93 NSA Shirt

Liberty Maniacs is a merchandising company known for taking smart and snarky digs at the government; its parody T-shirts contain slogans like “Santorum Happens” and “The CIA: Democratizing the Shit Out of the Third World.”

Not surprising then was the company’s recent decision to make a product line that parodied the dreaded NSA. Liberty Maniacs’ new line of merchandise carries the official agency seal, edited to read, “Peeping While You’re Sleeping,” along with the slogan, “The NSA. The Only Part of the Government That Actually Listens.”

Funny, right? Apparently, not to everyone.

According to The Daily Dot, the popular online market site Zazzle quickly removed the line from its site almost as soon as it went live. The reason cited was that Liberty Maniacs’ use of the NSA seal “may infringe upon intellectual property rights.”

But considering the company’s products are an obvious parody, it would seem that T-shirts like this are a protected form of speech and fall under Fair Use.

The NSA categorically disagrees. The agency issued its own statement about the shirts to The Daily Dot:

    The NSA seal is protected by Public Law 86-36, which states that it is not permitted for “…any person to use the initials ‘NSA,’ the words ‘National Security Agency’ and the NSA seal without first acquiring written permission from the Director of NSA.”

The agency also claimed it didn’t contact Zazzle about Liberty Maniacs’ products in particular, but confirmed its policy is to take “appropriate measures” against any attempts to co-opt their logo.



After four years of campaigning (including bearing witness and taking direct action by Greenpeace activists on the Rainbow Warrior against bottom trawling fishing vessels in the Tasman Sea) to bring an end to deep-sea bottom trawling, an international agreement has been made to protect just under 25 percent of the high seas from this incredibly destructive fishing method.

Representatives from countries around the world gathered in Chile to carve out a fisheries agreement for the South Pacific region. Following a resolution made by the UN in 2006, the countries at the meeting responded strongly with measures to stop destruction of deep water corals, seamounts and other sensitive habitats by vessels that  are bottom trawling in international waters.

From September 2007 bottom trawling vessels in the South Pacific will not be able to fish in areas that have or are even likely to have vulnerable marine ecosystems, unless they’ve completed an assessment to show they won’t do any damage.

The New Zealand fishing industry is responsible for 90 percent of bottom trawling in the region. New Zealand delegates told the meeting these measures would “severely constrain the ability of their fishing industry to continue bottom trawling on the high seas around New Zealand”  and suggested that it may even have the effect of putting an end to bottom trawling.

We’ll be watching to make sure that New Zealand – and all the member countries – put the agreement into action, and implement the measures that will protect the irreplaceable biodiversity of deep sea ecosystems.

Image: Crewman on the New Zealand bottom trawler dump a large piece of ‘Paragorgia’ coral dredged from the deep sea in their net.




91 Defoe illustration

In 1702, in an era of religious persecution in England, Daniel Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe) published a fake pamphlet called “The Shortest Way with the Dissenters.” It proposed that—rather than barring non-Anglicans from office­—it would be faster and easier to exterminate them. Some people believed the pamphlet was real, which so humiliated Anglicans that they had Defoe briefly imprisoned—during which time he produced some wonderful writing.



Non-violent resistance against the construction of a naval base in South Korea

There are some actions for which those of us alive today will be judged in centuries to come. The only question will be: What did we know and when did we know it?

I think one judgment-worthy action may be what you and I do about the militarization of Jeju Island, South Korea.

Jeju isn’t called the most beautiful place on earth for nothing. Ancient volcanoes have become snow-covered peaks with pure mountain streams running down to volcanic beaches and reefs of soft coral. In between are green hills covered with wildflowers, mandarin orange groves, nutmeg forests, tea plantations and rare orchids growing wild; all existing at peace with farms, resorts and small cities. Unesco, the United Nation’s educational, scientific and cultural organization, has designated Jeju Island a world natural heritage site.

Now, a naval base is about to destroy a crucial stretch of the coast of Jeju, and will do this to dock and service destroyers with sophisticated ballistic missile defense systems and space war applications. China and South Korea have positive relations at the moment. But this naval base is not only an environmental disaster on an island less than two-thirds the size of Rhode Island, it may be a globally dangerous provocation besides.

Residents of Gangjeong, the village that is to be home to this base, have been living in tents along the endangered coastline, trying to stave off the dredging and bulldozing. In a vote several years ago at a village meeting, residents overwhelming opposed the base.

They’ve tried to block construction with lawsuits and pleas for a proper environmental impact study. They’ve been fined, beaten, arrested and imprisoned. They’ve gone on hunger strikes, chained themselves to anything available, invited tourists in to see what’s at stake, established Web sites and won support from global peace organizations. Members of the “no base” campaign, including children, camp out along the shore behind high walls erected around the site to conceal the protests. Police officers patrol outside. This has been going on for more than four years.


For myself, I am writing this column, putting a petition on my Facebook page, and hoping for enough Arab Spring-like activism to topple one naval base.

I’ve never known less what will happen. I can still hear the dolphins crying as if sensing danger. But somehow, my faith is in the villagers who say, “Touch not one stone, not one flower.”

Besides, now you know.



Thousands of cyclists rode slowly past parliament in one of the bigger two-wheeled protests seen in Britain in recent years, timed to coincide with a Commons debate on measures designed to significantly boost cycling around the country. The mass event was timed to coincide with Commons debate after transport department junks Get Britain Cycling report.

The protest, organised by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), will set off from the south bank of the Thames, before snaking around Parliament Square. It is hard to predict numbers, but they are expected to be high, with feeder rides joining from several other parts of the capital.

The event, billed Space for Cycling, has two purposes: firstly, to pressure London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, into speeding up a programme to make the city’s roads more cycle-friendly; and also to remind MPs and ministers in the Commons chamber that there is an appetite for change among two-wheeled voters nationally.

One of those waiting at the start of the protest, Holi-May Thomas, from Brixton in south London, was joining the event on a sturdy sit-up-and-beg bike, wearing a summer dress and no helmet (“I’ve got a sensible bike but I’m not a sensible girl”).

The 27-year-old cafe manager said she rode everywhere but wanted to call for more respect for cyclists on the road: “It can be scary, and there’s so many reasons why cycling is good for a city. We all need to be able to share the roads better.”



Egypt TV satirist Bassem Youssef
Comics such as Bassem Youssef (Picture) are attacked by Islamist leaders – but satire’s job is to lampoon the powerful.

At a friend’s birthday party in Cairo recently, one of the most popular songs the DJ in the downtown bar played that night was one consisting entirely of a speech Mohamed Morsi made soon after becoming president of Egypt, to a dance beat.Everyone on the dance floor knew the words, which they would yell in between giggles of derision.

Just a few days earlier in response to a curfew that Morsi slapped on the canal cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailiyya, football fans arranged for matches to coincide with the start of the curfew and residents took it a step further by launching protests that began 15 minutes before the start of the curfew.

To understand Bassem Youssef – the heart surgeon turned comedian who has been on the receiving end of legal trouble – in his Egyptian context and not simply as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart”, think of his satire as being like this kind of popular derision projected to 30 million viewers across the Arab world. Youssef faces several legal complaints and was summoned recently by a prosecutor general – who was controversially appointed by Morsi – and questioned over allegations of insulting the president, Islam and “spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order”.

What is satire if not a marriage of civil disobedience to a laugh track, a potent brew of derision and lack of respect that acts as a nettle sting on the thin skin of the humourless?

Post-revolution, Bassem Youssef and other comedians name names of those in power and the powerful. It’s exactly because they neither respect nor obey that they have become targets of Islamists who think they’ve inherited countries unchanged since the days of Mubarak, Tunisia’s Zein El Abidine Ben Ali, and the rest.

In Tunisia, Sami Fehri, a producer of a political puppet show that mocked the ruling Islamist party, Ennahda, has been in jail since November.

These are just a few, of many examples of where humour, satire and comedy are brave acts of civil disobedience


theguardian.com, Wednesday 10 April 2013

87 Camden 28

In the early-morning hours of Sunday, August 22, 1971, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General John Mitchell announced that FBI agents had arrested 20 antiwar activists in and near a draft board office in Camden, New Jersey. Five days later, Mitchell made public the indictment of these individuals and included eight others who were linked to the break-in. The major charges against the group were conspiracy to remove and destroy files from the draft board, FBI office, and the Army Intelligence office; destruction of government property and interfering with the Selective Service system. If convicted, some of the indicted faced up to 47 years in federal prison. The men and women arrested that summer of ’71 in Camden called themselves “America’s conscience.” The government called them the Camden 28.

Surprisingly, included among the Camden 28 were four Catholic priests and one Lutheran minister. All but one of the remaining 23 were Catholic laypeople. All were part of a nonviolent antiwar movement the government and the media referred to as the “Catholic Left.” One of the most dramatic tactics utilized by this movement was breaking into Selective Service offices across the country to remove and destroy government draft records that identified young men available for military service. The activists claimed that their civil disobedience was meant to call attention to their belief that killing – even in war – was morally indefensible. They targeted the draft for the simple fact that it was the clearest symbol of that immorality because it compelled citizens to kill. Between 1967 and 1971, members of the “Catholic Left” claimed responsibility for over 30 draft board raids and the destruction of close to a million Selective Service documents. By 1971, the “Catholic Left” had become one of the most inventive forces of the antiwar movement.

During the more than two months the defense took to present its case, each of the defendants spoke at length, often with moving eloquence. In an unusual arrangement three young lawyers aided the activists who chose either to act as their own lawyers or to have “co-counsel,” in which defendants could both speak for themselves and have an attorney speak for them. Far from pleading innocent to the charges, they proudly proclaimed their guilt. “I ripped up those files with my hands,” declared the Rev. Peter D. Fordi, adding, “They were the instruments of destruction.” The Camden activists asked the jury to “nullify the laws” against breaking and entering and to acquit them as a means of saying that the country had had enough of the “illegal and immoral” war in Vietnam. They also asked the jury to acquit on the grounds that the raid would not have taken place without the help of a self-admitted FBI informer and provocateur. The defendants emphasized that they had given up their plan, for lack of a practical means, until the informer-provocateur had resurrected it and provided them with the encouragement and tools to carry it out.

After three and a half months, the case went to the jury. Judge Fisher’s charge broke new legal ground. Despite the fact that the defendants admitted plotting the action before the informer appeared, Judge Fisher informed the jury they could acquit if they felt government participation in setting up the crime had gone to “intolerable” lengths that were “offensive to the basic standards of decency and shocking to the universal sense of justice.” However, he added that although it was in their power, it would not be proper to decide the verdict on the issue of the war, and that “protest is not an acceptable legal defense, as sincerely motivated as I think they were.” After three days of deliberations, a jury of seven women and five men returned a verdict of not guilty on all charges against the antiwar activists. According to The New York Times, at that moment, “the defendants . . . and 200 supporters . . . burst into cheers, wept, hugged one another and sang a chorus of Amazing Grace.” The acquittals represented the first complete legal victory for the antiwar movement in five years of such draft board actions.



Tibetans have lost their right to self-determination over 50 years ago to China. The campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation, and for human rights, independence and the preservation of the Tibetan culture and language continues. Peaceful protests and resistance are met with harsh punishment by the Chinese authorities.

Teenage high school student jailed for four years after peaceful protest
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Wangchuk Dorje; four year sentence for an alleged role in a peaceful march

Wangchuck Dorje was sentenced for his alleged role in a demonstration of more than 4,000 young people in November 2012.

The peaceful march called for equality and language rights for Tibetans, and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

He is a pupil at the Middle School of Nationalities in Rebkong County.

Other students detained at the protest have been released or sentenced already but the whereabouts and details of others are unknown.

Wangchuck Dorje was detained and interrogated for several months. His age is unknown, although, as he was a middle school student, he is likely aged between 16 and 19 years.

After the protest at least four Tibetan school principals were sacked from schools in the area, including the principal of Rebkong County Primary School.



Te Whiti (?–1907), born during the turmoil of the ‘musket wars‘, was of the Taranaki tribe Te Āti Awa. It is said he was identified as a teacher and prophet early in life, and much care was taken to ensure his safety. His stature in the Māori traditional world was enhanced by his deep knowledge of Christian doctrine. Te Whiti was said to have taken part in the Taranaki wars of the 1860s, but by the mid-1860s he had decided to pursue peaceful resistance to European incursion and the loss of land.

One tradition has it that Te Whiti and his people first moved to the inland village later known as Parihaka in the 1840s, to escape the social and economic pressures of coastal life. Other sources say he began living there in the 1860s after the Taranaki wars and subsequent land confiscations. In any event Parihaka became a centre of peaceful resistance and a rallying point for many Māori. Parihaka was led by Te Whiti and his relative and fellow prophet Tohu Kakahi. The main focus of Māori discontent was land confiscation and the government’s failure to set aside promised reserves.

In 1879 the government began to survey 16,000 acres of the confiscated Waimate Plain without setting aside Māori reserves. In response, Māori, led by Te Whiti and Tohu, began ploughing land occupied by settlers. Arrests followed, but the pace of protest continued to grow. Parihaka became a symbol for many Māori, and its people received food and other supplies from many tribes throughout the country – including those as far away as the Chatham Islands.

On 5 November 5 1881 a force of almost 1,600 Armed Constabulary and volunteers, led by Native Minister John Bryce, invaded Parihaka. The Māori inhabitants, numbering about 2,000, put up no resistance. Instead they greeted Bryce and his men with bread and song. They were dispersed and Te Whiti and Tohu were arrested. The soldiers then systematically wrecked the settlement, and Māori tradition speaks of brutality and rape.

Te Whiti was charged with ‘wickedly, maliciously, and seditiously contriving and intending to disturb the peace’. Held without trial, he was not released until 1883, when he returned to the ruined Parihaka settlement. Te Whiti and Tohu continued to lead peaceful Māori protest, and Te Whiti was imprisoned again for six months in 1886. In 1892 the West Coast Settlement Reserves Act brought in a system of renewable leases to settlers on over 200,000 acres of Māori land. Māori persisted with the ploughing campaigns in protest at the Act. In 1897, 92 Māori were arrested for ploughing in protest at delays in resolving the grievances over the Native Trustee’s management of these leases.

Te Whiti and Tohu died in 1907 within a few months of each other. The white albatross feather, which Te Whiti’s followers adopted as a symbol protecting the mana of the Parihaka settlement, remains an enduring emblem among Te Āti Awa.

Te Whiti-o-Rongomai

Ka whānau mai a Te Whiti (?-1907) i te wā o ngā pakanga mau pū i waenganui i ngā iwi. Ko tōna iwi ko Te Āti Awa o Taranaki. E ai ki ngā kōrero, e tamariki tonu ana a Te Whiti ka puta i a ia ngā tohu o te matakite, o te poropiti. I āta manaakitia ia e tōna iwi. I tua atu, he tangata matatau ia ki te whakapono Karaitiana; kātahi ka nui atu ngā rongo kōrero mōna i te ao Māori. E ai ki te kōrero, i roto a Te Whiti i ngā riri ki Taranaki i te tekau tau atu i 1860. Heoti, tae rawa ki te pokapū o taua tekau tau, kua huri kē ia ki te mautohe mārie ki te tomo mai o te Pākehā me te rironga o ngā whenua.

Tērā tētahi kōrero e mea ana i whakatūria te kāinga o Parihaka e Te Whiti mā i te tekau tau atu i 1840, hei wāhi haumaru i ngā whakararu ki takutai. Tērā tētahi atu kōrero e mea ana, nō muri rawa i ngā riri me te raupatunga whenua o te tekau tau atu i 1860, ka tū tōna kāinga i Parihaka. Ahakoa he aha, ka tipu a Parihaka hei pokapū mō ngā mautohe mārie a te iwi Māori. Ko Te Whiti rāua ko tōna pāpā a Tohu Kakahi ngā kaiārahi. Rite a Tohu rāua ko Te Whiti, he matakite. Ko te take nui ki te iwi Māori ko ngā whenua i raupatutia me te kore tutuki i te kāwanatanga tana kī taurangi mō ngā whenua ka rāhuitia mō te Māori.

I te tau 1879 ka tīmata te kāwanatanga ki te rūri i te whenua raupatu e 16,000 eka te rahi i ngā mānia o Waimate. Kāore i rāhuitia he wāhanga o tēnei whenua mō te Māori. Hei utu mō tēnei, ka tīmata a Te Whiti rātou ko Tohu, ko te iwi ki te parau i ngā whenua kei te nōhia e te Pākehā. Ka mauherea ētahi. Hāunga tērā, ka nui haere ngā mautohe, ka tū a Parihaka hei tohu whakakaha i te tini o te iwi Māori. Ka tukua mai e tēnā iwi, e tēnā iwi he kai, tae rawa ki Wharekauri.

I te rā 5 o Nōema o te tau 1881 ka whakaekea a Parihaka e ngā Pirihimana Mau Pū me ngā tūao e 1600 te rahi; ko tō rātou kaiārahi ko te Minita mō ngā Take Māori, a Te Paraihe (John Bryce). Kāore i ātetetia tō rātou kuhu e te iwi o Parihaka e 2000 pea te tokomaha. Ka horahia ngā kai mā Te Paraihe me tōna ope, ka waiatatia rātou. Kia ahatia. Whakamararatia ana te iwi, mauheretia ana a Te Whiti rāua ko Tohu. Wāwāhia ana te kāinga o Parihaka. Kei te mau tonu ngā kōrero tuku iho mō ngā mahi whakarihariha a ngā hōia, tā rātou tūkino i ngā wāhine.

Ka ūhia ngā whakapae ki runga i a Te Whiti mō te “whakatutū i te puehu i runga i te kino, i te ngākau waniwani”. Ka mauherea ia, hāunga te mea kāore anō kia tū he whakawākanga. Nō te tau 1883 ka tukua ia. I tana hokinga kua pākarukaru katoa a Parihaka. Ka ārahi tonu a Te Whiti rāua ko Tohu i ngā mautohe mārire, whai anō i te tau 1886 ka whiua anōtia a Te Whiti ki te whare herehere mō te ono marama. Nā te Ture Whakatau Papa Rāhui o te Tai Hauāuru o te tau 1892, ka tareka e ngā tāngata whai te whakahou i ā rātou rīhi i runga i ngā whenua Māori e 200,000 eka. Hei ātete i te ture nei, ka haere tonu ngā mautohe mārire a ngā Māori. I te tau 1897, e 92 ngā tāngata Māori i mauherea mō te parau whenua; i mautohe nā te takaroa o te whakatau i ō rātou nawe mō ngā whakahaere a te Kaitiaki Māori i ngā rīhi nei.

Nō te tau 1907 i mate ai a Te Whiti rāua ko Tohu. Ko te raukura toroa te tohu a ngā pononga o Te Whiti e whakaū ana i te mana o Parihaka, e mau tonu nei i roto o Te Āti Awa i ēnei rā.


Liberate Tate is a network dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding.

The network was founded during a workshop in January 2010 on art and activism, commissioned by Tate.

When Tate curators tried to censor the workshop from making interventions against Tate sponsors, even though none had been planned, the incensed participants decided to continue their work together beyond the workshop and set up Liberate Tate.

LIBERATE TATE COMMUNIQUE #1 MAY 2010 – Released during Tate Modern’s 10 year Birthday Celebration Weekend.

Dear Tate

Happy Birthday. We wish we could celebrate with you. But we can’t.

As we write, your corporate sponsor BP is creating the largest oil painting in the world, inspired by profit margins and a culture that puts money in front of life, its shadowy stain shimmers across the Gulf of Mexico. A toxic tide that turns thriving ecosystems into deserts and deprives cultures of their way of life, it is one of the world’s greatest works of corporate art, a work that reeks of death and speaks of our society’s failure of imagination.

Every day Tate scrubs clean BP’s public image with the detergent of cool progressive culture. But there is nothing innovative or cutting edge about a company that knowingly feeds our addiction to fossil fuels despite a climate crisis, a company whose greed has killed twenty-one employees in just over a year, a company that continues to invest in the cancer-causing climate crimes of tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

By placing the words BP and Art together, the destructive and obsolete nature of the fossil fuel industry is masked, and crimes against the future are given a slick and stainless sheen.

Every time we step inside the museum Tate makes us complicit with these acts, acts that will one day seem as archaic as the slave trade, as anachronistic as public executions Every time Nicholas Serota is asked how a museum that prides itself on dealing with climate change can be funded by an oil company he responds that there are no plans to abandon BP sponsorship (anything to do with having an ex-CEO of BP chair Tate’s board of trustees?).

When art activist group The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination were invited to run a workshop on art and civil disobedience, they were told by curators that they could not take any action against Tate and its sponsors and the workshop was policed by the curators to make sure the artists produced work “commensurate with the Tate’s mission”. In March 2010, Tate Modern ran an eco symposium, “Rising to the Climate Change Challenge: Artists and Scientists Imagine Tomorrow’s World”, on the same day that Tate Britain was celebrating twenty years of BP sponsorship with one of its ‘BP Saturdays’ Incensed by this censorship and hypocrisy, participants in the symposium called for a vote: 80% of the audience agreed that BP sponsorship should be dropped by 2012.

So today we offer you a birthday present, a gift to liberate Tate from its old-fashioned fossil fuel addiction – a gift for the future. Beginning during your 10th anniversary party and continuing until you drop the sponsorship deal, we will be commissioning a series of art interventions in Tate buildings across the country. Already commissioned are Art Action collective, with a birthday surprise at this weekend’s No Soul For Sale event, and The Invisible Committee, who will infiltrate every corner of Tate across the country in the coming months.

We invite artists to join us and act to liberate Tate. Free art from oil.