Thursday, March 27, 2008

Alan Maki says: Minnesota Workers Need New Legislation To Protect Them From Capitalist Globalization

Welcome to Saint Paul, Minnesota... the home of graft, greed and corruption

Honorable Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Chris Coleman,

Yesterday I wrote to you about your kind words about Gus Hall. See my letter on my blog:

Today I write to you about my suggestion that you seek a joint venture with the Chinese to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Plant because there could be some very welcome social consequences which would accompany such a venture as indicated in the news article below.

Yesterday I noted that as you fought the Ford Motor Company, St. Paul City Council Member Pat Harris was working behind your back in cahoots with the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the Ford Motor Company along with a group of real estate speculators, bankers and Wall Street investors who stand to profit handsomely from the destruction of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant which will include the loss of some two-thousand jobs. Harris did this by urging the defeat of S.F. 607 in the Minnesota legislature; legislation aimed at saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

Senator Metzen’s incompetent and uncaring Committee Secretary, Lisa Sarne, failed to take adequate minutes of the hearing on S.F. 607 so we will perhaps never know how the eighteen Senators on the Senate Committee on Business, Industry and Jobs voted; however, we do know that members of your Party, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, dominate this Committee 11 to 7. I have asked all members of this Committee how they voted, only three will say; some apparently have bad memories, while others are simply so cowardly and arrogant they won’t say. I find it interesting that here in the world’s leading bastion of democracy you can’t even find out how members of a legislative committee have voted on a piece of legislation.

I bring all of this up because in China the law says companies have to consult with workers about any plans to relocate or close down and/or relocate a manufacturing operation--- had we had similar legislation here in Minnesota, we most probably would be in a much better position to fight to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant because I think you will find that Ford workers are pretty much unanimous in wanting to keep their jobs. If you doubt my contention, I would encourage you to go talk to the Ford workers.

I am quite sure you will find that Ford workers were not consulted with or drawn into the decision making process on whether r not this very profitable plant should be closed and demolished to make way for up-scale housing, cute little yuppie boutiques and a bunch of poverty wage jobs.

As I pointed out, St. Paul needs more up-scale housing like I need a hole in my head. You can’t even keep families in the homes they have already purchased because they are being foreclosed on and evicted by the thousands as the same parasitic lenders responsible for this criminal mortgage fiasco are now positioning themselves like vultures over road-kill to profit from the demise of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the loss of two-thousand good paying union jobs.

Why are there no such laws protecting and guaranteeing the right of worker participation and involvement as in China right here in Minnesota protecting the rights of working people to participate in the real decision making process where it really counts: at their place of employment concerning an issue so basic as their right to a job and gainful employment?

Anyways, here is the article, Mr. Mayor. I would encourage you to take up this question of workers having such rights with your city council, state legislators, Minnesota’s congressional delegation and those businesses doing business in the City of St. Paul. Perhaps you should include a stipulation that any business hiring employees should have to consult with their employees before making the decision to close or relocate.

Kraft Foods Accused of Labour Law Violation

By Peter Bachmann, on Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Published in : The News, News March 2008

U.S.-based Kraft Foods Inc. faces a possible legal battle after unionized workers claim that the relocation of its China headquarters from Beijing to Shanghai violates the new labour contract law.

The American company will relocate its headquarters from Beijing to Shanghai by January 2009. The move comes after it purchased Danone's biscuit and snack division.

Some employees in the Beijing headquarters are apparently now accusing Kraft of violating China's new labour law, state media reports, claiming the company failed to consult with them fully before deciding to relocate. Around half of the 340 staff are expected to lose their jobs if they choose not to relocate.

"We have considered employees' benefits and offered higher compensation than the law requirements but employees have their own thoughts," Market Avenue quotes Li Lingping, Communications Director for Kraft Foods China.

Mayor Coleman, you might want to make a copy of this and keep it on your desk… it might even make a good emblem for the City of St. Paul:

Perhaps you could even use this as a logo for your next campaign.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

Friday, March 7, 2008

Julie Ristau (Tomales Bay Institute) will discuss commons-based solutions to environmental and social problems

I would like to add a short personal note to all of this. After hearing all the controversy surrounding what is going on out in the Big Bog, I decided to take my kids camping to Big Bog State Park. We went on the Bog Walk on the Boardwalk. I understand we tax-payers paid several million dollars for this. I think it was worth it if the purpose is to protect the Big Bog. This isn't the case as much as it would seem to be. What this Park and Boardwalk appear to be as far as I can see is some kind of cover to disguise the destruction taking place with the peat mining operation.

The large colorful posters are maybe designed to cover up the way Native American People have been mistreated. I am not sure if this is intentional. Maybe there is just a complete insensitivity by those who created the elaborate displays I don't know.

After taking the Boardwalk self tour, I went to ask the manager of the Big Bog State Park directions to the peat mining site. The man identified his self as Doug Easthouse. I couldn't believe what he told me. He said he was prohibited from talking about the peat mining operation. He said he could lose his job. I tried insisting he give me directions to the peat mining site because I wanted my kids to see the complete picture.

After Mr. Easthouse refused to tell me how to get to the peat mining site I asked him for a map of the area.

Mr. Easthouse refused to show me a map of the area because he said he understood my intent was to gain information about the peat mining operation.

Mr. Easthouse suggested I go purchase my own map. He said I might be able to get a map in Bemidji. That is an hour away.

I then went to a house where they were advertising wild rice for sale. These people gave me directions to the peat mining site.

The lady was almost in tears as she told us how everyone in the area was opposed to the peat mining but no officials would listen to anyone. She told me that both she and her husband had tried to talk to all kinds of government officials and no one would listen to their concerns. She said if word gets out about the increasingly rising high levels of mercury contamination people would stop buying their wild rice because these plants suck up the water containing the mercury. She told us public health officials had advised her family to be careful they do not eat too much of the rice they harvest because with the high levels of mercury in the fish the wild rice was sure to be loaded with mercury and perhaps other contaminants.

They were nice people. The husband drew me a very detailed map how to get to the mining site.

This is a very beautiful area. We saw ducks, geese even swans and pelicans. We saw huge eagles. I think there must have been every kind of bird imaginable. We saw a little red fox hunting in the ditch along the road. There was beaver swimming in a pond and muskrats jumped into the water. Further down we saw moose tracks on the road. My kids were very excited. I don't think they ever experienced being this deep into a wilderness area.

We arrived at the peat mining site about two in the afternoon. We walked out about one mile over a road that had been made far out into the bog.

It is impossible for me to describe the horrible devastation we experienced. I am still enraged that our government would spend millions of dollars on a Bog Walk and Interpretive Center telling us how precious and delicate this bog is. Then we see this kind of destruction.

We set up our tent after walking through the peat mining area. After we had the tent set up we roasted hot dogs and toasted marshmallows.

You can't help but get tears in your eyes just thinking about how any human being could possibly consider destroying all of this. It will all be destroyed. There are huge big drainage ditches carrying away the water and draining the bog for miles and miles. These aren't little ditches like along the roads. These are huge wide deep ditches.

I have read the Minnesota Volunteer for many years. This slick publication would lead anyone reading it that the MNDNR really cares about our environment.

I will never believe anything I read in the Minnesota Volunteer again. I will let anything I hear about what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says about how they are protecting our environment go in one ear and right out the other ear.

My experience ranging from this "Manager" of the Big Bog State Park to what I heard from local people to what I saw with my own eyes just tells me that the only thing the MNDNR cares about is money.

I am glad to see people like Alan Maki and Dave Thorstadt vigorously speaking out on this issue.

I have been reading a lot of what Alan Maki has been writing about the peat mining in the Big Bog. I just kind of thought, so what is new. To see and experience the complete picture just standing there in the center of this massive destruction underway is enough to make any person think something real bad is wrong with our country.

Reading and seeing are two different things. I would encourage everyone to plan a camping trip out to the Big Bog. Visit the Big Bog State Park. Visit this peat mining site.

If it is possible for Mother Nature to cry she is for sure crying now because my eyes swell up in tears just remembering what I saw. I don't even need to look at pictures to remind me of what I saw. I will never forget the destruction I saw. I don't know how any human being can set out to intentionally cause this kind of destruction.

My blood just boils as I sit here thinking about what I saw. Usually camping trips I go on with my kids are very memorable and enjoyable experiences... this was an eye opening and educational experience for me and my kids.

What I think about is all the people who camp in the Big Bog State Park and they go out to experience the Boardwalk and Interpretive exhibits. Most of these people will never know just twenty minutes away everything that they are being told is so precious is being destroyed. They will never know what hypocrites would create this kind of educational exhibit while they are engaged in such massive destruction.

I don't think there is any word to describe what is going on... just go see it for yourself.

What is really sad to think about is how much of this goes on in our country that we don't even know about. How many people would know to drive twenty minutes down the back roads to a peat mining site if one guy didn't go to a meeting and then probe and push a bunch of big shots for answers? This is as sad as the destruction taking place in the Big Bog. The destruction of democracy seems to run parallel with the destruction of our environment. Is this accidental or by design?


-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki []

Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 12:31 PM

To:;;;;;;;;;; 'Laurel';;;; 'Edgar A. Rudberg'; 'William McAuliffe';;; 'Mike Kilgore'; 'Alan Maki'; 'greenpartymike'; 'J. Reed Anderson';;;

Subject: Re: Julie Ristau (Tomales Bay Institute) will discuss commons-based solutions to environmental and social problems.

I noticed the following (see below) in David Shove’s “Progressive Calendar” and thought you might want to discuss the peat mining operation underway in the Pine Island State Forest located in the Big Bog as I was made aware by one of your members that WILPF had yet to take a position on this straight forward issue of defending the largest, most pristine, primary freshwater aquifer in North America.

Hopefully Julie will address this issue in her talk; if not, perhaps during discussion your organization would like to consider sending a letter to the Minnesota Commissioner of Natural Resources requesting that the permit to mine peat granted to Berger Peat Moss from Quebec, Canada be revoked.

WILPF is involved in a “Save the Water Campaign” and it would be very helpful if your organization would step forward to help us save this huge freshwater aquifer because we can not fight the state government and capitalist globalization by ourselves.

This is a state-wide issue… in fact, it is an important national and international issue because the mercury and dioxin contaminated waters being drained from the Big Bog so that the peat can be mined are draining into the Lake of the Woods Watershed which includes Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba. The Ontario and Manitoba governments have never been informed that as the already mercury laden Black River is being used as the drainage ditch to feed this contaminated water into the Rainy River (an international boundary water), that this contaminated water is entering Lake of the Woods (another international boundary water).

David Thorstadt just delivered an important speech in Minneapolis about this situation; that speech is on this blog:

I have a very detailed blog about peat mining in the Big Bog:

WILPF Save the Water campaigns:

This is from the:



Help pressure the MN DNR to revoke the permit to mine peat granted to Berger Peat Moss. Please send comments to: Commissioner Mark Holsten For talking points, see David Thorstad’s talk and

I hope that both WILPF and the Tomales Bay Institute will decide to join the struggle to Save Our Bog.

Peat mining in the Big Bog, like so many other environmental problems, has a very sharp social justice aspect to it, also… not least of all--- racism and governmental corruption.

As Elmer Benson, the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Governor often pointed out, “If we were to eliminate racism and corruption from the scheme of things, this entire rotten capitalist system would come tumbling down.”

And, earlier, Abraham Lincoln observed, “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow.”

In the case of the peat mining in the Big Bog, if the racism and corruption were to be stripped away, the permit to mine peat would be revoked, and the Big Bog would receive the kind of protection to which Mother Nature is entitled from a democratic government.

I would point out, that as this money was being embezzled, the person doing the embezzling, was illegally denying us access to public records concerning this dirty deal.

Well, this “corruption,” along with the most disgusting racism, has been enthroned in Minnesota politics since the mass hanging in Mankato and has so permeated Minnesota politics and business that we are now looking at one of the most racist and corrupt resulting deals; the result of what happens when corrupt county, state, federal and tribal officials join hands with corporations. For over thirty years, Roger Jourdain fought to protect the patterned peat lands of Minnesota, only to have a lifetime of struggle betrayed as politicians and a Canadian Corporation wanted to extract the peat; and, the Red Lake Tribal Council, which wanted to use its last--- fourth--- gaming license to build another casino “owned” by Red Lake Gaming Enterprises where the slot machines and table games are owned by a bunch of mobsters; with this $200,000,000.00 casino to be built in International Falls, Minnesota.

The only thing Minnesotans have received from such deals is the further contamination of our streams, rivers, lakes and even the land and the air, as more than thirty-thousand Minnesotans now go to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws.

This deal which traded a pristine wilderness bog, which is our primary freshwater aquifer, took root in the offices of the Koochiching Economic Development Authority (KEDA) which employs only two people administrative staff… one of the staff has now been charged with embezzling more than $300,000.00.

Abraham Lincoln and Elmer Benson were right.

After spawning this racist, corrupt, back-room deal, KEDA is no longer boasting of this boondoggle, nor the embezzlement charges, on its web site:

However, the destruction of the Big Bog moves forward with a highway built out into the Big Bog, subsidized by tax-payers, so Berger Peat Moss of Quebec can truck away the profits.

I trust that no one is advising anyone that this is any kind of “done deal.” Shortly before the Minnesota Commissioner of Natural Resources, Gene Merriam, resigned… Commissioner Merriam requested that I meet with him after he toured the Big Bog. Commissioner Merriam, in front of four DNR enforcement officers, including the head enforcement officer for the Region, told me that he “did not remember signing the permit, nor approving the permit to mine any peat in the Big Bog, let alone in a State Forest.” Shortly after this meeting, Commissioner Merriam unexpectedly and abruptly resigned and the man Tim Pawlenty had put in charge of watching over Merriam’s shoulder, Mark Holsten, was appointed the Commissioner of Natural Resources.

Did anything improper or corrupt take place here? Was Commissioner Merriam forced from office after he requested to meet with me over this issue of peat mining in the Big Bog? At a Trout Unlimited function, in a personal conversation I had with then Deputy Commissioner, Brad Moore, he strongly insinuated that Merriam was being ousted for meeting with me against the “advice” of Mark Holsten, whom I talked to in Warroad, told his staff that they were “prohibited from communicating with me.” Holsten ordered DNR staff, that if I entered any DNR office and requested to talk to anyone, the secretaries were to tell me that, “No one is available to talk to you at the present time. If you would like to schedule an appointment, someone will be in touch with you.”

Well, at least three DNR staff people and two scientists, along with a top scientist employed by the U.S. States Army Corps of Engineers, were either demoted or fired as a result of providing me with public documents that Mark Holsten ordered withheld from me… including the letter signed by Red Lake Nation Chair Butch Brun, provided at the request of United States Congressman James Oberstar, dropping the Red Lake Nation’s historic opposition to peat mining and commercialization of the Big Bog. Pegg Julson, the head of the Littlefork Office of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was immediately demoted upon orders of Mark Holsten after she provided me with the Butch Brun letter. Perhaps another punitive demotion which is a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. However, Pegg Julson was the first woman to rise to such a high position in the Forestry Department of the MNDNR. Something to consider as we celebrate International Women’s Day.

What we have in this issue is: racism, sexism, corruption and everything else spun off by capitalist globalization.

Let me point out, that the only reason anyone ever found out that the permit to mine peat was authorized was because I was assigned by our casino workers organizing committee to attend a meeting which was addressed by Congressman Oberstar concerning plans of the Red Lake Nation to build a new casino in International Falls, Minnesota.

At this meeting, Paul Nevanen the Executive Director of KEDA, whose associate now stands accused of embezzlement stemming from funds from this deal insisted that I be removed from the meeting at the Holiday Inn in International Falls, Minnesota. After being physically ejected from this meeting at the insistence of Nevanen and Congressman James Oberstar, who insisted that my presence at the meeting was in violation of some kind of law, which Oberstar has never been able to provide me with to this day, that me being in this meeting was some kind of “conflict of interest,” even though the meeting had been advertised in the International Falls Daily Journal as a “public meeting, everyone interested in economic development is encouraged to attend,” I continued to sit outside the door listening through the one inch “crack” in the door. It was at this time I heard United States Congressman James Oberstar say, “We are still waiting for the letter from Chief Brun signing off on Red Lake’s opposition to peat mining. After we receive this letter I will see to it that the required permits are processed and the Department of Interior is aware that we want the paperwork for the casino to be pushed through appropriate channels.”

I then went to see Red Lake Nation Chair Butch Brun in his Red Lake office. When I asked Brun to explain this letter Oberstar had referred to he went berserk; quite literally--- throwing things in his office at me, pushing me, slapping me, hitting me, kicking me, swearing at me… the Red Lake police were called and they told me to leave because as long as I was present they couldn’t “bring the Chairman under control.” Needless to say, Chairman Brun and I were not able to reach any agreement on a contract for the employees of Red Lake’s Casino Empire--- consisting of three casinos, an indoor water park, hotel and motel and restaurants. I am really not sure if it was the suggestion we negotiate a contract, or my request for the “letter,” that set the Chairman off.

Oberstar has boasted--- on television, radio and in the newspapers--- that he is the one who brokered this deal… boasting that he created thirty new jobs which Paul Nevanen has boasted will pay $8.00 per hour, most of which will be summer jobs. Oberstar doesn’t like to talk about the more than 50,000 jobs on the Iron Range which have been lost, but bristles with anger when I mention these fifty-thousand jobs; almost to the extent of Butch Brun’s anger at being asked about the letter he wrote.

Perhaps if Oberstar and Nevanen would pay their employees real living wages tax-payers wouldn’t now be looking at eating the $300,000.00 Nevanen’s companion embezzled.

Since tomorrow is International Women’s Day I would like to point out that women suffer the most from mercury and dioxin contaminated water; and, most casino workers in Minnesota are young women of child-bearing age who suffer the most harmful and detrimental affects of second-hand smoke while employed in the casinos.

I would also point out that the Red Lake Nation is once again marketing Red Lake Walleye which is being sold through its casinos. Red Lake has been designated as one of the lakes in North America with one of the highest levels of mercury where the DNR and the Minnesota Department of Public Health have advised women of child-bearing age, pregnant women and nursing mothers not to consume walleye from Red Lake… yet, unbeknownst to casino patrons, many young women, they are consuming this walleye in “All You Can Eat Walleye” feasts.

And Berger Peat Moss out of Quebec, Canada will sell this mercury laden peat all over the world, marketed under the Scott’s and Miracle Grow brands. Something to think about when you consider what those nice bright red “vine ripened” tomatoes in the produce section of your grocery store have been grown in… peat pots?

Not to worry though because most of the media which has ignored this issue has assured everyone it is because the issue of peat mining in the Big Bog is of no significance to most people. It is good enough that the Star Tribune merely informs people of the scientific reasons why bogs are an important part of fighting global warming without talking specifically about the peat mining in the Big Bog… and, no need to mention that most Minnesota legislators view peat as a renewable resource which is cheaper to mine than coal to be used in the generation electricity in biomass energy production.

Perhaps native grasses to produce ethanol will be grown when the Big Bog is sufficiently drained… shhhhhh, Representative Tony Cornish has asked me not to mention this.

I guess everyone is wondering why it has taken so long for WILPF and the Sierra Club to take a stand on this issue concerning the future of our largest and most precious freshwater aquifer… well, as of a few days ago the Sierra Club is now on record as being for urging the permit to mine the peat in the Big Bog be revoked… perhaps the Minneapolis branch of WILPF will now get on board.

From: Doris Marquit

Subject: WILPF/commons 3.08 10am

WILPF (Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, MN Metro Branch) invites you to Coffee With discussion:

Recovering the Commons

Speaker: Julie Ristau (Tomales Bay Institute) will discuss commons-based solutions to environmental and social problems. Saturday, March 8, 10 am-noon Van Cleve Community Ctr., 901 15th Ave. S.E., Minneapolis

Natural gifts like air and water, and social creations like science and the Internet, constitute our shared inheritance. The state has abandoned its role of maintaining a healthy balance between the commons and the market. Can we nurture and protect common assets from the ravages of exploitation, pollution, and privatization? Or must market forces dominate? Learn basic principles for managing our commons. Hear about practical ways we can leave common assets in better condition for future generations.


FFI: 651-458-7090;

Alan L. Maki

Member, MN DFL State Central Committee

Member, Sierra Club, North Star Chapter

Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tons of Food Aid Rotting in Haiti Ports

An example of what U.S. Imperialism brings to other countries... graft, greed and corruption.

Tons of Food Aid Rotting in Haiti Ports

Mar 6, 7:49 PM (ET)

(AP) Containers are moved at the port in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, March 6, 2008. While millions of...
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CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) - While millions of Haitians go hungry, containers full of food are stacking up in the nation's ports because of government red tape - leaving tons of beans, rice and other staples to rot under a sweltering sun or be devoured by vermin.

A government attempt to clean up a corrupt port system that has helped make Haiti a major conduit for Colombian cocaine has added new layers of bureaucracy - and led to backlogs so severe they are being felt 600 miles away in Miami, where cargo shipments to Haiti have ground almost to a standstill.

The problems are depriving desperate people of donated food. Some are so poor they are forced to eat cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable oil to satisfy their hunger.

An Associated Press investigation found the situation is most severe in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city. One recent afternoon, garbage men shoveled a pile of rotting pinto beans that had turned gray and crumbled to dust as cockroaches and beetles scurried about.

(AP) Food is unloaded from a cargo ship at the port in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, March 6, 2008. While...
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The men had found the putrid cargo by following a stench through stacked shipping containers to one holding 40,000 pounds of beans. It had been in port since November.

"So many times, by the time (the food) gets out of customs it's expired and we're forced to burn it," said Susie Scott Krabacher, whose Colorado-based Mercy and Sharing Foundation has worked in Haiti for 14 years. "The food is there. It is available. It just can't get to the people."

Though it is unclear how much of Haiti's food supply is tied up in the port delays, the effects could be serious. Haiti imports about 75 percent of its food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And there is little room for error in a country where the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that almost half the population was undernourished in 2002.

The U.N. World Food Program and large-scale U.S. rice growers say they have been able to get their food into Haiti by hiring local agents to handle bureaucratic procedures. But smaller charities, merchants and private citizens have often been forced by the delays to throw away containers of food or pay exorbitant fees.

The problems stem in part from efforts to clean up a port system the World Bank recently ranked as the second-worst in the region, ahead of only Guyana.

(AP) A worker checks a container at the port in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, March 6, 2008. While millions...
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Before the changes were implemented last fall, bribes flowed freely and goods passed through unsearched and without duties being paid. That deprived the government of money and helped make Haiti a major transshipment point for Colombian cocaine destined for the United States.

The international community has encouraged Haiti's customs reform efforts, with the U.S. government helping fund port security and U.N. peacekeepers stepping up anti-smuggling patrols along the coast and Dominican border.

But new requirements for licenses and manifests in triplicate have overwhelmed poorly trained workers and the country's archaic, handwritten customs system.

Unlike U.S. ports, where less than 5 percent of containers were scanned last year and only a fraction of those opened up and inspected, Haitian cargo handlers said each container at Cap-Haitien must now be completely emptied and inspected. Customs chief Jean-Jacques Valentin said that policy was Haiti's own decision.

Frustrated by the new procedures and demanding higher pay, striking workers shut down the port at Cap-Haitien for 20 days in December. Graffiti denouncing the port's director still mars its buildings.

(AP) Sugar is unloaded from a cargo ship at the port in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2008. While...
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And despite the reforms, some say the bribes are continuing.

Jean-Paul Michaud, a Canadian, said he sailed to the capital of Port-au-Prince late last year carrying 60 pounds of donated clothing and medicine - and that port authorities demanded $10,000 in "customs fees" - code for a bribe to make the fees disappear.

"I'd have rather thrown the aid in the water," said Michaud. The Canadian Embassy intervened and the fee was later waived.

Krabacher's group says it has paid nearly $16,000 in fees in the first six weeks of 2008 alone, compared to $23,418 for all of 2007.

Lawmakers concerned about the situation questioned Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis about the port delays during a February no-confidence vote.

(AP) Containers of food and other goods sit at the port in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, March. 6,...
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"There is a lot of work being done in terms of the ports," Alexis maintained. "We are looking at a way to implement a 'fast-track' policy, so people can get their merchandise out more quickly."

He also recommended splitting the National Port Authority into two agencies, one focusing on the logistics of port management and the other overseeing customs because he does not believe the current agency can handle both tasks.

Haitian President Rene Preval echoed those concerns in a speech to parliament in January, calling for a crackdown on illegal contraband and a lowering of exorbitant container fees that are three times higher than those in neighboring Dominican Republic.

While lawmakers haggle over the answers, precious food rots by the ton.

After opening the door of the orange container filled with rotting beans last month, the workers were hit by a revolting smell. They let the odor dissipate for a week before spending two days loading the beans into a flatbed truck and hauling them away for disposal.

The garbage collectors grumbled about the waste, with one saying he wished he could have taken the beans to his neighborhood before they rotted. The workers then went in search of a container loaded with spoiling rice.

Dimitri Torres, the director of container-handler Cap Terminal SA., said he doesn't even know who shipped the beans. They had already been transferred from one container to another during inspection and the shipping documents had disappeared.

Valentin, the customs chief, blames the backlog on shippers who are trying to skirt the new system. He said some intended to smuggle items into Haiti and avoid customs duties.

"They are people that weren't straight with not bringing contraband, and that's why they're making excuses and that's why things are slow," Valentin said.

Cap Terminal normally has about 50 containers at its yard next to the port, Torres said. More than 200 are now stacked up, at least half belonging to Miami-based Frontier Liner Services.

That company, like several others, has stopped shipping to Haiti until the delays are resolved and its empty containers are returned. Haiti-bound cargo traffic in Florida's Miami River is at a virtual standstill.

"We've had to lay off people," said Munir Mourra, president of Miami-based River Terminal Services. "Pretty much all the stevedores on the vessels have been laid off."


Katz reported from Cap-Haitien and Kay from Miami.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Alan Maki drives home a class struggle point of view in two responses to the revisionists

-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki []

Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2008 10:17 AM

To: ''; ''; ''

Cc: ''; ''; ''; 'Walter Tillow'; ''; 'Paul Kaczocha & Alter Jean Moss'; 'Carl Davidson'; ''

Subject: RE: From Joe Sims of PA: results of today's primaries

I don't know what to say about this pathetic liquidationist drivel and revisionist nonsense brought to my attention in this:

Perhaps one of the best examples is provided in Jim Lanes blogging where he enthusiastically drools over one of the most reactionary newspapers in the country endorsing Obama this way:

The African American tabloid has a photo of both Democratic contenders on their front page. The accompanying article, though, is very pro-Obama: "The Obama campaign is the most spirited campaign in the history of the United States, and stands to break down the 'Berlin Wall' of race if Obama wins." They also write: "He has created a (sic) immense grassroots campaign in Texas unlike anything seen before in American politics. He has galvanized opposition to the Iraq War as one of the most corrupt wars in American history."

Now, racism, for Jim Lane, is the equivalent of the “Berlin Wall,” which was erected to keep the racist, anti-Semitic fascists out. How soon people forget when real working class Communist books are tossed to the curb and liquidated.

I would note that in the resolutions brought forward by Jim Lane’s friends of the PWW, there were no resolutions in support of dealing with plant closings, unemployment and the minimum wage. And, we have to continue asking why the PWW and PA never carried sample resolutions on the pressing problems the working class is experiencing.

We know, from their previous writings, Joel Wendland and Joe Simms are relying upon John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich to bring H.R. 676 forward at some point… I assume this to be just as quickly as John Conyers brought forward his heralded impeachment of Bush and Cheney--- in fact, Conyers went right on stumping for, and stating the case for impeachment in all of his talks across the country as he called for a boycott of the Olympics in China--- something that has not been mentioned in the PWW or PA for some reason; you know, if you don’t read about these things in the PWW and PA it is just as good as never have happened… just like the reason for the President of the IAM attacking Obama… we hear about his terrible attack, but, we don’t hear why the attack took place--- when you are cheerleading on the Democratic candidates the class struggle doesn’t really matter, does it… in fact, it is best that the class struggle be swept well under the rug in an attempt to suffocate it.

This from the PA blog posting really takes the prize: Realizing that there can be a change in politics, many are considering voting for Barack Obama. After all, he seems to promote real change in some areas. Not a lot had been discussed about Lobbyists until now.

The PWW and PA have repeatedly refused to report the real news of “lobbying” in the United States. Not once has the PWW or PA published articles explaining to working people how these law firms/lobbyists like Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck form the core workings of state-monopoly capitalism in shaping everything from politics at the local and state levels to internationally and in foreign affairs.

William Z. Foster repeatedly said, over and over again, that the American working class needed an anti-imperialist education; yet, how imperialism really works is being intentionally with-held from the working class by the leadership of the CPUSA and the PWW and PA… even though it is necessary for the American working class to have these facts in order to achieve even the smallest victories at the local level.

There is a very sad irony to all of this because none other then Sam Webb, the Chair of the CPUSA, bemoaned and agonized that there have been no victories on the part of the people for many years. On the one hand Webb refuses to conduct the kind of education Foster said was required for such victories; on the other hand Webb cites these lack of victories as the need to support these pathetic candidates the Democratic Party has brought forward working the American people in a way to keep them trapped under the Big Top of the “one big tent” policy.

That thousands of auto workers, are, and more will be without jobs--- and as a result, miners and steelworkers will lose their jobs (it still takes a lot of steel to produce automobiles and trucks)--- during the next administration no matter who gets elected and Sam Webb and the leadership of OUR Party do not even see the need to advance the required resolutions addressing this problem in precinct caucuses… and, Jim Lane, a UAW member writes in a blog about resolutions as he has been part of the revisionist and liquidationist attack team against those of us attempting to bring these issues forward.

For Webb and Lane, they claim, our demands for public ownership (and what tax-payers finance tax-payers should own and control are “too advanced”); yet, look at how Lane describes the primary process in his PWW/PA blog (one wonders why these revisionists even bother to keep a Marxist press going, such a press one would think would create problems for them with their Democratic “coalition partners;” however, perhaps there are some Communists more acceptable than others for such a partnership?)--- anyways, Webb and Lane who talk about we mustn’t muddy the waters with such advanced demands of public ownership, Lane writes: “Think about it further. If my friends are correct in their observations, is it not likely that the grass roots structures being created by the Obama campaign will endure past the primaries, past the general election, and far into the next administration? If the campaign is creating cadres instead of drones, are we not looking at the possibility of a new kind of grassroots democracy in America's future? Compare the idea to the "Circulos" in Venezuela or the "Committees in Defense of the Revolution" in Cuba. Both of them depend on cadre leadership at the grass roots, community level. Both of them are at the very root of democracy's preservation and furtherance.

The long-term effect of the Obama campaign is worth pondering, especially as we analyze the staggering anti-Bush voter turnout across America and wonder what it portends for our future.

--Jim Lane in Dallas

Am I reading this right? Jim Lane, who thinks the concepts of public ownership and “what the tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own” is so far out in left field these ideas should not even be broached; that none other than Jim Lane is suggesting that Barack Obama’s campaign is preparing the working class to take state power? Upon reading Barack Obama’s essay in Foreign Affairs magazine and his blatantly anti-communist/anti-Castro views, somehow, I don’t think this is exactly what Barack Obama and his handlers have in mind… I don’t even see any indication that his clapping and cheering supporters who applaud such advanced concepts as “hope” and “change” and “we can do it” have this in mind.

However, this is what the revisionists and liquidationists always do. They substitute these kinds of nice sounding words in order to cover up what really needs to be done.

We have to ask this very important question--- and insist on some answers: How is it that these revisionist “leaders” talk about the importance of working among industrial workers--- and specify auto and mining and steel workers--- but, then, during an election when people are most alert and active, these leaders never mention the problems miners, steel and auto workers are experiencing, not to mention they do not use this opportunity to advance real solutions to the problems these workers and the rest of the working class is experiencing?

I would note, not only did Jim Lane not mention anything regarding resolutions relating to plant closings, unemployment and a real living--- non poverty--- minimum wage; Jim Lane did not mention anything about resolutions relating to the home foreclosures/evictions sweeping this country by the hundreds of thousands--- the millions!

I suppose since Jim Lane lives in the warm state of Texas staying warm in the winter is not a problem so we understand why there were no resolutions relating to the energy crisis… however, I hear tell, that Texans get gouged and ripped-off at the gas pumps just like the rest of us.

Rather than issuing their standard diatribes against me and all this Stalinist crap… why don’t these Party “leaders” try responding to me for a change?

Does not anyone see a problem with Erwin Marquit traveling to China to advise them on the virtues of introducing and expanding the “socialist market economy” when the economic miracle of capitalism is a “bubble about to burst” and he, along with the Economics Commission of our Party has nothing to say except, “We consider the closing of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Plant to be unfortunate for the workers and their families” as Scott Marshall and Jim Lane’s buddy, Mark Froemke, proclaim this as a “done deal?” I would think these “Committees of the Revolution” being organized through the Obama campaign might have something more substantial to say about this plant closing?

If not the “Committees of the Revolution,” shouldn’t Erwin Marquit’s and Danny Rubin’s “Committees of Correspondence” at least have something to say about the closing of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant?

I notice no mention is made in any of these blogs about copies of “Always Bring A Crowd; The Story of Frank Lumpkins, Steel Worker” by Beatrice Lumpkins being sold or passed around for people to read.

By the way… I notice none of these “bloggers” state whether or not leaflets were distributed to the precinct caucus participants promoting this PWW/PA blog?

And, why has just about everyone in Minnesota--- except for Erwin Marquit, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, the Republican Party and the Summit Hill Club--- come out in favor of an increase in the minimum wage? Isn’t the Communist Party usually out front on this issue?

It is nice that Jim Lane mentions the resolution for ending the war in Iraq--- however, Obama, like Hillary, is pledged to “winning” the war in Afghanistan. And I don’t see any photos of Joel Wendland, Sam Webb, Erwin Marquit and Jim Lane standing in line at the recruitment offices volunteering to pitch in and “get ‘er done.”

With Norman Markowitz already associating both the Obama and Clinton campaigns the heralding of another era of “New Deal” reforms, I am sorry, but I don’t see the comparisons of Obama’s Circulos” and “Committees in Defense of the Revolution” as being similar to the Unemployed Councils and Communist Party Clubs.

But, go ahead and read the PWW/PA blogs for yourself:

Brrrrrrrrrr… its cold up here in Northern Minnesota; we could use an increase in home heating assistance; rather than the cut we received that went unnoticed by the PWW/PA bloggers.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

-----Original Message-----


Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2008 4:52 AM

To: Alan Maki

Subject: FYI: From Joe Sims of PA: results of today's primaries

----- Original Message -----

From: "Joe Sims"


Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 6:28 PM

Subject: results of today's primaries

> Hi,


> If you haven't already, please check

We have with PWW an Election Blog

> with the latest from todays primaries.


> best,


> joe

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki


Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2008 11:14 AM

To: ''; ''; ''

Cc: ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; 'Walter Tillow'; ''; 'Paul Kaczocha & Alter Jean Moss'; 'Carl Davidson'; ''

Subject: John McCain: Bad News for American Workers, UAW President

Isn’t UAW President Ron Gettelfinger kind of “bad news” for auto workers, too?

I know Joel Wendland won’t like hearing this; but, neither Wendland nor Gettelfinger have done anything except support corporate decision-making in closing the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

Because of Gettelfinger’s leadership and Wendland’s kiss-butt approach to class collaborationist politics, auto workers are now employed at jobs receiving poverty wages for the first time in over seventy-five years!

Anyways… both Gettelfinger and Wendland are making there obligatory militant posture.

Hmmmmmmmm, I wonder if there is a reason Wendland hasn’t seen fit to provide details and analysis concerning the remarks made by the IAM President Buffenbarger?

Does it really take the UAW President to make the case that “John McCain is bad news for American Workers”?

John McCain: Bad News for American Workers, UAW President

3-04-08, 12:13 pm

In his most recent op-ed in Solidarity magazine titled "It's time for a change," United Autoworkers (UAW) President Ron Gettelfinger fired both rhetorical barrels at George W. Bush and John McCain.

Gettelfinger stated that under Bush and the Republican Party controlled Congress, "working people have been getting a raw deal."

Bush and the Republicans showed "in real and painful ways what happens when corporate interests control the agenda." Workers lose their jobs and their homes; communities are destroyed.

Gettelfinger talked about the demand by autoworkers for change. They want to end bad trade deals that help corporations move jobs out of the economy and "hurt workers in all countries." Also, UAW members, he went on, "have always believed that health care should be a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it."

Gettelfinger insisted that our government must fulfill its responsibility to protect the rights of workers to organize and join unions and bargain collectively for better jobs.

He stated that the current nomination process has shown that most Americans agree that "[o]ur country needs a fundamental change in direction."

But the presumptive Republican Party candidate, Gettelfinger added, doesn't represent any kind of change at all. John McCain, said the union leader, "is bad news for America and American workers."

John McCain's enthusiasm for NAFTA and other free trade deals mixed with his open lack of concern for lost jobs shows where he stands on working families issues.

John McCain recently told Ohio voters that "NAFTA was a good idea. ... [F]ree trade ... is vital to the future of America. Have people lost jobs? Yes, they have, and they're gonna lose jobs."

John McCain should lose his. Perhaps he wouldn't be so glib about it.

Gettelfinger also unloaded on McCain's support for apparently endless occupation of Iraq, his plans to privatize Social Security, and his demand to make Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent.

"His record is just as bad when it comes to workers' rights," he added. McCain voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, against raising the minimum wage, and against extending unemployment compensation benefits during this recession.

"The choice for change in the coming election," Gettelfinger concluded, "will be clear." He vowed to lead the UAW in mobilizing its members to help bring out the vote to defeat McCain on November 4th.

--Reach Joel Wendland at

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Trial to Offer Look at World of Information Trading

New York Times


Trial to Offer Look at World of Information Trading

Kevin Wolf/Associated Press

Steven J. Rosen, left, with his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, is charged with violating the World War I-era Espionage Act.


Published: March 3, 2008

WASHINGTON — From its headquarters near the Capitol, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, has for decades played an important though informal role in the formation of the United States government’s Middle East policy.

Skip to next paragraph

Kevin Wolf/Associated Press

Keith Weissman is also charged with violating the Espionage Act.

As part of Aipac’s mission to lobby the government on behalf of Israel, its officials assiduously maintain contact with senior policymakers, lawmakers, diplomats and journalists. Those conversations are typical of the unseen world of information trading in Washington, where people customarily and insistently ask each other, “So, what are you hearing?”

But a trial scheduled for late April in federal court in Alexandria, Va., threatens to expose and upend that system. Moreover, the case comes with issues of enormous sensitivity and emotion, notably the nature and extent of the ways American Jewish supporters of Israel try to influence the United States government.

Two former senior analysts for Aipac, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, are charged with violating the World War I-era Espionage Act when they told colleagues, journalists and Israeli Embassy officials information about Iran and Iraq they had learned from talking to high-level United States policymakers.

Unless the government suddenly backs down, the courtroom will become the stage for an extraordinary parade of top officials being forced to testify about some of the unseen ways American foreign policy is made.

Over the strong objections of the Justice Department, the judge in the case ruled that the defense may call as witnesses Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state; Stephen J. Hadley, the White House national security adviser; Elliot Abrams, a deputy national security adviser; Richard L. Armitage, former deputy secretary of state; Paul D. Wolfowitz, former deputy defense secretary; and a dozen other Bush administration foreign policy officials.

The defense’s goal is to demonstrate that the kind of conversations in the indictment are an accepted, if not routine, way that American policy on Israel and the Middle East has been formulated for years.

Mr. Rosen’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the case raised “strange and troubling issues, notably the decision to target Aipac for common and proper behavior that goes on in Washington every day.”

Mr. Lowell and John Nassikas III, who represents Mr. Weissman, plan to confront Ms. Rice and the other witnesses with explicit examples of exchanges in which they provided similar sensitive information to Aipac staff members as part of the regular back-channel world of diplomacy.

Although Aipac has not been charged in the case, the trial, to be heard by Judge T. S. Ellis III, will revolve around how the group, renowned for its effectiveness in presenting Israel’s case, exerts its influence in Congress and, especially in recent years, on the executive branch.

For Aipac and to some extent the larger pro-Israel community in the United States, the charges against Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman could raise what they regard as an unfair, even toxic question about whether some American Jews hold a loyalty to Israel that matches or exceeds their loyalty to the United States.

The trial will also take place only months after the eruption of an intense public debate about the American Jewish supporters of Israel that was occasioned by the publication of an article and book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” The authors, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University, argue that the pro-Israel lobby successfully suppresses legitimate criticism of Israel and uses its influence to distort the public debate about Middle East policy.

Their views produced a ferocious counterattack in magazines and scholarly journals in which both their facts and conclusions were challenged.

The trial will as well be shadowed by the case of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian analyst for the Navy who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for spying on behalf of Israel. There is no question that the charges against Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman are vastly different than the actions of Mr. Pollard, who knowingly acted as a spy by stealing sensitive documents and passing them covertly to Israeli agents.

The emotional resonance of his case continues, however, because it directly raised the notion of dual loyalty and because his supporters think he has been denied parole to satisfy a national security community that was deeply angered over Israel’s spying on the United States.

Avi Beker, who teaches what he calls “Jewish diplomacy” at the University of Tel Aviv and Georgetown University, said that while the two cases are greatly different, “they evoke a parallel psychological effect” both among American Jews who have an enduring anxiety about the dual loyalty charge and those who are suspicious of the Israel lobby.

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman each face one charge of conspiracy to communicate national defense information, and Mr. Rosen faces an additional charge of aiding and abetting the conspiracy.

Justice Department officials would not discuss the case. But at the time of the indictment in 2005, Paul J. McNulty, then the chief prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia, said, “Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be.”

According to the indictment, the defendants received sensitive information from at least three government sources that was passed on to journalists and Israeli officials. One of the sources was Lawrence A. Franklin, a Pentagon analyst who has pleaded guilty to passing on sensitive information to a journalist and an Israeli diplomat. Mr. Franklin has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

After Mr. Franklin was arrested in 2004, he became a cooperating witness for the government and, while wearing a wire, met with Mr. Weissman and told him that Iran had learned that Israeli agents were in northern Iraq. Mr. Weissman, according to the indictment, told Mr. Rosen, and they both relayed that information to an Israeli diplomat and intelligence officer and an unnamed Washington Post reporter later identified as Glenn Kessler.

The other two sources of information received by Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman are identified in the indictment only as Government Official-1 and Government Official-2. Kenneth Pollack, who was the National Security Council specialist on the Persian Gulf, said in an interview that he thought he was Government Official-1 because on Dec. 12, 2000, he had had lunch with Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman.

Mr. Pollack, who is no longer with the government, said that he told government investigators, “I never revealed any classified information to Rosen and Weissman, and I never revealed any information that would be harmful to the security or interests of the United States.”

The indictment also charges that Mr. Rosen received information in January 2002 from Government Official-2, who has been identified by people involved in the case as David M. Satterfield, who has since been promoted to the post of the State Department’s senior adviser on Iraq. A spokesman for Mr. Satterfield would not comment.

Mr. Lowell, the defense lawyer, said there had been no explanation as to why neither Mr. Pollack nor Mr. Satterfield seemed to be in any legal jeopardy for imparting information to Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman that became part of the charges against them when they passed that information on to others.

Aipac, which spends nearly $2 million annually in lobbying, according to public filings, has worked to distance itself from the defendants.

Aipac dismissed them in early 2004 after federal prosecutors in Virginia played part of surreptitiously recorded conversations for Nathan Lewin, a veteran Washington lawyer representing Aipac. The tapes were of conversations in which Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman passed on information about the Middle East they had received from government officials to Mr. Kessler at The Washington Post.

Mr. Lewin, who has had a long history as a trusted counsel for various Jewish organizations, traveled back to Aipac’s headquarters near Capitol Hill from Alexandria that day and advised the group to fire the men.

The Aipac spokesman on the Rosen-Weissman matter, Patrick Dorton, said at the time that the two men were dismissed because their behavior “did not comport with standards that Aipac expects of its employees.” He said recently that Aipac still held that view of their behavior.

Mr. Lewin would not discuss what he heard that day. But others familiar with the case said the defendants’ boastful tone, which may have been used to suggest that their knowledge reflected their great influence within the administration, made the conversations potentially embarrassing.

Compliments of:

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk