Wednesday, March 24, 2010

US Social Forum - Another world is possible, Another US is necessary

What is the US Social Forum?

The US Social Forum (USSF) is a movement building process. It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples' solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history. We must declare what we want our world to look like and we must start planning the path to get there. The USSF provides spaces to learn from each other's experiences and struggles, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, build relationships, and align with our international brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world.

What We Believe

We, the organizers of the first United States Social Forum:

    * Believe that there is a strategic need to unite the struggles of oppressed communities and peoples within the United States (particularly Black, Latino, Asian/ Pacific-Islander and Indigenous communities) to the struggles of oppressed nations in the Third World.

    * Believe the USSF should place the highest priority on groups that are actually doing grassroots organizing with working class people of color, who are training organizers, building long-term structures of resistance, and who can work well with other groups, seeing their participation in USSF as building the whole, not just their part of it.

    * Believe the USSF must be a place where the voices of those who are most marginalized and oppressed from Indigenous communities can be heard--a place that will recognize Indigenous peoples, their issues and struggles.

    * Believe the USSF must create space for the full and equal participation of undocumented migrants and their communities.

    * Believe the USSF should link US-based youth organizers, activists, and cultural workers to the struggles of their brothers and sisters abroad, drawing common connections and exploring the deeper meanings of solidarity.

    * Believe the USSF is important because we must have a clear and unified approach at dealing with social justice issues, and meaningful positions on global issues.

    * Believe that a USSF sends a message to other people's movements around the world that there is an active movement in the United States opposing U.S. policies at home and abroad.

    * Believe that the USSF will help build national networks that will be better able to collaborate with international networks and movements.

    * We believe the USSF is more than an event. It is an ongoing process to contribute to strengthening the entire movement, bringing together the various sectors and issues that work for global justice.

Why a 2nd US Social Forum?

The gathering in Atlanta in June 2007 had 12,000 people come together in the belief that "Another World Was Possible!" Movement forces from all over the country took advantage of the opportunity to celebrate, organize, teach, debate and otherwise contribute to a growing sense that "Another U.S. Is Necessary!" The USSF made clear our need for greater convergence among progressives and the left in this country and to begin to articular our vision for "Another World."

The purpose of the USSF is to effectively and affirmatively articulate the values and strategies of a growing and vibrant movement for justice in the United States. Those who build towards and participate in the USSF are no longer interested in simply stating what social justice movements “stand-against,” rather we see ourselves as part of new movements that reach beyond national borders, that practice democracy at all levels, and understand that neo-liberalism abroad and here in the US is not the solution. The USSF provides a first major step towards such articulation of what we stand for.

Why Detroit?

To win nationally, we must win in places like Detroit. The Midwest site of the USSF marks a fierce resistance movement for social, racial, gender, and economic justice. Detroit has the highest unemployment of any major city in the country—23.2% (March 2009)—with nearly one in four Detroiters unable to find work. Michigan has had the highest number of unemployed people in all 50 states for nearly four years. Thousands of living wage jobs have been permanently lost in the automotive industry and related sectors. Some think that it will take at least until 2025 for Michigan to recover from the economic collapse and social dislocation. What is happening in Detroit and in Michigan is happening all across the United States. Detroit is a harbinger for what we must do in our communities! As grassroots activists and organizers, we work to address the indignities against working families and low-income people, and protect our human right to the basic necessities of life. In Detroit, we can make change happen!

The US Social Forum provides this space—drawing participants from different regions, ethnicities, sectors and ages across the U.S. and its colonies. Community-based organizations, Indigenous nations, immigrants, independent workers organizations, unions, unemployed,
youth, children, elders, queers, differently-abled, international allies, academics, and advocacy organizations will be able to come together in Detroit for dialogues, reflection and to define future strategies.

World Social Forum to USSF - Globalizing the Resistance

A global movement is rising. The USSF is our opportunity to prepare and meet it! The World Social Forum (WSF) has become an important symbol of global movement convergence and the development of alternatives to the dominant paradigm. Over the past nine years, the WSF has gathered the world's workers, peasants, youth, women, and oppressed peoples to construct a counter-vision to the economic and political elites of the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland. After gathering 100,000 people in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2005, the International Council (IC) decided that in 2006 there would be regional social forums to culminate in a WSF in 2007. The IC delegated Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) to help shepherd the US Social Forum process, stating that it was strategic to hold a gathering of peoples and movements within the “belly of the beast” that were against the ravages of globalization and neoliberal policies in the US and worldwide. GGJ is an alliance that grew out of people-of-color-led grassroots groups who participated in the first WSF. These grassroots leaders initiated a process to create the first USSF National Planning Committee (NPC) and Atlanta was selected as the USSF host city. In early 2009, the NPC selected Detroit as the second host city for 2010.

Call to Participate in Building the Road to Detroit

We call those who fight for justice to converge and act, and to reflect on the potential of our position and the power of our connections. Although we have built organizations that push forward an integrated, multi-issue, multiracial strategy, we have yet to build our movement on a scale relative to our sisters and brothers in the Global South. The USSF II offers the opportunity to continue to gather and unify these growing forces. We must seize this moment and advance our collective work to build grassroots leadership, develop collective vision and formulate strategies that keep a strong movement growing.

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'Cuffed again for raucous rumpy-pumpy'

From Loud sex ASBO woman back on the job:

The Tyne and Wear woman earlier this year spared jail for breaching an ASBO requiring her to refrain from unnaturally loud sex has been cuffed after once again failing to put a sock in it.

Caroline Cartwright, 49, was handed an eight-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, for three breaches of the order designed to protect fellow residents of Washington from her vocalisations. The judge warned her that "if you commit further offences of this nature that sentence will be passed and you will made to serve it".

Despite Cartwright moving her bed into the dining room in the hope that neighbours would be spared the worst of her wailing while on the job with hubby Steve, cops received a further complaint and she is now back in the bail hostel where she spent eight months prior to her January appearance before the beak.

[ ... ]

Cartwright faces a committal hearing on 13 May. She bemoaned: "This is causing stress on our marriage. We aren't doing it as much as we used to because it's not exactly relaxing knowing that everyone is listening for you to make a noise. ...

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Google to stop censoring search results in China

Google announced Monday that it would stop censoring search results on its site in China, forcing authorities in Beijing to decide whether they are willing to forsake one of the most important tools of modern technology so that they can maintain their iron grip over the flow of information.

In negotiations with Chinese authorities over the past two months, Google had tried to determine whether it could operate an unfiltered search engine in China under the country's laws. But Chinese officials, the company said Monday, made it "crystal clear . . . that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement."

As a result, Google has made what analysts described as a shrewd but risky business decision -- to redirect users in mainland China to its search engine based in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China that operates its own economic and political systems. The company described the move as a "sensible solution."

"This move is entirely legal by Chinese law and Hong Kong law, and that is important to know: that we are abiding by the law," a source at Google said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Still, the decision puts the Internet search giant, which has a huge financial stake in China, on a collision course with Beijing. Despite Google's intention to keep some of its business operations in China, the government there could shut it down, block all of its sites or even take action against some of its 700 employees there.

That concern was evident in Google's announcement Monday, which stressed that "all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them."

The move drew a quick and angry response in Beijing, where an unnamed government official said that the Chinese had been patient with Google but that the company had nonetheless "violated its written promise" to censor search results, according to the state-run New China News Service.

"We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations," said the official, a spokesman for the office of the State Council, China's cabinet.

As of Tuesday morning in Beijing, China had started blocking results for sensitive searches on Google's Hong Kong-based site, Google.com.hk. Searches for sensitive subjects such as the banned spiritual sect Falun Gong or Tiananmen 64 -- shorthand for the June 4, 1989, crackdown on student-led protests in Beijing -- produced a blank screen or an error message. Earlier in the morning, results were generated but the links were blocked.

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Cigna gives $110.9 million compensation package to ex-CEO

The insurance giant Cigna last year gave compensation packages worth more than $120 million to two executives who left the company, according to a filing with the SEC on Friday.

The vast majority of that total went to former chairman and CEO H. Edward Hanway who left his post with a retirement package worth $110.9 million -- which included $18.8 million in executive compensation for 2009, as well as a healthy pension plan, deferred compensation and stock options.

With more than $19 billion in revenues reported in 2008, Cigna remains one of the most profitable insurers in the country. Though, unlike some of its competitors, it does not appear to have raised premiums on customers in an effort to improve somewhat sagging recent profits.

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Sceptic challenges guru to kill him live on TV

When a famous tantric guru boasted on television that he could kill another man using only his mystical powers, most viewers either gasped in awe or merely nodded unquestioningly. Sanal Edamaruku's response was different. “Go on then — kill me,” he said.

Mr Edamaruku had been invited to the same talk show as head of the Indian Rationalists' Association — the country's self-appointed sceptic-in-chief. At first the holy man, Pandit Surender Sharma, was reluctant, but eventually he agreed to perform a series of rituals designed to kill Mr Edamaruku live on television. Millions tuned in as the channel cancelled scheduled programming to continue broadcasting the showdown, which can still be viewed on YouTube.

First, the master chanted mantras, then he sprinkled water on his intended victim. He brandished a knife, ruffled the sceptic's hair and pressed his temples. But after several hours of similar antics, Mr Edamaruku was still very much alive — smiling for the cameras and taunting the furious holy man.

“He was over, finished, completely destroyed!” Mr Edamaruku chuckles triumphantly as he concludes the tale in the Rationalist Centre, his second-floor office in the town of Noida, just outside Delhi.

Rationalising India has never been easy. Given the country's vast population, its pervasive poverty and its dizzying array of ethnic groups, languages and religions, many deem it impossible.

Nevertheless, Mr Edamaruku has dedicated his life to exposing the charlatans — from levitating village fakirs to televangelist yoga masters — who he says are obstructing an Indian Enlightenment. He has had a busy month, with one guru arrested over prostitution, another caught in a sex-tape scandal, a third kidnapping a female follower and a fourth allegedly causing a stampede that killed 63 people.

This week India's most popular yoga master, Baba Ramdev, announced plans to launch a political party, promising to cleanse India of corruption and introduce the death penalty for slaughtering cows. Then, on Wednesday, police arrested a couple in Maharashtra state on suspicion of killing five boys on the advice of a tantric master who said their sacrifice would help the childless couple to conceive.

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AFL-CIO: Join us and make Wall Street pay

From the AFL-CIO NOW BLOG:

Starting today, the union movement and our allies are taking our fight for good jobs now to the biggest Wall Street banks whose reckless greed has gone a long way to wreck the U.S. economy and kill American jobs.

From March 15-26, working people will hold rallies and demonstrations at branches of the Big Six Wall Street banks—Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wachovia-Wells Fargo—across the country. They will tell the banks: “I Am Not Your ATM” and “Make Wall Street Pay for Creating New Jobs.”

You also can tell Wall Street executives to pay to create good jobs by sending a letter urging them to do the right thing. Just click here.

Find out about events in your area here. If you take part in an event, be sure to send us your photo or video here.

The AFL-CIO Good Jobs Now site has all the tools you’ll need to let Wall Street know we mean business. There’s a Wall Street fact sheet, along with an explanation of our stand on making Wall Street pay to create good jobs, arguments for extending unemployment insurance benefits, creating good, green jobs with benefits and other issues.

The AFL-CIO supports four proposals for banks to pay a fair share to restore the economy: fees on Wall Street banks to pay back the cost of the bank bailout; a special levy on Wall Street bonuses, as proposed in the United Kingdom; a tax on the income of hedge fund and private equity managers, the wealthiest people in the country, at ordinary income rates, by closing the carried interest loophole and a financial speculation.

Inside out - British medical cannabis



Sarah Martin has Multiple Sclerosis and, while the British government sells British manufactured cannabis medicines to other countries, it continues to deny it to it's own patients. Countries such as Germany and Denmark purchase Sativex, made by GW Pharmaceuticals, as pain and spasm relieving medicine. Sativex is a cannabis tincture, effectively a new strain of SKUNK in a bottle. The tax payer should not be asked to support the growth of a benign plant and manufacture of a medicine that can be grown for free. Basic common sense and medical guidance will allow the patient to treat themselves safely in their own homes.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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