Human rights, energy crisis action, private jets ban? (What’s Happening newsletter 25/08/22)

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The hidden forces pushing change in our democracy and rights

The UK’s imminent exit from the European Convention on Human Rights is defended in speeches claiming that human rights might somehow interfere with democracy and the will of the people.

In the wake of comments by Home Secretary Priti Patel, Attorney General Suella Braverman, and the two Conservative candidates vying to become our next Prime Minister, Real Media shines a light on the unaccountable policy makers who are pushing these agendas.

Read the full article here.

Can’t Pay, Don’t Pay!

On 26 August, Ofgem will announce the rise in the energy price cap. Citizens Advice forecasts that 1 in 4 people in the UK will not be able to pay their energy bills from October, leaving 13 million in the red. Campaign group Don’t Pay is asking people to sign a pledge not to pay so that we can all work in solidarity to protest government inaction and policy – a sort of digital poll tax rebellion. Once there are a million refusals the campaign will go ahead, so no-one will be alone. The campaign is also calling for a day of action on Friday 26 August.

A ban on private jets?

A French minister, Clemént Beaune, is meeting with his European counterparts in October with a proposal to limit or ban private jet flights. His announcement follows pressure from campaigners who have set up social media accounts tracking billionaires’ air travel and exposing their ‘ecocidal lifestyles’.

Just last week, the I Fly Bernard Twitter account showed LVMH CEO Bernard Arnoult’s private jet flew three times in one day, releasing 22 tons of CO2 – the equivalent of an average car’s use over a decade.

The Green leader Julien Bayou also announced he would be tabling a bill in the French parliament to ban private jet flights, saying it would have an “impact on a small number of people, with immense ecological benefits”.

Other News

  • It’s now been six months since Russia invaded Ukraine. According to the UN human rights office (the OHCHR), the conflict has killed over 5,000 civilians so far. And one sector benefiting heavily from the suffering is the arms industry. BAE Systems, for example, has hit a record high stock price during the war. Its stocks shot up at the start of the invasion and have remained high ever since. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have had similar experiences.
  • The struggle of Amazon workers for fairer conditions continues over in the US. For example, over a hundred workers at the important San Bernardino, California, warehouse staged a walkout on 17 August. They had previously called for better pay and more dignified working conditions, to no avail. Meanwhile, over in Albany, New York, warehouse workers are seeking to form a union to protect themselves from poor working conditions. They have reportedly faced hostility since stepping up their fight. And this seems to be part of the company’s strategy, as it has also targeted other pro-union workers since the inspiring victory of the Amazon Labor Union earlier this year.
  • There is an ongoing water war in northern Syria, due to NATO member Turkey’s continued occupation of the region. Turkish-backed occupying forces have reportedly been disrupting the clean drinking water supply for around 460,000 civilians since late July. This kind of tactic has been going on for three years now, with significant humanitarian consequences. Subsequent water rationing has meant that people sometimes receive drinking water only once every three weeks. Turkey and its controversial proxy forces have killed and displaced many thousands of civilians with their strategy of invading, occupying, and ethnically cleansing northern Syria in recent years. Turkish drones, meanwhile, continue a campaign of terror which, in a fresh attack on 18 August, killed four girls at a UN-affiliated educational centre for children.
  • In Mexico, a truth commission has reported back on the shocking massacre of 43 trainee teachers in 2014. It has concluded that this was a “state crime”, involving political and ‘law enforcement’ officials, in collaboration with drug criminals. It also highlights the cover-up efforts of the government at the time. Elsewhere in Mexico, communities continue to resist the selling-off of land and natural resources. In the tourist town of Tepoztlán, for example, residents have been hitting the streets to defend the environment from commodification.
  • Hospitality workers in Glasgow took successful direct action recently, securing better conditions after they “marched on the boss”. Over in Edinburgh, meanwhile, council waste workers have been on strike since 18 August. And in a second wave of action, their colleagues in 13 other council areas are set to strike from 24 August.


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