Lenin on change


“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

–Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich (1870-1924) – one of the leaders of the Bolshevik party since its formation in 1903. Led the Soviets to power in October, 1917. Elected to the head of the Soviet government until 1922, when he retired due to ill health.

Chris Hedges, Cornel West, and Richard Wolff “How To Kick-off A Revolution?”

Laura Flanders, Moderator Professors Chris Hedges, Cornel West and Richard Wolff begin a ten part series at the Left Form that will focus on the great modern revolutionary theorists. They begin with perhaps America’s only real revolutionist, Thomas Paine, who in his three great works Common Sense, The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason laid down the foundations by which rebellion is morally and legally permissible. They look at whether the conditions set by Paine have been met with the rise of the corporate state and ask whether Paine’s call for the overthrow of British tyranny should become our own.

Action Council Events — June 22 to June 28 (from Patricia Gray)

Please read down this list of activities and pick one you can attend.
This list goes to members of many different groups working to
improve our government.  We need to support each other and get
to know each other.  We need to be connected and strong.
Wed. June 22
      5:30 pm           S.F. City Hall room 400
                              Police Commission meeting
                              USE OF FORCE
                              Urge the commission to vote YES on version
                              2A.  If you can’t attend the meeting you can
                              call 873-7070 and leave your advice – “Yes
                              on version 2A of the Use of Force.
      5:30 – 6:30       Montgomery and Market–at the entrance to
                              the building where Diane Feinstein has her
                              PEACE VIGIL
                              Join others under the peace banner. You may
                              bring your sign and join us in handing out
                              leaflets to people passing on Market St.
                              Most people only know what they see on
                              Tee Vee – We can introduce them to the
                              Sponsors Code Pink, World Can’t Wait
    6:00 – 7:00 pm  Mission Police Station  630 Valencia St.  S.F.
                             VIGIL FOR AMILCAR
                             We are waiting for the DA to file charges.  We
                             need to make plans for contacting the new
                             police chief.  It is time for us to swing into
   6:30 – 8:30pm  SEIU  Local 1000
                           436 14th St. Second floor, Oakland
                           OAKLAND LIVING WAGE ASSEMBLY
                           Join us to decide what the Bay Area Livable
                           Wage should be and plan how this can be done.
                           Please love and support one another–we have
                           a duty to fight — we have a duty to WIN!
                           info   wwwolwa.org
Thursday June 23
   9:30 – 11:00 am   33 Grove St
                               PARCEL TAX OVERSIGHT
                               In 2013 San Francisco passed a parcel tax by
                               73% of the vote to use this new tax on funding
                               for high quality education at CCSF.  With out
                               oversight these funds–nearly fifty million per
                               year have been spent with no accountability.
                               Please attend the FIRST EVER meeting of the
                               oversight committee;.  We must not allow them
                               to use the funds with out using them to prevent
                               cutting classes.
   1:00 pm             San Francisco City Hall rm. 400
                             Planning commission meeting
                             STOP THE FLORIA SWAMP
                             Planning commission will discuss a proposed
                             for 2435 – 2445 16th St (at Florida) to demolish
                             19,000 sq. ft. of blue collar jobs and build 53
                             expensive apartments only 9 are ‘affordable’
                            (what ever that means). This is just more
                            gentrification driving working class families out
                            of town.
  4:00 pm              CCSF Ocean Campus, MUB 140
                             CCSF BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING
                             Public comments before the Trustee meeting.
                             You may comment on the use of the parcel tax
 6:00- 7:30            Book Passage 1 Ferry Bldg #42
                             THE BATTLE FOR THE FUTURE OF ENERGY
                             Winonah Hauter, author of Frakology explains
                             how the oil and gas industry influence on our
                             government.  We have to keep fossil fuels in
                             the ground and take back our democracy.
                             followed by  Q & A
                             sponsor Food and Water Watch.
Friday June 24
     1:00 – 5:00 pm    Irving St. Projects, 4331 Irving St. S.F.
                                NEWS TODAY: A HISTORY OF THE POOR
                                PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN IN REAL TIME
                                Contemporary artist Kate Haug tells the story
                                from the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign led
                                by Martin Luther King Jr up to Black Lives
                                Matter, Fight for 15 and Our Walmart.
                                free event
                                info   www.iirvingstreetprojects.org
    6:00 – 8:30 pm    East Bay Media Center
                               1939 Addison St. Berkeley
                               STOP URBAN SHIELD
                               A town hall meeting to organize a state wide
                               mobilization in Pleasanton on Sept. 9.
                               co hosts:  Stop Urban Shield, Berkeley Cop
                               Watch, Anti Police Terror Project
  6:00 – 8:00 pm      Bayview Police Station, 201 Williams St. S.F.
                               FIRE SGT JUSTIN ERB
                               for killing Jessica Williams.
Saturday June 25
   1:00 pm     Oakland City Hall
                     BAN COAL IN OAKLAND
                     We need a massive demonstration of the people
                      to outlaw shipping oil at the Oakland Port.  They
                      want to ship toms of coal out of Oakland after
                      bringing the cola bomb trains through the city.
                     This will negatively effect the people of the bay
                     area and contribute to global climate change.+
    2 – 4:00 pm    Safehouse Arts
                          1 Grove St. (across from the S.F. Main Library
                          A ROOF OVER MY HEAD
                         A musical about the S.F. housing crisis.  A reading
                         with live music that looks at the housing crisis
                         from the perspective of a group of tenants whose
                         flip happy landlord is desperate to get them out.
                         Presented by Arts Q and the National Queer Arts
                         Free event but donations appreciated.
Sunday June 26
      10:00 am     Howard and Beale St. S.F.
                          CHELSEA MANNING S.F PRIDE PARADE
                          Come and show your support for Chelsea,
                          whistle blowers and government transparency.
                          (and have a good time!)
Monday, June 27
4:00 pm rally
5:00 pm          Oakland City Council meeting
                       1 Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
                       NO COAL IN OAKLAND!
                       City Council will be considering the proposal to
                       make the Port of Oakland the major place for the
                       shipping of coal to China.
                       WE MUST STOP THIS!
                       more info  NoCoalinOaklnd@gmail.com
Tuesday June 28
   12:00 to 1:30 pm  S.F. City Hall, Steps on Polk and Grove
                                Rally and lobby
                                MAKE CITY COLLEGE FREE AGAIN!
                                Sponsor  AFT local 2121
    6:30 – 8:00 pm     St. John’s Presbyterian Church
                                25 Lake St. at Arguello
                                Panel Discussion
                                BDS IN SAN FRANCISCO: RESPONDING
                                TO THE CALL OF PALESTINIAN CHRISTANS
                                Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is a non
                                violent way to change Israeli behavior toward
                                the Palestinian people.
                                Speakers Christians from Friends of Sabeel,
                                Presbyterians Keep Hope Alive,  Jewish Voice
                                for Peace and activists from UC Davis and
                                Panel will be followed by discussion on what
                                can be possible.
                                info  facebook 8871654113

Hope for those in debt: Can a non-profit help put predatory payday lenders out of business?

Hope for those in debt: Can a non-profit help put predatory payday lenders out of business?
(Credit: AP/Elaine Thompson)

An experimental solution to the problem perpetual debt is underway in Oakland

Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules on the massive payday loan industry. CFPB wants to force lenders to test borrowers’ ability to actually pay back loans, and limit re-borrowing, which creates a spiral of debt and exorbitant fees.

Both supporters and critics of the rule agree that it will probably force many payday lenders to close, ending 400 percent annual interest rates and immoral price-gouging. But while lenders might go away, the need for small-dollar loans won’t.

Consider this incredible – and depressing – statistic: According to a Federal Reserve survey, 47 percent of Americans would struggle to come up with $400 in the event of an emergency. Stagnant wages, high medical costs, and soaring inequality have increased financial stress on a large subset of American families. And while we must reverse that, it won’t disappear in the near future. So the question becomes: if CFPB curtails predatory payday lending, what will spring up in its place?

Some experts fear the industry will just slide into high-cost installment loans, with little difference for consumers. Others believe thinning out the payday herd (there are more payday loan storefronts than McDonald’s and Starbucks in Americacombined) will increase per-store sales and maybe bring down prices. Still others pine for credit unions or payday lenders or even the post office to step in and provide more affordable products.

But there’s another option active in Oakland. At the infamous Fruitvale Station, the mass transit plaza where police tragically killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s Eve 2008, the non-profit Community Check Cashing offers borrowers with credit scores under 650 small-dollar loans and financial services, at a fraction of the normal cost.

It costs $15 to cash a $500 check at a typical check-cashing store. Community Check Cashing charges $6.25. On an initial $300 payday loan, they charge $23, as opposed to $45 from the big boys. A one-year installment loan can be had for one-fifth the going rate. Community Check Cashing can do this because, as a non-profit, they only need to be self-sustaining.

One little storefront in Oakland cannot change the world. Or maybe it can. With enough funding, a non-profit foothold in the small-dollar loan market can ease the burden of perpetual debt on vulnerable communities. And Community Check Cashing’s model of engaging in deep relationships with their customers can do more than just provide ready cash. “In our testimonials, people are saying, our lives are changed now,” said Dan Leibsohn, who opened Community Check Cashing in 2009.

The idea has drawn the attention of Strike Debt Bay Area, an offshoot of the Occupy movement. “It fulfills a need without being exploitive,” said J.P. Massar of Strike Debt Bay Area. “We believe that an operation whose goal is to help people get out of the cycle of debt, while providing a service which is still necessary in our society, is one worth replicating rather than having predatory payday lenders proliferate.”

Leibsohn started Community Development Finance, a 501(c)(3) organization, in 1998, after a career working with low-income neighborhoods. He spent over a decade analyzing non-bank financial services markets, like check cashing and payday lending, eventually creating a business plan for a non-profit alternative.

The operation started slowly, with just check-cashing and wiring money. “We didn’t have the financial capacity to take on the risk,” Leibsohn said. When the lending began, Leibsohn paired them with what he calls financial coaching, requiring it for larger installment loans. “We walk somebody through a detailed budget, to create a cash flow for people to determine payment,” Leibsohn explained. “People say, ‘I never knew what was going on.’” This coaching is built into the underwriting of the loan, meaning that it would likely comply with the new CFPB rules.

While financial literacy courses are often derided as a noble distraction from actually protecting consumers, the Community Check Cashing technique hearkens back to the kinds of banking we had in America decades ago.

Going through a rigorous study of an individual’s finances and making decisions based on personal knowledge is the textbook definition of relationship lending. You sometimes see this at the community bank level but never in small-dollar loans, where speed is the name of the game. Leibsohn said his outfit even loses customers because the application process is significantly longer than his counterparts.

Community Check Cashing decides to issue a loan because they’ve developed trust in the borrower and understand their financial situation. And because of this knowledge, they would rather lose out on business than give people something that could harm their financial future. “We’ve tried to talk people out of loans,” Leibsohn said. “We say, do you need the $300? That’s at our own expense.”

The result of all this work is that, while many customers pay late, the default rate is under 0.75 percent, according to the non-profit. And they claim to have saved customers between $150,000 and $200,000 per year, compared to what they would give a regular payday lender or check cashing store. That money stays in people’s pockets, and in the community.

“One of the things we’ve found is people understand it’s a bargain, and if they mess up they’re not going to have access to it,” Leibsohn said. “It’s not because we’re so wonderful, although I’d love to think so.”

It’s a bit hard to say what kind of impact Community Check Cashing has had in Oakland, because the scale remains small. The store does only around $280,000 in loans per year, as they haven’t raised enough in donations and grants to serve more customers. Turmoil with finding a bank for their business account almost sunk the project last year (Leibsohn says the banking side is now stable). Contracts with tech startups and low-income housing developments to provide various services, and the funding for more loans, have come and gone. Leibsohn has not taken a salary four of the past five years, eating through his savings.

There are ways to scale this up, however, argued J.P. Massar of Strike Debt Bay Area. All lending operations need working capital to make more loans. Municipal, county, or state governments could deliver that investment, which would save state residents money without the government taking on inordinate risk. Public banks would be ideal for this, Massar said. Foundations or philanthropists could set up a demonstration study to prove the concept; Strike Debt has applied for grants on Community Check Cashing’s behalf. The non-profit has also looked at creating a manual for non-predatory small-dollar lending, and distributing it as a turnkey operation to other entities or even franchising the concept.

Even in his most expansive vision, with reloadable debit cards, remote check-cashing through smart phones, and statewide lending in California through storefronts and online, Leibsohn thinks Community Check Cashing could co-opt 10 percent of the market at most. But that might have a salutary effect on other payday lenders. And success could get other community-minded types thinking about the potential of running small-dollar loan operations for community benefit, rather than their bottom line.

So while the non-profit option isn’t built out yet, you can see its possibilities. “We’ve developed some approaches that we can take to scale and really make a difference,” Leibsohn said. “That’s why I’m doing this, to impact people’s lives.”

David Dayen

David Dayen is a contributing writer for Salon. His first book, “Chain of Title,” is out now. Follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.

Victory: Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant to be SHUT DOWN

OccupySF Env Justice Wkg Grp:

We did it! Friends of the Earth is forcing California utility giant PG&E to close the state’s last nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. 
On top of that, we got PG&E to agree to replace Diablo Canyon with renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Plus, we won support for Diablo Canyon’s workers in the transition to a clean-energy economy.
This is a huge victory in the fight to end dangerous nuclear power. And it is a road

map for the shift to truly clean energy!

This victory happened because of Friends of the Earth members like you, who have been supporting the organization in its fight to close Diablo Canyon since 1969. Three years ago, you helped us shut down the reactors at San Onofre. And now, you’ve helped make California go nuclear-free!

It shows that when we take bold and uncompromising stances on environmental issues, we can arrive at groundbreaking solutions.

This victory was built on decades of advocacy. There is still significant work to be done going forward. We need to make sure that Diablo Canyon really is replaced with clean renewable energy. We’ll need you with us all the way to the end — but today, it’s time to celebrate.

Erich Pica,
Friends of the Earth

“The Occupiers” trailer (from Occupy London)

On October 15th 2011, activist and film-maker Chloe Ruthven joined a demonstration in the City of London in solidarity with the global anti-austerity movement. Three weeks later, realising that something of historic significance was unfolding within the tent city the demonstrators had erected outside St Paul’s Cathedral, she brought her camera along and started filming. By the time the camp was evicted in February 2012 she had accumulated hundreds of hours of footage of a contemporary grass-roots political movement in action. With humour and sensitivity, the Occupiers offers a thought-provoking, unflinching and ultimately sympathetic insight into the politics, the dramas and the conflicts of life in the protest camp that shook the City.

47 Weak-Willed Senators Bend To Interests Of Powerful American People (theonion.com)

CongressWASHINGTON—Saying the closely watched Senate vote clearly demonstrated where the elected officials’ loyalties lay, political observers confirmed that 47 weak-willed lawmakers bent to the interests of the powerful American public Monday by voting in favor of measures that would bar anyone on government terror watchlists from purchasing firearms. “Based on the votes that these senators brazenly cast in front of cameras and the media, it was easy—and actually rather shameless—to see just how much they were beholden to the desires of the American populace,” said Beltway analyst Jennifer Curtis, who added that the nearly four dozen senators who voted for the proposed gun control bills undoubtedly took their cues from the citizenry of the United States, unashamedly falling in line with whatever political positions the overwhelming majority of Americans subscribe to. “This is just another example of certain lawmakers kowtowing to the strong, persuasive voice of the people. It’s hard to believe that such blatant puppets of the American public could even get elected in our country, but there you have it.” Curtis added that, thankfully, there were enough senators brave enough to stand up against the millions of impassioned letters, phone calls, and other strong-arm tactics used by the people they represent to prevent the bill from passing.

“Why I am Going to Russia” by David Hartsough


June 14, 2016

The US and Russian governments are pursuing dangerous policies of nuclear brinkmanship. Many people believe we are closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuba missile crisis in 1962.

Thirty-one thousand troops from the US and NATO countries are engaged in military maneuvers on the Russian border in Poland – together with tanks, military planes and missiles. The US has just activated an anti-ballistic missile site in Romania which the Russians see as part of an American first strike policy. Now the US can fire missiles with nuclear weapons at Russia, and then the anti-ballistic missiles could shoot down Russian missiles shot toward the west in response, the assumption being only the Russians would suffer from nuclear war..

A former NATO general has said he believes there will be nuclear war in Europe within a year. Russia is also threatening use of its missiles and nuclear weapons on Europe and the US if attacked.

Back in 1962 when I met with President John Kennedy in the White House, he told us he had been reading The Guns of August describing how everyone was arming to the teeth to show the “other nations” they were strong and avoid getting embroiled in World War I. But, JFK continued, arming to the teeth was exactly what did provoke the “other side” and got everyone embroiled in that terrible war. JFK said to us in May 1962,”It is scary how similar the situation was in 1914 to what it is now “(1962) . I’m afraid we are back in the same place again in 2016. Both US and NATO and Russia are arming and engaging in military maneuvers on either side of Russia’s borders – in the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the Baltic sea to show the “other” that they are not weak in the face of possible aggression. But those military activities and threats are provoking the “other side” to show they are not weak and are prepared for war – even nuclear war.

Instead of nuclear brinkmanship, lets put ourselves in the Russians’ shoes. What if Russia had military alliances with Canada and Mexico and had military troops, tanks, war planes, missiles and nuclear weapons on our borders? Would we not see that as very aggressive behavior and a very dangerous threat to the security of the United States?

Our only real security is a “shared security” for all of us – not for some of us at the expense of the security for “the other”.

Instead of sending military troops to the borders of Russia, let’s send lots more citizen diplomacy delegations like ours to Russia to get to know the Russian people and learn that we are all one human family. We can build peace and understanding between our peoples.

President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “I’d like to believe that the people of the world want peace so much that governments should get out of the way and let them have it.” The American people, Russian people, European people – all the world’s people – have nothing to gain and everything to lose by war, especially nuclear war.

I hope that millions of us will call on our governments to step back from the brink of nuclear war and instead, make peace by peaceful means instead of making threats of war.

If the US and other countries were to devote even half of the money we spend on wars and preparations for wars and modernizing our nuclear weapons stockpile, we could create a much better life not only for every American, but for every person on our beautiful planet and make the transition to a renewable energy world. If the US were helping every person in the world have a better education, decent housing and health care, this could be the best investment in security – not just for Americans, but for all people in the world we could ever imagine. .

David Hartsough is the Author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist; Director of Peaceworkers; Co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce and World Beyond War; and participant in a Citizens Diplomacy delegation to Russia June 15-30 sponsored by the Center for Citizen Initiatives: see www.ccisf.org for reports from the delegation and more background information.

WAGING PEACE: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist(PM press) is available through Peaceworkers for $20 at 721 Shrader St., San Francisco, CA 94117.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
–Margaret Mead


OccupyForum presents . . . Harry Bridges: A Man and His Union (on Monday, June 20)

Monday, June 20th from 6 – 9 pm at Global Exchange

2017 Mission Street near the 16th Street BART station

Information, discussion & community! Monday Night Forum!!

Occupy Forum is an opportunity for open and respectful dialogue

on all sides of these critically important issues!

OccupyForum presents… 

Harry Bridges: A Man and His Union

Film and Discussion with Ted Frazier

Harry Bridges (July 28, 1901–March 30, 1990) was an Australian-born American union leader, first with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA). In 1937, he led several chapters in forming a new union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), adding warehouse workers to its membership, and led it for the next 40 years.

Harry Bridges — A Man and his Union chronicles the life of one of America’s most important and controversial left-wing labor leaders. He headed the International Longshoremen and Warehouseman Union from the 1930s to the 1970s and was a champion of workers’ causes on an international scale.

Harry Bridges was as controversial as he was charismatic. He was prosecuted by FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower alike, and convicted by a federal jury for having lied about Communist Party membership — a conviction which was set aside. On the West Coast, Bridges still excites passions both for and against the labor movement. In our current incarnation, the Movement looks to the unions to amplify the struggle.

Time will be allotted for announcements.

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