From The Trenches Radio for September: Jill Stein of the Green Party, Loretta Capeheart on free speech and activism
From The Trenches is the monthly radio program of the Chicago Independent Media Center.
ON THE SHOW IN SEPTEMBER 2012:
* GREEN PARTY 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JILL STEIN
Jill Stein, the 2012 presidential candidate of the Green Party of the United States, spoke in Chicago on a recent visit; we'll hear an excerpt.
* EMBATTLED CHICAGO SCHOLAR LORETTA CAPEHEART
We'll hear an interview with Loretta Capeheart, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University, whose free speech fight affects activism in Illinois and nationally.
* Plus, headlines from the worldwide Indymedia network.
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RECENT HEADLINES FROM THE WORLDWIDE INDYMEDIA NETWORK:
Australian Climate Change activists accelerate opposition to coal in New South Wales
Sydney Indymedia featured the recent efforts of Australian environmental activists who accelerated efforts against the use of coal in New South Wales. Quoting from the feature: "A banner drop at a construction site for a new coal loader terminal at the Port of Newcastle in the New South Wales Hunter Valley ended when police instructed a crane that activists [had climbed] be lowered to the ground. Two activists were arrested, responding that they were not given warning of this forced takedown action and alledged it imperiled their lives. The protest marked the fourth consecutive stop-work action against New South Wales coal projects in the week of September 3rd, 2012. Activists targeted expansions of the three major elements of the coal chain – mines, railway, and port infrastructure – to highlight the massive expansion of coal mining and infrastructure taking place in New South Wales, and its impacts on public health and the environment. Newcastle is the largest coal export port in the world, and a proposed port terminal expansion will add 66 million [tons] per year export capacity if allowed to go ahead."
Police caught lying against student Injured in famed UC-Davis Pepper Spray Incident
Indybay reports that California police were caught in a lie attempting to create a legal case against an arts student active in the Occupy movement. On August 10, 2012, Thomas Mazdat appeared before the Yolo County District Court for a pre-trial hearing over twenty charges, including multiple counts of felony and misdemeanor vandalism, allegedly for multiple incidents of graffiti to campus walls, windows, bus shelters and restrooms in Davis, California. Mazdat's legal team provided evidence that police lied about the security footage that supposedly connected Mazdat to the vandalism. Mazdat, a junior at the University of California - Davis studied fine art and created oil paintings, prints, and t-shirts in support of political activism and the Occupy movement on campus. Thomas also took part in the internationally-known pepper-spray incident at UC-Davis on November 18, 2011, in which police deployed military-grade pepper spray at point-blank range against seated students at a public protest; Mazdat's wrists were damaged by police at the protest, resulting in nerve damage. The police's lie on the affidavit against Mazdat led to a warrant which police then used to raid Mazdat's dorm room, which was used as grounds for Mazdat's arrest and a subsequent three-day-long jail term, during which Mazdat missed his final exams and was subsequently expelled from the University.
DC Activists Disrupt Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Talks
DC Indymedia reported on a disruption of talks of an in-progress corporate globalization treaty. On September 12, 2012, anti-corporate and Occupy activists disrupted the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks taking place in Lansdown Resort in Leesburg, Virginia, north of DC. Activists blocked delegates from entering the meeting, while a group of three activists covertly entered the talks themselves, deployed a banner inside the talks, and responded to negotiators with a mic-check. The treaty in question, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is an investor-rights mandate based of the model of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but focusing on countries around the Pacific rim, including the United States, Australia, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. If the treaty is approved, it would accelerate job offshoring among Pacific rim countries, decrease medical access, and gut environmental safeguards. The text of the treaty has not been made public, even to members of Congress.
Champaign Housing Authority Considers Demolishing Black Neighborhood
Urbana-Champaign Indymedia featured efforts to protect public housing and their residents in Champaign County. Quoting from the feature: "A protest was held before the board meeting of the Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC) on Thursday, August 23, 2012 by those questioning plans to demolish Bristol Place, a largely African American neighborhood on the North End in Champaign. This comes on the heels of the demolition of two public housing units, Dunbar Court and Joann Dorsey Homes, also largely comprised of black residents. Local authorities have ambitions of eliminating all signs of poverty, while failing to address the basic needs of those less fortunate. The protest outside of the Housing Authority in downtown Champaign was led by Terry Townsend, African American activist and former Housing Authority commissioner. After the demonstration was announced, the issue was pulled off the board’s agenda. Regardless, a large crowd of people filled up the seats in the audience of the board meeting. Documents provided to Indymedia by Townsend reveal the intentions of Champaign administrators to tear down the neighborhood for redevelopment. The hope is to attract students from Chicago, their parents, wealthy alumni, and young professionals of the “creative class” to Champaign. On the North End, “redevelopment” means the removal of black and poor people from sight."
Chicago Indymedia Coverage of Chicago Teachers Union Strike
Chicago Indymedia has been covering the historic Chicago Teachers strike and its larger context and aftermath. The strike, characterized as bold, inspiring, historic, widely-publicized, and risky, took place over the issues of teacher compensation, job security, evaluation procedures, and sufficient classroom resources (including air conditioning in the summer). The strike could be argued as inevitable, given the increasingly neoliberal cookie-cutter Chicago Public Schools board, and the progressive leadership at the Chicago Teachers Union, which grew out of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators group of teacher/activists. After staging a nine-day-long strike, the CTU House of Delegates voted 98 percent to 2 percent to end the strike, winning a proposed deal including a teachers' salary increase, the right for teachers to craft their own lesson plans, and the preservation of forms of merit pay. Even so, the corporatization of public education continues apace, American schools remain largely segregated on racial and economic lines, and a Chicago television ad featuring Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel touting the end of the strike was paid for a by a group called Education Reform Now, an anti-teachers-union group.