Quebec’s ‘truncheon law’ rebounds as student strike spreads

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/quebec-truncheon-law-rebounds-student-strike

A draconian law to quell demonstrations has only galvanised public support for young Quebecois protesting tuition fee hikes


guardian.co.uk, Thursday 24 May 2012

At a tiny church tucked away in a working-class neighbourhood in Montreal’s east end, Quebec’s new outlaws gathered on Sunday for a day of deliberations. Aged mostly between 18 and 22, their membership in a progressive student union has made them a target of government scorn and scrutiny. And they have been branded a menace to society because of their weapons: ideas of social justice and equal opportunity in education, alongside the ability to persuade hundreds of thousands to join them in the streets.

Under a draconian law passed by the Quebec government on Friday, their very meeting could be considered a criminal act. Law 78 – unprecedented in recent Canadian history – is the latest, most desperate manoeuvre of a provincial government that is afraid it has lost control over a conflict that began as a student strike against tuition hikes but has since spread into a protest movement with wide-ranging social and environmental demands.

Labelled a “truncheon law” by its critics, it imposes severe restrictions on the right to protest. Any group of 50 or more protesters must submit plans to police eight hours ahead of time; they can be denied the right to proceed. Picket lines at universities and colleges are forbidden, and illegal protests are punishable by fines from $5,000 to $125,000 for individuals and unions – as well as by the seizure of union dues and the dissolution of their associations.

In other words, the government has decided to smash the student movement by force.

The government quickly launched a public relations offensive to defend itself. Full-page ads in local newspapers ran with the headline: “For the sake of democracy and citizenship.” Quebec’s minister of public security, Robert Dutil, prattled about the many countries that have passed similar laws:

“Other societies with rights and freedoms to protect have found it reasonable to impose certain constraints – first of all to protect protesters, and also to protect the public.”

Such language is designed to make violence sound benevolent and infamy honourable. But it did nothing to mask reality for those who have flooded the streets since the weekend and encountered police emboldened by the new legislation. Riot squads beat and tear-gassed people indiscriminately, targeted journalists, pepper-sprayed bystanders in restaurants, and mass-arrested hundreds, including more than 500 Wednesday night – bringing the tally from the last three months of protest to a record Canadian high of more than 2,500. The endless night-time drone of helicopters has become the serenade song of a police state.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/quebec-truncheon-law-rebounds-student-strike

Posted in Activism, Anti-Globalization, Civil Rights, Class War, Education, Globalization, Police Abuse, Police State. Comments Off on Quebec’s ‘truncheon law’ rebounds as student strike spreads

This Is What Tyranny Looks Like

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/23-4

by Carl Gibson
Published on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by Common Dreams

Remember when police beat Tea Party activists with batons, raided homes without warrants, unjustly arrested and strip-searched Tea Party protesters, or attacked and intimidated journalists covering Tea Party rallies?

Me neither. But then again, the Tea Party took to the streets in favor of higher profits and less regulations for the richest 1 percent, whose ranks they hope to but will never join. The media is more than happy to inflate their crowd estimates, and police are more than happy to let pro-status quo protests take to the streets undisturbed. The Tea Party has since phased out street protests to take over a major political party and make it bend to their every radical whim.

While it hasn’t yet taken over a major party, the Occupy movement has successfully exposed the oppressive fascist police state that has reared its ugly head in the past year. If you want to see what tyranny looks like, consider what happened to the estimated 75,000 protesters who took on the military-industrial complex at last weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago, after the mayor revoked protesters’ attempts to lawfully assemble.

-A night before protests even begun, the Chicago Police Department raided an activist’s home and arrested several on unproven allegations of terrorist activity, all without a valid warrant.

-At the front of a police line surrounding a NATO gathering, police suddenly start beating unarmed protesters with batons in an eerie video resembling police at Egypt’s Tahrir Square.

-While covering the protests, credentialed journalists are attacked by police who use bicycles as weapons.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/23-4

Posted in Civil Rights, Class War, Constitutional Rights, Fascism, Globalization, Hard Times, Police Abuse, Police State. Comments Off on This Is What Tyranny Looks Like

Global Protests Against Draconian Education Cuts, Tuition Hikes

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/168049/global-protests-against-draconian-education-cuts-tuition-hikes

Allison Kilkenny
on May 24, 2012

Austerity protests have become part of the new global landscape, a reality underscored by a wave of recent protests in Philadelphia and Quebec.

More than 1,000 people rallied Wednesday to protest the Philadelphia District’s plans to “transform schools,” a pleasant euphemism generally meaning school closures and mass layoffs. The Philly district plans to possibly lay off 2,700 blue-collar workers, including every member of SEIU B2BJ Local 1201, the city school union representing bus assistants, cleaners, mechanics and other workers.

Philly.com reports that all these workers have received pink slips and could be let go by the end of the year.

Eleven men and three women were arrested during Wednesday’s protest, including B2BJ president George Ricchezza, union health and welfare administrator Dennis Biondo and retired teachers Lisa Haver and Ronald Whitehorne, among others. They were later released and are to be arraigned in June.

The individuals were arrested for “clogging traffic,” according to a local CBS affiliate.

Earlier in the month, the school system announced that it expects to close forty public schools next year and sixty-four by 2017, shocking figures that received little national attention, prompting Black Agenda Report’s Bruce A. Dixon to publish an article titled, “Why Isn’t Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News?

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/168049/global-protests-against-draconian-education-cuts-tuition-hikes

Posted in Class War, Education, Environment, Equal Treatment, Globalization, Hard Times. Comments Off on Global Protests Against Draconian Education Cuts, Tuition Hikes

Chicago police clash with Nato summit protesters

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

Arrests and injuries as thousands march on downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting


guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 May 2012

The main anti-war march at the Chicago Nato summit was marred by clashes between police and protesters, with several people injured and 45 arrests.

Thousands of people marched towards McCormick Place in the downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting for the two-day summit.

However, the demonstration on Sunday ended in ugly scenes as police used batons to control the crowd. The violence came as a fifth person was charged with terrorism-related offences in in relation to alleged plots to disrupt the summit.

Sunday’s demonstration was the largest anti-war protest so far, after days of marches and protests in the city centre.

Gathering at Grant Park, thousands of protesters set off south towards the site of the summit, led by around 20 Iraq veterans against the war.

Arriving two blocks west of McCormick Place, the veterans, including Scott Olsen, the protester injured in Occupy Oakland demonstrations in October, staged a symbolic “returning” of their medals, tossing them in the direction of the sprawling conference space.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

Did slaves catch your seafood?

From Salon:   http://www.salon.com/2012/05/21/did_slaves_catch_your_seafood/singleton/

Thailand, a major source of fish imported to the US, depends on forced labor for its product

By , GlobalPost
Monday, May 21, 2012

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

PREY VENG, Cambodia, and SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand — In the sun-baked flatlands of Cambodia, where dust stings the eyes and chokes the pores, there is a tiny clapboard house on cement stilts. It is home to three generations of runaway slaves.

The man of the house, Sokha, recently returned after nearly two years in captivity. His home is just as he left it: barren with a few dirty pillows passing for furniture. Slivers of daylight glow through cracks in the walls. The family’s most valuable possession, a sow, waddles and snorts beneath the elevated floorboards.

Before his December escape, Sokha (a pseudonym) was the property of a deep-sea trawler captain. The 39-year-old Cambodian, his teenage son and two young nephews were purchased for roughly $650, he said, each through brokers promising under-the-table jobs in a fish cannery.

There was no cannery. They were instead smuggled to a pier in neighboring Thailand, where they were shoved aboard a wooden vessel that motored into a lawless sea. His uncle had fallen for the same scam five years prior and escaped to warn the others. But Sokha told his son, then just 16, that this venture would turn out differently. He was wrong.

“We worked constantly, for no pay, through seasickness and vomiting, sometimes for two or three days straight,” he said. “We obeyed the captain’s every word.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/05/21/did_slaves_catch_your_seafood/singleton/

Posted in Abuse, Class War, Fascism, Globalization, Hard Times, Human Rights, Nazism, Slavery, Workers. Comments Off on Did slaves catch your seafood?

The First Domino Falls in Greece

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/21-2

by Shamus Cooke
Published on Monday, May 21, 2012 by Common Dreams

Greece’s situation is not an isolated event, but a bellwether for the industrial world and beyond. The fallout from the 2008 global crisis hasn’t reached bottom yet, and the depths will be dug deeper as the Euro crisis spreads — political crisis will create economic crisis and vice versa, as periods of calm and stability are replaced by international turmoil and panic.

The media and politicians have portrayed the Greeks as indolent and stupid, refusing to swallow the economic medicine needed for a healthy recovery. But the austerity medicine of the bankers — slashing and privatizing the public sector, cutting wages and benefits, mass layoffs, etc. — is a cure that threatens to kill.

What will happen in Greece? Its future was hinted at in the last elections. The centrist parties were devastated by the reality of economic extremes; the “middle ground” simply fell out from under them, since society had been torn asunder by the inequality of the very rich versus everybody else.

In consequence, the radical left party SYRIZA is polled to come in first in the next elections, based on its firm stance against austerity and its uncompromising attitude against the bankers of Greece and beyond. The corporate politicians wanted SYRIZA to take part in a “unity government” that would magically rebuild the country’s lost middle ground and continue the pro-banker austerity policies.

But unity in an economically polarized country like Greece is impossible, especially when the continued existence of the bankers and wealthy rests on the continued suffering of everybody else.

Since unity failed during the last elections, Greek “technocrats” are now overseeing the government until the next elections. What is a technocrat? Someone who supposedly lacks any class bias; the professional strata of professors, lawyers, or doctors that attempt to sit astride an uneven society perfectly balanced, blind to special interests, while keeping their sights set on the “national interest.” But the Greek technocrats are continuing the wealthy’s austerity program, exposing their fake objectivity.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/21-2

Posted in Anti-Globalization, Austerity, Class War, Corporate Abuse, Fascism, Globalization, Human Rights, Workers. Comments Off on The First Domino Falls in Greece

Imperialism didn’t end. These days it’s known as international law

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/30/imperialism-didnt-end-international-law

A one-sided justice sees weaker states punished as rich nations and giant corporations project their power across the world


guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 April 2012

The conviction of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is said to have sent an unequivocal message to current leaders: that great office confers no immunity. In fact it sent two messages: if you run a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law; if you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.

While anyone with an interest in human rights should welcome the verdict, it reminds us that no one has faced legal consequences for launching the illegal war against Iraq. This fits the Nuremberg tribunal’s definition of a “crime of aggression”, which it called “the supreme international crime”. The charges on which, in an impartial system, George Bush, Tony Blair and their associates should have been investigated are far graver than those for which Taylor was found guilty.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, claims that Taylor’s conviction “demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions”. But the international criminal court, though it was established 10 years ago, and though the crime of aggression has been recognised in international law since 1945, still has no jurisdiction over “the most serious of crimes”. This is because the powerful nations, for obvious reasons, are procrastinating. Nor have the United Kingdom, the United States and other western nations incorporated the crime of aggression into their own legislation. International law remains an imperial project, in which only the crimes committed by vassal states are punished.

In this respect it corresponds to other global powers. Despite its trumpeted reforms, the International Monetary Fund remains under the control of the United States and the former colonial powers. All constitutional matters still require an 85% share of the vote. By an inexplicable oversight, the United States retains 16.7%, ensuring that it possesses a veto over subsequent reforms. Belgium still has eight times the votes of Bangladesh, Italy a bigger share than India, and the United Kingdom and France between them more voting power than the 49 African members. The managing director remains, as imperial tradition insists, a European, her deputy an American.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/30/imperialism-didnt-end-international-law

Posted in Corporate Abuse, Globalization, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Imperialism didn’t end. These days it’s known as international law