Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tax Dodging Corporations Hear from the 99%!

Hundreds of protesters chant 'Pay your fair share" outside the Marriott Renaissance Center where the General Electric annual shareholders meeting was being held in Detroit, Mich. on Wednesday.From MSNBC

The 99% Spring has sprung! The 99% are targeting tax dodging corporations all over our nation and occupying shareholder's meetings. Many buy one share to gain access and then chant "Pay your fair share." once inside.

One activist who traveled 6 hours with nine others said, "Basically (we are) citizens who are mistreated by corporations, by which I mean corporations moving jobs overseas, not paying taxes ...  just so they can get richer."

A spokesman for GE said they paid taxes of $2.6 billion. He lied.

"The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion." (New York Times, March 24, 2011) The article went on to say that they use  "an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore."

The fact is that most corporations, many with record profits, pay NOTHING in taxes and in many cases get huge refunds. This is happening while the 99% struggle everyday to keep their jobs, or find one, to keep their homes, to put food on the table, and to keep up with rising costs. People are also mad as hell that Wall Street used bailout money to give themselves multimillion dollar bonuses and to ramp up lobbying and political contributions to expand the unfair advantage they get from tax shelters, tax credits and subsidies.

There are more than 30 actions planned at other shareholder meetings, plus hundreds of other events planned for this 99% Spring.

In the 1950's, corporate taxes accounted for 30% of all revenue- In 2009 it accounted for 6.6%. And we wonder why times are so tough. End corporate welfare!

The day before the GE protest, 500 showed up at Wells Fargo calling for a moratorium on foreclosures
 Photo: Lisa Pickoff -White/KQED

.And on May 1 Occupy Wall Street is calling for a general strike!
"For the first time, workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed from over 125 U.S. cities will stand together for economic justice."
May Day Rally and March

Vassar College Outdoor Space Library Lawn
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Campus Activities,Student Activities

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Good News- Clean Elections, GM Labeling, Overturning Citizens United

Image from Citizen Action
Public Financing of Elections One Step Closer!
An unlikely coalition of wealthy individuals, business leaders and grassroots organizations like Citizen Action and MoveOn have joined forces to push for clean elections in New York State! Gov Cuomo backed the idea in his State of the State address in January. This could be the start of something really BIG!
Take action -
BREAKING- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has introduced legislation to bring fair elections to NY.
Locally- Attend a screening of the documentary Pricele$$ - May 4, 7PM Rosendale Recreation Center- Join the campaign to win Fair Elections for New York for a special screening of PRICELE$$, and a discussion about why New York needs Fair Elections campaign finance reform.

Overturning Citizens United 
Vermont became the third state to vote for an amendment to overturn Citizens United - one of the worst decisions of the Supreme Court that basically allows for legalized bribery and negates the bedrock of democracy of One person, One vote.

Sign the petition to "End Corporate Rule and Legalize Democracy" at Move to Amend.. Join Ulster County Move to Amend on FB.

Urge your state legislators to support a Constitutional Amendment at Free Speech for People.

Read more on why the Citizens United ruling is a death knell for democracy here.

Reigning in Exorbitant CEO Pay
Shareholders voted down the $14.9 million annual pay for its CEO at Citibank! "The opening shot in the battle to restore sanity to CEO pay."

Mega bonuses and outlandish CEO pay have contributed greatly to vast income inequality in America. In 2011, the average CEO pay jumped almost 14% to about $13 million a year. The average worker's wages rose 2.8% to $34,053. Three decades ago, the average CEO pay was 42 times the average worker and now it is nearly 400 times greater! "This yawning gap is the largest in the world." Read more.

States Mobilizing to Demand Labeling of GMOs! 
When the federal government fails in its duty to protect its citizens- we have another route to demand fairness and justice. So far, 20 states have introduced legislation to demand labeling of foods that contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms). For more on the health and environmental risks of GMO's- click here.

No where is the fight as dramatic as California. A labeling law is on its way to be voted on this November as a CA Ballot Initiative.

Vermont was well on its way to demand labeling when Monsanto threatened to sue the entire state. Looks like the governor is backing down in the face of it, despite 90% of his constituents wanting it  and sound science behind it. Contribute to the Organic Consumers Association Defense Fund now- so Vermont and other states can stand up to the biotech bullies.

Over 50 countries representing 40% of the world's population have mandatory GM labeling laws. Through the states, Americans are rising up to demand the same!

ALEC Exposed
Not only are corporate members leaving the right wing organization in droves (Proctor and Gamble is the 13th to distance themselves from ALEC)  now Common Cause has submitted a formal whistle blower complaint against ALEC to the IRS. They allege ALEC broke federal tax laws by posing as a 501c3 not for profit, but actually engaging in lobbying activities.

"Their ain't no power like the power of the people because the power of the people don't stop!"

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Yorkers against Fracking Rally and Concert!

From New Yorkers against Fracking!
New Yorkers Against Fracking is very excited to announce a powerful and critically important rally and multi-media concert event to support a ban on fracking in New York State. On Tuesday, May 15th, join Medeski Martin & Wood, Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, the Felice Brothers, Ida, the Horse Flies, Tracy Bonham, Toshi Reagon, Dan Zanes, The Ahkwesasne Women Singers, and actors Melissa Leo and Mark Ruffalo in calling on our elected leaders to ban fracking in New York.

These all-stars are coming together for a special rally, concert, and multi-media performance at this very critical time. New York needs to address this dangerous practice and enact a ban to protect the citizens of this great state. Please join us and Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, who will be filming the event, for an experience that promises to be transformative.

The Concert:
When: Tuesday, May 15th at 7:00pm
Where: The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223

The Rally:
Where: The West Capitol Lawn, Albany NY
When: Tuesday, May 15th at 4:30 pm

Information about transportation coming soon. Stay tuned for public press release and announcement early next week.

Tickets: 518 473-1845 /

Sign up here-

The SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task Force on
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25TH at 8:30AM for our

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tax the 1% Rally, Kingston NY Video!

As you can see, the Tax the 1% Rally held at the Kingston PO was a lively affair. Thank you to all who came, who shared their stories, blew their whistles and demonstrated their passion for justice!

There were hundreds of rallies like this all over the country, to kick off the 99% Spring- a historic movement of everyday Americans taking to the streets to say no to a system that has been rigged to benefit the 1% at our expense.

We demand tax fairness and a re-prioritization of our budget from war (60% of our discretionary budget goes to the military) to peace- rebuilding America, strengthening the middle class and lifting almost 50 million Americans from poverty.

The Kingston Postmaster was not happy with us and asked us to move, but we chose to exercise our First Amendment right to peaceably assemble in front of the Post Office. In a Times Herald Record article, Postmaster Maher said we were being "extremely radical". Hardly! We are just average Americans who are distressed that our standard of living is plummeting while the richest 1% see their wealth soar into the stratosphere. We want to return government to "we the people" instead of having a government of, by and for the rich. Apologies to any who were made uncomfortable by our presence or our message. Our intention is to inform, inspire and motivate people to get involved, get the facts, and to believe that together we can restore economic justice to hard working American families.

Most of the folks going in to mail their taxes seemed to be with us. After all, as Joel Tyner, Dutchess County legislator and candidate for our US Congressional District said, polls show that over 80% of Americans feel the rich should pay more. Who can argue that a hedge fund manager who (obscenely) makes $4.9 billion a year should be allowed to pay at a rate lower than you or me? Or that multinational corporations with record profits should pay no taxes? FACT- Over two dozen major corporations have paid NO taxes for years and often get millions in refunds. The richest 1% collectively has more wealth than  90% of the rest of us- but through loopholes, off shore tax havens and other tricks, pay at much lower rates than we do.

In that same article, (and I wish the reporter had spent more time interviewing rally participants, rather than just those looking on) another complained that we were waging class warfare. We are?! Class warfare is being waged on us! We have witnessed the biggest, systematic theft from the poor and the middle class in American history-  bailouts, legislation that showers the super rich with largesse while taking endlessly from us. Wake up folks. Join us in blowing the whistle on our unjust system rigged to benefit the 1%.

Join us here-

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ulster County, New York- Preparing for the 99% Spring!


On Sunday, April 15, between 75-100 people came together to receive training in non-violent direct action at the Rosendale Community Center. It was one of several trainings in our area. Nationwide, over 100,000 people were trained for the 99% Spring this past week!

People are collectively saying, "Enough is enough!". We are tired of a system that is rigged to benefit the 1% at the expense of hard working American families. We are tired of Wall Street criminals who destroyed our economy, got billions in taxpayer dollars, gave themselves the biggest bonuses in history and who have escaped any accountability. We are tired of $10 trillion of lost home wealth, 10 million losing their homes to foreclosure, 11 million still underwater, 10 million losing their jobs and almost 50 million Americans living in poverty.

So we came together in houses, community centers, churches, campuses and public places to say that together- we are fighting back- nonviolently, powerfully and sustainably.

Thank you to all the dedicated activists, some seasoned, some new, who gave three hours on a glorious day to prepare for action for the historic 99% Spring! Thank you to Betty Olson, our great trainer, Madeline Labriola, our scribe, all who helped, brought food to share, and a big thank you to my co-host Linda Abbott- Ulster County MoveOn Council Core Coordinator, who indefatigably takes on each new action suggested and rallies the troops to make it successful!

Please join us tomorrow, for the first event of the 99% Spring- Tax the 1%. In front of the Kingston Post Office, 90 Cornell St in Kingston, NY from 12-1PM. We will (literally) be blowing the whistle on a system that is rigged to benefit the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.

 RISE UP! Sign up here-

If you think these ideas are not too much to ask for - please join us- write to me at

"We are unstoppable- a different world is possible!"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Military Machine Is Destroying Our Economy

Navy Commander Leah Bolger is standing trial tomorrow for interrupting a Super Committee hearing to express the 99% position- End the Wars and Tax the Rich! She could face jail time of 6 months.

Leah says she had an epiphany after seeing the exhibit "Eyes Wide Open" mounted by the American Friends Service Committee which dramatically shows the human cost of war. A few years ago, New Paltz Women in Black also organized this exhibit and lined Main Street with boots representing troops who had been killed in the Iraq war.
Today, over 6,500 US troops have been killed and 45,000 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon estimates another 300,000 suffer PTSD and 320,000 have traumatic brain injury Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed. Join New Paltz Women in Black any Saturday from 12:30-1:30PM in front of the Library in New Paltz to protest war and violence in all its forms.

In addition to the human cost of war, the cost to our economy has also proved devastating. Military and related "security" spending has roughly doubled in the last decade, now amounting to over $1 trillion a year and representing well over half of all discretionary income. While Congress debates shredding our safety net and causing untold suffering for millions of poor and middle class citizens, we continue to spend $2 billion a month in Afghanistan, fund over 1,000 foreign military bases and outposts (like 238 in Germany, 124 in Japan and 87 in South Korea) and spend millions on weapons systems the Pentagon does not need.

I like to remind people that the day before 9/11, then Sec of Defense Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference to say that $2.3 trillion could not be accounted for in the Pentagon.

Our country spends more on death and destruction than the rest of the world combined. We, the people have to demand a drastic change in our priorities, or face a bleak America- where the needs of the people are sacrificed to feed "the black hole of the military machine."

Join us on Tax Day, April 18- as we protest in front of Post offices across the nation- to end the reckless war spending and to demand that the rich and corporations pay their fair share! Click here to find an action near you. or sign up for the one in Kingston, NY here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bend Over and Kiss the 4th Amendment Goodbye

My reaction after the  Supreme Court's Citizens United decision                                                          B Upton
It was bad enough hearing the right wing justices use Tea Party talking points in criticizing the health care law. Justice Scalia basically said that if the government makes you buy insurance, it may be able to force you to eat broccoli! Horrors!

But their latest ruling is just so awful it makes you wonder what is next and what can be done about it.

On April 2, in the usual 5-4 partisan split, the justices made the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution null and void. Police can now strip search anyone- no matter how minor the offense, or even if they have detained you wrongly.

Justice Breyer in dissent cited a study that said less invasive forms of searches were as successful in finding contraband. He noted that degrading strip searches have been used on people for not using a turn signal and for not having a bell on a bicycle! He also cited the case of a 70 year old nun, who was subjected to the humiliation of a strip search after being arrested during a peace demonstration. He said unwarranted strip searches were a “serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy."

In this ruling the Supreme Court Five (pictured above) are saying you can be strip searched for any minor offense and there needs to be no reasonable justification for the police to do so.. This is exactly what one expects of a police state- some would argue we are already there.

These are the same justices who seemed to be making a case about how the Affordable Healthcare Act infringes on our personal liberty- but subjecting citizens to strip searches without probable cause does not?

Like the the Other 98% said the "Supreme Court just wants a government small enough to invade our bodies."

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

Monday, April 2, 2012

99% Spring ActionTraining!

99% Spring Action Training
From the groups collaborating to provide non-violent, direct action training for 100,000 Americans:

Every day, the American Dream seems a little farther away.

More of our grandparents are being thrown from their homes. Our mothers and fathers can't retire because their pension funds tanked. Our brothers and sisters are burdened by student loan debt. For our children, budget cuts have resulted in crumbling schools, skyrocketing class sizes, and teachers being denied the support they need to do their best. Our friends and family are being denied collective bargaining rights in their workplaces and are falling further and further behind. Our neighbors are being poisoned by pollution in our air and water.

The numbers are staggering: in recent years, millions of jobs have been destroyed,homes foreclosed, and an unconscionable number of children live in poverty.

And worst of all: this is no accident. It is a result of rampant greed -- the deliberate manipulation of our democracy and our economy by a tiny minority in the 1%, by those who amass ever more wealth and power at our expense.

We are at a crossroads as a country. We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The choice is in our hands. This spring, we will act on that choice and rise up in the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers. We will not be complicit with the suffering in our families for another year.We will prepare ourselves for sustained nonviolent direct action in the spirit of Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and many others.

From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country.
We will organize trainings to:
  1. Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who's responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it,
  2. Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
  3. Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.
This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time.

We know great change is possible. We inherit a history of everyday people standing up for their own dignity, freedom, and self-determination, shaping our direction as a country. The seamstress in Alabama who launched a bus boycott. The farmers in New England and Virginia who imagined we could be a free nation. The workers in Flint, Michigan who occupied their plant to win collective bargaining rights. The farm workers in California who liberated our fields. The women in New York who dreamed they could one day speak with equal voice. The mother who stood up in Love Canal to stop the poisoning of her community. And the students who risked their lives during Freedom Summer to register voters.

In the last year alone we watched the teachers and fire fighters of Wisconsin stand for the rights of workers. And we joined those who Occupied Wall Street, inspiring us to stand with the 99%.
We will rise this spring, because we DO hold these truths to be self evident--that all men and women are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Will you rise with us? Can we count on you to join us April 9th to 15th to stand with the 99% for America?

Sign up here for one Linda Abbott and I and others are organizing in Rosendale on April 15, or click here to see a training near you. There are nearly 1,000 such trainings being planned now and slots are filling up fast.

Be a part of this unprecedented mobilization to restore democracy, decency and fairness to the American people!

Bill Moyers interviewed George Goehl (the above statement was on his blog) about the 99% Spring- encouraging all to be a part and to join these trainings- very worth watching.