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Plans for Women's Jail May Meet an Early Fate: Statewide Coalition Calls for Moratorium on New Jails
Hampden.jpgAUDIO: The state wants to build a new women's jail to replace part of the existing Hampden County jail. The Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition, a group that works on drug policy and rehabilitation, held a press conference last week to raise objections to the construction of the proposed Chicopee women's jail in western Massachusetts. People spoke out about the overwhelming number of prisoners charged with drug-related crimes, the racial dynamics of incarceration in Massachusetts, and the misuse of state funds for what they feel is an unnecessary new jail. They called for a moratorium on all new jail and prison construction in Massachusetts.
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18 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Organizing : Race : Social Welfare
Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
pic2.jpgOn July 16, 2005, a picket line of workers took over the entrance of Proman Manufacturing Company to protest unfair labor practices by this 61-year-old sportswear manufacturing company in Chinatown. Its owner, Joseph Proman, recently confirmed the company will be closing by the end of July and laying-off all of its 40-plus Chinese and Latino workers without severance pay.

Alice Leung, community organizer for the Chinese Progressive Association Workers Center (CPAWC), said that Mr. Proman did not give any formal notice to its workers who learned the company is moving to China from one of their supervisors. Since then, CPAWC and the American Friends Service Committee have helped Proman Co. workers organize themselves to defend their labor rights and be treated with dignity.
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18 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Globalization : Human Rights : Labor : Organizing
Somerville Art Fest Excludes Palestinian-Rights Divestment Group
On Wednesday July 6th in the afternoon Christina received an email from the director of the Somerville Arts Council indicating that Somerville Divestment Project would not be allowed to participate in this year's festival to occur on July 16th

On Thursday, in a phone call to the Somerville Arts Council, made while Somerville Divestment Project members were present, the mayor indicated that SDP would not be allowed to participate in this years ArtBeat Festival.

SDP's rights to participate in a community group along with other cultural, artistic and political groups was short-circuited by the mayor of Somerville Joe Curtatone. This issue may raise concerns about first amendment issues, and equal protection under the law. Legal officials have been contacted by SDP on this matter.
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13 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights
CORI Checks Haunt Millions in Massachusetts
Around 2 million people in Massachusetts have criminal records that are accessible by potential employers, public housing officials, and sometimes any member of the public. Last Wednesday, the local Union of Minority Neighborhoods kicked off a campaign to change the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system by holding a public organizing meeting. In this radio piece, Ronald -- a Boston native who's spent 25+ years in jail -- talks about the difficulties, underlying racism, and possible reforms to CORI checks in Massachusetts.
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11 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Race
Food Not Bombs Holds 25th Anniversary Gathering in Philly
Audio: Philadelphia was recently the home of the 25th anniversary gathering of an international, grassroots, volunteer-run free-food project called Food Not Bombs. Food not bombs shares free food in cities all around the country – from Portland, to New York, to San Antonio – by rescuing waste from markets and redistributing it to hungry people. Homefries in Boston has more on the gathering -- including several interviews -- in the posted mp3.
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26 Jun 2005 Modified: 27 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Politics : Social Welfare
In Philadelphia, Biotech Devils Gone Home, Protesters Still in Jail - Update
5015.jpgAs the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) held their June 19-22 international corporate convention in downtown Philadelphia, people from across the country converged to bring attention to BIO's closed-door agenda of medicine for profit, genetically engineered agriculture and bioweapons proliferation.

Philly Indymedia reported that as many as 13 people got arrested, including one minor. Seven of them are still in jail with outrageous jail bails bonds ranging from 9,000 to 100,000 dollars.

While chasing protesters in front of the Convention Center, Philadelphia Police Officer Paris Williams had a cardiac arrest and passed away. According to both demonstrators and police, he was not involved in the scuffle.

SEE FULL ARTICLE FOR UPDATES
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23 Jun 2005 Modified: 24 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights
Why We Were Arrested
Yesterday afternoon, as I tried to make my middle aged bones accommodate the uncompromising metal cot in my jail cell on the men’s block of the Cambridge police station, I found old New England and national history floating through my mind. During the 1848 U.S. invasion of Mexico, Emerson had asked Throreau, (who had refused to pay war taxes), what he was doing in jail. And, as we learned in school, Thoreau’s response was what was Emerson doing outside the bars.

Many of my friends and colleagues from the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker-based peace, justice, reconciliation and development organization, had joined a peaceful protest on the city’s centuries old common. Two of us, a photographer friend, and four younger activists ended up in the slammer.

What happened? Last Thursday evening, a friend called with news that it had just been announced that a Blackhawk helicopter, the Under Secretary of the Army and a lot of other military hullabaloo would be descending on Cambridge Common, ostensibly to celebrate the Army’s 230th anniversary. Interestingly, the Army hadn’t bothered to show up to celebrate the 200th or 225th anniversaries!) What the military, desperate for recruits, had in mind was an extravaganza to reignite its sagging recruitment efforts. Finding it nearly impossible to recruit young men and women to kill and to die as occupiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military was anxious to gin up its system. By coming to Cambridge, after years of being unwanted here, the military wanted to show that it was on the offensive. The piece de resistance would come at night with the televised induction of new army recruits in Fenway Park, the home of the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Had Leni Riefenstahl risen from the dead to produce more military propaganda?
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16 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Human Rights : International
Opinion: America's Corporate Benedict Arnolds
BENDICT.jpg“That’s un-American” is the cry heard whenever the unwritten code of American values is breached, Compassion, fairness and equal opportunity are hallmarks, and although you might not be able to recite chapter and verse of the code, you know when it is broken.

On this the 204th anniversary of the death of Benedict Arnold, one of America’s most famous traitors, it’s time to consider whether some of America’s largest corporations that pay little or no federal taxes, have indeed become traitors.

Large corporations are in full retreat from paying their fair share of taxes. In 2003, corporations paid just 7% of the cost of the US government, according to a study by Citizens for Tax Justice.

It wasn’t always this way. At the end of the Second World War, a time when paying taxes was viewed as a patriotic duty, corporations paid half the cost of the federal government. Even as recently as the 1970s, corporate taxes accounted for 20% of federal treasury receipts.
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16 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Politics : Social Welfare
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