"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Wall St. Protests’

Newly-Released Documents Confirm Federal Agencies Coordinated Violent Crackdown Occupy Protesters

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Oldspeak:”China violently cracks down on protesters. Iran violently cracks down on protesters. North Korea violently cracks down on protesters. Syria violently cracks down on protesters. The United States violently cracks down on protesters. Ignore the populist rhetoric. The Obama Administration is no friend of the 99%. It has been working actively to quash dissent, restrict protest, and silence whisleblowers. “What these documents are beginning to reveal is also the coordination between federal law enforcement agencies and private corporate entities representing the 1% that wanted to see the Occupy movement removed from public view and shut out of America’s parks.” -Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. This is what inverted totalitarian kleptocracy looks like. Government and corporate interests working in concert to deprive the people of constitutionally guaranteed rights.  At some point we’ll have to awaken to the reality that our beloved country is not that much different from the ones we’re told demonize. “Freedom Is Slavery”

Related Stories

Wikileaks: Internal Report Indicates U.S. Department Of Homeland Security Monitoring Occupy Wall Street Protests

Obama Administration Coordinated Local Police Crackdowns On Occupy Encampments Nationwide

Occupy Wall Street “Counterinsurgency” Has Infiltrated Protests; Seeks To Diffuse Message

FBI To Expand Domestic Surveillance Powers As Details Emerge Of Its Spy Campaign Targeting American Activists

By The Partnership For Civil Justice Fund:

Two days before the NYPD’s eviction of the Occupy Wall Street encampment from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, Brookfield Properties’ security was in direct communications and sharing information with the US Park Police in Washington DC, and communicating with other cities around the country, according to newly released internal documents from the National Park Service.

The documents were released late Friday to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) in response to the civil rights legal group’s FOIA demands to the NPS, FBI, CIA, DHS and other federal law enforcement agencies seeking information about the role of Federal agencies in the coordinated nationwide crackdown that led to the eviction of Occupy encampments in cities throughout the United States. The request was made also on behalf of author and filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee The PCJF is making the documents immediately available for review, and highlighting key initial findings .

“When the PCJF issued this FOIA request we wanted to uncover and expose whether local government and local law enforcement agencies were working in a coordinated way with the federal government to suppress and shut down the Occupy Movement which had inspired the country starting in September, 2011,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “What these documents are beginning to reveal is also the coordination between law enforcement agencies and private corporate entities representing the 1% that wanted to see the Occupy movement removed from public view and shut out of America’s parks.”

These initially released documents show:

  • The private corporate entity Brookfield Properties, which manages Zuccotti Park, had its security agency in communication with cities across the country about police actions designed to evict the Occupy movement and sought information as to Park Police plans to evict in D.C. 48 hours before OWS was evicted.
  • U.S. Park Police were communicating step by step, as they took action in regard to Occupy DC, with the Secret Service, DHS, and other police agencies as well as personnel affiliated with LEO.gov, the FBI’s nationally integrated network and alert system involving all aspects of civilian law enforcement, intelligence agencies and the military. As its website states, “LEO supports the FBI’s ten priorities by providing cost-effective, time-critical national alerts and information sharing to public safety, law enforcement, antiterrorism and intelligence agencies in support of the Global War on Terrorism.”

It is also noteworthy that the DHS has not produced the communications they participated in, in response to FOIA demands, confirming the PCJF’s assertion that the search they have conducted is inadequate. The PCJF has refused to narrow its request to DHS’ initial search and is demanding further disclosure.

More documents are being released to the PCJF. Please click here to be sure that you receive notice as documents become available. To read more about OWS FOIA updates visit www.JusticeOnline.org/ows.

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The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) is a not-for-profit constitutional rights legal and educational organization which, among other things, seeks to ensure constitutional accountability within police practices and government transparency in operations. The PCJF filed the class action suit challenging the NYPD’s October 1 mass arrest of more than 700 protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge. It has brought class action cases in which more than 1,000 persons were falsely arrested during protests in Washington, D.C., resulting in settlements totaling $22 million and major changes in police practices. The PCJF previously brought the successful litigation in New York challenging the 2004 ban on protests in the Great Lawn of Central Park. It is counsel with the National Lawyers Guild in Oakland, CA challenging police mass arrest tactics. It won a unanimous ruling at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals finding the MPD’s unprecedented military-style police checkpoint program unconstitutional. The PCJF previously uncovered and disclosed that the D.C. police employed an unlawful domestic spying and agent provocateur program in which officers were sent on long-term assignments posing as political activists and infiltrated lawful and peaceful groups. For more information go to: www.JusticeOnline.org.

 

 

Arrested For Meditating? Why It’s Radical To Stay Nonviolent In The Face Of State-Sponsored Brutality

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Oldspeak:”Sometimes the most radical thing to do in a polluted violence-based system, is to be still. The mud settles to the bottom and we then have a clearer vision about our next steps. It is time for the spiritual people to get active and the activist people to get spiritual so that we can have total revolution of the human spirit.  We need to combine this inner revolution with the outer revolution to have the total revolution of the spirit. Then you can build the alternatives to a collapsing system built on structural violence -Pancho Ramos-Stierle

By Sarah van Gelder @ YES! Magazine:

Occupy Oakland has been at the forefront of some of Occupy’s most visible actions—a massive general strike on November 2, a shutdown of the Port of Oakland, and attempts to occupy vacant buildings. And it’s become known for the brutality of police actions, especially the case of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, who was hit by a tear-gas canister fired by police and suffered a severe head injury.

It has also been the center of much controversy over tactics—especially the tactics of the Black Bloc. These tactics are turning the San Francisco Bay area public against the Occupy movement, according to a report in the East Bay Express. Anonymous recently accused Black Bloc members of being misguided, harmful, and perhaps agent provocateurs, and threatened those involved in vandalism in a video posted on YouTube: “Consider this an act of diplomacy before we start doxing your asses all over the Internet and paying special attention to personally ruining your lives.”

We turned to Pancho Ramos Stierle for some insights into the question of Occupy tactics. Pancho was arrested Nov. 14 2011, during the police raid on Occupy Oakland, while meditating. Pancho came to the United States from Mexico to study astrophysics in the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley, but left the program out of opposition to the university’s research related to nuclear weapons development.

We talked to him about police violence in Oakland, his own arrest, deportations, and, especially, his insights into the controversies over tactics in the Occupy movement.

Sarah van Gelder: Could you tell the story of what happened the night that the Oakland site was raided by the police and you were arrested?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Since the Occupy movement started, we’ve been seeing the Oakland police escalating their violence.

The first raid happened early in the morning, and the city of Oakland spent $2 million on rubber bullets, tear gas, and helicopters to repress people who were peacefully gathering. In the same two days not one or two but five elementary schools were closed. Today, you can see an elementary school that has been converted into a police station here in Oakland.

I’m telling you this to set the tone for what happened the day we were arrested.

We knew the city of Oakland was bringing police from all around and they were staying in the Coliseum, which is one mile from here.

So we said, okay, if they want to escalate their violence, how do we escalate our nonviolence? On the night before the raid, we heard the helicopters and the hundreds of police that were descending on the Oakland downtown. So at 3:30 a.m., we bicycled to the Ogawa-Grant Plaza. We wanted to set a tone of positive energy and also to claim the space.

We’d been meditating and doing yoga in public parks for the last eight months because we want to let people know that these spaces are our spaces. We want to bring calmness and a different energy.

So if you have the riot police coming with tear gas and pepper spray and all their weapons, we have a more powerful weapon, courage and stillness—it’s kindness, it’s compassion, it’s generosity, it’s the small things, but when you add them up that makes a pretty strong army.

So we sat in receptive silence from 3:30 a.m. to the time when we were arrested around 6 a.m.

Sarah van Gelder: So what happened during the actual arrest?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: On Mondays we practice silence, and the police officer who arrested us thought that we were deaf because we were not speaking. So he got a notebook and a pen. It was very considerate of him, and I could feel his energy shift a little, and so when he gave me the notebook I wrote, “On Mondays, I practice silence, but I would like you to hear that I love you.”

When he read that, he had this big smile and looked me in the eye and he said, “Thank you. But, well, if you don’t move, you’re going to be arrested. Are you moving or not?”

So I wrote back, “I am meditating.” He said, “OK, arrest them one by one.”

That was one of my favorite moments from the whole ordeal.

Sarah van Gelder: Who else was sitting with you?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: My housemate Adelaja. We are also now on a mission to bring together people with different skin colors. He’s a six foot five beautiful brother with black skin, and I have brown skin, and we have another brother here with white skin, so we’re trying to be together.

Sarah van Gelder: Tell me about your experience in prison. Were you able to keep your nonviolent witness going while you were behind bars?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Before being in jail, it was hard for me to understand what Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi meant when they said that prisons are the temples of freedom. It’s clear that they can do many things to your body and try to oppress you and use psychological violence. But there’s something so strong inside each of us, the human spirit, that they can not reach. They can put you in shackles and cold cement cells, and feed you horrible food, and put you in solitary confinement, but there’s no way that they can reach the human spirit.

That was powerful—to find once again that that part is sacred. I think that was the only thing that kept me sane and healthy in that very dehumanizing environment.

That’s what I would like to share with people—that it is time for the spiritual people to get active and the activist people to get spiritual so that we can have total revolution of the human spirit. Because we have the idea that the self-indulgent people are just meditating—they are going to caves and meditation centers while all this madness is happening, or you have people at these meditation center that are asking how can you bring peace and calm and harmony to the world if you do not have that in your heart?

I think that we need both now, and that we need to combine this inner revolution with the outer revolution to have the total revolution of the spirit.

Then you can build the alternatives to a collapsing system built on structural violence.

I believe that nine out of ten actions must be creating the community that we want to live in—we’re talking about permaculture, independent media, restorative justice, gift economies, free currencies, and preventive medicine. By doing all that, we make ourselves stronger.

If you are creating true alternatives to the collapsing, rotten system then you will naturally come into conflict with the power structure. Then the political action becomes necessary. So I think one out of ten actions should be obstructive—that is boycotts and protests and marches and nonviolent civil disobedience.

But when we cultivate inner awareness, it’s easy to see that what we need to do is spend most of our time creating the communities that we want to live in.

Sarah van Gelder: Can you give me an example of how that plays out in movements for change?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Gandhi showed us that the spinning wheel—part of the constructive program—was the center of the movement for the independence of the part of the planet we call India.

At the time, the part of the planet we call India was selling cotton to the part of the planet we call England and buying back clothes. Gandhi figured out that if they started making their own clothes, then they could become self reliant, autonomous, and every single person could get plugged into this—women, men, elderly people, young people—social status really doesn’t matter. So that created the foundation of a national movement.

And once they had the alternative, they had bonfires with British clothing, and he said every person needs to spend at least one hour a day in the chain of creating your own clothing.

Well now, a hundred years later, many of us believe that Gandhi’s spinning wheel of the 21st century is healthy and local food. Many of us believe healthy and local food is the foundation of social justice, and anyone can get plugged in, from compost to planting, watering the crops to going to the farmers market to cooking healthy food or just eating it or washing dishes anyone can spend an hour a day— men, women, doesn’t matter social strata can get plugged into this chain.

Once we have that constructive program, when we’re solid in that, we can confront the pollution- and violence-based system more effectively. But we also need an inner “spinning wheel,” so we must spend a couple of hours each day in receptive silence—any silent spiritual practice that brings awareness and equanimity to our hearts and minds—and put the inner revolution and the outer revolution together. Then we will be more than ready to make a bonfire out of passports, visas, and the devastating genetically modified Monsanto seeds.

Sarah van Gelder: What do you say to Occupiers trying to negotiate differences in views about nonviolence?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: Stop negotiating and start embodying the principles you believe in.

Sometimes the most radical thing to do in a polluted violence-based system, is to be still. The mud settles to the bottom and we then have a clearer vision about our next steps—for example, facilitating the growth of the communities we want to live in or realizing that the most efficient tools against a system based on greed, fear, hurry, and violence, are generosity, courage, slowing-down, and loving-kindness.

When the puzzle gets complicated, I always remember: our means are our ends in the making.

To all occupiers and fellow satyagrahis I say: Liberate ourselves from the shackles of wage slavery. Liberate our minds and hearts from the oppression of colonialism. Let’s occupy our beings with courage and loving-kindness.

Sarah van Gelder: What should people know about Occupy Oakland, which has been confronted with some of the most police violence in the U.S., but has also had groups engage in property damage?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: “Occupy Oakland” has been happening for many decades.

Most of the people with black and brown skin have been surviving the historical pain of racism and oppression for generations. When you have “food deserts”—perhaps a better description is “food apartheids”—and “liquor store forests” in Oakland, what can we expect? When police kill young fathers with impunity—like Oscar Grant—and harass hard-working, honest people—like migrants; when gangsters terrorize the community with shootings; when the corporate media broadcasts fear as much as they can; when the city of Oakland converts an elementary school into a police station, is there a clearer picture that this system is flawed?

Violence is only a manifestation of a deep conflict. Violence is an expression of pain. It is a monologue offered by gangs, including the police—the most organized gang defending the interests of a few.

The Native American peoples have been saying for centuries, “Beware what’s happening to us because it could happen to you.” Well, now people of black, brown, and white skin are experiencing it. It is the 99 percent.

The tear gas canister that fractured the skull of brother Scott Olsen—an Iraq veteran with white skin—wasn’t a random shot by a police officer targeting the body of the 24-year-old defiant veteran. It was a choice made by the state to impose, with violence, submission on movements that resist their decisions. A choice to threaten all of those who want to resist arrangements that suppress issues like meaningful livelihood, public health, security, housing, and public learning.

In these so called “democracies” of today, state sovereignty takes the police form. There are police operations against all kind of “enemies.” In these operations, not only the social movements are criminalized, but also whole categories of citizens, entire communities, and even ethnic groups.

The ultimate healing will come when we all stop cooperating with the rotten system and when we start understanding that we are the 99 percent facilitating the healing of the 100 percent, one heart at a time.

If we disobey with compassion and love in our hearts and minds, if we spend 90 percent of our energy creating the alternatives of a just, free, and liberated world, we will discover the joy to rebel against an imposed fear. We will be free from modern poverty and its two kinds of slaves: the intoxicated—the prisoners to the addiction of consumption, and those who aspire to get intoxicated—the prisoners of envy. It will be clear that our misery isn’t caused by the siblings in corporations or most of the police officers or the army, but by our obedience to a flawed rule.

We ourselves must be strengthened and changed, for we have to experience an inner independence even before the corporations, police states, and governments grant the outward one.

Sarah van Gelder: What comes next for you? You’ve been arrested and the fact that you are in the United States without documents has become very public. What will you do now?

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. We as citizens of the world don’t need silly papers and visas and passports—these are things that are totally new in the human consciousness. We paint imaginary lines in the dirt, and we need to erase those soon. So it really doesn’t matter if I am here or if I am in the part of the planet we call Mexico. We really need to step up as citizens of the world.

For example, right here in California the University of California is still involved in the development of nuclear weapons. So as citizens of the world we need to do everything within our reach to stop that madness.

You can not deport the Milky Way from the sky; you cannot deport the Sun. If they send me to another part of this planet, great! I’ll keep working. What’s going to happen if I’m in Oaxaca or Chiapas or somewhere else in the part of the planet we call Mexico, I have no idea, sister, but I know that I’m going to keep trying to bring this message that the Earth is but one country and all living beings its citizens.

When I was in the detention center, there were 42 people in a very tiny space — like two people per square meter. And I met this man, this dad who has been working for 15 years in construction in Oakland, and he has a nine year-old and a five year-old, and he was going to be deported because he didn’t have documents. So when you look into the eyes of that brother or talk to his children, there’s no way that you cannot do something.

Sarah van Gelder: I was at your arraignment hearing in Oakland and I saw so many people there who loved you so much.

Pancho Ramos-Stierle: I’m happy you were able to witness—and you know what this is, sister Sarah? We are the early adopters of a revolution of values, and we are the evidence that the totalitarianism of corporate capitalism—the machine that has devastated the planet and human beings—we are the demonstration that system doesn’t work and that we need a new system.

Our movement is trying to give birth and move from scarcity to abundance, from transaction to trust, from consumption to contribution, from isolation to community, from perfection to wholeness, from terror to fearlessness, from violence to courage and respect and love, and this is the key.

The emergence of the new paradigm and our victory is not putting people in power but power in people.

Sarah van Gelder is Executive Editor of YES! Magazine where you can read her blog.

© 2012 YES! Magazine All rights reserved.

Wikileaks: Internal Report Indicates U.S. Department Of Homeland Security Monitoring Occupy Wall Street Protests

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Oldspeak:” ‘The internal DHS report emphasizes the need to “control protesters”, They talk about threats to ‘critical infrastructure’ and this fear that these protests are going to…make commerce difficult and people are going to start losing money. There is a kind of bottom line in analysis to what they’re talking about. There isn’t an emphasis on public safety in a way one would expect from a department that’s supposed to protect the homeland. It’s this sort of sense that they’re protecting somebody’s homeland, and they’re the folks who generally make all the money.Michael Hastings COINTELPRO lives on. New Department, same ole shit. Still more evidence that your government does not represent you. It represents those folks who ‘generally make all the money.’ The financial services, and myriad of other anational corporations who gamble with other people’s money, homes and livelihoods; they profit  handsomely as billions of others struggle with debt, poverty, hunger, sickness, homelessness and joblessness. The vast majority of Americans are de-politicized, minimally informed & apathetic, with has paved the way for replacement of often heralded democratic ideals with inverted totalitarianism. Democracy has been subverted by men with million-dollar smiles, and the unwitting masses clamoring for more divestment from their liberties. “

Related Stories:

Obama Administration Coordinated Local Police Crackdowns On Occupy Encampments Nationwide

Occupy Wall Street “Counterinsurgency” Has Infiltrated Protests; Seeks To Diffuse Message

FBI To Expand Domestic Surveillance Powers As Details Emerge Of Its Spy Campaign Targeting American Activists

By Allison Kilkenny @ In These Times:

Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings last night posted a story on an internal DHS report entitled “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street,” dated October of last year. The five-page report, part of five million newly leaked documents obtained by Wikileaks, sums up the history of the movement and assesses its “impact” on the financial services and government facilities.

In an interview on Citizen Radio, Hastings talked about the monitoring by DHS and also the leaked emails from Stratfor, a leading private intelligence firm Hastings describes as the “shadow CIA.”

The process of combing through the huge amount of leaked documents has only just begun, but Hastings considers the revelation that the government was keeping tabs on OWS to be the biggest news so far to come out of the latest dump.

The monitoring, or spying (depending on how generous one is feeling), process included DHS scouring OWS-related Twitter feeds.

“[DHS] was following all of the social networking activity that was going on among Occupy Wall Street,” says Hastings. “Now, I’m sure this is going to be spun tomorrow as this continues to grow that, oh, it’s just benign, DHS just used open source material to do this, and that’s true, but the question is: why is a large government bureaucracy who’s mandated to protect the homeland…monitoring very closely a peaceful political protest movement? They’re not monitoring the Democratic National Committee, they’re not monitoring Young Republican meetings. They’re monitoring Occupy Wall Street.”

The report emphasizes the need to “control protesters,” terminology Hastings finds troubling, along with DHS’s assertion that OWS will likely become more violent. Hastings calls that prediction “quite a leap,” as there is no evidence so far that the overwhelmingly peaceful movement is prone to become violent.

“[The report] names all the sort of groups [DHS is] worried about, one being Anonymous, this hacktivist group, but it also names the other people in Occupy Wall Street: labor unions, student groups,” Hastings says.

One might expect to read some hand-wringing over public safety concerns in a government document, and yet the DHS document appears to be more concerned with protecting the mechanisms of the financial sector than in ensuring the safety of citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

“They talk about threats to ‘critical infrastructure’ and this fear that these protests are going to…make commerce difficult and people are going to start losing money. There is a kind of bottom line in analysis to what they’re talking about. There isn’t an emphasis on public safety in a way one would expect from a department that’s supposed to protect the homeland. It’s this sort of sense that they’re protecting somebody’s homeland, and they’re the folks who generally make all the money.”

This same business-over-people bias is present in the second major leak involving the Stratfor emails. “When you go look at the back-and-forth, it’s all about, well, we have to protect lower Manhattan so the bankers can get to work on time.”

Hastings talks about two troubling tracks: In the DHS case, the U.S. government monitoring activist groups, and in the Stratfor case, large corporations paying a private intelligence firm to monitor other activist groups.

Dow Chemicals had Stratfor analyze the activities of Bhopal activists such as the Yes Men, who famously pranked the company by impersonating a Dow Chemical executive and publicly apologizing on the BBC for the Bhopal disaster that killed 8,000 people.

The list of Stratfor’s corporate clients is an impressive one, including Dow Chemicals and Coca-Cola. Clients are willing to pay the firm $40,000 for a subscription to Stratfor’s services (and additional huge sums of money for more services,) because the company bills itself as a private CIA, privy to high-level intelligence access.

“You have the DOW Chemicals situation, you have Coca-Cola hiring Stratfor to go after animal rights activists, to sort of keep tabs on them, and then also the question is: why would Stratfor have this Department of Homeland Security document, right? And the answer to that is Stratfor’s clients, or clearly Stratfor saw a business opportunity in keeping track, and figuring out how to handle protesters. In fact, in the email record…they’re talking about different tactics in lower Manhattan about, well, the streets are narrow down there, so if they push the protesters this way, or that way, that’s a better way to catch them. They’re drilling down into the best ways to kind of protect the financial services who are some of their clients.”

On Jan. 26, 2011, Fred Burton, the vice president of Stratfor, fired off an excited email to his colleagues: “Text Not for Pub. We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”

The question was: who did Burton mean by “we”?

“It’s like the Big Lebowski, right? The royal We,” says Hastings.

What Burton meant by “we” was the U.S. government.

“We know that the Department of Justice had been investigating Assange, and playing this game of oftentimes not explicitly saying what they were doing, but sort of threatening they would be doing this espionage investigation. We know that they’ve interviewed people in a grand jury, and then a few weeks ago with the Bradley Manning pre-trial that they were actually trying to make this espionage case against Assange,” says Hastings. “Burton claims that there in fact a secret U.S. indictment against Assange related, essentially, to espionage. That’s pretty big news.”

Hastings is braced for all of the typically condescending and dismissive remarks to come rolling in from the beltway in the wake of these latest leaks. In fact, the derision has already begun. One editor at The Atlantic called Wikileaks “a joke,” and dismissed the Stratfor emails out of hand.

Hastings expects others to say there’s no difference between a private intelligence firm and a newspaper or news bureau.

“I think that’s totally wrong. Journalists have sources and informants, but also our mission is to share that information with the public so the citizenry can make more informed decisions. Stratfor’s mission is to gather information so it can sell it to the highest bidder so corporations can essentially make more profit and get a competitive edge on their opponents,” he says.

That kind of knee-jerk dismissiveness strikes of bad journalism, according to Hastings. While no cheerleader for Wikileaks – during the interview, Hastings admitted there’s a lot of stuff one can criticize Wikileaks about, particularly the practice of releasing large amounts of data that hasn’t been reviewed very carefully – he still finds the overall work done by the group extremely newsworthy.

“What news organization has had a bigger impact than Wikileaks? Iraq war logs, Afghan war logs, the Cablegate. These are important stories. This is news. DHS was monitoring Occupy Wall Street. That’s a story, and it’s a significant story. We’re talking about Occupy Wall Street: one of the biggest grassroots, political movements that we’ve seen in a generation and the government’s response to that.”

One of the most worrying aspects to the Stratfor story is the privatizing of yet another typically goverment-only function. Like Blackwater, here is another shadowy private agency doing the work usually done by the U.S. government, a recipe, as we’ve learned time and time again, for unaccountability and disaster.

Also, Stratfor is ripe for the revolving door effect.

“It’s a chance for people who worked in government in these various intelligence agencies to, once they leave, to have lucrative positions where they’re able to — in the same way some politicians become lobbyists to ply off their old contacts — to have these great, well-paying positions where they can use their former intelligence contacts and sell their services in the corporate world,” says Hastings.

To naysayers claiming there’s nothing wrong with former government officials capitalizing on their particular skill sets, Hastings responds, “Once you start spying on activists, and peaceful protesters, then I would say that’s very troubling.”

Police, Occupy Protestors Clash In Oakland: 400 Arrests, Tear Gas, Flash-Bang Grenades Used

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Oldspeak:” In a police state, heavily armored & militarized storm troopers systematically and repeatedly violate their own crowd control guidelines & respond to dissent and protest with disproportionate, excessive and unauthorized levels of violence to ‘pacify’ largely peaceful and unarmed protestors.

Related Video:

Occupy Oakland video: Police use flashbangs & tear-gas against protesters

By Joshua Holland @ Alter Net:

Downtown Oakland turned ugly once again on Saturday, as Occupy activists attempting to squat in a long-abandoned city building were met by lines of heavily armored riot police. Police officials said that 400 arrests followed – a number that may represent as much as 30 percent of everyone who participated in the day’s actions, according to police estimates of the crowd’s size.

Occupy Oakland organizers said some protesters were hospitalized, but the exact number of injuries is unknown as if this writing. According to organizers, four journalists were swept up by police, including AlterNet contributor Susie Cagle and Mother Jones correspondent Gavin Aronsen. Cagle was reportedly cited and released; organizers say Aronsen was jailed overnight (update: Aronsen tells us that he was released last night).

It was, once again, a tale of two protests. Accounts in the corporate media relied primarily on police statements to paint protesters as wild animals running amok in the city, while those following the day’s events via a small group of “citizen-journalists” broadcasting raw, unedited footage from their cell-phones and flip-cams got a wildly divergent view of exactly how things escalated.

A livestream offered by Occupy Oakland’s Mark Mason and Chris Krakauer showed protesters approaching the Henry Kaiser Convention Center in the early afternoon, where they were greeted by skirmish lines of police clad in riot gear. At one point, Mason, narrating as he moved through the crowd, could be heard saying, “uh-oh, some people are throwing things at the cops,” before moving away from the front-lines. Later, an Occupier visiting from Los Angeles told Mason of confronting one of the protesters who had thrown an object at police. “That’s just stupid, you know,” said the young woman. “And she threw it from the middle of the crowd, which just puts people in the front in danger.”

Police declared the protest an unlawful assembly, and soon afterward, a series of explosions could be heard on the livestream as police deployed either teargas canisters or “flash-bang” grenades to disperse the crowd. This appears to be a violation of the Oakland Police Department’s (OPD) own crowd-control guidelines, which were drawn up as part of a settlement of a 2003 suit filed by the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU of Northern California after a case in which OPD used an abundance of violence against peaceful protesters demonstrating against the invasion of Iraq.

The guidelines state that less-lethal munitions “may never be used indiscriminately against a crowd or group of persons, even if some members of the crowd or group are violent or disruptive.”

“Bean-bag” shotgun rounds and/or rubber-coated steel bullets were also used by police, according to official reports. But OPD may only use less-lethal projectiles against an individual who poses an imminent threat and, even then, the guidelines prohibit their use except when such an “individual can be targeted without endangering other crowd members or bystanders.”

The Associated Press quoted City Administrator Deanna Santana saying that police “responded” to object being thrown “by deploying smoke, tear gas and bean bag rounds.” “These demonstrators stated their intention was to provoke officers and engage in illegal activity and that’s exactly what has occurred today.”

But OPD’s large-scale use of force against the mostly peaceful crowd visibly escalated the tension. “There are fucking kids here!” one activist could be heard shouting on Mark Mason’s livestream. “What’s wrong with you fucking people?” It was soon after the explosions that protesters began chanting “fuck the pigs!”

Soon after this initial confrontation, the Occupiers retreated back to Frank Ogawa Plaza, which served as the location for their encampment – a tent city that Oakland officials cleared twice last fall. One organizer complimented the majority of activists for remaining peaceful throughout the clash. “Today was the most disciplined I’ve ever seen Occupy Oakland,” he said.

The Occupiers, after regrouping, then set off for a second march. Their intended destination was unclear, as police immediately began “herding” protesters – in Mason’s words – towards a small plaza at the intersection of 19th and Rashida Muhammad Street, where they attempted to “kettle” several hundred protesters. It’s unclear why the attempt failed, but protesters evaded the trap and continued on until they reached Broadway and 23rd street, where OPD succeeded in boxing them in. Several protesters ran through the Downtown YMCA building seeking to escape arrest, according to live-streamer Spencer Mills. It was here that the majority of arrests took place.

Mills said that no dispersal order was given at the location; police told him that several had been issued along the route. But the OPD manual states that, “If after a crowd disperses pursuant to a declaration of unlawful assembly and subsequently participants assemble at a different geographic location where the participants are engaged in non-violent and lawful First Amendment activity, such an assembly cannot be dispersed unless it has been determined that it is an unlawful assembly and the required official declaration has been adequately given.”

Protesters, including peaceful protesters, weren’t given an opportunity to disperse. OPD’s crowd control manual states that an order to disperse, “shall also specify adequate egress or escape routes. Whenever possible, a minimum of two escape/egress routes shall be identified and announced.”

While the main body of protesters were being “herded” by OPD and eventually kettled at 23rd street, a smaller group broke into City Hall, where “they burned flags, broke an electrical box and damaged several art structures,” according to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan speaking at a press conference. Quan, blaming a small “very radical, violent” splinter group for the mayhem, called on the Occupy movement to “stop using Oakland as its playground.”

“People in the community and people in the Occupy movement have to stop making excuses for this behavior,” she said.

But Michael Davis, a visitor from Occupy Cincinnati, told the Associated Press that a day of action which began peacefully escalated when police began using “flash bangs, tear gas, smoke grenades and bean bags,” in apparent violation of OPD policy.

The chronology is important to get right. By definition, protesters feel angry and aggrieved, and when force is applied indiscriminately on a crowd – and not directed at a handful of people seeking confrontation – it ratchets up the tension to a point where more confrontations become almost inevitable.

We’ve seen that sequence of events unfold repeatedly in Oakland. In November, AlterNet spoke with Linda Lye, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, about a suit the group had filed attempting to compel OPD to follow its own crowd control policies. “Crowds of protesters are heterogenous,” she said. “They simply cannot deploy these weapons against a whole group of people because a few of them throw some objects.”

“The crowd control policy represents OPD’s view of best practices,” Lye continued. “Generally, the issue with excessive force cases is whether the force applied was reasonable under the circumstances, and law enforcement will often argue, ‘well, we needed to apply the force in a given circumstance because it was necessary to achieve our legitimate law enforcement goals.’ Here, when OPD is systematically violating specific provisions in its own crowd control policy, there can be no argument that they need to do this, because the guidelines already represent what OPD thinks is reasonable in these circumstances.”

The lawsuit filed by ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild is pending. In the meantime, relations between the community, police and city officials, and the Occupiers continue to be strained by the police violence and protester vandalism that have plagued so many actions over the past six months in Oakland.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

 

 

Obama Administration Coordinated Local Police Crackdowns On Occupy Encampments Nationwide

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Oldspeak:“Why is President Obama who ostensibly has expressed understanding and sympathy for Occupy protests, instead surreptitiously allowing federal law enforcement agencies to assist, advise, coordinate and plan tactics to raid and break up Occupy encampments? I wondered why all these ‘crackdowns’ happened in much the same militarized way, around the same day, around the same time in the dead of night in 18 cities.  ‘According to one Justice Department official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies. In several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.”  Given this information, we have to ask ourselves, in the ‘land of the free'; WHY? Why the Gestapo-like tactics? Why the hyper-militarized and violent responses to non-violent civil disobedience? Why the suppression of freedoms of assembly, press and speech? More change I can’t believe in.

Related Stories:

200 Arrested @ NYPD Crackdown On Occupy Wall Street: Zuccotti Park edia Blackout, Pepper Spray, Sound Cannons, Batons Raided Under MUsed, Tents Cleared

Occupy Wall Street “Counterinsurgency” Has Infiltrated Protests; Seeks To Diffuse Message

Related Video:

Michael Moore Connects The Federal Government To Occupy Raids

By Rick Ellis @ The Minniapolis Examiner:

Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.

According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

The FBI has so far failed to respond to requests for an official response, and of the 14 local police agencies contacted in the past 24 hours, all have declined to respond to questions on this issue.

But in a recent interview with the BBC,” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan mentioned she was on a conference call just before the recent wave of crackdowns began.

“I was recently on a conference call of 18 cities who had the same situation, where what had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment that was no longer in control of the people who started them.”

At the time this story was updated, Mayor Quan’s office had declined to discuss her comments.

UPDATE: Thursday, 11:30 a.m. CT Two civil rights legal groups have filed a comprehensive Freedom of Information request for any and all communications between federal law enforcement agencies and local police that are related to the “Occupy” protests.

UPDATE: Thursday, 10:15 a.m. CT. I was finally able to get an official response from the Dept. of Homeland Security, although it didn’ address many of my questions. I was also able to speak with several high-ranking DHS officials on background and deep background, which helped answer a few logistical questions (for instance, the role of the department’s Federal Protective Service).

UPDATE: Wednesday, 12:45 p.m. CT.
 Speaking of Homeland Security, the department’s Federal Protective Service (which is tasked with protecting federal buildings) has been spotted at a couple of ‘Occupy’ crackdowns, including one in Portland.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 11:15 a.m. CT. Here are a couple of relevant links that are related to this story.

Filmmaker Michael Moore was on “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” last night talking about this very issue. Click here to see the video.

The Associated Press has published a great piece on another set of conference calls about strategy,  these organized by the Police Executive Research Forum.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 10:10 am CT. I’m working on at least one new story for today, but I wanted to try and clear up a couple of questions I’ve gotten since this original story posted yesterday.

I have a hunch that Mayor Quan might have been referring to a conference call between a number of U.S. mayors in her interview, not one with law enforcement officials. But that’s just a hunch on my part, since her office has so far declined to offer any explanation of her comments to me.

My original source for the story (who still works at the Justice Dept.) stands behind the original story and we’re working to flesh it out in more detail today. I also have some other aspects of the story I’m working on as well.

I’ll post a link to my next story here or if you want to be automatically notified, subscribe to my feed here.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at rellisfall@gmail.com


Revealed: The Transnational Corporate Network That Runs The World.

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue (Image: PLoS One)

Oldspeak:”1318 Multinational Corporations control 80% of global operating revenue. Of those 1318 an even smaller network of 147 super-connected corporations; less than 1% of all 43,060 transnational corporations control 40% of global operating revenue. The top 50 are banking and finance corporations. In short: A small International Banking Cartel controls a large majority of the global economic system. They are highly invested in maintaining the current economic network. They’ve bought and paid for political systems worldwide to achieve that end. What does that mean for the billions of people, animals and ecosystems that aren’t linkedin to this highly concentrated network? If recent history is any teacher one understands that this cabal doesn’t represent the interests of the vast majority of people on this planet. Their interest in only enriching themselves, usually at the expense of others. They fashioned as system that makes this anti-social, anti-human behavior acceptable, and emulated as model of ‘success’. This system is clearly unsustainable. It is essentially global fiefdom. The people of the world are beginning to see this.  This cabal will do everything in its power to maintain the current system. It has to change. It’s become clear we can’t rely on the political class to enact change. Real change will only come from the people. If recent event are any indication, change is coming.”

By Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie @ New Scientist:

AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).

“Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it’s conspiracy theories or free-market,” says James Glattfelder. “Our analysis is reality-based.”

Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world’s economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy – whether it made it more or less stable, for instance.

The Zurich team can. From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

John Driffill of the University of London, a macroeconomics expert, says the value of the analysis is not just to see if a small number of people controls the global economy, but rather its insights into economic stability.

Concentration of power is not good or bad in itself, says the Zurich team, but the core’s tight interconnections could be. As the world learned in 2008, such networks are unstable. “If one [company] suffers distress,” says Glattfelder, “this propagates.”

“It’s disconcerting to see how connected things really are,” agrees George Sugihara of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, a complex systems expert who has advised Deutsche Bank.

Yaneer Bar-Yam, head of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), warns that the analysis assumes ownership equates to control, which is not always true. Most company shares are held by fund managers who may or may not control what the companies they part-own actually do. The impact of this on the system’s behaviour, he says, requires more analysis.

Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Bar-Yam says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk.

One thing won’t chime with some of the protesters’ claims: the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. “Such structures are common in nature,” says Sugihara.

Newcomers to any network connect preferentially to highly connected members. TNCs buy shares in each other for business reasons, not for world domination. If connectedness clusters, so does wealth, says Dan Braha of NECSI: in similar models, money flows towards the most highly connected members. The Zurich study, says Sugihara, “is strong evidence that simple rules governing TNCs give rise spontaneously to highly connected groups”. Or as Braha puts it: “The Occupy Wall Street claim that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy.”

So, the super-entity may not result from conspiracy. The real question, says the Zurich team, is whether it can exert concerted political power. Driffill feels 147 is too many to sustain collusion. Braha suspects they will compete in the market but act together on common interests. Resisting changes to the network structure may be one such common interest.

The top 50 of the 147 superconnected companies

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc
27. Invesco plc
28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company
31. Aviva plc
32. Schroders plc
33. Dodge & Cox
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc*
35. Sun Life Financial Inc
36. Standard Life plc
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc
39. The Depository Trust Company
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan
45. Vereniging Aegon
46. BNP Paribas
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc
48. Resona Holdings Inc
49. Capital Group International Inc
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

* Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used

 

Government Accountability Office Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Numerous Intimate Ties To Financial Industry; Disturbing Conflicts Of Interest

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Oldspeak:“More evidence that corporatocray has replaced democracy in the U.S. Your government and economy is owned and operated a couple hundred mostly white men; private international bankers and corporate CEOs. While corporate media tries to divert attention to meaningless political melodrama and co-opt the message of  anti-corporate movements like occupy wall street, we are seeing the root causes of our societal, political and financial collapse. Greed, illegality, immorality, cronyism, among a small group of men, shrouded in a veil of secrecy. We see that the Federal Reserve is about as federal as Federal Express. It is in reality a giant private bank, whose purpose is to finance and backstop a select few casino capitalists. Corporate officers and bankers sit on its board, while employed by the companies to which they direct billions, at the same time profiting from the flagrantly irresponsible and dangerous business decisions which benefit the select few and devastate the vast majority. This is why people feel compelled to occupy wall street. People are beginning to see that the small secretive cabal of globalists have grown more and more brazen in their flouting of the law. Their amorality and fundamental disrespect for human dignity is too severe to ignore any longer with billions debt-ladden, starving, homeless, sick, marginalized and leading lives of misery and despair.  Their systems of governance, politics, business and finance are on the verge of crashing the world. Take heart though. The tide of resistance to their ecocidally insane tyranny is rising. When it crests, it will be a beautiful thing.”

By Senator Bernie Sanders @ Bernie Sanders:

As a result of an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Government Accountability Office completed its second audit of the Federal Reserve. This report focuses on the enormous conflicts of interest that existed at the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
Here is what the GAO found:

  •  The affiliations of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors with financial firms continue to pose “reputational risks” to the Federal Reserve System.
  • The policy of the Federal Reserve to give members of the banking industry the power to both elect and serve on the Federal Reserve’s board of directors creates “an appearance of a conflict of interest.”
  •  The GAO identified 18 former and current members of the Federal Reserve’s board affiliated with banks and companies that received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis including General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers.
  •  There are no restrictions on directors of the Federal Reserve Board from communicating concerns about their respective banks to the staff of the Federal Reserve.
  •  Many of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors own stock or work directly for banks that are supervised and regulated by the Federal Reserve. These board members oversee the Federal Reserve’s operations including salary and personnel decisions.
  •  Under current regulations, Fed directors who are employed by the banking industry or own stock in financial institutions can participate in decisions involving how much interest to charge to financial institutions receiving Fed loans; and the approval or disapproval of Federal Reserve credit to healthy banks and banks in “hazardous” condition.
  •  The Federal Reserve does not publicly disclose its conflict of interest regulations or when it grants waivers to its conflict of interest regulations.
  •  21 members of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors were involved in making personnel decisions in the division of supervision and regulation at the Fed.

The GAO included several instances of specific individuals whose membership on the Fed’s board of directors created the appearance of a conflict of interest including:
Stephen Friedman, the former chairman of the New York Fed’s board of directors

During the end of 2008, the New York Fed approved an application from Goldman Sachs to become a bank holding company giving it access to cheap loans from the Federal Reserve. During this time period, Stephen Friedman, the Chairman of the New York Fed, sat on the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs, and owned shares in Goldman’s stock, something that was prohibited by the Federal Reserve’s conflict of interest regulations. Mr. Friedman received a waiver from the Fed’s conflict of interest rules in late 2008. This waiver was not publically disclosed. After Mr. Friedman received this waiver, he continued to purchase stock in Goldman from November 2008 through January of 2009. According to the GAO, the Federal Reserve did not know that Mr. Friedman continued to purchases Goldman’s stock after his waiver was granted.
Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, and board director at the New York Fed

The GAO found that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York consulted with General Electric on the creation of the Commercial Paper Funding Facility established during the financial crisis. The Fed later provided $16 billion in financing to General Electric under this emergency lending program. This occurred while Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, served as a director on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase and board director at the New York Federal Reserve

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the same time that his bank received emergency loans from the Fed and while his bank was used by the Fed as a clearinghouse for the Fed’s emergency lending programs.

In March of 2008, the Fed provided JP Morgan Chase with $29 billion in financing to acquire Bear Stearns. During this time period, Jamie Dimon was successful in getting the Fed to provide JP Morgan Chase with an 18-month exemption from risk-based leverage and capital requirements. Dimon also convinced the Fed to take risky mortgage-related assets off of Bear Stearns balance sheet before JP Morgan Chase acquired this troubled investment bank.

Other central banks do a much better job than the Fed in mitigating conflicts of interest.

The GAO found that compared with central banks in other countries, the Federal Reserve does not do a good job in disclosing potential conflicts of interest and other important transparency issues. The GAO found that such transparency is “essential to the effective and credible functioning of a healthy democracy” and fulfilling the government’s responsibility to citizens and taxpayers.
For example, the central bank in Australia prohibits its directors from working for or having a material financial interest in private financial companies located in its country. If such regulations were in place at the Fed, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase and many other bank executives would be prohibited from serving on the Fed’s board of directors.

The central bank in Canada requires its directors to disclose any potential conflicts of interest as soon as they are discovered; avoid or withdraw from participation in any real, potential, or apparent conflicts of interest; and cannot vote on any matters in which there is a conflict of interest. If these regulations existed at the Fed, Stephen Friedman would have been required to immediately resign from Goldman’s board, sell his Goldman stock, or resign from the Fed’s board of directors. Instead, Mr. Friedman was allowed to financially benefit from the increase in Goldman’s stock while it received approval from the Fed to become a bank holding company and received billions in emergency Fed loans.

The central bank in Canada also prohibits its directors from having affiliations with entities that perform clearing and settlement responsibilities in the financial services industry or serve as dealers in government securities. The Fed does not. These regulations would have prevented both Friedman and Dimon from serving on the Fed’s board of directors.

The directors of central banks in Australia, Canada, England and the European Union all have to disclose potential conflicts of interest and must disclose its conflict of interest policies on the internet. The Federal Reserve does not.

The European Central Bank and the central bank in Australia both require its directors to annually disclose their financial interests. The Fed does not because it does not want to make it “burdensome” for people to serve on its board.

Federal Reserve Banks do not publish public information about vacant director positions. Instead of allowing the public to actively seek to apply to its board, the banking industry recruits most of the candidates to serve on the Federal Reserve’s board of directors in private.

In contrast, the central bank in England publicly advertises when it is seeking applications for board directors. The central bank in Canada allows the public to apply for vacant board member positions on the internet.
The GAO also found the following:

  •  In 2010, the 108 members of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors are predominately white men who are senior executives of financial institutions.
  •  While Congress has mandated that the Federal Reserve’s board of directors consist of experts in labor, consumer protection, agriculture, commerce, and industry, only 11 of the 202 members of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors represented labor and consumer interests from 2006-2010.
  •  When choosing who will serve on its board of directors, the Federal Reserve generally focuses its search on senior executives, usually CEOs or presidents in the financial industry. Of the 108 Federal Reserve board directors, 82 were the President or CEO of their company.
  •  The Federal Reserve claims that it is hard to recruit labor and consumer representatives to its board because many are “politically active,” and the Federal Reserve has restrictions on a director’s “political activity.” Sanders called this “laughable,” compared to the political action of CEOs of large financial institutions serving on the Fed’s board. For example, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase currently serves on the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Dimon has made over $620,000 in campaign contributions since 1990

Yahoo Censored Email Messages About “Occupy Wall Street” Protests

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Yahoo blocks users from sending e-mails about the OccupyWallSt.org website with a message claiming "suspicious activity"

Oldspeak:”Wow. Big Brother Is Watching You. Yahoo’s email censorship policies perfected in China are now being implemented in the U.S. If you choose to transmit links to a website Yahoo finds objectionable, your actions are  labeled “Suspicious Activity” and your ability communicate it is denied. “It’s not the first time Yahoo has been accused of political censorship. Yahoo officially partners with the repressive Chinese regime to provide the government with access to emails related to groups viewed as dissidents. An explosive investigation by Der Spiegel found that Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with access to emails from journalists, and the snooping resulted in the same journalists being sent to prison camps” -Lee Fang The Thought Police are getting more and more brazen in theirs efforts to manipulate and control everything you think, see, hear and feel.  Yahoo has since explained away the censorship as “Unintentional”. One can only wonder how long the “error” would have persisted if someone hadn’t called them on it. “Ignorance is Strength”.

By Lee Fang @ Think Progress:

Thinking about e-mailing your friends and neighbors about the protests against Wall Street happening right now? If you have a Yahoo e-mail account, think again. ThinkProgress has reviewed claims that Yahoo is censoring e-mails relating to the protest and found that after several attempts on multiple accounts, we too were prevented from sending messages about the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.

Over the weekend, thousands gathered for a “Tahrir Square”-style protest of Wall Street’s domination of American politics. The protesters, organized online and by organizations like Adbusters, have called their effort “Occupy Wall Street” and have set up the website: www.OccupyWallSt.org. However, several YouTube users posted videos of themselves trying to email a message inviting their friends to visit the Occupy Wall St campaign website, only to be blocked repeatedly by Yahoo. View a video of ThinkProgress making the attempt with the same blocked message experienced by others (click full screen for a better view of the text):

ThinkProgress tried other protest websites, like AmericansforProsperity.org and TeaPartyPatriots.org, and both messages were sent smoothly. However, emails relating to the OccupyWallSt.org protest were blocked with the following message (emphasis added):

Your message was not sent
Suspicious activity has been detected on your account. To protect your account and our users, your message has not been sent.
If this error continues, please contact Yahoo! Customer Care for further help.
We apologize for the inconvenience.

ThinkProgress has sent a request for more information to Yahoo, and will post any reply once we have received it with Yahoo’s explanation for its apparent censorship.

It’s not the first time Yahoo has been accused of political censorship. Yahoo officially partners with the repressive Chinese regime to provide the government with access to emails related to groups viewed as dissidents. An explosive investigation by Der Spiegel found that Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with access to emails from journalists, and the snooping resulted in the same journalists being sent to prison camps.

The Occupy Wall Street protests have continued, but if you own a Yahoo e-mail account, you might not know about it.

Update 

We’re continuing to monitor Yahoo’s mail service and have now been able to send messages containing the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” and its website on some Yahoo accounts. On other accounts, however, Yahoo is still blocking the messages.

Update

Yahoo’s customer care Twitter account acknowledges blocking the emails, but says it was an unintentional error:

“We apologize 4 blocking ‘occupywallst.org’ It was not intentional & caught by our spam filters. It is resolved, but may be a residual delay.”

Yahoo’s main Twitter account adds:

“Thanks to @YahooMail users & @ThinkProgress for catching problem w/ #Occupywallst.org mail. Prob is fixed, but there may be residual delays.”

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