Friday, December 30, 2011
It is time to see aside our differences, and unite for a true cause.. One of the most inspirational speeches in recorded history was given by a comedian by the name of Charlie Chaplin in the movie "The Great Dictator". If you like what you see please share the video any way you can and pass the message on.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The effect worldwide of the Gaza massacres 3 years ago was a catalyst for a huge rise in worldwide solidarity and action in support of Palestine, just as the South African Sharpeville massacre was for South African blacks in 1960.
Our call this year will accept no compromise. We call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:
· An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of their exercise of democratic choice.
· The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention.
· The immediate release of all political prisoners.
· That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be immediately provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing
· An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes with immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in Gaza.
For us, the sacrifices for resisting have often meant imprisonment, torture, collective punishment and death. Outside, the risks are lower, but with great possibility. We call on you to Boycott Divest and Sanction, join the many International Trade Unions, Universities, Supermarkets and artists and writers who refuse to entertain Apartheid Israel. Speak out for Palestine, for Gaza, and crucially ACT. There has never been a time when mobilizations are gaining such support. 1994 was the year of South Africa when Apartheid was thrown into the dustbin of history; with your support we can make 2012 the year of free Palestine!
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
On December 19, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the establishment of a 2 million square foot engineering and applied sciences university campus in the heart of New York City. The New York-based Cornell University and the Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology, were chosen to oversee the new institution.
“Thanks to this outstanding partnership and groundbreaking proposal from Cornell and the Technion, New York City’s goal of becoming the global leader in technological innovation is now within sight,” Bloomberg proclaimed. “When people look back 100 years from now, I believe that they will remember today as a signal moment in the transformation of the city’s economy,” Deputy Mayor Robert K Steel declared.
The Cornell-Technion partnership will result in a shimmering new university campus on New York City's Roosevelt Island, a sleepy and long-neglected slice of land between midtown Manhattan and Queens. A US$350 million grant from the publicity shy philanthropist Charles Feeney supplemented by US$100 million in public money will fund the construction of the campus. The joint project was awarded after a well-publicized competition between several top-flight universities, and was enthusiastically trumpeted by the Mayor's office, earning it coverage in the New York Times. However, neither Bloomberg or the Times bothered to mention a few facts that might have outraged the local taxpayers corralled into funding the project.
Presented as an anodyne research and development initiative that promises to produce thousands of jobs and hundreds of "spin-off" tech companies, the Cornell-Technion campus is also likely to be a boon to the military-industrial complex in the US and Israel. For decades, the Technion has provided the brains Israel required to create the elaborate mechanism of control under-girding its occupation of Palestine. Through its partnership with Israel's burgeoning arms industry, Technion's creations have been imported to armed forces around the world. In the words of Israeli researcher Shir Hever, the Technion "has all but enlisted itself in the military."
In 2008, the Technion signed a joint research agreement with Elbit Systems, the Israeli weapons and security systems giant. Elbit is best known for providing the monitoring system for the Israeli separation wall, a 760 kilometer long concrete barrier that juts into the occupied West Bank, enabling Israel's annexation of tens of thousands of dunams of Palestinian land. The company also produces weaponized aerial drones that have been procured by the Brazilian and US air forces, Elbit representatives routinely host recruitment seminars for ambitious Technion students.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Later, as I learned more about Khaled’s family and saw their most expressive and revealing photos, I came to believe that with respect to the wanton criminal aggression that caused thousands of needless deaths of innocents over the period of nearly nine months, that Najia, Safa, Salam, Khaleda, and Khweldi, and the others slaughtered at Sorman, are forever iconic representatives of all the innocent civilians who were slaughtered in Libya since March 2011.
During my recent visit to Sorman, I stood at the same location as last June. I surveyed the area and then approached the graves of Najia, Safa, Salam, Khaleda, and Khweldi. In the cold darkness with the piles of rubble still in place it was eerie.
I knelt close, felt a strange source of warmth and looked over my shoulder. I whispered in the silent night that I had a message from your loving Husband, Father, Uncle and Nephew that he asked me to deliver to you.
I read to them the message entrusted to me. And I left a copy in Arabic, pinned to a bouquet of flowers. The message read:
"Please say a very big hello to them and tell them I am coming. Please tell them I won’t leave you alone. And I miss each of you so very much.And please write them each a note. Najia, Safa, Salam, Khaleda, and Khweldi.Franklin, Tell them, "You are my life. You are my love. I miss you very, very much. Life without you is so painful, so hard and completely empty. I won’t stay and live away from you. I promise. I’ll return and be close to you. Baba will be back. I love you."As I made my way back to the main road in search of a taxi, a militiaman stopped me and interrogated me about why I was there, confiscated my camera and ordered me to leave the area at once.
I paused for a moment and looked back toward what had been a loving family home, a petting zoo and bird sanctuary that had delighted the children in this neighborhood.
A little boy and girl, perhaps siblings, maybe six or seven years old, approached me with their Ethiopian nanny and asked: "Wien, (where is) Khaleda? Wien Khweldi? metta yargeoun ila Al Bayt (when will they come home?) "When will they come home?"
Unable to speak, I kissed and patted their heads and continued on my way.
Khaled K. Al-Hamedi is strong, deeply religious, and fatalistic. He has pledged to family and friends around the world that he will continue his work with the International Organization for Peace, Care & Relief in spite of the life shattering loss of his loved ones. An honorable family, a peaceful and welcoming town, a devastated country, and a shocked and angry international community demand justice from those who sent 'Unified Protector’ and NATO’s no-fly zone to destroy Libya in order to "protect the civilian population."
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
This article is one of two companion pieces on The Occupier, discussing the larger strategic questions of the Occupation movement. The entirety of Occupation strategy is not reducible to these two points of view, but we hope these will start a discussion in two different, non-symmetric veins about “big picture” issues.http://www.portlandoccupier.org/2011/12/16/reform-vs-revolution-within-occupy/
Polls aside, it seems obvious that most people in America are on the fence as to whether or not to support or reject Occupy. These people cannot be dismissed as Conservatives or “apathetic.” Many of them will be willing to fight with Occupy in the streets, as some unions have, if they see Occupy’s fight as their own. Occupy must demonstrate to the 99% that it is serious about waging a real struggle for working class demands, since tens of millions of working people are suffering and would rally to a movement they saw as providing real hope, not merely moments of bravery combined with anti-1% rhetoric.
The USA Today poll also showed a concerning shift of support against the tactics employed by the Occupy movement, as did a poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP). A pollster for PPP concluded:
“I don’t think the bad poll numbers for Occupy Wall Street reflect Americans being unconcerned with wealth inequality… [but] The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.”
This is almost certainly true, and may soon become critically important. Since the majority of people in the U.S. are still waiting to see if their interests will be represented by Occupy, organizing smaller confrontational/radical actions over more radical demands that do not connect with most working people may only deepen the above divide. Such concerns may seem naturally repulsive to many Occupiers, who deeply want “change now”–an understandable frustration. But this impatience can be self-destructive if more radical acts separate the current Occupy activists from the wider community. The media is doing its best to drive a wedge between the radical occupiers and the wider population of working people, giving them opportunities to use this wedge tactic should be avoided.
The police are also driving this wedge deep, using an excessive police presence combined with excessive force to frighten average people from attending demonstrations that include civil disobedience or other confrontational tactics. And although the police deserve total blame for their tactics, Occupiers must out-flank them with a political strategy that leans towards organizing massive events, so that the police’s power is muted and the media cannot portray Occupy as a minority of “extremist” activists playing cat and mouse with the police.
The police and politicians are basing their level of repression against Occupy on the level of popularity that the movement has with the wider population; many of the Occupy camps were torn down only after demonstrations became smaller and anti-Occupy coverage influenced the still-indecisive majority of people. Occupy must use the same barometer as the police and politicians for the opposite purpose: successful actions should be judged by whether or not they connect with the majority of the population and increasingly draw them into rallies and actions of massive numbers. By implementing this approach to organizing it will become unmistakable that working people stand with Occupy and Occupy with them. Together they are one.
photo 1: The parents (left) of Mustafa Tamimi and his uncle are seen taking part in the weekly demonstration against the occupation and settlements in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, on Friday December 16, 2011. Mustafa Tamimi was killed the week before during the demonstration by an Israeli soldier who shot a tear gas canister at close range.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
With the 2012 presidential election before us, the country is again caught up in debating national security issues, our ongoing wars and the threat of terrorism. There is one related subject, however, that is rarely mentioned: civil liberties.
Protecting individual rights and liberties — apart from the right to be tax-free — seems barely relevant to candidates or voters. One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.
Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.
However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the "just following orders" defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.
Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.
But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama's personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. Indeed, only a few days after he took office, the Nobel committee awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize without his having a single accomplishment to his credit beyond being elected. Many Democrats were, and remain, enraptured.
It's almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama's position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism: A Republican would be worse. However, realism alone cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama's policies on civil liberties in Congress during his term. It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama's policies have become secondary to his persona.
Ironically, had Obama been defeated in 2008, it is likely that an alliance for civil liberties might have coalesced and effectively fought the government's burgeoning police powers. A Gallup poll released this week shows 49% of Americans, a record since the poll began asking this question in 2003, believe that "the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals' rights and freedoms." Yet the Obama administration long ago made a cynical calculation that it already had such voters in the bag and tacked to the right on this issue to show Obama was not "soft" on terror. He assumed that, yet again, civil libertarians might grumble and gripe but, come election day, they would not dare stay home.
This calculation may be wrong. Obama may have flown by the fail-safe line, especially when it comes to waterboarding. For many civil libertarians, it will be virtually impossible to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles. As Obama and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. have admitted, waterboarding is clearly torture and has been long defined as such by both international and U.S. courts. It is not only a crime but a war crime. By blocking the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for torture, Obama violated international law and reinforced other countries in refusing investigation of their own alleged war crimes. The administration magnified the damage by blocking efforts of other countries like Spain from investigating our alleged war crimes. In this process, his administration shredded principles on the accountability of government officials and lawyers facilitating war crimes and further destroyed the credibility of the U.S. in objecting to civil liberties abuses abroad.
In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. Now the president has begun campaigning for a second term. He will again be selling himself more than his policies, but he is likely to find many civil libertarians who simply are not buying.
Jonathan Turley is a professor of law at George Washington University.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Not many folks can boast of Troubadour Jim Page headlining their birthday. Or having their lifetime character and wisdom emblazoned so fittingly on such beautiful cakes.
But yes, it was and all for our amazing and wonderful friend, Dorli, on her 85th! yes, 85th! birthday. Many happy returns of this day, Dorli. (She is the diminutive person in this not to well taken picture below, who was famous in Seattle even before she got maced.)
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Just before Mustafa went into the operating room, some good news came through. He had not suffered any cognitive damages to his brain, although he suffered a brain hemorrhage. There was a chance his eye might be saved. Relief washed over us. We tweeted, “please #Pray4Mustafa.”
I had pictured myself going to Nabi Saleh the next day, not the following Friday. I had imagined sitting in a room with weeping women, after passing by the somber men sitting outside. I had envisioned a funeral and an inconsolable Ola with her mother. Thank God there was a reassuring chance he would be ok. We’d make fun of his bandaged face, just like we did to Abu Hussam when a rubber bullet hit him under the eye a few weeks ago.
Then I got the call that Mustafa had succumbed to his wounds.
My humanity is only human. I hate my enemy. A deep vigorous hatred that courses through my veins whenever I come into contact with them or any form of their system. My humanity is limited. I cannot write a book titled I Shall Not Hate especially if my three daughters and one niece were murdered by my enemy. My humanity is faulty. I dream of my enemy choking on tear gas fired through the windows of their houses, of having their fathers arrested on trumped-up charges, of them wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets, of them being woken up in the middle of the night and dragged away for interrogations that are spliced with bouts of torture.
The soldiers laughed. They smiled. They took pictures of us, zooming in on each of our faces, and they smirked. I screamed at them: “Nazis, terrorists, vermin, programmed killing machines.”
They laughed at us as we screamed at them to let us through to where he was, unconscious in a taxi near the watchtower. They threatened us if we didn’t go back. We waved the flag with his blood on it in front of them. One of them had the audacity to bat it away. We shouted, “His blood is on your hands!” They replied, “So?”
I thought of Mustafa’s younger brother, imprisoned all these eight months. I thought of that brother’s broken jaw and his subsequent stay in the prison hospital. I thought of Juju (Jihad Tamimi), he of the elfin face who arrested a few days ago with no rights to see a lawyer after being wanted by the army for more than a year. I shuddered to think of the reactions of these imprisoned men from the village — Uday, Bassem, Naji, Jihad, Saeed – once they received the news.
I got the call just after 11pm Friday night. I was sworn to secrecy, since his family didn’t want to make it public yet. Anger, bitterness and sorrow overwhelmed me. I cried at my kitchen table.
Friday, December 09, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Monday, December 05, 2011
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Alone I go with my sorrow
Alone goes my sentence
To run is my destiny
To escape the law
Lost in the heart of the great Babylon
They call me
For not having any papers
To a city of the north
I went to work
I left my life
Between Ceuta and
I’m a line in the sea
A ghost in the city
My life is forbidden
So says the authority
Alone I go with my sorrow
Alone goes my sentence
To run is my destiny
For having no papers
Lost in the heart
Of the great Babylon
They call me clandestine
I’m the lawbreaker
Black Hand clandestine
Alone I go with my sorrow
Alone goes my sentence
To run is my destiny
To escape the law
Lost in the heart of the great Babylon
They call me
For not having any papers
Black Hand, Illegal
Friday, December 02, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Desserts occupying a table at the picnic
Notorious Doug & Dorli occupying space at picnic.
Courtney, who read The Real Thanksgiving Story, to the listeners at left.
Reminder to folks at picnic about The International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier, February 4, 2012, in Tacoma.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
EXCERPT: from mondoweiss via code pink:
It’s easy to draw the connections between the occupation of Palestine and the colonization of lands on this continent, and the parallels seem endless. Likewise, the continuity is strong when we respond to the 2005 BDS call from Palestinian civil society in conjunction with the demands for justice here. Because of this, I urge those of us in the Palestine liberation and “Occupy” movements to take this stand:
Just as we call on Israel to end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall, we too must call for Indigenous sovereignty over ancestral lands of this continent.
Just as we call on Israel to recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, we must demand, and work for, the end of institutionalized racism in the U.S. and the end to continued acts of genocide towards indigenous people here.
Just as we call for the Palestinian Right of Return, we call for the end to the reservation system on this continent - with the acknowledgement of and reparations for the hundreds of treaties broken by the United States government against indigenous nations.
This moment in time holds the potential for real, systemic change. With so many peoples’ struggles interconnected, the possibilities are great. By broadening our scope to include everyone, we are able to hone-in more clearly on our targets: the end of imperialism, the return of lands to sovereign indigenous nations, and a life of health and dignity for all human beings and the planet.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thu, November 24, 2pm – 6pm
Sign up to bring a dish here:
Ideas with accompanying implementers welcome! Would you like to organize transportation for the Occupiers? Connect us with musicians who would like to give their time and talents to this event? We will soon be posting a registry for people who would like to provide a cooked dish or hook up with supplies to prepare some food for this meal.
If you'd like to be an organiser for this event, please message me here. If you can't make it, but would like to support in other ways, we can use your help: You can run a food drive among your friends and co-workers, donate Sterno setups/tableclo
Most importantly, please invite everyone you know. There's room for everybody at this Thanksgiving table!
Saturday, November 19, 2011
mosaaberizing Mosa'ab Elshamy
In order to deal with the deepening crisis within NATO, Panetta is demanding the Anglo-U.S. “allies” absorb US military and Pentagon spending and foreign troop deployment. This is being done in the name of spending cuts demanded by the U.S. Congress and against the so-called “two-tiered NATO”, whereby the U.S. alleges it produces “security” while Europe “consumes” it. This demand has been embraced by the Harper government, with its so-called “transformation” of the Canadian Forces featuring boosting the number of combat-ready troops, the warship shipbuilding program and stealth jet fighters, and the establishment of military bases around the world.
CIA director Panetta continued Guantanamo, which was not shut down. In little-noticed testimony at his nomination hearing, Panetta said that if the approved techniques of torture were “not sufficient” to get a detainee to divulge details he was suspected of knowing about an imminent attack, he would ask for “additional authority.” In an internal memo issued April 9 2009 Panetta announced a blanket amnesty for all Bush officials, torturers and war criminals.
Panetta is committed to America’s “long war” including global warfare under the pretext of the “war on terrorism.”
Join us this Saturday to call for an end to the Israeli & Egyptian siege on Gaza. Come support the Palestinian people in their struggle for Justice.
v=kEIbUoSSiV4Saturday, Nov.1912:00 - 2:00pm
Westlake Plaza, 4th & Pine downtown Seattle==============================
======Amin Odeh"Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone"
Friday, November 18, 2011
VIDEO AT LINK ABOVE:
Journalist Sam Husseini was suspended from The National Press Club for asking a Saudi Prince a tough question. His punishment indicates precisely what is wrong with journalism in this country.
At his blog, Husseini offers the transcript of the exchange . His part may be difficult to hear so here it is:
Husseini: There’s been a lot of talk about the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, I want to know what legitimacy your regime has sir. You come before us, representative of one of the most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth. Human Rights Watch and other reports of torture detention of activist, you squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain , you tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt  and indeed you continue to oppress your own people. What legitimacy does you regime have — other than billions of dollars and weapons ?
Later that afternoon, I got an email with the notice of suspension signed by McCarren. The letter states: “We are suspending your membership for two weeks, effective immediately, due to your conduct at a news conference held at the National Press Club on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Your action was in direct violation of House Rule 4 and grounds for immediate suspension.
“House Rule No. 4 states: ‘Boisterous and unseemly conduct or language in or about the Club premises or in connection with any Club-sponsored event is prohibited. Any member so offending shall be liable for immediate suspension by any Member of the board or the manager or his designee pending investigation by the board, which shall render final action.’
“This matter will be review ed by the Club’s Ethics Committee. A meeting will be scheduled prior to the end of your two week suspension to discuss your conduct and the violation. The Chairperson of the Ethics Committee will contact you to schedule the meeting.
“In the meantime, you should not come to the Club or use its facilities for any reason.”
The charge is false. I did not engage in “boisterous and unseemly conduct or language” — I engaged in tough journalism with a powerful government official from an autocratic regime that is allied with the U.S. government. This apparently warrants suspension from the National Press Club in Executive Director McCarren’s view.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
More on March on Wallstreet & aggressive cop response today:
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
"Israeli bystanders react to Freedom Rides" -- By Mya Guarnieri for the Alternative Information Center (AIC) 16 November 2011
As Palestinian activists stood at a bus stop in the Occupied West Bank yesterday, Jewish settlers made racist remarks. While the Israeli reaction to the Freedom Rides was overwhelmingly negative, the Freedom Riders presence on the bus sparked a debate between two young girls.
After a short press conference in Ramallah early Tuesday afternoon, journalists followed a van of six Palestinian Freedom Riders to a bus stop in the Jewish settlement of Psagot, which is located in the West Bank.
There, activists—who included Dr. Mazin Qumisyeh, a professor and the author of Popular Resistance in Palestine and Huwaida Arraf, a founder of the Free Gaza Movement—waited for a Jerusalem-bound bus. The Egged line they hoped to ride, 148, would pass through the Hizma checkpoint, entering the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev, which is located in East Jerusalem, outside of the Green Line.
The Jewish Israelis who had been standing at the bus stop—a middle aged woman and an off-duty soldier—quickly distanced themselves from the activists, who were wearing keffiyeh and t-shirts bearing the words Freedom, Justice, and Dignity in Arabic and English.
Magi Amir, a resident of Rimonim, explained to the Alternative Information Center (AIC) that she moved away from the crowd because she heard people speaking Arabic.
“I don’t think they need to be here,” Amir continued. “They can be in their villages and their houses, why are they in our area? Can we go to Ramallah? If we go into Ramallah, they’ll kill us. Can we go into their villages or their areas? We can’t enter.”
Amir added that, in her opinion, Jewish Israelis can’t trust Palestinians or believe in them. “They’ll do terror attacks,” she said.
Other Jewish settlers who came and waited for the bus echoed Amir’s sentiment, remarking that they feared for their safety.
A 16-year-old Jewish Israeli, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the Freedom Riders shouldn’t be able to board the bus because, “It’s an Israeli bus.”
“We live here, this is our land,” he said.
When asked about those who feel differently, the boy replied, “Those who say this is Palestinian land don’t have proof.”
He added that Palestinians enjoy a lot of freedom. “We give them identity cards and they can do whatever they want.”
AIC asked the boy, a resident of Maale Adumim who wished to remain anonymous, if Palestinians can do whatever they want, then why can’t they ride a bus to Jerusalem?
“Okay,” he said. “They can do what they need to… I don’t want them boarding the bus.”
Sunday, November 13, 2011
We're a nation that was built on a thousand different utopian ideas, from the Shakers to the Mormons to New Harmony, Indiana. It was possible, once, for communities to experiment with everything from free love to an end to private property. But nowadays even the palest federalism is swiftly crushed. If your state tries to place tariffs on companies doing business with some notorious human-rights-violator state – like Massachusetts did, when it sought to bar state contracts to firms doing business with Myanmar – the decision will be overturned by some distant global bureaucracy like the WTO. Even if 40 million Californians vote tomorrow to allow themselves to smoke a joint, the federal government will never permit it. And the economy is run almost entirely by an unaccountable oligarchy in Lower Manhattan that absolutely will not sanction any innovations in banking or debt forgiveness or anything else that might lessen its predatory influence.
And here's one more thing I was wrong about: I originally was very uncomfortable with the way the protesters were focusing on the NYPD as symbols of the system. After all, I thought, these are just working-class guys from the Bronx and Staten Island who have never seen the inside of a Wall Street investment firm, much less had anything to do with the corruption of our financial system.
But I was wrong. The police in their own way are symbols of the problem. All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters. This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government "committed" to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.
This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this country. What happened on Wall Street over the past decade was an unparalleled crime wave. Yet at most, maybe 1,500 federal agents were policing that beat – and that little group of financial cops barely made any cases at all. Yet when thousands of ordinary people hit the streets with the express purpose of obeying the law and demonstrating their patriotism through peaceful protest, the police response is immediate and massive. There have already been hundreds of arrests, which is hundreds more than we ever saw during the years when Wall Street bankers were stealing billions of dollars from retirees and mutual-fund holders and carpenters unions through the mass sales of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities.
It's not that the cops outside the protests are doing wrong, per se, by patrolling the parks and sidewalks. It's that they should be somewhere else. They should be heading up into those skyscrapers and going through the file cabinets to figure out who stole what, and from whom. They should be helping people get their money back. Instead, they're out on the street, helping the Blankfeins of the world avoid having to answer to the people they ripped off.
People want out of this fiendish system, rigged to inexorably circumvent every hope we have for a more balanced world. They want major changes. I think I understand now that this is what the Occupy movement is all about. It's about dropping out, if only for a moment, and trying something new, the same way that the civil rights movement of the 1960s strived to create a "beloved community" free of racial segregation. Eventually the Occupy movement will need to be specific about how it wants to change the world. But for right now, it just needs to grow. And if it wants to sleep on the streets for a while and not structure itself into a traditional campaign of grassroots organizing, it should. It doesn't need to tell the world what it wants. It is succeeding, for now, just by being something different.
Amazing story of how this song was sung to world leaders, including Obama: http://my.firedoglake.com/profmarcus/2011/11/13/an-amazing-triumph-apec-dinner-gala-in-hawaii-last-night-gets-occupied/
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Palestinian Freedom Riders to Challenge Segregation By Riding Settler Buses to Jerusalem: November 15, 2011
Palestinian activists will reenact the US Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Rides to the American South by boarding segregated Israeli public transportation in the West Bank to travel to occupied East Jerusalem.
Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli public transportation headed from inside the West Bank to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 60′s.
Fifty years after the U.S. Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience.
The Freedom Riders seek to highlight Israel’s attempts to illegally sever occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, and the apartheid system that Israel has imposed on Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Several Israeli companies, among them Egged and Veolia, operate dozens of lines that run through the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, many of them subsidized by the state. They run between different Israeli settlements, connecting them to each other and cities inside Israel. Some lines connecting Jerusalem to other cities inside Israel, such as Eilat and Beit She’an, are also routed to pass through the West Bank.
Israelis suffer almost no limitations on their freedom of movement in the occupied Palestinian territory, and are even allowed to settle in it, contrary to international law. Palestinians, in contrast, are not allowed to enter Israel without procuring a special permit from Israeli authorities. Even Palestinian movement inside the Occupied Territories is heavily restricted, with access to occupied East Jerusalem and some 8% of the West Bank in the border area also forbidden without a similar permit.
While it is not officially forbidden for Palestinians to use Israeli public transportation in the West Bank, these lines are effectively segregated, since many of them pass through Jewish-only settlements, to which Palestinian entry is prohibited by a military decree.
Monday, November 07, 2011
I do love the beginning with the Pop Goes the Weasel reference.
Thanks, Wayne State Students, for not standing idly by!
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Dear sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones,
I write to you from cell 9, block 59 Givon Prison near Ramla in Occupied Palestine. Although I was tasered during the assault on the Tahrir, and bruised during forcible removal dockside (I am limping slightly as a result) I am basically ok. We, Ehab, Michael, Karen from Tahrir, as well as Karen, Kit (US) and Jihan who we saw briefly this morning. We are most concerned about our Tahrir shipmate, Palestinian Majd Kayyal from Haifa, last seen by us at Ashdod being photographed and put in a police car.*
Although Michael and I (among others) were transported in handcuffs and leg shackles, let me stress that we are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel. Four from the Tahrir are imprisoned with 12 Irish comrades from the Saoirse, who have more experience with such issues. The four of us, Ehab and I (Cdn), Michael (Aus) and Hassan (UK) have joined with the Irish in their political prisoners' committee in order to press our collective demands:
association in the block - i.e. open cells
adequate writing and reading material
free communication with outside world - i.e. regular phone calls
information about shipmate women held at same prison
We add one Tahrir-specific demand: that Israeli state recognize the professional status of Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz in accordance with her credentials from the US government. All political incarceration is unjust but let me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the open air prison of Gaza.
If you have energy to devote to solidarity actions in the coming days, please concentrate on them. We must get Tahrir back and hope Freedom Waves continue.
Free Majd Kayyal! Free all political prisoners! Free Gaza! Free Palestine!
Anishnabe-debuewin, restons humaine, stay human, in love and struggle,
David Heap of London, Ontario
* Majd Kayyal was released, but it appears the other political prisoners weren't told where he was taken.