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Undernews: November 18, 2012

Undernews: November 18, 2012

Since 1964, the news while there's still time to do something about it


Pentagon using new technique to suppress dissent

Privacy SOS - The Department of Defense and police in the area around the Hancock Air Field near Syracuse, NY appear to have implemented a novel method of stifling anti-drone war dissent.

The authorities have issued "protective orders" barring a number of antiwar activists from going anywhere near the base, including those areas that have been designated "free speech" zones for protest. Bizarrely, the protective orders are supposedly meant to guard a named soldier at the base, Earl A. Evans. None of the targeted activists have ever heard of Evans, let alone harassed or intimidated him with their non-violent antiwar activism. From David Swanson’s account:

When nonviolent activist Paul Frazier asked if the order to stay away from the base included staying away from the weekly permitted demonstration area across the street from the base, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Daily said that if the “victim,” Evans, finds it irritating then yes it would be a violation. Sheriff’s Dept. Deputy Ferazolli then said, “I will do one better. If I see you there I will arrest you, and it will be a felony.”


Via George Takei

Obama's freedom of information record worse than Bush's

Poynter - Pamela Engel, an Ohio University student intern for the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire in 2011, compiled data from 15 cabinet-level federal departments (Justice Department, Homeland Security, State Department, etc.). By email, she said she found these overall rates for the resolution of FOIA requests:

• 2010 – 62.3% granted, 37.7% denied
• 2009 – 61.7% granted, 38.4% denied
• 2008 – 59.5% granted, 40.6% denied
• 2007 – 76% granted, 24% denied (excluding Veterans Affairs, which had a spike in requests that raised the granted rate up to 91%)
• 2006 – 76.5% granted, 23.5% denied (excluding Veterans Affairs, which which had a spike in requests that raised the granted rate up to 91.5%)

Figures released by the Justice Department show that in 2011, 64.7 percent of FOIA requests were granted in full or in part.

Israelis attack two media offices, injury at least eight journalists

Anti- War - Israeli war planes have struck two media buildings in Gaza City, injuring at least eight journalists, including one who lost his leg, medical officials say.

Separately, Israeli air strikes continued in other parts of Gaza, including the north, where two children were killed in raids on homes.

As the strikes continued, the Israeli army said there had been no rockets fired into the Jewish state since 9pm (local time) on Saturday night, although around 7.30am there were reports of alert sirens in the south of the country.

Obama supports Israeli invasion of Gaza

Buzz Feed - President Barack Obama fully supported the Israeli Government's operations in Gaza, speaking at the joint press conference in Thailand, where he is on a state visit.
"There's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders," he said. "We are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself."

Obama said the rocket attacks were the "precipitating event" for the Israeli operation, which to date has been mostly limited to an aerial bombardment of Hamas government and military sites, but is threatening to become a ground operation.

"We are actively working with all the parties in the region to see if we can end those missiles being fired without further escalation of violence in the region," Obama said.

But Obama echoed Israeli leaders, saying any "serious" attempt to reach peace in the region begins "with no more missiles being fired into Israel's territory."

Wal-Mart getting worried

Daily Kos - [Wal Mart has] filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union with which non-union Walmart worker groups are affiliated. That's not a tactic Walmart would bother with if it was confident it could crush these workers' spirits as it's accustomed to doing.

Activities over the past year or longer "have caused disruptions to Walmart's business, resulted in misinformation being shared publicly about our company, and created an uncomfortable environment and undue stress on Walmart's customers, including families with children," Walmart outside counsel Steven Wheeless said in a letter sent on Friday to Deborah Gaydos, assistant general counsel of the UFCW.

You know what creates an uncomfortable environment and undue stress on people, including families with children? Walmart's ridiculously low pay scale and scanty opportunities for advancement, such that, according to internal company documents:

Low-level workers typically start near minimum wage, and have the potential to earn raises of 20 to 40 cents an hour through incremental promotions. Flawless performance merits a 60 cent raise per year under the policy, regardless of how much time an employee has worked for the company. As a result, a "solid performer" who starts at Walmart as a cart pusher making $8 an hour and receives one promotion, about the average rate, can expect to make $10.60 after working at the company for 6 years.

That, combined with policies intentionally keeping workers at part-time hours so they don't qualify for benefits, is why so many Walmart employees are forced to rely on food stamps and other public assistance to make ends meet. Being kept poor is the sort of thing that causes families with children just a little more distress than being exposed to workers picketing outside of stores.

Walmart's dismissive statements about the small percentage of workers taking part in the protests are accurate in a literal sense, but the decision to try to use the law to shut the protests down reveals that something bigger than the percentages is going on: this is the first time Walmart has faced such sustained, defiant activism against its abuses of workers. Usually when workers have tried to fight the conditions they face, retaliation and intimidation from managers have been enough to shut it down. That's not working this time, and as the protests spread and draw public notice, it seems that executives are nervous enough to go beyond their usual tactics. And when they're nervous, it's time to double down.

Low income programs aren't the fiscal problem

Center for Budget & Policy Priorities

Solar powered schools in South Africa

CNET - The Solar Powered Internet School -- a product of Samsung -- has solar panels on the roof that can generate nine hours of electricity a day. That power's needed to juice the electronics inside -- a 50-inch electronic board, Samsung Internet-enabled solar-powered notebooks, Samsung Galaxy tablets, and Wi-Fi cameras.

The portable classroom, which supplements Phomolong secondary school near Johannesburg, measures almost 40 feet long and can fit up to 21 students at a time.

Recovered history: The Pacifica Radio Archives

Firedog Lake - Before there was MSNBC and Current TV, before there was The Huffington Post or The Daily Show, before there was the progressive blogosphere, before there was (and then wasn't) Air America, there was Pacifica Radio.

Pacifica Radio was born out of the peace movement of the World War II era. It was founded in Berkeley, California by Lewis Hill, a Quaker, conscientious objector and news reporter who refused to broadcast state propaganda and wanted to start a media outlet that was not controlled by war profiteers. Lewis founded KPFA in Berkeley in 1949. Ten years later, its sister station went on the air: KPFK in Los Angeles. Then over the next two decades came three more stations: WBAI in New York, KPFT in Houston, and WPFW in the nation's capitol.

Over the nearly six and a half decades since KPFA's founding, Pacifica Radio has been an unapologetic and uncompromising mouthpiece of the anti-war movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the anti-colonial movement, the women's movement, the student movement, the free speech movement, the LGBT movement, the movement for a nuclear-free world, the anti-apartheid movement, the immigrant right's movement, the Central American solidarity movement, the sanctuary movement, the environmental movement, the prisoners' rights movement, the Occupy movement and the movement to get money and corporate influence out of American politics.

Over those years, Pacifica Radio brought the Beat poets to the public airwaves. It stood up to McCarthy and faced an investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee for Communist subversion. It sent volunteers to the South to cover the emerging Civil Rights Movement; the son of the network's then-President was murdered along with two other activists while registering black voters in Mississippi as part of Freedom Summer. It showcased some of the world's most prominent voices against the Vietnam War, and it put Seymour Hersch on the air breaking the story of the massacre at My Lai.

The Pacifica Radio Archives, housed in Los Angeles, preserves these voices of American history ....These voices include: Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Jane Fonda, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Rachel Carson, Betty Friedan, John Coltrane, Pete Seeger, Noam Chomsky, Bobby Kennedy, and hundreds more.

Paris Gaza protest

Via Winston Weeks

Alternative news update

Wis. Capitol Police Sue to Get Their Union Back

3,000 March at White House for Climate Solutions, Against Foreign Tar Sands and Keystone XL
Thousands Surround Obama's White House: 'Stop Keystone XL!"
Five Reasons to Reject (Again) the Keystone XL Pipeline

Scott Walker Tilts K-12 Education Toward the Needs of Business


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