Newsletter: Defeating The Oligarchs

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By 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.

Mother Nature Strikes Back Against The Carbon Economy

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By JP Sottile for Truthout. Big Oil is a bad investment fueled by irrational exuberance, chronic cronyism and an increasingly indefensible misallocation of capital. And decades of throwing good money after bad has produced a distorted economic system that socializes risk, privatizes profits, externalizes costs and misallocates capital. This continues because policy makers sustain it with taxpayer-funded subsidies, costly tax breaks and low-overhead access to publicly held resources. By failing to institute much-needed cost internalization mechanisms and by completely avoiding the key problem of government subsidization, the cork-popping cadre of COP21 tacitly admitted what most cynics already knew – policy makers still believe “Big Oil” is far too big to fail. But, like other distorted markets in history, the correction is coming. The growing impact of climate change is exposing the key fallacy at the heart of the hydrocarbon economy: Big Oil cannot simply exempt itself from the natural economy governing all things in this closed system called planet Earth.

Newsletter: Why Protests Will Continue To Grow

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. This week the reason that there are a growing protest movement and growing disenchantment with government was put on display. The divergence between government and reality was thrust in our faces. The entire government came together, Members of Congress, the Cabinet, military leaders, the Supreme Court, Vice President and President (minus the ‘selected survivor’ in case the Capitol was attacked, the head of Homeland Security) to hear the State of the Union. The choreographed self-praise of people who will spend $5 billion this year of mostly big business money to get re-elected was evident from the moment the door was opened. Hugs and kisses, backslapping all around, required applause as the President approached the podium, more staged applause when he was introduced and then, as if they were trained, dozens of standing ovations on cue – 89 times in a 58-minute speech the President was applauded.

Iceland Sentences 26 Corrupt Bankers To 74 Years In Prison

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By Grouch E Geezr for AmericanNewsX.com. Iceland just sentenced their 26th banker to prison for his part in the 2008 economic collapse. The charges ranged from breach of fiduciary duties to market manipulation to embezzlement. When most people think of Iceland, they envision fire and ice. Major volcanoes and vast ice fields are abundant due to its position on the northern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (A hot July day in Reykjavik is around 55 degrees.) However, Iceland is also noted for being one of the Nordic Socialist countries, complete with universal health care, free education and a lot other Tea Potty nightmares.

To Put Bankers Behind Bars, Spanish Citizens Take 1% To Court

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By Steve Rushton for Occupy – Elites regularly profit with impunity from financial corruption. This is clearly demonstrated by the numerous billion-dollar financial scandals in recent years, including LIBOR rate fixing, tax evasion, commodity price fixing and financial mis-selling schemes. The political power of finance and its revolving door into government makes many bankers seem above the law. But this immunity is not unbreakable, as demonstrated by the wave of Spanish citizens now leading an anti-corruption charge unlike any that has come before.

Obama’s Siren Song, Jill Stein And Medea Benjamin

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By Staff of Acronym TV – This week on Acronym TV: The YES MEN strike again!, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink on Obama’s foreign policy legacy, Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein on the #AfterBern and the Obama #SOTU and Dennis breaks down Obama’s Siren song

China’s Stock Market Turmoil: A Sign Of What’s To Come?

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By Jerome Roos for Tele Sur – It has been a dismal start to the year for world markets. After trading on the Chinese stock market was suspended twice last week when a collapse in share prices tripped an ill-conceived automatic “circuit breaker”, the resultant investor panic knocked more than $2.3 trillion off stocks worldwide — marking the worst start to a financial year on record. But while China’s stock market turmoil has grabbed all the attention and dominated headlines across the globe, the real threat to the world economy lies not in the country’s speculative stock exchange but in its “real” economy…

SOTU Was Not The Speech Black Lives Matter Wanted To Hear

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By Kira Lerner for Think Progress – Last year, Black Lives Matter activists made it a practice to interrupt politician’s speeches to chant the name of their movement and to demand that elected officials recognize the high rate that black men and women are killed at the hands of police. Tonight, one of the movement’s founders will be in the audience at President Obama’s final State of the Union. Though she won’t be interrupting the president, Alicia Garza, who was invited as a guest of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), told ThinkProgress that she wants Obama to address various issues that affect black Americans including criminal justice reform, voting rights, and immigration.

TPP & SOTU: The Facts vs. Obama

TPP Protest photo Monsanto wants it . . . any questions

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Flush The TPP. President Obama will make his push for the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a major part of the State of the Union as this is a major goal of his final year in office. This is an opportunity for a widespread discussion of the TPP and what impacts it will have on the economy, workers, the environment and more. Just yesterday the World Bank published a comprehensive analysis of the TPP and concluded that by 2030 the TPP will have a miniscule 0.4% impact on US trade. The economic impact for the United States is minimal but the impact on workers, the environment, food safety, traditional energy and the overall balance between corporate power and government is dramatic. The president’s claims about the TPP should be examined closely and measured against the facts of what the TPP will actually do and the impact similar trade agreements have had. We know from past comments by the president and the US Trade Representative that their sales pitch for the TPP is not always consistent with the facts.

Newsletter: After The Crash...

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The economic agenda described here would create a radical transformation of the economy from a top-down system designed for the wealthiest, to a botton-up system that creates a foundation for an economy that benefits all. Putting in place this economy would move us from a plutocratic economy to a democratized economy where people have economic control over their lives. It is a radical shift – how can it happen? There is only one path – the people must be educated, organized and mobilized to demand it. We need to change the political culture to one where the necessities of the people and protection of the planet are the priorities of the economy. If predictions are correct, the next economic collapse will deeper and more damaging than the 2008 collapse. It will be a tremendous opportunity to demand radical economic change. It is one the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice should be preparing for now.

TTIP: Low Economic Benefits, Real Climate Risks

Photo teken on Feb. 4, 2015 shows a Trojans inflatable model in front of EU headquarters in Brussles, Belgium, during an anti Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) rally. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)

By Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism – Climate change governance should inform global governance more broadly, including international trade and investment policy. One of the most important trade and investment agreements is the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—currently under negotiation between the European Union and United States—given the role the agreement will likely play in establishing rules for the global economy in the 21st century.

Congress Asked To Block Obama’s Pacific Rim Trade Pact

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By David Nakamura for The Washington Post. A coalition of more than 1,500 interest groups is sending a letter to Congress on Thursday demanding that lawmakers block the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade pact championed by the Obama administration. “The questions policymakers should be asking about these rules is whether, on the whole, they would create American jobs, raise our wages, enhance environmental sustainability, improve public health and advance human rights and democracy,” the coalition writes in the four-page letter. “After careful consideration, we believe you will agree, the answer to these questions is no.” Labor unions, environmental groups, consumer advocates and faith groups are among the 1,525 organizations that signed onto the document, which was organized by the Citizens Trade Campaign. Hundreds of local labor union affiliates have signed on.

Jury Awards $5 Million For Home Foreclosure, Gov’t Let Banks Off Easy

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By David Dayen for The Intercept – A Texas jury’s recent decision to award over $5 million in damages and fees for the fraudulent foreclosure of a single home suggests that the big banks could have been on the hook for as much as $32 trillion — before the Justice Department and state attorneys general settled for $25 billion, or less than one-tenth of a penny on the dollar. In the trial in Harris County district court, the jury awarded Houston foreclosure victim. Mary Ellen and David Wolf $5.38 million on November 6, on the grounds that Wells Fargo Bank and Carrington Mortgage Services knowingly submitted false documents to kick them out of their home.

A Message Of Hope For The New Year

From the Peoples Climate March in New York City, September 2014

By Jack Balkwill for Dissident Voice. There have been many victories and we need to celebrate them. Among the victories was stopping the northern portion of the KXL pipeline, various new laws in 24 states to prevent police violence and an increase inprosecutions of police who commit violence, and the increase in wages across the country and winning the critically important battle for net neutrality. These were people-powered victories that showed when we act together we have the power to defeat corporate interests. Another ongoing series of victories is seeing local people, who have not been involved in activism, working along with experienced, often young, energy activists, taking on big energy companies in an aggressive way. This is a victory.

Wall Street Taking Over Nonprofit Sector

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By Dan Wright for Shadow Proof – While there has traditionally been a close relationship between Wall Street donors and nonprofit organizations like charities and universities, a new study from the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) reveals a growing Wall Street takeover of nonprofit boards of directors. Using data from what are referred to in the study as major private research universities, elite small liberal arts colleges, and prominent New York City cultural and health institutions, SSIR calculates that “[T]he percentage of people from finance on the boards virtually doubled at all three types of nonprofits between 1989 and 2014.”