By David Dayen for In These Times – “Money is a utility that belongs to all of us,” says Walt McRee. McRee is a velvety-voiced former broadcaster now plotting an audacious challenge to the financial system. He’s leading a monthly conference call as chair of the Public Banking Institute (PBI), an educational and advocacy force formed seven years ago to break Wall Street’s stranglehold on state and municipal finance. “This is one of the biggest eye-openers of my life,” says Rebecca Burke, a New Jersey activist on the call. “Once you see it, you can’t look back.” This ragtag group—former teachers, small business owners, social workers— wants to charter state and local banks across the country. These banks would leverage tax revenue to make low-interest loans for local public works projects, small businesses, affordable housing and student loans, spurring economic growth while saving people—and the government—money. At the heart of the public banking concept is a theory about the best way to put America’s abundance of wealth to use. Cities and states typically keep their cash reserves either in Wall Street banks or in low-risk investments. This money tends not to go very far.
By Todd Larsen for Other Words – At the end of April, hundreds of thousands of people will take part in the People’s Climate March in DC and around the country. The march will send a clear message that the majority of Americans understand that climate change is all too real — and they’ll continue to raise their voices until the government takes action. The march is also a great way to inspire people to take action for climate solutions in their own communities — whether by calling their elected officials or speaking up at town halls, pushing their local and state governments to act, or working with schools and houses of worship to address the climate crisis without waiting for Washington. If all that’s not for you, there may be an even simpler option: Move your money. Many people might not realize that their savings may be working directly against efforts to address climate change. If you bank with any of the largest American banks — including Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — then every dollar you put in to your checking and savings accounts is funding fossil fuel development across the country.
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams – Kicking off a week of actions targeting the institutions financing the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipelines, activists on Saturday protested at banks in 25 cities to shine a spotlight on the roll they are having on climate destruction. “It’s back—and so are we,” reads the call to action. After fierce nationwide opposition forced the Obama administration to halt the project, President Donald Trump has given it the green light and the climate movement has vowed to fight it once again. The peaceful demonstrations are “designed to shine a spotlight on the the four key financial institutions bankrolling the KXL pipeline— Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and TD Bank—and pressure them and the broader financial community to pull out and ‘defund’ the project,” said the Rainforest Action Network, which is organizing the week of protest. In addition to demonstrating outside banks, activists across the country are also planning a banner drop in Los Angeles and a protest targeting local government in San Franciscothroughout the week of action, which will culminate on Earth Day. Find an action near you here.
By Staff of Exposed for CMD – A constitutional convention, something thought impossible not long ago, is looking increasingly likely. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, if 34 state legislatures “issue a call” for a constitutional convention, Congress must convene one. By some counts, the right-wing only needs six more states. Once called, delegates can propose and vote on changes and new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which, if approved, are currently required to be ratified by 38 states. There are two major legislative pushes for a convention at the state level. One would attempt to engineer a convention for a balanced budget amendment only…
By Claire Bernish for Activist Post – First, Iceland, and now Spain has taken on the Big Bankers responsible for financial calamity, as the country’s highest national court charged the former head of Spain’s central bank, a market regulator, and five other banking officials over a failed bank leading to the loss of millions of euros for smaller investors. This, of course, markedly departs from the mammoth taxpayer giveaway — commonly referred to as the bailout — approved by the U.S. government ostensibly to “save” the Big Banks and, albeit unstated, allow the enormous institutions to continue bilking customers without the slightest fear of penalty. Errant bankers and financiers, it would seem, typically manage to either evade actually being charged, or escape hefty fines and time behind bars. Spain’s Supreme Court last year ruled “serious inaccuracies” in information about the listing led investors to back Bankia in error, thus the bank has since paid out millions of euros in compensation.
By Lucy Gellman for New Haven Independent – protesters chained themselves together to block TD Bank’s doors at rush hour Tuesday and spread a Valentine’s Day message: If you love the environment, take your money elsewhere. The demonstration took place beginning at 4:20 p.m. outside of TD Bank on Chapel Street downtown. It was part of a larger protest for which 50 or so New Haveners showed up, voicing their support for water protectors at North Dakota’s Standing Rock reservation a day after a federal judge denied a stay request from Native American Tribes trying to halt construction of the $3.7 billion, 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline. This marks the latest of the local protesters’ divestment-geared efforts, which have included downtown rallies each month since October.
By Emma Niles for Truth Dig – Council Bill 118883 was proposed by Kshama Sawant, the only socialist member currently sitting on Seattle’s City Council. “If Seattle divests from Wells Fargo, it will greatly fuel the inspiring nationwide struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline and the oil lobby,” Sawant said at a rally prior to Wednesday’s vote. “I urge council members to support this legislation as part of Seattle’s fightback against Trump and the billionaire class.” The legislation passed the finance committee Wednesday and, according to Sawant, will go to Seattle’s full City Council for a vote on Feb. 6. Still, many saw Wednesday’s vote as a decisive victory.
By Dylan Charles for Activist Post – More destructive than bombs, money has become the weapon of choice for the global elite, for the hidden hand of finance can plunder and conquer entire nations, assimilate whole cultures, exploit resources and rape the earth while forcing billions into poverty, all with the surprising stealth of pen-strokes and business contracts. Neoliberalism is the economic and political philosophic driving force in the world today. It suggests that human progress is the result of competition, best expressed by an extremist version of unfettered capitalism, where privatization of profits and socialization of losses are acceptable ethics, regardless of human and environmental costs incurred along the way.
By Collin Ruffino for The Leap – I recently became aware that Citibank has provided a significant portion of the financing to Energy Transfer Partners for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. I am writing to urge you to divest from this destructive and unethical project and to cease the financing of all other current and future projects that do not respect native sovereignty or that require the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels. I have been a Citibank customer for X years and will be closing my accounts with your bank and urging others to do so until there is positive action on the part of Citigroup.
By Syed Hussan. Toronto, Canada, Nov. 25, 4:30pm – EST – Three protesters locked their necks to railings inside TD Head office today as native land protectors and allies rallied and drummed outside the bank. Anglican ministers Maggie Helwig and Andrea Budgey, and activist Taylor Flook asked to speak with Bob Dorrance, Chairman, CEO and President of TD Securities asking why he had not yet made a statement condemning the attacks on peaceful land defenders occupying their treaty territory in North Dakota. Protesters are targeting TD in solidarity with water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota, where thousands of land defenders are blocking construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). TD Securities, a subsidiary of TD, has been targeted by protests in recent weeks after the bank was identified as one of the largest funders of the controversial pipeline.
By Steve Ahlquist for RI Future – The FANG Collective targeted a TD Bank branch in downtown Boston early Thursday, shutting down operations there for over two hours. Two activists used bike locks to lock their necks to the door handles at the entrance of the bank, while two other people connected to them with lock boxes. Police, swat teams and fire fighters arrived at the scene and spent hours cutting through the lock-boxes and bicycle locks. All four people were eventually extracted and arrested.
By Mark Hand for DC Media Group – Washington, DC — Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline resumed one day after Donald Trump shocked most prognosticators by winning the U.S. presidential election. In Washington, DC, people gathered in Farragut Square in the early evening on Nov. 9 to express their opposition to the construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline and the financial institutions that are providing loans to its developers.
By Zaid Jilani for The Intercept – A TOP AIDE calculatingly inserted a passage critical of the financial industry into one of Hillary Clinton’s many highly-paid speeches to big banks, “precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those fat cats,” he wrote in an email posted by Wikileaks.
By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – Big bank sponsorship of Climate Week 2016, which kicked off Monday in New York City, “amounts to little more than greenwashing,” according one environmental organization, given financial institutions’ business-as-usual investment in fossil fuels. Indeed, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) charges three major sponsors—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of the West (BNP Paribas)—with “helping [to] drive the climate crisis” through their ongoing funding of extreme fossil fuels such as coal and tar sands oil.
By Kevin McCoy for USA Today – Wells Fargo Bank, one of the nation’s largest banks, has been hit with $185 million in civil penalties for secretly opening millions of unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts that harmed customers, federal and state officials said Thursday. Employees of Wells Fargo (WFC) boosted sales figures by covertly opening the accounts and funding them by transferring money from customers’ authorized accounts without permission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Los Angeles city officials said.