You are hereActivism
By Norman Solomon
For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.
Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers -- past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient.
For a moment, walk a mile in the iron-heeled shoes of the military-industrial-digital complex. Its leaders don’t like clarity about what they’re doing, and they certainly don’t like being exposed or denounced -- but right now the surveillance state is in no danger of losing what it needs to keep going: power.
The huge digi-tech firms and the government have become mutual tools for gaining humungous profits and tightening political control. The partnerships are deeply enmeshed in military and surveillance realms, whether cruise missiles and drones or vast metadata records and capacities to squirrel away trillions of emails.
At the core of the surveillance state is the hollowness of its democratic pretenses. Only with authentic democracy can we save ourselves from devastating evisceration of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
The enormous corporate leverage over government policies doesn’t change the fact that the nexus of the surveillance state -- and the only organization with enough potential torque to reverse its anti-democratic trajectory -- is government itself.
The necessity is to subdue the corporate-military forces that have so extensively hijacked the government. To do that, we’ll need to accomplish what progressives are currently ill-positioned for: democratic mobilization to challenge the surveillance state’s hold on power.
These days, progressives are way too deferential and nice to elected Democrats who should be confronted for their active or passive complicity with abysmal policies of the Obama White House. An example is Al Franken, senator from Minnesota, who declared his support for the NSA surveillance program last month: “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people.”
The right-wing Tea Party types realized years ago what progressive activists and groups are much less likely to face -- that namby-pamby “lobbying” gets much weaker results than identifying crucial issues and making clear a willingness to mount primary challenges.
Progressives should be turning up the heat and building electoral capacities. But right now, many Democrats in Congress are cakewalking toward re-election in progressive districts where they should be on the defensive for their anemic “opposition” to -- or outright support for -- NSA surveillance.
Meanwhile, such officials with national profiles should encounter progressive pushback wherever they go. A step in that direction will happen just north of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend, when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appears as guest of honor to raise money for the party (up to $32,400 per couple) at a Marin County reception. There will also be a different kind of reception that Pelosi hadn’t been counting on -- a picket line challenging her steadfast support for NSA surveillance.
In the first days of this week, upwards of 20,000 people responded to a RootsAction.org action alert by sending their senators and representative an email urging an end to the Insider Threat Program -- the creepily Orwellian concoction that, as McClatchy news service revealed last month, “requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.”
Messages to Congress members, vocal protests and many other forms of public outcry are important -- but they should lay the groundwork for much stronger actions to wrest control of the government away from the military-industrial-digital complex. That may seem impossible, but it’s certainly imperative: if we’re going to prevent the destruction of civil liberties. In the long run, denunciations of the surveillance state will mean little unless we can build the political capacity to end it.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”
By The World Can't Wait Steering Committee The U.S. government is prosecuting Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden who exposed war crimes and crimes against humanity by the U.S. Now is the time to issue a powerful people's indictment of the crimes of the US government and counter the war on truth tellers.
We urge people to go out publicly in every way they can think of. Read these indictments aloud on street corners, post them up online and on paper, tweet them, and participate in creative protests to bring the indispensable peoples' voice and actions into this politically intolerable scene.
"A Conversation with Professor John Yoo" Deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, Yoo helped draft the Patriot Act and author the legal basis for the NSA 'PRISM' program.
World Can't Wait joins with a large section of the U.S. population -- and billions worldwide -- in outrage at the unconstitutional, illegitimate surveillance of whole populations by the U.S. which has been covered up and lied about for years.
We Defend Edward Snowden for his courageous action in revealing vast, unlawful surveillance by the United States.
We Call on others to join us in opposing the U.S. government's plans to gain custody of him, to try and imprison him on espionage charges.
Yve says this is on July 13 despite what it says below.
Monday July 8 Bradley Manning Defense Begins at Ft. Meade: We must fill all the public seats in the courtroom, and fill the overflow space next week! Protest outside the gates at Ft. Meade 7:00 am. Trial begins 9:30 am.
by Debra Sweet, Director of World Can't Wait We learned while in a strange, airless, windowless trailer-like military court at the infamous Ft. Meade, during the trial of Bradley Manning on Thursday, June 28, that the U.S. military has blocked access, worldwide, for anyone in the military to the website of The Guardian, apparently in reaction to the leaks by Edward Snowden on vast surveillance of whole populations by the National Security Administration. Ironically, or not, Ft. Meade is the home of the NSA.
On Wednesday, July 10, at 7:15 p.m. the great Naro Cinema in Norfolk Va will be screening the great film Dirty Wars, and I'll be leading a discussion at the conclusion of the screening of the issues covered by the film and actions that can be taken. (The film itself is about 90 minutes.)
Public Support Grows for Snowden in Europe: Germany and France Should offer NSA Whistleblower Asylum
By Dave Lindorff
Europeans are pissed off at the US, in the wake of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s latest revelation that the US was aggressively spying on its European allies, both at their and the European Union’s embassies in Washington, and in Europe itself, gleaning not information about terrorism, but inside-track knowledge about trade negotiation positions and other areas of disagreement or negotiation.
I just returned to my home in Wisconsin after spending four days in the Washington, DC area, participating in two actions against drones organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR). I flew to DC on Thursday. On Friday we returned to the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria, VA to follow up on the criminal complaint we filed in May, and on Saturday we did an action at the CIA where six of us were arrested. I had purchased a one-way ticket to fly out there because I did not know when I would be able to return home.
By Alfredo Lopez
In one of the most innovative uses of the bizarre rules of international travel, whistle-blower Edward Snowden sits in an airport transit lounge outside the customs barrier that is Russian enough to not invade but not Russian enough to claim the Russians are hiding him. He has now reportedly applied for asylum in Russia.
Brazilian Protesters Force Improvements in Public Services (If in U.S. You Are Advised to Ignore the Example)
Ft. Hood command still plan to deploy private to Afghanistan despite CO claim
Killeen, Texas - A soldier seeking a discharge from the Army based on a conscientious objection to war has been told by the command at Fort Hood that it still intends to deploy him to Afghanistan sometime in the coming weeks.
Private Second Class Christopher Munoz, 22, applied for a C.O. (conscientious objector) discharge on June 25, 2013. He has also asked for his deployment to be delayed until request for discharge would be given a fair hearing.
Servicemembers are eligible for C.O. status if they can prove to military authorities that they are opposed to all wars, and that the opposition is grounded in religious belief or moral conviction that is sincere and occurred at some point after enlistment. PV2 Munoz's application asserts that he qualified for this status according to the provisions of Army Regulation 600-43.
As a C.O applicant, PV2 Munoz cannot be made to carry weapons or munitions if deployed.
“If deployed, PV2 Munoz will be at significant risk for harassment by his fellow soldiers since he will effectively be a 'dead weight' on the unit. Despite these very real risks, PV2 Munoz's command has said that a delay of his deployment will not be considered,” said James M. Branum, an attorney who represents PV2 Munoz.
Click Read More to learn more about the case and see how you can help.
240 people came together on short notice on June 19,2013 in The Great Hall of Cooper Union in NYC, and hundreds more watched online as we united to say “We will not be complicit... We DO NOT Consent.” The room reverberated with outrage, support for Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, and, in some cases, newly acquired knowledge of the crime against humanity unfolding at Guantanamo, where over 100 prisoners are on a hunger strike.
By Dave Lindorff
Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?
Bradley Manning has supporters around the U.S. and the world who recognize him as a hero. But in the fourth week of his trial, those attending it, joined by some press, are being taunted by the prosecutor because the public seats in the courtroom are not filled every day.
Phil Mickelson's Choice, Support Corporate Criminals or Social Justice?
Forbes Magazine lists Phil Mickelson as the world's 7th highest paid athlete, with prize money earnings of $4.8 million and endorsements of $43 million for a very comfortable $47.8 million a year.[i] With his beaming smile, swashbuckling style of play, beautiful wife and children, $47.8 million a year; one could call them the All American Family.
When the wealthy nations of the world meet as the G8 or in any other gathering, it's interesting to imagine what they would do if they followed the golden rule, valued grandchildren, disliked unnecessary suffering, or wished to outgrow ancient forms of barbarism, or any combination of those.
The United States alone is perfectly capable, if it chooses, of enacting a global marshall plan, or -- better -- a global rescue plan. Every year the United States spends, through various governmental departments, roughly $1.2 trillion on war and war preparations. Every year the United States foregoes well over $1 trillion in taxes that billionaires and centimillionaires and corporations should be paying.
If we understand that out-of-control military spending is making us less safe, rather than more -- just as Eisenhower warned and so many current experts agree -- it is clear that reducing military spending is a critical end in itself. If we add to that the understanding that military spending hurts, rather than helping, economic well-being, the imperative to reduce it is that much clearer.
If we understand that wealth in the United States is concentrated at medieval levels and that this concentration is destroying representative government, social cohesion, morality in our culture, and the pursuit of happiness for millions of people, it is clear that taxing extreme wealth and income are critical ends in themselves.
Still missing from our calculation is the unimaginably huge consideration of what we are not now doing but easily could do. It would cost us $30 billion per year to end hunger around the world. We just spent nearly $90 billion for another year of the "winding down" war on Afghanistan. Which would you rather have: three years of children not dying of hunger all over the earth, or year #13 of killing people in the mountains of central Asia? Which do you think would make the United States better liked around the world?
It would cost us $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. We're spending $20 billion per year on just one of the well-known useless weapons systems that the military doesn't really want but which serves to make someone rich who controls Congress members and the White House with legalized campaign bribery and the threat of job elimination in key districts. Of course, such weapons begin to look justified once their manufacturers begin selling them to other countries too. Raise your hand if you think giving the world clean water would make us better liked abroad and safer at home.
For similar affordable amounts, the United States, with or without its wealthy allies, could provide the earth with education, programs of environmental sustainability, encouragement to empower women with rights and responsibilities, the elimination of major diseases, etc. For those who recognize the environmental crisis as another critical demand as urgent in its own right as the war-making crisis, the plutocracy crisis, or the unmet human needs crisis, a global rescue plan that invests in green energy and sustainable practices appears even more powerfully to be the moral demand of our time.
War-ending, earth-saving projects could be made profitable, just as prisons and coal mines and predatory lending are made profitable now by public policy. War-profiteering could be banned or rendered impractical. We have the resources, knowledge, and ability. We don't have the political will. The chicken-and-egg problem traps us. We can't take steps to advance democracy in the absence of democracy. A female face on an elite ruling class won't solve this. We can't compel our nation's government to treat other nations with respect when it has no respect even for us. A program of foreign aid imposed by imperial-minded arrogance won't work. Spreading subservience under the banner of "democracy" won't save us. Imposing peace through armed "peace-keepers" prepared to kill won't work. Disarming only so-much, while continuing to suppose that a "good war" might be needed, won't get us far. We need a better view of the world and a way to impose it on officials who can be made to actually represent us.
Such a project is possible, and understanding how easy it would be for powerful officials to enact a global rescue plan is part of how we can motivate ourselves to demand it. The money is available several times over. The globe we have to rescue will include our own country as well. We don't have to suffer more than we are suffering now in order to greatly benefit others. We can invest in health and education and green infrastructure in our own towns as well as others' for less than we now dump into bombs and billionaires.
Such a project would do well to consider programs of public service that involve us directly in the work to be done, and in the decisions to be made. Priority could be given to worker-owned and worker-run businesses. Such projects could avoid an unnecessary nationalistic focus. Public service, whether mandatory or voluntary, could include options to work for foreign and internationally run programs as well as those based in the United States. The service, after all, is to the world, not just one corner of it. Such service could include peace work, human shield work, and citizen diplomacy. Student exchange and public-servant exchange programs could add travel, adventure, and cross-cultural understanding. Nationalism, a phenomenon younger than and just as eliminable as war, would not be missed.
You may say I'm a dreamer. We number in the hundreds of millions.
World Can't Wait Left Forum Panel - 6/16/2013
Eleven years since the building of the US prison at Guantánamo, and nine years after disclosures of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, US policy has settled into de facto indefinite detention of thousands. Included in the Democratic Party talking points of 2008 was a call to close Guantánamo; in 2012 they did not discuss it. Meanwhile, the largest body of prisoners held without the right to habeas corpus is in the US prison at Bagram, Afghanistan. The majority of prisoners at Guantánamo began a hunger strike in Feburary 2013 as a desperate call for public attention, as conditions for them have worsened under Obama.
EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION
The White House, Washington, D.C.
June 17, 2013
Lynne Stewart's health is in rapid decline.
We must take collective action creating a highly public presence in Washington, D.C. A Compassionate Release was recommended months ago by Warden Jody R. Upton, under whose watch Lynne has been incarcerated at Carswell Federal Prison. Compassionate Release papers remain sitting on the desk of Director, Charles E. Samuels, Jr. of the Federal Bureau of Prisons waiting to be signed. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is under the political leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.
Lynne's life hangs in the balance.
What will we do?
On Monday, June 24, 2013 at the White House, we will gather to continue "a long vigil for a long struggle" calling for Lynne Stewart's release.
It is urgent that we stand along side Ralph Poynter, Lynne Stewart's husband, demanding that Lynne Stewart be granted Compassionate Release before it is too late.
Reclaim Solidarity... Imagine Justice.
THE RIGHT TO RETURN HOME:
RELEASE LYNNE STEWART
Gathering Daily from
June 24, 2013 Onward
The White House
Travel assistance is available.
Please RSVP and spread the word on Facebook.
For more information write to:
RELEASE LYNNE STEWART
U.S. Federal Prison Carswell, Texas
April 26, 2013
Times Square, NYC
May 8, 2013
Foley Square, NYC
May 15, 2013
Federal Bureau of Prisons, Washington, D.C.
June 5, 2013
Foley Square, NYC
May 15, 2013
In Lynne's own words, "until my feet are planted like the Tree that grows in Brooklyn and I am around my friends, family and comrades... we must continue. Fight On!!"
WE WILL NOT BE SILENT is an artist/activist collective that has been in existence since 2006. Through the creative use of language embodied on shirts and at times emboldened on signs held up in public spaces, we respond to current social justice issues, encouraging creative, direct public-actions where many people can participate.
FACEBOOK / TWITTER
Through an act of tremendous courage and self-sacrifice, Edward Snowden has revealed the most massive government spying in history into the communications and activities of billions of people on the planet.
Peace and justice activist, Cindy Sheehan and Tour de Peace will be joining the husband of unjustly imprisoned attorney, Lynne Stewart, in vigil in front of the White House at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 21st.
Lynne Stewart has stage 4 cancer and is petitioning for compassionate release from Carswell Medical Facility in Ft. Worth, Texas. The warden there has agreed, and the friends and family of Lynne Stewart are only awaiting the U.S. Department of Justice to agree also.
This summer three national gatherings of activists will converge on Madison, Wisconsin, allowing for cross-fertilization and creative planning of future actions for peace and justice in the United States. YOU are invited.
Talk Nation Radio speaks with Roshan Bliss of the Student Power Convergence, Ben Manski of Democracy Convention, and Doug Rawlings of Veterans For Peace.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
If you're like me you've read several books that list inspiring examples of worker owned businesses and co-ops, suggesting that expanding on such models might begin to right the wrongs of an incredibly unequal society that is growing even more unequal by the day.
The best such collection I've found is in a new book by Gar Alperovitz called What Then Must We Do? This book also offers a powerful argument that radical change is needed, albeit an argument with some possible flaws. First the inspiring examples:
Workers own and run factories in Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington DC, Amarillo, and many other cities. Labor unions that once opposed worker ownership, including the Steelworkers and several others, now create worker-owned companies. Forty percent of Americans are members of cooperatives, including credit unions. People moved hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, from large banks to credit unions and small banks in 2011 and 2012. (That should continue!) Then there are community development corporations and land trusts, alive and thriving. There are even corporations redesigned, and labeled B Corps, chartered under new laws in 12 states to allow them to legally pursue the social good as well as profits.
Employee stock ownership plans make U.S. workers owners of their businesses in great numbers -- three million more than are members of unions in the private sector. Federal tax incentives (don't tell Congress!) encourage business owners to sell to their employees. Worker-owned firms are becoming more common. They are also more profitable than other similar companies.
It occurs to me that we need a Union-Label type operation to label and catalog the products of worker-owned companies so that we can put our support there.
Local governments are investing in local businesses and land development. A quarter of U.S. electricity comes from publicly owned co-ops. These power companies are more efficient and tend to be greener. The model is being followed by public broadband service. Proposals that meet the textbook definition of socialism are alive and growing in red and blue states alike, and at the local and state levels.
This matters because the national government in the United States is so thoroughly corrupted. I'm not sure Alperovitz ever directly answers the question of how a national plutocracy will be prevented from halting local and state progress on the ownership question, as it has halted local and state progress on other matters. If the trend toward democratizing ownership is happening under the radar, how can it possibly be kept there while succeeding on the necessary scale? If this approach to economic justice is somehow more inherently "American" than other more foreign ideas, how exactly does that protect it? Weren't family farms and free elections and the Fourth Amendment deemed very American at one point too? Alperovitz recommends a state-by-state approach to single-payer healthcare, but the refusal of California legislators to enact it has come at the bidding of those in Washington. None of which is to suggest that Alperovitz is wrong to promote this strategy -- just that it may be very difficult, and some other strategies may help too.
Alperovitz frames his discussion within an understanding of serious systemic failure. Persistent long-term trends toward income and wealth inequality, monopolized corporate power, mass incarceration, and environmental devastation churn ahead in the face of elections, activism, lobbying, and reform legislation, not to mention flip-flopping between Republican and Democratic so-called "leadership." Alperovitz paints these as even longer term trends than we often suppose by dismissing the gains of the middle of the 20th century as an aberration produced by the Great Depression and World War II, and as gains that could not have come without a large labor movement -- something he now deems virtually impossible.
Most activist groups, Alperovitz points out, react to cuts in public services by demanding no cuts. This is purely defensive. Alperovitz acknowledges that some also advocate for progressive taxation, but deems this "obviously inadequate" although the obviousness of its inadequacy is not apparent to me, except in the sense that (just like the worker-ownership model) it hasn't succeeded yet on a major scale. Yes, the plutocrats buy the elections. The system is rigged against tax reform. But the goal of advancing the taxation (and elimination) of billionaires as power is gradually obtained seems critical.
Alperovitz seems at times to buy into the notion that there just isn't enough money around, even if the billionaires were to be taxed at 90 percent. But this is wrong, of course. The nation is rolling in money, and the money is piled up in the hands of several hundred people.
It's somewhere else as well, somewhere Alperovitz doesn't propose to look for it. President Obama's proposed budget for 2014 devotes 57% of discretionary spending to an illegal, immoral, counterproductive, and economically destructive operation known as war and preparation for war. While Alperovitz suggests that World War III could save the U.S. economy (were a new world war possible, which he says it isn't), economists say military spending as it exists does less for the economy than other public spending and even less than tax cuts for working people; that is to say, it is worse than nothing.
Alperovitz seems unaware that roughly half of military spending is outside the Pentagon, in Homeland Security, in the CIA, in the State Department, in the Energy Department, etc. So he uses the Pentagon budget alone to argue that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP. This does not of course make it low in terms of actual dollars or as a percentage of global military spending or as a percentage of public spending in the United States. Alperovitz believes there's little money for spending on human needs, but seems not to notice where 57% of discretionary spending is going.
While Alperovitz raises the topic of healthcare because it takes up, he says, 20 percent of GDP, the war machine that swallows 8 or 9 percent of GDP from U.S. government purchases alone (U.S. companies also dominating international weapons sales) gets no consideration. Leo Tolstoy, from whom the book's title is borrowed, would have noticed the existence of the military industrial complex. He would have considered the possibility of economic conversion. Connecticut created a commission this month to pursue conversion from war to peace manufacturing. I suspect Alperovitz would like that model if he took a look at it.
So, here's where I come down. We should be pursuing everything Alperovitz recommends, and then some. We should create worker ownership, tax the rich, cut the military, invest in our society, and act strategically at the local, state, and national levels. We should take very seriously long-term structural failures and stop imagining that another election will fix anything by itself. And we should, as Alperovitz wisely recommends, be preparing the ground for the best possible activism when a moment of greater possibilities arrives, or when we have succeeded in creating it.
A Cure for War – With Limitations.
by Erin Niemela
Earlier this week I wrote an editorial proposing a 28th constitutional amendment to abolish war. The NSA scandal, I argue, is tied to the more pervasive problem of violent foreign (and domestic) policy, and we’ll continue to see government abuses so long as war and inter-state military violence are the acceptable choices for conflict management. David Swanson, author of the brilliant history, “When the World Outlawed War,” thoughtfully responded to my plea by urging us to recall and reignite the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an existing international pact renouncing war signed and ratified by the US president and Senate.
I agree with Mr. Swanson that any efforts to end war should point to existing law, and we agree that abolishing war is possible and necessary. However, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is not without its limitations, and a fresh, people-driven constitutional amendment could both address those limitations and offer current, culturally relevant and legally dispositive reinforcement.
We will not be Complicit…We DO NOT Consent! No Government Spying on Whole Populations.
Hands Off Snowden & Manning. Close Guantanamo NOW.
An Evening of Conscience: Hands Off Snowden & Manning! Close Guantanamo NOW!
The Great Hall at Cooper Union, Manhattan June 19,2013 - 7pm