It would be dishonest of me to say that I recommend watching PETA Asia’s video exposing the barbaric methods employed by Chinese laborers in the manufacture of angora fabrics. Even by the standards of animal cruelty investigative videos, PETA Asia’s footage is hard to watch. If you’re not prepared to see it for yourself, allow this description to suffice: bunny rabbits are shown strapped to boards, having their fur torn out at the roots by hand until they’re bald, screaming throughout the entire agonizing process. Then they’re thrown into solitary cages where they live out their short, miserable lives, going through the same torture every two months until their throats are finally slit.
The good news is that if you want to take a step toward ending these horrific practices, watching the video isn’t the most important thing you can do. The important thing is to do is this: boycott angora.
I live with two pet bunny rabbits, so my sympathy for the species is personal. Here’s what I know from my experience: Rabbits are highly social creatures, with much more distinct and idiosyncratic personalities than most people would expect. They crave affection, from each other and from their human companions. They experience pain and fear. And under normal circumstances, they never, ever scream.
It’s easy enough to blame China, from which 90 percent of the world’s angora fur is sourced, for the horrors visited upon angora rabbits and other domesticated animals at their end of the industrial supply chain (and even easier to ignore what takes place at ours). As in the United States at the turn of the 20th century and England in the late 1800s, the breakneck pace of Chinese industrialization has generated both enormous wealth and massive poverty and desperation. It’s a society in a stage of anarchic capitalism. Just as there are few labor protections in China for capitalism’s human victims, there are no animal welfare rules whatsoever.
But pointing the finger solely at China elides the fact that it’s Americans whose purchasing habits are being served by this cruelty. Angora sweaters may end up on store shelves in a few high-end retail outlets in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but for the most part, they’re headed to your local J. Crew store. Angora fabrics are being made for the luxury tastes of American consumers and the profits of American retailers.
That doesn’t just put the moral responsibility back on us — it also puts us in a position to demand change.
We can no more write new Chinese laws to curtail these abuses than we can enter Chinese factories and release suffering rabbits from their cages. But we can do one thing to make a difference, right this minute: Boycott angora.(more…)
Yesterday, the world’s tinfoil fringe thanked its various deities for the fact that their gross misunderstanding of the Mayan belief system did not in fact bring the world to an end. In Mexico itself, meanwhile, tens of thousands of people acknowledged a much more worldly significance to the date: the eve of the anniversary of the Acteal massacre 15 years ago.
On December 22, 1997, close to four years after the armed insurrection by the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) against the government of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), militants allied with the PRI crept into a poor Indian village in Chiapas State whose residents were known to be sympathetic to the Zapatista movement. There, they gunned down 45 defenseless civilians while they prayed for peace in a chapel, among them 21 women — five of them pregnant — and 15 children.
Last year, relatives of victims of the massacre, under anonymity, filed suit in U.S. court against then-president Ernesto Zedillo for crimes against humanity (Zedillo currently lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale, serving as director of the Center for the Study of Globalization). The suit contends that Zedillo’s administration walked away from peace accords signed in 1996 and resorted to a military crackdown after a report from Chase Manhattan Bank counseled the Mexican government “to eliminate the Zapatistas.” Zedillo, the complaint alleges, had knowledge of and promoted the formation of the paramilitary group that carried out the slaughter, then covered up his involvement after the massacre. (Some allege that the case is part of a political vendetta against Zedillo, speculating the involvement of his predecessor, Carlos Salinas de Gortari.)
The U.S. State Department has recommended immunity for Zedillo in the case.
After 12 years out of power, this month marked the return of the PRI to the National Palace in Mexico City, in the person of newly elected President Enrique Peña Nieto. His inauguration two and a half weeks ago was received with massive street protests by thousands of people all over the city, including violent confrontations between hundreds of protesters and police immediately outside the barricades erected around the Legislative Palace to protect the new regime from an anticipated civil uprising and to prevent disruption of the ceremonies.
Yesterday, thousands of Zapatistas donned the movement’s trademark black ski masks and converged on the centers of cities, towns and villages all over Chiapas to memorialize the massacre and demonstrate opposition to the PRI’s return to power.
EZLN groups in this action have gathered by foot and by bus into the municipal centers of Ocosingo, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Las Margaritas, and Palenque among others. Preliminary estimates project a total possible mobilization of 30 to 50 thousand people from the Los Altos and Jungle regions of Chiapas. The action was nonviolent and extremely orderly. Men, women, and children wore black hoods covering their face, with a red bandana around their necks and green, white, and red ribbons, well known as the three colors of Mexico’s flag. ‘Subcommandante’ Marcos, the famous and outspoken public relations officer for the EZLN, did not make a presence.
Yesterday marked the end of the Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new cycle. It may also have marked the beginning of a new cycle of resistance in Chiapas to the resurrected hegemony of the PRI.
Earth Liberation Front activist Daniel McGowan, who was the subject of last year’s Oscar-nominated documentary “If A Tree Falls,” has been released from federal prison after seven years.
McGowan was one of a dozen underground environmental and animal rights activists with the ELF and its sister movement, the Animal Liberation Front, who were swept up in a two year, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional investigation called ‘Operation Backfire,’ which culminated in a series of high-profile arrests and prosecutions at the end of 2005 and beginning of 2006. (Two weeks ago, Rebecca Rubin, one of the three remaining fugitives in the investigation, turned herself in at the U.S.-Canada border.) The activists were charged with committing a series of arsons and other property crimes against numerous targets that they deemed to be agents of environmental destruction and animal exploitation, including U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, a horse slaughterhouse, a dairy farm, lumber company facilities, SUV dealerships, wild horse corrals, a university horticultural research center, a meat company, and, most famously, the Vail Ski Resort.
Though none of the crimes targeted people nor resulted in human death or injury, the Justice Department wasted little time in publicly declaring the arrestees “terrorists.” At a 2006 press conference announcing the defendants’ indictments, FBI Director Robert Mueller referred to perpetrators of environmental and animal rights-related crimes as one of the agency’s “highest domestic terrorism priorities.” Congress passed legislation that year specifically singling out animal rights activists for enhanced criminal penalties, classifying property crimes against industries that exploit animals and even, in some contexts, First Amendment activities directed at agents of those industries, as “terrorism.” No such special legislation has ever been passed to selectively brand white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists, anti-immigrant vigilantes and right-wing militias — all of which have targeted, injured and killed humans — as terrorists.
McGowan was detained in two different prisons, both of them belonging to a category of new experimental facilities called “Communications Management Units,” or CMUs (he also spent a brief period of his incarceration in general population). CMUs were built to contain low-level terrorists rounded up in the War on Terror; most of their prisoners are alleged to be connected to Islamic networks. They are designed to severely restrict and control the amount and nature of inmates’ communications with the outside world, earning them the nickname among inmates and prison staff of “Little Guantanamo,” according to journalist Will Potter. For several years, their existence was kept secret. There are only two CMUs in the United States, in Illinois and Indiana; McGowan served time in both.
For the next six months, McGowan will be living in a halfway house in New York City, and then be under supervised release for three years.
ELF and ALF activists have been demonized by prosecutors, politicians, law enforcement officers and the media as terrorists, sociopaths, ordinary criminals hiding behind an ideology or, at best, naïve kids with overly romantic notions of what it means to fight for a cause. However, a more disinterested, less agenda-driven observer might recognize the near inevitability of their movement’s dialectical emergence out of a prevailing political culture that has stubbornly refused to even begin to address some of the most dire and vexing problems facing every living thing on the planet. When mainstream political institutions fail to rise to the scale and urgency of epochal crises like global warming, deforestation or massive species extinction —in some cases, even failing to acknowledge their reality — among those who understand what’s at stake, there will be some who are driven to desperate acts.
The ELF and ALF could never be the solution to the problems they point to, but neither are they merely incidental to them: radical movements tend to be harbingers of the struggles to come when ossified political systems bury their heads in the sand rather than measure up to the profound challenges they face and to their own internal contradictions. Rather than vilify McGowan as a terrorist or mythologize him as a martyr for the earth, we should consider his story for what it tells us about a civilization so blind to its circumstances that it provokes individuals to engage in extreme political acts and risk serving years in Little Guantanamos in order to do something to stem an unfolding catastrophe.
Ca’Linda was locked up in a Kentucky county jail on a drug charge when a captain on the corrections staff demanded to see her naked. That was the first abuse. It got worse, quickly.
The captain knew Ca’Linda had an infant daughter, so he didn’t have to use physical force. He just had to threaten to transfer her to a facility where she would never be able to see her daughter again. That was the leverage he used to force Ca’Linda to submit to his routine visits to her cell, where he would fondle her and, eventually, rape her.
Ca’Linda did what most inmates do not: she lodged a complaint. But after an investigation affirmed her charges, Ca’Linda’s rapist wasn’t fired. He was given the option to resign.
Ca’Linda was transfered to another facility. There, the sexual abuse began again. As before, the perpetrator was an officer on the correctional staff, this time a lieutenant. And as before, demands to see her naked quickly escalated into physical assault. When Ca’Linda reported her second abuser, the pattern repeated itself: rather than being terminated, he was suspended, then re-assigned to another part of the facility. Eventually he was fired for a sexual offense involving someone else.
Today, Ca’Linda, who was also abused as a child, is emotionally and psychologically crippled. Her abusers walk free. There is little that is remarkable in this story. It’s simply the day-to-day reality of the American prison system.
More than 200,000 inmates are sexually abused every year in American jails and prisons, usually by corrections staff, often routinely. Typically they are targeted for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or in some other way vulnerable and alone. Their lives are shattered by the long-term consequences of rape: PTSD, depression, drug addiction and suicidal ideation.
Boa Smith was imprisoned when she was 20 years old. She’s spent the majority of her life so far behind bars. “The officers did what they wanted,” Smith says. “They sexually harassed us all the time – exposing themselves, trying to coerce us into sex with them, pulling blankets off us at night to see if they could catch us without clothes. They just laughed about it. It was part of life.”
One day, Smith was raped by an officer in the walk-in freezer. She sat down on a palette of ice cream and cried, which at the time was all she could really do. “Back then you didn’t get help,” she says. “You just shut up and dealt with it.”
“It’s hard to describe what it’s like to live with that kind of fear,” she continues. “It was with me all the time. I could feel it in my gut. I was on my guard 24 hours a day, ready to defend my life. I had to be. Those officers could do anything they wanted to me, and I knew it.”
Just Detention International is a human rights organization devoted to ending the epidemic of sexual assault behind bars. JDI seeks remedies in long-term policy changes; in the short term, it facilitates outreach to prisoners to help them cope with their anguish.
A large part of the emotional trauma of sexual assault is the fact or the perception of being socially isolated. The sense that one is alone in one’s suffering is common among survivors of rape in the outside world; behind bars, that sense is compounded by the reality of both physical and social seclusion. It’s nearly impossible to heal when you’re completely alone in your pain.
Every holiday season, JDI organizes a holiday greeting card campaign, inviting members of the public to write a sentence to an inmate who has suffered from sexual abuse, letting them know that they are not beyond the reach of human empathy. These cards save lives — literally. JDI has heard from scores of inmates who were brought back from the brink of suicide simply by receiving a holiday card from a compassionate stranger, or were encouraged to stand up for themselves.
“When I decided that I was going to do something about what had happened to me, I knew it was going to be a hard fight,” explains Joe, a formerly incarcerated rape survivor. “Hearing that strangers cared about me was what gave me the backbone to keep going and keep fighting.”
This year, JDI aims to collect 10,000 cards. It takes no more work to fill one out than it takes to write a tweet; as on Twitter, the limit to each message is 140 characters, and you can fill it out online, at JDI’s website. Volunteers transcribe every electronically submitted note into a hand-written holiday card, which is then delivered to a rape survivor behind bars.
These cards will not end the ongoing and systemic crisis of rape in the criminal justice system. But for their recipients, they will help resolve the immediate emotional crises they face as individual survivors of sexual assault, alone in prison during the holidays — crises that will otherwise lead to withdrawal, depression, and possibly suicide. It’s the smallest effort one could possibly make that could actually result in saving a life.
Smith’s life was transformed by JDI’s advocacy, and now she’s beginning it anew. “This holiday season, for the first time in almost 30 years, I’ll be celebrating with friends and family on the outside,” says Smith. “I was granted parole back in June, and I was released last week. I know that there are thousands of men and women, just like me, who are struggling to heal from sexual abuse and who need to know that they haven’t been forgotten, and that their voice matters.”
Visit JDI to spend 60 seconds helping to save a life.
Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, took office last Saturday in a day of inaugural festivities punctuated by violent clashes between police and protesters in the streets beyond the steel wall erected to shield the Legislative Palace from anticipated unrest.
Hundreds of protesters smashed windows of stores and banks in Mexico City and threw Molotov cocktails over the barricades, denouncing the election, which was tainted by allegations of massive fraud, as illegitimate. Police attacked protesters with tear gas, water cannons and rubber-coated bullets. At least 76 people were injured in the mêlée, 29 of them hospitalized, according to the Associated Press, including one student protester who was in critical condition.
Inside the legislative chambers, the new president was greeted with jeers from some members of Congress. Before an audience that included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Peña Nieto ushered in a restoration of political rule by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, a party with a seven decade-long history of corruption, fraud and authoritarian control of Mexico before its hegemonic rule over the country was first broken twelve years ago.
Think Progress reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that police can secretly videotape the inside of your home without a warrant.
The case involves an undercover officer who entered a suspect’s home under false pretenses (claiming to be an interested buyer of contraband bald eagle feathers and pelts), carrying a concealed video camera. The footage from that camera was used as evidence in the suspect’s prosecution.
The suspect claimed that the method for gathering the footage constituted a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights and that the evidence should have been suppressed. The court ruled that because what was revealed to the undercover officer during his visit was in plain sight, the fact that he was secretly recording it is irrelevant.
Earlier this year, Iowa and Utah became the latest states to approve “Ag Gag laws” that criminalize undercover investigations of animal abuse on factory farms. When activists enter a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation under false pretenses (usually by getting hired) for the purpose of secretly videotaping the daily gratuitous atrocities committed against pigs, cows, chickens and other livestock, their conduct in states with Ag Gag laws is criminal. The FBI has recommended they be prosecuted as terrorists.
Cops lying about their identities and shooting undercover videos in your house = no problem.
Animal rights activists lying about their identities and shooting undercover videos of animal abuse on factory farms = terrorism.
Juicy Couture, the brand that built a fashion empire out of rhinestone-studded velour track suits with “Juicy” emblazoned across the ass, became a darling of animal lovers in 2008 when it pledged to go fur-free.
But on Saturday, Juicy Couture co-founder Pamela Skaist-Levy found the street outside her Beverly Hills home the site of a demonstration by dozens of animal rights protesters shaming her and her business partner Gela Nash-Taylor for trading in the pelts of foxes, raccoons and other animals that were raised in confinement and brutally killed for fashion industry profits.
Juicy Couture is still listed on the Humane Society’s website as a fur-free designer. But now Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor, who left the company two years ago, have a new fashion line out called Skaist Taylor which embraces fur with the same ostentatious aplomb with which Juicy showcases costume jewelry and the color pink.
The fur trade has been the object of protests and boycotts for decades for its horrific treatment of animals.
“Animals including fox, rabbits, mink, cheetah, and even dogs and cats are gassed, beaten, have their necks broken, are caught in steel-jaw leg hold traps and vaginally and anally electrocuted for their fur,” said animal rights attorney Shannon Keith, who produced a documentary on the fur industry called “Skin Trade”and was one of the campaigners behind West Hollywood’s ban on fur retail a year ago. “If someone were caught anally electrocuting a dog, they would be arrested and sent to prison for felony animal cruelty; however, because the fur industry is completely unregulated, those who control it get away with it.”
The demonstration Saturday was organized by two longtime anti-fur activists, Ellen Lavinthal and Jessica Schlueter. Lavinthal was one of the primary organizers behind the West Hollywood fur ban, and Schlueter helped launch a boycott of a major fur retailer.
At one time, Lavinthal, who lives in the neighborhood, was friends with Skaist-Levy. That relationship had already grown distant, but ultimately soured over Skaist-Levy’s decision to use fur as a centerpiece in her new Skaist Taylor line.
“I approached Pamela when she appeared on the front page of the L.A. Times wearing fur to promote her new line,” said Lavinthal. “The next day, my daughter and I reached out to her and dropped off a letter from my daughter asking her to stop using fur, as well as a copy of ‘Skin Trade‘ and some literature about the fur industry. I told her that I and the rest of the animal rights community would be glad to help promote her new line if she changed her mind about fur. A few weeks later, we gave her a petition with 33,000 names on it. When she didn’t do anything about it, we were left with no choice but to protest.”
Skaist Taylor’s press agent did not respond to repeated attempts to contact the company for comment.
Schlueter also had a falling out — not with the designer herself, but with the Juicy Couture brand. Like countless other young women around the world, in high school and college, Schlueter spent “hundreds, if not thousands of dollars” on Juicy clothes. The company’s image appealed to her: the story of two women with practically no resources starting a global brand out of their small L.A. apartment was irresistible. Juicy Couture’s pledge to go fur-free sealed her brand loyalty.
Now, Schlueter feels disappointed and betrayed, dismayed that all the money she spent on Juicy Couture clothes over the years had only helped further the careers of two fashion industry giants who then went on to become part of the multibillion dollar fur industry.
“I don’t think they are horrible people, I think they have spent years in a community that glamorizes fur and that mocks people who stand up against its inherent cruelty,” Schlueter explained.
Skaist Taylor has no physical stores, so the activists chose Skaist-Levy’s home residence as the site for their demonstration. Especially given its residential setting, the protest was conceived from the start as a calm, peaceful, educational action — no screaming in people’s faces or mixing it up with the cops.
But demonstrations in front of private homes are an inherently risky tactic for animal rights activists. Federal prosecutors have shown a willingness to classify “home demos” as acts of terrorism under the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that the fur trade and other animal-based industries lobbied for and which was written explicitly to criminalize certain protest tactics in animal rights campaigns that are Constitutionally protected in every other context. In 2009, the government indicted four Santa Cruz animal rights activists on terrorism charges for engaging in First Amendment activities, including protests in front of the homes of UC Santa Cruz vivisectors, claiming a connection between those actions and two 2008 firebombings of the car and the home of two UCSC scientists, crimes which remain unsolved. A federal judge threw out the indictments the following year for lack of specificity.
With about one bike cop for every three protesters, however, no tension was visible between law enforcement and activists at the demonstration on Saturday. Protesters restrained their passion with civility, aiming to reach the public instead of alienating it. A few Star Tours vans passing by slowed down for tourists to take pictures.
The organizers were pleased. “I’m beyond thrilled that this was one of the largest home demos ever in the United States,” said Leventhal. “The fact that so many people would give up their Saturdays and choose to be there really made a statement of how strongly they feel about the use of fur in fashion.”
Mexico’s President-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, has directed police to build barricades around the San Lázaro Legislative Palace in advance of his December 1 inauguration there, in case of civil unrest.
In July, Peña Nieto, the candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, won the presidential election against his left-wing opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, by 6.6 points, according to the official vote count. The announcement of Peña Nieto’s victory was immediately followed by a challenge to the election’s legitimacy. Lopez Obrador called the result “fraudulent,” accusing the PRI of buying at least 1 million votes and of exceeding the campaign finance limit. The PRI has a long history of corruption, repression and hegemonic one-party rule in Mexico.
In September, Lopez Obrador announced that he was stepping away from party politics to form a new political youth movement called “Morena,” dedicated to “peaceful civil resistance” to the new regime.
In May, in the middle of the campaign season, a student-based democratization movement called “Yo Soy 132″ emerged, which carried out repeated national mass protests in opposition to the PRI, Peña Nieto’s candidacy, and the media bias in favor of both. Yo Soy 132 was distrustful not only of the PRI’s authoritarian history, but of Peña Nieto’s conduct as Governor of the State of Mexico, where he oversaw a brutal crackdown on protesters who had blocked a highway in support of flower vendors who had been harassed by police. Two protesters were killed in the confrontation, and the police who carried out the crackdown are being investigated for allegedly molesting and raping 26 women.
Yo Soy 132 joined Lopez Obrador in contesting the election result after the vote count.
Popular resistance continues unchecked against the president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, who is perceived to have come into power through illegitimate means. In response to perceived threats from ‘radical groups,’ the state has barricaded off a 1.5 km. sector of the city surrounding the Legislative Palace in Sán Lázaro, in preparation for Peña Nieto’s inauguration on December 1st.
At least five metro stations have been closed off to the public for this purpose since last Sunday, three of which were re-opened after massive public outcry. The wall has become an epicenter for the expression of public anger, with large numbers of posters and writings pasted on the wall since it started to go up last week. The wall will also be the rallying point for a massive protest organized by the student resistance movement @YoSoy132, set to begin on November 30th.
Before there was MSNBC and Current TV, before there was The Huffington Post or The Daily Show, before there was the progressive blogosphere, before there was (and then wasn’t) Air America, there was Pacifica Radio.
Pacifica Radio was born out of the peace movement of the World War II era. It was founded in Berkeley, California by Lewis Hill, a Quaker, conscientious objector and news reporter who refused to broadcast state propaganda and wanted to start a media outlet that was not controlled by war profiteers. Hill founded KPFA in Berkeley in 1949. Ten years later, its sister station went on the air: KPFK in Los Angeles. Then over the next two decades came three more stations: WBAI in New York, KPFT in Houston, and WPFW in the nation’s capitol.
Over the nearly six and a half decades since KPFA’s founding, Pacifica Radio has been an unapologetic and uncompromising mouthpiece of the anti-war movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the anti-colonial movement, the women’s movement, the student movement, the free speech movement, the LGBT movement, the movement for a nuclear-free world, the anti-apartheid movement, the immigrant right’s movement, the Central American solidarity movement, the sanctuary movement, the environmental movement, the prisoners’ rights movement, the Occupy movement and the movement to get money and corporate influence out of American politics.
Over those years, Pacifica Radio brought the Beat poets to the public airwaves. It stood up to McCarthy and faced an investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee for Communist subversion. It sent volunteers to the South to cover the emerging Civil Rights Movement; the son of the network’s then-President was murdered along with two other activists while registering black voters in Mississippi as part of Freedom Summer. It showcased some of the world’s most prominent voices against the Vietnam War, and it put Seymour Hersch on the air breaking the story of the massacre at My Lai. It broadcast a live interview with Che Guevara. The KPFT radio tower was bombed twice by the Ku Klux Klan during its first year on the air. It saw internal strife and underwent a turbulent unionization drive by its staff (labor-management conflict at Pacifica persists today). It won journalism awards for its coverage of the Iran-Contra hearings and for Amy Goodman’s reporting for Democracy Now on massacres in East Timor by Indonesian occupying forces. It syndicated editorials from Mumia Abu-Jamal, “live from Death Row.” It covered the Zapatista uprising in Mexico. It broadcast interviews with alleged “eco-terrorists,” animal rights activists and anarchists before they were sent to jail for crimes of political dissent. It has served as an indispensable tool for activists and communities that lacked a political voice, both in the United States and abroad.
As a media outlet, Pacifica Radio’s impression upon American social and political history has been significant; its impact on progressive, left-wing activism has been practically unrivaled.
The above video was produced by my video production company, Dog Park Media, for the Pacifica Radio Archives. Housed in Los Angeles, the Archives preserves these voices of American history that were channeled through Pacifica’s studio microphones, into its broadcast towers and then through millions of living room radios, car stereos, and headphones all over the country. These voices include: Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Jane Fonda, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Rachel Carson, Betty Friedan, John Coltrane, Pete Seeger, Noam Chomsky, Bobby Kennedy, and hundreds more.
UPDATE(11:19 AM PT):After issuing a dispersal order to remove all students from the room, the Regents are voting on the budget now.
About 500 students are currently blockading entrances to the University of California Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco this morning, where the Regents are scheduled to vote on a budget that presumes a 24 percent across-the-board increase on UC tuitions over four years. Picketing students have pledged to shut the meeting down.
According to Charlie Eaton, one of the organizers of the protest and co-author of a report released this week that charged the Regents with employing exotic financial instruments that doubled the UC system’s debt load over three and a half years, as of 8:45AM PT only a third of the Regents have made it inside the building. About 100 students are inside, according to Eaton.
At Governor Jerry Brown’s prompting, yesterday the trustees of California’s State University system postponed a decision on fee hikes and the Regents backed off a plan to raise fees on UC professional school students. But major tuition hikes for all UC students remain on the table. The Regents have voted to increase tuitions in all but two of the last eleven years, this year being one of the two.
Last week, California voters passed Proposition 30, which raises taxes in part to stem tuition hikes in the state’s UC and CSU systems. Student organizing and activism played a major role in the success of the Prop 30 campaign. Yet in the very first meeting of the UC Regents following the measure’s passage, the battle over tuition hikes is continuing unabated.
“These proposed increases are totally unacceptable, especially given the fact that the Regents leveraged student tuition hikes to enter into reckless interest rate swaps that created a huge part of UC’s financial mess in the first place,” said Eaton. “There will be no business as usual today for the UC Regents.”