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May 2015

Newsletter: Movements And Elections

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Popular Resistance was created to help build a broad-based movement that is informed and acts strategically to challenge the status quo. There are so many crises today and we have been focused on trying to stop those crises from worsening (“stop the machine”) while using the fights and partial victories to build capacity for the movement. We have avoided putting emphasis on elections in part because it is important not to get caught up in the electoral cycle which has been nothing more than a periodic horse race between corporate candidates chosen through a rigged system. Instead, we hoped that more people would step out of the electoral cycle and take a longer-term view of the work that must be done to build a movement with real power.

How Mass Murder At The Attica Prison Is Still Protected

By Heather Ann Thompson in TIME Magazine, It took more than 40 years, but Attica’s survivors and families of the deceased had finally convinced a judge to force the State of New York to release sealed records relating to deaths of some 39 inmates and staff following the 1971 prison uprising. But the documents released May 21 provide little information as to who was responsible for the dead and wounded when state officials decided to forcibly retake the prison, and why no one has been held accountable. This carnage took place at one of America’s most forbidding penal institutions—the Attica State Correctional Facility in upstate New York—where, four days earlier, over 1,200 prisoners had begun a historic protest against abysmal conditions and abuses.

Shadowy Web Site Creates Blacklist Of Pro-Palestinian Activists

By Josh Nathan-Kazis at the Forward, A new website is publicizing the identities of pro-Palestinian student activists to prevent them from getting jobs after they graduate from college. But the website is keeping its own backers’ identity a secret. “It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees,” a female narrator intones in a slick video posted to the website’s YouTube account. Called Canary Mission, the site has posted profiles of dozens of students and recent graduates, alongside those of well-known activists like Omar Barghouti, founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Grassroots Organizing Shapes Response To Killing Of Walter Scott

By Kerry Taylor in Facing South. The city of North Charleston, South Carolina, has received strong praise for its handling of police officer Michael T. Slager's fatal shooting of 50-year-old African American Walter Scott during an April 4 traffic stop. According to various media commentaries, the city's quick response saved North Charleston from the outbreaks of vandalism and clashes with law enforcement that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. At the local level, North Charleston's response was shaped by the emergence of a decentralized network of political activists who have been organizing around progressive causes, including labor rights and economic justice, LGBTQ equality, and racial disparities in policing. This network of activists sprang into action just hours after Scott's killing to offer a counter-narrative to the official version of events. They provided victims of police violence an outlet to express their pain and anger by organizing demonstrations, speak outs, and cultural events across the region. And they have carried out a range of protest activities aimed at securing reform. Their collective efforts at movement building, while diffuse and sometimes contradictory, represent an overlooked aspect of the Walter Scott story that has local political significance and strong national resonances.

Detroit Is Starting To Shut Off People’s Water Again

By Rob Wile at Fusion. The City of Detroit began shutting off water access to residents behind on payments Tuesday, with thousands at risk of losing access. According to the Detroit Free Press, 64,769 delinquent residential customers owe the city’s water department a combined $48.9 million. The city started sending out shut-off warnings May 11. According to theFree Press, Mayor Mike Duggan is proceeding with the shutoff orders over the wishes of city council members, who voted on May 12 to freeze the shutoff until an assistance plan to help affected residents was enacted. Last year, the United Nations warned the city that the shutoffs were violations of residents’ human rights, and called on the city to stop them and reconnect their houses. “None of those things happened,” Kauchek said. Detroit residents are not the only ones facing water shut-offs: In March, Baltimore residents began receiving turn-off notices; according to theBaltimore Sun, 25,000 water customers are delinquent.

Freedom For Nestora Salgado

By Free Nestora, The U.S. Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado is sending a delegation, including Salgado's daughter Grisel Rodriguez, to Mexico City on May 31 in an urgent effort to win Salgado’s release. She has spent nearly two years in prison, despite a Mexican federal judge's order to release her. The delegation will speak at a press conference on Monday, June 1, 12:00pm (Central Time) at the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Center Prodh) in Mexico City. The families of other Mexican political prisoners will also be present. The delegation plans to visit the U.S. embassy to request a copy of Mexico’s notification to the U.S. that Salgado had been arrested. Requests for this information by the family have so far been unsuccessful.

Taxpayers Pay Hundreds Of Millions For Police Violence & Abuse

By Nick Wing in Huffington Post. In November 2014, a county judgeapproved a $3 million out-of-court settlement resulting from a wrongful death lawsuit, to be paid by the city of Cleveland to the victims' families and their lawyers. That money, like the rest of the police department's budget, comes from taxpayers. Some say this system of liability allows officers to do a difficult job without constant fear of being sued, while also ensuring that victims can seek damages. In many cases, however, it's hard not to feel that we are subsidizing negligent police behavior and misconduct, at a time when city budgets are tight and calls for improved accountability in law enforcement are louder than ever. As the Washington Post's Radley Balko noted in a 2014 blog post, these lawsuits are "supposed to inspire better oversight, better government and better policing." When the Baltimore Sun reports that the $5.7 million in taxpayer funds paid out to settle police misconduct cases between 2011 and 2014 could "cover the price of a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds," for example, citizens are supposed to respond by demanding political change that will help address the root causes of these lawsuits and ensure their money goes to building playgrounds instead. It hasn't always played out like this at the voting booth, but maybe it's time we begin applying political pressure on the issue of policing.

Even If Patriot Act Expires, Government Will Keep Spying

By Washingtons Blog. Mass surveillance under the Patriot Act is so awful that even its author says that the NSA has gone far beyond what the Act intended (and that the intelligence chiefs who said Americans aren’t being spied on should be prosecuted for perjury). Specifically, the government is using a “secret interpretation” of the Patriot Act which allows the government to commit mass surveillance on every American. So it’s a good thing that the Patriot Act may expire, but don’t get too excited … Wikileaks’ Julian Assange said today:

College Has Gotten 12 Times More Expensive in One Generation

By Katie Rose Quandt in Mother Jones. In the 2012-13 school year, first-year, on-campus tuition averaged $43,000 at four-year, private schools and $21,700 at in-state public schools. It wasn't always like this: The cost of undergraduate education is 12 times higher than it was 35 years ago, far outpacing inflation. While the indexed price of college tuition and fees skyrocketed by more than 1,122 percent since 1978, the cost of medical care rose less than 600 percent, and the cost of housing and food went up less than 300. Back in 1993, 47 percent of college students graduated with debt, owing an average of $9,450 per grad. As tuition rates have shot up, so has student debt: 71 percent of the class of 2012 graduated with outstanding loans, owing an average of $29,400. That's more than 65 percent of the entire first-year salary of an average recent grad. That debt has lasting consequences. Households headed by a young adult (under 40) with a college education and student debt have a median net worth of just $8,700. Student debt constrains young people's ability to start a business, buy a home, or pursue a public-interest career.

Why Is The Military Sacred?

By Sam Smith in ProRevNews. On no single issue, is the media’s pretension of objectivity more regularly violated. Its true purpose in this matter is to perpetuate the myth of the sacred role of the warrior. In fact, as Joseph Conrad noted, the hero and the coward are those who, for one brief moment, do something out of the ordinary. At least the ones we honor, that is. The career firefighter, the inner city grandmother raising six grandchildren whose father is in jail and mother has a lousy job, or the teacher year after year helping to save those who society has preemptively discarded are not treated as sacred, as heroes, or as worthy of special honor during political campaigns and or on the evening news. But killing some Iraqis, or being killed by them: that’s the real thing.

After Year Long Hunger Strike Mohamed Soltan Released In Egypt

By Al Jazeera Staff. Jailed activist Mohamed Soltan, who has been on hunger strike for over a year in protest against his detention in Egypt, has been freed and sent back to his home country, the United States. Soltan, a 27-year-old US-Egyptian dual citizen and human rights activist, was arrested in September 2013 when police was searching for his father, a senior member of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. Last month, Soltan was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly supporting the group, a verdict his family challenges, saying that there was no evidence against him. A website calling for his release also said he was not a member of the Brotherhood, describing him as a US-educated peace activist who was involved in youth events and charities.

Pave Paradise, Put Up A Naval Base

By Medea Benjamin in CommonDreams. South Korea’s Jeju Island is a popular tourist destination full of spas, resorts, golf courses, sandy beaches, waterfalls and hiking trails. But if you really want to get rejuvenated, skip the tourist hotspots and go directly to the village of Gangjeong to support the extraordinary community that has been opposing the building of a naval base since 2007. You’ll get your morning exercise at 7am bowing 100 times facing the base, praying for an end to its construction. You’ll get spiritual nourishment from the noon mass outside the base (no religion necessary). And if you really want to feel like royalty, join the activists in their daily ritual of sitting in plastic chairs blocking the base entrance, then having the police gently lift you up in your chair and cart you away so the cement trucks and traffic can flow in and out of the base.

Hundreds March To Protest Dominion’s LNG Export Plan

By Kelly Canavan in LUSBY, MD — Approximately 200 people participated today in what is believed to be the largest march Southern Maryland has ever seen, spanning six miles from Solomons Island to Lusby. They walked to show Dominion and government officials how much they value the health and safety of people in Southern Calvert County, who would be most impacted by Dominion’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal and refinery should the project be completed. Marchers included residents who live on Cove Point Road in Lusby — near the main facility site and near the offshore pier, which would see dramatically increased tanker traffic — as well as people who would be affected by other fracked-gas projects in Pennsylvania, Virginia and other states where infrastructure is proposed to be built to feed the proposed export terminal at Cove Point.

Fourteen Points On World Economy As US GDP Drops .7 Percent

Let me put this another way: The developed world is in depression. It has been in depression since 2007. It never left depression. Within that depression, there is still a business cycle: There are expansions, and recessions, and so on. Better times and worse times. While cheap solar is a big deal, it is not yet deployed sufficiently to break the “widespread demand will crash the economy through oil price increases” problem, and this is exacerbated the by the deadlock rich elites have on most of the world’s politics and economic policies, since it is not in their interest to solve problems, but only to become more rich. Not that solving problems is something they mind, if it makes them richer and keeps everyone else poor.

Is Blue Cross Blue Shield An Illegal Cartel?

Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurers cover about a third of Americans, through a national network that dates back decades. Now, antitrust lawsuits advancing in a federal court in Alabama allege that the 37 independently owned companies are functioning as an illegal cartel. A federal judicial panel has consolidated the claims against the insurers into two lawsuits that represent plaintiffs from around the country. One is on behalf of health-care providers and the other is for individual and small-employer customers. The antitrust suits allege that the insurers are conspiring to divvy up markets and avoid competing against one another, driving up customers’ prices and pushing down the amounts paid to doctors and other health-care providers.
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