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“Why universal basic income is gaining support, critics” by Kathleen Pender

The idea of government giving every person a universal basic income has been gaining traction thanks in part to endorsements from some Silicon Valley celebs. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and others want to explore the idea.

The idea of government giving every person a universal basic income has been gaining traction thanks in part to endorsements from some Silicon Valley celebs. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and others want to explore the idea.


July 15, 2017 (sfchronicle.com)

The idea of a universal basic income — monthly cash payments from the government to every individual, working or not, with no strings attached — is gaining traction, thanks in part to endorsements from Silicon Valley celebs.

Some see it as a way to compensate for the traditional jobs with benefits that will be wiped out by robotics, artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, globalization and the gig economy. Others see it as a way to reduce income inequality or to create a more efficient, less stigmatizing safety net than our current mishmash of welfare benefits.

“I think ultimately we will have to have some kind of universal basic income, I don’t think we are going to have a choice,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the World Government Summit in Dubai in February.

In a commencement speech at Harvard University in May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.” And in a July 4 blog post, Zuckerberg praised Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, the nearest thing to universal income in this or any country. Since 1982, Alaska has been distributing some of its oil revenue as an annual payment, ranging from about $1,000 to $3,000, to every resident including children.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Y Combinator president Sam Altman have all said it’s worth exploring. Y Combinator’s nonprofit research lab started a basic income pilot with fewer than 100 people in Oakland last fall with the goal of gathering information to structure a larger research proposal, its director, Elizabeth Rhodes, said.

The concept has been around, with different names and in different countries, for centuries, said Karl Widerquist, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network.

It enjoyed a wave of U.S. popularity in the 1910s and ’20s and again in the ’60s and ’70s when it was championed by free-market economist Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King and, for a while, Richard Nixon.

It resurfaced again after the 2008 financial crisis, when soaring unemployment and corporate bailouts focused attention on the “99 percent.” The concept picked up steam in recent years as studies started predicting widespread unemployment because of automation.

Basic income has fans across the political spectrum, but for very different reasons. Libertarian backers would replace all or most welfare programs with a monthly cash payment as a way to prevent poverty, reduce government bureaucracy and let people decide for themselves how to use the money.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right), shown in May receiving an honorary degree from Harvard, also supports the universal income concept. Photo: Paul Marotta, Getty Images

Photo: Paul Marotta, Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right), shown in May receiving an honorary degree from Harvard, also supports the universal income concept.

By contrast, “those left of center like the idea of using (basic income) as a supplement to the existing safety net,” said Natalie Foster, co-chairwoman of the Economic Security Project, a two-year fund devoted to researching and promoting the idea of unconditional cash.

In a “utopian version,” the money would “sit alongside existing programs” and go to every man, woman and child, Foster said. But if you made it enough to keep people above poverty — $1,000 a month is a popular number — “it starts to add up to a very significant portion of the GDP,” Foster said.

That’s why some proposals would reduce or eliminate payments to children or to adults over 65 if they are getting Social Security and Medicare. Some would limit the benefits going to high-income people, either directly or indirectly by raising their tax.

“In the simple model, everyone in the lower half (of the income distribution) would be a net beneficiary, everyone in the upper half would be net payers,” Widerquist said.

Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist with the American Enterprise Institute, has proposed a basic income plan that would replace all transfer payments including welfare, food stamps, housing subsidies, the earned income tax credit, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It would also eliminate farm subsidies and “corporate welfare.”

In exchange, each American older than 21 would get a monthly payment totaling $13,000 a year, of which $3,000 would go to health insurance. After $30,000 in earned income, a graduated tax would “reimburse” some of the grant until it dropped to $6,500 at $60,000 in income. However, the grant would never drop below $6,500 to compensate for the loss of Social Security and Medicare.

Murray admitted that many seniors get more than $6,500 worth of benefits a year from those two programs, which is why it would have to be phased in.

“What I’m proposing would actually be cheaper than the current system,” Murray said. It would give adults a “living income” and “liberate people” who are tied to a job or welfare program in a particular city because they can’t risk leaving to pursue a new opportunity.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk favors universal basic income to compensate workers displaced by automation. "I don’t think we are going to have a choice," he said at a February event in Dubai. Photo: KARIM SAHIB, AFP/Getty Images

Photo: KARIM SAHIB, AFP/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk favors universal basic income to compensate workers displaced by automation. “I don’t think we are going to have a choice,” he said at a February event in Dubai.

Andy Stern, a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project, has proposed a “left-of-center” plan that would give every adult 18 to 64 a monthly cash payment of $1,000. It would replace welfare programs such as food stamps, the earned income tax credit, unemployment and Supplemental Security Income. But it would keep Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security disability.

He figures the plan would cost about $1.75 trillion a year. Ending welfare programs would save about a third of that. Another third could come from ending the tax deduction for mortgage interest and other write-offs. The remaining third could come from new sources such as a tax on carbon emissions or financial transactions.

Stern would not reduce payments to the rich or raise their taxes because that would bring back the problem he is trying to eliminate — determining who is “worthy and unworthy” to receive benefits. But many of the tax increases he envisions “would have a disproportionate effect on higher-income people,” he said.

Some opponents of guaranteed income say it will encourage laziness. Proponents say the current system discourages work by taking away some benefits as income goes up.

Zipcar founder Robin Chase, now a speaker and author, said universal income would encourage and reward important work that “does not get monetized,” such as child care and volunteer work. It would also spur business creation. “I had the luxury of taking risks because I had a husband who had a full-time job with health care. A majority of the population cannot take any risks in pursuing innovation or higher-value, non-remunerative things.”

Some believe the answer to income inequality and automation is not guaranteed income but a guaranteed job. Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has said the federal government should provide a job with benefits to anyone who wants one and can’t get one. “A job guarantee could simultaneously lower un- and underemployment while providing critically needed labor in fields ranging from infrastructure to education to child and elder care,” Bernstein, who was an economist in President Barack Obama’s administration, wrote in the American Prospect.

Jason Furman, who chaired Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, doesn’t like guaranteed jobs or guaranteed income. Furman, now a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, said universal income suffers from three problems.

“One is that it’s very hard to make the numbers add up. To get to (incomes) like $12,000, you need huge increases in taxes. Two, there are a lot of benefits to targeting. You only get unemployment if you don’t have a job and are looking for a new job. If anything, I might toughen the work search requirement” to receive unemployment.

Finally, he said, “I believe there is no reason that people can’t be employed in the future. We have thousands of years of experience of technological progress not leading” to mass unemployment. He pointed out that technologically advanced countries do not have higher unemployment rates than those that are less advanced.

“We should put more effort into how to create jobs and prepare people for jobs in the future,” he said. Universal basic income “is giving up on work and giving up on people. I’m not prepared to do that.”

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: kpender@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kathpender

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“The Voter Purges Are Coming” By Vanita Gupta

Voting rights advocates demonstrating in North Carolina. CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

July 19, 2017 (nytimes.com)

The Trump administration’s election-integrity commission will have its first meeting on Wednesday to map out how the president will strip the right to vote from millions of Americans. It hasn’t gotten off to the strongest start: Its astonishing request last month that each state hand over voters’ personal data was met with bipartisan condemnation. Yet it is joined in its efforts to disenfranchise citizens by the immensely more powerful Justice Department.

Lost amid the uproar over the commission’s request was a letter sent at the same time by the Justice Department’s civil rights division. It forced 44 states to provide extensive information on how they keep their voter rolls up-to-date. It cited the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the Motor-Voter law, which mandates that states help voters register through motor vehicle departments.

The letter doesn’t ask whether states are complying with the parts of the law that expand opportunities to register. Instead it focuses on the sections related to maintaining the lists. That’s a prelude to voter purging.

Usually the Justice Department would ask only a single state for data if it had evidence the state wasn’t complying with Motor-Voter. But a blanket request to every state covered under that law is virtually unprecedented. And unlike the commission, the Justice Department has federal statutory authority to investigate whether states are complying with the law.

These parallel efforts show us exactly how the Trump administration will undertake its enormous voter suppression campaign: through voter purges. The voter rolls are the key. Registration is one of the main gateways to political participation. It is the difference between a small base of voters pursuing a narrow agenda and an electorate that looks like America.

Here’s how the government will use voters’ data. It will create a national database to try to find things like double-voters. But the commission won’t be able to tell two people with the same name and birthday apart. Such errors will hit communities of color the hardest. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of the 100 most common last names.

Purging voters is part of a larger malicious pattern that states have employed across the country. Georgia and Ohio are being sued for carrying out early versions of what we can expect from the Trump administration. 

To enact his plan, President Trump has assembled the voter suppression dream team of Kris Kobach, Ken Blackwell, Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams, who have all made wildly inflated claims about voter fraud.

Mr. Kobach has been at the vanguard of a crusade against Motor-Voter and has been sued at least three times for making it harder for Kansans to vote. Before the 2016 election, he illegally blocked tens of thousands of voters from registering. Mr. Blackwell rejected registration forms because they were printed on paper he thought was too thin. Mr. von Spakovsky has led numerous unsuccessful legal efforts to diminish voter participation and to fight voting rights. Mr. Adams published personal information about people whom he wrongly accused of committing multiple felonies in a flawed hunt for fraud.

The commission’s efforts have been similarly sloppy so far. At least seven lawsuits claim it has violated federal and constitutional law, including privacy rights or transparency laws.

The litigation and pushback from the states that have refused to turn over voters’ data have slowed the efforts down, for now. But my biggest fear is that the government will issue a report with “findings” of unsupported claims of illegal voting, focused on communities of color.

These wild claims won’t be just hot air. Members of Congress will seize on them to turn back protections in federal law. States will enact new barriers to the ballot box. Courts will point to the commission’s work to justify their decisions.

The irony is that there are serious threats to our voting systems, from cyberattacks to aging machines to Russian interference to discriminatory voter ID laws at the state level. Those are the real problems, but that’s not what the commission was created to address.

In response to all this, citizens are pulling themselves off voter rolls out of fear that their personal information will be leaked. A Denver elections official said her office has seen a 2,150 percent increase in voter registration withdrawals. Taking ourselves off the rolls means sacrificing our voices and giving the Trump administration exactly what it wants.

We need to push back. Local election registrars are really in control of the rolls and have the final say on most purges. We need to organize in our communities and ensure they hear our concerns. Voting experts must debunk the administration’s false claims of fraud. Civil rights law firms should continue to do battle in courtrooms. Local politicians from both parties ought to stand firm against pressure from Washington. Rest assured that the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights coalition, and our allies, will be in the thick of this fight.

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Joe Whittle on owning land (July 21, 2017)

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature
First they came for the homeless

Written by Joe Whittle, after a visit to The Poor Tour.

Censored by Facebook 4 times so far. (Copied from an earlier post. Censored over a dozen times now)

“Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the Creator, I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me. Do not misunderstand me, but understand fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose. The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who has created it. I claim a right to live on my land and accord you the privilege to return to yours.” -Chief Joseph

Creator passed down to us that NO ONE can “own” the land; it was given to ALL life to live and thrive and exist upon freely, none being greater or more entitled than another, and full of all of the gifts we need to do so in peace and happiness. I wonder what the Creator thinks of the irony of those who take possession of what belongs to none by genocide, lies, and murder, and build “mayor’s mansions” upon it from which they pass down edicts of who has a “right” to be where; assuming the entitlement to fabricate linear scales of the right to exist and live freely upon that which Creator gave to all?

It was a privilege and an honor for me to be welcomed into this encampment with friendship and fellowship and spend all day yesterday with some beautiful and kind people who in many ways are living closer to the way that was given to all than most of society understands. It is not rare that I have found that those with the least amount of possessions are the quickest to offer freely with generosity, welcome, kindness and no expectations whatsoever, whatever they have to share. Sometimes the best examples of fellowship and community can be found where the rulers of men say one has no rights to exist.

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Your Call: What happened to California’s single payer healthcare bill?

Listen to the show:  Your Call: What happened to California’s single payer healthcare bill?

  JUL 19, 2017

In early June, the California Senate passed Senate Bill 562, the Healthy California Act, but it passed without details on how to pay for it. A few weeks later, it was shelved by the California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. He said, “We have never found a funding source. All the other details that were missing made it woefully incomplete.”

Why did Rendon shelve the bill? What’s in it? And what needs to happen for California to win its fight for universal health care?


Dr. Paul Song, oncologist and national board member of Physicians for a National Health Program

David Dayen, journalist and author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud

Web Resources:

SB-562 The Healthy California Act

Physicians for National Health Program

Mother Jones: : Everything You Need to know About the Single-Payer Fight in California

The Intercept: California Single-Payer Organizers are Deceiving their Supporters. It’s Time to Stop.

The Sacramento Bee: ‘Woefully incomplete’ universal health bill dead for the year in California

Capital & Main: Study Shows California’s Single-Payer Bill Would Save Health Care Costs

(Courtesy of Kathy Gehlken.)

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Following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s concession on Monday night that Trumpcare is likely dead, progressive groups that played an integral role in rallying opposition to the legislation are now looking to go on the offensive.

On Tuesday, dozens of organizations—including Our Revolution, National Nurses United, and Fight for 15—announced the launch of a new initiative titled “The Summer for Progress,” during which activists across the country will pressure Democratic lawmakers to embrace “a bold, progressive agenda.”

This agenda, called the People’s Platform, includes legislation that would make public colleges tuition free, establish automatic voter registration, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and transform the American healthcare system into one that guarantees insurance to all.

The #PeoplesPlatform urges House Democrats to move the country forward with a bold, progressive agenda that supports:

1) Medicare for All: H.R. 676 Medicare For All Act

2) Free College Tuition: H.R. 1880 College for All Act of 2017

3) Worker Rights: H.R.15 – Raise the Wage Act

4) Women’s Rights: H.R.771 – Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017

5) Voting Rights: H.R. 2840 – Automatic Voter Registration Act

6) Environmental Justice: Climate Change Bill – Renewable Energy (More details soon!)

7) Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights: H.R.3543 – Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2017

8) Taxing Wall Street: H.R. 1144 – Inclusive Prosperity Act

In an email to supporters on Tuesday, Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution, argued that the victory over Trumpcare “shows that when people come together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

“We must build off of this and continue to not just express frustration but provide solutions to fix the issues that too many Americans face today,” Turner said. “This summer, Our Revolution is working with dozens of other grassroots organizations to back the #PeoplesPlatform.”

The end goal of the effort, Turner noted, is to “have the majority of the U.S. House Democratic Caucus signed on to cosponsor” the People’s Platform by the end of September recess.

Since the Democrats’ massive 2016 losses, grassroots groups have been urging the party to adopt more ambitious programs that would both drastically alter the status quo and lay the groundwork for future electoral victories.

Responding to this pressure, a growing number of Democrats in recent weeks have publicly embraced proposals that were previously denounced as “politically unfeasible,” like Medicare for All and a $15 federal minimum wage.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said recently that his party is looking to formulate a “strong, bold, sharp-edged” economic agenda. With their summer initiative, progressive groups will call on Democrats to translate these words into action.

“The status quo isn’t working,” the groups declared. “If Democrats want to win in 2018 and beyond, we need to start by supporting legislation that addresses the real issues facing everyday Americans. Democrats in Congress must lay out a bold vision for how we create a country that works for everyone—not just the very wealthy.”

The initial groups behind the effort include:

Our Revolution

Democratic Socialist of America

Democracy for America

Progressive Democrats of America


Common Defense

National Nurses United

Working Families Party

Millennials for Revolution

Women’s March

Labor for Our Revolution

People for Bernie

Good Jobs Nation

Young Progressives Demanding Action

Healthcare Now

Brand New Congress

Justice Democrats

Food & Water Action

Fight for 15

Originally published by Common Dreams

People's Platform, The Summer for Progress, progressive agenda, progressive candidates
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Inside Yemen (full film) | FRONTLINE

Published on Jul 19, 2017

“People are not seeing what’s going on. We’re talking thousands of civilian dead.”

[Subscribe on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1BycsJW]

In May, FRONTLINE filmmaker Martin Smith and his team were the only foreign journalists given permission to enter Yemen, the country that’s home to what the United Nations recently called the “largest humanitarian crisis” in the world.

What they saw unfolds in “Inside Yemen.” From children describing the sounds bombs make as they fall, to doctors and nurses caring for cholera patients and malnourished infants for months without pay, this short documentary is a rare, up-close look at the consequences of two-plus years of airstrikes on the country by a Saudi-Arabia led coalition that has received weapons and tactical assistance from the United States.

Smith’s trip to Yemen was part of his reporting for an upcoming FRONTLINE special on the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Airing in 2018, the documentary will trace the roots of the Sunni-Shia divide, and explore how a proxy war between the two countries is devastating the Middle East.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frontlinepbs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frontline
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+frontline/posts

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Berkeley: Stop Prohibiting Toilets at Homeless Encampments!

To be delivered to Berkeley City Council, Jesse Arreguin, Mayor, Linda Maio, Cheryl Davila, Ben Bartlett and 4 other targets (click here to see more)

We demand that the city of Berkeley take action and stop prohibiting porta potties at homeless encampments.

There are currently 160 signatures. NEW goal – We need 200 signatures!


Supporters of the First They Came for the Homeless encampment in South Berkeley (at the Here/There sculpture on MLK) have offered to pay the costs of a porta potty, but the city has refused to grant a permit, and threatened fines to the company that provides them. Earlier this year, the city promised to provide portable toilets at the encampment, but they have delayed action for months claiming they are studying how to provide toilets for all 15 homeless encampments around the city.

Every day that goes by without these toilets adds stress to people in the encampment and to the local businesses that provide their restrooms. We thank businesses such as Sweet Adeline’s for their support, and demand that the city stop burdening our local businesses and allow porta potties at this and all homeless encampments.

For more information, read about the recent town hall organized by Councilmember Ben Bartlett on the homeless: https://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/07/18/homeless-camp-city-berkeley-want-bathroom/

Note from Mike Zint and/or Jeffrey Shurtleff;

How serious is this? Women are forced to pee in bottles, or hold it. We have been told that tomorrow night, we may be getting our first family.

KIDS, FORCED TO PEE IN BOTTLES! I want everyone to think about that. In Berkeley, the mayor, city council, and the city manager don’t care if women and children pee in bottles.

We have the money to do this NOW!


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Opinion: Berkeley fails to meet its homeless residents’ most basic needs

Berkeley talks about helping the homeless but it seems beyond the city’s ability to provide a modicum of dignity to its residents who have the least.

By JP Massar and Debbie Notkin

JP Massar is a housed Berkeley activist working to eliminate homelessness, the surveillance state and unjust debt. Debbie Notkin is a housed resident of Oakland who supplements her full-time job with organizing for public banking and economic justice.

“It’s a failure of our society that the humanitarian crisis of homelessness has been allowed to get so bad. Addressing homelessness is my administration’s top priority.” — Mayor Jesse Arreguín, State of the City address, July 10, 2017.

Homeless or not, people eat, they need to go to the bathroom, they create trash. Berkeley’s government knows this. Nonetheless, Berkeley’s housed officials consistently refuse to spend a dime to locate Porta Potties or schedule trash pickup in areas where homeless Berkeley residents congregate and live under constant threat of eviction — largely because of the self-fulfilling, persistent belief that the homeless are not sanitary.

The city of Berkeley and the state of California require that every house have a bathroom, for excellent health-and-safety reasons. Yet the city refuses to provide the homeless, who by definition do not have a house to have a bathroom in, with somewhere to go, OR EVEN THE RIGHT TO CONTRACT WITH A PORTA POTTY PROVIDER ON THEIR OWN AND PAY FOR IT.

The city of Berkeley provides trash pickup, again for excellent health-and-safety reasons. Yet the city refuses to provide the homeless with trash containers or trash pickup services — OR EVEN ALLOW THEM TO PAY FOR THE SERVICES ON THEIR OWN.

The city then turns around and claims the homeless pose health-and-safety concerns. Ergo, a self-fulfilling or, if you prefer, Catch-22. In a city that professes to be willing to lose millions to say we stand with some of our residents against Trump’s insane policies, this continued failure to provide our current homeless residents with the most basic of human needs — a place to go to the bathroom — is an inexplicable and inexcusable failure of progressivism.

We are a city seeing the forest but not the trees. Berkeley can conceptualize homelessness as a theoretical humanitarian crisis, yet treats each individual homeless person’s basic human needs as unworthy of consideration.

Let’s be clear: the Pathway Project’s intent — creating a respite for some of Berkeley’s homeless and a better chance of escaping homelessness for a few — is a reasonable, if costly, endeavor (although some aspects of its proposed implementation are questionable). And the massive proposal for housing and services on the site of the Berkeley Way parking lot, designed for the homeless and those on very low incomes, is to be applauded. This is not an either/or situation. These projects are off in the future and, while impressive in scope, can only make a dent to homelessness in Berkeley.

Since Dec. 1, 2016, when Mayor Arreguín took office, activists, homeless and housed, including the author, have been asking, nay begging, the city in every way they can to provide the most basic of services to homeless encampments. On Saturday, July 15, in a town hall called by Ben Bartlett, Councilman for District 3, the community (including many business owners) overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, demanded that the city reverse the inhumane, absurd and self-defeating policies that have prevented this from happening.

With no prospect that Berkeley’s homeless will be housed in the short or medium term, isn’t the least Berkeley – which claims to care – can do is provide humanitarian services at low cost while promoting health and safety for all. What’s not to like?

And yet all we get is bureaucratic runaround. We get one excuse after another. There are referrals and re-referrals to committees and staff, but the city seems to think doing the right thing is as impossible a task as bringing peace to the Middle East. In fact, it is not beyond the city’s ability to immediately provide – or allow to be provided — a modicum of dignity to its residents who have the least. The city could act, and the City Council could demand action through legislation and direction to staff. Nothing happens.

Would you want to live without a bathroom within tens of yards of where you are staying? Without permission to have one? Would you want to have to haul your trash for blocks, have nowhere to legally dispose of it, or live with it around you? Homeless people are forced to live that way.

It’s one thing — a very good thing — to acknowledge that homelessness is a problem and try to do something about it. It’s another thing — a very bad thing — to refuse to see the homeless as human beings, constituents, residents, and neighbors with basic needs. This anti-humanitarian inaction is not worthy of Berkeley. It needs to end. Now.

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Public Bank of Oakland

Oakland gives $57 million in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street banks every year in interest and fees, while many people in Oakland cannot afford water, food, or housing. Oakland can create it’s own Public Bank to hold taxpayer money, and INVEST in what the community needs.


Video: Maren Poitras
Music Credit: Broke for Free

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OccupyForum presents . . . Film:  “Our National Bird” directed by Sonia Kennebeck

OccupyForum presents…

Monday, July 24th, 2017 from 6 – 9 pm at the Black and Brown Social Club

474 Valencia between 15th and 16th Street near 16th Street BART

Information, discussion & community! Monday Night Forum!!

OccupyForum is an opportunity for open and respectful dialogue

on all sides of these critically important issues!

Film: Our National Bird

Directed by Sonia Kennebeck

Three whistleblowers, (who all worked on the drones program, gathering intelligence and tracking targets to be killed), break the silence around the US drone war. Plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries, the whistleblowers speak out publicly, despite the possible consequences. National Bird offers an unparalleled glimpse into the surreal landscape of automated murder. Who are these people, who sit in windowless rooms and make life-and-death decisions based on blurry images flickering on computer screens?

Directed by Sonia Kennebeck and executive-produced by Wim WendersNational Bird takes us to Afghanistan, where the maimed survivors of a mistaken drone strike on unarmed civilians in February 2010, which killed 23 people, describe what happened when they were attacked. The gung-ho attitude of the drone operatives is juxtaposed with raw footage of the dead bodies (some children) returning to their anguished friends and family. Kennebeck also juxtaposes Obama’s speeches about drones — in which he claims that they are able to “take out” insurgents without harming those around them — with the testimonies of those who know that this is false.

In her book, “Drone Warfare”, CODEPINK’S Medea Benjamin documents the growing menace of drone warfare, with an extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who are “piloting” these unmanned planes, who are the victims and what are the legal and moral implications. Benjamin documents how the U.S. government’s use of drones to murder hundreds of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen has increased the danger to our national security, and reveals the vocal international citizen opposition that challenges the legality and morality of America’s extrajudicial execution drones before they kill here at home.

National Bird reminds us that we’re living in an electronic haze, where life and death are decided on the basis of, as often as not, caprice. Detachment and a lack of accountability are rewarded where responsibility and compassion are shunned. For many servicemen and women, time in service may be little different than a video game gone mad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8hPK7G-5bw trailer




Time will be allotted for discussion and announcements.

Donations to Occupy Forum to cover costs are encouraged; no one turned away!


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