NYC Taxi Drivers Stage Airport Strike to Protest Trump

Bhairavi Desai talking:

We were outraged by the so-called executive order. I mean, it’s just—it’s absolutely inhumane and cruel. And we are a workforce that’s largely Muslim and Sikh. And we know that, you know, when the flames of Islamophobia are fanned, and now by the presidency, it has a ripple effect on everyday people in this country. We’ve known through the years that taxi drivers, who are 20 times more likely to be killed on the job than any other worker, have often been the workers that have been the victims of hate crimes.

it was an act of solidarity. It was an act of consciousness. What is happening in this country is not normal. We refuse to accept this as normalcy. You know, we are a better humanity than this.

in New York City, we have over 19,000 members, and it includes Uber drivers. But Uber, as a company, sought to take advantage of our strike. And, you know, of course, it’s backfired. People have been really outraged. But it’s not surprising, because the CEO of Uber is an adviser to the president, and, you know, Uber has an absolutely atrocious policy in its treatment of the workers.

Yesterday in Philadelphia, our—the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania went on a similar solidarity strike and stood with the protesters—in San Francisco, in Austin, Texas, in Houston. You know, one of the things that’s happened is, because of companies like Uber, we are a workforce that’s been so deeply fragmented and impoverished, right? And when workers are kept poor, it has an impact on civil society. It’s harder for people to rise up and take collective action. But we are at a moment of such deep urgency in this society. And, you know, I’m really proud of our members and of the drivers across this country. This was a real act of courage, you know, particularly to have a workforce that’s predominantly black and brown stand up in this time.

– Lyft, the competitor to Uber, did respect this work stoppage and said they were going to give a million dollars to the ACLU over the next few years

Omar Jadwat talking:

there’s been an outpouring of support, I think, for a variety of organizations, but also, you know, that’s a small part of what matters. What matters is people doing what they can to make a difference. And that’s what we’re seeing. That’s what we saw this weekend in every way, you know? Contributions are important, but, you know, getting out and standing up are really—

And mobilizing those people is what those people and the people they know and the people they know and the people these people know is what’s going to make a difference.

Bhairavi Desai
executive director and co-founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance

Omar Jadwat
director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

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Importance of the march against Iraq attack

14 February 2003
It is not possible to overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat.

The urgency is the saving of lives. First, let us stop calling it a “war”. The last time “war” was used in the Gulf was in 1991 when the truth was buried with more than 200,000 people. Attacking a 70-mile line of trenches, three American brigades, operating at night, used 60-ton armoured earthmovers to bury alive teenage Iraqi conscripts, including the wounded and those surrendering and retreating. Survivors were slaughtered from the air. The helicopter gunship pilots called it a “turkey shoot”.

Of the 148 Americans who died, a quarter of them were killed by Americans. Most of the British were killed by Americans. This was known as “friendly fire”. The civilians who were killed, whose deaths were never recorded by the American military because it was “not policy”, were “collateral damage”.

Today, after 13 years of an economic blockade that has been compared with a medieval siege, Iraq is defenceless, no matter the discovery of an odd missile that can reach barely 90 miles. Its ragtag army is woefully under-equipped and awaiting its fate, along with a civilian population of whom 42 per cent are children. They are stricken. Even the export of British manufactured vaccines meant to protect Iraqi infants from diphtheria and yellow fever has been restricted. The vaccines, say the Blair government, are “capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”.

This is the nation upon which the Bush gang says it will rain down 800 missiles within the space of two days. “Shock and awe” the Pentagon calls its “strategy”. Meanwhile the weapons inspectors and their morose Swedish leader go about their treasure hunt and a cartoon show is hosted in the UN by General Colin Powell (who rose to the top by covering up the notorious My Lai massacre in Vietnam).

It is all a charade. The Americans want Iraq because they want to control and reorder the Middle East. Their once-favourite dictator, Saddam Hussein, made the mistake of misreading the signals from Washington in 1990 and invading another favourite American oil tyranny, Kuwait. So belatedly, Saddam must be replaced, preferably by another Saddam, though more reliable and less uppity. There is no issue of “weapons of mass destruction”. That is a distraction for us and the media.

The wider significance of the promised attack is the rapacious nature of the American state. As Tony Blair has confirmed, North Korea is likely to be “next”. I think he is wrong and that Iran will be next. That is what the Israeli regime wants and Israel’s wishes are as important to influential members of the Bush gang as oil. Thereafter, there is China. Says Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Institute in Washington: “What radical US nationalists have in mind is either to ‘contain’ China by overwhelming military force or to destroy the Chinese Communist state.”

ONE of the Bush gang’s planners, Richard Perle, has said: “If we let our vision of the world go forth and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”

September 11 2001 was their big opportunity. On September 12 Donald Rumsfeld wanted to use the Twin Towers tragedy as an excuse to attack Iraq, which was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell argued that “public opinion has to be prepared”. Afghanistan was the easier option and they were planning to attack it anyway.

The subsequent American endeavour to encircle al-Qaeda in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan was a fiasco and more than 20,000 people, estimates Jonathan Steele in the Guardian, paid the price of that country’s “liberation”.

Since September 11 America has established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has repudiated the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions, with the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states “if necessary” – incredibly Geoffrey Hoon, on Blair’s behalf, has said exactly the same.

Assassination is now legal. Virtually before our eyes, prisoners have been tortured to the point of suicide in an American concentration camp in Cuba. Under Donald Rumsfeld a secret group with the Orwellian name of the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group has the job of provoking terrorist attacks, which would then require “counter-attack” by the United States. You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that the enemy to all our security is not a regional tyrant – there are plenty of those, many created by America and Britain.

And what of Blair? Do he and his craven Ministers understand any of this? It is difficult to know. Such is Blair’s evangelical obsession with Iraq, and perhaps his desperation in the face of overwhelming public opposition, that he is prepared to mislead and deceive not only the public but the armed forces he has sent to pursue his and the mad Perle’s “vision”.

Does anyone believe the Prime Minister any more? During his interview last Thursday with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, Blair lied once again that UN weapons inspectors were “thrown out” of Iraq by the regime in 1998. He knows the truth: that they were withdrawn when it was discovered the CIA had planted spies among them in order to gather intelligence for the subsequent Anglo-American bombing of Iraq in December 1998.

I MEAN,” said Blair last week, “(the threat of Iraq’s undiscovered weapons of mass destruction) is what our intelligence services are telling us and it’s difficult because, you know, either they’re simply making the whole thing up …”

Making it up, indeed. On February 7 Downing Street had to apologise when it was revealed that its latest dossier seeking to justify war – “Iraq: its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation” – was lifted word for word, including the grammatical and spelling mistakes, from an article written by an American student 10 years ago. As David Edwards of Media Lens has pointed out, “the only changes involved the doctoring of passages to make the report more ominous: a claim that Iraq was ‘aiding opposition groups’ was changed to a claim that Iraq was ‘supporting terrorist organisations’.” Like Bush, Blair lies that “we do know of links between al-Qaeda and Iraq”. An investigation by America’s National Security Council, which advises Bush, “found no evidence of a noteworthy relationship” between Iraq and al-Qaeda. On February 5 a Ministry of Defence document, leaked to the BBC, revealed that British intelligence had told Blair there was “no current link” between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Blair has even denied seeing this crucial report.

As a Christian, Blair says be is helping to build a “secure and hopeful world for all our children”.

The Labour MP Llew Smith recently asked the Education Secretary to explain “how we can find billions of pounds to increase our defence budget and go to war with Iraq but cannot find the money to scrap tuition fees?”

There was no intelligible reply.

LAST November a report by the School of Public Policy, University of College London, disclosed that “53 per cent of children in inner London are living in income poverty”. Yet Chancellor Gordon Brown puts aside “at least a billion pounds” as “a war chest” with which to attack not poverty but an impoverished people half a world away.

A peaceful solution in the Middle East is only possible when the threat of an attack is lifted and a total ban on so-called weapons of mass destruction and arms sales is imposed throughout the region, on Israel as well as Iraq. The economic blockade on the people of Iraq should end immediately and justice for the Palestinians become a priority.

The power of public opinion, both moral and political power, is far greater than many people realise. That’s why Blair fears it and why, through the inept Tessa Jowell, he tried to ban tomorrow’s demonstration. He fears it because if the voice of the people threatens the house of cards he has built on his obsession with Iraq and America, it may well threaten his political life and make mockery of the Anglo-American “coalition” and deny the Bush gang its fig leaf.

Should that happen, American public opinion, now stirring heroically after the most sustained brainwashing campaign for half a century, may even stop the Bush gang in its tracks. As of yesterday 42 American cities had passed resolutions condemning an attack.

Is all that a cause for optimism? Yes it is. Look at how this week’s French and German “rebellion” almost seemed to change everything; and remember that those governments are speaking out only because of overwhelming pressure from their people.

Now that has to happen in Britain. Tomorrow you can begin to make it happen.

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Boycott the Banks, the Funders of Dakota Access Pipeline

Those are water protectors with the Red Warrior Camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, singing at a protest at the Chase Sapphire lounge here in Park City. Chase Manhattan Bank is one of the Sundance Film Festival’s leading sponsors. Monday’s protest targeted the bank’s investment in the Dakota Access pipeline.

Shailene Woodley talking:

I can’t speak for the tribe. I also can’t speak for those that are at camp. But I can speak from my own perspective, which is, it doesn’t actually matter what the president of the United States decides to do, it doesn’t matter what his administration decides to move forward with, if there is no money invested in this pipeline. As we all know, it’s one thing to sign a petition. It’s one thing to retweet something or to talk about it or to take a stance on something. But it’s another thing to actually create change through your actions. And the best way to do this is with our money. We have to put our money where our mouth is. We have to divest from these giant corporate banks that are invested in the Dakota Access pipeline, so that when that time comes for this pipeline to be put in the ground, if that’s what this administration is going to follow through with, they won’t be able to, because there’s no money invested. So, from my perspective, regardless of what the tribe wants and the water protectors on the ground in North Dakota want, we have to ensure, as a population, that if we want clean drinking water, because it shouldn’t be a privilege—it’s not a privilege; it’s something that should be available for all human beings; it’s a human right—we have to ensure that there’s no money invested in the pipeline, and by withdrawing our money by Chase Bank and Bank of America and Citibank—and there’s a list. There’s like 19 large corporate banks that are invested in this pipeline.

we’re at Sundance Film Festival right now. Sundance, in itself, is a ceremony amongst Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people, which the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock Reservation are a part of. And it’s a very important ceremony in their traditions. Sundance Film Festival, for since the origins of its creation, has been a huge supporter of indigenous communities. And yet, one of the largest sponsors of this film festival is Chase Bank, which is investing in the Dakota Access pipeline, which directly affects the indigenous communities in America.

I think we’re beyond the point of—and I keep saying this, but we’re beyond the point of looking at the facade. We have to look at what’s behind the scenes. We have to think outside of the box. And so, even though perhaps the people of the Sundance Film Festival didn’t register, didn’t think about how Chase was actually detrimental to indigenous communities through its actions and decisions, it is. And so, we, as a population, as a film festival, as different corporations that do stand with indigenous people, have to start thinking about the corporations that don’t stand with them, and take a firm stance and say—and draw the line and say that, you know, we have to—we have to, again, put our money where our mouth is.

I think this protest just shows that the mobilization is not going to end anytime soon. The women’s marches in D.C. showed us a lot about how our country feels about the current administration. And the fact that so many people showed up—it doesn’t matter if you’re conservative, it doesn’t matter if you’re progressive, it doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or Republican or Democrat. Clean drinking water is necessary for human survival. And without it, none of us can survive. We have to start thinking about that. We have to start digesting that and acting upon that. And I think the thousands of people who, within hours, decided to show up in New York City are proving that when the people stand together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. And people are ready for that. Complacency is out the door. Apathy is out the door. It’s time to be empathetic, even if it’s not on our front doorstep. This is a fight that belongs to all of us. This is the fight of our lives.

I don’t want to speak too much about the environmental impact statement, because I don’t feel like I’m the best representative for that. But I do know that because that has been enacted and because that is in place, it will be more difficult for Trump’s administration to do something about the Dakota Access pipeline, but it’s not going to prevent it from being installed all the way, which is why the camp in North Dakota so important.

And the water protectors, who are there in subzero-degree temperatures—I haven’t been there for about a month, but the last time I was there, there was a whiteout blizzard. There were people who were dealing with hypothermia. There were people who were snowed in in their tipis and their tents. And yet they still persevered, because they understood the importance of showing up.

And I think another thing that’s important, especially for people who are watching this right now, is there’s a lot of emphasis on showing up and being in North Dakota, which is incredibly important, but oftentimes I think we overlook the fact that the front lines don’t only have to be in North Dakota. The front lines can be in your wallet. It can be, again, with divesting from a particular bank. It can be calling a certain congressman or your senator. It can be putting pressure on this administration as a citizen of the United States of America, demanding the drinking water that you want not only for this generation, but future generations.

The people give me so much hope. I’m the eternal optimist, but it really boils down to the people. And I think, for centuries in this country, we have been so complacent. And I use the word “apathy” a lot, because unless, again, it’s on our doorstep, we don’t tend to do anything about it. But we don’t have time to let apathy get in the way anymore. We don’t have time to let the color of our skin, to let our beliefs, whether it’s our religious beliefs, the ideals that we’ve grown up with, get in the way of human rights and social justice. And I think the millions of people who are standing together around this country, in a way that we have not seen in centuries, is really powerful and sends a powerful message out to the world and to our current administration, that we’re not going to be complacent.

I got involved with it, A, because I’m a true believer in switching over to renewable energy and transitioning from fossil fuels immediately. But I also got involved with this particular pipeline over other pipelines because of the direct effect on indigenous communities in our country. For since the time of colonization, we have not only ignored, but been very ignorant to the history that we all are taught. We are taught a Western narrative of what happened when this land was colonized. We don’t know the truth. I don’t even know the whole truth still, and I’ve spent a year in the trenches with indigenous people. It’s our responsibility to recognize that we may not know what side of history our ancestors were on, but to learn about the history of this country, the true history of this country, and move forward in a good way, move forward with allies that don’t necessarily look like us. And maybe we have different belief systems, and maybe we have different backgrounds, but we have to take down those barriers. And that’s why I initially was encouraged by the Dakota Access pipeline movement, not only because of the indigenous communities, but because it was led by indigenous youth. And that’s something that I think we need to start paying more attention to.

I was arrested for engaging in a riot and for criminally trespassing. I was the only person out of 300 people who were participating in a particular action to be arrested. I was live-streaming. There was 40,000 people who were watching on my Facebook live stream, when I was picked out of the crowd of 300 people and specifically arrested.

Actually, on the live stream, you can hear me say, “If I stand here, I won’t get arrested, right?” And everyone—you can hear probably 10 voices say, “No, you can’t get arrested if you’re standing here.” And I still got arrested.

I was walking to my vehicle. I was with my mom and a few friends. And there were two large tanks outside of the RV that I was in and, I would say, maybe 10 cops standing there with batons, with their full riot gear. And they grabbed him, and they said, “Are you Shailene Woodley?” And I said, “Yes, I am.” And they said, “You must remain here.” They went around the corner, discussed amongst themselves. I waited there for what felt like five minutes; it was probably 45 seconds. And they came back, and they said, “You’re under arrest.”

My trial has constantly been shifting. As of right now, it’s March 31st.

I think there’s a common—a huge misconception, actually, in this country that the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline has been over. The minute that the Army Corps of Engineers decided to deny the easement, I think, by population and by popular opinion, people decided that they didn’t need to pay attention anymore. And what we started to see at the end of this movement, which was frustrating but also beautiful, was that people started to catch on, and it sort of became a trend. It became a trend to say, “I stand with Standing Rock.” It became cool to say, “I fight against the Dakota Access pipeline,” became something that was hip to talk about or to retweet. And that’s wonderful, because it garnered more attention. But what we’re seeing now is this fight is far from over. This fight has always been far from over. We knew that there was a huge opportunity with President Trump’s administration to come in and change what President Obama decided to do.

And so, my prayer would be that all of the people who paid attention when this was something that was trending on Twitter, when this was something that was trending on Instagram, continue to pay attention to the water protectors, because, like you mentioned, there are Facebook Live videos that come out every single night of people being shot with rubber bullets still. And that’s something that I was shocked by two-and-a-half weeks ago when a friend sent me that Facebook Live, because you assume that it doesn’t keep happening. But just because you’re not on the ground and I’m not on the ground doesn’t mean it’s not still there. And we must stay aware of these situations.

it’s something that blows my mind, because perhaps it will create, let’s say, a couple thousand jobs or a million jobs in America. They’re temporary jobs. If we’re talking about real job creation in this country, we have to start looking at renewable energy. It’s the only way. That is a permanent job. And not only that, you’re creating the infrastructure that keeps—that guarantees energetic independence within our country. We know that Energy Transfer Partnerships and the Keystone XL pipeline—we know that lots of that oil is being exported. So, when their argument is that we’re creating jobs and we’re also creating energetic independency, that’s not true. It’s a flat-out lie. And so, if we want to install both of those things, and if our new administration and Trump wants to follow through on his promises to this country, which was creating new jobs and creating better infrastructure for the people who are from America and are living in America, then we have to start looking at renewables. It’s the only way.

for the first time in my life, not only did I witness, but I felt like I was—I got to see—I got to be proven wrong, in that you can protest, and you can win a fight without violence and without aggression. And you can win with compassion, and you can win with kindness, and you can win with prayer. And all of these things, the ceremony and kindness, compassion, you know, they’ve been written off for so long as hippie ideals or as things that don’t actually create true change. Dakota Access pipeline, the fight against DAPL, changed that, because indigenous people were at the forefront of this fight, and indigenous people refused to let ego and fear and aggression get in the way of true change and true love for future generations. They’re resisting this pipeline not for you and I, not for those of us who are alive right now or my future children; they’re resisting this pipeline for seven generations to come, so that in seven generations we will know, we can guarantee, that they will have water to drink. And that is something, moving forward—I don’t care if we’re dealing with feminism or climate change or fight against the private prison system—that is something we have to hold in our hearts and in our hands, is that prayer, that ceremony and that steadfast commitment to compassionate resistance.

Shailene Woodley
television and film actress. She appeared in the TV series Secret Life of the American Teenager and has starred in films including The Divergent Series and The Fault in Our Stars.

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Protesters Blockade Planned Pipeline Site

In Peekskill, New York, just about an hour north of New York City, residents have launched a blockade in efforts to stop construction of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market Project, known as the AIM pipeline, which would carry high-pressure methane gas from Massachusetts through Rhode Island, Connecticut and down to the communities along the Hudson River.

Italian Student Council Approves Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

On March 1, 2017, the Student Council of the University of Turin approved by wide majority (76%) a motion supporting the academic boycott of Israel, calling for revocation of the agreements between the university and the Israel Institute of Technology – Technion in Haifa. For the first time, an Italian academic body has endorsed the BDS movement as a nonviolent method aimed at ending the continuous and systematic denial of the rights of the Palestinians by the State of Israel.

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