Interview, Democracy Now!, December 22, 2008
AMY GOODMAN: While many environmental groups launched campaigns to oppose the sale of the land [environmentally sensitive federal lands in Utah being sold to oil companies], one student in Salt Lake City attempted to block the sale by disrupting the auction itself. Twenty-seven-year-old Tim DeChristopher posed as a potential bidder and bid hundreds of thousands of dollars on parcels of the land, driving up prices and winning some 22,000 acres for himself, without any intention of paying for them. The Bureau of Land Management must now wait over a month before it can auction off these properties, but by then the bureau will no longer be run by the Bush administration....
TIM DECHRISTOPHER: I started off, actually, at a final exam at the university and went straight from there down to the BLM office. And I saw some protesters walking back and forth outside, and I knew that I wanted to do more than that and that this kind of injustice demanded a higher level of disruption. And so, I just decided that I wanted to go inside and cause a bigger disruption.
And from there, I found it really easy to get inside and become a bidder, and went inside and was in the auction room. And once I was in there, I realized that any kind of speech or disruption or something like that wasn't going to be very effective, but I saw pretty quickly that I could have a pretty major impact on the way this worked. And it just took me a little bit of time to build up the courage to do that, knowing what the consequences would be. And so, I started bidding and started driving up the prices for some of the oil companies. And throughout that time, I knew that I could be doing more and could really set aside some acres to really be protected. And so, then I started winning bids and disrupting it as clearly as I could....
Michael Tarm, Associated Press, December 10, 2008
"Jubilant workers, cheering and chanting "Yes We Can," celebrated outside a Chicago factory after approving a $1.75 million agreement to end their six-day sit-in, a dispute that became a symbol of the plight of labor nationwide. Republic Windows & Doors, union leaders and Bank of America reached the deal Wednesday night.....
"Each former Republic employee will get eight weeks' salary, all accrued vacation pay and two months' paid health care, said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who helped broker the deal. He said it works out to about $7,000 apiece."
Don Babwin, Associated Press, December 8, 2008
The nation's grim economy now has a rallying point: Employees at a window-and-door factory that went out of business have taken over the building in a siege that has come to symbolize the woes of the ordinary worker.
The Republic Windows and Doors factory closed abruptly last week after Bank of America canceled the company's financing. Since then, about 200 of the 240 laid-off workers have taken turns occupying the factory, declaring that they will not leave until getting assurances they will receive severance and accrued vacation pay....
Blagojevich on Monday ordered all state agencies to stop doing business with Bank of America to pressure the bank into using federal bailout money it received to help the laid-off workers. "We hope that this kind of leverage and pressure will encourage Bank of America to do the right thing for this business," Blagojevich said outside the plant. "Take some of that federal tax money that they've received and invest it by providing the necessary credit to this company so these workers can keep their jobs."
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said he wanted to ask his fellow senators to remind banks that the bailout wasn't to be used for dividends and executive salaries. "They're for loans and credit to businesses just like Republic," he said.
Sign the Jobs with Justice petition to support the workers occupying the Chicago factory & hold Bank of America accountable.
"How Fumbling the Bailout Led to the Chicago Sit In," by Ian Welsh for Firedoglake, December 8, 2008
Sarah van Gelder, Yes Magazine, April 28, 2008
"We need to take a page from Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine. Her book shows that disasters--natural and human made--often provide openings for policies that people would never accept under ordinary circumstances. She calls this anti-democratic practice, disaster capitalism.
"Perhaps we need to do the inverse. Use disastrous times to create the bottom-up, deeply democratic alternatives that, during ordinary times, might seem more trouble than they're worth. These alternatives may be small scale at first, but they can function like seeds in a supersaturated solution. Without these particles, a solution can remain in a dissolved state. But add the "seeds" and crystals rapidly take shape and grow.
"On KUOW this morning, people talked of planting more gardens, going to the farmers market, hooking up with local farmers. Local food is not expected to get more expensive, one farmer said.
"Rather than follow the advice of World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who is calling for more of the same trade liberalization and instead of pushing GM crops on more farmers and consumers, we should turn to local production for local, human consumption. Biofuels should be made from waste crops and manure, not from food. The Farm Bill has provisions we should support and others we need to resist. We should be developing the local capacities to feed ourselves, turning lawns into "victory gardens," supporting local farmers, helping new farmers to get a start, creating farm incubators.
"Via Campesina, an international organization of farmers, has been pressing for these changes for years. Also Food First and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy."