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A petition by Friends of the RNC 8 has been put together calling for the Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner to drop all the charges against the RNC 8. Defend The RNC8! Dismiss the Charges! :

The goal is 100,000 signatures. Please take a moment to sign the petition. Then help get the word out by forwarding the petition to friends and family.

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The legal costs for the RNC 8 are estimated at $250,000. Donations can be made via PayPal or you can mail in a check (there is even a tax deductible option). All the information you need is at: Donations of all sizes are greatly appreciated.

Recent article:

RNC Terrorists? Or just young people speaking their minds?
Three activists nabbed in pre-convention raid deny any plans for violence

Originally published by

At times, they laugh at how ridiculous it seems.

But Monica Bicking and Garrett Fitzgerald weren’t laughing when police broke down the door of their South Minneapolis house before 8 a.m. Aug. 30, stormed inside and pointed guns in their faces.

“I was woken up out of a deep sleep to screaming and banging,” Bicking said. “It’s scary.”

Max Specktor was not there when police came to his house two miles away. But he was arrested two days later, on Sept. 1. “I was leaving in a car, and they pulled the car over right away,” he said.

Bicking, Fitzgerald and Specktor are three of eight young Minneapolis residents charged in Ramsey County with conspiracy to commit riot “in furtherance of terrorism,” allegedly to disrupt last month’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

The unusual charge stems from a 2002 Minnesota terrorism law, a version of the federal Patriot Act passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism,” said Bruce Nestor, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild who is representing Bicking, in a recent statement. Read the rest of this entry »

I found this letter to the editor in the Scotland Herald pretty spot-on with its analysis, so I thought I’d repost it.  Worth reading, even without the article he’s responding to. [alex]

Ian Bell’s superb analysis that we are undergoing a “paradigm shift” in economics is timely and insightful (October 25). This is potentially a wonderful time in human history. As someone who has read Marx, Mr Bell recognises the inevitable consequence of capital accumulation as paper “value” in a system in which money is issued as debt, at interest.

Thus finance capital expands exponentially in the hands of fewer and fewer people desperately trying to increase their individual net worth through calls on the product of the real economy, which has to grow to meet these.

In contrast, the real economy can grow only as far and as fast as increasing productivity and technological innovation will allow, resulting in what the great US Green economist Herman Daly calls the “fallacy of exponentially increasing natural resource productivity”, whereby mainstream economics proclaims resource infinity – a scientific absurdity – and treats depletion and pollution as joint externalities.

Thus the desperate search for economic rents in all areas of life (the encroachment of the private into the public under the Thatcher/Reagan voodoo economics of the Chicago school), and a succession of speculative bubbles. Mr Bell also recognises this as the consequence of class war, whereby the owners of capital retain an outrageously unfair proportion of surplus value. Proof that the class war is still alive: bailouts for the owners of capital, and recapitalisation of destitute banks from public funds, the usual expected remedies now being applied: Some pseudo-Keynesian activity used to stimulate demand (but the owners of capital will not let this go too far). There will be some winners from the fire sales of assets (Citicorp and JP Morgan spring to mind) and there will be great anger and hardship.

But the probability that this will work this time is limited by two things: we are likely at peak oil, thus destroying any prospect of growth in the real economy, and global warming plus biofuel production is increasing basic food prices through scarcity of food and water, and finity is taking care of all other basic resources. Meanwhile, the expansion of western economies (demanded by finance capital) is limited largely to the military-industrial (the civil real economy having been exported to points east to exploit cheaper labour there). So the Keynesian option is seriously limited, except by war, which is problematic since present wars are being financed by the Saudis and Chinese purchase of T-bonds – and these are going badly – but sadly not impossible (read some of Joseph Biden’s speeches and quiver).

The finance capitalist paradigm is broken, probably beyond repair. For students of Marx, there is absolutely nothing surprising about this, the only surprise being that anyone is surprised. Indeed, much of this was also understood (but forgotten by his country) by the great Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Constitution, and president: “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” Well, now we have both – owned and controlled by the same people.

The Marxian analysis is right, to a point. But Marx was a man of his time, and like Adam Smith, who grew up on the nascent Scottish coalfields, saw the “infinite” potential of extraneous hydrocarbon injections as part-liberator of the working class. (Marxism, too, is into “technological fixes”).

This option is no longer open. A recession that reduces consumption in an ecologically challenged world is no bad thing, so long as we share the hardships. The present crisis offers us a new beginning: a move to steady state economics and a system that returns humanity to a balance with the rest of our natural ecology. We have reached the end of the present paradigm; what matters is to choose the right successor. If we don’t? The words of another great US scholar and statesman spring to mind: “This sucker is going down”. For “sucker” read planet.
Dr John O’Dowd, Bothwell.

this is a nice article that sums up the current financial crisis and some of its global implications. the major piece which is missing, as usual, is an understanding of how global capitalism, and the American Empire in particular, has been propped up by a sea of oil, how the depletion of that oil has sparked this collapse, and why the deepening shortage of oil will prevent anything similar to this capitalist system from coming back, ever again. i’ll try to write an article to explain this soon. [alex]

Death of the American Empire
America is self-destructing & bringing the rest of the world down with it

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. (Thomas Jefferson, US President; 1743 – 1826)

America is dying. It is self-destructing and bringing the rest of the world down with it.

Often referred to as a sub-prime mortgage collapse, this obfuscates the real reason. By associating tangible useless failed mortgages, at least something ‘real’ can be blamed for the carnage. The problem is, this is myth. The magnitude of this fiscal collapse happened because it was all based on hot air.

The banking industry renamed insurance betting guarantees as ‘credit default swaps’ and risky gambling wagers were called ‘derivatives’. Financial managers and banking executives were selling the ultimate con to the entire world, akin to the snake-oil salesmen from the 18th century but this time in suits and ties. And by October 2009 it was a quadrillion-dollar (that’s $1,000 trillion) industry that few could understand.

Propped up by false hope, America is now falling like a house of cards. Read the rest of this entry »

Hopi Grand Canyon Sunset

Hopi Grand Canyon Sunset

Copied from

A Hopi Elder Speaks

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

“The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

— attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder

Hopi Nation
Oraibi, Arizona

Whose economy is it really? [alex]

Special report: How our economy is killing the Earth

Originally published by New Scientist, 16 October 2008.

Growth is death

Growth is death

THE graphs climbing across these pages (see graph, right, or explore in more detail) are a stark reminder of the crisis facing our planet. Consumption of resources is rising rapidly, biodiversity is plummeting and just about every measure shows humans affecting Earth on a vast scale. Most of us accept the need for a more sustainable way to live, by reducing carbon emissions, developing renewable technology and increasing energy efficiency.

But are these efforts to save the planet doomed? A growing band of experts are looking at figures like these and arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy.

This, of course, is economic heresy. Growth to most economists is as essential as the air we breathe: it is, they claim, the only force capable of lifting the poor out of poverty, feeding the world’s growing population, meeting the costs of rising public spending and stimulating technological development – not to mention funding increasingly expensive lifestyles. They see no limits to that growth, ever.

In recent weeks it has become clear just how terrified governments are of anything that threatens growth, as they pour billions of public money into a failing financial system. Amid the confusion, any challenge to the growth dogma needs to be looked at very carefully. This one is built on a long-standing question: how do we square Earth’s finite resources with the fact that as the economy grows, the amount of natural resources needed to sustain that activity must grow too? Read the rest of this entry »

Worth watching this 3 minute video for an incredibly clear and concise explanation of Peak Oil and why it’s the source of this economic collapse, by Dr. Richard Heinberg.  The near-term forecast for the economy is probably a series of large swings up and down, but as the oil shortage deepens the long-term trend will be an accelerating decline in economic activity.

For more, see this short explanation of why the current drop in oil prices is only temporary… (once again – my normal disclaimer – don’t hold me to everything he says here.. particularly not the “markets may be efficient…” statement) [alex]

“The Magic Market”

Richard Heinberg

Originally published by Post Carbon Institute, Oct. 13, 2008.

As the world finance system disintegrates and the price of oil wafts below $80 a barrel, we are about to see yet another instance of Market Magic.

Demand for oil is falling as world economic activity sputters. Many analysts are now forecasting that the barrel price could go as low as $50 to $60 in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, however, the marginal cost of bringing a new barrel of oil into production has been rising in recent years, and now stands in the range of $80 to $100. Therefore, as the spot price and futures prices weaken, efforts to develop new oil sources will be mothballed. Read the rest of this entry »

US Senate — Working for Wall St., not us

Jerry Silberman, Oct. 2, 2008

The Wall St. Rescue bill which gained new life with the Senate rubber stamp yesterday will neither halt the decline of the US economy nor penalize the financial gamblers who have been the most immediate cause of this disaster.

Here are two important historical comparisons —

In the late 70’s and early ’80’s, the offensive by big business against workers took the form of demanding concessions in wages and benefits mostly from industrial unions, claiming that if factories weren’t made more “competitive” through reduction of labor costs, they would go out of business. Of course, no employer guaranteed the future of the plant of the job, we were supposed to trust them. Of course, it was a scam. Plants that took concessions closed. Plants that didn’t closed. The economic transformation was based in much larger issues. In plants that closed after concessions, the bosses simply walked away with more, and the workers were left with less. The money stolen by the bosses as a result of concessions helped fund the elimination of thousands of jobs through automation, as well as the transfer of manufacturing plants out of the country. The labor movement at the time was unprepared to fight back, since it bought into the general principles of the bosses, and is still suffering, despite renewed energy in certain unions.

The several “bail outs” that have happened over the past year are identical to those concessions — big business is threatening us with dire consequences if we don’t protect them, while making no promise that anything will get better if we do. Each bailout is bigger than the last, and more futile — except for the corporate executives who are continuing to stash the cash. Each bailout imposes more costs on us, now and in the future, as positive government programs are sacrificed and more debt is imposed on our tax dollar. Right now about 51 cents of every tax dollar goes to the military. Interest on the national debt, that is tax dollars which go directly to pay the government bond holders is the third largest item in the federal budget, right now one half trillion per year. Since about 140 million people file federal income tax returns annually, this means that on average, about $2000 of your taxes are already going to pay off bondholders on Wall St, in Saudi Arabia, China, and many other countries. This number will jump as a result of this bailout. That’s all money not available for schools, health care, environmental protection, etc.

In the early ’30’s the economy collapsed in what is commonly referred to as the Great Depression. Unlike this collapse that began early in the term of Herbert Hoover. By the time of the next presidential election, millions of Americans were impoverished and beginning to organize to fight back. They were marching in the streets for unemployment insurance, refusing to allow people to be evicted from their homes by blockading homes from the sheriff, WWI vets marched on Washington demanding relief and were fired on by current troops under the command of Gen. MacArthur (later of WWII fame) Radical political movements were growing. The new president recognized that some concessions had to be made to the working class by big business or the US would risk a revolutionary situation. Roosevelt, pressured by those movements of ordinary people who couldn’t take it any more, finally convinced Congress to enact several reforms, including unemployment insurance, Social Security, and tough banking regulations (repealed in the Reagan and Bush administrations) to stabilize the economy.

Although there are many very important differences in the current situation from those historical times, there are some very important common threads, the most important being that collective action by working people to challenge the rich and powerful is the key to any change which can create a more stable, secure and healthy life for us. And our goal must be based on a comprehensive vision of a just society, not just trying to protect a niche for ourselves.

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