News

After hurricanes, co-op drones hasten power restoration

Grassroots Economic Survival - 3 hours 24 min ago
Link: After hurricanes, co-op drones hasten power restoration

Had Hurricane Harvey raked central Texas last year, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative members near the San Marcos River might have waited up to 10 days to get power back.

Instead, when Harvey caused the river to rise 25 feet in a single day, electricity was flowing in only a few days, thanks a co-op drone purchased just a few months earlier.

“It helped restore power way ahead of time,” said Ray Bitzkie, the Bastrop-based co-op’s facilities construction coordinator and head of its drone program.
In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, co-ops put their drones to the test of a catastrophic weather event for the first time. Co-op officials said the technology passed with flying colors by pinpointing outages in hard-to-reach areas.

At Jackson Electric Cooperative, a co-op drone team from Pedernales Electric Cooperative flew 60 missions and inspected more than 1,600 poles in a service territory left in the dark by Harvey.

Read the rest at NCBA CLUSA

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

The Construction of ‘The Other’ by the Media

Grassroots Economic Survival - 4 hours 56 min ago
Link: The Construction of ‘The Other’ by the Media

Renata Summa opened the conversation by broadly defining the idea of ‘the other’ as a person or group that does not fit the dominant group’s identity characteristics. The media play a crucial role in establishing and spreading a society’s definition of the dominant identity, Summa explained. She stressed that the media is a powerful tool for a dominant group (whether a political party, race or social class) to influence people’s opinions and gain control over, and legitimacy in, the eyes of the population.

Building on the discussion of media’s power in constructing the image of ‘the other,’ Alexandre dos Santos underscored the power and responsibility of the audience–as consumers in the media industry–in the building of ‘the other.’ The professor explained that all narration and representation is produced through someone’s filter—all articles are written through the filter of the journalist. But additionally, he added, representations are filtered again by the reader, who consciously or subconsciously may choose to read only what confirms his or her opinion. The influence of the point of view of the writer or of the reader always plays a role in the construction of ‘the other,’ and Santos believes it is a duty of the media consumer to be aware of it and look for a different point a view. “Part of the construction of the other through the media is about what people let the media build,” he argued.

Read the rest at RioOnWatch

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Meet Trump's Controversial Federal Election Commission Pick

Truth Out - 5 hours 53 min ago

Last week President Trump nominated Republican attorney James E. "Trey" Trainor III of Texas to serve on the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the independent regulatory agency charged with enforcing campaign finance laws.

A graduate of Texas A&M law school, Trainor is a partner in the Austin office of the national law firm Akerman LLP. He served as counsel to Trump's presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee, and he represented Texas on the Standards Advisory Board to the US Election Assistance Commission, according to his firm's bio.

All of the commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. No more than three can be members of the same political party, and at least four votes are required for any official FEC action. There are currently five commissioners and one vacancy since Democrat Ann Ravel resigned earlier this year. Three of the current commissioners are Republicans, one is a Democrat, and Chairman Steven Walther is an independent.

The White House announcement said Trainor would fill the remainder of a six-year term, though it did not initially specify which seat. There was speculation that he would replace Republican Commissioner Lee Goodman, who announced he would step down by year's end. But then the administration resubmitted the nomination paperwork so that, if confirmed by the Senate, Trainor would replace Commissioner Matthew Petersen, who Trump has nominated for a federal judgeship. Trainor's term would expire in 2023.

That the nomination happened at all raised eyebrows given that the Ravel seat has remained open for six months without a nominee. But adding to the controversy are the work Trainor has done in the past to undermine political money disclosure, his ties to the Trump campaign, and his promotion of extremist religious views.

Here are a few important things to know about Trainor:

• He's a defender of secret political money. As the attorney for Empower Texans, a conservative political nonprofit that promotes lower taxes and fewer regulations for business, he fought a proposal by fellow Republicans to require such groups to disclose their donors. Empower Texans went on to target the measure's sponsors for defeat and fight the Texas Ethics Commission's efforts to require it to disclose funders, even targeting the commission's funding. Trainor has challenged the idea that the public benefits from disclosure of political ads' funders, arguing that it distracts voters from the message. Political reporter David Saleh Rauf called Trainor "one of Texas' biggest defenders of dark money," while Scott Braddock, editor of the Texas political newsletter Quorum Report, said that "no one has fought against transparency in Texas elections with as much energy" as Trainor.

• His close Trump ties raise conflict-of-interest concerns. Trainor served as counsel to the Republican National Committee's platform committee that helped stop an anti-Trump uprising at the party's 2016 national convention in Cleveland, and he served in the Trump administration as special assistant to Secretary of Defense James Mattis in the department's Office of General Counsel. His ties to Trump have raised questions about whether he can be a fair arbiter in matters related to the campaign, which is facing scrutiny for problematic reporting and illegal contributions and for Russian government involvement. Meredith McGehee, chief of policy for the pro-democracy group Issue One, said it's "imperative that he recuse himself from pending matters before the FEC involving the 2016 Trump campaign and any allied super PACs with which he may have been involved."

• He has promoted extremist religious views. After Trump announced his choice of Trainor, Twitter users noticed that his account shared anti-Protestant posts from an extremist Catholic website whose owner, Texas native Michael Voris has said that the "only way to prevent a democracy from committing suicide is to limit the vote to faithful Catholics" and who has questioned the validity of Rabbinical Judaism. After Twitter users began sharing the posts, Trainor's account at @txelectionlaw was made private. Trainor was also involved in an effort to install a Christian Nativity scene in front the Texas Capitol in 2014.

Categories: News

How the Latest Effort to Repeal Obamacare Would Affect Millions

Truth Out - 5 hours 57 min ago

At the end of July, the nation held its collective breath as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) looked poised to achieve his most formidable parliamentary accomplishment: the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

But Republican hopes were dashed by one of their own, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who cast the deciding vote that appeared to decisively derail the multi-year effort. 

McCain called to return to "regular order," to work through committees, to bring in and listen to experts, to be open and transparent, and perhaps most importantly, to at least listen to both parties.

And indeed, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) went to work, bringing together demands from Republicans like more flexibility for states to waive certain provisions of the ACA, and demands from Democrats to provide cost-sharing subsidies, for example, to stabilize health care markets. The bipartisanship appeared to be spreading as Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) appeared to have reached an agreement on the future of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Now Republican hopes of repealing the ACA have been rekindled with the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Amendment led by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). 

Like all health care legislation, the bill is complex, but the broad outlines of it are rather clear: It would undo much of the reforms implemented through the ACA and then go a step further.

What's in the Bill?

Senate Republicans are rushed once more as they want to achieve health care reform by September 30, the deadline to pass the bill through the reconciliation process which requires only a simple majority. Indeed, due to their haste, the Congressional Budget Office will not be able to provide any estimates of the bill's effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage or premiums.

Graham-Cassidy seeks to undo many of the reforms initiated by the ACA. For one, by 2020 it would eliminate the ACA's Medicaid expansion, which has provided coverage for 12 million Americans for states that chose to expand their program. However, it would prevent new states from expanding their program by 2017. It would also eliminate the insurance marketplace subsidies to assist individuals purchase coverage and with out-of-pocket costs. 

To soften states' financial losses, Graham-Cassidy partially replaces funding for both components with a temporary block grant to states that would run out in 2026. Yet even with the block grant, states would see their funding reduced by a combined US$239 billion over six years, according to an analysis by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

Graham-Cassidy also significant alters the regulatory reforms implemented via the ACA. The much-maligned individual and employer mandates would be repealed retroactively. The individual mandate requires that all people of a certain income buy insurance or face a penalty. The employer mandate requires that all employers of a certain size provide insurance to their employees.

While individuals still could not be turned down based on their health status, states could also obtain waivers to weaken or wholly eliminate preexisting condition protections. For example, the Center for American Progress has estimated that individuals could face insurer premium surcharges of $140,000 for metastatic cancer, $17,000 for being pregnant and $26,000 for rheumatoid arthritis.

Similarly, states would be able to waive the ACA's Essential Health Benefit provisions that required insurers to cover cost for expenditures like ambulance transport, prescription drugs and inpatient services. This would affect all individuals in the respective states because lifetime and annual limits apply only to the Essential Health Benefits. States could also waive the requirement to cover preventive services like immunizations and well-child visits.

Yet like most of the previous efforts to repeal the ACA over the past several months, Graham-Cassidy goes well beyond addressing changes brought about by the ACA. Most severely, the bill moves to dramatically slash and transform the Medicaid program. It would do so by establishing severe per capita caps: that is, it would provide a set amount of money for each enrolled individual compared to an open-ended federal match. These caps, which would affect children, seniors and individuals with disabilities, would also begin in 2020. They would be adjusted by inflation, but not the much larger medical inflation. They would thus result in further reductions over time. The resulting cuts would amount to $175 billion by 2026. 

It would also allow states to establish work requirements for the program, defund Planned Parenthood and further expand Health Savings Accounts, among other things.

However, unlike most of its predecessors, Graham-Cassidy provides political protections for its supporters because the full extent and severity of its cuts would not fully emerge until 2027, at least two elections away for most senators. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that the effect in 2027 alone, the cliff year, would amount to $300 billion. California alone would lose $58 billion, while the state of West Virginia would lose $2 billion. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also expects that more than 32 million Americans would lose their insurance.

A Step Backward … and not Addressing the Real Issues

In my reading, Graham-Cassidy, just like all its predecessors, does little to fix the problems of the American health care system.

Our system is generally of low quality. Medical errors kill more than 250,000 Americans each year, making it the third leading cause of death. Prescription errors alone are responsible for more than 7,000 deaths. Virtually the entire developed world, and many less-developed countries, are ahead of us with regard to infant mortality. The list goes on.

Despite these obvious shortcomings, our health care system is also, by far, the most expensive system in the world. We spend more than 17 percent of our GDP, or well over $9,000 per person, on health care. This compares to 10 percent and $3,700 for Japan11 percent and $4,900 for Germany, and 9 percent and $3,300 for the United Kingdom.

And yet, even after the coverage expansions of the Affordable Care Act, and after spending more money from the public's purses than all but two countries, our uninsurance rates just inched below 10 percent, and more than 28 million Americans are without insurance.

Indeed, we do not even cover all children in this country, although the rate of insurance from children reached a historic high of 95 percent.

With low quality, high costs and lack of universal coverage, much needs to be improved about the American health care system. Unfortunately, Graham-Cassidy as currently written does nothing to improve quality, and it does nothing to reduce the underlying drivers of excessive costs. Indeed, it reverses the significant progress achieved under the ACA in offering coverage to all Americans.

Large-scale changes to the American health care system cannot and should not be quickly patched together without input from the Congressional Budget Office, policy experts, the public and the other party. Many lives and one-sixth of our economy hang in the balance. The American public deserves better.

The Conversation

Categories: News

Deface Columbus Day: A Call to Action

It's Goin Down - 9 hours 45 min ago

The post Deface Columbus Day: A Call to Action appeared first on It's Going Down.

The battles lines have been drawn and white supremacists are on notice. White nationalist statues are crumbling all over the US as our collective revolutionary power is growing. As the monuments of white supremacist society fall we must continue to make it clear that their reign of terror is coming to an end.
 
For the occasion of Columbus Day, October 9th, one of the most vile ‘holidays’ of the year, the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement is calling for collectives all over the country to take action against this day and in support of indigenous people in the US and abroad who have been victims of colonialism and genocide.
 
We are calling for groups to “decorate” their neighborhoods as they see fit: put up murals, wheatpaste posters, drop a banner, etc. On October 9th put a picture of your action on social media and use the hashtags below. With these actions multiplied around the country, we will make it unequivocally clear that revolutionaries will always stand with the indigenous!
 
Revolutionary greetings to the insurgent Zapatista communities, the Lakota warriors, the Mapuche fighters, and all of our indigenous comrades in the struggle. With these actions, we renew our commitment to building a revolutionary movement strong enough to turn the tide permanently.
 
Resistance is life!
 
#FuckColumbusDay
#DestroyColonialism

Categories: News

In Honor of Scout: Support Rebellion at Georgia Tech

It's Goin Down - 13 hours 15 min ago

The post In Honor of Scout: Support Rebellion at Georgia Tech appeared first on It's Going Down.

On the night of September 16th, Scout Schultz, a 21 year old queer activist and anti-fascist, was murdered by police on Georgia Tech campus. In their honor, hundreds gathered for a vigil at Georgia Tech before marching to the police headquarters on campus. There, clashes between attendees and campus police broke out. In the midst of these clashes, a police SUV was torched, multiple police officers were injured, and three arrests were made.

The arrestees are now facing trumped up felony charges, some of which carry a minimum of multiple years in prison. This atrocious act by the police and administration is an obvious attack on the self-organization of students and queer partisans in the city: the arrests and charges function as a tool to divide students by spreading fear as well as to purge the “outside agitators,” i.e. Scouts friends and loved ones, from the movement.

If you want to get involved, here’s how:
  • Donate money here.
  • If you’re not able to make it to Atlanta, organize in solidarity on your local university campus, a park downtown, or in the privacy of your neighborhood punk house.

The United States is fraying at the seams. Though even as we witness the death of people we care about, between the anti-police struggles of Black Lives Matter, the undocumented struggles against ICE terror, various pipeline struggles all over the country, anti-fascist resistance, and so many other movements, a different conception of life is growing.

Categories: News

All The News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down

It's Goin Down - 13 hours 22 min ago

The post All The News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down appeared first on It's Going Down.

It hasn’t even been a week but already it feels like there needs to be a roundup and collection of news before it slips through our fingers. In the last several days, riots and clashes with the police have kicked off in Atlanta at the Georgia Tech University in the wake of the police killing of student organizer, anarchist, and antifascist Scout Schultz as well as in St. Louis against the police acquittal of Jason Stockley in the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. Meanwhile, more storms are headed directly towards both the Caribbean, Puerto Rico will be without power for months, and in the United States Republicans are pushing for health care ‘reform’ yet again as Trump’s base cracks apart.

As we go forward, both the media and the State are going to ramp up calls for a crack down on “left-wing violence,” against anarchists, antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the black bloc, and anything else that is autonomous and combative that they can demonize. As with youth and people of color in general or recently with Juggalos, the point will not be to criminalize just one set group, but instead entire broad populations. For the State, the drive is to attack the relationships that people have outside of the framework of power and cripple them through making them illegal. This demonization will not be logical; unless you believe that the State holds the only legitimacy to violence in ‘our’ society.

We need to use this moment to articulate clearly to as many people who will listen exactly what we are about, what we want, and the kinds of strategies we see at our disposal to get there. As always, IGD remains a resource in that struggle, but we also encourage people to grow and develop their own counter-information and grassroots media infrastructure and platforms. There more of it we have, the better off we will be.

It is also time to articulate that beyond Trump, this entire system is illegitimate, it isn’t helping us, and it serves its own interests and those of a set elite class. We can see this in the mass anger directed at the police, who only serve and protect private property and the interests of those in power. We can see this in the government’s response to hurricane victims, telling them they are on their own, as they come back to homes that are destroyed with little hope of rebuilding. We see this in the economy, where one side speaks of ‘economic nationalism’ and the other ‘neoliberalism,’ but both simply seek to destroy the living earth for the sake of profits while we work longer hours for less money. We can see it in their drive for war, in their denial of climate change, and in their push for greater and greater surveillance, control, police, and domination. This system as a whole, from it’s colonial founding to it’s current militarized and neoliberal incarnation – is not legitimate. 

Lastly, we have to move beyond the politics of protest. We aren’t speaking truth to power. We aren’t trying to get someone in power to listen to us. We are trying to create the kind of world we want to see. We need to take space in hold it. We need to push out the apparatuses of control and domination which kill, police, and attack us. We need to begin to organize ourselves to meet our needs directly. The time of asking for those in politics to listen to us is done; it’s gotten us nowhere.

In that spirit, let’s get to the news. 

St. Louis Rebellion: A Day by Day Breakdown

Friday 15th: The first day of the rebellion, thousands of people took to the streets over a period of several hours. During the daytime, the police made multiple arrests and knocked down several people during an advance, including one elder. Later in the night, up to a thousand surrounded the Mayor’s home and broke windows and threw paint. A local synagogue and Unitarian Church opened up their door in order to protect people from the police. A pizza store owner giving out water and pizza to protesters and almost hit by police projectiles, went on to criticize police on social media who then launched an online campaign against him through the police association. Also of note, small groups of people were also open carrying throughout the demonstration. Check out the full round up here.

Paint thrown on #STL mayor's house after #JasonStockleyverdict pic.twitter.com/kX16sNS3yS

— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 16, 2017

Over 1,000 people in #StlLouis surrounded the home of the Mayor, broke windows, and threw paint. Pushed off by riot police. #JasonStockley pic.twitter.com/dmrHqk5PWo

— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 16, 2017

Watch the lady wearing red in the bottom right of the screen. Police using pepper spray on protesters marching after the Stockley ruling pic.twitter.com/XF16yxDQqg

— FOX2now (@FOX2now) September 15, 2017

Saturday 16th: Protests continued with economic disruptions, specifically targeting two malls. As LibCom wrote:

In both cases police arrived to shut the mall down, and the protesters moved on to the next location. These protests are interesting because they cause immediate economic disruption, make any potential police violence highly visible to staff and shoppers, and in Chesterfield allowed protesters to directly communicate with bystanders as they took over a podium and mic to address shoppers.

Meanwhile STL Today reported that concerts by U2 on Saturday and Ed Sheeran on Sunday had both been cancelled due to ‘safety concerns’. While the only real safety concern in STL is the continued violence by police departments against its residents this shows that street protests themselves can cause economic disruption too. It is only when business as usual is disrupted that concessions can be won.

Protests are continuing tonight in St Louis. #stlouis #gettyimagesnews pic.twitter.com/F36VNDDDLm

— scott olson (@olsongetty) September 16, 2017

PHOTOS: Protesting takes a turn in the Loop, businesses damaged #stockley https://t.co/HF25XVR2V9 pic.twitter.com/DL0NBL0VZm

— STLtoday (@stltoday) September 17, 2017

For some reason this ended up in my drafts folder. pic.twitter.com/ksuobHMNV6

— Mark Loehrer (@PubPolHist) September 17, 2017

As we reported on the second night, people began to target corporate property and clashes with the police continued to break out.

Sunday 17th: Street demonstrations continue; police reverse a car through a contingent of day time demonstrators. Police began to come down hard on protesters, shooting projectiles and attacking people as darkness falls. Several cops are treated for exposure to their own tear gas, which they attempted to blame on “unknown chemicals” from protesters. Ironically, these “chemicals” turned out to be apple cider, a common treatment for tear gas. Up at 80 arrests are made as police attempt to crush the rebellion. Reportedly police also chanted, “Who’ streets? Our streets!,” after clearing demonstrators.

pic.twitter.com/0uIUten687

— Search4Swag (@search4swag) September 17, 2017

Protesters near SLU pic.twitter.com/3fxe86WgQH

— Search4Swag (@search4swag) September 17, 2017

St Louis City police causing chaos in the streets of Downtown. Attacking people indiscriminately. Giving conflicting orders.#STLVerdict pic.twitter.com/2OIG37xnQr

— Keith Rose (@KWRose) September 18, 2017

Last night, 80 people were arrested protesting cop Jason Stockley being let off for murdering Anthony Lamar Smith pic.twitter.com/5ZTBzbsxNp

— agitator in chief (@soit_goes) September 18, 2017

Monday 18th: Students back to school after three days of revolt launch walkouts. According to LibCom

This morning, students at schools including Kirkwood High School, Webster Groves High School, and University City High School walked out in the early morning. The UCHS high school protest was supported by and organised by school staff, however students took matters into their own hands with a disciplined and determined march away from the school when an administrator announced the protest was over via loudhailer. Unfortunately school administrators managed to corral them back towards the school before they’d managed to get too far away.

That evening, a large group of people gathering at the so-called Justice Center to demand the release of people who were arrested. The huge crowd chanted “Fuck Jason Stockley,” and called for the freeing of the prisoners:

Protesters downtown chanting "free our people" in front of Justice center #JasonStockley pic.twitter.com/BbJZey6eY5

— Katelyn Mae Petrin (@kmaepetrin) September 19, 2017

"When they say peace, they mean obedience." #stockleyverdict pic.twitter.com/iCWZI4Oynh

— Rachel Lippmann (@rlippmann) September 19, 2017

It's LIVE and LOVE out here! #StockleyProtests #STLCopsAttack pic.twitter.com/bygPEMDYCG

— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) September 19, 2017

Tuesday 19th: Protests continue as interfaith gathering marches on City Hall.

Marching in solidarity. Faith leaders and at least 200 in the crowd are marching from Kiener Plaza to city hall. #STLVerdict #STL @kmov pic.twitter.com/7h4GBypJ7f

— Alexis Zotos (@alexiszotos) September 19, 2017

Crowd gathering for interfaith prayer service at Kiener Plaza. #STLVerdict #StockleyProtest pic.twitter.com/lqA1LhiqoP

— Tony Messenger (@tonymess) September 19, 2017

Wednesday 20th: Protests continue and intersections were blocked. Disruptions of upscale shopping districts continued:

Protesters took to the streets again Wednesday in the St. Louis area to demonstrate against a judge’s recent acquittal of a white former police officer who fatally shot a black suspect in 2011.

The demonstration was the latest part of an effort by protesters to disrupt business as a way to draw attention to their cause. It had been announced for Shaw Park in the suburb of Clayton, Missouri, and about 100 people gathered there. They quickly left, though, and a larger group met up near the St. Louis Galleria in nearby Richmond Heights, where they blocked traffic.

Demonstrators marched and chanted near the upscale shopping mall and briefly moved toward an interstate on-ramp, but police blocked the entrance and pushed the protesters back.

“No justice, no profits,” the marchers chanted. “Whose streets? Our streets!””

Police giving dispersal order moving in on protesters #STLVerdict #stockleyverdict #StLouis pic.twitter.com/vxC1Q8ZERG

— Daniel Shular (@xshularx) September 20, 2017

Protester holding the intersection without any police interference pic.twitter.com/yhhPGhcI7E

— Search4Swag (@search4swag) September 20, 2017

The revolt in St. Louis, which is by no means over, is informed by both the memory of the Ferguson rebellion and the knowledge of what is needed to potentially force the State to grant any kind of concessions. With all of these lessons in mind, we must think about what is means to engage in an anti-police struggle in the present day, and how we can take things forward beyond simply asking for those in power for “justice” which we know will never come through their system. Also, we must ask ourselves why the revolt did not spread? And the next time a large scale anti-police rebellion breaks out, how can we aid and expand it?

Cornell University Is Occupied

Over 300 students marched with Black Students United and occupied a building at Cornell University. According to one article:

More than 300 students marched with Black Students United to Willard Straight Hall on Wednesday afternoon and occupied the building at Cornell University for hours after delivering a list of demands to the University’s president Martha Pollack.

The protest follows the arrest of a Cornell student on Friday who police charged with assault after a black student said he was punched by a group of white men who had called him the N-word in Collegetown.

The group’s 12 demands to Cornell include requiring coursework on “privilege and power,” hiring additional mental health personnel of color, and permanently banning the Psi Upsilon fraternity from campus and converting its building into a cultural center for black students.

#BREAKING: Black Students United and fellow allies of the Cornell Community are protesting at the University Assembly Meeting pic.twitter.com/7AHEwFqH2Y

— Connor Lange (@clangephoto) September 19, 2017

Black students seized the same building that they occupied on Wednesday, Willard Straight Hall, in 1969 following a series of racist acts on campus, and BSU members noted the political and historical importance of the location.

Students are occupying the building in 2017 “for the same reason that they chose it in 1969,” Traciann Celestin ’19, a co-chair of BSU, told The Sun inside the hall, surrounded by blaring music and a crowd of students wearing black clothes in support. “This is the heart of the campus so we want to disrupt the heart of campus.”

Antifascist Updates 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about people in Seattle who knocked some neo-Nazi idiot wearing a swastika armband and harassing an African-American person back to the stone age. By and large, the response has been positive:

Another man ran across the street at that point and punched the neo-Nazi in the jaw, knocking him unconscious.

Duff admits he was very high on marijuana during the incident, so he did not get involved, but said he was hoping someone would punch the neo-Nazi.

“Everyone was so joyous,” Duff said. “It was like a bonding for the community.”

He said a few people came forward to help the unconscious man, but he said they backed off when another bystander pointed out he was “Nazi trash.”

“Nobody wanted to help him,” Duff told the newspaper.

The crowd dispersed when police arrived, and officers said the man declined to provide information about the incident and left after removing his swastika armband.

threw a banana https://t.co/9n5xHQ5Z2i

— New York City Antifa (@NYCAntifa) September 19, 2017

In Berkeley, Alt-Right trolls chalked the campus up with anti-immigrant and anti-antifa slogans in the run up to the growing dumpster fire of Milo’s ‘Free Speech Week.’

From our Facebook: "Last night fascists vandalized the monument to the International Brigades in Madison, Wisconsin." pic.twitter.com/iDXPR5DYA7

— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) September 20, 2017

In Chapel Hill, NC, students have launched an economic boycott on campus in order to push for the removal of a Confederate statue.

Lastly, an activist with a British antifascist group went undercover for a year in the Alt-Right. Starting in the UK, the mole then went on to make connections with with the Alt-Right in the US, most notably Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents. Johnson has come to represent a split within the Alt-Right between the camp representing Richard Spencer and the Alt-Right Corporation, which includes Aktos Media and Red Ice Productions.

What is the alt-right? We knew the only way to really find out was to get inside. Discover more at https://t.co/T6VjTDx9jT #AltRight pic.twitter.com/uJneFoRcKg

— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate_USA) September 20, 2017

While undercover, the mole met with various Alt-Right groups that openly talked about killing Jews and political enemies while celebrating the Nazis. The biggest revelation in the investigation however, is when the mole sat down with Jason Reza Jorjani of the Alt-Right Corp. and Jorjani stated that he had a connection within the Trump administration and that connection was none other than Steve Bannon. Jorgani goes on to state that the kind of world that he wants will see it’s fruition through concentration camps, war, deportations, and the death of upwards of 100 million people.

Meet Greg Johnson. He lives in WA and is behind counter currents publishing and the fascist gathering the "NW Forum"

Make him famous. pic.twitter.com/STuZ6GBLxI

— PNWAWC (@PNWAWC) September 20, 2017

Hope not Hate plans to turn their findings into a documentary. We hope that their work is widely read. View their intimidate report here.

 

Shout Outs

People in Portland held a march remembering the life and death of James Chasse, who was killed by police over 10 years ago. Check out pictures here.

A new film is coming out about Copwatch. Check out the trailer and find out about screenings in your area.

In the bay area, actions are coming up against a series of Alt-Right “free speech” events at UC Berkeley. Check Berkeley Antifa for more info.

There’s a lot of anti-pipeline actions happening around the US – try and stay up with this new podcast here.

Actions continue in St. Louis and in Atlanta. Please support imprisoned rebels.

From our friends: Solidarity banner drops in Colombus for #ScoutSchultz and #STL:

"ⒶVENGE THE DEAD"

"ATL, CBUS, STL, #RIPSCOUT" pic.twitter.com/pZcZANtazW

— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) September 20, 2017

It’s Going Down!

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Categories: News

'It's destroyed everything in its path': Puerto Rico in total darkness after Hurricane Maria knocks out 100% of island's power

Citizens for Legitimate Government - 14 hours 28 min ago

'It's destroyed everything in its path': Puerto Rico in total darkness after Hurricane Maria knocks out 100% of the island's power while nearly two feet of rain turns roads into rivers of mud --Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico Wednesday morning as a Cat. 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds --Forecasters say it could regain strength and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday | 20 Sept 2017 | Puerto Rico may be without power for months after Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory with powerful winds that downed trees, ripped the roofs off homes and turned roads into rivers with flash flooding. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN late Wednesday night that it may take months to restore power to the entire island. He said that as a result of the powerful Category 4 hurricane, no one on the island has power from utilities since the power grid is 'a little bit old, mishandled and weak'. More than 10,000 remained in shelters Wednesday night as the governor has imposed a curfew on the island from 6pm to 6am beginning Wednesday and ending on Saturday morning.

 

Categories: News

On Rosh Hashanah: Recommitting to Solidarity in the Face of White Supremacy

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago

 Bernard Weil / Toronto Star via Getty Images)This must be our response to white supremacy: that a threat to any one of us is a threat to all," writes Brant Rosen, calling for a new commitment to building solidarity-based movements in the Jewish New Year. Here, members of Holy Blossom Temple, a Toronto Synagogue, form a protective circle around the Imdadul Mosque in North York in Canada on February 3, 2017, following an Islamophobic attack on a mosque in Quebec City that left six Muslim worshippers dead and nineteen wounded. (Photo: Bernard Weil / Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Faced with resurgent neo-Nazism, American Jews are coming to terms with a reality that many people of color have been acutely aware of all along: white supremacist organizing continues to flourish in this country. Rabbi Brant Rosen reflects on how alliances over Israeli policies too often lead mainstream Jewish organizations into silence on white supremacy. What we need, he argues, is solidarity organizing rooted in a deep awareness of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.

 Bernard Weil / Toronto Star via Getty Images)This must be our response to white supremacy: that a threat to any one of us is a threat to all," writes Brant Rosen, calling for a new commitment to building solidarity-based movements in the Jewish New Year. Here, members of Holy Blossom Temple, a Toronto Synagogue, form a protective circle around the Imdadul Mosque in North York in Canada on February 3, 2017, following an Islamophobic attack on a mosque in Quebec City that left six Muslim worshippers dead and nineteen wounded. (Photo: Bernard Weil / Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When Temple Beth Israel -- a large Reform synagogue in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia -- opened for Shabbat morning services on August 12, 2017, its congregants had ample reason to be terrified. Prior to the "Unite the Right" rally held in town by white supremacists and neo-Nazis that weekend, some neo-Nazi websites had posted calls to burn down their synagogue.

The members of Beth Israel decided to go ahead with services, but they removed their Torah scrolls just to be safe. When services began, they noticed three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles standing across the street from their synagogue. Throughout the morning, growing numbers of neo-Nazis gathered outside their building. Worshippers heard people shouting, "There's the synagogue!" and chanting, "Sieg Heil!" At the end of services, they had to leave in groups through a side door.

Of course, this story did not occur in a vacuum. It was but a part of a larger outrage that unfolded in Charlottesville that day, and part of a still larger outrage has been unfolding in our country since November. I think it's safe to say that many Americans have learned some very hard truths about their country since the elections last fall. Many -- particularly white liberals -- are asking out loud: Where did all of this come from? Didn't we make so much progress during the Obama years? Can there really be that many people in this country who would vote for an out-and-out xenophobe who unabashedly encourages white supremacists as his political base? Is this really America?

Yes, this is America. White supremacy -- something many assumed was relegated to an ignoble period of American history -- is, and has always been, very real in this country. White supremacists and neo-Nazis are in the streets -- and they are being emboldened and encouraged by the president of the United States.

While this new political landscape may feel surreal, I'd suggest that this is actually a clarifying moment. Aspects of our national life that have remained subterranean for far too long are now being brought out into the light. We are now being brought face to face with systems and forces that many of us assumed were long dead; that we either couldn't see or chose not to see. Following the election of Trump many have commented that it feels like we are living through a bad dream. I would claim the opposite. I would say that many of us are finally waking up to real life -- a reality that, particularly for the most marginalized among us, never went away.

It is certainly a profoundly clarifying moment for American Jews. With this resurgence of white supremacist anti-Semitism, it would have been reasonable to expect a deafening outcry from the American Jewish establishment. But that, in fact, has not been the case. When Trump appointed white nationalist Steve Bannon to a senior White House position, there was nary an outcry from mainstream Jewish organizations. The Zionist Organization of America actually invited Bannon to speak at its annual gala.

Why would the Israeli Prime Minister call a president who panders to anti-Semitic white supremacists "brave" and "courageous?" Because Trump pledged his support to Israel.

Israel's response to this political moment is no less illuminating. During a huge spike in anti-Semitic vandalism and threats against Jewish institutions immediately after the elections, it wasn't only Trump that had to be goaded into making a statement -- the Israeli government itself remained shockingly silent. This same government that never misses an opportunity to condemn anti-Semitic acts by Muslim extremists seemed utterly unperturbed that over 100 Jewish institutions had received bomb threats or that Jewish cemeteries were desecrated across the country. (More than 500 headstones were knocked down at one Jewish cemetery alone in Philadelphia.) And when neo-Nazis with tiki torches rallied in Charlottesville proclaiming "Jews will not replace us," it took Prime Minister Netanyahu three days to respond with a mild tweet. Israel's Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett, whom one would assume should be concerned with anti-Semitism anywhere in the Diaspora, had this to say:

We view ourselves as having a certain degree of responsibility for every Jew in the world, just for being Jewish, but ultimately it's the responsibility of the sovereign nation to defend its citizens.

This is a clarifying moment if ever there was one. Support for Israel and its policies trumps everything -- yes, including white supremacist Jew hatred. Just this week, Prime Minister Netanyahu said this about Trump's speech at the UN:

I've been ambassador to the United Nations, and I'm a long-serving Israeli prime minister, so I've listened to countless speeches in this hall. But I can say this -- none were bolder, none were more courageous and forthright than the one delivered by President Trump today.

Why would the Israeli Prime Minister call a president who panders to anti-Semitic white supremacists "brave" and "courageous?" Because Trump pledged his support to Israel. Because he called the Iran nuclear deal an "embarrassment." Because he vowed American support to allies who are "working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists."

Historically speaking, this is not the first time that Zionists have cozied up to anti-Semites in order to gain their political support. Zionism has long depended on anti-Semites to validate its very existence. This Faustian bargain was struck as far back as the 19th century, when Zionist leader Theodor Herzl met with the Russian minister of the interior Vyacheslav von Plehve, an infamous anti-Semite who encouraged the Kishinev pogroms that very same year. Plehve pledged that as long as the Zionists encouraged emigration of Jews from Russia, the Russian authorities would not disturb them.

It makes perfect sense that Israeli leaders are loath to condemn the rise of white supremacy. After all, they have a different enemy they want to sell to us.

This Zionist strategy was also central to the diplomatic process that led to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour announced his government's support for "the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people." Although Balfour has long been lionized as a Zionist hero, he wasn't particularly well known for his love for Jews or the Jewish people. When he was prime minister, his government passed the 1905 Aliens Act, severely restricting immigration at a time in which persecuted Jews were emigrating from Eastern Europe. At the time, Balfour spoke of the "undoubted evils which had fallen on the country from an alien immigration which was largely Jewish." Balfour, like many Christians of his class, "did not believe that Jews could be assimilated into Gentile British society."

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that Israeli leaders are loath to condemn the rise of white supremacy. After all, they have a different enemy they want to sell to us. They want us to buy their Islamophobic narrative that "radical Muslim extremism" is the most serious threat to the world today. And you can be sure they view Palestinians as an integral part of this threat.

We cannot underestimate how important this narrative is to Israel's foreign policy -- indeed, to its own sense of validation in the international community. Netanyahu is so committed to this idea, in fact, that two years ago he actually went as far as to blame Palestinians for starting the Holocaust itself. In a speech to the Zionist Congress, he claimed that in 1941, the Palestinian Grand Mufti convinced Hitler to launch a campaign of extermination against European Jewry at a time when Hitler only wanted to expel them. This ludicrous historical falsehood was so over the top that a German government spokesperson eventually released a statement that essentially said, "No, that's not true. Actually, the Holocaust was our fault."

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is pursuing an alliance with the anti-Semitic populist Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán. When Netanyahu recently traveled to Hungary to meet with Orbán, leaders of the Hungarian Jewish community publicly criticized Netanyahu, accusing him of "betrayal."

If there was ever any doubt about the profound threat that white supremacy poses to us all, we'd best be ready to willing grasp it now. White supremacy is not a thing of the past and it's not merely the domain of extremists. It has also been a central guiding principle of Western foreign policy for almost a century. To those who claim that so-called Islamic extremism is the greatest threat to world peace today, we would do well to respond that the US military has invaded, occupied and/or bombed 14 Muslim-majority countries since 1980 -- and this excludes coups against democratically elected governments, torture, and imprisonment of Muslims with no charges. Racism and Islamophobia inform our nation's military interventions in ways that are obvious to most of the world, even if they aren't to us. It is disingenuous to even begin to consider the issue of radical Islamic violence until we begin to reckon with the ways we wield our overwhelming military power abroad.

So, as we observe Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, where are we supposed to go from here? I would suggest that the answer, as ever, is solidarity.

Let's return to the horrid events at Temple Beth Israel in Charlottesville. As it turned out, the local police didn't show up to protect the synagogue that Shabbat -- but many community members did. The synagogue's president later noted that several non-Jews attended services as an act of solidarity -- and that at least a dozen strangers stopped by that morning asking if congregants wanted them to stand with their congregation.

Another example: Last February, when Chicago's Loop Synagogue was vandalized with broken windows and swastikas by someone who was later discovered to be a local white supremacist, the very first statement of solidarity came from the Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Their executive director, Ahmed Rehab, said:

Chicago's Muslim community stands in full solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters as they deal with the trauma of this vile act of hate. No American should have to feel vulnerable and at risk simply due to their religious affiliation.

Here's another example: last Friday, protests filled the streets of St. Louis after a white former city policeman, Jason Stockley, was found not guilty of the first-degree murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, a Black 24-year-old whom he shot to death on December 20, 2011. The St. Louis police eventually used tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators. Some of the demonstrators retreated to Central Reform Congregation of St. Louis, which opened its doors to the protesters. The police actually followed them and surrounded the synagogue. During the standoff, a surge of anti-Semitic statements trended on Twitter under the hashtag #GasTheSynagogue. (Yes, this actually happened last week, though it was not widely covered by the mainstream media.)

This must be our response to white supremacy: that a threat to any one of us is a threat to all.

Just one more example: last January, a 27-year year-old man entered a mosque in Quebec City and opened fire on a room filled with Muslim worshippers, killing six men and wounding another 16. The following week, Holy Blossom Temple, a Toronto synagogue organized an action in which multifaith groups formed protective circles around at least half a dozen mosques. It was inspired by the "Ring of Peace" created by about 1,000 Muslims around an Oslo synagogue in 2015, following a string of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe by Muslim gunmen.

This must be our response to white supremacy: that a threat to any one of us is a threat to all. That we are stronger together. This is the movement we need to build.

However, even as we make this commitment to one another, we cannot assume that oppression impacts all of us equally. This point was made very powerfully in a recent blog post by Mimi Arbeit, a white Jewish educator/scientist/activist from Charlottesville, so I'll quote her directly:

Jews should be fighting Nazis. And -- at the same time -- we White-presenting White-privileged Jews need to understand that we are fighting Nazis in the US within the very real context of centuries of anti-Black racism. I have been face to face with Nazis and yes I see the swastikas and I see the anti-semitic signs and I hear the taunts and I respect the fear of the synagogue in downtown Charlottesville -- AND please believe me when I say that they are coming for Black people first. It is Black people who the Nazis are seeking out, Black neighborhoods that are being targeted, anti-Black terrorism that is being perpetrated. So. Jews need to be fighting Nazis in this moment. And. At the same time. If we are fighting Nazis expecting them to look like German anti-Semitic prototypes, we will be betraying ourselves and our comrades of color. We need to fight Nazis in the US within the context of US anti-Black racism. We need to be anti-fascist and anti-racist with every breath, with every step.

To this I would only add that when it comes to state violence, it is people of color -- particularly Black Americans -- who are primarily targeted. While white Jews understandably feel vulnerable at this particular moment, we still dwell under an "all encompassing shelter of white privilege." We will never succeed in building a true movement of solidarity unless we reckon honestly with the "very real context of centuries of anti-Black racism."

I've said a great deal about clarity here, but I don't want to underestimate in any way the challenges that lay before us. I realize this kind of "clarity" can feel brutal -- like a harsh light that reflexively causes one to close one's eyes tightly. On the other hand, I know there are many who have had their eyes wide open to these issues for quite some time now.

Either way, we can't afford to look away much longer. We can't allow ourselves the luxury to grieve over dreams lost -- particularly the ones that were really more illusions than dreams in the first place.

On Rosh Hashanah, the gates are open wide. This is the time of year we are asked to look deep within, unflinchingly, so that we might discern the right way forward. We can no longer put off the work we know we must do, no matter how daunting or overwhelming it might feel. But at the same time, we can only greet the New Year together. We cannot do it alone. Our liturgy is incorrigibly first person, plural -- today we vow to set our lives and our world right, and we will be alongside one another.

So here we are. We've just said goodbye to one horrid year. The gates are opening before us. Let's take each other's hands and walk through them together.

Shanah Tovah / Happy New Year.

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Categories: News

Trump Administration Doubles Down on Plans to Withdraw from Paris Deal as UNGA Makes Climate Top Priority

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago

At the United Nations, President Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said Monday the US would withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord as planned. His comments came as UN Secretary-General António Guterres said climate should be a top priority at this year's General Assembly. Our guest, economist Jeffrey Sachs, notes that the "agreement is completely symmetrical for all 193 countries," and also argues that chemical and oil companies should help pay for recovery efforts after extreme weather related to climate change.

Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: At the United Nations, President Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said Monday the US will withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord as planned. His comments came as the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said climate should be a top priority at this year's General Assembly, the UN secretary-general urging countries to go above and beyond the Paris climate accord commitments.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: Countries have signed up to the Paris Agreement, but we know that current pledges and plans are insufficient to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees. In 2020, parties will review progress. By then, we need to make sure that we have substantially raised the bar of ambition. We are still on a path for a world that may be 3 or more degrees warmer.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was the UN attorney -- the UN secretary-general. Talk, Jeffrey Sachs, about this, also about your encounter on CNN when you were calling out the Trump backer.

JEFFREY SACHS: Basically, what we're viewing here is the corruption of American politics, because the oil lobby owns the Republican Party. It is the Republican Party that said to Trump, who himself has no values, after all, "Pull out of Paris." A letter by 22 Republican senators -- which one can find online and then go to OpenSecrets.org to find out how much they're paid by the oil industry -- provoked this. Gary Cohn, that's another disgrace. If you don't like it, get out of there. But that's Goldman talking. That's Wall Street, the oil industry. It's a mess. We've got ExxonMobil owning the State Department right now. We have Ken [sic] Pruitt at EPA, who is --

AMY GOODMAN: Scott Pruitt.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Scott Pruitt.

JEFFREY SACHS:  -- an oil and gas industry hack from beginning to end, dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency as we're experiencing one disaster after another. And here comes the United States to tell the other 192 countries -- because this is a unanimous global agreement, all 193 countries -- we're stepping back, with four catastrophic hurricanes in a row. Basically, this is not imbecility, though it looks like imbecility. This is just corruption of American politics. Chevron, ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, they paid for this. If you're an American, they are endangering your life.

AMY GOODMAN: You said these chemical companies, these oil companies should be paying for the recovery after these hurricanes.

JEFFREY SACHS: They are going to pay eventually, because there are going to be lawsuits and litigation and International Court of Justice challenges, because these oil companies are, with foreseeability -- the legal doctrine -- with intent, committing what is basically a tort, a wrong, committed of endangering the lives of the people in Puerto Rico, the lives of the people all through the Caribbean, the lives of Americans, in Houston and Florida. And it's going to be -- of course, we experienced it here in New York with Superstorm Sandy. These are exactly the kinds of shocks that are becoming more and more intense and more and more frequent because of global warming.

And then you have people like Gary Cohn, disgraceful, coming and saying, "We pull out of the Paris climate agreement." And Trump, in his fantasy world, which is a fantasy world, says this agreement is unfair to the United States. If you look at the agreement, the agreement is completely symmetrical for all 193 countries. There's not one phrase about the United States in the agreement. It is a completely symmetrical agreement globally. And Trump, because he's a man of grievance, of belligerence, of hate, says that's against the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much, Jeffrey Sachs, for coming in, leading economist, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. His most recent book, with a foreword by Bernie Sanders, is titled Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable. This is Democracy Now!Back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Oh, a shout-out to Girl Scout Troop 4723 from Queens and IndyKids, who have come to watch Democracy Now! today in our studios here in New York. And that music, "Balderas Subway Station" by Rockdrigo González, who was killed in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.

Categories: News

Seeking to Ban Mosques and Deport All Migrants, Right-Wing Party Is Set to Enter German Parliament

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago
 JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP / Getty Images)A poster in Berlin from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland features the party's two main candidates, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, ahead of Germany's parliamentary elections on September 24. (Photo: John MacDougall / AFP / Getty Images)   Grassroots, not-for-profit news is rare -- and Truthout's very existence depends on donations from readers. Will you help us publish more stories like this one? Make a one-time or monthly donation by clicking here.

In Germany's upcoming federal elections on September 24, the extremist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) political party is expected to become the first openly far-right party to enter the German national parliament since the end of World War II.

The AfD party is polling in third place at 11 percent of the prospective national vote behind the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) with 23 percent and Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) with 36 percent. In Germany, a political party must attain at least 5 percent of the national vote to seat its members in the Bundestag, the lower chamber of the German parliament. Since its founding in 2013, the AfD has entered 13 out of 16 German state parliaments, known as Landtage, and it collectively holds 9 percent of the seats.

Once in the national parliament, the AfD will be able to advance its agenda by proposing and voting on federal legislation for the first time. However, all of the other major parties have ruled out joining a coalition with the AfD as a result of its extremist views, which would keep the AfD out of the ruling government.

If the AfD had its way, Germany would close off its borders to halt immigration and begin deporting refugees and other migrants.

The AfD's extremist views are never far from the surface. During a recent televised debate, Sahra Wagenknecht, leading candidate of the socialist party Die Linke, accused the AfD of allowing "half-Nazis" to join its ranks. Her AfD counterpart Alice Weidel ignored the comment and casually remarked that her party had the highest proportion of politicians with doctoral degrees in Germany. Later that week, Weidel walked off stage during another live debate on TV after being pressed to denounce extreme far-right statements made by a fellow AfD politician.

In January, prominent AfD state party leader Björn Höcke demanded Germany commit a "180-degree turn" and stop atoning for its past Nazi crimes, and soon afterward another state faction attempted to defund Holocaust education for schoolchildren. Other regional AfD leaders have been caught actively recruiting neo-Nazis by promising they will more effectively realize their goals as AfD members than by voting for their own taboo and ineffective parties.

At the same time, Merkel and her CDU have also enacted xenophobic proposals such as a partial burqa ban -- proposals that political opponents have described as race-baiting in an attempt to appease the far right. In recent months, the chancellor stepped up deportations of Afghan asylum seekers, a move that was acclaimed by her conservative allies.

But even these xenophobic measures do not placate the AfD and its supporters, who support more draconian attacks on migrants and Muslims in Germany.

The official platform that the AfD now campaigns on includes proposals, such as the banning of all mosques and minarets, the prohibition of Muslim calls to prayer, and the criminalization of wearing any Muslim face veils. If the AfD had its way, Germany would close off its borders to halt immigration and begin deporting refugees and other migrants. AfD leaders have previously said that German police should shoot migrants illegally crossing the border into the country.

Other AfD proposals include a eugenics platform for criminalizing adults suffering from mental illness by sending them to jail instead of offering them treatment. The platform also calls for removing children with disabilities from general schools and defunding any assistance programs that benefit single mothers and their children. Incentives would instead be implemented for "traditional" German families, which the party claims are necessary to reverse the declining fertility rate in Germany.

National AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch, who helped draft the proposals, claimed that the party had to move away from its initial founding purpose -- opposition to the European Union and bailouts -- to instead focus purely on opposition to any form of Islam within the country. While being interviewed to outline their new platform in April 2016 von Storch said, "Islam is a political ideology that is not compatible with the German constitution."

As a result of the remarks made by von Storch -- who also happens to be the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler's finance minister -- "Islam does not belong to Germany" is now an official AfD position. Currently, von Storch is one of two AfD members representing Germany at the European Parliament in Brussels, where she is a member of an anti-EU parliamentary group chaired by leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage.

Farage recently spoke at an AfD event in Berlin to show his support for the AfD and its Euroskeptic efforts. Having been invited by von Storch, Farage told the party "to speak the unspeakable" once it entered parliament in opposition.

Commentators in the German media have referred to this new tone as the AfD embracing "Trump-style" politics, although the turn actually began in 2014 at the EU election. This led the AfD's founder, Bernd Lucke, to publicly denounce his party's new xenophobic shift and favorable views of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Only a month after Trump announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, the founder of the AfD had already left his party.

The following year, a month after Trump was elected on promises of mass deportations and a Muslim ban, an AfD lawmaker broke from her party in December 2016. Claudia Martin, who represented the AfD in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament, abruptly left the AfD after only six months in office and disclosed an internal working paper that she referred to as a "Warsaw ghetto" plan to deport all refugees in the country.

Speaking to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Martin said, "There are papers in the AfD's drawers that are worse than what the NPD used to want," referring to Germany's oldest neo-Nazi party, which polls at between 1 percent and 2 percent nationally.

The proposal of the working paper -- referred to as "Fit for Return" -- involves detaining all of the asylum seekers and refugees in Germany and putting them in "special camps" (also referred to as "communities") that would be isolated from the general public. These camps would prepare detained asylum seekers for forced returns to their largely hostile nations of origin.

The drafted proposal, written by the AfD's Baden-Württemberg deputy chairman, Emil Sänze, called for the suspension of numerous articles to the German Constitution, including the right of self-determination (Article 2), equal treatment (Article 3) and freedom of movement (Article 11). Instead, those held in detention, who are referred to as "inhabitants" in the working paper, would only be afforded "limited basic rights" under the law.

In the same interview with FAZ, Martin went on to compare the "Fit for Return" bill to Hitler's "Madagascar Plan" for European Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Madagascar Plan led to the creation of segregated Jewish ghettos, such as the one in Warsaw that imprisoned 400,000 European Jews, in addition to expanding networks of concentration camps and slave labor. By January 1942 the Madagascar Plan had created the infrastructure necessary for the Holocaust, which the Nazis used to expediently carry out their "final solution" of genocide.

Martin said that the AfD, initially a party based on opposition to the European Union, was refusing to distance itself from the far right and instead recruiting extremists into its ranks. Now, the AfD "isn't a serious party anymore" and "has lost all ability to take any self-criticism," she said.

In response to the allegations, Martin's colleagues were quick to voice harsh criticism. AfD national co-chair Jörg Meuthen, also a leading candidate for the AfD in Baden-Württemberg, called her statements "pure hypocrisy" and warned Martin that she was "playing the wrong game." Disclosure of the "Fit for Return" bill by Martin was actually a "premeditated backhanded action for a cheap 15 minutes of fame," Meuthen claimed.

Ignoring the shocking content of Martin's disclosures, Meuthen went on to accuse Martin of simply being overburdened by her office and unable "to reach a consensus" within the party.

Sänze later called on Martin to return her seat to the AfD. But Martin has remained in office since resigning from the AfD and continues to represent her constituents as an independent candidate, using the slogan "AfD -- we need to talk!"

In her first interview on the matter with foreign media, Martin spoke to Truthout about the current state of the AfD, the "Fit for Return" bill, and similarities with Trump and his unconstitutional Muslim travel ban in the US.

AfD politicians often compared their own right-wing positions and their reception to those of Trump.

Martin said the prevailing tendencies within the AfD are now "massively against Islam and Muslims" and that the party has started opposing "every form of Islam" since the new party platform was adopted in April 2016. The AfD now intends to implement "all kinds of regulations that breach the right to practice religion" such as a ban on any Muslim headscarf, Martin said.

According to Martin, those in the AfD refuse to acknowledge the existence of Muslims who are liberal, identify with German society and speak the German language.

Addressing the nativist "America First" economic rhetoric from Trump, Martin said her former colleagues in the AfD "weren't even remotely interested in whether or not his policies would damage the German economy." She said they were guided by rigid ethno-nationalist ideological convictions irrespective of economic and political realities.

She added that AfD politicians had followed the presidential campaign of Donald Trump with an immense interest. In fact, AfD politicians often compared their own right-wing positions and their reception to those of Trump. "They saw it all as very good and very right, and they celebrated it when Trump became the president of the USA," Martin said.

"I would say there were parallels," Martin said when asked to compare the AfD's "Fit for Return" bill to Trump's Muslim ban. In the days after the newly inaugurated US president enacted his first Muslim travel ban, leading AfD candidate and party cofounder Alexander Gauland praised Trump's measure while lambasting Merkel for not considering similar acts in Germany.

Martin went on to warn that the AfD continues to present its "Fit for Return" bill only in a "diluted form" to the public. The legislation is currently touted by the AfD as a mere "proposal to deal with the refugee crisis" on the campaign trail, while the original working paper is far more draconian.

The "Fit for Return" bill states "that refugees need to be kept to themselves, and that they should only be allowed to learn a little of the German language, since they don't need it." Current asylum seekers and refugees "should more or less be made fit as care workers and for manual labor" in Germany so that later they can "build up their own countries" after they are all deported, according to the bill.

Furthermore, the bill decrees that detained children of these families "should be taught by their own compatriots so that they are separated from the German school system," as the AfD views both migrants and children with disabilities as a burden on classmates.

"This is why I said that this separation of people reminded me of the Warsaw ghettos, and for me it contradicted the first article of the German constitution -- that human dignity is inviolable," Martin stated. "Based on the fact that they have made the fight against refugees and the fight against Islam their two main issues, I would say that there certainly are tendencies in the party that have long since crossed the line into racism."

Over the next four years, the AfD will likely be given the chance to show just how far it is willing to go as it joins the opposition in Germany's parliament.

Categories: News

Environmental Disaster Looms in Puerto Rico, Lashed by Hurricane Maria and Left Without Power

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago

Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, bringing record rainfall and catastrophic flooding, destroying power lines and leaving the entire country in the dark. This comes as many homes on Puerto Rico were still dark two weeks after Hurricane Irma cut electricity to hundreds of thousands. The storm also raised concerns about potential environmental disasters. Puerto Rico is home to 23 Superfund sites, including on the island of Vieques, site of a former US naval test range, which took a near-direct hit from the storm. It is also the site of a coal-fired power plant owned by the private company AES. Residents across the island have been demanding the plant be closed and that the company stop dumping toxic coal ash into their community, saying the waste is poisonous to their health and the environment. We speak with Emily Atkin, staff writer covering the environment at the New Republic, who writes, "Puerto Rico is Already an Environmental Tragedy. Hurricane Maria Will Make It Even Worse."

Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today's show in Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, bringing record rainfall and catastrophic flooding, destroying power lines and leaving the entire country in the dark. Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Roselló says at least one person has died, and the death toll is expected to rise when communication with the southeastern part of the island is re-established. This is Puerto Rican resident Grisele Cruz.

GRISELE CRUZ: [translated] And at this point, on many parts of the island, we're without power because of the first storm that came through. That was Irma. We're without water in many districts. Can you imagine this now? Catastrophic. We're going to be, I think, without services for a long time.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Hurricane Maria has already killed at least two people on the island of Guadeloupe and devastated the island of Dominica.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as many homes in Puerto Rico were still dark two weeks after Hurricane Irma cut electricity to hundreds of thousands. The storm also raised concerns about potential environmental disasters. Puerto Rico is home to 23 Superfund sites, including on the island of Vieques, site of a former US naval test range, which took a near-direct hit from the storm. It's also the site of a coal-fired power plant owned by the private company AES. Residents across the island have been demanding the plant be closed and that the company stop dumping toxic coal ash into their community, saying the waste is poisonous to their health and environment.

For more, we're joined by Emily Atkin, staff writer covering the environment at the New Republic. In her latest article, she writes, "Puerto Rico is Already an Environmental Tragedy. Hurricane Maria Will Make It Even Worse."

Emily, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the environmental crisis as, at this point, after this storm, apparently 100 percent of Puerto Rico is dark. There is no electricity.

EMILY ATKIN: That's true. And to what you said, their environmental crisis, every single major hurricane is a major pollution event, especially when it hits a populated area. But the fact that this major hurricane hit Puerto Rico, that's an even more major pollution event, because Puerto Rico has extreme pollution problems.

You mentioned the fact that 100 percent of power is out across the island. That's a problem -- that would be a problem in any situation, because most sewage systems are run on electric pumps. Sewage systems easily become overwhelmed during flooding, especially, you know, if they're shut off. If all the sewage systems are off, that means that there are going to be prolonged releases of sewage into floodwaters and into soil, which poses a long-term health risk if people come in contact with those waters or with that soil. That's a normal problem.

There are other issues that are very unique to Puerto Rico and that have to do with their extensive financial crisis. And they're situations that, frankly, we would not accept in mainland -- in the mainland United States. One of those is the fact that most of the landfills on Puerto Rico are overflowing with liquid garbage. They're at capacity. They do not have the financial means to create new landfills or secure them. What's more, the coal ash, the toxic coal ash that you mentioned, is frequently dumped in these landfills. Flooding in those landfills threatens an overflow, threatens contamination of floodwaters. As you mentioned, as well, there's coal ash disposed across the island in ways that are very controversial, one of which I talk a lot about in my piece is a five-story uncovered pile of coal ash. Five stories, think about that. That's a large building, just of uncovered coal ash, sitting next to a community of 45,000 people. That community -- I saw footage from that community where water was flowing through the streets like a river, and winds were whipping -- you know, one of the more extreme wind videos that I've seen. So there are a lot of concerns that I could talk about for a while.

AMY GOODMAN: I just want to follow up on that coal ash point, because Democracy Now! just reported on the growing movement of Puerto Rican residents demanding the closure of the island's only coal-fired plant and that the company, Applied Energy Systems, stop dumping toxic coal ash near the southern town of Peñuelas. This is resident Yanina Moreno describing the company's track record.

YANINA MORENO: [translated] When the company AES was established in Puerto Rico at the end of the 1990s, the contract with the Authority of Electrical Energy, which supplies energy to Puerto Rico and its residents -- the contract established that the residuals of carbon combustion and the ashes generated by the burning of coal in the plant would not be disposed here in Puerto Rico. Instead, they would be exported. So they began taking those ashes someplace else. And among those places was the Dominican Republic. A series of problems began there. The people who lived in the communities where the ashes were being disposed began presenting symptoms, including respiratory problems and pregnancy problems. Babies were born without extremities or with their intestines exposed.

From there, the situation in Peñuelas began, because they began depositing the ashes in the landfill. The landfill is very close, just meters away from various communities. So we have been resisting for two years. For two years, we've had an active encampment against the disposal of ashes in Puerto Rico.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Yanina Moreno, a resident, describing the company's track record. It's a longtime struggle now in Puerto Rico. Special thanks to Democracy Now!'s Laura Gottesdiener and Juan Carlos Dávila, who were in Puerto Rico to do that report. And that was before the storms, Emily, before the storms.

EMILY ATKIN: Yeah, there's -- like I said, there's that five-story ash sort of pile. But then there are just sort of little piles of ash all over the southern part of the island. One of the things that I think your former guest was talking about was just the fact that this company transports the ash in open trucks, meaning that fugitive dust, aka coal ash that blows off in the wind, comes off and is just sitting on a lot of Puerto Rican riverbanks, a lot of the sides of roads. And what she mentioned about the health impacts, that's something that's been reported all over in places with coal ash, but it's very hard to prove attribution from coal ash to human health impacts. And that's what -- the failings in the science there, or the inability of the science to do that at this moment, is what gets companies like AES off the hook in situations like this.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what about the situation, Emily, in Vieques? Can you talk about what's going on there?

EMILY ATKIN: Yeah. Unfortunately, it's very hard to get in communication with anyone in Vieques, because it is an island off of Puerto Rico, and they were also -- that island of 9,000 people was also majorly hit by Irma. Irma skirted most of the mainland Puerto Rico, but it hit Vieques pretty hard. Vieques is now sort of a tourist destination, but for 60 years it was used by the US military as a bomb testing site. And so, we would just explode munitions all over this island. And the result of that, we no longer use it as a bomb testing site because of protests and because of -- because of contamination. Now it's a federal Superfund site, because 75 percent of the island is contaminated with waste from the munitions. And that's in the soil, and that's in the water. There are also unexploded munitions -- meaning bombs, ammunition, other types of explosives that are unexploded -- all over the island. That's not really a concern for them detonating, but it is a concern for them leaking whatever is in them, especially when very high winds and lots of flooding hit an area.

Like I said, Superfund concerns are always a problem. We saw that, Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, with the San Jacinto Waste Pits potentially overflowing, and we've already seen spills from there. This is a situation where almost an entire island is a Superfund site. It's a military -- it's one of the most contaminated, most expensive military Superfund sites we have. And it's going to take a lot of effort and a lot of attention to assess, once we can get over there, once we can start talking to people, what exactly happened, how chemicals spread, if they spread, if munitions got into the ocean.

AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, Emily, we just had Congressman Luis Gutiérrez on our show two days ago, before he got arrested at Trump Tower protesting immigration policy. He's been arrested a number of times in those protests, but he was also arrested twice protesting the US Navy's bombing of Vieques. You talk about Superfund sites. Democracy Now! was in Houston after the hurricane at a Superfund site, as well. But just explain what they are. And also, what is FEMA and the EPA -- of course, Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, Puerto Ricans are American citizens -- doing right now with this storm? You know, we saw both of these storms coming, so much devastation on the island.

EMILY ATKIN: The EPA, from what I know, is not yet in Puerto Rico. I got a notice yesterday that they were waiting for conditions to stall, to not be so bad, before they sent people there to assess these Superfund sites. Superfund sites are the nation's most industrially polluted sites. If a site gets the designation of Superfund, it means it's not safe for you to walk there without protective gear. It means it's not safe for you to touch the soil or touch water around there. They're sites where -- usually, you know, sort of during the Industrial Revolution, when we did not have environment regulations, paper mills, oil refineries, pharmaceutical companies, pesticide companies sort of freely released their waste into either groundwater, soil, pits -- any situation that's just gross, to be honest. And we see those -- there are over a thousand all over the US, 23 in Puerto Rico.

And like I said earlier on the program, there's always a risk of contamination, of contaminants spreading from Superfund sites, when a major hurricane hits. And it's something that we're going to be dealing with in Puerto Rico. It's something we're dealing with in Florida now, in Texas, and that we'll continue to deal with, so long as these sites remain contaminated and so long as we keep getting more intense hurricanes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Emily, we're going to link to your piece, staff writer on the environment at the New Republic, "Puerto Rico is Already an Environmental Tragedy. Hurricane Maria Will Make It Even Worse." Thanks so much for joining us.

When we come back, leading economist Jeffrey Sachs on, well, President Trump's speech, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, climate change and more. Stay with us. 

Categories: News

Tweeting While the Planet Burns

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago

It's January 2025, and within days of entering the Oval Office, a new president already faces his first full-scale crisis abroad. Twenty-four years after it began, the war on terror, from the Philippines to Nigeria, rages on. In 2024 alone, the US launched repeated air strikes on 15 nations (or, in a number of cases, former nations), including the Philippines, Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the former Iraq, the former Syria, Kurdistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria.

In the weeks before his inauguration, a series of events roiled the Greater Middle East and Africa. Drone strikes and raids by US Special Operations forces in Saudi Arabia against both Shiite rebels and militants from the Global Islamic State killed scores of civilians, including children. They left that increasingly destabilized kingdom in an uproar, intensified the unpopularity of its young king, and led to the withdrawal of the Saudi ambassador from Washington.  In Mali, dressed in police uniforms and riding on motorcycles, three Islamic militants from the Front Azawad, which now controls the upper third of the country, gained entry to a recently established joint US-French military base and blew themselves up, killing two American Green Berets, three American contractors, and two French soldiers, while wounding several members of Mali's presidential guard.  In Iraq, as 2024 ended, the city of Tal Afar -- already "liberated" twice since the 2003 invasion of that country, first by American troops in 2005 and then by American-backed Iraqi troops in 2017 -- fell to the Sunni militants of the Global Islamic State. Though now besieged by the forces of the Republic of Southern Iraq backed by the US Air Force, it remains in their hands.

The crisis of the moment, however, is in Afghanistan where the war on terror first began. There, the Taliban, the Global Islamic State (or GIS, which emerged from the Islamic State, or ISIS, in 2019), and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (or AQIA, which split from the original al-Qaeda in 2021) now control an increasing number of provincial capitals.  These range from Lashgar Gah in Helmand Province in the southern poppy-growing heartlands of the country to Kunduz in the north, which first briefly fell to the Taliban in 2015 and now is in the hands of GIS militants.  In the meantime, the American-backed government in the Afghan capital, Kabul, is -- as in 2022 when a "surge" of almost 25,000 American troops and private contractors saved it from falling to the Taliban -- again besieged and again in danger.  The conflict that Lieutenant General Harold S. Forrester, the top US commander in Afghanistan, had only recently termed a "stalemate" seems to be devolving.  What's left of the Afghan military with its ghost soldiers, soaring desertion rates, and stunning casualty figures is reportedly at the edge of dissolution. Forrester is returning to the United States this week to testify before Congress and urge the new president to surge into the country up to 15,000 more American troops, including Special Operations forces, and another 15,000 private contractors, as well as significantly more air power before the situation goes from worse to truly catastrophic.

Like many in the Pentagon, Forrester now regularly speaks of the Afghan War as an "eonic struggle," that is, one not expected to end for generations...

You think not?  When it comes to America's endless wars and conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa, you can't imagine a more-of-the-same scenario eight years into the future?  If, in 2009, eight years after the war on terror was launched, as President Obama was preparing to send a "surge" of more than 30,000 US troops into Afghanistan (while swearing to end the war in Iraq), I had written such a futuristic account of America's wars in 2017, you might have been no less unconvinced.

Who would have believed then that political Washington and the US military's high command could possibly continue on the same brainless path (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say superhighway) for another eight years?  Who would have believed then that, in the fall of 2017, they would be intensifying their air campaigns across the Greater Middle East, still fighting in Iraq (and Syria), supporting a disastrous Saudi war in Yemen, launching the first of yet another set of mini-surges in Afghanistan, and so on?  And who would have believed then that, in return for prosecuting unsuccessful wars for 16 years while aiding and abetting in the spread of terror movements across a vast region, three of America's generals would be the most powerful figures in Washington aside from our bizarre president (whose election no one could have predicted eight years ago)?  Or here's another mind-bender: Would you really have predicted that, in return for 16 years of unsuccessful war-making, the US military (and the rest of the national security state) would be getting yet more money from the political elite in our nation's capital or would be thought better of than any other American institution by the public?

Now, I'm the first to admit that we humans are pathetic seers. Peering into the future with any kind of accuracy has never been part of our skill set.  And so my version of 2025 could be way off base.  Given our present world, it might prove to be far too optimistic about our wars. 

After all -- just to mention one grim possibility of our moment -- for the first time since 1945, we're on a planet where nuclear weapons might be used by either side in the course of a local war, potentially leaving Asia aflame and possibly the world economy in ruins.  And don't even bring up Iran, which I carefully and perhaps too cautiously didn't include in my list of the 15 countries the US was bombing in 2025 (as opposed to the seven at present).  And yet, in the same world where they are decrying North Korea's nuclear weapons, the Trump administration and its U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, seem to be hard at work creating a situation in which the Iranians could once again be developing ones of their own.  The president has reportedly been desperate to ditch the nuclear agreement Barack Obama and the leaders of five other major powers signed with Iran in 2015 (though he has yet to actually do so) and he's stocked his administration with a remarkable crew of Iranophobes, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, all of whom have been itching over the years for some kind of confrontation with Iran. (And given the last decade and a half of American war fighting in the region, how do you think that conflict would be likely to turn out?)

Donald Trump's Washington, as John Feffer has recently pointed out, is now embarked on a Pyongyang-style "military-first" policy in which resources, money, and power are heading for the Pentagon and the US nuclear arsenal, while much of the rest of the government is downsized.  Obviously, if that's where your resources are going, then that's where your efforts and energies will go, too.  So don't expect less war in the years to come, no matter how inept Washington has proven when it comes to making war work.

Now, let's leave those wars aside for a moment and return to the future:

It's mid-September 2025.  Hurricane Wally has just deluged Houston with another thousand-year rainfall, the fourth since Hurricane Harvey hit the region in 2017.  It's the third Category 6 hurricane -- winds of 190 or more miles an hour -- to hit the US so far this year, the previous two being Tallulah and Valerie, tying a record first set in 2023.  (Category 6 was only added to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale in 2022 after Hurricane Donald devastated Washington DC)  The new president did not visit Houston.  His press secretary simply said, "If the president visited every area hit by extreme weather, he would be incapable of spending enough time in Washington to oversee the rebuilding of the city and govern the country."  She refused to take further questions and Congress has no plans to pass emergency legislation for a relief package for the Houston region.

Much of what's left of that city's population is either fled ahead of the storm or is packed into relief shelters.  And as with Miami Beach, it is now believed that some of the more flood-prone parts of the Houston area will never be rebuilt.  (Certain ocean-front areas of Miami were largely abandoned after Donald hit in 2022 on its way to Washington, thanks in part to a new reality: sea levels were rising faster than expected because of the stunning pace at which the Greenland ice shield meltdown.)   

Meanwhile, the temperature just hit 112 degrees, a new September record, in San Francisco.  That came after a summer in which a record 115 was experienced, making Mark Twain's apocryphal line, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco," an artifact of the past. In another year without an El Niño phenomenon, the West Coast has again been ablaze and the wheat-growing regions of the Midwest have been further devastated by a tenacious drought, now four years old.

Around the planet, heat events are on the rise, as are storms and floods, while the wildfire season continues to expand globally.  To mention just two events elsewhere on Earth: in 2024, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), thanks to both spreading conflicts and an increase in extreme weather events, more people were displaced -- 127.2 million -- than at any time on record, almost doubling the 2016 count. UNHCR director Angelica Harbani expects that figure to be surpassed yet again when this year's numbers are tallied.  In addition, a speedier than expected meltdown of the Himalayan glaciers has created a permanent water crisis in parts of South Asia also struck by repeated disastrous monsoons and floods.

In the United States, the week after Hurricane Wally destroyed Houston, the president flew to North Dakota to proudly mark the beginning of the construction of the Transcontinental Pipeline slated to bring Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the East Coast.  "It will help ensure," he said, "that the United States remains the oil capital of the planet."

Think of it this way: a new weather paradigm is visibly on the rise.  It just walloped the United States from the burning West Coast to the battered Florida Keys.  And another crucial phenomenon has accompanied it: the rise to power in Washington -- and not just there -- of Republican climate-change denialism. Think of the two phenomena together as the alliance from hell.  So far there's no evidence that a Washington whose key agencies are well stockedwith climate-change deniers is likely to be transformed any time soon.

Now, meld those two future scenarios of mine: the fruitless pursuit of never-ending wars and the increasing extremity of the weather on a planet seemingly growing hotter by the year.  (Sixteen of the 17 warmest years on record occurred in the twenty-first century and the 17th was 1998.)  Try to conjure up such a world for a moment and you'll realize that the potential damage could be enormous, even if the planet's "lone superpower" continues to encourage the greatest threat facing us for only a brief period, even if Donald Trump doesn't win reelection in 2020 or worse than him isn't heading down the pike.

The Frying of Our World

There have been many imperial powers on Planet Earth.  Any number of them committed massive acts of horror -- from the Mongol empire (whose warriors typically sacked Baghdad in 1258, putting its public libraries to the torch, reputedly turning the Tigris River black with ink and that city's streets red with blood) to the Spanish empire (known for its grim treatment of the inhabitants of its "new world" possessions, not to speak of the Muslims, Jews, and other heretics in Spain itself) to the Nazis (no elaboration needed). In other words, there's already competition enough for the imperial worst of the worst.  And yet don't imagine that the United States doesn't have a shot at taking the number one spot for all eternity. (USA! USA!)

Depending on how the politics of this country and this century play out, the phrase "fiddling while Rome burns" might have to be seriously readjusted.  In the American version, you would substitute "fighting never-ending wars across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and possibly Asia" for "fiddling" and for "Rome," you would insert "the planet." Only "burns" would remain the same.  For now, at least, you would also have to replace the Roman emperor Nero (who was probably playing a lyre, since no fiddles existed in his world) with Donald Trump, the Tweeter-in-Chief, as well as "his" generals and the whole crew of climate deniers now swarming Washington, one more eager than the next to release the full power of fossil fuels into an overburdened atmosphere.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that my own country, so eternally overpraised by its leaders in these years as the planet's "indispensable" and "exceptional" nation with "the finest fighting force the world has ever known" might usher in the collapse of the very environment that nurtured humanity all these millennia.  As the "lone superpower," the last in a line-up of rival great powers extending back to the fifteenth century, what a mockery it threatens to make of the long-gone vision of history as a march of progress through time.  What a mockery it threatens to make of the America of my own childhood, the one that so proudly put a man on the moon and imagined that there was no problem on Earth it couldn't solve.

Imagine the government of that same country, distracted by its hopeless wars and the terrorist groups they continue to generate, facing the possible frying of our world -- and not lifting a finger to deal with the situation.  In a Washington where less is more for everything except the US military (for which more is invariably less), the world has been turned upside down.  It's the definition of an empire of madness.

Hold on a second!  Somewhere, faintly, I think I hear a fiddle playing and maybe it's my imagination, but do I smell smoke?

Note: Credit must be given for the citation in this piece of "Hurricane Donald," the storm that devastated Washington in 2022. I stole it from John Feffer's superb dystopian novel Splinterlands.

 

Categories: News

Parallel Earth

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago
Categories: News

Sudden Enemies of the State: Criminalized Juggalos Find Common Cause With Socialists

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago

When the Juggalos -- mostly working-class fans of the band Insane Clown Posse -- marched in Washington, DC, to protest their criminalization as a "gang," the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), who are opposed to the police state and prisons, came out to support them. It was an opportunity to demonstrate solidarity with people newly politicized by their treatment as outcasts, says Allison Hrabar of Metro DC DSA. 

 Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)Joseph Utsler (left) and Joseph Bruce (right), also known as Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J of Insane Clown Posse, speak during the Juggalo March in Washington, DC, on September 16, 2017. Juggalos are fans and followers of the rap group Insane Clown Posse and they are protesting the FBI's 2011 classification of Juggalos as a Street Gang. (Photo: Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

We're now several months into the Trump administration, and activists have scored some important victories in those months. Yet there is always more to be done, and for many people, the question of where to focus and how to help remains. In this ongoing "Interviews for Resistance" series, we talk with organizers, agitators and educators not only about how to resist but also about how to build a better world. Today's interview is the 75th in the series. Click here for the most recent interview before this one.

Last weekend, in Washington, DC, the Juggalos -- fans of the band Insane Clown Posse and their record label -- marched against their criminalization. In 2011 the FBI decided to classify the Juggalos as a "hybrid gang," meaning that their love for a particular musical act marked them as threats. Juggalos are often written off by the rest of society, but to some leftist political organizations, the march was an opportunity to demonstrate solidarity and build connections with a group of people politicized by their outcast treatment.

We spoke with Allison Hrabar, a rank-and-file member of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) who was part of a solidarity delegation to the Juggalo march. To read Hrabar's thoughts on health care organizing in DC, as well, click here.

Sarah Jaffe: This past weekend, you were part of the DSA contingent that was at the Juggalo March. Start off, tell us a little bit about your perceptions of the march. How did it go?

Allison Hrabar: It was one of my favorite days in DC this year. We have a lot of marches, and they have started to feel repetitive. This was a really new group of people and it was also the friendliest group of people I have been around in a while. We showed up at 1 pm. Our Faygo [a soft drink that is popularly consumed and sprayed within the Juggalo subculture] was gone by 1:30 pm. We had some really great conversations with people about the march.

You say that marches have started to get repetitive. I would like to hear a little bit more about why this one felt different and fresh.

For one, it was a lot of people coming from outside of DC. At a certain point, the people who are able to march are professionals who aren't working on the weekends or just people who might be able to afford to travel and fly in. The Juggalos typically are a white working-class movement. They really crowdfund to be able to travel when they might not be able to. Also, they have clown face paint on, which is not a normal look by the Lincoln Memorial.

Yes, I imagine the tourists -- that was not what they had expected.

Yes, there were some tourists who were walking up the mall from the Washington Monument toward the Lincoln Memorial, and watching them navigate through the crowd with their families was very fun.

Give us a little background on the march and the demands and the basis for why the Juggalos marched on DC.

In 2011, the FBI classified "Juggalos" (that is what fans of the Insane Clown Posse call themselves) as a loosely affiliated hybrid gang, which means that all of their fan markers became gang symbols overnight. So, if you have a hatchet man tattoo, which a lot of fans do, if you have the Psychopathic Records logo on your car as a sticker, if you have photos of yourself on social media in face paint, then you are advertising yourself as a gang member in the eyes of law enforcement. As this classification happened, Juggalos started to have this brought up in custody battles, and they were losing custody of their children. They were losing jobs. Some were unable to re-enlist in the Army. Basically, because they liked a certain band (that is admittedly very weird), they weren't able to participate in life because that has been deemed a crime.

Any of us might have band t-shirts of bands that people don't particularly understand in our closets. The fact that these can suddenly become a marker of criminality is something we don't expect.

And a lot of people have ignored that, because they are treated as sort of a joke. Like, if Nickelback suddenly became a gang symbol, that would be very funny. It would also be a problem.

We are also just not used to that happening to a group of mostly white people.

Yes, especially in progressive and liberal circles. A lot of us know how increased police surveillance affects people of color or queer people.... This can [also] affect the lives of the [white] working class around us who may not be used to seeing that. And the people that it is affecting may not be used to being targeted by police, and this may awaken them to the problems of state repression and suddenly seeing how that affects their lives.

Talk about why it was important for DSA to be involved in this.

There are a few reasons. First, is that we were excited about it as soon as we heard about it. The idea of the Juggalos marching on Washington is an exciting idea. I think everyone on the internet can relate to that. When we heard about the actual issues, we knew it was something we ideologically supported. As socialists, we don't like state repression. We don't like the abuses that law enforcement inflicts on our citizens. At our recent DSA convention in August, actually, we passed a resolution about dismantling the police state and abolishing prisons. So, this falls in line with our party assessed ideas.

Also, we want to build a movement that actually reflects what the nation looks like. DCDSA tends to lean white, it tends to lean professional. So [we liked] the idea of being able to reach out to a group of working-class people, reaching out to people who have actually been affected by police. Not just people who care about the issue, but people who can talk about how this has really affected their lives, was really important to us.

You had mentioned before that the identity of Juggalo is sort of built around the idea of building a chosen family. I would love for you to talk a little bit more about that and its relevance to political organizing.

One of the chants you heard a lot at the march was, "Family! Family!" That is sort of this Juggalo idea that your Juggalos and your Juggalettes are your brothers and sisters, and you come together because of this shared identity. I think that is something that I relate to as a queer person finding my chosen family in [the queer] community and actually, part of DSA; being able to find people who are connected because of this ideological reason ... we come together and we have really formed this social circle around that. It is this idea of finding a support network that can support you when the state fails ... I think a lot of people have built their lives around that in some way.

Tell us a little bit about the background work you did before going to the march to make sure that you could be there and not intrude on the family.

We didn't want to show up and hand out copies of the Communist Manifesto. We worked through what would be well-received. I reached out to a Juggalo named Kitty Stryker. They are one of the founding members of the Struggalo Circus ... a group that is organizing leftists within the Juggalo community (and they are Juggalos themselves). We were really impressed by what they are doing. I ended up DMing [direct messaging] Kitty on Twitter and I asked, "What kind of messages might the Juggalos want to hear? How might they be open to hearing this idea that we are bringing them? We are not Juggalos ourselves. We are not going to pretend to be, but we want to reach out to them."

They gave some really good advice. They said that a lot of Juggalos are political -- and not all of them are. Some of them are apolitical. Some of them are right-wing. They said that those who might be open to our message already kind of lean toward being an anarchist or toward being a libertarian, so we should focus on those aspects of being a socialist and meet them where they are. If they care about libertarianism, what are the libertarian socialist ideas we can bring them? If they care about dismantling the state, what are the anarcho-communist ideas we can bring them?

How did your interactions with folks go on the day of the march?

They were all incredibly positive. We showed up right when the gathering started, when Juggalos were basically starting to mill around the mall. It was sort of like a meetup until the actual speeches started. We had a big sign that said "Faygo and Snacks" and had all these posters that said "Faygo not Fascism." The question that everybody asked us was whether we actually had Faygo.

And for people who don't know what Faygo is, tell us why Faygo is important.

It is the official soda of the Juggalos. I don't actually know the back story there. But, it is this really sweet soda that you can usually only get around Michigan, I think, or maybe certain parts of the south. They spray it at their concerts over the crowd and people go wild. So, we had to get it. We got Faygo and people were really excited. I gave people drinks and then we had bags of chips to hand out.

Then, we said, "Oh, also, we have some propaganda for you if you are interested." Everyone that I offered a pamphlet to said, "Yes," which is usually not the case when tabling an event. A couple of people were like, "Oh, what is with the rose?" We put a rose on the little hatchet man logo.

People were like, "What is DSA? Why are you guys out here?" We explained. At one point, a park ranger didn't want us sitting still on the mall and just camping out, so we took our boxes and started wandering through the crowd. People were crazy about the posters. People were really appreciative of the water. It was a really great day overall.

I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the importance of subcultural groups being politicized, in particular in the Trump era. Obviously, this goes back to 2011, but there are probably many things building toward this moment.

I think what we are seeing right now with the Juggalos [is that] people ... their consciousness is being raised. They are suddenly the target of the state. Some of them already have been for other reasons, but now they are targets of the state because of this group, and they are reaching outside for support. I think you see that with a lot of marginalized groups across history. If you are being targeted for a certain part of your identity, you are going to look for solidarity with people in that identity.

We talk about how the punk scene radicalized a lot of people at the time.... If you are cast out for being a weirdo or because you paint your face like a clown, you might start to wonder why society is able to do that to you. Why are you able to lose your job because of stuff you like? I think this is a really common thing across the state that we are seeing, and I think it is reaching a new population for the first time.

Of course, this was happening on the same day as a supposedly "mother of all Trump rallies," which I heard didn't actually turn out to be very big.

I didn't end up going down to that side of the mall, but from what I heard it was under 1,000 people, for sure. I wouldn't call it the mother of all rallies. Certainly not the largest march in the last two months.

What was the estimated attendance at the Juggalo March?

The Juggalo March I would say [was] probably about the same size. It might have grown later in the day, especially with the concert. I would say it was probably about 1,000 people. I had hoped there [were] a few more Juggalos in the world.

But, there was no interaction between the two as far as you know?

Not that I saw. The Juggalos were very insistent that this was not an anti-Trump march. They were not [organizing] in response to the mother of all rallies. They did not want to interact, because they wanted it to be a very peaceful day. It was a very peaceful day. No arrests. No violence. There was an antifa group going around the mall. They started at the mother of all rallies and I think their presence maybe wasn't needed. I don't think there was a lot of action down there, either. They were wandering down to the Juggalo side of the mall and camping out in the hills listening to some speeches and protests. Which I thought was very funny. It was an interesting visual. But, I think that was the only mix, other than journalists going back and forth.

How can people keep up with you and DC DSA?

You can follow DC DSA on Twitter @DC_DSA or at our website at www.DSADC.org. Not www.DCDSA.org, which is a sheriff's website. We are not that. It is a very common mistake. That is where we have a lot of updates about actions that people can get involved in. If the Juggalos come back, we will be excited to march with them again.

Note: Click here to read the other part of this interview, a conversation with Allison Hrabar about DC-based efforts to fight the latest attacks on the Affordable Care Act.

Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.

Categories: News

"One Day the Bill Is Dead, and the Next Day It Is Back": The Fight Against Zombie Trumpcare

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago

 Albin Lohr-Jones / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)Participants hold signs while protesting the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act on July 29, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)

We're now several months into the Trump administration, and activists have scored some important victories in those months. Yet there is always more to be done, and for many people, the question of where to focus and how to help remains. In this ongoing "Interviews for Resistance" series, we talk with organizers, agitators and educators not only about how to resist but also about how to build a better world. Today's interview is the 75th in the series.  Click here for the most recent interview before this one.

This week we bring you a conversation with Allison Hrabar, a rank-and-file member of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America, about organizing against the latest version of zombie Trumpcare. To read Hrabar's thoughts on the recent Juggalo march in DC, as well, click here.

Sarah Jaffe: The Republicans are trying, yet again, to revive zombie Trumpcare. But also last week we saw the introduction of a single-payer health care bill that has 17 Senate co-sponsors at this moment. What has it been like this summer, organizing in DC against these periodic flare-ups of the Republicans trying to kill us?

Allison Hrabar: The interesting thing about living in DC is that we can go to Republicans in person and ask them not to kill us, as opposed to just calling them on the phone. So, this summer, for the past couple of months, every few weeks, we will be like, "There is a congressional sit-in. We are all going to go to so-and-so's office and sit down." Some of those have been aimed at getting arrested. Some of those have been sit-ins or meetings with other groups. ADAPT staged a couple of actions here. I have been continually impressed with their presence.

Living in DC also means you know where congresspeople live. Obviously, let's say, people in Alaska can't go bother Sen. Murkowski to not support the bill, but DCDSA can help our Anchorage DSA comrades and go to her house for them. So, there was a night where people basically made a speech outside of her home and pulled a big crowd and showed her that we are not going to give up even if her constituents are very far away.

It worked on Murkowski, at least. This week people are heading back to DC. Tell us what is going on.

Part of the approach is both protecting the ACA, which involves calling your Senators, trying to show our support to make sure they will not support these repeal-and-replace bills. They are basically asking people to pay drastically more for health insurance.

Then, part of the socialist perspective is that we need to look at what's next. The ACA was good in that it reduced uninsured rates, but any amount of people who are not able to pay for medical care is too much. Fifty-four million people is too much under the original Trumpcare bill, the 27-ish million who are also uninsured under Obamacare was also bad... We need to protect ACA because we want as few people to die as possible. But we also need to say, "OK, how do we start moving toward socialized medicine?" One of the things we did at the DSA convention was not just say, "We want to support Medicare for All." We want to support a single-payer system, a fully socialized medical system, so we will make sure that people don't have to worry about paying for medical care. That is the long-term goal.

As this latest flare-up happens, at the same time as a single-payer bill is introduced, does that change your short-term strategy for the rest of the fall and however long it takes to go through this next mess?

This is day-to-day. It feels like one day the bill is dead and the next day it is back and we have to start mobilizing again. There are some actions planned for the next couple of weeks in Congress where people will be doing sit-ins again and promoting a lot of, "Here are numbers to call your Senators and Congresspeople"....

Then, we are also going to local town halls that Republicans are hosting and Democrats, as well. The Northern Virginia branch of DSA went to Don Beyer's town hall. We were most of the attendees there. They told their personal stories about needing medical insurance and not being able to get it. Folks would talk about the need for Obamacare and also to push for them to sign onto the single-payer bill.

Unfortunately, a lot of our energies are caught up in this short-term action where it is like, "Oh, we need them not to kill us this week so we can fix the state in some number of years." Which is frustrating. But, yes, we will keep doing that work for now.

It also seems like through all of these fights to defeat these attempts to repeal the ACA, single-payer grew in popularity.

Definitely.... Talking about the ACA at all and bringing up this idea of "We can replace legislation. We can improve legislation," is a really good reminder that we shouldn't be content with what we have.

How can people keep up with you and DC DSA?

You can follow DC DSA on Twitter @DC_DSA or at our website at www.DSADC.org. Not www.DCDSA.org , which is a sheriff's website. We are not that. It is a very common mistake. That is where we have a lot of updates about actions that people can get involved in. We are really excited about health care.

Note: Click here to read the other part of this interview, a conversation with Allison Hrabar about the Democratic Socialists of America's outreach presence at the recent Juggalo march in Washington, DC.

Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.

Categories: News

EPA Adds Prison Locations to Its Environmental Justice Mapping Tool

Truth Out - 15 hours 45 min ago

 Chris Salvo / The Image Bank / Getty Images)(Photo: Chris Salvo / The Image Bank / Getty Images)

This story is the sixth piece in "America's Toxic Prisons," an investigative, collaborative series between Truthout and Earth Island Journal. This series dives deeply into the intersection between mass incarceration and environmental justice.

As an environmental reporter, it's not every day that I get to communicate good news -- the state of our environment often feels pretty bleak. But today, at least, there is a victory to celebrate: Thanks to the persistence of a small group of prison ecology advocates, the support of their allies, and the assistance of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prisoners' rights and environmental justice advocates have a new tool to add to their activist arsenal.

This summer, the EPA added a "prisons layer" to its Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool. Known as EJSCREEN for short, the tool can be used by the public to assess possible exposure to pollutants that might be present in the environment (i.e., land, air, and water) where they live or work.

The new layer allows the public to overlay the locations of the country's 6,000-plus prisons, jails, and detention centers with information about environmental hazards like superfund and hazardous waste sites, something the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center has been pushing for as part of its campaign for the EPA to consider prisoners within an environmental justice context. For the prison ecology movement, which addresses issues at the intersection of mass incarceration and environmental degradation, it could be a game changer.

"It's huge," says Panagioti Tsolkas, cofounder of the Prison Ecology Project, a program of the Human Rights Defense Center. "It's one of those things that I think if you just look at it quickly, it seems almost mundane to have added a layer to this existing map. And in the absence of a movement present to actually use it for something, it could be meaningless…. But in the presence of what we've been doing over the last three years, of building this national movement and organizing model of looking at prisons from an environmental justice perspective … this is pretty massive."

The Prison Ecology Project was thinking of creating its own map in the absence of an EPA version. And during our own reporting on toxic prisons earlier this year, Earth Island Journal and Truthout attempted to create a map of prisons and superfund sites across the country, but struggled with a lack of adequate mapping tools.

Tsolkas thinks the new EPA tool will prove valuable in the fight against new prison projects. Prisons are often built on marginal lands that, after having been mined, logged, or otherwise contaminated, may not be seen as suitable for any other use.  At the same time, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), a subdivision division of the US Department of Justice, doesn't typically address the impact of prison-siting decisions on the health of prisoners when completing federally mandated environmental impact statements (EIS).  

That was originally the case with the proposed construction of a maximum-security prison atop a former mountaintop-removal coal-mining site in Letcher County, Kentucky. The BOP's initial environmental impact statement for the project didn't mention the potential environmental impacts -- like mining-related pollution and water contamination -- on the estimated 1,200 people who would be held at the prison if it were built.  A revised EIS released earlier this year (following extensive comments by groups like the HRDC and the Center for Biological Diversity), mentions some of the health implications for prisoners, but does not provide a robust discussion of the impacts. According to HRDC, this EIS may represent the only example of an environmental review in which the BOP has made any mention of prisoner health. The final EIS for the new prison is still pending. (Read more about the status of the Letcher County proposal.)

Tsolkas says that the new EJSCREEN prison layer implicitly endorses HRDC's contention that the BOP must consider prisoner health when evaluating the Letcher County project, and others like it.

"What the BOP has been saying is that they basically have no reason, no mandate, nothing that points them to have to look at environmental justice concerns related to prisons," Tsolkas says. "And having the EPA include prisons on the EJSCREEN basically implies the opposite -- that federal agencies now need to look at prison populations when they're considering the placement of industrial facilities including prisons themselves."

The new prison layer may also give prison ecology advocates the edge they need to go on the offensive. "Instead of reacting to abuses in existing prisons or responding to proposals for new prisons, we can actually initiate campaigns, and say, 'Hey, this overpopulated prison has documented issues with x, y, and x.," Tsolkas explains. "So we can create campaigns basically using the EJSCREEN tool."

Tsolkas says he'd like "to give a shout-out to the folks at the environmental justice office of the EPA" for making the prison layer a reality. But he'd still like to see more from the agency, especially in the form of a robust national prison-inspection program.

Such a program is not without precedent. The EPA's Region III office -- which covers the Mid-Atlantic states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC -- used to run a "prisons initiative" to improve environmental compliance at prisons and jails across the region. Under the imitative, which ended in 2011, the EPA conducted inspections at prisons, and engaged in outreach and training work.

In a written statement, the agency said it ended the prisons initiative because it "felt prisons in the Mid-Atlantic region were able to ensure environmental regulation compliance by themselves." It seems, however, that there is still room for improvement:  A recent investigation by Earth Island Journal and Truthout found that mass incarceration impacts the health of prisoners, prison-adjacent communities, and local ecosystems across the United States.

"It shouldn't be like pulling teeth," Tsolkas says, referring to the difficulty of getting EPA inspectors out to prisons. "We have hundreds of letters from prisoners across the country saying the water is dirty. It shouldn't take that much to get an EPA representative to go…. They have a key to get into the prisons that most of us don't have short of visitation and breaking laws."

This report is part of a collaborative series on the environment and mass incarceration by Earth Island Journal and Truthout. It was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism

Categories: News

Shocking emails reveal editor of food science journal was on Monsanto's payroll at $400 per hour

Citizens for Legitimate Government - 16 hours 28 min ago

Shocking emails reveal editor of food science journal was on Monsanto's payroll at $400 per hour | 20 Sept 2017 | Recently released court documents reveal what many people have long suspected: Monsanto [terrorist group and Obama's best buds] had a hand in the retraction of a groundbreaking study that left little doubt about the dangers of glyphosate in a prominent food science journal. Monsanto will do anything to protect the reputation of Roundup and its other herbicide products – which earned them $1.9 billion in gross profits in 2015 alone - and that includes silencing their detractors. It has now emerged that the Editor in Chief of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology who oversaw the famous study's retraction was on Monsanto's payroll. This is a conflict of interest at best, and possibly something far more underhanded, and they might have gotten away with it had their lawyers succeeded in preventing their internal documents from being released in a class action lawsuit filed against the firm by cancer patients.

Categories: News

Living Autonomy: Anarchists Organize Relief Efforts in Florida

It's Goin Down - 16 hours 57 min ago

The post Living Autonomy: Anarchists Organize Relief Efforts in Florida appeared first on It's Going Down.

Recently we spoke with Dezeray about her organizing with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR) in the weeks since Hurricane Irma and how spaces such as the hub in Tampa are crucial sites for building solidarity and stability during times of crisis. They’ve had an overwhelming amount of support from the local community, especially those who have realized the practice of mutual aid is a part of the work of anarchist, anti-fascist, and anti-racist struggles. The Reverend Dr. Russell Meyer from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tampa—the church that has provided the building now known as “the hub,”—noted during a sermon following Hurricane Irma, “a week ago these people were known as Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Terrorists. Have you ever seen a terrorist show up to a child with Pedialyte in their hand?”

Although this has not deterred the actions of neo-Confederate groups such as Save Southern Heritage from standing outside across the street taking pictures, filming, and documenting those who enter the space. In the days following Hurricane Irma Alt-Right 4chan users trolled the MADR hotline by making false rescue reports to take away time and resources from those actually in need. 3% Percenters have tried numerous times to call or show up in the space and say there was an emergency, state multiple people were coming to collect all of the supplies, along with a number of other faulty narratives all trying to disrupt their work because of the power that it holds.

With a visit by Richard Spencer in Gainesville, Florida at the University of Florida set for October 19th, a number of Alt-Right white supremacists have already been discussing on 4chan how they are going to use “Stand Your Ground” laws as an excuse to slaughter anti-fascists and turn it into a bloodbath. It is crucial to see how we can learn from and support projects such as these, as the organizers involved are experiencing repression, threats of physical violence, and doxxing for doing this crucial work and need our solidarity now more than ever.

Can you give an update on what’s happened since Irma hit and since the last interview you all did with the Ex-Worker podcast? What’s happened in the past week, especially with the 3%ers and other far-Right groups in the Tampa Bay area that have been antagonistic to your alls work?

In the last week we’ve had numerous trucks go out, a couple trips to Immokalee, Riverview, Dover, Apopkaand St. Pete. We’ve been helping folks get medication that doesn’t keep, like insulin and breathing treatments, because power is out and there’s no refrigeration. We’ve been doing check-ins on folks. As far as the wellness space and convergence center, we’ve had doctors volunteering and coming in to see folks who are undocumented and un- or under-insured.

We have a trauma councilor on stand-by, and we’ve been doing harm reduction work. We have an acupuncturist and a Reiki practitioner in the center, and we’ve been getting the word out to the community to let folks know that this is a space of convergence that is of, for, and by the community. Meaning there are no leaders and that it’s self-organized. It’s been working beautifully. We are holding on to the space with everything we have so that we are able to continue to provide a space for mobilization in the community.

We want this to be a launching point to other communities that have been hard hit like the other indigenous communities down south, the Migrant farm workers communities, down to the Keys where there is a lot damage and not adequate infrastructure to help folks. We did assessment runs to vulnerable communities, refugee and resettled communities, to see if there was structural damage and if they needed food and water. Through our already established relationships in those communities we were able to get good intel and respond in way they wanted and get their needs meet.

As far as the other shit that comes with anarchist and anti-fascist organizing and mutual aid, we had an individual who we are not sure if they are a 3%er, but they’ve come with three different stories to three different people trying to clear out the supplies we have and cause chaos and panic. We’ve had pro-Confederate folks across the street, filming and taking photos. Those kinds of disruptions we expect and it’s a social statement about fascists and pro-Confederates: their politics are white supremacy and white nationalism and they are not in the streets doing the work. It’s anarchists and comrades in movements that are in the streets doing the work, that ensuring the agency and self-determination of communities is restored and respected, and that we are responding in the way these communities request.

How many trucks and how many tons of food and supplies would you estimate you’ve sent out this week?

We sent out an 18 ft truck loaded to the ceiling with supplies to Immokalee. I would say numerous tons of supplies: hundreds of cases of water and hundreds of gallons of water. We set up a medical clinic in Immokalee. Yesterday we sent out 6 trucks to Immokalee for a second run.

We sent another truck to a farmer worker association and a community center in Apopka. We’ve had cars driving around the state to meet people at their homes to provide to them. Over the last week, we’ve constantly felt at risk of not having enough supplies and then the community comes together and we have rooms that are full and ready to be sent out.

Do you have updates on Immokalee, Jacksonville, or the Keys, where people are just getting back in?

I think those assessments are best made by people who live there so we are waiting for assessments from people on the ground. I think in a couple days we will have a good idea from people who live there. We are reaching out to indigenous communities in the southwest and following up with areas and people with whom we’ve already had contact to see how we can continue to support.

How much longer will this space be open?

This space is provided by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, who sheltered people they didn’t know during the storm. We didn’t have a prior relationship with them. They opened the space and offered it to us to have the convergence center in. We are holding on with our fingernails and teeth to the space, because this is a space in which people have come just to get some time to sit with community and recover and have harm reduction work done and just have a space to rest and organize with other folks. While we are not sure how long this space will be available, I think this space will have a transformation at the end of the month because there are costs associated with it. We are going to try to meet those costs. We don’t know exactly what the transformation is going to look like but if we are not here we will be somewhere else.

This organizing model comes out of your experience in Katrina and Haiti. By having this hub and space you all have helped a lot of people around the state and having a dedicated space has been key to that. How do you think other people can spread, build and work with this model? What have you all done in the years prior to make this kind of response possible?

The thing that is key is our established networking community. We are involved in Food Not Bombs, radical refugee solidarity work, and disaster relief in other areas with solidarity-not-charity based groups. So having a network and being involved in the community in the first place is key, and our Black Lives Matter comrades here have been a huge part of making this space what it is. So having the network and working in the community is the first thing. Mutual Aid Disaster Relief was brought about by folks that have done the work. I was in the lower ninth for two months after Katrina. There were folks who spent a lot of time there, founded the Common Ground Relief collective, and saw how self-organization and leaderless anarchist-based work supported community self-determination and broke with traditional “aid” relationships and didn’t other people.

This approach of empowering people has flourished here. Every day I come in the space is more gorgeous, there’s new signs, art work, new stations and I think empowering people has magical and powerful results. And this is what is beat out of us every day in a capitalist system, and that’s what we can see here, that the quality of the oil shows when the oil is pressed. I think this space could be recreated anywhere there is a community ready to empower each other and work in cooperation.

The original forecast was for Tampa to be hit hard. When that didn’t happen it seems like you all turned this space into a regional or state-wide hub for support. How did that happen? How did you build those relationships?

Fortunately, we have comrades that we’ve worked a lot with in the south and who have been killing themselves doing the work now. Up until the night of the hurricane we didn’t know what and where was being hit. The media plays it up so much and there’s really no independent meteorologist, as far as I know, that can give us information without hype. So all the reports were “Florida is going to be wiped off the map.” Doomsday everywhere you looked. I think that hysteria was an obstacle in knowing what to expect. But after we starting reaching out and the model is to reach out to groups who are doing grassroots, solidarity-based, empowering work in the streets, on the ground, non-bureaucratic, no red tape, where there’s no tickets, no applications, nothing.

It’s like mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That’s the key. So some of those structures were already in place and if we don’t have contacts we reach out and plug in in a respectful way, realizing people are dealing with trauma and post-traumatic stress.

How do you think the organizing with change over the next few weeks?

We’ve been super active in the Tampa bay area between Food Not Bombs, Love Has No Borders, Black Lives Matter, and Restorative Justice Coalition. All of these groups have been incredibly active and all these people have close relationships. We will continue to do the work from the spaces we have been doing the work from. But this has been a validation of how self-organization and solidarity and empowerment-based work actually plays out. You can see the mechanisms moving. It’s very healing, and in doing the work that healing occurs. And if this space is no longer available I think people will continue to organize both independently and together.

How can people in the region or outside plug in and support, especially from afar?

Our website is mutualaiddisasterrelief.org. You can plug in by reaching out to any of the grassroots, autonomously organizing groups on the ground that I mentioned above. Any of these groups here in Tampa doing the work on the ground can plug people in. If they want to get involved in their own areas, I would suggest looking for other groups that are self-organizing and reach out and begin that solidarity work.

We also have a social media presence on Twitter, Instagram and in the Facebook group Irma Decentralized Response. We are supporting the folks working in Houston and Baton Rouge and want to amplify those struggles. People can donate and support from afar by sending money, via the Amazon wishlist on our site, and by organizing in their own communities. For people in the region, state and Tampa Bay area, coming to the space and helping organize and build solidarity is the best, most critical, and direct way to contribute.

Categories: News

#BringBackStim: Support SubMedia and Help Create Weekly Show

It's Goin Down - 17 hours 55 min ago

The post #BringBackStim: Support SubMedia and Help Create Weekly Show appeared first on It's Going Down.

Donate Here

We are at a critical moment in human history. Our world continues to be wracked by catastrophic climate change, devastating wars, surging inequality, and historically unprecedented levels of human migration. The far-right has seized on this atmosphere of generalized crisis in order to scapegoat refugees and movements fighting for social and economic justice. Their calls for entrenched hierarchies and a return to even more authoritarian forms of nationalism are broadcast 24/7 through an dizzying array of prominent alt-right youtube pundits and well-funded right-wing propaganda outfits like Infowars and Breitbart News. When it comes to the battle of ideas… it’s safe to say that the right are kicking our ass.

We at sub.Media believe that anarchists and anti-authoritarians must build and support our own media infrastructure, in order to give our movements a fighting chance in the battle for ideas. To this end, for over a decade we have produced hundreds of videos aimed at highlighting anti-capitalist and anti-colonial resistance, providing an anarchist analysis of current events, and seeking to introduce new generations to radical concepts and movement histories that are often overlooked by the mainstream media. Our films have reached hundreds of thousands of viewers in dozens of countries around the world.

sub.Media is a small, independent media collective that depends entirely on viewer donations in order to fund our operations. Last month, we were targeted by a coordinated alt-right cyber attack, which was successful in shutting down our Paypal account and wiping out our entire monthly sustainer base. While we were anticipating this attack, and managed to put aside enough money to fund our operations for the next couple of months… the fact is that if we’re going to continue producing videos beyond that, we need your support.

We are hoping to use this opportunity to grow our collective, by bringing on one or more video editors and a dedicated social media administrator, in order to increase our output and our online audience. Once we reach our monthly sustainer goal of $5000, we plan on bringing the Stimulator, – the foul-mouthed former host of It’s the End of the World As We Know It And I Feel Fine – back out of retirement. We have plans to give him a new weekly show covering world events – with a specific focus on profiling and combatting alt-right and other fascist and right-wing populist movements. We also want to return to producing more episodes of our A is for Anarchy and 5 Minute Indigenous Resistance videos, plus an increase in our stand-alone Video Ninja reports on struggles going on around the globe.

But in order to do this, we need your support. Please consider giving a one-time donation, or preferably signing up to become a regular monthly sustainer, and help us grow sub.Media.

Categories: News

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