Tag Archives: protest

On the Table, 8/8

The US economy is in shambles, people are starving in Somalia, the European economy is diving as well…but here’s a little slice of the bright side of life.

These are some recent articles from Good Magazine – an online and print medium devoted to social change, and the NY Times:

“Summer is the season for awareness-raising road trips. The latest one we’re excited about is the Food and Freedom Rides, which is spreading the word about our broken food system in communities across the South and Midwest. Kicking off in Birmingham, Alabama with meetings with civil rights leaders today and yesterday, the movement pays tribute to the 50th anniversaryof the anti-segregation Freedom Rides that roiled the South and galvanized the civil rights movement…Along the way, the 12 traveling activists hope to “expose injustice in the food system, and reveal real solutions in both urban and rural communities” by putting a spotlight on local food activism [Read on]….”

Read more:

  • Check out their itinerary here.
  • Learn more about the Freedom Riders by watching this PBS documentary.

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August 6th marked the beginning of Ramadan for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. “Alas, many Americans are still completely ignorant to Islam’s holiest month of observance. For the next four weeks, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq are out to change that.

Ali and Tariq are the two young Muslims behind the project 30 Mosques in 30 Days. Since August 1, when Ramadan started this year, the duo have been traveling to a new state each day and meeting with a new Muslim community. They then document their experiences with multimedia presentations on their blog. The goal is to hit 30 states and 30 mosques in 30 days, thereby introducing the world to the wide breadth of wonderful people composing Islam, a religion and culture still considered by many to be foreign and scary….” [Read on]

Read more:

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A protest in Santiago, Chile, last month. Students have held rallies of up to 100,000 people and taken control of dozens of schools around the country

“…If the Arab Spring has lost its bloom halfway across the world, people here are living what some have come to call a Chilean Winter. Segments of society that had been seen as politically apathetic only a few years ago, particularly the youth, have taken an unusually confrontational stance toward the government and business elite, demanding wholesale changes in education, transportation and energy policy, sometimes violently.

…The education protests have become ever more creative. There are at least two or three people jogging at all times around La Moneda, the presidential palace, trying to complete 1,800 laps to symbolize the $1.8 billion a year that protesters are demanding for Chile’s public education system. They carry flags that say “Free Education Now.”  Others have held a mass kiss-in, dressed like superheroes, danced as zombies to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and even staged fake group suicides where they fall in a heap of bodies….” [Read on]

Read more:

  • Check out more photos of the protests here.
  • Learn about the leader of the university student group, Camila Vallejo Dowling.  Her blog (in Spanish) is here.  The translated version is here.
  • Learn more about their list of demands here.  The Wiki site is actually pretty informative as well.

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On the table, 7/28

Today I got to volunteer for a couple of hours at the Boys and Girls Club.  It was really awesome!  Those girls totally schooled me on playing pool!  They also, sadly, were out of ping-pong balls, so I’m going to donate some this week.  If you find yourself taking old board games to Goodwill, take them to your local youth club instead.

I have lots of stuff for you this week!  Here it goes:

Read more:

  • Christie Thompson at Ms. Blog argues that the new ads not only condescendingly argue that “strong women douche” (while adding to the tradition that vaginas are dirty), but also essentialize women by using racial stereotypes.
  • At AdWeek, Stan Richards explains Summer’s Eve’s defense: “After listening to thousands of women say they want straight-talk and lighthearted communication on a historically-uncomfortable topic, Summer’s Eve gave us license to be bold, irreverent and celebratory across a multitude of mediums and to different audiences….” [Read the rest of Tim Nudd’s article here.] 
  • Nudd later reported that in light of bad press, the company decided to pull the online videos: “Richards PR executive Stacie Barnett told Adweek that the criticism had begun to overshadow the message and goal of the larger campaign—to educate women about their anatomy and break down taboos in talking about it—and that the online videos had to go….” [Read on]

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  • Slut Walks
Slut Walk London

Read more:

  • Raymond Kwan at York Univesity’s student paper Excalibur describes how a Toronto cop told a group of college students women could deter rape by not dressing like a slut.
  • Needless to say, women have responded in droves in the form of Slut Walks – a march to decalre women’s “constitutional right to a freedom of expression and a freedom of assembly,” according to Slut Walk Toronto.com.
  • The movement has even expanded transnationally – making a profound impact in India says Nikita Garia at The Wall Street Journal.
  • Some feminists, however, have responded questionably.  Rebecca Traister at the NY Times makes a great argument: “To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial) to what society already expects of its young women. Scantily clad marching seems weirdly blind to the race, class and body-image issues that usually (rightly) obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers. So while the mission of SlutWalks is crucial, the package is confusing and leaves young feminists open to the very kinds of attacks they are battling….” [Read on]

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a battery of tests and evaluations to go through before it will again allow gay men to donate blood. As midsummer shortages hit the nation’s blood supply, BBJ health care reporter Julie Donnelly writes that the process should proceed expeditiously.  [Read more here.]

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See the video here, or read the transcript below.

“Every empire in history has either failed or faltered, but for some reason – be it our arrogance, our hubris, or our nationalism disguised as patriotism – we turn a blind eye to the growing chasm between the have gots and the have nots. One percent of the population owning and controlling more wealth than ninety percent of Americans, is both dangerous and unsustainable.  At the heart of the problem is political cowardice….” [Read on]

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Student Activism in the 1960s and 1970s

Most people my age nowadays don’t give a horse’s patootie about politics, human rights, justice, activism, or change.  In my research I’m really interested in understanding what inspired/fueled the social and political movements of the counterculture (’65ish-’75ish), and what led to its demise.

Here’s what I’ve been into lately for my research:

While the first two chapters elaborate on the, economic, social, and legal motivations for youth activism in the 1960s, the third chapter focuses on college campuses where much of the fervent radicalism sprung forth. 

But before I share a segment, you should check out the “documentary” Chicago 10, which combines archival footage, animation, and music examining the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the subsequent trial.  You can rent the film from Netflix and read more info from the wiki page.  Here’s a clip:

Here is a selection from Chalmer’s book, in which he describes the extent of youth activism during the counterculture, as well as the violent repercussions of their actions.  I’ve included some links for more information:

“Students and recent graduates from more than two hundred colleges and universities – public, private, and parochial – took part int he 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer.  Swarthmore College students were arrested in Chester, PA; and University of Florida Students went to jail in St. Augustine.  Penn State had its Committee for Student Freedom; a Campus Freedom Democratic Party was organized at the University of Nebraska; and University of Texas students campaigned to desegregate college bathrooms, with the slogan “Let my people go.”  During 1964-1965, there were some kind of protest on a majority of the nation’s four-year campuses.

Vietnam and the draft changed the pattern and intensified the conflict.  Militancy increased on Southern black campuses.  Police and National Guardsmen shot students at South Carolina State, Jackson State, and North Carolina A & T. 

Black student occupied administrative offices at Chicago, Brandeis, and dozens of other colleges, and brought rifles into the Willard Straight Union at Cornell.  At numerous colleges, students sat in against military recruiting and napalm’s manufacturer, Dow Chemical.  Campus ROTC buildings were set on fire.  University officials were help hostage at Connecticut’s Trinity College and at San Fernando State, as well as at Columbia University. 

In the final year of the decade, bombing threats ran into the thousands.  People were injured in explosions at Pomona College, San Francisco State, and Santa Barbara, and a graduate student was killed by a bomb at the University of Wiconsin…The National Guard…was called on more than two hundred times in civil disorders on American campuses.” (72-73)

When Nixon sent troops to Cambodia, violence on college campuses escalated:

“The burst of anger on the campuses became an explosion when National Guardsmen fired into a crowd, killing four students and wounding others at Ohio’s Kent State University.  Ten days later, in an unrelated incident, police fired into a women’s dormitory at Mississippi’s black Jackson State University and killed two more. 

 There were strikes and protests on nearly one-third of the nation’s twenty-five hundred colleges and universities, and tens of thousands of student protestors converged on Washington to gather around the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.”  (77)

As a result of all this student outrage, President Nixon appointed a Commission on Campus Unrest.  Where has all this passion gone?

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CNN – Egyptian general admits ‘virginity checks’ conducted on protesters

Sexual assault as justice for protest has been around forever, but when I heard this story I was reminded of Chana Kai Lee’s biography of Fannie Lou Hamer, For Freedom’s Sake

After protesting for African American civil rights alongside other SNCC members, Hamer and others were taken into jail and brutally beaten and sexually assaulted by police and prison staff.  Hamer’s beatings in jail left her with a limp, blind in her left eye, with her kidneys permanently damaged (listen to her speech before the Credentials Committee at the ’64 Democratic National Convention here). 

Here, however, the tactic was presented as a “precautionary” measure rather than the demeaning and sexually objectifyng act it truly was.

And think Egypt is the only one doing virginity tests?  Think again.  Try Britain and India.  And really idiotic young American boys.

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From Shahira Amin at CNN > Read the whole story there.

Cairo (CNN) — A senior Egyptian general admits that “virginity checks” were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.

The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest. It claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

At that time, Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or “virginity tests.”

But now a senior general who asked not to be identified said the virginity tests were conducted and defended the practice.

“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”

The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn’t later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.

“We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).”

Read about Salwa Hosseini’s experience undergoing stun-gun-enduced virginity-testing here.

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Michael Moore Launches Virtual Newspaper for Activist High Schoolers

2011 is shaping up to be a remarkable year for human rights activism.  And it’s only just begun!  Sing it with me!

I saw this article yesterday on Good and wanted to keep the activist spirit going.

In my research on the counterculture, this website definitely mimics 1960s-70s consciousness-raising.  Since the counterculture, the media has promoted the idea that youth don’t care about important issues.  I’m excited to see youth publicly engaging in personal, social, and political change.

Happy Friday world! Libya, I’ve got my eye on you.

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Are you a high school student and a citizen journalist? Michael Moore wants you. The documentarian is so inspired by students everywhere from Egypt to Wisconsin “taking to the streets, organizing, protesting, and refusing to move until your voices are heard” that he’s turned a section of his website into a virtual student newspaper. He’s looking for youth contributors, and, unlike traditional high school newspapers, there’s no censorship, not even from him.

Moore writes on his blog,

In high schools all across America, students have great ideas to make things better or to question what is going on—and often these thoughts and opinions are ignored or silenced. How often in school is the will of the student body ignored? How many students today will try to speak out, to stand up for something important, to simply try to right a wrong—and will be swiftly shut down by those in authority, or by other students themselves?

The youth website, My High School Newspaper, will be edited for the first six months by Moore’s 17-year-old niece, Molly. So far the citizen journalism site includes entries from students on the ground in Madison, like East High’s Riley Moore, who writes in his February 21 entry, “This is the 7th consecutive day that we’ve marched,” and West High School’s Sam Rahdar, who posted a vlog entry about his opinions on the Wisconsin bill.

Madison Student Speaks #4.

The entries challenge the stereotype that today’s teens are apathetic. If you know (or are) a high schooler looking for a space to post blogs, music, or video about social issues, here’s how to get involved.

photo (cc) by nicolas genin via Wikimedia Commons

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Chinese Government Responds to Call for Protests

When I went to China there were heavily armed police at every metro stop, every tourist site, and especially at Tiananmen Square where the 1989 protests took place.  Every university has a party member censoring what they lecture, and it is strongly discouraged to speak about any rebellion against the government.  Not only is the information everyday Chinese citizens receive censored, as the news media is controlled by the state, but information about the recent protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain was especially limited.

Which makes this really interesting!

And no, don’t blame this on communism – this is totalitarianism.

According to BBC News:

Figures published last year suggested the Chinese government spent almost as much on maintaining internal security as on defence.

A leading government think-tank has said there have been 90,000 so-called “mass incidents” – examples of public unrest – in China every year since 2007.

A revolt seems to be fomenting!  If only the story could break in China…

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New York Times, Andrew Jacobs

BEIJING — Skittish domestic security officials responded with a mass show of force across China on Sunday after anonymous calls for protesters to stage a Chinese “Jasmine Revolution” went out over social media and microblogging outlets.

Although there were no reports of large demonstrations, the outsize government response highlighted China’s nervousness at a time of spreading unrest in the Middle East aimed at overthrowing authoritarian governments.

The words “Jasmine Revolution,” borrowed from the successful Tunisian revolt, were blocked on sites similar to Twitter and on Internet search engines, while cellphone users were unable to send out text messages to multiple recipients. A heavy police presence was reported in several Chinese cities.

In recent days, more than a dozen lawyers and rights activists have been rounded up, and more than 80 dissidents have reportedly been placed under varying forms of house arrest. At least two lawyers are still missing, family members and human rights advocates said Sunday.

In Beijing, a huge crowd formed outside a McDonald’s in the heart of the capital on Sunday after messages went out listing it as one of 13 protest sites across the country. It is not clear who organized the campaign, but it first appeared Thursday on Boxun, a Chinese-language Web site based in the United States, and then spread through Twitter and other microblogging services.

Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press - A man, center, was detained by the police near a planned protest site in Shanghai on Sunday.

By 2 p.m., the planned start of the protests, hundreds of police officers had swarmed the area, a major shopping district popular with tourists.

At one point, the police surrounded a young man who had placed a jasmine flower on a planter outside the McDonald’s, but he was released after the clamor drew journalists and photographers.

In Shanghai, three people were detained during a skirmish in front of a Starbucks, The Associated Press reported. One post on Twitter described a heavily armed police presence on the subways of Shenzhen, and another claimed that officials at Peking University in Beijing had urged students to avoid any protests, but those reports were impossible to verify Sunday.

The messages calling people to action urged protesters to shout, “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness,” an ostensible effort to tap into popular discontent over inflation and soaring real estate prices.

In a sign of the ruling Communist Party’s growing anxiety, President Hu Jintao summoned top leaders to a special “study session” on Saturday and urged them to address festering social problems before they became threats to stability.

“The overall requirements for enhancing and innovating social management are to stimulate vitality in the society and increase harmonious elements to the greatest extent, while reducing inharmonious factors to the minimum,” he told the gathering, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. Mr. Hu also urged those gathered to step up Internet controls and to better “guide public opinion,” a reference to efforts aimed at shaping attitudes toward the government through traditional propaganda and online commentators who masquerade as ordinary users.

Human rights advocates said they were especially concerned by the recent crackdown on rights defenders, which intensified Saturday after at least 15 well-known lawyers and activists were detained or placed under house arrest. Several of them reached by phone, including Pu Zhiqiang and Xu Zhiyong, said they were in the company of security agents and unable to talk, while many others were unreachable on Sunday evening. Two of the men, Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong, remain missing.

Many of those subjected to house arrest had met in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss the case of Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer under strict house arrest in rural Shandong Province. The plight of Mr. Chen and his family gained widespread attention last week after a video he and his wife made about his arrest emerged on the Internet.

Mr. Jiang, one of the missing lawyers, was forced into an unmarked van on Saturday night, his second abduction in recent days, his wife, Jin Bianling, said by telephone. She said the police had also searched the couple’s home and confiscated his computer and briefcase.

In an interview after his first detention on Wednesday, Mr. Jiang said that he was taken to a police station and assaulted.

Most of those who thronged the McDonald’s in Wangfujing, the Beijing shopping district, said they had no idea what the commotion was about. Some thought that perhaps a celebrity had slipped into the restaurant for a hamburger. But a young man, a Web page designer in his late 20s, quietly acknowledged that he was drawn by word of the protest.

Despite the absence of any real action, the man, who gave only his family name, Cui, said he was not disappointed by the outcome, in which police officers tried in vain to determine who was a potential troublemaker and who was simply a gawker. He predicted that many people, emboldened by the fact that an impromptu gathering had coalesced at all, would use social networking technology to stage similar events in the future.

“It’s very difficult to do this in China, but this is a good start,” he said. “I’m thankful to be able to participate in this moment in history.”

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Catch up on your news

Republicans have gone awry the country over.  Do you know what’s going on?  Here are some websites to give you the gist on two important legislative happenings: Planned Parenthood and Wisconsin labor unions.

 

Wisconsin state employee unions

(yes, this really does matter to you)

New York Times

**(I’ve linked some definitions for “collective bargaining,” “union,” and “public employee”)**

  • The legislative push by Wisconsin’s new governor, Scott Walker, a Republican, to slash the collective bargaining rights of his state’s public employees could prove a watershed for public-sector unions, perhaps signaling the beginning of a decline in their power — both at the bargaining table and in politics.
  • But Mr. Walker is going far beyond that, seeking to definitively curb the power of government unions in his state. He sees public-employee unions as a bane to the taxpayer because they demand — and often win — generous health and pension plans that help push up taxes and drive budget deficits higher.
  • To end that cycle, he wants to restrict the unions to bargaining over just one topic, base wages, while eliminating their ability to deal over health care, working hours and vacations.
  • By flooding the State Capitol in Madison with more than 10,000 protesters, labor unions are doing their utmost to block Mr. Walker’s plans. They helped persuade Democratic state senators to slip out of the building this week to deny Republicans the quorum they needed to pass the legislation.
  • Democrats say the governor’s “budget repair bill” — strongly supported by the Republicans who control both legislative houses — is political payback, intended to cripple public-sector unions, which spent more than $200 million to back Democrats across the country in November’s elections.

Andy Manis/Associated Press - A Capitol protest in Madison, Wis., over Gov. Scott Walker's bill to slash collective bargaining rights for many state workers.

New York Times

  • Behind closed doors, Scott Walker, the Republican who has been governor for about six weeks, calmly described his intent to forge ahead with the plans that had set off the uprising: He wants to require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, effectively cutting the take-home pay of many by around 7 percent.
  • Mr. Walker said he had no other options, since he is facing a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget and the prospect of a $3.6 billion hole in the coming two-year budget.
  • “For us, it’s simple,” said Mr. Walker, whose family home was surrounded by angry workers this week, prompting the police to close the street. “We’re broke.”

New York Times

  • Then the surprising drama in Madison this week added a new twist: the Democrats disappeared.
  • That left Republicans, who control the Capitol and had expected to push through the bill, in limbo. Although Republicans control the State Senate by 19 to 14, 20 senators — and thus, at least a single Democrat — must be in the room to call a vote on such fiscal matters.
  • “The plan is to try and slow this down because it’s an extreme piece of legislation that’s tearing this state apart,” Senator Jon Erpenbach, one of the missing Democrats, told The Associated Press by telephone. (He refused, of course, to say where he was.)

Planned Parenthood

(not just birth control or abortions)

Washington Post:

  • The Republican-led House approved an amendment Friday that would prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • The measure, which passed the House 240 to 185, blocks Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for any of its activities. The organization already is banned from using federal funds to perform most abortions.

Huffington Post

  • House Republicans voted on Friday to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, cutting money for contraceptives, HIV tests, cancer screenings and reproductive health services as part of an attempt to weaken the abortion provider. Planned Parenthood does not currently spend federal money on abortion services.
  • The vote, which passed, 240 to 185, came after an emotional, late-night speech by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who revealed on the House floor that she had had an abortion. Speier criticized Republicans for vilifying Planned Parenthood and abortion-rights supporters.
  • “There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was played out in this room tonight,” she said on the House floor. “Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide family planning services. Planned parenthood has a right to perform abortions. Last time you checked, abortions were legal in this country.”

And there are massive protests in Bahrain which you should read up on.

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