‘Tomorrow Feels Like a Set-Up:’ Patriot Prayer Group Cancels Free Speech Rally in SF — by Riya Bhattacharjee

'Tomorrow Feels Like a Set-Up:' Patriot Prayer Group Cancels Free Speech Rally in SF

The conservative group will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. at Alamo Square instead

August 25, 2017 (nbcbayarea.com)

The Patriot Prayer group has canceled a controversial free speech rally in San Francisco, citing the “fear brought on” by the city’s leaders, including Mayor Ed Lee and Nancy Pelosi.

The group said they will hold a press conference instead at Alamo Square, home to the city’s famous Painted Ladies, and have invited the media to attend.

Patriot Group leader Joey Gibson made the announcement during a Facebook Live Friday afternoon, saying all the measures brought on by the city’s police and leaders forced the organizers to cancel it.

“After several conversations with the police, and understanding the situation, we’ve decided that tomorrow really feels like a set-up,” Gibson said. “A lot of people’s lives aren’t going to be safe. The rhetoric from Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, the media, all these people are saying we’re white supremacists, bringing in tons of extremists, and it just seems like a huge set-up, so we’re not going to fall into that trap, we’re not going to rally at Crissy Field.”

“At the end of the day we want people to be safe,” Gibson said.

Gibson said that they felt the event would have turned into a huge riot, and asked for protection during the press conference, especially from “antifa,” groups that oppose fascism, often violently.

Intermingling of protesters would have left nothing but casualties, organizers said.

The Patriot Prayer group had promised to hold a peaceful rally, but the group has held events elsewhere that have turned violent.

The rally has been hugely controversial from the very beginning, with Mayor Lee and other Democratic leaders vociferously speaking out against it.

As expected from the most liberal city in America, San Francisco had decided to counter the rally at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge – and the larger “alt-right” movement – in a quintessentially San Francisco way. If clowns, sheet cake, dancing and dog poop wasn’t enough in terms of a protest, Bay Area ports were planning to close down Saturday as well.

Dock workers, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, voted to “Stop the Fascists in San Francisco” Thursday in order to prevent a repeat of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Dock workers, who have a long history of port shutdowns against racism, war and police terror, aim to prevent a repeat of last week’s murderous Nazi/white supremacist attack,” the union said.

A giant inflatable chicken, that bears the hairstyle of President Donald Trump, was also supposed to make an appearance in the San Francisco Bay.

Nobody really knew what to expect at the rally, which was approved by the National Parks Service despite protests from Mayor Lee and Pelosi.

Local bloggers summarized Patriot Prayer’s beach-side event as a “photo op of Battle Royale with Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop.”

“The location will be particularly powerful when it comes to image-making, and that is likely the intent of Patriot Prayer in choosing it,” local blog SFist wrote.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Patriot Prayer group as “provocateurs,” whose previous rallies have been attempts “to provoke black-clad ideologues on the left into acts of violence.”

”And pictures and video of such violence with the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop — given all that the words “San Francisco” symbolize for commentators on the right, and even the center-right — are most certainly what extremist groups and alt-right personalities are hoping for,” SFist wrote.

Gibson said that the group respected the residents of San Francisco, and called on them for support.

Meanwhile, protests on the other side of the Bay Bridge in Berkeley, will go on as planned on Sunday. A permit was denied, but the “Rally Against Marxism,” and counter-protests will take place at Civic Center Park.

Patriot Prayer will be in attendance, organizers said.

Note from Mike Zonta:

This is a great victory for the Antifa (anti-fascists), for San Francisco, for Occupy, for lovers of free speech and for anti-racists.  Like the crying Nazi, these right-wing groups went all soft and gooey when faced with actual peaceful opposition (and potentially lots of dog shit).

“Beyond Protest: Could Alternative Elections Bypass the Rigged System?” by John Laurits

Blockchain Alternative Elections to Bypass a Rigged System, Title ImageAugust 25, 2017 (johnlaurits.com)

Like a weird monster emerging from the glowing portal discovered by the protagonist of a bad sci-fi movie, a new and uncomfortable reality continues to unfold from the void opened by the 2016 US elections. Facing a system that fails to stop the absurd hosts of its reality-TV shows from assuming command of its armed forces, more Americans are questioning whether US democracy really works or if ‘democracy’ is even the right term for a system capable of such results. Reforms favored by a super-majority for decades are no closer to being passed by a congress full of suspiciously wealthy politicians whom we seem to re-elect at a 96% rate despite the fact their overall approval rating trades at 10 – 20%. Though a growing number of people sense there is something deeply wrong here, how could a broken voting system be fixed by casting votes to fix the voting system using the same broken system that needed to be fixed in the first place?

Bypassing a Rigged System:
How Could the Two-Party Regime Be Brought Down?

Clinton Campaign Strategy, cartoon by Jacob Yona
“Lesser Evils,” Cartoon by Jacob Yona

When the DNC brazenly sandbagged Bernie to run a tone-deaf neoliberal hawk against a scumbag real-estate mogul who hijacked the GOP, voters were again cornered by an either/or choice between the evils of their two-party system. Trump did not win because voters liked him. In fact, without the voters who chose him primarily because they disliked Clinton even more, the number who wanted Trump drops to 18.2% of the voting-age population.The same math reveals just 20.9% wanted Clinton. And that means less than 2/5ths of the nation cared for either candidate — but the tragic part is that none of it was because there were no better options. The number of options available to reform the United States’ shockingly dysfunctional elections are so many and popular that there is no rational explanation for the failure of US politicians to support them — unless, of course, they just do not want to.

10,000 Solutions Ignored by Spineless Politicians

US Elections Don't Work / Congressional Approval Ratings
Fact: the opposite of “progress” is called “congress”

Constant deadlock in congress, the polarized electorate, and the soul-crushing choice-of-evils offered to voters by the US plurality system — all of this could be meaningfully addressed by simply printing ballots for a cardinal system, like approval or rated voting. The countless voices silenced by dishonest, partisan, and racist practices of gerrymandering could be enfranchised by re-drawing US congressional districts scientifically rather than politically. Polls show 2/3rds of the US favors automatic voter-registration and 3/5ths favor more early-voting, both of which would increase dismal turnout rates — and less than 3/10ths support the electoral college!Campaign finance reform, secure and verified voting, ballot access reform, open primaries — the list goes on.

But what can the public do if lawmakers refuse to fix a system that keeps electing them?

Crazy Idea:
What If We Just Held Our Own Elections?

Even though politicians often come to power in elections that less than 3-in-10 voters participate in, their authority goes unchallenged because there is no other authority that is widely perceived to be more legitimate. But what if a more legitimate authority did exist? What if there were leaders who were elected by greater numbers of voters participating in better elections that were widely perceived to be more secure and transparent? Could the state’s authority — which claims to be legitimately derived from the consent of the people — be challenged by an authority that was able to prove its legitimacy was based on a more popular consent given by more of the people?

In the past, organizing nationwide elections was so costly and difficult that many activists might have laughed off the idea of challenging corrupt authorities with alternative elections. To do so, a group would have needed to coordinate a massive volunteer-network and raise vast sums of money to generate public interest, gain access to facilities across the nation to use as polling places, and purchase voting and tabulation equipment for millions to use. Until now, democracy has been an expensive logistical nightmare for big organizations with lots of capital — but technology has a funny habit of tipping the scales of power.

Blockchain Technologies Hold the Key
To Organizing Alternative Elections

What is bitcoin? Infographic, Blockchain TechWhile the idea of online voting has been kicked around as a way to increase turnout and lower costs of elections, concerns about the security of internet-based systems have kept them from becoming a reality. The same thing could have been said about digital currency, of course — but that was before bitcoin successfully went from being a small idea at the fringes of the web to being listed by the largest global currency exchanges alongside the US dollar. Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies became possible as a result of new systems based on cryptographically-secured distributed ledger technology — or simply ‘blockchains’ — and the same innovations have made it possible to build secure systems for online voting.

How Blockchains Work

blockchain is essentially a growing list of records stored by copying and sharing them between a group of computers. This means blockchain-based systems can store information in a way that is both de-centralized and secure by design. In addition to storing a copy of the records contained in the blockchain, the computers also bundle new entries into blocks that are added to the list one-at-a-time — like a chain! To add new blocks, the computers need to spend time and energy to solve a difficult mathematical puzzle made from the information in the block being added and the completed puzzle that was solved to add the block before it.

Since each block’s puzzle is partly made from the puzzle-solution used to add the last block, any attempt to alter a block will also change its puzzle and puzzle-solution. This results in a chain reaction ( pun intended ) which invalidates the puzzles and puzzle-solutions for every block after it. To alter even a single entry in the blockchain, a new puzzle has to be solved for the altered block and for all blocks added after it. Since blocks are always being added to the blockchain as the network of computers solve more puzzles, it would take at least 51% of the network to solve the altered puzzles fast enough to catch up to the present block. This means the longest chain is always the honest chain unless there is a conspiracy involving 51% of the network ( pretty unlikely ).

Infographic, How Blockchain Works; Blockchain Voting

From Crypto-Currencies to Crypto-Democracies:
Secure, Verified, & Accessible Voting

Blockchains can give everyday people the ability to build internet-based voting systems for the same reasons that blockchains allowed everyday people to build internet-based crypto-currencies. In fact, voting platforms built on blockchain technology have already been developed as tools to audit suspicious results of state-run elections ( such as Follow My Vote in the US and VotoSocial in Honduras ). These platforms might easily become the blueprint for a voting system intended not to audit official elections — but to contest and replace them.

As Follow My Vote’s software shows, cryptography can be used to make sure the identities of voters are verified but still allow for ballot secrecy. In addition to eliminating the prohibitive cost of past elections, a public blockchain ( like the one that powers bitcoin ) would allow election results to be publicly counted in real time, eliminating doubt about their honesty. Organizing a decentralized electoral system built on an open-source, public blockchain would allow grassroots activists to:

  • Instantly reform the ‘lesser-evilism’ of first-past-the-post/plurality voting by implementing a system designed to measure what voters support ( like approval or graded voting )
  • Increase voter turnout & engagement by developing apps & websites to allow secure, verified voting from voters’ smart phones, computers, or public libraries
  • Solve ballot access issues by letting voters in every state to vote for third-party or independent candidates, regardless of unfair state-level laws
  • Provide results that anyone can audit, making them more transparent, secure, & trustworthy than the faith-based, unverifiable totals produced by DRE voting-machines in US elections
  • Demonstrate conclusively that a better electoral system is not only possible but far easier & less expensive than the repressive & dysfunctional system used for US elections today

Dismantling the Two-Party Regime
By Forcing a Crisis of Legitimacy

The voting systems already built on blockchains are intended to let the public audit government elections and to promote greater transparency and security in future government elections — but could the same systems be adapted to bring governments down? History teaches us that even powerful authorities cannot endure a major loss of legitimacy for long — without political legitimacy, a regime can fall like a house of cards. Today, the “consent of the governed” is the most widely accepted standard of legitimacy for the authority of a government and the typical method for measuring consent is by voting.

Hypothesis: People’s Elections w/ Higher Turnout & More Popular Results Would De-Legitimize, Bypass, & Break the Rigged Political System

The Rigged System of US Elections, Voter Turnout
The good news is that achieving a higher % turnout than official US elections might be easy — the bad news is they’ve set a really, really low bar…

If candidates with the greatest number of votes are the legitimate leaders, then the elections with the greatest number of participating voters produce the legitimate results. Throughout the course of recent history, polling data shows us that the people of the United States consistently disapprove of what their government does but the political system has proven to be incapable of changing this situation. There is no lack of frustration and the urge to make meaningful changes already exists — the only thing lacking is a way to express that urge and frustration to produce change. Organizing independent, alternative elections at a grassroots level would provide a vehicle for challenging the authority of the present system and for building the democracy needed to replace it simultaneously.

An authority as powerful and established as the United States government is unlikely to give up its power overnight, of course — but how long could the two-party system endure if everyone knew others had more legitimate authority to represent the nation? If the outcome of people’s elections differed from the official results, then the mere existence of that more popular outcome would produce a crisis of legitimacy that might quickly turn the US empire upside down. How many years would people suffer the ruler-ship of charlatans whose authority was rooted in the flimsy claim that their election was the ‘official’ one for no discernible reason except that they keep saying so?

And it would all be achieved with no bloodshed. Instead of appealing to authority that the people delegated in the first place or dealing with the destructive consequences of forcible regime-change, the revolution would victoriously emerge from inside the system of oppression. And — like an alien — the glorious and newly self-liberated society would simply burst out of the old one’s chest.

In solidarity,
John Laurits

“Op-Ed: SB 562 will fix healthcare once and for all” by Dan Geiger and Eric Leenson, BAHC

Supporters of California’s SB 562 “Medicare for all” bill rally in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Business Alliance for a Healthy California.


August 24, 2017 (eltecolote.com)

Our print and electronic media inundate us almost daily with concerns about quality healthcare, or more accurately, the lack thereof, and in that flood there is a fair amount of misinformation. At the Business Alliance for a Healthy California (BA4HC) we believe there is an urgent need to unpack conflicting messages, and articulate a strategy for a high-functioning and equitable healthcare system from a business perspective.

What we know

In wealthy industrialized nations, except for the United States, healthcare is viewed as a citizen’s right guaranteed for all, not unlike public education, or public safety. It is not considered a “product” or “service” to be exploited for profit.

In the U.S. we pay far more for healthcare services—more than double the average of other developed nations—yet the results we get are inferior. The U.S. consistently ranks behind dozens of other countries in overall performance and accessibility. Millions of people remain uninsured or under-insured and therefore go without adequate care.

Medicare, our federal program for those 65 and over, manages to provide efficient health insurance at a fraction of the cost of private health carriers. It does so by using a “single payer system,” one in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes the financing, but the delivery of care remains in private hands. In this way, costs can be aggregated to achieve major savings in drugs and medical services. Such public administration enhances the delivery of care by private practitioners.  Just ask elderly participants.

What we think

Conservatively, it is estimated that between 18 percent and 20 percent of overall healthcare costs can be saved by replacing bloated private insurance companies with a single payer system that has the ability to negotiate and regulate prices paid to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other service providers.  Several academic studies back up these numbers, including a recent study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Such ongoing savings would permit all residents, documented or not, to receive affordable, quality healthcare without worrying about deductibles, co-pays, in system/out system providers or the full array of other constraints.

More and more people are realizing that the time has come to adopt a “Medicare for all,” type healthcare system.  This long overdue reform is now politically achievable, though not without what will surely be a fierce battle with the powerful health insurance, hospital administration and drug industries, all of which are looking out for their bottom lines.

What we are doing in California

Since it is highly unlikely that a systemic solution will come from Washington in the foreseeable future, The Healthy California Campaign, of which the Business Alliance is an active member, is supporting adoption of California SB 562, which is essentially Medicare for all. The bill has passed in the State Senate, but needs additional support to clear the Assembly and move onto the governor’s desk

Courtesy: BAHC/LinkedIn

Healthcare is a business issue

BAHC recognizes that our broken system is not simply a health and human rights  problem, but also a crippling impediment to business expansion and employment growth.

Healthcare costs can consume as much as 22 percent of payroll expenditures for small businesses offering benefits.  Famed investor Warren Buffet was right when he called healthcare the “tapeworm of the American economy.” The single payer approach is a money saver.

By not promoting workers health, our system generates absenteeism that hurts workplace performance and moral. Far too many resources are squandered on time-consuming back-office administration. Lack of universal care creates barriers for startups as would-be entrepreneurs hesitate to launch for fear of losing company-tied health insurance.

Despite what the insurance, hospital, and drug sectors may tell us, SB 562 is business friendly for the great majority of us. In fact, it is especially friendly for small business by leveling the playing field for employee hiring and retention.

Make no mistake SB 562 will not become law without significant support from the 3.5 million small enterprises in California, which employ over six million people. We strongly encourage owners and workers at these businesses to inform themselves of what is at stake, and take action.

—Eric Leenson, Dan Geiger

Co-directors Business Alliance for a Healthy California

BAHC is a fiscally sponsored project of the American Sustainable Business Council, a nonprofit organization. BAHC is dedicated to bringing universal care to Californians. Educational materials are available at  BA4HCal.org

Whose Streets? – Official Trailer

Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whosestreets…

Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy.

Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance.

Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis know this story because they are the story. Whose Streets? is a powerful battle cry from a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live.

In theaters August 11

(Recommended by JP Massar.)

Sir Laurens van der Post on the political implications of going within

“The psychology of individuation has nothing to do with politics at all because it deals with the ultimate values, but yes, it has shattering political implications.  We cannot behave as if this journey into the collective unconscious hasn’t happened, because it has happened.   We can’t plead ignorance any more.  It has happened and because it’s happened, because we are facing an objective universe within as great as the universe without, we can never be the same again.  We cannot ignore it and it has enormous political consequences for us.  And the kind of society, the kind of politics that will save us will have to be aware, more important than any other quality in our politicians.  We must  demand psychological illumination, psychological awareness, because otherwise we get people sparring with their own shadows.  Otherwise, you’ll get nations, as we had in 1939, by the Germans projecting their shadows onto the Jews, and then when they’d eliminated the Jews, onto the Poles and God knows whatnot.  Jung often said to me, the human being who starts by withdrawing  his own shadow from his neighbor is doing work of immense immediate social and political importance.”

–Sir Laurens van der Post (December 13, 1906 – December 16, 1996) was a 20th-century Afrikaner author, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, … Wikipedia

“The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution” by Micah White 

Is protest broken? Micah White, co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, thinks so. Disruptive tactics have failed to halt the rise of Donald Trump. Movements ranging from Black Lives Matter to environmentalism are leaving activists frustrated. Meanwhile, recent years have witnessed the largest protests in human history. Yet these mass mobilizations no longer change society. Now activism is at a crossroads: innovation or irrelevance.

In The End of Protest Micah White heralds the future of activism. Drawing on his unique experience with Occupy Wall Street, a contagious protest that spread to eighty-two countries, White articulates a unified theory of revolution and eight principles of tactical innovation that are destined to catalyze the next generation of social movements.

Despite global challenges—catastrophic climate change, economic collapse and the decline of democracy—White finds reason for optimism: the end of protest inaugurates a new era of social change. On the horizon are increasingly sophisticated movements that will emerge in a bid to challenge elections, govern cities and reorient the way we live. Activists will reshape society by forming a global political party capable of winning elections worldwide.

In this provocative playbook, White offers three bold, revolutionary scenarios for harnessing the creativity of people from across the political spectrum. He also shows how social movements are created and how they spread, how materialism limits contemporary activism, and why we must re-conceive protest in timelines of centuries, not days.

Rigorous, original and compelling, The End of Protest is an exhilarating vision of an all-encompassing revolution of revolution.


“We the People” Trailer

Click here to find out how to see this film | http://www.wethepeople2.film

Tree Media’s (http://www.treemedia.com) feature Documentary, We the People 2.0, about the work of CELDF (http://www.celdf.org) Directed by Leila Conners, Featuring Thomas Linzey, Narrated by Walton Goggins, Produced by Mathew Schmid. We the People is a visual essay about the loss of democracy in the United States. The film utilizes both original footage as well as found footage to describe a profound change in thinking at the grassroots level. The story unfolds through the eyes of rural people and sacrifice zones in urban communities who have faced decades of toxic dumps, drilling and mines in their communities. We learn with them that the reason why, in spite of all their efforts, they “get what they don’t want, again and again,” is because they are, by law, truly powerless in spite of propaganda that says they live in the “best democracy in the world.” These people come to understand that the reason they can’t stop the destruction is that the US has become an oligarchy, run by the corporate few who ignore the rights and will of the people. These people are frontally challenging our corporate state; thereby saving nature and themselves. Thomas Linzey, a nonprofit attorney’s inspiring words shows how, we, the people, can turn this around and lay claim to our democracy. This movement is building as you read this, not just in this country but around the world; our film shows how and where it all began.