At high schools across Newark, New Jersey today, students walked out of their classes in protest of school closings and privatization. The action follows a weekend of strategizing at the second annual “Occupy the Department of Education” conference, from which more decentralized actions against corporate school reform are expected to emerge this spring.
About 1,000 students from across the district participated in the walkout, according to the Star-Ledger. After leaving their classes at noon, students convened outside of a State Assembly Budget Hearing on Education at Rutgers University, where lawmakers were discussing the education portion of Governor Chris Christie’s FY 2014 budget.
Students announced their plans to walkout over the weekend with the following video:
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In times of austerity, even the Thatcher estate is tightening its belt. The Iron Lady, who died at age 87 today following a stroke, is to be given a ceremonial funeral with military honors at St. Paul’s cathedral. But she will not be honored with a state funeral, which could mean, according to tradition, that she’ll have to settle for sailors hoisting her along rather than being delivered to her final resting place by horsedrawn carriage.
The Guardian explains the formal difference between the two types of services:
There is little difference between a ceremonial and a state funeral, but the latter would require an act of parliament. "To the man in the street it will look like a state funeral," said one Whitehall official.
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Each Friday here at Uprising, we present a round-up of the demonstrations, debates and other manners of rabble-rousing that went under-reported during the week.
Daniel McGowan Back in Prison: Earth Liberation Front activist and political prisoner Daniel McGowan was re-arrested by authorities yesterday, only months after being released from 6 years of imprisonment. McGowan was allegedly taken back into custody in response to an article published on the Huffington Post on April 1, in which he charged the Federal Bureau of Prisons with transferring him to a high security prison unit to restrict his political speech. McGowan was arrested in 2006 as part of the Green Scare that saw federal forces crack down on environmental activists nationwide.
Prisoner's Death Ignites Mass Hunger Strikes in Palestine: On Wednesday, thousands of Palestinian prisoners began refusing breakfast to protest the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh in prison. Hamdiyeh was diagnosed with cancer in January, and lawyers insist he was given only antibiotics and painkillers by Israeli authorities. Protests and mourning erupted throughout Palestine upon news of his death on April 2nd, but it is unclear how long the mass hunger strike by prisoners from all political factions will continue.
Grammatically Speaking, No Human Being is Illegal: The Associated Press has announced that it will drop the phrase "illegal immigrant" from its popular stylebook. Under the new AP guidelines, the word “illegal” can be used to describe an action, such as an illegal border-crossing, but not a person living in a country without legal permission. The decision marks a victory in a campaign by immigrants rights advocates to replace the epithet ‘illegal’ with terms such as ‘undocumented’ or ‘without papers’.
Anti-Privatization Protesters Evicted: On Tuesday, more than 20 students at Sussex University were evicted from a building on campus they had occupied for weeks in protest of privatization at the UK university. In May 2012, Sussex University announced that campus facilities and catering would be privatized, displacing over 200 employees. In response, the group Sussex Against Privatisation has mobilized a wave of protests, including an 8-week occupation of the university's Bramber House. On Monday, the university was granted permission to evict the students by a high court; the ruling also banned students from “entering and remaining on the campus and buildings of the University of Sussex for the purpose of protest action" without permission from the university.
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Reprinted with permission from Waging Nonviolence.
This past Saturday, tens of thousands of Palestinians marched across blockaded Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Israel and the diaspora in commemoration of Land Day. It’s an annual protest that memorializes the six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel whose lives came to an end in 1976 when they resisted the expropriation of nearly 5,000 acres of land in the Galilee region of northern Israel for the construction of Jewish-only settlements. The 37th annual Land Day was the first pan-Palestinian act of civil resistance to take place since the Bab Al-Shams “settlement,” a creative and widely-reported stand against Israel’s plans to build 3,000 new Jewish-only settlements in the E1 corridor.
These two actions represent competing currents in Palestinian civil resistance; while the Land Day protests are in many respects traditional, Bab al-Shams seems to have come from a new kind of spirit, as well as the expectation of a heightened level of struggle. A rallying cry for the Land Day demonstrators was, “Where is the popular revolution?”
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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Rand Paul’s marathon 13-hour filibuster was not the end of the conversation on drones. Suddenly, drones are everywhere, and so is the backlash. Efforts to counter drones at home and abroad are growing in the courts, at places of worship, outside air force bases, inside the UN, at state legislatures, inside Congress--and having an effect on policy.
1. April marks the national month of uprising against drone warfare. Activists in upstate New York are converging on the Hancock Air National Guard Base where Predator drones are operated. In San Diego, they will take on Predator-maker General Atomics at both its headquarters and the home of the CEO. In D.C., a coalition of national and local organizations are coming together to say no to drones at the White House. And all across the nation—including New York City, New Paltz, Chicago, Tucson and Dayton—activists are planning picket lines, workshops and sit-ins to protest the covert wars. The word has even spread to Islamabad, Pakistan, where activists are planning a vigil to honor victims.
2. There has been an unprecedented surge of activity in cities, counties and state legislatures across the country aimed at regulating domestic surveillance drones. After a raucous city council hearing in Seattle in February, the Mayor agreed to terminate its drones program and return the city’s two drones to the manufacturer. Also in February, the city of Charlottesville, VA passed a 2-year moratorium and other restrictions on drone use, and other local bills are pending in cities from Buffalo to Ft. Wayne. Simultaneously, bills have been proliferating on the state level. In Florida, a pending bill will require the police to get a warrant to use drones in an investigation; a Virginia statewide moratorium on drones passed both houses and awaits the governor’s signature, and similar legislation in pending in at least 13 other state legislatures.
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Healthcare campaigners today are celebrating a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court that will have broad implications for access to life-saving medicines. The court has rejected pharmaceutical giant Novartis’ patent application for a new version of its cancer drug, Glivec, a move that activists say will allow poor patients to continue receiving treatment at a lower cost.
The New York Times reports:
The ruling allows Indian makers of generic drugs to continue making copycat versions of the drug Gleevec — also spelled Glivec in Europe and elsewhere — which provides such a miraculous cure for some forms of leukemia that the Food and Drug Administration approved the medicine in the United States in 2001 in record time.
But the ruling’s effect will be felt well beyond the limited number of leukemia patients in India who need Gleevec, made by Switzerland-based Novartis. On the one hand, it will help maintain India’s role as the world’s most important provider of cheap medicines, which is critical in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
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Cree Teenagers End Trek Through Snow: Last week, six Cree teenagers from Canada concluded a ten-week, 600-plus-mile journey on foot to Ottawa, the nation’s capital, on behalf of Cree solidarity as part of the Idle No More movement for indigenous rights. The half-dozen travelers, joined by nearly 300 people along the way, endured snowstorms and temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius, and were greeted with hospitality and kindness in many Canadian towns and cities throughout the way. The Cree activists were inspired by the much-publicized hunger strike of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, and were given counsel and guidance by leaders of the Cree community.
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Co-authored with Nanja Montes, a Master’s student in international development at the University of Amsterdam studying the student movement in Chile.
Thousands of students marched in the streets yesterday in Santiago, Chile, renewing a battle for free, high-quality public education that has outlasted two education ministers and drawn consistent support from more than 70 percent of the population. The march ended in violent repression, with police spraying protesters with tear gas, water cannons and “balines”--paintballs containing small pellet-like bullets. Sixty people were reportedly detained and one young woman lost vision in her eye after being struck with a balín.
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As a documentary filmmaker, Josh Davis gets very close to his subjects. But in his stirring film series chronicling the lives of undocumented immigrants in North Carolina, he also had to navigate the line between journalist and participant in many of the scenes. Here, he talks with In These Times about how he's applied his creative lens to the struggles of undocumented youth—and uncovered deep connections that span across boundaries of culture, language, class and nationality.
His film series, which documents education and healthcare barriers facing immigrants, youth-led activist campaigns, a band of migrant churchgoers, and North Carolina's Mexican wrestling scene, among other issues, can be viewed at http://www.theundocumentary.com.
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This piece is reprinted with permission from Organizing Upgrade.
"Hijab is part of our culture!" yelled a young woman in a gold and yellow "hijab" Muslim headscarf, squared off against an older French blonde, whose chin and shoulders were pulled back, signaling how offended and taken aback she was. "You think feminism is taking off the scarf?" the young woman continued, "Why don't you stop the wars in our countries, stop the criminalization of Islam in Europe? We do not want to be in your country but we have no choice but to migrate, now you want to take away our culture, too?"
The feminist debate I had read about was happening before my eyes, western concepts of feminism clashing with the priorities of women from the global south. I was participating in AWID's (Association for Women in Development) international conference in Istanbul, Turkey. Surrounded by thousands of women's organizations, funders and feminists, I experienced moments of palpable women's solidarity, and also moments like this one – conflicts between political views and lived experiences emblematic of dynamics that have held the women's movement back. These power dynamics are as old as colonialism, and sometimes just as entrenched. Women with good intentions and social and economic privilege aim to "save" women who are marginalized, women of color, immigrant women, women from the popular classes.
I couldn't help but think of George Bush and his empire-building media spin –the claim that the US invaded Afghanistan not for access to oil and natural gas, but in order to "liberate the women." His message of "women's liberation" was accompanied by media images of the burqa, head-to-toe covering sometimes with only a mesh opening for breathing. This convinced many to support US military occupation. What many missed after Afghanistan dropped out of US headlines was the subsequent integration of Afghan women into the globalized economy, as piecemeal garment workers and other low-wage work. The liberation that was promised, as it turns out, was actually integration into the lowest rungs of globalized capitalism – sweatshop-style garment work, sewing clothing for women in the global north, in living rooms and factories that produce for subcontractors of large corporations. Underneath the claims that this "access to money" liberates women, imbedded in the designer labels on women's clothing around the world, a neoliberal restructuring is underway in the entire region.