January 1 is the 20th anniversary of the enactment of NAFTA and the beginning of the Zapatista movement in Mexico. One year later on January 1 1995, the WTO took effect. In this article, David Solnit looks at the many campaigns and movements that have developed as a result of corporate globalization and the organizing in response to it by a wide variety of movements and networks of people. We can see the roots of the ongoing struggle in the United States as well as the global revolt against neoliberalism, corporatization and big finance capitalism. Corporate globalization attempts to put forward but is faltering while the movements from below seem to be rising. Knowing that makes a commentary by one writer ever more valid: "[The] global corporate system isn't a triumphant monster, but a brittle, ungainly, jerry-rigged contraption whose managers are vainly scrambling to hold it together against a rising tide of crises. See the issues that engage your activism in that light, not as though you're desperate, but as though the system is."
The truth is that we are all woefully ill-equipped to deal with the multiple crises that are bearing down on us. (A friend of mine is so alarmed that during an evening of political small talk he periodically declared that we were facing “A tsunami!!” and then just went silent -- no more able to cope with the reality than the rest of us). The terrible irony our situation is that just as we all need to be what I call intentional citizens we are, unconsciously and even unwillingly, becoming less and less engaged, more and more individualistic. Just what are we to do, as individuals, when faced with crises so overwhelming that our minds reel at the thought of the varied, frightening consequences: "Oops, better not go there -- way too scary.
In the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, and the rise of the Tea Party as a right-wing adjunct to the Republican Party, the assault on workers intensified still further. A report by the Economic Policy Institute that reviewed state-level legislative changes in labor policy and labor standards since 2010 found that "the changes undermine the wages, working conditions, legal protections, or bargaining power of either organized or unorganized employees.... The consequence of this legislative agenda is to undermine the ability of workers to earn middle-class wages and to enhance the power of employers in the labor market. These changes did not just happen but were the results of an intentional and persistent political campaign by business groups."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addressed a major gathering of computer experts Monday at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany, calling on them to join forces in resisting government intrusions on Internet freedom and privacy. We play highlights from Assange’s speech, as well as the one given by Sarah Harrison, the WikiLeaks member who accompanied Edward Snowden to Russia. We also hear from independent journalist and security expert Jacob Appelbaum, who reveals a spying tool used by the National Security Agency known as a "portable continuous wave generator." The remote-controlled device works in tandem with tiny electronic implants to bounce invisible waves of energy off keyboards and monitors to see what is being typed. It works even if the target computer is not connected to the Internet.
Most of us are willing to believe the direct opposite of what we can see with our own eyes because we accept the analysis of the solar system developed by astronomers through many centuries of careful observation. The overwhelming majority of people will never go through the measurements and reproduce the calculations. Rather, our belief that the earth revolves around the sun depends on our confidence in the competence and integrity of astronomers. If they all tell us that the earth in fact orbits the sun, we are prepared to accept this view. Unfortunately the economics profession cannot claim to have a similar stature.
Everyone expected Boeing would turn up the heat by threatening economic catastrophe for the Puget Sound area and thousands of lost jobs but these unionists were blindsided from a most unexpected source. The IAM international, overruling local leadership, abruptly announced a Jan. 3 vote of another extension agreement eerily similar to the one that had just been rejected. District 751’s website reported “International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger ordered the vote over objections of 751’s elected officials… and announced the Jan. 3rd vote to the Seattle Times on Saturday, Dec. 21.” Obviously disappointed with the national leadership, a longtime IAM member told me “this rushed vote is not right,” and pointed out “35% of our members are on vacation during this period,” unable to get the information and participate in a democratic discussion. Plus, he said with some exasperation, “not one phone call, no contact whatsoever from our international. We had to read about the scheduled Jan. 3 vote in the Seattle Times.”
One lesson is to keep up the street heat. After being elected in 2008, Obama ditched progressive rhetoric for austerity policies: protecting banks, dithering on the home foreclosure crisis, calling for Social Security and Medicaid cuts and deficit reduction. It was only thanks to Occupy Wall Street that the national debate was flipped from austerity to economic inequality. Occupy has faded but its impact is still felt in low-wage worker organizing, minimum-wage initiatives, climate-justice organizing, and the elections of Kshama Sawant to the Seattle City Council and Bill de Blasio, who will be inaugurated on January 1, 2014, as the 109th mayor of New York City.
The Corporate and Security State Recognizes Movements Are a Threat to the Power Structure Stratfor is a private intelligence agency that works for business interests and government. It tracks and analyzes a lot of issues – the economy, military conflict, politics, energy and security. Recently it has also been monitoring, analyzing and reporting on social movements. Their interests in movements show their concern that revolts have been growing and are having an impact around the world. The involvement of Stratfor in undermining social movements became more evident thanks to important leaks by Jerry Hammond that were published by Wikileaks as The Global Intelligence Files. From these leaks we learned how corporations and the government were attacking Julian Assange and Wikileaks, as well as their infiltration, monitoring and surveillance of protesters on behalf of corporations and the government, especially those involved in the Occupy movement. The Wikileaks documents also showed us how corporations and government attack movements in a divide and conquer strategy that isolates those seeking transformational change (who they define as “radicals”).
In February, Filipino President Benigno Aquino III — whose father was assassinated by the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1983 — signed a law that will take more than $220 million from Marcos-controlled Swiss bank accounts to compensate people who were tortured, raped and jailed under the U.S.-backed dictatorship. Although the sum represents only a tiny fraction of the billions believed to have been stolen and then hidden by Marcos in international banks, Waging Nonviolence columnist Ken Butigan described the law as “a significant step toward healing and restorative justice,” as well as “a reminder that nonviolent action doesn’t end when the last demonstrator goes home. ”
Passers-by Monday on Middle Street looked toward the ground, where a handful of protesters lay motionless, covered in sheets that looked bloodied. They covered their faces with placards that bore the names of Yemeni wedding party members who were killed by a U.S. drone strike in December. One protester held aloft a model drone, symbolizing what members of Code Pink, the group that organized the demonstration, say is the constant threat of bombing that civilians in the Middle East face every day. Another activist used her mobile phone to play the buzzing sound of drones flying overhead. After the bit of street theater ended, Mark Roman, a protester from Solon, said that as he lay there, he felt “tremendously sad, and also pretty angry.”
They were held for 12 years without charges, subject to torturous interrogation methods, and ordered to be released by a U.S. federal judge in 2008. Yet, it was not until the final days of 2013 that the last three of 22 ethnic Uighurs from China were freed from the U.S. military's notorious offshore prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Department of Defense announced Tuesday that the three men — Yusef Abbas,Hajiakbar Abdulghuper and Saidullah Khalik — have been "resettled" to Slovakia, making them "the last ethnic Uighur Chinese nationals to be transferred from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility." "These men have became a symbol of the tragedy of Guantánamo," said Wells Dixon, senior attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, in an interview with Common Dreams.
So why did Rob Stanley, an unskilled high school graduate, live so much better than someone with similar qualifications could even dream of today? Because the workers at Interlake Steel were represented by the United Steelworkers of America, who demanded a decent salary for all jobs. The workers at KFC are represented by nobody but themselves, so they have to accept a wage a few cents above what Congress has decided is criminal. The argument given against paying a living wage in fast-food restaurants is that workers are paid according to their skills, and if the teenager cleaning the grease trap wants more money, he should get an education. Like most conservative arguments, it makes sense logically, but has little connection to economic reality. Workers are not simply paid according to their skills, they’re paid according to what they can negotiate with their employers.
Crystal Zevon of Searching for Occupy had the honor of meeting Carter Camp during her tour of the US earlier this year. She writes: "I feel very fortunate to have been able to meet Carter Camp and hear him speak before he passed away on December 27th. I have a lot of footage, and this is the first of two short films. This one is dedicated to his life and his role in AIM. The next will be Carter speaking about the Tar Sands pipelines and the extraction economy. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to what he had to say to us all." In this video: Although he was very ill, CARTER CAMP addressed the Tar Sands Resistance Camp near Ponca City, Oklahoma on March 18, 3013.
Mountaintop removal mining, Coal export, Natural Gas Fracking, Tar sands and the KeystoneXL pipeline are just a few examples of the fossil fuel threats to our climate and to local communities who are situated close to coalmines or fracking sites. Rising Tide North America is a grassroots network of groups and individuals in North America organizing action against the root causes of climate change. They stand at the frontline with local communities to address those who are most responsible for the climate crisis. One of RT founding principles is the belief that solutions to climate-injustice must be community based and should not rely on capitalist or corporate government efforts. The heart of Rising Tide is made up of over 50 local groups and local contacts throughout North America. These groups support frontline communities with direct action as the antidote to despair and aim to change the conversation and behavior.
When it comes to the world economy, what you "see" is not usually what you get - especially when it comes to gender. Capitalism has fueled a world in which women are rendered invisible and saddled with the majority of labor. They are responsible for two-thirds of all working hours, produce 50 percent to 90 percent of the world's food and 100 percent of the world's children. Yet, for all this, they receive only 10 percent of the world's income and own less than 1 percent of the world's property. As a result, women make up 70 percent of the world's poor. Moreover, gender violence is more of a threat to women's health than the sum of traffic accidents and malaria. Often, when women are "seen," they are seen as simply bodies, to be manipulated in ways that lead to profit. In a very real sense, as people, women are invisible.