$1.6 Million in Medical Debt is Gone!

jpmassar Community (This content is not subject to review by Daily Kos staff prior to publication.) October 07, 2019 · (dailykos.com)


We did it! Signed, sealed and delivered, letters were received in these last weeks by more than 700 Bay Area residents informing them that

… you no longer owe the balance on the debt referenced above to the above provider. You no longer have any obligation to pay this debt to anyone, at any future time. Because this debt has been canceled as a gift by a 501(c)(3) charity, you do not owe any taxes on the “cancellation of debt” income.

In other words, medical debt abolished! To the tune of $1,600,000 in total.

Strike Debt Bay Area orchestrated a campaign that, with partner Harvey Bilik, raised more than $15,000. National charity RIP Medical Debt, which hosted the fundraiser, then used the funds to buy up defaulted medical debt for less than a penny on the dollar in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Francisco counties in California.

Here’s the county totals as reported to us by RIP Medical Debt:

CountyAmount AbolishedNumber of Debtors
Contra Costa$430,000320
San Francisco$258,00077

Thanks to the Kossacks (and everyone else!) who responded to our requests for donations (diaries here and here).

We are glad we could help 753 people stop the harassing phone calls, the anxiety and the desperation.  We only wish we didn’t need to have done it… All existing medical debt should be wiped away, and a system put in place yesterday to make sure that no one need incur such debt in the future.

As Vox put it recently

Medical debt is a serious problem in the United States. Here are the raw statistics:

– The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported in 2014 that 43 million Americans had unpaid medical debts on their credit reports.
– Americans accrued an estimated $88 billion in medical debt in 2018, according to a study by Gallup and the nonprofit group West Health.
– Nearly half of Americans fear a major medical event could lead to their bankruptcy, Gallup found.
– One in four people said that sometime in the past year they had skipped medical treatment because of concerns about cost.

We will continue to wish.  RIP Medical Debt, through its own donations and through campaigns across the country like ours, is getting close to eliminating a cool $1,000,000,000 in defaulted medical debt,. That’s an astounding number, except when compared to the total medical debt in the US, much of which is not defaulted (or not yet defaulted…) and people are struggling to pay off — often sacrificing their other needs to do so.

It’s time for radical change.

For more information see our Canceling Big Debts with Small Gifts FAQ, my previous diaries (here and here), the RIP Medical Debt website, and the site that started this all, the Rolling Jubilee.

‘Money Is Not Speech and Corporations Are Not People’: Sanders Unveils Plan to Get Corporate Money Out of Politics

October 07, 2019byCommon Dreams

“You can’t take on a corrupt system if you take its money.”

by Jon Queally, staff writer

Supporters cheer for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speak at a rally in support of the Chicago Teachers Union ahead of an upcoming potential strike on September 24, 2019 in Chicago. (Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Supporters cheer for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speak at a rally in support of the Chicago Teachers Union ahead of an upcoming potential strike on September 24, 2019 in Chicago. (Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Holding up the small-donor campaign model his campaign has revolutionized as proof alternatives exist, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday unveiled an ambitious new plan to get “corporate money out of politics.”

The Sanders plan aims to end the corrupting influence of dark money by dramatically curbing the ability of corporations to dominate giving to political parties, replacing the Federal Election Commission with a new enforcement agency, establishing public funding for all federal elections, and pushing for a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that “money is not speech and corporations are not people.”

“Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don’t need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president.” —Sen. Bernie SandersThe Sanders campaign said in a statement that the new slate of proposals—which can be read in full here—are designed to end “the greed-fueled, corrupt corporate influence over elections, national party convention, and presidential inaugurations” that currently exists and deliver to the public an election system the puts the America people at the center.

“Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don’t need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president,” Sanders said. “We’ve received more contributions from more individual contributors than any campaign in the history of American politics because we understand the basic reality that you can’t take on a corrupt system if you take its money.”

The plan would specifically target corporate giving by banning companies from donating to the Democratic National Convention and related committees, a change that would dramatically upend how the DNC has traditionally operated the quadrennial party gathering.

The proposal would also abolish corporate giving to presidential inaugurations and cap individual donations to $500.

According to the campaign:

Corporate donors spend tremendous amounts of money on inaugural events. In 2016, Trump’s inaugural donors included AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, General Motors, Coca Cola, Pepsi, and many more. Private Prisons also shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for Trump’s inauguration. And this is nothing new, Corporate donors to the 2013 inauguration included Microsoft, Boeing, Chevron, Genetech, and numerous federal contractors. Many of these corporations have federal contracts and business that comes before Congress. It is absolutely absurd that these entities are allowed to spend enormous sums of money in an attempt to garner favor with the president and vice president of the United States.

Sanders outraised all his Democratic rivals for the presidential nomination in the last quarter by bringing in $25.3 million, with an average donation of just $18. In September, the campaign announced it had received donations from one million different people so far in the campaign, with teachers, Walmart employees, and other blue collar workers making up the most represented donors.In its statement announcing the new plan Monday, the campaign outlined other key elements of the ‘Corporate Money Out of Politics Plan‘ which includes:

  • Enacting mandatory public financing laws for all federal elections. 
  • Updating and strengthening the Federal Election Campaign Act to return to a system of mandatory public funding for National Party Conventions. 
  • Passing a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that money is not speech and corporations are not people.
  • Ending the influence of corporations at the DNC.
    • Banning donations from federal lobbyists and corporations. 
    • Institute a lifetime lobbying ban for National Party chairs and co-chairs.
    • Banning chairs and co-chairs from working for entities with federal contract, that are seeking government approval for projects or mergers, or can reasonably be expected to have business before Congress in the future. 
  • Banning advertising during presidential primary debates.
  • Instituting a lifetime lobbying ban for former members of Congress and senior staffers.

As the Washington Post notes, Sanders’ plan to replace the FEC—which his campaign describes as “now-worthless”—with a new agency signals a bold shift:

Sanders envisions [a Federal Election Agency] made up of three members with legal backgrounds who serve terms long enough to ensure no president could appoint the entire committee at any one time. The FEA would have the power to pursue not only civil penalties but also criminal charges against those violating campaign finance laws.

Many Democratic candidates have criticized the FEC as toothless in the course of the campaign, though Sanders is the only one to call for its complete retooling. Sanders’s plan also attacks corporate influence in politics by banning former members of Congress and senior staffers from future lobbying endeavors. 

The proposal is an indication that Sanders’ vision to fix American democracy goes far beyond “structural reforms” by targeting what he perceives as the rot at the center of the system: corporate greed and massive political power seized by the multinational corporations and the extremely rich.

A large part of the proposal includes leveling the playing field by putting working class people at the center of primaries and elections by boosting public funding. In order to combat “the outsized influence large corporate donors have on candidates,” the campaign argues, the U.S. must move to publicly fund federal elections in order to neutralize the corrupting influence of corporate donors and the uber wealthy.

Sanders argues that his grassroots campaign proves that not only that it can be done successfully, but that the people are hungry for it.

“Working people all over the country are responding to that message and demanding a political revolution through their small dollar donations,” Sanders said on Monday. “When we win the Democratic nomination and defeat Donald Trump, we will transform our political system by rejecting the influence of big corporate money.”

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Special Report: Hong Kong on Edge

Bloomberg Markets and Finance Sep.27 — Bloomberg Television goes inside the protests in Hong Kong that have transformed from opposition to an extradition bill, to wider anger over civil rights and China’s influence. In this special program, correspondent Stephen Engle talks to key players from all sides, unearthing the causes of the violent unrest, and seeking possible solutions to a crisis that’s threatening the future of this unique city.

Amid protests and criticism, Breed defends District Attorney appointment

Protesters demonstrate outside the Far East Cafe in Chinatown after Mayor London Breed appointed Suzy Loftus as interim District Attorney on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The disruption forced the mayor’s staff to make a venue change.

Protesters gathered in Portsmouth Square in Chinatown Friday afternoon to object to Mayor London Breed’s planned announcement that she would appoint Suzy Loftus as District Attorney just weeks before the Nov. 5 election.

The disruption forced the mayor’s staff to make a venue change and those gathered walked a few blocks over to Far East Cafe on Grant Avenue where Breed showed up and protesters were prevented from entering by a line of Police Officers stationed outside the entrance.

Muffled shouts were still heard upstairs as Breed announced, a half hour later than planned, she would appoint Loftus as District Attorney. Current office holder District Attorney George Gascon tendered his resignation to Breed Thursday, effective Oct. 18.

Critics of the move said Breed was undermining democracy and she ought to wait to let the voters decide.

Mayor London Breed speaks at a news conference to appoint Suzy Loftus as interim District Attorney at Far East Cafe in Chinatown on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The appointment gives Loftus a boost in the contest, where she faces challengers like deputy public defender Chesa Boudin, deputy state attorney general Leif Dautch and prosecutor Nancy Tung.

Loftus is more aligned with San Francisco’s political moderates while Boudin picked up endorsements from progressive politicians.

“It just wouldn’t be San Francisco without a nice protest,” Breed joked. She was joined on stage at the establishment by politicians like Assembly member David Chiu and Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Catherine Stefani and Ahsha Safai.

Breed used the moment to praise Loftus for her accomplishments and for working with her in the past to deal with violence in the Fillmore District at the time when Gavin Newsom was mayor.

Breed said when she received Gascon’s resignation, “I couldn’t help but get excited about the future because I know that Suzy Loftus is the right person for this job.”

Suzy Loftus listens to her oldest daughter Maureen speak at a news conference while embracing her other daughters, Grace and Vivienne, after she was appointed interim District Attorney by Mayor London Breed at a news conference at Far East Cafe in Chinatown on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Gascon announced earlier last year that he would not run for re-election in San Francisco and cited his elderly mother’s failing health. On Thursday, he sent a letter to Breed announcing he would resign to move to Los Angeles where he will explore a run for District Attorney in that city.

“There is no way that I am going to leave this office vacant for the next three months,” Breed said. “I couldn’t think of anyone better to step in at this critical time.”

After Breed’s remarks, Loftus acknowledged the protesters. “For anyone whose trust I have yet to earn I will work everyday to earn your trust,” she said.

Other candidates for District Attorney blasted the move.

“This is an obvious power grab by a political establishment determined to protect themselves rather than the people of San Francisco,” Boudin told the San Francisco Examiner. “Voters will see this is about politics, not public safety.”

Boudin said his campaign “support is strong and getting stronger every day” and voters “want a DA who is accountable to them, not to the mayor.”

“I’m confident our campaign can overcome this last minute effort to preserve the failed status quo,” he said.

Candidate Tung also was critical in a statement.

“Mayor London Breed appointing her endorsed candidate for District Attorney, just days before people start voting, reeks of cronyism and political backroom deals,” Tung said. “This is a blatant move to inappropriately influence this critically important election, and yet another example of the District Attorney’s Office being politicized and used for personal favoritism.”

Breed, who referred to the District Attorney contest as a “wide open race,” told reporters after the announcement that she felt it was her responsibility to fill the seat with someone “I can trust to do the job.”

“You look at the Tenderloin and people are wondering why aren’t we doing more,” Breed said. “We need to start doing more sooner rather than later and I don’t want to leave the District Attorney’s Office unattended.”

She said, “We don’t just leave an office open just because an election is coming up — especially one of the most important offices in our city.”

But Breed’s explanation didn’t sit well with protesters.

One managed to follow a group of people into the establishment, order Chinese food and then sneak up the backstairs to confront Breed who was talking to reporters.

“You are undermining our democracy. You are interrupting the democratic process. Anybody but Suzy Loftus,” shouted Dylan Yep, 27, a San Francisco resident.

He later told the Examiner that Breed should have simply gone with the person Gascon said would run the office absent an appointment, his chief of staff, Cristine Soto DeBerry.

Loftus will serve the remainder of Gascon’s term through January 2020, beginning Oct. 18 when Breed will officially appoint her to the post. Loftus would continue to serve a four-year term if she prevails in November.

‘On Message as Always’: Sanders Works His Heart Procedure Into Case for Medicare for All as #GetWellBernie Trends

October 03, 2019 by Common Dreams

“None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!”

by Jake Johnson, staff writer

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign rally at Civic Center Park on September 9, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

As the outpouring of well-wishes from presidential candidates, progressive activists, celebrities, lawmakers, and thousands of ordinary Americans continued Thursday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted a note of gratitude for the support following his successful heart procedure and—always on message—immediately worked the treatment into his case for Medicare for All.

“I’m feeling good. I’m fortunate to have good healthcare and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover,” said Sanders, who had two stents inserted Tuesday night to treat an artery blockage. “None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!”

The tweet was Sanders’s first public comment since his procedure, which came after the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate experienced discomfort on the campaign trail in Nevada. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta estimated Sanders’s recovery period following the treatment will likely be around a week.

“When the going gets tough, Bernie Sanders fights greedy insurance CEOs and pushes Medicare for All.”
—David Sirota, Sanders speechwriter

In the meantime, while Sanders canceled events and appearances “until further notice,” his presidential campaign sent a newsletter just hours after the procedure underscoring how “stents are a perfect example of why the United States needs to join the rest of the world and pass Bernie’s Medicare for All legislation.”

“Bernie is conversing and in great spirits as he rests up from what medical experts note is a routine procedure (roughly 1.8 million stent procedures happen in the United States every year),” wrote Sanders speechwriter David Sirota in the campaign’s “Bern Notice” newsletter.

Sirota pointed to a 2018 study published in Health Affairs showing that stents “cost up to six times more in the United States than in other industrialized countries with government-sponsored healthcare systems.”

“Why the price differential? In part, because America’s dysfunctional healthcare system involves a complex web of payers—rather than a single-payer Medicare for All system that can negotiate better prices,” Sirota noted. “So as you see the headlines about Bernie today, send him your good vibes—and remember how important the fight for Medicare for All really is.”

The newsletter came as the hashtag #GetWellBernie trended on Twitter, with prominent figures like NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, comedian Sarah Silverman, and thousands of others wished Sanders a speedy recovery.

“I am neither Democrat nor Republican, but Sanders is in my opinion the most fundamentally decent man in politics,” said Snowden. “His life-long struggle for a more equitable society is a reminder of how far we have come—and a challenge to complete the journey.”

“This whole campaign was Bernie with a BLOCKED ARTERY??” tweeted Silverman. “Can you imagine the force he’s gonna be now with it’s UNblocked?! GO BERNIE GO!”

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Hong Kong leader invokes emergency powers to ban masks at protests

October 4, 2019 NEWS WIRES (france24.com)

Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam on Friday invoked colonial-era emergency powers for the first time in more than 50 years in a dramatic move intended to quell escalating violence in the Chinese-ruled city.

Lam, speaking at a news conference, said a ban on face masks would take effect on Saturday under the emergency laws that allow authorities to “make any regulations whatsoever” in whatever they deem to be in the public interest.

Many protesters wear masks to hide their identity due to fears employers could face pressure to take action against them.

It was not clear how the government would implement the mask ban in a city where many of its 7.4 million residents wear them every day to protect against infection following the outbreak of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003.

‘Hong Kong protesters are incredibly resourceful and creative,’ says FRANCE 24’s correspondent Oliver Farry

Four months of anti-government protests have plunged the former British colony into its biggest political crisis since its handover to Beijing in 1997 and have created a serious challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Violence escalated on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, when police fired about 1,800 volleys of tear gas, 900 rubber bullets and six live bullets – one of which hit an 18-year-old.

The student, Tony Tsang, was shot at close range as he fought an officer with what appeared to be a white pole. He has been charged with rioting, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence, and assaulting an officer. Tsang is in stable condition in hospital.

The shooting enraged protesters who rampaged across the city, throwing petrol bombs, blocking roads and starting fires as police responded with tear gas.

Hong Kong protesters react to news of the face mask ban

‘More Serious’

Even before the new rules were confirmed, protests against them began across the Asian financial hub, with hundreds of office workers wearing masks gathering to march. “Police brutality is becoming more serious and the set up of an anti-mask law is to threaten us from protesting,” said one protester, who asked to be identified as just Chan, a 27-year-old financial industry worker.

Pro-Beijing groups had been pushing for legislation to ban face masks at demonstrations.

The protesters are angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy in the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong returned to China in 1997.

China dismisses accusations it is meddling and has accused foreign governments, including the United States and Britain, of stirring up anti-China sentiment.

What began as opposition to a proposed extradition law, that could have seen people sent for trial in mainland courts, has grown into a call for five demands, including universal suffrage and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

The protests have been inflamed by the police shooting of a teenaged secondary school student on Tuesday during a clash, and more rallies are expected later in the evening and over the weekend.

Authorities have already loosened guidelines on the use of force by police, according to documents seen by Reuters.


Here are the Examiner’s recommendations for the November ballot’s local measures

Here’s how to vote on issues from vaping to affordable housing to campaign reform

From vaping to affordable housing to campaign reform, here are The Examiner’s recommendations for the November ballot’s local measures.

Proposition A — $600M Affordable Housing Bond


This bond will fund affordable housing construction, small site acquisitions and rehabilitation projects. It is desperately needed, and has wide support across the political spectrum. In addition, it has been constructed in such a way as to not increase the overall tax burden on homeowners, and to maintain it at roughly the same level over time. We urge you to vote yes.

Proposition B — Department of Disability and Aging Services


This is largely a housekeeping measure, changing the name of the Aging and Adult Services Commission and department to the Department (and Commission) of Disability and Aging Services. The change is intended to reflect the actual nature of the work already being done by the commission and department. The only change of any real substance is the addition of qualification requirements for commission members intended to ensure various interest groups are represented.

Proposition C — Vapor products


While the Yes on Prop. C campaign has been suspended, the measure remains on the ballot and still could potentially pass, so it’s important we explain our opposition.

In June, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve what has been described as a ban on vaping products, although it is technically a moratorium or suspension. Inspired by skyrocketing rates of vaping among youth, the ban on sales in The City will be lifted, according to the legislation, when vaping products go through FDA review and approval.

If vaping supporters had gone to the ballot with a simple yes or no referendum on the ban, we might be having a different conversation with our readers right now. There is a legitimate debate to be had on the merits of prohibition.

However, that’s not what they did. Instead, San Francisco-based vaping manufacturer Juul — which is heavily financed by the tobacco industry — financed a ballot measure with a complex set of regulations that would have the effect of permanently legalizing the sale of vaping products in San Francisco in a manner that cannot be altered by the Board of Supervisors.

Furthermore, they ran a deeply dishonest campaign in which they attempted to position their addictive product as a “smoking cessation” tool that is safer than traditional cigarettes — claims no legitimate medical authority will back. Indeed, those claims have gotten Juul in trouble with the FDA, which issued a warning over them to the company last month.

The long-term safety and health effects of vaping products remain unclear, and recent illnesses and deaths, while likely linked to black market products, have highlighted those concerns. Ultimately, we hope the Board of Supervisors takes up the task of establishing clear regulations around vaping products, after the FDA weighs in. But right now, there is no way we can support a measure that would allow the tobacco industry, in its newest guise, to impose its own set of rules on our city.

Proposition D — Traffic congestion mitigation tax


Proposition D will impose a 1.5 percent tax on shared rides using ridehail services such as Uber and Lyft that originate in San Francisco and a 3.25 percent tax on unshared rides. The funds will be used to pay for transit and pedestrian and bicycle safety projects. Introduced by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the amount of the tax was settled in negotiations with Uber and Lyft, who in turn agreed not to fight it at the ballot box. Our only objection is that it should be much higher, given the role the two companies have played in growing traffic congestion in San Francisco.

Proposition E — Affordable Housing and Educator Housing


This measure would change the zone of land owned by public agencies across The City to allow for the development of affordable and teacher housing projects and streamline the approval process for such projects by reducing the need for some types of permits. While far from a magic bullet, it could save precious money and time and make some projects more likely to come to fruition.

Proposition F — Campaign contributions and advertisements


The “Sunlight on Dark Money” initiative aims to give voters more information about who is funding political ads and tighten some limits on who can donate to campaigns in an effort to avoid “pay-to-play” politics. Specifically, it would require independent committees, which are allowed to collect unlimited contributions far in excess of the $500 limit for donations to individual candidates, to disclose who their biggest funders are on any campaign ads they pay for. It also would prohibit top officials with companies that have a real estate project waiting for approval from The City from donating to candidates for mayor, city attorney or the board of supervisors, and clarify restrictions on donations from corporations under city law.

Overall, Proposition F is a relatively modest measure, but it is one we are happy to support.

This UK City Wants to Win with the Sharing Economy

Could a collaborative approach to urban living put Norwich on the global map?

Lauren Razavi Jun 12, 2018 · (Medium.com)

You’ve probably never heard of Norwich. Located on the United Kingdom’s picturesque east coast, this small urban center held the title of England’s second city until the Industrial Revolution. Today, however, it’s home to just 200,000 people, and almost nobody outside Britain can point to it on a map. But that may not be the case for long.

According to the 2017 State of the Nation report, Norwich ranks among the country’s worst areas for social mobility. Meanwhile, reeling from Brexit uncertainty, the UK’s economy recently posted its worst quarterly GDP figures in five years. In the face of economic stagnation and poor local conditions, a group in Norwich has decided to take action in pursuit of a future based on hope, solutions, and global connections. At the beginning of 2018, city residents and local organizations came together and began campaigning for Norwich to be recognized as the UK’s leading city for sharing.

The Norwich Sharing City collective brings together municipal authorities, voluntary organizations, universities, and businesses to raise awareness of the sharing activities happening in Norwich, primarily through an events program. They’re also arranging public discussions intended to generate new ideas for citizen-led projects to help overcome issues such as food waste, plastic pollution, and traffic congestion on the local level. During Global Sharing Week (June 3–10), the collective will project a sharing animation onto Norwich Castle, a 900-year-old monument overlooking the city, and they’ll soon start crowdfunding monthly donations through the Open Collective platform.

“For me, the sharing city concept is an opportunity to look closely at how communities, towns, and cities work and how they might operate in the future. The next generation are starting to shape their culture and environment in ways that reflect how they feel about their society,” says Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich’s Business Improvement District, an organization working as part of the collective. “We see the sharing city as a real opportunity for people, communities, and businesses to work together in new and innovative ways.”

With globally renowned and well-funded cities such as London, Manchester, and Edinburgh within easy reach, it’s perhaps surprising that Norwich has chosen to pursue the sharing city title. Locals, however, are quick to list Norwich’s unique advantages. “We have a good mix of academic institutions and small businesses here, making the city a great place to pilot new things,” says Ali Clabburn, founder of the global car-sharing platform Liftshare, which has been based in Norwich for 20 years. “Small businesses can change and pick up new habits fast, and the same is true of the individuals working within them.”

According to Gurney, Norwich’s size also gives it a unique and attractive position. “It helps the local community engage and really feel like part of the city. That encourages independence and thinking differently, which is really the ethos of Norwich, in my eyes,” he explains.

Kate Cooper is co-founder of a social enterprise called We Wear the Trousers, which promotes sustainable fashion and new business models for the industry. Before launching her nonprofit in May, Cooper worked across Norwich’s sharing economy in a variety of roles, including launching a swap shop for clothes. She argues that Norwich has long held the credentials to be a sharing city, but current efforts are helping make connections.

“Sharing has always been what people in Norwich do naturally, but calling it the ‘sharing economy’ has given it a fresh feel and a kind of legitimacy. Helping citizens feel like they’re part of a global movement has really captured the city’s imagination. There’s such power in naming things,” Cooper says. “A couple of years ago, even though people were sharing, we didn’t quite have the language to talk about it. Now we have momentum, and we’re ready to lead the UK.”

With a strong and collaborative voluntary sector and a fast-growing tech and startup scene, Norwich is already an active sharing economy location. So, is the campaign to see Norwich recognized as the UK’s leading sharing city just a marketing scheme focused on showcasing activities the city is already engaged in? Or are new projects arriving, too?

“You need both fresh projects and awareness-raising. You need someone to be at the vanguard, to have thought of it first, to have the drive and energy to start making things happen,” Gurney explains. “The current sharing activities in Norwich provide the credentials to push for recognition, and this allows others to make the case for funding and support, knowing that the infrastructure and environment work. But you need fresh initiatives, too. The moment you’re stood still, you stagnate and fall behind.”

Norwich aims to tell a compelling story about its commitment to sharing and garner national and international attention as a modern, free-thinking, and vibrant city. The collective also hopes to create a stronger sense of community and encourage peer-to-peer projects that can improve social mobility, as well as help local businesses look to the future: at uses of technology, the changing high street, and new ways of doing business. According to Clabburn, the social benefits of sharing are considerable as well.

“Sharing can pretty much solve our city’s transport crisis, given the right resources. It could wipe out congestion, improve air quality, and give access to work or services for everyone who needs this,” he explains. “Apply that to health, skills, food, or accommodation, and the potential is enormous. All it takes is a few people being brave and pushing for the potential they see.”

But as with any ambitious campaign that sets out to challenge the status quo, Norwich has hurdles to overcome if it is to succeed.

“The biggest obstacle will always be the knowledge and understanding,” Gurney says. “When you’re the first people pushing at the door to drive change, you’ll always come up against inertia and people who believe something like the sharing city will never work in Norwich.”

That sort of negativity certainly has the potential to slow things down. In the UK, budgets and campaigns are often concentrated at the national level, with smaller cities left with a “trickle down” from London and a lack of urban autonomy. “For some in Norwich, there is a tendency to just accept what others deliver or do what they tell us,” Gurney says. “But we must support those with the motivation and ideas to make our city better. People are the key asset in sharing cities. They have to buy into it.”

Bureaucracy, too, could quickly dampen the passion of Norwich’s proactive citizens. This is especially true of millennials, who are both the driving force behind the Norwich Sharing City collective and the most likely to be put off if traditional forces stand in the way of the future they envision. “If people get onboard and then stop things from happening, they shouldn’t be on the bus in the first place,” Clabburn says. “Other UK cities are already taking note of what we’re doing. We want to be a world leader, and that means moving fast.”

The “sharing cities” concept has huge power in terms of uplifting cities that have not had the opportunity to share their knowledge and culture in the past. For decades, the phrase “Do Different” has been the local motto in Norwich, encapsulating a citywide ethos of creative and independent thinking. While the Norwich Sharing City collective is at the beginning of its campaign, it might not be long until more people around the world have heard of Norwich and England’s second city reclaims its title.

This story is part of the series “Building a City,” examining the opportunities and challenges of the sharing economy in different cities. Read the previous installment:How Rwanda’s Capital Became an African Tech LeaderKigali’s knowledge-based sharing economy is an example for other cities looking towards the futuremedium.com

‘Gave Me Goosebumps’: Praise for Independent Video That Captures Side of Bernie Sanders Corporate Media Ignores

October 04, 2019 by Common Dreams

“This video lifts up so many marginalized voices that are consistently downplayed and discounted by the corporate media. Bernie Sanders hears you.”

by Jake Johnson, staff writer

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) greets people as he walks with reporters through the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on August 11, 2019. (Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images)

A video created by independent producer Matt Orfalea in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders went viral Friday as progressives praised the five-minute ad for offering a powerful counter to the corporate media’s consistently negative portrayal of Sanders and his 2020 presidential campaign.

“Legit gave me goosebumps,” wrote one Twitter user, a sentiment that was echoed across social media in response to the video.

The video juxtaposes the media caricature of Sanders as an unsmiling, loud, and angry curmudgeon with clips showing the friendly and compassionate senator many supporters experience in person at rallies and town halls across the country.

“No candidate has endured more unfounded hateful attacks than Bernie Sanders. But he fights on!” tweeted Orfalea, who posted the video to YouTube Thursday.

Watch the clip:

Shaun King, columnist for The Intercept and Sanders supporter, called Orfalea’s video “the single best, most insightful, most inspirational” ad of the 2020 presidential election thus far.

“Thank you to @0rf for not only showing the world how kind and compassionate Bernie Sanders is,” King tweeted, “but showing just how far off base coverage about him can be.”

Actress and Sanders backer Susan Sarandon praised the video for elevating perspectives that the media often ignores in its coverage of the Vermont senator.

“This video lifts up so many marginalized voices that are consistently downplayed and discounted by the corporate media,” said Sarandon. “People of color, women, young people, working people, poor people, and the list goes on. Bernie Sanders hears you.”

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