Vital Signs: Power to the People After Sandy; Occupy Boehner’s Stocking

Ben Lorber

Power to the People: On Saturday, 100 residents of New York City’s Far Rockaway district marched from a shopping mall through Far Rockaway streets, protesting the lack of government response after Hurricane Sandy. As winter arrives, many of the neighborhoods ten thousand residents still lack heat or electricity. Supported by Occupy Sandy volunteers, the community rallied against the slow pace of mayor Bloomberg’s Rapid Repair Program,’ which they say has done little to alleviate distress in an area where, as Jeremy Saunders of the community justice group Vocal-NY noted, you already had half the population living below the poverty line.”

Asylum-Seekers March in Italy: Hundreds of asylum-seekers from Libya demonstrated in the northeast Italian Region of Emilia Romagna December 16, demanding resident status and access to social services before their temporary permits expire on December 31. The refugees’ demand to be considered citizens’ reflects the shortfalls of Italian refugee policy, which has long demonized asylum seekers and neglected consideration of social inclusion and justice. In the wake of the overthrow of Libyan leader Mommar Gaddafi, over 20,000 people fled to Italy, many of whom were not Libyan nationals but had fled to Libya from other countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. 

Hungary for Education Justice: On December 17, thousands of students rallied in Budapest, pressuring the government for the third time in weeks to give up plans for cuts in state financing to higher education. After marching through central Budest, students arrived at the public radio station, which broadcast a summary of their demands. Starting in 2013, the government, citing the national deficit, plans to cut by two-thirds the number of students receiving federally-subsidized university education.

Occupy Boehner: Demonstrations against proposed cuts to social services in the fiscal cliff” deal continued this week. After marching to Speaker Boehner’s office and delivering coal on Monday, delegations from a coalition of progressive groups held sit-ins at 30 Republican offices.

Anti-Morsi Demonstrations Continue in Egypt: On December 18, thousands of protesters rallied in Cairo against state referendums set to approve an Islamist-backed draft constitution decreed by President Morsi. The constitution, which received a lower-than-expected 57% yes’ vote in the first half of the referendum, is criticized by the opposition as curtailing women’s rights. As the air is thick with accusations of voting fraud and violations surrounding last week’s referendum vote, Egypt’s newly appointed public prosecutor resigned on Monday.

Ben Lorber is Campus Coordinator for Jewish Voice for Peace.
Brandon Johnson
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