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April 2014

Cutting off H2O to the NSA

1. 4th Amendment Protection Act. Our signature model legislation, the 4th Amendment Protection Act, would ban a state from taking actions which provide "material support" or assistance to warrantless federal spying programs. This includes provisioning of resources, and banning the state from using data obtained without warrant in state court.
States should pass this legislation whether they have a physical NSA facility or not, banning the warrantless data in court will have an immediate effect. And, since the NSA rarely publicizes its plans in advance, it's essential to ensure that their ability to expand with more data center facilities around the country is restricted before they get off the ground. (learn more here)

 2. Electronic Data Privacy Act. For those states where legislators are not yet willing or able to get the full 4th Amendment Protection Act passed, the Electronic Data Privacy Act is a powerful first step. By banning the use of warrantless data in court, this state legislation can thwart some of the practical effects of federal spying programs. (learn more here)

Reset The Net

Fight for our Future has launched a "Reset The Net Campaign" for June 5th, 2014. The problem, as outlined at Reset the Net, is: "The NSA is exploiting weak links in Internet security to spy on the entire world, twisting the Internet we love into something it was never meant to be: a panopticon." It defines a solution as "We can't stop targeted hacking, but we *can* stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday Internet." 

Finally, the plan is to "First, get hundreds of sites & apps to add proven security (like SSL). Then on June 5, we'll run a splash screen *everywhere* to spread NSA-resistant privacy tools." Shahid Buttar and Kevin Zeese examine the plan is this clip from Acronym TV (full episode here).

Taos, NM Holds Global Climate Convergence Day Parade

Convergence Day in Parr Field, Taos, NM. Global Climate Convergence Taos hosted a Convergence Day at our local elementary school field. Pat McCabe, Woman Stands Shining, gave a ceremony/presentation on Sustainability, the Science of Right Relations. Food Not Bombs and the Love-In-Action Network fed everyone a picnic despite the wind. The Community Parade was a great success! Penasco school kids, parents, and teacher Nicole Kowalski, brought a huge recycled plastic dragon they had built and carried it in the parade. A protest marching band showed up like an unexpected miracle and had us all literally dancing down the street. The 30mph winds flew the large banners flat as billboards!

EPA’s Cross-State Pollution Rule Upheld By Supreme Court

In a major anti-pollution ruling, the Supreme Court on Tuesday backed federally imposed limits on smokestack emissions that cross state lines and burden downwind areas with bad air from power plants they can't control. The 6-2 ruling was an important victory for the Obama administration in controlling emissions from power plants in 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states that contribute to soot and smog along the East Coast. It also capped a decades-long effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that states are good neighbors and don't contribute to pollution problems elsewhere. The rule upheld Tuesday was EPA's third attempt to solve the problem. The rule, challenged by industry and upwind states, had been cast by foes as an attempt by the Obama administration to step on states' rights and to shut down aging coal-fired power plants. Opponents said the decision could embolden the agency to take the same tack later this year when it proposes rules to limit carbon pollution. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the agency will be flexible and work with states on the first-ever controls on power plants for the gases blamed for global warming.

Economics, Values and Our Collective Fate

Underneath and driving all of the major problems in our world is the fact that people are more financially incentivized to perpetuate them than to solve them. As long as killing a whale confers a million dollars of advantage to a fishing company, while leaving it alive confers none, we will continue to hunt whales towards extinction. As long as a millennia old redwood tree is worth no specific amount to us alive, but worth $100k as timber, we will continue destroying the tiny percentage of old growth forests we have left. Based on a very old, primitive and barbaric dominator worldview, our economic system doesn’t ask if they are ours to take, and doesn’t factor whose balance sheet the costs show up on. How different is this in its fundamental rationale, than taking Africans as slaves for the economic value their “free” labor conferred? That was not that long ago. If you look at the conditions of the labor force in the third world responsible for manufacturing almost all our goods, you will realize that this still hasn’t changed as much as we’d like to think. Our goods economy was built upon and requires the continuance of cheap labor resulting from extreme economic disparity. Get that: our current economic system could not function with anything near economic equality for all.

Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance To Dismantle The Corporate State

We are at one of the most pivotal moments in our country’s political history: Americans are more disillusioned with their political leaders than ever before and large majorities of citizens tell pollsters that big corporations have too much political power. The ever-tightening influence of big business on the mainstream media, elections and our local, state, and federal governments, have caused many Americans to believe they have no political voice. Yet, Ralph Nader—named by Time and Life magazines as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century—has an impassioned and game-changing message for American citizens: You are not powerless. In UNSTOPPABLE, Nader persuasively demonstrates that there is an emerging Left-Right alliance which has the power to dismantle the corporate-government tyranny. Large segments from the progressive, conservative, and libertarian political camps already find themselves aligned in opposition to the destruction of civil liberties, the bloated and economically draining corporate welfare state, the relentless perpetuation of America’s wars, sovereignty-shredding free trade agreements, and the unpunished crimes of Wall Street against Main Street.

Students At Portland State Kick Off Divestment Campaign

In celebration of Earth Day and to mark the beginning of the Global Climate Convergence, students and alumni at Portland State kicked off their campaign to end PSU’s ties to the fossil fuel industry and Wall St. With their endowment, foundation, and board of trustees deeply connected to the destruction of our communities at home and abroad, PSU can no longer brand itself as a “green” or “sustainable” university. PSU’s branding is handled by Gard Communications, who market PSU as a green university while also doing PR for coal exporting proposals along the Columbia. Even one of PSU’s buildings, the Peter Stott center, is named after a profiteer from the tar sands infrastructure-shipping company Omega-Morgan. We as students, alumni, and community members are waging a campaign on all fronts to ensure that the university claiming “Let knowledge serve the city” can no longer greenwash its image and is truly dedicated to putting People, Planet, and Peace over Profit.

Low-Wage Workers Shame Greedy Restaurant Chains in Massive Protest

Hundreds of low-income workers from around the country demanding better wages, benefits and an end to corporate greed blocked traffic in Washington on Monday morning to start of a day of protests, marches and lobbying Congress for economic justice. The protesters marched along main thoroughfare Pennsylvania Avenue as they headed towards the Capitol, blocking traffic for several minutes at a time at busy locations along the Mall. The activists were in Washington, D.C., for the Rising Voices for A New Economy conference, organized by National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Their coalition included groups like Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), which is using the day to launch a new shaming campaign against the corporate restaurant industry and its national lobbying group, The National Restaurant Association. NRA members are also in Washington for their annual convention and congressional lobbying day. “It’s a shame that people get paid $2.13 an hour—that’s 213 pennies more than a slave was making an hour, and I come from a slave state,” said Darrin Browder,

Honoring Grassroots Environmental Heroes

The Goldman Prize continues today with its original mission to annually honor grassroots environmental heroes from the six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives an award of $150,000, the largest award in the world for grassroots environmentalists. The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world. The Prize Recipients The work of Goldman Prize recipients often focuses on protecting endangered ecosystems and species, combating destructive development projects, promoting sustainability, influencing environmental policies and striving for environmental justice. Prize recipients are often women and men from isolated villages or inner cities who chose to take great personal risks to safeguard the environment.

Groups Protest National Organic Meeting In San Antonio

Today, representatives of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and March Against Monsanto San Antonio (MAMSA) staged a protest at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The groups disrupted the meeting in order to protest the USDA National Organic Program's (NOP) changes to the process for removing non-organic ingredients and materials from the NOP’s National List of substances allowed and prohibited in products certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The change, made without due process or input from the public, erodes organic standards and will result in the list of synthetic and non-organic ingredients and materials allowed in organic to grow increasingly, and irreversibly longer, the groups said.

Hedges v. Obama: Supreme Court Leaves NDAA Intact

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to consider Hedges v. Obama, a constitutional claim challenging a law that could enable the indefinite military detention of US citizens—within the US—without trial, charge, or evidence of crime. The decision is remarkable, both for its implications for fundamental rights, and its reflection on judicial independence. A dangerous and controversial law When the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 was first signed into law on the last day of 2011, few observers noticed. Some version of the bill is passed every year, but the 2012 version inserted dangerous provisions that could expand the military’s domestic detention powers. Several notable observers did take notice, however. Despite her complicity in mass NSA surveillance, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has spoken out against torture, as well as detention. When Congress debated the 2013 NDAA in 2012, she unsuccessfully tried to limit the detention provisions through amendments.

Greenpeace Readies To Confront First Arctic Oil Shipment

The first Arctic oil is making its way towards Europe, and environmental campaign group Greenpeace International announced that it is preparing to confront that shipment as part of its ongoing fight to save the Arctic. Russian's state-owned Gazprom sent off on April 18 70,000 tons of oil from the Prirazlomnaya oil field in the Pechora Sea to Rotterdam. The Prirazlomnaya rig is the the same one challenged last year by members of Greenpeace's "Arctic 30," who were detained and charged with hooliganism following their peaceful protest to protect the region from fossil fuel exploitation. Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior III, captained by an Arctic 30 member, set sail Monday from Rotterdam to intercept the Arctic oil shipment, though it is unclear what kind of confrontation is planned. "We do not disclose in advance what we are going to do, but I can assure you we will send a clear message to the world that this oil is very dangerous," campaigner Willem Wiskerke, who was aboard the Rainbow Warrior, told Agence France-Presse.

Occupy The SEC Advocates in D.C. For Financial Reform

On March 29th, 2014, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington D.C. received an aggressively written, pointed letter detailing weaknesses in the current regulations governing the largest banks’ commodities business. Ten days earlier, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had received a similar one arguing to strengthen the government’s ability to break up too-big-to-fail banks, a topic made even more relevant by the American megabank Citigroup’s failure to pass the Federal Reserve’s financial stability “stress test” on March 26th. Though both letters were written in dense technical detail, grounded in deep knowledge of their subjects, neither was written by a private organization or lobby group. Instead they were penned by an informal group of unpaid volunteers of various ages and professional backgrounds called “Occupy the SEC” — a diverse assortment of amateur and professional financial reform advocates who meet once a week online or occasionally in person on scrounged plastic chairs in the lobby of 60 Wall Street.

Reporters Without Borders Profiles “100 Information Heroes”

For the first time ever, Reporters Without Borders is publishing a list of profiles of “100 information heroes” for World Press Freedom Day (3 May). Through their courageous work or activism, these “100 heroes” help to promote the freedom enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom to “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” They put their ideals in the service of the common good. They serve as examples. “World Press Freedom Day, which Reporters Without Borders helped to create, should be an occasion for paying tribute to the courage of the journalists and bloggers who constantly sacrifice their safety and sometimes their lives to their vocation,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire.

An Interview With Staughton Lynd About The Labor Movement

For more than 50 years, Staughton Lynd has been a leading radical in the United States. He was an engaged supporter of the Black Liberation Movement in the Deep South in the early 1960’s, most notably as coordinator of the Freedom Schools during Mississippi Summer in 1964. He was an active opponent of US aggression in Indochina, including as chairperson of the first national demonstration against the war in Vietnam in April 1965.[1] In recent decades, Lynd has been an attorney representing prisoners, particularly at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, and has written a book, a play and numerous articles about the 1993 uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.[2] Since the late 1960’s, Lynd has also been deeply involved in the labor movement as an activist, attorney and prolific writer.[3] Inspired by Marty Glaberman, Stan Weir and Ed Mann,[4] Lynd has been a passionate and prolific proponent of decentralized, rank-and-file driven unionism.
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