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Ferguson: dozens of arrests as police and demonstrators clash – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Violence escalates in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday night, the first anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown. Police use pepper spray to keep demonstrators back and dozens are arrested, prompting a face off between police lines and the protesters. St Louis County has issued a state of emergency in response to the unrest

Read more here: more arrests as police and protesters clash for second night

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Ferguson protests: state of emergency declared after violent night

The Guardian | Protest -

St Louis County police to take over operations in Ferguson a day after 18-year-old black man was shot by police after firing on unmarked vehicle

St Louis County has issued a state of emergency following Sunday night’s escalation in violence during a demonstration marking the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

“In light of last night’s violence and unrest in the city of Ferguson, and the potential for harm to persons and property, I am exercising my authority as county executive to issue a state of emergency, effective immediately,” St Louis County executive Steve Stenger said in a statement.

Should be noted peaceful protesters at fed courthouse in downtown St Louis are being arrested by officers from the Dept of Homeland Security

.@Nettaaaaaaaa in custody

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Black Lives Matter protesters commemorate Michael Brown in New York City

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

Black Lives Matter protesters marching in the Bronx on August 9, the one year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. (WNV / Ashoka Jegroo)

Hundreds of protesters hit the streets of New York City, along with cities across the United States and overseas, for multiple actions on August 9 in memory of Michael Brown, who was killed one year ago in Ferguson, Missouri by police Officer Darren Wilson.

Brown’s death at the hands of Wilson last year sparked riots, protests and the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

To commemorate the death of Brown, multiple U.S. cities, including the town of Ferguson itself, held rallies and marches. Activists in New York City held three separate actions, ensuring that streets from downtown Brooklyn up to the Bronx would see protesters taking them over. And in addition to remembering Brown and the town of Ferguson, the protesters used the occasion to draw attention to the city’s police problems and other incidents of police violence against people of color since Brown’s death.

“This protest will not only remember Michael Brown, but will demand an end to the racist police terror that the black and brown communities face each day, as well as salute the brave uprising that moved many into action,” the Peoples Power Assemblies, one of the groups that helped organize an action in Brooklyn, said in a statement. “The demand to an end of police terror will include an immediate stop to the daily brutality and deaths at the hands of police — whether at traffic stops, during broken windows harassment or in jail cells.”

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New York City’s first action, put together by multiple activist groups collectively known as the Black Summer Coalition, was held in Brooklyn at 12 p.m. in front of the Barclays Center. Two large banners reading “Stop Killing Black People” and “Black Lives Matter” were held as various speakers addressed the crowd.

Anita Neal, the mother of Kyam Livingston who died in a Brooklyn jail cell in 2013, held a sign with Sandra Bland’s face on it and addressed the crowd about women of color who have died in police custody. Other speakers spoke about Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton’s policing policies and the major news outlets’ reluctance to cover many other protests that have happened in New York City. After a die-in and a 4.5 minute moment of silence, hundreds of protesters took over the streets of Brooklyn chanting and marching towards a nearby courthouse, while shutting down traffic along the way. Two people were arrested during the Brooklyn action (including the writer of this piece).

After arriving at the Brooklyn courthouse, many of the protesters then hopped on the subway and made their way to Harlem for the second action of the day. The Harlem march was organized by copwatcher Jose LaSalle and the Copwatch Patrol Unit, or CPU, along with other groups that emphasized the importance of people filming the police and documenting any brutality they witness.

“Some of these stop-and-frisks that [the NYPD] is still doing, the only documentation that exists is the one that CPU has, and we send it to everybody,” LaSalle said to the crowd in Harlem. “We send it to whoever, everybody and their mother, so they can see what we see. And that’s what we have to continue to do.”

Protesters linked arms while taking the streets of Harlem on Sunday. (WNV / Ashoka Jegroo)

Other speakers, like Shannon Jones of Why Accountability, echoed the need for filming the police and emphasized that superficial attempts at placating communities of color are not the kind of change they want.

“Remember the NYPD is not a social justice group. They are not a social service provider. I don’t care how many times you see the NYPD doing the Nae-Nae with your children,” Jones said, referring to a recent viral video showing an NYPD officer doing the popular dance with some kids. “They will lock up your child. They will arrest your child. They will criminalize your child. They will disrespect your child and come out here and do the Nae-Nae on you.”

After the speakers were done, the protesters then took the streets of Harlem and marched uptown towards the Bronx. The NYPD had a heavy presence, but had little luck keeping protesters on the sidewalk. Once they reached the Bronx, the marchers held a speakout at 149th Street and Third Avenue. The NYPD continued trying to keep protesters on the sidewalk, which led to the protesters continuing their march, while being cheered and joined by onlooking Bronxites at various points. They passed by the Horizon Juvenile Center, where many young people who are arrested get detained, and then made their way to the front of the NYPD’s 42nd Precinct building. Once there, police called in NYPD Captain Andrew Lombardo — known for his brutal tactics against Occupy Wall Street — and the infamous “Strategic Response Group,” who then brutally began repressing the march. There was even an NYPD helicopter hovering above the marchers.

More arrests were made, including LaSalle himself, with the seemingly-obvious goal of arresting organizers and crowd leaders in order to strike fear into other protesters. Some marchers left and made their way to Union Square for the final action of the day. Many others kept marching in the Bronx despite the Strategic Response Group’s tough tactics.

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The rally in Union Square, organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, was smaller and quieter than the two other marches, with only about 100 people in attendance. Various speakers, many of them parents who had lost children to police violence, talked about the need to drastically change the criminal justice system and hold police accountable for their violence.

Meanwhile, the protests in Ferguson were well-attended, with doves released and a silent march through the town led by Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., that began at the spot where Brown was killed and ended with a church service. Violence broke out later in the night with arrests being made and gunshots being fired by police and protesters. Protests in other cities were peaceful with activists using the occasion to remember the incident that started a new movement, as well as to re-state to the public and to the authorities that the protests will not cease until there is justice for Brown and all victims of police violence.

“We’ve been doing this for 13 months and we will not stop. That’s our message to the mayor,” Jones said before the march in Brooklyn. “And as we celebrate and commemorate the ending of the complacency, the ending of the ignorance, the ending of the get-down, we’re standing up and rising up. And it will not stop.”

Jackass star arrested for anti-SeaWorld stunt in Hollywood

The Guardian | Protest -

Police say Steve-O climbed a crane and when he reached the top, inflated a whale balloon with the words ‘Seaworld Sucks’ on it and lit fireworks

Jackass star Steve-O was arrested for climbing a crane in Hollywood in a protest against Seaworld.

Related: SeaWorld sees profits plunge 84% as customers desert controversial park

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Ferguson anniversary rally: man critically injured in police shooting

The Guardian | Protest -

Young black man shot at by plainclothes police after allegedly firing on their unmarked vehicle

A young black man is in a critical and unstable condition after being shot by police in Ferguson on the edges of a demonstration marking the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, which was once again dispersed by police firing teargas.

Related: Violence at Ferguson anniversary rally – in pictures

Related: 'Things will never be the same': the oral history of a new civil rights movement

Related: Ferguson marks Michael Brown anniversary with silence and protest

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Milk price row: UK farming unions hold emergency summit

The Guardian | Protest -

Four farming unions to discuss growing crisis at London meeting as protests across the UK escalate

Four farming unions are due to meet for an emergency summit amid a “crisis” over milk prices.

There have been protests across the UK as farmers make clear their frustrations at what they have described as the “unfair” milk price, which loses them almost 10p a litre in some cases.

Related: Dairy farmers target Morrisons in protest at milk prices

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Ferguson marks Michael Brown anniversary with silence and protest

The Guardian | Protest -

  • Crowd holds four-and-half-minute silence at spot where 18-year-old died
  • Speakers include daughter of New York chokehold victim Eric Garner

The birthplace of the new civil rights movement that has brought sound and fury to the streets of America fell silent on Sunday, as protesters reunited to mark the first anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Related: 'Things will never be the same': the oral history of a new civil rights movement

Related: Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won't end | DeRay McKesson

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'Things will never be the same': the oral history of a new civil rights movement

The Guardian | Protest -

One year ago, the world turned to Ferguson. Black lives do matter and from mourning emerged a coalition of activists fighting for life and love. The Guardian spoke to 18 leaders about what has changed and what has not ... yet

Saturday 9 August 2014: ‘Oh my God, they left him in the street’

PATRICIA BYNES, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township: At first I did not even know his name. It was actually the committee woman of the seventh ward that sent me a text that day. I was out running errands, on my way to the barbershop. And she said, “Tricia, what’s going on in your city?” And I said, “What are you talking about? Which city?” And she said: “In Ferguson.”

Fuckfuck fuck

Related: 'We do this for Mike Brown': a year on, Ferguson is a wound that won't heal

Ferguson police just executed an unarmed 17 yr old boy that was walking to the store. Shot him 10 times smh.

RT @MichaelSkolnik: They used soap to clean Mike Brown's blood from the street. #Ferguson (photo via @TammieHolland)

Someone said to come back the next day. Because we were going to do a march.

That's not smart. We right by here. RT @MichaelSkolnik: The QuickTrip is now burning. #Ferguson (photo: @PDPJ)

That broke whatever patience so many black people in the country have been holding on to – or maybe more than that

Related: 5 ways to never forget Ferguson – and deliver real justice for Michael Brown | Darnell L Moore and Patrisse Cullors

Related: Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won't end | DeRay McKesson

This is not a professional class. This is not the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons.

Related: Black Lives Matter has showed us: the oppression of black people is borderless | Steven W Thrasher

Solidarity is something beautiful that’s come out of this. But every day there’s another one that becomes a hashtag.

‘The best part of Ferguson is that they broke the rules’

I don’t need my mind to be changed. I need this country to respond.

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Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won't end | DeRay McKesson

The Guardian | Protest -

We did not discover injustice, nor did we invent resistance last August. But the terror of police violence continues. So, too, does the work of protest

Mike Brown should be alive today. He should be home from his first year at college, visiting friends and enjoying summer as he prepares to return to campus.

The movement began one year ago as Brown’s body lay in the street of Canfield Drive here in Ferguson, Missouri, for four and a half hours. It began as the people of St Louis came out of their homes to mourn and to question, as the people were greeted by armed and aggressive officers. And the movement was sustained by a spirit of resistance that refused to be silent, that refused to cower, that refused to bow to continued hostility from the state.

SWAT vehicle pulls up. Officer emerges. Points gun at us. America. #Ferguson

Related: 'We do this for Mike Brown': a year on, Ferguson is a wound that won't heal

Accountability is important, but accountability is not our ultimate goal. Accountability is not justice.

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Obama’s climate plan won’t save the planet, but it’s the result of a movement that will

Waging Nonviolence -

by Kate Aronoff

Greenpeace activists formed a human net below Portland’s St. Johns Bridge to stop the Shell Oil icebreaker Fennica from leaving to support drilling operations in the Arctic. (Flickr / Twelvizm)

In Thursday’s marathon prime-time Republican debates, climate change was not at the top of the agenda. Aside from a few mentions of “the energy revolution,” a buried and affirmative reference to the Keystone XL pipeline, and some broad-strokes jabs at regulation, the GOP’s candidates for president — with the help from the Fox News moderators — stuck to more familiar conservative talking points like ISIS, Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood.

For climate activists, this might have come as a surprise given how keenly Republicans focused their energies on carbon this past week. After President Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan on Tuesday, conservative pundits and candidates worked themselves into a frenzy. Rush Limbaugh, a man not known for his subtlety, chided the administration for “destroying the planet, folks. You are worse that Al Qaeda.” One Wall Street Journal op-ed named the plan a “Climate Change Putsch,” referencing a German word that means to violently overthrow the government. Marco Rubio called it “catastrophic,” while Jeb Bush said it was “irresponsible and over-reaching.” The plan also came with renewed calls to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and is expected to face myriad legal challenges. In a phenomenon organizers and policy-wonks alike refer to as polarization, the Clean Power Plan is clearly making the right people angry.

So what exactly is it? Taking their job to its logical extreme, news explainer site Vox distilled the 1,560-page report down to one paragraph. “The EPA will give each state an individual goal for cutting power-plant emissions. States can decide for themselves how to get there,” writes Brad Plumer. “They can switch from coal to natural gas, expand renewables, boost energy efficiency, enact carbon pricing…it’s all up to them.”

The goal of all this is to reduce power plant emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. As Plumer explains, the EPA is embarking on an exhaustive process to calculate 47 states’ power-plant emissions and then set goals around them, exempting Washington, D.C., and Vermont, where they don’t have fossil fuel-fired power plants, along with Alaska and Hawaii, where grids — unsurprisingly — work a little differently. States will have until 2016 (or 2018, if they’re special) to submit proposals on how to meet those goals.

Ruffling conservative feathers, the EPA holds final authority on whether or not the plans states arrive at are likely to make the designated cuts, and can send drafters back to the drawing board. David Roberts did a great job laying out the various stumbling blocks which could keep the Clean Power Plan from implementation, including lawsuits, state-level boycotts, the climate negotiations in Paris this December and the results of the 2016 election — a stumbling block of special concern given the plan’s reliance on federal oversight. But there are a few pieces of the Clean Power Plan that should catch the eye of climate organizers.

Certainly, this should be celebrated as a serious victory for the environmental movement. It’s hard to imagine the plan would exist without the confrontational urging of green groups here in the United States and the world over. Still, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, power plant emissions account for 38 percent of the country’s carbon emissions — a sizable chunk, to be sure. But the plan holds only indirect bearing on continued fossil fuel extraction from the demand side of the equation.

Theoretically, under the Clean Power Plan, every state could transition its power generation to renewables and away from coal, oil and natural gas, leaving those industries free to keep digging fuel sources out of the ground and polluting into the low-income communities and communities of color that are generally adjacent to sites of extraction. They can keep selling their wares to other sectors and parts of the world — so long as they aren’t being used to turn on our lights. As Michael Levi noted, the plan’s “building blocks” model means that plants don’t even necessarily need to switch over to renewables, so long as they’re promoting clean energy somewhere in the state. “If a state wants to use only solar to meet its targets, it can do that,” he explained. “If it wants to use only natural gas or nuclear, it can do that too.”

Creating more renewable energy does not keep carbon in the ground, and certainly neither does fracking. There’s a dangerous amount of flexibility built into the carbon plan around this point, and a central trouble with it is in treating solar and wind generation as a direct means through which to bring down emissions. Another is its reliance on the market.

Under the EPA’s charmingly-worded model of “cooperative federalism,” states take a choose-your-own-adventure style approach to meeting the EPA’s goals. One alluring options allows them to join or set up carbon markets, whereby plants can earn pollution allowances, or “credits,” by driving down emissions. These “credits” can then be traded on an open market to utilities who weren’t able to do the same, thus giving plants a financial incentive to become at least marginally more sustainable. So, if a given plant doesn’t bring down emissions at all, it can buy credits off its higher-achieving colleagues and the EPA will call it even. If states fail to comply altogether, the EPA will place them into a mandatory cap-and-trade system similar to the one proposed by the ill-fated Waxman-Markey Bill. In its market-creating function, the Daily Beast aptly dubbed an earlier version of the Clean Power Plan “Obamacare for the Air.”

Obamacare hasn’t fixed America’s healthcare system, and the Clean Power Plan won’t fix the planet. The U.K.-based Tyndall Center, one of the world’s leading research centers on climate change, estimates that overall emissions in mostly Global North (“Annex 1”) nations need to be cut by 8 to 10 percent each year to avert a 2-degree celsius rise in temperatures and, with it, catastrophic global warming. Tyndall Center Deputy Director Kevin Anderson also points out that such a reduction is “incompatible with economic growth,” meaning that market-based quick fixes like carbon trading and clean energy subsidies won’t exactly do the trick. Intertwined with the science, too, is a broader concern about leaving the future of the planet to the whims of the market. Matt Taibbi warned about the dangers of cap-and-trade back during the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill debates of 2010, saying, “Goldman wants this bill. The plan is 1) to get in on the ground floor of paradigm-shifting legislation, 2) make sure that they’re the profit-making slice of that paradigm and 3) make sure the slice is a big slice.”

Simply put, this is exactly the kind of government action that big banks and republicans love: the kind that helps them make money. “Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make,” Taibbi added, “cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private tax collection scheme.”

The comparison between cap-and-trade circa 2010 and today’s Clean Power Plan is hardly a one-to-one. That said, the takeaway for activists should be similar: Don’t let up.

Combined with the collapse of climate negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, Waxman-Markey’s defeat triggered a crisis of confidence within the environmental movement. It proved that the inside game wasn’t working, and neither were individualized efforts to eat less meat or villainize bottled water. One year later, Occupy Wall Street and two weeks of sit-ins against the Keystone XL pipeline provided an answer: collective, anti-corporate action. They illuminated for many the connection between the financial crisis and the one facing the planet. From bridge-sitters stopping Shell in Portland, Oregon to college students urging their schools to divest from fossil fuels, organizers around the country have already taken this lesson to heart. The fact that Obama sees his own legacy as tied to the fate of the climate is a truly remarkable testament to their success. Now, the movement is at a stage where it needs to start defining what meaningful “climate action” really means — and if the last few years are any sign, that definition will include steering clear of Wall Street and its priorities.

Witnesses: Kansas City PD Choke/Arrest Black Man for Existing

Revolution News -

One Struggle KC – On the afternoon of Friday July 31st, a young black male was apprehended by four white police officers of the Kansas City, Missouri Police department in front of the “Westport Landing” strip mall in Kansas City (intersection of Mill Street and Westport Road). We do not know why the police arrested Read More

The post Witnesses: Kansas City PD Choke/Arrest Black Man for Existing appeared first on

London: All out for Sweets Way!

House Occupation News -

In the last 48 hours, everything has ramped up at Sweets Way for what is likely to be a major confrontation between those who believe in the right to housing and community, and those who would see London cleansed of all but the wealthiest.

Annington has sent in contractors, Cuddy, to prepare the estate for demolition. Fences have begun to be erected around large swathes of the estate and contractors and security guards have begun to more actively intimidate us.

Yesterday two bailiffs, with two policemen in tow, attempted to deliver court orders to occupiers. However, through a strong showing of people power, we sent them away, peacefully preventing the delivery of the notices.

Meanwhile, Mostafa and his family – the last remaining household on Sweets Way – have been told by Barnet Council’s solicitors that High Court bailiffs will be coming to evict the family on Monday morning.

We will do all that we can do to keep Mostafa in his home. He has been through such mistreatment already, with Barnet repeatedly failing to take on their duty of care for him, due to his disability, and we need a very strong presence on Monday morning to send away the highest level of bailiffs the courts can send.

Can you join us to stand up to the bailiffs on Monday morning, 8am at 46 Sweets Way?

In the meantime, we are opening up the estate this weekend to show off the People’s Regeneration Show Home, the independent nation of Sweetstopia and the state of the estate as a whole.

Join us Saturday, 2-5pm for show home tours, and stick around if you can to help prepare for eviction resistance!

This is truly crunch time for the campaign to save our estate. We are up against giants, but we’ve managed to win some crucial victories, in spite of the odds.

That said, we need your help. The days ahead may decide if Sweets Way will continue to exist as more than a memory of its former residents and those it sparked the imagination of, through our refusal to go quietly into the pages of a future history book.

So come down! If our fight has inspired you, come join us this weekend and Monday morning!

We can still win! But it’s up to all of us to prove it!

Morrisons to meet dairy farmers as milk price protests continue

The Guardian | Protest -

Supermarket also threatens legal action as farmers blockade distribution centres in fight to be paid enough to cover production costs

Morrisons has agreed to meet dairy farmers to discuss the price it pays for milk after a week of protests that included a blockade of two of the supermarket’s distribution centres. The chain has come under fire along with Asda, Aldi and Lidl for failing to guarantee that farmers will be paid at least enough to cover the cost of production for milk.

Related: Dairy farmers call for supermarket boycott as milk price falls

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2.899 Libraries Closed Down in Turkey in 2014

Revolution News -

Turkish Statistics Institute has declared numbers on reading materials and libraries for the year 2014, and the numbers do not look bright. According to the statistics, 2.899 in Turkey have been closed down in the year 2014 and number of books available in the country has seen a decrease of 10.9% in the same year. Read More

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Questions over role of police spy in closure of music festival

The Guardian | Protest -

Mark Kennedy, the undercover police officer who infiltrated green groups, helped run a fund-raising bar at a festival that was suddenly cancelled

What role did undercover police spy Mark Kennedy play in the closure of a long-running music festival that was enjoyed by thousands of environmental supporters? It is a question that has so far remained unanswered.

In 2009, up to 15,000 people were due to go to the Big Green Gathering festival and listen to music, plan political action and raise money for environmental causes.

Related: How the scandal of Scotland Yard's secret spy unit emerged

Related: Undercover infiltration scandal - what's it all about? | Guardian Undercover Blog

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Murder of Mexican journalist threatens press freedom, prompts protests

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

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One man has been arrested in connection with the July 31 murder of Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, social activist Nadia Vera, their two roommates and their housekeeper. They were all beaten, tortured and shot in the head in their apartment in Mexico City. Two other suspects are still yet to be found.

Espinosa’s death adds one more to the dozens of journalists killed in Mexico over the last few years. Depending on who is doing the counting, between 88 and 127 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000.

Espinosa worked for the magazines Proceso, Agencia Cuartoscuro and AVC Noticias in the Mexican state of Veracruz, though his murder occurred outside the state. The state’s governor, Javier Duarte, has so far seen 14 journalists killed in Veracruz during his tenure. According to press freedom groups, Veracruz is one of the most dangerous states for journalists in Mexico and about 90 percent of journalist murders in Mexico go unpunished.

Journalists from outside the state have also recently been murdered or reported missing. Meanwhile, Vera — a member of the student movement #YoSoy132, who was killed alongside Espinosa — had told local television stations that if she was killed, it would be Duarte’s fault.

On August 2, Duarte gave a statement declaring that he “lamented” the murders and that he supported a full investigation into the deaths. However, on June 30 — in a meeting with reporters in Poza Rica, Mexico,— Duarte seemed to threaten any journalists involved in reporting on criminal activity.

“We all know which of you have links or are mixed up with criminals. I ask you to behave yourselves,” Duarte told reporters. “We will shake the tree, and many rotten apples will fall.”

This slew of missing and murdered journalists has spurred protests and huge rallies around Mexico, Spain, the United States and the rest of the world about the threat to freedom of the press posed by these killings. They have also drawn the attention of human rights organizations and press freedom groups like ARTICLE 19 and the Committee to Protect to Journalists, or CPJ.

“The violence of which Espinosa was victim is publicly known of by the authorities charged with protecting journalists in Mexico,” said Darío Ramírez, ARTICLE 19’s Director for Mexico. “This homicide puts the situation in Veracruz, and the negligence of local authorities in providing protection, sharply into focus.”

Espinosa was well-known for his work on protests and resistance movements, including protests against media repression and the 2012 murder of Regina Martínez, another journalist killed in Veracruz. At one of these protests, state officials reportedly told Espinosa to “stop taking photos” if he didn’t “want to end up like Regina.” In February 2014, Espinosa shot the cover photo for Proceso magazine, which included Duarte accompanied by the headline “Veracruz, lawless state.”

In June, after photographing students being beaten by masked men during election protests, Espinosa moved to Mexico City, a common place for journalists to seek refuge. He claimed that he was being followed by armed men with cameras, but thought he’d be safe upon leaving Veracruz.

“I had to leave due to intimidation, not because of a direct threat, per se, but out of common sense,” Espinosa told news outlet Rompeviento in his last interview. “There had just been an attack on students, who were brutally beaten with machetes and everything, and so we cannot, in this situation, do less, with any kind of threat or intimidation, because we do not know what will happen. In Veracruz, there is no rule of law.”

Shortly after the move, though, Espinosa was murdered in what many thought was a safe place for threatened reporters to go.

“Rubén’s murder is a clear message to all journalists: There is nowhere safe to go in Mexico — impunity reigns,” Felix Márquez, a fellow journalist and close friend of Espinosa, told The Guardian. “Journalists in Veracruz reporting the truth are being slaughtered. Eighty percent of journalists in the state have been co-opted; the remaining 20 percent of us are at risk for doing our jobs.”

Despite claims that the murder had nothing to do with Espinosa’s work as a reporter, many journalists and activists insist that their colleagues were murdered precisely for their journalism and activism. They are now protesting in various cities and demanding that an independent investigation be done into these killings.

“We don’t know what will happen next,” Laura Carlsen of the Center for International Policy told Democracy Now. “There’s a lot of fear that the government will try to sweep this under the rug. But there will be a constant pressure from civil society to make sure that these political factors are given primary importance in the investigation and that the investigation goes as high up as it needs to go in terms of responsibilities.”

Despite their colleagues’ unfortunate death, many Mexican journalists insist that the threat of being killed will not stop them from reporting the facts.

“I am scared, we are all scared, but I won’t put down my camera,” Márquez told The Guardian after Espinosa’s funeral. “Rubén’s death has made sure of that.”

Ishpeming MI: One Dog, Zero Answers #JusticeForTank

Revolution News -

Ishpeming, Michigan: With more questions remaining than answers, Mark Granlund demands justice for his Pit Bull Tank. Tank died four days after he was returned to his owner. This tragedy happened after Ishpeming Police Department held his dog in custody for six days in what has been described as a filthy and unsanitary kennel. This Read More

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Cincinnati’s experiment with an economy that works for everyone

Waging Nonviolence -

by Geoff Gilbert

Community members gathered for an owners meeting at Apple Street Market in February. (Facebook / Apple Street Market)

With the 2016 presidential campaigns underway, economic populism has taken center stage. Bernie Sanders, calling for a $1 trillion investment in a sustainable infrastructure jobs program along with publically funded health care and college education, has forced Hillary Clinton to offer vague support for similar measures, while even some Republican candidates, like Marco Rubio, have asserted the need to stop the “fall of the [American] worker.” Not content to wait for national politicians to follow through on non-binding proposals, 1worker1vote — a joint venture launched in 2009 by the United Steelworkers, or USW, and Mondragon USA — has been pursing a grassroots agenda to move populist discontent beyond protest and toward the building of new institutions.

The 1worker1vote network has developed and is beginning to implement a “union co-op” model, which calls for a business structure that combines worker, and sometimes community, ownership with union representation. With the model, 1worker1vote hopes to demonstrate the viability of a democratic economy, both in terms of ownership and management, capable of eventually replacing the corporate-managed economy that generates astounding wealth for those at the top while leaving nearly a quarter of the country living in poverty and half the population stuck in a debt trap with zero net assets.

“Profit should be for people, not for profit’s sake, and capital, while important, is subordinate to labor,” explained Ellen Vera, a founding member of both 1worker1vote and one of its member coops, the Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative, or CUCI.

The claim conjures images of the clashes between labor and capital of a bygone era, and, more recently, growing grassroots protest for a democratic global economy that began in 1994 with the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico and have continued during the first years of the new millennium with the global justice and Occupy movements. Although protest can bring people together and demonstrate popular support for addressing problems, only new, or reformed, institutions can deliver lasting solutions. Situated within a broader movement for a “new economy,” the CUCI and 1worker1vote are beginning to move beyond rhetoric and protest to explore what can and should happen after the protesters inevitably return home.

Founded in 2011, the CUCI, a Cincinnati-based network of cooperatives, hopes to bring what it calls “family-sustaining jobs,” with livable wages and hours and full benefits, to Cincinnati — a city that exemplifies our country’s long-term, corporate-driven economic decay. Beginning in the 1960s, American investment capital has increasingly financed the globalization of multinational corporate operations, a practice made possible by the ongoing logistics revolution fueled by rapid innovation in transportation and communication technologies.

Cincinnati, along with the rest of the deindustrialized American rust belt, has born the brunt of this globalized corporate economic management. The city, which now has a poverty rate exceeding 30 percent, possesses our country’s second-highest citywide childhood poverty rate of 53.1 percent (currently, one out of three children in the United States live in poverty).

This crisis, without an end in sight, inspired the CUCI’s founding.

“Inequality, widespread poverty, underemployment and unemployment [have brought] the CUCI into being,” explained Kristen Barker, the CUCI’s president and a co-founder and key operational member of 1worker1vote. “Since 2011, the CUCI has been incubating, educating and launching an integrated network of worker-owned businesses that can sustain families, with a goal of breaking the cycle of poverty, and creating an economy that works for all.”

So far the CUCI has launched two worker-owned cooperatives, Our Harvest, a local farming and food distribution network, and Sustainergy, a construction company that installs renewable energy technology and improves the energy efficiency of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential properties. The two co-ops currently employ just over 20 people, a number the CUCI plans to increase significantly in the coming years as the existing co-ops attain scale and others are seeded and begin to operate.

A third co-op, Apple Street Market, is in late-stage development — it will open grocery stores in two local food deserts, in the communities of Northside and Avondale, and will be owned by both workers and the surrounding communities.

Additionally, two Cincinnati-based non-profits — the Sarah Center, a women’s jewelry making and education center, and Yucky Cookies, a cookie bakery — will convert to CUCI co-ops. A third non-profit, Renting Partnerships, which helps low-income people build equity through affordable housing rental, works closely with the CUCI network.

The network has received support from labor unions — including the USW, the United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW, and the AFL-CIO. Experts in alternative economic enterprise — the Ohio Employee Ownership Center and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center — national social justice organizations, such as the NAACP and the Center for Community Change, and progressive Ohio politicians, like Senator Sherrod Brown, have also worked with the co-ops. And the CUCI is embedded in Cincinnati’s civic community, as it works closely with the Cincinnati AFL-CIO labor council and faith and community organizing groups associated with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.

Mondragon headquarters in Basque Country, Spain. (Flickr / Mondragon)

The CUCI traces its origins to 2009, when co-founder Phil Amadon, a retired railroad mechanic who had been an active union member, heard media reports of the agreement between the USW and Mondragon USA. Amadon had been exposed to Mondragon in the 1980s through report backs from Cincinnati delegations sent by the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, or IJPC, to the Basque region of Spain, where Mondragon had begun to grow from a small collection of worker-owned cooperative in the 1950s to become Spain’s seventh-largest industrial group in 2013.

Amadon reached out to Barker, who was working with the IJPC, Ellen Vera at the UFCW’s Local 75, and Flequer Vera, then a community organizer with the Amos Project. For about a year, the group met regularly and studied the IJPC’s library on Mondragon along with the Knights of Labor’s vision for a cooperative commonwealth and the Mondragon-inspired Evergreen Cooperatives, a network of worker-owned and community-controlled co-ops that have brought economic development to Cleveland’s impoverished inner city.

At the start of 2011, the four CUCI co-founders decided to move forward with the union co-op model and solicited assistance from a group of about 35 local civic leaders. “We realized it would be worth investing our time, hearts and souls,” Barker explained. The larger group, according to Barker, divided into four groups — focusing on business feasibility, worker and strategic education, cooperative culture, and financing — to generate questions to take to the Ohio Employee Ownership Center’s annual conference in April of 2011. There they met Michael Peck, the head of Mondragon USA, who encouraged them to continue to develop their business plans.

In the following months, Peck would travel roughly every month to Cincinnati to discuss business plans for cooperatives in three chosen industries: manufacturing, construction and food. By October, the group had commissioned the Ohio Cooperative Development Center, which is housed at Ohio State University, to conduct a food hub viability study for what would eventually become Our Harvest. Soon thereafter, the CUCI filed for non-profit incorporation and established its 14-member board of directors.

The ‘union co-op’ model

The union co-op model is a reaction to uneven economic development and access to resources around the world.

The model, pioneered by Mondragon, offers a different approach to resource management, starting with radically different worker and community ownership structures and the potential for democratic economic participation that comes along with it. The network of cooperatives has developed into a sophisticated economic organization, with its own university, bank and insurance provider, and over 850 patents held by its cooperative laboratories. It employs over 80,000 people worldwide and has grown into a federation of over 110 cooperatives, with 147 subsidiary companies, eight foundations and a benefit society with total assets of 35.8 billion euros ($40.3 billion) and annual revenues of 14 billion euros. When cooperatives go out of business, workers are typically reassigned within the network. While Spain continues to suffer from the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis, the Basque region, once among the most impoverished parts of the country, experiences unemployment rates roughly half of national averages.

The organization provides an example for the 1worker1vote network of a viable economic model that explicitly puts community stability and shared prosperity as its top priorities.

“We want to create a bunch of Mondragons all over the United States,” Ellen Vera said. “Everyone who is working hard should have the ability to work full time, have family-sustaining wages, health care, benefits, and a workplace where there is respect and dignity. Seeing how successful Mondragon has been in creating that kind of model has motivated us from the beginning.”

The foundations of the union co-op model are commitments to “one worker, one vote” decision-making and to Mondragon’s 10 principles, which inform everything from the co-op’s institutional structure to its participatory culture and emphasis on broad-based worker and community solidarity. Each worker-owner possesses one vote as part of the co-op’s general assembly, which elects representation on the co-op’s three additional primary institutions: a board of directors, a union committee and a management team.

The worker-owners directly elect both the board of directors, the co-op’s primary governance body responsible for strategic objectives, and the union committee, which is meant to be affiliated with regional and national unions — like the UFCW or the United Steelworkers — and to represent the worker-owners in negotiations with management. In addition to connecting the worker-owners to the larger union, the union committee is representative of the different worker categories within the co-op. For example, within Our Harvest, farm and retail workers will be represented on the union committee in proportion to their percentage of the co-op’s workforce. The board of directors appoints the management team, which is responsible for daily operations.

The farm team at Our Harvest Cooperative. (Facebook / Our Harvest Cooperative)

Managers, like the elected officials on the board of directors and the union committee, serve terms of a length determined by the worker-owners. No worker can serve simultaneously in multiple roles. After a trial period, workers are offered the opportunity to buy into the worker-owner equity stake through different payment options. Typically, equity can only begin to be liquidated upon retirement, though it can be used as collateral to attain credit. Workers who decide not to buy equity can vote for the union committee, but not for the board of directors. So far, however, only those who have chosen to work part-time are not owners, and the CUCI is attempting to develop an equitable ownership plan for part-time workers.

Once enough co-ops within the network achieve profitability, the model calls for 10 percent of profits to be sent to a central co-op that can provide start-up capital to new co-ops. Plans for the central co-op, a cooperative of cooperatives with elected representation from each co-op within the network, call for it to provide operational and strategic support for the co-ops; to produce industry feasibility studies that can chart opportunities for the network’s expansion; to educate worker-owners, people interested in starting co-ops, and the community at-large; and, as Mondragon has developed, to deliver in-house banking and insurance that can be offered far below market rates and even a social welfare agency capable of helping worker-owners from co-ops that fail. The CUCI is not yet able to create the central co-op.

For now, start-up financing must be found in creative ways, as risks associated with new businesses and the absence of a credit history can make credit expensive. Worker-owners can pool together their own start-up capital, though outside funding is usually necessary. CUCI funding has come from many areas: landlord rent reductions for one of the grocery co-ops; grants from the UFCW, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Interact for Health; loans from the USW, the Cincinnati Central Credit Union, Local Loans for Local Foods and ECAP Capital; and public funding through the Ohio Energy Loan Fund, Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, the Cincinnati Development Fund and the local Community Development Financial Institution.

Founders, worker-owners, and community-members can co-sign on loans to access better rates. Money can be raised by offering equity to community-owners, as Apple Street Market has done with over 600 members of the surrounding community. And direct public offerings, which offer equity stakes without voting rights, are another possible source of financing. The eventual goal, no matter how it is achieved, is to attain complete worker or community ownership.

Education, which occurs on paid time often on site, is also key to the model. Worker-owners within the CUCI undergo an ongoing weekly education program on topics spanning financial expertise, co-op business strategy, and Mondragon and co-op values. The CUCI uses education materials from Mondragon along with the Great Game of Business management curriculum. Weekly education often happens within each worker unit of each co-op, though larger groups frequently convene. Team building exercises and conflict resolution training also help to make democratic-decision making more feasible.

The model’s transformation of traditional labor organizing

Through the union committee, which is inspired by Mondragon’s social council, the union co-op model offers workers wealth-generating opportunities and well-being that far surpass those of mainstream labor demands for $15 an hour wages and union recognition.

At worst, workers earn a local living wage while they control profits and determine their hours, working conditions, and business practices and strategies. By belonging to a union, worker-owners reap the benefit of union buying power and can access more cost effective health and retirement plans. Worker-owners of Our Harvest and Apple Street Market are affiliated with the UFCW, and Sustainergy worker-owners belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 212 and Pipefitters Local 392.

Even more, since workers elect the board that appoints the co-op’s management, the model entirely bypasses the “broken labor laws” that Ellen Vera, an experienced labor organizer, said initially drew her to the model. “We need to be proactive, to build the kind of workplace we want to see, not just fight tooth and nail with big corporations to get a small amount that makes it possible to get by,” Vera said.

Community members gathered for a meeting in January in the space where Apple Street Market will soon open. (Facebook / Apple Street Market)

Currently the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, is the sole federal agency vested with the power to safeguard U.S. workers’ legal rights. The agency possesses a dual mandate: first, to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and labor unions; second, to provide the legal framework for private-sector employees to elect to organize or dissolve bargaining units in their workplaces.

The NLRB, according to a 2009 Economic Policy Institute report, is incapable of executing either mandate. The report found that throughout a random sample of 1,004 NLRB election campaigns between 1999 and 2003 employers systematically subjected workers to illegal practices such as threats, interrogation, harassment, surveillance and retaliation for union activity.

Punitive measures available to the NLRB are restricted by a 1938 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Consolidated Edison v. NLRB. The court ruled that the NLRB can’t sanction an employer for acting illegally. It can only require the employer to “desist from such practices” and to restore the status quo prior to the unfair labor practices through a measure like back pay for an employee who was illegally fired or whose wages were systematically stolen, as is pervasive throughout the fast food industry, where recent Service Employee International Union organizing has been most active.

Vera recalls an organizing campaign against M.A. Folkes, a manufacturing and logistics company, to restore employment for 40 undocumented workers. According to Vera, after a six-month process with the NLRB, the workers were not reinstated nor did they receive full back pay. The company, which had willingly employed the undocumented workers before the dispute, was able to get around labor laws simply because it could then prove the workers were undocumented.

A small victory for Vera has been the ability to hire, with Our Harvest, workers she has seen fired throughout her time with the UFCW. “It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve done as an organizer,” she said. The union co-op model represents a potentially far larger victory, with its potential to democratically rewrite the legal relationship between the workforce and management.

The CUCI’s three industries of emphasis

The CUCI, during its first three years of existence, has decided to focus on three industries: food, due to the founders’ connection to local food operations and Ellen Vera’s work with the UFCW; manufacturing, since the industry possesses high margins, and with them the potential to create significant amounts of family-sustaining jobs; and construction, as various board members are connected with the local building trades.

In late 2011, the CUCI, in one of its first decisions, commissioned a food industry feasibility study from the Ohio Employee Ownership Center. Our Harvest, the result of the study, incorporated in February 2012. Around the same time, the CUCI focused on attracting Danobat, a Mondragon manufacturing group, to Cincinnati. The company conducted a rail passenger industry feasibility study, but decided demand in the area was insufficient. And Sustainergy incorporated in the summer of 2013, after the CUCI participated in a citywide campaign to make available PACE funding to ease the burden of investments in energy efficiency for consumers.

The CUCI’s work with the other co-ops in development — Apple Street Market, the Sarah Center, Yucky Cookies, and the non-profit Renting Partnerships — came about after those co-ops reached out to the CUCI. The CUCI, initially focused on launching its first co-ops, is beginning to build its support infrastructure so that the network can be more proactive about expansion.

Both Our Harvest and Sustainergy have begun operations, though Sustainergy’s operations are currently paused as a key member’s son passed away late last year. The two co-ops have each developed multiple service lines and are poised for growth.

Ellen Vera worked full-time as the head of Our Harvest during its incubation stage — she has since moved to working with Apple Street Markets — and Kristen Barker has taken her place. Vera describes the opportunities regarding the absence of local food infrastructure the group was initially able to identify.

Flequer Vera (center) and Ellen Vera (right) at a 2013 volunteer day and potluck for Our Harvest. (Facebook / Our Harvest).

“We were having a local food renaissance, but we weren’t seeing local food institutions,” Vera said. “We saw there was a lack of both local production to meet demand and infrastructure to distribute local food.”

Our Harvest decided to market its local farming for both retail and wholesale, and to develop a food hub to coordinate distribution of other local farm produce. The co-op operates two farms — a smaller urban farm and a 30-acre farm within the city limits. After two seasons, realizing it needed more space, the co-op leased 100 acres from an urban farm, which it plans to soon bring fully into production. Worker-owners, according to Vera, make a minimum of $10 per hour, with full-time hours and a $450 per month health care stipend. Total annual compensation is between $26,200 and $57,400, while, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national average annual income for farmworkers is $18,910.

The co-op sells its produce directly to consumers through it’s weekly harvest box, which essentially functions like a community-supported agriculture, or CSA, network. Over 350 families subscribed to the weekly harvest box last year.

Our Harvest’s local food hub coordinates the weekly harvest boxes, adding local produce from other farms to the mix, while also focusing on pooling together the local food production for wholesale. “A lot of stores couldn’t call 50 different farmers to get what they needed — they needed to call just one place,” Vera explained. Wholesale efforts have focused on restaurants, farmers’ markets, grocery stores and anchor institutions, like hospitals and universities, which receive public funding and spend billions of dollars annually on basic goods and services, including food. The co-op currently sells to Cincinnati State University.

Due to the relatively high costs of local food produced without scale, Our Harvest’s initial consumers are primarily affluent. Given its community-based mission, the co-op is seeking to expand to lower-income markets through a partnership with Freestore Food Bank. The food bank possesses established distribution networks that reach over 20 food pantries throughout the 20 county, tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana that surrounds Cincinnati. The food bank distributes primarily processed foods, which Our Harvest is looking to supplement with fresh produce.

While local food produced without industrial chemicals has its health benefits, the Our Harvest founders believe that their model for operations and decision-making provides other tangible local benefits as well. “Instead of putting a bunch of shareholders in a far away board room making decisions only about maximizing profits, worker-owners become the executives who live in the community,” Vera said. “They aren’t going to decide to pay themselves poverty wages, or to move their factory.”

Sustainergy possesses a similar social mission embedded in its operational and decision-making structures. Flequer Vera — Ellen Vera’s husband, the head of Sustainergy and vice president of the CUCI — embodies this mission. He moved to New York from Lima, Peru during high school. Then an undocumented immigrant, Vera worked in construction before moving to Cincinnati. Seeing widespread abuse of undocumented immigrants in the construction industry, he worked as an organizer with the Amos Project, a faith group in Cincinnati. Having grown up in Peru as part of a family with a small business background, he decided to go to school to study business and finance.

Flequer Vera has taken his socially-conscious business sense and financial expertise with him to Sustainergy. The co-op initially focused on industrial and commercial work, installing things like LED lighting and motion-sensor lights, to reduce property-owner energy expenses.

In September, Sustainergy partnered with Empower Gas & Electric, a unique energy utility that develops plans compatible with economic development strategies for cities, not regions, as is industry practice. Empower does all of the marketing, delivering residential clients to Sustainergy, which installs more efficient forms of lighting, smart thermostats and improves insulation. The residential market provides another unintended benefit, as the relatively simple installations allow the co-op to bring lower-skilled worker-owners into the fold. As their project load increases, Sustainergy plans to leverage its enhanced buying power within two years to work on more capital-intensive upgrades, like energy-efficient boilers.

PACE funding had been made available in nearby Toledo, where, according to Vera, there are $21 million of PACE-financed projects in the pipeline. Along with other members of Green Umbrella, a Cincinnati-based regional sustainability alliance, Vera lobbied the city government to bring PACE financing to Cincinnati. The program eliminates up-front costs for energy-efficiency investments through low-cost and long-term bond financing that is repaid as property tax assessments, beholden to the property not the owner, over a period as long as 20 years. The Port of Greater Cincinnati provided the initial capital for the PACE bonds.

Sustainergy participated in a July 4 parade in Cincinnati. (WNV/Flequer Vera)

PACE funding is just one mechanism to finance sustainable energy investments. Since the savings from energy efficiency are often large, investments often make financial sense for the consumer. If the energy-efficiency savings cover the costs of the equipment and installation within two years, then the project is considered viable. “Financing has not been a problem,” Vera explained.

The co-op currently employs three people and requires, according to Vera, roughly $120,000 of annual sales to support each additional job. Vera expects around $750,000 of sales during the first year and around $1.4 million during year three.

Obstacles to achieving scale

The CUCI faces several barriers to building sustainable cooperatives capable of supporting a significant number of family-sustaining jobs, all of which are related to the difficult path start-ups face to achieving scale.

First, the start-up capital required for capital-intensive industries, like manufacturing, is very difficult to obtain. This problem was demonstrated by the conclusions drawn from Danobat’s rail passenger feasibility study about the absence of demand needed to meet the capital-intensive production costs.

Second, large-scale buyers — like hospitals, universities or national retail chains — require low price points that are very difficult to reach until production is built up to a point where it can leverage economies of scale. This makes it very difficult for start-up cooperatives to supply basic goods like food, laundry and energy-efficiency infrastructure to “anchor institutions,” like hospitals and universities, which spend over $200 billion nationally in inner cities each year on such services. Tapping into this immense source of demand, which is rooted to geographic space, could be essential to union co-op growth and the model’s attempts to stabilize communities with “family-sustaining” jobs.

Third, large-scale buyers, including anchor institutions, often require the highest levels of third-party certification in any given industry, which can be an insurmountable expense for start-ups that must focus their capital directly on operations. Our Harvest needs Good Agricultural Practices, or GAP, certification in order to sell to large buyers like Cincinnati State University, and Sustainergy needs Building Performance Institute, or BPI, certification in order to work with Empower Gas & Electric.

Leaders from both cooperatives do not believe attaining either certification will be difficult in a relatively short period of time, but the need to do so is an opportunity cost that ties up resources that could otherwise be invested in enhancing production and employing more people. Resources must be invested in record keeping, infrastructure required to meet cleanliness and safety standards, and educating worker-owners about certification practices. Our Harvest has sponsored GAP certification for their local food suppliers and the Ohio State University Extension has hosted similar trainings.

Reportback on the July 25 International Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners

Revolution News -

NYC Antifa – The July 25 International Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners was a resounding success! In addition to comrades in Britain, the United States, Finland, Australia, Germany, Sweden, and Bulgaria taking part, the call to action was translated into five different languages and shared thousands of times on social media. The Day of Solidarity Read More

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Dairy farmers call for supermarket boycott as milk price falls

The Guardian | Protest -

Farmers protests against Morrison’s, Aldi, Lidl and Asda as milk processors cut price per litre

Dairy farmers are telling consumers not to buy milk at Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Asda as the battle over prices spills on to the high street for the second time in three years. Farmers have been protesting in UK supermarkets this week, with more action planned on Thursday night, after three major milk processors – Arla, First Milk and Dairy Crest – all said at the weekend they would cut the price they pay farmers.

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