Newly obtained documents confirm that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was monitoring peaceful protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement before the first OWS demonstrations even began.
Files uncovered this week by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through a Freedom of Information Act request reveals that the FBI was actively keeping an eye on activists across the United States since Occupy Wall Street was still in its preliminary planning stages.
Documents, only published over the weekend, show inner-office communiqué that confirms investigators were considering Occupy demonstrators in some instances as criminals and domestic terrorists.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the PCJF, writes in a statement this week that the initial 100-plus pages obtained through the FOIA request are “just the tip of the iceberg” of what’s expected to be a substantial trove of data proving that the FBI was actively monitoring activists.
The list of documents, says Verheyden-Hilliard, “is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement.”
“These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity,” she writes. “These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
Canada’s Adbusters magazine first published a call-for-action in June 2011 addressing what would become known months later as Occupy Wall Street. On September 12 of that year, activists from around the United States began to descend on Zuccotti Square in Lower Manhattan, and soon the movement spread across the rest of the United States and the world. Even before the first occupiers erected tents and organized actions against corporate greed and criminal police activity, though, the FBI was well involved in investigating the group.
“As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month,” the PCJF writes. “By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.”
In another document, the Indianapolis, Indiana division of the FBI released a “Potential Criminal Activity Alert” about the protests two days before they even started in New York, let alone spread to the Midwest.
In other locales across the country, the FBI alerted authorities to potential criminal and terrorism activity from the protesters and asked them to monitor the movement of the group.
The trove of information received through the FOIA requests is perhaps the most substantial proof so far that the FBI was thoroughly vested in treating Occupy Wall Street as a form of terrorism. It isn’t, however, the first evidence used to prove that peaceful protesters aligned with OWS were on the FBI’s radar: in September, the American Civil Liberties Union received documents obtained through their own FOIA request showing that Occupy activists in Northern California were routinely targeted by federal agents.
“Why does a political protest amount to a national security threat?” ACLU attorney Linda Lye asked at the time.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says an African-led military intervention in Mali will be carried out in the first six months of 2013.
“The military intervention would be over the first half next year… For the moment, there is no political solution,” Le Drian said on Monday.
He also stated that France would only give “logistical aid” and that no French troopers will be deployed in Mali.
The remarks came four days after the United Nations Security Council approved foreign military intervention in Mali to help its government in the battle against militants controlling the northern part of the West African country.
The Security Council authorized an initial one-year-long deployment of African Union forces in Mali on December 20.
The resolution was drafted by France, and it also authorized all European Union member states to help rebuild Mali’s security forces.
In November, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to send 3,300 troops, mostly from Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso, to help Mali’s government regain control of the north.
However, on November 29, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned against a hasty military intervention in northern Mali, saying it could lead to a humanitarian crisis.
Chaos broke out in the African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22. The coup leaders said the move was in response to the government’s inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
However, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region in the wake of the coup, but the Ansar Dine extremists pushed them aside and wrested control of the region.
Though never elected to any office, for 50 years he was more powerful than presidents. As head of the FBI he knew what everyone else wanted to keep hidden.
The “first sale” doctrine expresses one of the most important limitations on the reach of copyright law. The idea, set out in Section 109 of the Copyright Act, is simple: once you’ve acquired a lawfully-made CD or book or DVD, you can lend, sell, or give it away without having to get permission from the copyright owner. In simpler terms, “you bought it, you own it” (and because first sale also applies to gifts, “they gave it to you, you own it” is also true).
Seems obvious, right? After all, without the “first sale” doctrine, libraries would be illegal, as would used bookstores, used record stores, etc.
But the copyright industries have never liked first sale, since it creates competition for their titles (you could borrow the book from a friend, pick it up at a library, or buy it from a used book seller on Amazon). It also reduces their ability to impose restrictions on how you use the work after it is sold.
Two legal cases now pending could determine the future of the doctrine. The first is Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons. In that case, a textbook publisher is trying to undercut first sale by claiming the law only covers goods made in the United States. That would mean anything that is made in a foreign country and contains copies of copyrighted material – from the textbooks at issue in the Kirtsaeng case to shampoo bottles with copyrighted labels – could be blocked from resale, lending, or gifting without the permission of the copyright owner. That would create a nightmare for consumers and businesses, upending used goods markets and undermining what it really means to “buy” and “own” physical goods. The ruling also creates a perverse incentive for U.S. businesses to move their manufacturing operations abroad. It is difficult for us to imagine this is the outcome Congress intended.
The second is Capitol v. Redigi. Redigi is a service that allows music fans to store and resell music they buy from iTunes. Here’s how it works: customers download Redigi software and designate files they want to resell. Redigi’s software checks to make sure the files came from iTunes (so it knows they were lawfully purchased), pulls the data files from the reseller’s computer to cloud storage, and deletes them from the reseller’s hard drive. Once the music is in the cloud, other Redigi users can buy it. When a purchase is made, Redigi transfers ownership of the file and the seller can no longer access it. At last, a way for users to exercise their traditional right to resell music they no longer want.
No way, says Capitol Records. According to Capitol, the first sale doctrine simply doesn’t apply to digital goods, because there is no way to “transfer” them without making copies. When users upload their music to the cloud, they are making a copy of that music, whether or not they subsequently (or simultaneously) delete it from their own computers, and the first sale doctrine doesn’t protect copying.
A win for Capitol would be profoundly dangerous for consumers. Many of us “buy” music, movies, books, games etc. in purely digital form, and this is likely to be increasingly true going forward. But if Capitol has its way, the laws we count on to protect our right to dispose of that content will be as obsolete as the VHS tape.
The Redigi case also highlights another growing problem. Not only does big content deny that first sale doctrine applies to digital goods, but they are also trying to undermine the first sale rights we do have by forcing users to license items they would rather buy. The copyright industry wants you to “license” all your music, your movies, your games — and lose your rights to sell them or modify them as you see fit. These “end user license agreements” reinforce the short-sighted policies that prevent us from lending ebooks to friends, re-selling software packages, or using text-to-speech to read ebooks aloud.
We have been worried about the future of first sale for a long time, but it seems we are reaching a new crisis point. We need to be prepared to tell elected lawmakers that we stand up for first sale, whether the threat comes from arcane import regulations, dangerous legal interpretations, or onerous End User License Agreements. EFF has joined Demand Progress and the Free Software Foundation in giving you a platform to contact your legislators to urge them to stand up for first sale.
Click here to read other blog posts in this series.
- Your Right to Own, Under Threat (eff.org)
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip “violated the laws of war” by firing rockets at populated areas in the Zionist Entity during the eight-day war last month, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
Citing Zionist army figures, HRW said that approximately “1,500 rockets were fired at Israel between November 14 and 21,” of which “at least 800 struck Israel, including 60 that hit populated areas.”
These attacks “killed three Israelis, wounded at least 38, several seriously, and destroyed civilian property,” HRW said, noting that there were also rockets fired from Gaza “that fell short of their intended targets in Israel apparently killed at least two Palestinians”.
“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
HRW rejected claims by the armed wings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committee that their targeting of Israeli civilians was a legitimate “reprisal for Israeli attacks that killed civilians in Gaza”.
Last week, HRW said that the Zionist Entity’s attacks on media facilities and journalists in Gaza also violated the laws of war. But the organization didn’t mention the bombing of the Palestinian civil infrastructure and houses in Gaza.
191 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed during that fighting. Most of the Palestinian fatalities were civilians, although Israel says 30 senior militants were among the dead. Four of the Israelis killed by rocket strikes were civilians, and two were soldiers.
HRW said that under the laws of war, “civilians and civilian structures may not be subject to deliberate attacks or attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and military targets.”
Israel tries to ban non-Jewish celebrations
Israel’s large Palestinian minority is often spoken of in terms of the threat it poses to the Jewish majority. Palestinian citizens’ reproductive rate constitutes a “demographic timebomb”, while their main political programme – Israel’s reform into “a state of all its citizens” – is proof for most Israeli Jews that their compatriots are really a “fifth column”.
But who would imagine that Israeli Jews could be so intimidated by the innocuous Christmas tree?
This issue first came to public attention two years ago when it was revealed that Shimon Gapso, the mayor of Upper Nazareth, had banned Christmas trees from all public buildings in his northern Israeli city.
“Upper Nazareth is a Jewish town and all its symbols are Jewish,” Gapso said. “As long as I hold office, no non-Jewish symbol will be presented in the city.”
The decision reflected in part his concern that Upper Nazareth, built in the 1950s as the centrepiece of the Israeli government’s “Judaisation of the Galilee” programme, was failing dismally in its mission.
Far from “swallowing up” the historic Palestinian city of Nazareth next door, as officials had intended, Upper Nazareth became over time a magnet for wealthier Nazarenes who could no longer find a place to build a home in their own city. That was because almost all Nazareth’s available green space had been confiscated for the benefit of Upper Nazareth.
Instead Nazarenes, many of them Palestinian Christians, have been buying homes in Upper Nazareth from Jews – often immigrants from the former Soviet Union – desperate to leave the Arab-dominated Galilee and head to the country’s centre, to be nearer Tel Aviv.
The exodus of Jews and influx of Palestinians have led the government to secretly designate Upper Nazareth as a “mixed city”, much to the embarrassment of Gapso. The mayor is a stalwart ally of far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman and regularly expresses virulently anti-Arab views, including recently calling Nazarenes “Israel-hating residents whose place is in Gaza” and their city “a nest of terror in the heart of the Galilee”.
Although neither Gapso nor the government has published census figures to clarify the city’s current demographic balance, most estimates suggest that at least a fifth of Upper Nazareth’s residents are Palestinian. The city’s council chamber also now includes Palestinian representatives.
But Gapso is not alone in his trenchant opposition to making even the most cursory nod towards multiculturalism. The city’s chief rabbi, Isaiah Herzl, has refused to countenance a single Christmas tree in Upper Nazareth, arguing that it would be “offensive to Jewish eyes”.
That view, it seems, reflects the official position of the country’s rabbinate. In so far as they are able, the rabbis have sought to ban Christmas celebrations in public buildings, including in the hundreds of hotels across the country.
A recent report in the Haaretz newspaper, on an Israeli Jew who grows Christmas trees commercially, noted in passing: “hotels – under threat of losing kashrut certificates – are prohibited by the rabbinate from decking their halls in boughs of holly or, heaven forbid, putting up even the smallest of small sparkly Christmas tree in the corner of the lobby.”
In other words, the rabbinate has been quietly terrorising Israeli hotel owners into ignoring Christmas by threatening to use its powers to put them out of business. Denying a hotel its kashrut (kosher) certificate would lose it most of its Israeli and foreign Jewish clientele.
Few mayors or rabbis find themselves in the uncomfortable position of needing to go public with their views on the dangers of Christmas decorations. In Israel, segregation between Jews and Palestinians is almost complete. Even most of the handful of mixed cities are really Jewish cities with slum-like ghettos of Palestinians living on the periphery.
Apart from Upper Nazareth, the only other “mixed” place where Palestinian Christians are to be found in significant numbers is Haifa, Israel’s third largest city. Haifa is often referred to as Israel’s most multicultural and tolerant city, a title for which it faces very little competition.
But the image hides a dirtier reality. A recent letter from Haifa’s rabbinate came to light in which the city’s hotels and events halls were reminded that they must not host New Year’s parties at the end of this month (the Jewish New Year happens at a different time of year). The hotels and halls were warned that they would be denied their kashrut licences if they did so.
“It is a seriously forbidden to hold any event at the end of the calendar year that is connected with or displays anything from the non-Jewish festivals,” the letter states.
After the letter was publicised on Facebook, Haifa’s mayor, Yona Yahav, moved into damage limitation mode, overruling the city’s rabbinical council on Sunday and insisting that parties would be allowed to go ahead. Whether Yahav has the power to enforce his decision on the notoriously independent-minded rabbinical authorities is still uncertain.
But what is clear is that there is plenty of religious intolerance verging on hatred being quietly exercised against non-Jews, mostly behind the scenes so as not to disturb Israel’s “Jewish and democratic” image or outrage the millions of Christian tourists and pilgrims who visit Israel each year.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).
- Israeli mayor: expel Palestinian citizens of “hostile” Nazareth to Gaza for opposing war (altahrir.wordpress.com)
The Russian oil producer Lukoil has turned down an offer from the Iraqi government to replace Exxon Mobil at the West Qurna-1 field in Iraq.
The development of a large-scale project such as West Qurna 1 would bring additional risks to the company, which is already developing the West Qurna 2 project in Iraq, which requires up to $5bn investment, said Andrey Kuzyaev, head of Lukoil Overseas.
Earlier this year Baghdad considered inviting Russia’s Lukoil and Gazprom Neft – both already operating a number of projects in the country, instead of Exxon Mobil to develop the West Qurna-1. Iraqi authorities were angered by ExxonMobil’s deal signed with the Kurdistan regional government , sources in the industry told RT.
In 2010 Exxon and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan regional government signed a number of deals to develop six blocks in West Qurna without Baghdad’s approval. Outraged by the move the Iraqi authorities threatened the American company with sanctions.
Later ExxonMobil told the Iraqi government it wants to give up the $50 billion project of West Qurna-1. Iraq expects Exxon to complete the sale of its shares in West Qurna-1 by the end of the year.
Meanwhile CNPC unit Petrochina and several other companies such as British BP and Italy’s ENI have been reportedly negotiating for Exxon’s 60% stake in order to develop West Qurna-1 in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell, according to Iraqi sources
Currently Lukoil holds a dominant 75% stake in the West Qurna-2 oil field. It is developing the oil deposits in partnership with Iraqi state-run North Oil Company since Norway’s Statoil left the project.
The West Qurna field is believed to hold about 43 billion barrels, making it the second largest oil field in the world after Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.