Posts tagged ‘99%’

February 20, 2015

Has Democracy Gone Missing? Or was it ever here?

by mkleit

Lesley Docksey © 18/02/15

London Progressive Journal

With a general election looming in the United Kingdom and Spain, possibly following Greece’s revolt against austerity later this year, we need to think, not just who or what we are voting for, but why we should vote at all.

People are suffering from a deficiency which is as unbalancing as a hormone or vitamin deficiency. What we are severely lacking in is democracy. Many of those pondering on the state of politics feel unhappy and somehow depleted. They haven’t yet realised it is democracy that’s lacking because they have believed what so many politicians have told them, over and over again:

“We live in a democracy. Now exercise your democratic right and vote for us.”

But what is the point of voting if, no matter who you vote for, what you get is the same old, same old? Who do the British vote for in May, if none of the candidates can seriously offer what we want?

Members of Parliament – or some of them – are becoming worried about voter ‘apathy’. The implication is that it is our fault we are not interested in their politics. There was a debate in Westminster Hall on 5 February – on ‘voter engagement’.

These figures were quoted: 7.5 million people were not registered to vote last year. This year 8.5 million are not registered (with a projected 17 million by July, because of changes in registration rules), mostly not because they couldn’t care less but because, in the words of MP Graham Allen:

“They are not connected with our democracy at all… those people have turned away from politics not because of any recent issues, but because they do not feel that it can do anything for them or that it is relevant to them… If the current trend continues, I am afraid that our democracy itself could be threatened.”

But what is ‘our democracy’ that we have turned away from? 38 Degrees surveyed its members on what they thought was wrong with the UK political system. Over 80,000 responded and in March 2014 David Babbs presented the results to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. Asked what would make them turn out and vote, the most popular response was having a “None of the above” box on the ballot paper. In other words they wanted to vote, they wanted their votes counted, but they also wanted to deliver a vote of no confidence in the current system.

There is a murmur that this would be discussed in Parliament – but not until 2016. Of course Westminster will argue that we can’t have such a vote because it might produce a result that was in support of no party at all; and we must have a government, even if it is one we don’t want; and let’s forget that Belgium survived for some time without a government.

The concept of ‘democracy’ has been used to curtail both our freedom and our independence of thought.

But is that concept, so blithely used by our leaders, truly what is meant by democracy? Or is it just a word where many party-politicians are concerned, not a principle by which to live. The ‘democratic right to vote’ is worthless if it doesn’t produce democracy, nor does having a vote necessarily mean you live in a democratic society.

Where did this all start? The beginnings of democracy came out of Athens, an independent city-state. Athens – the home of Socrates, Plato and other philosophers. It is worth remembering that while some of the best philosophical advances came out of their discussions in the Agora, Athens was fighting a 20-year war with Sparta, something pretty well absent in Plato’s later Socratic writing. These days fighting wars is accompanied by discussions based on propaganda, and there is no love of wisdom in that.

The Athenians labelled the different types of government thus: there was monarchy, the rule by one person and/or royal family; tyranny, the illegal or usurped monarchy; oligarchy, rule by those few with power; and demagoguey, rule of the people, by the people, for the people – what we now think of as democracy.

Democracy comes from ‘demos’ or ‘deme’, the Greek word for ‘village’. The deme was the smallest administrative unit of the Athenian city-state. And there, essentially, is the key. Democracy belongs to the little people and their communities, not Washington or Westminster. And because there are now such large populations everywhere, the administrative area has become too large to be governed by anything other than draconian methods. The connection ‘of, by and for the people’ has been broken.

Athenians didn’t vote; they chose by lot. That did mean that sometimes they got a lousy lot of men governing, but that was balanced by occasionally getting a really good council – of men. Of course, of men. Only citizens’ names went into the pot; landless men, slaves and women didn’t come into it. Not that much of a democracy, but a beginning.

Should we chose by lot? Perhaps not. But on a purely local level there is an argument to be made for selecting our representatives rather than electing people who put themselves forward or are chosen by political parties. The Zapatistas, from the Chiapas area of Mexico, are known for reaching decisions by consensus, community by community, as well as selecting their representatives.

The benefit is that those selected are there to represent the majority view of their community, rather than a party’s agenda. For one of the things that British voters are saying is that MPs do not represent their views, and too often the party agenda has little to do with, or is even damaging to the area the MP represents.

Almost all governments counted as democracies are really oligarchies, government by the few; the few being a political class backed by money and corporate power. Real democracies aren’t rich in money; they are rich in people and values.

Many ‘democracies’ end up being dominated by two main parties, right and left, Tory and Labour, Republican and Democrat and so on. To an outsider, there is little difference to be seen between America’s Republicans and Democrats. In Britain, the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems (fast melting away into a miserable little puddle of their own making) are all claiming the centre ground. No one seems to have realised that the centre ground itself has moved to the right. Not for nothing has the Scottish Labour Party earned the name ‘Red Tories’. It is now hard to find a genuinely left mainstream party. The Scottish National Party, the Green Party and the Welsh Plaid Cymru are getting there but all are hampered by party-political thinking.

A party-political system can be very divisive. For a start, it demands that people take sides. It is an adversarial system that pits interests against each other instead of finding common ground. It becomes almost impossible for independent candidates, no matter how worthy, to be elected. Parties demand loyalty over and above an MP’s conscience. It is difficult to do anything but toe the party line, and that line can be very dogmatic and narrow in vision. Westminster’s party whips rule when instead they should be got rid of. The Parliamentary Select Committees have come out with some eye-popping reports since party whips were shown the door.

Parties also have ‘party values’ which are of course ‘better’ than those of other parties. Prime Minister David Cameron is strong on values. More than once he has claimed that “Britain is a Christian country” and that we should all follow Christian values. How can he urge that considering some of the cruel policies his government has put in place? And anyway, what specifically are the ‘Christian values’ he says we should live by? In bringing them into the conversation, isn’t there an assumption they are different, not to say superior, to those held by Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus or aboriginal peoples?

If it isn’t Christian values, it’s ‘British values’. Children should be taught them in school, though the textbook has still to be written. Politicians talk vaguely about ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’ yet can give no justification for these values being particularly British. I suspect that the ‘British’ values at the back of Cameron’s mind were born out of and promoted by the British Empire. One only has to read late Victorian and Edwardian boys’ fiction to see the process: never surrendering to the ‘enemy’, remaining at one’s post while facing screaming hordes of ‘natives’, the stiff upper lip and so on. British values were built out of remaining in control of oneself while controlling ‘the natives’ in the Empire and Colonies. It’s what being British was all about. Rule Britannia!

And what with English Votes for English Laws, another distracting result of the Scottish Referendum, how long will it be before Cameron and his cabinet ask us to uphold ‘English values’, happily ignoring the Welsh and the Northern Irish, let alone the independently-minded Scots? Values as promoted by political leaders are the values of the ruling class – because political leaders see themselves as the ruling class. And that is the problem that we voters have to solve.

We could all hold and live by good and moral values. But those values are universal. They do not belong to this religion or that, this nationality or that. They do not even belong exclusively to the human race. A lifetime dealing with animals has shown me how generous, caring, altruistic and ethical animals can be. There are times when I think that we humans are only superior in one way – our ability to delude ourselves.

So how is this for delusion?

The Minister for the Constitution Sam Gyimah wrapped up the Westminster Hall debate. (Did you know we had a Minister for the Constitution? He is responsible for constitutional reform. As the UK doesn’t have a written constitution, one wonders quite what he does, and what bits of paper he shuffles.) He came out with this:

“Scotland had a huge turnout in the referendum… The reason was that people were motivated, excited and engaged with the issues. Introducing more electoral innovation might make voters’ lives easier, but it is not a substitute for us politicians doing our work to connect properly with people, to engage with them and, after all, to get them to turn out to vote for us.”

And the Electoral Commission told the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee:

“As we have seen in Scotland with the historic turnout at the referendum on independence, individuals will register and turn out to vote when they are inspired by the debate and are convinced of the importance of the issues at stake. Politicians and political parties must be at the forefront of this engagement.”

Isn’t it time that we the people were at the forefront? If we really want democracy, surely that is where we must stand.

Tags: , , , ,
December 28, 2014

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Libya Under Gaddafi’s So-called Dictatorship

by mkleit

Ruling the country for for 41 years until his demise in October 2011, Muammar Gaddafi did some truly amazing things for his country and repeatedly tried to unite and empower the whole of Africa. So despite what you’ve heard on the radio, seen in the media or on the TV Gaddafi did some powerful things that were not very reminiscent of a vicious dictator. Here are ten things Gaddafi did for Libya that you may not know about…

1. In Libya a home is considered a natural human right.

In Gaddafi’s green book it states: ” The house is a basic need of both the individual and the family, therefore it should not be owned by others”. Gaddafi’s Green Book is the formal leader’s political philosophy, it was first published in 1975 and was intended reading for all Libyans even being included in the national curriculum.


2. Education and medical treatment were all free.

Under Gaddafi’s reign Libya could boast one of the best healthcare services in the Arab and African world. Also if a Libyan citizen could not access the desired educational course or correct medical treatment in Libya they were funded to go abroad.

3. Gaddafi carried out the worlds largest irrigation project.

The largest irrigation system in the world also known as the great manmade river was designed to make water readily available to all Libyan’s across the entire country. It was funded by the Gaddafi government and it said that Gaddafi himself called it ”the eighth wonder of the world”.


4. It was free to start a farming business.

If any Libyan wanted to start a farm they were given a house, farm land and live stock and seeds all free of charge.


5. A bursary was given to mothers with newborn babies.

When a Libyan woman gave birth she was given 5000 (US dollars) for herself and the child.

Mother and child ride atop a camel as a Tuareg caravan travels north through a remote region of southern Niger

6. Electricity was free.

Electricity was free in Libya meaning absolutely no electric bills!


7.  Cheap petrol

During Gaddafi’s reign the price of petrol in Libya was as low as 0.14 (US dollars) per litre.


8. Gaddafi raised the level of education.

Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans were literate. He bought that figure up to 87% under his rule with 25% earning university degrees.

9. Libya had It’s own state bank.

Libya was the only country in the world to have a bank owned by the state meaning they were able to give loans to citizens at zero percent interest by law and they had no external debt.


10. The gold dinar


Before the fall of Tripoli and his untimely demise Gaddafi was trying to introduce a single African currency made of gold. Following in the foot steps of the late great pioneer Marcus Garvey who first coined the term ”United States of Africa”. Gaddafi wanted to introduce and only trade in the African gold Dinar  – a move which would have thrown the world economy into chaos.

The Dinar was widely opposed by the ‘elite’ of today’s society and who could blame them. African nations would have finally had the power to bring itself out of debt and poverty and only trade in this precious commodity. They would have been able to finally say ‘no’ to external exploitation and charge whatever they felt suitable for precious resources. It has been said that the gold Dinar was the real reason for the NATO led rebellion, in a bid to oust the outspoken leader.

So, was Muammar Gaddafi a Terrorist?

Few can answer this question fairly, but if anyone can, it’s a Libyan citizen who has lived under his reign? Whatever the case, it seems rather apparent that he did some positive things for his country despite the infamous notoriety surrounding his name. And that’s something you should try to remember when judging in future.

This quirky video documentary spells out an interesting, if rather different, story from the one we think we know.

(via urbantimes)


January 10, 2012

“إحتلوا بيروت”… لم يحتلوها

by mkleit

Occupy Together Map from

محمد قليط

“نحن 99%”، شعار بدأ من حديقة زوكوتي في مدينة نيويورك في 17 أيلول 2011 على خلفية تردي الوضع الاقتصادي والاجتماعي في أميركا. و لم تقتصر التحركات الرافضة على أميركا فقط، بل انتشرت في التاسع من تشرين الأول إلى ما يتعدى ال95 مدينة في 82 دولة، حسب الموقع الرسمي للتحركات تحركات “احتلوا العالم” التي آتت للمطالبة بالعدالة الاجتماعية تخطت الحدود المتوقعة، حيث صمّم موقع خريطة تحدد المواقع التي تحصل فيها الاعتصامات والعصيان المدني، والتي برزت فيها مدن عدة مثل بوسطن ومدريد ولندن وادنبره وبلغراد. ولكن السؤال على الصعيد اللبناني يبقى: أين حركة “احتلوا بيروت” من هذا التحرك العالمي؟ ألم يطالب المواطنون اللبنانيون بالمساواة والعدالة الطبقية الاجتماعية؟

بعد محاولات عدة فشلت في كندا، تسلمت نيويورك الأضواء من جارتها، حيث نشأ أول تحرك رسمي للمطالب المتعلقة بالإصلاحات الإجتماعية، و كان أول تحرك منقولاً عبر وسائل الاعلام. و كما جاء على الموقع الرسمي للتحرك، فإن الربيع العربي كان الملهم الأساس لهذه التحركات، وبالتحديد الثورة المصرية في ميدان التحرير. يذكر أنّ جريدة الواشنطن بوست أسمتها بالنهضة الديمقراطية، بعد أن استحصلت الحركة العالمية على الاعتراف الرسمي من المجلس المدني في ادنبره، اسكتلندا في 24 تشرين الثاني 2011. وقد صمم الموقع خريطة تحدد أماكن المظاهرات والاعتصامات، مع غياب كامل للدول العربية وتحديداً لبنان، علماً أنّ لبنان شهد تحركات عدة طالبت بتحسين الوضع الراهن، معظمها ترك بصمات في أذهان اللبنانيين، نذكر منها حملات اسقاط النظام الطائفي في عام 2011 التي طالبت بتحسين الوضع المعيشي وتغيير النظام السياسي الحاكم.

و لكن جلّ ما نشأ من الحركة هو بعض المقلات المنفردة والأعمال الشخصية، بالاضافة الى صفحتين على موقع التواصل الاجتماعي Facebook باسم “Occupy Beirut” و شقيقتها “Occupy Solidere”. فكما كُتب على صفحة الأخيرة: “مشاريع إعادة البناء تواصل القضاء على جزء كبير من تاريخ بيروت، والتباين الحاد بينها وبين محيطها هو رمز للصراع الطبقي ولتكديس الثروات لدى أقلية نخبوية. ولذا فإن الحملة تهدف إلى إسقاط هذا الوحش، في خطوة تمهد لسقوط النظام الفاسد.” أما في صفحة “Occupy Beirut” فوردت الجملة الآتية “نحن نقف تضامناً مع اخواننا وأخواتنا حول العالم الذين قرروا أنه حان الوقت ل1%، الذين يضعون قوانينا وينهبون أموالنا ويضطهدون شعوبنا، ليسمعوا صوت ال99%.” وفي السياق نفسه، كتب المدون وائل ضو في جريدة الديار اللبنانية مقالاً بعنوان “من الذي سيبكيكم كما أبكيتونا”، داعياً من خلاله اللبنانيين الى عدم السكوت عن الحق أو الخضوع، مشيراً في محادثة على الانترنت أنه سئم من الوضع الراهن قائلاً “لسنا مقيدين بتقبل الوضع المعيشي المتأزم على حسابنا دوماً.”
و في مقابلة مع بشار ترحيني، أحد الناشطين في التحركات المناهضة للفساد والطائفية وخبير في مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي، قال “أفتخر بكوني جزء من هذا التحرك العالمي، الذي يتكلم بلسان الفقراء.” و ندد بالطريقة التي تعتمدها السلطات اللبنانية في تعاطيها مع المظاهرات السابقة لاسقاط النظام الطائفي حيث أشار أنه “انتهى وقت المشاورات والمفاوضات، وحان وقت فضح من هم في الزعامة الذين حكموا لبنان على مدى ال40 سنة الماضية، و يظنون أن الحصانة الدبلوماسية سوف تحميهم.”

حتى اليوم، لم يسجل في لبنان سوى تحركين يتعلقان “بإحتلوا بيروت”. الأول أمام بنك لبنان المركزي في 10 كانون الأول ٢.١١، و الذي انتهى بقمع المظاهرة من قبل قوات الأمن، أما الثاني فإتخذ مكاناً له شارع الحمرا في 28 من الشهر نفسه، الذي وحسب مؤيدي التحرك، لم يكونوا على علم مسبق به. هذا الأمر أنتج بلبلة وسط المؤيدين، إذ شكك محمد الحاج ومحمد مرتضى، وهما من الناشطين في التحركات المناهضة للفساد والطائفية، بمصداقية التحرك البيروتي. فقد قال الحاج “إنّ تحرك احتلوا بيروت لم يعد موجوداً، فقد “كان بمثابة الاحتفال لبعض الشبان والشابات ليضيعوا وقتهم، حجّة ليقولوا نحن هنا، علينا المشاركة في نهضة العالم للحصول على المساواة المدنية ونظام سياسي عادل.” من جهته إنتقد مرتضى هذه التحركات التي قالت عنها “لا طعم لها” مشيراً الى عدم وجود آلية منظمة للقيام بهكذا تحركات. ويقول مرتضى ساخراً “المهم أن ينزلوا الى الشارع. وصلنا للزمن الذي أصبح الغرب أفضل منا في المظاهرات.” أما مسؤول لجنة نبذ الطائفية وموقع “خبر أونلاين” سركيس أبو زيد في محاضرة في مسرح بيروت بعنوان “الاعلام والطائفية” قال: “مشكلة لبنان هي الطائفية، فهي وحش أكبر من أي تحرك و أقوى من أي مطلب.”

من 17 أيلول حتى يومنا هذا، موجة تحركات “إحتلوا العالم” ما زالت تتوسع كفيروس عنيد يأخذ في جعبته العديد من الضحايا في الطريق لتحقيق المطالب، إذ قامت صحيفة الواشنطن بوست خلال تغطيتها للأحداث بنشر أعداد ضحايا هذه التحركات التي بلغت ثمانية قتلى و100 جريح وما يفوق 4200 معتقل. أما في لبنا فالفكرة لم تتبلور بالشكل المطلوب، اذ لم تصل إلى مرحلة المطالبة الجادة، بالرغم من وجود عدد من المؤيدين الناشطين. وربما، وعلى رأي أحد الناشطين في آخر تحرك في الحمرا، “لم تصل الفكرة بعد للناس” الذي أضاف “نأمل أن تكون تحركات بيروت هي الخبر العالمي الأول وتحديداً أن يكون تحرك “احتلوا بيروت أو سوليدير” التحرك العالمي الأول الذي يحقق مراده.”

"Occupy Beirut" in Hamra at the 28th of December

December 25, 2011

We are the 146% – Russians Refuse to be Rooked as 120,000 March in Moscow

by mkleit

From the Moscow Protests - Anonymous

Posted 1 day ago on Dec. 24, 2011, 12:20 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Russians marched in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities decrying the recent parliamentary election results. In the largest series of protests since the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago people have united across political affiliations shouting, “We exist! We exist!”

The protests began December 4th – shortly after election results were released showing in some instances returns that totaled as high as 146% of the popular vote. Russians took to the streets, chanting, “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin.” By the following Saturday, people turned out en masse (estimates range from 25,000-100,000) for a protest in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square. It was accompanied by dozens of smaller rallies across Russia’s nine time zones.

During the election, ballot boxes were stuffed; monitors shooed away; voter registrations bought, sold, and forged; and teams of United Russia activists bussed from precinct to precinct to vote early and often, in a process called “The Carousel.”

The elections were not a surprise. Last September the current President Dmitry Medvedev announced Vladimir Putin would run again for the presidency, a post that he held from 2000 to 2008 and an impossibility until a recent amendment to the Russian Constitution.

This revealed a level of cronyism, long suspected – Medvedev has been cast as “Robin to Putin’s Batman”. Some Russians now snidely refer to this political maneuvering as “rokirovka” – the Russian word for castling in chess, the move in which a rook and the king are moved at the same time, to shelter the king. This “castling move” will allow Mr. Medvedev to assume Mr. Putin’s job as prime minister after the elections March 4th – an agreement according to Putin that was reached “a long time ago, several years back.”

This announcement was understandably met with public outrage and frustration. Putin’s approval ratings went down. Vladimir Aristarkhov, a local publishing house employee, explained, “Our local version of Dr. Evil and his Mini-Me will stay in power as long as they can.” At the time there were a few small protests but nothing compared with the magnitude of crowds post-election, inspired by people-powered movements across the globe.

The demonstrations are a welcoming sign of a popular social movement organizing in opposition to the self-described “Putin regime”. They also countered a long-standing belief that the only groups capable of mass mobilization in Russia are extreme nationalists.

“I guess I just got tired of whining about Putin on my blog,” says Sergei, 31, an IT engineer. “I felt like I had to actually do something, something real.”

As of November 2011, Russia has more Internet users than any other country in Europe, and the country’s blogosphere, with about 5 million blogs and 30 million monthly readers, has become the last truly free space for political discourse in Russia’s tightly controlled media.

In a departure from “business as usual” Russian national television actually covered the uprisings. Newspaper reports claimed a veteran news anchor, Alexei Pivovarov, refused broadcast if he could not cover the protests, thereby, forcing media outlets to cover the December 24th protests as well.

During a recent four and half hour radio interview Putin suggested that the protesters were being paid and ridiculed them. But Putin’s hubris and glib mockery seem to have gone a step too far. “They let the genie out of the bottle on Sept. 24,” said Ilya Ponomaryov, one of the protest organizers. A Muscovite tweeter, Aafinogen, stated that during Mr. Putin’s speech the number of people signed up on Facebook for the protest December 24th rose by 3,500 people, totaling 21,500.

The December 24th demonstration in Moscow, Ралли За честные выборы (Rally For Fair Elections) or #D24, took place at Sakharov Avenue around 2pm (MSD, UTC+4) with an estimated 120,000 protesters present. “We have enough people here to take the Kremlin … but we are peaceful people and we won’t do that – yet. But if these crooks and thieves keep cheating us, we will take what is ours.” said activist, anti-corruption lawyer and blogger Alexei Navalny who spent 15 days in jail for his participation in demonstrations on Dec. 5th.

Blatant fraud during the Dec. 4th parliamentary elections was critical in mobilizing the middle class, who for years has remained otherwise apathetic or silent about the political climate. The rally today was larger than previous demonstrations, and along with several protests held in other cities and towns throughout Russia, indicates that this is indeed a growing protest movement. “There are so many of us here, and they [the government] are few … They are huddled up in fear behind police cordons,” said former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, one of many speakers at today’s rally.

In the Pacific port of Vladivostok, demonstrators carried posters calling for Mr. Putin to be put on trial and regional MP Artyom Samsonov said the election results should be cancelled. Novosibirsk, Siberia held a rally of 800-1,500 peaceful demonstrators. About 100 marched bravely in Orenburg, on the Kazakhstan border, despite a heavy frost and temperatures of -15C. Chelyabinsk, a city in the southern Urals, held protests of about 500 under the slogan “These elections were a farce! We want honest elections!”

President Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally and long-standing member of Putin’s regime, promised those and other changes, including the restoration of direct elections for half of parliamentary seats and easing impartial rules for presidential elections, during a national address given Thursday. However, many have expressed discontent with what they perceive as false promises. “These measures are insufficient. They are intended to calm people down and prevent them from showing up at rallies.”, says Arina Zhukova, 45, who attended today’s demonstration in Moscow. Protest organizers have also made it clear that they will keep fighting for a re-election and the punishment of government officials who played a part in the recent election fraud.

A resolution to create the Moscow Voters’ Association to monitor elections for fraud was passed at today’s rally based on concerns expressed during the demonstrations December 10th, when fifty thousand people assembled in Moscow.

At today’s rally, 22 speakers were expected to attend, where the opposition addressed a politically diverse crowd. Yury Shevchuk, a Russian rock musician, told protesters to keep their dignity and avoid “competing in hatred for the authorities” by video message. Grigory Yavlinsky, presidential candidate and veteran liberal, spoke in person, calling for a free electoral system. Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet leader, was unable to attend, but sent a message of support for the protesters instead.

Russia has long been known as a hot bed of oligarchic cronyism and corruption – Putin was a member of the KGB – but until now opposition and dissent has been limited to predominantly Internet activity. However, with new insight into how national politics are cavalierly decided in secrecy, Russians are incensed. Finding inspiration in people-powered movements across the globe, they are using the virtual space they have created to capture the physical.

December 15, 2011

Defend the Bill of Rights for All of Us.

by mkleit

On Bill of Rights Day, Thursday, Dec 15 there will be a Press Conference on Federal Court Steps, 40 Centre St., Manhattan, 11am. A coffin of the Bill of Rights will be brought to Federal Court Foley Square, NY, NY

The Bill of rights was ratified 220 years ago, on December 15, 1791. It is shameful that today, in the United States, we are forced to come together in defense of the Bill of Rights and our civil liberties, as the representatives of the 1% who rule this country continue to take our rights away.

Congress is attempting to bury the Bill of Rights. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) includes language proposed by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and Republican Sen. John McCain that allows for the arrest and indefinite detention of U.S. citizens by the military, on U.S. soil and without the right of trial. This is an egregious violation of our first amendment rights and comes at a time when we are witnessing unprecedented attacks on our civil liberties.

Some of these attacks include:

Massive spying on the Muslim community, including the recent revelations of the spying by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the CIA on mosques, Muslim businesses, and Muslim student groups;

The continuation of the policy of sending agents into mosques with phony plots designed to entrap Muslims for so called “preemptive prosecution”;

The recent raids on homes of antiwar activists by federal agents, who have carted away personal computers, cell phones, books, and other possessions and handed the activists subpoenas to appear before federal grand juries;

The recent, often violent evictions of anti-Wall Street occupations around the country; The refusal of the Chicago city government and the federal government to allow for peaceful protests when NATO and the G8 countries come to Chicago in May, 2012 to hold summit meetings.

The potential impact of the NDAA’s provisions to expand military detention without trial could render the other issues we all address seemingly trivial; any activist stands at risk of designation as a potential terrorist, especially if their interests include either foreign policy or enterprises that impact the environment.

On December 15, Bill of Rights Day actions and press conferences are planned in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco and other areas of the country. Several national coalitions — including the Muslim Peace Coalition, United National Antiwar Coalition, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Committee to Stop FBI Repression and others are co-promoting this call to action.

In New York, representatives from civil liberties, religious, social justice, and peace organizations will come together to voice opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act and other recent attacks on our civil liberties. We will discuss our plans to fight for the rights of all people and to defeat this repressive legislation.

December 11, 2011

Occupy Boston: “We might have been evicted, but we shall not be moved.”

by mkleit

Occupy Wall Street - Boston

Two days ago, in a reversal of prior claims to support OWS, the Mayor of Boston threatened to evict Occupy Boston. In response, supporters from across Massachusetts and the country gathered at Occupied Dewey Square:

They came by bus from New York and DC. They carpooled from Providence and flew in from Chicago. They drove from Worcester, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Last night, demonstrating how clearly Occupy Boston’s message has been heard and understood, two thousand people traveled from near and far to defend Dewey Square. They painted signs and spoke in General Assembly. They chanted and sang, “Which Side Are You On?” six times, at least, as a brass brand blew steam into the frozen December night. They rallied at midnight, making circles two deep around tents, as the Veterans for Peace stood guard, white flags snapping in the wind. They dressed as bankers so that bankers might be arrested for once. And when the news came that no raid was coming, no eviction imminent, they danced in the streets to celebrate.

The police did eventually come. They waited days, hoping people would stop paying attention. Like previous raids in other cities, they made their move like cowards in the pre-dawn shadows at 5AM this morning. The city used bulldozers to destroy what had been home to hundreds. At least 45 peaceful protesters were arrested while linking arms to nonviolently protect their homes and their right to free speech. When one female police officer began to cry, her male superiors yelled and berated her.

Adding to suspicions that the Boston police and city officials sought to hide their actions from the public, police reportedly enforced a media blackout. Many officers were seen covering their badge numbers. According to Occupy Boston, “Credentialed press, citizen journalists, academic researchers, and Occupy Boston media members were repeatedly corralled and moved to surrounding areas 50 feet away or more, prohibiting many from thoroughly covering the raid.” Livestreamers, medics, and legal observers were also among those targeted and arrested.

Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, and many other cities have now experienced nearly identical raids. Almost always, city officials claim to act in the public interest, citing “health and safety” or “sanitation” as their reason to suppress Occupy. But we know this is a lie. Occupy Boston alone distributed many thousands of meals, lent books, provided shelter for those who had nowhere else to go, and delivered services that the government has refused to provide because they are too busy providing tax breaks to the rich and bailouts to the banks and corporations.

An Occupation is not a hazard; it is a haven. If city governments cared about sanitation, they would not spend thousands of dollars to evict homeless Occupiers. Instead, they could use that money to open more shelters for the homeless, many of whom must live in squalor every day. If the politicians and police are so concerned about health, instead of prioritizing the arrest of peaceful protesters who have harmed no one, why don’t they make providing real universal health care their priority?

We know what this is. It is a crackdown; a coordinated attack on the 99% movement for social and economic equality. And we will not back down. As Occupy Boston and many others have said:

You cannot evict an idea whose time has come. Boston’s Occupiers will persist in rejecting a world created by and for the 1%. We might have been evicted, but we shall not be moved. We remain invested in the future of our movement. […] We are the 99%, and we are no longer silent.

Occupy Movement in Boston

Two weeks ago, a federal judge blocked a settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Citigroup, saying that he could not be sure that it was “fair, adequate, or in the public interest.” Last week, on the same day that Occupy Boston appeared in court, the District Attorney announced she was suing the banks for fraudulent foreclosure practices. Commentators across the political spectrum are thinking anew about unemployment and pensions. A blocked settlement, a lawsuit, a renewed conversation – these are not our goals, but it is not too much to call them symptoms of our success, surface indications of a fundamental change we are building. We are not surprised. We have learned over the past ten weeks just how powerful the people can be. We have come together across vast differences of experience, brought face to face by the belief that our collective capacity is greater than has been shown, that democracy is not exhausted by stale puppetry sponsored by finance, and that we can do better. And now, last night only most recently, we are united by the concrete knowledge that not only can we do better, we are. We are winning.

November 17, 2011

Hundreds march on Wall Street

by mkleit

Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street movement stage a sit-in protest near the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Photograph by: Scott Eells, Bloomberg

By Chris Francescani and Sharon Reich, Reuters

NEW YORK — Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched through New York’s financial district toward the stock exchange on Thursday to protest economic inequality at the heart of American capitalism.

Scores of police barricaded the narrow streets around the stock exchange and used batons to push the protesters onto the sidewalk as they marched from a nearby park in a bid to prevent financial workers from getting to their desks.

“I feel like this is a beautiful moment to take back our streets,” said Rachel Falcone, 27, from Brooklyn. “We need to prove we can exist anywhere. It’s gone beyond a single neighbourhood, it’s really an idea.”

Chanting “We are the 99 per cent” — a reference to their contention that the U.S. political system benefits only the richest one per cent — the protesters broke off into groups and tried to enter Wall Street from various points.

By 10 a.m., police spokesman Paul Browne said, about 50 people had been arrested at various locations in the financial district, mainly for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

At one point, some protesters chanted to police: “You’re sexy, you’re blue, now take off that riot suit.”

Taxi driver Mike Tupea, a Romanian immigrant, said his car had been stuck amid the protesters for 40 minutes.

“I have to make a living. I pay $100 for 12 hours for this cab. I am losing money every minute,”’ he said. “I have all my sympathies for this movement but let me do my living, let working people make a living.”

Most rallies by the two-month-old movement in New York have been attended by hundreds of people, but a spokesman for the protesters and city officials said on Wednesday that they expected tens of thousands to turn out for the day of action.

Protesters were planning to take their protest to 16 subway hubs later on Thursday, then return to City Hall for a rally before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. Last month, more than 700 people were arrested during a similar march across the bridge after some protesters blocked traffic.

The demonstration comes two days after police evicted hundreds of protesters from their camp at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, where the Occupy Wall Street movement was born on Sept. 17 and sparked solidarity rallies and occupations of public spaces across the United States.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has also re-energized similar movements elsewhere in the world.

Peter Cohen, 47, an anthropologist from New York, wore a suit for the protest in a bid to improve the movement’s image.

“I have a job and (the suit) on because I’m tired of the way this movement has been characterized as a fringe movement,” said Cohen. “I’m not looking for money, I’m not looking for a job, I’m not a professional activist, just a normal citizen.”

Protesters say they are upset that billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks during the recession allowed a return to huge profits while average Americans have had no relief from high unemployment and a struggling economy.

They also say the richest one per cent of Americans do not pay their fair share of taxes.

“I’m hoping they can succeed in shutting down the stock exchange for the day,” said Paul Layton, a trial lawyer, as he tried to get to his financial district office. “And that through their efforts they can convince government to regulate the financial industry.”

The New York Stock Exchange opened on time and was operating normally.

Derek Tabacco was not happy as he tried to get to the offices of his financial technology company and was carrying a sign with a message for the protesters that read “Get a job.”

The clearing of the Occupy camp in New York followed evictions in Atlanta, Portland and Salt Lake City. Unlike action in Oakland, California, where police used tear gas and stun grenades, most protesters left voluntarily.

Megyn Norbut, from Brooklyn, said she holds down three jobs and that she joined the protest on Thursday “because we got kicked out of Zuccotti and we need to show that this is a mental and spiritual movement, not a physical movement.”

“It’s not about the park,” said Norbut, 23.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more:

%d bloggers like this: