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Economic Justice

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    In the Path of the Mining-Energy Locomotive – Resisting Colombia’s Quimbo Hydroelectric Project (Photo Essay) Entre Aguas February 7, 2012

    While the tone of Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, is much more diplomatic than his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, the state policies of militarizing territories to facilitate resource extraction under the guise of economic development and counter-insurgent security have not changed. The forced displacement of inhabitants that it spurred has also not abated.

    Santos, the Minister of Defense under Uribe, assumed the presidency in August 2010. He kicked off his administration by naming four focus areas as the “locomotives” of his government´s economic development, one of these being mining-energy generation.

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    Occupying the Imagination, Cultivating a New Politics Vijay Prashad November 23, 2011

    Melanie Cervantes & Chris Crass-www.dignidadrebelde.comMelanie Cervantes & Chris Crass-www.dignidadrebelde.comMy heart makes my head swim - Franz Fanon, "Black Skin, White Masks"

    Part I: Bare Life

    Reports and rumors filter out of government documents and family distress signals to locate precisely the ongoing devastation of social life in the United States. Unemployment rates linger at perilously high levels, with the effective rate in some cities, such as Detroit, stumbling on with half the population without waged work. Home foreclosures fail to slow-down, and sheriffs and debt-recovery paramilitaries scour the landscape for the delinquents. Personal debt has escalated as ordinary people with uneven means of earning livings turn to banks and to the shady world of personal loan agencies to take them to the other side of starvation. Researchers at the RAND Corporation tell us that absent family support, poverty rates among the elderly will be about double what they are now. In other words, economist Nancy Folbre’s “invisible heart” is trying its best to hold back the noxious effects of the “invisible hand.”

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    So Real it Hurts - Notes on Occupy Wall Street Manissa McCleave Maharawal October 4, 2011

    I first went down to Occupy Wall Street last Sunday, almost a week after it had started. I didn't go down before because I, like many of my other brown friends, was wary of what we had heard or just intuited that it was mostly a young, white male scene. When I asked friends about it they said different things: that it was really white; that it was all people they didn't know; and that they weren't sure what was going on. But after hearing about the arrests and police brutality on Saturday, September 24th and after hearing that thousands of people had turned up for their march I decided I needed to see this thing for myself. 

    So I went down for the first time on Sunday, September 25th with my friend Sam. At first we couldn't even find Occupy Wall Street. We biked over the Brooklyn Bridge around noon on Sunday, dodging the tourists and then the cars on Chambers Street. We ended up at Ground Zero and I felt the deep sense of sadness that that place now gives me: sadness over how, what is now in essence just a construction site, changed the world so much for the worse.

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    Tax the Rich, Save our Safety Net! Save our Safety Net September 21, 2011

    Victory: On September 20, 2011, the DC city council voted to increase taxes on residents making over $350,000 a year by approximately .5%.  By finally creating a new tax bracket targeting high-income earners the council acceded to the demand of Save Our Safety Net, DC! (SOS) and other local advocates who together have been fighting for a more progressive tax system in the district.  It was a strange victory for the coalition as there was no grassroots mobilization in the days leading up to the surprise vote.  Nor was there any guarantee that the more than $100 million in new revenue over the next four years would go towards rebuilding the city’s safety net.  Still, there’s no doubt that the groundwork for the vote was laid by the SOS campaigns over the past two and a half years.  Perhaps most pleasing was the sight of the most conservative, anti-tax members of the council squirming and bitterly whining as the proposal they had fought so hard to avert was finally put into law.

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    What Will the Budget Cuts Mean: A View from the Grassroots Sisters of the Road and Community Voices Heard July 30, 2011

    Funding for social services in the US has never been as popular among policymakers as, say, funding the military. Since the New Deal, social service programs have been defunded, under- funded and privatized—and the people who use social services demonized by elected officials in the media. Currently the US government, through privatization and spending cuts, is looking to further cuts in funding to social services including housing, mental health care, HIV/AIDS services, services to the elderly, heating fuel assistance, and child welfare. The latest Republican budget calls for $4 trillion in spending cuts—the bulk of which come from social spending.

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    Housing on the Chopping Block Ben Terrall July 30, 2011

    On February 14 communities across the United States joined together in a collective day of action called by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants. From Washington, DC to Florida, from Maine to California, HUD tenants, foreclosure victims, homeless and poor people, and their supporters held press conferences and community forums to demand full funding of vital housing programs -- including poverty, homelessness, and health programs.

    The San Francisco Valentine’s Day protest was co-sponsored by the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) and a broad range of Bay Area housing and social justice groups.

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    The Reluctant Welfare State Morrigan Phillips June 20, 2011

    Social welfare programs are easy fodder for budget debates. A mere 18 percent of the federal budget is earmarked for discretionary spending, which includes welfare programs like public housing, food stamps, and cash assistance. Yet to hear foes spin it, one might think that social welfare programs comprise the bulk of the US budget and are responsible for sinking the country into unimaginable debt.

    To close the fiscal year gap and keep the government running for the rest of fiscal year 2011, Republicans recently took aim at discretionary spending with the Welfare Reform Act of 2011. When the dust settled, the cuts to social services—though less than they would have been due to the quick action of activists, advocates, and some elected officials—were stark. (See sidebar for outline of recent cuts.) These cuts are beginning to play across the country as cash-strapped cities and states have fewer funds from the federal government to use to deliver services.

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    Direct Action & Elections: Wisconsin's Labor Struggle Lee M. Abbott June 20, 2011

    No one could say they'd seen it before. That’s what was so genuinely exhilarating about those first weeks of protests in Madison against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s effort to take away public workers’ right to collectively bargain. People had seen protest, confrontation, and direct action before, but now these were taking shape and combining in ways no one had ever expected. Rallies wouldn’t let up—protestors wouldn’t go home and more returned every day. An open-ended, intense confrontation between the people and the government grew day by day in the State Capitol.     

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    Engaging the Crisis: Organizing Against Budget Cuts, Building Community Power in Philadelphia Kristin Campbell April 1, 2010

    On November 6, 2008, just days after Philadelphians poured onto the streets to celebrate the Phillies winning the World Series championship and Barack Obama the US presidency, Mayor Michael Nutter announced a drastic plan to deal with the city’s $108 million budget gap. Severe budget cuts were announced, including the closure of eleven public libraries, sixty-two public swimming pools, three public ice skating rinks, and eliminating several fire engines. Nutter also stated that 220 city workers would be laid off and 600 unfilled positions would be eliminated entirely, amounting to the loss of nearly 1,000 precious city jobs.

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    Towards a National Take Back the Land Movement Kamau Franklin April 1, 2010

    At the height of the financial crises in 2008 Max Rameau, a community organizer in Miami for the past ten years, began to see a quiet devastation taking hold in community after community: foreclosure signs, houses for sale, unrented properties, the downward slide of home values as people worried about increased mortgage payments, soaring levels of unemployment, and a gathering storm of homelessness unparalleled since the Great Depression. Max notes, “All around me people seemed to be at the brink of disaster. The government was not doing much so we stepped in and tried to do something dramatic and worthwhile.

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