Argentinian Women Called to Strike, Protest After Brutal Attack on Teenage Girl

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by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

www.commondream.org

Argentinian Women Called to Strike, Protest After Brutal Attack on Teenage Girl

"We're calling it Black Wednesday because we're in mourning for all of the dead women, all of the women killed simply for being women"

Hundreds of thousands of Argentinian women were expected to take part in a national work stoppage and protest on Wednesday, following the brutal killing of a 16-year-old girl earlier this month.

Lucía Perez died in early October after allegedly being abducted, drugged, and raped in the city of Mar del Plata. 

The Guardian reports:

    The cruelty of her attack was such that Pérez suffered a cardiac arrest, according to prosecutor María Isabel Sánchez, who described it as "an act of inhuman sexual aggression."

    Following their assault, the assailants washed the 16-year-old in an attempt to erase forensic evidence and took her to a nearby hospital, where she died shortly after arrival from internal injuries sustained during her rape.

    "I know it's not very professional to say this, but I'm a mother and a woman, and though I've seen thousands of cases in my career, I've never seen anything like this," prosecutor Sánchez told local media.

And Perez's death was just one of a string of "femicides"—the deliberate killing of women—in Argentina. Since 2008, according to NGOs, 1,808 women have been violently killed in the country. Indeed, an additional three Argentinian women were killed just last week. 

Wednesday's action, in which groups called on women to wear black and to leave their places of work for an hour at midday, is in response to that violence and what one author described as "a boundless abandonment" of Argentinian women by the state. In addition to the strike and march planned for Buenos Aires, mobilizations are also expected in Jujuy, Mar del Plata, Tucumán, Chaco, Misiones, Mendoza, Córdoba, and Rosario.

"We're calling it Black Wednesday because we're in mourning for all of the dead women, all of the women killed simply for being women," said Ingrid Beck of the group Ni Una Menos (Not One Less), an organizer of the protests.

"In your office, school, hospital, law court, newsroom, shop, factory, or wherever you are working, stop for an hour to demand 'no more machista violence'," the march organizers wrote.

According to the Argentina Independent, solidarity protests are planned for Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, France, and Spain. And the Independent reports that while domestic violence and femicide are the top concerns of Wednesday's protests, the actions "do not solely focus on these issues."

"It is, of course, about that," said Mercedes D'Alessandro, co-founder of Economía Feminista, an organization with strong ties to Ni Una Menos, "but it is also to show that women are very important in the economic and social life of the country. We are indispensable."

"If nobody cleaned anything, or washed clothes, or cooked dinner—nobody could go to work," she said. "Whether in your home it's you, your mother, or you hire someone who does the housework, in the majority of cases it's a woman. But this work is invisible."

The demonstration comes less than two weeks after a mass rally was held in Santa Fe, Argentina, denouncing femicide and in defense of women's rights.

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Arrests and Anxiety at Standing Rock As Trump Pushes DAPL Ahead

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by Wes Enzinna

www.motherjones.com

Arrests and Anxiety at Standing Rock As Trump Pushes DAPL Ahead

As the pipeline nears completion, activists prepare for another showdown.

Clashes broke out today near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota following the announcement that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would be completed. Seventy-six protesters were arrested near the town of Cannon Ball after setting up a camp on land owned by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company overseeing construction of the 1,172-mile pipeline. Around 4 p.m., according to witnesses, police and National Guardsmen approached the protest camp on the pipeline route near the Missouri River, where activists had erected tepees. The police convoy included bulldozers, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected trucks, and Long Range Acoustic Device sound cannons, according to several eyewitnesses.

For the past month, the Dakota Access Pipeline—and the conflict prompted by its construction—has been at a standstill. ETP does not have an easement to tunnel under Lake Oahe, which supplies water to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is less than a half-mile south of the pipeline route. Yet last night Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) issued an announcement that the easement had been granted.

Cramer's statement, which appeared on his website, appeared below the headline "Approved: Dakota Access Pipeline Receives Federal Easement," alongside a photo of a shovel and the hashtag "#Build It." "President Trump has proven to be a man of action," Cramer wrote.

Protesters face off with police and the National Guard on Feb. 1, 2017. Ryan Vizzions/Standing Rock Rising

After months of clashes between protesters and police and private security contractors, the anti-pipeline activists celebrated a temporary victory on Dec. 4 when the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not allow completion of the pipeline without further environmental review, a process that could take two years. But the Trump administration has exerted pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers to reverse its decision. A Jan. 24 executive order insisted that the Army Corps "review and approve [the Dakota Access Pipeline] in an expedited manner." Trump has also asked the Corps to consider withdrawing the environmental-impact requirement.

On Tuesday, Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer said that he had "directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline," according to North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven. In a statement, Major General Malcolm Frost, the US Army chief of public affairs, said that the government was acting on Trump's orders "to expeditiously review requests for approvals to construct and operate the Dakota Access pipeline in compliance with the law."

Lawyers for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have declared that ignoring the Dec. 4 ruling by the Army Corps of Engineers is illegal, and they have promised to battle the pipeline's progress in court. "We are not surprised to see that North Dakota's U.S. Sen. John Hoeven issued a statement prematurely championing Trump directives to grant an easement for illegal construction," a spokeswoman for the tribe, Chelsea Hawkins, said.

As recently as this summer, Trump owned between $15,000 and $50,000 of ETP stock. Though he claims to have sold his shares in the company, he has not released any records substantiating his claim. Trump has also not commented on whether he's sold his shares of Phillips 66, an investor in the pipeline. ETP CEO Kelcy Warren gave $100,000 to help elect Trump. "It would be really unprecedented for the president-elect to tell the agency to reverse the decision," Sarah Krakoff, a professor of resource law at the University of Colorado-Boulder, told the Atlantic's Robinson Meyer in November. "It would cause all kinds of consternation about undue executive influence."

Protesters near the pipeline's path have vowed to resist any attempts to evict them, but their numbers are depleted. While as many as 15,000 "water protectors," including 4,000 veterans, were present in December, in recent weeks the population of the protest camps has dwindled to an estimated 1,100 activists. Standing Rock Sioux tribal leaders have, in dialog with the Morton County Sheriff's Office, encouraged protesters to leave, citing a need to clean up the area and the threat of a possible flood. Many activists have also moved on to other anti-pipeline battles, such as the  site of the ETP's Trans-Pecos pipeline in Texas. As news of the Secretary of the Army's order came in late on Tuesday night at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the scene was "all scrambled chaos as actions move elsewhere," one person there said. "Resistance [is] spreading everywhere, especially other pipelines, but shrinking at the mothership."

Yet more showdowns in North Dakota are likely. A group of veterans, Veterans Stand, has raised $37,000 to send members to Standing Rock in the coming days. "We are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected," Anthony Diggs, a spokesman for Veterans Stand, told CNBC. "That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch."

LaDonna Allard, who has hosted protesters on her land at the Sacred Stone Camp, invited more supporters to participate in what some activists fear could be the most intense stage yet of the #NoDAPL protests. Joye Braun, an activist who helped initiate the protests and a key organizer in efforts to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, said, "I'm so upset, but I'm ready to do what's needed. I'm scared, but I'm ready."

Get the scoop,  straight from Mother Jones.

 

 

 

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As GOP Aims for Massive Cuts, Support for Progressive People's Budget Soars

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, October 05, 2017

www.commondreams.org

As GOP Aims for Massive Cuts, Support for Progressive People's Budget Soars

More than half of House Democrats voted in favor of the People's Budget, which is "truly designed to represent the values and needs of the American people."

As the Republican Party and President Donald Trump gear up to slash over five trillion dollars from crucial safety net programs in order ram through exorbitant tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a majority of House Democrats on Wednesday voted in favor of the People's Budget (pdf), an ambitious alternative to GOP's "pathetic" proposals that would invest trillions in education, infrastructure, and healthcare while cutting the nation's out-of-control military spending.

"It's one thing to oppose President Trump and expose his broken promises to workers, but it's also important to lay out a positive path forward." 

—Rep. Mark Pocan

"Today's vote on the People's Budget marks the closest Congress has come to passing a budget that was truly designed to represent the values and needs of the American people," Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement following Wednesday's vote. "With over half the Democrats voting for the People's Budget it's clear the party supports smart reductions in Pentagon bloat and wise investments in diplomacy which will make Americans safer. All members of Congress who voted for the People's Budget deserve the thanks of their constituents."

First introduced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in May, the current version of the People's Budget was conceived as an attempt by progressive Democrats to move beyond their defensive posture and offer a positive vision of the future—one they hope can translate into electoral victories in 2018 and beyond.

Among the People's Budget's aims are:

A $2 trillion investment in America's energy, water, and transportation systems.

Higher taxes on Wall Street firms and corporations that offshore jobs.

A minimum wage hike and stronger union rights.

Expansion of mental health treatment and lower prescription drug costs.

Public funding of campaigns to curb corporate influence in elections.

Rein in "excessive CEO pay for defense contractors."

Audit the Pentagon budget.

Make debt free college "a reality for all students."

"It's one thing to oppose President Trump and expose his broken promises to workers, but it's also important to lay out a positive path forward," said CPC co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) after the People's Budget was introduced earlier this year. "The CPC's budget is a plan to actually help working Americans who have felt left behind by an economy rigged against them."

Though the CPC has been putting forth such a budgetary vision for years—proposals routinely ignored by the mainstream media and therefore largely left out of the public debate—this year's budget has garnered more backing from Democratic members than any previous version.

As Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, congressional Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have in recent days ramped up their attacks on the GOP's attempts to mislead the public with a tax plan that non-partisan analyses have shown would disproportionately favor the top one percent.

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) contrasted the GOP's vision with the agenda outlined by the Progressive Caucus.

"The Republican budget says we should invest millions of dollars into tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and the largest corporations," Jayapal said. "The Progressive Caucus budget says we want to invest in people. We believe in working families across this country who want to have a decent life and want to build a better future. I choose investing in the people."

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As Resistance Mobilizes, Poll Shows 'Overwhelming' Hatred for Trumpcare

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer June 22, 2017

www.commondreams.org

As Resistance Mobilizes, Poll Shows 'Overwhelming' Hatred for Trumpcare

Latest public opinion results arrive as groups mobilize against the newly unveiled Senate bill

Just following the release of the Senate's "morally bankrupt" healthcare bill—which would impose deep cuts to Medicaid, eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and give enormous tax breaks to the wealthy—an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published on Thursday found Americans "overwhelmingly" dislike the House version of the legislation.

"The bottom line is that Americans don't support this bill. It is irredeemable and unfixable." 

—Angel Padilla, policy director for Indivisible

"By a 3-to-1 margin, the American public holds a negative view of the American Health Care Act, legislation that House Republicans passed last month and that President Donald Trump supports," NBC's Mark Murray observed. "Just 16 percent of adults believe that House health care bill is a good idea, versus 48 percent who say it’s a bad idea."

In addition, the poll found that a mere 34 percent of Republicans view the House plan favorably.

Given the similarities between the two bills, the numbers appear to bode poorly for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who hopes to bring his measure—the Better Care Reconciliation Act—to the floor for a vote next week.

The fierce and persistent backlash against GOP attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare has given many Republicans pause, as they consider the electoral risks of backing legislation that could kick tens of millions off their insurance.

Resistance groups have moved in recent weeks to take advantage of this hesitance. UltraViolet has organized sit-ins at the offices of vulnerable senators; Indivisible launched the Trumpcare Ten initiative, which highlights lawmakers who could potentially defect from the Republican Party given enough grassroots pressure.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) experienced that pressure firsthand on Wednesday, as his "usually quiet" constituent coffee meeting was turned into a mini town hall, with angry Ohioans peppering him with questions about his healthcare stance. Portman has been one of several Republican senators to worry publicly about the draconian cuts the bill would impose on crucial programs,  including ones designed to help those addicted to opioids.

Now that the Senate bill is public, groups are looking to ramp up their efforts to force the handful of defections needed to prevent the measure's passage. As the Senate's Trumpcare bill was making the rounds, protesters, including many in wheelchairs, were being arrested after staging a protest outside of Sen. McConnell's office.

"The bottom line is that Americans don't support this bill. It is irredeemable and unfixable," said Indivisible policy director Angel Padilla in a statement. "If the well-being of their constituents is every senator's priority, no senator should vote for this bill, period."

Indivisible co-executive directors Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg layed out an action plan on Thursday for those looking to get involved.

"We've got three ways to fight back," they wrote:

Got a Republican Senator? Excellent. CALL THEM. Find daily scripts and material at TrumpCareTen.org.

Got a Democratic Senator? Great. Help them filibuster-by-amendment by submitting your amendment to to bury this awful bill: OurAmendments.org. Also ask them to slow down Senate business by withholding consent.

Want to join a congressional office TrumpCare sit-in? Awesome. Here’s a list of planned events.

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As Scale of Irma Damage Overwhelms, Calls Grow for Caribbean 'Marshall Plan'

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

 by Jake Johnson, staff writer, September 12, 2017

www.commondreams.org

As Scale of Irma Damage Overwhelms, Calls Grow for Caribbean 'Marshall Plan'

International aid organizations, and one British billionaire, are calling on wealthy nations to contribute more to the rebuilding process

As the Caribbean begins a "grim" and arduous recovery process after Hurricane Irma tore through the region—leaving many dead and entire islands nearly uninhabitable—aid organizations, and even one British billionaire, are ramping up calls for the world's wealthy nations to contribute to the rebuilding process.

"This story is about the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods." 

—Richard BransonIn a blog post on Sunday, Richard Branson—who weathered Irma's wrath by holing up a wine cellar on his private Caribbean island—called for a "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan" for the region, referencing the U.S.-led initiative to assist Europe in recovery efforts following the Second World War.

"This story is about the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods," Branson wrote. "We have spent the past two days visiting team members who live on Virgin Gorda and as many people as possible, distributing aid, water and supplies. We have seen first-hand just how ferocious and unforgiving this storm was."

Branson goes on to write that while he has "already seen some wonderful acts of human kindness over the last few days," full recovery will not be possible without massive support from the world's wealthy countries—and from the entire international community.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI), Branson notes, requires "an enormous amount of help to recover from the widespread devastation."

Branson concluded:

The U.K. government will have a massive role to play in the recovery of its territories affected by Irma—both through short-term aid and long-term infrastructure spending. The region needs a "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan" for the BVI and other territories that will aid in recovery, sustainable reconstruction, and long-term revitalization of the local economy. This will have to include building resilience against what is likely to be a higher intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, as the effects of climate change continue to grow.

Joining Branson in the call for an ambitious international recovery plan for the Caribbean is the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which said Tuesday that the world's governments cannot merely rely on the U.K., France, and the Netherlands to pick up the costs.

"People are concerned, there is a general sense that [the British Virgin Islands] is British government territory and therefore the British will handle it," Khin-Sandi Lwin, who is leading UNICEF's Caribbean efforts, told The Guardian. "So we haven't been able to raise the funds from other governments at the moment. This is where I do think we need a much bigger international response to the funding that's needed."

"they're all small islands but the devastation is quite extensive." 

—Khin-Sandi Lwin, UNICEF

As the Guardian's Helen Davidson reports, both the U.K. and France have "launched relief efforts, including thousands of troops or police." 

But Lwin said that will not be enough, given the extent of the damage.

"We're talking 28-30,000 population—they're all small islands but the devastation is quite extensive," Lwin concluded. "That means people are without shelter, there's no water in Turks and Caicos. Water supplies are contaminated and there was no groundwater to start with. We need to get water and food and shelter as a first response."

The growing calls for more support from the international community in the efforts to rebuild after Irma come as the U.S. and the U.K. are under fire for not paying enough attention to territories ravaged by the storm.

"We in the territories feel like third-class citizens because I'd rather wager that if there were something coming like that, of the same magnitude, to the mainland U.K., I suspect that there would be far more attention being paid," said Josephine Connor, a former adviser to the chief minister of Anguilla, one of Britain's 14 overseas territories.

Writing for The Nation on Monday, John Nichols slammed American media outlets for excluding Puerto Rico and other U.S. overseas territories harmed by Irma from their definition of the United States, and highlighted the fact that citizens of these territories have virtually zero representation in government.

"Anyone who respects the basic premises of democracy will recognize that this electoral imbalance is atrocious," Nichols concluded, "and potentially devastating for racially and ethnically diverse parts of the United States that need a voice and a vote when it comes to federal disaster relief and general budgeting."

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