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the struggle for climate justice is a struggle for racial justice

It Takes Roots - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:15am

by brandon king, CooP Jackson

yesterday while at the Eiffel Tower, i saw two Roma womyn hustling a homeless, handicap petition. i thought nothing of it and gave them some euros. as my comrade went to give this sister change, a self-proclaimed “vigilante” cursed the womyn, told them to scram, and ripped up their petition, telling us that what they’re doing was fake, a scam.

brandon king at the human chain action with over 10,000 people who defied the protest ban in order to stand up for peace and climate justice.

this is our fourth day in Paris, France and i have not even begun to catch my bearings. just yesterday i was pick-pocketed by other Africans for my iphone 6 and gloves, after visiting Alternatibas’ commons/convergence space along the outskirts of Paris. they are building an alternative to climate change and the energy crisis in concrete ways to lower emissions of greenhouse gases in all sectors. it was really cool to see their space and to hear about their work. for them to be at the scale they’re at with over 10,000 members, i find very impressive.

but yeah. i thought about those two incidents as i reflect on why we’re even here in the first place. to demand climate justice and to say no to the false solutions that the COP21 delegates are retorting.

even though i was super upset that my phone was stolen, i couldn’t help but think about the conditions that contribute to people’s decisions and what choices everyday people actually truly have. especially migrants.

i think about the COP, and these corporations and governments who make decisions that have global implications. these world “leaders” who have no regard for life, and actually have had the audacity to enslave mother nature, and in some cases, other humyn beings. this COP meeting is the 21st of it’s kind, and they still haven’t been able to come to an agreement, let alone put a break on carbon emissions. in fact, over the previous 20 COPs, carbon emissions from fossil fuels have risen 50%, as the nations of the world have put global trade and profits over life itself.

frontline communities prey on each other because we never actually see our true enemies. these corporations and world “leaders” manage an economy that’s based on a non-logic of perpetual growth even though there’s clear limitations on how much resources can actually be extracted.

the recent terrorist attacks in Paris coupled with the heightened repression that Arab, African and Muslim communities have experienced is a direct byproduct of these imperialist wars for control over fossil fuels. the capitalist system and the states that protect and enforce it, creates the conditions that make the oppressed and exploited turn against each other. my oppressed and exploited sisters and brothers, systemic survivors, were the people that swindled me and my comrade out of a couple of euros and stole my phone.

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Organizing our Whole Selves: Reflections on the 2015 Single Payer Strategy Conference

VWC - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 9:00am

Note: This article by VWC CoCo member Jonathan Kissam and Put People First! PA member Karim Sariahmed was originally published on the Healthcare is a Human Right Collaborative site.

Organizing our Whole Selves: Reflections on the 2015 Single Payer Strategy Conference

At the end of October, we traveled with four other people from the Healthcare Is a Human Right Collaborative to Chicago for the Single Payer Strategy Conference. The conference, hosted jointly by Healthcare NOW!, Labor Campaign for Single Payer and One Payer States, was an exciting gathering of organizers from all over the country, working to build a movement for universal, publicly financed healthcare.

Every year, America’s profit-driven healthcare system prevents millions of people from getting the care that they need, while generating fabulous profits for a small class of stockholders.  Transforming our healthcare system into one that recognizes and meets the human right to health for all people will require a mass social movement, one that can overcome opposition from the powerful private health insurance companies, other corporations and institutions which profit and benefit from the existing system, and their ideological allies in both major political parties who are committed to small government and the supremacy of the “free market.”

How can we build this movement? This year’s Single Payer Strategy Conference was structured around five framing questions that challenged everyone to think strategically about what it means to build a movement, how we build with other movements, how we organize around the Affordable Care Act and move beyond it, how we move toward victory in our states and nationally, and how we can concretely confront inequities along lines of race, class, gender, and immigration status. These are all critical questions, and questions we take deeply to heart in our Healthcare Is a Human Right campaigns.

To build a broad-based movement and connect strategically with other movements, we need to project a big-picture moral vision, we need to build relationships, and we need to organize whole people.

A moral vision, rooted in deeply held human values, can capture the imagination of millions of people, become a new “common sense,” and thereby change what is politically possible. Many people at the conference made a connection between the civil rights movement and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. Though the civil rights movement did not specifically demand Medicare and Medicaid, it established a moral authority that shifted the entire political landscape, opening up new political possibilities. Within this space, people rose up in motion around all kinds of issues, organizing against the war, for women’s rights, for environmental protection, for LGBTQ liberation, for the rights of people with disabilities, and for the rights of indigenous peoples. That is what we need to recreate.

We also need to build relationships across movements. We need to use our moral vision to connect our fight for health care with fights for Black lives, a living wage, immigration reform, trans liberation, and public school funding, but we can’t simply provide transactional support for one another’s campaigns. We have to build trust and develop real relationships with each other across movements, and we also have to be really intentional about making sure that our campaigns and organizations are truly diverse and inclusive and elevate the leadership of people of color, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, poor and working class folks, people with disabilities, and people of all ages. We do this through our base building, our leadership development, our political education, and all other areas of our campaigns. The hard work of engaging in this way is not a distraction: it is central to the work of movements, and is the only way to win a health care system that serves all people equitably and protects the most vulnerable.

When we organize, we also need to organize whole people, allowing and encouraging one another to bring our whole selves into the movement. Only by creating space for us to transform ourselves can our movements stimulate the broader transformation of institutions and social relations that is needed to win universal, publicly financed healthcare. Successful movements tap into our shared humanity and guide us together in common cause. The work that helps us be together is both the means and the end. When we are meaningfully united across difference, we win.

Our workshop on the Healthcare Is a Human Right model at the conference modeled our commitment to a moral vision, building relationships that challenge and nurture us, supporting each other’s leadership, and organizing whole people. We collaboratively planned and facilitated the workshop, brought our whole selves into the room through stories and poetry, and enabled everyone in the room to actively engage and contribute through storytelling in pairs and through small group discussions.

We win, as the conference organizers say, when we build a movement. By bringing people together to build relationships and dig into critical strategy questions, the Single Payer Strategy Conference serves a hugely important role in this process. Let’s keep building a moral case for transforming the healthcare system, keep building relationships with each other and with people in other movements, keep elevating the leadership of people who are most impacted by injustices, and keep bringing our whole selves into this fight.

Jonathan Kissam is a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center and Karim Sariahmed is a member of Put People First! Pennsylvania. They tweet at @domesticleft and @sariahmed.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Organizing our Whole Selves: Reflections on the 2015 Single Payer Strategy Conference

VWC - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 9:00am

Note: This article by VWC CoCo member Jonathan Kissam and Put People First! PA member Karim Sariahmed was originally published on the Healthcare is a Human Right Collaborative site.

Organizing our Whole Selves: Reflections on the 2015 Single Payer Strategy Conference

At the end of October, we traveled with four other people from the Healthcare Is a Human Right Collaborative to Chicago for the Single Payer Strategy Conference. The conference, hosted jointly by Healthcare NOW!, Labor Campaign for Single Payer and One Payer States, was an exciting gathering of organizers from all over the country, working to build a movement for universal, publicly financed healthcare.

Every year, America’s profit-driven healthcare system prevents millions of people from getting the care that they need, while generating fabulous profits for a small class of stockholders.  Transforming our healthcare system into one that recognizes and meets the human right to health for all people will require a mass social movement, one that can overcome opposition from the powerful private health insurance companies, other corporations and institutions which profit and benefit from the existing system, and their ideological allies in both major political parties who are committed to small government and the supremacy of the “free market.”

How can we build this movement? This year’s Single Payer Strategy Conference was structured around five framing questions that challenged everyone to think strategically about what it means to build a movement, how we build with other movements, how we organize around the Affordable Care Act and move beyond it, how we move toward victory in our states and nationally, and how we can concretely confront inequities along lines of race, class, gender, and immigration status. These are all critical questions, and questions we take deeply to heart in our Healthcare Is a Human Right campaigns.

To build a broad-based movement and connect strategically with other movements, we need to project a big-picture moral vision, we need to build relationships, and we need to organize whole people.

A moral vision, rooted in deeply held human values, can capture the imagination of millions of people, become a new “common sense,” and thereby change what is politically possible. Many people at the conference made a connection between the civil rights movement and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. Though the civil rights movement did not specifically demand Medicare and Medicaid, it established a moral authority that shifted the entire political landscape, opening up new political possibilities. Within this space, people rose up in motion around all kinds of issues, organizing against the war, for women’s rights, for environmental protection, for LGBTQ liberation, for the rights of people with disabilities, and for the rights of indigenous peoples. That is what we need to recreate.

We also need to build relationships across movements. We need to use our moral vision to connect our fight for health care with fights for Black lives, a living wage, immigration reform, trans liberation, and public school funding, but we can’t simply provide transactional support for one another’s campaigns. We have to build trust and develop real relationships with each other across movements, and we also have to be really intentional about making sure that our campaigns and organizations are truly diverse and inclusive and elevate the leadership of people of color, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, poor and working class folks, people with disabilities, and people of all ages. We do this through our base building, our leadership development, our political education, and all other areas of our campaigns. The hard work of engaging in this way is not a distraction: it is central to the work of movements, and is the only way to win a health care system that serves all people equitably and protects the most vulnerable.

When we organize, we also need to organize whole people, allowing and encouraging one another to bring our whole selves into the movement. Only by creating space for us to transform ourselves can our movements stimulate the broader transformation of institutions and social relations that is needed to win universal, publicly financed healthcare. Successful movements tap into our shared humanity and guide us together in common cause. The work that helps us be together is both the means and the end. When we are meaningfully united across difference, we win.

Our workshop on the Healthcare Is a Human Right model at the conference modeled our commitment to a moral vision, building relationships that challenge and nurture us, supporting each other’s leadership, and organizing whole people. We collaboratively planned and facilitated the workshop, brought our whole selves into the room through stories and poetry, and enabled everyone in the room to actively engage and contribute through storytelling in pairs and through small group discussions.

We win, as the conference organizers say, when we build a movement. By bringing people together to build relationships and dig into critical strategy questions, the Single Payer Strategy Conference serves a hugely important role in this process. Let’s keep building a moral case for transforming the healthcare system, keep building relationships with each other and with people in other movements, keep elevating the leadership of people who are most impacted by injustices, and keep bringing our whole selves into this fight.

Jonathan Kissam is a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center and Karim Sariahmed is a member of Put People First! Pennsylvania. They tweet at @domesticleft and @sariahmed.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Defying the ‘Shock Doctrine’ in Paris as Thousands March Despite Protest Ban: CommonDreams Quotes Cindy Wiesner

It Takes Roots - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 6:31am

CommonDreams‘ update on Sunday, Nov.29th actions in Paris before the COP21 kickoff quotes It Takes Roots delegate Cindy Wiesner from the press advisory on how the demonstrators on Sunday “…stood in defiance …to defend democracy, reclaim the streets, and stand in solidarity with people living alongside fracking wells, REDD projects, and nuclear facilities—all rejecting these false solutions that COP21 is intending to advance.” Read the full article 

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Paris Climate Accord is a Crime Against Vulnerable Communities

It Takes Roots - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 3:45am

MEDIA ADVISORY
November 30, 2015

Carbon markets and offsets are the trojan horse that the fossil fuel industry is pushing through the Paris climate agreement

A broad alliance of leaders from communities on the frontline of the climate crisis have traveled to Paris to speak out against the proposed global climate agreement, saying that it falls far short of what is needed to avoid global catastrophe.

With more than 100 delegates from dozens of climate impacted communities across the US and Canada, the It Takes Roots delegation is calling on world leaders to come out of Paris with an agreement based on real solutions.

“Climate catastrophes are a reality right now. But the COP21 is not based on that reality, only on what is politically expedient. The agreement is based on a carbon market that allows developed countries to continue to emit dangerously high levels of greenhouse gasses through shell games, imaginary technofixes, and trading schemes that result in land grabs and human rights violations,” said Alberto Salamando, a human rights expert with the Indigenous Environmental Network.

“The UNFCCC process has been hijacked by the fossil fuel industry, which is seeking to expand pollution markets and privatize and sell everything from our air to the algae in our water. From cap and trade in California, to the carbon trading requirements of the Clean Power Plan, the US is aligning other member states around false solutions instead of holding steadfast to renewable energy and other genuine sustainable solutions,” said Kali Akuno from Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi.

“Our delegation is more than 25 years in the making. From the People of Color Environmental Justice Summit, through the Kyoto Accords, and the entire COP process, we have been the voice of urgency and clarity at every turn, because protecting our communities, our families and the planet has been our only true interest. We know, just as these negotiators do, that real reductions require a fundamental shift from the extractive economy and stopping climate pollution at the source,” said Jose Bravo of the Just Transition Alliance.

“Members of our delegation include a young person from Alaska whose community will be evacuated in the next ten years because of sea level rise. They are mothers and children living alongside fracking wells, coal mines, and oil refineries. We don’t have the luxury of pretending that pollution trading works when we know that it is a hoax. The climate movement as a whole is growing in alignment that our survival requires the kind of leadership and strategies that come from the grassroots.” said Cindy Wiesner, National Coordinator of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance.

“We see through this latest attempt by world leaders to escape responsibility. If the Obama administration is serious about climate change they also have to be serious about the changes they are willing to make. Those changes will not be easy, but going the easy way and conceding to fossil fuel interests is what got us to this crisis in the first place. Coming into an international negotiation looking to avoid negotiations and responsibility is not ok. It’s time to change and stand with the people, not the polluters.” said Kandi Mosset from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Media Contacts:

Dallas Goldtooth, goldtoothdallas@gmail.com;
Contact No:  +1708-515-6158 (US); +33 751 413 823 (Paris, France)

Preeti Shekar, preetishekar@gmail.com
Contact No: +33 751 401 911 (Paris, France)

For more information:
www.ittakesroots.org?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss
Follow us:

@ienearth
@ggjalliance
@cjaourpower

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10,000 people in Paris and over 600,000 Worldwide Take to the Streets for Peace and Climate Justice

It Takes Roots - Sun, 11/29/2015 - 8:27pm

By Cindy Wiesner, It Takes Roots Delegate and National Co-ordinator, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

On Sun, November 29th, a day before COP21 is set to kickstart in Paris with world leaders attending the opening week, more than 10,000 people took to the streets of Paris,  participating in a creative action called a “human chain.” The chain stretched the length of the intended march route in a powerful display of the voices of popular movements who have been shut out of the COP process through the protest ban. Later in the afternoon, hundreds of protesters took to the streets and over 280 people were arrested and faced police violence. Worldwide, more than 600, 000 people in 175 countries took to the streets, demanding real responses to climate change.

“Members from the It Takes Roots delegation stood in defiance today to defend democracy, reclaim the streets, and stand in solidarity with people living alongside fracking wells, REDD projects, and nuclear facilities – all rejecting these false solutions that COP21 is intending to advance,” noted Cindy Wiesner, with Grassroots Global Justice Alliance.

The It Takes Roots Delegation participated in the Frontlines and Indigenous peoples sections of the Human Chain devoted to representing communities directly impacted by the climate crisis at Sunday’s action co-organized by Alternatiba, Attac, 350, Friends of the Earth and many other members of the Climate Coalition 21.  Our powerful messages and demands were reflected through our colorful banners, signs, lively chants and feisty music marked the one hour human chain that spread for nearly two miles across the streets of Paris.

“Now it is more critical than ever to take to the streets to denounce the bad climate deal. COP21 will be the worst of all COPs because it will see the planet burn. We cannot accept that,” said Pablo Solon, former Climate Chief Negotiator from Bolivia and Climate Space Ally.

Grassroots activists from the global north and south are converging in Paris these next two weeks, outside of Le Bourget, where the official COP21 takes place, to demand that governments listen to people, and not the polluters. The It Takes Roots Delegation represents the global south within the global north, and also stands in strong solidarity with groups across the global south who are determined to have their voices heard as COP21 begins to unfold this week. This delegation will be an active participant and organizer of civil society led activities, workshops/panels at People’s Climate Summit,  and other creative ways to hold governments accountable to their people, not corporate powers.

Follow us at ItTakesRoots.org and #ItTakesRoots and Indigenousrising.org

Some photos from Sunday’s action below. More on our photos page.

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<p>It Takes Roots Delegates On Uprising

It Takes Roots - Sun, 11/29/2015 - 4:29pm

It Takes Roots Delegates On Uprising Radio with Producer Sonali Kolhatker, November 20, 2015

GUESTS: Diana Lopez is an organizer with the Southwest Workers Union for worker rights, environmental justice and community empowerment in San Antonio, Texas and has attended several UN climate conferences;

Shawna Foster, veteran of the US National Guard where she served as a Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapons Specialist. She is currently the Board chair of Iraq Veterans Against The War. Both Akuno and Foster are members of the It Takes Roots delegation to COP21.

The French government has canceled two major climate justice marches that were organized around the upcoming Conference of Parties talks in Paris (COP21) in late November, early December. The recent ISIS attacks in Paris that resulted in 129 dead, were impetus for the announcement. Tens of thousands of activists from around the world are expected to converge between November 30th and December 13th outside the international climate conference to demand that country representatives hash out a strong agreement to curb global warming and to fund adaption efforts by developing nations.

Activist groups in the United States representing people of color, and poor and working class communities, have planned a significant presence at COP21. Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Climate Justice Alliance and the Indigenous Environmental Network are leading a delegation of over 75 activists called It Takes Roots.

For more information, South West Workers Union and Iraq Veterans Against The War.

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Ecologist Highlights It Takes Roots Delegation: No War, No Warming: Build an Economy for People and Planet’

It Takes Roots - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 5:55am

In a feature update leading up to the COP21, The Ecologist highlights how climate change focused groups and organizations around the world are continuing to mobilize and organize in Paris, and spotlight It Takes Roots delegation’s strong message on: No War, No Warming – Build an Economy for People and Planet.’ Read the full article

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Yes! Magazine Profiles ITR Delegate Sarra Tekola: Meet 5 Everyday People Heading to the Paris Climate Talks

It Takes Roots - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 8:00pm

Yes! Magazine profiled It Takes Roots Delegate and precocious youth organizer Sarra Tekola in an article titled Meet 5 Everyday People Heading to Paris for the Climate Talks. Read the article

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Newsweek Features ITR Delegate Kandi Mossett: From North Dakota With Love

It Takes Roots - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 7:29pm

Noted environmental journalist Antonia Juhasz features It Takes Roots delegate and theIndigenous Environmental Network’s native energy and climate campaign organizer, Kandi Mossett in a Newsweek article on COP21, ahead of the Paris conference. Read the article

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EcoWatch: Paris and Beyond: Climate Movement Won’t Be Silenced at COP21

It Takes Roots - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 6:28pm

EcoWatch highlights It Takes Roots‘ Statement affirming our delegation’s participation at COP21 and in civil society formations after the terrifying Nov.13th Paris attacks. Read the article.

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Pam Lau Tee, ITR Delegate in Earth Island Journal: “No state of emergency will keep the people from building and strengthening the work for climate justice”

It Takes Roots - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 8:08pm

The Earth Island Journal spoke to It Takes Roots delegate and veteran organizer and peace activist Pam Tau Lee, on grassroots activists’ plans to mobilize for COP21.”Time and time again, it is has been proven that people and not governments make the peace,” says Pam. Read the article

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Maine-Based ITR Delegate Meaghan Sala on NPR!

It Takes Roots - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 6:17pm

Tune in online to Maine’s NPR station where ITR Delegate Meaghan Sala shares her story and why she is joining the It Takes Roots delegation in Paris. Listen to the Archive Link

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MEDIA ADVISORY: It Takes Roots Statement on the Protest Ban in Paris

It Takes Roots - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 1:29pm

MEDIA ADVISORY
November 23, 2015

No War, No Warming – Build an Economy for People and Planet

Despite the ban on Protest in Paris, we will be there to raise our voices against war, racism and pollution profiteering. We stand in solidarity with the countless victims of recent violence in Paris, Beirut, and Mali, as well as their families and loved ones.

The It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm delegation of over 100 frontline leaders from climate impacted communities across the US and Canada, including the Arctic, united under the slogan: No War, No Warming – Build an Economy for People and Planet. We stand against the criminalization of the defenders of Mother Earth and the illegitimate criminalization of protest, in particular during the COP21. Civil society, popular movements, indigenous movements and society in general have the right to raise their voices in dissent, especially when our futures are being negotiated. The voices of Indigenous peoples, youth, women and frontline communities need to provide guidance in these negotiations, now more than ever.

Climate justice seeks to address much more than greenhouse gas emissions, but the root systemic causes of climate change itself. Climate justice is about social and economic justice, and how democratic, peaceful and equitable solutions, not military violence, best serve the interests of humanity. The fossil fuel economy is a driver of this multi-faceted crises facing the world: causing resource wars; polluting our air, water and land; creating illness and death to people and of ecosystems; privatization of nature; economically exploiting Indigenous communities, communities of color and the working poor; forcing mass migrations; and, depriving millions of adequate food, access to water, housing, healthcare and healthy and safe employment.

As part of a global climate justice movement, we oppose the bombing of Syria. Over many decades we have witnessed that Western militarism has only increased the instability of the Middle East and other regions. This militarism abroad has also escalated the military complex at home in the United States, where communities resisting the industries causing climate change, have been heavily policed and targeted by police violence.

Our delegation is made up of grassroots leaders from Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian and working class white communities. We know first-hand the violence and repression of state racism that exploits tragic moments like this. We reject rising Islamophobia and racism across Europe and North America, as well as the scapegoating of migrants and refugees. The global community has a human rights responsibility to refugees fleeing violence and fleeing for their lives. The roots of the Syrian crisis are linked to climate change, and those seeking refuge because of drought, repeated bombing, and the lack of humanitarian support from world governments.

We are in solidarity with undocumented peoples, migrants and people of color facing repression, raids, and police brutality in France and Europe. We know that people of color face extreme violence within and because of colonial States. We support our comrades in this time as we know they face even more racism, attacks and nation-State violence. We call for continued support for these communities and their organizing efforts. Understanding that our struggles are inextricably linked through globalization, militarization, and neo-liberalism, stemming from a long history of colonialism.

Taking action on climate is a essential to global stability and peace. Peace also includes the need to have peace with Mother Earth. Our movements are aligned across issues of migration, climate, human rights and rights of Indigenous peoples, Earth jurisprudence, jobs and housing. We are calling on world leaders, and President Obama in particular, to move toward inclusion over exclusion, renewable clean energy over pollution profiteering, cutting emissions at source over carbon trading and offset regimes, and peace over militarism.

We are inspired by the tenacity and humanity of people around the world, and we will continue to mobilize for Paris and to use our love, creativity and solidarity to make our presence known and felt. The protection of Mother Earth, as we know her, and our collective survival is at stake.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Media Contacts: Jaron Browne 415-377-2822, jaron@ggjalliance.org
Dallas Goldtooth 708-515-6158, goldtoothdallas@gmail.com
Preeti Shekar 510-219-4193, preetishekar@gmail.com

Follow us at: ittakesroots.org
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, @ggjalliance
Indigenous Environmental Network, @ienearth
Climate Justice Alliance, @cjaOurPower

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ITR Delegate Rossmery Zayas on Pacifica Radio’s La Onda Bajita Show

It Takes Roots - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 6:08pm

Listen to It Takes Roots Delegate Rossmery Zayas share her reflections and perspectives on San Francisco-Bay Area based KPFA 94.1 FM radio’s La Onda Bajita show. Listen to the archive show (scroll to 20 mins into the segment)

 

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Connecticut Unionists Visit Palestine To See Sources of Conflict, Build Solidarity

UE - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 4:37pm
20 November, 2015General Secretary Shaher Sa'ed of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions receives a copy of UE's convention resolution on Palestine and Israel from Carol Lambiaseby Carol Lambiase, retired UE International Representative

In September I was part of a delegation of Connecticut union leaders to Palestine, at the invitation of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). Our group included State AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Olsen; State Building Trades President David Roche; Bill Shortell, political director for the International Association of Machinists Eastern States Conference; John Fussell, union attorney and former 1199 vice president; Steelworkers Union activist Anne Marie Miller; and others from the Tree of Life Educational Foundation.  

A highlight of the trip was our meeting with the top leaders of the PGFTU, where I was able to hand deliver the UE convention resolution, “Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel” to General Secretary Shaher Sa'ed.  We learned how Palestinian workers who have jobs in Israel have to spend three hours each way at the border crossings even though they have work permits.  The passage is surrounded by barbed wire and cages and can include x-raying and disrobing.  They work in Israel where the only jobs for which they are hired are the lowest paid, dirtiest and riskiest. There is no "equal pay for equal work."

We traveled through the West Bank and saw the Israeli settlements, all of which are in violation of the international law. The Geneva Conventions prohibit a country that is militarily occupying foreign territory to settle its own population there, but that’s exactly what Israel has been doing since 1967, and there are now 600,000 Israeli settlers, with settlements growing larger all the time. We saw the "bypass" roads that are new and modern, but which Palestinians are forbidden to use – they are only for the use of Israel citizens.  We saw Israeli military checkpoints, some at permanent locations, and some randomly stopping cars. 

We were given a tour by a former Israeli soldier who is a member of Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli ex-soldiers who speak out against the unjust government policies they were ordered to carry out. He told us about his orders to maintain the conflict by searching homes at 2:00 a.m., interrogating residents not suspected of any wrongdoing, and "keeping the roads sterile".  He was told by his superiors, "We want Palestinians to feel that they are being chased."  We saw the water tanks on the tops of many Palestinian houses. The reason they are there is Israel controls the water supply, and much of the time people have running water only for a few hours once every two weeks, so when they can get water they store it for the times when its shut off. For Israeli settlers, the water runs all the time. 

We also visited the State of Israel itself, where we met with Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and learned of the systemic discrimination against Palestinians who live in Israel and are citizens, both Muslims and Christians.  Although Arabs make up 20 percent of the Israeli population, funding for the education of each Arab child is one-third of what is spent on a Jewish student. Israel is cutting the funding for Christian schools.  A few Arab villages that Israel destroyed managed to relocate, but are under threat of destruction again. 

We were reminded of the former apartheid regime in South Africa, and we were reminded of the time when European colonizers came to North America and drove out the native peoples and took over their land.  When I asked a PGFTU leader what it would be helpful for us to do when we returned to the U.S., he said, "Just tell the truth about what you saw." 

The rest of the world has made many efforts to pass resolutions at the UN which address the Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements, but each time the U.S. vetoes them.  On this trip, we heard and saw the other side of the story that is never reported in the mainstream U.S. media.  I recommend that anyone who wants to understand the truth about Palestine contact the Tree of Life Educational Foundation and sign up for a tour.

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

First Ever Indigenous Women’s Treaty Signed of “North and South”

It Takes Roots - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 3:01pm

September 27, 2015 (New York City, NY) Today marked a historic milestone in the movement for environmental justice and indigenous rights. Indigenous women leaders of the North and South Americas signed a first ever treaty agreement declaring solidarity in the movement to protect Mother Earth from extractive industries.

Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca) and Pennie Opal Plan (Idle No More Bay Area), who serve as representatives on the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Delegation for the COP 21 United Nations Summit in Paris, met with Kichwa leaders, Patricia Gualinga and President of the Association of Sapara Women, Gloria Ushigua, who serve as representatives of the Amazon Watch Delegation.

Statement from Casey Camp-Horinek, of the Ponca Nation regarding the Indigenous Women of the North and South – Defend Mother Earth Treaty Compact 2015:

“We acknowledge this moment on Mother Earth for the 4th Red Moon of this year is eclipsing and offering us this chance to renew and defend the rights of Mother Earth as Indigenous Women. We gathered on this sacred day in ceremony to honor the ancestors who brought us to this point where we could stand strong in unified love of our Mother the Earth, our Father the Sky and the undying duty to protect the air, water, earth and all of our relatives for the future generations. We give thanks for the guidance and the support that made this day the sacred day that it has become at this historic Treaty between the Indigenous Women of the North and South. We invite and implore the prayers and the spreading of the word to rise up and join this movement that has begun in the times before us and moves into this wave of awareness across the face of our Mother.”

The post First Ever Indigenous Women’s Treaty Signed of “North and South” appeared first on It Takes Roots.

IVAW Statement on Recent Attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq, & Nigeria

It Takes Roots - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 1:40pm

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the victims and families who have suffered from the acts of brutality committed in Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Zabul and now multiple cities in Nigeria over the last number of days.

We condemn these terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq and Nigeria. We mourn with the victims and send our deepest condolences to their families. No one’s life should end in this way; no family should suffer the anguish and loss that these people are suffering.

For these attacks to stop, we must address their root causes and take responsibility for U.S. participation in the destabilization of countries that span the Middle East, North and Western Africa, and South and Central Asia. The deliberate destabilization of once functional states in the region, and the current bombardment of Yemen by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, has created the perfect environment for groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to grow and thrive. We must see the rise of terrorism and the attacks in Paris for what they are, blowback for western intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.

We, as current and former military members, understand that who the U.S. military kills is never certain and differentiating combatants from civilians is not a priority. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed and thousands of others are being stalked and killed by drones in at least seven countries, creating an environment filled with constant terror. Russia joining the bombardment of Syria and Iraq, the recent announcement of more troops to be deployed around the globe, and the extension of troop withdrawal in Afghanistan will only exacerbate an increasingly volatile situation until the “all out war” that France’s President Hollande called for is upon us. The end result of all of this can only be destruction, terror and lost lives, not only from predominately Muslim countries, but everywhere terror and war will inevitably reach.

We know from experience that declaring war on terrorism is a futile gesture that engages the world in a downward spiral of destruction. A full land war in Syria plays into the goals of terrorist groups and will undoubtedly destroy more innocent lives. Meanwhile, western countries will be no safer than before, in fact, increased blowback resulting from these actions will remain an ever present threat for years to come. An escalation of warfare will also violate civil liberties by establishing a securitization regime in France as an extension of the already existing “security measures” in the U.S., England and elsewhere

We call on the US and its NATO allies to:

  1. Exercise restraint and exhaust all avenues of diplomacy;
  2. Take full responsibility and hold themselves accountable for the illegality of the Iraq war and the continuance of the Afghanistan war, their colonial exploits, and their extra military actions which gave rise to the instability of various regions as we see today;
  3. De-escalate from the perpetual violence, and reduce militarization both at home and abroad; and
  4. Accept responsibility for the resettlement of all refugees, who are victimized by the so-called “War on Terror,” and resist scapegoating those with the least power in this tragic string of events.

Repeating the disastrous choices made by our nation after September 11th will result in nothing short of squandering the future of millions. This cycle of violence and exploitation has to end now.

The post IVAW Statement on Recent Attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq, & Nigeria appeared first on It Takes Roots.

VWC statement from Syrian refugee solidarity press conference

VWC - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 12:27pm

On Thursday evening, VWC member Meg Cline read the following statement at a press conference in Burlington expressing solidarity with Syrian refugees. Meg is a parent organizing to reinstate staff and services at the VNA Family Room in the Old North End (Click here for more info). Other members of the Vermont Workers' Center are rallying on Friday and Saturday at the Vermont statehouse (at 11:30am) to oppose xenophobic anti-refugee demonstrations and to uphold the human rights of all migrants and refugees.

Thursday's statement reads:

We’re all here to express our deeply felt solidarity with refugees and migrants from Syria and the Middle East, who are fleeing unimaginable hardships and violence and looking for safety for their families. And it’s not just folks from Syria who are looking for a safe place to raise their families and live lives with dignity. We need to open our arms and do what we can do to ensure the rights of New Americans and migrant workers here in Vermont, and lead the way for the rest of the country.

Many of us who were born here are also struggling to get by. Regardless of race or ethnicity, thousands of folks in Vermont are struggling with rent, healthcare and student debt, car loans, and low-wage jobs without respect. And the few programs we rely on, like Reach Up or the VNA Family Room, are being cut by decision-makers who are often insulated from the impacts of their decisions. With all of the talk about inequality, we know that the money’s there → it’s just that wealthy folks aren’t paying their fair share towards public services and well-paying jobs.

People from Syria are fleeing violence -- and we’re right to welcome them to our community. But we need to ask ourselves what type of community are we welcoming them into? Many folks in our communities are struggling to make ends meet, or don’t feel welcome here in the first place. Let’s change that.

In the Old North End, that’s exactly what we’re doing. In the face of budget cuts and layoffs, parents and staff from the VNA family room, many of whom are refugees themselves, are organizing to protect and expand the Family Room’s programs that are so critical for children and families in our community. The Family Room has been a key place in Burlington where mothers, fathers, and kids can come together and build bridges across race, class, and ethnicity, and where people who have come through the refugee resettlement program can get connected with key resources. In addition to welcoming refugees from Syria, we need to be holding decision-makers accountable to protecting and expanding programs like the Family Room, not cutting them at a time when they’re needed most.

With all of the conflicts going on, we know this isn’t going to be the last time that we’re called upon to welcome refugees with open arms. It’s in these moments that we set the tone for the future. Will we build walls and retreat from one another? Or will we all pitch in together, and build lifeboats to get us through the tough times? I’m happy to be out here today with all of you, building that culture of solidarity.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

VWC statement from Syrian refugee solidarity press conference

VWC - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 12:27pm

On Thursday evening, VWC member Meg Cline read the following statement at a press conference in Burlington expressing solidarity with Syrian refugees. Meg is a parent organizing to reinstate staff and services at the VNA Family Room in the Old North End (Click here for more info). Other members of the Vermont Workers' Center are rallying on Friday and Saturday at the Vermont statehouse (at 11:30am) to oppose xenophobic anti-refugee demonstrations and to uphold the human rights of all migrants and refugees.

Thursday's statement reads:

We’re all here to express our deeply felt solidarity with refugees and migrants from Syria and the Middle East, who are fleeing unimaginable hardships and violence and looking for safety for their families. And it’s not just folks from Syria who are looking for a safe place to raise their families and live lives with dignity. We need to open our arms and do what we can do to ensure the rights of New Americans and migrant workers here in Vermont, and lead the way for the rest of the country.

Many of us who were born here are also struggling to get by. Regardless of race or ethnicity, thousands of folks in Vermont are struggling with rent, healthcare and student debt, car loans, and low-wage jobs without respect. And the few programs we rely on, like Reach Up or the VNA Family Room, are being cut by decision-makers who are often insulated from the impacts of their decisions. With all of the talk about inequality, we know that the money’s there → it’s just that wealthy folks aren’t paying their fair share towards public services and well-paying jobs.

People from Syria are fleeing violence -- and we’re right to welcome them to our community. But we need to ask ourselves what type of community are we welcoming them into? Many folks in our communities are struggling to make ends meet, or don’t feel welcome here in the first place. Let’s change that.

In the Old North End, that’s exactly what we’re doing. In the face of budget cuts and layoffs, parents and staff from the VNA family room, many of whom are refugees themselves, are organizing to protect and expand the Family Room’s programs that are so critical for children and families in our community. The Family Room has been a key place in Burlington where mothers, fathers, and kids can come together and build bridges across race, class, and ethnicity, and where people who have come through the refugee resettlement program can get connected with key resources. In addition to welcoming refugees from Syria, we need to be holding decision-makers accountable to protecting and expanding programs like the Family Room, not cutting them at a time when they’re needed most.

With all of the conflicts going on, we know this isn’t going to be the last time that we’re called upon to welcome refugees with open arms. It’s in these moments that we set the tone for the future. Will we build walls and retreat from one another? Or will we all pitch in together, and build lifeboats to get us through the tough times? I’m happy to be out here today with all of you, building that culture of solidarity.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

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