Solidarity starts in the classroomContinue reading...
French judge clears pair of theft, saying their actions were a ‘legitimate call on the president’ to act
Two climate crisis protesters who removed Emmanuel Macron’s portrait from an official building were justified in doing so because of the severity of the environmental emergency, a judge has said.
The judge in Lyon acquitted the pair of theft in a ruling hailed as historic by campaigners.Continue reading...
He once downgraded citizenship lessons in schools and removed the EU from geography. Now with Brexit it all falls into place
From the vast compendium of Michael Gove’s arrogant moments as education secretary one has been on my mind these last few weeks. He was never a fan of citizenship as a subject – the one that teaches children the rules of democracy – and, once in office, set out to slim the curriculum and get rid of “political fads”. You know, such as teaching young people the rules politicians must follow even when their plans are fading in front of them. (Cough.)
During a parliamentary question session in which Gove was supposed to give full and accurate answers, he was asked if the subject would be removed. He got to his feet, smiled, and simply said: “Citizenship runs through everything we do at the Department for Education”. Then he sat down.Continue reading...
'Even though it is slow, the pace is picking up and the debate is shifting,' 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tells a rapturous audience at George Washington University. Thunberg pioneered the Fridays for Future school climate strikes in August last year by staging a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament. The movement has since grown around the world. The next mass protest is on 20 September. 'Activism works', she says, before concluding: 'See you on the street!'
It began as a call to action from a group of youth activists scattered across the globe, and soon became what is shaping up to be the largest planet-wide protest for the climate the world has ever seen.
The Global Climate Strike, which kicks off on Sept. 20, will not be the first time people all over the world have taken action for the climate on a single day. But if things play out the way organizers hope, it could mark a turning point for the grassroots resistance to fossil fuels.
“Strikes are happening almost everywhere you can think of,” said Jamie Margolin, a high school student from Seattle who played a role in initiating this global movement. “People are participating in literally every place in the world.”
“Suddenly there’s this entire new generation of activists calling out everyone no matter who they are for not doing enough, and that’s woken people up.”
Starting Friday and continuing throughout the following week, thousands or possibly millions of people will participate in actions calling on governments to address the climate crisis. From elementary school students organizing walk-outs, to experienced activists planning nonviolent disruption in major cities, people will call attention to the moral urgency of climate change by interrupting business as usual.
“It’s a galvanizing moment for the climate movement, which frankly has been losing the battle up to now,” said Jake Woodier of the UK Student Climate Network, which is organizing for the strike in London and other cities across the United Kingdom. “Suddenly there’s this entire new generation of activists calling out everyone no matter who they are for not doing enough, and that’s woken people up.”
As is nearly always the case for large social movements, momentum for the Climate Strike came from many different people in different places. But if its origins can be traced to a specific event, it would probably be a 2018 march spearheaded by the youth-led organization Zero Hour, which Margolin co-founded a year earlier with a small group of other young activists — mainly students of color.
The Zero Hour youth climate march took place on July 21 of last year in Washington, D.C. and was preceded two days earlier by a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill, along with other student-led events all over the United States. Hundreds of young people joined the D.C. action despite rainy weather, drawing considerable media attention and shining a spotlight on how Generation Z is disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. But what hardly anyone could have guessed was that behind the scenes, Zero Hour had put in motion a series of events that would lead to an even larger, worldwide mobilization led by young people.Jamie Margolin speaking to a crowd of youth climate activists. (Facebook/Zero Hour)
On the other side of the Atlantic, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, 15 years old at the time, had been reading news about Zero Hour online and was inspired by its leaders’ vision of a distinctively youth-led movement. She began following organizers like Margolin on social media, and soon the teens from different continents were communicating about climate activism over the internet. On August 20, 2018, Thunberg staged her first “climate strike,” skipping school to protest for climate action outside the Swedish parliament. The following month she launched the ongoing “Fridays for Future” strikes, inviting other students to join her in holding school walkouts every week.
“Greta Thunberg’s actions sparked a movement,” Woodier said. “In a world where we’re often made to feel individualized and atomized, that we’re small and can’t make a difference, she has been a massive inspiration to many young people.”Previous Coverage
In late 2018, Thunberg began attending intergovernmental climate meetings in Europe, including a U.N. summit in Poland. She wasn’t the first young person to show up at the United Nations and call on leaders to take action, but there was something unique about her approach.
For one thing, Thunberg was decidedly more pointed than her predecessors in calling out policymakers’ inaction, telling the leaders in Poland, “You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is.” For thousands of people around the world who were fed up with decades of government inertia, her tone was a welcome change.
Moreover, several converging factors contributed to Thunberg’s activism coming at the perfect time. The climate movement has — over the last decade — been getting gradually better at organizing coordinated actions across continents, making possible the rapid spread of new tactics. At the same time, in the United States, the high school student-led March for Our Lives against gun violence provided a model for what a mass youth movement could look like. Finally, with extreme weather hammering nearly every part of the world, more people are waking up to the urgency of the climate crisis, making them receptive to Thunberg’s message. As a well-spoken member of the generation that will bear the costs of climate change more than any other alive today, Thunberg was the perfect movement spokesperson to harness the opportunity created by these events. Soon her addresses to world leaders were going viral on YouTube.
Meanwhile, the Fridays for Future movement was growing — especially in Europe, where it has had the most influence so far. In July, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cited pressure from youth activists as one reason her government plans to move more aggressively to curb carbon emissions. Across much of Europe, the strike movement has helped put climate change higher on the political agenda for both policymakers and voters. A Green Party surge in May’s E.U. parliamentary elections is possibly the most concrete sign yet of the movement’s impact. But the strikes quickly spread beyond Europe.
There are now nearly 700 strikes scheduled in the United States, and hundreds of others in 117 countries across the globe.
By early 2019, school strikes were taking place in countries including the United States, Brazil, India and Australia. Then, over the spring and summer, calls started coming for a new escalation of the movement — one led by youth, but with participation from people of all ages. The idea was for a worldwide strike where people would leave school, work or other daily tasks to join protests for climate action.
The date chosen to kick off the planet-wide strike coincides with the lead-up to an emergency climate summit, called by U.N. Secretary-Gen. António Guterres and is scheduled to begin in New York on Sept. 23. Many see this U.N. gathering — intended as an opportunity for countries to strengthen their goals under the Paris climate agreement — as being itself a direct reaction to the grassroots pressure governments are feeling.
“This climate action summit was called in response to the worsening climate crisis and pressure from the strike movement,” Woodier said. “That’s a reversal from the past, when climate organizers planned demonstrations in response to official events set in stone long beforehand.”Greta Thunberg (center) joined other climate striking youth in New York City last month. (Twitter/@GretaThunberg)
Thunberg has been invited to address the U.N. meeting, and a special youth summit will be attended by teens from around the world, including Margolin. On August 28, Thunberg arrived in New York after crossing the Atlantic in an emissions-free yacht. She had barely set foot on U.S. soil before joining a youth-led climate protest outside the U.N. headquarters. Meanwhile, the Global Climate Strike has been endorsed by close to 200 organizations in the U.S. alone, and hundreds more internationally.
While the largest demonstrations will take place in major cities, strike actions are also making waves in smaller towns, even within fossil fuel-producing states. “I expect our growing local climate movement will bring out more people for the strike than we’ve ever seen before,” said Jeff Smith, co-chair of 350 Montana, one of several organization involved in planning a series of strike actions in Missoula. “I expect the crowds alone will be enough to dominate our local news cycle.”
In the United States, national organizations encouraging their members to join the strikes include Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, Oil Change International, MoveOn, Food and Water Watch and many others. According to the international climate group 350.org, there are now nearly 700 strikes scheduled in the United States, and hundreds of others in 117 countries across the globe.Previous Coverage
350.org has a good amount of experience with this type of international climate mobilization. The organization initiated the first truly large-scale day of action specifically devoted to climate change in October 2009. It took place in the lead-up to that year’s U.N. climate negotiations in Copenhagen and was meant to push delegates to adopt a strong, binding international climate treaty. The idea that such a goal could have been successful at that point may appear naïve in hindsight, but at the time it didn’t seem so unreasonable. The United States had recently elected Barack Obama as its president, and even many climate activists had yet to realize just how deeply entrenched fossil fuel money was in the halls of government.
Indeed, the 2009 day of global action was largely a festive, celebratory affair. Groups posed for photos with banners in front of melting alpine glaciers and other landmarks affected by climate change. There was lots of artwork and relatively few truly large marches. This made sense for a global movement that was just finding its feet — at a time when it genuinely seemed like world leaders might be gently prodded into doing the right thing. But with international progress on climate change largely stalled, legislative action in the United States nonexistent, and the ascendancy of right-wing leaders like Donald Trump, the mood of the climate movement has changed dramatically.
“Folks watching the science understand we are now in the runaway phase of climate catastrophe,” said Nadine Bloch, an organizer with #ShutDownDC, which is planning an action to bring work in the U.S. Capitol to a standstill next week. “The urgency of being on fire has finally been heeded by folks outside traditional activist communities.” The Global Climate Strike will take place just 10 years shy of the 2009 mobilization, and it will include larger and more escalated demonstrations. Its message — that action on climate change takes precedence over school and day jobs — reflects this increased urgency.
Yet, while the word “strike” connotes a more militant type of nonviolent action than photo shoots and rallies, not everyone shares the same vision of what it looks like. “In the United States in particular, a lot of people don’t understand what a strike actually is,” Bloch said. “They’re still talking about getting permits for protests, which isn’t a true strike.” #ShutDownDC envisions something more disruptive, though nonviolent. “We’re planning to interrupt business as usual in the seat of government power where leaders are refusing to acknowledge the climate crisis or take responsibility.”
“I’m motivated by two things: What I’m for and what I’m against,” Margolin said.
Activists are also planning for how to carry momentum from the strike forward into other youth-led movements. “Dismay at government inaction has led people to get involved in the climate strikes,” said Gracie Brett of Divest Ed, which works with over 70 campus-based fossil fuel divestment campaigns. “This same urgency has led to the divestment movement getting a second wind recently. It offers an opportunity to be involved beyond the strike.”
Jamie Margolin also sees the strike as a way to bring larger numbers of young people into the climate movement. “A lot of people aren’t initially attracted to the nitty gritty organizing, which is the vast majority of the work that goes into climate activism,” she said. “But if you say to them, ‘Hey do you want to join this mass action?’ — that attracts nearly everyone. Mobilizations like the strike are a point of entry to the wider movement.”
Margolin, who originally helped inspire Greta Thunberg’s activism, has since followed her lead by regularly striking from school. She has relatives in Colombia and is motivated by the knowledge of how climate change will impact both her current home and the place of her family’s origins. In this sense, she has much in common with other young people in an increasingly diverse and international climate movement — where teenagers and young adults use the internet to coordinate actions across continents and oceans.
“I’m motivated by two things: What I’m for and what I’m against,” Margolin said. “I’m fighting to protect the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I live today, and the beautiful Amazon Rainforest in the place my family is from. But I’m also fighting against the handful of people at the top of a handful of corporations who are literally destroying life on Earth for the other seven billion of us.”
Hajar Raissouni says charges are fabricated and motivated by her work, which is critical of government
Demonstrators have staged a protest outside a court in Rabat to coincide with the latest hearing in the trial of a Moroccan journalist accused of undergoing an illegal abortion and having sex before marriage.
In a letter written from prison, Hajar Raissouni said the charges were fabricated and motivated by her work, which had been critical of the government.Continue reading...
GMB union says contract removes pay for breaks and forces supermarket staff to work bank holidays
Asda workers have staged protests at stores across the country against a new “flexible” contract they say will leave about 3,000 shop-floor staff worse off.
The GMB union said members would face the sack on 2 November if they did not sign the “punitive” contract, which it said removed pay for breaks and forced employees to work bank holidays.Continue reading...
The anonymous members of Il Padrone di Merda (“crappy boss”) stage protests outside employers in the Italian city who are accused of exploiting their workers
On a warm summer afternoon in the Italian city of Bologna, a group of around 15 young people march through the crowded city centre to a high-end pastry shop in Strada Maggiore.
If employers are afraid of image damage, things can change
They do not deliver social justice but carry out vendettas for those who want to damage the image of their employers, perhaps unjustlyContinue reading...
Riot police fire teargas and water cannon as pro-democracy protesters hurl rocks and petrol bombs, tipping the region back into chaos after a brief lull in clashesContinue reading...
Officers also fired teargas at the demonstrators, who had gathered outside the government office complex on Sunday. The latest violence came after tens of thousands defied a police ban and marched toward the seat of the government, chanting: ‘Five demands, not one less.’ For the past three months, Hong Kong has been gripped by the most serious political crisis in decades, triggered by a proposal to allow extradition to mainland ChinaContinue reading...
Police fire teargas as London urged to press Beijing to uphold ‘one country, two systems’
Hong Kong riot police have fired teargas and deployed water cannon on pro-democracy demonstrators in the latest episode of political unrest to rock the city.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators defied a police ban and marched toward the seat of the government, chanting “Resist Beijing, liberate Hong Kong”.
The complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill
Hong Kong’s democratic struggles since 1997Continue reading...
Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters sang God Save the Queen and waved the union flag as they rallied outside the British consulate on Sunday to demand the UK ensures China honours its commitments to the city’s freedoms. The Sino-British joint declaration, signed in 1984, laid out a ‘one country, two systems’ formulaContinue reading...
“You can imprison me but you cannot keep me here,” writes Ahmet Altan at the end of his acclaimed book I Will Never See the World Again. “Because, like all writers, I have magic. I can pass through your walls with ease.”
The novelist’s series of essays, smuggled out of jail among notes to his lawyers, was lauded by critics as an instant classic when it was published in Britain in spring this year, and last week it was longlisted for the £50,000 Baillie Gifford nonfiction prize.Continue reading...
In 1991, 17-year-old Alex Lockwood was flipping through the Guardian Weekend magazine in his family’s car, en route to a family Sunday roast, when he spotted an image that changed his life. A harpooned whale, its body bloodied and lifeless, drew him to a feature about its killing.
“That picture just shook me; it seemed so wrong. When I got to my nan’s house it hit me that the roast on the table was an animal that had also been killed.” He became vegetarian, then vegan, and nearly three decades later is one of the founding members of Extinction Rebellion’s new sister organisation, Animal Rebellion, which formed in June and plans to blockade London’s Smithfield Market – Britain’s largest meat distribution market – in October.Continue reading...
Tuberculosis levels in cattle have risen in the original two areas of the country where the badger cull has been piloted over the past five years, raising questions about the merit of expanding the scheme.
The figures are confirmed in official data quietly released last week as the government announced plans to expand the controversial cull in England, which campaigners say could see more than 60,000 badgers killed this year.Continue reading...
Organisers expect a stronger presence from unions, workers and companies as student activists reach out to adults
Thousands of Australian school students are again preparing to walk out of classrooms across the country to demand action on the climate crisis.
The global mass day of action will take place on Friday 20 September, three days before the United Nations climate summit in New York.
Does climate change cause bushfires?Continue reading...
Rival groups of protesters clash in the Amoy Plaza mall in another weekend of mass demonstrations after months of political unrest. Dozens of protesters scuffled at the shopping district in Kowloon Bay, with groups of people trading blows and some using umbrellas to hit their opponents. Police detained several people.Continue reading...
- Statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson will stay
- Lee statue was at heart of deadly far-right violence in 2017
Efforts to remove the statue of Robert E Lee which was at the centre of deadly far-right violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 have been blocked in court.Continue reading...
Pro-democracy demonstrators clash with Beijing supporters as riot police subdue protesters
Rival groups of demonstrators clashed in Hong Kong and police made arrests in another weekend of mass protests after months of political unrest.
Dozens of pro-Beijing protesters waved Chinese flags and chanted “support the police” at a mall in Kowloon Bay on Saturday, as pro-democracy demonstrators gathered, clad in black and wearing masks. After a standoff, members of the two sides began to fight, throwing punches and hitting each other with umbrellas before police separated them. At least one man was seen bleeding from the head.Continue reading...
The Greek state’s long anticipated attack on the rebellious district of Exarcheia began with the eviction of four occupied spaces and a provocative and dangerous attack on the social centre K*Vox. Since the return to power of right-wing New Democracy in the July elections the move has been expected and a difficult struggle lies ahead for Exarcheia and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian space in Greece. The short-term fixations of New Democracy and the right explain the police operation but the attack on Exarcheia is part of a deeper desire by the state draw a line under its decade long crisis and declare total victory.
New Democracy have their own reasons for the attack on Exarcheia.1 While in opposition they raised the right’s traditional banner of ‘law and order’ and helped by a cooperative media painted a picture of a society spiralling into lawlessness. None of this was true, after all SYRIZA evicted occupied centres and refugee solidarity projects as well as sending the riot police into the neighbourhood and against demonstrations countless times while one of SYRIZA’s final campaign rallies for the July elections was attended by prominent police officials. Still the new Prime Minister Mitsotakis repeatedly threatened to ‘end’ Exarcheia while in opposition. That the refugee and migrant occupations were targeted first along with other announcements that the government will speed up deportations demonstrates that an anti-immigration agenda will be a priority. This reaffirms New Democracy’s connections with the far-right despite the liberal ‘centrist’ presentation of Mitsotakis.
The operation against the neighbourhood also fits in with economic and social objectives. One of Mitsotakis’ first announcements as Prime Minister was that the long-established law against smoking in enclosed spaces will be enforced. It was a symbolic measure to proclaim that from now on all laws of the state, no matter how minor, will be enforced. Eradicating the social tolerance for the bending or breaking off the state’s rules is a key element of Greece’s restructuring which was begun by the memoranda programmes. Exarcheia as an apparently ‘lawless’ neighbourhood is the physical embodiment of a mentality the government has set out to end. On the economic side Exarcheia is set to be another of the Athenian neighbourhoods undergoing rapid gentrification and exploitation as low property prices, the rise of tourist rental platforms and the tourism industry as a whole combine to reshape the face of the city. Should the political groups be neutralised or removed from the area, Exarcheia will be the perfect hip/alternative tourist destination.
There are then a number of reasons why the new government is attacking Exarcheia but such an operation was inevitable whoever administers the state. Exarcheia and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian space are one of the few remaining obstacles on the state’s path to a restoration of normality. The Greek state is in the process of moving on from a devastating decade long political and economic crisis and in recent years it has been able to present itself as slowly returning to normal. In August 2018 the third memorandum programme was finally completed, though budget targets still must be meet for the next forty years and the Greek state remains under ‘enhanced supervision’ from the eurozone. The July 2019 elections saw New Democracy restored to power under one of the traditional dynastic families that have dominated Greek politics since the early twentieth century. Despite being the longest serving memorandum government SYRIZA consolidated their position as the new left pillar of the state, replacing the previously dominant PASOK and restoring the possibility of a stable two-party system. Even better the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn failed to re-enter parliament. Borrowing costs are falling to historic lows and in recently the final capital controls, put in place in 2015, were lifted. Over the last two years the memorandum and austerity were replaced as the main political issue by a focus on national questions such as the historic identity of the state’s northern neighbour and tensions with the Turkish state. When viewed from the top of society it is as if there has been a magical restoration of the pre-crisis status-quo.
While it seems in some sense that so little has changed despite the upheavals of the decade-long crisis events since 2008 revealed a political shift in Greece. For much of the twentieth century the Greek state was in a prolonged struggle against a large section of its own population. This internal enemy was the left whether that was the Communist Party (KKE) who led the resistance to Nazi occupation and the fight against the right-wing Greek state that was restored by the British and the Americans post-1944 or the broader left that struggled against an authoritarian state and the far-right throughout the 1960s and 1970s. That struggle ended, as elsewhere, with the election of a Socialist (PASOK) government to carry out progressive reforms and democratise the state. With the election of PASOK in 1981 the Greek left was reconciled with the state. In the modern crisis this allowed the left to step in and stabilise the state. Between 2008-2012 the Greek state was rocked by a series of revolts and social movements that began with the December revolt of 2008 and continued through the massive anti-austerity movements of 2010-2012. The result of these movements was that by 2014 the two traditional ruling parties, New Democracy and PASOK, were huddled together in a coalition that was so politically exhausted it was incapable of carrying out the next phase of the bailout and memorandum programme. In 2015 the Greek state needed SYRIZA and the left dutifully stepped in to manage the situation better.
During 2008-2018 it became clear that the internal opponent of the Greek state is no longer the left but the anarchist and anti-authoritarian space. It was the space which was central to the revolt of December 2008 that marked the beginning of the crisis. The anarchists and anti-authoritarians were key to the riots which threatened revolt during the most precarious moments of the crisis in 2010-2012. The space formed the core of the anti-fascist movement that combatted Golden Dawn and the far-right turn of the state while going on to contribute to the post-2015 refugee solidarity movement. Anarchists such as Alexis Grigoropoulos and Lambros Foundas were killed by the state’s police. It was members of the space that conducted an armed struggle against the state and have since been at the centre of a continuous anti-terror repressive campaign. The anarchist and anti-authoritarian space has become the main challenger to the state and so a strike at its heart in Exarcheia was inevitable at some point.
While the Greek state hopes to sweep into Exarcheia and wipe away a district that has cause it problems for half a century its operation is not without risk. In 2012-2014 another New Democracy led government aimed to defeat the anarchists and anti-authoritarians. Squats were attacked and evicted, there were attempts to shut down the space’s websites and radio stations, guerrillas and their family members and acquaintances were imprisoned and tried as terrorists while a new maximum security prison and isolation regime was threatened. At the same time Golden Dawn were let loose with the protection of the police. In those years the anarchists and anti-authoritarians fought back and while some battles were lost the state’s offensive was blunted. The current situation is perhaps more threatening as in previous years the existence of wider social tensions and mobilisation meant that the state’s ability to attack the anarchist and anti-authoritarian space was tempered by the threat of the wider disorder that could provoke. Now Exarcheia and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian space are more isolated as large parts of society are demobilised and disillusioned. Still the fact the police waited until the end of the summer tourist season to launch any major operations shows they remain uncertain of the political cost of the operation.
Greece is almost ‘back to normal’. Its old governing elite is back in power with members of one of the dynastic families as Prime Minister and Mayor of Athens. SYRIZA has stepped into PASOK’s shoes to restore a two-party system. Golden Dawn are no longer needed and have been side-lined while parts of the far-right agenda have been fully absorbed into the mainstream. The memoranda and bailouts are over, the banking systems of northern European and America were protected and now Greece is an open field for exploitation and investment. Exarcheia and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian space are the last bastion of opposition that must be overcome. In this precarious and dangerous position only one thing is certain: Exarcheia will fight.
Some squats in Greece: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GR/squated/squat
Groups in Greece: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GR
Events in Greece: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/GR
1 For a closer look at some of New Democracy’s current objectives see this article by Omniatv (in Greek) https://omniatv.com/853450720