Hungarians have protested by the thousands against proposed changes to their constitution that they believe will limit their democratic rights.
March 9, 2013

Opponents of the proposed constitutional changes say they fear they will curb citizens’ democratic rights. This led to two days of protests in Budapest, the first taking place on Thursday with dozens of protesters. On Saturday, thousands turned out to voice their concerns.

The parliament is to vote on the proposed amendments on Monday.

“A really worrying oppressive system is being built up here, like a dictatorship,” Milan Rozsa, a 25-year-old protester, told the AFP news agency.

Critics argue that the proposals seek to reinstate measures that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government had previously introduced, but which were struck down by the country’s constitutional court in recent months.

They say the proposed changes would have restrictive implications for higher education, by requiring students who receive state grants to stay and work in Hungary after their studies.

Another provision would restrict election campaigning to state media, something critics say would damage Hungary’s democracy. Among the other proposals is a ban on sleeping on the streets.

The changes would also curb the powers of the constitutional court by rendering any of its decisions made before the current constitution came into force last year invalid.

International concern over the upcoming vote is growing.

The European Commission, the Council of Europe and human rights organizations have expressed concern over the upcoming vote.

In a phone call on Friday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told Prime Minister Orban that his government and the parliament should address concerns “in accordance with EU democratic principles.”

Orban responded in writing to Barroso, pledging that Hungary would conform to the norms and rules of the European Union, but he failed to offer details.

The Council of Europe, the European institution responsible for defending human rights, also weighed in on the issue last week, urging Budapest to postpone the vote. The Hungarian government rejected the request.

Saturday’s protest was organized by various human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.

Source

& check out that 99% sign in the background of the top picture! <3

Gatineau student protest leads to 151 arrests
Police arrested 151 people in Gatineau Thursday after busloads of student protesters arrived from Montreal as part of provincewide demonstrations against the Quebec government&#8217;s proposed tuition-fee hike.
About 400 students took part in the demonstration at the University of Quebec&#8217;s Outaouais campus, Gatineau police said. Police said it was clear that the protesters had no intention of co-operating with authorities. We sure hope not! :) 
Source

Gatineau student protest leads to 151 arrests

Police arrested 151 people in Gatineau Thursday after busloads of student protesters arrived from Montreal as part of provincewide demonstrations against the Quebec government’s proposed tuition-fee hike.

About 400 students took part in the demonstration at the University of Quebec’s Outaouais campus, Gatineau police said. Police said it was clear that the protesters had no intention of co-operating with authorities. We sure hope not! :)

Source

Three female punk rockers who mocked Vladimir Putin in a surprise protest inside Russia&#8217;s main Orthodox church will be kept in jail, a Moscow court ruled Thursday.
Five members of the feminist band Pussy Riot — clad in brightly colored homemade ski masks and miniskirts — briefly seized the pulpit of Moscow&#8217;s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February and chanted &#8220;Mother Mary, drive Putin away.&#8221;
Three band members have been in police custody since March and face up to seven years in jail on charges of hooliganism. Their cause — and the harsh response of the Russian Orthodox Church — has provoked a public outcry and criticism of Russia&#8217;s largest religious institution.
Source

Three female punk rockers who mocked Vladimir Putin in a surprise protest inside Russia’s main Orthodox church will be kept in jail, a Moscow court ruled Thursday.

Five members of the feminist band Pussy Riot — clad in brightly colored homemade ski masks and miniskirts — briefly seized the pulpit of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February and chanted “Mother Mary, drive Putin away.”

Three band members have been in police custody since March and face up to seven years in jail on charges of hooliganism. Their cause — and the harsh response of the Russian Orthodox Church — has provoked a public outcry and criticism of Russia’s largest religious institution.

Source

Tens of thousands of Czechs are expected to march on Saturday in what could be the country&#8217;s largest protest against austerity measures, union leaders said on Thursday, as the center-right government tries to fight off collapse midway through its term.
More than two dozen unions and activist groups will take part in the rally through Prague, the third major union protest in the past year against unpopular budget cuts and tax hikes that unions say are coming at the expense of workers.
Source

Tens of thousands of Czechs are expected to march on Saturday in what could be the country’s largest protest against austerity measures, union leaders said on Thursday, as the center-right government tries to fight off collapse midway through its term.

More than two dozen unions and activist groups will take part in the rally through Prague, the third major union protest in the past year against unpopular budget cuts and tax hikes that unions say are coming at the expense of workers.

Source

April 17, 2012
Thousands of sign-wielding union workers angrily protested Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s speech before business leaders in Springfield Tuesday
Walker’s signature on a bill that severely curtailed the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions have made him an enemy to organized labor nationwide.
Springfield police estimated that 3,500 to 4,000 people attended the rally, said Ernie Slottag, the city’s communications director.
Source

April 17, 2012

Thousands of sign-wielding union workers angrily protested Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s speech before business leaders in Springfield Tuesday

Walker’s signature on a bill that severely curtailed the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions have made him an enemy to organized labor nationwide.

Springfield police estimated that 3,500 to 4,000 people attended the rally, said Ernie Slottag, the city’s communications director.

Source

The following are two very different points of view on MoveOn.org&#8217;s role in Occupy and their &#8220;Spring Training&#8221;. This first is from opednews and the second from Mother Jones. I would love to know: what do you guys think?

The OpEdNews article&#8230;
With hindsight gained by googling &#8220;MoveOn&#8221; and &#8220;co-opt&#8221; after the fact, I can&#8217;t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, &#8220;Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.&#8221; I just didn&#8217;t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I&#8217;ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That&#8217;s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about &#8220;nonviolent direct action training&#8221; organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.
Which I did. The meeting was a few blocks from where I live. The spam said it was &#8220;inspired by Occupy Wall Street.&#8221; I wasn&#8217;t sure what that meant, but I was vaguely hoping that whatever The 99% Spring was, it would start a chapter of Occupy Wall Street on the Upper West Side, conveniently near my abode, and agitate for the Democrats and MoveOn to move left.
The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the &#8220;inspired by Occupy Wall Street&#8221; vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn&#8217;t appear to be selling.
Inside the hall, it looked like an alumni reunion for the 1966 Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade. Almost all the 150 or so people were 55-80 years old. The ones I talked to expressed curiosity about Occupy Wall Street and enthusiasm about &#8220;nonviolent direct action&#8221; but didn&#8217;t have the knees or the ears for full participation in OWS activities in the financial district.
A large man with long wavy hair combed back started the presentation with a stirring call for&#8230;the meeting to be off the record. He didn&#8217;t want any stories that would violate anyone&#8217;s privacy, and if there were any lurking journalists, they weren&#8217;t allowed to use any names and they must see him afterwards for further instruction on the ground rules. This struck an even more dysphoric note with the crowd than the Obama buttons.
WTF thought #1: This was a public event ostensibly to convince members of the public to engage in behavior that challenged the legitimacy of government authority in public and might cause angry police to beat the public crap out of them. Why would anyone risk that without trying to get publicity for their cause? Nonviolent direct action that no one knows about is like jerking off. It might make you feel better, but you&#8217;re not changing the world.
WTF thought #2: Transparency is the only protection that nonviolent people have against police spies and provocateurs and other infiltrators. Occupy Wall Street does a pretty good job with transparency. An organization claiming to be inspired by OWS but shunning transparency is deeply suspicious.
Finish the article here&#8230;

The MotherJones article&#8230;
If you&#8217;re one of the millions of people who get emails from MoveOn.org, then you&#8217;ve probably heard of the &#8220;99% Spring.&#8221; Far from another clickable internet petition, it is possibly the largest attempt ever to train people in nonviolent protest techniques. Some Occupy types have criticized the effort as a scheme by Democratic operatives to co-opt their movement. But the reality is probably the opposite: It seems that America&#8217;s best-known progressive fundraising organization is now taking its cues from Occupy Wall Street.
I didn&#8217;t know what to think of the 99% Spring until I stopped by a three-hour training session—one of more than 900 being held nationwide this week—at a Unitarian church in San Francisco. My presumption was that the 60 or so gray-haired attendees would be interested in supporting Democratic candidates—after all, the event was cosponsored by the Progressive Democrats of San Francisco—but many seemed just as disillusioned with electoral politics as the folks who took over New York City&#8217;s Zuccotti Park this past fall. &#8220;I believed Obama when he said he would change things and he didn&#8217;t, so I quit the Democratic Party,&#8221; said one middle-aged MoveOn member who asked that I not use her name. She went on to talk about about how &#8220;the deck is stacked&#8221; and &#8220;voting doesn&#8217;t work anymore.&#8221; She&#8217;d come to the training looking for a new way to get involved.
"It&#8217;s clear that the sorts of tactics we&#8217;ve engaged in in the past are no longer enough," Justin Ruben, MoveOn&#8217;s Executive Director, wrote in an email to his staff last week, arguing that the growing corporate influence on policy-making has left the group little choice but to take to the streets. In a subsequent interview with Mother Jones, he added, &#8220;We know that whoever wins in November, they are still going to be listening more to the 1 percent than to the rest of us because our political system is completely broken. So we don&#8217;t have the luxury of not engaging in this kind of action.&#8221;
Finish it here&#8230;

The following are two very different points of view on MoveOn.org’s role in Occupy and their “Spring Training”. This first is from opednews and the second from Mother Jones. I would love to know: what do you guys think?


The OpEdNews article…

With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That’s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about “nonviolent direct action training” organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.

Which I did. The meeting was a few blocks from where I live. The spam said it was “inspired by Occupy Wall Street.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was vaguely hoping that whatever The 99% Spring was, it would start a chapter of Occupy Wall Street on the Upper West Side, conveniently near my abode, and agitate for the Democrats and MoveOn to move left.

The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling.

Inside the hall, it looked like an alumni reunion for the 1966 Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade. Almost all the 150 or so people were 55-80 years old. The ones I talked to expressed curiosity about Occupy Wall Street and enthusiasm about “nonviolent direct action” but didn’t have the knees or the ears for full participation in OWS activities in the financial district.

A large man with long wavy hair combed back started the presentation with a stirring call for…the meeting to be off the record. He didn’t want any stories that would violate anyone’s privacy, and if there were any lurking journalists, they weren’t allowed to use any names and they must see him afterwards for further instruction on the ground rules. This struck an even more dysphoric note with the crowd than the Obama buttons.

WTF thought #1: This was a public event ostensibly to convince members of the public to engage in behavior that challenged the legitimacy of government authority in public and might cause angry police to beat the public crap out of them. Why would anyone risk that without trying to get publicity for their cause? Nonviolent direct action that no one knows about is like jerking off. It might make you feel better, but you’re not changing the world.

WTF thought #2: Transparency is the only protection that nonviolent people have against police spies and provocateurs and other infiltrators. Occupy Wall Street does a pretty good job with transparency. An organization claiming to be inspired by OWS but shunning transparency is deeply suspicious.

Finish the article here…

The MotherJones article…

If you’re one of the millions of people who get emails from MoveOn.org, then you’ve probably heard of the “99% Spring.” Far from another clickable internet petition, it is possibly the largest attempt ever to train people in nonviolent protest techniques. Some Occupy types have criticized the effort as a scheme by Democratic operatives to co-opt their movement. But the reality is probably the opposite: It seems that America’s best-known progressive fundraising organization is now taking its cues from Occupy Wall Street.

I didn’t know what to think of the 99% Spring until I stopped by a three-hour training session—one of more than 900 being held nationwide this week—at a Unitarian church in San Francisco. My presumption was that the 60 or so gray-haired attendees would be interested in supporting Democratic candidates—after all, the event was cosponsored by the Progressive Democrats of San Francisco—but many seemed just as disillusioned with electoral politics as the folks who took over New York City’s Zuccotti Park this past fall. “I believed Obama when he said he would change things and he didn’t, so I quit the Democratic Party,” said one middle-aged MoveOn member who asked that I not use her name. She went on to talk about about how “the deck is stacked” and “voting doesn’t work anymore.” She’d come to the training looking for a new way to get involved.

"It’s clear that the sorts of tactics we’ve engaged in in the past are no longer enough," Justin Ruben, MoveOn’s Executive Director, wrote in an email to his staff last week, arguing that the growing corporate influence on policy-making has left the group little choice but to take to the streets. In a subsequent interview with Mother Jones, he added, “We know that whoever wins in November, they are still going to be listening more to the 1 percent than to the rest of us because our political system is completely broken. So we don’t have the luxury of not engaging in this kind of action.”

Finish it here…

Occupy Appalachia
Karen Gorrell choked back tears one Saturday in early March as she pulled the final stake from the tent that had been her home for the past 75 days. Last fall, the protracted struggle she led for retired workers from Century Aluminum Corporation found itself an accidental part of the Occupy movement. “I&#8217;m elated that a bunch of little senior citizens can take on corporate giants in West Virginia,” Gorrell said.
The group fought to have their healthcare benefits reinstated after the company unilaterally dropped coverage for more than 500 retirees and their families. After more than a year of organizing, protests and, ultimately, a physical occupation, the Occupy Century group reached a settlement with the company late last month that will restore those health benefits and grant $44 million to the retirees over 10 years, with up to $25 million in additional contributions to follow.
“I love these people,” Gorrell, 62, said about her fellow occupiers, whose ages range from early sixties to mid-eighties. “This is the closest family you could have in the world.” Gorrell is married to a Century retiree and describes herself as a high school graduate, a community volunteer and a grandmother.
The Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, W.Va., had seen struggles before. In 1990, 1,700 union workers at what was then called Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation were locked out in an effort to drastically cut wages. The ensuing “Battle of Fort RAC” was a divisive conflict for the Jackson County community; the negotiations that ended the two-year lockout and picket resulted in workers forced to take a significant pay cut in exchange for healthcare retirement accounts. When the plant closed in 2009, laying off 651 workers, Century Aluminum promised workers that their health benefits would continue.
In June 2010, however, the company announced it would be terminating health coverage for its retirees and keeping the $25 million that workers had paid into their pensions. “You’ve been exposed to every hazardous chemical in the book—asbestos, coal tar pitch, all kinds of extreme hazards from aluminum—and when the men retire and they’re actually beginning to suffer from the exposure, then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug,” Gorrell said.
Not only that, but Century Aluminum qualified for and was accepted by—yet chose not to participate in—the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010, which grants federal funding to help cover retirees’ health care costs. The company later accepted EERP funding; in the fourth quarter of 2010, Century reported a net income of $65.3 million citing “changes to the retiree medical benefits program [that] increased quarterly results by $56.7 million.”
“It’s not only morally wrong, it is absolutely criminal what they’re doing to America’s most vulnerable people,” Gorrell said, “and the sad part is, the federal court system is upholding these decisions by these corporations.”
Not this time&#8230;
Continue this story at the new Occupy News site Occupy.com

Occupy Appalachia

Karen Gorrell choked back tears one Saturday in early March as she pulled the final stake from the tent that had been her home for the past 75 days. Last fall, the protracted struggle she led for retired workers from Century Aluminum Corporation found itself an accidental part of the Occupy movement. “I’m elated that a bunch of little senior citizens can take on corporate giants in West Virginia,” Gorrell said.

The group fought to have their healthcare benefits reinstated after the company unilaterally dropped coverage for more than 500 retirees and their families. After more than a year of organizing, protests and, ultimately, a physical occupation, the Occupy Century group reached a settlement with the company late last month that will restore those health benefits and grant $44 million to the retirees over 10 years, with up to $25 million in additional contributions to follow.

“I love these people,” Gorrell, 62, said about her fellow occupiers, whose ages range from early sixties to mid-eighties. “This is the closest family you could have in the world.” Gorrell is married to a Century retiree and describes herself as a high school graduate, a community volunteer and a grandmother.

The Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, W.Va., had seen struggles before. In 1990, 1,700 union workers at what was then called Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation were locked out in an effort to drastically cut wages. The ensuing “Battle of Fort RAC” was a divisive conflict for the Jackson County community; the negotiations that ended the two-year lockout and picket resulted in workers forced to take a significant pay cut in exchange for healthcare retirement accounts. When the plant closed in 2009, laying off 651 workers, Century Aluminum promised workers that their health benefits would continue.

In June 2010, however, the company announced it would be terminating health coverage for its retirees and keeping the $25 million that workers had paid into their pensions. “You’ve been exposed to every hazardous chemical in the book—asbestos, coal tar pitch, all kinds of extreme hazards from aluminum—and when the men retire and they’re actually beginning to suffer from the exposure, then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug,” Gorrell said.

Not only that, but Century Aluminum qualified for and was accepted by—yet chose not to participate in—the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010, which grants federal funding to help cover retirees’ health care costs. The company later accepted EERP funding; in the fourth quarter of 2010, Century reported a net income of $65.3 million citing “changes to the retiree medical benefits program [that] increased quarterly results by $56.7 million.”

“It’s not only morally wrong, it is absolutely criminal what they’re doing to America’s most vulnerable people,” Gorrell said, “and the sad part is, the federal court system is upholding these decisions by these corporations.”

Not this time…

Continue this story at the new Occupy News site Occupy.com

Excerpt:

AMY GOODMAN: This is very similar to what’s happening in the United States.

MARIA CARRION: It is. And in fact, what happened—this has been going on in Spain before it happened in the U.S. And there was an international committee that took place—or a big meeting that took place during the occupation in Spain over the summer, and it was an international committee that wanted to internationalize this model of movement. And a lot of people that participated in Occupied Wall Street were part of this. So, you see these—you know, these movements coming here.

Will Occupy Wall Street influence the elections in the United States? Occupy Spain didn’t influence the elections. What they’re saying is they want deeper social transformation. This is not about the political parties, because the political parties are doing what Europe wants them to do and what the IMF wants them to do. They’re not really paying attention to alternative models.