April 20, 2012
Syrian troops fired tear gas and bullets on thousands of protesters who spilled out of mosques after noon prayers Friday, activists said. State media reported that bombs and shootings killed 17 soldiers as the latest diplomatic efforts failed to halt more than 13 months of bloodshed in the country.
Opposition activists reported that at least 11 Syrian civilians were killed in regime shelling and other attacks Friday, the main day of the week for protests calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad.
Source

April 20, 2012

Syrian troops fired tear gas and bullets on thousands of protesters who spilled out of mosques after noon prayers Friday, activists said. State media reported that bombs and shootings killed 17 soldiers as the latest diplomatic efforts failed to halt more than 13 months of bloodshed in the country.

Opposition activists reported that at least 11 Syrian civilians were killed in regime shelling and other attacks Friday, the main day of the week for protests calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad.

Source

Badass Strips Naked as a Form of Protest Against TSA
April 18, 2012
A 50-year-old man who said he felt that airport screeners were “harassing” him stripped naked at Portland International Airport, police in Oregon said.
Police charged John E. Brennan with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure after he disrobed while going through the security screening area at the airport Tuesday evening.

"When interviewed about his actions, Mr. Brennan stated he fly’s (sic) a lot and had disrobed as a form of protest against TSA screeners who he felt were harassing him," a police incident report said.

He was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time, police said.
Source

Badass Strips Naked as a Form of Protest Against TSA

April 18, 2012

A 50-year-old man who said he felt that airport screeners were “harassing” him stripped naked at Portland International Airport, police in Oregon said.

Police charged John E. Brennan with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure after he disrobed while going through the security screening area at the airport Tuesday evening.

"When interviewed about his actions, Mr. Brennan stated he fly’s (sic) a lot and had disrobed as a form of protest against TSA screeners who he felt were harassing him," a police incident report said.

He was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time, police said.

Source

Occupy Portland protesters target Hanford 
About 150 Occupy Portland protesters went on a field trip to Washington state this weekend (April 13th, 14th and 15th) to protest nuclear war, nuclear energy and nuclear waste.
RICHLAND, Wash. —
About 150 Occupy Portland protesters went on a field trip to Washington state this weekend to protest nuclear war, nuclear energy and nuclear waste.
They were visiting Richland, Wash., which is next to Hanford nuclear reservation.
Activist Helen Caldicott says protesters wanted to visit “the belly of the beast.”
But the Tri-City Herald ( http://is.gd/zSGmE4) reports the protest also brought children, dogs, good food and the music of Portland bands to the sunny Sunday protest.
Along George Washington Way, demonstrators in anti-contamination suits waved signs at passing traffic.
A woman in a flowing cape and gas mask waved a rubber salmon and other people blew bubbles because, as their sign said, radiation travels through the air.
Source

Occupy Portland protesters target Hanford

About 150 Occupy Portland protesters went on a field trip to Washington state this weekend (April 13th, 14th and 15th) to protest nuclear war, nuclear energy and nuclear waste.


RICHLAND, Wash. —

About 150 Occupy Portland protesters went on a field trip to Washington state this weekend to protest nuclear war, nuclear energy and nuclear waste.

They were visiting Richland, Wash., which is next to Hanford nuclear reservation.

Activist Helen Caldicott says protesters wanted to visit “the belly of the beast.”

But the Tri-City Herald ( http://is.gd/zSGmE4) reports the protest also brought children, dogs, good food and the music of Portland bands to the sunny Sunday protest.

Along George Washington Way, demonstrators in anti-contamination suits waved signs at passing traffic.

A woman in a flowing cape and gas mask waved a rubber salmon and other people blew bubbles because, as their sign said, radiation travels through the air.

Source

The following are two very different points of view on MoveOn.org’s role in Occupy and their “Spring Training”. This first is from opednews and the second from Mother Jones. I would love to know: what do you guys think?

The OpEdNews article…
With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That’s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about “nonviolent direct action training” organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.
Which I did. The meeting was a few blocks from where I live. The spam said it was “inspired by Occupy Wall Street.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was vaguely hoping that whatever The 99% Spring was, it would start a chapter of Occupy Wall Street on the Upper West Side, conveniently near my abode, and agitate for the Democrats and MoveOn to move left.
The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling.
Inside the hall, it looked like an alumni reunion for the 1966 Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade. Almost all the 150 or so people were 55-80 years old. The ones I talked to expressed curiosity about Occupy Wall Street and enthusiasm about “nonviolent direct action” but didn’t have the knees or the ears for full participation in OWS activities in the financial district.
A large man with long wavy hair combed back started the presentation with a stirring call for…the meeting to be off the record. He didn’t want any stories that would violate anyone’s privacy, and if there were any lurking journalists, they weren’t allowed to use any names and they must see him afterwards for further instruction on the ground rules. This struck an even more dysphoric note with the crowd than the Obama buttons.
WTF thought #1: This was a public event ostensibly to convince members of the public to engage in behavior that challenged the legitimacy of government authority in public and might cause angry police to beat the public crap out of them. Why would anyone risk that without trying to get publicity for their cause? Nonviolent direct action that no one knows about is like jerking off. It might make you feel better, but you’re not changing the world.
WTF thought #2: Transparency is the only protection that nonviolent people have against police spies and provocateurs and other infiltrators. Occupy Wall Street does a pretty good job with transparency. An organization claiming to be inspired by OWS but shunning transparency is deeply suspicious.
Finish the article here…

The MotherJones article…
If you’re one of the millions of people who get emails from MoveOn.org, then you’ve probably heard of the “99% Spring.” Far from another clickable internet petition, it is possibly the largest attempt ever to train people in nonviolent protest techniques. Some Occupy types have criticized the effort as a scheme by Democratic operatives to co-opt their movement. But the reality is probably the opposite: It seems that America’s best-known progressive fundraising organization is now taking its cues from Occupy Wall Street.
I didn’t know what to think of the 99% Spring until I stopped by a three-hour training session—one of more than 900 being held nationwide this week—at a Unitarian church in San Francisco. My presumption was that the 60 or so gray-haired attendees would be interested in supporting Democratic candidates—after all, the event was cosponsored by the Progressive Democrats of San Francisco—but many seemed just as disillusioned with electoral politics as the folks who took over New York City’s Zuccotti Park this past fall. “I believed Obama when he said he would change things and he didn’t, so I quit the Democratic Party,” said one middle-aged MoveOn member who asked that I not use her name. She went on to talk about about how “the deck is stacked” and “voting doesn’t work anymore.” She’d come to the training looking for a new way to get involved.
"It’s clear that the sorts of tactics we’ve engaged in in the past are no longer enough," Justin Ruben, MoveOn’s Executive Director, wrote in an email to his staff last week, arguing that the growing corporate influence on policy-making has left the group little choice but to take to the streets. In a subsequent interview with Mother Jones, he added, “We know that whoever wins in November, they are still going to be listening more to the 1 percent than to the rest of us because our political system is completely broken. So we don’t have the luxury of not engaging in this kind of action.”
Finish it here…

The following are two very different points of view on MoveOn.org’s role in Occupy and their “Spring Training”. This first is from opednews and the second from Mother Jones. I would love to know: what do you guys think?


The OpEdNews article…

With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That’s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about “nonviolent direct action training” organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.

Which I did. The meeting was a few blocks from where I live. The spam said it was “inspired by Occupy Wall Street.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was vaguely hoping that whatever The 99% Spring was, it would start a chapter of Occupy Wall Street on the Upper West Side, conveniently near my abode, and agitate for the Democrats and MoveOn to move left.

The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling.

Inside the hall, it looked like an alumni reunion for the 1966 Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade. Almost all the 150 or so people were 55-80 years old. The ones I talked to expressed curiosity about Occupy Wall Street and enthusiasm about “nonviolent direct action” but didn’t have the knees or the ears for full participation in OWS activities in the financial district.

A large man with long wavy hair combed back started the presentation with a stirring call for…the meeting to be off the record. He didn’t want any stories that would violate anyone’s privacy, and if there were any lurking journalists, they weren’t allowed to use any names and they must see him afterwards for further instruction on the ground rules. This struck an even more dysphoric note with the crowd than the Obama buttons.

WTF thought #1: This was a public event ostensibly to convince members of the public to engage in behavior that challenged the legitimacy of government authority in public and might cause angry police to beat the public crap out of them. Why would anyone risk that without trying to get publicity for their cause? Nonviolent direct action that no one knows about is like jerking off. It might make you feel better, but you’re not changing the world.

WTF thought #2: Transparency is the only protection that nonviolent people have against police spies and provocateurs and other infiltrators. Occupy Wall Street does a pretty good job with transparency. An organization claiming to be inspired by OWS but shunning transparency is deeply suspicious.

Finish the article here…

The MotherJones article…

If you’re one of the millions of people who get emails from MoveOn.org, then you’ve probably heard of the “99% Spring.” Far from another clickable internet petition, it is possibly the largest attempt ever to train people in nonviolent protest techniques. Some Occupy types have criticized the effort as a scheme by Democratic operatives to co-opt their movement. But the reality is probably the opposite: It seems that America’s best-known progressive fundraising organization is now taking its cues from Occupy Wall Street.

I didn’t know what to think of the 99% Spring until I stopped by a three-hour training session—one of more than 900 being held nationwide this week—at a Unitarian church in San Francisco. My presumption was that the 60 or so gray-haired attendees would be interested in supporting Democratic candidates—after all, the event was cosponsored by the Progressive Democrats of San Francisco—but many seemed just as disillusioned with electoral politics as the folks who took over New York City’s Zuccotti Park this past fall. “I believed Obama when he said he would change things and he didn’t, so I quit the Democratic Party,” said one middle-aged MoveOn member who asked that I not use her name. She went on to talk about about how “the deck is stacked” and “voting doesn’t work anymore.” She’d come to the training looking for a new way to get involved.

"It’s clear that the sorts of tactics we’ve engaged in in the past are no longer enough," Justin Ruben, MoveOn’s Executive Director, wrote in an email to his staff last week, arguing that the growing corporate influence on policy-making has left the group little choice but to take to the streets. In a subsequent interview with Mother Jones, he added, “We know that whoever wins in November, they are still going to be listening more to the 1 percent than to the rest of us because our political system is completely broken. So we don’t have the luxury of not engaging in this kind of action.”

Finish it here…

Today -  April 13, 2012 
The Egyptian people gather for a massive protest in Tahrir square in Cairo. Hundreds of thousands took Cairo’s Tahrir Square denouncing military rule of the country and united to ban Mubarak-era cabinet members including a spy chief from running in the upcoming presidential elections.
Source.Photo: Reuters

Today -  April 13, 2012 

The Egyptian people gather for a massive protest in Tahrir square in Cairo. Hundreds of thousands took Cairo’s Tahrir Square denouncing military rule of the country and united to ban Mubarak-era cabinet members including a spy chief from running in the upcoming presidential elections.


Source.

Photo: Reuters

Occupy Appalachia
Karen Gorrell choked back tears one Saturday in early March as she pulled the final stake from the tent that had been her home for the past 75 days. Last fall, the protracted struggle she led for retired workers from Century Aluminum Corporation found itself an accidental part of the Occupy movement. “I’m elated that a bunch of little senior citizens can take on corporate giants in West Virginia,” Gorrell said.
The group fought to have their healthcare benefits reinstated after the company unilaterally dropped coverage for more than 500 retirees and their families. After more than a year of organizing, protests and, ultimately, a physical occupation, the Occupy Century group reached a settlement with the company late last month that will restore those health benefits and grant $44 million to the retirees over 10 years, with up to $25 million in additional contributions to follow.
“I love these people,” Gorrell, 62, said about her fellow occupiers, whose ages range from early sixties to mid-eighties. “This is the closest family you could have in the world.” Gorrell is married to a Century retiree and describes herself as a high school graduate, a community volunteer and a grandmother.
The Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, W.Va., had seen struggles before. In 1990, 1,700 union workers at what was then called Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation were locked out in an effort to drastically cut wages. The ensuing “Battle of Fort RAC” was a divisive conflict for the Jackson County community; the negotiations that ended the two-year lockout and picket resulted in workers forced to take a significant pay cut in exchange for healthcare retirement accounts. When the plant closed in 2009, laying off 651 workers, Century Aluminum promised workers that their health benefits would continue.
In June 2010, however, the company announced it would be terminating health coverage for its retirees and keeping the $25 million that workers had paid into their pensions. “You’ve been exposed to every hazardous chemical in the book—asbestos, coal tar pitch, all kinds of extreme hazards from aluminum—and when the men retire and they’re actually beginning to suffer from the exposure, then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug,” Gorrell said.
Not only that, but Century Aluminum qualified for and was accepted by—yet chose not to participate in—the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010, which grants federal funding to help cover retirees’ health care costs. The company later accepted EERP funding; in the fourth quarter of 2010, Century reported a net income of $65.3 million citing “changes to the retiree medical benefits program [that] increased quarterly results by $56.7 million.”
“It’s not only morally wrong, it is absolutely criminal what they’re doing to America’s most vulnerable people,” Gorrell said, “and the sad part is, the federal court system is upholding these decisions by these corporations.”
Not this time…
Continue this story at the new Occupy News site Occupy.com

Occupy Appalachia

Karen Gorrell choked back tears one Saturday in early March as she pulled the final stake from the tent that had been her home for the past 75 days. Last fall, the protracted struggle she led for retired workers from Century Aluminum Corporation found itself an accidental part of the Occupy movement. “I’m elated that a bunch of little senior citizens can take on corporate giants in West Virginia,” Gorrell said.

The group fought to have their healthcare benefits reinstated after the company unilaterally dropped coverage for more than 500 retirees and their families. After more than a year of organizing, protests and, ultimately, a physical occupation, the Occupy Century group reached a settlement with the company late last month that will restore those health benefits and grant $44 million to the retirees over 10 years, with up to $25 million in additional contributions to follow.

“I love these people,” Gorrell, 62, said about her fellow occupiers, whose ages range from early sixties to mid-eighties. “This is the closest family you could have in the world.” Gorrell is married to a Century retiree and describes herself as a high school graduate, a community volunteer and a grandmother.

The Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, W.Va., had seen struggles before. In 1990, 1,700 union workers at what was then called Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation were locked out in an effort to drastically cut wages. The ensuing “Battle of Fort RAC” was a divisive conflict for the Jackson County community; the negotiations that ended the two-year lockout and picket resulted in workers forced to take a significant pay cut in exchange for healthcare retirement accounts. When the plant closed in 2009, laying off 651 workers, Century Aluminum promised workers that their health benefits would continue.

In June 2010, however, the company announced it would be terminating health coverage for its retirees and keeping the $25 million that workers had paid into their pensions. “You’ve been exposed to every hazardous chemical in the book—asbestos, coal tar pitch, all kinds of extreme hazards from aluminum—and when the men retire and they’re actually beginning to suffer from the exposure, then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug,” Gorrell said.

Not only that, but Century Aluminum qualified for and was accepted by—yet chose not to participate in—the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010, which grants federal funding to help cover retirees’ health care costs. The company later accepted EERP funding; in the fourth quarter of 2010, Century reported a net income of $65.3 million citing “changes to the retiree medical benefits program [that] increased quarterly results by $56.7 million.”

“It’s not only morally wrong, it is absolutely criminal what they’re doing to America’s most vulnerable people,” Gorrell said, “and the sad part is, the federal court system is upholding these decisions by these corporations.”

Not this time…

Continue this story at the new Occupy News site Occupy.com

The Occupy movement “has created a space in the American political consciousness about a different type of power: one controlled by people, not corporations,” explains this Al Jazeera documentary about the first phase of Occupy Wall Street.

As we head toward the May Day General Strike, May 12-15 global days of action, #OCCUPYCHICAGO, and the #LAUGHRIOT, what lessons can we learn from phase one of the movement?

Occupiers Set Up Camp in Union Square
Quietly and with little fanfare, Occupiers have set up a second camp at Union Square. There aren’t any tents propped up yet, but some protesters did bring sleeping bags, indicating their intention to remain at the square indefinitely.

“We reached consensus today to try to make this a permanent occupation,” said Darah McJimsey, a 23-year-old activist who came to New York from California in November to join the Occupy movement full-time. “Although we’re aware of what we’re up against, we’re going to draw on our skills as far as being mobile.”

When I visited the second occupation over the weekend, there were only five Occupiers holding down the location, but as of this week that number has grown to some 25 protesters, many of whom sat shirtless in the sunshine. The cluster of protesters is easy to spot, gathered beneath the familiar yellow “OCCUPY WALL ST” banner at the top of the steps.
The decision to occupy the square was made by 20 to 30 activists who travelled there after police brutally dispersed around 500 people from Zuccotti Park on Saturday, the Times reports. Occupy’s website now features a call to “Occupy Union Square,” and claims over 70 people are participating in the occupation.
"Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it, ‘The New Occupation,’" the website states.
“It’s experimental,” explained Ms. McJimsey to the Times. “The cops told us at 4 a.m. that ‘you need to sit up.’ They weren’t going to arrest us for laying down though, so it’s kind of unclear what we’re allowed to do and not allowed to do.”
Full article here.

Occupiers Set Up Camp in Union Square

Quietly and with little fanfare, Occupiers have set up a second camp at Union Square. There aren’t any tents propped up yet, but some protesters did bring sleeping bags, indicating their intention to remain at the square indefinitely.

“We reached consensus today to try to make this a permanent occupation,” said Darah McJimsey, a 23-year-old activist who came to New York from California in November to join the Occupy movement full-time. “Although we’re aware of what we’re up against, we’re going to draw on our skills as far as being mobile.”

When I visited the second occupation over the weekend, there were only five Occupiers holding down the location, but as of this week that number has grown to some 25 protesters, many of whom sat shirtless in the sunshine. The cluster of protesters is easy to spot, gathered beneath the familiar yellow “OCCUPY WALL ST” banner at the top of the steps.

The decision to occupy the square was made by 20 to 30 activists who travelled there after police brutally dispersed around 500 people from Zuccotti Park on Saturday, the Times reports. Occupy’s website now features a call to “Occupy Union Square,” and claims over 70 people are participating in the occupation.

"Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it, ‘The New Occupation,’" the website states.

“It’s experimental,” explained Ms. McJimsey to the Times. “The cops told us at 4 a.m. that ‘you need to sit up.’ They weren’t going to arrest us for laying down though, so it’s kind of unclear what we’re allowed to do and not allowed to do.”

Full article here.