Topic archive for "occupy wall street"

Who’s Wrecking America? Meet the 1% Nominees

The Occupy movement has drawn attention to how too many in the 1% get to play by their own rules while exploiting the 99%. But who’s doing the most to damage our economy and democracy?

You tell us.

We at Brave New Foundation have launched a website where you can vote on some of the most infamous members of the 1% — financial fraudsters, union-busters, weapons contractors, and more. Then we’ll make a series of videos exposing the ones that you rank as the very worst. As our friends at Fox News might put it: We film. You decide.

Let’s look at some examples. Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, is one of our nominees. He touted mortgage assets to clients while privately betting $10 billion they’d fail. Then he lied to Congress by claiming that Goldman Sachs had not, in fact, bet against its own clients. These actions helped spur the excessive risk-taking that led to the financial meltdown and put millions out of a job.

Or take a look at Paul Singer, who has earned the nickname “the vulture capitalist.” He exploits poor nations by buying their defaulted debt for cheap and forcing them to pay in full–plus interest. The Congo was one of Singer’s victims. That country had just gotten out of a civil war and half of its citizens live on less than a dollar a day. To Singer, that was a business opportunity. He bought the Congo’s debt for pennies on the dollar and then sued to win far, far more than he had paid for it.

Of course, simply bandying names about isn’t the point. The point is that the activists fueling social movements like Occupy need to be able to understand exactly how oppression works and which individuals are controlling the process. Where would our nation be if, in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, activists had spoken only of the systemic issue of segregation and didn’t have George Wallace and Bull Connor to single out as perpetrators? We at Brave New Foundation are helping build a narrative so that citizens can draw a straight line between the cheats and bullies misusing their wealth and the economic predicament in which our country is now ensnared.

We aren’t alone in this effort. Our partners include progressive media truth tellers like AlterNet, TruthOut, the Nation, PoliticusUSA, CARE2, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Young Turks, Campaign for America’s Future, Free Speech TV, Thom Hartmann, and MichaelMoore.com.

So who do you think deserves to be exposed? Vote and make your voice heard. With the Occupy movement at a critical point, this is the moment to double down on illuminating our nation’s vast inequalities and–just as important–how things got this way. This is a chance to take our democracy back.

Who Are the 1%? You Tell Us.

The Occupy movement has done more than anything in decades to highlight the corrosive effects of concentrated wealth on our economy and democracy. Indeed, seeing the 99% rise up in such inspirational fashion raises a question: Who exactly are the 1%? Or more specifically, who among them are abusing their power and making life more difficult for everyone else?

That’s what Brave New Foundation will be exposing with our new campaign, Who Are the 1%? We will highlight the villains in America’s economic story, drawing a straight line between their actions and the broken economy we’re now stuck with.

And here’s the twist: We want you to tell us which people to profile.

Here’s how it works. We’ve launched a new website where you can add your suggestions on the worst of the 1%. Once we have pored through all of the names and arguments you’ve provided, we’ll narrow the field down and have you vote on the worst of the worst. Then we’ll make videos about those special one percenters that you’ve chosen to expose.

As Fox News might put it: We film. You decide.

Whom to choose? There is no shortage of villains. The deceptive, backhanded practices of the financial industry played a major part in the recent financial meltdown, and numerous defense contractors have made a killing (literally) by lobbying for more and more weapons spending. In all, the top 1% have seen their incomes rise 275% in the last three decades — a period in which the tax burden has shifted from wealth to work and financiers have exploited increasingly weak regulations and even weaker enforcement.

These problems are not natural disasters. They are man-made. And with your help, our new campaign will call out those responsible.

When you make your suggestions, our only rules are that the individuals profiled must be in the top 1%, which means a net worth of at least $9 million, and use their wealth to keep down the other 99%. We’re not talking about run-of-the-mill rich people here, and we’re not talking about those who spend their money promoting the common good. We’re talking about those who take advantage of their position to create more injustice, inequality, and corruption. The rest is up to you.

Will you participate in this effort to show Americans who’s destroying their economy and democracy? Join us and the organizations supporting this campaign: AlterNet, Care2, The Center for Media and Democracy, FreeSpeechTV, The Nation, PoliticusUSA, Thom Hartmann, Truthout, Campaign for America’s Future, and The Young Turks.

We are excited to hear your thoughts.

More Reports of Cancer Near Koch Brothers’ Factory (VIDEO)

Billionaire political donors Charles and David Koch aren’t the only ones who saw our latest investigative film. Thousands of people have posted comments on our Facebook page and have offered additional testimony about the Koch brothers’ pollution in their communities.

In a smear campaign orchestrated in response to our investigation, the Koch brothers attacked almost all of the residents featured in our film. These individuals say they’re suffering from cancer because they live too close to a Koch Industries factory, which pollutes rivers and creeks flowing near their rural homes.

This duality between the haves and have-nots in our society is a big driver of the rising tide of Occupy movement– and for good reason. The Koch brothers personify the top 1 percent and the avarice that’s allowed the richest Americans to profit at the expense of the other 99 percent and those of us who’re hardest hit by the jobs crisis and economic recession.

Thousands of people posted comments that both reflect the goals of the Occupy movement and aid the people of Crossett, Arkansas, who are part of the other 99 percent and have volunteered to hand-deliver these messages to the Kochs. Some viewers, like Lance Blann, reached us directly and shared their personal reactions.

Lance was one of the tens of thousands who saw our video, “EXPOSED: Koch Industries and Cancer Risks” and was activated to speak out against “Crossett Crud,” which is how local doctors describe the sore throats, runny noses, burning eyes and the many other ailments that affect Crossett residents.

Lance went to school in Crossett and spent much of his life. He and his friends nicknamed the brown waterways near their home “Stink Creek.” For as long as he could remember, the smell had stained the community, he said in an interview with Koch Brothers Exposed producers.

“It’s a sickening thought what’s going on in Crossett,” Lance said in an interview. “My parents could be next.”

Lance is an alumni of a school system that ranks in the top 1 percentile of exposure to cancer causing toxins.

For every one Lance, there’s many other individuals who’ve suffered, or continue suffering, so the Koch brothers could profit. But because the Koch Industries factory is the biggest employer in Crossett, many people are reluctant to speak out. The company donates just enough money to the schools, police department, local churches and the Chamber of Commerce that the company is untouchable, even though the company’s pollutants are odorous from the steps of City Hall.

Many of the comments we received from our video at Koch Brothers Exposed were aghast that government regulators allow the Koch brothers’ pollution to harm individuals.

But it’s permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Koch brothers’ billions affords them access to establish or influence politicians, think tanks, family foundations and front groups to weaken oversight and safety laws. The EPA, local agencies and Arkansas state officials are unable to enforce existing laws and precedent in the face of the Koch brothers and their $100 billion Koch Industries.

That’s why we’re trying to help the people of Crossett with comments they can use to confront the Koch brothers. See their stories and take action to fight back.

You might save lives in Arkansas.

Why Do These Koch Industries Neighbors Have Cancer? (VIDEO)

Our ongoing Koch Brothers Exposed video investigation has discovered something so tragic it will haunt Charles and David Koch for years to come.

Is a Koch Industries factory getting away with murder?

While the brothers wage war against safety precautions, every day their factory is dumping millions of gallons of wastewater into streams that flow near a small rural town. It’s this kind of abuse by the top 1% of Americans that’s driving young and old to fight money in politics, occupy Wall Street and protest in the streets. The Koch brothers personify inequality, and people are rising up and have identified the overwhelming corporate influence on democracy as a corrosive stain that harms the rest of us.

Our latest video reflects this as we follow the money and prove the Koch brothers buy a system that makes them richer at the expense of everyone else. Through political donations, think tanks and front groups, the Koch brothers are able to weaken safety and oversight laws, which leaves communities like Crossett, Arkansas behind to suffer.

“The Koch brothers are killing me and my family,” Norma Thompson told us during our investigation. She’s lived near the Koch brothers’ mill for 39 years. Journey to Arkansas and watch her story:

This a community victimized by the Koch brothers. These Americans, almost all of whom are former employees of the factory, are dying because of their proximity to the Koch brothers’ plant. The chemical-heavy factory dumps pollution into streams, and the effects are visible to the naked eye. As the waste flows away from the Koch plant, toxins bubble up into an airborne pollution that spreads through the air and wind.

All the while, the Kochs fight protections that would begin to mitigate living conditions in Crossett. Through their donations, the Koch brothers buy the system, and through their connections, they transform democracy into a self-serving apparatus that grows their corporate profits.

A toxic cloud hangs over Crossett and it is manufactured by Koch Industries.

David Bouie, a minister and a retired Georgia-Pacific employee, informs me the chemicals’ stench reach the town’s Main Street, about three miles away from his home.

Mr. Bouie is a local community leader has volunteered to hand-deliver your comments directly to the Koch brothers. Help save lives and post a message to the Kochs.

This isn’t the first time the Koch brothers’ businesses hurt innocent people. Two teenagers were killed in Texas because a Koch pipeline leaked flammable materials. The Kochs’ businesses also spew benzene into the air–a known carcinogen. For this, the Clinton administration in 2000 charged the Kochs with a 97-count indictment and sought a $350 million fine.

A few months later, the Kochs received help from the Bush administration and the EPA ultimately knocked down the charges to one count and agreed to a $20 million settlement.

Just how bad is that carcinogen emitted by the Koch brothers? Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul said benzene polluters belong in jail.

The Kochs get away with polluting communities, and in some cases–hurting people– because they use their wealth to ensure the EPA is permanently understaffed and underfunded and therefore lacks enforcement. The result is the Kochs can guarantee safety regulations suffer the same fate in Congress that many innocent individuals face in Crossett: a David versus Goliath fight for justice.

Koch Industries’ life-threatening practices are legal. They’ll attack me and cite some gold stars and blue ribbons as proof that they aren’t killing innocent people. But follow the money: Through their wealth, the Koch brothers fund politicians, think thanks and front groups to neuter oversight and safety. The EPA, local agencies and state officials are toothless in the face of the Koch brothers and their $100 billion pollution Goliath, Koch Industries.

Before our Koch Brothers Exposed campaign, before the New Yorker investigation last year and the recent Bloomberg report, David Koch fancied himself as a do-gooder. Almost 20 years ago, David Koch was diagnosed with cancer and he has donated millions to have cancer research centers named after him since then.

David Koch was told he wouldn’t have long to live, but his wealth has afforded him the best treatment, doctors and medical care available. The folks in Crossett have no such access. They don’t even have a recourse to sell their homes and relocate. As the biggest employer in town, Koch Industries donates to the local churches, police stations, schools and is untouchable. While the chemicals spewing from the Koch plant are odorous in downtown Crossett, city, state and federal officials are powerless in the face of Koch billions.

Many people, including me, believe the brothers’ business poisons people with cancer. All the while, David Koch, a cancer survivor, toasts the institutions that bear his name.

Maybe you want to tell David Koch to travel to Crossett and see what his business is doing to the community. The community needs you, so tell the Kochs to save lives in Arkansas.

OCCUPY Your City and Make History

The Occupy Wall Street protest is a full bore indictment against corporate greed and dysfunctional government. It’s a demand for nation building here at home.

People young and old are taking the streets, sleeping in tents, donating pizza, even publishing their own Occupy Wall Street Journal newspaper, to let our government and corporations know that we are a democracy that’s not for sale.

The Brave New Foundation team pulled some of the most powerful images broadcasted from the Occupy movement. We hope our latest video inspires you to make your voice heard and rally with a protest in your city.

The local protests are growing more each day, with some observers estimating the Occupy movement could swell to 250,000 online activists in the coming days.

We’ve set up a user-friendly database for you to find a protest in your city and spread the word. Already, there are thousands of protesters in New York City and hundreds more in Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Miami and elsewhere.

What’s happening at symbolic sites in almost all of our cities is earning comparisons to the movement reshaping the Arab world.

May this be the beginning of an American Autumn and renewal.

The Occupy movement is deeply personal, there are so many different people taking to the streets- and for so many different reasons. Some are in high school and are anxious about the job market, others have graduated college and are drowning in student loans. Many are working longer hours for fewer dollars and workplace rights, or are unemployed.

Many more Occupying cities are veterans who’ve served abroad and cannot transition into civilian life without work. The wars abroad have had a corrosive effect on society.

What’s happening is living digitally through social media. People young and old have set up media tents, libraries, cafeterias and medical centers and they’re getting their message to the public.

We need to help them. We need to participate and make our voices heard today.

They’re truly an inspiration. Whether you were marching in the 1960s, the early 2000s or you are in high school and utilizing your First Amendment rights, we can agree a healthy democracy requires the wisdom of crowds.

Find a local protest and help make history.

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