Americans Across the Country are Joining the Culture of Resistance – You Are Needed!
Are you tired of big banks making record profits, paying giant executive salaries and bonuses and then cooking the books so they avoid paying taxes? We are. And, we are responding. Join us.
On April 15 in Union Square Park in New York City at 11:00 AM we are holding a “Sounds of Resistance Concert” and protest against the big corporate banks that have undermined the U.S. economy and displaced families from their homes. Big Finance has taken more than a trillion from the Department of Treasury and Federal Reserve to pay for their casino gambling on Wall Street but they are still forcing people out of their homes, not lending to small businesses and choking the economy.
The concert will feature political hip-hop/rock powerhouse Junkyard Empire with special guests Broadcast Live and Sketch the Cataclysm. Chris Hedges will speak about the growing culture of resistance. Other performers and speakers are invited.
The protest will include a picket of the Union Square Bank of America – a major culprit in the great rip off of the American taxpayer.
This concert and protest are part of the effort to build the urgently needed movement to shift power to the people and away from concentrated capital interests.
Stop Foreclosures: The last two years saw record foreclosures with one out of seven houses in the U.S. behind in their mortgage payments. A total of 3.8 million foreclosure filings and actual bank repossessions topped 2.8 million in 2010, a 2% increase over 2009 and a 23% increase over 2008. This record is likely to be broken in 2011. The housing market is so bad that now there are reports of banks walking away from houses in foreclosure, leaving problems in communities.
Pay Fair Share of Taxes: Big banks are not paying taxes, while reaping tax payer bailouts. Bank of America did not pay any federal income taxes in 2010. The largest bank in America didn't pay federal income taxes in 2009 either. If Bank of America paid their fair share of taxes, planned cuts of $1.7 billion in early childhood education (Head Start & Title 1) would not be needed. Bank of America avoids paying taxes by using subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. To eliminate their taxes, they reinvest proceeds overseas, instead of bringing the dollars home, thereby undermining the U.S. economy and avoiding federal taxes. Big Finance, like Bank of America, contributes to record deficits that are resulting in massive cuts to basic services in federal and state governments.
Break Up the Big Corporate Banks: If banks are “too big to fail” then they are too big. They dominate the economy and the political system. Ten huge banks now control 60% of the economy. They ensure concentration of capital and concentration of political power. Because of the federal government’s protection of the big banks, small and moderate sized banks cannot compete. Failure to break up big corporate banks ensures their dominance of the economy and the government. As Senator Dick Durbin said about the banks controlling the senate, in a moment of honest frustration, “they own the place.” It is time for the people to take back ownership of government and politics.
It is urgent that Americans organize, and stand up to the concentrated political/economic power and greed of the financial elite. Join us on April 15 to be part of a people-powered movement that reigns in the power of concentrated corporatism and builds the power of all Americans. Get involved now as we take the steps needed to build a movement that cannot be stopped.
Join us in New York City on April 15, 2011 at 11:00 in Union Square Park.
Kevin Zeese is executive director of Prosperity Agenda.
We need to raise $5,000 for this event to pay for the sound sytem, stage and signs. Please make a contribution now. You can contribute by clicking here.
The FCC just caved to AT&T pressure and passed a fake Net Neutrality rule. Join more than 2 million people in our pledge to keep fighting until we get real Net Neutrality »
Lets face it, Net neutrality is all about freedom of speech and freedom of information. The internet is kicking the lying corporate media's ass and a hand full of corporate bums can't stand it and want to destroy what we have, don't let them. There is real power in numbers and we must band together and stop them or say goodbye to the only real freedom left on corporate plantation earth. Tell the FCC: We Want Real Net Neutrality
We know the difference, and the FCC Chairman's proposal is fake Net Neutrality. Tell the FCC: We Want Real Net Neutrality
from Kevin Zeese
Trend of Activist Searches Began Under Bush, Continues Under Obama
Series of Inspector General Reports Shows FBI Violating Constitutional Rights of American Peace Activists While Raids Occur in Illinois and Minneapolis
Earlier this week the FBI raided six homes of eight peace activists in Minneapolis and Chicago as well as a Minneapolis office of an antiwar group. Agents kicked down doors of homes with guns drawn, smashed furniture, and seized computers, documents, phones, and other materials without making any arrests. These groups do not use guns and bombs. They are not terrorists. Their "weapons" are leaflets, newsletters, and nonviolent demonstrations.
The FBI searches highlight a dangerous trend that has been building for nearly a decade: domestic surveillance of peace and other activists. Americans need to understand the context of these raids so they can work to stop the infringement of constitutional rights.
The raids took place just a few days after a report of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice examined 8,000 pages of documents from 2001 to 2006 and interviewed dozens of FBI agents. The report blasted the FBI for spying on anti-war activists, animal-rights groups, and environmentalists, calling them improper "terror" investigations "unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy." Among those targeted were the anti-war Thomas Merton Center, the Quakers, the Catholic Worker, Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and an individual Quaker peace activist. According to the Inspector General, there was "little or no basis" for the investigations.
Another report found that the FBI used lies and trickery to illegally obtain thousands of records, then issued after-the-fact approvals in an attempt to cover it up. Released in January of this year, the report was the result of another Justice Department investigation which built on a 2007 report covering similar matters. The Inspector General focused on the FBI’s unlawful misuse of the already-unconstitutional informal requests known as "exigent letters" to demand information which they knew was illegal. The DOJ report described a "complete breakdown" of procedures within the FBI. According to the report, the "FBI broke law for years in phone record searches." Agents repeatedly and knowingly violated the law by invoking nonexistent "terror emergencies" to get access to information they were not authorized to have.
This week another Inspector General report found that hundreds of FBI employees cheated on exams related to domestic surveillance. The report described how they consulted with others while taking the exam even though that was forbidden. Others used or distributed answer sheets or study guides that provided test answers. Still others exploited a computer flaw that revealed answers. The agents were being tested on 2008 guidelines that FBI employees must follow when conducting domestic investigations.
Nor do these reports cover all the incidences of domestic surveillance of civic activists. Former FBI special agent and whistleblower, Colleen Rowley, reports that "in 2008, we found out through a Freedom of Information request that there are 300 pages of . . . agents trailing a group of students in Iowa City to parks, libraries, bars, restaurants." The documents requested by David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee under the Freedom of Information Act, show, the investigation into activities of peace groups in Iowa City involved staking out homes, secretly photographing and video taping members, digging through garbage and even planting a mole to spy on the peace activists up close. Known as the Wild Rose Rebellion, the protesters were described by the FBI as an “anarchist collective.” In an interview with The Des Moines Register, the FBI defended its actions because of allegations that certain people were possibly going to engage in criminal activities to disrupt the national conventions of one or both major political parties. The group’s plans were to help organize nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, such as street blockades, at the 2008 RNC convention.
Pennsylvania awarded a $125,000 no-bid contract to an Israeli-American consulting firm called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, which spied on peace groups, citizen activists, civic groups and critics of the Rendell administration. The project was supposed to protect Pennsylvania citizens by gathering intelligence on potential terrorist threats, but the private contractor, hired by the state's Department of Homeland Security, fed information to state officials about the activities of religious groups, education advocates, BP protesters, anti-tax protesters, and just about anybody who criticized state government.
In Maryland, Homeland Security and Intelligence Division of the Maryland State Police conducted undercover operations to spy on people who support progressive viewpoints. Undercover Maryland State Police officers repeatedly spied on peace activists and anti-death penalty groups in recent years. The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged in 2008. In 2009, the state police acknowledged far more extensive surveillance with records showing that troopers monitored -- and labeled as terrorists – a wide range of activists. Investigators monitored activists protesting weapons manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. They watched two pacifist Catholic nuns from Baltimore, CODE PINK and the DC Anti-War Network, which was inaccurately, designated a white supremacist group. The surveillance program became public because of documents released during a trespassing trial for peace activist Max Obuszewski, the nuns and another activist arrested during an antiwar rally at the National Security Agency. The documents showed that Baltimore intelligence officers were tracking them.
In fact this type of surveillance by the FBI, NorthCom and state and local police have been reported in many parts of the country, among them are Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Washington.
This current escalation of domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens began under President Bush and has continued under President Obama. Throughout U.S. history there has been a constant battle between the constitutional rights of citizens and domestic surveillance of political activists, especially peace advocates. The FBI has a long history of abusing its authority. If we do not act to curtail these actions we are all in danger of being spied on and added to terrorist watch lists for doing nothing more than attending a rally, signing a petition or holding a sign.
Steps are urgently needed to protect the basic constitutional rights of peace activists and others. These include:
- President Obama needs to speak out against the surveillance of Americans who are merely exercising their constitutional rights. As a former law professor he knows the long history of such abuse and how important it is to contain enforcement.
- Removal of FBI director Robert Mueller. His tenure since 2001 has been littered with abuses of domestic spying. The Inspector General has concluded Director Mueller provided "inaccurate and misleading information" to Congress. Mueller also failed to put in place adequate procedures to ensure the law is obeyed and to ensure agents are aware of the laws regarding domestic surveillance.
- Congress needs to hold hearings to investigate the extent of domestic spying on Americans who are merely exercising the rights to free speech, to assembly, and to petition the government. These fundamental political rights need to be protected by tightening up the laws regarding domestic surveillance which were loosened by the PATRIOT Act.
The escalation of wars abroad by the Obama administration is moving forward alongside escalation against antiwar activists at home. The groups targeted in the most recent raids in Illinois and Minnesota, while Marxist in ideology, endorsed and supported the election of President Obama. Their Political Report noted "Obama’s election represents a rejection of the Bush administration policies and a desire amongst the people for a progressive agenda from the government." Now we know that the Obama administration is moving forward with Bush-era policies that target anti-war political dissent at the same time that more Americans oppose Obama’s wars.
Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace (www.VotersForPeace.US).
A Look At The Technologies & Industries Senators Leahy & Hatch Would Have Banned In The Past from the dedicated-to-infringing-activities dept
The more I look at the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act," (COICA) bill proposed by Senators Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch (and co-sponsored by Sens. Herb Kohl, Arlen Specter, Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Evan Bayh and George Voinovich) the worse it looks. The idea behind the bill is to give the Justice Department the ability to avoid due process in shutting down or blocking access to sites deemed "dedicated to infringing activities."
With such a broad definition of offerings dedicated to infringing activities, I thought it might be worth running through a list of technologies that and services that were all deemed "dedicated to infringing activities" in their early days, to give you a sense of what these Senators would have banned in the past with such a law: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100925/12401911168/a-look-at-the-technologies-industries-senators-leahy-hatch-would-have-banned-in-the-past.shtml
from Kevin Zeese
In the First Election After Citizens United, Voters Need to Beware and Organized to Combat Massive Power of Concentrated Corporations
This is the first election after the Citizens United decision which gave corporations complete freedom to spend as much money as they want to influence the outcome of elections.
Citizens beware. Citizens get active. Citizens get organized. Our fragile democracy is at grave risk.
We’ve seen in Obama’s time and office (and before) how corporations dominate Washington, DC. The health care “reform” turned out to be a re-enforcement of the insurance company dominated health care industry. And finance reform had to get the approval of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve before moving forward. Corporate welfare to the weapons industry, coal, nuclear and oil have continued or even grown under Obama. The housing crisis which should have ended with the bail out of Wall Street is getting worse with record foreclosures last month. But that is not enough for the oligarchs who control government through concentrated corporate power. They want more and are using massive spending on elections to get it.
A coalition of organizations has come together to expose groups spending hundreds of millions on the mid-term elections in secret, unlimited donations that avoid campaign finance laws.
The most aggressive post-Citizens United elections operator is Karl Rove’s American Crossroads working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s Chief Counsel, Steven Law, who is also a former chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, was named CEO of American Crossroads. These groups take secret donations, sometimes create front groups to put out their views and are doing the work that political parties normally do – from advertising and data base management to getting out the vote – but without the restrictions on the size of donations or the need for transparency.
I wrote about how corporate power was creating deceptive elections on August 25, and now TIME Magazine is writing much the same story warning that several hundred billion will be spent by corporations and their executives in this election. In addition to mass advertising in at least six states they report that American Crossroads will be spending $10 million national get-out-the-vote campaign that will include 40 million pieces of political mail and 20 million phone calls to voters in key states. Essentially, Republican Party electoral operations have moved from the Republican Party to American Crossroads. Some have described this as a coup of Michael Steele’s Republican Party.
As a result, my organization, Prosperity Agenda, has joined, American Crossroads Watch, a sister group to Stop The Chamber. I serve as the spokesperson for both coalitions. We need your help in making this watchdog campaign effective. Please watch for actions being taken by American Crossroads and the Chamber of Commerce during these elections. If you see a suspicious new group – usually labeled “Citizens for . . .” or “Citizens against . . .” – that does not disclose who their donors are, you have most likely found one of their front groups. Let us know about it. Write me at KBZeese@gmail.com so we can look into it and report it. Part of our job is to let voters know how corporations are trying to deceptively influence Americans – usually to vote against the voters own interests.
Our watchdog campaign has put out rewards of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Karl Rove and Tom Donohue, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. On August 4, 2010, we received a letter from a purported Chamber of Commerce insider who compares Tom Donohue to Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon and Bernie Maddoff, alleges fraud, campaign finance violations and financial impropriety. In a letter on behalf of our coalition I urged the FBI and DOJ to conduct an investigation of Tom Donohue and the Chamber based on this letter.
We have also requested the Department of Justice investigate the “shadow RNC”, American Crossroads. In a letter on behalf of the coalition I suggest formation of a campaign finance task force that investigates these groups, sets up a tip line to encourage information on violations of law, requires preservation of records and monitors their activities. We’ve also urged the Federal Elections Commission to find that these groups are doing the work of a political party and issue an opinion that applies campaign finance limits to their actions.
You can assist our efforts by joining us in writing the Department of Justice urging a criminal investigation. You can do so by clicking here. In addition, please write your member of Congress and urge that they push the Department of Justice to investigate American Crossroads. You can do so by clicking here.
This is the first election after the Citizens United decision allowed unfettered corporate spending on campaigns. Citizens who want people to control government and not corporations need to be organized in challenging the abuses of corporate funding of elections. Please work with us to put a spotlight on those abuses so voters know they are being manipulated and in getting the government to act to restrict corporate domination of elections.
Kevin Zeese is executive director of Prosperity Agenda (www.ProsperityAgenda.US)
from Kevin Zeese
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is sounding the alarm around deficit spending is using exaggerated rhetoric to heighten deficit fear at a time when more spending is needed.
The commission’s rhetoric is working against the antidote for the economy – spending to restart job and economic growth. Forty leading economists, including nobel prize winners, issued a statement calling for more spending in the short-term. They recognized debt as a long term problem, but urged immediate increased spending to avoid prolonging and deepening the economic collapse, writing:
“We recognize the necessity of a program to cut the mid- and long-term federal deficit but the imperative requirement now, and the surest course to balance the budget over time, is to restore a full measure of economic activity. As in the 1930s, the economy is suffering a sharp decline in aggregate demand and loss of business confidence. Long experience shows that monetary policy may not be enough, particularly in deep slumps, as Keynes noted.
“The urgent need is for government to replace the lost purchasing power of the unemployed and their families and to employ other tax-cut and spending programs to boost demand. Making deficit reduction the first target, without addressing the chronic underlying deficiency of demand, is exactly the error of the 1930s. It will prolong the great recession, harm the social cohesion of the country, and continue inflicting unnecessary hardship on millions of Americans.”
The Obama deficit commission is working against this urgent need. And, in pushing proposals that will weaken the middle class they risk real anger from American voters who are already unhappy with the administration’s handling of the economy. The commission is talking about cuts to Social Security, Medicare and middle class benefits like the home mortgage deduction rather then focusing on the three causes of the deficit: massive war and weapons spending, giant tax cuts for the wealthy and the faltering economy.
The time is now to build opposition to these recommendations and urge Congress and the administration to cut programs that will not make the economy worse for most Americans. When I testified before the commission I urged:
These are just a few of the areas where cuts in spending and taxes on wealth could balance the budget and avoid the need to cut Social Security and Medicare or tax the middle class.
In fact, Social Security is in good financial shape for upcoming decades and merely raising the cap on Social Security taxes will make the program secure for the 21st Century. In the long run the economy needs a stronger elderly economic class. The loss of pensions, stock market collapse and savings transformed to debt leaves too many Americans dependent on the measly $14,030 annual average benefits Social Security provides.
Medicare’s challenge is not the Medicare program but the cost of health care. Cuts to Medicare will make health problems and the cost of health care more expensive. Unfortunately, the new Obama health law does not control costs and the president did not even consider the real solution for health care: ending the waste of the private insurance industry by making improved Medicare available to all Americans.
The commission is preparing its report for after the mid-term elections this November. But, it is before the elections when voters have the most power. We need to demand elected officials protect Social Security and Medicare by cutting spending for weapons and war, and raising tax dollars from the wealthy – who profited from a decade of deficit spending, first. We also need to urge them to consider taxes on wealth before considering taxes on workers. We need to let them know that our votes are dependent on them taking these actions.
You can begin to respond to the deficit commission now by writing President Obama and your representatives in Congress. You can do so by clicking here. And, to begin to build opposition to the deficit commission and urge real solutions to the economy send this article to everyone you know and urge them to take action.
Tell elected officials that to solve the deficit problem, they should focus on the causes of the deficit: nearly the entire deficit for this year and projected into the foreseeable future are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the recession. The solutions are: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire and restore robust growth.
Stopping the deficit commission from making things worse is only a first step. Americans need to organize to re-make the economy. To end the wealth divide which has allowed the top 1% to hoard the nation’s wealth, end concentration of corporate power which not only adds to the wealth divide but stifles entrepreneurship and weakens democracy and stop crony capitalism which uses tax dollars to enrich a few. Much work is needed to democratize the U.S. economy so it is transparent and benefits all Americans not the economic elite. But the immediate task at hand is to stop the deficit hawks from making things worse as they are poised to do. An outcry from Americans can stop their worst proposals before they gain momentum.
Kevin Zeese is executive director of Prosperity Agenda: http://www.prosperityagenda.us/
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