Tag: WNV

A call center run by refugees fills a void in Greece

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Refugees arriving in Greece have found themselves forced to organize in order to survive. One of the most basic needs, after feeding oneself, is to be able to communicate — to be able to ask for help, to go to the doctor, to get a lawyer, to know your rights, to get out of the refugee camp and to work in a new country. These tasks can be extremely difficult for refugees in Greece, the majority of whom only speak Arabic.

Ramez Shame, who is a refugee from Egypt, speaks both Arabic and English, which is a second language for many in Greece. As soon as he realized how his language skills could help others, he went to work. After taking stock of the needs of refugees, Shame and three others started a cooperative hotline in Thessaloniki to act as a bridge for refugees, called the Refugees to Refugees (R2R) Solidarity Call Center.

Student protest blocks ethnic segregation plan in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Students in central Bosnia and Herzegovina return to school this week, but not with the usual nerves that accompany back-to-school season. This year, high school students in the small, medieval city of Jajce are returning with a newfound sense of purpose and empowerment.

Over the summer months, the students organized protests that successfully pressured the local assembly in the Central Bosnia Canton to postpone its plans for a new segregated high school teaching only Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) students. This proposed measure would extend a policy of ethnic segregation, already implemented in Jajce’s elementary schools, to the high school level.

North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux aren’t backing down to oil pipeline developers

On Thursday, nonviolent protesters outside North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux reservation entered their second day of confrontation with private security and local law enforcement. Armed with drums, tribal flags, and cell phones, demonstrators moved to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion dollar crude-oil conduit slated to cut just 1,000 feet from the perimeter of native land. Confrontations began on Wednesday, August 10, when construction crews and private security hired by Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based developers overseeing the pipeline, arrived to break ground. Arrests were made beginning Thursday, as 14 protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, while dozens more remained defiantly on site.

Thursday’s arrests represented a sharp break after months of quiet occupation on the site. Organizers, led by Standing Rock Sioux, established Camp of the Sacred Stones in April, after learning of the impending project. Concerned that the pipeline would wreak havoc on the sacred sites and delicate wildlife in the area, a group of about 30 indigenous tribal members and allies moved to occupy the proposed construction site. “This is a prayer camp movement to save our sacred land and water and has been entirely supported by the people and the campers,” the group wrote online. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a tribal historian and organizer, was confident as she spoke to reporters in April. “We will stop it. We have prayer with us.”

Wave of occupations marks step forward for Black Lives Matter

Activists in New York City seeking to defund the police have successfully occupied City Hall Park for a week and seen one of their demands met with the resignation of Commissioner Bill Bratton. While blocking roads and highways has been the tactic of choice for Black Lives Matter since it gained national attention two years ago, the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have sparked the resurgence of a tactic many thought had been left behind in Zuccotti Park.

Occupations against systemic racism and state violence started in Los Angeles, made their way to Chicago eight days later, and then ended up in New York City after another 12 days. But will these occupations end the same way the Occupy Wall Street protests ended? Does the adoption of this well-worn tactic represent an advancement for the movement, or does it illustrate the need for newer, more disruptive tactics?

Fixing Hong Kong begins with fixing homes

To Kwa Wan is one of Hong Kong’s poorest districts. There’s little resemblance to the shine and glamour of the central shopping district with its imported brands and boutiques. Here, the cheap plastics and household appliances crammed into little shops echo the way people squeeze into tiny, claustrophobic apartments.

It’s also a district marked for urban redevelopment. A new train line is under construction, guaranteed to push up already-staggering property prices the moment it’s opened.

On a fairly unremarkable street, in a space known enigmatically as the House of Stories, the volunteer group Fixing HK is getting ready for another night of repair and outreach.

Pokémon Go for Radicals

If you happen to have been living under a rock this past week, there’s a good chance someone turned it over looking for Pokémon. Pokémon Go, Nintendo’s free augmented reality app, has been as ubiquitous in the news as the presidential election.

For the uninformed: Game designers have placed Pokémon and in-game items at specific hot spots around the country, encouraging users to venture out into their neighborhoods or others, and to contest for “gyms,” where they can challenge other players for control of a particular location.

Repression backfires in Serbia, fueling anti-corruption movement

On Wednesday, July 13, over 10,000 protesters in Serbia filled the streets of Belgrade, marching as part of a growing popular movement against political corruption and criminal acts surrounding the Belgrade Waterfront Project.

The march was the fifth so far in an ongoing movement that has gained momentum since April. Dubbed “Beograd NIJE MALI” or “Belgrade is not small,” the name of the march also carried a direct message to Belgrade mayor and project supporter Sinisa Mali that “Belgrade is not Mali.”

Opposition to the waterfront project began with a small group called Ne Da(vi)mo Beograd, or Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own. It has since swelled to a mass movement denouncing government corruption and calling for the mayor’s resignation after a series of illegal demolitions were undertaken in late April to clear land along the Sava River for the new development.

Policing Isn’t Working for Cops Either

police tape

“It’s okay mommy…. It’s okay, I’m right here with you…”

Those were the words of four-year-old Dae’Anna, consoling her mother Lavish Reynolds after she witnessed the police shoot and kill her boyfriend Philando Castile.

Those words are now scarred into the psyche of America, much like words that came before it: “Hands up, don’t shoot.” “I can’t breath.” “It’s not real.”

If you haven’t realized that the system of policing isn’t working for the black community, you haven’t been paying attention. Just hours after the killing of Alton Sterling, a four-year-old child witnessed someone getting shot and bleeding out while she sat in the backseat. The system didn’t work for her, her mother or for Philando Castile. The system didn’t work for Alton Sterling, or for Mike Brown, or for Freddie Gray or for countless others.

Veterans Lead Fight Against Sexual Assault in the Military

By the Pentagon’s own estimate, some 20,300 sexual assaults involving the U.S. military took place in the last fiscal year. About one quarter, or 6,083, of those were reported; 543 cases came to court martial by the year’s end; in 413 of those cases, the accused was found guilty; and 331 of them were imprisoned. Do the math and you’ll find that about one in 60 of the estimated sexual attacks in the military last year resulted in j­ail time.

At a moment when it seems that everyone with thumbs and a keyboard has weighed in on the rape case at Stanford University, less attention is being paid to sexual aggression in the military, where it is more likely to occur and nearly inconceivable that a similar kind of viral shaming would follow. Civilian-military comparisons are approximate at best: Sexual assault statistics are notoriously unreliable and susceptible to confirmation bias, and the Pentagon’s count includes attacks on family and other civilians, as well as on servicemembers. Still, it appears that while reporting and conviction rates are low for both, in recent years about four times as many sexual assaults have been reported in the military as in the general U.S. population.