With The People’s Climate March Behind Us, What Do We Do Now?
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Posted October 1, 2014
The climate action weekend built around the People’s Climate March proved that the climate movement has broad popular support and millions are ready to mobilize. These are two ingredients necessary to achieve climate justice, but also needed is a strategy that is widely understood so people recognize their work is connected to a larger movement and their actions are more effective.
Governments are sold out to big corporate interests who profit from dirty energy and false market-based climate change “solutions.” Climate justice advocates must stop the government from doing more damage while creating new systems that allow us to stop participating in the dirty energy economy. A great power of social justice movements is noncompliance, but to not comply we need to be able to live in ways that are consistent with climate justice. More…
Toll roads: ‘Surveillance state’ purveyors and enforcers
By Teri Webster
Posted September 7, 2014
Impounded cars. Blocked vehicle registrations. Fines and penalties. Jail time. Unpaid highway tolls can have heavy consequences. And the punishments hardly fit the crime.
For years, privacy advocates across the nation have warned about the surveillance powers of toll roads and toll tag systems. Now, their warnings have evolved into a disturbing new trend. Toll road systems are becoming purveyors and enforcers of an invasive and punitive surveillance grid that has the ability to track us everywhere we go. More…
A Former Marine Explains All the Weapons of War Being Used by Police in Ferguson
by Lyle Jeremy Rubin
Posted August 23, 2014
There’s at least one line every Marine knows: “Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.” The St. Louis County Police Department apparently never received that memo.
As smoke hangs over the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, it’s important to understand its source. Some of this understanding will require us to reassess the history of police militarization in the United States. This will mean acknowledging its origins in the aftermath of the Watts Riots (1965) and the birth of the SWAT team shortly thereafter. It will mean noting the conservative reaction to the Warren Court’s civil libertarian protections in the 1950s and 60s to President Nixon’s launching of the drug war at the end of that same tumultuous decade.
It will mean harping on President Reagan’s wholehearted embrace of racial policing and mass incarceration in the 1980s. It will mean interrogating the devastating effects of the 1208 Program (1990), which became the 1033 Program (1996), both of which authorized the transfer of military hardware to domestic precincts, a practice that has only accelerated in the wake of the Battle of Seattle (1999) and the attacks of September 11, 2001. More…
Ferguson arrests include at least 10 journalists
By Hillel Italie
Posted August 21, 2014
A photographer for the Getty agency and two German reporters were among the latest journalists arrested while covering protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.
At least 10 journalists have been arrested or detained since Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, was killed Aug. 9 by officer Darren Wilson. Reporters for CNN, Al Jazeera America and other outlets say they have been harassed or physically threatened.
The arrests and detainments, which have ranged from several minutes to several hours, have been widely criticized: President Obama said last week that police “should not be bullying or arresting” reporters for merely doing their jobs. Last Friday, 48 American media organizations, including The Associated Press, sent a letter to law enforcement officials in Ferguson, criticizing the treatment of reporters. More…
Outrage! FCC Official Says a million people commenting will not make much difference
By Kevin Zeese
Posted July 27, 2014
More than a million people have spoken out in favor of real Net Neutrality. More than 3.4 million took some kind of action before the rulemaking began urging Net Neutrality. This has been the biggest public response the FCC has ever gotten on a policy matter ” but is the FCC listening? Will the voices of millions of people make a difference?
Sadly, a top official at the FCC, Gigi Sohn, told NPR: “A lot of these comments are one paragraph, two paragraphs, they don’t have much substance beyond, ‘we want strong Net Neutrality.” So, 1,067,779 people commenting will not make much difference. It is a very sad commentary on democracy in the United States. More…
Make it clear to the FCC, the only thing that will protect “the people” instead of the “the corporations” is to make the Internet a public utility. Nothing less!
Stopping Foreclosure – New Lamps For Old
by David Petrovich
Posted July 25, 2014
For millions, the manufactured American Dream of homeownership has metastasized into the nightmare reality of Zombie Foreclosures.
The sorcerer returns and is able to get his hands on the lamp by tricking Aladdin’s wife, who is unaware of the lamp’s importance, by offering to exchange “new lamps for old.”
The entire mortgage retirement or mortgage loan replacement program, which utilizes Eminent Domain, can best be accomplished by local non-profit agencies using public money without Wall Street bed partners and their private agenda. Instead of embracing schemes by the very foxes who guard the henhouse while munching on a steady diet of chicken legs, we’ll need to create and task 100’s of independent community agencies who will be responsible to their own community. More…
The Town That Turned Poverty Into a Prison Sentence
by Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan Seville
Posted July 21, 2014
Most states shut down their debtors’ prisons more than 100 years ago; in 2005, Harpersville, Alabama, opened one back up.Harpersville’s experiment with private probation began nearly ten years ago. In Alabama, people know Harpersville best as a speed trap, a stretch of country highway where the speed limit changes six times in roughly as many miles. Indeed, traffic fines are by far the biggest business in the town of 1,600, where there is little more than Big Man’s BBQ, the Sudden Impact Collision Center and a dollar store. In 2005, the court’s revenue was nearly three times the amount that the town received from a sales tax, Harpersville’s second-largest source of income. The fines had become key to Harpersville’s development, but it proved difficult to chase down those who did not pay. So, that year, Harpersville decided to follow in the footsteps of other Alabama cities and hire JCS to help collect.
JCS is considered a significant player in the private probation universe. And while recent revenue statements for the privately held company aren’t available, what is known is that JCS operates in some 480 courts across the country. In larger courts, JCS can net as much as $1 million in probationers’ fees each year, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch. More…
Standing Up to Disaster Capitalism in Detroit
by John Nichols
Posted July 19, 2014
As Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed “emergency manager” were steering Detroit into bankruptcy last fall, the public-policy think tank Demos released a groundbreaking report on the city’s financial circumstance—and how to address it.
Demos recognized that deindustrialization, high unemployment and an exodus of residents had left Detroit uniquely vulnerable: “the current bankruptcy filing is the result of a severe decline in revenue, caused by the 2008 financial crisis, and cuts in annual state revenue sharing starting in 2011. Risky Wall Street deals further jeopardized the city’s public finances by threatening immediate payments that the city could not afford.”
Now, as the Detroit Water and Sewage Department is drawing international criticism for shutting off water service for low-income families, activists are asking why the people are being forced to pay while the Wall Street banks live large. On Friday, members of the National Nurses United union and local, state and national groups will march and rally in downtown Detroit to say the priorities are out of whack. Their message is direct: “Let’s Tax Wall Street, Get Our Money Back, and Turn on the Water!” More…
Against Austerity in Detroit: “Water Is a Human Right”
By John Nichols
Posted July 14, 2014
Water is a human right.The United Nations formally “recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”
A new European Citizens Initiative declares, “Water is a public good, not a commodity.”
Former President Jimmy Carter writes, “Clean water is a basic human right. Without it, the other rights may not even matter. Human societies cannot be healthy, prosperous and just without adequate supplies of clean water. What could be a more basic right than clean water?”
So why are children in Detroit marching through that battered city’s downtown with signs reminding officials that “Kids Need Water to be Healthy” and “Kids Without Water Can’t Brush Their Teeth”? Why are religious leaders being arrested when they seek to prevent the shutoff of water services to families who cannot afford to pay bloated bills? More…
Evo Morales: “Our Liberation is for the Whole of Humanity”. For a Global Brotherhood Among The People
Evo Morales: “Our Liberation is for the Whole of Humanity”. For a Global Brotherhood Among The People
By Evo Morales Ayma
Posted June 29, 2014
The worst tyranny faced by humankind is allowing basic services to be under the control of transnational corporations. This practice subjugates humanity to the specific interests and commercial aims of a minority who become rich and powerful at the expense of the life and security of other persons.
This is why we claim that basic services are inherent to the human condition. How can a human being live without potable water, electrical energy or communications? If human rights are to make us all equal, this equality can only be realized through universal access to basic services. Our need for water, like our need for light and communications, makes us all equal. More…