Spokes On The Anti-Austerity Wheel

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If we want to envision an anti-austerity movement that can genuinely empower people, we will have to create one that moves beyond austerity altogether. The contraction of capital, the latest stage in the perpetual crisis of the free market, is happening again. This time it is feeding on the oxygenated blood of the working poor. In an effort to solve the false problem of the national debt, and in response to the first-world depression that was inflicted on the people by the banking class, austerity measures are being implemented in the U.S. from the blueprint established in the European Union. Austerity, cleanly put, is how a welfare state attempts to respond to the internal debt it has accumulated.

New Documentary From Occupy The Farm

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Independent filmmaker Todd Darling has created a stunning documentary about the Farm and the power of direct action. It has been picked up by the largest theater owner in the nation, Regal Cinemas, and opens November 7th, in Berkeley! It will play for two weeks here before heading to LA and NYC. The Gill Tract Community Farm is flourishing! A 1.5 acre UC/Community collaborative pilot project is flourishing and growing on the Gill Tract. A recent blitz of love and energy from the Permaculture Action Tour brought over 300 farmers to install a medicinal garden mandala and permaculture beds.Check out this blog for a peek into that day.

7 Cities Expose What Gentrification Is Doing

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Twenty-five years ago, the term “gentrification” was largely unfamiliar to the average American. Today, you can’t talk about cities, race, rent or overpriced coffee without bringing it up. It’s a hard phenomenon to measure, yet most agree its harbingers include the rapid influx of young, well-to-do white people into once low-income neighborhoods, often in the inner city, usually populated by people of color. The rest is history. Said people show up, the area is flooded with resources, property value goes up and many former residents are forced to move out. We’ve seen such systems before, those which literally move poor people around, in and out of their homes, at the behest of the wealthy. It’s usually called “colonialism.” And it’s not an inaccurate comparison. This dynamic came to a head last week when a group of Dropbox employees in San Francisco’s notoriously gentrifying Mission District tried to kick a group of local kids off a soccer field they had reserved.

Coalition Sues EPA Over Herbicide Approval

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San Francisco, CA – A coalition of farmers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today on behalf of six Midwest states where a toxic herbicide cocktail called Dow’s Enlist Duo, a blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D, was approved on October 15 for use on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Approved for use on GE corn and soybeans that were engineered to withstand repeated applications of the herbicide, the creation of 2,4-D-resistant crops and EPA’s approval of Enlist Duo is the result of an overuse of glyphosate, an ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. The misuse resulted in an infestation of glyphosate-resistant super weeds which can now be legally combatted with the more potent 2,4-D.

Plutocrats On The Defensive Against Social Justice Movements

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What is it like to be a billionaire in the United States? According to billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins, wealth is a burden made “unbearable” by people of lesser incomes when they demand equality. That was the narrative published by the corporate news machine at the Wall Street Journal. Taking time away from maintaining the world’s largest luxury yacht, Perkins compared progressive movements seeking social and economic justice to the horrific persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany. Sensible people were quick to denounce such ludicrous comparisons with the Holocaust. But Perkins’s fellow oligarchs continue endorsing the narrative of a “hard-working” class of wealthy people “under siege” by a “lazy” class of poor people. According to billionaires like Sam Zell and Wilbur Ross, they are being targeted by poor people jealous of what they have and incapable of working as hard as they do.

Open Access Week: Celebrate The Knowledge Commons

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This week marks the eighth annual Open Access Week, which champions scholarly work being made part of the “knowledge commons” for the benefit of all. Many scholarly articles, though they may be publicly funded, remain restricted as a result of paywalls or copyright restrictions. These barriers, critics charge, thwart the advancement and sharing of knowledge—and that hurts everyone, not just those in academic fields. As the Open Access Week website states: Open Access to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted.

Activists Demand Comprehensive Federal Data On Americans Killed By Police

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Activists who mobilized after the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown said Wednesday they have collected 200,000 signatures backing their demand that federal agencies address a nationwide trend of police violence with major reforms — including the collection and release of comprehensive data on how many Americans are killed by law enforcement officers each year. In the aftermath of Brown’s Aug. 9 death following what police say was an altercation with an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, rights groups and researchers have complained of a startling lack of official national figures on police killings.

Amnesty Int'l: Ferguson Police Committed Human Rights Abuses During Protests

Police, fire tear gas in the direction of where bottles were thrown from crowds gathered near the QuikTrip on W. Florissant Avenue on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Police fired the tear gas after they were shot at by someone concealed in brush near the QuikTrip and rocks has struck members of the tactical team.   Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Oct 24 (Reuters) – Police in Ferguson, Missouri, committed human rights abuses as they sought to quell mostly peaceful protests that erupted after an officer killed an unarmed black teenager, an international human rights organization said in a report released on Friday. The Amnesty International report said law enforcement officers should be investigated by U.S. authorities for the abuses, which occurred during weeks of racially charged protests that erupted after white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9. The use by law enforcement of rubber bullets, tear gas and heavy military equipment and restrictions placed on peaceful protesters all violated international standards, the group said.

Ferguson Protester: It Will 'Never Be The Same' If Darren Wilson Isn't Indicted

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FERGUSON, Mo. — Five people, including a legal observer who said he was simply walking back to his car, were arrested outside the Ferguson Police Department Wednesday night as protesters gathered to call for the arrest of Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. The officer’s case is currently being reviewed by a grand jury, which must decide whether or not to indict Wilson by January 2015, though a decision expected within the next several weeks. Amid rampant speculation that the jury will side with Wilson, protesters on site predicted more turmoil in Ferguson in the event of an acquittal. Authorities estimated that about 200 people gathered outside the Police Department Wednesday.

UN Says Water Is A Human Right In Detroit

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Representatives from the United Nations spent a few days in Detroit earlier this week looking into the spate of utility shutoffs that left thousands of poor households in the city this year without water to bathe and cook by. The two special rapporteurs — one on “the human right to water and sanitation,” the other on “adequate housing” — were invited to town not by the city, but by community groups that have been advocating for the poor. And their conclusion reinforces what concerned on-lookers have been saying since this summer: “When people are genuinely unable to pay the bill,” the U.N. says, the state is obligated to step up with financial assistance and subsidies. “Not doing so amounts to a human rights violation.”

EU Leaders Pull Handbrake On Clean Energy

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Brussels – Despite considerable opposition by some governments, in the early hours of Friday morning EU leaders agreed three targets for carbon emission reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency for 2030. But these targets are too low, slowing down efforts to boost renewable energy and keeping Europe hooked on polluting and expensive fuels, said Greenpeace. Next year, the new European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, is expected to table legislation which will make these targets a reality in EU countries. This legislation will have a profound impact on energy bills, energy security and efforts to cut emissions across Europe.

New York Releases List Of Military Gear And Equipment

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Over the past several years, more than 120 law enforcement agencies across the state, from the NYPD to Tuckahoe, have obtained military-grade equipment through the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which transfers excess military equipment to state and local police across the country. Late last week, for the first time, state officials released a detailed inventory of the equipment obtained by individual agencies. A review of the data revealed: Since enrolling in 1995, the NYPD has obtained four armored trucks valued at $65,000 each and two former artillery vehicles known as mortar carriers valued at more than $200,000 each. The NYPD received one such heavily armored vehicle in June 2012.

Prophet Of Urban Renewal Or Big Oil's Reverend For Rent?

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On Nov. 4, Richmond voters face a stark choice between mayoral candidates who have conflicting ideas about how to sustain their own city’s much-publicized renaissance. The two contenders to replace Gayle McLaughlin, who is termed out, even disagree on whether Richmond is better off eight years after the largest city in the country with a Green mayor first elected her. Both of McLaughlin’s would-be successors—city councilor Nat Bates, who is black, and Tom Butt, who is white—came together, like 1960s civil rights movement allies, to hear Reverend Young’s purely non-partisan reflections on creating “a global community of peace, prosperity, and inclusion.” As the city’s largest and, for nearly a century, most dominant employer, Chevron was clearly the senior partner in this joint venture. When For Richmond was launched, all of its $500,000 in start up money came from the energy giant, plus $100, 000 for grants distributed locally in 2013. As of a year ago, Chevron was still For Richmond’s only donor.

Camming The Fuzz: Why Not?

A line of police officers and state troopers guard the entrance to the Ferguson police station on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, as protesters held a rally against the police shooting of Michael Brown. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

This week, both houses of New Jersey’s legislature considered bills to make wireless, body-mounted video cameras part of the standard equipment for every state police officer. (The lower-house sponsor is Assemblymember Paul Moriarty, a liberal Democrat who famously pushed through dashboard cameras for all state troopers after one helped him beat a DWI ticket.) The Garden State is one of numerous states and municipalities considering such legislation, including Florida; DeKalb County, Illinois; Denver; Orange County, California; and Spokane and Bremerton, Washington. Most of these measures are proposed by liberal Democrats, and enjoy support on both sides of the aisle. This follows a broader pattern of progressives nationwide calling for wiring up the constabulary as a tool to keep police accountable.

UC Berkeley Shuts Down Beehive Collective Drought Art

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Students at the University of California at Berkeley were forced to bring an art project on drought and California water policy to the main campus on October 21 after a dean prevented them displaying it at Gill Tract Community Farm, an “urban farm” in nearby Albany run by the university and community volunteers. The students say that Steven Lindow, executive associate dean of Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, kicked the exhibit—a collaboration with the Beehive Collective, a political art group based in Maine—off the farm for clearly political reasons. They say that Lindow is tied to the genetically modified organism industry, and their event criticized Proposition 1, a state ballot initiative supported by the GMO industry.