Julian Assange rejects UK-Ecuador deal for him to leave the embassy | 06 dec 2018 | Julian Assange's lawyer has rejected an agreement announced by Ecuador's president to see him leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London, after six years inside. Lenin Moreno, the president of Ecuador, has made no secret of his wish to be rid of the WikiLeaks founder, who sought asylum inside the embassy in June 2012 and has not left since. On Thursday Mr Moreno announced that a deal had been reached between London and Quito to allow Mr Assange, 47, to be released...Mr Assange's lawyer, Barry Pollack, told The Telegraph that the deal was not acceptable. The legal team have long argued that they will not accept any agreement which risks his being extradited to the United States.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai says tech giant is no haven for political bias [LOL!] | 10 Dec 2018 | Embattled [perjuring sack of Deep State sh*t] Google CEO Sundar Pichai, amid allegations of anti-conservative bias and privacy violations on the platform, plans to tell in [prepared remarks] the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that his company is no haven for political bias. [Yeah, right! How many hundreds of times over the years has the CLG Newsletter hit the Gmail junk bin, despite the recipient CONSTANTLY asserting that the CLG News is a trusted email contact? And yet, actual spam always arrives in the Google inbox, unmolested.] Google has been under close scrutiny amid allegations of anti-conservative bias, which it [insanely] denies.
This week, a Trump official at the U.S. government's pro-fossil fuel event at the United Nations climate talks made clear that the idea of burying carbon emissions from coal plants is still alive.
Wells Griffith, an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said at the event: “For the U.S. energy policy, it’s not about keeping [fossil fuels] in the ground but about using them cleanly.”
Griffith added: “Alarmism should not silence realism. This is a forum for fact science-based discussions on climate realities.”
His conclusions make for great talking points, but they're far from reality. After more than a decade of failed demonstration projects, a recently rescinded $1.1 billion DOE research program, and the Trump administration's move to roll back requirements that all new coal plants have “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) capabilities, the promise of so-called “clean coal” technology is dead.Tags: Trump AdministrationU.S. Department of Energycarbon capture and sequestrationcarbon capture and storageclean coalCOP24
The post Direct Action Gets Satisfaction: Anti-Homeless Security Patrols Suspended appeared first on It's Going Down.Announcement that long running campaign in the Pacific Northwest has won a key victory against an anti-houseless initiative supported by the local business class.
We are glad to announce that Pacific Coast Security (PCS) has indefinitely terminated its participation in the anti-homeless Downtown Safety Team security initiative. This signals the suspension and hopefully the end of the security initiative. The Downtown Safety Team conducted nightly patrols throughout Olympia’s downtown core between the hours of 8PM-12AM, trespassing and sweeping homeless individuals found resting in alcoves and under awnings. The security scheme was funded through individual contracts with business owners, property managers and building owners, and coordinated and facilitated by the business front group, Olympia Downtown Alliance (ODA). Suspending the patrols is a crucial step in the wider movement to secure safer sleeping options for houseless residents in downtown Olympia.
PCS withdrew from the scheme soon after a protest disruption was staged that shut down the security patrol for the night on December 1st. This was the third time the nightly patrols were shut down through direct action. While yielding the most tangible effects, disruption was only one tactic deployed in a true diversity of tactics throughout this multi-month campaign. Demand delivery actions at contract-holding businesses/building owners, postering campaigns, informational leafleting and pamphletting at ODA-sponsored events, pickets and shutdowns of contract-holding businesses/building owners, street theater and phone zaps were all also utilized. This multifaceted strategy permitted community engagement to assume a range of forms and allowed participants to expend their energies and abilities in appropriate fashion.
While we recognize the immense progress made, we also expect that the Olympia Downtown Alliance and the downtown business class generally will maintain their commitment to vacating our houseless neighbors from the downtown core. We will remain vigilant to such efforts.
We would like to thank the numerous friends, supporters and community members who have collaborated in this campaign. This victory is testament to the power of collective struggle and direct action.
If comrades are reading this from other cities and are dealing with similar issues, get in touch! We would love to communicate and collaborate.
For more information on this campaign and on other recent conflicts regarding homelessness and public space in Olympia:
The post The Cinema Committee: Finding Strength Where We Live appeared first on It's Going Down.A historical look at the anarchist movement in San Francisco at the turn of the 19th century.
On the subject of strategy, we have learned all the lessons from the tradition of the defeated. We remember the beginnings of the labor movement. The lessons are near to us…the power of the American proletarians at the beginning of the industrial era stemmed from the development, within the community of workers, of a force of destruction and retaliation against Capital, as well as from the existence of clandestine solidarities.
-The Invisible Committee, The Call, 2003
In recent years, the number of anarchist history books and academic studies have blossomed thanks to the tireless work of AK Press (among others) and the thankless authors and researchers who’ve sold their souls to the academy. For the first time in a over a century, the complete works of Errico Malatesta have been published in English and US anarchists now have access to the original strategies of insurrectionary anarcho-communism, a common-set of practices that thrived between the 1880s and the 1910s.
At the current moment in history, these century-old practices are being revived across North America, although many still remain to be uncovered. Rather than look for national and trans-national structures to the old anarcho-communist movement, we should search no further than our own cities and towns for the material practices that once bolstered our strength. Knowledge of our past deeds have been suppressed for decades, a tactical move on the part of our enemy meant to keep us atomized, and we’re the only ones who can recover it.
As the Invisible Committee puts it, the political techniques of capitalism consist first of all in breaking the attachments through which a group finds the means to produce, in the same movement, the conditions of its subsistence and its existence…in separating human communities from innumerable things — stones and metals, plants, trees that have a thousand purposes, gods, djinns, wild or tamed animals, medicines and psycho-active substances, amulets, machines, and all the other beings in their realms that co-exist with humans…just as it was necessary to liquidate the witches — which is to say their medicinal knowledge as well as the movement between the visible and invisible worlds which they promoted. In order to recover this lost knowledge, we should search directly beneath our feet, and to illustrate how revealing these investigations can be, we’ll look no further than our own back yard: San Francisco.
While many people try to deny it, the majority of the early US labor unions were hotbeds of racism with many owing their initial strength to anti-Chinese hysteria. This was certainly the case in San Francisco during the 1870s, a period that makes the Italian 1970s pale in comparison. For anyone who might have been an anarchist, the struggle of 1870s was less against bourgeois capitalists than it was against the pimps, crimps, ship-owners, and racist lynch mobs of the labor movement. In short, the struggle was against local tyrants who preyed on the most vulnerable.
Since the boom of the Gold Rush in 1848, one neighborhood held strong against these racist mobs and maintained its interracial character well into the 20th century: Telegraph Hill. First populated by prostitutes from Mexico, Chile, and Peru, this hill withstood numerous racist attacks in the 1850s and 1860s until it became a veritable bastion of freedom protected by clandestine forces. Unless they were from the neighborhood, no one ever went to the eastern slope of Telegraph Hill. It was far too dangerous.
A “street” on Telegraph Hill.
Situated just above the waterfront and far removed from downtown, the eastern slope of Telegraph Hill provided an ideal sanctuary for vulnerable populations fleeing the racist hysteria of the land-based trade unions. It also became a refuge for honest sailors. Given the international scope of their work, sailors tended to be far less racist, if not out-right anti-racist, and they remained unorganized throughout the anti-Chinese progroms. By the 1880s, the federal government had crippled the racist demagogues by officially outlawing all Chinese immigration to the US, depriving these union bigots of their main scapegoat.
The collapse of the anti-Chinese hysteria did nothing to change the racist character of most San Francisco labor unions, although it did allow an opening for a certain anarchist sailor. While anarchists affiliated with the first Black International had lived in San Francisco since the 1860s (the decade Bakunin first arrived in town), their first major initiative was spearheaded by a Polish Jew named Sigismund Danielewicz, a man who’d just returned from organizing against the San Francisco sugar barons on their Hawaiian plantations.
Sigismund Danielewicz, found of the Coast Seamen’s Union.
He waited out on the waterfront one night, stood beneath a gas-lamp, and called for the sailors to gather around. In a frantic speech, he denounced the crimps who sold off their labor to the greedy ship-owners and called on them to form a union. By the next evening, March 6, 1885, Sigismund had recruited over 400 members into the Coast Seamen’s Union. Rather than try and take over existing racist unions, the anarchists appear to have chosen the profession most conducive to anti-racist anarchism. As we’ve noted, sailors traveled the world and worked alongside men of every race and color, partially immunizing them from common prejudices. Beyond this, the only legal slaves still allowed in the US were prisoners and sailors. When faced with a tyrannical captain, sailors could either engage in mutiny (an illegal act) or submit to the captain’s brutality, making them official slaves (at least while on the seas), a fact acknowledged by a few liberal politicians of the era.
The crimp system further enslaved the sailors by extorting a percentage of their paycheck in exchange for placement on a crew. There was no way for a sailor to find work on the San Francisco waterfront unless they were crimped out by these agents of the ship-owners. For all these reasons, the anarchists chose to focus on the sailors, and by July 1886 their union had grown to over 2,000 members. For the first time in the city’s history, sailors could find work through a union hiring hall rather than be gouged by a crimp. A long and bloody history followed the creation of this anarchist union, but the main point is this: the anarchists targeted an unrepresented and heavily exploited workforce to create their first inroads into the local labor movement. While this union materially benefited all sailors by cutting out the crimps, it also materially allowed the anarchist sailors to travel the world with a valid union book. Right off the bat, the San Francisco anarchists were sailing the high seas.SF Dockworkers
In years to come, San Francisco would be one link in a long chain that extended from Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Valparaiso, Vancouver BC, the far reaches of Alaska, the frozen shores of Siberia, the Yangtzee River of Imperial China, and every port in between. Thanks to this transnational net-work (as it was spelled back then, by sailors), the remnants of the Black International were able to circulate between the continents and establish concurrent unions in the major ports. While it was easy for anarchists to obtain union sailor books through similar methods, they still had to face down brutal captains.
One local rebel, a teenager named Enrico Travaglio, witnessed a captain shoot down a fellow sailor and was told to keep his mouth shut. Rather than suffer this tyrant any longer, Enrico jumped ship in Siberia and made his way down to China in 1890. It was on the Yangtzee River that he met a friend of Elisee Reclus, the famed anarchist geographer, and Enrico was hired to pilot his boat for a cartographic expedition into the center of Imperial China.
When he returned to San Francisco in 1894, Enrico had become a committed anarchist, although bad news awaited him at home. In his absence, Enrico’s mother Giussepina had passed away, leaving him alone with his step-father Cesare, an anti-religious newspaperman from Milan. Perhaps to deal with their pain, these two men utilized Cesare’s printing press to produce San Francisco’s second anarchist newspaper: Secolo Nuovo. It was printed in modern Italian, unlike Sigismund Danielewicz’s The Beacon, the city’s first anarchist newspaper. Its audience was primarily the growing Italian population of the Latin Quarter, the neighborhood directly behind Telegraph Hill, while The Beacon was mailed out to English-speaking anarchists across the US. Danielewicz himself was fluent in Italian, although most local anarchists could only read or speak one language. In any case, he stopped publishing The Beacon in 1891, leaving Secolo Nuovo the only anarchist paper in town.
While it was a weekly publication between 1894 and 1906, no more than 2000 copies of Secolo Nuovo were ever distributed per issue. The paper was subsidized by friendly merchants (Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian) taking out ads for their businesses along with clueless Anglos who didn’t realize they were financing an Italian insurrectionary newspaper. Back then, modern Florentine-based Italian was still a language of the upper classes and dialect was the preferred language for many “Italian” immigrants. In this regard, composing the paper in Italian might have been a way to communicate to a broad audience, although it could simply be modernist elitism no different from contemporary versions. Either way, Secolo Nuovo definitely made a splash in the Latin Quarter and riled up the Italian bourgeois with its fierce and unrelenting criticism. While the non-literate, dialect speaking “Italians” were shut out of this conversation, their interests were certainly served by Secolo Nuovo, a paper that ridiculed the rich prominenti of the Latin Quarter and their exploitation of recent immigrants.
The Latin Quarter, 1900, facing Telegraph Hill.
Secolo Nuovo was joined by Free Society in 1897, an English-language anarchist journal run by the Isaak family. After escaping a police crackdown in Odessa, this Ukranian family reunited in Portland, Oregon where they started The Firebrand newspaper with several other anarchists. When the editors were jailed for publishing an “obscene” Walt Whitman poem, their paper was discontinued and the group disbanded. Most went north of Olympia to the anarchist commune in Home, Washington while the Isaaks moved to San Francisco and started Free Society. Emma Goldman was close friends with the Isaaks, just as she knew Enrico Travaglio, and all of them were arrested together in Chicago, charged with conspiring to assassinate President McKinley in 1901.
Before he was arrested, Enrico Travaglio had left San Francisco with the Isaaks in 1900 and worked on their paper in Chicago. He eventually moved to Spring Valley, Illinois where he collaborated on another paper with two Italian anarchists, Ersilia Cavedagni and Giusseppe Ciancabilla. This couple fled the Italian Kingdom in 1898 and settled in Patterson, New Jersey, the headquarters of North American insurrectionary anarcho-communism. In this bastion of freedom, Giusseppe served as editor for La Questionne Sociale, the most popular Italian-language anarchist newspaper published in the back room of a bar at 325 Straight Street. Errico Malatesta was the paper’s next editor and the insurrectionist Luigi Galleani would later take over, proving the depth of these trans-national connection.
Offices of La Questione Sociale and IWW Union Hall, Paterson, New Jersey, 1908
Giusseppe served as editor of La Questionne Sociale from 1898 to 1899 while his partner Ersilia Cavedagni joined the anarcho-feminist Gruppo Emancipazione della Donna and performed plays in their Teatro Sociale. During their years in Patterson, a local anarchist named Gaetano Bresci traveled to Milan and assassinated King Umberto of Italy, bringing attention to their insurgent city. Shortly after this, Ersilia and Giusseppe moved to Spring Valley, Illinois where they’d come to meet Enrico Travaglio, editor of Secolo Nuovo.
Giusseppe was arrested in 1901 along with Enrico, Emma Goldman, and the Isaaks, although Ersilia remained off their suspect list. After being released, Enrico, Giusseppe, and Ersilia returned to San Francisco in 1903 where they began publishing La Protesta Humana. Not only did they start another anarchist newspaper, Ersilia began organizing public festival and performances to promote their cause. These open-air plays, speeches, and picnics came at a time when anarchists were losing interest in the union strategy, although it had taken them nearly two decades to get there.
After the creation of the Coast Seamen’s Union in 1885, the San Francisco waterfront was paralyzed by maritime strikes in 1886, 1892, 1893, and 1899, culminating in the Great Waterfront Strike of 1901. After the first sailor’s strike in 1886, it was clear that a port blockade could paralyze the economy of an entire major city. This tactic was further elaborated by Errico Malatesta in 1889 during the Great Dock Strike of London where he helped the unorganized dock workers form a union that shut down imperial London for an entire month. This success led Malatesta to advocate forming unions of unorganized workers, infiltrating the labor movement, and building towards a general strike.
According to this strategy, wage gains were incidental to the grander project of paralyzing the economy and seizing vital infrastructure. All the delusions about “stable economies” and “fair workplaces” are products of the 20th century. In the days of insurrectionary anarcho-communism, the workplace was a site to be infiltrated, pillaged, seized, and either destroyed or re-purposed. There was no hope of creating fair capitalism, nor was there any transition period to a worker’s state. As the Invisible Committee puts it, the overthrowing of capitalism will come from those who are able to create the conditions for other types of relations. Therefore the communism we are talking about is the exact opposite of what has been historically termed “communism,” which was mostly nothing but socialism, a form of monopolist state capitalism. Communism is not made through the expansion of new relations of production, but rather in their abolition.
SF headquarters for the Coast Seamen’s Union, renamed in 1891 to SUP
This remained the dominant strategy for many years, although the Great Waterfront Strike of 1901 disillusioned many San Francisco anarchists. After organizing all the maritime trades into a single federation, the unions shut down the waterfront and paralyzed the city for three violent months. Even with President McKinley assassinated by an anarchist, the unions kept up their pickets on the waterfront and engaged in roving gun-battles on Market Street. When it was clear the strike would end in civil war, the governor threatened to bring in the state militia and scared the current head of the Coast Seamen’s Union into surrender. To make matters worse, the disillusioned unions renounced the general strike and voted the Union Labor Party into power. While this elected Party effectively outlawed scabs and private detectives, their officials took bribes from the high-capitalists and forbid the Labor Council from approving any wildcat strikes.
When the Paterson anarchists arrived in the Latin Quarter in 1902 with their street festivals and park performances, it must have surely been a relief from the tedium of union labor. After decades of the waterfront organizing strategy, the anarchists had been betrayed by their very own sailor’s union, and many looked outside the workplace for a path forward. These outdoor festivals were proof that anarchism could be furthered on the streets of their neighborhood rather than on the job where every stolen hour would only enrich the capitalists. This era reveals the split between organizzatori and anti-orginizzatori, although history shows they all worked together long into the 1920s. This split may even have been exaggerated to catch police informants, and by all accounts, their ranks were never infiltrated until Donald Vose of Home, Washington betrayed his anarchist mother in 1914. This snitch was later depicted killing himself in The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill, a classic American play-write who died in 1953 with an unfinished play about Errico Malatesta in his drawer.
Between 1903 and 1905, the anarchists of the Latin Quarter began providing supplements to their newspapers that included texts in other languages. One of their publications was printed in French, Spanish, and Italian, providing immigrant their neighborhood with a Rossetta Stone they could use to decode each other’s languages. In 1905, the Mexican anarchist Praxedis Guerrero arrived in San Francisco and began publishing his short-lived Alba Roja, a Spanish language newspaper aimed at local immigrants. Praxedis and his two friends found work as longshoremen on the waterfront, proving there were still many radical connections to the maritime trades. According to local legend, Praxedis and his friends hung out at Luna’s Mexican Restaurant, a well-known gathering spot for sailors and longshoremen. Despite the downfall of the Great Waterfront Strike, the anarchists never relinquished their sway among these maritime workers, nor did they give up their sailor’s union books.
The only known picture of Luna’s Mexican Restaurant.
Not only had Bakunin passed through San Francisco after escaping imperial Russia, the port had been used by Emma Goldman to smuggle weapons to both the Philippine and Russian insurgents. Elisee Reclus utilized the waterfront in his journey’s across the Pacific, just as many Russian refugees landed there after the collapse of their 1905 revolution. San Francisco went on to cultivate both Chinese and Japanese anarchism, harbored the blossoming IWW, and rivaled only Paris in its cultural impact. In short, San Francisco was a safe harbor for anarchists fleeing repression and a center of resistance for the international movement. It joined dozens of other North American cities in the global anarchist struggle, each with their own stories as rich as this one. Their strength lay in their particularity, not their uniformity, and when combined they were capable of changing history. These anarchists were generally our grandparents, great grandparents, or great-great grandparents, making their pasts easy to trace for those who are curious. Matters get more confusing in San Francisco.
The old anarchist Latin Quarter came to a fiery end when the Great Earthquake of 1906 set off an inferno that burned nearly all of city, including the official records dating back to 1848. Old identities were erased, new identities created, and suddenly everyone came from San Francisco. Oddly enough, one of the few neighborhoods to escape destruction was the rebel bastion of Telegraph Hill, proving its resilience against all opponents, even earthquake and fire. According to legend, it was saved by the neighborhood dousing their houses with red wine, although the story’s far more complicated.
With that in mind, we’ve offered this short video about two anarchist women who lived on Telegraph Hill in the time period just described. A lot of evidence supports their legends, although only a single picture remains of Isabelle Lemel Ferrari (taken by Jack London). In the year 1914, Isabelle and Enrico Travaglio conceived a daughter they told no one about, mostly because Isabelle didn’t want a husband, lover, or father. Isabelle named her daughter Fulvia but soon left her in a Northern California commune to go aid her comrades in Russia. The rest of the story is described in the video, although we’ve utilized clips from the San Francisco noir-film Thieves’ Highway to act as an allegory for Fulvia Ferrari’s story.
There are no known pictures of Fulvia, nor if that’s actually her name, and it’s possible she’s still alive, making her 103 years old. Her mother Isabelle’s legends are well known from the history of the Ukranian anarchist movement, although the only glimpses of Fulvia swirl around in the Beat era, get doused with LSD in the 1960s, shot up with heroin in the 1970s, given a market value in the 1980s, turned into Hollywood movies in the 1990s, and rendered digital in the 2000s. Some scholars say Thomas Pynchon wrote about her in his novels, while others claimed she knew Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin.
It’s hard to know what to believe, but we prefer the stories of annoying people at local cafes and old women sitting at bus-stops on warm evenings. Some of them say Coit Tower of Telegraph Hill is the same as the Sacre Coeur of Montmartre, a victory column over vanquished territory. They say Isabelle and Fulvia’s house on Telegraph Hill was destroyed in the 1920s and that Coit Tower’s shadow falls over its ruin. If one travels there today, that portion of the hill is covered in trees, plants, vines, wild parrots, and sculptures. There’s no plaque to mark any of this, just a few cryptic statues, offerings, and monuments that confirm all the wingnut’s stories.
The “devil-horned mermaid” of Telegraph Hill.
We hope some material practices have been revealed through this essay that might prove useful in the present moment, just as we hope the video illustrates how effectively US radical history was suppressed by the victors of the twentieth century. We encourage our readers and viewers to investigate their own North American cities and connect the dots between 1879 and 2018. Between these two dates, our miserable present came into being, although so did the secret to its reversal. San Francisco was ripped apart by the high-capitalists as punishment for its rebellious history, just as they try to defile every center of resistance that truly threatens them. As we move into this turbulent future, we hope you can take a moment and listen to what the past is saying. As we’ve demonstrated, the ghosts of the defeated are handing us weapons at every moment. All we have to do is take them up. As the Invisible Committe wrote, we believe there is no revolution without the constitution of a common material force. We do not ignore the anachronism of this belief. We know it is both too early and too late, which is why we have time. We have stopped waiting.
The post Portland, OR: Campus Police Vehicles Vandalized After Police Killing of Richard Barry appeared first on It's Going Down.The following communique was anonymously submitted to It’s Going Down and we print it here.
On November 22nd Richard Barry was confronted by PSU police officers while in the midst of a crisis. They decided to physically subdue him, a struggle ensued, then Richard died before he even reached the hospital. The press has been told that he died of a mysterious ‘medical event’ and the autopsy results have not been released. We have no doubt that he died at the hands of the police, and that no charges will be filed.
This comes in the wake of the PSU police murder of Jason Washington in June, where the officers involved were not charged. This tape continues to play countless times across the so-called United States.
They will kill us with impunity whenever they please and walk away from it with a vacation.
We are fucking pissed.
Will we continue to let this happen without striking back?
On December 10th early in the morning we attacked PCC security vehicles parked along the Portland Police office on the Cascade campus, breaking about 4 windows on 2 cruisers total. Police presence on the there is a danger to the lives of the students who attend, much like it is on PSU campus.
This action is an invitation, join us and hit them back. If you were waiting to pick up your tool of choice, now is the time. To be clear, we are calling for mass decentralized action against the police, everywhere.
If they will wage a war on us, we will offer them the same. We aren’t going to wait around for the next election riot, or the far distant ‘revolution’, every act of insurrection we take is the revolution.
The police cast a wide net of surveillance and violence, yet often their properties are the most vulnerable targets due to their inflated sense of security and utter hubris.
Let us strike fear into their hearts.
The post Minneapolis, MN: Antifascists Again Expose Neo-Nazi Supporting Landlord appeared first on It's Going Down.Report on antifascist campaign against white supremacist landlord Julius DeRoma who has contributed to the political campaigns of David Duke and Patrick Little, the latter of whom has argued that Jews should be exterminated, tortured, and raised like “livestock.”
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Over the weekend of December 8th, flyers were posted at multiple locations in Minneapolis warning of the presence of white supremacist landlord Julius DeRoma. DeRoma owns multiple businesses in the city and is landlord to many more. His businesses include Club Jäger in the North Loop and DeRoma Art Glass in Lyn-Lake. Flyers were posted at these locations, along with DeRoma’s house in southwest Minneapolis. Pictures are included below.
Julius DeRoma was outed as a white supremacist last year when news broke of his financial contribution to former KKK Grand Wizard and white supremacist politician David Duke’s 2016 Senate campaign in Louisiana. After DeRoma’s contribution to David Duke came to light, his bar Club Jäger saw employees quit en masse while performers cancelled shows, ultimately forcing it to close for several months. HUGE Improv and Legacy Glassworks, both renting properties from DeRoma, issued statements denouncing their landlord’s racism.
However, this year DeRoma reopened Club Jäger. He also quietly contributed money to Patrick Little, another virulent anti-semite who campaigned for a Senate seat in California this year, and who helped inspire the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. It’s clear that DeRoma thinks he can continue to support white supremacists without consequence.
These flyers are a signal to DeRoma that his actions will indeed have lasting consequences. There is no tolerance for white supremacy in Minneapolis or anywhere else.
OMG: Twitter warns critics of Islamic extremism that their tweets could break Pakistani law | 10 Dec 2018 | Twitter has warned prominent critics of Islamic extremism that their tweets may break Pakistani law. The social network [of sociopaths] has emailed two well-known commentators on Islam, terrorism and women's rights to tell them that their tweeting has been complained about and could be illegal in the country. Pakistan has previously threatened to block Twitter if the company did not remove content which the government had deemed "offensive". The recipients of the emails are not of Pakistani nationality or resident in Pakistan.
Despite the high proportion of people unemployed and retired, people in Southern European countries do not have more time left to participate in common or community issues. Precarious and low-wage jobs, the insecurity of personal futures, longer daily commuting, or the family assistance of children and older people are some of the new issues that overload working days. These may be some of the reasons why people tend to participate more in initiatives that start from a will of reaction or resistance to a specific problem – either locally based or humanitarian – than from a global and theoretical ambition of structural and global societal change.
Whilst, on the one hand, PIGS are living under the described extreme economical pressure where people generally think the future will be worse then the present and focus their energies on everyday issues that require immediate responses, on the other hand, locally based self-organised initiatives are flourishing as a consequence of specific and local problems as illustrated by many examples:
Coop57 is a financial services co-op that started in Catalonia, emerging from workers’ fight to keep their jobs at Editorial Bruguera, during the 1980s. Over the last decade, the action of the cooperative spread all over Spain. Its main declared goal is to help the social transformation of economy and society, assuming that money and the Coop57 cannot do it on their own, but that they can play a role in helping people, organisations, collectives and groups that promote policies for investment and quality jobs in food and energy sovereignty, inclusion and spaces for culture and socialisation.
Go to the GEO front page
The honorific changes hands with the speed of the news cycle, but for the time being, the title of “Smartest Person In DC” belongs to a 36-year-old Republican operative from Georgia named Nick Ayers. Currently serving as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Ayers’s name was all over the news this weekend after President Trump announced the at-long-last departure of his own chief of staff, John Kelly.
Ayers was a shoo-in to replace Kelly, most everyone agreed. Those who considered him a good fit for the spot pointed to his youth and vigor — Ayers looks a fair bit like the cherubic mass-murderer from the second half of “Breaking Bad” — and his deep connections with the Freedom Caucus wing of Congress. Both would serve him well in the storms to come, but for one problem: Turns out he is actually too smart to take the job.
Ayers took a long look at what was a supremely bad weekend for the White House and said, “Check please.” On Sunday afternoon, he sent his official regrets at turning down the C-o-S position with a tweet: “Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. #Georgia”
Translation: “Thank you but nope nope nope nope. I’ll be over there doing MAGA things but nope nope nope no way no how. #nope”
It really was a bad weekend for the White House. The Robert Mueller team dropped the sentencing paperwork for Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen on Friday. While the redacting pen was as busy with these documents as they were with Michael Flynn’s on Tuesday, there was enough bleeding meat on the bone to send Trump into a weekend-long, terrified Twitter frenzy that was precisely as fact-free and frightened as his last Twitter frenzy about whatever it was about.
The Friday documents had two significant thuds buried within. The first was that Manafort lied like Jeff Lebowski’s rug about his contacts with various Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, and after Trump took office in 2017.
This was combined with the revelation that Trump personally approved a plan to have Cohen reach out to Russian government contacts regarding the construction of a new Trump Tower in Moscow, a fact Trump denied multiple times both before and after the campaign. All the various Russia-related interactions, by Manafort and others associated with Trump, were weaved into a thick rope by The Washington Post in its Sunday edition.Trump reacted to being directly implicated in a pair of impeachable felonies with his usual measured calm.
The second thud was unrelated to Russia specifically, but may come to be equally damaging to Trump. In his plea, Cohen admitted to breaking a pair of campaign financing laws — giving $130,000 to Stormy Daniels and directing publisher AMI to pay $150,000 to Karen McDougal — at the direct bidding of the president. In his own words, Cohen told Mueller that payments made to McDougal and Daniels were done “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” also known as “Individual 1,” also known as Donald Trump. “I participated in this conduct,” Cohen continued, “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”
Trump reacted to being directly implicated in a pair of impeachable felonies with his usual measured calm: “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion. @FoxNews That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s — but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”
“Smocking Gun” is what makes it art.Impeachment, long seen as a fool’s errand, seems to feel more real with the arrival of each new damning chunk of evidence.
The new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will be sworn in a scant 23 days from now. “There’s a very real prospect,” soon-to-be intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff told The Chicago Tribune, “that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”
“On the day he leaves office.” Interesting choice of words there. Impeachment, long seen as a fool’s errand with the current Republican majority in the Senate, seems to feel more real with the arrival of each new damning chunk of evidence. Schiff’s line about “On the day he leaves office” suggests Trump’s resignation would serve as a ready solution to this swelling calamity… except that, even if Trump does step down, Schiff expects law enforcement will still want a word with him anyway.
Campaign finance felonies. Brazen abrogation of the emoluments clause. Myriad tax investigations into the Trump Organization and the so-called “nonprofit” Trump Foundation. Broad daylight obstruction of justice in the firing of James Comey. Oh, and look at all those Russian connections.
Ayers gets to hang on to that “Smartest Person” title for a good while, I think, like the bandleader who turned down the Titanic gig. Unsinkable, indeed.
The post If There’s No “Smocking” Gun, Why Is Trump So Terrified? appeared first on Truthout.
US tax dollars are supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has already claimed the lives of some 85,000 children, and 12 million more people are likely on the brink of starvation. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, “the starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it.”
The United States has long been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, and both the Obama and Trump administrations have provided considerable military support to the Saudi war in Yemen.
But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has finally spurred both Democrats and Republicans to take steps to end US military involvement in Yemen.
On November 28, the Senate voted 63-to-37 to advance a resolution that would direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen. However, S. J. Res. 54 carves out an exception for continued US-supported military measures against “al Qaeda or associated forces” that could be twisted to rationalize nearly any military assistance Donald Trump provides to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.S. J. Res. 54 Purports to End US Military Involvement in Yemen
Senators plan to debate S. J. Res. 54 this week. The bipartisan resolution, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) with 18 co-sponsors, invokes the War Powers Resolution. Enacted by Congress in the wake of the Vietnam War, the War Powers Resolution permits the president to introduce US Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities only after Congress has declared war, or in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,” or when there is “specific statutory authorization.”
The War Powers Resolution defines the introduction of US Armed Forces to include:
… the assignment of members of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged, in hostilities.
S. J. Res. 54 states, “activities that the United States is conducting in support of the Saudi-led coalition, including aerial refueling and targeting assistance, fall within this definition.”Trump Denies US Forces Are Engaged in “Hostilities”
Donald Trump has pledged to veto the resolution, denying that US forces are involved in “hostilities” for purposes of the War Powers Resolution. On November 28, the Trump administration issued the following Statement of Administrative Policy:
The fundamental premise of S.J. Res. 54 is flawed — United States forces are not engaged in hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces in Yemen. Since 2015, the United States has provided limited support to member countries of the Emirati and Saudi-led coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics, and, until recently, aerial refueling…. No United States forces have been introduced into hostilities, or into situations where hostilities are clearly imminent, in connection with ongoing support to the Saudi-led coalition. As a result, this United States support does not implicate the War Powers Resolution.
After stating that US Armed Forces “assist in aerial targeting and help to coordinate military and intelligence activities,” S. J. Res. 54 cites Defense Secretary James Mattis’s December 2017 statement: “We have gone in to be very – to be helpful where we can in identifying how you do target analysis and how you make certain you hit the right thing.” US targeting assistance enables the coalition to kill Yemenis more efficiently.
Nevertheless, tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed in bombings by the Saudi-led coalition, many using some of the billions of dollars’ worth of US-manufactured weapons. And late last year, a team of US Green Berets secretly arrived at the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia to help in the war.Loophole in S. J. Res. 54 Actually Authorizes US Military Involvement in Yemen
In S. J. Res. 54, Congress “directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities” in Yemen “except United States Armed forces engaged in operations directed at al Qaeda or associated forces.”
The only US combat troops on the ground in Yemen are allegedly targeting Al Qaeda forces. But, according to the ACLU, “military officials have already claimed they do not know the mission of each Saudi aircraft refueled by the US.”
National Security Adviser John Bolton has a history of skewing intelligence to support his goals.
Moreover, this resolution will not stop US drone strikes in Yemen. Although those strikes were ostensibly aimed at al Qaeda, one-third of Yemenis killed by US drone bombings were civilians, including several children, according to a recent report by the Associated Press.
Thus, under the guise of removing US forces from hostilities in Yemen, S. J. Res. 54 could actually provide congressional justification for continued military involvement under the War Powers Resolution.S. 3652 Would Suspend US Arms Transfers to Saudi Arabia
Another bipartisan bill pending in the Senate is the “Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018.” Introduced by Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and five co-sponsors, including Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), S. 3652 would suspend US arms transfers to Saudi Arabia; prohibit US refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft; impose sanctions on anyone hindering the provision of humanitarian assistance, or those involved in the death of Khashoggi, including “any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family”; mandate briefings on US military support to the Saudi-led coalition, including civilian casualties; and require an unclassified written report on the Saudis’ human rights record.
This resolution would prohibit the United States from selling the Saudis arms that could be used for offensive (but not defensive) purposes, including bombs, missiles, aircraft, munitions, tanks and armored vehicles.
The suspension of arms transfers to the Saudis, however, contains a provision allowing a presidential waiver for “national security interests” provided the secretaries of state and defense certify that for the preceding 180 days, the Saudi-led coalition has ceased all air strikes and offensive ground operations “not associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or ISIS.” Again, this would create a significant loophole.
But if S. 3652 gains traction, it would go a long way toward ending US military assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen, providing accountability for Saudi atrocities and exerting international pressure on the Saudis to end their brutal killing in Yemen.S. Res. 714 Seeks Crown Prince’s Accountability for Khashoggi Murder
Sen. Graham spearheaded a bipartisan non-binding resolution that expresses “a high level of confidence” that bin Salman was “complicit” in the death of Khashoggi, whom it identifies as an “outspoken critic of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.” The resolution calls for bin Salman to be held accountable for his contribution to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
S. Res. 714, co-sponsored by Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Todd Young (R-Indiana) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware), would express “the sense of the Senate” that the Saudi crown prince:
be held accountable for contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, preventing a resolution to the blockade of Qatar, the jailing and torture of dissidents and activists inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the use of force to intimidate rivals, and the abhorrent and unjustified murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.H. Con. Res. 138 Suffers From Similar Flaws as S. J. Res. 54
Meanwhile, H. Con. Res. 138, which directs the president to remove US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen, is pending in the House of Representatives. But procedural maneuvers by Republican Congress members have prevented its consideration during this congressional term. It will likely be reintroduced in some form when the Democrats assume control of the House in January.
H. Con. Res. 138 suffers from similar infirmities as its Senate counterpart, S. J. Res. 54. But instead of carving out an exception for al Qaeda and associated forces, H. Con. Res. 138 exempts “United States Armed Forces engaged in operations authorized under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force [AUMF]” from the mandate of the resolution. Unlike S. J. Res. 54, the House resolution fails to define “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution.
Although Congress, in the 2001 AUMF, authorized the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” only against individuals and groups responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks, three presidents have relied on it to justify at least 37 military operations in 14 countries, many of them unrelated to 9/11.
In a letter to congressional representatives urging opposition to H. Con. Res. 138, the ACLU noted that the exception in the resolution for the 2001 AUMF “raises serious concerns that the Executive Branch will claim that the Congress is implicitly recognizing and authorizing the United States’ use of force in Yemen under the AUMF.”
The ACLU letter also states, “H. Con. Res. 138 could create a harmful precedent that causes the Executive Branch to claim Congress must pass a resolution of disapproval in order for the War Powers Resolution to be effective in stopping hostilities.”Toward Ending US Support to Saudis in Yemen
Notwithstanding deeply entrenched US support for Saudi Arabia, outrage over the Saudis’ torturous murder of Khashoggi, as well as campaigns by several progressive groups, have galvanized congressional opposition to US assistance for Saudi killing in Yemen.
In March, a bipartisan Senate bill that would have halted US support to the Saudis in Yemen was defeated 55-44. At the time, Sen. Sanders, who co-sponsored the legislation, stated, “Some will argue on the floor today that we’re really not engaged in hostilities, we’re not exchanging fire. Please tell that to the people of Yemen, whose homes and lives are being destroyed by weapons marked ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’ dropped by planes being refueled by the U.S. military on targets chosen with US assistance.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights determined that between March 26, 2015, and August 9, 2018, there were a total of 17,062 civilian casualties in Yemen — 6,592 dead and 10,470 injured. The majority of them — 10,471 — resulted from airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition.
“There is a U.S. imprint on every single civilian death inside Yemen,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) recently declared, “because though the bombs that are being dropped may come out of planes that are piloted by Saudis or [United Arab Emirates forces], they are U.S.-made bombs…. It’s unconscionable.”
Congress now has an unprecedented opportunity to pass a resolution that could substantially reduce the widespread killing and humanitarian disaster in Yemen. This would be the first time since its enactment in 1973 that the War Powers Resolution is used to end a US military operation.
The Senate could act this week, but the House will not take up the matter before next year, and Trump has threatened to veto a resolution. There will invariably be amendments to any concurrent resolution in both the House and the Senate. Although the resolutions, as currently drafted, contain loopholes that could authorize US assistance to Saudi military actions against al Qaeda, and contain a clause for presidential waiver, public pressure on members of Congress to close those loopholes may well prove effective. And if sufficient pressure is applied, a resolution could garner enough congressional support to override a presidential veto.
The post Public Pressure Could Halt US Support of Yemen War appeared first on Truthout.
Federal prosecutors have accused President Trump of committing a federal crime by directing illegal hush money to two women during the presidential election. The accusation was revealed Friday in filings made public by the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including a damning sentencing memo for Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who has admitted to paying adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the campaign in order to prevent them from speaking to the media about their alleged affairs with Trump. The sentencing memo was made public along with two new sentencing memos from special counsel Robert Mueller: one for Cohen and another for Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. “We keep talking about whether you can indict a sitting president,” says independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, editor of EmptyWheel.net. “There’s still a debate about that, but, really critically, you can indict a corporation. You can indict Trump Organization.”TRANSCRIPT
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Federal prosecutors have accused President Trump of committing a federal crime by directing illegal hush money to two women during the presidential election. The accusation was revealed Friday in filings made public by the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including a damning sentencing memo for President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who has admitted to paying the women. The memo states, quote, “With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. … He acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” end-quote. “Individual-1” is a reference to President Donald Trump. The payments were made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the campaign in order to prevent them from speaking to the media about their alleged affairs with Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: The sentencing memo was made public Friday along with two new sentencing memos from special counsel Robert Mueller: one for Cohen and another for Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort.
We go now to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we’re joined by independent journalist Marcy Wheeler. She edits EmptyWheel.net and has been closely following the multiple investigations of President Trump.
Marcy, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you explain what’s most significant about these filings? And just for people to understand, we’re talking about filings from two different places, from the Mueller inquiry and from the US court in New York, from the prosecutor’s office, from the US Attorney’s Office.
MARCY WHEELER: Right. So, there’s two sentencing memos, actually, both for Cohen — one out of Manhattan, as you said, the US Attorney’s Office in New York, and one out of Mueller’s office. And then, the Manafort thing is actually not a sentencing memo. It’s just a memo laying out the lies he told and the reasons he — that the government has said that he violated his plea agreement, and all of the benefits that he thought he was going to get out of that are now gone.
The news that is catching attention is what you just said, which is that in the New York sentencing memo, it makes it very clear — doesn’t accuse Trump yet, but it makes it very clear that what Cohen did in setting up these hush payments, and, importantly, getting reimbursed by Trump Organization for these hush payments, he did it with Donald Trump’s knowledge and on his instructions. And there’s been a — in the right wing, they’re sort of saying, “Well, this is just a minor campaign finance” — actually, Trump this morning tweeted out and said that, as well. But what they’re missing is that the language the US attorney in New York uses is very clearly talking about fraud to carry out that campaign finance violation. So, for example, they point to all of the efforts Cohen and the Trump Organization used the hide the payments and to hide what they were actually for, things like the shell company that Cohen set up to carry out the payments.
And so, I would expect the next charges, the ones that might name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator but will almost certainly name Trump Organization, because, remember, his company can be indicted, and also probably whichever one of his children is named in those filings, as well, they’re going to be charged with what’s called conspiracy to defraud the United States. And the argument is that any time you carry out fraud to hide the fact — to hide stuff that prevents the government from doing regulatory work, when you do that, that’s a crime in and of itself, irregardless of how serious the campaign finance violation is. So, that seems to be where they’re going in New York.
There’s a bunch of stuff in the other two memos that say Mueller has similar kinds of crimes coming in his investigation, as well as the conspiracy with Russia. There’s still some hints that that’s going to come reasonably soon, as well.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Marcy, I want to go to Democratic Congressmember Jerry Nadler, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He was interviewed on Sunday by CNN’s Jake Tapper about Michael Cohen’s admission that he made illegal hush money payments to two women at the direction of President Trump.
JAKE TAPPER: If it’s proven, are those impeachable offenses?
REP. JERRY NADLER: Well, they would be impeachable offenses. Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question. But certainly they’d be impeachable offenses, because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. That would be the — that would be an impeachable offense.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Marcy Wheeler, can you comment on what Nadler said, its significance? And these are, in fact, impeachable offenses, he says.
MARCY WHEELER: The idea is that you cheated to win. You cheated to win the office of the presidency, and that goes to the core of whether or not you should be president. It sounds like where Nadler is going is, the underlying crime, the hush payment, may not be grave enough by itself to sustain an impeachment, but, as I mentioned, there was stuff in the filings on Friday that suggests Mueller is going to charge very similar crimes.
Just as one example, one of the things that Paul Manafort lied about is that he was getting payments through a super PAC from Tom Barrack, who is one of Trump’s biggest donors, who’s the guy who hired Paul Manafort in the first place. So he was getting payments through a super PAC that themselves are probably not legal. And it raises questions — the question we’ve always asked about Paul Manafort is: He was dead broke for the entire time he was working for Trump, so who was paying him? And if he was being paid through this super PAC, for example, then it’s another example of, as I said before, the conspiracy to defraud the United States. And what I expect is what we see in New York. We’re going to see parallel kinds of charges but tied to hiding the role of the Russians, in Mueller’s investigations. And those, I think, together, will add up.
And then the other thing that I think is really important that people have just forgotten through this entire process — we keep talking about whether you can indict a sitting president. You know, there’s still a debate about that, but, really critically, you can indict a corporation. You can indict Trump Organization. And that filing in New York and, frankly, the Cohen filing from Mueller, as well, both make it quite clear that the Trump Organization was involved in this fraudulent activity. And so, I think we should start talking a lot more about how Trump is going to react when his eponymous corporation starts getting charged in crimes, as well, because, you know, that’s where his ego is invested, that’s where his alleged billions are invested. And that, too, I think, makes him vulnerable in a way other presidents have not been.
AMY GOODMAN: So, the issue is, I mean, you’ve got the hush money payments for alleged affairs that Trump was trying to keep secret. But then, on the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which is supposedly what this inquiry was all about, explain what you think is most significant about what both Michael Cohen has said and what Manafort has said, why, for example, building a Trump Tower in Moscow weighs in here and more. And what were you most surprised by, Marcy?
MARCY WHEELER: It wasn’t surprising. We’re still getting more details about Cohen’s version of the Trump Tower deal. But the language that prosecutors — that the Mueller’s prosecutors here used in his sentencing memo was really stark, because it laid out that that Trump Tower deal could have meant hundreds of millions of dollars for Trump. That Trump Tower deal, they make explicit, probably required the involvement of the Russian government. That Trump Tower deal was being arranged at the same time as the June 9th meeting we’ve heard about over and over again. So, there’s that paragraph in the Cohen memo which lays out the stakes of what it meant for Trump, for Cohen, for Don Jr. to be open to a meeting with Vladimir Putin and to be open to a meeting from Russians offering election-year assistance on behalf of the Russian government. So, the language that Rob Goldstone, who’s the music promoter who set up that June 9th meeting — he talks about a package of assistance from the Russian government.
And the Cohen memo makes it very clear now what that would have meant to Don Jr. To Don Jr., it would have meant hundreds of millions of dollars if Vladimir Putin would buy off on this Trump Tower deal. And so, it really changes his willingness. Most of the witnesses in that meeting say that at the end of that meeting he said, “Sure, we’ll get rid of — you know, we’ll revisit these Magnitsky sanctions when and if my dad wins.” Changes the entire meaning of that meeting. And I think it makes it a lot clearer what the quid pro quo there was involved. And it was about money, and, again, money for the Trump Organization. So, it goes to that corporate entity, that can also be charged, in addition to Don Jr., who keeps talking about his expectation he’ll be indicted.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Marcy Wheeler, what do you expect — what steps do you expect the Trump administration to now take? I mean, the White House has essentially entirely dismissed what happened on Friday, saying that nothing new was revealed and nothing damaging to the president.
MARCY WHEELER: Well, it’s not clear they can do much. Matt Whitaker has not been able to prevent anything from happening. It’s not yet clear whether he’s cleared his ethics review. So it’s not yet clear whether he actually is in direct control of the Mueller investigation yet, because he should be recused. He should be ethically not permitted to be in charge of this. But the thing is that, I mean, you know, the Mueller — the Manafort discussion about the lies he told, that’s going to go forward regardless of what Whitaker said. Again, Don Jr. sounds like he recognizes more and more that Mueller has the goods, not just that he lied, but that he lied for a reason. He lied to hide this larger deal that was going on. And it sounds like Michael Cohen has provided a great deal of evidence in support of that. That’s why the Mueller prosecutor said that he actually should get some consideration in his sentencing.
So, I’m not sure what Trump can do to interrupt it. I mean, he wants to bring in William Barr as attorney general, but he, too, is going to have ethical problems, because he interviewed to be on Trump’s defense team. So, it’s not even clear, if he does get confirmed quickly, that he’ll be able to help Trump in the way that he helped Poppy Bush years ago in killing the Iran-Contra crisis. So, we’ll see. But I’m not — I think it may be beyond Trump’s ability to really undercut this investigation anymore.
AMY GOODMAN: Marcy Wheeler, we want to thank you very much for being with us, independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties, runs the website EmptyWheel.net. We’ll link to your latest piece, “The Quid Pro Quo Was Even Tighter Than I Imagined.”
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to the streets of Katowice, Poland, where thousands marched this weekend. And we go underground in a coal mine here in Poland. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Music from today’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, where Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi Kurd from Iraq, were both awarded the prize for their fight against sexual violence.
The post Mueller Probe Could Lead to Indictment of the Trump Organization appeared first on Truthout.
This week Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have blocked language “welcoming” October’s landmark IPCC climate report that warned of the catastrophic effects of a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which global crises could unfold at a rapid pace. The four countries rejected using the word “welcome,” insisting that members instead “note” the findings of the widely cited UN report. We begin our coverage with voices of some of the thousands of climate activists from around the world who marched in Katowice on Saturday, calling for world leaders to do more to keep rising greenhouse gas emissions in check. We also speak with a member of the European Parliament who confronted undercover Polish officials who were monitoring the protest.TRANSCRIPT
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We’re broadcasting from the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thousands of climate activists marched here in Katowice, Poland, on Saturday, calling for world leaders to do more to keep rising greenhouse gas emissions in check. It was the only permitted protest during the 2-week UN climate talks. Earlier this year, Poland’s right-wing government banned all spontaneous protests and gatherings within the city. The police have also been given the authority to carry out widespread surveillance during the summit. In addition, Polish authorities blocked some climate activists from entering the country. The Climate Action Network reports at least 12 members of civil society were denied entry into Poland.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, on Saturday, Democracy Now! was out in the streets of Katowice.
PROTESTERS: Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!
KEVIN BUCKLAND: Hi. My name’s Kevin. I’m part of the Gastivists Collective. So, we’re here on the street, and we are surrounded by robocops, which is ridiculous. This is a completely peaceful protest, beautiful energy from people all around the world. But it is showing the relationship between state power in protecting the interests of the fossil fuel companies. And Europe imports about half of the world’s gas and produces almost none of it. So Europe has a hugely important role to play here. And using hundreds of billions of euros of public money to build a new generation of fossil fuel infrastructure, fossil gas infrastructure, is the wrong direction, when all that money could be spent on renewables.
If, while we’re resisting just coal and oil, they build the next generation of fossil fuel infrastructure, fossil gas infrastructure, we’re going to have to fight that one next. So we say, “Look, if the industry is selling gas as a bridge fuel, let’s take out the bridge. Let’s stop fossil fuel industry right here. And let’s go directly to the renewable energy transition we need.” We don’t have to lock ourselves into another 30 years of fossil fuel infrastructure.
PROTESTERS: Poland, not coal land! Poland, not coal land! Poland, not coal land!
DOROTHY NALUBEGA: I am Dorothy Nalubega. I’m from Uganda. I am part of the delegation of the Global Greens. The Global Greens is a network of all Green political parties in the world. And we are here at COP to push for policies to put for measures of climate mitigation that help all the world together, because climate change is a global — it’s a global issue.
Yet we know that being greedy is one of the grave causes of climate change. It is greed that has brought about the attack on the Hambach Forest in Germany. It is greed that has brought about the sand mining in Uganda, my country. It is greed that has brought about the attack on Mabira Forest in Uganda, my country. It is also greed that has brought about fracking in the U.K. So we are here today on the streets to join others to fight that, to give a message to our leaders to stop the greed and think about the generation to come.
PROTESTERS: Keep your coal in the hole. Keep your coal in the hole. Keep the oil in the soil. Keep the oil in the soil. Keep the tar in the sand. Keep the tar in the sand. Keep the gas in the land. Keep the gas in the land.
TETET LAURON: My name is Tetet Lauron, and I come from the Philippines. I’m with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. We’re saying feminists demand climate justice. We are here to expose and oppose the rise of macho-fascism, not just in the hallways of the negotiations, but all over the world. From where I come from, the Philippines, Duterte is a macho-fascist, killing environmental rights defenders, human rights defenders, feminists, everyone who gets in his way. And it’s the same thing all over the world. We see the rise of a macho-fascism who decide on what the future of our planet will be. We cannot allow that to happen. We need to rise up. Time is up for those leaders.
The governments here do not want critical voices, and they want to silence us. The Polish bill has been enacted since last year trying to silence critical voices during the climate talks. It says demonstrations not allowed, protests not allowed. But as you can see, even if they don’t allow it, we will assert for our right to express ourselves and to protest.
SRIRAM MADHUSOODANAN: I’m Sriram Madhusoodanan from Corporate Accountability, based in Boston. And we’re here in solidarity with people’s movements around the world demanding climate justice, the people’s demands for climate justice at COP24. It’s absolutely extremely concerning that those organizations representing the voices of people are shut out when, in the same voice, just yesterday, an executive of Shell was practically boasting about their influence in the Paris Agreement and shaping parts of it, like Article 6 on markets. This is unacceptable. We have a corporation that still is not being held accountable for a long track record of human rights and environmental crimes, including in the Niger Delta. And for it to be boasting about how it is shaping the global agreement about how the world responds to climate change, that’s shameful, and that’s unacceptable.
JARON BROWNE: I’m Jaron Browne. I’m with Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. And I’m here with the It Takes Roots delegation from North America, front-line delegation. We feel like the solution of just transition is critical. And the conversation in Poland and being here even brings it more home to us, because we have folks in our movement from Appalachia who right now are taking over Mitch McConnell’s office this week because of the conditions happening with black lung and the serious health impacts for coal workers and also for communities whose water and land have been polluted. So, it’s not a question of, you know, workers versus community, but together we have real solutions. And that’s what our movements are bringing. We’re bringing a real vision of just transition that can transform the whole economy while also dealing with this urgent climate crisis.
YACEK BOZEK: Yacek Bozek, Klub Gaja. So, we are in Silesia area. This is the place, one of the places in Europe, where is not very nice air quality. Not very nice air quality is not very example — good example. We have some places in this place where air quality is the worst in Europe, like in Pszczyna, for example. And this is the reason that people have to use sometime the mask. This is the mask, anti-smoke mask. And this is the symbol for the COP24, that if we want to talk about changes, the first we have to think about people.
YUYUN HARMONO: My name is Yuyun Harmono. I’m from WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia. We are here protesting our government, because our government plans to build more coal power plants. It’s not compatible with the scientists’ recommendation that we need to leave coal immediately. In developing countries, especially in the South, people are devastated because of climate change. There is a typhoon. There is a — people have to leave their places because they cannot live there anymore. The water is coming to their place. And it’s not — it’s impossible for them to live in that place. That is why we ask for the South, the developing countries, they have to act fast. They need to reduce their emissions. And they need to do it now.
MAKOMA LEKALAKALA: Makoma Lekalakala, and I’m from South Africa, Earthlife Africa. I’m here to amplify voices of poor people all over the world who are demanding climate justice. We have no more time. This is time to act. My main mission coming here was also to ensure that there is no nuclear subsidies in finance, in climate finance. Nuclear is not a solution to climate change. It can never be a solution to climate change because of the nuclear fuel chain, which is high carbon-intensive. So, at this COP, what we expect is for the negotiators to listen, to actually listen to what the IPCC report says, that nuclear is not a solution to climate change. It can never be a solution to climate change. And it should not even be considered.
VIDYA DINKER: My name is Vidya Dinker from INSAF, which is Indian Social Action Forum. And I come from South India, a coastal city, where there is ever-expanding industry taking away land and water from people and polluting our lives. Climate change is very real now. We see unprecedented flooding in our part of the world. We also see climate change, things getting hotter all the time. And we see that corporations are completely oblivious to it.
And even though our nations come here to COP and talk all the great talk, walking the walk is actually much needed, and that is not happening in our countries. They still support corporations and land grab for corporations. They are seeing that they get their subsidies. Farmers are struggling. We had a big march with farmers down Parliament Street from all over the country, congregating in Delhi, which is the national capital, demanding that there is a special session of Parliament for farmers’ issues, because farmers in India are committing suicide. They’re struggling every day. This kind of shortsighted development path that we are treading is something that is going to land us all into a hellhole.
PATRICIAH ROY AKULLO: My name is Patriciah Roy Akullo from the ACTAlliance Uganda Forum. We are here today because of the impact of climate change in our country. We are having long droughts and flooding at the same time. So, when we’re having so much drought, it means the communities cannot grow crops, so they’re having hunger, prolonged hunger. Children and women are affected. Children are not going to school, because they don’t have food at school. Their parents cannot afford school fees, because they don’t have crops to sell and raise money for their family. So the impact is quite grave. When it floods, the farm fields are flooded. Animals are dying. And if we do not see this as something grave, if the world cannot see our suffering and cannot commit to finance [inaudible], it’s not fair. It’s not climate justice. So that’s why the ACTAlliance is saying we want action now. Act now for climate justice.
JAKUB GOGOLEWSKI: My name is Jakub Gogolewski. I’m a finance campaigner with the coalition called Development YES-Open-Pit Mines NO. We are preventing all new lignite mines in Poland. And the colleagues behind me are trying to prevent what is deemed to be the last coal power plant in Poland, a very controversial project.
What we are also doing is we are using Poland to change the insurance industry. In Europe, there was a tremendous shift. In the U.S., the Insure Our Future campaign just started on U.S. insurers, which are still insuring the dirty tar sands pipelines and coal. There was a tremendous shift of the biggest reinsurers in Europe last year — Swiss Re, Munich Re. Brokers already tell us that projects in Asia, we are having problems to insure. So, this is working. So what we are saying is we actually can make coal uninsurable. If coal is not insurable, we don’t have to — we can build it in Turkey, we can build it in Indonesia, we can build it in Poland and other places that really need it.
PROTESTERS: What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!
AMY GOODMAN: Just some of the voices of thousands of people who marched Saturday for climate here in Katowice, Poland.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: During the protest, one member of the European Parliament, Thomas Waitz of Austria, confronted undercover Polish officials who were monitoring the protest. Democracy Now!’s Tami Woronoff spoke to Waitz shortly after the confrontation.
THOMAS WAITZ: So these people don’t want to tell us from which organization they are. I’m a member of the European Parliament. And he’s telling me, first, he’s not speaking English. Then he speaks English, and he says, “We are a group of friends here.” I would ask you a last time, legitimize yourself: From which organization are you? You’re all dressed in the same way here. For who are you working? Excuse me, sir? Can you hear me? So, this is something we see here, how the Polish government hides their own officials. They’re not even ready to say who they are and who they work for. My name is Thomas Waitz. I’m a member of the European Parliament.
TAMI WORONOFF: Where do you think they’re from?
THOMAS WAITZ: I think they’re a part of the Polish officials. I think they’re a part of the Secret Service, or they are part of the police force trying to hide their identity.
TAMI WORONOFF: Why do you think they’re here?
THOMAS WAITZ: I think they’re here to control the protest. I think they’re here to intervene from inside the protest if there’s any problems. But I don’t know what they’re actually doing here, because there’s so many police here. There are thousands of policemen guarding these very few protesters here, which is very ordinary people, normal people, not doing anything wrong. This is a complete ridiculous over-security measure here. It’s important that police guides the demonstration, but these persons here, they try to hide their identity, and they have a secret mission. And they’re also trying to hide their faces. They’re hiding their faces behind scarves.
TAMI WORONOFF: Can you describe the police presence here a little bit?
THOMAS WAITZ: The police presence is scary. The police is completely equipped with big amounts of tear gas. They’re equipped with electric Tasers. They are completely armed as they would go to war. And it’s a complete overdone security measure. And these people here are, I would say, 98 percent absolutely peaceful, normal citizens using their right to demonstrate. But this is a very militaristic and very aggressive attitude that we see, especially these guys, not even saying who they are working for. Who are you working for? Come on, tell us. He’s turning around. The message they send is that the official representatives of Polish politics do not see the climate rescue movement as allies but more as enemies. And I can feel that people feel threatened here as enemies and not as a welcomed part of civil society.
AMY GOODMAN: European Parliamentarian Thomas Waitz of Austria here in the streets of Katowice, Poland. When we come back, Democracy Now! goes into a coal mine. Stay with us.
The post Demonstrators at UN Climate Summit Face Riot Police and Intimidation appeared first on Truthout.
Breaking News! — as NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt often puts it when beginning his evening broadcast. Here, in summary, is my view of the news that’s breaking in the United States on just about any day of the week:
Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump.
Or rather (in the president’s style):
Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!!!!!!!!
Or here’s another way of thinking about the news unmediated — a word that’s gained new resonance in the age of The Donald — by anyone but him: below you’ll find a set of run-on tweets from you-know-who to his base — and by that I mean not just his American fans but “the Fake News Media” that treats such messages as the catnip of their twenty-first-century lives. These particular ones are from the afternoon of November 29th and the morning of November 30th @realDonaldTrump (mistakes and all). Consider it a wee sampling of the unmediated DJT (SAD!). However, given the desperately sped up all-Donald-all-the-time universe we live in, these — being almost two weeks old — are already ancient history, the equivalent of so many messages from Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, scratched in cuneiform on clay tablets:
“Just landed in Argentina with @FLOTUS Melania! #G20Summit. ‘This demonstrates the Robert Mueller and his partisans have no evidence, not a whiff of collusion, between Trump and the Russians. Russian project legal. Trump Tower meeting (son Don), perfectly legal. He wasn’t involved with hacking.’ Gregg Jarrett. A total Witch Hunt! Alan Dershowitz: ‘These are not crimes. He (Mueller) has no authority to be a roving Commissioner. I don’t see any evidence of crimes.’ This is an illegal Hoax that should be ended immediately. Mueller refuses to look at the real crimes on the other side. Where is the IG REPORT? Arrived in Argentina with a very busy two days planned. Important meetings scheduled throughout. Our great Country is extremely well represented. Will be very productive! Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail… Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!”
And so it goes in an America already preparing to sign off on 2018 in a blur of Trump.
Or think of the Trumpian news cycle as just a set of trigger names: Paul (pardon “not off the table”) Manafort, Michael (“very weak”) Cohen, Robert (“phony witch hunt”) Mueller, Mia (“gave me no love”) Love, Vladimir (“very, very strong”) Putin, Mohammed (“might have done it” ) bin Salman, Justin (“stabbed us in the back”) Trudeau, Emmanuel (“very insulting”) Macron, Rex (“dumb as a rock“) Tillerson, James (“weak and untruthful slime ball”) Comey, Jim (“rude, terrible person”) Acosta, Roger (“guts”) Stone.
Or here are the names of the 13 New York Times reporters with bylines on pieces in some way related to Donald Trump and in that paper on the day after the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress about a “potential Russian business deal during the presidential campaign”: Mike McIntire, Megan Twohey, Mark Mazzetti, Benjamin Weiser, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, Peter Baker, Daniel Politi, David D. Kirkpatrick, Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere, Linda Qui, and David E. Sanger. And these six reporters were given credit for helping on one or more of the pieces those 13 were involved in producing: Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Eileen Sullivan, William K. Rashbaum, Neil MacFarquhar, Matt Apuzzo, and Andrew Kramer. (And that’s not even including whoever wrote the unsigned editorial page column, “Why It Matters That Mr. Cohen Lied,” or Kitty Bennett who, according to a note, “contributed research” to one of those pieces.)
And if you’re not yet feeling satisfied that I’ve caught our Trumpian moment adequately, I could certainly launch into a list of the endless insults the president regularly tosses out at “the Fake News Media” and “the Clinton News Network” in the feeding frenzy that now passes for “the news” or I could simply offer you the most relevant insults he aimed at individual reporters — mainly black ones — on the week of November 5th. (“What a stupid question. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot and you ask a lot of stupid questions.”) At this point, though, let me take pity on your souls. I suspect you’ve already got the gist of things. I have a feeling, in fact, that you already had it long before I ever put down a word of the above.
After all, as hard as it may still be to believe, HE looms over our lives, our planet, in a way no other human being ever has … whose images were once plastered all over the Soviet Union and China. Even the staggering attention recently paid to an otherwise less than overwhelming dead president, one George H.W. Bush, could only have occurred because, in his relative diffidence, he seemed to some like the un-Trump of some long gone moment. The blanket coverage was, in other words, really just another version of Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!!!!!!!!
All in all, check off these first two presidential years of his as a bravura performance, which shouldn’t really surprise any of us. What was he, after all, but a whiz of a performer long before he hit the White House? And what are we — the media and the rest of us — but (whether we like it or not, whether we care to be or not) his apprentices?
Now, for a little breaking news of another sort! Unbelievably enough, despite all evidence to the contrary, there are still other things going on out there somewhere, even if Donald Trump has thrown so much of it into shadow. I’m talking about a world — or parts of it, anyway — that doesn’t test well in focus groups and isn’t guaranteed, like this American president, to keep eyes eternally (or even faintly) glued to screens, a world that, in the age of Donald Trump, goes surprisingly unnoted and unnoticed.
So consider the rest of this piece the most minimalist partial rundown on, in particular, an American imperial world of war and preparations for the same, that is, but shouldn’t be, in the shadows; that shouldn’t be, but often is dealt with as if it existed on the far side of nowhere.What We Don’t See
Let’s start with the only situation I can recall in which Donald Trump implicitly declared himself to be an apprentice. In the wake of the roadside-bomb deaths of three American soldiers in Afghanistan (a fourth would die later) — neither Donald Trump nor anyone else in Washington gives a damn, of course, about the escalating numbers of dead Afghans, military and civilian — the president expressed his condolences in an interview with the Washington Post. He then went on to explain why he (and so we) were still in Afghanistan (14,000 or so US military personnel, a vast array of American air power, and nearly 27,000 private contractors). “We’re there,” he said, “because virtually every expert that I have and speak to say[s] if we don’t go there, they’re going to be fighting over here. And I’ve heard it over and over again.”
Those “experts” are undoubtedly from among the very crew who have, over the last 17-plus years, helped fight the war in Afghanistan to what top US commanders now call a “stalemate,” which might otherwise be defined as the edge of defeat. In those years, before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office threatening to dump the longest war in American history, it had largely disappeared from American consciousness. So had much else about this country’s still-spreading wars and the still-growing war state that went with them.
In other words, none of what’s now happening in Afghanistan and elsewhere is either unique to, or even attributable to, the Trumpian moment. This president has merely brought to a head a process long underway in which America’s never-ending war on terror, which might more accurately be thought of as a war to spread terror, had long ago retreated to the far side of nowhere.
Similarly, the war state in Washington, funded in a fashion that no other set of countries on this planet even comes close to, and growing in preeminence, power, and influence by the year, continues to go largely unnoticed. Today, it is noted only in terms of Donald Trump, only to the degree that he blasts its members or former members for their attitudes toward him, only to the degree to which his followers denounce “the deep state.” Meanwhile, ex-CIA, ex-NSA, and ex-FBI officials he’s excoriated suddenly morph into so many liberal heroes to be all-but-worshipped for opposing him. What they did in the “service” of their country — from overseeing torture, warrantless wiretapping, wars, and drone assassination programs to directly intervening for the first time in an American election — has been largely forgiven and forgotten, or even turned into bestsellerdom.
Yes, American troops (aka “warriors,” aka “heroes”) from the country’s all volunteer force, or AVF, continue to be eternally and effusively thanked for their service in distant war zones, including by a president who speaks of “my generals” and “my military.” However, that military has essentially become the US equivalent of the French Foreign Legion, an imperial police force fighting wars in distant lands while most Americans obliviously go about their business.
And who these days spends any time thinking about America’s drone wars or the assassin-in-chief in the Oval Office who orders “targeted killings” across significant parts of the planet? Yes, if you happened to read a recent piece by Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast, you would know that, under President Trump, the already jacked-up drone strikes of the Obama era have been jacked-up again: 238 of them in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan alone in the first two years of Trump’s presidency (and that doesn’t even include Libya). And keep in mind that those figures also don’t include far larger numbers of drone strikes in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The numbers of dead from such strikes (civilian as well as terrorist) are essentially of no interest here.
And here’s another crucial aspect of Washington’s militarized global policies that has almost completely disappeared into the shadows. If you read a recent piece by Nick Turse at the Intercept, you would know that, across the continent of Africa, the US now has at least 34 military installations, ranging from small outposts to enormous, still expanding bases. To put this in the context of the much-ballyhooed new great power struggle on Planet Earth, the Chinese have one military base on that continent (in Djibouti near the biggest US base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier) and the Russians none.
In the Greater Middle East, from Afghanistan to Turkey, though it’s hard to come up with a good count, the US certainly has 50 or more significant garrisons (in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Oman, Qatar, and Turkey, among other places); Russia two (in Syria); and China none. In fact, never has any country garrisoned the planet in such an imperial and global fashion. The US still has an estimated 800 or so military bases spread across the globe, ranging from tiny “lily pads” to garrisons the size of small American towns in what Chalmers Johnson once called its “empire of bases.” And the American high command is clearly still thinking about where further garrisons might go. As the Arctic, for instance, begins to melt big time, guess who’s moving in?
And yet, in the age of Trump, when on any given day the New York Times has scads of employees focused on the president, neither that paper nor any other mainstream media outlet finds it of interest to cover developments in that empire of bases. In other words, for the media as for the American public, one of the major ways this country presents itself to others, weapons in hand, essentially doesn’t exist.
The world as it is — the world of those wars, those bases, and a national security state looming in its own unauditable fashion over the nation’s capital as well as the planet — has essentially been obliterated from American life, except as it relates to one man. Only when he manically tweets, complains, insults, or comments about any of this, does it, or a cast of characters connected to it, briefly emerge from the shadows and become a modest part of American life.“We Came, We Saw, He Died”
Donald Trump is hardly alone in this process of self-focused obliteration. Consider, for instance, the former first lady, senator, secretary of state, and failed presidential candidate whom the president still likes to call “crooked Hillary.” In a Guardian interview, she recently made headlines by offering a little unsolicited advice on right-wing populism to political figures on another continent. “I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” she said. “I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — ‘we are not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support’ — because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.”
In other words, when it comes to dealing with the staggering number of displaced people on this planet, she had some words of wisdom for Europe’s leaders, but curiously — or perhaps not so curiously at all — there was a small personal connection she managed to avoid. When you look at where those refugees eager to flood Europe are coming from, the three countries that have led the list since 2014 are Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan; the fourth is Nigeria. In other words, refugees from the top three lands now creating a political crisis in Europe were displaced, at least in significant part, thanks to the American war on terror and the never-ending fallout from the 2003 Bush administration invasion of Iraq. Hillary Clinton, of course, backed that invasion big time as a senator and she was involved in all of those American wars as secretary of state.
In addition, Nigerian and other desperate African refugees heading north for possible nightmarish journeys across the Mediterranean normally pass through another war-torn catastrophe of a land. Its name should certainly ring a bell with the former secretary of state. After all, she infamously mocked the 2011 death of its autocratic ruler during a US/NATO military intervention she had promoted this way: “We came, we saw, he died.”
Think of that as the epitaph on the gravestone not just of the now-failed state and terrorist haven of Libya, but of the twenty-first-century Washington Dream of a world of successful American wars and of a planetary Pax Americana. In other words, given the last 17-plus years, there was nothing strange about the fact that Hillary Clinton offered advice to the Europeans (don’t let them in!), but not to us (get out!).
Or think of it this way: those shadows were there, obliterating much of a splintering and splinted world even before Donald Trump shambled into the Oval Office. In this century, Americans have been in something like a contest of avoidance when it came to what their country and the planet it garrisons were becoming. If anything, Donald J. Trump has only made that avoidance easier — at least for the moment — as his penumbra spreads ever more darkly across our land.
Legal experts and prosecutors are pushing back against the claim President Donald Trump made early Monday morning when he said his secret payments to silence women claiming extramarital sexual affairs with him were nothing more than a “simple private transaction.”
Trump was referring to the recent court filings involving his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and the revelations that Cohen, at the order of the president, created payment schemes to get both porn actor Stormy Daniels and former playboy model Karen McDougal to be quiet about the affairs they claim to have had with Trump while he was married to First Lady Melania Trump. Trump has denied the affairs, but previously pretended not to know anything about the payments.
Trump calls creating a shell company to pay off a porn star from disclosing an extramarital affair weeks before a presidential election a “simple private transaction.”
It’s also *smoking gun. pic.twitter.com/TMao7CLeAO
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 10, 2018
New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg noted in response to Trump’s morning tweet, “In Stormy Daniels/Karen McDougal hush $ deals prosecutors didn’t see ‘simple transactions,’ they saw a brazen effort to deceive the voting public through illegal means meant to hide that deception from campaign disclosure requirements.”
As Reuters notes in its reporting on the president’s claim, “Under US law, campaign contributions, defined as things of value given to a campaign to influence an election, must be disclosed. Such payments are also limited to $2,700 per person.”
According to a Saturday column in the Times by government watchdog experts Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder and Norman Eisen, the sentencing memos released last week are, in fact, quite damaging to Trump and put him at legal risk:
The Trump Organization’s reimbursements to Mr. Cohen for payments were fraudulently disguised as legal fees — and, according to the memo, were approved by senior executives at the organization. The New York prosecutors also disclosed that they are investigating additional unspecified matters involving Mr. Cohen and, presumably, the Trump Organization. In light of these disclosures, the likelihood that the company and the Trump campaign face charges is now high.
Although President Trump may avoid a similar fate because the Justice Department is unlikely to indict a sitting president, he could be named as an unindicted co-conspirator, as was President Richard Nixon, or charged if he leaves office before the statute of limitations runs out (most likely in 2022).
“Contrary to the president’s claim that all of this ‘totally clears’ him,” the trio of legal experts wrote, “the danger to Mr. Trump, his business and his campaign has compounded significantly.”
In response to Trump’s morning tweet on Monday, the Washington Post reports that “prosecutors disagree” with the president’s latest claim:
In morning tweets, Trump says payments to silence women were a “simple private transaction,” not illegal campaign contributions.
Prosecutors disagree. https://t.co/BnkUE59Wqs
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 10, 2018
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, Rep. Jerrod Nadler (D-NY) said that what Cohen is alleging transpired during the 2016 campaign in terms of Trump’s personal payments to the women would be a clear campaign law violation and could be grounds for impeachment:
— The Hill (@thehill) December 10, 2018
The post Trump Says He Didn’t Have to Disclose Payments. Legal Experts Disagree. appeared first on Truthout.
Earlier this year, the tech company Novo Dia Group announced it would not continue as a vendor with the US Department of Agriculture, due to a switch in federal contractors. What seemed a run-of-the-mill business decision threw a very real wrench into the availability of locally-grown foods for low-income Americans.
The problem was that Novo Dia held the only keys to a USDA program dedicated to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program processing software and equipment for 1,700 farmers’ markets nationwide. Without Novo Dia providing this service, markets would have no way to accept SNAP — a disruption that would cost farmers income and SNAP recipients food.
If you’ve ever attempted to switch your cell phone provider but keep your actual device, you might be able to relate: Farmers’ markets had perfectly functional and expensive equipment that simply would not work with any other SNAP processing software. It’s the government equivalent of trying to keep your iPhone when you move from Verizon to AT&T.
This episode raised a lot of questions about the government’s relationship with tech companies tasked with administering public programs: How does it choose who to hire? How does it hold those companies accountable? And how do those decisions affect the daily lives of low-income Americans who rely on being able to access their benefits?
The answers are vitally important: Governments are increasingly relying on new technologies to sort applications, manage caseloads, and distribute benefits. How such technology is contracted, developed, and deployed will have real impacts on millions of low-income Americans.
Take, for instance, what happened in Washington, DC. In the fall of 2016, the city’s Department of Human Services, along with the contractor Infosys Public Services Inc., replaced a computer system the District had been using since the early 1990s to enroll low-income residents in SNAP and cash assistance programs. The Food and Nutrition Service, the USDA agency responsible for administering the country’s nutrition assistance programs, issued a letter to the DC Department of Human Services, warning against launching the new system without having done adequate testing.
But two months later, DC rolled out the system anyway — to repeated outages and glitches, including benefits not being loaded onto Electronic Benefit Transfer cards.
Frustrations between agency employees and customers ran so high that there were physical altercations in some enrollment offices, causing the union representing the workers to issue a formal grievance. The union asked that the agency return to using the previous technology or distribute hazard pay to employees.
Rhode Island, meanwhile, has been struggling to serve its SNAP recipients since it rolled out a new $364 million computer system in 2016 — known as the Unified Health Infrastructure Project — causing delays in distribution by the thousands. Recently, the Food and Nutrition Service threatened to withhold more than $900,000 in federal reimbursements due to Rhode Island’s continued failure to address a list of nearly 30 items related to system functionality, issuance of benefits, backlogs, certification, and more.
In turn, state Department of Nutrition Services Director Courtney Hawkins blamed Deloitte Consulting, the company contracted to build the computer system saying, “This formal warning underscores the fact that Deloitte has not yet delivered a fully functioning system that works on behalf of Rhode Islanders.” In April, the company apologized for its disastrous roll-out.
To date, two federal class action lawsuits have been filed against Rhode Island over its SNAP program. Recently, it was reported that the total cost of its new computer system had reached “$647.7 million through the 2019-20 federal fiscal year, with $138 million of that amount to be covered by state taxpayers and the rest by the federal government.”
Part of the problem in developing these systems is how the government chooses which companies to hire, said Dave Guarino, director of GetCalFresh, a project of Code for America. He notes that there are only “a small number of vendors who know how to navigate the procurement process, and they’re the ones who get the contracts.”
Thus, the proposal and bidding process limits the amount of competition and creates stagnancy in the technology developed for government programs. It also leaves out newer, smaller, and more innovative companies.
In theory, this is because the government process is designed to decrease risk, given the high amount of sensitive and confidential information managed by these systems, so it’s the well-known contractors with a track record of managing large projects who ultimately get the gig.
But Guarino says that government technology crises, such as IT disasters for SNAP recipients, highlight the need for a true shift in thinking about risk and agility. “We should be demanding better software and better experiences,” said Guarino. “But if we want government to be able to act more nimbly and quickly, we also need to be able to say that government can take more risks.”
While risk-taking can have downsides, Guarino said the best practice is to test new ideas “on a really small scale in a way that minimizes risk, but maximizes learning” — a concept that could have helped to prevent harm caused by the failure of the DC system roll-out, as problems could have been spotted and fixed with a relatively small control group.
Guarino also noted the importance of working with a broad range of partners to develop and administer technology, as well as dividing up tasks to “the best firm for each job.”
His own project, GetCalFresh, is one such successful model. GetCalFresh offers online SNAP applications for 36 counties in California, and its technology was developed to measure and remove barriers that often prevent low-income people from accessing their benefits. Users can easily submit SNAP applications by mobile phone or computer, often in fewer than 10 minutes, and can also send verification documents securely via their phones. And by working with a wide range of partners, including Code For America, state and county agencies, and organizations, Guarino said the project is more successful than it would be with a single entity at the helm.
“These things often aren’t talked about as dimensions of why poverty persists and why some poverty solutions don’t reach everybody they could,” said Guarino, “But they’re a really huge deal.”
The thousands of farmers and customers affected by the Novo Dia debacle would likely agree. And as DC, Rhode Island and surely other places have proven, short-sighted decisions and worse implementation of new government tech can adversely impact scores of people. Indeed, if we want innovative, effective poverty solutions in today’s digital landscape, we need to think hard about tech.
The post Low-Income People Suffer When Government Tech Contracts Change appeared first on Truthout.
China is deploying emotional surveillance technology that mines data from the minds of its citizens. Essentially, they’re data mining by reading their brains.
The light-weight sensory helmets … Read the rest
The post China Is Data Mining DIRECTLY FROM THE BRAINS of Workers appeared first on The Organic Prepper.
Another week, another set of reminders that, while Facebook likes to paint itself as an “optimistic” company that’s simply out to help users and connect the world, the reality is very different. This past week, those reminders include a collection of newly released documents suggesting that the company adopted a host of features and policies even though it knew those choices would harm users and undermine innovation.
This month, a member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament published a trove of internal documents from Facebook, obtained as part of a lawsuit by a firm called Six4Three. The emails, memos, and slides shed new light on Facebook’s private behavior before, during, and after the events leading to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Here are some key points from the roughly 250 pages of documents.Facebook Uses New Android Update to Pry Into Your Private Life in Ever-More Terrifying Ways
The documents include some of the internal discussion that led to Facebook Messenger’s sneaky logging of Android users’ phone call and text message histories. When a user discovered what Messenger was doing this past spring, it caused public outrage right on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica news. Facebook responded with a “fact check” press release insisting that Messenger had never collected such data without clear user permission.
In newly revealed documents from 2015, however, Facebook employees discuss plans to coerce users into upgrading to a new, more privacy-invasive version of Messenger “without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialog at all,” despite knowing that this kind of misrepresentation of the app’s capabilities was “a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective.”
This kind of disregard for user consent around phone number and contact information recalls earlier research and investigation exposing Facebook’s misuse of users’ two-factor authentication phone numbers for targeted advertising. Just as disturbing is the mention of using call and text message history to inform the notoriously uncanny PYMK, or People You May Know, feature for suggesting friends.
A central theme of the documents is how Facebook chose to let other developers use its user data. They suggest that Mark Zuckerberg recognized early on that access to Facebook’s data was extremely valuable to other companies, and that Facebook leadership were determined to leverage that value.
A little context: in 2010, Facebook launched version 1.0 of the Graph API, an extremely powerful — and permissive — set of tools that third-party developers could use to access data about users of their apps and their friends.
Dozens of emails show how the company debated monetizing access to that data. Company executives proposed several different schemes, from charging certain developers for access per user to requiring that apps “[Facebook] doesn’t want to share data with” spend a certain amount of money per year on Facebook’s ad platform or lose access to their data.NEKO is Facebook’s acronym for its mobile app-install ad system.
The needs of users themselves were a lesser concern. At one point, in a November 2012 email, an employee mentioned the “liability” risk of giving developers such open access to such powerful information.
Of course, two years later, that “leak” is exactly what happened: a shady “survey” app was able to gain access to data on 50 million people, which it then sold to Cambridge Analytica.“Whitelists” and Access to User Data
In 2015, partly in response to concerns about privacy, Facebook moved to the more restrictive Graph API version 2.0. This version made it more difficult to acquire data about a user’s friends.
However, the documents suggest that certain companies were “whitelisted” and continued to receive privileged access to user data after the API change — without notice to users or transparent criteria for which companies should be whitelisted or not.
Companies that were granted “whitelist” access to enhanced friends data after the API change included Netflix, AirBnB, Lyft, and Bumble, plus the dating service Badoo and its spin-off Hot or Not.
The vast majority of smaller apps, as well as larger companies such as Ticketmaster, were denied access.User Data as Anticompetitive Lever
Both before and after Facebook’s API changes, the documents indicate that the company deliberately granted or withheld access to data to undermine its competitors. In an email conversation from January 2013, one employee announced the launch of Twitter’s Vine app, which used Facebook’s Friends API. The employee proposed they “shut down” Vine’s access. Mark Zuckerberg’s response?
“Yup, go for it.”
A significant portion of the internal emails mention Facebook enforcing “data reciprocity”: that is, requiring apps that used data from Facebook to allow their users to share all of that data back to Facebook. This is ironic, given Facebook’s staunch refusal to grant reciprocal access to users’ own contacts lists after using Gmail’s contact-export feature to fuel its early growth.
In an email dated November 19, 2012, Zuckerberg outlined the company’s thinking:
It’s no surprise that a company would prioritize what’s good for it and its profit, but it is a problem when Facebook tramples user rights and innovation to get there. And while Facebook demanded reciprocity from its developers, it withheld access from its competitors.False User Security to Scope Out Competitors
Facebook acquired Onavo Protect, a “secure” VPN app, in fall 2013. The app was marketed as a way for users to protect their web activity from prying eyes, but it appears that Facebook used it to collect data about all the apps on a user’s phone and immediately began mining that data to gain a competitive edge. Newly released slides suggest Facebook used Onavo to measure the reach of competing social apps including Twitter, Vine, and Path, as well as measuring its penetration in emerging markets such as India.A “highly confidential” slide showing Onavo statistics for other major apps.
In August, Apple finally banned Onavo from its app store for collecting such data in violation of its Terms of Service. These documents suggest that Facebook was collecting app data, and using it to inform strategic decisions, from the very start.Everything But Literally Selling Your Data
That defense fails, because it doesn’t address the core issues. Sure, Facebook does not sell user data directly to advertisers. It doesn’t have to. Facebook has tried to exchange access to users and their information in other ways. In another striking example from the documents, Facebook appeared to offer Tinder privileged access during the API transition in return for use of Tinder’s trademarked term “Moments.” And, of course, Facebook keeps the lights on by selling access to specific users’ attention in the form of targeted advertising spots.
No matter how Zuckerberg slices it, your data is at the center of Facebook’s business. Based on these documents, it seems that Facebook sucked up as much data as possible through “reciprocity” agreements with other apps, and shared it with insufficient regard to consequences for users. Then, after rolling back its permissive data-sharing APIs, the company apparently used privileged access to user data either as a lever to get what it wanted from other companies or as a weapon against its competitors. You are, and always have been, Facebook’s most valuable product.
The post New Documents Show That Facebook Has Never Deserved Your Trust appeared first on Truthout.
At the COP24 conference in Poland, countries are aiming to finalise the implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. The task has extra gravity in the wake of the recent IPCC report declaring that we have just 12 years to take the action needed to limit global warming to that infamous 1.5°C target.
Although the conference itself is open to selected state representatives only, many see the week as an opportunity to influence and define the climate action agenda for the coming year, with protests planned outside the conference halls.
A crucial role of environmental activists is to shift the public discourse around climate change and to put pressure on state representatives to act boldly. COP24 offers a rare platform on which to drive a step change in the position of governments on climate change.
However, many environmental movements in Europe are not offering the critical analysis and radical narratives needed to achieve a halt to climate change.Growing Pains
By now most people agree that greenhouse gas emissions (including CO2) are the proximate driver of climate change, and that climate change is not only a future problem, but is already causing significant environmental and social problems across the world. Further, the trend in global CO2 emissions still appears to be increasing, driven largely by consumption in advanced and emerging economies.
Economic growth measures the increase in the amount of goods and services produced by an economy over time, and it has historically been tightly coupled to CO2 emissions. Decoupling these two factors is not impossible, and indeed many leading academics argue that the power of human ingenuity will solve the climate crisis. However, this is certainly unlikely in the timescales needed to tackle climate change in a just and equitable way.Economic growth and carbon emissions are closely linked.International Energy Agency
Practically, what this means is that as long as economic growth continues to expand rapidly and indefinitely, so too will the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere and the associated environmental and social impacts.
To address climate change, therefore, we must address the root cause of this planetary ailment: the ideology of growth first, growth always. By moving away from growth-oriented societies in Europe and other advanced economies, towards ones that prioritise environmental and social health, we stand the slimmest chance of solving our climate crisis, while still allowing the poorest economies globally to meet their economic needs.From Outrage to Strategy
Recent environmental movements demanding action on climate change, like the Extinction Rebellion in the UK and the Ende Gelande Alliance in Germany, don’t seem to take a clear stance on the role of economic growth in driving climate change. They don’t identify our unwavering commitment to the dogma of infinite economic growth as the driving force behind climate change, and as the reason that our efforts thus far have been impotent to stop the growing tidal wave of CO2 emissions.
In the UK, the Extinction Rebellion has captured the public’s attention and gathered widespread support and media coverage over the past few weeks, with their outraged cries for government action.
However, their demands are broad and unspecific, asking for “net zero [carbon emissions] by 2025.” They make no mention of how the UK government might achieve this, but link to other websites which offer potential routes for reaching this target.
The sites suggested by the Extinction Rebellion promote ideas such as green growth and a green new deal. These ideas are founded on the premise that we can achieve both continually high rates of economic growth and reduce our impact on the planet. Sadly, the evidence (and a dash of common sense) tells us that this is not yet happening, and is unlikely to be possible in the near future. So what should groups like Extinction Rebellion do?The Way Forward
It would currently be considered politically unfeasible to advocate for policies that might unintentionally, or intentionally, limit economic growth. Unfortunately, however, without a wider critique of the toxic relationship between climate change and economic growth, governments will be almost powerless to achieve any net zero targets they set.
At COP24 environmental movements have an opportunity to use their platform to highlight the relationship between economic growth and environmental impact, and even to discuss radical alternative futures that are not dependent on a growth-based economy.
Importantly, this doesn’t have to be considered a sacrifice. The relationship between economic growth and happiness in wealthy economies is at best complicated, and at worst nonexistent. This demonstrates the possibility of finding paths to climate stability that do not diminish our quality of life.
By identifying the root cause of climate change, and our inability to address it, these groups can go further than demanding action. They can change public mindsets, put pressure on national governments and point to a shared way forward. Here, we have our best shot at limiting the damage of climate change in a meaningful and timely way.
The post COP24 Climate Protesters Must Get Radical and Challenge Economic Growth appeared first on Truthout.
Campaigners disrupted a US event promoting “greener and cleaner” fossil fuel energy at the UN climate talks, calling it “a farce” that had no place within the global climate negotiations process.
Minutes after the start of the event on the fringe of the climate conference in Katowice, Poland, dozens of youth activists, indigenous campaigners, and community leaders burst out laughing and stood up in front of the panel chanting “keep it in the ground”.
A large banner with the message “keep it in the ground” was deployed in a way to hide the panel from the audience.Tags: COP24UN climate talksKatowicemarc moranocraid ruckerrupert darwall