Wednesday, April 28, 2010

$18,000 per arrestee won in historic lawsuit--filing info

Were you arrested at IAC demonstration on April 15, 2000 in Washington, D.C.?
$14 Million Suit Won against Illegal Arrests
$18,000 to each arrestee – IF you file before May 17, 2010!
Spread the Word!
Ten years ago this month, the International Action Center initiated a major demonstration focused on the Prison Industrial Complex. It was held on in front of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington , D.C. The march was called to take place on April 15, the day before militant actions to oppose the criminal policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which were meeting in that city; thousands of youth took part in those protests. 
The IAC rally demanded freedom for all political prisoners, including Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier. It sought to draw the attention of the international media -- which was gathering to hear the bankers and financiers at the IMF/World Bank meeting -- to the millions of prisoners held captive in U.S. dungeons. 
The IAC aimed to deepen class consciousness and to link a militant current of new activists to solidarity with the most oppressed African-American, Latino/a and Native American prisoners. Although the demonstration was a legally permitted protest, the public focus on the institutionalized racism of the prison system itself presented a major and intolerable challenge to the state's repressive apparatus. 
After the rally ended at the Department of (In)justice, the march proceeded to the IMF building. Suddenly, and without warning or an order to disperse, the Washington , D.C. , police closed the streets and arrested 700 protesters, along with some members of the media and passersby. Many arrestees were held for 18 to 24 hours in police buses and holding cells, painfully handcuffed wrist-to-ankle in cramped positions. 
There was widespread media coverage of the police sweep and massive arrests of demonstrators as they marched to the IMF building.  
The IAC was determined to expose the pre-emptive and disruptive attacks on a legal demonstration and to publicize the massive illegal arrests. The organization was not going to allow the flagrant violation of the rights of freedom of speech and assembly to go unchallenged. 
IAC activists painstakingly gathered the names and detailed depositions of many of the arrestees. They provided this information, along with extensive video footage, and hundreds of photographs, to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund attorneys, who filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those arrested.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund diligently persevered and successfully sued the District of Columbia and won the largest class-action settlement of protester claims in U.S. history, totaling nearly $14 million. It insures that each class member can file a claim to receive $18,000 in financial compensation, that the arrests will be expunged, and that all arrestees who join in the settlement will receive a court order declaring their arrest null and void.  
Several lead plaintiffs in this case have already pledged to donate their funds from the settlement to the IAC to continue its 19-year legacy of organizing against war, racism and corporate bailouts, and for jobs and human needs. 
How to file a claim
Those who can file a claim are "all persons who were detained and arrested on April 15, 2000 near the area of 20th Street, NW and I and K Streets, Washington D.C. , in connection with the protest against the Prison Industrial Complex during the IMF/World Bank demonstrations."  
The funds will be distributed through a Class Administrator; the toll-free number is 1-877-567-4780. Claim forms can be downloaded at Mail them to: Becker v. District of Columbia Administrator, c/o Gilardi & Co. LLC, P.O. Box 8060 , San Rafael , CA 94912-8060 . The deadline for filing all claims for financial compensation is May 17. 
Those who filed forms to be included in the lawsuit filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund are not automatically included in this settlement. Each individual arrested must file a new Proof of Claim Form and mail it to the Class Administrator at the above address before May 17. This is the only way to receive the $18,000 settlement. Otherwise, unclaimed funds will revert to the government. 
The IAC wants to help insure that all individuals who were arrested on April 15, 2000, in Washington , D.C. , receive their fair share of the settlement. The IAC has set up a special phone number -- 347-828-3430 -- and email address -- -- to directly answer your questions and to help you file your claim form.  The IAC encourages calls and emails concerning this urgent matter.
Also, contact information, comments and questions for the IAC about the lawsuit or how to file a claim can also be posted at
The IAC wants to help confirm that everyone who is entitled to a financial settlement receives the allocated funds over the next two years. So, please keep the IAC informed about the status of your claim.
Even for those who have filed their claim forms and are confident that they are part of the settlement, let the IAC know. IAC organizers will return all calls and emails inquiring about the lawsuit settlement. Please forward this email to your friends, other activists or anyone who could be a claimant.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thinking 'Bout Boycotting the "Xenophobe State"?

HERE ARE SOME MAJOR Arizona corporations if you have an inclination to do
a little boycotting:

Apollo Group (University of Phoenix). Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

Cold Stone Creamery. Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Discount Tire Company. Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Go Daddy. Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Mesa Air Group (Mesa Airlines, Go!, Freedom Airlines). Headquarters:
Phoenix, Arizona

P. F. Chang's China Bistro. Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

Pet Smart. Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

U-Haul. Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

US Airways. Headquarters: Tempe, Arizona

Head of Goldman Sachs claims "Social Purpose"
JOHN ARLIDGE, TIMES, UK - Number 85 Broad Street, a dull, rust-coloured
office block in lower Manhattan, doesn't look like a place to stop and
stare, and that's just the way the people who work there like it. The men
and women who arrive in the watery dawn sunshine, dressed in Wall Street
black, clutching black briefcases and BlackBerrys, are very, very private.
They walk quickly from their black Lincoln town cars to the lobby, past,
well, nothing, really. There's no name plate on the building, no sign on
the front desk and the armed policeman stationed outside isn't saying who
works there. There's a good reason for the secrecy. Number 85 Broad
Street, New York, NY 10004, is where the money is. All of it. . .

Number 85 Broad Street is the home of Goldman Sachs. . . . . Here,
politicians and commentators compete to denounce Goldman in ever more
robust terms - "robber barons", "economic vandals", "vulture capitalists".
. . . It's even worse in the US. There, Rolling Stone magazine ran a story
that described Goldman as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face
of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that
smells like money. . .

Being the prime target for popular and political outrage could put Goldman
first in line for draconian new regulation. So it has, reluctantly,
decided that the time has come to speak out, to fight its corner. That's
how, on one of those bright autumnal New York mornings when anything seems
possible - even an invitation to break bread with the masters of the
universe - I find myself walking past the security guard who held up
Michael Moore and into the building with no name.

"Aha! You catch us plotting in real time," says Lloyd Blankfein, breaking
away from a cabal of senior executives discussing his trip to Washington
the previous day. Blankfein, 55, Goldman's chairman and chief executive,
is wearing a grey suit with a jaunty Hermes tie with little red bicycles
on it. In his hand, he's carrying one of those cups of coffee that look
bigger than the human stomach. . .

He starts with a little humility. He understands that "people are pissed
off, mad, and bent out of shape" at bankers' actions. Goldman played its
part in the meltdown that almost destroyed the global financial system.
It, like most other banks, lent too much money, made its first quarterly
loss for more than a decade last year and ended up taking bail-out cash
from Washington. "I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer,"
he says. But then, he slowly begins to argue the case for modern banking.
"We're very important," he says, abandoning self-flagellation. "We help
companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow
create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more
growth and more wealth. It's a virtuous cycle." To drive home his point,
he makes a remarkably bold claim. "We have a social purpose.". . .

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Sam Smith, Progressive Review

Greed, theft, fraud, lies and fiscal manipulation are par for the course
for today's Wall Street mobsters, but Peter G. Peterson does them one
better: he has used his excessive financial gains to try to ruin the lives
of millions of American through the imposition of rightwing theories of
budgeting and slashing Social Security. It's not just that his ideas are
bad, it's that much of the media - such as the Washington Post and Charlie
Rose - regularly suck up to him and that his capos have infiltrated the
top levels of the Obama administration. So don't be too distracted by the
more colorful scoundrels, it's the respeciable looking ones like Peterson
who may really do you in.

DEAN BAKER, GUARDIAN - The latest round of attacks on Social Security and
Medicare are especially pernicious because they come at a time when the
baby boom cohorts have just seen much of their wealth disappear due to the
collapse of the housing bubble and the stock market plunge. Tens of
millions of baby boomers who thought they were well-prepared for
retirement two years ago, now find themselves with little or no home
equity and very little left in their retirement funds. As a result, they
will be almost totally dependent on Social Security and Medicare.

The attacks are made even worse by the fact that the attackers, people
like Robert Rubin and Peter Peterson, promoted policies that led to this
collapse and personally profited to the tune of tens or even hundreds of
millions of dollars. In other words, after pushing the economy into a
severe recession and destroying the life's savings of tens of millions of
working families, the Wall Street crew now wants to take away their Social
Security and Medicare. This can almost make killing your parents look like
a petty offence.

ROBERT KUTTNER, PROSPECT - Fiscal conservatives in Congress hope to hold
recovery spending hostage for long-term caps on social outlay, and they
have some company in the White House. Groups like the billion-dollar Peter
G. Peterson Foundation are leading the charge.

For a quarter-century, Peterson has been exaggerating long-term costs of
Social Security and Medicare. In truth, Social Security is close to
balance -- its 75-year projected deficit is just one-half of 1 percent of
gross domestic product. Medicare is seriously in deficit, but reform of
Medicare consistent with high-quality health care depends on tackling the
deeper drivers of medical inflation.

WILLIAM GREIDER, THE NATION - He's baaack -- the Wall Street billionaire
who wants to loot Social Security. This time, Pete Peterson has invented
his own "news network" to promote his right-wing rants about shrinking the
only retirement security system available to millions of working people.
Peterson styles himself as a patriot saving the nation from fiscal
insolvency and has committed $1 billion to that cause (a chunk of the
wealth he accumulated at Blackstone Group, the notorious
corporate-takeover firm). His efforts might be dismissed as ludicrous --
except money does talk in Washington, and Peterson is now buying
Washington reporters to spread his dire warnings.

The retired mogul has created a digital news agency he dubs "The Fiscal
Times" and hired eight seasoned reporters to do the work there. "An
impressive group of veteran journalists," Peterson calls them. . .

With his great wealth, Peterson could have also bought a newspaper to
publish his dispatches, but he did better than that. He hooked up with the
Washington Post, which has agreed to "jointly produce content focusing on
the budget and fiscal issues." The newspaper is thus compromising its own
integrity. It's like buying political propaganda from a Washington
lobbyist, then printing it in the news columns as if it was just another
news story.

The first TFT "dispatch" to appear in the Post -- "Support grows for
tackling nation's debt" -- made no mention of Peterson's crusade. But it
featured the same devious gimmick the financier has been peddling around
Washington. Congress should create a special commission of eighteen
senators and representatives empowered to make the "tough" budget
decisions politicians are loathe to face -- slashing benefits, raising
payroll taxes or both. Other members of Congress would be prohibited from
changing any of the particular measures, and would cast only an up-or-down
vote on the entire package, no amendments allowed. . .

So why do the TFT reporters (Elaine Povich and Eric Pianin) zero in on old
folks and Social Security or entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid?
Because those are Pete Peterson's favorite targets. He has flogged Social
Security as a blight on our future for at least twenty years. He is a nut
on the subject. His "facts" are wildly distorted or simply not true. Never
mind, the establishment press portrays him as a disinterested statesman.

This crusade is dangerous for the people because the "respectables" in
governing circles and both parties embrace the same reactionary logic.
Does government have money problems? Don't restore the progressive income
tax on the wealthy or capital, don't cut away some of the corporate boodle
in the federal budget -- that politics is too difficult. Instead, let's
whack Social Security while folks aren't watching.

ROBERT KUTTNER, WASHINGTON POST - With the enactment of a large economic
stimulus package, fiscal conservatives are using the temporary deficit
increase to attack a perennial target -- Social Security and Medicare. . .

The Peterson Foundation is joined by leading "blue dog" (anti-deficit)
Democrats such as House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South
Carolina and his counterpart in the Senate, Kent Conrad of North Dakota.
The deficit hawks are promoting a "grand bargain" in which a bipartisan
commission enacts spending caps on social insurance as the offset for
current deficits. . .

NY TIMES - President-elect Barack Obama said that overhauling Social
Security and Medicare would be "a central part" of his administration's
efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he
would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs. . .

DEAN BAKER - If Obama is successful he will have damaged two of the most
successful programs ever devised by the Democratic Party. He will receive
plaudits from the corporate media such as the NY Times, Washington Post
and Wall Street Journal and from his major backers on Wall Street. But for
other Americans it will be a continuation of the decay of social democracy
that flourished under FDR and LBJ and has been collapsing (along with our
economy and world standing) under Reagan, the Bushes and Clinton.

On the other hand, the game is a little different than when the Pete
Petersons and others started their war on Social Security. Then it was
possible to play the young against the old, blaming the latter for the
former's difficulties. But the fiscal collapse has changed all that, and
many more younger Americans may realize that its not senior citizens who
are the problem, but senior officials and their campaign contributors.

SAM SMITH, PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - If Obama is successful he will have
damaged two of the most successful programs ever devised by the Democratic
Party. He will receive plaudits from the corporate media such as the NY
Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal and from his major backers
on Wall Street. But for other Americans it will be a continuation of the
decay of social democracy that flourished under FDR and LBJ and has been
collapsing (along with our economy and world standing) under Reagan, the
Bushes and Clinton.

On the other hand, the game is a little different than when the Pete
Petersons and others started their war on Social Security. Then it was
possible to play the young against the old, blaming the latter for the
former's difficulties. But the fiscal collapse has changed all that, and
many more younger Americans may realize that its not senior citizens who
are the problem, but senior officials and their campaign contributors.

DEAN BAKER - The deficit hawks, led by Wall Street investment banker Peter
Peterson, either did not see the bubble or chose to ignore it. They ran
around the country in the peak years of the housing bubble yelling about
"fiscal irresponsibility" even as the housing bubble was growing to ever
more dangerous level. They used their money and their political standing
to dominate public debate and crowd out those of us who were trying to
warn about the bubble. There were numerous television shows, radio shows
and news stories devoted to their dire warnings about the deficit. . .

If the Wall Street deficit hawk crew hadn't dominated public debate on
economic issues as the bubble was building, perhaps those of us warning of
the bubble could have been heard. Maybe momentum would have grown to burst
the bubble before it reached such dangerous levels.

Ironically, the collapse of the bubble was even a disaster from the
standpoint of the issue that concerns the deficit hawks most: the deficit.
The deficits that the nation is incurring as a result of the collapse of
the housing bubble are projected to have added more than $4 trillion to
the national debt by the end of this decade.

The people who allowed for this bubble to grow unchecked should be
incredibly embarrassed and certainly should be apologetic about laying the
basis for this wreckage. It is difficult to envision a more serious policy

But no, the deficit hawks are as sanctimonious as ever. They are running
around as though nothing happened. They are still preaching the exact same
lines to the public that they did before the collapse of the bubble, but
now with greater urgency due to the damage to the government's balance
sheet caused by the downturn.

The media should be jumping on deficit hawks like Peterson, asking him why
anyone should take him seriously now when he was so incredibly and
disastrously wrong about the economy just a few years ago. Unfortunately,
Peterson doesn't get questions like that; he just gets praise for his
willingness to try to take Social Security and Medicare away from retired

The problem is that Peterson has billions of dollars. To the national
media and other actors in national policy debates, Peterson's wealth
matters much more than whether or not what he is saying makes sense. That
is good news for Peterson, but really bad news for the rest of us.

DEAN BAKER - It is worth noting that Peterson has a long history of being
wrong in a big way about major economic issues. For example, in the 90s he
argued for partially privatizing Social Security as a way to increase
benefits. If Congress had taken his advice, beneficiaries today would be
receiving much lower benefits.

Peterson also argued that the consumer price index, the main measure of
inflation, substantially overstates inflation. Based on this claim,
Peterson wanted to reduce the size of the annual cost of living adjustment
to Social Security. Peterson's proposed cut would reduce benefits for
older retirees by more than 20 percent. This is a major cut for the
two-thirds of seniors who rely on Social Security for more than half of
their income.

While Peterson used the claim that the CPI overstates inflation as a basis
for cutting Social Security benefits, he never bothered to consider that
this claim implies that incomes are rising much more rapidly than current
data show. In other words, if Peterson had been right in his claim that
the CPI overstated inflation, then our children (the supposed
beneficiaries) would be far richer than we ever imagined possible because
their incomes would be growing so rapidly. However, Peterson was so
anxious to cut Social Security he never bothered thinking through the
implication of his claim.

Now Peterson wants to use the bailout as a pretext for gutting Social
Security and Medicare. There are two important ways in which the Peterson
crew is trying to mislead the public on this issue.

First, the impact of the bailout on the debt is not as large as claimed.
While the government is likely to lose money on these bailouts, it
certainly will not lose everything invested. On the $700 bank bailout, it
is unlikely to lose more than $200 billion to $300 billion. While this is
not trivial, it is less than 2 percent of current GDP. The debt to GDP
fluctuates by this amount all the time without even attracting any
attention. It makes no sense to charge that we have to rethink our core
social insurance programs because the debt to GDP ratio rose by 2
percentage points.

The other point on which the Peterson gang is misleading is the impact of
deficit spending in an economic downturn. Such spending will not make our
children poorer; in fact it is likely to make them wealthier by creating
jobs and boosting the economy.

This point should be easy to see. If the government has a $300 billion
stimulus (raising the debt by $300 billion), then the immediate effect on
the economy will be to increase GDP by around $400 billion (assuming a
well designed stimulus) and give jobs to approximately 4 million workers.
The additional growth will lead to more tax revenues, so that the increase
in the public debt will likely be closer to $240 billion rather than $300

But, even this is not a net loss to our children. While the country will
owe $240 billion more than it would in the absence of stimulus, our
children and grandchildren will also be the beneficiaries of the interest
payments on this debt. (The fact that the money may be paid to foreigners
who own the debt is immaterial, as I'll explain in future writings on this
topic.) In short, there is no good reason not to try to use the government
as a source of demand for the economy during an economic slump like the
one we currently face.
Unfortunately, Mr. Peterson either knows little economics or opts not to
be honest with the public. In this respect it is noteworthy that he
somehow managed to miss the housing bubble and the fact that its collapse
would create the largest financial crisis since World War II. But, Peter
Peterson is not interested in warning the country about the real crises it
faces. He is interested in cutting Social Security and Medicare.