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53 on Trial in Spain for Occupying ”Utopia”

House Occupation News -


53 PEOPLE on trial for OCCUPATION original en castellano abajo  Sign the Petition HERE

On Friday September 4th the first two trials take place, the first of 53 of which are due against people who lived in Utopia occupied in Seville in May 2012 by families who were homeless or about to lose  their homes. by Gladys Martinez Lopez

Max and Jesus will go to the criminal courts in Seville accused of squatting (illegal in Spain under the term ‘usurpation’) in May 2012 a building of Ibercaja Bank that had remained empty for two years . More than 30 families, many of them homeless or about to lose by failing to pay the mortgage, were rehoused in the building, which they called Corrala Utopia, and many continued giving the place life until it was exicted in April 2014…..

read on here + en castellano:

Barrett Brown vs. the Dept of Justice – Defining the Right To Link

Revolution News -

by Douglas Lucas At a time when a new megaleak seems to hit the Internet every week, the imprisonment of journalist Barrett Brown is causing many to ask if it is legally safe to share hyperlinks to leaked document troves containing credit card or personal identifying information—the kind of content the Dallas native is locked up in Read More

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Rival movements duel over the future of Brazil

Waging Nonviolence -

by Marianna Olinger

Women at the fifth annual Margarida’s march in Brazil on August 13. (WNV/Mídia NINJA)

In recent weeks, the mainstream media has forwarded a narrative that the political crisis in Brazil is a result of internal corruption and the lack of economic growth over the last year, which is blamed on the Workers’ Party. The corruption charges have been fueled by an investigation — known as Lava Jato, or Car Wash — in which a number of directors of the state-owned oil company Petrobras are accused of taking bribes from construction companies and funneling funds to parties of the ruling coalition. What is rarely mentioned though, is that Brazil is experiencing, once again, a historical divide. Part of the population wants to turn left and another right.

The complex situation is much more ideological than most commentators acknowledge. Some believe President Dilma Rousseff and the Workers’ Party haven’t been following the dictates of neoliberalism closely enough, while others argue the opposite — that corporations have far too much power.

The latest Brazilian presidential elections took place on October 2014. President Rousseff was re-elected in a second-round runoff against her contender Aécio Neves — leader of PSDB, the party of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. It originated as a social democratic left-leaning party, but grew to be one of the main representatives of the bank lobby and Washington Consensus-like policies in the country. The election was a narrow victory for Rousseff, and some argue that she would not have been re-elected if social movements on the left had not turned out to support her at the last minute — as they did — when faced with the possibility of having neoliberals back in charge.

While social movements were successful in helping to re-elect President Rousseff, the results of the congressional elections were a disaster for those fighting for social justice. Brazil elected the most conservative pro-corporate Congress since the end of the military dictatorship in the early 1980s. In its first six months the ultra-conservative lower house has voted against ending corporate funding in political campaigns, and in favor of increasing outsourcing, lowering the criminal age from 18 to 16 years-old, and finally, on August 12, an anti-terrorism law that opens the road to the further criminalization of social movements. And they are not finished: Two bills that social movements struggled for years to get passed — regarding net neutrality and limiting the sale and use of firearms by civilians — are next in line for review in the legislature.

The situation is not simple. If the Workers’ Party governments have been responsible for major progress related to social justice since former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s first mandate started in 2002, they have also followed neoliberal prescriptions on economic and financial matters. Social movements are not particularly pleased that corporate profits are skyrocketing while many people still struggle for food, basic education, housing, transportation and health. In addition, conflicts over land, which disproportionately victimize the most vulnerable — poor, black and indigenous populations — both in rural and urban areas are intensifying.

An ideological face-off

There are plenty of reasons for Brazilians to be discontent with the current state of affairs. Both right-leaning and left-leaning groups have taken their claims to the streets. The left in Brazil — as in most parts of the world — is diverse, fragmented and, more often than not, in disagreement on tactics and strategies. Organized social movements — including unions, students and the landless and homeless workers — have been protesting non-stop since June 2013, when the free transportation protests led millions to the streets. These predominantly red-colored marches draw less attention from the mainstream media. Although not necessarily pro-government, they are certainly against the impeachment process being called for by the conservative and corporate-friendly opposition.

Despite not always agreeing on how to position themselves in relation to the president or the ruling coalition, movements tend to agree on matters of social justice, the need for a better wealth distribution, agrarian reform, demilitarization of the police, democratization of the media, and ending corporate financing of political campaigns — which would arguably turn the country more to the left. Needless to say, private owned banks and most multinational corporations are not supportive of such a turn.

A pro-impeachment march in São Paulo on August 15. (WNV/Mídia NINJA)

On the other side, the pro-impeachment protests, which often call for the return of military rule, have drawn attention for their nationalistic use of the colors of Brazil’s green and yellow flag and how its militants wear the national soccer team’s T-shirts. These events have been led by right-wing ultra-conservative groups, although there are anti-government groups that would not fit this description. The protests seem to be a response to the growth of left-leaning social movements in the streets and policies that directly target those most in need.

If the numbers and frequency of the actions are carefully analyzed, it is difficult to say whether the red protests are smaller or larger than their green and yellow counterparts. In terms of the socio-economic profile of participants, those at the anti-government protests are predominantly white, and middle or upper-middle class, while the anti-impeachment and pro-social justice protests tend to be predominantly working class, with many black, mixed race and indigenous participants. Perhaps coincidentally, the protests seem to be echoing the tight results of the last national elections. Some of the key points disputed in the elections are once again being debated.

What the national and international mainstream coverage has failed to acknowledge is that the pro-impeachment marches too often resemble pro-fascist, dictatorial demonstrations in how often they praise racist, misogynist, aggressive speeches. The number of people calling for a military coup is downplayed even though the most prominent groups leading these marches openly defend such an approach. Some of them have liaised closely with the National Rifle Association in the United States in their crusade to increase militarization and the use of firearms among civilians in Brazil.

At a pro-impeachment march in São Paulo on March 15 a man holds a sign that says: “I’d rather clean toilets than sell myself for the misery allowance,” referring to Bolsa Família, the government’s basic income program. (Flickr/Alice Vergueiro)

Brazil has been recognized internationally for its conditional cash transfer program — the Workers’ Party main accomplishment since 2002 — which has taken over 20 million people out of extreme poverty since its inception. Regardless of this fact, there is a widespread view among the middle and upper-middle classes that the program is a populist attempt to guarantee that the Workers’ Party stays in power. For the most conservative sectors of society, who have found a space to voice their concerns in the green and yellow marches, the Workers’ Party destroyed the country by giving easy money to the lazy poor and flooded Brazil with corruption, as some of the signs at their marches illustrate.

They also often argue that “good criminals are the ones who are dead” and that the number of police — who are shamefully known as some of the most violent in the world, responsible for thousands of killings every year — should be increased to protect “good citizens.” Signs warning against the “communist threat” can be regularly found at the pro-impeachment demonstrations. Other racist, misogynistic and fascist slogans are also repeatedly seen in the marches described by the Guardian as “good-humored” family events. The New York Times coverage of the same “carnivalesque” march acknowledged the violent speeches — that included a call for the president to “kill herself” and the return of military rule — but portrayed such speeches as the exception.

Hope but no guarantee

On August 13, a few days before the two most recent national demonstrations for and against impeachment, 100,000 peasant women with the National Coalition of the Agriculture Workers and 12 other partner movements organized their fifth annual demonstration in Brasília with no coverage in the mainstream media. During the event — called “Margarida’s march” as a tribute to Margarida Maria Alves, a former union activist murdered in 1983 by a land owner in the northern region of the country — social movements stated their support for President Rousseff and the Workers’ Party, while pushing for their own agenda.

The Margaridas march approaches the Congress in Brasilia on August 13. (WNV/Mídia NINJA)

Human rights activists have been particularly scared of the conservative wave in the Congress, which — fueled by the weapons and private security lobbies — have been working hard to guarantee their agenda gets priority in the government. Social movements and activists have been searching constantly for more creative ways of engaging the population by building narratives that point to possible ways out of the current crisis, calling for a culture of solidarity and collective support. Arts and culture festivals have also been organized by social movements that have brought out tens of thousands in cities all over the country as well in recent weeks, with little or no coverage from the mainstream media in the country.

On August 13, for the first time since President Rousseff began her second term in office, she had an open meeting with the leadership of various social movements. The meeting was part of an effort to broaden the dialogue with social movements, which have voiced dissatisfaction with the lack of communication with the president. The movements want the agenda that was promised to them during her campaign. “It was that agenda that we elected,” said Alexandre Conceição, one of the coordinators of the Landless Workers Movement as he addressed the president during the meeting. “The current adjustment policies that have been put forward by your government are not what we voted for. This economic program is neoliberal.”

Vagner Freitas, the president of the Coalition of the Workers Unions, or CUT, the largest confederation of unions in the country, was emphatic that the only way the economy will recover is by broadening social welfare. “Fiscal adjustment should reduce taxation of the poor and increases it on the wealthiest,” he said, when he addressed the president. “The people in this room are the ones who have the power to transform this country; it is not the market that is going to guarantee governability.”

Flags of the Workers Unions Coalition, or CUT, wave in the crowd as a spokesperson for the Landless Workers Movement’s youth faction, Levante Popular, speaks in Rio de Janeiro’s anti-impeachment march on August 20. (WNV/ Mídia NINJA)

The president of the National Students Coalition, or UNE, Carina Vitral, voiced the movements’ concern with the recently approved anti-terrorism law, that — among other things — legalizes incarcerating people for “blocking traffic” in the streets. Eleonice Sacramento, a representative of the National Coalition of Artisanal Fisherwomen spoke up for the protection of traditional communities, including indigenous groups, and their territories, knowledge and culture. They have been increasingly targeted by the agribusiness and mining industries, resulting in a significant increase in conflicts over land in northern Brazil.

“The people who are asking for impeachment do not represent the Brazilian people,” said Guilherme Boulos, the coordinator of the Homeless Workers Movement, which has been responsible for some of the largest protests since 2013 and relies on organized occupations of vacant land and buildings in urban areas. “The poor won’t pay for the economic crisis.” He went on to call for the taxation of the 1 percent and warned President Rousseff that the only way out of the crisis is “through the left.”

What’s next?

On August 20, as a response to the pro-impeachment protests, over two dozen social movements took to the streets again. The march organizers estimated that more than 100,000 people participated in demonstrations in a dozen cities. São Paulo saw the largest demonstration, with approximately 60,000 people in the streets. In contrast to the Margarida’s march the week before, these actions were not unified around the president. Even the UNE, which is often accused of blindly defending the Workers’ Party government, spoke out. “We came here to say that this government needs to be more connected to the people and we do not agree with the adjustments that resulted in cuts to the education budget,” Vitral noted in her speech during the protest.

In addition to the larger movements that led these demonstrations, smaller community groups joined the marches. In São Paulo a group from Osasco staged a performance calling attention to persistent police violence, which left 18 people dead on August 13 in another massacre carried out by police officers on the outskirts of the state capital.

Protesters carry signs in homage of the people killed in the massacre led by police officers in São Paulo’s march anti-impeachment on August 20. (WNV/ Midia NINJA)

Adriana Magalhães, press spokesperson for CUT in São Paulo, described the organizing of the demonstrations on August 20 as an exercise to find unity among groups with different perspectives in an interview with the recently created independent journalists network Jornalistas Livres. “What unites us is the idea that another economic policy is possible, one that does not negatively impact the workers, as do the adjustment policies proposed by Minister Levy,” she explained. Levy, who is the current finance minister, was the president of the second largest private bank in Brazil before he joined the government, and had been the target of social movements.

While the claims of corruption coming from the Lava Jato investigation continue to dominate the mainstream media, it is unlikely that they will lead to the president’s impeachment given that 28 out of the 32 political parties in Brazil received funds from corporations accused of corruption in the case, including the main opposition parties on the right.

The big question for the left at this point is how to unite around a democratic project that is oriented toward social justice and reasonable distribution of wealth in a country that is divided by prejudice, elitism and racism — in addition to facing systemic corruption fueled by private corporations’ interests.

A National Peoples Conference, called by social movements, parties and independent activists from the left, will take place in Belo Horizonte on September 5. The conference is meant to be the national launching of a left front to build a positive agenda to counteract the right-wing movements, according to a press release announcing the event.

The reality is that no one seems to have the answer. While artists, activists and other progressives keep searching for creative ways to solve the current puzzle, the quasi-schizophrenic nature of the current government coalition — which claims to govern for the less privileged, but continues to facilitate unprecedented profits for banks and other corporate powers — is not making this an easy task.

As the world is witnessing, there are a lot of people in the streets in Brazil right now, but there is no unity around what they want. If Rousseff does not seriously commit to the left — which guaranteed her reelection — she will ultimately become more vulnerable to impeachment maneuvers in the most conservative Congress in Brazil’s recent history.

Heartbreaking Images of Drowned Refugee Boy Requires Humanity Take Action

Revolution News -

A young Syrian refugee boy found lying face-down on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum was one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach Greece These heartbreaking pictures of the tiny body of a refugee boy who died alongside his brother on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean today highlight the Read More

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Emma Thompson joins protest at Shell’s London HQ – video

The Guardian | Protest -

A polar-bear puppet the size of a double-decker bus descends on Shell’s headquarters on London’s Southbank on Tuesday. Actor Emma Thompson is among 64 activists and puppeteers who manoeuvred the bear to stand close to Shell’s front entrance. Protesters want the polar bear to remain there until Shell’s Arctic drilling window ends later this month. Six protesters are inside the bear, chained to it so it cannot be removed

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Emma Thompson joins giant polar bear at Greenpeace protest outside Shell HQ

The Guardian | Protest -

Actor campaigns against the ‘selfishness and greed’ of Shell’s bid for Arctic oil as part of a week-long demonstration in London

A bus-sized polar bear and Emma Thompson have joined a week-long protest against Arctic drilling at Shell’s headquarters in London.

The British actor visited the Arctic last year and said that she had got out of bed at 4am on Wednesday to take part in the protest because of the risk of climate change to her grandchildren and the threat posed to the polar region’s fragile environment by drilling.

Related: I’ve been dismissed as a silly girl and an activist for hire, but it won’t stop me fighting for the Arctic | Charlotte Church

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Gaza Could Become Uninhabitable in Less than Five Years

Revolution News -

Gaza could become uninhabitable in less than five years in wake of 2014 conflict and ongoing de-development, according to new UNCTAD report UNCTAD’s report on assistance to the Palestinian people states that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current economic trends persist. In addition to eight years of economic blockade, in the past six Read More

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Far-right United Patriots Front threatens to return to Bendigo in Facebook video

The Guardian | Protest -

The anti-Islam group says it will carry on its protest against the construction of the Victorian city’s first mosque

The far-right group United Patriots Front will return to Bendigo, Victoria, in three weeks, the group’s leader, Sherman Burgess, has threatened.

About 300 protesters took over central Bendigo last Saturday, lashing out against a legal decision by the Victorian civil and administrative tribunal to approve construction of Bendigo’s first mosque.

Related: Fights break out as rival protests clash over Bendigo mosque

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Train of Hope: Refugees Welcomed in Austria & Germany, Delayed in Hungary

Revolution News -

Refugees escaping war and violence in the Middle East who make it to Europe still endure a journey fraught with danger and inhumane treatment. Tens of thousands of people greeted refugees with open arms as they passed through Austria en route to their final destinations in Germany where they are being welcomed in large numbers. Read More

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Neo-Nazis Urinate on Refugee Children in Berlin Train

Revolution News -

Originally posted at The Two neo-Nazis racially abused a woman and her two children on a Berlin city train before urinating on them, police said on Monday Aug, 25th. The woman and her two children – aged around five and 15 – were travelling on the city’s ring line at around 9:45pm on Saturday Read More

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20,000 march in Vienna to welcome refugees – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Around 20,000 people marched through Vienna on Monday to show their support for the increasing numbers of people arriving in Austria. Holding up large banners reading ‘Refugees welcome’ and ‘No person is illegal’, demonstrators of all ages rallied at the city’s Westbahnhof railway station. The march took place as a service was held at the city’s cathedral to remember the 71 people who were found dead in an abandoned truck last week

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Massive Right to Water Protest in Dublin as Political Policing of Activists Continues

Revolution News -

Over 100,000 Irish Water protesters turned up on Saturday for another massive show of opposition towards the unfair second tax on the nation’s water supply. The high numbers were a definite message to the unpopular Fine Gael and Labour government. The movement which is made up of many parts, will not be going anywhere until Read More

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Vienna stages protest welcoming refugees

The Guardian | Protest -

Demonstrators carry banners saying: ‘I don’t want Europe to be a mass grave’

About 20,000 people took to the streets of Vienna on Monday to demonstrate against ill-treatment of refugees, police said, after the bodies of 71 people were found in an abandoned truck last week.

Related: Austria defends border checks amid migration crisis

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Amsterdam: De Overval lost the court case. OverVal Block Party, September 14th

House Occupation News -

Long story made short. De overval, Prins Hendrikkade 138, is getting evicted on 14th of september because the owner is an asshole and because Amsterdam licks the ass to speculants, mafia and tourists. Their plan is to destroy living spaces and our social centre and to make yet another hotel.
Come on the 14th of september, From 8AM, to show your support and solidarity, and to protest against the eviction!!

Short story made long: De Overval, was squatted on February 2015.
The owner, Mister Tol from Volendam, had already sold the building for 2.5 millions to a Chinese company that wants to build another hotel. According to the selling contract the property had to be delivered empty, but as a woman used to live on the upper floors of the building, the selling transaction never went through. The owner tried to kick her out for many years, but her housing rights always prevailed. Mister Tol tried to get her out both with money, legally and then with pressure and intimidation, but the woman did not accept to be relocated.

Moreover, the neighoubours of the Nieuwemarkt buurt are against the construction of the hotel, and they went to court to protest against the permits to build an hotel. They lost the last appeal in April, and the permits were given to the owner.

After we squatted the lower floors of the building, the owner brought us to court, claiming (lying) that the neighbor would have left her apartment on the 1st of August, and that afterwards he was going to sell the property. However, he did not have evidences that the neighbor would leave (because it was not true), and the court case got postponed for a few weeks. Just one week before the first of August the neighbor suddenly died. This is suspicious, but we don’t have evidences to prove that he had a role in this, except for a motive of 2 and half millions. Mister Tol is blacklisted by the government and full of debts. In court he claimed that if he does not sell the building before the end of september he will be bankrupt, and he showed evidences of the banks putting pressure and seizing the profits he gets from other activities.

Since the neighbour died and mister Tol is going bankrupt, the judge decided that we must leave the space empty, so that the owner can sell it. The judge decided that we must leave 7 days after the verdict, and that the eviction will take place on the 14th of september.

We don’t need another hotel. we don’t need mafia people to make more money. We don’t need the city to be taken over by capitalists and tourists. We need houses and autonomous spaces, that are not ruled by the logic of profit but are self-organized by the people who live in the city. We will lose this space but we don’t lose our struggle. Squatting goes on!

Come on the 14th of september from 8AM at Prins Hendrikkade 138, to show your support and solidarity, and to protest against the eviction!!

OverVal Block Party! Join us at Overval’s all day block party to celebrate squatting and alternative community spaces.
Help resist gentrification! ***Geen hotel maar woningen***
eviction date: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14th 2015, 8am-8pm
*Prins Hendrikkade 138/139*

Starting from 8 am: try to be there as early as possible!! Breakfast by Guerilla Kitchen and Free coffee and tea. If it all goes well we go on with the program: Games, Music, Workshop, Talks and more. (It will all take place outside)

OverVal Block Party!
-Food by Guerilla Kitchen
-DIY Workshop Bike Repair
-Free coffee and tea
-Free Shop Garage Sale

About Kraakopoly:
Kraakopoly is a board game based on cooperative squatting, fighting the idea of Monopoly by using older existing squats on painted big carboard cards and squatter roleplaying to gather basics like knowledge, gas water electricity, friends and more to finally squat a space and have little party!

Serbia: Activists post pictures of refugees – We Must be Empathic!

Revolution News -

Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia (YIHR) has organized a gathering under the banner “Solidarity, not hate”. Several dozen activists participated. Gathering was first originally planned as an anti-protest to the announced protest of clero-fascist organizations such as “Dveri”, “Naši” and “Obraz”. Because of these organizations, last year’s Pride in Belgrade was canceled as authorities feared Read More

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Brooklyn stands up for trans women of color

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

(Facebook / Audre Lorde Project)

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant hosted the fifth annual Bed-Stuy Pride on August 30, finishing off a month where activists held multiple actions in the borough to bring awareness to the struggles and violence faced by queer, trans and gender nonconforming people of color.

The event was put together by the New York City-based Audre Lorde Project, which describes itself as a center for community organizing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, trans and gender nonconforming, or LGBTSTGNC, people of color. Bed-Stuy Pride is part of the group’s “Safe OUTside the System (SOS) Collective” program, which aims to bring communities together and provide them with resources and strategies for preventing and challenging hatred and police violence against LGBTSTGNC people-of-color rather than relying on the police themselves for security.

”Bed-Stuy Pride is where we bring together a lot of our safe spaces,” said Audre Lorde Project spokesperson Alok Vaid-Menon. “We bring together local vendors, and we really try to focus on black-owned and led organizations and vendors here so that people can get to know each other. We think that the way you end hate violence is by building community.”

From about 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, hundreds of people visited Herbert Von King Park to meet a variety of local, queer-friendly vendors, poets, artists, health care providers and activist organizations. While the stage hosted entertainment like music, drag shows, and anti-hipster poetry, vendors on the lawn sold locally-made products. Artists created and exchanged their work, and people were connected with resources like health care, housing and self-defense classes. The event is one of a few that caters specifically to LGBTSTGNC people-of-color and actually takes place in a community-of-color.

“I feel like [Bed-Stuy Pride] serves a community that is often ignored, silenced and policed immensely, even by their own communities because of their identities,” said Shayna Hargraves, a member of the SOS Collective. “Visibility is important to progress any kind of movement, to progress people, to progress actions and activities, and it’s great to be in a park right by a lot of communities that have been here for years.”

Amid all the celebrating at Bed-Stuy Pride, the violence and adversity that queer, trans and gender nonconforming people-of-color face was not forgotten or downplayed. There were square patches of cloth adorning a clothesline not too far from the vendors. On each piece of cloth was a short story of experiences with violence or bigotry alongside stories of resistance. There was also a community altar with the pictures of LGBTSTGNC people-of-color who have been killed in 2015. This year, at least 19 trans people have been killed.

(WNV / Ashoka Jegroo)

These stolen lives were also commemorated at another event in Brooklyn on August 25. Joining actions in 13 other cities, hundreds of people gathered in front of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Trans Liberation Tuesday. Hosted by Joshua Allen of FIERCE, Aaryn Lang of the National LGBTQ Task Force, and activist Cherno Biko, the vigil brought together people to remember and mourn the deaths of black trans women killed in 2015. Black, cisgendered men were invited to stand towards the front and hold up the images of black trans women who were killed. People sang and recited poetry, and the hostesses led the crowd in saying the names of all the murdered black trans women.

“The reading of names was the most beautiful part for me,” Allen told Buzzfeed. “My sisters and I talk about these trans women in our little groups, but usually no one else cares. It was wonderful to hear their names in this crowd.”

The hostesses also reminded the crowd that supporting trans and gender nonconforming people means more than “just a retweet” or voicing support from the sidelines. They emphasized that showing solidarity meant sharing your money and resources with trans people, putting your body on the line, and standing up for trans and gender nonconforming people even when there’s no audience around. The vigil then ended with a remixed version of Janelle Monae’s protest song “Hell You Talmbout” with the names of murdered trans women replacing the names used in the original.

Days earlier in Brooklyn, on August 22, Biko and Allen, along with scores of other people, took over three stages at AfroPunk Fest during their trans march for justice. Chants of “Black Trans Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace!” stopped bands from playing after which Biko and Allen took over the mics, spoke about the epidemic of transphobic violence, led the crowds in chants, repeated the names of murdered black trans women, and also led the crowd in singing the black trans version of “Hell You Talmbout.” Although the activists had coordinated things beforehand with AfroPunk’s organizers (people who signed up for the march even received free tickets to the festival), there was an unplanned moment when it looked like the activists were going to be silenced. The crowd began chanting “Let them speak!” and activists, who remained on the stage unmoved, finally got the mic.

Although each of these events went on without any serious problems, one message in all of this month’s actions in Brooklyn remained clear: Despite the increased visibility and acceptance of queer, trans and gender nonconforming people-of-color, bigoted violence still threatens this community everyday and these actions only represent the beginning of the struggle.

“For the first time, we were able to center black trans women’s concerns and make them a vital part of the conversation. We just need to continue to do the work,” Lang told Buzzfeed after the Trans Liberation Tuesday vigil. “We will do the work.”

Another Powerful Explosion at Chemical Factory in China

Revolution News -

China – Another powerful explosion at a chemical factory is being reported in Dongying city, Shandong province. The explosion occurred just a few hours ago and details are few. Reports on social-media describe the chemical plant blast as being felt and shattering glass at 50 KM away. Initial reports state that the fire is under control. We Read More

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UK: Advisory Service for Squatters is 40!

House Occupation News -

We’re not sure how it happened but it did, and there seems to still be need for ASS, or something like it.

As part of our celebrations, we are planning a day of reminiscing, planning and partying, on the 12th September. Not a particularly momentous date as far as we know – the decision to start was around February and the actual opening was in October.

We currently plan for an afternoon of reminiscing and planning, followed by an evening of partying and networking. Current plans are for a daytime gathering at Brass Tacks, 300 Brixton Hill, SW2 1HT with the evening session nearby.

We’ll start at 12 with nibbles and chat, then an hour of reminiscing from those who were around at the start, and then later generations. Following this we need to talk about how much harder things have got and where we go from here. We might break up into smaller groups to talk about bailiffs, campaigning, archiving, other aspects of support (ideas welcome). There will be a creche space but we might have to call for support. Input still welcome.

ASS is not the only show in town, so we’ll try to make space for the many inspiring current campaigns and struggles. There will be space for stalls

For the evening there will be music and dancing and chatting and whatever you want to make of the space.

love and stuff

the ASS collective of today and tomorrow.

London: DiY regeneration shows how to solve housing crisis

House Occupation News -

We’re told the only solution to the housing crisis is to build more homes. Just whack up enough new build flats and the market will sort itself out and make things a bit more affordable, right? But if you’re a person who’s getting kicked out of a council estate so that it can be flattened and then gentrified, it is in fact the building of houses or yuppy flats that is the cause of your housing crisis, not the solution.

House building is an increasingly violent process forcing us further from our cities and our lives. Following colossal privatisations initiated in the 1980s, stratospheric rises in property values have seen investors transform homes into financial instruments and bricks into gold. With housing allocation focused on generating profits, developers are demolishing public housing to construct private fortunes – buying up the price controlled homes of the poor to build properties designed solely to exploit the market.

The violence of turning homes into piggy banks is clearest when you witness an eviction: a moment when the human need for shelter and meaningless abstractions of investors brutally collide. First legalised by a court system that has repeatedly shown itself to be unjust, evictions finally manifest in court papers thrust at people by gangs of police and bailiffs walking emotional voids throw families into the street while mumbling that they’re “only doing my job”.

For the 142 families of Sweets Way in North London, the shattering effect finance and evictions have on people’s lives has been grimly demonstrated [as covered on S!N]. Annington Homes (the UK’s largest private landlord) plans to demolish all traces of the existing residents to build 288 new units. Annington was almost given Sweets Way in a controversial 1996 privatisation of government housing. By kicking out the low-rent social housing tenants and cramming the site with market rate properties, a community is being butchered to make a killing for investors.

An inhabitant for over five years, Anna’s story is typical of what has become commonplace for residents at Sweets Way and estates across the country. When Anna received her eviction notice she searched for alternative accommodation, only to rapidly find that as a single parent with two young children no landlord would let her a property she could afford. As bailiffs dragged her neighbours screaming from their homes, Anna turned to the local council for help only to be told that as she was not yet homeless, she would first have to be evicted before they would assist her. Left stranded on an emptying estate and not knowing where she was going to live, life became a tortuous wait to be dispossessed, with an effect on her children that Anna describes as “heartbreaking”.

Just one hour before her eviction Anna finally discovered she was expected to move to a flat outside the borough. As she frantically rushed to move three bedrooms by herself, the bailiffs ran out of patience, sealing the doors and her remaining possessions inside her former home. To prevent reoccupation, workmen used sledgehammers to smash the walls, ceilings, sinks and toilets. Anna was one of the lucky ones: some residents were relocated as far away as Birmingham, while others were billed for the cost of their own eviction.

As part of the portfolio of Terra Firma (a multi-billion pound investment fund) Annington have little interest in housing apart from extracting as much money as possible. The brainchild of financier Guy Hands, Terra Firma has interests in everything from cattle farms to trains, planes and Odeon cinemas – netting Hands an estimated personal fortune of £250 million, which he holds in offshore tax havens. Hands describes Annington as “a pure play residential property company [...] with the ability to benefit from the strength of the property market”. When asked by the Guardian in March 2015 about the impact his investments have had on residents’ lives, Hands declined to comment.

Unsurprisingly, the residents have given Hands the finger. By occupying their former homes and resisting evictions, they have now delayed the destruction of their estate and its community for over five months. Following Annington’s alleged wanton vandalism of perfectly serviceable buildings, the residents’ latest initiative has been a collaborative action they have termed “Do It Ourselves Regeneration”; sensitively refurbishing semi-demolished homes back to inhabitable condition.

Intending to demonstrate how grassroots solutions can trump the astro-turfing of private finance, the “People’s Regeneration Show Home” has been collectively built by a community with no formal construction skills. Use of reclaimed materials from the sort of palette “edgy” designers can only aspire to has created an architectural vocabulary unique to Sweets Way. The holes in the walls left by Annnington’s sledgehammers have been carefully re-plastered and rooms repainted; reclaimed timber cabinets have been built into a kitchen with a floor imaginatively retiled with surplus roofing slate. On hearing about the project, local tradesmen came to donate sinks and toilets, and plumbed them in for free. Local electricians did the same thing with the wiring.

Anna excitedly told me about residents’ dreams of a self-sufficient neighbourhood, comprised of eco-homes nestled among communal gardens and allotments, populated by children’s play areas and a strong community. Across the reclaimed estate the residents’ fantasies have begun to become reality, as brightly coloured structures containing everything from kids’ dens to vegetable gardens combine with artwork and planting to produce a vision way more interesting than a developer’s anaemic artist’s impression of a new build estate. Proof, Anna reckons, that if granted residency rights and a small amount of money, existing social housing could not just be preserved but enhanced.

Laced with the semaphore signals of social cleansing, Annington’s planning application claims Sweets Way is “unsafe” and “out of character” with the local area. Whereas occupiers have demonstrated that urban improvement can be undertaken through the democratic participation of communities, the centrepiece of Annington’s “consultation” process consisted of an exhibition of “proposals”, which seemed to many to have already been decided, open for two hours on a Friday night. Undertaken by a PR firm specialising in helping property developers secure planning permission, this perhaps explains why Annington’s marketing literature claims the evictions at Sweets Way constitute “meeting local housing needs”.

Annington propose to create a neighbourhood of “Traditional Private Aspiration” comprised of suburban homes so dull that even their prospective yuppie occupants cannot seriously think they will be able to amuse themselves within them. What is being constructed is not housing, but a tax efficient investment opportunity; the same bland nothingness that has given rise to a thousand identical towers lofting everywhere and anywhere in our cities, with the obvious effect of making England even more boring than it has already become.

In just one week and for less than £400, the residents have sustainably returned a home to use. With over a million properties lying empty across the country, the self-built solutions of Sweets Way offer a route out of the crisis we could begin to take immediately.

Residents have built greenhouses and planted makeshift allotments to take back the estate.

The idea of building our own homes seems like the fantasy of a survivalist hermit, but this only emphasises how the crisis today is predicated on our enforced subscription to the housing market. The market’s existence depends on purging self-built housing, achieved through state violence enforcing an enclosure of common land. Far from being a single historical event, this process is ongoing. Yesterday, the residents of Sweets Way appeared in Court, and a possession order was granted, meaning they can be evicted at any time.

Building our own homes (with permission or otherwise) not only materially improves our immediate situation but asserts political power. By using our own agency to shape our built environment we do not simply demand a right to our cities but take it, directly challenging the mechanisms that allow theft of our neighbourhoods for a global elite. The residents of Sweets Way are calling for urgent reinforcement to prevent their eviction and dispossession. When the future will only contain what we put into it today, we would be foolish not to support them.

Ben Beach is an activist with the Radical Housing Network.