Come Back: A Story We Wrote Together

Radi.ms (2014)

Film Review

Come Back describes how a coalition of Spanish activists used 492,000 euros expropriated from 39 banks to build a large anti-capitalist coalition that would form the basis for the Los Indignados occupation in 2011. The latter would inspire the international Occupy movement in September and October 2011.

Enric Duran, the individual responsible for the 492,000 euros in unpaid bank and credit card loans, first began planning his “financial civil disobedience” in 2002. The funds were used to finance a network of anarchist collectives and cooperatives which coalesced as the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC) in 2010. The CIC’s objective is to generate a self-managed free society outside the law, state control and the rules of the capitalist market. Over the past five years, the CIC has allowed member collectives to progressively construct practices that move them away from the capitalist system towards the world they want to live in.

Creating the Finance Network for Social Projects

In 2005, when Duran began his aggressively borrowing, he and others formed the Finance Network for Social Projects, which allowed self-organized collectives to bid for funding for their local projects through a centralized website. One project highlighted in the film was the 2006 Anti-Growth March. More a tour than a march, the project traveled to more than 20 communities throughout Spain, promoting the development local farming cooperatives, self-organized clinics and schools and other alternatives to capitalism.

The direct outcome of the Anti-Growth March was the Cooperative for Local Assemblies, a network linking local initiatives. In 2010, this would morph into the CIC.

The latter, involving roughly four to five thousand participants, is made up of 300 productive projects, 30 local nodes and econetworks, 15 or so communal living projects and 1700 collectives. CIC governance involves general assemblies and is based on a decentralized direct democracy model that supports the self-governance of autonomous projects.

Political Goals of CIC

Rather than trying to destroy the state, the goal of the CIC is to practice civil disobedience in ways that are consistent with the self-organizing projects their collectives are trying to build. According to a 2014 interview with Duran (see Spanish Robin Hood Enric Duran on Capitalism and Integral Revolution), any action they take towards pressuring the state will be strategically chosen to protect constructive projects and the people involved in them or to generate consciousness and vision among people and groups involved in the change-making process.

Some examples of CIC projects include

• Development and promotion of approximately twenty community currencies, in addition to the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS), a mutual credit network that operates on South African CES software.
• Local food pantries linked to the Catalan Provisioning Centre.
• Activist-run health clinics, schools and housing cooperatives.
• Radi.ms, a digital collective focused on promoting the creation of self-organized co-ops worldwide.

Duran’s Legal Status

On September 17, 2008, in the midst of the global banking collapse, the network (which would become the CIC in 2010), made public, through their own CRISIS newspaper, that Duran had distributed 492,000 in bank loans to Spanish anti-capitalist groups. In March 2009, he was arrested, as six of the 39 banks had laid charges against him. He spent two months in prison before being released on 50,000 euros bail. Although he gone underground, he continues to be an active participant in the CIC.

stuartbramhall:

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It’s time for a serious public rebellion to curtail welfare spending on giant, profitable corporations who use our public services and infrastructure, ship American jobs to dictatorial regimes overseas and even brazenly avoid paying their share of taxes to Uncle Sam. This is a clear left/right convergence issue that has been muddied by corporatist rhetoric about free markets and self-reliant capitalism for far too long.

Great article by Ralph Nader.

Originally posted on Wolfessblog -- Guillotine mediocrity in all its forms!:

Start With Red Corporate Faces On the Golf Course

“Hey Everybody! We’re all gonna get [rich off the backs of tax payers]!” (Screenshot: Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack)

Should you ever find yourself in the unique situation of being out on a golf course alongside some big time CEOs of major corporations, here’s a fun experiment to try. It’s very simple — just ask the CEOs for their opinion on welfare. Many CEOs — who typically make thousands of dollars an hour — might spout the old “stand on your own two feet instead of relying on government assistance” rhetoric. Should that be the case, you should point out that there are hundreds of programs in existence that directly or indirectly provide billions of dollars of taxpayer money to corporations…

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The Unknown Known

Errol Morris (2013)

Film Review

The Unknown Known is the weirdest documentary I’ve ever seen. The subject is former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his reflections on the disastrous War in Iraq. A third of the footage is archival and the other two-thirds consists of face-to-face interviews via a device director Errol Morris refers to as the Interrotron.

The film appears to have two goals: 1) to capture the essence of the major architect of America’s illegal wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq and 2) to allow him to reflect, in hindsight, exactly where things went wrong. As he expresses in the post-film discussion below, he fails on both scores. Morris totally fails to penetrate what Forbes describes as Rumsfeld’s “linguistic obfuscation.”

Unlike Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson), who expressed genuine regret over Vietnam in Morris’s 2003 documentary The Fog of War, Rumsfeld maintains his management of the US war in Iraq was flawless.

The documentary is framed around the tens of thousands of memos Rumsfeld issued over the course of his career. There were so many of them that his subordinates referred to them as “snowflakes.” This approach works well because all Rumsfeld’s decisions around the War on Terror are reflected in specific memos.

The most consistent criticisms around Rumsfeld’s role in the Iraqi occupation were his failure to involve other members of the Bush administration in decision making and his failure to make specific plans for a post-invasion government. When Morris asks about these critiques of his job performance, Rumsfeld bats them away, as he did in many press briefings, with clever word play or by quibbling over definitions.

For example when asked about the non-existent weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration used as a pretext for invading Iraq, he repeats the infamous line he gave reporters: “Absence of evidence doesn’t prove something doesn’t exist.”

Morris uses early memos to reconstruct Rumsfeld’s term in Congress (1962-1970) and his service in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administration. My favorite part of the film is an excerpt from the infamous Nixon White House tapes in which Nixon, Haldeman and Kissinger agree to fire Rumsfeld for being manipulative and untrustworthy.

As Ford’s Secretary of Defense, he strongly opposed détente, a policy started under Nixon to improve understand and ease tensions with the Soviet Union. As he expresses in one of his memos, the prospect of peace with the Soviets was making Congress and the American public reluctant to invest in defense infrastructure.

As the quagmire in Iraq caused George W Bush’s popularity to plummet, the President would sack Rumsfeld in December 2006 and replace him with Robert Gates, an official from Bush senior’s administration.

The title of the documentary is taken from an infamous example of Rumsfeld verbal gymnastics during a press briefing:

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

 

In the clip below, Morris frankly discusses his own feelings about the documentary

stuartbramhall:

 

 

The advanced Jan 2015 version of the secret Transpacific Partnership treaty released by Wikileaks reveals that the investor protection chapter was even worse than we predicted.

It would empower foreign investors to sue governments and demand cash compensation for any laws or regulations that undermine their “expectations” of how they should be treated.

This includes a right to claim damages for government actions (such as new environmental, health or financial policies) that reduce the value of a foreign firm’s investment (what the leaked text calls “indirect expropriation”) or that change the level of regulation a foreign investor experienced under a previous government (a violation of what the text calls a “minimum standard of treatment” for foreign investors).

According to the leaked text, it would also allow pharmaceutical companies to use TPP  tribunals to demand cash compensation for generic medications that allegedly violate their so-called intellectual property rights.

Originally posted on Satu Insan - Malaysia:

Daily Kos

TPPA

Here it is, for the world to see.

Per WikiLeaks:

This is an advanced January 2015 version of the confidential draft treaty chapter from the Investment group of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks between the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam. The treaty is being negotiated in secret by delegations from each of these 12 countries, who together account for 40% of global GDP. The chapter covers agreements on investments from one TPP nation to another, including empowering foreign firms to “sue” other states’ governments, as well as regulations around investor-state dispute settlements and tribunals. This document was prepared by TPP investment chapter negotiators in advance of the informal round of negotiations held in New York City 26th January to 1st February, 2015

Global Trade Watch has just provided an analysis of the leaked text via email…

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california drought

The city of Sacramento, in their fourth year of severe drought, continues to allow the Nestle water bottling plant to draw unlimited (estimated at up to 80 million gallons a year) from local aquifers. Meanwhile according to IndyMedia reporter Dan Bacher (Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought), Sacramento residents have been slapped with drastic water restrictions.

On March 12, Jay Farniglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion laboratory/Caltech, wrote in the LA Times that California has only one year of water left in its reservoirs – while the state’s backup supply, their groundwater aquifers are rapidly depleting.

The city charges Nestle the residential rate, 65 cents, for each 470 gallons it takes. The company then rakes in record profits by selling the water back to Sacramento residents for close to five dollars a gallon.

Under brand names such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, Nestle is currently the world’s largest bottled water supplier. They are notorious for denying that water is a human right at the 2000 World Water Forum

The Crunch Nestle Alliance, a coalition of environmentalists, Native Americans and other activists, is demanding that the city charge Nestle commercial rates for their water or tax their profits. Or better still that Nestle voluntarily shut down their Sacramento bottling plant.

Bacher’s article also notes that Governor Jerry Brown seeks to further limit Sacramentans access to water by fast tracking his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). This would involve construction of peripheral tunnels to ship Sacramento River water to corporate agrobusiness, Southern California water agencies and oil companies that require massive amounts of water for fracking operations. If it goes forward, the BDCP would force vast tracts of Sacramento Delta farmland out of production for the benefit San Joaquin Valley factory farms and the fracking industry.

In the video below Nestle’s CEO Peter Brabeck explains why he believes water should be privatized – after forcefully arguing for Europe to remove their ban on genetically modified foods.

The Crunch Nestle Alliance, which doesn’t have a website, can be contacted through Andy Conn at camphgr55@gmail.com.

photo credit: CalPERS and the Drought via photopin (license)

Pwr 2 the COLORADO Peons!

Posted: March 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Bravo, Colorado. I take exception to the “few bad apples” line, though. In the US, a culture of policing has arisen in which cops are at war with the civilians they are meant to “serve and protect” – especially if they have brown skin.

Originally posted on Wolfessblog -- Guillotine mediocrity in all its forms!:

Cops in Colorado Could Soon Face $15,000 Fines If They Try to Stop People From Filming

While Texas lawmakers are trying to make filming the police illegal, Colorado is taking a much better approach.
 Brooklyn cops shot

Denver, CO — While Texas lawmakers are trying to make filming the police illegal, Colorado is taking a much better approach.

A package of bills that are designed to increase police oversight have been introduced in the Colorado Legislature. One of the measures included in the package would impose up to $15,000 in civil penalties for cops who interfere with someone trying to film them.

“Primarily, it came up as a result of the number of news reports we’ve been seeing about police officers telling people, ‘Give me your camera,’ or taking the data away, and that is unacceptable conduct,” said Rep. Joe Salazar…

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War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State

Robert Greenwald (2015)

Film Review

War on Whistleblowers details the cases of four US whistleblowers who experienced severe government retaliation after exposing systematic wrongdoing to journalists.

The men profiled are marine Franz Gaye, who broke the story about the Pentagon refusal to replace Humvees with much safer MRAPs in the US occupation of Iraq; NSA senior executive Thomas Drake, who first blew the whistle on illegal NSA mass surveillance; Lockheed-Martin engineer Michael DeKort, who broke the story that Lockheed was supplying the Coast Guard with substandard boats and radios that weren’t waterproof; and Department of Justice lawyer Jim Risen, who first exposed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretaps.

Their stories are interspersed with commentary by iconic whistleblowers Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden (via Internet linkup), as well as the handful of journalists who have been brave enough to publish evidence of government corruption and criminality and members of the Project on Government Oversight and the Project for Government Accountability.

Each of the four whistleblowers went up his workplace chain of command in his agency and exhausted every option for addressing the problem internally. Each was fully aware of the potential consequences of their actions of going to the press. Yet after much soul searching, they saw whistle blowing as a preferable alternative than to colluding in their superiors’ criminality.

Paying the Price

Only Gaye was allowed to resume his career as an active duty marine. DeKort had his Lockheed position cancelled and was blackballed from further work in the defense industry. In addition to losing their jobs, both Drake and Risen experienced financial ruin, spending tens of thousands of dollars fighting felony charges the Obama Justice Department brought against them. Drake was charged under the Espionage Act, even though the information he shared with the Baltimore Sun was unclassified.

After seven years of persecution by the Justice Department, Drake eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor: excessive use of a computer without authorization. The charges against Risen were dropped after four years of legal battles.

The Distinction Between Leaking and Whistle Blowing

The film makes the clear distinction between leaking and whistleblowing. High level Obama administration officials constantly leak classified information to the press with no legal consequences.

Despite his campaign promises to make government more transparent and accountable, Obama has significantly increased government secrecy, as well as prosecuting more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

According to Snowden, the President’s purpose isn’t to make Americans more secure. It’s to protect government agencies and politicians from embarrassment a criminal prosecution.

His crackdown on whistleblowers is also a fundamental violation of the First Amendment. The whole intent of freedom of speech and the press is to ensure citizens’ right to criticize their government without being punished.