( – promoted by buhdydharma )
A weekly roundup of the news made by of, by and for the active engaged progressive people of the world.
Canada: Nickel Mine Strike
After months of unresolved bargaining a strike began on July 13th at the Sudbury mine in northern Ontario, Canada, after employers Vale Inco refused to alter its original demands for concessions. United Steel Workers union members (USW Local 6500) in Sudbury and Port Colburne in Ontario and Voisey Bay in Labrador responded by voting 85% in favor of strike action.
The strike affects 3,073 employees at Vale’s integrated mining, milling, smelting and refining operations in Sudbury, 116 employees at the Port Colborne refinery and over 200 at Voisey Bay. The concessions demanded by the company include a drastic change in pension benefits for new hires (the pension Fund is $725 million in deficit), changes to seniority rights and a cap on the “Nickel Bonus”. “This bonus was negotiated in earlier years to allow the company to benefit from relatively lower wages when nickel prices were depressed and workers to benefit when the price was high. Nickel bonuses – once used to placate underpaid unionised workers – in recent years suddenly paid off ‘big’
Washington, DC: 61 Peace Activists Arrested at White House
We have a situation where the wars are ongoing. Some of the escalation is indeed what this president promised, but the public has moved against it. And, you know our elected representatives have to represent who we are right now, not just who we were before the most recent election. And our representatives in Congress have to cut off that money.
This is not making us safer. The American public has come to this realization, that the 9/11 planning was done in hotels in Germany and Spain and our own flight training schools. This is not about making us safer. In fact, it’s making us less safe. It’s enraging people against us, and it’ s damaging the rule of law, which is a fact that gets left out of much of this, that this is illegal.
USA: David Irving’s Holocaust-Denial Speaking Tour: The Show that Must NOT Go On
This October and November, David Irving, a British neo-fascist and fraudulent historian, goes on the road in the United States, planning to hold dozens of speaking engagements over the course of two months. As militant anti-racists and anti-fascists, we are making a public call for resistance at each stop along the way of this tour.
* Oct 13, Tuesday, 7pm: St Louis, MO
* Oct 14, Wednesday, 7pm: Nashville, TN
* Oct 16, Friday, 7pm: Dallas/Ft Worth, TX
* Oct 17, Saturday, 7pm: Houston, TX
* Oct 18, Sunday, 6pm: New Orleans, LA
* Oct 19, Monday, 7pm: Baton Rouge, LA
* Oct 21, Monday, 6pm: Jackson, MS
* Oct 23, Friday, 7pm: Montgomery, AL
* Oct 24, Saturday, 7pm: Atlanta, GA
* Oct 25, Sunday, 7pm: Jacksonville, FL
* Oct 26, Monday, 7pm: Orlando, FL
* Oct 28, Wednesday, 1pm, luncheon: Melbourne, FL
* Oct 28, Wednesday, 7pm: West Palm Beach, FL
* Oct 29, Thursday, 7pm: Oct 28 Miami, FL
* Nov 2, Monday, 7pm: Clearwater, FL
* Nov 4, Wednesday, 7pm: Charleston, SC
* Nov 5, Thursday, 7pm: Columbia, SC
* Nov 6, Friday, 7pm: Charlotte, NC
* Nov 7, Saturday, 3pm: Raleigh, NC
* Nov 8, Sunday, 7pm: Richmond, VA
* Nov 9, Monday, 7pm: Washington, DC
* Nov 11, Wednesday, 7pm: Baltimore, MD
* Nov 13, Friday, 7pm: New Jersey
* Nov 14, Saturday, 7pm: New York City
* Nov 15, Sunday, 7pm: New Haven, CT
* Nov 17, Tuesday, 7pm: Boston, MA
* Nov 18, Wednesday, 7pm: Manchester, NH
* Nov 21, Saturday, 3pm: Niagara Falls, NY
* Nov 22, Sunday, 3pm: Indianapolis, IN
* Nov 23, Monday, 7pm: Chicago, IL
Minneapolis: Health Care Protesters Arrested
Reverend Grant Stevenson normally delivers his sermon at St. Mathew’s Lutheran Church in St. Paul. This morning, he preached to more than 100 people in front of UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest private health insurer. His topic had roots deep in the bible and social justice. “If they (UnitedHealth) win, the people who you care about, the people standing here, the people who you want to have health care will lose. “We need to send a message that it is not OK to profit on other people’s misery. It is not OK to profit on other people’s despair. It is not OK to profit when other people are living in fear and anxiety and not knowing they’re actually going to get the basic care that they’re going to need.”
Protesters carried small green signs with names of people who had died or were suffering because they could not afford or were refused health care insurance. Six people sat down in the doorway of UnitedHealth and refused to move. Police warned the six and then arrested them.
South Africa: Bishop Condemns Attacks on Housing Activists
The Anglican Bishop of South Africa has issued a statement on the attacks on Abahlali baseMjondolo
Democracy Under Attack in Kennedy Road
I was torn with anguish when I first heard of the unspeakable brutality that has raged down on to the Kennedy Road shack settlement. In recent years I have spent many hours in the Kennedy Road settlement. I’ve attended meetings, memorials, mass ecumenical prayers and marches. I have had the honour of meeting some truly remarkable people in the settlement and the work of Abahlali baseMjondolo has always nurtured my faith in the power and dignity of ordinary people. I have seen the best of our democracy here. I have tasted the joy of real social hope here.
The achievement of our hard won democracy was a great moment of shared grace. The militia that have driven the Abahlali baseMjondolo leaders and hundreds of families out of the settlement is a profound disgrace to our democracy. The fact that the police have systematically failed to act against this militia while instead arresting the victims of their violence and destruction is cause for the gravest concern. There are credible claims that this milita has acted with the support of the local ANC structures. This, also, is cause for the most profound concern.
Turkey: IMF Meeting Met With Protest
“Police in Turkey have used tear gas and water cannons to break up protests against a meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” the BBC reports.
Financial Times (FT) Chief U.S. correspondent Krishna Guha reports the “self-styled ‘group of 30’ leading financial figures” met on Monday where “present and former policymakers joined bankers and economists” to suggest the I.M.F. should “monitor” the global financial system on a “near-continuous basis”. The BBC adds: “The I.M.F. is urgently discussing ways to make itself more representative of the new world order where developing countries make up nearly half of the world economy, but only have about one-third of the votes in the I.M.F.” …
Like recent protests in Iran and Pittsburgh, Turkish police justify assaulting the protesters with the rationale that people are ‘only free [sic] to assemble where they’re ordered to do so’. The assault isn’t so much to subordinate demonstrators as it is to send a message to those already apprehensive to standing up for their natural rights. The message: ‘What we say goes!’
The protesters are routinely referred to as “anti-capitalist”–which isn’t a false application to a vast majority of them, but is used pejoratively and that should not be mistaken because it manufactures avatars of those who “appeared to be largely union members or students” as nothing more than reactionary teenage angst and so-called ‘union thugs’ calling for the reincarnation of Josef Stalin. The people are protesting a relative handful of oligarchs within the international banking cartel exploiting the Third World and working people in the so-called “developed” and “developing” world to enhance its power and prosperity. To simply call the protests “anti-capitalist” is a deliberate miscommunication of the protesters’ message–which would not be ‘radical’ in a well-informed, free society: We do not consent to a parasitic elite feeding off of what’s become their global plantation.
Denmark: Climate Activists Protest Copenhagen Coal Plant
The run up to December’s COP 15 climate summit in Copenhagen (7th – 18th), kicked off last Saturday (26th) with around 1,500 demonstrators taking part in a mass demo and attempted sabotage of a coal fired power plant on the eastern edge of the city. Protesters marched in two blocks designed to be adaptable to changing police manoeuvres, culminating in a huge rally in front of the Amager power station, whilst another group cut a hole in the boundary fence and got onto the site…
The Danish press sided with the work of the demonstrators, and the group who organised the action, Shut It Down, announced that although the plant didn’t grind to a halt as planned, they were happy with their achievements and saw it as an affirmative step towards the internationally planned action in December.
Venezuela: Farmer Activists March Against Killings by Estate Owners
Thousands of farmer rights advocates marched in Guarico, Venezuela on Thursday to demand an end to impunity for the killings of 220 farmer organizers since the 2001 Land Reform Law was passed. The march was sparked by two recent attacks presumed to have been planned and paid for by large estate owners against well-known land reform activists.
Just outside the state headquarters of the National Land Institute (INTI) on September 11th, two unidentified men on a motorcycle shot José Pimentel, a leader of the Simon Bolivar National Farmers Front, in the body and the head, placing Pimentel in critical condition in a hospital emergency room.
Two weeks later, eight armed men attacked a group of 28 families who had collectively occupied idle sections of a large estate and were in the process of obtaining legal land titles from INTI. The assailants beat several people, destroyed property, shot one leader of the group twice in the legs, and ordered the group to leave the estate, according to a report by the Ezequiel Zamora National Farmers Rights Front (FNCEZ), which is named after the legendary 19th Century land reform fighter.
Ecuador: Indigenous March Against New Water Law
“We’re crazy for water,” chanted about a thousand campesinos as they marched through the streets of downtown Cuenca in southern Ecuador on Monday. The march, called for by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), was part of a nation-wide mobilization against a new water law. It included intermittent road blockades throughout the highlands over the course of the day that by all acounts were peaceful.
The protests took place amidst a heavy onslaught of insults and efforts to delegitimize their concerns, largely by President Rafael Correa. Correa told EFE news service that the popular movements are being used by the right to destabilize his government. He also interrupted national television programming over the weekend to urge Ecuadorians “not to let themselves be deceived by the same old manipulators…who benefit from chaos.”
However, despite Correa’s insistence that he would not be forced to dialogue, by day’s end the CONAIE had suspended protests to enter into talks with him. Campesino organizations in Cuenca also agreed to dialogue, while the Amazonian branch of the CONAIE reported that it remains mobilized, asking for its own talks with the government in order to address issues specific to the region.
The protests come exactly one year since Ecuador’s 2008 political constitution was passed, which recognizes the right to water, rights for nature and which declared the country a plurinational state. However, indigenous and campesino organizations involved in the protests criticize the government for having digressed from the highly lauded constitution.
India: Tribes Rally to Stop Bauxite Mine
Thousands of people rallied yesterday against billionaire Anil Agarwal’s mining company, Vedanta Resources, which wants to mine a sacred mountain in India for aluminium ore. The event marked the end of a week-long march around the villages of the Niyamgiri mountains in Orissa.
The demonstration brought the town of Muniguda to a virtual standstill, shutting down the main road for several hours.
The crowd of over 3,000 protestors – comprising members of the Dongria Kondh tribe and other local communities – had a unified message for Vedanta: leave our forests, streams and sacred mountain alone.
Russia: Planned St. Petersburg Skyscraper Faces Local Opposition
About 3,000 protesters rallied in Russia’s former czarist capital on Saturday to protest a plan to build a hulking skyscraper for state energy giant Gazprom.
The protesters urged Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to ban the construction of the 77-story glass tower in the historic city center.
Officials see the so-called Okhta Center as an important step in developing St. Petersburg. But critics say the 400-meter (1,300-foot) tower will spoil the city’s elegant skyline, known for its canals, bridges and centuries-old palaces. UNESCO has warned that building the tower could endanger St. Petersburg’s status as a world heritage site.
The protesters on Saturday carried placards saying “No to the Tower!” and “History is More Important Than Money!”
They also called on Medvedev to fire city Gov. Valentina Matviyenko for giving a green light to the project earlier this month.
“This action will destroy my city, the city where I grew up, and the city that I want to save for my grandchildren,” Galina Safronova, a 55-year protester said.
Belgium: Dairy Farmers Protest
Florida: Big Win for Immokalee Tomato Pickers
The 4,000-member Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group committed to improve the pay and working conditions of Florida tomato pickers, forged a three-way agreement late last week with East Coast Growers and Compass, the world’s largest food-service company. Florida’s tomato business is a $400 million industry. (Photo: Florida tomato pickers, Bill Serne of the St. Petersburg Times.)
The raise means their annual earnings could rise from about $10,000 to between $16,000 and $17,000. Compass will pay a penny and a half more a pound for all tomatoes it buys annually. One cent goes directly to the workers; the other half-cent covers administrative costs. Tomato harvesters will now earn 82 cents for each 32-pound bucket they pick, up from 50 cents per bucket.
Compass also agreed to require a strict code of conduct including a time clock system, worker education, worker input and third-party auditing. It pledged only to buy tomatoes from suppliers that agree to the raise and work standards.
Puerto Rico: Unions Announce General Strike
Puerto Rican unions called a general strike for Oct. 15 in response to the dismissal of 17,000 public employees.
The leader of the 23,000-member UGT union, Juan Eliza, told Efe Monday that organized labor is currently readying what he said could be “the most massive movement in the history” of Puerto Rico.
“The governor (Luis Fortuño) came to privatize government jobs,” Eliza said, rejecting the administration’s claims that the number of public employees in Puerto Rico – 180,000 – is out of line.
“In comparison with U.S. states of a similar size, the number of public employees is similar,” Eliza said, adding that the strike call is firm and he doesn’t believe that Fortuño will rescind his decision.
Eliza also said that the 17,000 layoffs are just the first part of a more ambitious plan outlined by the administration, which he estimates will leave close to 30,000 public employees in the street.
UK: Royal Mail Workers Vote to Strike
As postal workers vote overwhelmingly for nationwide industrial action, two workers explain the causes of the dispute.
Regional disputes over working practices and conditions have escalated over the past 15 weeks, and now 76% of Communication Workers Union (CWU) members have voted in favour of national walkouts…
Basically, RM completely went back on an agreement they had made – there’s no other way of putting it. They’ve broken their own agreement. They’ve broken the terms of the existing national agreement, and they’ve broken large numbers of the local agreements our branches have. Since about June of this year they’ve introduced what they call revisions, which are basically job reductions. They’ve done this by what they call executive action, which means without agreement.
Another issue is what they call “absorption”, which came in gradually after we defeated team working in the late 1990s. What that means is you’ve got to take on someone else’s round at no extra pay – if someone can’t do their round for whatever reason, their work is just “absorbed” into yours. What people are being asked to do are unreasonable levels of absorption. If you’ve got the right agreements, protection, you can do that, but that’s another thing RM have just run ahead with.
The dispute is degenerating into unprecedented levels of bullying and intimidation. RM has come up with its own unagreed work standards. They’re unachievable work standards that they’re bringing in, they’re not by agreement. RM and the media would let you believe that our people use “Spanish practices” and all this stuff – but we’ve seen thousands of jobs go, people are working harder and harder. In a typical delivery office a revision of work load will come in and our people are expected to do that work within the same time span, when it’s additional work. When they find out that they can’t, whether it’s a weight issue of carrying the mail or their work load is unmanageable, they are then bullied, intimidated, threatened and in a lot of cases taken off pay.
Romania: Public Sector Strike Against IMF Loan Stipulations
Hundreds of thousands of Romanian public sector workers went on strike on Monday in protest at IMF-mandated pay cuts, raising pressure on the minority government before a November presidential election.
Hospitals throughout the country dealt only with emergencies while teachers supervised children without conducting lessons in Romania’s most wide-ranging protest since the fall of communism in 1989.
Police and prison guards also joined the one-day protest which affected 800,000 public sector workers, trade unions said. Transport was unaffected.
The strike underscored the difficulty facing the ruling centrists in pushing through fiscal reforms — demanded by the International Monetary Fund
Germany: Unions Use Flash Mobs for Innovative Industrial Action
Flash mobs with a purpose are the newest form of political protest. Now one of Germany’s biggest unions is using them to fight labor disputes, asking members to desert loaded shopping carts in supermarket aisles. Businesses want flash mobs outlawed and are taking the case to Germany’s highest court.
They started off with pillow fights, water pistols and beach parties. But now German flash mobs are getting serious. The impromptu meetings of large groups of people usually organized online or via mobile phone, are now being used by a labor union as a tool in a dispute over wages and hours. As a result, the question of whether they are legal or not may soon become a case for Germany’s highest court.
Flash mobs are generally defined as “a group of people who organize on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse.” And in the most recent German example, the trade union Verdi, which represents almost two and a half million employees in the retail and public sectors, organized around 150 men and women to head to a shopping center in Aschersleben in the state of Saxony-Anhalt on Thursday.
The flash mob entered the shopping center and proceeded to load up shopping carts with an assortment of goods before simply leaving them standing in store aisles. Instead of paying for the goods, the flash mob passed over cards with slogans like “Fair Wages” and “Fair Means More.” Business came to a stand still for about an hour
Greece’s opposition Socialists won national elections on Sunday as voters rejected the incumbent center-right party that had been tarred by scandals and unpopular economic policies during its five and a half years in office.
George Papandreou, leader of the winning Socialist party, Pasok, told supporters, “We bear a great responsibility to change the course of the country.”
Pasok, the Socialist party, secured 43.9% of the vote in early official results, translating to 160 seats in Greece’s 300-member parliament…
The incumbent New Democracy party won 34.1% in official results with 70% of votes counted, meaning that its seats will shrink from the current 151-seat majority to 93 seats — the worst electoral showing for the party since it was founded by the uncle of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in 1974.
Portuguese Left Bloc
The Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda or BE) has firmly established itself as the fourth largest party, just behind the Peoples Party, in Portugal after their near 10% vote in the 27 September 2009 legislative elections up 3.5% from 2005. This consolidated their 10.7% vote in the 2009 European elections when they displaced the Communist Party (CDU block) as the largest left wing formation. The Bloc now has 16 members of the Portuguese Parliament, 350 local councillors, 3 members of the European parliament and over 4,200 members.
How did the Left Bloc in the ten years since its formation becomes Europe’s largest far left party? This article sets out to try and establishing this. But you cannot understand the Left Bloc’s emergence as a major political force without first having some background to Portugal’s history and that is where we will start.
Detroit: Chaos at Cobo as Thousands Seek Federal Help
Thousands hoping to get applications for federal help on rent and utility bills turned Cobo Center into a chaotic scene today.
They came by foot, wheelchair, bicycle and car. About six left by ambulance after tensions rose and people were trampled, according to a paramedic on the scene. One unfortunate soul got his car booted.
Detroiters were trying to pick up 5,000 federal assistance applications from the city at Cobo because Detroit received nearly $15.2 million in federal dollars under the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which is for temporary financial assistance and housing services to individuals and families who are homeless, or who would be homeless without this help.
People in wheelchairs and others using canes were being leaned on by people too weak to stand. Emergency medical technicians on the scene said they treated applicants who were injured during the rush to get inside the venue.
That’s what happens when a town full of broke people gets a whiff of free money, said Walter Williams, 51, who came before the sun to get an application and a shot at some federal assistance.
Amy Goodman: Twitter and Digital Censorship
A social worker from New York City was arrested last week while in Pittsburgh to participate in the G-20 protests, then subjected to an FBI raid this week at his home — all for using Twitter. Elliot Madison faces charges of hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime. He was posting to a Twitter feed (or tweeting, as it is called) publicly available information about police activities around the G-20 protests, including information about where police had been ordered to disperse protesters.
While alerting people to public information may not seem to be an arrestable offence, be forewarned: Many people have been arrested for the same “crime” — in Iran, that is.
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to pressure European nations to restrict sales of eavesdropping technology to Iran. They wrote: “Following recent elections, the Iranian government has used a new communications monitoring centre to interfere with and suppress internet and cell phone communications as part of efforts to crackdown on Iranian citizens peacefully demonstrating … including voice calls, email, text messaging, instant messages, and web traffic, as well as posts to social networking sites such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.”
While Madison optimistically mused, “I’m expecting the State Department will come out and support us also,” his lawyer, respected civil rights attorney Martin Stolar, said: “This is just unbelievable. It is the thinnest, silliest case that I’ve ever seen. It tends to criminalize support services for people who are involved in lawful protest activity. And it’s just shocking that somebody could be arrested for essentially walking next to somebody and saying: ‘Hey, don’t go down that street, because the police have issued an order to disperse. Stay away from there.'”
Here’s an article from the POV of the housemates of the people actually involved in the case Goodman discussed:
Queens, NY: A Day in the Life of an Anarchist House
When They Kick Out Your Front Door, How You Gonna Come? —- On October 1st, 2009, at6:00am, the Joint Terrorism Task Force (a union of local police departments and the FBI), kicked out the front door to our home – an anarchist collective house in Queens, NY, affectionately known as Tortuga. The first crashes of the battering ram were quickly followed by more upstairs, as the police broke in on 3 sleeping people, destroying bedroom doors that were unlocked. —- Three more people, awoken by the most unpleasant means of bounding footsteps, splintering wood, and shouting voices, waited in the basement – their turn at drawn guns and blinding lights came quickly. —- We put our hands out where they could see them. They ordered us out of bed. They wouldn’t let us dress, but they did put a random assortment of clothes on some people.
We were handcuffed, and although the upstairs and
downstairs groups were kept separate initially, we were soon all together,
sitting in the living room, positioned like dolls on the couches and
chairs. We were in handcuffs for several hours, and we were helpless as
our little bird, a Finch we had rescued and were rehabilitating, flew out
the open door to certain death, after his cage had been battered by the
cops in their zeal to open the upstairs bedroom doors by force. We shouted
at them, but they stood there and watched…
The apparent impetus for this raid came over a week ago, when two members
of our household were arrested, once again at gunpoint, in the suburbs of
Pittsburgh. They are accused of being devious masterminds, of “directing”
the rollicking G-20 protests, of using technology such as Twitter to
“hinder apprehension” of protesters. The two were held on bail, one
fetching the ridiculous amount of $30,000 cash, and released 36 hours
later after the bond was posted. As of this moment, no additional charges
have been levied against the two, nor against any other housemates in the
aftermath of the raid.