Glenda Jackson launches tirade against Thatcher in tribute debate


Barnet Bugle
Published on Apr 10, 2013 (Thatcher died on April 8, 2013)

Causing howls of outrage, and grimaces on fellow Labour MPs faces, Glenda Jackson MP defies the respectful mood of the chamber by launching a nasty, angry and ferocious assault on ‘Thatcherism’ – earrings bouncing around – in a debate marked by calm tribute to the late great Lady Thatcher.

Tony Baldry shows his outrage, shared by many, to the Speaker if her comments were in order. Follow us @barnetbugle

UPDATE: – CANCELLED tomorrow 12 Noon Rally at S.F. ICE – Rally will be in Oakland (from Adrienne Fong)

San Francisco event for tomorrow at 12Noon is CANCELLED.  Event will be in Oakland

Oakland: National Day of Action for Children

June 01, 2018 • 12:00 PM

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

1401 Lakeside Dr

Oakland, CA 94612

Petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/where-are-the-children

Image may contain: text

Graphic: National Domestic Workers Alliance

Join us for a National Day of Action for Children event on Friday, June 1st to tell the Trump Administraiton that families belong together! We’ll hear from kids, parents, and local leaders, and demand that the Trump Administration stop separating children from their families, and protect the well-being of all children — no exceptions.

Hosted by: Families Belong Together, United We Dream, National Domestic Workers Alliance, MomsRising.org

  Many other groups are co-sponsoring this event.

San Francisco 2.0 The Tech Giants

  • 1960’s The ouster of African-American families from the Fillmore

  • 1960-1970’s SF Redevelopment Agency’s money-driven displacement of thousands of low-income South of Market residents

  • 1960-1970’s The destruction of SROs and other affordable housing

  • 1980’s “Manhattanization”

  • 1990’s The dot com boom

Gavin Newsom:
“no, the tech companies aren’t even coming close to giving back enough”

Willy Brown:
“what happens to all of these young geniuses who are part of all these startups and obviously more than 90% of startups never go anywhere at some point the investors and all the people who provided the startup money will be gone and all these young people all of whom are talented gifted and what-have-you will be at a loss they’ll be in our city, will they become the next group of people we have to look out for? I am really concerned about that”

Robert Reich:
“San Francisco is a microcosm for what is happening all over the world. We have a tradition of helping one another, but as we separate by income and by place, as we segregate geographically by our incomes, as we loose contact across classes, can we maintain a sense of being one people? I’m worried about a city that is becoming out of reach and out of touch.”

Jerry Brown:

“that is the anomalous nature of this internet culture. It is creating winners and losers and exasperating that gap.


ARk1T3CH
Published on Aug 13, 2017
Retrospectiva a La Contracultura de SF.
Copyright © 2015 Home Box Office Inc.

(Submitted by John Fraser.)

Note from Lindsey Krantz to FTCftH

Dear Berkeley Homeless Supporters,

Thank you very much for all your support while I was homeless in Berkeley. I flew back to Indiana yesterday to take care of my health and be with family. I’m living at my mom’s apartment now.

I will never forget how strangers, near-strangers, and acquaintances showed me compassion during my mental health crisis, how the community aided me when I got out of John George Concentration Camp (or “psychiatric pavilion”) with no money, clothes, food, ID, or plan. I also had no place to live because the slum lord changed the locks while I was in the hospital.

Without this support network, I would have been much sadder and in physical danger than I was with your aid. I appreciate it so much and will not forget it. You saved my life and I’m living to fight another day.

Thank you to First They Came For The Homeless especially. The rules gave me structure, safety, stability, and helped keep me clean from hard drugs due to camp expectations. I can be filed under “housed due to FTCFTH efforts.” Campers helped me get my head on straight in a community that oddly resembles 24-7 dialectical behavioral therapy (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_behavior_therapy), while giving me time to heal my relationship with my mom.

The Berkeley City Council sickens me and I hope you can get them to act right. Good luck.

I look forward to updates on the ongoing homeless litigation in Berkeley. Give them hell.

Again, thanks for treating me like a human being, cutting through the thorny hedgerows that oppressors use to attempt to keep us apart.

In struggle,

Lindsey Krantz

EN.M.WIKIPEDIA.ORG
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based[1]psychotherapy designed to help people suffering from borderline personality disorder. It has also been used to treat mood disorders as well as those who need to change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm, suicidal ide…

“We See You”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Russell Okung
L.A. CHARGERS

SEP 2 2016 (theplayerstribune.com)

The more I read about the controversy surrounding 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand during the national anthem, and his efforts to shine a light on injustice in this country, the more I think about Tommie Smith and John Carlos.In 1968, in the midst of heated racial tension, Smith and Carlos used their platforms to change the world. At the Summer Olympics that year, Smith earned a gold medal in the men’s 200-meter dash, while Carlos won a bronze, and during the medal ceremony the two engaged in a powerful demonstration. With the national anthem playing in the background, they displayed one of the most symbolic gestures in Olympics history: The two men each raised a fist, showing their commitment to the civil rights movement.I’ve always wondered if, at the time, they believed that their showing of solidarity with Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, and the recently assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., would even make a difference. But, as it turned out, a simple act on the world stage would surprise many, and show that change was needed.

The two competitors inspired millions around the globe and shed light on the oppression experienced by African-Americans in the United States. Their punishment, of course, would be severe. Soon after they took their stand, Smith and Carlos were expelled from the Olympics and made into public enemies. At home in the U.S., they received death threats. A moment of solidarity almost immediately became a swift burden. But when asked back then why he sacrificed the glory of the Games after earning a medal, John Carlos answered: “I can’t eat that. And the kids ’round my block can’t eat it. They can’t eat publicity, they can’t eat gold medals. All they want is an equal chance to be a human being.”

Think about that for a second.

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Now, fast-forward to 2016. During his team’s preseason games, Colin Kaepernick has opted to remain seated during the pregame performance of the national anthem. After several recent shooting tragedies and a summer marked by growing racial tensions, Colin felt as though he had to do something. He explained that his actions represent an effort to protest the lack of inclusivity and equal opportunity for minorities, particularly African-Americans in the United States. However, while not his intention, many saw his action as anti-American and anti-military.

It’s important to recognize the distinction between our country’s symbols — such as the flag or the anthem — and the military, or our country as a whole. The flag is a powerful symbol of Americanism — a concept that includes freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom as a whole.

If you watch the entire interview, Colin was clear that it was not his intention to disrespect the military. His intent was to bring awareness to the injustices faced by regular people every day — people who are judged based on the color of their skin to be dangerous individuals unworthy of equal opportunity or the benefit of the doubt when crossing the street, walking into a store, or peacefully protesting senseless violence at the hands of police and others.

Colin’s goal was to use his platform to raise the visibility of issues that cannot and should not fall by the wayside as the media moves on to other news. He’s not the first athlete to speak up, and he won’t be the last. For those of us who have witnessed and lived injustice, struggled with racism, and experienced police brutality, we have an obligation and a responsibility to make our voices heard. In my case, it was always my dream to play professional football but ever since my dream came true, I’ve walked a tightrope between fans’ expectations of me on and off the field. Those expectations aren’t always harmonious when they collide with reality.

As we step on the field, our job is to play our best football and to help the team win. What we do as players beyond that commitment to our team and to our fans, is individual to each of us, and is part of what it means to be American and to feel comfortable expressing our views when, where and how we believe is best.

When challenged, Colin expressed that he did not regret his decision and that he plans to continue sitting through the anthem as a way to demonstrate the need not only to revive our national conversation on race relations, but also to encourage solutions that can bring about change.

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In a modern sports world that is over-commercialized and numb, taking a stand in that way is far from common. It’s so rare that, in fact, it seems shocking. But it shouldn’t be. Smith and Carlos didn’t worry about protecting their endorsement deals or succumb to sponsorship offerings up on that podium in ’68. They felt an obligation to do what was right. So they took action, even though they knew there would be repercussions.

As a society, we so often want to see the arenas and fields solely as a place for play. But what many people miss is the transcendent power of sport. Athletics has always been a part of our political context and has played an important role in shaping the culture we are a part of. And that’s not just the case here in America; it’s been true around the globe. In the battle against apartheid, Nelson Mandela noted that sport, “has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” Sports can create hope where once there was only despair. And, in some cases, athletics can be more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.

When athletes recognize this and use their platform to spur change within society, fierce criticism is almost inevitable. But the 24-hour news spin cycle and divisive political power plays don’t help matters — we need to figure out how to address the important issues being raised together. Colin intended to elevate a conversation that must continue to be an active part of our dialogue in the country for all citizens, regardless of their race, background or personal history.

In his view, something’s gotta give.

Millions of people, from all walks of life, cried out when Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the Dallas police officers and others were shot in cold blood. But what has changed? People get angry, make speeches and protest, but what laws are being modified? Who is changing police academy manuals? How are we putting actionable items at the forefront? How is anything really changing?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers. But I do what I can, and I believe in what I do. Real courage requires taking action when conditions are not favorable. For me, sports have provided an opportunity to dig in on an issue that I feel strongly about — diversity and the tech sector. Through the GREATER Foundation, I’m actively working to build a pipeline of talented minority engineers. Black and Latino workers are dramatically underrepresented in Silicon Valley, and other tech centers around the world, and if opportunity is truly going to be equal for all, we need to create more on-ramps from a more diverse range of backgrounds to these hotbeds of economic activity.

That subject is something that’s important to me. And just as I have issues that I am passionate about, I believe other athletes have the right to advance issues that are personally important to them — be it Colin Kaepernick, Magic Johnson, Serena Williams or any number of others.

USATSI_9504182

My challenge to athletes, and to anyone else who has a platform available to them, is to be passionate and creative in your thinking and approach. There are so many different ways to address injustice in this country. We can’t all try to solve these problems in the exact same way, and we should welcome a diversity of approaches.

I beg that we graduate beyond the thinking of our predecessors. They marched together and had frequent ways to move the needle, but in the modern, technological age, there are so many additional ways to go about trying to improve how our society functions. There are sustainable grassroots community programs that benefit immensely from athlete influence. In addition, we have social media acting as a direct medium to connect with fans and share our voices — we can use Twitter to call out injustice or correct inaccurate quotes, post photos to show our appreciation for getting the opportunity to do what we love every day, and more. Let’s take advantage of this technology and keep the momentum going.

If you’re not sure how to make a difference, look to what goes on around you — in meetings you attend or at the workplace or in the media. Refuse to be a part of anything that won’t move us as a people forward. Know that your platform, regardless if it’s as big as others, matters to our world.

Oh, and if you’re Colin Kaepernick, know that we see you, man. Thank you for reigniting the conversation and the movement for change.

Russell Okung

L.A. CHARGERS

UPDATES ~ Occasional ANNOUNCEMENTS – Wed. May 30 – Sun. June 3 (from Adrienne Fong)

Occasional list of ~ updates ~  announcements

Please consider posting your events on Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/

Check Indybay for events not listed in this announcement that might be of interest to you.

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

UPDATES:

A. SF Police Commission to get new members in era of reform (May 29, 2018)

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sf-police-commission-get-new-members-era-reform/

B. Israel is universally rejected in US for the first time: Journalist

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/26/563006/Israel-is-universally-rejected-in-US-for-the-first-time

C. ACLU alleges that immigrant minors were mistreated in custody during Obama years (May 23, 2018)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/aclu-immigrant-minors-routinely-mistreated-in-custody-during-obama-years/2018/05/23/b7cb31a8-5e00-11e8-a4a4-c070ef53f315_story.html?utm_term=.5a8b13e9ffaf

D. Community Protests DA Gascón Letting Cops Off the Hook for Murders of Mario Woods and Luis Góngora Pat

 From Indybay – Article, Videos & Photos of demo on Friday, May 25th in the Mission

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/05/27/18815261.php

E. Kaepernick & NFL on Taking to the Knee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuTTEh2gi1g&feature=youtu.be 

Youtube below–15 min. long. Hard to watch but a must see. 

24 Hours For 24 Lives Taken By Killer SFPD Cops With No Charges

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CGwQ3h_2OE&feature=youtu.be

This video contains graphic images of SFPD shootings and may upset viewers. Please use your discretion in viewing.

From April 25 to April 26, 2018, a 24 hour vigil was held for the 24 people killed by SFPD officers with 0 charges, during District Attorney George Gascon’s time in office.

A month later, last Thursday May 24, D.A. Gascón declined to press charges—again!—against the SFPD killers of Luis Góngora Pat and Mario Woods.

A system that never gives justice invites us to found our own system of justice.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Wednesday May 30 – Sunday June 3

Wednesday, May 30

1. Wednesday, 11:00am – 12Noon, End the SF Gang Injunctions Press Conference + Rally

SF City Hall (steps)
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.
SF

Come stand with us as we call on the San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera to #EndtheSanFranciscoGangInjunctions

Recently, the City Attorney removed 34 out of the 42 people named on the Western Addition gang injunction under pressure from community advocates. While this is a good start, we want the City Attorney to remove all listed individuals from ALL gang injunction in San Francisco.

Join us on the San Francisco City Hall steps to call for an end to the injunctions.

Sponsor: Coalition to End the San Francisco Gang Injuction

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/584118488624350 

2. Wednesday, 6:00pm, Panel on: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 

Redstone Building
2940 16th Street (nr. 16th St. BART)
SF

RSVP

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdo737j_qIe9sI1sq4LG97fk1mr_6SWhmE4kJWhn8YMaMQj8w/viewform

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada that negatively impacted millions of workers in the United States and partner countries.

One of President Trump’s biggest campaign promises was to renegotiate NAFTA to benefit working people and their families. Most of the people President Trump nominated to his cabinet are the same multimillionaires and billionaires who supported TPP and NAFTA-style trade agreements.

Just as bad, the Trump Administration has made every round of negotiations classified to the public, which means we have had to mobilize at an unprecedented level to have a voice in these negotiations.

Please join us alongside our partners from the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition in an important panel on NAFTA’s past, present and future.

You will hear from labor, environmental and social justice leaders as they discuss the impact NAFTA has had and you will learn what we need to do to take action in this critical moment.

Panel Moderated by Rudy Gonzalez, Interim Executive Director, San Francisco Labor Council

Featured speakers include:

Noemi Tungui, Northern California Organizer Food and Water Watch

Catherine Houston, California Political Director United Steelworkers District 12

Gary Hughes, Senior California Advocacy Campaigner Friends of the Earth

AND MORE!

3. Wednesday, 6:30pm, Claudia Patricia Gómez González – Vigil 

501 I Street, #4200
Sacramento

We need justice for all victims that have been murdered with impunity by authorities. Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 20 year old that was murdered by U.S Border Patrol in Rio Bravo, Texas. Global fascist capitalist are killing innocent people all over the world. We demand peace, end the separation of families defunding and demilitarization of ICE. Join us in a vigil to commemorate Claudia Patricia Gómez González. Please bring your signs and candle.

Sponsors: Labor Council for Latin America Advancement – Sacramento AFL-CIO

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/391365094681805/

Thursday, May 31 

4. Thursday, 11:00am – 12 Noon, Unhoused & Poor People from the Bay Area Join Poor Peoples March

SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.
SF

On May 31st, houseless & formerly unhoused families from the Bay Area will announce their journey to join poor & Unhoused families from across the country to gather in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, the poorest District in Pennsylvania, for the Poor People’s March on Washington, D.C.

This march which will launch on June 2nd will mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City erected in 1968 on the National Mall. The march will begin on June 2nd from the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia and end on June 12th at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. where we will be joined by the Homeless Marathon.

Sponsor: POOR Magazine

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/614893658872344/ 

5. Thursday, 3:00pm, Food Not Bombs –San Francisco

For information or to volunteer:  send email to sffnbvolunteers@riseup.net.

Cookhouse:  Station 40, 3030B 16th Street (between Mission and Julian).

Food Pickups: Help Needed!

Cooking:  3030B 16th Street–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!

6. Thursday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Palestinian Voices: On Gaza and Jerusalem 

Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave.
Alameda

Presentation and Q&A on the current situation, featuring
• Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center
• Hatem Bazien, UC Berkeley professor and national chair of American Muslims for Palestine
• Ziad Abbas, Middle East Children’s Alliance

Refreshments provided
RSVP at https://palestinian-voices-on-gaza-and-jerusalem.eventbrite.com
Questions? Contact Rev. Michael Yoshii, michaelyoshii1@gmail.com

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/162301974616941/

Friday, June 1 

7. Friday, June 1 – 8:30am  – Saturday, June 2, 5:00pm, Sanctuary: Caminando Hacia la Libertad

Islamic Cultural Center Northern California
1433 Madison St.
Oakland

Sanctuary: Caminando Hacia la Libertad is a 2-day convening that serves to strengthen and organize people of faith in our sanctuary work across California to respond in an increasingly dangerous climate for immigrant communities in 2018. Join us to learn tools and best practices to create a more prophetic path towards liberation, caminando hacia la libertad, where all can live with dignity and wholeness.

Register by May 29, 2018 and learn more at:
www.im4humanintegrity.org/sanctuaryconvening2018

There is no set registration fee, but we invite donations to help us cover meals, venue, materials and other conference costs. Suggested donation is $70 for attending two days and $45 for one day, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. We invite people to give what they can, as they are able, after registering in the link above!

Sponsor: Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/195601674387085/ 

8. Friday, 12Noon, Families Belong Together – Rally at ICE 

ICE
630 Sansome St.
SF

Register to attend:

https://go.peoplepower.org/event/action/13977/signup/?source=ppem_52830&t=3&akid=52830%2E91606%2EbKfAk1

We need to raise our voices against the key actors who are carrying out Trump’s family separation orders: ICE, the Border Patrol, and U.S. Attorneys. ICE and the Border Patrol apprehend and separate families while US Attorneys enforce the separation in legal proceedings.

Sponsor: ACLU – People Power

9. Friday’s, 12Noon – 2:00pm, Mothers on the March Against Police Murders 

Hall of Justice
850 Bryant St.
SF

Please join us to demand that DA George Gascon charge police officers with murder!

10. Friday, 2:00pm – 3:00pm, Melt ICE with UNITE HERE Local 2! 

ICE
630 Sansome St.
SF

All are welcomed to stand with Local 2 members in support of immigrants and against deportations!

Check 415-864-8770 ext 733 to be sure that they will be present.

11. Friday, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Protest Christian Fascist Franklin Graham! 

Meet at:

corner of University and 6th St. (at the foot of the bridge going over the freeway).
Berkeley

(Franklin Graham is Billy Graham’s son)

Protest Christian fascist preacher Franklin Graham in Berkeley June 1! He is holding a religious “revival” – it is in fact another brick in the wall of the Trump/Pence regime. Trump would not be president without the Christian fundamentalist faithful. And the Trump/Pence regime has been busy carrying out the whole Handmaid’s tale/white supremacist/Holy War against Islam/end-times agenda that Graham has been working on for many years. Franklin Graham? In Berkeley? Hell no!

Sponsor: Refuse Fascism Bay Area

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/2170147953205015/

12. Friday, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, Confronting Transphobia: Trans Youth of Color Fight Back! 

New Valencia Hall
747 Polk St.
SF

Doors open at 6pm, Presentation/Discussion at 6:30pm

Door donation $2-5, Light supper available for $7
Nobody turned away for lack of funds.

From forbidding trans youth to use bathrooms matching their gender identity to banning trans people in the military, transphobia is rampant. The Trump administration is waging an all-out assault on transgender people.

Despite this, transgender youth are joining with immigrant advocates and unions to defend equality for all gender-nonconforming people. Their militancy harkens back to the Stonewall Rebellion that sparked the modern LGBTQ movement.

Kristina Lee, Transgender rights advocate, queer Black and Chinese American feminist and antifascist activist will make a brief presentation before open discussion.

Host: Freedom Socialist Party Bay Area

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/05/18/18809286.php

Saturday, June 2 

13. Saturday, 12 Noon – 4:00pm, Sex Worker Justice Now! – Rally & March

Oscar Grant Plaza
(Frank H. Ogawa Plaza)
Oakland

We are protesting, rallying & marching with the following goals in mind:
1/ To make more Bay Area residents & local media aware of the systematic violence against sex workers:
• Repercussions of FOSTA/SESTA legislation • Police violence • Anti-trafficking legislation that continuously conflates sex work & “sex trafficking” • How criminalization damages our communities •

2/ Sex worker justice is inherently tied to the justice of transgender, BIPOC, LGBTQ, femme & GNC, undocumented, poor/low-income, drug using communities

3/ Elevate specific SWer community voices

4/ Be visible & celebrate: come together & show each other some serious love during this tough political time

5/ Celebrate the St. James Infirmary’s 19th B-Day!

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/619421805075885/

Sunday, June 3 

14. Sunday, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, Haiti Report Back – A Benefit for Community Radio in Haiti

La Peña Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley

$10-25 no one turned away

with Margaret PrescodPierre LabossiereDevonte JacksonWalter RileyLeslie Mullin.

A report back of a recent delegation to Haiti with activists from Haiti Action Committee, BAJI-Oakland, and Global Women’s Strike. Come hear about the unbreakable resistance of the people of Haiti, who persevere in the face of US-orchestrated coups, stolen elections, violent repression and natural disasters worsened by corporate greed and government corruption.

Eyewitness accounts of the first graduation ceremony at the University of the Aristide Foundation [UniFA]; community education through radio; local food production; and grassroots mobilizations against corruption, repression and occupation.

We will share news about meetings with activists from Haiti’s popular movement including youth, agricultural workers, peasant movement leaders, human rights attorneys, school teachers, journalists/reporters, and market women 

Sponsored by Haiti Action Committee, BAJI-Oakland, Global Women’s Strike, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, and La Pena Cultural Center.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1459361677506926/

Blackstone, BlackRock or a Public Bank? Putting California’s Funds to Work

California has over $700 billion parked in private banks earning minimal interest, private equity funds that contributed to the affordable housing crisis, or shadow banks of the sort that caused the banking collapse of 2008. These funds, or some of them, could be transferred to an infrastructure bank that generated credit for the state – while the funds remained safely on deposit in the bank.

California needs over $700 billion in infrastructure during the next decade. Where will this money come from? The $1.5 trillion infrastructure initiative unveiled by President Trump in February 2018 includes only $200 billion in federal funding, and less than that after factoring in the billions in tax cuts in infrastructure-related projects. The rest is to come from cities, states, private investors and public-private partnerships (PPPs) one. And since city and state coffers are depleted, that chiefly means private investors and PPPs, which have a shady history at best.

2011 report by the Brookings Institution found that “in practice [PPPs] have been dogged by contract design problems, waste, and unrealistic expectations.” In their 2015 report “Why Public-Private Partnerships Don’t Work,” Public Services International stated that “experience over the last 15 years shows that PPPs are an expensive and inefficient way of financing infrastructure and divert government spending away from other public services. They conceal public borrowing, while providing long-term state guarantees for profits to private companies.” They also divert public money away from the neediest infrastructure projects, which may not deliver sizable returns, in favor of those big-ticket items that will deliver hefty profits to investors. A March 2017 report by the Economic Policy Institute titled “No Free Bridge” also highlighted the substantial costs and risks involved in public-private partnerships and other “innovative” financing of infrastructure.

Meanwhile, California is far from broke. It has over well over $700 billion in funds of various sorts tucked around the state, including $500 billion in CalPERS and CalSTRS, the state’s massive public pension funds. These pools of money are restricted in how they can be spent and are either sitting in banks drawing a modest interest or invested with Wall Street asset managers and private equity funds that are not obligated to invest the money in California and are not safe. For fiscal year 2009, CalPERS and CalSTRS reported almost $100 billion in losses from investments gone awry.

In 2017, CalSTRS allocated $6.1 billion to private equity funds, real estate managers, and co-investments, including $400 million to a real estate fund managed by Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, and $200 million to BlackRock, the world’s largest “shadow bank.” CalPERS is now in talks with BlackRock over management of its $26 billion private equity fund, with discretion to invest that money as it sees fit.

“Private equity” is a rebranding of the term “leveraged buyout,” the purchase of companies with loans which then must be paid back by the company, typically at the expense of jobs and pensions. Private equity investments may include real estate, energy, and investment in public infrastructure projects as part of a privatization initiative. Blackstone is notorious for buying up distressed properties after the housing market collapsed. It is now the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the US. Its rental practices have drawn fire from tenant advocates in San Francisco and elsewhere, who have called it a Wall Street absentee slumlord that charges excessive rents, contributing to the affordable housing crisis; and pension funds largely contributed the money for Blackstone’s purchases.

BlackRock, an offshoot of Blackstone, now has $6 trillion in assets under management, making it larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China). Die Zeit journalist Heike Buchter, who has written a book in German on it, calls BlackRock the “most powerful institution in the financial system” and “the most powerful company in the world” – the “secret power.” Yet despite its size and global power, BlackRock, along with Blackstone and other shadow banking institutions, managed to escape regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act. Blackstone CEO Larry Fink, who has cozy relationships with government officials according to journalist David Dayen, pushed hard to successfully resist the designation of asset managers as systemically important financial institutions, which would have subjected them to additional regulation such as larger capital requirements.

The proposed move to hand CalPERS’ private equity fund to BlackRock is highly controversial, since it would cost the state substantial sums in fees (management fees took 14% of private equity profits in 2016), and BlackRock gives no guarantees. In 2009, it defaulted on a New York real estate project that left CalPERS $500 million in the hole. There are also potential conflicts of interest, since BlackRock or its managers have controlling interests in companies that could be steered into deals with the state. In 2015, the company was fined $12 million by the SEC for that sort of conflict; and in 2015, it was fined $3.5 million for providing flawed data to German regulators. BlackRock also puts clients’ money into equities, investing it in companies like oil company Exxon and food and beverage company Nestle, companies which have been criticized for not serving California’s interests and exploiting state resources.

California public entities also have $2.8 billion in CalTRUST, a fund managed by BlackRock. The CalTRUST government fund is a money market fund, of the sort that triggered the 2008 market collapse when the Reserve Primary Fund “broke the buck” on September 15, 2008. The CalTRUST website states:

You could lose money by investing in the Fund. Although the Fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it cannot guarantee it will do so. An investment in the Fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. The Fund’s sponsor has no legal obligation to provide financial support to the Fund, and you should not expect that the sponsor will provide financial support to the Fund at any time.

CalTRUST is billed as providing local agencies with “a safe, convenient means of maintaining liquidity,” but billionaire investor Carl Icahn says this liquidity is a myth. In a July 2015 debate with Larry Fink on FOX Business Network, Icahn called BlackRock “an extremely dangerous company” because of the prevalence of its exchange-traded fund (ETF) products, which Icahn deemed illiquid. “They sell liquidity,” he said. “There is no liquidity. . . . And that’s what’s going to blow this up.” His concern was the amount of money BlackRock had invested in high-yield ETFs, which he called overpriced. When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, investors are likely to rush to sell these ETFs; but there will be no market for them, he said. The result could be a run like that triggering the 2008 market collapse.

The Infrastructure Bank Option

There is another alternative. California’s pools of idle funds cannot be spent on infrastructure, but they could be deposited or invested in a publicly-owned bank, where they could form the deposit base for infrastructure loans. California is now the fifth largest economy in the world, trailing only Germany, Japan, China and the United States. Germany, China and other Asian countries are addressing their infrastructure challenges through public infrastructure banks that leverage pools of funds into loans for needed construction.

Besides the China Infrastructure Bank, China has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose members include many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia. Both banks are helping to fund China’s trillion dollar “One Belt One Road” infrastructure initiative.

Germany has an infrastructure bank called KfW which is larger than the World Bank, with assets of $600 billion in 2016. Along with the public Sparkassen banks, KfW has funded Germany’s green energy revolution. Renewables generated 41% of the country’s electricity in 2017, up from 6% in 2000, earning the country the title “the world’s first major green energy economy.” Public banks provided over 72% of the financing for this transition.

As for California, it already has an infrastructure bank – the California Infrastructure and Development Bank (IBank), established in 1994. But the IBank is a “bank” in name only. It cannot take deposits or leverage capital into loans. It is also seriously underfunded, since the California Department of Finance returned over half of its allotted funds to the General Fund to repair the state’s budget after the dot.com market collapse. However, the IBank has 20 years’ experience in making prudent infrastructure loans at below municipal bond rates, and its clients are limited to municipal governments and other public entities, making them safe bets underwritten by their local tax bases. The IBank could be expanded to address California’s infrastructure needs, drawing deposits and capital from its many pools of idle funds across the state.

A Better Use for Pension Money

In an illuminating 2017 paper for UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute titled “Funding Public Pensions,” policy consultant Tom Sgouros showed that the push to put pension fund money into risky high-yield investments comes from a misguided application of the accounting rules. The error results from treating governments like private companies that can be liquidated out of existence. He argues that public pension funds can be safely operated on a pay-as-you-go basis, just as they were for 50 years before the 1980s. That accounting change would take the pressure off the pension boards and free up hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds. Some portion of that money could then be deposited in publicly-owned banks, which in turn could generate the low-cost credit needed to fund the infrastructure and services that taxpayers expect from their governments.

Note that these deposits would not be spent. Pension funds, rainy day funds and other pools of government money can provide the liquidity for loans while remaining on deposit in the bank, available for withdrawal on demand by the government depositor. Even mainstream economists now acknowledge that banks do not lend their deposits but actually create deposits when they make loans. The bank borrows as needed to cover withdrawals, but not all funds are withdrawn at once; and a government bank can borrow its own deposits much more cheaply than local governments can borrow on the bond market. Through their own public banks, government entities can thus effectively borrow at bankers’ rates plus operating costs, cutting out middlemen. And unlike borrowing through bonds, which merely recirculate existing funds, borrowing from banks creates new money, which will stimulate economic growth and come back to the state in the form of new taxes and pension premiums. A working paper published by the San Francisco Federal Reserve in 2012 found that one dollar invested in infrastructure generates at least two dollars in GSP (state GDP), and roughly four times more than average during economic downturns.

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This article was originally published on Truthdig.com. 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 EllenBrown.com.