How Closing Public Schools Undermines Democracy

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By Jennifer Berkshire for AlterNet – Jennifer Berkshire: There’s been a lot of attention paid to how students who attended the schools Chicago closed down in 2013 are faring now. But you’ve been measuring a different kind of impact: what’s happened to those communities in terms of voter turnout and democratic participation. What are you finding? Sally Nuamah: We’re basically finding that support among the African American community for the Democratic Party, specifically in areas where closures occurred, decreased in a really substantial way. You actually see lower levels of participation, higher levels of negative attitudes toward people who are in the same parties in which most of these people identify, which is the Democratic Party. Beyond that, you see these communities are further losing population. There’s less will, or less faith, in the traditional public school system across this population, because they are afraid they’re going to be betrayed again, they’re going to have to move schools again, and that’s a very volatile situation. Then there is the economic piece, and the fact that the number of African American teachers in Chicago has declined by 40%.

Taking Back Power: Public Power As A Vehicle Towards Energy Democracy


By Johanna Bozuwa for The Next System Project – “We would line up all of our inhalers in a row on the benches before we would go run, just in case,” recounts Kristen Ethridge; an Indiana resident near some of the most polluting power plants in the country. Asthma rates are so bad from the toxic emissions that many students cannot make it through gym class without their inhalers. Cancer and infant mortality rates in the area are through the roof. These plants are owned by some of the biggest names in the utility business including groups like Duke Energy and AEP. Gibson Power Plant, the worst of them all, emits 2.9 million pounds of toxic compounds and 16.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. What’s more, most of the energy generated in these plants is transported out of state, leaving Indiana with all the emissions and very little gain. Indiana’s power plants provide a window into how our current electrical system works. It is a system dominated by a small number of large powerful companies, called investor-owned utilities. Their centralized fossil fuel plants are at the heart of our aging electricity grid—a core contributor to rapidly-accelerating climate change. The carbon emissions associated with these power providers are but one symptom of larger systemic issues in the sector. Investor-owned utilities are traditionally profit-oriented corporations whose structures are based on an paradigm of extraction.

Imagining A New Democracy With Participatory Budgeting

Courtesy of the Participatory Budgeting Project

By Maria Hadden for New America – In 2007, I thought the City of Chicago and I had a pretty good relationship. In 2008, I woke up from the little bit of the “American Dream” I thought I could achieve. As a black, queer woman growing up in low income family, it was less of a dream and more of a daydream, to be certain, but still a version of the middle class life promised to all “hard-working” Americans. But in the fall of 2007, I met my goal and purchased my first home. At the time it not only seemed to be a good idea because I wanted a place to settle down for a bit (rents were high and I had finally achieved some financial stability), but it was also, according to the dream, the thing I was supposed to do. Then the housing market crashed. Our developer fled the country, leaving all the residents in our 39 unit building to fend for ourselves. We had no one but each other to rely on for advice, support, and to take care of housing needs. So I began to organize in my community, starting with my neighbors. I learned the procedures and processes needed to keep our building afloat, and despite unfinished units, a leaking roof and an unpaid pile of bills, we made it work.

Anti-Government Popular Uprising Continues to Grow in Haiti

Demonstrators marching in Port au Prince from Haiti Liberty

By Kim Ives for Haiti Liberty. Massive, raucous demonstrations, sometime several times a week, have rocked Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and other provincial cities over the past two months and show no sign of subsiding, despite a lack of clear or unified leadership. Police repression of the demonstrators has grown as their calls have morphed from denouncing a tax-laden, fee-hiking, austerity budget proposed in early September to demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who came to power in February following controversial, anemic elections in November 2016. The neoliberal measures, featuring privatizations, public employee layoffs, and tariff reductions, included slashing gas subsidies which resulted in a 30% hike in transportation costs overnight. The Caracazo revolt led to the 1992 coup d’état attempt and subsequent 1998 election of Hugo Chavez. Similarly, Jovenel Moïse’s Washington-influenced budget proposes a host of taxes and fees on everything from drivers licenses, vehicle registrations, and passports to a 10,000 gourdes ($157US) annual tax on expatriate Haitians.

The Revolt That Shook The World


By Pete Dolack for The Indypendent. History does not travel in a straight line. I won’t argue against that sentence being a cliché. Yet it is still true. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t be still debating the meaning of Russia’s 1917 October Revolution on its centenary, and more than a quarter-century after its demise. Neither the Bolsheviks nor any other party played a direct role in the February revolution that toppled Tsar Nicholas II, for the leaders of those organizations were in exile abroad or in Siberia or in jail. Nonetheless, the tireless work of activists laid the groundwork. The Bolsheviks were a minority even among the active workers of Russia’s cities then…

Moral Courage, Redefining Progress And Myth Of Social Democracy

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By William Hawes for Counter Punch – The revolution will only come as a result of inner, mental transformation, as Krishnamurti foretold. Political movements may urge people towards an outward revolution of the economic structure, but ultimately, it is up to each one of us as individuals to awaken from the slumber that imperialism and capitalism has imposed on us. This is a huge problem in the West: expecting some sort of political party or savior to rearrange the structure of society, from the top down of the establishment, without a viable protest movement and without on-the-street citizen engagement. Liberal “progressives” are therefore attracted to social democracy. Piecemeal reform, led by establishment Democrats offering a “New New Deal” to industry and workers will most likely lead us to the slaughterhouse, to the bottomless pit Western civilization has been leading us for centuries. “Green capitalism” is another lie advanced by such mainstream social and environmental justice advocates and Democrats. There’s been a lot of talk among progressives and self-styled Leftists about social democracy. Bernie Sanders talked up social democracy on his campaign, heaping praise on the Scandinavian countries as models the US should emulate.

Congress Asks Pentagon To Prepare To Intervene In Venezuela


By Mision Verdad for TeleSur. The importance of the U.S. Congress in the country’s foreign policy matters is well known, just as it is the center of decision-making on finance and trade issues in relation to the corporate sector in general and, specifically, the military-industrial sector. In the U.S. Congress, important actors from outside the political bureaucracy play a decisive role in terms of lobbying and moving things along so as to favor their interests. In earlier articles, we reported how ExxonMobil has spared no expense to affect the focus of U.S. government policy decisions on Venezuela.

White Power Structure Grabs Control Of Jackson Schools


By Diane Ravitch. Jackson, MS – The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or worse. The parents and citizens of Jackson, Mississippi, organized to save their public schools from state takeover. They think that black people should have the same democratic rights as white people. But the past is never really past. The state stepped in to seize control and ousted the superintendent. Fortuitously, Betsy DeVos just have Mississippi millions of dollars to open charter schools. Sure looks like a conspiracy by mean-spirited whites people to dis-empower black people. Are there educational geniuses at the State Department of Education?

Catalans Strike Over Violent Crackdown On Independence Referendum

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By Staff of News 24 – Schools and some businesses also shut in a dramatic protest bound to further ratchet up fever-pitch tensions with Spain’s central government, as Madrid comes under growing international pressure to resolve its worst political crisis in decades. The Port of Barcelona reduced services to a minimum, and protesters stood on roads and highways across Catalonia, blocking traffic. On the AP7 highway linking Barcelona to France two youths set up a folding table and played chess. Catalan pro-separatist trade unions, schools and cultural institutions called for the stoppage to “vigorously condemn” the police response to the Sunday poll, in which regional authorities confirmed over 90 people were injured. Catalonia’s leader said 90 percent of voters backed independence from Spain, but the central government has vowed to stop the wealthy northeastern region — which accounts for a fifth of Spain’s economy — from breaking away, dismissing the poll as a “farce”. In Barcelona the Metro provided only minimum service and passengers travelled for free, while major tourist sites like the city’s emblematic Sagrada Familia Church were closed.

Catalan Parliament To Declare Independence Following 'Ves' Victory

Catalan president with his cabinet

By Jordi Bedmar for Catalan News.Catalan President Carles Puigdemont with the entire Catalan government, announced that “the right to be an independent state has been won.” He says the referendum will be communicated to the Catalan Parliament so that it can act according to the referendum legislation recently passed in the chamber, which states that independence will be unilaterally declared, should the “yes” vote win.

Despite Police Violence, Catalans Vote Today


By Popular Resistance. Spain – Catalonians across the region in Spain today voted on a referendum for independence in the face of often severe police violence by the Spanish civil guard. The vote was held even though Spain’s Constitutional Court declared it illegal. Despite being evenly split on the issue of independence, 70 percent of Catalonians favored holding a vote on the referendum as an expression of their democratic rights. Catalonia is a region around Barcelona. It has a distinct language and culture. The region is wealthy overall and makes up one fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product. The campaign for independence has been underway for a number of years.

#WeChoose Equity In Education Campaign


By Popular Resistance. Launched just after Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss was appointed in February, 2017, the #WeChoose campaign is fighting for equity in education. They write: “We are not fooled by the ‘illusion of school choice.’ The policies of the last twenty years, driven more by private interests than by concern for our children’s education, are devastating our neighborhoods and our democratic rights. Only by organizing locally and coming together nationally will we build the power we need to change local, state, and federal policy and win back our public schools. School closings are a key issue now because if our communities don’t have schools, we will have little to fight for. But if we only fight against closings, we won’t succeed at building the kind of sustainable school transformation that will carry us forward.

East Oakland Community Launches Major New Organizing Initiative


By Causa Justa. OAKLAND — Six of East Oakland’s most prominent community organizations will convene hundreds of East Oakland residents at a massive Community Assembly on Saturday, September 30. This umbrella organization—known as the East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods—is being formed because neighborhood residents are fed up with a lack of action on extremely pressing problems in East Oakland including the housing crisis and homelessness, illegal dumping, gun violence, prostitution and many more.

Hundreds Of Simultaneous Rallies In Catalonia “For Democracy”

Richard Wellings‏/Twitter

By Guifré Jordan for Catalan News – Hundreds of town squares in Catalonia have been filled by crowds of people wanting to defend “democracy” this Sunday morning. The main pro-independence organizations in the country arranged demonstrations in hundreds of towns in order to stand up for the referendum. In some of them, protesters hung pro-referendum posters in a challenge to Spain, which has branded as illegal any act to promote the vote. In Barcelona some 1 million official ballots were distributed by rally organizers and students. This is yet an even bigger challenge, after the Spanish prosecutor has set its focus on the entities calling people to protest last Wednesday, after the raids of some 20 government buildings. “The Spanish government are acting the same as the Franco dictatorship.” Some 100,000 ballots were distributed outside the main Barcelona University building and the rest given away in several squares of the Catalan capital. One of the highlights of the rally in Barcelona was the Catalan Parliament president’s unexpected visit. “The Spanish government talks about democracy, but they are acting the same as the Franco dictatorship,” she said to the crowd. “They think that by putting us away they’ll be done with our ideas, but democracy will always triumph,” she added.

Report: Inaugural People’s Congress Of Resistance


By Peoples Congress of Resistance. Washington, DC – On Sept. 16-17, the People’s Congress of Resistance movement was inaugurated with a mass convening of grassroots organizers and front line resistors at Howard University. All told, 727 delegates from 38 states and 160 towns and cities came to Washington, D.C., to discuss the People’s Congress of Resistance manifesto “Society for the Many: A Vision for Revolution,” to share organizing experiences to take back home, to express solidarity with each other and to resolve on common projects and actions for the future.