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This Labor Day, stand with working women

Waging Nonviolence -

by Frida Berrigan

(Twitter / Fight for 15)

I do not have a job. I haven’t had one in years. But, as mom of three little ones, I feel like I am working harder than I ever have before.

Today, I woke up before the sun came up, nursed Madeline, enduring her karate chops to my bladder for almost an hour. Then, I got three kids ready for the day, winning (just barely) a major fight with Seamus about how it’s too hot to wear sweatpants, and engaging in high-level negotiations with Rosena about an outfit that would cover (but not itch) the bug bites on her legs. Then we ate breakfast, and I cleaned the dishes before getting the laundry started. Finally, I hitched up the bike trailer and rode Seamus and Madeline to pre-school about three miles away. It was difficult, terrifying, fun and totally unnecessary because the bus stops in front of our house, but Seamus loves it.

All that was before 9 a.m. And it’s hard work for sure, but I know I’m lucky. I did it all in a nice home, in a safe community, for kids who are healthy, and alongside a husband who is working just as hard as I am.

I am also lucky because I have loved almost all my jobs: In my decades of paid work, I have felt valued, stimulated and challenged in flexible, humane, collegial environments, where I was respected and relatively well paid. Not your everyday American work experience. In fact, I disliked only one job in my whole career. For my first work study job in college, I cleaned the second floor of the Hampshire College library (including bathrooms that were always filthy but never busy). But even that job was fun in a behind-the-scenes kind of way, in that I got to know and care about the janitorial staff. I saw and respected work that is too often invisible if done well.

I am thinking about my old jobs and my current (hardworking) joblessness now because Labor Day is almost upon us. The U.S. Department of Labor notes on its website that the holiday was established in the 1880s to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of workers and to give working people a day of rest and relaxation — parades, picnics and community celebrations. One of those credited with founding the holiday, union organizer Peter McGuire paid homage to working people as those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

That sounds amazing, but today, it seems like Labor Day is more about shopping than relaxing, which means that lots of workers are working this weekend and they are not carving grandeur from rude nature. I’m talking about people like the workers at Walmart, where shoppers are being offered deep discounts on a huge array of products and workers are fighting for a living wage. Fierce battles, courageous work and old school organizing by Walmart workers and supporters have resulted in a win. The country’s largest private employer company announced in February that it will raise its starting wages to $9 and then $10 an hour. This is great, but Americans for Tax Fairness found that even with these increases, Walmart will continue to benefit from billions in federal subsidies. Workers being paid $10 an hour for Walmart’s 34-hour work week bring home $17,680, qualifying them for food stamps, Section 8 housing, school lunch program, Medicaid and other public support programs. Basically people are working full time, but not making a living.

Then there are workers like Adriana Alvarez from Chicago. She writes, “I’ve worked at McDonald’s for five years, but still make only $10.50 an hour. The only way my son and I can make it is with food stamps, Medicaid and a childcare subsidy. Most of my coworkers are in the same boat, no matter how long they’ve held their jobs.” Alvarez and her three-year-old son Manny live in a basement apartment that leaks when it rains. She is a national organizer with the Fight for 15 movement. She says that when they win $15 an hour, the first thing she’ll do is “move to a decent place to live and be in a neighborhood with good schools.” Alvarez isn’t alone; the $15 an hour living wage movement is gaining traction, but there is a long way to go before I can in good conscience consume their buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich.

One of the great things about not having a job is that I didn’t have to leave my little ones and go back to work when they were small. I knew I was in a privileged position, but I didn’t know how good I had it until I read Sharon Lerner’s groundbreaking (as well as heartbreaking and rage inducing) study for In These Times. Lerner, who also wrote “The War on Moms: On Life in a Family-Unfriendly Nation,” looks at Department of Labor and Census data to try and figure out how much (if any) time women take off when they give birth. Only 13 percent of full-time workers in the United States had access to paid family leave in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so everyone else has to cobble something together. Here is what she found, looking at DOL data on women who took time off to care for newborns in the last year: “Nearly 12 percent of those women took off only a week or less. Another 11 percent took between one and two weeks off. That means that about 23 percent — nearly one in four — of the women interviewed were back at work within two weeks of having a child.” Two weeks! It took me almost a week to walk down the stairs and two weeks to fix myself a sandwich.

Lerner talked with women at many points along the economic spectrum. Low-income women without access to paid leave spoke of being afraid of losing their (multiple) jobs if they stayed home to care for newborns. Raven Osbourne, a single mother in Mississippi, went back to waitressing at IHOP a week after her son was born and added overnight shifts at a gas station when he was a month old. She was also going to school full time. IHOP would have given her unpaid time off, but she couldn’t afford to not earn a wage. Professional, middle-class women who worked for companies (and nonprofits) that promise decent benefits packages spoke of being afraid of taking advantage of leave packages because they might lose out on promotions.

Lerner talked to Tracy Malloy-Curtis, a fundraiser at a nonprofit in New York City, who went back to work “five-and-a-half weeks after having a son — and a complicated C-section — for fear she otherwise could not afford to pay her mortgage and cover the other basic costs of her life.” She told Lerner, “Physically, I was a wreck … I was still bleeding, my incision wasn’t closed.” Her C-section wound was infected and “pus dripped down her leg under her work clothes.”

Lerner didn’t talk with Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, about her plan to only take limited time off after the birth of her twins in December. The company has generous parental and medical leave policies, but the fact that the CEO won’t avail herself of them and has assured board members that she’ll be “working throughout” sends a message to the families who work under her that work comes first. I read all of this and thought, “What is the point of being worth $300 million if you can’t spend time with your newborns?”

The White House is working on an executive order on paid sick leave for federal contractors (but we just need to look at Guantanamo to see how President Obama’s executive orders are faring). The Democratic contenders for the White House in 2016 are campaigning on paid family leave. The Democrats and Republicans in Congress are talking about the issue and trading proposals.

In the meantime, women are trying to plan their pregnancies around their employer’s leave policies, pumping breast milk in their cars before their shifts at the factory, getting home just in time to tuck their kids in before they go to sleep, patching together multiple jobs while their infant is in the neonatal intensive-care unit, and working through crushing depression, acute physical pain and almost physical longing for their small children.

Is this what I am missing out on by not having a career? If so, I might never go back to work. I do wear many metaphorical hats and name tags: cook, janitor, book keeper, grounds keeper, laundry machine operator, psychologist and more. has a Mom Salary Calculator. Based on my zip code, the number of kids I have, and that I stay at home with them, I should be earning something like $127,459. I could even print out a paycheck for myself from their site.

That is more money (like twice as much) as I ever made back when I was a working stiff, so that made me feel really good. That figure is also about four times what our household actually brings in, underlining just how fantastical these numbers are. But when you are feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, it is worth a few clicks to have a computer screen tell you what your work is worth.

The massive fictional salary notwithstanding, I feel really lucky to not have a job right now. It takes a lot of work, though. It takes a lot of work to live and live well on one modest salary. It takes a lot of work to inoculate my kids against the consumer bug — the dreaded chant of “I want, I need, I want” products with Disney’s Olaf on everything from breakfast cereal to bed sheets to underpants. It takes a lot of work to be on food stamps, state health care and Women, Infants and Children, or WIC — the government-funded supplemental nutrition program. Then I need to resist the urge to be stigmatized by my subsidies. But if Walmart can get billions in federal subsidies, maybe it’s okay for me too (with a lot fewer zeroes).

So, job or not, this Labor Day, I stand with working women — with Tracy and Raven and Adriana — who are fighting for the most basic right of all, the right to have a life and make a living.

Black Lives Matter Activists Confront KKK in Washington, DC

Revolution News -

Washington DC – Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement activists and supporters confronted a White Supremacy Southern Heritage group which rallied at Upper Senate Park next to the U.S. Capitol Saturday, September 5. The White Supremacist group displayed two dozen Confederate flags while BLM activists held signs reading “Smash Racism and Bigotry,” “White Supremacists Go Home” Read More

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Refugee baby dies on Greek island, as confrontation erupts on Lesbos

Revolution News -

Confrontation, between police and refugees have erupted Saturday on the Greek island of Lesbos as a two-month old baby died on Agathonisi. Reportedly, the baby died just a few hours after the family arrived to Agathonisi, south of Lesbos, and the cause of death is now yet known. Mayor Evangelos Kottoros told public TV network Read More

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Popular movement takes down Guatemala’s president

Waging Nonviolence -

by Jeff Abbott

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After nearly 21 weeks, the Guatemalans that have taken to the streets in protest to demand that the country’s president, Otto Pérez Molina, resign have won a major victory. Early in the morning on September 3, news broke that the president had officially resigned.

The president’s spokesman, made the announcement at 1 a.m. The president had previously refused to resign, but faced with growing protests, plummeting support and the filing of criminal charges, Pérez Molina could not continue.

This is an historic development in the history of Guatemala: a peaceful movement in a country that has been plagued by violence that managed to nonviolently take down a government of ex-military figures.

The Guatemalan Congress quickly ratified the president’s resignation, and recognized the country’s interim vice president, Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre as the new president.

Pérez Molina’s decision to resign came the day after the Guatemalan Congress voted to strip him of his immunity. The decision was made unanimously, with only 24 congressional deputies abstaining.

Following the decision, representatives from the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, a United Nations-sponsored anti-corruption and impunity organization that has operated in Guatemala since 2007, and the Guatemalan Public Ministry filed an arrest warrant for the president.

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The anti-corruption movement began in April following revelations by CICIG of a criminal network, referred to as “The Line,” that operated in the administration and was linked to the president and vice president.

Over four dozen public officials were forced to resign following accusations of corruption, including the president, vice president, minister of the interior and the minister of defense, among others. The president and vice president have both been arrested and face prosecution.

The announcement comes as a vindication for the few politicians who had fought against corruption in the government, including Congressional Deputy Amilcar Pop, who was the first to file a denouncement against the president following the accusation of corruption. Pop has received death threats for his campaign against the president.

Furthermore, the resignation and arrest of the president strengthens and justifies the wider movement against corruption.

Beyond Pérez Molina

It was a festive atmosphere in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second largest city, following the news of the president’s resignation. Protesters celebrated with music and fireworks. Similar celebrations were held across the country. But organizers know and acknowledge that this isn’t the end of the struggle; there is still a long way to go.

“The struggle continues,” said Donald Urizar, an organizer with the Quetzaltenango branch of the “Resign Already” movement. “We have removed the military to a certain point, but it will return through the same system and the same power. Right now comes the real work. We need the CICIG and the Guatemalan Public Ministry to remove the current candidates that have charges against them following the election; and to articulate that the citizenry know and understand that this was never just about Otto Pérez Molina, but rather about changing the system into something that benefits all Guatemalans.”

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He added that there is further concern created by the interim president, “who wasn’t elected by the people and comes from the ideology of the extreme right.”

Also according to Urizar, the movement has discussed different scenarios of the results of the presidential election, and what the outcome will mean for the movement. Specifically they are preparing for the likelihood of voting manipulation by the large political parties, such as LIDER, a pseudo-populist party with known connection to criminal organizations.

Demanding the resignation of now ex-President Otto Pérez Molina was just one part of the movement against corruption. As the movement grew and evolved, it brought in other demands, including reforms to Guatemala’s laws governing political parties and elections.

Another report by CICIG released in July echoed these concerns of protesters. The anti-corruption institution uncovered the presence of illicit financing in this and past election cycles, stating that narco-traffickers, and national and international companies were illegally participating in the peddling of influence in the electoral campaigns.

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The pending elections on September 6 have already been discredited. Increasingly, protesters have called for a delay of the presidential elections, arguing, “In these conditions of crisis, we do not want elections.”

The need to delay elections has spurred the new phase of the movement.

On September 4, protesters associated with the Popular and Social Assemblies, an organization of over 72 indigenous, campesino and women’s organizations that emerged at the beginning of the movement, began an encampment outside the Guatemalan Electoral Council demanding the delay of elections. The electoral council building has increasingly been the site of protests with participants also calling for the suspension of the campaigns of the LIDER party.

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The Popular and Social Assemblies have become an integral part in the organizing during these protests. The assemblies organized a three-day “general strike” between August 25 and 27. Campesinos shut down highways and students marched through the cities. The protests culminated in a massive and historic day of protest on August 27, when over 100,000 people protested in the Guatemala City, and tens of thousands more in rural areas.

More than just an urban movement

The “Resign Already” movement against the president and corruption in Guatemala extended well beyond just the capital. It stretched to every corner of the country, and encompassed almost every sector of Guatemalan society.

One of the major regions for organizing was Quetzaltenango, or Xela, as it is commonly known. A unique branch of the movement developed there, and grew from the anger over corruption in those communities and in the country.

“Guatemala City has always been the center of power, and Quetzaltenango has been outside of this sphere of influence,” Urizar said. “We decided to start a replica of the march demanding the resignation of Otto Pérez Molina and [former Vice President] Roxana Baldetti, because we knew that there were people here who were angry as well, and couldn’t travel to the city.”

In Xela a movement formed that is a little different than the one in the city. The leadership and organizers in Xela are openly known, whereas there are still questions about several leaders of the movement in the capital. And the organizing in Xela has extended beyond the streets to other projects. On August 13, the movement organized an open forum for voters to hear from and to know the various mayoral candidates in Xela.

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“We have been working with this dynamic as a movement,” Urizar said. “We have been marching through the streets demanding reforms and real change of the political climate we have in Guatemala. We are creating a conscious citizenry.”

But this project and movement has brought more backlash from supporters of the administration than in the movement in the capital. Beside accusations of being affiliated with a political party, Xela was the site of some of the only violence and intimidation against organizers when the property of organizer Tony Pérez was burned to the ground.

In the rural areas the protests took on another form. On multiple occasions campesinos blocked highways to demand the resignation of the president.

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Through all of this, Guatemalans have learned from the short history of the movement that led to this victory.

“We have learned that a movement of people can change things and that blocking the highway and strikes work,” said Griselda Pocop, an activist from Sololá.

But throughout the whole movement, the dedication to nonviolence in the face of a system that is known for violence stood out. The leaders have stated that they will continue to follow this philosophy.

“The people have the power right now,” Urizar said. “But we are still in the process of creating a new Guatemala from the small communities. And we are doing this without violence and without weapons.”

Urgent: your help needed: Sweets Way to the barricades!

House Occupation News - A big showdown is brewing at the Sweets Way estate in Barnet, North London. High court bailiffs and cop reinforcements are preparing to swoop on the estate in a major operation to clear those defending the homes and fighting social cleansing. Already things have started getting heavy, as a new firm of security thugs (“Dorman & Co”) arrived yesterday and starting attacking people last night. But the squatters are ready to resist. Numbers are growing, and the heart of the estate is now barricaded off. They are calling for support: get down this weekend to build and reinforce the barricades and prepare for action. The eviction is expected any time from Monday. Below we post a new call-out from the occupiers. See also thesweetswayresists blog and you can check their twitter account for updates.  Continue reading →

Europe Faces a Moment of Truth on Refugee Crisis – UNHCR Statement

Revolution News -

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres on refugee crisis in Europe The European Union is preparing key emergency meetings to take decisions in its response to the present refugee and migration crisis. The situation requires a massive common effort that is not possible with the current fragmented approach. Europe is facing its Read More

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Gardai Stalk Irish Protesters Under #OperationMizen

Revolution News -

Ireland – On Friday, August 28th the Irish Daily Mail reported on its front page that the Irish Police, An Gardaí have been tracking the whereabouts and online activity of Irish Water protesters. Under the code name Operation Mizen a number of Gardaí have been gathering intelligence and building profiles on a large number of Read More

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After Rentboy raid, protesters in Brooklyn demand sex work decriminalization

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

A protest in front of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in downtown Brooklyn for the legalization of sex work on September 3. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

In response to the recent raid on the New York City headquarters for escort website, activists protested in front of a Brooklyn courthouse on September 3 to demand the decriminalization of sex work.

“[We’re] demanding US Attorney [Kelly T.] Currie for the Eastern district stop the prosecutions. Drop the charges,” Bill Dobbs, one of the protest’s organizers, said. “And because there are so many thousands of arrests in this town that result in prostitution or prostitution-related charges, it’s time to decriminalize sex work.”

Starting at around 12 p.m., dozens of activists, many of them sex workers themselves, rallied and chanted outside of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in downtown Brooklyn. Though the demonstration was relatively small and consisted mostly of protesters marching in a circle and chanting, the demonstration attracted mainstream media as well as militarized police equipped with bulletproof vests and rifles.

With the raid of, an escort site that largely caters to gay men, and the arrest of seven current and former executives from the site, many LGBTQ activists have come out to condemn a modern version of pre-Stonewall raids on gay clubs and bars and once again call for the legalization of sex work.

“Sex workers deserve protection. They deserve the same protection any banker on Wall Street would get. They’re not even getting that,” Janice Thom, the director of operations at the National LGBTQ Task Force, said. “Protecting sex workers and making sure that it’s considered real work will save lives.”

The raid took place on August 25 at the site’s offices on 14th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Officers with the Department of Homeland Security and New York City Police Department stormed into the offices and seized documents and computers. The site’s CEO, Jeffrey Hurant, and six other employees were arrested at their homes, which were also seized by the feds, along with their bank accounts and money. According to a Department of Justice press release, everyone arrested was charged with “conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution.”

Protesters march in a circle and chant for the legalization of sex work in front of a courthouse in downtown Brooklyn on September 3. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

But along with the people who run the site, the raid also affected the people who advertise on the site. The site described itself as “the world’s largest male escort site” and, for many young queer men, it was a vital source of revenue that helped pay bills, buy clothes, and put food on the table. It also provided a much safer alternative than trying to do sex work on the streets.

“In a lot of ways it was difficult to get a job, especially with me moving around a lot and not really having stable rent, and so advertising allows that safety tool to happen, and also, it’s not this biweekly pay thing, it’s really instantaneous money cause I needed it to move,” Michael, a 22-year-old former advertiser on who refused to give his last name, said. “It’s a screening tool. You’re able to filter out a lot of individuals. Also, they provided various resources to STI treatments, how to stay safe.”

Michael, who had advertised on for over a year, said that even though his income wasn’t always stable, the site provided him with a stable place to advertise. His ad was always up, and he knew that he was visible on the site. Now, with the shutdown of the site, that source of income is gone. When later asked how the raid of affected him personally, Michael replied with an uneasy laugh, “Well, right now I can’t pay rent!”

Other sex workers at the protest voiced the same concerns about how the criminalization of sex work affects the lives of so many people, particularly trans people of color, who are often denied jobs with livable wages and are just trying to provide for themselves and their families. The protest lasted about two hours and ended with organizers determined to carry on the fight in the near future.

“What we’re thinking next is a town meeting about the war on sex and also going after City Hall because there are thousands of arrests every year of people for sex work and for wanting to engage with sex work,” Dobbs said at the end of the protest. “And some of it, like Prospect Park targeting for cruisers, doesn’t involve money at all. So all that stuff has to be addressed and the buck stops with Mayor [Bill] de Blasio.”

Calais: demos every day against the border

House Occupation News -

Across Europe, people without papers are refusing to suffer the brutal border regime. From Hungary to France, people are cutting the fences, blocking trains and roads, occupying train stations and public buildings, self-organising and fighting. In Calais, the pace of struggle is picking up with large scale actions now happening on an every day basis, as well of course as individuals and groups taking on the fences every night. Here are reports from the last two days reposted from Calais Migrant Solidarity. Yesterday (Thursday) a crowd of hundreds blockaded the government’s aid distribution centre, demanding free movement not rotten crumbs of aid. Today the crowd marched into town to confront the politicians. Another big action is planned for tomorrow.

Friday 4 September: demo at Calais town hall

Today a demonstration organised by people in the camp, of approximately two hundred people took place. The protesters met outside the food distribution centre as with the previous day’s protest. It was then agreed that the crowd would march into Calais. Moving through the jungle, the demonstration was met with smiles, cries of support and people pumping their fists in the air. There were members of most nationalities in the jungle present. Walking down the road into the town, it was expected that the protest would be blocked by police at any moment. The march, however, was able to continue into the town. The people were chanting “liberté!”, “freedom!”, “no borders, no nations, stop deportations!”, “Hurreeya!” and “azadi!” Once the march entered the town the chanting and clapping intensified so that the inhabitants of Calais would definitely hear the message of the oppressed.

Eventually the march arrived at the Town Hall. Once there, they sat down and held up their banners so that the message could be clearly visible. The gathering was peaceful, with some singing and a little chanting. Then, to the utter surprise of all present, Natasha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais, arrived to speak to the migrants, along with Phillipe Mignonet and Emmanuel Agius! This has never happened before in Calais to the best of our knowledge.

Bouchart was cynically trying to appear humane and open by talking with the people. However, the politicians were deaf to the migrants demands, only repeating the same tired lines that the people must claim asylum in France in order to receive any assistance, and that the border was a European problem and a British problem, and out of their hands. They suggested that the people go to the sub Prefecture to protest there.

Nobody was taken in by the bullshit of the politicians. The people have called for continued action and protest. The demands are clear even if the politicians cannot understand them. The people will continue to fight and to take to the streets until the borders are no more. Another demonstration is planned for tomorrow with the intent of having as much support as possible: for people to come to the demonstration and to march with them. There has never been a better time to come and to show active solidarity with the people who are fighting for freedom.

Thursday 3 September: demo and picket at “Jules Ferry” state distribution centre

The statement quoted below was given by the protesters today. They began their sit-in at 11 AM, and are refusing to enter the Jules Ferry center for any of its services. They do not want more humanitarian aid, but rather are demanding their rights to move where they wish and live in dignity where they are.

“There is a big protest happening here at the Salam distribution centre in the jungle and the government have cut the satellite signal so there can be no broadcast.

People are blockading the government distribution centre because they no longer want to live in worse conditions than those they left behind. It’s not enough to receive one badly cooked meal per day. People seeking asylum in France are being given nothing and forced to live in the jungle. People have a right to dignity and many people are badly injured and left with no medical provisions to die in the jungle. La Vie Active who run the Salam centre profit from justifying people’s prolonged stay in the jungle. Today the demonstration will continue at the gates of the centre and everyone informed why and asked not to go inside. If people want to go in they can and will not be subject to abuse. It is not good enough that racism exists in the camp and today we are one voice, one hand to stop the injustice of this border.

People of the jungle are not treated as human beings but numbers in system. We are not allowed the right to protest in the town but hidden away, they try to silence us. We will not accept this system and we will provide our own solution. The European governments made this problem and it is their responsibility to solve it in a way that gives us a better life. We did not risk our lives to suffer this inhumanity. We must stand together, this protest is the start and we will continue until our situation is resolved. We want to remain peaceful even when the police use violence against us.”

200,000 March in Vigo, Spain Against Privatization of Health Care

Revolution News -

Spain – Vigo comes alive with the largest demonstration of its history to demand a “public healthcare system,” which is now endangered with the opening of the first privately owned hospital. With public opinion on the matter kept out of the decision-making process so far, citizens make their voices heard by taking to the streets in Read More

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Refugees Set Out from Hungary on Foot, Headed to Austria – #MarchOfHope

Revolution News -

Refugees that were blocked and stuck in Kaleti train station in Budapest for the past two days have set out on foot to make the journey out of Hungary, with hopes of being allowed entry into Austria. With the justifiable fear of being sent to be held in caged cells at refugee camps in Hungary, Read More

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Ukraine's government bears more responsibility for ongoing conflict than the far-right

The Guardian | Protest -

The question of autonomy in the Donbass has fractured the fragile coalition, but the government must start thinking of solutions – not point fingers at paramilitaries

Violence erupted outside the parliament building in Kiev this week during protests against constitutional changes which could grant more autonomy to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Proposed by president Petro Poroshenko, these changes would decentralise power in Ukraine, allowing local self-government in “certain districts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions”, to be determined by a separate law.

Related: Anti-autonomy protests in Ukraine – in pictures

Related: Ukrainian guardsman killed in protests against vote on rebel autonomy

Frighteningly, the main alternative to our right-wing nationalist government is an ultra-right opposition

Continue reading...

Ireland: Fennelly Report Shines Light on PM’s Suspicious Actions

Revolution News -

In Ireland, the state is becoming more heavy handed by the month. Peaceful protesters are being attacked, spied on and even stalked by Gardaí under Operation Mizen. Opposition TD’s being stripped at peaceful demonstrations by authorities and then learning about their impending arrests on national television before being informed through the normal procedure. Now the Read More

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Deplorable Treatment of Refugees in Hungary

Revolution News -

Refugees in Austria are greeted with warm welcomes and Czech Republic now says it will no longer detain Syrian refugees citing ‘ineffective’ European asylum rules. However, Hungary is taking a heavy-handed approach, causing massive bottlenecks and unnecessary distress among the exhausted refugees who are trying to travel west to safe havens in Germany where they Read More

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Seizing Wells and Going on Strike, Indigenous Activists Stand Up to Big Oil

Revolution News -

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer Common Dreams The Indigenous activists want clean water, compensation for oil pollution, and more pay for the use of native land Demanding reparations for industrial pollution and adequate compensation for use of native lands, Indigenous activists in Peru shut down 11 wells in an Amazonian oil block on Tuesday. According to the Read More

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Why the climate movement needs to move beyond the ‘big tent’

Waging Nonviolence -

by Cam Fenton

More than 10,000 gathered in Toronto on July 5 for the largest and most diverse climate mobilization in Canadian history. (Project Survival / Robert van Waarden)

Earlier this summer I helped to organize the March for Jobs, Justice & the Climate — an action that brought more than 10,000 people to the streets of Toronto in one of the largest and most diverse climate mobilizations in Canadian history. More than 100 organizations supported the march — from national environmental groups to labor unions to the indigenous rights’ movement Idle No More to Toronto-based groups tackling poverty, food justice and migration. It was, as Naomi Klein put it, the “first steps of a new kind of climate movement” that reached beyond the traditional boundaries of the environmental movement.

The march was a “big tent” approach to climate organizing being put to practice, the same approach that helped the People’s Climate March bring over 400,000 people to the streets of New York City last September. It’s also an approach that we’re seeing gain more momentum in the lead-up to the Paris climate talks this December. In fact, another round of People’s Climate actions are already being planned for later this year.

Whether it’s called a big tent, intersectional organizing or building a “movement of movements,” this approach is key to the kind of transformative change required for solving the climate crisis. It’s also clear that it’s not an approach that’s going away any time soon.

During the organizing of the March for Jobs, Justice & the Climate, I learned a lot of hard lessons about the strengths and limitations of the big tent. In so doing, it became clear to me that the climate movement is struggling with this style of organizing, and that if we hope to build transformative power across and beyond social movements it’s going to take a lot more than just one big tent.

Big tents get crowded, quickly

Organizing in a big tent is a lot like hanging out in a crowded bar. It’s packed with people, everyone is talking and it’s next to impossible to get from one side to the other — especially if you’re trying to move with a group.

When you’re throwing a big party, you want a crowded bar. When you’re organizing a big mobilization, a massive tent can bring in a lot of people, but it’s going to be crowded and loud. People will struggle to be heard and those people who prefer a quiet night in may just stay home. As with the problem of trying to cross a packed bar with your friends, moving people in a big tent is also an ordeal.

(Survival Media / Fatin Chowdury)

When we started organizing the Toronto march, a big tent approach helped to open a lot of doors. Instead of starting with the same climate groups we always turn to, we worked with partners to create a frame that other movement sectors could see their struggles reflected in. By inviting a wide range of partners into the organizing space with a big, broad framework, we were successful in shifting the discourse around climate in Canada and including more voices in the conversation. At the same time, however, the sheer scale and breadth of groups involved also limited the depth of conversation that could take place.

For a single march, and the first one of it’s kind, this crowded tent wasn’t an insurmountable issue. Yet, as a movement strategy, the big tent approach needs space for people to move around and to be moved in. There needs to be enough room to move that the tent itself can be relocated through conflict, disagreement, negotiation and shared strategizing. Without this, the big tent will stagnate rapidly, accepting the lowest common denominator of agreement among the groups in the tent rather than unifying around demands that are in line with the scale of change that we really need.

There are rooms inside the tent

A lot of the value ascribed to big tent climate organizing is the idea that it’s a more inclusive approach to tackling the climate crisis, and it’s true that this approach is miles ahead of the environmental movement of the past. Unfortunately, a lot of the time the big tent feels a little too much like it’s just throwing a big sheet over already existing divisions and inequality across and within movements.

During our organizing, we started to observe that our big tent had developed a series of rooms. In the middle was a big central room that was the “official” center of the tent. It was the main organizing listserv and the weekly meetings where formal decisions were made and where everyone was welcomed. As the organizing moved forward though, smaller rooms started to pop-up.

Some of these rooms played a pivotal role in the organizing. For example, a meeting of local Toronto-based environmental and social justice groups gathered to talk about the march and how or if they would engage with the march. This meeting and the room it built within the tent helped to build alignment among groups. It also helped to clarify what kind of resources groups required to participate in the march, and created alignment among enough groups to shift the political orientation of the march to give a voice to groups typically sidelined by the climate movement like migrant justice groups, anti-poverty organizations and groups working to end police violence. A similar space was created and held by faith groups that used it to successfully mobilize a large and broad interfaith contingent for the march. In these instances, when the room held the work of a kind of caucus, it created space that helped to improve the dynamics in the big tent.

At the same time, rooms also emerged that hampered the organizing effort and threatened to undermine the goal of the big tent approach. Rooms emerged as exclusive spaces where groups with certain relationships, budgets or approaches talked to each other and made decisions that would impact the entire big tent strategy.

Most of these rooms replicated the same movement divisions that the big tent was intended to dismantle. It makes sense that these rooms would emerge and that people and groups would find themselves working with natural allies, but for a big tent climate organizing strategy to really be transformational, it has to be more than just putting a big sheet over our movements.

A coalition is not the same as a base

We started organizing the March for Jobs, Justice & the Climate by bringing together representatives from a range of groups to form some kind of a coalition to make the march happen. We had an idea for the action, a rough vision of what it could achieve and a sense — from consulting with a wide range of groups — that a massive cross-movement project might be possible. Following this strategy, we build a coalition of over a hundred groups by the day of the march. Yet, while the coalition was big and broad, it was also weak and, as I’ve outlined above, most of the alignment was on a surface level.

We lost track of the fact that in a cross-movement organizing space there are two sets of people, those people in the meetings, and those people who the people in the meetings have to explain things to. For some people that meant a collective, for others a staff team or board of directors. For most people it also meant a base, the broader community or movement that group organizes with and within. Or, put another way, every person in the room had to not only come to agreement in the room, but figured out how to translate the decisions in the room into a language that their people could speak.

This challenge played out in countless ways during the organizing process. One example was during conversations about the intersection of climate and migration. As someone who has worked between climate and social justice spaces for a lot of my adult life, I feel like I understand the links between climate change and forced migration. It’s pretty easy for me to rationalize why creating more open and just immigration policies is a fundamental part of a justice-based adaptation policy in a warming world. The problem is that I’m not representative of most of the people who make up the base of the traditional climate movement. So, when it came to working with a migrant justice group to make the case for connecting the dots between a super-storm in the Philippines and Canada’s immigration policies, we were confronted with an environmental movement that, for decades, has been obsessed with polar bears and parts per million.

(Survival Media / Fatin Chowdhury)

In our big tent, it’s not just me and a migrant justice group. We also have a labor union that has a mandate to represent and be accountable to its members. Some of these members might hold views that stem from fears around migrant workers and job security. Others — and frankly some people in the climate movement at large — may even hold racist, anti-immigrant beliefs. At the same time, the migrant justice group may have its own well-placed concerns or ambivalence about this big tent, as a result of those racist views. With that, comes another series of challenges, and that’s with only three groups in the big tent. We haven’t even started to scratch the surface of the vast majority of people not already connected to the groups we invite into our coalitions.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that bringing diverse groups together is a key first step to building a movement for climate justice, and in organizing the March for Jobs, Justice & the Climate we managed to reach farther outside the box than any mobilization of it’s kind in Canada. Nevertheless, we fell into the same big tent trap of “uniting the left” on climate and believing that an intersectional approach to climate stops when we check enough movement diversity boxes in our coalition. We lost track of the fact that behind each group is a base of people with their own opinions, views and beliefs. Even if the groups in the room agree on something, the people we email, call and try to turn out in the streets might not.

The ground beneath our feet, not the tent above our heads

In the end, the biggest lesson I learned in this process was that it may actually be the term “big tent” that’s our biggest problem. A big tent invokes the idea of one big idea or issue that sits above the rest, leaving us to unify underneath it. While it’s true that climate change connects issues like few crises our society has ever faced, it’s problematic to view it as an issue “above” the rest. Instead of looking up to the tent, we need to start thinking about the ground beneath our feet – about how we can share fault lines that connect our movements.

In geology, a fault line is the space where tectonic plates meet. Movement fault lines could be defined by the points or issues where our struggles interact. The point where things actually meet is narrow compared to the size of the mass itself, but it’s also the place where the most dynamic changes occur.

If we think about the intersection of movements like this, we can see that the kind of power that has often been ascribed to a big tent is actually found in the narrow fault line where struggles intersect and where the friction between movements already exists. This means that in these places, like the intersection of migration and climate change, there is profound potential. It also means the points where our movements intersect are only a small piece of the work that movements and the people that make them up do. Movements are like massive tectonic plates that exist behind each fault line, their seemingly subtle movement the result of the constant day-to-day work of campaigning, educating and organizing. This work makes it possible for our movements to intersect along fault lines, and we need to consider the impact of the fault line on the movement as a whole. We also need to consider that sometimes the potential for intersectional organizing is not between everyone on everything — in other words, sometimes a specific fault line may only involve two movements interacting.

(Survival Media / Robert van Waarden)

If you think about the example of the intersection of migration and climate change as a fault line, it’s easier to understand how we could overcome the challenge I outlined. Rather than try to find a way to agree on a high-level demand that ties together migration and climate change, we can look at the challenge and realize that the first step to this is the need to educate the climate movement about migrant justice and to build a deeper sense of trust across movements. From here, we can develop a strategy that starts with the fault line between climate and migrant justice movements — for example, a series of webinars as part of a joint campaign with support from movement leaders. In executing it, we could bring the climate movement and migrant justice movement together along a shared fault-line, and as trust is built and understanding developed, be in a better place to engage the labor movement along a new fault line. Step by step, we could build across movements in a way that respects where different sectors are, meets them where they are at and grows in a way that builds power from the bottom-up.

In the end, if we are constantly building alignment along fault lines, any big tent will be stronger and more valuable in the long run. After all, fault lines are the points that have raised mountains, carved shorelines and shaken the earth with powerful quakes. If we can take the time to go beyond the big tent, our movements can too. In order for this to happen the goal cannot simply be to hold up the big tent, but rather to forge a commitment to build movements together between the big tent moments. As the Paris climate talks draw near, these lessons can help us deepen our work for the long haul ahead and to truly tackle the climate crisis.

Angry French farmers hold tractor protest in Paris

The Guardian | Protest -

Struggling farmers say plunging food prices and soaring costs are destroying their livelihoods and leaving many on the brink of bankruptcy

French farmers have blocked the streets of Paris with over 1,500 tractors to protest over plunging food prices and soaring costs they say are killing their livelihoods.

From far-flung corners of the country, some spent days slowly chugging towards the capital, leaving behind barely surviving pig, cattle or beetroot farms.

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Millions of Workers Across India Strike Against Labor Reforms

Revolution News -

Millions of workers across India held a 24-hour strike on September 2nd in protest against planned labor law reforms India – Unions say labor reforms planned by Modi’s government will put jobs at risk, and are demanding it scrap changes that would make it easier to lay off workers and shut down unproductive factories. Gurudas Read More

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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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