Viagra bribes for Afghan Warlords

America's CIA has found a novel way to gain information from fickle Afghan warlords - supplying sex-enhancing drug Viagra, a US media report says.

The Washington Post said it was one of a number of enticements being used.

In one case, a 60-year-old warlord with four wives was given four pills and four days later detailed Taleban movements in return for more.

"Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people," the Post quoted one agent as saying.

"Whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra."

'Silver bullet'

The newspaper said the use of Viagra had to be handled sensitively as the drug was not always known about in rural areas.

It quoted one retired agent as saying: "You didn't hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones."

In the case of the 60-year-old warlord - the head of a clan in southern Afghanistan who had not co-operated - operatives saw he had four younger wives.

The pills were explained and offered. Four days later the agents returned.

"He came up to us beaming," the Post quoted an agent as saying. "He said, 'You are a great man.'

"And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area."

The pills could put chieftains "back in an authoritative position", another official said.

The paper said the CIA had a long line of inducements for the notoriously fickle warlords, including dental work, visas, toys and medicine.

It quoted one private security official as saying that simply handing over large sums of money would raise suspicions about newfound wealth



happy holidays

Xmas tree from Greece. Complements of M.F.


What We See, What We Hope: Declaration of Solidarity with the Uprising in Greece

What We See, What We Hope:
Declaration of Solidarity with the Uprising in Greece

We want first of all to say a collective yes! to the uprising in Greece. We are artists, writers and teachers who are connected in this moment by common friends and commitments. We are globally dispersed and are mostly watching, and hoping, from afar. But some of us are also there, in Athens, and have been on the streets, have felt the rage and the tear gas, and have glimpsed the dancing specter of the other world that is possible. We claim no special right to speak or be heard. Still, we have a few things to say. For this is also a global moment for speaking and sharing, for hoping and thinking together...

No one can doubt that the protest and occupation movement that has spread across Greece since the police murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos in Athens on 6 December is a social uprising whose causes reach far deeper than the obscene event that triggered it. The rage is real, and it is justified. The filled streets, strikes and walk-outs, and occupied schools, universities, union halls and television stations have refuted early official attempts to dismiss the social explosion as the work of a small number of “young people” in Exarchia, Athens or elsewhere in Greece.

What remains to be seen is whether the movement now emerging will become an effective political force – and, if it does, whether it will be contained within a liberal-reformist horizon or will aim at a more radical social and political transformation. If the movement takes the liberal-reformist path, then the most to be expected will be the replacement of one corrupt party in power by its corrupt competitor, accompanied by a few token concessions wrapped in the empty rhetoric of democracy. These would almost certainly be the smoke-screen for a reactionary wave of new repressive powers masquerading as security measures. Only radically democratic and emancipatory demands, clearly articulated and resolutely struggled for, could prevent this outcome and open the space for a rupture in a destructive global system of domination and exploitation. As we count ourselves among those who experience this system as the violent negation of human spirit and potential, we could only welcome such a rupture as a reassertion of humanity in the face of a repressive politics of fear.

Observing events in Greece and the official and corporate media discourse developing in response to them, we note the emergence of what begins to looks like a new elite consensus. The “violent unrest” in Greece, we are told with increasing frequency, is the revolt of the “700-Euro generation” – that is, of overeducated young people with too few prospects of a decent position and income. The solution, by this account, is to revitalize Greek society through more structural adjustments to make the economy more dynamic and efficient. Once all people are convinced they will be welcomed and integrated into consumer reality and rewarded with purchasing power commensurate with their educational investment, then the conditions of this “revolt” will have been eliminated. In short: everything will be fine, and everyone happy, once some adjustments have made capitalism in Greece less wasteful of its human resources.

We have seen this strategy before, in response to the uprisings in the suburbs of Paris and around the CPE “reforms” in France several years ago. Indeed, since the 1960s this has been the perennial, preferred strategy of power to all uprisings that show themselves unwilling to disappear immediately. Its functions are crystal clear: to channel the movement in a neutralizing liberal-reformist direction and to provoke divisions by means of lures and promises. Those who don’t take the bait are left isolated and can be safely targeted for repression.

We hope those in the streets and all those who sympathize with and support them in and outside of Greece will see through this strategy and expose and denounce it. We’re sure that there is much more at stake, and much more to be imagined, hoped and struggled for, than will be on offer in this neo-liberal sleeping pill. And we hope that, in the space opened up by the real rage and courage of people who have left passivity and hopelessness behind, this social movement will now organize itself into a durable political force capable of scorning such recuperative enticements.

In light of the above, we declare openly that:
1) We are moved by the courage and humanity of those who have repeatedly filled the streets and are now occupying schools and university campuses in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and cities across Greece. Our solidarity with them will not be shaken by official attempts to divide the movement into “good” protesters and “bad.” In the face of the police murder of a 15-year old – only the most recent in a long series of such murders by state officers – and in the face of the grinding inhumanity and relentless militarization of everyday life under the capitalist war of all against all, the destruction of private property does not upset us. To be clear: We’re not endorsing violence blindly; in fact we’re heartened to see that actions are becoming more selective, more political, with each day. But we know how divisive fixation on the “violence” of protesters can be in moments such as these. And so we refuse to go along with attempts to isolate certain groups. Those who play along with that script allow themselves to be used in a way that delivers others to direct repression.

2) We call for the immediate liberation and unconditional amnesty for all those arrested for participating in the uprising – more than 400 people at this writing.

3) We reject all attempts to trivialize this uprising by reducing it to the revolt of an overeducated “700-Euro generation.”

4) We categorically reject any attempt to smear this uprising with the label of “terrorism.” The only terror it is appropriate to speak of here is the ongoing state terror inflicted on the autonomists of Exarchia, on immigrants, on the poor and vulnerable, and on all those who refuse to conform and submit to the bleak and violent givens of capitalist normality. We condemn any attempt, now or in the future, to apply draconian “anti-terrorism” laws and measures against those participating in this movement.

Brett Bloom (Urbana)
Dimitris Bacharas (Athens)
Rozalinda Borcila (Chicago)
Peter Conlin (London)
Alexandros Efklidis (Thessaloniki)
Markus Euskirchen (Berlin)
Nathalie Fixon (Paris)
Bonnie Fortune (Urbana)
Kirsten Forkert (London)
John Fulljames (London)
Jack Hirschman (San Francisco)
Antoneta Kotsi (Athens)
Isabella Kounidou (Nicosia)
Henrik Lebuhn (San Francisco)
Ed Marszewski (Chicago)
Jasmin Mersmann (Berlin)
Anna Papaeti (Athens)
Csaba Polony (Oakland)
Katja Praznik (Ljubljana)
Gene Ray (Berlin)
Tamas St. Auby (Budapest)
Gregory Sholette (New York)
G.M. Tamás (Budapest)
Flora Tsilaga (Athens)


Here are links to sites for more reports and news:

mainstream news summaries:


Thomas Hirschhorn: 'Doing Art Politically: What does this mean?'

Art Review, one of the few art mags we really like has this great lecture on it by Thomas Hirschhorn.

Find more videos like this on artreview.com


Dave the Lightbulb Man Show

Our friend Reuben Kincaid produced this new tv show with Thunderhorse Video and friends.


Hail to Chicago, Beacon of American Values



America is going back to basics. When the stock market plummeted on Black Monday, September 29, the only share to rise was Campbells Soup and now, amid the funereal gloom of a rotten Christmas selling season the nation’s spirits are being rallied by the five-star political corruption scandal in Chicago centered on Governor Rod Blagojevich. Now at last the city can crawl out from under the odorless uplift of Obamian “hope” and swagger back into the fragrant, smoke-filled rooms of municipal graft, with Blagojevich’s voice booming on the FBI phone taps as he hawked Obama’s vacant senate seat for cash and ripely cursed those failing to “pay to play”.

It’s scarcely 72 hours since the FBI seized Blagojevich in his jogging clothes and already the scandal’s storyline has metastasized at pell mell speed, weaving its way through such characters as Blagojevich’s spirited wife Patti, herself worth a full episode in the upcoming tv series as the Lady MacBeth of the whole affair. Overshadowed by her dad, Dick Mell (invariably described as the powerful alderman), and her politically ambitious sister, Patti was swept off her feet by Blago’s talents as an Elvis impersonator. It was Patti who colorfully exhorted her spouse to exact a (very modest) price from the now bankrupt Chicago Tribune which was pleading for financial assistance in connection with the sale of the Cubs and the ballpark in which they play. Patti wanted a pesky editorial writer fired and I seem to remember, from the complaint, that the Trib’s men said they could do that. Why not? A state-sponsored bailout vs. a mangy pundit? No contest. Heave him over the side!

Top storyline has been the impact of Blagojevich’s indictment on Obama. At the very moment the president-elect proclaims an era of uplift and constitutional propriety, the slimy tentacles of old-style Chicago corruption snake towards his ankles. The chortles of outgoing President George Bush Jr., himself harassed by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in the Scooter Libby affair, must be rich and prolonged.

Blagojevich did Obama the enormous favor of denouncing him on the government’s tapes. “F--- him,” bellowed the governor during a call with top aides and Patti, covertly recorded by the FBI on November 10th, “For nothing? F--- him.” The governor was peeved that Obama’s representatives weren’t offering him any material incentives to nominate Obama’s political associate and Chicago powerhouse, Valerie Jarrett, for the senate seat vacated by Obama. The president elect can thank his stars for the expletive, but potential embarrassments still loom.

At Blagojevich’s elbow amid his corrupt intrigues was the real estate operator Tony Rezko, now serving time, who helped Obama in the early days, and subsequently to get his fine house in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will undoubtedly use Rezko against Blagojevich and Obama’s name is sure to surface, as will that of his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a major Democratic player in Chicago politics, whose role in the affair was certainly significant, as one might expect since a senate seat is up for grabs. Both Obama and Emanuel campaigned for Blagojevich in his two gubernatorial campaigns. Remember also that Rahm took over Blago’s congressional seat, in which cause he probably found Blago the campaigns funds to get into the governor’s mansion. Also in the loop of rumor is Obama’s political godfather, Illinois state senate president Emil Jones, one of the those – designated only by numbers in the federal indictment – angling to be nominated as Obama’s replacement.

There is fierce infighting between two leading Democrats in the US Congress. US Senate majority leader Harry Reid wants either Blagojevich, or the Illinois legislature to appoint a Democrat to succeed Obama and avoid any erosion of the Democrats’ substantial senate majority in Congress. But Illinois’ senior senator, Dick Durbin, says correctly that only a special democratic (within Illinois’s permissive definition of that word) election of the new senator will dispel the stench of scandal. In such an election a Republican could conceivably win.

Meanwhile Jesse Jackson Jr has rushed before the microphones and cameras to proclaim that he is not under federal investigation. Jackson has been named as possibly being candidate number 5. The person marked by this chaste numeral allegedly promised Blagojevich a total of $1 million in return for the nomination. (Jarrett, who had already taken herself out of the running, was supposedly candidate number one.)

Coming into focus is the familiar and always pleasing landscape of American political corruption – a rich habitat where businessmen and state officials collaborate in the allocation of no-bid contracts, bestowing of profitable concessions, permits, waivers, zoning variances, monopolies and other political mechanisms propelling the well greased axles of state and local government.

Of course the good government crowd is aghast. “I was speechless and sickened,” wails Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “In all of the millions of indictments I’ve read over the last years, I can’t remember anything as vile as this.” Another reformer moans about “the damage to the state,. It’s going to take a long time to dig out.” Nonsense. This is exactly the sort of scandal Americans understand and appreciate. Good government is the province of states animated by the social democratic ethos of prim Nordics, like the Dakotas, or Washington in the Pacific Northwest. In the riper ethnic cauldrons of Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and of course New Jersey, corruption reigns in all its intricate and creative forms. In these states no politician is beyond the reach of an indictment, and this political certainty is the truest form of Americanism and the soundest check and balance against the arrogance of power.

If defended by a capable lawyer I don’t see any reason why Blago shouldn’t emerge from his ordeal with a verdict of Not Guilty from the 12 jurors. Don’t those freedoms we supposedly enjoy include the right to dream over the breakfast table or the cocktail shaker of extorting large sums of money from ambitious politicians and venal businessmen? It’s one thing to dream and another to actually grab the bundle of cash, stick it in the refrigerator and say, The senate seat is yours. Fitzgerald pounced too soon. And even if the quid pro quo is there on film, juries can be forgiving, as their indulgent scrutinies of FBI footage of John Z.Delorean and Mayor Marion Barry attest.

Similarly, what's wrong with Jesse Jackson Jr hitting up a bunch of Indian businessmen for $1 million and pledging to dump it in Blago’s political campaign chest, in return for services rendered in the form of the senate seat? If this is felonious conduct, shouldn’t 98 per cent of all elected politicians in this country be behind bars? The American political system is fuelled by campaign contributions, and corresponding quid pro quos. Politicians are elected to deliver services. They need money to get elected. The people who need services give it to them. That’s the way the system works. The Washington Post congratulates Obama for steering clear of the slime of Chicago politics, but what actually happened is that Obama moved to richer pastures. Not for him Tony Rezko’s dingy billfold, but the dignity of anticipatory bri. . . uh, campaign contributions from the Pritzkers, the Crown family, the big ethanol interests in the Midwest, the nuclear industry, Wall Street financiers, the biggest of big time money, now graterfully acknowledged in the form of Obama’s cabinet appointments. Obama raised more money than any presidential candidate in the history of American poltics, and here we are getting excited about Rod Blagojevich?


'Yes' Vote at Republic: Workers Get Pay, Plant Occupation Ends


'Yes' Vote at Republic: Workers Get Pay, Plant Occupation Ends
10 December, 2008

After the conclusion of negotiations Wednesday evening, the membership of Local 1110, more than 200 workers, met in the plant cafeteria to hear and consider the tentative settlement that had been worked out by UE negotiators over the past three days.

The settlement was approved by a unanimous vote.
'We Did It!'

Following the vote, the UE members, led by Local President Armando Robles, marched out of the plant, chanting “We did it!” in English and Spanish.

Pres. Robles stepped to the microphones outside the front entrance to the plant, where a throng of reporters and cameras had been waiting. "The occupation is over," he announced. "We have achieved victory. We said we will not go until we got justice, and we have it."

UE Western Region President Carl Rosen, who led the union negotiating team, then described the negotiations, summarized the settlement agreement, and commented on the significance of the struggle and the workers' achievement.
Pay, Health Care, Vacation Pay

The settlement totals $1.75 million. It will provide the workers with:

* Eight weeks of pay they are owed under the federal WARN Act,
* Two months of continued health coverage and,
* Pay for all accrued and unused vacation.

JPMorgan Chase will provide $400,000 of the settlement, with the balance coming from Bank of America.
Third Party Fund

Although the money will be provided as a loan to Republic Windows and Doors, it will go directly into a third-party fund whose sole purpose is to pay the workers what is owed them.

As the Local 1110 leaders characterized the settlement, “We fought to make them pay what they owe us, and we won.”
'Historic Victory'

UE Director of Organization Bob Kingsley spoke on behalf of the National Union, describing the outcome of the occupation as “a victory for workers everywhere,” and as “an historic victory for America’s labor movement.”

Kingsley went on to call the settlement “a win for all working men and women who face uncertainty, unfairness and job loss in a troubled economy.”
The 'Window of Opportunity Fund'

Kingsley then announced the creation of a new foundation, dedicated to reopening the plant. It will be initiated with seed money from the UE national union and the thousands of dollars of donations to UE Local 1110's Solidarity Fund that have come in from across the country and around the world in just the past five days.

Melvin Maclin of Local 1110 announced the name of the foundation, which was chosen by the workers themselves: the Window of Opportunity Fund. Maclin said that the fund will be open to receive donations from all friends of the Republic workers and supporters of their struggle.

Rosen introduced U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, praising the congressman for his tireless work in behalf of the Republic workers and indispensible role in bringing about the settlement. Gutierrez spoke at some length, and then introduced David Rudis, Illinois state president for Bank of America. In a statement to reporters, Rep. Gutierrez said, "This money will only be used to pay the workers the benefits they are owed under the law, and it will not under any circumstance be used for corporate bonuses, luxury cars or any other perk for the owners of the plant."



Update on the factory occupation

Little update:

We just got back from Republic Windows & Doors factory in Chicago.
It seems like the alarm bells are off for now. The sense of urgency and the threat to their occupation is over. There is a good chance that UE Local 1110 will resolve the issue tonight (Tuesday Dec 9) with the company and the bank and reach a settlement to compensate the workers.

However, if this falls through tonight, the workers do plan on continuing the occupation of the factory and will need some of your help.

An UE organizer we spoke to said he has never seen this much community support for an action in his ten years of organizing. Many are saying a Sit-in or factory occupation like this hasn't happened in the US since the depression of the 30s.
Watch this site:

Support the Workers Occupying Factory in Chicago

We received this and many notices like it regarding the state of the workers ccupying the Republic Windows & Doors factory in Chicago.

Please forward:

As some of you may know, Illinois governor Blagojevich was arrested this morning by FBI agents on "federal corruption charges. "

However, what this means in terms of the members UE Local 1110 occupying the Republic Windows & Doors factory: ALL MEDIA ATTENTION HAS SHIFTED TO COVERING THE GOVERNOR, AND UE ORGANIZERS FEAR A RAID AT ANY TIME.

Please, GO TO THE FACTORY at any time today if you can:
Republic Windows, 1333 N. Hickory in Chicago, on Goose Island
(by the North Ave Whole Foods)

View Larger Map

Show your support and be there to observe any potential abuse, raid, and injustice. I know it's raining, and I know many of you work and will be unable to go until later this evening (like me), but please, we can each use our privilege and access to internet/communication networks today to inform as many people as possible about this, through emails and texts.
Sign up for the UE twitter updates at http://www.ueunion.org/ue_republic.html
Also sign up your friends by getting them to send the text "follow ueunion" to 40404.

***PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW, Chicago folks, Movement folks, and beyond


Come to rally! Hear about their struggle!

This week CICWI will host noontime rallies at the plant each day, with the exception of Wednesday's downtown location. The schedule is:
Tuesday, Dec 9 12 noon Republic Windows, 1333 N. Hickory
Wednesday, Dec10 12 noon Bank of America, 231 S. LaSalle
Thursday, Dec 11 12 noon Republic Windows, 1333 N. Hickory
Friday, Dec 12 12 noon Republic Windows, 1333 N. Hickory
Saturday, Dec 13 12 noon Republic Windows, 1333 N. Hickory


Dec 12 Proximity magazine release party

Friday, December 12, 2008, 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
At The Post Family (1821 W Hubbard St #202)

Please join us as we celebrate the release of the third issue of Proximity Magazine at the Post Family headquarters, the Family Room.

The release party is this Friday, December 12th, from 7pm-midnight at the Family Room (1821 W Hubbard). Tickets are $5 at the door, or $10 for a drink and a copy of Proximity.

We'll have a video by Jenni Rope, the Second World Premiere of the Dave the Lightbulb Man Show (... in SPACE), and art by the Post Family Collective as well as Sonnenzimmer, Sighn, Delicious Design League, Matt Siber, and Johan Salus. Plus readings by James Kennedy, Erika
Mikkalo, and Chris Estey (as covered by Jerry Boyle).

Contact ed@proximitymagazine.com for help.

Proximity is a magazine dedicated to contemporary art and culture. Our mission is to amplify discourse on local and global art ecologies. We hope to serve as a map—of artists, collectives and alternative spaces to commercial galleries, museums and universities—as means of connecting and cultivating sustainable creative communities.

Proximity magazine is published by the Public Media Institute a non-profit community-based grass roots arts and culture organization based in Chicago. Our mission is to promote art, technology and social activism in order to transform people - socially and intellectually – through the production of festivals, events, exhibitions, community projects, publications and other media.



We are incredibly sorry that we have to share all these listings for awesome events and announcements in December.

1. December 3-7 :: Release of Proximity #3 in Miami at NADA Art Fair
3. December 6th :: Two AREA Events
4. December 12th :: Proximity # 3 release party in Chicago
5. December 13th :: Three Walls Crystal Ball
6. December 19th ::: The Animation Festival 2008 at Co-Prosperity Sphere
7. Call for texts Lumpen # 111
8. Young Polish Artists (YPA) - call for participation

Proximity Issue #3 released in Miami at NADA art fair.
December 3 - 7th, 2008
at The Ice Palace,
1400 North Miami Avenue

While the economy turns, we do too, by going south for one week to release Proximity magazine # 3 to the Art fags in Miami. Visit our table at NADA Art Fair.

A 10th anniversary celebration & the Chicago book release party for Public Phenomena
Friday, December 5, 2008, 7:30 PM – 12:00 AM
At the Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan, Chicago

Temporary Services is celebrating their tenth year of existence with a party and concert at the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Art and ephemera from their archives will be on display, and items from their newly created Half Letter Press will be for sale. Free food will be available and all ages are welcome.


The Velcro Lewis Group
(the loudest swamp rock rhythm and power group that you've ever been able to dance to)

Dead Druglords
(recorded salsa & cumbia beats with cardboard exiled criminals from Bogata)

Analog Zebras & Snebtor
(inexplicable sounds & images from Columbia via Lafayette, IN)

$5.00 admission ($15.00 gets you a copy of "Public Phenomena")

At the Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219 S. Morgan St, Chicago

Temporary Services: www.temporaryservices.org
Half Letter Press: www.halfletterpress.com
Co-Prosperity Sphere: http://www.lumpen.com/CPS/

Velcro Lewis Group: http://www.myspace.com/922889

Analog Zebras & Snebtor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwuY4X8ifKk and http://www.myspace.com/analogzebra
and http://www.myspace.com/snebtor

ABOUT PUBLIC PHENOMENA: What do trees growing through fences, roadside memorials, and handmade basketball hoops have to do with the erosion of public space in our cities? How can a sign asking people not to repair their car in the street be an indicator of personal revolution?

Public Phenomena is a 152-page book of color photographs and writing about instances of original and self-made interventions found in public space. It is the result of years of research on common instances of small changes that impact cities in a big way.


Two AREA Events on December 6th, 2008:
Issue #7 Release Reception and Program & the 2nd Annual Wants and Needs Auction to Benefit AREA

1. AREA Chicago #7 Magazine Release Event: The Inheritance of Politics and The Politics of Inheritance December 6th, 2008 1-4pm
at Jane Addams Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted Chicago IL

1pm-2pm Public release of new issue of AREA on the theme of the legacy of 1968 in Chicago,

2pm-4pm Performances, Films and Speaking by:
Nicole Garneau's Uprising performance; Lucky Pierre performing songs for 1968/2008; James Tracy discusses researching the working class Left in Chicago; clips from Bernadine Mellis' "Struggle Baby" in-progress film on children of the New Left, and more

With contributions by and about:
The Chicago Seed, Steve Macek, Alyssa Vincent, Bernie Faber, Abe Peck, Chicago Journalism Review, Cosmic Frog, Free Schools, Blackstone Rangers, Julie Glasier, Rising Up Angry, Euan Hague, Chicago Surrealist Group, Joey Pizzolato, The Woodlawn Organization, Carrie Breitbach, Kartemquin Films, Darcy Lydum, Chicago Area Draft Resisters, SDS, A.L. Gray, Amy Martin, Negro Digest/Black World, Chris Brancaccio, Harper Court, Andrea Baer, Conservative Vice Lords, Chicago Artist Boycott, Maggie Taft, JOIN Community Union, Lauren Cumbia, James Tracy, Amy Sonnie, Africobra, Black Arts Movement, Edna Togba, UIC SDS, Earl Silbar, Sylvia Fischer, Charles Nissim-Sabat, Marilyn Nissim-Sabat, Nelson Peery, Hymie Rochman, Penelope & Franklin Rosemont, Dr. Quentin Young, Aaron Sarver, Rainbow Coalition, Mike James, PLP, April 68 Oral History Project, Sam Barnett, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Monica Barra, Rebecca Zorach, White Privilege Concept, Mike Staudenmeir, Daniel Tucker, Non Profit Industrial Complex, Eric Tang, Eve Ewing, 68 in 08 Elections, Jerome Grand, Rick Perlstein, Daley, BLW, Vietnam, Iraq, Lucky Pierre, Ben Shepard, BLW, Re-enact 68, Bert Stabler, AJ Kane, Mark Tribe, Winter Soldier, Paige Sarlin, Laura Gluckman, Nicole Garneau, Young Lords, Frank Edwards, Sam Greenlee, Judy Hoffman, Tracye Matthews, Kevin Gosztola, Old Left, Eric Triantafillou, Generation X, Dan S. Wang, Theaster Gates, Bob and Margo Crawford, Lincoln Park, Pete Zelchenko, Mark Shipley, Michael Thompson, Cathleen Schandelmeier, Louise Lincoln, Lumpen, and more.

This event is the culmination of a six month long "Project in Residence" at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum organized by AREA Chicago.

And then when you are done, please join us two miles away at our auction benefit party......

2. Second Annual "Wants and Needs" Auction to Benefit AREA
December 6th, 2008 7-11pm
at CAMPO - 511 N Noble (In a carriage house just behind the Italian restaurant on the NE corner of Grand and Noble). See below for directions.

Come Party and Support AREA Chicago.
Help us move towards financial sustainability with grassroots fundraising!

At 930pm there will be an emcee for a Live "Wants-and-Needs" Auction of Skill and Resource Sharing donated by AREA friends, contributors and advisers. Bids for the Service and Skill Sharing Auction will start as low as $5. We can accept cash, check or credit card on site at the party.

Proceeds from AREA's WANTS and NEEDS Party will benefit the spring 2009 issue of AREA, the "Everybody's Got Money Issues" Issue #8.

$10 Donation at the Door, $20 Donation for admission and a t-shirt.
To RSVP or prepay for admission, email areachicago@gmail.com
Cost of admission gets you one complimentary drink. All drinks after are for cheap donation prices.

Auction items range in cost from $5 to $100

If you know you cannot make it and would still like to donate, visit http://areachicago.org/donate/


The party is at 511 N Noble (In a carriage house just behind the Italian restaurant on the NE corner of Grand and Noble). For a map click here .
o From the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, simply hop on the alsted #8 Bus going North, then get off at Grand and either walk west to Noble or take the #65 bus going west. You will have enough time between the events to grab some italian food in the Grand/Noble area.
o From north or south, this location is extremely accessibly from the #9 Ashland Bus. Simply get off at Ashland and Grand and walk east on Grand 3 blocks to Noble.
o If you are coming from the Blue Line, simply walk 9 blocks west of the Grand stop on the blue line, or take a #65 westbound bus.
o From the Kennedy Expressway, simply exit at Ogden/Exit 50A, merge onto N Racine, turn right on W Erie, and turn left and N Noble.



Proximity #3 Release Party
Friday, December 12, 2008, 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
At The Family Room (1821 W Hubbard St #202)

Please join us as we celebrate the release of the third issue of Proximity
Magazine at the Post Family headquarters, the Family Room. First, we
will be screening some videos that you might have missed, like our new TV show called The Dave the Lightbulb Man Show. We will also feature a few readings by our contributors. And last but not least, we will also be showing art by people featured in this issue, as well as work by the Post Family collective. Please come by for some food and drink and find out more about what Public Media Institute's plans are for 2009. We are starting a sister Proximity publication called Matérial, a printed Proximity poster/calendar called Proximity Buddy and a few more exciting projects.

ThreeWalls announces:
Their 4th annual holiday ball & fundraiser:
Crystal Ball

1513 N Western Avenue, 3rd Floor
December 13th, 2008
Doors at 8 pm, auction at 9:30 pm
Drinks, dancing, live music

$20.00, unlimited drinks
$30.00, includes one piece of ltd. edition stemware (your choice)

CHICAGO: Mark your calendars! Its threewalls annual holiday 'ball' on
December 13th, 8pm at 1513 N Western Ave, 3rd floor.

This year's party, Crystal Ball, will take you to a fantasyland of ice
palaces and wizards, snow queens and magic. So start working on your
costumes and training your fantastic beasts for our best holiday party
to date, featuring our yearly art auction, famed photobooth, fortune
telling and dancing, and a special appearance by The Christmas Wizard.
Best fantasy tattoo gets a prize!

Our auction is shaping up to be a blockbuster event with original
artwork, multiples and editioned prints by local and regional artists
and past residents of the threewalls residency. This is the
opportunity to start or add to your collection or buy a special
holiday gift while supporting the local visual arts.

Scott Speh of Western Exhibitions will play auctioneer, so be ready
with for a raucous time when he auctions off work by Amanda Curtis,
Amanda Ross-Ho, Anne Wilson, Aron Packer, Bebe Krimmer, Brian
McNearney, CamLab, Carmen Price, Carole Lung, Caroline Picard, Chris
Hefner, Chris Millar, Cody Hudson, Craig Doty, Craig Yu, Dani
Leventhal, Daniel Barrow, David Noonan, Deborah Boardman, Deborah
Slabeck-Baker, Diana Guerrero-Maciá, Edra Soto, Ellen Rothenberg, Eric
May, Jason Lahr, Jeanne Dunning, Jesse McLean, Judy Ledgerwood, Julia
Hechtman, Ken Fandell, Lisa Krivacka, Maren Erwin, Matthew Rich,
Melanie Schiff, Michael Dinges, Molly Schafer, Monika Bartholomé,
Nevin Tomlinson, New Catalog, Peter Hoffman, Rebecca Ringquist, Robert
Reinard, Selina Trepp, Sterling Ruby, William Cordova and more…

Ready and waiting to be filled with potion are our annual limited
edition glassware, a set of etched stemware by 2007/08 SOLO artists:
Ann Toebbe, Caleb Jones Lyons, Cayetano Ferrer and Heather Mekkelson.
Each artist's glass is a limited edition of 24 pieces. Glasses are
$30.00 each with free entry to Crystal Ball, or a set for $100.00.

Currently threewalls only annual fundraiser, the holiday ball helps
provide Chicago and region artists with one of the only application
based solo exhibition opportunities in the city, a residency that
brings national and international artists to Chicago to make new work
and network in our community, as well as helping support publications
like PHONEBOOK and Paper & Carriage.

Over the past year the success of the SOLO program has brought
international attention to our first of 7 exhibiting artists, we have
expanded our residency program to become a mobile collaboration with
other art and community organizations in the city and we worked with
artist John Preus on the renovation of our gallery space in order to
create a bookstore for the distribution of artist publications and

We believe in promoting Chicago as an integral site for contemporary
art by cultivating relationships between local artists, residents,
visiting curators, thinkers and writers. threewalls applications and
the success of our program have been fueled by word of mouth: Chicago
is a great place for contemporary art!

Crystal Ball is essential to the development and maintenance of
threewalls, and by helping threewalls, you help cultivate and support
the artists that depend on us.

Join us this year for Crystal Ball and you will make this fundraiser a
success and even a greater time!


The Animation Festival 2008 at Co-Prosperity Sphere

Chicago, Il (November 17, 2008)
Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219-21 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL. 60608

December 19, 2008
Opens: 7:00pm
Screening begins: 8:00pm

The Animation Festival 2008 presents an eclectic compilation of
visually stunning animated shorts. The screening will consist of a
cross-section of experimental work being made by some of the most
talented contemporary animators of today. They range from Chicago
Underground Film Festival winner Martha Colburn's violent and chaotic
take on American culture, to celebrated Chicago filmmaker Jim
Trainor's darkly subversive visions, and the Canada-based Barry
Doupe's ritualized and dream-like world constructed in 3D landscapes.

A full list of participating artists include:

Lisa Barcy
Inga Birgisdottir
Sean Buckelew
Jude Chaplin
Martha Colburn
Shelley Dodson
Ryan Doherty
Barry Doupe
Erin Dunn
Lauren Gregory
Amy Lockhart
Matt Marsden
Steve Memmons
Seth Scriver
Thomas Suzimoto
Jim Trainor

The show begins at 7:00 PM with a gallery showcase of selections of original artwork from some of the animators, as well as music, popcorn and other concessions. The lights dim at 8:00 as the presentation of the animated shorts begins. The show continues after the screening with more music and drinks.

For more information please contact:
Casey Ellison
213 422-1448

The Bridgeport Art District (B.A.D.) Will also be open for winter art fag action



Call for texts Lumpen # 111
Deadline January 1, 2009

When will this paradigm shift begin?

We don't know what kind of kool-aid you might be drinking, but from our arm chairs in the marshes of Bridgeport it looks like the Obama presidency is looking more like a hallucination we would rather not endure. While we watch the appointments in his cabinet and research his team of annointed advisors they seem to resemble the very people we wanted kicked out when we voted for him.

Some have said that he really has little room to maneuver given the state of the global economic apocalypse. Others think going the way of the Clintons is better than another RepubliCon, but we think they are wrong. There is much much more work that needs to BE DONE than just getting the guy elected. We need to dispel the delerium of our comrades that still have a messiah complex and we need to apply severe pressure on the open arteries of our collective future. This really sucks considering how long the world has endured the pain of the Bush Dark Ages.

And it just makes us sad to think Obama has become an Obummer.

Or has he?

So... we ask you to speak up!

Tell us where you think the President elect and his team of old school insiders should make policy. Reveal the dirty secrets and hidden histories of his new coterie of advisors. Get all Nostradamus on us. We want this issue to contribute to the other substantial conversations going on out there about how we truly Change the way our country conducts ourselves overseas, at home, and in the future. There is a lot of room to begin... For one.. How do we stop the wars? How do we address the bubbles of the Financial banking system? What the hell happened anyways with those banks? And whatever happened to universal healthcare? And where is our bailout? Or maybe you think we should just cool out and give team Obama a chance to actually start their term. . But tell us something! We're worried!

Send us proposals, texts or just forward links to informed analysis and opinion that you think we should share to our readers.

And please.. no poetry..

Deadline for texts January 1, 2009
contact: ed@lumpen.com

Young Polish Artists (YPA) - call for participation

Calling all young (and not so young) Polish artists! We want you to submit your work for a Polish Solidarinose group art show! Please send us your photographs. installations, paintings, drawings, video, music and technology as a jpeg, mp3, url or proposal for possible inclusion in the YPA show this January.

submit to: polska@publicmediainstitute.org

submission deadline: december 20, 2008
show: january 16- 30, 2009
location: co-prosperity sphere (http://www.lumpen.com/CPS/about.html)

please feel free to forward this email to anyone you know that may be
interested in participating.



Yes Men and friends spoof NYT

November 12, 2008


Thousands of volunteers behind elaborate operation

* PDF: http://www.nytimes-se.com/pdf
* Ongoing video releases: http://www.nytimes-se.com/video

* The New York Times responds: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/pranksters-spoof-the-times/

Hundreds of independent writers, artists, and activists are claiming credit for an elaborate project, 6 months in the making, in which 1.2 million copies of a "special edition" of the New York Times were distributed in cities across the U.S. by thousands of volunteers.

The papers, dated July 4th of next year, were headlined with long-awaited news: "IRAQ WAR ENDS". The edition, which bears the same look and feel as the real deal, includes stories describing what the future could hold: national health care, the abolition of corporate
lobbying, a maximum wage for CEOs, etc. There was also a spoof site, at

"Is this true? I wish it were true!" said one reader. "It can be true, if we demand it."

"We wanted to experience what it would look like, and feel like, to read headlines we really want to read. It's about what's possible, if we think big and act collectively," said Steve Lambert, one of the project's organizers and an editor of the paper.

"This election was a massive referendum on change. There's a lot of
hope in the air, but there's a lot of uncertainty too. It's up to all of us now to make these headlines come true," said Beka Economopoulos, one of the project's organizers.

"It doesn't stop here. We gave Obama a mandate, but he'll need mandate after mandate after mandate to do what we elected him to do. He'll need a lot of support, and yes, a lot of pressure," said Andy Bichlbaum, another project organizer and editor of the paper.

The people behind the project are involved in a diverse range of groups, including The Yes Men, the Anti-Advertising Agency, CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Not An Alternative, May First/People Link, Improv Everywhere, Evil Twin, and Cultures of Resistance.

In response to the spoof, the New York Times said only, "We are looking into it." Alex S. Jones, former Times reporter who is an authority on the history of the paper, says: "I would say if you've got one, hold on to it. It will probably be a collector's item."


Infoporn Nov 14-22, 2008

Select Media Festival 7 opens November 14th and runs through November 22nd at the experimental cultural center, the Co-Prosperity Sphere, and other venues across the city. The seventh annual festival will feature video programs, art exhibitions, installations and presentations in conjunction with live music and action. This year as part of the festival we are unveiling a new art space, Eastern Expansion and a new monthly art happening for Chicago: The Bridgeport Art District (B.A.D.).




Join Lumpen & the Silver Room this Tuesday night November 4th for

Enjoy watching the election results at Sonotheque without all the hassles of going downtown and have to deal with over 1 million of your best friends.

featuring in the main ring
John "Bomb Iran" McCain vs. Barack "No Drama" Obama
with the undercard
Sarah "Whaling" Palin vs "Smokin" Joe Biden

"The Rumble Before We Tumble"
"The Bash Before the Crash"

After casting your ballot; watch the election night results with friends, foes and family at Sonotheque. It's politics as unusual with these political pugilists as they slug it out for the heavyweight crown of President of the State of Disunion.

So booze after you choose and watch the results on 4, count 'em, 4 projector screens. You can also vote by choosing special cocktails for each of the candidates.

Cocktails available:
THE VERY, VERY OLD FASHIONED (Bourbon with bitters*, sugar and soda water muddled with orange and cherries on the rocks) - John McCain
* Very, very bitter
THE BLACK VELVET (Beamish Stout with Champagne) - Barack Obama

plus for the working folks from the real America
THE ALASKAN HOCKEY MOM - A shot of Svedka Vodka with PBR - Sarah Palin
THE DELA WHERE AM I? - A shot of Jamison with Miller High Life - Joe Biden

All specialty cocktails only $5!

So if you find yourself between Barack and a hard face and looking for some rip-roaring action get a ringside seat for the race on race.

Hosted by:
Hangin' Chad & Phil A. Buster
Sponsored by:
Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder and Mott the Hoople

We're also pulling a Paulson and passing out our own Bears Stearnsesque bailout with a night of NO COVER (allowing you to go on your very own Sarah Palin shopping spree to Nieman Marcus).

This night is not sponsored by the Nevada Gaming Commision - so no playing the race card.

Like the election; this event is 21+.

Featuring paintings from Lauri Apple's vice-presidential portrait blog:

Other politically incorrect links:


White Supremacists Plotted to Assasinate Obama, Behead Black Children

BoingBoing repost:
White supremacist terrorism persists in America: Two neo-nazi skinheads planned to assassinate Barack Obama and shoot or behead dozens of black people, but their plot was thwarted by a federal investigation. Photo below: Daniel Cowart, 20, of Tennessee vamps for a MySpace vanity snapshot with one of the guns seized by ATF agents. His plot partner, also arrested: Paul Schlesselman 18, an Arkansas native. Snip from Eric Lichtblau's piece in the NYT:
The assassination was to be the culmination of a “killing spree” that would also single out children at an unnamed, predominately black school, federal officials said. The men talked of “killing 88 people and beheading 14 African-Americans,” according to the affidavit.

The two men each had “very strong views” about Aryan white power and “skinhead” ideology, the federal officials said, and the numbers 88 and 14 have special significance in the white power movement. The number 88 is shorthand for “Heil Hitler” — H is the eighth letter in the alphabet —and 14 signifies a 14-word mantra among white supremacists: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

Officials said the two men met via the Internet through a mutual friend.

Arrests in Plan to Kill Obama and Black Schoolchildren (New York Times).

Smoking Gun has a copy of the ATF affidavit, which reveals that the fashion-conscious FAIL duo planned to wear white tuxedoes and top hats to the massacre. Here's a video of Obama's response to the news. Here are the original PDFs of the ATF affidavit , complaint, and news release.

Sarah Palin's Assasination talking tips

Boingboing reposted: Anil Dash has a thoughtful essay up today. Snip:


Tv Sheriff on the 2008 election

Our old pal Davy Force aka TV Sheriff made this great mindblowing video with UK super freaks Cold Cut. Enjoy.. thanks to thaNUKEYAlerpresident for finding it.


The broker's with hands on their faces

very amusing.

perhaps related:

'It's payback time,' banks warned in threat letters

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Letters containing white powder that were sent to more than 50 financial institutions warned that "it's payback time," the FBI said Thursday. Go to CNN


Global Justice Movement

Here is Evo Morales' Speach at the Social Forum of the Americas, which happened in Guatemala last week.

Evo Morales: Ten commandments to save the planet

By Evo Morales Ayma, president of the Republic of Bolivia
Message to the Continental Gathering of Solidarity with Bolivia in Guatemala City

October 9, 2008 -- Sisters and brothers, on behalf of the Bolivian people, I greet the social movements of this continent present in this act of continental solidarity with Bolivia.

We have just suffered the violence of the oligarchy, whose most brutal expression was the massacre in Panda, a deed that teaches us that an attempt at power based on money and weapons in order to oppress the people is not sustainable. It is easily knocked down, if it is not based on a program and the consciousness of the people.

We see that the re-founding of Bolivia affects the underhanded interests of a few families of large landholders, who reject as an aggression the measures enacted to favour the people such as a more balanced distribution of the resources of natural gas for our grandfathers and grandmothers, as well as the distribution of lands, the campaigns for health and literacy, and others.

To protect their power and privileges and to evade the process of change, the ruling elite of large landholders of the so-called Half Moon (Media Luna) clothe themselves in the movements for departmental autonomies and the rupture of national unity, lending themselves to the yankee interests of ending the re-founding of Bolivia.

However, in the revocation referendum of August 10, we just received the mandate of two-thirds of the Bolivian people to consolidate this process of change, in order to continue advancing in the recovery of our natural resources, and to insure the well being of all Bolivians, to unite the distinct sectors of society of the countryside and the city, of the east and the west.

Sisters and brothers, what happened with this revocation referendum in Bolivia is something that is not only important for Bolivians but for all Latin Americans. We dedicate it to the Latin American revolutionaries and those throughout the world, reaffirming the struggle for all processes of change.

I was going to express the way to recover the life ways of our peoples, called Live Well (el Buen Vivir), to recover our vision of the Mother Earth, that for us is life, because it is not possible for the capitalist model to convert Mother Earth into a commodity. Once again we see the profound correlations between the indigenous movement and the organisations of the social movements, which also throw in their lot in order to Live Well. We greet them so that together we can seek a certain balance in the world.

10 commandments to save the planet

Along these lines, I want to share and propose for debate some 10 commandments to save the planet, for humanity and for life, not only at this level but also to debate among our communities, and our organisations.

First, if we want to save the planet earth to save life and humanity, we are obliged to end the capitalist system. The grave effects of climate change, of the energy, food and financial crises, are not a product of human beings in general, but rather of the capitalist system at it is, inhuman, with its idea of unlimited industrial development.

Second, to renounce war, because the people do not win in war, but only the imperial powers; the nations do not win, but rather the transnational corporations. Wars benefit a small group of families and not the people. The trillions of millions of dollars used for war should be directed to repair and cure Mother Earth wounded by climate change.

Third proposal for debate: a world without imperialism nor colonialism. Our relationships should be oriented to the principle of complementarity, and to take into account the profound asymmetries that exist family to family, country to country, and continent to continent.

And the fourth point is oriented to the issue of water, which ought to be guaranteed as a human right to avoid its privatisation into few hands, given that water is life.

As the fifth point, I would like to say that we need to end the energy debacle. In 100 years we are using up fossil energies created during millions of years. As some presidents are setting aside lands for luxury automobiles and not for human beings, we need to implement policies to impede the use of agro-fuels and in this way to avoid the hunger and misery for our peoples.

As a sixth point: in relationship to the Mother Earth, the capitalist system treats the Mother Earth as a raw material, but the Earth cannot be understood as a commodity; who could privatise, rent or lease their own mother? I propose that we organise an international movement in defence of Mother Nature, in order to recover the health of Mother Earth and re-establish a harmonious and responsible life with her.

A central theme as the seventh point for debate is that basic services, whether they be water, electricity, education or health, need to be taken into account as human rights.

As the eighth point, to consume what is needed, prioritise what we produce and consume locally, end consumerism, decadence and luxury. We need to prioritise local production for local consumption, stimulating self-reliance and the sovereignty of the communities within the limits that the health and remaining resources the planet permits.

As the next to last point, to promote the diversity of cultures and economies. To live in unity respecting our differences, no only physical, but also economic, through economies managed by the communities and their associations.

Sisters and brothers, as the tenth point, we propose to Live Well, not live better at the expense of another, a Live Well based on the lifestyle of our peoples, the riches of our communities, fertile lands, water and clean air. Socialism is talked about a lot, but we need to improve this socialism, improve the proposals for socialism in the XXI century, building a communitarian socialism, or simply Live Well, in harmony with Mother Earth, respecting the shared life ways of the community.

Finally, sisters and brothers, certainly you are following up on the problems that exist. I have reached the conclusion that there will always be problems, but I want to tell you that I am very content, not disappointed or worried because these groups who permanently enslaved our families during the colonial time, the time of the republic and this period of neoliberalism, they continue as family groups, resisting us.

It is our struggle to confront these groups who live in luxury and who do not wish to lose their luxury, or lose their lands. This is a historic struggle and this struggle lives on.

Sisters and brothers, in the hope that the Continental Gathering of the Social Forum of the Americas culminates with strong bonds of unity among you and a strong action plan in favour of the people of Bolivia and of our peoples, I repeat my fraternal greeting.

[Translated by S. Bartlett. From Bolivia Rising.]


Global Justice Movement

From the hell freezing over department, there have been scores of mainstream media references to Karl Marx in the last two weeks. Here is an article in todays London Times Business Section:

The Times
October 20, 2008

Banking crisis gives added capital to Karl Marx’s writings

Roger Boyes in Berlin

Bankers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your bonuses, houses in Esher, holidays in the Caribbean and your Jermyn Street shirts. The upside is that you have the time, at last, to read the complete works of Karl Marx.

The prophet of revolutionaries everywhere, the scourge of capitalism, is enjoying a comeback.

In Germany Das Kapital, which for the past decade has been used mainly as a doorstop, is flying off the shelves as the newly disenfranchised business class tries to work out the root of the present crisis.

“Marx is fashionable again,” declares Jörn Schütrumpf, head of the Berlin publishing house Dietz, which brings out the works of Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels. Sales have trebled – albeit from a pretty low level – since 2005 and have soared since the summer.

“We have a new generation of readers who are rattled by the financial crisis and have to recognise that neo-liberalism has turned out to be a false dream,” said Mr Schütrumpf.

Visitors to Karl Marx’s birthplace in Trier have soared – 40,000 so far this year – with many coming from China, eastern Germany, Cuba and Bolivia.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say: ‘The man was right!’,” says Beatrix Bouvier, chief curator of the museum. Alexander Kluge, the film director, is preparing to make a blockbuster film out of Das Kapital. Little wonder, since Marx comes highly recommended. President Sarkozy of France has been seen flicking through the book, while the Peer Steinbrück, the German Finance Minister, recently admitted: “Certain parts of Marx’s thinking are really not so bad.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, gave him a decent review last month: “Marx long ago observed the way in which unbridled capitalism became a kind of mythology, ascribing reality, power and agency to things that had no life in themselves.” Even the Pope has put in a good word for the old atheist – praising his “great analytical skill”.

Marx’s new relevance relates mainly to his warning about the creation of an exploitative capitalism that ends up destroying itself: “An over-expansion of credit can enable the capitalist system to sell temporarily more goods than the sum of real incomes created in current production, plus past savings, could buy,” said Ernest Mandel, the Marxist scholar, quoting his guru, “but in the long run, debts must be paid”. Since these debts cannot be automatically paid through expanded output and income, capitalism is destined for a “Krach” - Marx’s word for a crash.

Marx set out his thoughts not only in Das Kapital but in articles such as “The Financial Crisis in Europe” which was written for the New York Daily Tribune in 1857, and in the Communist Manifesto, which was written with Engels.

In the manifesto, published in 1848, he lists the ten essential steps to communism. Step five was: “Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state. . .”


Blow Ups and Bombers

CounterPunch Diary


Talk about falling to the occasion! You would not have an inkling from the candidates’ third and final debate at Hofstra University on Long Island that Wednesday had been a day of fearful carnage on Wall Street, throwing into question the desperate efforts of the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve to stabilize the situation.

You would not have known that across the last month the Dow Jones industrial index has lost 25 per cent of its value. You would not have known that in the considered estimation of many economists the United States could well be entering a prolonged recession.

You would not have known that every assertion about the merits of deregulation and about the primacy of market forces is now dead, skinned and nailed to the wall like a moose hide in the Palins’ garage.

Listening to both candidates in that last debate made me think of one of those reverses of the earth’s electro-magnetic field that occurs every 100,000 years or so. The last month has seen the sweeping away of all the shopworn economic coordinates by which conventional politicians set their course. Gone are the hallowed landmarks. Yet here were McCain and Obama trudging on, sighting their compasses on bearings that no longer exist.

There were, to be sure, dutiful references by both Obama and McCain to the economic crisis, but mostly it was as though they were talking about a minor traffic accident a couple of blocks away. McCain flourished a proposal to bail out homeowners. Obama claimed that the bankers’ bailout bill for which they had both voted contained exactly such provisions. Then the two retreated to mechanical reiteration of their tax plans, their health plans, their plans for Energy Independence, all of them topics interminably raked over in the earlier debates.

There’s a reason why McCain graduated from Annapolis sixth from the bottom of his class. After that promising opening about bailing out homeowners he got lost, like an elderly, half-blind dog getting off the path in the woods. He stopped and started barking at Obama’s tax plan.

I thought he looked really terrible. Here in the CounterPunch newsletter and on this site we’ve raised the possibility that his melanoma problems may be a lot worse than he lets on. Lori Klaidman, a medical researcher, sends us this bleak assessment:

Thank you for your recent article raising questions re: McCain's health prognosis. I am a medical researcher and have a great deal of experience with melanoma having recently just lost a brother to it. What people don't seem to get about this cancer that at stage IIa, his chances of surviving to 10 years at stage IIa WERE 64 per cent. But nearly 10 years have past since the year 2000 since that diagnosis. It is MUCH lower now. Might it be more like 50 per cent survival to the end of his first potential term? This is an optimistic view, and a strong possibility because no one believes those cells have gone away or that he is in permanent remission. Further, the minute those melanoma cells migrate to a lymph node, his chances for survival are anywhere from 15-63 per cent. Note that his doctors were surprised that they had not already metastisized to the nearest lymph node in 2000, when it was investigated.

Despite the rosy picture that McCain's doctor's paint, they fully admit that melanoma cells are freely migrating throughout his blood stream and body. Because cancer cells lose their ability to slow down in a G1 phase during cell division, they are unable to rest and repair faithfully DNA strands during replication without error. Therefore it is only a matter of time before you get one cell that that has lost all control and becomes extremely aggressive with tumors doubling in size about every 45 days. In fact, the purpose of melanocytes, from which melanomas were derived from, means that they are already super hardy, whose main purpose is to protect oneself from the sun, and only a few minor mutations will create a deadly aggressive unstoppable cancer.

Furthermore, what little treatment there is for melanoma, such as interferon, relies on pumping up the immune system, which might give an extra 5 per cent to the statistics at best (melanoma is known for being chemo and radio insensitive). However, it is well known that anger and stress can dampen the immune system response. Can there be any doubt even among his supporters that McCain has a few "anger management" issues? Therefore what all of this could do is put his survival statistics at, perhaps 45 per cent to survive his first term as president? Fortunately, unlike most of us, he does have the best health care that money can buy. However, this time, even that is not likely to save him when it comes to melanoma, the deadliest, most untreatable cancer that exists.

Lori Klaidman

When he quit barking about taxes and Joe the Plumber McCain finally remembered his briefing script and brought up Obama’s ties to Bill Ayers, the former Weatherman.

I strongly advise the Obama campaign, not to mention all those readers of this site who do not yet read our newsletter, to subscribe without delay. Our latest issue, just released, discloses that when it comes to complicity with the Weathermen and specifically Ayers, one of the present chairmen of the McCain campaign played a far more supportive role to Ayers, at a time when Ayers was combating the war by all means necessary and when his ears were still ringing from the detonations of Weathermunitions. Get the full story here.

And when it comes to the new economic coordinates, the new edition of our newsletter writes a powerful obituary for the neoliberal Washington Consensus that has dominated the economic affairs of the planet since the early 1970s.

“Wall Street’s financial meltdown ,” write Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers, “marks the end of an era. What has ended is the credibility of the Washington Consensus – open markets to foreign investors and tight money austerity programs (high interest rates and credit cutbacks) to “cure” balance-of-payments deficits, domestic budget deficits and price inflation.

“Washington’s idealized picture of how “free markets” operate (as if such a thing ever existed) promised that countries outside the United States would get rich faster, approaching U.S.-style living standards if they let global investors buy their key industries and basic infrastructure. For half a century, this neoliberal model has been a hypocritical exercise in poor policy at best, and deception at worst, to convince other economies to impose self-destructive financial and tax policies, enabling U.S. investors to swoop in and buy their key assets at distress prices.”

This era is now over. Around the world, and here at home, this is as ripe an opportunity for the left as we will ever encounter in our lifetimes. As Robert Pollin told Mike Whitney on this site last week (whitney10162008.html) "We are in the midst of a major historic turning point, equivalent to the emergence of neoliberalism under Thatcher and Reagan", only this time the signposts point the other way. As Pollin said, “The big money flowing into Obama, and to Democrats more generally, certainly will make it more difficult for our elected officials to do the work of the people. But here again, Wall Street has now been discredited to a degree unprecedented since the 1930s. That should give the left serious political leverage…he real issue — whether it be through public or private ownership or some mix — is to move financial institutions and markets in the direction of egalitarianism.”


Dr. Paulson's Magic Potion Is Pure Poison for Us

By William Greider, The Nation

Posted on October 17, 2008, Printed on October 18, 2008

American capitalism is having a nervous breakdown, losing confidence and acting out in self-destructive ways. Let's try talk therapy. No, wait, it's more serious -- a case for high-powered drugs. No response? Maybe high finance has a brain tumor. Time for surgery! Cut out the bad parts and things will stabilize. Hold on. The patient is swooning now, gasping for air and trembling with seizures. Oxygen! Blood! We need a massive transfusion to rid the body of toxins. Doctor, the patient is flat-lining. What's next? Shock therapy?

My mordant medical metaphor sounds a trifle cruel, given the massive losses people are suffering, but it roughly describes the stages of diagnosis and cures with which the government has hesitantly attempted to heal the collapsing financial system. Each new cure revives hope that the worst is over -- at least until the symptoms start darkening again. The doctors in Washington changed their diagnosis once more when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced his latest magical medicinal potion -- a $250 billion relief package to be invested directly in stock shares of the nine largest banks and spread more thinly among hundreds of smaller banks. The stock market cheered wildly with a 900-point rally in the Dow, as well it might have. Wall Street had just secured a fabulously well-heeled investor. Oops. Two days later, the magic wore off and share prices plunged again disastrously.

This time Paulson is much closer to a genuine solution, but hold the celebration and keep your eye on the patient. The government's new outline is deliberately vague about how exactly the Treasury and Federal Reserve intend to execute the details. The proposal implies but does not say that the government is taking charge of the banking system and will use its emergency powers to compel bankers to restart lending to restore the real economy of producers and consumers. Maybe that's what Paulson has in mind, but he made no promises. The public money gives a comforting tonic to the bad boys of Wall Street, but it's still packaged as a voluntary approach -- not to be confused with the genuine nationalization that Britain and other governments have undertaken.

Nationalization is the "shock therapy." We may yet see it before this turmoil is ended. Naturally, it is ideologically offensive to the Bush administration, and especially to Paulson's old colleagues and rivals on Wall Street. Taking control would impose on the government the daunting challenge of reshaping these large and overbearing institutions, winnowing out banks that deserve to die and instilling in the survivors formal obligations to serve the national interest they have willfully betrayed for a generation. That task will probably be left to Paulson's successors.

Without taking explicit control, the government is simply betting the bankers will cooperate in exchange for rescue. Maybe they will start lending again, but maybe not: banks are in a deep hole of their own making, having lost more than a trillion. Typically, they apply tightfisted lending tactics to heal balance sheets -- the opposite of what the country needs from them now. The $125 billion or so targeted for the nine biggest banks will not be enough to heal them all. Institutional Risk Analytics, a bank monitoring firm, says $250 billion in capital injections "will be just the down payment to get through the wave of loan losses headed for some of the larger players in the US banking sector."

Meanwhile, the money provides a feel-good tonic for the club -- the relatively small congregation of financial institutions that exert such oppressive influence over business and society, not to mention politics. Paulson is handing them cheap money (ours) that will initially earn only 5 percent, even as Warren Buffett gets 10 percent dividends on the capital he provided Goldman Sachs. Nor does the public get a controlling interest, or even seats on the board, for its generosity. The choices Paulson makes as he hands out the public money will effectively design the future -- making the big boys even bigger and more arrogant, since they know the government will not let them fail. Informed financiers already see the nine largest banks consolidating into four behemoths. The next president and treasury secretary (if they have the nerve) will have to confront this question of scale and cut the big banks down to size -- small enough to fail without damaging society.

Dr. Paulson's latest cure has once again left out something important -- American society at large. There's a lot of cheap talk about Main Street, but nothing in this plan helps the folks who are taking it in the neck through bankruptcy or unemployment. When Paulson met privately with the CEOs from the nine leading banks, he presumably asked them to be kind to the debtors. He ought to have commanded the bankers, one by one, to stop foreclosures, roll over debts and give people time to work their way out of their predicament, or else government would shut its lending window and dump the banks' stock.

Fortunately, Bush and Paulson are lame ducks. They will be replaced soon (we fervently hope) by Barack Obama, who is addressing the side of the crisis that Republicans always ignore -- what's happening to the people. Obama has revised and expanded his agenda, and he does not intend to wait until January. Many of his proposals can be undertaken right now by Treasury and the Fed. Others can be swiftly enacted by Congress in a lame-duck session right after the election. If bitter Republicans wish to filibuster or Bush wants to veto, that will simply deepen their party's shame.

John McCain responds to the crisis with grandly irrelevant ideas like cutting the capital gains tax in half, but also useful ones like reducing the tax rate on withdrawals from IRAs and a mortgage plan similar to the New Deal-era Home Owners' Loan Corporation that Hillary Clinton has led many Dems in proposing. Obama proposes smaller but concrete measures like a ninety-day moratorium on home foreclosures. Banks that receive government aid would be told not to act against families trying to make payments, even if they are behind. Bankruptcy judges would be authorized to modify mortgage terms. Families could withdraw money from retirement accounts to pay bills without being penalized. Obama would extend unemployment benefits and suspend taxes on that income. He would give small businesses a $3,000 tax credit for each new job they create, and distribute $50 billion to states and localities to finance roads and bridges and to make schools energy efficient. He would double the capital loan to the auto industry, to $50 billion.

These and other proposals are of course excellent fodder for the closing days of the campaign. But they also suggest the Democratic candidate is moving rapidly to adapt to the crisis that awaits the next president. Economic turmoil has instilled a dynamic process in politics, driving everyone, including voters, to new ground. We are likely to see even larger changes in the coming months. The treasury secretary seems out of breath. Obama appears to be getting his second wind.

William Greider is the author of, most recently, "The Soul of Capitalism" (Simon & Schuster).


Global Justice Movement

Immanuel Wallerstein

Commentary No. 243, Oct. 15, 2008

The Depression: A Long-Term View

The depression has started. Journalists are still coyly enquiring of economists whether or not we may be entering a mere recession. Don't believe it for a minute. We are already at the beginning of a full-blown worldwide depression with extensive unemployment almost everywhere. It may take the form of a classic nominal deflation, with all its negative consequences for ordinary people. Or it might take the form, a bit less likely, of a runaway inflation, which is simply another way in which values deflate, and which is even worse for ordinary people.

Of course everyone is asking what has triggered this depression. Is it the derivatives, which Warren Buffett called "financial weapons of mass destruction"? Or is it the subprime mortgages? Or is it oil speculators? This is a blame game, and of no real importance. This is to concentrate on the dust, as Fernand Braudel called it, of short-term events. If we want to understand what is going on, we need to look at two other temporalities, which are far more revealing. One is that of medium-term cyclical swings. And one is that of the long-term structural trends.

The capitalist world-economy has had, for several hundred years at least, two major forms of cyclical swings. One is the so-called Kondratieff cycles that historically were 50-60 years in length. And the other is the hegemonic cycles which are much longer.

In terms of the hegemonic cycles, the United States was a rising contender for hegemony as of 1873, achieved full hegemonic dominance in 1945, and has been slowly declining since the 1970s. George W. Bush's follies have transformed a slow decline into a precipitate one. And as of now, we are past any semblance of U.S. hegemony. We have entered, as normally happens, a multipolar world. The United States remains a strong
power, perhaps still the strongest, but it will continue to decline relative to other powers in the decades to come. There is not much that anyone can do to change this.

The Kondratieff cycles have a different timing. The world came out of the last Kondratieff B-phase in 1945, and then had the strongest A-phase upturn in the history of the modern world-system. It reached its height circa 1967-73, and started on its downturn. This B-phase has gone on much longer than previous B-phases and we are still in it.

The characteristics of a Kondratieff B-phase are well-known and match what the world-economy has been experiencing since the 1970s. Profit rates from productive activities go down, especially in those types of production that have been most profitable. Consequently, capitalists who wish to make really high levels of profit turn to the financial arena, engaging in what is basically speculation. Productive activities, in
order not to become too unprofitable, tend to move from core zones to other parts of the world-system, trading lower transactions costs for lower personnel costs. This is why jobs have been disappearing from Detroit, Essen, and Nagoya and factories have been expanding in China,India, and Brazil.

As for the speculative bubbles, some people always make a lot of money in them. But speculative bubbles always burst, sooner or later. If one asks why this Kondratieff B-phase has lasted so long, it is because the powers that be - the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and their collaborators in western Europe and Japan - have intervened in the market regularly and importantly - 1987 (stock market plunge), 1989 (savings-and-loan collapse), 1997 (East Asian financial fall), 1998 (Long Term Capital Management mismanagement), 2001-2002 (Enron) - to shore up the world-economy. They learned the lessons of previous Kondratieff B-phases, and the powers that be thought they could beat the system. But there are intrinsic limits to doing this. And we have now reached them, as Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke are learning to their chagrin and probably amazement. This time, it will not be so easy, probably impossible, to avert the worst.

In the past, once a depression wreaked its havoc, the world-economy picked up again, on the basis of innovations that could be quasi-monopolized for a while. So, when people say that the stock market will rise again, this is what they are thinking will happen, this time as in the past, after all the damage has been done to the world's
populations. And maybe it will, in a few years or so.

There is however something new that may interfere with this nice cyclical pattern that has sustained the capitalist system for some 500 years. The structural trends may interfere with the cyclical patterns. The basic structural features of capitalism as a world-system operate by certain rules that can be drawn on a chart as a moving upward equilibrium. The problem, as with all structural equilibria of all systems, is that over time the curves tend to move far from equilibrium and it becomes impossible to bring them back to equilibrium.

What has made the system move so far from equilibrium? In very brief, it is because over 500 years the three basic costs of capitalist production - personnel, inputs, and taxation - have steadily risen as a percentage of possible sales price, such that today they make it impossible to obtain the large profits from quasi-monopolized production that have
always been the basis of significant capital accumulation. It is not because capitalism is failing at what it does best. It is precisely because it has been doing it so well that it has finally undermined the basis of future accumulation.

What happens when we reach such a point is that the system bifurcates (in the language of complexity studies). The immediate consequence is high chaotic turbulence, which our world-system is experiencing at the moment and will continue to experience for perhaps another 20-50 years. As everyone pushes in whatever direction they think immediately best for each of them, a new order will emerge out of the chaos along one of two
alternate and very different paths.

We can assert with confidence that the present system cannot survive. What we cannot predict is which new order will be chosen to replace it, because it will be the result of an infinity of individual pressures. But sooner or later, a new system will be installed. This will not be a capitalist system but it may be far worse (even more polarizing and
hierarchical) or much better (relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian) than such a system. The choice of a new system is the major worldwide political struggle of our times.

As for our immediate short-run ad interim prospects, it is clear what is happening everywhere. We have been moving into a protectionist world (forget about so-called globalization). We have been moving into a much larger direct role of government in production. Even the United States and Great Britain are partially nationalizing the banks and the dying big industries. We are moving into populist government-led redistribution, which can take left-of-center social-democratic forms or far right authoritarian forms. And we are moving into acute social conflict within states, as everyone competes over the smaller pie. In the short-run, it is not, by and large, a pretty picture.