“You Can Now Get Arrested for Your Student Debt” by Dylan Hock (ununcut.com)

U.S. Marshals are arresting people for outstanding student debt in Houston, Texas, and you won’t believe how far back some of those loans stretch, nor how little it might take to have armed federal marshals show up at your door to arrest you.

Local resident Paul Aker claims he was arrested for a mere $1,500 outstanding federal loan he took out nearly 30 years ago, in 1987, just last week. Acker told Fox 26 that armed U.S. Marshals arrested him at his home out of the blue and hauled him to federal court, where he was forced to sign a payment plan for the three-decades-old loan.

According to Congressman Gene Green, the arrests are a result of the federal government outsourcing to private debt collectors for recovering over-due and delinquent student loan payments. Green says attorneys and debt collectors are now collaborating to secure federal court judgments, then taking the extra step by requesting that U.S. Marshals apprehend folks who are unable or not willing to pay their student loans. And those who can’t pay face potential time in jail.

Fox 26 also reports that according to a “reliable source with the US Marshal in Houston, Aker isn’t the first and won’t be the last.”

As many as 1,500 warrants have been issued so far for people behind on their student loan payments, and there is little doubt the number will keep on climbing. Meanwhile, America is in the midst of what is being referred to as the “student debt crisis.” Late payments are becoming more common, tuition rates keep falling, public funding for education never seems to be a priority, and wages are as stagnant as they have been for the past 30 years.

Clearly, the calls for a common-sense approach to the generation-crushing debt are falling on deaf ears, as the powers-that-be seem content on doubling down on the issue.

Mehrsa Baradaran Writes the Book, Nails the Talks and Brings Home the Candidate on Postal Banking (from JP Massar)

 photo HtOHB-book-cover_zpsxqfm7gnk.jpgHow the Other Half Banks is both the historical story of banking for the non-wealthy in America and why we once again need postal banks to serve the un- and underbanked, now in thrall to “alternative credit services” such as payday lenders.

When the book, authored by Mehrsa Baradaran, was published last Fall, Strike Debt Bay Area (SDBA) was all over it, having been advocating for Postal Banking for years. One of their members wrote the first Amazon review and they invited Professor Baradaranof Georgia University’s Law School to the Bay Area to speak.

That invitation came to fruition February, 12th and 13th, 2016, as SDBA arranged two events for her at two Bay Area bookstores, Green Arcade in San Francisco and Laurel Books on Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland (below).


 photo HtOHB-laurel-mehrsa_zpszkvzdezr.jpg
The events were well attended, each lasting about two hours with vigorous and thoughtful Q&A sessions.Professor Baradaran’s thesis is that

  • There are tens of millions of Americans who, for various reasons, are unable to have access to standard financial services such as checking accounts, bill pay, and credit cards, and who have little or no emergency reserve to fall back on in case of an unsforseen problem like a car repair.
  • This large constituency is left with no alternative but to use the “services” of the usurious payday lenders and ripoff check cashing outlets that have become ubiquitous in poorer areas across the country. Banks no longer want their business.
  • As astounding as it seems, studies have shown that they end up paying on average some $2000 a year for financial services offered for far less or even for free to wealthier individuals.
  • These people, and others, would be far better served by being able to access financial services through the Post Office. It would be a boon both to users, who would pay far less for these services than they do now through payday loans and check cashers, and to the Post Office, which could shore up its finances by offering these services and yet, because of its universality and existing infrastructure, could charge far, far less than what people have to pay now while clearing a small profit.
  • Most countries around the world have some sort of postal banking.

During her talks Professor Baradaran related how she had been instrumental in having Bernie Sanders asked “the question.” It happened during an interview with Fusion senior editor Felix Salmon:

Salmon: You believe in postal banking?

Sanders: I think that’s a great idea. In fact, I just spoke to a postal union this morning. I want to see our post office be reinvigorated. And one of the ways that I think we can help not only the U.S. Postal Service, but help a lot of low-income people – if you are a low-income person, it is, depending upon where you live, very difficult to find normal banking. Banks don’t want you. And what people are forced to do is go to payday lenders who charge outrageously high interest rates. You go to check-cashing places, which rip you off. And, yes, I think that the postal service, in fact, can play an important role in providing modest types of banking service to folks who need it.

As it happened, Baradaran was Salmon’s guest before he interviewed Sanders, and as she relates (paraphrased) “He asked me what I should ask Sanders, and I said ‘Ask him about Postal Banking!’” And so he did.

That interview went viral, with hundreds of articles and significant amounts of other publicity. However, postal banking seems no closer to reality. “Seems,” however, can be deceiving. The first step in any campaign is to make people aware, and Sanders’ statement, Mehrsa’s book (reviewed in the New York Times, and the subject of articles in The Atlantic and The Nation), and the attendant publicity given to both has been an important step.

Adding to the publicity efforts, Strike Debt Bay Area was able to get Professor Baradaran to pose with some of them in a Light Brigade, spelling out “Postal Banks.” Fittingly, she is near center holding the ‘B’ both for Baradaran and (Postal) Banks.


 photo HtOHB-lights-mb_zps1gaqkdtb.jpg
If you’d like to join Strike Debt Bay Area in its continuing campaign for Postal Banking (and more generally, fighting unjust debt in its many forms), contact us at strike.debt.bay.area@gmail.com or attend our next meeting, February 27th, 4:00 PM, at the Omni Commons, 4799 Shattuck, Oakland. Follow us on twitter, @StrikeDebtBA, and on Facebook.

 photo HtOHB-lights-1_zpsdg4gpcnn.jpg

Action Council Events — February 20 to March 1

OccupySF

~ Action Council ~

Occupy San Francisco Bulletin Board:

 http://www.occupysf.net

The following is a list of upcoming Events / Actions around the Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez Lopez, Alex Nieto cases

&

2 Meetings – one sponsored by SF DA’s office, other by Department of Justice

&

2 – Family sponsored events –   San Jose and Oakland – whose loved ones lives have been stolen by the police

A time to meet and hear many families testimonies

Saturday, February 20

F 20, Saturday, 3:00pm – 8:00pm, United Voices Against State Sponsored Violence (San Jose)

African American Community Service Agency
304 North 6th Street
San Jose

Organized by family whose loved ones life was stolen by police murder

Come listen to powerful testimonies of the families of people lost to police violence, youth in struggle against the school to prison pipeline, and community members who have suffered injustice and abuse at the hands of those in power.

Panel on resilience with members from:

San Jose R.A.D, Representatives from Silicon Valley Debug, San Jose State Professor Roxana Marachi, and more
Testimonies from:
The family of Antonio Lopez Guzman
The family of Richard “Harpo” Jacquez
The family of Diana Showman
The family of Phillip Watkins
The family of Rudy Cardenas
The family of Steve Salinas

And many more!

Open mic for:

Testimonies from those directly impacted by police violence and murder, youth poetry and stories, artist and activists challenging police brutality, and other resilient members are open to share their stories!

Open to public

Host: Justice for Josiah

Info / RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/172939326398816/

Monday, February 22

F 22, Monday, 2:30pm – 5:30pm,  SF District Attorney: Blue Ribbon Panel On Transparency, Fairness and Accountability in Law Enforcement.

SF Main Library, Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin St.
SF

The SF District Attorney is conducting a public hearing for this newly formed panel. This is the third and last panel.

See article  below in section titled “Articles & Reports” #2.

Info: http://www.sfdistrictattorney.org/

Wednesday, February 24

F 24, Wednesday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Department of Justice Community Town Hall (office of Community Oriented Policing Services)

Marshall Thurgood High
45 Conkling Street
SF

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) wants to hear your perspectives, concerns, and suggestions regarding the San Francisco Police Department and its interaction with the San Francisco community. They will be hosting the first community listening session through the Collaborative Reform Initiative.

They say that your participation in this open forum will help guide our efforts to advance the operations, staff, policies, procedures, accountability systems, and training of the San Francisco Police Department. This listening session is open to the entire San Francisco community.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1536245730003029/

Friday, February 26

F 26, Friday, 5:00pm, One-year Anniversary of Amilcar’s Killing by SFPD

Beginning on Folsom between 24th and 25th,
Marching to Mission Police Station
SF

We’ll begin with a vigil at the site of his shooting (Folsom btw 24th and 25th), and then march to Mission Police Station.

Afterwards, a free community dinner at St. John’s at 15th and Julian (between Valencia and Mission).

Host: Mission Nightwalks

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/546278685541264/

Saturday, February 27

F 27, Saturday, 11:00am – 4:00pm, National Victim of Police Terrorism Panel on “Policing in the 21st Century”

First African Methodist Episcopal Church
530 37th St.
Oakland

Organized by families who have had loved ones lives stolen by police murder

National and Local families of Police Terrorism will be together in Oakland to discuss Policing in the 21st Century, “Where do we go from Here”. “If you want to hear the truth, you must let the suffering speak”. It is this truth that have fueled the Movement for Justice across the United States. These families leaders will share their testimony and experience.

Families that will be present:

Eric Garner mother Gwendolyn Carr Staten Island NY
Sandra Bland mother Geneva Reed-Veal Waller County TX
Emmett Till cousin Airicakca Gordon Taylor Chicago IL

Sean Bell mother Valorie Bell Queens NY
Alan Blueford mother Jeralyn Blueford Oakland CA
Tamir Rice mother Samaria Rice Cleveland OH
Gary Hopkins mother Marion Hopkins Gray Prince George Co.MD
Cary Ball Jr., mother Toni Taylor, St. Louis MO
Marlon Brown wife Krystal Brown – Deland FL
Michael Brown mother Lesley McSpadden Ferguson MO
Mario Woods mother Gwendolyn Woods San Francisco CA
Robbie Tolan mother Miriam Tolan
Mario Romero sister Cindy Mitchelle
James Rivera mother Deionne Smith Stockton CA
Venus Zuhura Noble mother of two sons who was shot one lived.
Author Dinyal New mother of two sons who was shot
Sharon Raffety mother of son who was at Fruitvale Station with Oscar Grant who has been shot and killed
Antonio Guzman Lopez family Laurie Valdez

Many more from across the US and Locally

Open to the public

Host: Love Not Blood Campaign

Info / RSVP https://www.facebook.com/events/1516542941974577/

Tuesday, March 1

M 1, Tuesday, 8:00am, The Trial: Alex Nieto versus the SFPD, MARCH 1, 2016

Federal Court Building
450 Golden Gate Ave
SF

8:00am – Community Rally

The morning that the federal trial for Alex Nieto begins. We will rally, share love, sing songs, make speeches, and show unbreakable unity.  Alex was shot at 48 times and killed by the San Francisco Police Department, Alex Nieto was a family provider, college student, security guard, and a positive, peaceful community activist. Implementing Mahatma Gandhi’s TRUTH FORCE, we will use our limitless creativity and the court system to action for our integrity, humanity, and rights, the most basic of rights—our lives!

We will chant in unity to enforce the United States Constitution—due process, equal protection, no unlawful takings. Speeches, poetry, and performances by Roberto Hernandez, Thea Matthews, SF Board of Supervisor John Avalos, Adriana Camarena, Ben Bac Sierra, SF Board of Supervisors District Nine Candidate Edwin Lindo, Favi Estrella, Francisco Herrera, Equipto, Dregs One, Tony Robles, Father Richard Leslie Smith, AFT 2121 representatives, HOMEY, United Playaz, y mas!

Info / RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/944032739006060/   /  justiceforalexnieto.org

Continue reading

OccupyForum meeting postponed

February 15, 2016
GX is closed tonight so we will resume next week (Feb 22nd) for Malcolm X Forum…

In the meantime, hopefully I will see you at the Justice For Mario Woods Coalition meeting
on Thursday from 6 – 9, if not before…
It meets at 350 Rhode Island at Sixteenth Street
SEIU Local 2
(take 22 Fillmore or other bus routes go right there).

Happy Valentines Day sisters and brothers of our Movement! We are filled with LOVE and going strong!!
xx Ruthie

Berkeley Post Office Occupation update

First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless

February 14, 2016

A quick update from the Berkeley Post Office Occupation, we are trespassing, according to postal police. In the commons, protesting is trespassing? And we have been doing this for 472 days. Suddenly it’s trespassing. These police state tactics are one of the things we are protesting. Using them on us will not get our cooperation.

–Mike Zint

“Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty” by Lyndsey Layton (washingtonpost.com)


Three-year-old Saria Amaya waits with her mother after receiving shoes and school supplies during a charity event in October to help more than 4,000 underprivileged children at the Fred Jordan Mission in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. Children from low-income families now make up a majority of public school students in the nation, according to a new report. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”

The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college.

It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the needy children who arrive at school each day.

“When they first come in my door in the morning, the first thing I do is an inventory of immediate needs: Did you eat? Are you clean? A big part of my job is making them feel safe,” said Sonya Romero-Smith, a veteran teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary School in Albuquerque. Fourteen of her 18 kindergartners are eligible for free lunches.

She helps them clean up with bathroom wipes and toothbrushes, and she stocks a drawer with clean socks, underwear, pants and shoes.

Romero-Smith, 40, who has been a teacher for 19 years, became a foster mother in November to two girls, sisters who attend her school. They had been homeless, their father living on the streets and their mother in jail, she said. When she brought the girls home, she was shocked by the disarray of their young lives.

“Getting rid of bedbugs, that took us a while. Night terrors, that took a little while. Hoarding food, flushing a toilet and washing hands, it took us a little while,” she said. “You spend some time with little ones like this and it’s gut wrenching. . . . These kids aren’t thinking, ‘Am I going to take a test today?’ They’re thinking, ‘Am I going to be okay?’ ”

The job of teacher has expanded to “counselor, therapist, doctor, parent, attorney,” she said.

Schools, already under intense pressure to deliver better test results and meet more rigorous standards, face the doubly difficult task of trying to raise the achievement of poor children so that they approach the same level as their more affluent peers.

“This is a watershed moment when you look at that map,” said Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Foundation, the nation’s oldest education philanthropy, referring to a large swath of the country filled with high-poverty schools.

“The fact is, we’ve had growing inequality in the country for many years,” he said. “It didn’t happen overnight, but it’s steadily been happening. Government used to be a source of leadership and innovation around issues of economic prosperity and upward mobility. Now we’re a country disinclined to invest in our young people.”

The data show poor students spread across the country, but the highest rates are concentrated in Southern and Western states. In 21 states, at least half the public school children were eligible for free and reduced-price lunches — ranging from Mississippi, where more than 70 percent of students were from low-income families, to Illinois, where one of every two students was low-income.

Carey Wright, Mississippi’s state superintendent of education, said quality preschool is the key to helping poor children.

Republicans in Congress have been wary of new spending programs, arguing that more money is not necessarily the answer and that federal dollars could be more effective if redundant programs were streamlined and more power was given to states.

Many Republicans also think that the government ought to give tax dollars to low-income families to use as vouchers for private-school tuition, believing that is a better alternative to public schools.

GOP leaders in Congress have rebuffed President Obama’s calls to fund preschool for low-income families, although a number of Republican and Democratic governors have initiated state programs in the past several years.

The report comes as Congress begins debate about rewriting the country’s main federal education law, first passed as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and designed to help states educate poor children. The most recent version of the law, known as No Child Left Behind, has emphasized accountability and outcomes, measuring whether schools met benchmarks and sanctioning them when they fell short.

That federal focus on results, as opposed to need, is wrong­headed, Rebell said.

“We have to think about how to give these kids a meaningful education,” he said. “We have to give them quality teachers, small class sizes, up-to-date equipment. But in addition, if we’re serious, we have to do things that overcome the damages­ of poverty. We have to meet their health needs, their mental health needs, after-school programs, summer programs, parent engagement, early-childhood services. These are the so-called wraparound services. Some people think of them as add-ons. They’re not. They’re imperative.”

Lyndsey Layton has been covering national education since 2011, writing about everything from parent trigger laws to poverty’s impact on education to the shifting politics of school reform.
Note from Mike Zint:

How is it the poverty rate increases as the economy improves? Perhaps my definition if improves is different from the MSM. Yet the contradiction is in this article.

As soon as people realize over 90% of the MSM is owned by six corporations, they may understand how scripted everything is. But the news won’t report on that.

Postal police late night harassment (from Mike Zint)

This type of visit is occurring several times a day at this point. The postal police’s position is this is postal property. My position is the people own the post office and all postal properties. One of us is right.

This is me being polite during the midnight visit. Any later contact than midnight is considered sleep deprivation by us and will result in me being mean. The cops know that and so far have respected us.

–Mike Zint

The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto) via reclaimdemocracy.org)

The Powell Memo was first published August 23, 1971

Introduction

In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”

Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.

Most notable about these institutions was their focus on education, shifting values, and movement-building — a focus we share, though often with sharply contrasting goals.*  (See our endnote for more on this.)

So did Powell’s political views influence his judicial decisions? The evidence is mixed. Powell did embrace expansion of corporate privilege and wrote the majority opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, a 1978 decision that effectively invented a First Amendment “right” for corporations to influence ballot questions. On social issues, he was a moderate, whose votes often surprised his backers.

Confidential Memorandum: Attack of American Free Enterprise System

DATE: August 23, 1971
TO: Mr. Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr., Chairman, Education Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
FROM: Lewis F. Powell, Jr.

This memorandum is submitted at your request as a basis for the discussion on August 24 with Mr. Booth (executive vice president) and others at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The purpose is to identify the problem, and suggest possible avenues of action for further consideration.

Dimensions of the Attack

No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack. This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility.

There always have been some who opposed the American system, and preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism). Also, there always have been critics of the system, whose criticism has been wholesome and constructive so long as the objective was to improve rather than to subvert or destroy.

But what now concerns us is quite new in the history of America. We are not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.

Sources of the Attack

The sources are varied and diffused. They include, not unexpectedly, the Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic. These extremists of the left are far more numerous, better financed, and increasingly are more welcomed and encouraged by other elements of society, than ever before in our history. But they remain a small minority, and are not yet the principal cause for concern.

The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.

Moreover, much of the media-for varying motives and in varying degrees-either voluntarily accords unique publicity to these “attackers,” or at least allows them to exploit the media for their purposes. This is especially true of television, which now plays such a predominant role in shaping the thinking, attitudes and emotions of our people.

One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.

The campuses from which much of the criticism emanates are supported by (i) tax funds generated largely from American business, and (ii) contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system.

Most of the media, including the national TV systems, are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend upon profits, and the enterprise system to survive.
Continue reading

Berkeley Occupier announces run for mayor

First they came for the homeless's photo.
First they came for the homeless

February 10, 2016

The Berkeley Post Office Occupation is under threat of removal after 15 months. The question is why? Recently one of the occupiers announced his candidacy for mayor. Another occupier will be announcing his candidacy at the end of the month. Right after Mike Lee announced, a tweaker invasion started. (methamphetamine addict) We have not had this occur since the very beginning. This time it was different. The bad behavior was allowed by both postal police and BPD. Two days ago the police finally acted. The addicts are gone, and we are back to normal. Unfortunately a lot of gear is here, left by the homeless. The bad behavior, combined with all the gear is being used by the police as an excuse to remove us. Yet we are not responsible.

A couple of points of interest. The city has not provided the promised storage for the homeless, so they leave their gear here. And more importantly, one of the DBA ambassadors said we would be gone within thirty days. He said that two weeks ago. How would a street ambassador know this unless John Canar, head of the DBA, was somehow involved. Or perhaps I’m just being paranoid.

We will not move. We break no laws, and follow postal policies. We feel any attempt to remove us will be because of our political activities, and our help to the homeless community.

We are located right across the street from the mayor and city council offices. We have been a constant irritation to the powers that be. We succeeded with Liberty City when Berkeley city government failed to help the homeless.

There are 6 of us. We cannot stand on our own. If they come to remove us, all we can do is go to jail. We don’t want it to come to that. But we will not move!

The fight for equal rights, the commons, a living wage, the publicly owned post office, and many other things will not stop if this occupation gets removed.

Mike Zint
First They Came For The Homeless