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2012 February 7 | Activist News

The Road to World War 3

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Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

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 More »


U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

jeff olsen

Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »


The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

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 More »

Daily Archives: February 7, 2012

ACLU warns Congress pushing ‘willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance’

Raw Story
Feb. 7, 2012
By Eric W. Dolan

The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday warned that legislation approved by Congress could severely undermine Americans’ privacy.

On Monday, the Senate passed H.R. 658, a bill that would make it easier for law enforcement agencies to obtain and use unmanned aerial vehicles. The bill was passed by the House on Friday.

“Unfortunately, nothing in the bill would address the very serious privacy issues raised by drone aircraft,” Jay Stanley of the ACLU said. “This bill would push the nation willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance without any steps to protect the traditional privacy that Americans have always enjoyed and expected.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has restrained the domestic use of drones out of concern for the safety of U.S. airspace. The use of drones has been mostly limited to the U.S.-Mexico border and in war-zones outside the country.

But provisions in H.R. 658 would require the FAA to speed up the process by which it authorizes government agencies to operate drones. The bill would also require the agency to allow agencies to operate any drone weighing 4.4 pounds or less as long as it was operated within line of sight, during the day and below 400 feet in altitude.

There are hundreds of different models of drones, from large fixed-wing aircraft to a tiny drone called the Nano Hummingbird. The drones employ a wide range of surveillance technology as well, including high-power zoom lenses, infrared and ultraviolet imaging, see-through imaging and video analytics.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/02/06/aclu-warns-congress-pushing-willy-nilly-toward-an-era-of-aerial-surveillance/ 

Survey: 610,000 switched banks to protest debit card fees

Los Angeles Times
Feb. 7, 2012
By E. Scott Reckard

About 610,000 U.S. bank customers switched to a smaller institution in the last three months of 2011 to protest plans by major banks to impose monthly charges for using debit cards, according to a financial services market-research firm.

That represented 11% of the 5.6 million U.S. people who switched banks during that period — a relatively modest number, Javelin Strategy & Research said in a report Monday.

Javelin said it analyzed the online responses of 5,878 people to gauge the effect of the backlash triggered by Bank of America Corp.‘s plan to charge $5 a month to customers who used their debit cards for purchases.

Several other banks already had either imposed debit card fees or were testing them, and analysts had predicted the trend would spread to the entire industry. But BofA’s plan, which leaked out at the end of September, produced an enormous surge of criticism.

Protesters from the Occupy movement, consumer advocates and even President Obama questioned the move, and an online movement called Bank Transfer Day emerged to encourage people to switch to small  banks and credit unions.

Bank of America ultimately called off its plans without imposing the $5 charge, and the rest of the industry followed suit in allowing fee-free use of debit cards.

“This exodus was certainly not the massive departure banks might have feared,” Javelin said in reporting its analysis. However, it said it was unusual for bank customers to move funds in protest at all, despite widespread dissatisfaction over service, rates and fees at banks.

The firm, which has surveyed bank customers since 2003, said people generally are “highly resistant to moving their money.”

Full Article Here – http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-bank-transfer-day-20120206,0,2542167.story 

Chicago college offers class on Occupy movement

Associated Press
Feb. 6, 2012

CHICAGO—A Chicago college is offering a class on the Occupy movement.

Thirty-two undergraduate students are enrolled at Roosevelt University’s “Occupy Everywhere” class. It’s a three-credit political science course that looks at the movement that started last summer near New York City’s Wall Street and spread nationwide.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/w7Fgm7 ) students’ assignments include reading the movement’s newspaper and attending Occupy Chicago’s general assembly meetings held near Roosevelt’s downtown campus.
Leaders from the Chicago movement may present guest lectures.

Communique from Occupy Oakland’s Move-In Assembly

By OO Move-In Assembly 
Feb. 6, 2012

A statement from Occupy Oakland’s Move-In Assembly*

To the Occupy Oakland family and all supporters of Occupy Oakland:

We are writing in regards to any misconceptions you may have regarding last Saturday’s (1/28) Move-In Day to reclaim the unused Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. We have had to brave a heavy campaign launched by the city and the mainstream media to discredit us, and unfortunately some within our ranks have taken such misrepresentations at face value. We hope that this statement can help clear things up.

We remember how beautiful we all were on our march, a diverse crowd of thousands coming together to turn an unused building into a social center and a new home for Occupy Oakland. We had a children’s brigade at the back and a line of shields in the front, and a celebratory crew of comrades in between. We should be emboldened that there are so many of us out there who are willing to take such action together and like the General Strike and the Port Shutdown, see it as sign of what we can do when united in purpose and solidarity.

Yes, we were met with the heavy hand of the police state when OPD chose to turn our peaceful march into a war zone. But one fact that should not go unnoticed is the courage and resiliency we demonstrated on the streets that day. Whether it was advancing behind our shields towards a militarized police force, tearing down fences to escape a police kettle while being tear gassed, escaping through the YMCA to avoid arrest (thank you to whoever it was who let us in!), using a fire extinguisher as a smoke screen to assist the escape of those who were in City Hall, or attempting to free our comrades being transferred to the Glen Dyer Detention Facility, the people of Oakland showed what we are capable of and what we can become. Above all, we demonstrated to the city and its rogue police force that we will not be intimidated or scared by their tactics, when we know that we have each other’s backs.

Let it be clear: we are not victims of police brutality but survivors of it. There is no question that we demonstrated militant resistance to the police last Saturday. It is only natural to do so when our best intentions of creating a new world our met with such hostility. This time, the chant “When Oakland is under attack, what do you do? Stand up! Fight back!” was not an empty one. At the same time, it should also be clear that there is nothing preventing those who want to from organizing non-violent direct actions autonomously with clear guidelines as such. This is what we mean by diversity of tactics.

We recognize that there are communities who were affected in the neighborhoods where the conflicts with the police took place. We did outreach all over Oakland before the action and will continue to offer support and solidarity to those who might have been negatively effected or traumatized by the OPD’s inexcusable actions. What we saw in the streets of Oakland on the 28th was overwhelming support, whether it was bystanders bringing us water to wash off tear gas, waving and cheering us on, honking from their cars, or coming down from their apartments to join us. We experienced solidarity first hand rather than percentage points in a poll.

The OPD and the city claim that we are outsiders and that we are not from Oakland (even as 93% of OPD officers live outside Oakland). These lies are transparent to anyone who comes to our marches and assemblies and sees their friends and neighbors next to them. And those who came in solidarity last Saturday, from across all over the bay, from Dallas to Los Angeles, they are us and we are them. They are our comrades and no city press release can come between us. Our heart goes out to them and all the Occupies (over 26 at last count) who organized solidarity protests within 24 hours of the mass arrests on the 28th. We love you in the deepest meaning of the word. From its inception, Occupy Oakland has been about taking direct action and defending ourselves and what we reclaim to the best of our abilities. It has always been about people providing for each other and working to build radical alternatives to the patriarchal capitalist system, and it is in this spirit that we move forward together. No one comes from some ‘outside’ in order to mess with our Oakland, other than the suburbanite riot police. We come from here and everywhere, and in our movement those who join us are all insiders, agitating together towards a better Oakland, a better world.

To be sure, many of us are frustrated about the tactical mistakes made throughout the day, and we have to learn from these as we advance. There are many questions and criticisms coming from our broader community, and we welcome your help in transforming these into better strategies for future actions. We have to learn how to takeover buildings in an effective and intelligent manner. We have to learn how to move cohesively through the streets, to take offensive and defensive initiatives, to improve communication in highly charged situations. Critiques are important but we want everyone to understand the difficulty in undertaking such an initiative in the face of such forceful police response. The state fears that one successful building takeover will lead to another. It has nightmares of whole blocks of vacant buildings put to use as social centers and nodes of resistance, inspiring those in other cities to do the same. Despite the knee-deep shit that the OPD is in right now, when it comes to challenging property relations all bets are off and the leashes are cut.

We are dumbfounded by those who accuse us of working solely to create a spectacle, a confrontation with the police, or not being genuine in our stated goals. We are the same people who through the course of a month planned a two day festival to launch our new home, collected and wheeled the many supplies to make it a comfortable and safe space, crafted well thought-out guidelines of behavior and exclusion for inside the building to address the gendered violence we saw at the camp, and drew up defense strategies against police raids. Was it a gamble? Of course it was, just like setting up of our camp at OGP on October 10, or calling for a general strike with a week’s notice, or shutting down the ports. Most every action we plan is filled with risks and unknown factors. Accuse us of naiveté if you must (and then join us in forging better actions), but do not accuse us of malice or hidden motivations.

As we continue to reflect on the actions of last Saturday, we need also to remember that many in our community are in pain and trauma and we need each other’s support and care. More than 400 of us were imprisoned last weekend. Some of us have yet to be released, are facing trumped-up felony charges, or have been given unconstitutional stay-away orders. The abuse we faced behind bars needs to be told and retold, as it not only shows yet another side of the repression of dissent but the everyday brutality of the prison industrial complex on all prisoners. What has not been sufficiently recounted is the solidarity we experienced with each other within the walls and cells designed to separate and isolate us. When we came out of Santa Rita, we did not want to go home but joined the dozens of comrades outside waiting for the rest of us, cheering each releasee, feeding them and nourishing them with food and comfort.

But much more importantly, the time we spent on the inside was a stark reminder of what and why we are fighting. Across the world millions of prisoners languish in prison; in California alone there are nearly 200,000 prisoners, overwhelmingly people of color, as a result of the institutionalized racism of the justice system. In Santa Rita we met some of these inmates who gave us words of support and encouragement. When we converge outside of San Quentin on February 20th for our Occupy the Prisons action, we will have those prisoners in our hearts.

The broader Occupy Oakland community needs to know that we are not finished, and that we continue to plan for future building reclamations and other actions. We realize that we have a ways to go, and need to continue outreach, build (and repair) bridges, and expand our movement, which after all is always a beautiful work in progress. We welcome your feedback and constructive criticisms as we learn from our missteps and move forward together. Please come and join us!

With love, vigilance, and solidarity,

The Occupy Oakland Move-in Assembly
February 5, 2012

Full Article Here – http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/02/06/18706736.php

Acta: Europe braced for protests over anti-piracy treaty

BBC News
Feb. 6, 2012
By Dave Lee

Further protests in opposition to controversial anti-piracy measures have taken place, with another 100 expected to happen in Europe this week.

A petition calling for the rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) has attracted over 1.75 million signatures.

The treaty intends to standardise copyright protection measures, but has been heavily criticised.

On Saturday, about 2,000 people marched in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.

More co-ordinated action is expected to take place across Europe on 11 February.

The Slovenian protests were spearheaded by the country’s ambassador to Japan, Helena Drnovsek Zorko, and follow similar protests in Poland in which tens of thousands took to the streets.

Last week, Ms Zorko apologised for her “carelessness” in signing the treaty.

In a lengthy statement she admitted: “I did not pay enough attention.

“Quite simply, I did not clearly connect the agreement I had been instructed to sign with the agreement that, according to my own civic conviction, limits and withholds the freedom of engagement on the largest and most significant network in human history, and thus limits particularly the future of our children.”
Offline action

She urged opponents of Acta to attend the protest in Ljubljana “in my name”.

In tandem with the “real world” protest, the website of NLB, Slovenia’s largest bank, was temporarily taken offline by hackers.

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16906086

The seed emergency: The threat to food and democracy

Al Jazeera
Feb. 6, 2012
By Dr. Vendana Shiva

New Delhi, India – The seed is the first link in the food chain – and seed sovereignty is the foundation of food sovereignty. If farmers do not have their own seeds or access to open pollinated varieties that they can save, improve and exchange, they have no seed sovereignty – and consequently no food sovereignty.

The deepening agrarian and food crisis has its roots in changes in the seed supply system, and the erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty.

Seed sovereignty includes the farmer’s rights to save, breed and exchange seeds, to have access to diverse open source seeds which can be saved – and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants. It is based on reclaiming seeds and biodiversity as commons and public good.

The past twenty years have seen a very rapid erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty, and the concentration of the control over seeds by a very small number of giant corporations. In 1995, when the UN organised the Plant Genetic Resources Conference in Leipzig, it was reported that 75 per cent of all agricultural biodiversity had disappeared because of the introduction of “modern” varieties, which are always cultivated as monocultures. Since then, the erosion has accelerated.

The introduction of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement of the World Trade Organisation has accelerated the spread of genetically engineered seeds – which can be patented – and for which royalties can be collected. Navdanya was started in response to the introduction of these patents on seeds in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - a forerunner to the WTO – about which a Monsanto representative later stated: “In drafting these agreements, we were the patient, diagnostician [and] physician all in one.” Corporations defined a problem – and for them the problem was farmers saving seeds. They offered a solution, and the solution was to make it illegal for farmers to save seed – by introducing patents and intellectual property rights [PDF] on those very seeds. As a result, acreage under GM corn, soya, canola, cotton has increased dramatically.

Threats to seed sovereignty

Besides displacing and destroying diversity, patented GMO seeds are also undermining seed sovereignty. Across the world, new seed laws are being introduced which enforce compulsory registration of seeds, thus making it impossible for small farmers to grow their own diversity, and forcing them into dependency on giant seed corporations. Corporations are also patenting climate resilient seeds evolved by farmers - thus robbing farmers of using their own seeds and knowledge for climate adaptation.

Another threat to seed sovereignty is genetic contamination. India has lost its cotton seeds because of contamination from Bt Cotton – a strain engineered to contain the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium. Canada has lost its canola seed because of contamination from Roundup Ready canola.
And Mexico has lost its corn due to contamination from Bt Cotton.

After contamination, biotech seed corporations sue farmers with patent infringement cases, as happened in the case of Percy Schmeiser. That is why more than 80 groups came together and filed a case to prevent Monsanto from suing farmers whose seed had been contaminated.

As a farmer’s seed supply is eroded, and farmers become dependent on patented GMO seed, the result is debt. India, the home of cotton, has lost its cotton seed diversity and cotton seed sovereignty. Some 95 per cent of the country’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto – and the debt trap created by being forced to buy seed every year - with royalty payments - has pushed hundreds of thousands of farmers to suicide; of the 250,000 farmer suicides, the majority are in the cotton belt.

Full Article Here – http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/02/201224152439941847.html