By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – As the Trump administration works to dismantle environmental regulations protecting American waterways, New Zealand has recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person. On Wednesday, New Zealand Parliament passed the Te Awa Tupua Bill which states that the river is “an indivisible and living whole,” making it the world’s first river to be given this special designation. The river has been granted the ability to represent itself through human representatives, one appointed by the Whanganui Iwi (Maori people) and one by the Crown (government of New Zealand), Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson explained to Newshub.
By Theodora Kotsaka for Transform Europe – Nicos Poulantzas Institute is working on Commons during the last four years, focusing on areas as water and its management as a common good, digital commons and applied policies on Commons related to productions model transformation. D. Bollier’s speech was organized in order to complete the picture by referring to the argent need of reinventing a law for the Commons. In countries around the world, Bollier noted, a burgeoning ‘Commons Sector’ is developing effective, ecological alternatives to the increasingly dysfunctional market/state system. Commons are developing new types of food-growing and -distribution systems, alternative currencies to retain community value, platform co-operatives for online sharing, multistakeholder co-ops, open design and manufacturing systems, land trusts, co-learning projects, and much else.
By Gloria La Riva for the Central Committee of the PSL – Lynne Stewart, a revolutionary and people’s lawyer who fought for political defendants often persecuted by the system, and who herself was imprisoned for her principled advocacy of others, died on March 7. The Party for Socialism and Liberation extends our deepest solidarity and condolences to her lifelong partner Ralph Poynter and her entire family. Stewart was fervently dedicated to the cause of prisoners, both those behind bars for their political beliefs as well as the victims of mass incarceration and criminalization of the poor. Stewart gained the admiration and solidarity of many in the progressive and revolutionary movement because she not only fought valiantly in the courts but above all, was a true radical activist.
By Dave Johnson for Our Future – The offices of other House Republicans who represent districts in southern California, like Mimi Walters of Irvine, Darrell Issa of Vista, Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach and Steve Knight of Santa Clarita, are regularly being swarmed with protesters. According to another Los Times Times article…About 200 people gathered outside the office of Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) last week and couldn’t get inside. Walters spokeswoman Abigail Sigler said that the congresswoman was in Washington at the time and that the office doors were locked because members of the group “have repeatedly harassed the congresswoman’s staff,” including on Twitter.
By Editor of Counter Currents – Since the Reagan administration’s ascent to power in 1981, thousands of American citizens have engaged in various forms of non-violent civil resistance activities in order to protest against distinct elements of U.S. foreign policy that violate basic principles of international law. These citizen protests have led to numerous arrests and prosecutions by federal, state, and local governments around the country. The author has given advice, counsel and assistance to individuals and groups who have engaged in acts of non-violent civil resistance directed against several aspects of the U.S. government’s foreign policy: the Nuclear Freeze Movement, the Sanctuary Movement, the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Plowshares, and the Pledge of Resistance, among others
By Sarah Cronin for Activist Post – Indiana passed a bill on Wednesday that authorizes police officers to shut down highway protesting “by any means necessary.” S.B. 285, as it is known, obliges a public official to dispatch all available officers within 15 minutes of discovering any assembly of 10 or more people who are obstructing vehicle traffic. The bill then authorizes the responding officers to clear roads “by any means necessary.” Critics are calling it the “Block Traffic and You Die” bill, an apt name for a bill that has co-opted the phrase “any means necessary,” used famously in speech delivered by Malcolm X during the Civil Rights movement, turning it into a threat against government dissent (with no apparent awareness of the irony).
By Kiana Herold for IC – Indigenous battles to defend nature have taken to the streets, leading to powerful mobilizations like the gathering at Standing Rock. They have also taken to the courts, through the development of innovative legal ways of protecting nature. In Ecuador, Bolivia and New Zealand, indigenous activism has helped spur the creation of a novel legal phenomenon—the idea that nature itself can have rights. The 2008 constitution of Ecuador was the first national constitution to establish rights of nature. In this legal paradigm shift, nature changed from being held as property to a rights-bearing entity. Rights are typically given to actors who can claim them—humans—but they have expanded especially in recent years to non-human entities such as corporations, animals and the natural environment.
By John Zangas for DC Media Group – The Obama Administration is presently considering a reroute of the pipeline away from the planned pipeline tunnel under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Reservation. Obama spoke on November 2, saying the Army Corps of Engineers is considering a reroute because of the unrest. But Elders say the project route has already destroyed burial sites and whatever river crossing is chosen, it will still cross the Missouri upstream, potentially affecting the reservation and millions dependent on the river.
By Alex Emmons for The Intercept – IN A ROBUST RULING in favor of Abu Ghraib detainees, an appellate court ruled Friday that torture is such a clear violation of the law that it is “beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful.” The ruling from a unanimous panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates a lawsuit against a military contractor for its role in the torture of four men at the notorious prison in Iraq.
By Chris Hamby for BuzzFeed News – In a remote tropical forest in Indonesia’s Spice Islands, villagers planned their last stand. A foreign gold-mining company was preparing to gouge out a massive pit from the mountain that had sustained these farmers and fishermen for generations. To protect their way of life, the villagers planned to hike to the summit and refuse to leave.
By Zaid Jilani for The Intercept – GRAPHIC VIDEO ILLUSTRATING gruesome police killings of African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota has set off promises of a federal investigation, at least in the former case, but many are skeptical that it will lead to any prosecutions. Police involved in even these high-profile cases of abuse have rarely faced successful indictments, let alone prosecutions. However, at the federal level, a simple change to the law would make it more likely that abusive cops face punishment for their behavior.
By Nina Martin for Pro Publica – Sixteen months after her arrest, Katie Darovitz — one of at least 500 women prosecuted under Alabama’s toughest-in-the-nation chemical endangerment law — has had her case dismissed. Darovitz’s story, first chronicled by ProPublica last year, was especially wrenching: She has severe epilepsy, and doctors told her that the medications she was using to treat her condition carry a risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
By Kumaran Ira for WSWS – As strikes and protests mount across France, social opposition to the unpopular labour reform imposed last week by Socialist party government without a parliamentary vote by using article 49.3 of the French constitution last week, is escalating. The pro-business law allow unions and bosses to negotiate contracts violating France’s Labour Code, lengthen the work week, facilitate mass sackings, and undermine job security for young new hires. Denouncing the PS government’s regressive reforms and anti-democratic method, hundreds of thousands of workers and youth protested the law for the second time this week yesterday.
By Bill Quigley for Social Justice Advocacy – New Orleans Criminal Court Judge Arthur Hunter, a former police officer, ruled that seven people awaiting trial in jail without adequate legal defense must be released. The law is clear. The US Supreme Court, in their 1963 case Gideon v Wainwright, ruled that everyone who is accused of a crime has a Constitutional right a lawyer at the state’s expense if they cannot afford one. However, Louisiana, in the middle of big budget problems, has been disregarding the constitutional right of thousands of people facing trial in its most recent statewide public defender meltdown
By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – Three members of Congress have asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Shell Oil Co. violated securities laws by failing to adequately disclose material business risks from climate change. Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by California Democrat Ted Lieu, said in a letter to the SEC that Shell understood the consequences of climate change and made business decisions based on that knowledge.