If you passed by the Turkish or Swedish consulates in New York on Friday, you may have seen a knot of sex workers and their supporters holding red umbrellas—both as a symbol of sex workers' rights and a shield against the sun on what was the hottest day of the year. The protestors, about a dozen at their peak, kept a spirited vigil over several hours, chanting, passing out fliers, and fielding questions from midtown Manhattan's business attire class. One man on the Park Avenue sidewalk in front of the Swedish consulate asked nervously, "Are you all… professionals?" Some protestors turned their heads and smiled.
The New York action accompanied rallies in 36 cities and on four continents for an international day of action demanding an end to the stigma and violence against sex workers’ communities. Two recent murders sparked the protests: of Dora Özer, a sex worker and trans woman from Kuşadası in Turkey who was stabbed by a man posing as a client on July 9, and of Petite Jasmine, a sex worker and mother of two children stabbed by her ex-husband in Sweden on July 11. Calls for justice for Dora and Jasmine, prompted by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE), spread quickly through social media in the week leading up to Friday's actions.
4 comments ·
The judge in the Bradley Manning trial has found the Army Private guilty on 20 counts, however acquitted him of the most serious "aiding the enemy" offense.
The sentencing trial, which allows for both sides to present new evidence, will begin Wednesday morning.
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 Freedom of the Press Foundation is providing transcripts of the proceedings.
Read on for the latest updates.
0 comments ·
"If CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] officials do not sign off on our five core demands I will end up in a hospital on a feeding tube or dead,” writes Paul Redd, on the back of a postcard with a photograph of Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. Redd, an inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison, is of 1,457 prisoners in 15 California prisons who are on hunger strike to demand an end to long-term solitary confinement, which they call "torture."
Hunger strikers and their supporters have accused the CDCR of “retaliating” against the protest. On July 11, four days into the strike, 14 prisoners in Pelican Bay, including Redd, were moved to Administrative Segregation Units, an even more extreme form of segregation used to punish those who have broken prison rules. In a written statement, prisoners in Pelican Bay said they were being “subjected to more torturous conditions than in the SHU [Security Housing Unit].” Prisoners called the transfer a “diabolical act” and an attempt to “break our resolve and hasten our deaths."
1 comments ·
Back in 2004, pundits went wild when exit pollsters found that 22 percent of voters had made their selection based on “moral values,” more than any of the options they offered. The pollsters back then almost universally interpreted “moral values” to mean “abortion and gay rights”—a frame backed up by Thomas Frank's popular book of the period, What's the Matter with Kansas, which called for a return to economic populism in order to fight the tide of voters supposedly turning to Republicans because they hated abortion and queer people.
Fast forward to 2013, and we see the term “moral” being reclaimed on the Left. In North Carolina, a movement sprung up from the civil rights infrastructure and steeped in the language of the church is standing up for abortion rights and economic justice, as well as fighting the dismantling of civil rights protections.
Here in New York, a decidedly smaller and quieter attempt to bear moral witness is taking aim squarely at one of the villains of the economic crisis: Goldman Sachs. Last month, Max Zahn, a former community organizer and founder of the website Buddha on Strike, began meditating outside of the megabank's West Side building several times a week, wearing signs calling on Goldman employees to show compassion for the people affected by their practices.
0 comments ·
“If my sacrifice would change the conditions so that generations of prisoners behind me don’t have to suffer the 20-plus years that I’ve done, I can live with that,” says Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, a prisoner in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. Jamaa was one of four Pelican Bay prisoners who put out a call in February for the third statewide hunger strike in two years to demand an end to long-term solitary confinement. On Thursday, the fourth day of the strike, corrections officials confirmed that almost 12,500 prisoners in 24 state prisons and four out-of-state facilities had missed nine consecutive meals (the threshold at which California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officially recognizes a strike).
The first two hunger strikes against solitary confinement, in 2011, resulted in minor changes in policy: Prisoners were provided with beanie hats, and promised pull-up bars in their exercise cages. They were also permitted to send a photo to their families once a year. (Before the policy change, the most recent photo Jamaa’s sister had of him was from 1988.) But prisoners say the Corrections Department has yet to seriously address their main demand: an end to the use of solitary confinement.
“They have made a decision that the change is so necessary that they have to make a sacrifice, and the only weapon that they have is to inflict pain on themselves,” says Jamaa’s younger sister, Marie Levin. “Because they don’t have any other recourse. There’s nothing else that they can use.”
0 comments ·
The Right to the City alliance filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and its acting director, Ed DeMarco, on Tuesday, for illegally withholding at least $382 million from the National Housing Trust Fund, an affordable housing federal fund established in 2008.
Right to the City is a national alliance of 50 grassroots organizations in 17 cities. Its major campaign, the Homes for All campaign, unites renters, public housing occupants, homeless families and underwater homeowners to fight for affordable housing.
3 comments ·
Just ahead of the July 4 holiday, the far-right North Carolina Senate cleared sweeping anti-abortion measures. The measures were added late last night, without alerting the public, to the anti-Sharia House Bill 695–dubbed the Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act—which prohibited 'foreign laws' from being implemented in North Carolina. The bill passed today by a vote of 27 to 12 along party lines, as hundreds of assembled protestors shouted, “Shame! Shame!”
Modeled after the Texas anti-abortion legislation that Wendy Davis famously filibustered last week, the bill will force all but one of North Carolina’s 36 abortion clinics to close. Though unlike the Texas law, there is no 20-week limit, the litany of restrictions included in the bill will effectively end access to abortion in North Carolina by imposing requirements so severe that most healthcare providers will be prevented from performing abortions.
No Democrats were able to filibuster the bill because, like most states, North Carolina has no legal filibuster. Even if it did, it’s not clear that it would have turned back this bill, since the current legislative session has been extended (at taxpayers’ expense) through the end of July.
7 comments ·
Against the backdrop of growing concerns about domestic spying, new information has emerged about law enforcement agencies’ surveillance of antiwar activists in Washington State. Following the revelation that the activists, who are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit brought by attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild, were listed in a national domestic terrorism database as the result of a spying campaign by the U.S. army, the director of a Washington State “fusion center” was named as an additional defendant in the lawsuit last week.
Larry Hildes is the lead attorney for six plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which seeks to sue the military for spying on activist groups dating back to 2006. The six plaintiffs were members of the Olympia-based Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) group. Though the lawsuit was first filed in 2009, there are are several key pieces of new information that have prompted an amended complaint, Hildes tells In These Times.
3 comments ·
The massive demonstrations that began Sunday in several cities across Egypt exceeded expectations of supporters and adversaries alike. The continuing protests—remarkable not just for their enormous size but their far-reaching popular demands—herald a new phase of the revolution that successfully deposed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Tamarod, a new grassroots movement whose name means “rebel” or “rebellion” in Arabic, staged the demonstrations with the goals of forcing early presidential elections and “upholding the goals of revolution.” Following Sunday’s sweeping protests, it issued an ultimatum to President Mohammed Morsi to either resign by Tuesday afternoon or face “complete civil disobedience.”
Taking into account the police repression and resulting anxieties that have dramatically reduced the size of protests this year, Tamarod organizers switched tactical gears to prepare for June 30.
“The rationale behind ‘Rebel’ is to move the revolution from the squares, in which demonstrations are held, to society at large,” Tamarod leader Abdel-Aziz told English.Ahram.org, the website of Egypt’s largest circulation daily newspaper, Ahram.
Instead of calling for another demonstration, the movement initiated a broad educational campaign with the ambitious intention of gathering 15 million signatures calling for early presidential elections in order to oust Morsi and to release the ever-tightening grip of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The petition, addressed to the Morsi government, declares “we reject you” before each of a series of complaints about the ills plaguing the new Egypt, among them: “because security has not been established,” “because we are still begging loans from the outside,” and “because Egypt is still following the footsteps of the United States.”
Ultimately, as June 30 protests approached, Egyptian news agencies reported that 22 million people signed the petitions.
By contrast, President Morsi was elected in June 2012 with 13 million votes, by the narrow margin of 51 percent. Morsi’s critics note that voters were left with only two choices in the final election round: Morsi and deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak’s cohort, Ahmed Shafik. Others indicated they voted for Morsi because they believed his religious values enhanced his promises to address the country’s grave social problems.
But, from the very first days of the new government, there were a series of missteps, including an incendiary presidential declaration by Morsi that his decisions would be immune from judicial review. This apparent usurpation of power inflamed and outraged much of the population.
Opposition continued to grow once it became clear that neither were Morsi’s religious values leading to needed economic and social reforms.
Though the conflict embroiling Egypt is often described in the terms of secular versus Islamic terms, this conceals the country’s real economic and social problems and their heritage in U.S. and European investment and aid policies. As one young woman told me during a Tahrir protest last February, “Most of us protesting are also Muslim, so it has nothing to do with Morsi being Muslim. It has everything to do with what he is doing to our country.”
On July 1, the Egyptian army brass announced that it would “give [all parties] 48 hours, as a last chance, to take responsibility for the historic circumstances the country is going through."
"If the demands of the people are not met in this period,” the televised broadcast statement read, the army “will announce a future roadmap and measures to oversee its implementation."The military appears extremely reluctant to intervene directly, and Muslim Brotherhood allies described the armed forces’ response as “ambiguous.”
Though the popular defense forces were embraced by many as liberators after dictator Hosni Mubarak was deposed in February 2011, the army failed to enact meaningful reforms during the year that it held power prior to the 2012 election of Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi. While a significant segment of the Egyptian population might be willing to accept another takeover by the military as an alternative to Morsi, leaders of Tamarod have rejected this option in public statements.
It is more likely that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued the deadline as a veiled threat in order to exert maximum pressure on both the Muslim Brotherhood and the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) to come to some kind of agreement, such as a coalition government.
In the past, the Muslim Brotherhood totally rejected such efforts. At the same time, important radical leaders have chided their timid NSF partners in the Tamarod movement for their willingness to discard the fight for genuine reforms in exchange for seats in government.
Certainly, any government that agrees to cuts to food and fuel subsidies as a precondition for International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans risks setting off a “revolution of the hungry.” It’s likely this dangerous dilemma that has forestalled Morsi from approving pending IMF and World Bank offers of loans with such onerous stipulations attached.
The Tamarod education campaign has begun a number of important discussions crucial to Egypt’s future: The separation of church and state in a civil society, the recognition of international standards of labor and women’s rights, increases to the minimum wage and social subsidies, and protection of state property and an end to private investment schemes.
Building an effective mass organization and establishing political clarity among the various strands of opinion within society is an extremely difficult task. The necessary mass political organization of the courageous Egyptian people still severely lags behind their individual political courage and determination to make radical changes but, as a result of Tamarod’s efforts leading up to June 30, that gap has begun to close.
4 comments ·
Two months after more than 1,100 Bangladeshi workers died in the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry, workers and students staged global protests on Saturday to demand that Gap and Wal-Mart sign onto a Bangladeshi factory safety agreement.
The demonstrations—which took place in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Japan, and Bangladesh—were part of the International Day of Action to End Deathtraps, organized by a coalition of unions and labor advocacy groups. In the U.S., the day of action was spearheaded by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF).
“We are in solidarity with the workers in Bangladesh. They’re not alone,” says Martin Macias, the Chicago regional organizer for USAS and an urban planning student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Ben Lorber was among those protesting at the Gap store in downtown Chicago. Lorber was fired from a subcontracted Wal-Mart warehouse in Ellwood, Ill. last November after he and other employees delivered a petition to management calling for fairer and safer working conditions. He says the global supply chain links workers abroad to workers here at home. “I do feel solidarity with the Bangladeshi workers who are being crushed by the same corporate machine and aren’t getting working conditions they deserve,” he says. (Full disclosure: Lorber was also an intern at In These Times from November 2012–December 2012).