Burglars Who Took On F.B.I. Abandon Shadows

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/us/burglars-who-took-on-fbi-abandon-shadows.html?_r=5&

By
JAN. 7, 2014

PHILADELPHIA — The perfect crime is far easier to pull off when nobody is watching.

So on a night nearly 43 years ago, while Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier bludgeoned each other over 15 rounds in a televised title bout viewed by millions around the world, burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside.

They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups.

The burglary in Media, Pa., on March 8, 1971, is a historical echo today, as disclosures by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden have cast another unflattering light on government spying and opened a national debate about the proper limits of government surveillance. The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.

“When you talked to people outside the movement about what the F.B.I. was doing, nobody wanted to believe it,” said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement. “There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting.”

Mr. Forsyth, now 63, and other members of the group can no longer be prosecuted for what happened that night, and they agreed to be interviewed before the release this week of a book written by one of the first journalists to receive the stolen documents. The author, Betty Medsger, a former reporter for The Washington Post, spent years sifting through the F.B.I.’s voluminous case file on the episode and persuaded five of the eight men and women who participated in the break-in to end their silence.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/us/burglars-who-took-on-fbi-abandon-shadows.html?_r=5&

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Conservatives Don’t Want To Talk About Income Inequality. That’s Why We Should.

From Pandagon@Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/07/conservatives-dont-want-to-talk-about-income-inequality-thats-why-we-should/

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do you believe people don’t work because they’re lazy? Why not offer them a job and prove it?

Jesse Myerson wrote a great piece in the Rolling Stone rolling out five bold ideas for reducing—permanently—the very serious problem of income inequality. As he says in the piece, while some of these ideas may seem outrageous, they aren’t new or untried ideas. In some places, such as Alaska, things like having the government buy up a bunch of stocks and bonds and pay the dividends directly to the people are already in place. The point of the piece is to be bold and to start pushing progressives to think big, particularly as there’s starting to be a lot more support for progressive economics in the larger public. It also caused right wingers to go on major meltdown alert, as Brian Beutler explains.

But conservatives went absolutely apeshit. So severe was the apoplexy that they failed to recognize that included in these ideas were a bunch of things conservatives like — replacing income taxes and replacing paternalistic welfare programs with cash transfers — and that already exist successfully in the non-communist world. It was amazing.

In their rendering, Myerson hadn’t sketched out a road to serfdom. He’d planned a massive frog-march to Siberia for our society.

Part of this was emotional affect. Myerson’s Twitter bio is satirically hashtagged #FULLCOMMUNISM. Combine that with the article’s hyperbolic framing and many conservatives reacted tribally.

He wisely points out that the reason they’re going over the top like this is not because they think Myerson’s going to get his way any time soon on any of these agenda items.

I don’t think the ongoing freakout over the Rolling Stone article is simply a reflection of cultural anxieties. It also reflects an effort to limit the scope of that debate, so that progressive ideas fall outside the sphere of mainstream public debate.

Conservatives, perhaps because they come to the conformist mentality more easily than liberals, tend to be more cognizant of how much political discourse is governed by the Overton window and not by niceties like intellectual honesty and rigor. So they’re attempting to make an example out of Myerson for the rest of liberals: Do not even consider bringing up policy ideas to fix our income inequality problems or this will happen to you. Conservatives are clearly afraid, particularly that the public might warm to these ideas. Which is all the more reason for liberals to start pushing harder. If conservatives are this afraid to have a discussion about income inequality, it’s because they know that it’s a weak spot for them and a strong spot for liberals.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/07/conservatives-dont-want-to-talk-about-income-inequality-thats-why-we-should/

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Democracy needs whistleblowers. That’s why I broke into the FBI in 1971

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/07/fbi-1971-burglary-hold-government-accountable

Like Snowden, we broke laws to reveal something that was more dangerous. We wanted to hold J Edgar Hoover accountable


theguardian.com, Tuesday 7 January 2014

I vividly remember the eureka moment. It was the night we broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in March 1971 and removed about 1,000 documents from the filing cabinets. We had a hunch that there would be incriminating material there, as the FBI under J Edgar Hoover was so bureaucratic that we thought every single thing that went on under him would be recorded. But we could not be sure, and until we found it, we were on tenterhooks.

A shout went up among the group of eight of us. One of us had stumbled on a document from FBI headquarters signed by Hoover himself. It instructed the bureau’s agents to set up interviews of anti-war activists as “it will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.”

That was the first piece of evidence to emerge. It was a vindication.

Looking back on what we did, there are obvious parallels with what Edward Snowden has done in releasing National Security Agency documents that show the NSA’s blanket surveillance of Americans. I think Snowden’s a legitimate whistleblower, and I guess we could be called whistleblowers as well.

I was 29 when my husband John and I decided to join six other people to carry out the break-in. I was a mother of three children, aged eight, six and two, and I was working on a degree in education at Temple University, where John was a professor of religion.

We had both been heavily involved in the civil rights movement. John had been a freedom rider, and in Philadelphia we participated in anti-war protests against Vientnam. Through that activity we knew that the FBI was actively trying to squelch dissent, illegally and secretly. We knew that they were sending informants into university classrooms, infiltrating meetings, and tapping phones. The problem was that though we knew all this, there was no way to prove it.

A physics professor at Haverford College named Bill Davidon called a few of us together at his home. Bill, who died last November, floated the idea of doing something to obtain evidence. He just came out with it: “What do you think about breaking into an FBI office to remove the files?” If it hadn’t been for Bill, who was so smart and strategic, I’m not sure we would have taken it seriously. But we did.

Bill articulated for all of us the frustration over the foment of those times, and the feeling that we all had of being compelled to do something as ordinary citizens because no one in Washington was holding Hoover accountable. We started looking into the feasibility of a break-in. Right away, we found out the main FBI office in Philadelphia was in a high-rise in the center of the city, and that it was impregnable. Then we learned there were other field offices in the suburbs, and that lead us to Media.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/07/fbi-1971-burglary-hold-government-accountable

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Tycoon’s hostage taking strangles pensions: Boeing workers cave on retirement ransom

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/07/tycoons_hostage_taking_strangles_pensions_boeing_workers_cave_on_retirement_ransom/

After government drops an investigation amid a Tea Party firestorm, giant contractor keeps squeezing its employees


Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014

One year after the government dropped an investigation into Boeing’s CEO James McNerney citing strikes as a cause to shift production south, the specter of lost jobs has secured huge concessions for the aerospace giant. After voting down a different deal seven weeks prior, on Friday Boeing employees narrowly approved an agreement to keep a major new line of planes in Washington state, at the cost of indefinitely freezing their pensions.

“Inside the union hall Friday night,” the Seattle Times reported, “the announcement of the contract’s acceptance was greeted with shock, tears and one cry of ‘bullshit.’” Reuters reported Monday that some members plan to seek a recount or re-vote in hopes of averting that result, and to file Labor Board charges against their international union over the issue; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union president R. Thomas Buffenbarger told Reuters “the tally is what it is.”

As I’ve previously reported, Boeing labor strife sparked a Tea Party firestorm in 2011, after the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Boeing on allegations that the company was building a new line of planes outside Washington state as retribution for repeated strikes there – strikes that secured workers a raft of benefits and protections. (While such allegations are usually hard to prove, in this case the IAM could simply cite Boeing executives’ comments to the press.) After Republicans mounted a sustained attack on the agency and President Obama declined to defend the investigation, the International Association of Machinists union reached a contract settlement with Boeing that led to the Labor Board complaint being dropped.

The following fall, Boeing announced that unless the union approved a contract extension with deep concessions on future raises and benefits, a different new line of planes would be built out of state, a scenario some warned would be the beginning of the end of IAM’s stronghold of good union jobs in Puget Sound. Workers voted that deal down in November, 2 to 1. But in last week’s lower-turnout vote, an also-concessionary contract passed by a margin of 51 to 49 per cent.

Local union leaders had opposed the deal and the decision to hold the second vote, but were overridden by the national leadership of the IAM. “IAM members have built Boeing aircraft in Puget Sound for more than 60 years,” IAM International President Buffenbarger said in a statement announcing the results. “This agreement assures they’ll continue building them for decades to come.” The aerospace giant also issued a statement welcoming the result: Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said it means “the future of Boeing in the Puget Sound region has never looked brighter.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/07/tycoons_hostage_taking_strangles_pensions_boeing_workers_cave_on_retirement_ransom/

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A Socialist Elected in Seattle: Kshama Sawant on Occupy, Fight for 15, Boeing’s “Economic Blackmail”

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The Roots of the Tea Party

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15990/the_roots_of_the_tea_party/

How conservatives came to dominate U.S. politics.

BY Melvyn Dubofsky
January 8, 2014

Only by understanding the sources of conservative political power can we hope to advance progressive interests. Two recent books by two distinguished scholars seek to illuminate the topic—that is, to explain the failures of the liberal-labor alliance during and after the New Deal, and the persistent power of conservative, even reactionary, forces. For sociologist G. William Domhoff, author of The Myth of Liberal Ascendancy: Corporate Dominance from the Great Depression to the Great Recession, the culprit was, and is, big business. For historian-cumpolitical scientist Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, the key factor was, and is, the power wielded in Congress by Southern representatives.

Domhoff sets out to destroy a myth he believes historians have created: that a liberal-labor alliance dominated domestic policy-making for a four-decade stretch, during the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society. As Domhoff tells it, while the early New Deal years may have offered brighter prospects for the liberal-labor coalition than subsequent years, even then corporate leaders from such companies as GE, U.S. Steel and Eastman Kodak greatly influenced policy-making. During World War II, they formed the Committee for Economic Development (CED), which Domhoff says dominated economic policy formation until the early 1970s, after which corporate liberals allied with reactionary executives of the later CEO cabal, the Business Roundtable, to promote neoliberalism. He maintains that before the switch to more reactionary policies, the moderate corporate executives shaped Social Security, labor policy, industrial relations, monetary and fiscal policy (forms of conservative Keynesianism), environmental protection (the EPA under Nixon), occupational safety (OSHA) and, of course, economic deregulation to their own advantage— while gaining the consent of those they dominated.

Domhoff may think that he is telling a new story that shreds governing myths, but for two decades historians have been telling the same story—a tale of an America turning increasingly conservative after the “Roosevelt revolution”—without relying upon the hidden hand of the CED. Domhoff hammers on this single note without sufficient recognition of the liberals and labor advocates who shaped the most lasting reforms of the New Deal.

Katznelson’s text covers a shorter span of time, 1933 to 1953, but on a far more sweeping canvas. If he does not uncover a notably different New Deal, his analysis of its guiding forces is more convincing. He uses a wider geographic lens than Domhoff, seeing the United States embedded in a larger world that influenced the making of New Deal policy. His primary organizing principle is the era’s overwhelming sense of dread or fear, precipitated first by the Great Depression, heightened by the butchery of World War II and intensified by the nuclear clouds that hung over humankind in the aftermath of Hiroshima. Though Franklin Roosevelt counseled citizens to stow away their fears in 1933, Katznelson says that such advice was impossible to follow in a world of economic misery, total war and potential thermonuclearannihilation. For him, fear played a greater role than the CED in shaping New Deal America, causing citizens and leaders to seek ever greater security at home and abroad.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15990/the_roots_of_the_tea_party/

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NAFTA at 20: Lori Wallach on U.S. Job Losses, Record Income Inequality, Mass Displacement in Mexico

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