"Quietly, unobtrusively and extremely fitfully, something in my mind began to assert itself, to question things and refuse to be brainwashed, bringing me to this time when I can set down this story. It was a long and painful process for me, that process of expansion."
Thursday, February 25, 2010
- Throughout history, the powerful created our property rights laws as applied to nature’s resources and technologies, denying others their rightful share of which nature offers to us all for free and those laws are the beating heart of the current monopoly system which we are told does not exist.
- Monopolization, Mercantilism, rentseeking, and capitalism as practiced, are all the same thing. Throughout the past 700 years, whenever they stood exposed, the powerbrokers simply accepted what was supposedly a new philosophy and went on with the same principles of wealth appropriation under that new name.
- The foundation plunder systems, Plunder by Trade and Property Rights Law as Applied to Nature’s Resources and Technologies, Denying Others Their Rightful Share of What is Offered to Us All for Free , continued to amass massive unearned wealth, create equally massive povety, and the wars to protect and expand the monopoly system became ever more ferocious.
- That today’s subtle monopolies are the most efficient economic system is only a belief system imposed to protect those monopolies. Global warming activists, resource depletion activists, and all who wish to eliminate poverty and war take note: Well over half the economic activity of imperial nations is wasted and this is without counting the wealth destroyed militarily protecting and expanding the monopoly system we call capitalism.
- If technology had been shared instead of monopolized the past 300 years, production would have been double, in a few years it would have doubled again, a few more years it would have doubled again, and it would have done so on up to the development of the entire world. Instead it has been one steady drumbeat of wars maintaining and expanding the monopoly system whose foundation principles are “never share with anybody.”
- By society restructuring to full and equal rights for all, economic efficiency will increase equal to the invention of money, the printing press, and electricity.
- That efficiency, if the world started utilizing it today, will eliminate poverty in ten years and provide a quality life for all the world’s citizens in 50 years.
Article published in the Nation
Our debt to Haiti stems from four main sources: slavery, the US occupation, dictatorship and climate change. These claims are not fantastical, nor are they merely rhetorical. They rest on multiple violations of legal norms and agreements. Here, far too briefly, are highlights of the Haiti case.
The Slavery Debt. When Haitians won their independence from France in 1804, they would have had every right to claim reparations from the powers that had profited from three centuries of stolen labor. France, however, was convinced that it was Haitians who had stolen the property of slave owners by refusing to work for free. So in 1825, with a flotilla of war ships stationed off the Haitian coast threatening to re-enslave the former colony, King Charles X came to collect: 90 million gold francs--ten times Haiti's annual revenue at the time. With no way to refuse, and no way to pay, the young nation was shackled to a debt that would take 122 years to pay off.
In 2003, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, facing a crippling economic embargo, announced that Haiti would sue the French government over that long-ago heist. "Our argument," Aristide's former lawyer Ira Kurzban told me, "was that the contract was an invalid agreement because it was based on the threat of re-enslavement at a time when the international community regarded slavery as an evil." The French government was sufficiently concerned that it sent a mediator to Port-au-Prince to keep the case out of court. In the end, however, its problem was eliminated: while trial preparations were under way, Aristide was toppled from power. The lawsuit disappeared, but for many Haitians the reparations claim lives on.
§ The Dictatorship Debt. From 1957 to 1986, Haiti was ruled by the defiantly kleptocratic Duvalier regime. Unlike the French debt, the case against the Duvaliers made it into several courts, which traced Haitian funds to an elaborate network of Swiss bank accounts and lavish properties. In 1988 Kurzban won a landmark suit against Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier when a US District Court in Miami found that the deposed ruler had "misappropriated more than $504,000,000 from public monies."
Haitians, of course, are still waiting for their payback--but that was only the beginning of their losses. For more than two decades, the country's creditors insisted that Haitians honor the huge debts incurred by the Duvaliers, estimated at $844 million, much of it owed to institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. In debt service alone, Haitians have paid out tens of millions every year.
Was it legal for foreign lenders to collect on the Duvalier debts when so much of it was never spent in Haiti? Very likely not. As Cephas Lumina, the United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt, put it to me, "the case of Haiti is one of the best examples of odious debt in the world. On that basis alone the debt should be unconditionally canceled."
But even if Haiti does see full debt cancellation (a big if), that does not extinguish its right to be compensated for illegal debts already collected.
§ The Climate Debt. Championed by several developing countries at the climate summit in Copenhagen, the case for climate debt is straightforward. Wealthy countries that have so spectacularly failed to address the climate crisis they caused owe a debt to the developing countries that have done little to cause the crisis but are disproportionately facing its effects. In short: the polluter pays. Haiti has a particularly compelling claim. Its contribution to climate change has been negligible; Haiti's per capita CO2 emissions are just 1 percent of US emissions. Yet Haiti is among the hardest hit countries--according to one index, only Somalia is more vulnerable to climate change.
Haiti's vulnerability to climate change is not only--or even mostly--because of geography. Yes, it faces increasingly heavy storms. But it is Haiti's weak infrastructure that turns challenges into disasters and disasters into full-fledged catastrophes. The earthquake, though not linked to climate change, is a prime example. And this is where all those illegal debt payments may yet extract their most devastating cost. Each payment to a foreign creditor was money not spent on a road, a school, an electrical line. And that same illegitimate debt empowered the IMF and World Bank to attach onerous conditions to each new loan, requiring Haiti to deregulate its economy and slash its public sector still further. Failure to comply was met with a punishing aid embargo from 2001 to '04, the death knell to Haiti's public sphere.
This history needs to be confronted now, because it threatens to repeat itself. Haiti's creditors are already using the desperate need for earthquake aid to push for a fivefold increase in garment-sector production, some of the most exploitative jobs in the country. Haitians have no status in these talks, because they are regarded as passive recipients of aid, not full and dignified participants in a process of redress and restitution.
A reckoning with the debts the world owes to Haiti would radically change this poisonous dynamic. This is where the real road to repair begins: by recognizing the right of Haitians to reparations.
About Naomi KleinNaomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (September 2007); an earlier international best-seller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002). more...
By Salena Tramel
In what’s left of Port-au-Prince, Haitians have self-organized into 450 camps administered by neighborhood committees. These newly formed communities not only provide temporary shelter, but are also launching points for local organizers to promote Haitian voices in rebuilding their society. Outside the city, peasant movements and organizations are welcome displaced victims of the earthquake into their communities. These returnees are part of a massive reverse migration back to their places of origin
Al Jazeera’s Avi Lewis talks to Grassroots International’s partner Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Advocate for Alternative Development about what Haitians in the city and countryside want out of their new reality in the following report. Also check out the latest issue of The Nation, in which Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, writes about the history of Haiti's "debt" in her piece, "Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor."
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
On February 12th and 13th, 2010, thousands of courageous individuals came together to resist the 2010 Olympic police state and to attack the corporations plundering the land and deepening poverty. We write this communique as participants in and organizers of the black bloc presence at these demonstrations, known as “Take Back Our City” and “2010 Heart Attack.”
On February 12th, the Vancouver Police Department pacified us with a force of mounted police. The next day during 2010 Heart Attack, they deployed riot police armed with M4 carbine assault rifles. They claim this was necessary in order to stop the march from “jeopardizing public safety” – yet the only threats to public safety were in their own hands. Participants in the demonstration only undertook strategic attacks against corporations sponsoring the Olympics and did not harm or attack bystanders.
The media are now busy denouncing the political violence of property destruction, such as the smashing of a Hudson’s Bay Company window, as though it were the only act of violence happening in this city. They forget that economic violence goes on daily in Vancouver. People are suffering and dying from preventable causes because welfare doesn’t give enough to afford rent, food or medicine, and because authorities routinely ignore the medical emergencies of poor or houseless individuals. This economic violence has gotten worse as we lose housing and social services because of the Olympic Games. In response to this assault, thousands took to the streets, hundreds joining what is known as a black bloc.
The black bloc is not a formal organization; it has no leadership, membership, or headquarters. Instead, the black bloc is a tactic: it is something people *do* in order to accomplish a specific purpose. By wearing black clothing and masking our faces, the black bloc allows for greater protection to those who choose active self-defense. The majority of people involved in the black bloc do not participate in property destruction. However, in masking up they express their solidarity with those who choose to take autonomous direct action against the corporations, authorities and politicians who wage war on our communities.
Participation in the black bloc is an act of courage. With only the shirts on our backs and the masks on our faces, we took to the streets against Canada’s largest ever “peacetime” police force. Protected only by black fabric and the support of our comrades, we stood in front of antiriot cops armed with assault rifles, pistols and batons. We proved that $1 billion of “security” couldn’t prevent us from clogging the heart of downtown Vancouver and crashing a party of 100 000 people — and getting away with it.
You won’t ever know who was in the black bloc this weekend, but you *do* know us. We are the people who organize community potlucks, who dance during street festivals, who make art, defend the land, build co-ops, bicycles and community gardens. When we put on our black clothing, we are not a threat to you, but to the elites.
Whoever you are, one day you will join us. As long as government and corporations attack our communities, we’re going defend – and that means attack.
Two organizers and participants in the anarchist presence of the “Take back our city” demonstration and “2010 Heart Attack” street march, February
Planet war: A Photo Essay
Why do we get dragged around and dragged down (literally) by the ones in power... does a child anywhere chose war...does it matter to him who gets what market or what ideology exists around the world...i have no exact source for my opinion other than than my own experience as a child and i am willing to say that children could care less but they would prefer to stay alive and play in a field. I think the same can be said about a farmer in the middle of Ethiopia, the mother in Afghanistan or the student in Georgia... it is the innocent, the power less AND innocent, the impartial, powerless and innocent, its the prejudice, impartial, powerless and innocent who suffer, or are lead to believe, via their leaders and their propaganda machines, that they're suffering is needed and worthwhile for a greater good, such as: the ideological and economic preferences of a particular class of people.
if we listened to people, we would notice we are more similar than different and that it can be in both of our interest to cooperate and to work through things.
if smart people, the ones who are tolerant, peace loving, self-realizing and look beyond there egoistic self to a larger Self that is connected and part of rest of the world and didn't concern themselves with material opiate or silly power games, ran for office instead of the current dogmatic power seeking hedonists we'd be in a better spot. Unfortunately the people who should run for office are too humble and intelligent than to play that game...hence we get the people that want to be part of this silly power game---because they need attention and power to find joy or peace with life itself.
if we didn't chase money, and realized that money is an idea and that it really doesn't make you happy...it makes some other guy who already has a lot of it happy.
People, terrorists, don't kill for no reason
the military of any country act in the same logical pattern and incentive as terrorists do we just have a nation-state to legitimize our killing in the name of "America" instead of "_______".
If we remembered that:
Children die in wars
Mothers die in wars
Fathers die in wars
Money instigates war often
it is never the decision of the people to go to war, people have to be duped to go to war, always.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Democrats $15B Jobs Bill Advances in Senate with GOP Help
In a rare sign of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, five Republican senators broke ranks with their party on Monday to advance a $15 billion job-creation measure put forward by Democrats. Senator Scott Brown, the newly elected Republican from Massachusetts, was the first member of his party to cast his vote for the measure. The bill focuses mostly on tax breaks for companies to encourage hiring. The bill has come under criticism by the Congressional Black Caucus for not directing any money to poor communities. Black lawmakers had sought a job bill where ten percent of the money in each of its provisions go to communities where at least 20 percent of the people are low-income.
Report: Wall Street Bonuses Increased 17 Percent in 2009
In other economic news, the New York State Comptroller has revealed Wall Street bonuses increased by 17 percent this year. Thomas DiNapoli said over $20 billion in bonuses were handed out. The bonuses come just a year after many of the same Wall Street firms were bailed out by taxpayers.
Obama Outlines Healthcare Priorities Ahead of Bipartisan Meeting
President Barack Obama is trying to revive his stalled healthcare reform effort. On Monday the White House released an eleven-page document outlining what the President would like to see in the heathcare bill, including the expansion of coverage to millions of people who are uninsured, while taking steps to control soaring healthcare costs. The President’s plan does not include a “public option” for a government-run plan. Obama will push the proposal at a bipartisan healthcare summit on Thursday. The White House is now urging Republicans to publish their own healthcare reform plan prior to the meeting.
EPA Delays New Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations
The Environmental Protection Agency is delaying plans to force power plants, oil refineries and other industrial polluters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions until at least 2011. The EPA also said it won’t target small emitters of greenhouse gas emissions until 2016. In December, the EPA announced it will draft regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Since then, the agency has faced harsh criticism from lawmakers from states that rely on coal mining and electricity generated from fossil fuels. On Monday, Democratic Senator John Rockefeller of West Virginia pressed for legislation to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Democratic Senators Max Baucus of Montana and Carl Levin of Michigan have also opposed the EPA’s plan to regulate emissions. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson will be testifying before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works today.
Energy Department OKs Loan Guarantee for Solar Power Plant in California
The Department of Energy has offered a $1.4 billion loan guarantee to a California company planning to build a large-scale solar power plant in the Southern California desert. The loan guarantee would go to a company called Bright Source Energy, which is backed by Google, Morgan Stanley, Chevron and BP. The solar plant will be built by Bechtel. The loan guarantee is the largest ever given by the Energy Department for a solar power project, but it is just one-sixth of the size of the $8.3 billion loan guarantee pledged by the department last week for the construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia.
Poland Confirms Secret CIA Flight Landings
A Polish governmental agency has confirmed secret CIA flights landed in Poland as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Poland has long been accused of housing a secret CIA prison, but the government has denied the allegations. On Monday, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency released flight logs that show at least six flights linked to the CIA landed in Poland between February and September 2003.
Lawmakers Calls for Phasing Out of Military Contractors
In other news from Capitol Hill, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky plan to introduce legislation today to phase out the military’s controversial use of private security contractors in war zones . The Stop Outsourcing Security Act would also require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by US government personnel.
Police Officers Acquitted in Sodomy Case
And here in New York, a police officer accused of using a baton to sodomize a man in a subway station has been acquitted along with two officers who allegedly covered up the incident. Attorneys for the man said they will now seek a federal probe into the incident.
McChrystal Apologizes for Afghan Civilian Casualties; US Death Toll Reaches 1,000
The commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan has apologized to the Afghan people for Sunday’s air strike that killed at least twenty-seven civilians riding in a convoy of minibuses. Gen. Stanley McChrystal took the unusual step of recording a videotaped message that was then then translated into the Afghan languages of Dari and Pashto. The air strike was reportedly ordered by US Special Operations Forces who believed the minibuses carried Taliban fighters. Abdul Qadir Noorzai, a human rights official in Afghanistan, condemned the US air strike.
Abdul Qadir Noorzai: “This kind of incident by NATO is really shocking and disappointing news. We hope the international forces, who are well aware of international law and human rights law, take this incident very seriously, and launch an investigation into how twenty-seven innocent civilians were martyred and all those wounded.”
The US death toll in Afghanistan has reached 1,000. We’ll have more on Afghanistan after headlines.
US Commander: Withdrawal from Iraq May Be DelayedThe top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, said Monday the US is preparing contingency plans to delay the withdrawal of all combat forces in Iraq if violence or political instability increases after next month’s election. Under President Obama’s current plan, the US has vowed to cut the number of troops in Iraq in half to 50,000 by August. A full withdrawal is scheduled to occur by the end of 2011
Monday, February 22, 2010
Justice Dept. Clears Torture Memo AuthorsThe Bush administration lawyers who wrote the “torture” memos have been officially cleared of allegations of professional misconduct. In a report released Friday, the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility said attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee had “exercised poor judgment” but will not face discipline for their actions justifying the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture. Questions still remain over the role of the White House in the drafting of the memos. Investigators admitted they had unsuccessfully tried to access John Yoo’s email messages during his time at the Justice Department but were told that most of Yoo’s email records had been deleted and were not recoverable. The report also sheds new light on John Yoo’s radical view on presidential power. When a Justice Department investigator asked him if the president had the constitutional power to order a village of civilians to be “massacred,” Yoo replied, “Yeah.
Toyota Cited $100 Million Savings by Delaying Safety RegulationsIn business news, a newly disclosed internal memo shows a Toyota executive boasted last July that the company saved $100 million by convincing US regulators to end a 2007 investigation of sudden acceleration complaints by issuing a limited recall of floor mats in some vehicles. The document cites millions of dollars in other savings by delaying safety regulations, avoiding defect investigations and slowing down other industry requirements. Since then, Toyota has recalled over eight million vehicles. Toyota’s President Akio Toyoda is scheduled to testify before on Capitol Hill Wednesda
House Panel to Probe Natural Gas Drilling
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has launched an investigation into potential environmental impacts from the natural gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing. This according to report from ProPublica. Last week, Congressman Henry Waxman revealed two of the largest companies involved in natural gas drilling have acknowledged pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground.
Penn. School Admits to Remotely Activating Webcams on Student Computers
A suburban Philadelphia school district has admitted it secretly switched on laptop computer cameras inside students’ homes, but officials say the cameras were only remotely activated to find missing or stolen laptops. The Lower Merion School District issued Apple laptops with webcams to all 2,300 students at its two high schools, but students were never informed the school had the ability to remotely activate the laptop cameras to watch them at home. The policy came to light after a student named Blake Robbins and his family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school system. Blake Robbins’ family said the school activated his webcam when he was eating Mike & Ike candy at home and mistook the sweets for drugs.
Attorney Mark Haltzman: “They’re trying to allege that when Blake was holding two Mike & Ikes in his hand, which he apparently loves and eats religiously, that those were pills, and somehow he’s involved in selling drugs.”
Activists Interrupt Israeli Ballet Performance in VermontHuman rights activists interrupted a performance by the Israeli Ballet in Burlington, Vermont on Friday. During the performance, demonstrators held up a sign reading “No tutu is begin enough to cover up war crimes.” A coalition of pro-Palestinian groups have called for a boycott of the Israeli ballet and other Israeli cultural and academic institutions. Protesters also rallied over the weekend outside performances of the Israeli Ballet in Worcester, Massachusetts and Brooklyn, New York. A video of the Burlington protest was posted on YouTube by the filmmaker Sam Mayfield, but YouTube removed the video, claiming it was in “violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines.
33 Afghan Civilian Killed in NATO Air Strike
The Afghan government says at least thirty-three civilians have died in a NATO air strike in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan. The Afghanistan Council of Ministers strongly condemned the air strike, saying it was “unjustifiable.” The dead included four women and one child. The incident was not part of Operation Moshtarak, the major offensive to combat the Taliban near the town of Marjah. Over the past ten days, another nineteen Afghan civilians have been killed in Marjah. Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, said that Marjah was the opening salvo in a campaign to turn back the Taliban.Gen. David Petraeus: “This is just the initial operation of what will be a twelve- to eighteen-month campaign, as General McChrystal and his team have mapped it out.
Dutch Troops to Leave Afghanistan After Gov’t Collapses
The Dutch government collapsed on Saturday when the country’s two largest political parties failed to agree on whether to withdraw Dutch troops from Afghanistan this year as planned. The fall of the government all but guarantees that the 2,000 Dutch troops will be brought home this year. The development is seen as a major blow to the US-led NATO alliance against the Taliban. Canada has already said it will withdraw its 2,800 soldiers by the end of 2011.
German Activists Protest Against Afghan War
In Germany, over a thousand antiwar protesters rallied in Berlin on Saturday to demonstrate against Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan. Germany is planning to beef up its presence in Afghanistan, where its 4,300 troops make up the third-largest contingent after the United States and Britain. Many protesters said they did not understand why Germany was in Afghanistan in the first place.
German protester: “It’s almost too late, but we hope to convey the message that not one soldier has to be sent to Afghanistan. That’s why we are protesting here. The German people have paid enough taxes, and there are more and more taxes being squeezed out of us just to finance the American wars. We have in Germany a constitution that is still valid, that states that from German ground we will not instigate a war, but only defend ourselves. The Afghans never attacked us. So what are our soldiers doing in Afghanistan?”
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Report: Largest Corporations Responsible for $2.2T in Environmental Damage
A newly revealed United Nations study estimates the world’s 3,000 largest corporations are responsible for over $2.2 trillion in environmental damage. The unpublished report was conducted by the Principles for Responsible Investment Initiative and the United Nations Environment Programme. The study says the companies would have to divert one-third of their profits to pay for the environmental damage they’ve caused.
Admin to Seek Senate Ratification of Test Ban Treaty
The Obama administration has announced it will seek Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT. Speaking at the National Defense University Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden said the US remains committed to banning atomic weapons, but added the US will continue to modernize its arsenal until it’s assured all nuclear-armed states are on board. The administration has committed over $7 billion in spending on its nuclear arms sites. In a statement, Paul Kawika Martin of the group Peace Action praised the backing of the CTBT, but added, “Instead of spending $7 billion on facilities to upgrade nuclear weapons, that money would be more wisely spent on increasing the rate of dismantling the US stockpile. Fewer nuclear weapons makes Americans safer and sends the right message to the rest of the world.” Biden, meanwhile, also said disarmament would be made easier by increased spending on a so-called missile defense shield.
Study: Highest Medicaid Enrollment in Decades
In other healthcare news, newly released figures show the recession has led more Americans to enroll in Medicaid than at any point since its establishment over forty years ago. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than three million people signed up for Medicaid in the year ending last June, increasing enrollment 7.5 percent to a record 46.8 million. Thirteen states reported double-digit increases. As enrollment has ballooned, states across the country have tried to cut benefits to keep up with budget constraints. The Kaiser study says twenty-nine states are considering further reductions or have already made them since the current fiscal year began.
Admin Criticizes Insurer Profits, Rising Premiums
The Obama administration, meanwhile, has issued a new report criticizing insurers for increasing the cost of medical care while pulling in record profits. On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed the rising costs of insurance premiums across the United States.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “In this last year alone, the largest insurance company in Michigan requested a 56 percent rate hike. In Connecticut, it was 24 percent. In Oregon, we saw a 20 percent rate hike being requested. Maine, it was 18.5 percent last year, which was actually denied, and this year they’ve come back and asked for a 23 percent rate hike. And most recently, which has gotten a lot of attention, is the WellPoint Anthem request for a 39 percent rate hike, which would affect 800,000 of their individual market customers.”
Sebelius went on to contrast the increasing costs with record insurance industry profits last year.
US Reaches $1.25B Settlement with Black Farmers
The Obama administration has reached a $1.25 billion settlement in a class-action lawsuit over longtime racial discrimination against African American farmers. The government settled a first round of claims in 1999 after a group of farmers accused the Agricultural Department of systemically denying them aid and loans granted to white counterparts. The discriminatory policy forced farmers to lose their land or plunged them deeply into debt. The new settlement would cover farmers denied payments under the initial settlement. The deal now awaits congressional approval. John Boyd, a lead plaintiff and head of the National Black Farmers Association, said he agreed to the $1.25 billion settlement despite viewing it as insufficient. Boyd said, ’’Many of the farmers have already died waiting for justice, so I thought this was the right thing to do."
Kerik Sentenced to 4-Year Term
And former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik has been sentenced to four years in prison. Kerik pleaded guilty in November to lying to the White House when he was nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security. He also admitted to tax evasion and receiving renovations from a construction firm linked to organized crime. Kerik will remain under house arrest until he begins his sentence in May.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A worker in Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa harvests locally grown rice. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)
Free trade, loss of support systems crippling food production in Africa
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Despite good intentions, the push to privatize government functions and insistence upon “free trade” that is too often unfair has caused declining food production, increased poverty and a hunger crisis for millions of people in many African nations, researchers conclude in a new study.
Market reforms that began in the mid-1980s and were supposed to aid economic growth have actually backfired in some of the poorest nations in the world, and just in recent years led to multiple food riots, scientists report today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a professional journal.
“Many of these reforms were designed to make countries more efficient, and seen as a solution to failing schools, hospitals and other infrastructure,” said Laurence Becker, an associate professor of geosciences at Oregon State University. “But they sometimes eliminated critical support systems for poor farmers who had no car, no land security, made $1 a day and had their life savings of $600 hidden under a mattress.
“These people were then asked to compete with some of the most efficient agricultural systems in the world, and they simply couldn’t do it,” Becker said. “With tariff barriers removed, less expensive imported food flooded into countries, some of which at one point were nearly self-sufficient in agriculture. Many people quit farming and abandoned systems that had worked in their cultures for centuries.”
These forces have undercut food production for 25 years, the researchers concluded. They came to a head in early 2008 when the price of rice – a staple in several African nations – doubled in one year for consumers who spent much of their income solely on food. Food riots, political and economic disruption ensued.
The study was done by researchers from OSU, the University of California at Los Angeles and Macalester College. It was based on household and market surveys and national production data.
There are no simple or obvious solutions, Becker said, but developed nations and organizations such as the World Bank or International Monetary Fund need to better recognize that approaches which can be effective in more advanced economies don’t readily translate to less developed nations.
“We don’t suggest that all local producers, such as small farmers, live in some false economy that’s cut off from the rest of the world,” Becker said.
“But at the same time, we have to understand these are often people with little formal education, no extension systems or bank accounts, often no cars or roads,” he said. “They can farm land and provide both food and jobs in their countries, but sometimes they need a little help, in forms that will work for them. Some good seeds, good advice, a little fertilizer, a local market for their products.”
Many people in African nations, Becker said, farm local land communally, as they have been doing for generations, without title to it or expensive equipment – and have developed systems that may not be advanced, but are functional. They are often not prepared to compete with multinational corporations or sophisticated trade systems. The loss of local agricultural production puts them at the mercy of sudden spikes in food costs around the world. And some of the farmers they compete with in the U.S., East Asia and other nations receive crop supports or subsidies of various types, while they are told they must embrace completely free trade with no assistance.
“A truly free market does not exist in this world,” Becker said. “We don’t have one, but we tell hungry people in Africa that they are supposed to.”
This research examined problems in Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire in Western Africa, where problems of this nature have been severe in recent years. It also looked at conditions in Mali, which by contrast has been better able to sustain local food production – because of better roads, a location that makes imported rice more expensive, a cultural commitment to local products and other factors.
Historically corrupt governments continue to be a problem, the researchers said.
“In many African nations people think of the government as looters, not as helpers or protectors of rights,” Becker said. “But despite that, we have to achieve a better balance in governments providing some minimal supports to help local agriculture survive.”
An emphasis that began in the 1980s on wider responsibilities for the private sector, the report said, worked to an extent so long as prices for food imports, especially rice, remained cheap. But it steadily caused higher unemployment and an erosion in local food production, which in 2007-08 exploded in a global food crisis, street riots and violence. The sophisticated techniques and cash-crop emphasis of the “Green Revolution” may have caused more harm than help in many locations, the study concluded.
Another issue, they said, was an “urban bias” in government assistance programs, where the few support systems in place were far more oriented to the needs of city dwellers than their rural counterparts.
Potential solutions, the researchers concluded, include more diversity of local crops, appropriate tariff barriers to give local producers a reasonable chance, subsidies where appropriate, and the credit systems, road networks, and local mills necessary to process local crops and get them to local markets.
Victoria Beckham (Posh from the Spice Girls) just gave a real intellectual and inspiring interview with Glamour Magazine. She talked about what she does in her spare time, how she gains confidence, lots about her hot hubby David Beckham, what she eats, whether celebs make her feel nervous or not, and how she feels about her looks. Her answers were brief and lifeless, but they provide astounding hints about her life as an advertised "confident, independent" woman of the 21st century: straight up housewife. From the little blips that Vicki gave, her life revolves around serving her husbands and boys ("I go to the school and help serve lunches to the children. They just love that. It’s like, 'Oh, there’s Mummy serving me!'"), clothes, working out, and high heels. Is this what we're supposed to aspire to? I don't know about you, but I respect and appreciate everyday the work that women and men did in the 1960s and '70s to get us to the point we are today: not in aprons in front of a stove. I do not want to be a retro-housewife and I'm horrified that this woman's lifestyle is being advertised as worthy of praise.
Much of my frustration comes from the accompanying photoshoot (http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2010/02/victoria-beckham-cover-shoot-photo-gallery?printable=true) that goes along with her dazzling quips of insight. She's situated in a kitchen clad in "fashionable" shit that looks like an updated version of 1950s underwear scrubbing, and cleaning, literally licking brown goop off the floor, and blowing bubbles. She strapped into ridiculous high heels that she even admits are painful, but worth the wear. Who in their right mind would do housework in high heels? What kind of perverted message is this sending to Glamour's readers?? Young women of our generation have grown up having been treated much differently than our mothers were; we take for granted the privilege and opportunities that were earned for us nearly over 40 years ago. It is outrageous and terrifying that the ideals of the feminist movement are being tossed out the door and are being replaced with incredibly sexualized and subordinate role models. Look at these pictures and take note of the multiple phallic props, suggestive body lanuage and facial positions, overtly sexualized attire, and the resounding message that women belong at home cooking, cleaning, planning parties, etc. The only jobs that we are capable of now (along with the housewife role) are related to the trivialities of clothing, shoes, and accessories.
This is disgusting and embarrassing. I can't believe how obnoxious Glamour was to print these photos and encourage a reversal of the work thousands of women have done to work toward gaining equality. The editors are pathetic, immoral, and should be fired immediately.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Survey: Quarter of Job Losses Will Be Permanent
Around 8.4 million jobs have been lost since December 2007. According to economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, around a quarter of the lost jobs are gone for good. The survey comes as the White House released an economic forecast projecting job growth this year will be too low to significantly address unemployment. The projection says employers will add just 95,000 jobs per month, a number just below what economists say is needed just to keep up with population growth. (dem now.org)
Friday, February 12, 2010
Iraq War Vet Faces Court-Martial for Song Criticizing Forced Redeployment
And a Iraq war veteran is facing a court-martial for recording a song criticizing the US military stop-loss policy that forces soldiers into longer deployments than they’ve agreed to. Army Specialist Marc Hall was jailed in December after his superiors deemed his song “Stop Loss,” in which he raps, to be a threat. He had mailed the Pentagon a copy of the song after the military enacted “stop-loss” to order him to return to Iraq for a second deployment. Hall will likely be shipped to Iraq for his military trial.
A new report says the nation’s five biggest insurance companies set an all-time record for combined profits last year. According to Health Care for America Now, the companies WellPoint, CIGNA, UnitedHealth Group, Aetna Inc. and Humana posted cumulative profits of $12.2 billion. That marks a $4.4 billion, or 56 percent, increase over 2008 and amounts to an average profit margin of 5.2 percent. CIGNA saw the highest profit jump, with an increase of 346 percent. Health Care for America Now says the insurers’ record year was aided by three factors: dropping customers with costly medical needs; diverting spending from medical care to administrative costs and margins; and a higher enrollment in public programs, like Medicare Advantage, that pay insurers higher fees. Overall, the insurance companies dropped 2.7 million customers from their rolls last year. The report’s release comes ahead of a day of nationwide rallies next Wednesday organized by Health Care for America Now.
Improved Corporate Profits Not Leading to Job Growth
New figures show the improving fortune of major corporations isn’t leading to a simultaneous creation of new jobs. Bloomberg News reports a majority of the Standard & Poor 500 have increased revenues to a combined $1.18 trillion—a $518 billion increase over the year before. But capital expenditures, or investments that could have helped create jobs, were down 43 percent.
Survey: Quarter of Job Losses Will Be Permanent
Around 8.4 million jobs have been lost since December 2007. According to economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, around a quarter of the lost jobs are gone for good. The survey comes as the White House released an economic forecast projecting job growth this year will be too low to significantly address unemployment. The projection says employers will add just 95,000 jobs per month, a number just below what economists say is needed just to keep up with population growth.
Labor Dept. Reverses Bush-Era Farmworker Regulations
The Labor Department has unveiled new regulations it says will increase wages and labor protections for American and temporary immigrant farm workers. The new rules restore several provisions revoked in the waning days of the Bush administration, including a new method for calculating farm workers’ wages. The Labor Department says the Bush-era rules ended up reducing the wages by an average one dollar an hour for the year they were in effect.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Max Weber articulated a concept know as the iron cage of rationality...something to effect of...we would be so rational that it would end to be irrational. (such as automated operators--its efficient, for the company so thus ration, but complete rational for the consumers). I think bottled water highlights one such rational irrationality.
by Jared Blumenfeld & Susan Leal
San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents enjoy some of the nation's highest quality drinking water, with pristine Sierra snowmelt from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir as our primary source. Every year, our water is tested more than 100,000 times to ensure that it meets or exceeds every standard for safe drinking water. And yet we still buy bottled water. Why?
Maybe it's because we think bottled water is cleaner and somehow better, but that's not true. The federal standards for tap water are higher than those for bottled water.
The Environmental Law Foundation has sued eight bottlers for using words such as "pure" to market water that contains bacteria, arsenic and chlorine. Bottled water is no bargain either: It costs 240 to 10,000 times more than tap water. For the price of one bottle of Evian, a San Franciscan can receive 1,000 gallons of tap water. Forty percent of bottled water should be labeled bottled tap water because that is exactly what it is. But even that doesn't dampen the demand.
Clearly, the popularity of bottled water is the result of huge marketing efforts. The global consumption of bottled water reached 41 billion gallons in 2004, up 57 percent in just five years. Even in areas where tap water is clean and safe to drink, such as in San Francisco, demand for bottled water is increasing -- producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy. So what is the real cost of bottled water?
Most of the price of a bottle of water goes for its bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing and profit. Transporting bottled water by boat, truck and train involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels. More than 5 trillion gallons of bottled water is shipped internationally each year. Here in San Francisco, we can buy water from Fiji (5,455 miles away) or Norway (5,194 miles away) and many other faraway places to satisfy our demand for the chic and exotic. These are truly the Hummers of our bottled-water generation. As further proof that the bottle is worth more than the water in it, starting in 2007, the state of California will give 5 cents for recycling a small water bottle and 10 cents for a large one.
Just supplying Americans with plastic water bottles for one year consumes more than 47 million gallons of oil, enough to take 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, according to the Container Recycling Institute. In contrast, San Francisco tap water is distributed through an existing zero-carbon infrastructure: plumbing and gravity. Our water generates clean energy on its way to our tap -- powering our streetcars, fire stations, the airport and schools.
More than 1 billion plastic water bottles end up in the California's trash each year, taking up valuable landfill space, leaking toxic additives, such as phthalates, into the groundwater and taking 1,000 years to biodegrade. That means bottled water may be harming our future water supply.
The rapid growth in the bottled water industry means that water extraction is concentrated in communities where bottling plants are located. This can have a huge strain on the surrounding eco-system. Near Mount Shasta, the world's largest food company, Nestle, is proposing to extract billions of gallons of spring water, which could have devastating impacts on the McCloud River.
So it is clear that bottled water directly adds to environmental degradation, global warming and a large amount of unnecessary waste and litter. All this for a product that is often inferior to San Francisco's tap water. Luckily, there are better, less expensive alternatives:
-- In the office, use a water dispenser that taps into tap water. The only difference your company will notice is that you're saving a lot of money.
-- At home and in your car, switch to a stainless steel water bottle and use it for the rest of your life knowing that you are drinking some of the nation's best water and making the planet a better place.
Take the pledge --
Jared Blumenfeld is the director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Susan Leal is the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Monday, February 8, 2010
We've been warned:
Nye Commission Report
Military industrial Complex
War Spending Increases in Record $3.8T Budget Request
President Obama has unveiled a record $3.8 trillion budget that boosts money for war while cutting domestic spending.
President Obama: “I’ve proposed a freeze in government spending for three years. This won’t apply to the benefits folks get through Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare, and and it won’t apply to our national security, including benefits for veterans. But it will apply to all other discretionary government programs.”
Under Obama’s proposal, the Pentagon budget would grow over three percent in addition to separate funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for a total of over $741 billion. The new budget contains no major weapons cancellations as opposed to last year’s gutting of the F-22 fighter jet. Obama is also seeking a $7 billion increase in nuclear spending despite a pledge to cut the US arsenal and seek a nuclear weapons-free world. The Labor Department would see a 32 percent cut, most from declining unemployment benefits and stimulus spending.
Report: US Drone Attacks Killed 123 Civilians in January
In other news from Pakistan, the US is being accused of killing dozens of civilians in a record twelve drone attacks last month. The Pakistani newspaper The News is reporting the US botched ten of the attacks, killing 123 civilians and just three al-Qaeda leaders—a ratio of forty-one to one.
US Proposes $6B Arms Deal with Taiwan
In news from Asia, the Obama administration has announced plans for a new $6 billion arms deal with Taiwan. The proposed package includes Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot anti-missile missiles, and two refurbished Osprey-class mine-hunting ships. The move has angered China, which has threatened sanctions on any US firm who sells weapons to Taiwan.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Back on Earth, Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan has the answer to the English language conundrum. In responding to the crisis in US education, Duncan explains why education funding is so urgent: “There’s a real sense of economic imperative. We have to educate our way [to] a better economy.” Perish the thought that education should have a social imperative – these days, the function of education is to get labor to be more responsive and productive. The purpose of education is to make money.
by Raj Patel- 01/29/2010
Under what rock have you been hiding to miss the movie and ensuing publicity storm around James Cameron’s environmental parable, Avatar? You’ve certainly not been cowering beneath a hunk of Unobtanium: it floats. And in Cameron’s epic, this strange rock is the occasion for a future conflict on a world far away between the organic, indigenous Na’vi who take a stand against the imperial, profit-driven humans, looking to dig the very soul out of the hyper-lush moon of Pandora.
The film is distributed by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – the owners of right wing media across the world. They’ve caught flack from conservative critics for peddling an “anti-corporate” message, one that’s hostile to the American way, imputing only malign motives to corporations and only destructive impulses to capitalism. One imagines the film’s billion dollar earnings will go some way to soothing Murdoch’s right-wing conscience.
As for Cameron, it’s clear that he courted these criticisms by consciously producing an “environmental” film. In an earlier ‘scriptment’ – a term that Cameron coined as a hybrid between a script and a more prosaic film treatment– the project that became Avatar had a far richer back story. In it, Cameron’s explained, to use his words, the “basic principles of interstellar imperialism, circa 2100 A.D.”
In the original tale, we see an Earth denuded of life. Half of the planet’s species are extinct. The rich live in Yosemite, an upscale condo park. The poor are left to farm algae on the sea shores, eating the only source of food left to humans. The hero, Josh (not Jake) Sully is never promised his legs back. He’s simply promised the possibility of an avatar that can walk on a world that has greenery, both of which are impossible for him on Earth. All of which was cut from the final script.
Nation-states having been consigned to the dustbin of history, the Avatar that made it to production begins on a colonial mining expedition to a blue-green moon in the Alpha Centauri system. The company behind it all is called the “Resource Development Alliance”, and the resource that RDA wants is unobtanium – a room-temperature semiconductor that only exists on the Na’vi home world of Pandora.
To get the resource, the company is true to its name, and avails itself of two bedrock concepts in empire-building, Development and Alliance. It comforts the public and the shareholders on Earth to know that what they bring to the colonized savages on Pandora involves both partnership and progress.
Indeed, there’s a scene at the beginning of the movie where the company’s representative bemoans the lack of gratitude and cooperation from the indigenous people. “We build them schools and teach them English … give them medicine … roads! But they prefer mud.”
On today’s Earth, in contrast, when oil companies tear through jungle, desert and tundra is search of oil, they don’t trouble themselves with the natives, much less bother to teach them English. Martin Boorman’s Emerald Forest captured this all too well. The mining companies come in with everything they need to extract the resources from beneath the inconveniently placed communities of indigenous people. So why bother to teach the Na’vi English, when the profit motive demands they be killed or moved elsewhere? It’s tempting to think this a mere plot device, so that hero and his lover can banter without subtitles to an audience suspicious of reading anything on a screen (and with reason: I’m a little gun shy of alien-language subtitles ever since Star Trek: The Motion Picture).
Back on Earth, Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan has the answer to the English language conundrum. In responding to the crisis in US education, Duncan explains why education funding is so urgent: “There’s a real sense of economic imperative. We have to educate our way [to] a better economy.” Perish the thought that education should have a social imperative – these days, the function of education is to get labor to be more responsive and productive. The purpose of education is to make money.
And so it is on Pandora. The reason the Na’vi are being taught English is not because humans are friendly. The Na’vi are being educated so that they can work in the mines for RDA. As Cameron explains in the original scriptment, it’s far too expensive to blast humans four light years across space to a place where they’ll perish quickly without oxygen. When there’s the making of a local workforce right there, the economics speak for themselves. Hence the need to forge an alliance, even if it comes through the barrel of a gun.
So, although analogies have been made with Native conquest, the Avatar that was never made was a far more interesting movie, blending the economics of conquest with the imperatives of the slave trade and the concept of the modern developmental state. Sadly, all we see of this is a thin Pocahantas in Space ably satirized by South Park in the episode Dances With Smurfs.
I wonder, though, whether a clearer exposition of back-story would have left audiences readier for action after recycling their 3D glasses and leaving the theater. Fan forums are overflowing with tales of depression and hopelessness about our planet’s prospects. The movie ends with humans kicked out of paradise to “return to their dying world.” Stumbling out into a bleak parking lot after having been surrounded by so much green, it’s hard not to feel that happiness might be more easily found in space than on Earth.
Certainly, the physical wrench from bluegreen moon to buttery multiplex isn’t easy. The change from a world that shuns capitalism to one that embraces it couldn’t be harsher.We learn in the scriptment that the hunter-gatherer Na’vi have a Commons, a public space where all of The People can talk. There’s no such free speech in a multiplex, and any environmental groups enterprising enough to see potential recruits among Avatar’s abject viewership would be swiftly kicked out of the movie theater for leafleting.
There is, however, always space for resistance. What Avatar provides is a language to explain the voracity of a system we’re currently living in, and a chance to point to resistance that thrives not light years away, but right here on earth. It’s an opportunity to talk to everyday folk about the need for change in ways that use a common language. It is, in short, an opportunity to open one’s mind to how we might live differently.
Like Octavia Butler, I’ve always thought science fiction’s virtues lie not so much in the future it foretells, as in the present it diagnoses, and the prescriptions we might imagine together. So, if you’re feeling blue after watching Avatar and are thinking about what might be taken away that isn’t utterly nihilistic, consider these words, which end Butler’s essay Positive Obsession:
“But still I’m asked, what good is science fiction to Black people?
“What good is any form of literature to Black people?
“What good is science fiction’s thinking about the present, the future, and the past? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? What good is its examination of the possible effects of science and technology, or social organization and political direction? At its best, science fiction stimulates imagination and creativity. It gets reader and writer off the beaten track, of the narrow, narrow footpath of what “everyone” is saying, doing, thinking – whoever “everyone” happens to be this year.
“And what good is all this to Black people?”
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
By Mark Feeney and Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff
Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as "A People's History of the United States," inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.
His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.
"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."
Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn's writings "simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation. He opened up approaches to history that were novel and highly significant. Both by his actions, and his writings for 50 years, he played a powerful role in helping and in many ways inspiring the Civil rights movement and the anti-war movement."
For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. "A People’s History of the United States" (1980), his best-known book, had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers -- many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out -- but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and union organizers of the 1930s.
As he wrote in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."
Certainly, it was a recipe for rancor between Dr. Zinn and John Silber, former president of Boston University. Dr. Zinn, a leading critic of Silber, twice helped lead faculty votes to oust the BU president, who in turn once accused Dr. Zinn of arson (a charge he quickly retracted) and cited him as a prime example of teachers "who poison the well of academe."
Dr. Zinn was a cochairman of the strike committee when BU professors walked out in 1979. After the strike was settled, he and four colleagues were charged with violating their contract when they refused to cross a picket line of striking secretaries. The charges against "the BU Five" were soon dropped.
In 1997, Dr. Zinn slipped into popular culture when his writing made a cameo appearance in the film "Good Will Hunting." The title character, played by Matt Damon, lauds "A People’s History" and urges Robin Williams’s character to read it. Damon, who co-wrote the script, was a neighbor of the Zinns growing up.
"Howard had a great mind and was one of the great voices in the American political life," Ben Affleck, also a family friend growing up and Damon's co-star in "Good Will Hunting," said in a statement. "He taught me how valuable -- how necessary -- dissent was to democracy and to America itself. He taught that history was made by the everyman, not the elites. I was lucky enough to know him personally and I will carry with me what I learned from him -- and try to impart it to my own children -- in his memory."
Damon was later involved in a television version of the book, "The People Speak," which ran on the History Channel in 2009, and he narrated a 2004 biographical documentary, "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train."
"Howard had a genius for the shape of public morality and for articulating the great alternative vision of peace as more than a dream," said James Carroll a columnist for the Globe's opinion pages whose friendship with Dr. Zinn dates to when Carroll was a Catholic chaplain at BU. "But above all, he had a genius for the practical meaning of love. That is what drew legions of the young to him and what made the wide circle of his friends so constantly amazed and grateful."
Dr. Zinn was born in New York City on Aug. 24, 1922, the son of Jewish immigrants, Edward Zinn, a waiter, and Jennie (Rabinowitz) Zinn, a housewife. He attended New York public schools and was working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard when he met Roslyn Shechter.
"She was working as a secretary," Dr. Zinn said in an interview with the Globe nearly two years ago. "We were both working in the same neighborhood, but we didn't know each other. A mutual friend asked me to deliver something to her. She opened the door, I saw her, and that was it."
He joined the Army Air Corps, and they courted through the mail before marrying in October 1944 while he was on his first furlough. She died in 2008.
During World War II, he served as a bombardier, was awarded the Air Medal, and attained the rank of second lieutenant.
After the war, Dr. Zinn worked at a series of menial jobs until entering New York University on the GI Bill as a 27-year-old freshman. He worked nights in a warehouse loading trucks to support his studies. He received his bachelor’s degree from NYU, followed by master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University.
Dr. Zinn was an instructor at Upsala College and lecturer at Brooklyn College before joining the faculty of Spelman College in Atlanta, in 1956. He served at the historically black women’s institution as chairman of the history department. Among his students were novelist Alice Walker, who called him "the best teacher I ever had," and Marian Wright Edelman, future head of the Children's Defense Fund.
During this time, Dr. Zinn became active in the civil rights movement. He served on the executive committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most aggressive civil rights organization of the time, and participated in numerous demonstrations.
Dr. Zinn became an associate professor of political science at BU in 1964 and was named full professor in 1966.
The focus of his activism became the Vietnam War. Dr. Zinn spoke at many rallies and teach-ins and drew national attention when he and the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, another leading antiwar activist, went to Hanoi in 1968 to receive three prisoners released by the North Vietnamese.
Dr. Zinn’s involvement in the antiwar movement led to his publishing two books: "Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal" (1967) and "Disobedience and Democracy" (1968). He had previously published "LaGuardia in Congress" (1959), which had won the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Prize; "SNCC: The New Abolitionists" (1964); "The Southern Mystique" (1964); and "New Deal Thought" (1966).
He also was the author of "The Politics of History" (1970); "Postwar America" (1973); "Justice in Everyday Life" (1974); and "Declarations of Independence" (1990).
In 1988, Dr. Zinn took early retirement to concentrate on speaking and writing. The latter activity included writing for the stage. Dr. Zinn had two plays produced: "Emma," about the anarchist leader Emma Goldman, and "Daughter of Venus."
On his last day at BU, Dr. Zinn ended class 30 minutes early so he could join a picket line and urged the 500 students attending his lecture to come along. A hundred did.
"Howard was an old and very close friend," Chomsky said. "He was a person of real courage and integrity, warmth and humor. He was just a remarkable person."
Carroll called Dr. Zinn "simply one of the greatest Americans of our time. He will not be replaced -- or soon forgotten. How we loved him back."
In addition to his daughter, Dr. Zinn leaves a son, Jeff of Wellfleet; three granddaughters; and two grandsons.Funeral plans were not available.
Monday, February 1, 2010
The rule of law does not do away with the unequal distribution of wealth and power but reinforces that inequality with the authority of law. It allocates wealth and poverty in such complicated and indirect ways as to leave the victim bewildered.
- Howard Zinn
A man to look up to.
Mr. Zinn relized that to understand something like forign policy one had to understand a comprehensive forign reality. We think that by studying the the ones in charge, the "leaders" that we will have an acurate idea what it was like and then we can asses the situation's process of design, implimentation and merits. Howard Zinn taught us that this is not true, this is but a myth. How you really understand something like foreign policy is by studying people--all people. Today the world (the resistance) is at a loss. Few, to my knowledge, have the patience, discipline and love for people as Mr.Zinn had, to research and articulate the experience of other peoples in the world--the ones we'd like to write out. He offered a, much missing, perspective that completed the context and articulated all who were involved to give a true story. He was and is a beautiful inconveniences; he challenged the status quo: the way we use history the way we tell history and not only did he challenge those with power but also challenged those without to inventory our humanness and respond--respond boldy. Howard Zinn lived boldly and i want to as well, join him.
Learn more: Howard Zinn's Stories