Struggles against Global Aquaculture: Ongoing Conflict between Coastal Communities and Fishmeal Factories in The Gambia

In June, 2018, I protested alongside locals to plead with the Gambian government to mitigate the ongoing conflict between a fishmeal factory and Sanyang village residents. The Nassim factory processes sardinella into feed stock, a flour-type material, for the Chinese aquaculture (fish farming) industry. The protest demonstrates how the global aquaculture food chain negatively impacts local and poor communities, while simultaneously feeding global and more wealthy communities cheaply. Continue reading

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The Pandemic and Pro Wrestling

In the November, 2019 Public i, I wrote about one of the earliest gig economies: professional wrestling. There, independent pro wrestler David Starr discussed the incredibly imbalanced power dynamics of the corporate wrestling scene in America.

While watching corporations and states favor profits over science and labor in their plans to reopen during the COVID-19 crisis, I was reminded of a quote from our interview: “When your number-one priority is maximizing profit over taking care of your people … that’s when you get this idea that the people at the top … can collect tens of millions of dollars in bonuses but they can’t seem to write paychecks that afford somebody the ability to live.”

His remark perfectly sums up the dynamics of how the largest corporate pro-wrestling entity in America—World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)—is handling the pandemic. Continue reading

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Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center Offers Digital Venue Space and Community with its Sounds Like Community Web Series

The UC-IMC has always been a popular venue space for performances of all kinds, from spoken word poetry to live music, to art shows, plays and much more. But when the pandemic struck, the IMC Board of Directors was forced to close the building to the public.

This however did not stop members of the IMC’s Programming Committee. They were determined to continue to offer a space for performers and local artists to thrive and for community to happen, even if that space was digital.

Sounds Like Community, a weekly community night Wednesdays at 7 pm, was the result of this process. Running for over eight weeks at the time of this writing, SLC has since served as an excellent source of exactly what it was meant to be. It provides a space for us to come together weekly even though we’re all apart, a place to share with one another the talents, skills and discussions that make us all human. And you can be a part of it! Every Wednesday at 7 pm, until the IMC re-opens, Sounds Like Community will be there. Go to www.ucimc.org/slc to check out past shows and get info on what’s next for the series.

Janelle Pleasure performs for Sounds Like Community on Wednesday, May 13

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Support the Eastern Illinois Foodbank

With so many unemployed, the demands on our local food bank are greater than ever. The Editorial Collective of the Public i urges you to help those in need by donating to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, 2405 N. Shore Dr., Urbana, Il, 61802; eifoodbank.org.

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Urbana Civilian Police Review Board Under the Spotlight After Violent Arrest

For the past seven Urbana City Council meetings, residents have lined up to deliver what has amounted to several hours of criticism and dozens of misconduct allegations against the Urbana Police Department. Sparked by the violent arrest of an Urbana resident captured on video by vigilant civilians, this incident has brought the most prolific and persistent public presence to City Council in years.

A common theme recited by many: where does our Civilian Police Review Board stand in this picture? Unfortunately, unless someone who was physically present manages to file a complaint, Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin claims that the civilian board has no power to review the incident.

The Urbana Civilian Police Review board, frequently shortened to “CPRB”, was created in 2007 thanks to local grassroots efforts. Unfortunately, the ordinance ultimately passed by City Council was not exactly what the founders had in mind. Much of the investigative and disciplinary powers of the board were stripped away from the initial proposal, leaving the CPRB in a state that some residents have called a “rubber stamp” for the police department. Continue reading

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GEO Open Letter Concerning Student Healthcare Access Passes 200 Signatures

On Wednesday, May 12, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) Local #6300 AFT/IFT/AFL-CIO representing graduate employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sent an open letter to university administrators with over 200 signatures. In addition to being signed by the Campus Faculty Association and the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition, about half the 200 individual signers were faculty at UIUC.

The letter calls on the administration to cover summer healthcare costs for all employees and revoke the planned 33 percent insurance premiums hike set to impact graduate and undergraduate students this fall. The delivery of the open letter comes on the heels of a car rally on May 1 and a call-in event on April 24 during which the GEO phone-banked the offices of the administration calling for the same demands to be met.

On May 1st, the GEO organized a car rally calling on the university administration to provide summer health care for graduate workers and drop plans to increase student health insurance premiums by 33% this fall. Photo by Ben Joseph Lash

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