One of the last vestiges of the Cabrini-Green public housing complex on Chicago’s Near North Side, the Frances Cabrini Rowhouses, are not going down without a fight. The Cabrini-Green Local Advisory Council on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Housing Authority for what residents say are broken promises to rehab the complex and preserve its status as entirely low-income public housing
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Excerpted with permission from Alternet. Read the full version here.
In just ten months, the United States managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons production facility, their story should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US.
Here is how it happened.
In the early morning hours of Saturday June 28, 2012, long-time peace activists Sr. Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63, cut through the chain link fence surrounding the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons production facility and trespassed onto the property. Y-12, called the Fort Knox of the nuclear weapons industry, stores hundreds of metric tons of highly enriched uranium and works on every single one of the thousands of nuclear weapons maintained by the U.S.
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As the Chicago mayor’s hand-picked Board of Education prepares to vote on a plan to close more than 50 neighborhood schools, Joel Handley had the chance to confront Rahm Emanuel in person – and found a man lost without his talking points.
When he broke from his front row table at the breakfast banquet, I knew it was my chance to catch him. I followed him down the hallway from the Hilton Chicago’s Grand Ballroom, and called out to him, “Sir, Mr. Mayor.”
He turned around, and I shook Rahm’s damaged hand. With all the stories of his cursing and bullying opponents, I took him as the type that would try to out-grip anyone he met, but his hand was limp, uncertain, and cold as a mortician’s.
“I’m trying to use the bathroom,” he said.
“Me too, but can I catch you on the way out?”
“Sure,” he nodded.
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Reprinted with permission from Grist.
What do you do when the federal government won’t let you plant a sustainable, super-useful crop on your own land? Well, if you’re Ryan Loflin, you do it anyway.
As of this week, Loflin has planted America’s first real crop of industrial hemp in more than a half-century.
The 40-year-old farmer from Springfield, Colo., has been scheming for months. “I believe this is really going to revitalize and strengthen farm communities,” Loflin told the Denver Post in April. Now he’s leased 60 acres of his father’s alfalfa farm to plant and tend the hundreds of hemp starters he’s already been grooming.
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Party-Crashing for the Climate: On Monday, over 500 protesters gathered outside of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, where a fundraiser for Obama was underway, to demand that the president reject the permit to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The crowd also expressed their opposition to local natural gas pipelines such as the Spectra and Rockaway pipelines. Representatives from Hurricane Sandy relief organizations, asserting the connection between climate change and disasters like Sandy, and demanding that local and national government commit to a transition to clean energy. The event was sponsored by a broad coalition of local and national environmental and social justice organizations, who have begun turning out large crowds to nearly all of Obama’s public events to demand that the president take a stand against the proposed pipeline.
Bus Ads Promote Palestinian Rights: Public buses throughout Seattle have been emblazoned this week with messages advocating “Equal Rights For Palestinians: The Way To Peace.” The messages are sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, whose ad campaign stretches back to 2010 and also run in local Seattle print weeklies. The campaign has also taken aim in the past at Israel’s segregated transportation and education systems and denounced American aid to Israeli military occupation, sparking controversy in Washington state and around the country.
Indignados Turn Two: On May 12, thousands gathered in Madrid, Barcelona and 30 other cities throughout Spain to mark the second anniversary of the nation’s ‘indignados’ protest movement. Last month, unemployment hit record levels of near-30% in the debt-scarred country. Protesters carried signs on Sunday insisting "the fight continues" and asserting "together, it’s possible." The movement, which sparked Occupy and similar protests around the world, continues its resistance in the face of planned austerity measures, including tax hikes and pay cuts for public sector workers.
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Reprinted from Waging Nonviolence.
Since last Wednesday, students at Cooper Union, a private free university in New York City, have staged a occupation of the president’s office in protest of the announcement that the school will begin charging tuition. As the occupation now goes into its second week, let me recall my eight-hour visit during its first full day: Thursday, May 9.
That morning, students took President Jamshed Bharucha’s office demanding that he resign over his proposal to introduce tuition, a policy that would break the school’s 155-year tradition of free education. Later that day, all nine of Cooper’s full-time art faculty and some 200 students signed a statement of no confidence in Bharucha.
The administration repeatedly warned the occupiers — by then more than 100 engineering, architecture, and art students — that they could face disciplinary actions, which could include being denied their degrees. The administration then proceeded to block the water fountains on the seventh floor with plywood and screwed the bathroom doors shut. It sent armed guards into the building. (The administration later said it wasn’t aware the guards would be armed.)
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Hundreds of students assembled at Tel Aviv University (TAU) on Monday to commemorate the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic. The day marked the 65th anniversary of the state of Israel’s establishment in 1948, which coincided with the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and the creation of an estimated 750,000 refugees.
Nakba commemorations will be held this week throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and abroad. But the TAU commemoration was one of the only events to draw joint participation from both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis. Among the event's organizers were students from the leftwing Israeli political party Hadash and Students against Fascism, as well as Zochrot—an Israeli organization that seeks to “raise awareness about the Palestinian Nabka, particularly among Jews in Israel.”
“As a historical event, the Palestinian Nakba is problematic for the Israeli Jewish audience,” Salah Mohsen of Adalah Legal Center tells In These Times. “Most of them are committed to the official Zionist version [of history].”
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“Today, you’re going to see 18 people cutting a ribbon together—should be interesting,” joked Leah Fried, a spokesperson for the United Electrical Workers (UE), at yesterday’s launch of the New Era Windows Cooperative.
Given the occasion, nothing less than a collaborative ribbon-cutting would do. The group of 18 African-American and Latino men and women who crowded around the pair of ceremonial scissors were embarking on a trailblazing experiment in collective ownership.
The grand opening of the worker-owned window factory marked the latest step in a five-year journey the group has undertaken together, beginning with their famous occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in 2008. After the workers, all members of UE Local 1100, were forced to occupy once again in February 2012—this time to save their jobs from new owner Serious Energy—they won time to search for a buyer for the factory and began to consider running the business as a cooperative.
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Each Friday here at Uprising, we present a round-up of the demonstrations, debates and other manners of rabble-rousing that went under-reported during the week.
Stephen Hawking Joins BDS Movement: This week, Professor Stephen Hawking threw his weight behind the academic boycott of Israel pioneered by the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, refusing to attend a June conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. In a letter written to Peres, Hawking announced he had decided not to attend the conference, in the words of a statement published with Hawking’s approval, "based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there." In 2009, Hawking visited Israel and the West Bank and denounced Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians in Gaza, remarking that "the situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue."
Foreclosing on Wells Fargo: Protesters in downtown Los Angeles briefly shut down the branch of a Wells Fargo bank on Tuesday to draw attention to its foreclosure practices. About 80 activists, some of whom were owners of foreclosed homes, blockaded the bank’s entrance for half an hour in an action organized by Occupy Fights Foreclosures, an Occupy Los Angeles subcommittee. The group, which has been defending a home in East Los Angeles for six months, pressures banks to negotiate with underwater homeowners. In several cases, it has taken dramatic direct actions to keep families in their homes, such as barricading the houses to prevent law enforcement and mortgage companies from entering .
Cooper Union Occupation: On May 8, students at New York’s Cooper Union occupied the President’s office, days after the startling announcement that the historically free school would begin charging tuition to undergraduates. At least 50 students took over President Jamshed Bharucha’s office and signed a statement of no confidence, which has been circulating among students and faculty. The Students For A Free Cooper Union have been waging a war of publicity and direct action against the administration’s fight to erode the full scholarship it awards to every student, which activists claim is a hallmark sign of the neoliberal trend in education.
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Reprinted with permission from Labor Notes.
A 40-day strike of more than 500 dockworkers at the Port of Hong Kong ended Monday with a settlement that included a 9.8 percent wage increase, non-retaliation against strikers, and a written agreement, all of which had been fiercely resisted by the four contractors targeted in the strike.
Strikers accepted the offer by a 90 percent vote.
The four contractors also agreed to work through the port manager Hong Kong International Terminal (HIT) to provide meal and toilet breaks, which had been lacking even for workers on 12- or 24-hour shifts. Crane operators laid off during the strike will be rehired.
Workers see HIT—owned by Li Ka-shing, one of the world’s wealthiest capitalists—as the real power at play, as the interview below demonstrates.
Though members of the Union of Hong Kong Dock Workers (UHKDW) had been holding to their demand for a double-digit wage increase, they had growing concerns about contractors’ use of scabs and the relative ease with which shippers could reroute from Hong Kong to the nearby mainland China port of Shenzhen. After the breakthrough accomplishment of forcing the contractors to negotiate, and clearly winning the battle of public opinion, strikers were ready to return to work.
The strike was notable in that dockworkers across multiple sub-contractors first self-organized, from the bottom up, before seeking affiliation for their union with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU).
The political environment in Hong Kong allows inter-union competition between HKCTU and the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU). Workers have the chance to see the differences between the HKFTU’s pro-corporate brand of unionism and the HKCTU’s anti-corporate stand—but are also caught between the antagonistic interests. During the strike, HKFTU carried to workers the employers’ low-ball wage-increase offer (5 percent). These negotiations exposed HKFTU’s relative illegitimacy.
The support of students, particularly through the group Left 21, was critical to engaging Hong Kong society as a whole. More than HK$8.5 million (US$1,105,000) was raised for a strike support fund which stood at only HK$30,000 (US$3,900) at the outset. Financial contributions and solidarity resolutions came from the West Coast longshore union in the U.S. (ILWU), the International Federation of Transport Workers, and transport workers unions in Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands.
Solidarity actions such as informational pickets, slow-downs, or rallies didn’t materialize, however—although in the U.S. and Canada, the Steelworkers were considering action at facilities owned by Husky Energy, a subsidiary of Li Ka-shing’s vast empire.