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São Paulo (Brazil): Dozens of buildings are squatted against the backdrop of social movement against austerity

House Occupation News -

During the night between Sunday 30 October and Monday 31, dozens of buildings were squatted in São Paulo. The action was coordinated by several homeless movements, including the FLM (Frente de Luta por Moradia) and the MMPT (Movimento de Moradia Para Todos).

Beyond the struggle for housing, the action was also made in solidarity with the current social movement against austerity measures taken by the government.

More than 1200 schools and almost 150 universities are currently occupied by students throughout the whole country against the austerity policy of Michel Temer’s ultra-liberal government. Temer is officially ruling the country since August after a sort of institutional coup which replaced the PT government (Worker’s Party, in power for almost 15 years).

The social movement – which has the slogan « OcupaTudo » («Occupy everything ») – began a few weeks ago in response to a proposal to amend the constitution, in order to freeze government expenditures in public health and education sectors. Here is an excerpt from the communiqué published by the homeless movements after the occupations of the buildings:

“The violence against workers spreads (…). The purpose of PEC 241 (proposal to amend the constitution) is to put an end to pensions, public healthcare, public education  and social support  (…). The economic reality seems to become each day harder, the workers’ hunger and desperation will increase. Homeless people will be directly affected. The apparatus of oppression – security forces, judicial power, mainstream media etc. – is going to act in order to protect property, those who run the state and their economical interests. The only thing that remains for the workers and homeless people is the struggle. The struggle for their rights and for justice. To occupy empty properties and search a shelter for their families (…). While the students are occupying schools and conducting a legitimate struggle for education, we are occupying the empty buildings in order to ensure social justice and conquer our proper accommodation”.

Evictions

Of the nine buildings that were squatted during this night, one of them, in Santa Cecilia neighbourhood, was violently evicted by the Military Police.

Two days afterwards, the FLM tried to occupy another building, in the centre of the city, but the 250 occupiers were soon evicted by the Military Police. They tried to resist and placed some barricades on the neighbouring sidestreets. A few of them were wounded and a journalist was hurt by a close range flash-ball shot. Three persons were arrested.

Sources: PortalFLM, G1, Agência Brasil, Folha de SP.

Angry protests sparked across US by Trump's shock victory

The Guardian | Protest -

Donald Trump’s shock election victory sparked dramatic protests across the US early on Wednesday morning. College students and activists shut down roads, started fires in the street and angrily cried “not my president”.

Related: White, working-class and angry: Ohio's left-behind help Trump to stunning win

Now stopped at Broadway and 8th. pic.twitter.com/zm9UxmW0He

And #Oakland reacts to the election: pic.twitter.com/JqKx662s30

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Californian students protest against Donald Trump – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Students from California’s universities take to the streets on Wednesday to demonstrate against the election of Donald Trump. Students from UC Los Angeles, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley and UC Davis all protested against the new president-elect. In Oakland, demonstrators set fire to bins and dumpsters

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How Uber and Lyft were driven from Austin and replaced with a worker cooperative

Waging Nonviolence -

by Andrew Willis Garcés

Two years ago, what is now the third-largest worker-owned cooperative in the United States couldn’t get more than a dozen people together. That might be hard to believe, because they all have their own transportation. They’re cab drivers.

It was early October, notoriously one of the most uncomfortable times of the year in Austin, Texas, when the temperature often still reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Victory seemed out of reach then for the Taxi Drivers Alliance of Austin, which had convinced about 20 percent of the city’s cab drivers — mostly older immigrant men, from Ghana, Sudan, Jamaica, Pakistan and many other places — to pay annual union membership dues. Because drivers are classified as independent contractors,   taxi unions often have trouble getting traction. But times were especially tough for drivers in Austin, who were having trouble competing with Uber and Lyft — which were operating openly (and illegally) in defiance of local laws — and squeezed by the city’s three cab companies, who charged each driver around $280 per week just for the permission to get behind the wheel, to say nothing of the costs of actually leasing a taxi and putting it on the road. And because of the competition from Uber and Lyft, cab companies were raising their fees on drivers to make up for lost revenue.

The union was scarce on momentum; most meetings were drawing five to 10 people. The slim participation was not for lack of solutions to the many problems confronting drivers. The union’s elected leaders had solid proposals for capping the fees drivers were charged and for cracking down on Uber, whose cars didn’t have to meet the same requirements imposed on taxis, like buying insurance that covered passengers in case of accidents and maintaining wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Scheduling meetings with city council staffers or testifying at the Transportation Commission — a toothless, mostly ignored city agency — hadn’t gotten them results or new members. The union still didn’t even represent a majority of the city’s more than 800 cab drivers after five years in existence. Some drivers had urged them to be more aggressive in confronting cab companies. But many of the officers had been academics or business owners in their home countries; they weren’t comfortable with confrontation, and they had grown accustomed to being ignored.

Growing their base through conflict 

That began to change one day in October when five younger drivers showed up to a union meeting. On their phones they had photos of a notice that had gone out to drivers of the largest cab company notifying them that the terms of their lease agreements would be changing. The company would also be advancing a proposal to the Transportation Commission requiring drivers to let it re-lease their cabs for the hours they weren’t “on duty” — a proposal they called “double-shifting,” but that the drivers dubbed “double profits.”

The young cabbies showed off dozens of WhatsApp text message chains, all of drivers complaining angrily about the latest abuse of the company’s power. The union leaders sympathized; they had seen similar tactics in the past. “Maybe we could circulate a petition,” one offered half-heartedly. But most fell back on their organizing comfort zone. “We could try to schedule a meeting with the company to discuss it with them,” another suggested. The young drivers’ eyes started to glaze over; they knew the company wouldn’t listen. Only one person took a different line. “What if we forced them to back off?” he said. The younger drivers looked up from their phones. “How could we do that?” one asked.

“What if we got a lot of drivers here, to a meeting, then got them to take small actions registering their defiance, like showing up all together to deliver that petition, and demanding a meeting with the company’s general manager — with all 50 of us?” someone said. “If he blows us off, we’ll head to city hall, and we’ll park all of our cabs around city hall, at rush hour. We’ll announce that we’re holding a ‘taxi auction’ to demonstrate how the company can hold us hostage under current laws, and shame the politicians for not doing more to stop them.”

One of the new drivers picked up the action brainstorm, saying: “and if the people at city hall don’t help us, we’ll organize a strike. No one pays the company for two weeks. We’ll occupy the cabs. They don’t have much money in reserve; we’ll hit them where it hurts.”

The others nodded their heads. “I could get 10 more guys to come to a meeting, easy,” one driver said. The union officers signed off on a special meeting, if a little unsure about where it might lead. Only one of the young drivers had been a member of the union at the start of the meeting, but by the end they had all paid their dues.

They scheduled a “crisis” driver meeting for a week later, and spent the coming days handing out flyers at the taxi airport holding lot, sending texts and making calls. Sixty-five people showed up to the next meeting, a new record for the union. Before it started, volunteers worked the crowd, signing up drivers as paid members. In small groups, they talked about the history of abuses by cab companies and discussed an escalation plan: first, dramatize the problem; then, demonstrate their opposition and attempt to negotiate; then escalate to cutting off the driver fees the company needed to operate. But they knew they needed more drivers to really be a threat. At the end of the meeting, each person was asked to pull out their phone and call one driver — and text two more — to invite them to the next meeting, a week later.

The momentum continued to build. Over 120 drivers packed the Texas AFL-CIO auditorium the following week. A guest speaker from a group of immigrant construction workers that had successfully used dramatic direct actions to win wage protections from the city gave a short presentation on their campaign escalation. The drivers were buzzing with energy as they weighed in on the proposed action plan, which would start with a “drive-in” at the next Transportation Board meeting the following Tuesday afternoon to quickly raise public awareness of Yellow Cab’s exploitation. After the meeting many drivers remained in the parking lot debating the merits of the union or whether they could really get the city council to act, and dozens stayed late to color in signs with taglines like “Sharecropping on Wheels” and “Make the Companies Pay.”

Conflict in view and under the surface

By this point, many in the elected union leadership were getting nervous. They were worried about what might happen — would the cab company attack back in a way they couldn’t anticipate? Would they lose their cordial relationships with company staff and city employees? Under the surface, fears brought from many of their home countries simmered. To some, acting out publicly raised the specter of being jailed for dissent. These tensions spilled over into open conflict in leadership meetings; some in leadership were resentful that the new members were asserting themselves so forcefully at all.

The new union activists didn’t feel much loyalty towards elected city officials, and they couldn’t understand why publicizing their grievances would bring them harm. “If anything,” one argued, “aren’t we suffering because we aren’t visible enough? Our problems are easy to ignore if we’re only raising them behind closed doors.” Their willingness to engage in conflict with outside targets, and to hang in with arguments between union leaders, proved decisive in unleashing the taxi union’s power.

By the day of the protest, a few union officers wary of backlash were openly discouraging drivers from participating. But other leaders held them off. They had signed-up a majority of the city’s drivers for the first time — over 400 paid union members — and wanted to use their new power.

The union’s new activists, together with a few elected officers, met at a coffee shop adjacent to the city government building to rehearse their talking points, gather together their signs and practice their chants. Most were nervous. Would their fellow drivers show up for their first public action?

Half an hour before the agreed-to time, drivers began circling the building. By 5:30 p.m., traffic was at a crawl for blocks, with a sea of yellow and blue cabs honking and surrounding the building. A half-dozen TV news crews gathered for the group’s press conference. The activists realized they had a new organizing problem: Convincing the drivers to get out of their cabs. They were having too much fun circling the building, honking and cheering. (They did, eventually, and packed the hearing room, demanding the city address Yellow Cab’s proposed new policies.)

By the end of the week, multiple council members had gone on the record for the first time endorsing the idea of a cap on driver fees. And Yellow Cab announced it was rescinding its new policy and would hold monthly meetings with drivers to hear their concerns.

Not all of the union’s leadership had been won over to the new strategy. But the union now had a permanent “action team” of activists primed for confrontation — what Waging Nonviolence columnist George Lakey would call the group’s “official rebels” — and a much changed political landscape more sensitive to their demands.

A new coop

In early 2016, taxi drivers and their allies convinced the city council to require fingerprinting and background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers — two of the requirements for driving a cab that both companies’ drivers already do in New York. In response, the companies bankrolled a ballot initiative to overturn the city’s new law. They lost the vote in May, prompting both to follow through on their threat to pull out of Austin entirely.

ATX Coop Taxi member and driver Ebrahim Elhadidi standing in front of his car. (WNV/Dave Passmore)

With the two largest ride-sharing companies out of the picture, Austin’s taxi drivers finally had a reason to believe they could fight for a living wage by winning approval for a driver-owned cab company. After months of advocacy, the city council gave them the permission to create ATX Coop Taxi, the city’s fourth cab company. The drivers were ecstatic. After 18 months of organizing, they had driven their most urgent threat out of the city, and won a new way to control their wages and working conditions.

When it opened last month, ATX Coop Taxi — which has already raised over $425,000 in ownership shares from over 360 coop members — became the third-largest worker cooperative in the country. Drivers will see immediate savings. Driving for Austin’s other three cab companies costs the workers from $250 to $315 each week in “terminal fees,” while the coop’s weekly rate is just $131. In their first weeks with cars on the road, the new coop already controls a third of the taxi permits on the market.

“We were paying out more than we could take home. It’s insanity to work 16 hours a day like that,” said Dave Passmore, president of the new coop. “That’s why we’ve been building this, to have a company for the workers.” The drivers expect to reach 400 paid members in the next month, and are allowed to expand to 650 coop owners if they meet conditions set by the city. They are also working on adapting the CABiT app — designed with and for taxi drivers — to better attract local customers.

Although the drivers can share credit for their success with many organizations that helped them along the way, the momentum they built through conflict two years ago was surely a factor. And given that they are likely to be tested again — the city council hasn’t given up on ride-sharing companies that don’t play by the rules — their experience dealing with internal and external conflict will likely help them on the long drive ahead.

Whether Trump or Clinton wins the US election, what follows is up to us | Rebecca Solnit

The Guardian | Protest -

When the polls close, a new battle will begin – to resist a racist climate denier, or to force a centrist Democrat to deliver genuinely progressive change

Presidential elections are a form of madness that comes over us once every four years. They fit the great-man or -woman narrative of history, seducing us into forgetting how powerful we are. They erase our memory of grassroots power, direct democracy and civil society. Leaders beget followers; people pin their hopes on one person, and with that they seem to shed responsibility for anything beyond getting that one person into office. Or, they wash their hands of any further involvement if it’s not their one person.

We forget our own influence, the innumerable times we’ve swayed outcome

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Capitalism, austerity, revolution: why we took part in the Million Mask March

The Guardian | Protest -

Thousands of anti-capitalism and pro-civil liberties protesters took part in a march in central London. We asked them why

Masked anti-capitalism and pro-civil liberties protesters descended on central London on Saturday, Guy Fawkes night, to march near the Houses of Parliament.

Supporters of the Anonymous hacking collective wore Guy Fawkes masks in reference to the cult pro-revolution film V for Vendetta. Young and older people marched together, shouting and holding banners declaring: “Capitalism, monarchy, change, revolution”.

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Ceta isn’t perfect, but Europe’s radical left was wrong to oppose it | Natalie Nougayrède

The Guardian | Protest -

These days some activists seem to get angrier about agreements with friendly countries such as Canada than about mass slaughter

Justin Trudeau’s Canada offers a liberal, progressive face to the world, one that surely should be applauded in an era of rising bigotry and populism. If Donald Trump is elected, European democrats may increasingly turn to Canada as an important interlocutor across the Atlantic. So how is it that the European Union’s trade dealings with Canada ended up becoming such a focus of anger? Surely Canada, with its solid democracy, its tolerance and openness, stands out as a haven of decency. As Canadian trade minister Chrystia Freeland said, Canada is a “country that shares European values”.

Related: The transatlantic trade deal TTIP may be dead, but something even worse is coming | George Monbiot

Ceta has been maligned as a dangerous step towards TTIP, even after that deal was put on hold

Related: There is a vision of what a progressive Britain could be. It’s called Canada | Gaby Hinsliff

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Police and protesters clash in Hong Kong pro-democracy march

The Guardian | Protest -

Thousands take to streets after Beijing announces review of case that could stop two pro-independence MPs taking seats

A pro-democracy march that drew thousands of people in Hong Kong has ended in clashes with police after Beijing announced it was reviewing a case that could see two pro-democracy lawmakers banned from taking their seats in Hong Kong’s parliament.

Recent weeks have seen the semi-autonomous city thrown into a fresh round of political chaos, two years after the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement occupied key roads and thoroughfares with tent protests, as a younger generation of activists faces off against Beijing loyalists.

Related: Hong Kong's 'face of protest' Joshua Wong considers a future away from politics

Related: ‘Independence is not an option’: meet the star of Hong Kong's pro-Beijing party

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'I just wanted to show a sign': protester relives Trump fans' attack at Nevada rally – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Austyn Crites tells how his plan to hold up a protest sign at a Trump rally ended in violence and the involvement of the Secret Service and police in Reno. ‘All of sudden these people next to me are getting violent,’ says the self-proclaimed Republican, who was wrestled and placed in a chokehold on Saturday. ‘I was very happy that the police came,’ he adds.

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Dozens arrested at Million Mask March in central London

The Guardian | Protest -

Thousands take part in annual protest, which largely avoided ugly scenes of previous years

Thousands of masked protesters descended on central London on Saturday night for the Million Mask March, an annual global anti-capitalism and pro-civil liberties demonstration.

Wearing characteristic Guy Fawkes masks, supporters of hacking collective Anonymous crowded into Trafalgar Square with scores of police on hand to keep order. The protest passed off without major incident, though by 10.45pm police had made 47 arrests, the majority for drug offences and obstruction of officers.

Related: Million Mask March: police curb protests amid fears of violence

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Leading authors join protest march against cuts to cultural services

The Guardian | Protest -

Children’s laureate Chris Riddell and major unions rally in Trafalgar Square to oppose closure of libraries, galleries and museums

Authors, librarians and gallery staff joined thousands of campaigners on a protest march against widespread cuts to cultural services.

The children’s laureate, Chris Riddell, and the former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, who has been a vocal critic of government cuts, were among those who massed outside the British Library in London on Saturday before marching to a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Related: Some libraries deserve to close, says 'digital inclusion' charity

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Turkish police disperse protesters with water cannon after journalists’ arrests – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Turkish police use water cannon and teargas against hundreds of protesters in Istanbul on Saturday, to block them from marching to the office of an opposition newspaper where staff had been arrested. The protesters gathered hours after Turkish authorities formally arrested nine staff at the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper

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Turkey arrests nine journalists from opposition newspaper

The Guardian | Protest -

Staff and executives at secularist Cumhuriyet paper accused of helping Kurdish militants and US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gülen

Turkish authorities have formally arrested nine staff members of an opposition newspaper and detained more pro-Kurdish officials, widening an anti-terror probe that has drawn global condemnation.

The arrests, one day after the leaders of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) were jailed pending trial, are likely to further worry President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s western allies.

Related: Turkish journalists face abuse and threats online as trolls step up attacks

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Are you taking part in the Million Mask March? Tell us why

The Guardian | Protest -

Thousands of protesters will gather in cities around the world, in protest against issues such as austerity. If you’re taking part we’d like to hear from you

Thousands of people are expected to take part in protests – known as the Million Mask March – around the world on Saturday, to demonstrate against austerity economics, official corruption, erosion of civil liberties, surveillance and a litany of other causes.

This year, the demonstration is likely to be one of the biggest yet – over 20,000 people have indicated they will attend on the main Facebook event page.

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Million Mask March: police curb protests amid violence fears

The Guardian | Protest -

Conditions imposed by Met under Public Order Act include 9pm curfew and restrictions on assembly in Trafalgar Square

Scotland Yard has imposed stringent restrictions on protesters gathering in Westminster on Saturday for the Million Mask March, after clashes with police, incidents of criminal damage and attempts to invade official buildings at previous years’ events.

The gathering of thousands in central London – in protest at austerity economics, official corruption, erosion of civil liberties, surveillance and a litany of other causes – is held annually on 5 November, a date held symbolic for its connection with the gunpowder plot.

Conditions have been imposed on #MMM2016 in #London - if you are attending familiarise yourself with where & when the event can take place pic.twitter.com/5ZncA1Cont

Conditions imposed ahead of the #MMM2016 #MillionMaskMarch in #London on Saturday. Want to protest peacefully? We want to work with you. pic.twitter.com/RZBzWkWUxY

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New Yorkers #SwipeItForward to protest policing of fare-beating

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

Protesters wait at subway turnstiles to give out free swipes. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

New York City activists had a city-wide day of action on November 2 where they gave away free MetroCard subway swipes to their fellow New Yorkers, as a protest against “Broken Windows” policing of fare-beating, which overwhelmingly affects poor people of color.

“Black and brown people have observed for years that the police department hides in broom closets, behind payphones and columns, to prey on us for fare-beating,” said Shannon Jones of the anti-racism and anti-police brutality group Why Accountability. “We feel that a $100 fine or an arrest for $2.75 is disrespectful and reprehensible, and we have a duty as a people to come up with better solutions.”

This campaign, which used the hashtag #SwipeItForward, seeks to encourage New Yorkers to freely swipe their fellow community members into the subway or onto the bus whenever they can and to create a general culture of resistance against racist policing and the criminalization of poverty.

“We believe that the community is powerful enough to solve their own problems,” said Najieb Isaac of Why Accountability, who participated in the Bronx action. “So when we tell people to swipe it forward, that is us as community members solving our own issues.”

The action was the eighth #SwipeItForward protest to happen in 2016, with the first one taking place back in May. Groups like Why Accountability, the Police Reform Organizing Project and the Coalition To End Broken Windows started the campaign. They were soon joined by other anti-racist and anti-police groups in New York City like Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter’s NYC chapter, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Copwatch Patrol Unit, the Peoples Power Assemblies and the ANSWER coalition. On November 2, this coalition of community groups held the first city-wide #SwipeItForward action with decentralized groups of activists giving away swipes in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Harlem and Union Square in Manhattan.

Anti-racist and anti-police activists protest Broken Windows policing of fare-beating. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

“Today, we kind of created five, separate, independent actions — semi-coordinated, but somewhat autonomous of each other,” said Josmar Trujillo of the Coalition To End Broken Windows, who participated in the Harlem action. “Groups set up their own locations and times based on the neighborhood’s needs and what each group could do. We’ve started to decentralize to where it was a few groups in the beginning who were pushing individual actions, and now we want to really make #SwipeItForward something people can pick up and do on their own. And again, not just activist groups, but everyday people can do it.”

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, the agency in charge of New York City’s public transportation, has raised the price of a single fare three times since 2009, from $2 to now $2.75. The fare is also set to go up to $3 by next year. These hikes disproportionately affect poor people, and as usual, the policing of fare-beating overwhelmingly targets poor people of color. Earlier this year, the Police Reform Organizing Project, or PROP, reviewed data from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services and found that there were over 29,000 fare-beating arrests in 2015, making it the top arrestable offense in the city. People of color made up 92 percent of those arrests as well. In 2016, according to NY1, cops have made almost 21,000 arrests for fare-beating and handed out more than 56,000 summonses. According to PROP research, the city spends around $50 million a year arresting people for simply not being able to afford a $2.75 fare.

In a particularly absurd illustration of how wasteful and racist the policing of fare-beating can be, in June of this year, the New York City Police Department deployed a large, all-night manhunt complete with bloodhounds and helicopters to catch a 16-year-old black child who escaped after being arrested for fare-beating. The activists say that all the money that New York City spends on the police and the criminal justice system would be better spent investing in the needs of marginalized communities.

“This is yet another example of discriminatory policing,” said comedian and activist Elsa Waithe, who participated in the Brooklyn action. “And then once I was educated a little more on the numbers — knowing that all the money we spend to enforce this, to arrest people, to process people and to send them through the system — all that money could be going back into the MTA and into making the trains free and cheap for people.”

The reactions from the community were almost entirely positive, with people cheering and raising their fists in support. They expressed their gratitude that the actions were happening, telling activists about their own experiences with cops on the train and about how they already swipe people in when they can — even offering the activists their own unused MetroCards in order to swipe in more people. The police showed up to the Brooklyn action, as they’ve done at past #SwipeItForward actions, but were unable to do much besides stand and watch. Activists made sure to tell people repeatedly that it is not illegal to swipe in other people for free.

According to Waithe, the police “kept telling us to move to the side, but we had our legal observers, and we had Copwatch. So, whenever the police tried to speak to us, we just told them: ‘Speak to our attorneys or Copwatch.’ This is easy. This is effective. And it’s legal. And this is a way for everyone to be an everyday activist. Swiping someone into the train could prevent them from going to jail today. And that’s just a tiny, little thing you can do to show that black and brown lives matter to you.”

Roger Waters calls on Chemical Brothers to cancel show in Israel

The Guardian | Protest -

Former Pink Floyd man joins campaign alongside Caryl Churchill and Maxine Peake seeking a cultural boycott to promote better treatment of Palestinians

Former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters has joined a campaign calling on the Chemical Brothers to withdraw from a forthcoming show in Tel Aviv. Waters has signed an open letter at artistsforpalestine.org.uk, which tells the dance duo: “Your recording company, Virgin EMI, may tell you that playing Tel Aviv on November 12 is a cool thing to do. But Tel Aviv’s hipster vibe is a bubble on the surface of a very deep security state that drove out half the indigenous Palestinian population in 1948 and has no intention of letting their descendants back in.”

In addition to the letter from Artists for Palestine – also signed by actor Maxine Peake and playwright Caryl Churchill, among others – more than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Chemical Brothers to cancel the gig.

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#NoDAPL supporters fight Facebook surveillance with solidarity check-ins

Waging Nonviolence -

by Sarah Aziza

Last weekend brought unprecedented escalation between law enforcement and demonstrators at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Over 140 protesters were arrested as police used riot gear to disperse the demonstration. On Monday, organizers still reeling from these events received a surge of public solidarity on social media. More than a million online supporters used Facebook to “check in,” registering their location to appear as present at Standing Rock, North Dakota. After publicly checking in to the protest camp, participants followed up with a post — visible to “friends only” — that explained the purpose of the action: to block local law enforcement from using Facebook to locate and monitor protesters.

The trend quickly generated thousands of reposts, drawing the attention of mainstream media and North Dakota law enforcement. Social media and citizen journalism have been pillars of the #NoDAPL movement, but the Morton County Sheriff’s office told Snopes that it was not only “not using Facebook check-ins as a gauge of anything,” but also that “the metric presented no intelligence value to them.” However, Standing Rock organizers have said, “There is no doubt that law enforcement comb social media for incriminating material and monitor communications.” While this allegation is difficult to verify, The Atlantic has reported that North Dakota lists the social media tracking program Geofeedia as one of their IT applications.

Solidarity check-ins have been used similarly in the past, as when Twitter users switched their location to Tehran in an attempt to confuse Iranian authorities cracking down on protesters in 2009. While some have questioned the effectiveness of the tactic, organizers at the Camp of the Sacred Stones have expressed their appreciation for the mass show of solidarity, saying, “The check-in’s have created a huge influx of media attention” and that they “encourage people to come up with creative ways to act in solidarity.”

Meanwhile, beleaguered demonstrators on site in North Dakota are reporting increasing desperation. As demonstrators are returning to the site after Friday’s mass arrests, many organizers are bracing for what they’re calling the “last stand.” After months of nonviolent demonstration, political advocacy, legal battles, prayer camps, and online campaigns, members of the Sacred Stones camp have watched the pipeline continue to encroach on native land. Now, according to organizers, the construction has nearly reached the sacred Missouri River — a red line for many native people. As Sicangu Lakota tribe member and Sacred Stones camp organizer Cheryl Angel told the Guardian, “They’re right there. They have breached our sacred ground. There is no time for waiting any more. It is almost complete. All they need to do is go under that river.”

Given the intensity of the situation, organizers have called on their Facebook supporters to show solidarity in other ways as well, such as through political advocacy and financial support for the protesters’ legal defense, or by showing up in person.

PJ Harvey review – protest songs unleash magnetic, righteous drama

The Guardian | Protest -

O2 Academy Brixton, London
The musician brings her Hope Six Demolition Project on tour to rail against social ills, and confirm her status as a forceful commentator

It’s more than 20 years since the release of PJ Harvey’s first masterpiece, To Bring You My Love, and five since her second, Let England Shake. Few major artists have so profoundly changed their themes between such peaks, and almost none of Harvey’s reach and stature are today attempting what she does: to take on the state of the world.

Perhaps that’s ceased to be a job for pop music, which long ago surrendered any claim to influence how we think about the world, and focused on its principal role of being a diversion from it. But that hasn’t put Harvey off, nor should it have. It’s one hell of a task, mind; one that takes either stupidity or nerve to assign yourself – and Harvey is anything but a fool. Where pop as a whole shrugs, she trains a fierce gaze. If Let England Shake was obliquely a protest album – one that delved into the past to illuminate the present – its contemporary companion piece, and Harvey’s latest, The Hope Six Demolition Project, is overtly so.

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