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Lawyers Guild Expects More Documents: Evidence Homeland Security Coordinated Occupy Crackdown

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

If you want to know where the real government of the United States is located, just check out one of the documents received by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in response to their Freedom of Information Act request to the Dept. of Homeland Security relating to surveillance of the Occupy Movement. That document, from the Secret Service, dated September 17, 2011, the day the Occupy movement began on Wall Street, from the US Secret Service Intelligence Division, titled Prism Demonstrations Abstract, list the location as “Wall Street Bull” -- a reference to the bronze statue of a bull on Wall Street in front of the

 New York Stock Exchange, and the “protectee” as “The United States Government.”

Worker ‘Occupations’ in 3 States Yield Successes, but Counterattack Begins

 

In the last few months, workers in three different states—at the Serious Materials factory in Chicago, at a Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, West Va., and at AT&T’s regional headquarters in Atlanta—have engaged in "occupations" that quickly produced small results for those workers. These actions—one an actual factory occupation, the other two highly visible encampments outside company facilities—have underscored the enormous potential of direct action to give workers leverage in negotiating with employers.Supporters gather outside the Serious Materials factory, formerly operated by the Republic Windows and Doors company, on Thursday February 24. (In These Times / Photo: Micah Uetricht via Twitter.)

But just as Congress quickly outlawed the type of auto industry sit-down strikes that were so effective during the 1930s, anti-union groups are now advocating measures to counteract the success of these recent protests. The backlash has begun: Last week, a Georgia State Senate Committee passed SB 469, which would ban picketing outside of the home of CEOs and give a company the right to ask a judge to force protesters—whether union or nonunion—to stop picketing outside of any business.

If these members do not stop picketing after a judge's order, the courts could fine individuals $1,000 a day. Any organization or union that sponsored the protests would be fined $10,000 a day. The bill could severely limit the ability of unions and other groups to bring aggressive anti-union employer actions to the public's attention.

Three actions, with varying successes

Last month, workers in Chicago made headlines for occupying their plant for a second time to protest its abrupt closing (the first time was in December 2008, when it was operated by the Republic Windows and Doors company). Workers there won a short-term victory when the owner of the plant agreed to keep the plant open for 90 days and help the workers search for another buyer of the plant.

At around the same time, a group of retired United Steelworker union members had been camping out on a median strip in front of the shuttered Aluminum Century plant (the union calls it an "occupation"). Veterans of the famous early 1990s Ravenswood lockout—now in their 60s, 70s and even 80s—protested the company’s move to cut off retiree healthcare benefits. (To learn more about the famous 1990s Ravenswood lockout, I highly recommend Kate Bronfenbrenner and Tom Juravich’s book Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor).

In February 2009, Aluminum Century had shut down the plant, laying off 651 workers. Then in January 2011, Aluminum Century told its retirees that it would end all retiree healthcare—even for those not old enough to qualify for Medicare.

After learning that Aluminum Century was seeking $20 million from the state of West Virginia to re-open the smelter in Ravenswood, retirees—inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement—decided to occupy the space in front of the plant to make it known that they wouldn’t let it be re-opened until their healthcare benefits were reinstated. They camped out from mid-December to last Friday.

The public action attracted attention to the actions of Aluminum Century. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced that if the company wanted to re-open the plant it had to first restore healthcare benefits. Last Thursday, the company announced a deal with the union in which they would restore retiree benefits to all workers.

"It is notable that the retiree committee, with support from politicians in their state and local community, were able to come together with the company to find a solution for an increasingly difficult issue across America," said United Steelworkers International Vice President Tom Conway. "It's a settlement that will work for our retirees by giving them some stability and decent levels of health care coverage."

600 miles to the south, in Atlanta, AT&T workers continue to protest on the sidewalk in front of the company's headquarters. The "occupation" by Communication Workers of America (CWA) union members and Occupy activists began on February 13, after AT&T announced it would lay off 740 workers in the Southeast and likely shift the union work out to nonunion contractors.

In the three weeks since then, the encampment has grown from 13 tents on the first day to 23 tents, and attracted wide community support.  The action is now starting to see some results, both good and bad.

“The company has announced that they are working to reduce the number of layoffs,” says CWA Local 3204 President Walter Andrews. “We won’t know the extent of the effectiveness until the 31st of the March."

CWA Local 3204 President Walter Andrews believes the Georgia bill was introduced in response to the AT&T occupation.

“If we did what we are doing, CWA would be fined $10,000 a day and each member would be fined $1,000 a day. It’s taking away our first amendment rights. We know that we could fight this in the courts, but we both know that could take years and what will happen in the meanwhile," says Andrews.

SB 469 also contains a provision aimed at hurting private-sector unions in the "right-to-work" state of Georgia. The bill would require union members to recertify every year that they wanted union dues deducted from their paychecks. “That would kill us,” says Andrews.

Women paint for peace at Glasgow recruiting office

From NukeResister.org

Three women painted the windows of the Army recruiting office in Glasgow, Scotland on March 1 in protest at the dishonest propaganda used to persuade young people to join up.

At 8 a.m., Barbara Dowling and Leonna O’Neill painted in large colourful letters “DON’T JOIN UP. DON’T BELIEVE THE LYING ADVERTS”, “GUNS, BOMBS, TANKS? NO THANKS” and “NO TO WAR” on the windows of the Queen Street office. Mary Millington handed out leaflets telling the story of a young man who joined the army to make his Mum feel proud and ended up being badly injured in Afghanistan.

When the police arrived, Barbara and Leonna locked-on to each other and stood in the way to prevent the windows from being cleaned. All three then sat down and after over an hour and a half were cut free and arrested. At Stewart Street police office they were charged with obstructing the police and vandalism.

Barbara Dowling said, “Becoming a soldier is promoted as a great career but the glossy posters don’t mention the injuries, both physical and mental, suffered by so many, never mind the deaths. The suffering caused to civilians in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ is nowhere to be seen either.”

All three women were released on bail and are due to appear in Glasgow Sheriff Court on 23rd March.

Barbara Dowling and Mary Millington are members of Trident Ploughshares and Leonna O’Neill lives at Faslane Peace Camp.

Contact  tp2000@gn.apc.org

Why I've Refused to Endorse the Protests of Either the RNC or the DNC

Don't get me wrong.  I want the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Tampa and Charlotte protested, denounced, shamed, nonviolently occupied, and ideally prevented from occurring, at least until they credibly support peace, justice, and democracy -- or pigs fly, whichever comes first.  I've said so and encouraged such organizing for months.  I hope to be a part of it.

But when asked to endorse http://protestdnc.org and http://resistrnc.org I have said no twice, and for the very same reason.  The former lists this as among its principles:

Hancock 38 Drone Resisters Press Conference

Wednesday February 29 at 4 PM

Sentencing of Final Five at 5 pm

Nationally known peace activists Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence), retired Colonel Ann Wright, Martha Hennessy (NYC Catholic Workers), Elliott Adams (past President of Veterans for Peace) and Jules Orkin (peace walker extraordinaire) will be sentenced on February 29 at 5 pm in DeWitt Town Court (5400 Butternut Dr., East Syracuse) by Judge David Gideon. They are the last of the Hancock 38 Drone Resisters to be sentenced.

In addition, previously sentenced defendants will return to court. At least eleven people have chosen to send their fines to the Voices for Creative NonViolence for the benefit of PeaceJam Afghanistan instead of to the court and will present receipts to the judge.  Ann Tiffany says “To me it is a question of Justice.”    Many will show they do community service on a daily basis despite the judge’s sentence.

There will be a press conference at 4 pm, outside of the Court House.   Speakers will include Kathy Kelly, Ann Wright, Elliott Adams and Ed Kinane who has redirected his fine. 

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars will continue to resist the use of drones. As we argued in court, drone warfare violates the Nuremberg Principles and other international, as well as moral, laws. We resist those who would normalize the use of robotic assassins as mode of warfare and reject the policy of dehumanization of peoples in other lands.

youtube: Hancock 38 closing statements
www.poststandard.ha

Largest Demonstration and Civil Resistance against U.S. Missile Test in almost 30 years

by Jim Haber, Coordinator, Nevada Desert Experience, via Nuclear Abolitionist

The United States Air Force test-launched a first-strike, nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) early in the morning on February 25 despite the largest anti-test demonstrations in almost 30 years. The launch took place in the dark fog of night at 2:46 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) on the central California coast to the other end of the Ronald Reagan Missile Range in the Marshall Islands over 4000 miles away.

Nukes, Violence, and the Kingdom

 

By Steve Baggarly

[This was written by Steve in the Irwin County Detention  Center in Ocilla, Georgia, while serving an eight month  sentence for trespassing during a July 2010 protest at the  Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  It is reprinted from the August 2011 issue of the Catholic Agitator, newsletter of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker.]

Last night as I prepared to turn in, at the foot of my upper bunk, a young Aryan Nation member began to pummel my neighbor’s face. All I could do was lean over the edge of my bunk, shout, “Hey, hey, hey!” and stick my hand between them momentarily as David punched Everett on past my bunk towards the next. Somehow the guards burst in and, yelling, stopped the beating almost as quickly as it began. It seems Everett had just been outed as a pimp of under-aged girls and David, who was abused as a child, fashioned himself an avenging angel.

The blood splattered on the floor around my bunk reminded me how easily dismissed is Jesus’ nonviolent way in favor of the seeming efficacy of violence. A deeply held faith in violence as necessity pervades not only jail culture, but the nation as well. Indeed, the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is an icon of our national commitment to use brute force — heat, blast and radiation — against human flesh. Part of the World War II Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge enriched the uranium used in the first atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 1945.

UVA Still Not Paying Living Wage -- UVA Students Still Not Eating

From MichaelMoore.com

'Why I'm Hunger Striking at UVA'

"... in our 'caring community,' hundreds of contract employees may make as little
as $7.25/hour ... I have experienced many periods of economic hardship in my
life. Growing up, I moved over 30 times – including various stays in homeless
shelters, the homes of family friends, and church basements. I know firsthand
what the economic struggle is like for many of these underpaid workers."
– Joseph Williams, third-year student at the University of Virginia
and player for Virginia Cavaliers football

Get the Facts
UVA would need to spend $4.2-5.8 million to pay all direct employees at least
$13/hour – or less than 0.25% of the university's $2.487 billion annual budget

'Same Thing, Different Century'
"I still view the University as a plantation ... the field workers aren’t going
to speak out." – Grace, former UVA employee

If Only the Woman Who Wrote This Were President of UVA
"Being paid a living wage for one's work is a necessary condition for
self-actualization." – Teresa A. Sullivan, The Social Organization of Work

UPDATES: @UVALivingWage | LivingWageAtUVA.org | Facebook

DO SOMETHING in Charlottesville, VA Friday:
Join the Living Wage Rally at 12:00 Noon
University of Virginia Rotunda, street side, University Avenue (MAP)

DO SOMETHING Anywhere:
Politely Tell the People Who Run UVA to Act Like Decent Human Beings
Their email addresses are publicly available right here

Sign the Living Wage Campaign Petition

SAYING NO TO MILITARISM

By Robert C. Koehler

No mail on Saturday, maybe, but small-town police get armored personnel carriers?

Let’s take a moment — in the context of these bitter times, and President Obama’s recent austerity budget proposal — to celebrate the questions the residents of Keene, N.H., are asking their city council about the kind of world we’re creating.

First of all, the grotesque insult of “austerity” in the shadow of limitless military spending is destroying our national sanity. And the proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, mental health services, environmental cleanup, National Parks programs and even, yeah, Saturday mail delivery are miniscule compared to the unmet social needs we haven’t yet begun to address in this country, in education, renewable energy and so much more. But we’re spending with reckless abandon to arm ourselves and our allies and provoke our enemies, and sometimes arm them as well, creating the sort of world no one (almost no one) wants: a world of endless war.

The official 2012 Defense budget of $530 billion, and just a shade under that for 2013, leaves out an enormous amount of defense-related government spending. According to a recent piece in The Atlantic, when you add in, oh, the cost of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our spending on nuclear weapons development (relegated to the Department of Energy budget), Homeland Security, veterans’ medical care (inadequate as it is, but rising), military aid to allies ($3 billion to Israel, for instance), and interest on the military’s portion of the debt (projected to be $63.7 billion in 2013), our defense spending almost doubles, to $986.1 billion in 2012 and $994.3 billion in 2013.

In the last 13 years, according to Business Insider, U.S. military spending has increased 113 percent. We spend more on the military than the next 15 biggest military spenders combined — and more than all 50 states spend, in total, on health, education, welfare and safety. In 2007, some $11 billion was simply written off as “lost” in Iraq, the Business Insider story notes.

And the military is, in effect, our 51st state, albeit one surrounded by barbed wire. “The total known land area occupied by U.S. bases and facilities is 15,654 square miles — bigger than D.C., Massachusetts, and New Jersey combined,” according to the article.

And beyond anything that appears on a ledger sheet, the unregulated military has carte blanche to spend the earth’s resources and contaminate the planet. “The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world,” Lucinda Marshall wrote at Common Dreams several years ago, “producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined.”

This waste includes pesticides and defoliants (e.g., Agent Orange), solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury and, horrifically, depleted uranium and nuclear fallout. The military’s legacy — in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, where we have fought recent wars; on the tiny island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico, where the U.S. Navy tested weapons for more than 60 years; and in the Nevada desert and the Marshall Islands, where we tested our nuclear weapons above ground — is cancer, birth defects and a devastated environment.

All to what end? “National defense” is perhaps the most cynical — and effective — lie in human history, commanding the quaking allegiance of the populace over and over again, justifying virtually any activity, devouring the planet’s resources, and ever failing to deliver the promised peace, indeed, delivering only the conditions for the next war. Few things in today’s world are more unsettling than the fact that “national defense” still owns the country’s politics, its budget — and the minds of far too many of its citizens.

Welcome, then, to Keene, N.H., a town of 23,000 people that, despite its low crime rate and general friendliness, was set at the end of last year to score a “tank” — actually, an eight-ton Bearcat armored personnel vehicle — for its police department, thanks to a nearly $300,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

When the news began circulating, the townspeople, instead of going along with the deal, actually stood up to the mayor and city council, not simply questioning the need for this military vehicle (even though it was “free”), but expressing concern that the militarization of the police department could harm their community.

An anti-tank petition garnered 500 signatures, and earlier this month more than 100 people, mostly opposing the tank, showed up at a city council meeting to speak their minds, according to the Keene Sentinel.

“This vehicle is continuing to fund the culture of war in this country, and Congress will continue to fuel the culture of war unless we do something,” said Terry Clark, the lone city councilor to oppose the deal, as quoted in the Sentinel. “Do we want a militarized police force in Keene? We can take the lead and ask the council to rescind its decision, and have the courage to do what Congress does not.”

In contrast, the Bearcat was defended by the government sales manager for Lenco, the vehicle’s manufacturer, as quoted in Huffington Post: “I don’t think there’s any place in the country where you can say, ‘That isn’t a likely terrorist target.’ . . . If a group of terrorists decide to shoot up a shopping mall in a town like Keene, wouldn’t you rather be prepared?”

The residents of Keene have so far said no to the fear peddlers. May their stand give all of us the courage to do the same.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press) is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

FOURTEEN ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT NSA ARE TO BE ARRAIGNED

WHO: The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is a part of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], and Pledge members have been active with Occupation Baltimore and the occupation of Freedom Square in Washington, D.C. As part of the Freedom Square occupation, NCNR decided to attempt to obtain a meeting with Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, to discuss perceived illegal and unconstitutional activities by his operatives.

NCNR sent a letter, signed by thirty people from around the country, to Lt. Gen. Alexander requesting a meeting. Approximately 25 people, most of them from the occupation of Freedom Square, went to the NSA with a copy of the letter on October 9, 2011.

Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan 'ends hunger strike'

From BBC:

A Palestinian prisoner has ended his 66-day hunger strike over his detention by Israel in a deal that will see him released in two months, officials say.

The Israeli justice ministry announced that Khader Adnan would remain in custody until 17 April, when his "administrative detention" would end.

Mr Adnan has not eaten since December, when he was arrested in the West Bank.

He is widely believed to be a leader of Islamic Jihad, which Israel has designated a terrorist organisation.

The Israeli military has said that Mr Adnan - a 33-year-old baker - was arrested "for activities that threaten regional security".

Earlier this month, an Israeli military court ordered that Mr Adnan be placed for four months in administrative detention. Under Israeli law, such prisoners can be held indefinitely without trial or charge.

Occupy Cures Violence

From Rebecca Solnit:

Occupy Oakland began in early October as a vibrant, multiracial gathering. A camp was built at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, and thousands received much-needed meals and healthcare for free from well-organized volunteers. Sometimes called the Oakland Commune, it was consciously descended from some of the finer aspects of an earlier movement born in Oakland, the Black Panthers, whose free breakfast programs should perhaps be as well-remembered and more admired than their macho posturing.

A compelling and generous-spirited General Assembly took place nightly and then biweekly in which the most important things on Earth were discussed by wildly different participants.  Once, for instance, I was in a breakout discussion group that included Native American, white, Latino, and able-bodied and disabled Occupiers, and in which I was likely the eldest participant; another time, a bunch of peacenik grandmothers dominated my group.

This country is segregated in so many terrible ways -- and then it wasn’t for those glorious weeks when civil society awoke and fell in love with itself. Everyone showed up; everyone talked to everyone else; and in little tastes, in fleeting moments, the old divides no longer divided us and we felt like we could imagine ourselves as one society. This was the dream of the promised land -- this land, that is, without its bitter divides. Honey never tasted sweeter, and power never felt better.

Now here’s something astonishing. While the camp was in existence, crime went down 19% in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. "It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland," the police chief wrote to the mayor in an email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation.

The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city. “You gotta give them hope, “ said an elected official across the bay once upon a time -- a city supervisor named Harvey Milk. Occupy was hope we gave ourselves, the dream come true. The city did its best to take the hope away violently at 5 a.m. on October 25th. The sleepers were assaulted; their belongings confiscated and trashed. Then, Occupy Oakland rose again. Many thousands of nonviolent marchers shut down the Port of Oakland in a stunning display of popular power on November 2nd.

That night, some kids did the smashy-smashy stuff that everyone gets really excited about.  (They even spray-painted “smashy” on a Rite Aid drugstore in giant letters.) When we talk about people who spray-paint and break windows and start bonfires in the street and shove people and scream and run around, making a demonstration into something way too much like the punk rock shows of my youth, let’s keep one thing in mind: they didn’t send anyone to the hospital, drive any seniors from their homes, spread despair and debt among the young, snatch food and medicine from the desperate, or destroy the global economy.

That said, they are still a problem.  They are the bait the police take and the media go to town with.  They create a situation a whole lot of us don’t like and that drives away many who might otherwise participate or sympathize. They are, that is, incredibly bad for a movement, and represent a form of segregation by intimidation.

Hungry for Freedom, Starving for Justice: a story of hunger striker Adnan Khader

By Mira Dabit

Sometimes when I ponder about being a Palestinian, my mind travels towards the direction of responsibility, a heavy load of existence, survival, humanity and freedom. A life where everything seems to be somehow a beautiful disaster.

When people ask me how I view myself, I answer that I'm a Palestinian woman – which in my mind equals a survivor, a human.

Why Students Are Hunger Striking in Virginia

Twelve students at the University of Virginia on Saturday began a hunger strike for a living wage policy for university employees.  They've taken this step after having exhausted just about every other possible approach over a period of 14 years.  I was part of the campaign way back when it started.  I can support the assertion made by hunger-striking student A.J. Chandra on Saturday, who said,

"We have not spent 14 years building up the case for a living wage.  Rather, the campaign has made the case over and over again."

UVA Living Wage Hunger Strike 1

This is the latest in a long series of reports making the case.

Another striking student, David Flood, explained,

"We have researched long enough. We have campaigned long enough. We have protested long enough. The time for a living wage is now."

UVA was the first campus with a living wage campaign back in the late 1990s, but many campuses that started later finished sooner.  UVA has seen partial successes.  In 2000, the university raised wages to what was at the time a living wage.  But those gains have been wiped out by inflation.  Local businesses have voluntarily met the campaign's demands, and the City of Charllottesville has both implemented a living wage policy and called on UVA to do so.

When we started, no one dared to say the word "union," but by 2002 a union had formed.  It lasted until 2008, and now a new organizing drive is underway. 

Workers, however, still fear being fired for joining a union or for joining the living wage campaign.  (Does anyone recall the Employee Free Choice Act from way back yonder in 2008? It would really come in handy.) With workers fearing retribution, students and faculty are the campaign's public face, and even some students (especially those with scholarships) and faculty are afraid to take on that role.

In 2006, UVA students tried a sit-in as a tactic to pressure the University's Board of Visitors.  The students were arrested after four days, and wage policies unaltered.  But now they are looking to the model of Georgetown University's successful hunger strike in 2005.

Since 2006, the campaign has been building support among workers, faculty, and the Charlottesville community whose economy is dominated by UVA and almost a quarter of whose population is below the federal poverty line.  Here's a debate on the topic from 2011. A petition has been signed by 328 faculty members.

UVA Living Wage Hunger Strike 2

A rally was held on the steps of the Rotunda on Saturday to launch the hunger strike.  Chandra told the gathered crowd that this 14-year campaign by an ever-changing cast of students who typically stay only 4 years has tried teach-ins, concerts, film showings, petitions, letter-writing, marches, seminars, reports, and community outreach of all sorts.  Speaking privately, he told me that the university measures its success by its publications and many other quantities. "The well being of the lowest paid workers," he said, "has to be part of deciding whether this is a successful institution."

Without pressure for action, Chandra said, "the same passive acceptance of injustice that allowed blacks to be excluded from UVA until 1950 and women until 1970" will win out. 

Hunter Link is another hunger-striking student, the only one of the 12 not currently enrolled.  He graduated in December.  He pointed out that UVA sends students abroad to do service projects with money it could have used to pay its own workers a living wage.  Of course, it also builds giant sports arenas, raises its top salaries, and adds more buildings to its main campus all the time. 

For most of the past 14 years, UVA had a president who gave no indication that I ever saw of caring in the least what happened to the people who scrubbed his toilets.  Now, UVA has a new president, its first female president.  Her name is Theresa Sullivan, and she has published books, including quite recently, advocating for a living wage.  When it comes to actually paying one at UVA, where doing so would cost a fraction of a percent of the billions of dollars UVA is hoarding, Sullivan sings a different tune.

UVA Living Wage Hunger Strike 4

Hunter Link read to the crowd on Saturday a letter from an unnamed worker who complained that President Sullivan talks about "a caring community" but -- asks the worker -- "what good are values if you don't live them?"

It's popular in U.S. politics these days to prefer words to actions, but the UVA living wage campaign is taking the opposite approach, pointing out the deceptions in Sullivan's claims.  "Contrary to President Sullivan's inexplicable claims," said hunger-striker David Flood, "real wages have declined in the past six years."  Objecting to non-monetary compensation as an alternative to wages, Flood remarked to loud applause: "You cannot pay the rent with a course at UVA.  You cannot buy medicine with a coupon good only at the UVA company store."  Before UVA workers can take classes, Flood said, they must be able to buy housing, food, and medicine.  They must be able to live in the community that they make possible.  I would add that they must be able to quit their second or third jobs if they are to have time for taking classes.

The living wage campaign is demanding a minumum wage for direct, contracted, and subcontracted employees of no less that $13, and that wages be adjusted each year to comply with the Economic Policy Institute's regionally sourced cost-of-living and inflation calculations.  This must be implemented without reducing other benefits, including healthcare, without under-staffing, without reducing hours worked, and without demanding increased productivity.  We started out demanding $8, and if the University had met that demand and indexed it to the cost of living, this campaign would have ended.  Professor Susan Fraiman, who has been part of the campaign from the start, remarked on Saturday that she very much hoped she was speaking at the last living wage rally that would be needed.  That will depend on the impact of the hunger strike.

UVA Living Wage Hunger Strike 3

The strikers have set up a permanent vigil between the Rotunda and the UVA Chapel.  The strikers are informed, articulate, dedicated, and deadly serious.  They've had physicals and will consume only liquids.  One of them, Hallie Clark, pointed out that the Black Student Alliance rallied for higher wages at UVA in 1969.  This has been a long struggle indeed. And the majority of the lowest paid workers at this slave-built campus are still black.  The honor code still forbids cheating on tests or treating students as if they would cheat on tests.  But it does not at the moment require presidents who have publicly articulated the moral demand for a living wage to actually pay one.

President Sullivan must work with UVA's Board of Visitors.  The board members are almost all from out of town.  Most students and workers have no contact with them.  They are not a part of the Charlottesville community.  Some of them are graduates of UVA's Darden Business School, which of course teaches the benefits of low pay for workers other than oneself and erases from consideration the question of whether a worker must hold a second job, or must use only emergency rooms for healthcare, or must leave his or her children unsupervised.  When I was a graduate student in philosophy at UVA, I took a course at Darden that was jointly listed as business and philosophy.  The course sought to apply ethics to the view of business regularly promoted at Darden, which felt a bit like applying a stick of lipstick to a large and fast-moving pig.

Here's a list of the members of the Board of Visitors along with their phone numbers. You can also click their names to email them. Or click HERE to email them all at once.  Hunter Link told me the campaign had been in touch with Mark Kington of the Finance Committee and found him less than supportive.  Here's what the various members do for their day jobs.  Other than the student member and the ex-officio member, if you can find a connection between any of the other members and education please let me know.  They seem to be almost all bankers, lawyers, CEOs, and . . . well, the sort of gang that ought to be the Board of Visitors for Darden Business School, not UVA; except they wouldn't have to visit as Darden has its own supply of these types.

President Sullivan is going to have to take the lead here.  It is her students refusing to eat, across the street from her house.  Her office phone is 434-924-3337.  During the next week, she and the board members need to hear from every single one of us who cares.  The Board of Visitors will be meeting next week.  There will be rallies every day this week, leading up to that meeting.  To get involved, go to livingwageatuva.org

UVA Living Wage Hunger Strike 5

President Obama meets PROTEST in San Francisco

When:            Thursday, Feb. 16, 5:00 PM

Where:          Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco

                        1111 California Street


[NOTE:  This Obama campaign event at the Masonic begins at 6 PM.  Protesters will be present to greet the "war party" as they arrive from their private $35,800 per person dinner party at the home of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife Nicola Miner.]

A San Francisco campaign fundraising visit by Barack Obama will encounter a protest demonstration tonight at the Masonic Auditorium on Nob Hill.   Protest organizers include World Can’t Wait, Code Pink, supporters of accused whistleblower Pvt. Bradley Manning, and activists from the Occupy movement.

See World Can't Wait protest at April 2011 Obama fundraiser at the Masonic: http://youtu.be/5x-741hA1wI 

 “We can’t and won’t accept illegitimate wars, illegal torture, and other criminal programs as if Obama and the Democrats are a supposed antidote to Republican lunatics in the White House,” said Stephanie Tang of the World Can’t Wait.  “Obama’s false promises to protect civil liberties, the environment, and women’s basic human rights are no excuse for his actions -- which go entirely the opposite way.  This government is committing crimes against the people and the planet, so it’s our obligation to stand up and speak out.”

Federal Judge Strips Vermont of Power to Terminate Nuke: State Government Diddles but Vermonters Take Matters into Own Hands

 

By Dan DeWalt

 

Entergy Nuclear of Louisiana, which operates the Vermont Yankee (VY) nuclear reactor in Vernon Vermont has launched an attack on the state of Vermont with the help of the federal courts.

 

Vermont state law gives the state the power to decide whether to allow further operation of the reactor past March 21, 2012 (the expiration date for VY). When Entergy bought VY, they agreed to this law and swore that they would not try to abrogate it. This was an outright lie on Entergy's part, and they sued the state as soon as it was decided that further operation of this crumbling, leaking and led-by-liars reactor would NOT be in the interests of the state and they were not given permission to continue operation past March 21.

 

Defense of "Anarchism" in Oakland Occupy or Anywhere Unconvincing

This reply to Hedges and defense of violence completely fails to persuade.

The primary argument seems to be that if you are not in Oakland and familiar with every detail you shalt not offer your advice.  But knowing whether the person who smashed a window was wearing a mask or not hardly eliminates the possibility of usefully commenting on whether it helped or hurt to smash that window.  The defense article describes violent clashes with police and concludes "No one can agree on who attacked first." So, even being there results in important ignorance.  But in a movement publicly and convincingly committed to nonviolence we would all know who attacked first.  It would have to have been the police.  In fact, there would be no "attacked first" but simply "attacked."  In a movement hollowed out by acceptance of "diversity of tactics" (as euphemism for violence) nobody could ever be sure, even if we had witnesses and videos.  Quoting MLK in arguing against what he so persuasively denounced every day for years is a new low.

How Swedes and Norwegians broke the power of the ‘1 percent’


A march in Ådalen, Sweden, in 1931.

While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

Neither country is a utopia, as readers of the crime novels by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbro will know. Critical left-wing authors such as these try to push Sweden and Norway to continue on the path toward more fully just societies. However, as an American activist who first encountered Norway as a student in 1959 and learned some of its language and culture, the achievements I found amazed me. I remember, for example, bicycling for hours through a small industrial city, looking in vain for substandard housing. Sometimes resisting the evidence of my eyes, I made up stories that “accounted for” the differences I saw: “small country,” “homogeneous,” “a value consensus.” I finally gave up imposing my frameworks on these countries and learned the real reason: their own histories.

Stephen Zunes Thinks It's Not Too Late for Nonviolence to Dominate the Process and Win Peace and Justice in Syria

Unarmed Resistance Still Syria’s Best Hope
By Stephen Zunes, Nation of Change

The Syrian pro-democracy struggle has been both an enormous tragedy and a powerful inspiration. Indeed, as someone who has studied mass nonviolent civil insurrections in dozens of countries in recent decades, I know of no people who have demonstrated such courage and tenacity in the face of such savage repression as have the people of Syria these past 10 months.

The resulting decline in the legitimacy of Bashar al-Assad's government gives hope that the opposition will eventually win. The question is how many more lives will be lost until then.

'People Power' Pries Abu-Jamal from Punitive Administrative Custody

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

He’s out!

Credit ‘people power’ for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in ‘The Hole.’

For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.

Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.

Park Police to Try to Remove All Tents From Both DC Occupations at Noon on Monday January 30th -- BE THERE!

Be nonviolent.  Be determined.  Be relentless.

Rise like Lions after slumber: In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew: Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many — they are few

Peace activists occupy nuclear sub base entrance to honor MLK

On January 14, 2012 activists from a local peace group blocked entry to the main gate at the Navy’s West coast Trident nuclear submarine base for nearly a half hour in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons.

GroundZero Center for Nonviolent Action held a peaceful vigil and nonviolent direct action at the main gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington.  Thegroup protested the U.S. government’s continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system.  Its continued reliance on nuclear weapons as an instrument of foreign policy is in contravention of both U.S. and international laws.

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