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Richmond IndyMedia Live! Every Tuesday, 12:30 - 1PM on 97.3 WRIR LP-FM, and streaming online from wrir.org!

Features

Featured news by and for the local community

 

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RAD WORKSHOPS AROUND VIRGINIA: Fredricksburg and Richmond Kick It With Educational Campaigns

Fredericksburg, VA--future hotbed of radical activism--is in the full swing of its first progressive education campaign. A series of workshops designed to share the struggles of people abroad and relate them to people at home, the campaign started in September and continues through November.

Aaron Samsel, an organizer of the campaign, said the interest in creating a progressive atmosphere existed in small town F-burg and the best way to start would be with educating people in that area. The series includes talks on feminism in activism and Islam, the struggle for Palestinian liberation, the Zapatista uprising, radical economics, revolutionary women in Afghanistan, queer liberation and a lecture on anarchist social theory lead by one of Richmond IMC’s favorites, Georgetown Professor Mark Lance, this Thursday, Sept. 25. Check out the campaign!

Not to be outdone, the Richmond Queer Space Project is also in the midst of its 2003 workshop series. Every Thursday at 7 p.m. since August and lasting through the end of the year, RQSP has rocked Richmond with its weekly talks at Queer Paradise, 319 North Adams Street. So far, lessons on yoga, gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, screen-printing, Palestinian politics and poetry have inspired eager peeps in the town.

One of the most highly anticipated workshops, the Sept. 18 presentation by queer sci-fi writer Samuel R. Delaney canceled due to the hurricane, has fortunately been rescheduled to Nov. 14 (time and location to be announced). But you can still get in on the action this week when RQSP organizer Sasha Vodnik and others discuss their recent trip to off da’ hook Argentina. Check out the workshops!

 
 

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WTO SHUTDOWN!: Failed negotiations a major victory for global justice

Standing up and fighting together, people fervently assembled throughout the world last week in solidarity and in struggle to force the failure of the World Trade Organization's fifth ministerial meeting. Successful on the ground actions in Cancun combined with resistance from developing countries and worldwide protests have left the progress of corporate neoliberalism at a standstill Sunday evening.

Militant demonstrations of tens of thousands of people with strong international farmer and union presences thronged at the gates of WTO meetings in Cancun all week, witnessing the tragic suicide of Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae, whose death symbolized the deaths and starvation of countless farmers every day as a result of WTO policies. Inside the ministerial, developing nations formed a tight block refusing to submit to the demands of rich, industrialized countries as hundreds of solidarity actions occurred in more than 34 countries. Read more

The resolute Indymedia Media movement was there to document the people's coup as last week's events barely received a peep in mainstream media. September 13 solidarity actions, the largest global convergence since February anti-war demonstrations, gave the world's people a huge victory in turning the tide against corporate globalization. Photos [1, 2]

Richmond participated in the international day of action on Saturday as 60 to 80 people rallied and marched to the grounds of the Ethyl corporation, one of Richmond's notoriously toxic hometown companies.
[ Cancun Indymedia | Global Indymedia | Subcommandante Marcos' address to Cancun protests ]

 
 

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CONVENTIONS FOR THE RICH, SOUP LINES FOR THE POOR: RCLW protests in front of Richmond Convention Center

Supporters of the Richmond Coalition for a Living Wage walked a picket line in front of the city's convention center Saturday night as glitzy convention-goers navigated around the 55 demonstrators. Crying chants of "Who's at fault? City Hall! What's outrageous? Poverty wages!" the group protested the city government's bypassing of its living wage ordinance by contracting city work out to private businesses that pay their workers unfair wages. Read more Photos: 1, 2
[ Richmond Coalition for a Living Wage ]

 
 

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RISE UP, FIGHT BACK AGAINST CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION: Richmond and the world prepare for anti-WTO actions Sept. 13

The forces of corporate globalization are up to their same old antics as the World Trade Organization holds its fifth ministerial meeting this month in Cancun, Mexico. With 134 member countries, the WTO exists to negotiate, monitor and enforce international trade agreements. Through the WTO, global corporate elite control the commerce of the world by circumventing local and national protections for labor, agriculture, health and the environment to facilitate the overrunning of local economies to privatization and corporate domination. [Ten Reasons to Oppose the WTO]

As the WTO meets, a worldwide day of action has been issued for Saturday, Sept. 13. Richmond is joining in on the day's events with a march and educational fair. Organized by the Richmond Economic Justice Coalition, the day begins with a permitted march to Richmond's Ethyl Corp. The tartgeting of Ethyl comes from the company's use of international trade agreements to sue Canada for banning a lethal gasoline additive Ethyl produced. Ethyl is also responsible for the demolition of many houses in the historic working class neighborhood of Oregon Hill. Once the march is over, an educational fair will take place in Monroe Park. [Read more]

Entities like the WTO uphold expanding the realm of global capitalism by forcing open local markets to transnational exploitation in order to make short-term gains, returning profits to the private sector while leaving in its wake devastating social and environmental costs to the public. But where there is corporate greed, there is always resistance. Since the WTO's founding in 1995, organized groups of people have confronted the WTO on its undemocratic practices and unaccountability. Most remarkably, in 1999, 50,000 global justice protesters choked WTO meetings in Seattle. Although the global justice movement has not experienced such an astounding success since 1999, large groups continually mobilize screaming, "The world is not for sale!" to fiercely resist international trade councils like the WTO.

This is year is no different as groups have prepared massive demonstrations in Cancun to force trade talks to collapse. Indymedia activists have already converged to organize effective coverage of the protests and a new Cancun IMC is hosting excellent dialogue and exchange of information. Stay in touch with Richmond IMC and global indymedia to learn about the unfolding of Sept. 13's events.
[ Cancun IMC | Web guide to Cancun- WTO | Global Exchange ]

 
 

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UNDER ATTACK!: Norfolk Food Not Bombs Fights City Harassment

Efforts by Norfolk City health officials to impede a weekly serving by the area's Food Not Bombs collective have been unsuccessful as the group has continued to serve a free meal to the community. Norfolk FNB recently posted an account to IMC describing encounters with certain officials and issuing a call for guidance on what to do with city harassment. [Read the account]
[ Hampton Roads Food Not Bombs | Food Not Bombs International ]

 
 

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VIRGINIA MARCHES AGAINST THE OCCUPATION: People fault U.S. war-mongering for problems at home and abroad

Three hundred people gathered in Richmond Sunday to oppose the U.S. occupation in Iraq and the government's funding of the occupation of Palestine. During the rally, an impressive list of speakers indulged the crowd in rich analyses of the U.S. war abroad and the war on people at home.

Recalling the story of the struggle for Civil Rights in the U.S., many pledged to continue the fight for freedoms, jobs and justice that must continued to be waged today against the ultra-right wing Bush administration. The march was also planned in solidarity with the previous day's 40th anniversary Civil Rights March in D.C.

People assembled in Richmond's Monroe Park with signs and colorful banners and marched through the lower Fan in a peaceful demonstration against U.S. foreign and domestic policies. [Photos: 1 2] [Read the IMC article][Check out the audio!]

 
 

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TECH PROBLEMS: IMC newswire down but not out

It seems as though the IMC newswire has disappeared from the main page. However, the newswire is still accessible by clicking on the link to the left of the page. Please stay in touch and check out the stories while we work on our problem. Thanks- xoxoxo Richmond Indymedia
 
 

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LA LUCHA SIGUE EN ARGENTINA!: The People United Returns from Argentina with Amazing Stories to Tell

The People United delegation to Buenos Aires, Argentina returned to Virginia last week and what they brought with them were amazing stories of revolution and activism, messages of solidarity and tangible evidence of the beautiful, awe-inspiring resistance to corporate and governmental domination that Argentines are living and breathing in their collective existences.

This moving experience has compelled a few of the People United delegates to publish insightful accounts on what they saw. Their stories speak for themselves and all you have to do is take the time to educate yourself on Argentina. People United delegate Joe Catron shot many incredible pictures of prevalent public art seen on the streets of Buenos Aires. People expressing themselves through political art and grafitti are unafraid to yield a can of spray paint or stencil to share their discontent and hope. [PHOTOS: 1 2 3 4 5 6]

Richmond Queer Space organizer Sasha Vodnik has published accounts on the infamous Mothers of the Disappeared who will not allow the world to forget their children who were killed by the government during the 1970s, unemployed workers who are collectively organizing to survive and workers at the Brukman factory who are struggling to regain their right to work in their factory. [READ: The Mothers of the Disappeared, The Unemployed Workers Movement, The Brukman Workers Struggle]

IMC reporter Jason Guard has also been indefatigable in his writing and has provided us with an abundance of information on the Argentina beverage of choice, yerba mate, revolutionary hero Che Guevarra, his experiences with consensus building, unemployed workers, and the Brukman movement. [READ: Consensus Building and Assemblies, Miscellaneous Thoughts on Yerba Mate and Che Guevarra, Unemployed Workers Organizing, The Brukman Movement]

Richmond Indymedia would like to thank all who have published and to encourage others to write more. If readers would like to meet the People United delegates and to hear their stories firsthand, several events are on the way for you to meet them. Check out the events! This summer was an awesome season for Richmonders who traveled to other continents with the purpose of exchanging solidarity with embattled people abroad. Two activists from Free Palestine Now! have returned after traveling to the occupied territories of Palestine. Stay in touch with IMC to find out about upcoming FPN events.

 
 

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LATIN AMERICAN HOPE: Viva intifada in Argentina!

As a region rocked by neoliberal exploitation and government corruption, Argentina embodies the hope for an alternative world as the country has witnessed a massive bottom-up grassroots struggle for self-determination since the economic crisis that hit in 2001. What we have seen develop in Argentina the past two years is a strong movement based on direct democracy with rejection of corporate and state institutions that has stirred up much interest and inspiration for social justice advocates all over the globe.

This month, thirteen Virginians traveled to Buenos Aires as part of a delegation with The People United to learn about the struggles in Argentina, to meet people involved and create strong bonds of international solidarity. [Read the press release] IMC reporter Jason Guard has published two accounts on his encounters in Buenos Aires. His first story delves into his arrival to the capital, People United discussions and the group’s visit to a neighborhood assembly. [Read Guard’s first account] His second story describes the group’s visit to a collectively run breadstick factory and meetings with the workers of the factory. [Read Guard’s second account] Richmond Queer Space Project organizer Sasha Vodnik is also traveling along with the delegation and has published two accounts with photos on visits to the Brukman factory and unemployed workers co-ops. [Read account 1] [Read account 2]

The People United delegation returns soon, but they have planned a few events for people to come and learn about Argentina and to share their experiences of international solidarity. [Check out the events!]

Argentina was once a poster child for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as those institutions loaned billions of dollars during the 1990s to make the country ripe for foreign investment and privatization of national companies. Like most situations involving international loan- sharking, paying back the interest on these loans alone forced the government to drastically cut its social spending. While Argentina mounted debt, a recession ensued, leaving Argentine financial ministers constrained by IMF rules that prohibit increased government spending to alleviate the disaster created by the selling out of Argentina to global economic interests.

Unemployment and poverty skyrocketed, leaving Argentina on the precipice of economic failure toward the end of 2001. IMF policies forced the government to implement a 13 percent slashing of government employee salaries and state health care. Social unrest reached a boiling point on December 19 and 20 when thousands of Argentines took to the streets of the capital, banging on pots and pans, mobilizing together to demand an end to government corruption with the cry of “QUE SE VAYAN TODOS!” (All of them must go!) [Read about the rebellion]

Since then, the popular uprising has forced the resignation of four presidents and the people looking to themselves to create solutions for their problems. Workers reoccupy factories abandoned by bankrupt owners to operate production collectively, neighborhoods gather in assemblies to address grievances, plan cultural and political activities to participate in the future of their city, people extensively use bartering to trade goods and services while unemployed workers (piqueter@s) continuously take to the streets to call attention to their situation.

But the plight of Argentina remains dire as 58 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and 44 percent are unemployed. A new president, Nester Kirchner, poses as a liberal while harshly responding to protests. The government seems intent on preventing another uprising like that of December 2001 as the country wallows in crisis. Despite recent setbacks, the peoples’ movements remain strong but face obstacles to their growth and sustainability. While many can speculate on the future of Argentina, it is important to remain educated about its story. [Read Z-Mag’s archive on Argentina]

*Information compiled from Z-Magazine, Left Turn and Crisis and Resistance in Argentina, a zine compiled by Jenny Schoeckemoehl.
[ Argentina IMC | Left Turn ]

 
 

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IS RICHMOND BURNING?: City government's policies hurt the poor and involve no public input

For many of us Richmond as we know it is not about a convention center, the Ukrops family, city council nor Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond is swimming in the James River, walking on bumpy sidewalks, the people on the streets and rich cultures exuding from various music, art and political scenes. It’s hard to deny that Richmond’s got a lot of flavor stemming from its unique identity as an independent city with small town appeal.

It’s all soon to become a fading memory. A decade of change has altered Richmond with the growth of VCU, the construction of the convention center and the targeting of the East Broad Street corridor as a tourist hub. What many people cherish about Richmond is threatened as developers and corporations hungrily eye Richmond as a place for exploitation and profiting. But what’s done is done: a myopic city council and city elite have opened the door allowing for projects like a convention center, a performing arts center and VCU to be grand saviors of this city.

Richmond Indymedia wants to know what will a convention center and performing arts center do for the poor and homeless of the city? What will these projects do for a crumbling public school system? What will VCU and its private developer friends do with all of the low-income people who are displaced by rampant construction of student apartments and luxury townhouses? It’s a big deal to question how the city government’s policies affect impoverished people because Richmond’s poverty rate for all people is close to 25 percent while 32 percent of the city’s children are poor. That means a lot of people are in need of a social safety net that Richmond is not willing to provide. Two questions remain to be asked: who is making these decisions and who are these changes for?

With this feature Richmond Indymedia plans to tie together recent events with city government and development projects to expose how the future direction of the city is not being decided by the people but by a corrupt power structure that runs deep in influence.

Let’s be frank: Richmond is run by a group of backwards politicians that are controlled by the corporate elite of the town. Recent scandals have turned the council on its head, with the conviction of Sixth District Councilman Sa’ad El-Amin for tax fraud and evasion and the arrest of Eighth District Councilwoman Gewn Hedgepeth for bribery. Writer William Mullen explains that “Indeed, anyone with an interest in social justice is tempted to cheer for the downfall of any and all of our local politicians. Richmond's City Council has done nothing but foist a pro-rich agenda on our city in recent history. Best described by City Manager Calvin Jamison's slogan ‘Richmond is open for business,’ our politicians are tripping over each other to advertise this small southern city as being wide-open for exploitation by the greedy and powerful…These politicians take their orders from some very smart, very calculating, cold-blooded rich white men. Their policies are increasing inequality, not by mistake, but on purpose, because it’s good for business. Their intent is simply to increase inequality, keep wages down, give corporations a free reign, and increase profits for elites. This reality must condition our analysis of recent political scandals. Despite our temptation to cheer at the recent downfall of Sa'ad El-Amin and Gwen Hedgepeth, we progressives ought to think carefully and critically about their arrests.”[Read Mullen’s article]

Although some power is vested in Richmond City Council, the real deals are brokered behind closed doors with private government entities like the Richmond Renaissance and Broad Street Community Development Authority. Community researcher Greg Will writes, “The city of Richmond has embarked on a multi-million dollar development project designed to exclude poor people from Broad Street in favor of tourists and convention-goers. At the center of the project is the Broad Street Community Development Authority (CDA), a private government that is not accountable to Richmond City Council and is run by the developers who will profit from the project.” In his research, Will uncovers the creation of this CDA, who runs it and the amount of public money that has been spent on its projects. [Read Will’s story]

The area that the CDA is focusing on includes the convention center, which has cost the city more than $50 million to finance. The Richmond Convention Center reconstruction project was dreamt up to increase tourism and to increase a hotel lodging tax base for the city. So far, the convention center has destroyed several blocks of historic Jackson Ward and opened to a less than lucrative future. An article published in Style Weekly revealed that convention participation in the country has plummeted in the past three years and other cities comparable to Richmond already have their own competitive convention centers.

City planners are banking on the Virginia Performing Arts Complex, which the people will finance with a one percent meals tax increase, to give Richmond a competitive edge over other cities with a music hall, corporate retail and office space, and theater. As construction of this center begins, building space downtown will be evacuated by small business owners and the people who use the space for shopping needs and for public transportation. Although the Times-Dispatch says that the downtown Broad Street corridor is an eyesore, many people of color have used the area as a social and commercial space for decades. ”The recently completed expansion of Richmond's convention center is part of a plan to turn a stretch of downtown Broad Street from a shared public space into a backdrop for conventions and tourism. This change will displace small businesses and the working class population they serve, and make millions for investors and developers,” writes Greg Will in an article on the history of Broad Street. [Read the article]

 
 

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RICHMOND RADICAL NEWS BRIEFS: Free Palestine Now! in the West Bank; death penalty opponents protest Swisher execution

Another member of Virginia Commonwealth University's Free Palestine Now! entered the occupied territories of Palestine last week to participate in non-violent direct action against the Israeli occupation. Thomas Hanna, a 19 year-old founding member of FPN, details in his account his arrival at Amman, Jordan and his subsequent travel and tense entrance into Jerusalem.

Hanna plans to stay in Palestine for two weeks where he will be working with the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led human rights campaign where internationals use their privilege to protest and act in solidarity with Palestinian people. The ISM is currently moblizing against construction of Israel's "security fence," dubbed the Apartheid Wall. The wall is being built on Palestinian land, within its borders to isolate Palestinian people and illegally annex their land. Stay in touch with Richmond Indymedia to read more about Hanna and his experience with the ISM in its struggle to oppose and expose injustice in Palestine. Read: Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

The state of Virginia executed its second inmate of the year, Bobby Swisher, on Tuesday. As the country's leading per capita death penalty punisher, Virginia has executed 89 people since national reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, 43 people were African-American, 3 of international origin and the rest white. Virginia sets up multiple barriers for death row inmates to defend themselves, including the notorious 21-day rule, which prevents state courts from reviewing newly discovered evidence 21 days after intial sentencing.

Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty demonstrated against the execution of Swisher Tuesday. Since 1991, VADP has organized against the state killings of prisoners. On the day of Swisher's death by lethal injection, the group met with the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and performed street theater on state capitol grounds. A call has been issued to join VADP and prevent unjust and inhumane executions like that of Swisher.

 
 

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RICHMOND RADICAL NEWS BRIEFS: Free Palestine Now! in the West Bank and death penalty opponents protest Swisher execution

http://www.palsolidarity.org/pictures/img_22Jul03_TulkaremNealCassidy.jpg Another member of Virginia Commonwealth University's Free Palestine Now! entered the occupied territories of Palestine last week to participate in non-violent direct action against the Israeli occupation. Thomas Hanna, a 19 year-old founding member of FPN, details in his account his arrival at Amman, Jordan and his subsequent travel and tense entrance into Jerusalem.

Hanna plans to stay in Palestine for two weeks where he will be working with the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led human rights campaign where internationals use their privilege to protest and act in solidarity with Palestinian people. The ISM is currently moblizing against construction of Israel's "security fence," dubbed the Apartheid Wall. The wall is being built on Palestinian land, within its borders to isolate Palestinian people and illegally annex their land. Stay in touch with Richmond Indymedia to read more about Hanna and his experience with the ISM in its struggle to oppose and expose injustice in Palestine.

The state of Virginia executed its second inmate of the year, Bobby Swisher, on Tuesday. As the country's leading per capita death penalty punisher, Virginia has executed 89 people since national reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, 43 people were African-American, 3 of international origin and the rest white. Virginia sets up multiple barriers for death row inmates to defend themselves, including the notorious 21-day rule, which prevents state courts from reviewing newly discovered evidence 21 days after intial sentencing.

Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty demonstrated against the execution of Swisher Tuesday. Since 1991, VADP has organized against the state killings of prisoners. On the day of Swisher's death by lethal injection, the group met with National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and performed street theater on state capitol grounds. A call has been issued to join VADP and prevent unjust and inhumane executions like that of

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