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B4. Radical Ecology

Rio Bravo Action Camp//Campamento de Accion Rio Bravo

Earth First! Newswire - 2 hours 6 min ago

Submitted by Rio Bravo Action Camp

Comunidades fronterizas, indígenas, y primeras naciones están movilizándose para tomar acción directa en contra de leyes fascistas en sus comunidades y planes para extender el muro, cuales ya existen como los monumentos más grandes de la supremacía blanca, a través de nuestras tierras sagradas. // Border communities, indigenous, and first nation people are rising up to take direct action against fascist laws in their communities and plans to extend the border wall, which already exists as the largest white supremacist monument through our sacred lands.

Comunidades fronterizas, indígenas, y primeras naciones están movilizándose para tomar acción directa en contra de leyes fascistas en sus comunidades y planes para extender el muro, cuales ya existen como los monumentos más grandes de la supremacía blanca, a través de nuestras tierras sagradas. Solicitaciones ya están abiertas para el Campamento de Accion Río Bravo, cuatro días de entrenamiento sobre Acción Directa en la frontera del Valle Río Grande de Tejas desde Febrero 15 al 18. Plazo para aplicar es Viernes, Febrero 1ro. La intención del campamento es crear espacio para que personas compartan habilidades y conocimiento comunitario, tambien será liderado con el permiso y en conjunción con la Tribu Carrizo/Comecrudo, quienes tierras ancestrales – esto’k g’na – será impactada por el muro. El campamento de accion Río Bravo es gratis para todo participante, incluyendo comida, alojamiento, cuidado de niñxs, y entrenamiento facilitado a ningún costo. Aporte económico limitado estará disponible para personas que necesiten apoyo para viajar y asistir el campamento. Interpretación de Español e Inglés será proporcionado para todo entrenamiento y taller. Liderado por organizadorxs del Valle de Río Bravo, organidarxs de comunidades de primera línea, y cómplices en la lucha de liberación, el campamento será alojado por Otro Golfo es Posible, La Tribu de Tejas, Carrizo Comecrudo, La delegación de Socialistas Democráticos de América, y el Movimiento de NO MURO del RGV.

RECUERDE: Aplicación para el campamento de acción está requerido para atender y el plazo para aplicar es el Viernes, Febrero 1ro. Organizadorxs piden que solo lxs que son/están basadxs en el Valle de Rio Grande, TX y/o de otras comunidades fronterizas de los Estados Unidos/México (TX, NM, AZ, y/o Sur de CA) apliquen. Ellxs apoyan sumamente qué personas indígenas, primeras naciones, mujeres, personas de color, LGBTQIA y otras personas de género no conforme, primera y segunda generación de inmigrantes, y lxs que tienen recursos económicos limitados que apliquen. ¡Chinga tu Muro! Ayuda a crear una fuerza colectiva para tumbar las barreras que nos dejan divididxs y desconectadxs. Si tienes preguntas, por favor manda correo a anothergulfispossible@gmail.com. #NoBorderWall #NoAlMuro #ChingaTuMuro

Para apoyar el campamento, haga clic aquí.

Border communities, Indigenous, and First Nation people are rising up to take direct action against fascist laws in their communities and plans to extend the border wall, which already exists as the largest white supremacist monument through our sacred lands. Applications are now open for the Rio Bravo Action Camp, four days of direct action training in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands of Texas February 15th – 18th. Deadline to apply is Friday, February 1st. The camp intends to create a space for folks to share skills and community knowledge and is being led with permission and in conjunction with the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe, whose ancestral lands – the esto’k g’na- will be impacted by the border wall. The Rio Bravo Action Camp is free to all participants, with food, lodging, childcare, and trainings provided at no cost. Limited travel stipends will be available for people who need support with transportation to attend the camp. Spanish and English interpretation will be provided for all trainings and workshops. Led by organizers from the Rio Grande Valley, organizers from frontline communities, and accomplices in the fight for liberation, the camp is being hosted by Another
Gulf Is Possible, the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, the Rio Grande Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the RGV No Border Wall Movement.

PLEASE NOTE: Applying to the action camp is required to attend and the deadline to apply is Friday, February 1st. Organizers ask that only those from/based in the Rio Grande Valley, TX and/or other United States/Mexico borderland communities (TX, NM, AZ and/or Southern CA) apply. They highly encourage Indigenous and first nations folks, women, folks of color, LGBTQIA and gender non-conforming folks, first and second generation immigrants, and those with limited financial resources to apply. Chinga tu muro! Help build a collective force to tear down all walls that keep us divided and disconnected. If you have any questions, please email anothergulfispossible@gmail.com. #NoBorderWall #NoAlMuro #ChingaTuMur

To support the camp, click here.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?

Earth First! Newswire - 4 hours 48 min ago

Smoke and steam billows from Belchatow Power Station, Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, at night near Belchatow, Poland December 5, 2018. Picture taken December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel – RC18CF548D20

Robinson Meyer, from The Atlantic The year 2018 was not an easy one for planet Earth. Sure, wind and solar energy kept getting cheaper, and an electric car became America’s best-selling luxury vehicle. But the most important metric of climatic health—the amount of heat-trapping gas entering the atmosphere—got suddenly and shockingly worse. In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession. This matched the trend across the globe. According to two major studies, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide shot up in 2018—accelerating like a “speeding freight train,” as one scientist put it.U.S. emissions do remain 11 percent below their 2007 peak, but that is one of the few bright spots in the data. Global emissions are now higher than ever. And the 2018 statistics are all the more dismal because greenhouse-gas emissions had previously seemed to be slowing or even declining, both in the United States and around the world.

Many economists expect carbon emissions to drop somewhat throughout the next few decades. But maybe they won’t. If 2018 is any indication, meekly positive energy trends will not handily reduce emissions, even in developed economies like the United States. It raises a bleak question: Are we currently on the worst-case scenario for climate change?

“We’re actually a lot closer than we should be; I can say that with confidence,” says Rob Jackson, an Earth scientist at Stanford and the chair of the Global Carbon Project, which leads the research tracking worldwide emissions levels.

When climate scientists want to tell a story about the future of the planet, they use a set of four standard scenarios called “representative concentration pathways,” or RCPs. RCPs are ubiquitous in climate science, appearing in virtually any study that uses climate models to investigate the 21st century. They’ve popped up in research about subjects as disparate as southwestern mega-droughts, future immigration flows to Europe, and poor nighttime sleep quality. Each RCP is assigned a number that describes how the climate will fare in the year 2100. Generally, a higher RCP number describes a scarier fate: It means that humanity emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the 21st century, further warming the planet and acidifying the ocean. The best-case scenario is called RCP 2.6. The worst case is RCP 8.5.“ God help us if 8.5 turns out to be the right scenario,” Jackson told me. Under RCP 8.5, the world’s average temperature would rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius, or nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit. “That’s an inconceivable increase for global temperatures—especially when we think about them being global average temperatures,” he said. “Temperatures will be even higher in the northern latitudes, and higher over land than over the ocean.”This scenario could still be in the planet’s future, according to Zeke Hausfather, an analyst and climate scientist at Berkeley Earth. Since 2005, total global greenhouse-gas emissions have most closely tracked the RCP 8.5 scenario, he says. “There may be good reasons to be skeptical of RCP 8.5’s late-century values, but observations to-date don’t really give us grounds to exclude it,” he recently wrote.Even if we avoid RCP 8.5, the less dramatic possibilities still could lead to catastrophic warming. Jackson, the Stanford professor, warned that every emissions scenario that meets the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree Celsius “goal” assumes that humanity will soon develop technology to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere. Such technology has never existed at industrial scales.“Even some [of the scenarios] for 3 degrees Celsius assume that at some point in the next 50 years, we will have large-scale industrial activities to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous game, I think. We’re assuming that this thing we can’t do today will somehow be possible and cheaper in the future. I believe in tech, but I don’t believe in magic.” Yet not all data suggest that we’re doomed to RCP 8.5 or equivalent amounts of warming, Hausfather cautions. If you look only at pollution from fossil-fuel burning—and not from land-use events like deforestation—then humanity’s recent record trends closer to RCP 4.5.

That’s good news, but only by comparison: RCP 4.5 still forecasts that global temperatures will rise by 2.4 degrees Celsius, enough to kill off nearly every coral reef and soar past the 2-degree target set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change. There are a few reasons it’s hard to say which RCP comes closest to our reality. First, most of the RCPs tell roughly the same story about global emissions until about 2025 or 2030. Second, the RCPs describe emissions across the entire sweep of the 21st century—and the century mostly hasn’t happened yet. Trying to pick the most likely RCP in 2018 is a bit like trying to predict the precise depth of late-night snowfall at 4:32 a.m. The RCP 8.5 scenario may also become less likely in years to come, even if major polluters like the United States, China, and India never pass muscular climate policy. RCP 8.5 says that the global coal industry will eventually become seven times bigger than it is today. “It’s tough to claim that … that is a business-as-usual world,” Hausfather says. “It’s certainly a possible world, but we also live in a world today where solar is increasingly cheaper than coal.” That’s part of the reason the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon expand its list of standard scenarios. Its next major synthesis report, due to be published in 2021, will replace RCPs with five “socioeconomic pathways”that allow for a broader range of futures. Jackson urged caution. “We don’t know yet what scenario we’re on,” he said. “I think most climate scientists will tell you that we’re below the 8.5 scenario. But every year that emissions increase like they have this year, it makes the 8.5 scenario more plausible.”Jackson published his first academic paper in 1989, just a year after the NASA scientist James Hansen first warned Congress that global warming had begun in earnest. I asked whether he thought actual emissions would ever come close to RCP 8.5.“It’s nuts,” he said. “But I used to think a lot of things were nuts that turned out not to be nuts.”
Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

The Irish Revolution’s overlooked history of nonviolent resistance

Waging Nonviolence - Sun, 01/20/2019 - 11:54

by David Carroll Cochran

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This month marks the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament. Amid the better-known events of a century ago that led to Ireland’s independence from its union with Britain, such as the Easter Rising or the island’s partition with the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the significance of Dáil Éireann’s founding on January 21, 1919 is often underappreciated. This is unfortunate, since it played a crucial role in the Irish Revolution’s outcome and was a path-breaking event in the emergence of nonviolent civil resistance methods over the last century.

The usual story of Ireland’s independence struggle runs something like this: Revolutionary movements such as Wolfe Tone’s United Irishmen in 1798 or the Fenians in 1867 staged a series of violent “risings” against British rule that, while creating romantic nationalist heroes, were easily suppressed (Google “the battle of Widow McCormack’s cabbage patch” to get a sense of how they often turned out). These “physical force nationalists” were opposed by “constitutional nationalists” such as Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell who instead pursued a nonviolent reformist agenda within the British political system that gradually proved more successful.

A political cartoon from 1886 showing men kicking British Prime Minister William Gladstone and the Home Rule bill in the air. (Wikimedia Commons)

O’Connell’s Catholic Emancipation movement won civil and political rights for Irish Catholics in the first half of the 19th century. Toward the end of the century, Parnell welded most of the British Parliament’s Irish representatives into the Irish Parliamentary Party, a block of votes that traded its ability to make or break majorities for concessions such as land reform that helped transfer farms from absentee British landlords to their Irish tenants. The chief goal of the constitutional nationalists was Home Rule, which would grant Ireland its own parliament and significant autonomy, though still as part of the larger British constitutional system and under some measure of British sovereignty. After a decades-long fight and several near misses, the British finally granted Home Rule in 1914, only to suspend it with the outbreak of World War I.

This is where momentum shifted back toward physical force nationalism. As majority-Protestant areas around Belfast in the north raised a militia and imported arms to resist Home Rule and keep the British union as it was, majority-Catholic areas in the rest of Ireland responded in kind. In an environment of increasing militarism, Patrick Pearse and a small group of armed rebels seized key positions in Dublin on Easter Monday in 1916 and proclaimed an Irish Republic completely independent of Britain.

The British military’s heavy-handed response — reducing the center of Dublin to ruin, executing the Rising’s leaders, imprisoning thousands not even involved, and declaring martial law — further radicalized the country. Within three years, the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, had launched a bloody insurgency campaign against British troops and local police units. The Anglo-Irish War, fought as a series of ambushes, assassinations and civilian reprisals, finally forced the British to cede Ireland its de facto independence in 1922, but only after partitioning off six counties that would remain part of the British union as Northern Ireland.

The usual story’s framing of violent versus reformist methods in Irish nationalism is true as far as it goes, but also incomplete. What it misses is a powerful third tradition of radical, extralegal, but still nonviolent resistance. In the 19th century, many rural communities, often organized by women in the Ladies’ Land League, refused to pay rent to British absentee landlords or work for their local land agents at harvest time. Indeed, our word “boycott” is named for Captain Charles Boycott, a land agent in County Mayo ostracized by his local community in 1880 during a noncooperation campaign.

An Irish Land League poster from the 1880s. (Wikimedia Commons)

Nonviolent methods grew more widespread leading up to and during the revolutionary period. In the years preceding to the Easter Rising, Dublin saw major industrial and transportation strikes; activists such as Helena Molony, arrested for destroying a picture of King George V during his coronation visit to Ireland, refused to pay fines and took jail sentences instead; and some Irish juries would not convict locals accused of opposing the British war effort during World War I. After the Rising, railway workers refused to carry British troops and munitions, other work-stoppages secured the release of political prisoners, and hunger strikes by Irish nationalists in British custody brought international condemnation down on the British government.

The key figure in this tide of nonviolent defiance was Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Féin. Griffith was not a principled pacifist, but he believed nonviolent methods would prove more effective against British rule in Ireland. His was a nationalism that advocated dissolving the political and economic ties that linked Ireland to Britain by acting as if they no longer existed, an approach signaled by the name Sinn Féin, which is Irish for “Ourselves.”

Founded a decade before the Easter Rising, Griffith’s Sinn Féin movement came into its own in the revolutionary environment of the Rising’s aftermath. When the British government, desperate to replace soldiers killed at the front during World War I, decided to extend military conscription to Ireland in early 1918, Sinn Féin joined labor unions and Catholic clergy to coordinate a massive nationwide civil disobedience campaign. Almost two million people signed an anti-conscription pledge after Sunday masses that April 21. Arresting Griffith and other movement leaders only strengthened opposition, and ultimately the British found conscription unenforceable.

The anti-conscription campaign was a springboard for Griffith’s most innovative idea: using British elections themselves to select, legitimize and seat a rival Irish government outside the British system. When elections to the British Parliament, long delayed by World War I and featuring a newly expanded franchise with the inclusion of women voters, arrived in late 1918, Sinn Féin candidates, again backed by labor activists and Catholic leaders, swept to victory everywhere except the unionist strongholds in the north. Following Griffith’s policy of “abstentionism,” they refused to take their seats in the British Parliament and instead, acting as if British authority no longer existed, gathered at Mansion House in Dublin to declare themselves Dáil Éireann, or Assembly of Ireland, establishing the independent Irish government that exists to this day.

The Sinn Fein members elected in the December 1918 election at the first Dail Eireann meeting, on January 21, 1919. (Wikipedia)

 

While the British outlawed the Dáil as a “terrorist organization,” it continued to operate underground in accordance with its newly drafted constitution, appointing government ministers, sending diplomats to foreign capitals, and issuing bonds to raise money hidden from British authorities in sympathetic Irish banks. Operating as a parallel government, it attracted increasing allegiance from ordinary Irish people.

Crucial to its growing legitimacy was the Dáil’s ability to extend its authority down to local communities. In early 1920, Sinn Féin again swept elections, this time at the city and county levels, gaining control of many local governments that quickly flipped their loyalty to the Dáil, refused to cooperate with British tax collection, switched their purchasing contracts to Irish-owned firms, and closed workhouses associated with the hated British poor-law system. Even more dramatic was the creation of “Dáil Courts,” a multi-tiered parallel judicial system that spread across most of Ireland. British courts formally remained in place, but they essentially ceased functioning as enforcers of British law when local people instead began taking their disputes to the new Dáil judicial system that became, in the words of one local observer, “the only authority in the County.”

The nonviolent defiance of British authority led by Dáil Éireann existed alongside and overlapped significantly with violent methods during the Anglo-Irish War. Many nationalists supported both approaches and moved back and forth between the Dáil’s political resistance and the IRA’s military operations. But while mainstream, popular historical accounts give the violence more attention and credit for the Irish Revolution’s outcome — often through romanticized accounts of leaders such as Michael Collins — they underplay or miss entirely other critically important aspects of the struggle.

The historical evidence is clear that the Dáil’s campaign of noncooperation and parallel government did just as much or more to make Ireland ungovernable and force the British into negotiations. These actions eventually led to an independent country in the 26 southern counties and the formal handover of administrative power to the Dáil as that country’s legitimate government.

Arthur Griffith. (Wikimedia Commons)

If the methods developed by Arthur Griffith and Dáil Éireann are underappreciated in the usual story of Ireland’s independence struggle, the same is true of their contributions to the history of nonviolent civil resistance more generally. Few realize the impact Griffith’s innovative techniques for withdrawing authority from an occupier had on better-known nonviolent campaigns that followed him. India’s is the most notable. After attending a Dublin Sinn Féin meeting in 1907, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “They do not want to fight England by arms but to ignore her, boycott her, and quietly assume the administration of Irish affairs.” Leaders of the Swadeshi movement that organized boycotts of British goods praised Griffith as a “model.” And, perhaps most significantly, Gandhi himself cited Griffith’s direct influence on his own ideas, though he decried the later turn to violence by many Sinn Féin members.

This influence shows how Griffith’s noncooperation techniques embodied by Dáil Éireann were important early contributors to one of the most significant developments of the last century: the emergence of organized civil resistance as an alternative to armed struggle. Indeed, as researchers such as Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth demonstrate, nonviolent civil resistance movements since 1900 are twice as likely as violent ones to succeed against an oppressive regime or foreign occupier.

And the case of Griffith and Dáil Éireann suggests such comparisons may actually understate the power of nonviolence. The Irish Revolution is an example of nonviolent strategies operating effectively, if more quietly, within an otherwise violent campaign, revealing how even seemingly successful violent movements may actually owe much of that success to overlooked nonviolent techniques operating behind the scenes. Dáil Éireann’s centenary, then, is a chance to celebrate this still-underappreciated revolutionary power of nonviolence.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Guildy Verdict in First #Cabeza9 Case

Earth First! Newswire - Sat, 01/19/2019 - 11:00

from No More Deaths – No Mas Muertes

FOUR NO MORE DEATHS VOLUNTEERS FOUND GUILTY FOR PROVIDING LIFE- SAVING HUMANITARIAN AID ON “TRAIL OF DEATH” IN ARIZONA DESERT

For Immediate Release
Contact: media@nomoredeaths.org 520-240-1641

January 18, 2019, TUCSON, AZ – A verdict of guilty was issued by Federal Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco today, convicting No More Deaths volunteers on all charges. Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco were charged with entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit and abandonment of property, and Ms. Hoffman was also charged with including operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area, all misdemeanor offenses. A date for sentencing will be set within the next ten days. Sentencing for each charge can range from 0 to 6 months of time in federal prison and a fine of up to $500.

The four aid workers are among nine No More Deaths volunteers facing prosecution for their efforts to place life-saving food and water on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a vast and remote area south of Ajo, Arizona where 155 border crossers are known to have died since 2001 and countless more have gone missing. The remaining volunteers facing misdemeanor charges are scheduled to begin trial on February 26 and March 4 of this year.

Catherine Gaffney, a long time No More Deaths volunteer, stated: “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country. If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”

In his ruling, Judge Velasco noted that the Refuge is “littered with unexploded military ordinances, the detritus of illegal entry into the United States, and the on-road and off-road vehicular traffic of the US Border Patrol,” while also stating that the life-saving water gallons and food left by No More Deaths volunteers “erode the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature.”

The remaining five volunteers facing misdemeanor charges for work on Cabeza Prieta are scheduled to begin trial on February 26 and March 4 of this year. One of the defendants is Ajo resident Dr. Scott Warren, who is also charged with felony harboring and conspiracy related to humanitarian aid work. Dr. Warren’s felony trial is scheduled to begin in late May of this year.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Finland: Civil Disobedience at Sastamala Enrichment Facility

Earth First! Newswire - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 15:55

Submitted to the Earth First! Journal

“What Meaning Does Monitoring Have If the Company is Allowed to Ruin the Environment Anyway?”

In Pirkanmaa, Finland, people who are concerned about Dragon Mining’s environmental impacts are taking action again. The Hyökyaalto Network is blocking work with nonviolent civil disobedience at a Dragon Mining enrichment facility in Sastamala.

The Hyökyaalto Network demands Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) to halt the establishment of the gold mine in Valkeakoski for conducting objective evaluation of effects on groundwater and waterways. According to the Network, the mine at Orivesi should also be closed. It operates without a valid environmental permit and can do this only because it has an ongoing appeal process in the court. In Orivesi, Dragon Mining should also be ordered to clean the illegal waste dump and restore polluted waters. In addition, protesters require AVI to stop the activities of the enrichment facility as it has spoiled the environment already for decades. Before further operations, the security of surrounding nature should be guaranteed.

According to Hyökyaalto, Dragon Mining aims to start mining activities in Valkeakoski without proper evaluation of environmental impacts. There is a serious risk that environmental destruction that have taken place in Orivesi and Sastamala will be repeated in Kaapelinkulma, Valkeakoski. The Network asks what is the meaning of permits and monitoring if the company is allowed to destroy the environment anyways. As recently as in the beginning of this January, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of the Environment hurried to convince the public that Dragon Mining’s permits are legitimate. However, none took stand on the actual problems. Protesters remind us that we only have the company’s own word that they are trying to fix the problems, but nobody supervises whether this actually happens.

Hyökyaalto requires Dragon Mining to stop playing with appeals and thrusting the responsibility on others’ shoulders. The Hyökyaalto Network says that it’s finally time to force a company that repeatedly violates its environmental permit to take care of its own environmental responsibility and clean the mess it has made. Protests will continue against Dragon Mining: On Saturday, 26th January, in the centre of Valkeakoski, Pelastetaan Kaapelinkulma (Save Kaapelinkulma) demonstration and discussion event are organized.

Contact information: hyokyaalto-media@riseup.net

For more photos, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/168687265@N05

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Why Americans need to act like the majority we already are

Waging Nonviolence - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:55

by Onnesha Roychoudhuri

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This article was first published in “Bye-Bye 45: A Guide to Bringing Him Down.” Read more about the action guide here.

Ever since the 2016 presidential elections, we’ve been served a million versions of what amounts to the same tired story. Whether it’s woven through the pages of the New York Times or written in all-caps on the Facebook page of your self-appointed-pundit uncle, it usually goes something like this: We’ve never been more divided. We need to reach across the aisle, “look past” our identities or differences — even if it’s to hold hands with avowed bigots — if we’re ever going to move forward.

Another story that’s always on tap? That we’re screwed. We can protest all we want, but our system is so corrupt that there’s really no point.

At their core, these narratives are both pretty dang cynical. Also, they don’t make a whole lot of sense. (Before we go on, a quick reminder that the majority of Americans did not vote for Donald Trump.) In reality, Americans are shifting left on issues ranging from equal pay, gay marriage, single-payer health insurance and affordable (or free) access to education. In other words, we’re far more aligned on issues that affect our daily lives than the daily news cycle may lead us to believe.

But what about the white working class? We’ve been told we can’t win unless we reach out to this monolithic entity and stop “playing identity politics.” Well, it turns out that the majority of the working class are actually people of color. (Also, can we stop talking about the white working class as though they’re a single movement of pitchfork-wielding, MAGA-hat-wearing bigots? It just ain’t true.)

There’s some basic math we need to reckon with here. The percentage of Americans who are straight white men — the historical flavor of choice for those who wield power in this country — amounts to fewer than 30 percent of Americans. That means the marginalized Americans among us — the queer folk, the black and brown, the immigrants, the women — are indisputably the majority. Throw in our white male progressive allies and we’re talking about a supermajority. If we want to win, we don’t need to “reach across the aisle” so much as reach out to our prospective allies to ensure they recognize our shared interest, and the power we have as a movement.

Preaching to the choir gets a bad rap. But reaching out to potential and likely allies to encourage them to take political action, whether at the ballot box or in the streets? That changes everything — making a more cohesive movement out of the marginalized majority that we are.

Case in point: Remember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary win? The press called it an upset, a surprising win. Just look at what the poll numbers were! When asked about it, Ocasio-Cortez responded that the win wasn’t so surprising at all. Polls, she has rightly pointed out, usually measure voters who are “likely” to turn out. Her approach? To reach out to voters who don’t normally turn out.

The notion that identity politics divides us is a bunch of malarkey: If you look at history, some of the most profound wins for American equality hinged on identity — from the civil rights movement to women’s suffrage. And it’s the most marginalized among us — particularly queer brown women — who have done much of the heavy lifting for social justice throughout America’s history.

We’re seeing that now, yet again. For the past two years, unprecedented numbers of marginalized Americans have been making their voices heard through protest and escalating direct action. In fact, since the 2017 Women’s March, decentralized protests have taken place in a record number of communities across the United States. The media generally suck at covering any kind of resistance to the status quo — especially when it comes to protest and direct action. They underestimate the number of people who come out; they assume that a group of people who don’t have a single, easily achievable demand is wasting their time. And because of that, media have a major blind spot around identifying what protest movements have succeeded in accomplishing.

From Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter to the Women’s March to the Fight for 15 to the DREAMers to climate justice, the grassroots movements of our time have worked individually and in tandem to radically alter the conversations we’re having, raising our expectations of what is possible and necessary. And we’re seeing a powerful sea-change: In November, record numbers of women and minorities ran for office and unseated the GOP majority in the House. They won in large part thanks to college-educated female voters and the formidable grassroots hustle that got out the vote.

The next time someone tries to tell you it’s hopeless or that we need to “reach across the aisle,” because we’ve never been more divided, tell them they’re right. We’ve never been more divided: Over decades, the Democratic and Republican platforms have become increasingly out of touch. The real divide in America is between what the majority of us want and need, and what a tiny minority — a handful of extremists in power — have been offering.

It’s time to for us to recognize our power and act like the majority we already are.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

National Gathering in London

No Dash for Gas - Reclaim the Power - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 07:12

Reclaim the Power is a UK based direct action network fighting for social, environmental and economic justice. We aim to build a broad based movement, working in solidarity with frontline communities to effectively confront environmentally destructive industries and the social and economic forces driving climate change.

In a deepening climate crisis, now is the time to join us so we can end fossil fuel extraction all over and bring our demands for a community owned renewables to the fore. It doesn’t matter whether you are an old or new face to Reclaim the Power, or whether this is the first time you’ve dabbled in activism. This is a pivotal time to get stuck in!

At our National Gatherings we use consensus decision making to develop strategies and make plans to take direct action in the name of climate justice. Gatherings are also a space to get empowered, meet new faces and learn from one another.

We are working on the agenda now but a sneak peak includes: making exciting decisions about our summer mobilisation against new gas infrastructure; skill-sharing; working group time on Supply & Demand (our national call out for decentralised actions against the fracking and new gas supply chains on Feb 22nd and 23rd) and; making solidarity banners ahead of the sentencing of the Stansted 15 in February.

Confirmed timings:
Saturday 26th January: 11am to 6pm
Sunday 27th January: 11am to 5pm

Where? The Printworks, 139 Clapham Rd, London, SW9 0HP

We will provide vegan lunches on both dates. We guarantee a constant supply of tea, coffee and biscuits. In true RTP tradition, there will be a social on Saturday night.

To request somewhere to sleep on Friday and/or Saturday, please fill in the below form as soon as you can with your requirements and we will match you to an appropriate space:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeGnPz1EFAm-IOc-kA2mldvvc20X_gVEOIf2_sgFF_zAydhRA/viewform

RTP also operate a solidarity travel fund to help people attend gatherings who would otherwise not be able to do so. Please email finance@nodashforgas.org.uk if you need help with the up front costs of your travel and try to book your transport asap so that our fund can help as many people as possible to attend.

Any general questions? Please post below or info@reclaimthepower.org.uk

Love & Rage

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Bull Rider Dies After Being Stomped in Denver Competition

Earth First! Newswire - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 11:14

Lowe died Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, after a bull stomped on his chest during a PBR chute-out competition at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)

from Yahoo! News, Jan 16, 2019

DENVER (AP) — A professional bull rider died after a bull stomped on his chest during a competition at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

The Professional Bull Riders say Mason Lowe died Tuesday evening after being taken to a hospital. Group spokesman Andrew Giangola said he was wearing a mandated protective vest.

The 25-year-old from Exeter, Missouri, was ranked 18th in the world.

He was injured while coming out of a chute on a bull weighing about 1,700 pounds (771 kilograms) and attempting to stay on for eight seconds.

A witness told KCNC-TV that Lowe fell off and was stomped as he tried to get up.

Professional Bull Riders CEO Sean Gleason says the group and the stock show extend sympathies to Lowe’s family.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

A Message from Ruby Montoya

Earth First! Newswire - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 11:01

submitted to the EF! Journal

Editor’s note: Ruby Montoya is an environmental activist and Catholic Worker who, in 2016 and 2017, sabotaged several pieces of equipment related to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. She, along with Jessica Reznicek, later publicly claimed responsibility for the actions before dropping off of public radar, offering occasional updates.

Greetings loved ones near and far! I am alive, I am living. Much has happened in this year, much has been learned with still more learning to do! I am back in Iowa after a year on the road, coast to coast to coast — many miles traveled and hardships earned. I am writing now to ask for support as I continue in a process of healing and building a better life in me, a life I wish to share with our communities as we all continue to create a greater and more authentic world despite these arduous and trying times. I battle daily against the psychological and emotional effects of state and corporate repression. The possibility of criminal charges is something that weighs heavy and real on my mind. Energy Transfer Partners is harassing friends,  while their paramilitary has been attempting to stalk and harass me. ETP continues in a lawsuit against me and others in efforts to create more hardship. I am asking for support — personally, communally, and financially — as I get back on my feet after being knocked hard.  Right now is a time for me to return to my roots, where I came into being, West of the Rocky Mountains and Colorado River. A van has been donated to me and now I ask for some “get on your feet” funds to head west and visit my family, whom I haven’t seen since stepping into the arena to “kill the black snake.” Please chip in to help me “get on my feet” here, or mail checks to Ruby Montoya, c/o Berrigan House, 713 Indiana Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, 50314 So much Love, Ruby P.S. if you would like to be added to my support list, please contact me via rurumon9@gmail.com or write me a letter (even better!) at the address above P.P.S. please feel open to circulating this among your trusted allies
Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

To weaken Trump, target his enablers

Waging Nonviolence - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 09:07

by L.A. Kauffman

Protesters called on Sen. Chuck Schumer to oppose Trump’s judicial nominees. (Flickr / cisc1970 )

This article was first published TK.

Here’s a paradox: The best way to bring down Donald Trump may be to not focus political energy on him.

Imagine the Trump presidency as a temple — say, in the style of the Greek Parthenon, but with the tackiness of Ancient Rome at its most vulgar and corrupt. If you want to bring it down, you don’t go pounding at the roof, just as you don’t hammer on a tabletop to collapse a table. Instead, you weaken or remove the pillars that support it and hold it up.

All governments rely on the consent of the governed. They also rely on a huge array of people and institutions to confer legitimacy upon them and cooperate with them in ways large and small. When the leader or the government is corrupt, unfit or came to power through questionable and undemocratic means, this everyday cooperation takes on the sinister character of collusion.

That is the most striking fact about Trump: From the time he first hit the campaign trail, his rise to power has been possible only because of enablers who treat him as a legitimate public figure or otherwise cooperate with his presidency. Nearly every member of the Republican Party has been complicit in Trump’s reign — but so have a great many Democrats, either tacitly or openly, as when Sen. Chuck Schumer cooperated in fast-tracking Trump’s judicial nominees. Twitter has allowed Trump to continue to use its platform despite repeatedly violating its terms of service; over and over again, major news media have repeated his lies without naming them as such and given outsized airtime to Trump’s every utterance.

Scholars of authoritarianism, like Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of the book “How Democracies Die,” underscore the crucial role of gatekeepers in either advancing or resisting autocratic rulers and rule. But the scholars have little to say about how to respond when gatekeepers abdicate that role, and when the normal checks and balances of our political system no longer function as they should.

That’s of course where grassroots movements and nonviolent civil resistance can come in: We have the potential to be the crucial check on a system that’s dangerously out of balance.

It’s not a bad thing to protest Trump himself — it’s useful to counter his lies and to have high-visibility displays of opposition to his abuses. But if we fail to pull away the sources of his support, we could protest Trump until we’re blue in the face without ever bringing him down.

This strategy entails putting pressure on Democrats as much as — or in some cases more than — Republicans. Democrats are generally more susceptible to progressive pressure than Republicans, because progressives are a part of their voting base. And Democrats have considerably more power to impede Trump’s actions than they’ve been willing to employ. Now that Democrats control the House, they have the power to hold hearings and conduct investigations that shine a spotlight on Trump’s corruption and duplicity. They also can pursue impeachment. While Democrats don’t have a majority in the Senate, they have a variety of means they could use there to slow or thwart Trump’s agenda — they could withdraw cooperation by, say, refusing to show up and thus denying a quorum, by filibustering, or by using other procedural maneuvers to gum up the works.

Targeting Trump’s enablers also means looking outside government to the institutions and entities that are helping Trump stay in power. Twitter, for instance — just imagine how much weaker Trump would be if he were banned from the platform for violating its terms of service, as he’s done many, many times. What about a sustained campaign to make that happen? Twitter has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle — all excellent targets for protest and pressure.

Many groups and individuals in the resistance have already been following some version of this strategy, and doing so with persistence and skill. To dream big and push for what we really want  — Trump out of office, and robust progressive alternatives — we’ll need not only to continue this work but to escalate the pressure: creatively, nonviolently and in the words of the direct-action group Rise and Resist, “with all the joy we can muster.”

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Announcing: UPRISE! Youth Activism Camp July 28-Aug 4 in Vermont

Earth First! Newswire - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 18:30

by Uprise

We’re inviting youth ages 13-19 to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont for one amazing week of teen empowerment, creativity, action, and friendship — all while strategizing for our collective future. As mentors with a broad spectrum of skills, we are passionate about empowering teens as organizers, change makers, and allies in our rapidly changing world.

The cost of the camp is $450 for the week, but please feel more than welcome to ask us about scholarships. Bring your hopes and fears for the future, your unique style and skills, your passion and ideas — but most of all, bring yourself, just as you are — and join us!

Click here to check out the workshops and apply!

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

On Slavery, Nat Turner, John Brown, and Drones: A Statement from Sean Swain

Earth First! Newswire - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 17:17

From June11.noblogs.org

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June11.org last year in the lead-up to the annual International Day of Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners. We are reposting it at the direct request of Sean Swain: “The [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] has decided to make me die in their prisons for the [following] article. So, please make sure this gets everywhere.”

In previous years, I have used the occasion of June 11 to roll out what I thought were pretty big ideas. In 2015, for example, I described how blastblog.noblogs.org had posted the home addresses of Ohio prison officials, including those who had orchestrated the torture regimen I endured at Mansfield. In that statement, opposing torture, I suggested that we collectively adopt a policy of self-defense against state terrorists, that when they torture us, we burn their cars and houses down; that when they stop the torture, we stop the burning.

The ODRC claimed that what I said constituted a threat to every single employee of the ODRC and their families. As what I wrote was a statement opposing torture, to me, it seems like something of an admission that every single employee of the ODRC was threatened. This means that even the ODRC recognizes that all of its employees participate in torture.

At any rate, as fate will have it, in 2017 when I undertook at 50-day hungerstrike, those home addresses were still posted. I have it on good authority that prison officials received death threats at their homes, at all hours of the night and day, phoned in from “exotic area codes.” I have also heard a rumor that, at one of those state terrorist’s residences, an item of property of significant value somehow ended up getting torched. I don’t know whose home, and I don’t know whether the significantly-valued property was a house or a car or even a barbecue grill, but I know this: After that piece of property got torched, state terrorists began negotiating an end to my hungerstrike and I got all of my communications restored.

As a side note, I have also heard a rumor – no telling how true this is – that blood evidence was found at the state terrorist’s residence where property was torched; the state tested it and discovered the DNA was mine. Not sure how something like that could happen, as I clearly have an alibi. I think it would take a pretty elaborate and complicated plan for anyone to have gotten my blood out of a maximum security prison to smear it around at a crime scene.

But that’s the rumor.

Every year, state terrorists retaliate against me for the content of my June 11 statements, usually through their kangaroo disciplinary process. I have come to think of my June 11 statements as a kind of “heart attack delivery system,” a weaponized form of communication designed to cause cardiac distress for state terrorists who ponder all the doom and disaster that confronts them if what I’m saying inspires you.

Please let this inspire you.

This year, there’s virtually nothing the state terrorists can do to me. I already have all of my communications suspended and I have been essentially kicked out of every single prison of higher security than this one.

I have to wonder what will get torched next… and where authorities will find my blood smeared.

With my mail monitored by federal authorities, this statement still made it to its destination. I think we can all agree that we really don’t feel safe with these geniuses protecting the public, right? I know I don’t.

So, at any rate, to the topic of this year’s statement…

When pondering what I might be able to do for the cause of freedom – true freedom, what anarchy really represents – I often ask myself, “What would Nat Turner do? What would John Brown do?” These are the questions that come to mind because we are all facing a system of slavery.

My enslavement is maybe a bit more obvious than yours, but yours is just as real as mine. Perhaps my experience is more analogous to the struggle of field hands during plantation days and perhaps your experience is more akin to the house servants. You have slightly more amenities that I do, a bigger pile of toys, but ask yourself: what would happen if you didn’t smile at your boss’s stale jokes? What would happen if you told that cop what you really thought of him and his authority? Never mind overt behaviors like waving fists, let’s just consider things as harmless as facial expressions. We live in a society so unfree that a boss can fire you or a cop can kill you, not for violent behavior or aggressive gestures, but for the look on your face.

Cops in Nevada had an intoxicated man sobbing and crawling around on the carpet in a hotel hallway for twenty minutes, playing some demented version of “Simon Says,” before pumping him full of slugs and killing him… for adjusting his pants that were falling down. The difference between that guy and you? You happened to not be in that hotel hallway. That’s all.

So, if you really think you’re free, you’re not paying attention.

And anyone who is not free is a slave.

I’m a slave. So are you. Our common enemy enslaves us.

So, I look to Nat Turner and John Brown as role models. They both sought to instigate slave rebellions. And just to demonstrate to you that I have no illusions about what those two figures really represent… After Nat Turner killed his slave-owner with a hatchet, and after he likewise killed that slave-owner’s wife and older children, Nat Turner left that plantation and permitted the slave-owner’s infant son to live. But, later on, he sent two rebels back to kill the child, as he came to realize that as long as that child was left alive, that child was his owner. That baby would inherit Nat Turner as a piece of property.

To be free, Nat Turner had to kill that infant. In the aftermath of that slave rebellion, that infant child was found headless in the fireplace. Its skull had been repeatedly dashed against the bricks.

So, just to be clear, I am fully aware of the unmitigated violence unleashed by Nat Turner in that famous slave rebellion, and I still consider Nat Turner a role model. If you enslave me and you have an infant son that will inherit me, and if you have a tasteful, brick fireplace, then you will probably want to make sure my fellow slaves and I never find a way to get our hands on some hatchets.

You really won’t like the outcome.

In the case of John Brown, he intended to raid the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry and distribute the firearms and ammunition to slaves, arming them in full knowledge that those slaves would utterly slaughter the plantation aristocracy of the South. Rather than fomenting rebellion with hatchets, leaving rebel slaves to dash infant brains against stone fireplaces, John Brown sought to provide guns that would make the bloodbath more efficient and much quicker.

You might outrun rebel slaves with hatchets.

You won’t outrun bullets.

At any rate, when I say I’m a big fan of Nat Turner and John Brown, just to be clear, I’m not talking about the polished portraits that the government may place on commemorative postage stamps. No, I’m referring to the enemies of the state who struggled for the wholesale destruction of the slave-owning class as a means for obtaining liberation, the rebels who were hung with nooses placed around their necks by that very same government that now issues commemorative postage stamps.

Most of my role models have been executed.

Go figure.

So, as I said, I often ask myself: What would Nat Turner do? What would John Brown do? Often, I find my mind drifting to technological advances like drones. It seems to me that if John Brown were alive today, he would likely be amassing a fleet of drones – for delivery of weapons and bolt cutters into prisons. If Nat Turner were alive today, he would be conspiring with underground resistance to arrange delivery of guns and ammunition, machetes and hatchets.

Consider this: The larger system reducing all of us to slavery relies on a few essential components to maintain control. One of those central components is the criminal justice complex, the courts and prisons, the capacity of the state to punish. This capacity to punish not only neutralizes those who rebel, like Marius Mason or Jeremy Hammond, the Cleveland 4 and the NATO 5, but the threat that this complex represents keeps the rest of us in our assigned seats, obeying, complying, following orders, maintaining the program.

If that capacity to punish was suddenly suspended or greatly impeded, not only would you have angry savages spilling out into the world, creating a real mess of things, but you would have a population emboldened, more and more, to wild out. So, the destruction of the prison complex is also the destruction of hierarchical disorder, the unraveling of the existent system, the collapse of the global slavocracy.

Drone deliveries of weapons and ammunition into the prison complex would be a great contribution to that collapse.

Consider, in Ohio prisons for example, on the inside of the prison fences, there are two operable firearms. One pistol remains in a safe in the warden’s office while the other remains in a safe in the office of the chief of security, the major. No one else inside the perimeter is armed with anything more than pepper spray or billy clubs, which can easily be appropriated by rebel prisoners with rifles. In such a scenario, agents of control would attempt to re-take the prison, but the same conditions that keep prisoners from getting out would also work to keep those agents from easily getting in. There exists no contingency plan for attempting to re-take a prison complex from armed rebels with assault rifles and perhaps hundreds of captured government forces.

None.

So, imagine how the government might respond to two or three or a dozen slave rebellions occurring at the same time, all involving armed rebels holding the prison hostage… and thereby holding the government hostage… and thereby holding the hierarch model hostage. A dozen Attica or Lucasville Uprisings… where prisoners are locked and loaded.

We’re not just talking about spectacle – although it would certainly be a spectacle – we’re talking about a critical disjuncture, an event so cataclysmic and so utterly devastating to both the reality and the myth of hierarchy that generations would understand existence in such a way that there was the “world before” and the “world after” these rebellions. It would be the Titanic, the Hindenburg, 911, and Columbine, all wrapped up into one event.

So, given this great potential, we have to ask: Why hasn’t this happened yet? As far as I can tell, there are two reasons. First, the cost of drones and weapons. Second, the penalties for getting caught. I’d like to address these issues in that order.

The cost of a drone that can carry a decent payload might be a few grand. I remember a few years back, the top-of-the-line drone was $2,500. No doubt, drones have advanced and costs have increased.

But, I would point out that after the initial pay-out in purchasing a drone, this is a project that can more than pay for itself. With a drone, you can generate a great deal of revenue. Here at Warren Correctional, for instance, five founds of tobacco can get you roughly $4,000, and if the prisoner on the receiving end is willing to go to the troubles of breaking up that bulk amount into packages for sale to the consumers, it could get you up to as a much as $10,000.

We’re talking tobacco here, not cocaine or meth. One delivery per month of five pounds of tobacco would generate a minimum of $48,000 per year – just from this prison.

But consider: There are a number of other prisons with cell blocks where drone deliveries of tobacco can be effectively made. So, with one drone, someone could conceivably generate more than half a million dollars per year in drone deliveries of tobacco just to Ohio prisons with cell blocks. That doesn’t include deliveries of cell phones, which can go for as much as $500 a piece, or pot, or hard drugs, or specialty items like bottles of vodka or cigars or Penthouse magazines; rope ladders, explosives, or bolt cutters.

Half a million dollars a year from twelve deliveries across Ohio per month. That could fund a lot of radical activity. We’re talking about becoming the “professional anarchists” that Donald Trump predicted right after his inauguration.

Now, if anyone feels badly about delivering over-priced lung cancer to prisoners, you should know that five pounds of tobacco will flow into this prison and guards will pocket the profits unless you cut them out and monopolize the tobacco deliveries. Somebody will deliver high-priced lung cancer to prisoners. The question is whose pockets will get filled. Will it be opportunists who hate prisoners, or will it be rebels who use that money to liberate prisoners?

I think that probably covers the economic aspect. As to the penalties for getting caught, when you move from tobacco to dropping off dufflebags full of AR-15 rifles, you’re facing some really serious penalties. If you get caught, state terrorists are going to bury you.

I would suggest not getting caught.

There are folks who have already gotten caught making drone deliveries into prisons. You can probably look at the mistakes they made in order to avoid repeating them. Things I would suggest in order to avoid getting caught:

  • Do not have drones registered in your name. Buy a used drone from before registration was mandatory, or send in someone to buy the drone for you and then report it as stolen.
  • Do not deliver during daylight hours. As all deliveries are done at night during limited visibility, you will need more planning and advance coordination.
  • Do not deliver to dormitories. In prisons with dorms, you have hundreds of witnesses. You want to deliver to cell blocks so that you can deliver to a specific cell window where a maximum of two occupants are aware of what happened.
  • Do not attach the payload to the drone itself. You want a few hundred feet of high-test fishing line that you use to connect the payload to the drone, or some metal cable spray-painted black. That way, the drone can remain at a much higher altitude where it cannot be seen or heard while the payload arrives at the proper cell window.
  • Fly the drone at maximum altitude until it is directly over the delivery point. Once you make the first delivery and establish the drone’s position, you can program the drone to stop at that exact point every single time.
  • Coordinate deliveries in advance. That means the prisoner receiving the delivery should have a cell phone or some other method of communicating so that monitored phones and emails aren’t used. Coordinated deliveries guarantee that the drone will be present over the prison for the shortest amount of time. In and out. Zoom, zoom. Then, gone.

If anarchists and prison abolitionists across the country begin drone deliveries in state prisons, collectives in all fifty states could generate millions of dollars that provide anarchists the luxury of making rebellion their full-time jobs. It would also provide massive funds for proxies to take to gun shows for purchasing stockpiles of weapons and ammunition. Then, whenever prison riots or disturbances begin, or wherever prisoner rebels are planning on getting started, a drone delivery of weapons could be on the way.

Advances in drone technology have already evolved so that drones can now carry a payload of hundreds of pounds, making it possible to transport a human being by drone. It could be that, by this time next year, I will be writing about how rebels can use the commercially-available high-end drones to conduct selective extractions from prisons. And, perhaps, by then, prison abolitionists will have already generated millions of dollars and will already have the drone-delivery experience to start those extractions.

What would Nat Turner and John Brown think about our current era and the possibilities of slave uprisings?

Interesting times.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Climate Justice Forum: Railroad Bridge Navigation Comments, Idaho Oil & Gas Commission Resignation, Pipeline Protesters at Oregon Governor Inauguration, Canadian Police & Pipeline Invasion, Indigenous Peoples March Interviews 1-16-19

Wild Idaho Rising Tide - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 13:00

The Wednesday, January 16, 2019, Climate Justice Forum radio program, produced by regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide, features news and reflections on navigation comments on proposed, Lake Pend Oreille, railroad bridges, an Idaho oil and gas commission conflict of interest resignation, pipeline resistors’ disruption of an Oregon governor’s inauguration, coastal, First Nations opposition of police and pipeline invasions, and interviews of indigenous peoples movement activists and Washington DC march organizers.  Broadcast for seven years on progressive, volunteer, community station KRFP Radio Free Moscow, every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 pm Pacific time, on-air at 90.3 FM and online, the show describes continent-wide resistance to fossil fuel projects, the root causes of climate change, thanks to the generous, anonymous listener who adopted program host Helen Yost as her KRFP DJ.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Unauthorized Washington Post offers a fantasy grounded in movement wisdom

Waging Nonviolence - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 12:40

by Sarah Freeman-Woolpert

L.A. Kauffman hands out copies of the unauthorized Washington Post outside the White House. (WNV / Sarah Freeman-Woolpert)

On Wednesday morning, as commuters in Washington D.C. made their way to work, the front page of what appeared to be the Washington Post had people stopping in their tracks. The headline read: “UNPRESIDENTED: Trump hastily departs White House, ending crisis.”

Upon closer inspection, a few things about this free “special edition” didn’t seem quite right. For starters, the paper was dated May 1, 2019, and the tagline read “Democracy awakens in action” instead of the Post’s usual “Democracy dies in darkness.” Meanwhile, the paper itself was filled with stories about a tidal wave of creative resistance — led mainly by women — that had ousted Donald Trump from office.

“Can I get some more copies?” asked one man passing by distributors near the White House. “I’m a federal employee, and my colleagues will love this.”

From a colorful quinceañera dress blockade opposing the border wall to parents and young children engaging in “sippy cup sit-ins” at Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office to protests of Twitter forcing the deactivation of Trump’s account, the stories paint a picture of a potential future without Trump — and the strategic, creative ways to make that happen.

The front page of a “special edition” of the Washington Post put out by the Yes Men.

Two of the masterminds behind this creative stunt are none other than the Yes Men, a pair of high-profile pranksters famous for culture-jamming, impersonation and hoaxes. But this time they weren’t alone. Their action grew out of a nine-month-long collaboration with two female authors and activists: L.A. Kauffman and Onnesha Roychoudhuri.

“The Yes Men — now with women!” Roychoudhuri jokes. “It’s one of those funny things — it’s a Yes Men project, and it’s been spearheaded by two women.”

This was not the first time the Yes Men were involved in producing a fake newspaper with positive, hopeful stories, allowing people to imagine the future they want to see. They released a fake New York Times in 2008 and a fake New York Post the following year. But this time, they took things a step further:

An action guide accompanied each copy of the unauthorized Washington Post.

Each of the 25,000 copies distributed in Washington D.C. includes an action guide packed with tools and resources to help make these stories become reality. [Editor’s note: Waging Nonviolence will be publishing stories from the action guide in the coming days.]

“It’s a fantasy of the future we want to create, bundled with the tools to create that future,” said Kauffman, who developed the action guide in tandem with Roychoudhuri.

Drawing from a vast body of academic research and activist manuals — by the likes of political scholar Gene Sharp, Serbian resistance group OTPOR, the “Beautiful Trouble” toolbox and others — the action guide distills organizing knowledge down into clear, easily-digestible takeaways for the general public. The stories inside the newspaper apply these principles in realistic scenarios, showing what it all looks like when put into practice.

One example of this dynamic at work can be seen in the paper’s story of a mounting protest movement that culminates with 11 million Americans in the streets opposing the Trump presidency. This example draws on political scientist Erica Chenoweth’s research, which found that active resistance by only 3.5 percent of the population — 11 million in the case of the United States —  is needed to bring down a dictator.

Similarly, the story about a “bundle” of 64 progressive bills — advancing Medicare for all, student loan forgiveness, voting rights protection and a Green New Deal — embodies an important organizing principle: the importance of having a transformative vision. Longtime organizer, author and Waging Nonviolence columnist George Lakey has written extensively about this principle, and — fittingly — the action guide features an excerpt from his new book “How We Win,” which makes the case for proposing alternatives and building new institutions.

The “bundle” was developed to showcase the broad support many progressive policies have across the political spectrum. After the election, Roychoudhuri explained, she was frustrated by the pervasive narrative that the country was more divided than ever. “If you look at the majority, there’s a lot of agreement there,” she said. “So the divide is actually between the majority and a handful of extremists in power.”

Another key principle detailed in the action guide is the “pillars of support” — the idea that people and institutions are what give any regime its power, and therefore should be the targets of protest. The newspaper showcased this principle in action with a story about protesters deciding to target key Congressional leaders instead of Trump himself. Another article followed up on the “pillars of support” principle in a sillier way — describing acts of everyday resistance that created constant inconveniences for Trump administration officials, from being refused restaurant service to matches on dating apps.

Many of the fictional actions featured in the newspaper resemble real acts of resistance that have taken place against the Trump administration, from queer dance protests to the historic numbers of women who have engaged in protests and resistance since Trump’s inauguration.

“These stories show a reality adjacent to what has been in motion already since Trump took office,” Kauffman said. “[Then we tie these to] what has worked in other contexts, both in the United States and around the world.”

The paper took a conscious approach to centering the crucial, often-overlooked role that women — particularly women of color — have played in shaping the creative, coordinated resistance to the Trump agenda. This can be seen not only in the newspaper articles and action guide themselves, but also in the collaborative process that made it all possible.

“Resistance to Trump has been led and shaped by women, and it’s important to keep naming that, celebrating that and finding the joy and humor in that,” Kauffman said.

Another goal of the project, according to Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men, is to raise the issue of impeachment and dispel the main arguments against it. “There are a couple of things that come up when you talk about Trump’s impeachment or getting rid of him that we wanted to diffuse,” he said. “One is that Pence is worse and the other is that it could lead to civil war, that he’s not going to go quickly.”

Two stories address these points. The one regarding Pence suggests he would have a “clipped duck” presidency due to a Democratic majority in the House, the taint of Trump’s failed legacy behind him and a greatly weakened base of support. The other story — titled “The civil war that never was” — describes the concern after Trump issues a tweet telling his supporters to defend the presidency and “vote with your trigger finger.” But fears are allayed when a massive turnout of creative, peaceful protesters scares off any die-hard followers. Like many of these stories, this one mirrors a real example of how nonviolent protest overshadowed white supremacist rallies in the wake of the 2017 protests in Charlottesville.

It’s this kind of embedded history and knowledge that the team behind the newspaper and action guide want to impart — so that the millions of newly or recently activated people across the country can learn from the collective wisdom of movements that came before them. That’s why more copies of the newspaper will be handed out at various actions in New York City over the coming weekend, like the Non-March for Disabled Women, to share these tools with a new wave of activists mobilizing for progressive change.

“The resistance to Trump is far from the first movement in American history to face tough times and challenging odds,” Kauffman said. “Movements of the past have learned through experience how slow change can be at times, how much persistence is required, and how much tenacity you need in the face of a powerful opponent.” That being said, the Post hoax doesn’t ignore the exceptionalism of the civil resistance that has become so widespread since Trump was elected.

“People don’t feel in their bones how extraordinary the scale of what is happening now,” Kauffman said. “We are more active in numbers than at any point in U.S. history.”

Roychoudhuri refers to the paper’s vision as “reality adjacent” by portraying existing resistance through a fictional, futuristic lens. “[These stories are] rooted in what has been happening on the ground.”

Instead of seeing the Trump administration as an unprecedented, insurmountable threat to democracy, the action guide contextualizes this presidency within a history of dictatorship and authoritarianism, and shows how nonviolent movements have faced and overcome these regimes for generations.

An action like this does not always have clear outcomes or successes, but plants ideas to foster people’s creativity and allow them to imagine the future they want to see.

“The effects of organizing can rarely be seen in the moment,” Kauffman said. “There’s a faith you have to have.”

Bichlbaum also echoed that this action won’t be judged by a tangible outcome, but by the way it inspires people to renew their resolve to shape the headlines of the future.

“We’re saying, ‘Here’s this big, beautiful vision that could actually work,” he said. “It’s not real or fake news. It’s potential news.”

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Railroad Bridges Navigation Comments to Coast Guard Due January 17

Wild Idaho Rising Tide - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 16:45

Soon after Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) filed our opening brief challenging an Idaho Department of Lands/Land Board encroachment permit for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) District 13 bridge program chief Steven Fischer released public notices on December 18, 2018, acknowledging that the USCG has received an application from BNSF, which requests approval of proposed construction locations and plans for second, parallel bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille, both navigable waterways of the United States [1-3].  The lead, federal agency regulating this project is currently asking for public comments exclusively on the “reasonable needs of navigation” potentially affected by the new railroad bridges, encouraging boaters, maritime stakeholders, and the public to carefully review its notice and bridge expansion project summary, plans, diagrams, maps, and locations [4-6].

Please view the searchable, PDF copies of official, signed versions of BNSF applications, as well as the USCG bridge permit application guide and WIRT’s draft comment suggestions describing information missing from the Coast Guard-provided documents and navigation impacted by the proposed, BNSF bridges [7-9].  In your comments, specifically address the compromised safety of navigation around bridge structures and explain other possible, bridge effects on navigation in “sufficient detail to establish a clear understanding of reasons for support of, or opposition to, the proposed work.”  Express your views on or before January 17, 2019, by writing, calling, and sending mail to Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, 915 Second Avenue, Room 3510, Seattle, WA 98174-1067, email to D13-PF-D13BRIDGES@uscg.mil, and/or a call to 206-220-7282.

Request inclusion of your comments in the public record for this winter-inappropriate, navigation comment period offering limited, public information and for the forthcoming environmental assessment or more community-preferred and scientifically rigorous, draft environmental impact statement for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector project.  The Coast Guard has not yet completed this separate, environmental review document nor published public and Federal Register notices announcing its availability for review.  WIRT and regional allies will alert you when the USCG releases it, so you can contribute further, effective comments on the socioeconomic and environmental factors and implications of this industrial invasion of the Pend Oreille watershed.

Thanks for your resistance to this fossil fuels-facilitating, railroad scheme and your support of the WIRT collective’s #No2ndBridge litigation of the Idaho encroachment permit for this project, as we continue to work together to protect the health, beauty, and enjoyment of beloved Lake Pend Oreille and interior Northwest air, waters, and lands.

[1] COAST GUARD #No2ndBridge NAVIGATION COMMENTS DUE 1/17/19! December 18, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] USCG Seeks Bridge Comments, December 20, 2018 Bonner County Daily Bee

[3] Coast Guard Seeks Comments on Rail Bridge Navigation, January 11, 2019 Sandpoint Reader

[4] Public Notices for Bridges: BNSF Proposal, U.S. Coast Guard:

PN N05-18 Sand Creek, Bonner County, Idaho

PN N06-18 Lake Pend Oreille, Bonner County, Idaho

[5] Public Notice D13-PN05-18: Sand Creek, Bonner County, Idaho, BNSF Bridge Proposal, U.S. Coast Guard

[6] Public Notice D13-PN06-18: Lake Pend Oreille, Bonner County, Idaho, BNSF Bridge Proposal, U.S. Coast Guard

[7] Bridge Permit Application Guide, July 2016 U.S. Coast Guard Office of Bridge Programs

[8] DRAFT USCG COMMENT SUGGESTIONS (1 of 2: MISSING INFORMATION) December 20, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[9] DRAFT USCG COMMENT SUGGESTIONS (2 of 2: IMPACTED NAVIGATION), January 12, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Another End of the World is Possible: Indigenous Solidarity and Blocking Extractive Infrastructure in Canada

Earth First! Newswire - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 13:55

from MTL Counter-Info

Not only can blockades “shut down the world”, they also open up space for a new one to be built, or in the case of colonized peoples, a world restored. We can look to many of the indigenous blockades or occupations of the last several decades for the examples of ceremonial, culinary, and other socially reproductive practices that point toward new ways of living which are themselves produced through resistance. Similarly, we see the revitalization of warrior culture being expressed at Standing Rock and other moments of indigenous revolt to be indicative of a broader possibility of life without the state or capitalism.[…]

We hold evident that blockades are a crucial tactic in our war against planetary annihilation. […] With this tactical imperative, we call on all warriors and revolutionaries around the world to immediately orient themselves around blockading infrastructure. Collectives must research infrastructure to find the most vulnerable chokepoints and get organized to block them in effective ways. Those without fighting comrades can still contribute by engaging in lone wolf acts of sabotage. – Disrupt the Flows: War Against DAPL and Planetary Annihilation

We are several settler anarchists in the territory dominated by the Canadian government. Our goal in writing this text is to bring forward some strategic considerations for anarchists who want to contribute to land defense, as well as to publicize some research about the vulnerabilities of Canadian extractive infrastructure for that purpose. We also hope that indigenous communities can use this research to their own ends as well.

We understand the task at hand in our corner of the world as no less than decolonizing the territory dominated by the Canadian government and capitalist economy. Decolonizing this territory necessarily means destroying its colonial governance – a government which depends upon the continuing genocide of indigenous people so that it can maintain sovereignty over the land that it stole. Its system and the way of life it brings is fundamentally built on exploitation of the land and those who inhabit the land.

It’s no secret that the Canadian economy is strongly dependent on ‘natural resource’ exploitation. The transportation infrastructure this economy relies on to get these resources to market, and give them value, is virtually indefensible and its bottlenecks are often close to indigenous communities – which as we will see, is making counter-insurgents panic. Unfortunately, anarchists have rarely engaged with the potential for action and solidarity that this situation of dependency and vulnerability opens up.

We believe that we can’t limit land defense to parcels of territory to be conserved, or settler incursions into treatied territory, because the colonial economy poisons the watershed and spreads destruction beyond these colonial borders. Overthrowing the entire colonial economy is a very long-term undertaking, but in the medium-term we want to build a capacity to block and destroy industrial infrastructure and developments, from pipeline construction to mining and damming operations, to whatever extractive projects indigenous people are resisting. When there is movement capacity, our blockades can become communes; spaces that interweave defense with collective care, and that do away with the laws and logic of capitalism and the government.

We think it’s integral that anarchist contributions to land defense move towards more collective forms of resistance that block infrastructure, as well as face to face relationship-building between anarchist and indigenous communities, but this text will focus on the smaller scale of affinity groups because they are contributions that can happen in the short-term (while impacting the medium- and long-term), and these contributions can happen even when there isn’t a community mobilized against a particular extractive project.

Thinking of how we can contribute in the short-term is valuable to us because most of the time there aren’t escalated tensions around land defense struggles, and we want to act in the present as well as be adequately prepared for when there are. Firstly, contributions in the short-term will help to build an imaginary of how the extractive economy can be resisted in times when there isn’t movement capacity for prolonged occupations, with the goal that these tactics will be taken up more broadly in future social unrest around resource extraction. Also, actions like these can have significant material impacts on extractive projects in the present that have real consequences against the ongoing genocidal project of Canada. Lastly, it can demonstrate to indigenous communities that anarchists are taking risks against shared enemies in our own struggle. We believe this is a prerequisite for powerful solidarity.

As Canada accelerates ecological destruction, and as global warming makes the northern latitudes of Turtle Island of greater strategic and economic value to governments, conflicts between the Canadian government and indigenous people defending the territory will become even more frequent. Anarchists should be prepared to contribute to these moments in a meaningful and effective way, beyond the limited symbolism of actions like banner drops and breaking windows, which have little impact on their targets. The technical skills required to block pipelines and rail are not great, but they still require more development and foresight than putting a rock through glass [see Appendix 6 – Techniques for sabotaging capitalist infrastructure and extractive industries]. Being able to step up our solidarity requires developing practices of sabotage in the present, as well as relationships of struggle between anarchists and indigenous communities engaging in land defense. Such relationships will be essential to moving past the largely limited solidarity expressed through communiques, as well as gauging how different forms of solidarity will be received by different, heterogenous communities in struggle.

In 1990 during the Oka Crisis, when a capitalist development on a Mohawk burial ground created an armed conflict with the Canadian government, sabotage of hydro-electric towers and hard blockades of highways and railways spread like wildfire. This threat of indigenous insurgency is a primary consideration in police operations against any indigenous action, because the government has seen how such sparks can ignite a powderkeg if they don’t tread carefully, particularly when they involve land or treaty claims. During a land defense occupation at Caledonia in 2006, the Commissioner of the OPP explained that he acted on the premise that a misstep on the part of his officers against the occupation would have led to “[a native] flare-up right across the country”, so to deter this greater threat the OPP took no direct action against it [for more on how counter-insurgency strategy has developed since Oka, see From Oka to Caledonia: Assessing the Learning Curve in Intergovernmental Cooperation].

Those who sabotage critical infrastructure, capitalist development, and the police who defend them will unfortunately always be in the minority, but if this minority has a base of social support it is much more difficult to isolate or uproot. This minority’s contributions can have a contagious impact when they inspire others. Being an active minority comes with the risk of instrumentalizing the communities we are in solidarity with, so we are careful to distinguish this path from a vanguardist one:

“The key difference between an influential, insurrectionary minority and a vanguard or a populist group is that the former values its principles and its horizontal relations with society and tries to spread its principles and models without owning them, whereas a vanguard tries to control them – whether through force, charisma, or hiding its true objectives… The influential minority works through resonance, not through control. It assumes risks to create inspiring models and new possibilities, and to criticize convenient lies. It enjoys no intrinsic superiority and falling back on the assumption of such will lead to its isolation and irrelevance. If its creations or criticisms do not inspire people, it will have no influence. Its purpose is not to win followers, but to create social gifts that other people can freely use.” – The Rose of Fire has Returned

And in the case of critical infrastructure whose disruption has a cascading effect, the counter-insurgents said it well:

“..The hard lessons about just how devastatingly effective a small band of determined and well-led (sic) rebels can be.” – Douglas Bland

It may be useful to look closer at how these enemies are thinking about indigenous insurgency in Canada. Conservative military analyst Douglas Bland has long warned that Canada’s economic vulnerability is based on the “critical infrastructure that transports natural resources and manufactured goods from mines, oil fields, hydro-electric facilities and factories to international markets.” Without these critical systems, he cautions, “Canada’s economy would collapse.” His writings warn policy makers of the threat of indigenous insurgency in Canada based on ‘Feasibility Theory’. In counter-insurgency literature, predicting the likelihood of insurgency is shifting from a model centered on the motivations of insurgents to a model centered on how feasible an insurgency is in a given context. Grievances that give motivation to insurgency are a constant that can’t be redressed in a context of colonial genocide, or capitalism for that matter. For that reason, counter-insurgents are studying what makes an insurrection feasible to begin with, and then proposing policies aimed at eliminating those conditions to the extent possible.

Feasibility Theory lists five determinants of what makes an insurgency feasible, which Bland argues are all present within the Canadian context, and of which the Canadian government only has some measure of control over the first three. They are:

1) Social Fractionalization – jargon for class and colonial oppression and the threat of indigenous sovereignty. The government seeks to address this through assimilation, buying out communities resisting extractive projects, and structures like band councils that maintain government control over the population through indigenous faces working for colonial interests.

2) Warrior Cohort – young and middle aged men who are likely to become warriors. Bland completely overlooks the ways women and two-spirit people contribute to indigenous resistance. The government tries to reduce this populations ‘recruitement’ into resistance movements through education and training programs aimed at assimilation.

3) Security Guarantee – the perception of the government’s capacity for repression and securing infrastructure. The government tries to minimize the threat of an inadequate security guarantee through funding the training of on-reserve police services. As we saw with the Chateauguay settler riots during the Oka standoff, this repressive function can also be carried out by settler society.

4,5) Commodity Exports & Topography – “Jurisdiction control of the land remains largely undetermined and at issue. Canada’s transportation and energy infrastructure – the backbone of the country’s resource trade – overlays or borders on many of these Aboriginal and disputed lands. With Canadian natural resource development, extraction, and trade representing 25 percent of Canadian GDP, the security of transportation and energy infrastructure is critical. Canada’s transportation and energy infrastructure has considerable vulnerabilities: it covers vast distances, has limited redundancy and multiple choke-points, and is susceptible to cascading effects should disruptions be sustained or widespread. Its vulnerability and resulting risk to the Canadian economy is significant, and sustained disruption would have catastrophic effects with a matter of weeks.” Topography and reliance on exports are the two determinants that are impossible to change. In fact, Canada is slated to become more dependent on its export economy in the coming years.

All that said, we don’t need proof of the feasibility of indigenous insurgency from a white academic. We see it in the consistent history of indigenous resistance to genocide since contact, and recently in flareups at Oka, Ipperwash, Ts’Peten, Caledonia, Six Nations, Elsipogtog and across the territory during Idle No More.

The appendixes that follow take a look at how extractive infrastructure is vulnerable in more detail. We hope they prove valuable to affinity groups and communities fighting the extractive economy across the territory.

For the full appendices, click here.

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

Despite crackdown, teachers in Zimbabwe keep pressure on a regime in transition

Waging Nonviolence - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 11:24

by Phil Wilmot

Members of ARTUZ during their 170-mile march to Harare in December. (WNV/Phil Jambaya)

Remember that Monday morning feeling, your lethargic legs dragging you begrudgingly back to the classroom? Jan. 7 was nothing of the kind for about 100 students in Harare, Zimbabwe. Their teachers set up their classrooms in Africa Unity Square. Excitement filled the open air, even as police lurked nearby.

Ultimately, however, school didn’t last long that day. Before lessons even kicked off, the police stormed the public classroom, arresting nine members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, or ARTUZ, who were offering free open air schooling, despite being in the midst of an indefinite strike.

Fortunately, the teachers were released after just a few hours of detention, and they returned to what they are calling their #SalaryCamp — an occupation outside the office of Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube. Teachers had launched the camp in response to Ncube having revoked salary payments in U.S. dollars — as guaranteed in their contracts — and sliced annual bonuses by nearly a half.

The persistence of the #SalaryCamp, which has escalated into a nationwide multi-industry strike, is currently facing severe repression by Zimbabwe’s government, including extrajudicial killings and internet blackouts. Yet, all this would not be happening if it weren’t for a bold step taken by rural teachers one month and 170 miles ago.

On Dec. 9, ARTUZ members and a few allies set off from Mutare — a rural province hosting the annual ARTUZ conference — on their way to Ncube’s office in Harare. They quickly encountered the expected challenges: foot blisters, inadequate shelter and fatigue. Soon, however, these obstacles were supplemented by arrests, police blockades and one of the marchers going into labor. Their persistence to reach the capital city was nothing short of remarkable.

The ARTUZ struggle for fair wages is reborn

Zimbabwe’s rural teachers didn’t wake up one morning with a whim to march. Their position on low pay and poor working conditions has been long standing. In October 2017, ARTUZ declared rural teachers the most heavily affected public servants by Zimbabwe’s cash crisis — a shortage of U.S. dollars, which had been publicly preferred to the hyperinflated Zimbabwean dollar or the illegitimate bond notes introduced in 2016.

ARTUZ members taking part in the pockets out campaign. (WNV/Phil Jambaya)

To express their lack of basic needs, teachers undertook a “pockets out” campaign in September 2017 to remind the public of their plight. Former Education Minister David Coltart joined the action, as did people of all sectors across Zimbabwe who felt turning their pockets inside-out was a safer way to express their destitution than participating in a heavily-policed protest.

This campaign was insufficient in achieving the demands of the public servants. To make matters worse, in October, Zimbabwe’s government began violating its negotiated agreement with the teachers by refusing to pay them their $100 per month salary in U.S. dollars. The government started paying teachers in bank transfers that reduced actual salaries to about a third. Adding insult to injury, annual bonuses were nearly slashed in half.

In a letter addressed to Minister Ncube on Dec. 4, ARTUZ secretary general Robson Chere announced the march to the capital, promising to “storm Harare” upon their Dec. 19 arrival. A call went out the same day to all ARTUZ members — as well as other teachers organized by the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators’ Union — to join the caravan. A day later, over 500 people had registered for the march. But in a country where public order laws are designed to curtail nonviolent public dissent, it is not uncommon for those numbers to dwindle in the lead-up to any protest.

“To encourage participation among participants who feared the likelihood of repression, we would read stories of nonviolent struggles and discuss them as a group,” Chere said. “This helped us encourage one another.”

Still, as expected, participants began to drop out as the day to start the march drew close. In fact, by the time they began the journey on Dec. 9, only 102 marchers showed up. However, others joined on the way, as the caravan passed through numerous villages. The march was also helped by having leaders from the Citizens’ Manifesto — a national platform working to unite Zimbabweans around a common political vision.

On the third day of the march, morale was high among the teachers and their allies. They even had a sense that nature was on their side, as they watched heavy rains pelt the surrounding areas, but never their route. The state, however, was not on their side. According to an update issued by ARTUZ, police with vicious dogs had already begun trailing the caravan.

The front page of a Zimbabwean state-controlled newspaper last week. (WNV/Phil Jambaya)

By Dec. 12, with the caravan now in Rusape, 59 miles from its origin, the protesters had already met small traders, students, traditional leaders, farmers, members of parliament and academics, as they stopped in more densely populated areas to engage in public dialogue over the transgressions of the Ministry of Finance. As ARTUZ noted in a Dec. 12 update, “This long distance will give [our] employer enough time to find solutions to our pressing challenges and also help build anger amongst us to fight harder if our concerns are not addressed.”

By day six, only about 63 members were in able-bodied condition to carry on with the march, but ARTUZ was not ready to let its power dwindle. So those who could not continue were invited to send personal messages to Ncube’s desk. Others offered food and other basic necessities to those sticking with the march. These were strategic attempts to broaden participation and solidarity beyond the march itself.

Soon after this, the caravan encountered a police blockade. Marchers argued that, like churches and funerals, trade unions are exempted from Zimbabwe’s Public Order and Security Act – a law often employed by the state to curtail public dissent. Allied lawyers under the banner of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, or ZLHR, attended to the matter swiftly on behalf of ARTUZ. Nine members were arrested and charged with criminal nuisance.

Members of ARTUZ after their release from jail on Dec. 19. (WNV/Phil Jambaya)

Although court proceedings led to their release two days later, thanks to ZLHR’s intervention, police continued to follow and harass the caravan. This perpetual stalking of the march resulted in 14 subsequent arrests in Ruwa on Dec. 18, the day before the caravan had planned to shut down Ncube’s office. Those detained at Harare Central Police Station included ARTUZ’s president, vice president, secretary general and other union members.

With the aid of their legal allies, they were eventually released on Dec. 19, but the delay caused by their detainment introduced a new challenge: After all the planning and expenses, they could no longer “storm Harare” on Dec. 19. Instead, they had to deliver the petition a day later than originally intended.

“This delay was a major hindrance to us,” said march participant Nyambara Moreblessing. “But we had already been subjected to a number of other challenges, including sleeping in forests with no shelter while on the caravan. So we overcame it.”

The petition was delivered on Dec. 20 with dwindling numbers, but not necessarily dwindling morale. One of those not present was march participant Rudo Mlangeni. After walking the first day of the caravan while pregnant, she had taken rest and went into labor on the day of the picket.

“Thank God for our new fighter,” she said. “We named him Mkundinashe, meaning conqueror.”

Since there was no climactic victory outside the Ministry of Finance on Dec. 20, ARTUZ issued an ultimatum to the government. The union informed its members that they would give Ncube two weeks to address their grievances. If he failed to respond, they would return to his office on Jan. 7.

Predictably, Ncube kept quiet. ARTUZ has issued an indefinite strike until the grievances are addressed. The #SalaryCamp in Harare is offering additional festivities beyond open air classroom lessons. On Jan. 8, the streets were filled with those playing sports, which attracted the attention of those passing through downtown Harare.

Members of the union are mindful that their cause doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Much as they extended the 2017 pockets out campaign beyond their sector, they have begun canvassing health workers and those of other industries to join in the strike. It comes at a particularly strategic time, when public offices throughout the country are supposed to resume work with a load of matters that have accumulated over the holidays. Zimbabwe’s government is already busy publishing propaganda to undermine the union’s effort to consolidate power beyond its own membership.

“As we await Ncube’s response, we are engaging members of rural districts to join in the strike,” said Macdonald Kondo, a spokesperson for ARTUZ. “Today we start with Mutoko. We will corner Ncube and press the government from all angles until we succeed.”

From political change to political transformation

The story of the ARTUZ march to Harare offers a window into the principle of maintaining pressure after political change to ensure genuine transformation. Dictators around the world are falling, but this doesn’t always bring an end their regimes. Unjust policies, corrupt institutions and regressive governance cultures oftentimes live on.

In the case of Zimbabwe, former dictator Robert Mugabe — who spent over 30 years in power — may have succumbed to the reign of a successor, but such transition shouldn’t be confused with actual transformation. The next days and weeks will determine whether Zimbabweans are well organized enough to wage resistance in the face of brutal crackdowns.

The end of Mugabe’s rule may be have been a milestone, partially achieved through the power of common people, but it certainly isn’t a finish line. Organized labor in Zimbabwe is recognizing this and taking power into its own hands to challenge kleptocracy, police brutality and other state vices that have — over the generations of a single man’s rule — become normalized. Only with this tenacity will Zimbabwe build up functional policies, institutions and governance cultures that run according to the will of its people.

“The major advice I have for the unions in Zimbabwe is that a union has the same rights as a church,” Moreblessing said. “You don’t need to apply for permission to the police to hold a public action. You can simply notify them to protect your gatherings. Even where authorities try to complicate things, we must be bold and push on.”

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

BREAKING: Pipeline Resistors Disrupt Gov. Kate Brown’s Inauguration

Earth First! Newswire - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 16:49

BREAKING: Pipeline Resistors Disrupt Gov. Kate Brown’s Inauguration

Monday, January 14, 2019

[SALEM, OR] — Activists with Southern Oregon Rising Tide interrupted Governor Kate Brown’s inaugural State of the State address this afternoon to demand the Governor direct state agencies to deny the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and fracked gas pipeline. Following the Governor’s swearing-in ceremony, the activists unfurled a large banner reading “Hey Kate: Walk your climate talk. Support the frontlines, stop the pipeline.”

At the same time, more pipeline resistors gathered on the front steps of the Capitol building with large banners calling on the Governor to live up to her promises to take strong action on climate change.

“Governor Brown talks a big talk about climate change, but she’s remained silent on the largest fossil fuel proposal in the state and claims it’s a federal decision, not a state decision,” said Alex Budd of Southern Oregon Rising Tide. “Our state has the power to stop Jordan Cove LNG and it’s time our Governor shows up for communities who have been on the frontlines of this project for over 13 years.”

Governor Kate Brown has stated in interviews that Jordan Cove LNG is a federal decision, however, the state of Oregon denied permits and stopped a much smaller LNG export terminal proposed on the Columbia River in 2011. Additionally, the Department of State Lands stopped a coal export terminal by denying the same permit they are currently considering for Jordan Cove LNG in 2014.

If built, the Jordan Cove LNG terminal would become the largest source of climate pollution in Oregon and open up fracked gas exports from the West Coast of the United States. A recent report from the research organization, Oil Change International, concluded that the full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of the project would be equal to over 15 times the Boardman Coal plant, which is set to be shut down in 2020 because of pollution concerns.

“In our region, hotter, drier summers mean longer and more intense wildfire seasons,” said Zac Wilner, a wildland firefighter from Jackson County. “Governor Brown should know that it is unacceptable to permit any new fossil fuel infrastructure, especially an explosive gas pipeline through Southern Oregon’s most fire-prone forests.”

Just last week, thousands showed up to Department of State Lands hearings across Klamath, Douglas, Jackson, and Coos counties to ask the agency to deny ‘Removal-Fill’ permits for the 229-mile highly explosive gas pipeline and mega-export terminal. The DSL who could issue the permit is overseen by the Oregon State Land Board, which is tasked with denying permits that jeopardize Oregon’s clean water and is headed by Governor Kate Brown. Impacted Tribal members, landowners, students, and more expressed concerns around the project crossing waterways nearly 500 times. Construction of the pipeline would risk the clean drinking water of over 150,000 people in Southern Oregon. The final DSL hearing on Jordan Cove will take place tomorrow, January 15, in Salem at the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, with a rally starting at 4:15pm.

“Our communities aren’t backing down in the face of this project; we will continue to take action to defend water, land, and communities,” said Grace Warner of Southern Oregon Rising Tide.

Southern Oregon Rising Tide is dedicated to promoting community- based solutions to the climate crisis and taking direct action to confront the root causes of climate change. We are based in the mountains and rivers of rural Southern Oregon, with most of our members living on ancestral Takelma land in so-called Jackson and Josephine Counties.

###

 

Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

NAS Warns US Regulations Unprepared for GE Trees

Global Justice Ecology Project - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 13:28
Two staff members of Global Justice Ecology Project (four total from the Campaign to STOP GE Trees) testified before the NAS about the social and ecological dangers of releasing GE trees into wild forests From Nature: Transgenic trees... Read More
Categories: B4. Radical Ecology

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