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  • Abby Martin is an internationally known journalist

  • who hosted the no-holds-barredBreaking the Seton Russia Today.

  • She currently writes and directs a weekly documentary series called The Empire Files,

  • on teleSUR English.

  • She founded her own media organization, Media Roots,

  • and sits on the board of Project Censored,

  • one of the largest research groups in the country.

  • Abby’s empathy, passion and editorial independence makes her

  • a unique and relatable voice to those seeking honest independent media.

  • [Applause]

  • Thank you so much everyone for that, and

  • first of all, thank you so much for The Venus Project

  • for hosting me at this amazing event.

  • And happy birthday to visionary Jacque Fresco.

  • [Applause]

  • This is a man who has spent his entire life

  • innovating for a better world, and I think

  • we need to give him one more round of applause, for that!

  • HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY!

  • [Applause]

  • [Applause]

  • [Applause]

  • It’s a total honor to be asked to speak at your centennial celebration,

  • so thanks again.

  • And it's great to meet so many people here who

  • already know my work from Russia Today, 'Breaking the Set.'

  • My new show on teleSUR is a little different. It’s a little bit

  • less energy, but a little bit more depressing, maybe.

  • It's called the Empire Files; it’s on teleSUR English and

  • it's a weekly documentary series that

  • provides crucial historical and political context

  • to the most pressing issues that we face today,

  • which I think is really important

  • when we're looking at these issues in an isolated context,

  • especially reacting to the mainstream media 24-hour news cycle.

  • From the alliance with the brutal Saudi theocracy

  • to the US funding death squads across Latin America,

  • each chapter of the Empire Files really lays bare

  • another devastating effect of militaristic imperialism.

  • So definitely check it out, if you haven’t yet! on YouTube. Thank you.

  • [Applause]

  • Most people are here ...

  • because they are very acutely aware already

  • of the crisis of civilization that we face.

  • But I want to read a breathtaking statistic that I think really exemplifies

  • EVERYthing that’s wrong with the world we live in today.

  • According to the latest Oxfam study,

  • 62 people now own more wealth

  • than half of everybody living on the planet.

  • Think about that statistic for one second.

  • 62 people, just 62 people,

  • own more than half the world’s population!

  • The gap between the rich and poor is widening at an alarming rate.

  • The wealth of the poorest half, 3.6 billion people,

  • has fallen by $1 trillion dollars since 2010.

  • And at the same time, the wealth of the world’s richest 62

  • lucky mother fuckers has increased by more than half a trillion dollars!

  • This OBSCENE trajectory proves that when people make more money,

  • it doesn't trickle down!

  • Instead, untaxed trillions sit hoarded offshore.

  • In the US, for the first time in over 50 years,

  • over half of public school students

  • are living in poverty or are food insecure.

  • Think about that too.

  • I mean, how are teachers supposed to meet standardized testing requirements

  • when theyre busy worrying about whether or not their students are eating food,

  • or wearing shoes.

  • Instead of organizing to help those most in need,

  • our ruthless system criminalizes poverty and homelessness,

  • the extreme consequences of which are playing out all around us,

  • driving desperate people to commit violence,

  • crime, and terrorism.

  • This growing dysfunction is built into an economic structure

  • that institutionalizes barbarism and inequality.

  • But it’s not just a system in the abstract.

  • This global order installs powerful rulers.

  • I saw the way it works firsthand, throughout my career.

  • I didn’t start out wanting to be a journalist.

  • I began as an anti-war activist and organizer in college

  • during the lead-up to the Iraq war.

  • But I quickly saw the issues I was rallying behind were either

  • being distorted or completely ignored in the media.

  • And witnessing the media’s complete obedience

  • to the criminal, murderous policies of the Bush administration,

  • propelled me, forced me to act.

  • I taught myself video production and just put myself out there

  • in the community, first San Diego and then Oakland,

  • the first citizen journalism project that I founded called Media Roots.

  • And it wasn’t just one issue. It was every issue,

  • because it all stems from the same criminal corrupt system.

  • From net neutrality to food justice, I wanted to build upon an

  • under-reported aggregate of stories that impacted everyone,

  • because I was convinced if people only knew what was happening!

  • If they only knew what this government was doing around the world,

  • then of course, they would organize to stop it.

  • But, informing the masses in today’s world is a daunting challenge,

  • given the state of journalism.

  • It doesn’t take long in your political awakening to realize

  • that the establishment press weve all been trained to trust,

  • exists as just another arm of the corporatocracy,

  • only utilized to maintain itself.

  • Didn’t start off that way, it started out as a free public service.

  • But as the corporatocracy became more entrenched,

  • telecomm companies got hugely rich off profiting

  • the free utility of public air waves,

  • and begin tightening their grip on the market,

  • eating each other up, just as weve seen in every other industry.

  • In the 1980’s, 50 corporations controlled

  • most news media in America.

  • By 1992, that number shrunk to 2 dozen.

  • And today, only 6 corporations control 90%

  • of everything Americans see, hear, and read.

  • About 120 or so executives on the boards of these 6 companies

  • also have interlocking positions in every industry

  • from defense to pharmaceuticals ... to banking.

  • Aside from this blatant conflict of interest lies the problem of self-censorship

  • and advertising pressure within these networks.

  • Right now, who has heard of the TPP?

  • I am sure many people. Okay, good job.

  • But, of course, this hugely important so-called free trade deal -

  • which people are calling NAFTA on steroids - between 12 countries

  • that will completely eviscerate national sovereignty and undermine US laws!! ...

  • totally blacked out! 100%, on the mainstream media. Why?

  • Well, their corporate sponsors are among those negotiating the secret deal.

  • 600 corporate advisers negotiating this deal between 12 countries,

  • without any sort of semblance of democratic participation from the people.

  • It’s unbelievable.

  • Net neutrality, another important issue of our time,

  • maintaining the egalitarian nature of the web,

  • has been totally sidelined

  • by the same media companies controlled by massive telecommunications companies,

  • the same companies that are trying to install a pay-to-play network on the Internet.

  • Many people around the world may be wondering

  • how a reality-star billionaire, with zero political experience

  • is this close to becoming the president of the United States of America,

  • as am I.

  • But I think a quick scan of our ad-infested click-bait media

  • tells you one reason.

  • America’s salivating mainstream media punditry

  • IS WHO LEGITIMIZED Donald Trump! by covering him 24/7,

  • because fear sells, baby!

  • And apparently so does fascism.

  • Trump has been given more media coverage than

  • ALL Democratic campaigns combined, 23 times more than Bernie Sanders!

  • It’s unbelievable!

  • CBS head Les Moonves actually recently boasted about this.

  • He saidTrump may not be good for America,

  • but it’s damn good for CBS.

  • The money's rolling in, and this is fun.

  • It's going to be a very good year for us. Sorry,

  • it's a terrible thing to say. But bring it on Donald. Keep going.”

  • The media may understand the consequences of promoting Trump’s

  • xenophobic bigotry. But the short term profits for companies like CBS,

  • far outweigh the dangers of a Trump presidency.

  • The corporate takeover of the Fourth Estate has disemboweled

  • any semblance of a democracy in this country.

  • For decades, journalists in DC have cared far more about their access,

  • than about their jobs.

  • I saw this first hand in DC when I was actually scolded

  • by media officials for asking questions unsolicited to Rand Paul in Congress.

  • When I first was a newbie,

  • I got my official press badge, and I was like

  • Cool, now I can just go ask and confront politicians in the halls of the Congress.”

  • And very quickly, the first person I saw walking down the hall was Rand Paul,

  • and I asked him a question: I saidWhy did you endorse Mitt Romney?”

  • He ignored me, kept going; I thought that was the end of it.

  • A week later, RT started getting calls from the Congress press bureau,

  • threatening to arrest me for stalking and harassment.

  • Mm-hmm! I wanted to put it on air, they didn’t want to because they,

  • they were really catering to the Ron Paul audience at that time,

  • and I was really new and I didn’t really know what to do.

  • The charges were all basically empty threats.

  • But they did call me into the office, and I sat down in an interrogation room

  • in the halls of Congress, with all the main bureau chief heads,

  • from the corporate media networks, and they basically told me

  • You don’t do that. You don’t come in here,

  • and ruin our access that we've worked for decades to maintain.”

  • And that was my first lesson of how journalism actually worked in DC.

  • You know, the media doesn’t only work to protect its bottom line.

  • It also plays a key role in manufacturing consent for Empire.

  • Conditioning us to believe that somehow because were born

  • within a particular landmass that were ordained to go kill

  • millions of people around the world.

  • Displace and maim, countless millions more.

  • Dictate the future

  • for tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people,

  • every year around the world.

  • Even so-called alternative press outlets like Vice and others,

  • promote US Empire and American exceptionalism;

  • these are very dangerous notions that keep society subservient.

  • The myths also justify untold criminal policies

  • by rationalizing a war economy that runs on death and destruction.

  • Those in power have a lot of reasons to control the narrative, of course,

  • not only to whitewash

  • the long list of injustices and crimes they carry out every day,

  • but to conceal the cataclysmic course theyre driving us down.

  • Those in power don’t just control the media, of course,

  • they control our energy resources too.

  • Under this system, the US continues to rely on an industry

  • that imperils all life on Earth.

  • According to the latest UN report,

  • in order to avoid the worst predicted effects of climate change,

  • 3/4 of known existing fossil fuels need to stay in the ground.

  • That means halting all production, stopping, right now!

  • And that’s to avoid the worst effects! the worst effects.

  • But the empire is doing the opposite of that:

  • chasing profits at any cost.

  • Under Obama, the US has become the world’s largest

  • oil and natural gas producer. That’s astounding!

  • The US military is the biggest polluter on the planet,

  • yet exempt from all environmental legislation,

  • from the Clean Air Act to the Kyoto treaty.

  • With all interrogation about how the richest country in the world

  • could POSSIBLY pay for health care and education for its citizens,

  • little is asked

  • about how we can possibly afford to maintain endless war, occupation,

  • as well as a military budget that stands bigger than the next 7 countries combined.

  • If this system put the needs of the people and the environment first,

  • there would be very little dependency on such a damaging fuel source.

  • Stanford engineers, as youve seen in the documentary this morning,

  • have already developed a cost-effective state-by-state plan to transition

  • the entire US to renewable energy sources by 2050!

  • The money spent on the Iraq war alone,

  • which killed 1 million people,

  • 5% of Iraq’s entire population, and

  • planted the seeds for ISIS to flourish,

  • could have covered all global investments to halt

  • climate change trends. Think about that!

  • The Iraq war could have halted all global climate change trends,

  • just the cost of that.

  • There’s plenty of money to solve humanity’s pressing problems.

  • The issue isn't resources; it’s how theyre being used.

  • You know, as much as Cuba is criticized,

  • it’s never hailed for its achievements.

  • I was able to spend weeks there,

  • reporting and found it fascinating that, under a crippling economic embargo,

  • this small island nation was still able to produce

  • standards of living comparable to most European countries.

  • High-quality free education, high-quality free health care, a home and more,

  • as HUMAN rights.

  • Not to mention a completely green sustainable agricultural system.

  • Amazingly, or not so amazingly,

  • Cuba’s crime rate is one of the lowest in the entire hemisphere's.

  • Oddly enough, it seems that when people have their basic human needs met,

  • they're less likely to commit crimes.

  • I mean, you know, these resounding accomplishments were made

  • in an economy based on scarcity.

  • Imagine what can be done in the richest country in the world! ...