Occupy Oakland – General Strike!

Rae Abileah

Mike check. Mike check. Now announcing hourly marches. Yes we are taking over the intersections and the streets. Booming hip hop from atop a flatbed. Interfaith prayers and meditation amidst highrises. Free ice cream cones. Little Dia de los Muertos altars marking the end of the rule of capitalism and the rise of the human spirit. Friends I haven’t seen at a protest ever. Bicycle parking. Picket signs in every color and with all kinds of quips and puns and causes, united under the banner of systemic change and opposing corporate greed and war profiteers. Student convergences. Spontaneous teach-ins. Sunshine raining down like a kiss from the divine saying yes, yes, this is right and good. People milling about all over the place like it is the most normal thing in the world to have a tent city in the middle of downtown Oakland. Wall to wall pop ups and tents. Straw strewn ground makes the landing pad for the other world that is possible, breathing, emerging. Dozens of dancers converging in the intersection to raise up hands and turn old ’70s beats into new mantras for the movement.

Yesterday I spent a whirlwind day at Occupy Oakland (#OO). I just returned to the US after two weeks of being out of the country to speak about CODEPINK’s work for peace and justice at a tech conference, so this was my first day at #OO. When I walked up I was immediately pulled into flashmob practice and then turned around to begin a practice that would continue all day – turning to greet a friend with a big hug and a smile and an “isn’t this amazing?!” Hour after hour I saw friends and activists from all different movements, issues, causes, and no cause at all, just the common interest in being part of opposing a system that is clearly broken, and taking a stand for an alternative America.

Western Democracy: A Farce And A Sham

Paul Craig Roberts

Every day that passes adds to the fraudulent image of what is called Western democracy.

Consider that the entire Western world is outraged that the Greek prime minister announced that he is going to permit the Greek people to decide their own fate instead of having it decided for them by a handful of banksters, politicians, and bureaucrats living it up at taxpayer expense at “talks” in the French resort of Cannes on the Mediterranean.

The Greek economy is facing its fourth year of decline and lacks the revenues to service its national debt held by private European banks. The banks don’t want to lose any money, so a handful of power brokers reached an agreement with representatives of the Greek government to write off some of the debt in exchange for EU capital subsidies to be financed by inflicting severe austerity on the Greek population. Wages, salaries, pensions and medical care are being cut while the rate of unemployment rises to depression levels. Government employees are laid off. Valuable public properties are to be sold to private parties for pennies on the dollar. In short, Greece is to be looted.

Large numbers of Greeks have been in the streets protesting the austerity policy and have reached the point of anger of throwing Molotov cocktails at the police. Greece is disintegrating politically. The Greek people sense that the EU “bailout” is not bailing out Greece. It is bailing out the French, Dutch, and German banks at the expense of the Greek people.

The Greek prime minister, watching his party’s support and power crumble, announced that he would let the people decide in a referendum. After all, allegedly that’s what democracies do. But it turns out that “we have freedom and democracy” is not supposed to be taken literally. It is merely a propagandistic slogan behind which people are ruled through back-room deals decided by powerful private interests.

Jailed for Sailing to Gaza, Challenging the Blockade

Medea Benjamin & Robert Naiman

[Photo: An image released by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) shows the two Gaza-bound boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists in the Mediterranean Sea November 4, 2011. The Israeli navy boarded on Friday two yachts carrying pro-Palestinian activists who had set sail for the Gaza Strip in a challenge to Israel's blockade of the Islamist-controlled territory. The military said in a statement that the Canadian "Tahrir" and Irish "Saoirse" vessels would be taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod. (IDF/Handout/REUTERS)]

The Israeli military stopped these two small ships carrying peace activists to Gaza, but they won’t stop the Palestinians who are demanding freedom, and they won’t stop the solidarity movement.

Two boats full of courageous passengers were on their way to Gaza when they were intercepted on Friday, November 4, by the Israeli military in international waters. We call the passengers courageous because they sailed from Turkey on November 2 with the knowledge that at any moment they might be boarded by Israeli commandos intent on stopping them—perhaps violently, as the Israeli military did in 2010 when they killed nine humanitarian aid workers on the Turkish boat named Mavi Marmara.  

The boats—one from Canada and one from Ireland—were carrying 27 passengers, including press and peace activists from Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and Palestine. They were unarmed, and the Israeli military knew that. They were simply peace activists wanting to connect with civilians in Gaza, and the Israeli military knew that. Yet naked aggression was used against them in international waters—something that is normally considered an act of piracy.

The passengers on the boats were sailing to Gaza to challenge the U.S. - supported Israeli blockade that is crippling the lives of 1.6 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza. They were sailing to stand up against unaccountable power—the power of the Israeli government—that has been violating the basic rights of the 5.5 million Palestinians that live inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders or in the Occupied Territories.  They were sailing for us, civil society, who believe in human rights and the rule of law.

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