On this week’s show, an interview with Gregory King and MaxZine Weinstein about their organizing work in East Nashville, Tennessee around issues of police brutality, gentrification and homelessness (Megan Williamson, producer). Plus national, and international headlines (find them after the ‘more’ link).
National and International Headlines:
On July 19 Las Vegas passed a law outlawing the feeding of homeless people in public, downtown areas. The ordinance states that feeding groups in public parks is “detrimental to the aesthetic atmosphere of parks.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a lawsuit last Wednesday on behalf of the organization Food Not Bombs, claiming that the new law violates several constitutional rights.
Food Not Bombs has faced pressure in other cities, including Richmond, Virginia and Venice, California. Likewise, faith-based groups offering meals in parks have been pressured by city leaders and businesses to move their programs to less visible – and often less accessible – places.
According to The NewStandard, Las Vegas joins a growing number of cities that are passing laws and ordinances intended to push homeless people out of public places. In addition to anti-panhandling, anti-camping and anti-loitering ordinances, feeding programs in public parks are the latest targets.
Electronic Intifada reports that a group of young American Jews staged a “Die In” last Tuesday in downtown Boston to demonstrate their opposition to the Israeli government’s bombing in Lebanon and Gaza. Participants began the action at 8:00 am inside the South Station commuter station. They wore black clothing with stickers that read “Not all U.S. Jews support Israel’s actions!”
Distinguishing themselves from other recent protests led by Jewish groups in the Greater Boston region, these American Jews take the position that Israel’s attacks on civilians, UN observers, infrastructure, and refugees is unethical, counterproductive, and contrary to the Jewish tradition of respect for human rights.
Matt Soycher of Jamaica Plain said this: “We want to break the false consensus of unequivocal support for Israel and make it known that many American Jews disagree with our government’s support of Israeli aggression. Recent rallies called by Jewish organizations in support of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Gaza have not spoken for us. Now, we are speaking for ourselves.”
The two largest music publishers’ associations have threatened to bring legal action against organizations and websites that share guitar tablature. Guitar Tab Universe received what it calls a threatening email from the National Music Publishers’ Association as well as the Music Publishers’ Association stating that descriptions of how one plays a particular song constitutes copyright infringement.
The website, which helps users teach each other how they play guitar parts for different songs, points out that the practice is the basis of music instruction, and argues that the suit would in effect be brought against all musicians who have ever shared how to play a particular piece with another person. The suit is the latest indication of the extent of the assault on file-sharing and other so-called proprietary rights by the corporate music industry against individuals and organizations.
In Philadelphia, a man has been arrested by police for taking a picture with his cell phone of an arrest occurring in the street in front of his home. The family of 21-year-old Neftaly Cruz say the police had no right to enter their property and arrest their 21-year-old son. Cruz says he had just stepped out to see the commotion going on in the street and decided to take a picture with his cell phone when a police officer opened his back gate, dragged him out into the street, and threw him onto a police car. Cruz was then handcuffed and taken to jail.
Police told Cruz that he had broken a new law that prohibits people from taking pictures of police using cell phones. Larry Frankel of the American Civil Liberties Union asserts that such a law does not exist, and said that, quote, “it’s rather scary that in this country you could actually be taken down to police headquarters for taking a picture on your cell phone of activities that are clearly visible on the street”.
Last week, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an environmental watchdog group that monitors government actions, revealed that the US Forest Service released a new proposal on predator control over two months ago and urged citizens to participate in the 60-day public comment period before it closed on August 7th.
The controversial rule would reverse the prohibition on cyanide guns, sodium-cyanide traps and poison baits, allow motorized hunting inside federally designated wilderness areas, and permit killing on an entire local population of animals rather than just the offending animal. Management of predator control would no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the federal agency but instead be outsourced to interested “collaborative groups”. Species affected include mountain lions, bears, coyotes, wolves, and any other species seen as threats to the livestock industry.
According to the PEER website, the federal government destroyed 2.7 million wildlife in 2004 – one animal every 12 seconds – because they were deemed a nuisance to ranchers, farmers, or municipalities.
Media watchdog group FAIR reports that cable news channel NY1 in New York has decided to block anti-war Democratic challenger Jonathan Tasini from a primary race debate with incumbent Senator Hillary Clinton. Tasini is Clinton’s only primary challenger and a recent Marist poll finds Tasini with 13% support. By contrast, a Democratic contender for governor, Tom Suozzi, was invited to participate in the July debate despite having poll ratings of only 9%.
In a statement in the Village Voice, the channel asserted it had set up objective thresholds for candidates to pass which include requirements that the candidates poll at least 5% and have spent and/or raised $500,000 dollars. Suozzi has spent over $6 million dollars on his campaign, compared to only $150,000 dollars for Tasini. NY1’s criteria contrast sharply with those used by the League of Women Voters, for years the main sponsors of debates, which required only whatever was required to get onto the ballot in a region – in this case, 15,000 signatures. Tasini has already received over 40,000 signatures.
At a Tasini campaign forum protesting the shut-out, writer-activist Barbara Ehrenreich said, quote, “When you have to have half a million dollars to tell people what you stand for, then we’re not talking about democracy anymore, we’re talking about plutocracy.” To take action protesting the channel’s policy visit the FAIR website at http://www.fair.org .
Israel’s bombing of key highway bridges in northern Lebanon and strikes in south Beirut paralysed United Nations aid convoys on Friday. Air strikes against four bridges on the main coastal highway linking Beirut to Syria stalled an eight-truck convoy carrying 150 tonnes of relief. The destruction of the bridges cut what the United Nations called its “umbilical cord” for aid supplies.
The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) called off planned convoys southwards to the port city of Tyre and Rashidiyeh after air strikes on a southern Beirut suburb prevented drivers from reaching the convoys’ departure point. The UNHCR was also forced to put off trips around Beirut to assess the needs and deliver aid to up to 400,000 people living with host families or in schools and parks in the area.
Common Dreams.org reports that about 300,000 Lebanese children have been displaced by Israel’s three-week war against Hizbollah. Children make up a third of the people who have abandoned their homes. These young children are now living in open-air camps, in schools, in displacement centers, or they are being housed with host families.
Many of the displaced children are behaving aggressively and getting into fights. The trauma experienced by these children is also manifesting itself through crying, bed-wetting, sleeplessness and nightmares. The stress of the ongoing attacks and the lack of nutrition have caused many women to stop breastfeeding. Relief agencies have said they are desperately in need of infant formula.