Thursday, October 16, 2014

Capitalism Is Only Working for Top 1% Because the Cost of Failure Is Socialized ($21 Trillion Lodged in Tax Havens in 2010) Occupy Democracy On the Move:  Activism Seizes London  (Elizabeth Warren Re: Obama - They Protected Wall Street Not Families)

As a former Occupy marshal in North Carolina, I applaud this effort and await its spread worldwide.

What are you doing to help save our planet?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And what about those cut-and-run U.S.-built foreign armies?

Still cutting and running for cover (weapons and money in hand).
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

New Occupation of London’s Parliament Square as People Demand Real Democracy


The focus of Occupy Democracy is simple: "If we want to change the current system and move away from these multiple crises toward solutions, it must involve people taking to the streets." It's time to have a real discussion about democracy.

October 15, 2014

Steve Rushton |

“We need a massive campaign for real democracy because a tiny few have more and more power and money,” George Barda, a supporter of Occupy London tells me. “Wealth is not trickling down but gushing up at increasing speed with no end in sight.”

Occupy London plans to take Parliament Square for 10 days, from October 17 through October 26, in a camp called Occupy Democracy. The occupation seeks to connect the dots between multiple crises and show how the U.K.’s current economic and political direction represents a failure of the democratic process and the increasing dominance of the 1%.
The occupation is demanding the reverse of current government policies by which the U.K.’s corporate-led parties have backed measures that include the privatization of the National Health Service, imposition of the bedroom tax, a rise in fracking, growing university tuition fees, benefit cuts for people with disabilities and support for the secretive TTIP trade treaty.
Most crucially, the Occupy Democracy camp provides a platform to discuss the many alternatives to the current system. Barda explains that in the current system, only a few are gaining at the expense of everyone else.
“The middle is increasingly dependent on unstable house prices and pensions, in corrupt and bubble-prone markets likely to implode without warning.
And the most vulnerable in society – the elderly, the disabled and children living in poverty – more than any other country in Western Europe are still the ones paying the most for the bankers’ crisis,” says Barda.
“This is a recipe for a brutal, broken, divided country that tragically wastes the incredible potential of millions of its citizens. This is not the country we would have if it were really up to us.”
Momentum Building in the Anti-Fracking Movement
The movement to protect Britain against fracking, discussed in the video above, points out that the U.K. government has no political mandate to push hydraulic fracturing. Before the last elections, Conservatives claimed they would form the “greenest government ever.”.
Instead, independent studies conclude that fracking greatly endangers human health, the climate and the environment – through chemical contamination of underground water sources, methane emissions and other impacts.
The government meanwhile justifies its dash for gas based on studies sponsored by the fracking industry, which paint the opposite picture.
Activist Tina Rothery says that when local residents discover fracking occurring in their region, often their first response is to try democratic means to stop it – only to find that their voices do not get heard.
So Rothery and other concerned mothers and grandmothers recently took their protest to a new level and occupied a proposed fracking site, launching nationwide direct actions against government fracking plans.
Rothery says the U.K. government has made it this far against public opposition to fracking because 1. Government and industry are intertwined, and 2. The mainstream media is owned by a small number of elites that benefit directly from the economic potential of fracking.
Lord Browne exemplifies the incestuous government-business relationship:  he chairs the country’s leading fracking company, Cuadrilla, while holding a non-elected government role charged with oversight of fracking regulators. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire includes the Sun newspaper, a leading cheerleader for the fracking industry, as Murdoch himself holds vast fracking investments.
Nonetheless, public opposition to fracking is increasing rapidly as more people become aware of its dangers.

A recent poll showed 71% of young people in the U.K. are against the unconventional drilling process. At the same time, more and more people are voicing support for viable green alternatives, heralding the shift toward a more democratic, ethical and egalitarian future.

Activism Seizes London

In response to the corporate-slanted media landscape, activists from the Radical Housing Network will join Occupy in Parliament Square to hand out the “Standard Evening” – a satirical reworking of the London newspaper Evening Standard, which is renowned for pushing a corporate, neoliberal agenda.
On Friday, 40,000 Standard Evenings will be printed to deliver news-that-could-be in London, prioritizing people over profits and offering real solutions to the city’s housing crisis. The newspaper giveaway is part of a week-long event by groups opposing MIPIM U.K., a property fair that focuses on selling off public land to private investors.

Occupy Democracy is also receiving support from the Green Party, the trade union PCS, the NGOs War on Want and World Development Movement, and the Tax Justice Network. Each day of the 10-day occupation will be themed around a different issue of crisis and alternatives – coinciding with the Occupation of the City of London’s third anniversary.

Those lined up to lead skill-shares and discussions include renowned economist Ha Joon Chang, the radical thinker John Hillary, and mothers from the housing activist group Focus E15.

We need to recognize the extent that our democracy has been captured by the City of London and take appropriate action to reverse that,” says John Christensen, director of the Tax Justice Network, speaking in this short film in the run-up to Occupy Democracy.
Christensen’s alternative vision to tackle tax injustice includes transparency in political funding, shutting the “revolving door” between politicians and business, heavily regulating corporate lobbying, and stopping City of London senior executives from landing un-elected roles in government.
The Tax Justice Network – a coalition of experts focusing on tax havens, corporate tax evasion and its costs to democracy – has revealed that $21 trillion was lodged in tax havens in 2010.
“Political parties get a large proportion of their funding from offshore sources and it goes without saying that these parties are heavily influenced by offshore companies and wealthy people,” adds Christensen.
“So the offshore system has deeply corrupted the nature of democracy in Britain, Europe and elsewhere.”
Rejecting the TTIP
U.K. opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is another example of how quickly popular movements against corporate influence are growing, as reflected in Occupy Democracy.
“TTIP and the other trade treaties are about rewriting the rules of the global economy to further benefit big business, which will be detrimental to ordinary people being able to exercise their voice,” says Nick Dearden, the director of World Development Movement who also (is) featured in this video showing support for the occupation of Parliament Square.
Dearden adds about TTIP:  “If it does become law it will give big business the power to sue our government for making legislation in the public interest – in the interest of the environment, for example food standards. TTIP will give big business a parallel process, so it does not even go for our courts system.”
A central tenet of Occupy Democracy is this:  If we want to change the current system and move away from these multiple crises toward solutions, it must involve people taking to the streets.
As Dearden says:  “Parliament and the surrounding area are called the ‘home of democracy’ [and are] supposed to be the mother of Parliaments. What we are doing is taking back this bit of common land for a short amount of time to create a real debate – a real discussion that people want to be having.”

South Carolina Prosecutors Say Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Apply to Victims of Domestic Violence
The 64 Countries that Require GMO Labeling:  US Buckles Under Biotech Pressure

Russ Baker quizzes Elizabeth Warren about her opinion concerning Wall Street having been saved (by the taxpayers) versus the suffering visited on the rest of the 99% since the bankster bailout and whether lobbyists could be employed effectively on the side of the 99%.

They need to get a lobbyist. Why haven’t they got on that yet?

Yeah. Why aren’t they out there spending? In the context when people talk about “get a lobbyist,” the big financial institutions spent more than a million dollars a day for more than a year during the financial reform debates. And my understanding is, their spending has ratcheted up again. My insight about that, about exactly that point, [is] in the book [A Fighting Chance], in the second chapter, which is when my eyes first get opened to the political system. Here I am, I’m studying what’s happening to the American family, and just year by year by year, I’m watching America’s middle class get hammered. They just keep sliding further down. The data get worse every year that I keep pulling this data. Bankruptcy is the last hope to right their lives for those who have been hit by serious medical problems, job losses, a divorce, a death in the family — that accounts for about 90 percent of the people who file for bankruptcy. Those four causes, or those three if you combine divorce and death. So, how could America, how could Congress adopt a bankruptcy bill that lets credit card companies squeeze those families harder?

What year was that?

When they finally adopted it was 2005. But the point was, it started back in — actually it started in 1995, the effort [to change the bankruptcy laws]. And that’s when I got involved with the Bankruptcy Commission. When, first, [commission chairman] Mike Synar came to me, and then Mike Synar died. It was just awful. And Brady Williamson [the replacement chairman] came to me. But what I saw during that process is, this was not an independent panel that could kind of sit and think through the [problem]: “Let’s take a look at what the numbers show about what’s happening to the families. Let’s take some testimony, get some people in here who have been through bankruptcy, and some creditors who have lost money in bankruptcy, and let’s figure out some places where we could make some sensible recommendations to Congress.” That wasn’t what it turned out to be at all.

It turned out that it was all about paid lobbyists . . .

And what they wanted.

And what they wanted. I tried as hard as I could, and there were almost no bankrupt families who were ever even heard from. And you stop and think about it — why would that be so? Well, first of all, to show up to something like that, you’ve got to know about it and you’ve got to take a day off from work. Who’s going to do that? These are families who are under enormous stress and deeply humiliated about what had happened to them. They had to make a public declaration that they were losers in the great American economic game.

I know exactly the kind of people you’re talking about. I wanted to ask you, not specifically about people declaring bankruptcy, but about the broader working people of this country. You’re from Oklahoma. I’m from Kansas. You’ve seen what’s happened in those places. There are lots and lots of working people in those places and a lot of other places…

Hardworking people. People who work hard. That’s what you want to remember. Not just people who kind of occasionally show up.

Yeah. The blue collar backbone of this country. And in places like I’m describing, it gets worse every year — well, I shouldn’t say worse, because it’s their choice, but a lot of them choose Republicans. I was looking at Oklahoma, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, I’m pretty sure you are, 16 percent of the vote went for Eugene Debs in 1912 and today it’s going in the other direction as fast as it can. How is this ever going to change?

I have at least two thoughts around that and we should explore both of them. One of them is that we need to do a better job of talking about issues. And I know that sounds boring and dull as dishwater, but it’s true. The differences between voting for two candidates should be really clear to every voter and it should be clear in terms of, who votes to raise the minimum wage and who doesn’t. Who votes to lower the interest rate on student loans and who doesn’t. Who votes to make sure women can’t get fired for asking how much a guy is making for doing the same job, and who doesn’t. There are these core differences that are about equality and opportunity. It can’t be that we don’t make a clear distinction. If we fail to make that distinction, then shame on us. That is my bottom line on this.

You know, during the Senate race that I was in — I mean, I was a first-time candidate, I’d never done this before — the thing that scared me the most was that the race wouldn’t be about the core differences between my opponent and me. I wanted people to understand where I stood on investments in the future, investments in education and research that help us build a future. Where I stood on the minimum wage and equal pay. And where he stood on the other side. The point was not to blur the differences and to run to some mythical middle where we agreed with each other. The point was to say that, here are really big differences between the two of us. Voters have a chance to make a choice.

In some ways that’s exactly the problem. When I talk to people, they often say Democrats aren’t the party of working people at all. And they talk about NAFTA and deregulating Wall Street, and they say, look at these guys, they won’t prosecute the financial industry. They say, Democrats talk a good game, but they’re always on the side of the elite at the end of the day. What do you say to these people?

In Wisconsin, Dark Money Got a Mining Company What It Wanted

Theodoric Meyer, News Investigation

. . . released court filings revealed how one company secretly gave money to a nonprofit that helped get favorable mining legislation passed. And yet again, dark money prevails.

Read the full story...

US Farmers Launch Billion Dollar Class Action Suit Against Syngenta Over Chinese GMO Corn Scandal

Another biotech-giant fail:  Syngenta may have destroyed the corn export business that U.S. farmers count on by releasing a genetically altered variety before its was approved. Will the U.S. still be the world leader in corn production?

Syngenta may have single-handedly destroyed the corn export business that US farmers count on, while depressing local domestic corn prices. Now, the biotech giant will have to face a $1 billion claim in Federal Court being launched by farmers in three different states.
China has recently rejected huge shipments of US-grown GMO corn largely because Syngenta released a genetically altered variety before its was approved for consumption or sale in Chinese markets.
Volnek Farms of Omaha claims that Syngenta, the Hopkins Minnesota-based biotech company that is responsible for covering up the true toxicity of Atrazine, has “completely destroyed US exports of corn to China.”

Cronin Inc. and Jim Ruba Jr. from Sioux City, Iowa claim that they do not even use GM corn, but they have been hurt by Syngenta’s actions because their GMO variety, Viptera, cross-bred with their non-GMO corn crops. They also claim that Syngenta’s statements were misleading relating to the approval status of MIR162 corn in China, and this has hurt farmers who did plant that variety. The long-term ramifications of this strain of GMO corn will continue to depress the corn markets both here and in foreign markets for years.

Are you in the streets yet?


TONY said...

From over here it looks as if US street demos are rare, poorly supported and half-hearted. Meanwhile the MIC manipulate electoral registers and the media to devastating effect. I think I know who's winning. President Clinton won't redress the balance either.

Cirze said...

And never did.

Oh, you mean the second one!

Thanks for your cogent and comprehensive comments, T.

After a million gathered (results free) against the Iraq War back in 2003, and the second election (2004) was stolen (again, results free for the put-upon citizenry), we seem to have given up on democracy.

How do you guys (UK, I mean) like seeing US adopt the auto/plutocratic monarchical model?

King George III is rolling over in his grave and Jefferson, Adams and Washington are wondering what they fought so hard for?

Love you!


TONY said...

Hahaha. King George would have loved it in an 'I told you not to leave' kind of way. It's nearly as bad here of course. Manipulation of the electoral registers would be out of the question tbh.

Cirze said...

Funny thing about that, T.

I've read that all electronic elections have been rigged everywhere since DS&S, etc., got the international contracts.

After all, how is all of Europe run by the same mafia?

Not to mention most of Asia?