The Turkish Uprising: What’s happening in Turkey right now
March 14, 2014

A fresh new wave of protests is rocking Turkey, as tens of thousands march on the streets to demonstrate against the government. But unlike what’s going on in Ukraine and Venezuela, the protests in Turkey mark a second, renewed round of protests that began last summer. 

Protests began with the death of a teenager named Berkin Elvan, who was in a nine-month coma after being injured during last year’s government rallies. Thousands attended his funeral in Istanbul and marched in the streets afterwards.

Tens of thousands are also protesting across Turkey, especially in big cities such as Ankara and Izmir. 

The government’s response has been to send riot police to clash with the protesters. The tactics have mostly been restricted to tear gas, water cannons and beatings. It seems that police may have forgotten that’s how Elvan died — he suffered a head injury when he was hit in the head with a tear gas canister. He was passing by the protests to go buy bread for his family.

On Wednesday, a protester died from a head injury while a police officer also passed away from a heart attack.

Around 36 children were arrested in Ankara for protesting on the streets. Over a hundred people were also arrested in Izmir. Students across the country are also organizing school boycotts and sit-ins.

Elvan’s death marks the eighth casualty resulting from last year’s protests. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has yet to comment on Elvan’s death.

Protests began last year over the development of Gezi Park in Istanbul, although it quickly spread into a widespread anti-government demonstration.

Turkey will hold local elections on Mar. 30. Erdogan has promised to step down if his ruling AK Party loses power.

Source

Sow hunger, reap anger: Why Bosnia is burning - Privatization, unemployment at the heart of protests
February 9, 2014

Bosnia-Herzegovina finally emerged from the sidelines, once again as a country in flames. On February 5, laid off workers of the recently privatized factories of the industrial city of Tuzla, the third largest in Bosnia-Herzegovina, took to the streets to claim their healthcare and pension payments, to get their 50 months’ back pay, and to demand the government to fight youth unemployment, whose rate in Bosnia-Herzegovina ramped up to 60%.

The protests, organized by the local trade unions and the association of unemployed of the canton, and announced by the Facebook page “50.000 people for a better tomorrow”, were joined by students and citizens, who stood in front of the cantonal court building before moving towards the cantonal government building with the intention to enter its premises. Pushed back violently by the police, protesters started to hurl eggs and stones against the building’s wall, while the riot police — intending to secure the entrances of the cantonal building — reacted with teargas and rubber bullets. The town of Tuzla was completely blocked, and at the end of the day 27 people were reported arrested, while another 23 were injured.

Since the workers did not give up, two more days of unrest followed. Within days, six rallies in solidarity with Tuzla’s workers were organized across Bosnia-Herzegovina, in both of the semi-autonomous entities that compose the country since the end of the war: Republika Srpska, the predominantly Serb entity, and the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Bosniak-Croat entity. However, while the gathering in Banja Luka, the capital of the Serbian entity, followed a pacific path, in Zenica, Mostar and Sarajevo the protests were transformed into an urban guerrilla.

After the governmental building of Tuzla was set on fire, and the head of canton Sead Čaušević resigned, on the third day of unrest even the cantonal government of another industrial town, Zenica, was torched, and its premier resigned as well. That very same day, in the ethnically-divided city of Mostar, both the town hall and the cantonal building were set ablaze, together with the headquarters of the two main nationalist parties, the Croat HDZ and the Bosniak SDA. In the capital, Sarajevo, the presidential building, hosting the national archives, and the cantonal and the town council became the target of the rage; symbols of a corrupted and incompetent political class that has been plundering the country since the end of the last war. In Sarajevo, at first, police reacted with stun grenades and rubber bullets, and clashes were reported in the Skenderija area.

Although at this time analysis and debates revolve around the violent turn the protests took, it is worth taking a step back to where and why the protests surfaced to begin with. Tuzla, the “salty ground”, had an industrial vocation since the Austro-Hungarian times. The multi-ethnic town, a crossroads of different peoples, is known for being a stronghold of the (allegedly multi-ethnic) Social Democratic Party. The largest factories in the area, nationalized under the socialist system, underwent a process of privatization after the war, which resulted in their bankruptcy and consequent job loss for most of the workers.

After the 2007 privatization of the detergent factory DITA, its major owner — heavily indebted with bank loans — did not pay any pension funds and health insurance to the workers, and, although he was sued, cannot be prosecuted owing to his alleged inability to appear in court*. Following the closure of their firm, in December 2012 the workers of DITA — a giant that before the war guaranteed 1.400 working places — chose not to go on strike but rather to start pickets outside the factory. Today, after more than one year of protests and hunger, eventually the world got to know about their grievances.

The workers of Tuzla are just a symptom of the economic collapse of the country, whose administrative and political system — imposed from without — has never worked. Their collective outrage put the question of political economy back on the Bosnian agenda, while politicians tried to hide the economic conditions of the country by playing the ethnic card. With an overall unemployment rate close to 28%, endemic corruption and an inefficient legal system, the workers of Tuzla demonstrated that precariousness as a result of the neoliberal privatization of their firms, affects all sectors of society.

Full article
Photos 

Twenty years after the 1994 uprising, Zapatistas continue to influence continent-wide cycle of struggle
January 1, 2014

For the past twenty years since the Zapatista uprising on January 1st, 1994, social movements in Latin America have championed one of the most intense and extensive cycles of struggle in the world. Ever since the 1989 Caracazo, uprisings, insurrections and mobilizations have encompassed the whole region, delegitimized the neoliberal model, and recognized those from below — organized into movements — as central actors of social change.

Zapatismo was part of this wave in the 1990s and soon became one of the inescapable referents of Latin American resistance, even amongst those who do not share their proposals and forms of action. It is almost impossible to make a full list of what the movements have realized in these two decades. We can only review a handful of significant acts: the piquetero struggle in Argentina (1997-2002), the indigenous and popular uprisings in Ecuador, the Peruvian mobilizations that forced Fujimori’s resignation, and the 1999 Paraguayan March that led Lino Oviedo to seek exile after a military coup.

In the next decade we had the formidable response of the Venezuelan people to the 2002 right-wing coup, the three Bolivian “wars” between 2000 and 2005 (one about water and two about gas) that erased the neoliberal right from the political map, the impressive struggle of the Amazonian Indians in Bagua (Peru) in 2009, the resistance of Guatemalan communities to mining, the Oaxaca commune in 2006, and the mobilization of Paraguayan peasantry in 2002 against privatization.

In the last three years, a new layer was added to the movements that could suggest a new cycle of struggles, including the mobilization of Chilean secondary students, the community resistance to the Conga mining enterprise in northern Peru, the growing resistance to mining, fumigations and Monsanto in Argentina, the defense of TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure) in Bolivia, and the resistance to the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil.

In 2013 alone, we had the Colombian agrarian strike that was capable of uniting all rural sectors (campesinos, indigenous and cane cutters) against the free trade agreement with the United States, as well as the June mobilizations in Brazil against the ferocious extraction of labor for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

This series of mobilizations that have sprouted throughout Latin America for the past two decades positively indicate that grassroots movements are alive across the region. Many of them are carriers of a new political culture and a new form of political organization, which is reflected in multiple ways and which is different from what we knew in the 1960s and 1970s.

Some of the movements, from the Chilean secondary school students and the Zapatista communities, to the Guardians of the Conga Lakes, the Venezuela Settlers’ Movement and the Movimento Livre Passe (MPT) of Brazil, reveal some common characteristics that are worth noting.

The first is the massive and exceptional participation of the youth and of women. As vulnerable victims of capitalist exploitation, their presence revitalizes anti-capitalist struggles because they can be directly involved in the movement. Ultimately, it is they — those who have nothing to lose —  who give movements an intransigent radical character.

Secondly, a unique political culture is gaining ground, which the Zapatistas have synthesized in the expression “governing by obeying” (mandar obedeciendo). Those who care for the lakes in Peru — the heirs of peasant patrols (rondas campesinas) – obey their communities. The young activists of the MPL in Brazil make decisions by consensus in order to avoid consolidating a majority, and they explicitly reject the “loudspeaker cars” that union bureaucracies used to impose control on their marches.

Another common feature to these movements is the project of autonomy and horizontality, words that only started being used 20 years ago but which have already been fully incorporated into the political language of those involved in the various struggles. Activists claim autonomy from the state and political parties, as well as horizontality — the collective leadership of the movement rather than that of any individual. For instance, members of the Coordinating Assembly of Secondary Students (ACES, its initials in Spanish) of Chile function horizontally, with a collective leadership and an assembly.

The fourth characteristic is the predominance of flows over structures. The organization adapts itself and is subordinate to the movement; it is not frozen into a structure that conditions the collective with its own separate interests. The collectives that struggle are similar to communities in resistance, in which all run similar risks and where the division of labor is adjusted according to the objectives that the group outlines at every given moment.

In this new layer of organization, it is difficult to distinguish who the leaders are — not because referents and spokespersons do not exist, but rather because the difference between leaders and followers diminishes as the collective leadership of those from below increases. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the new political culture that has been expanding over the course of the past two decades.

Finally, Zapatismo is a political and ethical referent — not so much indicating a direction for these movements, but rather serving as an example from which to take inspiration. Multiple dialogues are taking place among all the various Latin American movements, not in the style of formal and structured gatherings, but as direct exchanges of knowledge and experience between activist networks: precisely the kind of exchange that we need in order to strengthen our struggle against the system.

Source

Moroccan unemployed graduates protest over budget cuts
October 7, 2013

Thousands of unemployed graduates marched through Morocco’s capital Rabat on Sunday demanding jobs in the public sector, weeks before parliament is due to debate planned budget cuts.

Morocco’s Islamist-led government, already under pressure from international lenders to reduce spending, is trying to push through sensitive cuts to state salaries and fuel and food subsidies.

Unemployed graduates have protested in small numbers for years, but Sunday’s anti-austerity march was the first to bring together disparate groups including leftists, the Islamist opposition and union activists in such large numbers.

"We know the government plans more austerity cuts, but we have started to get the opposition’s support. That would help us to apply more pressure," said Azougagh, a protest organizer.

Analysts say the government may be vulnerable in pushing its reforms because King Mohammed is keen to avoid a return to 2011 pro-democracy protests.

The palace stifled those protests with harsh policing, heavy public spending and limited constitutional reforms.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane of the Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD) is struggling to form a new government after a conservative junior coalition partner quit in July due partly to disagreements over the reforms.

Source

We stand behind the Syrian people’s revolution: NO to foreign interventionSeptember 1, 2013
Over 150 thousand were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).
Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice.
The only exception was some Gulf countries, more specifically Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, their aim was to control the nature of the conflict and steer it in a sectarian direction, distorting the Syrian revolution and aiming to abort it, as a reflection of their deepest fear that the revolutionary flame will reach their shores. So they backed obscurantist takfiri groups, coming, for the most part, from the four corners of the world, to impose a grotesque vision for rule based on Islamic sharia. These groups were engaged, time and time again, in terrifying massacres against Syrian citizens who opposed their repressive measures and aggressions inside areas under their control or under attack, such as the recent example of villages in the Latakia countryside.
A large block of hostile forces, from around the world, is conspiring against the Syrian people’s revolution, which erupted in tandem with the uprisings spreading through a large section of the Arab region and the Maghreb for the past three years. The people’s uprisings aimed to put an end to a history of brutality, injustice, and exploitation and attain the rights to freedom, dignity, and social justice.
However, this did not only provoke local brutal dictatorships, but also most of the imperialist forces seeking to perpetuate the theft of the wealth of our people, in addition to the various reactionary classes and forces throughout those areas and in surrounding countries.
As for Syria, the alliance fighting against the people’s revolution comprises a host of reactionary sectarian forces, spearheaded by Iran and confessional militias in Iraq, and, to much regret, Hezbollah’s strike force, which is drowning in the quagmire of defending a profoundly corrupt and criminal dictatorial regime.
This unfortunate situation has also struck a major section of the traditional Arab left with Stalinist roots, whether in Syria itself or in Lebanon, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab region – and worldwide – which is clearly biased towards the wretched alliance surrounding the Assad regime. The justification is that some see it as a “resilient” or even a “resistance” regime, despite its long history – throughout its existence in power – of protecting the Zionist occupation of the Golan Heights, its constant bloody repression of various groups resisting Israel, be it Palestinian or Lebanese (or Syrian), and remaining idle and subservient, since the October 1973 war, concerning Israel’s aggressions on Syrian territories. This bias will have serious ramifications on ordinary Syrians’ position regarding the left in general.
The United Nations and the Security Council, in particular, was unable to condemn the crimes of a regime, which the Syrian people rejected continuously and peacefully for more than seven months, while the bullets of the snipers and shabbiha took demonstrators one by one and day after day and while the most influential activists were being detained and subjected to the worst kinds of torture and elimination in the prisons and detention centers. All the while, the world remained completely silent and in a state of total negativity.
The situation persisted with small difference after the people in revolution decided to take up arms and the emergence of what became known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – whose command and soldiers came, to a large extent, from the regular army. This led to the horrific escalation of crimes by the regime.
Russian imperialism, the most important ally of the Baathist regime in Damascus, which provides it with all sorts of support, remains on the lookout to block any attempt to condemn those crimes in the Security Council. The United States, on the other hand, does not find a real problem in the continuation of the status quo, with all the apparent repercussions and destruction of the country. This is despite the threats and intimidation utilized by the US president, every time someone in the opposition raises the question of the use of chemical weapons by the regime, up until the latest escalation, when it was considered crossing a “red line.”
It is clear that Obama, who gives the impression that he will go ahead with his threats, would have felt great embarrassment if he did not do so, since it will not only impact negatively on the president, but also on the image of the mighty and arrogant state that he leads in the eyes of subservient Arab countries and the entire world.
The imminent strike against the Syrian armed forces is led by the US in essence. However, it occurs with the understanding and cooperation of allied imperialist countries, even without rationalizing it through the usual farce, known as international legitimacy (namely the decisions of the UN, which was and remains representative of the interests of major powers, whether in conflict or in alliance, depending on the circumstances, differences, and balances among them). In other words, the strike will not wait for the Security Council due to the anticipated Russian-Chinese veto.
Unfortunately, many in the Syrian opposition are gambling on this strike and the US position in general. They believe this would create an opportunity for them to seize power, skipping over the movement and of the masses and their independent decision. It should not be a surprise, then, that the representatives of this opposition and the FSA had no reservations on providing information to the US about proposed targets for the strike.
In all cases, we agree on the following:
The western imperialist alliance will strike several positions and vital parts of the military and civilian infrastructure in Syria (with several casualties, as usual). However, as it was keen to announce, the strikes will not be meant to topple the regime. They are merely intended to punish, in Obama’s words, the current Syrian leadership and save face for the US administration, after all the threats concerning the use of chemical weapons.
The US president’s intentions to punish the Syrian leadership does not stem, in any way or form, from Washington’s solidarity with the suffering of children who fell in the Ghouta massacres, but from its commitment to what Obama calls the vital interests of the US and its homeland security, in addition to Israel’s interests and security.
The Syrian army and its regional allies, led by the Iranian regime, will not have enough courage, most probably, to fulfil what seemed to be threats by their senior officials that any western attack on Syria will ignite the entire region. But this option remains on the table, as a final option with catastrophic results.
The imminent western imperialist assault does not intend to support the Syrian revolution in any way. It will aim to push Damascus into the bargaining table and allow Bashar al-Assad to retreat from the foreground, but keeping the regime in place, while greatly improving conditions to strengthen the position of US imperialism in the future Syria against Russian imperialism.
The more those participating in the continuing popular mobilization – who are more aware, principled, and dedicated to the future of Syria and its people – realize these facts, their consequences, results, and act accordingly, the more this will contribute to aiding the Syrian people to successfully pick a true revolutionary leadership. In the process of a committed struggle based on the current and future interests of their people, this would produce a radical program consistent with those interests, which could be promoted and put into practice on the road to victory.
No to all forms of imperialist intervention, whether by the US or Russia.
No to all forms of reactionary sectarian interventions, whether by Iran or the Gulf countries.
No to the intervention of Hezbollah, which warrants the maximum of condemnation.
Down with all illusions about the imminent US military strike.
Break open the arms depots for the Syrian people to struggle for freedom, dignity, and social justice.
Victory to a free democratic Syria and down with the Assad dictatorship and all dictatorships forever.
Long live the Syrian people’s revolution.
–Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt) – Revolutionary Left Current (Syria) – Union of Communists (Iraq) – Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco) – Socialist Forum (Lebanon)
Source

We stand behind the Syrian people’s revolution: NO to foreign intervention
September 1, 2013

Over 150 thousand were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).

Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice.

The only exception was some Gulf countries, more specifically Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, their aim was to control the nature of the conflict and steer it in a sectarian direction, distorting the Syrian revolution and aiming to abort it, as a reflection of their deepest fear that the revolutionary flame will reach their shores. So they backed obscurantist takfiri groups, coming, for the most part, from the four corners of the world, to impose a grotesque vision for rule based on Islamic sharia. These groups were engaged, time and time again, in terrifying massacres against Syrian citizens who opposed their repressive measures and aggressions inside areas under their control or under attack, such as the recent example of villages in the Latakia countryside.

A large block of hostile forces, from around the world, is conspiring against the Syrian people’s revolution, which erupted in tandem with the uprisings spreading through a large section of the Arab region and the Maghreb for the past three years. The people’s uprisings aimed to put an end to a history of brutality, injustice, and exploitation and attain the rights to freedom, dignity, and social justice.

However, this did not only provoke local brutal dictatorships, but also most of the imperialist forces seeking to perpetuate the theft of the wealth of our people, in addition to the various reactionary classes and forces throughout those areas and in surrounding countries.

As for Syria, the alliance fighting against the people’s revolution comprises a host of reactionary sectarian forces, spearheaded by Iran and confessional militias in Iraq, and, to much regret, Hezbollah’s strike force, which is drowning in the quagmire of defending a profoundly corrupt and criminal dictatorial regime.

This unfortunate situation has also struck a major section of the traditional Arab left with Stalinist roots, whether in Syria itself or in Lebanon, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab region – and worldwide – which is clearly biased towards the wretched alliance surrounding the Assad regime. The justification is that some see it as a “resilient” or even a “resistance” regime, despite its long history – throughout its existence in power – of protecting the Zionist occupation of the Golan Heights, its constant bloody repression of various groups resisting Israel, be it Palestinian or Lebanese (or Syrian), and remaining idle and subservient, since the October 1973 war, concerning Israel’s aggressions on Syrian territories. This bias will have serious ramifications on ordinary Syrians’ position regarding the left in general.

The United Nations and the Security Council, in particular, was unable to condemn the crimes of a regime, which the Syrian people rejected continuously and peacefully for more than seven months, while the bullets of the snipers and shabbiha took demonstrators one by one and day after day and while the most influential activists were being detained and subjected to the worst kinds of torture and elimination in the prisons and detention centers. All the while, the world remained completely silent and in a state of total negativity.

The situation persisted with small difference after the people in revolution decided to take up arms and the emergence of what became known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – whose command and soldiers came, to a large extent, from the regular army. This led to the horrific escalation of crimes by the regime.

Russian imperialism, the most important ally of the Baathist regime in Damascus, which provides it with all sorts of support, remains on the lookout to block any attempt to condemn those crimes in the Security Council. The United States, on the other hand, does not find a real problem in the continuation of the status quo, with all the apparent repercussions and destruction of the country. This is despite the threats and intimidation utilized by the US president, every time someone in the opposition raises the question of the use of chemical weapons by the regime, up until the latest escalation, when it was considered crossing a “red line.”

It is clear that Obama, who gives the impression that he will go ahead with his threats, would have felt great embarrassment if he did not do so, since it will not only impact negatively on the president, but also on the image of the mighty and arrogant state that he leads in the eyes of subservient Arab countries and the entire world.

The imminent strike against the Syrian armed forces is led by the US in essence. However, it occurs with the understanding and cooperation of allied imperialist countries, even without rationalizing it through the usual farce, known as international legitimacy (namely the decisions of the UN, which was and remains representative of the interests of major powers, whether in conflict or in alliance, depending on the circumstances, differences, and balances among them). In other words, the strike will not wait for the Security Council due to the anticipated Russian-Chinese veto.

Unfortunately, many in the Syrian opposition are gambling on this strike and the US position in general. They believe this would create an opportunity for them to seize power, skipping over the movement and of the masses and their independent decision. It should not be a surprise, then, that the representatives of this opposition and the FSA had no reservations on providing information to the US about proposed targets for the strike.

In all cases, we agree on the following:

  • The western imperialist alliance will strike several positions and vital parts of the military and civilian infrastructure in Syria (with several casualties, as usual). However, as it was keen to announce, the strikes will not be meant to topple the regime. They are merely intended to punish, in Obama’s words, the current Syrian leadership and save face for the US administration, after all the threats concerning the use of chemical weapons.
  • The US president’s intentions to punish the Syrian leadership does not stem, in any way or form, from Washington’s solidarity with the suffering of children who fell in the Ghouta massacres, but from its commitment to what Obama calls the vital interests of the US and its homeland security, in addition to Israel’s interests and security.
  • The Syrian army and its regional allies, led by the Iranian regime, will not have enough courage, most probably, to fulfil what seemed to be threats by their senior officials that any western attack on Syria will ignite the entire region. But this option remains on the table, as a final option with catastrophic results.
  • The imminent western imperialist assault does not intend to support the Syrian revolution in any way. It will aim to push Damascus into the bargaining table and allow Bashar al-Assad to retreat from the foreground, but keeping the regime in place, while greatly improving conditions to strengthen the position of US imperialism in the future Syria against Russian imperialism.
  • The more those participating in the continuing popular mobilization – who are more aware, principled, and dedicated to the future of Syria and its people – realize these facts, their consequences, results, and act accordingly, the more this will contribute to aiding the Syrian people to successfully pick a true revolutionary leadership. In the process of a committed struggle based on the current and future interests of their people, this would produce a radical program consistent with those interests, which could be promoted and put into practice on the road to victory.

No to all forms of imperialist intervention, whether by the US or Russia.

No to all forms of reactionary sectarian interventions, whether by Iran or the Gulf countries.

No to the intervention of Hezbollah, which warrants the maximum of condemnation.

Down with all illusions about the imminent US military strike.

Break open the arms depots for the Syrian people to struggle for freedom, dignity, and social justice.

Victory to a free democratic Syria and down with the Assad dictatorship and all dictatorships forever.

Long live the Syrian people’s revolution.


Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt) – Revolutionary Left Current (Syria) – Union of Communists (Iraq) – Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco) – Socialist Forum (Lebanon)

Source

What’s happening in Turkey right now by photographer Jenna Pope
July 24, 2013

Photo 1: Turkeys Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) march on Istiklal Street in Istanbul on July 13th to protest a parliamentary bill passed during a midnight vote which strips the TMMOB of the authority to approve construction projects such as the Gezi Park plan. Police also raided the homes of several members of the Chamber and arrested them.

Photo 2: Police raided the apartments of activists and university students on the morning of July 16th, detaining a total of 29 people. That night, the forum in Abbasağa Park planned a march throughout Beşiktaş to demand their release.

Photo 3: People attempt to enter Gezi Park to attend a public wedding but police sealed off the park and pushed people out.

Photo 4: A couple which met several weeks ago planned to have their wedding inside Gezi Park, but 30 minutes before the ceremony police officers sealed off the park and demanded people leave. The police then used their shields to push people out from the park and onto Istiklal Street, where they used water cannons and plastic bullets to disperse the crowd.

Click here for more photos.

neoliberalismkills

fotojournalismus:

Brazil, “National Day Of Struggle” | July 11, 2013 

1. Members of various labour unions take part in a demonstration in front National Congress in Brasilia on July 11, 2013 during a day of strikes and demonstrations called by the country’s five leading labour federations to demand better public services and an end to endemic corruption. (Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images)

2. Striking workers march in Sao Paulo on July 11, 2013. (Andre Penner/AP)

3. Members of various labour unions block a street, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 11, 2013 during a protest to lower public transport rates, to increase public investments in health and education, to reduce working hours and land reform, among other claims. (Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Brazilian Indian Hunikui Ninawa participates in the National Day of Struggle, a march by unionists, in Brasilia on July 11, 2013. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

5. Brazilian workers march in Rio de Janeiro on July 11, 2013. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)

6. Riot police officers stand guard outside the National Theatre in Rio de Janeiro on July 11, 2013 as Brazilian workers march. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

7. Masks of Guy Fawkes are sold in the streets of Rio de Janeiro as Brazilian workers march on July 11, 2013. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

8. Protesters clash with riot police during the “National Day of Strikes, Stoppages and Protests” in downtown of Rio de Janeiro July 11, 2013. (Sergio Moraes/Reuters)

9. A riot police stands next to a fire after clashing with demonstrator during the “National Day of Strikes, Stoppages and Protests” in front of Rio de Janeiro Government Guanabara Palace July 11, 2013. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

10. A man inside a store watches demonstrators set a fire in the street in Rio de Janeiro on July 11, 2013. (Nicolas Tanner/AP)

The next wave of the Egyptian revolution: Egypt army ultimatum deadline passes as hundreds of thousands take to Cairo streets
July 3, 2013

The military ultimatum given to President Mohamed Morsi has passed, as hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets. Morsi previously rejected the deadline, which gave him 48 hours to meet the demands of the people before facing army intervention.

According to some reports, Morsi has until 5pm local time to either form a coalition government or face the prospect of a coup. 

The meeting between Commander-In-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi, and political forces is still ongoing, Al Arabiya reports. The most important issue being discussed is reportedly that of sending reassuring messages to the Brotherhood’s leaders. 

The two sides seem unwilling to budge, with protesters stating that Morsi and his Brotherhood party are pushing an Islamist agenda on Egypt. 

The Brotherhood, on the other hand, says the army’s actions amount to a coup and says that its members are ready to become martyrs to defend the president.

There is only one thing we can do: we will stand in between the tanks and the president," Gehad El-Haddad, the MB official spokesman, told Reuters on Wednesday.

We will not allow the will of the Egyptian people to be bullied again by the military machine.”  

Morsi believes it would be better to die “standing like a tree,” defending the electoral legitimacy of his office, than to go down in history as having destroyed Egyptians’ hopes for democracy, presidential spokesperson Ayman Ali said, as quoted by Reuters. 

Army sources had previously said the army would issue a statement after the deadline expires at about 5 p.m. (1500 GMT) but no time has yet been set for official statements, according to the Facebook page of Egyptian military spokesman Col. Ahmad Muhammad Ali.

At least 39 people have died since anti-Morsi protests began on Sunday. A night of deadly clashes in Cairo on Tuesday night claimed the lives of 23 people, most of whom died in a single incident near Cairo University.

Source

"This is the second wave of the Egyptian Revolution," said Hani Shukrallah, speaking at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago. Shukrallah is one of Egypt’s most respected journalists, who was forced out as editor of the English-language website Ahram Online under pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood.

IN TERMS of sheer numbers, we have not seen this before. This was not just massive numbers in the major cities. It spread out this time into the provincial cities, many of them for the first time. This is especially true in upper Egypt in the South—many of these areas had stayed out of the 2011 revolution and the subsequent protests. Today, everybody’s out in stunning numbers.

We’re talking about millions of people. And they will not go home. They will be there until Morsi resigns.

There’s one story from the protest where reality almost becomes poetic: A pregnant woman and her husband go to Tahrir Square, and she gives birth at dawn on June 30 in a field hospital, and they decide to call the baby Tamarod, or Rebellion. I don’t know how they’ll bring her up with that name, of course—it may be quite a tough time.

Right now, the state and the ruling class are very deeply divided and fractured. So we had demonstrations of police officers in uniform, with their handguns on their side, saying, “Down with Morsi and down with the Muslim Brotherhood”. These are unprecedented scenes—very, very weird.

One message from a friend of mine said that one of the major Internet service providers is providing free wifi access around the presidential palace. She wrote that the capitalists are helping us against the Muslim Brotherhood so that they can screw us later—but that we should use it, so we can screw them later.

When I was up late last night, I was getting the early morning posts of people on the Internet before they went out for the demonstrations. And there was this amazing sense of joy—people saying things like “Good morning revolution.” And at the same time, you had people starting statements with “If I don’t come back…” It was the two things together: joyful, but they knew they were going into something that they might not come back from.

One post on Facebook went like this: Today, for the next 24 hours, there will be the final viewing of the body of the Muslim Brotherhood, deceased at 85 years of age; burial to take place tomorrow. There was that kind of sense of fun—and that’s an aspect of the Egyptian Revolution all along. There was always this humor—sometimes very bitter, sometimes very sharp, sometimes just hilarious.

In Mahalla, an important industrial city in northern Egypt, workers were coming out of the factories and heading out to marches. In 2011, we didn’t see much of that. We saw a lot of strikes in the last week of the revolution, which tilted the balance of forces quite markedly—there were something like 200 strikes within that week. But this time, we have seen marches coming out of the factories and heading toward squares or toward city halls, and occupying them.

In Mahalla, a trade union organizer was talking to Ahram Online, and he told them that not a single Muslim Brotherhood member dares to show his face in Mahalla. And he said that by this afternoon, there would be 1 million workers in the street.

Full article

Hunger strikes spread in 2013 global resistance campaigns – here’s the latest
June 30, 2013

In Occupied Palestine
We recently posted coverage of 170 Eritrean migrants hunger striking in occupied Palestine. Now an additional 230 asylum seekers being held in the Saharonim prison in the south have returned their breakfasts and announced that they are beginning a hunger strike.

More than 1,700 African migrants are jailed in Israel. Most are waiting for their refugee requests to be processed or to file such requests. The migrants can be detained for up to three years without a trial.

At Guantamo Bay
Increasingly brutal tactics are being used in an attempt to break the hunger strike by detainees at Guantánamo Bay, according to fresh testimony from the last British resident still held in the camp. Techniques include making cells “freezing cold” to accentuate the discomfort of those on hunger strike and the introduction of “metal-tipped” feeding tubes, which were forced into inmates’ stomachs twice a day and caused detainees to vomit over themselves.

Although the military initially denied that there was a hunger strike inside Guantanámo, it now concedes that, of the 166 detainees, 104 are on hunger strike and 44 are being force-fed.

In Munich, Germany
Police in Munich moved in early Sunday morning to clear a camp of asylum seekers who have been on hunger strike for a week. Talks broke down late on Saturday night after it emerged the protesters would not be granted residence permits. 

The group, camped out on the city’s central Rindermarkt square, had originally been demanding the right to asylum in Germany but signaled they would be prepared to accept residence permits issued on humanitarian grounds instead. 

When this was not offered to them during negotiations, the group said they would continue the protest. Many said they were prepared to die. 

Doctors had previously warned that many of the protesters were in a critical condition. Forty-four of the protesters were admitted to 12 hospitals, according to city spokesman Stefan Hauf.

In Pontville, Tasmania
The Immigration Department has confirmed a detainee is on a hunger strike at Tasmania’s Pontville Detention Centre, after ABC was contacted by a teenager claiming to be an inmate at the centre.

The 16-year-old from Afghanistan contacted ABC News last night, saying he had been refusing food for four days. He arrived at Christmas Island on a boat seven months ago and has since spent five months in detention at Pontville.

The teenager believes other asylum seekers from the boat have been released and he does not know why he is still in detention.

His condition was very bad and he wanted to draw attention to his case.

In Philadelphia, United States
The fight over public education in Philadelphia escalated last Monday, when two local parents and two school district employees initiated a hunger strike to protest the closure of 23 schools and firing of 3,783 education professionals. The hunger strike is ongoing.

In Nawalparasi, Nepal
Inmates of Parasi prison in Nawalparasi, who began agitating on Friday when they released their seven-point demands, have started a hunger strike today, on Sunday, to apply pressure to the authorities to respond to their demands.

Of the 102 inmates, 78 are on strike. Their demands include: freedom to visit the market, facility of food prepared in the pressure cooker, return of their money stolen by the jail security guard and officials, opportunity to meet their kin on the prison premises freely, and decent food portions. 

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The Turkish Uprising: First-hand experiences from an American photographer by Jenna Pope

"Three days after my trip to Gazi, on the morning of June 11th, police broke through the barricades that protestors had made and entered Taksim Square. As I had been awake all night, I was about to go to bed when I got word of what was happening. I quickly packed up my gear and headed towards the square. On my way, I passed many people who were frantically fleeing the area, coughing as their eyes watered from tear gas that had been deployed as the police entered the area. Many people were yelling at me in Turkish, clearly telling me to go back, but they didn’t realize that I had traveled many miles just to photograph this.

As I entered the square, my eyes stung from lingering tear gas. The police were announcing over loudspeakers that they only planned to remove banners and tents from the square, but did not plan to enter Gezi Park. Not long after, a small group of people began throwing molotov cocktails and rocks at police vehicles from behind a set of barricades. I spoke to many Turkish activists who said they believed this was staged in order to “justify” the actions of the police that day. The protestors found it odd that the police responded with less use of force on this small group of people than they had used during earlier protests. The police ended up using tear gas, water cannons, and plastic bullets on thousands of protestors in both Taksim Square and Gezi Park during clashes that went all day and into the night, lasting for over 20 hours.”

Read more & take a look at more of Jenna’s photos from Turkey. You can also follow on on Facebook for more updates. The photographer says she is planning on going back to Turkey within the next few weeks. 

The Bulgarian uprising largely ignored by the corporate media continues into it’s 8th day
June 23, 2013

For the eighth straight day, tens of thousands of Bulgarians have demonstrated for the government to resign. At least 10,000 people have joined rallies in Sofia nightly since June 14.

On Friday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed concern over political developments and the rule of law in Bulgaria after protests followed the appointment, since withdrawn, of a media mogul as the country’s national security chief. Though the protests began in reaction to that appointment, they have turned into demonstrations against the Socialist-backed government and politicians in general.

"We demand that the oligarchy resign from political office so that Bulgaria can conform to European Union standards," organizers demanded.

Barroso highlighted the appointment of media mogul Delyan Peevski, who lacked experience in security matters, to head of the state agency DANS. The parliament, which had initially approved the appointment, later reversed it unanimously. The European Union has monitored Bulgaria since it joined in 2007 as it works to meeting the bloc’s demands on judicial reform, corruption and organized crime. On Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski’s inaugural trip to Brussels, Barosso said that he urged him to “consult widely on key appointments, especially in the areas of the fight against corruption and organized crime.”

"Some of the recent developments in Bulgaria were not good, and they raised concerns not only in Bulgarian society but among the European partners of Bulgaria," Barroso said. "The candidates chosen should be based on merit, and they should have the highest standards of integrity," he added.

The technocratic prime minister came to power at the head of a Socialist-led government last month after a snap election followed the resignation of the conservative coalition in February. Since then, however, thousands have been demonstrating against corruption and organized crime while the conservatives are boycotting parliament and demanding new elections.

"I will persevere in my efforts to ensure the normalization of the political and public situation in the country," Oresharski pledged, adding that his government took the EU’s recommendations seriously. "We will persevere in our efforts to build the confidence of our partners in the EU," he added.

For his part, Bulgaria’s president praised the protest rallies on Friday, saying that politicians must heed the demonstrators’ demands for reform. “Bulgaria can be proud of this good-natured, democratic protest, which delivers a message to the politicians,” said President Rosen Plevneliev, who holds a largely ceremonial office. “I very much hope they will be heard and that this time the politicians really take responsible, clear and, I would say, brave decisions,” he added.

An opinion poll by Alpha Research published this week found that over 80 percent of Bulgarians support the protests, though respondents split nearly evenly on whether the Cabinet should immediately resign. The poll also found that only 23 percent of respondents approved of the new coalition of the Socialists and the ethnic Turkish MRF party, the lowest level for any government since 1997. About 28 percent of respondents to the June 13-18 survey expressed disapproval.

Protesters have planned further rallies for the weekend.

Source

Brazil hit by largest protests yet as hundreds of thousands march
June 21, 2013

Brazil’s biggest protests in two decades intensified on Thursday despite government concessions meant to quell the demonstrations, as 300,000 people took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and hundreds of thousands more flooded other cities.

Undeterred by the reversal of transport fare hikes that sparked the protests, and promises of better public services, marchers demonstrated around two international soccer matches and in locales as diverse as the Amazon capital of Manaus and the prosperous southern city of Florianopolis.

"Twenty cents was just the start," read signs held by many converging along the Avenida Paulista, the broad avenue in central Sao Paulo, referring to the bus fare reductions.

In the capital, Brasilia, tens of thousands of protesters by early evening marched around the landmark modernist buildings that house Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential offices.

The swelling tide of protests prompted President Dilma Rousseff to cancel a trip next week to Japan, her office said.

The targets of the protests, now in their second week, have broadened to include high taxes, inflation, corruption and poor public services ranging from hospitals and schools to roads and police forces.

With an international soccer tournament as a backdrop, demonstrators are also denouncing the more than $26 billion of public money that will be spent on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, two events meant to showcase a modern, developed Brazil.

After the concession on transport fares on Wednesday, activist groups differed over what their next priority should be. But the competing demands of demonstrators appeared to add to the intensity of Thursday’s protests.

Inside the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, soccer fans sang protest songs and showed support for the throngs of demonstrators gathering in the city. In Salvador, a northeastern city hosting another game of the soccer tournament that serves as a World Cup test run, protesters clashed with police, who fired teargas to disperse crowds.

The unrest comes six months before an election year and at a time when Brazil, after nearly a decade-long economic boom in which the country’s profile soared on the global stage, enters a period of uncertainty. Economic growth of less than 1 percent last year, annual inflation of 6.5 percent and a loss of appetite for Brazilian assets among international investors have clouded what had been a feel-good era for Brazil.

Brazil’s currency, the real, dropped to a four-year low on Thursday, trading as weak as 2.275 per U.S. dollar. The country’s benchmark stock market index, the Bovespa, also hit a four-year low.

Changing political landscape

The protests have shaken the once solid ground under Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party, a bloc that itself grew out of convulsive demonstrations by Brazil’s labor movement 30 years ago. Until inflation and other economic woes began eroding her poll numbers in recent weeks, Rousseff enjoyed some of the highest approval ratings of any elected leader worldwide.

The demonstrations have been largely non-violent and comprised mostly middle-class, well-educated voters who do not form the bulk of Rousseff’s electoral base.

But she and her party have sought to get ahead of the complaints and embrace them as their own - a shift that contrasts sharply with a playbook that long relied on telling Brazilians that they had never had it so good.

With little more than a year to go before presidential and gubernatorial elections, the unrest is forcing incumbents and traditional political parties to reconsider their strategies.

The decision to cut transportation fares illustrates what many analysts consider a reactive and contradictory response by a ruling class caught off guard.

"Were they wrong before or are they wrong now?" asked Carlos Melo, a political scientist at Insper, a business school in Sao Paulo, noting what had been a steadfast refusal to reverse a fare hike.

Source
Photo 1, 2, 3

NSA Prism monitoring activists: Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate & energy shocksJune 15, 2013
Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis - or all three.
Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance”:

"Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances."

Other documents show that the “extraordinary emergencies” the Pentagon is worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.
In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:

"Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response."

Two years later, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Army Modernisation Strategy described the arrival of a new “era of persistent conflict” due to competition for “depleting natural resources and overseas markets” fuelling “future resource wars over water, food and energy.” The report predicted a resurgence of:

"… anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten government stability."

In the same year, a report by the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute warned that a series of domestic crises could provoke large-scale civil unrest. The path to “disruptive domestic shock” could include traditional threats such as deployment of WMDs, alongside “catastrophic natural and human disasters” or “pervasive public health emergencies” coinciding with “unforeseen economic collapse.” Such crises could lead to “loss of functioning political and legal order” leading to “purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency…

"DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance."

That year, the Pentagon had begun developing a 20,000 strong troop force who would be on-hand to respond to “domestic catastrophes” and civil unrest - the programme was reportedly based on a 2005 homeland security strategy which emphasised “preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents.”
The following year, a US Army-funded RAND Corp study called for a US force presence specifically to deal with civil unrest.
Such fears were further solidified in a detailed 2010 study by the US Joint Forces Command - designed to inform “joint concept development and experimentation throughout the Department of Defense” - setting out the US military’s definitive vision for future trends and potential global threats. Climate change, the study said, would lead to increased risk of:

"… tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural catastrophes… Furthermore, if such a catastrophe occurs within the United States itself - particularly when the nation’s economy is in a fragile state or where US military bases or key civilian infrastructure are broadly affected - the damage to US security could be considerable."

The study also warned of a possible shortfall in global oil output by 2015:

"A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions."

That year the DoD’s Quadrennial Defense Review seconded such concerns, while recognising that “climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.”
Also in 2010, the Pentagon ran war games to explore the implications of “large scale economic breakdown" in the US impacting on food supplies and other essential services, as well as how to maintain "domestic order amid civil unrest."
Speaking about the group’s conclusions at giant US defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton’s conference facility in Virginia, Lt Col. Mark Elfendahl - then chief of the Joint and Army Concepts Division - highlighted homeland operations as a way to legitimise the US military budget:

"An increased focus on domestic activities might be a way of justifying whatever Army force structure the country can still afford."

Two months earlier, Elfendahl explained in a DoD roundtable that future planning was needed:

"Because technology is changing so rapidly, because there’s so much uncertainty in the world, both economically and politically, and because the threats are so adaptive and networked, because they live within the populations in many cases."

The 2010 exercises were part of the US Army’s annual Unified Quest programme which more recently, based on expert input from across the Pentagon, has explored the prospect that “ecological disasters and a weak economy” (as the “recovery won’t take root until 2020”) will fuel migration to urban areas, ramping up social tensions in the US homeland as well as within and between “resource-starved nations.”
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a computer systems administrator for Booz Allen Hamilton, where he directly handled the NSA’s IT systems, including the Prism surveillance system. According toBooz Allen’s 2011 Annual Report, the corporation has overseen Unified Quest “for more than a decade” to help “military and civilian leaders envision the future.”
The latest war games, the report reveals, focused on “detailed, realistic scenarios with hypothetical ‘roads to crisis’”, including “homeland operations” resulting from “a high-magnitude natural disaster” among other scenarios, in the context of:

"… converging global trends [which] may change the current security landscape and future operating environment… At the end of the two-day event, senior leaders were better prepared to understand new required capabilities and force design requirements to make homeland operations more effective."

It is therefore not surprising that the increasing privatisation of intelligence has coincided with the proliferation of domestic surveillance operations against political activists, particularly those linked to environmental and social justice protest groups.
Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a “systematic effort” by the agency “to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations” linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).
Similarly, FBI documents confirmed “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector” designed to produce intelligence on behalf of “the corporate security community.” A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends are at play in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy revealed the extent of the state’s involvement in monitoring the environmental direct action movement.
A University of Bath study citing the Kennedy case, and based on confidential sources, found that a whole range of corporations - such as McDonald’s, Nestle and the oil major Shell, "use covert methods to gather intelligence on activist groups, counter criticism of their strategies and practices, and evade accountability."
Indeed, Kennedy’s case was just the tip of the iceberg - internal police documents obtained by the Guardian in 2009 revealed that environment activists had been routinely categorised as “domestic extremists" targeting "national infrastructure" as part of a wider strategy tracking protest groups and protestors.
Superintendent Steve Pearl, then head of the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Nectu), confirmed at that time how his unit worked with thousands of companies in the private sector. Nectu, according to Pearl, was set up by the Home Office because it was “getting really pressured by big business - pharmaceuticals in particular, and the banks.” He added that environmental protestors were being brought “more on the radar.” The programme continues today, despite police acknowledgements that environmentalists have not been involved in “violent acts.”
The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state.
Source

NSA Prism monitoring activists: Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate & energy shocks
June 15, 2013

Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate changeenergy shocks or economic crisis - or all three.

Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance”:

"Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances."

Other documents show that the “extraordinary emergencies” the Pentagon is worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.

In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:

"Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response."

Two years later, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Army Modernisation Strategy described the arrival of a new “era of persistent conflict” due to competition for “depleting natural resources and overseas markets” fuelling “future resource wars over water, food and energy.” The report predicted a resurgence of:

"… anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten government stability."

In the same year, a report by the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute warned that a series of domestic crises could provoke large-scale civil unrest. The path to “disruptive domestic shock” could include traditional threats such as deployment of WMDs, alongside “catastrophic natural and human disasters” or “pervasive public health emergencies” coinciding with “unforeseen economic collapse.” Such crises could lead to “loss of functioning political and legal order” leading to “purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency…

"DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance."

That year, the Pentagon had begun developing a 20,000 strong troop force who would be on-hand to respond to “domestic catastrophes” and civil unrest - the programme was reportedly based on a 2005 homeland security strategy which emphasised “preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents.”

The following year, a US Army-funded RAND Corp study called for a US force presence specifically to deal with civil unrest.

Such fears were further solidified in a detailed 2010 study by the US Joint Forces Command - designed to inform “joint concept development and experimentation throughout the Department of Defense” - setting out the US military’s definitive vision for future trends and potential global threats. Climate change, the study said, would lead to increased risk of:

"… tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural catastrophes… Furthermore, if such a catastrophe occurs within the United States itself - particularly when the nation’s economy is in a fragile state or where US military bases or key civilian infrastructure are broadly affected - the damage to US security could be considerable."

The study also warned of a possible shortfall in global oil output by 2015:

"A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions."

That year the DoD’s Quadrennial Defense Review seconded such concerns, while recognising that “climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.”

Also in 2010, the Pentagon ran war games to explore the implications of “large scale economic breakdown" in the US impacting on food supplies and other essential services, as well as how to maintain "domestic order amid civil unrest."

Speaking about the group’s conclusions at giant US defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton’s conference facility in Virginia, Lt Col. Mark Elfendahl - then chief of the Joint and Army Concepts Division - highlighted homeland operations as a way to legitimise the US military budget:

"An increased focus on domestic activities might be a way of justifying whatever Army force structure the country can still afford."

Two months earlier, Elfendahl explained in a DoD roundtable that future planning was needed:

"Because technology is changing so rapidly, because there’s so much uncertainty in the world, both economically and politically, and because the threats are so adaptive and networked, because they live within the populations in many cases."

The 2010 exercises were part of the US Army’s annual Unified Quest programme which more recently, based on expert input from across the Pentagon, has explored the prospect that “ecological disasters and a weak economy” (as the “recovery won’t take root until 2020”) will fuel migration to urban areas, ramping up social tensions in the US homeland as well as within and between “resource-starved nations.”

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a computer systems administrator for Booz Allen Hamilton, where he directly handled the NSA’s IT systems, including the Prism surveillance system. According toBooz Allen’s 2011 Annual Report, the corporation has overseen Unified Quest “for more than a decade” to help “military and civilian leaders envision the future.”

The latest war games, the report reveals, focused on “detailed, realistic scenarios with hypothetical ‘roads to crisis’”, including “homeland operations” resulting from “a high-magnitude natural disaster” among other scenarios, in the context of:

"… converging global trends [which] may change the current security landscape and future operating environment… At the end of the two-day event, senior leaders were better prepared to understand new required capabilities and force design requirements to make homeland operations more effective."

It is therefore not surprising that the increasing privatisation of intelligence has coincided with the proliferation of domestic surveillance operations against political activists, particularly those linked to environmental and social justice protest groups.

Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a “systematic effort” by the agency “to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations” linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).

Similarly, FBI documents confirmed “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector” designed to produce intelligence on behalf of “the corporate security community.” A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends are at play in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy revealed the extent of the state’s involvement in monitoring the environmental direct action movement.

University of Bath study citing the Kennedy case, and based on confidential sources, found that a whole range of corporations - such as McDonald’s, Nestle and the oil major Shell, "use covert methods to gather intelligence on activist groups, counter criticism of their strategies and practices, and evade accountability."

Indeed, Kennedy’s case was just the tip of the iceberg - internal police documents obtained by the Guardian in 2009 revealed that environment activists had been routinely categorised as “domestic extremists" targeting "national infrastructure" as part of a wider strategy tracking protest groups and protestors.

Superintendent Steve Pearl, then head of the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (Nectu), confirmed at that time how his unit worked with thousands of companies in the private sector. Nectu, according to Pearl, was set up by the Home Office because it was “getting really pressured by big business - pharmaceuticals in particular, and the banks.” He added that environmental protestors were being brought “more on the radar.” The programme continues today, despite police acknowledgements that environmentalists have not been involved in “violent acts.”

The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state.

Source