Vital Signs: Labor Takes On Durbin; Indigenous ‘Idle No More’ Movement Escalates

from In These Times

Peace Prize Protests: Thousands of protesters marched in Oslo, Norway last weekend in protest of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. While the Nobel committee awarded the prize to the European Union for its purported role as an instrument of peace and unification for the continent following two world wars, activists argue that the EU is an undemocratic institution that encourages militarization and austerity in Europe. Past Nobel Prize winners Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire have spoken out against the Nobel committee’s decision.

Fiscal Cliff Showdown: On Monday, thousands of union members and activists across the country staged ‘Jobs NOT Cuts’, a national day of action designed, in the heat of Congress’s ‘fiscal cliff’ showdown, to pressure lawmakers to end tax cuts for the wealthy and protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. In cities across the country, crowds marched into the offices of Senators and representatives demanding meetings, delivering petitions and making their voices heard. In Chicago, hundreds of home and healthcare workers gathered outside of Senator Richard Durbin’s office at Federal Plaza to protest his recent decision to endorse, in the spirit of ‘compromise’, cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Indigenous Activists ‘Idle No More:’ The same day, thousands took to the streets across Canada, as indigenous communities and their allies kicked off a nationwide campaign against the passage of Bill C-45, a budget bill that they say will weaken environmental protections and infringe on Indian Reserve land rights. Declaring themselves ‘Idle No More’, protesters occupied sites and marched on governmental buildings in cities throughout the country. In the capital city of Ottawa, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence launched a hunger strike, declaring her willingness to starve to death unless a request for a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Queen Elizabeth II and First Nations leaders is approved.

‘Protect the Peaks’ Activists Charged: Four activists were served Tuesday with federal charges and arrest warrants in Flagstaff, Arizona for their role in a campaign to prevent construction of a ski resort on the San Francisco Peaks, a sacred site for the Dine’ Navajo tribe. The ‘Protect The Peaks’ campaign, spearheaded by a coalition of indigenous groups and community supporters, have used direct action, community organizing and advocacy to seek to halt mountaintop construction, which, in addition to large-scale clearcutting, uses retreated sewage effluent to produce artificial snow for the resort. The activists have reportedly been served with arrest warrants relating to a September action at the Coconino National Forest Service lobby.

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