FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.
The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.
“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
“The documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production that the FBI is withholding far more material. We are filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation,” stated Heather Benno, staff attorney with the PCJF.
Hundreds of First Nations protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and shook a collective fist at the federal government Friday as they gathered on Parliament Hill to put Canada on notice they would be “idle no more.”
More than 1,000 protesters, a group stretching several city blocks, marched through the streets of the capital after meeting with Theresa Spence, the chief of northern Ontario’s troubled Attawapiskat First Nation, who is on a hunger strike.
"We are tired of having the boot put to our head," Algonquin Chief Gilbert Whiteduck told the gathering beneath the Peace Tower under a steady barrage of snow.
"We want the government of Canada to come to the table in a spirit of unconditional openness and transparency."
Other rallies were held in various cities across the country. Demonstrations in support of Spence’s cause also took place in the United States.
Hundred of people briefly blocked one of the busiest intersections in Toronto in solidarity with Idle No More, a grassroots aboriginal protest movement gaining traction on social media. Several Manitoba First Nations groups also rallied at the Winnipeg International Airport, congesting traffic.
Idle No More organizers oppose the Harper government’s recently passed omnibus budget legislation, Bill C-45, and accuse the Tories of trampling on treaty rights.
A new initiative is re-energising the Occupy movement. Called the Rolling Jubilee, it is a plan to use money from donations to buy distressed consumer debt from lenders at a marked down price, just as debt collection agencies normally would. But instead of hounding debtors for payments, it will simply cancel the debts. The hope is that the liberated debtors will themselves contribute to the fund, “rolling” the jubilee forward.
The Rolling Jubilee is a genius move for several reasons. First, debt relief is a transpartisan message that eludes conventional political categorisation. As such, it returns Occupy to its origins as an advocate for the wellbeing of ordinary people, neither leftwing nor rightwing. The Rolling Jubilee says, non-threateningly, “We just want to help people in this unfair system.”
But despite its non-threatening appearance, the Rolling Jubilee has significant transformative potential. Two pillars uphold the present debt regime: the moral legitimacy of debt in society’s eyes, ie, the idea that a person “should” pay back what he owes; and the coercive mechanisms that enforce repayment, such as harassment, seizure of assets, garnishment of wages, denial of employment or housing, and even imprisonment. The Rolling Jubilee erodes both. It destigmatises debt by saying, “we’re all in this together, we believe your situation is unfair, not shameful, so we’re going to help you out”. And it lessens the severity of the consequences of default. If defaulting means you might get bailed out, why keep paying?
For this reason, we might expect lenders to balk at co-operating with the Rolling Jubilee, perhaps by refusing to sell loans to anyone who doesn’t agree to seek collection. So here is a third reason why the idea is so brilliant: if the lenders block debt cancellation even when it comes at no cost to themselves (as they would have sold it at the same price to a collection agency), they appear as a bunch of greedy, vindictive Scrooges. Given their current vulnerability, banks might not want to incite hostility by preventing people from helping each other out.
Accordingly, it is important that the Jubilee organisers continue to frame it in precisely that way: people helping each other out of hardship. Yes, they might understand that its political significance runs deeper, but if they portray it as a political ploy then it will be met as such by the banks or other authorities. Public opinion might also not be as sympathetic.
This also goes for the way the organisers portray it to themselves. In a political system that is lost in a maelstrom of hype, spin and messaging, we crave authenticity in others and in ourselves. Let the Rolling Jubilee stay grounded in the simple goal of freeing people from debt. The political effect will be greater, not less, when it comes from a place of sincerity.
The Rolling Jubilee could influence economic policy as a model for a very different kind of bailout in response to the next financial crisis. The problem of unpayable debts bedevils every corner of our financial system – public, corporate, and personal. So far, the response of the monetary and fiscal authorities to nearly every financial crisis has been to bail out the creditors but not the debtors. Governments and central banks purchase all kinds of shoddy loans from the private sector, but rather than reduce interest or principal on those loans, they merely become the new creditor. The underwater homeowner, the indebted university graduate, the laid-off worker juggling credit cards … they get no relief at all.
The Rolling Jubilee brings a different kind of solution into the public consciousness. The next time a systemic crisis breaks, central banks can rescue the banking system by once again buying the delinquent loans – and then cancel them or reduce the amount borrowers owe. Central banks, with their unlimited capacity to print money, have the power to do this at no cost to the taxpayer. The result would be a release of pent-up consumer purchasing power that had been stuck in debt service. Rising demand would fuel employment, wages, and a broad-based economic expansion.
Would this solution be inflationary? Yes. But a little inflation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as wages rise as fast as prices. Then it is an equalizer of wealth, as the relative value of hoarded wealth shrinks.
Debt cancellation, whether a “people’s bailout” or government policy, is only part of the solution to our economic woes. Deep systemic reforms are necessary, especially given the reality that we are operating a growth-dependent system on a finite planet. But right now, debt is the issue staring us in the face. As always, the most innovative solutions rise from the margins. The Rolling Jubilee may be showing us a glimpse of what is to come.
SUBMISSION: PLEASE REBLOG AND HELP MY FRIENDS GET TO NEW JERSEY FOR HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF!
The Coffee Committee, a stand in for Occupy Denver’s Thunderdome Kitchen, is gathering supplies, recruits, and transportation to get to the affected area with a mobile kitchen. OCCUPY SANDY RESOURCES: http://www.lizgreeen.com/occupy-sandy-storm-relief PLEASE DONATE WHATEVER YOU CAN Please please share this, there are hungry homeless people on the east coast that are in need of your love and support! A dollar helps, a reblog helps, anything you can do to further this message helps!
This is a long post but it’s about something pretty interesting so I hope you’ll indulge …
Like many folks, Occupy Wall Street has been some doing good work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, helping people on the ground.
Now OWS is launching the ROLLING JUBILEE, a program that has been in development for months. OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)
This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need — to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy. As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!
Now, after many consultations with attorneys, the IRS, and our moles in the debt-brokerage world, we are ready to take the Rolling Jubilee program LIVE and NATIONWIDE, buying debt in communities that have been struggling during the recession.
We’re kicking things off with a show called THE PEOPLE’S BAILOUT at Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday, November 15. It will also stream online, like a good ol’-fashioned telethon!
Friends, the line-up is insane. Performers include:
- JEFF MANGUM (Neutral Milk Hotel)
- JANEANE GAROFALO
- GUY PICCIOTTO (Fugazi)
- LIZZ WINSTEAD
- HARI KONDABOLU
- TUNDE ADEBIMPE and KYP MALONE (TV on the Radio)
- members of DAS RACIST
and other great talents including a group of radical nuns! I’ll be playing the role of JERRY LEWIS, emceeing in my tuxedo from MEN’S WEARHOUSE.
This will be a joyful, positive night about people banding together and subverting a predatory financial system in order to help each other. BOOM! That’s a movie pitch right there, goddamn why am I not a Hollywood mogul?!
Anyway, HERE IS THE INFORMATION about THE PEOPLE’S BAILOUT:
- The LIVE SHOW is at Le Poisson Rouge on THURSDAY 11/15, 8 - 11 PM. Tickets are $25 (each ticket buys $500 of distressed debt).
The Occupy Movement has found an unlikely ally in a senior Bank of England official, Andrew Haldane, who has praised protesters for their role in triggering an overhaul of the financial services sector.
Haldane, who oversees the City for the central bank, said Occupy acted as a lever on policymakers despite criticism that its aims were too vague. He said the protest movement was right to focus on inequality as the chief reason for the 2008 crash, following studies that showed the accumulation of huge wealth funded by debt was directly responsible for the domino-like collapse of the banking sector in 2008.
Speaking at a debate held by the Occupy Movement in central London, Haldane said regulations limiting credit use would undermine attempts by individuals to accumulate huge property and financial wealth at the expense of other members of society. Allowing banks to lend on a massive scale also drained funding from other industries, adding to the negative impact that unregulated banks had on the economy, he said.
Why Democracy Is Dead In America - The Hypothetical Dangers of the NDAA
Regardless of your political positions, whatever they may be, the NDAA is a piece of legislation which grants the President of the United States and/or the military the unquestionable executive power to secretly and indefinitely detain any American civilian without due process simply because they are a suspected terrorist. Both of the two men, Obama and Romney, who will most likely win the 2012 Presiential Election are both in favor of keeping it play. Obama signed it into law during the New Year's Eve/New Year's Day between 2011 and 2012. Here are some things you probably didn't think could be done with this power.
1:Obama could hypothetically have Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan indefinitely detained for life on the grounds that they are suspected terrorists secretly and without due process at any time before his term is up. This means his election rivals could be eliminated from the voting process whenever he wants. Mitt Romney could hypothetically do the same thing to any of his future opponents with presidential aspirations at any time once he was inaugurated.
2:The President of the United States, regardless of who that is, could hypothetically intimidate and extort both the Supreme Court and the Legislative Branch to do their specific bidding with the threat of indefinitely detaining them or any of their individual members.
3:The President of the United States, regardless of who that is, could hypothetically indefinitely detain entire corporations, banks, and other major powers like them on the arbitrary grounds that they are terrorism suspects. While I'm personally less inclined to be opposed to this idea in particular, it is highly unlikely that any president will do this to their puppet masters.
4:There are already laws in place in the United States that grant the President of United States similar powers all around the world regardless of alleged jurisdictional limits. If the president were unsatisfied with the way one country was behaving, let's say France just as a random example, they could intimidate entire governing bodies in the region to do their bidding or get arrested for life because of alleged ties to terrorism.
The NDAA and laws like it grant the President of the United States the unique position of hypothetical total world domination. Regardless of who they are they could hypothetically arrest and torture anyone for any reason at any time for as long as they want simply because it allegedly fights terrorism.
Economic security shouldn’t be a privilege only the richest in our country have access to. It should be a right for everyone in the United States.
All of us should have a right to full employment and a living wage, full participation in the electoral process, a voice at work, quality education and a secure, healthy future.
We need to hold politicians accountable for their votes on these issues and make sure they listen to us after November, not just their deep-pocketed donors.
Take action below by signing your name in support of economic rights for all and tell us which issues are most important to you:
We the People want to strengthen our nation, as a beacon of equality, economic opportunity and freedom for all.
We hold these rights—a right to full employment and a living wage, full participation in the electoral process, a voice at work, quality education and a secure, healthy future—to be essential to our vision of America and believe that the principles contained therein should guide our government, business leaders, organizations and individuals in our common goal of a just and fair society.
Not meant to be an endorsement of the AFL-CIO. We simply find this to be a worthwhile cause.