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Under the Radar
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Seven Books Tucson Teachers Can No Longer Have in Their Classrooms

Bending to state pressure to end its acclaimed Mexican-American Studies program—lest it lose state funding—the Tucson Unified School District went a step further by listing books that must be boxed up and removed from all classrooms. The books are Occupied America: A History of Chicanos; Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years; Critical Race Theory; Pedagogy of the Oppressed; Message to Aztlan; 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures; and Chicano! The History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement.

Hundreds of students walked out of school and marched in protest the day that the district’s decree went into effect. Sixty percent of Tucson schoolchildren are of Mexican-American descent.

Court Offers $355 Class in Free Speech to Arrested Los Angeles “Occupiers”

Many of the arrested Occupy L.A. protesters were offered a way to avoid going to court: pay $355 to a private legal services company for a lesson in free speech. After the LAPD staged a dramatic late-night eviction of Occupy L.A. in November 2011, 292 occupiers were arrested, charged with misdemeanors, and had their bail set at $5,000 per person.

The $355 private free speech class was offered to occupiers who had no prior offenses. In the past, according to the Los Angeles Times, arrested protesters with no prior offenses were only put through unofficial hearings and not subject to further trial proceedings. According to Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter, the class may include lectures from former judges and attorneys, and will instruct arrested protesters that “The First Amendment is not absolute.”

Albuquerque Holds “New Year’s Revolution” March

In an action that brought together labor, anti-war, immigrant rights, and community groups, around two hundred marchers passed through downtown Albuquerque on December 30, 2011. The march held mini-rallies in front of local banks, the offices of Lockheed Martin (because of its connection to the military-industrial complex), and the headquarters of the Albuquerque Police Department, which has received attention in recent years for acts of brutality. The action was initiated by the anti-capitalist working group of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque—renamed so in deference to the state’s Native American history—and received support from members of the City Council and the New Mexico Central Labor Council.

Organic Food Activists, Agribusiness, and Farmers Clash in Boulder, Colorado

Boulder County, Colorado has become the site of heated debate and competing protests, thanks to a policy that bans the cultivation of genetically-modified crops (GMOs) on public land leased to farmers. The ban has been championed by local activists who point out the potential health risks of GMOs, which may promote allergies and insert antibiotic-resistant genes into the food supply.

Agribusiness giants have also developed unprecedented power by patenting GMOs that dramatically increase output, thereby squeezing out or absorbing smaller competitors who must pay for the patented seed to keep up. Even farmers who refuse to plant GMOs have found themselves subject to expensive lawsuits if the patented GMO seeds from a neighboring farm are blown onto their land.

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The ban has been opposed by a group of local farmers who asked for an exemption to plant genetically-modified sugar beets, which they say produce year-round yields and allow them to remain competitive with other farmers. About 95 percent of national beet production uses GMOs—a market dominated by the Monsanto corporation.

While the anti-GMO crowd, supported by local health food businesses, had captured much of the public eye, a new protest group—consisting of at least some farmers—began to attend public hearings and hold street demonstrations demanding “co-existence” with GMOs. Anti-GMO activists claim the latter group, which emerged seemingly from nowhere with a high degree of organization, is funded and backed by Monsanto.

Montana Bucks Citizens United Trend

In December 2011, the Montana Supreme Court restored a century-old state ban on direct political contributions from corporations, which had been overturned by a lower court in the wake of last year’s controversial Citizens United decision. The Montana...

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