Archive | Wall Street

85 Billionaires and the Better Half

Posted on 04 March 2014 by John Johnson

by Michael Parenti

An urban slum in Hanoi, Viet Nam. (Photo: Flickr / United Nations / Creative Commons)The world’s 85 richest individuals possess as much wealth as the 3.5 billion souls who compose the poorer half of the world’s population, or so it was announced in a report by Oxfam International. The assertion sounds implausible to me.  I think the 85 richest individuals, who together are worth many hundreds of billions of dollars, must have far more wealth than the poorest half of our global population.

How could these two cohorts, the 85 richest and 3.5 billion poorest, have the same amount of wealth? The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all. Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families. Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can. Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States.

“The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.”

Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income. About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day. And the poorest 50 percent  maintain only 7.2 percent of the world’s private consumption. How exactly could they have accumulated an amount of surplus wealth comparable to the 85 filthy richest?

Hundreds of millions live in debt even in “affluent” countries like the United States. They face health care debts, credit card debts, college tuition debts, and so on. Many, probably most who own homes—and don’t live in shacks or under bridges or in old vans—are still straddled with mortgages. This means their net family wealth is negative, minus-zero. They have no  propertied wealth; they live in debt.

Millions among the poorest 50 percent in the world may have cars but most of them also have car payments. They are driving in debt.  In countries like Indonesia, for the millions without private vehicles, there are the overloaded, battered buses, poorly maintained vehicles that specialize in breakdowns and ravine plunges. Among the lowest rungs of the 50 percent are the many who pick thru garbage dumps and send their kids off to work in grim, soul-destroying sweatshops.

The 85 richest in the world probably include the four members of the Walton family (owners of Wal-Mart, among the top ten superrich in the USA) who together are worth over $100 billion. Rich families like the DuPonts have controlling interests in giant corporations like General Motors, Coca-Cola, and United Brands. They own about forty manorial estates and private museums in Delaware alone and have set up 31 tax-exempt foundations. The superrich in America and in many other countries find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter much of their wealth in secret accounts. We don’t really know how very rich the very rich really are.

Regarding the poorest portion of the world population—whom I would call the valiant, struggling “better half”—what mass configuration of wealth could we possibly be talking about? The aggregate wealth possessed by the 85 super-richest  individuals, and the aggregate wealth owned by the world’s 3.5 billion poorest, are of different dimensions and different natures. Can we really compare private jets, mansions, landed estates, super luxury vacation retreats, luxury apartments, luxury condos, and luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars in equities, bonds, commercial properties, art works, antiques, etc.—can we really compare all that enormous wealth against some millions of used cars, used furniture, and used television sets, many of which are ready to break down?  Of what resale value if any, are such minor durable-use commodities, especially in communities of high unemployment, dismal health and housing conditions, no running water, no decent sanitation facilities, etc? We don’t really know how poor the very poor really are.

Millions of children who number in the lower 50 percent never see the inside of a school. Instead they labor in mills, mines and on farms, under conditions of peonage.  Nearly a billion people are unable to read or write. The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.

But for now, let me repeat: the world’s richest 85 individuals do not have the same amount of accumulated wealth as the world’s poorest 50 percent. They have vastly more. The multitude on the lower rungs—even taken as a totality—have next to nothing.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti’s recent books include: God and His Demons (Prometheus), Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights); Democracy for the Few, 9th ed. (Wadsworth); The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For further information, visit his website:

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March 2014 Calendar

Posted on 04 March 2014 by John Johnson


Pussy Riot Being Followed by the Moscow Police

Change Links

March 2014 Calendar

Volunteer: Change-Links

Change-Links needs a VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR to assist John in bringing together people to determine the necessary resources for continuing CL with the permanent, reliable status it enjoyed for over 20 years. The VC and all other positions are unpaid due to CL’s low budget and the fact that the newspaper is available free citywide and to subscribers at low cost.

Please help us with your volunteer services, your subscriptions and your donations! To apply, contact editor John Johnson (please send to both email addresses): <>, <>. (818) 782-1412, (818) 681-7448 cell.

March 1 ● Saturday

Political Action: Fukushima

No Nukes LA Residents, a small but determined group, will deliver a letter to the Japan Consulate at 350 South Grand Ave., Suite 1700, LA. Time TBD. Contact <>. Many other events this month for the third anniversary of the continuing nuclear accident: <>.

Political Action: Climate Action March/Fair

8:30 AM, Great March for Climate, kickoff & rally at Wilmington Waterfront Park, Wilmington, RSVP: <> (must be upper/lowercase as shown). The march continues toward Downtown LA/ USC & many marchers will continue to Washington DC to deliver the message that we need immediate legislative and executive action to solve the climate crisis. 11 AM – 1:30 PM, Climate Action Fair, Wilmington Athletic Complex, 1650 Figueroa St,, Wilmington. <> (must be upper/lowercase as shown), <>, <>.

Political Action: Great March for Climate Action

Join together for the largest coast-to-coast (Port of LA to Washington DC) climate march in American history! Kickoff & Rally. 9 AM. Wilmington Waterfront Park, Wilmington, CA. <>, search for “great march.”

Political Meeting: Military Families Speak Out

MFSO Orange County Chapter. 1st Saturdays monthly. 10 AM. Contact them for location, etc. (562) 833-8035. <>, <>.

Classes: Ecovillage Tours

History, context, accomplishments, pitfalls, transitions, plans and visions for this central city demonstration ecovillage neighborhood-in-process and its intentional community. Mar 1, 15, 29, Apr 12, 26. 10:30 AM – 1 PM. $10 sliding scale; $20 with vegetarian lunch. RSVP. LA EcoVillage, 117 Bimini Place, LA. (213) 738-1254. <>. <>.

Political Action: March Against Corruption

Raise awareness about the corrupting influence of money and special interests in governance and public policy making. Bring signs, drums, noisemakers, friends! Meetup 2 PM. City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., LA. <>.

Political Action: NSA Protest Rally

Join us as we speak out against the invasions of our privacy and against the growing police state. Inform the public. Talk to passer-bys, hand out flyers, and make sure they are informed. 3 PM. City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., LA. <>.

Political Meeting: SF Valley Socialists

Meetings usually 1st Saturdays monthly. 3–5 PM. Room 268, Sierra Hall, west side of CSU Northridge. <>.

Community Event: Pete Seeger Tribute

Performances, and Sing-a-longs by: The Lefteous Sisters, Ross Altman, Gary Gordon & more.

4-7 PM. $10 suggested donation, no one turned away. The Church In Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica. <>.

Talk: Michael Parenti

“Capitalism: Lost Prosperity, False Democracy.” 5 PM reception, 6 PM welcome & guest speaker. Donations requested but all are welcome! Sponsored by IAC-LA, SOAW-LA, Frank Dorrell & others. Echo Park United Methodist Church, 1226 N. Alvarado St. (at Sunset), LA. (323) 679-5023. <>.

Community Event: It Came from Venice

Art, music, poetry, dance celebration. 6-10 PM. Mar 1, 8 & 15. Free.  Sponto Gallery, 9 Dudley Ave., Venice. (310) 306-7330.

March 2 ● Sunday

Political Action: Arlington West Memorial

Volunteers desperately needed to keep the memorial going. Continuing every Sunday. Santa Monica. 6 AM – 4 PM. (323) 934-3451. <>.

Talk: Stop Jail Expansion

“Jail Expansion in L.A. County: How you can help to stop it.” & The Upcoming Sheriff Election. Noon potluck; 1-3 PM presentation. Sanctuary of Change. The Church In Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica. <>.

Art: Cuban Five

“I Will Die the Way I Lived.” Featuring 15 watercolor paintings by Cuban Five prisoner Antonio Guerrero, who learned to paint and draw from fellow inmates. Celebrate the scheduled release from prison of fellow political prisoner Fernando González. The Cuban Five a.k.a. “Los Five Cubanos” were unjustly convicted 15 years ago for preventing terrorist attacks against Cuba. Opening reception & program today, 2-4 PM. Exhibit runs thru Mar 30, Tue-Thu 10 AM – 4 PM, Fri/Sat Noon-8 PM. Coffee & Crepes, 4545 Cesar Chavez Ave. (Just E of the 710), East LA. (323) 263-4544, (323) 661-1980. <>. <>.

Political Meeting: OC Greens

March Speaker: Donald Craig, OC NAACP.  Normally 1st Sundays monthly. 2-3 PM general meeting; 304 PM County Council. Irvine Ranch Water District, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. (949) 559-7336. <>, <>. <>, <>.

March 3 ● Monday

Political Action: Fullerton 14 Court Support

The ten people arrested at the Kelly Thomas rally Jan 18 (mostly unlawfully) & charged with failure to disperse are in court today. 8 AM. North Justice Center, 1275 N. Berkeley Ave., Fullerton. Video on the rally: <>. <>.

Political Action: Statewide Student March

To demand fulfillment of student needs including sustaining ethnic studies and increasing student & staff/faculty racial diversity. 10 AM – Noon. From 400 Ballpark Dr, W. Sacramento to CA State Capitol, 1315 10th St., Sacramento. <>.

Political Action: Fukushima Commemoration & Peace Walk

Third Anniversary Commemoration, 5:30-7:30 PM, free & open to the public,  University Club of Santa Barbara, 1332 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara. Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free World, March 4-11, Santa Barbara to Diablo Canyon NPP, ending with an all day vigil. Followed by Fukushima Commemoration, 7 PM, Steynberg Gallery, San Luis Obispo, details: <>.

Film: “Blockadia Rising”

A documentary about the direct ation group Tar Sands Blockade fighting construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Followed by a discussion. Films for Flight film series screening a soclai justice themed film 1st Mondays monthly. The movie will start at 7:00PM but feel free to come earlier. Animal Farm collective house, San Diego. Contact for the address via <> or <>.  <>.

Talk: ImaginAction

We use theatre to create rituals, allowing participants to recreate themselves and the community around them. Co-sponsors: SOAW, Program for Torture Victims (PTV) & others. $25. RSVP: Call or send checks to “ImaginAction,” 788 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre CA. 91024. Venue: Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica. (310) 345-4883, (310) 940-7303. <>. <>.

March 4 ● Tuesday

Stand in Peace

Stand in Peace Tustin Common Ground is a spiritual community. Several members hold signs reading “Imagine Peace.” Every Tuesday. 4-5 PM. Tustin Common Ground. Prospect Ave. (at Irvine, NW Corner), Tustin. (714) 961-5439. <>. <>.

Books: McLuhan-Finnegans Wake Reading Club

1st Tuesdays monthly. 6-8 PM. Free. Marina Del Rey Library, 4533 Admirality Way, MDR. (310) 821-3415. <>.

Community Event: Transgender Social Support Group

For transgender people of all stages and gender variance or questioning gender identity and for friends & family. Not a dating, romance or singles group. Every Wednesday. 7-9 PM. Suggested donation $5; no one turned away. South Bay LGBT Center, 16610 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. (310) 328-6550, (310) 217-9202. <>. <>.

March 5 ● Wednesday

Political Meeting: Counter Recruitment

Regular monthly meeting of Glendale Education/Social Justice Advocates. Working to encourage GUSD to provide balanced information about military recruiting & other social issues. Students, parents, community members are invited. Usually 1st Wednesdays monthly. 6-8 PM. Pacific Park Library, 501 S. Pacific Ave., Glendale. (818) 248-4967. <>.

Film: “Kangamba”

Kangamba is a small Angola town where a 1983 battle between Angolan soldiers & Cuban allies against paramilitaries aligned with apartheid South Africa’s government. The greatly outnumbered Angolan & Cuban forces were ultimately victorious. The film also covers the battle’s larger consequences on the African independence struggle and against apartheid.  The Cuba in Revolution film series continues with more films every Wednesdays thru Apr 9. 7 PM. ANSWER office, 135 E. 3rd St., Downtown LA. (323) 394-3611. <>. <>.

Political Meeting: DFA-OC

Monthly meeting of Democracy for America Orange County. February speakers on “It’s Women’s History Month – So Where Are We After All This Time?” Normally 1st Wednesdays monthly. Social 6:15 PM; program 7:15 PM. Karl Strauss Brewery, Metropointe Shopping Center, 901 South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa. <> or contact form at <>.

March 6 ● Thursday

Political Meeting: Long Beach Greens

1st Thursdays monthly. A local group of activists working for a fair economy, a just society & a sustainable future. 7 PM. Contact them for location and to verify meeting time. <longbeach (at)>. <>.

Film: Peace & Justice

March film: “Chisholm ‘72: Unbought & Unbossed.”  Usually 1st Thursdays monthly. Whittier Area Peace & Justice Coalition. 7-9 PM. St. Matthias Episcopal Church, 7056 Washington Ave. (NE corner @ Wardman St.), Whittier. (562) 587-6270, (562) 233-8579. <>.

Political Meeting: ACLU Orange County

Usually 1st Thursdays monthly. 7:30 PM. (714) 956-5037. Call for location. <>.

March 7 ● Friday

Community Event: LGBT Chat Night

7-10 PM. Suggested donation $5; no one turned away. Refreshments included. South Bay LGBT Center, 16610 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. (310) 328-6550, (310) 217-9202.

<>. <>.

Film: TPA Film Night

March film: “Fear Not the Path of Truth: A Veteran’s Journey After Fallujah.” Please bring a vegetarian pot luck snack or non-alcoholic drink to share.  Topanga Peace Alliance. Usually 1st Fridays monthly. Doors open at 7 PM, screening at 7:30 PM sharp. Parking under the library. Topanga Library, 122 N. Topanga Cyn. Blvd., Topanga. (310) 795-1373. <>. <>.

March 8 ● Saturday

Community Event: Mujeres de Maiz

A Season of spiritual artivist happenings to honor Womyn in mind, body and spirit. Programming, including over 14 events is in collaboration with various collectives & organizations across the Eastside. Mar 8 – May 18. <>.

Classes: Intro to Documentary Filmmaking

Learn storytelling, interview technique & other fundamentals. No previous filmmaking experience necessary. All equipment and materials provided. Eight Saturdays starting Mar 8. 10 AM – 12:30 PM. Limit of 6 students. $250. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St. (at  Sunset), LA. (213) 484 – 8846. <>. <>.

Community Event: Fukushima

“Love to Nippon 2014 – Lessons Learned from the March 11 th Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.” 1-4 PM, interfaith service & prayers, flower & incense offerings, booths . 3-5 PM, memorial program. Memorial program seating limited; RSVP. Ronald F. Deaton Civic Auditorium, LAPD HQ, 100 W. 1st St., LA. <>.

Community Event: Intl. Women’s Day

“Women against Repression & Occupation – Rock, Rap & Speakout vs Poverty, Prisons & War.” Concert & Speakout. Local musicians, performing artists, poets & people speaking on issues of vital interest and concern to women and to our communities. With people’s art show, children’s activities, food & more. Part of global actions are called by Global Women’s Strike. Gather at 2 PM. MacArthur Park, Wilshire Blvd. (between Alvarado & Park), LA. (323) 276-9833. <>. <>, search for “los angeles.”

Community Event: Intl. Women’s Day

Socialist Party LA Local International Women’s Day community outreach. The LA Local & friends are meeting at the Hauser office to deliver flowers to the women of the community surrounding the office. Please join us to make this a truly special day for the women of our community! 2 PM. 2617 Hauser Blvd., LA. <>.

Books: Revolution Books Book Club.

2nd Saturdays monthly. 2 PM.  Revolution Books/ Libros Revolución, 5726 Hollywood Blvd, LA. (323) 463-3500. <>. <>.

Media: Ross Altman

Interview with the folk singer. MESS. 2nd Saturdays monthly. 4 PM. Free. Unurban, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 315-0056. <>.

Film: “Race & Space in Los Angeles

Shorts about race and place in Los Angeles, featuring 16mm films about the coming of Dodger Stadium to Chavez Ravine in the 1950s, growing up in Watts in the 1960s, and the black community in Venice. Introduction & discussion by Dr. Marsha Gordon (NC State University) and Dr. Allyson Nadia Field (UCLA). Projection by Dino Everett (USC). Prints provided by UCLA and USC. 8 PM.  Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N Alvarado St. (at Sunset) Los Angeles. (213) 484 – 8846. <>. <>.

March 9 ● Sunday

Political Meeting: Humanist Association of LA

Usually 2nd Sundays monthly. 11 AM. Contact them to check. Colorado Center, Community Room, 2500 Broadway, Santa Monica. (310) 479-2236. <larry-a-taylor (at) att (dot) net>. <>. For other locations, click on “Southern California Freethought groups.”

Community Event: Judy Abdo’s Brother Celebration of Life for SM activist Judy Abdo’s brother Richard James Ulrich. 4-6 PM. The Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica.

March 10 ● Monday

Film: Tiffany Shlain

“ Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death, & Technology” and short films by her.

Film & interview. Plus 8 PM, sneak preview/test screening of new political health film. Documental. 2nd Mondays monthly. 6-10 PM. Free. Unurban, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 315-0056. <>.

Film: Ruben Salazar

“Ruben Salazar: Man In The Middle.” Examines the life & death of pioneering journalist Ruben Salazar, killed under mysterious circumstances by a law enforcement officer in 1970 in the aftermath of the National Chicano Moratorium protest march against the Vietnam war in East LA. 7-10 PM. Free. CSULB University Theatre, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach. <>.

Political Meeting: Three Strikes

Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS). 2nd/4th Mondays monthly. Help them amend Three Strikes to apply to violent felonies only. 7 PM. Other chapters on the website. Chico’s Justice Center, 1137 E. Redondo Blvd., Inglewood. (213) 746-4844. <>.

Political Meeting: SF Valley Greens

2nd Mondays monthly. Open & free to the public. 7 PM. Free. 8847 Penfield, Northridge. (818) 380-1252, (818) 515-8541.

March 11 ● Tuesday

Film: “Metamorphosis”

By Jun Hori. Hori is a noted Japanese television journalist & commentator. His documentary video explores the Japanese citizen reaction to the Fukushima reactor meltdowns, and public opposition to government proposals to reopen Japan’s remaining 50 reactors. “Metamorphosis” also explores several nuclear accident sites in the United States, including Three Mile Island. Also, an ongoing photographic art exhibit at the gallery thru Apr 26, “Silent but Deadly: Chernobyl- Fukushima- San Onofre.” 7 PM. BC Space Gallery, 235 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. (949) 497-1880, (949) 697-5237. <>.

Forum: Women’s Rights

Addressing gender & racial inequities in education, wages, health services access, provision and consumption of care, poverty rates from childhood through retirement, immigrant reunification/detention/deportation, criminal incarceration, and recidivism. Free & open to the public; RSVP recommended. 7-9 PM. Hollywood United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. <>, <>.

Film: “Surviving Japan”

A powerful film about the tsunami, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster’s aftermath. 7:30-9:35 PM. Advance ticket purchase at their website. Laemmle’s Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd, West LA. (310) 478-3836. <>, <>.

March 12 ● Wednesday

Political Meeting: United Nations Women

LA Chapter general meeting. Formed to promote the status of women worldwide. 2nd Wednesdays monthly. 7 PM. National Council of Jewish Women, 543 N. Fairfax, LA.  (310) 450-3396. <>, <>, <>. <>.

Music: Suzy Williams

2nd Wednesdays monthly. 7-10 PM. Free.  Dannys, 23 Windward Ave., Venice. (310) 450-6052. <>.

Talk: Where’s Edward Snowden?

“Civil Liberties in the National Security Era: What Happened to Edward Snowden?” Sponsored by Caltech “Y” Social Activism Speaker Series & ACLU of Southern CA. 7:30 PM.Beckman Institute Auditorium, Caltech, 1200 E. California Blvd, Pasadena. Park in Caltech parking structures; meters free after 5 PM. (213) 977-9500.

March 13 ● Thursday

Political Action: Long Beach Peace Vigil

Long Beach Area Peace Network organizing to stop the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan and to promote social justice in our community. 2nd Thursdays monthly. 7 PM. Catalyst Meeting Space, 430 E. First St., Long Beach. <>.

Film: Conscientious Projector

March film: “Elemental: Three Stories. Three Continents. One Commitment to Change” (<>).  Special Ten Year Anniversary meeting. Usually 2nd Thursdays monthly. 7 PM. (310) 782-4738, (626) 792-4941. Armory Center for the Arts, 145 North Raymond Ave.,  Pasadena. <>, <>. (Sites on facebook may require membership.)

Political Meeting: Healthcare For All LA

Screening the documentary “Got Healthcare?” with the 2009 protests around Healthcare reform proposals then being developed, lobbied and legislated by Congress. Filmmaker/producer Jon Raymond hosts a Q&A after the showing. Film clips: <>. 7-9 PM. Don White Meeting Room, Peace Center, 3916 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, Parking lot and entrance behind the building. Press 22 at the door. (310) 459-9763. <>. <> (click on “local chapters,” then on “los angeles county”).

Political Meeting: Healthcare For All SFV

San Fernando Valley chapter meeting. Advocating for Improved Medicare (single-payer health care) for All Californians. 7:30 PM.  Switching to: 2nd Thursdays monthly. New Location: Plaza del Valle Community Room/ Salon Comunitario, 8610 Van Nuys Blvd., Panorama City. In plaza behind Wells Fargo Bank; plenty of free parking. (818) 766-7318. <>. <> (click on “local chapters” then on “san fernando valley”), <>. (Sites on facebook may require membership.)

March 14 ● Friday

Submit: ARE Scholarships                     

For undocumented HS & college students. Deadline today. <>.

Political Action: Vandenberg

“Vandenberg’s Role in US Global Domination: Implications of US ‘Pivot’ into the Asia-Pacific.” Global Network 2014 Space Conference, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. Mar 14-16. Santa Barbara, CA. With vigil at Vandenberg AFB. (207) 443-9502. <> . <>.

Community Event: LGBT Game Night

A night of games, puzzles, conversation and refreshments. Also Mar 28. 7-10 PM. Suggested donation $5; no one turned away. South Bay LGBT Center, 16610 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. (310) 328-6550, (310) 217-9202. <>. <>.

March 15 ● Saturday

Submit: What is Anarchism?

500 word essay contest. Prizes to $25 AK Press gift card. Pulbication in Black Flag. Multiple submissions welcome. Email <> or <> to submit or for more information. Deadline *tonight* at midnight.

March 16 ● Sunday

Discussion: “The Nation”

Magazine readers’ group. 3rd Sundays monthly. 2:30 PM. (310) 398-2428.

Political Meeting: Jericho

3rd Sundays monthly. 4 PM: letter writing to prisoners. Followed at 5 PM by the monthly general meeting of the Inter-Communal Solidarity Committee. Left Side Lounge, 1905 Rodeo Road between Western and Arlington. 4 PM. (310) 495-0299. <>. <>.

March 17 ● Monday

Community Event: PFLAG

Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays. 7 PM. Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, 26438 Crenshaw, Rolling Hills. (310) 831-2967.

March 18 ● Tuesday

Political Action: OC Code Pink Vigil

3rd Tuesdays monthly. 5:30-7 PM. Plaza Square Park, Traffic Circle at Glassell & Chapman, Orange. (562) 833-8035. <>. <>.

March 19 ● Wednesday

Media: 2014 Homeless Marathon

If anyone is interested in working on street interviews or segments, contact Jeremy Alderson at <> well in advance of the event.

Film: “The Greening of Cuba”

After the imposition of capitalism on Eastern Europe in the early 90s, Cuba lost trading partners & allies. Lacking vital imports of fertilizers & petroleum, the Cuban people waged a titanic and successful campaign to revolutionize their agriculture, creating the only large-scale renewable agricultural system on the planet. 7 PM  Answer Office, 135 E 3rd St, Downtown LA. (323) 394-3611. <>.

Political Meeting: LA Greens

3rd Wednesdays monthly. 7 PM. Call them for the meeting location (the Peace Center has moved). (323) 651-5539. <>.

Media: MOM

Meditations On Media. Gerry Fialkas stimulating soiree stirs up discussion to reveal the hidden effects of what humans have invented. 3rd Wednesdays monthly. 7-10 PM. Free. Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 822-3006. <>.

Discussion: “Monthly Review”

Readers’ discussion group. 3rd Wednesdays monthly. 7:30 PM. Yahoo Colorado Center, Community Room, 2500 Broadway, Santa Monica. (310) 390-0306.

March 20 ● Thursday

Political Meeting: SFV Atheists United

Usually 3rd Thursdays monthly (Feb 20), 6:30 PM, Kountry Folks Restaurant, 8501 Sepulveda Blvd., North Hills, (818) 988-2806 (after 5 PM), <>. Also other chapters. (866) GOD-LESS, (323) 666-4258. <>.

Political Meeting: Peace & Freedom Party

Open to all Peace & Freedom Party registrants. Normally 3rd Thursdays monthly. 7 PM. 2617 S. Hauser Blvd, L.A. (323) 960-5036. <pfplosangeles (at)>. <>. See other local chapters on the website (click on contact, local organizations): Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bern., San Diego, SLO & Ventura Counties.

Poetry: Fightin Words

Open Mic to Stop Police Brutality. Hosted by Oct. 22 Coalition. 3rd Thursdays monthly. Call to be sure its happening. 8-11 PM. Chuco’s Justice Center, 1137 E. Redondo Blvd., Inglewood. (323) 235-4243 , (323) 446-7459. <>.

March 21 ● Friday

Film: LGBT Center Movie Night

Movie selection determined by those present. 7 PM. Suggested donation $5; no one turned away. Refreshments. South Bay LGBT Center, 16610 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. (310) 328-6550, (310) 217-9202. <>. <>.

March 22 ● Saturday

Classes: Tijuana Maquiladora Tour

Come to learn about Tijuana communities and workers’ conditions and struggles! Passport or other documentation needed. $30. 9 AM – 3 PM. Tour registration & info: <>.

Community Event: Tia Chucha’s 13th Anniversary

With live art, cultural tianguis, food vendors, community fandango, & many more surprises. Noon – 6 PM. Free. Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore, 13197 Gladstone Ave., Unit A, Sylmar. <>.

Community Service: Fair Chance Project

A free legal clinic especially created for those impacted by the prison system. Usually 4th Saturdays monthly. 1:30-3:30 PM (contact them to verify date/time). Chuco’s Justice Center, 1137 E. Redondo Beach Blvd., Inglewood. (310) 677-7445. <>. <>.

March 23 ● Sunday

Political Meeting: LA Atheists United

4th Sundays monthly. 11 AM – 2 PM. Center for Inquiry West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 666-9797. <>. Also other chapters. (866) GOD-LESS, (323) 666-4258. <>.

Film: Natasha Maidoff Live Cinema

Venice artist Maidoff’s work-in-progress. The Sleepwalker magically merges live dance and video projection performance to expand the viewing experience. Also, Curator Lance Richter screens rare experimental films. 7 Dudley Cinema. 4th Sundays monthly. Free. Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 822-3006. <>.

March 25 ● Tuesday

Political Meeting: Police Victims Support

Have you or a family member been brutalized by the police? SPIRIT (Support & Partnership In Respect & In Trust). Regular meetings last Tuesdays monthly. 7-9 PM. Contact them to verify info. Youth Justice Coalition/ Chuco’s Justice Center, 253 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., LA. (323) 369-9662, (323) 235-4243. <>.

March 26 ● Wednesday

Community Meeting: Activist  Support Circle

Program TBD. Call to verify. 6:30 PM refreshments; 7 PM program. Friends Meeting Hall, 1440 Harvard Street, Santa Monica. (310) 399-1000. <>. <>.

March 27 ● Thursday

Film: Coastal Convergence Society

Free video night. Meet local peace & justice neighbors for free food, video & discussion. You can bring your own video. Last Thursdays monthly. 7 PM. Contact them for directions.  Huntington Beach. (714) 964-2162. <>.

Film: Miko Revereza

Revereza was born in Manila and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. A screening of his work created in LA AIR’s artist-in-residence program utilizing EPFC resources in creating new work over a 4 week period. 8PM. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N Alvarado St. (at Sunset), LA. (213) 484 – 8846. <>. <>.

March 28 ● Friday

Political Meeting: Center for Inquiry Dinners

Atheists, freethinkers, secular humanists, skeptics, nonbelievers, agnostics & inquiring minds welcome. Hosted by Rachel Sene and Jay Johnson. 4th Fridays monthly (not 5th Fridays). 6:30 PM dinner; 7:30 PM discussion followed by unstructured socializing. WLA Grill, 11407 Santa Monica Blvd., West LA. (310) 780-7363, (310) 488-7431. (Dial *82 to unblock if you want a callback.) <>.

Political Meeting: Change-Links

Regular monthly mailing meeting for this newspaper. Noon. Contact us for location and to verify time. (818) 782-1412, (818) 681-7448. <>. <>.


April 2

Film: “De Cierta Manera – One Way or Another”

A 1974 Cuban film that depicts life in poor neighborhoods in Cuba shortly after the revolution. The Cuba in Revolution film series continues with more films every Wednesdays thru Apr 9. 7 PM. ANSWER office, 135 E. 3rd St., Downtown LA. (323) 394-3611. <>. <>.

April 4

Conference: Labor Notes

Apr 4-6. Chicago, IL. (718) 284-4144. <>, click on events.

April 6

Community Event: Beyond Baroque Awards Dinner

Honoring poet/educator/publisher, William Mohr, and poet/publisher Rick Lupert. 6 PM. Advance tickets required: <>. The Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica. (310) 822-3006. <>. <>.


Please call all Ongoing events to confirm and let us know about any updates.

Alternate Calendar sources:

LA County: Dick & Sharon’s LA Progressive. <>, look under “events.” Orange County: Orange County Democracy for America (DFA): <>. Orange County Peace Coalition (separate calendar): <>. San Diego County: Activist San Diego, <>, click on “Calendar;” Occupy San Diego Calendar, <>. Santa Barbara County: Join listserve via <> or <>.


March 1

Tenants Rights

The Coalition for Economic Survival, with 27 years in working for tenants rights and other issues. Two meetings weekly to help tenants. Every Wed. 7 PM & every Sat. 10 AM. Plummer Park, Community Center, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood. (213) 252-4411, (323) 656-4410. <>. <>.

March 6

Acting Workshop for Vets

To train actors for performance & to help individuals heal, grow & learn via “drama therapy.” Donation, register online. Contact them for location and to see whether classes are in session. The Veterans Project. 7-10 PM. Every Thursday. Also community theater & interpersonal communication skills workshops. 3916 Sepulveda, LA. (310) 842-8794. <>. <>.

Young Warriors

“For youth by youth” program guiding them into meeting the challenge of their own struggle, Everyone has something to offer to better our future! Contact them for time and place.

(818) 913-1968, (818) 939-3433. <>, <>. <>, <>.


Alternative Radio

Weekly hour-long ongoing series. Featuring speakers like Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Chris Hedges & Howard Zinn. <>.

l.a. activist

LA activism journal. <>.

Left Wing Radio Stations


Progressive AM Talk Radio

Randi Rhodes (<>), M-F, Noon – 3 PM. Mike Malloy (<>; also <>: search for “malloy”) Thom Hartmann (<>), radio & TV.

Progressive Podcast

The Rational Radical. Long time activist and subscriber to Change Links, Jerold Block hosts a popular progressive Podcast. <>. <>.

Progressive Radio

From Matt Rothschild of The Progressive magazine. <>.

Raza Press & Media Association

“The only Mexican-Raza journalist organization consistently advancing and building revolutionary anti-imperialist media.” <>.

Vegan Radio

“Go Vegan with Bob Linden.” Broadcast stations & show times on website (frequent changes). Also archives & podcasts. <>. <>.


Michael Slate

Fridays, 10-11 AM, KPFK 90.7 FM. <>.

Political Action/Meetings:

Vigils, Meetings & Demonstrations: Due to space constraints we may not list all of these in our print edition but they are on our website.

March 2

RAC Food Program

Revolutionary Autonomous Communities Food Program, a mutual-aid project organizing & distributing food in its home neighborhoods. Volunteers needed. Usually every Sunday. 10 AM – 5 PM. MacArthur Park, SW Corner of Wilshire  Blvd. & Park View Ave. <>. <>.

March 4

Occupy Fights Foreclosures

(323) 696-0596. <>. <>, <>.

March 4

Occupy Venice

General Assembly. Continuing every Tue/Thu. 7 PM. 1354 Abbot Kinney (on the back patio), Venice. <>, <>.

March 6

GA Drone Demonstrations

Weekly demonstrations at General Atomics in Poway.  GA makes the Predator Drone. Contact them to verify details. San Diego Veterans For Peace. Thursdays. 4–6 PM. Poway CA. (760) 207-9139. <>.

Women Organizing for Justice

A leadership development program seeking to increase the participation of formerly incarcerated and other women in the struggle for social justice. Focusing on criminal justice reform. (323) 563-3575. <>, <>. <>

Volunteer Opportunities:

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs (FNB) shares free vegan food with the homeless and all others in need in protest against the effects of capitalism & military spending. All FNB collectives need volunteers. Global directories: <> (click on “find your local chapter”). Group updates may be sent to: <> and the worldwide listserve (subscribe at: <>). Always verify that FNB serving listings are up to date.

Sharing Food

Michael Hubman and others run “Right to Share Food” bringing food & water to the folks living on LA’s Skid Row. (714) 227-2217. <>. <>, <>. (These websites may not be up to date.)


Community Services:

Bartering Groups

Get goods and services without cash; trade without banks or a money system. Local community based finance groups are listed at <>. Click on Membership then Membership Directory in the drop-down menu. Use “los angeles” for a search phrase.

Car-Free Living

Auto-Free Orange County: <>. Car-Free Santa Barbara: <>. <>. Also, a worldwide network of car-free resources: <>. And we’d like to know about local sites for other regions in SoCal.

Free Fruit

A free fruit treasure map of your neighborhood. Map locations you know about; visit places others have posted. This is potentially a *worldwide* resource. <>.

Homeless & Hungry

“Peoples Guide.” How to get food, money, housing, health care & other help from government programs and community services if you live in LA County and need help in hard times. Online or order printed copies. Hunger Action LA (HALA). <>. (213) 388-8228. 2012 version is online at <>. New 2013-2014 editions now available.

Homeless Resources

“Street Lawyer: A WIKI to End and Prevent Homelessness,” <>. Westside Live Food Calendar: <>, click on “iEat.” Or go to <>, search for “food programs in west hollywood” then find the document in the list (document dated 2012-02). “Los Angeles Homeless Resource Wiki,” <> (try clicking on the logo on the upper left to access content). And many other online local resources can be found by searching for “los angeles homeless resources” (change the locale if necessary).


Santa Monica/Venice Food Programs. Westside LIVE Food Calendar. <>, click on “iEat;” current calendar is at bottom.

LA Intentional Community Networking

Many alternative housing options. <>.

Market Match Program

Helping boost buying power for seniors and low income families at many SoCal farmers’ markets. CalFresh, WIC and SSI participants get $5-10 weekly to spend at the market. <>,  see “market match” at top of website.

Radical Guide to LA

From the 2011 Anarchist Bookfair. Places to eat, drink, visit, radical history, places to stay, links to radical organizations, etc. <>, click on

Search & Seizure Law

Updated 2012-09. <>, click on the “Case Documents” tab & look for “Search and Seizure.”

Unemployed Resources

An online LA Indymedia article lists a number of resources for those who are struggling in our economy: <>. (You may choose to click through a “site warning”; if so, “buyer beware.”)

Women’s Non-Violence Centers

<>, then “Help for Victims,” then “How To Start an Independent Advocacy Center to End Violence Against Women … and Why.” Also other info helping women help themselves.


Sustainable Living & Farming Jobs

And other “short term job opportunities.” <>.

Military & Draft:

Conscientious Objectors

Linking up with one of the following groups is the first step recommended for obtaining CO status: Center on Conscience & War (CCW) <>, Courage to Resist (CTR) <> or GI Rights Hotline <>.

Counter Recruitment

Palisadians for Peace conducts High School campus visits weekly when schools are in session. Usually early morning (onsite about 7 AM). They also canvass other events and distribute information pamphlets in commercial & residential areas offering alternatives and factual information countering relentless military campus recruitment. Volunteers needed. (310) 573-1901. <>. (This email address may be bad– “over quota.”)

Counter Recruitment

National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth. Retains resources & pamphlets and a list of organizations involved in CR work on their website. Check out their “Alternatives to the Military” (its on the left side of the page) that lists job resources for those who feel that the military is their only option. <>. Resources for Educators to Stop the War: <>, click on “Counter-Recruitment.” Project YANO (Youth and Non-military Opportunities), <>.

Counter Recruitment.

OC Recruitment Awareness Project. New volunteers urgently needed. If you can spare 90 minutes at 7 A.M. once a month during the new school year, please contact us immediately. (949) 492-0571. <>. <>,  <>.

GI Rights

Hotlines: (800) 394-9544 & (877) 447- 4487. Email them for sample info cards & stickers with a price list: <>. <>.


The Pentagon, in violation of the Privacy Act, has compiled and put into use a mega-database of private information on 30 million 16-25-year-olds. Even if you have opted your child out of the lists public schools turn over to local military recruiters, you or your child must also contact the Pentagon directly to get off this new national military recruiting list. More information on their website. Leave My Child Alone. <>.

PTSD Resources

The Wounded Warrior Call-Center: (877) 487-6299, a hotline for injured, wounded or ill former and current Marines, Sailors & their family members. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255). SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education): <>. Vets 4 Vets: (520) 319-5500, <>, a peer support group for recent vets. National Veterans Foundation: (888) 777-4443, <>. Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injuries (DCoE): <>, <>. Licensed mental health professionals who offer free psychological treatment to military service members who have served or who expect to serve in the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan: <>. We do not vouch for any of these being *progressive* resources. (Sites on facebook may require membership.)

Recruiter Abuse Hotline (877) 688-6881.



Underground War Resisters

House a soldier/resister on the way to Canada. The War Resisters Support Campaign has been inundated with requests considering emigration. (416) 598-1222, (647) 393-3096. <>.

Police & Migrant Issues:

Checkpoint Response

To report a checkpoint from local news or your observation, or to receive text alerts, please email: / Para divulgar un punto de comprobación de noticias locales o de su observación, o recibir alarmas del texto, envíe por correo electrónico por favor: <>. Also see: <>.


Useful for people who have been brutalized, harassed, or had family members murdered by the police. (877) 4-LA1992, (877) 8NO – COPS. Look on their website for a police activity and ICE raids mobile phone alert service. Report a Cop and Copwatch LA Radio online; also text alerts. Many other features. <>. <>, <>. Also RTF National Mobile Cop Watch Network; info: <>.

Police Brutality

CopWatch LA: see above. October 22 Coalition LA, <> or NY Central office at <> and ask for a referral to Oct 22 LA. CAHRO (California Association of Human Relations Organizations), 320 West Temple St., #1184, Los Angeles, CA 90012, (213) 974-7601, <>. LA County Human Relations Commission, (213) 737-7463. Idris Stelley Foundation (ISF, SF Bay area) 24 HR Bilingual Crisis line at (415) 595-8251 for referrals, <>, <>. (Sites on myspace may require membership.)

Security Culture for Activists

A free e-book provided by the Ruckus Society. <>.

Slavery & Trafficking

Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), 5042 Wilshire Blvd., #586, LA CA 90036. (213) 365-1906. <>.

Undocumented Students

Student Rights: <>, click on education, public policy then AB540. Scholarships: Association of Raza Educators (ARE) sponsors a continuing project (donations & applications, <>, click on “scholarship donate.” <>).


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It’s the Physical Cliff, Stupid

Posted on 05 December 2012 by John Johnson

It’s the Physical Cliff, Stupid

We can lead at Doha and address our economic woes

by John Atcheson

OK.  There’s the fiscal cliff – a self-inflicted economic hotfoot, but nothing irrevocable.

Then there’s the physical cliff – the remorseless warming of our planet driven by human emissions and the laws of physics, already irrevocable, and drifting toward a full-scale planetary disaster of biblical proportions if we don’t take drastic actions.

As the world meets at Doha, Qatar for yet another attempt to reign in global warming, guess which one the press, Congress, pundits, the president and other assorted beltway seers are obsessing on?

You got it.  The fiscal cliff.

And while the fiscal cliff could hurt many people for an election cycle or two, its effects are limited in time and geography, and it is easily avoided using popular policies, assuming a little guts and leadership from Democrats and the President.

Global warming, on the other hand, is … well … global.  We’re already locked into severe adverse consequences for centuries, and scientists believe that unless we do something drastic and soon, it is likely to trigger feedbacks which make the world warmer than any of our models suggest.  Ultimately, over the long term, methane releases from clathrates and permafrost could become self-reinforcing, proceeding on their own power and raising temperatures far higher than anything the Earth has experienced in over 55 million years and keeping them there for eons.

The litany of horror the physical cliff would create is long and dire.  Extinction of half of all species, sea levels rising continuously for centuries, a billion refugees by 2050, record droughts, expanding deserts, famine, epic storms, as many as a billion deaths … on and on and on.

The fiscal cliff?  Certainly it could impose hardships on people.  The enforced austerity would likely do here in the US, what it is doing in Europe – cause a deep and serious recession.  But this would be reversible.  We’d need only quit swallowing Republican talking points about austerity, government incompetence, and the mythical power of the private sector to confer prosperity by pure serendipity … to turn our economy around.

If we’re smart, the policies we use to cut greenhouse gasses could cut the deficit, create jobs and save the economy while saving the world.

As we go into the Doha talks you’ll hear conservatives saying we can’t afford to tackle climate change while the economy is down, because cutting fossil fuel use would hurt our economy.

But here’s the thing.  If we’re smart, the policies we use to cut greenhouse gasses could cut the deficit, create jobs and save the economy while saving the world.

For example, clean energy investments create three times as many jobs per dollar than spending on fossil fuel does. And as more people work, the economy flourishes, tax revenue goes up, and government expenditures go down.  Which of course, cuts deficits.  So jobs go up while emissions go down.

And a modest carbon tax would raise as much as $1.25 trillion in revenue over the next decade, while cutting carbon.

Given this reality, every dollar we spend on fossil fuels at the expense of clean energy, actually destroys jobs and costs us money.

You’d think, given this reality and the mandate Democrats got in the recent election, the President would be putting together a strategy that uses increased taxes on the rich, and cuts to fossil fuel subsidies to fund investments in clean energy infrastructure.  Not only would this create jobs, but it would position the US to be a leader in the manufacture of clean energy infrastructure and hardware – the technology of the 21st Century.

And then there’s that save the world thing.

Yet shortly after the election, Obama had this to say about climate change and the economic crisis:

Understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that. I won’t go for that.

Really, Mr. President?  Business leaders know better.   Here’s what a GE Vice President had to say about this false dichotomy:

There’s this theory that you have to pick one: economics or environmental performance. That’s nonsense. Innovation is the way you can have both.

Last year clean energy technology generated more than a trillion dollars to our economy.  Next year it will exceed that.  And prices for renewable energy are plummeting, while the cost of oil and coal is going up.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that if you want jobs, growth and tax revenue, you want to put your money into clean energy.

But it does take leadership and a little political courage to take on the new axis of stupidity and greed formed by the Republican Party and fossil fuel interests.

Doha will mark a turning point in history.  The path we take will define our future.  Down one path is devastation, widespread misery, and irrevocable loss.  Down the other is prosperity and a sustainable world.

The choice is ours. The time is now.  History will hardly note what we did with the fiscal cliff, but if we fail to address the physical cliff, we will be judged and found wanting.


John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on


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The Growing Global Movement Against Austerity

Posted on 05 December 2012 by John Johnson

The Growing Global Movement Against Austerity

by Amy Goodman

Amaia Engana didn’t wait to be evicted from her home. On Nov. 9, in the town of Barakaldo, a suburb of Bilbao in Spain’s Basque Country, officials from the local judiciary were on their way to serve her eviction papers. Amaia stood on a chair and threw herself out of her fifth-floor apartment window, dying instantly on impact on the sidewalk below. She was the second person in two weeks in Spain to commit suicide as a result of an impending foreclosure action. Her suicide has added gravity to this week’s general strike radiating from the streets of Madrid across all of Europe. As resistance to so-called austerity in Europe becomes increasingly transnational and coordinated, President Barack Obama and the House Republicans begin their debate to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The fight is over fair tax rates, budget priorities and whether we as a society will sustain the social safety net built during the past 80 years.

The general strike that swept across Europe Nov. 14 had its genesis in the deepening crisis in Spain, Portugal and Greece. As a result of the global economic collapse in 2008, Spain is in a deep financial crisis. Unemployment has surpassed 25 percent, and among young people is estimated at 50 percent. Large banks have enjoyed bailouts while they enforce mortgages that an increasing number of Spaniards are unable to meet, provoking increasing numbers of foreclosures and attempted evictions. “Attempted” because, in response to the epidemic of evictions in Spain, a direct-action movement has grown to prevent them. In city after city, individuals and groups have networked, creating rapid-response teams that flood the street outside a threatened apartment. When officials arrive to deliver the eviction notice, they can’t reach the building’s main door, let alone the apartment in question.

Protesters demonstrate during a 24-hour strike in Barcelona. (Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images)The general strike across Europe ranged from mass rallies in Madrid, with participation from members of Parliament, to protests in London, to outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, to high atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, where protesters flew anti-austerity flags and banners. In calling for the first pan-national general strike in Europe in generations, the European Trade Union Confederation hoped to express “strong opposition to the austerity measures that are dragging Europe into economic stagnation, indeed recession, as well as the continuing dismantling of the European social model. These measures, far from re-establishing confidence, only serve to worsen imbalances and foster injustice.”

Back in the U.S., a group from Occupy Wall Street, which itself was inspired in part by the Spanish M-15 movement against austerity that began on May 15, 2011, has taken a creative approach to the blight of debt that is afflicting millions. Calling itself “Rolling Jubilee,” after the ancient practice of forgiving all debts every 50 years, the group is buying debt from lenders, for pennies on the dollar, and canceling it. This discounted debt market exists primarily because collection agencies and “vulture capitalists” acquire bad loans that people have stopped paying for 2 to 3 cents on a dollar, and still make a profit by hounding people to pay back some or all of that debt. Rolling Jubilee, according to its website, “believes people should not go into debt for basic necessities like education, healthcare and housing. Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it … to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99 percent by the 99 percent.” To date, Rolling Jubilee has raised $175,000, which it says will be used to abolish $3.5 million in debt.

The amount may be symbolic, but an important message to President Obama and House Republicans as they wrangle over the future of the U.S. tax rates, deficit reduction and how to fund so-called entitlements. Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies prefers to call Social Security and Medicare “earned benefit programs, because these are programs that American workers are paying into over their lives, and they have a right to that money, to have these basic social programs that have made us a much stronger society with a stronger middle class.” Anderson told me, “The approach to the debt should be to look at the ways that we could raise revenues through … taxing financial transactions … cutting fossil-fuel subsidies and using carbon taxes, and cutting military spending. That kind of combination could raise trillions of dollars over the next decade.”

Amaia Engana must have felt she had no safety net in Spain, as she jumped to her death. As the movement for that strong social safety net grows around the world, and locally here at home, the mandate is clear: Austerity is not the answer.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2012 Amy Goodman


Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel


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Election Over: 5 Hard Realities

Posted on 05 December 2012 by John Johnson

Election Over: 5 Hard Realities Progressive Have to Face About


By Jeff Faux

Democrats must start mobilizing their own agenda now. And the first step is to face the truth about Obama’s record.

November 18, 2012  |

Terrorized by the prospect of a complete takeover of the U.S. government by right-wing reactionaries—progressive Democrats swallowed their unhappiness with Barack Obama throughout the campaign. They gamely defended his policies on the economy, health care, budget priorities and other issues on which they felt betrayed in his first term.

We’ve now dodged the bullet of a Mitt Romney White House, so let’s get back to reality. Despite his campaign-trail populism, the president will continue the politics of accommodation to conservatives. Two of the three priorities he has set out for his next term are at the top of the GOP agenda: a “grand bargain” to cut government spending over the next 10 years and corporate tax reform that would cut rates—don’t hold your breath—and close loopholes. The third priority, rationalizing immigration law, is one of the few progressive ideas that also has the support of the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

Moreover, his next term’s policy advisers will be the same—or come from the same Washington/Wall Street executive personnel pool—as his last term’s advisers. Indeed, from the White House perspective, the election vindicated their first-term performance.

The core organizations of the Democratic base have vowed that after the election they will hold Obama’s “feet to the fire” with a Tea Party-style mobilization from the left—forcing votes on progressive proposals, organizing mass rallies and grooming their own candidates for the next congressional elections. They’ve sworn these oaths before, but after each election, they persuade themselves to give the leadership another chance. Soon the next election is upon them, and they line up for their marching orders.

If this time is to be different, progressive Democrats must start mobilizing their own agenda now. And the first step is to face the truth about the record of the president we have just re-elected. Here’s an initial reality check:

1. The economy still sucks

Three years into the recovery, we have an official unemployment rate of just under 8 percent and an underemployment rate of almost 15 percent. Incomes are declining and at least 12 million homeowners have mortgages that exceed the value of their houses. Consumers aren’t spending and therefore business is not investing. And we are still running a huge trade deficit with a sluggish global economy. This leaves government as the only possible source of substantial new spending to create jobs.

Yet there is no jobs program. President Obama says his top priority is a deal with House Republicans to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. His “liberal” position starts with a ratio of spending cuts to tax increases of 2.5-to-1. The only real dispute between the president and Republicans is whether the rich will have to give back the tax breaks George W. Bush gave them. So when the eventual deal is struck, the federal government will be taking more out of the economy over the next decade than it is putting in. This virtually guarantees that—even if we escape another recession or financial meltdown—we will not reach anywhere near full employment in the next four years.

2. The low-wage future

With no new substantial source of stimulus, our trajectory is toward a further erosion of living standards for the majority of Americans. Off-shoring and automation will continue to shed jobs with no offsetting increase in the demand for labor. Budget cuts—including cuts to Medicare and Medicaid—will widen the holes in the social safety net and further limit investments in education, infrastructure and technology upon which any chance at future prosperity depends. And the White House’s indifference to the dramatic erosion of organized labor (e.g., its reneging on promises to reduce the barriers to organizing) will continue to undercut the bargaining power of all workers—union and non-union alike.

The president’s Council of Economic Advisers will not admit it, but their default strategy for growth is to let American wages drop far enough to undercut foreign competition. That is the only possible policy rationale for Obama’s enthusiasm for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a further deregulation of trade that will strip away the last protections for American workers against a brutal global marketplace of dog-eat-dog.

3. Obamacare: Health care dead-end

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was a victory for corporate America. In exchange for giving up their rules against covering pre-existing conditions and agreeing to raise the age limit in which children could be covered under their parents’ policy, the health insurance corporations got the federal government to require every citizen to buy their product and commit to subsidizing those that can’t afford the price. The pharmaceutical industry received even stronger government protection of their price-gouging monopolies. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that there will still be 30 million uninsured Americans by the end of the decade. Tens of millions more will be under-insured as the companies are free to raise their premiums and deductibles.

Although it abandoned the public option, the White House whispers to Democrats that Obamacare will pave the way for single-payer. Fat chance. The bill was inspired by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and largely drafted by a former insurance company executive precisely to stop single-payer from ever happening. Meanwhile, the corporate dominated health care system will continue to be a huge drag on our global competitiveness and long-term fiscal health.

4. The Dodd-Frank fig leaf

The Wall Street Reform Act required more transparency in the securities markets and marginally expanded the regulatory bureaucracy. But it did little to prevent a future return to the reckless speculation that exploded the economy four years ago. The largest companies now have a bigger share of the financial markets than they had in 2008 and their “too-big-to-fail safety net” is even more explicit.

Perhaps most important, nothing has been done to lengthen the horizons of U.S. investors from short-term, get-rich-quick financial speculation to the long-term investment in producing things and high-value services in America.

5. Big Money and the Democrats

The last four years have proven conclusively that corporations—especially from Wall Street—now dominate the most important economic policy decisions of the Democratic Party. With the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, the transformation from democracy to plutocracy is virtually complete. The corruption of our governing class goes beyond just campaign contributions. It can include the hint of a future job or lobbyist contract when you leave office, a hedge fund internship for your daughter, a stock market tip. But all this depends on your remaining in power, so nothing matches the importance of raising enough money to get yourself reelected.

Democratic leaders’ primary response to Citizens United has been a tepid proposal to require more transparency in campaign contributions. Even that, of course, could not succeed against Republican, and some Democratic, opposition. But even areas where the president could act alone—as with an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose political contributions or even filling vacant seats on the Federal Election Commission—Obama took a pass. In response to an interviewer’s question in August, he said that “in the longer term” we may need a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United. He is right. But the “longer term” certainly means sometime after he leaves office.

According to the White House, discontent on the left with these and other issues (e.g., climate change, civil liberties, military spending) represents little more than the carping of left-wing purists who don’t understand the need for compromise. But in fact, it reflects the harsh reality that the president’s intentions do not nearly reach to the level of the country’s serious problems. So the stakes for the nation are enormous. Without a radical shift away from the policies of the last four years, living standards of most people in the United States will continue to drop, with potentially ugly social and political consequences.

The stakes for Democrats are also high. Obama’s victory has reinforced the widespread notion among pundits that the projected future increase in the non-white voting population and the party’s advantage with women already makes it the favorite for 2016 and beyond. But it is precisely these constituencies that economic stagnation has hit the hardest. Whatever the demographic changes, if the Democratic Party produces another four years like the last four, it can kiss goodbye to the next election and probably several after that.

Jeff Faux is the founder and former president of the Economic Policy Institute and the author of the new book,  The Servant Economy: Where America’s Elite is Sending the Middle Class. 


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It’s Election Time Again, Yea

Posted on 01 November 2012 by John Johnson

It’s Election Time Again, Yea


More ranting from John Johnson

I participated in the 1964 election, having been involved in supportive actions for the civil rights movement that was taking place in the South.

Some of us were already working in groups, including the Young Democrats. Our main target was the reactionary Birch Society’s candidate, Barry Goldwater. We worked for Johnson and local politicians going door to door. We worked for politicians who seem to oppose the growing Vietnam situation, and helped to get them elected.

It didn’t take long for most of them to start supporting the war. The campus ACLU invited Dorothy Healy, then head of the local Communist Party, to speak. The administrators decided to balance her with a Nazi. That was the last time we asked permission.

We also started a civil rights group, one of our members had just spend a summer working with SNCC and Core. The 1965 Watts Riot awakened some people to the fact that local African Americans weren’t being treated much better than those in the South.

We then started to focus on the escalating war in Vietnam. We organized an SDS chapter and held a civil disobedience action at the Van Nuys Air Base, where men and supplies were being shipped to Vietnam. We sat-in during three separate weeks. About 30 of us were arrested. [The Sit-in was the 1960's version of Occupy.]

While organizing a regional SDS, we helped a number of local colleges to organize their own.

After the police violence against protestors at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago, most of us gave up on electoral politics in favor of massive organizing.

I didn’t vote again until I voted for Kucinch, at the urging of a friend who worked for him. And look at the choices we have now:

In addition to escalating Bush’s war crimes, Obama has turned a blind eye to Wall Street’s theft of seven trillion dollars from the economy, which plunder continues, forcing austerity on the rest of us and causing world wide depressions.

And I have no idea why anyone would vote for the shallow, corrupt, lying plutocrat Romney, unless they were wealthy or racist, of course.

He and his corporate buddies are evil. There’s no more truth in his campaign than there is in his opponent’s. In the midst of his shameless self-promotion, one of his companies is closing down a factory and shipping jobs to China. They even forced US workers to train their Chinese replacements. Instead of earning $17 dollars an hour now, his employees get barely a dollar.

Romney is a corporate hack, working with those who deposited the seven billion to offshore tax free accounts. The same hacks that are closing factories, breaking unions, trying to limit safety laws and environmental regulations, building on Federal lands and helping to cause our current climate change. Their greed and indifference is at the root of arctic melting, devastating droughts and coastal flooding. They pollute the air waves with ads for expensive cars and junk food.

Not that Obama’s administration has done any better. True, he currently has a Congress that blocks anything half way decent. But what about the two years when he had what should have been a slam dunk with a Democrat Congress and accomplished nothing?

George McGovern just passed away. The Democrats had finally nominated a liberal anti-war candidate, but the public voted him down by one of the biggest margins, ever, and elected Nixon, one of most crooked, war-mongering, opportunistic and murdering Presidents in our history. One reason why it’s so hard to trust our electoral system.

So in about ten days, we can all get back to grassroots organizing. Occupy, get moving!


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