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May 25, 2015 a world of progress, letters, progressive living, progressive media center

Casey Sheehan died in the Iraq War. His mother, Cindy is an activist for peace. In my eyes, she is an American hero.

I wasn’t going to post anything about Memorial Day, but after I saw Cindy Sheehan’s post on Facebook, I just had to say something.

I’ve been somewhat agitated all day because — well, I couldn’t quite articulate it until Cindy said it: “Fuck war.”

I lost friends and neighbors in the Vietnam War, and I never understood why we were there. But even as a teenager, I knew it was wrong. We didn’t belong there, and there’s no bringing back the precious ones we lost.

For a lot of soldiers, their lives ended in Vietnam even though they came home. They suffered from PTSD and from rejection. They didn’t return as heroes and they still had to live with all the horrors they had seen, most of them with no help.

Not that those who waged the war cared. A few people made a lot of money on that war. And a lot of families and friends still suffer the loss of more than 58,000 Americans.

We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 when the architects of it were Saudis, and even though Bin Laden was there, we really didn’t want to find him. Let me rephrase. Most of us — including the brave men and women who went there — wanted him; it was the people who make their fortunes off of war that hoped he would slip out of our grasp.

And as many of us have suspected, we were lied into the Iraq War. Cindy Sheehan has been brave enough to stand up and say how evil both those wars were — and the war-making that continues under the Obama Administration in the form of drones, dark sites and assassinations.

As I get older and see more young lives wasted on the battlefield, the grief overwhelms me. At least I got to say goodbye to my son. God bless the soldiers who believe we are doing the right thing, but I see Memorial Day as a little piece of candy to pacify us.

But I am not pacified by flags on graves or parades or 21-gun salutes. I want the wars to stop. I want those who went to war to be honored — with real help instead of empty gestures.

If we really held our soldiers in a position of honor, we wouldn’t be leaving them to rot on the streets, their war-caused mental illnesses untreated, unable to work, homeless and hungry.

We wouldn’t vote for the people who cut the budget to help returning soldiers.

We wouldn’t sit still and allow more wars to be fought in our name.

Fuck war and fuck the warmongers who waste our most precious resources — our people — on their evil adventures.

It’s time to prosecute the war criminals who caused the deaths of more than 4,000 Americans and God only knows how many innocent Iraqis and Afghanis. They created ISIS and emboldened every fundamentalist in the Middle East. They destabilized an entire region. They should not be free to roam the streets and sit on Sunday talk show panels rattling their sabers for more “boots on the ground.”

Cindy Sheehan’s son died because of a pack of lies, and she will never recover. God bless her and all those who stand with her for peace. She is a true hero.



 
 
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Posted by donaldjeffries
05/23/2015

As I’ve noted many times, with merely 300 or so honest representatives in Congress, all our national problems could be solved. No more Federal Reserve machinations. No more meddlesome escapades in foreign countries that pose no threat to us. No more Patriot Act. No more NDAA. No more pay-raise votes. No more secret budgets for the CIA and other intelligence agencies. No more restrictions on civil liberties.

But we don’t have 300 honest representatives in Congress, and probably never have. We don’t have 100. We don’t even have 50. Instead, we have a bunch of spineless lemmings, led by the most awful human beings imaginable. Nancy Pelosi? John Boehner? Mitch McConnell? Harry Reid? Lindsay Graham? Charles Schumer? We really can’t do any better than that? Would you ever expect them to do the right thing?

Jonathan Swift wrote, some three hundred years ago, that the judges of his time were so notoriously addicted to corruption that it would impossible to bribe them to act in the interests of justice. I think we’ve reached that point in this age. I think our representatives are so accustomed to obeying the orders of powerful lobbyists, of opting for war, austerity measures and globalist expansionism, that it would be impossible to bribe them to act on the behalf of their constituents, to vote for their interests.

The Trans Pacific Partnership will not only obliterate what little is left of American industry and national sovereignty, it is being ramrodded through Congress with even more secrecy and “bipartisanship” than usual. Most members will undoubtedly fail to even read the legislation before feeling comfortable in voting on it. As former House Speaker (now Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi famously remarked, regarding Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Very few members of Congress are likely to read the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. It’s hundreds of pages long, and the restrictions are incomprehensible for any piece of legislation in a supposedly free society.

Members who actually have the desire to wade through this monstrosity must attend classified briefings, and then leave both their staffs and their cell phones behind when they conspiratorially descend to the Visitor Center in the basement of the Capitol. They aren’t even permitted to take any notes out of the soundproof room. And then, believe it or not, they are forbidden to discuss what they’ve read. This sounds like something more suitable for the old Soviet Politburo, and anything remotely approaching such draconian secrecy should be anathema in our constitutional republic.

But all the most powerful people support this horrific agreement, just as they all supported NAFTA back in the 1990s. The “giant sucking sound” that Ross Perot so astutely predicted then is likely to become an ear- shattering blast, trumpeting the end of an America that once was the wonder of the world. No one seems to know exactly what is in the TPP agreement, but you can bet that it will have a disastrous impact on the poor and working-class in this country. More “guest workers” from other countries, doing the “jobs Americans won’t do,” and it appears that the pact will make it easier for Monsanto food products to dominate the marketplace. The chief U.S. agricultural negotiator for the deal is, in fact, former Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddique.

There has been very ineffectual, token opposition to the agreement in Congress, spearheaded by Elizabeth Warren. But Warren, who recently voted against auditing the Federal Reserve, focused most of her criticism on the secrecy surrounding the deal, not the deal itself. As it was with NAFTA and the other deadly trade agreements that eviscerated American industry, so it is with TPP; the usual unholy alliance between Democrats and Republicans, and universal support from both the “Left” and “Right” talking heads in the mainstream media. No one but the “extremists” and “conspiracy theorists” seem to realize just how awful this deal will be for the vast majority of people in this country.

Congress has been issuing these kinds of head-scratching votes for much of our history. Remember that only one U.S. Senator- Russ Feingold- voted against the unconstitutional Patriot Act, which was rushed through Congress barely a month after the events of 9/11. The House was a bit more serious about their vows, but still only 66 members voted against it. Thanks exclusively to Rand Paul, three key re-authorization provisions of the Patriot Act were blocked in the Senate just yesterday. If the past is any indicator, “bipartisanship” and power politics will prevail, and the entire odious thing will ultimately be extended again.

The infamous psy-op that led to the escalation of the Vietnam War, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, fooled only two U.S. Senators at the time, and zero representatives in the House. Both Houses proudly passed a joint resolution condemning the imaginary incident. In fact, our vaunted congressional representatives have always given the president-whoever that may be-free reign to invade and occupy other nations. Whichever party has a majority in Congress, and whichever party is in the White House, they always vote for war. The last president who defied the military industrial complex and the drumbeats for war was John F. Kennedy.

The only leaders in this country who have backbone are acting against the interests of the people, and at the behest of powerful forces behind the scenes. There are no profiles in courage out there, in positions of prominence, within the government or in private industry. Permitting the president to “fast track” this heinous deal is something that would gnaw at anyone with a conscience. The guilt should be overwhelming for those “representatives” who agreed to the clandestine, almost science-fiction like provisions of secrecy of the deal,  and still approved it for “fast track” status. Clearly, there are few consciences in Congress.

Every public opinion poll reports that the American people are disgusted with Congress, giving them a less than ten percent approval rating. And yet, they continue to allegedly re-elect them at an incomprehensible rate- 96 percent of incumbents were returned to office in the last election. There are really only two explanations for such a glaring dichotomy. Either they don’t really count our votes, or the American people really are hopelessly stupid.

Let’s all hope that they aren’t actually counting the votes.



 
 
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by Eric Draitser
05/14/2015

While the war in Ukraine has raged on for more than a year, the growing conflict between the US-NATO and Russia has taken on new dimensions. From economic warfare waged by the West in the form of sanctions, to the diplomatic rows over the commemoration of Victory Day in Moscow, more and more it seems that relations between East and West are fraying beyond repair. Though it may seem that this conflict is escalating into simply an extension of what was once known as the Cold War, the potential exists for a hot war of global dimensions.

Lost amid the cacophony of saber-rattling and chest-thumping in Washington and Brussels is the quietly emerging, and infinitely dangerous, military deployment in the Black Sea. Once seen as a no-go zone for the US and NATO, the Black Sea, with its expansive Russian shores, has recently become the site of a slew of provocative military moves by the US, and equally significant counter-moves by Russia. Adding fuel to this potential fire is the participation of Chinese naval assets in this quietly brewing cocktail of global conflict.

The presence of US military assets all throughout the Black Sea region is undoubtedly provocative as it is pushing perilously close to Russia’s borders. The potential for escalation – premeditated or otherwise – puts the entire region, and indeed the entire world, at risk of catastrophe.

This article will focus on the US-NATO military developments in and around the Black Sea. While by no means a comprehensive listing of all of Washington’s moves in the region, it is an attempt to provide a glimpse into a little discussed theater of deployment for the West – one that is regarded as a very serious threat by Moscow.

Washington Swimming in the Black Sea

There is no doubt that US strategy vis-à-vis Russia places tremendous strategic importance on maintaining and expanding a robust military presence in and around the Black Sea. Recent moves by the US-NATO military forces make this fact all the more apparent. Having deployed a significant amount of forces to littoral countries, as well as initiating a series of critical military exercises and drills, Washington is demonstrating unequivocally its commitment to escalating the conflict with Russia.

Nearly a year ago, in June 2014, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid bare US intentions. In the wake of President Obama’s public announcement of $1 billion to expand the US military presence in Eastern Europe, Hagel stated that the billion dollar commitment was for a “stronger presence of US ships in the Black Sea,” and that “[The US] will sustain that tempo going forward.” Put in slightly more understandable terminology, the US committed a significant monetary investment to the permanent expansion of its military presence in and around the Black Sea.

The permanence of this new commitment is what is striking because, unlike much of the bluff and bluster from Washington over Ukraine and related issues, this represents a military deployment with real tactical value. It is not mere rhetoric, it is military escalation. And, in the year since the announcement was made, this process has evolved in earnest.

The US Army is currently, or will soon be, leading a series of critical military exercises in the Black Sea. One notable one is known as Noble Partner. This series of exercises is being conducted with the de facto NATO member Georgia which has effectively become a forward arm of NATO military forces. As the official page of the US Army noted:

Noble Partner will support Georgia’s contribution of a light infantry company to NATO Response Force, or NRF… The exercise will focus on unified land operations … Exercise Noble Partner provides an opportunity for the U.S. military to continue its training relationship with the Georgian Armed Forces as the sponsor of Georgia’s participation in the NRF. The NRF provides a rapid military response force to deploy quickly, wherever needed…. Exercise Noble Partner will include approximately 600 U.S. and Georgian Service members incorporating a full range of equipment… Georgian forces will operate alongside U.S. forces with their BMP-2 Infantry Combat Vehicle. The exercise will consist of both a field training exercise and a live-fire exercise.

However, as part of the US military training, a significant amount of military hardware is being shuttled across the Black Sea in an unprecedented move by the US which has never so brazenly treated this body of water as its own backyard. As the US Army page wrote:

Fourteen Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles and several wheeled-support vehicles, roughly 748 metric tons of steel and rubber, cut across the Black Sea…bound for the port in Batumi, Georgia, May 2. This is the first time that the U.S. Army has deployed a mechanized company worth of equipment across the Black Sea. The equipment will support the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers, participating in Exercise Noble Partner.

Taken in combination with Hagel’s comments a year ago, it is clear that the US is committed to escalating its military presence in the Black Sea. Of course, it is self-evident that such a strategic development must be seen as an attempt to both outgun and intimidate Russia in its traditional sphere of influence.

Additionally, and concurrent to these military exercises, is the planned Trident Joust 2015, which according to US Navy Admiral Mark Ferguson, will “test the capability of the NRF [NATO Response Force] command and control element to work at full operational capacity in a deployed location…TRIDENT JOUST 15…will reinforce the NATO Readiness Action Plan from the Wales Summit and project assurance measures to all NATO allies.” Trident Joust should be understood as an attempt to prepare NATO’s military architecture for possible rapid deployment in the Black Sea region, ostensibly as a defense against so-called Russian aggression while in reality seeking to expand NATO military capability against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and increased tensions with Moscow.

At no time during the Cold War did the US engage in such openly hostile and belligerent actions designed more to provoke than to defend. It seems the policy now is to both prepare for war and work to ensure that it comes to fruition. As if to make it even more transparent what Washignton’s intentions are with Trident Joust, Admiral Ferguson was quoted as saying “I appreciate the efforts of Romania as we work on other measures to transform the Alliance, such as the formation of the Multinational Division Southeast and the NATO Force Integration Unit.”

There are other important military moves that the US-NATO have made in the Black Sea in recent months, all designed to send a stern warning to Russia. NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) recently completed its training exercises “designed to improve interoperability and enhance rapid integration of Alliance maritime assets… The force trained on anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare procedures during separate exercises with the Turkish, Bulgarian and Romanian navies.” As part of SNMG2, NATO deployed significant military assets to the Romanian port of Constanta, not coincidentally a short distance across the Black Sea from Crimea and Russia’s fleet at Sevastopol. Participating in the SNMG2 was the USS Vicksburg with its Mark 41 Vertical Launching System, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and arsenal of guns. In addition were Canadian, Italian, and Turkish warships, all carrying significant firepower of their own.

Aside from these specific sets of naval exercises, the US has had major assets in and around the Black Sea to participate in a series of one-off maneuvers and a variety of drills in the past year, even before Secretary Hagel’s public announcement in June 2014. These include the recently decommissioned USS Taylor which spent much of 2014 in the Black Sea. Perhaps not so coincidentally, this US frigate is now slated for sale to Taiwan in a move that is likely to be met with disapproval in Beijing. Additionally, the USS Donald Cook, a missile destroyer, conducted exercises with the USS Taylor and Romanian Navy. Also, the USS Truxton and USS Vella Gulf both logged significant time in the Black Sea in 2014, undoubtedly motivating Russia to move quickly to ramp up its naval and military capabilities.

It is interesting to note that Russia’s moves in Crimea in 2014 came within a matter of days of the entrance into the Black Sea of these US naval assets. Anyone who doubts that Moscow’s decision to support Crimea’s vote for reunification with the Russian Federation was motivated by something other than military and strategic pragmatism would do well to examine this timeline of events.

All of this makes plain that the US and its NATO arsenal are gearing up for a “pivot” – to borrow the grossly overused terminology of the Obama administration and the Pentagon – that will see their forces focused on the Black Sea, just as they have shifted attention to the Baltic Sea even more so in recent months. It does not take exceptional powers of deduction to see what the US intends: continued escalation, force preparedness, and intimidation against Moscow. However, it is equally apparent that such provocative moves raise the risk of a misstep, an accident or misunderstanding that could touch off a major military conflict. Considering the players involved, such a blunder could spark World War 3.

A forthcoming article will focus on the countermoves that Russia is employing to confront US-NATO aggression near Russia’s borders. The article will focus specifically on the fast-developing military relationship between Russia and China.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.



 
 
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Let's Try Democracy
By David Swanson
20 April 2015

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
--Robert Frost

After a speech I gave this past weekend, a young woman asked me whether a failure by the United States to properly surround and intimidate China might result in instability. I explained why I thought the opposite was true. Imagine if China had military bases along the Canadian and Mexican borders with the United States and ships in Bermuda and the Bahamas, Nova Scotia and Vancouver. Would you feel stabilized? Or might you feel something else?

The U.S. empire can continue to see itself as a force for good, doing things that would be unacceptable for anyone else but never to be questioned when performed by the global cop -- that is, it can go on not seeing itself at all, expanding, over-reaching, and collapsing from within. Or it can recognize what it's about, shift priorities, scale back militarism, reverse the concentration of wealth and power, invest in green energy and human needs, and undo the empire a bit sooner but far more beneficially. Collapse is not inevitable. Collapse or redirection is inevitable, and thus far the U.S. government is choosing the path toward the former.

Let's look at a few of the indicators.

FAILING DEMOCRACY

The United States bombs nations in the name of democracy, yet has one of the least democratic and least functioning of the states calling themselves democracies. The U.S. has the lowest voter turnout among wealthy, and lower even than many poor, countries. An election is looming for next year with leading contenders from two aristocratic dynasties. The United States does not use national public initiatives or referenda in the way that some countries do, so its low voter turnout (with over 60% of eligible voters choosing not to vote in 2014) matters all the more. The U.S. democracy is also less democratic than other wealthy democracies in terms of its internal functioning, with a single individual able to launch wars.

Low public participation is not the result of satisfaction so much as recognition of corruption, combined with antidemocratic barriers to participating. For years now 75% to 85% of the U.S. public has been saying its government is broken. And clearly a big part of that understanding is related to the system of legalized bribery that funds elections. Approval of Congress has been under 20% and sometimes under 10% for years now. Confidence in Congress is at 7% and falling quickly.


Recently a man, expecting to lose his job at the very least, landed a little bicycle-helicopter at the U.S. Capitol to try to deliver requests to clean the money out of elections. He cited as his motivation the "collapse of this country." Another man showed up at the U.S. Capitol with a sign reading "Tax the 1%" and proceeded to shoot himself in the head. Polls suggest those are not the only two people who see the problem -- and, it should be noted, the solution.

Of course, the U.S. "democracy" operates in greater and greater secrecy with ever greater powers of surveillance. The World Justice Project ranks the United States below many other nations in these categories: Publicized laws and government data; Right to information; Civic participation; and Complaint mechanisms.

The U.S. government is currently working on ratifying, in secret, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which empowers corporations to overturn laws enacted by the U.S. government.

WEALTH CONCENTRATION

A political system dominated by wealth could be democratic if wealth were evenly distributed. Sadly, the United States has a greater disparity of wealth than almost any other nation on earth. Four hundred U.S. billionaires have more money than half the people of the United States combined, and those 400 are celebrated for it rather than shamed. With the United States trailing most nations in income equality, this problem is only getting worse. The 10th wealthiest country on earth per capita doesn't look wealthy when you drive through it. And you do have to drive, with 0 miles of high-speed rail built. And you have to be careful when you drive. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+. Areas of cities like Detroit have become wasteland. Residential areas lack water or are poisoned by environmental pollution -- most often from military operations.

The core of the U.S. sales pitch to itself is that, for all its flaws it provides freedom and opportunity. In fact, it trails most European countries in economic mobility, self-assessment of wellbeing, and ranks 35th in freedom to choose what to do with your life, according to Gallup, 2014.

DEGRADING INFRASTRUCTURE

The United States contains 4.5 percent of the world’s population and spends 42 percent of the world's health care expenses, and yet Americans are less healthy than the residents of nearly every other wealthy nation and a few poor ones as well. The U.S. ranks 36th in life expectancy and 47th in preventing infant mortality.

The U.S. spends more on criminal justice and has more crime, and more gun deaths than most countries, rich or poor. That includes shootings by U.S. police that kill about 1,000 per year, compared to single digits in various Western nations.

The U.S. comes in 57th in employment, stands against the trend of the world by providing no guarantee of paid parental leave or vacation, and trails in education by various measures. The United States, however, leads the way in putting students into debt for their education to the tune of $1.3 trillion, part of a wider problem of personal debt.

The United States is #1 in debt to other countries, including governmental debt, although #3 per capita. As others have pointed out, the U.S. is declining in terms of exports, and the power of the dollar and its use as currency for the globe are in doubt.

DROP IN POPULAR OPINION ABROAD

In early 2014 there were unusual news stories about Gallup's end-of-2013 polling because after polling in 65 countries with the question "Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?" the overwhelming winner had been the United States of America. In fact, the United States is less generous with aid but more profligate with bombs and missiles than other countries and trails generally in how it treats the rest of the world.

The United States leads the way in environmental destruction, trailing only China in carbon dioxide emissions but almost tripling China's emissions when measured per capita.

The second U.S.-backed dictator in Yemen in the past few years has now fled to Saudi Arabia and requested the bombing of his own country with U.S. weapons, a country in chaos in significant part because a U.S. drone war has given popular support to violent opposition to the U.S. and its servants.

ISIS produced a 60-minute film depicting itself as the leading enemy of the U.S. and essentially asking the U.S. to attack it. The U.S. did and its recruitment soared.

The United States is favored by brutal governments in Egypt and around the region, but not by popular support.

MILITARISM FOR ITS OWN SAKE

The United States is far and away the leading selling seller and giver of weapons to the world; the leading spender on its own military, with expenses having skyrocketed to now about $1.3 trillion per year, roughly equivalent to the rest of the world put together; the leading occupier of the world with troops in almost every other country; and the leading participant in and instigator of wars.

The United States is also, far and away, the leader in incarceration, with more people and a higher percentage of people locked up than in any other time or place, and with even more people on parole and probation and under the control of the prison system. More African-Americans are locked up than were slaves prior to the U.S. Civil War. The U.S. is likely the first and only place on earth where the majority of sexual assault victims are male.

Civil liberties are eroding rapidly. Surveillance is expanding dramatically. And all in the name of war without end. But the wars are endless defeats, generating enemies rather than any advantage. The wars empower and create enemies, enrich nations engaged in nonviolent investment, and empower the war profiteers to push for more wars. The propaganda for the wars fails to boost military enlistment at home, so the U.S. government turns to mercenaries (creating additional pressure for more wars) and to drones. But the drones boost the creation of hatred and enemies exponentially, generating blowback that sooner or later will include blowback by means of drones -- which the U.S. war profiteers are marketing around the globe.

RESISTANCE GROWING

Resistance to empire does not come only in the form of a replacement empire. It can take the form of violent and nonviolent resistance to militarism, economic resistance to exploitation, and collective agreement to improve the world. When Iran urges India, China, and Russia to oppose NATO's expansion, it is not necessarily dreaming of global empire or even of cold war, but certainly of resistance to NATO. When bankers suggest the Yuan will replace the dollar, that need not mean that China will duplicate the Pentagon.

The current U.S. trajectory threatens to collapse not just the United States but the world in one or both of two ways: nuclear or environmental apocalypse. Green energy models and antimilitarism constitute resistance to this path. The model of Costa Rica with no military, 100% renewable energy, and ranked at the top in happiness is a form of resistance too. At the end of 2014, Gallup of course did not dare ask again what nation was the greatest threat to peace but did ask if people would ever fight in a war. In many nations large majorities said No, never.

The United States is growing isolated in its support for the institution of war. Last year 31 Latin American and Caribbean nations declared that they would never use war. U.S. support for Israeli wars has left it virtually alone and up against a growing campaign for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. The United States is increasingly understood as rogue, as it remains the lone or nearly lone holdout on the treaty on the rights of the child, the land mines treaty, the covenant on economic, social, and cultural rights, the International Criminal Court, etc.

Latin American nations are standing up to the United States. Some have kicked out its bases and ceased sending students to the School of the Americas. People are protesting at US bases in Italy, South Korea, England, and at US Embassies in Philippines, Czech Republic, Ukraine. German courts are hearing charges that it is illegally participating in US drone wars. Pakistani courts have indicted top CIA officials.

EXCEPTIONALISM ON THE ROPES

The idea of American exceptionalism is not a serious claim so much as an attitude among the U.S. public. While the U.S. trails other nations in various measures of health, happiness, education, sustainable energy, economic security, life expectancy, civil liberties, democratic representation, and peace, and while it sets new records for militarism, incarceration, surveillance, and secrecy, many Americans think of it as so exceptional as to excuse all sorts of actions that are unacceptable in others. Increasingly this requires willful self-deception. Increasingly the self-deception is failing.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on the military than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death he wasn't warning us. He was warning our parents and grandparents. We're the dead.

Can we be revived?


 
 
by Geoff Millard: A queer, service connected disabled, Iraq war veteran who is an expert in veteran policy focusing on homelessness and bad discharges.
Originally posted on Huffington Post, 10/23/2014

Jacob George described himself as a "hillbilly storyteller." He told the most beautiful tales as he softly strummed his banjo, tapped his bare foot on the ground, and let his long hair brush his smiling face. He was the last person most of us thought would become one of the 22 veterans each day who commit suicide.

Maybe the thought that it would never be him is part of why the veterans community who knew Jacob is grieving so hard right now. But the reality is that deep down, Jacob carried the wounds of war that so many of us bare after experiencing combat. On September 17, 2014, Jacob, just 32 years old, took his own life. It was not an act of cowardice or selfishness on his part, but a failing on ours. We failed Jacob as a community of veterans and a country as a whole.

Jacob was not an imposing figure from a physical standpoint, but his energy captured the attention of a room, whether he was performing from the stage or he'd just stepped in the door. His presence was electric, and it was hard not to smile when he smiled and sing along when he would transition from a soft whisper to a bellowing boom. Whether he had a microphone, a megaphone or just the night's air, every event he was at turned into a show and a Jacob George show always turned into a sing-a-long.

Jacob told me that he joined the army in 2001 to defend our freedoms and thought that was what he would be doing in Afghanistan. His first tour in Afghanistan began in 2001, just a month after September 11. Having grown up a poor farmer in Arkansas, he saw his reflection in the faces of poor farmers in Afghanistan. He saw the will to live free, the struggle of constant hard work, and felt the pain our occupation was causing the people.

When he finished his third tour in Afghanistan and was discharged from the army, his opposition to the war became very personal. He set out to change the world the only way he knew how: to tell people his stories and to listen to theirs. It was how he did it that made him so special to so many people.

A bike tour was the first introduction Jacob made to the antiwar community. He called it "A Ride Till the End," as he set out with other veterans and friends to ride across the country and tell his stories to anyone who would listen until the war ended. That is where his antiwar activism started but not where it ended.

From the seat of his bike with his banjo across his back he went to Chicago where he joined nearly 50 other veterans and threw his medals back at NATO in protest of its wars in 2012. This act -- he explained in his song "Warrior" -- was part of a "right of passage into wariorrhood," which he learned by sharing time and energy with many native and indigenous healers and elders. Singing about the difference between a soldier and a warrior, he road to D.C. and New York, to San Francisco and Denver, to Texas and back again to Arkansas. He understood that as a warrior he would always have issues with following orders, but never in following his conscience, loving and fighting for what he believed in.

Returning to Afghanistan may have been the hardest thing Jacob did as an activist, because he expected to find a public dead set against American occupation and Americans, but what he found was a complicated political landscape and a beautiful people with whom he fell in love. Jacob frequently talked so fondly of his return trip to Afghanistan and the youth he met there while working with Afghan Peace Volunteers. He wore a blue scarf for them -- a symbol of peace, solidarity, and his experiences there -- and many times kept it with him even when not wearing it.

He carried all his experiences in his heart and had empathy for all living beings. Ultimately, it was those experiences that were too heavy for even his tales. Jacob talked often of moral injury, and the complicated relationship he had with his deployments, his trauma and a world of people who did not understand what these wars are doing to soldiers and the people who will still live there long after the war ends.

Jacob was as much a product of his three tours in the Afghanistan War as he was the mountains of Arkansas. In addition to his antiwar and humanitarian work, he adored talking about his love for the mountains; the farms of Arkansas that raised him; and the support and love from his mother Robin, sister Jasmin and brother Jordan. His experiences in life before enlistment ultimately created the empathy and compassion he had for those he could not resolve to call "enemy," as his training demanded. So much of his stories were based on seeing himself and those he grew up with in the faces of the Afghan farmers he met -- both during his tours and on his voluntary trip back to Afghanistan as a civilian.

His practice trying to explain war to anyone who would listen left Jacob feeling conflicted and wounded -- emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. He identified most with the Solider's Heart -- the term for what was PTSD during the Civil War. He talked publicly about his experiences as a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and how protest and alternate forms of healing, did more to treat his soldiers heart then any treatment the VA could offer him. IVAW is a very different organization then it was when Jacob first found us and we partially have him to thank for that.

He challenged our views on "the good war" and held a mirror of song for us to reflect how and why we fought the war. We are better people today because Jacob graced us with his being and he will always be one of us. He will always be carried in our hearts. He will live on in his songs. He will always be part of our family and the loss of that one hillbilly story teller from Arkansas is a loss to the world.

The Music of Jacob George can be downloaded from iTunes and anyone wishing can make a donation to help his family through the Jacob George Celebration of Life Fund.

Photo credit: Ironside Photography.


 
 
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We humans have an inherent sense of fairness. Deep down, we don’t like inequality. In a second extract from his new book, Russell Brand goes in search of ways to build a more just world
The Guardian-10/12/2014
by Russell Brand

When travelling in impoverished regions in galling luxury, as I have done, you have to undergo some high-wire ethical arithmetic to legitimise your position. If you can’t geographically separate yourself from poverty, then you have to do it ideologically. You have to believe inequality is OK. You have to accept the ideas that segregate us from one another and nullify your human instinct for fairness.

Edward Slingerland, a professor of ancient Chinese philosophy at Stanford University, demonstrated this instinct to me with the use of hazelnuts. As we spoke, there was a bowl of them on the table. “Russell,” he said, scooping up a handful, “we humans have an inbuilt tendency towards fairness. If offered an unfair deal, we will want to reject it. If I have a huge bowl of nuts and offer you just one or two, how do you feel?”

The answer was actually quite complex. Firstly, I dislike hazelnuts, considering them to be the verminous titbits of squirrels. Secondly, they were my hazelnuts anyway; we were in my house. Most pertinently though, I felt that it was an unfair offering when he had so many nuts. He explained that human beings and even primates have an instinct for fairness even in situations where this instinct could be seen as detrimental. “You still have more nuts now than before,” he chirped, failing to acknowledge that all the nuts and indeed everything in the entire house belonged to me.

We then watched a clip on YouTube where monkeys in adjacent cages in a university laboratory perform the same task for food. Monkey A does the task and gets a grape – delicious. Monkey B, who can see Monkey A, performs the same task and is given cucumber – yuck. Monkey B looks pissed off but eats his cucumber anyway. The experiment is immediately repeated and you can see that Monkey B is agitated when his uptown, up-alphabet neighbour is again given a grape. When he is presented with the cucumber this time, he is furious – he throws it out the cage and rattles the bars. I got angry on his behalf and wanted to give the scientist a cucumber in a less amenable orifice. I also felt a bit pissed off with Monkey A, the grape-guzzling little bastard. I’ve not felt such antipathy towards a primate since that one in Raiders of the Lost Ark with the little waistcoat betrayed Indy.

Slingerland explained, between great frothing gobfuls of munched hazelnut, that this inherent sense of fairness is found in humans everywhere, but that studies show that it’s less pronounced in environments where people are exposed to a lot of marketing. “Capitalist, consumer culture inures us to unfairness,” he said. That made me angry.


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When I was in India, a country where wealth and poverty share a disturbing proximity, I felt a discomfort in spite of being in the exalted position of Monkey A. Exclusive hotels require extensive, in fact military, security. As we entered the five-star splendour through the metal detectors, past the armed guards, I realised that if this was what was required in order to preserve this degree of privilege, it could not be indefinitely sustained.

These devices that maintain division are what my friend Matt Stoller focused on when I asked him what ideas he had that would change the world. I first met Matt in Zuccotti Park, Manhattan, in the middle of the Occupy Wall Street protest in 2011. Matt understands power: at the time, he worked as a policy-wonk for a Democratic congressman and his days were spent in the cogs of the lumbering Washington behemoth. Beneath his cherubic, hay-coloured curls and proper job, he detested the system he was trapped in.

Since then, he has regularly prised apart the clenched and corrupt buttocks of American politics and allowed me to peer inside at its dirty workings. I asked Matt for ideas that would aid the revolution; his response was, as usual, startling and almost proctologically insightful. “No more private security for the wealthy and the powerful,” he said. I nervously demanded he explain himself. He did: “One economist argued in 2005 that roughly one in four Americans are employed to guard in various forms the wealth of the rich. So if you want to get rid of rich and poor, get rid of guard labour.”

This may be the point in the article where you start shouting the word “hypocrite”. Don’t think I’m unaware of the inevitability of such a charge. I know, I know. I’m rich, I’m famous, I have money, I have had private security on and off for years. There is no doubt that I as much as anyone have to change. Revolution is change. I believe in change, personal change most of all. Know, too, that I have seen what fame and fortune have to offer and I know it’s not the answer. Of course, I have to change as an individual and part of that will be sharing wealth, though without systemic change, that will be a sweet, futile gesture.

Now let’s get back to Matt Stoller, banning private security and ensuring that I’ll have to have my own fist fights next time I’m leaving the Manchester Apollo.

“The definition of being rich means having more stuff than other people. In order to have more stuff, you need to protect that stuff with surveillance systems, guards, police, court systems and so forth. All of those sombre-looking men in robes who call themselves judges are just sentinels whose job it is to convince you that this very silly system in which we give Paris Hilton as much as she wants while others go hungry is good and natural and right.”


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This idea is extremely clever and highlights the fact that there is exclusivity even around the use of violence. The state can legitimately use force to impose its will and, increasingly, so can the rich. Take away that facility and societies will begin to equalise. If that hotel in India was stripped of its security, they’d have to address the complex issues that led to them requiring it.

“These systems can be very expensive. America employs more private security guards than high-school teachers. States and countries with high inequality tend to hire proportionally more guard labour. If you’ve ever spent time in a radically unequal city in South Africa, you’ll see that both the rich and the poor live surrounded by private security contractors, barbed wire and electrified fencing. Some people have nice prison cages, and others have not so nice ones.”

Matt here, metaphorically, broaches the notion that the rich, too, are impeded by inequality, imprisoned in their own way. Much like with my earlier plea for you to bypass the charge of hypocrisy, I now find myself in the unenviable position of urging you, like some weird, bizarro Jesus, to take pity on the rich. It’s not an easy concept to grasp, and I’m not suggesting it’s a priority. Faced with a choice between empathising with the rich or the homeless, by all means go with the homeless.

He continues: “Companies spend a lot of money protecting their CEOs. Starbucks spent $1.4m. Oracle spent $4.6m. One casino empire – the Las Vegas Sands – spent $2.45m. This money isn’t security so much as it is designed to wall these people off from the society they rule, so they never have to interact with normal people under circumstances they may not control. If you just got rid of this security, these people would be a lot less willing to ruthlessly prey on society.”

Matt here explains that at the pinnacle of our problem are those that benefit most from the current hegemony. The executors of these new empires that surpass nation. The logo is their flag, the dollar is their creed, we are all their unwitting subjects.

“People can argue about the right level of guard labour. You conceivably could still have public police, but their job should be to help protect everyone, not just a special class. If you got rid of all these private systems, or some of these systems of surveillance and coercive guarding of property, you’d have a lot less inequality. And powerful and wealthy people would spend a lot more time trying to make sure that society was harmonious, instead of just hiring their way out of the damage they can create.”


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Matt’s next idea to create a different world was equally cunning and revolutionary: get rid of all titles. “Mr President. Ambassador. Admiral. Senator. The honourable. Your honour. Captain. Doctor. These are all titles that capitalism relies on to justify treating some people better than other people.”

Matt is an American, so when it comes to deferring to the entitled, he is, let’s face it, an amateur compared with the British. Look at me, simpering to Professor Slingerland. I can’t wait to prostrate myself before his sceptre of diplomas. Plus we’ve got a bloody royal family. What’s he going to say about that?

“One of the most remarkable things you learn when you work in a position of political influence is just how much titles separate the wealthy and the politicians from citizens. Ordinary people will use a title before addressing someone, and that immediately makes that ordinary person a supplicant, and the titled one a person of influence. Or if both have titles, then there’s upper-class solidarity. Rank, hierarchy, these are designed to create a structure whereby power is shaped in the very act of greeting someone.”

I’m getting angry again. Matt’s right! Titles are part of the invisible architecture of our social structure. I’m never using one again. If I ever see Slingerland in the street, I shall alert him by hollering: “Oi, fuck-face!” and then throw a hazelnut at him.

What does Matt propose?

“One thing you can do to negate this power is to be firm but respectful, and address anyone and everyone by their last name. Mr, Ms or Mrs is all the title you should ever need. This allows you to treat everyone as your equal, and it shows everyone that they should treat you as their equal.”

This is a provocative suggestion – particularly to those of us who live in monarchies. I mean, in England, we have a queen. A queen! We have to call her things like “your majesty”. YOUR MAJESTY! Like she’s all majestic, like an eagle or a mountain. She’s just a person. A little old lady in a shiny hat – that we paid for. We should be calling her Mrs Windsor. In fact, that’s not even her real name, they changed it in the war to distract us from the inconvenient fact that they were as German as the enemy that teenage boys were being encouraged, conscripted actually, to die fighting. Her actual name is Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha!! No wonder they changed it. It’s the most German thing I’ve ever heard – she might as well have been called Mrs Bratwurst-Kraut-Nazi.

Titles have got to go.


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I’m not calling her “your highness” or “your majesty” just so we can pretend there isn’t and hasn’t always been an international cabal of rich landowners flitting merrily across the globe, getting us all to kill each other a couple of times a decade. From now on she’s Frau Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Come on, Frau Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, it’s time for you to have breakfast with Herr Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. And you can make it yerselves. And by the way, we’re nicking this castle you’ve been dossing in and giving it to 100 poor families.

Actually, you can stay if you want, they’ll need a cleaner. You’ll have to watch your lip, Herr Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, some of ’em ain’t white.

We British have much to gain from Matt’s titleless utopia.

He continues: “If this became common, you’d shortly see sputtering rage from the powerful, and increased agitation from the erstwhile meek. People need to mark their dominance; that is the essence of highly unequal capitalism. If they can’t do so, if they aren’t allowed to be dominant, to be shown as being dominant, then the system cannot long be sustained.”

Matt’s ideas are like the schemes of a cackling supervillain from a Bond movie. At first, they seem innocuous, but then they elegantly unravel the fabric of society. He suggests we start now: “This is something that anyone and everyone can act on, a tiny act of rebellion that takes no money, influence or social status. You just need courage, and every human has that.”

• This is an edited extract from Revolution by Russell Brand, published by Cornerstone. To order a copy for £13.50 (RRP £20) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846


 
 
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October 2, 2014
Tony Cartalucci - LD

With Hong Kong's "Occupy Central" fully exposed as US-backed sedition, readers should be aware that this latest turmoil is but one part of a greater ongoing campaign by the United States to contain and co-opt the nation of China. 

As early as the Vietnam War, with the so-called "Pentagon Papers" released in 1969, it was revealed that the conflict was simply one part of a greater strategy aimed at containing and controlling China.
Three important quotes from these papers reveal this strategy. It states first that:  “...the February decision to bomb North Vietnam and the July approval of Phase I deployments make sense only if they are in support of a long-run United States policy to contain China.” It also claims: “China—like Germany in 1917, like Germany in the West and Japan in the East in the late 30′s, and like the USSR in 1947—looms as a major power threatening to undercut our importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely but more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against us.”  Finally, it outlines the immense regional theater the US was engaged in against China at the time by stating:  “there are three fronts to a long-run effort to contain China (realizing that the USSR “contains” China on the north and northwest): (a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; and (c) the Southeast Asia front.”  While the US would ultimately lose the Vietnam War and any chance of using the Vietnamese as a proxy force against Beijing, the long war against Beijing would continue elsewhere.

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This containment strategy would be updated and detailed in the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute report “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power across the Asian Littoral” where it outlines China’s efforts to secure its oil lifeline from the Middle East to its shores in the South China Sea as well as means by which the US can maintain American hegemony throughout the Indian and Pacific Ocean. The premise is that, should Western foreign policy fail to entice China into participating in Wall Street and London's “international system” as responsible stakeholders, an increasingly confrontational posture must be taken to contain the rising nation.

This proxy war has manifested itself in the form of the so-called "Arab Spring" where Chinese interests have suffered in nations like Libya that have been reduced to chaos by US-backed subversion and even direct military intervention. Sudan also serves as a proxy battleground where the West is using chaos to push Chinese interests off the continent of Africa.

More recently, political turmoil has hit Southeast Asia. Thailand has only just recently ousted a US-proxy regime headed by dictator Thaksin Shinawatra, while neighboring Myanmar attempts to stave off sedition headed by US-British political fronts led by Aung San Suu Kyi

Within China itself, the US wields terrorism as a means to destabilize and divide Chinese society in an attempt to make the vast territory of China ungovernable. In the nation's western province of Xianjiang, the United States fully backs violent separatists.


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Indeed, first and foremost in backing the Xinjiang Uyghur separatists is the United States through the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED). For China, the Western region referred to as “Xinjiang/East Turkistan” has its own webpage on NED’s site covering the various fronts funded by the US which include:

International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation $187,918
To advance the human rights of ethnic Uyghur women and children. The Foundation will maintain an English- and Uyghur-language website and advocate on the human rights situation of Uyghur women and children. 
International Uyghur PEN Club $45,000

To promote freedom of expression for Uyghurs. The International Uyghur PEN Club will maintain a website providing information about banned writings and the work and status of persecuted poets, historians, journalists, and others. Uyghur PEN will also conduct international advocacy campaigns on behalf of imprisoned writers. 


Uyghur American Association
$280,000
To raise awareness of Uyghur human rights issues. UAA’s Uyghur Human Rights Project will research, document, and bring to international attention, independent and accurate information about human rights violations affecting the Turkic populations of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 


World Uyghur Congress
$185,000
To enhance the ability of Uyghur prodemocracy groups and leaders to implement effective human rights and democracy campaigns. The World Uyghur Congress will organize a conference for pro-democracy Uyghur groups and leaders on interethnic issues and conduct advocacy work on Uyghur human rights.
It should be noted that the above list was taken from NED's website in March 2014 - since then, NED has deleted several organizations from the list, as it has done previously regarding its support in other nations ahead of intensified campaigns of destabilization it wished to cover up its role in.

All of these NED-funded organizations openly advocate separatism from China, not even recognizing China’s authority over the region to begin with – referring to it instead as “Chinese occupation.”

Of the March 2014 terror attack in Kunming, the US-funded World Uyghur Congress would even attempt to justify it by claiming Chinese authorities have left the separatists with little other choice. The US State Department’s “Radio Free Asia” report titled, “China’s Kunming Train Station Violence Leaves 33 Dead,” reported:

World Uyghur Congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in an emailed statement that there was “no justification for attacks on civilians” but added that discriminatory and repressive policies provoked “extreme measures” in response. From full-blown proxy wars in the 1960's spanning Southeast Asia, to the US-engineered "Arab Spring" in 2011, to terrorism in Xinjiang and turmoil in Hong Kong today - what is taking place is not a battle for "democracy" or "freedom of expression," but an existential battle for China's sovereignty. For whatever problems the Chinese people have with their government, it is their problem and theirs alone to solve in their own way. Using the promotion of "democracy" as cover, the US would continue its attempts to infect China with US-backed institutions and policies, subvert, co-opt, or overthrow the political order in Beijing, and establish upon its ashes its own neo-colonial order serving solely Wall Street and Washington's interests - not those of the Chinese people.


For the mobs of "Occupy Central," many have good intentions, but the leadership is knowingly in league with foreign interests seeking to subvert, divide, and destroy the Chinese people - not unlike what China had suffered at the hands of European powers in the 1800's to early 1900's.
 
 
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“You know your government has failed when your grandma starts to riot”: A Review of Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014). ISBN: 978-1-4516-9738-4

--Reviewed by Kim Scipes

Naomi Klein has once again mobilized her impressive journalistic and writing skills, this time to address the issue of climate change in her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. The timing of her new book is precipitous, coming out in the same month as the Global Climate March in New York City, and 2700 demonstrations worldwide the same day. It should be seen as another important arrow to be added to the quiver of the global movement for life.

Klein’s clarity is striking, as is her ability to cut through the nonsense and obfuscation of not only the mass media, but of those of corporate and governmental “leaders” who are in the process of killing the atmosphere (or those denying it is being murdered), and thus, each of us. She reports that a nonbinding agreement signed in Copenhagen by the major polluting countries to keep the rise in the Earth’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius is a joke: “[greenhouse gas] emissions are rising so rapidly that unless something radical happens within our economic structure, 2 degrees now looks like a utopian dream.” [Note: a 2 degree Celsius temperature increase in the Earth’s average temperature from that of the year 1750—the beginning of the industrial revolution—has been long seen as the most the planet can tolerate before we start having major negative ramifications in natural systems that sustain human and animal life as well as that of many plants; 2 degrees today is generally seen by climatologists and other earth scientists as an increasingly inadequate standard, being too high.]

Klein reports that even the World Bank recognizes we’re on the track for a 4 degree warmer world—by the end of this century—and then quotes Kevin Anderson of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research: “a 4 degrees Celsius warming—7.2 degrees Fahrenheit—is ‘incompatible with any reasonable characterization of an organized, equitable and civilized global community’.”

With this knowledge, why haven’t the peoples of the world mobilized to curtain greenhouse gas emissions? “I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because these things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism...”; “the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold
over our economy, our political process, and most of our media outlets.”

Klein proceeds to detail what’s going on, writing a (brilliant) chapter on the climate change deniers, especially the Chicago-based Heartland Institute. But she does let the liberal-left off the hook, either: “So here’s my inconvenient truth: I think these hard-core ideologues understand the real significance of climate change better than most of the ‘warmists’ in the political center, the ones who are still insisting that the response can be gradual and painless and that we don’t need to go to war with anybody, including the fossil fuel companies.” Further, “[t]he deniers get plenty of the details wrong ...
but when it comes to the scope and depth of change required to avert catastrophe, they are right on the money.”

Ultimately, Klein recognizes that we need to challenge the very cultural worldview of those killing the planet: “What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”
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Klein spends the rest of the book strongly supporting her case. She debunks myths, such as that some “enlightened” capitalist, such as Richard Branson, will save us, or that a technological “fix” will do the trick. (Unfortunately, she missed Bon Joon Ho’s recent movie, “Snowpiercer,” which shows if we don’t get changes right, the result will be chaos.) She eviscerates the idea that fracking is safe, pointing out its extensive release of methane, which is even more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon
dioxide. Her arguments are bold, cogent and to the point. She’s not willing to let people off the hook, and criticizes “magical thinking.”

The third part of her book—the part that focuses on those fighting back as well as those fighting for change—is inspirational. This is the section that gives hope; the realization that those joining the struggle today do not have to start from scratch, but with the knowledge there is a global movement for social and environmental justice. Klein reports from places such as Rumania, Greece, Latin America as well as Native American reservations, and the increasing development of cross-sectoral alliances such as “Cowboys and Indians” on the North American plains.

In this section, she draws attention to something I believe is extremely important: it used to be the extraction industries (mining, oil and gas, etc.) could get their way by limiting the impact to those who were dependent on that industry, especially for jobs. That’s no longer true today, as their search for minerals expands widely, they are now affecting many who are not dependent on their “largesse.” This also means the resistance can expand, as people not dependent on industry can fight back, as well as
support those who are still trapped.

It’s difficult to critique such a powerful book that one thinks should be widely read, but there are two things to which attention should be drawn. First, although she alludes in various places, and even mentions its’ name several times, there’s no real explanation of what she means by “capitalism.”

Most activists will get the hint; for those who come across her book without that prior understanding, however—and especially with her subtitle—this is never explained.

Second, she overwhelmingly focuses her attention on economic processes at the heart of her concern, and I think that is necessary, but I argue it’s not sufficient. Surprisingly, at least to me, there is no discussion of power and the wars in the Middle East that revolve around control of oil. Klein is aware of this, I’m sure, but still, she doesn’t address it. I assume it’s because her work is already over 500 pages (with notes), but future analyses must incorporate this understanding along with that of economics.

This is an important book that deserves to be widely read. Klein’s not willing to put up with the bullshit—are we?
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Kim Scipes, Ph.D., is a long-time activist who has been teaching a course on “Sociology of the Environment” at Purdue University North Central in Westville, Indiana since 2006. Dr. Scipes can be reached through his web site at http://faculty.pnc.edu/kscipes .

 
 
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(Used with permission).
By Tom “Big Warrior” Watts  

Revolutionary-Intercommunalism is the theoretical understanding that the world we live in today, has become globalized and the principle contradiction in the world is now between the need of the capitalist-imperialist ruling class to consolidate their global hegemony and the anarchy and chaos they are unleashing by attempting to do so, including the threat of a new world war. Revolutionary-Intercommunalism recognizes that because of this globalization, independent nation states can no longer exist as such, and cannot exist except as temporarily “liberated territory” besieged and undermined by the forces and agents of capitalist-imperialism.

Revolutionary-Intercommunalism is illuminated by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) and the theory and practice of the original Black Panther Party (BPP) and allied formations in the revolutionary upsurge of the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s; and in particular the theoretical contributions of the BPP’s Minister of Defense, Huey P. Newton. Comrade Huey summed up that because of automation, the capitalist-imperialists would increasingly be unable to profitably exploit a growing percentage of the proletariat as wage workers, and this growing mass of “unemployables” would eventually become the majority of the population. He further theorized that the lumpen (broken) proletariat would provide the basis for a new revolutionary vanguard that would act as a catalyst upon the whole proletariat and masses of people to inspire them to rise up against and overturn the capitalist-imperialist system.

When we apply this analysis on a world scale, we see that large-scale capitalist agriculture has rendered the small-scale production of the peasant class obsolete, and that it is pushing the peasantry off the land and into the proletariat, as they have nothing left but to sell their labor power to survive, while at the same time the employed section of the proletariat is shrinking. Thus, throughout the “Third World” there is a growing mass of “unemployable” and marginalized poor concentrated in and around the urban centers living under dire conditions, or being compelled to emigrate to the “First World” imperialist countries in search of employment, even as industrial jobs are being outsourced to the “Third World” to take advantage of the cheap labor available there. Thus we have a situation of rapidly changing demographics in the “First World” countries.

In this declining phase of capitalist-imperialism, where nations are submerged into Empire, the “mother countries” of imperialism are being transformed into “Third World” countries while capitalist-imperialism is “ghettoizing” the dependant countries of the actual “Third World.” In the four decades since Huey Newton announced his Theory of Revolutionary-Intercommunalism in 1970, we have seen all his predictions come to pass, as well as an eightfold increase in the imprisoned population of the U.S., and the rise of the “New Slavery” of the prison-industrial complex. Moreover, wages have remained at or below what they were in 1970 (when adjusted for inflation), though corporate profits have soared to record highs, and the “Safety Net” of social welfare programs has been dramatically cut back and is in danger of being all together eliminated.

In effect, there is a “War on the Poor,” within the U.S. and internationally, while the ruling class grabs up the lion’s share of the wealth and power for itself and is driven to monopolize control over fuel, food and water globally and to subordinate every country to their economic and political domination.  The concentration of wealth and power into ever fewer hands, and the systematic generalization of poverty, (driving masses below the level of bare subsistence), can only be ended and resolved by World Proletarian Socialist Revolution.
 
The absence of a “Socialist Bloc,” as existed previously under the leadership of the Soviet Union, and later People’s China, emboldens U.S.-led imperialism to bully the world and demand complete subordination to it global hegemony. NATO has been aggressively expanded, and of the 190 some countries in the world, more than 150 now have U.S. military bases and instillations and in many cases integrated military commands. Even though Russia and China are now capitalistic and integrated into the world capitalist system, they are viewed as potential rivals by U.S. imperialism, which demands their complete subordination. Instead of a “Socialist Bloc,” we have a formerly-socialist camp of semi-independent national bourgeois dictatorships clinging to the forlorn hope of achieving their own imperial hegemony in a bi-polar world.

The proletarians of today truly have no country. In every country, we are the oppressed and exploited – or the “broken,” - who have little connection to the global economy except as poor consumers. What we have is a world to win!

Our world is made up of communities in which we live, under the oppression of a growing police state. It is a world where day to day, week to week, and month to month survival is a constant struggle. Even those lucky enough to have jobs live paycheck to paycheck, with bills to pay every month and less to pay them with. We can communicate instantly around the world, (though “Big Brother” is listening), but everywhere we have no voice on the matters that determine our very existence. We share a common culture and economic life, we wear the same clothes and shop for the same things; we can get on a jet plane and fly anywhere in the world in a few hours, but everywhere we are under the same exploitative capitalist empire.

Culture and location define our communities. Neighborhoods, regions and countries define one type of community, and ethnicity, religion and life style define another. There is the gay community, the Black community, the biker community, the hip hop community and so forth. We all live in communities!

Revolutionary-Intercommunalism promotes solidarity between communities, and a culture of resistance to all oppression. In opposition to the “War on the Poor,” it promotes strategies for survival and mutual assistance. In the broadest sense, it promotes a worldwide people’s war against the capitalist empire and the creation of “liberated zones” and “dual power.” In particular, it promotes the transformation of urban oppressed communities into base areas of cultural, social and political revolution, and the creation of “People’s Power” at the grassroots level. In the prisons and other “Slave Pens of Oppression,” it promotes their transformation into “Schools of Liberation,” as well as a united campaign to defeat the imperialists’ strategy of criminalization and mass incarceration of the poor.

The goal of revolutionary-intercommunialism is to overthrow capitalist-imperialism and create a worldwide “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” as a preparatory step towards “World Communism,” classless, stateless, egalitarian society, a world without poverty and war, where everyone has an equal right to access the fruits of our common labor.

ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!   Tom Watts is a former 60"s activist and white panther. Today he is an elder advisor to the prison-based United Panther Movement led by the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter. He is an editor/publisher at Rising Sun Press and lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

 
 
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The following  contains excerpts from McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street | Part VII: The Wolves of Wall Street, to be published on Counterpunch.

September 15, 2014
By Cory Morningstar

As the following information will demonstrate, The People’s Climate March and supporting discourse is about protecting capitalism, not protecting the world’s most vulnerable people from climate change.


The People’s Climate March in New York City is a mobilization campaign created by Avaaz and 350.org, with 350.org at the forefront. The oligarchs do not bankroll such a mobilization (via millions of dollars funnelled through foundations) without reason.

There is an agenda. The information that follows makes the agenda very clear and the only thing green about it is the colour of money. The term “green”, in reference to environment is, officially dead.

PURPOSE?

Background:
Above: Jeremy Heimans of Purpose at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Human Potential conference. | Photo: Taylor Davidson

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc. Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

From October 2011–October 2012 the“Managing Director of Partnerships” for Purpose was Marilia Bezerra. From 2006 to 2011 Bezerra held an integral position within the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) executive leadership. [1]

The secret behind the success of both Avaaz and Purpose is their reliance upon and expertise in behavioural change. While the behavioural change tactics used by Avaaz are on public display, double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise behind the scenes to further the interest of hegemony and capital.  Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by aggressive U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.

Purpose Inc. (with its co-founders) is a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes and sells its consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012, it raised $3m from investors. “Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, reckons it is shaping up to be “one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.” [Source] Purpose, like many other foundations, such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky which merged with 350.org in 2011), also serves as an “incubator of social movements.” [Further reading on Purpose]

Purpose Action’s Board of Directors includes the former campaign director at Avaaz, Brett Solomon and brand strategist Douglas Atkin. Atkin is a Purpose Fellow and previously Partner at Purpose. He is co-founder of Yackit, Meetup Fellow, founder of The Glue Project (“Are they like me?” “Will they like me?”) and author of “The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers.” He’s helped relaunch such brands as Lipitor, Mercedes, BMW, Mastercard and many others. [Source]

Make no mistake, the Yale (for example, Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative *Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the “Avaaz boys” (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including those at the United Nations and the World Bank. Avaaz co-founder Andrea Madden works for the World Bank in Burma [Myanmar]. Her husband is Avaaz co-founder David Madden who has taken up residence in Burma. [March 23, 2013: Western Media Celebrates Faux Progress in Myanmar] Madden has co-founded a marketing firm, Parami Road in Myanmar: “Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work.”
[*Full profile on Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]

One should note that in the case of many NGOs, on 990 tax forms it appears as though those at the helm are paid minimally, if at all. Rather than salaries, many founders of institutions make immense fees via consulting services where their names are not identified on 990 forms. In the case of Avaaz, co-founder Ricken Patel does take a salary (approx. $190,000.00 per year) plus consulting fees. Consulting fees must be considered the bread and butter of many “progressives” whose incomes rival CEOs of multinational corporations. The salaries and incomes are incredible when one accounts for the fact that many NGOs, such as Avaaz, rake in millions of dollars in donations from well-intentioned and hard-working citizens who are at or below the poverty line.

[Full profile of Ricken Patel: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]

Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]

On the Rockefeller Foundation website under the article titled How to Scale Up the Impact? Heimans is identified as a panelist for “scaling community conservation solutions at the World Wildlife Fund’s Annual Kathryn Fuller Symposium.” (Incidentally, to illustrate the link between the faux green economy and its infusion with current consumer principles, Heimans is empanelled with an associate from retail giant, Costco Wholesale, at the symposium.) WWF’s subservience to Monsanto and the oligarchs as a whole – at a cost to vulnerable campesinos and all life on the planet – is well-documented in the eye-opening and explosive documentary  WWF – Silence of the Pandas.

The many facets of Purpose:

1) Purpose (tax identification number 68-0607622) is a for-profit certified B-corporation “that uses an innovative model to pool some of the world’s leading experts and practitioners in order to fund, launch and accelerate the growth of new social movement organizations.”

2) Purpose Action (tax identification number 45-2451509), the non-profit arm of Purpose, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization “focused on changing policy.” Purpose Action Board of Directors includes Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp! [2]

3) Purpose Foundation (tax identification number 27-3106760) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization “focused on education and changing culture.” [3]

4) Purpose Campaign (tax identification number 68-0607622) “Develops social and consumer movements.”

Heimans, like his co-founders at Avaaz, has close relationships with those at the helm of the push toward the illusory green economy, including Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and Richard Branson who has founded the B Team, of which Heimans serves as a “team member“. [Further reading on The B Team can be found in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.] Note that Avaaz and 350.org were the first two NGOs signed on to the 2009 Havas Advertising campaign TckTckTck. TckTckTck succeeded in successfully undermining the radical emissions reductions required, put forward by the State of Bolivia and the G77 at COP15. More recently Avaaz, 350.org and Greenpeace joined hands to form the NGO SumOfUs. [Further reading: SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not]

Like so many other left “progressives” jumping on board the “socially responsible investment” industry, Heimans is no exception, serving on the advisory board of Leap Frog Investments. [Source] On September 29, 2012 a media release announced “The Vital Few” – a new social media platform for The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, an online forum to link individuals who are concerned about their pension fund investments directed towards the fossil fuel industry. The release included statements from both Kelly Rigg (TckTckTck) and Heimans. Supported by the head of the global trade union movement and other key civil society groups the platform, called ‘The Vital Few,’ will allow pension fund members to drive transparency and accountability in a $60 trillion industry that has become the largest pool of investment capital in the world…. The Vital Few initiative, by starting with the issue of climate risk, is a milestone in helping restore genuine ownership to capitalism.”

The Strategy of “Changing Everything”


Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan

In the video published on November 21, 2012, Heimans discloses that the “demand for the green economy is in a rut” during a lecture on Purpose’s innovative model of “movement entrepreneurship.” He states:

In the following Tedx talk (published September 7, 2012) the goal and the campaign to achieve the goal is made clear: kill “green” marketing (including the key term “green economy,” in order to push forward the green economy – without saying as much.

Heimans states:

It is worth repeating: “Sustainable consumption just isn’t working right now as we’ll talk about in a moment. We’re going to have to kill green as a frame for consumers in order to try to rework that problem.”

Hence – you have the new terminology agreed upon and already being employed by both the foundations and the non-profit-industrial complex: The “new economy.”

Heimans continues:

Heimans summarizes the methodology.
Heimans’ last remark is key: “If we can do this, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share and we can give people a sense they’re part of something much bigger we’ll build the green economy, we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.”
Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan

Subservience to Empire and Hegemony

Above: Disruption movie marketing poster. “Green” is out. “New” is in. This is the strategy that is to change everything.

Clearly, the shift of emphasis is toward this “market share”. Note the following statement on the September 4, 2014 350.org press release, World Premiere of “Disruption,” New Climate Documentary with Van Jones, Chris Hayes, Naomi Klein, and More:

“Green” is out. “New” (see Disruption marketing poster above) is in. This is the strategy that is to change everything.

Also from the press release:

“The world premiere of Disruption in New York City is the flagship for hundreds of screenings taking place around the country on Sunday. A panel discussion will follow the premiere.

“Panelists will include (more detail at base of email):

  • Ricken Patel – Executive Director – org
  • Eddie Bautista – Executive Director – New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
  • Keya Chatterjee – Director, Renewable Energy and Footprint Outreach – WWF
“‘In the past, masses of people have taken the wheel of history and turned it,’ says author Naomi Klein in the film. ‘We have a responsibility to rise to our historic moment.'”

The film features Avaaz’s Ricken Patel, WWF‘s Keya Chatterjee and 350.org board member Van Jones. Note 350.org’s relentless co-opting of the civil rights movement leaders, who are utilized to market their campaigns at the beginning of the trailer. It is somewhat fitting is that at 12 seconds in CIA’s Gloria Steinem is featured. The trailer and film seeks to inspire the global mobilizations that Purpose has been funded to create.

It is incredible (as in, difficult to believe) that today’s biggest shills for the Empire of the 21st century double as the iconic symbols of progressive change and activism for the so-called left. Aldous Huxley often expressed a deep concern that citizens could become subjugated via refined use of the mass media. His fears were most prophetic. There is little doubt that if he were alive today, even he would be taken aback by the sheer “success” and madness of it. [Further reading: On the Eve of an Illegal Attack on Syria, Avaaz/350.org Board Members Beat the Drums of War]

Citizens who claim they wish to protect our shared environment must educate themselves on the role of foundation funding and the key NGOs (350.org, Avaaz, Purpose, WWF, etc.) being heavily financed to implement the illusory green new economy. Joan Roeloff’s exceptional book, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, is a good place to start. If we are unwilling to do this work collectively, perhaps we deserve everything the oligarchs are designing for us and intend for us in the future. There will be tears.

As an example of Purpose’s work to build acquiescence and a normalization of the green new economy, we can look at Purpose’s work for Audi. The task at hand is how to take the human right to access clean water, and turn it into a commodity market that the public will embrace: “[Purpose Inc.] helps them to build mass movements to support their favourite causes. Audi, for example, wants to design and promote machines to dispense clean water in India, a market where it hopes to burnish its car brand.” Media is utilized to present the water ATM as an affordable benefit for the disenfranchised, underprivileged and poor: “The perception that rural people won’t pay for quality services is wrong, says Anand Shah, CEO of Sarvajal, an initiative by the Piramal Foundation to find mass-market solutions to India’s water crisis. “They want to be part of modern society. After a water ATM is set up, 15-20 % of the people immediately start buying water. They like to claim ‘we have a water ATM.'” The idea of clean fresh water for all, as a human right, rather than an “affordable” commodity, will quickly disappear as fast as the drinking fountains one used to find in our communities not that long ago. One must note that today, we find corporations writing many of their own articles for media, who in turn present them as journalism. Round and round we go.

We can assume this business model will be employed across the board. Purpose tells the story that entices the purchase, Purpose mobilizes the movements building on the foundation of the story, and Purpose receives their referral fee in the mail.

What you are about to witness is the global mobilization of “consumers” to be ushered into the green economy, without SAYING it is the green economy. The climate parade in NYC, coinciding with the release of 350’s Naomi Klein’s new book, is the launching pad.

The kings and queens of hegemony have rolled the dice and placed their bets on Avaaz, 350.org and Naomi Klein (350.org board member) to usher in the illusory green economy under the guise of a so-called “new economy.” Their winning bet is that author Naomi Klein’s latest book will be the vehicle that ignites their new economy, and thus “changes everything.”

It is not by accident that foundation-financed “progressive” media and those within the non-profit industrial complex are heavily promoting Klein’s upcoming book release with multiple side events. It is not by accident that Avaaz’s latest petition titled The Global People’s Climate March has strategically modified the This Changes Everything book title to “Join to Change Everything” and “To change everything, it takes everyone.” Note the similar language employed by WWF: “To change everything, we need everyone.”

The tragedy is that Americans appear incapable of building a legitimate movement on a foundation of knowledge and disciplined, resolute minimalism. There is no better example of this than the lifestyle of former left-wing guerrilla and current president of Uruguay, José Mujica. Rather, as a culture cultivated on greed and individualism, we swallow the illusion (lie) that the only way out of our suicidal economic system is through more consumption – with consumption this time around being branded with an ethical veneer. It’s as though consumption has devoured our psyche and we are unable to escape it. Like sadistic prisoners of our own doing, we have trapped ourselves in a cage as “consumers” (the term Purpose Inc. uses for citizens) and have chosen to throw away the key.

The goal must be to weaken and sabotage the existing power structures until they collapse. When we lend our voices to the non-profit industrial complex, by extension we strengthen hegemony, capitalism and imperialism, ensuring our continued enslavement and, ensuring the annihilation of most all life on our shared planet.

We need to start thinking, stop consuming, and start living.

+++

The Behavioural Change Dream Team:

·         Full profile of Jeremy Heimans: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

·         Full profile of David Madden: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

·         Full profile of James Slezak: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section III [link]

Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

Download this article as a PDF: ThisChangesNothing_v1

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

Endnotes:

[1] As Clinton Global Initiative director of commitments, Bezerra led the redesign of member engagement and commitments services into a year-round operation. From 2007 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of sponsorship manager of the Clinton Global Initiative where she directly managed five major sponsorship accounts, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Procter & Gamble, valued at over $2 million dollars. From 2006 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of Commitment Development Senior Manager for the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2009, Bezerra was Deputy Director of Commitments for the Clinton Global Initiative. Bezerra took a central role in building the Clinton Global Initiative from its start-up. The Clinton Global Initiative was integral to the creation and funding of the Rockefellers’ incubator project 1Sky, now merged with 350.org (which was also integral to the creation of 1Sky). The CGI is a partner to 350.org/1Sky. Bill Clinton is recognized as a notable ally.

Bezerra is the CEO and Founder of Aldeia Works, board member of Breakthrough and serves as an advisor to Inspiring Capital. In New York, Bezerra also served as the business and financial manager for AEA Consulting, “a management consulting company with a client base of leading nonprofit cultural organizations throughout Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Bezerra is a board member of Rhize, (March, 2014 to present; http://www.rhize.org/) whose stated mission is “building a global community driving peoplepowered democracy around the world.” She also serves on the board of Atikus Insurance (January 2014 to present; http://www.atikusinsurance.com/) and as a “Strike Team Member” of the ForeSight Group.

[2] Purpose Action Board of Directors: Jon Huggett, founding chair of Social Innovation Exchange, former partner at The Bridgespan Group and Bain & Company; Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org and former senior director of media programs at GLAAD; Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp!; Douglas Atkin, director of community at Airbnb, former chief community officer of Meetup, author of The Culting of Brands; Andre Banks, executive director of Purpose Foundation, former strategy director at Purpose and former deputy director of ColorOfChange.org; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp! [Source]

[3] Purpose Foundation Board of Directors: Carla Sutherland, research scholar at Columbia University’s Gender and Sexuality Law Center’s Engaging Tradition Project, former program officer at Ford Foundation and Arcus Foundation; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp!; Michael Evans, president of Moynihan Station Development Corporation and former chief of staff to the Lieutenant Governor of New York State. [Source]| Purpose Foundation’s organizational documents and annual reports on Form 990 can be found here.