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A Thief Lurks in the Shadows: Stealth of the Trans Pacific Partnership

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

A Thief Lurks in the Shadows: Stealth of the Trans Pacific Partnership

Experienced thieves do not want attention focused on their acts, so they employ diversions to misdirect attention. We are currently in the midst of such a diversion while a colossal theft of national resources, dwarfing anything we could imagine, takes place while no one is watching.

The diversion is the spectacle of the conventions of the two major political parties in the US. The corporate controlled media presents these conventions as evidence of our democracy when in reality they are nothing more than circuses fully staffed with carnival barkers, clowns, and feats of political strength, all designed to impress feeble minds with the pomp and pageantry. These ostentatious events where the party’s preselected nominee is anointed by adoring crowds will cost the taxpayers over $136 million for the convention and security costs.

Most people watching this mindless drivel on television think that the politicians are the stars of this show. However, it is really the corporations, lobbyists, and self serving special interest groups that are the VIPs here. These are the money men that will pay for the extravagant parties and contribute to campaigns because they want something back. They appreciate this diversion from the real theft that will be taking place while the masses focus on the convention circus  extravaganza.

The real theft that is taking place is in the form of secret negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. If you have not heard of this so called trade agreement before, that is by design. This agreement has been negotiated IN SECRET for 2-1/2 years and no information has ever been released until this leak. So why have the details of this negotiation been so secret? This agreement has been framed as a “free trade” agreement and yet out of 26 chapters only two have anything to do with trade. The other 24 chapters grant new corporate privileges and rights, while limiting governments and protective regulations.  The only way this agreement could ever be passed is if the details never see the light of day, or if people continue their sleep as our national sovereignty is dismantled. Over 600 corporate lobbyists have had input to and access to the details in these secret negotiations, and yet access has withheld from Congress or the public.

If implemented, this agreement will hard code corporate dominance over sovereign governments into international law that will supersede any federal, state, or local laws of any member country. Some of the provisions in this document include the establishment of tribunals outside of any country’s legal system to be administered by 3 attorneys with no conflict of interest limitations. This 3 attorney tribunal could order sovereign governments to use taxpayer money to pay these transnational corporations for any environmental or regulatory costs that these corporations expended to meet local standards. Many existing laws would need to be rewritten and no new regulatory laws could be passed. This agreement is more dangerous and has even greater implications than the Citizens United ruling.

The kangaroo courts setup by this TPP agreement will have binding corporate guarantees with both trade and cash sanctions. These cash sanctions would effectively transfer taxpayer money to transnational corporate coffers.  Can you imagine the excesses we will see in the financial industry as they challenge regulations within their own private court system forcing governments to pay or eliminate them? The result of these corporate tribunals will be to setup a race to the bottom, where if one country chooses not to regulate something, then this creates a precedent, allowing corporations to sue the other nations inside of the TPP that do control or regulate and have their taxpayers cover their losses for any such regulations. These other countries would be vulnerable to corporate led lawsuits to be decided in the corporate tribunals.  This is nothing less than a global corporate coup against all sovereign states.

These are just some of the corporate wish list items in this agreement, enforced by the corporate tribunals:

*offshoring of millions of American jobs through special investor protections
*loosening of financial regulations instituted after the 2008 crash
*significant lengthening of patent protection for big Pharma, resulting in higher drug prices
*corporate attacks on environmental, worker safety, health standards
*limits on food labeling
*new versions of SOPA, ACTA and CISPA Internet control legislation

In summary, this crime is taking place while the political conventions diversion keeps people from paying attention. What we have here is a confluence of forces that has the potential to solidify a shift towards total global corporate control and to encase it in international law. Governments will merely be the tools of our corporations and will serve to provide a degree of separation between the corporations and the masses when the inevitable police response will be needed to enforce this agreement.

What Can You Do?
We need to end the secret TPP negotiations. Demonstrating at the conventions, rather than at these negotiations is a misdirection of resources.  Attention paid to the convention circuses, with their elephants and jackasses marching in circles to the commands of their corporate ringmasters, diverts attention away from the real crime.

Until we bring this process into public view, there is the danger that it will be passed quickly and secretly with little or no congressional or public input. Once the details of these agreements are made public, the TPP will be defeated, or at the very least modified significantly.

We need people to show up at the Leesburg, Virginia negotiations. A large rally that has been endorsed by over 2 dozen organizations has been planned for Sunday September 9. The independent media will be there. We have reached a crossroad where either we allow the corporations to take control of our nations, or we stop them in their attempts. Take an evening off from the TV and make the effort to make a difference so that you leave your children and grandchildren a better future. Don’t expect others to do this vital task for you.

For more information on this rally, please visit:
http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/

Educate yourself about the TPP. Your future and that of your children depends on what you do. Some sites with more information include:
http://www.citizen.org/tpp
http://www.straight.com/article-688656/vancouver/prointernet-community-must-fight-tpp-weekly-update-openmediaca
http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article35265.html

Rudy Avizius
http://www.endtheillusion.org

New World Order Blueprint Leaked

New World Order Blueprint Leaked

On June 12, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was made public. This copy was analyzed by Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and has been verified as authentic.  This agreement has been negotiated IN SECRET for 2-1/2 years and no information has ever been released until this leak. So why have the details of this negotiation been so secret? This agreement has been framed as a “free trade” agreement and yet out of 26 chapters only two have anything to do with trade. The other 24 chapters grant new corporate privileges and rights, while limiting governments and protective regulations.

New World OrderIf implemented, this agreement will hard code corporate dominance over sovereign governments into international law that will supercede any federal, state, or local laws of any member country. This document alone should set alarm bells ringing, but if one steps back and looks at the larger picture, the future ramifications look even more ominous. After completing this reading, see what your conclusions are.

This video is a must see for anyone who wishes to more fully understand the implications of this secretly negotiated agreement. This article will also show how if this agreement is considered in the context of other recently passed legislation and developments, and the “dots are connected”, the results would be total corporate global governance with an accompanying police state. In this new system the role of elected  governments would be to serve as subservient agents for the transnational corporations, while the armies, police, and courts would serve the interests of these transnational corporations. The  status of the member states would be locked-in,  similar to countries once they are inside the Eurozone.

The TPP is being negotiated by some of the same characters that brought us NAFTA, CAFTA and other so called free trade agreements. Some of the provisions in this document include the establishment of a parallel system of justice to be administered by 3 attorneys with no conflict of interest limitations. This 3 attorney tribunal could order sovereign governments to use taxpayer money to pay these transnational corporations for any environmental or regulatory costs that these corporations expended to meet local standards. Many existing laws would need to be rewritten and no new regulatory laws could be passed.

Governments that tried to pass regulations such as limits on the financial industry using risky bets such as derivatives would have the burden of proof to defend such regulations in a court system controlled by the corporations. The taxpayers would pay should a corporation prevail in one of these “private courts”. In fact over $350 million of taxpayer money has already been paid out to corporations under the NAFTA style deals, because of zoning laws, toxic bans, timber rules and other regulations. This TPP agreement is like NAFTA on steroids. This corporate tribunal bears a resemblance to the private US Supreme Court approved  binding arbitration that corporations use to severely limit an individual’s or a group’s right to sue for damages. With binding arbitration we essentially have a “private corporate court system” outside of any government judicial system where the corporations choose the arbitrators and pay for their services. This creates an apparent conflict of interest because  the arbitrators know that if they do not rule favorably to the corporations in the majority of cases, they will not be hired back.

Corporate controlled courtsThe kangaroo courts setup by this TPP agreement will have binding corporate guarantees with both trade and cash sanctions. These cash sanctions would effectively transfer taxpayer money to transnational corporate coffers.  Can you imagine the excesses we will see in the financial industry as they challenge regulations within their own private court system forcing governments to pay or eliminate them? The result of these corporate tribunals will be to setup a race to the bottom, where if one country chooses not to regulate something, then the corporations would be able to sue the other nations inside of the TPP to have taxpayers cover their losses for any such regulations. These other countries would be vulnerable to corporate led lawsuits to be decided in the corporate tribunals.  

So how could such an extreme agreement that literally gives corporations everything they could possibly want have been negotiated with little or no resistance? The answer is that the ONLY way this agreement could ever pass is if everything is done in secret and the details never see the light of day. Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch recently said:

“These agreements are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying that this is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability."

These talks have been so secret that Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Trade Committee in the Senate which has jurisdiction  over trade agreements has been denied any access to information on the negotiations for over 2-1/2 years. This is a man who is on the Intelligence Committee and has access to nuclear secrets, yet he cannot see this TPP agreement? On the Democratic side, Senator Wyden has introduced legislation to force the Obama administration to make the details of these secret negotiations available to the Senate Committee. 

On the Republican side, Representative Darryl Issa has also questioned the Obama administration’s extreme levels of secrecy on this agreement. This is not a liberal cause, this is not a conservative cause, this is a common cause. It is vital that the public be aware of this TPP agreement because BOTH of the 2012 presidential candidates are supporting this agreement.   Since TPP was negotiated under the watch of the Obama administration, and Mitt Romney has indicated that he wants to quickly complete negotiations of this bill, the results of the next election will be irrelevant to the future status of this bill.

With the corporate takeover of sovereign governments, we see the very essence of a global fascist system. When most people think of fascism, they think of Hitler brown shirts marching through the streets, however, that is not the real definition of fascism. Fascism was defined by President Franklin Roosevelt:

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group”

Money controls governmentPolls show that most Americans from both major political party believe that money exerts far too much influence on public officials, effectively making these elected officials the “hired servants” of the wealthy elites. Both the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement believe that there is too much influence of money on our legislators. Our representatives are essentially the puppets while the corporate elites are the puppeteers. What this  TPP agreement does is to take this puppet metaphor to the international level. Our elections have been reduced to the people choosing who will be the “hired servants” of the power elites from a list preapproved by these same elites.

This TPP agreement is nothing less than a power grab by the largest corporations on the planet to establish a legal framework for global corporate government making all sovereign governments subject to international law enforced by corporations. Passage of this bill would essentially be corporate coup against all member states.  

So while this TPP agreement should frighten anyone who is still breathing, the threat does not end as the corporations make their ultimate grab for power. Here are some of the other forces that are potentially focusing the power of the corporate state:

National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA)

With the passage of the NDAA, our legislators overrode constitutional protections so that Americans who are “suspected” of providing “material support” to a terrorist organization can be detained indefinitely on American soil, without access to legal counsel, and without any charges being filed. Think about this for a minute, you do not even have to be charged with a crime and you can be locked up indefinitely? What exactly does “material support” mean? Exactly what is a terrorist? Some states have actually declared that people who secretly video record animal mistreatment as “terrorists”, even if no property damage was done. If nonviolent protests can be declared as terrorist acts, it does not take a great leap of the imagination to see how NDAA might be applied. Imagine if the government used NDAA legislation against journalists or whistleblowers such as Julius Assange,  Russ Tice, or even Daniel Elsberg? How will we ever know what is happening in a corporate state if the corporations are successful in indefinitely detaining those who would shed light on their activities?

This NDAA is another example of dangerous legislation being passed in darkness. This bill was signed by Obama on December 31, 2011, during the Christmas break when the media attention would be minimal. In an effort to divide the opposition to the indefinite detention of Americans, Obama promised that his administration would never use the provisions. The questions most people should be asking is: ”what is to prevent any future president or even Obama himself from using indefinite detention, and if there is no need for concern over this, why was it necessary to make that signing statement?” Progressive and conservative groups such the ACLU, Gun Owners Foundation, Tea Party Movement, Institute of the Constitution, US Justice Foundation, Tenth Amendment Center, Occupy Wall St, and many other  groups are joining forces to fight this legislation. On social media, resistance in the form of a Facebook group called “Recall Every Congressman Who Voted for NDAA” has been formed.  Now, in the context of the TPP, think of how useful this NDAA law could be to a global corporate government in silencing its critics.

Citizens United Ruling

Americans have long had a sneaking suspicion that there was a “hidden hand” directing our government in Washington and the states, and they were right. The “hidden hand” was actually the corporations, unions, and other self-serving special interests that contribute literally $billions to our politicians in order to influence legislation that will favor them. This has happened even with limits that had been placed on these groups that prevented them from directly contributing to campaigns.  Thursday January 21 2010, will go down in history as a dark day. This is the day that a divided Supreme Court, in the Citizens United v. FEC ruling, removed all limits on corporate political campaign spending. If you thought our politicians were corrupt and beholden to corporations before, things are about to get a LOT WORSE now that all limits have been removed. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the money from corporations in political campaigns and ruled that companies can use corporate funds to support or oppose candidates. This ruling will certainly take its place in history alongside other shameful rulings such as Dred Scott v. Sandford, and Plessy v. Ferguson. These 5 justices opened the floodgates of unlimited funds to influence elections. The strangle hold the banks have over the nation’s wealth will now be amplified by this Supreme Court ruling now that all limits on campaign financing by corporations have been removed.

This black day will go rightly go down in history where the Supreme Court officially validated the takeover of the government by the corporations. The 2012 primary election cycle has already seen where approximately 4 dozen people have contributed massively to the super PACS and decided the outcome of the elections. This type of money influence will cut both ways regardless of which political party you support. One donor has stated that he is willing to spend $100 million in this election cycle. This one single donor “donated” the same amount as 2 million families sending a check for $50. This type of funding by large donors undermines the very foundation of our government and creates an environment conducive to corruption. Now in the context of the TPP, think of the impact that huge global corporations will have on governments with their ability to spend unlimited money anonymously.

Corporate domination of media

Media ownership has now become so concentrated that six corporations effectively control US media today. These companies are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Murdoch’s News Corp, CBS Corporation, and NBC Universal.  With this type of concentration, it becomes very difficult to find diversified news in order to form independent opinions. One aspect of this concentration is the increasing number of negative political ads, many of which have no accountability as to their factual accuracy. This will end badly if we do not stop the media from undermining the foundations of our election system. This concentration of media ownership allows billionaires and corporations to ensure that the politicians who will work to pass self serving legislation favoring these wealthy elites are elected to office.

One place where the corporate media has not met with great success in controlling is the independent media on the Internet. Attempts have been made to control access to it, to create “toll system” ,  as well as extreme copyright rules. We have seen a veritable alphabet soup of acts designed to enhance corporate profits and limit the flow of information. Some examples include PIPA, SOPA,  CISPA, and it seems as soon as they are knocked down due to public resistance, another threat arises. For now, the Internet has remained free and a diverse source of information, but vigilance must be maintained.  Now, think of the effect that the loss of an open Internet and  the increasingly concentrated media ownership will have on the electorate when combined with the unlimited funding that the Citizens United ruling allows, as well as the power that the transnational corporations could gain under TPP.

Increasing Use of Drones for Domestic Surveillance

The use of drones for domestic surveillance is becoming more and more common. The FAA has approved  drones for use over the United States and projects that 30,000 drones will be over our skies by 2020. The EPA is actually using drones to monitor cattle ranchers in Iowa, police and universities are using them, and cities are using drones to keep an “eye on things”.  New much smaller drones the size of birds and insects are now in development.  These smaller drones will be cheaper to produce and deploy which will likely raise the 30,000 estimate significantly and will be much harder to detect. Under a government subservient to the corporations, these drones would effectively be controlled and “regulated” by the corporations. Can you imagine the misuse of this technology to violate any privacy we may have left and to conduct clandestine surveillance?

Militarization of  Police Forces

Militarization of policeThe militarization of our police forces is proceeding rapidly. After 9-11, the Department of Homeland Security gave generous grants to police forces across the nation. Some of the purchases  included riot gear, armored personnel carriers, and even acoustic weapons for small towns. A nexus has formed between vendors of military equipment and the nation’s police forces. There are certainly consequences to this militarization of police forces. Once a police officer is deployed into a situation with full riot gear and military training, the chances of violence increases significantly even when the protests remain peaceful. There is significant evidence of this during the Occupy demonstrations. 

The roles of police and military are totally different. The police are trained to protect lives, the military is trained to take lives. Consider how these same military trained riot police would be used when they are under the effective control of the transnational corporations and how they would be utilized to silence their critics.  

Privatization of Prisons

The privatization of prisons is expanding rapidly. In most societies prisons are run by the state where the incentive is to have fewer prisoners with a lower recidivism rate. In a private system the perverse incentive is to maximize the number of prisoners, and raise the recidivism rate  in order to maximize profits. This results in higher numbers of prisoners, broken families, poor healthcare for inmates, and few resources spent to prepare inmates to reenter society. This has contributed to the shame of the US having largest prison population on the planet whether measured in absolute numbers or on a per capita basis, with most prisoners serving time for non-violent crimes. The private for profit prison industry is growing and has actually influenced immigration legislation in Arizona in order to gain more inmates and raise profits. Think of the impact that private prisons, private policing, private contractors providing soldiers for hire, all with loyalty to $$$ instead of their country. We will quickly devolve into a fascist controlled state. This aspect of corporate control should be one of the most frightening to everyone who holds freedom and democracy dear.

Lack of Prosecution For Financial Fraud

If a criminal gets away with committing a crime, there is a strong likelihood that they will commit it again. The lack of prosecution for the major financial fraud that brought about the 2008 economic collapse almost guarantees that it will happen again. Justice Department officials have stated that these are difficult and complex cases. However, during the Savings & Loan crisis, there were thousands of successful felony convictions, despite the fact that it was 1/70 the size of the 2008 crisis. In fact when the 50 Attorneys General were close to starting their own prosecutions due to the lack of any federal action, the Obama administration stepped in and negotiated its own agreement.

To paraphrase David Petrovich, the Executive Director for Society For Preservation of Continued Homeownership:

“This agreement granted immunity to the big banks for the criminal robosigning  where they forged documents and fraudulently tried to present them in courts across the country. This was essentially another bailout of the banks only this time the bailout was not in the form of money, but rather where changes were made in the law to retroactively transform banks’ illegal behavior into legal behavior. (Watch how this concept of “retroactive” immunity comes up again.) Think about what would happen if you or I forged notarized signatures and tried to pass them off in court. We certainly would serve prison time. Yet, these huge banks were let off the hook even after forging tens of thousands of these signatures and illegally foreclosing on peoples’ homes.”<

criminal immunityWe also recently had the spectacle of the Senate Banking Committee “questioning” one of its largest donors. While wearing presidential seal cuff links, presumably to show his powerful connections, JP Morgan chair Jamie Dimon, easily handled all the softball questions asked of him.  Dimon lost over $3 billion (and growing) on risky derivative bets and yet these same senators actually had the audacity to ask him for input and advice on regulating his bank. Think about the implications of total immunity from prosecution for financial crimes in an environment where the TPP has been approved and global corporations are the effective government.

Lack of Protection for Whistleblowers

The increasing prosecution and harassment of whistleblowers has a chilling effect on government transparency . The government often prosecutes the whistleblower rather than the crime that the whistleblower reveals. The Obama campaign in 2008 promised to protect whistle blowers, but instead he has been waging a relentless war against them. Bradley Manning was declared guilty by Obama BEFORE he was even charged with any crime, yet the shooting of the journalists by the US helicopter crew and their callous statements during the shooting was ignored.  When William Binney blew the whistle on the NSA’s huge surveillance program, the FBI raided his home in an effort to quiet and intimidate him. Corporations as well as government also often retaliate against whistle blowers.  In a corporate state, how would the citizens know about the activities of the corporations if there is no protection for whistleblowers?

Corporate Spying On Americans


The information William Binney made public dramatized the huge scale of the (at that time ) illegal surveillance that was being done on Americans. It also included the fact that AT&T as well as other communication companies were deeply involved in this illegal spying on US citizens. Later, as lawsuits against the corporations started to look like they would be successful, the Obama administration claimed state secrets to kill the lawsuits.  Since the telecommunications industry is another VERY large “contributor” to political loyalists, Congress showed its gratitude  by passing legislation to grant the telecommunication companies retroactive immunity. (This concept retroactive immunity comes up again.)  The questions that should come to mind are: “if no crime was committed, why were the corporations granted retroactive immunity, or if crimes were committed, why were these corporations granted retroactive immunity?” Think of the implications of this in a corporate state, with the increasing use of smaller and smaller drones in an environment that allows corporations to legally spy on you. Then also consider this concept of governments granting retroactive immunity for criminal actions in order to please their major corporate donors. How will the transnational corporations  use these “tools” to maximize their profits or to silence opposition?

Summary

What we see is a confluence of forces that has the potential to solidify a shift towards corporate fascism and encase it in international law. Governments will merely be the tools of the corporations to provide a degree of separation from the inevitable police state that will accompany this corporate global governance. Sovereign governments even with all their failings still have at least some concern for the general welfare of their citizens. Corporations by their very nature have only one purpose and that is to generate profits. If an individual whose sole purpose was to blindly enhance profits, without any regard to the standards of what is wrong and what is right in society, would likely be considered a sociopath by mental health experts.

If the TPP were to be enshrined into international law, these same sociopath corporations would now lord over sovereign governments, indifferent to criminal law, and beyond the control of nation-states. They would have the ability to utilize the militaries of some states to wage war on other “less complaint” states.

Doug Casey of Casey Research recently wrote:
“It’s most unfortunate, but the US and its allies will turn into authoritarian police states. Even more than they are today. Much more, actually. They’ll all be perfectly fascist – private ownership of both consumer goods and the means of production topped by state control of both. Fascism operates free of underlying principles or philosophy; it’s totally the whim of the people in control, and they’ll prove ever more ruthless. “

There are those who would say that it is unpatriotic to be against corporations, however should corporations be in the business of governing?  An open public debate on the future role of corporations is needed.

It is vital that the details of this TPP agreement become widely known and circulated. Once it sees the light of day, it will be defeated because people will oppose it. Sorry, corporations really are NOT people, they are merely state created entities.

What Can You Do?
Get money out of politics

Until we get money out of politics, corporate control of our government will continue and  because of the Citizens United ruling, will most likely increase. Attempts at a corporate coups such as this TPP agreement will continue and will keep resurfacing in various re-invented forms until one day one will be successful. We have already seen this pattern with the repeated attempts to impose limits the Internet.
There are organizations that are working towards eliminating the corrupting influence of money. Find out more about them and support their efforts.  Some of them include:

Public Citizen
http://www.citizen.org

Common Cause
http://www.commoncause.org

United Republic
http://unitedrepublic.org

End the secret TPP negotiations

Until we bring this process into public view, there is the danger that it will be passed quickly and secretly with little or no congressional or public input. Once the details of these agreements are made public, the TPP will defeated, or at the very least modified.
There are organizations that are fighting this TPP agreement and they deserve your efforts and support. Some of them include:
http://www.citizen.org/tpp
http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/
http://www.straight.com/article-688656/vancouver/prointernet-community-must-fight-tpp-weekly-update-openmediaca
We have reached a crossroad where either we allow the corporations  to take control of our nations, or we stop them in their attempts. Take an evening off from the TV and make the effort to make a difference so that you leave your children a better future. Don’t expect others to do this vital task.

Rudy Avizius
http://www.endtheillusion.org

 

Another article on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

A Night with Occupy Wall Street

October 17, 2011 3 comments

A call went out over the Internet stating that the city of New York was preparing to “clean” the park where the Occupy Wall St protests were taking place and that the protestors would have to leave the park during this cleaning. The occupiers were cognizant that this was a thinly veiled attempt to evict them from the park. They asked for people to converge on the park to defend it from the NYPD who would be charged with clearing it.

Night before Having watched this movement from its inception, their message of eliminating the influence of money on our government resonated deeply with me. Their message of corporate and Wall St greed also resonated with me. I remember the horror I felt at the spraying of the penned in protestors, I recall the anger I felt when I viewed the videos where the police entrapped the demonstrators on the bridge and then arrested hundreds of them. The time had come for me personally to take action.

I quickly gathered together a folding chair, a tarp, (the weather called for heavy rain), and my video camera and hopped on the last bus leaving Chinatown. I arrived at the park close to midnight and witnessed several hundred occupiers. I found an empty spot to “camp out” and setup my small site. The next hour was spent in discussion with many of the people in the park. They were very welcoming and friendly. I thought of the many videos I had seen that showed the fringe element of the occupiers in their attempts to try to discredit the movement. While I did see a few fringe types, they were a very small minority. Instead what I discovered was that these mostly young people were both articulate and committed. They clearly outlined the problems within our system as they perceived them.

Jefferson warningAt approximately 1:00 AM, a light rain started falling and I decided to sit on my chair, using the tarp for shelter. I watched as the crowd quickly adapted and almost instantly everyone seemed to wearing ponchos or utilizing umbrellas. Then I received the first real surprise of the visit. The skies opened up and almost instantly started pouring heavily. Immediately a great cheer went out among the crowd that reverberated between the large buildings that surround the park. This sent a chill down my spine. These people were so used to being wet that they actually welcomed the rain.

At this time I noticed my tarp which was only 1 season old and had been sitting in the sun for the summer, was not water tight. Some of the lining had deteriorated and water was entering. It was not long before I was sitting in the chair fully soaked. I looked around and saw how these young people adapted to the rain and to not being allowed to have tents in the park. Many of them covered their sleeping bags with tarps and the openings to the bags with umbrellas. I knew that this was not completely watertight and that they were sleeping in wet conditions. Here I was wet and uncomfortable for one single night and these amazing people put up with this discomfort for weeks in order to protest what they believed in. I felt anger at those who would not allow them to post tents. The arrogance of these people subjecting someone’s child to have to endure this sort of indignity. Would they do the same if their sons or daughters were here?

After a while the rain let up, and normal activity returned to the park. It was now around 2:00AM and I would estimate that less that ¼ of the people were sleeping. There was an electricity in the air and a great concern about the pending confrontation with the NYPD, the enforcers and protectors of the money powers. During this time I explored the park and found that the levels organization were truly impressive. This park had: an information booth, a kitchen, a media center, a first aid station, a general assembly area, and a lost and found. So much for all the media propaganda on how these people are disorganized anarchists. They actually have their own newspaper!

Zucotti Park GreetingDuring this time a member of their community gave me a small flyer and I was impressed with what I saw. Please excuse the poor quality of the scan, but this flyer got soaked during the rains.

On the back was a map with all the information people would need to navigate the park.
On the front, the flyer stated that being intoxicated in the park was not acceptable behavior, that everyone needed to respect others and property rights, and that it was important to keep the park clean and to protect the flowers and other plants.

After the rains, crews were immediately dispatched to start sweeping the areas to both clean them and to eliminate puddles that had gathered in low lying areas. This park was clean. There was absolutely no reason to have to have outside crews come in and “clean” the park. During the rest of my night there, the sound of sweeping could always be heard in the background.

Around 3:00AM it started to rain again and even though my tarp was not totally watertight, it still kept most of the water off of me. Again a sudden deluge came down and again a great cheer went out among the crowd. A huge clap of thunder was heard and then another cheer rang out and echoed throughout the park. It truly obvious to me that these people really did not care about being wet. I had also reached that point, once you are soaked, it doesn’t matter how much more you get wet. If the authorities thought that by making these people uncomfortable by denying them tents they would break their spirit, they badly miscalculated. This had the exact opposite effect and made them stronger. I could feel it. I again felt anger at the authorities for their arrogance in this. I thought about all the ignorant people who posted comments on the Internet about the “dirty hippies, “flea bags” and “smelly” people at these protests. These ill informed people have no idea of what is happening here beyond the propaganda they are hearing. When was the last time any of them suffered this sort of discomfort and indignity to protest something they believed in? These ignorant rants were coming from people who are empty shells who simply parrot what they have heard on the corporate media.

SoakedThese protestors were forced into these degrading conditions by our elected leaders, the paid servants of the money powers. The city did not even provide toilet facilities. Don’t most cities provide them when they know large crowds will be in a public place? This was another one of the sad attempts to try and suppress this protest. The city resourcefully dug up a law that was over 160 years old about not wearing masks in public as an excuse to arrest protestors. Another one of the sad and shameful attempts to try and suppress this protest. Each obstacle thrown in front of these people ultimately only strengthens their resolve. There were so many of these attempts.

The irony of the situation is that the corporate controlled media had been ignoring this protest for weeks until the video of the indiscriminate pepper spraying of the penned in women went viral on the Internet. Then the NYPD tried to go after people with cameras, but there were so many of them, their efforts also went viral on the Internet and even the corporate media started broadcasting some of the clips. The movement grew in strength every time the authorities responded with force. Then came the mass arrests on the bridge and the movement grew even stronger with more and more people coming to the park and with protests spreading to hundreds of other cities across the nation and even the world. The resolve of these occupiers was strengthening and they had lost their fear of arrest. This was being compared to Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Violence against the demonstrators was backfiring and having the opposite effect the authorities desired. Donations of food, supplies, and support were pouring in from around the world. Worldwide news coverage had turned negative against the authorities.

The time was now around 5:00 AM in the park and I had slept little during this night. The vast majority of demonstrators were also awake awaiting the General Assembly meeting to determine what the collective response to the NYPD would be. All decisions are made democratically in this community. (All the people who call this anarchy, please take note.) All night more and more people were entering the park and it was soon obvious that the number of people in the park was increasing rapidly.

Trapped behing barriersAt approximately 6:00AM the park was so full that you could hardly fit another person into it. Why did the police not open up the barriers that were trapping so many people into such a small area? They could easily have closed the 2 minor small streets on either side of the park to accommodate the swelling numbers. This would have kept traffic flowing smoothly on Broadway and Church Streets while having a minimal amount of officers to control traffic flow. Instead the authorities have directed the NYPD to use large numbers of manpower to enforce the ever tightening barricades. This is another example of the arrogant and poor decision making on the part of the authorities, another sad and ineffective attempt to dispirit this movement.

During the General Assembly meeting, I witnessed their system of spreading the speakers’ words throughout the crowd by having everyone repeat what they heard. All announcements were proceeded with “mic check” and this would be repeated throughout the park. The sound of the repetition reverberating throughout the park provided an empowering feeling. You could feel the energy in the air. This is another example of how the decision to prohibit amplified loudspeakers backfired on the authorities. It seemed that every obstacle that was thrown in the way of these protestors, only seemed to make them stronger and more resolved. My admiration for them just kept growing. Then a large group of additional protestors entered the park and a great cheer went up and resonated throughout the park. You could feel the energy levels were climbing.

It was decided that those who had been assigned specific tasks within the community would stay at the core of the park, with supporters on the perimeter and they would all lock arms together. A vote was asked on how many were willing to get arrested and a sea of hands went up into the air by both the occupiers and their supporters. The speaker warned that anyone remaining inside the park was at risk of arrest and if they were not prepared for that they should leave the park. Anyone willing to stay in the park was asked to find a “buddy” so that there was always someone else who would look out for them when the showdown came. A cry of “solidarity” rand out among the crowd. I was impressed by the concern the Occupy Wall St protestors had for each other and for those who came in support. I was again impressed with the concern they had for those who could not risk arrest.

Then you heard “mic check” being repeated across the park. An announcement from the deputy mayor was read stating that the “clean up” of the park had been cancelled. A great crescendo of cheers from the thousands in the park rang out and echoed between the buildings. The protestors had faced down the authorities.

As I am writing this article, I believe that the authorities had made a wise decision in not confronting this movement’s epicenter. Every single time they moved with force, the movement only got stronger. Breaking up thousands of the supporters with arms locked, and then going after the protestors themselves would have been a total public relations nightmare. The mainstream media was out in force, anticipating the showdown. The independent media was out in force. The entire world was watching. The authorities surely did have the power to accomplish an eviction: they have the combined might of the entire NYPD, state police, national guard and US military at their disposal, all to be used against people committed to peaceful protest. But there would have been a very high cost to such an action.

Should such an eviction have taken place, the international condemnation of the United States would have been strong and broad, similar to the condemnation of the Arab regimes’ repression. There is the probability that the outrage could have fueled hundreds of thousands to converge on NY in anger. At such a point the movement would have reached a critical mass and would have been unstoppable short of total police and/or military suppression. So the showdown was averted, however the movement continues to grow.

Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winner from the Polish Solidarity Movement, has announced that he will be visiting with Occupy Wall St. They have stated that he will be warmly welcomed. The movement continues to gain support.

There are those who would criticize the tactics of this movement, but what these protestors have been very successful in is to shine a light on many of the problems in this country. Finally now these problems are being discussed and a national conversation is starting to take place. To all those who are reading this article and/or are following the events on the Internet or even just corporate news, I ask you the following questions:

The bankers on Wall St gambled with other peoples’ money and brought our economy to its knees.
Are you OK with that?

These same bankers then received a taxpayer bailout.
Are you OK with that?

These same bankers then paid themselves huge bonuses for job well done.
Are you OK with that?

We have self serving special interests giving unlimited money ANONYMOUSLY to our corrupt politicians.
Are you OK with that?

If not, what are YOU doing about it?
At least these protestors care enough to do something about it.

This is not a liberal cause, this is not a conservative cause, this is a common cause.

Addendum to this article:
The Oakland Police tried to violently supress the occupation in their city and the numbers of demonstrators grew significantly the next day. The city leadership is under attack by its own people with over 70% of the residents disapproving the mayor’s handling of the situation. (CBS poll)

The Corporate States of America

money in politicsAmericans have long had a sneaking suspicion that there was a “hidden hand” directing our government in Washington and the states, and they were right. The “hidden hand” was actually the corporations, unions, and other special interests that contribute literally $billions to our politicians in order to influence legislation that will favor them. This has happened even with the limits that have been placed on these groups that prevented them from directly contributing to campaigns.

Thursday January 21 2010, will go down in history as a dark day. This is the day that a divided Supreme Court, in a case of unbelievable overreach removed all limits on corporate political campaign spending. If you thought our politicians were corrupt and beholden to corporations before, things are about to get a LOT WORSE now that all limits have been removed. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the money from corporations in political campaigns and ruled that companies can use corporate funds to support or oppose candidates. These 5 justices have just opened the floodgates and the strangle hold the banks have over the nation’s wealth will now be amplified by this Supreme Court ruling that has totally removed all limits on campaign financing by corporations. This black day will go ultimately go down in history where the Supreme Court officially validated the takeover of the government by the corporations. The amounts of money spent on the 2010 midterm elections was a record, and the amounts that will be spent on the 2012 presidential elections are projected to total $BILLIONS!

money = freedom

In its impartial majesty the Supreme Court rules that the poor as well as the rich can spend unlimited money to influence elections


The flawed logic they used was that this was a freedom of speech issue. These 5 justices have just declared corporations now have 1st amendment rights, the same as individuals. It is ironic that it is the conservative wing of the court, the same wing that consistently calls for “judicial restraint” and rails against anything not specifically mentioned in the constitution, was the one that overturned decades of precedent. Where in the constitution did our founding fathers give corporations the right to freedom of speech? Where were corporations even mentioned in the constitution?

We all know too well what happened when our nation deregulated the financial industry and told us that “the market” will regulate itself. These 5 men have now totally deregulated money in politics and have left it to the “market” to regulate itself. We have already seen what deregulation of the financial industry did to our economy. These deregulators said the market could regulate itself.It does not take much forward thinking to envision the consequences of this disastrous decision. The special interest groups were handed a late Christmas present and are already gearing up to flood the political campaigns with money from their profits. The corporations will move quickly to complete their stranglehold on the media and then leverage this to their advantage. Fred Werthheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to making democracy work for all Americans stated: "With a stroke of the pen, five justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy"

If the nation does somehow survive this handing of the government to the corporations, this decision will go down in history as even worse than the Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson monumental errors of the past. The 5 justices that recklessly voted for removing all limits to corporate campaign spending: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy will rightly be held in the same regard as those who voted for these other two decisions.

In the 2008 election cycle, nearly $6 billion was spent on all federal campaigns, including more than $1 billion from corporate political action committees, trade associations, executives and lobbyists. This $6 billion figure does not include state and local races. Now consider how much money we will be talking about here, now that the labor unions and corporations can spend unlimited amounts in both Federal and State elections. We will now have wholesale buying of elections by corporations with their vast financial resources. The door has also been opened for foreign corporations to have a say in our elections now. You can now also expect these corporations to move quickly to attempt to finalize their control of the media and use the media along with their money to “inform” the citizenry of the issues. While the electorate was distracted by the staged left vs right, Democrat vs Republican, conservative vs liberal fights, we have actually just had a coup take place where the corporations have taken over the country. This ruling does not really favor any party because in the end it will not matter what party the candidate is from, they will have been bought. Have you noticed that the corporate media did not give this huge event much coverage?

Corruption of our electoral process
Monica Youn, who directs the campaign finance reform/money in politics project at New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice, said that with this decision the Supreme Court has essentially armed the corporations with a potent weapon, these corporations may not even have to spend that much money. What could easily happen is that the corporations will now have the THREAT of a massive media campaign against politicans that may not do their bidding. This mere potential of a massive campaign of negative ads will probably be enough to make the majority of politicans reconsider their positions. This is like having a negotiation between 2 parties in a room where one of the parties has a weapon and the other does not. The party with the weapon does not need to actually need to wield it to get the desired results, just knowing that it is there is enough. So much for politicians doing the right thing. The corporations will now have even more clout in the legislatures than before and this is without even spending any additional money.

With the broad language that the Supreme Court opinion was written, it may well be almost impossible to draft new legislation to overcome this ruling. Of course, do you really believe that our politicians will even be willing to do pass effective reform legislation now that this new ruling is in place and it favors incumbents even more strongly than before? Our politicians are like drug addicts that are totally dependent on these large sums of special interest money to maintain themselves in power. They will do almost anything to maintain their power.

As if this Supreme Court decision was not bad enough, the nation suffers from a lack of transparency when it comes to trying to follow the money. Deliberate attempts are made to hide and obfuscate the information so that the electorate remains uninformed.

  • Did you know that the Senate deliberately exempted itself from filing campaign finance reports electronically? This slows down the process of determining who is actually making contributions and expenditures by making research a very arduous process of having to read thousands of pages by hand, or having to retype them into a form that can be indexed and readily searched.
  • Did you know that the government’s new “open government” site http://www.data.gov, doesn’t even contain data on campaign contributions, lobbyist filings, statistics on warrantless searches or even committee assignments?
  • Did you know that here is no indexing of the thousands of hours of House and Senate recordings? You would have to listen for days before you could find what you are searching for.
  • Years after the problems with electronic ballots not having a voter verifiable paper audit trail were made public, we still allow these machines to count votes without verifiable paper trails despite the fact that it has been proven that they are easily manipulated. Regardless of your political beliefs, it is crucial for our democracy that the integrity of election results be considered fair and impartial.

It may well be that we have now lost our democracy, but there may still be some hope. Since we can no longer place limits on corporate campaign funding, we need to do the following:

  1. We need to demand TOTAL TRANSPARENCY. We need legislation passed immediately before the next election cycle goes into full swing, where all campaign funding is placed on the Internet and this data must be completely indexed. It is vital that these databases be directly searchable by each and every sort of variable contained in the original documentation. This will make it easy to cross reference the information and find out exactly who is receiving what and from whom. By creating this standard the American people will be able to make informed decisions about the candidates running for office and whose interests these politicans are really representing.
  2. We need passage of the “Fair Election Now Act” immediately. This legislation has been cosponsored by 120 members in the House, however its companion bill in the Senate has a pitiful 5 cosponsors. It has also been supported by many business leaders who sent a letter to the House Speaker and to the Senate Majority Leader. They understand the need for this reform and are getting tired of politicians constantly calling them for money. This bill would create a voluntary system of public funding of campaigns by supplementing small donations of $100 or less. During an election cycle the voters would be able to determine if a candidate was going to serve the people by using the public system or serve the special interests by not participating in it. Check here to see if your congressional representative is a cosponsor. Check here to see if your Senator is a cosponsor. If they are not, call them and ask them why not.
  3. It is time to pass legislating that any corporate money used for political spending be approved by a majority of the shareholders. This will give the shareholders the ability to control corporate political expenditures. (While we are at it, let’s include language in the legislation about shareholder approval of all compensation and bonus payments as well.)

While passage of the above legislation would not stop all of the corruption of money in politics, it would go a long way to limiting its influence and making it apparent to the voters who is trying to influence their candidates. To make the passage of these legislative bills more likely, it is now incumbent on us to actively support organizations that have been fighting for campaign finance reform and government transparency. The time to mobilize is now, while the issue is hot. If we wait too long, the entrenched interests will put additional barriers in place making harder and harder to enact meaningful reforms. There are many organizations working for political finance reform and government transparency, some of these organizations would include:
Common Cause
Public Citizen
Democracy 21
Follow the Money
Open Secrets
Fair Elections Now

These organizations now need your efforts and financial support more than ever. Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher once said, “the price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." If we do not lift ourselves up from our collective apathy, Plato’s words will most certainly become a reality.

Private Corporate Court System

There is a country where Big Business can completely bypass the court system and have cases brought by employees, customers, and individuals heard by a private court system that is overwhelmingly funded by the corporations themselves. In this country they can even totally prevent the bringing of any class action suits for any damage, fraud, or other illegal practice they may engaged in. These suits can only be brought individually and must be heard by this private court system. So what country is this in? Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar? No, this country is the United States!

Our “independent” Supreme Court has AGAIN sided with the huge corporations and just delivered the working people of the United States another body blow. In this new ruling, AT&T v. Concepcion, the Supreme Court has overturned lower federal Court decisions and given Big Business the ability to deprive you of your most potent weapon to fight back if you have been cheated or harmed by a corporation. In this ruling you will now no longer be able to use class action suits for redress against a corporation. This new ruling comes on top of the Citizens United v. FEC case where the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals and were entitled to free speech where they were free to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. In fairness to the impartiality of the Supreme Court, the poor as well as the rich both have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money for political purposes.

Consider this: If your phone company illegally charges you $10 on your bill and also does this to another million customers, the Supreme Court’s ruling allows companies to force consumers or employees into arbitration agreements that prevent them (you) from joining with the others to hold the company accountable. Big Business with its myopic focus on profits often cross the line into fraud, discrimination, and other illegal practices.

How many people have the money and time to take on the task if suing a corporation for $10 or even $1000? The only way this was possible was through the use of class action suits where the customers would join together and take on the wrongs of the corporations. This ruling will now make it nearly impossible to fight against Big Business’ malevolent behavior, and leaves consumers powerless to stop them if they do. This Supreme Court decision, basically allows the major corporations to ignore the law and because of the Citizens United case, to create corporate-made law for the rest of us as they use their economic might to hire the politicians to write laws that favor them.

The use of arbitration agreements on the surface sounds like a reasonable solution because no one wants to go through the turmoil of a lawsuit, and it does streamline any grievance process. However, in reality this amounts to a private corporate controlled court system. The largest arbitration firms are heavily biased in favor of Big Business and against consumers. Since an arbitration company must keep future possible cases in mind, it is in its interests to rule for Big Business and against consumers, and this fact is a blatant violation of any stated impartiality that they may profess.

The Citizens United v. FEC and the AT&T v. Concepcion cases, our Supreme Court has tilted the playing field heavily in favor of the corporations and against working people. The impliciations of such a radical tilt will certainly be felt as time goes by. Think of this, if AT&T decided to “make a mistake” of $10 on 1 million customers bills, it would make $10 million because of this mistake with probably only a small handful of people challenging it, and they would have to challenge it in the private corporate arbitration courts. What do you think are the odds that practices such as this will become common in the future as the nation marches closer and closer to a corporatocracy?

Citizens Close Tax Evader Bank

April 27, 2011 3 comments

tax evaderThis video by EndTheIllusion shows how about 50 determined citizens successfully shut down a Bank Of America branch in Philadelphia on April 18, 2011, TAX DAY for most American citizens.

Bank of America is one of many very large corporations that make $billions in profits, and then use tax loopholes and off shore tax havens to avoid paying taxes on their profits. In fact according to the Government Accountability Office, 2 out 3 corporations pay no taxes. Then the politicians who are bought by these same corporations and the uber wealthy get themselves even more tax loopholes and tax cuts. All this while our government debates throwing veterans into homelessness, cutting heating aid for the elderly, and benefits for mothers with children.

So this group of determined citizens decided to do something about this moral crisis on our society.

Click here to view this video directly on YouTube.

Sounds of Resistance

April 20, 2011 4 comments

2 out of 3 corporations pay no federal taxes. Some of the biggest tax evaders include Exxon, Verizon, Bank of America, Boeing, CitiGroup, among others. These corporate executives sit there with their “patriotic” flags on their lapels, while they scheme how to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, cut deals to ship American jobs overseas, and setup tax havens in the Caribbean. Is it any wonder that the rest of the country is mired in this economic misery while they prosper?

We don’t have a budget crisis in Washington. We have a MORAL CRISIS. When Congress can seriously debate forcing veterans into homelessness, cutting early childhood education, Pell grants for our students, heating assistance for the elderly, and cutting food aid to pregnant women and children, while giving tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations, something is very, very wrong.

If these corporations paid their share, we would not need to be cutting these programs. So on Friday April 15, 2011 hundreds of people met at Union Square Park in New York to protest this fact. This event was called the Sounds of Resistance and the target was Bank of America. While this bank received $billions in taxpayer funds, it made $billions in profits, it was busy foreclosing on millions of homeowners, all while working very hard to create over a hundred foreign tax havens to avoid paying taxes on their profits.

This video by EndTheIllusion highlights this event.

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