UPDATE: Sign this new petition from Lawrence Lessig and Rootstrikers to demand an FEC hearing on Super PACs following Monday’s statements on corruption from FEC chairwoman Ellen Weintraub.

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We all know that elections in this country are far from a healthy state.

GX ED StickerSuper PACs, voter ID laws, $7 billion in election spending, and long polling lines mark most of our memories of the torrid 2012 election season.

Referring to those who waited hours upon hours to vote in states like Florida, Obama said, “We have to fix that.” He mentioned it again on Inauguration Day last week. And “fix it” we must, even though writers at the Huffington Post and Washington Post agree inaction is likely.

Why?

Since the Voter ID laws have proven to be largely partisan assaults on voting rights and outcomes primarily in Black and Latino (i.e. Democrat-leaning) communities in the first place, bi-partisan collaboration on solutions that would likely draw power and election victories away from the Republican party has solicited an openly hostile response to fixing this ‘democracy-problem.’ But, as we know, ignoring threats to democratic process is not a way to make these problems go away, and supporting pushes for vote reform is good. So let’s keep at it.

But even if this badly-needed vote reform succeeds, we have a major democracy-ulcer that must be treated: The broken-wing, stalemate agency known at the Federal Election Committee.

When Obama has spoken on behalf of badly-needed reforms in our elections, he limits his discourse to complications in the administration of voting itself. This breed of chaos roosts in the realm of counties and is largely pushed by external conservative lobbying hubs such as ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council). However, the FEC DOES have the authority to make our elections more democratic by enforcing and specifying laws around campaign finance.

“In 1975, Congress created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) – the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC, which is an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections.”
FEC.gov: “About the FEC” 

Remember the SCOTUS Citizens United decision and all the uproar about lack of specificity and concerns about dark money funneled anonymously into the election through 501c4 ‘shadow nonprofits’? Well, the FEC could have regulated that. The FEC could also more stringently penalize those who break election campaign finance laws.

The McCain-Feingold Act (2002) increased the maximum monetary penalties for these violations. But, as noted by FixTheFEC.org, the FEC rarely seeks these raised maximum penalties and often doesn’t pursue violations at all. John McCain bitterly refers to the FEC as a “muzzled watchdog” and “the little agency that can’t.”

So even what few laws we have managed to pass to protect our democracy simply aren’t enforced by the good old FEC. WHY?! Well, maybe you guessed it, but the bulk of the problem lies in partisan gridlock:

“The Commission is made up of six members, who are  appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Each member serves a six-year term, and two seats are subject to appointment every two years. By law, no more than three Commissioners can be members of the same political party, and at least four votes are required for any official Commission action. This structure was created to encourage nonpartisan decisions.”
FEC.gov: “About the FEC” 

Ha! Nice try with the whole, ‘encouraging nonpartisan decisions’ part, but it’s just NOT happening y’all. Records of the commission gridlock along party lines has years of records of formal complaints, and the lack of movement has resulted in the alarming fact that only one of the six commissioners is currently serving within their term limit.

Update: Bauerly left the FEC on Feb. 1, 2013. Image courtesy of CREW (Citizens for Ethics in Washington)

Update: Bauerly left the FEC on Feb. 1, 2013. Image courtesy of CREW (Citizens for Ethics in Washington)

Fortunately, one commissioner, Cynthia Baurely, resigned this year and left the FEC on Feb. 1, 2013. Four more expired term commissioners remain, but need to replace Bauerly will hopefully spark a transition. In with the new, for the sake of our ailing democracy. In a post-Citizens United world, there is no time for extra bickering in the Wild West of unlimited campaign spending and $7 billion elections. We need to enforce what campaign finance laws do exist, period.

I would hope that this is a breakthrough in getting some needed changes on the commission and moving away from the dysfunctional FEC that we’ve had for the last few years,” Democracy 21 President Frank Wertheimer stated this month. But we’ll see how it goes. 27,285 people have signed a petition to the White House to FixTheFEC. The White House responded to the petition, but with little real substance or commitment to actually create badly needed change at the FEC.

President Obama, in your State of the Union address on Feb. 12, there are many things we want you to address and take a stand on: dealing with climate change, ending the wars and drone strikes, and restoring our democracy. Don’t forget about this last part during your final term. Remember your campaign promise: “We have to fix that.” Get the expired commissions OUT of the FEC, and nominate qualified candidates for the Senate to pass. This year.

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medea benjaminThere are many things to be thankful for in 2012, starting with the fact that the world didn’t end on December 21 and that we don’t have to witness the inauguration of Mr. One-Percent Mitt Romney. The global economic crisis continued to hit hard, but people have been taking to the streets around the world, from students in Chile to indigenous activists in Canada to anti-austerity workers in Europe. And while the excitement of the Arab world uprisings has been tempered by divisions and losses, the struggles are far from over.

Here are some US and global issues that experienced newfound gains in 2012.

1.     While conservatives launched vicious attacks on women’s rights, it backfired—and fired up the pro-choice base! US voters elected the highest number of women to Congress ever, including the first openly lesbian senator (Tammy Baldwin), the first Asian-American senator (Mazie Hirono) and first senator to make the banks tremble, Elizabeth Warren! Voters also rejected 4 crazy candidates who called for limiting a woman’s right to choose—including the resounding defeat by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill over Mr. Legitimate Rape Todd Akin. Don’t forget that when Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood, it got so heartily trounced that it caved in than seventy-two hours later. And stay tuned for the 2013 global women rising – a billion of us demanding an end to violence against women on February 14!

2.     Immigrant rights groups, especially young Latinos, mobilized and took great risks to force a change in attitude—and a thaw in policy. They fasted and caravanned and marched and knocked on doors. They pushed the administration and in June, just before the election, President Obama announced a new immigration policy that allows some undocumented students to avoid deportation and receive work authorization when they apply for deferred action. While not nearly enough, especially in light of this administration’s record rate of deportations, a mobilized immigrant community with significant voting power stands poised to make more impactful changes in U.S. immigration policy next year.

3.     More money flooded the elections than ever before (some $5.8 billion!), but most of it went down a big, black hole—and unleashed a new movement for money out of politics. Billionaires wasted fortunes trying to sell lousy candidates and lousy ideas. Looking at the candidates supported by the biggest moneybags of all, Sheldon Adelson, NONE were elected to office. Right-wing “pundits” like Karl Rove proved themselves to be idiotic partisan hacks and the Tea Party has been tearing itself apart. But best of all, from Massachusetts to Oregon, Colorado to Illinois and Wisconsin, and Ohio to California, citizens throughout the country voted overwhelmingly for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.

4.     The marijuana genie is now out of the bottle, with people across the country backing referendums seeking an end to the decades of destructive, counterproductive drug wars. Colorado and Washington voters legalized recreational pot, and medical marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts. Voters in California passed Prop 34, which restricts lifetime incarceration via the “three strikes” law to violent or serious third offenses, a change that will help limit the prison sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. Prominent leaders including Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy, former President Bill Clinton and President Obama have hinted that they will reconsider the harsh criminal drug policy that has cost so much money and so many lives while failing to curb drug abuse.

5.     This year marked momentous wins for gay rights. Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington legalized marriage equality, and Minnesota defeated a restrictive state constitutional amendment that would have upheld a ban. Now, one-tenth of states in the U.S. uphold marriage equality. Thanks to activist pressure, on May 9 President Obama became the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples. Several prominent leaders in the Democratic Party followed his lead, and muted conservative responses only served to demonstrate how far public opinion has shifted on the issue.

6.     Climate activists have been kickin’ up a storm. Anti-coal activists have helped retire over 100 coal plants, victories that will save lives and clean our air and water, while wind energy hit a historic milestone of 50,000 megawatts. The global anti-fracking movement mounted effective campaigns that has led to local bans in the US and Canada, national moratoriums in France and Bulgaria, and tighter regulation in Australia and the UK. The grassroots campaign to stop the Keystone Pipeline has awakened a new generation of activists (don’t forget the upcoming February 17-18 President’s Day Climate Legacy/Keystone XL rally in Washington, D.C.). And on the national front, in August the Obama administration issued new miles-per-gallon rules on car manufacturers, mandating that Detroit nearly double fuel efficiency standards by 2025.

7.         Unions have been hard hit by the economic crisis and political attacks, but worker’s gains made in 2012 show potential muscle. The Chicago teachers’ strike in September, lasting for seven school days, led to an important victory for public education. Walmart workers staged the first-ever strikes against the biggest private sector employer in the United States and heralded a new model of organizing, with workers and community members coming together to support better conditions in the stores and warehouses even before the workers join a union. And in another example of worker/community organizing, student activism allied with union advocacy in San Jose, California led to a ballot initiative that will raise the minimum wage from $8 to $10 per hour for everyone working within the city limits.

8.     On the foreign policy front, opposition to drone warfare is on the rise. After years of silence about the use of lethal drones overseas, the public began to learn more and the level of anti-drone activism skyrocketed. Now there are protests all over the country, including army bases where drones are piloted and manufacturing plants, and US activists have hooked up with drone victims overseas. US attitudes, once overwhelmingly pro-drone, are beginning to change, becoming more aligned with the global opposition to drone warfare. And the increased global opposition is leading to a rethinking of US policies.

9.     The international movement for Palestinian human rights has gained unprecedented momentum. In November the United Nations endorsed an independent state of Palestine, showing sweeping international support of Palestinian demands for sovereignty over lands Israel has occupied since 1967. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions call by Palestinian civil society gained international traction as well, with economic, cultural and academic victories. Several different Christian denominations and college campuses voted to divest from Israeli occupation, the Technical University of Denmark dropped scientific collaboration projects with an Israeli settlement, the South African ANC endorsed the BDS call, Stevie Wonder cancelled a performance at a “Friends of the IDF” fundraiser, and much more. The grassroots call for Israel to adhere to international law has never been louder.

10.       After nearly 15 years of house arrest, Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to Parliament! Suu Kyi’s party, the NLD (National League for Democracy), swept the April by-elections, winning 43 of the 44 seats it contested. After decades of abuse, the military-dominated government released hundreds of political prisoners, enacted laws on forming trade unions and freedom of assembly, eased official media censorship, and allowed the opposition to register and contest elections. President Obama’s November visit, the first by a sitting US president, was an acknowledgement of the reforms. There’s still need for pressure, as hundreds of political prisoners remain, ethnic conflict continues, and Burmese military still holds too much power. But 2012 was a good year for the Burmese people.

There will be no time to rest in 2013, since the wealthy are already pushing to protect their profits to the detriment of the environment, workers’ rights and our democracy. But just as the massacre in Sandy Hook has led to a reinvigorated fight for gun control, so 2013 will surely mark a renewed effort to build stronger coalitions to spread the wealth, reverse global warming and disentangle ourselves from foreign wars. And with the presidential elections behind us, the time is ripe for building a progressive movement that is not tied to any political party but can put pressure on the entire system. Let the organizing begin!!!

Rainy, wet and fabulous.

1/23/2012 Update: Watch the new video “Embody the Movement” of J20 & the One People Flashmob just added towards the end of this post.

On January 20, Occupy Wall Street West made ‘business as usual’ uncomfortable in the financial core of  San Francisco. Despite copious rain, protests began at 6am, continued at Wells Fargo and Bank of America branches, moved to the courts, back to Bechtel and the banks, labor and immigrant rights marches targeting I.C.E offices and culminating with a huge and spirited march up Market St as night fell. Occupy SF later held a General Assembly on the top of the vacant Cathedral Hill Hotel and dropped the ‘People’s Food Bank of America banner off the side of the building.  Read a report back from the morning’s actions here.

Disrupting business at three banks or more was no small feat.  Kudos to those that peacefully blocked the doors by locking arms inside PVC pipes and sat there for over 8 hours, preventing the banks from opening. Rainforest Action Network was hard at work looking for the corporation/person Mr. Bank O. America, highlighting the result of the FEC vs Citizens United Supreme Court ruling which prohibits governments from placing limits on corporations or unions on independent political spending. Throughout the day people carried signs and chanted, “Corporations are not  people”, “Money is not speech” and “People before profit”.

Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Global Exchange, Fellowship of Reconciliation, New Priorities Campaign and others were present outside the Bechtel headquarters all day, protesting Bechtel’s practice of greed and destruction. A record of the day, as well as links to Bechtel facts is at the @bechtelaction twitter feed. Bechtel spends millions on campaign contributions and lobbyists who secure war contracts, undermining democratic process, while directing billions of public dollars to build nuclear weapons and make its CEO a billionaire. Bechtel received more than $2 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds to fund infrastructure rebuilding projects in Iraq. Its Pentagon contracts increased $700 million in 2009 after heavy lobbying on the military spending bill, and rose to $2.49 billion in 2011. Kirsten Moller describes the morning’s events here.

At 3pm about 75 people gathered to hear testimony about Bechtel, the impacts of war and occupation in the US and abroad. Global Exchange’s Dalit Baum spoke about corporate profiteering from war and ‘conflict management. Watch it here. At the end, IVAW members staged Operation First Casualty – recreating the situation and conditions present in Iraq which allow US military to arbitrarily detain civilians, by abducting members of the teach in. IVAW members had staged this action at different locations throughout the day and created a loud, aggressive and frankly, scary environment that brought home the sense of terror that people in Iraq and other occupied countries experience every day. The action is captured here. It contains strong language.


The action drew attention to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that obliterates constitutionally protected due process rights, permitting the the arrest and indefinite detention of US citizens anywhere in the world, including the US. More information about the NDAA can be read here.

The People’s Food Bank of America served up food to everyone at Justin Herman/Bradley Manning Plaza and Dancing Without Borders and CodePINK staged the ‘One People’ Flashmob before we marched up Market street behind the ‘Seize the Banks’ banner. Many folks sought shelter before arriving to the Cathedral Hill Hotel to post photos (a great stream of photos from the day are here), videos and blogs, warm wet feet and reflect on the Day of Action – believing that whatever happens next – we are unstoppable.

Added 1/23/12: Check out this new video “Embody the Movement of J20 & the One People Flashmob:

Photo credit: Justin Elliott

Which president told Congress: “I recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party…let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly?”

If you recognize this Presidential quote, it probably means you’re a history buff (or you watch too much Jeopardy). The correct answer: Who was Theodore Roosevelt?

While the speech has become a notable quotable, it’s often forgotten that it followed public outrage surrounding Roosevelt’s acceptance of huge corporate contributions that locked-in his election in 1904.  This popular clamor for accountability (the Progressive Era; maybe they were the Occupiers of their times) was enough to move Teddy and Congress to pass the first ever Federal legislation prohibiting corporations from making monetary contributions to national political campaigns, called the Tillman Act.

Now for extra points: What happened to the Tillman Act?

Like so many other attempts over the last 100+ years to restrict, reform, reign in, eliminate and otherwise account for Big Money in politics, the Tillman Act didn’t even need to be overturned for the corporate elite to get around it. It was simply whittled away. How is this done?  In the same way Congress later banned unions from making political contributions in the 1940’s, only to see Big Labor skirt the restrictions by forming the first-ever PAC, and collecting campaign donations (sometimes coercively) outside of regular worker’s dues.

OK, now for a Civics question: What is the source of power for the corporate elite?

Throughout our history as a nation, the wealthy elite have always held power, and its not an accident, or the result of a few bad decisions, or even corruption (though those all exist), its far more structural and insidious than that.  The Constitution itself provided—from the beginning—for a government by and for the 1%. The Founding Fathers truly believed that the best form of government was one in which wealth made the rules. At the time the Constitution was being debated, the majority of people were against it, despite how our folklore has remembered it.

Turns out the 99% of yesteryear were quite prescient indeed.

The REVOLVING DOOR: Center for Responsive Politics found 370 former members of Congress were in the "influence-peddling business", becoming lobbyists or corporate advisors.

Fast-forward to the present day, the ways money has seeped through the cracks of our political system and pooled into the pockets of our elected officials has only grown despite generations upon generations of ever-ongoing reform efforts.

* Dozens of Acts of Congress have been passed attempting to address corruption in government and our elections yet for every reform our system has enabled bigger, better ways for wealth to hold the reigns.

* Lobbyists. They walk right into lawmaking areas and help write bills and buy votes. They present politicians with corporate-friendly Bills already drafted. They are well paid to successfully influence, chop and change legislation, and work deals with our elected officials and even with Supreme Court Justices. Under our Constitution this is protected as free speech and despite the numerous laws to regulate lobbyists, the practice is only on the rise.

Constitutional laws.  Many states—not only Montana— wrote their Constitutions to include the subordination of corporations to the will of the people, and banned corporate political expenditures in state elections.  Over the years, most of those Constitutional provisions have been amended to pave the way for more corporate-friendly laws. (Montana, of course still has this language in their Constitution, and has used it to challenge Citizen’s United)

The Supreme Court. We ended the plantation system and slavery with the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments.  Yet it was the unelected lifers of the USSC that added corporate monsterhood to the 14th Amendment, providing the new vehicle for wealth to continue to rule after slavery was abolished. They also made sure that our labor and environmental laws are placed under the Commerce Clause, so that our worker and environmental laws have the seal of approval from business.

(Fun fact: did you know that the Constitution didn’t specify how many Justices there could be? It could have been just one!). Find out more here.

* The Commerce Clause – it looks so benign in the Constitution—15 little words that empowers Congress to regulate commerce—but it is one of the most powerful weapons in corporate arsenal. Anything defined as commerce (and everything is defined as commerce, including toxic waste) has been used by corporations and the courts to strip state and municipal governments of lawmaking designed to protect communities and ecosystems from harm. It has been exported around the world to do the same  (see NAFTA). Its powers have quietly grown over the last 100 years. For a great history of the Clause, click here (pages 18-37).

The list goes on and on. But the point is, there isn’t just ONE tool, or two, or even three. The system is designed to be an underground burrow for a never-ending game of Corporate-Whack-A-Mole. You know, the arcade game where you take a big mallet and smack the “mole” when it pops up from its hidey-hole…only to find that once you whack it down, it comes up in another place, faster and faster until you can’t keep up? We can’t stop the moles from popping up; it’s the function of the game.

The point is, if we think the system is broken,  then we could fix it, we could reform it. We could ask our elected leaders to work with us to amend or otherwise throw in some new rules to work out the bugs, and strike down laws that are inconsistent with a functioning democracy.  That makes sense—if it’s merely broken.

But if we find that its not broken at all—but rather working perfectly as the manufacturers designed it— a Constitutional structure that is designed around Property and Commerce (rather than Rights and Democracy) then the time has come to stop playing corporate whack-a-mole, and start taking a step toward something more revolutionary.

We could begin to ask new questions like: what if corporations aren’t the problem at all? Or: If the Supreme Court had never granted “personhood” rights to corporations, would they still be trammeling the rights of citizens and riding roughshod over communities and nature—Would we have democracy?

The revolution for new rules is already here. Its happening at the grassroots. 150+ communities have already begun to challenge the system by writing new laws that place community and ecosystems above corporate profits and they’ve challenged the entire structure of law—right from Main Street, where they  live. These brave communities want real democracy and government in the hands of the people, and they are not afraid to challenge unjust laws that deny their rights and place corporate harms in their midst.

Revolutionaries who fought for Independence from Britain wanted nothing so much as the right to govern themselves locally. They trusted themselves to make critical decisions at the local level on issues that directly affected them.  We could learn a lot from our real founding brothers and sisters. We could join today’s Community Rights rebels across the country, make a nationwide movement that asserts (rather than asks for) our rights.  After all, upholding the rights of the people is the real job of government and just law.

So. Final Jeopardy question:  What are we truly prepared to do to put government in the hands of the people?

For more information on Community Rights visit us here, or call Shannon at 415.575.5540.

In ‘Republic, Lost’ academic and lawyer Lawrence Lessig writes:

…The problem with Congress is not just in appearance. It is real. It is the product of an economy of influence that we have allowed to evolve within our government … That economy systematically draws members away from the focus, or dependance, they were intended to have. That dependance … is corruption. It is the corruption that is our government.

The Occupiers have, and continue to, expose corporate greed and demand an end to the overwhelming influence that money has in our systems – economic, political and even social. On January 17, hundreds gathered on Capitol Hill to welcome members back to Congress after the winter break and decry corporate influence in the government.

On January 20, a mass day of direct action will shut down so-called Wall Street West – the financial core of San Francisco. Over 50 organizations have plans for actions throughout the day to “crack the corporate piggy bank” and target corporate power.

Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Global Exchange, Fellowship of Reconciliation, New Priorities Campaign and others will be present outside the Bechtel headquarters all day, protesting Bechtel’s practice of greed and destruction. Bechtel spends millions on campaign contributions and lobbyists who secure war contracts, undermining democratic process, while directing billions of public dollars to build nuclear weapons and make its CEO a billionaire. Follow the action on twitter at @BechtelAction.

On January 21, the Nationwide Day of Action to “overturn the devastating FEC vs. Citizens United ruling and end corporate rule” – Occupy the Corporations – will call on elected officials to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the two year-old ruling – the impacts of which we have yet to experience in this 2012 election cycle. On this day, across the US, people will stand up and say enough is enough to corporate influence in elections.

But this will not be enough, we’re calling for deep structural changes to our governing systems, including passing laws that place the rights of communities and nature above the claimed “rights” of corporations. Over 150 US communities have already written new rules, refusing to be divided by partisan politics and to staying focused on dismantling corporate rule by taking control of our own structures of government. Rule by the people.

If we can remain united (truly citizens united) in this global revolution it is we — the 99% — that are too big to fail.

A little inspiration? Lessig further states, “…anyone who would resist this system would be a pariah on the Hill. You can just head the dialogue from any number of Hollywood films: ‘We’ve got a good thing going here, Jimmy. Why would you want to go and mess things up?'”

I’ve always thought a little mess made things better.

“When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire.”
–  David Graeber, the Guardian UK
“The White House is talking different because we are walking different.”
– Van Jones, Take Back the American Dream

photo: Paul Stein/Flickr

We know the facts, but seeing them together is staggering: unemployment is firmly mired in the double digits and efforts to bring it down isn’t creating jobs; students leaving college, if they can even afford to go, have debts that would have seemed unimaginable just 15 years ago and when they don’t see any openings in their field they head straight for a McJob or the unemployment line; the climate crisis remains unaddressed by global leaders and the US Congress and President Obama contemplates whether or not to green-light the Keystone XL pipeline; we are heading into the 10th year of war spending (at $3 billion a week!); corporations fought hard to win Citizens United and the ‘right’ to spend unlimited funds to get candidates into office; wealthy men (sometimes brothers) encourage corrupt Governors to end worker protections; and banks and Wall Street continue getting huge bonuses and bail-outs. We know something isn’t working. Enough is enough.

We are 99% of the population and 1% is controlling the show! Enough is enough.

For years, solidarity was presumed to be a one-way street – North Americans supporting liberation struggles around the world — but this year support to those standing up is global and circular.  In Cairo, young people, armed with the courage of their convictions, overthrew the Egyptian government and launched the Arab Spring in Tahrir Square, Egypt.  The power of their non-violent resistance, their ability to stay when it seemed impossible, is the inspiration we must take forward to say enough is enough.

GX co-founder Medea Benjamin checks in from Liberty Plaza.

In Libya, Madrid, Athens, Wisconsin and beyond there is a democratic awakening and it is spreading! Three weeks into the protests at Liberty Plaza on Wall Street, New York and just days before thousands gather at Freedom Plaza in Washington DC, similar demonstrations are erupting in other cities across the United States with the same loosely organized structure. People who have not taken action before are now protesters camped out in Los Angeles near City Hall, near the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and at the Stock Exchange in San Francisco.  They are marching and sitting-in against corporate greed, rampant unemployment, attacks on labor and the environment and the role of big banks in our bad economy. 

In the US alone, other actions are planned for Memphis, Tenn.; Allentown, PA.; Hilo, Hawaii, Detroit; Portland, Ore.; Minneapolis; and Baltimore, as well as in Mason City, Iowa; Mobile, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Santa Fe, N.M.; and McAllen, Tex., according to Occupy Together  the unofficial hub for the protests. Thanks to inspiration from struggles around the globe, these days mark a turning point in the struggle for economic, social and environmental justice in the US.

We, the 99%, demand our voices be heard, we want an end to war and greed, we want to invest in human needs.  It’s that simple. May the spirit of non-violence, the joy of democracy and the inclusion of many voices be our guiding light as we zig-zag forward, empowering protest as an agent to drive political reform. Take action now and go to Wall Street, go to Freedom Square or plan and join non violent occupations in your own town or join the virtual march.

PS. I want to organize with you in our community, please be in touch!

Have you heard about the new film The Story of Citizens United v FEC? Released on March 1, 2011, this film is the latest in a popular series from The Story of Stuff Project featuring Annie Leonard.

From a film promo piece:

The Story of Citizens United v FEC explores the crisis of corporate influence in American democracy and was inspired by the January 2010 Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the right to spend unlimited funds to influence elections.

I’ve watched other films from The Story of Stuff Project. Relate-able Annie Leonard has a seemingly innate ability to deliver the honest truth about complex issues concisely and in an entertaining and informative way. The accompanying animation helps the films’ messaging around deep-rooted systemic problems gently penetrate viewers’ minds without overwhelming them.

The Story of Citizens United v FEC Co-Director Michael O’Heaney had this to say about why they made this movie:

We made the movie because we believe getting corporations out of our democracy is critical to making progress on a huge range of issues that we Americans (and many others) care about, from good jobs to clean air to safe products.

3 Ways to Learn More About Citizens Rights
1) Watch The Story of Citizens United v FEC film here
2) Explore Global Exchange’s Rights Based Organizing work, driving the movement for community rights in California
3) Watch Ben & Jerry in this video speaking about Citizens United:

Have you heard about the new film The Story of Citizens United v FEC storyofcitizensunited.org yet? Released on March 1, 2011, this film is the latest in a popular series from The Story of Stuff Project http://www.storyofstuff.org/ featuring Annie Leonard.

The Story of Citizens United v FEC explores the crisis of corporate influence in American democracy and was inspired by the January 2010 Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the right to spend unlimited funds to influence elections.

I’ve watched a few films from The Story of Stuff Project. Relatable Annie Leonard has a seemingly innate ability to deliver the honest truth about complex issues in an entertaining and informative way. The accompanying animation helps the films’ messaging around deep-rooted systemic problems to penetrate viewers’ minds without overwhelming them.

The Story of Citizens United v FEC, Co-Director Michael O’Heaney had this to say about why they made this movie:

We made the movie because we believe getting corporations out of our democracy is critical to making progress on a huge range of issues that we Americans (and many others) care about, from good jobs to clean air to safe products.

3 Ways to Learn More About Citizens Rights:

1) Find out about The Story of Citizens United v FEC film here: http://storyofstuff.org/citizensunited/about/about-the-movie/.

2) Explore Global Exchange’s Rights Based Organizing work, driving the movement for community rights in California!

http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/greenrights/index.html

3) Watch Ben & Jerry in this video, speaking about Citizens United:

 

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