and profit. Faced with the profound crisis of our civilisation, and the destructive impacts of the climate crisis on already marginalised communities, all we get is a political circus playing to the interests of corporations.
In response to this madness, a global movement for climate justice has emerged to reclaim power over our future. We cannot trust those who created the problem in the first place, and who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo while tinkering around the edges, to deliver what we know to be necessary. We cannot trust the market with our future, nor put our faith in unsafe, unproven and unsustainable technologies. Contrary to those who put their faith in a “green capitalism”, we know that it is impossible to have infinite growth on a finite planet. Instead of trying to fix a destructive system, we should be:

  • leaving fossil fuels in the ground
  • reasserting peoples’ and community control over production
  • relocalising food production
  • massively reducing overconsumption, particularly in the North
  • recognising the ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the South and making reparations
  • respecting indigenous and forest peoples’ rights

The only way to make this happen is if we stop waiting for someone else, somewhere else to fix the problems we face – we need to take power into our hands and build a powerful global movement that can fight for and realise climate justice: for a world in which solutions to the climate crisis are not paid for by those who have done the least to cause it; for a world where one person’s good life does not mean someone else’s exploitation; for a world with more time for pleasure, more solidarity, more real, human development; for a bright future beyond capitalism.

Join the bloc at 13:00 on Christiansborg Slotsplads (Parliament Square) in Central Copenhagen to call for


The future is bright, if we make it so: to light up the darkness, bring lights, wear bright colours, bring glitter. Gather at the three trucks carrying the bloc’s banners.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Straights Wake Up to the Fact That Obama is not Progressive

Obama was not my first choice for President. I knew I would never get my first choice of Kucinich or Gravel.

So I supported Hillary. I thought is was time that we had a President that was different from the others. A Woman...

But like a drug addict unable to quit even though they know that the Democrats and Republicans are both representatives of the corporations and not the people I got behind Obama. I learned my lesson in the stupidity of not voting and hoping the heightening of the contradictions would bring on change way back in '68.

What I want to know of the people below is why did it take you so long to become disillusioned with Barry?

I was disillusioned with him when he kissed up to the Christo-fascist, Rick Warren, who is friend with the people promoting the genocide of LGBT/T people in Uganda. I had little hope for him when he expressed an admiration for Reagan.

I took the bumper magnet off the car when he threw LGBT/T people under the bus two days after the election.

I saw through all the bullshit advertising sloganeering and empty rhetoric during the first debate in 2007.

What took y'all so long.

We need a new party. Let the corporations have the Corporacans and Corporacrats.

From Alternet

Progressive Leaders Pan Obama's Decision for More War in Afghanistan -- 10 Reactions

By , AlterNet
Posted on December 4, 2009, Printed on December 4, 2009

President Obama's speech announcing a troop escalation in Afghanistan did not go over well with many progressives. As soon as his intentions to send tens of thousands more troops became clear, dozens of progressive leaders and writers -- including many former prominent Obama supporters -- voiced their concerns in newspapers, on the radio and on the Internet. The following is a sampling of their responses:

1. Tom Hayden writes for The Nation:

"It's time to strip the Obama sticker off my car. Obama's escalation in Afghanistan is the last in a string of disappointments. His flip-flopping acceptance of the military coup in Honduras has squandered the trust of Latin America. His Wall Street bailout leaves the poor, the unemployed, minorities and college students on their own. And now comes the Afghanistan-Pakistan decision to escalate the stalemate, which risks his domestic agenda, his Democratic base, and possibly even his presidency."

2. Laura Flanders writes on GritTV,

"...for those who’d thought they’d voted for the death of the Bush Doctrine. Sorry. Bush/Cheney live on in the new president’s embrace of the idea that the U.S. has a right, not only to respond to attacks, but also to deploy men and women in anticipation of them."

3. Jim Hightower used his most recent column to warn:

"Obama has been taken over by the military industrial hawks and national security theorists who play war games with other people's lives and money. I had hoped Obama might be a more forceful leader who would reject the same old interventionist mindset of those who profit from permanent war. But his newly announced Afghan policy shows he is not that leader."

Hightower says that just because we've lost Obama on this issue, it's not over; that we as citizens...

"...have both a moral and patriotic duty to reach out to others to inform, organize and mobilize our grassroots objections, taking common sense to high places. Also, look to leaders in Congress who are standing up against Obama's war and finally beginning to reassert the legislative branch's constitutional responsibility to oversee and direct military policy. For example, Rep. Jim McGovern is pushing for a specific, congressionally mandated exit strategy; Rep. Barbara Lee wants to use Congress' control of the public purse strings to stop Obama's escalation; and Rep. David Obey is calling for a war tax on the richest Americans to put any escalation on-budget, rather than on a credit card for China to finance and future generations to pay."

4. Black Agenda Report editor Glen Ford compares Obama's delivery to how George Bush might have given the speech:

"Barack Obama's oratorical skills have turned on him, revealing, as George Bush’s low-grade delivery never could, the perfect incoherence of the current American imperial project in South Asia. Bush’s verbal eccentricities served to muddy his entire message, leaving the observer wondering what was more ridiculous, the speechmaker or the speech. There is no such confusion when Obama is on the mic. His flawless delivery of superbly structured sentences provides no distractions, requiring the brain to examine the content – the policy in question – on its actual merits. The conclusion comes quickly: the U.S. imperial enterprise in Afghanistan and Pakistan is doomed, as well as evil.

"The president’s speech to West Point cadets was a stream of non sequiturs so devoid of logic as to cast doubt on the sanity of the authors. '[T]hese additional American and international troops,' said the president, 'will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.'
"Obama claims that the faster an additional 30,000 Americans pour into Afghanistan, the quicker will come the time when they will leave. More occupation means less occupation, you see? This breakneck intensification of the U.S. occupation is necessary, Obama explains, because 'We have no interest in occupying your country.'"

5. Foreign Policy in Focus's Phyllis Bennis demolished Obama's attempt to discourage comparisons to Vietnam:

"Near the end of his speech, Obama tried to speak to his antiwar one-time supporters, speaking to the legacy of Vietnam. It was here that the speech’s internal weakness was perhaps most clear. Obama refused to respond to the actual analogy between the quagmire of Vietnam, which led to the collapse of Johnson’s Great Society programs, and the threat to Obama’s ambitious domestic agenda collapsing under the pressure of funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, he created straw analogies, ignoring the massive challenge of waging an illegitimate, unpopular war at a moment of dire economic crisis."

6. New America Media's Andrew Lam also addressed the Afghanistan-Vietnam parallel:
"On the eve of the second wave of a U.S. invasion in Afghanistan, I wish to tell the American media, as well as President Obama, that the Vietnam syndrome cannot be kicked through acts of war. That only through a view that’s rooted in people, rooted in human kindness, and not historical vehemence, would a country open itself up and stop being a haunting metaphor. That not until human basic needs are addressed and human dignity upheld can we truly pacify our enemies and bring about human liberty. And that more soldiers and bombs and droids in the sky will never appease the haunting ghosts of the past. Quite the opposite. We are in the process of creating more ghosts to haunt future generations."

7. Glenn Greenwald, writing on Salon, addresses Obama's supporters who are going along with his decision to escalate the troops:

"The most bizarre defense of Obama's escalation is also one of the most common: since he promised during the campaign to escalate in Afghanistan, it's unfair to criticize him for it now -- as though policies which are advocated during a campaign are subsequently immunized from criticism. For those invoking this defense: in 2004, Bush ran for re-election by vowing to prosecute the war in Iraq, keep Guantanamo open, and "reform" privatize Social Security. When he won and then did those things (or tried to), did you refrain from criticizing those policies on the grounds that he promised to do them during the campaign? I highly doubt it."

8. AlterNet's Adele Stan noted that Obama also changed the justification for the war:

"If you listened to the subtext of the speech, you might find that the mission has changed. In fact, you might say that the mission in Afghanistan is as much about creating stability in Pakistan -- a nuclear power that NBC's Andrea Mitchell yesterday referred to as a nearly failed state -- as it is about Afghanistan. Last night, a senior administration official confirmed to AlterNet that the U.S. mission to Pakistan has broadened.

From the president's speech:

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistani people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

9. Rory O' Connor lambasted Obama on

"The Afghan escalation speech was classic Obama. His enigmatic and epigrammatic split the baby in half Yoda/Spock-speak offered something for everyone: good-news-bad-news; back and forth; give and take; get in to get out; speed up to slow down; and in the end, let’s all come together and get along to end the war – by waging the war more intensely…but only for eighteen months, and then we all get to go home."

10. Blogger Digby highlighted that the American public never really gets to discuss the real issues underlying the US military build up in the Mideast and Asia:

"The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the standoff with Iran and all the other obsessions with the Mideast are at least informed, if not entirely motivated, by larger geopolitical efforts to maintain stability at a time of impending competition over resources and access to them -- oil. Sure that's simplistic, but it's at the 'heart' of what's going on in the leadership's 'minds.'

"We don't talk about any of that because it might lead us to get serious about changing our way of life and evidently nobody important thinks that's the right way to deal with the problem. And frankly, among many of our elites, maintaining a military presence everywhere is necessary to preserve American global dominance. Period."

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Goldman Sachs Arming To Protect Themselves From those they Robbed

Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public: Alice Schroeder

Commentary by Alice Schroeder

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- “I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

I called Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag to ask whether it’s true that Goldman partners feel they need handguns to protect themselves from the angry proletariat. He didn’t call me back. The New York Police Department has told me that “as a preliminary matter” it believes some of the bankers I inquired about do have pistol permits. The NYPD also said it will be a while before it can name names.

Continue Reading at: