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Den Haag: De Vloek is being evicted

House Occupation News -

De Vloek is being evicted right now, some photos and a timeline here. Watch a live feed here:

06:45 Riotcops drive into the street
07:13 Water canon is throwing water on the roof, and almost hits the people.
07:15 More Riotcops are arriving
07:30 Riotcops are waiting to start the eviction. Riotcops are attacking the front wall with a bulldozer
07:40 Riotcops are starting to cut through the roof




De Vloek, Hellingweg 127, 2583 DZ Den Haag

Mob attacks on HDP (Kurdish Political Party) offices in multiple Turkish cities

Revolution News -

Manavgat ve Çorlu HDP binaları saldırıya uğradı, tabelaları indirildi, eşyaları yakıldı. — Evrensel Gazetesi (@evrenselgzt) September 7, 2015 Turkey – As the frequency of bombings increase and the country slips closer to war, waves of attacks on the Kurdish population have swept the nation, leaving many to question if further conflict, could even Read More

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Hungarian Camerawoman Caught Kicking and Tripping Fleeing Refugees

Revolution News -

Petra Lazlo, a camerawoman with Hungary’s N1TV was caught on video kicking and tripping Syrian refugees as they fled Hungarian police at the Röszke temporary refugee camp on the Hungary-Serbia border. Videos capture the camerawoman kicking a young girl who is running past her while holding the hand of who appears to be her father. Moments Read More

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Farmers Protest EU Agriculture Summit in Brussels

Revolution News -

Belgium – About 6000 European farmers protested in the Belgian capital on Monday to demand the European Union take action to counter the slumping prices they get for milk and pork. Farmers converged on the EU headquarters from across the 28-nation bloc, arriving on hundreds of tractors. Farmers have been hard-hit by a Russian ban Read More

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Protester interrupts Dick Cheney speech on Iran deal: ‘Why listen to him?’ – video

The Guardian | Protest -

A protester interrupted the former US vice-president while he was speaking about the Iran nuclear deal, yelling: ‘Why should we be listening to him? He was wrong on Iraq, he’s wrong on Iran.’ The woman was forcefully removed. Cheney says the deal will have dire consequences for the US and Middle East

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In Uganda, an activist’s resurrection is a victory for a growing movement

Waging Nonviolence -

by Phil Wilmot

Tumuhimbise Norman with a copy of his book “Unsowing the Mustard Seed.” (Facebook / Saskia Houttuin)

Tumuhimbise Norman is one of those relentless characters. You know the type. He’s the kind of activist who will keep pushing and pushing — not minding the risks or burdens — until his demands are met.

Over the course of several months, Norman and his colleagues plotted a successful attempt to sneak yellow-painted pigs into Uganda’s Parliament in protest of greedy politicians. Since then, he’s been hopping between prisons, courts, talk shows and the streets without any sign of being deterred.

On August 19, Norman and his associates with the Kampala-based youth activist group The Jobless Brotherhood, or TJB, staged another dramatic display by painting their iconic guerrilla piglets many colors and setting them free in the city. They wanted to make it clear that the opposition politicians, symbolized by multiple colors representing various political parties, were doing just as little as those from the ruling party, which sports yellow attire.

Attached to the pigs was a “last letter to government” directed toward the nation’s dictatorial leadership, in which TJB threatened to initiate a period of civil disobedience in response to the failure of parliamentarians to pass electoral reforms. “We had given you a little benefit of doubt, thinking you would come back to your senses,” read the note. “We may resolve to have temporary instability if it can guarantee permanent stability of our motherland Uganda.”

The very evening these messenger piglets were scattered in the city, Norman disappeared.

Activists, organizers and civil society organizations went into crisis mode, running around from one police station to the next to inquire whether Norman had been detained there. Some of his associates were facing threats and were advised to sleep in guest houses in various places throughout the city so as not to be snatched by the plain-clothes agents frequenting their homes.

Through Whatsapp and Facebook correspondences, a press conference was convened within 48 hours, through which the public was asked to provide any information that may lead to the recovery of Norman — or at least his corpse. The rumor began surfacing that Norman was abducted near his home by disguised agents of the Special Forces Command, an anti-terrorism division of the Ugandan military that received counter-terrorism training with the U.S. military.

The kidnapping was totally believable, as the Special Forces Command has a reputation for harassing politically active youths and torturing those who criticize President Yoweri Museveni’s three-decade military regime. A feeling of defeat trickled around Norman’s social circles, as he had long been hailed as a kind of indomitable force on the frontlines of political change.

Nevertheless, total despair had not yet set in. TJB members visited Norman’s wife, sister and two-year-old daughter, asking them to join a public effort to make an inquiry concerning Norman’s whereabouts at Kampala’s Central Police Station, which they agreed to do. This new search party bombarded their media contacts, which put the police in a situation of crisis when Norman’s wife began crying and begging them to return her husband’s body for a proper burial.

In a typically unprofessional move, the Ugandan police detained the coalition. Their phones, however, were not confiscated, so the detainees were able to use Facebook to call for immediate outside assistance. After a few hours, police realized they were getting too much attention and released the group.

Yet, Norman’s family and colleagues were nowhere closer to locating him. There were talks about organizing an interfaith prayer, but those plans were only inching along slowly. Something more drastic and alarmist had to be done. Every second Norman was gone increased the likelihood of finding his remains washed up on the shores of the Nile River.

The image circulated on social media announcing Norman’s death. (Uganda Youth Platform)

Almost a week after Norman’s disappearance, social media coordinators for various youth groups in Kampala announced that Norman was dead. A picture of his face was posted on Facebook, crossed out with a red “X,” and accompanied by a few words explaining how he had been killed by “Dictator Museveni.”

This forced the state to act. The only way it could refute allegations of murder was to produce Norman himself. Within a few hours, Norman was pushed out of a white double-cabin vehicle in the late hours of the night. He stumbled home in terrible condition, dehydrated and unable to talk.

Norman was immediately rushed to obtain proper care. Medical reports indicated he had suffered ocular damage. There were chemicals still dripping from his eyes, which had also been pushed deep into their sockets. His spine was misaligned, and he suffered a visceral rupture. Doctors put him on a drip to replenish his body with the necessary fluids.

“I blacked out as soon as I was forced into their vehicle,” Norman explained to me during a visit I made to his home after he was well enough to talk. “I woke up some unknown amount of time later in a completely black room where I was repeatedly asked the same three questions and tortured for my responses to them.”

The first thing his captors wanted to know concerned the funding sources behind TJB. Norman asked those interrogating him whether they had seen the activist group build any buildings or start any businesses in Kampala. After all, piglets can be purchased for less than $20 in the local market. Very little capital was needed to organize, Norman explained, so there were no major funders behind the movement.

Norman’s book is a direct challenge to President Yoweri Museveni’s own book “Sowing the Mustard Seed.” (WNV / Norman)

Norman’s torturers then questioned him about his recently published book, “Unsowing the Mustard Seed,” which chronicles Museveni’s crimes against humanity in his quest to take power in the country, as well as Norman’s personal encounters with poverty and political oppression. (I also contributed a section to the book on the strategic benefits of nonviolent tactics and movement-building in Uganda.) The book’s title is a direct challenge to Museveni’s own book “Sowing the Mustard Seed,” in which he describes how he became Uganda’s successful liberator in the mid-1980s. The interrogators asked Norman where he had obtained the information in his literary rebuke. He explained, truthfully, that there were some former associates of the president who had defected and offered their stories to him.

Finally, the captors asked Norman about the campaign of civil disobedience TJB intended to launch, as indicated in the letter affixed to their pigs. They accused Norman of stockpiling weapons to initiate an armed rebel movement. “I told them that even if I die, the cause will never die,” Norman later explained to me. “There are more than 1,000 people ready to champion the same causes with the same tenacity. This response won me heavy beatings and slaps, but I just kept asking them whether they wanted to hear answers that pleased their ears or if they wanted to hear the truth.”

Norman’s resolve is clearly not shattered. He and his associates were busy brainstorming other ideas that could pester their dictator, which is an especially useful approach in sub-Saharan nations that tend to have patriarchal and ageist mainstream cultures in which old men in positions of leadership are not to be confronted or even questioned by females and youths.

Supporters across the nation and abroad are currently advocating for an international dialogue concerning Norman’s abduction and torture. “We want to see foreign countries blacklist our leaders who are, at best, complacent with the present conditions under which activists and advocates like me are suffering,” Norman said. “In many cases, they are the ones perpetuating injustice directly. They have bank accounts in foreign countries and travel there for both business and vacation. They have no interest in improving their own country. Let the foreign countries block them from entering so that they learn a lesson.”

Image circulated on social media after Norman was released by the Special Forces Command. (Uganda Youth Platform)

“Unsowing the Mustard Seed” is now available online, and TJB intends to continue promoting the book to generate a cash flow that can support their activities. “People are wary of just making contributions, especially if they don’t know us,” said Norman’s fellow TJB coordinator Mayanja Robert. “Now that we have something for sale, it can generate some financial support for us and the buyer can go home with a book that sensitizes him or her on the true stories of Uganda’s political history.”

Norman’s “resurrection” is no doubt a win for TJB and other progressive groups throughout Uganda, but the activist continues to face challenges. His landlord of several years finally succumbed to the pressure from authorities, coupled with an alleged bribe of a few thousand dollars, to evict Norman’s family by the end of this month. Norman is currently seeking civil society stakeholders who can help his family find a secure residence that can also accommodate other at-risk activists and organizers from time to time.

Although Norman was repeatedly told by his captors that they could snatch him any time they needed him, he seems to almost disregard this threat. To see Norman emboldened by his recent experiences is something that will kindle the flames of change in young Ugandans across the nation. They’ve already raised him from the dead. There’s no telling what other nonviolent miracles are in store with elections approaching early next year.

City of Baltimore to Pay 6.4 Million to Freddie Gray’s Family

Revolution News -

Baltimore City officials have reached a $6.4 million wrongful death settlement with the family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died in April from a neck injury he suffered in police custody, according to two people with knowledge of the agreement. Baltimore officials could announce details of the proposed settlement as early as Tuesday. Read More

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Deconstructing the Petty Propaganda Against Refugees

Revolution News -

By Guilhotina Collective The stories coming to us from the people running from the Syrian war are tragic, full of horror and death. But they don’t tell us everything and thus space has been created for baseless rumours, lies and fears to spread. #‎RefugeesWelcome‬: Deconstructing the miserablist and petty propaganda against ‪refugees‬. REFUGEES REFUSED HELP Read More

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Watch ‘The Wobblies’ – America’s Unmentioned Labor Movement

Revolution News -

By the ’70s American culture had been made to forget that the Industrial Workers of the World had ever existed, just as in the century’s first decades the segregated union utopia was condemned, brutalized, legislated against, campaigned against, and demonized. Today, things haven’t changed much. This film stands among a scant handful of books detailing Read More

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#LightTheDark: tens of thousands gather across Australia over migration crisis

The Guardian | Protest -

Candlelit gatherings spring up in towns and cities to remember drowned Turkish boy Aylan Kurdi and call on politicians to tackle unfolding humanitarian disaster

Tens of thousands of people gathered at events across the country on Monday evening to urge action on the humanitarian crisis arising from the conflict in Syria.

The call went out on social media under the hashtags #refugeeswelcome and #LightTheDark, with planned gatherings in major cities as well as more spontaneous events elsewhere.

Related: Tony Abbott hints at taking fight to Isis in Syria amid pressure to help country's refugees

aaaaaa so proud that so many peoples showed up at the #adelaide #lightthedark

Lighting candles of compassion for Aylan and all those fleeing danger #LightTheDark #Perth

Hobart #LightTheDark. Photo by @jamesfahy.

Sydney says #welcome! #LightTheDark

Wow Melbourne. Get down to Treasury Gardens now - this is huge #LightTheDark #refugeeswelcome

Related: #LightTheDark: share your photos and videos

#Lismore gathered to #LightTheDark and call on our leaders to increase intake of refugees #refugeeswelcome here!

#LightTheDark Darwin

Related: Refugees are Australia's most entrepreneurial migrants, says research

#Melbourne you're doing us proud as you #LightTheDark to say #refugeeswelcome. Yes they are! #AylanKurdi #Syria

vigil for refugees in Hyde Park Sydney is growing! #refugeeswelcome

@TonyAbbottMHR please resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees #LightTheDark #RefugeesWelcome @amnestyOz

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Den Haag: De Vloek declares independence!

House Occupation News -

According to the judge’s verdict, social centre De Vloek [previously on S!N] can be evicted as early as this Monday [TODAY]. For this reason, we find it necessary to declare our independence on this day, September 3rd, 2015! An autonomous zone where equality rules, where refugees are welcome and where capitalism is a thing of the past.

We are calling on everyone to come to the autonomous zone, join us! Read our declaration of independence below, completely in the style of the US Declaration of Independence, written in 1776. This declaration will also be sent to King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands, President Mark Rutte, all members of the Dutch parliament, and all of The Hague city council members.

Viva la Independencia y la Libertad, Viva el Lokal Pirata, Viva De Vloek!

Declaration of Independence: De Vloek, a Free Space, a Free Community

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a community of people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which they are entitled, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are born equal; that they are by this fact endowed with inalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, political institutions are created, deriving their just powers from the consent of those for whom the institutions make decisions.

That whenever any political institution becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new form of governance, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object of profit and power, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

That is the painful situation of social center De Vloek. Herein lies the root of the necessity which is now forcing the occupants of De Vloek to change the political system. The history of the present and consecutive government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a history of repeated injustices and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over our social centers and communities, in particular against De Vloek. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

De Vloek is a place where people found living space. The right to shelter, even if continually threatened by landlords, speculators and commerce, was provided here. Court rulings, blackmail and forced evictions by police are a fundamental violation of this right to shelter, a violation that is not insignificant, but fundamental.

De Vloek is a place where people can find an outlet for their creativity, and where other people can learn from these expressions. A society that values freedom encourages these kinds of places. It is not without reason that these places are known as ”free spaces”. A system that denies this is not worthy of being called a free society. No free space owes its loyalty and obedience to such a despotic political system.

De Vloek is a place where people actively strive for precisely the world of equality, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness that even the Kingdom of the Netherlands considers to be inalienable and fundamental rights. By attempting to put an end to this free space, it is in violation of its professed fundamental principles.

For these reasons, De Vloek wishes to no longer in any manner be connected to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which answers its call for freedom with despotism, extortion, and tyranny. De Vloek hereby declares itself to be an independent free space, and extends a hand to all those who share her goals.

De Vloek will regulate her relations with other political entities on the basis of equality, including with the Kingdom of The Netherlands. To begin, we offer the aforementioned Kingdom mutual diplomatic recognition, including an exchange of ambassadors. De Vloek is not looking for a fight. But her members – equal and free citizens of an autonomous community based on solidarity – will defend their independence, by any means necessary. We are calling on every freedom and solidarity loving person to support us in this struggle.


De Vloek Independent and Autonomous zone

Bristol: Direct Action against Estate Agents

House Occupation News -

Award giving in recognition of services to landlords and their rights. We proudly presented bricks through windows of CJA estate agents in Southville on the night of 31st August. All windows smashed and the international squatter symbol painted on their wall. Because despite the ban on squatting houses everyone should have a decent home.

CJA have showed real resilience and single mindedness to make a stand for maximum profit regardless of the tough conditions faced by tenants everywhere. In a letter to Bristol landlords in March this year they encouraged landlords to hike their rents and cynically take advantage of the housing crisis. Because the crisis is for landlords and property developers another business opportunity. They then arrogantly ignored a campaign by a local community union to hold them to account. So we found another way to encourage them to see the costs of their actions.

Thousands of us are trapped in overcrowded, over priced and chronically undermaintained and decaying rented houses. We constantly struggle to pay the rent under the ever present threat of eviction and homelessness. Gentrification and colonisation of our areas pushes rents ever higher and forces us further out. This is social cleansing and it is a very profitable business. For greedy landlords and estate agents like CJA, decent, affordable homes don’t come into their sums. It’s all about investment opportunities and ruthless profiteering. Meanwhile, there is a huge increase in homelessness and the hostels are full to bursting. We don’t have to take this. Let’s fight for a world without landlords, where people’s homes are not for the profit of the rich.

Toulouse: The recently repainted Socialist Party premises

House Occupation News -

Tuesday, August 25 2015 The building of the Departmental Federation of the Socialist Party of Haute-Garonne, in rue Lancefoc, Toulouse, was again the target of damage on the night of Monday to Tuesday.
When they arrived on Tuesday morning, the staff of SP 31, discovered the facade stained with blackish oily liquid and several inscriptions on the walls and gate, including “no evictions” and “solidarity with no papers”. [...]

The SP lodged a complaint. The police were present on site on Tuesday morning. Almost two months to the day, the front of SP 31 had already been the target of waste oil. It had since been repainted.


Hamburg: New case of cop infiltrating ‘Rote Flora’

House Occupation News -

This is far from being a first … We learn in a statement of August 26, 2015, that a police agent infiltrated the autonomous area and ‘Rote Flora’ between 2009 and 2012. The undercover cop Maria Böhmichen rubbed shoulders with anti-capitalist activists / anarchists during this period and embedded herself in their private spaces. Under the name of “Maria Block”, she has participated in several international mobilizations over recent years, such as during the protests against the UN climate conference in Copenhagen (Denmark) in 2009, during the ‘No Border’ camps on the island of Lesbos (Greece) in 2009 and in Brussels (Belgium) in 2010.

Besides having created bonds of “friendship” and having had at least one sexual relationship within the community, she was able to gain access to private areas of activists and infiltrate the organization and execution of direct actions (not penalised). She also participated actively in meetings, demonstrations and events concerning anti-fascism and anti-racism, as well as in anti-nuclear and environmentalist struggles.

This new case of an undercover cop comes less than a year after comrades exposed the infiltration of cop Iris Plate into the autonomous milieu in Hamburg in December 2014. This one had been embedded for six years, between 2000 and 2006, under the name of Iris Schneider. So this is the second case of spookery under the leadership of Senator of the Interior Neumann of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).


London: Update from Sweets Way eviction resistance

House Occupation News -

There was a second night of clashes between occupiers and security thugs “Dorman & Co” on Saturday night / Sunday morning. One occupier was arrested early on Sunday morning, but released on Sunday afternoon without charge. The situation is tense and occupiers are still expecting a major eviction attempt with riot police that could come any time (from Monday 7 September). More support is welcome.

Meanwhile, Sweets Way campaigners will also accompany Mostafa, the last remaining tenant, to a meeting with the council (Barnet Homes) today at 1PM. See here for details.

Thousands of Refugees Arrive in Austria, Germany as Marches Continue Across Hungary

Revolution News -

Thousands of refugees from Hungary finally arrived to Nickelsdorf receiving area in Austria after days of delays in Budapest and a desperate 30km #MarchOfHope on foot towards the border. VIDEO: Drone footage shows refugees walking to Austrian border Nickelsdorf, Austria early Sat, despite the pouring rain, "I feel I've reached Europe" a Syrian refugee tells Read More

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Moldova protesters take to streets criticising 'mafia' government

The Guardian | Protest -

Demonstrators attempt to occupy central square in capital Chișinău after mass embezzlement scandal of missing $1bn

Several protesters have been detained after tens of thousands of protesters in Moldova took to the streets of the capital to demand the dissolution of the new government following corruption scandals.

Demonstrators gathered on Great National Assembly Square in downtown Chișinău on Sunday to call for the resignation of the president, Nicolae Timofti, early elections and punishment for those responsible for widespread embezzlement. Organisers claimed 100,000 people had attended the demonstrations, which were ongoing on Sunday evening, while police put the number at 35,000-40,000. The protest is the largest such action in the former Soviet republic, which has been one of the poorest countries in Europe since its independence movement in the early 1990s.

Related: Vanishing act: how global auditor failed to spot theft of 15% of Moldova's wealth

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Mexico: GIEI Forensic Experts Report Disputes Government Version of Cocula Landfill Fire

Revolution News -

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (“GIEI” Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) submitted its final report today on what exactly happened in Iguala on 26 September 2014. Their main conclusion is that there was no fire in the Cocula landfill where, according to the government’s official version Read More

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French spy who sank Greenpeace ship apologises for lethal bombing

The Guardian | Protest -

Jean-Luc Kister was one of a team which planted mines on the Rainbow Warrior in 1985, killing photographer Fernando Pereira

A French secret service diver who took part in the operation to sink Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior 30 years ago has spoken publicly for the first time to apologise for his actions.

Jean-Luc Kister, who attached a mine to the ship’s hull, says the guilt of the bombing, which killed a photographer, still weighs heavily on his mind.

Related: French inquiry into bombing of Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior: from the archive, 24 September 1985

Related: Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg: The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic Thirty review – frustrating account of Greenpeace activists

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This Labor Day, stand with working women

Waging Nonviolence -

by Frida Berrigan

(Twitter / Fight for 15)

I do not have a job. I haven’t had one in years. But, as mom of three little ones, I feel like I am working harder than I ever have before.

Today, I woke up before the sun came up, nursed Madeline, enduring her karate chops to my bladder for almost an hour. Then, I got three kids ready for the day, winning (just barely) a major fight with Seamus about how it’s too hot to wear sweatpants, and engaging in high-level negotiations with Rosena about an outfit that would cover (but not itch) the bug bites on her legs. Then we ate breakfast, and I cleaned the dishes before getting the laundry started. Finally, I hitched up the bike trailer and rode Seamus and Madeline to pre-school about three miles away. It was difficult, terrifying, fun and totally unnecessary because the bus stops in front of our house, but Seamus loves it.

All that was before 9 a.m. And it’s hard work for sure, but I know I’m lucky. I did it all in a nice home, in a safe community, for kids who are healthy, and alongside a husband who is working just as hard as I am.

I am also lucky because I have loved almost all my jobs: In my decades of paid work, I have felt valued, stimulated and challenged in flexible, humane, collegial environments, where I was respected and relatively well paid. Not your everyday American work experience. In fact, I disliked only one job in my whole career. For my first work study job in college, I cleaned the second floor of the Hampshire College library (including bathrooms that were always filthy but never busy). But even that job was fun in a behind-the-scenes kind of way, in that I got to know and care about the janitorial staff. I saw and respected work that is too often invisible if done well.

I am thinking about my old jobs and my current (hardworking) joblessness now because Labor Day is almost upon us. The U.S. Department of Labor notes on its website that the holiday was established in the 1880s to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of workers and to give working people a day of rest and relaxation — parades, picnics and community celebrations. One of those credited with founding the holiday, union organizer Peter McGuire paid homage to working people as those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

That sounds amazing, but today, it seems like Labor Day is more about shopping than relaxing, which means that lots of workers are working this weekend and they are not carving grandeur from rude nature. I’m talking about people like the workers at Walmart, where shoppers are being offered deep discounts on a huge array of products and workers are fighting for a living wage. Fierce battles, courageous work and old school organizing by Walmart workers and supporters have resulted in a win. The country’s largest private employer company announced in February that it will raise its starting wages to $9 and then $10 an hour. This is great, but Americans for Tax Fairness found that even with these increases, Walmart will continue to benefit from billions in federal subsidies. Workers being paid $10 an hour for Walmart’s 34-hour work week bring home $17,680, qualifying them for food stamps, Section 8 housing, school lunch program, Medicaid and other public support programs. Basically people are working full time, but not making a living.

Then there are workers like Adriana Alvarez from Chicago. She writes, “I’ve worked at McDonald’s for five years, but still make only $10.50 an hour. The only way my son and I can make it is with food stamps, Medicaid and a childcare subsidy. Most of my coworkers are in the same boat, no matter how long they’ve held their jobs.” Alvarez and her three-year-old son Manny live in a basement apartment that leaks when it rains. She is a national organizer with the Fight for 15 movement. She says that when they win $15 an hour, the first thing she’ll do is “move to a decent place to live and be in a neighborhood with good schools.” Alvarez isn’t alone; the $15 an hour living wage movement is gaining traction, but there is a long way to go before I can in good conscience consume their buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich.

One of the great things about not having a job is that I didn’t have to leave my little ones and go back to work when they were small. I knew I was in a privileged position, but I didn’t know how good I had it until I read Sharon Lerner’s groundbreaking (as well as heartbreaking and rage inducing) study for In These Times. Lerner, who also wrote “The War on Moms: On Life in a Family-Unfriendly Nation,” looks at Department of Labor and Census data to try and figure out how much (if any) time women take off when they give birth. Only 13 percent of full-time workers in the United States had access to paid family leave in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so everyone else has to cobble something together. Here is what she found, looking at DOL data on women who took time off to care for newborns in the last year: “Nearly 12 percent of those women took off only a week or less. Another 11 percent took between one and two weeks off. That means that about 23 percent — nearly one in four — of the women interviewed were back at work within two weeks of having a child.” Two weeks! It took me almost a week to walk down the stairs and two weeks to fix myself a sandwich.

Lerner talked with women at many points along the economic spectrum. Low-income women without access to paid leave spoke of being afraid of losing their (multiple) jobs if they stayed home to care for newborns. Raven Osbourne, a single mother in Mississippi, went back to waitressing at IHOP a week after her son was born and added overnight shifts at a gas station when he was a month old. She was also going to school full time. IHOP would have given her unpaid time off, but she couldn’t afford to not earn a wage. Professional, middle-class women who worked for companies (and nonprofits) that promise decent benefits packages spoke of being afraid of taking advantage of leave packages because they might lose out on promotions.

Lerner talked to Tracy Malloy-Curtis, a fundraiser at a nonprofit in New York City, who went back to work “five-and-a-half weeks after having a son — and a complicated C-section — for fear she otherwise could not afford to pay her mortgage and cover the other basic costs of her life.” She told Lerner, “Physically, I was a wreck … I was still bleeding, my incision wasn’t closed.” Her C-section wound was infected and “pus dripped down her leg under her work clothes.”

Lerner didn’t talk with Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, about her plan to only take limited time off after the birth of her twins in December. The company has generous parental and medical leave policies, but the fact that the CEO won’t avail herself of them and has assured board members that she’ll be “working throughout” sends a message to the families who work under her that work comes first. I read all of this and thought, “What is the point of being worth $300 million if you can’t spend time with your newborns?”

The White House is working on an executive order on paid sick leave for federal contractors (but we just need to look at Guantanamo to see how President Obama’s executive orders are faring). The Democratic contenders for the White House in 2016 are campaigning on paid family leave. The Democrats and Republicans in Congress are talking about the issue and trading proposals.

In the meantime, women are trying to plan their pregnancies around their employer’s leave policies, pumping breast milk in their cars before their shifts at the factory, getting home just in time to tuck their kids in before they go to sleep, patching together multiple jobs while their infant is in the neonatal intensive-care unit, and working through crushing depression, acute physical pain and almost physical longing for their small children.

Is this what I am missing out on by not having a career? If so, I might never go back to work. I do wear many metaphorical hats and name tags: cook, janitor, book keeper, grounds keeper, laundry machine operator, psychologist and more. has a Mom Salary Calculator. Based on my zip code, the number of kids I have, and that I stay at home with them, I should be earning something like $127,459. I could even print out a paycheck for myself from their site.

That is more money (like twice as much) as I ever made back when I was a working stiff, so that made me feel really good. That figure is also about four times what our household actually brings in, underlining just how fantastical these numbers are. But when you are feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, it is worth a few clicks to have a computer screen tell you what your work is worth.

The massive fictional salary notwithstanding, I feel really lucky to not have a job right now. It takes a lot of work, though. It takes a lot of work to live and live well on one modest salary. It takes a lot of work to inoculate my kids against the consumer bug — the dreaded chant of “I want, I need, I want” products with Disney’s Olaf on everything from breakfast cereal to bed sheets to underpants. It takes a lot of work to be on food stamps, state health care and Women, Infants and Children, or WIC — the government-funded supplemental nutrition program. Then I need to resist the urge to be stigmatized by my subsidies. But if Walmart can get billions in federal subsidies, maybe it’s okay for me too (with a lot fewer zeroes).

So, job or not, this Labor Day, I stand with working women — with Tracy and Raven and Adriana — who are fighting for the most basic right of all, the right to have a life and make a living.