Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Occupy Fear and Loathing / Update ~ Santa Rosa

by Gabrielle Price


We have not reached bat country yet - but have had the most amazing chance encounters while having the truck worked on here in Santa Rosa, California.

On December 17th, my intern and I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mr. Michael C. Ruppert at his home before heading back to Santa Rosa for truck repairs.  Footage is being edited as I type this and a teaser video is coming your way.

Last night, while waiting to hear back about the truck - we visited a local coffee shop owned by a family in the area.  We came across a local publication called the Sonoma County Peace Press, with the words "Why Occupy?" on the cover, Published by the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County.  After chatting with the coffee shop owners we found out the offices for the Peace & Justice center were within walking distance.

We walked down to ask if they would be interested in doing an interview with us and they were having a meeting.  We went down about half an hour later and sat in on a personal introduction session - where everyone shared some personal history about what brought them to the occupy movement.  It was very a very enlightening and emotional experience.

It was announced that the General Assembly was about to begin at the Santa Rosa City Hall grounds.  Several from this group left to attend and we walked toward City Hall a few blocks away to attend and take photos.

Much of the discussion focused on fundraising, with one of the ladies in the group sporting a handmade knit hat with the initials OSR [Occupy Santa Rosa] which is available for sale.

A spokesperson with the group that I had met at the Peace & Justice center, gave me the floor to announce our intent with the occupy Fear and Loathing media tour and to explain our predicament with the truck and the need for a safe place for the night.  The other spokesperson, Jackie, a former police officer, offered her home up for us to stay.

Jackie was scheduled to attend a meeting/discussion at a place called the Share Exchange, where there was a well known author who had been invited to talk about transition.  It was standing room only, however, so we grabbed some food nearby until we heard back that we could come in. It was packed.

We had missed most of the discussion but found that many people in the room were highly in tune with the occupy and transition movements. The owner of the store explained how every product in the exchange was from local artisans, crafters and photographers only. The tagline for the store is "...incubating the local community."  Its intent is to create local jobs, support local entrepreneurs and hosting events in a cooperative work space to encourage collaboration, resource sharing and to act as a regional model.

Jackie introduced us to several other people there and an announcement was made that a couple attending needed a place to stay with their young daughter.  Jackie immediately volunteered her home again as she made a connection with the little girl who was happily chatting up everyone in the store.

The evening ended with a caravan of us following Jackie to her home, nestled behind a green market in Healdsburg.  We shared a late meal and loads of interesting conversation with the folks who stayed with us.  One, a local builder and the couple; a Rumanian storyteller and his wife and daughter.  We talked about everything from permaculture to mythology, to peak water and disaster capitalism.

Never before have I met such gracious, loving and intelligent people in one place, at one time, on one journey, with one collective mindset.

We all see what's coming.  We are all working to prepare the ground for which we hope to see our children and grandchildren walk upon.  People realize that it will look much different than it does now or how it has looked in the past.  This is a frightening realization to many who have not begun to ask important questions, who have been asleep and have placed blind faith in a system that does not care for them or their future; let alone the future of this planet.

Every person involved in this movement should be looking within to ask if they are walking the path of their soul purpose, or if their actions continue to keep the status quo in power. Because make no mistake ~ a movement of the people is inherently a movement rooted in spirit.  This movement is bubbling up like a geyser and it's spirit cannot be broken.

Stay tuned for more updates!
Namaste ~ Gabrielle

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupy Fear and Loathing Media Tour Announcement

by Gabrielle Jones Price

Greetings, Refreshment Center patrons and welcome to our occupy media tour!

This journey began a little over a week ago with my arrival in Portland to meet with TRC's intern and videographer.  I'm writing something everyday since we left on the 10th.  When wireless signals are available and time allows, you'll be seeing more here. The goal is to post every other day if not every day.  We're collecting a lot of photos, video footage and interviews.

So far, we've yet to meet a soul who has not heard of the Occupy movement and the majority [I'm talking VAST] are on the side of the protesters.  From the smallest towns, to the largest cities - the movement is taking root and growing.  There is a genuine spiritual undercurrent and connection happening along the way as well - it is undeniable that the people are making history.

I am pleased to announce that we'll interviewing some important writers, speakers and teachers as we head south through California, to Arizona and on to Texas.  Your support of this journey helps us sustain it - we've had one rough patch with the equipment but that has been remedied now.  Your donation helps us on our journey to deliver 'news you can use' from the Occupy movement.

As always, TRC thanks you for your support in all forms - sharing, reposting, tweeting, commenting and donations as well. 

More soon from the open road!!!


"Don't let the greedheads win." ~ Hunter S. Thompson

TRC is run solely on donations from patrons via PayPal. If you enjoy TRC's work, please consider donating. Any amount is generous. Receipt will read The Road Home, Inc. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Carl Sagan Day / A message from beyond

Carl Sagan would have been 77 today.  Happy birthday, Carl...and thank you.

Critical message from GASLAND director Josh Fox

Save the Delaware River from Fracking

Dear friends-

We've come a long way in the fight against fracking. The flaming faucets in GASLAND has been seen by upwards of 40 million people in 20 countries.  A recent study shows that 4 out of 5 Americans say that they are concerned about the effect of fracking on drinking water.  

But our most crucial stand is less than two weeks away.  

On November 21st the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will vote to approve a plan that will allow for 20,000 or more fracked gas wells in the Delaware River Basin.  We need you to come out and protest the vote in huge numbers.

Because this moment is so important, I made a new video, my first video addressing fracking since GASLAND.


The crucial decision to frack or not to frack the Delaware is in the hands of President Obama and the Governors of Delaware and New York.  We need you to take charge and push them to do the right thing.

I have travelled all over this world, in over 30 states in the USA, to Africa, to Europe, Asia and Australia and one thing is clear:  Fracking is not only one of the most destructive forms of extreme energy development, creating water contamination, horrific and hazardous air pollution and a health crisis, it is a world wide scourge that pushes us farther away from the renewable energy future that we need.

Now the fight comes back to my home, the Delaware River Basin, where it started for me.  But this fight isn't about me.  It's about the drinking water for 16 million people that the Delaware River provides.

If enough of us get out there, we can save the Delaware River and we can win a huge battle in the fight against fracking nationwide and worldwide.  We can inspire the nation and the world to rid ourselves of this dirty form of energy.  

The Delaware River Basin Commission is an interstate body with five voting members, the Governors of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey and the Obama Administration as represented by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Three out of five votes will either pass or reject the plan to frack the Delaware River.  

It seems clear that the Governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania will vote to allow fracking on a huge scale in the River Basin, which is why we need all three remaining votes in order to prevail.

Like the massive actions these past few months against Tar Sands development and the Keystone XL pipeline, this decision will be a "watershed" moment for President Obama and a must win for us fighting against extreme energy development.

Not only is the Delaware River the source of drinking water for 16 million people (or 5% of Americans), it is a designated Wild and Scenic river, a tourist destination for 5.4 million people a year and a national treasure.  The proposed plan to frack the Delaware would forever industrialize and contaminate this precious and currently pristine watershed.  We can work together now to protect our water.  

We are asking you to do two things:

1) Make calls.  2) Come join us in an amazing protest effort on November 21st.

Call the Army Corps of Engineers to urge them to vote no fracking in the Delaware River Basin.  Tell them you will hold President Obama accountable for the vote and make it clear that you know that it is his decision.  703 697 4672 Leave a message for Jo Ellen Darcy, Obama's rep on the DRBC

Call Governor Jack Markell of Delaware.  Delaware has been sitting on the fence on fracking.  We need them clearly and unequivocally voting no.  Tell him to vote no fracking on the upcoming DRBC vote.

Call Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.  Tell him to oppose fracking in the Delaware River Basin watershed, just as he has in the New York city and Syracuse watersheds.  518-474-8390 

PROTEST on NOVEMBER 21st in Trenton, N.J.

When: November 218 am
Where: Patriots Theater at the War Memorial1 Memorial Drive Trenton, N.J.
Coming from another location?  Bus sign up HERE.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network will host a training session in lawful, peaceful, first amendment activity on November 2oth in New York City and Trenton. 
NYC, Sign up HERE.
Trenton, Sign up HERE.
Questions:  savethedelawareriver@gmail.com and/or continue to check back.
AND just for a shot in the arm, here is a special statement from our friend, Bill McKibben:
"We're obviously deep in the trenches in Keystone XL pipeline fight, which has galvanized the whole country. But it's not just the pipe we're fighting, it's the carbon it carries. And that carbon--that extreme energy, the second round of fossil fuels now that the easy stuff is gone--doesn't just come from tarsands. It also comes from removing mountaintops for coal, and from drilling deep under the ocean--and, urgently, from fracking. We've simply got to somehow slow the rush to this new and dangerous technology, which promises to overwhelm the atmosphere with global warming gases. "

I've never had more resolve, I've never been more challenged and yet I've never felt more proud of us and our strength that I do right now.  I know we can win. Please join us and act quickly.
For more info go to www.savethedelawareriver.com.

Thank you,
Josh Fox
Director, GASLAND
Milanville, PA

P.S. Pass it on.

Gasland 2 is in production.  Help us continue our work as the film comes to fruition!  Donate HERE.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Planting Change: Guerrilla Gardening & the Occupy Movement [update]

[via OccupyWallSt and our friends at Seismologik.com]

Guerrilla gardening is the occupation of ill-used land to support the communities and ecosystems to which that land rightfully belongs. As the Occupy movement "puts down roots" in public and private spaces across the world, guerilla gardening is essential to growing a sustainable movement free from dependence on corporate systems.

Over the coming months, One Pack Productions and Seismologik Media will showcase some of the amazing people who are creating actions which can inspire people to practice being the change they wish to see in the world. For more information on guerrilla gardening, check out guerrillagardening.org.

Meet the Guerrilla Gardeners.

Students from Sterling College in Vermont came down to Occupy Wall Street and showed us how to plant and sow seeds anywhere where there is soil. In this short film, they demonstrate how easy it is to grow winter greens and beets right in the parks flower beds, and then speak earnestly and passionately about the importance of farming, and understanding where our food comes from. 

Occupy Together. Grow Together.

UPDATE : This story was picked up by 350.org - congrats to Seismologik! 


Guest post by Danny Schechter 
[via OwsNews Service]

I am Danny Schechter, known as the News Dissector.  I am a blogger (NewsDissector.com), Filmmaker (PlundertheCrimeofOurTime.com) and fellow troublemaker.

I am a former producer for CNN and ABC News and even did a stint at CNBC.  But these networks are not open to independent perspectives, even from former employees and award-winning professional producers.  I had to go to Iran’s Press TV to find interest to make a short documentary about HOW Occupied Wall Street operates on the ground at Zuccotti Park.

Here’s my program that has already been on TV all over the world — but not in my own country.  What does that say about our media?  Most mainstream media, alas, serves the 1%, not the American people.

From Press TV : Occupy Wall Street had just celebrated its 30th day in the park. On Saturday, it inspired solidarity actions in 1000 cities and that is considered as an incredible achievement.

We have heard a lot about what they stand for but not how they organized to make this happen.  This occupation runs like a village with lots of participation from a diverse group of articulate people.

“Behind the scenes of occupy Wall Street is an organization that is pretty invisible. It is decentralized,  it’s bottom up and it’s organized into working committees,” editor of the Mediachannel.org, Danny Schechter says.

In this edition of the show we will take you behind the scenes of Occupy Wall Street to show you how it all works.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guest post : Occupy Portland

Arran Edmonstone of the Love Police Cascadia and The Refreshment Center speaks with the 99% helping in the liberation of Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon.

America's Wake Up Call / Oh say...can YOU see?

Take into consideration, Hillary's words regarding free speech and freedom of assembly during the uprising in the Middle East. That very same week, the Secretary of State gave a major address calling for internet freedom around the world. As Hillary condemned the Egyptian and Iranian governments for arresting and beating protesters, former U.S. Army and CIA officer Ray McGovern was violently ejected from the audience and arrested after he stood up and turned his back in a silent protest of America’s foreign policy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

BBC Does It Again: "In The Absence Of A Credible Plan We Will Have A Global Financial Meltdown In Two To Three Weeks" / IMF Advisor

[Guest post from Zerohedge's Tyler Durden.  This is a site that has continually kept a finger on the pulse of the market - as savvy as they are, they see how it now behaves like a wild animal and to that end, realize what is normal/abnormal and also unprecedented.  Their traffic has grown exponentially over the course of the last few months and when this post was listed as top story today - the link would not post a preview, nor would the link properly function (in fact, it jumped to Obama's jobs speech post, incredulously).  In the spirit of sharing much needed information - I present it here, unedited. ~ G]

A week after the BBC exploded Alessio Rastani to the stage, it has just done it all over again.  In an interview with IMF advisor Robert Shapiro, the bailout expert has pretty much said what, once again, is on everyone's mind: "If they can not address [the financial crisis] in a credible way I believe within perhaps 2 to 3 weeks we will have a meltdown in sovereign debt which will produce a meltdown across the European banking system.  We are not just talking about a relatively small Belgian bank, we are talking about the largest banks in the world, the largest banks in Germany, the largest banks in France, that will spread to the United Kingdom, it will spread everywhere because the global financial system is so interconnected.  All those banks are counterparties to every significant bank in the United States, and in Britain, and in Japan, and around the world.  This would be a crisis that would be in my view more serrious than the crisis in 2008.... What we don't know the state of credit default swaps held by banks against sovereign debt and against European banks, nor do we know the state of CDS held by British banks, nor are we certain of how certain the exposure of British banks is to the Ireland sovereign debt problems."

But no, Morgan Stanley does, or so they swear an unlimited number of times each day.  And they say not to worry about anything because, you see, it is not like they have any upside in telling anyone the truth.  Which is why for everyone hung up on the latest rumor of a plan about a plan about a plan spread by a newspaper whose very viability is tied in with that of the banks that pay for its advertising revenue, we have one thing to ask: "show us the actual plan please."  Because it is easy to say "recapitalize" this, and "bad bank" that.  In practice, it is next to impossible.  So yes, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy this brief relief rally driven by the fact that China is offline for the week and that the persistent source of overnight selling on Chinese "hard/crash landing" concerns has been gone simply due to an extended national holiday.  Well, that holiday is coming to an end.

By the way, Reuters, Shapiro is not a Yes Man - we'll spare you the ruminations.

First Collective Statement Of Occupy Wall Street

As read by Keith Olbermann w/transcript below.  Please share, repost, G+ and tweet for democracy!
Follow #occupywallstreet #OWS #ourwallstreet #sept17 
and get out and occupy your city!


Official Collective Statement :

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big Brother Fed / We Fart In Your General Direction

After reading this flabbergasting post (you have to read it to believe it) at the always informative and courageous site, ZeroHedge, titled: 
Here Comes FIATtackWatch: Ben "Big Brother" Bernanke Goes Watergate, Prepares To Eavesdrop On Everything Mentioning The Fed

We here at The Refreshment Center have decided that old McCarthy noodle just won't stick to the wall here.  If you've never seen 'Good Night And Good Luck' you should rent it yesterday.  Edward R. Murrow is a hero of sorts here and we surely believe that he would never bow down to such base and unconstitutional fear-mongering.  But here's the thing - it's not the government really doing the fear-mongering.  It's the Money Masters.

The Money Masters is a MUST WATCH for every American citizen.  And it is more important now than ever before that Americans understand how our monetary system works.  You'll understand why The Fed is so afraid of it's reputation in the eyes of the public when poop is hitting the fan in Europe and countries like Greece are looking at default.

They probably should have started worrying when Ron Paul's book, 'End The Fed' became a top seller.  They are ridiculously late in their concern for knowing what the 'little people' think.

It's a long movie - take breaks throughout but please make time to watch.
Your family, children and grandchildren will thank you for it.

PS: Bernanke, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
Now go away or we shall taunt you a second time.

The Money Masters - Full-Length (3hrs 29m)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wall Street ~ Then and Now

Stunned crowds gathered outside the Subtreasury after the crash of 1929.
Awakened crowds crash on Wall Street, 2011.


by Greg Palast and Oliver Shykles

[This essay grew out of Palast's remarks in a debate with Thomas Friedman before a World Economic Forum meeting in Cleveland in April, 2001.  Dated?  Yes.  Relevant?  Even more so now.  We must know the destructive history of 'free market' capitalism and bonehead economics in order to reasonably address (and get past) the complete myth of 'growth'.  We have to create a new meme for sustainable, local solutions so they can take root and thrive.  You can't know where you're headed if you don't know where you've been. ~ Gabrielle]

Globalization is really neat. Just ask Thomas Friedman. He has a column in the New York Times and he wrote a big, fat best-selling book, "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" which explains it all to us - the marvels of the New Globalization Order.

Now right there in my Lexus book it says that in this brave new world we will all have internet-enabled cell phones which will allow us to trade Amazon.com stock and, at the very same time, we can talk to Eskimos. The really exciting part is we will all be able to do this from our bedrooms in our pajamas.

When he's not in his pajamas Friedman is in fact one of a gaggle of happy-go-lucky globalizers running around chirruping the virtues of globalization in its current form. He lays out, on a level of detail never seen before, the ability of globalization to democratize three key areas: technology, finance, and information. He argues that everyone in this global New World Order will have access to the all the technology, finance and information they need to live healthy and happy lives.

And so when I finished reading his book I thought to myself, "Wow! This is a future I want to be a part of." Just imagine, every village from the Andes to Shaker Heights will be connected, empowered and enabled and that's one heck of a future. I want this and I want it now. But hold on a minute ... I just picked up the paper and it said that 100,000 people massed in Genoa to protest against the G8: that is the eight largest industrial nations driving forward globalization. And 10 months before 20,000 people had gathered in Prague to demonstrate against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund: two of the key international agencies driving free trade expansion, a guiding force behind globalization.

So what the heck is wrong with these protesters, don't they understand? Haven't they heard about the Eskimos? Don't they understand economics? As the Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, explains, "The protests and people who indulge in the protests are completely misguided. World Trade is good for peoples' jobs and peoples' living standards", "These protests are a complete outrage." But, you have to forgive youth it's lack of sophistication. They obviously haven't read the Gospel of Globalization according to Thomas, nor their daily scripture, the New York Times.

The answers were first became widely known as "Thatcherism" in Britain and "Reaganomics" in the US and then later as "The Washington Consensus". As Friedman puts it, "The Golden Straightjacket first began to be stitched together [...] by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. That Thatcherite coat was soon reinforced by Ronald Reagan."

In fact, it's a very lucky thing that global capitalism happens to be such a good system because as far as Friedman is concerned it's now the only one left. Socialism, communism and fascism have all gone kaput, "The Cold War had the Mao suit, the Nehru jackets, the Russian fur. Globalization has only the Golden Straightjacket." And so all that's left in our closet is Friedman's golden straightjacket but it's okay because, as Friedman puts it, "the tighter you wear it the more gold it produces." So strap yourselves in! Everyone still breathing okay? Then I'll continue.

So there are no dissenters now, we all agree, we're all wearing the same straightjacket. As Friedman explains on page 106 of his book, it was all democratic, we all got to take part in the debate. And I thought about this and I remembered that we did have a choice, Friedman was right. We had our choice of George W. Thatcher, Reagan Clinton Bush or Al Thatcher Reagan Gore. You see, there's no room in the golden straightjacket for anyone who doesn't agree. And as Friedman himself admits, "it is increasingly difficult these days to find any real difference between ruling and opposition parties in those countries that have put on the Golden Straightjacket ... be they led by Democrats or Republicans, Conservatives or Labourites, Christian Democrats or Social Democrats."

So just when I was getting sized up for my own straightjacket, and boy was I excited, I read that there were riots in Ecuador. And I remember thinking to myself, "Oh my, why are they in the streets?" There are people in the streets and there are tanks too. And I thought to myself, "Perhaps the Internet is down, perhaps they're trying to unload their Amazon.com stock which is dropping like crazy. They can't log on. It's all jammed up. I mean, the future's on hold here. Will someone please call AOL."

Right on the front of one of them it said "restricted distribution" and "it may not otherwise be disclosed without World Bank authorization." It was a "confidential", for eyes only, document. I couldn't resist the temptation so pretend you never saw what I'm about to reveal to you - when you've finished, rip out this chapter and eat it right up. So I opened up the document. It was called The Ecuador Interim Country Assistance Strategy. I read this strategy and it included a schedule for raising the price of cooking gas. Now, they used to call these things "Structural Assistance Plans" but oops, they got a bad name, so like all the best PR firms, they did the right thing and changed the name. Now they're known as "Poverty Reduction Strategies ". Nothing like a little whitewash to keep people quiet. But the people of Ecuador weren't keeping quiet, so I read on ...

Along with the forced hike in cooking gas prices the World Bank required the elimination of 26,000 government jobs. Other poverty reduction strategies included a cut in pensions and a cut in real wages nationwide, by half no less, all this through World Bank directed macroeconomic manipulation. Part of the plan included the handing over of a license for a trans-Andes pipeline controlled by British Petroleum. I wasn't sure; perhaps I had become confused. Maybe they meant that the poverty reduction program was a poverty reduction program for British Petroleum.

In all, the World Bank and IMF helpfully "suggested" 167 strategies as part of its loan package. But Ecuador was broke, that's why it had asked for the World Bank's help in the first place. It desperately needed the wampum, so desperately in fact that it had no choice but to accept these strategies. I shall, therefore, refer to these "strategies" as conditions, which is what they are, loan conditions. No ifs, no buts, sign on the line thank-you very much.
Oddly I didn't read about Structural Assistance Plans or the 167 conditionalities for Ecuador in my Lexus nor in the Times. But just hold on a moment, what happened to democratic finance? Thomas Friedman, our new apostle, said that anyone can obtain finance capital now, it's all democratic. Hey, he said, even David Bowie can issue bonds (to the tune of $55 million no less). Maybe Ecuador's problem was that it didn't have a rock star to co-sign with them.

But there's a bigger problem here, these conditions weren't just put together especially for Ecuador. Any country in crisis receiving a loan package from the World Bank gets a neat little set of conditions along with their loans, 111 on average. Now you'd think that if they were doing all these wonderful things to reduce poverty they would want to shout it from the rooftops. Hey, perhaps they're just modest. In fact, talk about modesty - did you know they even found a cure for AIDS? Yes indeed, I kid you not.

But before I tell you how they did it you first have to understand all the conditions, all the little nuggets that can be found in the pockets of our golden straightjackets. So let's enumerate them just as Thomas Friedman does on page 105 of his book. Okay, privatization is number one. Second is deregulation: you've got to get rid of all those dull bureaucrats and their thick rule books, you know they just get in the way of things. Next is free trade: drop the borders between people and all the nice things they want. Four, free up the capital markets, let capital flow in order to generate business and jobs worldwide. Five, support those international agencies which enforce our new international order - the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and let's not forget the good ol' World Trade Organization. In other words don't dye your hair green and go into the streets of Seattle and break the windows in a Starbucks. And finally: you must look for a market-based solution. Remember, that's the one that gives you the "win-win" situation.

Now, I can tell you that it's with the market based solution that they found a cure for AIDS in Tanzania. Now in Tanzania the silly things used to give away health care. Can you believe it? So what World Bank said was, "You've got to stop being so scatterbrained and start charging for medical care", "You've got a health care crisis and you've got to cure it with our market based solution".

In a nation with 1.4 million people with HIV/AIDS that means a lot of visits to the hospital. So when you start charging those people to visit the hospital they stop coming. In Dar Es Salaam the number of hospital visits dropped by 53%. That's quite a cure and I don't think anyone could beat that.

Now, globalization has many other "success" stories. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher took the electricity system and she privatized and deregulated it. Electricity used to cheaper in Britain than in the US but now consumers pay 70% more per unit than their American counterparts. The same process was applied to the gas system and the charges shot up to a level some 60% higher than in the US where some type of regulation still exists. Water in the US is still mostly a publicly owned system but the British, still not satisfied with the privatization and deregulation of the gas and electricity industries, went about the same process with the water industry. Now the happily straightjacketed folks there pay 250% more than we do in the US.

So tickled were they with their clever programs of privatization and deregulation they decided to spread the good news. The system spread, via a World Bank loan condition, to Brazil. There the electricity industry was targeted and the Rio Light Company of Rio de Janeiro was taken out of public hands. The new British, French and American owners came along and said, "Just look, look at this bloated and inefficient company and its huge payroll". So they immediately set to work making it lean and mean. And mean it was: they knocked off 40% of the workforce. But there was a problem; the workers knew where the transformers were. So the lights in Rio de Janeiro started flickering and Rio Light is now know as Rio Dark. But that was not all, for a flickering light system the people of Rio de Janeiro got to pay double what they had paid prior to privatization. But don't panic; it's not all doom and gloom. There was a huge increase in profits.

So after the failed attempt at privatization in Brazil they said, "well, let's try it again, we'll do it right this time. We'll go to India". And that failed, so they went to Pakistan: the attempt there became one of the reasons why they had a military coup. So they went to Chile and that didn't work there either. So they said, "Let's try, one more desperate time. We'll go to a place that understands the future. We'll go to California and they'll get it, they'll be able to deal with deregulation. They'll get the wonderful effects of reductions due to the miracles of the markets. There'll be competition and prices in California, which are too high, will plummet." In fact when the Californian legislature voted to de-regulate the price of electricity, they even changed the law to the effect that prices would fall 20%. Yet, year on year prices rose in the wholesale market in California. Actually in one year they rose 380%. So faced with a terrible problem in California they went to Cleveland instead.

While I was in Cleveland to debate Thomas Friedman I got a letter from my friendly-faced hotelier. It read: "Dear Guest, due to the current energy issue, a surcharge is being applied nightly to all guest accounts'. Well I'll tell you it's not an "energy issue". It's a crisis. And it's not a crisis of energy; it's a crisis of globalization. It's a crisis of a plan that never seems to work.

I used to work as an advisor with the utility commission of Ohio, amongst others, and we were thinking about what to do about the billions spent on nuclear plants and other wasteful projects that went nowhere. That was in the 1980s, in the bad old days before de-regulation, so the answer we came up with was simple: you put a cap on the price. You just put a cap on it. You regulate in the public's interest. But little did I know that we should have looked for the market-based solution. I am now reading Paul Krugman. Now he is the guy that appears in the New York Times with Thomas Friedman. So there it was, Friedman the globalizer and Krugman the globalizer and they agree with each other. Krugman says, "I know the solution to bring down the prices of supplies: what we should do is remove all caps and allow electricity prices to rise." And I said, "Wow!" I didn't think of it; that's really deep. If you want the prices to go down you raise them. And I thought about that. It's like a one hand clapping thing.

I have to confess I didn't understand it at all. I said, "This is beyond me. I had better go to one of the gurus of globalization. I mean one of the inventors of market-based solutions. You know: the top banana." So I went to Cambridge University with my camera crew from BBC. And I sat down, for several hours, with the man himself; the voice of globalization, Professor Joseph Stiglitz. Now Stiglitz was the chief economist of the World Bank. The guy who wrote some of these plans and conditions. The guy who came up with these market based solutions. And so I said, "You've gotta answer this for me. I'm really losing it, Professor Stiglitz. To cut electricity prices you raise the prices. To cure AIDS, you raise the price of medicine. To stop the hemorrhage of capital in Ecuador, you remove capital controls on the export of capital. I don't get it."

And so he explained it to me sort of like this, "You see, in the Middle Ages, they used to put leeches on people's bodies when they were ill and they would get sicker and sicker. And you know what they would say? They would say, "You know what? You know what's wrong? There's still blood." So they would apply more leeches. And that's how the globalisation program works. You just keep applying leeches and if a little deregulation seems to be making the system sick what you need is more deregulation to try to cure the system." And I said, "You know what? You don't sound like you're wearing your straightjacket." And he replied, "Well I'm not, not anymore". Despite the fact that there's supposedly no dissent, he was dissenting; and this is the guy who conceived the system.

So I asked him "What happened here then?", and he said, "Well, you know, economics is a science. It's a dismal science, but it's a science. And you know what the problem with globalization and the program of privatizations, deregulation, liberalisation of capital markets are? They don't work." And he told me to take a look at Latin America in the period 1960 to 1980. In the Dark Ages in which they had all kind of government regulations, controls, quasi-socialist economies and government intervention, Latin America's per capita income grew by 73%. The same went for Africa; its per-capita income grew by 34%. But it was "inefficient" and we thought we could do better with free-market solutions. And so it began in 1980, with the International Monetary Fund and then the World Bank, sending out structural assistance programs with loan conditions. They said, if we're going to give you money, you've got to change your economy.

Then came the economic miracle. Latin America, in the next 20 years in its straightjacket, went from 73% growth per capita income to just about nothing: 6%. Africa, which had grown at a pokey 34% during those 20 years, has since dropped by 23%. The privatization program became what Professor Stiglitz called the "briberization" program. What happened was that privatization became the means to sell off the country to bandits who then had no reason to operate businesses so instead they just sold off the assets. And that's what happened in Russia and there it resulted in a depression. I said to him, "You sound like a bitter man. Did it work for anyone, is it all doom and gloom?" He said, "Oh no, you look at the numbers for Asia; the World Bank always talks about how well Asia did. That's because of China and the tremendous growth it experienced." And I asked him what China's trick was and he replied, "They didn't listen to us!" China said, "We're not privatising; we're not liberalizing. Worry, keep your straightjacket."

I asked him if there were any other good stories. He said, "Yeah, Botswana." "So what did they do?" I asked. He said - no points for guessing - Botswana, it turns out, also said "Forget it." Botswana was the one nation in Africa that refused the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's help.

So it had all gone bad. The protesters were going to be out in the streets this week and there were protests going on in Ecuador. In fact, when we talk about protests we think about Seattle and Genoa and the claims that all these white college kids are just out there because they don't know what to do with themselves, and because they just don't understand economics. But what you didn't hear about was the 400 protests that took place in the Third World in 1999 alone. There they understand exactly what's going on.

But how come we never hear about these demonstrations on our televisions or in our newspapers? Well, it's because Thomas Friedman the globalizer, on the political left, writing in The New York Times, agrees with Milton Friedman the globalizer, on the political right. And the opinion in The Times matches the opinion in the Washington Post, which matches the Financial Times which matches ABC, NBC, BBC and CBC and any other mainstream media outlet you care to mention. And so it would seem that everyone agrees now. That is everyone who is doing quite well, thank you very much, out of globalization and out of the suffering of billions of people. They are not going to tell you about suffering on the streets in the First World and the Third World caused by the undemocratic international agencies and our supposedly democratically elected governments (the idea of democracy is based on a choice - a real choice, not a choice between globalistas and globalistas). They won't tell you that this system is a mess because it is not in their best interests to do so.

Currently the wealth of the world's 475 billionaires is greater than the combined income of the poorest half of humanity. But Friedman still wants to assure us that, "The answer is free-market capitalism. Other systems may be able to distribute and divide income more efficiently and equitably, but none can generate income to distribute as efficiently as free-market capitalism." I'm sure that the poorest half of humanity feels much better now Mr Friedman, thank you.

But there was nothing wrong with the international control of trade when the World Bank - that is the World Bank that John Maynard Keynes devised - came along and rebuilt the nations that had been flattened by World War II. The International Monetary Fund also helped by correcting the imbalance of trade that resulted from changes in commodity prices. But things changed in 1980 when we all climbed into our golden straightjackets with Thatcher, Reagan and Milton Friedman. The agencies were taken over by the Free-Market Believers who had plans for structural adjustment, globalizing and economies free of government.

"So where did we go wrong?" I asked myself. In my pile of confidential papers I found a General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) from the secretariat of the World Trade Organization. You're not supposed to see this either, but what the heck. This document contains a discussion of something called the "necessity test" and it tells you the real plan behind the several "democracies" Friedman says are the gift of globalization.

The "Necessity Test' appears within GATS article 6.4. Now I know this has nothing to do with trading stock in your pajamas, but this is what globalisation is really about. This is the plan for the establishment of a panel which will set national laws and regulations. What this innocuous looking article means is that only those regulations of a nation which are "least burdensome" to business for "legitimate policy purposes" are allowed. Legitimate policy purposes? But I thought that's what nations had Congresses and Parliaments for: it is for Congress and Parliament to decide what is legitimate and what is not. A "necessity test" already exists in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); this will be expanded in the FTAA and this is why there were people in the streets in Quebec in April 2001.

So what happened under NAFTA with this "Necessity Test"? Well, there's an interesting story here: it's the story of the case of Metalclad, a US based company who wanted to build a toxic dump in Mexico. It was one of the new breed of globalizers following the advice of Larry Summers, who said that the Third World is under polluted from an economic point of view. Summers is the guy who was US secretary of the Treasury and Stiglitz's predecessor at the World Bank, so he must know what he's talking about. He was also the guy who demanded that Stiglitz be fired for dissent. (So now there cannot be any dissenting, because we all agree, right? There is no dissent now, because if you dissent your head is cut off and put on a spike on L Street, Washington. But I digress) So Metalclad wanted to put a toxic dump into a central Mexican state, on top of an aquifer, no less. And Mexico said, "You know, we have our rules. You can't put a toxic dump above our water supply." And Metalclad said, "Have you read NAFTA?" And so Metalclad took Mexico to court under the NAFTA "Necessity Test" rules.

But the NAFTA disputes panel is not like the courts as you know them, where things are open. The NAFTA disputes panel is secret, closed to the public. So Metalclad made their case and it turned out that Mexico was being "trade restrictive". So not only did Mexico get a toxic waste dump right on top of their aquifer but they also received a bill for millions of dollars for delaying the toxic dumping.

But it's not just Mexico that has experienced the full force of NAFTA, California now faces a bill for $976 million as punishment for not changing its anti-pollution laws. The trade restrictive hooligans there wanted to stop a Canadian company from selling them their toxic gasoline additive.

But I just couldn't get Ecuador off my mind so I went back to Stiglitz and asked him about how those pesky folks got into financial trouble in the first place. He told me the International Monetary Fund and World Bank years ago forced Ecuador to liberalize its capital markets, remove all restrictions on ownership of bonds on the movement of money across borders. This way, capital can easily flow in and flow out. But the capital flowed out and it flowed out. So the IMF said, my god, you gotta get that money back, start raising interest rates! So Ecuador raised their rates 10 ... 20 . 30 ... 40 ... 50 ... 60 ... 70 ... 80 ... 90%. But that caused the economy to go into the tank. Then the World Bank said "Well you can't raise interest rates anymore, so start selling everything that isn't nailed down." And when that money was used up to pay creditors the bank ordered a price rise on items like cooking gas.

Yet despite the World Bank's success, some people didn't want to put on their golden straightjackets. In 2000 there was a protest in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was a protest against the privatization and deregulation of the local water company and it was led by the local Archbishop and a union leader named Oscar Olivera. The privatization and deregulation was part of the World Bank's cure because Cochabamba had problems; only 35% of the people there had good drinking water. So of course the World Bank said we have an idea: let's privatize the water company. And so they passed Cochbamba's problems to Bechtel, an American company, and International Water of London because they will know what to do, they will apply a market-based solution. And they did: they raised the price of water. That's why there were people on the streets.

Hugo Banzar, who used to be Bolivia's dictator but who had now become president, sent in the tanks. And then I got this note which told me that two days later a 17 year-old, Hugo Daza, had been killed, shot through the face. A friend of mine, who knows his family, told me that he was just in town to run an errand for his mother. In the protests that ensued four more people were shot dead. Jim Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, was asked about the incident a couple of days later. He said, "The riots in Bolivia, I am pleased to say, are quieting down'. He then went on to warn the Bolivians that they had better start paying their water bills.

A year later the protesters won, and the price of water dropped. But then it started creeping up again. Then I got another note telling me that Oscar Olivera and the Archbishop, head of the human rights committee, had led another peaceful protest. The authorities had responded by sending in close to 1,000 heavily armed members of the Bolivian security forces to disperse the peaceful marchers with tear gas, beating them and confiscating their personal possessions. Oscar Olivera went missing.

It turned out that he had been detained by the authorities, an action which contravened Bolivian law: Article 7 of the Bolivian constitution guarantees citizens the right to protest and the freedom to meet and associate for legal ends. I understand now why Thomas Friedman, despite talking at length about the democratization of technology, of finance and of information, only once mentions the democratization of democracy and it's right there on page 167 where Friedman proudly explains democracy IMF-style: "It's one dollar, one vote."

I've gotta go now, I gotta get my cell phone, get in my pajamas and tell those Eskimos what's really goin' on.