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Strike updates for US homeless, Oakland riots, France, Israel, Gaza

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Headlined to None 1/23/09

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ACTIVIST GROUP MOVES HOMELESS INTO FORECLOSED HOMES

Underground housing activists are moving homeless folks into the homes of folks who've lost their homes.

"We're matching homeless people with peopleless homes,"- said Max Rameau. A group of like-minded advocates formed Take Back the Land, which also helps the new "tenants"- with secondhand furniture, cleaning supplies and yard upkeep. So far, he has moved six families into foreclosed homes and has nine on a waiting list.

"I think everyone deserves a home,"- said Rameau, who said he takes no money from his work with the homeless. "Homeless people across the country are squatting in empty homes." He said he is not scared of getting arrested.

"There's a real need here, and there's a disconnect between the need and the law,"- he said. "Being arrested is just one of the potential factors in doing this."-

OAKLAND, CA. RIOTERS SET POLICE CARS ON FIRE

On  January 1, 2009, Oscar Grant (22) was fatally shot in the back by a Bay Area Rail Transit (BART) Police Officer. Within a few days, a cell phone video of the incident taken by Karina Vargas went viral via YouTube.  Other videos later appeared, all resulting in an explosive public rage. Here's one video.  Be warned that you'll witness an apparent intentional murder. You will see Grant laying face down on the ground, an officer's knee on his head, and suddenly you'll see that officer standing over him pull out his gun and shoot Grant in the back. Notice the officers standing by jump back in surprise. The shooter, Johannes Mehserle (27), also seems surprised. He stands up quickly and looks at his partner, then down at the lifeless Grant. After a few seconds of inaction, in what seems to be stupor, witnesses said they removed the handcuffs from Mr. Grant. A man in the background seems to protest as they do that.
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Whether or not Mr. Mehserle meant to pull out his taser rather than his gun, the fact remains that the video "proof" of the incident triggered widespread anger within the community. To further ignite the community, the DA announced no charges against former officer Mehserle, who had resigned his position with the BART Police "to avoid being forced to make a statement". 
A demonstration was rapidly organized and formed at the Fruitvale BART Station. But what began as a somber gathering, with Oscar Grant's family members speaking to the small crowd, less than 2 hours later turned into a roving, shouting, enraged group separate from the original tearful gathering.
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When I arrived at the station around 4:30, it was still a somber affair, which included stories of loved-ones lost to police fire. Some in crowd would shout out "f*ck the police!"-.
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But around 5:20, a group arrived with a bull-horn and started chanting "MARCH!" They continued shouting until maybe 5:45. Most of the original demonstrators stayed at the station, including me, until it was wrapped up, around 6:15.

As I rode my bike north to downtown Oakland, I saw several helicopters hovering over the Laney College area, so I headed that way. I caught up with the protesters on 10th street headed north. Things were different this time, there was zero police presence at the Fruitvale BART, but there were dozens of police cars with their lights on around this area. They were already stopping traffic and driving against the direction of traffic at fast speeds headed somewhere. We continued on 10th, but suddenly the crowd stopped at Madison.
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There were a couple of police officers standing next to a cruiser which had been positioned perpendicular to the road in order to stop traffic on Madison St.  The crowd quickly turned towards the cops and became more violent: starting with throwing trash at them. A guy right in front of me was the first to hit the car, kick it hard, and I immediately grabbed him back, reacting in fear of the line he was crossing. But some one else threw something, hitting the windshield, and others started stomping on the hood. It was instant mayhem!
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After a few minutes the police shot off some tear gas and the crowd split. This happened a little before 6:41.

The crowd regrouped around Broadway, settling at 14th and Broadway a little after 7pm. We were quickly surrounded on three sides by police in riot gear. Many people were yelling at the cops, in particular a young girl caught my eye, she couldn't have been older than 13, but she was going right up to the cops faces yelling obscenities. People were venting their fury, but it had no effect. Trash cans were set on fire and toppled over the street. At around 7:50, the police started to make their move. They rammed the protesters, grabbing some people to arrest. The protesters were forced south on 14th street, and they wreaked havoc along the way, smashing car windows, store fronts and setting a couple of cars on fire.
The violence continued even as the crowd splintered into different factions, and all that was left was a cat and mouse game with the police around downtown for a few minutes.
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PLEASE SEND THIS VIDEO TO YOUR FRIENDS AND REPOST TO BLOGS AND FORUMS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WQeRGefugs 
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FRANCE: General Strike called For January 29, 2009
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"Joint Statement of Proposals and Demands of Trade Unions: CFDT, CFTC, CFE-CGC, CGT, FOR, FSU, Solidaires, UNSA
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The economic crisis exacerbated by the international financial crisis severely affects a large proportion of employees' jobs and income. They are managers, general workers, unemployed and retired, the first victims of this crisis. It threatens the future of young people and undermines social cohesion and solidarity; it increases inequality and insecurity risks.
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The market forces alone can not solve all the problems.
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Faced with this situation and considering that it is their responsibility to act in common (especially during the day on January 29 for more measures favorable to employees), unions CFDT, CFTC, CFE-CGC, CGT, FOR, FSU, Solidaires, UNSA, decided to engage businesses, employers and the state.
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Overcoming the crisis requires urgent measures to promote employment, pay and public policy into a policy of economic recovery."
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ISRAEL: BOYCOTT FOR PALENSTINES 'END THE OCCUPATION/BLOCKADE'
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Israeli farmers say much of their produce is being held in warehouses due to canceled orders, and fear a sharp decrease in fruit exports.
The farmers said a large number of cancellations came from Jordan. "The produce stays packed in warehouses, and this is causing us massive losses," they said.
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"The longer the fruit waits in storage after sorting, the more its quality decreases. We also have to pay for cooling the merchandise that should have already left, and the cost is considerable, but we support the boycott," they added.
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Ilan Eshel, director of the Organization of Fruit Growers in Israel, said Scandinavian countries have also been canceling orders. "It's mostly Sweden, Norway, and Denmark," he said.
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Eshel said the boycott did not exist before the Gaza offensive was launched. "It's getting worse, and more voices can be heard calling to boycott Israeli merchandise," he said.
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"Until the military operations began, we had excellent business". He added that winter was an especially difficult season to be unable to export fruit, because the avocado, persimmon, and citrus markets are at their height.
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LONDON: PROTEST BROWN/ISRAEL
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The demonstration this Saturday, January 24, 1009, will march to Downing Street, calling for the lifting of the Gaza blockade, and end to all arms sales to Israel.
We will also be protesting Gordon Brown's support for Israel following its barbaric attack. The day after the massacre was ended - so as not to spoil Barack Obama's inauguration with pictures of phosphorous bombs dropping on UN schools in Gaza - Brown rushed off to join five other heads of government for a celebratory gala dinner at the Jerusalem home of Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, alongside Olmert was minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.
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"Thank you for demonstrating your impressive support for the State of Israel," said Olmert. "This is in the supreme interest of all those who fight the forces of evil," among whom he no doubt meant the 450 children in Gaza killed by Israel over the past three weeks.
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To which Brown replied, without a sliver of irony, "The task  before us is"- an end to arms trafficking." Not of course the arms trafficking which makes Israel the fourth most powerful military in the world, able to use the most advanced weapons of mass slaughter that recently killed 1400 Palestinians and injured 6000 more.
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"Through the anguish and the suffering, we can see the road toward peace," Brown added, as if all the mass death, injuries and destruction, which left Gaza looking like it had been hit by an earthquake, would in some way benefit the cause of peace.
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The demonstration this Saturday will assemble at 2.00 pm at Broadcasting House in Portland Place, in protest at the BBC's capitulation to Israel's propaganda machine during the attack on Gaza.
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Whether you call it the world financial structure, the U.S. culture of waste, or the ability of the common man to make a decent living, the system is broken. It's time for the common man to go on strike. Join or support the March on Washingon (more...)
 
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