Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

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Sy Borg
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Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Sy Borg »

After a remarkably opaque discussion with my bank (not a loan), the interaction felt like dealing with the public service - a layered monolith of rules with naive flunkies on the front line reciting scripts.

The power differential was clear. This was not a discussion between a customer and their service provider. This was more like a discussion between a public service department, who is making demands on relatively powerless individuals. I came away feeling that my savings were not my money, but the bank's, and there was nothing I could do about it, short of blowing the bank on a lawyer. They don't care if you leave the bank because our major banks have worked as a cartel for many years.

Yet there is no option to find out what goes on behind corporate decision-making due to, I assume:

1. Commercial secrecy (which can also be used as an excuse), and

2. The law lagging behind the rapidly changing dynamics of society.

At this point, major corporations often act as government departments, administering and controlling their domain, including determining approvals or rejection. Yet they are entirely opaque. There is no way to gain transparency on their decision-making.

Any thoughts on the idea that major corporations should be subject to FOI like government departments?
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Lagayscienza »

I know what you mean about banks. If you are an ordinary customer it's like dealing with a government bureaucracy. There is a huge power imbalance.

If you owe the bank, they charge a fortune in interest, and jump on you if you are day late with a payment. But they give you next to nothing as interest on your money (which is, in effect, money they borrow from you) and it's as if they're doing you a favor when you get to speak to a teller after standing in a queue for half an hour.

The banks make billions each year on interest they get from lending out your money but account holders get almost zero interest from the bank. Ordinary people are powerless to get a decent deal from the banks.

Banks can raise interest rates on your mortgage or credit card debt whenever they like, but you can't raise the interest rate on you savings when you like. The banks are price givers and we are price takers. Unless you're a billionaire. The only way to get more out of them is to buy shares with your savings and get dividends. But how many ordinary people have the sort of money to risk that would make that a feasible proposition?

Under FOI law in Australia the only right we have to information is in respect of how corporations use data they have collected about us. That's it. With banks, you have a right to know about your money - what your balance is, what interest you are getting for your money, what products they offer products... But this is information for which you don't need to invoke FOI.

If you want power over corporations, you need get rich so you can own them, or you need to be on the board. That's just the way it works.
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Amos Osinya
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Amos Osinya »

"If you want power over corporations, you need get rich so you can own them, or you need to be on the board. That's just the way it works."
Am encouraged and inspired by this message. Excited to put it into practice.
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Sy Borg
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Sy Borg »

I just figure that, if they are going to take on functions of government, then they ideally should have the same accountability.

It would also close the PPP loophole, where governments offload contentious projects to unaccountable private sector companies and then say, 'Not our fault! We don't have power over the company (that we hired to do a job for us)'.

However, laws are still operating on the old assumption that government were more powerful than corporations, as opposed to today's situation where they are peers and partners. Many companies have a higher value than the GDP of entire nations.
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by JackDaydream »

Sy Borg wrote: May 14th, 2024, 10:03 pm After a remarkably opaque discussion with my bank (not a loan), the interaction felt like dealing with the public service - a layered monolith of rules with naive flunkies on the front line reciting scripts.

The power differential was clear. This was not a discussion between a customer and their service provider. This was more like a discussion between a public service department, who is making demands on relatively powerless individuals. I came away feeling that my savings were not my money, but the bank's, and there was nothing I could do about it, short of blowing the bank on a lawyer. They don't care if you leave the bank because our major banks have worked as a cartel for many years.

Yet there is no option to find out what goes on behind corporate decision-making due to, I assume:

1. Commercial secrecy (which can also be used as an excuse), and

2. The law lagging behind the rapidly changing dynamics of society.

At this point, major corporations often act as government departments, administering and controlling their domain, including determining approvals or rejection. Yet they are entirely opaque. There is no way to gain transparency on their decision-making.

Any thoughts on the idea that major corporations should be subject to FOI like government departments?
It does seem that many corporations act as if personal and private information is public knowledge. One aspect which I have noticed recently is that in some forms information which used to be considered as the Equal Opportunities section, to be separated is now a main part of the form. This even includes medical information, and sensitive information like mental health issues, is being demanded. Some of this seems to override any ideas of confidentiality, especially the idea,of the Hippocratic oath.

Often, there are attempts to justify the need to know on such basis as risk assessment and transparency. When people are reluctant to share information it is sometimes regarded as if they have 'something to hide'. The problem here is disregard for sensitivity and the choices of private disclosure as a choice, as and when appropriate as opposed to humans being treated like objects.

Regarding banks, in England, there is a current controversial plan for the DWP to have powers to monitor people's bank assessments for any potential fraud. This involves the banks acting in conjunction with the DWP but the power to snoop may be disproportionate to the problem of fraud. The focus of such investigations are on those on the lower rungs of society, and creates an 'us' and 'them' ethos of authoritarian control.
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Sy Borg »

Yes, there's an increasing tendency to "nanny" people. There's a lot of authoritarian activity going on in the space of fraud and money laundering. It's hard to know what is legitimate or not because the formal and informal corporate partners of governments are not subject to FOI requests. All rather messy.
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Lagayscienza »

When I was young many essential services were government owned - the electric supply, water, gas, telecommunications, our major airline, and even many of the banks were state owned. If this were the case today, then we might be able to access information about the activities of these enterprises through FOI legislation.

But all these state owned enterprises were sold off to the corporate sector. So we can't get info about them under FOI which only applies to government departments and agencies.

If the sale of these state owned assets has resulted in less transparency, has it also resulted in greater efficiency? Or has it just, or also, allowed the sort of skullduggery alluded to above? Maybe one day, in the name of economic efficiency, we'll hand over even the business of government to the corporate sector?
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Sy Borg »

Lagayscienza wrote: May 18th, 2024, 7:35 am When I was young many essential services were government owned - the electric supply, water, gas, telecommunications, our major airline, and even many of the banks were state owned. If this were the case today, then we might be able to access information about the activities of these enterprises through FOI legislation.

But all these state owned enterprises were sold off to the corporate sector. So we can't get info about them under FOI which only applies to government departments and agencies.

If the sale of these state owned assets has resulted in less transparency, has it also resulted in greater efficiency? Or has it just, or also, allowed the sort of skullduggery alluded to above? Maybe one day, in the name of economic efficiency, we'll hand over even the business of government to the corporate sector?
The result is that the line between governments and major corporations has become less distinct. The US recently had issues between church and state. It's like all the major bodies are amalgamating into a larger, farther reaching, body of control. And increasingly unaccountable. Consider what happened to legislation to protect whistleblowers - nothing - and look at what's happened to whistleblowers, they are all either in prison, dead or a traumatised shell of their former selves.
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by JackDaydream »

It is questionable whether the line between government and corporations was ever distinct and just more hidden. That is because the corporations are connected to the elite who are represented by the government. The relationship may be becoming more apparent with shifts in global politics, especially diminishing resources. Capitalism was connected to democracy, but this may be shifting to authoritarian rule and a return to a greater division between the rich and the poor in the first world. The use of information, including artificial intelligence may be being used in this way. Those who seek corporations to be subject to information regulations may be seen as subversive outlaws because they question the wealth and power at the core of capitalism itself.
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Sy Borg »

JackDaydream wrote: May 18th, 2024, 11:16 pm It is questionable whether the line between government and corporations was ever distinct and just more hidden. That is because the corporations are connected to the elite who are represented by the government. The relationship may be becoming more apparent with shifts in global politics, especially diminishing resources. Capitalism was connected to democracy, but this may be shifting to authoritarian rule and a return to a greater division between the rich and the poor in the first world. The use of information, including artificial intelligence may be being used in this way. Those who seek corporations to be subject to information regulations may be seen as subversive outlaws because they question the wealth and power at the core of capitalism itself.
Heck, I'd better shut my cake-hole, then!

Seriously, it's the combination of power and opacity that is out of kilter. With great power comes great responsibility, so they say. Perhaps that is no longer the case?
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by JackDaydream »

Sy Borg wrote: May 24th, 2024, 5:15 pm
JackDaydream wrote: May 18th, 2024, 11:16 pm It is questionable whether the line between government and corporations was ever distinct and just more hidden. That is because the corporations are connected to the elite who are represented by the government. The relationship may be becoming more apparent with shifts in global politics, especially diminishing resources. Capitalism was connected to democracy, but this may be shifting to authoritarian rule and a return to a greater division between the rich and the poor in the first world. The use of information, including artificial intelligence may be being used in this way. Those who seek corporations to be subject to information regulations may be seen as subversive outlaws because they question the wealth and power at the core of capitalism itself.
Heck, I'd better shut my cake-hole, then!

Seriously, it's the combination of power and opacity that is out of kilter. With great power comes great responsibility, so they say. Perhaps that is no longer the case?
It did worry me a bit when what I had written seemed to have brought the thread to a standstill. I was not wishing to say that your question should not be asked, and I was simply having a moment where I felt so bad about about the nature of the system and how it is going.

It does appear to me as well that the combination of power and lack of opacity is problematic. It may be that it is because there is an underlying confusion in a messed up world, especially with the use of artificial intelligence.

Anyway, I hope the thread continues because it is an important area for questioning. My previous post was not meant to be unnerving and I hadn't decided it best not to add a new post until someone else wrote one...
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Sy Borg »

JackDaydream wrote: May 24th, 2024, 8:28 pm
Sy Borg wrote: May 24th, 2024, 5:15 pm
JackDaydream wrote: May 18th, 2024, 11:16 pm It is questionable whether the line between government and corporations was ever distinct and just more hidden. That is because the corporations are connected to the elite who are represented by the government. The relationship may be becoming more apparent with shifts in global politics, especially diminishing resources. Capitalism was connected to democracy, but this may be shifting to authoritarian rule and a return to a greater division between the rich and the poor in the first world. The use of information, including artificial intelligence may be being used in this way. Those who seek corporations to be subject to information regulations may be seen as subversive outlaws because they question the wealth and power at the core of capitalism itself.
Heck, I'd better shut my cake-hole, then!

Seriously, it's the combination of power and opacity that is out of kilter. With great power comes great responsibility, so they say. Perhaps that is no longer the case?
It did worry me a bit when what I had written seemed to have brought the thread to a standstill. I was not wishing to say that your question should not be asked, and I was simply having a moment where I felt so bad about about the nature of the system and how it is going.

It does appear to me as well that the combination of power and lack of opacity is problematic. It may be that it is because there is an underlying confusion in a messed up world, especially with the use of artificial intelligence.

Anyway, I hope the thread continues because it is an important area for questioning. My previous post was not meant to be unnerving and I hadn't decided it best not to add a new post until someone else wrote one...
I don't feel terribly bad about it. It's inconvenient for those not accustomed to what society is becoming. Maybe I have unreasonable faith that all will work out? I look at the history of life, with its regular extinction events, sometimes huge ones, and almost every species that ever existed is extinct. Still ... life progressed from microbes to humans and AI.

Humans too have an incredibly potted history. Throughout the millennia of history (and no, doubt, prehistory) people have always figured that the end is nigh. We always seem to be on the edge of some catastrophe or another. Yet here we are.
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by JackDaydream »

Sy Borg wrote: May 24th, 2024, 9:29 pm
JackDaydream wrote: May 24th, 2024, 8:28 pm
Sy Borg wrote: May 24th, 2024, 5:15 pm
JackDaydream wrote: May 18th, 2024, 11:16 pm It is questionable whether the line between government and corporations was ever distinct and just more hidden. That is because the corporations are connected to the elite who are represented by the government. The relationship may be becoming more apparent with shifts in global politics, especially diminishing resources. Capitalism was connected to democracy, but this may be shifting to authoritarian rule and a return to a greater division between the rich and the poor in the first world. The use of information, including artificial intelligence may be being used in this way. Those who seek corporations to be subject to information regulations may be seen as subversive outlaws because they question the wealth and power at the core of capitalism itself.
Heck, I'd better shut my cake-hole, then!

Seriously, it's the combination of power and opacity that is out of kilter. With great power comes great responsibility, so they say. Perhaps that is no longer the case?
It did worry me a bit when what I had written seemed to have brought the thread to a standstill. I was not wishing to say that your question should not be asked, and I was simply having a moment where I felt so bad about about the nature of the system and how it is going.

It does appear to me as well that the combination of power and lack of opacity is problematic. It may be that it is because there is an underlying confusion in a messed up world, especially with the use of artificial intelligence.

Anyway, I hope the thread continues because it is an important area for questioning. My previous post was not meant to be unnerving and I hadn't decided it best not to add a new post until someone else wrote one...
I don't feel terribly bad about it. It's inconvenient for those not accustomed to what society is becoming. Maybe I have unreasonable faith that all will work out? I look at the history of life, with its regular extinction events, sometimes huge ones, and almost every species that ever existed is extinct. Still ... life progressed from microbes to humans and AI.

Humans too have an incredibly potted history. Throughout the millennia of history (and no, doubt, prehistory) people have always figured that the end is nigh. We always seem to be on the edge of some catastrophe or another. Yet here we are.
I agree about humanity being on the edge of a catastrophe and fear of the 'end' which does not quite happen. Nevertheless, there is the fear which may be about armchair reflection and the imminent, or the personal as opposed to more distant catastrophes.

Personally, I feel more impacted by the increasing effects of power, information and the use of artificial intelligence. In particular, I feel that life is becoming unbearable through intrusive powers which affect the freedom of regular individuals, rather than accountability of corporations. In particular, I am on Universal Credit and it feels like being on probation. I do have an understanding work coach but the whole ethos of the DWP is on punitive. The digital systems sends messages about sanctions. These are not idle threats because I know people who have been suspended from benefits for months.

Apart from checks on bank accounts for fraud, there are plans to put in place digital tracking of people. I am seeking work but feel hindered rather than helped by the DWP. But, I had better be cautious of what I write on the site, because with artificial intelligence, even this website may be accessible. So, what I see with the use of artificial intelligence is not simply extinction. However, it may end up with loss of democracy of any qualitative nature and real suffering and even death of those subjected to the realities of living on the streets and starvation. This catastrophe is starting to happen to many already. In England, deaths of homeless people are not recorded any longer, which may suggest people are becoming mere numbers in the digital age.
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by Sy Borg »

JackDaydream wrote: May 25th, 2024, 3:25 am
Sy Borg wrote: May 24th, 2024, 9:29 pm
JackDaydream wrote: May 24th, 2024, 8:28 pm
Sy Borg wrote: May 24th, 2024, 5:15 pm

Heck, I'd better shut my cake-hole, then!

Seriously, it's the combination of power and opacity that is out of kilter. With great power comes great responsibility, so they say. Perhaps that is no longer the case?
It did worry me a bit when what I had written seemed to have brought the thread to a standstill. I was not wishing to say that your question should not be asked, and I was simply having a moment where I felt so bad about about the nature of the system and how it is going.

It does appear to me as well that the combination of power and lack of opacity is problematic. It may be that it is because there is an underlying confusion in a messed up world, especially with the use of artificial intelligence.

Anyway, I hope the thread continues because it is an important area for questioning. My previous post was not meant to be unnerving and I hadn't decided it best not to add a new post until someone else wrote one...
I don't feel terribly bad about it. It's inconvenient for those not accustomed to what society is becoming. Maybe I have unreasonable faith that all will work out? I look at the history of life, with its regular extinction events, sometimes huge ones, and almost every species that ever existed is extinct. Still ... life progressed from microbes to humans and AI.

Humans too have an incredibly potted history. Throughout the millennia of history (and no, doubt, prehistory) people have always figured that the end is nigh. We always seem to be on the edge of some catastrophe or another. Yet here we are.
I agree about humanity being on the edge of a catastrophe and fear of the 'end' which does not quite happen. Nevertheless, there is the fear which may be about armchair reflection and the imminent, or the personal as opposed to more distant catastrophes.

Personally, I feel more impacted by the increasing effects of power, information and the use of artificial intelligence. In particular, I feel that life is becoming unbearable through intrusive powers which affect the freedom of regular individuals, rather than accountability of corporations. In particular, I am on Universal Credit and it feels like being on probation. I do have an understanding work coach but the whole ethos of the DWP is on punitive. The digital systems sends messages about sanctions. These are not idle threats because I know people who have been suspended from benefits for months.

Apart from checks on bank accounts for fraud, there are plans to put in place digital tracking of people. I am seeking work but feel hindered rather than helped by the DWP. But, I had better be cautious of what I write on the site, because with artificial intelligence, even this website may be accessible. So, what I see with the use of artificial intelligence is not simply extinction. However, it may end up with loss of democracy of any qualitative nature and real suffering and even death of those subjected to the realities of living on the streets and starvation. This catastrophe is starting to happen to many already. In England, deaths of homeless people are not recorded any longer, which may suggest people are becoming mere numbers in the digital age.
That's basically it. The lack of accountability issue I raised is ultimately one symptom of what looks to be inevitable creeping authoritarianism. It's been estimated that 40% of jobs will be taken by AI.
Google summary wrote:The IMF analysis captures both these forces. The findings are striking: almost 40 percent of global employment is exposed to AI. Historically, automation and information technology have tended to affect routine tasks, but one of the things that sets AI apart is its ability to impact high-skilled jobs.
All those people on unemployment benefits will be completely subject to the state. When does an unemployment benefit - with its punitive angle - become a UBI? That means the government will have absolute control over the lives of 40% of the population. When I look into the future of humans without jobs, I see people being analysed in every aspect as they are fed with heaps of ads (the price of free content).
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Re: Should corporations be subject to Freedom of Information regulations?

Post by JackDaydream »

Sy Borg wrote: May 25th, 2024, 6:09 pm
JackDaydream wrote: May 25th, 2024, 3:25 am
Sy Borg wrote: May 24th, 2024, 9:29 pm
JackDaydream wrote: May 24th, 2024, 8:28 pm

It did worry me a bit when what I had written seemed to have brought the thread to a standstill. I was not wishing to say that your question should not be asked, and I was simply having a moment where I felt so bad about about the nature of the system and how it is going.

It does appear to me as well that the combination of power and lack of opacity is problematic. It may be that it is because there is an underlying confusion in a messed up world, especially with the use of artificial intelligence.

Anyway, I hope the thread continues because it is an important area for questioning. My previous post was not meant to be unnerving and I hadn't decided it best not to add a new post until someone else wrote one...
I don't feel terribly bad about it. It's inconvenient for those not accustomed to what society is becoming. Maybe I have unreasonable faith that all will work out? I look at the history of life, with its regular extinction events, sometimes huge ones, and almost every species that ever existed is extinct. Still ... life progressed from microbes to humans and AI.

Humans too have an incredibly potted history. Throughout the millennia of history (and no, doubt, prehistory) people have always figured that the end is nigh. We always seem to be on the edge of some catastrophe or another. Yet here we are.
I agree about humanity being on the edge of a catastrophe and fear of the 'end' which does not quite happen. Nevertheless, there is the fear which may be about armchair reflection and the imminent, or the personal as opposed to more distant catastrophes.

Personally, I feel more impacted by the increasing effects of power, information and the use of artificial intelligence. In particular, I feel that life is becoming unbearable through intrusive powers which affect the freedom of regular individuals, rather than accountability of corporations. In particular, I am on Universal Credit and it feels like being on probation. I do have an understanding work coach but the whole ethos of the DWP is on punitive. The digital systems sends messages about sanctions. These are not idle threats because I know people who have been suspended from benefits for months.

Apart from checks on bank accounts for fraud, there are plans to put in place digital tracking of people. I am seeking work but feel hindered rather than helped by the DWP. But, I had better be cautious of what I write on the site, because with artificial intelligence, even this website may be accessible. So, what I see with the use of artificial intelligence is not simply extinction. However, it may end up with loss of democracy of any qualitative nature and real suffering and even death of those subjected to the realities of living on the streets and starvation. This catastrophe is starting to happen to many already. In England, deaths of homeless people are not recorded any longer, which may suggest people are becoming mere numbers in the digital age.
That's basically it. The lack of accountability issue I raised is ultimately one symptom of what looks to be inevitable creeping authoritarianism. It's been estimated that 40% of jobs will be taken by AI.
Google summary wrote:The IMF analysis captures both these forces. The findings are striking: almost 40 percent of global employment is exposed to AI. Historically, automation and information technology have tended to affect routine tasks, but one of the things that sets AI apart is its ability to impact high-skilled jobs.
All those people on unemployment benefits will be completely subject to the state. When does an unemployment benefit - with its punitive angle - become a UBI? That means the government will have absolute control over the lives of 40% of the population. When I look into the future of humans without jobs, I see people being analysed in every aspect as they are fed with heaps of ads (the price of free content).
It is interesting that even though you are in such a distance in the world from where I am you can identify similar developments. This must indicate that the changes are on some kind of global scale. I found that life was altering so much for about 5 years before the pandemic, but it has speeded up after lockdown at an alarming rate. The need to comply with rules may have also made many people more accepting of authoritarian regimes.

With the misery of the benefits system, it is the coexistence of austerity and a punitive approach that is the worst possibility. This is leading people to become mentally and physically sick, while a whole emphasis on such sickness is being perpetuated in media headlines as if sickness is a lifestyle choice. If only, political leaders would admit to contradictions. Universal Basic Income may work, but it would need to be liveable on and also in conjunction which would inspire people to work. I am just hoping that in time some of the current contradictions will be seen rather than used in an oppressive way. How artificial intelligence may be used or abused by humans may play a crucial role in this.
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December 2022

2021 Philosophy Books of the Month

The Biblical Clock: The Untold Secrets Linking the Universe and Humanity with God's Plan

The Biblical Clock
by Daniel Friedmann
March 2021

Wilderness Cry: A Scientific and Philosophical Approach to Understanding God and the Universe

Wilderness Cry
by Dr. Hilary L Hunt M.D.
April 2021

Fear Not, Dream Big, & Execute: Tools To Spark Your Dream And Ignite Your Follow-Through

Fear Not, Dream Big, & Execute
by Jeff Meyer
May 2021

Surviving the Business of Healthcare: Knowledge is Power

Surviving the Business of Healthcare
by Barbara Galutia Regis M.S. PA-C
June 2021

Winning the War on Cancer: The Epic Journey Towards a Natural Cure

Winning the War on Cancer
by Sylvie Beljanski
July 2021

Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream

Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream
by Dr Frank L Douglas
August 2021

If Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your Buts

If Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your Buts
by Mark L. Wdowiak
September 2021

The Preppers Medical Handbook

The Preppers Medical Handbook
by Dr. William W Forgey M.D.
October 2021

Natural Relief for Anxiety and Stress: A Practical Guide

Natural Relief for Anxiety and Stress
by Dr. Gustavo Kinrys, MD
November 2021

Dream For Peace: An Ambassador Memoir

Dream For Peace
by Dr. Ghoulem Berrah
December 2021