|Progressive Calendar 01.03.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 10:09:25 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.03.07 1. MN budget/women 1.03 12noon 2. Welfare rights 1.03 12noon 3. Immigrant/arts 1.03 12noon 4. Full moon walk 1.03 7pm 5. Somali youth 1.04 1:30pm late word - POSTPONED!! 6. Eagan peace vigil 1.04 4:30pm 7. Northtown vigil 1.04 5pm 8. Small is beautiful 1.04 5pm 9. Ground Truth/f 1.04 7pm 10. John Stanton - US leaders promise more pain & destruction 11. Jonathan Weisman - Left activists seek bolder approach to war, spying 12. Chris Hedges - America's holy warriors --------1 of 12-------- From: erin [at] mnwomen.org Subject: MN budget/women 1.03 12noon Minnesota Women's Consortium Today, Wednesday, January 3: The Consortium hosts a Brown Bag discussion reviewing the state budget process and the budget's effects on women, on the opening day of the 2007 legislative session. Noon-1PM at the Women's Building. RSVPs are always appreciated. --------2 of 12-------- From: Welfare Rights Committee - Alt Email <welfarerights [at] qwest.net> Subject: Welfare rights 1.03 12noon JOIN the MN Welfare Rights Coalition and the Welfare Rights Committee at the Opening Day Rally on the Capital Steps Wednesday, January 3, 2007 12 noon MN State Capitol, Front Steps Stand up & Fight Back! with the Welfare Rights Committee and MN Welfare Rights Coalition this 2007 Legislative Session. WRC and our supporters will again be a visible force at the capital to protect programs for poor and working families of MN. We will keep the pressure on the politicians and the Governor so that we can stop the attacks on poor, undo all cuts from 2003, and to make sure the agenda of poor and working people are heard! Download the flyer from Welfare Rights Committee's website: http://www.welfarerightsmn.org/resources/Flyer1-3-2007.pdf http://www.welfarerightsmn.org/ Some of the items that we will fighting for: 1. Raise the Welfare Grants. 2. Stop Workfare/Slave Labor 3. Undo Cuts to Welfare. 4. Stop the Five Year Time Clock. 5. Stop Attacks on Immigrants 6. Childcare: Undo Co-pays and Increase Eligibility 7. Stop MA Co-pays Groups can still endorse MN Welfare Rights Coalition's opening day rally! TO ENDORSE THE OPENING DAY CALL 612-822-8020 TO FAX YOUR ENDORSEMENT, FAX TO 612-824-3604 TO EMAIL YOUR ENDORSEMENT, EMAIL welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com INITIAL ENDORSERS INCLUDE: Low Income People Organizing for Power-Duluth, Alliance of the Streets, Somali Justice Advocacy Center, Twin Cities Peace Campaign Focus on Iraq, Jobs Now Coalition, SAACP; Anti-War Committee; State of MN Council on Black Minnesotans; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789; St. Paul NAACP;Women Against Military Madness, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Woman's Political Alliance, Anti-War Organizing League, St. Joan of ARC/WAMM Peace Makers, Community Stabilization Project For more information contact the Welfare Rights Committee and Minnesota Welfare Rights Coalition 310 E 38th St #207, Minneapolis, MN 55409 pho: 612-822-8020 Fax: 612-824-3604 welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com www.welfarerightsmn.org --------3 of 12-------- From: Jim Pounds <jim [at] intermediaarts.org> Subject: Immigrant/arts 1.03 12noon Intermedia Arts presents Immigrant Status: Contributions Brown Bag Dialogues with International Artists How does art heal? How do immigrant artists demystify culture and religion through their art? How do art and religion affect the social, cultural, economic, political aspects of our communities? Spend your lunch hour in the newly renamed Sandy Agustín Gallery at Intermedia Arts, discussing Art and Healing and Art and Religion with two featured gallery artists: Dr. Niccu Taffarodi (Iran) and Koffi Mbairamadji (Chad). On December 13, 2006 and January 3, 2007, Intermedia Arts hosts two Brown Bag Dialogues designed to examine the intersections between life and art from a world perspective. These Brown Bag Dialogues are part of Immigrant Status, a four-year multidisciplinary arts series that sheds light on the many variations of the new immigrant experience. Koffi Mbairamadji, a native of Chad, started his paintings years ago as a habit, then it turned into an interest and then, part of his daily life. He uses several sources of inspiration such as the Bible and nature, which he sees as "God's fingerprints." Koffi was introduced to Intermedia Arts when he was selected as a featured artist in the first edition of Immigrant Status: Ndimgbe. He has been a part of numerous art shows in the Twin Cities. Koffi's talents reach out beyond the visual arts. He is editing an independent film that he wrote, directed and produced entitled "Le Mediateur", and has designed a children's book entitled African Savannah Stories. WHEN/WHERE: Art and Religion featuring Koffi Mbairamadji (Co-curator; Immigrant Status 2007) Wednesday, January 3, 2006 12-1 PM at Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis All Brown Bag Dialogues are free and open to the public. ABOUT IMMIGRANT STATUS On September 28, 2006 Intermedia Arts opened a new gallery exhibit entitled Contributions. This exhibit honors the creative contributions of the many visual, performing, media and literary artists who now call Minnesota home. Contributions is the fourth and final installment of Immigrant Status, which was created in response to the loss experienced by Minnesota's immigrant community following the death of Senator Paul Wellstone. The project uses the arts to explore the impact of current policies and conditions on new immigrants (defined here as having lived in the United States for 25 years or less). Immigrant Status: Contributions was created by, for and about new immigrant artists, curators, and community leaders. Funding for Immigrant Status generously provided by The Wallace Foundation, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, Bush Foundation, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Intermedia Arts is a catalyst that builds understanding among people through art. CONTACT: Jim Pounds 612.874.2817 jim [at] intermediaarts.org www.intermediaarts.org --------4 of 12-------- From: Susu Jeffrey <susujeffrey [at] msn.com> Subject: Full moon walk 1.03 7pm New Year's Full Moon Walk Around the Coldwater Area Wednesday, January 3, 2007 Gather 7 PM, Walk 7:15 PM Theme: Resolutions 1) Peace 2) Get more exercise 3) . Traditional Group Howl Meet: at the South end of Minnehaha Park. From Hwy 55/Hiawatha turn East (toward the Mississippi) at 54th Street and circle around to your left into the pay parking lot. Sunset 4:44 PM Moonrise 4:40 PM --------5 of 12-------- From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at] msn.com> Subject: Somali youth 1.04 1:30pm I wanted you to know that the Civil Rights Department with be presenting a Report on Somali Youth Issues to the Health, Energy and Environment Committee meeting on January 4th, 1:30 pm at City Hall in the 3rd floor City Council Chambers, room 317. Shukri Adan will be presenting the report that explores some of the challenges facing Somali youth and recommendations for positive steps that we can take to help. There should be time available for comments from the public. I am sorry the report is not available on line at this time. I will try to send it along later. For now, though, I wanted to make sure you knew about the meeting in case you are able to attend. Please feel free to share this information with others who may be interested. Cam Gordon Minneapolis City Council Member, Second Ward 673-2202, 296-0579 cam [at] camgordon.org http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/ward2/ http://secondward.blogspot.com/ --------6 of 12-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at] mtn.org> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 1.04 4:30pm CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------7 of 12-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 1.04 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------8 of 12-------- From: Jesse Mortenson <jmortenson [at] Macalester.edu> Subject: Small is beautiful 1.04 5pm First and third Thursdays of the month 12.02 5pm Cahoots coffeehouse Selby 1/2 block east of Snelling in StPaul Limit bigboxes, chain stores, TIF, corporate welfare, billboards; promote small business and co-ops, local production & self-sufficiency. http://www.gpsp.org/goodbusiness --------9 of 12-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Ground Truth/f 1.04 7pm Begin the new year with a fresh understanding of what it is like to be a soldier trained to kill and then return home. On Thursday evening January 4th at 7:00 PM at Ascension Episcopal Church 214 N 3rd Street in Stillwater, Mike Perkins,with Military Families Speak Out,,and Chante Wolf of local Chapter 27, Veterans for Peace, will show and discuss with us the documentary The Ground Truth: The Human Cost of War. http://www.thegroundtruth.org/film.html It shows how we train our soldiers to kill but do not take responsibility for the devastating psychological and physical damage they experience in war. We send young men and women off to war and then often ignore their struggles to adapt when they return home. Things that have been - a most enjoyable December retreat. Things to come. Some valley peacemakers are on the agenda for the Stillwater City Council Tue Jan. 2nd to present the valuable asset that a Peace pole would be in our city Park. We are not interested in flooding the meeting with people but if you have any experience with peace poles that would help us present our case please send us a note. or call earthmannow [at] comcast.net scot 651 999 9560 --------10 of 12-------- American Leaders Promise More Pain Appetites for Destruction By JOHN STANTON CounterPunch January 2, 2007 Just 32 years ago in 1975, former US President Gerald Ford (unelected to both the vice presidency and the presidency) served as master of ceremonies for the close of the Vietnam War. There are two images that remain seared in the minds of many around the world from that terrible 10 year debacle and defeat. One is a photograph taken by Hubert van Es during the fall of Saigon depicting Vietnamese civilians climbing to the top of an apartment building frantically attempting to board a US helicopter. The other is a photograph taken by Nic Ut of a young Vietnamese girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, her flesh seared by napalm in a US aerial assault. She is running down a road, naked and screaming. Thirty-two years later, as much of the world celebrated religious and cultural holidays, and prepared to greet the new year 2007, its newspapers and electronic media outlets depicted photographs and video of the hanging of former Iraq Dictator Saddam Hussein. The 21st Century and the freedom-loving US government approved a good old style 1800's hanging in Iraq. Hussein, guilty of mass murder, swinging from a rope in a stairwell somewhere in Baghdad. In 1975, Ford and Kissinger gave a green light to Indonesia's invasion of East Timor which left some 200,000 dead. As an aside, perhaps Americans should be reminded of its history with hangings and what's likely to come from 21st Century military tribunals. According to Wikipedia, "the largest single execution in United States history was the hanging of thirty-eight Lakota people convicted of murder and rape in the Sioux Uprising. They were executed simultaneously on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota. A single blow from an axe cut the rope that held the large four-sided platform, and the prisoners (except for one whose rope had broken, and who consequently had to be restrung) fell to their deaths. The second largest mass execution in United States history was also a hanging: the execution of 13 African American soldiers for their parts in the Houston Riot. Notably, both incidents involved ethnic minority defendants, and military tribunal judgments in time of war." Appetite for Destruction The two images from the Vietnam War and the photos and video of the hanging of Hussein capture in vivid detail the end results of strategies and tactics designed and executed by incompetent American leaders. Failure is everywhere in the stills and video. Failure to manage risk, failure to anticipate, failure to understand, failure to have compassion for human life, failure to accept change, failure to realize that perception is often not reality. Title, rank or advanced degree have never been a barrier to poor decision making or the maniacal drive for power to ensure a lasting place in world history. On what basis can one make such an outrageous claim? What's the record of the US leaders since 1975? Some of the highlights include: Vietnam War; Cold War (post Cold War mis-management); Iranian Revolution/Hostage Crisis; Iran/Contra; HIV/AIDS (1980's); Grenada War; War on Drugs; Panama War; Iraq War I; Iraq War II; Afghanistan War I; Somalia I (think Blackhawk Down); Yugoslavia/Bosnia War; Ethiopia vs Somalia War (US now backing Ethiopia); War on Terror; Israel vs Lebanon/Hezbollah (US backing Israel); Lebanon Stability Operation (200 plus US Marines needlessly sacrificed); botched presidential election of 2000 decided by US Supreme Court; 911 attack on New York City, New York and Arlington, Virginia; military tribunals,; income disparity (US middle class disappearing); tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; health care cost increases; record foreclosures and bankruptcies in 2006; 2007 recession looming; sanctioned domestic electronic surveillance, refusal to honor international treaties, nuclear proliferation (Egypt and Saudi Arabia will now build nuclear reactors); global warming; over 3,000 Americans dead and many more thousands maimed in Iraq II and Afghanistan I; military families on food stamps; unprecedented national debt, unreliable infrastructure (electrical grids, for example); 911 Commission and Iraq Study Group; and now trial balloons being floated for a return to military conscription. But the nail in the coffin, so to speak, is that "The Vote" does not matter one bit. The 2006 mid-term elections in the USA sent a clear signal to US leaders that the time had come to get out of Iraq. And yet as the new year enters, Democrats and Republicans, CEO's and Generals are united in their support for a troop "surge" in Iraq. Those in charge in America are creating the conditions which lead to open revolt. When votes do not matter, when draconian laws and regulations weigh on people, when employment is uncertain, and there is no longer any outlet for expression, frustration and anger set in. That leads to violence. [So are we going to honor these traitorous parties by voting for their candidates in 2008? What difference will a vote for Hillary make, other than allow us to do little or nothing effective till November 2008, allow the Dems to do their patented sellout on all important issues, and feel good for a day or two after the election before it all comes crashing down? Denial will cost us two years of effective action, two years in which the criminal ruling class will screw the world even more mercilessly. -ed] Operation Roadrunner And what do the folks in charge offer as solutions? Catch phrases and information manipulation. Over at the Pentagon the thinking on Iraq II is something like this: go long, go short, maintain, get out, go left, go right, go, go down. Is this what $1 trillion a year buys. Meanwhile, the President, with his staff in tow, tells the American people. "...My heart breaks everyday for our dead soldiers and their families. Next question...Go shopping." Are you kidding? What's next!? Cartoon character Wylie Coyote briefs the Joint Chiefs, President Bush and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Speaking on guarantee of anonymity, a source who was at the briefing said that, "Mr Coyote provided some keen insights that are applicable to the Global War on Terror, The War on Terror, The Long War, The Asymmetrical War, The Irregular War, The Calling of Our Time War. The President and Joint Chiefs were receptive. The Pentagon feels that if Mr. Coyote had the space, sea and land assets that we now have, he would have caught that Roadrunner whom we see as an example of your basic modern day Al Qaeda/Anti-American terrorist. Mr. Coyote was far ahead of his time in the use of technology from defense contractor ACME and his understanding and application of psychological operations techniques. We appreciate his timely advice." The world waits in horror for a congressionally mandated commission co-chaired by former President Bill Clinton and Former President George Bush II to study every commission created from 2001 to 2008. Why not Homer Simpson and Sponge-Bob Squarepants? What more can be said about the down right crappy leadership that the American public and the world have endured for a little over three decades. Clinton promised "A Bridge to the 21st Century." That bridge needs to be demolished and a new one built. Unfortunately it is going to fall to the next three generations to fix it, if they can. It's time to listen to the words of Malcolm X, speaking at Oxford Union, UK in 1964. "I read once, passingly, about a man named Shakespeare, who wrote something that moved me. He put the words into a character named Hamlet who said, 'To be or not to be'. He had a doubt about something. 'To suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.' Compromise. 'Or to take up arms against a a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them.' And I go for that. If you take up arms you'll end it. But if you sit around waiting for the ones in power to change things you'll be waiting a long time. In my opinion young people today, whites, blacks, browns whatever else there is, must realize that they live in a time of revolution, a time of change. Those in power have abused it and there has got to be change. A better world needs to be built and the only way it is going to get built is by extreme methods. I will stand with anyone, I don't care what color you are, as long as you want to change the miserable condition that exists on this earth." John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security matters. Reach him at cioran123 [at] yahoo.com --------11 of 12-------- Activists on the Left Applying Pressure to Democratic Leaders Liberals Seek Bolder Approach to War, Spying By Jonathan Weisman Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, January 3, 2007; A03 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/02/AR2007010201003.html Democratic leaders set to take control of Congress tomorrow are facing mounting pressure from liberal activists to chart a more confrontational course on Iraq and the issues of human rights and civil liberties, with some even calling for the impeachment of President Bush. The carefully calibrated legislative blitz that Democrats have devised for the first 100 hours of power has left some activists worried the passion that swept the party to power in November is already dissipating. A cluster of protesters will greet the new congressional leaders at the Capitol tomorrow. They will not be disgruntled conservatives wary of Democratic control, but liberals demanding a ban on torture, an end to warrantless domestic spying and a restoration of curbed civil liberties. The protest will be followed by an evening forum calling for the president's impeachment, led by the Center for Constitutional Rights, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and a pro-impeachment group called World Can't Wait. Those priorities will not be in evidence inside the Capitol, where the newly sworn-in Democratic Congress will immediately begin work on new ethics rules, the reinstitution of federal deficit controls and new policies designed to increase civility in House proceedings. In the coming weeks, Democrats plan to pass bills designed to raise the minimum wage, lower prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients and interest rates for student borrowers, bolster homeland security and boost alternative energy research. Nowhere in the Democrats' consensus-driven agenda is legislation revisiting last year's establishment of military tribunals and suspending legal rights for suspected terrorists. Nor is there a revision of the civil liberties provisions of the USA Patriot Act, a measure curbing warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency or an aggressive confrontation of the president on his Iraq war policies. To Democratic activists and some lawmakers, the agenda skirts the larger issues that damaged the president's approval ratings and torpedoed Republican control of Congress. "We've been told for many years, 12 years now, 'Wait until we get in power. Then you'll see things change,' " said Debra Sweet, national director of World Can't Wait, a pro-impeachment group helping to organize the protest. "We'll give them a couple of months or a few weeks to see what they come up with, but if they don't do something very decisive around the war and these other issues, I think there will be trouble." "If the first 100 hours is going to be characterized by an increase in the minimum wage and improved health and education benefits for Americans, that's fine," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich <http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/k000336/> (D-Ohio), a liberal firebrand who ran for president in 2004 and has announced for 2008. "But then let's talk about the second hundred hours, because we cannot let this war be lost. We cannot abandon the troops in the field to temporizing." To most Democratic lawmakers, such activism presents a quandary. House Republican leaders spent years trying to placate their conservative base with agendas built around opposition to same-sex marriage, antiabortion votes and tax cuts, said Sen.-elect Benjamin L. Cardin <http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/c000141/> (D-Md.). The partisan tone enraged Democrats and ultimately alienated moderates and independents, who swept the GOP from power in November after a dozen years in control. "The Democrats have to be careful not to fall into these traps that I think paralyzed the Republicans," Cardin said. But Democratic lawmakers -- especially the freshmen who capitalized on voter discontent -- said their core supporters' anger is real and must be acknowledged. "Those people protesting on Thursday care deeply about their country," said Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, an incoming House freshman who ran as an ardent opponent of Bush and the war. "I think we do need to pay attention. People are begging us to remember the Constitution, what made this country great." One lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of alienating such voters, said wherever he goes, he hears from activists calling for Bush's impeachment. Cutting off funding for the Iraq war comes in a close second. "For most progressive activists, there is generally speaking, an open mind but also a real fear that the 110th [Congress] will not be as aggressive as many of us want it to be," said Ralph G. Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way. "On the other hand, there is a lot of pragmatism as we go into the 2008 election season. There's this high-wire act for everybody, not only for the House and Senate leadership but for the progressive community, too." The high-wire act will be on display almost as soon as the new Congress is sworn in. The first motion from the House floor will be a parliamentary inquiry from Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) on the disputed election to replace retired Rep. Katherine Harris <http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/h001035/> (R-Fla.). In November's balloting, Republican Vern Buchanan beat Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes. But more than 18,000 ballots that day did not record a vote in the closely contested race, an "undervote" rate of nearly 15 percent, mainly from the Democrat's stronghold of Sarasota County. An academic study, commissioned by the company that made the electronic voting machines, found "that there is essentially a 100 percent chance that Jennings would have won" had Sarasota voters cast their votes with different machines and ballots. Holt's inquiry will make clear that Buchanan's swearing-in tomorrow should not prejudice or compromise a House investigation or ongoing legal challenges to his election. But that falls well short of activist demands that the seat be left vacant, or even that the House simply seat Jennings. Holt said he is willing to take the heat for that decision. "There are some Democrats who say we should seize that seat any way we can," he acknowledged. "But if in a heavy-handed way, we just say we've got the votes and we're going to throw out Vern Buchanan, we would undermine the principle we say we are fighting for." --------12 of 12-------- America's Holy Warriors By Chris Hedges Truthdig.com Sunday 31 December 2006 The former New York Times Mideast Bureau chief warns that the radical Christian right is coming dangerously close to its goal of co-opting the country's military and law enforcement. The drive by the Christian right to take control of military chaplaincies, which now sees radical Christians holding roughly 50 percent of chaplaincy appointments in the armed services and service academies, is part of a much larger effort to politicize the military and law enforcement. This effort signals the final and perhaps most deadly stage in the long campaign by the radical Christian right to dismantle America's open society and build a theocratic state. A successful politicization of the military would signal the end of our democracy. During the past two years I traveled across the country to research and write the book "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." I repeatedly listened to radical preachers attack as corrupt and godless most American institutions, from federal agencies that provide housing and social welfare to public schools and the media. But there were two institutions that never came under attack - the military and law enforcement. While these preachers had no interest in communicating with local leaders of other faiths, or those in the community who did not subscribe to their call for a radical Christian state, they assiduously courted and flattered the military and police. They held special services and appreciation days for all four branches of the armed services and for various law enforcement agencies. They encouraged their young men and women to enlist or to join the police or state troopers. They sought out sympathetic military and police officials to attend church events where these officials were lauded and feted for their Christian probity and patriotism. They painted the war in Iraq not as an occupation but as an apocalyptic battle by Christians against Islam, a religion they regularly branded as "satanic." All this befits a movement whose final aesthetic is violence. It also befits a movement that, in the end, would need the military and police forces to seize power in American society. One of the arguments used to assuage our fears that the mass movement being built by the Christian right is fascist at its core is that it has not yet created a Praetorian Guard, referring to the paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political discourse and eventually plunged ancient Rome into tyranny and despotism. A paramilitary force that operates outside the law, one that sows fear among potential opponents and is capable of physically silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors, is a vital instrument in the hands of despotic movements. Communist and fascist movements during the last century each built paramilitary forces that operated beyond the reach of the law. And yet we may be further down this road than we care to admit. Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable mercenary force in Iraq, champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future. It was a stark reminder that the tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on ourselves. "Contracting out security to groups like Blackwater undermines our constitutional democracy," said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Their actions may not be subject to constitutional limitations that apply to both federal and state officials and employees - including First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from illegal searches and seizures. Unlike police officers they are not trained in protecting constitutional rights and unlike police officers or the military they have no system of accountability whether within their organization or outside it. These kind of paramilitary groups bring to mind Nazi Party brownshirts, functioning as an extrajudicial enforcement mechanism that can and does operate outside the law. The use of these paramilitary groups is an extremely dangerous threat to our rights." The politicization of the military, the fostering of the belief that violence must be used to further a peculiar ideology rather than defend a democracy, was on display recently when Air Force and Army generals and colonels, filmed in uniform at the Pentagon, appeared in a promotional video distributed by the Christian Embassy, a radical Washington-based organization dedicated to building a "Christian America." The video, first written about by Jeff Sharlet in the December issue of Harper's Magazine and filmed shortly after 9/11, has led the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to raise a legal protest against the Christian Embassy's proselytizing within the Department of Defense. The video was hastily pulled from the Christian Embassy website and was removed from YouTube a few days ago under threats of copyright enforcement. Dan Cooper, an undersecretary of veterans affairs, says in the video that his weekly prayer sessions are "more important than doing the job." Maj. Gen. Jack Catton says that his being an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff is a "wonderful opportunity" to evangelize men and women setting defense policy. "My first priority is my faith," he says. "I think it's a huge impact.... You have many men and women who are seeking God's counsel and wisdom as they advise the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs] and the secretary of defense." Col. Ralph Benson, a Pentagon chaplain, says in the video: "Christian Embassy is a blessing to the Washington area, a blessing to our capital; it's a blessing to our country. They are interceding on behalf of people all over the United States, talking to ambassadors, talking to people in the Congress, in the Senate, talking to people in the Pentagon, and being able to share the message of Jesus Christ in a very, very important time in our world is winning a worldwide war on terrorism. What more do we need than Christian people leading us and guiding us, so, they're needed in this hour." The group has burrowed deep inside the Pentagon. It hosts weekly Bible sessions with senior officers, by its own count some 40 generals, and weekly prayer breakfasts each Wednesday from 7 to 7:50 a.m. in the executive dining room as well as numerous outreach events to, in the words of the organization, "share and sharpen one another in their quest to bridge the gap between faith and work." If the United States falls into a period of instability caused by another catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic meltdown or a series of environmental disasters, these paramilitary forces, protected and assisted by fellow ideologues in the police and military, could swiftly abolish what is left of our eroding democracy. War, with the huge profits it hands to businesses and right-wing interests that often help bankroll the Christian right, could become a permanent condition. And the thugs with automatic weapons, black uniforms and wraparound sunglasses who appeared on street corners in Baghdad and New Orleans could appear on streets across the U.S. Such a presence could paralyze us with fear, leaving us unable to question or protest the closed system and secrecy of an emergent totalitarian state and unable to voice dissent. "The Bush administration has already come close to painting our current wars as wars against Islam - many in the Christian right apparently have this belief," Ratner said. "If these wars, bad enough as imperial wars, are fought as religious wars, we are facing a very dark age that could go on for a hundred years and that will be very bloody." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments For life on earth to survive the ruling class must perish
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