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December 2014

Breaking: Ferguson Protesters Occupy SLPD Headquarters

In response to this dispatch, we intend to evict injustice and blight, by occupying St. Louis Police headquarters on December 31st, 2014, at 11am. The decision to reclaim our police department is the result of willful neglect and violence on behalf of the department toward the community, which they are bound, by oath, to protect and serve. Violations include: Committing crimes against humanity, by ending the life of men, women, and children, and then labeling these executions as “justified” without regard for your humanity, and without thorough investigation. Hiring officers, who are unfit to wear a badge, like Randy Hayes, a known animal torturer, and Jason Flannery, who publicly declared he wanted to “shoot Muslims.” Both these men shot and killed two members of our community and have not been held accountable for these egregious actions, but rather have been protected behind a blue shield. Despite thousands marching in the streets; despite our community having to sue our own police department to stop the use of tear gas and rubber bullets; despite urgent demands for broad and substantive reforms, our cries have been ignored. For all these reasons, we intend to occupy St. Louis Police Headquarters as part of our New Year’s resolution to take back our Justice System, and in doing so reclaiming the promise of our future.

Understanding The Racial Bias You Didn’t Know You Had

Implicit racial bias tends to work against the same groups that are the victims of the type of overt racism that you hear from white supremacists or the more subtle bigotry of people who believe that racial minorities suffer from cultural pathology or who actively defend racial and ethnic stereotypes. But it can also affect the minds of people who would say — honestly — that they are horrified by these types of attitudes. That's because the implicit associations we hold often don't align with our declared beliefs. As Cynthia Lee, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law, has explained, "the social science research demonstrates that one does not have to be a racist with a capital R, or one who intentionally discriminates on the basis of race, to harbor implicit racial biases."

Gandhi’s Strategy: (1) Noncooperation & (2) Constructive Program

To Gandhi, noncooperation was the nonviolent counterpart of guerrilla war while the constructive program was the counterpart of a parallel society from below similar to parallel hierarchies important in the Mexican, Chinese, and Viet Nam revolutions. He increasingly believed that noncooperation and withdrawal of consent, taken by themselves, were woefully ineffective, sometimes using the term useless, since they do not feed the hungry or permanently relieve the oppressed. Positive action was imperative to actually pursue social betterment and justice in every village. Nonetheless, he strongly believed that satyagraha was always available as necessary, and kept in mind its goal of conversion and moral transformation, not retribution. He rejected western materialist values and industrialism. But to achieve political independence, a fundamental and moral reconstruction of society from below was required which, to repeat, was centered on economic renewal of autonomous village life and sardovaya (social uplift for everyone).

Tips For Building A Mass Popular Movement

In the years since the demise of Occupy I’ve studied, retreated, questioned, all to try to gain insight into what went wrong. What could have made the movement, the organizing space more successful? What could have prevented the massive fallouts and unhealthy organizing culture that developed during Occupy? Yes, state repression played a huge role in cracking the movement’s infrastructure, but the cracks in the pavement had begun long before the police force viciously dismantled the park. As I see the same energy sweeping up across the country once again this time for a movement for racial justice, a cause even more important and personal to me than economic justices alone, I feel deeply compelled to share my learnings about how to sustain a popular mass movement. Here are a few. . .

What We Can Learn From Ella Baker In A Post-Ferguson Era

Baker would surely be impressed by the current wave of protest against racial justice. She would also urge the activists to make sure they transform their outrage into an ongoing movement that can survive beyond the immediate reaction to the epidemic of police abuses. That means building strong organizations that can identify and train young leaders, mobilize people around both short-term demands (such as videotaping police activities and ending local stop-and-frisk practices) and conduct campaigns for longer-term policy changes (such as repealing Stand Your Ground laws, sentencing reform, felon disenfranchisement, voter suppression, and living wages) at the national, state and local levels.

Grassroots Message Against Police Violence, & All Violence, Stands Firm

Our movements are nonviolent, and are not to blame for the killing of Officers Liu and Ramos. The peaceful demonstrations and direct actions carried out by tens of thousands of people of all ethnicities in recent months are born of a frustration with a system that guarantees impunity to state agents who kill young African American men. We will not be silenced. We hang this banner proudly on the Muste building, and we will continue to fill the streets with our feet and our voices, because racism and police violence are an affront to our values, and because we believe, as A.J. did, that persistent nonviolent protest will ultimately prevail in creating a more just world.

Attention Turns To Fracking’s Impact On Air Quality

Fracking's impacts on air quality took the spotlight this year, fueled by new research and broad media coverage. The modern shale boom has created a massive influx of oil-and-gas wells, compressor stations and other infrastructure that spew toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases into the air. The consequences for public health and climate change are increasingly recognized as serious issues, on par with the water contamination concerns that once dominated debates over the pros and cons of fracking. In mid-December, New York banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, within its borders, effectively closing off the state's shale gas resources to producers. New York's decision was based on a public health review which cited various health risks including "air impacts that could affect respiratory health due to increased levels of particulate matter, diesel exhaust, or volatile organic chemicals."

These Folks Feed Their Family With Garden In Their Swimming Pool

When Dennis and Danielle McClung bought a foreclosed home in Mesa, Ariz., in 2009, their new yard featured a broken, empty swimming pool. Instead of spending a small fortune to repair and fill it, Dennis had a far more prescient idea: He built a plastic cap over it and started growing things inside. Thus, with help from family and friends and a ton of internet research, Garden Pool was born. What was once a yawning cement hole was transformed into an incredibly prolific closed-loop ecosystem, growing everything from broccoli and sweet potatoes to sorghum and wheat, with chickens, tilapia, algae, and duckweed all interacting symbiotically to provide enough food to feed a family of five.

Top Climate Movement Victories Of 2014

There is a lot to feel good about as far as the U.S. climate movement and what we accomplished in 2014. Without question, we are heading into 2015 with some wind at our back and, to continue the relevant metaphor, the sun to light our way forward. In the order that I think were most important, here they are: 1. People’s Climate March, Sept. 21: How could anything else be more important than this? Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in New York City for action on climate, with many tens of thousands more around the U.S. and the world doing so in solidarity. Scores of constituencies were represented, from famous people to U.S. Senators to communities of color to trade unionists to a multi-faith religious contingent to tens of thousands of youth and so many more.

Despite Ban, Monsanto & Bayer GM Crops Contaminate Europe

Europe banned the cultivation of GM rapeseed, but new studies prove that genetically modified Brassica napus L. is growing all over Switzerland. This is likely the first study of its kind to prove that cross-contamination (or possible illegal seed spreading by Biotech and Monsanto) is a bigger problem than anyone may have suspected. The study published in PLoS is titled, “Unexpected Diversity of Feral Genetically Modified Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus L.) Despite a Cultivation and Import Ban in Switzerland.” Of 105 plants sampled, 15 contained the banned GMO rapeseed variety. Though this was considered a ‘small’ contamination rate in the study, there obviously should be no GM plants present at all considering the ban. This is concerning, too, since once GM seeds are introduced into the wild, they can continue to cultivate, interbreeding with non-GM, local plants.

The Prison State Of America

Our prison-industrial complex, which holds 2.3 million prisoners, or 25 percent of the world’s prison population, makes money by keeping prisons full. It demands bodies, regardless of color, gender or ethnicity. As the system drains the pool of black bodies, it has begun to incarcerate others. Women—the fastest-growing segment of the prison population—are swelling prisons, as are poor whites in general, Hispanics and immigrants. Prisons are no longer a black-white issue. Prisons are a grotesque manifestation of corporate capitalism. Slavery is legal in prisons under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States. …” And the massive U.S. prison industry functions like the forced labor camps that have existed in all totalitarian states.

As New York Bans Fracking, Calls For Moratorium In PA Grow Stronger

For the past several years, Pennsylvania has had a history of lax regulation of the shale rush and its impacts on drinking water. For example, in 2011, the state made national headlines for allowing shale wastewater laced with toxic and radioactive materials to be discharged after incomplete treatment into rivers and streams that were not capable of fully diluting the waste, according to internal EPA documents. Even now, toxic waste from the fracking industry is only tracked via industry self-reporting, which a Pittsburgh Post-Gazetteinvestigation found has led to major gaps in tracking and reporting. “I think there is a strong feeling in Pennsylvania that what happened in New York is in large part because of the demonstrated damage caused by gas production here,” said Myron Arnowitt, State Director of Clean Water Action. “It appears that the leadership in New York has been more responsive to what has been happening to Pennsylvanians than the leadership in Pennsylvania.”

Police Chief Explains Why He’s Not Arresting Protesters

As imperfect humans, we have a tendency to limit our association with other persons to those persons who are most like us. Unfortunately, there is even more of a human tendency to stay within our comfort zone by further narrowing those associations to those persons who share our thoughts and opinions. By doing this we can avoid giving consideration to thoughts and ideas different than our own. This would make us uncomfortable. By considering only the thoughts and ideas we are in agreement with, we stay in our comfort zone. Our own biases get reinforced and reflected back at us leaving no room for any opinion but our own. By doing this, we often convince ourselves that the majority of the world shares opinion and that anyone with another opinion is, obviously, wrong. I have to admit, I am somewhat puzzled by this announcement. None of the demonstrators in this city have in any way exhibited any propensity for violence or indicated, even verbally, that they would harm anyone. I can understand how you may feel that your ideologies have been questioned but I am not aware of any occurrence that would give reason for someone to feel physically threatened.

Cops Who Turned Their Backs On de Blasio Should Resign

Rank-and-file cops are upset with a moderately liberal mayor who has failed to offer unconditional support for the most savage acts of police brutality such as the chokehold death of Eric Garner. De Blasio’s innocuous comment that he has warned his Black teen-age son to be careful in his dealings with the police“who are there to protect him” has also become a source of simmering police anger. When members of the NYPD turned their backs again to de Blasio on Saturday, they expressed their disdain not just for the mayor, but for the residents of this majority people-of-color city who gave him his landslide victory last year. They also repudiated the basic democratic ideal that agents of the state who are given the legal power to walk around the city with 9mm semi-automatic pistols on their hips and arrest or even kill people when they deem it necessary should be answerable to civilian leaders, not the other way around.

Alumni Of Elite Israeli High School Call For Army Draft Refusal

Dozens of alumni and former staff members of an elite Jerusalem high school have stated their refusal to serve in the Israeli military, and call on future graduates of the Israel Arts and Sciences Academy to reject the draft. Conscientious objectors face prison time for refusing compulsory Israeli military conscription orders. “Refusing to serve in the Israeli military is not an easy choice, but a moral stance against a collective mood manifested in racism and violence on every street these days,” the letter, published yesterday, states. The racism and violence of this “collective mood” in Israel, encouraged by lawmakers who called for genocidal measures against Palestinians, reached a fevered pitch this summer as Israel’s bombs rained down on Gaza.
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