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What the robots are doing to the middle class
By Paul Buchheit
Posted December 12, 2016

robot workersWe will need a guaranteed income, ideally through guaranteed jobs, with the implementation of a financial transaction tax, and with a commitment to alternative energy infrastructure development.

The simplistic response to the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on employment is that we've experienced this before, during the Industrial Revolution and beyond, and that the "market" will eventually provide plenty of jobs. The reality is that tens of millions of Americans will have to accept food service and retail and personal care jobs that don't pay a living wage. More...

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Company Behind Dakota Access Pipeline Rounds Up Wild Buffaloes, Keeps Them Without Food Or Water
By Whitney Webb
Posted November 20, 2016

bufallo being starved for pipelineState police have been using rubber bullets, attack dogs, and tear gas on the protestors while North Dakota's state attorneys have been working to intimidate journalists for covering and filming the protests. In one notable example, a filmmaker now faces up to 45 years in prison for only filming the protestors.

Now, it appears that the native wildlife are also targets. Yesterday, Indigenous Rising Media released a video showing a large group of wild buffaloes being herded into an enclosure surrounded by 8 foot deep trenches and razor wire. Current reports from the area claim that the buffaloes are being held without food or water for days. It has also been reported that the construction company building the pipeline has threatened to kill the buffaloes as they could "interfere" with the pipeline's completion.

With the pipeline nearing completion and Energy Transfer Partners getting more and more desperate, it appears they will do anything no matter how immoral or abhorrent it may be. More...

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Eating Well is a Revolutionary Act
By Chuck Nafziger
Posted October 25, 2016

eating well is is revolutionaryA government is supposed to protect its citizens, but currently government protection and regulation of these industries is a joke. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in bed with Big Agriculture. Whether in the FDA or in congress, laws meant to regulate and insure safety from industry are written by industry and rubber stamped by the "regulators." Congress passes "farm bills" that subsidize the worst of the toxic food industry. If it were not for subsidies on growing corn, we would not have GMO corn and its associated pesticides destroying what were once fertile soils in the Midwest.

We would not have high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar in almost every packaged food. Our meat would not come from sick, grotesquely abused, antibiotic soaked, corn fed animals. The over use of refined sugar in this country is addicting, maiming and killing people through obesity, heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and cancer. More...

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Oregon Locals Take On Corporate Power With 'Tax Corporations' Measure 97
By Dave Johnson
Posted October 23, 2016

taking on corporationsMuch of Congress is captured by corporate money. So literally nothing gets through Congress if it interferes with the corporate/1% -boosting agenda. Many in the federal regulatory agencies are captured by promises of corporate payoffs after leaving government, so these agencies do almost nothing to crack down on corporate abuses of We the People.

With corporate and billionaire money determining the outcome of policy decisions at the national and state levels, people in the cities and states are using ballot initiatives to try locally to take back power. Around the country we've seen successful efforts to pass measures such as minimum wage increases, fracking bans and anti-tobacco initiatives. More...

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Cornell Faculty Refuse to Defend GMO Crops
by Jonathan Latham
Posted October 11, 2016

Cornell faculty will not defend GMOsWho would have thought that at Cornell University, arguably the most highly regarded agricultural university in the world, no scientist would speak for the benefits and safety of GMOs? This avoidance of public debate is part of a pattern and the reasons are simple: in any fair fight, the arguments for the safety and benefits of GMOs fail.

As I have discussed elsewhere, there are strong scientific reasons to doubt the safety of GMO crops. The arguments against them are not limited to the dramatic increases in pesticide use they have engendered. GMOs also created the massive and dangerous consolidation being seen in the agriculture and seed sectors and have greatly reduced options available to farmers. Remarkably, they even yield less. More...

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We Are Not Alone: Listening to the 8.7 Million Other Animals Who Live on Earth
By JP Sottile
Posted October 6, 2016

Corporate cancer has taken overSpace. They say it's the final frontier. And they've probably been saying it for a long, long time. According to a recent study, active human exploration of space dates back at least 6,000 years. That's when our star-struck ancestors constructed the first known "telescope" to assist them in their eager search of the observable universe.

We've certainly come -- and gone -- a long way since those early attempts to understand the night sky. We've been to the moon and landed on a surprisingly water-worn Mars. We've literally traveled time through the awe-inspiring "Deep Field" images collected by the Hubble telescope. And now the Kepler space observatory is bringing us tantalizingly closer to answering one of our oldest and most profound questions: Are we alone in the universe?" More...

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10 Common Sense Principles for a New Economy
by David Korten
Posted September 22, 2016

local economies I find hope in the fact that millions of people the world over are seeing through the moral and practical fallacies underlying the Wall Street economy and—by contributing to the creation of a New Economy—are taking charge of their economic lives. It's time we the people declare our independence from the money-favoring Wall Street economy.

Here are ten common sense principles to frame the New Economy that we the people must now bring forth: More...

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Deglobalization Already Underway — 4 Technologies That Will Speed It Up
By John Mauldin
Posted August 22, 2016

deglobalization has already startedIf we had to describe the last 50 years of economic history in one word, globalization would be high on the list. Thousands of small, independent economies around the world fused into one nearly seamless whole.

The things we use every day—food, clothing, vehicles, furniture, electronic devices, even the materials that compose our homes—now come from far and wide. We don't even notice. International trade over vast distances is now so normal that we forget it wasn't always the case. But now a reaction to globalization has set in. In cities and towns all over the United States, weekend farmers' markets have sprung up, selling fruits and vegetables. The main attraction is that they are local. More...

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How to Break the Power of Money
by David Korten
Posted August 20, 2016

David KortenWe can refuse to accept the pervasive, but false, claims that money is wealth and a growing GDP improves the lives of all. Our current political chaos has a simple explanation. The economic system is driving environmental collapse, economic desperation, political corruption, and financial instability. And it isn't working for the vast majority of people.

It serves mainly the interests of a financial oligarchy that in the United States dominates the establishment wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties. So voters are rebelling against those wings of both parties—and for good reason.

Most of us have been conditioned by corporate media and economics education—along with the basic fact that we need money to buy the things we need or want—to accept the pervasive, but false, claims that money is wealth and a growing GDP improves the lives of all.

It rarely occurs to us to challenge these claims in our own thinking or in conversations with friends and colleagues. So they persist and allow the corporate establishment to limit the economic policy debate to options that sustain its power. More...

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Empowering Wisdom to Free You From Debt Slavery
by M.J. Higby
Posted July 9, 2016

Free yourself from debt slaveryAmerica's vision of wealth conjures up visions of expensive cars and big houses in gated communities. Realize this: every time you see these physical manifestations of wealth, they are illusory. In reality, they are most likely manifestations of debt. The average owner of these accoutrements, in terms of net worth, could not afford to pay for the tires on the car, or the roof on the house without digging the hole of debt deeper.

Instead of focusing on the accumulation of symbols of wealth, we should focus on actually acquiring wealth. In doing so, we acquire freedom. By extension, we live our lives not governed by fear, but instead by excitement and adventure. We have the time to indulge in our truest calling and our deepest passions. We cease to be controlled, but instead, we control. Wealth equals time. The picture of life painted by the advertising industry is the grandest of illusions. More...

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Quaker Oats sued over glyphosate found in its 'all natural' oats
by Mike Adams
Posted June 25, 2016

non-GMO crops glyphosate saturatedThe truth is starting to come out about widespread glyphosate contamination of the food supply. Deadly glyphosate now being sprayed on oats, wheat, barley and other crops as a dessicant. Quaker Oats admits that its oats are sprayed with glyphosate by farmers. This fact is a total shock to most consumers who are completely unaware that glyphosate is now routinely sprayed on non-GMO crops. Quaker Oats, owned by PepsiCo, has been sued over its "all natural" oats containing high levels of glyphosate weed killer (sold as "Roundup" by Monsanto).

The New York Times, forever a defender of Monsanto and GMOs, is blatantly lying to its readers by claiming the glyphosate found in Quaker Oats is nothing more than "traces." In reality, the glyphosate contamination of Quaker Oats was tested at alarming levels by a St. Louis laboratory using the ELISA technique. More...

Remember that PepsiCo contributed heavily to multiple state campaigns to stop GMO food labeling.

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The Science that Links Depression to Your Spiritual Awakening
by Alex Pietrowski
Posted June 23, 2016

is depression linked to spiritual awakening?Is depression simply a disease as many psychiatrists and doctors would have us believe, or is there tremendous potential for personal growth and spiritual awakening locked up in the struggle against this common 'disorder?'

For those who are battling, or who have already conquered depression, there is certainly no one size fits all answer, but, according to one of the world's foremost experts on the relative study of mind and spirit, Dr. Lisa Miller, severe depression and spiritual experience are two sides of the same cognitive coin. Her idea is perhaps best presented with this metaphor: depression and spiritual awakening are two sides of the same door. More...

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Doctors' 'Drug of Last Resort' Is Falling Prey to Antibiotic Resistance
by Jason Best
Posted June 3, 2016

industrial farming uses huge amounts of antibioticsA woman in Pennsylvania has been found to be the first American to carry a new strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—one that was only discovered last November, halfway around the world in China. The news, announced last week, has once again sent public health experts sounding the alarm in an increasingly desperate attempt to get policy makers and the public at large to, well, get one simple message through our thick skulls: This is a crisis, people!

To make matters worse, an entirely separate investigation turned up a similar strain in tissue taken from a pig slaughtered in the U.S. That discovery, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, ties the worrying new resistance directly to the routine use of antibiotics in livestock production. More...

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Wake Up and Smell the Poison
by Katherine Paul
Posted May 30, 2016

glyphosate in your systemIf you participated in the glyphosate test project launched last year by The Detox Project (formerly Feed The World) and Organic Consumers Association, you probably failed. A staggering 93 percent of Americans tested positive for glyphosate, according to the test results, announced yesterday (May 25, 2016).

What makes that figure even more alarming is that many of you who sent in urine samples for testing probably eat more organic than non-organic food. Which suggests that either your organic food has been contaminated and/or you're being exposed to glyphosate via unknown sources. Worse yet? Children had the highest levels. More...

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The Beauty—and Power—of Small Business
By Judy Wicks
Posted May 27, 2016

small business strengthens communitesEnvisioning a whole regional food system that incorporated the values I upheld, I began helping local stores and other restaurants, even my competitors, to buy from an expanding network of local farmers. Rather than focusing only on the short-term interests of my own business, I turned my attention to the long-term economic sustainability of my region by working to build a local economy that benefited everyone—family farmers, farm animals, local businesses, rural and urban citizens, and the quality of our soil, air and water.

At the turn of the century, my attention shifted from my local work to the need for a national localization movement. It was then I realized that the freedom I ultimately valued was being threatened by an overpowering force. It was not the communist threat I had been taught to fear as a child in the '50s, but rather American capitalism gone amok. More...

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All Eyes Are On the Control Matrix
By Phillip J. Watt
Posted May 23, 2016

wake upNo matter if you're asleep at the wheel of life or have awoken to not just the consciousness of reality, but also the corporatocracy that has hijacked our world, most of us are paying attention to our shrinking wallets, as well as the political circus. The system is in the limelight, but not how the power structure would like it to be.

The social engineering agenda of dumbing the masses into good little minions of the system has been highly successful, however too many people are now suffering and looking for answers why. Sometimes it feels that the alternative media gives them too much credit too, because it's also been highly successful at exposing itself and therefore waking up people to their enslavement, as well as the lies, deception, toxicity and control matrix itself. More...

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Privatizing the Clearing of Homeless Encampments
by Ansel Herz
Posted May 12, 2016

privatizing destroying homeless peopleThe fast-growing, progressive city of Seattle is privatizing some of the work involved in evicting its many homeless people from unauthorized camping sites to a new company—a firm specially created to clear out the places where the homeless sleep.

The company is called Cascadia Cleaning and Removal, and its website advertises "Homeless Encampment Abatement and Removal" services. On a recent morning, I encountered two of their workers manning a trash bin next to a homeless encampment—where an elderly man was still sleeping—on a sidewalk beneath I-5, a few blocks away from City Hall. One worker told me they "toss everything" if no one is around to claim their belongings. He said they would come back again later because the camp was still occupied.

The city is paying the company $240 per hour for "encampment cleanup in designated locations as needed," according to a copy of its contract, $80 per hour per worker in a three-person crew. More...

This company and its employees sell their souls for profit and money. Perhaps they should remember and internalize these words: "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

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Recognizing TRUTH...In 5 Steps
By Lisa Young
Posted April 20, 2016

recognizing truthHow do you recognize and trust what is Truth? With so much conflicting information available to us on every imaginable topic, how do you discern what is Truth, what is fabricated, or just confused half truths?

Truth is actually an energy, a formula and a principle of Source. Before it is articulated into specific information or "fact", it is an energy and a specific frequency. Because it is an energy, it can bypass the human mind and organically be registered by the body and spirit for confirmation. Many times we "feel" the Truth of something and cannot even explain it. We just "know" it is right. More...

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A New Pact With The Planet
by Vandana Shiva
Posted April 16, 2016

new pact with EarthHuman survival demands that we make a new pact with the Earth and between diverse peoples, based on a new vision of planetary citizenship. A pact based on reciprocity, caring and respect, on taking and giving back, on sharing the resources of the world equitably among all living species. It begins by seeing and cherishing the soil as a living entity, a Terra Viva, whose survival is essential to our own.

The future will be cultivated from the soil, and no longer from the skewed global market of fictitious finance, corporate personhood and consumerism. We need to move from this corporate-centred worldview to one centred on the Earth family. Wherever we are on this planet, the soil is our bedrock. The Earth is our home. We must reclaim it from corporate manipulation and greed, and care for it, together, in recognition of our common humanity and common responsibility. More...

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Food Sovereignty and the Commons
by Adrianna Natsoulas
Posted April 14, 2016

food sovereigntyFood sovereignty is a holistic approach to a global need. The seven principles of food sovereignty are as follows: Food: A Basic Human Right, Agrarian Reform, Protecting Natural Resources, Reorganizing Food Trade, Ending the Globalization of Hunger, and Social Peace and Democratic Control. Farmers are at the heart of the dialogue to actualize food sovereignty, yet its essence is inclusive, bringing together many sectors of society to protect a common good.

The commons is also a holistic approach to actively ensure the health and well being for all that society shares. The commons approach is broader than food sovereignty by incorporating aspects of life that relate to the natural; social and institutional; political; and, intellectual and cultural. Food sovereignty covers those same themes, but within the umbrella of food. More...

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A Model for Self-Governance
by Cindy Kay
Posted April 10, 2016

self governanceThe most exciting thing about transitioning to a self-governing society is that we are limited only by our imagination. That said, we have to begin somewhere. And so I will make suggestions here with the understanding that they will likely serve mostly as launching pads for creativity.

Conventional wisdom says it is easier to begin anew than to retool a structure that is already in place. I would like to suggest a combination of "old" and "new."

It is possible, even likely, that some will feel uncomfortable being part of a band or tribe at first. That's okay. Everyone transitions at their own pace and is to be respected for where they are in the process. Those living in proximity who are building free energy devices, planting permaculture gardens, or developing healing modalities will likely spend time together, learning from each other and having fun. The others may eventually be attracted to the lifestyle and want to join in. More...

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The Crisis in Education Is That the Super Wealthy Corporate Education System Wants to Destroy Public Schools
By Diane Ravitch
Posted April 8, 2016

wealthy want to own schoolsIt has become conventional wisdom that "education is in crisis." I have been asked about this question by many interviewers. They say something like: "Do you think American education is in crisis? What is the cause of the crisis?" And I answer, "Yes, there is a crisis, but it is not the one you have read about. The crisis in education today is an existential threat to the survival of public education. The threat comes from those who unfairly blame the school for social conditions, and then create a false narrative of failure. The real threat is privatization and the loss of a fundamental democratic institution."

As we have seen again and again, the corporate education industry is eager to break into U.S. public education and turn it into a free marketplace, where they can monetize the schools and be assured of government subsidization. On the whole, these privatized institutions do not produce higher test scores than regular public schools, except for those that cherry-pick their students and exclude the neediest and lowest performing students. More...

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One man in Tennessee isn't waiting for his corrupted officials—he built his own broadband network
By Walter Einenkel
Posted April 6, 2016

broadband without big mediaJohn "Thunder" Thornton is a Chattanooga developer who needed broadband, high-speed internet access to his residential development in the Jasper Mountain area of Marion County. Chattanooga, Tennessee, had some great success bringing the fastest internet to its municipality by created its own broadband service.

They were subsequently sued by Comcast because Comcast is a monopoly and not unlike this guy, feels that squeezing out resources is best done for a profit and with no regard towards the betterment of humanity. They lost all of their lawsuits because all of their lawsuits were lies based in bigger lies, on top of a corporate lawyer sitting on Pinocchio's nose.

Unfortunately, Comcast isn't the only telecom with monopoly greeds needs and so AT&T launched their corporate hyena squad—and threw around some big money—at and into Chattanooga. Their claims also used the airtight logic of a madman living inside of a Terry Gilliam film. All of this leads us back to land developer John "Thunder" Thornton: More...

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Flint's decline, Grand Rapids' success predicted in 70-year-old study
By Jim Harger
Posted April 5, 2016

Flint dependence on large employers was its downfallIn 1946, sociologist C. Wright Mills and economist Melville Ulmer concluded the fortunes of two of Michigan's largest cities, Flint and Grand Rapids, were headed in opposite directions. Seventy years later, their predictions are getting new notice from academics.

The researchers warned Flint was overly dependent on its big employers even though its workers made 37 percent more than the national average at the time. The warning seemed out of place. By 1950, Flint was labeled "the happiest city in Michigan" and the "epicenter of the American Dream," thanks to its thriving auto industry. More...

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Buying Local Is the Key to Strong Regional Economies
By Susan Witt
Posted April 1, 2016

local businessIn the leaky bucket analogy for local economies, money flows into a region to circulate through local businesses like water into a bucket. Water that leaks out is money that escapes the local economy to pay for imports. The more watertight the bucket, the more wealth retained.

Spurred by a growing appreciation for local food, citizens, businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations have begun to work together to build regional food systems. But what else might be sourced locally? What can citizens do to thwart the leaky bucket syndrome of their own local economies? More...

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What Wall Street Cost Denver's Schools
by Matt Stannard
Posted March 30, 2016

Wall Street costs Denver schoolsColorado's diverse economy, recently given a boost by revenue from legal marijuana distribution, is generally in good shape. But as of early 2016. Denver Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, was hobbling economically, cutting as many as 170 faculty and staff positions.

Wall Street had devastated DPS by collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in termination fees on swap deals—as much as $215.6 million "unwind" interest rate swaps the district had hoped would cut pension costs back in 2008. That figure was equivalent to two-thirds of the district's annual teaching expenses. More...

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Fresh Water Supply - The Greatest Climate Change Issue
By Richard Mills
Posted March 28, 2016

water resources depletingWater is a commodity whose scarcity will have a profound effect on the world within the next decade - water scarcity makes the reevaluation of our values mandatory. We will have to drastically change the way in which we view our freshwater as a resource.

The greatest issue facing us in the 21st century is how we will use and share the planets less than half a per cent of usable freshwater. Climate change is causing the Earth to warm, precipitation is shifting from the mid-latitudes to the low and high latitudes - wet areas are becoming wetter and dry areas drier. Less rainfall in the mid-latitudes means less new water to refill the aquifers that are being depleted the fastest. More...

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Building a Local Peace Economy: We Have the Power
By Judy Wicks
Posted March 21, 2016

building a peace economyMost economic transactions we make in our daily lives ultimately contribute toward building a peace economy or a war economy, a world of compassion and well being, or a world of indifference and violence. Have you ever imagined that we consumers have such power? Likely not.

Materialism teaches us simply to spend without thinking. But there are consequences to our everyday economic decisions that cumulatively build an economic system that has tremendous impact on other people, and our entire planet.

Materialism and militarism are closely related. Along with racism they form the giant triple evils that Dr. King called upon us to defeat. Each of the three leads us toward cruelty and war, and each depends on a complacent citizenry. By becoming informed about the impact of our decisions and learning to use our economic power mindfully we have the ability to co-create an economy that works for all and bring into being the world we want to live in—one that is healthy, just and peaceful. More...

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What Is the Common Good?
By Noam Chomsky
Posted February 9, 2016

common goodHumans are social beings, and the kind of creature that a person becomes depends crucially on the social, cultural and institutional circumstances of his life. We are therefore led to inquire into the social arrangements that are conducive to people's rights and welfare, and to fulfilling their just aspirations - in brief, the common good.

For perspective I'd like to invoke what seem to me virtual truisms. They relate to an interesting category of ethical principles: those that are not only universal, in that they are virtually always professed, but also doubly universal, in that at the same time they are almost universally rejected in practice. More...

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How Finland broke every rule — and created a top school system
by William Doyle
Posted February 29, 2016

Finland offers model for real educational reformIt's not just a "Nordic thing" Spend five minutes in Jussi Hietava's fourth-grade math class in remote, rural Finland, and you may learn all you need to know about education reform – if you want results, try doing the opposite of what American "education reformers" think we should do in classrooms.

Instead of control, competition, stress, standardized testing, screen-based schools and loosened teacher qualifications, try warmth, collaboration, and highly professionalized, teacher-led encouragement and assessment.

Here, as in any other Finnish school, teachers are not strait-jacketed by bureaucrats, scripts or excessive regulations, but have the freedom to innovate and experiment as teams of trusted professionals. Here, in contrast to the atmosphere in American public schools, Hietava and his colleagues are encouraged to constantly experiment with new approaches to improve learning. More...

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A Public Bank in Philadelphia
By Mike Krauss
Posted February 28, 2016

Wall Street or Main StreetA new idea, a big idea was set in motion on Monday for the City of Philadelphia. Following a unanimous vote by City Council on a resolution introduced by Council members Curtis Jones, Jr., Derek Green and Helen Gym, a hearing was held to begin the process of forming a public bank for the city, modeled on the hugely successful Bank of North Dakota (BND).

The City Council resolution said in part: "The creation of a public bank offers the possibility of achieving multiple policy objectives, including stimulating economic development, spurring job creation, reducing municipal debt service, and expanding the tax base, through direct, long-term local lending at below-market rates."

Similar proposals are now being discussed in more than three dozen city councils, county commissions and state legislatures across the nation. Only weeks before, the city of Santa Fe, NM and an independent citizens committee each released a study affirming the benefits of such a bank and supporting its creation for that city. More...

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Time is Money: Building Local Solidarity Through Time Banking
By Derek Royden
Posted February 21, 2016

time banks workWe hear a lot about the "sharing economy" these days, with many mainstream political and economic thinkers touting it as a solution to the chronic under employment faced by workers in this ongoing Great Recession. Certain things that have been lumped into this new economic model, like open source software and crowd-sourced sites like Wikipedia, are indeed revolutionary, but these are treated as secondary to the somewhat more traditional businesses that get most of the hype.

The idea of time as currency is an easy one for most people to accept, considering that most of us are already paid an hourly wage for our labor. In North America this has been one of the keys to the success of time banking. It is both easy to understand in terms of the way we already work and, with a little enthusiasm, these programs are relatively uncomplicated to set up and manage. More...

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This is how toxic Flint's water really is
By Christopher Ingraham
Posted January 17, 2016

Unelected manager poisons Flint waterThe city of Flint, Mich., is in the midst of a water crisis several years in the making.

With lead at 27 parts per billion, it's five times as high as the level of concern, and nearly twice as high as the EPA's already-generous guidelines. According to the researchers who ran these tests, the health effects of lead levels this high "can include high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, kidney damage and memory and neurological problems."

Virginia Tech researchers took 30 different readings at various flow levels. What they found shocked them: The lowest reading they obtained was around 200 ppb, already ridiculously high. But more than half of the readings came in at more than 1,000 ppb. Some came in above 5,000 -- the level at which EPA considers the water to be "toxic waste." The highest reading registered at 13,000 ppb. More...

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Aaron Swartz Died 3 Years Ago Today – In Remembrance of This Special Soul
by Michael Krieger
Posted January 14, 2016

Arron Swartz - a gift to humanityThree years ago humanity lost a brave, brilliant and kindhearted individual named Aaron Swartz. On that day, I composed a post expressing my outrage and sadness. Once again, I have decided to repost that piece on the anniversary of his death.

I would like to add that if you haven't seen the Aaron Swartz documentary, The Internet's Own Boy, I highly recommend you do. It takes a person like Aaron Swartz to remind you how little you are actually doing to bring forth social, political and economic justice in this increasingly insane and sick world. I'm not exaggerating when I say his life was an inspiration. More...

Aaron Swartz was a gift to humanity who was unfortunately brought down by a system dominated by immoral people with small minds who were willing to sacrifice him for their own self-serving craving for power.

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Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably Has Your Encyption Key
by Micah Lee
Posted January 6, 2016

Microsoft has your encryption keysOne of the excellent features of new Windows devices is that disk encryption is built-in and turned on by default, protecting your data in case your device is lost or stolen. But what is less well-known is that, if you are like most users and login to Windows 10 using your Microsoft account, your computer automatically uploaded a copy of your recovery key — which can be used to unlock your encrypted disk — to Microsoft's servers, probably without your knowledge and without an option to opt out.

If you're using a recent version of Windows, and your computer has the encryption chip, and if you have a Microsoft account, your disk will automatically get encrypted, and your recovery key will get sent to Microsoft. If you login to Windows using your company's or university's Windows domain, then your recovery key will get sent to a server controlled by your company or university instead of Microsoft — but still, you can't prevent device encryption from sending your recovery key. More...

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When the Workers Become the Owners: Taking the Co-op Movement to the Next Level
By Brian Van Slyke
Posted December 24, 2015

worker owned cooperativesThere's a revolution taking place in the US workforce - but you may not have heard about it. Around the country, workers are starting businesses that they democratically control and that financially benefit them. These businesses, called worker cooperatives, are owned and governed by the employees. Every worker is a member of the co-op, which gives them one share and one vote in the company's operations.

Worker co-ops are ending structural extraction of wealth by anchoring money and resources in low-income communities. Worker co-ops are a great strategy for low-income workers to plug into economic opportunities. Workers are gaining access to owning business, not just waiting for a paycheck from one. Those wages feed into community needs and resilience, from educational opportunities and child care for kids or elderly care for older people, to remittances abroad and financial literacy for people who might not have access to those skills. More...

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High Fructose Corn Syrup Now Hidden Under a New Name
by Anna Hunt
Posted December 19, 2015

high fructose corn syrupFood producers have many tactics for hiding food ingredients which have become unpopular with consumers, and such has happened to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) following numerous scientific studies that have linked it to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and autism. In order to stop using the HFCS name in the ingredients list, food makers have taken to calling a sub-category of HFCS as "fructose syrup" or, plainly, "fructose".

HFCS is a highly-processed chemical sweetener used in many processed foods, including breads, cookies, candy, condiments, and soft drinks. HFCS extends the shelf life of products, and it is often cheaper than sugar, which are the main reasons why manufacturers like it. But HFCS has gotten a bad rep, considering the circumstantial evidence that links it to various metabolic diseases, so Big Food and the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) decided to get creative. More...

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What Really Matters?
by Zen Gardner
Posted December 14, 2015

what really mattersIt's amazing how the big questions in life are pushed to the end of the line. Sure everyone wonders about the "big stuff" on and off, but their lives are too preoccupied with other issues that they've been told are more pressing and important – when it's nothing of the sort.

This applies directly to the on-going awakening and how to put our best foot forward in times like these. How best can we be used to effect change? What is the most productive and effective course of action in our personal lives?

With everything at stake at this crucial juncture in history these questions become profoundly important. And the answers just may surprise each of us. More...

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Rising debt service costs: Public banks for tax relief
By Mike Krauss
Posted December 11, 2015

interest payments strangling our citiesAcross the United States, states and municipal governments struggle to provide essential public services, such as schools, public safety, courts and prisons, public health, transportation infrastructure and parks, while also trying to keep taxes down for a middle class burdened with taxes of every kind.

Some of those taxes are easily identified, like those on income, wages, property, sales and gas. Some are almost invisible. One of these is the tax on the money raised by the bonds that governments issue to pay for capital projects.It's called interest, and this tax shows up in our public budgets and financial reports as "debt service," which adds to the burden on taxpayers.

In California for example, construction of the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco was projected to cost $6 billion. But California taxpayers are also on the hook for more than $6 billion more in interest, which will be paid to investors who purchased the bonds used to raise the first $6 billion. More...

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Time to Stop Worshipping Economic Growth
by Brent Blackwelder
Posted December 7, 2015

there is no economy on a dead planetThere are physical limits to growth on a finite planet. In 1972, the Club of Rome issued their groundbreaking report—Limits to Growth (twelve million copies in thirty-seven languages). The authors predicted that by about 2030, our planet would feel a serious squeeze on natural resources, and they were right on target.

In 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Center introduced the concept of planetary boundaries to help the public envision the nature of the challenges posed by limits to growth and physical/biological boundaries. They defined nine boundaries critical to human existence that, if crossed, could generate abrupt or irreversible environmental changes. The global economy must be viewed from a macro-perspective to realize that infringement of the planetary boundaries puts many life support ecosystems in jeopardy. Without functional ecosystems, the very survival of life forms, as well as human institutions, is put in doubt, including any economy. There is no economy on a dead planet! More...

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New Economy 2.0
by David Korten
Posted December 2, 2015

dying Earth, dying economyThe old economy of greed and dominion is dying. A new economy of life and partnership is struggling to be born. The outcome is ours to choose. Imagine an economy in which life is valued more than money and power resides with ordinary people who care about one another, their community, and their natural environment. It is possible. It is happening. Millions of people are living it into being. Our common future hangs in the balance.

There is broad agreement about the need for a New Economy, but strikingly different versions of what that means. The New Economy 1.0 version envisions a magical high-tech fantasy world of limitless growth in mindless consumption.

New Economy 1.0 leaves unchallenged the implicit assumption of the old economy that life exists to serve the economy. It poses no challenge to a money-driven economic system designed and managed by Wall Street corporations to maximize financial returns to their major players. It leaves in place indicators that count the conversion of the real living-wealth of the many to the phantom financial-wealth of the few as a net gain for society. It has no plan for dealing with the internal dynamics of a system that by its design drives toward financial instability, wealth concentration, environmental stress, and political corruption. More...

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What Makes Finland's Teachers So Much Better Than Everyone Else's?
by Vic Bishop
Posted November 30, 2015

Finland gets education rightFinland's school system is swiftly becoming the envy of the world, primarily because of their willingness to experiment with alternatives to formal education to discover if different methods and approaches work better than the strict government controlled academic model. Teaching is a highly valued profession in this Northern European nation, and all over the world teachers come to Finland to tour Finnish schools in order to improve their work at home.

Simply put, Finland's teachers are better than everyone else's because the government and the people of the nation have developed a strong revere for this most important of professions and consider teacher training to be of utmost importance.

Can you imagine a world where teachers and educators are more influential and important to society than investment bankers and politicians? More...

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What If We Owned the Internet Together? It's Time to Bring the Co-op Revolution to the Web
by Nathan Schneider and Trebor Scholz
Posted November 23, 2015

Internet is a community resourceOver and over, this is what happens with the most promising new technologies. From the telegraph to radio and television, early adopters imagine a coming reign of freedom and democracy. But then investors buy in and monopolies rise up, extracting profits above all and suppressing the next generations of innovators, at least until the next "disruption."

A different online economy is possible. Especially since the onset of the Great Recession, we're living through a renaissance of solidarity economies in the United States and around the world. The flourishing of farmers markets, benefit corporations, credit unions, and fair trade demonstrates the longing for enterprise that serves the common good, rather than merely rolling in profits for the few. A bedrock of any solidarity economy is the old idea of cooperativism—sharing ownership among those affected by an enterprise and governing it democratically. More...

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Fracking Goes on Trial for Human Rights Violations
By Kathleen Dean Moore
Posted November 15, 2015

poisoning our water and lying about itWhen industry and governments persist in longstanding practices of silence and deception, it is important to uncover the factual and moral truths about their crimes. Kathleen Dean Moore asserts that the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal on the human rights impact of fracking intends to do just that, and also explains why it matters.

As convoys of heavy trucks carry fracking equipment into new oil fields in neighborhoods and wildlands around the world, an alliance of human rights organizations is making plans to put the entire practice of hydraulic fracturing on trial. The court is the Permanent People's Tribunal, a descendant of the Vietnam War-era International War Crimes Tribunal. The Peoples' Tribunal is a branch of no government on Earth. It has no power of enforcement. It has no army, no prison, no sheriff. So what's the point? More...

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The Post-Wall Street Era Will be Local
by Raphaël Souchier
Posted November 11, 2015

local is the futureChanging our actions requires understanding what generates them. "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root," observed Thoreau. It is indeed at the root where wisdom wishes we would intervene. That is where we are acted upon, manipulated by our own fears. We fear being isolated, threatened by others and by a natural environment that we imagine to be inert, strange and hostile.

However, there is at least one other way to see things, just as realistic but more fecund: We are part of an ecosystem to which we are profoundly related and that permanently generates life. Instead of destroying it through ignorance and arrogance, it would be reasonable to honor it while observing it, respecting it and allowing it to inspire our action. David Korten mentioned this when we met: "This system is extraordinary in its ability to organize itself to capture and use local nutrients, water and energy in each area of the planet. It is extremely local. Seize the resources, use them, and trade them to preserve life through cooperative sharing. All these microsystems are interconnected, and in the end they constitute a global interdependent biosphere." More...

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10 Things Business Schools Must Teach About Sustainable Development
by Terry F. Yosie
Posted November 3, 2015

sustainable communitiesThe acceleration of sustainable development initiatives across the global marketplace has stimulated a variety of responses from both global companies and business schools as they race to adapt to increasingly powerful demographic, economic and technological changes.

Yet the direct relationship between companies and business schools remains uneven, both in actions and in results. This is reflected in the often ad hoc nature of their collaboration, the differing approaches to teaching sustainable development, and the burgeoning need for new skill sets among graduates. More...

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TPP signed: the 'biggest global threat to the internet' agreed, as campaigners warn that secret pact could bring huge new restrictions to the Internet
by Andrew Griffin
Posted October 22, 2015

TPP is NAFTA on steroidsAn agreement that some campaigners have called the "biggest global threat to the internet" has just been signed, potentially bringing huge new restrictions on what people can do with their computers.

One particularly controversial part of the provisions make it a crime to reveal corporate wrongdoing "through a computer system". Experts have pointed out that the wording is very vague, and could lead to whistleblowers being penalised for sharing important information, and lead to journalists stopping reporting on them. More...

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The Elephant in the Room: Capitalism and Sustainable Development
by Garry Leech
Posted October 19, 2015

we must cut our consumptionThe term "sustainable" has been used by so many people in so many different contexts that it has lost much of its meaning. It has become a buzzword in political, economic and development circles. But it is not the excessive use of the word that has ultimately rendered it largely meaningless but the fact that too many efforts to achieve sustainable development do not seriously attempt to actually achieve sustainable development.

It is too often suggested that we can simply incorporate more environmentally-friendly practices into our daily lives while only tinkering with our consumption habits in order to achieve sustainability. But this simply is not true. Each of us living in wealthy nations must massively, and I mean MASSIVELY, reduce our levels of material consumption if we are to achieve a sustainable ecological footprint. And this reality is the elephant that is too often ignored in discussions about sustainable development. More...

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Feeding a New Economy: Local Food Systems in the South
By Susanna Hegner
Posted October 12, 2015

The local foods movement has become much more than a short-lived dietary or environmental trend. Can it actually fuel the new Southern economy?

The term "locavore" has become ubiquitous since appearing in the American vernacular about ten years ago. It represents a rapidly growing movement of people choosing locally produced food rather than packaged goods that traveled hundreds of miles to market. Last year, the local-food economy was valued at nearly $12 billion. According to the Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers markets rose 76 percent from 2008 to 2014. Direct-to-consumer food sales increased threefold between 1992 and 2007, twice as fast as overall agricultural sales. More...

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War is the Health of the State
by Claudio Grass
Posted September 19, 2015

it is the state that exerts powerIn an essay titled "The State", Randolph Bourne, an American writer, made a distinction between a country and a state that I find crucial. He described one's country as "an inescapable group into which we are born". In his view, a country is "a concept of peace, tolerance, of living and letting live. But the State is essentially a concept of power, of competition; it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects. And we have the misfortune of being born not only into a country but into a State, and as we grow up we learn to mingle the two feelings into a hopeless confusion".

Most people don't question what their government does, especially when it comes to foreign policy. This gives power-hungry politicians the opportunity to lie to the public, so that people willingly accept a war in a foreign country. A recent example is the Iraq war, where the public was led to believe that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction and was an imminent threat to the United States. After the invasion, however, it turned out that Iraq had no WMDs and the threat was exaggerated to gain public support for the war. More...

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Self-Governing Association in El Salvador Offers Local Solutions to Global Problems
By Jeff Haas
Posted September 14, 2015

model for solutionsWhile many fret over escalating violence, and others in Washington pay lip service to Central America's dire social situation, local communities are doing something to address the root causes of poverty and violence, from the lack of educational and economic opportunities to environmental degradation. Indeed, local actors are taking the reins and are tackling climate change as they live it. There is a growing grassroots movement that is working toward finding solutions to the problem of rural development and environmental conservation and promoting democracy and youth leadership.

Communities in the global South have already organized movements and implemented practices to save their environment and confront the impact of climate change. One such movement, headed by a network of communities in coastal El Salvador, shows what can be done. More...

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The High Cost of Private Prisons
by Beryl Lipton
Posted September 11, 2015

for profit prisonsWe do know that millions of dollars have been poured into elections and lobbying to in order to make private operators an integral part of many state Departments of Correction and the immigrant detention machine. It's difficult to quantify the effect that private interest can have on the systems for the public good, like criminal justice. But, in Louisiana, for example, where Winn shares the honor of being one of just two major state private prisons, dozens of locally-incentivized lock-ups have created so many mini-economies and a monstrous prison population – the highest per capita of any state in the country with the highest per capita in the world.

Which is why an eyebrow might be raised at the fact that a place like Correction Corp's Winn Correctional averages about one grievance per prisoner a year. The majority of those, about 60 percent, are regarding issues of time computation, according to an LA DOC representative — implying it would be worse if they involved assaults or medical care. But concerns about time computation become more curious when there's an incentive to keeping low maintenance prisoners for as long as possible. More...

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Escape from New Orleans: As waters rose, a white suburb across the Mississippi closed a key bridge to fleeing residents
By Gary Rivlin
Posted September 1, 2015

racism in AmericaHurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana at 6:10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, 2005. Within hours, the catastrophic collapse of levees would cause water to pour into New Orleans. Within days, New Orleans would be 80 percent covered in water.

A group of around 300 were trapped by the rising water in the headquarters of the city's Regional Transit Authority. Their numbers included around 100 RTA workers who had volunteered to remain in New Orleans — the bus drivers needed to transport people to the Superdome on the Sunday before Katrina struck the New Orleans area, and the staff they would need to resume transit service once the winds died. The remainder were family members and friends who had hunkered down in the "Canal Street barn," a seemingly secure brick edifice in a part of town that never flooded. More...

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What We Know About the NSA and AT&T's Spying Pact
by Kim Zetter
Posted August 18, 2015

AT&T spying on customers for NSANEW EDWARD SNOWDEN documents revealed on Saturday in the New York Times detail a decade-long secret partnership between the NSA and AT&T, which provided the spy agency with metadata on billions of emails. Although the Times story has garnered a lot of attention, it offers few details about how the telecom conducted the siphoning and spying for the NSA.

AT&T isn't identified by name in the Snowden documents, but the Times notes that "a constellation of evidence" points to AT&T as the primary company mentioned in them, which several intelligence officials have confirmed to the paper. According to the Times piece, the siphoning of internet data from AT&T began in 2003 and continued for a decade in a relationship that the NSA called "highly collaborative." The telecom giant, according to one Snowden document, was extremely willing to help out the spy agency, and its engineers "were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency." More...

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Acoustic Cannon Sales to Police Surge After Black Lives Matter Protests
by Lee Fang
Posted August 16, 2015

acoustic cannon policeDuring a company conference call with financial analysts last week, Tom Brown, the chief executive of LRAD, a military contractor, informed investors that sales were rolling in, not just from Chinese government agencies and the U.S. Navy, but also from American law enforcement. LRAD manufactures an acoustic cannon that can be used either as a mounted loudspeaker or as a weapon to fire deafening noises at crowds of people.

Over the last year, following a wave of protests over officer-involved killings of black Americans, LRAD has seen an uptick in inquiries from police departments around the country. The LRAD device can reach 152 decibels, a level that can cause permanent hearing damage. In December, Vice reported on the potential dangers of the LRAD cannon, noting, "Permanent hearing loss begins with a sustained sound that's louder than 90 dB SPL — for example, a subway train 200 feet away — but you won't start to feel immediate pain until 120 decibels, about the loudness of a shotgun blast. At 160 dB — a little less loud than a rocket launch — your eardrum will burst." More...

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Schools as Punishing Factories: The Handcuffing of Public Education
By Henry A. Giroux
Posted August 8, 2015

school to prison pipelineIf one important measure of a democracy is how a society treats its children - especially children of color, poor and working-class youth, and those with disabilities - there can be little doubt that the United States is failing. Half of all public school children live in near poverty, 16 million children receive food stamps and 90 percent of Black children will be on food stamps at some point during childhood. Moreover, too many children are either incarcerated or homeless.

As we move into the second Gilded Age, young people are viewed more as a threat than as a social investment. Instead of being viewed as at-risk in a society that has defaulted on its obligations to young people, youth today are viewed as the risk itself. One consequence is that their behaviors are increasingly criminalized in the streets, malls, schools and many other places once considered safe spaces for them. As compassion and social responsibility give way to punishment and fear as the most important modalities mediating the relationship of youth to the larger social order, schools resort more and more to zero-tolerance policies and other punitive practices. Such practices often result in the handing over of disciplinary problems to the police rather than to educational personnel. More...

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A Day of Tears: Report from the "sHell No!" Action in Portland
by Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume
Posted August 3, 2015

fighting for mother earthAs has been well-documented, Royal Dutch Shell has plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, despite their knowledge that such extraction will exacerbate Climate Change (see here, here or here). President Obama has given these plans his blessing, as could be expected of a politician beholden to the extraction industries. In order to commit such an ecocidal act, Shell has to transport many different resources to the area by ship, and activists have attempted to slow the process by blocking, if only temporarily, a couple of these key transports. In Seattle, kayakers delayed the departure of a Shell oil rig in June.

In Portland, the Fennica, a Shell ship carrying a key piece of equipment that is needed on site before drilling can legally begin, docked for repairs about ten days ago, giving local activists some time to put together a response. Another kayak blockade was quickly planned, and to the surprise of most locals, Greenpeace pulled a surprise action a little after 3:00 a.m., early on the morning of July 29th. Thirteen people with climbing equipment lowered themselves off the St. John's Bridge, downriver from the Fennica, and positioned themselves in harnesses about a third of the way down, with ropes strung between themselves. This simple, even elegant, set-up made passage of the Fennica impossible without injuring the climbers. They were provisioned with enough food and water to stay there for days. More...

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Creating New Systems to Replace Dysfunctional Systems
By Michael Richards
Posted July 22, 2015

replacing dysfunctional systemsAt our present time in human history we are rapidly coming to the endgame of the social, economic and political structures that grew out of the industrial revolution. These systems have defined human life on our planet for the last 400 years. We are now in the process of unprecedented systems breakdown of the core components that make up industrial/consumer society.

All core components of the collapsing industrial/consumer society are in a state of diminishing effectiveness and they are in fact decaying rapidly. These systems are thus sick. A medical doctor that provides a clear diagnosis of a dying human body is not being negative, they are simply stating the facts. As a lifelong researcher of the human condition, I study and write about the breakdown and dysfunction of the core components" the organs of our present body politic. More...

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Banksters vs Humanity: Round 14
By Derryl Hermanutz
Posted July 10, 2015

Banker monopoly on money creationProgressives, socialists, radicals, revolutionaries, typically rail against the excesses of corporate industry; and against co-opted governments that serve corporate commercial and financial interests over human social and economic interests. Even classical free enterprise liberals, and free market libertarians, oppose corporate monopolists who enjoy state-supported market power, in violation of the ideal of independent businesses competing on a level playing field.

All of these well-intentioned critics, idealists and reformers are -- if not exactly tilting at windmills -- at least attacking symptoms rather than attacking the root cause that drives them. You could cure all of the symptoms, but they will reappear as long as the root cause remains in place.

The root cause is the world's privately owned money issuance and allocation system, otherwise known as "banking". Private commercial banks enjoy a near absolute monopoly on the initial creation and the primary allocation of the world's supply of "money". Very large scale transnational banks exercise this "money power", and have been doing so for centuries. The Money Power is the "invisible hand" that builds and manipulates all of the other structures of power in capitalist civilization. In the capitalist world, everything is bought and sold for money. The issuance and allocation of money assigns the power to "buy and own" everything. More...

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Economic Democracy vs Bankster Plutocracy
By Derryl Hermanutz
Posted July 8, 2015

neo-feudalismBankers have long exercised a near absolute monopoly on the creation and primary allocation of money. International bankers engineered and enabled the present and intensifying corporate-plutocrat ownership structure of the Western world. What might happen if a people-serving government issued its own debt-free fiat money, instead of using bank-issued credit/debt money that commits the nation to debt servitude and neo-corporate serfdom?

Banksters, corporatists and plutocrats who enjoy great wealth and abundance are happy to perform the role of indebting, ruling over, and punishing us. So maybe it's a symbiotic relationship after all: sadists punishing masochists. But there's nothing "natural" or "inevitable" about it. More...

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America's Slave Empire
By Chris Hedges
Posted June 24, 2015

prison labor is slave labor"The worst thing is the water," said James Pleasant, a St. Clair prisoner who has served 13 years of a 43-year sentence. "It is contaminated. It causes kidney, renal failure and cancer. The food causes stomach diseases. We have had three to four outbreaks of food poisoning in the last four months."

"It takes brutality and force to make a person work for free and live in the type of conditions we live in and not do anything about it," Ray said. "The only way they made slavery work was to use force. It is no different in the slave empire of prisons. They use brutality to hold it together. And this brutality will not go away until the system goes away." More...

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A City Where Everyone Works, There Is No Police, And The Salary Is 1200 Euros
by Jade Small
Posted May 28, 2015

time to rethink old assumptionsWith virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian village in southern Spain that is prosperous thanks to its farming cooperative.

In this province alone there are 690,000 empty properties due to bank foreclosures. But not in Marinaleda, because Gordillo has a solution: anyone who wants to build their own house can do so for free. Materials and qualified workmen are provided by the town hall, and the generous allowance of 192 square meters means the homes are spacious. Families then pay just 15 euros ($19) per month for the rest of their lives, with the agreement that the house cannot be sold for private gain.

In Andalusia, unemployment now stands at 37 percent (a staggering 55 percent for young people). But Marinaleda, population 2700, has virtually full employment through the town's farming cooperative, where laborers earn equal wages of 1200 euros ($1600) per month. Here, in a region where 1 in 3 people are unemployed, this achievement cannot be understated. More...

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10 Quotes From a Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
By Wisdom Pills
Posted May 11, 2015

war on drugs failureLuther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of life of the Indigenous people of the Great Plains before, and during, the arrival and subsequent spread of the European pioneers. Raised in the traditions of his people until the age of eleven, he was then educated at the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School of Pennsylvania, where he learned the english language and way of life.

Like his above mentioned contemporaries, however, his native roots were deep, leaving him in the unique position of being a conduit between cultures. Though his movement through the white man's world was not without "success" — he had numerous movie roles in Hollywood — his enduring legacy was the protection of the way of life of his people. More...

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Baltimore as a Microcosm of America
by Michael Krieger
Posted May 3, 2015

microcosm of AmericaBaltimore, Maryland is in many ways the perfect microcosm for these United States of America. If you still don't get that, you'll be in for a rude awakening in the years ahead.

A gradual erosion of the Constitution and the civl rights of the citizenry, the abuse of power by people in authority, perverse financial incentives that lead to horrible outcomes, zero accountability, and a ubiquitous surveillance state apparatus; Baltimore has it all. Yet all of these troubling traits have also come to characterize early 21st century America.

David Simon, creator of the excellent hit HBO series "The Wire," recently sat down for an interview with former New York Times reporter Bill Keller to explain the situation in Baltimore as he sees it; its origins and what is needed to fix it. As you read, think about the many parallels to the U.S. economy in general; the endless criminal maneuverings within the centers of power in Washington D.C. and Wall Street, the forever spinning revolving door of corruption, the marauding gangs of cronies making impossibly large piles of money based on connections, fraud and rigged markets as opposed to adding value, the idiocy of the war on drugs, the fraudulent accounting, and the overbearing surveillance state. Increasingly, when America looks in the mirror Baltimore and Ferguson are staring right back. We just haven't admitted it yet. More...

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Food Power and Human Connection - Edesia Rising
By Zhiwa Woodbury
Posted April 20, 2015

Edisia, Roman Goddess of FoodThe Orwellian oligarchy has done a masterful job of convincing us that we are powerless, reducing us to despair and symbolic political actions in pursuit of wholly inadequate, piecemeal changes where science and nature demand radical, systemic reforms. The result is a cultural malaise in which we "medicate" our natural depression with OCDD: obsessive compulsive distraction disorder. And, of course, the plutocrats are more than happy to supply us with a seductive cornucopia of distractive electronic suppressants and copious amounts of antidepressants and opioids to numb our spiritual pain.

The reason we are losing this autocratic game, and losing the world in the process, is that we are playing by their rules. We've been conditioned to believe that our power is limited to voting for the lesser of corporate-sponsored evils, marching in the streets and feebly petitioning our broken political institutions for crumbs of incremental change. Which is to say, no power at all - trickle-down politics. To pull the curtain back and reveal our naked emperors, we must stop thinking within the dark political box by which they've disenfranchised us. We must recognize our most effective powers. More...

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How To Sell Off a City
By Rick Perlstein
Posted February 25, 2015

bankers profit from privatizationFor over a decade now, Chicago has been the epicenter of the fashionable trend of "privatization"—the transfer of the ownership or operation of resources that belong to all of us, like schools, roads and government services, to companies that use them to turn a profit. Chicago's privatization mania began during Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration, which ran from 1989 to 2011. Under his successor, Rahm Emanuel, the trend has continued apace. For Rahm's investment banker buddies, the trend has been a boon. For citizens? Not so much.

And as mayor, Emanuel has proven himself practically an addict when it comes to brokering deals with his former investment banker comrades and the other business interests he keeps on speed dial. As the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke discovered when they filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the mayor's private schedule, Emanuel almost never met with community leaders during his first year in office, but he met constantly with rich bankers like Rauner, BMO CEO William Downe and Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world's biggest money management firm. These are his people. More...

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Release the Ego—Transform the World
by Nanice Ellis
Posted January 26, 2015

Abundant Earth provides for needs of allThere is enough for everyone. Our magnificent earth provides an abundance of food, energy, natural medicine, and building supplies that could easily meet the needs of everyone on this planet. Mother Earth does not charge money for any of these things, but our artificial economic system creates lack, scarcity and a slave civilization. We are killing our world and ourselves with poison food, toxic water, and polluted air, not to mention depression, anxiety, poverty and a host of other socio-economic issues – all caused or related to the global economic system.

It appears very easy to blame corrupt world leaders, governments, corporations and a host of other problematic sources — but the system continues because we agree to it. Perhaps, our agreement is complacent, but nonetheless, our lack of non-agreement perpetuates the dysfunction. So the question is, "What is it about each of us that makes us comply and go along – enabling the corrupt and moral-less?" More...

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The Only Road Out Of Davos
by Raúl Ilargi Meijer
Posted January 23, 2015

1700 private jets decending on DavosThe Davos crowd are not the important people, it's just propaganda that makes you see them in that light. There's no glory in wealth. The important people are your neighbors, your families, and most of all your children. And the answer to their insidious schemes is really simple; its that very simplicity which may well be the reason you never saw it.

You see, a dollar spent on locally made products goes much further than one spent on products that are shipped in. About 4 times further. Because if you buy local products, you support local jobs, which in turn support the community you live in through taxes that pay for strengthening the community, and so forth. Ergo: if something produced locally costs twice as much as what's available from 1000 miles away, you'd still be better off. Even if it's three times more expensive, you'll still end up richer. More...

1700 PRIVATE jets ferrying the billionaire class decended on the Davos Economic Forum. So many that it caused air traffic control problems. You just know these people have the best interests of working people and the planet in their hearts.

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Deep Questions Arise Over Portland's Corporate Water Takeover
By Victoria Collier
Posted January 9, 2015

coporate takeover of public waterA simmering water war is about to come to a boil over the fate of historic, well-loved public reservoirs in Portland, Oregon. At the heart of the controversy is a breakdown in public trust that reflects the dangers of corporate-led water privatization schemes in the United States and around the world.

In an emotionally charged public meeting on November 18, 2014, Portland residents bombarded two of their city commissioners with questions about what they believe is a cronyism-driven plan to kill the elegant, gravity-fed, open water reservoir system that has reliably served their city safe, clean drinking water for more than 100 years.

Most troubling are charges of decades of revolving-door cronyism surrounding Joe Glicker, a vice president of CH2M Hill, the company awarded the contracts to build the new covered reservoirs for Portland. Not only was Glicker a former chief engineer of the Portland Water Bureau (PWB), he also worked as a core consultant with the EPA to write the very LT2 rules that now require these massive "emergency" water infrastructure projects. It's a conflict of interest that has local water rights advocates' heads spinning and steaming all at once. More...

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Our Daily Poison: How Chemicals Have Contaminated the Food Chain
By Marie-Monique Robin
Posted November 30, 2014

food contaminationA few of the topics discussed include the origins of the chemical industry in chemical warfare; its history of "strategizing how to control and manipulate research on the toxicity of its products, while waging a merciless war on all the scientists wishing to maintain their independence in the name of the defense of public health"; the modern epidemic of cancers and other diseases that exploded at the end of the 19th century; the weaknesses of epidemiological studies; the idea of acceptable daily intake; case studies of specific chemicals; and the "cocktail effect."

There are several painful stories of poisoning victims' struggles for recognition and compensation, which serve to break up and humanize the flood of technical information. In her conclusion, Robin calls for a new precautionary approach to approving chemicals that errs on the side of protecting people rather than industry. More...

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Skyrocketing Water Bills in the US: Is Water The New Enron Scam? – Fake Crises, Fake Bills, And Fake Solutions
By David Simon
Posted November 26, 2014

water is the new Enron scamReaders may remember my past article dealing with the apparent corruption regarding water rates in places like Dekalb County, Georgia. Electricity, Gas, Water. It's crucial that people be aware that they are not safe from those providing these services and necessities. They should know that their "government" can even move to take water from them.

But Dekalb County is not the only place in the United States where water rates and the restriction of access to water has become a significant issue. As the quotes above demonstrate, Benton Harbor, Michigan appears to be ground zero in the battle for access to water. But "emergency managers" are not the only way to take water from people or charge them fortunes they can't pay.

In Georgia, the technique is somewhat more subtle. There, water providers do not jack up the rates since doing so would cause a public outcry and protest. Instead, they send out water wills that are fictitious and that have no basis in actual water usage – bills as high or higher than 10 times more than the normal rate, often reaching the amount of three to six thousand dollars. When customers call to complain, the water board's phone system conveniently doesn't work and they end up reaching no one. And when they call the office of the CEO of the county, as people have been doing at the rate of nearly 50 calls per day for months, nothing happens. Letters of complaint go unanswered. More...

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Want to feed the homeless? Be prepared to pay the government for the privilege
by Michelle Chen
Posted November 18, 2014

90 year old arrested for feeding homelessCities are enacting politics to keep homeless people out of sight and uphold a social order driven by racial and economic inequality. Homeless people, by definition, have nowhere to go – but now in many cities, they have even fewer options. While real estate developers tout "green space" and the economic "revitalisation" of urban landscapes, it's the sidewalks, parks and plazas that have become hostile territory for the poor. City lawmakers are trying to "clean up" the streets by barring homeless people from parks, shunting families into overcrowded shelters and, in some places, making it a crime even to help the homeless.

Last week, when a 90 year-old activist got arrested for feeding local homeless people at the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, his outrage pointed to a nationwide trend of criminalizing compassion in the United States. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, since the start of 2013, 21 cities have imposed measures to restrict people from sharing food with the needy in public. More...

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A City for Sale: Detroit Auctions City Assets for Pennies on the Dollar
By Seraphine Collins and Andre Damon
Posted November 8, 2014

Selling of a city to the richJugurtha looked back at Rome and said, "A city for sale, if it can find a purchaser!" - Sallust

On the side of the Lodge Freeway, a few blocks from Detroit's historic Boston-Edison neighborhood, stand, row upon row, acre upon acre, hundreds of city maintenance vehicles—backhoes, snow plows, and lighting and utility trucks—all newly-painted and cleaned.

It looks as though these vehicles have been lined up for some great task; perhaps, at any moment, thousands of workers will arrive at the lot, man the cabins, and stream into America's poorest large city to repair its thousands of broken street and traffic lights, fill the potholes that mar nearly every street, prepare its antiquated drainage system for the harsh Michigan winter, and remove the trash piled up in neighborhoods and parks. More...

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The Public Bank Option: Building an Ark
By Mike Krauss
Posted October 28, 2014

an ark for the peopleEllen H Brown is an attorney, researcher, author and daughter of U.S. diplomats. And observant.

In the aftermath of the Wall Street collapse and the catastrophe it let loose, she noticed that while forty-nine of the fifty states and thousands of municipal governments were drowning in red ink and deficits, one state was not: North Dakota.

She investigated and discovered that unlike the other states, the people of North Dakota owned their own central bank, a mini Federal Reserve, the Bank of North Dakota (BND), and as one North Dakota banker put it, "When the crash hit, the BND never blinked, and the credit kept flowing." More...

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Walton Family Undermining Rooftop Solar, ILSR Report Finds
by Stacy Mitchell
Posted October 25, 2014

Waltons fight solar energyThe Walton family — majority owners of Walmart — are impeding America's transition to a clean energy future, a new study by ILSR finds. At a time when more than 500,000 households and businesses are generating their own solar electricity, and the U.S. solar industry is employing 143,000 people, the Waltons are funding nearly two dozen organizations working to roll back renewable energy policies, while a Walton-owned company is pushing for regulations aimed at hindering the growth of rooftop solar power.

Rooftop solar — which is spreading rapidly thanks to favorable economics and strong state policies — offers a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the transition to renewable power, save money for households, and create tens of thousands of new jobs. More...

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With The People's Climate March Behind Us, What Do We Do Now?
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Posted October 1, 2014

NY climate march 2014The climate action weekend built around the People's Climate March proved that the climate movement has broad popular support and millions are ready to mobilize. These are two ingredients necessary to achieve climate justice, but also needed is a strategy that is widely understood so people recognize their work is connected to a larger movement and their actions are more effective.

Governments are sold out to big corporate interests who profit from dirty energy and false market-based climate change "solutions." Climate justice advocates must stop the government from doing more damage while creating new systems that allow us to stop participating in the dirty energy economy. A great power of social justice movements is noncompliance, but to not comply we need to be able to live in ways that are consistent with climate justice. More...

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Toll roads: 'Surveillance state' purveyors and enforcers
By Teri Webster
Posted September 7, 2014

surveillance stateImpounded cars. Blocked vehicle registrations. Fines and penalties. Jail time. Unpaid highway tolls can have heavy consequences. And the punishments hardly fit the crime.

For years, privacy advocates across the nation have warned about the surveillance powers of toll roads and toll tag systems. Now, their warnings have evolved into a disturbing new trend. Toll road systems are becoming purveyors and enforcers of an invasive and punitive surveillance grid that has the ability to track us everywhere we go. More...

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A Former Marine Explains All the Weapons of War Being Used by Police in Ferguson
by Lyle Jeremy Rubin
Posted August 23, 2014

who are they protecting?There's at least one line every Marine knows: "Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot." The St. Louis County Police Department apparently never received that memo.

As smoke hangs over the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, it's important to understand its source. Some of this understanding will require us to reassess the history of police militarization in the United States. This will mean acknowledging its origins in the aftermath of the Watts Riots (1965) and the birth of the SWAT team shortly thereafter. It will mean noting the conservative reaction to the Warren Court's civil libertarian protections in the 1950s and 60s to President Nixon's launching of the drug war at the end of that same tumultuous decade.

It will mean harping on President Reagan's wholehearted embrace of racial policing and mass incarceration in the 1980s. It will mean interrogating the devastating effects of the 1208 Program (1990), which became the 1033 Program (1996), both of which authorized the transfer of military hardware to domestic precincts, a practice that has only accelerated in the wake of the Battle of Seattle (1999) and the attacks of September 11, 2001. More...

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Ferguson arrests include at least 10 journalists
By Hillel Italie
Posted August 21, 2014

10 journalists arrested in FergusonA photographer for the Getty agency and two German reporters were among the latest journalists arrested while covering protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.

At least 10 journalists have been arrested or detained since Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, was killed Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson. Reporters for CNN, Al Jazeera America and other outlets say they have been harassed or physically threatened.

The arrests and detainments, which have ranged from several minutes to several hours, have been widely criticized: President Obama said last week that police "should not be bullying or arresting" reporters for merely doing their jobs. Last Friday, 48 American media organizations, including The Associated Press, sent a letter to law enforcement officials in Ferguson, criticizing the treatment of reporters. More...

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Outrage! FCC Official Says a million people commenting will not make much difference
By Kevin Zeese
Posted July 27, 2014

don't break the InternetMore than a million people have spoken out in favor of real Net Neutrality. More than 3.4 million took some kind of action before the rulemaking began urging Net Neutrality. This has been the biggest public response the FCC has ever gotten on a policy matter " but is the FCC listening? Will the voices of millions of people make a difference?

Sadly, a top official at the FCC, Gigi Sohn, told NPR: "A lot of these comments are one paragraph, two paragraphs, they don't have much substance beyond, 'we want strong Net Neutrality." So, 1,067,779 people commenting will not make much difference. It is a very sad commentary on democracy in the United States. More...

Make it clear to the FCC, the only thing that will protect "the people" instead of the "the corporations" is to make the Internet a public utility. Nothing less!

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Stopping Foreclosure - New Lamps For Old
by David Petrovich
Posted July 25, 2014

another Wall St foreclosure scamFor millions, the manufactured American Dream of homeownership has metastasized into the nightmare reality of Zombie Foreclosures.

The sorcerer returns and is able to get his hands on the lamp by tricking Aladdin's wife, who is unaware of the lamp's importance, by offering to exchange "new lamps for old."

The entire mortgage retirement or mortgage loan replacement program, which utilizes Eminent Domain, can best be accomplished by local non-profit agencies using public money without Wall Street bed partners and their private agenda. Instead of embracing schemes by the very foxes who guard the henhouse while munching on a steady diet of chicken legs, we'll need to create and task 100's of independent community agencies who will be responsible to their own community. More...

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The Town That Turned Poverty Into a Prison Sentence
by Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan Seville
Posted July 21, 2014

Most states shut down their debtors' prisons more than 100 years ago; in 2005, Harpersville, Alabama, opened one back up.Harpersville's experiment with private probation began nearly ten years ago. In Alabama, people know Harpersville best as a speed trap, a stretch of country highway where the speed limit changes six times in roughly as many miles. Indeed, traffic fines are by far the biggest business in the town of 1,600, where there is little more than Big Man's BBQ, the Sudden Impact Collision Center and a dollar store. In 2005, the court's revenue was nearly three times the amount that the town received from a sales tax, Harpersville's second-largest source of income. The fines had become key to Harpersville's development, but it proved difficult to chase down those who did not pay. So, that year, Harpersville decided to follow in the footsteps of other Alabama cities and hire JCS to help collect.

JCS is considered a significant player in the private probation universe. And while recent revenue statements for the privately held company aren't available, what is known is that JCS operates in some 480 courts across the country. In larger courts, JCS can net as much as $1 million in probationers' fees each year, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch. More...

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Standing Up to Disaster Capitalism in Detroit
by John Nichols
Posted July 19, 2014

the sanctity of the contractAs Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed "emergency manager" were steering Detroit into bankruptcy last fall, the public-policy think tank Demos released a groundbreaking report on the city's financial circumstance—and how to address it.

Demos recognized that deindustrialization, high unemployment and an exodus of residents had left Detroit uniquely vulnerable: "the current bankruptcy filing is the result of a severe decline in revenue, caused by the 2008 financial crisis, and cuts in annual state revenue sharing starting in 2011. Risky Wall Street deals further jeopardized the city's public finances by threatening immediate payments that the city could not afford."

Now, as the Detroit Water and Sewage Department is drawing international criticism for shutting off water service for low-income families, activists are asking why the people are being forced to pay while the Wall Street banks live large. On Friday, members of the National Nurses United union and local, state and national groups will march and rally in downtown Detroit to say the priorities are out of whack. Their message is direct: "Let's Tax Wall Street, Get Our Money Back, and Turn on the Water!" More...

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Against Austerity in Detroit: "Water Is a Human Right"
By John Nichols
Posted July 14, 2014

water is a human rightWater is a human right.The United Nations formally "recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights."

A new European Citizens Initiative declares, "Water is a public good, not a commodity."

Former President Jimmy Carter writes, "Clean water is a basic human right. Without it, the other rights may not even matter. Human societies cannot be healthy, prosperous and just without adequate supplies of clean water. What could be a more basic right than clean water?"

So why are children in Detroit marching through that battered city's downtown with signs reminding officials that "Kids Need Water to be Healthy" and "Kids Without Water Can't Brush Their Teeth"? Why are religious leaders being arrested when they seek to prevent the shutoff of water services to families who cannot afford to pay bloated bills? More...

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Evo Morales: "Our Liberation is for the Whole of Humanity". For a Global Brotherhood Among The People
By Evo Morales Ayma
Posted June 29, 2014

Evo MoralesThe worst tyranny faced by humankind is allowing basic services to be under the control of transnational corporations. This practice subjugates humanity to the specific interests and commercial aims of a minority who become rich and powerful at the expense of the life and security of other persons.

This is why we claim that basic services are inherent to the human condition. How can a human being live without potable water, electrical energy or communications? If human rights are to make us all equal, this equality can only be realized through universal access to basic services. Our need for water, like our need for light and communications, makes us all equal. More...

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In 33 U.S. Cities, Feeding The Homeless Has Been Criminalized
by Tom McKay
Posted June 16, 2014

illegal to be homelessIn case the United States' problem with homelessness wasn't bad enough, a forthcoming National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) report says that 33 U.S. cities now ban or are considering banning the practice of sharing food with homeless people. Four municipalities (Raleigh, N.C.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Daytona Beach, Fla.) have recently gone as far as to fine, remove or threaten to throw in jail private groups that work to serve food to the needy instead of letting government-run services do the job.

"I'm just simply baffled by the idea that people can be without shelter in a country, and then be treated as criminals for being without shelter," said human rights lawyer Sir Nigel Rodley, chairman of the U.N. committee. "The idea of criminalizing people who don't have shelter is something that I think many of my colleagues might find as difficult as I do to even begin to comprehend." More...

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Corporate Bee Killers Sponsor National Pollinator Week
By Ronnie Cummins
Posted June 15, 2014

poisoned beesConcerned about the bees and the butterflies? Interested in celebrating National Pollinator Week? It's happening next week, June 16-22. And it's brought to you, in part, by none other than Monsanto and Bayer.

Who supports (i.e. funds) the Pollinator Partnership? Among others, Bayer and Monsanto--the very companies that are killing pollinators with insecticides and genetically engineered crops.

It's all part of a well-documented, well-funded (and shameless) public relations campaign by the pesticide industry to give the appearance of "caring" about the die-off of bees and butterflies, while diverting attention from the cause of those die-offs--highly profitable products made by Monsanto and Bayer. More...

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"Buying Up America": The Individual Wealth of US Billionaires
By James Hall
Posted June 13, 2014

America for saleA quaint comparison of what money can buy in today's market has Bill Gates being able to afford every home in Boston. His $76.6 billion reported by the Washington Post or the $78.4 billion by Forbes seems a pittance when put up against John D. Rockefeller's peak wealth of $318.3 billion (based on 2007 US dollar).

According to your resident commissars over at MSNBC, "The median net worth of American households hasn't changed much over the past decades, it's about $20,000." So if Gates decided to purchase all the Beantown houses, whom would he pay for the bricks and mortar? Certainly, most Americans may think of "their home is their castle", but few actually own a debt free deed to their grand estate. No wonder the banks and financial institutions, are so fond of placing liens on real property. More...

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Power in Military Black Budgets
by James Hall
Posted May 30, 2014

Corporate States of AmericaSomewhere along the way, genuine national defense is short-changed, even if one's political views support the policy of imperium hegemony. The dominance of the military-industrial-complex comes not from their firepower systems, but from the ability to perpetuate a never-ending warfare society, based upon phony threats and a permanent aggressor interventionism and empire expansion.

The corporatists love this cash cow because killing fellow humans is the most profitable business in all of history. Keeping this fact hidden from the taxpayer is the ultimate black budget blueprint that needs protection for the Corporatocracy to continue. More...

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6 Things That Should Never Be Privatized
By Alex Henderson
Posted May 29, 2014

privatization of waterThe idea behind operating gas, water or electric services as public utilities is that those things are important to people's health and survival and therefore, must be protected from corporate greed. Some things belong in the private sector, others don't.

Here are six things in the United States that should remain in the public sector. More...

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The Essential Role of Volatility, Stress and Dissent
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted May 27, 2014

dissent strengthens systemsThe individual or system that never experiences dissent, volatility or stress is systemically unhealthy and increasingly prone to sudden "gosh, I didn't see this coming" collapse.

To say that volatility, stress, dissent are not just healthy, but essential for maintaining health sounds counter-intuitive. On an individual level, we try to avoid exertion, stress and crisis, and on a larger systemic level, our institutions devote enormous resources to minimizing systemic volatility and suppressing dissent.

In other words, the notion that stress and dissent are to be avoided is scale-invariant: it works the same for individuals, households, enterprises, economies, governments and empires. More...

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Food, Energy, Finance: A Solutions Movement Takes Root In Northern California
by Michael Levitin
Posted May 15, 2014

sustainable, self sufficient  resilient communitiesPetaluma, Calif.—There's a new currency here called Bay Bucks that's helping businesses trade in services and get off the dollar. There's a new agriculture-tech startup called CropMobster helping redistribute excess produce and cut down on food waste. And a new electricity provider, Sonoma Clean Power, just flipped on the switch May 1 to supply tens of thousands of Sonoma County residents and businesses with renewable energy.

Call it the Solutions Movement. Something is stirring in northern California and it feels a lot like the future – not the Android kind, and definitely not the Wall Street kind, but a more abundant, collective form of wealth that's being generated in a community whose new energy, food and economic systems seem to be falling in sync. The takeaway from last week's Sustainable Enterprise Conference, held in Rohnert Park an hour north of San Francisco, is that the future here looks sustainable because people believe it can and must be so. More...

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Leaked Documents Show How Blackstone Fleeces Taxpayers via Public Pension Funds
by Michael Krieger
Posted May 8, 2014

banksters fleecing the taxpayersThe following story by David Sirota at PandoDaily is simply excellent. It zeros in on the secretive and rapidly expanding relationship between private equity firms and the public pensions that invest in them. It shows a crony capitalist love affair greased by lobbyist influence peddlers known as "placement agents," as well as non-public agreements between PE firms and public pensions chock full of conflicts of interest, extremely high fees and underperformance. Unbelievably, in many instances the trustees of the public pensions are not allowed to know what funds the "fund of funds" invest in. This makes due diligence impossible, and in one particularly egregious example it led the Kentucky Retirement Systems to unknowingly invest in SAC Capital despite the fact it was under SEC investigation at the time.

Furthermore, with the Wall Street Journal reporting back in 2011 that $37 of every $100 dollars invested in Blackstone's investment pool coming from state and local pension plans, it appears that taxpayers are once again being fleeced by the financial oligarch class.

After reading about a growing pool of insane "dividend deals" and payment-in-kind" notes being issued, I wondered who in their right mind was buying these deals. Well, based on the complete lack of competence and due diligence happening at public pension funds, I think we have solved part of the mystery. More...

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The State of the Deep State - The Monster in America's Closet
by James H. Kunstler
Posted May 4, 2014

deep stateWe've been hearing a lot about the so-called Deep State lately. What to make of this shadowy monster? Some observers link it to the paranoid fantasy called the New World Order, a staple of political talk radio (and a hobgoblin I don't believe in). In popular movies such as the Jason Bourne epics and Mission Impossible, the Deep State launches hyper-complex schemes that work flawlessly and never fail. That is exactly why they have such high entertainment appeal. Viewers are thrilled by the precision, by the conceit of seeming infallibility. The Deep State definitely exists; it just doesn't work the way it is depicted in the movies.

I like to say that I'm allergic to conspiracy theories because human beings are generally too inept to carry out schemes at the grand scale, as well as being poor secret-keepers. Insider knowledge is almost always swapped around, even in secretive organizations, often recklessly so, because doling it out confers status, tactical advantage, and sometimes money for the doler-outer. But the Deep State isn't a secret. It operates in plain sight. More...

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55 Things About America You May Not Know
by Mike Snyder
Posted March 13, 2014

things you may not knowIs America the greatest nation on the planet? Before you answer that question, you might want to check out the statistics that I have shared in this article first. The reality is that the United States is in a deep state of decline, and it is getting harder to deny that fact with each passing day. Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially we are a train wreck. Many that are "patriotic" attempt to put a happy face on our growing problems, but the truly patriotic thing to do is to admit just how bad things have gotten so that we can start finding solutions.

If you truly love this country, then you should know that this nation needs a huge wake up call. We have abandoned the values and the principles that early Americans held so dear, and as a result our society is a giant mess. The following are 55 things about America that you may not know...More...

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The Mess on Our 'Information Superhighway'
by Sam Pizzigati
Posted March 3, 2014

info superhighway messWhy should moving data around be any different from moving people? No private party ought to be getting rich off a basic public trust.

So how would thinking "superhighway" help us out of this mess? America's only actual "superhighway" — our Interstate road network — demonstrates quite neatly the wonders we can realize once we start thinking about basic infrastructure as a public good, not a source of grand private fortune.Americans currently pay much more for Internet than just about everybody else in the developed world. Other countries have established fast, cheap Internet access as a given of modern life. In the United States, we surf the Net at Model-T speeds — and tens of millions of Americans still have no broadband access at all.

This pitiful situation may soon get worse. Two corporate giants that share significant responsibility for our current digital state of affairs, Comcast and Time Warner, are now seeking regulatory approval for a $45 billion merger that would leave Comcast controlling the bulk of the nation's broadband access. More...

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Wave of US Municipal Bankruptcies Caused by Wall Street Predatory Interest Rates, not Pensions
By Thomas Gaist
Posted Feb 1, 2014

pay bankers not workersThe political establishment and the media have relentlessly promoted the myth that the crisis in Detroit and in cities across the US is a product of overgenerous spending on social services and benefits, with public employee pension liabilities cited as the main culprit.

In reality, the driving force behind the Detroit bankruptcy has been a predatory interest rate swap foisted on the city by Wall Street bankers, which was signed by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2005. Scores of states, municipalities, school districts and various other public entities entered into similar swap contracts over the past decade. These deals have enabled the world's most powerful banking houses to systematically plunder public budgets across the nation, creating the conditions for the rising wave of municipal bankruptcies. In Detroit, Orr is seeking to pay Bank of America and UBS $165 million in termination fees, while offering only pennies on the dollar towards unfunded pension obligations owed to 23,500 retired city workers. More...

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Restoring the Sacred Land: An Inquiry Into the Origins and Implications of Land-Ownership
By Jeriah Bowser
Posted Jan 13, 2014

who owns landThe first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had someone pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!

"Sold! To bidder number 70!" the large man in a white shirt jovially declared, as he successfully transferred the ownership of 22,500 acres of Southern Utah's gorgeous Redrock wilderness to a young man whom he assumed was a representative of the oil and gas industry. The assumed course of action would be for the representative to then set about drilling and extracting oil from the area- doing irreparable damage to one of the most unique and beautiful pieces of land in the world. Bidder 70 was not an oil baron; however, he was Tim DeChristopher, a 32-year old economics student who was " interfering with an illegitimate auction that threatened his future."[i] Once the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) authorities realized what he was up to, they removed him from the auction immediately, but the damage had been done. More...

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Hundreds Of U.S. Cities Are Turning Into Rotting, Decaying Hellholes
by Mike Snyder
Posted Dec 18, 2013

gutting of economic infrastructureAll over America, formerly prosperous communities are being transformed into crime-infested wastelands of poverty and despair. Of course the most famous example of this is Detroit. At one time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city that the world had ever seen and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it has become a rotting, decaying hellhole that the rest of the planet laughs at. And of course Detroit is far from alone. There are hundreds of other U.S. cities that are suffering a similar fate. In this article, the focus is going to be on Camden, New Jersey, but the truth is that there are lots of other "Detroits" and "Camdens" all over the nation. Jobs and businesses are leaving our cities at a staggering rate, and what is being left behind is poverty, crime and extreme desperation.

You can read the rest of the article right here. But as bad as things have become in Camden, this should not be a surprise to most of you. The reality is that this kind of rot and decay is happening in communities all over the United States.

Are you starting to get the picture? Our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted and more than 46 million Americans are now living in poverty. And if you are waiting for the jokers in Washington D.C. to fix things, you are going to be waiting for a very, very long time. More...

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The Death of Irony, Or, University Of Penn's Secret Meetings On Secret Laws
By Dustin Slaughter
Posted Dec 7, 2013

University of Pennsylvania secrett discussions on secret courts and secret lawsThis morning's roundtable discussion [at U of Penn]: Spying and the Judiciary: FISA and Other Special Courts. The event is one of seven moderated discussions included in the university's Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) conference, On the Very Idea of Secret Laws: Transparency and Publicity in Deliberative Democracy.

After taking a seat (and catching out of the corner of my eye NSA's deputy director John "Chris" Inglis drift into the room, among others), a wiry CERL staffer named Ilya Rudyak walks over and asks for my name. I introduce myself and offer my press badge. In other words, this morning's moderated discussion on secret courts, secret laws, and a rampaging surveillance apparatus is strangely, well, secret. More...

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(Un)Paving Our Way To The Future
by James H. Kunstler
Posted Dec 2, 2013

time to rethinkCountry life for everybody in the world's savior democracy! Fresh air! Light! Play space for the little ones! Nothing in world history had been easier to sell. Interestingly, in a nation newly-addicted to television viewing, the suburban expansion of the 1950s took on a cartoon flavor. It was soon apparent that the emergent "product" was not "country living" but rather a cartoon of a country house in a cartoon of the country. Yet it still sold. Americans were quite satisfied to live in a cartoon environment. It was uncomplicated. It could be purchased on installment loans. We had plenty of cheap energy to run it.

It took decades of accreting suburbia for its more insidious deficiencies to become apparent. Most noticeable was the disappearance of the rural edge as the subdivisions quickly fanned outward, dissolving the adjacent pastures, cornfields, and forests that served as reminder of the original promise of "country living." Next was the parallel problem of accreting car traffic. Soon, that negated the promise of spacious country living in other ways. The hated urban "congestion" of living among too many people became an even more obnoxious congestion of cars. That problem was aggravated by the idiocies of single-use zoning, which mandated the strictest possible separation of activities and forced every denizen of the suburbs into driving for every little task. Under those codes (no mixed use!), the corner store was outlawed, as well as the café, the bistro, indeed any sort of gathering place within a short walk that is normal in one form or another in virtually every other culture. More...

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Letter to an Unknown Whistleblower
by Tom Engelhardt
Posted September 27, 2013

there will be more whistleblowersI don't know who you are or what you do or how old you may be. I just know that you exist somewhere in our future as surely as does tomorrow or next year. You may be young and computer-savvy or a career federal employee well along in years. You might be someone who entered government service filled with idealism or who signed on to "the bureaucracy" just to make a living. You may be a libertarian, a closet left-winger, or as mainstream and down-the-center as it's possible to be.

I don't know much, but I know one thing that you may not yet know yourself. I know that you're there. I know that, just as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did, you will, for reasons of your own, feel compelled to take radical action, to put yourself in danger. When the time comes, you will know that this is what you must do, that this is why you find yourself where you are, and then you're going to tell us plenty that has been kept from us about how our government really operates. You are going to shock us to the core. More...

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GOP Appointed Officials Black Out Detroit During Heatwave To "Send Them A Strong Message"
by Randa Morris
Posted September 17, 2013

Kevin Orr, Detroit emergency managerIf you ever had any doubt that Michigan has been taken over by a group of dangerous, radical extremists, what happened in Detroit on September 11th, 2013 should be enough to wake you up. There were several things significant about September 11th, 2013. Not only was it the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, but the state of Michigan was also experiencing an unseasonal heat wave. In the city of Detroit, power outages left people stranded in elevators, trapped four hours in the blistering heat. Hundreds were evacuated from buildings in the downtown area, traffic lights did not function, public transportation was disabled and 1,400 sites across the city were without power. Wayne State University and other key buildings still remained closed, the following day. All of this after the city's power supply supposedly failed.

The problem is that the city's power supply never failed.On September 12th, 2013, Bill Nowling casually stated that the city's power outages were intentional. Officials and citizens working in the city were given no warning before the electricity was cut off. Law enforcement officials working in the Hall of Justice had no time to prepare. Senior citizens and disabled citizens using elevators in the city's downtown district had no way to know what was coming. The entire criminal justice system was shut down without notice. More...

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Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security
by James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald
Posted September 10, 2013

Internet seciruty compromisedThis story has been reported in partnership between the New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica based on documents obtained by the Guardian.

US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments. More...

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Building the Commons as an Antidote to the Predatory Market Economy
by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese
Posted September 6, 2013

building the commonsThese are times of radical change. We are in the midst of an evolution. As David Bollier writes, "We are poised between an old world that no longer works and a new one struggling to be born. Surrounded by centralized hierarchies on the one hand and predatory markets on the other, people around the world are searching for alternatives."

We are at a crossroads in the global economic order. If not stopped, the two massive "trade" agreements under negotiation at present, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (known as TAFTA), will cement this globalized neoliberal market economy through greater deregulation, profit protection and an extra-judicial trade tribunal in which corporations can sue sovereign nations if their laws interfere with profits. More...

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We're Hooked on 'Growth,' But It Doesn't Have to Be This Way
by Imara Jones
Posted April 16, 2013

unlimited grwothAs the New York Stock Exchange reached an all-time high this month, you'd think that the good times were back. But that would be incorrect. What happens on Wall Street has very little to do with what's going on in the real economy. Corporate profits have never been higher, but — excluding the highest earners — real wages are at a 40 year low. With this fundamental disconnect — and political gridlock in Washington — it's unlikely that our economy will return to health anytime soon.

The good news is that in thousands of communities across America, people are working together to bring about what may be the beginning of a new national economic contract. Where Washington and Wall Street are falling down citizens are banding together, not just to ameliorate the suffering caused by national stagnation, but to launch innovative economic initiatives that might create a brighter, fairer future for everyone. More...

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Safety Group Blows Lid on "Secrect Virus" Hidden in GMO Crops
Anthony Gucciardi
Posted February 9, 2013

genetically modifiedYet another disturbing reason has emerged as to why you should be avoiding health-devastating genetically modified organisms, and it may be one of the most concerning yet. We know that GMO consumption has been linked to a host of serious conditions, but one thing we are not so sure about is the recent discovery of a hidden viral gene deep within genetically modified crops.

For years, GMOs have been consumed knowingly and unknowingly around the globe, with Monsanto and the United States government claiming that the altered franken crops are perfectly safe despite very limited.

According to Independent Science News, Gene VI also inhibits RNA silencing. As you may know, RNA silencing has been pinpointed as vital for the proper functioning of gene expression when it comes to RNA. Perhaps more topically, it is a defense mechanism against viruses in plants and animals alike. On the contrary, many viruses have developed genes that disable this protective process. Independent Science News reports that the Gene VI is one such gene. More...

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Buried Truth: Uncovering The Keystone XL Pipeline, The Plot Thickens
by Brett Redmayne-Titley
Posted January 7, 2013

XL pipe made in IndiaTransCanada has a government in place that had a growing track record of reducing regulation, loved profit, cozied up to corporate influence at will, and increasingly ignored the good of its people. America. So, TransCanada's lobbyists went to work in the halls of the US congress, and the Office of the President. Current results indicated past success.

TransCanada must have found the political environment of an American government very reassuring, since TransCanada almost immediately began clearing, fraudulently, a path of non-opposition for their new pipeline. Four years hence, TransCanada's lobbying at the White House would pay off handsomely as scheduled.

Without any legal federal, state, or local approval at all, TransCanada began a campaign of contacting all property owners along the proposed KXL route. Initially, TransCanada started with a letter fraudulently telling landowners that the KXL pipeline had been approved by the federal government, and that TransCanada had the legal right to seize their lands for the pipeline's path using Eminent Domain, unless" they cooperated. TransCanada knew they were stretching the truth to shreds, but had the confidence to lie and coerce the landowners into submission. This fraud cost TransCanada almost nothing and yielded great success amongst the landowners who fell for their line and signed an Easement Agreement. More...

If anyone has bought the corporate media propaganda that this oil will help make the U.S. more energy independent, ask yourself this question:

Why doesn't the pipeline run to closer refineries in places like North Dakota? This is because this oil is destined for EXPORT, and therefore needs the ports located on the Gulf coast.

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Limits to Economic Growth, Humanity Is Still on the Way to Destroying Itself
by Raul Meijer
Posted January 4, 2013

tar sandsThere is a more or less general recognition that we face three global problems/crises. Finance, energy and climate change. Climate change should really be seen as part of the larger overall pollution problem. As such, it is closely linked to the energy problem in that both problems are direct consequences of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. If you use energy, you produce waste; use more energy and you produce more waste. And there is a point where you can use too much, and not be able to survive in the waste you yourself have produced.

It may be good to remember that one of the basic tenets of the Limits to Growth report was that variables like world population, industrialization and resource depletion grow exponentially, while the (techno) answer to them grows only linearly. More...

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Walmart: 50 Years of Gutting America's Middle Class
by Stacy Mitchell
Posted July 21, 2012

walmart not good for businessWalmart's explosive growth has gutted two key pillars of the American middle class: small businesses and well-paying manufacturing jobs.Between 2001 and 2007, some 40,000 U.S. factories closed, eliminating millions of jobs. While Walmart's ceaseless search for lower costs wasn't the only factor that drove production overseas, it was a major one. During these six years, Walmart's imports from China tripled in value from $9 billion to $27 billion.

Small, family-owned retail businesses likewise closed in droves as Walmart grew. Between 1992 and 2007, the number of independent retailers fell by over 60,000, according to the U.S. Census.

Their demise triggered a cascade of losses elsewhere. As communities lost their local retailers, there was less demand for services like accounting and graphic design, less advertising revenue for local media outlets, and fewer accounts for local banks. As Walmart moved into communities, the volume of money circulating from business to business declined. More dollars flowed into Walmart's tills and out of the local economy. More...

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A Better Way To Finance Public Projects
by Rudy Avizius
Posted July 17, 2012

oaid less than bankersConsider this...., when a municipality or school district wishes to do a repair, a capital improvement or infrastructure project, the amount of money paid in interest costs to the financiers exceeds the amount of money paid to those who supply the materials and do the labor on the project. Most people should feel angered by this. Why should those who simply move money around, make more money than those who produce the materials and do the actual labor on the project? Most readers can probably relate to this personally because the interest burden of financing the purchase of their homes causes the final total cost of the purchase to far exceed the original cost of home itself. There needs to be a better system of financing public projects.

Perhaps engaging in creative thinking would result in cheaper financing of public projects. Proposed solutions still center on using conventional or Wall Street financing instead of looking to alternative sources. Well, there is a better way and it can provide any sized government or community entity with financing at zero or near zero interest. More...

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Why Is the Government Collecting Your Biometric Data?
by Tana Ganeva
Posted June 28, 2012

Biometric surveillanceThe next time you get pulled over, watch for a blocky, black gadget attached to the officer's iPhone. That's the MORIS device, one of many mobile fingerprint and biometric scanners proliferating in police departments around the country. MORIS is designed to ascertain identity and dig up an unsavory past, but that's not all: the device can also gather iris scans, fingerprints, and photos searchable with face recognition technology.

Mobile scanners like MORIS are just one of the many ways biometric data (unique, identifying physical features including fingerprints, DNA or iris scans) is collected and potentially fed into government and private biometric databases that have swelled in both size and sophistication in the decade after 9/11. More...

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Wall Street's Mutant Gene Marches On
by Jim Hightower
Posted June 14, 2012

Mutant genes?Perhaps there's some sort of greed gene that prompts compulsive outbreaks of financial graspiness by giant bankers. How else to explain the chronic gouges, excesses and scandals that we're getting from this one, small subgroup of human beings?

Their latest reach is into the pockets of low- and modest-income college students who need federal student aid to help cope with today's ever-escalating education costs. For decades, this financial assistance has come in the form of simple checks written to the students by the aid program or administered directly by the schools. But, of course, such straightforward simplicity begged the obvious question: How can we expect Wall Street bankers to grab a chunk of this student education money if it's not routed directly through them?

Thus, from deep inside a particularly inventive banker somewhere, the greed gene shouted: "debit cards!" Rather than disbursing the aid by checks, banks get universities to issue debit cards for students to use to withdraw their aid funds electronically. More...

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Five Facts That Put America to Shame
by Paul Buchheit
Posted June 2, 2012

prisons for profitWe give prison sentences for smoking marijuana, but not for billion-dollar fraud. About half of our world-leading prison population is in jail for non-violent drug offenses. Americans have also been arrested for handing out free food in a park. Mothers in Ohio and Connecticut were jailed for enrolling their kids in out-of-district schools. As of 2003 in California there were 344 individuals serving sentences of 25 years or more for shoplifting as a third offense, in many cases after two non-violent offenses. How does the market deal with this steady tide of petty crime? It strives for more. The new trend of private prisons is dependent on maintaining a sizable prison population to guarantee profits, with no incentive for rehabilitation.

We've betrayed the young people who were advised to stay in school. Over 40% of recent college graduates are living with their parents, dealing with government loans that average $27,200. The unemployment rate for young people is about 50%. More than 350,000 Americans with advanced degrees applied for food stamps in 2010.

As Washington lobbyists endeavor to kill a proposed bill to reduce the interest rates on student debt, federal loans remain readily available, and so colleges go right on increasing their tuition. Meanwhile, corporations hold $2 trillion in cash while looking for investments and employees in foreign countries, and American students are forced to accept menial positions. More...

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First Super Weeds, Now Super Insects - Thanks to Monsanto
by Dr. J Mercola
Posted June 1, 2012

GMO resistantA new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests. The failure of Monsanto's genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.

Monsanto and the EPA swore that the genetically engineered corn would only harm insects. The Bt-toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers, they claimed. Alas, they've been proven wrong on that account as well, because not only is Bt corn producing resistant "super-pests," researchers have also found that the Bt-toxin can indeed wreak havoc on human health.

Bt-Toxin is now found in many people's blood! More...

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How Corporations and Local Governments Rob the Poor Blind
By Barbara Ehrenreich
Posted May 18, 2012

robbing from the poorThe trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It's not just the private sector that's preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell. More..

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NATO Heads for Chicago
by Stephen Lendman
Posted May 11, 2012

Backhawk helicopters over ChicagoDozens of NATO heads of state and other top officials plan attending. Large delegations are coming with them. So are similar partner nation contingents. The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times reported on elaborate security preparations. Hundreds of state police and National Guard forces are involved. So aren't thousands of Chicago cops.

Secret Service staff also will be out in force. The ACLU said they'll set up a security perimeter around McCormick Place. Part of Lake Shore Drive will be closed. It's one of the city's main arteries. Enormous amounts of anti-scale steel fencing will be erected. Thousands of linear feet of concrete barriers will be strategically placed. Secret Service spokesman George Ogilve declined to give specifics. The ACLU threatened court action unless details are released well in advance.

At issue are fundamental freedoms. They include speech and assembly rights. They're also about police refraining from crackdowns on nonviolent protesters. Will Chicago respect what NATO and Washington never do on so-called "liberating" missions? Activists want to know. The city has an odious reputation. More on that below. Permits were granted for six protest events. Other groups got them earlier. Chicago cops cracked down anyway. A Secret Service/Chicago police business panel session revealed one planned tactic.

"Extraction teams" will snatch and grab protesters from crowds. Who for what reasons wasn't explained. More...

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What the U.S. can't learn from Finland about ed reform
by Valerie Strauss
Posted Apriol 25, 2012

Excellence in educationAs the United States is looking to reform its public school system, education experts have increasingly looked at other countries for examples on what works and what won't. The current administration has turned its attention strong performing foreign school systems. As a consequence, recent education summits hosted in the United States have given room to international education showcases.

First of all, although Finland can show the United States what equal opportunity looks like, Americans cannot achieve equity without first implementing fundamental changes in their school system. The following three issues require particular attention. More...

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Arizona's Private Prisons: A Bad Bargain
by Sasha Abramsky
Posted April 8, 2012

for profit?In mid-February, the Arizona chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) released a report on the impact of private prisons in the state. Private Prisons: the Public's Problem concluded that Arizona overpaid for private prison services between 2008 and 2010 to the tune of $10 million, and that the services it received were shoddy at best: malfunctioning alarm systems, fences with holes in them, staff who didn't follow basic procedures and many other failings. All told, the state's auditor general documented 157 serious security failings across five facilities that hold in-state prisoners. (There are three additional private prisons.) At least twenty-eight riots were also reported.

"The main purpose of a prison is to reduce crime," said the AFSC's report. "The only measurement available of how well a prison performs this function is its recidivism rates." Yet, "none of the corporations operating in Arizona measure recidivism." The report noted that at the private facilities there were higher staff turnover and lower staff qualifications, as well as more cases of violence than in state prisons. More...

The incentives of a for profit private prison system are all wrong. Their inventive is to maximize the number of inmates for maximium profit. A state based system has the incentive to minimize the number of inmates to reduce costs. Withe the huge growth in private prison systems, is it any wonder that the US inmate population is exploding?

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Cut Wall Street Out! How States Can Finance Their Own Economic Recovery
by Ellen Hodgson Brown
Posted April 1, 2012

states can recoverPouring money into the private banking system has only fixed the economy for bankers and the wealthy; it has not done much to address either the fundamental problem of unemployment or the debt trap so many Americans find themselves in.

In this dark firmament, however, one bright star shines. The sole state to actually gain jobs is an unlikely candidate for the distinction: North Dakota. Yet, since 2000, the state's GNP has grown 56 percent, personal income has grown 43 percent and wages have grown 34 percent. The state not only has no funding problems, but this year it has a budget surplus of $1.3 billion, the largest it has ever had.

Why is North Dakota doing so well, when other states are suffering the ravages of a deepening credit crisis? Its secret may be that it has its own credit machine. North Dakota is the only state in the Union to own its own bank. More...

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Breaking Up with the Sierra Club
by Sandra Steingraber
Posted March 29, 2012

FrackingDear Sierra Club,

I'm through with you. I was proud to be affiliated with you. I hoped to live up to the moniker you bestowed upon me.

But more than a month has past since your executive director, Michael Brune, admitted in Time magazine that the Sierra Club had, between 2007 and 2010, clandestinely accepted $25 million from the fracking industry, with most of the donations coming from Chesapeake Energy. Corporate Crime Reporter was hot on the trail of the story when it broke in Time.

The hard truth: National Sierra Club served as the political cover for the gas industry and for the politicians who take their money and do their bidding. It had a hand in setting in motion the wheels of environmental destruction and human suffering. It was complicit in bringing extreme fossil fuel extraction onshore, into our communities, farmlands, and forests, and in blowing up the bedrock of our nation. And I can't get over it. More...

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Dow and Monsanto Join Forces to Poison America's Heartland
by Richard Schiffman
Posted February 24, 2012

Addicted to chemicalsIn a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation's two leading producers of agrochemicals have joined forces in a partnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2,4-D, one half of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America's corn belt during the next decade.

Large-scale industrial farming has grown dependent on ever-increasing applications of agrochemicals. Some have compared this to a drug addict who requires larger and larger fixes to stay high. Herbicide use has increased steadily over time as weeds develop resistance and need to be doused with more and deadlier chemicals to kill them. This, in turn. requires more aggressive genetic engineering of crops that can withstand the escalating chemical assault. More...

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How "Occupy Our Homes" Can Win
by Amy Dean
Posted February 3, 2012

Occupy foreclosuresSince most of the original Occupy encampments were evicted by wintertime, the question now is, what's next for activists? One of the most popular suggestions is "Occupy Our Homes," a campaign in which occupiers around the country would do actions at foreclosed houses or at bailed-out banks that are throwing people out of their homes.

Since so many people in America are dealing with insecurity about their homes, the shift to doing foreclosure prevention and anti-eviction actions allows new groups of people with a clear sense of their own connection to the struggle to engage with the Occupy movement. Social movements at their best are about helping people take their individual troubles and link them to a public problem and shifting the focus from trying to personally cope to taking collective action. More...

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How Counties Can Use Land Banks and Eminent Domain
by Ellen Brown
Posted January 15, 2012

fraudulent foreclosureAn electronic database called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) has created defects in the chain of title to over half the homes in America. Counties have been cheated out of millions of dollars in recording fees, and their title records are in hopeless disarray. Meanwhile, foreclosed and abandoned homes are blighting neighborhoods. Straightening out the records and restoring the homes to occupancy is clearly in the public interest, and the burden is on local government to do it. But how? New legal developments are presenting some innovative alternatives.

The legal tide is turning against MERS and the banks, giving rise to some interesting possibilities for relief at the county level. Local governments have the power of eminent domain: they can seize real or personal property if (a) they can show that doing so is in the public interest, and (b) the owner is compensated at fair market value. More...

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Occupy Oakland and the Militarization of America's Police
by Charles P. Pierce
Posted October 31, 2011

MIlitary or police?Make no mistake about it: The actions of the police department in Oakland last night were a military assault on a legitimate political demonstration. That it was a milder military assault than it could have been, which is to say it wasn't a massacre, is very much beside the point. There was no possible provocation that warranted this display of force. (Graffiti? Litter? Rodents? Is the Oakland PD now a SWAT team for the city's health department?) If you are a police department in this country in 2011, this is something you do because you have the power and the technology and the license from society to do it. This is a problem that has been brewing for a long time. It predates the Occupy movement for more than a decade. It even predates the "war on terror," although that has acted as what the arson squad would call an "accelerant" to the essential dynamic.

Basic law enforcement in this country is thoroughly, totally militarized. It is militarized at its most basic levels. It is militarized at its highest command positions. It is militarized in its tactics, and its weaponry and, most important of all, in the attitude of the officers themselves, and in how they are trained. There is a vast militarized intelligence apparatus that leads, inevitably, to pre-emptive military actions, like the raids on protest organizations that were carried out in advance of the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Sooner or later, this militarized law enforcement was going to collide head-on with a movement of mass public protest, and the results were going to be ugly. More...

The roles of military and police are totally different. The job of the military is to kill, the job of police to protect. This blurring of the roles will ultimately cause a disaster.

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Quake risk to reactors greater than thought
by Dina Cappiello and Jeff Down
Posted September 5, 2011

Nuclear risks highThe risk that an earthquake would cause a severe accident at a U.S. nuclear plant is greater than previously thought, 24 times as high in one case, according to an AP analysis of preliminary government data. The nation's nuclear regulator believes a quarter of America's reactors may need modifications to make them safer.

The threat came into sharp focus last week, when shaking from the largest earthquake to hit Virginia in 117 years appeared to exceed what the North Anna nuclear power plant northwest of Richmond was built to sustain. More...

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Financial Meltdown: The Case Against the Ratings Agencies
by Michael Hudson
Posted August 22, 2011

Bankers' attack dogIn today's looming confrontation the ratings agencies are playing the political role of "enforcer" as the gatekeepers to credit, to put pressure on Iceland, Greece and even the United States to pursue creditor-oriented policies that lead inevitably to financial crises. These crises in turn force debtor governments to sell off their assets under distress conditions. In pursuing this guard-dog service to the world's bankers, the ratings agencies are escalating a political strategy they have long been refined over a generation in the corrupt arena of local U.S. politics.

Localities are pressured when their rising debt levels lead to a financial stringency. Banks pull back their credit lines, and urge cities and states to pay down their debts by selling off their most viable public enterprises. Offering opinions on this practice has become a big business for the ratings agencies. So it is understandable why their business model opposes policies – and political candidates – that support the idea of basing public financing on taxation rather than by borrowing. This self-interest colors their "opinions." More..

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Why one good teacher decided to quit
by Jamie Gumbrecht
Posted July 23, 2011

Good teacher quittingShe doesn't want to go. After 13 years of teaching high-level math, she has a tested stable of learning methods that helped all her students pass the AP calculus exam. Her room is a popular place for students to escape the drama of the high school cafeteria. Few jobs can indulge her excitement for linear functions and matrix calculus.

"I hate to have to leave it," DeRegnaucourt said. "I really thought I was going to be that teacher, 65 years old and retiring from the education field. That's not going to happen."

She's quitting, she said, because she can't afford to stay. More...

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The Politics of Education: The Assault on Teachers
by Thomas Santone
Posted July 20, 2011

Assault on teachersAccording to TeacherPortal.com, a starting teacher in New Jersey can expect an average yearly salary of $38,408. To put that in perspective, a family of four living on that salary is considered a low-income family in New Jersey, and they would be able to receive state assistance.

If you deduct the cost of health care under the new Pension and Health Care Reform Law, you would deduct about $5,000 annually. Also 7.5% will automatically get deducted for the pension. Also according to the College Board, public four-year colleges in New Jersey charged an average of $9,298 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. So using that math, a teacher would pay $37,192 for a four-year degree in Education. A loan for that amount payable over 10 years with 6.8% interest would cost $5,304 annually. Now we are down to $25,223 left over for food, clothes, shelter, transportation costs, and out of pocket teaching supplies. What else could those greedy teachers possibly want???? More...

People ask why public sector workers still have benefits: WRONG QUESTION! They should be asking why they do not.

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The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force
by Rania Khalek
Posted July 11, 2011

Police or military?Just after midnight on May 16, 2010, a SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of a 25-year-old man while his 7-year-old daughter slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. The grenade landed so close to the child that it burned her blanket. The SWAT team leader then burst into the house and fired a single shot which struck the child in the throat, killing her. The police were there to apprehend a man suspected of murdering a teenage boy days earlier. The man they were after lived in the unit above the girl's family.

The shooting death of Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones sounds like it happened in a war zone. But the tragic SWAT team raid took place in Detroit. Shockingly, paramilitary raids that mirror the tactics of US soldiers in combat are not uncommon in America. More...

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We Need Policy Not Plates
by Jillian Michaels
Posted June 12, 2011

Michelle ObamaFirst Lady Michelle Obama recently announced a change from the food pyramid as our government's primary food group symbol in favor of a simple plate icon, called MyPlate. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the new tool stresses which foods to add more of to your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains, while reducing others like sodium and sugary drinks.

The First Lady did admit the above is an issue: "It [MyPlate] can't ensure our communities have access to affordable fruits and vegetables," she said. "That's still work we need to do."While it's great that she is encouraging those issues as part of the public discussion, they need to be an urgent priority, certainly before the USDA unveils an illustration that doesn't really add anything new to the picture.

So what "work" is the current administration and USDA doing to combat that issue? Nothing. Wait, I take that back — worse than nothing. They are instrumental in perpetuating and even exacerbating the problem through our existing federal agribusiness policy. Our government essentially subsidizes soda, with literally billions of our tax dollars flowing to genetically modified corn in large part to produce high-fructose corn syrup. The message it sends to its citizens with MyPlate, however, is to "drink water instead of sugary drinks." What's also an infuriating contradiction is how the plate doesn't want us to drink sugary drinks, yet the USDA has no problem with the fact that millions of children drink chocolate milk at schools on a daily basis. Unless the government plans on matching crop subsidies to the recommendations of MyPlate (that is, subsidizing fruits and vegetables, rather than corn and soy to make nutritionally inferior processed garbage), nothing will change. In fact, the problem will only continue to get worse. More...

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January 9, 2009
Why we are here?
End the illusion, we cannot continue with “business as usual”
by Rudy Avizius

As one takes stock of what is happening to our nation, using simple common sense it becomes evident that things are not working. It does not take a PhD in economics or political science to figure out that things have gone horribly wrong on many fronts: economic, social, justice, community, environment, to name just a few.

It seems that our political leaders and government regulators have had their heads buried in the sand, ignoring the warning signs of the impending huge economic and financial storm that was brewing, all while taking contributions and being influenced by the very people who were driving our economy and nation over a cliff. Simultaneously while this was happening, the best our corporate controlled media could do was to lamely ask “are we in a recession yet”?

Click here for full article

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