Romney is forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination --Four-time loser Romney comes in second to Rep. Kennedy | 20 Apri 2018 | Former GOP presidential candidate [Deep State dirt-bag] Mitt Romney failed to secure the Utah Republican Party's nomination for Senate on Saturday, triggering a June primary. In the second round of voting, state Rep. Mike Kennedy (R) won 50.88 percent of the vote, with Romney following with 49.12 percent, according to reports. Because neither candidate secured 60 percent, the two will head to a June statewide Republican primary.
Earth Day 2018 focuses on ending plastic pollution --'Choose one easily changeable plastic item that you can work to eliminate from your day-to-day life.' | 20 April 2018 | While some say every day is Earth Day, in actuality, Sunday, April 22 marks the official celebration of the world’s largest environmental movement. And how can one honour Mother Earth this weekend? Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager, Lilly Woodbury, said the international theme for Earth Day this year is ending plastic pollution. "With that in mind, I think people can take a pledge on Earth Day to eliminate a single-use plastic from their life," said Woodbury.
Flynn to campaign for Montana GOP Senate candidate | 21 April 2018 | President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn will campaign in Montana for Republican Senate candidate Troy Downing. Downing, one of four Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in the midterm elections, announced the news on Twitter on Friday. The candidate has aligned himself with Trump by backing the building of a border wall and the Republican tax law.
North Korea says will stop nuclear tests, scrap test site | 20 April 2018 | North Korea said on Saturday it would immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests, scrap its nuclear test site and instead pursue economic growth and peace, ahead of planned summits with South Korea and the United States. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country no longer needed to conduct nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile tests because it had completed its goal of developing the weapons, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. Kim is scheduled to hold talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week and with U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June.
Holistic Doctors Dying in Droves --Curing cancer would cost the National Cancer Institute over $5.5bn in 2018 alone. | 18 April 2018 | One of the more bizarre theories bouncing around Conspiracy Street is that doctors who practice and preach holism are dying in disproportionate numbers and under suspicious circumstances. With official rulings of suicide, each death has involved violence rather than natural causes...The Healing Oracle counts 98 holistic doctors found dead, as of December 6, 2017. The latest case in point is that of Dr. Norman Valdes Cotten Jr., 54. Police in Pontiac, Michigan, found his burnt remains in a red Cadillac parked at the closed Webster Elementary School at 10 am on April 2, 2018, after Waterford Regional firefighters extinguished the flames...According to Healthy, Wild and Free, there is a common element that ties all the victims together and may account for their deaths: "The alternative doctors that were killed were all studying and part of a huge discovery about Nagalase and its effect on GcMAF in the body…Nagalase is an enzyme produced by cancer cells that can cause immune deficiency and blocks the GcMAF activating factor in the human body." Another site, FirstImmune, adds this clarification: "GcMAF is the best treatment yet found for tumor cancers and 50 other diseases. It is a human protein, a human right, the king of immunotherapies and has no side effects." It is easy to see that a super-cure like GcMAF is a genuine threat to mainstream (read: ineffectual) cancer research and treatments. There is big money in not finding a cure for cancer.
By Bill Ritter, Jr., Colorado State University
Transforming U.S. energy systems away from coal and toward clean renewable energy was once a vision touted mainly by environmentalists. Now it is shared by market purists.Tags: renewable energyTrump Administration
Pompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel | 20 April 2018 | CIA Director Mike Pompeo is officially short of the votes needed to clear the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said Friday that "after carful consideration" he will oppose Pompeo's nomination to lead the State Department. With GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) opposed to the nomination, Trump's pick needed to pick up at least one Democrat to be able to win over a majority of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Justice Department Watchdog Probes Comey Memos Over Classified Information | 20 April 2018 | At least two of the memos that former FBI Director James Comey gave to a friend outside of the government contained information that officials now consider classified, according to people familiar with the matter, prompting a review by the Justice Department's internal watchdog. The Justice Department inspector general is now conducting an investigation into classification issues related to the Comey memos, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Comey has said he considered the memos personal rather than government documents. He has told Congress that he wrote them and authorized their release to the media "as a private citizen..."
I’ve lived in Evansville for the last decade. I like it here. I like that the city is small. I enjoy the street culture and social abandonment of folks day-drinking in empty lots, singing loudly to themselves without embarrassment, or having public sex, and I enjoy folks’ inventiveness, though it’s brought on by overwhelming need– “the mother of invention.”
I moved here indirectly from Newnan, Georgia. I have to work this weekend, but if didn’t, I’d be back in Newnan, down by its old remodeled square, much the style of Franklin Street in Evansville (not the warehouse area where they house prison laborers but gentrified Lamasco where the suburbanites come into town for the weekend to get drunk amongst themselves). I’d be back south in physical opposition against the neo-Nazi rally.
I have been texting back and forth with my family members in Newnan about the rally and how the town is reacting to it. I say “town,” but Newnan and Coweta County where it sits have both tripled in population since I first arrived there. When we first moved there about thirty years ago, there was a four-way crossing with a single gas station and a grocery store called Thomas Crossroads that has since become big enough to be its own town. Though bigotry is often associated with a “small town mentality,” modern capitalism tries to hide it in sprawling “revitalization.” I think you’d have to consciously disregard a lot of poor and brown people to believe in that facade.
A CNN article about Newnan’s preparation for the upcoming rally, ”A Small City in Georgia is Fighting Back Against Neo-Nazis in a Novel Way,” is an example of just such a disregard. Similarly to Evansville, in Newnan, the poorest neighborhoods and much of the city’s black and brown population are within walking distance to Newnan’s commercialized downtown. But these groups of people, some of the Nazis’ primary targets both historically and presently, are not referred to at all in CNN’s article. Much like the cities of Newnan and Evansville themselves, CNN focuses on the business owners and the commercial district, celebrating capitalism and ignoring those the system is designed to exploit and exclude.
The article states, “Many shop owners decided [to] shutter their doors,” and continues, “It’s a big financial hit for these local businesses, so residents have decided to do something about it. They’re urging each other to go shop on Friday to make up for the drop in revenue.”
This is almost solely the article’s topic for its entire length. It does touch on one attempt to tactically oppose the Nazis: “One non-profit, Backstreet Community Arts, is asking kids to come to the city park and cover it with chalk drawings of hearts, rainbows and flowers. ‘It will be hard for the hate group to take serious video footage when a rainbow-colored unicorn is in the shot,’ the group said.” That is the only action mentioned in the article that isn’t about people shopping.
I assume many of the people taking part in these activities advocated by the city are well meaning and feel like they’re helping. But it’s comments like this text message from my sibling that lead me to think people are being naive and assumptive regardless of their intentions: “it isn’t that [Nazi] group that causes fear…it’s the 4-5 bus loads of the other group counter acting them that does…can’t remember they’re name.” Another person from Evansville and I were both trying to make plans to be on those buses; it wouldn’t have been the first time I’ve gone with people from Evansville to physically confront a public Nazi rally.
The “other group” likely refers to Antifa (short for “anti-fascist”), which has long been used as a name for people who network in active opposition against the organization of fascism. It is not a group, strictly speaking, but a field within which to organize. It has historically been comprised of working-class and counter-cultural folks who inhabit multiple categories of “other,” and there are plenty of angles from which to critique it, including its stereotypical masculine approach. However, when I was gathered with Antifa in Pikeville, Kentucky, against the neo-Nazis there, it was empowering and striking to be amongst a visibly varied and queered group of people to contrast the monoculture of the neo-Nazi cis white males and the local police. There is something essential about racism revealed in Newnan’s prioritized fear of “that other [unknown] group” as opposed to fearing what is known about Nazism. The Nazis’ platform is to preserve the existing order and to accelerate it. Newnan’s primary concern is the maintenance of order as well.
I’ll conclude by commenting on how CNN’s article starts, with its title. There is nothing “novel” about the way Newnan is responding to fascism and the resistance to it. It is quite common for the places around Nazi gatherings to close up, and for the media and state to villainize anti-fascists. Furthermore, downtown areas all over America are organized to keep people compulsorily shopping to uphold the structural flow of money to a white minority. From June 8th to 10th of this year, Evansville will host Indiana’s Republican Convention, a statewide gathering of supporters of a political party and administration that has openly welcomed white supremacists. They will celebrate the normalizing of our downtown through their platform of dispossessing people of color, the poor, and those self-organized. Our power is in our common experiences, public infrastructure, and collective, grassroots organizations built around acknowledging our differences and specific needs. Dissent isn’t “novel” either, but we need new strategies and tactics to bring down the rise of the far-right and all those who try to rise above the rest of us.
Editor’s Note: For more on the April 2017 neo-Nazi gathering in Pikeville, Kentucky, see “Opposition Builds Against White Nationalist Conference in Pikeville, Kentucky” and “My Weekend with the Neo-Nazis.”
North Korea wants 'complete denuclearisation' and will not demand total withdrawal of US troops, says South Korea's president
North Korea wants 'complete denuclearisation' and will not demand total withdrawal of US troops, says South Korea's president --Country wants an end to 'hostile' policies and guarantee of safety, Moon Jae-in said | 19 April 2018 | North Korea has expressed its commitment to 'complete denuclearisation' of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions, the South Korean President has said. Moon Jae-in said on Thursday that the North is only requesting an end to 'hostile policies' against it and a guarantee of security in return. Speaking ahead of his summit with Kim Jong-un on April 27, Moon said he does not believe it would be difficult to reach an agreement between the North and the US...The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
US still paying White Helmets despite $200mn-aid freeze for Syria recovery, State Dept. confirms | 20 Arpil 2018 | As the US is reviewing funding aimed at helping war-ravaged Syria rebuild, it's not neglecting the White Helmets -- a controversial terrorist-linked group instrumental to the media campaign against Assad and Russia. At a Thursday press briefing, journalists asked US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert for an update on the late-March freeze of $200 million earmarked for the recovery of Syria -- and if that means Washington will be withholding payments to the White Helmets.
At least 12 taken to hospital during 4/20 festival in San Francisco | 20 April 2018 | At least twelve people have been transported to the hospital during 4/20 festivities in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. SFPD is looking into fentanyl as the possible cause of several medical emergencies. Officials said UCSF is treating two patients who overdosed from an unknown substance. They are both stable and under observation by the hospital.
CIA Operative Who Tortured, Destroyed CIA Torture Tapes, and Now Wants To Lead CIA Was "Cleared," Says CIA
Gina Haspel, who was in charge of a black site in Thailand where torture occurred and ordered the destruction of CIA tapes of the human rights violations, has been nominated to become director of the spy agency. (Photo: Central Intelligence Agency)
In what critics are calling a bald attempt to help Trump's controversial pick to lead the CIA get through a very difficult confirmation process, the CIA on Friday released a previously classified memo in which Gina Haspel was "cleared" of any wrongdoing when she destroyed more than 90 videotapes of agency operatives torturing human beings.
According to the Associated Press, which first reported the story, the CIA on Friday "gave lawmakers a declassified memo Friday showing [Haspel] was cleared years ago of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes showing terror suspects being waterboarded after 9/11."
Written by then-acting deputy director of the CIA Mike Morrell, the eight-page memo, as the Washington Post reports, "does not weigh in on questions about Haspel's involvement in the use of brutal interrogation methods at a black-site facility she supervised in Thailand. The memo does suggest, however, that there was general CIA support for the destruction of the tapes at the time Haspel drafted the 2005 memo, as officials were still heavily influenced by the experience of fallout from the 2004 scandal involving the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq."
Sen. Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California and member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, responded by saying that the CIA's memo should be seen for what it is: an attempt by the agency to release information that makes Haspel look good while continuing to block the release of information that might serve to incriminate her or hurt her chances for confirmation.
"It's completely unacceptable for the CIA to declassify only material that's favorable to Gina Haspel while at the same time stonewalling our efforts to declassify all documents related her involvement in the torture program," Feinstein stated.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) indicated the memo will do nothing to lessen his concerns and actually raises new ones.
"Unfortunately, the Morell report is highly incomplete, raising far more questions about Ms. Haspel than it answers," Wyden said in a statement. "My concerns about Ms. Haspel are far broader than this episode or anything else that has appeared in the press."
Staff attorneys for the ACLU -- which for years has been fighting for the CIA, the White House, and Congress to come clean about the government's torture program -- said the agency's memo on Haspel is the very least of what should be disclosed:
Internal CIA probe by former acting CIA director clears CIA official of wrongdoing.
Amazing, the things that get declassified!
Pointing to the Washington Post's version of the CIA memo regarding Haspel, journalist Glenn Greenwald responded by saying: "One of the most damaging aspects of the Trump presidency is how it's trained millions of newly politically engaged people to view the CIA and its leaders as noble and heroic. It's one of the most evil agencies on the planet."
This week, The Daily Beast's Spencer Ackerman reported on how former CIA lawyer John Rizzo says that Haspel did, in fact, run the agency's black site in Thailand.
Rizzo's 2014 book, reports Ackerman, "indicated that Haspel was responsible for the incommunicado detention and torture not of two men, but of dozens, potentially. Former intelligence officials interviewed by The Daily Beast have portrayed Haspel's experience similarly."
Gina Haspel's nomination as CIA Director is no typical nomination. This is whether or not your senator chooses to reward someone who oversaw a torture program in one of America’s darkest chapters. #BlockHaspel https://t.co/qQYPgV49ix pic.twitter.com/OBhndEjPlW— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) April 20, 2018
While human rights groups and progressives have been unified in the urgent effort to make sure Haspel's confirmation is defeated, even members of the national security establishment have been raising enormous concerns about Haspel.
"Try to get a job in a Fortune 500 company when you're known to have destroyed evidence," General Charles Krulak, a retired Marine Corps commandant and former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told AP. "We can't have a public or private sector where we just say 'Well, I was just following orders.' Golly day! Do you want that person to be director of the CIA?"
And despite the best efforts by Trump allies and the CIA itself to get Haspel approved by the Senate, one unidentified former intelligence official critical of the CIA's torture program told Ackerman it would be a disaster.
"If Ms. Haspel is confirmed, it will send a terrible message to the world broadly, and to the officers of the CIA more superficially," the former official said. "The CIA, and its former officers, are pushing so hard for Ms. Haspel to be director because if she's confirmed, it essentially exonerates her, the CIA and all of these former senior CIA officials from their involvement in or their defense of the torture program."
But the advocacy group Win Without War made a succinct moral argument by putting it this way: "Torture was illegal and immoral after 9/11, and it still is now. Haspel should never be allowed to work for the American people again."
President Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen arrives at a New York court on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Speculation has begun to grow that Michael Cohen, Trump's long-time personal attorney whose office and home were raided by the FBI, may agree to cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation. If so, he could go down in history with Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the mobster whose testimony ultimately destroyed the Gotti crime family.
President Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen arrives at a New York court on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.
William Munny: We all have it coming, Kid.
When your current lawyer has his home and office plundered of all paperwork by FBI agents bearing judge-certified warrants, and your old lawyer tells you your current lawyer is almost certainly going to give you up to the feds to save himself, you are having a bad day.
This is precisely the predicament Mr. Trump finds himself in, according to his old attorney, Jay Goldberg, who represented Trump's interests for many years. In an interview with CBS News, Goldberg said he was all but certain Michael Cohen would flip under the intense legal pressure being brought to bear upon him.
In a comparison that should chill Trump to the bone, Goldberg likened Cohen to Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the notorious mobster whose eventual testimony and cooperation with federal authorities ultimately obliterated the John Gotti crime family.
"There is virtually no chance that Cohen would not try to win the affection and cooperation of the US Attorney," Goldberg told CBS, "and thus, he would like all other persons accused of crime, where the penalty is substantial, he would give support for the government's version of the facts."
Goldberg made similar statements in an earlier conversation with the Wall Street Journal, which reported, "Mr. Goldberg said he cautioned the president not to trust Mr. Cohen. On a scale of 100 to 1, where 100 is fully protecting the president, Mr. Cohen 'isn't even a 1,' he said he told Mr. Trump … 'Michael will never stand up [for you]' if charged by the government."
Alan Dershowitz, famed attorney and Trump's new bestie, is of a similar mind regarding Cohen. "That's what they'll threaten him with: life imprisonment," Dershowitz told Politico. "They're going to threaten him with a long prison term and try to turn him into a canary that sings."
Possible signs of a ripple effect from the Cohen raid are already beginning to show. Out of nowhere, the National Enquirer and its parent company American Media Inc. (AMI) reached a settlement with former Playboy model Karen McDougal in a long-running suit over the rights to her story of an affair with Donald Trump.
Among the Cohen documents seized by the FBI were papers pertaining to AMI and the McDougal suit. "McDougal's lawsuit did not name Cohen as a defendant," reports the Washington Post, "but it did allege that Trump's personal lawyer colluded with AMI to effectively silence her by buying the rights to her story and then declining to run it."
The terms of the settlement were profoundly favorable to McDougal: She can talk all she wants now about what went down with The Donald a decade ago, and only has to share 10 percent of whatever profits she makes from the telling with AMI. Those seized documents may very well have proved her side of the story, prompting the settlement.
Cohen has also abruptly abandoned his own lawsuit against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS. He brought suit against them after they published an unredacted version of the so-called "Steele Dossier," the explosive document that details Trump's alleged associations with shady Russian operators. That dossier also contained a description of the now-notorious "Pee Tapes" that allegedly show Trump asking prostitutes to urinate on a bed once shared by Barack and Michelle Obama.
No concrete reason was given for dropping the case. "Given the events that have unfolded," said Cohen's attorney David Schwartz, "and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits." One can only assume that "the events that have unfolded" refers to the FBI's plundering of Cohen's client files.
So that's one Cohen cat out of the bag, and maybe another. How many more will follow?
It is not too far a stretch to imagine Donald Trump losing what remains of his tattered equilibrium as the legal footsteps march closer and closer to his door. Michael Cohen was Trump's personal attorney, privy to all the secrets of the realm. If Cohen does what many in Trump's orbit fear he will and takes whatever ride Mueller offers, the rain is going to come down hard and fast for all involved. Cohen was directly involved in the Trump Organization's international business dealings, and a fair portion of those dealings were with the kind of shady characters that make a prosecutor's mouth water.
Worst of all for Trump, a Cohen flip puts his kids on the firing line. "Cohen, Donald Jr. and Ivanka were essentially the Trump Organization's entire global development team when the company was shaking hands with questionable business partners around the world," reports Eric Lach of The New Yorker. "If Cohen were to cooperate with investigators, they would surely ask him about Trump's children." If all the rumors are true, nothing gets the bats in Trump's belfry more agitated than a perceived threat to his progeny.
Trump's ebbing fan base can rest easy, though. His legal team made a change, and former New York City mayor and terrible presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has joined the cause. One can only imagine the fine legal prowess he will bring to the fray. I can hear him now, arguing with the judge: "Your Honor, I can only say that my client is a good man who was there on September 11 just like me, and we all know how bad September 11 was, because September 11 and September 11."
Michael Cohen has some serious thinking to do. At the moment, he is tied tight to the rails with the Mueller Express highballing down the track. His options are binary: Hop on board or get run over. If Robert Mueller shows him the evidence he has along with a list of all the others who have chosen to cooperate -- maybe Michael Flynn, maybe Paul Manafort, maybe who knows who else -- his decision gets a whole lot simpler. As Rick Wilson noted last week, "Trump isn't exactly known for paying his bills in the first place." Loyalty is what loyalty does.
We shall see. Get ready for a long, hot summer.
Good news from federal agencies can feel like a rarity these days, but this dispatch from the Environmental Protection Agency is an excellent reminder that staffers deep in the government are hard at work to build a better world. In draft guidance on skin allergy testing for pesticides and industrial chemicals, the EPA is encouraging researchers to move away from the use of animal models.
Such testing is legally required to determine the level of hazard that various industrial products pose. Scientists aim to determine if chemicals cause skin irritation and, if so, the severity of their effects. This allows agencies to determine whether a product is safe enough to be sold to consumers, or if it needs to come with special warning labels.
Historically, this process has involved exposing animals to the chemicals in question, relying primarily on guinea pigs and mice. As part of the research, the animals are killed and autopsied to examine the effects.The Humane Society of the United States maintains that these methods really should be consigned to history -- and not just because they are cruel. Alternatives to animal testing actually appear to be more effective, which is a good reason to abandon these outdated practices.
The EPA estimates that about 10,000 animals are used in testing these products annually, thanks to stringent requirements. In order to validate results, researchers have to repeat tests multiple times in a controlled setting. This process doesn't just involve the use of many animals; it's also time consuming, with some testing taking several years and multiple generations of animals to complete. That, in turn, can make research very costly, presenting problems for the bottom lines of companies that want to control costs.
This move has been in the works for a while; federal agencies are notorious for taking a long time to develop and implement draft policies. It's a step in the right direction, though -- and one that may encourage people in the private sector to follow suit. The EPA is also working with other agencies, including internationally, to streamline testing requirements with the goal of reducing hiccups in the process. If testing requirements differ radically, it can be difficult for companies to bring products to market.
There's a growing body of evidence to support ditching animal testing in favor of humane alternatives, including cruelty, cost and ineffectiveness. This policy decision is just working on the right side of history -- and Congressional mandate. The Frank L. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act pushed for changes in animal testing requirements to improve the quality and safety of chemical testing.
Policies like this one can drive innovation. With federal agencies calling for viable alternatives, there's a reason to invest in developing new products and approaches that will yield accurate, fast, and cost-effective results. Making more options available creates more opportunities to go cruelty-free, whether a company is manufacturing agricultural chemicals or beauty products. Such developments can also be used for leverage by animal welfare activists to challenge corporations and the government on the continued use of animal testing.TAKE ACTION!
Like other policy proposals, this one is open for public comment, and the EPA must consider feedback from members of the public before finalizing the rule. You have until June 9, 2018 to leave a comment on this policy proposal.
When she was growing up, Rachel Bailey was taught that only rich, self-indulgent White people suffered from mental health issues. Black people were supposed to be tougher. Although she remembers struggling with what was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder since she was 4 years old, it wasn't until age 34 that she began to seek treatment, checking herself into a psychiatric ward after a severe mental breakdown.
"People of other races, especially White people, they get to be crazy and have their reasons and their subtle shades of insanity," Bailey says. "It's unfair that you get to be insane in colorful ways and I just get to be nuts and go to jail and rot there."
Bailey was one of 11 Black performers who shared their stories in front of an audience of 600 people at TMI Project's inaugural #BlackStoriesMatter show in 2017.
Among the performers was Tina-Lynn Dickerson, who spoke about becoming homeless after being evicted from her home in the now gentrified Harlem neighborhood she grew up in, and Micah Blumenthal, who spoke about how the lack of meaningful Black characters in film affected him as a child.
TMI Project is a nonprofit based in Kingston, New York, that works to uplift the voices of underrepresented populations in the community by helping them share their stories publicly. This is done through monologue-writing workshops that, if the writer chooses, culminate in a performance in front of an audience.
The goal is to raise awareness about different social issues, give people new perspectives, and inspire people to take action, says Eva Tenuto, co-founder and executive director of TMI Project.
"There are often stories that, if you read a report or statistics about (them), you might not feel deeply impacted by," Tenuto says. "But when you hear one person tell their true, real experience about what they've lived through, it might alter your perception about a certain group of people."
In the past, TMI Project has collaborated with the local LGBTQ community, adults with mental health issues, people struggling with eating disorders, military veterans, incarcerated teen boys, survivors of domestic violence and assault, at-risk teens with psychiatric disorders, teen mothers, and cancer survivors.
TMI Project's most recent social justice effort is the #BlackStoriesMatter initiative, spearheaded by program director Tameka Ramsey, with the intent of addressing racism and inequality in the community and across the country.
Since the first performance in 2017, TMI Project has hosted another #BlackStoriesMatter workshop in partnership with The Slave Dwelling Project, during which, six Black writers participated in an overnight stay at a historic slave cellar in New Paltz to create a performance about their experience, titled "Reclaiming Our Time."
This April, TMI Project brought a #BlackStoriesMatter event to Bard College that featured a discussion panel of local activists, scholars, and artists about race and inclusion, in addition to story-telling performances. They are now working with a group of Black students at Kingston Public High School to create the first teen version of Black Stories Matter.
TMI Project also uses its website and YouTube channel to promote content from #BlackStoriesMatter. In 2019, Ramsey says, the initiative will relaunch with an event calendar full of workshops, performances, discussions and more.
"We believe that the telling of these stories will engender empathic pathways in the soul and in the heart, to change the way we deal with race in this country," Ramsey says.
The performances also affect the storytellers -- this was the case for Bailey, who found a sense of comfort with the audience members who related to her story. Bailey has participated in four TMI Project workshops.
"I get to share an experience and find out that it really is shared," Bailey says. "Afterward, when people come up to you and say 'I thought it was just me, too,' that's a connection you've forged."
In her #BlackStoriesMatter story, she talked about not fitting into the stereotypical idea of what it means to be Black, and the stigma around mental health issues that she faces as a Black person in America.
Bailey detailed a particular time in her life when she was having suicidal thoughts daily. Every day she went through so many roller coasters of emotion that by noon, her brain would feel completely fried, she says. At night, she'd go home and recharge just enough to repeat the process the next day.
"It's not 'You can't have your crazy,' it's 'We want to be allowed to have our crazy facets too,'" Bailey says. "It's not all drugs and slave narratives that drive people of color crazy -- some people have chemical imbalances, some people had awful childhoods -- there are reasons people are crazy and that doesn't change because of skin color."
Puebla, Mexico, 8 April 2018: An annual Easter march to shine a light on the plight of Central Americans living in a region with the highest murder rate in the world drew the attention of international aid groups, the United Nations … and the President of the United States. While the U.N. admonished the government of Mexico to provide safe conduct to the approximately 1,200 persons who crossed the southern border of their country, Donald Trump reacted with incommensurate fear, threatening to deploy National Guard troops to his own border, 1,200 miles (2,000 km) away.
The march, or caravan, is also known as the Via Crucis del Migrante (Migrant Stations of the Cross). A more-or-less yearly event, the caravan has been organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), an NGO with a presence in Arizona, for over a decade. The original Via Crucis recalls the path Jesus Christ took to his execution according to the Christian religion: a fourteen-step journey that recounts the burdens, humiliations, consolations, torture and death he suffered, before being resurrected and ascending to heaven on what was to become Easter Sunday. In historically Catholic Central America, marking the Stations is a significant event.
Usually numbering less than a hundred, Via Crucis del Migrante 2018 grew unexpectedly, according to organizer Irineo Mújica, though not unpredictably in retrospect. This year's caravan has a high number of Hondurans, reflecting that country's extreme levels of violence and deepening political crisis following a contested presidential election in November that resulted in widespread protests and "excessive use of force" in response.
The caravan is also mostly made up of women, children, unaccompanied minors and LGBTI persons, compelled to leave their homes but seeking the protection afforded by the organized march. According to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), even hospitals in Honduras are dangerous for victims of gender-based violence because they cannot be guaranteed safety within. And the road through Mexico is fraught with danger for even the most able-bodied.
Violence is the main factor pushing Central American emigration. A Canadian professor attending a conference on comparative education in Mexico City's historic centre says she no longer goes to El Salvador: "It's too dangerous." Discovery of trucks packed with Central Americans suffering and perishing from heat and thirst has become routine nowadays in Mexico, even occurring simultaneously with the march.
After a stay in Oaxaca, a smaller number of people from the caravan reached the city of Puebla on Thursday, with plans to continue on to Mexico City over the weekend. Along the way, individuals may apply for asylum or connect with relatives in Mexico, or take advantage of 20-day transit visas to press on to the U.S. border and take their chances there.
Roberto Campos, a taxi driver in Puebla, says Hondurans arrive to the city crammed into vans, and while they might make the trip physically, some of them don't survive it spiritually. "That's a Honduran, that's a Honduran," he said, pointing out an emaciated man crouched in the shade by the road, and then another man, barefoot and wandering aimlessly into the intersection. Roberto says he tries to give them food rather than cash to spend on beer.
Even though Puebla State is highly industrialized and home to Volkswagen and Audi, times are tough for its residents. "Our patrols drive Jettas. But the minimum wage is 88.36 pesos a day," explains Roberto, "and a cheap meal, nothing special, costs 150 pesos at least…. You can't have a rich government with a poor population."
Still, Mexicans in Puebla do not appear to be distressed by the arrival of the Central American caravan in their city. While Trump grandstands and stokes racist fear, and Mexico's four presidential candidates declare a united front against U.S. retaliation, townspeople appear nonplussed. "They're not doing any harm," say University of Puebla students Saúl y Jesús, who were interviewing tourists in the town square, the Zócalo, for a class project, as the caravan left Oaxaca for Puebla.
Two days later, as the migrants gathered nearby, Marta and her colleagues at the reception desk of the Casa de Oración San José insisted that the caravan was nothing to fear. "They come every year. They are believers."
Despite the public's generosity toward the Central American migrants, official response has been mixed. While the United States flagrantly violates international law prohibiting non-refoulement, or the return of persons to countries where they are in danger, Mexico has quietly been repatriating Central Americans without regard to the credibility of their claims for asylum.
According to an Amnesty International report published in January, the Mexican government deported 80,353 immigrants in 2017. AI conducted a survey and found that the majority of Central American immigrants into Mexico interviewed said they were not informed of their right to request asylum, and qualified their treatment by Mexican authorities as "bad" or "very bad."
In July 2014, Mexico initiated its "Programa Frontera Sur" (Southern Border Program) in response to pressure from the Obama administration to stem the surge in unaccompanied Central American children traversing Mexico and applying for asylum in the U.S. Since then, according to Human Rights Watch, asylum has been granted to less than 1% of unaccompanied minors apprehended.
Why the focus on relatively small numbers of defenceless refugees by wealthier countries built upon immigration? Basilio Villagrón Pérez, who has been maintaining an encampment in front of the public prosecutor's office in Mexico City in honour of 43 missing teacher's college students from Ayotzinapa, explains it as "state terrorism against people who organize. The children of the indigenous and the campesinos are the most organized and always claim their rights in public protest."
In the case of the Via Crucis caravan, these people are claiming their right to move, to cross borders they did not make, to avoid violence, to seek a better life. In a world where big business can operate transnationally with ease but people cannot move even if they are in fear for their lives, we have to question what our priorities are. The caravan migrants refuse to beg, they are asserting their rights with dignity.
As more eyes turn to pipeline resistance in Virginia, how does that resistance take root, and in what ways can community subvert the structures of power?
The post Olympia, WA: Campaign at Evergreen Vista Continues appeared first on It's Going Down.An update from Olympia Solidarity Network on their ongoing campaign at Evergreen Vista apartments to improve living conditions.
Following the an issuing of a letter to Evergreen Vista management and their operator Mercy Housing (which they chose to ignore), OlySol’s campaign for improved housing conditions at Evergreen Vista has proceeded.April 10th
Approximately two and a half weeks following our demand delivery to Evergreen Vista management we are pleased to announce that tenants have started to see some changes! The demand letter called for repairs to be made and for accessible garbage disposal to be installed. New maintenance staff have now been hired and work orders (many of which had been neglected for months) have started to be fulfilled. An accessible garbage bin (pictured below) has also been installed adjacent to the inaccessible garbage compactor for disabled tenants.
While we recognize these improvements, they fall short of meeting our demands fully. Many repairs, especially those to common infrastructures, such as outdoor lighting and stairways, have still not been made. Moreover, the demand for accessible garbage disposal clearly stated that accessible bins must be installed at each building in the complex. In a notice sent to all tenants, Evergreen Vista management also suggested tenants with mobility issues complete a Reasonable Accommodation Request form for any further issues with the garbage disposal system. We find the requirement that tenants acquire professional and medical verification for something as basic as garbage disposal degrading and a near impossible barrier for tenants who lack health care coverage.
For these reasons, OlySol’s campaign for improved conditions at Evergreen Vista will continue until the demands are fully met.April 16th
Over the last week OlySol visited the neighborhood of Evergreen Vista’s property manager with anti-slumlord posters. Members of Seattle Solidarity Network (SeaSol) also postered around Mery Housing Northwest’s headquarters and the home neighborhood of Mercy Housing Northwest’s president.
If the demands for accessible garbage disposal at each building in the complex and the fulfillment of all repair requests aren’t met in full, Evergreen Vista management and Mercy Housing can expect further pressure.
The post “A Fire Is Catching,” 8 People in Tree Sits as Police Try and Starve Out Elderly Homeowner appeared first on It's Going Down.Repression of tree sitters in West Virginia and Virginia continues as now a total of 8 people have launched tree sits to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Despite lack of food and water, 61 year-old woman stays in tree for 19th consecutive days
On 8815 Poor Mountain Rd in Salem, VA a woman named Red is being starved out by Roanoke Police and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) security. Red is protesting the proposed fracked-gas pipeline which cuts through her property. The land taken by MVP has been in the family since before the US constitution was written, and Red does not want it to be used for transporting fossil fuels.
As of today, Red and her daughter are facing 3 charges: trespassing, violation of property rights, and obstruction of justice. Red is on her family’s seventh-generation land that they have lived on since the 18th century.
Mara Robbins has been at the camp in support of Red since the beginning. She says she is there as a last resort to protect the water.
“We feed the Roanoke, the New, and the Dan Rivers. 10,000 miles of watershed, 28 counties, and 4 major metropolitan areas, so we have big concerns about our water, and the water in Bent Mountain.” Robbins said.
Police are shining floodlights on Red during the nighttime, and preventing supporters from delivering food or water. Despite this, Red has no plans to come down anytime soon. As of Apr 20, Red has been denied food and water for nine days, and has been up in the tree for a total of 19 consecutive days.
Red’s daughter is about half a mile away in another tree. She is facing similar tactics from law enforcement, which is primarily composed of Roanoke County police. They have set up a tent in front of Red’s tree, shining bright lights directly at her in the night.
There was an arrest last week of one person who was documenting MVP’s tactics. Trish McLawhorn, another supporter, said that she did nothing wrong.
“She was on the property within her right with the landowners permission, documenting the cutting of trees, and she was just arbitrarily asked to move. She knew she was within her right, so she held her space but she was arrested without much of an explanation.” McLawhorn said.
The charges? “Violation of property rights, and they made up the rule 15 minutes before they arrested her.” Robbins said.
The tree-felling deadline passed on March 31st, but MVP has continued to cut trees illegally.
“They weren’t supposed to touch that water over there after March 15th, because it’s the breeding ground for the Roanoke logperch and the orangefin madtom. Both of these are critically endangered fish. And they have cut trees repeatedly directly into these streams,” Robbins said.
It remains to be seen how this showdown will end, but supporters are concerned for Red’s safety.
“We’re concerned that her will to stay on that platform in that tree may very well supersede any concern for her own health. I’m afraid that her health will deteriorate before her will gives in. And i don’t think that the medics here understand that. They come and ask if she’s ok, and if she needs anything, and she tells them what she needs and then they say no, she has to come down from the tree, which is not gonna happen.” McLawhorn said.
The supporters were asked why this particular method of direct action was taken.
“What other way is there? This is the last stop. When there’s tree-sits popping up all over the place, it’s different. The fire is catching.” Robbins said.
Indeed the “fire” does appear to be catching. On Apr 19, three more people took to the trees at the Little Teel Crossing in Franklin County, VA. There are now eight total individuals in the trees to stop the pipeline, and none of them have come down yet despite the abuse of law enforcement.
“I think a lot of us, we love her, and were very concerned that there’s gonna come a day that she may possibly be in a crisis up there, and she’s not gonna have what she needs and that’s gonna be on them.” McLawhorn said.
How is this legal? Robbins told me that Red has a legal necessity to be up in that tree.
“They’re insisting that she had a choice. She never did. A landowner doesn’t have a choice when their property is taken except to climb in a tree. When you look at it that way, did she have a choice?”