2010-12-23 "2010: The year Washington became business friendly; America has made the climate as comfortable as possible for CEOs, who have repaid the favor by creating more and more jobs – in other countries" by Robert Reich
History will record 2010 as the year Washington became “business friendly.”
Not that it was all that unfriendly before. Some would say the bailouts of Wall Street, AIG, GM, and Chysler were about as friendly as it can get. In addition, Washington gave windfalls to drug companies and health insurers in the new health bill, subsidies to energy companies in the stimulus package, and billions to domestic and military contractors. But for corporate America it still wasn’t friendly enough. Before the midterm elections, Verizon CEO and Business Roundtable chair Ivan Seidenberg accused the President of creating a hostile environment for investment and job-creation. In the midterms, business leaders overwhelmingly threw their support to Republicans.
So the White House caved in on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and is telling CEOs it will be on their side from now on. As the President recently told a group of CEOs, the choice “is not between Democrats and Republicans. It’s between America and our competitors around the world. We can win the competition.” There’s only one problem. America’s big businesses are less and less American. They’re going abroad for sales and employees. That’s one reason they’ve showed record-breaking profits in 2010 while creating almost no American jobs.
Consider one of most popular Christmas products of all time – Apple’s iPhone. Researchers from the Asian Development Bank Institute have dissected an iPhone whose wholesale price is around $179.00 to determine where the money actually goes. Some shows up in Apple’s profits, which are soaring. About $61 of the $179 price goes to Japanese workers who make key iPhone components, $30 to German workers who supply other pieces, and $23 to South Korean workers who provide still others. Around $6 goes to the Chinese workers who assemble it. Most of the rest goes to workers elsewhere around the globe who make other bits. Only about $11 of that iPhone goes to American workers, mostly researchers and designers.
Even old-tech American companies made big money abroad in 2010 – and created scads of jobs there. General Motors, for example, is now turning a nice profit and American investors bullish about its future. That doesn’t mean GM will be creating lots more blue-collar jobs in America, though. 2010 was a banner year for GM’s foreign sales — already two-thirds of its total sales, and rising. In October, GM became first automaker to sell more than 2 million cars a year in China. The company is now making more cars in China than in the United States.And GM has just signed a deal with its Chinese partner to try to crack India’s potentially huge auto market. Meanwhile, back home in the U.S., GM has slashed its labor costs. New hires are brought in at roughly half the wages and benefits of former GM employees, under a two-tier wage structure accepted by the United Auto Workers. Almost all GM’s U.S. suppliers have also cut their payrolls.
It’s much the same even for America’s biggest retailers. 2010 wasn’t an especially good year for Wal-Mart in the United States. Its third-quarter sales fell, as U.S. shoppers continued to hold back. But Wal-Mart International is contributing mightily to its bottom line. Its UK business, Asda, will be adding 7,500 new jobs next year. Wal-Mart is also doing well in Japan and Brazil, and hiring like mad in both countries.
So when President Obama tells American CEOs our biggest challenge comes from abroad, you’ve got to wonder. The leaders of American business are already abroad, and doing quite nicely. Just after the midterm elections, the President’s chief economic advisor, Larry Summers, told a group of top U.S. CEOs that the election was partly a “rejection of elites…that were seen as more citizens of Davos than of their countries.”
American CEOs, Summers warned, should “think very hard about their obligations as citizens of this country.”
Yes, they’re citizens. But first and foremost they’re CEOs. And CEOs have to show profits – wherever those profits come from. Under American-style capitalism, profits matter. Jobs don’t.
2010 was the year Washington became even more “business friendly.”
The result has been more and better jobs – but not in America.
2010-12-23 "ACLU placed on Tennessee terror map for letter to schools" by Daniel Tencer from "Raw Story" online news journal
The ACLU of Tennessee says it ended up on a map of potential terrorist threats after it sent a letter to school superintendents asking them to be "inclusive" in their holiday celebrations. The civil rights group says it found itself on the Tennessee Fusion Center's map identified under the category “terrorism events and other suspicious activity," with the explanation "ACLU cautions Tennessee schools about observing 'one religious holiday.'"
"It is deeply disturbing that Tennessee’s fusion center is tracking First Amendment-protected activity," Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-Tennessee, said in a statement [http://www.aclu-tn.org/release122110.htm]. "Equating a group’s attempts to protect religious freedom in Tennessee with suspicious activity related to terrorism is outrageous. Religious freedom is a founding principle in our Constitution—not fodder for overzealous law enforcement."
State fusion centers were set up after 9/11 to help states collect and share information on potential security threats. The ACLU has previously warned of "the potential dangers of fusion centers, including their ambiguous lines of authority, excessive secrecy, troubling private-sector and military roles and a bent toward collection of information about innocent activities and data mining."
A fusion center spokesman told the Nashville City Paper [http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/aclu-calls-anti-terrorism-agency-map-placement-disturbing] that it was a mistake to have labeled the ACLU's letter as a "terrorist" event and said the tag on the map should have been labeled "general information." But the City Paper found that the ACLU icon had instead been reclassified as "general terrorism news." "You can argue that you don’t like the word terrorism in there, but it’s just general news that’s provided," fusion center spokesman Mike Browning responded to City Paper. "That’s the general news category. It doesn’t have anything to do with terrorism. It was just provided to schools as general information." "After the City Paper pointed out to Browning that the entire map was labeled 'terrorism events and other suspicious activity' on the website, that was changed to 'open source news reports,'" the paper reported.
As of Thursday evening, the icon identifying the ACLU appeared to have been removed from the map altogether [http://tnfusion.globalincidentmap.com/home.php]. According to the ACLU, the controversy started after the group received "numerous" complaints from families around Tennessee complaining of overtly religious Christmas events in public schools. The group responded with a letter to school superintendents arguing that "while public schools can teach about religion and religious holidays, public schools may not engage in indoctrination." The letter went on to say that the ACLU "welcomes holiday celebrations that teach children about a variety of holidays. We believe, however, that holiday celebrations that focus primarily on one religious holiday can result in indoctrination as well as a sense within students who do not share that religion of being outsiders to the school."
The ACLU's Wenberg told the Chattanooga Times Free Press [http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2010/dec/22/aclu-bristles-over-terror-list/] that she's taking the fusion center "at their word" that the terrorism designation was a mistake. "I have not heard a good explanation for why school resource officers, who have a very important job in schools, would at all be interested or need to know about the letter we sent to local school superintendents about the need to keep holiday celebrations all inclusive," she added.
2010-12-21 "A.L.F. Snitch Resurfaces In Video: The FBI-Mozilla Connection; Justin Samuel turns up as programmer for new Firefox internet browser" by Peter Young from "Voice of the Voiceless" animal liberation journal
Where is former Animal Liberation Front prisoner and FBI informant Justin Samuel now? Designing the internet browser you may be using to read this.
This week I was shown a video advertising the new Firefox 4 browser, and asked if the “Justin Samuel” in the new Mozilla Firefox promotional video is the Justin Samuel who entered a grand jury in 2000 and implicated me in six fur farm raids.
Watch the video at this link (click “watch video”) [http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/4.0b7/firstrun/]. Justin Samuel is the second person speaking. The man who verifiably worked (or works) with the FBI is now ensuring the new Firefox browser “is the most secure browser out there”. Raising the question: how secure can a browser be when the man assigned to make it secure has a working relationship with the FBI?
Justin Samuel’s grand jury testimony -
In 1997, myself and Justin Samuel orchestrated a series of mink releases across South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. After our indictment, Justin Samuel was the first to be arrested and offered his testimony against me in exchange for a reduced sentence.
You can read 86-page Justin Samuel’s grand jury transcript at this link [http://www.scribd.com/full/5496528?access_key=key-29pa1lxov8tmwdvu0vjh]. His testimony and promise to testify at trial was a major factor in my eventual prison sentence.
A.L.F. snitches: where they are now -
While “where are they now” rumors of Animal Liberation Front / Earth Liberation Front informants abound, ranging from former straight edge mink feed cooperative bombers gone 7-11 employee drug addicts to SUV-firebombers gone SUV-drivers, the resurfacing of Justin Samuel is among the more timely and confirmed updates on just where A.L.F. informants end up when they betray their friends, their movement, and the animals.
In August I wrote about the curious micro-trend of Animal Liberation Front informants going into the computer security field.
* Darren Thurston, who implicated several people in Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front arsons, is now a computer security consultant [http://www.voiceofthevoiceless.org/warning-green-scare-informant-offering-computer-security-advice/].
* Justin Samuel, on his UC-Berkeley graduate student profile, posts several articles he authored on computer security before surfacing on the Mozilla Firefox 4 team [https://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~jsamuel/].
It is not unreasonable to speculate this may be more than a coincidence. The FBI would have an interest in placing its prized “ecoterrorist” assets in privileged positions of root-level access into our digital lives – after they’ve burned all bridges in our real ones.
Animal Liberation Front informants in the computer security field: Coincidence, or strategically placed “men on the inside”?
Open letter to Mozilla Firefox -
A few questions that might be posed to Justin Samuel’s current employers at Mozilla (these are really three ways of asking the same thing):
*Do you feel employing Justin Samuel, someone who has has worked with the FBI as an informant, to be a credibility-compromising to your product, and trust-eroding among its users?
*Can you brand Firefox a “safe and secure” browser with someone who signed a plea agreement obligating him to provide information directly to the FBI?
*Can anyone feel comfortable using Mozilla Firefox 4 knowing a person responsible for making it “secure” has a working relationship with a federal law enforcement agency?
While I don’t believe in “internet security”, I’m still going with another browser… starting now.
Justin Samuel links:
Comment by "Hal":
Wow – How crazy is that to stumble upon him in the video…what are the chances?!? You know seeing this along with last weeks news/rumors of the FBI working with programmers to create backdoors in OpenBSD crypto, it should really come as no surprise to us of what these agencies are capable of. Great find…I’ll be using Opera (for now) and will be sure to let Mozilla know my thoughts.
2010-12-23 "Mace Used On Birmingham Students - SPLC Files Suit posted" by Judy Molland
Can this really be happening in our schools in the 21st century?
Earlier this month, the Southern Poverty Law (SPLC) filed a federal class action lawsuit regarding the use of mace as a means of basic school discipline against school children in Birmingham, Alabama [http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/southern-poverty-law-center-files-federal-lawsuit-targeting-use-of-mace-on-birming?newsletter=TT122110].
Mace As A Tool For School Discipline -
Chemical weapons to enforce school discipline? I had to read this twice just to make sure I hadn't misunderstood. The suit was filed on behalf of district students who have been targeted with chemical weapons and other excessive force. It also seeks to protect other students from these abusive and unconstitutional practices.
Lawsuit Against School Board, Superintendent, Police -
From the SPLC newsletter [http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/southern-poverty-law-center-files-federal-lawsuit-targeting-use-of-mace-on-birming?newsletter=TT122110]: "The lawsuit, which was filed after the Birmingham School Board refused to address the issue after it was raised last month by the SPLC, outlines how the Birmingham Board of Education, Superintendent Craig Witherspoon, and the Birmingham Police Department violated the constitutional rights of Birmingham students through an abusive and unconstitutional policy that allows School Resource Officers to use chemical weapons against them to enforce basic school discipline.“We must ask ourselves: What kind of school system allows the entry of armed police officers who mace its students? One with a serious illness. One that needs to re-examine its ultimate purpose for existence – educating and protecting its students,” said Ebony Glenn Howard, lead attorney on the case for the Southern Poverty Law Center."
Corporal Punishment -
I have written a few times here [http://www.care2.com/causes/education/blog/beating-children-is-still-legal-in-twenty-u-s-states/] on the horrific practice of corporal punishment, which is still legal in 20 states of the country, including Alabama, but this is the first time I've seen a reference to mace as a tool to enforce discipline. According to the SPLC, hundreds of students were arrested in the Birmingham City Schools last year. However, most of the arrests were for petty offenses that most schools would handle in-house - no need to call the police.
The Health Risks Of Pepper Spray -
The Center also points out that individuals exposed to pepper spray are at risk for serious health effects ranging from temporary loss of vision or blurred vision to blistering of the eyes and skin. They can also experience life-threatening effects such as inflammation and swelling of the throat that restrict the size of the airway and limit the amount of oxygen entering the lungs.
This is especially concerning in a school district that is 96 percent African American and is located in a community where children have a five times higher death rate due to asthma-related complications. Our children have the right to the best education possible. Obviously that's not happening in Birmingham. Even criminals in prison are protected by law from being physically abused by those in authority over them. But not our children?
Victory For The SPLC -
Last month, I reported how the SPLC won a victory for a six-year-old who was handcuffed at his New Orleans elementary school in May of this year [http://www.care2.com/causes/education/blog/justice-for-six-year-old-who-was-handcuffed-and-shackled/].
Thanks to their efforts, such practices will no longer be used against young people in New Orleans. Let's hope they achieve justice for the students of Birmingham too.
2010-12-21 "Billionaires Target Teachers—and Take the Gloves Off in Illinois" by Howard Ryan
A billionaire gang headed by Bill Gates and Eli Broad wants to convert America’s public schools, with its $600 billion in annual public expenditures according to the Department of Education, into a corporate-owned test-score factory.
Their plan faces teacher resistance, and nowhere more so than in Chicago, where a feisty new leadership is making the Chicago Teachers Union among the most effective in the country.
The billionaires have decided to go toe to toe with CTU and with Illinois’s 200,000 unionized teachers. The battleground is the state legislature and a draft bill called the Performance Counts Act. The bill would gut teachers unions, maximize the firing of teachers at will, and ensure that no organized voice remains to advocate for quality public schools.
The repercussions for all public employees—and all of organized labor—are clear. Mysterious Group Arrives - Last October, journalists noticed that candidates for Illinois legislative seats were receiving unusually large checks. “
It’s not every day that a group almost nobody has ever heard of gives $175,000 to a single state legislative candidate,” remarked an Illinois Times contributor. Another reporter observed that “a national education reform group has quietly dumped more than $600,000 into key Illinois legislative races.” He added that “the source of much of that money is a mystery,” because of the unusual path it took to arrive in Illinois.
The mysterious political action group is called Stand for Children. Based in Portland, Oregon, and with affiliates in seven states, SFC is an enormously well-funded and sophisticated “grassroots” organization whose largest single funder is Bill Gates: he gave the group nearly $3.5 million in 2010.
Originally, SFC did have a strong grassroots orientation, and its focus was demanding better funding for public schools. The organization grew out of a “Stand for Children Day,” a big 1996 rally in Washington, D.C., headed up by Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Civil rights icon Rosa Parks addressed that rally: “If I can sit down for justice, you can stand up for children.” Edelman’s son Jonah Edelman afterwards established SFC in Portland and mobilized with teachers, the Service Employees union, and community groups to demand adequate funding for Oregon schools.
But after a few years, SFC broadened its horizons from simple funding to “reforming education policies and practices.” The vision it chose, though, is in sync with that of the billionaires and politicians who today are driving school “reform” in America: blaming teachers for educational problems that inevitably result from slashed budgets, unemployment, and poverty; subjecting children to dreary regimens of standardized tests; stripping teachers of job security and tying their pay and future employment to their students’ test scores; and diverting public funds into charter schools and contracting out of services.
Union Smashing -
While SFC materials generally avoid the subject of unions, or imply a friendly collaboration with them, SFC is fiercely anti-union, especially when the unions do not endorse its notion of school reform.
The group promotes Geoffrey Canada—Harlem education entrepreneur and hero of the documentary movie “Waiting for Superman,” in which teachers unions are the scourge of education. Canada was SFC’s first board chair. SFC’s legislative achievements include Arizona’s SB 1040, which ties teacher pay partly to student test scores.
With its current initiative in Illinois, however, SFC is trying out its most virulent strain of anti-teacher union tactics yet. House Speaker Mike Madigan has created a Special Committee on Education Reform, two of whose members received contributions from SFC this fall ($50,000 for Keith Farnham of Elgin; $100,000 for Jehan Gordon of Peoria).
The committee is considering draft legislation which SFC describes as a “historic opportunity to help Illinois students.”
The Performance Counts Act, which is also pushed by another corporate-backed education policy group, Advance Illinois, would “help” students by attacking teachers and their unions:
* Teachers’ performance evaluations would be closely linked to standardized test scores, an historically poor measure of learning.
* With a single unsatisfactory evaluation, a tenured teacher could be returned to probationary status or dismissed. A teacher with three unsatisfactory evaluations within a 10-year period would be dismissed and could never teach again in Illinois schools.
* Unions would be prohibited from bargaining over a broad scope of issues affecting student and teacher welfare—contracting out; layoffs, reductions in force, school closures; class size and class staffing; length of the school day or work day; pilot and experimental school programs; use of technology. Unions could not even bargain over the effects of these policies on members or their students.
* Teachers’ right to strike would be virtually nonexistent, and an unlawful strike could mean the union’s decertification.
An Irony -
Stand for Children claims to offer hope, particularly to poor students and children of color who are widely denied access to quality and equitable education. Ironically, it is the children of poverty who stand most to lose because of SFC and its wealthy backers.
Their agenda defunds public schools, and, as education historian Diane Ravitch points out, the charter school alternatives have a lower commitment than public schools do to serving the neediest students—academic poor performers, students with learning disabilities, or English language learners.
Finally, the billionaires seek to weaken, if not destroy, the organizations that are best equipped to fight for quality public schools. Case in point: CTU is Chicago’s lead organizer against school closures, mass firings of teachers, and slashed school budgets.
Teachers and supporters of public education, beware: the fight in Illinois against the billionaire gang’s initiatives may well be yours in the year to come.
2010-12-21 "In Christie We Trust House Republicans are ready for war against public sector unions" by David Weigel
In two weeks, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina will become the first chairman of the new House oversight subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs [http://thehill.com/homenews/house/134311-issa-gop-creates-oversight-panels-for-tarp-stimulus]. In the meantime, he is thinking about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was on 60 Minutes this Sunday talking about the need to cut state spending and trim state employees and their pensions [http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/afl-cio-nj-s-christie-used-60-minutes-plat].
"You look at his stuff—and, granted, he puts his good stuff on YouTube—but he is so blunt about what the state's facing," says McHenry. "There's one video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw0aBkt8CPA] I've seen where he's talking to a teacher. And the teacher's like, 'We work so hard.' " McHenry does his best imitation of the pathos in the teacher's voice. "Christie says, 'You know what? You don't have to do it.' "
McHenry sits back, holding out his hands in a "can you believe this?" gesture. "You watch that, and you think—that's a governor. And that's a teacher. The teacher always wins, man!"
There's a debate to have about Christie, how effective he is, and how truly popular he is. There's no debate anymore that Republicans want to follow his model. In January 2011, some number of Republican congressmen are planning to issue an ultimatum to states: There will be no additional aid, and you have to balance your budgets.It's a popular Republican belief—in New Jersey, in D.C., everywhere else—that the success of the governor of New Jersey is proving that spending cuts and austerity are no longer the stuff of Heritage Foundation daydreams. Christie is balancing some fee increases with painful cuts, and selling this by dressing down Democrats and union leaders.
"I'm going to introduce a resolution when the new Congress begins, stating that the House will not bail out state budgets," says Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. "The message is: States, don't think the federal government is going to bail you out. Pay attention to this now."
McHenry is one of several congressmen who'll be empowered to demand transparency from states, especially on the shortfalls in their pension funds. This is something that public-employee unions see as a coordinated attack on their members, but Republicans say the unions are going to lose. "The potential here," says McHenry, "is that we're facing a generational shift based on economic realities, based on our expectations for government, on what government does, and how government delivers services."
For evidence of this, Republicans can look at polling in Christie's state. According to the Nov. 11 Quinnipiac Poll, a survey that's conducted in the state every few months, voters who were asked about how to bring the budget in line favored service cuts over tax hikes by a 36-point margin. On every budget question, voters agree with Christie. Seventy-eight percent of voters want public workers to have their wages frozen, 63 percent want them furloughed, and 54 percent of voters are in favor of just laying them off.
Personally, Christie is fairly popular. He was elected with slightly less than 50 percent support; he hovers around 50 percent support. The important thing is that he's stayed at that level by making cuts and warning that he needs to make more on the backs of public workers. Support for a public worker wage freeze is up seven points since Christie was inaugurated. The belief that the teachers' unions are "playing a negative role in improving New Jersey's educational system" is up from a nine-point margin when Christie was inaugurated to an 18-point margin now.
That convinces Republicans that they can take on unions and win. It warns union leaders that they can lose. After 60 Minutes ran its segment on the "day of reckoning" (a Christie term) facing states that didn't cut back public employee pensions, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees blasted the "one-sided report" and union president Gerald W. McEntee argued pensions weren't such a big part of the problem [http://www.afscme.org/press/33924.cfm]. "The challenge can be met if state and local governments began contributing just 1.5 percent more of their budgets toward their pension funds in the years ahead."
Republicans intend to prove this wrong. In December, when it had no chance of passage but plenty of time to draw attention, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., introduced the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act. (It was co-sponsored by Paul Ryan and Darrell Issa, the incoming chairman of Budget and Oversight.) That legislation would require public employee pension plans to change the way they report their finances. The reason? Republicans believe that these pension data are based on rosy assumptions that aren't relevant anymore.
They also believe they called the pension funds' bluff. On Friday, Dec. 17, the president of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators e-mailed members [http://www.redstate.com/laborunionreport/2010/12/19/public-pension-cost-coverup-the-effort-to-kill-transparency-on-public-sector-pensions/] to warn that the introduction of Nunes' bill marked "the beginning of a series of coordinated articles, reports and continuous media coverage falsely asserting state and local governments are a financial wreck and are not accurately accounting for the fiscal condition of their pension plans."
What could the pension fund people and the public sector unions be so worried about? Right-leaning Reuters columnist James Pethokoukis laid it out for them [http://blogs.reuters.com/james-pethokoukis/2010/12/07/secret-gop-plan-push-states-to-declare-bankruptcy-and-smash-unions/]. If the states aren't bailed out, they're going to have to start cutting budgets. If there's total transparency about pension funds—and voters are already in the mood to shave the benefits and numbers of public workers—then that's where you can cut. Republicans might even be able to pass legislation that would allow states to declare bankruptcy [http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/give-states-way-go-bankrupt_518378.html?page=3], which would move the pension debate from politics to court, zapping all of the unions' leverage. "From the Republican perspective," wrote Pethokoukis, "the fiscal crisis on the state level provides a golden opportunity to defund a key Democratic interest group."
How would that work, exactly? House Republicans aren't talking about it yet. But Newt Gingrich, who those Republicans take seriously, laid it out clearly in a Nov. 11 speech to the Institute for Policy Innovation [http://www.newt.org/newt-direct/newts-remarks-institute-policy-innovation].
"I also hope the House Republicans are going to move a bill in the first month or so of their tenure to create a venue for state bankruptcy," said Gingrich, "so that states like California and New York and Illinois that think they're going to come to Washington for money can be told, you know, you need to sit down with all your government employee unions and look at their health plans and their pension plans and frankly if they don't want to change, our recommendation is you go into bankruptcy court and let the bankruptcy judge change it, and I would make the federal bankruptcy law prohibit tax increases as part of the solution, so no bankruptcy judge could impose a tax increase on the people of the states."
So: Patrick McHenry will run a key subcommittee with oversight over all bailouts, present and potential. He thinks Republicans have an opening to fix a "potentially explosive" situation with pension funds. Is he onboard with the state bankruptcy idea? He holds his cards close.
"It ain't easy," he says, "but we have to face reality."
2010-12-23 "POPULAR PRO-PALESTINE ST LOUIS FLASH MOB VIDEO REMOVED BY YOUTUBE; Prompts Questions about Selective and possibly Unlawful Shut-Down"
Who: Members and friends of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee
Contact Person: Colleen Kelly, 314-761-7428
Where to view Flash Mob: [http://www.stl-psc.org/?p=149]
Removed video: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGAdfvGQ-xg]
Dancing and singing to a parody of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s “Telephone,” more than forty members and friends of the St Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) serenaded holiday shoppers at Best Buy and AT&T stores in Brentwood, MO. They urged patrons to join the boycott of Motorola due to the company’s involvement in Israel’s unlawful military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. A video of the flash mob was posted on YouTube December 13th, quickly going viral, with coverage in media around the world including Israel’s Ynet News. It acquired more than 35,000 hits in less than a week.
Shortly after the count hit 35,000, YouTube removed the video in apparent response to a notice of claimed copyright infringement from "WMG." The STL-PSC is firmly convinced, as advised by legal representation, that the flash mob video does not infringe Warner Music Group's copyright, as it constitutes a "fair use" of the song and parodies of songs are protected under a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000107----000-.html].
While it is unclear how WMG has any interest in the copyright, WMG’s relationship with Motorola is well-known [http://www.wmg.com/newsdetails/id/8a0af8120f88d9f4011002e2942615ed_new].
STL-PSC believes that this is an infringement on freedom of expression and plans to challenge the take-down.
STL-PSC member, author, and national organizer for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Anna Baltzer, on the removal of the video: “There are more than 1,000 Lady Gaga flash mob videos on YouTube. None of them has been shut down by WMG. What does WMG not want the world to know about Motorola’s connection to Israeli apartheid and war crimes?”
Washington University graduate, Banan Ead, explained why she participated in the flash mob: "I’ve lived in the West Bank for a few years and visited several times, and every time I go back, with every airport interrogation or checkpoint I get stopped at, I feel only a sliver of the degradation of what the Palestinians permanently living there have to go through. It was also important for us to show that there are ways to non-violently resist that occupation. Plus, I like to sing and dance!"
69-year-old Holocaust survivor, Hedy Epstein, also participated, saying: "During my five visits since 2003, to the Israeli Occupied Territories, I was repeatedly asked by Palestinians I met as follows: 'When you return home to the U.S., please tell people there what you have seen and experienced on the ground, because the media does not convey that.' I have tried to honor that commitment.”
To interview Flash Mob participants, call the contact above. To find out more about the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, visit: [http://www.stl-psc.org/]
Motorola provides equipment to the Israeli military used to maintain the occupation and illegal settlements. More on Moto here… [http://www.endtheoccupation.org/section.php?id=209]
"Hang Up on Motorola"
Join thousands of other human rights advocates demanding accountability from Motorola for its support of Israeli human rights violations. There are several ways that Motorola and their wholy owned subsidiary, Motorola-Israel, profit directly from violations of international law:
* Motorola has the exclusive contract to provide the Israeli military with encrypted mobile phone technology. This means that every Israeli boarder guard manning a checkpoint inside of Palestinian territory and every Israeli soldier committing war crimes in the assault on the Gaza Strip takes their orders through a Motorola device.
* Motorola "virtual fences" and surveillance systems are used at dozens of illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land. These Jewish-only settlements are a potent symbol Israeli apartheid and are illegal under several international laws, including the 4th Geneva Convention. Settlements use high-tech Motorola equipment to ghettoize Palestinian communities as confiscate their land.
* Motorola also has close ties with Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS), which makes drone aircraft that the Israeli military used during Operation Cast Lead (the most recent assault on the Gaza Strip). Last April Motorola sold their bomb fuze division to ADS, just after Human Rights Watch reported finding debris from Motorola bomb components in the rubble of civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip.
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