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What will it take to ban the bomb?

Waging Nonviolence -

by Frida Berrigan

When I was a young teenager, I would venture down to the basement where my father had his desk. He’d be plugging away at letter writing, or working on a talk or article. I’d wait quietly by his side for a few minutes before interrupting him to say goodbye, on my way to the movies or to meet up with friends.

He’d look at me with bright blue eyes and say something to the effect of: “You know what time it is, Freeds?”

I’d nod. I knew where this was going.

“It’s three minutes to nuclear midnight, and you are going out with your friends?” he would tell me. I could feel his disappointment at my waste of time and money, his incredulity at my hard heartedness or thick headedness.

His comment was a reference to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, which — aside from symbolizing the threat of global annihilation — cast a long shadow over my social life as a young person. Over time, however, as the clock began to tick backward, my dad and I had fewer of these awkward geo-political disagreements over the ways in which I spent my “free” time. When I was 14, in 1988, the clock had moved back to six minutes to nuclear midnight — the result of the United States and Soviet Union signing a treaty banning intermediate range nuclear missiles.

By 1990, the Berlin Wall had fallen, Soviet states had begun breaking away from the USSR and the clock had moved back to 11:50 p.m. The next year, it ticked even further back to 11:43, as the Cold War officially ended and the United States and the Soviets made deep cuts to their nuclear stockpiles. Seventeen minutes to nuclear midnight: Enough room to breathe and plan and work towards total nuclear abolition. Anti-nuclear activist and journalist Jonathan Schell wrote beautifully about what he called the “Gift of Time.” The world was still alive and vibrant, we had survived the superpower showdown without a globe-destroying, mutually-assured exchange of nuclear fire power. For me, this gift of time meant not having to defend my movie watching before the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and my father.

Nevertheless, the Doomsday Clock is still with us. In fact, it has been inching closer to midnight in two or three minute increments for the past 26 years. It is 2017, Philip Berrigan is 15 years dead, and I am an adult with my own movie-loving kids. In January, after the elections of Donald Trump, the Bulletin moved the clock to two and a half minutes to nuclear midnight — the closest it has ever been. In their statement, they pointed to the ways Trump is fanning nuclear flames by suggesting that Japan and South Korea should acquire nuclear weapons as a counter to North Korea, and making provocative statements about Iran. They also cite the multiple flashpoints between the United States and Russia — Syria, Ukraine, cyber-space — and worry about a new wave of hot proxy wars that defined the Cold War period. The scientists also included the existential threat posed by climate change in their analysis. They concluded by saying, “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”

Back in the day, wise citizens were out in front of the nuclear issue in a major way. Throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, millions of people in the United States were engaged in anti-nuclear activism and advocacy. There were multiple national organizations that supported and coordinated those activities. Here are just a few highlights: In 1961, 50,000 women marched as Women’s Strike for Peace in 60 different cities to oppose nuclear weapons and above-ground testing. Throughout the 1970s, activists focused on the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire. In May 1977, more than 1,400 people were arrested there — 500 of whom were jailed for nearly two weeks. The next year, 12,000 people showed up to the protest.

The banner event of the anti-nuclear movement was June 12, 1982, when one million people came to New York City’s Central Park during the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament to call for an end to nuclear weapons. Two days later, simultaneous actions were held at the U.N. Missions of all the nuclear armed states, resulting in the arrest of 1,700 people. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Western Shoshone people welcomed more than 500 demonstrations involving nearly 40,000 people in opposition to nuclear weapons testing on their indigenous lands at the Nevada Test Site. In the 2000s, the most covered anti-nuclear story was the Transform Now Plowshares; a 2012 breach of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee (also known as the Fort Knox of Uranium) by a trio of Catholic peace activists, including an 82-year-old nun.

This is such an impressive and abbreviated list. The international scene was also dynamic, with millions of activists across Europe and beyond fighting for a nuclear free future over this same time period. Trying to capture this breadth, historian Lawrence Whittner wrote a three-volume series called “Struggle Against the Bomb.” His works were published over an eight-year span and total more than 1,800 pages, but a condensed version was published in 2009.

And today?

Most people my age and younger in this country aren’t really afraid of nuclear weapons. They are background noise; a tertiary concern after other more pressing issues take our attention. We see nuclear weapons mentioned mostly on television and the movies as plot devices, shadowy threats or ticking bombs that are defused at the last minute (with key bits of information extracted from the bad guys by torture just in time). But the issues raised by nuclear weapons haven’t changed all that much. There is still a preponderance of world-killing power concentrated in just a few hands — the United States and Russia hold more than 90 percent of all nuclear weapons — who along with three other major nuclear powers in France, the United Kingdom and China make up the P5, or the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Russia and the United States toggle back and forth between having a slight advantage, depending on who is counting what kind of warhead. The three others have been 200 and 300 nuclear warheads.

There are four other countries — India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — that possess nuclear weapons, a few hundred between them. These four are outside of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which struck a bargain between world powers with nuclear weapons and the rest of the world. In the NPT, the P5 committed to nuclear disarmament and pledged to share nuclear power capabilities with the rest of the world, in exchange for other signatories not pursuing nuclear weapons technology. That is the heart of the hundreds of pages of the treaty. Iran was convinced to give up its nuclear weapons program by the Obama administration — a delicate set of agreements that Trump’s bombast is now endangering.

Between them, nearly 30 years after the end of the Cold War, the nine nuclear states have nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons, each one many times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which killed hundreds of thousands almost instantly.

A “ban the bomb” sign outside of the United Nations headquarters in New York City. (Twitter)

In March 2017, confronting the glacial pace of disarmament, the global community united to announce a new initiative to “ban the bomb.” The U.N. General Assembly adopted, with overwhelming support, a landmark resolution to begin negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. According to Sally Jones, an organizer with Peace Action Staten Island, such an action is unprecedented. “The treaty is changing the dynamics within the United Nations,” she said. “A hundred and thirty countries stood up to the nuclear weapons states and their allies to push the negotiations forward. This has never happened before.”

Nikki Haley, President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, walked out of the meetings early, saying, “As a mom and a daughter there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons … But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?” This statement underlines the stalemate, with many experts arguing that North Korea was able to acquire nuclear weapons because the big powers’ continued to cling to their nukes even after signing treaties pressing their intentions to disarm, because nuclear weapons continue to be a currency of power on the international stage.

“Ban the bomb” can break this paralysis. While most of the other nuclear states joined Haley and the United States in her walk-out, the majority of the world’s governments will negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations in June.

In support of the “ban the bomb” process, the historic Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, or WILPF — along with many partners — are calling for a Women’s March and Rally to Ban the Bomb on Saturday, June 17. The organizers hope it “will bring together people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, ethnicities, abilities and backgrounds” in New York City and across the world.

An ad for the “ban the bomb” march on June 17. (Twitter)

According to Ray Acheson, Director of WILPF’s disarmament program, U.N. representatives have been inspired and emboldened by the protests that have taken place around the world over the past few months. “Just as people in the streets are standing up to Trump on issues of environmental, racial and social injustice, the majority of the world’s governments are standing up to the nuclear-armed states to say no to nuclear weapons,” Acheson said. “There is an important parallel between today’s anti-nuclear organizing in the streets and what we’ve been able to accomplish inside the United Nations. There is rebellion and resistance in both spaces for the first time ever. Hopefully, it will result in new law and new social expectations that will help compel nuclear disarmament. ‘Ban the bomb’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s a revolt against the powers that be, and it’s happening right now.”

And while the United States is not part of the negotiations at this stage, some members of Congress are working on a resolution to express their concerns about Trump’s finger on the nuclear trigger.  HR 669 and SR 200 seek “to prohibit the conduct of a first-use nuclear strike absent a declaration of war by Congress.” Both resolutions were introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-MA, and provide another avenue for education and mobilization.

This renewed spirit of nuclear resistance could not come at a better time. The president is showing a disturbing lack of knowledge about our current nuclear footing, saying that the United States needs to build up our nuclear weapons capability and be “at the top of the pack.” We are at the top of the pack, and it is costing us dearly.

The United States is in the midst of a $1 trillion modernization of its submarines, bombers, ballistic and land-based missiles over the next 30 years, which was initiated under the Obama administration. Current U.S. nuclear forces consist of submarines that launch ballistic missiles, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, long-range bomber aircraft, shorter-range tactical aircraft, and the nuclear weapons that those delivery systems carry. According to the Congressional Budget Office, current plans to sustain and upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal will cost $400 billion over just the next 10 years. Our nuclear arsenal is not hurting for money, and it is not being negotiated out of existence. What’s more, this is all happening at the same time as the president submits a brutal budget proposal that would see major cuts to just about every social good.

If all this seems like just one more thing on an ever-growing list of things to worry about, longtime anti-nuclear activist Sally Jones hears you. “Of course, people are spread thin,” she told me. “And sometimes it feels like we are facing incoming attacks from a 360 degree circle. But, in a way, it is creating more conscious solidarity among organizers, activists and organizations.” Furthermore, according to Jones, “No one can be out in the street 24/7, but we can help each other, and be there to stand up for each other and the planet.”

I think my father would say “amen” to that. He’d pray that tens — if not hundreds — of thousands join the call to “ban the bomb.” But he’d also recognize something new at work here: women leaping into leadership, motivating with joy, possibility and vision — rather than out of existential fear. As someone raised in the shadow of the fearsome ticking of the Doomsday Clock, I’m grateful for a reminder of all we are working for instead of just what we are up against. Philip Berrigan wouldn’t argue with that, even if he might still ask me to consider what time it is.

Texas Republican 'threatens to shoot Democrat' over immigration protest

The Guardian | Protest -

  • Chaos in Texas House as protesters oppose ‘show your papers’ law
  • GOP representative says shooting remark was regarding self-defense

A group of Democratic state representatives on Monday accused a Republican of threatening to “put a bullet in the head” of a fellow lawmaker on the Texas House floor, as a raucous protest against a new state immigration law unfolded in a public gallery and legislators confronted each other.

Related: The small Texas city fighting to remain a ‘safe haven’ for immigrants

VIDEO: Lawmakers in Texas House scuffle during #SINEDIE on Monday.
BACKGROUND: https://t.co/q77vMguaXh pic.twitter.com/zlAGEaL0pB

Related: 'It's life and death': border crossings continue despite the Trump effect

Continue reading...

Berlin: Second night of anti-state violence in Friedrichshain

House Occupation News -

This Saturday night, May 28, after a film screening, activists started digging a ditch across Liebig Street in Friedrichshain. The goal was to stop police cars and other undesirable traffic on this road, which builds the Dorfplatz at the crossing with Rigaer Street.

The ditch was the pretext for two Riot Police vans to take position on the spot. After a while, they suddenly attacked some neighbours, sitting in front of a house. In the same moment, more two units rushed in the street and tried an assault on houseprojekt Rigaer94. Crazy pigs started beating everybody they could grab. But very fast, neighbours and chaoten began throwing stones against officers.

Three more Riot Police vans arrived with high speed, but they could not handle on the small road. Stones were coming from everywhere, some pigs were neither able to leave their car nor were others to find a safe space on the street. This lead to a panic of this unit, their commanding van was damaged and escaped. Some vans tried to flee without their crew, others tried to carry away the arrested five people. In the end the helicopter arrived again and 65 cops had to leave the scene. This riot occurred under the eyes of a MP from the Green Party whose daily walks in this street are tolerated because of some „democratic“ humour within the anarchist space.

Day after, the excitement in media is mad. The CDU chief is asking via newspaper and facebook the police to smoke out the residents of some houses. There are different reasons why residents in this neighbourhood show their rage angainst cops, for sure the gentrification and high police presence make people resisting. The new leftist-socialdemocrat regime of Berlin is going different ways than former government. This might be more dangerous because they try to integrate in cases their predecessor Home Secretary used harder methods. The last days proved, that in this area of Friedrichshain people gather, who know that every government is a murder and rapist and the pigs have not many friends.

https://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/213735

Portland knife attack: tension high as 'free speech rally' set for Sunday

The Guardian | Protest -

With a suspected white supremacist charged with murdering two men, an ‘alt-right’ organizer refuses to back down. ‘Antifascists’ are vowing to oppose him

The racially charged double murder that shocked Portland, Oregon on Friday has increased tensions in a city already prey to a marked increase in political street clashes this year.

Related: 'He will remain a hero': families and friends mourn victims of Portland stabbing

Jeremy Christian has nothing to do with us. He’s not even a Trump supporter

Related: Pathway to extremism: what neo-Nazis and jihadis have in common

The sad, unfortunate fact is that Portland does have a long history of white supremacist activity

Continue reading...

Berlin: Rigaer Street sends aggressive solidarity to GARE & everybody resisting state oppression

House Occupation News -

When some people learned about the recent trouble to Gare Squat in Exarchia (Athens), they decided on Friday evening 26/05, to hang a banner in Rigaer Street, Friedrichshain (Berlin). After some minutes, Riot Police and Undercover Agents arrived at the scene and stole the banner. Meanwhile more people had gathered in nearby streets and ambushed a cruising Police vehicle with a rain of stones.
Soon more police was alerted to Rigaer Street, which is named a Dangerzone in official announcements. But also more people came to protect the area and started throwing stones on cops.
More Anti Riot Units and a helicopter emerged and took a threatening position in front of the squat Rigaer 94. They did not find anyone because rioters left quickly.
Now the mainstream media and the scumbags from political parties will scream their never ending story about the dramatic anarchist violence in this area. But we know, the war has already begun and, infected by the virus of freedom, we are going to build lawless areas in their cities of surveillance.
Let us kick out police and their friends.

Virus Baxalais

https://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/213625

Federal Labor feels heat over Adani, and Coalition's starting to sweat too | Katharine Murphy

The Guardian | Protest -

The biggest environmental campaign seen in Australia since the 80s is causing bumps in the road for both sides of politics

When it comes to the Adani Carmichael coalmine, the spotlight this week has been trained on Queensland as the state government battled an internal split on whether to give the project a royalties holiday. There have also been murmurings in Canberra, where Labor MPs are starting to express public opposition to a project many have been privately wringing their hands about.

But to fathom the next phase in the political battle against the project, we need to train our eyes a bit further south.

Related: Adani Carmichael mine to get six-year holiday on royalties, report says

Related: Most Queensland voters oppose taxpayer support for Adani coalmine – poll

Related: Two more federal Labor MPs take stand against Adani's Carmichael coalmine

Continue reading...

Athens: Announcement from Gare squat. Call for vigilance against the mafia branch of repression

House Occupation News -

Yesterday, Wednesday, May 24th, Gare’s occupation was the target of organized thugs. At midday, during clashes with MAT forces around Exarchia Square, there was a confrontation of protesters with a shopkeeper who tried to prevent a barricade-defense being set up against cops. This particular shopkeeper is known in the neighborhood of Exarchia as being connected with circles of protection rackets, prostitution and drugs, and with state security. A group from an adjacent movement space rushed to defend him. The incident with a portion of those present athte barricade, with this group has been the reason for GARE to attribute responsibility for these events as a whole.

This particular group has been denounced in open movement processes in the recent past by a multitude of collectives, for authoritarian attempts and military-style enforcement against self-organized efforts. The group supposedly acts on behalf of movement spaces and forms. But these, although they have been called upon to denounce the actions of this group, are silent instead.

Immediately after the incident, this specific group along with another bunch of thugs gathered menacingly outside the GARE squat. This larger collection included members of gangs who sell protection to the area’s shops, and who have been involved in attacks and injuries against radicals in the past. After they all had gone, later some of the original problematic group came to our assembly and said they would turn against our squat if we do not identify and deliver to them within 24 hours the people who confronted them at the events earlier in the square.

Later that night, people in this group took down GARE’s squat banner from Exarchia Square, which was calling for an event on Sunday 28/5 and an open meeting on Monday 29/5 to mobilize against police occupation of the neighborhood. This action was a direct attack on social resistance to repression. Such practices serve state planning, correspond to parastate activity and must be dealt with as such. The banner was replaced immediately by comrades of the squat, with a guarded intervention in the square. The barking of these gangs has roused our feelings, and raised our guard. We will stand firmly against every attempt to terrorize resistance in the neighborhood.

We call on all the groups in the movement to take a stand. SILENCE IS COMPLICITY.

We call for a meeting for information, and to defend spaces of struggle.
Thursday 25/5 at 5 pm at GARE squat

Exarcheia has history!

OUT WITH THE THUGS AND THE POLICE!

GARE squat
Kallidromiou 74, Exarchia

http://actforfree.nostate.net/?p=27278

Behind the sprawling, chaotic movement to boycott Trump

Waging Nonviolence -

by Mattea Kramer

Embed from Getty Images

This story was originally published by TomDispatch.

In normal times, Dee from New York would have ordered her copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale” from Amazon, but these are not normal times. Amazon is on the Grab Your Wallet list, a campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump family products, which began as a response to the video revealing our now-president’s penchant for grabbing women “by the pussy.” Dee bought her book from a smaller retailer instead.

Since Donald Trump’s election in November, and especially since his January inauguration, hundreds of small and not-so-small organizations have sprung up to oppose the president. They joined the ranks of established left-leaning and liberal groups already revving up their engines to fight the administration. Among all the ways you can now voice your dissent, though, there’s one tactic that this president will surely understand: economic resistance aimed at his own businesses and those of his children. He may not be swayed by protesters filling the streets, but he does speak the language of money. Through a host of tactics — including boycotting stores that carry Trump products, punishing corporations and advertisers that underwrite the administration’s agenda, and disrupting business-as-usual at Trump companies — protesters are using the power of the purse to demonstrate their opposition and have planned a day of resistance against his brand on June 14.

Such economic dissent may prove to be an especially apt path of resistance, especially for the millions of Americans who reside in blue states and have struggled with a sense of powerlessness following the election. After all, it’s not immediately obvious how to take effective political action in the usual American way when your legislators already agree with you. But what blue-state dwellers lack in political sway they make up for in economic clout, since blue states have, on average, greater household incomes and more purchasing power than their red-state compatriots. The impact of coordinated blue-state boycotts could be enormous. That’s why Grab Your Wallet, along with Color of Change, a racial-justice group, and numerous other organizations are encouraging individuals to see their purchasing power as political muscle.

“It was close at the polls, but it’s not close at the cash register,” Shannon Coulter, a founder of Grab Your Wallet, told me recently.

And yet, even as throngs of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals throw their energy into economic tactics intended to weaken the president, it’s still an open question whether this type of resistance — or, more specifically, its current implementation — can precipitate anything in the way of meaningful change.

‘A sprawling landscape of resistance’

At first glance, Grab Your Wallet is a modest website: a Google spreadsheet that lists about 50 companies to boycott. Included are the department stores Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Lord & Taylor, as well as online retailers like Overstock.com, Zappos, and Amazon, all of which sell some type of Trump swag. (The precise number of companies listed continues to decline, as retailers dump the Trump brand.) The site gets an impressive two million unique visitors every month, and when I spoke with Coulter, she told me that 22 retailers had dropped Trump products since the start of the boycott. She believes that this is just the beginning.

“I don’t think we’ll see the full impact of the boycott until summer, because of how the retail cycle works,” she explained. The department store Nordstrom, for instance, the biggest company to date to drop the Ivanka Trump brand, sold through its existing inventory before indicating that it would not reorder. That announcement even attracted attention from the president, who tweeted: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

Color of Change has long deployed strategies of economic resistance, specifically by going after advertisers who underwrite hate. Now that Trump is in the White House, Rashad Robinson, the group’s executive director, told me that they’re focusing on the role of corporate enablers “who’ve made this administration possible.” He described a strategy in which his organization carefully selects a corporate target and then rallies its million-plus members to participate in a campaign designed to tarnish the company’s brand — unless its executives make more ethical advertising choices. Color of Change played a role in the recent ouster of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News by helping to influence some of the more than 50 major advertisers who pulled their financial support from his top-rated program. After advertisers fled, Fox gave O’Reilly the boot.

Progressive groups are proving increasingly savvy when it comes to designing such consumer-driven tactics. The Center for Popular Democracy and the immigrant-rights group Make the Road New York recently co-launched a campaign called Corporate Backers of Hate, which targets Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, The Walt Disney Company, and a handful of other corporations that have provided various forms of support for Trump and his agenda. Wells Fargo, for instance, has lent millions of dollars to the president’s companies, is an investor in immigrant detention centers run by private, for-profit contractors, and has loaned money to developers for the Dakota Access Pipeline, the 1,172-mile oil pipe that would cross Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lands in North Dakota. (Trump signed a memo authorizing that pipeline within days of taking office.) The Corporate Backers of Hate website allows protesters to bypass customer service staff at these corporations and send messages directly to top executives and board members to express their disapproval.

This strategy of going after the funding underlying Trump’s network has won some early victories. Several groups have been trying to cut off the flow of advertising dollars to Breitbart, the xenophobic pseudo-news site formerly run by White House strategist Steve Bannon. Leading the charge in this work is a Twitter-based group, Sleeping Giants, with a relatively simple proposition: it asks followers to take screenshots of ads on Breitbart — preferably next to an offensive headline — and then tweet that screenshot to the company in the ad along with a polite message asking it to stop underwriting hate. This approach has been wildly successful; according to Sleeping Giants, thousands of advertisers have pulled out of Breitbart.

Nicholas Reville is a seasoned online organizer who has become a leading figure in the campaign to, as he says, make “hate unprofitable.” He believes that the Sleeping Giants model of digital resistance represents a new and important type of political action. “It’s very, very rare that you have an activism campaign where people are doing something other than signing a petition, showing up to a rally, [or] donating money,” he told me. Instead, he pointed out, an individual can now take a discrete action on his or her personal device and actually help win a victory when an advertiser pulls out of Breitbart.

Some activists are going beyond screenshots and tweets. Journalist Naomi Klein recently released a video highlighting the fact that Trump’s brand is one of his most important sources of revenue and suggesting that “jamming” the brand — by turning it from a money-maker into a money-loser — would be a powerful form of resistance. She mentions tactics like clogging phone lines at Trump companies or making, and then canceling, reservations at his hotels.

One activist who has been working on jamming those Trump phone lines, and who spoke with me on condition of anonymity, said that resisters like her had discovered that it was surprisingly easy to disrupt the president’s businesses. “The phone lines do not have the capacity to handle even medium-volume call traffic,” she said, and assured me that there was more phone jamming planned for the future. When I asked what she hoped to achieve through this tactic, she responded that the goal was to weaken President Trump financially, politically and in every way imaginable.

“These strategies are complements to other kinds of organizing,” she went on. “None of these tactics alone are going to bring down the Trump administration… that’s not how it works. This is part of a sprawling landscape of resistance.”

Easy to resist, hard to win

The multitude of groups, campaigns and individuals going after Donald Trump, Trump businesses and companies supporting him or his political agenda do indeed form a sprawling, often chaotic landscape of resistance. I receive a dozen different, mostly uncoordinated action-alert messages in my inbox daily. In the weeks immediately following the inauguration, I found all that frenetic energy strangely appealing. After a couple of months of diffuse efforts, however, I began to wonder whether such efforts would be better spent on fewer, more coordinated campaigns. While Trump oppositionists undoubtedly feel a thrill of satisfaction when Nordstrom drops Ivanka’s product line and legions of advertisers pull out of Breitbart, it’s unclear whether these are steps on the path to a revised political landscape, or whether they are just feel-good wins leading nowhere in particular.

This dilemma is perhaps best exemplified by the Boycott Trump app, which has been downloaded 350,000 times. The concept behind it is similar to the one that animates Grab Your Wallet. The app is essentially a list of companies to boycott, though it includes more than 250 of them, rather than the dozens on Grab Your Wallet, many because they sponsored Trump’s NBC show The Apprentice back in 2011. I asked Nathan Lerner, who heads an organization called the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, which is responsible for the app, what qualifies a company to be listed, and he said that any company connected to the president was worth listing. I then asked if his group was collaborating with other boycott efforts.

“We’ve been a little frustrated with partnering,” Lerner told me. “Right now we’re seeing a ton of enthusiasm around boycotting Trump, but it’s fragmented. Folks are popping up doing great work, but they’re doing it on their own.” That seemed like a remarkably on-target summary of the situation, and Lerner’s group seemed to be an example of those working “on their own.”

In search of answers, I called up Marshall Ganz, who would surely be in the hall of fame of community organizing if there were one. He worked with Cesar Chavez in the 1960s to organize California farmworkers and was an architect of Barack Obama’s organizing strategy for his presidential run in 2007. A professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School (and, full disclosure, once my professor), Ganz defines “strategy” as “how we turn what we have into what we need to get what we want.” That applies nicely to the Trump boycott concept, in which activists are trying to turn their discrete consumer power into collective influence great enough to change where our country is headed.

When I mentioned to Ganz that so many different boycotts and related campaigns are happening without much coordination, he described the problem this way: “The mechanisms for starting my thing, my thing, my thing, they’re so easy in virtual space.” Bringing those initiatives together is the problem. As he pointed out, back in 2007 the San Francisco Bay Area alone had about 54 different pro-Obama groups registered online; the hard part was getting them to work together in a way that channeled their energy toward a shared goal. When it comes to fighting Donald Trump, Ganz suggested that it would be far more strategic for the many different boycott and pressure groups to pool their efforts. Were this to happen, he suggested, the anti-Trump movement could become more proactive, rather than reactive.

Not all experts agree with his assessment. L.A. Kaufman is the author of the recent book, “Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism.” “I think that the decentralized character of the resistance gives it resilience,” she told me in a phone interview. In her view, the fact that all this activity is totally grassroots and happening outside the Democratic Party is a sign of political renewal in this country. She has a point. Yet it’s hard to see how economic resistance, surely a suitable weapon against a businessman-in-chief, can be effective without a critical mass coalescing around an agreed-upon set of actions and goals.

I asked Shannon Coulter whether she’s coordinating with other campaigns, and she pointed out that Grab Your Wallet is now aligned with the organizers of the Women’s March, the vast post-inauguration protest that swept the country. Those same organizers were also the driving force behind the formation of roughly 5,500 groups of local activists who convened after the march to consider the next steps for the emerging anti-Trump movement. This alliance seemed like a promising sign.

Recalling what Ganz had said about uniting groups that supported Obama in 2007, I asked Coulter whether she would ever consider merging Grab Your Wallet into a larger organization. To this, she responded in the negative. “I say that,” she explained, “because Grab Your Wallet is one of the only women-led ones in the movement.”

Coulter isn’t the only one to offer such reasoning. Since the anti-Trump movement is a heterogeneous collection of groups representing women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and lots of straight white people, there’s concern that combining efforts could result in a resistance dominated by white men who might compromise the priorities of specific groups and their constituents. In order to be effective, says Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, campaigns must carry the “moral authority of an impacted constituency.” He described situations in which white-led groups had tried to mimic campaigns led by Color of Change — without realizing that they lacked the moral authority to do so effectively.

In 2014, Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina who studies social movements, gave a TED talk titled “Online social change: easy to organize, hard to win,” in which she described the March on Washington in 1963. That historic event, where Martin Luther King delivered his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, drew 250,000 people. Tufekci underscored the significance of attracting such a crowd in 1963, when organizers used landline phones, flyers and word of mouth, in a landscape lacking today’s easy digital tools. Fifty years ago it was nothing short of awe-inspiring to draw a quarter million people to the National Mall. “If you’re in power,” said Tufekci, “you realize that you have to take the capacity signaled by that march, not just the march, but the capacity signaled by that march, seriously.”

The anti-Trump movement has yet to accomplish anything so awe-inspiring. More than half a million people gathered in Washington for the Women’s March — a number that climbed to more than four million when all the protests around the country were added in — but it’s not at all clear that such numbers carry the same weight today as smaller crowds did in previous eras. Though protesters filled the streets in Washington one day after the inauguration, anti-Trump activity remains fragmented several months into his term.

And when it comes to waging economic resistance against this billionaire president, the pressing question is whether innumerable people across the country, like Dee from New York, who are changing their spending habits, tweeting at advertisers, contacting chief executives, and jamming phones at Trump businesses, will do so in a way that converts their discrete actions into real influence and power.

It’s still too early to tell.

The original version of this story referenced smaller crowd estimates for the Women’s March. This version relies on the data gathered by political scientists Jeremy Pressman and Erica Chenoweth.

Amsterdam: Refugee collective We Are Here wins court case and can stay in the Vluchtlumumba till 3 july

House Occupation News -

Yesterday, the Somali group of We Are Here won the court case against the State of the Netherlands with regard to their stay at Florijn 8-11 in Amsterdam-Zuidoost. The authorities ordered the immediate eviction of the ‘Vluchtlumumba’, which they started to inhabit on 9 April 2017. However, their request to stay until the end of the Ramadan has been granted by the Court of Amsterdam.

The group consists of 20 men who have been in the Netherlands for a long time. Some of them have been here for up to 20 years, without the possibility to go back, or to lead a normal life in The Netherlands. After being evicted from a previous building last year, they were on the street for four months. As many of them have various health problems and as they needed more time to find another place, the group decided not to leave the building as ordered, but demanded to be allowed to stay until 3 July.

The court ruled that the interest of the state to evict is less urgent than the right to housing of the current inhabitants of the place until 3 July. “The inhabitants should have some more time to find another place to live. It is further taken into account that the inhabitants are a part of a vulnerable group of asylum seekers, with a hopeless existence in the Netherlands. It’s plausible the group will again be on the street after the eviction.”

The Somali group is content that their difficult situation is partly being acknowledged by the court. “For now, we are very happy, and relieved. It is a great victory for We Are Here. We will indeed leave the building on July 3 as promised. We don’t want to cause any trouble, we just want a decent place to live.”

From 3 July the group will again be on the street however, while the night shelter of the municipality, the BBB (bed, bath, bread), is still full. Besides, it is not a solution, as leaves people on the street during the day. “We still call on everybody to change our problematic situation. We need a status for our basic human rights and a place to live on the long term”, according to the group. Since the start of We Are Here, more than 80 of its members have been granted official refugee status.

“We thank the judge for taking our story seriously and this wise and human decision, and our lawyer and supporters for their help. We stand in solidarity with the other groups of We Are Here and wish everybody a Happy Ramadan.”

https://www.indymedia.nl/node/40356

On the frontline of Venezuela's punishing protests

The Guardian | Protest -

After two months of political unrest, many wonder whether the relentless clashes with police will affect change – or make things worse

It starts with a distant rumble, and then a chanted countdown from the demonstrators packed tight along the Caracas freeway.

As the count reaches zero, the crowds briefly part, and a file of young protesters – faces covered by T-shirts or makeshift gas masks – rush forward to confront heavily armed riot police.

Related: Venezuela: 50th day of protests brings central Caracas to a standstill

Related: Venezuela opposition blasts president's plan to rewrite constitution and delay elections

You never study how to protest, but you learn how to take care of yourself as you go

Related: 'They have gas; we have excrement': Venezuela protests take a dirty turn

Related: 'Everything is in chaos': night of violence reveals depths of Venezuela crisis

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Setúbal (Portugal): Stop Eviction of COSA Squat

House Occupation News -

Bulletin from C.O.S.A. in struggle. Gathering at May 27 in Setúbal, Portugal.



Originally published by Casa Okupada de Setúbal Autogestionada (C.O.S.A.):

Bulletin from C.O.S.A. in struggle!

We apologize to all who wondered about what was happening due to our lack of communication.

Starting from the point we left on our last communiqué, the judicial process which aims to evict C.O.S.A. [Casa Ocupada de Setúbal Autogestionada], and to which we decided to present our defence, had a Court pre-hearing last April the 28th.

Fully surprising all of those present in the room, the judge came with an already made decision, and considered that after previously analysing the case there was a justification for an immediate eviction order. Due to some procedural errors from the judge, our lawyer successfully managed to block this impulse , and reset a new court hearing, bearing in mind also that, for the first time, both owners and squatters declared the possibility of coming to an agreement. For this agreement we are now waiting a first proposal from their part, what obviously raises among us several doubts and debates on several points of view. Among all the possibilities discussed collectively, and which are still open, the only we refuse is that of accepting a compensation for moving out quickly and quietly.

We still feel that C.O.S.A. is ours. And the consequence of that feeling was the last months that have been lived in the squat. Between the 13th and 17th of February we organized some working days in the Social Centre. During 5 days, friends worked and ate restlessly and managed to achieve even more than had been projected , remaining with a great feeling of happiness for those 5 days of familiarity and fun.

March the 30th we inaugurated “O Covil” (“The Lair”), an infospot where you can also find a Squatting Support Office and since then we have been maintaining the Social Centre open every thursday, which allowed new affinities and the renewing of old ones.

We are still open to proposals and full of ideas for the future, which may be uncertain, but has to be magnificent!

Saúde e Anarquia! (Health and Anarchy!)

[Enough is Enough – 22 May 2017.]

 

Venezuela opposition blasts president's plan to rewrite constitution and delay elections

The Guardian | Protest -

Nicolás Maduro reveals timetable for proposed actions amid months of violent anti-government protest, prompting accusations of autocratic tactics

Venezuelan opposition leaders have reacted with fury to the unveiling of President Nicolás Maduro’s timetable to redraft the country’s constitution and delay regular elections until the end of the year.

Following two months of violent anti-government demonstrations that have led to at least 55 deaths, the president provided new details of the plan on Wednesday and claimed the proposed new constituent assembly would help the country regain peace and pave the way for renewed dialogue.

Related: 'Everything is in chaos': night of violence reveals depths of Venezuela crisis

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Thessaloniki: Call for Solidaity

House Occupation News -

Last summer the Squat Orfanotrofio in Thessaloniki was evicted and demolished by the Greek government. One commerade faces repressions now for the squating alone, standing at court for all of us, on the trial on the 31.05.2017. We call for solidarity.

The story begins with the squatting of the Orfanotrofeio in December 2015. Thousands of migrants have been declared illegal overnight and are stuck on Greek territory. Within a months they were also displaced from Idomeni, an massive self-made and to a great extent self-managed settlement near the border with the Rep of Macedonia. They were moved to isolated camps throughout the country, under the surveillance of the army and the NGOs.

Those of us who had been visiting Idomeni frequently during the summer of 2015 had seen a wall being built in front of our eyes, people practically living in the mud, being beaten up by the police, giving birth in offhand tents, burning anything they could find from the ruble for some heat in the freezing cold, being moved around from town to town and from camp to camp, in buses that would just show up and then disappear, being constantly stopped for pointless checks in the middle of nowhere on their way to the border. If when they made it to the border, they were often pushed back to Athens, where many of them fell into the hands of smugglers and even organ harvesting mafias.

The list gets longer as the plight continues. Migrants are becoming invisible again, while Greece is being transformed from a mere smuggler-State to an NGO/humanitarian fund collector. At the moment, refugees are concentrated in detention camps, prisons and police departments, where they are being murdered, psychologically crushed, and inevitably pushed towards self-abandon or structural illegality, since they have no opportunity to settle, to work, to get some education, to claim their dignity.

Who we are

Within this situation many people chose to act and stand by the migrants. Not our of pity, not for money, just like that. That is who we are. We came together from various parts of the city and of the world, from the social movement of struggles in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, at school and college, on the streets. We had the common need to create a place where locals and migrants could gather and meet, a collective space away from the surveillance and control of NGOs, of the State and its institutions, a space that would encourage equality and self-organization. This space was the abandoned former Orphanage (that had been occupied by the movement before). It was occupied so that it could provide shelter to migrants, people who are being repressed and marginalized simply because they were unlucky enough to be born on the wrong side of the earth, on the wrong side of a hierarchical bipolar value system for which some human lives are superior to others. They were unlucky enough to exist in a world that imposes and reproduces the repressive notion that divides people into privileged and disenfranchised.

What we became

We became an assembly, of privileged locals and europeans as well as migrants, with many different translations and even more languages among us, for a common struggle, not a struggle of representatives.

We squatted the former orphanage ‘Megas Alexandros’ and with our own hands we, (the migrants, the locals, the europeans) created bedrooms for up to 80 people, a kitchen, a pharmacy, a children’s space, a café, a garden. We held regular meetings with lawyers who took care of migrants’ papers, and regularly received food and clothes offered by neighbors (who often participated in the life of the house too). We organized talks and discussions within the house but also at open squares, squats and festivals about the Orfanotrofeio project, as well as about the rights of migrants to free mobility and papers. We organized actions against the evacuation and the demolition of the building, called meetings in front of migrant detention camps demanding their release, demanded free access to work and health services, several groups continued their regular visits to the camps and actively participated at antifascist initiatives. All decisions were made at the weekly assemblies that were translated in languages that covered all participants. We did not discriminate according to religion, country of origin or family status.

Most importantly, we did not and never will accept the distinction between legal and illegal migrants. For us, this squat became our vital space and the first safe place for migrants. It lasted for eight months and it was proof that we can live, work and struggle together.

Repression but not suppression

At the end of July, the police knocked on our door with cranes and bulldozers, arrested whoever they found inside and finally left the contractors finish off the holy business of the church and pulled down the entire building. It is amazing how well the town council, the SyrizANEL government, the police, the university, the mass media and the church can collaborate when it comes to the management and repression of migrans.

We had been threatened from the very beginning by the «charitable» priest mafia. There are reasons. Because the majority of migrants are muslim. Because these migrants were visible, they participated in the everyday life of a lively area, instead of being socially excluded, out of sight, as the State would want them. Because the church wanted the estate without the building for a charitably profitable mega-project of its own.

After years of indifference, the church finally decided to demolish not only a historically significant building but most importantly a project of solidarity, that had managed to live up to the needs of society, against the logic of capital. It demolished a building that had become our home. A lot went down with it: A place for meeting, a place filled with stories and experiences, whole storage rooms with clothes and food, personal belongings. But we will not give up. Some of us continued our journey, some have stayed here looking for a job or preparing their next move. For us, giving up would be denying the urge for freedom.

What has remained

Until today, the estate of the former squatted home at the Orfanotrofeio is full of rubble. There has been no «effective use» or «transformation» the church and authorities were talking about. This proves what we knew already. The evacuation and the speed with which the demolition took place had nothing to do with the need to create an «institution for the common good» and everything to do with wanting to destroy a dangerous project, a community of struggle where locals and migrants lived and acted together.

The situation for migrants has not changed much. People have become accustomed to hearing about the drownings in the Aegean. The majority of refugee children did not start attending school. The camps are being “upgraded” so that they can receive more refugees, away from the city centres, isolated and marginalized. Deportations to the “safe country” of Turkey are going on, following the Greece-Turkey deal.

After the evacuation of the Orfanotrofeio squat we were lead to camps outside the city. We chose to return to the city and unite with other people in the struggle against repression, yet the State is determined to isolate and divide us. People in solidarity in court are facing serious sentences and huge fines. Our unity however is getting stronger, and we will always be together in solidarity and in a quest for a life of dignity and freedom. We share what we have and we struggle together for what we deserve, against the devaluation of our lives and dreams. We might have lost one squat, but above all we confirmed that the State and its lackeys are seriously afraid of self-organization, practical solidarity to the sans papiers, and common struggles of locals and migrants.

COMMUNITIES OF STRUGGLE WITH THE MIGRANTS IN ALL NEIGHBORHOODS
FOR A SOCIETY FREE OF EXPLOITATION, SEPARATION, BORDERS AND STATES
STOP ALL PERSECUTIONS NOW
SOLIDARITY TO OUR COMRADE WHO IS FACING INCARCERATION FOR THE ORFANOTROFEIO SQUAT
Meeting: THESSALONIKI COURT HOUSE, MAY 31, 9am

Former Occupied Home for Migrants ORFANOTROFEIO

https://enoughisenough14.org/2017/05/23/refugeesgr-call-for-solidaity-squatsgr-orfanotrofio-thessaloniki/

Bochum: Cops threaten to evict squat on Herner Str. 131

House Occupation News -

In Bochum, Germany there is a growing solidarity with the people who squatted an empty building in the Herner Str 131. Police authorities are not so amused. They threaten to evict the building. Activists ask people to be ready for eviction alerts. A demo is planned and decentral solidarity actions are appreciated.

On the 19th of May a group of people squatted an empty building at the Herner Str 131 in Bochum, Germany. The cops came to the house but did not interfere. Over the weekend there was a lot of contact with neighbours and supporters. The activists organised a barbeque party in their garden and lots of people came to discuss the occupation. Apart from places to live, the squatters want to establish a social center in the building.

The tenanst association in Bochum published a support message, saying that more than 7000 apartments are still empty in the German city. They continued their message by saying that people with low wages have more and more problems to find an affordable place to live and that half of the refugees are still living in refugee shelters (lager). The tenants association concluded their message by saying that they wish the owner and the police will not evict the squatters and instead should talk with the squatters.

The worker’s council Wi-Med Reinigung (a cleaning service company) published also a solidarity statement, saying that the Hamme district needs a social center for a long time now. They added that other districts in Bochum also need a social center. The worker’s council concluded their solidarity statement saying that they wish the activists courage, confidence, power of endurance and success.

Police authorities are not very happy with the new squat. Police sources told Sat 1 TV that they refrained but don’t want to see the squatters in the building much longer. Sat 1 also interviewed the activists.

When cops will indeed evict the building there will be a demo in Bochum on the day the eviction takes place. This demo will be registered and starts at 06.30pm on “Day X” (eviction day). Follow updates at Twitter. Hashtag is #SquatBo, but you can also follow the Twitter account of the squatters; @SquatBo. Solidarity actions are appreciated.

https://enoughisenough14.org/2017/05/23/cops-threaten-to-evict-squat-in-bochum-germany/

Syrians roll back extremism in Idlib without military intervention

Waging Nonviolence -

by Julia Taleb

Syrian women protesting against the oppressive practices of extremist armed groups in Idlib City. (WNV/Shadi Zidani)

The U.S. airstrikes in response to the chemical weapons attack in Idlib province last month triggered calls for greater outside military force against the Assad regime by some of the Syrian opposition. Yet, in a country exhausted by armed struggle and the presence of extremist groups, local civil initiatives have proven to be more effective at building peace than increased military involvement. In Idlib City, ordinary citizens have shown that they are capable of managing their civil affairs, alleviating suffering at the local level and rolling back extremism by themselves.

On March 3, 2015, an umbrella group of Islamic armed factions called Jeish al-Fateh expelled the Syrian government from Idlib City, sparking an ongoing struggle by citizens and civil resistance groups to gain control of the city’s administration. After it took control of the city, Jeish al-Fateh — which includes Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formally known as al-Nusra Front, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda — formed a Shura Council to manage the city’s military and civil affairs. The armed group appointed its members and loyalists to administer the city without paying attention to qualifications or proper recruitment procedures. A state of repression was imposed, and there were continuous violations of basic human rights and freedoms under the pretext of applying proper Islamic Sharia law.

This brought activists and civil organizations into direct confrontation with the armed group, which assumed the administration of all public services, including education, health, security and justice. In response, residents and civil resistance groups have been working to establish a local council of qualified civilians to prevent military factions from interfering in civil affairs and protect peoples’ rights and freedom.

Residents in Idlib City show their support for the local council and the people of Khan Shaykhoun in April 2017. (WNV/Shadi Zidani)

“We wanted to prove our commitment to our initial goal of revolting against all type of corruption and injustice,” said Sakhr Baath, a lawyer and member of Idlib Youth Group, which was established by activists at the early stages of the Syrian uprising in 2011 to galvanize citizens against the regime and now the inhuman practices of Jeish al-Fateh’s leadership. The group also initiated relief and humanitarian projects, including the rehabilitation of schools and the formation of volunteer teams to direct traffic and crowds. “These activities helped them [the civil organizations] gain a great reputation and the community’s support,” Baath added.

Idlib City was one of the first cities after the uprising began to show open and organized civil resistance, even in the presence of the government. The city’s professionals established the National Opposition for Idlib Intellectuals in August 2011 to find solutions to sectarian divisions that plague Syrian society. According to Baath, the group used to host meetings and invite government figures and supporters to discuss their views with the community. At that time, activists — with the support of Syrian expatriates — began to self-manage areas outside of the government’s control, provide humanitarian assistance, guard the city at night and control traffic.

Established six months after Jeish al-Fateh took control of the city, Al-Idlibi House became the largest civil organization in Idlib, with more than 400 activists and members. They met every Thursday to discuss the city’s affairs and decide on the best tactics to pressure armed factions to hand over civil administration to the community. They organized media campaigns, public demonstrations and sit-ins to demand civil rights and express their opposition to the control of the city by extremist groups.

“We established Al-Idlibi House to unite the voices of the people and have a body to negotiate with the Shura Council on behalf of the community,” said Abd al-Latif Rahabi, the head of Al-Idlibi House management.

The security forces of Jeish al-Fateh worked hard to disperse demonstrations and damage their reputation by calling them secular or anti-Islam. “However, as the number of protesters increased and reached the main squares of the city,” Baath explained, “it was impossible for them [Jeish al-Fateh] to control public frustration or ignore their demands.”

At a demonstration in Idlib City in February 2017, a protester carries a sign that reads, “The revolution is a people’s revolution, not an armed faction revolution.” (WNV/Shadi Zidani)

Women were also active in this struggle and established many groups and humanitarian organizations, including Women’s Fingerprints, Glimmer of Hope, and the Association of Educated Women. These organizations raised awareness of women’s role in building society, and provided educational and vocational courses. They also established orphanages and care centers for people with special needs, and initiated projects involving sewing and producing homemade food for women who could not leave their homes.

Women also challenged female preachers recruited by armed factions to impose strict Sharia law, which prohibits women from walking outside without men or showing their faces. “Last year, when a preacher harassed my cousin for wearing makeup and not covering her face, more than 200 men gathered in less than 20 minutes and began protesting against the preacher and armed factions’ oppression,” said Shadi Zidani, a member of Idlib Local Council. “Repeated incidents like this and women’s resistance have always triggered demonstrations and by the end of last year, we were able to expel all female preachers from the community.”

Female preachers were also reaching out to poor and vulnerable women to convince them to comply with Sharia law. “We formed volunteer groups of female psychologists and sociologists to visit vulnerable women and raise their awareness of basic rights and freedoms to counter the extremists’ views,” Zidani said.

Local civil efforts persisted for about a year and a half, using all possible means and tactics. In August 2016, Al-Idlibi House, with the support of other civil organizations, formed a committee to represent the community in their negotiation with Jeish al-Fateh. “With our continuous pressure, they [Jeish al-Fateh] had to give in to the public’s demand that they elect a local council.”

According to Rahabi, Al-Idlibi House’s committee nominated a group of lawyers and judges to establish rules and regulations to manage the electoral process, protect the right of voters to freely choose their representatives, and ensure candidates’ rights to monitor the election. Al-Idlibi House, with the support of the community’s members, established and equipped an electoral center with ballot boxes and private rooms for those wishing to vote secretly. On January 17, about 900 people voted, including 43 women. Eighty-four people were nominated for 25 spots on the council. All stages of the electoral process on election day were filmed and documented — by the media, community activists, and groups of lawyers and judges — to ensure that the process was legitimate, Zidani said.

Residents vote at the electoral center in Idlib City on January 17, 2017. (WNV/Shadi Zidani)

Those organizing civil activities faced many challenges, including regime airstrikes on the city, continuous fighting between armed factions and regime forces, and pressure from Islamists who tried to disrupt and discredit their efforts. “Despite all of the hardships, we continued with our regular meetings, demonstrations, sit-ins and media campaigns until we got what we wanted,” Zidani said.

Three month after its establishment, the local council is managing most services, including water, electricity, bakeries, civil defense, firefighting, and the directorates of transportation, communications, agriculture and environment. With their vibrant activities, women’s organizations are participating in the council’s activities, voicing their concerns and suggesting solutions.

The tale of civil resistance in Idlib has not ended. “Our next goal is to pressure armed factions to abandon the courts and security services and hand them over to civil entities, along with the rest of the directorates, including the civil and private land registries,” Rahabi said. “We are working on uniting all local groups and organizations under one body to make our voice even stronger.”

While many international organizations and donors refuse to work in places under the control of Islamic armed factions — fearing that funds could end up in the hands of extremists — one of the most important tactics to fight extremism is to support civil organizations and initiatives. As evidenced by these civilian efforts, such initiatives are effective, and they are bringing peaceful and constructive changes into their communities.

CSG's last stand? In Narrabri everyone has a stake in the farming v mining fight

The Guardian | Protest -

In the first of a series of investigations into issues facing regional Australia, we report on how locals in a north-western New South Wales town are bracing to learn the fate of the state’s last coal seam gas project

Country towns are, by their nature, conservative. Change happens slowly and traditions are not discarded easily.

The conservative thinker Edmund Burke wrote that we must act as trustees of the world – what he called “temporary possessors and life renters”, rather than its “entire masters”.

The idea coal seam gas production and agriculture production can coexist is like saying lions and zebras can coexist

Related: There is no gas crisis in Australia, but there is an attack on our natural assets

It drought-proofs the region

The boom-bust cycle can have really big impacts on a community, especially rural communities

We don’t believe we have a monitoring network able to manage any level of impact or predict any level of impact

Related: Santos' coal seam gas jobs claim at odds with original projection

I don't want the town to die

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Human rights activists criticize US praise for lack of Saudi Arabia protests

The Guardian | Protest -

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross suggested no protesters was a sign of Saudi Arabia’s goodwill, but laws there strictly forbid any demonstrations

The US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross’s praise for the lack of protests during Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia has been criticized by civil rights activists who pointed out that protesting in Saudi Arabia is illegal.

Ross travelled with the US president to Saudi Arabia in the first stage of his first international tour since taking office. Speaking with CNBC on Monday morning, Ross said there was “no sign of” protesters and seemed to suggest this was a sign of the country’s goodwill towards the US.

Related: Trump seems to confirm Israel as source of intelligence shared with Russia

Related: Trump's tough talk on extremism weakened by backing for autocracies

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