Twenty-two people were arrested this morning after staging a sit-in at the U.S. State Department’s Chicago office to protest the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. The action in President Obama’s hometown is the first of a series of planned acts of civil disobedience this summer calling on the administration to reject the controversial pipeline. All 22 demonstrators have since been released.
Proposed by the Canadian energy corporation TransCanada, the multi-billion-dollar pipeline would transport Alberta's tar sands oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Opponents say the pipeline’s environmental impact would be disastrous. Because the KXL would cross the U.S.-Canada border, Obama’s State Department has the last word on whether the megaproject is approved.
The newly launched KXL Pledge of Resistance campaign—led by progressive organizations CREDO, Rainforest Action Network and The Other 98%, with endorsements from the Tar Sands Blockade, 350.org, Hip Hop Caucus, Oil Change International and Bold Nebraska—calls upon signers to engage in peaceful civil disobedience “should it be necessary to stop the Keystone XL.” While many anti-KXL campaigns have focused their activities in Washington, D.C. or in states the pipeline would pass through, the Pledge of Resistance is national in scope, aiming to engage people all over the country.
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Community members are celebrating the release today of Israel Lopez Bautista, 43, a day laborer who was taken into custody Wednesday morning by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents while waiting for construction work in the Chicago neighborhood of Albany Park.
Advocates attribute the victory to community pressure applied by Bautista’s family, friends, and members of the Latino Union of Chicago, who rallied yesterday to demand his release. Now back with his family, Bautista is “interested in continuing to struggle and to organize for the rights of his community,” says Elisa Ringholm of the Latino Union.
The Wednesday morning raid occurred at an Albany Park street corner where day laborers regularly gather to search for work. Bautista has been coming to the Albany Park corner since he emigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala five years ago. According to his brother Enrique, 45, who was with him at the time, they were standing at the corner with three other men when two ICE agents showed up and demanded to see IDs. Bautista, who is undocumented, showed an agent his ID from the Guatemalan consulate. The agents apprehended Bautista and told the rest of the men to get out.
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Each Friday, we present a round-up of the week's underreported uprisings.
Closure of “Greek BBC” Sparks Mass Protests: More than 10,000 protesters are rallying today outside the headquarters of Hellenic Broadcasting Corp (ERT), Greece’s public broadcasting station, in protest of government plans to close the station. Workers at the station have been occupying the building since the government pulled ERT off the air late Tuesday. Nearly 2,700 jobs will be lost. Greece’s two largest unions have staged a 24-hour general strike in protest, and thousands of citizens have rallied in cities around the crisis-torn country. Left-wing political parties have decried the government’s decision to close public television, while the government claims its cost-cutting measures are necessary, and that the channels will reopen later with a smaller staff.
Anti-G8 Demonstrators Stage "Carnival Against Capitalism": Thirty-two protesters were arrested in London on Tuesday as demonstrators took to the streets to protest the world’s largest corporations in preparation for next week’s G8 summit in Ireland. Rallies outside of the headquarters of BP and Lockheed Martin coincided with a “Carnival Against Capitalism,” which saw protesters take the streets in a city-wide day of action. On June 15, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will gather a coalition of organizations together for a “Fairer World Festival” in Belfast, featuring cultural and political events calling for an end to tax evasion for multinational corporations, food, housing and land justice, and more.
Brazilians Fights Fair Hikes: On June 12, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Sao Paulo, Brazil to protest planned increases in public transportation fares. Twenty-five demonstrators were arrested in the action planned by Free Fare, a group which advocated for free or cheaper public transportation. Police in riot gear set off tear gas in Brazil’s largest city, in the third and most violent demonstration held so far by Free Fare.
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Columbia University’s Teachers College, long esteemed as a premier institution for progressive pedagogy, is having an identity crisis. While majestic quotes from education philosopher John Dewey remain etched across the walls of the school’s Morningside Heights headquarters, his words ring increasingly hollow as Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman continues to serve on the board of—and hold 12,927 shares in—Pearson, the world's largest educational resource corporation, which distributes everything from standardized tests and textbooks to teacher certification and curriculum programs. Arguing that this role hampers their ability to speak out against the disastrous policy of high-stakes testing, students at Teachers College began a campaign last month demanding that Fuhrman divest from Pearson.
Over the past few years, Pearson has risen from a small British publishing firm to an “education resource” giant, raking in the profits that come with the increasing privatization of the American education system. Pearson’s involvement in shaping education in New York state is a prime example. In 2010, when the state, long known as a beacon for its strong curriculum standards, was formulating its new standardized “Common Core” program, lawmakers handed Pearson a generous five-year, $32 million contract to administer tests, in addition to another $1 million for helping the state Education Department with testing services. Having seized control of standardized testing in states like New York, Pearson has also made its own costly textbooks essential for teachers under pressure to turn out high-test scores, thereby turning additional profits while transforming classrooms into Pearson test-prep centers.
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Translations by Zeynepgül Atsız and Özlem İlyas Tolunay.
Two labor federations have joined anti-government demonstrations in Turkey, where protests have lasted over a week and captured the world’s attention.
The Confederation of Public Laborers’ Unions (KESK) had already planned a strike June 5, demanding wage guarantees and job security from the Turkish government. With protests taking over many Turkish cities, KESK moved the strike up one day and linked it with anti-government actions, criticizing the government’s “terrorist response” to peaceful protests.
Emre Eren Korkmaz—an official in the Textile Workers Union, affiliated with the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), which also struck—has been at the demonstrations day and night since they began.
“When people leave their jobs, they gather in squares and in their districts,” he wrote in online correspondence with Labor Notes. “At 9:00 pm, in all İstanbul and Turkey, people go out to streets and chant slogans, and in all districts ten thousands of people march against government.”
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Occupy Gezi Crackdown Intensifies: On June 5, Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army hacked Turkish government networks in support of Turkey’s ongoing anti-government protests. Meanwhile, Turkish police continue to clamp down on the growing protest movement, and have detained at least 25 Turkish social media activists for “instigating public hatred and animosity” through Twitter postings. At least two people have been killed and thousands injured since last Friday, as protests over the government’s decision to convert a public park in Istanbul into a shopping mall mushroomed into general anti-government demonstrations across the country.
Europeans Rebel Against Lending Troika: Thousands protested in cities across Europe Saturday against the troika of international lenders—the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank—for promoting austerity and monetary policies that have caused economic hardship for millions of Europeans. From Madrid to Frankfurt, protesters rallied against the imposition of lending conditions, including painful cuts and tax hikes, on borrowing countries in exchange for the monetary bailouts that have done little to alleviate crisis in the Eurozone.
GMO Labeling Victory: On June 1, Connecticut became the first U.S. state to enact a law requiring labeling of all food containing genetically modified ingredients, though the law will not take effect until four other U.S. states have passed similar legislation. The caveat, added as a bipartisan compromise, encourages biotech lobbyists to work harder to defeat similar laws in other states, as occurred in New York only a day later. Fear of lawsuits by companies like Monsanto has deterred several states from passing GMO labeling laws. A federal bill that would mandate GMO labeling was introduced in April by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), though it is unlikely to pass.
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Hospital workers and community members won a reprieve yesterday to the closure of Chicago's Roseland Community Hospital, which officials announced this week was on the brink of shutting down due to financial difficulties. Following several days of demonstrations and vigils, supporters of the hospital were greeted Wednesday with the news that the hospital would be offered $350,000 in temporary emergency funds from the governor’s office to continue operating.
On Tuesday, SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, which represents 200 of the 560 hospital workers who would have lost their jobs, rallied to present the governor with a letter and a plea to keep the 162-bed hospital open. “What are you going to do more to a community to beat it down than to take one of the final institutions that the resident has to depend on? Where are patients supposed to go?” asked April Verrett, Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, as a crowd of supporters gathered on the steps of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s downtown Chicago office.
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More than three years after his arrest, the trial of Bradley Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence officer who leaked thousands of government documents and cables to the organization Wikileaks, has begun.
Manning is charged with 21 counts, the most serious being a violation of Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—“aiding the enemy"—for which the maximum punishment is the death penalty.
Between 2009 and 2010, Manning used his clearance as an intelligence analyst to download thousands of documents from U.S. intelligence databases and transmit them to Wikileaks.
The prosecution claims that the sharing of these classified files—among them the infamous “Collateral Murder” video that shows a U.S Apache helicopter killing unarmed Iraqi civilians—compromised national security.
The trial is predicted to last three months and include testimony from more than 200 witnesses. The Freedom of the Press Foundation is providing transcripts of the proceedings.
Read on for the latest updates.
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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
The trial of the man who gave U.S. military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks and exposed secret U.S. foreign policy dealings began yesterday at Fort Meade in Maryland. It’s been a long time coming for Bradley Manning.
His saga started when WikiLeaks garnered attention for publishing a video in April 2010 titled “Collateral Murder,” which showed a U.S. Apache helicopter opening fire on Iraqi civilians, including employees of the news organization Reuters. Manning was arrested a month later, but not before he handed off thousands more classified cables to WikiLeaks, which released them over the year. The biggest WikiLeaks disclosure came in November 2010, when thousands of State Department cables were exposed and major news organizations collaborated with the whistleblowing group by publishing articles on the revelations in the diplomatic documents.
Manning was held in a military prison in Kuwait, and then transferred to a Marine Corps base in Virginia, where he endured abusive treatment from his guards.
It’s been three long years for Manning. And today, he begins to face 22 charges the military is prosecuting him for. The trial is set to last for about 12 weeks.
Here are 5 important aspects of the Bradley Manning trial you should know.