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May 2014

Popular Resistance Newsletter – Celebrating Our First Year

Tomorrow, June 1st, is the 1st anniversary of Popular Resistance. The goal of Popular Resistance is to help grow a mass movement for social, economic and environmental justice. We do this by covering the wide range of both protest movements and those working to create alternative systems in the US and around the world; connecting issues (or sub-movements) so we become a 'movement of movements'; and providing tools and information for everyone who seeks to participate in this movement. We are all in this together. We want to thank you for your participation in Popular Resistance. Please help us celebrate by growing the movement – share Popular Resistance with your friends and family. Consider using the articles for discussion groups. Use the tools and information on the “Organize” “Strategize” “Resist” and “Create” pages. And use Popular Resistance to share your work, tools and events by emailing

Protest Lock-Down Continues At Maules Creek Mine Site

Protesters at the Maules Creek coal mine construction site have maintained their blockade overnight, and the site remains in lock-down as protest action escalates over clearing in Leard State Forest during wildlife hibernation. This morning, a protester has attached himself to a truck on the main access road to the forest, blocking the road. Other activists remain in place in the forest, determined to prevent any further clearing after the body of a dead bat was yesterday discovered by one of the protesters. Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson, Helen War, said, “Winter begins tomorrow, but we have already found evidence that Whitehaven’s clearing in this forest at this time is killing wildlife. This should be all the evidence that the NSW Environment Minister needs to take action to stop this cruel and unnecessary bulldozing in Leard State Forest. “We will not give up.” Yesterday afternoon, Greenpeace Australia Pacific joined the blockade with an elaborate tree-top protest in the area threatened with clearing, which has remained in place overnight.

Lockdown At The Burnaby Chevron Refinery

Early Friday morning the 30th of May 2014, three activists (Dan Wallace, Mia Nissen and Adam Gold) locked themselves to the gate of Chevron in North Burnaby to protest exploitative resource extraction in Canada. They used bicycle D-locks and chains to secure themselves to the metal posts of the gate to stop truck traffic into the Chevron North Burnaby in order to draw attention the Federal and Provincial government’s complete disregard for the earth, Indigenous sovereignty, and the reality of climate change. The activists are not associated with any organizations but are ordinary citizens that have decided that enough is enough. “We want to demonstrate the extreme measures that ordinary citizens are willing to take. We want to show that each person has the ability to act, and that we must act for the sake of ourselves and future generations. Like many others taking a stand, we feel a moral obligation.” stated one of the activists.

Newark Students Resisting Neoliberal Reforms In Their City

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, the Newark Students Union (NSU) called for a rally on 2 Cedar Street, at the Board of Education building. As their supporters rallied outside, nine high school students from the NSU entered the building where the Board of Education was holding a meeting and staged a sit-in. As they slipped Cami Anderson, the superintendent, a list of their demands and sat down on the floor of the meeting, the nine students declared they weren’t leaving until their demands were met. The four demands read as follows: (1) Cami Anderson’s immediate resignation (2) Local control over the education system (3) Public schools to be fairly and fully funded and (4) All schools remain open. Back in December, the NPS administration issued the “One Newark” plan: a complete restructuring of Newark’s public schools to take place in time for the 2014-2015 school year. Under the slogan, “100 excellent schools,” they describe the plan as a “community-wide agenda to ensure all students are in excellent schools and thriving communities.” In reality, the One Newark plan is a top-down approach orchestrated at the state level, which exercises complete control over public schools. Under the plan, some public schools will be closed, others will be turned into charters, and yet other schools will face a complete staff overhaul with potential layoffs.

Idle No More Closes Trans-Canada Highway

An aboriginal protest closed the Trans-Canada Highway near Espanola, in northern Ontario, for about three hours today. Ontario Provincial Police say the demonstration at the junction of Highways 6 and 17 was part of the "Idle No More" protests. The OPP monitored the demonstration and say it was peaceful. First Nations have been protesting against the policies of the Conservative government, and more than 1,000 held a day of protest Friday in Ottawa. They have also been urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston to meet with Theresa Spence, the chief of northern Ontario's troubled Attawapiskat First Nation, who is on a hunger strike. Spence has urged Harper and Johnson to start a national discussion about First Nations poverty, saying communities face impoverished conditions.

Detroit Cuts Off Water To Thousands Unable To Pay Their Bills

Thousands of the some 700,000 people who call Detroit home are currently living without access to water after the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department turned off their water because they hadn’t paid their bills. As the shut-offs occur without warning from the department, residents don’t have time to fill buckets, sinks and tubs with water. This concerns human rights activists, who point out that as a result, “Sick people are left without running water and running toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe and parents cannot cook.” It’s a practice that has been in place in Detroit for years, even though residents of the city plagued by high unemployment and a poverty rate of around 40 percent have struggled to keep up with water rates that have increased about 119 percent over the past decade.

Canadian Military Used Against Anti-Fracking Protest

The Canadian military used its counter-intelligence unit to monitor the aftermath of last October’s RCMP raid on a Mi’kmaq Warrior Society-led anti-fracking camp in New Brunswick in preparation for the eventuality the situation went “sideways,” according to internal document obtained by APTN National News. Senior officers with Joint Task Force Atlantic, which is headquartered in Halifax, were also trying to assess who was leading the protests locally and the reaction protests planned across the country following the Oct. 17, 2013 raid, according to the documents, including email, released under the Access to Information Act. Camouflage and black-clad RCMP tactical officers wielding assault rifles dismantled a warrior-anchored camp blocking a compound in Rexton, NB, holding exploration vehicles used by a Houston-based energy firm to search for shale gas deposits near the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog in New Brunswick.

Walmart Moms’ Plan Strikes In 20 Cities Nationwide

Walmart workers and supporters in the trade union movement say they intend to stage a new series of protests over wages and conditions at America's largest private employer, in which they will target the firm's family-friendly ethic ahead of its annual shareholders meeting next week. Hundreds of so-called “Walmart moms” who work at stores across the US plan a number of strikes in 20 cities nationwide. Others will travel to Arkansas, the company’s home state, to provide a visual presence to shareholders, workers’ rights groups said on Thursday. The actions will follow a series of “Black Friday” rallies last year, which came after a House of Representatives committee report found taxpayers were subsidising workers at just one Walmart store to the tune of $1m a year in food stamps and other public-assistance programmes, because of the low wages they took home.

Californians Lose On Fracking, Corrupt Dems Sell Out

A California bill that would have banned fracking while the state studied its risks was narrowly defeated in the state Senate on Thursday, despite polling that showed a majority of California voters favored the legislation. SB 1132, authored by Democratic state senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno, failed to pass with a vote of 18-16. In all, seven Democrats prevented the bill from moving forward, with four voting against the bill and three more abstaining from voting. The bill’s defeat was widely seen as a win for the state’s large oil lobby, led by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA). The group, according to Truth Out, spent $4.6 million in 2013 on lobbying in California, and has so far spent $1.4 million in just the first 3 months of 2014. Altogether, the oil industry — including WSPA, Chevron, and BP — spent more than $56 million lobbying the California Legislature from 2009 through 2013.

The Case Against Sharing

With the rise of the “sharing economy,” many have asked the same question, though perhaps not with the same excitement. But this was Share, a conference meant to “catalyze the sharing economy,” organized by sharing economy lobbying group Peers and capitalism-for-good boosters SOCAP, sponsored by Airbnb, Lyft, eBay, and attended by about 500 investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates. For the past few years, the “sharing economy” has characterized itself as a revolution: Renting a room on Airbnb or catching an Uber is an act of civil disobedience in the service of a righteous return to human society’s true nature of trust and village-building that will save the planet and our souls. A higher form of enlightened capitalism.

Chevron Shareholder Meeting Draws Protests

Dozens of protesters including Ecuadorian indigenous and activists gathered outside the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas, to ask Chevron to take responsibility for the widespread contamination in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. The crowd, led by Humberto Piaguaje of the Secoya nation, and Robinson Yumbo of the Cofán nation from the affected communities, held banners and signs condemning Chevron’s refusal to remediate the pollution that its predecessor, Texaco, left in Ecuador after decades of operation in the country’s Amazon region. Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, was found guilty and fined approximately $19 billion by an Ecuadorian court for polluting the rainforest. The decision was ratified by the country’s highest court but reduced the amount to $9.5 billion. The company refuses to pay and instead sued the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and their lawyers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was designed to combat organized crime.

NBC News Shows Why Viewers Can’t Trust Them

You may have heard that NBC News was able to snag an exclusive interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. They turned it into a one-hour primetime special on May 28. But before that aired, that night's NBC Nightly News–likely seen by more people–delivered a lengthy segment making the case against Snowden–almost as if the network needed to establish that it certainly wasn't taking his side. "Members of the Obama administration have launched a frontal attack on Edward Snowden," anchor Brian Williams began. The report gave ample room for that attack, and it was clear from the start that this was the point of the segment. Here's how Williams described Snowden: Many regard him as treasonous and a traitor who should pay dearly for what he's done, and many fear he has done grave damage to the United States. Some of our viewers have let us know they are outraged that we have interviewed him at all. So he's a treasonous traitor, or someone who damaged the country. Or perhaps just someone you shouldn't interview. Take your pick!

The Democrats’ New Fake Populism

It would have been hilarious were it not so nauseating. One could only watch the recent “New Populism” conference with pity-induced discomfort, as stale Democratic politicians did their awkward best to adjust themselves to the fad of “populism.” A boring litany of Democratic politicians — or those closely associated — gave bland speeches that aroused little enthusiasm among a very friendly audience of Washington D.C. politicos. It felt like an amateur recital in front of family and friends, in the hopes that practicing populism with an audience would better prepare them for the real thing. The organizers of the conference, The Campaign For America’s Future, ensured that real populism would be absent from the program. The group is a Democratic Party ally that essentially functions as a party think tank.

Photos From Milwaukee Demo Against ICE

Yesterday Voces de la Frontera organized a demo in front of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Milwaukee to protest the recent rash of arrests in Milwaukee - at least a dozen undocumented people taken from their homes and workplaces by MPD and ICE. The demo itself was heart wrenching: listening to teenagers speak of the pain of having a father arrested and the uncertainty that this brings. For it is a basic human rights violation to tear apart families and the Obama Administration is falling on the wrong side of history with their draconian responses to immigration issues. Like all Voces demos this one included multiple banners and posters. Josiah Werning designed the "Have You Seen My Dad" image the day before the demo. John Fleissner, Josiah, and the YES crew were at our studio space screening the images and they also took some of my "Imagine No Borders" posters for the demo. Additionally Paul Kjelland's banners of Obama and the Voces logo were on hand.

Big Tent Activism: On Why I Painted Kevin Zeese

To explain why I painted Kevin Zeese as part of the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait project I want to tell two stories that would seem to have nothing to do with Kevin. The first involves hearing Rev, Joseph Lowery, the great civil rights activist, speak at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas in April of 2006 -- seven years before I had even heard of Kevin. Camp Casey was established in 2005 to support Cindy Sheehan's heroic struggle, as she camped in a ditch outside President George W. Bush's Crawford ranch, demanding that the president come out and explain to her what "noble cause" her son Casey had died for in Iraq. People came from all over the US to support Cindy. The President refused to appear. It's a sad day when a leader responsible for war cannot tell a grieving parent why her sacrifice was necessary. The encampment grew and grew, becoming a nexus of anti-war activity, networking, community building, and activist education. A stage had been built at one end of a huge circus tent for speakers & musicians. Over the few days I was there, I heard Cindy speak, as well as Diane Wilson, Ann Wright, Robert Jensen, Eliza Gilkyson, and Rev. Lowery.
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