Category Archives: Harvest 2007 (9/27/07)

Joy is blockading Interstate 69 – come to Indiana to stop a superhighway – the earth deserves better than pavement

In the Midwest, a movement is growing to attack a major infrastructure project, Interstate 69. The “NAFTA superhighway”, which if built would run from Canada to Mexico, is supposed to begin construction as early as this coming spring. Anarchists in Indiana are working with local farmers who are losing their land and city-dwellers who oppose the highway. Many locals have joined up in a lawsuit, as Earth First! activists continue a direct action campaign against the Indiana Department of Transportation and various companies involved. Action against the highway is ongoing and coming from many different communities, including a range of tactics.

Roadblock Earth First! is calling for folks to come to southwestern Indiana this April, or sooner. Engineering firms are bidding for their stake in the project in April, and we are expecting clearing work to begin shortly after. Bring an affinity group and gear if you can.

I-69 is intended to facilitate increased trade between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It has already been built from Ontario to Indianapolis, via the Port Huron border crossing in Michigan. National planners hope to see the highway extended through southwest Indiana, then into Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, where it will connect with the highways of the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) in Mexico. Constructing I-69 comes at an enormous cost — in money, farms paved over, and greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere by thousands of trucks moving ever more global trade.

Here are some recent actions claimed by Roadblock Earth First!

July 9th – In protest of the ongoing evictions of southern Indiana farmers, two separate groups of “Hayduke’s Moving Crew” simultaneously barged into I-69 planning offices in Oakland City, Indiana and Petersberg, Indiana. They announced that the office was being evicted, and proceeded to take desks, computers, files, maps, etc. and dump them on the side walk outside. Eviction notices were taped on the windows and both groups got away with no arrests. At the same time a street march and several banner drops happened in downtown Bloomington, which left the city covered with chalk and paint graffiti against the highway. These happened as part of the post Earth First! Rendezvous day of action.

August 21st – A public I-69 informational meeting in Bloomington was “hijacked” and shut down by an eclectic mix of young and old, anarchists and liberals. As the presentation started, audience members began shouting and holding banners, the projector was unplugged and someone took the microphone and began educating the audience of mostly business execs and city officials about why the highway isn’t wanted. Eventually the original presenters called the meeting off and told their cohorts to leave. Later they announced that there would not be any more public meetings about I-69 in the city of Bloomington.

September 14-16th – Evansville, Indiana hosted an anti- I-69 strategy consulta. People from various towns in the midwest and some folks from the east coast attended a weekend of planning for next spring and summer. The consulta also included a tour of the first two miles of the proposed I-69 route in Indiana, allowing dozens of new people to get to know the land that will be lost if we don’t win. The Evansville newspaper reported a major I-69 engineering firm was on “high alert” and local police patrols were increased in anticipation of the influx of eco-anarchists to the region.

Write to Roadblock Earth First! or check our website for updates and more info. We won’t let them clear, and we certainly won’t let them pave. We will never let them build this road!

i69news.bee-town.com roadblockef@yahoo

Domestic FBI spying EXPOSED – blow-by-blow account of Eric McDavid’s trial

As Slingshot goes to press, our comrade Eric McDavid — framed by an undercover agent provocateur on conspiracy charges for an alleged “eco-arson” action that never happened — is on trial in a Sacramento Federal Court. We will go to the printing press before we know the outcome of his trial. Regardless of the outcome, Eric needs support — political, financial, and if convicted, prison support.

During the course of the trial, the government’s star witness — an undercover FBI agent known as “Anna” — testified extensively about her infiltration of radical circles in the United States. Her testimony provides a rare window into the way the FBI has monitored radicals since September 11.

We know the FBI and law enforcement are spying on our organizations and on our protests — from harmless candlelight vigils to militant actions at meetings of the G8. What is unusual about this case is that the FBI’s agent went beyond just spying — she engineered the “conspiracy” by providing the plans, the inspiration, the funding, the housing and the transportation for her victims, while using the lure of romantic involvement between her and Eric to keep him interested.

Members of Sacramento Prisoner Support (SPS) and many of Eric’s supporters have attended every day of his trial. SPS has sent out fascinating blow-by-blow accounts of the testimony. Sadly, they are far too long for us to publish in their entirety. Instead, below we’ve published exerpts to give folks a flavor of the trial testimony and how far the government will go. The point of publishing this isn’t to make us scared and unable to resist corporations, the government, and their attacks on the earth and its inhabitants. The point is that we need to understand the government’s tactics. If someone seems just a little too anxious to encourage illegal discussions and actions, remember Eric McDavid. Don’t be afraid — but don’t be reckless — figure out how to fight for the earth!

Case summary

Eric McDavid, Lauren Weiner and Zachary Jenson were arrested January 13, 2006 and charged with conspiracy to destroy property. Although the group never carried out any action, Eric faces up to 20 years if convicted. Weiner and Jenson took plea deals and testified against Eric. The following shortened, edited notes on the trial — written by SPS — demonstrate how Anna infiltrated the radical scene and entrapped Eric, Lauren and Zach. For info, see www.supporteric.org.

Direct examination of Anna

. . . Anna said she was a 17 year old sophomore at a junior college in Florida who wanted to impress her political science professor with an extra credit project. She heard in the news about the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas] protests in Miami and decided to infiltrate it for her project. She says that the first day she when to the protests people were suspicious of her efforts because of her appearance. She then “went to the Goodwill to find the rattiest clothes possible, something the protesters might like”. She said she was accepted once she began imitating the protesters aesthetic and was able to infiltrate some kind of group that was planning for the FTAA protest. . . .

Anna stated that she presented the paper on her undercover operation to her political science class and they liked it. Apparently there was someone from the Florida investigators office enrolled in the class who was very taken by her work and approached her to ask if he could share it with his supervisor. Apparently his supervisor liked it and it went up the chain of command. At that point the Miami police department called to interview her along with the FBI. After the completion of that interview she was offered work with the FBI. At the request of the FBI, 17 year old Anna went to the G8 in Georgia, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Boston and the Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York City to surveil the protesters.

She said that she was asked to give the FBI “real time” cell phone reports on illegal activities at the protests. Her examples were giving “breakaway march” locations or “if there was a rumor that there was a black bloc”. She said that at the G8 she was working undercover at the Independent Media Center. After the G8 she traveled to Boston before the DNC “to meet the organizers and listen to their plans”. She says that they had no plans for illegal actions. None the less, she came to Boston for the DNC and met with the organizers again. In Boston she says that the illegal activities that she advised the FBI on was a banner drop and a paper mache molotov cocktail.

She claims that she met someone at DNC who invited her to the CrimethInc convergence in Des Moines, which she described as a very exclusive event. She says that she met Eric at CrimethInc in Des Moines and “at the time I thought he was inconsequential”. When asked by the US Attorney (USA) if she reported on Eric she said “I mentioned he was there.” When asked by the USA if that was common she said “I reported on lots of people”. Anna stated that after CrimethInc she received a reimbursement for her expenses and a lump sum payment which she claims was totally unexpected. She says that her deal with the FBI was only for reimbursements and that the payments (there was more than one) were always a surprise. . . . She states that she was asked by the Miami FBI, at the suggestion of the secret service, to attend the protests against President Bush’s inauguration in 2005. She states that she was asked to give reports on anyone dangerous there, but that “nothing happened”. She was then asked by the Philadelphia FBI to attend the biotech protests in 2005.

She claims that she had not kept in touch with Eric after CrimethInc and heard from him sporadically. She wanted to meet up with him in Philly because as she said “I was going to use him to gain access to protesters there, enhance my credibility and gain access to the convergence center”. She met with Eric and Jenson in Philadelphia, where they all stayed at Lauren Weiner’s apartment (this was the first time Anna and Weiner had met). Anna claims that at this point Eric seemed “radicalized” since the time she had seen him in Des Moines. . .

Anna claims that at the Bio protests, Eric told her he had missed her and had things to tell her but that there were “too many ears around.” She reported this back to the Philadelphia FBI who then did a background check and Eric came up on a FBI “persons of interest list” from Sacramento. Apparently this was due to an investigation of a friend of Eric’s named Ryan Lewis who was accused of participating in property destruction in Auburn, CA. The FBI told Anna to pursue Eric at this point to try to find out about illegal activities in California. Anna next went to the CrimethInc convergence in Bloomington, IN, after picking Eric up in West Virginia. She reported that this convergence was much larger than the last, with a wider range of skill shares and workshops. Upon her arrival in Bloomington she found time to sneak away and meet with the FBI, who were particularly interested in her reporting to them on any possible illegal protests surrounding the construction of the I-69 highway. During this CrimethInc convergence, Anna claims that Eric took her to a prison support workshop, where he told her he had a buddy looking at 40 years (which she claims was a reference to Ryan Lewis).

After the CrimethInc convergence, Anna drove Eric to Chicago. During this car ride, Anna claims that she asked Eric about what he had said in Philadelphia about “something big.” She also asked him about Lewis. . . . Anna alleges that at this point Eric asked her to join him in a bombing campaign in the winter, in her role as medic. [This conversation was not recorded.] Anna saw Eric again in August 2005, very briefly, outside of Weiner’s apartment. At this time Anna told Eric that she was interested in joining him, and he allegedly asked her to find him a chemical equivalency list. She agreed. Anna did not see Eric again until November of 05, and claims to have had sporadic email contact with him during this time period.

The FBI wanted her to gather more information and find out where he was at the time. In November, the FBI became “concerned” that Eric hadn’t made contact, so they “formulated” a plan to get the group to the west coast where Eric was. Anna made contact with the members of the group and asked if they could meet and discuss their plans. At this point she began insisting on flying Weiner to California. Upon her arrival in California in November, Anna met with the Sacramento FBI, who told her to attend the meeting, listen to any mention of targets and tactics, and to keep her safety in mind. They also allegedly gave her further instructions as to what her role in the group should be – specifically that she should never suggest, don’t be a leader, and not to give info unless she was asked for it.

Anna picked Weiner and Jenson up in Sacramento then drove them Eric’s family’s home, where the 4 were meeting. Eric allegedly gave the group copies of an interview with Derrick Jensen, which she claims was the basis for much of his thought. During the evening the group sat around a fire pit on the back porch, where they allegedly talked about their “plot” . . . .

During the weekend, the group decided to meet after Christmas. Anna volunteered to procure a cabin for them (which she had been instructed to do by the FBI – allegedly for her safety). . . .

In January, Anna drove Jenson and Weiner from the east coast (DC) to the cabin in Dutch Flat, CA. At this point Anna introduced the “Burn Book” to the group, telling them that they should record any recipes, plans, shopping lists, etc. Much of the first part of the book is taken up with recipes that Anna wrote in. . . .

On the 11th of January, the group traveled to San Francisco to visit chemical supply stores, to do research, and to allow Jenson to sell some of his writings. None of the chemical supply stores were open to the public, so the group stopped at a Wal-Mart in Sacramento on their return to Dutch Flat, where they allegedly purchased materials to construct an explosive device. . . .

After another shopping trip, the group returned to the cabin where Anna claims Eric began “tearing into” the salt substitute and “mixing in earnest.” She also claims that he began emptying the powder from shotgun shells and testing fuses. Anna claims that Weiner and Jenson were reluctant to participate at first, but then began to actively participate. This was after the government played a tape of Anna berating Lauren and Zach for not being involved After heating the mixture, the glass bowl they were using busted and their days work was lost.

Anna claims that harsh words were exchanged the night of the 12th. They had an argument about people’s level of involvement, and Anna said the argument escalated until she no longer felt comfortable in the group. . . .

She says she left the cabin to go for a walk and be alone. (At this point the government played a recording of the argument.) During her walk to be alone, Anna met with the FBI agents and told them that she didn’t feel as if she could continue much longer. When she left the meeting with them, she knew that the other three would be arrested the next day. . . .

The USA concluded his direct examination of Anna by going back over her compensation from the FBI. She said she received approximately $65,000 over two years. $35,000 was for reimbursable expenses (gas, food, hotel, flights) and that $31,000 (plus change) was given to her in lump sums, sporadically throughout her work.

Trial Day 3: Cross-Examination of Anna

The morning began with [Eric's defense attorney Mark Reichel's] cross examination of Anna. . . .

[Anna testified that] she went to the Democratic National Convention, where she had adopted the persona of a medic because she knew that protesters needed medics and perceived them to be people in a responsible role. Anna has had no formal medical training. When Mark asked her how she handled this, she told him that she wore the attire, but if someone approached her for help she would “pass them off” to someone else. Next she went to Des Moines CrimethInc, where she met Zach and Eric. She affirmed again that her role involved A LOT of lying.

She spent 3 days in Des Moines with Zach and Eric, sleeping upstairs in a farmhouse with them. She said she couldn’t recall whether Eric slept right next to her. She stated that at this time, she viewed Eric as non-threatening, inconsequential, and that he looked “gentler” than the other people there. Because of this she buddied up with him. Despite viewing Eric as “inconsequential” she nonetheless reported back to the FBI about him. She exchanged emails with Eric and they agreed to see each other in New York for the RNC. At the RNC she reunited with Eric and Zach and spent just as much time, if not more, with them. She claimed that during the RNC Eric made comments about illegal activities, which she reported, but after the RNC she did not report him as someone that needed to be followed. She then claims to have had no contact with Eric until June 19 of 05.

Mark then asked her why she would have written people in May asking about him. (He had an email from someone whom she had emailed in May asking Eric’s where abouts) She responded that, at the request of the FBI, she was attempting to use old contacts to get back into protest circles. In the email Mark was referencing, she had written about the Halliburton protest and said, “I’d love to have a party, if you know what I mean” “You gonna’ come play with me, then?” In the same email string she wrote “Do you guys need anything? Supplies, paint, chains, nails, pipe, anything? Tar and Feathers? Like I said, disposable income, so ask around all your contacts. It’d be safer to bring from outside as well. So what are we gonna do? :)”

Mark referred back to the guide lines she mentioned in her previous testimony and asked if this was a “suggestion.” Anna responded that it was a “question about what supplies they might need.” Mark asked if Eric had written her love letters, to which she responded that he had indicated his interest in her between August and May. Anna told Weiner in January of 06 that Eric had written her three love letters. Mark then asked her about a meeting on Weiner’s balcony during the bio conference in Philly. She said that she did have an interaction with him on the balcony, just the two of them. She affirmed that he had written her a love email on October 26, so she was aware of his feelings for her in October of 05. Anna said she couldn’t recall if he had written her previously. As a CS, she was supposed to give the FBI any important communications, so Mark pressed her about where the other 2 love letters had ended up. She said she couldn’t recall. . . .

The cross then moved to the meeting in November of 05. Mark questioned her on conversations that she had with Weiner about the meeting. She said that Weiner initially expressed reluctance about coming out to California due to money problems. . . . Since the FBI wanted her on the West Coast, Anna volunteered to pay for Weiner’s plane ticket with the understanding that Weiner would pay her back for it. But Anna even went so far as to pay for Weiner’s cab fare. She said she didn’t recall that, but in an email she clearly states that she will. In one email she states “I’m taking care of everything. Trust me.” On November 4, Anna sent Weiner an email stating that she had an “awesome, devious” plan to get them all to California. . . .

In December of 05 she was granted Otherwise Illegal Activity authorization (OIA), which gave her approval to participate in criminal activity. She claimed she had not engaged in any criminal activity prior to this, but then admitted she had sat down in the street at G8 at one point. . . .

Mark then returned to the meeting on the balcony at Bio. She said that Eric had expressed romantic feelings for her at Bio. In a conversation between Anna and Weiner, Anna says “I kinda’ called him on how much he had changed. And he said, yeah well, I had a lot of big influences. I asked him “like what?” And he goes, “you for one” I about near fell over and died. ‘I knew you for a week!’ So…” at which point Weiner stated, “cause he loves you…” . . .

When Mark asked Anna who paid for the group’s supplies – who physically reached in to their pockets and paid, she responded that she did. After an immediate objection from the AUSA, and a nervous glance in the AUSA’s direction, she changed her answer and responded that the money came from Eric and Weiner’s pockets. She claimed that the group had a jar for money and shared costs. . . .

She claimed that she never had any romantic relationship with Eric, and that she had discussed how to handle his advances towards her with the FBI. The FBI had her fill out a behavioral analysis of Eric and returned to her a series of responses she could give for his advances. . . .

She said she got training on how to handle Eric’s advances in November of 05 – this was after Bloomington, after the event in Philly, and after Eric’s email to her in October. She said the email is what made her seek out advice. She said she was still working for the FBI when she lost the other two love letters. She affirmed that she did have to report anything significant from Eric to the FBI. . . .

For the end of her testimony, the government played a tape of Eric and Anna in the car, which she characterized as a record of Eric coming on to her and her putting him off. The tape was a conversation with Eric asking about the mixed signals Anna was sending him and her continuing to lead him on. At one point she says:

A: I definitely, I don’t not like you. I don’t really like you- I definitely like being around you- our energies really mesh well together

E: mm

A: what you said at bio I thought was nice, and appropriate

E: mhm

A: twin souls . . . [Later on]

A: we’re just. All of us are just friends and all of us aren’t to together and all of us, I mean one of us doesn’t like the other person, we all just love each other

E: yeah

A: and I like that

E: yeah

A: and I’m not sure if I’m ready to add that kind of relationship, sexual dynamics that kinda’…..to screw it up

E: ok

A: I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that yet

E: no I totally hear that

While the tape was playing Anna stared at Eric and grinned, almost to the point of laughing. She said “I was instructed to placate him the best I could without shooting him down.” Then Anna stepped down.

Government Examination of Ricardo Torres

FBI special agent Ricardo Raphael Torres was the next to testify. He was Anna’s handler at the Philadelphia FBI. He testified that he put out a call to the FBI for informants to use at the Biotech protest in Philly. He said that they did this because “people associated with anarchists, the ALF and the ELF engaged in violent actions” at the biotech protests in San Francisco, such as riding their bikes through traffic. The Miami FBI responded to his request with Anna. Torres said that she was “tasked to work within the anarchist elements of the protesters” and to “get out there and see who was going to do bad things to the city”. Torres said she was “extremely helpful”.

. . . .

Torres testified that [] the FBI ordered [Anna] to get Eric, Lauren and Zach together to “set the stage for a meeting of the conspirators”. Torres testified that Eric wanted bomb recipes from Anna. Torres testified that he and Anna looked at “open source” information on explosives on the internet” and then met with Philly FBI bomb experts to create a recipe for something that was just an initiator, meaning that it will create a small flash that would only work if it were next to a large amount of explosives.

Stop the Gold War – Latin America struggles against destructive mining

What do popular environmental struggles against gold mining throughout Latin America have to do with ending the war in Iraq?

Today every Latin American country is host to foreign gold mining operations. With modern mining techniques, anywhere there are mountains, gold can be mined: The geological conditions that produce mountains mean that trace amounts of gold, invisible to the eye, lie disseminated deep within mountain ranges. Modern open-pit mining techniques demolish and pulverize mountains, to soak the ore in cyanide solutions to extract about one ounce of gold for every eighty tons of rock. These techniques are incredibly disruptive and contaminative. They leave entire mountain ranges devastated, create enormous toxic “tailings reservoirs,” create acid drainage which contaminates entire river systems, leave vast regions desertified, and communities sickened and impoverished.

Under destructive modern techniques, more gold has been extracted in the past twenty years than in all human history before today. Modern mining is carried out almost exclusively by a few increasingly powerful transnational corporations, such as Barrick Gold, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Goldcorp, and exploration activities by hundreds of “junior companies.”

Modern gold prospecting is less about geology, and more about prospecting for the local social conditions which enable corporations to contaminate and freely utilize energy and water resources while controlling vast amounts of territory.

The selling point for building a gold mine is the creation of a limited number of jobs for the local population. The insertion of transnational mining companies and the privatization of common goods such as land and water is not possible in localities where institutions, knowledge and culture are strong and healthy: on the contrary, mining insertion is successful in regions where corruption and dependency rule, and where traditional, autonomous economies, spaces and cultures have been weakened or destroyed.

Mining firms see themselves in a growing race against time: in the face of rising public rejection, their goal is to get their “foot in the door,” that is, install their multi-million dollar mining projects at all costs, in order to transform social and economic landscapes, and thus ensure their continued, and profitable, existence, before the public finds out what is really in store for them. Direct action makes it possible to for us to prevent or delay an open-pit mine. But once it is installed, it is there forever. There are over eighty large-scale metals mining projects in operation throughout Latin America: Each one is a regional disaster. There are literally thousands more in exploration.

But there is really good news: Social conflicts have erupted in every single country where mining firms are now operating: Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, all of Central America, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, and my current abode, Argentina. In Tambogrande in Perú, Esquel in Argentina, and Miramar in Honduras, gold mining firms have been forced out by local pressure. In La Rioja, Argentina, this spring local activists carrying out a four-month roadblock campaign successfully ousted Barrick Gold as well as their corrupt governor from their province. Here in Argentina, we have passed legislation prohibiting big mining in five provinces.

In the face of this widespread opposition, mining firms have responded by aligning closely with corrupt national governments to increase use of military force, while at the same time carrying out well-moneyed campaigns to promote “responsible mining,” “sustainable development” and “jobs” on a local level — trying to co-opt and split communities by buying the support of institutions such as the press, universities and oversight agencies. This is the practice of “social insertion” — the mining corporations’ strategy to purchase “legitimacy” through the bankrolling and thus control over the very public institutions that the neoliberal State has abandoned.

The nature of popular movements against mining operations varies considerably from community to community, but they are all based in a rotund “NO” to all forms of metals mining activities. Communities are seeing through corporate-NGO greenwashing discourses such as “mining with control,” “best international standards,” or “corporate social responsibility,” and realizing that a no-concessions stand in the face of open-pit metals mining utilizing chemical leaching processes is the only viable way to prevent the specter of contamination, acid drainage and local impoverishment which continues to take place even under the best conditions in the most advanced first world countries such as Canada and the US.

A most powerful community tool is popular consultation or referendums. Communities struggle mightily to carry out referendums which in every case have won overwhelming rejection of mining projects, leaving the discourse of mining companies and global finance agencies in the dust. Through the carrying out of these referendums (Esquel, Tambogrande, San Xavier in Mexico, and Sipikapa in Guatemala) communities carry out a crucial double action: they reject mining, and they begin the important democratic process of defining their own autonomous paths of “development.”

This September 16, 2007, communities in the mountains above Piura, Peru carried out a historic public referendum regarding the ongoing conflict over the Majáz mines project. 97 percent of the residents voted to reject the project. Meanwhile, in Calingasta, Argentina, the corrupt provincial governor banned a public consultation for three years in a row. In this beautiful, but feudal and corrupt backwater, ruled by Barrick Gold Corporation, foreign “miners” ply village roads in 4x4s with tinted windows. When they pass, locals stop talking, and look away in fear and contempt. These groups of modern “miners”, muscular, ugly and rude, be they Canadians or whatnot — they are the Yankee occupying army in these modern “zones of sacrifice.”

On September 10, the occupying armies of miners struck the northern Mexican village of Celemania: A mining truck transporting 25 tons of dynamite crashed in the small mountain town. In a tremendous explosion, 28 villagers were killed and 250 injured, dozens losing limbs, eyes, and hearing. The company responsible was Australian mining chemicals company ORICA. Every day thousands of these potential truck bombs crisscross villages throughout Latin America.

What does gold have to do with stopping Bush’s war in Iraq? According to the Le Monde Diplomatique, Bush’s United States desperately needs to buy all of the gold that it can in order to prop up the national economy in this time of war. For every dollar that is spent on the war of genocide in Iraq (at last count some $450 billion dollars) Bush must have an equal amount of gold, in the form of bullion, in reserve. And in the face of the increasingly unstable dollar on world markets, foreign governments, banks and investors are purchasing more and more gold bullion as a hedge against the upcoming collapse of the dollar.

This demand is driving ever upwards the price of gold, and politically and economically pressuring increased extraction of gold at a frenzied rate. The gold mining giants such as Barrick Gold Corporation are consolidating their power through mergers and takeovers, with support of public and private international finance corporations. But resistance makes their profit margins increasingly narrow: A variety of tactics from political delays to sabotage, and pressures on a local level can make all the difference in the world in halting their projects and sending these firms, and their activities, into a tailspin.

The fight against big mining insertion in Latin America, North America, Asia, Australia and throughout the world is an ecological battle to preserve the mountains and water that sustain life and livelihoods; it is a fight for local power in the face of a globalized world system; it is a fight for the dignity of people and culture within their environment. And finally: We must support the fight against destructive gold mining because every ounce of gold extracted from our sacred mountains today is going towards the support of this genocidal imperial military world order.

For more information:

www.minesandcommunities.org

www.protestbarrick.net www.conflictosmineros.org

Slingshot Issue #95 Introduction

Slingshot is an independent, radical, newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

Once again, we created the paper using the “Slingshot miracle.” A week ago at the article deadline, there were barely three of us. If we had been sensible, we would have postponed the issue or just quit. But luckily, we aren’t very sensible. Something told us that if we kept pretending the issue would happen, a huge crew of people we hadn’t even met yet would show up at the last minute and make the paper possible — and that’s just what happened.

It got us thinking about the way we struggle to change society in general. Is rebellion waiting right below the surface, but we’re all collectively too sensible to just make it happen? If you look around, things seem pretty doomed — wars, government repression, huge corporations, and the ho-hum grind of capitalist business as usual — everyone going to work to make the rich more powerful, all the while killing the planet — endless chainstores, boring jobs and freeways filled with cars speeding in every fucking direction.

But when we briefly throw off our chains, to our surprise, people join in. Rather than the world being filled with faceless robots content with their cubicles, we are overjoyed to discover so many others who share our yearning for freedom — for a life much more intense and meaningful than TV, the internet, and material possessions. If we want a new world, we have to dare to try — trusting that we won’t end up alone.

• • •

There are so many articles we wanted to include in this issue that aren’t here. It doesn’t seem right to publish a radical paper without denouncing the Iraq war, yet there are only so many ways to say the same thing — we marched in the streets before the war started, and it only gets more obvious each passing day what a fraud and a disaster it has been. The war shows how hopeless it is to work within the system — the Democrats and the liberal media may say they no longer like the war, but they’ve never done shit to stop it, and they never will. From the war to torture to global warming to so many other crimes — the US empire is rotten to the core and sooner or later, it will collapse into dust. We look forward to laughing and spitting on its fucking grave!

More missing articles: while we made the paper, tens of thousands marched in Jena, Louisiana to decry racism. Locally, the cops bulldozed the compost bins and another free clothing box in Berkeley’s People’s Park. If the cops don’t like compost in bins in a park, maybe they would prefer our rotting vegetables in the streets?

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors & independent thinkers to make this paper. If you send something written, please be open to being edited.

We need to find a new waxer for layout — if you know what that is and have one, please donate it!

Editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot collective, but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collective members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to all who made this: Astrogirl, Compost, Dwight, Eggplant, Glenn, Hefty Lefty, Hunter, Kathryn, Kevin, Kerry, Micah, Moxy, PB, rugrat, Sue, Suzie and Taiga.

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on Sunday, November 25 at 4 p.m. at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below).

Article Deadline and Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 96 by January 12, 2008 at 3 p.m.

Volume 1, Number 95, Circulation 16,000

Printed September 27, 2007

Slingshot Newspaper

Sponsored by Long Haul

3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705

Phone: (510) 540-0751

slingshot@tao.ca • www.slingshot.tao.ca

Circulation Information

Slingshot is free in the Bay Area and is available at Long Haul and Bound Together Books (SF), plus lots of other places. Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income and anyone in the USA who has a Slingshot organizer, or cost $1 per issue. International is $2.50 per issue. Back issues are available for the cost of postage. National free distribution program: Outside of the Bay Area, we’ll mail a stack of free copies of Slingshot to distributors, infoshops, bookstores and random friendly individuals for FREE in the US if they give ‘em out for free.

Circulation Information

Slingshot is free in the Bay Area and is available at Long Haul and Bound Together Books (SF), plus lots of other places. Contact us or come by if you want to distribute Slingshot for free in the Bay Area.

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income and anyone in the USA who has a Slingshot organizer, or cost $1 per issue. International is $2.50 per issue. Back issues are available for the cost of postage. National free distribution program: Outside of the Bay Area, we’ll mail a stack of free copies of Slingshot to distributors, infoshops, bookstores and random friendly individuals for FREE in the US if they give ‘em out for free.

Back issue Project

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues for the cost of postage: send us $3 for 2 lbs or $4 for 3 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. Or drop by our office. Send cash or check to Slingshot to: Slingshot 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705.

Government’s new postal rates help destroy indy media

Most people didn’t notice on May 14 when postage for a first class stamp went up 2 cents that the US postal service also eliminated international surface rate mail and made other dramatic changes to mail rules and rates that negatively effect the small press. These changes are a huge problem for Slingshot’s free newspaper distribution and many other small publishers, non-profits and community service groups.

Small Press Rates Increase Disproportionately

The main change on May 14 was a very strange, uneven rate increase on mailing publications. When the US Postal Rate Commission was initially considering raising postage on May 14, the US postal service had suggested a 12 percent across the board increase of postal rates. At the last minute, the Postal Rate Commission instead approved a very complex and confusing plan proposed by Time Warner — one of the largest publishers in the world — which provided discounts for huge mailers, while raising rates for the small press by 20 and in some cases 30 percent. Instead of postage rates being based mostly on the number of pieces in a mailing and their weight, postage is now based on the level of automation a mailer is able to provide for its mail. Huge mailers can fully comply, while small presses lack the resources to fully automate.

The rules were so technical and confusing that no one noticed what was happening until it was too late — the “public” only had 8 days to comment — and how many members of the “public” other than corporate lobbyists representing big publishers notice what the Postal Rate Commission is doing, anyway?

Since May, there has been an on-line petition and other efforts to try to convince the postal service to go back to a more level playing field. (Check out freepress.net to sign.) The rate increase is just another corporate welfare measure to favor wealthy publishers and push out small publications.

As part of the rate increase, the postal service changed the rules that define whether a particular mail piece is a letter, a flat or a package to make them extremely confusing and to categorize lots of stuff as expensive packages that used to be cheap letters. The post office gave us a Kafka-esque flyer to help us figure out which category each particular mail piece is now in — you have to see this thing to believe it. You have to look at shape, thickness, and flexibility by following sort of a flow chart and putting your mail through little slots and against grids.

The main justification for the complex rules is that mail that fits the guidelines can be handled by robots — it is “automation compatible” and “machineable” — and it is thus cheaper for the postal service, so the postage should be cheaper. This sounds good until you realize that it means that you are now serving a computer and a robot, rather than the robot serving you. I can imagine Hal talking to my package of Slingshots:

Slingshot: Hello, HAL do you read me, HAL?

HAL: Affirmative, Dave, I read you.

Slingshot: Open the postbox doors, HAL.

HAL: I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Slingshot is just coming to terms with how these changes will complicate our mailing operations. If you’re a big commercial mail house, all the new rules and the need to access fancy machines and computers may not be such a problem, but as an all-volunteer rag tag operation, the changes may make it impossible for us to mail out this current issue that you hold in your hand for anything resembling a reasonable price. As we go to press, we honestly don’t know if we’ve figured out the rules right or whether our mailing will be rejected when we bring it in to the post office. The written rules are more complex than tax law (although we have been trying to read and figure them out . . .).

We’ve been mailing Slingshot ourselves — folding it and addressing it by hand as a big group sitting around on a Sunday afternoon — for almost 20 years. It is depressing to realize that we may no longer be able to use the US postal service — Benjamin Franklin’s dream of a public post — to distribute our publication because computers, and not people, are now in charge.

Surface Rate Eliminated

Prior to May 14, we sent 1 pound packages of the newspaper for free to a dozen or so countries via surface rate postage, i.e. ships. It was slow but affordable. The vast bulk of the free papers went to Canada (probably by truck or train, not ship). Under the new postal service rules, all international mail now must go via air. A single pound of newspapers to England, for example, now costs $10.40 — for 8 copies! It used to be $4 or so via surface mail.

We’re looking at other options but the most likely result is that we will stop sending multiple copies overseas. We mail single copies to about 25 countries and the price for mailing a single copy is still okay. The biggest problem is for Canada, where we ship many packages of papers for free distro — without surface rate, we’re in danger of losing our entire Canadian readership. If anyone has suggestions, let us know.

In response to the elimination of surface rate, groups including the National Peace Corps Association launched a petition that has been signed by over 4,000 people asking the postal service to restore surface rate postage. Surface rate was frequently used by non-profits and development groups trying to send books overseas. If you want to sign the on-line petition, check out www.petitiononline.com/zikomo/petition.html

When we initiate Change – are you in it for the Long Haul

For the last 15 years, Slingshot has had its offices at Long Haul, a radical community center and infoshop in Berkeley. Long Haul has been going for 28 years — since 1979! For the last 10 or so years, Long Haul has hosted a Proposition 215 medical marijuana dispensary that is open during the day Tuesday – Saturday. Because it is necessary to consider privacy and security for that kind of activity, Long Haul has been basically closed for radical political activity during the hours they’ve been operating.

In early September, the medical marijuana folks started moving out and closing down their operation — they gave notice that they’ll be out altogether by December 15, 2007. They had been trying to move to a different space for several years, but ultimately the city wouldn’t give them the permits they needed and it became clear that the government was just stalling, hoping they would close down and go away.

This will mark a watershed moment for Long Haul and open up lots of exciting possibilities for transforming and expanding Long Haul. Folks involved in Long Haul want to reach out to the community for new energy and new ideas about what to do with the space once the medical marijuana project moves out.

So this is a call for new visions. If you’re in the East Bay and have ideas, let us know. Long Haul has relatively cheap operating expenses and is in a desirable area just 2 blocks from BART on a vibrant radical block across from La Peña and the Starry Plough. Long Haul needs new energy, new ideas, new projects and new folks to reach its full potential. There are available hours during the day Monday – Friday if you have a project that needs a place to operate during the day. There are also two office spaces available.

In the past, the Long Haul has been a petri dish for new groups getting started — it provided a cheap place for Prisoner Activist Resource Center and Spiral Gardens to start out, and it hosted the East Bay IWW, several local free skools and Food not Bombs for a time. Could your idea or project be the next exciting thing to be born at Long Haul? Contact Long Haul at 510 540-0751 / 3124 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley.

New plans for Organizer the Haloween

As the Slingshot organizer has gotten more popular and as we’ve printed more copies each year, the all-volunteer Slingshot Collective has increasingly struggled with how to distribute the organizer. We’ve been doing it ourselves as unpaid volunteers since the beginning. A few years ago, we decided to only do wholesale distro — to infoshops, stores, and mail order distros. Even so, a bunch of us spend pretty much all our weekends, evenings and days off from September to February packing organizers into boxes.

This year the size of the project reached a breaking point and something had to change. So, starting now, we’re only going to deal with the wholesale distribution of the organizer ourselves from September 11 – Halloween. After Halloween, our volunteer distro will turn into a pumpkin and stores, etc. can get wholesale copies of the organizer from for-profit distributors. We strongly encourage infoshops, stores, etc. to contact us during October to order the organizer — you’ll get a better wholesale price that way and we’ll get a better deal, too.

After October, contact the following distributors to order copies of the Organizer:

• Microcosm 222 S. Rogers St. Bloomington, IN 47404 812-323-7395 www.microcosmpublishing.com

• AK Press 674 A 23rd Street Oakland, CA 94612, 510 208 -1700 www.akpress.org

• Whoop! Distro PO Box 3885 Berkeley, CA 94703 www.whoopdistro.org

• Last Gasp 777 Florida, San Francisco, CA 94110 800 848-4277 www.lastgasp.com

• Small Changes (Trade only) PO Box 70740 Seattle, WA 98127 206-382-1980

• Buyolympia.com 360-292-7024

• Visionworks PO Box 92, Greenfield, MA 01302-0092 (800) 933-7326 www.changingworld.com

• In Canada: Black Cat Distro P.O. Box 229 Roberts Creek, BC V0N 2W0 Canada, blackcat@resist.ca

• In Europe Active Distro, BM Active, London, WC1N 3XX, UK, www.activedistribution.org, jon@activedistribution.org

2008 Republican National Convention is not in the frying pan

One sunny day in late August we found ourselves standing on the highway. As the sun beat down mercilessly we looked at each other doing our best to keep our good hitchhiking clothes smelling sweet for just one more ride.

Fifteen hundred miles later, we arrived in Minneapolis/St. Paul several days early for the PreNC, a gathering of anarchists hosted by the RNC Welcoming Committee with the purpose of developing a large-scale direct action strategy to shut down next year’s Republican National Convention. As delegates from the North Carolina faction of the growing Unconventional Action network, this gathering was the culmination of six months of networking, propagandizing, and strategizing in our own region.

Why organize early for the conventions? Why organize for them at all?

Many would point out that political party conventions are largely symbolic gatherings, where most of the major decision-making has already happened. Shouldn’t we focus on disrupting something more tangible? There is wisdom in this critique, but it could be applied to just about any single protest or event. The point of any single, coordinated day of action is to prove to the broader public, as well as ourselves, that we do in fact have the power to interfere with the rich and powerful on our own terms.

There are several factors that make the party conventions an excellent choice for such interference. In 2008 disillusionment with the endless war and the party system that refuses to end that war will reach a peak, just as the public visibility of anarchists in this part of the world is bottoming out. Many issues that anarchists work on locally will intersect with the diverse struggles of non-anarchist folks at these protests, and more of these people will be drawn to direct action than in many years past. We believe it is crucial that anarchists organize early on to set the tone for this direct action, in order to avoid being eclipsed by the authoritarian politicking and liberal marches of the last few years. Moreover, Denver (DNC) and St. Paul (RNC) have promising strategic vulnerabilities unsurpassed in recent years of mass mobilizations.

The Strategy

On the penultimate day of the pReNC, over 100 anti-authoritarians from around the country gathered together to distill their schemes and dreams into a formal stratagem. Smaller working groups of around 20 focused on nationwide communications, food/medical /legal infrastructure, media, coalition building, and action strategy. Pouring over maps, timetables, and photographs of the city, this last group hammered out the specifics of an action plan:

• On the first day, maximum disruption will be caused by a three-tiered direct action strategy. The tiers are, in order of priority:

Tier One: Establish 15-20 blockades, utilizing a diversity of tactics, creating an inner and outer ring around St. Paul’s Excel Center, where the RNC will be held.

Tier Two: Immobilize the delegates’ transportation infrastructure.

Tier Three: Block the five western bridges connecting the cities.

It was repeatedly emphasized that people plugging into this strategy will be free to shape their actions as they see fit, using tactics they find appropriate. As the specific blockade sites develop, there may be a system of delegating some sites as “red zones” (more rowdy, will fight back), “yellow zones” (feisty but peaceful), and “green zones” (non-arrestable) so as to accommodate a wide variety of creative tactics. Soon locals will be identifying the most strategic blockade sites, and will be available to answer questions about measurements, geography, etc. So get your comrades together, print out some maps, and start thinking about which site you want to cover now. Over the next six months groups will begin adopting specific intersections, streets, on-ramps, or bridges as their own.

The pReNC is calling for local and regional groups to organize their own planning consultas over the next few months, to be ready to reconvene in Minneapolis in summer 2008. They are also calling for a series of local actions against oppression and electoral politics leading up to and building momentum and experience for the RNC and DNC. More information on calls for local actions are in the works.

Eye to the horizon, ear to the ground

On October 5-7, radicals converged in Denver for the annual anti-Columbus Day marches to hold their own Unconventional Consulta to develop the strategy of direct action for the Democratic National Convention. (Slingshot went to press before the meeting – ed.) For info email unconventionaldenver@ riseup.net. The finalized strategies for both conventions will be published in a newspaper to be distributed throughout the country, and Unconventional Action groups will be doing road shows to publicize both strategies and facilitate direct action training. The website www.unconventionalaction.org will serve as an info point, networking tool, and research hub for folks around the country. While planning what roles you wish to play in these actions, be sure to start fundraising; the RNC Welcoming Committee estimates that it will need as much as 50,000 dollars for a two-month-long convergence center, legal costs, and other necessary expenses, and undoubtedly similar funds will be needed in Denver.

We have one year to prepare for the most extravagant theatre in this war on exploitation. That means one year to study maps, prepare blockades, run our sprints, climb fences, craft disguises, find press credentials, procure bolt-cutters, and most importantly, gather those close to us and devise our own plans. The political parties hope to rally their support with all the bells, whistles, lights and confetti that can be expected from a class that cares more about appearances than human life. But we envision a different outcome. We will be here to ensure that when the CNN cameras pan the Xcel center on the first night of the RNC, not one seat in the entire stadium is filled. Our actions will eclipse the RNC. We are going to shut the convention down.

Get ready — a year goes faster than a root beer float in August.

G8 meets in Japan – I’ll see you in the streets

In July 2008, heads of the states that monopolize two thirds of earth’s wealth will gather at Toya Lake in Hokkaido Japan. Although the so-called Group of Eight does not have any legitimate right for deciding planetary affairs, they have self-appointed themselves world rulers. Thus the G8 has driven neo-liberal globalization at the same time as spreading poverty, violence, hatred, segregation, and environmental destruction.

At a very critical moment of world capitalism during the 1970s, the G8 was established to form a consensus among the imperialist nation-states. The ‘consensus’ signifies nothing short of finding out the most convenient means of driving global financialization, privatization, commercialization, and militarization and camouflaging these processes as if they were for the public well-being.

In the past the G8 has expressed concerns about human rights and poverty. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the need for a human-faced globalization. But then, who is it that violates human rights on the pretext of the “fight against terrorism”? Who is it that is eliminating public education the world over? Who is it that privatizes almost all the resources left for humanity — land, water, and food — and preys on the increasing global poverty? Who is it that produces and exports more than 90% of the world’s weaponry? At the 2007 summit in Heiligendamm, one of the main themes was the poverty in Africa, but what they proposed as a measure to combat it was, shockingly, the deregulation of investment in Africa. From its behavior we have learned that for the G8, even human rights and poverty are just another opportunity for capitalists’ expropriation.

At the Toya Lake summit in 2008, the main theme will be environmental problems. What a deceit! It is the G8 that ravages the natural resources of the world–even resorting to arms–and discharges more than 40% of the planetary carbon dioxide, hence instigating the climate changes. Shinzo Abe, the just-resigned prime minister of Japan who was to have hosted the 2008 summit, invented a vain slogan: “Invitation to ‘Cool Earth 50′,” which proposes in substance the exportation of nuclear power plants to developing countries–nothing that counters capitalist interests and works for true enduring development.

We are no longer silent. Neither do we intend to make a petition for a better G8 through conversation. By way of direct action, we will demand the termination of 2008 Toya Lake Summit and the decomposition of G8.

Also we will demand the immediate liquidation of the policies of the just-resigned Abe administration of Japan, the sole participant in the G8 from Asia. The Japanese government is in the midst of pushing for neo-liberalist reforms and the fortification of the security-state in Japan, while persisting in sending troops to Iraq as a simple-minded follower of the US strategy for its global military rule. At the same time, just-resigned Abe’s main objective was to amend Japan’s constitution in order to complete the long-lasting ambitions of imperialist Japan. Thus, to thwart the ambitions of the Japanese state is no longer a concern of Japan alone, but a must for the struggle against the neo-liberalist expansion and militarization in the entire Asian region. Our objective to terminate G8 is inseparable from these regional tasks.

We appeal to you, all the people struggling in different regions of the world, to join No! G8 Japan in July 2008 in Toya Lake, Hokkaido Japan. We consider our project as a continuation of the planetary anti-G8 struggles, especially those coordinated by Dissent network. We seek to add a new phase of it in the Far East. Let us organize together the widest possible global network and create an unimaginably varied, rich, and powerful spectacle of struggle. By so doing let G8 know that a world that is totally different from the one driven by the capitalist principles, a world that is based upon the principles of autonomy, mutual aid, and direct democracy, is possible.

For info, check http://a.sanpal.co.jp/no-g8 — parts are in English. Organizers are planning a tour of Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Indonesia to promote the protest.

First national Copwatch conference – a bitter-sweet Truth: police accountability movement swells in face of systematic police abuse

Nearly 100 people gathered July 13-15, 2007, in Oakland, CA to discuss and strategize around issues of police abuse. Representing over 20 organizations from around the country, the first National Copwatch Conference achieved its goal of bringing together organizers and activists who directly monitor the police on a local, grassroots level. From New Orleans to Portland, Chicago to Denver, Los Angeles to Winnipeg, organizers met face to face to learn from each other’s experiences while retaining a decentralized, grassroots organizing model. Throughout the conference, it was obvious that a movement is spreading across the country – and into Canada – based on the action of videotaping the police.

The first Copwatch organization started in 1990 in Berkeley, CA as a response to increased policing of the homeless community, people of color and activists on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue. Copwatching — based on the organizing of the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement and the Brown Berets — is a non-violent model of directly monitoring the police with video cameras to both deter and document police abuse. Nearly 17 years later, over 70 groups around the country – not to mention those in Canada, Australia and France – are actively on the streets monitoring local law enforcement. The need for a conference, a space to bring these groups together and see the faces of their struggling siblings, has been a long time coming.

After going to police accountability conferences lacking the space to discuss direct police monitoring, Berkeley Copwatch co-founder Andrea Prichett wanted to simply create the space for those invested in copwatching. At Friday night’s opening session, she acknowledged the bitter-sweet truth all of us face in our organizing: the beauty in the emergence of a national police accountability movement is based in the oppressive reality of systemic police abuse. The other key-note speakers, Big Man Howard from the Black Panther Party and New Orleans community organizer Greg Griffiths, spoke to the history and current need for a Copwatch movement.

The bulk of Saturday consisted of over 20 workshops with presenters representing over 25 different organizations. Topics included: immigration and local law enforcement, documenting abuse against women and queer communities, media messaging, video activism, working with natural allies, civilian oversight models, independent investigation, empowering homeless and poor communities, organizational security, copwatching techniques, alternatives to the police, training Know Your Rights workshop trainers, policing of gangs, disability and mental health issues, banning tasers, using technology in organizing and sustaining a Copwatch organization. The ability for organizers to see and discuss how they are not alone in the struggle was monumental.

A major strength of Copwatch is its dedication to grassroots organizing. Specific to the members and resources of a given community, no two Copwatch groups are identical. Factors such as communities being urban or rural, cities or towns, their proximity to the US border, the local use of federal law enforcement agencies such as ICE, FBI and Homeland Security and the existence of civilian oversight all shape the way Copwatch groups function within their community. Despite these and other differences, the gathering provided the space for Copwatch organizers to share techniques and experiences around similarities in national police trends, for example the growing number of local ICE raids, the role of the police in gentrification, violence against women and queers and state attacks on civilian review boards.

But the conference did not focus on the outrageous state of police violence as a hopeless reality; it also provided a space to share success stories and give hope to those dedicated to this growing movement. Attended by Conference participants as well as members of the community, Saturday night’s film festival called upon groups to share footage of their local organizing. Featuring the documentary Free Ya Hood from the Brooklyn chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, as well as footage from Phoenix, Denver, San Jose and San Francisco, the night illustrated both the alarming reality of police abuse as well as local victories in ending such brutality. A necessary event for a movement based around video activism, the film fest was simply another moment to share and understand the national impact of police abuse and the need for a network, a movement, creating true safety in its communities.

A movement. A network. Not a national organization. While Sunday’s plenary resulted in the creation of a national list-serv and website to be used primarily for contacting other Copwatch groups, the building of a movement resulted primarily from organizers around the country meeting each other face to face, leading and attending workshops and understanding they are not alone in this struggle to keep their communities safe. The national network created at the conference was meant only to support the work of local community organizing; it is not a national headquarters or national organization creating a top-down model of organizing. Each community has its own specific needs and resources to best organize itself. The network will serve only as a way to share strategy, experience and create discussion around this decentralized movement known as Copwatch The First National Copwatch Conference was truly the first of many to come.

For more information on the National Copwatch Conference, check out the website at www.copwatchconference.org.For more information on Berkeley Copwatch, copwatching in general, or to get in touch with an existing group copwatching near you, feel free to contact us at: Berkeley Copwatch 2022 Blake St, Berkeley, Ca 94609 berkeleycopwatch@yahoo.com www.berkeleycopwatch.org 510.548.0425