Nancy Pelosi is the most conservative candidate in her 2018 race


February 26, 2018 

Nancy Pelosi is the most right-wing candidate in her reelection race this year.

The House Democratic leader faces not one, but three, Democratic challengers in 2018, as well as a Green Party candidate. And while national Republicans love to target Pelosi as the face of the far left in their campaigns, her opponents complain she’s actually not liberal enough for her San Francisco district, particularly on issues like health care and campaign finance.

There’s almost no chance Pelosi will lose her reelection. The 77-year-old Democrat has held her seat, which encompasses almost all of the city of San Francisco, since 1987, typically winning by margins of 70 and even 80 percentage points. But the critiques from her left-leaning opponents underscore an internal debate about the future of the Democratic Party in California – and nationally.

They also make plain that as much as the GOP tries to paint Pelosi as an extremist, she is very much a political pragmatist. It would hard to be such a power broker within the Democratic party establishment, if she wasn’t.

That’s a point Pelosi’s challengers are trying to make.

Attorney Stephen Jaffe, 72, has even gone so far as filing a lawsuit against the state Democratic Party, claiming that it “actively worked” to prevent Jaffe from challenging the party’s automatic endorsement of Pelosi. As a result, Pelosi avoided facing a vote during the state party’s annual convention in San Diego over the weekend.

Jaffe told The Bee that Pelosi’s focus is squarely on national politics, not the district.

“She is disconnected and out of touch with the people of San Francisco,” he said.

In particular, he pointed to her refusal to endorse single-payer health care proposals in Congress, something supported by a majority of registered Democrats statewide but that has divided party officials. Pelosi has said her focus is on protecting the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, from Republican repeal efforts. And she has urged states to enact single-payer programs first, because “the comfort level with a broader base of the American people is not there yet.”

Jaffe, a volunteer on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, also complains that Pelosi raises millions of dollars from big-dollar donors and corporate PACs. Indeed, Pelosi’s prolific fundraising was one of the factors in her rise to – and hold on to – power in Washington. But it’s also become a point of contention for those in the so-called “Bernie wing” of the party, who have made overhauling today’s campaign finance system a central plank of their advocacy.

Pelosi has recently been dogged by hecklers at public events and on social media, questioning her personal wealth and donor connections

Another candidate, law student Ryan Khojasteh, is at the other end of the spectrum – at least, age-wise. He will turn 25 just days before the November election, just making him barely eligible to run for Congress. He and Jaffe have similar policy disagreements with Pelosi, although Khojasteh says he does not want to attack the incumbent herself.

“We are trying to frame this race about what the future of the Democratic Party looks like,” Khojasteh told The Bee as he was driving down Interstate 5 to San Diego for the Democratic convention. He said he decided to jump in the race after watching Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff lose a hotly contested special election for a Georgia congressional seat in June.

“I just remember all the headlines the next morning: ‘Handel beats Ossoff after link to Pelosi,’” he said. “While we respect all that Pelosi has done, maybe it’s time to pass on the torch.”

That echoes the rumblings against Pelosi among some House Democrats in Washington, who worry that Pelosi has become a campaign liability and say it’s time she and other septuagenarian Democratic leaders make way for a new generation. Pelosi’s campaign did not reply to a request for comment.

While Jaffe has the backing of several local Sanders-aligned groups, as well as actress Susan Sarandon, Khojasteh recently won the endorsement of the San Francisco Young Democrats.

A third Democrat, Shahid Buttar, attorney and former director of grassroots advocacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, launched his campaign for Pelosi’s seat on Feb 22.

The three men, along with perennial Green Party candidate Barry Hermanson, are vying to finish second in the June primary, advancing to the general election against Pelosi.

They acknowledge the long odds of actually toppling the veteran Democrat, however. Khojasteh says that as “a young son of immigrants,” he would view it as an accomplishment just to make it to the general election.

San Francisco-based political consultant Boe Hayward noted Pelosi has been “challenged a number of times by candidates from the left and the right” over the course of her career, San Franciscans continue to return her to power because “the leader has been an unbelievable advocate for progressive values.”

Indeed, Pelosi typically draws a handful of challengers to her reelection, including Republicans, Independents, Green party members and, now and then, fellow Democrats. Rarely, however, has she drawn multiple opponents from her own party. In a district where only 7 percent of registered voters are Republican, it’s really the challenge from the left that’s notable.

This is the most organized her opponents on that side have been since 2008, when Pelosi faced off against gold star mother and anti-Iraq War activist Cindy Sheehan, who ran as an independent. Pelosi still won nearly 72 percent of the vote.

Hayward, a former chief of staff for Democratic Board of Supervisors member Bevan Dufty, now represents some of the Bay Area’s most prominent tech firms, among other companies. He said that despite its reputation for pie-in-the-sky liberalism, many San Francisco voters appreciate Pelosi’s hard-nosed style of national leadership in “driving a successful policy agenda” and “keeping her party in line.”

They’re not fazed by Republicans’ attempts to use their city as a pejorative. “We understand and are used to being the symbol of the left, but people in San Francisco are proud to live there and are damn proud to have the leader as our representative,” he said.

Editor’s note: The story was updated at 2:06 p.m. Feb. 26, 2018 to reflect Buttar’s entry in the race.

Emily Cadei: 202-383-6153@emilycadei

Shahid Buttar:

Shahid Ali Buttar (born July 22, 1974) is an American artist, political activist and constitutional lawyer. Focusing on the intersection of community organizing, art & culture, and policy reform, Buttar serves as an organizer and media spokesperson in the movements for peace, immigrant rights, black lives, and civil liberties. Buttar declared in himself in February 2018 as a Democratic Party candidate for the United States House of Representatives, as a challenger to Nancy Pelosi in California’s 12th congressional district[1][2] in San Francisco, California.

Previous to this, Buttar was the Director of Grassroots Advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[1]

Buttar was born in London, England into a Pakistani family fleeing religious persecution in their home country. Two years later, Buttar immigrated to the U.S. with his parents and three older siblings and became a naturalized citizen. Buttar spent much of his younger life in a small, rural, midwestern town of Rosebud, Missouri. Strongly influenced by his identity as an immigrant and experience as a person of color, the various parts of Buttar’s career and creative work have been guided in common by a commitment to social justice.

Buttar received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Loyola University Chicago summa cum laude in 2000 and in 2003 received his Juris Doctor (JD) from Stanford Law School, where he served as a Teaching Assistant for Constitutional Law. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2004.[3].

Struck by the thought that the rule of law and judicial independence were undermined in the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000 and compounded by the constitutional crisis in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Buttar built a strong and early foundation of activism and advocacy.

On January 12, 2018 Buttar was interviewed on Rising Up with Sonali after Pelosi helped kill the USA Rights Act, [4] [5] the latest among several times when she impeded surveillance reform efforts. [6] It was in response to Congress extending and expanding NSA surveillance that he decided to run against Pelosi to represent California’s 12th district in Congress.

More at:

Nancy Pelosi Has Another Challenger: Ryan Khojasteh

Ryan Khojasteh has his eye on Pelosi’s seat, adding a second corporate-free challenger to the CA-12 primary ticket.

Ryan Khojasteh, a San Francisco Bay area native, has big plans for California’s 12th congressional district. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has represented this district since January, 2013, and served in House of Representatives almost continuously since 1987. Inquisitrpreviously reported that Progressive Stephen Jaffe is challenging Pelosi for her House seat. Now, it looks like the San Francisco Bay area voters have a second Progressive to choose from. Like Jaffe, Ryan Khojasteh is a Progressive. Like Jaffe, he supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary of 2016 and says that his campaign will not accept PAC or Super-PAC donations.

In an exclusive interview, Khojasteh told Inquisitr that he believes he can better represent the 12th congressional district than both Pelosi and Jaffe. Khojasteh says that, like many in his district, he knows what it’s like to grow up in middle class America without an extended family support system as the result of immigration policies.

“My family is currently affected by the travel ban too. I know what it’s like from a young age to be a part of these late night kitchen table conversations about whether my parents needed to take out a second mortgage on the home, how they would send the kids to college, or how would they be able to pay the bills for the month. My dad is a small business owner, and I worked for him during high school. I have seen firsthand how hard it is for small businesses to keep their doors open and stay in business.”

Pelosi’s newest challenger is a staff editor for the Hastings Women’s Law Journal. Ryan will graduate law school early and receive his Juris Doctorate degree in December, 2018, a mere three weeks before congressional inauguration day.

He is the son of Iranian immigrants and the first member of his extended family born in the United States. He has $150,000 in student loans, and that is after accounting for his scholarship award.

Ryan Khojasteh’s View Of The Democratic Party

Ryan says that a light bulb went off in his head when Jon Ossoff lost his race, which was one of the most expensive congressional races in history. He says that he saw a headline the next morning that said that Handel beat Ossoff “after being linked to Pelosi.”

“I really began to reflect. Our party isn’t necessarily representing the majority of Americans because a sizable chunk of those in charge never lived these issues to understand these issues,” Ryan told Inquisitr. “There is such a growing disdain towards the establishment.”

Ryan says that Pelosi is leading a party that is becoming more flawed and more comfortable in its flawed ways at a time when it should be striving for a progressive future.

“The party needs to change. Our leaders need to be held accountable. And I believe that if there ever was a time, 2018 would be that time. Changing the party, starts here in CA-12.”

Ryan says that he’s not just thinking about a personal victory. He says that if he places in one of the top two spots during the primary election, his campaign will use that national stage to convince other people that they can and should run for office.

He also wants to prove that no incumbent is invincible. Unseating Pelosi would do just that, he says.

Ryan Khojasteh On Immigration Reform

Ryan Khojasteh currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Immigrant Rights Commission, appointed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors after a unanimous recommendation. On that commission, he also serves as the Chair of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Task Force. He works closely with the Chair of the Commission, Vice-Chair, and Executive Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs and Civic Engagement to shape the commission’s agenda.

He says that he was invited to Congresswoman Pelosi’s press conference about the DREAM Act in September. He says that he witnessed undocumented youth protesting, at which point Pelosi left. He said that the protesters stressed the need for comprehensive immigration reform. He says that the protesters said that they tried to get a meeting with Pelosi for years, but that they were “repeatedly turned down.”

“This was unacceptable, and so at our midyear leadership retreat, I was inspired to fight for a clean DREAM Act and a broader comprehensive immigration reform package,” Ryan told Inquisitr. “As the chair, I authored two resolutions, unanimously approved by the Commission, that were presented to the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.”

The first resolution called for the Board of Supervisors and the mayor’s office to utilize their positions to influence federal lawmakers in an attempt to make a clean DREAM Act a legislative priority. The second resolution called for San Francisco to refrain from using the word “DREAMER.” Ryan says that the word “perpetuates the divisive good vs. bad immigrant narrative.”

“I learned firsthand that undocumented youth and DACA recipients do not like this word because the true dreamers are all immigrants who came here in pursuit of the American dream, including their parents. All 11 million undocumented immigrants should be granted status. The more we use the word ‘DREAMER’ the more we inherently demonize everyone else.”

Ryan Khojasteh’s Political Connections And Inspiration

Ryan says that he never had any political connections. The first time he ever met an elected official was when he interned for Congressman Honda during his senior year of college which he called an “incredibly formative experience.” He said he was inspired to become involved in politics by the actions of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress and the first woman to seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency, Harvey Milk, who ran a campaign against what Ryan calls “The Machine” and was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and Bernie Sanders. On a personal note, he says he was also inspired by his father.

“When you come from an Iranian-American family, your existence is inherently political. My dad always talked to me about the revolution, how hard it was to leave, how hard it was to plant roots here,” Ryan told Inquisitr. “My dad is potentially alive today because America exists. I have such deep respect for the American Dream that I am going to dedicate the rest of my life protecting it and preserving it for future generations.”

Ryan says that he is not worried about splitting the Progressive vote during the primary. He says that with California’s “top two” primary system, the two candidates with the most votes will progress to the election in November, regardless of party.

Ryan Khojasteh On Public Health Issues

Ryan Khojasteh is a staunch advocate for single-payer healthcare.

He also has plenty of ideas for changes in gun control laws. In addition to universal background checks, he’d like to ban semi-automatic rifles and modifications for all civilians, create a registry for anyone who owns more than 10 guns, increase trauma centers in non-metropolitan areas, prohibit anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun, create more comprehensive gun safety classes, expand the definition of domestic abuse in relation to gun ownership, allow the CDC to study gun violence as a public health issue, consider gun owners’ liability insurance, and strengthen regulations regarding firearms and mental health.

In California, vaccines have been a hot public health topic for years. Philosophical and religious vaccine waivers are no longer accepted for entry into schools, preschools, and daycare centers as part of state law. Ryan says that if he were a member of Congress, he would vote for federal legislation removing non-medical vaccine exemptions across the country, though he believes that such legislation would be challenged on Tenth Amendment grounds for infringing on state sovereignty.

Ryan Khojasteh On GMOs, Labeling, Subsidizing, And Farming

He was disappointed in President Obama for signing S. 764 into law. The industry-backed bill overturned Vermont’s GMO label law. He says that it could allow the national labeling standard to become incredibly weak and “provide almost no information to the consumers.”

While on the topic of GMOs, it should also be noted that Ryan believes that the heavy subsidization of corn and soy to facilitate meat production and processed foods is backwards to public health. He thinks it makes more sense to subsidize fruit and vegetable production from the standpoint of public health and public health associated costs.

Ryan says would also support a federal Right to Farm act protecting farmers from nuisance lawsuits, provided farmers employ standard and accepted farming practices.

Ryan Khojasteh On Marijuana Legalization

Ryan would like to see marijuana legalized and regulated like alcohol. He also would like to see marijuana possession convictions and non-violent marijuana distribution convictions expunged for those associated with small amounts of the plant.

Ryan Khojasteh On Building Codes

He says he would absolutely consider legislation federally exempting tiny houses from residential building codes to benefit veterans and homeless Americans. He also would support federal legislation that would codify or amend state residential housing codes to accommodate green options like grey water systems, composting toilets, and earth sheltered homes.

Ryan Khojasteh On Native American Issues

Ryan supported DAPL protesters and feels that “the Army Corps granting the final easement was egregious.” He says that after the Sioux sued over the loss of Black Hills and won their Supreme Court battle, they were awarded over $100 million in just compensation. Of course, they refused the funds, because they want their land, not the compensation. He says that our Constitution doesn’t provide a just remedy to this issue and would support a Constitutional amendment to the Takings Clause prohibiting the takings of Native land.

“This land serves incredibly important purposes — traditional, spiritual, religious, historical. It is their home. No justification in my opinion is compelling enough to strip that land away.”

Ryan favors changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. He says that as soon as the name change is adopted in his hometown, he will fight for it to change on a national level.

Ryan Khojasteh’s Big Promise

As the interview concluded, Ryan made a firm pledge that may surprise the voters of California’s 12th congressional district. Ryan says that if he is elected, he will return to his home district every weekend. He says he will use his own funds to travel back to California from Washington, D.C., every weekend to engage with the community and host town hall events. He says that his promise is barring only unforeseen emergencies or pressing issues in Washington. He says that should situations occasionally come up prohibiting his return to California on a particular weekend, he would notify the community and plan an extra event for the following weekend.

“I will be back all 52 weekends of every year for as long as I am a member of Congress,” Khojasteh told Inquisitr. “Accessibility and transparency are two crucial factors in restoring truth in our government.”

UPDATES~ACTION item~ANNOUNCEMENTS for Wednesday, March 21 – Sunday, March 25 (from Adrienne Fong)

Thank you to ALL who showed up with a moment’s notice to support  Hasta Muerte Coffee Shop and Revolution Books on Sunday. It was nice to see / hear what the community can do collectively.

 Item #8 Date changed from today, 3/20 to Wed. 3/21

ACCESSIBILITY: Please include Accessibility Information on Events! This is a JUSTICE ISSUE!

Check Indybay for other events: 


A. The Dirty Secret of American Nuclear Arms in Korea (March 19, 2018)

B. “It Was a Crime”: 15 Years After U.S. Invasion, Iraqis Still Face Trauma, Destruction & Violence (March 20, 2018)

C. Israeli Court Rejects Ahed Tamimi’s Request for Public Trial ‘For Her Benefit’ 

D. Activists are being charged under terrorism laws for the first time in Britain – this sets a dangerous precedent (March 15, 2018)

E. Police accountability groups make POA contract an issue for Sups, Farrell (March 19, 2018) – Please see item # 1


Letter to SF Mayor Mark Farrell – ALL ARE ENCOURAGED TO SIGN  – as individuals even if you live outside of San Francisco or if a group U participate in has signed.


Wednesday, March 21 – Sunday, March 25

Wednesday, March 21

1. Wednesday, 9:00am – 11:00am, Public hearing: SF’s contract with the police #NoJusticeNoDeal

Meet outside @ 9:00am

SF City Hall, 2nd Floor Room 250
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.

9:00am: The community gathering begins on the front steps of City Hall. We’ll then move into the building together.
10:00am: he hearing, convened by Supervisor Cohen, in Legislative Chamber, Room 250.

Right now, San Francisco is negotiating a new contract with the police union -POA (Police Officers Association). Usually these negotiations happen behind close doors.

SFPD has abused and killed to many young people of color, Keita O’Neil and Jesus Adolfo Delgado are just the latest victims.

The POA continues to resist needed police reforms.

If they want higher pay and benefits, the POA must stop blocking police reform. No justice, no deal! 

At our urging, Supervisor Malia Cohen has called for a public hearing about the POA contract. We have to raise our voices!

Just before the hearing, we’ll gather as a community to share our stories, songs, and poems, our wisdom, and our tears. Then we’ll go into the hearing room together.

Host: NoJusticeNoDeal


2. Wednesday, 5:30pm – 6:30pm, PEACE VIGIL 

One Post Street in San Francisco.
(on the steps facing Market Street, below Feinstein’s office,
directly above the Montgomery BART/Muni station).

If it rains we will meet below the stairs to BART/MUNI 

Themes vary each week on PEACE and JUSTICE issues

Signage & fliers provided

All are welcomed. 

3. Wednesday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, 4th Year Alex Nieto Anniversary 

Bernal Heights Park
San Francisco

Amor for Alex Nieto: March 4, 1986 to March 21, 2014

We were born the day our brother Alex Nieto was unjustly killed. The biggest movement of gente ever in the United States to defend the honor of a Latino victim of a police killing.

Join us on Wednesday,  at Bernal Heights to celebrate our community creativity and to finally break ground for the Alex Nieto Memorial! We invite all the coalitions and community members, all loved ones to this important and relevant event.

We will meet at the makeshift memorial site we have had for the past four years on the north side of the hill, then together we will walk over to the proposed memorial site, and Refugio and Elvira Nieto will do a symbolic ground breaking and plant an Alex Nieto Memorial flag at the spot where the official memorial will be.

You can also join us earlier in the day from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to celebrate Alex’s life and our movement at City College of San Francisco’s Amphitheater (the main campus) where we will have a Lowrider show and fundraiser for the memorial. 

Once the memorial is established, community members will hike up to that mountain and pray like Alex did and look out over the beautiful view of San Francisco and be inspired by our community resilience. Students will travel up to that hill for field trips and to learn about the history and creativity of our community; they will write thousands of educational essays. Families will pilgrimage hands together and love each other at the place where Alex breathed his last breath. This will be a place of peace, of inspiration and amor.

Against the violence and injustice of 59 bullets, family and community rose to defend honor and promote positive spirit. 


4. Wednesday, 6:30pm – 8:00pm, SF Poster Making and Letter Writing Party 

Sports Basement (SF Presidio)
610 Old Mason St.

Join us to get ready for the March for Our Lives and our upcoming Lobby Day. Both students and adults are invited to make posters for the March for Our Lives, and we’ll also write letters to our state reps to be hand delivered to their offices in Sacramento on our Lobby Day on April 9th. We’ll provide poster board and markers (or you can BYO).

Please RSVP in this link:

Sponsor: Moms Demand Action – CA


5. Wednesday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, No Ban, No Wall: The Fight for Immigrant Rights Under Trump 

The Women’s Building
3543 18th St., Suite 8

ICE terror. Muslim ban. The boarder wall. The attack on Dreamers. The overhaul of the visa system. No matter where you look, the Trump administration is raging another brutal war against immigrant communities. Yet in cities across the country, people are fighting back demanding, sanctuary, amnesty, equality and justice. Join us for a meeting on what it would take to protect all immigrants from Trump’s attack and what the movements from the past have to teaches about building resistance today.

*Apart of the International Socialist Organization’s Spring Socialism 2018 Speaking Tour:


6. Wednesday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Concert for Juarez 

The Redstone Building
2940 16th Street

Advance Tix:

Tickets: $ 10 pre-sale & $15 at the door

Benefit concert to expose the effects of free trade agreements on workers in Mexico in exacerbating poverty wages, and forcing people to migrate to the United States.

Live Music by Francisco Herrera, who will be performing his new song “Our Children are Sacred,” which was created in defense of children crossing the border, DACA, Dreamers, TPS families, and a call for Sanctuary.

Host Living Wage Coalition


7. Wednesday, 7:30pm – 9:30pm, Anti Police-Terror Project General Meeting 

East Side Arts Alliance
2277 International Blvd

APTP meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday of the month.

The Anti Police-Terror Project began as a project of the ONYX Organizing Committee. We are a Black-led, multi-racial, intergenerational coalition that seeks to build a replicable and sustainable model to eradicate police terror in communities of color.


8. Wednesday, 8:00pm – 10:00pmPSW Day 2: Film Screening: The Wanted 18 (Day Changed) 

UC Berkeley
179 Dwinelle Hall

Directed by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan, the Wanted 18 is a 2014 animated documentary that tells a true-life tale of the Palestinian town Beit Sahour in 1988 during the first Intifada.

The film visualizes the matrix of control enacted by the Israeli state. We hope to both highlight and educate ourselves about Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Please come out and be in community! Food and refreshments will be provided.

Sponsor: Bears for Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine – UC Berkeley


Thursday, March 22 

9. Thursday, 3:00pm – 6:00pm, Food Not Bombs – Food prep

Station 40
3030B 16th Street (between Mission & Julian –across from 16th Street BART)
Ring door bell
(Up a flight of stairs)

Thursday, 6:00pm, Food Not Bombs – Food Share

16th Street BART Plaza

For information or to volunteer: call Micah at 415-738-9249 or send email to

Food Pickups: Help Needed!

Cooking:  3:00 pm to 6:00 pm–Ring doorbell for entry–Help Needed!

Sharing: 16th and Mission BART Plaza — 6:00 pm–Help Needed!

Cleaning Up:  3030B 16th Street–after Cooking–6:00 pm – 8:00 pm–Help Needed! 

10 Thursday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, When an Agent Knocks: Grand Jury and Federal Investigation CLE 

The Eric Quezada Center for Center for Politics & Culture
518 Valencia St.

Mark Vermeulen, federal criminal defense attorney
Zahra Billoo, civil rights attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Richard Brown, “SF 8” grand jury resister
MC: Gabriela Lopez, criminal defense / immigration attorney

2 hours general MCLE credit, $30 fee will be waived for lawyers who agree to provide one free consult referred by the NLG.

Free for law students, legal workers and activists.

Co-sponsored by the NLG- SF Bay Area Chapter, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and 518 Valencia – the Eric Quesada Center for Culture and Politics.


11. Thursday, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, Beyond Identity: Collective Struggles 4 Racial & Health Justice 

UC Berkeley
221 Kroeber Hal, Gifford Room
Dept. of Anthropology

Wheelchair accessible


Since the 2016 presidential elections, “identity politics” have been attacked by liberal and left commentators who fault its proponents with dividing civil society and social movements, while creating a backlash among white communities that brought Trump to power. Yet, extensive scholarship in the social science and public health fields has made it clear that race has been and continues to be a foundational force in structuring dramatically unequal social conditions and health outcomes. How should we interpret current critiques of identity politics in light of such racial inequalities? How can race-based politics be reconciled with broad demands for social transformation? What role should health practitioners play in challenging racial inequalities in our current moment? 

Join us in discussing these and other urgent questions with the following panelists. 

• George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara
• Rupa Marya, Associate Professor of Medicine and Faculty Director of the Do No Harm Coalition at UC San Francisco
• Carlos Martinez, PhD student in the UC Berkeley/UC San Francisco Joint Program in Medical Anthropology

Sponsors: Institute for the Study of Social Issues and California Nurses Association


FridayMarch 23 

12. Friday, 2:00pm – 3:00pm, SEIU and Friends presence outside of ICE in SF

630 Sansome St

Members & Friends of local SEIU have been outside of ICE for the last 5 weeks. All are welcomed to stand with them to say NO to deportations and NO to ICE sweeps.

There is no listing on social media. ALL are welcomed to participate. 

13. Friday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Report Back! U.S. Delegation to Honduras 

The Eric Quezada Center for Culture & Politics
518 Valencia St.

In the aftermath of the highly contested presidential elections, 50 religious leaders and activists traveled to Honduras from January 24th to 30th, 2018. The visit coincided with inauguration of Juan Orlando Hernandez’s second term as president, which has been largely protested by the Honduran people and has been described by international observers as marred with irregularities and have called for new elections.

This Report Back will include observations and activities the U.S. Delegation took part in.
Jose Artiga is Executive Director of the Share Foundation
Juan Rivera is Director of Marketing & Communications at CARECEN SF
Radio Progreso Representative – Video Update

Sponsors: Carecen SF, The Eric Quezada Center & The Center for Political Education


14. Friday7:00pm – 9:00pm, The Reparations Tour: White Solidarity with Black Power Blueprint 

Dolores Street Community Services
938 Valencia St.

The Reparations Tour: White Solidarity with the Black Power Blueprint is part of a U.S. wide tour building support for the Black Power Blueprint Project, a program for economic and political power in the hands of the African working class of St. Louis in the wake of the mass resistance following the police murder of Mike Brown in 2014.

The Black Power Blueprint is a community project that is purchasing and revitalizing buildings in the heart of the impoverished O’Fallon neighborhood, creating programs for community economic development such as the Uhuru House community center and the One Africa! One Nation! Marketplace and community garden. The project also includes collective renovation of a building to be used as a community kitchen, bakery and African Independence Workforce program for black workers who are coming out of the U.S. colonial prison system.

This tour offers white people an opportunity to support the projects through reparations to the black community and to stand in solidarity with the movement for self-determination and power in the hands of the black working class.


Saturday, March 24

“March for Our Lives”

Site for all listings:

15. Saturday 10:00am – 1:00pm. March for Our Lives RALLY – Oakland (See SF item # 17)

Frank H. Ogawa Plz.

Note that that the Oakland event will just be a rally leading up to the San Francisco march. At the end of the Oakland rally, we will all “march”/BART” to San Francisco to join forces with them at 1 p.m. At the end of their program (around 2:45), we will all march together in solidarity.

For the Oakland rally, we will hear from our students, advocacy groups, and our representatives. It is to stand in solidarity with the 700+ events happening around the country. We have scheduled our event at this time on purpose so everyone can head over to the San Francisco event and rally behind them.


16. Saturday, 11:00am – 5:00pm, TGNC Rights and Empowerment Day

API Equality – Northern California Office
17 Walter U. Lum Place

Wheelchair accessible; bathrooms gender neutral


APIENC’s Trans Justice Working Group is organizing a TGNC Rights and Empowerment Day centered on our transgender and gender non-conforming Asian and Pacific Islander community. We are holding a day-long gathering in order to empower TGNC API people in the Bay Area towards larger social change in which we all feel safe in our bodies, homes, and communities. During this event, we’re planning for multiple workshops, community building activities, and drop-in hours for TGNC API folks to eat, relax, learn, and connect with others.

Note: Participants do NOT have to attend the full day! You are welcome the full day, but should feel free to drop in to the sessions you are most interested in.


17. Saturday, 1:00pm, March for Our Lives – RALLY & MARCH –  San Francisco 

San Francisco City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl.


Instead of crying we are speaking. Instead of mourning we are protesting. And instead of waiting, the youth across the Bay Area are making our voices heard about gun violence.
Join us at a rally in support of the National #MarchForOurLives movement in San Francisco. Let’s fill Civic Center with our passion and power against gun violence and demand action.



Sunday, March 25 

18. Sunday, 9:30am – 11:00am, Immigration Detention Camps, a CIVIC exposure

First Unitarian Universalist Society
1187 Franklin St.

Rodrigo Torres is a volunteer with CIVIC an organization whose volunteers visit and monitor 43 facilities (including the West County Detention Center in Richmond, California) and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants.

CIVIC is devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration detention, while ending the isolation of people suffering in this profit-driven system. Recently, CIVIC was barred by the Contra Costa sheriff from visiting immigrants at West County because their work has exposed terrible conditions there. CIVIC is fighting back and Rodrigo will inform us on CIVIC’s work, the conditions in the detention camps, how CIVIC plans to fight back against being barred from West County, and how others can help.

Host: UU Forum Committee


19. Sunday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Panel & Workshop: Current Threats to Immigrants 

Congregation Beth El
1301 Oxford St.

Come learn how recent immigration policies affect members of our community. Meet representatives from organizations working for immigrant justice.

1:00 PM: Nosh and Networking
1:30 PM: Presentation by a panel of experts on current immigration issues
3:15 PM: Opportunity to learn about groups doing political, educational, and direct service work with immigrants. Find out how you can participate.

RSVP to   (Walk-ins Welcome)

Co-hosted by Congregation Beth El, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Temple Sinai, the JCC East Bay, and Chochmat HaLev


20. Sunday, 1:30pm – 4:30pm, “Nuclear Cattle” Documentary and Discussion about Fukushima 

Berkeley Central Library, Community Room – 3rd Floor
2090 Kittredge St. (nr Shattuck BART)

“Nuclear Cattle,” directed by Tamotsu Matsubara, focuses on the farmers’ response after the government ordered them to slaughter livestock exposed to radiation due to the disaster.

Matsubara spent about five years making the film, repeatedly returning to affected areas in Fukushima Prefecture from June 2011 onward, capturing the thoughts of the cattle farmers.

“People whose voices aren’t normally heard often ring the truest,” Matsubara says, referring to the people he met.

As a consequence of the disaster, the farmers have been unable to sell cattle exposed to radiation, and are also losing money on food for the animals. Yet in some cases, they continue to keep the cows.

Host: No Nukes Action


21. Sunday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Re-Affirming Sanctuary! 

First Unitarian Universalist Society
1187 Franklin St.

In light of the racist attacks from Trump/Pence, Jeff Sessions and ICE against our immigrant community it is essential that we express our commitment to love and resistance: Celebrating and Re-Affirming Sanctuary — with S.F. Rockin Labor Chorus,Rev. Vanessa Rush SouthernRev. Deborah LeeFrancisco Herrera, immigrant testimonials and more.

No Ban, No Wall, Sanctuary for All! We Stand with the 11 Million!



22. Sunday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm, Feed the People at OGP 

Oscar Grant Plaza Amphitheater
500 14th St.

The last Sunday of every month attendees of the Occupy Oakland General Assembly get together to share some food with each other and the community. There will be a table, utensils/plates, meat and veggie entrees and whatnot, courtesy of the Kitchen Committee, so bring yourself, or something to share as well if you’d like. 

The Occupy Oakland General Assembly meets every Sunday at 4 PM at the Oscar Grant Plaza amphitheater at 14th Street & Broadway. If it is raining (as in RAINING, not just misting) at 4:00 PM we meet at the Omni Collective, 4799 Shattuck Ave., Oakland.


These companies have thousands of data points on YOU!!!

Greg Palast

Published on Mar 18, 2018

The dark art of dynamic psychometric manipulation in politics was not pioneered by Cambridge Analytica for Donald Trump, but by organizations such as i360 Themis, founded by the Koch brothers, and Data Trust, Karl Rove’s data mining operation.

For more on i360 and Data Trust visit:

Despite Possible Blowback, Snowden Decries Anti-Democratic Forces in Russia

“My friends tell me it is dangerous to criticize the Russian government the same as I criticize my own. But each of us are given a limited number of days to make a difference. Life is a choice to live for something, or to die for nothing.”

Edward Snowden called on Russians to take their “future back” from corruption and anti-democratic forces. (Screenshot: Global Editors Network/YouTube)

Despite the possible threat it could pose to his own long-term safety and security, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on Sunday publicly criticized the appearance of ballot fraud and democratic corruption during national elections in Russia, the country where he has enjoyed political asylum since 2013.

While President Vladimir Putin won re-election with “unbelievable seventy-percent of the vote” on Sunday, Snowden posted a widely-shared video that appeared to show election workers stuffing ballot boxes.

While Putin does retain widespread popular support in the country, examples of government corruption are believed commonplace and evidence of ballot-stuffing were not isolated to the single video shared by Snowden.

Though not the first time Snowden has criticized his host country, ThinkProgress‘ Casey Michel points out that it was “by far his most pointed criticism — and one that caused concern from followers for his safety.”

Despite such worries from those who recognized his fragile situation or the possible repercussions, Snowden said he felt honor bound to speak out.

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

Berkeley Occupation update

Please share. Especially to the city council and mayor. Sweet Adelines bake shop is blaming us because she lost business. Remember, she pulled her seating out. No seats in a coffee house means no customers.

But it’s the homeless camp.

–Mike Zint, FTCftH

First they came for the homeless

March 19, 2018

Pay attention to this. They are coming. AGAIN.

Housing as a Human Right

By Steve Martinot

Housing is a human right. That is recognized internationally, and articulated in treaties to which the US is signatory. The fact that there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the US makes this country a mass violator of human rights.

We have a funny way of avoiding this fact. Different levels of government will transform the right to housing into the right to exist without housing (homeless encampments, sleeping on sidewalks, etc.), then set that right to exist in conflict with property rights, and let property rights win. It’s a game played in courts.

The word in Berkeley is that the city is getting ready to raid the encampment on Adeline where the BART tracks emerge. Though that will be a violation of the Constitution, it will not be a violation of the right of government to violate human rights. Sometimes government policy gets pretty ugly.

In Boise, Idaho, in 2015, some homeless people sued the city to stop it from raiding their encampments (Bell vs. Boise). The city had an ordinance that said it was illegal to sleep on public land. The US Dept. of Justice filed a brief supporting the homeless in that case. It argued that if a city could not provide shelter for all the homeless, then it could not bar them from sleeping on public land. To do so amounted to criminalizing one’s status as homeless, rather than one’s conduct. The human (and mammalian) need to sleep refers to existence rather than conduct, and cannot be outlawed. If individuals have no access to private spaces to sleep, then the act of sleeping in public is not a choice and cannot be criminalized.

That argument is based on the 8th Amendment. That is the amendment that bars cruel and unusual punishment. The Court argued that in prohibiting such punishment, the amendment “limits what can be made criminal and punished as such.” Though the law can punish conduct, it cannot punish status. Addiction, for instance, is a status and not a conduct, and cannot be punished. Poverty is a status. For the homeless, if no alternative shelter is provided by the city, they must be left to camp where they can.

The government’s brief in this case actually waxes humanitarian, affirming a broad government interest in ensuring that justice is applied fairly, regardless of wealth or status. This includes an “interest” in breaking any cycle of poverty and criminalization. That, in turn, would necessitate constructive alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness. Various programs have been started, but none have had much effect.

“To criminalize” a social status means to claim a legitimacy in sending police to stop people from existing, and arrest them if they resist. In a police state, the police don’t need a law to enforce. They can do it on their own. Its what happens to some Cinco de Mayo celebrations and to homeless encampments.

In Boise, the court pulled a fast one. It engineered a settlement between that city and its “tired and poor.” The settlement relieved the court of the necessity to make a decision. Since there was no decision, the government’s arguments (about the right to sleep) never attained legal status, nor became part of the law. Status and conduct remained undifferentiated – which implies, with respect to homelessness, that status can be dealt with as conduct – even though that is a violation of human rights.

If you look over at that community of tents strung along the boulevard at 63rd St. (on Adeline St.), you will see a pristine camp, clean, with no trash lying around, and a portapotty just a few feet to the north. These are people who know how to take care of themselves. They have to. The city of Berkeley will not recognize their community, let alone their camp’s existence as a human right. It has raided them over 16 times in the last two years, though it provides shelter for less than 20% of the city’s homeless.

Under the 8th Amendment, when Berkeley police raid that encampment, they will be violating the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.

If housing is a human right, to withhold housing from homeless people is actually to create status as homeless, and to then criminalize status. Wasn’t it a form of criminalizing status that was overthrown by Brown v. Board of Education when it outlawed segregation in schools? Does that mean that prior to that decision, criminalizing status was acceptible? Richard Rothstein, in his book, “The Color of Law,” argues that that was the case. He shows that racially segregated neighborhoods (found in every city) were the result of government policy. To criminalize homeless encampments in Berkeley by raiding them will be very much in the tradition of Jim Crow.

There are vacant buildings in Berkeley that the city could use to provide this human right. Just look along 10th St. north of University. How come it doesn’t? Property rights.

The Berkeley ideology on sidewalks

Cal Penal Code sect 647c states that any person who willfully and maliciously obstracts the free movement of any person in any public space or place is guilty of a crime. The 8th amendment implies that those who are involuntarily on the sidewalk cannot be criminalized.

Berkeley’s City Council believes that sidewalks are for pedestrian passage, and not intended for human habitation. We agree. Government policy fostering homelessness as a status is the problem. If the city cannot provide shelter, then it cannot tell the homeless where they can sleep, without criminalizing sleep.

The city wants to decide where the homeless would not “unreasonably” obstruct access to public space. This is not possible, since homelessness itself is unreasonable. A person living on a sidewalk is already unreasonable, even before the law speaks, or anyone walks by. Blocking public access becomes secondary for a sidewalk that belongs to a society that violates human rights.

If councilmembers think they can differentiate between reasonable and unreasonable use of the sidewalk, they are subjectively choosing which reasonableness they will respect as a condition for considering the other to be unreasonable.

The encampment on Adeline is a celebrated community because it knows how to take care of itself in the face of government refusal. As such, it provides a role model for community autonomy and democracy in general. (For that reason, it has been raided and robbed by the police some 15 or 16 times in the last two years. The city is more concerned with power than decency. It gives the police torture devices like pepper spray to insure public obedience.)

The excuse for the raid

In preparing to raid the encampment, the city’s excuse will not be obstruction of public space (the tents are on the grass), but rather than it is “bad for business.” Word on the street has it that the café/bakery on the west side of the boulevard is facing hard times. People are being scared away. So the homeless are being scapegoated.

Neighborhood wisdom points instead to a more immediate factor, the presence of individuals who are in need of a different kind of assistance. They hang out in front of the bakery and panhandle or beg, or simply approach people to get recognition for their existence. Can you imagine someone simply wishing to have their human existence recognized?

I was sitting at one of the outdoor tables one day drinking coffee, and a fairly large man I had seen around sat down on a chair about three feet away. He was somewhat desheveled, with an unkempt look in his face that spoke of long solitudes, and with a kind of crazed light in his eyes. I was reading at the table, while also reading the day, watching people walk by. I ignored him. After about 10 minutes, he asked me if he could have my coffee. I said no, looking him in the eyes. Both our tones of voice were businesslike, in what amounted to an abbreviated conversation. He took no for an answer. I know a few people who are better “heeled,” and who wouldn’t. A few minutes later, he got up and walked on.

Mental illness? Perhaps. If it were a virus, we could look for vaccines or an antibiotic for it. But it isn’t. It is more like a person whose hand was crushed under a bus, and who then gets kicked around because he can’t work at anything he used to know how to do. PTSD sets in, and there’s no pill for that either. The city has laws against the homeless. It has no time for those who are alone and traumatized by the life they could never find for themselves. And that makes one wonder what mental health would look like?

The main care the city gives wears a blue uniform. They will routinely beat or shoot a mentally troubled person for not obeying orders (RIP Kayla Moore).

The homeless are subjected to scapegoating criminalization in Berkeley, and the traumatized are subjected to discrimination. The city reserves the arbitrary right to decide which is “bad for business.” But that is because it doesn’t want to talk about the “other” reason. And that’s where the city’s hypocrisy comes in.

All last year, the encampment was on that east side of Adeline, but on BART land, out of reach of Berkeley police raids. The city refused to put in a portapotty, so people used the bakery’s facilities, which led the bakery to close them off, as well as a good part of its café space. It was neighbors that finally paid for the portapotty at the encampment. In the meantime, the city’s refusal to provide “human rights” had led the bakery to live a truncated existence.

Housing is a human right

Let me rephrase the US government’s argument in Bell v. Boise. If a city cannot take responsibility for providing the human right to housing, then as a city it has no right to prevent those who have no housing from using public land to live on. To fail to provide housing for people is to violate their human rights.

Some people ask, who decides where homeless people should camp? That depends on whether you live in a police state or a democracy. In a police state, the police decide. In a democracy, the homeless place themselves where they can be seen while waiting for society to act responsibly toward them. The city does studies, but doesn’t consult the homeless themselves, from whom it would get more practical suggestions than it could handle.

Beside the government brief in Bell vs. Boise, and the 8th amendment, there is a third document to which we should refer. That is the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (sect. 14141). Bill Clinton signed it into existence. It says, “individuals have the right to be free from unconstitutional and abusive policing.” Now, that’s a tall order these days. And getting taller as the police get ready to raid the encampment on Adeline again.

But it recalls another sentiment in the government brief about government “interest” in breaking the cycle of poverty and criminalization. Remember the revolving door between government and the corporations? Those who are high corporate officials become members of committees designed to regulate their industry; and those who put in time on those regulatory agencies then get hired by a corporation or two after they retire from “public service.”

With a revolving door between impoverishment and imprisonment, the US has constructed the largest prison system in the world (most of whose “residents” are there for victimless crimes) – along with a cost of living (especially rent levels) that rises while wages lag behind. The entire system produces people who are shell-shocked by life and what it does to them, at a rate comparable to war.

Strangely, the one’s who get attention in the form of raids and criminalization are those who have figured out how to take care of themselves and each other, in order to heal, and to mitigate the force of their circumstances. By raiding them, the city is stating clearly that it wants them truamatized, rather than secure in their intentional communities.

If the city prefers policing a problem to resolving it democratically, its revolving door means it is more obsessed with appearing to arrive at solutions than in doing so. Democratic resolution would necessate the homeless themselves being involved in developing solutions. The city, with all its workshop, task forces, subcommittees, and resolutions, just leaves them out of the conversation. It has never organized assemblies of the homeless, and asked them to come up with real proposals. It has never consulted with the neighborhoods in community assemblies who are beset by the same forces that beset the homeless, with perhaps a little more protection. If the city ever did consult these people, it might just be totally traumatic for it.

How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions


Christopher Wylie, who helped found the data firm Cambridge Analytica and worked there until 2014, has described the company as an “arsenal of weapons” in a culture war.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

(After this story was published, Facebook came under harsh criticism from lawmakers in the United States and Britain. Read the latest.)

LONDON — As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem.

The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.

So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.

An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.


Both Congress and the British Parliament have questioned Alexander Nix, chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, about the firm’s activities. CreditBryan Bedder/Getty Images

Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of its leaders: “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.”

“They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.”

Details of Cambridge’s acquisition and use of Facebook data have surfaced in several accounts since the business began working on the 2016 campaign, setting off a furious debate about the merits of the firm’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques.

But the full scale of the data leak involving Americans has not been previously disclosed — and Facebook, until now, has not acknowledged it. Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s emails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove.

Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.

During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statementexpressing alarm and promising to take action.

“This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network, said in a statement to The Times earlier on Friday. He added that the company was suspending Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Wylie and the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties,” Mr. Grewal said.

Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, and other officials had repeatedly denied obtaining or using Facebook data, most recently during a parliamentary hearing last month. But in a statement to The Times, the company acknowledged that it had acquired the data, though it blamed Mr. Kogan for violating Facebook’s rules and said it had deleted the information as soon as it learned of the problem two years ago.

In Britain, Cambridge Analytica is facing intertwined investigations by Parliament and government regulators into allegations that it performed illegal work on the “Brexit” campaign. The country has strict privacy laws, and its information commissioner announced on Saturday that she was looking into whether the Facebook data was “illegally acquired and used.”

In the United States, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, a board member, Mr. Bannon and Mr. Nix received warnings from their lawyer that it was illegal to employ foreigners in political campaigns, according to company documents and former employees.


The conservative donor Robert Mercer invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, where his daughter Rebekah is a board member. CreditPatrick McMullan, via Getty Images

Congressional investigators have questioned Mr. Nix about the company’s role in the Trump campaign. And the Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has demanded the emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the election.

While the substance of Mr. Mueller’s interest is a closely guarded secret, documents viewed by The Times indicate that the firm’s British affiliate claims to have worked in Russia and Ukraine. And the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, disclosed in October that Mr. Nix had reached out to him during the campaign in hopes of obtaining private emails belonging to Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The documents also raise new questions about Facebook, which is already grappling with intense criticism over the spread of Russian propaganda and fake news. The data Cambridge collected from profiles, a portion of which was viewed by The Times, included details on users’ identities, friend networks and “likes.” Only a tiny fraction of the users had agreed to release their information to a third party.

“Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” Mr. Grewal said. “No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”

Still, he added, “it’s a serious abuse of our rules.”

Reading Voters’ Minds

The Bordeaux flowed freely as Mr. Nix and several colleagues sat down for dinner at the Palace Hotel in Manhattan in late 2013, Mr. Wylie recalled in an interview. They had much to celebrate.

Mr. Nix, a brash salesman, led the small elections division at SCL Group, a political and defense contractor. He had spent much of the year trying to break into the lucrative new world of political data, recruiting Mr. Wylie, then a 24-year-old political operative with ties to veterans of President Obama’s campaigns. Mr. Wylie was interested in using inherent psychological traits to affect voters’ behavior and had assembled a team of psychologists and data scientists, some of them affiliated with Cambridge University.

The group experimented abroad, including in the Caribbean and Africa, where privacy rules were lax or nonexistent and politicians employing SCL were happy to provide government-held data, former employees said.

Then a chance meeting brought Mr. Nix into contact with Mr. Bannon, the Breitbart News firebrand who would later become a Trump campaign and White House adviser, and with Mr. Mercer, one of the richest men on earth.

Mr. Nix and his colleagues courted Mr. Mercer, who believed a sophisticated data company could make him a kingmaker in Republican politics, and his daughter Rebekah, who shared his conservative views. Mr. Bannon was intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics, recalled Mr. Wylie and other former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements. Mr. Bannon and the Mercers declined to comment.

Mr. Mercer agreed to help finance a $1.5 million pilot project to poll voters and test psychographic messaging in Virginia’s gubernatorial race in November 2013, where the Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, ran against Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic fund-raiser. Though Mr. Cuccinelli lost, Mr. Mercer committed to moving forward.

The Mercers wanted results quickly, and more business beckoned. In early 2014, the investor Toby Neugebauer and other wealthy conservatives were preparing to put tens of millions of dollars behind a presidential campaign for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, work that Mr. Nix was eager to win.

When Mr. Wylie’s colleagues failed to produce a memo explaining their work to Mr. Neugebauer, Mr. Nix castigated them over email.

“ITS 2 PAGES!! 4 hours work max (or an hour each). What have you all been doing??” he wrote.

Mr. Wylie’s team had a bigger problem. Building psychographic profiles on a national scale required data the company could not gather without huge expense. Traditional analytics firms used voting records and consumer purchase histories to try to predict political beliefs and voting behavior.

But those kinds of records were useless for figuring out whether a particular voter was, say, a neurotic introvert, a religious extrovert, a fair-minded liberal or a fan of the occult. Those were among the psychological traits the firm claimed would provide a uniquely powerful means of designing political messages.


Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, built an app that helped the firm harvest Facebook data.

Mr. Wylie found a solution at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre. Researchers there had developed a technique to map personality traits based on what people had liked on Facebook. The researchers paid users small sums to take a personality quiz and download an app, which would scrape some private information from their profiles and those of their friends, activity that Facebook permitted at the time. The approach, the scientists said, could reveal more about a person than their parents or romantic partners knew — a claim that has been disputed.

When the Psychometrics Centre declined to work with the firm, Mr. Wylie found someone who would: Dr. Kogan, who was then a psychology professor at the university and knew of the techniques. Dr. Kogan built his own app and in June 2014 began harvesting data for Cambridge Analytica. The business covered the costs — more than $800,000 — and allowed him to keep a copy for his own research, according to company emails and financial records.

All he divulged to Facebook, and to users in fine print, was that he was collecting information for academic purposes, the social network said. It did not verify his claim. Dr. Kogan declined to provide details of what happened, citing nondisclosure agreements with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, though he maintained that his program was “a very standard vanilla Facebook app.”

He ultimately provided over 50 million raw profiles to the firm, Mr. Wylie said, a number confirmed by a company email and a former colleague. Of those, roughly 30 million — a number previously reported by The Intercept — contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles. Only about 270,000 users — those who participated in the survey — had consented to having their data harvested.


An email from Dr. Kogan to Mr. Wylie describing traits that could be predicted.

Mr. Wylie said the Facebook data was “the saving grace” that let his team deliver the models it had promised the Mercers.

“We wanted as much as we could get,” he acknowledged. “Where it came from, who said we could have it — we weren’t really asking.”

Mr. Nix tells a different story. Appearing before a parliamentary committee last month, he described Dr. Kogan’s contributions as “fruitless.”

An International Effort

Just as Dr. Kogan’s efforts were getting underway, Mr. Mercer agreed to invest $15 million in a joint venture with SCL’s elections division. The partners devised a convoluted corporate structure, forming a new American company, owned almost entirely by Mr. Mercer, with a license to the psychographics platform developed by Mr. Wylie’s team, according to company documents. Mr. Bannon, who became a board member and investor, chose the name: Cambridge Analytica.

The firm was effectively a shell. According to the documents and former employees, any contracts won by Cambridge, originally incorporated in Delaware, would be serviced by London-based SCL and overseen by Mr. Nix, a British citizen who held dual appointments at Cambridge Analytica and SCL. Most SCL employees and contractors were Canadian, like Mr. Wylie, or European.

But in July 2014, an American election lawyer advising the company, Laurence Levy, warned that the arrangement could violate laws limiting the involvement of foreign nationals in American elections.

In a memo to Mr. Bannon, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Nix, the lawyer, then at the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, warned that Mr. Nix would have to recuse himself “from substantive management” of any clients involved in United States elections. The data firm would also have to find American citizens or green card holders, Mr. Levy wrote, “to manage the work and decision making functions, relative to campaign messaging and expenditures.”

In summer and fall 2014, Cambridge Analytica dived into the American midterm elections, mobilizing SCL contractors and employees around the country. Few Americans were involved in the work, which included polling, focus groups and message development for the John Bolton Super PAC, conservative groups in Colorado and the campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, the North Carolina Republican.

Cambridge Analytica, in its statement to The Times, said that all “personnel in strategic roles were U.S. nationals or green card holders.” Mr. Nix “never had any strategic or operational role” in an American election campaign, the company said.

Whether the company’s American ventures violated election laws would depend on foreign employees’ roles in each campaign, and on whether their work counted as strategic advice under Federal Election Commission rules.

Cambridge Analytica appears to have exhibited a similar pattern in the 2016 election cycle, when the company worked for the campaigns of Mr. Cruz and then Mr. Trump. While Cambridge hired more Americans to work on the races that year, most of its data scientists were citizens of the United Kingdom or other European countries, according to two former employees.

Under the guidance of Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital director in 2016 and now the campaign manager for his 2020 re-election effort, Cambridge performed a variety of services, former campaign officials said. That included designing target audiences for digital ads and fund-raising appeals, modeling voter turnout, buying $5 million in television ads and determining where Mr. Trump should travel to best drum up support.


The White House advisers Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway with Ms. Mercer at the 2017 inauguration. The firm helped the Trump campaign target voters.

Cambridge executives have offered conflicting accounts about the use of psychographic data on the campaign. Mr. Nix has said that the firm’s profiles helped shape Mr. Trump’s strategy — statements disputed by other campaign officials — but also that Cambridge did not have enough time to comprehensively model Trump voters.

In a BBC interview last December, Mr. Nix said that the Trump efforts drew on “legacy psychographics” built for the Cruz campaign.

After the Leak

By early 2015, Mr. Wylie and more than half his original team of about a dozen people had left the company. Most were liberal-leaning, and had grown disenchanted with working on behalf of the hard-right candidates the Mercer family favored.

Cambridge Analytica, in its statement, said that Mr. Wylie had left to start a rival firm, and that it later took legal action against him to enforce intellectual property claims. It characterized Mr. Wylie and other former “contractors” as engaging in “what is clearly a malicious attempt to hurt the company.”

Near the end of that year, a report in The Guardian revealed that Cambridge Analytica was using private Facebook data on the Cruz campaign, sending Facebook scrambling. In a statement at the time, Facebook promised that it was “carefully investigating this situation” and would require any company misusing its data to destroy it.

Facebook verified the leak and — without publicly acknowledging it — sought to secure the information, efforts that continued as recently as August 2016. That month, lawyers for the social network reached out to Cambridge Analytica contractors. “This data was obtained and used without permission,” said a letter that was obtained by the Times. “It cannot be used legitimately in the future and must be deleted immediately.”

Mr. Grewal, the Facebook deputy general counsel, said in a statement that both Dr. Kogan and “SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica certified to us that they destroyed the data in question.”


Cambridge Analytica harvested over 50 million Facebook users’ data, one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

But copies of the data still remain beyond Facebook’s control. The Times viewed a set of raw data from the profiles Cambridge Analytica obtained.

While Mr. Nix has told lawmakers that the company does not have Facebook data, a former employee said that he had recently seen hundreds of gigabytes on Cambridge servers, and that the files were not encrypted.

Today, as Cambridge Analytica seeks to expand its business in the United States and overseas, Mr. Nix has mentioned some questionable practices. This January, in undercover footage filmed by Channel 4 News in Britain and viewed by The Times, he boasted of employing front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients around the world, and even suggested ways to entrap politicians in compromising situations.

All the scrutiny appears to have damaged Cambridge Analytica’s political business. No American campaigns or “super PACs” have yet reported paying the company for work in the 2018 midterms, and it is unclear whether Cambridge will be asked to join Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

In the meantime, Mr. Nix is seeking to take psychographics to the commercial advertising market. He has repositioned himself as a guru for the digital ad age — a “Math Man,” he puts it. In the United States last year, a former employee said, Cambridge pitched Mercedes-Benz, MetLife and the brewer AB InBev, but has not signed them on.

UPDATES~ALERT~ANNOUNCEMENTS for Sunday, March 18 – Tuesday, March 20 (from Adrienne Fong)

ACCESSIBILITY: Please include Accessibility Information on Events! This is a JUSTICE ISSUE!

Check Indybay for other events: 


Say Her Name: Marielle Franco, a Brazilian Politician Who Fought for Women and the Poor, Was Killed. Her Death Sparked Protests Across Brazil

VIRAL VIDEO: North Carolina student is only one from school to participate in Walkout day (March 15, 2018)

‘A badge of honor’: Some Chicago-area students are getting disciplined for walking out to protest gun violence(March 16, 2018)

   To call the school: their number is 630-719-5860 Christian School to tell them not to punish children for protesting murder.

Eric Reid says owners haven’t signed him because of protests 

ALERT: Support Hasta Muerte Coffee Shop & other progressive establishments. 

Hasta Muerta Coffee Shop
2701 Fruitvale Ave.

Fascists were outside Hasta Muerte, a latinx collectively owned coffee shop  earlier this a.m. Hasta Muerte has asked for support until they close at 2pm; Community People showed up. The shop has received attention and an outpouring of community support after being targeted for refusing to provide service to the police in the interest of keeping themselves and their community safe. Show up if you can and let that support be on going!

Alert from: Causa Justa Just Cause

 Please support this coffee shop.


Monday, Wednesday – Friday 7:00am – 5:00pm

Saturday, 8:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday, 9:00am – 2:00pm

Tuesday – CLOSED


UPDATE @ 12:45pm:

Nazis @ Oakland Farmers Market this morning. Expected @ Revolution Books Berkeley this afternoon. See item #5


Sunday, March 19 – Tuesday, March 20

+ one early Wednesday announcememt 

Sunday, March 19

1. Sunday, 12Noon – 2:00pm, Demonstration for Efrin / Halabja

Meet at: 

BART Station
Powell & Market Sts.

Riseup4Afrin Stop Afrin Genocide
Remembering the Halabja Massacre

Thirty years ago, on March 16, 1988, the regime of then-President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, committed one of the worst atrocities of the modern era: the murder by poison gas of thousands of civilians in the Kurdish-Iraqi town of Halabja.

Massacre in Afrin: Civilians killed in Turkish airstrike

Host: California Kurdish Community Center


2. Sunday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, March Monthly Branch Meeting 

New Valencia Hall
747 Polk St.

12:15pm, COME EARLY for a delicious home-cooked Lunch, served for donation.

Among the topics to be discussed are development of an anti-fascist rapid response network, the Freedom Socialist campaign for U.S. senate in Washington state, plans for a study group on Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, and evaluation of a Black History month film showing of “I Am Not Your Negro.”

The Freedom Socialist Party is a feminist, working-class organization with people of many races, nationalities, sexual orientations and ages. We are activists and educators fighting for an end to all capitalist exploitation and oppression.

We welcome your participation!


3. Sunday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Potluck & Study Group: Outrage & Optimism 

2969 Mission St.

The women’s movement has often been divided over the question of confronting racism and imperialism. Large sections of the women’s movement are co-opted by the Democratic and Republican elites to justify their reactionary policies targeting poor and working women at home and abroad.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation’s women’s magazine, “Breaking the Chains: A Socialist Perspective on Women’s Liberation,” presents a revolutionary perspective on the women’s movement which responds to other trends in the women’s movement who promote racist and imperialist agendas not only through outrage but through action. We know that the answer to the oppression women face is to build a stronger, anti-racist, anti-imperialist movement to uproot the source of women’s oppression: capitalism.


4. Sunday, 4:00pm PT; 7:00pm ET, National Organizing Call: “End the Wars At Home And Abroad 

It is necessary to register. We invite all peace, justice and environmental organizations to have their representative on this call.

Please click here to register for the call

During our first call, on which we had 68 people representing groups from across the country, we agreed to have regional actions on the weekend of April 14 & 15. Since that conference call, actions have been called for the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Washington DC and Atlanta. There are also some local areas that are not close to these regional centers that will be having actions.

All actions, endorsers, some flyers and other information can be found on the web site of our Spring Action 2018 Coalition:

5. Sunday, 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Emergency program: Why do fascist want to burn down REVOLUTION BOOKS 

Revolution Books – Berkeley
2444 Durant Ave.

Featuring Andy Zee,  Spokesperson for Revolution Books and Co-initiator,

Why do fascists want to burn down REVOLUTION BOOKS – a place about knowing and radically changing the whole world?

Three futures are sharply posed: fascism consolidating in the world’s most powerful country with echoes internationally; the system that has given rise to fascism once again; and the potential for a radically different and better world. Revolution Books is the political, intellectual, and cultural center of a movement for an actual revolution to bring about that better world.


Monday, March 19 

 6. Monday, 8:00am – 12Noon, No Tar Sands in San Francisco Bay

Bay Area Air Quality Management District
375 Beale St.

Protect the Water – Join Idle No More SF Bay to say NO TAR SANDS IN OUR BAY!

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a permit to the Phillips 66 Refinery for the Refinery Expansion Project. This is the first part of a project leading the refinery to process more Alberta tar sands and bring in over 93 oil tankers a year filled with tar sands (also called oil sands or dilbit). Tar sands are impossible to completely clean up when accidents occur.

The issuing of the permit came as a complete surprise. The groups working on stopping this permit had no idea that a DEIR had been put out for public comment which resulted in the only comment coming from Phillips 66.

Oil tankers spill. This would be a disaster in our beautiful bay. Join your Indigenous water protectors and land defenders to protect and defend the Bay!

Feel free to make your own signs – suggestions: No Tar Sands in SF Bay, Transparency in BAAQMD, Can’t Clean Up Tar Sands, Save the Bay, No Phillips 66 Expansion, No Phillips 66 Wharf Expansion, We Are Here To Protect The Bay, No Tar Sands Oil Tankers, Stand Up to Big Oil, Tar Sands: Keep It In The Ground

Hosts: Idle No More SF Bay, Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty


7. Monday, 6:15pm, Meet with HOMEY youth and Precita Eyes in creating a beautiful mural for Amilcar! 

2217 Mission St. (18th & Mission)

Join the youth from HOMEY and Precita Eyes in discussions about the mural. Listen to what the mural means to the youth from HOMEY, and throw out ideas of your own!

Here’s a flyer.  

The mural will link Amilcar’s family in Guatemala with our fight here for justice in San Francisco. It will powerfully tell what Amilcar’s story means both to the youth from HOMEY and to us.

All are welcomed!


8. Monday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Public Meeting with EMPOWER: a Thai Sex Worker Collective 

Omni Commons
4799 Shattuck Ave

Presenters Include:
Four Women from Empower
Niki Adams of the English Collective of Prostitutes

Empower Foundation is a sex workers collective in Thailand which for 30 years has been promoting rights and opportunities for sex workers, especially access to education, health and legal advocacy. Over the years 50,000 sex workers have passed through including migrant women from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

This is a unique opportunity to hear directly from sex workers as well as from grassroots women in the Global South who are organizing for survival across different sectors of society.

The English Collective of Prostitutes is a UK based group, founded in 1975, which helps sex workers defend themselves against unjust charges and spearheads campaigns for decriminalization, safety, and for resources so that sex workers can leave sex work if and when they want.

US PROStitutes Collective is a Bay Area based organization, founded in 1982, which won parity for sex workers in compensation claims and with others got policies establishing immunity from arrest for sex workers reporting violence.

Sponsored by Global Women’s Strike/Bay Area, GWS Oni Collective, In Defense of Prostitute Women’s Safety Project, US PROStitutes Collective and Women of Color/GWS.


9. Monday, 7:00pm, Planning meeting for: End the Wars at Home & Abroad Spring 2018 Action 

Niebyl-Proctor Library
6501 Telegraph

Rally and March are for April 15, 2018

Join us to rally and march to end wars at home and abroad.

Gather at 11 AM at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater
Rally at 11:30 AM
March to Oscar Grant Plaza at 12:30 PM
Rally at Oscar Grant Plaza amphitheater, 14th and Broadway at 1:30 PM
Speakers and program TBD

Host: End the Wars at Home & Abroad Spring 2018 Action

Info / Endorse: 

Tuesday, March 20 

10. Tuesday, 8:30am – 9:30am, Equinox: Prayer Ceremony and Save the Shellmound

1900 4th Street


ALERT: The campaign to #SaveTheShellmound is escalating, and your support is needed now. Ohlone families are maintaining their resolve to defend the West Berkeley Shellmound burial ground and sacred site. But cynical developers looking to buy and build on this priceless land are now trying to use a new law, SB35, to expedite approval in 90 days — under the guise of affordable ($80k/yr income) housing.

“Blake Griggs plans to construct a 260-unit apartment complex, half of which would be affordable to households earning 80 percent of area median income, which is $80,400 for a family of four.”

Blake Griggs Properties needs to understand that their divide-and-conquer tactics will not work. Community is asked now to send a strong, clear message that this land is SACRED and off-limits for their development 

***Please come out on the Equinox,*** joining Ohlone leader Corrina Gould and others, to gather in the parking lot on this small part of the larger shellmound.


11. Tuesday, 1:00pm, Gray Panther Meeting: “Gray Panthers and Women’s History” 

Unitarian Center, Fireside Room
1187 Franklin St.

Conversation among Gray Panthers members and friends on experiences on women’s history. In the face of sexism, misogyny from Washington, there has been resistance to Women’s Marches, the #metoo movement and the successful W. Virginia wildcat teachers strike. 

12. Tuesday, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, Demand OPD Charge Mateu for Sahleem’s Murder 

Oakland Police Headquarters
7th & Broadway

We’ve all seen the video! How is it that BART police officer Joseph Mateu has not already been charged with the murder of Sahleem Tindle, after he shot the 28 year old in the back three times? OPD is responsible for the investigation of this murder, since it happened outside of BART property, across from West Oakland BART. Join us to demand that OPD do their job and charge Mateu for murder. Arrest him now!

Sahleem Tindle was murdered by BART Police Officer Joseph Mateu on January 3, 2018. He is now back on the job, after only a two week leave. The family demands: fire, arrest, charge and prosecute Joseph Mateu!

Sponsors: Love Not Blood Campaign, Mothers Fight Back #Justice4Sahleem, & APTP


13. Tuesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Welcome Water Protector SiouxZ 

Intertribal Friendship House
523 International Blvd.

Potluck reception and discussion with Water and Land Protector Vanessa Dundon aka SiouxZ Desbah, and Water Protector Legal Collective, co-sponsored by AIM-West, Intertribal Friendship House, National Lawyers Guild- SF Bay Area Chapter, and Oakland Law Collaborative.

SiouxZ, Diné / Navajo, is a lead plaintiff in a civil rights class action lawsuit challenging the use of fire hoses, explosive grenades, and other violence against the indigenous-led #NoDAPL movement at Standing Rock. A mother of 4, she is also the founder of Missing Flowers: Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Men; an organizer of Honor Life – Protect Bears Ears; and is participating in The Longest Walk 5.3. SiouxZ was shot in the eye while trying to help a journalist to safety during the police attack on water protectors at Backwater Bridge in 2016, and suffered a permanent vision loss. There will also be a legal update from WPLC.

Sponsors: Rachel Lederman and Siouxz Dezbah


14. Tuesday, 7:00pm, Navy’s Next Environmental Clean-up Meeting of Treasure Island 

One Avenues of the Palm
Building 1, Administration Building (just inside the main gate)
Treasure Island

For meeting minutes from past meetings and other Treasure Island information, see the Navy’s  Click on the map and select Former NS Treasure Island in the Prior BRAC dropdown menu.  You can also call and leave a message with your questions about the cleanup (415) 308-1458.

15. Tuesday, 7:30pm – 9:30pm, Sunaina Maira: BOYCOTT! The Academy and Justice for Palestine 

Berkeley Hillside Club
2286 Cedar

Wheelchair accessible

advance tickets: $12: T: 800-838-3006 OR independent bookstores, $15 door, KPFA benefit more info:

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) has expanded rapidly though controversially in the United States in the past five years. The academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a key component of that movement. What is this boycott? Why does it make sense? Why is this an American Studies issue? These key questions and many others are answered in this short essential book. Boycott! situates the academic boycott in the broader history of boycotts in the United States as well as Palestine and shows how it has evolved into a transnational social movement that has spurred profound intellectual and political shifts. It explores the movement’s implications for antiracist, feminist, queer, and academic labor organizing, and examines the boycott in the context of debates about Palestine, Zionism, race, rights-based politics, academic freedom, decolonization, and neoliberal capitalism.

Sunaina Maira has been a leader in the BDS movement, where she is greatly respected for her kindness, insight, maturity, and devotion. These same qualities can be found in her scholarship, as this book shows

Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

Hosted by Vylma V.

Co-Sponsor: KPFA and  Middle East Children’s


16. Tuesday, 8:00pm – 10:00pmPSW Day 2: Film Screening: The Wanted 18 

UC Berkeley
179 Dwinelle Hall

Directed by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan, the Wanted 18 is a 2014 animated documentary that tells a true-life tale of the Palestinian town Beit Sahour in 1988 during the first Intifada.

The film visualizes the matrix of control enacted by the Israeli state. We hope to both highlight and educate ourselves about Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Please come out and be in community! Food and refreshments will be provided.

Sponsor: Bears for Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine – UC Berkeley


Wednesday, March 21

Early Morning 

Wednesday, 9:00am, #NoJusticeNoDeal- Community gathering and public hearing at City Hall about the POA contract.

Meet outside @ 9:00am

SF City Hall, 2nd Floor Room 250
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.

Right now, San Francisco is negotiating a new contract with the police union (Police Officers Association). Usually these negotiations happen behind close doors.

SFPD has abused and killed to many young people of color, Keita O’Neil and Jesus Adolfo Delgado are just the latest victims.

The POA continues to resist needed police reforms.

If the POA want higher pay and benefits they must STOP blocking reforms. No Justice, No Deal!

Prior to the hearing, the community will gather to remember the victims of SFPD violence, most especially the most recent victims, Jesus Adolfo and Keita (Icky) and their families. We’ll share stories, song, poems. We’ll also check signals and share any important information before entering the public hearing itself.

The community gathering begins on the front steps of City Hall at 9am. We’ll then move into the building together.

The hearing, convened by Supervisor Cohen, starts at 10am in Legislative Chamber, Room 250. 

Letter to Mayor Farrell – All can sign on to it even if you live outside of San Francisco.

Host: NoJusticeNoDeal


“The War on the Post Office” by Ellen Brown

The US Postal Service, under attack from a manufactured crisis designed to force its privatization, needs a new source of funding to survive. Postal banking could fill that need.

The US banking establishment has been at war with the post office since at least 1910, when the Postal Savings Bank Act established a public savings alternative to a private banking system that had crashed the economy in the Bank Panic of 1907. The American Bankers Association was quick to respond, forming a Special Committee on Postal Savings Legislation to block any extension of the new service. According to a September 2017 article in The Journal of Social History titled “‘Banks of the People’: The Life and Death of the U.S. Postal Savings System,” the banking fraternity would maintain its enmity toward the government savings bank for the next 50 years.

As far back as the late 19th century, support for postal savings had united a nationwide coalition of workers and farmers who believed that government policy should prioritize their welfare over private business interests. Advocates noted that most of the civilized nations of the world maintained postal savings banks, providing depositors with a safe haven against repeated financial panics and bank failures. Today, postal banks that are wholly or majority owned by the government are still run successfully not just in developing countries but in France, Switzerland, Israel, Korea, India, New Zealand, Japan, China, and other industrialized nations.

The US Postal Savings System came into its own during the banking crisis of the early 1930s, when it became the national alternative to a private banking system that people could not trust. Demands increased to expand its services to include affordable loans. Alarmed bankers called it the “Postal Savings Menace” and warned that it could result in the destruction of the entire private banking system.

But rather than expanding the Postal Savings System, the response of President Franklin Roosevelt was to buttress the private banking system with public guarantees, including FDIC deposit insurance. That put private banks in the enviable position of being able to keep their profits while their losses were covered by the government. Deposit insurance along with a statutory cap on the interest paid on postal savings caused postal banking to lose its edge. In 1957, under President Eisenhower, the head of the government bureau responsible for the Postal Savings System called for its abolition, arguing that “it is desirable that the government withdraw from competitive private business at every point.” Legislation to liquidate the Postal Savings System was finally passed in 1966. One influential right-wing commentator, celebrating an ideological victory, said, “It is even conceivable that we might transfer post offices to private hands altogether.”

Targeted for Takedown

The push for privatization of the US Postal Service has continued to the present. The USPS is the nation’s second largest civilian employer after WalMart and has been successfully self-funded without taxpayer support throughout its long history; but it is currently struggling to stay afloat. This is not, as sometimes asserted, because it has been made obsolete by the Internet. In fact the post office has gotten more business from Internet orders than it has lost to electronic email. What has pushed the USPS into insolvency is an oppressive congressional mandate that was included almost as a footnote in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), which requires the USPS to prefund healthcare for its workers 75 years into the future. No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees yet unborn. The pre-funding mandate is so blatantly unreasonable as to raise suspicions that the nation’s largest publicly-owned industry has been intentionally targeted for takedown.

What has saved the post office for the time being is the large increase in its package deliveries for Amazon and other Internet sellers. But as Jacob Bittle notes in a February 2018 article titled “Postal-Service Workers Are Shouldering the Burden for Amazon,” this onslaught of new business is a mixed blessing. Postal workers welcome the work, but packages are much harder to deliver than letters; and management has not stepped up its hiring to relieve the increased stress on carriers or upgraded their antiquated trucks. The USPS simply does not have the funds.

Bittle observes that for decades, Republicans have painted the USPS as a prime example of government inefficiency. But there is no reason for it to be struggling, since it has successfully sustained itself with postal revenue for two centuries. What has fueled conservative arguments that it should be privatized is the manufactured crisis created by the PAEA. Unless that regulation can be repealed, the USPS may not survive without another source of funding, since Amazon is now expanding its own delivery service rather than continuing to rely on the post office. Postal banking could fill the gap, but the USPS has been hamstrung by the PAEA, which allows it to perform only postal services such as delivery of letters and packages and “other functions ancillary thereto,” including money orders, international transfers, and gift cards.

Renewing the Postal Banking Push

Meanwhile, the need for postal banking is present and growing. According to the Campaign for Postal Banking, nearly 28% of US households are underserved by traditional banks. Over four million workers without a bank account receive pay on a payroll card and spend $40-$50 per month on ATM fees just to access their pay. The average underserved household spends $2,412 annually – nearly 10% of gross income – in fees and interest for non-bank financial services. More than 30,000 post offices peppered across the country could service these needs.

The push to revive postal banking picked up after January 2014, when the USPS Inspector General released a white paper making the case for postal banks and arguing that many financial services could be introduced without new congressional action. The cause was also taken up by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, and polling showed that it had popular support.

In a January 2018 article in Slate titled “Bank of America Just Reminded Us of Why We Need Postal Banking,” Jordan Weissman observes that Bank of America has now ended the free checking service on which lower-income depositors have long relied. He cites a petition protesting the move, which notes that Bank of America was one of the sole remaining brick-and-mortar banks offering free checking accounts to their customers. “Bank of America was known to care for both their high income and low income customers,” said the petition. “That is what made Bank of America different.” But Weissman is more skeptical, writing:

What this news mostly shows is that we shouldn’t rely on for-profit financial institutions to provide basic, essential services to the needy. We should rely on the post office.

In spite of what some of its customers may have thought, Bank of America never cared very much about its poorer depositors. That’s because banks don’t care about people. They care about profits. And lower-middle class households who have trouble maintaining a minimum balance in a checking account are, by and large, not very profitable customers, unless they’re paying out the nose in overdraft fees.

Those modest accounts won’t be hugely profitable for the Postal Service either, but postal banking can be profitable through economies of scale and the elimination of profit-taking middlemen, as postal banks globally have demonstrated. The USPS could also act immediately to expand and enhance certain banking products and services within its existing mandate, without additional legislation. According to the Campaign for Postal Banking, these services include international and domestic money transfers, bill pay, general-purpose reloadable postal cards, check-cashing, automated teller machines (ATMs), savings services, and partnerships with government agencies to provide payments of government benefits and other services.

A more lucrative source of postal revenue was also suggested by the Inspector General: the USPS could expand into retail lending for underserved sectors of the economy, replacing the usurious payday loans that can wipe out the paychecks of the underbanked. To critics who say that government cannot be trusted to run a lending business efficiently, advocates need only point to China. According to Peter Pham in a March 2018 article titled “Who’s Winning the War for China’s Banking Sector?”:

One of the largest retail banks is the Postal Savings Bank of China. In 2016 retail banking accounted for 70 percent of this bank’s service package. Counting about 40,000 branches and servicing more than 500 million separate clients, the Postal Savings Bank’s asset quality is among the best. Moreover, it has significantly more growth potential than other Chinese retail banks.

Neither foreign banks nor private domestic retail banks can compete with this very successful Chinese banking giant, which is majority owned by the government. And that may be the real reason for the suppression of postal banking in the US. Bankers continue to fear that postal banks could replace them with a public option – one that is safer, more efficient, more stable, and more trusted than the private financial institutions that have repeatedly triggered panics and bank failures, with more predicted on the horizon.

This article was originally published on  


Ellen Brown is an attorney, chairman of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. Her 300+ blog articles are posted at

The latest domestic tragedy…

I wake up every morning, and at some point turn on RT News. Inevitably, these days, I see pictures of tens of thousands of Syrians escaping Eastern Ghouta. I don’t see this on the mainstream news. Why?

There are consequences to war. There are realities of American military belligerence towards sovereign countries where we were never invited to enter.
But somehow the so-called mainstream doesn’t think it necessary to show us that face of war. Why?
We are paying for it with our tax dollars. And the People of Syria are paying for it with their lives and their homes. And yet we go about our lives completely disconnected to a world out there of our causing.
Have you seen the damage of concrete structures completely obliterated in Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan? How many other countries’ architecture and landscape has been despoiled due to American military might that they are not telling us about, but all being done in our name.
And Americans go about their lives, shopping, immersing themselves in the small talk of local sports teams, chatting about the latest domestic horror in our schools until that dies down, and then we almost hope for another so our lives won’t be so devoid of something to talk about and we can feel connected to one another.
While at the same time, drones are pinpointing persons and objects the CIA, acting as our American Decider, deems in Our National Interest to destroy, collateral damage notwithstanding.
While at the same time, refugees from especially the Middle East and Africa are being treated as pariahs by the very same countries that caused them to flee in the first place from their war torn countries. You know, NATO, America’s military long reach into Europe.
But Americans have no conscious awareness that it is us, Obama’s Exceptional Nation, that is wreaking such chaos and destruction on human families thousands of miles away. Our media hides this from us and We prefer to pretend it’s not happening really.
We have too much on our plates to be concerned.
Wars? What wars?
Syria, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, and where else that we don’t know of.
What wars? Ask Americans about the wars. The majority of them will just look at you dumbfounded. What wars? What lives?
What am I supposed to do about it? I’m just one person, they will say.
And it’s back to shopping, sports chatter, the latest domestic tragedy…
–Bob of Occupy

Next Time Wall Street Needs Bailout, Say Critics, Remember Names of These 16 Democrats

‘An ugly reflection of Wall Street’s political clout in both parties, purchased through billions in political spending over many decades.’

Support for ‘Bank Lobbyist Act’ by these Democrats, said Public Citizen, is an “ugly reflection of Wall Street’s political clout in both parties, purchased through billions in political spending over many decades.” (Image: Public Citizen / Twitter)


“Remember these names the next time Wall Street tanks our economy and taxpayers are left to bail out the Big Banks.”

That was the declaration by the progressive advocacy group Public Citizen late Wednesday after 17 members of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate joined with Republicans to pass a sweeping deregulatory banking bill, derisively referred to as the “Bank Lobbyist Act” by critics.

In addition to Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), 16 Democrats joined a unified Republican caucus in approving the so-called “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act”: Michael Bennet (Col.), Tom Carper (Del.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mont.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.).

The explanation for the lawmakers’ support for the bill, said Public Citizen, isn’t hard to explain or understand:

“Washington insiders are telling a story about centrist Democrats up for reelection aiming to demonstrate their commitment to bipartisanship,” said the Robert Weissman, the group’s president, in a statement. “But that fairy tale is upside down: among the public, there is in fact overwhelming bipartisan opposition to Wall Street deregulation.”

And Public Citizen was hardly alone in expressing its frustration with the 16 Democrats and Sen. Angus King, Independent of Maine, who caucuses with them: