ON LABOUR DAY, AND EVERY OTHER DAY, LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL

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Don’t Just Look for Union Label

On Labor Day, Time To Rethink Old Progressive Mantra

By Ari Paul*

Labor Day has arrived, and families across the country will be getting their backyards ready for barbecues. In progressive circles, a familiar message is making the rounds: Buy union. Make sure your grill is a Weber or Thermador, made by union hands. Eat Butterball and Hebrew National franks. A list of brands has been circulating on social media sites with the goal of urging pro-labor consumers to support members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and other food sector and manufacturing unions.

Trade unionists encourage each other to “buy union” not only to show solidarity, but also to prop up unionized businesses. After all, nonunion competitors can afford to mark down their products, so it is up to us to keep union jobs alive. And we can punish anti-union companies by not giving them our business. The idea of letting your social conscience guide your purchases — whether it be boycotting or gorging on Chick-fil-A — is a familiar and popular American concept.

But at a time when a movement like Occupy Wall Street is proposing a new economic approach that isn’t based simply on stimulating consumer spending, perhaps this is the wrong approach. At the very least, we should examine at it a bit more critically.

I should make it known that I avoid anti-union FedEx. I don’t set foot in a Walmart unless I’m stranded in the middle of a highway in America with no other option. On more than one occasion, I’ve defended my preference for plebeian Budweiser or Miller High Life over more sophisticated micro-brews by pointing to the union label.

But this assumes that the benefits union workers have at these companies are the result not of collective action, which forced the employer to comply with worker demands, but of consumers lining the pockets of the bosses. Through active consumerism, the “buy union” narrative shifts the power to driving change from worker struggle. Furthermore, there is something terribly Reagan-istic about assuming that making bosses at unionized firms even richer will allow the wealth to trickle down to Joe Sixpack.

In fact, it often doesn’t. Many of the major strikes and lockouts in this country over the past several years — at Verizon, Sotheby’s, Mott’s (which is on the Labor Day BBQ list) and Caterpillar — involved companies demanding draconian wage and benefit concessions from workers not because of increased competition or falling revenues, but despite whopping profits.

Think of it this way: If I send a package via UPS (where workers are represented by the Teamsters) and my patronage helps keep the parcel company in the black, how can I expect the surplus to be used? Will it be voluntarily invested in a new safety program for workers or through increased pension contributions? Or will it go to corporate lawyers and public relations hacks to help fight the union in the next round of contract talks?

Also, if you look at the list of Labor Day “union” items, you see a lot of odious actors. Though its workers are unionized, Smithfield has been condemned by both labor groups and by animal rights activists for its atrocious slaughterhouse conditions. The list urges people to buy Coca-Cola products even though many unionists are boycotting the company for its connection to violence against labor organizers in Colombia. Hormel Red Franks is also on the list; in the mid-80s the company fought against its meatpackers and were successful in the campaign, which, along with Ronald Reagan’s firing of air traffic controllers. marked the decline of the American labor movement.

Of course, when it is feasible and ethical to buy union, there’s not a problem with that. And there’s a sense that buying union proves to free-market advocates that it is possible for companies to invest more in employees and remain competitive. But the fact is, buying union is a kind of “least I can do” approach. It isn’t clear that shopping at Costco, which has union-represented locations and pays its employees above the industry standards according to labor groups, will change Walmart’s ways anytime soon. America can’t buy its way to labor reform; that will take massive legal changes and, most of all, grassroots organizing among workers, not patting employers on the back for not having broken the union at their place of business.

Things such as green products thrive because a lot of people demand them. Sadly, union membership is at less than 15% in the United States, and that’s not enough people to move markets — or company ethics.

*Ari Paul has written for The Nation, the Guardian, Z Magazine and Al Jazeera English. He is a dues-paying member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Written FOR

 The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

#Ferguson ~~ LATUFF’S LATEST SPOOFS

“No more pigs in our community!” …  A quote from the Black Panthers

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Stand with the people of Ferguson

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#FergusonUnderFire ~~ 90 YEAR OLD HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ARRESTED

FERGUSON UNDER FIRE …

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Hedy Epstein, 90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor, Arrested During Michael Brown Protest

OCCUPYING THE PRISONS

Cecily McMillan Sentenced to Three Months in Jail

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer (Reports follow)

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Cecily McMillan Sentenced to Three Months in Jail

By Jon Swaine, Guardian UK (Via)

McMillan to also serve five years’ probation for deliberately elbowing a New York police officer at a protest in 2012

 

n Occupy Wall Street activist has been sentenced to three months in jail for assaulting a New York police officer as he led her out of a protest.

Cecily McMillan, who had been facing a maximum sentence of seven years, was told on Monday morning by Judge Ronald Zweibel that she “must take responsibility for her conduct”.

“A civilised society must not allow an assault to be committed under the guise of civil disobedience,” said Zweibel at Manhattan criminal court. However, he added: “The court finds that a lengthy sentence would not serve the interests of justice in this case.”

McMillan, 25, received a three-month jail sentence to be followed by community service and five years of probation. Her lawyers expect her to serve two-thirds of the sentence. She will also receive credit for the two weeks she has been remanded at Rikers Island jail since being convicted.

McMillan was earlier this month found guilty of deliberately elbowing officer Grantley Bovell in the face at a demonstration in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in March 2012. He suffered a black eye and spent two weeks off work with headaches and sensitivity to light. McMillan insisted throughout her trial that she swung her arm instinctively after having one of her breasts grabbed from behind.

Wearing a fuschia dress, the New School graduate student was on Monday led, handcuffed, into a courtroom lined by about 50 police officers. Reading a prepared speech, she told the judge that she lived by the “law of love”. She said: “Violence is not permitted. This being the law that I live by, I can say with certainty that I am innocent of the crime I have been convicted of”. She apologised for what she called “this accident”.

However, in a sharply critical statement to the judge, assistant district attorney Shanda Strain said that McMillan had “not only physically assaulted the police officer but also falsely accused this police officer’s character both inside and outside of this courtroom”.

Accusing McMillan of using the court as a “grandstand for her political opinions,” Strain baldly stated that the 25-year-old had committed perjury by accusing Bovell of grabbing her breast. “Through her lies, she has undermined the claims of genuine sexual assault victims who seek justice in this system,” she said. However, Strain said that a sentence of 90 days would be sufficient to “serve the interests of society”.

After being pushed to the ground during her arrest, McMillan suffered further bruising and said that she had a seizure or anxiety attack. She previously said that she underwent treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. McMillan’s attorney, Martin Stolar, told Zweibel: “I urge the court to take into account the injuries that Miss McMillan suffered subsequent to her arrest … which will last probably the rest of her life.”

Stolar told the Guardian outside court that the sentence was “less worse than it could have been”. He said: “The punishment, and whatever deterrent effect a punishment can have, was already delivered to Cecily the night she was arrested. As far as the police were concerned, she punched a cop and she got punched back, so street justice was delivered.”

McMillan’s felony conviction for second-degree assault is believed to be the most serious against any of the hundreds of members of Occupy who were prosecuted for offences around protests after the movement began in 2011. She had previously turned down an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty to the felony charge in exchange for a recommendation that she not receive a prison sentence.

Following the sentencing, Erin Duggan Kramer, Vance’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement that the district attorney’s office recognised the freedoms of speech and assembly as “bedrocks of our personal liberties” that were “deeply entrenched in our city’s culture”. Claiming that “great leniency” had been shown to Occupy members charged with minor offences, Duggan Kramer said: “This defendant chose to take her case to trial, and was convicted by a jury of her peers for a violent felony.”

Stolar pointed out to the judge that following McMillan’s conviction, nine of the 12 jurors in her trialwrote to Zweibel, asking him not to send her to prison and to show her leniency. Their letter was followed by similar requests from members of the New York city council and prominent pop musicians. Two members of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk activist group, visited McMillan at Rikers and also wrote to the judge.

McMillan’s support team also delivered a petition to Zweibel and Cyrus Vance, the district attorney, bearing what they said were 43,000 names of other people asking that she not be sent to prison. While acknowledging that the courts should not be dictated by public opinion, Stolar urged Zweibel to note that “so many people have spoken up and that they believe leniency is in order for Miss McMillan”.

Singling out by name contributions from Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, and Lauren Mayberry, of the Scottish group Chvrches, Stolar told Zweibel: “These are people that neither you nor I would recognise, but among this generation are fairly important”.

Zweibel said: “The court agrees with many of Miss McMillan’s supporters that Miss McMillan is capable of making a positive contribution to society. However, as I stated before, a sentence must take into account the fact that Miss McMillan was convicted of assaulting a police officer.” He then delivered his order on her sentence.

Several people in the public gallery began quietly singing ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’, adding “Cecily is innocent” to the lyrics. However, they stopped after being ordered to be quiet by a senior police officer.

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Related Report

PHOTO AND SONG ESSAY ~~ THE GIANT REAWAKENS ON MAY DAY

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After a long and cold winter, the 99% finally ended their hibernation in New York … They went all out on May Day …

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The following from Matt Weinstein …

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The City Belongs To Its Workers – May Day 2014

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Thousands of New York city’s workers filled the sidewalks on Broadway next to City Hall. The weather was sublime and the spirit exuberant as the working class of New York claimed the day as theirs. 

May Day, the international workers holiday, was born in the USA in the struggle for an eight-hour work day. For many years, it was ignored or red-baited out of the consciousness of America’s working people. But it’s back and the pride and militancy of today’s rally was palpable.

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Photos © by Matt Weinstein

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The NYC Labor Chorus. A fantastic rendition of Solidarity Forever!

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Folks from NYSNA - the NY State Nurses Association.

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UFT members at May Day rally.

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Seattle just passed the .00 minimum wage. Is New York next?

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Brooklyn For Peace was in the house for May Day.

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And Comrades who have left us were with us in spirit …

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TRIANGLE FIRE ~~ 104 YEARS AND COUNTING

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pilfering and work-breaks will not be tolerated

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire

March 23, 1911

By Tom Karlson

doors chained

exits blocked

!fire!

infernoed smoke and heat everywhere

elevator pulleys buckle,

fire-escape collapses

women leap

bodies smashed

sculpted by fire and crash

charred pick-up sticks

to be counted and named

by shattered lovers and family

148 sweatshop workers

148 Italian and Jewish women

148 from 14 to 48

on that sidewalk morgue

a flat temporary mausoleum

lined with

tears and blood

from mass murder will come new laws

protecting labor

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A look at the history

CHUTZPAH OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO …

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Walmart Holding Canned Food Drive For Its Own Underpaid Employees
The company has long been plagued by charges that it doesn’t pay its employees a real living wage.
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A Walmart in northeast Ohio is holding a holiday canned food drive — for its own underpaid employees. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” a sign reads in the employee lounge of a Canton-area Walmart.

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, says the drive is a positive thing. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said. Indeed, Lundberg is correct that it’s commendable to make an effort to help out those who are in need, especially during the holidays.

A Walmart in northeast Ohio is holding a holiday canned food drive — for its own underpaid employees. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” a sign reads in the employee lounge of a Canton-area Walmart.

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, says the drive is a positive thing. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said. Indeed, Lundberg is correct that it’s commendable to make an effort to help out those who are in need, especially during the holidays.

But the need for a food drive illustrates how difficult it is for Walmart workers to get by on its notoriously low pay. The company has long been plagued by charges that it doesn’t pay its employees a real living wage. In fact, Walmart’s President and CEO, Bill Simon, recently estimated that the majority of its one million associates make less than $25,000 per year, just above the federal poverty line of $23,550 for a family of four. When the Washington DC city council passed a living wage bill requiring Walmart to pay workers a minimum of $12.50 per hour, the chain threatened to shut down its new stores if Mayor Vincent Gray didn’t veto the bill. Gray vetoed the bill.

Walmart’s low wages come at a public cost. Because low-income workers still need housing and health care, taxpayers end up doling out millions in benefits to bridge the gap faced by many of the store’s retail workers. They have also led to strikes at Walmart stores from Seattle to Chicago to Los Angeles in recent weeks.

Even if the canned food drive successfully gathers enough to help out the Canton store’s low-income workers, many of them might not even be able to have the food on Thanksgiving. That’s because Walmart is one of a group of retailers that will open its stores for Black Friday sales beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon.

But the need for a food drive illustrates how difficult it is for Walmart workers to get by on its notoriously low pay. The company has long been plagued by charges that it doesn’t pay its employees a real living wage. In fact, Walmart’s President and CEO, Bill Simon, recently estimated that the majority of its one million associates make less than $25,000 per year, just above the federal poverty line of $23,550 for a family of four. When the Washington DC city council passed a living wage bill requiring Walmart to pay workers a minimum of $12.50 per hour, the chain threatened to shut down its new stores if Mayor Vincent Gray didn’t veto the bill. Gray vetoed the bill.

Walmart’s low wages come at a public cost. Because low-income workers still need housing and health care, taxpayers end up doling out millions in benefits to bridge the gap faced by many of the store’s retail workers. They have also led to strikes at Walmart stores from Seattle to Chicago to Los Angeles in recent weeks.

Even if the canned food drive successfully gathers enough to help out the Canton store’s low-income workers, many of them might not even be able to have the food on Thanksgiving. That’s because Walmart is one of a group of retailers that will open its stores for Black Friday sales beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon.

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Runner-Up for the Award this year goes to …

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McDonald’s Advice to Underpaid Employees: Sell Your Christmas Presents For Cash

Their website has another piece of advice for people who are stressed about their meager paychecks: “Quit complaining,” the site suggests. “Stress hormones levels rise by 15 percent after 10 minutes of complaining.”

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Tis the season for holiday spirit: Yule logs, egg nog, festive lights and exchanging gifts with loved ones. If you work for McDonald’s, though, be sure to save those receipts.

McDonald’s McResource Line, a dedicated website run by the world’s largest fast-food chain to provide its 1.8 million employees with financial and health-related tips, offers a full page of advice for “Digging Out From Holiday Debt.” Among their helpful holiday tips: “Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”

Elsewhere on the site, McDonald’s encourages its employees to break apart food when they eat meals, as “breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.” And if they are struggling to stock their shelves with food in the first place, the company offers assistance for workers applying for food stamps.

McDonald’s corporate officers have a history of offering questionable advice to their low-wage workers. Four months ago, the company partnered with Visa to distribute a sample “budget.” In it, the chain suggested that workers needn’t pay for such frivolous expenses like their heating bills, and factored in a monthly rent of $600. To workers living in New York City (home of 350+ stores) and other expensive metropolises, that number is almost comical.

McDonald’s employees are some of the most underpaid workers in the country. The company’s cashiers and “team members” earn, on average, $7.75 an hour, just 50 cents higher than the federal minimum wage. Responding to rising living costs, many stores have staged walk-outsstrikes and protests, demanding a living wage. In Europe, where the minimum wage for employees is $12, customers pay just pennies more than their American counterparts for the same menu items, while the stores themselves typically bring in higher profit margins than ones in the United States.

Of course, McDonalds has shown little willingness to negotiate higher salaries for their poorest workers even as labor rights groups up the pressure. Instead, their website has another piece of advice for people who are stressed about their meager paychecks: “Quit complaining,” the site suggests. “Stress hormones levels rise by 15 percent after 10 minutes of complaining.”

Also FROM

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MILLION MASK MARCH FOR JUSTICE

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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“Remember who your enemies are: billionaires who own banks and corporations who corrupt politicians who enslave the people in injustice.”
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Protesters gather around the world for Million Mask March

Demonstrations in more than 400 cities were planned to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day, with Russell Brand at a London protest

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POWER TO THE SHEEPLE! ~~ IMAGE AND VIDEO

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PHOTO ESSAY ~~ SOLIDARITY WITH FAST FOOD WORKERS ON LABOUR DAY

For some today is a holiday …. for others it’s a day of struggle.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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 ….. Let’s make it a Happy Holiday for all!
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IMAGE ESSAY ~~ REV. KING HAD A DREAM ~~ WE ARE LEFT WITH A NIGHTMARE

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This is what it all really boils down to …
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A MOST HAUNTING PHOTO FROM BANGLADESH

Think of this photo the next time you go shopping for clothes …. LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL!
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A Final Embrace: The Most Haunting Photograph from Bangladesh

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Taslima Akhter 
April 25, 2013. Two victims amid the rubble of a garment factory building collapse in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Click here to find out more!

Many powerful photographs have been made in the aftermath of the devastating collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. But one photo, by Bangladeshi photographer Taslima Akhter, has emerged as the most heart wrenching, capturing an entire country’s grief in a single image.

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi photographer, writer and founder of Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography, said of the photo: “This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful. An embrace in death, its tenderness rises above the rubble to touch us where we are most vulnerable. By making it personal, it refuses to let go. This is a photograph that will torment us in our dreams. Quietly it tells us. Never again.”

Akhter writes for LightBox about the photograph, which appears in this week’s TIME International alongside an essay by David Von Drehle.

I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the collapse. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them. I don’t know who they are or what their relationship is with each other.

I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives — I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them — they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives.

Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable — it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number — not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too.

They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than 750. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers.

This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen.


Taslima Akhter is a Bangladeshi photographer and activist.

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A BELATED MAY DAY GIFT FOR YOU

 

Songs for May Day – Songs for You and Me 

 

Songs for and inspired by May Day – The Last Internationale Demand That ‘Workers of the World Unite!'; Union Town by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman; “This Land Is Your Land” with Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie & Fred Hellerman; L’Internationale – Pete Seeger in English and the original French; “The Internationale” conducted by Arturo Toscanini–BANNED by U.S. censors!; Max Roach: We Insist! Freedom Now Suite

May%20Day%20graphic%20%20-%20Drooker%20

 
 

 Drawing from Drooker’s book, “Slingshot.”, http://drooker.com/books/slingshot.html

“May Day has become an international celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labour movement. Although the commemoration of May Day as International Workers’ Day received its inspiration from the United States, the U.S. Congress designated May 1 as Loyalty Day in 1958 due to the day’s perceived appropriation by the Soviet Union. Alternatively, Labor Day traditionally occurs on the first Monday in September in the United States. People often use May Day as a day for political protest, such as the million people who demonstrated against far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in France in 2002, or as a day for protest against government actions, such as rallies in support of undocumented workers across the United States.”

 

Eric Drooker post on Facebook

 

 

The Last Internationale Demand That ‘Workers of the World Unite!’

 

Folk-rockers rally for protest anthem

 

Listen toThe Last Internationale

 

By RJ Cubarrubia

May 1, 2013 

Rolling Stone

 

New York’s counterculture spirit lives on in the Last Internationale, a group of impassioned folk-rockers, and the new video for their fiery protest song “Workers of the World Unite!” In it, the band plays through the stripped-down track in an isolated shack, and images of hard-working farmers filter throughout the video (which you can watch here exclusively).

 

“[The song] is about poverty, oppression, injustice, the myth of the American dream and the need for workers’ revolution against capitalism,” the Last Internationale tell Rolling Stone. “We wanted to write a song with an anthemic chorus to perform at protests and for social movements in general, but we also wanted it to be very personal.” To get their pure, no-frills sound, the band recorded the track at Estudio Sa Da Bandeira in Porto, Portugal while on tour. “We performed and mixed it live to quarter-inch tape with the engineer controlling the faders behind the board,” the band says. “No overdubs, no punch-ins and no soul-sucking computers.”

 

The group may sound modest, but they already have a famous fan. Tom Morello considers the Last Internationale a “raw and real” combination of “East Village rock sensibilities with Battleship Potemkin firepower,” he tells Rolling Stone.

 

“Workers of the World Unite!” marks International Workers’ Day today. The band’s latest release, the Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Indian Blood + Crawlin’ Queen Snake and Bourgeois Blues seven-inch, is out now. They also released their new EP, New York, I Do Mind Dying, in January.

 

 

Union Town by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman 

 

Stop the War on Workers

 

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

 

Visit to join the fight and download “Union Town” for free. Video by Revolution Messaging. Directed and edited by Robin Bell. Tom Morello filmed by Sean Ricigliano Wisconsin convergence footage by Matt Wisniewski as well as the Transport Workers Union. LA Unity Rally footage by Chris Kissinger.

 

  

 

 

“This Land Is Your Land” with Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie & Fred Hellerman 

 

Studs Terkel does the introduction to the beloved Woody Guthrie song, sung by Judy, Pete, Fred and Arlo in this 1976 broadcast from PBS studio in Chicago.

 

 

 

L’Internationale 

 

Pete Seeger singing the socialist anthem, in both French and English

 

   

 

 

“The Internationale” conducted by Arturo Toscanini–BANNED by U.S. censors!

 

  

 

In 1944, to honor the Allied victory in Italy, the great Arturo Toscanini–a refugee from Fascisim in his home country–decided to conduct a performance of Verdi’s “Hymn of the Nations”. “Hymn” is a composition that Verdi originally built around the national anthems of Britain, France, and Italy. In order to honor all four of the major Allies, Toscanini decided to add “The Star Spangled Banner” for the U.S. and “The Internationale” for the Soviet Union. The music was performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra, with the Westminister Choir and the great tenor Jan Peerce as soloist; conducted by Toscanini. It was filmed as a featurette to be shown in movie theaters, and was narrated by Burgess Meredith.

 

In the early 50’s, at the height of the Red Scare,U.S. censors excised the portion of this performance that featured the “Internationale”.

 

For years the sequence in the original featurette was considered forever lost. But recently a copy of this missing piece of film was rediscovered, and now this rousing rendition of the Internationale–together with chorale and orchestra under the direction of a legendary conductor–can now be enjoyed again.

 

 

Max Roach: We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (2007)

 

 

By Chris May

 

October 8, 2007

All About Jazz

 

Re-released following the passing of drummer Max Roach in August 2007, We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (Candid, 1960) remains a work of enduring musical and social importance. Notwithstanding Roach’s central role in the creation of bop, or his later hard bop explorations with trumpeter Clifford Brown, it is, by some margin, the most perfectly realised album he recorded.

 

1960 was the year in which black Americans’ struggle for civil rights reached critical mass. In February, anti-segregationist lunch-counter sit-ins began in Greensboro, North Carolina. Rallies, marches and sit-ins spread out across the country like a bushfire, with black, and white, musicians, dramatists and visual artists adding their voices to the movement. The question was no longer perceived as whether a change was going to come, but when it would come.

 

We Insist!, recorded in August and September 1960, was the first of several jazz albums explicitly to voice the growing demand for equal rights. In November, it was followed by the recording of bassist Charles Mingus’ Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus (Candid, 1960), whose “Original Faubus Fables,” a ferocious attack on Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus (of Little Rock High School infamy), possessed an intensity which set the tone for most jazz-as-protest albums to follow.

 

Some of those albums sound like period pieces today, but not We Insist!, which is sufficiently nuanced and free of agit-prop literalism to transcend its era. Conceived as a suite by Roach, its composer and arranger, the album features a shifting cast of players, with only Roach and singer Abbey Lincoln heard throughout. Three of the five tracks – “Driva’ Man,” “Freedom Day” and “All Africa” – feature lyrics by Oscar Brown Jr., sung by Lincoln, who is joined on “All Africa” by Nigerian conga player Michael Olatunji. Brown’s words, pitched as poetry rather than polemic, are deep and eloquent, and Lincoln’s assertive, uncompromising delivery of them is widely considered to be her finest recorded performance.

 

The album is ablaze with instrumental spirit too. Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, in an inspired piece of guest casting, solos at length on the opening “Driva’ Man,” his sturdy, heavyweight testifying suggesting dignity and determination in the face of whip-wielding oppression – he sounds like the civil rights marchers looked. “All Africa” closes with four minutes of collective improvisation between Roach, Olatunji and Afro-Cuban percussionists Ray Mantilla and Tomas DuVall, as thrilling an African/Afro-American drum summit as could be wished for. There are stirring solos from trumpeter Booker Little, trombonist Julian Priester and tenor saxophonist Walter Benton, and the ensemble’s focus is razor sharp throughout, honed by Roach’s virtuosic drumming.

 

Awesome is an over-used word, but it’s the right one for We Insist!. 

 

Track Listing: Driva’ Man; Freedom Day; Triptych (Prayer, Protest, Peace); All Africa; Tears For Johannesburg.

 

Personnel: Max Roach: drums; Booker Little: trumpet; Julian Priester: trombone; Coleman Hawkins: tenor saxophone (1); Walter Benton: tenor saxophone; James Schenck: bass; Michael Olatunji: congas; Ray Mantilla: percussion; Tomas DuVall: percussion; Abbey Lincoln: vocals.

 

 

We Insist! : Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (complete) 

 

  

MAY DAY! MAY DAY!! MAY DAY!!!

maydaycartoon-lg3
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Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It derives from the French venez m’aider, meaning “come help me“.[1]

It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by mariners and aviators, but in some countries local organisations such as police forces, firefighters, and transportation organizations also use the term. The call is always given three times in a row (“Mayday Mayday Mayday”) to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call. (From)

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Yes, the entire world is in distress…. Here’s how YOU can help ….

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Wed
May. 1
12:00 AM
May Day Events
Wed
May. 1
10:00 AM
Occupy Guitarmy May Day Education and Actions
Wed
May. 1
10:30 AM
Young Workers: March with TWU on May Day!
Wed
May. 1
11:00 AM
Wed
May. 1
12:00 PM
Immigrant Worker Justice Tour
Wed
May. 1
12:00 PM

Rally for Worker & Immigrant Rights

Union Square, Union Square Park, New York
Rally for Worker & Immigrant Rights
Wed
May. 1
3:00 PM

99 Pickets Solidarity Swarm

Union Square, Union Square Park, New York
99 Pickets Solidarity Swarm
Wed
May. 1
3:00 PM
NYC Student May Day Convergence and Dance Party
Wed
May. 1
3:00 PM
Resistance Is Fertile: Love Bomb Seed Bombs
Wed
May. 1
7:00 PM

May Day People’s Assembly

Foley Square, Foley Square, New York
May Day People's Assembly
Wed
May. 1
7:45 PM
Kimani Gray Memorial Citywide May Day Assembly
Fri
May. 3
1:00 PM

Screen: Occupy Love (Film)

Cinema Village, 22 E 12th Street, New York
Screen: Occupy Love (Film)
Sat
May. 4
1:00 PM
Occupy Against attacks on the 99% Through Austerity!
Tue
May. 7
6:30 PM
After May Day-Occupy Wall Street in Action/Open House

WHY WE WON’T MOURN FOR MARGARET THATCHER

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Among other things … She sponsored a wave of racism claiming Britain was being “swamped by immigrants” – and then unleashed a reign of racist terror by the police on black communities across the country, notably in places like Brixton and Toxteth. At the same time she propped up Apartheid racism in South Africa branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist to the very end. She used the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s as an excuse to attack lesbians and gay men, bringing the anti-gay law, Section 28. And in case students thought they were getting off lightly she laid the foundation stone of the long campaign to transform education from a right into a privilege for the rich by introducing student loans.
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Why we Won’t Mourn for Margaret Thatcher
Written by Liverpool Trades Union Council   

Margaret Thatcher died on 8 April 2013 and the vast majority of ordinary people greeted her passing with undisguised joy.

The right wing media have tried to portray this response as the disrespectful behaviour of a minority. It isn’t. It is a fitting response to the death of a Tory prime minister who spent the entire 1980s wilfully attacking the poor and the working class, in Britain and abroad.

During her reign countless people lost their lives directly as a result of her policies – miners killed on the picket lines, ten Irish prisoners driven to death on hunger strike by her refusal to recognise their human rights, sailors on the Belgrano torpedoed on her order as their ship sailed away from a war zone, people driven to suicide by her selfish economic policies that increased inequality massively in Britain.

And of course in this city 96 Liverpool supporters died at a football match. She was up to her armpits in a conspiracy to blame the victims and their families for a tragedy that her hateful policing policies caused. And we have only just got an official recognition of how this cover up increased the terrible suffering that the families and survivors of this terrible event have had to endure for 24 long years.

Did Thatcher mourn for her victims? No. And we don’t mourn for her.

In Britain she destroyed industry after industry to break the power of the trade unions – in steel, in the mines, in the print and on the docks. She passed the most undemocratic and draconian anti-union laws in the west. She deregulated the banks and directly caused the regime of financial piracy that led to the recent financial crash.

Thatcher openly targeted our city – a city with strong trade union and socialist values –imposing savage cuts and then ousting a democratically elected Labour council that fought her. She launched her attacks on Liverpool after the Toxteth Rising in 1981, determined to make us pay for having fought back and determined to carry out a policy of the “managed decline” (her words) of our city.

After she had waged her neo-colonial war against Argentina in the Falklands/Malvinas in 1982 – a war designed to shore up Britain’s military prowess on the world stage and protect the interests of Britain’s bosses who could smell oil reserves in the South Atlantic and saw the islands as a potential future basis of operations – she returned to war on people she called “the enemy within”, trade unionists, workers, poor people and above all the miners. After all, the excuse that Argentina was ruled by a dictator didn’t wash given her lifelong support for the murderous General Pinochet in neighbouring Chile. This was a dictator she was happy to lavish praise on and arm to the teeth. He killed at least 30,000 Chilean trade unionists after his coup in 1973.

Thatcher spent untold millions killing Argentinians and then in 1984/85 bludgeoning British miners into submission after a year-long strike, and all for the same aim – to ensure that the country would be a land of plenty for the rich elite both at home and abroad. Mining communities were wrecked by her pit closure programme and criminalised by a police occupation of their villages when they fought back.

And having won both battles she went on, in her third term of office – to impose an unjust local tax on everyone – the poll tax. She brazenly piloted it in Scotland first in act of vengeful spite against a people who had rejected Toryism outright. This was one battle she lost as we fought back with all our might. Make no mistake, it may have been the Tory men in suits who moved against her in parliament, but they were only able to do it because we had made Britain virtually ungovernable through the great Poll Tax Rebellion.

During her time in office and even before she became prime minister Thatcher – who famously said, “there is no such thing as society” –did her best to harm all of those who stood for justice and equality? She took free milk away from schoolchildren. She sold off council houses creating a terrible shortage of affordable homes; she privatised industries and utilities so her loud mouthed mega rich friends in the City of London could make killing after killing on the stock markets. She closed down industries and then allowed a heroin epidemic to flourish in the ghost towns her policies had created.

She sponsored a wave of racism claiming Britain was being “swamped by immigrants” – and then unleashed a reign of racist terror by the police on black communities across the country, notably in places like Brixton and Toxteth. At the same time she propped up Apartheid racism in South Africa branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist to the very end. She used the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s as an excuse to attack lesbians and gay men, bringing the anti-gay law, Section 28. And in case students thought they were getting off lightly she laid the foundation stone of the long campaign to transform education from a right into a privilege for the rich by introducing student loans.

There is not one thing that Thatcher did that was good. Her life was a blot on our landscape. We are well rid of her – and we are outraged that at a time of major cuts in welfare she is being given a multi-million pound send off. What hypocrisy, what an insult to the poor of this country who are having to cope with the bedroom tax and the benefit cuts as over £10million is spent burying a person the majority of people in this country despise.

Which brings us to the main point we should all remember as she is dispatched – Thatcher may be dead but her legacy of sacrificing the livelihoods, the rights and communities of the working class on the altar of profit lives on in her descendants. Cameron and his gang of Etonian toffs are trying to finish off the job Thatcher started. It is our job to stop them and hurl Thatcher’s legacy back in their face. Which is why on the day of her funeral Liverpool Trades Union Council renews its commitment to stopping the cuts, axing the bedroom tax, saving the NHS and supporting workers’ struggles here, across the country and across the world. 

Source

 

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BELLA CIAO HUGO CHAVEZ

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
morre-hugo-chavez
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The President that did more to help the poor people in the United States than Obama himself ….
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Hugo Chavez Gives Heating Aid to U.S. Poor Following Obama Budget Cuts

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Read the full report HERE
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Bella Ciao Dear Comrade
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10 Memorable Hugo Chávez Moments

President Hugo Chávez was known for his grand overtures and bold attacks. A exceptionally gifted orator who relished media attention, he continually came up with show-stealing lines. Below are 10 of the many moments that made Mr. Chávez such a distinctive force in Venezuela and across the world.
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Click HERE to see the multi media report from the New York Times
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Cindy Sheehan adds the following tribute to a wonderful human being ….
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In Loving Memory: Hugo Chavez Frias 1954-2013

 
Hugo Chavez Frias, Presente!
Cindy Sheehan
 
A wonderful human being has passed.
What do I do when I am angry, happy, or sad? I write.
Back in 2004, shortly after my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, a grief counselor advised me to write a letter to my son in a journal every night. I filled up three journals in the terrible months after his death. I often wrote at his grave and those journals did help me deal with the unspeakable loss.
Today, I write from a great well of sadness, but not just for me, for the world. My dear friend in peace and justice, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, just lost his fierce and valiant battle with cancer.
Many people know about Hugo Chavez, the president, and constant thorn in the side to El Imperio the meddlesome and harmful Empire to the north. But I want to eulogize Chavez the man I knew.
He was my dear friend and comrade in a way where we were united in the struggle for peace and economic justice and equality. It’s not like I could text him, or we would chat about current events, but whenever I had the privilege to be with him, warmth radiated from his heart and I was able to connect with him in very real and human ways. Compared to the palpable realness of Chavez, most of the US politicians I have met with are walking and talking ice sculptures.
The first time I met him in Caracas was in early 2006 at the World Social Forum. I had been invited to sit on the stage while he gave a speech to those gathered there from around the world. He introduced me as, “Señora Esperanza,” “Mrs. Hope,” in contrast to his nickname for George Bush: “Señor Peligro,” “Mr. Danger.” However, our brother, Hugo Chavez, was the one who gave us much hope.
I have met and interviewed so many people in Venezuela whose lives were immeasurably improved by the vision and dedication of Hugo Chavez. How can one put a price on going from being illiterate to being able to read? A 65-year-old woman told me her life was transformed by the adult literacy program. It really made me appreciate the fact that I have always known how to read (it seems). What would I have done without my best friends, my books? Wow. I guess Capitalism would tally the cost of educating one student and, of course education here in the US is now just another commodity, but the look of wonder in my Sister’s eyes was priceless!
Another woman showed me her perfect teeth in a huge grin. She told me that her teeth used to be so bad, that she would never smile before, but now, due to her new set of false teeth provided by the national dental program, she walks around grinning like a lunatic all day, which made me laugh with joy! Again, Capitalism would say: One set of false teeth equals X amount of dollars. I say, being able to smile after years of embarrassing humiliation is worth more than any amount of gold.
Those are just two stories out of millions and my heart breaks with sorrow for the People of the Bolivarian Revolution that must be even more devastated than I, today.
I witnessed Chavez the proud “abuelo” (grandpa) once on a long flight from Caracas to Montevideo that I took with them. We chatted about out “nietos” (grandchildren) and felt a mutual connection there. I hugged my grandbabies a little harder today when I found out that Chavez died, because I know the wonderful connection that he had with his. My heart breaks for his children and his family, and his brother, Adan, who seemed to be constantly at his side. It’s just a very hard day.
I was with Chavez in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the presidential inauguration of Felipé Mujica. I was amazed that Chavez could just plunge into the crowds and interact with the people without a phalanx of bodyguards, anti-aircraft missiles and assault weapons. His security detail was prepared, but not paranoid like up here in the Empire. Someone who is universally loved by the 99% need have no fear. Chavez had no fear.
Chavez’s courageous battle against the Empire was more successful than his battle against cancer. Chavez was able to inspire more leftist leaders in Latin America and my friends in Cuba will always be grateful for the friendship between Venezuela and Cuba. The struggle against neo-liberalism and the Empire has been far advanced under Chavez’s inspirational leadership.
This is a sad day and I am angry that the so-called leaders of my own country made Chavez’s life a virtual hell, but he survived one coup attempt and the many other attempts through the media and financing of his opposition to undermine the revolution.
When in the hell is this country going to mind it’s own goddamn business and realize that not every drop of oil belongs to our oil companies and not every democratically elected leader must pledge undying obsequiousness to the Evil Empire?
I am immensely proud of Chavez and I am immensely proud of the people of Venezuela who have worked with him to improve their lives and because they really understand the concept of “national sovereignty.”
I know the upper echelons of The Empire think they have won a victory today (if it didn’t give Chavez his cancer in the first place—don’t even start and say I am a “conspiracy theorist” everyone knows that the Empire is fully capable of it, they couldn’t kill him, or depose him, outright) and all the oil will now flow back into the hands of our big oil companies, but The Empire underestimates the people of Venezuela and their dedication to the Bolivarian Revolution and love for their leader, Hugo Chavez.
As we sorrowfully say, “vaya con la paz” to our Brother, Hugo Chavez, let’s also say, “long live the revolution.”
Chavez will never die if we honor his vision and continue our struggle against The Empire.
US Presidents come and go with destructive, yet boring and predictable regularity and are numbered for History’s convenience when they should all have had black and white striped clothing and be behind bars. However, it is my belief that Hugo Chavez Frias will go down in World History as one of the most significant figures of the early 21st Century and his passing is a tragic and profound loss to us all, as his life was an inspiration.
A-dios, Señor Esperanza.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. Your light is far too bright to be extinguished by something as cruel as death and your light shines in all of us whose hearts burn with revolution and love for all the people.
My life and our world are far better today because of your life and the struggle continues until victory! 

HUMANITY HAS LOST A DEAR FRIEND WITH THE PASSING OF STÉPHANE HESSEL


A Holocaust survivor who truly lived the mantra Never Again
TO ANYONE!
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 Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries
Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. The French president, François Hollande, said of Hessel: ‘He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.’ Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty

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Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95

Hessel, resistance fighter, diplomat, writer of Time for Outrage! and co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dies
By Kim Willsher for The Guardian
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The story of the French author Stéphane Hessel’s long and extraordinary life reads like a Boy’s Own adventure.

From his childhood in Berlin and then Paris, where he was brought up by his writer and translator father, journalist mother and her lover in an unusual ménage à trois, to his worldwide celebrity at the age of 93, when a political pamphlet he wrote became a bestselling publishing sensation and inspired global protest and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And then there was everything in between: his escape from two Nazi concentration camps where he had been tortured and sentenced to death, his escapades with the French resistance and his hand in drawing up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, just a week after his last big interview was published, Hessel’s long and extraordinary life came to an end. He was 95 years old, but as one French magazine remarked: “Stéphane Hessel, dead? It’s hard to believe. He seemed to have become eternal, the grand and handsome old man.”

Le Point magazine added that the man with an “old-fashioned politeness and elegance from another age” had “danced” with the best part of a century.

“When one is received by the world in television studios, when one writes bestsellers, when one has baptised an international mobilisation movement, does one still die?” the magazine asked.

In 2010, when most people are winding down and after a long career as a diplomat, Hessel’s life took yet another dramatic turn when his 48-page pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. It was translated into English as Time for Outrage.

The work was originally written as a speech to commemorate the resistance to Hitler’s occupation of France during the second world war. It served as a rallying cry for those appalled by the gap between the world’s rich and poor.

Hessel said afterwards he aimed to imbue French youth with the same passion and fervour as had existed in the resistance. He compared the 21st-century struggle against what he described as the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” to his generation’s struggle against oppression as a young man during the war.

His wife, Christiane Hessel-Chabry, told France’s AFP news agency on Wednesday, that the writer had died overnight. No other details were given.

The French president, François Hollande, said Hessel was an “a huge figure whose exceptional life was devoted to the defence of human dignity”.

“It was in pursuit of his values that he engaged in the resistance,” he added, concluding: “He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.”

The French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, also paid tribute to Hessel, whom he described as “a man who was engaged” and who was the incarnation of the “resistance spirit”.

“For all generations he was a source of inspiration, but also a reference. At 95 years, he epitomised the faith in the future of a new century,” Ayrault said.

As a committed European and supporter of the left, he was behind the Socialist François Hollande’s successful presidential election bid last year. On Wednesday after news of his death broke, French politicians lined up to express their admiration, respect and sadness.

Hessel was born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1917, the son of a journalist and a writer. The family moved to France when Hessel was eight and he took French nationality in the late 1930s, having passed his baccalauréat at the young age of 15.

His parents’ unusual living arrangement was said to have inspired the celebrated François Truffaut film Jules et Jim.

The young Hessel refused to follow Marshal Philippe Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government and fled to London, where he joined General Charles de Gaulle’s resistance fighters. As a prominent figure in the resistance, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and deported to Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps, where he suffered waterboarding torture. He escaped being executed at Buchenwald by exchanging identities with a prisoner who had died of typhus, and later escaped from Dora during a transfer to the Bergen-Belsen death camp. After fleeing his German guards, he met advancing American troops.

After the war, he worked with the US first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in editing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Time for Outrage! argued that the French needed to become as outraged now as his fellow fighters had been during the war. He was highly critical of France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and passionate about the environment, a free press and France’s welfare system. His call was for peaceful, non-violent insurrection.

During the eurozone crisis, one of the names given to the protests against austerity programmes and corruption in Spain was Los Indignados, taken from the title of Hessel’s work. These protests, along with the Arab spring uprisings, inspired protests in other countries and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

“The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint,” Hessel said in an interview a year ago.

“This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but to change the way they deal with people’s needs.”

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On Occupy Wall Street

From Democracy Now

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As the Occupy Wall Street movement expands across the United States, drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring and the protests in Spain, Democracy Now! spoke with former French Resistance fighter, Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet-length book, Time for Outrage, helped inspire some of these uprisings. His book has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 10 languages, with several more planned. Hessel, 93 years old, has occupied many positions in his life: immigrant, French Resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, diplomat, advocate and author. He joined the French Resistance during World War II, was caught by the Gestapo and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. He escaped during transfer to Bergen-Belsen and later helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then became an honorary “Ambassador of France,” appointed to special government missions. He has since been a fierce advocate of the Palestinians. Democracy Now!’s Juan Gonzalez interviewed Hessel earlier this month. 

“You must find the things that you will not accept, that will outrage you. And these things, you must be able to fight against nonviolently, peacefully, but determinedly,” Hessel says, noting his support for the Occupy Wall Street encampment. “They’re there determined to see that their values are to be respected.”

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Speaking at the Russell Tribunal in New York City this past October
Photo © by Bud Korotzer
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SONY DSC
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Palestine loses a friend and supporter …
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The Russell Tribunal on Palestine mourns the passing of Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel, author of the bestseller « Time for outrage »,
French ambassador, human rights’ advocate and great philosopher, died
last night at the age of 95.


The Russell Tribunal on palestine (RToP) mourns the passing of its
honorary president and huge supporter.


Pierre Galand, RToP general coordinator says :
« The Tribunal has always ben his project, and he was its soul as he
has always inspired us with his ideas and supported us with concrete
gestures. He would have participated in the last session of the
Tribunal, in Brussels on 16 and 17 March, but now that he’s passed
away we will pay him the tribute he deserves. With his death, we loss
a last eye-witness of the drafting of the Human Rights’ declaration.
If the World loses a great personality and a distinguished
intellectual and activist, at a personal level, I will miss him as a
comrade and a friend ». 

In all sessions of the RToP held in Barcelona, London, Cape Town and
New York, Hessel has denounced the outragious  complicity of third
parties in the continuous violation of the Palestinian people’s rights
and the failure by Israel to comply with the international law. He’s
also called on individuals and organisations around the World to put
pressure on the international community so that politicians and
decision-makers adopt all possible measures to reach peace in the
Middle East and enforce the existing sanctions on those countries
which don’t comply with UN resolutions.


On 18 February 2013, Stéphane Hessel gave a last interview on his
involvement in the RToP. The interview will be published in a book by
the French publisher Editions de L’Herne, due out in mid March. You
can read the interview at this link (French only).


FBI CRACKDOWN ON OCCUPY MOVEMENT

“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”
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How the FBI Coordinated the Crackdown on Occupy

By Naomi Wolf

 

 

New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

t was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves -was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:

“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”

Verheyden-Hilliard points out the close partnering of banks, the New York Stock Exchange and at least one local Federal Reserve with the FBI and DHS, and calls it “police-statism”:

“This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement … These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

The documents show stunning range: in Denver, Colorado, that branch of the FBI and a “Bank Fraud Working Group” met in November 2011 – during the Occupy protests – to surveil the group. The Federal Reserve of Richmond, Virginia had its own private security surveilling Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace and passing privately-collected information on activists back to the Richmond FBI, which, in turn, categorized OWS activities under its “domestic terrorism” unit. The Anchorage, Alaska “terrorism task force” was watching Occupy Anchorage. The Jackson, Michigan “joint terrorism task force” was issuing a “counterterrorism preparedness alert” about the ill-organized grandmas and college sophomores in Occupy there. Also in Jackson, Michigan, the FBI and the “Bank Security Group” – multiple private banks – met to discuss the reaction to “National Bad Bank Sit-in Day” (the response was violent, as you may recall). The Virginia FBI sent that state’s Occupy members’ details to the Virginia terrorism fusion center. The Memphis FBI tracked OWS under its “joint terrorism task force” aegis, too. And so on, for over 100 pages.

Jason Leopold, at Truthout.org, who has sought similar documents for more than a year, reported that the FBI falsely asserted in response to his own FOIA requests that no documents related to its infiltration of Occupy Wall Street existed at all. But the release may be strategic: if you are an Occupy activist and see how your information is being sent to terrorism task forces and fusion centers, not to mention the “longterm plans” of some redacted group to shoot you, this document is quite the deterrent.

There is a new twist: the merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI means that any of us can become WikiLeaks, a point that Julian Assange was trying to make in explaining the argument behind his recent book. The fusion of the tracking of money and the suppression of dissent means that a huge area of vulnerability in civil society – people’s income streams and financial records – is now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.

Remember that only 10% of the money donated to WikiLeaks can be processed – because of financial sector and DHS-sponsored targeting of PayPal data. With this merger, that crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a “terrorist organization” and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.

Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.

 

Source

 

DAY THREE AT OCCUPY WALL STREET

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Occupying Rosh Hashanah

By Ari Paul

Jeanette Friedman looked over the crowd of hundreds of Occupy Wall Street supporters in Zuccotti Park on the evening of  and all she could do was gush about her son.

“I can’t believe how many people are here,” she shouted to her boy, Dan Sieradski, who was helping to lead a Rosh Hashanah service the night before the one-year anniversary of the movement’s birth. Once derided as a quixotic endeavor, Occupy is now credited by many with helping to reinvent social justice activism in America for the 21st century.

Sieradski said it was “fortuitous” that the first anniversary would fall on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. In fact, the Occupy Faith contingent of OWS worked with the main planners of the Sept. 17 actions, which was to include civil disobedience in the financial district, to allot time for the New Year’s service the night before, so that it would not overlap with any other protests or actions.

“The organizers understand how important this, that this a holiday that deserves respect,” said Tammy Shapiro, an OWS organizer.

For the social justice-minded Jews of OWS, the opportunity to mark the beginning of year 5773 on the Jewish calendar and Year Two of the movement was perfect.

“In Shemot Rabbah we learn if all the troubles were placed on one side and poverty on the other, poverty would outweigh them all,” Sieradski told the assembled crowd. “Exodus Rabbah says there is nothing more grievous than poverty.”

Pointing to the Jewish teaching that saving one life is equal to “saving a world,” Sieradski went on: “That makes 46.2 million worlds to save in the U.S. alone.”

He jumped to labor rights by saying, “The Talmud says whoever withholds an employee’s wages, it’s as though they took that person’s life from them. And yet, we import cheap labor, export jobs overseas to sweatshops, resist minimum wage laws and attack workers’ collective bargaining rights.”

Sieradski spoke about how the injustices of our financial system aren’t necesarily carried out by “outright thieves,” quoting Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto and invoking firms like Goldman Sachs and the now-defunct Bear Stearns. He said that many people “get a taste of stealing when they permit themselves to make an unfair profit at the expense of another.”

He added, “Will their sins be overlooked for their sizable contributions to charity? No, says the Rambam. A mitzvah that is done by committing a sin is not a mitzvah.”

The intersection of faith and opposition to corporate excess has been vital to the OWS movement. Episcopal Bishop George Packard was arrested with other OWS activists in December for trespassing onto property owned by Trinity Church. In battling the charges, he along with Catholic priest and peace activist Daniel Berrigan and author Chris Hedges questioned the church’s prioritizing its investment in Manhattan real estate over Jesus Christ’s teachings humility and commitment to the poor.

Likewise, the Jews involved in the OWS movement have been quick to point to passages and teachings that align closer to those of labor than of the bankers many of whom, as some have pointed out, are themselves Jewish.

“We know what to do, since the time of Isaiah. What needs to happen is justice,” said Aaron Katz, who came to the Zuccotti Park service. “I think anything that strives for justice, anything to improve the human condition is inherently spiritual, because man is a spiritual being.”

Looking 10 days forward, Katz spoke about a passage Jews read during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, at the point of the fast when the pain of the hunger is at its height. “God doesn’t want your fast, God wants justice,” he said. “What really matters is to clothe the poor and the homeless and to support the orphan and the widow.”

OWS, which has its fair share of left-wing socialists and radicals, could easily be classified as atheistic or at the very least humanistic and secular. But organizers saw that Jews and non-Jews in OWS were eager to take part in the Rosh Hashanah convergence. There were only a few brief disruptions from a handful anti-religious activists during the service, including a lone activist who shows up to OWS events preaching the virtues of the Chinese Communist Party.

“By no means do I think faith is not respected,” Shapiro said of OWS in general. “There’s been so much support.”

While many OWS protesters had anticipated confrontations with the police on the anniversary of OWS there were no legal snags in pulling off the Rosh Hashanah service. During the service, Rakia Chandler reminded the crowd that all people are created in God’s divine image.

She added to that remark, sparking chuckles: “Even the police.”

Source

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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Defending the bull… ;)
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OCCUPY WALL STREET ~~ DAY TWO OF CELEBRATION/PROTESTS

 From Vaz
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music by Frankie Rose
Monday in NYC
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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