Popular Resistance Newsletter – Is The End of Internet Freedom Near?
On the heels of recent studies documenting that the US political system is a plutocracy (ruled by the wealthy), Nick Carnes writes “If millionaires in the United States formed their own political party, that party would make up just 3 percent of the country, but it would have a majority in the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House.”
Time to save the internet
Plutocrats act to protect their own interests which includes taking away tools that the non-wealthy might use to change the current situation. We saw that in McCutcheon which further opened the floodgates for the wealthy to fund political campaigns. And now it is happening in the FCC where Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing to end net neutrality. Before coming to the FCC, Wheeler was a major lobbyist for the Internet and telecom industries.
How would the proposed rules affect us? For starters, Internet in the US is inferior to that in other countries. Under the proposed rules, those with money could upgrade to better services while the rest of us would be left behind. The Internet would become dominated by those with wealth which would make it harder for independent websites to be heard. This would effectively restrict our access to information.
Wheeler is telling the media that he has to change the rules because of a recent court ruling. But the truth is that the problem could be solved if the Internet is reclassified as a telecommunications service so that it can be regulated. The FCC will vote on rules on May 15. We must step up the pressure now to save the Internet! Click here to send an email to Wheeler and see what other actions you can take now. Watch PopularResistance.org for information about upcoming actions or organize your own. The Internet must stay open and free with equal access for all.
May Day around the world
On Thursday, thousands of people around the world took to the streets for worker rights. May Day is another holiday that has been sanitized in the US. It was born in the struggle for the 8 hour work day and symbolizes the fight for other rights. Those rights are being rolled back today.
Jack Rasmus documents the real numbers on jobs, wages, pensions and more for American workers. Get ready to be surprised because these numbers are not discussed in the corporate media. For example, 40% of workers in the US currently earn less than the equivalent of the minimum wage in 1968.
This is a call to action. Eric Loomis reminds us of the historic struggle and sacrifices that workers made in the past. For May Day, Roar Magazine featured the stories of workers around the world who are improving their lives such as the Vio.me workers in Greece who took over their factory and opened it themselves after it was shut down.
The Global Climate Convergence
May Day was the final day of action for the Global Climate Convergence, “ten days to change course.” We joined Dr. Jill Stein to launch our new campaign, Clean Up the Mines! on the banks of the toxic and dead Cheyenne River in South Dakota. We toured abandoned uranium mines in the days beforehand to see firsthand how they are impacting communities. You can read about the trip here. We urge you to join us in stopping these silent killers and hold the corporations and government agencies responsible for cleaning them up accountable.
The actions may be over, but the Convergence continues. We must continue to see the connections between our issues and act together to urgently address climate change. There are solutions, but the government is incapable of action without public pressure. We believe that many who work in federal agencies and who are contractors actually want to do the right thing. This was confirmed this week when we joined the Yes Men in a stunt where they impersonated representatives of the DOE and DOD and announced a new renewable energy initiative in partnership with the BIA (played by Gitz Crazyboy from the Athabasca Chippewyan Nation). We had contractors dancing and singing to celebrate the ‘new initiative’ called AmeriCAN. In fact, even an oil CEO says anonymously that we must go green.
There are many ways to increase pressure for real solutions. Recently, students in Portland launched a divestment campaign and students at Harvard blockaded the President’s office in order to get a meeting to discuss divestment. Some groups are using the legal system. The National Wildlife Federation is suing the government for hiding pipeline plans from a local community. And Our Children’s Trust is suing to require the government to implement a comprehensive plan for climate recovery.
Ending the war culture
The US military is one of the greatest polluters and users of fossil fuels on the planet. We must start telling the truth about the military so we can take steps to dismantle the US Empire and become a responsible member of the global community. An important step is to counter the war culture by protesting war criminals instead of glorifying them. Students at both Rutgers and the University of Minnesota protested Condoleeza Rice when she was invited to speak recently.
We must also know the truth. Veterans for Peace issued a statement on Ukraine that calls for honesty instead of propaganda, which is rampant. The Pentagon has launched an initiative to whitewash the Vietnam War. In response, Veterans for Peace and their allies held a powerful event last weekend in New York City to launch Full Disclosure, their campaign to tell the truth.
A new documentary, “Making a Killing,” tells the truth about the history of the military’s function to primarily protect corporate interests. This history is well known by the people of the Philippines who protested Obama’s recent visit to expand our military and economic domination there as part of the Asia Pivot. This strong statement by BAYAN USA explains the damage that US Empire has done to the Filipinos.
Creating the new world
In addition to resistance, there is a lot going on to create the kind of world we want to live in. More than 90 cities across the US are solving the problem of poor internet access by creating their own networks that are municipally-owned. There is a global movement for municipalization – public ownership – as described in this new documentary about water. And solar cooperatives are on the rise.
More universities are using ranked choice voting and are finding that it saves money and increases participation. Hopefully, as this generation learns the value of a different electoral system, they will demand change. On another positive note, Minneapolis recently joined the growing movement to honor Indigenous peoples instead of Columbus who started the American Holocaust that continues to this day.
A new paradigm
We will close this week with a message from Dr. Nafeez Ahmed of the Institute for Policy Research and Development. In response to a recent report that he wrote about the risks of civilizational collapse, he proposes that the crises we face are creating a new paradigm, which he describes:
“Our economies, rather than being assumed to exist in a vacuum of unlimited material expansion, are seen as embedded in wider society, such that economic activity for its own sake is recognised as the pathology that it is. Instead, economic enterprise becomes aligned with the deeper values that make us human – values like meeting our basic needs, education and discovery, arts and culture, sharing and giving: the values which psychologists say contribute to well-being and happiness, far more than mere money and things. And in turn, our societies are seen not as autonomous entities to which the whole of the planet must be ruthlessly subjugated, but rather as inherently embedded in the natural environment.”
This the future that we can create by taking action now.