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.
Fast Food Workers Rise Up
Fast Food Workers went on a 1 day strike for $15 an hour wages, for a union contract and against illegal retaliation and intimidation. Nov 29-30, 2012. NYC.
This is a huge deal. 2.7 million US jobs are in the fast food industry, which is a 47% increase from a decade ago. The modern American working class works in the fast food and retail industries - industries that are notorious for their exploitation and for the difficulty with which its workers can be organized (due in part to high turnover). Despite the fact that many still see fast food employment as temporary and largely part-time, more and more people have little choice but to try to support themselves and their families by working in the industry. Labor organizing in this industry is of the utmost importance both for labor, and for the good of the working class.
Take it from a food service worker.
This is Tahrir Square in Cairo right now: occupied, lively & packed with protesters.
Anti-Morsi demonstrators filled the Square last night after a decree issued on Thursday expanded his powers and shielded his decisions from any sort of judicial review until the election of a new parliament expected in the first half of 2013.
“We don’t want a dictatorship again. The Mubarak regime was a dictatorship. We had a revolution to have justice and freedom,” 32-year-old Ahmed Husseini said in Cairo.
Press release [linked] by Unist’ot’en Camp, a resistance community in British Columbia whose purpose is to protect sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory from several proposed pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and shale gas from Hydraulic Fracturing Projects in the Peace River Region. To support the camp, donations can be made at http://forestaction.wikidot.com/caravan. To promote and follow the actions on social media, follow @UnistotenCamp, use #nopipelines, and find them here on Facebook.
(Top) Black Friday labor protest at Walmart in Kenosha, Wisconsin - 23 Nov 2012
via Overpass Light Brigade: “This was one of three management/security guys who came up to tell us to leave. The second one stepping off the curb looks pretty pissed. They both came right up to me while I was taking pictures. “We’ll call the police right away!” the one in dark blue stated quite aggressively. I responded, “Oh my! What are we doing wrong?” “You’re causing a dangerous situation!” “Well that’s why we stopped here, because it seems a safe place!” I told him we’d move on after some pictures. He walked away mad. More guys came out. We moved on. (Notice that we are standing in front of a Kenosha County Sheriff’s squad!)”
International boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) efforts helped topple South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime. In the context of Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, a global BDS movement against Israel’s rapacious occupation is necessary - and possible to organize - now more than ever
Here’s what Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah had to say about Barghouti’s book, BDS:
“Barghouti explains with lucidity, passion, and unrivaled intelligence…that bringing an end to apartheid in Palestine and seeing justice and equality for all the people who live there is not a distant dream but a reality we can bring about in the next few years using BDS.”
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.