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Democracy

It’s Not The Conflict In Ukraine, Our Food System Is Broken

Much attention is being given to the impacts the conflict in Ukraine and the US sanctions on Russia will have on our food supply this year, but farmer Jim Goodman, president of the National Family Farm Coalition, explains why our food system has been in crisis for a long time. Goodman discusses how the causes of the broken food system - corporatization, consolidation, a rigid supply chain and the climate crisis - are all coming together to make farmers reconsider whether it even makes sense to plant crops. He also explains that farmers could feed the world in ways that are good for our health and for the planet, but this requires returning control to the small farmers and communities throughout the world.

How Citizens’ Assemblies Are Revitalizing Democracy

Threats to our democracy are two-fold: a growth of support for authoritarianism by some and the withdrawal from and lack of engagement in political activity by others. Both trends stem from people’s loss of trust in their government and belief that officials don’t represent and serve them. Neither escalating partisan conflict nor escapism are solutions. However one fresh tactic is increasingly being used to establish broad dialogue, actively engage citizens in policy decisions and thereby revitalize democracy. Citizens’ assemblies have a long history, from ancient Athens and Rome to Rousseau’s Geneva and Vermont’s annual town halls. Rather than bringing all residents of a particular jurisdiction together, recently leaders have turned to selecting representative demographic samples of the population using the technique of “sortition.”

The Summit Of The Americas: The Things No One Wants To Talk About

The Summit of the Americas has begun in Los Angeles and the Tower of Babel that Biden built is already tottering. Since June 6, the civil society forums have been in session and clashes between those who support the hegemonic role of the United States and those who defend the sovereignty of the Latin American peoples have not ceased. In these spaces, the discourse of hatred towards those arbitrarily excluded by the U.S. government has prevailed. It was a scenario prepared down to the smallest detail since not only were the governments of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela excluded, but their civil society representatives. At this point, the most visible case is the 23 Cuban artists, scientists, and social leaders whose visas were not processed to prevent them from attending the Peoples’ Summit. The objective is to make the reality of Cuba and the other states invisible, to replace it with a different one that justifies the permanent aggressions these peoples suffer. That’s why the organizers have invited other political actors, disguised as civil society activists, whose speeches are not only in line with the U.S. policy of interference but are designed in the State Department or the office of some Senators and Congressmen.

Let Them Eat (Jubilee) Cake

When Marie Antoinette discovered her subjects were facing a bread shortage and starvation in around 1789, due to multiple poor crop harvests and rodent infestations, she apparently exclaimed ‘let them eat cake!’ Her hereditary privilege meant she had no grasp of the severity of their suffering, or the fact that cake was much more expensive than bread to produce. Inequality during this period, immediately before the French revolution, was very high. Historians have estimated that around 90 per cent of working-class families lived at or below subsistence level, meaning they could only afford bare necessities. Marie Antoinette’s comment made her a symbol of hatred, which fueled the French revolution and the fall of the monarchy.

Shut Up And Work!

Unionization drives at Amazon warehouses and Starbucks locations have attracted months of national media attention. During 2021 workers and union organizers at the Bessemer, Ala. Amazon warehouse and at several Starbucks stores in Buffalo, N.Y. described—and decried—management’s suppression of pro-union speech through intensified surveillance of workers and threats of retaliation. Starbucks workers were suddenly accompanied on their shifts by managers chatting them up about the risks of unionization while they cleaned the espresso machines and bagged up the trash. A mailbox installed outside the Amazon warehouse was sheltered by an Amazon tent and within view of Amazon security cameras, causing workers to doubt whether their mail-in ballots were really secret.

A Factory Without Bosses: Voices from Indorca, Part I

Industrias del Orinoco, C.A. (Indorca) is a factory without bosses in the industrial city of Puerto Ordaz in Bolívar state, the home of Venezuela’s basic industries. Indorca’s workers carried out a heroic three-year struggle to gain control of the factory after the former owner brought it to a halt. Since 2015, when Venezuela’s Ministry of Labor extended a mandate giving the workers control over Indorca, the enterprise has been democratically managed by the women and men who produce here day in and day out. In Part I of this two-part interview, the workers of Indorca tell us about their fight to keep the former bosses from dismantling the factory and regaining control of the plant. In Part II we will learn about the struggle to maintain the factory afloat in a sanctioned country and also about Indorca’s educational initiatives.

Venezuela Launches Tech Platform To Quickly Improve Public Services

The Venezuelan government launched a new app-based initiative to address deteriorated public services that will facilitate a more direct means of communication between the citizenry and the government. President Nicolás Maduro toured the headquarters of a newly-opened rapid-response center, located inside the presidential palace of Miraflores on Saturday, saying the new system would “show the complaint, show the process and show the result, so that people can see processes and results.” Maduro said the aim was to break with the bureaucracy that often serves to delay a quick resolution, adding that issues related to water, education, and healthcare would be given priority.

Colombia: Groups Launch Electoral Mission To Monitor Human Rights

Cali, Colombia - AfroResistance and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance have launched an international electoral expert mission to monitor human rights processes during the upcoming Colombian presidential election. The delegation consists of human rights experts, racial and gender justice activists, grassroots organizers, cultural workers, attorneys, and journalists, gathered to assess and monitor the safety, fairness and human rights protection in the upcoming Colombia primary elections taking place Sunday, May 29th, 2022. AfroResistance, an advocacy and solidarity building organization focused on the human rights of Black Women and Girls throughout the Americas and Grassroots Global Justice, **a multi-racial, multi-sectoral alliance building a grassroots movement for peace, democracy and a sustainable world, has assembled a team of experts that have all been accredited by the Colombian electoral authorities.

Marcos Family Returns To Power In The Philippines

36 years after a popular revolution overthrew the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines on May 9 elected the former dictator’s son to the presidency. According to the partial vote count released by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) at 98% reporting, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, also known as Bongbong Marcos, is set to win the presidency by securing around 60% of the popular votes counted so far. Bongbong’s running mate Sara Duterte, daughter of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte, also won the vice-president’s post with over 61% of the popular votes in total. The marathon round of elections had a turnout of over 80% from among the 67 million eligible voters, electing thousands of officials and legislatures at the national, state and local levels.

Colombia: Progressive Leaders Reject Suspension Of The Mayor Of Medellín

The Colombian Inspector General’s Office, on May 10, suspended the mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, from his position for his alleged political participation in the upcoming presidential elections. The decision provoked a widespread political uproar. Several progressive leaders condemned the decision and accused the Inspector General of siding with the ruling right-wing party and breaking the American Convention on Human Rights that states that an administrative entity cannot suspend an official elected by citizens’ votes. The Inspector General’s Office suspended Quintero for a video that he published on Twitter on May 10, in which he pushes the gear lever of a car towards first and says “the change in first.”

Filipinos Fight For Democracy

New York City, New York - Starting the morning of Monday, May 9, Filipinos and allies across the tri-state area began hosting a vigil outside of the Consulate General of the Philippines. They committed to stay until the results of a historic election were announced. The Northeast Vigil for Democracy was one of dozens across the U.S. calling for a fair election as Filipinos voted for a variety of different positions. All eyes are on the presidency as two main candidates fight it out - Bongbong Marcos and Leni Robredo. While Marcos ran on a robust social media campaign based on rewriting history of his family, Robredo brought forward the people in effort to affect positive change. At 7 p.m. that day, a rally began with close to 100 protesters.

Public Universities Need More Democracy, Not More Administrators

The current crisis in higher education leadership is on full display at California State University (CSU) — the nation’s largest four-year public university system. Take the case of former CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro. Castro’s problems began with an underling — Fresno State’s Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Lamas — who was the subject of ongoing sexual harassment complaints and investigations. In 2018, Castro “enthusiastically” nominated his colleague to become the next president of CSU San Marcos. But later, as complaints about his VP’s behavior avalanched, Castro authorized a $260,000 payout and retirement package for the troubled subordinate. The sweetheart deal included a glowing recommendation letter. That’s golden parachute number one.

Earth Overshoot Demands Stronger Civic Infrastructure

The challenges we face from climate change, extreme weather, biodiversity loss, and all the other symptoms of “Earth overshoot” are, in part, civic challenges. Our ability to respond effectively is complicated by rampant misinformation and the absence of safe spaces for informed, participatory planning. Older forms of public engagement—attending conventional “three minutes at the microphone” public meetings, signing petitions, writing letters to the editor—are insufficient for meeting these challenges and out of step with how Americans live today. If we want to achieve better environmental resilience, we need to upgrade our civic infrastructure. What do I mean by that? In Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy, Tina Nabatchi and I defined civic infrastructure as “the laws, processes, institutions, and associations that support regular opportunities for people to connect with each other, solve problems, make decisions, and celebrate community.”

Democratizing Mississippi’s Electric Cooperatives

In 1932, only about 10% of rural America was electrified, as big energy companies had long avoided investing in rural areas for fear it wasn't profitable. New Deal legislation offering federal assistance to Americans living without electricity led to the formation of electric cooperatives. Thanks to their efforts, 90% of homes, businesses and farms in rural America were electrified by 1936. Co-ops are not-for-profit and made up of member-owners — community members who share collective ownership of the company from which they also receive electricity, and nowadays sometimes internet service as well. Co-ops are governed by a board of directors who are elected by member-owners to make policy decisions. Today there are more than 900 electric co-ops across the U.S. powering more than 20 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms.

Digital Ecosocialism: Breaking The Power Of Big Tech

In the space of a few years, the debate on how to rein in Big Tech has become mainstream, discussed across the political spectrum. Yet, so far the proposals to regulate largely fail to address the capitalist, imperialist and environmental dimensions of digital power, which together are deepening global inequality and pushing the planet closer to collapse. We urgently need to build a ecosocialist digital ecosystem, but what would that look like and how can we get there? This essay aims to highlight some of the core elements of a digital socialist agenda — a Digital Tech Deal (DTD) — centered on principles of anti-imperialism, class abolition, reparations and degrowth that can transition us to a 21st century socialist economy.
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