Every now and then there is an action that hits all the right notes — the message is clear, the messengers are appropriate, the setting and tone are impeccable, and the ripples carry on far into the future. One such action took place earlier this month in the midst of protests in Ferguson, Mo., against the killing of teenager Michael Brown and police use of excessive force. Seemingly far from the streets of Ferguson at the Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, concert goers returned to their seats after intermission. One by one, a diverse group of protesters interspersed in the audience rose to solemnly sing out a tailored protest song: “Which side are you on friend? Which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.”
Some call it "stop-and-frisk by another name." Others say it's an excuse for cops to up the number of outstanding arrest warrants. But the facts in a recent CUNY Law School study show that from 2008 to 2011, the New York City Police Department issued more tickets in minority than in other neighborhoods to cyclists who rode their bikes on the sidewalk. Of the 15 neighborhoods with the greatest number of summonses for the crime of bicycling on the sidewalk, 12 consist mainly of blacks and Latinos. The research was coordinated by City University of New York sociology professor Harry Levine and members of his Marijuana Arrest Research Project, a program that keeps track of victimless crimes in large U.S. cities, and NYC in particular. The neighborhood with the highest number of bicycle-on-sidewalk summonses was Bedford-Stuyvesant (West) in Brooklyn, which averaged 2,050 per year. The area's population numbers about 90,000 and is 79 percent black and Latino.
Today, digital rights group Fight for the Future — best known for their pivotal role in major Internet protests like the SOPA Blackout and the Internet Slowdown — electronically delivered more than 75,000 signatures to President Barack Obama calling for the White House to publicly support full Title II reclassification and demote FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for failing to do his job protecting the public’s access to a free and open Internet. The delivery came just hours after the Wall Street Journal reported that Wheeler is close to finalizing a net neutrality proposal that would explicitly allow for Internet fast lanes and slow lanes, despite the fact that the FCC has received more than 3.7 million public comments opposing the fast lanes, overwhelmingly in support of banning so-called “paid prioritization” through the use of Title II reclassification.
Thousands have signed an online petition denouncing reported comments by an HSBC Holdings board member in which she likened Hong Kong protesters' demands for democracy to the emancipation of slaves. Laura Cha, who is also a member of Hong Kong's policy-making Executive Council, chairwoman of the city's Financial Services Development Council and a member of China's parliament, was quoted as making the comments at an event in Paris. "American slaves were liberated in 1861 but did not get voting rights until 107 years later. So why can't Hong Kong wait for a while?" the Standard newspaper on Thursday quoted Cha as saying, referring to demands for free elections in the former British colony. The comments triggered outrage on social media and nearly 6,000 people had signed the petition by Friday evening. The web site of the petition said it had been launched by Jeffrey Chan from Hong Kong. It only appeared to be in English. "We, the Hong Kong public, will not stand these remarks likening our rights to slavery, nor will we stand the kind of voter disenfranchisement her and her associates attempt to perpetrate on the Hong Kong public," said the petition to HSBC, that sought an apology from Cha.
By 2011, SHU prisoners had had enough. They declared a hunger strike, demanding an end to these policies and conditions. Over a thousand people, including Johnny, joined in. Although not the first time SHU prisoners have gone on hunger strike, this particular call came at a time when prison organizing was intensifying. Less than a year earlier, in December 2010, people in a dozen Georgia prisons united across racial lines to go on work strike. Their demands included wages for their labor, educational opportunities, decent health care, nutritious meals and improved living conditions. In Illinois, activists were on the verge of closing the notorious Tamms prison, where men spent years in extreme isolation. Across the nation, lawsuits against inhumane prison conditions were filed — and won.
More than 150 Columbia students, faculty, and community members gathered on Low Steps on Wednesday holding mattresses, pillows, and signs to rally against the University’s handling of sexual assault on campus. Billed as a National Day of Action to “Help Carry the Weight,” the event was inspired by the senior art thesis project of Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15. For her thesis, titled “Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight,” Sulkowicz will carry a mattress with her as long as her alleged rapist still attends Columbia, as a protest against the University’s systemic mishandling of sexual assault cases. The rally, organized by student activist groups No Red Tape Columbia and Carrying the Weight Together, also drew support from 28 other student organizations—representing the 28 students who have filed federal complaints against Columbia since April.
Starting November 1st, hundreds of people are planning to take part in a very full week of climate action in Washington, D.C., focused on FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The week will also draw connections to other very problematic institutions as far as the global warming crisis. Over 50 organizations have endorsed this week of action, many of them local groups fighting fracking, fracking infrastructure and proposed fracked-gas export terminals. On Friday, November 7th, the last day of the week, dozens of fracktivists from the fracking-ravaged state of Pennsylvania are traveling to DC to anchor that morning’s action at FERC.
Eight years ago when Patti Beers joined Facebook she had no idea it would become her central link to thousands of friends. A fan of MySpace, Beers looked for something more interactive and discovered Facebook social media was sweeping the internet. She found friends she hadn’t heard from in years and was able to connect her family in one place via Facebook. When the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) encampments sprung up in New York City and around the country during the Fall 2011, Facebook became a natural fit for discussing views of world change, sharing ideas and organizing events. Eventually Beers began reporting on OWS protests and live-streamed events using the service UStream and had announced such live events through Facebook.
fter TransCanada filed its official application with the National Energy Board today, environmental organizations in Canada and the United States, First Nations and community organizers said the Energy East pipeline will never be built. “It’s not going to happen,” said Patrick Bonin of Greenpeace Canada. “Energy East would negate all the good work on climate that has been done at the provincial level, pose a major threat to millions of people’s drinking water and disrespect Canadians in Eastern Canada, who care as much as any other Canadian about oil spills contaminating their homes, waterways and livelihoods.” Energy East – extending from Alberta to New Brunswick - would be the longest oil pipeline in North America and the single largest tar sands pipeline, transporting 30 per cent more oil than Keystone XL and double the size of Northern Gateway.
The growing tide of tar sands resistance—seen in blockades, tree sits, petitions, education efforts and calls to divest—is having a measurable negative impact on the bottom line of the tar sands industry, according to a new report, prompting researchers to declare that "business as usual for tar sands is over." Published Wednesday by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and Oil Change International, the report, Material Risks: How Public Accountability Is Slowing Tar Sands Development (pdf), finds that tar sands production revenues were down about $30.9 billion from 2010 through 2013. And according to the report, more than half of that lost revenue, roughly $17 billion, can be attributed to the fierce grassroots campaigns that have sprung up throughout North America in the past few years.
Oil and gas wells across the country are spewing “dangerous" cancer-causing chemicals into the air, according to a new study that further corroborates reports of health problems around hydraulic fracturing sites. “This is a significant public health risk,” says Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-State University of New York and lead author of the study, which was published Thursday in the journal Environmental Health. “Cancer has a long latency, so you’re not seeing an elevation in cancer in these communities. But five, 10, 15 years from now, elevation in cancer is almost certain to happen.” Eight poisonous chemicals were found near wells and fracking sites in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wyoming at levels that far exceeded recommended federal limits.
President Obama's campaign of aerial bombardment against ISIS in Iraq and Syria maintains a British colonial policy designed 100 years ago to avoid the consequences of putting large numbers of boots on the ground in what are now Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As a British official in Iraq reported in April 1919, "No sooner has one area been subdued than another breaks out in revolt and has to be dealt with by aeroplane…all these tribal disturbances have been dealt with from the air… thus the Army has been saved from marching many weary miles over bad country and sustaining casualties." That Western air forces are still bombing the same countries based on the same rationale a century later is a staggering failure of politics, humanity and the rule of law.
In a reflection of growing national concern about the disposal of oil and gas waste, a Pennsylvania congressman launched an investigation Wednesday into the way his state regulates the discarding of the unwanted, often toxic material. Rep. Matthew Cartwright, a first-term Democrat from eastern Pennsylvania, wants to know more about how the contaminated leftovers from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are regulated. In an email exchange with InsideClimate News, Cartwright said "preliminary reports indicate there are big gaps in protections and oversight that the federal government might have to fill."
The Patriot Act continues to wreak its havoc on civil liberties. Section 213 was included in the Patriot Act over the protests of privacy advocates and granted law enforcement the power to conduct a search while delaying notice to the suspect of the search. Known as a “sneak and peek” warrant, law enforcement was adamant Section 213 was needed to protect against terrorism. But the latest government report detailing the numbers of “sneak and peek” warrants reveals that out of a total of over 11,000 sneak and peek requests, only 51 were used for terrorism. Yet again, terrorism concerns appear to be trampling our civil liberties. Throughout the Patriot Act debate the Department of Justice urged Congress to pass Section 213 because it needed the sneak and peak power to help investigate and prosecute terrorism crimes “without tipping off terrorists.”