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July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware
Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have
From New York, to London, to Sydney, to Cologne, to Bucharest, there has been a wave of protests against politicians, banks and financial institutions.
Anybody watching coverage of the demonstrations may have been struck by a repeated motif – a strangely stylised mask of Guy Fawkes with a moustache and pointy beard.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrived at the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest to make a speech wearing one of these masks. He took it off, reportedly at the insistence of the police.
They were thought to have been used first by the notorious hacker-activist group Anonymous in 2008 during a protest against Scientology, but have since spread throughout the global protest movement.
The masks are from the 2006 film V for Vendetta where one is worn by an enigmatic lone anarchist who, in the graphic novel on which it is based, uses Fawkes as a role model in his quest to end the rule of a fictional fascist party in the UK.
Early in the book V destroys the Houses of Parliament by blowing it up, something Fawkes had planned and failed to do in 1605.
British graphic novel artist David Lloyd is the man who created the original image of the mask for a comic strip written by Alan Moore. Lloyd compares its use by protesters to the way Alberto Korda’s famous photograph of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara became a fashionable symbol for young people across the world.
“The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny – and I’m happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way,” he says.
A curious Lloyd visited the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park, New York, to have a look at some of the people wearing his mask.
“My feeling is the Anonymous group needed an all-purpose image to hide their identity and also symbolise that they stand for individualism – V for Vendetta is a story about one person against the system.”
The film of V for Vendetta ends with an image of a crowd of Londoners all wearing Guy Fawkes masks, unarmed and marching on parliament.
It is that image of collective identification and simultaneous anonymity that is appealing to Anonymous and other groups, says Rich Johnston, a commentator on the world of comics.
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Dozens of students and other protesters interrupted a Senate committee meeting Thursday to demand a popular referendum on how to resolve Chile’s social problems, especially education.
Some protesters climbed atop the committee room’s table and unfurled a sign reading “Plebiscite now” as Education Minister Felipe Bulnes and others participating in the hearing by the Senate‘s education budget subcommittee hurriedly left. Activists shouted and threw coins at Bulnes, who stumbled during scuffling on the way out, while a young man broke a window.
The protesters then occupied the Senate headquarters in Santiago and transmitted the situation live over the Internet by webcam. They urged other students to converge on the building, which housed Chile’s congress before the 1973-90 military dictatorship, and then march to the presidential palace Thursday night.
Police blocked more people from entering the building and confronted a crowd outside, where protesters held signs demanding “Free Education” and “Referendum Now.”
The occupation of the Senate headquarters came just hours after riot police violently evicted protesters from galleries at the current Congress building in Chile’s port city of Valparaiso.
Senate President Guido Girardi, a member of the opposition, promised that the protesters at the Senate building would not be dislodged by force. His promise drew criticism from pro-government legislators, including Sen. Alberto Espina, who criticized Girardi for “a serious dereliction of duty” in failing to ensure the security of the committee hearing.
University and secondary school students have been boycotting classes and mounting demonstrations for nearly six months pushing their demand that the government make extensive changes in Chile’s education system. The protests have been largely peaceful, but small groups of activists have frequently fought with police after the marches end.
The protesters are demanding the the government provide free public education for all students, not just the poorest, and to improve the quality of schooling. They also want state subsidies for private colleges reduced.
President Sebastian Pinera’s government has said it cannot afford to make education free for all Chileans, and student leaders have broken off negotiations with the center-right administration.
Hundreds of teachers, parents and Occupy LA protesters joined forces in a march to the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday, protesting education budget cuts.
The United Teachers of Los Angeles did not officially endorse the “Occupy LAUSD” march.
Parallel to the criticism of the wealthy at Occupy Wall Street, Occupy LAUSD participants say billionaire reformers like Eli Broad are damaging public education.
“What is happening right now is deliberate underfunding in order to starve our schools and be given away to corporate,” said demonstrator Marcy Winograd.
Protestors rallied at City Hall before marching to LAUSD headquarters, where the Board of Education met. Participants chanted, “they say cut back, we say fight back” and waved signs that read “we want our teachers back, education is under attack,” while setting up tents to mirror the Occupy LA protest.
Teachers, parents, and students voiced concerns via microphone to support the cause. “This is a campaign for the resources our school needs, this is a fight for the soul of public education” said Gillian Russom a teacher at Roosevelt High School. “What is going on?” she questioned, when there is money to bail out the banks that created this crisis and no money for the people that serve our students every single day”.
A 12-year-old student from Johnnie Cochran Middle School was also there to support her teachers and shed light on what is happening at her school. “I am here because our school needs some books, they are ripped and we can’t read from that.”
“LAUSD laid off thousands of educators and school staff despite their $55 million surplus, classes are crammed with more than 40 students and school libraries are being closed,” said Jose Lara, one of the lead organizers and a member of the UTLA board of directors.
If it’s our sharing that makes us powerful, why return to normal? This life is more worth living than the one we left behind. (Leaflet, Solidarity March with Occupy Wall Street, October 5, 2011)
How do our voices of dissent encounter each other? Do we really want to merge our raging cacophony into a unified political agenda? What if the voice of the people is always in a mode of becoming? Welcome to the hidden track of Occupy Wall Street: We are discovering new ways in which our desires can resonate together. This space is our sonogram of potential.
Let me explain; my partner and I were attending an event for the Huffington Post, for which I often write: Game Changers 2011, in a venue space on Hudson Street. As we entered the space, we saw that about 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters were peacefully assembled and were chanting. They wanted to address Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was going to be arriving at the event. They were using a technique that has become known as “the human mic” – by which the crowd laboriously repeats every word the speaker says – since they had been told that using real megaphones was illegal.
In my book Give Me Liberty, a blueprint for how to open up a closing civil society, I have a chapter on permits – which is a crucial subject to understand for anyone involved in protest in the US. In 70s America, protest used to be very effective, but in subsequent decades municipalities have sneakily created a web of “overpermiticisation” – requirements that were designed to stifle freedom of assembly and the right to petition government for redress of grievances, both of which are part of our first amendment. One of these made-up permit requirements, which are not transparent or accountable, is the megaphone restriction.
So I informed the group on Hudson Street that they had a first amendment right to use a megaphone and that the National Lawyers’ Guild should appeal the issue if they got arrested. And I repeated the words of the first amendment, which the crowd repeated.
Then my partner suggested that I ask the group for their list of demands. Since we would be inside, we thought it would be helpful to take their list into the event and if I had a chance to talk with the governor I could pass the list on. That is how a democracy works, right? The people have the right to address their representatives.
We went inside, chatted with our friends, but needed to leave before the governor had arrived. I decided I would present their list to his office in the morning and write about the response. On our exit, I saw that the protesters had been cordoned off by a now-massive phalanx of NYPD cops and pinned against the far side of the street – far away from the event they sought to address.
I went up and asked them why. They replied that they had been informed that the Huffington Post event had a permit that forbade them to use the sidewalk. I knew from my investigative reporting on NYC permits that this was impossible: a private entity cannot lease the public sidewalks; even film crews must allow pedestrian traffic. I asked the police for clarification – no response.
I went over to the sidewalk at issue and identified myself as a NYC citizen and a reporter, and asked to see the permit in question or to locate the source on the police or event side that claimed it forbade citizen access to a public sidewalk. Finally a tall man, who seemed to be with the event, confessed that while it did have a permit, the permit did allow for protest so long as we did not block pedestrian passage.
I thanked him, returned to the protesters, and said: “The permit allows us to walk on the other side of the street if we don’t block access. I am now going to walk on the public sidewalk and not block it. It is legal to do so. Please join me if you wish.” My partner and I then returned to the event-side sidewalk and began to walk peacefully arm in arm, while about 30 or 40 people walked with us in single file, not blocking access.
Then a phalanx of perhaps 40 white-shirted senior offices descended out of seemingly nowhere and, with a megaphone (which was supposedly illegal for citizens to use), one said: “You are unlawfully creating a disruption. You are ordered to disperse.” I approached him peacefully, slowly, gently and respectfully and said: “I am confused. I was told that the permit in question allows us to walk if we don’t block pedestrian access and as you see we are complying with the permit.”
He gave me a look of pure hate. “Are you going to back down?” he shouted. I stood, immobilised, for a moment. “Are you getting out of my way?” I did not even make a conscious decision not to “fall back” – I simply couldn’t even will myself to do so, because I knew that he was not giving a lawful order and that if I stepped aside it would be not because of the law, which I was following, but as a capitulation to sheer force. In that moment’s hesitation, he said, “OK,” gestured, and my partner and I were surrounded by about 20 officers who pulled our hands behind our backs and cuffed us with plastic handcuffs.
We were taken in a van to the seventh precinct – the scary part about that is that the protesters and lawyers marched to the first precinct, which handles Hudson Street, but in the van the police got the message to avoid them by rerouting me. I understood later that the protesters were lied to about our whereabouts, which seemed to me to be a trickle-down of the Bush-era detention practice of unaccountable detentions.
ST. PAUL - The movement to hold Wall Street accountable for tanking the U.S. economy spread to downtown Saint Paul, as more than 100 delegates to the Minnesota Nurses Association’s convention marched Tuesday to raise awareness of the union’s plan to “heal” Main Street with a tax on Wall Street. The nurses marched along Wabasha Street during rush hour, carrying banker-themed Halloween masks and signs supporting National Nurses United’s plan to rein in Wall Street, dubbed The Main Street Contract for America.
Put forth by National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses’ union, the Main Street Contract’s centerpiece is the Financial Transaction Tax, a 0.5 percent tax on Wall Street trades. Nurses say such a tax would help curb the reckless, computer-driven trades made by bankers seeking high-volume, short-term profits in 2008, contributing to the country’s financial meltdown. The transaction tax could generate as much as $350 billion annually. Nurses want to see that revenue invested in public services – like health care coverage for the poor – and job creation.
By demonstrating in Saint Paul, the nurses added to the growing chorus of voices calling for greater scrutiny of the powerful role Wall Street banks and other giant corporations play in the U.S. political system. Marchers chanted, “Trick or treat, tax Wall Street!” and “They got bailed out, we got sold out!”
Here, I will be shedding light on the real issues that we face everyday. Instead of taking sides, I will bring you information that will unite us rather than divide us. Our world today is full of opinionated idiots whose job is to only separate and confuse us. This has brought us to the brink. Media continues to reduce our world to talking points and mindless mantras. If we continue on this path we will be blindly led to our servitude. Let us come together and unite against those that wish to dumb us down and herd us like cattle to the slaughter. So today, I say, "Wake Up, Stand Up, and Be Heard!"