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'Teflon' Le Pen unshaken as corruption plagues French election

The Guardian | Protest -

Where scandals have wounded François Fillon, accusations slide off Front National candidate without denting her vote

On a busy shopping street in the Paris constituency of the scandal-hit French presidential candidate François Fillon, the word corruption was creeping into the smalltalk.

“All French politicians are corrupt,” said a 52-year-old pharmacist, sighing. “Some scandals come to light, others stay hidden, but 100% of politicians are up to no good – everywhere, not only in France.”

Related: 'Penelopegate' casts dark shadow over Fillon's presidential prospects

What might be accepted 10 years ago is no longer accepted today, because the country is in economic and social crisis

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Carnival gets political as Brazilians use street parties to decry injustice

The Guardian | Protest -

As carnival begins, organisers and revellers are tackling everything from sexism and homophobia to Trump and Rousseff

Brazil’s notoriously bacchanalian carnival is more political than usual this year with organisers and revellers tackling sexism, homophobia, Donald Trump and the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.

The mood was evident at Occupy Carnival and anti-government parades in São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Rio ahead of the world’s biggest street party, which officially starts on Friday.

Related: Setting tails wagging: the costumed pups of the Rio dog carnival

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Inequality is the real backstory to Sweden’s riots

Waging Nonviolence -

by George Lakey

Embed from Getty Images

Mohandas Gandhi famously said that the root of violence is inequality. His view helps us understand what’s behind the headlines about recent rioting in immigrant neighborhoods in Sweden.

No one was killed, although one police officer did actually shoot at a rioter — an exception to Swedish police policy. Over the four nights of rioting in the vicinity of Stockholm, a restaurant was burned down, more than 30 cars were set on fire and police were attacked. Rioters damaged stores, schools, and even an arts and crafts center.

According to the Guardian, the immediate trigger for the riots seems to have been the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby, which evoked accusations of police brutality. However, as I learned while researching my book “Viking Economics,” this is not a complete anomaly for Sweden. Outbreaks of rioting occurred in 2010 and 2013 in the same neighborhoods.

The deeper story teaches something about the interplay of racism — a reality in Sweden — and economic inequality. The intersection of class and race was familiar to Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin and other civil rights leaders in the United States.

Surprising in social democratic Sweden?

Sweden has distinguished itself as the European country that took in the most refugees per capita from war-torn Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Further, it invites immigrants to take advantage of free health care, language and job training, even university education. Mainstream Swedish leadership — cultural and political — continuously speaks out against racism and for generosity and social justice.

What’s changed is that Sweden has been retreating in recent decades from its earlier commitment to economic equality. Although average living standards are still among the highest in Europe — and Sweden has nothing like the U.S. income gap — its economic inequality has grown faster than that of its Nordic cousins.

One symptom of this is high youth unemployment, affecting immigrant communities the worst — almost three times the rate of unemployment for immigrants compared to native Swedes.

Poor compared with what?

Sweden is light years ahead of the United States on immigration policy and equality of opportunity, and the other Nordic countries even more so.  However, a study by Norwegian peace researchers revealed just how relative such assessments are. The researchers found that what counts most is the perspective on the ground — how people compare their own situation and that of people they can see who have it much better. Unemployed immigrant youths in the Stockholm region can see their age peers not far away spending freely. They feel left behind.

Further, they get messages from Swedish racists that their disadvantage is their own fault and that they, as “inferior beings,” are not wanted in Sweden.

Aggravating the situation is social isolation. Camila Salazar, who works for Fryshuset, a Stockholm youth organization, told the Guardian: “For a lot of people who live in segregated areas, the only Swedes they meet are social workers or police officers. It’s amazing how many have never had a Swedish friend.”

Sweden cut back its public spending in recent decades, preventing it from maintaining a cornerstone of social democracy: full employment. Making those cutbacks while cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations was asking for trouble.

Economic inequality incentivizes native Swedes to justify their privilege by expressing racist sentiments, making up false stories like increased crime. (Sweden is still equal enough to have very low crime rates.) For native Swedes who hesitate to express prejudice, politicians will step up to express it for them. The Swedish anti-immigrant party has become third-most popular.

Needed: more, not less, of what works

Racism and anti-immigrant feeling among the Scandinavians is nothing like as strong as in the United States, but both sides of the Atlantic can learn from noticing what works. I’ve seen how poverty in the United States supports the white racist narrative that black and brown people are inferior. Institutionalized scarcity pits people against each other, within racial groups and across them — despite the fact that many roads to advancement depend on cooperation and collaboration. The overall class narrative brands people who are poor as “losers,” which then erodes the confidence of all but the most hardy.

What economists call the Nordic model is the only one with a solid track record for minimizing absolute poverty. A living wage for all is fundamental — in Copenhagen the workers at McDonalds receive $20 per hour. Full employment and wealth redistribution reduce inequality.

As the 2016 vision of the Movement for Black Lives recognizes, the chance to make major progress against racism depends on economic justice. When we build into our campaigns the vision of both racial and economic equality, we know we’re on the right track.

Vision is what the Swedes need to return to. Having made enormous strides by the 1960s and ‘70s, their movement for economic equality went on the defensive, seeking to maintain their gains. “Maintenance” is not, however, a feasible strategy in the unceasing class struggle that goes on in all countries. By the 1980s the Reagan-Thatcher offensive, on behalf of neo-liberalism, was influencing Sweden as well.

Danish workers recognized the neo-liberal threat and in the mid-1980s waged a general strike. Their Swedish cousins needed to accept the inspiration in the neighborhood and re-launch their own nonviolent offensive for more equality, especially in light of the wish to accept more immigrants. I realize, however, that it can be hard to remain ready for battle when your country has already reached “the top of the heap” in terms of achievement of justice.

Getting the top international ratings is not our problem in the United States, as we rate very far below the Nordics on criteria of equality and economic well-being. This is evidenced by the recent news that we are our losing ground on life expectancy. Many of those who voted for Trump know this reality in their bones and diminished circumstances.

The challenge for U.S. activists is that we allow the pretense of democracy to weaken our willingness to do what works — nonviolent direct action campaigns — and up the ante. Simply put, we Americans need to go ahead and wage our nonviolent revolution.

Video of off-duty officer firing gun while manhandling teen sparks protest in LA

The Guardian | Protest -

Hundreds in Anaheim demand arrest of police officer after footage emerged of him firing a handgun during an altercation with a 13-year-old boy

Hundreds of protesters have demanded the arrest of a Los Angeles police officer who was captured on camera firing a handgun during an altercation with a 13-year-old boy and other teenagers.

Demonstrators, including groups of young people with their parents, marched through Anaheim, California, in the early morning hours on Thursday, shutting down traffic along a quarter-mile section of road.

Related: Trump breaks from Obama with crime crackdown and 'blue lives matter' protections

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Edward Barber obituary

The Guardian | Protest -

Photographer best known for his five-year-long project on the British anti-nuclear protest movement of the early 1980s

The British documentary and portrait photographer Edward Barber, who has died aged 67 from pancreatic cancer, was best known for his five-year-long project on the British anti-nuclear protest movement of the early 1980s. This produced a book, Peace Moves: Nuclear Protest in the 1980s (1984) and the accompanying touring exhibition Bomb Disposal: Peace Camps and Direct Action, as well as a 2016 exhibition, Peace Signs, at the Imperial War Museum, London. His black-and-white photographs are a valuable historic record of the mass activism of the time, but they also highlight his mastery of documentary portraiture.

There is an intimacy to Barber’s photos as evinced by his portrait of a lone young woman on Westminster Bridge carrying a branch, or his myriad images of families, teenagers and pensioners with their protest signs. In one memorable shot, he captured two female Greenham Common protesters lying beneath passing city workers during a staged “die-in” outside the London Stock Exchange. By using his formal discipline as a portrait photographer, Barber singled out what he called “iconic individuals in the crowds” and, in doing so, prefigured the anti-Trump protest photographs that proliferate on social media today.

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Bure (France): Protests and attacks against the CIGEO nuclear disposal project

House Occupation News -

On Saturday, February 19, in Bure, in the north-east of France, a demo took place in the forest to support the occupation there and then on to the research lab of the planned nuclear waste disposal facility CIGEO. In the process, the ANDRA (French nuclear waste disposal agency) was pushed back more or less symbolically to a section of its illegally constructed wall in the forest. A small action report.

More than 700 people took part in Bure’s February 2017 events, which in the late afternoon resulted in violent protests and massive attacks against the site of the nuclear waste disposal agency ANDRA.

For over a year, the progress of the nuclear waste disposal project CIGEO has been effectively hampered by the resistance of the anti-nuclear movement in Lorraine. In spite of evictions, wall construction and legal attacks and counter-attacks, the forest occupation in the Bois Lejuc and the protest against the apocalyptic-industry-thousand-century-project also extends beyond the region. So there were more or less symbolic expressions of solidarity in other cities – hundreds came to the action day.

Already on Tuesday and Thursday there were nocturnal actions and attacks on the laboratory and its greenwashing department, resulting in considerable damage to the barriers that had been partially replaced by NATO wire rolls. A large bunch of cops prevented people from reaching the buildings in the afternoon, however, large sections of the remaining fence, reinforcements, dead trees and much more were constructed into barricades during a multi-hour field battle. While the cops were attacking and bombarding the demonstrators with tear gas as well as offensive and / or concussion grenades, numerous demonstrators attacked infrastructure and handlers of the nuclear capital decisively and vehemently for two hours. There were several injuries on both sides and at least three arrests.

There will be further decisive processes in the coming week and this spring. Support the forest occupation, support Bure!

The anti-nuclear struggle in Bure dismantles nuclear companies everywhere!

[Via Linksunten Indymedia, translated by Insurrection News.]

Trump won't watch Oscars, says press secretary Sean Spicer

The Guardian | Protest -

Hollywood’s biggest night – where protests against the president are forecast – clashes with White House Governors Ball, so he won’t be watching on TV. And his voters are poised to switch off too

As Hollywood gears up for the Oscars on Sunday night, where many film-makers are expected to make their feelings known about the current state of American politics, it has emerged that President Trump is not likely to watch the ceremony.

Responding to a question during a press conference about, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump will be otherwise occupied, hosting a function in Washington DC.

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Grace Slick takes fast food company's money to fund causes it opposes

The Guardian | Protest -

Singer let Chick-fil-A use Starship’s hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now so she could give the proceeds to civil rights organisation supporting LGBTQ people

Former Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship singer Grace Slick has revealed that she allowed a fast food chain to use her music in an advertisement, specifically so she could use her payment to fund causes to which the chain’s management is opposed.

Writing in Forbes, Slick said her first reaction when asked if Chick-fil-A could use Starship’s 1987 hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now was “Fuck, no!” She explained that the Georgia-based company’s owners have a Christian philanthropic foundation, WinShape, that opposes same-sex marriage, and that its CEO, Dan T Cathy, “has critiqued gay-rights supporters who ‘have the audacity to define marriage’ and said they are ‘inviting God’s judgment’ upon the nation’”.

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Republican lawmakers face town hall crowds' fury during 'resistance recess'

The Guardian | Protest -

Frustrated constituents make their views known to representatives around the country, focusing anger on Trump’s immigration and healthcare plans

Congresspeople nationwide have been facing angry crowds, protests and tough questions during this week’s congressional recess, a time when senators and representatives often return to their home districts and hold “town hall” events.

Related: Republican Congress members face tide of protest in home districts

The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!

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‘Our challenges are bigger than Mugabe’ — a conversation with Zimbabwe’s ‘protest pastor’ Evan Mawarire

Waging Nonviolence -

by Phil Wilmot

Embed from Getty Images

On April 19, 2016, following a cash shortage and the subsequent economic collapse of Zimbabwe, evangelical pastor Evan Mawarire released a video of himself wrapped in the national flag. He lamented each color’s defiled symbolism and then attributed alternative meanings to them. The video went viral in Zimbabwe, a nation that has been ruled by 92-year-old Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party since its independence in 1980.

Much to Mawarire’s surprise, #ThisFlag erupted into a mass movement, galvanizing not only activists and preexisting movements, but also everyday citizens. Threatened by Mawarire’s skyrocketing influence, the Mugabe regime pushed him into exile. When the “protest pastor” returned to Harare on February 1, he was detained at the airport and charged with subverting a constitutionally elected government, which could result in a 20-year sentence. After another court appearance on Friday, he spoke to me about the spontaneous eruption of the #ThisFlag movement, its structure and the political climate in his homeland.

Today you returned to court facing subversion charges. Tell us what happened.

It was not a very drawn out affair. The state said they were not ready to go on with the case because they were still investigating [the charges]. They asked for a postponement to March 16. My lawyer agreed to the adjournment. However, the state’s affidavit says their investigations will be finished by February 28. So, if they are not ready to argue the case on March 16, my lawyer will ask for my bail conditions to be lifted, enabling me to retrieve my confiscated passport.

Last year you shared a video via social media that went viral and launched the #ThisFlag movement. Did you expect this video to mobilize as broadly as it did?

Not at all. It was a very personal rant, and I meant everything I said. It was the day after Independence Day. I had hoped a couple hundred people in my circle would watch it. I did not expect it to have the reach it did.

This presented me with a lot of challenges, including the response from our government. It was surprising to receive threatening phone calls, harassments and harsh reactions from the state. I got caught up in a fast-moving current and was not prepared the way an activist or politician or member of civil society might be.

Whether you like it or not, many now perceive you as a charismatic leader. In what ways does this aid or weaken the Zimbabwean struggle?

I think charisma is certainly a gift from God, if I indeed have it. I believe ordinary people are becoming more articulate, and this is why #ThisFlag is growing very quickly. I was fortunate enough to strike a chord with the everyday person on the street.

If we depend too heavily on one person who may leave, as in my case, there can be a slowing down [when that person is gone]. A lot of my work upon my return has been to deflect or defer the attention and opportunities.

Share one example of how you have done this.

Part of our communication strategy is #ThisFlag Thursdays. Every Thursday we interview someone in government or public office about what they have done for the country or how they have used the money allocated to them. It is run by a young lady, Fadzai Muhere. I don’t have any hand in it. Originally, I had started the Facebook page and was the one updating it. Now it is in other hands and is managed from multiple locations.

I make no decisions on my own. A team always sits around and deliberates before moving forward with something.

Tell us more about the structure of #ThisFlag. How are decisions made? How is leadership understood?

Our team is made up of people with training in different areas. Some are strong in strategy or mobilizing or social media or administration. These arms work together to create campaigns and rally support and disseminate information. This team determines the direction we take. It is citizen-based, a “popcorn strategy” where any member can spontaneously generate a campaign. Ideas come from the periphery, from the grassroots.

In one example, a young man decided people should gather at a prominent cricket game, wearing flags, to sing the national anthem in unison at a particular point in the competition. Without any single person coordinating this, it happened. For me, that is the success of #ThisFlag.

There are some very confrontational and agitated movements in Zimbabwe, such as #Tajamuka/Sesjikile. What is the relationship between #ThisFlag and such movements? Are you allies or in competition with one another?

We have found many points of convergence. This is because our problems are the same. Methods may be different, but we are speaking to the same challenges. Where one has had a strategy that is working, we have tried to get behind that strategy. Lots of collaboration and sharing of ideas. Right now we have a movement partnering with us to reach out to rural areas. This movement is doing very well, although it is not on social media. It is very committed to nonviolent struggle and engaging local authorities.

Is it necessary to see Mugabe out of power?

Our challenges in Zimbabwe are much bigger than Mugabe. He is a figurehead of a system. I don’t want to take away from the fact that the individual had a role to play in these challenges, but there is a system of corruption and abuse. He could die tomorrow or next week, and then what?

Do you have any personal political ambitions? Would you run for public office?

It is a question I have had to answer now, particularly because in Zimbabwe everyone is asking about the question of leadership. Public office is something I hold in very high regard. I have chosen to keep that door open and to be available for the job of public office.

Does this include Mugabe’s throne?

Yes, it does.

You are a pastor. Many parts of Africa have been led astray by a sort of prosperity and celebrity religion, particularly in charismatic and evangelical communities. What advice do you have for clergy and laypeople like yourself in Africa who feel drawn to work for social justice, but face challenges in acting on these convictions, even from their own religious circles?

I think, for me, the key lies in being somebody who does not play to the choir. You must believe in what you stand for, even if you are the only one standing for it. People saw my courage and commitment to the cause. Even when people look like they are not watching you, they are watching you. If you have a cause, run with it.

In an age of autocracy, meet the dissidents speaking truth to power

The Guardian | Protest -

Strongmen are back in vogue, but these six people are determined to defy the despots

These are trying times. We live in an age of autocracy when strongmen (they are almost always men) abuse their power to silence their critics, use brute force to stop people championing the vulnerable and rob people of their agency in the pursuit of power.

In a world flooded with triumphant nationalist statements and declarations of war, who speaks for the other side? Who is willing to risk solitary confinement and be torn from loved ones to speak for the voiceless?

#elsexto dibujos de Valle Grande,Combinado del Este.Cuba.

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London: Belgravia squatters occupy third mansion

House Occupation News -

Squatting collective the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians (ANAL) continue to underline exactly how much high-end housing is lying empty while homeless people sleep on the rain-soaked concrete, having spent last night moving into another mansion.
The group wrote: “Facing a police enforced eviction at 4 Grovesnor Gardens, ANAL have decided to relocate AS CLOSE TO THE QUEENS BEDROOM as possible…. Overlooking Wellington barracks, introducing our new squat, 19 Buckingham Gate.”
19 Buckingham Gate, which is just yards away from Buckingham Palace’s gardens, is the third property in a row to have been taken on by the collective, which took over 108 Easton Square in January (where they fended off fascist attackers) and 4 Grosvenor Gardens in February.
The overall site, 18-19 Buckingham Gate, is currently being given a slightly gaudy-looking makeover by developer Simpson Haugh and Partners, with a view to turning it into 14 luxury apartments for the sort of people who can afford to pay (if it’s anything like the neighbours’ place) £2.5 million a pop for the chance to get a good view of the royal behind.
The developer lists the owner as “private,” however if it’s not “18-19 Buckingham Gate Investment Ltd” then coincidences abound.
If ANAL keep up their current rate of mansion occupations they could have collectively squatted in properties worth well over £100m by the end of the year.
The group put out an ask for materials on their Facebook page earlier this month, which will likely hold true for their new place, to help fix everything up. The camper van might be a bit optimistic, but don’t ask, don’t get…


After April’s March for Science, what should come next for anti-Trump scientists?

The Guardian | Protest -

If scientists want to effectively counter the Trump administration, they should expand their political toolkits. They need clever use of counter-propaganda, evidence-based alternative policies and political representation.

It would surprise very few if surveys revealed that the vast majority of scientists and academics find the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump abhorrent. After all, the scientific community shares values that are clearly not held by the Trump Administration and its supporters: among them, the importance of diversity and the crucial role of evidence in the process of making smart decisions.

What has been surprising is that the scientific community has not fully upheld these values in their initial responses in opposition to the Trump Administration’s words and deeds over its first month in office. We need to up our game. We need more diverse ideas, more critical debate and more effective actions backed by evidence of what works.

Because the ascendency of Trump is itself a symbol of the status of the cultural groups that propelled him to the White House, any attack on him for lying is likely to invest his position with the form of symbolic significance that generates identity-protective cognition: the fight communicates a social meaning—this is what our group believes, and that what our enemies believe—that drowns out the facts.

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Should critics of Moonlight be hounded for having an opinion? | Catherine Shoard

The Guardian | Protest -

Camilla Long’s take on the Oscar-nominated film led to an onslaught – but the invective of her attackers has removed their right to the moral high ground

The widely acclaimed movie Moonlight is in the running for eight awards at this weekend’s Oscars. But not everyone is a fan. The Times critic Camilla Long thought Barry Jenkins’ drama about a black, gay drug dealer growing up in Miami was made for a “non-black, non-gay, non-working class, chin-stroking, self-regarding, turbo smug audience”. She confessed that as a white, middle-class, straight woman whose job didn’t involve trading crack, she found it hard to relate.

Twitter turned on Long. Her review of Moonlight wasn’t just wrong – it was racist. Not to mention snide, snooty and a teeny bit sociopathic. Righteousness rained down, a hailstorm of horror on a tide of piety.

Related: Moonlight is a powerful affirmation for gay black men: we’re supposed to exist | Josh Lee

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Zaandam: Swimming pool resquatted

House Occupation News -

Today (20/2/17) we liberated an old Swimming Pool! The pool has been squatted before for 10 years after being empty for 7 years, in 2012 it got evicted to build a “Paramedical centre”. This never got build because the owner [J. H. Bakker] went partly bankrupt in 2014, its been empty since then. More pictures below. Source

Taking Up Space

House Occupation News -

TAKING UP SPACE – Zine Callout
DEADLINE – Wednesday 15th March 2017

This is a callout for submissions relating to the theme of ‘space’ or ‘taking up space’. The subject is flexible and could relate to autonomous spaces, gentrification, gender, bodies, identity, performance, squats, incarceration or mental health.

At the beginning of 2016 I released a zine called ‘Give Me Space’ that served as a kind of tour diary of my six weeks of gigs across Europe. The zine focused on the great autonomous, DIY and punk spaces I played at on my journey; and the important part they play in hosting activist and alternative scenes.

TAKING UP SPACE is the next step – a contributor-based zine that issues a strong refusal to back down to the commodification and repression of our spaces. The theme is open to interpretation, please e-mail your contributions, or ideas to: recordiauafiach [at] gmail [dot] com

London: SLAP! #5

House Occupation News -

Heads-up for the long-awaited Issue 5 of your friendly, local squatters’ paper.

SLAP! is a squatter’s freesheet first printed in early 2016. After a quick half-year of squat-hopping, sitting around and organising elsewhere, some of us involved in the previous four issues teamed up with others and knocked-together a fifth. SLAP! is back to support the flow of counter-info between London squats and act as a semi-regular message-board for squat happenings, updates and unapologetic ideas.

As with past issues, no.5 couldn’t have worked without contributions from a broad mix of London squats. For the sixth (and hopefully issues after), we’ll take resistance write-ups; international updates; graphics; upcoming squat happenings or callouts for action; legal and practical info and shortcuts; offers of translation into different languages; details and photos of scumbag owners, bailiffs or private security; tales from squatting’s past and comments on wherever it’s heading; or anything else (produced by and for London squatters) you want to see in SLAP!.

(Please don’t send us anything that supports property guardianship or owner-friendly squatting; promotes cooperation with bailiffs, the police, fascists or other agents of control and social oppression; reproduces self-congratulatory lifestylism or the macho culture of “professional squatting”; or would incriminate or endanger yourselves, your squat or others.)


SLAP! Issue 5 PDF

Previous issues on the books page

Strikes were a part of Women's Day before. With Trump, they will be again | Cinzia Arruzza and Tithi Bhattacharya

The Guardian | Protest -

As progress is being rapidly rolled back, we need a feminism of the 99% to take action. That’s why women in 30 countries are taking to the streets on 8 March

It is time to re-politicize Women’s Day. It has often been celebrated with brunches, flowers and Hallmark cards. But in the age of Trump, we need a feminism of the 99% to take action. That is why we are inviting women across the world to join us in an international day of strikes on 8 March.

The immense women’s marches of 21 January and their resonance across the country demonstrated that millions of women in the United States are finally fed up not only with the blatant misogyny of the Trump’s administration, but also with decades of continuous attacks on women’s lives and bodies.

Related: Women of America: we're going on strike. Join us so Trump will see our power

Related: Forget protest. Trump's actions warrant a general national strike | Francine Prose

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