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Oct 12, 2011

Public Citizen

Big Business is trying to rig the justice system.

Multibillion-dollar banks, cell phone companies, cable providers and other industries are slipping forced arbitration clauses into the fine print of their contracts.

These clauses strip the signer’s right to take the company to court. Instead, consumers and employees who have been hurt or ripped off are forced into a private, secretive tribunal that favors corporations.

Tell Congress: Stop the corporate attack on our rights and end forced arbitration.

No one should have to sign away their rights in order to buy a product or get a job. 

Last April, the U.S. Supreme Court made this bad situation worse. It ruled that corporations can use forced arbitration clauses to also deny people the right to band together in class actions.

In practice, the ruling means if a company decides to illegally charge an extra $10 to its 10 million customers, there is virtually no way for the customers to hold the company accountable for stealing $100 million.

Contracts that use the fine print to ban class actions require each consumer to file his or her claim individually — a burden that virtually no one takes on for a small amount of money.

This is corporate mugging on a grand scale.

The Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 987, H.R. 1873) would fix this injustice. The Consumer Mobile Fairness Act (S. 1652) would specifically fix the problem in contracts for millions of American cell phone and mobile device users. 

Don’t let Big Business rig the justice system.

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Thanks for all you do,

Rick Claypool
Public Citizen’s Online Action Team

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Posted: Oct 12, 2011 9:35am
Sep 24, 2011


The Wilderness Society

The Action Plan for Public Lands and Education Act is a public land giveaway

Western states could be stuck in financial gridlock 
while corporate polluters profit

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2011) - The Wilderness Society today strongly opposed H.R. 2852, “The Action Plan for Public Lands and Education Act of 2011,” introduced in the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. This hearing comes during Great Outdoors America Week, in the heart of National Wilderness Month, and just days before Public Lands Day on September 24.

Testifying before the Subcommittee, David Alberswerth, Senior Policy Advisor at The Wilderness Society, said, “We oppose enactment of H.R. 2852, which essentially requires the federal government to give away 5 percent of the ‘unappropriated public lands,’ in each western state,” which includes most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest lands. “This is an unwarranted and unmerited giveaway of assets owned by all Americans to a select few states.”

According to our initial analysis, the legislation would require 29.8 million acres to be transferred to the western states, effectively giving away tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayer assets without compensation to those taxpayers. In his testimony, Alberswerth offers alternative and better ways to enhance the revenues of western states. For example, oil and gas companies only pay a 12.5 percent royalty rate for oil and gas extracted from federal public lands, while often paying significantly higher royalty rates on state-owned lands.

"… [O]ur recommendation is that, instead of promoting a bill like H.R. 2852 which unnecessarily perpetuates conflicts, misunderstandings, and gridlock over the status and management of America’s public lands and national forests, the sponsors of this legislation should change direction and seek out practical solutions to the nettlesome issues of federal/state land and resource ownership patterns,” Alberswerth said.

Sadly, this legislation comes during a barrage of unprecedented attacks on America’s lands and waters from a minority in Congress:

    • Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-22) has introduced, The Great Outdoors Giveaway, that would give corporate polluters access to over 50 million acres of protected national forests and BLM lands.
    • Devastating budget cuts have been made to our most needed programs, and further cuts could result in closures in our national parks, refuges and other wild places.
    • Several members of Congress have introduced numerous bills that would severely undercut the President’s ability to designate national monuments using the Antiquities Act.
    • Various bills have been introduced that would waive environmental regulations and destroy public lands on our nation’s borders, and eviscerate the Wilderness Act of 1964.

      The Wilderness Society will continue to work with people across the U.S. to ensure that bipartisan wilderness legislation becomes law, and protect our natural heritage for future generations.


      The Wilderness Society is the leading public-lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.

      The Wilderness Society
      1615 M St, NW, Washington, DC 20036

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      Posted: Sep 24, 2011 1:12pm
      Oct 22, 2009
      "Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now"


      1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.

      2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery. The bill to make this happen is called H.R. 3200. You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand its passage, no compromises allowed.

      3. Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Yes, those very members of Congress who solicit and receive millions of dollars from wealthy interests must vote to remove ALL money from our electoral and legislative process. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.

      4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?" (Click here for some info about the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.)

      5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!!


      1. Each of us must get into the daily habit of taking 5 minutes to make four brief calls: One to the President (202-456-1414), one to your Congressperson (202-224-3121) and one to each of your two Senators (202-224-3121). To find out who represents you, click here. Take just one minute on each of these calls to let them know how you expect them to vote on a particular issue. Let them know you will have no hesitation voting for a primary opponent -- or even a candidate from another party -- if they don't do our bidding. Trust me, they will listen. If you have another five minutes, click here to send them each an email. And if you really want to drop an anvil on them,send them a snail mail letter!

      2. Take over your local Democratic Party. Remember how much fun you had with all those friends and neighbors working together to get Barack Obama elected? YOU DID THE IMPOSSIBLE. It's time to re-up! Get everyone back together and go to the monthly meeting of your town or county Democratic Party -- and become the majority that runs it! There will not be many in attendance and they will either be happy or in shock that you and the Obama Revolution have entered the room looking like you mean business. President Obama's agenda will never happen without mass grass roots action -- and he won't feel encouraged to do the right thing if no one has his back, whether it's to stand with him, or push him in the right direction. When you all become the local Democratic Party, send me a photo of the group and I'll post it on my website.

      3. Recruit someone to run for office who can win in your local elections next year -- or, better yet, consider running for office yourself! You don't have to settle for the incumbent who always expects to win. You can be our next representative! Don't believe it can happen? Check out these examples of regular citizens who got elected: State Senator Deb SimpsonCalifornia State Assemblyman Isadore HallTempe, Arizona City Councilman Corey WoodsWisconsin State Assemblyman Chris Danou, and Washington State Representative Larry Seaquist. The list goes on and on -- and you should be on it!

      4. Show up. Picket the local branch of a big bank that took the bailout money. Hold vigils and marches. Consider civil disobedience. Those town hall meetings are open to you, too (and there's more of us than there are of them!). Make some noise, have some fun, get on the local news. Place "Capitalism Did This" signs on empty foreclosed homes, closed down businesses, crumbling schools and infrastructure. (You can download them from my website.)

      5. Start your own media. You. Just you (or you and a couple friends). The mainstream media is owned by corporate America and, with few exceptions, it will never tell the whole truth -- so you have to do it! Start a blog! Start a website of real local news (here's an example: The Michigan Messenger). Tweet your friends and use Facebook to let them know what they need to do politically. The daily papers are dying. If you don't fill that void, who will?


      1. Take your money out of your bank if it took bailout money and place it in a locally-owned bank or, preferably, a credit union.

      2. Get rid of all your credit cards but one -- the kind where you have to pay up at the end of the month or you lose your card.

      3. Do not invest in the stock market. If you have any extra cash, put it away in a savings account or, if you can, pay down on your mortgage so you can own your home as soon as possible. You can also buy very safe government savings bonds or T-bills. Or just buy your mother some flowers.

      4. Unionize your workplace so that you and your coworkers have a say in how your business is run. Here's how to do it (more info here). Nothing is more American than democracy, and democracy shouldn't be checked at the door when you enter your workplace. Another way to Americanize your workplace is to turn your business into a worker-owned cooperative. You are not a wage slave. You are a free person, and you giving up eight hours of your life every day to someone else is to be properly compensated and respected.

      5. Take care of yourself and your family. Sorry to go all Oprah on you, but she's right: Find a place of peace in your life and make the choice to be around people who are not full of negativity and cynicism. Look for those who nurture and love. Turn off the TV and the Blackberry and go for a 30-minute walk every day. Eat fruits and vegetables and cut down on anything that has sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour or too much sodium (salt) in it (and, as Michael Pollan says, "Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants"). Get seven hours of sleep each night and take the time to read a book a month. I know this sounds like I've turned into your grandma, but, dammit, take a good hard look at Granny -- she's fit, she's rested and she knows the names of both of her U.S. Senators without having to Google them. We might do well to listen to her. If we don't put our own "oxygen mask" on first (as they say on the airplane), we will be of no use to the rest of the nation in enacting any of this action plan!

      I'm sure there are many other ideas you can come up with on how we can build this movement. Get creative. Think outside the politics-as-usual box. BE SUBVERSIVE! Think of that local action no one else has tried. Behave as if your life depended on it. Be bold! Try doing something with reckless abandon. It may just liberate you and your community and your nation.

      And when you act, send me your stories, your photos and your video -- and be sure to post your ideas in the comments beneath this letter on my site so they can be shared with millions.

      C'mon people -- we can do this! I expect nothing less of all of you, my true and trusted fellow travelers!

      Michael Moore

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      Posted: Oct 22, 2009 11:18am
      Oct 22, 2009
      Barbara W fwd email; 

      How Corporations Became 'Persons'

      The amazing true story of a legal fiction that undermines American democracy.


      Group challenges corporate personhood in Supreme Court

      Sotomayor challenges corporate personhood
      Sotomayor Issues Challenge to Centuries of Corporate Law

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      Posted: Oct 22, 2009 11:11am
      Nov 27, 2008
      In less than 24 hours, we have already sent more than 65,000 messages to the EPA calling for regulation of carbon dioxide pollution. With your help we can get 100,000 letters to the EPA before the Friday deadline, and send the clear message that we want our climate protected.

      There are only 
      two days left before the EPA closes the public comment period. Will you take a minute, and add your name?
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      Posted: Nov 27, 2008 6:15am


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