Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It Can Be Done (#StopKavanaugh)

Breaking News: The Lake Erie Bill of Rights--the first "rights of nature" citizens' initiative in the US--has been denied ballot access by the Lucas County Board of Elections. Over ten thousand LEBOR petition signatures were gathered by volunteers, submitted and certified by the clerk of council to be put on the city of Toledo November ballot. The appointed Board of Elections memebers--consisting of two Democrats and two Republicans--unanimously voted to keep both the LEBOR and a Toledo jail citizens' initiative off the ballot. Toledoans for Safe Water will be filing a lawsuit to have the Lake Erie Bill of Rights placed on the ballot. For more, read: https://celdf.org/2018/08/press-release-lake-erie-bill-of-rights-blocked-from-november-ballot/

That an appointed board can thwart the democratic process in the year 2018 shows you how far we've fallen into the beginnings of a fascist state. Now more than ever, the two party "duopoly" that is so easily bought off by corporate interests needs to be dissolved. This week's topic (planned weeks earlier) gives us some insight on just how Americans can take back their country from the grip of the corporations who don't care whether we have clean water or not.
Did you know there was once an American Progressive Party? It's better known by its nickname--"The Bull Moose Party." The most famous Bull Moose candidate was Theodore Roosevelt, but the Progressive Party did field other candidates and did win offices across the nation. Read on to learn some more about American third parties. Can they really win? What does a third party vote actually mean in an election? Why do most American voters list themselves as "independent"? Will the Bull Moose raise its head again?

It Can be Done
by Coast Watcher

It’s a phenomenon mostly confined to the United States. Only two parties—the Democrats and the Republicans—dominate American politics and vie for control of the government. Between them they have fielded all the candidates who went on to become President since the 1860s. Why should this be so?

The main reason is the country’s winner-take-all electoral system. Unlike a parliamentary system, in most American states the presidential candidate with the highest percentage of votes gets all the state’s electoral votes. The other "third parties" struggle to win enough votes to remain viable, let alone win a presidential race. Often they face devious tactics from the Democrat and Republican machine that have a cozy little arrangement between themselves to prevent third parties from becoming a threat to their hegemony. For instance, some states have rules that state should any party fail to win at least 5% of the popular vote they are no longer allowed on the ballot in the next election. No country on Earth other than a dictatorship reserves the right to do this to its political opponents.

Third party candidates face other obstacles such as federal campaign finance laws and rules that prevent third party candidates from entering presidential debates. Especially evident in recent times are how third parties face an utter lack of mainstream media attention. If third party candidates do gain the  attention of a mainstream media correspondent, they always face the same tired old questions: “Why are you running at all? Aren’t you taking votes from the Democrat/Republican candidate?” Seldom are they asked about their campaign platforminformation voters really want to know. In no other political systemespecially not a parliamentary oneare candidates of any party ever asked these insulting questions.

Political analyst and comedian Bill Maher expresses disbelief that Americans would willingly accept only two choices for president: “It’s silly that a country that prides itself on choice allows only two.”

Another phenomenon is the immediate effort the major parties make after the primaries to corral third party supporters and splinter groups and bring them into their own camp. This was seen most recently in the pathetic attempts made by the Democratic Party to round up Bernie Sanders’ supporters following Clinton’s nomination in 2016 after the rigged primaries.

For some reason—possibly related to their fabled "big tent" approach—Democrats seem to think they’re entitled to all votes cast by voters left of center. Progressive voters don't necessarily agree with this assessment. They wish to support true progressive candidates, and dream of a party that meets with their expectations, not a weak approximation of them.

It can be done.

It’s when the two major parties fail to take into account the general mood of the

population that third parties really begin to come into their own. Theodore Roosevelt is the most well-known third party candidate in American history as the leader of the Progressive Party or "Bull Moose Party." He actually instituted progressive policy from the White House from 1901 to 1909. Roosevelt’s famous muckraking campaign led to significant improvements in trading standards and industry, improvements that the voting public had cried out for for years.

Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura served as the 38th governor of Minnesota from 1999 - 2003. His campaign urged voters not to “vote for politics as usual” and was unexpectedly successful, enabling him to defeat both the Democratic and Republican candidates by a narrow margin. After all, in a multi-party race for governor a third party candidate only needs  33% of the total votes cast plus one in order to win.

This is where a lot of Americans will scratch their heads. They don't realize that in all elections there have been (or are) 30 United States Senators, 112 Congress members, 28 state governors, and four major city mayors (plus many more smaller city mayors and other state and local office holders) who were not (or are not) affiliated with either major party. Hundreds of third party officeholders exist at every level, including those from the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Socialist Alternative, among others.

We are witnessing a steady turning away from the "Big Two" parties. The

recent presidential election showed independents far outnumber Democrat and Republican supporters combined. The words socialist and oligarch recently topped the number one searched-for word on the Merriam-Webster dictionary site. The two big parties believe it’s still business as usual and that they can continue to ignore the voters in the quest for ever more money from their corporate paymasters.

But change is coming. Perhaps it will be a tough road for third parties, but in the end, the system must bow to the inevitable. The Democratic and Republican parties will no longer dominate American politics. It can be done. It will be done.

Related articles:


Ranked Choice Voting--Democracy wins! https://youtu.be/eQpDRo-l4eU

BIO: Coast Watcher is patiently waiting for signs of a political revolution in the USA. As a Brit, he has experienced the benefits of a multi-party political system and sees it as a more democratic form of government. He says Americans shouldn't be afraid to vote third party. Show the corrupt establishment who is in charge! Power to the people!

The Green Party candidate running for Ohio governor discusses the vital function to democracy her party performs. (You can learn more about Constance Gadell-Newton by checking out our Constance for Ohio page link on the sidebar.)

In Bernie's own words--third parties are needed! Watch this video blast from Bernie Sander's past and see how it compares to what he said in a recent interview. You'll also enjoy insights from Nick Brana, leader of Movement for a People's Party, and Jimmy Dore on the topic of what a people's party would look like and what all it could do to bring about a future to believe in.
#StopKavanaugh ProtestsNationwide August 26
words and photos by C.A. Matthews

Here are some photos of the Toledo area protest against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Americans aren't exactly happy about what Kavanaugh stands for, and many are not afraid to speak out and demonstrate their displeasure.

When something or someone goes against your better judgment or your morals, do you speak out against it? Do you take action? Why or why not? What have you got to lose by remaining inactive? What have you got to gain by remaining silent?

I wrote about Judge Kavanaugh's nomination a couple of weeks ago on the blog. (Read what I said about him in A Matter of Control.)  I didn't pull any punches on what I thought about his backward stance on women's issues and where he stands on environmental concerns. (Clue: He can't wait to sell off our national parks to private corporations. Say goodbye to Yellowstone and Yosemite!)
If Americans don't speak out and we don't point out the inconsistencies of those in high public office, we'll get what we settle for. Let's not settle for an end to a woman's right to choose by allowing a Kavanaugh court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Let's not settle for further degradation of our environment by allowing the fossil fuel industry and others to frack and pollute at will on our public lands and parks.

Let's stand up for what we believe in. Call your senators today and tell them you don't support Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Future generations will thank you.

Here's how to call your senator and how to contact other elected officials:
 Express your power! Support independent media!

The Revolution Continues has set up an easy way to donate to the cause of independent journalism by keeping it ad-free. We've been publishing over three years without those obnoxious ads (that many news sites have to cover costs). It's been great, but the editor does have to pay for internet, electricity, etc., out of her own pocket. She would like to be able to pay her contributors in the future. 

Please consider donating a buck, $5, $10 or $100--any amount you can share with us to keep this progressive site going without those awful ads is appreciated. Help us become a strong alternative voice protesting against the corrupt establishment and its paid-off corporate mouthpieces. Give to TRC today. Thank you.
You can donate via Paypal at http://paypal.me/camatthews
Power to the people and not the corporations!


From Lee Camp:
As you know, alternative and independent media is being crushed and suppressed at every turn. Well, I just found out that one of the most important investigative shows is ENDING due to U.S. sanctions. Abby Martin's show "Empire Files" has closed its doors because of complications from the insane U.S. sanctions on Venezuela.

So they need our help to continue. If they find enough funding, Abby Martin can continue her phenomenal reporting. You might know her from her previous show "Breaking Set." She has reported first hand from the rubble in Palestine, the jungles of Columbia, and the US-backed violent protests in Venezuela. Her show is honestly what it looks like to be a TRUE journalist - not a corporate stooge. She reports with heart and honesty - and what she says is NOT allowed on corporate airwaves.

And just as a side note - Redacted Tonight would not exist without Abby Martin. She believed in me and had me on her show as a guest many times before Redacted started. It was her show and her kindness that allowed me to create Redacted Tonight.

CLICK HERE to help via GoFundMe

CLICK HERE to help via Patreon

Corporate America will NEVER fund the truth. So it's up to you and me.

Please share if you think this is important.
Keep fighting.
- Lee
We made history together. On Sunday, August 26, we saw the largest grassroots demonstration ever against a U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

From Maine to Alaska and Hawaii, we turned out thousands of folks in coordination with more than 75 partners in all 50 states to fight back against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. There were marches, house parties, postcard writing gatherings, and rallies. People made their voices heard online, and many of you kept up the drumbeat by making calls to your senators.

It was an incredible day of resistance and as the images poured in from event after event from across the country, I couldn’t help but be struck by the certainty that we are on the side of the future, the side of the people, and the side of core American values.
This is one of the most important moments in our lifetimes. Our rights will be under an even greater attack than ever before if Brett Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court. But as yesterday’s national day of action proved, we are ready to fight back and show our senators that we are paying attention. We are fired up — and we WILL be holding them accountable.

We have more work to do, and because of the momentum we saw yesterday, I know that we can win. I know we have what it takes to protect our democracy, our right to control our own bodies and futures, and those of generations to come — but only if we keep up the pressure and work together as powerfully as we did Sunday.

We will need your energy and activism to keep making it clear to our senators that the American people will not accept a Supreme Court nominee who would end Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, and punish women.

We can stop Kavanaugh. We WILL. Together we are unstoppable and capable of anything.
In unity,

Ilyse Hogue
President, NARAL Pro-Choice America
P.S. If you are looking for more ways to take action to stop Kavanaugh — check our our activist toolkit today!

Update from Public Citizen

A preliminary NAFTA renegotiation deal between the United States and Mexico has just been announced.

We know progress was made between the U.S. and Mexico on some key changes we have demanded for decades.

But we also know that the enforceability of the new labor standards to which the countries agreed is still lacking, which is a serious problem that needs to be resolved.

Mainly though, we do not have enough detailed information to determine if this initial U.S.-Mexico deal can be the basis for the real NAFTA replacement we’ve been demanding that could stop NAFTA’s serious, ongoing damage.

Plus, a lot of critical issues are still in play.

Canada has not participated in negotiations since May, so it’s unclear where it stands on the terms agreed to by Mexico and the United States.

Sign the petition to Congress demanding a NAFTA replacement that puts people and the planet before corporate greed.

Add your name now.

As we’ve made clear since Day One, an acceptable deal must remove NAFTA’s job outsourcing incentives.

More American jobs continue to be outsourced to Mexico every week, and already almost one million American jobs are certified by the government as lost to NAFTA (and that’s even an undercount).

A NAFTA replacement must remove corporations’ Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) powers to attack our environmental and health laws before tribunals of three corporate lawyers and obtain unlimited sums of taxpayer awards.

And it must add strong labor and environmental standards with swift and certain enforcement to raise wages. Otherwise, U.S. corporations will keep moving jobs to Mexico to pay workers a pittance, dump toxins and import products back for sale here.

From what we have seen up to this point, it is clear that the administration has made some progress, yet there is more that must be done.

Tell Congress to demand that NAFTA negotiators keep working to get a deal worth supporting.

Sign the petition.

The initial deal that has been agreed to by the U.S. and Mexico is supposed to serve as a guide for when Canada rejoins the talks and negotiators try to hammer out details for a final deal in the coming days.

Any new deal must end NAFTA’s job outsourcing incentives and ISDS tribunals where corporations can attack our laws and add strong environmental and labor terms with swift and certain enforcement to raise wages.

No agreement should be signed or vote held until these standards are met.

So it’s especially crucial that Congress hears our demands.

Take action now.

Keep fighting,

Melanie Foley
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Citizens of the World

Happy Pride Day! (Albeit belatedly for some.) As the summer winds down and the kids head back to school, let us consider what kind of world we are working hard to achieve. Is it a world of perpetual war and violence? Or is it a world where everyone is free to use their divinely-inspired talents for the benefit of all? Are we only members of one nationality, ethnic group, race or religion, or can we become true citizens of the world?
Citizens of the World
by C.A. Matthews 
(Toledo Pride Day Parade snapshots by Cindy and Adrian Matthews) 

It's difficult for me at times to see what all the fuss is about in the world. We are all human beings (at least, I assume we all are) and we are all unique in our own ways. If you believe in a positive creative force in the universe, then you probably see all this diversity as a good thing and even a necessary thing. Where would we be if we all looked alike, thought alike, or talked alike? We would become inbred in fairly short order and cease to exist if we only reproduced clones of ourselves. Our society would stagnate overnight and possibly collapse if we didn't welcome new ways of thinking and communicating with each other. Variety is not only the "spice of life"-- it's essential for life itself.
The super-rich establishment's "divide and conquer technique" is an example of insanity at its best then. It is the antithesis of variety and uniqueness. It worships the negation of life itself. It rips society apart into its smallest components by indoctrinating all factions into the "it's my way or the highway!" mentality. By scorning differences between human beings, the one-percenters use "the fear of the other" to crush individuality. Uniformity and tribalism are to be adored. Violence and war enforce the sameness of the status quo. Group think becomes the order of the day. Who better to tell you what to think and how to act than a white male billionaire who claims he deserves to hoard all the world's gifts at his workers'--and the planet's--expense? Who indeed!
Above the lie of violence, uniformity and group think flies the rainbow flag of peace, love and acceptance of others. Pride Day celebrates the fact that we are all citizens of the world. To rejoice in its message, all that is necessary is to refute the establishment's attempts to divide and conquer us through discrimination and hate and embrace the world's need for diversity and tolerance. A few good "free hugs" along the parade route helps, too.
After all, we all were born here on Earth; we all live here, and one day we will all die here (or among other human beings in space). We all have these things in common. All the rest is icing on the cake of life, and it's okay if some folks like their cake with lemon frosting or pink stripes or rainbow sprinkles or just plain vanilla glaze. It's all cake, and it's all good.

Cherish the goodness. Share it with others. Invest your energy into becoming a true citizen of the world and not a slave to denigrating group think. Don't let the establishment crush our individuality in the name of so-called "freedom" that is anything but. Walk proudly, with head held high into a future that includes all of creation living harmoniously together, equally worthy of all the gifts life has to offer.


The attempts by the establishment to divide and conquer ordinary people are ramping up. Lee Camp explains how he and other independent progressive voices are being blocked and banned on social platforms. No diversity of opinion means more uniformity and group think in favor of the wealthy elite's agenda to exploit workers and the world's resources. The way to fight back is by sharing knowledge--knowledge is power. Power to the people!
Jimmy Dore explains how ranked choice voting is a more democratic way to vote and actually increases voter turn out. (It's been successfully implemented in Maine.) This is yet another story you won't hear much about on mainstream media outlets since it challenges the status quo's hold on power.

To Understand What's Happening in the World, We Need a Diversity of Voices--We Need Independent Journalists 
The Revolution Continues has set up an easy way to donate to the cause of independent journalism by keeping it ad-free. We've been publishing over three years without those obnoxious ads (that many news sites have to cover costs). It's been great, but the editor does have to pay for internet, electricity, etc., out of her own pocket. She would like to be able to pay her contributors in the future.

Please consider donating a buck, $5, $10 or $100--any amount you can share with us to keep this progressive site going without those awful ads is appreciated. Help us become a strong alternative voice protesting against the corrupt establishment and its paid-off corporate mouthpieces. Give to TRC today. Thank you.

You can donate via Paypal at http://paypal.me/camatthews 

Power to the people and not the corporations!

The world citizenship movement, which now numbers over 1,000,000 world citizens, was sparked by Garry Davis after WWII. Humiliated by his role as a bomber pilot in the war, Davis declared himself a world citizen, founded the World Service Authority (WSA), and refused to conform to the idea that any person must maintain national citizenship when nationhood is inextricably linked to violence, suspicion, hatred, and war.

Now, we're teaming up with the World Service Authority! When you register for a World Passport (or other world document) with WSA, World BEYOND War will receive 20% of the proceeds. In addition to your World Passport, you'll also receive complimentary gifts from WSA, including a "I'm a World Citizen" button + a copy of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in your language of choice. Register here.

The World Passport, issued by WSA, is a neutral, apolitical document of identity and potential travel document, that has been issued for over 60 years and accepted by over 185 countries on a case-by-case basis. It is a meaningful symbol and powerful tool for the implementation of the right to freedom of travel.

Apply here for your own world passport - and identify yourself as a citizen of the world.

You don't have to renounce your national citizenship, as Garry Davis did, to register for a world passport. But you can travel with it! The legal mandate is stated in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including one's own, and to return to one's country." But, as Garry found out in his travels, not every country upholds this universal right (so be sure to bring your national passport as a back-up). The world passport is a mechanism for advocating on behalf of the human right to travel freely.

What the world citizenship movement shares in common with World BEYOND War is our mutual vision for a peaceful world beyond the divisions of nation states and a global political service institution, or mechanism for global governance, that pursues peace through peaceful means.

When you sign up as a referral from World BEYOND War, your World Passport (or other world document) registration fee will not only support the work of World Service Authority - which provides pro bono legal advocacy and documentation assistance to refugees - but also 20% of the proceeds will go to World BEYOND War, to help sustain, and grow, our ongoing peace education programs and advocacy campaigns for war abolition.

Fill out the form to register for a world passport (or other world document) today!

In peace,

Greta Zarro
Organizing Director
World BEYOND War

P.S. Attend a World Citizenship Workshop with WSA President David Gallup at this year's #NoWar2018 Conference, September 21-22 in Toronto (and travel there on your world passport, like WBW's own Donnal Walter!). Register here for our Toronto peace conference.

From Progressive America:

Manuel Duran Ortega should never have been taken by ICE.

Manuel Duran Ortega―founder of Memphis Noticias, a Spanish-language publication in Memphis, Tennessee―was arrested on April 3 and charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic while covering a local protest. Two days later, the Memphis Police Department dropped the charges against him. But instead of releasing Duran Ortega, Memphis officials turned him over to ICE. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center is fighting for him because he was the only journalist arrested at this protest. His attorneys from SPLC allege that Duran Ortega was targeted by local police in retaliation for his critical reporting.
As Donald Trump continues to attack journalists as "enemies of the people," we need to stand up for truthtellers like Manuel Duran Ortega. An attack on journalists is an attack on our First Amendment rights! 

Thank you!
Mike Phelan
Progress America 

From Friends of the Earth:
Donald Trump hopes to cut a deal on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement by the end of this month.

 You know what that means -- we could soon be one step closer to another trade deal that favors corporate polluters over people and the planet.   

The Senate can still reject Trump’s new NAFTA. But we need your help to push it to act! 
Call your Senators TODAY and oppose Trump’s new NAFTA! 

Trump’s NAFTA would be a disaster for people the planet. It’s yet another example of his administration’s determination to gut environmental protections and hand our lands and waters over to corporate polluters.
This new deal is likely to have a raft of anti-environment provisions. Trump’s stated NAFTA negotiating objectives indicate that he plans to use a new NAFTA to hamstring effective environmental regulation across the board.
 Even worse, Trump could try to sneak these anti-environmental provisions into the fine print -- making it especially hard to stop them. For example, Trump seeks to ease the approval process and promote the export of genetically modified crops. What seems like a small addition could be disastrous for our environment and our food system. And that’s just one instance -- there could be many more! 
 Call your Senators today and stop Trump’s new NAFTA. 

Rejecting Trump’s NAFTA is a no-brainer. It would be horrible for our environment. It would gut protections for food and chemical safety. It would be bad for workers. The only ones who stand to benefit are giant corporations, from Bayer to the fossil fuel industry
Together, we can push Congress to prevent the use of trade deals to gut protections for people and the planet. Thanks to pressure from Friends of the Earth members like you, we stopped the disastrous Trans Pacific Partnership. This shows that when you speak up, your Senators will listen. Now, we need your help to do it again. 

Make a two-minute phone call and tell your Senators to stop Trump from using NAFTA to destroy our environmental protections!

Fighting together with you,
Bill Waren
Senior Trade Analyst
Friends of the Earth

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Zero-Sum Game

What a time to be alive! Will things ever get any better? Are they going to get even worse? Just when We the People  make some inroads in the rights to clean water (see last week's piece on The Lake Erie Bill of Rights and their recent press release, below) corporate interests and paid-off politicians seem to be scheming to throw the measure off the ballot. We can't have ordinary people practicing democracy, can we? 

It seems like we'll never catch a break. Why would anyone--private citizens or corporations--want heavily polluted water? Dirty water can't sustain life and it will clog up factory pipes and fittings. Are capitalists truly that short sighted? It seems like they're using us, like they're playing a game... A  Zero-Sum Game.

 The Zero-Sum Game
by Coast Watcher

Definition of zero-sum: Of, relating to, or being a situation (such as a game or relationship) in which a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other side

        Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
The wildfires currently raging in California have broken all records for size and destruction caused. Firefighters work twenty-four hour shifts combating the blaze. Working and fighting alongside them are men, women and even juvenile inmates from the California state penal system. Where professional firefighters are paid $74,000 yearly and benefits for risking their lives in public service, inmates receive a mere $2 a day, plus an extra dollar if they’re fighting an active fire.

To be eligible as volunteers inmates must not be serving a life sentence or a sentence for arson, sex crimes, kidnapping, gang affiliation or escape attempts. They undergo training in firefighting techniques and field conditions for two weeks before taking a physical exam. Once they pass, they live in one of forty-three low security compounds across the state. They do get some cheap benefits of their own from volunteering to serve. Their compounds allow more freedom than the strict prison regime. The food is better. Families are also allowed to use barbecue pits for their visits and can often spend the night in nearby cabins.

These perks don’t mitigate the fact convict conflagration fighters are poorly paid and risk their lives every time they go out to a blaze. As if that isn’t enough, unlike regular firefighters, their families do not receive compensation for loss of life should the felon firefighter be killed on the job. Once they leave jail none of them can even count their service as a firefighter in their job resumes.

Felons make up to 30% of the Californian fire fighting complement, and the state saves an estimated $80 million a year by employing them. “These are very dangerous jobs,” Jordan Barab, former deputy assistant secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, told Newsweek. “Anytime you see prisoners doing work, they don’t have the same kind of job security or right to complain about unsafe conditions. They can’t quit or go work for different jobs. They either do the job as they’re told to do it or they go back to regular prison. This is a captive group of workers being asked to put their lives on the line.”

Zero-Sum game. The State of California takes a great deal from these people, far more than the value of the crimes committed by the felons, many of whom are African-American or Latino, in jail for minor offenses such as marijuana possession. If you think not adequately compensating felon firefighters for their risky work is bad, consider the practice of convict leasing.

The "leasing" of prisoners as labor to private concerns began in the mid-nineteenth century, and continued well into the twentieth, particularly in the South. Corporations such as United States Steel and the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company used felon laborers, earning the states that used the practice a lucrative sum of money. Working conditions were the worst in the United States. To quote Matthew J. Mancini, it was “One of the harshest and most exploitative labor systems known in American history.”

The practice was formally outlawed by Alabama, the last state to use it, in 1928, although it persisted in various forms until it was abolished by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 12, 1941. But of course the practice didn’t end there.

Cheap or preferably free labor is the corporate wet dream to end all wet dreams. Influenced by corporate lobbying, in 1979 Congress enacted the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program. This permits American companies to use prison labor for virtually no cost. The dramatic increase in the American prison population, especially since the introduction of controversial "three strikes" laws across the country, has provided corporate America with a formidable – and largely cost free – labor pool.

Thanks to the Federal Bureau of Prisons UNICOR program, American companies made over $500 million in sales during 2016 alone. Little of that cash ever found its way to the felon workers. California, already profiting from felon firefighters, also made over $232 million in 2017.

"But isn’t this unconstitutional?" you might ask. Unfortunately not.

Although the Thirteenth Amendment prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude, it made an exception – a loophole for “punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” which made prison labor possible.

Zero-Sum game. Corporate America takes a great deal from these people, far more than the value of the crimes committed by the felons, many of whom are minorities in jail for minor offenses such as marijuana possession.

With criminal convictions escalating by the year, the labor pool is growing. An increasingly autocratic and dictatorial government is enacting and enforcing more laws every month, which means the felon labor pool will grow larger yet. Perhaps the ultimate historical example of the Zero Sum game is King Leopold II of Belgium's personal ownership of the Congo.

Dismayed at the gradual erosion of kingly power and authority in 19th century Europe, Leopold sought a means of making money. Money is, of course, power. He persuaded the United States and then all the major nations of western Europe to recognize a huge swath of Central Africa – roughly the same territory as the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo – as his personal property. Named the Congo Free State, it was the world’s only private colony, and Leopold referred to himself as its proprietor.

Leopold’s rule over the African domain lasted for twenty three years (1885-1908) during which time he had near exclusive control of the world’s rubber production. Disguised as a charitable institution, the Free State was run as a brutal business enterprise with the enslaved population of the Congo as its workforce. Leopold made a vast sum of money from the profits. His wealth was estimated at anywhere between $100 and $500 million – at the top end that’s $14 billion by today’s exchange rate. 

Leopold was one of the world's first billionaires. Worse yet, he was one of the world's largest slave owners. Creating that wealth cost ten million Africans their lives – roughly 50% of the Congolese population at that time through summary execution and disease. Failure to make the rubber crop quota was punished by mutilation. The cutting off of hands and ears was a favorite method of punishment for Leopold’s overseers.

Eventually knowledge of conditions in the Congo leaked out to the world. The resulting outcry proved enough to force Leopold to relinquish his control over the country. Will something similar force the United States to reform its penal system to respect human rights?

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. I don’t think he’d be at all impressed by how his Republican party descendants are exploiting more and more Americans for the sake of pure profit. Perhaps the US is a long way from the totally enslaved population and Zero-Sum production value of nineteenth century Congo, but I think the administrations of the previous thirty+ years have taken a major step in that direction.

Related articles:






Mancini, Matthew J. (1996). One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN9781570030833. p. 1-2.

$1 An Hour To Fight Largest Fire in CA History: Are Prison Firefighting Programs Slave Labor? (video and transcript)

BIO:  Coast Watcher has studied history and notes the patterns of behavior that humans in power seem to repeat. No way do we ever want to create another Congo Free State! Fight back and expose the US for-profit prison complex for what it is--yet another way the super wealthy exploit the labor of the workers.

Lake Erie Bill of Rights Petition Meets Signature Requirements for November 2018 Ballot Access

Discussions continue behind closed doors as Toledoans await decision


August 13, 2018
Markie Miller
Crystal Jankowski
Toledoans for Safe Water
Toledo residents promoting a local initiative, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), for placement on the November ballot, want  to know how many valid voter signatures are needed.The group turned in petitions bearing 10,500 signatures on August 6. The Lucas County Board of Elections notified the Clerk of Toledo City Council on Friday that at least 6,438 were verified as current voters. But the City is still unable to tell the LEBOR campaigners if that is enough to get LEBOR on the ballot.

On August 1, the group's attorney, Terry Lodge, notified Dale Emch, City Law Director, and Gerald Dedinger, Assistant Clerk of Council, that current Ohio law, as determined twice in recent years by the Ohio Supreme Court, requires submission of 5, 244 verified signatures, using a calculation based on the number of voters in the 2017 municipal election. Mr. Emch advised Mr. Lodge on August 3 via email that "While I don’t disagree with your reading of the Heubner opinion (one of the leading Ohio Supreme Court decisions on the subject), the Law Department will not issue an opinion as to how Section 5 of our Charter should be read in light of that ruling."  

Why can’t the City Law Department issue an opinion? “The Lake Erie Bill of Rights is the strongest effort anywhere in Ohio to break a fixed system and fix a broken lake,” said Bryan Twitchell, one of the campaign leaders. “With the signatures counted, and clear legal precedence, there is no reason for the City’s apparent reticence. Any attempt to delay or prevent this issue going to ballot should be interpreted as a violation of the democratic principle that undergird our society, and an attempt by our representatives to stop we, the people, from acting in our own best interests,” he added.

"The number of verified signatures is the highest for a citywide initiative in recent decades and it is the people’s right to place laws on the ballot by initiative,"observed Mike Ferner of Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie. "The City should quickly qualify the petition for the November ballot so we can begin a good discussion on it."

Toledoans for Safe Water made every attempt to obtain an answer from city officials prior to the deadline for submission and asserts that there should be no question at this time as to whether or not their initiative has access to the November ballot. The LEBOR amendment would codify rights of nature in the Toledo city charter and enable citizens and the city of Toledo to deny corporate and government entities the right to pollute the Lake Erie ecosystem by establishing stronger environmental standards than those Ohio currently uses.


It's no game--lives are at stake here. We need to keep this dialog going or else we'll let those who exploit us win.
The Revolution Continues has set up an easy way to donate to the cause of keeping it ad-free. We've gone three years without those obnoxious ads (that many news sites have to cover costs). It's been great, but the editor does have to pay for internet, electricity, etc., out of her own pocket. She would like to be able to pay her contributors in the future.

Please consider donating a buck, $5, $10 or $100--any amount you can share with us to keep this progressive site going without those awful ads is appreciated. Help us become a strong alternative voice protesting against the corrupt establishment and its paid-off corporate mouthpieces. Give to TRC today. Thank you.

You can donate via Paypal at http://paypal.me/camatthews 

Power to the people and not the corporations!


A toddler died shortly after she was released from a U.S. immigrant detention facility. Demand justice.
Sign Now

We have all seen the photos and heard the recordings. At the southern border of the United States, thousands of children have experienced incredible trauma and pain as they are ripped from their parents' arms and locked away in detention centers. But now it's just gotten worse. One detained child has died in Dilley, Texas. 

Sign the petition to demand an investigation into this little girl's death now!
Officials aren't releasing the little girl's name, but we know she was a toddler who was locked away in the Dilley South Texas Family Residential Center. She suffered from a respiratory illness, which activists allege she contracted while in detention. The government did ultimately release her from their prison-like facility, but shortly afterwards, she died.

The government is denying that they had anything to do with this child's death, but lawyers say they have witnessed rampant neglect and inadequacies at Dilley. 

We must hold those responsible for this little girl's death accountable. Sign the petition to help us show that the public is watching and we will not allow this cruelty to go unchallenged.
Thank you for all that you do,

Miranda B.
The Care2 Petitions Team
P.S. A little girl has just died after being detained. We cannot sit back and ignore this horror. Will you sign the petition to demand justice?
From Move to Amend:

As Move to Amend continues to work to pass the We the People Amendment, which includes two parts: corporations are NOT people and money is NOT speech, we are also part of a coalition working together to pass the new DISCLOSE Act. 


The new DISCLOSE Act has been introduced in Congress, and it's stronger than ever:
  • It requires secret money groups to report their funders
  • Includes robust follow-the-money rules to reveal contributors hiding behind front groups
  • Requires leaders of corporations, unions, and other groups to “stand by their ads"
The bill is gaining traction in Congress, and with support from Republican members, could help hold back the tide of corruption until the We the People Amendment passes.  

Please sign the DISCLOSE Act petition now! 

The DISCLOSE Act will help put a stop to millionaries and corporations running our "democracy" while Move to Amend passes the We the People Amendment. Help us get there!
In solidarity,
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap
National Director

P.S. We're not letting up one bit in the fight for the We the People Amendment, but in the meantime, before we win, the DISCLOSE Act would help make sure we at least know where the money is coming from. Sign the petition to tell your Congressmembers to support the DISCLOSE Act!