By Jeff Mackler for Counter Punch. Pennsylvania - On Mumia Abu-Jamal’s birthday, April 24, about 125 demonstrators mobilized outside Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas in solidarity with Mumia’s effort to reverse his 1982 frame-up murder conviction and win a new trial that could lead to his freedom. Mumia Abu-Jamal is perhaps the world’s best known political prisoner. He has been imprisoned for 36 years, and was on death row for 30 of those years. His fight for a new trial and freedom has been supported by organizations ranging from Amnesty International and the NAACP to the European Parliament and scores of national and local trade unions and city governments in the U.S. and abroad. Represented by Judy Ritter, Mumia’s Philadelphia-based attorney, and Christina Swarms, of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, Mumia petitioned the court for a new Post Conviction Relief Act hearing based on last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Williams v. Pennsylvania.
By Chelsea Manning for the Guardian. When the prison tried to break one of us, we all stood up. We looked out for each other. When they tried to divide us, and systematically discriminated against us, we embraced our diversity and pushed back. But, I also learned from all of you when to pick my battles. I grew up and grew connected because of the community you provided. For many of you, you are already free and living outside of the prison walls. Many of you will come home soon. Some of you still have many years to go. The most important thing that you taught me was how to write and how to speak in my own voice. I used to only know how to write memos. Now, I write like a human being, with dreams, desires and connections. I could not have done it without you. From where I am now, I still think of all of you. When I leave this place in May, I will still think of all of you. And to anyone who finds themselves feeling alone behind bars, know that there is a network of us who are thinking of you. You will never be forgotten.
By Jeremy Brecher for Waging Nonviolence. As the thousands of foot-weary protesters leave the April 29 Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C. — and its scores of sister marches around the country — one question will no doubt be foremost on their minds: How can a march, or indeed any other action they take, force a reversal in the world’s hurtle to climate doom? After all, a single march, no matter how large, is not going to force President Trump and his administration of fossil-fuel company executives and climate-change deniers to reverse course. They have already cancelled the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, authorized drilling and mining on public lands, and gutted regulations that protect local people and environments against the extraction of fossil fuels. He has cleared the way for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. His allies in Congress are whetting their knives to gut the Clean Air, Clean Water and Environmental Policy Acts. The fossil fuel industry is lining up for permits to build new infrastructure that will accelerate global warming and threaten local environments to boot.
By John Zangas of DC Media Group. Washington, DC - Hundreds of grassroots environmental groups from around the country rallied Saturday at the U.S. Capitol in a mass march against administration plans to deregulate environmental protections. Among their demands: respect the environment, stop denying climate change exists, continue policies to protect the water and air, and don’t strip EPA regulations. The broad-based coalition linked climate change to fossil energy extraction as not only the cause of the present period of massive ice melt and species extinction, but also as a nexus to the oppression of minorities and indigenous people. There were over 350 sister marches held in many major cities across the U.S. Tens of thousands walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, with indigenous people leading the way, past a barricaded Trump International Hotel.
By Susan Phillios for State Impact-NPR. Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania residents protesting the construction of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline across their land now face arrest on their own property due to a rarely imposed court order known as a “writ of possession.” Common Pleas Court judge George Zanic signed the order last week, which Sunoco had sought as an “emergency measure” in response to the landowners tree-sitting on their property. Ellen and Stephen Gerhart in Huntingdon, Pa., along with their daughter Elyse, have become outspoken critics of the pipeline and the use of eminent domain by the company to take possession of land along the 350 mile route. Elyse Gerhart says the tree-sitting began in early February, after Sunoco secured the permits from the Department of Environmental Protection to begin construction. She would not say how many people were participating in the protest, but said she herself had been up in the trees. Although the Gerharts’ challenge to the eminent domain takings are making their way through the appeals courts, the company can begin building. Recent efforts to seek a stay in construction failed. “We’re seriously looking at going to jail,” said Elyse Gerhart.
By Glenn Greenwald for the Intercept. It’s almost impossible to imagine a presidency imploding more completely and rapidly than the unelected one imposed by elites on the Brazilian population in the wake of Dilma’s impeachment. The disgust validly generated by all of these failures finally exploded this week. A nationwide strike, and tumultuous protests in numerous cities, today has paralyzed much of the country, shutting roads, airports and schools. It is the largest strike to hit Brazil in at least two decades. The protests were largely peaceful, but some random violence emerged. The proximate cause of the anger is a set of “reforms” that the Temer government is ushering in that will limit the rights of workers, raise their retirement age by several years, and cut various pension and social security benefits. These austerity measures are being imposed at a time of great suffering, with the unemployment rate rising dramatically and social improvements of the last decade, which raised millions of people out of poverty, unravelling. As the New York Times put it today: “The strike revealed deep fissures in Brazilian society over Mr. Temer’s government and its policies.”
By Amie Stepanovich for Access Now. In the final years of the Obama Administration, we frequently took issue with the negative impact the administration’s actions were having on our human rights, tackling issues from surveillance to encryption and beyond. However, nothing we saw then could have prepared us for what we have witnessed in the first few months of 2017. Simply put, when President Trump hits the 100th day benchmark on Saturday, April 29, he and his administration will have taken — or prepared to take — a series of actions with massive negative consequences for human rights all around the globe, some of which will darken the U.S. human rights record for generations to come. Below we detail five that are related to our mission of defending and extending the digital rights of users at risk, and describe what we’re doing to fight back.
By Robert J. Barsocchini for Counter Currents. it is an American “myth” that the “North Korean Army suddenly attacked without warning, overwhelming surprised ROK defenders.” In fact, the North/South border “had been progressively militarized and there had been numerous cross border incursions by both sides going back to 1949.” Part of what made the US’s ultimate destruction of Korea (which involved essentially a colossal version of one of the cross-border incursions) “inevitable” was the goal of US planners to access or control “global… resources, markets and cheaper labor power”. In its full invasion of the North, the US acted under the banner of the United Nations. However, the UN at that time was “largely under the control of the United States”, and as Professor Carl Boggs (PhD political science, UC Berkeley) puts it, essentially was the United States. (28) While it is still today the world’s most powerful military empire, the US was then at the peak of its global dominance – the most concentrated power-center in world history.
By Peter Linebaugh for Counterpunch. The constitution of the U.S.A. began when an assembly of rich white bankers, lawyers, and slave owners gathered behind closed doors in Philadelphia in 1787. They organized a government which in the first instance monopolized money-making and war-making and in the second instance did so with a series of legal mechanisms to minimize democracy – the Electoral College, the 3/5s clause, the Senate, the Supreme Court – so familiar to us. They were led by “the father of the constitution,” a man owning more than a hundred slaves, James Madison. He makes clear the fear that underlay this constitution; it was omnia sunt communia. The states ratified this constitution over the next two years in no small part because of the tireless efforts of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison collected in The Federalist Papers. The tenth of these papers tells it all. There Madison expresses his fear of “theoretic politicians,” that is, those who advocated an “agrarian law” or equalization of land, those who favored “perfect equality,” those who were “equalized in their possessions.” In brief, the U.S.A. was to become a massive state against the commons. This was an appeal to the men of property, the men of private property, the men who commanded property as capital.
By Staff for Zoom in Korea. The residents of Seongju and Gimcheon were caught off guard when the United States Forces Korea and the South Korean Defense Ministry forced key parts of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system into the former Lotte Skyhill Golf Course in the early morning hours of April 26. Many of the THAAD parts, including the AN/TPY-2 radar, are believed to have been transported into the deployment site. Below is a minute by minute breakdown of the conflict. The environmental impact assessment has yet to be completed, they also noted, yet the key THAAD components have already been transported into the deployment site. A total of 12 protesters sustained injuries and were escorted to the hospital in ambulances. The Defense Ministry reportedly told the South Korean media that it plans to transport the remainder of the THAAD components into the deployment site by the end of this year.
By Alex Emmons for The Intercept. Texas - Award-winning journalist Barrett Brown was re-arrested and taken into custody Thursday, the day before he was scheduled to be interviewed for a PBS documentary. Brown quickly became a symbol of the attack on press freedom after he was arrested in 2012 for reporting he did on the hacked emails of intelligence-contracting firms. Brown wrote about hacked emails that showed the firm Stratfor spying on activists on behalf of corporations. Brown also helped uncover a proposal by intelligence contractors to hack and smear WikiLeaks defenders and progressive activists. Faced with the possibility of 100 years in prison, Brown pleaded guilty in 2014 to two charges related to obstruction of justice and threatening an FBI agent, and was sentenced to five years and 3 months.
By Anne Meador of DC Media Group. What could be better for breakfast than sweet potato pie? Employees of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission got a free piece of sweet potato pie on their way to work this morning when a group of activists tried to make a point about a pipeline’s potential impact on the North Carolina sweet potato crop. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a project of Dominion Transmission and Duke Energy, is currently under review by FERC. The activists say the ACP, which would traverse 550 miles from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina, would, among other things, harm agricultural producers, such as sweet potato farmers in eastern North Carolina.
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams. Representing the communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, activists are forming a "red line" in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Friday, vowing to stand firm "against the corporations and politicians driving the extractive economy" and their increasing assaults on people and planet. "We draw a red line through the militarization of the federal budget, and the rising wars at home and abroad, and the 'dig, burn, dump' economy," declares protest organizer It Takes Root in its call-to-action. "We hold a red line to defend our environment, our homes, our families and our future generations."
By James E. Rabbitt, III. This May Day (Monday, May 1, 2017), workers worldwide are invited to participate in an unprecedented call for global unity demanding that all full-time workers are paid a living wage by means of a May Day General Strike, which transcends borders and all other divides among fellow workers. The success of this event is dependent upon word of mouth and social media to invite others who will collectively stand together in solidarity to end the unjustifiable inhumane suffering and exploitation of underpaid workers everywhere. This act of global unity to improve the quality of life for millions, possibly even billions, of people can be held at every place of employment, with workers determining which type of strike is best suited for their unique workplace (i.e. sick-ins, picketing, good work strikes, etc.).