Monday, November 30, 2009

German politicians, media warn about the next global financial crisis


German politicians, media warn about the next global financial crisis

By Peter Schwarz
26 November 2009

Within Germany's top political circles fear is growing of a second
international financial crash exceeding in intensity and impact that of
autumn 2008.

At the weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schäuble (both Christian Democratic Union—CDU) warned that the economic
crisis was far from over. "We have initially succeeded in limiting the
effects of the crisis on people, but difficulties remain in front of us,"
Merkel told a CDU meeting.

Schäuble compared the present financial crisis with the fall of the Berlin
Wall twenty years earlier. "The financial crisis will change the world as
powerfully as did the fall of the [Berlin] Wall. The balance between
America, Asia and Europe is shifting dramatically," he told Bild am Sonntag.
He also appealed to bankers to exercise restraint when it came to their
bonus payments.

Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, expressed fears
about a social collapse if there is a new round of bank failures. "It is
surely too early to say the crisis is over," he told a European congress of
bankers in Frankfurt, adding the warning: "Our democracies will not accept
twice giving such extensive support to the financial sector with taxpayers'

The enormous stock market bubble that has formed over the past eight months
is seen as the biggest source of danger of another crash. The most important
share indices—the Dow Jones, the Japanese Nikkei and the German DAX—have
risen by around 50 to 60 percent since March. The prices of crude oil,
copper and other raw materials have also more than doubled. These enormous
increases are not based upon any corresponding economic growth. On the
contrary, economic activity has fallen in numerous countries and many firms
are still posting losses.

The rally in stock prices is due to the enormous liquidity that governments
and central banks have pumped into the economy. Financial establishments are
able to borrow unlimited sums of money from the central banks at virtually
zero interest, and thus make high profits from their speculative deals. The
trillions in taxpayers' money that are being spent to revive the economy do
not flow into investments, but into speculative deals, high payouts to
shareholders, and exorbitant bonus payments for the bankers.

"The stock markets are rising because so much money has to go
somewhere—because shares per se are valued attractively," writes
Wirtschaftswoche, the German business weekly, in an analysis of the current
stock exchange boom. According to the magazine, the price-earnings
ratio—comparing the market value per share to the annual earnings per share
of the respective enterprise—has reached a historic maximum of 133. A
price-earnings ratio of 14 or more is considered to mean shares are valued

As a consequence of the crisis, hundreds of thousands of workers in the US
alone are losing their jobs each month, workers are being forced to forgo
wages, and social programs are being cut on a massive scale. At the same
time, the orgy of enrichment of those at the top of society has reached the
same level as prior to the crisis, or even higher.

The large investment banks and hedge funds will this year disburse over $100
billion in bonuses to their staff. Goldman Sachs, the US bank, has set aside
$17 billion for this purpose. In Germany, the 30 largest enterprises listed
on the DAX plan to transfer over 20 billion euros to their shareholders in
the spring of 2010. That is 71 percent of their net profits. In the previous
record year, 2007, the corresponding figure was only 45 percent.
Proportionately less will be available for new investment.

This is the background to the warnings of Merkel, Schäuble and Trichet. They
fear that the shameless enrichment of the financial oligarchy, linked with a
new crisis on the financial markets, could unleash an uncontrollable social

Many experts consider another financial crash to be inevitable. This week's
edition of Der Spiegel, the weekly newsmagazine, ran the following
sensationalized headline, comic book-style, on its front page: "The
trillion-bomb." The 12-page accompanying article begins by asserting that
the question is not whether the present stock market bubble bursts, but

There follows a devastating picture of the present state of capitalist
society: "In the midst of a world economy still gripped by crisis, the
financial elite is again accumulating billions," the article states. "The
old greed is there again, and the old hubris too." Never before in modern
economic history has "the finance industry had such unfettered access to the
finances of the state." Der Spiegel warns expressly of the "risk of
hyperinflation—a breakneck rapidly progressing monetary depreciation, as
Germany experienced at the beginning of the 1920s."

At the same time, citing Adair Turner, chair of Britain's Financial Services
Authority, the article points to the ideological effects of the crisis. It
not only involves a crisis of individual banks, but also a crisis of
"intellectual thought": "Our conception that prices bear important
information, that markets behave rationally and correct themselves in cases
of irrationality, all that has been placed in question." In other words,
capitalism and the free-market economy are thoroughly discredited.

Der Spiegel directs its principal fire against the US government. "The
finance industry in the US is regulated by the finance industry, not by the
finance minister [treasury secretary]," it notes disapprovingly, and lists
the numerous individuals whose careers have extended from the executive
offices of banks such as Goldman Sachs to the offices of the treasury
department, or to the close environs of President Barack Obama, and back

"If one looked at the US with the same analytic coolness as [one looks at]
Russia," observes the American economist James Galbraith, cited in the
article, "one could not avoid speaking of the rule of an oligopoly comprised
of politicians and bankers. The powerful individuals on Wall Street and in
Washington are no less closely interlinked than Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin and the magnates controlling Russia's raw material empire."

Der Spiegel speaks for that section of the German ruling elite that wants to
end the state-financed reflationary measures and the policy of cheap money
as quickly as possible, pleading instead for a lowering of business taxes
and severe budget cuts. Although that would entail a substantial dismantling
of social programs and a short-term increase in bankruptcies and job cuts,
this is considered the lesser evil compared to a sudden economic collapse
with incalculable social consequences.

The attitude of Der Spiegel essentially corresponds to that of the
government in Berlin. The outgoing coalition of the Christian Democrats and
the Social Democratic Party had already enshrined a "debt brake" in the
constitution shortly before September's parliamentary elections, which now
forces the new government onto a drastic austerity course. New state debt
must be reduced from the present 86 billion euros to 10 billion in 2016 .
Finance Minister Schäuble has repeatedly insisted that he will keep applying
the debt brake and adhere to the European Union stability pact, which limits
new debt to three percent of Gross Domestic Product.

But taking into account various internal and external political pressures
means this austerity course is to be delayed by about one year. Chancellor
Merkel fears a further erosion of support for the CDU and the loss of her
government majority in the Bundesrat (upper house of parliament) if,
immediately after the elections, she were to begin implementing social cuts.
On an international level, there are sharp differences with Washington and
London over financial policy, which already led to conflicts before the G20
summit in Pittsburgh.

The US and Britain, which have sacrificed a large part of their industrial
base to the financial sector, have far fewer interests in a restrictive
monetary policy than Germany, whose export trade and industry rank among the
strongest in the world, and which fears the effects of a weak dollar on its
competitive position. The vehemence with which Der Spiegel now attacks the
American finance sector expresses the acuteness of the mutual tensions that
are seldom openly addressed.

This must all be seen as a warning for working people. The global crisis of
capitalism has reached a point where social and political compromise is no
longer possible. Workers must prepare for fierce social struggles.

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Manuel Zelaya: A Letter to the Presidents of the Hemisphere

Yes, I know the coup regime 'won' yesterday's Honduran election,
but President Zelaya's Letter is even more relevant. Preceding
the Letter are a few short excerpts from today's NY Times.

Shame on the Obama administration. Imperialism?, you bet.


"Washington shifted position this month and broke with Latin America when it
said that it was likely to recognize the election results despite the
failure to restore Mr. Zelaya before the vote. Only Costa Rica and Panama
have followed suit."

"Brazil and much of South America have refused to accept the election."

"There was a visible police and military presence around the capital,
Tegucigalpa, on Sunday. News outlets, largely controlled by business groups
that backed the coup, suggested that Mr. Zelaya's supporters could try to
disrupt the voting."

"But human rights groups denounced the patrols as part of a campaign of
intimidation. Witnesses reported that the police fired tear gas and water
cannons at a resistance demonstration in the second largest city, San Pedro

"The de facto government — whose leader, Roberto Micheletti, also is in the
Liberal Party — tried to convince Hondurans and the international community
that the election was legitimate. But the Organization of American States,
the Carter Center and the European Union did not send observers. The United
Nations withheld election support."


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, November 26, 2009 9:48 AM

original in Spanish:


A Letter to the Presidents of the Hemisphere

By Manuel Zelaya Rosales
President of Honduras

November 22, 2009

Honorable Presidents
Nations of América

Dear Presidents,

I write you in my role as President of Honduras, valuing the excellent
relations between our countries and in defense of the democracy violated in
Honduras as consequence of the Military Coup d'Etat perpetrated June 28 of
this year, when soldiers invaded my home and at gunpoint kidnapped and took
me to Costa Rica.

The National Congress forged my resignation letter and, abusing its power,
emitted an illegal decree which "separated me from the charge of
Constitutional President" without Constitutional backing to do so. The same
was the case for the arrest order that the Court had emitted without having
received any legal complain and without my having been cited to appear
before any tribunal or trial. It has been condemned and described by all the
countries of the world as a violent and surprising rupture of democratic
order, a Military Coup d'Etat.

At this moment in Honduras we are in a de facto State. There is no
Constitution. Nor are there Constitutional powers because they have been
destroyed by force by the military Coup d'Etat on that ominous day of June
28, 2009.

The Constitution of the Republic establishes in Article 3: "No one owes
obedience to an usurper government, nor to those who occupy public positions
or jobs by the force of weapons or using means or procedures that bankrupt
or fail to recognize what the Constitution and the law establishes. Those
actions by so-called authorities are null and void. The people have the
right to insurrection to defend the Constitutional order."

In reading that article, you can understand that the Honduran people are
legally empowered to act using all means, styles and forms that they
consider necessary to restore democracy. We have consciously taken the path
of peaceful resistance, with the goal of establishing noncooperation and
nonviolence like methods of civil disobedience and twenty-first century
popular struggle against the rise of military force.

We thank the entire international community for your support for our labor
to reconstruct the State of Law, that being the last effort of the poorly
reached Tegucigalpa-San José Accord, backed by the OAS and the US Department
of State. Its letter and spirit has as its proposal the "return of the title
the executive branch to what it was prior to June 28." And it was openly
violated by the de facto regime which in which Mr. Micheletti pretends to
head a government of reconciliation, refusing to convene the National
Congress, in definitive noncompliance of the timeline and text.

Now, unilaterally, he seeks to utilize the aborted accord by convening the
National Congress on December 2, a date upon which the political actors of
the accord will have been substantially modified, in the sense that by then
they will have already been submitted to the opinion ofthe voters without
having restored Constitutional order.

The elections of November 29 and their use of public funds under a de facto
regime, without having previously restored democracy and the State of Law as
OAS and UN resolutions demand, without even having installed the government
of unity and reconciliation, are illegal, illegitimate, and constitute a
criminal act.

At the moment that the de facto regime with its soldiers convenes a spurious
electoral process under repression, without legal guarantees, and without a
political agreement, in which the military dictatorship is the guarantor of
the law, it only strengthens its actions of force and impunity.

Precisely today, Channel 36, property of journalist Esdras Amado López, the
only television chain that has opposed the regime, has had its signal
blocked and taken off the air by the dictatorship.

The de facto regime has frontally disregarded the resolutions of the OAS,
the UN and the European Union. It has also violated the Democratic Charter
of the OAS and its resolutions while some of Honduras' friends among
countries demonstrate ambiguity and support for the electoral process
without having restored democratic order and without political dialogue.
That permits the de facto regime to impose its will by force.

As President of Honduras, I communicate with you to say that below these
conditions I will not back the electoral process and will proceed to
challenge it legally in the name of the men and women of my country and of
hundreds of community leaders that suffer the loss of democracy, the
repression, the unfair circumstances and the suppression of freedom.

These elections have to be annulled and rescheduled to when the sovereign
will of the people is respected.

In these difficult moments for our brother countries of América, we ask for
your solidarity with Honduras.

- That you accompany us based on the facts that you know, reiterating the
position of not supporting a unilateral intent to give validity to an accord
that was quickly rescinded by the violations consummated by the

- Reaffirming the condemnation of the coup d'etat of the military State and
not supporting a de facto regime whose existence today shames all the
peoples of Latin América Latina, that after all the attempts by the
international community to reverse the coup d'etat have ended in a total
failure for everyone.

- Appealing to maintain your firmness in the execution of the resolutions
passed by the OAS and the UN and not adopting ambiguous and imprecise
positions like those displayed today by the government of the United States
of America, with whose final posture has weakened the process of reversing
the coup d'etat, demonstrating division in the international community. By
feeding this coup d'etat the democratic security in the hemisphere and the
stability of the Presidents of América is put at risk, with the resurgence
of military castes over civil authority. Legitimizing coups d'etat by means
of spurious electoral processes divides and does not contribute to the unity
of the nations of América.

- I ask for your cooperation so that this Military Coup d'Etat its bloody
violations of human rights do not go unpunished. Already, the International
Criminal Court has received complaints and allowed them to proceed to trial
to obtain justice for our people and apply the corresponding sanctions to
those who committed treason to the Nation and crimes against humanity in

- We voice our energetic rejection of those who support the maneuvers to
launder the coup d'etat, covering up for the golpistas to leave their crimes

- With our full attention, we invite all the nations to recognize our
government and that they abstain from supporting the actions of the illegal
regime that usurped power by force of weapons.

- We cordially demand and exhort your representatives to the OAS and the UN
to continue defending and supporting the rights of the people and of the
legitimately elected governments, since when one of our nations suffers an
assault it is an affront to all América; and, each time a government elected
by the peoples of América is toppled, violence and terrorism win and
Democracy suffers a defeat.

In wait of your response, I appreciate the invaluable support demonstrated
until now for these principles and I send you greetings reiterating my
esteem and my highest consideration.

President of the Republic of Honduras

Sr. José Miguel Insulza, Secretario General de la OEA
Sr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretario General de la ONU
Sr. José Barroso, Comisión Unión Europea

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bess Lomax Hawes, Occupations Spread Across California

Hi. This long, past week, I've tried to send you reflective articles you may
not get elsewhere, which cover a spectrum of themes likely to affect the
broad public, political and otherwise. Today's, on students, is one such.
It may be too radical for some, but is very reminiscent of the Free Speech
Movement of 1964, at Berkeley, which quickly morphed into the broad,
anti-Vietnam War movement, energized the Civil Rights movement, the
various 'Power' movements, the Women's movement, Environmentalism,
and much more. It merits great attention.

But first, a sad note from friend Frank Hamilton, one of the most creative,
talented musicians I've ever known, about the passing of our teacher, Bess
Hawes. I say amen to his brief eulogy and add that Bess, Pete Seeger and
Woody Guthrie formed the Almanac Singers, the role model for the Weavers,
Peter, Paul and Mary, and many others. Her daughters, Naomi and Corey,
called me from occupied Wheeler Hall in 1964, where they were part of that
action of the Free Speech Movement, asking the Ash Grove to organize a bail
benefit. Likely leading the singing. Fruit of the tree. Bess graced our


PS. I now see another great woman, Alice McGrath has died. If you
don't know who that is, you should. LA Times obit page today.

From: Frank Hamilton
To: Ted and Marcia Johnson ; Chick and Ellen Marston/Ford ; Bau Graves ;
Bill Rutan ; Elise Witt ; Patrick Ferryn ; Gary Koonce ; Jim Fox ; Gail
Tyler ; David Hatch ; Jason McInnes ; Robert Lowe ; Doug Oster ;
Ed Pearl ; ; Paul Stamler ; Jimmy Tomasello
Sent: Saturday, November 28, 2009 3:10 PM


Great sadness here. No Bess Hawes, no Old Town School of Folk Music. She
was brilliant. Just as important as her brother, Alan Lomax in the field of
folk music and anthropology. She introduced me to traditional folk music
like no other did and I owe my teaching skills to her.

Just got this off of Mudcat. What a real loss to folk music! People don't

Date: 28 Nov 09 - 11:34 AM

"We're so sad to hear that Bess Lomax Hawes passed away this morning. One of
the pioneers of folklore, she was the daughter of John Lomax, sister of
Alan. She created the NEA's folk arts program. She taught at CSUN starting
back when it was San Fernando Valley State College and also lived here in
SoCal after her time at the NEA. Always generous with her time, creative to
the end, she will be missed by so many."


From: "Steven Robinson" <>

Occupations Spread Across California

"The wave of occupations that spread on November 18th-20th and the massive
student support of them shows a quantitative growth in the struggle by sheer
numbers of participants, but more importantly it demonstrates a qualitative
growth in the anti-budget cut struggle due to the deepening of student

By: Advance the Struggle
November 24, 2009

Fully armed, a line of 10 swat team police marched up to the picket line.
Half-stunned by their presence, the crowd of supporters hesitatingly jeered
the cops. In unison and on command they charged forward and shoved the
picketers to the ground. Throughout the day there were various refusals to
accept these attacks; they ranged from hurling verbal abuse at the cops with
chants like "Fuck the Police," to acts of Police Attack, Students Fight Back
physical resistance such as refusing to sit down at the urging of cops and
fellow protesters, to minor incidents of exchanging blows.

Some of these bold acts of resistance were deplorable to those protestors
whose go-to chants were "Peaceful protest! Peaceful protest!" as the pigs
violently attacked students. One chant was even directed to the cops
themselves: "We are fighting for your kids! We are fighting for your kids!"
This brings into sharp relief the widespread confusion about the role of the
state in the anti-budget cut movement.

Let's be clear that the state, with its armed police and military forces,
carries out its brute force when peoples' consciousness begins to transcend
capitalism's ideological chokehold. What has been clearly demonstrated this
past week is that resistance to the budget cuts is a class struggle that
immediately brings us into confrontation with the force of the state.

The image of a protester violently resisting police brutality has certain
activists blaming the victims of the brutality, pleading with militant
protesters: "Why are you antagonizing them? You're only making it worse!"
It is an image that represents a political fact that we have been too slow
to acknowledge - that education sector budget cuts are a particular point of
a struggle involving the whole working class; a struggle against a crisis
that presents itself to us as an increase in the overall disciplining of the
working class; discipline which seeks to keep workers in line generating
profits - especially when we refuse to go on as normal as everything around
us falls apart. The escalation in the capitalist state's corrective violence
manifested on the UCB picket line is behind other seemingly disconnected
government actions: the murder of Oscar Grant, ICE raids, and the wars in
the Middle East. Behind every policy is an army of police.

The occupation of Wheeler Hall at UCB last Friday was a testament to the
value of confrontational tactics. The common fear that a bold,
confrontational action will look ridiculous and isolate the movement is
proven to be out of date. Thousands of students played a spontaneously
active role fighting the fee hikes and budget cuts. This action was
incredibly democratic, inspiring, and educational because it materially
mobilized the power of the people present at general assemblies held the day
before. The occupation and the struggle to support it acted as a teachable
moment by highlighting the farce that is the capitalist, liberal-democratic

The liberal-democratic state is a tool of the capitalist class, a means of
bourgeois rule that by definition we, the working class, are shut out of.
The question is: how do we resist government policies from our position
completely outside the official, "democratic" framework of the state? In the
campus movement, the two primary answers to this question have been popular
organizing (general assemblies) and militant resistance (occupations). What
happened last week at university campuses across California was a step
toward a synthesis of these two approaches. UCB's occupation was approved at
a general assembly. This is a good development, but as this synthesis is
reached a new contradiction presents itself: what is the role of the
education sector (especially university students) in generalizing this wave
of campus resistance towards including the rest of the working class? What
active steps can students take to introduce the practice of militant
struggle independent of ruling class structures?

Student Uprisings

For three days throughout California universities engaged in militant
struggle. UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, SF State, and Fresno
State all had mass protests, strikes, and building occupations. On Wednesday
November 18, over 100 SF State students protested and then occupied their
administration's building for hours.

On the same day UC Berkeley students rallied with close to a thousand
students, and marched downtown attempting to draw out Berkeley High students
and Berkeley City College students; they had little success, largely due to
a lack of preparatory organizing. The march returned to UC Berkeley and
hundreds of students surrounded the administration building.

Hours later students occupied the architecture and engineering building,
with a supportive crowd defending the occupation. The occupiers agreed to
show their IDs to police and were released without arrest.

The next day, UCLA erupted in struggle as the UC regents voted to approve a
32% tuition increase. Protests took place throughout the day, including
multiple confrontations with police and arrests. As the UC regents tried to
leave the meeting, their vehicle was surrounded and stopped by angry student

The regents had to be escorted out of the campus in ambulances. Campbell
hall was also occupied and renamed the Carter-Huggins building after two
slain LA Black Panthers.

Friday, the day after, on November 20, UC Berkeley erupted in mass struggle.
Over 40 individuals occupied Wheeler Hall the night before demanding among
other things the rehire of the 32 laid-off UC Berkeley workers and political
amnesty for the occupiers. Up to 1,500 students, workers and community folk
surrounded the building's six major entrances to make sure the police, who
controlled the space immediately in front of and around Wheeler Hall, could
not arrest the occupiers and send them to jail. The students held down
militant picket-lines, blocking the police each time they tried to break the

This demonstrates that a militant occupation can only be successful with a
powerful critical mass supporting it from the outside; otherwise its
isolation will lead to failure and repression. The opposite can also be
said: having a quantitatively large protest doesn't automatically correlate
to challenging the property relations of the system.

The crowd didn't dissipate in the rain or leave despite long hours of
duration. Later that evening, the occupiers were finally released with
misdemeanor citations. The original demands were not met, but hundreds of
students and community folk experienced and coordinated a day of struggle
against the police and the UC administration. When the occupiers left the
building they told the mass crowd that they were the real heroes because
without them nothing would have happened. This embryonic awareness that
confrontational action only works as part of a mass struggle is the
beginning of a deep change in political consciousness of the anti-budget cut

These protests represent a political eruption in a time when militant
struggle is bubbling up to the surface. It's becoming progressively clearer
that proposing such militancy is not premature, as some Trotskyist groups
argued prior to the UCB occupation, but also prove that it isn't wise to
push heroic yet isolated occupation attempts as some anarchists do. We have
witnessed the first convergence of occupation with mass protest and observed
the fiery radical effect the synthesis has had on its participants. The
only way to challenge society's problems is to first understand that the
rich and powerful will stop at nothing. Capital brings only impoverishment
for our class while their class accumulates incredible amounts of wealth.
Our struggle has to win by beating back and altering the relationship of
class forces, which will not be easy. But this recent wave of occupations
and militant protests throughout California represent a new cycle of
struggle that gives hope and insight to such a possibility in the near
future. The question now is will the public sector working class, school
workers, janitors, K-12 teachers, bus drivers, BART workers, and city
employees join this struggle? If radical isolated students throughout the
UCs continue to fight, without public sector workers taking these struggles
into their own hands, the student struggle will reach a limit and eventually
decline in energy and momentum.

Spread the Rebellion

The wave of occupations that spread on November 18th-20th and the massive
student support of them shows a quantitative growth in the struggle by sheer
numbers of participants, but more importantly it demonstrates a qualitative
growth in the anti-budget cut struggle due to the deepening of student
militancy. So far, however, this militant consciousness has failed to
transcend the education sector. Why haven't the Republic Windows and Doors
occupation and the 2006 May 1st general strike for immigrant rights become a
generalized trend across the working-class as a whole? The US working-class
has gone so long without mass struggle that they lack the fruits that
struggle produces: theory, organization, and confidence.

Students can play a catalytic role by approaching the working-class with
traditional forms of political propaganda (direct agitation) and the
propaganda of the deed, as recently demonstrated at UCB. Students who become
radicalized should study the history of working-class struggle but don't
need to be experts before they can start talking to workers about the need
for struggle on a larger scale. This should be an easy thing to do because
most public higher education students come from working class backgrounds,
go to community colleges and CSU's and have jobs. Their agitation can start
at the spaces they already find themselves in such as their own work places
and school campuses, but should extend into other work places and

Agitation should center on building class-consciousness generally, and
building for a mass strike on March 4th specifically. It is clear that the
conditions exist for every school and perhaps every public institution to
form political committees composed of workers, students and teachers that
attempt to organize their workplaces and schools for militant struggle in
general and a strike on March 4thin particular. Unions will pass watered
down resolutions for March 4th, which is a positive development, but
rank-and-file militants are the key link in motivating the majority of their
coworkers to take political responsibility for the strike building process
to reach its radical, creative potential. Unions cannot do this for the
workers. It is commonly perceived by most left groups that the problem with
unions lies with a flawed union leadership, ignoring how the political
structure of unions have been vertically integrated into the state apparatus
since the 1947 passing of the Taft-Hartley act. The development of these
committees will be interlinked with the development of such rank-file
militant workers who can think and act beyond legalistic unionism. With that
said, budget cut "organizing" can mean many things, but the politics of such
organizing should have a clear vision, avoiding both centrism and
adventurism, in order to advance the struggle.

The budget cuts facing public education are the same crisis that faces
ghettos and barrios even in the best of times. Young people who California's
public higher education system rejects due to budget cuts will find their
reflection in the swelling ranks of the unemployed, high-school dropouts,
and highly oppressed section of the working class. Class-consciousness
transcends immediate self-interest; solidarity is not sympathy - it is unity
in a common struggle. Students have a responsibility to spread news of their
own rebellion, to encourage workers to rebel, and to help build the
proletarian struggle wherever it erupts.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cockburn: Welcome to the National Asylum, 2 Peace Demo's Wednesday

Welcome to the National Asylum

Beat the Devil

By Alexander Cockburn
The Nation: October 5, 2009 edition

Was there ever a society so saturated with lunacy as ours? One expects
modulated nuttiness from the better element, particularly those inhabiting
the corporate and legislative spheres. But these days insanity is pervasive,
spreading through all classes and walks of life. For years we have been
treated to pinstriped fugitives from the asylum like Pete Peterson urging
the nation into ruin by slashing the deficit; but on September 12 in
Washington by tens of thousands were the sans-culottes screaming for fiscal
propriety as though channeling the ruinous orthodoxies of Montagu Norman or
Andrew Mellon. Many among these Glenn Beck legions were surely one stroke or
tumor away from financial ruin yet were still ready to tear any advocates of
publicly funded health insurance into tiny pieces as though they were
hawking The Communist Manifesto at a revival meeting. Inspiring, was it not,
to see such self-abnegation on the part of so many people prepared to die in
the name of free enterprise!

Many of the Glenn Beckers are "birthers" too, making delusional forays into
the supposedly dubious documentation of Barack Obama's delivery in a
hospital in Hawaii. Sometimes I think the White House should knock these
surmises on the head by releasing all relevant documents and testimonies.
But of course this would merely throw napalm on the flames. Once, when
writing some caustic remarks about the occupants of another ward in the
national asylum, the 9/11 Truthers, I suggested that the "missing people" on
the plane that hit the Pentagon had been kidnapped at an earlier stage in
the operation and flown to an air base in Louisiana--the very same air base
where George Bush briefly touched down in his erratic flight from Florida on
September 11, 2001. George Bush then personally executed the captives.

It was a satirical sally. But I swiftly received serious letters from people
vexed by the lack of detail. Where had Bush shot them? With what type of
weapon? A summary burst from a machine gun? Or a .22 bullet behind the ear?

For all too many on the left, the so-called 9/11 conspiracy remains the
magic key. If it can be turned, then history at its present impasse will be
unlocked and we can move on. For those on the racist right, aghast at the
reality of a black man (actually half-white, half-black) in the White House,
the magic key to reversing this unpleasing development is Obama's allegedly
fake Hawaiian birth certificate. Their suppositions and claims shift, but
the essence is always the same: he's alien. He has no right to be president.
And as with the Truthers, the provision of evidence rebutting their claims
is merely fuel piled on the bonfire of their insanity.

Now move from the nuttiness of his detractors to the madness of Great Ones,
in this case President Obama. His rhetoric is decorous, but the delusions
are just as ripe and far more lethal than those of the Glenn Beck
demonstrators under his window. How is one supposed to rate the rationality
of a person who wins the White House in large measure because of popular
outrage at the disastrous war in Iraq and who then instantly ratchets up
another war in Afghanistan--an enterprise for whose utter futility history
both ancient and modern offers copious testimonies?

From time to time one meets a madman in a shopping mall or at a bus stop who
approaches one with discreet confidences about his mother, the queen of
England, or about the messages beamed through the fillings in his teeth that
warn him of CIA surveillance from the plane flying 30,000 feet above his
head. It's an effort of will to remind oneself that this is a person in
disheveled mental condition and that it would be unwise to be drawn into
protracted discussion of royal lineage tracked through the Almanach de
Gotha, or to peer into jaws suddenly opened for one's inspection. Similarly,
with Obama, he advances ridiculous propositions with nutty aplomb, as when
he claimed in his speech to Congress on September 9 that his healthcare plan
was deficit-neutral. Why does he expose himself thus to well-merited
derision? Is it that Obama simply cannot bear to displease anyone--unless
they are in faraway places like Afghanistan?

Indeed, the president reached the apex of lunatic effrontery when he caused
the assembled legislators to leap to their feet in stormy applause by
pledging that "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits."
This is the same president, these are the same legislators, who are
committing billions in red ink for the war in Afghanistan and the continued
US presence in Iraq.

The 1970s are back, or so claims People magazine. I can see why. It's
nostalgia for the last sane decade in American political life, when people
assayed the state of the nation amid the embers of the '60s and of the
Vietnam War and elected politicians who passed some admirable laws. It
seemed America might totter into the warm sunlight of sanity. It was Ronald
Reagan who truly credentialed nutdom, setting the national thermostat at max
degrees F, for Fantasy. The Republican Party is now entirely populated by
mad people. Walk through the Congress and watch them babble and throw
excrement at the walls. Then survey the "good" inmates mustered in the
Democratic aisles, led by a president who at least once in the last campaign
invoked Reagan as a positive force. They're less rambunctious but just as
lethal, perhaps more so, in their depredations.

People start to go collectively crazy when they know that all the exits from
our present state into the world of constructive reason are locked. Just
think--a president elected on a huge wave of popular hope, unable to twist a
single arm in his own party; unlikely even to pass financial reform amid the
greatest wave of public hatred of Wall Street since the '30s; trying to pass
off as healthcare "reform" a gift to the insurance industry of 30 million
new customers, to be required by law to pony up insurance premiums and then
be cheated. Doesn't that make you crazy too?

About Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn has been The Nation's "Beat the Devil" columnist since
1984. He is the author or co-author of several books, including the
best-selling collection of essays Corruptions of Empire (1987), and a
contributor to many publications, from The New York Review of Books,
Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly and the Wall Street Journal to
alternative publications such as In These Times and the Anderson Valley
Advertiser. With Jeffrey St. Clair, he edits the newsletter and radical
website CounterPunch, which have a substantial world audience. more...


From: steve seal <>
Date: Nov 26, 2009 11:04 AM

Hello all,

There will be a march for World Peace on Wednesday, Dec. 2, starting at
MacArthur Park at Alvarado and Wilshire at 6:00 PM--marching down Wilshire
Bl to the Immanuel Presbyterian Church for an event (across from the UTLA
building) at 7:00 PM. It is supported by many really great people worldwide
and is the LA portion of the world march that started a few weeks ago.

Please send out the info to anyone you may think would be interested, and
come on down to the park after school



You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
Groups "PEAC" group.
To post to this group, send email to
Go to the PEAC web site at

Linda Sutton
Los Angeles, CA 818-992-5187
cell 818-419-7560 when NOT
at home number only

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless,
whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or
the holy name of liberty or democracy?
Mahatma Gandhi, "Non-Violence in Peace and War"

PDLA mailing list


From: <>

Please join me and other members of Progressive Democrats of America as
we stand with the National Lawyers Guild to protest President Obama's
expected escalation in Afghanistan. I'll see you at the Federal
Building in Westwood. Details below. Peace, Marcy Winograd

From: National Lawyers Guild LA Chapter

Date: Wednesday, December 2, 5:00 p.m.
Where: The Westwood Federal Building

Various peace groups around L.A. have called for a protest at 5:00 p.m.
at the Westwood Federal Building on the day following Obama's
announcement, likely to take place next Tuesday which case
the protest would be at 5:00 p.m. next Wednesday.

All Guild members who oppose the war in Afghanistan and/or Obama's
expected call for 34,000 more trooops for Afghanistan, are urged to
attend this protest as a participant, or as a legal observer.

National Lawyers Guild LA Chapter | 8124 West 3rd Street Suite 101 |
Los Angeles | CA | 90048

PDLA mailing list

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Birthday West Hollywood - CES Built This City on Rent Control

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 12:21 PM
Subject: Happy Birthday West Hollywood - CES Built This City on Rent Control

Coalition for Economic Survival
Coalition for Economic Survival
CES Logo
News Release
Contact: Larry Gross, CES Exec Dir
(213) 252-4411 ext. 201
West Hollywood Celebrates Its 25th Birthday
Coalition for Economic Survival, the Group
That Led the Cityhood Drive, Congratulates
the City Built on Rent Control

The Real Story Behind the Creation of the City of West Hollywood

WeHo Cityhood Campaign Kick-Off
Twenty-five years ago members of the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) rejoiced after a 7-year campaign to secure tenants' rights and preserve affordable housing in the then 1.9 square mile LA County unincorporated area of West Hollywood.
On November 29, 1984, CES members joined with other residents to pack the auditorium in West Hollywood's Plummer Park, as media from around the world covered the swearing in of West Hollywood's first City Council. Four out of the 5 being elected were on CES' Renters' Right Slate of Candidates. And while the news-media reported on that this was the first City Council with a majority of gay and lesbian elected officials, which was significant in itself, the real story was that the main reason this new city was created was to save and strengthen rent control.
The Fight to Win Rent Control
In 1979, CES led an effort to secure a rent control ordinance for LA County's unincorporated areas by a vote of the LA County Board of Supervisors. This came a year after CES' success in winning rent control in the City of Los Angeles. But in 1983, an anti-rent control conservative majority took control of the Board of Supervisors. They eventually voted to phase out County rent control on December 31, 1984.
CES first attempted to counter this by placing the only initiative measure on the LA County ballot, which was a strong rent control law. Proposition M failed in November 1983, as landlords spent millions on a fear campaign targeting homeowner voters in the outlying unincorporated areas. But in West Hollywood the measure received overwhelming (5 to 1) voter support.

WeHo Olympic Torch
West Hollywood Cityhood
Campaign Launched

This laid the electoral groundwork for CES' role in leading incorporation efforts for West Hollywood. With the County determining that West Hollywood could be a financially viable city, CES forged a unique alliance made up of gays and lesbians together with senior renters uniting around the need for tenants' rights, civil rights, and local control. CES secured a number of seats on the small West Hollywood Incorporation Committee, chaired by Ron Stone and co-chaired by CES West Hollywood Chapter chair Audrey Isser.
CES, which had a large active grassroots membership in West Hollywood, took responsibility for obtaining the required number of signatures - 25% of the area's registered voters - in order to place the cityhood measure on the ballot. Pushing to secure the measure for the November 1984 ballot in order to beat the County rent control phase-out date, CES set a County record by signing up 27% of the voters in only 52 days.
Nervous landlords and real estate lobbyists tried to deny a cityhood vote with a failed lawsuit and then by a last minute move to convince the Board of Supervisors to extend a weak version of rent control. Their moves could not stop a November 1984 cityhood vote.

The City of West Hollywood Established
The process also required voters to choose the first five members to serve on the City Council if the incorporation was approved. CES developed a slate of candidates as CES' Renters' Rights Team, which was a reflection of the gay/lesbian, senior and renter community. On November 6, 1984 West Hollywood cityhood and all but one of CES' Renters Rights slate, out of a field of 40 candidates, were approved by voters. At the first City Council meeting the Council unanimously voted to freeze rents and place moratoriums on evictions, demolitions, development and condo conversions until the city developed its own rent control law. The Council also voted to prohibit all forms of sexual discrimination based on sexual orientation.

WeHo Sign History in the Making &
Lessons to be Learned
This was only the beginning. In its 25-year history, West Hollywood has provided leadership in the state and the nation on progressive legislation, such as on LGBT issues, HIV/AIDS, gun violence, domestic violence, women's issues and animal cruelty.
In reflecting on CES' historic work, Larry Gross, CES Executive Director stated, "The success in West Hollywood serves as an important example for tenants in the Los Angeles area and across the nation. When you organize people and bring them together and empower them through their involvement, that's where real change is going to occur. That's where things that matter and impact people are going to happen. This effort must serve as a lesson in people's power for generations to come. West Hollywood was created by an organized grassroots effort. It is a city built on rent control. I am so very proud that CES played such a crucial role and was a determining factor in the creation of the City of West Hollywood."

514 Shatto Place, Suite 270  Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel: 213-252-4411 * Fax: 213-252-4422
Web site:
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

A True Thanksgiving, Dear President Obama

Hungering for a True Thanksgiving

By Amy Goodman
Truthdig: Nov 17, 2009

"In the next 60 seconds, 10 children will die of hunger," says a United
Nations World Food Programme (WFP) online video. It continues, "For the
first time in humanity, over 1 billion people are chronically hungry."

The WFP launched the Billion for a Billion campaign this week, urging the 1
billion people who use the Internet to help the billion who are hungry. But
if you think that hunger is far from our shores, here is some food for
thought ... and action: The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report
Monday stating that in 2008 one in six households in the U.S. was "food
insecure," the highest number since the figures were first gathered in 1995.

Economist Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the
Hidden Battle for the World's Food System," told me he was "gobsmacked" by
the U.S. hunger numbers, which he finds appalling: "The reason that we have
this huge increase in hunger in the United States, as around the world, isn't
because there isn't enough food around. Actually, we produced a pretty
reliable solid crop last year. ... The reason people go hungry is because of

In addition to the online campaign, the United Nations is hosting the World
Summit on Food Security in Rome this week, hoping to unite world leaders on
the cause of eliminating hunger. Patel remarked on the U.N. summit, "They're
making all the right sounds about hunger around the world, but as some of
the activists outside that summit are saying, poor people can't eat

Almost 700 people from 93 countries, many of whom are small-scale food
producers, have gathered outside the U.N. summit. They are there in behalf
of the People's Food Sovereignty Forum, and they are pushing for
small-scale, organic, sustainable food-sovereignty and food-security
programs, as opposed to large-scale agribusiness with its dependence on
genetically modified organisms and chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Michelle Obama said last March when planting the White House's organic
kitchen garden, "It is so important for them [children] to get regular
fruits and vegetables in their diets, because it does have nutrients, it
does make you strong, it is all brain food." The first lady of the U.S. made
the point that a homegrown, organic garden is a sustainable and affordable
way to strengthen family food security.

This has led some to wonder, then, why her husband has appointed Islam
Siddiqui to be the U.S. chief agricultural negotiator. Siddiqui is currently
vice president for science and regulatory affairs for CropLife America, the
main pesticide industry trade association. According to the Pesticide Action
Network of North America, "This position will enable him to keep pushing
chemical pesticides, inappropriate biotechnologies, and unfair trade
arrangements on nations that do not want and can least afford them." It was
CropLife's mid-America division that circulated an e-mail to industry
members after Michelle Obama's garden announcement, saying, "While a garden
is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife
Ambassador Coordinator, and I shudder."

Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization, engaged in a 24-hour hunger strike over the weekend, before
the food security summit kicked off. He said in a statement, "We have the
technical means and the resources to eradicate hunger from the world so it
is now a matter of political will, and political will is influenced by
public opinion." Diouf has estimated that it would take $44 billion per year
to end hunger globally, compared with the less than $8 billion pledged
recently to that goal. Juxtapose those numbers with the amount being spent
by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the U.S. has
spent on average about $265 million per day in Afghanistan since the
invasion of that country in 2001 (which is a much lower estimate than that
provided by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and others). Even
at that rate, five months of military spending by the U.S. would meet Diouf's
goal, and that would be if the U.S. were the sole contributor.

Consider pausing this Thanksgiving, which for many in the U.S. is a major
feast, to reflect on the 10 children who die of hunger every minute, and how
your elected officials are spending hundreds of billions in public funds on

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio
news hour airing on more than 800 stations in North America. She is the
author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback.


From: Sid Shniad
Subject: Open letter to Barack Obama from the founders of Military Families
Speak Out

November 23, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

As you prepare to announce a new strategy for Afghanistan that could mean
deploying tens of thousands more of our loved ones to fight a war with no
foreseeable end, we call on you to terminate the military occupations of
Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our troops home now, and ensure they get the
care they need when they return. We urge you to stop billions more from
being misspent overseas to misuse young men and women and instead utilize
those funds to help overcome the pressing domestic issues of our time; a
growing population of veterans suffering from post traumatic stress
disorder, a fractured health care system, and a woeful economic climate all
desperately demand your attention and action.

Our family is intimately connected to these issues. My husband, Charley
Richardson is slowly but surely dying of an aggressive, metastatic cancer,
and dealing regularly with the fractured and overstressed medical system. He
also lost his job of twenty years at a state university last April as a
result of recession-related budget cuts. And our son served one deployment
in Iraq as a Marine and was sent to Afghanistan twice after he joined the
private army of contractors that is so central to the war efforts in both
Iraq and Afghanistan. We are acutely aware of how political will has been so
wrongly misdirected toward military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
instead of achieving economic recovery and sorely needed healthcare reform
at home.

We were fortunate. Our son returned to us in good physical health and we
were able to hold him in our arms and not just keep him in our hearts. So
many of our friends within the organization we co-founded, Military Families
Speak Out, have not shared this outcome. Their loved ones returned in
flag-draped coffins; or with life-altering physical wounds; or with the
hidden, often deadly, psychological injuries of war.

We hope you will think again about the faces of the families that you saw
when you were at Dover, and the faces that won't be seen again, hidden in
caskets and arriving under the cloak of darkness. We know you are concerned
about the unfair burden that this war is placing on a relatively small
portion of our population, and the burden that will continue for decades to
come. Suicides in the Army have hit a record high. Our returned troops
should be re-building their lives rather than seeing depression, violence,
divorce and suicide tear those lives apart. The bombs of these wars are
indeed exploding at home.

The people of the United States don't want these wars. Even without a draft,
even as we deficit fund the wars, they don't want them. Public opposition
continues to grow, with 57 percent opposing the war in Afghanistan,
according to a recent Associated Press poll. The latest CNN poll found that
49 percent of Americans favored reducing the number of troops in
Afghanistan -- with 28 percent saying they should all be withdrawn
immediately -- compared to less than 40 percent who want to send more.
Imagine what the polls would tell us if the burden of the wars, financial
and service, were actually shouldered and shared throughout our nation.

The American people want safety and security, as do the people of Iraq and
Afghanistan. But we don't believe these wars are helping to achieve these
goals. The more we bring bombs and guns into Afghanistan, the more civilian
casualties there are and the more our troops are seen as occupiers rather
than liberators.

We put the same challenge before you now that we put in front of President
Bush and in front of Senators and Members of Congress. Consider the options
available to you as if the lives of your loved ones hang in the balance.
Consider if it were your daughters being deployed, would you be so quick to
stay, or escalate, the course?

Please do not be the one to dash our hope for an end to these wars; for the
swift and safe return of our troops; and for a new foreign policy that truly
respects the lives of our service members who volunteer to put themselves in
harm's way, as well as the lives of children, women and men of other
countries who are caught in the crossfire.

Please continue to build hope in the world. Send no more troops. Bring our
troops home now.

In Peace,

Charley Richardson and Nancy Lessin

Co-Founders, Military Families Speak Out

Military Families Speak Out ( is an organization of over 4,000
families with loved ones who serve or served in the military over the last
eight years, and who are speaking out to end the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. MFSO was founded in November, 2002 and is the largest
organization of military families speaking out against wars in the history
of this country.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanking Indigenous People for the Food We Eat


Thanking Indigenous People for the Food We Eat

By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq.
Organic Consumers Association: November 24, 2009

This Thanksgiving, the Organic Consumers Association gives thanks to the
indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere for their contributions to

75% of the food crops grown in the world today were first cultivated by
Native Americans. These include corn, beans, peanuts, cotton, potatoes,
tomatoes, chili peppers, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries,
squashes, black walnuts, pecans, chocolate, tobacco, rubber, and sunflowers.

In "Pristine Nature: The Founding Falsehood," Steven H. Rich explains that
the New World that European colonists believed was a miraculous wilderness
was actually a "human-created landscape full of food and useful plants":

Native Americans had managed the woodlands and grasslands to produce native
game animals, native birds and fish, berries, nuts, greens, fruits, bulbs,
corns, mushrooms, roots, basketry and cordage materials, firewood,
weapon-making and building materials, medicines and ceremonially important
plants. Many 'wild' native plants that exist today are in fact the products
of ancient Native American genetic selection and propagation projects that
favored better-tasting and more useful varieties. Popular belief that
pre-Columbian America was a "pristine wilderness" is false and based on
racist stereotypes that reduce the highly successful and extremely
intelligent adaptations and achievements of Native American societies to the
instinctual behavior of wildlife or "nobel savages in a state of nature."
Native American elders remember better times. "The white man sure ruined
this country," said Southern Sierra Miwok elder Jim Rust. "It's turned back
to wilderness. In the old days there used to be lots more game: deer, quail,
gray squirrels and rabbits." There are no "spontaneous Edens" on earth. The
New World paradises were created by the sweat of millions of Native
Americans caring for their land. Today, indigenous farmers remain the
custodians of an immeasurable wealth of biodiversity.

4,200 Years of Farming on the Colorado Plateau

On the Colorado Plateau farming has been an unbroken cultural tradition for
at least 4200 years. The Navajo, Zuni, Apache, Hopi, Paiute and Tewa have
cultivated the most diverse annual crop assemblage in the New World north of
the Tropic of Cancer. Some of the very same fields documented as cultivated
four centuries ago by Zuni (and perhaps by Hopi) remain in use today,
without soil erosion, nutrient depletion or salination noticeably
diminishing their food producing capacity.

The 30 ecosystem types on the Colorado Plateau collectively harbor some
2,500 vertebrate species, well over 1,100 invertebrate species, and over
16,000 plant species. Despite the Anglo-American bias of assuming that this
diversity is associated with "pristine" landscapes, it is more likely due to
the traditional land use practices of the people who have managed the
landscape for centuries. For instance, of the Colorado Plateau's 300-some
endemic plants, roughly 2/3 (188) have been kept in fields, orchards and
corrals by the region's indigenous farmers and ranchers.

You can learn more about the Little Colorado River Watershed (Arizona, USA)
on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation's Globally
Important Agricultural Heritage Systems site.

Today, the indigenous people of the Colorado Plateau are passing their
agricultural traditions to a new generation. In September, students at Zuni
High School won two first-place and two third-place ribbons at the New
Mexico State Fair. The student's state fair entries included produce from
the horticulture class's "waffle gardens," a traditional Zuni method of
garden construction consisting of a series of parallel, square or
rectangular depressions dug into the ground, creating a waffle-like pattern
that maximizes use of water.

Students from the STAR School, located just off the Navajo Reservation near
Leupp, Ariz., and residents of the Village of Hotevilla on the Hopi
Reservation created a gardening project where students learn food and
farming traditions by helping Hopi elders tend their gardens.

The Wayana's Cultivated Eden

The farming system of Wayana society of French Guyana is based on shifting
cultivation, with a characteristically high agrobiodiversity. Agriculture
forms part of a complex system of activities taking place within the habitat
where Wayana obtain a significant portion of their subsistence requirements
through gathering, fishing and hunting. In fact, there is not a clear limit
between cultivated and wild area, which can be considered as a single

The Milpa System and 20,000 Varieties of Corn Milpa is the most evolved
farming system in the world. It create relatively large yields of food crops
without the use of artificial pesticides or fertilizers, and is
self-sustaining. Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally
complementary. Maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the
body needs to make proteins and niacin, beans have both lysine and
tryptophan, and squashes provide an array of vitamins. The milpa, in
maintaining soil fertility, providing a variety of healthy foods, and
limiting environmental impacts of food production, may well be one of the
most successful human inventions ever created. There are over 20,000
varieties of corn in Mexico and Central America. In southern and central
Mexico, approximately 5,000 varieties have been identified. In one village
in Oaxaca, researchers found 17 different environments where 26 varieties of
corn were growing. Each variety has been cultivated to adapt to elevation
levels, soil acidity, sun exposure, soil type, and rainfall.

Andean Agriculture (Peru)

"In the Andean region, generations of farmers have domesticated thousands of
potato varieties. Even today, farmers cultivate up to 50 varieties on their
farms. In the biodiversity reserve of the Chiloé archipelago in Chile, local
people cultivate about 200 varieties of native potato. They use farming
practices transmitted orally by generations of mainly women farmers."

Potato and Biodiversity, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and FAO's Plant
Production and Protection Division, 2008

"A long list of cultural and agriculture treasures from the Inca
civilization has been carefully preserved and improved over centuries to
guarantee living conditions over 4000 meters above sea level.

"One of the most amazing features of this heritage is the terracing system
used to control land degradation. Terraces allow cultivation in steep slops
and different altitudes. From a range of 2800 to 4500 meters, three main
agricultural systems can be found: maize is cultivated in the lower areas,
potato mainly at medium altitudes. Above 4,000 meters the areas are mostly
used as rangeland, but can still be cultivated with high altitude crops as
well. In the high plateau, around Lake Titicaca, farmers dig trenches
(called "sukakollos") around their fields. These trenches are filled with
water, which is warmed by sunlight. When temperatures drop at night, the
water gives off warm steam that serves as frost protection for several
varieties of potato and other native crops, such as quinoa."

Chiloé Agriculture (Chile)

The Archipelago of Chiloé, in the south of Chile, is one of the center of
origin of potatoes and is an extraordinary biodiversity reserve: its
temperate rainforests hold a wide range of endangered plant and animal
species. The Chilotes –Huilliche indigenous populations and Mestize– still
cultivate about 200 varieties of native potatoes, following ancestral
practices transmitted orally by generations of farmers, mostly women.

Chiloe Island is one of the centers of origin of crop diversity.

It is a centre of origin of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), and a centre of
mango (Bromus mango) and strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis). Some 200
documented varieties of native potatoes are still managed today, together
with a variety of garlic (Ajo chilote) that is unique to the islands and its
volcanic soils.

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Hayden on Afghanistan, Hitting the Brakes, Record Army Suicides

From: Becca Wilson
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 10:06 PM

Press release on Afghanistan from Tom Hayden

The president's proposed Afghanistan policy is not a product of intelligent
rethinking so much as it is a predictable Obama preference for an imaginary

On the one hand, he is sending 30,000 more American troops, who have been
dying at a current rate of more than 500 per year.

On the other hand, he is attempting to placate growing anti-war sentiment by
pledging to limit the duration of the war.

As with all compromises, this one will satisfy only the few. It is what
President Bill Clinton called kicking the can down the street.

The antiwar movement will continue to support Rep. Barbara Lee's bill
cutting off funds for the troop escalation and Rep. Jim McGovern's
resolution calling for the administration to offer an exit strategy.

Sending 30,000 or more American soldiers to die for the Karzai government is
a waste of valuable American lives, which at the present rate will exceed
1,000 in two years of bloody battles under President Obama. Spending one
million dollars per American soldier will mean a waste of one trillion
dollars on this war by the end of the President's term of eight years.

These costs in human lives and tax dollars are simply unsustainable.

The president is tragically jeopardizing his domestic agenda by this
expenditure of tax dollars without any tax increases. Like President Johnson
before him, President Obama is squandering any hope for his progressive
domestic agenda by this tragic escalation of the war.

As I committed myself during Vietnam, I am committing myself to do
everything possible to turn our nation's priorities around and make
President Obama's domestic agenda a possibility. Just as President Johnson
could not pay for guns and butter, President Obama cannot possibly pay for
Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Pentagon's projection of a "long war" of
fifty years duration.

I am afraid to say that President Obama is even risking his presidency by
this decision. From this point forward, he will lack the support of the rank
and file Democratic majority and become dependent on the very Republicans
whose highest priority is to defeat him in 2012.


Hitting the Brakes on Afghanistan

By John Feffer
Foreign Policy in Focus: 11/23/09

Imagine finding yourself in the driver's seat of a car heading directly at a
brick wall. You panic: What to do?

Fortunately, there are three people in the car with you, and they all have
very firm advice. The person in the passenger seat tells you to push the
pedal to the metal. Right behind you in the back seat, your friend is urging
you to accelerate only modestly. And the fourth person in the car recommends
that you maintain your current speed.

You might be thinking: These are my only choices? I'll hit the brick wall
either really quickly, rather quickly, or pretty darn soon. The end result
will be the same. The car will be destroyed and all four of you will be in
the hospital.

Since these are the choices now being presented to President Barack Obama
for his Afghanistan policy, who can blame him for being slow to make up his
mind? His top general is telling him to send 40,000 troops. His vice
president is telling him to send 10-15,000 troops. And his secretary of
state and Pentagon chief are urging the middle course of 30,000 troops.

Isn't anyone out there telling the president that he has more levers at his
disposal than simply the gas pedal? Isn't anyone pointing out the obvious?

The brake, Mr. President, the brake!

Frankly, the car metaphor isn't precise. It's actually a bus heading toward
that brick wall. A really, really big bus. And we're all on board, the
entire U.S. population. The president's advisors are all clustered up at the
front. Their voices are pretty loud. But we can all make our voices heard if
we all shout together from the back of the bus.Call the White House at
202-456-1111 and keep the message simple: Don't send more troops to
Afghanistan, Mr. President.

Peace groups around the country are coordinating this call-in campaign in
these few days before Thanksgiving so that the president knows, before the
expected announcement of his Afghanistan policy next week, that there are
other choices. Here's a link to some additional talking points about
different congressional options.

"It is unlikely that we will soon have another president with the moral and
rhetorical force to talk us out of a foolish commitment that cannot be
sustained without shame and defeat," writes Garry Wills in The New York
Review of Books. "If it costs him his presidency, what other achievement can
match it? During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama said he would
rather be a one-term president than give up on his goals. Here is a goal no
other president we can imagine would have a possibility of reaching.
Presidents who just kick the can down the road are easy to come by. Lost
lives and limbs are not."

The crash can be avoided. But we must call the White House and let the
driver-in-chief know that we're here, we're clear, and we don't want this
war no more.


US Army Suicides Hit New Record

Washington, Nov 18 (Prensa Latina) Suicide rates among US soldiers matched
the 140 record of 2008, and 42 in the Navy alone, Vice Chief of Staff, Lt.
Gen. Peter Chiarelli told USA Today.

The release coincides with President Barack Obama plans of sending fresh
troops to Afghanistan, so the numbers could further soar if the aid programs
are not effective.

One third of the victims were war vets from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering
brain injuries and PTS in non-combat missions.

Los Angeles, California
Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Seattle goes to Copenhagen, Corrupting Ourselves

From: "Grace Lee Boggs" <>
Reply-To: "Grace Lee Boggs" <>

 "Seattle" Goes To Copenhagen
By Grace Lee Boggs
Ten years ago in the "Battle of Seattle," more than 50,000 Americans. Including steel workers, women, people of color, environmentalists, and just plain citizens, closed down the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle because they recognized that We, the People, can no longer depend upon the U.S. government to protect us from global corporations bent on turning all our human relationships into commercial relationships.

Small affinity groups were also created by the diverse participants in the historic action to assure that decisions were made democratically.

The success of the November-December 1999 Battle of Seattle inspired the World Social Forum (WSF) movement, begun at Porte Alegre in 2001, to proclaim that "Another World is Necessary! Another World is Possible! Another World is Already Happening!" The WSF movement brought together people from all over the world to successive gatherings in Porte Alegre and Mumbai. In turn the WSF inspired the United States Social Forum (USSF) movement which held its first gathering in Atlanta in 2007 and will bring 20,000 people to Detroit for the 2nd USSF in June 2010.

A few weeks from now representatives of 192 nations will gather in Copenhagen for the Climate Change Conference convened by the United Nations so that governments can pledge the emissions reductions necessary to stem the global warming threatening the extinction of all life on our Planet.

Meanwhile, over the last few years it has become abundantly clear, especially from the actions of the U.S., the world's leading emitter of climate altering gases, that we can no longer depend upon governments, even relatively progressive ones like Obama's, to stop global warming. They are all too beholden both to the corporations, most responsible for pollution, and to the World Bank, most responsible for fossil-fuel financing. The best that can be expected of them are terribly weak targets and market mechanisms like carbon trading that appease polluting capitalists.

As a result, activists from around the world are preparing to gather at Copenhagen to make clear that the people, and not governments, are now the only ones who can preserve Life on Earth.

It is a sign of the revolutionary movements of our time that the most contentious issue at the Copenhagen Summit is the moral responsibility of the people of the Global North to the people of the Global South.

Because of our consumerist/materialist lifestyle, we, the people of the Global North, are the ones most responsible for environmental degradation and climate change. But it is the peoples of the Global South who suffer the worst consequences of our irresponsibility. UN experts, for example, predict that 90% of the African peasantry will be out of business by 2100 due to drought, floods, extreme weather events, disease and the resulting political instability.

The 2009 Climate Change Vulnerability Index lists 22 African countries out of 28 at "extreme risk," whereas the United States is near the bottom of the world rankings of countries at risk, even though it is the leading per capita contributor to climate change.

Restorative Justice demands that those most responsible for global warming should pay climate reparations.

On September 2, the World Council of Churches (WCC) members adopted a formal statement on the North's "deep moral obligation to promote ecological justice by addressing our debts to peoples most affected by ecological destruction and to the earth itself."

University of KwaZulu-Natal honorary professor Dennis Brutus has proposed that we "Seattle" Copenhagen.
African Union insiders, he says, should work with massed protesters outside to prevent the North from doing a deal in its interests and against Africa's and the planet's.

This kind of "Seattle Goes to Copenhagen" organizing is what we need in the age of Obama. The activists at Seattle in 1999 and at Copenhagen in 2009 represent the Sovereign People of the world establishing the Justice which flows from the Humanity we share on Planet Earth.

Corrupting Ourselves
By Shea Howell

This week Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Unsurprisingly the report concluded that public sector corruption in Afghanistan has worsened over the past two years. Afghanistan is now considered to be more corrupt than any other country in the world except for Somalia.
"Examples of corruption range from public posts for sale and justice for a price to daily bribing for basic services," the watchdog group said of Afghanistan. "This, along with the exploding opium trade-which is also linked to corruption-contributes to the downward trend in the country's CPI score."
The CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating high levels of corruption, and 10 indicating low ones. Over the last three years of the 180 countries ranked, Somalia has come in last, this time with a score of 1.1.
Afghanistan had the second worst ranking at 1.3. Over the last three years Afghanistan's scores have been worsening. In 2007 it rated at 1.8 and in 2008 at 1.5.
In assessing the levels of corruption around the world the report notes "Fragile, unstable states that are scarred by war and ongoing conflict linger at the bottom of the index."
The widely respected Transparency International report brings additional pressure on the Afghan government. On Monday President Karzai announced he would form a new anti-corruption unit to investigate high-level graft. However, Karzai has formed such committees before, with no effect. This time, under intense pressure from the U.S., the new anti-corruption unit will be part of the Attorney General's department and would be able to prosecute public corruption cases involving government officials and other major crimes. Prosecutors would be trained by EU police as well as by Britain and U.S. forces.
Much of the corruption is associated with the opium trade, a business that Karzai and his top allies are fully engaged in supporting. President Karzai and his Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilawal refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for the corruption, saying that Western countries must share much of the blame because of their mismanagement of billions of dollars in aid.
While much of this is posturing by President Karzai to protect himself, he raises an often overlooked reality. War not only corrupts those "fragile, unstable states that are scarred by war." War corrupts those who wage it.
On the same day that Transparency International released its CPI, major news sources reported on a Kuwaiti company accused of defrauding the U.S. of tens of millions of dollars by exaggerating the cost of providing food to troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. Prosecutors charged the Public Warehouse Company with six counts of fraud, saying it had "grossly overcharged" the military.
Last week Blackwater, now Xe, the US security company implicated in some of the deadliest killings in Iraq, was accused of paying $1 million in bribes to buy the silence of Iraqi officials in order to protect its contracts. KBR, the largest contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, improperly billed the Pentagon $103 million for armed security guards and is currently resisting paying back the money owed.
War has always made money for a few.
But there is a deeper corruption that affects all of us. War becomes a way to justify, endure, ignore and ultimately accept brutality towards one another. Under phrases like "acceptable costs" and "collateral damage," we hide from ourselves the actions we engage in that reflect the worst human beings are capable of doing to one another. There is no easy index to the corruption of our own souls as we allow such wars to continue.

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