The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which determines what states and jurisdictions are covered by Section 5, is invalid after less than 50 years of protecting African Americans and people of color. The currently covered areas are places that historically have disenfranchised people of color, or those for whom English is their second language. But Chief Justice John Roberts has ruled that the formula, which was last updated in the late 1960s-early 1970s, must be updated by Congress so that it covers areas that violate voting rights today.
Given the massive investment in national security after 9-11, recent news that the federal government is spying on hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the world may not have come as a surprise. Polls suggest that a majority of Americans are shrugging their shoulders at the revelations of a government espionage effort against them. But an uncomfortable reality of the once secret scheme is the degree to which people of color are disproportionately caught up in the government’s dragnet.
As a sea of riot police backed by water cannon trucks pushed past the barricades, seizing the center of Taksim Square in a barrage of teargas and rubber bullets, the small environmental protests-turned-urban anti-government revolt entered a new stage. In a bid to reclaim the square they occupied for the past week, Turkish youth, woken from their tents to the sound of exploding teargas canisters, erected new barricades, throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks in pitched battles with police throughout the day.
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution.
Recently, it was announced that PFC Bradley Manning would be a grand marshal of the 2013 San Francisco Pride Celebration. We felt this decision was a bold and uplifting choice, bestowing a great May honor on a young whistleblower being persecuted for following his conscience.
The global movement to free the Cuban 5 is feeling great joy. On May 3, Miami federal trial judge, Joan Lenard, signed an order allowing René González to remain in Cuba. The movement is now redoubling its demands on President Barack Obama to repatriate the other four members of the Cuban 5: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González.
The facts surrounding the case of the Cuban 5 and U.S.-Cuban relations are particularly important at this time, when Washington claims to be waging a worldwide “war on terror.”
The aftermath of the Boston Marathon attacks shows that what was once a given--providing a suspect accused of a crime with Miranda rights--has turned into a long-shot due to the country’s “war on terror” mentality. The suspect in custody, 19-year-old American citizen Dzokhar Tsarnaev, has not been read his Miranda rights, despite the fact that he has been questioned by law enforcement interrogators.
Occupy the WSF
In 1999 the counter-globalisation movement burst onto the streets at the WTO conference in Seattle. Two years later, in Porto Alegre, the movement began to organize its own alternative summits.
Since then, every year, representatives of NGOs and social movements gather in a Third World location to discuss, to connect, to teach, to learn, to share.
I was there. And “there” was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness -- and oh yes, it was madness -- not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington’s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough. I stood at Ground Zero of what was intended to be the new centerpiece for a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.
Imagine it: a world at peace, without war or military conflict. A world with clean air, where humanity and nature live harmoniously together. A world where there are no longer huge industries making profits off pain and suffering, and where the people united and the will for justice is stronger than the will of the planet’s wealthiest few.
Occupy. Since last fall this word has taken on a life of its own, representing a new mass social movement. Occupy was my first time participating in activism and for many of us who were in that situation, we faced quite the learning curve. In order to build and sustain a successful movement, we need to take the time to reflect on lessons learned while we're grappling with the million dollar question: Where does OccupyDC go from here?
Usually, direct action training is what it sounds like: training in preparation for a direct action. Sometimes, however, the training itself is the action. Consider this story. The members of a hospital workers union were frustrated because their strike was being disregarded by the employer. The formerly locally-owned Pennsylvania nursing home where they worked had been taken over in the 1980s by a Canadian corporation that wanted to break the union.