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February 2015

Newsletter: When People Mobilize, We Can Win

This week was a busy one for Popular Resistance as three key campaigns had major updates. The success of the ten-month campaign to reclassify the Internet as a common carrier under Title II of the Federal Communications Act to ensure net neutrality has been widely reported. While widely reported, not all the reports described how the movement actually achieved it or what it means. We held a three-day sit-in at Senator Ron Wyden’s office. We are focused on Wyden because he is negotiating with Senator Orrin Hatch on Fast Track legislation. If Wyden joins with Hatch he will provide cover to other Democrats by making this a bi-partisan bill. The campaign to save Cove Point from a Dominion Resources fracked gas export terminal had a major event this week when 24 people went on trial.

Why Does The FBI Have To Manufacture Its Own Plots?

The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS (photo of joint FBI/NYPD press conference, above). As my colleague Murtaza Hussain ably documents, “it appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.” One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. Noting the bizarre and unhinged ranting of one of the suspects, Hussain noted on Twitter that this case “sounds like another victory for the FBI over the mentally ill.” In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade.

Time Banks: Tool For Restorative Justice & Community Strength

Timebanking is mutual credit, where whenever somebody provides a service to a member in a timebank, they get credit, which they can redeem for that same amount of time to get something they need from someone else in the network. It's fluid and flexible. Timebanking doesn't have to involve a direct exchange between two people, and it doesn't have to happen in the same span of time. The impacts are pretty profound. Matching people up based on who needs what and who can provide what is a different approach to an economy. It's an understanding that everybody has needs and everybody has assets. Also, you don't have to wait to have money to pay for a service you need. The norm in this society is that we have a human-service kind of economy through charity.

Five Important Questions About DEA’s Vehicle Surveillance Program

With each week, we seem to learn about a new government location tracking program. This time, it’s the expanded use of license plate readers. According to The Wall Street Journal, relying on interviews with officials and documents obtained by the ACLU through a FOIA request, the Drug Enforcement Administration has been collecting hundreds of millions of records about cars traveling on U.S. roads. The uses for the data sound compelling: combating drug and weapons trafficking and finding suspects in serious crimes. But as usual, the devil is in the details, and plenty of important questions remain about those details. First, who approved the program, and under what circumstances? We don’t know. The DEA is an arm of the Department of Justice, so presumably the Attorney General’s office has been involved, but details aren’t yet available. Also unknown is whether there has been any judicial oversight.

Iraq War Resister Dealt Blow By European Court

The network for conscientious objection Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL criticize today’s decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd (37) as insufficient and in part quite incomprehensible in its argumentation. “The ruling by the ECJ does not strengthen the position of conscientious objectors and deserters in political-asylum proceedings. The Court avoided some fundamental questions, and answered others unacceptably, contrary to the opinion submitted by the Advocate-General.” said Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V. The Court’s statements regarding wars that are mandated by a resolution of the U.N. Security Council are especially dubious. Bernd Mesovic of PRO ASYL said, “It is scandalous that the Court more-or-less decrees for such cases that no war crimes ‘are committed’ in such wars, and that this also applies to operations about which there is some other international consensus. Reality is turned on its head by an assertion of fact here.”

Activists Groups Unite Against Secret Police Facility, #Gitmo2Chicago

The recent revelation about Chicago police detaining American citizens at “black sites,” along the lines of Guantanamo Bay, is sparking fury among a wide range of people, from conservatives who hold dear the constitution, to anarchists, and everyone in between. The Constitution violating Homan Square is located in a warehouse on Chicago’s west side, and shares more similarities with Abu Ghraib than most American’s should be comfortable with. It was also recently reported that large numbers of military police officers, who were formerly stationed at the infamous torture prisons, are now getting jobs as local cops, and could be coming to a town near you. The Worcester Police department in Massachusetts is testing a pilot program, in which former Guantanamo prison guards will be given jobs as police.

Nurses Sound A Code Blue In D.C. On Fast Track & TPP

With the White House and some of the biggest multinational corporations lobbying Congress to “fast track" the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries, National Nurses United today converged on the nation’s capital to explain that what’s good for investors’ balance sheets is not necessarily good for patients. “Nurses are patient advocates—and by extension advocates of our patients’ families and our communities—and we are here to sound a Code Blue on fast track,” said RN Deborah Burger, a member of the NNU’s Council of Presidents. “While there are many good reasons to reject fast track, the nation’s registered nurses are particularly concerned about these trade agreements’ threats to public health and safety.”

Stop Theft Of Apache Land

A place of great natural beauty, popular among rock climbers and campers, a part of Tonto National Forest known as Oak Flat has been under federal protection from mining since 1955, by special order of President Eisenhower. On the nearby San Carlos Apache reservation, many consider Oak Flat to be sacred, ancestral land – the home of one of their gods and the site of traditional Apache ceremonies. But Oak Flat also sits on top of one of the world’s largest deposits of copper ore. Resolution Copper Mining, a subsidiary of British-Australian mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, has sought ownership of the land for a decade, lobbying Congress to enact special legislation on its behalf more than a dozen times since 2005. Year after year the bills failed to pass. But in December, the legislation was was quietly passed into law as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

“Zuccotti Park” Musical Shines Light On Occupy & Economic Justice

It's not easy writing a play about injustice in America today – much as it's not easy telling the complex, multi-layered story of the Occupy movement. But that's what writer Catherine Hurd set out to do with her new musical "Zuccotti Park," which premieres in New York City on Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Venus Adonis New York Theater Festival. For starters, when tackling something as sprawling as Occupy, what issues get addressed first? "One was obviously the mortgage crisis, where people were pushed into these shady purchase agreements by [companies like] Countrywide, when they didn't have the money to buy a house in the first place – some who didn’t even have $1,000 in savings," says Hurd, speaking last week from her home near Davis, Calif.

Congress Ready To Introduce Fast Track: Act Now

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks are stalling while the White House assures its trading partners that this secret trade agreement won't be amended when it comes back to Congress for ratification after the President signs the deal. That's why the Executive is scrambling to get its allies in Congress to pass Fast Track. If they succeed, the U.S. Trade Representative can block remaining opportunities for the examination of the TPP's provisions by lawmakers who could ensure that this secret deal does not contain expansive copyright rules that would lock the U.S. into broken copyright rules that are already in bad need of reform. The Fast Track bill is likely going to be introduced as early as next week—so it's time to speak out now. Congress needs to hear from their constituents that we expect them to hold the White House accountable for the TPP's restrictive digital policies.

Netanyahu Admits Sabotage Of Iran Talks His Primary Mission

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged on Tuesday that the purpose of his upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. is to do "everything I can" to prevent a nuclear deal between global powers and Iran—an admission that critics say reveals he is pushing for military escalation and potentially war. "This agreement, if indeed it is signed, will allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state," Netanyahu declared in a statement released Tuesday, according to media reports. "It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement." "Therefore," he continued, "I will go to Washington... because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement." Analysts say that the prime minister's push to undermine the diplomatic process is ultimately a call for dangerous military escalation.

March 4-6, 2015: Shut Down Creech!

Join us March 4-6, 2015 at Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, Nevada, for a national mobilization of nonviolent resistance to shut down killer drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan,Yemen, Somalia, and everywhere. Sponsored by CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Nevada Desert Experience (NDE), Veterans For Peace (VFP), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) and others. (Learn more about sponsoring/supporting.) CODEPINK will also hold vigils daily on March 2nd and 3rd, prior to the official beginning of this Creech Convergence For Peace, and welcomes everyone to join them. In 2005, Creech Air Force Base secretly became the first U.S. base in the country to carry out illegal, remotely controlled assassinations using the MQ-1 Predator drones, and in 2006, the more advanced Reaper drones were added to its arsenal.

Original Occupier Michael Pellagatti Bringing OWS To Life

We couldn't be happier that our movement brother Michael (Pella) Pellagatti is launching an Occupy-focused walking tour of lower Manhattan. One of the youngest members of the Guides Association of New York City (GANYC), he'll be making stops at all the places that made Occupy Wall Street such a life-changing event for so many of us, and sharing his own experiences as an original occupier and member of the occupy media working group. Occupy: The Tour with Original Occupier Michael Pellagatti starts where the city began at Bowling Green in front of the National Museum of the American Indian. Group size will be limited to 30 participants for a fact-filled 2 1/2-hour tour of OWS’ most important sites.

Grumpy Cat Claws Comcast

Grumpy Cat is giving a big middle claw to Comcast. In celebration of the Federal Communications Commission’s newly approved open-Internet rules, net neutrality supporters on Friday flew a 2,000-square-foot banner featuring the Internet’s favorite feline over Comcast Corporation’s 58-story headquarters in Philadelphia. The massive banner featured a photo of the ubiquitous Internet meme Grumpy Cat along with the phrase, "Comcast: Don’t Mess With the Internet." The phrase was followed by the hashtag #SorryNotSorry. The splashy stunt was sponsored by Fight for the Future, Demand Progress and Free Press, three organizations that have been aggressively campaigning for rules that prohibit broadband providers from throttling content or offering Internet “fast lanes.”

The Senate Blockbuster Trade Showdown The Media Ignored

Eight senators on Thursday let the country know there is going to be a fight over fast-track trade authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took to the Senate floor to speak about fast track, TPP and fair trade. There was apparently not a single report of this in the nation’s news media, continuing the blackout of news on fast track and TPP. A fight is coming because past trade deals have cost jobs and wages, devastated entire regions, and accelerated corporate power and income/wealth inequality – which it is becoming clear was the intent. Whitehouse, for example, said parts of TPP are “a question of pure raw economic power by massive corporate interests being used to make governments knuckle under.” Sanders said, “Enough is enough. This country now is in a major race to the bottom.”
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