Bernie Sanders is currently running for president. He is pro-equality, pro-choice, feminist, against corporations, against big banks, against war, wants to lower the military budget and reinvest it, in support of raising the minimum wage to an actual living wage, wants to reform education, has a plan to give everyone a completely free college education, wants to create a public jobs program (everyone will have access to have a job from the government), and wants to give undocumented immigrants complete legal documentation, and much more.

He has been in support of all this since before 1972. He isn’t your typical politician, he isn’t corrupt, he doesn’t just say things to get votes, and most importantly he speaks his mind.

He is already the candidate they are saying will become president (yes, even outdoing Hillary).

#BernieSanders2k16 #FeelTheBern

Documents Reveal That The Government Worked With Big Banks To Crackdown On The Occupy Movement

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:

FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.

Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.

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Wall Street bankers are exploiting Citizens United to grow more powerful than ever. That’s why Bernie Sanders is fighting to BREAK UP the big banks and restore power to the American people.

Urge Congress to pass Bernie’s bill to break up the big banks



When Americans think of how the economic rules are stacked against them, they naturally think of Wall Street. 

When the Wall Street bubble burst in 2008 because of excessive risk-taking, millions of working Americans lost their jobs, health insurance, savings, and homes.

But The Street is back to many of its old tricks. And its lobbyists are busily rolling back the Dodd-Frank Act, intended to prevent another crash.

The biggest Wall Street banks are also much larger. In 1990, the five biggest banks had 10 percent of all of the nation’s banking assets. Now, they have 44 percent – more than they had at the time of the 2008 crash.

They have a virtual lock on taking companies public, play key roles pricing commodities, are involved in all major U.S. mergers and acquisitions and many overseas, and responsible for most of the trading in derivatives and other complex financial instruments.  

And as they’ve gained dominance over the financial sector, they’ve become more politically potent. They’re major sources of campaign funds for both Republicans and Democrats.

Wall Street banks supply personnel for key economic posts in Republican and Democratic administrations, and lucrative employment to economic officials when they leave Washington.

It’s a vicious cycle. The bigger they get, the more likely it is that government will bail them out if they get into trouble again. This, in turn, confers on them an ever-larger competitive advantage over smaller, community-minded banks that don’t have the implied guarantee – which gives the biggest banks even more economic and political power.

What should be done?

First, resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment from commercial banking.

Second, put a small sales tax on every financial transaction. This would discourage speculation and slow down the casino. Not incidentally, such a tax could generate billions of dollars a year for, say, better schools.

But the most important thing we should do is bust up the big banks. Any bank that’s too big to fail is too big, period.

Antitrust law should be used the way it was against the big oil trusts and the telephone monopoly. The idea was to prevent too much economic and political power from concentrating in too few hands. And that’s precisely the problem with Wall Street.

The only sure way to stop excessive risk-taking on Wall Street so you don’t risk losing your job or your savings or your home, is to put an end to the excessive economic and political power of Wall Street.

It’s time to bust up the big banks.

Big Banks Secretly Received $7.7 Trillion In Bailout Money Since The Recession, Enough To Eliminate Poverty In America

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

The size of the bailout came to light after Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, won a court case against the Fed and a group of the biggest U.S. banks called Clearing House Association LLC to force lending details into the open.

$7.77 Trillion

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

How Could The Bailout Money Helped Average Americans?

The poverty level for 2013 was set at $23,550 (total yearly income) for a family of four, $11,490 for a single person.

If you split the $7.7 Trillion and equally distribute it to the 313.9 million citizens, every single American would have received $24,530.11, enough to eradicated poverty.

“When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now.

Too big to jail: HSBC financed terrorists, narcotics trafficking & walked away scot-free
December 13, 2012

The New York Times reports this week that megabank HSBC has escaped criminal prosecution for money laundering that probably funded terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Why? Because regulators and prosecutors were petrified that an indictment would undermine the entire financial system. The Times quotes anonymous government sources who confessed fears about bringing formal charges because doing so would be a “death sentence” for the bank. So they let it off the hook.

That’s right, HSBC is officially above the law. Too-big-to-fail has become too-big-to-prosecute. 

A year-long investigation found that the British banking giant had blown right past federal laws by laundering billions of dollars from Mexican drug trafficking and processing banned transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. A Wednesday Times article serves up vivid passages about the shady goings-on, including HSBC officials working closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations. According to the report, “the four-count criminal information filed in the court charged HSBC with failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, to conduct due diligence on its foreign correpsondent affiliates and for violating sanctions and the Trading With the Enemy Act.”

In a statement, the bank said it “will acknowledge that, in the past, we have sometimes failed to meet the standards that regulators and customers expect.” HSBC apologized and promised never, ever to do it again, scout’s honor.

I’m pretty sure I know what would happen to me if I stole a loaf of bread from the corner store. But a big bank can act as financier to freaking terrorists and never worry about things like jail. Funny how a corporation is a person until it breaks the law.

Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a congressional watchdog panel, observed that “the culture at HSBC was pervasively polluted for a long time.” Now we can be certain it will remain so. Criminal activity has been legitimized. In the world of banking, crime pays, big-time.

A number of recent bank scandals, including the Barclays LIBOR rate-fixing revelation, demonstrate that big banks are behaving with blithe disregard for the law and they are avoiding criminal prosecution by paying fines – the cost of doing shady business. The prosecutors and regulators involved in the decision to let HSBC off with a wrist-slapping fine of $1.9 billion (half a quarter’s profit) have officially declared that they are not working in the public interest. They are being paid by taxpayers to protect big banks. Shouldn’t they be on the banks’ payroll?

Simply saying that a bank is too big to prosecute is a travesty of justice. If prosecutors could not charge HSBC, they could charge individuals within the bank. And if they can’t charge HSBC without killing it and endangering the whole system, then something obviously needs to change. Here’s an idea: break up the big banks.

Full article

Do drugs? Go to prison. Lauder billions for drug cartels? Pay a fine & continue business as usual.

They want a showy way to tell #Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right. … I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus … And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called ‘too big to fail’ banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.

The wealth disparity between upper and middle income Americans has hit a record high, according to a new Pew Research Center Report. On average, today’s upper-income families are almost seven times wealthier middle-income ones, compared to 3.4 times wealthier in 1984. When compared to lower income family wealth, upper income family wealth is 70 times larger.

It has come to the point where only the top 10 percent of Americans are seeing their wealth grow while the bottom 90 get less and less of the pie each year. The driving force of this wealth chasm are the top 0.1 percent, who have seen their share of the nation’s wealth grow the most over the past decades, from 7 percent in 1979 to 22 percent today. In fact, the top 0.1 percent are now worth more than the entire bottom 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to the report, which adjusts for the shrinking size of the American family so as to enable comparisons across time periods.

The study also assesses what effect the 2008 financial crisis had on wealth distribution. Although the crisis wreaked havoc across all income levels, its effects have been much more enduring for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Those at the top have managed to recoup their wealth, while middle and lower income families have not made any gains, according to the Pew report. The stock market, on the other hand, has bounced back, surpassing pre-crisis levels, and Wall Street is doing better than ever.

Absurdly huge | Follow ThinkProgress

You Have Been Warned

An Oregon trail to end student debt: “Pay it forward, pay it back” model leaves big banks out of education
July 10, 2013

On July 1, federal student loan rates doubled—yes, doubled—from 3.4 percent to 6.8, after members of Congress went home for fireworks without lifting a finger on the issue. Meanwhile, in Oregon, legislators unanimously passed a bill paving the way for students to attend public universities without paying tuition or taking out traditional loans at all.

Fueled by the organizing savvy, policy creativity, and relentless effort of the state Working Families Party, and by a classroom of outstanding college students, the new bill offers a progressive victory and a common-sense national model on an issue where Congress has recently been derelict at best. The legislation, which Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber is expected to sign, instructs Oregon’s Higher Education Coordination Commission to come up with a “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” public university financing model in time for a legislative vote in 2015.

Under such a model, students pay nothing while in school; instead, after graduation, four-year students pay 3% of their income for the next two decades or so to fund the education of future students—without a role for the big banks. (Those who attend for less time would pay a pro-rated amount.) Once start-up costs are addressed (no small matter), the system could pay for itself. It would ask the most money of those graduates best equipped to pay, and it would represent a huge stride in putting an end to the crushing debt horror stories which Occupy Wall Street helped to place on the national radar.

While victories like Oregon’s are often the result of decade-long campaigns, this incremental step came to pass with a speed that surprised even its most ardent supporters. And it demonstrates the power of unconventional alliances. The “Pay It Forward” approach has been tried in Australia, but not in the United States. It got legs here when John Burbank, who directs the Seattle-based Economic Opportunity Institute, connected with a college class taught by Barbara Dudley, who co-founded the Working Families Party of Oregon. Students in the Portland State University class, “Student Debt: Economics, Policy and Advocacy,” took up a push for “Pay It Forward” as their group project, and the WFP embraced it as a legislative priority. Together, they seized legislators’ attention, and secured their support.

In the process, WFP activists and allies talked to thousands of students, built a coalition ranging from to the faith group Jubilee USA, and won over university administrators. It was a classic “inside-outside” fight, in which the potency of skillful lobbying and common-sense argument were amplified several times over by grassroots firepower. The unanimous vote in favor of the bill can also be credited in part to the WFP’s successful electoral efforts last year, in which the party ousted Oregon’s most conservative Democratic state representative in a primary and helped power another Democrat to victory in a swing district. With the Higher Education Coordination Commission tasked with incubating the plan, and a legislative vote looming in 2015, the WFP has pledged to get to work on ensuring a progressive result from the HECC, and making approval of that plan a major issue in the 2014 campaign.

“We never imagined that we would actually accomplish something like this, and definitely not in such a short time,” student Ariel R. Gruver told The New York TimesThe Times’ Richard Perez-Pena noted that “The speed and unanimity offer a sharp contrast with Washington…” You can say that again. Progressives, who face slow-motion crises on a battery of issues and the ever-present danger of cynicism, could use another reminder that it’s still possible in this political landscape to pass a big, just idea through hard work and visionary organizing. Both will also be necessary if we’re to send a powerful message to members of Congress who just doubled interest rates: Americans deserve much better.

Comic by Matt Bors

What are everyone’s thoughts on this type of model?