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Hundreds of activist organizations had their internet service turned
off last night after the US Chamber of Commerce strong-armed an
upstream provider, Hurricane Electric, to pull the plug on The Yes Men and May First / People Link, a 400-member-strong organization with a strong commitment to protecting free speech.
"This is a blow against free speech, and it demostrates in gory detail
the full hypocrisy of the Chamber," said Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men.
"The only freedom they care about is the economic freedom of large
corporations to operate free of the hassles of science, reality, and
After suffering embarrassment
at the hands of the Yes Men on Monday, the Chamber immediately
threatened legal action, then followed through Thursday by sending a
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to Hurricane Electric
Internet Services. In the DMCA notice, the Chamber claimed that the
parody Chamber website operated by The Yes Men constituted copyright
infringement, and demanded that the site be shut down immediately and
that the creator's service be canceled.
But the Yes Men are not served directly by Hurricane Electric,
but by May First / People Link. And when Hurricane Electric shut down
the fake Chamber of Commerce site (now relocated), they also took down the websites of 400 other organizations.
May First / People Link fought back. They immediately "mirrored" the
site, and then quickly negotiated with Hurricane Electric to restore
service to their other members.
"The DMCA attacks the critically important right we have to
effectively comment and criticize institutions and companies," said May
First/People Link Co-Director Alfredo Lopez. "It's an undemocratic,
backwards law, a perfect example of how the government shouldn't
intrude on our lives. But the Chamber was perfectly happy to use it to
stomp on the Yes Men's rights to free spech, and the rights of hundreds
of other organizations to operate on the web."
The 400 May First / People Link members weren't the only victims of the Chamber's action on Thursday. Today is the start of the national release of the Yes Men's new film, The Yes Men Fix the World. The film is being released in a number of independent theaters - who, not being part of a chain, are heavily dependent on the Yes Men website for selling tickets to the film. The Chamber's actions thus impinge on the ability of these small businesses to turn a profit.
"The Chamber claims to represent 3 million businesses of every size,
yet their actions undermined a fair number of small businesses," said
Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men. "The Chamber is clearly much less
interested in actual freedom, economic or otherwise, than in the
license of their largest members to operate free from the scientific
consensus." (The Chamber has opposed or refused to endorse a climate
bill, the absurdity of which the Yes Men's Monday action was designed to highlight.)
This isn't the first time a Yes Men site has found itself targeted by a
DMCA complaint brought by a large corporation. The Yes Men have in the
past received DMCA notices from Exxon, Dow Chemical, DeBeers, and the New York Times. In each case, the the Yes Men (represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation) refused to comply, and prevailed. Even the George W. Bush campaign sent a complaint to try to interrupt service to GWBush.com, in 2000, resulting in extensive ridicule that culminated in Bush's mind-boggling gaffe that "There
ought to be limits to freedom."
Ever since 1996, the Yes Men have used humor and trickery to highlight the corporate takeover of society, the neoliberal delusion that allows it, the corporate Democrats' responsibility for our current situation, and so on. And while we're all about "building awareness," we do realize that's not all there is, and that it's only ongoing campaigns that really make change.
"Sinema has always been and will always be all about Sinema," said the head of one political advoacy group. "She doesn't care who her policies hurt. She doesn't care that she stood in the way of voting rights and abortion rights, as long as she got the headlines she wanted."
Independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia took heat Tuesday for high-fiving over their shared support of the filibuster while "rubbing elbows with Wall Street CEOs and celebrities in the lap of luxury" at the World Economic Forum's annual summit in Davos, Switzerland.
Sinema—who left the Democratic Party last month—and Manchin sat on a panel with Democrats including Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rep. Mike Sherill (D-N.J.), and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a multibillionaire. Also on the panel were Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Rep. Mária Salazar (R-Fla.).
At one point during the panel discussion, Manchin asked Sinema, "We still don't agree on getting rid of the filibuster, correct?"
"That's correct," the former far-left antiwar activist replied. The two senators then proceeded to high-five.
\u201cAt the World Economic Forum in Davos, surrounded by the super rich, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin agree that they won\u2019t end the filibuster. Then they high-five.\n\nBoth have used their position to hurt working people, and the planet, and make their rich friends richer.\u201d— More Perfect Union (@More Perfect Union) 1673981616
"Sinema has always been and will always be all about Sinema. She doesn't care who her policies hurt. She doesn't care that she stood in the way of voting rights and abortion rights, as long as she got the headlines she wanted," Sacha Haworth, spokesperson for the Replace Sinema campaign, said in a statement. "Now, she's on stage in Switzerland, in front of an audience of billionaires and Wall Street CEOs, bragging about her obstruction and giving high-fives. It's no wonder she's so unpopular among Arizonans of every political stripe."
The Replace Sinema campaign is a Change for Arizona 2024 PAC project focused on "defeating her in a potential three-way general election and replacing her with a real Democrat."
Defending her support for the archaic Senate rule historically used to uphold white supremacy and, more recently, to stymie key Biden administration agenda items, Sinema said that "we had free and fair elections all across the country, so one could posit that the push by one political party to eliminate an important guardrail and an institution in our country may have been premature or overreaching in order to get the short-term victories they wanted."
Replace Sinema noted that the senator is "schmoozing with CEOs, securing more dark money, [and] ignoring her constituents" while "rubbing elbows with major players who ran well-funded campaigns to defeat any tax increases for billionaire corporations and Wall Street." These include members of the Business Roundtable, "including JPMorgan Chase's CEO, the head of Blackrock, the CEO of Hewlett Packard, and an executive at Bain & Company."
"Where's Kyrsten Sinema today? Is she doing her job in Arizona or in Washington?" Replace Sinema asked in a statement. "Nope. She's in Switzerland, of course. At the famous Davos World Economic Forum, where billionaires and Wall Street execs can sidle up to global leaders and hang out with celebrities in the elitist, most rarefied of settings. As far away from her constituents as possible, and in the lap of luxury. Just as Sinema likes it."
"And of course," the group added, "Sinema will get to spend time with her Wall Street allies who have lobbied for many of the same special tax breaks and loopholes for corporations and billionaires that Sinema has championed."
"After health insurance companies raised prices 24% last year and made nearly $12 billion in profits last quarter, 38% of Americans now report they or a family member put off needed medical care because it was too expensive," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "We must end this corporate greed."
Nearly 40% of people in the United States said they or a family member delayed medical care last year due to the prohibitively high cost of treatment under the nation's for-profit healthcare model, according to a Gallup survey published Tuesday.
As U.S. residents faced soaring prices for private insurance, the percentage of them forgoing medical services as a result of the costs climbed 12 points in one year, from 26% in 2021 to 38% in 2022. Of those who reported postponing treatment last year, 27% said they or a family member did so "for a very or somewhat serious condition," up nine points from the previous year.
"After health insurance companies raised prices 24% last year and made nearly $12 billion in profits last quarter, 38% of Americans now report they or a family member put off needed medical care because it was too expensive," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted in response to the new findings. "We must end this corporate greed. We need Medicare for All."
Gallup has been collecting self-reported data on this issue since 2001. The firm's latest annual healthcare poll, conducted from November 9 to December 2, found the highest level of cost-related delays in seeking medical care on record, topping the previous high of 33% (2019 and 2014) by five points and marking the sharpest annual increase to date. The proportion of people who said they or a family member postponed treatment for a serious condition in 2022 (27%) also surpassed the previous all-time high of 25% (2019).
\u201cThe number was up 12 points from 2021.\n\n27% said the delayed medical treatment "was for a very or somewhat serious condition."\n\nhttps://t.co/tlcR97pdbe\u201d— More Perfect Union (@More Perfect Union) 1673977118
Lower-income households, young adults, and women in the U.S. are especially likely to have postponed medical care due to high costs.
According to Gallup:
In 2022, Americans with an annual household income under $40,000 were nearly twice as likely as those with an income of $100,000 or more to say someone in their family delayed medical care for a serious condition (34% vs. 18%, respectively). Those with an income between $40,000 and less than $100,000 were similar to those in the lowest income group when it comes to postponing care, with 29% doing so.
Reports of putting off care for a serious condition are up 12 points among lower-income U.S. adults, up 11 points among those in the middle-income group, and up seven points among those with a higher income. The latest readings for the middle- and upper-income groups are the highest on record or tied with the highest.
Another recent survey found that just 12% of Americans think healthcare in the U.S. is handled "extremely" or "very" well. Such data provides further evidence of the unpopularity of a profit-maximizing system that has left 43 million people inadequately insured, kicked millions off of their employer-based plans when the coronavirus caused a spike in unemployment, and contributed to the country's startling decline in life expectancy.
Last week, prior to the publication of Gallup's poll, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote on social media: "If you don’t believe corporate greed has deadly consequences, take a look at the decline in American life expectancy. We need Medicare for All, and we must raise the minimum wage."
\u201cIf you don\u2019t believe corporate greed has deadly consequences, take a look at the decline in American life expectancy. We need #MedicareForAll, and we must raise the minimum wage.\u201d— Ro Khanna (@Ro Khanna) 1673449140
While the current, profit-driven U.S. healthcare system—which forces millions to skip treatments to avoid financial ruin and allows the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to rake in massive profits—is deeply inefficient and unpopular, polling has consistently shown that voters want the federal government to play a more active role in healthcare provision, with a majority expressing support for a publicly run insurance plan.
Recent research shows that a single-payer system of the kind proposed in Medicare for All legislation introduced by Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) could have prevented hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. over the past two and a half years.
Not only would a single-payer insurance program guarantee coverage for every person in the country, but it would also reduce overall healthcare spending nationwide by an estimated $650 billion per year.
"Millions of Americans across this country are avoiding seeking lifesaving medical care because they're afraid it will bankrupt them," Khanna, a universal healthcare advocate, tweeted last week. "In many cases, their fears are well-founded. We need Medicare for All."
"Now is the time for Congress—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—to have the courage to take on the lobbyists and powerful special interests," said the incoming Senate HELP Committee chair.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday evening is set to deliver a speech in Washington, D.C. about "the state of the working class" and how to address the urgent and overlapping crises it now faces.
Sanders (I-Vt.) is the incoming chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee—a development that has healthcare industry lobbyists worried, particularly given his support for Medicare for All and recent remarks about corporate greed, union-busting, high prescription drugs prices, and the use of subpoena power.
"Before we can effectively go forward in terms of economic policy, it's necessary to know where we are at," Sanders said in a statement promoting the event. "And for working families in this country, the situation is not good."
"Now is the time for Congress—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—to have the courage to take on the lobbyists and powerful special interests," he added, "and show the American people that our government can work for them, and not just the 1%."