Naomi Klein Announces Leap Year 2016 for Activists—by Thomas Baldwin

Naomi Klein---beatiful picture

Leap Year 2016 – Hangout with Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, and more

Very important new effort for progressive activists. Watch this recording of Leap Year 2016 which was produced today–February 5. It is very worthwhile and shows the incredible leadership given by Naomi Klein and her associates on organizing “progressives” of common purpose around the climate change issue.
No more small steps for the climate and economic justice movement: now is the time to leap. A conversation with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (This Changes Everything), Bill McKibben (350.org) and Asad Rehman (Friend of the Earth UK) and special guests. Sponsored by Rabble.ca.leapyear2016.org

No more small steps for the climate and economic justice movement: now is the time to leap. A…
YOUTUBE.COM
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THE LEAP MANIFESTO

“We start from the premise that Canada is facing the deepest crisis in recent memory.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has acknowledged shocking details about the violence of Canada’s near past. Deepening poverty and inequality are a scar on the country’s present. And Canada’s record on climate change is a crime against humanity’s future.

These facts are all the more jarring because they depart so dramatically from our stated values: respect for Indigenous rights, internationalism, human rights, diversity, and environmental stewardship.

Canada is not this place today— but it could be.”

The Leap Manifesto | A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another
LEAPMANIFESTO.ORG
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Naomi Klein, The Guardian

Naomi Klein

The Guardian

Recent articles by Naomi:

https://www.pressrush.com/author/5732939/naomi-klein

The Guardian

Dec 15, 2015

​Naomi Klein: the year ​when people yelled ‘Fire!’

From climate change to police violence and the refugee crisis, ​this was the year ​when ordinary people stood up to declare an emergency, writes the author and activist in an extract from the foreword of The Bedside Guardian 2015​ → Read More

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Biographical Information

Naomi Klein – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Klein   

Born May 8, 1970 (age 45)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Occupation Author, activist
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Toronto (did not graduate)
Period 1999–present
Genre Non-fiction
Subject Anti-globalization, anti-war, anti-capitalism, environmentalism
Notable works This Changes Everything, No Logo, The Shock Doctrine
Spouse Avi Lewis
Children 1 (Toma[1])
Website
naomiklein.org
 
Naomi Klein (born May 8, 1970) is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of corporate capitalism.[2] She first became known internationally for No Logo (1999); The Take, a documentary film aboutArgentina’s occupied factories that was written by Klein and directed by her husband Avi Lewis; and The Shock Doctrine (2007), a critical analysis of the history of neoliberal economics that was adapted into a six-minute companion film by Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón,[3] as well as a feature-length documentary by Michael Winterbottom.[4] This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (2014), a New York Times non-fiction bestseller and the winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction in its year.[5] Klein frequently appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers, including the 2014 Thought Leaders ranking compiled by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute,[6] Prospectmagazine’s world thinkers 2014 poll,[7] and Maclean’s 2014 Power List.[8] She is a member of the board of directors of the climate activist group350.org.[9]

Bankers, Preachers, and Fear of President Sanders by David Swanson

Posted on 05 February 2016

http://davidswanson.org/node/5044

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new war in Libya, more war in Syria, permanent war in Afghanistan, climate change crashing over the cliff — these and other immediate disasters are pursued with one hand, while the magician’s other hand distracts us with caucuses, primaries, and super bowls. Remember when insiders said the TPP would die the moment it was made public? Well, what if it was made public during an election season? Bread and circuses, even in Rome, weren’t designed to make the people happy but to keep them pacified while all the real energy and treasure went into destroying Carthage and filling the vomitoria of the oligarchs. And it’s easier for a good team to make it into the super bowl than for a truly good candidate to make it into corporate election reporting. I deny none of that. And yet …

Bernie on stage--Swanson article

The 2015-2016 presidential election has, by some measures, already accomplished more than all the previous elections in my lifetime put together. And it’s scaring some of the right people.

If you had claimed in 1969 that it would be possible for presidential candidates in the United States to reject religion before they could reject permanent worldwide military empire, you’d have been laughed right out of the Age of Aquarius.

If you’d prognosticated in 1999 that an independent socialist focused like a laser beam on taxing billionaires and busting up some of their most profitable scams (not to mention taxing many of the rest of us) could grab the lead in a Democratic primary campaign against a Clinton with no intern scandals, you’d have been triangulated right out of your career as you knew it.

And if you’d predicted in 2014 that a candidate virtually ignored by the consolidated corporate media, as consolidated under the Clinton Telecom Act, would surge in the polls, you’d have garnered as much respect as those guys in The Big Short did when they claimed to know more than the high priests of Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders, for all of his dramatic shortcomings, is a phenomenon created by a perfect storm of institutional failure — by Hillary Clinton’s coronation constructed of cards just waiting for someone to suggest that millions of outraged winds breathe on it. Sanders is 6 years older and generations more advanced than his Democratic Party rival.

God Is Dead

“What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Sanders’ website calls him “secular” and “not particularly religious.” His answers to a religion question during a CNN “town hall” this week were typical. A member of the audience asked about religion and race, and Sanders answered only about race. Then the moderator asked again about religion. And this was Sanders’ answer, I swear to … — well, I just swear:

“It’s a guiding principle in my life. Absolutely it is. You know, everybody practices religion in a different way. To me, I would not be here tonight, I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings. I believe that, as a human being, the pain that one person feels, if we have children that are hungry in America, if we have elderly people who can’t afford their prescription drugs, you know what? That impacts you, that impacts me, and I worry very much about a society where some people spiritually say, ‘It doesn’t matter to me. I got it. I don’t care about other people.’ So, my spirituality is that we are all in this together, and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me. That is my very strong spiritual feeling.”

It’s also my very strong non-spiritual feeling. But that was a typical Bernie answer, one he’s given many times, typical even in its focus on only 4% of humanity and on only a particular type of homeless people. Some states, by the way, are making huge strides toward ending the shame of homelessness for veterans, so that soon all homeless people in the United States may be people who have never been part of a mass-murder operation. I point this out not to oppose it. Better more people with homes, no matter how it’s done! And I point it out not to quibble with Sanders’ statement of generosity and humanism, but to suggest that part of how Sanders slipped a completely irreligious answer past an audience that asked a religious question is that Sanders identified himself with the true U.S. religion, the religion that will be front and center and in the jet noise overhead at the super bowl — the religion of war, the religion of national exceptionalism. Who can forget Ron Paul being booed in a primary debate for applying the golden rule to non-Americans?

When Sanders is asked explicitly if he “believes in God,” he also answers, “What my spirituality is about is that we’re all in this together.” Exactly what my non-spirituality is about. I think it’s safe to assume he’ll never be asked if he believes in death (which television sponsors would be pleased by that topic?), so “God” is the question he’ll get, and he won’t be required to answer it. New Hampshire is the least religious state in the country, but the country as a whole has also moved against religion and even more so against “organized religion.” Some of us always preferred the organized part (the community, the music, etc.) to the religion, but the larger trend here is a rejection of elite institutions telling us how to run our lives while demonstrably running the world into the ground. And who has more to answer for in that regard than God?

Rejecting organized religion while proclaiming an individual “spirituality” may be all that is needed, and that is tremendous news. That Sanders has done this while professing an ideology of generosity and solidarity, and winning applause for that, is even better news. Studies find that lack of religion can correlate with greater generosity, as certainly seems to be the case with the Scandinavian societies Sanders points to as models. (Seventeen percent of Swedes, as compared to 65% of U.S. Americans, say religion is “important“.)

majority in the United States say they wouldn’t vote for an atheist, but for many atheism, like gender, race, sexual preference, and other identifiers is now a matter of self-identification. Someone must choose to call themselves an atheist. Just having no use for theism doesn’t qualify them. The media also seems to have no direct interest in attacking candidates on religion. Nobody pays them to do that. And it doesn’t show a lot of potential as a weapon. Donald Trump is seen as the least religious candidate in the field, and some of the most religious voters say they support him and just don’t care. In addition, Sanders is a supporter of religious freedom, tolerance, and even tax exemptions. He doesn’t fit the mold of the bigoted atheist who finds Islam dangerously more religious than Christianity. The media is also no big fan of Ted Cruz, who’s on a Dubya-like mission from God. All of these factors seem to have made it possible to run for president of the United States on a platform of pure enlightenment humanism. I didn’t think I’d live to see that.

Most Dangerous Man on Wall Street

Hillary Clinton friend and funder and CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein seems to view Bernie Sanders as President Richard Nixon characterized Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and as President Barack Obama seems to view WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, as the most dangerous person in the United States. Sanders’ sin, in Blankfein’s view, is failure to worship the almighty dollar.

Blankfein is fully aware that his endorsing a candidate would hurt that candidate, but seems not to have thought through the possibility that opposing a candidate might help them. Reportedly, Blankfein suggested this week that “Sanders’ attacks on the ‘billionaire class’ and bankers could be dangerous. ‘It has the potential to personalize it, it has the potential to be a dangerous moment. Not just for Wall Street not just for the people who are particularly targeted but for anybody who is a little bit out of line,’ Blankfein said.”

It sounds like the 1% has a case of 99% envy. Misery loves company, but fear demands it. Think about what Blankfein is claiming. One of the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton, who has long said explicitly that the Democratic Party should represent banks, has taken $675,000 (or about $5,000 per minute) to give three speeches to Blankfein’s company, in which she reportedly reassured them they had nothing to worry about (despite widely known crimes that wrecked the economy of the United States and other nations). Public demands to even see what Clinton told Goldman Sachs have thus far gone unanswered and unechoed in the media, except by Ralph Nader. On Clinton Blankfein has no comment and sees nothing unusual. This is normal, standard, and unquestionable behavior.

But Bernie Sanders proposes to enforce laws, laws against financial trickery, laws against cheating on taxes, laws against monopolization, laws against market manipulation, and new taxes on unearned wealth. Well, this is unacceptable and in fact “dangerous”! It’s extreme madness is what it is, according to Blankfein, who depicts Sanders’ position as fanatical: “It’s a liability to say I’m going to compromise, I’m going to get one millimeter off the extreme position I have and if you do you have to back track and swear to people that you’ll never compromise. It’s just incredible. It’s a moment in history.” That it is.

Here’s how Bill Clinton reportedly viewed popular resentment of bankers in 2014: “You could take Lloyd Blankfein into a dark alley and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days. Then the blood lust would rise again.” Of course, nobody had proposed killing bankers. Many had proposed enforcing laws. But that’s how bankers view such a proposal, through the lens of fear. They are probably not alone. Sanders is proposing to end fracking and various other disastrous industries, while investing in new ones. He promises to block the TPP, which Clinton — long a big supporter of it — merely claims to “oppose” without committing to actually prevent. Sanders wants to tax the very wealthiest, including the 20 individuals who own as much as half the country. He wants to break up monopolies, including on Wall Street, and perhaps in the media — which is already clearly shaken by the fact that he’s advanced in the polls without them.

Health insurance executives can’t be feeling too much better than banksters, unless they’re wise enough to see the bigger picture. I waited on hold for 30 minutes this week to try to fix the latest SNAFU with my Obamacare, and then a really helpful woman answered who promised she’d fix it. I asked her if she could also back Bernie Sanders to put an end to the industry she worked for. She said yes, indeed.

The wiser minds in the plutocracy should follow that example. Nobody’s out to hurt you, only to help you share your hoarded loot with those who worked for it. Your life will be different, but not necessarily worse. It might even be happier.

The more hopelessly greedy minds in much of the U.S. plutocracy, right about now, will start wishing they’d been prescient enough to go into weapons making and war profiteering, that sacred realm that Sanders’ spirituality dares not threaten.

 

Newsletter: Defeating The Oligarchs by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

Howard Zinn voting is easy, direct action worksPeople in the US are taught that the way to create change is through voting. But in reality, voting in the US is very limited and ineffective. In an article, “Don’t Count on Elections: Organize or Die” the authors examine the myriad of ways that elections fail to create change; how they are designed to place a middleman, your representative, between you and the change you want  and how elections tend to reinforce the status quo rather than change it. They point to South Carolina where there have been numerous attempts to rid the state of the Confederate Flag, but it was not until an activist climbed up a flag pole and took it down, that the government finally acted. Direct action, at the right moment, was more powerful than elections.

Reining in the Big Banks

The disparity between what voters want and what elected officials vote for was documented in a working paper published this week that examined plutocracy in wealthy nations. They found the United States has the largest gap between rich and poor on social spending of any nation; and that if the people ruled and their views were put into place, social spending would be 40% higher than it currently is.  With such a disparity between what elected officials do and what the people want, it is surprising the government continues to have any legitimacy.

But, that does not mean that the wealthy always win. The fear of lost legitimacy, of pulling the veil off and showing the reality of a government that fails to represent the people, is greatly feared. We actually have many tools with which to push policy in our direction and the movement is getting more effective at using them. Our strength is growing as more people mobilize and as more of us learn the realities of our failed economy and how to confront the deep corruption.

1bank1During the 2008 collapse the banks were bailed out with trillions of dollars from the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. Only now is the public beginning to fully understand how deep the corruption was. While in the US there have been  massive fines from settlements with the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, there has been almost no criminal prosecution for financial fraud. So thebanks won the first round, but out of that experience we can win future rounds. One example is Iceland which took a different approach than Europe and the United States – it prosecuted and jailed the heads of the country’s biggest banks, along with 23 of their lieutenants; and it bailed out the people rather than the banks. The bottom line lesson was: “To avoid further crises with huge tragic social costs, we have an urgent task to bring finance back under democratic control, to reconfigure society’s relation to finance capital, indeed, to Capital itself.”

A group of finance whistleblowers are attempting to bring finance under democratic control.The Bank Whistleblowers United is seeking to hold bankers personally responsible and to make urgent changes to prevent harm from a future financial crisis. They put forward a 19-point plan that could be instituted through executive action within 60 days. They are seeking pledges from candidates in support of the plan.

Three weeks ago this newsletter examined the weaknesses in the foundation of the US economy and the likelihood of collapse, then described an ‘after the crash’ program of re-making the finance system. The program is based on what people have learned about alternative finance systems that have been shown to work. This knowledge gives us greater power to overcome the plutocracy.

1tppmalaysiaThe Total Plutocracy Plan

The movement is currently in the midst of a campaign to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the first of Obama’s three massive corporate ‘trade’ agreements. The campaign is showing new energy and expansion with the TPP supporters facing protests almost everywhere. When the United States and other TPP countries sign the agreement on February 4 in New Zealand, there will be more than 30 cities protesting in the United States along with cities in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Peru and New Zealand. You can sign up here to either create a protest in your community or join an existing protest.

The TPP campaign has learned from successful campaigns to stop previous trade agreements. For example, another large trade agreement, the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA), meant to span all of North and Latin America, was defeated in 2005. The TPP campaign has learned from the FTAA and other successful efforts to stop trade agreements. The actions on February 4 will be followed by actions targeting members of Congress when they are home from February 14 to 21. And the next mass mobilization is already being planned.

We can, and we must, stop the TPP. Take the pledge and join the movement. There is something for everyone to do. Click here.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.48.49 AMPeople power is Re-shaping the Criminal Injustice System

This week there were two significant victories in criminal justice reform that were brought on by the movement. The US Department of Justice reached anagreement with Ferguson that will stop their abusive policing-for-profit practices. It will change the practices of the police and the municipal court. It will also change training of police and ensure police are held accountable for their actions.

And, President Obama announced sweeping changes to the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons. It banned solitary for juveniles and put in place 50 guidelines for the use of solitary confinement that will greatly restrict it use.

There is no question that the Ferguson result would not have occurred without the tremendous protests of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Ferguson and nationally, but the movement was also essential to the solitary confinement reforms. It was won through a broad movement of street activists, prison hunger strikes, prison reform organizations, civil liberties groups and researchers. The dramatic reduction in solitary confinement would not have occurred without a movement that was strategic and aggressive.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.22.35 AMA National Water Crisis 

The lessons from these victories should be learned, copied or modified for other campaigns. Currently the campaign in Flint for safe water, which is now becoming a national campaign (see also this report from Jackson, MS), is doing excellent workin drawing attention to the human rights violations they have suffered. They have also made a demand for democracy and are not allowing the state to remove their elected representatives. Like poisoned water, this is an issue impacting other cities too, e.g. Atlantic City.

Petuuche Gilbert outside the EPA.

Petuuche Gilbert outside the EPA.

An even bigger water crisis that has been unchecked for decades should also draw national attention. It greatly impacts the Northern Great Plains through the West, polluting major rivers and aquifers with radiation from uranium and other metals; but it also spreads toxins nationally through the air, water and food. There are 15,000 abandoned uranium mines that need to be cleaned up, as well as the uranium-laced coal that travels across the nation from Wyoming and is burned in coal-fired power plants that do not monitor for radiation. High cancer rates are being found in the Western states that are most impacted, and radioactivity is being found in coal ash after it is burned. This invisible national health catastrophe – a secret Fukushima – needs the attention of activists across the country.

A Year of Resistance

In additions to predictions of economic collapse in 2016, people are predicting a year of protests larger than 2011. We view it as a continuation of protests from the awakening of the Arab Spring, Wisconsin Uprising, Indignado Movement in Spain and the Occupy Movement in the United States. This resistance has evolved into a diverse movement for economic, racial and environmental justice and has continued to grow – despite the media saying it has disappeared.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.12.14 AMAnd, not only are protests growing, but they are learning from their experience and the experience of past protest eras.Reverend Barber this week wrote about 14 steps the Moral Monday Movement learned from their experiences. Barber knows that no single organization can build the movement. We need it to spread from community to community, state to state and even nation to nation.

To build a movement, we must build relationships. Relationship building is building our base so that we do not just speak rhetorically about justice issues, but can act together to create justice.  When new people join a movement, they infuse it with new ideas, new energy and new leadership.To attract new people we must meet them “where they are, and building forward from that place – the barbershop, the salon, the laundromat, the doorway – where we come together as people and have a conversation.”

How do we win? A new book that describes 21st Century activism and how it is transforming the world. says it in its title “When we fight. We win.”  How do we achieve transformative organizing:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.24.45 PM“When we fight, we often move ourselves out of our comfort zones to face forces and people that view the world differently and may not be ready to change. When we fight – building an organization, joining a community of activists – we win not only communal victories but also our own personal transformation, enabling us to discover common root causes to problems that had seemed unconnected before. Understanding root causes can ally us with others – across issues, cultures, identities. This aggregates individual fights into broad movement struggles, and by working in solidarity together we can realize far-reaching, systemic change.”

In fact, this is what we have seen during our work for economic, racial and environmental justice. We saw it in our early work before Occupy, but when the explosion of Occupy occurred we saw an awakening that has continued to lead to transformative change. The movement continues to win victories, large and small, and continues to mobilize for the transformative change we know is needed. In 2016, we will once again see an electoral system that does not respond and the movement’s growth will be spurred again. The year of protest is here.

Choose A Symptom, Ignore The Disease by John Rachel

Trump-Clinton-Cruz-Sanders_AltPosted on by johnrachel


This presidential election is about choosing a symptom and living in denial of the disease.

Willful ignorance, cognitive dissonance, reductive rationalization, diversion or delusion — call your suicide pact Kool Aid whatever you want — has little sway with the Grim Reaper.  Just ask Steve Jobs.  He thought he could beat the Big C.  He was dead wrong.

America made its bargain with unspeakable Evil and now is afflicted with the cancer of its own corruption and self-sabotaging choices.

To avoid the pain, it has euthanized its democracy.

To avoid thinking about extinction, it has embraced fantasy, magic, demagoguery.

To avoid the humiliation of moral bankruptcy, it has exalted profit over people.

To mask its treachery, it wraps itself in the flag, thumps on the Bible, and proclaims: “You’re either with us or against us.”  Anyone who doesn’t fall in line is carted off to a for-profit prison.

To keep the sheeple giddy as we sashay to slaughter, it now promotes puerile pandering, grandstanding and simpleminded showmanship over a principled, thoughtful, honest and constructive national conversation.

Thus . . .

Elections have become a circus.  The center ring is reserved for the ones with the shiniest teeth-whitened smiles, biggest megaphones, and most dazzling tricks.

It’s all so very entertaining, eh?  What will Donald Trump say next?  Ha ha ha!

America has hollowed itself out from the inside.  As is embarrassingly and frighteningly evident from the current presidential campaign, the political system can now only collapse into its own vacuousness — the black hole of a sham democracy.

Trump, Cruz, Clinton, Sanders?  They’re symptomatic of the times.  The inflammation.  The nausea.  The diarrhea.  The vomiting.  They’re the struggling, heaving, gasping of a deathly ill body politic, telling us something’s very wrong.  Quick!  Call an ambulance!  Vital signs are fast disappearing!

So I say . . .

Don’t yell at Hillary.  Or Trump.  It’s like yelling at a stuffy nose.  Or a rash.

They’re just symptoms.  It’s a waste if time.

We need to get to the root of the problem.

“What’s the disease?  Cancer you say?”

Cancer is not a simple pathology.  It’s complex and multi-pronged — which, of course, is why it so stubbornly resists a comprehensive and enduring cure.

The form of cancer which is destroying our nation is a like self-replicating Hydra which has metastasized throughout the entire infrastructure of our economy, ravaged the entire political system, leeched the media of any integrity and efficacy; it has polluted even the basic support systems of our churches and community organizations; it has completely poisoned the collective consciousness of our citizenry.

This brazen and aggressive malignancy feeds on:

1)  Unchecked imperial ambitions.

2)  Exceptionalist hubris and arrogance.

3)  The crushing power of corporations.

4)  The militarization of everything.

5)  Plutocratic tyranny and greed.

Trump?  Clinton?  Cruz?  Sanders?

Choose your symptom.  As if it makes a difference.

Each has his or her own special twist.  A plausible version of reality.

Adult fairy tales.  Bedtime stories.  Go to sleep now.  Dream the American Dream.

At the same time . . .

If we listen very carefully to them, as tedious and exasperating as that often is — with their carefully-crafted rhetoric, focus-group tried-and-tested talking points, slick sound bites, patriotic pandering, tongue-wagging, finger-pointing, massaging and masking of the truth, manipulation of public perception, their smooth seductions and patronizing provocations — we do indeed see what the real problem is.  It’s right there staring back at us through the rheumy, half-closed eyes of a patient on life-support, whispered, but still audible, in the phlegmy rhythm of an incipient death rattle.

Our country is very, very sick.

And yes, I include Sanders as a symptom. Here is a decent human being who is being vilified as an extremist and a socialist nutcase because he promotes such controversial ideas as:  Every person has a right to a living wage, and every citizen should get proper, affordable health care.  Isn’t that an obvious sign that the central nervous system of America is being ravaged by some malignant flesh-eating bacteria?

!!!FFTDWD_Cover_200x300Yet make no mistake about it . . .

None of these candidates will talk about the disease itself.

Because none of them has a cure.

There’s only one cure.

Us.  That’s right . . .

You and I.

 

– See more at: http://jdrachel.com/2016/02/01/choose-a-symptom-ignore-the-disease/#sthash.NtIHi2bS.dpuf

PopularResistance.Org Daily Digest—January 31, 2016

Howard Zinn--Voting is easy

Daily Movement News and Resources

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14 new articles have been posted since yesterday.

Newsletter: Defeating The Oligarchs

1bank2By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. People in the US are taught that the way to create change is through voting. But in reality, voting in the US is very limited and ineffective. In an article, “Don’t Count on Elections: Organize or Die” the authors examine the myriad of ways that elections fail to create change; how they are designed to place a middleman, your representative, between you and the change you want and how elections tend to reinforce the status quo rather than change it. They point to South Carolina where there have been numerous attempts to rid the state of the Confederate Flag, but it was not until an activist climbed up a flag pole and took it down, that the government finally acted. Direct action, at the right moment, was more powerful than elections. -more-

Growing Dissent: The Coming Year Of Protest

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 5.47.16 AMBy Derek Royden for Occupy – It was February of 1848 when what came to be called “The Spring of Nations” and “The Year of Revolution” began. The first revolt was in France, then the unrest spread to nearby countries and eventually as far afield as Latin America. The reasons for the uprisings varied, but an unaccountable aristocracy and increasing food shortages united the middle and lower classes in most of these places to demand change. When the smoke cleared, some progress had been made, but the alliance between the middle and lower classes soon broke in most areas as their interests diverged. -more-

Announcing Bank Whistleblowers’ Group’s Initial Proposals

Arrest the bankersBy William K. Black for New Economic Perspectives – I am writing to announce the formation of a new group and a policy initiative that we hope many of our readers will support and help publicize. Gary Aguirre, Bill Black, Richard Bowen, and Michael Winston are the founding members of the Bank Whistleblowers’ Group. We are all from the general field of finance and we are all whistleblowers who are unemployable in finance and financial regulation because we spoke truth to power and committed the one unforgivable sin of being repeatedly proved correct. -more-

Corporate Power Doesn’t Always Win: Remembering FTAA

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 5.37.06 AMBy Aldo Orellana López and Thomas Mc Donagh for Foreign Policy In Focus – In retrospect, it sounds like a dream come true: a mobilized population, intercontinental organizing, cooperative left-wing governments — all culminating in the downfall of a major corporate-friendly trade agreement that would have covered a large chunk of the global economy. It wasn’t just a dream. The proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA — meant to span all of North and Latin America — went down in defeat in 2005. Now, over a decade later, as we face two other upcoming trade deals… -more-

UC Irvine Black Student Union Demands End To Campus Police

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 5.30.57 AMBy Matt Coker for OC Weekly – According to an online petition, the Black Student Union at UC Irvine is demanding the abolition of the campus police department, calling contemporary police forces “modern incarnations of the antebellum plantation and slave patrols.” The demand made via Change.org to UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman and the administrations of UCI and the University of California states, “The problem is that policing as an institution is unethical; it accompanies anti-Black violence.” There were 240 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon toward a goal of only 500. -more-

Hackers Post Private Files Of America’s Biggest Police Union

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 5.26.56 AMBy Jon Swaine and George Joseph for The Guardian – Private files belonging to America’s biggest police union, including the names and addresses of officers, forum posts critical of Barack Obama, and controversial contracts made with city authorities, were posted online on Thursday after a hacker breached its website. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which says it represents about 330,000 law enforcement officers across the US, said the FBI was investigating after 2.5GB of data taken from its servers was dumped online and swiftly shared on social media. The union’s national site, fop.net, remained offline on Thursday evening. -more-

Jackson: MSDH Report Lead Detection In City Water

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 5.22.44 AMBy Anna Wolfe and Sarah Fowler for The Clarion-Ledger – Jackson residents learned Friday that the water in some homes in the area has tested positive for lead above the recommended level. Those results came from samples gathered and tested six months ago. The Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed that water tests from 22 percent of its 58-residence sample detected lead levels between 0.017 and 0.02 — above the federal action level of 0.015. The affected areas included 13 residences in southwest Jackson and north Jackson. “What that means is the city is required to take additional compliance measures,” said Jackson Director of Public Works Kishia Powell. -more-

Six Nations Oppose Lack Of Boundary Adjustment Consultation

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 5.15.23 AMBy Mike Peeling for Brant News – Six Nations members let Brantford and Brant politicians know just how upset they are with a lack of consultation over boundary adjustment negotiations during a recent public meeting. Lester Green, a member of the Men’s Fire whose traditional name is Lonukwisles of Oneida’s Bear Clan, told Brantford Mayor Chris Friel and Brant Mayor Ron Eddy in front of hundreds of residents last Thursday that they have a responsibility to keep more than the Six Nations elected council in the loop. -more-

Ousted Mizzou President Blames #BLM & Football Team

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 10.53.23 AMBy Jordan Sargent for Gawker – Ten days ago, Tim Wolfe—the ex-University of Missouri System president who famously stepped down from his position last November after a black student’s hunger strike made the state’s flagship campus in Columbia the focus of a national discussion regarding the treatment of minority college students—sent an email to confidants that he labeled “CONFIDENTIAL.” In the message, which was first reported by local papers in Missouri and stretches five pages, Wolfe presents a bullet point list of people who he believes made it impossible for him to keep his job -more-

Northrup Grumman Protest: Three Charges Dropped

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.57.35 AMBy Lauren Scott for KE TV – BELLEVUE, Neb. —New details have been released in the trial against four people accused of damaging the Northrop Grumman Building in Bellevue. The charges against all three co-defendants were dismissed in court Tuesday. However, the self-proclaimed hammer of justice, Jessica Rezniceck, remains behind bars and loyal to her cause. Before the hearing, several supporters of Reznicek stood outside of the Sarpy County Courthouse, demanding peace and justice. -more-

Bar Goes After Whistleblower, Exposed Warrantless Wiretapping

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.53.33 AMBy Kevin Gosztola for Shadow Proof – When the Justice Department ended its investigation into Thomas Tamm in 2011, the Justice Department whistleblower who revealed warrantless wiretapping said it was a relief that a “long ordeal” was now over. But it turns out the “ordeal” has entered a new chapter. He now faces ethics violations for blowing the whistle on illegal surveillance. The District of Columbia Bar, a body with the power to discipline lawyers who violate ethical standards and rules of professional conduct, initiated disciplinary proceedings for Tamm for revealing “secrets” or “confidences” of his “client” to New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau. -more-

Wall Street Won First Round, We Might Win Next

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.46.10 AMBy Walden Bello for Occupy – When the ground from under Wall Street opened up in autumn 2008, there was much talk of letting the banks get their just desserts, jailing the “banksters,” and imposing draconian regulation. The newly elected Barack Obama came to power promising banking reform, warning Wall Street, “My administration is the only thing that stands between you and the pitchforks.” Yet nearly eight years after the outbreak of the global financial crisis, it is evident that those who were responsible for bringing it about have managed to go completely scot-free. -more-

Lawsuit: SoCal Gas Knew Of Deteriorated Pipes Before Massive Leak

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.39.21 AMBy Phil McKenna for Inside Climate News – Southern California Gas Co. knew of deteriorating wells at its underground methane storage facilities and warned state regulators of the risks almost a year before a massive, uncontrolled leak was discovered at its Aliso Canyon unit on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The gas company disclosed the risk as part of a state regulatory filing and requested a rate increase to pass along the cost of more inspections and well repairs to customers. The regulators and the gas company failed to act. -more-

Fight for $15 Movement Hits Iowa

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.12.14 AMBy MacKenzie Elmer for The Des Moines Register – An international underpaid workers strike visited Iowa for the first time Thursday, the day of the final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses. Some 150 workers in fast food, child care and other low-wage industries took over westbound East University Avenue during the lunch hour. Bearing signs and yelling, “We work. We sweat. Put 15 on our checks,” marchers flushed-out the drive-thru lane of a McDonald’s. A Des Moines police car arrived at McDonald’s after the group made its third circle around the restaurant, flashing its lights and sirens. -more-

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Rigged Justice: 2016–A Report by Elizabeth Warren

Rigged Justice

How Weak Enforcement Let’s Corporate Offenders Off Easy

Prepared by the Office of  Senator Elizabeth Warren

January 2016

 

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Laws are effective only to the extent they are enforced. A law on the books has little impact if prosecution is highly unlikely. This country devotes substantial resources to the prosecution of crimes such as murder, assault, kidnapping, burglary and theft, both in an effort to deter future criminal activity and to provide victims with some degree of justice. Strong enforcement of corporate criminal laws serves similar goals: to deter future criminal activity by making would-be lawbreakers think twice before breaking the law and, sometimes, by helping victims recover from their injuries.

When government regulators and prosecutors fail to pursue big corporations or their executives who violate the law, or when the government lets them off with a slap on the wrist, corporate criminals have free rein to operate outside the law. They can game the system, cheat families, rip off taxpayers, and even take actions that result in the death of innocent victims—all with no serious consequences. The failure to punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country: If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie.

The failure to prosecute big, visible crimes has a corrosive effect on the fabric of democracy and our shared belief that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. Under the current approach to enforcement, corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct. This is so despite the fact that the law is unambiguous: if a corporation has violated the law, individuals within the corporation must also have violated the law. If the corporation is subject to charges of wrongdoing, so are those in the corporation who planned, authorized or took the actions. But even in cases of flagrant corporate law breaking, federal law enforcement agencies – and particularly the Department of Justice (DOJ) – rarely seek prosecution of individuals. In fact, federal agencies rarely pursue convictions of either large corporations or their executives in a court of law. Instead, they agree to criminal and civil settlements with corporations that rarely require any admission of wrongdoing and they let the executives go free without any individual accountability.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is particularly feeble, often failing to use the full range of its enforcement toolbox. Not only does the agency fail to demand accountability, the SEC frequently uses its prosecutorial discretion to grant waivers to big companies so that those companies can continue to enjoy special privileges despite often-repeated misconduct that legally disqualifies them from receiving such benefits. Lax enforcement at other agencies, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), stems primarily from a lack of important legal tools and persistent underfunding by Congress that often turn the legal rules into little more than suggestions that companies can freely ignore.

The contrast between the treatment of highly paid executives and everyone else couldn’t be sharper. The U.S. has a larger prison population than any nation in the world. People are locked up for long stretches for crimes that involve thousands—or even hundreds—of dollars. Even the settlement process is different. For most people accused of a crime, prosecutors may be willing to plead out the cases, but they typically require admission of guilt and, if the crime involves more than a trivial amount of money, time in jail. Various three-strikes rules frequently put people away for life for non-violent crimes involving modest amounts of money. Politicians routinely get elected promising to be “tough on crime,” and both federal and state governments devote immense resources to put and keep criminals in prison.

The Obama Administration has made repeated promises to strengthen enforcement and hold corporate criminals accountable, and the DOJ announced in September that it would place greater emphasis on charging individuals responsible for corporate crimes. Nonetheless, both before and after this DOJ announcement, accountability for corporate crimes is shockingly weak. This report prepared for Sen. Warren – the first of an annual series on enforcement – highlights twenty criminal and civil cases in 2015 in which the federal government failed to require meaningful accountability from either large corporations or their executives involved in wrongdoing.

These twenty cases are not the Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy Prepared by the Staff of Sen. Elizabeth Warren 2 only examples of prosecutorial timidity when dealing with well-financed corporate defendants. Instead, they illustrate patterns across a range of areas from financial crimes to personal injury to environmental disasters. Despite the fact that the twenty cases listed here were among the most highly publicized cases of corporate misconduct settled in 2015, in only one case was a corporation taken to trial and an individual indicted or otherwise required to answer for their contributions to corporate wrongdoing—and that case involved multiple deaths. Because prosecutors took only one of these twenty cases to trial and, in many cases, did not even require an admission of guilt as part of the settlement, it is not possible to officially tag most of these corporations and their executives for crimes. Even so, each case is based on widely reported—and widely admitted—facts that, on their face, raise a prima facie case of unlawful conduct.

These corporations paid millions—or billions—of dollars to make these cases disappear before any public hearing. If each of these cases had gone to trial, it is possible that some of the companies might have raised a defense that would have created reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds, but that is precisely the problem here: because the prosecutors never took any of these corporations or their executives to trial, there was never a need for anyone to answer in court under oath for their actions.

The criminal and civil cases identified include:

• Education Management Corporation (EDMC). In November 2015, DOJ settled a civil case with EDMC, the second-largest for-profit education company in the country. EDMC illegally paid high-pressure recruiters to enroll students and violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying that it complied with Title IV of the Higher Education Act. EDMC received $11 billion in payments (90% of it via federal student grants and loans) from 2003-2011 as a result of these efforts. But the settlement recovered only $95 million – less than one percent of this total. The DOJ settlement did nothing to resolve federal student loan debts owed by those who were victims of the illegal recruitment, held no individual executives at EDMC accountable, required no admission of wrongdoing, and did nothing to prevent EDMC from receiving federal funds in the future.

1 • Standard & Poor’s (S&P). In February 2015, S&P agreed to pay a $1.375 billion civil settlement to the DOJ, 19 states, and the District of Columbia. The settlement came in response to charges that the ratings agency engaged in a scheme to defraud investors when it issued inflated ratings that misrepresented the true credit risks of residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations – one of the chief causes of the 2008 financial crisis that cost the economy trillions of dollars. This settlement was less than one-sixth the size of the fine DOJ and the states originally sought.

2 The government did not require that S&P admit to breaking the law, and it failed to prosecute a single individual.

3 • “The Cartel”: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Barclays, UBS AG, and Royal Bank of Scotland. In May 2015, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Barclays, UBS AG, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) agreed to pay a combined $5.6 billion settlement to the DOJ. Bank traders from Citicorp, JP Morgan, Barclays, and RBS created a secret group known as “The Cartel,” which for more than five years manipulated exchange rates in a way that made the banks billions of dollars at the expense of clients and investors. And, the fifth bank, UBS separately agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud charges in connection with interest rate manipulation. Although DOJ required admissions of guilt as part of the settlement – a reflection of the severity of the charges – not one single individual has yet faced any DOJ criminal prosecution. Moreover, the SEC granted waivers to each bank so that the banks could avoid the collateral consequences that were supposed to accompany a guilty plea. Those waivers meant that the banks’ much-hyped guilty pleas were ultimately “likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems.”

4 • The Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. Donald L. Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy Company, was convicted in December 2015 of only one misdemeanor (conspiring to willfully violate mandatory mine safety and health standards) in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion that resulted in 29 deaths – despite the fact that his company had a years-long Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy Prepared by the Staff of Sen. Elizabeth Warren 3 history of safety failures, including 2,400 safety violations in 2009 alone.

5 The penalty in this case was so small because federal mine safety laws allow only a misdemeanor charge – not a felony – even for deadly violations of safety regulations.

6 • General Motors (GM). GM’s years-long coverup of ignition switch problems in its vehicles resulted in at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries. But the DOJ deferred prosecution agreement in this case included a fine for GM ($900 million) that amounted to less than one percent of the company’s annual revenue, held no individual accountable for the cover-up, and suspended the criminal charges against GM – wire fraud and false statements – to be dismissed if the company complied with the agreement.

7 • Trade Law Enforcement. In 2015 the United States Trade Representative (USTR) failed to enforce key environmental and labor requirements in trade agreements with Guatemala, Colombia, and Peru, despite substantial evidence of violations. The lack of enforcement sends a dangerous signal to our trade partners that they need not honor their promises on improving labor and environmental standards.

• Novartis. In November 2015, DOJ announced a $390 million settlement of a civil lawsuit with Novartis Pharmaceuticals over allegations that the company engaged in a kickback scheme with pharmacists to increase sales of their drugs to Medicare and Medicaid patients. These kickbacks allegedly were paid even as Novartis was already under a corporate integrity agreement for previous violations of the law. The $390 million represented just over 10% of the damages sought by the government. It placed no further restrictions on Novartis’ participation in federal government healthcare programs, included no admission of wrongdoing, did not include an indictment of any individual responsible for the kickbacks, and was so paltry that after the settlement, Novartis’s CEO claimed that “whether we change our behavior …[in response to the settlement] remains to be seen.”

8 This report contains additional examples of feeble enforcement against corporate criminals in 2015. The examples raise the disturbing possibility that some giant corporations—and their executives—have decided that following the law is merely optional. For these companies, punishment for breaking the law is little more than a cost of doing business.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Complete ten page report is HERE

Rigged_Justice_2016

 

CONTENTS

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ………………………………………..1

II. INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………….4

III. RIGGED JUSTICE: 2015 CASES ………………………….5

A. Financial Crimes and Offenses………………………………………….5

B. Education and Student Loans …………………………………………..6

C. Automobile Safety Law Violations……………………………………6

D. Occupational Safety Laws…………………………………………………7

E. Environmental Laws………………………………………………………….7

F. Failure to Enforce Trade Laws…………………………………………..8

G. Drug Manufacturer Fraud and Misrepresentation …………….8

IV. ENDNOTES……………………………………………………………..9

________________________________________________________________________________________

See also from the New York Times:

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Elizabeth Warren: One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions

 

 

We have choices to make…by the Peace Resource

The Peace Resource

Writing, Organizing, & Creative Arts

We have choices to make…

DSC_0635-copy.14236.widea.0“The minute we stand up, we are unstoppable. It’s time to forget the lesser evil and fight for the greater good. The clock is ticking. It’s in our hands.”
~Dr. Jill Stein

https://thepeaceresource.wordpress.com/…/dr-jill-stein…/

Any president can basically do whatever they are elected to do. Obama was elected to secure the peace. But instead, he took us from 4 wars to 27 wars and bombed seven countries who did not attack us instead of four. And because he pretends to be a progressive, he has governed like a right wing war-monger with barely a peep from the corporate media. Obama lied and we are paying the consequences of his rank treason. He sold us out.

iraqigirl-SNOW“… It has become challenging to keep up with all the ways in which the president has not only embraced, but expanded and institutionalized, George W. Bush’s most radical policies.”

https://thewordsmithcollection.wordpress.com/…/obama…/

Sanders is running on a pro-war platform. This is the opposite of what we need… and he will not be on the ticket. Hillary has the bucks and controls the machine.
We will see Hillary the Hawk against one of 16 Republicans whom she closely resembles.

“What Hillary Clinton did to Libya is a crime on a scale rivalled only by the crimes of the Bush administration in Iraq – and there is a definite parallel in the methodology of the criminals.”

https://thewordsmithcollection.wordpress.com/…/about…/

www.elle.comBut Dr. Jill Stein is smarter than these tools. She is running on an Independent ticket. Unlike in 2012 when she was arrested and put in a cell during the debates… there are two lawsuits in progress and it looks like she will win one of them. This means she will debate the pro-war cons from both parties on national and international television. With the whole world watching, she will expose the corporate agenda of war for profit.

“Instead of allowing this fraud to continue, we can put the League of Women Voters back in charge and let the American people hear real people talk about real issues instead of letting corporate cons run the show and exclude the people who actually represent the voters.”

https://thewordsmithcollection.wordpress.com/…/how-is…/

no3Americans are sick of war. Dr. Stein will be on 85-88% of the ballots. If the people she represents vote for their own best interests, she may win in a landslide. A new interconnected reality makes that possible. 75% of the voting public is favouring a third party. This is our time.

“We know Bernie said he will support Hillary if she wins the nomination. And Hillary has promised to attack Iran. To take the White House, all Jill Stein has to do is tell the truth.”

https://thepeaceresource.wordpress.com/…/bernie…/

“The minute we stand up, we are unstoppable. It’s time to forget the lesser evil and fight for the greater good.”…

MayDay2