Apr 252013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

In response to the Chicago Public Schools’ plan to close more than 50 schools in June, some CPS high school juniors are boycotting the standardized Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) test today.

The state mandates the PSAE and students have to take it in order to graduate, but organizers of the campaign say it’s the students’ First Amendment right to protest the test.

Some of the students and other education activists also plan to give a letter to the Chicago Board of Education in opposition of the district’s school closing proposal.

Here’s more about why some students are skipping the test:

Yesterday, Chicago Public Schools officials sent letters home and robo-called the homes of students urging that parents send their children to school today.

The district also released a statement about the continued concerns surrounding the effect the school closure plan will have on the safety of students:

Ensuring the safety and security of our students is CPS’s top priority. That’s why we continue to partner with the Chicago Police Department, as well as community- and faith-based organizations, to create customized safety plans for each welcoming school. This will include an expansion of our successful Safe Passage program, in which Safe Passage workers stand post along safe routes that are specially designed by CPS and CPD. These workers know their neighborhood and provide the extra set of eyes and ears to proactively identify and report safety risks. Since 2009, Safe Passage has resulted in increased attendance, fewer in-school incidents and decreased criminal activity around Safe Passage routes and the schools they serve.

Chicago Student’s Boycott Information:

Find out more, contact us at: 
csosos.chicago@gmail.com
www.facebook.com/csosos

Check out Brian Sturgis Youth Leader
https://soundcloud.com/csosos/brian-s…

Links to know your rights at CPS
http://www.cps.edu/Documents/Resource…

VOYCE Coordinator Emma Tai
http://dianeravitch.net/2013/04/21/ch…

Check me out
https://www.facebook.com/ARCADEKID1

Follow them on twitter @ChiStudentsOrg
hash-tag #cpsboycott

All music is third party own by Eminem: Lose Yourself

Created By Tre-Walker

Source: ABC 7

SOLIDARITY TO CHICAGO STUDENTS!

Dec 292012
 

 An Interview with Luc Frieden, Finance Minister of Luxembourg

By Iddhis Bing, 99GetSmart

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden

Of great wealth there is no real use, except in its distribution, the rest is just conceit. Francis Bacon

Tax havens and fiscal paradises, what they are and how they work, are the subject of the Invisible Money series. Some 67 trillion USD moves in and out of what is now called the “shadow banking system,” a staggering amount, enough to put EU or US budgets back in surplus if it were properly accounted for. (As if, you sigh.) The series has taken a close look at Luxembourg, a notorious tax haven, and how it manages to operate within the structure of European Union governance. Switzerland gets the bad press and deservedly so – but it is not a member of the EU. Luxembourg is, and so, beyond the dubious legality of its tax regime, questions concerning exchange of information and cooperation between EU states are unavoidable, as well as its membership in international bodies like the OECD.  (Ireland and Liechtenstein also come to mind as a kind of Premiere League of EU tax havens.)

As noted elsewhere in the series, Luc Frieden is public point man for Luxembourg’s ingenious interpretation of European law. Frieden is the heir apparent in Luxembourg and he, not Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, takes the lead in the tricky business of fending off attacks on Luxembourg’s status quo. He is on record as saying, “Our financial approach is totally European and applies all laws in the struggle against financial criminality.” But what goes on in Luxembourg, stays in Luxembourg.

Readers of Nicholas Shaxson’s Treasure Islands will remember more than one instance of the rebuffs inquiring reporters got when asking around about who’s who and how things work. Things can even get lethal in places like the Cayman Islands or at the very least, damn unpleasant if you ask too many questions on the isle of Jersey. Hence, getting the top dog to answer questions is a bit of a coup.

Although there is no “gotcha” moment in the interview, it is instructive to watch a member of what used to be called the permanent government bob and weave, fending off attacks and keeping the truth at a comfortable remove. Governors of fiscal paradises only rarely make a public defense of their actions. This short transcript serves as an open window into a closed house.

The interview with Luc Frieden is part of Edouard Perrin’s documentary. It can be seen in full here

Elise Lucet is the interviewer for the Cash Investigations series. Lucas Frieden is the Minister of Finance in Luxembourg’s Juncker/Asselborn government and is the man in charge of their extremely laissez faire fiscal regime, which, one is inclined to believe, he knows something about.

*

Cash Investigations: We’ve seen a lot of those documents. They cover Liechtenstein, the Caymen Islands and… Luxembourg. If we’re talking about tax havens, we find you, Luxembourg, in the middle of those schemes.

Lucas Frieden: We abide by European law, which is not the case with all the countries you just mentioned. We should be compared to the UK and the Netherlands.

CI: So you reject the term tax haven?

LF: Absolutely. It’s an insult to my country because Luxembourg abides by every single OECD convention and we work in close cooperation with every single EU state. You cannot prove that Luxembourg does not adhere to EU law.

CI: But we’ve seen all the [tax haven] schemes and you’re in league with those countries. You say it’s an insult to your country to be called a tax haven but you are always mentioned with those other countries. So, according to you, are Liechtenstein and the Caymens fiscal paradises?

LF: I’m not sufficiently versed in the tax laws of those countries or regions to be able to judge.

CI: You’re kicking off-side.

LF: No, I don’t want to judge in a superficial manner.

CI: If a large French company makes use of a subsidiary in Luxembourg, a non-active subsidiary, and succeeds in avoiding taxes in France, what happens?

LF: If it’s contrary to European law, and if the French mention it to us, I will take care to make sure it doesn’t happen.

CI: You won’t bring it up yourself?

LF: I would only be aware of it if the French tell me there’s a problem.

CI: You can guess that this presents a problem -

LF: You suppose that it’s always that way but you never raise a question about whether a contrary might exist. When laws are not the same in every single country, it is highly possible that a company in another country reduces their taxes somewhere else through a subsidiary. It’s not against the law. If there are abuses, I will make sure they are stopped because I don’t want to live off another country, to which we owe so much and with which we enjoy excellent relations.

CI: So you will stay with this approach?

LF: Absolutely.

CI: If you pledge that in the future there will be contact between your country and other countries and say, here we are, we are going to sign these agreements, would that not be to the detriment of the services you offer?

LF: I could imagine that that could be one way of doing things. Once again, with respect to European law, to enhance cooperation between European countries -

CI: So, according to you it’s a bit shocking -

LF: The way you present things, yes, because it suggests that people escape their own legislation.

CI: That’s the impression we got. Frankly, we looked at the activity of those companies, British and French, in your country, and they are not strikingly active here in Luxembourg. What is striking is the absence of real activity here in your country.

LF: I am not an expert regarding shell companies but one does not need to have many employees to be able to say it’s a real company. There are rules, European and OECD rules, regarding a stable company.

CI: When a French company has an office which it shares along with 31 other subsidiaries and where, quite blatantly, nothing goes on except for financial movement, for you as Finance Minister in Luxembourg, is this something you find shocking? I need to know your real position on this.

LF: Yes. If the description you made is accurate, I find it unacceptable.

CI: When the ATAs allow GlaxoSmithKline, for example, to avoid paying 40 million in taxes in their country, it’s a problem, isn’t it?

LF: Yes, I agree.

CI: By the way, it created problems with Revenue in the UK.

LF: Yes. I fully understand that but we have to know what the solution to such problems would be because creating subsidiaries is not illegal per se.

CI: If they are void of any real substance, it raises serious questions.

LF: Yes.

*

Apart from his sterling manners, Frieden’s defense essentially reduces to I have no way of knowing and when pushed, prove we’re breaking the rules – all of which beggars belief coming from the mouth of a government minister. It hardly seems enough – but it’s working. Interestingly, Frieden points his finger – correctly – at the UK, by which he means the City of London, certainly the greatest facilitator of illegal cash flows in the world today. (We’re just small fry around here.)

And as we shall surely see sooner rather than later, everyone is involved, from pop stars to budget ministers. Does that mean Luc Frieden again ? No, Jérôme Cahuzac in France. When Perrin’s documentary won the Louise Wiese Award, the French journalist Paul Moreira said in dismay, “Edouard Perrin’s stunning investigation wins the Louise Weiss Prize and the Budget Ministry completely fails to react… We’re not talking about peanuts but tens of billions of Euros. It could give the Budget Ministry a few ideas.” In early December the website Mediapart published an inadvertant phone recording of Budget Minister Cahuzac discussing his secret Swiss account. (Not enough to cost him his position, so the experts say. Even Copé has rushed to his defense.) Pardon the Minister if he doesn’t get too tough on Luxembourg. He understands the need for secrecy, for putting a little aside for a rainy day. And dammit, if he had just hung up the phone correctly, none of this would be public. The Cahuzac interlude is a portrait, in miniature, of the way the system survives and flourishes.

Interestingly, in November, Avinash Persaud, no small fry himself (Chairman of Intelligence Capital Limited, Senior Fellow with the Caribbean Policy Research Institute and Co-Chair of the OECD Emerging Market Network) speculated that when push comes to shove, countries like Luxembourg would go along with a reform that puts the places like the Cayman Islands out of business. “The large financial centres are going to try, and have been trying, to strangle the Caribbean banking sectors,” Persaud stated. A bit like a declaration of war.

Where does that leave us ? Is it nearly High Noon among the warring Secrecy and Acquisition Clans ? Every system has the limitations particular to it built in, and it’s no surprise to learn that capitalists despise each other and will, under pressure, turn other members of their class out. So, please, enough of the polite manners. For the next act, the crocadiles, under the increasingly watchful eyes of the crowd, will tear each other to pieces. Stand back, ladies and gentlemen. The show is just getting under way.

 

Iddhis Bing

For the full text of Invisible Money 5, see elsewhere on this site or Ground Report/Iddhis Bing.

————

Invisible Money Series by Iddhis Bing:

- Invisible Money 1: How It Gets That Way: http://99getsmart.com/?p=4736

- Invisible Money 2: Voyage to Luxembourg: http://99getsmart.com/?p=4914

- Invisible Money 3: http://99getsmart.com/?p=5319

- Invisible Money 4: Of Luxembourg, London and Paris, and a Lady Named Merkiavelli: http://99getsmart.com/?p=5411

- Invisible Money 5: The cloud Factory Revisited Up The Ladder, Marius Kohl to Luc Frieden: http://99getsmart.com/invisible-money-5-the-cloud-factory-revisited-up-the-ladder-marius-kohl-to-luc-frieden/

Dec 272012
 

Many thanks to GreyDog for posting my article from the Invisible Money series.

For those who can bear it, all my political pieces are archived at GroundReport (http://www.groundreport.com/JIBing) and I write about art and culture for NY Arts, but as their site is in some sort of hazy-maybe reconstruction, good luck!

In a day or so I will post the full transcript of the ElistLucet/Cash Investigation Luc Frieden one-on-one from Perrin’s film. Nothing precisely revelatory but it is a rare occasion when one of the honchos at a tax haven lets himself be grilled by the press, and the Logic of Avoidance is on full display.

So, we made it though the End of the World. Next up, end of the year. End of Time?

 

 

Sep 062012
 

StopCartel TV will broadcast LIVE on location in Salonica in Northern Greece on SATURDAY 9 September at 6pm local time @ http://www.livestream.com/stopcarteltvgr

The StopCartel TV crew will livestream protests, rallies, marches and demonstrations of Greek citizens against the regime.

Congratulations to StopCartel TV crew! 

Since 2006 StopCartel TV has logged over 1000 livestream hours in the streets – with reports, talks and comments on current developments in Greece, both in English and Greek.

Please help support the work of independent media:

ONGOING FUNDRAISER for StopCartel Livestream from Athens: http://stopcarteltv.chipin.com/stopcartel

StopCartel TV broadcasts LIVE from Athens, Greece weeknights @ 6 pm Athens time @ http://www.livestream.com/stopcarteltvgr

Jul 022012
 

 

We, the participants of Occupy Prague on Klarov are letting the public and every citizen of the Czech Republic know the following statements and positions which we agreed upon during public assemblies and debates between ourselves over time.

1. We support the criminal complaint against the president of the republic, Vaclav Klaus, and every member of the government from the year 1990 until now, for high treason and misappropriation of public property. Those crimes need to be investigated immediately and judged fairly, according to currently valid laws. Those crimes must not be subject to statute of limitations.

2. We consider it necessary to steer the development of the Czech Republic towards direct democracy. Politicians and officials must be fully removed from the office under conditions known in advance and they need to be criminally and materially responsible for their decisions. Immunity for the Members of Parliament must be abolished during and after their term. We propose to start a discussion about changes in the constitution in terms of reinforcing the principles of direct democracy. Furthermore, we demand strengthening of the role of municipalities and regions in decisions regarding the management of public (state) property and finances. We want the introduction of participative budgets, transparent accounts of civil service and other state institutions, publications of all contracts and amendments to public contracts, including their transparent competitive tenders in a form of public internet competition.

3. We consider the current banking-economic-financial system as obsolete, gradually aging and thus inappropriate for the 21st century, any longer. We, the citizens, refuse to pay the debts, which were caused by the wrongful decisions of the banks, politicians and lobbyists. We are looking for other functioning models for up keeping and further developing of the Czech Republic. We refuse the introduction of the Euro and the pointless regulations of the European Union. We demand the canceling of the value added taxes (VAT) on basic foodstuffs.

4. We demand that the Czech Republic cease its participation in illegal economic wars in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere in the world. Our army must serve only to protect the citizens and the land of the Czech Republic. We refuse to be part of the NATO treaty, who, for many, many years, does not behave as a defense pact, but instead by its unreasonable interference in the sovereignty of other countries, which bears comparison to the terrorist attacks, which it often likes to condemn. Therefore, we want to step out of NATO as soon as possible. We refuse to further support financially or in any other way, the wars or occupations of foreign soil, which are under the false pretenses of protection of human rights and conducted, in fact, only for economic or strategic reasons. We strictly reject violence.

5. We want free internet, where users won’t’ be monitored, watched and disconnected without their consent. We refuse all attempts on introducing censorship and acts of the like of ACTA, SOPA, PIPA, CISPA and others. We refuse the current state of intellectual property rights and laws concerning patents.

6. It’s necessary to return the Czech Republic to the state of self-reliance in finance, food and energy. Supranational interests must be secondary to local, regional or national needs. We demand public control of strategic resources and materials like water, land, electricity, raw materials or lumber. We refuse the constant destruction of the Czech countryside for the sake of monetary gain. Czech soil should be available to all the citizens. Less oilseed rape, more vegetables, fruits and technical cannabis!. NO  to GM plants and animals.

7. It’s necessary to make the patents on alternative energy resources and technologies available to the public with immediate effect. It’s necessary to agree upon lower energy consumption – stop wasting energy on the production of useless or carcinogenic goods. We need to slow down – then we’ll have enough energy and time for everything that we truly need for a full life. Energy production needs to be decentralized.

Healthcare, education or social issues can’t be governed by market principles. We refuse their creeping privatization. Sick people cannot be just an infinite supply of money for big pharma.

9. We demand thorough and effective protection of environment and cultural heritage.

10 We stand for practical fulfillment of General Declaration of Human Rights accepted by the UN in 1948 and the Bill of Rights and Freedoms of the Czech Republic. Also, academic freedom, freedom of research and art creation needs to be preserved from regulation incursions. We are against the commercialization and massification of culture. For life. We are 99%.

All of the above mentioned themes are open to further discussion at the public assemblies.

Prague Na Klarove, 12 May 2012

www.occupyczech.cz

—————————————————

Occupy Praha – Zatčení prvního politického vězně – 23.6.2012

 

Jun 142012
 

By aquabuddha, 99GetSmart

Democracy Now! aired an interview with Lori Wallach of Citizenstrade.org. She exposes the leaked draft of the secretive trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The newly leaked TPP draft is described by Citizens Trade Campaign as containing Special Rights for Corporations.

Only 600 corporate advisers have seen the text of this agreement, while Senator Ron Wyden, Chair of the Senate Trade Committee, has been denied access to the text of the agreement for 2 ½ years. Essentially, this new trade deal, which has been kept secret from the public as well as our elected officials, would give corporations complete control over our government.

According to Citizens Trade campaign, “The new texts reveal that TPP negotiators are considering a dispute resolution process that would grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.”

Fire Dog Lake notes:

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.”

Lori Wallach, in her interview with Democracy Now!, explained that corporations will have the ability to sue any government for not allowing them to pollute, for example. Lawsuits will be decided upon by a secretive tribunal made of three corporate attorneys.

In essence, the TPP will undermine the national sovereignty of any nation that signs the agreement.

Lori Wallach states:

“It’s been branded as a trade agreement but it’s really enforceable global corporate governance. It requires any signatory country to confirm its laws, regulations and administrative procedures to 26 chapters of comprehensive rules, only two of which have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters sets forth a whole new corporate set of rights that handcuffs governments and limits regulations.”

“The new rights give foreign corporations the right to privately enforce this public treaty and sue our government, raiding our treasury over the costs of complying with policies that all US companies have to comply with.”

“This isn’t just a bad trade agreement, it’s the 1 percenters power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights.”

“Across all of the countries involved, their citizen movements are saying, ‘This is not in our name. We do not need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability’.  This agreement is the antithesis”.

“Nothing the public interests groups have said is reflected in the agreement. The US position on the agreement is the most extreme. It’s even blocking countries involved having the ability to use financial regulations, financial stability.”

It was also leaked that those involved in writing the agreement had to sign a secrecy agreement which prevents any of the text of the agreement to be known to the public until four years after its complication.

Wallach goes on to explain, “These agreements are not about trade, they are like cement. Once the cement dries on these agreements, you can’t change the rules unless all the other countries involved agree to amend the agreement. What we are talking about here with this leak chapter is literally a parallel system of justice. Corporations would have a parallel system of private attorneys, three of them with no conflict of interest laws. The US and other countries would submit themselves to the jurisdiction of this corporate kangaroo court. These three random attorneys would have the right to order the US government to pay unlimited amounts of our tax dollars to corporations and investors who a. claim regulatory costs that need to be refunded or b. claim they aren’t being treated well enough, regardless if the exact same policies apply to all of us.”

The 8 nations currently involved are Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Vietnam and the US. Malaysia has just joined. However, the TPP is being left as an open ended agreement that any country can agree to join in the future. Wallach goes on to state, “It could very well be the last trade agreement that is negotiated … once it’s done, any other country can join … it’s an agreement that can ultimately have the entire world in it, as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions.”

Wallach concludes, “It is not an exaggeration to say the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance, right at the time the Occupy Movement and other movements around the globe are demanding more power and control. This is the fight back. This is locking in the bad old way, plus.”

The TPP would get rid of existing laws but also prevent new progressive laws from being implemented in the future. The agreement will allow NAFTA style offshoring and give corporations patent control over medicines and seeds. Countries will not be able to ban risky financial services or issue regulations. It also meddles with how local tax dollars are spent. Cities and activists will not be able to pass laws that provide a “local preference” for locally made products or “Buy American”.

The good news is that we still have time to stop this agreement. There is another TPP meeting scheduled during the July 4th weekend.  According to Wallach, the Obama Administration hasn’t been made aware of the text of the agreement because of the secrecy of the negotiations. So its time the Occupy Movement and others make the Obama Administration aware that this secret trade agreement needs to be scrapped if he hopes to be re-elected in November.

Plan of Action:

Lori Wallach has written extensively on the TPP at the Huffington Post, if you want to learn more. Follow Lori Wallach on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/PCGTW

Educate your friends and family about the TPP by sending them this article and Public Citizens You Tube video.

Tweet the official White House Twitter Account at www.twitter.com/blog44.  Contact the White House directly.

Submit comments online to the White House. Write or call the White House.  Create a petition at White House.gov.

Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative requesting they investigate the private nature of these meetings and block the passage of the TPP.

Get politically active at the local political party of your choosing. Inform local party officials to take action against the TPP. Help select candidates that would block the TPP or help write the party platform that would deny its passage.

If you live in one of the 8 countries involved in this agreement, contact your government officials.

Join your local Occupy Movement camp. Find out more information at occupii.org or occupywallst.org

Organize a Protest at the next TPP Meeting:

The next negotiation round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will take place in San Diego, California from July 2-10, 2012. USTR will be hosting a Direct Stakeholder Engagement event on Monday, July 2, 2012. This event will provide stakeholders the opportunity to speak directly and one-on-one with negotiators, raise questions, and share their views.  We tried this format at the last round in Dallas, and most stakeholders expressed their preference for this one-on-one engagement.  Some stakeholders said they would like the opportunity to make presentations to negotiators as in earlier negotiating rounds and we will accommodate these requests.  In addition, there will be a stakeholder briefing on July 3. The negotiation round venue and registration information will be posted shortly.

Related articles and links:

Jun 142012
 

By Snake Arbusto

They are Innu, Cree, Dene, Lakota, and the are struggling to defend our Mother Earth against the servants of abomination, who are tearing open Her belly to steal her uranium, her gas, her coal, her gold…

… They are calling us to fight the good fight, the struggle that has always pitted those who belong to the Earth against those who, criminally, claim to own it…

This call is crossing the great ocean; it has brought the people of Québec to life, and it is coming to stand on France’s soil.

We are ALL called on to organize and participate together in the assembly in Paris on Saturday June 23 2012.

Our goal is to go to the home territory of AREVA, the company that is the source of all these abominations, and tell them we don’t want them in Québec!

We will also maintain a symbolic, non-violent, silent presence at the Québec Delegation in Paris.

The peoples of Europe need to know, lest they become passive accomplices to the “Plan Nord,” that they need to support the vital and legitimate demands of the First Nations of Québec, and beyond them of all Amerindians!

Thanks to the organizations Minganie Sans Uranium, Sept Îles Sans Uranium, and the mobilizations of the Innu, Dene and Cree peoples, the Réseau Zéro Nucléaire (RZN), C.A.N. IdF, CAN84 and with, soon we hope, the convergence of AIM, CSIA-Nitassinan, Les Décroissants, Stop Nucléaire, Greenpeace France, and anyone else who is willing to contact us, 45 banners are already on their way from still beautiful Québec to contaminated France.

These banners need your arms in Paris to come and form one big tribe and with one big voice carry the urgent message that our Mother the Earth must be peacefully safeguarded with the immediate, final, and unconditional stoppage of all nuclear installations.

The Minganie Sans Uranium association sent the 45 banners now on their way to Paris, at their expense, at a cost of approximately $450; we’re launching a call for donations to pay for returning these banners to our friends in Québec, and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to organize this first day of transnational action for the respect and the safeguarding of the Mother of all peoples!

“May the spirit of this struggle take up residence forever among us.”

You may send checks to:

Minganie Sans Uranium / 231 de la Mer / Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan / G0G 1V0 / Québec

or use the PayPal link on this page: http://sanurezo.org/spip.php?article78

Facebook page for Paris demonstration: http://www.facebook.com/events/441490865875324/