Ten years after September 11, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has prioritized protecting American citizens from the threat of domestic terrorism emanating from within our borders. Consequently, about 15,000 of our friends, neighbors, business proprietors and religious leaders now work as paid, untrained informants for the FBI, in zealous pursuit of disrupting a terrorist threat. Though a clear path to “radicalization” has yet to be identified, the FBI relies on this vast network of informants to “see something and say something” about American citizens whose speech, ideology or religious expression suggests cause for a national security investigation. The Obama administration is invoking the state secrets privilege to block legal challenges to the surveillance as a violation of constitutional rights.
Tombstones memorialize victims of repression and violence. (Photos: David Bacon Mexico City – Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon gave the fifth state of the nation speech since his (many say fraudulent) election in 2006. He didn't have an easy time finding a positive spin for the escalating toll exacted by his war on drug gangs – 50,000 dead, mostly innocent civilians, in the last five years. Making his job even more difficult, just days earlier, the war's bloody cost was highlighted when 52 people, mostly working women and retirees on their lunch hour, were burned to death in a fire set by the Zetas in a Monterrey casino. Since then, Mexican newspapers have exposed a web of corruption linking businessmen, narcos and politicians from Calderon's own party in the enormous proliferation of gambling houses over the last several years.
A resident of Lanare, California, a town just fifty miles outside of Fresno that is facing a water crisis. (Photo: David Bacon) Lanare, California – When Mary Broad moved to Lanare in 1955, there were only four other families still living in this tiny, unincorporated community in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, halfway between old Highway 99 and Interstate 5 on the cracked blacktop of Mt. McKinley Avenue. It wasn't always this way. Lanare used to be a company town, taking its name from rancher and speculator L.A. Nares, one of the last of a string of speculators from the east coast who purchased the old Spanish land grants – in his case, the Rancho Laguna de Tache. From 1912 to 1925 the town had a post office and a station on the Laton and Western Railway.
(Photos: David Bacon) Over 1,400 Los Angeles janitors, members of United Service Workers West SEIU, protested the firing of immigrant workers by Able Building Maintenance. The company has fired workers whose immigration status the company questions, even though the workers have been cleaning the buildings where they work for many years. In protest, workers marched through downtown Los Angeles at lunch hour, stopping in front of buildings where Able has the cleaning contract, and finally sat down in an intersection, stopping traffic.Firings because of immigration status do irreparable harm to workers and to their communities.
Antonio and Jocelyn Sanchez. (Photos: David Bacon) Driving south out of Silicon Valley, the big electronics plants gradually disappear, along with the sprawling developments that house their workers. In their place spreads San Benito County's fields of lettuce and tomatoes and orchards of apricots and walnuts. Something else changes too. As communities get more rural and farm workers make up more of the population, people get poorer.
(Photos: Zach Roberts) We all needed this. Lady Gaga and Cher filled the air for blocks around the historic Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street on Friday night, June 24. Yes, it was Pride Weekend in New York City – but this one had a different air about it. The New York State Legislature was toying with when to vote on the Marriage Equality Act – which would legalize gay marriage in New York State.
A camp resident at a displacement camp in Port-au-Prince. (Photo: Vince Warren and Laura Raymond) Recently, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) delegation in Haiti visited the Barbancourt II displacement camp in Port-au-Prince. This camp is home to 310 families who lost their homes in the earthquake and have set up tents, tarps and corrugated metal structures with the few possessions they have left on the corner of an industrial company's property. We talked with camp leaders and other residents who told us that the owner has notified them that they will be evicted in a week. This is the latest in what has been a series of threats; last November, the owner showed up with 24 police with guns drawn.
A daycare worker comforts one of the children she cares for in Santa Rosa. Daycare workers are trying to form unions in many parts of the US. (Photo: David Bacon) In the 150-year history of workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, the watershed event was one that happened 70 years ago – the San Francisco general strike. That year, sailors, longshoremen, and other maritime workers shut down all the ports on the West Coast, trying to form a union and end favoritism, low wages and grueling 10- and 12-hour days. Ship owners deployed tanks and guns on the waterfront and tried to break the strike.
Since Gov. Scott Walker introduced a bill that would effectively outlaw collective bargaining for public-sector workers, Madison, Wisconsin, has seen tens of thousands of people flock to the State Capitol Building to voice their opposition to the proposed legislation. Here are a few of their reasons for coming out. Photo: Mario Garcia Karin Kalish was spending the night at the capitol without a sleeping bag – she had been chatting to a friend and didn't realize how late it was, and didn't want to leave the building in case she couldn't get back in. Though she admits she isn't “having my best night,” Kalish is committed to staying at the capitol because she believes the bill “may actually endanger peoples' lives.”