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They’re calling it “the winter that wasn’t” – another record-setting year of low snowfalls and warm temperatures which seems now to have jumped from our prolonged November right into June. Sure, Hamilton had it better than most – we didn’t see our rivers freeze solid or watch whole towns get lifted off the map by tornadoes, but a snowless Canadian winter is no less dramatic. Hamilton has already seen our first smog day before the end of our traditional snowstorm season. Whatever the cause or the consequences, it now seems official that winter is over.

At the end of last fall much of the Northern Hemisphere was in revolt, between the Occupy Movement in North America and the widespread austerity protests in Europe. Though coordinated police actions played a big role in shutting this down, one can’t avoid the conclusion that weather played just as large a role. Even marching in below-zero temperatures can be bone-chilling, and attempting to “occupy” a park can be downright dangerous. In weather like this, however, those actions can be downright enjoyable.

North America is now witnessing a re-awakening. Occupy Wall Street recently returned to Zucotti Park for their six-month anniversary, only to be evicted by police. A small group is now attempting to occupy Union Square. Occupy St. Louis saw mass arrests and truncheons when protesters tried to march away from a park eviction. Occupy Miami protesters staying at a local apartment building found themselves at the end of assault rifles held by foul-mouthed federal agents. Elsewhere, the Quebec student strike continues to rage, especially after one youth may have been blinded in one eye by a concussion grenade from police. Last week, of course, also saw Montreal’s yearly protest (riot) against police brutality, as riotous as ever in light of this tragedy. Montreal police also brought in the riot squad yesterday to clear picketing, laid off, Aveos workers. Canada has also seen widespread protests against the Harper government and his Robocall Scandal as well as the new proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline from the Tar Sands to the BC coast. Huge parts of Italy are in revolt, largely focusing on a proposed high-speed rail line running from Lyon to Turin. The NO-TAV Movement has spread to many cities and throughout the countryside, coming to represent the many frustrations of the Italian people with the EU and their own government on a wide array of issues. Even China is again seeing unrest over Tibet. Oh, and there are General Strikes planned for Portugal (tomorrow) and Spain (next week).

It isn’t over.

In the year since the Arab Spring, and it’s now clear that it’s not just the Arabs, and it wasn’t just that spring. Every act of defiance and repression has only galvanized others, spreading virally through the world’s new digital nerve centres. Traditional kinds of resistance many thought were long-dead have returned all over the globe. Squatting, occupations of public (and private) spaces, general strikes, massive street protests and even outright revolutions. Russia, China, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa have all been gripped, making this the largest wave of protests in generations. As springtime comes again, in a stunningly beautiful and frightening manner, we can only expect it to spread further.

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