By Dan Jones for Kairos Center - Below is an interview with Willie Baptist, our coordinator for Poverty Scholarship and Leadership Development. Willie is a veteran of 50 years of poor people’s struggles for dignity and survival, from the Watts uprising to the National Union of the Homeless to the Welfare Rights Movement. In this time of uncertainty and fear, we ask him about the effects of this election and the possible roads ahead.
By Jean Allen and Frank Castro for Medium. Voting is a limited expression of popular will, choosing which parties or candidates come into political office. In strict terms, it is nothing more or less than the choice of which politician you want to delegate your power to at a specific point in time. Oligarchy and Plutocracy. Voting is not only limited as an act, it is limited in its influence and powers. Though there have been major and recent concerns about the capture of the state by a small portion of the people, this is a feature, not a bug. The very system of representative government is designed to limit popular engagement. This fear of truly popular government can be seen in the desperate fretting our esteemed Founding Fathers had as they designed the Constitution.
Fifteen years ago this month, the French sheep farmer Jose Bové revved up his bulldozer and dismantled a McDonald’s. No matter how you slice it, this is one of the most memorable instances of a worker using the tools of their trade to take direct action. It all came about because he was beyond distraught at the United States for levying taxes on his beloved Roquefort cheese in retaliation for European farmers refusing to import U.S. hormone-fed beef. “McDo’s ,” as Bové called it, was the ultimate symbol of the destruction of French cuisine, embodying the problems with corporate globalization. When called to trial, he came by oxcart, carrying a large wheel of locally-produced Roquefort cheese. These and other actions that featured agrarian tools and products helped to plant Bové as an international symbol of small farmer and community resistance to corporate globalization. In honor of his outstanding use of implements of his trade, here are nine more examples of farmers, janitors, musicians and fire fighters wielding their own ordinary tools in extraordinary protests.
CISA is the newest and latest version of a bill that would give the NSA even more powers CISA is an even more toxic bill than the original CISPA bill. CISA stays in line with the original objective of the CISPA bill to strengthen and legitimize the NSA's surveillance programs. But this time the bill would allow for and encourage sweeping datamining taps on Internet users for the undefined purpose of domestic "cybersecurity". The NSA would be able to share this data with police and other law enforcement agencies for domestic "cybersecurity" purposes - meaning these powers will be used against innocent citizens. Would you like to read more about CISPA's newest form, CISA? Read some of these articles 1.) Open Technology Institute. "Info Sharing with NSA is a Non-Starter – and Only One of the New Cybersecurity Bill’s Many Problems". Read More 2.) ACLU. "Beware the Dangers of Congress’ Latest Cybersecurity Bill". Read More
Conflict has erupted in Israel and Palestine after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers early last week week, whom the Israelis say were kidnapped by Hamas. The Western media, for its part, has focused on the street battles between young Palestinians and the Israeli military, rushing to print photos of young Palestinian men throwing rocks and of masked Hamas militants armed at a press conference. However, these images are far from the whole story. On the ground Palestinian groups are acting to turn this rage into long-lasting nonviolent organizing. Last week, the Israeli military sent tanks and troop reinforcements to the border between Israel and the Gaza strip and began heavy airstrikes that have killed at least seven Palestinians — the most recent development in the crackdown on Palestinian life that followed the disappearance of three settler teenagers approximately two weeks ago. Even before the bodies of the teens were found last Monday evening, Israeli had launched a large-scale incursion into West Bank cities, raiding some 2,200 homes, arresting 419 Palestinians and killing at least six.
California's state Senate voted Monday in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to curb the influence of money in politics. Assembly Joint Resolution 1, first introduced by state Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) in late 2012, would call for a constitutional convention with the purpose of amending the Constitution to "limit corporate personhood for purposes of campaign finance and political speech" and "further declare that money does not constitute speech and may be legislatively limited." The measure is aimed at overturning the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision, which opened the door for the creation of super PACs, a new type of independent political committee that can raise and spend unlimited cash on campaigns. The state assembly voted in favor of the bill in January. The resolution passed the state Senate in a 23-11 vote, making California the second state to call for constitutional convention geared at overturning the landmark court ruling. (Vermont's legislature passed a similar measure earlier this year.)
Direct Action and The Unist'ot'en Camp We need to go beyond petitions, letters, and rallies to stop the government and corporations from destroying Indigenous land and exploiting communities for profit. Direct action initiatives like the Unist'ot'en Camp are an effective way to stop devastating projects like Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline and Chevron-Apache's Pacific Trail fracking pipeline.
Defying repeated threats of a lawsuit from Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), on May 8, Peter Shumlin, Governor of Vermont, signed a historic bill requiring food manufacturers to label genetically engineered (GE) foods, and to drop the practice of labeling GE foods as “natural” or “all natural.” On May 9, true to its word, the GMA confirmed that it will sue Vermont in federal court to overturn H. 112. Vermont is prepared to fight back. The state has already established a “food fight” legal defense fund. Legal analysts say Vermont will likely win. Vermont isn’t the only state up against the multi-billion dollar lobbying group. The GMA, whose 300-plus members include Monsanto and Dow, Coca-Cola and General Mills, is pushing a bill in Congress that would preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws. It’s time for consumers in every state to band together to defeat the GMA’s full-on assault, not only on Vermont, not only on consumers’ right to know what’s in our food, but on states’ rights and on our basic freedoms to protect our health and our communities.
The next four months are going to determine the future of the Internet. Will it remain free and open with equal access to all? There are powerful corporate interests that want to profit even more from the Internet at the expense of the public interest. But as a result of our work this week, we now have an opportunity to create the Internet we want. So, how do we change the political culture? What actions outside of the rulemaking process can we take to make the reality we want to see becomes an inevitable reality? How do we make it impossible for the FCC to ignore the will of the people on this essential First Amendment issue of the 21st Century? We want your ideas. We know that the thinking of many are more powerful than the minds of a few. Not only do we want your suggestions, we encourage you to take autonomous action. We urge you to organize actions on your own, suggest actions and join actions.