Global Divestment Day Sees Worldwide Action Against Fossil Fuels

Close to 300 activists rallied in Washington DC’s DuPont Circle last night as part of a Global Divestment Day action against the fossil fuel industry. Activists from colleges and local environmentalist organizations across the DC metro area were present.

The activists brought a giant carbon bubble, and held signs stating that climate change is a moral issue. Local universities, businesses, and churches were encouraged to divest from dirty energy companies. One speaker made the argument that if divestment worked against apartheid South Africa, it can work against the companies causing climate change, polluting our water, and slowly making our air unbreathable.

400 actions took place across the world yesterday. Students organized flash mobs and sit-ins in France, Nepal, Japan, Britain, the US, Ukraine, and the Philippines. There were also rallies in Sydney, Australia, Edinburgh, Scotland, and London, England. Australians are being encouraged to remove their money from banks that finance coal mining.

Over 180 institutions have already pledged to divest from companies that push dirty energy.

This comes on the heels of state legislatures, like the one in Virginia, passing legislation that would lessen the state’s oversight over rates charged by utility companies. Utility companies such as Dominion Power, which naturally stand behind their dangerous products, now have an opportunity to charge poor and working-class people more for their not-so-green services.

In the short-term, it is important to push for green alternatives to delay the end of humanity, but in the long-run the environment and the well-being of humanity will always be threatened by capitalism. Capitalism requires expansion, and the expansion of industries will increase the emissions of pollutants even if these industries pollute less. Consumption of environmentally-friendly products will only delay the destruction of the Earth because the astronomical rate of consumption by first world countries is what lead us to environmental catastrophe in the first place. The chaos of capitalism and consumerism must go, and in its place we must establish a society based on cooperation and community.

The international solidarity of Global Divestment Day is great, but we need to take it to the next level and bring business-as-usual in all industries and localities to a screeching halt. We need to further integrate the struggle to stop the destruction of the environment with the struggles against the exploitation of workers, struggles against poverty, and the anti-war movement.    

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28 Percent of Irish Population Lives in Poverty

Famine memorial in Dublin

Ireland’s Central Statistics Office recently released a report stating that 28 percent of the Irish population, or 1.4 million people, are living in extreme poverty described as “enforced deprivation.”

Enforced deprivation is a term used to describe a state of poverty in which a person lacks two or more basic necessities for a comfortable life, such as heating and adequate food. Since 2008, the amount of people living in consistent poverty in Ireland has increased by 100 percent.

The CSO’s report analyzed the income and living conditions of Irish citizens throughout 2013. It found that the amount of people living in enforced deprivation more than doubled between 2008 and 2013.

440,000 people suffering through enforced deprivation are children, and 90,000 are elderly. The average Irish person’s income decreased by 2 percent from 2012 to 2013.

The economic destruction of Ireland, brought on by the many heads of the capitalist beast (the IMF, EU, austerity, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the Great Recession), has caused the highest levels of emigration from Ireland since the Great Famine of the 19th Century.

“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.” – James Connolly

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Virginia Delegate Introduces Gay Segregation Bill

Delegate Bob Marshall of the Virginia General Assembly, along with Delegates LaRock and Berg, has recently introduced legislation that would legalize discrimination against LGBT people in both the private and public sector. The wording of House Bill 1414 is so vague that if someone so much as assumes that you aren’t heterosexual, they can discriminate against you.

While most bills that aim to legalize discrimination against LGBT people do so within the realm of marriage or the marriage industry (such as wedding cakes, flowers, etc), this bill knows no boundaries. This bill attaches a “conscience clause” to any “license, registration, or certificate” issued by the state of Virginia that would allow people to refuse to “perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action” that would “violate the religious or moral conviction of such person with respect to same-sex ‘marriage’ or homosexual behavior.” HB 1414 applies to both the public and private sectors because all entities need some sort of “license, registration, or certificate” to operate in Virginia.

For example, if a social worker has a problem with gay people, and a gay homeless person comes along looking for help finding housing, the social worker can claim that helping this person violates their “religious or moral conviction” regarding “homosexual behavior.”

In other words, if you are gay, or simply appear gay to some bigot, you can be denied service. Teachers can remove LGBT students from their classrooms, doctors can refuse to help patients based on their sexuality, the DMV workers can turn you away, the bartender can refuse to serve you, and more. If you can imagine it, it can be refused to you if you aren’t straight.

Bob Marshall has gained notoriety in the past for unsuccessfully attempting to ban LGBT people from joining the Virginia National Guard. Marshall sponsored legislation banning same-sex marriage in Virginia in 2006, but this was struck down by federal courts last year. He also attempted to block the appointment of a state judge because he was gay.

Make no mistake, this about neither religion nor morals. It’s about a wealthy class of people attempting to keep entire swathes of the population (in this case, LGBT people) poor, desperate, and outcast so that they can be exploited for extremely cheap labor later on. It’s about controlling the biggest class, the working-class, by dividing us and making us fight each other over “religion” and sexuality so we don’t notice or blame the rich while they dismantle the last of our social safety nets and other things that protect working people.

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Majority of US School Kids Live in Poverty

What recovery?

What recovery?

A report by the Southern Education Foundation has revealed that 51 percent of American public school students are living in poverty. This is the first time on record that this many children have been in poverty.

The organization based its conclusions on the amount of kids who qualify for free or reduced price school meals.

There has been a steady increase in child poverty since 1989 when 32 percent of students qualified for free or reduced price school meals. Despite the liberal talking point that the 90s (the Clinton years) were a time of economic prosperity, the number of kids living in poverty increased to 38 percent by 2000.

Mississippi, New Mexico, and Louisiana have the highest concentrations of poor students.

Two months ago it was revealed that 2.5 million, or one out of 30, American children were homeless. That means at least one kid in every classroom in America is homeless. Childhood homelessness increased by eight percent from 2012 to 2013. 31 states and Washington DC saw an increase in homeless kids.

All of this comes despite the lies of the wealthy class that the economy has recovered.

The wealthy benefit from keeping large numbers of people poor and desperate because they will be willing to work for lower wages, and there will be more of these cheap workers to replace the currently employed should they demand better pay, hours, or benefits. We have the resources to make sure every American has a roof over their head, food to eat, and meaningful work. The only thing that stands in our way is capitalism.

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Rikers Guards Found to Have Gang Connections

A report released by New York City’s Department of Investigation has revealed that the Department of Corrections hired people with gang connections, among other things, as corrections officers (guards) at Rikers Island.

More than one-third of the guards were found to have criminal histories, mental issues, and other problems that should have prevented them from getting the job according to state standards.

“DOI’s latest investigation on Rikers Island exposes a shockingly inadequate screening system, which had led to the hiring of many officers that are under-qualified and unfit for duty,DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in a statement.Applicants with a history of violence or gang affiliations should not be patrolling our jails.

The deputy commissioner in charge of the hiring practices at Rikers could not even explain to the investigators how the recruitment process worked. The DOI concluded that the hiring practices were reckless.

23 Rikers officers have already been arrested or are being probed for acts of violence, smuggling contraband, and falsification of documents and evidence.

The wealthy class has a long history of employing gang members, and other forces of organized crime, to do the dirty work of keeping the working-class down.

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NYC Jails More Violent Despite Decline in Inmates

Recent reports are showing that jail guards in New York City used violence against inmates more often than ever before in 2014. Despite a decrease in the inmate population, force against inmates was used 11 times a day on average.

Jailers reported using force 4,074 times last year, an increase by 1,000 since 2013. At the same time, statistics show that the inmate population has decreased by 3,000 people over the past 7 years.

This comes just months after the Department of Justice released a report stating that the inmates in the juvenile wing of Rikers Island were unnecessarily beaten, pepper sprayed, and tortured by guards.

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Coca-Cola to Lay Off Workers

It was announced recently that soda company Coca-Cola plans to cut up to 1,600 to 1,800 jobs worldwide. The company is hoping to save $3 billion in expenses. The lay offs will affect workers in Atlanta, London, Mexico City, Istanbul, and Hong Kong.

Lay off notices were reportedly issued to North American workers yesterday, and international workers will be let go on the 15th.

Coke has also employed a strategy of selling smaller products for more money.

Coke’s net income fell by 14 percent in September.

While soda isn’t a necessity of life, other companies employ similar strategies. When profits fall, companies will lay off workers and raise their prices. Capitalism is designed to serve the interests of wealthy people such as the top executives at Coca-Cola. When their mega-profits are in danger, working-class people’s lives and livelihoods are destroyed through lay offs and price hikes in order to rescue corporate profits.

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