The Paradise Papers


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From the ICIJ, the same consortium of journalists and media outlets that brought you Luxleaks and the Panama Papers, now comes the Paradise Papers. Everyone from Lewis Hamilton and Bono to Apple and Nike seem to pay less than their fair share – and this time, it’s all above board. The European Union has announced it’s going to draw up a tax haven blacklist. But it’s anyone’s guess if member states can agree on a definition of a tax haven and how they can enforce it.
Produced by Daniel BARNEY, Alessandro XENOS, Christopher DAVIS.
http://www.france24.com/en/taxonomy/e…

The Paradise Papers is a set of 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment that were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists,[1] and some of the details were made public on 5 November 2017. The documents originate from the offshore law firm Appleby, the corporate services providers Estera and Asiaciti Trust, and business registries in 19 tax jurisdictions.[2] They contain the names of more than 120,000 people and companies.[3] Among those whose financial affairs are mentioned are Queen Elizabeth II,[4] the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.[5]

Background

On 20 October 2017, an anonymous Reddit user hinted at the existence of the Paradise Papers.[6] Later that month, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) approached the offshore law firm Appleby with allegations of wrongdoing. Appleby said that some of its data had been stolen in a cyberattack the previous year, and denied ICIJ’s allegations.[7] After the documents were published, the company stated that there was “no evidence of wrongdoing”, that they “are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business”, and that they “do not tolerate illegal behaviour”.[8] Although press reports referred to the documents as being “leaked” Appleby issued a series of public statements insisting that the firm “was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act”, and that “This was an illegal computer hack. Our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker”.[9]

The documents were acquired by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which had also obtained the Panama Papers in 2016. According to the BBC, the name “Paradise Papers” reflects “the idyllic profiles of many of the offshore jurisdictions whose workings are unveiled”—the so-called tax havens, or “tax paradises” involved.[2] The BBC also notes that the name “dovetails nicely with the French term for a tax haven – paradis fiscal“.[2] The data comprises some 13.4 million documents—totaling about 1.4 terabytes—from two offshore service providers, Appleby and Asiaciti Trust, and from the company registers of 19 tax havens.[10]Süddeutsche Zeitung journalists contacted the ICIJ, which has been investigating the documents with 100 media partners. The consortium made the data available to the media partners using Neo4j,[11] a graph database platform made for connected data, and Linkurious,[12] graph visualization software, allowing journalists across the globe to undertake collaborative investigative work. The documents were released by the consortium on 5 November 2017.[5][13]

Gavin St Pier, an elected Deputy of the tax haven Guernsey, stated that the “coverage was part of a well-orchestrated, ongoing campaign”.[14] He also averred that despite having the information since 2016, the timing of the release was deliberately delayed to coincide with the meeting of EU Finance Ministers ahead of the proposed discussion of a tax haven blacklist.[14]

Companies named

According to the papers, FacebookAppleUberNikeWalmartAllianzSiemensMcDonald’s, and Yahoo! are among the corporations that own offshore companies,[15][16] as well as Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox. According to The Express Tribune, “Apple, Nike, and Facebook avoided billions of dollars in tax using offshore companies.”[17] Apple issued a statement in response criticising the reports as inaccurate and misleading, stating that the company is the largest taxpayer in the world and that it “pays every dollar it owes in every country around the world”.[18]

Kremlin-owned firmVTB Bank, put $191 million into DST Global, an investment firm part of Mail.ru Group and founded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, which used it to buy a large share of Twitter in 2011. A subsidiary of the Kremlin-controlled Gazprom funded an investment company that partnered with DST Global to buy shares in Facebook, reaping millions when the social media giant went public in 2012. Twitter similarly went public in 2013. The US government sanctioned VTB in 2014 because of the Russian military intervention in Crimea, but DST Global had sold its stake in Twitter by then. Four days after the Facebook IPO, a DST Global subsidiary sold more than 27 million shares of Facebook for roughly $1 billion.[19]

In 2009, Glencore, an Anglo–Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company, loaned $45 million to Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler in exchange for his help with officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo in negotiations over a joint venture with state-owned Gécamines at the Katanga copper mine, in which one of the board members was Glencore major shareholder Telis Mistakidis. Glencore, which had effectively taken over Katanga, agreed to vote for the joint venture. The loan document specifically provided that repayment would be owed if agreement was not reached within three months. Gertler and Glencore have denied wrongdoing. Appleby had worked for Glencore and its founder Marc Rich on major projects in the past, even after his indictement in 1983.[20][21] Rich was indicted in the United States on federal charges of tax evasion and making controversial oil deals with Iran during the Iran hostage crisis.[22] He received a controversial presidential pardonfrom U.S. President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001, Clinton’s last day in office.[23]

The Australian branch of Glencore has been demonstrated to have carried out some $25 billion in cross-currency interest rate swaps, complex financial instruments the Australian Taxation Office suspects of being used to avoid paying taxes in Australia.[24]

Appleby managed 17 offshore companies for Odebrecht, a Brazilian conglomerate, and at least one of them was used as a vehicle for the payment of bribes in the Operation Car Wash. Some of these offshore companies are publicly known to operate for Odebrecht in Africa and be involved in bribes. Among those involved in the operation who also are named in the papers are Marcelo Odebrecht, Brazilian businessman and former Odebrech’s CEO, his father Emílio Odebrecht and his brother Maurício Odebrecht.[25]

People named

Africa

Liberia

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is listed in the Paradise Papers

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is listed in the papers as a director of the Bermuda company Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd. a subsidiary of Databank’s finance, fund management and investment company Databank Brokerage Ltd., from April 2001 until September 2012.[26] Ghanaian Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Ken Ofori-Atta, was a co-founder of Databank and a co-director, with Johnson Sirleaf, of Songhai Financial Holdings.

Nigeria

President of the Nigerian Senate Bukola Saraki is listed in the papers as a director and a shareholder of Tenia Ltd., a company established in the Cayman Islands in April 2001.[27]

Uganda

Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa is listed as beneficiary, along with his daughter, of a trust which holds the Seychelles-based Katonga Investments Ltd. Katonga gave as its source of income Enhas Uganda, another Kutesa-owned company criticized in a parliamentary committee as part of a privatization it said had been “manipulated and taken advantage of by a few politically powerful people who sacrifice the people’s interests”.[28] Kutesa was also president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2014–2015.

Asia

India

Actor Amitabh Bachchanis listed in Paradise Papers

India ranks 19th out of the 180 countries represented in the data in terms of the number of names. In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally, including the names of several political leaders. Among them are Jayant Sinha, member of the Lok Sabha and Minister of State for Civil Aviation[29]Ravindra Kishore Sinha, member of the Rajya Sabha[30], former Minister of Corporate Affairs Sachin Pilot, former Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot, former Minister of Science and Technology Vayalar Ravi‘s son[who?],[31] the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, the son of former Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Veerappa Moily[who?] and Rajya Sabha MP Ravindra Kishore Sinha.[32] Others named are Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan (as a shareholder in a Bermuda-based digital media company) and former Member of Parliament of the Rajya Sabha Vijay Mallya, son of businessman Vittal Mallya. The papers revealed that Mallya sold United Spirits to Diageo in 2013, which it later approached London-based law firm Linklaters to restructuring the group structure created by Mallya. With three other subsidiaries based in the UK, United Spirits was allegedly involved with diverting funds amounting to $1.5 billion. Bachchan and Mallyain also appeared in the Panama Papers.[33]

Among the companies listed in the papers are Apollo Tyres, the Essel Group,[34] D S Construction, Emaar MGFGMR GroupHavellsHinduja Group, the Hiranandani Group, Jindal Steel, the Sun Group[35] and Videocon.[36]

Indonesia

Two children of deceased former president SuhartoTommy and Mamiek in addition to opposition party leader Prabowo Subianto (Suharto’s former son-in-law) are listed in the papers. Following the release, the Directorate General of Taxes released a statement that they will follow up the information provided on Indonesian taxpayers.[37]

Japan

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is listed in the papers.[38] The Bermuda-incorporated company, Hoifu Energy Group, is listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and appointed Hatoyama honorary chairman in 2013 because of his “amicable relationship” with the oil industry, a sector in which Hoifu planned to expand. The principal shareholder of the company was Hui Chi Ming. Neil Bush, brother of George W. Bush, was a director (deputy chairman) of the company.[28][39]

Kazakhstan

Former Minister of Oil and Gas Sauat Mynbayev is listed as an original shareholder of Meridian Capital Ltd.[40]

Pakistan

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz

From Pakistan, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is listed in the papers, having set up a trust called the Antarctic Trust owned by a Delaware corporation.[41] Aziz, a former Citibank executive, told the ICIJ he had set the trust up for estate planningpurposes and that the funds had come from his employment at Citibank. An internal Appleby document raised concerns about warrants issued for him in connection with the killing of a local leader. Aziz dismissed both the murder charge and the allegations of financial impropriety.[28]

Europe

Austria

Alfred Gusenbauer was head of the Social Democratic Party of Austria from 2000 to 2008 and Austria’s chancellor from January 2007 to December 2008. He is listed as a director for Novia Management, a Maltese company listed as a shareholder in Novia Funds Sicav Plc, also Malta-based, which includes among its other shareholders Tal Silberstein (de), who was arrested in 2017 with Beny Steinmetzon charges of money laundering, then released. Silberstein had served as Gusenbauer’s campaign advisor.[28]

France

The French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud is listed in the papers. As a result of the investigation, the filmmaker informed French tax authorities last month about his offshore holdings.[42]

Ireland

Bono is named in the papers

A great deal of intangible property surfaced in Ireland around the time of an internal Apple Inc. reorganization of three Irish subsidiaries. The 2015 gross domestic product showed a 26% increase, and close to $270 billion of intangible assets suddenly appeared in Ireland as the year began – more than the entire value of all residential property in Ireland. This is believed to indicate that Apple has taken advantage of a tax incentive known as a capital allowance, which gives Irish companies generous tax breaks for buying intangible property. Following a US Senate investigation which featured testimony by Tim Cook, Ireland announced that henceforth Irish companies would be required to declare tax residency someplace in the world. Several US multinationals, including Apple subsidiaries, had taken the position that they did not owe taxes anywhere in the world. Apple’s law firm, Baker McKenzie, researched island tax havens, asking Appleby officials in numerous jurisdictions to confirm “that an Irish company can conduct management activities … without being subject to taxation in your jurisdiction.” Two of the subsidiaries moved to Jersey. Apple is being sued for $14.5 billion in back taxes, following a finding by European regulators that Ireland illegally provided state aid when it approved Apple’s tax structure. Irish companies are required to pay taxes in Ireland, but if they convince authorities that they are “managed and controlled” from abroad, the companies may win an exemption. Apple now holds $252 billion offshore.[43]

U2 lead singer Bono is listed in the papers[44] as an investor in a Lithuanian shopping centre via a Malta-based company.[45]

Greece

Mareva Grabowski, wife of Kyriakos Mitsotakis leader of the opposition and president of New Democracy, is listed on the Paradise Papers. She is the shareholder of 50% of an offshore company Eternia Capital Management in Cayman Islands, in the Caribbeans. This entry is verified from the law-firm Appleby and on the Cayman records on 30 March 2010.[46]

Lithuania

Antanas Guoga, a Member of the European Parliament, is named in the papers.[47]

Montenegro

Ana Kolarević, sister of the former Montenegrin Prime Minister and President Milo Đukanović, who was in power from 1991 to 2016, is listed in the Paradise Papers.[48]

Netherlands

Appleby documents detail how Nike boosted its after-tax profits by, among other maneuvers, transferring ownership of its Swoosh trademark to a Bermudan subsidiary, Nike International Ltd. This transfer allowed the subsidiary to charge royalties to its European headquarters in Hilversum, effectively converting taxable company profitsto an account payable in tax-free Bermuda.[49] Although the subsidiary was effectively run by executives at Nike’s main offices in Beaverton, Oregon – to the point where a duplicate of the Bermudan company’s seal was needed – for tax purposes the subsidiary was treated as Bermuda. Its profits were not declared in Europe and came to light only because of a mostly unrelated case in US Tax Court, where papers filed by Nike briefly mention royalties in 2010, 2011 and 2012 totaling $3.86 billion.[49] Under an arrangement with Dutch authorities, the tax break was to expire in 2014, so another reorganization transferred the intellectual property from the Bermudan company to a Dutch commanditaire vennootschap or limited partnership, Nike Innovate CV. Dutch law treats income earned by a CV as if it had been earned by the principals, who owe no tax in the Netherlands if they do not reside there. One in six dollars of foreign profit earned by US multinationals was earned, at least on paper, through a Dutch CV subsidiary. Companies involved include Tesla, NetApp and Uber.[49]

Spain

In Spain, the first political authority that appears is the former mayor of Barcelona and current councilor, Xavier Trias,[50] artist José María Cano and billionaire Daniel Maté.[51] The businessman Juan Villalonga, who was CEO of Telefónica between 1996 and 2000, registered two companies in tax havens.[52]

Switzerland

Quantum Global Group, an investment bank owned by Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, managed the Angolan wealth fund invested in seven investment funds in Mauritius and received an annual fee of 2 percent to 2.5 percent of capital under management per year.[53]

United Kingdom

The Paradise Papers show that the Duchy of Lancaster, a private estate of Queen Elizabeth II, held investments in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.[1]
The Paradise Papers also show that the Duchy of Cornwall, a possession of Prince Charles, invested in a Bermuda-based carbon credits trading company.[54]

Lord Sassoon president of the international Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering

The papers show that the Duchy of Lancaster, a private estate of Queen Elizabeth II, held investments in two offshore financial centres, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Both are British Overseas Territories of which she is also the monarch, and for which she appoints governors. Britain handles foreign policy for both islands to a large extent, but Bermuda has been self-governing since 1620. The Duchy’s investments included First Quench Retailing off-licences and rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse.[55] Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn asked whether the Queen should apologize, saying anyone with money offshore for tax avoidance should “not just apologise for it, [but] recognise what it does to our society”. A spokesman for the Duchy said that all of their investments are audited and legitimate and that the Queen voluntarily pays taxes on income she receives from Duchy investments.[56]

The papers also show that in June 2007, the Duchy of Cornwall, a possession of Prince Charles, invested $113,500 via in Sustainable Forestry Management.[54] a Bermuda-based carbon credits trading company run by Hugh van Cutsem.[57] Four weeks after the Duchy of Cornwall purchased shares in Sustainable Forestry Management, Prince Charles made a speech criticising the European Union Emission Trading Scheme and the Kyoto Protocol for excluding carbon credits from rainforests, and called for change.[58]

James Meyer Sassoon, the 2007 president of the international Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering,[28][59]said that his $236 million trust[60] revealed in the papers had been established years before by his grandmother with funds that had not been earned in the UK and therefore were not subject to tax there. He said he had first disclosed the trust when he joined the Treasury in 2002, where he was Commercial Secretary from 2010 to 2013.

An article published by the ICIJ detailing the use of ambiguous VAT policies on the Isle of Man highlights the $27 million Bombardier Challenger 605 private jet that Lewis Hamilton registered there, apparently in order to become eligible for a $5.2 million VAT refund.[61]

The BBC also noted questions about investments by Conservative Party donor Michael Ashcroft and Farhad Moshiri, owner of Everton Football Club.[56]

Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is named in the papers.[62]

Middle East

Jordan

Queen Noor of Jordan is listed in the papers as the beneficiary of two trusts registered in Jersey.[63] One of the trusts, the Valentine 1997 Trust, was valued at more than $40 million in 2015, and its income is to be paid to the queen during her lifetime. The trust also owns property in southern England adjacent to Buckhurst Park, Sussex. The other trust, the Brown Discretionary Settlement, is the beneficial owner of a Jersey-incorporated investment holding company with assets worth c. $18.7 million in 2015.

Israel

Jonathan Kolber, former CEO of Koor Industries and the beneficiary of the Kolber Trust and son of Canadian senator Leo Kolber, who set the fund in 1991, is named.[64]

Dan Gertler, Israeli billionaire businessman in natural resources and the founder and President of the DGI (Dan Gertler International) Group of Companies appears in 120 documents regarding his relationship with Glencore.[64]

Saudi Arabia

Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former deputy minister of defense for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is given as the owner of at least eight companies in Bermuda between 1989 and 2014, some of them apparently formed for purposes of owning yachts and airplanes.[28]

Syria

Rami Makhlouf, reportedly Syria’s wealthiest man, is listed in the papers.[65]

Turkey

The sons of Turkey‘s Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, are listed in the papers.[66]

North America

Canada

Former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien

Three former Canadian Prime Ministers are named in the Paradise Papers: Jean ChrétienPaul Martin, and Brian Mulroney.[67]According to the papers, Stephen Bronfman, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s adviser and close friend, a Liberal Party fundraiser credited with putting Trudeau into office, moved millions of dollars offshore for former Liberal Party Senator Leo Kolber.[68]The offshore maneuvers may have avoided taxes in Canada, the United States and Israel, according to experts who reviewed some of the 3,000-plus files detailing the trust’s activities.[1]

Costa Rica

Former president José María Figueres sat on the board of energy company Energia Global International, along with his brother and Timothy Phillips. The company was bought in 2001 by Enel SpA, an Italian power company, for $73 million, plus $37 million in debt cancellation. Figueres resigned from the board that year, at the annual EF meeting in Davos. He was also CEO of World Economic Forum from 2000 to 2004, and resigned as a result of allegations he called “unfounded” about $900,000 in consulting fees from a French telecommunications firm.[28]

Mexico

According to the files, trade union leader and politician Joaquín Gamboa Pascoe had investments worth $15.5 million; other mentioned politicians are Pedro Aspe ArmellaAlejandro Gertz Manero, and officials from PEMEX. High-profile Mexicans in the files include billionaire Carlos Slim,[69] priest Marcial Maciel known as “the greatest fundraiser of the modern Roman Catholic church”,[69] and Ricardo Salinas Pliego.[69] In an interview with Proceso, Gertz Manero, formerly National Security Secretary, denied all knowledge of the company, of which he was vice-president, and which was started by his brother, who had made himself president.[28]

United States

The leaked documents revealed that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross holds stakes in businesses connected to sanctioned Russian oligarchs, which he did not disclose during his confirmation hearings.

According to the papers, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross holds stakes in businesses which deal with Russian oligarchs Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko who are subject to U.S. sanctions,[5] as well as Russian president Vladimir Putin‘s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov.[70] Other members of the Trump Administration that appear in the documents include United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of the National Economic Council Gary D. Cohn.[70] Overall, more than a dozen Trump cabinet members, major donors and advisers appear in the documents. These include major donors Robert Mercer and Sheldon Adelson.[1][71]

The documents also revealed that Russian state organizations with ties to Putin pursued between 2009 and 2011 large investments in Facebook and Twitter via an intermediary—Russian-American entrepreneur Yuri Milner, who befriended Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg[72] and was a business associate of Jared KushnerPresident Donald Trump‘s son-in-law.[73]

American singer Madonna, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, American billionaire George Soros, founder of Open Society Foundations,[74] and former NATO supreme commander in Europe General Wesley Clark are also named in the papers.[75]

Commenting on the Paradise Papers leak, United States Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders warned of “rapid movement toward international oligarchy”, saying, “The Paradise Papers shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”[76] The Democratic leader in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, and the ranking Democratic member of the Senate finance committee, Ron Wyden, issued a joint statement accusing Republicans of “pushing a reform of the tax code that fails to close egregious loopholes revealed by the leaks.”[76]

More at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Papers

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Phil Murphy wins in NJ! Public Banking on the ballot and wins!

171107_2_phil_murphy_1026.jpg

BREAKING: Phil Murphy wins New Jersey’s governor’s race. But it’s not only a win for Murphy, it’s also a win for Public Banks. As John Nichols of The Nation put it today, “Public banking is on the ballot today—not as the sort of statewide referendum issue … but in the form of a candidate who knows a thing or two about banking.”

Phil Murphy describes Public Banking as “the type of big thinking we need to get back on track.” He wants to do even more with a NJ state bank than the successful model of the Bank of North Dakota. “This is money that belongs to the taxpayers of New Jersey, so it should be invested in them.”

PBI’s Chair Emeritus Walt McRee says,

“Phil Murphy has distinguished himself not only in the race for New Jersey governor, but nationally as well with a policy innovation actually capable of turning the state’s economy around.”

Murphy’s win, as John Nichols says, could lead to a different way of talking about economic renewal nationally. PBI believes public banking is a non-partisan issue — conservatives and liberals alike embrace it as a solution for many of the problems facing our country. We are encouraged that so many candidates for office are putting Public Banking on their platform.

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“Why Donna Brazile’s Story Matters – But Not for the Reason You Might Think” by Matt Taibbi

November 07, 2017 by Rolling Stone (CommonDreams.org)

Everyone knew the primary was rigged. The real question is: Why did they bother, when they would have won anyway?

Donna Brazile, then-interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, is seen on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016, at which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addressed the crowd.

Donna Brazile, then-interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, is seen on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016, at which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addressed the crowd. (Tom Williams/Getty)

Over the weekend, the Washington Post previewed passages from former DNC chair Donna Brazile’s much-anticipated “blistering” tell-all book about the 2016 presidential campaign, HacksThe piece written by Phillip Rucker originally included a passage that read as follows:

“Whenever Brazile got frustrated with Clinton’s aides, she writes, she would remind them that the DNC charter empowered her to replace the nominee. If a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee the process of filling the vacancy.”

Later, the paper changed this and other passages, originally without an editor’s note. The new passage read:

“Whenever Brazile got frustrated with Clinton’s aides, she writes, she would remind them that the DNC charter empowered her to initiate the replacement of the nominee. If a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee a complicated process of filling the vacancy that would include a meeting of the full DNC.”

This was a significant change. It meant the difference between Brazile claiming she had unilateral power to change nominees, and claiming she had the power to start a discussion about changing nominees.

Hurricane Twitter naturally ran with the story about Brazile mistakenly believing she had unilateral power. There are countless examples, but for instance: herehere and here.

This became one of the key points of attack against Brazile, who is being loudly booted out of the Church of the Blue Establishment, mostly via social media condemnations.

There were other methods. Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson penned a denunciation on Medium that included his expression of disappointment that Brazile would allow herself to be used by our foreign enemies.

The “open letter” from the Clinton campaign was signed by about a gazillion people, in the style of one of those academic letters of disavowal that have become popular tools against professors with “problematic” ideas. It read:

“We were shocked to learn the news that Donna Brazile actively considered overturning the will of the Democratic voters… It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health.”

This has become a popular meme: That even paying attention to some of the core charges in Brazile’s book is tantamount to aiding the Russians.

Markos Moulitsas tweeted as much by way of an analysis of @SecureDemocracy’s “Russian propaganda tracker,” the social media tool of the Alliance to Secure Democracy. (The Alliance is itself part of a groundbreaking effort to build a bridge between modern Dems and Bush-era neocons, but that’s another story).

When it came out that eight out of the top 10 trending topics on the “tracker” this weekend were about the Brazile-fueled DNC scandal, this is what Moulitsas said: “If you’re letting the Right and the Russians drive your agenda, then it’s time to rethink your approach.”

The use of rumors and innuendo to gin up furious emotional responses through a community before facts and corrections can catch up; the use of letters of denunciation; the reflexive charge that dissenting thoughts aid a foreign enemy – does no one recognize this? Has no one out there read a history book?

The headline revelations in Brazile’s excerpt in Politico were interesting. She wrote that she had promised to get to the bottom of whether or not, as leaked/hacked DNC files suggested, the 2015-16 primary race against Bernie Sanders had been “rigged.”

The excerpt starts off with Brazile anxiously preparing to call Sanders to share the bad news: “I had found my proof, and it broke my heart.”

Actually, what Brazile found were things we mostly already knew. The worst had originally been reported on by Ken Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf (then of Politico). The story among other things described how the national Clinton campaign used funds that by rule should have redounded to state Democratic Party offices.

Politico described this situation back then as “essentially… money laundering.”

wrote about this, too, after the DNC leak, believing that details about this were among the only significant things to emerge out of the otherwise tedious DNC leak.

The emails seemed to give weight to the charges in the Vogel-Arnsdorf story, which amounted to the Clinton campaign using state funds to make up for a shortfall at a time when Sanders was still viable and raising a lot of money.

But the idea that Brazile’s book amounted to a smoking gun that the primary was “rigged” against Sanders is “problematic” in its own right, for two reasons:

1) That the DNC had things stacked against Sanders from the start wasn’t secret. After all, the DNC wouldn’t even let Sanders use their headquarters as a venue to announce his candidacy, way back in April of 2015. As the book Shattered explains it, DNC officials felt it was inappropriate to “give Sanders the imprimatur of the party.” He made his announcement on a strip of grass outside the Capitol. He was never treated by the DNC as a real candidate, not from the first minute of his campaign.

2) But it didn’t matter! Clinton would almost certainly have won the nomination anyway. As her proponents have repeatedly pointed out, the race wasn’t that close. Even as a Sanders supporter, I concede this.

But that is what’s so weird. Why bother monkeying around with rules, when you’re going to win anyway?

Why not welcome Sanders and the energy he undoubtedly would (and did) bring into the party, rather than scheme to lock him and others out?

There are a lot of people who are going to wonder why so much time is being spent re-litigating the 2016 campaign. It sucked, it’s over: Who cares?

It does matter. That race is when many of the seeds of what will be the defining problems of our age first began to be sown.

The rise of Trump and the crypto-fascist movement that crushed establishment Republicans is half of the story. The sharp move among many white middle American voters away from Beltway Republicanism toward something far darker and more dangerous crystalized in 2015-16. So it has to be studied over and over.

But there is an ugly thing on the other side that also began at that time.

This is when establishment Democrats began to openly lose faith in democracy and civil liberties and began to promote a “results over process” mode of political thinking. It’s when we started hearing serious people in Washington talk about the dangers of “too much democracy.”

This isn’t about Hillary Clinton. It’s about a broader movement that took place within the Democratic establishment, and spread rapidly to blue-friendly media and academia.

It’s a kind of repeat of post-9/11 thinking, when suddenly huge pluralities of Americans decided the stakes were now too high to continue being queasy about things like torture, extralegal assassination, and habeas corpus.

In the age of Trump, we’re now throwing all sorts of once-treasured principles – press ethics, free speech, freedom from illegal surveillance – overboard, because the political stakes are now deemed too high to cede ground to Trump over principles.

But this distrust of democracy began before Trump was even a nominee. As Brazile notes, it started within the ranks of the Democratic Party near the outset of the campaign.

It would have been a huge boon to Clinton’s run if the DNC had welcomed not only Sanders but other serious candidates into the race, in the true spirit of what the primary process is supposed to represent – the winnowing of many diverse views into one unified message.

But the attitude in Washington is now the opposite. Primary challengers are increasingly seen as reprobates who exist only to bloody the “real” candidate. So they should be kept down and discouraged whenever possible.

As the campaign continued, and we saw both Trump’s rise and results like Brexit, the “too much democracy” argument began to emerge even more, along with the embrace of techniques that would have horrified true liberals a generation ago.

In the last year, we’ve seen the blue-state establishment celebrate the use of the infamous FISA statute against American citizens, and the use of warrantless electronic surveillanceagainst the same.

We’ve seen the ACLU denounced for defending free speech and we’ve seen sites like Buzzfeed celebrated for publishing unverified and/or slanderous material, usually because the targets are politically unpopular.

Liberals used not to believe in doing these things not only because they understood that they would likely be the first victims in a society stripped of civil protections (a school district forcing the removal of Black Lives Matter stickers is a classic example of a more probable future in a world without civil liberties).

No, they eschewed these tactics because they genuinely believed that debate, discussion, inclusion and democracy brought out the best in us.

The point of the Brazile story isn’t that the people who “rigged” the primary were afraid of losing an election. It’s that they weren’t afraid of betraying democratic principles, probably because they didn’t believe in them anymore.

If you’re not frightened by the growing appeal of that line of thinking, you should be. There is a history of this sort of thing. And it never ends well.

Matt Taibbi

As Rolling Stone’s chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi‘s predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O’Rourke. Taibbi’s 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American HistoryThe Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and ReligionSmells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

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Nation To Wait For More Facts On Texas Shooting Before Doing Absolutely Nothing About It

November 6, 2017 (theonion.com)

WASHINGTON—In the wake of a shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX that left at least 26 people dead and 20 wounded, the nation declared its intent Monday to wait for more facts on the mass slaughter before doing absolutely nothing about it. “We don’t want to jump to conclusions and get the facts wrong before we start ignoring it completely,” said Enid, OK resident Roger Benson, echoing the sentiments of 324 million other Americans who added they weren’t willing to do nothing whatsoever to address the country’s mass shooting epidemic until they learned more about the killer, including his possible connection to the church and his mental health background. “People have been speculating on social media, but that doesn’t do us any good unless we know the truth about his family life, and how and why he was able to acquire an assault weapon—otherwise, there’s just no way to neglect to address this shooting in the larger context of gun violence in America. We all need to take a deep breath, gather as much information as we can, and then sit with our hands folded indefinitely.” At press time, the nation conceded that even if a couple facts remained unknown, that shouldn’t stand in way of a concerted effort to simply wait for the next bloodbath.

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“Regulation is Killing Community Banks, Public Banks Can Revive Them” by ELLEN BROWN

At his confirmation hearing in January 2017, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said, “regulation is killing community banks.” If the process is not reversed, he warned, we could “end up in a world where we have four big banks in this country.” That would be bad for both jobs and the economy. “I think that we all appreciate the engine of growth is with small and medium-sized businesses,” said Mnuchin. “We’re losing the ability for small and medium-sized banks to make good loans to small and medium-sized businesses in the community, where they understand those credit risks better than anybody else.”

The number of US banks with assets under $100 million dropped from 13,000 in 1995 to under 1,900 in 2014. The regulatory burden imposed by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act exacerbated this trend, with community banks losing market share at double the rate during the four years after 2010 as in the four years before. But the number had already dropped to only 2,625 in 2010.  What happened between 1995 and 2010?

Six weeks after September 11, 2001, the 1,100 page Patriot Act was dropped on congressional legislators, who were required to vote on it the next day. The Patriot Act added provisions to the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act that not only expanded the federal government’s wiretapping and surveillance powers but outlawed the funding of terrorism, imposing greater scrutiny on banks and stiff criminal penalties for non-compliance. Banks must now collect and verify customer-provided information, check names of customers against lists of known or suspected terrorists, determine risk levels posed by customers, and report suspicious persons, organizations and transactions. One small banker complained that banks have been turned into spies secretly reporting to the federal government. If they fail to comply, they can face stiff enforcement actions, whether or not actual money-laundering crimes are alleged.

In 2010, one small New Jersey bank pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act and was fined $5 million for failure to file suspicious-activity and cash-transaction reports. The bank was acquired a few months later by another bank. Another small New Jersey bank was ordered to shut down a large international wire transfer business because of deficiencies in monitoring for suspicious transactions. It closed its doors after it was hit with $8 million in fines over its inadequate monitoring policies.

Complying with the new rules demands a level of technical expertise not available to ordinary mortals, requiring the hiring of yet more specialized staff and buying more anti-laundering software. Small banks cannot afford the risk of massive fines or the added staff needed to avoid them, and that burden is getting worse. In February 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network proposed a new rule that would add a new category requiring the flagging of suspicious “cyberevents.” According to an April 2017 article in American Banker:

[T]he “cyberevent” category requires institutions to detect and report all varieties of digital mischief, whether directed at a customer’s account or at the bank itself. . . .

Under a worst-case scenario, a bank’s failure to detect a suspicious [email] attachment or a phishing attack could theoretically result in criminal prosecution, massive fines and additional oversight.

One large bank estimated that the proposed change with the new cyberevent reporting requirement would cost it an additional $9.6 million every year.

Besides the cost of hiring an army of compliance officers to deal with a thousand pages of regulations, banks have been hit with increased capital requirements imposed by the Financial Stability Board under Basel III, eliminating the smaller banks’ profit margins. They have little recourse but to sell to the larger banks, which have large compliance departments and can skirt the capital requirements by parking assets in off-balance-sheet vehicles.

In a September 2014 article titled “The FDIC’s New Capital Rules and Their Expected Impact on Community Banks,” Richard Morris and Monica Reyes Grajales noted that “a full discussion of the rules would resemble an advanced course in calculus,” and that the regulators have ignored protests that the rules would have a devastating impact on community banks. Why? The authors suggested that the rules reflect “the new vision of bank regulation – that there should be bigger and fewer banks in the industry.” That means bank consolidation is an intended result of the punishing rules.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, sponsor of the Financial CHOICE Act downsizing Dodd-Frank, concurs. In a speech in July 2015, he said:

Since the passage of Dodd-Frank, the big banks are bigger and the small banks are fewer. But because Washington can control a handful of big established firms much easier than many small and zealous competitors, this is likely an intended consequence of the Act. Dodd-Frank concentrates greater assets in fewer institutions. It codifies into law ‘Too Big to Fail’ . . . . [Emphasis added.]

Dodd-Frank institutionalizes “too big to fail” by authorizing the biggest banks to “bail in” or confiscate their creditors’ money in the event of insolvency. The legislation ostensibly reining in the too-big-to-fail banks has just made them bigger. Wall Street lobbyists were well known to have their fingerprints all over Dodd-Frank.

Restoring Community Banking: The Model of North Dakota         

Killing off the community banks with regulation means killing off the small and medium-size businesses that rely on them for funding, along with the local economies that rely on those businesses. Community banks service local markets in a way that the megabanks with their standardized lending models are not interested in or capable of.

How can the community banks be preserved and nurtured? For some ideas, we can look to a state where they are still thriving – North Dakota. In an article titled “How One State Escaped Wall Street’s Rule and Created a Banking System That’s 83% Locally Owned,” Stacy Mitchell writes that North Dakota’s banking sector bears little resemblance to that of the rest of the country:

With 89 small and mid-sized community banks and 38 credit unions, North Dakota has six times as many locally owned financial institutions per person as the rest of the nation. And these local banks and credit unions control a resounding 83 percent of deposits in the state — more than twice the 30 percent market share that small and mid-sized financial institutions have nationally.

Their secret is the century-old Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, which partners with and supports the state’s local banks. In an April 2015 article titled “Is Dodd-Frank Killing Community Banks? The More Important Question is How to Save Them”, Matt Stannard writes:

Public banks offer unique benefits to community banks, including collateralization of deposits, protection from poaching of customers by big banks, the creation of more successful deals, and . . . regulatory compliance. The Bank of North Dakota, the nation’s only public bank, directly supports community banks and enables them to meet regulatory requirements such as asset to loan ratios and deposit to loan ratios. . . . [I]t keeps community banks solvent in other ways, lessening the impact of regulatory compliance on banks’ bottom lines.

We know from FDIC data in 2009 that North Dakota had almost 16 banks per 100,000 people, the most in the country. A more important figure, however, is community banks’ loan averages per capita, which was $12,000 in North Dakota, compared to only $3,000 nationally. . . . During the last decade, banks in North Dakota with less than $1 billion in assets have averaged a stunning 434 percent more small business lending than the national average.

The BND has been very profitable for the state and its citizens – more profitable, according to the Wall Street Journal, than JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The BND does not compete with local banks but partners with them, helping with capitalization and liquidity and allowing them to take on larger loans that would otherwise go to larger out-of-state banks.

In order to help rural lenders with regulatory compliance, in 2011 the BND was directed by the state legislature to get into the rural home mortgage origination business. Rural banks that saw only three to five mortgages a year could not shoulder the regulatory burden, leading to business lost to out-of-state banks. After a successful pilot program, SB 2064, establishing the Mortgage Origination Program, was signedby North Dakota’s governor on April 3, 2013. It states that the BND may establish a residential mortgage loan program under which the Bank may originate residential mortgages if private sector mortgage loan services are not reasonably available. Under this program a local financial institution or credit union may assist the Bank in taking a loan application, gathering required documents, ordering required legal documents, and maintaining contact with the borrower. At a hearing on the bill, Rick Clayburgh, President of the North Dakota Bankers Association, testified in its support:

Over the past years because of the regulatory burdens our banks face by the passage of Dodd Frank, and now the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it has become very prohibitive for a number of our banks to provide residential mortgage services anymore. We two years ago worked both with the Independent Community Bankers Association, and our Association and the Bank of North Dakota to come up with the idea in this program to help the bank provide services into the parts of the state that really residential mortgaging has seized up. We have a number of our banks that have terminated doing mortgage loans in their communities. They have stopped the process because they cannot afford to be written up by their regulator.

Under the Mortgage Origination Program, local banks get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee for sending rural mortgage loans to the BND. If the BND touches the money first, the onus is on it to deal with the regulators, something it can afford to do by capitalizing on economies of scale. The local bank thus avoids having to deal with regulatory compliance while keeping its customer.

The BND is the only model of a publicly-owned depository bank in the US; but in Germany, the publicly-owned Sparkassen banks operate a network of over 15,600 branches and are the financial backbone supporting Germany’s strong local business sector. In the matter of regulatory compliance, they too capitalize on economies of scale, by providing a compliance department that pools resources to deal with the onerous regulations imposed on banks by the EU.

The BND and the Sparkassen are proven models for maintaining the viability of local credit and banking services. It is time other states followed North Dakota’s lead, not only to protect their local communities and local banks, but to bolster their revenues, escape the noose of Washington and Wall Street, and provide a bail-in-proof depository for their public funds.

More articles by:

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

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‘None of This Is Inevitable’: Sen. Murphy Applauded for Texas Church Massacre Response

By Jon Queally (CommonDreams.org)

November 06, 2017

“The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), standing next a photo of one of the victims of the 2015 school shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, during a nearly 15-hour filibuster in 2016 that sought to get Republicans to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures. (Photo: NBC News)

While President Donald Trump was ripped by critics for predictably announcing that the mass shooting in Sutherland, Texas on Sunday that left 26 people dead does not represent a “guns situation,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was receiving widespread applause for speaking with impassioned frustration about the failure of U.S. lawmakers to address the “epidemic” of gun violence and murder that has gripped the nation in recent decades.

“None of this is inevitable,” Murphy said Sunday in a statement that soon went viral. “I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the county with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.”

Meanwhile, Trump took the opposite approach on the subject, blaming the violence on the “mental health” of the gunman and suggesting it was too early to talk about gun violence as a political issue. As many noted, Trump himself signed an order earlier this year revoking a measure that specifically sought to make it harder for those with mental health issues to get a gun.

“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation,” Trump said during an overseas press conference in Japan on Monday. “We could go into it but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse.”

Murphy, also rejected Trump’s essential argument—familiar in pro-gun and right-wing circles—that “a good guy with a gun” is the best answer to “a bad guy with a guy”:

Read Murphy’s in full statement below:

“The paralysis you feel right now – the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen – isn’t real. It’s a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby, designed to assure that no laws are passed to make America safer, because those laws would cut into their profits. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach, once again, when I heard of today’s shooting in Texas. My heart dropped further when I thought about the growing macabre club of families in Las Vegas and Orlando and Charleston and Newtown, who have to relive their own day of horror every time another mass killing occurs.

“None of this is inevitable. I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the county with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.

“As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself – how can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents.

“My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore.  And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.”

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Paradise Papers, Says Sanders, Expose ‘Rapid Movement Toward International Oligarchy’

by Jessica Corbett (commondreams.org)

November 6, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says the trove of documents “shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday decried a world in which "billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes." (Photo: Michael Vadon/Flickr/cc)Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday decried a world in which “billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.” (Photo: Michael Vadon/Flickr/cc)

“The major issue of our time is the rapid movement toward international oligarchy,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declared in a statement to the Guardian on Monday, which noted that “Sanders’ intervention in the debate sparked by the Paradise Papers marks the most prominent political response to the leak in their opening 24 hours.”

Decrying a world “in which a handful of billionaires own and control a significant part of the global economy,” Sanders said the trove of more than 13 million leaked documents detailing offshore dealings “shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

Sanders said the documents expose a “major problem not just for the U.S. but for governments throughout the world.” According to the Guardian, he also

pointed the finger of blame for the flourishing of offshore holdings on both Congress and the Trump administration. He told the Guardian that Republicans in Congress were responsible for providing “even more tax breaks to profitable corporations like Apple and Nike.”

The same tax breaks, he said, were being seized upon by super-wealthy members of Trump’s cabinet “who avoid billions in U.S. taxes by shifting American jobs and profits to offshore tax havens. We need to close these loopholes and demand a fair and progressive tax system.”

Sanders took to Twitter on Monday to call on Congress to investigate the Paradise Papers, adding his voice to growing demands for U.S. government action as several members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle continue to be implicated in the leaked records and subsequent news reports.

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“As President, Trump Doing Exact Opposite of What He Promised on the Campaign Trail” by Bernie Sanders

November 06, 2017 by Los Angeles Times via CommonDreams.org

In the year since his election, Trump has repeatedly reneged on his promises by supporting the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of working families 

Whoa, says Sen. Sanders. “Trump as a candidate promised the American people one thing, as president he is doing the exact opposite.” (Photo: BernieSanders.com)

When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people that he would stand up for the working class and take on the political and economic establishment. One year since his election, he has repeatedly reneged on his promises by supporting the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of working families.

During his campaign, candidate Trump said that he was going to “drain the swamp.” Now that he is president, Trump has brought more billionaires into his administration than any president.

While campaigning, Trump told the American people he was going to provide health “insurance for everybody.” As president, he supported a disastrous bill that would have thrown millions off of health insurance, substantially raised premiums for older workers and defunded Planned Parenthood.

As a candidate, Trump said he understood the pain of working families. His budget would slash funding for affordable housing, college financial aid and Head Start.

And while Trump wants to make devastating cuts to programs that working families desperately need, he is working overtime to provide a massive tax break to billionaires like himself.

During the campaign, Trump promised to invest $1 trillion in our nation’s infrastructure to create millions of jobs. Instead, Trump’s budget would cut funding to repair our roads, bridges, railways and water facilities.

As a candidate, Trump promised he would not cut Medicare or Medicaid. Now he supports a budget that calls for $473 billion in cuts to Medicare and more than $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.

Now that he is president, Trump has brought more billionaires into his administration than any president.

On the campaign trail, Trump said he would stop the pharmaceutical industry from “getting away with murder.” Trump’s pick to head the Food and Drug Administration received millions of dollars from pharmaceutical corporations and is strongly opposed to lowering drug prices.

During the election, Trump promised to “stop Wall Street from getting away with murder.” As president, Trump signed an executive order to deregulate the same financial institutions whose illegal behavior caused millions of Americans to lose their homes, jobs and life savings.

In other words, Trump as a candidate promised the American people one thing, as president he is doing the exact opposite.

But simply stopping Trump’s agenda is not enough. We can join every other major country and guarantee healthcare to all as a right. We can demand that the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations start paying their fair share of taxes. We can create millions of decent paying jobs by rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. We can reform our broken criminal justice system and pass comprehensive immigration reform. We can raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and make public colleges and universities tuition-free.

Together we need to build a government and an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont’s at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

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A note from Mike Zint re: Berkeley occupation

Image may contain: outdoor

First they came for the homeless

November 6, 2017

What’s at stake in our occupation?

The ability for every person in this country to care for themselves. Being forced to choose between the horrors in the shelters, or suffering from exposure on the streets is the reality. Shelter is being denied because tents aren’t permitted. That must change for those millions who will need them.

Come support us at Old City Hall. No drugs or alcohol, please.

MLK at Milvia.

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OccupyForum presents . . . Carol Harvey’s Update on Environmental Injustice, the Homelessness Catastrophe, and Big Development on Treasure Island

NOTE NEW LOCATION!

OccupyForum presents…

Monday, November 6th from 6:45 – 9 pm at SEIU Local 2

209 Golden Gate Avenue near Civic Center BART station

Information, discussion & community! Monday Night Forum!!

Occupy Forum is an opportunity for open and respectful dialogue

on all sides of these critically important issues!

TREASURE ISLAND:

Carol Harvey’s Update on Environmental Injustice,

the Homelessness Catastrophe, and Big Development

 on Treasure Island

Treasure Island, the former radioactive-waste dump site off the coast of San Francisco, is turning into a $5 billion housing development for big profits.

Treasure Island, a man-made island off the coast of San Francisco, looks more like a post-apocalyptic wasteland than a Bay Area suburb. But as demand for housing in the area continues to climb, developers including Lennar — now the largest homebuilder in the US — turned to Treasure Island in hopes of creating the next big real-estate destination.

In 2011, the city of San Francisco approved a proposal to add 8,000 homes, 500 hotel rooms, 300 acres of parks, 140,000 square feet of retail, and 100,000 square feet of office space to the island over 15 years. The island’s population is expected to grow from 2,500 to about 20,000 by 2032, when the final stages of development wrap. Most of the existing buildings will be demolished to make room for new developments. The development project comes with a price tag of $5 billion. With construction on infrastructure underway, we are learning that there’s more to this former toxic-waste site than meets the eye.

Like the Bayview, these landfills were used by the Navy to decommission its radioactive ships and for other toxic work.  In 1993, the Navy decommissioned Treasure Island, moving sailors’ families out. The 1994 federal Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act,“A bill to revise and improve the process for disposing of buildings and property at military installations under the base closure laws,” opened national floodgates to environmental racism. Men, women and children are stricken with tumors and cancers from exposure to radiation, chemicals and lead the Navy dumped into island soil during 50 years training sailors for nuclear war, as well as lung disease from asbestos and mold in the walls of military housing.

A 1997-1998 city government report announced, “Three hundred housing units on TI [Treasure Island] are expected to be occupied in October or November of 1998 under an interim housing plan. TIDA has contracted with the John Stewart Company to rehabilitate and manage these units. … This interim plan is intended to preserve the housing stock which deteriorates rapidly with lack of use, and to provide an income stream.”San Francisco began to use HUD subsidies for maintenance and eventual island redevelopment.

As mayor, veteran of 30 years in the state Assembly and 15 as the all-powerful speaker, Willie Brown used his pull to deprive Treasure Islanders of San Franciscans’ equal rights to rent control, subjecting them to no cause evictions. Additionally, he crafted a consortium of collaborating organizations.

• The Treasure Island Development Authority Board (TIDA), which serves at the mayor’s pleasure

• Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative (TIHDI), an umbrella organization of nonprofits, which provides rehabilitation services for marginalized people

• The John Stewart Co., California’s largest poverty pimp, which manages HUD-subsidized and market rate housing

• The Navy arm of the consortium, following federal law, which began radiation and chemical cleanup.

By 2017, 18 years of subsidy money and intimidation have elapsed. As the cartel prepares the toxic soil for lucrative high-rise condos and hotels, homeless families’ incomes are no longer required. Redevelopment has begun. With three generations of subsidies in its coffers, John Stewart Co. is quietly launching evictions. Ill from chemical and radiation exposure, their offsprings’ DNA forever transformed, targeted families are, as planned, being returned to City streets.

Carol Harvey will share with us the history, and the damning revelations she continues to unearth, and what we can do about it.

Carol Harvey is a San Francisco political journalist specializing in human rights and civil rights.

http://sfbayview.com/2017/09/death-camp-treasure-island/

http://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-treasure-island-san-francisco-transformation-2017-8/#you-can-live-in-san-francisco-your-whole-life-and-never-set-foot-on-treasure-island-1

Time will be allotted for announcements. Donations to Occupy Forum to cover costs are encouraged; no one turned away!

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