Rank and file labor leaders announced for the first time the creation of the Network for Social Justice Unionism (NSJU), a new infrastructure that unionists concerned with advancing social justice beyond the workplace hope to use to organize for a shift in the way the labor movement operates. The NSJU seeks to encourage the creation of social justice caucuses in union locals across the nation and to establish working relationships between those caucuses to be able to support each other’s struggles. Together, these caucuses hope to create an movement inside of organized labor that pushes union leaders across the country to do more to see that union power benefits not just workers themselves, but also the communities that unions are embedded in and rely upon. The NSJU effort has its roots in recent struggles for change led by teachers, but seeks to encourage workers of all kinds to commit to lending their knowledge, resources, and influence to other ongoing struggles for justice beyond their workplaces.
Representatives of the Fund Our Communities Maryland coalition “flew” an F-35 in Bethesda on April 16 to celebrate tax day. The plane fell apart—exhibiting the absurdity of using our taxes on a plane that doesn’t work and isn’t useful for our defense but that will end up costing us $1.5 trillion, more than the cost of the Korean and Vietnam wars combined (in inflation-adjusted dollars). For the cost of this one weapons system, we could give every unemployed American a $50,000/year job for the next four years. Activists distributed a satiric newspaper to passers-by, with these headlines: “Bethesda-Based Lockheed Martin Acknowledges Role as Stealth Peace Group,” “Lockheed Martin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize,” “Peace Action Salutes the F-35: The Jet That Ate the Pentagon,” and “Lockheed Martin Absolved of Corporate Welfare Charge.”
Spring is here, and with it comes a new campaign to hold the U.S. government accountable for its support of corporate colonialism. We’re joining allies across the U.S. and across the world to change the narrative around President Obama’s upcoming trip to Asia, during which he’ll work to finalize the TPP. Our action has helped to hold off Fast Track for now, but Obama’s visit proves that the Administration and “free trade” proponents won’t stop pushing their corporate agenda – and we can’t stop pushing against it. Help keep up the momentum for trade that puts people and the planet before profit! Check out the details of the call to action below, and join in any way that works for you. If you’ve got a local rally or event planned, be sure to let us know [email protected]
In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Graduate Center and its Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality. About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman was able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails. It’s certainly not teaching. “You will not be expected to teach or supervise students,” the letter informs Professor Krugman, who replies: “I admit that I had to read it several times to be clear … it’s remarkably generous.” (After his first year, Krugman will be required to host a single seminar.)
One year after the fertilizer facility explosion in West, Texas, which destroyed and severely damaged nearby schools, an analysis by the Center for Effective Government finds that nearly one in ten American schoolchildren live and study within one mile of a potentially dangerous chemical facility. The analysis, displayed through an online interactive map, shows that 4.6 million children at nearly 10,000 schools across the country are within a mile of a facility that reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Risk Management Program. Factories, refineries, and other facilities that report to the program produce, use, and/or store significant quantities of certain hazardous chemicals identified by EPA as particularly risky to human health or the environment if they are spilled, released into the air, or are involved in an explosion or fire.
Spawning from the Worldwide Wave of Action comes a new campaign for the 99 percent. A movement aimed at concrete radical reform, the Green Rush is promoting a new economy by and for the 99 percent through monetary reform and marijuana legalization. As they “plant the seeds for a new economy,” the campaign is calling for Occupy organizers to begin organizing around specific needs. According to Occupy.com, the Green Rush calls for “nationalization of the Federal Reserve through the National Emergency Employment Defence Act (NEED)”—a bill initially proposed by Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Congressman, to make the Federal Reserve fall under the U.S. Treasury—along with the legalization of marijuana in New York. Founded by Harrison Tesoura Schultz and Lorna Shannon, dedicated anarchist activists, the Green Rush’s objective is to build a grassroots movement into a full-fledged political movement aimed to increase congressional support of the NEED Act, which sits stagnant, according to their website, Just Activism.
On Thursday, I questioned Russia’s involvement in mass surveillance on live television. I asked Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, a question that cannot credibly be answered in the negative by any leader who runs a modern, intrusive surveillance program: “Does [your country] intercept, analyse or store millions of individuals’ communications?” I went on to challenge whether, even if such a mass surveillance program were effective and technically legal, it could ever be morally justified. The question was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion. (See a side-by-side comparison of Wyden’s question and mine here.) Clapper’s lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability.
Advocating “No War Criminals On Campus!” and “Shut Down Guantanamo, End U.S. Torture,” activists will demonstrate at the Korea Law Center’s Inaugural Conference, where John Yoo is among a day of speakers including high level Korean government officials and business representatives. As the Guantanamo prison camp remains open into its 13th year – and Obama’s promises to shutter it remain unkept — 154 men remain imprisoned there. Most of them have never been charged with a crime. 76 were cleared for release by the US government years ago, 56 of them Yemeni. Since the prisoner’s hunger strike of over one year ago which thrust Guantanamo back into world headlines, approximately 40 men continue this strike.
Cross-posted at CreativeResistance.org. Against this calamitous backdrop, we are starting to see hope in the country’s next generation of campaigners, organisers and even artists. These new hybrid cultural activists have been dubbed “artivists” and are continuing the struggles of their predecessors with a new approach. The author MK Assante describes the artivist as someone who “uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression by any medium necessary”. For two weeks in February, I had the privilege of joining almost 200 activists, organisers and artivists in a Nairobi community centre (unnamed for security reasons) for an Artivism Lab.
Chanting, “This system – let’s stop it! Our health is not for profit!” and “What do we want? Single payer! When do we want it? Now!” a two-block-long river of medical and other health professional students – most in white lab coats – marched down Chicago’s crowded Michigan Avenue and rallied outside the gleaming skyscraper known as Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower last Saturday. “We will no longer tolerate private insurance companies putting their bottom line above the health of our patients!” declared James Besante, a third-year student at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, in front of the BCBS offices. “No more!” The crowd roared back, “Patients, not profits!”
Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir, who first rose to international attention for their music-based challenge to consumerism, have turned their attention to big corporations’ role in climate disruption. They take up the plight of the Honey Bee in their new campaign, HoneyBeeLujah!, which launches with an hour-long action this Thursday, April 17, in Times Square. The event will begin in front of the U.S. Armed Forces Times Square Recruiting Station at6pm with the Reverend delivering the Choir’s new manifesto. Then the activist-performers, adorned and accompanied by hundreds of Honey Bees handmade by Savitri D. and the Choir, will move throughout what Reverend Billy calls the “Stonehenge of Logos” at New York’s most famous intersection.
The attempt to impose sanctions is driven by Congress members from Florida and New Jersey with strong ties to extreme rightwing Cuban-American groups who support the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Sadly, the Obama administration has also indicated that it is considering targeted sanctions against the Venezuelan government. Currently, no other country in the hemisphere besides Cuba is subject to U.S. sanctions. As President Pepe Mujica of Uruguay recently stated, “when the entire world asks the U.S. to shelve its economic blockade policy against Cuba, voices emerge from within that government threatening sanctions against Venezuela. Are the lessons of history never learned?” Tell your elected officials that their vote for sanctions would be a vote for further bloodshed by anti-democratic forces.
The malignancy of mass incarceration did not arise from a sudden epidemic of crime. Nor did it result from people making poor personal choices. Instead it arose from cold political calculations made in response to the massive and heroic struggle for the rights of Black and other minority peoples that took place in the 1960’s and 70’s, and in response to the enormous economic and social changes brought about by globalized production. This cancer of mass incarceration has been, from the beginning, nothing but a new Jim Crow in place of the old one. Like the old Jim Crow, it drew on, fed off and reinforced the deep-seated roots of the racism that grew up with slavery. Like the old Jim Crow, it has been, from the beginning, unjustifiable, utterly immoral and thoroughly illegitimate. This must stop – NOW! Not the next generation, not in ten years, not any time off in some promised future that never seems to come. NOW!
Next Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Honor is joining with Native peoples and ranchers (called the Cowboy and Indian Alliance) from along the pipeline route in Washington, DC, to show Obama and the world that Native Nations will stand firm in asserting our human and constitutionally protected treaty rights in saying NO to the Keystone XL Pipeline. We won’t be leaving DC until the voices of our people are heard. We invite you to visit us at the tipi camp on the National Mall during the week, but urge you to participate on Saturday the 26th in a day of action. Click here to RSVP, and to donate to Honor the Earth’s work to support this action, and the frontline groups opposing this pipeline in their territories. Just as we keep a close watch on the Keystone XL, we must also work to oppose the pipelines of the north, many of which are as big or bigger than the KXL. Honor has been focusing our efforts on the Sandpiper pipeline.
“We owe it to all the mothers and fathers of those killed in product safety disasters to say, ‘Never again.’” Consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced last week he is supporting two corporate accountability bills aimed at warning the public about dangerous and deadly products and tracking corporate crimes. Introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the bills come in the wake of revelations of GM’s deadly ignition switch defect, which the company kept from the public for years. “Corporate crime has long swept our nation, draining people’s hard-earned savings and severely harming the health and safety of millions of people,” said Nader. “The executive and corporate perpetrators of this crime wave, far more often than not, [are] getting away scot-free and sometimes promoted.” The Dangerous Products Warning Act would force companies to be transparent about any dangers their products or services pose to the public and hold product supervisors criminally liable for cover-ups. It would also outlaw retaliation for whistle-blowing on such dangers.