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Not-So-Plenty O’Fish: Skewed Catch Data May Threaten Global Fish Populations

Revolution News -

Since the mid-’90s, the Food and Agriculture Organization has been reporting a decline in the quantity of ocean fish caught around the world. But a new series of catch reconstructions by Nature.com indicates that we may have grossly underestimated the real values involved—and the impact they have on the health of the ocean and the Read More

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Notre-Dame-des-Landes, France: February 27th – General mobilisation for the abandonment of the airport project – prepare yourselves!

House Occupation News -

The mobilisation in recent days has been tremendous: thanks to the strength of the demonstration on Nantes’ outskirts, but also due to the actions and gatherings multiplying in dozens of other French cities. It’s clear that the anti-airport movement is denser and livelier than ever. This is because it’s become emblematic of so many other struggles against social and environmental destruction, the loss of agricultural land, climate change, the commodification of land and our lives. It’s also because it sprouts the discovery of inhabiting the world in other ways.

However the government confines itself in its deafness. The farmers and inhabitants of the zad are still threatened by eviction. The beginning of the airport project work is still announced in the short term.

The movement therefore calls for the continuation of actions for the coming weeks, and to pay particular attention to the judgement handed down on January 25th.

All components of the struggle also call for a day of massive mobilisation on February 27th. This mobilisation will be under the banner of stopping eviction threats against farmers and inhabitants of the zad, as well as the airport project’s definitive abandonment.

We invite all committees and supporters to very strongly mobilise from now for this date. We appeal for you all to give it the widest possible diffusion starting from today. We invite everyone from the region, from all corners of the hexagon [of France], and beyond, to organise convoys and buses to reach this big mobilisation.

The forms and meet ups for the 27th February will be defined by the movement depending on the context. A more precise call-out will come following the outcome of the trial on January 25th.

Those who cultivate and live on the zad will never leave! There will never be an airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes!

The General Assembly of the movement

Next general assembly of preparation for the February 27th mobilisation: Tuesday 26th January at 8pm, at the Vacherit. Meet up at 7pm to prepare the assembly.

[via Contra Info, translated from zad.nadir.org, January 19th 2016]

Why understanding gut reactions is key to building powerful movements

Waging Nonviolence -

by Brian Martin

The intuitive mind is like an elephant and the rational mind is like its rider. (Wikipedia)

Many protesters are driven by their emotions, including anger at injustice and sympathy for victims of oppression. Acts of resistance, such as by Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama in December 1955, can trigger an outpouring of support. Yet, at other times, people are acquiescent to injustice. What happened to their emotional responses?

Insight into the role of emotions in nonviolent action can be obtained from studies by psychologist Jonathan Haidt and colleagues into “moral foundations.” These are six basic factors that shape human judgments about good and bad: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity. These have great relevance to activists.

Here I will first describe Haidt’s perspective on the operation of the human mind. Then I will examine each of the six moral foundations for relevance to nonviolent action.

Our two minds

Most people think they have a single mind, the one we recognize every day when we think. However, Haidt, like other psychologists, subscribes to the view that humans have two minds. One, the intuitive mind, usually operates without conscious awareness, and is automatic and high-capacity. For example, if you notice a dark moving spot in your visual field, you don’t have time to consciously calculate its speed and direction; instead, you instinctively duck to avoid the rock. The second, higher-order human mind, the rational mind, is slow, careful and requires more effort.

In practice, people often make a decision about right and wrong based on their gut reactions, using the intuitive mind, and then use their rational mind to produce a rationalization for the decision. Haidt developed some ingenious scenarios that would cause perplexity, because people had an intuitive response but no rational justification for it.

Haidt calls the intuitive mind the elephant and the rational mind the rider, sitting on top. The rider imagines it is in control, but actually the elephant usually goes its own way and the rider has no choice in the matter. If you’ve ever had a discussion with someone about whether nonviolent action can be more effective than violence, you may have observed this phenomenon. If the other person is sure violence always triumphs over nonviolence, then it doesn’t matter how many arguments or examples you bring up: They will always dismiss or counter them with some different argument or example. Their intuitive mind is convinced about the superiority of violence, and their rational mind keeps coming up with ways to justify this belief.

The intuitive mind, or the elephant, is also responsible, in many cases, for automatic responses to violence. A protester might want to remain nonviolent, yet when physically attacked be provoked into fighting back. This is the intuitive mind overriding the rational mind. Nonviolence training is an attempt to overcome this automatic response. However, it usually takes weeks or months of changed behavior before the intuitive mind changes its assessment and adopts a new automatic response.

The problem is that the rational mind cannot communicate directly with the intuitive mind: It’s not possible to switch automatic responses overnight. Nevertheless, the intuitive mind can be influenced, but more gradually. If you change your behavior — for example pretending to be outgoing and confident when actually you feel shy and insecure — eventually the intuitive mind will respond to the changed behavior and adopt different automatic responses. It’s like the saying, “fake it until you make it.” This applies to developing a commitment to nonviolence as much as anything else.

The operation of two minds can also be observed in all sorts of public policy debates — for example, over gun laws, drugs, abortion and vaccination. Politicians, like others, have their gut reactions, and can be impervious to arguments and evidence. Their elephant drives their beliefs, and they can come up with all sorts of strange justifications for these beliefs. The rider searches for any justification that sounds halfway plausible and latches onto it. An endless “war on terror” has become an article of faith for many politicians, and it seems nothing can dislodge it.

The two-minds hypothesis is fruitful for understanding how people respond automatically, without careful consideration. The intuitive mind generates a gut response, and the more intelligent a person is, the easier it is to come up with a plausible justification for this gut response.

But what determines a person’s gut response? Haidt says six “moral foundations” influence human judgments about right and wrong. He argues that each moral foundation has an evolutionary rationale, and he and his collaborators have carried out ingenious experiments to show the influence of each moral foundation in people today.

Care

The first moral foundation is care for others; its opposite is harm. In evolutionary terms, care for children was essential for the survival of human groups, and this care response has become generalized so that many people care about strangers and about nature.

The care response is highly important for most people. It can be triggered by images, for example the famous photo of a napalm-burnt child in Vietnam and, more recently, the photo of a dead refugee child on a beach in Turkey. These images of harm create concern. The care response inspires people to protect their own families, but also to help strangers, support welfare policies and join tree-hugging actions.

Haidt calls the moral foundations the “first draft of human nature.” The care response may have some instinctive basis in the human mind, but it can be modified, and often is. Politicians, corporate executives, religious leaders, advertisers, and all sorts of lobbyists and campaigners seek to direct the care response to serve their priorities. Governments raise the alarm about terrorists, invoking the need to protect citizens from harm. On the other hand, governments hide the harm caused by their own terrorist actions, such as invasions, drone strikes and torture. They may condemn the targets of their attacks as terrorists, criminals or aliens, namely as not worthy of being cared for.

Many political struggles thus involve continual attempts to trigger the care response for desired goals and to inhibit it for undesired ones. Nonviolent activists should be aware that in challenging repression and oppression, they can draw on people’s care response, but that their opponents will try to manipulate the care response in different directions.

Fairness

The second moral foundation, fairness, can be seen in children who feel cheated if their siblings receive a larger helping of food or a more desirable gift. Fairness is a powerful motivator in campaigning. The Occupy movement’s slogan “We are the 99 percent” appeals to people’s sense that it is unfair that the richest 1 percent of the population has such a large proportion of total wealth.

Fairness is an extremely potent factor in nonviolent actions. When police beat peaceful protesters, many people see this is unfair: One side is using force whereas the other is not, and this is a violation of a gut sense of justice. When police shoot a defenseless person, they will try to hide their action or denigrate the victims as a threat, and thus reduce or deter the fairness response.

Fairness is the basis of one of the most powerful tools serving nonviolent campaigns: political jiu-jitsu. This occurs when police or troops attack peaceful protesters, generating public outrage and causing an increase in support for the campaigners. This occurred due to beatings of protesters during the salt satyagraha in India in 1930, the massacre of protesters at Sharpeville in South Africa in 1960, and the massacre of protesters in Dili, East Timor in 1991. For these attacks on protesters to backfire on the attackers, many people need to see them as unfair and information about them must be communicated to receptive audiences. The fairness moral foundation helps explain the importance of protesters maintaining nonviolent discipline: If some activists use violence, the encounter seems more like a fight and the fairness response is diluted.

Liberty

The third moral foundation is liberty; its opposite is oppression. According to Haidt, humans have a natural tendency to support liberty and oppose oppression, something vital for most nonviolent campaigns. Indeed, it helps explain why nonviolent action is most commonly used for rather than against greater freedom. However, rulers seek to suppress the liberty response through laws, surveillance and policing. Corporate managers suppress the liberty response among workers through bureaucratic systems of hierarchy and the division of labor. The liberty response can also be channeled into less significant domains: Fashion trends are labeled transgressive and pet products sell themselves as “revolution.”

The three moral foundations of care, fairness and liberty are powerful allies for nonviolent activists. The challenge is to overcome the techniques used to modify and suppress these evolutionarily conditioned responses. However, the next three moral foundations — loyalty, authority, and sanctity — less easily align with activist methods and goals.

Loyalty

Loyalty had survival value in human evolution: In a group of a hundred early humans, disloyalty could threaten the group’s capacity to deal with threats. The loyalty foundation is most natural for small groups in which you know most members. In many contemporary societies, though, extended families are breaking down. Governments attempt to redirect the loyalty response to the nation or state, most obviously through national holidays, remembrances and in war-fighting. This has no evolutionary analog: modern-day loyalty to nation or state involves identification with thousands or millions of people who are strangers except for a label. Yet this abstract loyalty to an imagined community can be manipulated — for example to fight enemies or oppose immigration.

Inside large organizations, loyalty is mobilized by employers to support managerial control. This is especially notable within the military and police, which are defenders of the state and often the immediate antagonists of protesters.

Campaigners often come up against the loyalty response: Governments commonly attempt to paint challengers as disloyal, as traitors and as threats to the social order. A few protesters may embrace this identity, but it makes more sense to try to build loyalty to something different. In a campaigning mode, there is loyalty to other protesters. A few individuals might feel loyalty to abstract concepts like freedom and equality, but for most people loyalty to individuals or groups is more potent. Possibilities include loyalty to the oppressed, to the working class, to the 99 percent, to the global community, to future generations and to nature.

More commonly, campaigners transfer their loyalty to their own leaders, especially charismatic ones. When challenging repressive regimes, loyalty shifts may unseat a ruler but then become the basis for a new repressive ruler. This suggests that finding a suitable recipient for the human loyalty response should be a priority for nonviolent activists.

Authority

The moral foundation called authority can pose a dilemma for activists. Many people automatically defer to authority, whether this is government leaders, corporate executives, church leaders, police officers or family patriarchs. In this context, there can be a gut reaction against challengers to authority, something seen in the antagonistic emotional response to spies, whistleblowers, heretics, and, in patriarchal cultures, outspoken women.

The authority response varies from person to person and situation to situation, but overall can pose a problem for protesters, who inevitably challenge some form of authority: They are seen as subversive. This helps explain why it is easier to gain support to defend, for example against a military coup, than to bring about social change.

One way to counter the authority response is to distinguish between good and bad leaders, so it is seen as legitimate to challenge bad leaders and reasonable to acknowledge good ones. Campaigners point to the corruption, abuse and human rights violations by current rulers, thus weakening the authority response as applied to them. However, there is a risk: Deference to authority may be transferred to new rulers, who in turn become as corrupt and authoritarian as the old ones. Campaigners seeking to unseat a ruler and help transform a society need to find new sources of authority, for example the authority of local community groups. Shared authority is less likely to be oppressive. In families, shared authority is a way for equality between men and women to be compatible with the authority response.

In systems of dispersed authority, such as capitalist markets, in which many members play multiple roles (for example as buyer and seller), the role of the authority response is less clear. The authority in such cases is the system itself: Rules need to be followed. Global justice campaigners, opposed to corporate domination, can tackle particular instances of exploitation — for example, poorly paid work in unsafe conditions — more readily than the market system and its rules. But by the same token, the authority response is probably more powerful when attached to authority figures, such as bosses, than to abstract systems of rules in markets and bureaucratic organizations.

An especially important role for the authority response is within the military and police, who are usually defenders of the existing system of rule and have been trained to obey their commanders. For police and troops, the loyalty and authority responses combine; campaigners against a repressive government, or against an oppressive policy, need to either appeal to the commanders or appeal directly to troops. In either case, in the long run there is the problem that troops will support some new ruler. Perhaps the ultimate solution, for creating a nonviolent world, is dissolving authority systems based around use of violence and replacing them with ones based on participatory alternatives. Much more needs to be done on this.

Sanctity

The final moral foundation is called sanctity; its obverse is degradation. The word “sanctity” has connotations of religion, and certainly religion is tied with this moral foundation, but there are other elements too. Try this: First swallow, then spit into a clean glass and drink your spit. If this seems disgusting, it’s your sanctity response speaking through your gut reaction, because there’s no logical difference between the two actions.

The sanctity response can be triggered by food — there are prohibitions in several religions and cultures — sexual behavior, and a host of religious and political symbols. Manifestations of the sanctity response include the outrage of Muslims over cartoons making fun of Mohammed, of patriots over burning of the flag, and of animal rights activists over factory farming.

Governments and religious leaders, and their followers, foster particular sanctity responses. The U.S. government, for example, tries to make being American something sacred. This effect is so powerful that many U.S. peace activists avoid seeming unpatriotic and claim that they too are pro-American and do not criticize U.S. troops in foreign wars, but only the war-making itself. In the United States, thus, patriotism has become something sacred, and making fun of self-styled patriots can trigger the same sort of rage that occurs elsewhere over making fun of religious prophets.

Rather than buying into government-promoted sanctity responses, activists can develop their own. In some circles, maintaining strict adherence to nonviolence or following formal consensus decision-making procedures rigorously can become new bearers of sanctity responses. Language is another arena in which purity is expected in some groups — for example, avoiding language that is racist, sexist or speciesist.

The questions for nonviolent activists are whether to challenge conventional sanctity responses — like pledging allegiance to a flag — and whether to promote their own new sanctity responses — for example, about the purity of nonviolence. Answers will not be easy but are worth pursuing.

Conclusion

People’s intuitive feelings about right and wrong are powerful influences that affect recruitment into social movements, participation in actions, strategic choices and relationships with each other. Governments and other powerful groups do what they can to shape these intuitive feelings. Activists need to take them into account and work out their approaches.

There are two important lessons from Jonathan Haidt’s research on intuitive moral psychology. The first is that most people are primarily driven by automatic reactions, what Haidt calls the elephant; these reactions are then justified by the rational mind, the rider that usually goes along with the elephant’s preferences. The implication is that activists need to recognize intuitive responses and build campaigns taking them into account.

When planning actions and campaigns, it is worth paying attention to the six moral foundations — care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity — that are the criteria people use to make judgments about right and wrong. However, the application of these foundations is constantly being shaped by “moral entrepreneurs,” including governments, advertisers, media and religious leaders, who seek to mobilize human feelings for their own advantage.

Three of these foundations — care, fairness and liberty — are a natural fit for nonviolent activists, and deserve attention to ensure they are used to maximum effect. Three other foundations — loyalty, authority, and sanctity — are more likely to be obstacles when activists challenge repressive systems. The challenge is to know how to counter the manipulation of these responses to serve oppression and whether it is worth developing alternatives.

Dublin, Ireland: Eviction of Villa Park

House Occupation News -

Monday saw an eviction without court order in Dublin involving Garda and private security / builders at Villa Park, Dublin 7.  The house had been left abandoned for at least two years according to  neighbours before being brought back into use last October by people who needed a home.  One of them told us that it was a “Beautiful house that was to be demolished in order to make a new route to warehouse / bakery behind it but neighbours objected and planning permission was refused.  The person claiming ownership seemed to be very wealthy and is listed as a director of over 28 companies.”

December saw the first attempt to eviction through Garda intimidation but they backed off when they realised residents knew the law and were not going to be scared into leaving.  They returned Monday with the alleged owner but with no legal paperwork (i.e. a court eviction order) and started demolishing the back wall. Then they came to the front and started smashing in the door and windows with a sledgehammer.

There was someone behind the door who was put at risk as the sledgehammer smashed through the door.  The Garda present did not quote any criminal law and had no interest in the fact the alleged owner did not have any court order for eviction.  Their main role on the day was pushing people away as the security smashed the door in.

Once they had gained access they started demolishing the interior of the house and smashed out upstairs windows, in effect making the house inhabitable and exposing it to the elements.

WORDS & VIDEO Editing: Andrew Flood

You can view the videos that were recorded during the eviction at www.youtube.com/user/WSMireland

via Workers Solidarity Movement, click link for interview

Greek farmers protest against austerity – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Greek farmers use tractors to block a main road in Tempe Vale in the agricultural region of Thessaly on Wednesday to protest against draft pension reforms. Unions representing private and public sector workers, lawyers, doctors, farmers and seamen oppose the reforms proposed by Greece’s left-led government

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Study Warns Oceans Plastic to Outweigh Fish by 2050

Revolution News -

by Lauren McCauley – Common Dreams At this rate, plastics production will account for 20 percent of total oil consumption and 15 percent of the global annual carbon budget by 2050. The weight of plastic waste clogging the world’s oceans threatens to exceed all fish by 2050 if the world’s seemingly insatiable appetite for the material continues at Read More

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'We will come to Athens and burn them': political protest returns to Greece

The Guardian | Protest -

Troubled country faces further hardship as public and private sectors take to the streets to protest against impact of austerity

Farmers’ roadblocks, ferries immobilised in ports, pensioners taking to the streets: protest has returned to Greece in what many fear could be the beginning of the crisis-plagued country’s most confrontational winter yet.

From the Greek-Bulgarian frontier to the southern island of Crete, farmers are up in arms over the spectre of more internationally mandated austerity.

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2015 Temperatures Shatter Records for Warmest Year Recorded

Revolution News -

Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been Read More

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Activists deliver plan for just transition to EPA offices nationwide

Waging Nonviolence -

by Kate Aronoff

Activists deliver the Our Power Plan to the EPA’s regional office in San Francisco on January 19. (Facebook/CEJA)

Yesterday, activists at each of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 10 regional offices issued their own corrective on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Days before the end of the federal comment period, the Climate Justice Alliance’s Our Power Campaign — comprised of 41 climate and environmental justice organizations — presented its Our Power Plan, which identifies “clear and specific strategies for implementing the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, in a way that will truly benefit our families’ health and our country’s economy.”

Introduced last summer, the CPP looks to bring down power plants’ carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels within 15 years. The plan was made possible by Massachusetts vs. EPA, a 2007 Supreme Court ruling which mandates that the agency regulate greenhouse gases as it has other toxins and pollutants under the Clean Air Act of 1963. Under the CPP, states are each required to draft their own implementation plans by September of this year, or by 2018 if granted an extension. If they fail to do so, state governments will be placed by default into an interstate carbon trading, or “Cap and Trade,” system to bring down emissions.

Michael Leon Guerrero, the Climate Justice Alliance’s interim coordinator, was in Paris for the most recent round of UN climate talks as part of the It Takes Roots Delegation, which brought together over 100 organizers from North American communities on the frontlines of both climate change and fossil fuel extraction. He sees the Our Power Plan as a logical next step for the group coming out of COP21, especially as the onus for implementing and improving the Paris agreement now falls to individual nations.

“Fundamentally,” he said, “we need to transform our economy and rebuild our communities. We can’t address the climate crisis in a cave without addressing issues of equity.”

The Our Power Plan, or OPP, is intended as a blueprint for governments and EPA administrators to address the needs of frontline communities as they draft their state-level plans over the next several months. (People living within three miles of a coal plant have incomes averaging 15 percent lower than average, and are eight percent more likely to be communities of color.) Included in the OPP are calls to bolster what CJA sees as the CPP’s more promising aspects, like renewable energy provisions, while eliminating proposed programs they see as more harmful. The CPP’s carbon trading scheme, CJA argues, allows polluters to buy “permissions to pollute,” or carbon credits, rather than actually stemming emissions.

The OPP further outlines ways that the EPA can ensure a “just transition” away from fossil fuels, encouraging states to invest in job creation, conduct equity analyses and “work with frontlines communities to develop definitions, indicators, and tracking and response systems that really account for impacts like health, energy use, cost of energy, climate vulnerability [and] cumulative risk.”

Lacking support from Congress, the Obama administration has relied on executive action to push through everything from environmental action to comprehensive immigration reform. The Clean Power Plan was central to the package Obama brought to Paris. Also central to COP21 was U.S. negotiators’ insistence on keeping its results non-binding, citing Republican lawmakers’ unwillingness to pass legislation.

Predictably, the CPP has faced legal challenges from the same forces, who decry the president for having overstepped the bounds of his authority. Republican state governments, utility companies, and fossil fuel industry groups have all filed suit against the CPP, with many asking for expedited hearings. Leading up the anti-CPP charge in Congress has been Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has called the plan a “regulatory assault,” pitting fossil fuel industry workers against the EPA. “Here’s what is lost in this administration’s crusade for ideological purity,” he wrote in a November statement, “the livelihoods of our coal miners and their families.”

Organizers of Tuesday’s actions, however, were quick to point out that the Our Power Plan is aimed at strengthening — not defeating — the CPP as it stands. Denise Abdul-Rahman, of NAACP Indiana, helped organize an OPP delivery at the EPA’s Region 5 headquarters in Chicago, bringing out representatives from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, National People’s Action and National Nurses United.

“We appreciate the integrity of the Clean Power Plan,” she said. “However, we believe it needs to be improved — from eliminating carbon trading to ensuring that there’s equity. We want to improve CPP by adding our voices and our plan, and we encourage the EPA to make it better.” Four of the six states in that region — which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin — are suing the EPA.

Endorsed by the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, Greenpeace and the Center for Popular Democracy, among other organizations, yesterday’s national day of action on the EPA came as new details emerged in Flint, Michigan’s ongoing water crisis — along with calls for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s resignation and arrest. The EPA has also admitted fault for its slow response to Flint residents’ complaints, writing in a statement this week that “necessary [EPA] actions were not taken as quickly as they should have been.”

Abdul-Rahman connected the water crisis with the need for a justly-implemented CPP. “The Flint government let their community down by not protecting our most precious asset, which is water,” she said. “The same is true of air: we need the highest standard of protecting human beings’ air, water, land.”

Anti-slavery activists in Mauritania face violent clampdown, rights groups warn

The Guardian | Protest -

Campaigners say authorities in Mauritania are trying to crush the anti-slavery movement, in a country where 4% of the population are still enslaved

Protestors marking the one-year anniversary of the conviction and imprisonment of Mauritania’s leading anti-slavery activists are facing an increasingly violent clampdown by security forces, according to human rights groups.

Biram Ould Abeid, runner-up in the 2014 presidential elections and head of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA), and his assistant Brahim Bilal Ramdane, were jailed last January with two other activists for belonging to an illegal organisation and for violence against the police.

Related: Mauritania activists jailed as police quash resurgent anti-slavery protests

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Logging protesters first to be charged under Tasmania's anti-protest laws

The Guardian | Protest -

Healthcare workers John Henshaw and Jessica Hoyt among group of protesters who walked on to Forestry Tasmania coup at Lapoinya in state’s north-west

Two healthcare workers protesting against the clearfelling of native forest in Tasmania have become the first people charged under the state’s controversial anti-protest laws.

John Henshaw, 66, and Jessica Hoyt, 35, were in a group of nine protesters who walked on to a Forestry Tasmania coup at Lapoinya, 37km from Burnie in north-west Tasmania, on Monday.

Related: Tasmania to focus anti-protest laws on anti-forestry and mining activists

At #Lapoinya with Barbara, whose daughter Jess was arrested this morning under #politas draconian anti-protest laws pic.twitter.com/mGWoXfdei9

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Heathrow ‘hooligans’ are our modern day freedom fighters | George Monbiot

The Guardian | Protest -

The trial of 13 climate protesters is not really about aviation, it highlights a glaring democratic deficit

They have been reviled as vandals, hooligans and lunatics. But to me, these people are heroes. The 13 women and men on trial this week for cutting through the perimeter fence around Heathrow airport and chaining themselves together on a runway were excoriated by police, passengers and politicians. (One of the defendants in the case is a member of the cooperative society that rents my house.) If convicted, they all face a possible prison sentence. But there are two trials here: the legal proceedings in a local magistrates court, and a test of something much bigger.

Aviation enjoys some astonishing exemptions from the civilising rules that constrain other sectors. Other industries must limit the noise they make; but aircraft, thanks to an obscure clause in the 1949 Civil Aviation Act, are exempt. Other industries pay duty on the fuel they use; but even when air passenger duty is subtracted, aviation’s various tax holidays amount to a subsidy of some £7bn a year, forgone by the Treasury. Some industries must limit the air pollution they produce; but while in principle airports are subject to pollution laws, in practice they have been allowed to breach them routinely for years. (In this case the legal immunity also seems to extend to motor traffic.)

Related: Heathrow airport disrupted as climate activists protest on northern runway

Related: Indonesia is burning. So why is the world looking away? | George Monbiot

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UC Ohio to Pay 4.85M & Tuition for 12 Children for Officers Murder

Revolution News -

The family of Sam Dubose, a Cincinnati man killed by a policeman, will be paid $4.85 million by the university where the officer worked. The University of Cincinnati will also provide tuition-free education for the 12 children of Samuel Dubose, 43, who was shot in the head by Ray Tensing during a traffic stop for Read More

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Run Over Protesters and Get Away With It – St Paul Police

Revolution News -

Protests typically are held in the middle of the road. Deal with it. Minnesota – Sgt. Jeffrey M. Rothecker a St. Paul, Officer has been placed on administrative leave after he posted a statement online, instructing motorists to run over Black Lives Matter “idiots” participating in a march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day The Read More

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Global unemployment to rise by 3.4 million in two years, report says

The Guardian | Protest -

International Labour Organization predicts joblessness will surpass 200 million by end of 2017 for the first time on record

More than 3 million people will become unemployed worldwide in the next two years, making existing jobs vulnerable and fuelling potential social unrest as the global economy slows, a report warns.

The International Labour Organization predicts unemployment will rise by about 2.3 million this year to 199.4 million, and that 1.1 million will be added to the global count in 2017, taking joblessness to more than 200 million for the first time on record.

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How pillows can change the Syrian refugee narrative

Waging Nonviolence -

by Anthony Grimes

At the heart of nonviolent direct action lies the task of reimagining narratives that enable oppression. If they are not challenged and disrupted, the stories we tell can make space for destructive policies and mores.

In less than five years, Syria’s civil war has caused the death and displacement of millions of people, creating a massive global humanitarian crisis. These displaced human beings, most of whom are Muslim, have quickly come to represent the largest refugee population in the world.

If these individuals manage to finally arrive on our U.S. shores — a formidable challenge, given the fact that Middle Eastern refugees are subject to the “strictest form of screening of any class of traveler to the United States before they are allowed to enter” — they are stigmatized, as “terrorists” by many neighbors. From this language is birthed policy to protect “us” instead of policy that resettles “them.” In fact, this language eliminates the possibility of “us” and “them” ever becoming a united we — human beings searching for freedom.

The predominant narrative of otherness, criminality and terrorism allows state and federal refugee resettlement programs to be drastically underfunded, new political roadblocks to be proposed in Congress and state legislatures, and emboldens presidential candidates like Donald Trump to shamelessly promise banning all Muslim immigrants from the United States. This narrative dehumanizes undocumented Central Americans, reducing them from mother, father, sister, neighbor to simply “law-breaker.”

Anthony Grimes holding a pillowcase that he made for the #GiveRefugeesRest campaign. (FOR)

Changing this bellicose narrative was my motivation in developing the #GiveRefugeesRest campaign, which I initiated as the new director of campaigns and strategy for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, or FOR. Our team started imagining a way to reverse the course of a nation that is increasingly hostile toward Muslim people and the idea developed into using pillows to send a message to our government.

Last week, my teammate Gretchen Honnold and her mother, Martha Ridings, sat at their dining table in their North Carolina home, painting #GiveRefugeesRest on 31 pillowcases. They then inserted the pillowcases with accompanying letters into envelopes, and addressed them to the 31 governors who have sought to ban Syrian refugees from their states.

The letters state that we believe their current stance on Syrian refugees is an “egregious decision that contradicts the best spirit of the United States of America, as well as our various faith traditions. We oppose this decision in the strongest possible terms, on both moral and political grounds.”

As part of a broader campaign launched on January 12, the day the 31 envelopes were charted to land in the governors’ mailboxes, the pillowcases are twofold symbols: they are both a wake-up call for political leaders to remember our common humanity, and a demand to provide for the basic needs of displaced and suffering people.

FOR is mobilizing a national network and calling for people of conscience to join in this campaign. We are inviting everyone to join us by sending a pillowcase to a listed governor, particularly of your own state, with a message of your own, as well as the hashtag #GiveRefugeesRest. We are also encouraging participants to take selfies with your pillowcases to post on social media with the same hashtag. In addition, we will be releasing a series of short video commercials over the next month aimed at changing this narrative.

In just the first days of the campaign, this initiative is already proving to be bigger than any one organization — people around the country have expressed interest in participating; we have been told of high school and college groups that plan to participate, of pillowcase-making house parties, and of people who are planning to personally deliver their pillowcases to their state capitals.

“We’re just glad that people are finally doing something about this,” Iman Jodeh, executive director of Meet the Middle East, said to me as we were filming a commercial.

A couple respondents have expressed skepticism, questioning if the campaign is a gimmick. We contend that historically symbolic acts of protest have proven effective.

#GiveRefugeesRest was inspired by a successful FOR campaign in 1954 in which bags of wheat and rice are reported to have changed the course of history. On November 3, 1954, in the midst of a severe famine on the Chinese mainland and a period of intense U.S.-China political tensions, FOR launched the “Food for China” campaign. Members sent small sacks of grain to President Eisenhower’s administration with the message, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him. Send surplus food to China.”

A small bag of food sent to the White House in 1954 as part of FOR’s Food for China campaign. (Snopes.com)

“We now know that the 45,000 bags that were sent, as well as tens of thousands of letters, were mentioned three times in cabinet meetings,” Rev. Kristin Stoneking, FOR’s executive director, recently explained in a statement on this historic moment. “The third time, this grassroots pressure led Eisenhower to veto a proposal to bomb China.”

On February 4, Rev. Stoneking will seek to hand-deliver a pillowcase and letter to the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, along with fellow FOR members and partners in Washington D.C. We are asking concerned citizens everywhere to also hand-deliver your pillowcases to your state capital if possible, and to please take photos and share on social media with the hashtag #GiveRefugeesRest so that we can follow your actions.

Last week in his State of the Union address, President Obama lifted up the first three words of the U.S. Constitution — “We the People” — as a central metaphor for how we understand a “more perfect union” based on trust and mutual respect. But he spoke these words against a backdrop of heightened Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric, with hate crimes against mosques and individuals, as well as broad anti-refugee policy, with nativistic federal legislation accompanied by ICE raids on Central American homes.

In the face of this xenophobic reality, the meaning of #GiveRefugeesRest is to engage a metaphor that allows everyone to express their dreams of a country for, indeed, “all the people” as the president stated. Through symbolism and multimedia, together, we can reimagine a dangerous narrative and prevent the racist policies that too often represent its aftermath.

#GrantsNotDebt: students protest against scrapping of grants – in pictures

The Guardian | Protest -

Thousands of students have protested against the government’s decision to scrap maintenance grants for poorer students. Protesters, who say the plans amount to a ‘direct attack’ on working class young people, gathered outside the House of Commons in Westminster on Tuesday afternoon and also blocked Westminster Bridge. Under the new system, grants worth up to £3,500 will be scrapped and replaced with loans. Labour has said that ditching the grants will dash the ‘hopes and dreams of a generation of strivers’.

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Peru sacks top anti-logging official

The Guardian | Protest -

Dismissal of Rolando Navarro has led to claims he was sacked after pressure from the timber industry

Peru has sacked its top anti-logging official, leading to claims he was dismissed after pressure from the timber trade and drawing criticism from a leading US congressman and environmentalists.

The presidential decision to dismiss Rolando Navarro , the former head of Peru’s forestry and wildlife inspection service OSINFOR was announced in El Peruano, the state-owned gazette. It makes no mention of why Navarro was dismissed.

“Clearly, illegal logging in Peru continues,” Earl Blumenauer , the US Congressman for Oregon who has campaigned to toughen the US’s stance on illegal rainforest logging, told the Guardian.

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Black Lives Matter protesters block bridge on Martin Luther King Jr day – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement block traffic on the westbound span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge as part of a long weekend aimed at reclaiming Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy of radicalism. Cars slow to a stop on the five-lane bridge as passengers in the first line of cars pass chains through their windows and chain themselves to the side of the bridge, bringing all westbound traffic to a stop.

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