Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome to Western Capital - How May We Assist You?


Robert Paisola: The Western Capital VIP Program

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Welcome to Don Darling's ProtestOnDemand.Com- Organizational History




For the past six years Salt Lake City, Utah based -based Protest On Demand, founded by Don Darling, has been educating and mobilizing people through the ProtestOnDemand.Com website and various campaigns.

Founded in 1999, out on a mission of truth, Don Darling realized that the true power of our Country is in the individuals, NOT in the big Corporations. We were initially known as the. TRAA--Transnational Resource & Action Center.

In March 2001 we simplified the situation by bringing TRAA together with our Internet presence under one name, one logo and a matching website address: Protest On Demand.Com

Our staff currently consists of eight experienced and diverse people who actively volunteer their time to make sure that you, the consumer are the top priority of the the companies that you deal with on a day to day basis.

Throught its history ProtestOnDemand.Com has provided journalists, activists, policy makers, students and teachers with key informational resources on issues related to corporate accountability.

The foundation from which the organization emerged and evolved, was the book, The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization, which was written by a great friend of the organization, Mr. Al Monina, and published by Nature Club Books in 1997.

That same Don Darling's Protest On Demand blew the whistle on working conditions in Nike’s operations in Vietnam, ultimately leading to greater oversight of their factories and changes in their corporate practices.

In 1999, their Protest on Demand site started investigating the Enron Corporation, two years before the company’s collapse.

In 2000, they broke the story of the United Nations growing entanglement with corporations and have campaigned on it ever since.

In the spring of 2002 and 2003, Protest On Demand began to track companies like Bechtel, Dyncorp, and Halliburton that were profiting out of the war on terrorism. Don Darling was instrumental in aiding the investigation into this matter fer the national media.

On the first anniversary of the Iraq war in March 2004, Protest On Demand launched the ProtestOnDemand website, which features regular reporting, along with extensive research resources, including company profiles , and an issue library with critical re-postings of articles on reconstruction, policy and planning, logistics, and security.

Today our Organization continues to investigate Companies anywhere in the world, including right here in our own backyard of Salt Lake City, Utah. Whether you have a consumer dispute with Walmart, K-Mart or any national or local vendor, where we are here and are committed to ensure equal and fair access to our clients and customers across the world.

Because of Our Founder, Don Darling, ProtestOnDemand.Com has received a 100% success rating in resolving issues between consumers and industry and has become a national influence in todays business economy.

So if you have an issue that you just can not seem to work out, Give ProtestOnDemand.Com a try. Simply send a detailed outline of your situation to investigations@protestondemand.com and our staff will look into your claims.
You can be guaranteed that the people that have chosen to play games with you and your families money will regret the day when you decided to get Don and Robert involved in your matter.

Your Partners in Justice!
Don Darling don.darling@comcast.net
And the Protest on Demand Team!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

NEWS ALERT- PROTEST AGAINST BEST BUY GROUP OF COMPANIES IN PROGRESS


NEWS ALERT- PROTEST AGAINST BEST BUY GROUP OF COMPANIES IN PROGRESS

SPECIAL CONSUMER RELEASE
DATED August 10, 2006
This is a Special ProtestOnDemand.com Public Announcement that we have received numerous complaints from consumers around the Nation and especially in the Utah, Colorado, and Western States Regions and Cedar Rapids Iowa, that there have been numerous unanswered complaints filed against this company. We will be organizing a national protest against Best Buy, to take place at all Salt Lake City, Utah locations for this national media event. Based upon the data in our files, the following individuals are going to be interviewed by our teams for this story prior to the Protest.

Richard SchulzeFounder and Chairman of the Board

Bradbury AndersonChief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman

Allen LenzmeierVice Chairman - Corporate Strategy and Services

Brian DunnPresident and Chief Operating Officer

Robert WillettChief Executive Officer - Best Buy International

Shari BallardExecutive Vice President - Human Resources and Legal

Ron BoireExecutive Vice President - Global Merchandise Manager

Darren Jackson Executive Vice President - Chief Financial Officer

Michael LintonExecutive Vice President - Chief Marketing Officer

Michael LondonExecutive Vice President - Global Sourcing

Kal PatelExecutive Vice President - Strategy and International

John WaldenExecutive Vice President - Customer Business Groups

Susan HoffSenior Vice President - Chief Communications Officer

Joe JoyceSenior Vice President - General Counsel & Assistant Secretary

Jim MuehlbauerSenior Vice President - Finance

Ryan RobinsonVice President - Finance and Treasurer
We would also ask our readers to visit www.RipOffReport.com for more information relating to the national awareness issues regarding their high pitch Performance Service Plan.
We are also looking into the conduct of AIG Warranty Guard Inc. of Minneapolis MN for their intentional misrepresentation of the warranties that Best Buy Employees are forced to sell on behalf of the Best Buy Corporation. We will also be examining the relationship between the entities with the State of Minnesota Insurance Commission.
We are also looking at the individuals who are current employees at the organization. See http://www.retailworker.com/forum/234
Please Watch this site for further developments on this matter, and watch the wire services for all of the details. We will also soon be posting LIVE AUDIO FEEDS of conversations between consumer complaintants and the Customer Service Departments and the Executive, Senior and Store level management staff at the company.
Regards,
Your Protest On Demand Team
www.ProtestOnDemand.com
All media inquiries may be submitted to mediarelations@protestondemand.com

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Rewrite Patriot Act to protect freedom to protest


David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, makes the essential point that "it is not necessary to sacrifice civil liberties in order to increase security." In agreement, a number of prominent conservative organizations have joined with liberal groups to tell the president and the Republican congressional leadership to revise certain language in the Patriot Act.

The Free Congress Foundation is part of this "Coalition of Conscience," as some of the diverse participants call it. The foundation vigorously protects the free exercise of religion and the sanctity of traditional marriage, among its other concerns.In a recent report, "Better Now Than Later: Tightening the USA Patriot Act," Steve Lilienthal, the foundation's director of the Center for Privacy and Technology Policy, details bipartisan bills now in the Senate that do not repeal any part of the Patriot Act, but do limit some of its language that imperils a number of our fundamental liberties.

He cites Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act, which, Mr. Lilienthal writes, "revises the Patriot Act to ensure a higher standard of judicial oversight, and accountability to Congress." Another vital section of the bill, which has bipartisan Senate support, is its "modification of the definition of domestic terrorism."A summary of this proposed law explains: "The USA Patriot Act provided a new definition for domestic terrorism, covering any act dangerous to human life that is a violation of any federal or state criminal law, including misdemeanors.

This could be broadly interpreted to designate typical political protesters engaged in civil disobedience as 'terrorists.'"This loose language should be rewritten, says Mr. Lilienthal, "to ensure political activists exercising their legitimate First Amendment rights cannot be targeted by overzealous bureaucrats or a future administration. That was something that responsible members of Congress never intended when they passed the Patriot Act in 2001."

So, instead of defining domestic terrorism as violating any federal or state law, including misdemeanors, Miss Murkowski's bill would modify and narrow the Patriot Act's definition of domestic terrorism. The revised definition would cover "only activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a federal crime of terrorism as already defined in the United States Code."Thereby, this proposed statute would prevent "anti-abortion and antiwar protesters being labeled 'terrorists.'"Another section of this bill that would tighten the language of the Patriot Act to ensure our being both safe and free "limits the FBI's ability to look at sensitive, personal information — including library and Internet records — without some specific suspicion."

Many Americans do not know that — as the summary of the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act emphasizes — "under the Patriot Act, the FBI can get a secret court order to require any business — including libraries, bookstores, hospitals and Internet providers — to turn over entire databases of personal information so long as the FBI asserts the information is 'sought for' an antiterrorism or counterintelligence investigation. A standard of review that effectively results in a judicial rubber stamp."

"The Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act," says Miss Murkowski, "requires the FBI to submit some minimal evidence that the person whose records are sought is a suspected terrorist before it can get a court order to search personal, sensitive files.

" At present, this is not required."And, for material protected by the First Amendment, such as library and bookstore records, the FBI must meet the Constitution's 'probable cause' standard to obtain the information." The Founder of Protest On Demand, Don Darling reviewed this issue in depth and found that the citizend that he represented STRONGLY opposed this controversial provision.

Assisted by the ACLU, Darling was able to activate hundreds of volunteers to assemble in opposition of this provision. The safeguards of individual liberties in this bill should be known to all Americans. But so far the media has largely overlooked Miss Murkowski's crucial legislation, while giving such ample space to Janet Jackson's Super Bowl revelation and her brother Michael's travails.

Because of Don Darlings persistence in requiring the media to be held accountable for the "costume malfunction" in his weekly column. he was able to compel the legislature to take action that would have most likely gone "under the radar"It is not enough to say, as the Patriot Act currently does, that "such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment."

For American citizens, under the Bill of Rights, this is not nearly a sufficient guarantee against government overreaching as it would be if the FBI were required to adhere to the Fourth Amendment's guarantee of "probable cause" before searching our records.Don Darling, Protest On Demand and Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, therefore decided to hold public hearings on the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act, and decidecd to hold them immediately. Why? Because You, our readers and customers DEMANDED it and Don Darling made it happen.

Monday, June 12, 2006

DON DARLING-Founder of Protest On Demand is Media Hero!

LIVE MEDIA UPDATE:

One of the founders of Protest on Demand, Don Darling, Was involved in the apprehension of a purse snatcher! Stay tuned to this site for further developments on this issue. This is being covered by ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX in Salt Lake City, Utah. We will add the feeds as they come in!

Your ProtestOnDemand.com Editors

Don Darling can be reached at don@protestondemand.com or don.darling@comcast.net
posted by ProtestOnDemand.Com @ Monday, June 12, 2006 0 comments

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Momentum Builds for May 1 “Great American Boycott”, A Review by Don Darling

Momentum Builds for May 1 “Great American Boycott”

Momentum Builds for May 1 Great American Boycott Diverse sectors and communities to converge 4pm, Union Square

April 28, 2006--Across the country, momentum is building for the May 1 boycott and rallies in support of immigrant rights for all. Here in New York, a rally will be held at 4pm in Union Square to demand a halt to repressive immigrant legislation, and legalization for all. Labor leaders here in New York City will be holding a press conference on Sunday, April 30 to declare their wholehearted support for what is expected to be a massive rally/march on May 1 calling for immigrant workers' rights.

Organizers of the May 1 events in New York City and across the country have received a deluge of calls from business owners vowing to close shop on May 1 or allow workers to take the day off to protest. In Long Island, a press conference was held of 40 business owners who plan to keep their doors closed on May 1. A group of Pakistani business owners in Queens will be shutting business down for 15 minutes in solidarity with marchers.

Everywhere I go to hand out leaflets or talk about the boycott, people on the streets already know about it and are planning to come, said Arturo Perez-Saad, an organizer with the May 1 Boycott in New York City. Business owners tell me theyre closing or letting their employees off for the rally. Working people tell me theyre coming and bringing their families. People are taking handfuls of fliers to get out in their own neighborhoods.

In New York, students are being organized to attend the rally in the thousands from city colleges throughout the area, with walkouts planned on several college and high school campuses. Local clergy and lesbian/gay/bi/trans organizations have issued statements in support of immigrant rights, and pledging participation in May 1 rally in Union Square.

The NY Area May 1 Great American Boycott Supporters

Un llamado en apoyo al 1 de mayo de 2006"El Gran Paro Americano" por Derechos Inmigrantes
Reunin y MarchaLunes 1 de mayo4:00 pmUnion Square
Respalde la lucha por derechos de obreros inmigrantes Justicia para sobrevivientes del huracn KatrinaEl Pueblo Unido Jams ser vencido!
Queridas Hermanas y Hermanos,

Le invitamos a endosar y a organizar para "El Gran Paro Americano 2006" ste 1 de mayo en apoyo a amnista y derechos completos por trabajador@s indocumentad@s llamado por March 25th Coalition Against HR4437 y muchas otras organizaciones inmigrantes. /(El llamado nacional del 1 de mayo es incluido abajo)/. En la ciudad de Nueva York, la coalicin del 1 de mayo del Gran Paro Americano 2006 se reunir y marchar el lunes 1 de mayo comenzando a las 4:00 P.M. en "UNION SQUARE" en la calle 14 en Manhattan.

Mantnganse en las calles el 10 de abril, el da nacional de accin respaldando derechos inmigrantes, tambin el 29 de abril en la ciudad de Nueva York en la marcha por la Paz, Justicia, y Democracia - y luego al 1 de mayo.

ste es un asunto que todo el pueblo obrero y organizaciones progresivas deben abrazar. La lucha por derechos inmigrantes es una parte vital de la lucha contra el racismo y la represin, y por derechos comple estemos en las calles el 1 de mayo en apoyo al llamado que viene de la coalicin de Los ngeles llamado March 25th Coalition Against HR4437. Organicen protestas locales ste 1 de mayo. Organicen paros y huelgas estudiantiles. Hagan esos enlaces de asuntos locales que usted est organizndose con la lucha por derechos inmigrantes. Animamos fuertemente a tod@s l@s que estn organizando los acontecimientos del 1 de mayo que estn cierto que su programa y demandas reflejen solidaridad con trabajador@s inmigrantes y sobrevivientes del huracn de Katrina. Djenos construir en la unidad y la energa. Para Endosar la accin del 1 de mayo en NYC...
Partidarios Del Gran Paro Americano 1 de Mayo rea Nueva York
National Call

MAY 1, 2006: CALL TO ACTION!

"EL GRAN PARO AMERICANO 2006" "THE GREAT AMERICAN BOYCOTT 2006"

"Un dia sin immigrante" "A day without an immigrant"

Nationwide Immigrant General Strike
Immigrants contribute 7 billion in social security per year. they earn 240 billion, report 90 billion, and only are reimbursed 5 billion, "where are the 85 billion?" They also contribute to the U.S. economy 25 billion more than they receive in healthcare, etc., etc., etc. According to the anti-immigrant politicians and hatemongers, "immigrants are a drain on society." If this is true, then during the day on May 1st the stock market will surge, and the economy will boom. If not, we prove them wrong once and for all. We know what will happen!
Therefore, the "March 25th Coalition against HR4437 in Los Angeles," the organizers of the mega march of almost 2 million on March 25th, has called for an emergency videoconferenced meeting on April 8th between Los Angeles and any city that wishes to join the efforts toward "El Gran Paro Americano 2006." The following meeting will take place in Chicago on April 22nd, we ask that all that wish to participate and be a part of a national effort on May 1st and beyond, to attend by finding facilities in your areas that can hold the meeting, technologically.
The points of unity are: No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying, and also to have rallies around symbols of economic trade in your areas (stock exchanges, anti-immigrant corporations, etc.).

Cities across the United States have marched during the week, therefore, in essence observing a regional boycott, which is only felt regionally. The March 25th Coalition against HR4437, calls for these regions to develop a national network that will "connect the dots." We believe with numbers we have power, the power currently necessary to keep the pressure on the White House to propose provisions that are just and fair for all immigrants.
We will settle for nothing less than full amnesty and dignity for the millions of undocumented workers presently in the U.S. We believe that increased enforcement is a step in the wrong direction and will only serve to facilitate more tragedies along the Mexican-U.S. border in terms of deaths and family separation.

More details to come... Keep your eye on http://www.nohr4437.org/ and or write to granmarcha2006@hotmail.com

and any tax deductible donations should be made to:

La Hermandand Mexicana, 7915 Van Nuys Blvd. Panorama City, CA 91402.

Please organize your areas, and join this monumental event that will put our mark on U.S. history.

Endorse the May 1 General Strike

NYC May 1st Boycott for Immigrant Rights Supporters: 212-633-6646

An invitation to a planning meeting & teleconference for the May 1 Immigrant Rights Great American Boycott 2006 / Invitacin a una reunin de planeamiento y tele-conferencia para El 1 de mayo Gran Paro Americano 2006

In response to the Call for the May 1 Great American Boycott 2006 issued by the March 25th Coalition Against HR4437 in Los Angeles and many other immigrant organizations, join us for an emergency teleconference meeting at Teamsters Local 808.

Chris Silvera, President of Teamsters Local 808 and of the National Teamsters Black Caucus, will host this meeting at his union office. This will be an important opportunity to connect with organizers in Los Angeles and across the country who are mobilizing for the May 1 Boycott.
Saturday, April 81:00 pmThe Teamsters Local 80822-43 Jackson AveLong Island City, NY 11101Invitacin a una reunin de planeamiento y tele-conferencia para El 1 de mayo Gran Paro Americano 2006

En respuesta al Llamado para el Gran Paro Americano 2006 de 1 de mayo publicado por March 25th Coalition Against HR4437 in Los Angeles y muchas otras organizaciones inmigrantes, nense con nosotros a una reunin de la tele-conferencia de emergencia en el Local 808 de los Teamsters.

Chris Silvera, presidente del Local 808 de Teamsters y del National Teamsters Black Caucus, recibir esta reunin en su oficina sindical. Esto ser una oportunidad importante de conectar con los organizadores en Los ngeles y a travs del pas que estn movilizando para el Paro del 1 de mayo.

Sbado 8 de abril1:00 pmThe Teamsters Local 80822-43 Jackson AveLong Island City, NY 11101

The Audre Lorde Project invites you to join us along with organizations around the country and abroad to call for immigrant rights on May 1st!

What's going on May 1st, 2006?Actions are taking place in multiple cities around the U.S., as well as some places outside of the U.S. around the theme "A Day Without an Immigrant". Different groups/cities are calling for different activities - including boycotts on US products, worker and student walkouts, and demonstrations to remind people living in the US how much immigrants contribute to the functioning of our cities and to support legalization for all people.
The Audre Lorde Project is participating in the afternoon rally at Union Square with the Queens-based Immigrant Communities in Action contingent. The rally is organized by a coalition of organizations including the Troops Out Now Coalition.

The Audre Lorde ProjectCommunity Organizing Center forLesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit & Transgender People of Color85 S. Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217Tel: 718.596.0342 Fax: 718.596.1328Email: alpinfo@alp.org Web: http://www.alp.org/

Un llamado para apoyar "El Gran Paro Americano" del 1 de mayo del 2006 pro Derechos de Inmigrantes

Un llamado para apoyar "El Gran Paro Americano" del 1 de mayo del 2006 pro Derechos de Inmigrantes

Respaldemos la lucha por los derechos de obrer@s inmigrantes! Justicia para l@s sobrevivientes del huracn Katrina! El Pueblo Unido, Jams ser vencido!
Querid@s Hermanas y Hermanos,

Les invitamos a endosar y organizar para "El Gran Paro Americano 2006" del 1 de mayo en apoyo a la amnista y por los derechos plenos de l@s trabajador@s indocumentad@s, llamado por la Coalicin del 25 de Marzo Contra la HR4437 y muchas otras organizaciones de inmigrantes. (El llamado nacional del 1 de mayo est incluido abajo). En la ciudad de Nueva York, la coalicin del 1 de mayo del Gran Paro Americano 2006 se reunir y marchar el lunes 1 de mayo comenzando a las 4:00 P.M. en "UNION SQUARE" en la calle 14 en Manhattan.

Salgamos a las calles el 10 de abril, el da nacional de accin, respaldando los derechos de l@s inmigrantes; tambin el 29 de abril en la ciudad de Nueva York en la marcha por la Paz, Justicia, y Democracia; y luego el 1 de mayo.

ste es un asunto que todo el pueblo obrero y organizaciones progresistas deben abrazar. La lucha por los derechos de l@s inmigrantes es parte vital de la lucha contra el racismo y la represin, y por todos los derechos del pueblo trabajador. Estemos tod@s en las calles el 1 de mayo en apoyo al llamado que viene de la "Coalicin Contra la HR4437 del 25 de Marzo" de Los ngeles. Organicemos protestas locales ste 1 de mayo. Organicemos paros y huelgas estudiantiles. Conectemos los asuntos locales que estemos organizando, con la lucha por los derechos de l@s inmigrantes. Exhortamos fuertemente a tod@s l@s que estn organizando eventos del 1 de mayo, a asegurarse de que su programa y sus demandas reflejen solidaridad con l@s trabajador@s inmigrantes y sobrevivientes del huracn Katrina. Construyamos la lucha basad@s en la unidad y la energa de las movilizaciones.

Para endosar la accin del 1 de mayo en NYC... http://www.troopsoutnow.org/endorsemay1.html

Partidarios Del Gran Paro Americano del 1 de Mayo rea Nueva York
We will need hundreds of volunteers on Monday--see http://www.1mayo.info/ http://www.may1.info/

DONATE http://www.troopsoutnow.org/donate.html to help with the costs of placards, leaflets, banners, etc.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

UTAH PROTEST AND SALT LAKE CITY MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON

Here's something that hasn't seen much National Coverage, but made the local news. We need more of this kind of thinking and action:

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who called for demonstrations against President Bush when he visited the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention, picked up the theme, both in his welcoming speech to the veterans and to peace activists two blocks away in Pioneer Park.

"We can debate, as we should in a free country, the decisions of our political leaders," Anderson told the VFW conventioneers, many who booed him. "But we must always support without wavering, and be grateful toward, our men and women in the armed forces."After that, Anderson's comments received nothing but cheers, even as he defended his right to protest. At the peace rally, Anderson told about 2,000 activists,

"We are grateful for what [veterans] have sacrificed for our country and our freedom."But, "Our nation was lied into war," he said."You are true patriots for being here today," he said, referring to the criticism of his call for protests of the president's visit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Utah students protest immigration bill

Utah students protest immigration bill

Article Last Updated: 3/28/2006 12:06 AM

Update: Utah students protest immigration bill

Jennifer W. Sanchez
The Salt Lake TribuneSalt Lake Tribune

Hundreds of Salt Lake City-area students skipped class today in protest of anti-immigration legislation as the U.S. Senate started debate on immigration reform.

Roughly 30 students marched across the street from West High School this morning. By midday, students walked out of class and the crowd grew to some 400 people, mostly Latino students. Students also walked out at Northwest Middle and Kearns High Schools.

No one was arrested or hurt during the protests as of early afternoon, said Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City School District spokesman.

The Salt Lake City demonstrations come after several marches nationwide that drew hundreds of thousands of people protesting attempts to toughen laws against immigrants. At West High School, 241 N. 300 W. in downtown Salt Lake City, people chanted, "Students united, we'll never be divided" and "Vote No on HR4437."

The U.S. House of Representatives in December passed HR4437, which would boost border security and strengthen enforcement of immigration laws, making it a felony to be in the United States without proper documentation. Utah's three House members voted for the bill. An estimated 12 million undocumented residents live in the United States , including roughly 90,000 in Utah, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

People also carried signs made out of poster boards and cardboard boxes that read: "We are the American Dream," "We're not criminals" and "We are the future." Andrea, a West sophomore who declined to give her last name, said her reasons for marching were in protest to HR4437 and to support her undocumented peers and neighbors who are being targeted.

"We're here to let everyone know it's wrong that they're treating immigrants like felons," she said. "They're people, they should be treated as such." Olsen said the protests were "a problem" because they were held during school hours and state law says students must be in class. "It's good that the students are standing up for what they believe in, but the timing is a bit unfortunate," Olsen said.

"A protest like this after school hours would have been great."

jsanchez@sltrib.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Communications Technologies and the ‘Information Society’

HOW COMMUNICATION AND TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS YOUR ABILITY TO PROVE YOUR POINT (From WIKIPEDIA)

“Focusing on the existing and potential opportunities ICTs have to offer protest and political groups, discuss whether such advances indicate a wider democratic revitalisation.”
New Communications Technologies and the ‘Information Society’ –

How significant a role do new technologies play in democracy? Does accessibility hinder their potential? Are they breathing life into protest groups which would otherwise be without a platform?

Sceptics such as Papacharissi and Keane believe the idea of the ‘public sphere’ is outdated, and a more complex situation, riddled with intricate divisions has emerged. In contrast, demonstrators and visionaries such as Don Darling of Salt Lake City, Utah suggest that technology, if accessible and understood by all, has the same democratising potential as the printing press [Rheinhold, 1993, pp279]. However, is talk of an ‘information revolution’ or a new ‘knowledge society’ premature when 50% of the world are yet to make a phone call [Shirky, 2002]? Concentrating on activist and political organisations, we will examine whether ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) are finally allowing democracy to embrace its ancient Greek meaning, ‘government by the people’.

Same old story?
The introduction of earlier technologies often hailed a flurry of similar utopian predictions – air travel, television and radio were all upheld by some as the key to world peace and democracy. In 1941, General Carty foresaw a global telephone system that “will join all the people of earth into one brotherhood” [Sola Pool, 1983]. Even as recently as 1998, Cairncross discussed transformations in time, space, wages, home and office, policing, language and the triumph of global peace. It is easy to describe such suggestions as idle and polemical prophecies, the like of which have a clear history of failure. However, could the sentiment behind some of these predictions be already materialising?

“Community in the information age is elective; we join because we wish to, because we believe. This contrasts with more traditional communities we might belong to because of our class, our race, or where we live and work” [May, 2002, pp84]

May, a sceptic of the ‘knowledge society’, highlights that rather than coming together through personal, practical or geographical coincidence, people are now able to join a borderless community - the internet. All are equal and everyone can communicate in an environment where democratic values can flourish. In the absence of any interference from government (in theory), free communication can flow. Greater political participation is said to follow this phenomena, so what examples already exist?

Cyberactivism
As early as 1986, New Internationalist [Kazis, issue 162] reported on a cyberactivist movement bought together to prevent the US Navy from clearing the Ikego Forest near Zushi in Japan. As a member of an internet bulletin board, the META network, Izumi Aizu asked other users to write protest letters to the Japanese and US governments. However, the system was already being exploited for less wholesome activities - in the same year, US police broke up a neo-nazi bulletin board and paedophile network which allowed members to exchange stories and information.

Nevertheless, Mimi Maduro, a founder of the Electronic Networking Association, recognised the potential of the new medium...

“People are talking to each other based on interest areas. They don’t know what the other looks like or how much money they make. Class, race and other barriers start to melt away. And that to me will always be exciting.” [cited in Kazis, 1986, New Internationalist 162]

Even in the mid-1980s, Greenpeace was using portable Kaypro computers to link their regional offices. Today, with a membership of over 20,000 promoting resistance to a variety of environmental and political causes, the Greenpeace ‘Cybercentre’ [cybercentre.greenpeace.org] has revolutionised the way the NGO conducts its campaigns. Meanwhile, Washbourne found that, in the 1990s, the expansion of ICTs within Friends of the Earth “arose in relation to a widely shared conception that IT could not only help FoE influence public policy and environmental debate but also was congruent with FoE’s globalist values.” [2001, pp141]

One of the most famous and defining examples of cyberactivism is perhaps the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Supporters of the anti-globalisation Mexican rebel group raised international awareness of their cause using satellite phones and the Internet. May argues that the success of the Zapatistas actually stems from their control of the state of Chiapas [2002, pp87]. However, through ICTs, the organisation had effectively networked with other sympathetic political groups and boosted interest from the world’s media. In effect, it became almost impossible for the Mexican president to attend a press conference abroad without being questioned about the ‘Chiapas situation’. Pickerill acknowledges the power Computer Mediated Communications (CMCs) hold...

“Its speed, cheapness, interactivity, and relative freedom from government or corporate control have enabled significant changes in the way campaigns are organised and advertised and goals are achieved.” [Pickerill, 2001, pp164]

Netaid.org is another example which acts as a hub for development and activist organisations to call on volunteers from all around the world. GreenNet [gn.apc.org] is an ISP which ‘defends and extends’ the rights of those who use the internet for campaigning. It is an NGO that supports and promotes individuals and groups working for the environment, human rights and peace through ICTs. Closer to home, the London May Day protests of 1999 and 2000 and the anti-war march of 2003 were all co-ordinated online to coincide with similar demonstrations across the world. SMS technology was utilised by campaigners to assemble and congregate, just as it was used in 2000 to instigate the fuel tax protest [May, 2002, pp88]. The ‘Chasing Bush’ website invited protestors to use their camera phones to ‘disrupt Bush’s PR campaign’ [BBC News 8, 9], whilst the BBC collected ‘live’ mobile phone images of the demonstration on their news website [BBC News 10].

Development in Action, a small UK NGO, is run by student volunteers and all behind-the-scenes communication is achieved via mass-email. The committee which run the charity often exchange several emails a day, resolving matters through any other medium would be almost impossibly inconvenient. Despite embracing ICTs, the committee still finds it necessary to meet quarterly to discuss wider issues.

e-Democracy in the UK
Citizens in the UK have been bought closer to their MPs with ‘theyworkforyou.com’, ‘faxyourmp.com’ and ‘writetothem.com’. These websites allow visitors to view and comment on their MP’s recent work and send an email, letter or fax directly to their office. This does not automatically mean, however, that they enrich our democracy. In addition to accessibility issues along the digital divide (to be discussed later), the functions of these online portals are nothing new. The difference is that people are now able to communicate with the government more easily and quickly.

Research shows that, for example, when elections are made more convenient and simple through SMS, interactive TV or internet voting systems, the turn-out increases [BBC News 2, 7, 8]. However, whilst ICTs are seen as a solution to voter apathy, poor turn-outs can also be caused by disillusionment, overall dissatisfaction, a personal protest or simply because it is too ‘inconvenient’. Furthermore, the potential for vote rigging remains - or is magnified (as was demonstrated, some would argue, in the 2004 US election).

According to Dahlgren, the hundreds of NGOs, social groups, lobbyists and activists online make up “multiple mini-public spheres” [2001, pp75]. If ICTs can lead to a political reawakening amongst the electorate, with communities interacting freely in debate and discussion with the state, the nearest Britain has achieved to this would be Blair’s ‘Big Conversation’ [www.thebigconversation.org.uk]. Launched with great fanfare in 2003, New Labour urged citizens to “give us your priorities” [BBC News 1 – 28/11/03]. Voters were able to SMS ‘txt’ or email in their opinions and ideas on government policy.

When it became clear that contributions (mainly grievances) were being filtered in favour of those praising Blair’s policies, the scheme was dismissed as a gimmick. Coleman warned that such projects are more likely to be cynical ‘public relations exercises’ [1999, pp21] than serious efforts to spark discussion. Within months, the website disappeared and, as wrote Catherine Bennett for The Guardian... “having created what amounts to a giant virtual dustbin and filled it with complaints familiar to every MP's surgery in the land... the Labour party ...moved on [The Guardian 1 - 18/11/04]. As did the media.

Interestingly, an alternative website at thebigconversation.org offered an independent, unfiltered forum – which perhaps, in contrast with the government led and funded scheme, is more indicative of a true ‘democratic renaissance’. Then again, although open forums designed to support political deliberation sound more democratically advanced than Blair’s ‘consultation’ approach, the problem of moderation remains. Grassroots initiatives like the BBC’s ‘iCan’ website provide an excellent example of a vibrant portal bringing together people, information, advice, guides, campaigns on a wide range of issues – but membership is dependant on adhering to comprehensive list of rules. Moderated forums like ‘iCan’ could potentially be subject to censorship and restriction whilst uncontrolled discussions could drift off-topic, encourage ‘flaming’ and become dominated by individual users. Perhaps a middle ground between open consultation and open discussion has been established in the YouGov website (yougov.com), where visitors are paid for participating in opinion polls, the results of which are regularly exploited by the media and government. And perhaps a sophisticated, self-policing initiative based on the user-led Wikipedia could be developed. The technology behind this, almost foolproof, encyclopaedia relies on visitors to contribute, debate and moderate its database of over a million articles. [Wikipedia 3]

Overall, ‘e-government’ has enjoyed a number of successes and failures. Achievements include easier access to government documents and more efficient (or indeed, less costly) processing of government forms and functions (e.g. tax returns, driving tests). In spite of this, modernisation of the NHS, intelligence and state benefits computer systems and integration of police systems have been expensive and problematic [BBC News 4, 5, 6].

A democratic reawakening
In the lead up to the 2005 election, a variety of websites spanning several political outlooks were launched. Don Darling allowed voters to research and strategically oust pro-Iraq war MPs (irrespective of their party), whilst ‘backingblair.co.uk’ offered an Orwellian parody of the New Labour campaign. Similar sites such as ‘vote4peace.org.uk’ and ‘sonowwhodowevotefor.net’ presented a “resource for dismayed Labour voters”.

Meanwhile, political parties themselves embraced practically every new ICT like never before, using SMS, email, TV, radio and internet advertisements [Znet News 1] – often carefully targeted – to win votes. Such technologies also gave a voice to more controversial or smaller parties like the BNP and Respect Coalition.

Even outside of election time, hundreds of advocacy and resistance groups for everything from ID cards (‘no2id.net’) to fox hunting (‘supportfoxhunting.co.uk’) have found a home on the web. A large cluster of online communities are expressing opposition to the G8 meetings in the UK and are likely to play a central role in organising the inevitable demonstrations and rallies.

The Indymedia network invites its visitors to ‘become the media’, encompassing “individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues” [Indymedia 1]. Their multilingual message is not restricted to cyberspace, but employs TV, radio and DVD. By inviting everyone to contribute they challenge the one-way nature of the media; eliminating the system where by an honoured few dictate the news to a passive audience. The influence of this community was obviously significant enough for the FBI to seize (and promptly return) Indymedia’s UK servers – but critics continue to argue that with no editors, opinion can often be presented as fact on this left-wing, and usually anarchist, resource.

Indeed, whist the medium itself offers no assurance of impartiality or accuracy, the web does provide these organisations with means to campaign, organise, publicise themselves, co-ordinate and recruit members. But would the work of these groups be as effective without an online presence – and what are the myths, realities, advantages and disadvantages surrounding such practices?

Preaching to the choir
Lax [2004, pp220] highlights that “the existence of more information does not in itself mean more democracy”. Few ‘stumble’ across activist material online and convert to a new way of thinking – most visits will be a result of intentional direct ‘hits’ or links from other websites or search engines. One could argue that those searching for minority views online already hold an interest in such issues. May suggests that internet activists “are more likely to be political junkies to begin with” [2002, pp90] and that the medium does not alter the fact that most people are selective in their political interests. The scope of discussion can also be very narrow if community members debate an issue in a focused and isolated group, especially if there is little opposition.

There are numerous examples of where technology has triumphed in the name of democracy. The Daily News in Zimbabwe, a newspaper that often challenged the Mugabe regime, was closed down, but now continues to publish news online [Daily News 1]. Nevertheless, ICTs can also be damaging to democratic values and civil liberties. The Patriot Act in the US allows the state to use digital technology to uncover anything from a person’s health records to their library loans – which is surely, a step in the wrong direction for democracy.

So perhaps the role of ICTs is overstated? Lax goes on to emphasise that the internet was not the only key to the success of the 1999 J18 protests – “posters, leaflets, telephones, words of mouth and graffiti” [2004, pp222] played a role alongside online publicity. Furthermore, online political postings and discussion cannot, arguably, be categorised as constructive, sophisticated political debate. Though the future promises more possibilities in sound and video, the internet is as yet fairly one-dimensional (graphics and text), and perhaps not an ideal arena for mature deliberation. Plus, before we overstress the impact of the internet, Dahlgren reminds us that in cyberspace “political engagement appears to be a minor sideline” when compared to the “massive flows of commerce, trivia, entertainment, chatting, role playing and other games and, not least, of pornography” [2001, pp75].

Although Hamelink [1998] suggests that “increased access to information flows will undermine official censorship and empower movements in civil society”, May argues that ‘being online” is only one step towards participation [2002, pp89], it is not the same as “being connected”. The act of actually contributing to a community or democracy is not sparked automatically by installing your AOL software.

Access denied
By definition, democracy is all-inclusive. However, an ever-widening widening digital divide is dramatically restricting rights of entry to the information age. Access to the digital revolution requires access to electricity – a serious problem in rural parts of the developing world, and demand for ICTs will only increase pressure on the system. Additionally, the infrastructure for standard internet access – i.e. phone lines – is costly and, presently, is not receiving as much investment as mobile networks, which require little infrastructure and now outnumber land lines globally.

Emphasising the restrictive costs of implementing telecom connections in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs), Hamelink concludes that...

“...there is no indication that the current restrictive business practices, the constraints on the ownership of knowledge, and the rules on intellectual property rights that are adverse to developing country interests are radically changing.“ [Hamelink, 1998]

E-health and e-learning initiatives in are undoubtedly a way forward for ICTs in LEDCs, and do indeed incorporate many democratic principles. In 2003, the issue was acknowledged in a world summit organised by the UN, where 170 countries “endorsed what has been called the first constitution for the information age” [BBC News 11]. But reforms in areas such as trade and debt are likely to achieve much more than getting the world online when it comes to filling hungry stomachs.

Divisions are not always drawn along financial and geographical lines – age, literacy and even gender can be an issue. ITU research revealed more complex cultural, social and political barriers to access, highlighting that in Malaysia, 64% of those online are men compared to a more balanced 49% in the US [ITU, 2002].

Access is also unevenly distributed closer to home where, again, it is not only socio-economic obstacles that are proving to be problematic - computer skills and connections speeds are important concerns. Of the UK’s 12.9 million internet households (52%) with internet access [National Statistics, 3rd quarter 2004], 31% of internet users have upgraded to broadband [BBC News 12] and with high-speed features such as video taking a hold online, a new divide is set to open up. Despite this, connection speeds are increasing as prices are falling, and 91% of the UK now has potential access to high-speed services [Ofcom 1, February 2005].

Cautious evolution
With tools becoming faster, smaller and smarter, the opportunities ICTs offer individuals to communicate freely, without restriction, is certainly a step in the right direction. But in a country where more people are members of the RSPB than any political party, more fundamental changes will need to be made to rekindle interest in politics than using new ICTs to bring us closer to the same old system. Just as the telegraph and radio failed to deliver the predicted political revitalisation, we must remember that no technology is inherently democratic.

From the point of view of campaign groups, the fast-moving development of technology will no doubt trigger new forms of protest (particularly in a global sense), whilst such advances are certain to continue bringing the people closer to, and even reducing the influence of, the state. The internet, in particular, is destined to evolve into new multi-media, multi-platform arenas to become as unrecognisable in 10 years time, as it was 10 years ago. But as we hurtle head-first into the supposed ‘information age’, it is all too appealing to make extravagant and utopian forecasts. A degree of restraint should be practiced as the introduction of a technology does not bring inevitable change, the ‘revolution’ may not be all-inclusive and few movements have enjoyed success using the internet alone. ICTs may have the capability to rupture geographical boundaries and fuel democracy, but we must remain stringent in avoiding worldwide cultural homogenisation and should ensure that no-one is left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

HOW DOES A PROTEST WORK?


Protest expresses relatively overt reaction to events or situations: sometimes in favor, though more often opposed.Don Darling , with his teams of active volunteers will assist you in making corporate America Accountable for any and all UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES.

In Darlings home state of Utah he has succeded in alligning the opposing neighborhoods against the mass international invasion of the massive Wal-Mart Chain. He has also succeded in making a point to protect his clients interests, no matter what the size of the business.One major news event occured when a local Strip Club was destroying land values in a suburban Utah Neighborhood.

The Club was forced out of business due to the group effort lead by Don Darling and Protest On Demand!

THAT IS POWER, AND THIS POWER IS AVALIABLE FOR YOU ALSO!

Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly and forcefully making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or may undertake direct action to attempt to directly enact desired changes themselves.Self-expression can, in theory, in practice or in appearance, be restricted by governmental policy, economic circumstances, religious orthodoxy, social structures, or media monopoly. When such restrictions happen, grumbles or interior opposition may spill over into other areas such as culture, the streets or emigration.

Note: In American English, the verb protest often acts transitively: The students protested the policy. Elsewhere one can still find intransitive usage: The students protested against the policy; or: The students protested in favor of the policy.So, what are you waiting for, email your issues to Don at our offices at don.darling@comcast.net

What Are Some Historical Examples of Protests Throughout History?

Unaddressed protest may grow and foster dissent, activism, riots, insurgency, revolts, and political and/or social revolution, as in:
Northern Europe in the early 16th century (Protestant Reformation)
North America in the 1770s (American Revolution)
France in 1789 (French Revolution)
United States of America in the late 20th century (for example Stonewall riots)
Anti-globalization Protests in Prague in 2000
Serbia in 2000
Argentina in 2001 (December 2001 Riots, Cacerolazos)