News

Lawmakers Demand Transparency and Restrictions on FBI Spying Powers

Truth Out - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 05:00

 krblokhin / Getty Images)Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act sunsets in three weeks. The statute's expiration could curtail the ability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to conduct powerful forms of surveillance. (Photo: krblokhin / Getty Images)

The Director of the FBI defended the continued use of a controversial spying authority that expires at the end of the year.

But, in an appearance on Capitol Hill Thursday, Christopher Wray was met with demands that the Bureau act more transparently about how it uses spying tools before any authorities are extended.

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act sunsets in three weeks. The statute's expiration could curtail the ability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to conduct powerful forms of surveillance.

"I would implore the committee and the congress not to begin rebuilding the wall that existed before 9/11," Wray told members of the House Judiciary Committee during Thursday's oversight hearing.

Constitutional concerns surround Section 702, following the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In 2013, Snowden disclosed that programs like PRISM and activities such as "upstream" collection -- both justified under Section 702 for the purpose of foreign surveillance -- result in the seizure of massive amounts of data belonging to American citizens.

Snowden further revealed that government investigators can search those databases, rife with Americans' communications, without a warrant.

That activity, known as the "backdoor search" loophole, has prompted lawmakers to call for changes to 702 that ensure US citizens aren't subject to warrantless government searches.

Reauthorization legislation unveiled by the committee in October purportedly works to create a distinction between counter-terror and domestic crime investigation. It would require agents to obtain a warrant before reading the contents of Americans' communications sucked up into FISA databases.

"We've protected the FBI's ability to access the database for the purpose of query," the committee's Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said. "But then if you're going to take it further and read the contents of that email…if you're solving a domestic crime, then I think you need to respect the civil liberties of American citizens and get a warrant."

At least one Republican lawmaker on the panel said he would withhold his support for extending Section 702 until the FBI is more open with the committee about how it uses the spying powers on American citizens.

"So you have this database that's supposed to go after the bad guys," Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said during Thursday's hearing. "But inadvertently you pick up all this information on Americans who have nothing to do with terrorists."

Poe wanted to know how many times the FBI has searched FISA databases for information belonging to US citizens. Wray alleged that he didn't have that answer.

"I hope you can provide us that information before we reauthorize FISA, otherwise I'm going to vote against FISA," Poe threatened, receiving the backing of the committee's chairman.

"This is a reasonable request by the gentleman from Texas," Rep. Goodlatte said. "It has been made in varying forms by this committee in a bipartisan way in the past, and we have not yet received the answers to those questions."

"We have a very nice SCIF where this can all be discussed in a classified setting," Goodlatte added.

The committee, however, is unlikely to receive a satisfactory answer from the FBI. Senators have long been requesting similar information about the 702 database from intelligence agencies.

Specifically, requests to know how many Americans are subject to inadvertent collection under 702 have been rebuffed. Responses to these inquiries have also been less than forthcoming.

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates claimed under oath that it would be "infeasible to generate an exact, accurate, meaningful, and responsive methodology that can count how often a US person's communications may be incidentally collected under Section 702."

Lawmakers have previously used the 2013 Snowden leaks to bring about surveillance reforms.

In 2015, the looming expiration of a separate authority -- Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act -- compelled lawmakers to enact reforms on the government's bulk telephony metadata collection program.

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Categories: News

A Dubious Arrest, a Compromised Prosecutor, a Tainted Plea: How One Murder Case Exposes the System

Truth Out - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 05:00

Smith's troubling ordeal, Alford plea included, is a road map of nearly every way the justice system breaks down -- and how easily a cascade of bad outcomes can be triggered by one small miscarriage of justice. Demetrius Smith's troubling ordeal is a road map of nearly every way the justice system breaks down -- and how easily a cascade of bad outcomes can be triggered by one small miscarriage of justice. (Photo: StefanieKaufmann)

The case of Demetrius Smith reads like a preposterous legal thriller: dubious arrests, two lying sex workers, prosecutorial fouls and a judge who backpedaled out of a deal.

It also delivers a primer on why defendants often agree to virtually inescapable plea deals for crimes they didn't commit.

ProPublica has spent the past year exploring wrongful convictions and the tools prosecutors use to avoid admitting mistakes, including an arcane deal known as an Alford plea that allows defendants to maintain their innocence while still pleading guilty. Earlier this year, we examined a dozen such cases in Baltimore.

Smith's troubling ordeal, Alford plea included, is a road map of nearly every way the justice system breaks down -- and how easily a cascade of bad outcomes can be triggered by one small miscarriage of justice. For Smith, a young black man in Baltimore, it started with a questionable collar. Nine years later he's still struggling to clear his name.  

The Arrest

Smith's saga began in the summer of 2008 in the low-income, high-crime neighborhood in southwest Baltimore where he lived. A man named Robert Long had been shot twice in the head execution-style that March. Long was a cooperating witness in a police investigation, and the killing had all the makings of a hit.

A man and a female sex worker both claimed to have seen the murder and fingered Smith. At the time, Smith was 25 and had a record of minor drug and assault offenses. When he was arrested about three months after the murder, Smith was adamant that he had nothing to do with it.

At this point, the justice system appeared to work as it should. Smith had a bail hearing before a judge who said the prosecution's evidence was nothing more than "skeletal allegations." In a rare move for a murder case, Baltimore District Judge Nathan Braverman released Smith on $350,000 bond.

"It was probably the thinnest case I'd ever seen," Braverman, now retired, said recently. Smith's alleged crimes were the most heinous of the cases before him that day, he said, but Smith was the only one granted bail -- a sign of how weak the evidence was.

But what should have been the first step in freeing Smith from a misguided murder charge instead further ensnared him. Braverman's bail decision drew sharp public criticism, and Smith was soon back in the sights of the same detective who investigated the murder.

About a month later, Detective Charles Bealefeld arrested Smith again, this time for allegedly shooting a man in the leg during a late-night robbery. Bealefeld, the brother of the then-police commissioner, wrote in his report that "word on the street" was that Smith was the assailant.

Smith lived near the victim and told police he knew the victim's parents well enough to call them by nicknames. But the victim never named Smith or described his assailant as someone he'd seen before. He said only that a black male in his 20s shot him. Later that night at the hospital, the victim identified Smith from a photo array. Bealefeld then found a second witness, another sex worker, who he said also picked Smith out of an array.

At this point, Smith was convinced Bealefeld was targeting him. He told his lawyers that the detective had admitted during the arrest that he knew Smith didn't do it. Bealefeld left the Baltimore police in 2008 amid a federal investigation into a racial incident in the department in which he was named publicly by a city councilman and local media. He declined to comment. Bealefeld is now an officer with the Annapolis Police Department.

After Smith's second arrest, the head of the police union told the local press that it proved Braverman had been reckless in releasing Smith. "It's frustrating to police officers who did the hard work to get this guy charged," the union head said, calling for the judge to be banned from presiding over bail hearings.

The Trial

Smith was jailed until his murder trial 18 months later, and unwaveringly maintained his innocence. The cases against him were remarkably similar: The prosecution relied almost exclusively on eyewitness testimony -- and in each case a key witness was a sex worker.

In January 2010, Smith went on trial for Long's murder. Prosecutor Rich Gibson, a six-year veteran of the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office, hung his case on the testimony of the man who'd first identified Smith as the killer. The witness claimed he'd not only seen the murder from a nearby pay phone, but knew why it was done. Long, he said, had stolen drugs from Smith. Gibson ran with that theory, building Smith's history of minor offenses into a story of a neighborhood kingpin slaughtering the victim to send a message about what happens to those who steal from him.

What Gibson didn't tell the jury was that the witness was an informant for the police whose assistance on multiple cases had repeatedly kept him out of trouble. The witness only told police he'd seen the murder after he was arrested on an unrelated charge, according to police files. And, court records show, the witness had a clear understanding that any breaks he got for his testimony would best be hidden from the defense. At one point, he even wrote the judge in his case directly to ask for a sentence modification for his participation in Smith's murder trial, saying "as you already know, the detective nor the state's attorney can contact me about my matter because that would be promising me something for my testimony."

Even more troubling, there was evidence that the witness wasn't at the scene of the murder at all. Baltimore has cameras panning much of the city 24 hours a day, and the murder was caught on tape. The shooter couldn't be seen, but what was clear is that no one was at the pay phone at the time of the shooting, said Michele Nethercott, the head of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore Law School. The sex worker who also said she witnessed the murder wasn't on the video either, Nethercott said. It's unclear why the video footage wasn't addressed in detail at Smith's trial. Gibson declined to comment about his actions in the case.

The jury found Smith guilty. When he was sentenced to life plus 18 years, Smith told the judge, "They know I didn't do this."

That conviction did more than send Smith to prison. It pushed him into choices he never would have made.

The Plea

A year after his murder trial in February 2011, Gibson offered Smith a plea deal on the still pending charges for the shooting. Smith, proclaiming his innocence, reluctantly agreed. The system had failed him so badly once, he felt like he was "in a no-win situation," Smith told the court.

The deal Smith made is known an as Alford plea. It allows a defendant to say for the record that he's innocent of the crime but believes the state has enough evidence to convict him. Still, Smith railed against a central piece of Gibson's evidence -- that the victim had identified Smith from a photo array. That didn't make any sense, Smith told the judge, since the victim "was my neighbor. He didn't say 'my neighbor did it.' He didn't say, 'Well that guy across the street did it.'"

Under the plea, Smith would serve 10 years concurrently with his life sentence. But Smith was worried about what would happen when he was exonerated, which Smith fervently believed would happen eventually. If he was no longer serving a life sentence, he didn't want to be stuck serving the 10 years for another crime he didn't commit. So, he wanted his plea deal to have an escape hatch: He must be allowed the chance to get out of the 10-year sentence if he was found innocent of the murder.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams called the deal "strange," but agreed that under those circumstances Smith could come back to his courtroom to revisit the plea. Gibson also agreed, according to a transcript, and that unlike most plea deals he would allow Williams full discretion.

The agreement was also laid out the next day by Smith's public defender in a court filing. It said that although Williams made no promises about what his ruling would be, the judge would nevertheless be the one to "determine whether to change the sentence" and "the assistant state's attorney agreed not to oppose the judge's ruling."

"I'm copping out to something I didn't do," Smith said at the hearing. "I just want to get it over with."

The Exoneration

Astonishingly, mere months later in the spring of 2011, Smith's stubborn faith seemed validated.

During a related investigation, the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland had turned up Long's real killer and informed Baltimore prosecutors that they had the wrong man. Federal agents quickly unraveled the case against Smith. It wasn't about drugs, as Gibson had argued. Instead, the victim, Long, had been killed in a murder-for-hire plot to keep him from testifying about crimes committed by his boss. Long had also specifically warned the Baltimore authorities not to include his lawyer in a meeting about cooperating because the lawyer worked for his boss. But they did it anyway. Six days after police searched his boss' home based on Long's information, Long was dead.

At Smith's murder trial, however, Detective Steve Hohman had testified that there was no reason to investigate Long's boss. He left out that police had done several interviews with Long's associates that pointed to the boss as a suspect, Long's family had told them that the boss threatened to kill Long days before his death, and the police had requested the boss' phone records. But that information wasn't turned over to Smith's defense, a violation of Smith's constitutional rights. Gibson told the jury that "no stone was left unturned."

Federal agents also discovered that the sex worker who'd identified Smith had been six miles away receiving methadone treatment around the time of the murder. She recanted her statement, telling federal investigators that Hohman had yelled, banged the table and generally pressured her into her testimony. (By this time, the state's other key witness, who supposedly saw Smith from a pay phone, was dead.)

Hohman has since been promoted, and the Baltimore Police Department said it stands by its investigation.

Gibson and the state's attorney's office continued to insist to Smith's lawyers that Smith had been justly prosecuted, according to Smith's public defender and Nethercott, the innocence lawyer who later took up Smith's case.

A year and a half went by while Smith remained locked up, serving a life sentence for a murder someone else had committed. Under pressure from federal prosecutors, the state finally and quietly dropped the case against Smith in August 2012.

"What was driving this case really was the U.S. attorney," Nethercott said recently. The federal government was about to indict and prosecute another person "while Demetrius was sitting there serving life on a theory that was completely different."

Rod Rosenstein, the top federal prosecutor in Maryland at the time and now the deputy attorney general of the United States, announced that the federal case had "resulted in the exoneration of an innocent man and the conviction of the real killer."

No such declaration came from Baltimore prosecutors.

"What they were not willing to do," Nethercott said, "was to say: 'We clearly made a mistake.'"

Their error didn't just damage Smith. Braverman, the judge who'd scoffed at the prosecution's case, had been shortlisted to move up to the circuit court at the time of the bail hearing, according to The Baltimore Sun, but he wasn't selected. After Smith's case, the local press closely covered Braverman's subsequent bail decisions. There was no follow-up acknowledgement from the police or others that his instincts had been right about Smith.

And even though Smith was cleared of Long's murder, he was still in maximum security prison in Hagerstown, Maryland, serving his 10-year sentence for the robbery shooting.

The Half Measure

In May 2013, as promised, Smith went back before the judge to revisit the terms of that deal. By this time, he'd been in prison for nearly five years.

The case was now being handled by Tony Gioia, then head of the state's attorney's conviction integrity unit. Gioia made no mention of Smith's innocence on the murder charge, telling the judge that the prosecution had "moved to vacate the murder conviction for a Brady violation" by the original prosecutor, Gibson. Brady refers to the 1963 Supreme Court ruling that said prosecutors must turn over evidence of innocence to the defense for a trial to be fair.

Gioia said he'd reviewed the police documents about the shooting, and had "some issues about the facts." He agreed to modify Smith's sentence to time served and release him immediately on three years' probation. Smith was free.

But on paper he was still a convicted felon for the shooting, limiting his ability to get a lease and a job -- he had three offers revoked after a background check. Smith wanted a clean record and to be completely free of the system that had now eaten up nearly a decade of his life.

In the four years since his release, damning new evidence had emerged that echoed the murder case. The sex worker recanted her statement implicating Smith and said she'd been coerced into identifying Smith by Bealefeld, the detective who investigated both of Smith's cases.

The night of the shooting, the sex worker had told police she heard gunshots and saw a man she'd been with earlier flee the scene. Bealefeld, she said, showed her an array of photos and repeatedly pointed to a picture of Smith, saying "That's him, isn't it?" When she continually denied that Smith was the man she saw, Bealefeld threatened to arrest her.

"I was afraid I'd be locked up, and so I finally signed the array as he had directed me," she said in an affidavit in June 2013.

But the new evidence had come too late. Maryland gives defendants a special path to challenge their conviction with new evidence of innocence, but those who take plea deals are barred. Smith's Alford plea meant he couldn't get the conviction vacated.

He had one last option: Ask Judge Williams to modify his plea deal again.

The Final Attempt

With the help of new pro bono lawyers, Smith filed a motion to change his sentence for the shooting from "time-served" to "probation before judgement," which means a judge withholds finding a defendant guilty so long as the defendant successfully completes a period of probation. Since Smith had finished his three years of probation, the change would essentially wipe the conviction off his record.

On July 28, Smith walked back into Williams' courtroom in a light blue blazer with hope that the judge would finally end his ordeal.

When Smith's case was called, a familiar face stood up for the prosecution. Gibson, the original prosecutor, was back and he told the judge he opposed any changes.

"What's your basis for saying 'no'?" Williams asked him. "You acknowledge" that on the murder charge "he was exonerated; is that correct?"

"The State acknowledges," Gibson responded, "that -- that after the case was tried, and the defendant was convicted of murder, and after the -- the Court of Appeals affirmed that conviction, my office, after discussions with federal authorities, chose to vacate that conviction to allow the federal prosecution to go forward the way they envisioned it."

Williams looked taken aback. "So, you're stating in open court that your office isn't saying that he wasn't guilty. You just did it for other reasons?"

Gibson offered only a vague reply, and Williams kept pressing him, at one point interjecting with exasperation that "it's a simple question."

In all, Gibson evaded the question five times before Williams abruptly stopped and ruled that Smith's original guilty plea was a binding plea -- meaning that the only way it could be changed was with the support of the prosecutor.

That contradicted how both the judge and the prosecutor had defined the plea six and a half years earlier. At the time in 2011, Gibson said that the terms of the deal meant Smith could "come back and put it before the judge and the judge can do whatever he's going to do with it."

And Williams had specifically noted the plea meant that the prosecution was "giving up the right to say to this court, 'Judge, you cannot change it.' He now has acknowledged that. ... It will be up to me to make a decision."

But now, for reasons he didn't explain, Williams said, "I have not the authority ... despite what I would, what I may or may not want to do it's irrelevant."

"Motion is denied."

Smith's lawyer, Adam Braskich, jumped up to argue that was incorrect, but the judge cut him off with a curt "thank you."

In the hallway outside the court, Smith shook his head, not entirely surprised. His gold teeth flashed through a smile. "It is what it is," he said. "You keep fighting."

Braskich and Smith's other lawyer, Barry Pollack, thought it was clear the judge had the legal authority to change Smith's sentence.

"After being wrongfully convicted of murder and then convicted for an assault he didn't commit, Demetrius served five years in prison," Pollack said. "He should not also be saddled with a felony conviction. We didn't think a fresh start was too much to ask, and we're disappointed that Demetrius still can't put this behind him."

Williams declined to comment on his ruling.

The next possible step is to apply for a rare pardon from the governor.

Like Gibson -- who's running for state's attorney one jurisdiction over in Howard County, Maryland -- the current Baltimore City state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, won't say whether her office believes Smith is innocent of the murder, or the shooting. Spokeswoman Melba Sanders provided a short, written statement that said the office couldn't comment on the review process that led the prior administration to vacate Smith's murder conviction, but "we respect their decision."

If any case should cause prosecutors to concede mistakes, Nethercott said, it's Smith's. "What's so striking about Demetrius' case is there are very few times when you come in with an innocence claim that's supported, endorsed and proven by the Unites States government," she said. "If that doesn't move people, it's hard to see what would."

Categories: News

How to Help My Daughter Face Climate Change With an Open Heart

Truth Out - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 05:00

What happens to a child's psyche as they gradually absorb the knowledge that our planet is warming at a terrifying rate and to an unimaginably dangerous degree, then quietly observe the adults in their life, particularly those most responsible for caring for and protecting them, doing the very things that are causing the emergency?

 RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)A firefighter battles a wildfire as it burns along a hillside near homes in Santa Paula, California, on December 5, 2017. (Photo: RINGO CHIU / AFP / Getty Images)

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You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

~Kahlil Gibran

When the wildfires were still raging in California, my 12-year-old daughter and I rode Amtrak north from Oakland to Sacramento. Nearing Berkeley, we caught our first glimpse of the gray-brown wall of smoke issuing in from Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Butte, and Solano counties. After riding 10 or so miles further on, the illusion of the wall suddenly dissipated, and we found ourselves speeding along in a fog of fine ash, our train blanketed in its opaque haze.

Gazing into the smoke, my daughter seated beside me, I considered the stark difference our awareness of global warming created between my childhood and hers. And I felt a deep anxiety stir in my belly.

What happens to a child's psyche, I asked myself, as she gradually absorbs the knowledge that our planet is warming at a terrifying rate and to an unimaginably dangerous degree, then quietly observes the adults in her life, particularly those most responsible for caring for and protecting her, doing the very things that are causing the emergency? What happens as she observes the mundane spectrum of everyday life in the United States amid climate chaos: as dad pulls the car up to the pump, as mom comes home from the airport after a business trip, as the family sits down to another meat and factory farm-based dinner, iPhones at the ready and the thermostat cranked to 70?

I turned my gaze from the smoke and looked again at the book in my lap, Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, by climate scientist Peter Kalmus. The page I had been reading would eventually lead to here: "Few people respond to facts… While intellect certainly plays a role, it's a rather small one. Our dire ecological crisis calls us to go deeper."

***

In his famous meditation on children, Kahlil Gibran likens parents to the bows of the divine archer, from which children, like arrows, are sent forth into the mystery of their own souls and futures. The beloved bow, Gibran attests, sends the arrow swift and far, by bending to the archer's strength, while at the same time remaining stable. Such flexible stability is what I long to achieve as a parent -- a certain rootedness and strength of purpose, mediated by gentleness. It's what I believe I need if I'm going to accompany my daughter as she learns to face the coming storms -- and fires -- with her eyes and heart open.

So it is that I'm gravitating toward the solace and instruction of other dads these days, the more humble and down-to-earth the better. Kalmus, father of two young sons, is one such dad.

"At first, we didn't know what we were doing. It was reasonable for us to start burning fossil fuels," Kalmus says early on in Being the Change. "However, now we do know what we're doing."

It's an exquisitely sane point of departure for the author's first book, which reads as an openhearted letter to anyone deeply concerned about global warming and at all cognizant of how quickly the climate change clock is ticking. Being the Change details Kalmus' process of bringing his daily life into alignment with his conscience -- a process that carries some very welcome side effects: namely, a carbon footprint weighing in at one-tenth the US average, greater happiness, and deepened connections with loved ones and life itself.

As a climate expert utterly in the know about humanity's devastating impact on the health of the biosphere (see Chapter 3), and with as clear a picture as can be had about where our civilization's carbon addiction is leading (see Chapter 4), Kalmus eventually proves no match for the cognitive dissonance he experiences because of his own outsized carbon footprint. His chosen response is refreshingly straightforward: "If fossil fuels cause global warming, and I don't want global warming," he writes, "then I should reduce my fossil fuel use."

Although there's zero evidence that Gandhi ever wrote or uttered the most popular phrase attributed to him -- "Be the change you wish to see in the world" -- the sentiment is distinctly Gandhian. Finding congruence between our deepest convictions and our outward behavior, according to this adage, is the true measure of our genuine happiness, and of our contribution to the world. It's an old and simple idea: When it comes to social change, how we live our lives is of paramount importance. In India, Gandhi captured the heart of a massive social movement with his own rendering of this basic philosophy. "Nobility of soul," he summarized in a letter to his cousin, "consists in realizing that you are yourself India. In your emancipation is the emancipation of India. All else is make believe."

What makes Being the Change important is not Kalmus' restatement of this age-old tenet, but his plainspoken description of putting it into concrete practice. He offers thorough, humbly stated guidance on establishing new daily practices which, step by step, can break a person free from the carbon-heavy status quo. What's more, through his inspiring and often funny anecdotes about his homespun experiments aimed at paring down -- things like bicycling , growing food, meditating, embracing a vegetarian diet, and renouncing air travel -- Kalmus illustrates that overcoming our addiction to fossil fuels isn't a path of puritanical self-mortification. Rather, low-energy living (low-energy being Kalmus' corrective for green, because of its insidious consumerist implications) can be a deeply satisfying adventure, calling for equal parts creativity and fun.

Boiled down, the path Kalmus advocates is based on two simple and, if we're open to them, life-changing premises.

The first is that burning fossil fuel causes harm. According to Kalmus, this harm will last for around 100,000 years -- 10 million years if we count reduced biodiversity (and why shouldn't we?). The reason he has taken what to many people looks like radical steps to avoid burning fossil fuel is that he doesn't like causing harm. This connection is obvious intellectually, but most people, and society, have not taken this in deeply enough to change their actions to any significant degree. Kalmus, the dad, however, feels this connection in his gut. "Burning fossil fuels should be unacceptable socially," he says, "the way physical assault is unacceptable. The harm it does is less immediate, but just as real." Who could argue that future generations -- likely our own children and grandchildren -- as they suffer the consequences of our negligence, will see this as plainly as we see the immorality of chattel slavery today.

The second basic premise of Being the Change is that burning less fossil fuel makes for a happier life. Despite every message to the contrary trumpeted by our consumption-driven society, this appears to be the normal experience of those following similar paths, not the exception.

On these two premises rests a path of radical personal transformation with deep implications for the collective. "Using less energy at the global scale would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and serve as a bridge to a future without fossil fuels," Kalmus says. "Using less energy in our individual lives," he further (and to my mind most importantly) asserts, "would equip us with the mindset, skills, and the systems we'll need in this post-fossil-fuel world."

***

Returning my gaze to the smoke, it occurred to me: As soon as the wildfires ran their deadly course, clean up, then construction, would immediately follow. The set would be quickly and efficiently reconstructed according to the same basic blueprint used before. And the reconstruction would undoubtedly be touted as evidence of inspiring community-resiliency, and probably of a certain American spirit, rugged and purportedly unique to us.

It occurred to me also, holding Being the Change in my hands on that smoke-immersed train with my beloved child beside me, that Peter Kalmus has provided us with a different blueprint, and he's shown through his own experimentation that we have the capacity to choose it, and to use it. On the cusp of climate catastrophe, we are neither choiceless nor powerless.

At bottom, I read Being the Change as the testament of a father trying to do right by his kids -- a testament that leaves me with a much different set of questions about the psychic wellness of our children: In the face of the climate emergency, what would it do to their psyches to see us, their parents and other adult caregivers, pouring our hearts into the work of personal and societal transformation, on behalf of people we will never meet? On behalf of all other living beings, the rivers and trees and soil? What if our children saw us respond to this crisis with maturity, sanity, and integrity? With the flexible stability of Gibran's bow? What would it do to them, for them, if we came into resonance with our own souls?

Categories: News

Riverside, CA: Recognizing and Understanding White Supremacist Symbols & Organizations

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 23:10

The post Riverside, CA: Recognizing and Understanding White Supremacist Symbols & Organizations appeared first on It's Going Down.

When: December 15th @6:30PM
Where: Quaker Center, 4061 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

This informational seminar is designed to provide a knowledge base of the modern white supremacist movement in an attempt to empower the community of Riverside. If you are reading this, odds are you have a good sense when it comes to identifying problematic individuals on the street.

So what’s the point of inviting anti-fascists to a basic course in identifying fascism? Given the calls by anarchist media outlets such as Crimethinc, Submedia, and of course IGD, to expand our base and our movement, we felt it appropriate to share our knowledge and experience with folks who are not politicized. What we mean is, people who don’t have the privilege in our capitalist society to spend the time that we do researching and networking. When the calls for expansion went out we took that as a call not to expand to other revolutionaries, but to include those who have never been involved in anti-fascism or revolutionary struggle.

A piece of history tells us that institutions of power shake in their boots when we cross the street to empower people who may not be like us. What we’re referring to is the meeting between the Black Panthers and the Young Patriot Organization which resulted in the Rainbow Coalition. Shortly after those meetings, Fred Hampton was executed by the state. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t intend to invite neo-fascists to the table.

What we are describing is a plan to create autonomy and sustainability within non radical communities. This will not be possible unless we have something to offer the community. This is where our seminar fits in. Providing folks with the information on the white supremacist movement is a great first step, but we must facilitate discussion and organization in a way that is disruptive to the institution of racism.

We already have non politicized community members who are willing to listen, what we need is a counterbalance of anti-fascists and anti-racists who are willing to engage the community in order to pull them into the wider framework of anti-authoritarianism and anti-capitalism. Even if we are not successful in bringing the community into revolutionary struggle, we will have given them priceless tools that they can use every day to identify and challenge white supremacy in the street.

We will be providing snacks and refreshments for attendees free of charge, as well as relevant informational literature.

Categories: News

Announcing: North Bay Area RAM Chapter

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:51

The post Announcing: North Bay Area RAM Chapter appeared first on It's Going Down.

Responding to the call out for revolutionary anarchist action, underground railroads, and the destruction of the amerikkkan plantation, we are proud to announce the formation of a North Bay Area RAM Chapter.

Now more than ever, it is urgent to destroy the prison industrial complex, burn down the borders, and fight this patriarchal white supremacist system.

We intend to work along with our communities, radical and otherwise, to build infrastructure sustained without the state, to engage in self-defense and mutual aid, as well as enhance these cities and facilitate co-creative and transformative spaces.

Contact: northbayarearam@protonmail.com

About RAM

The Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement is a political movement dedicated to freeing people from bondage and building resistance in the United States. We situate our political movement in the context of the abolitionist struggle against slavery and continue in the tradition, from Nat Turner to the Black Liberation Movement. We believe the Civil War was never resolved and the system of slavery transitioned into the prison industrial complex. Our struggle today must begin from this starting point. Lastly, as revolutionary anarchists, the abolitionist struggle must be extended to the state and capitalism, the perpetrators of oppression. The revolutionary movement in the US today is at a cross roads, as fascist movements are expanding, and the state becomes increasingly authoritarian. The Rojava Revolution, in northern Syria, provides us with a model for revolution today with its foundation in communal and council based political organization and militant defense.

https://revolutionaryabolition.org/

fb: @revolutionaryabolitionistmovement

twitter: @RevAbolitionist

Categories: News

Otherworlds Review #4: Snakes

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:21

The post Otherworlds Review #4: Snakes appeared first on It's Going Down.

Sun in Sagittarius, Full Moon in Gemini  Issue 4, December 2017

“The avenger that completes the task of liberation in the name of generations of the downtrodden. This conviction, which had a brief resurgence in the Spartacus League, has always been objectionable to Social Democrats. Within three decades they managed to erase the name of Blanqui almost entirely, though at the distant thunder of that name the preceding century had quaked.” – Benjamin, On the Concept of History

“Let us finally conclude the immanence of the smallest scraps of matter. Although their lifespan is of one second, their rebirth is boundless. The infinity of time & space is not the exclusive privilege of the universe as whole. It also belongs to every form of matter, down to the infusoria and grains of sand… Therefore every one of us has lived, lives, and shall live endlessly under the form of billions of alter egos… The stellar systems carry us along within their immortality. Being the only organization of matter, they possess its fixity and its mobility all at once. Each of them is but a strike of lightning, but such strikes illuminate space eternally.” – Blanqui, Eternity by the Stars

On the 17th of November, when the new moon met the sun in Scorpio – the sign of desire and careful attack – rebels in Olympia, WA began a blockade of the railroad leading to and from the dreadful port of Olympia. This auspicious night for new beginnings also marked a year since the eviction of a blockade of the same line; a blockade erected in solidarity with the struggle of indigenous water protectors and their accomplices against the DAPL pipeline – the Black Snake.

In spiritism, and other necromantic traditions, it is held that it takes a certain amount of time after death before a spirit can fully takes its place among the ancestors. In many traditions, one must wait a year before calling on an individual spirit, as an ancestor, for strength and guidance. It’s thought that it takes that much time for the spirit to work through the pain and confusion of their own death, to adjust to the otherworlds and to their new existence in them. When a year has passed, and the departed has joined its ancestral house (or wherever other collective or place it is joining), then and only then, can we begin to speak of conjuration.

Yes, the world is full of wandering and lost spirits, those stuck and incapable of moving on. And yes, anyone with a ouija board or tarot cards can get one of those spirits on the line, but to conjure real otherwordly strength means to act in partnership with and to call forth the spirits of a given tradition who form an ancestral line onto themselves. When the state ended last year’s blockade, sent it to the otherworlds, they unknowingly set it on the path that all spirits walk: the labyrinthine meander of the worlds beyond, of the chthonic.

The golden tablets buried with the Orphic initiates tell us that in the underworld we are given the choice to drink from the waters of forgetting or the waters of memory. Those who’ve seen the mysteries know to resist the temptation of forgetting and to ask for the cool waters flowing from the Lake of Memory. When the dis-membered spirit re-members and is re-membered, they gain the strength to join the other of their lineage. Last year’s blockade drank the waters of memory and in doing so joined the collective of spirits hereafter referred to as ‘the Commune.’

With initiation comes the powers, goetic and mantic, to invoke and truly conjure the Commune. The Commune, a composite being – one and many wolves – comes when called by those who know the way to call it forth. That so many “call” to each other, without ever calling the spirits, explains why their so-called communes look more like everyday life than its interruption. When the spirits who compose the Commune (and the spirit of the Commune itself) assert themselves, they make their presence unmistakably known. Time moves differently, old divisions fall away, new roads open, there is an immanence to spirit and potential. Then, and only then, can a moment of space-time be named the Commune. That presence requires a break, a fissure, a doorway between this world and the others. To build the Commune one must open the door and call the spirits through it. To do one without the other (the break and the remembrance) risks fascism and worse.

The anarchists, indigenous activists, punks, queers and other communards in Olympia proved their adeptness in summoning the Commune to full force. For twelve days the spirits flooded to the site of interruption and made it spread. There was dancing, streetfighting, a punk show, coyotes, workshops and discussions, plant medicine, prayer, a piano on the tracks. For twelve days now-time was given material space. For twelve days the doors stood wide open.

Yes, The police destroyed the Olympia Commune. They tore its encampment apart, scattered its children, severed its spirit from this world, dis-membered it. But we arm ourselves with Memory – anamnesis, not-forgetting. We sing the mourning songs of the goetes and in our singing send the Commune on its way, strengthen it for its journey to the waters of memory and forgetting, where it too will make its choice. Our remembering it can only help it to remember as well. It too, if we all do our part, will find its way to the weblike assemblage of ancestral communes, the Commune itself. And when the moment is right, those who know its name can call it back to the Earth.

Over the Oakland Commune hung a banner –  Paris 1871, Oakland 2011 – to which we joyously now add Olympia 2017. We mourn the commune, tend to the void it has left in the hearts of those who knew it, but we know it shall return. Just as the wine from the grapes grown on Montmarte hill is pressed and opened and drank as the blood of the communards; as a sacrament of the Commune – the interruption in space-time – which died there with them. We too drink the wine, the waters of memory, and vow to live in the time-between-Communes in ways which anticipate the return.

The Olympia Commune remembered other spirits as well, other stories. It remembered the encampments at Standing Rock which in turn remembered the Lakota prophecy of the terrible Black Snake which would come bearing destruction. The awareness of this prophecy was a weapon in the hands of those who were called to wield it.

Snakes, especially where they involve themselves in matters of apocalypse and prophecy, are found in mythologies and eschatologies the world over. Norse lore tells that when the serpent wrapped around the world releases its grasp on its own tail, it will do so in order to fight the Gods at Ragnarok. But the Orphics also knew that a snake was also there at the beginning, wrapped around the world egg, waiting for the hermaphroditic god Phanes – the light bringer; all genders and species manifest together – to crack its shell wide open with its dancing and thereby bringing the cosmos into existence. Before he could build his oraclular temple at Delphi, Apollon first had to slay the serpent which already held court at that gate to the otherworlds. That his prophetesses thereafter took the name pythia – pythoness – bears this memory. The transgendered shaman Tiresias and the animistic prophet Melampous slew and saved snakes respectively and each gained the true sight by way of their encounters. Snakes unnerve us because of their ambivalence and alienness, their force of interruption. And yet they always come bearing the gift of knowledge. Lucifer too was a light bringer who offered knowledge as an apple from the Tree.

The Black Snake has arrived as the interruption of the sacred waters and the ways of life which depend on them. It arrives as apocalypse and poison and empire. But empire too can be interrupted. It was, after all, a nocturnal vision of a snake coiled around Spartacus’ face which revealed to his wife, a prophetess subject to the Dionysiac frenzy, that he would catalyze the largest slave revolt the Roman Empire had ever seen. They led a years long interruption of that Empire’s hold over hundreds of thousands of lives, and they did so moved by the illumination of that vision. We live under the reign of the true descendant of that Empire and thus share common cause with the spirits who fought to destroy it. Such remembrance requires knowledge: the knowledge to open the door and to call the spirits through it.

Some within the Olympia Commune responded to the tired call for demands by issuing 20 of them:

1.  make the port a beach again
2.  blow up the sun
3.  the complete destruction of time itself
4.  a brick for every window
5.  a wrecking ball
6.  that, while science still exists, one of us be endowed with an Adamantium laced skeleton
7.  a swift and brutal end to the exploitation commonly referred to as “science”
8.  the destruction of all dams, and the return of the salmon
9.  no motor boats ever again
10.  that fascists and politicians spontaneously combust
11.  compost the police
12.  release of all prisoners and the Total Destruction of prison, in all of its forms
13.  cessation of all space exploration
14.  the return of the Tasmanian wolf, the aurochs, the dodo bird, the coral reefs, and all other creatures and habitats that have ceased to be
15.  the wilderness
16.  total freedom
17.
18.  the liquidation of Pacific Union’s assets, to be equally distributed among all children
19.  mandatory clown uniforms for all Olympia parking employees
20.  that steve hall fight a bear

From the very first they emphasize their commitment to memory but we call your attention, dear reader, to the seventeenth.

17. [              ]

This is the door, situated there between freedom and liquidation, thrown open by the Olympia communards. The door is the refusal to play the game of the state’s discourse; the refusal to forget its betrayals and false promises. May we always remember that door that we may call it to presence again. Let us commit its passphrases to memory that we may recall them when we meet again.

Nothing is over; everything continues.

* * *

17.

“Every second was the narrow gate, through which the Messiah could enter.” The anarchists of the Golden Age would have understood—they do understand, for our ancestors are always with us—when we speak of devotion. In the Roman battlefield ritual of devotio, a general promised himself and all of the enemy legions to the divine dead and the earth in exchange for victory. A self-sacrifice, but not a christian one: no forgiveness for foes here, no renunciation of the earth. But the Roman devotio served the State, ours seeks to ruin it. Nor is the Revolution to be forever in the future, to be earned through wretched asceticism, the protestant-capitalist work ethic, and crawling progress.

“Liquidating the lie of the transitional period means making the revolt itself a different way of conceiving relations.” When we speak of devotion, we speak of the insurrectionary imminence and immanence of our gods, their fiery and shining presence in our lives, the bolt of lightning that consumed Semele when she asked to see Zeus in his true form, the torches of the Battle Crow blazing from the skull of Cú Chulainn. We speak of “the Idea,” of “the faith,” of Anarchy! Our incendiary goddess, for whom Elia Corti and so many others gave their lives. For it is our lives that we offer, not our deaths. We speak of the hearth fires around which we gather, around which we have always gathered, which have kept the continuity of our communities and our struggles alive even in the bleakest of times. We fight for that which we are already a part of, even—especially—when the war demands negation. At the same time, we fight for the unknown—that is, for our relationship to it, for that which is familiar only through déjà vu. How can the Gods meet us face to face till we have faces?

From the hearth fires of devotion, the torches of liberatory fanaticism are kindled. In a world that has seen so much horror perpetrated by religious and rationalist authoritarians alike, we recognize the danger of this language, but we do not shy from embracing it. Our lineages, our kin: the Boxers, the Ghost Dancers, Carlota Lukumi and the rebels of Triunvirato, the Vouduisants at Bois Caïman, the Yellow Turbans, the black-clad firebrand-throwing women of the Isle of Mona, the maenads—those Dionysian fanatics of old. All those who rejected the armor of Leviathan and sought protection from the spirits through dance, through possession. Fanatic: from Latin fanum, “temple, shrine, consecrated place” – spoken in an ecstatic state; spoken while possessed by spirit. We who have consecrated ourselves as sacer are above all man-made law, partaking only in the sovereignty of the Otherworlds. We are outlaws, wargs, wolves—one and many. We are the affinity group, the gang, the pack. Our informal organizations exist unto themselves, but in relation to civilized society, we are always a threat. And our forms of organization are mirrored in the spirit world, our accomplices are found in all the realms. Wolves on the surface of the earth, snakes descending into the subterranean depths and back again, corvids in the heavens. Always shapeshifting, always mediating between life and death, always accompanied by the howling and hissing multitudes of our collective ancestors.

* * *

“Our world is going through a rather peculiar moment of dread and confusion – one for which there does not seem to be a ‘proper name’ yet. And yet naming our time is part of what is at stake. In this regard one thing at least is clear – ours is a time of planetary entanglement. But the planetarity of our predicament is not all there is. As it happens, times of planetary entanglement are propitious for all kinds of accelerations or escalations. They are propitious for the renewed production of things, forms and imaginaries both baroque, grotesque and dystopian if only because such forms/things/and imaginaries generally strive to generate their own actuality through sheer excess and stupefaction.” Achilles Mbembe, January 2017

“The duality of our relationship with reality can also carry us towards armed struggle, especially after so many years of disorientation. We want to see practical results, we think it’s possible to go beyond the abstraction of round-table politics, we want to see some concrete action. The urge to construct forms of action for ourselves is sometimes very strong, since we’ve had to put up with so many years of empty speeches. And imagination? It helps us to bear the clash with reality; in this case it helps us to avoid seeing what we don’t want to see. Certainly it slips into and supports fanaticism. But men become fanatical under the yoke of their ideological schemas while we, more often than not, are driven by the violence of our dreams.” Anonymous, Italy, 1991“The virtual and the actual together make up two mutually exclusive sides of the real. The actual is a given states of affairs that is populated by bodies. The virtual is a ‘pure past’ of incorporeal events and singularities that have never been present, which have ‘the capacity to bring about x, without (in being actualized) ever coming to coincide or identify itself with x, or to be depleted and exhausted in x’ while ‘without being or resembling an actual x.’ In this sense, the virtual includes all potential worlds, everything that inhabits them, all of their really-existing potentials, and their every potential to differ that coexists with the actual.” Deleuze, Difference and Repetition

Twin existences play out more openly when the twins of Gemini find their full moon in the sky of December. Under and over, within and without. There is a blend of the known, unknown, familiar and strange, blessed and cursed. Cold gets colder. The earth spun this way before and the body starts to know this air. The communal web of consciousness takes the breath. The philosophical inheritance of Sagittarius howls.

One labyrinth of solitude might reveal that “the predominance of the closed over the open manifests itself not only as impassivity and distrust, irony and suspicion, but also as love of Form.”

EVOCATION: Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: the first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena, since conditions were most likely   not   yet   favorable   for   a   widespread   flowering   to   occur.

One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet – if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it. Without our fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless. Palpable tenets of gaseous sentience, sense perceptions, dial into the spaceless space found at the Olympia Commune, at the Ghost Ship, at the walls of the prison. The spaces are bridges to cross. The spaceless is the “new quality [that] emerges in a leap as the slow accumulation of quantitative changes, long resisted by a stable system, finally forces it rapidly from one state into another.” The doors opened by every act of rebellion, by every spirit of refusal, by the ancestors of freedom are our passages through protected thresholds.

Blessings to Feral Pines and all who passed at Ghost Ship!
Blessings to Robîn Agiri: Şehîd Namirin!
Santiago Maldonade Presente!

Categories: News

Defector says thousands of ISIS fighters were given safe passage from Raqqa in secret U.S.-approved deal

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 21:35

Defector says thousands of ISIS fighters were given safe passage from Raqqa in secret U.S.-approved deal | 07 Dec 2017 | A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State has recanted his account of the city's fall, saying thousands of ISIS fighters - many thousands more than first reported - left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal. Talal Silo, a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces, said the SDF arranged to bus all remaining Islamic State militants I-CIA-SIS terrorists out of Raqqa even though it said at the time it was battling diehard foreign jihadists in the city. U.S. officials described Silo's comments as "false and contrived" [LOL] but a security official in Turkey, where Silo defected three weeks ago, gave a similar account of Islamic State's defeat in its Syrian stronghold. Silo was the SDF spokesman and one of the officials who told the media in mid-October - when the deal was reached - that fewer than 300 fighters left Raqqa with their families while others would continue to fight.

Categories: News

Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 19:18
Link: Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

December 5, 2017 – This afternoon, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union against Donald Trump and Michael Mulvaney. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit challenges President Trump’s recent, illegal takeover of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in which he installed his at-will White House employee, Michael Mulvaney, to be Acting Director of the CFPB. The CFPB protects millions of Americans from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in the financial marketplace. Mr. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a “sad, sick joke.”

“We support the CFPB as a protector of our low income members’ financial rights, and fear that the appointment of an Acting Director beholden to the White House could result in upheaval and ultimate dissolution of this critical agency,” said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union. “Having experienced the devastation that the 2008 mortgage crisis wreaked on our low income members, we need the CFPB to protect communities targeted by financial predators.”

“This is a naked, illegal power grab by Donald Trump to destroy an agency that helps and protects millions of ordinary Americans,” said Ilann M. Maazel, a partner at ECBA, and lead counsel for the Credit Union. “The law requires Leandra English to be CFPB’s Acting Director.”

“President Trump’s attempt to install a White House official as the acting head of what is supposed to be an independent agency is deeply disturbing and should concern everyone,” said Debra Greenberger, a partner at ECBA, and counsel for the Credit Union.

The Credit Union is a not-for-profit, federally-regulated financial cooperative owned by its approximately 8,500 members and dedicated to providing high-quality financial services and community development investments in low income, immigrant and other underserved communities.

Download Press Release

See Federal Complaint

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Imagining a Great Lakes Commons Currency

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 17:27
Link: Imagining a Great Lakes Commons Currency

When calculating the likelihood of the current economic system protecting our bond with clean, accessible, and life-giving water, the situation seems impossible.

There is no money to be made protecting water as the source of life. Financing Great Lakes care today comes through either altruistic charity or legislated compensation. Water restoration costs are a fractional expense for a pollution-based economic system. Advocating for a friendlier version of the current system denies its core impulses and interests. Let’s be honest -- degrading the living earth makes obscene amounts of money and defines our current story about “progress”.

How can our collective and radical imaginations connect our desire for connecting money’s value with our values?

Read the rest at Great Lakes Commons

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Rome, Italy: Explosive Attack Against a Carabinieri Police Station in San Giovanni by Santiago Maldonado Cell FAI-FRI

Anarchist News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:36

via insurrection news

In times of social peace and compliance there is no better reply than action. A stimulus, a continuity and a jolt to wake up those who sleep.

Acting on one’s own initiative breaks the compliance and inaction and ignites those whose blood boils.

The anarchic praxis of attack must be the basic stimulus of anarchy, otherwise it is a walking dead. Action is necessary to make us alive in the ways we consider opportune, removed from every program, hierarchical and vertical structure. Many revolutionary practices are part of an anarchism in its bowels.

We have decided to take our lives into our own hands by breaking the oppressive peace that surrounds us.

On the night of the 6th to the 7th of December we placed a steel thermos containing 1.6kg of explosives outside the carabinieri barracks in the San Giovanni district in Rome.

Our attentions have turned to the main guardians of the deadly order of capitalism: the police. Without them, the privileges, the arrogance and the wealth accumulated by the owners would be nothing. Because they have always had the function of repressing, jailing, deporting, torturing and killing those who by choice or necessity find themselves outside their law.

The fight against the state is not simple and cannot be reduced to magic formulas. But the objectives are there and you cannot always make theories and talk of convenience. Every individual free by desire and necessity puts theory into action, here and now. There is no delegation in the struggle for freedom.

What would have been in these years if an incendiary minority had not picked up the torch of anarchy? If these comrades had waited for better times? The president of the European Commission whose Christmas was ruined knows something about this. He knows something about the vampire of Equitalia and was mutilated by one of its claws.* The sorcerer of Ansaldo Nuclear must have felt the heat from the torch of anarchy in his legs.**

Today we take the torch of anarchy, tomorrow it will be somebody else. As long as you do not turn it off!

Who wants to watch will continue to watch. Who wants to justify politically not acting will continue not doing so. We are not waiting for any train of hope, we do not wait for better times. Conditions move with the confrontation. The movement is such if it acts, otherwise it stands still. The liberation of the individual from authority and exploitation is carried out by those directly concerned.

Yet those who attack are driven by a contagious urge. This means propaganda of the deed.

Against cops, politicians and their stooges. Against engineers of science and industry. Against all masters, but also against all servants. Against the ranks of honest citizens of the prison society.

We are not interested in wasting time and energy in the critique of reformists…Although we do not consider ourselves an elitist minority, as anarchists we have our actions and our demands. Our propaganda. Every individual and affinity group develops and increases their experiences in fraternal bonding. Without any specialization and without wanting to impose a method. Let everyone find their way through action. The structured hierarchical organization in addition to killing the freedom of individuals is also more vulnerable to the reaction of oppression.

The informal anarchist organization is the instrument that we deem most appropriate at this moment, for this specific action, because it allows us to hold together our irreducible individuality, dialogue with other rebels via the claim of responsibility and finally the propaganda conveyed by the echo of the explosion.

It is not intended to be an absolute and definitive tool.

An action group is created and developed through knowledge, through trust. But other groups and individuals can share, even temporarily, a project, a debate, without knowing each other in person. They communicate directly through action.

Direct destructive action is the logical response to repression. But not solely. Anarchist praxis is also a revival, a proposal that goes beyond solidarity, breaking the spiral of repression-action-repression. Solidarity actions are impotant, but we cannot confine ourselves to the critique, however armed, of some oppressive operation or process.

The imprisoned comrades are part of the fight, they give us a side and give us strength. But it is necessary to act and organize. The advance of technological development, the policies of control and repression do not give much room for evaluation on what to do. Life and repression in the metropolis are being redesigned. Moving and acting can become more and more complicated.

Unlike the ‘clashes’ often announced by a certain antagonism, unpredictability is the best weapon against the society of control. Hit where they do not expect you. Today we struck in the heart of the militarized capital to challenge the delusions of security. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe in the suburbs where you least expect it. We do not make truces, we chose our own times. This has always been the principle of the metropolitan guerrilla. With the difference that the informal cell conspiracy does not know hierarchies or strategic directions. And that’s why it’s even less predictable.

The Italian State is at the forefront of repressive and military policies. By geographical location it is often called upon to do the dirty work to defend the borders of Fortress Europe.

The latest agreements between Minister Minniti* with the bloody Libyan colonels are recent evidence. Reaching the number of slaves necessary, ‘let’s take advantage of them at home’ as well as remaining popular is still a good bargain.

Last night we brought the war to Minister Minniti’s house. The ones in uniform who are directly responsible, the ones who obey by keeping silent and silencing those who don’t. They have received a small taste of what they deserve.

With this action we launch an international campaign against the representatives, structures and means of repression. Anybody can contribute to this campaign using whatever tools they consider to be the most appropriate.

Santiago Maldonado Cell
Informal Anarchist Federation – International Revolutionary Front

We dedicate this action to the Argentine anarchist kidnapped and murdered by the Benetton hit men. May the day come when the oppressors will finally disappear from the face of the earth.

(via Croce Nera Anarchica, translated by Insurrection News)

*refers to a letter-bomb sent in 2003 by an FAI cell to the home of European Commission president Romano Prodi. Prodi opened the parcel in his home, but the subsequent explosion did not result in any serious injuries.

**refers to the 2012 attack against Ansaldo Nuclear chief executive Roberto Adinolfi by Olga Cell FAI-FRI in which Andinolfi was knee-capped.

***Marco Minniti, Italian Minister of the Interior.

Tags: italyFAI-FRISantiago Maldonadocategory: Actions
Categories: News

Zurich – Fermento anarchist bookshop raided

Anarchist News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:13

via Act for freedom now!

On Thursday November 30th, at around 4pm, a dozen plain clothes and uniformed policemen from the cantonal police entered the premises of anarchist bookshop Fermento, on Josefstrasse 102 in Zurich, armed with a search warrant. The alleged crime: “Public instigation to commit crimes and acts of violence”.

As we have just learned, three policemen from the Criminal Investigation Department of the cantonal police already entered the bookshop ten days earlier. Then too using the same statement: the bookshop window would be an incitement to commit crimes and violence against businesses and individuals, to be seen in the context of the recent incendiary attacks against the construction of the PJZ [new palace of justice] and “Bässlergut” prison in Basel.

All this did not happen completely unexpectedly. Only a couple of days before, a long background article published by Schweiz am Wochenende and taken up by the Aargauer Zeitung urged that something be done once and for all against these anarchists, boasting of having discovered what everyone in Zurich can see: our shop window.

If the police acted on the impulse of Andreas Maurer’s piece – to call the journalist by his name – or if the latter had written under the pressure of someone else, we cannot know and do not care. The journalist’s role as cop has been openly demonstrated once again.

Let’s move on to the technical side:

In the first search, only the posters hanging from the window inside the bookshop were removed. Clearly the agents in question were not sure which poster contained the criminal message, so they took them all. One of these was an invitation to support our bookshop, which at the end of February will have to give way to yet another branch of Migros. We learned of the posters’ removal in amazement.

However, yesterday’s search was more thorough, although probably no less chaotic. This time another, apparently more important, department of the cantonal police was in charge. The trigger was the reappearance in the window of that damned manifesto: the one where those responsible for the construction of Bässlergut prison are listed, proposing to show the responsibility of all those who make a profit out of imprisoning people.

Strange that this time the same poster has been left in the window. In return they confiscated several others, especially those against the construction of the PJZ, as well as against the migration regime and prisons in general. As in the case of the first search, the posters were “seized as evidence and to preserve their traces”, because “any trace collected can lead to identifying the authors of the deed” (???)

Apart from this: 3 computers, 1 external hard drive, 1 CD with photos of plain clothes cops (for their photo album?) and also the list of addresses of subscribers to the anarchist newspaper Dissonanz in Zurich (and other correspondence), as well as the cards of books lent by the library, were taken. Clearly all this obviously has little to do with the offending poster, which among other things can easily be seen on the internet. The information collected, the names, contacts, etc. will probably serve other purposes, other constructions, more or less ridiculously set up.

We’ll see later.

In neither of the searches was there anyone from the bookshop present. There was the landlord at times, and the mayor of the district was called to supervise. A copy of the rent contract was requested and obtained to “find out who rents the premises in question and is therefore responsible for it”.

The prosecutor in charge of the operation is Edwin Lüscher, who for some time has been distinguishing himself as being in charge of riots, and who seems to be well known to everyone.

We’ll keep you informed

Your anarchists of Fermento

via https://finimondo.org/node/2105

Translated by Act for freedom now

Tags: zurichanarchists in troublefermentocategory: International
Categories: News

Survival Santa’s Guide to a Very Prepper Christmas

The Organic Prepper - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 14:14

Chestnuts are roasting, bells are ringing, and presents are under the tree. But if you are into survival, then you might put a slightly different twist on things during the … Read the rest

The post Survival Santa’s Guide to a Very Prepper Christmas appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Categories: News

Moore Is Less: Alabama, the Senate and the Nation Will Suffer

Truth Out - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 14:11
Thanks to reader support, Truthout can deliver the news seven days a week, 365 days a year. Keep independent journalism going strong: Make a tax-deductible donation right now.

Amid all the craziness surrounding Roy Moore's race for the US Senate and the seeming willingness of Alabama's likely voters to send a man of such dubious merit and morality to Capitol Hill (where, admittedly, the bar already is pretty damned low), I keep thinking of a line from the Randy Newman song "Rednecks."

It's the lead piece on his classic '70s album Good Old Boys, and begins with a Southern man lamenting how the north-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line media types make fun of former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, the arch-segregationist notorious for using an ax handle to threaten those who tried to integrate his fried chicken restaurant.

To see more stories like this, visit Moyers & Company at Truthout.

"Well, he may be a fool but he's our fool," Newman sings, and yep, there's the upcoming Alabama election in a nutshell. Outsiders are resented and tribalism reigns, no matter how irrational or destructive to self-interest.

Instead of campaigning about how to get the federal government to help his state pull itself from the clutches of such poverty, hunger and addiction, Roy Moore acts like a crackpot false prophet, preaching Islamophobia, homophobia and the dominance of "God's law" over the Constitution.

"Thank God for Mississippi" is the old joke: No matter how bad things were in Alabama, there always was a state right next door where things were often worse. Alabama is the third "hungriest" state in the nation, with 18 percent of its population food insecure, behind Louisiana and, yes, Mississippi. It's the sixth-poorest state, with some 18.5 percent living in poverty, and the third-highest state when it comes both to murders and the number of citizens behind bars per 100,000 members of population. According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids are prescribed in Alabama more than in any other state, and a Center for Health Statistics report notes that Alabama's rate of overdose deaths from opioids has doubled since 2011.

But no, instead of campaigning about how to get the federal government to help his state pull itself from the clutches of such poverty, hunger and addiction, Roy Moore acts like a crackpot false prophet, preaching Islamophobia, homophobia and the dominance of "God's law" over the Constitution; denying the allegations of the many women who say he assaulted or harassed or stalked them when they were teenagers (on Tuesday, a Moore spokesperson described the accusers as "criminals") and all the time hammering away at his Democratic opponent Doug Jones on abortion.

Moore wants all abortion to be illegal and supports the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Jones has declared he is against "anything that is going to infringe on a woman's right and her freedom to choose," but also has said that he supports "current law" that restricts abortion after 20 weeks unless pregnancy threatens the health of the mother.

Moore's wife has attacked Jones for supporting "full-term" abortion, which is wildly and deliberately misleading. What's more, the website AL.com reports, "An examination of statistics compiled by the Alabama Department of Public Health shows that late-term procedures are almost nonexistent in the state. Three out of 6,642 abortions performed in Alabama in 2016 occurred after 20 weeks, according to the agency."

Admittedly, I write all this as one of those Northern media types, but also as one with a Southern mother and at least one great-grandfather from Alabama. Not that it grants me much immunity, if any, from my innate damn Yankee-ness, but I put it out there just to suggest that genetically at least I may not be a total hostage to Eastern seaboard prejudices and pointy-headed intellectualism.

National Republicans pay far more heed to poll numbers than Moore's Ten Commandments.

Besides, these symptoms of self-righteous bigotry and callousness hardly are limited to Alabama. This knee-jerk tribal impulse that afflicts so much of the state's politics is just a pure, concentrated and poisonous microcosm of the Republican Party's Trumpism, right up to and including the race and gender prejudice, religious bias and sheer chutzpah, although that's not a word one imagines in Moore's Jesus-wants-me-for-a-sunbeam vocabulary.

And let's not forget opportunism. National Republicans pay far more heed to poll numbers than Moore's Ten Commandments. That's why we've witnessed the appallingly cynical backflips on his behalf from Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican National Committee (RNC) as Moore's percentages seem to have bounced back from an initial drop after the first allegations of his unchristian-like behavior with teenagers.

And so you have a morally compromised president who now shouts "Go get 'em, Roy," to a fellow misogynist and birther, as well as an RNC that has resumed cash transfusions for the Moore campaign. You have a woman governor in Alabama, Kay Ivey, who says, "There's never an excuse for or rationale for sexual misconduct or sexual abuse" but who will vote for Moore anyway because "we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to… make major decisions."

 

Then there's Tully Borland, philosophy professor at a Baptist university in Arkansas, convolutedly writing in The Federalist that relations between older men and teenage girls are "not without some merit if one wants to raise a large family," but adding, "Moore was a dirtbag and is currently lying about his actions rather than confessing the truth and asking for forgiveness." And then adding, "That being said, I don't think it's wrong to vote for Moore." As they used to say on Monty Python, "There! I've run rings around you logically."

No wonder my head hurts. Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin recently wrote that the GOP contortions are "the final result of years of win-at-all-cost politics in which no evil (Child molestation? Murder?) compares to the 'evil' of electing a perfectly competent, patriotic member of the other party to office."

… Republicans will tell you they support Moore and Trump as vehicles to policy goals. That assumes (falsely) that their policy goals are noble when they are actually unrealistic, unpopular, inconsistent and unconservative… In truth, the goals these Republicans care about, if they ever did, have long ago been sublimated (they certainly changed them entirely) to the goal of holding power, of winning. When that is the highest calling they'll vote for alleged child predators, racists and just about anyone else with an "R" next to his or her name.

According to Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, Democrats are planning to publicly hold Republicans responsible for supporting Moore. GOP Senate candidates will be asked if they agree with the decision and whether they're willing to serve with Moore if he wins. Well-clad feet will be held to fires.

But it could be too late. Sargent suggests Trump's behavior may already have degraded all of our politics beyond the point of no return. And he has given right-wing Republicans the chance they've sought for years: trying to gut every social policy achievement of the last eight decades while further enriching the oligarchs (including the Trump clan) as he distracts the rest of us with his unhinged, oafish behavior.

He may be a fool but he's our fool. Trump and his many accomplices, including and especially Roy Moore, only succeed if we keep letting them.

Categories: News

Oakland, CA: Defend Aunti Frances! Emergency Eviction Defense Rally!

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 07:25

The post Oakland, CA: Defend Aunti Frances! Emergency Eviction Defense Rally! appeared first on It's Going Down.

Sunday, December 10th
11 AM – 1 PM
61st & Adeline, Oakland, CA
Social Media Event Here

Please come for an emergency eviction defense rally for beloved Oakland community member Aunti Frances Moore. It is crucial we get as many people as possible to show up and prove to Aunti Frances’ landlords that her community will support her no matter what. This is the official launch of our eviction defense campaign, so share this event as widely as you can! There is also info below on how to support this cause if you can’t attend the event this Sunday, so read on!

We will celebrate with food, music, and people power. Bring your kids, friends, and neighbors! There will be performers, speakers, and a public reading of the community support letter to Aunti Frances’ landlords (with more 50+ community organizations signed on).

HOW YOU CAN HELP IF YOU CAN’T ATTEND 

There are many ways to support Aunti Frances right now even if you can’t come on Sunday. We value and appreciate every kind of support that is possible for you.

1. Repost Auntie’s story far and wide! Share this cause with your networks and encourage media outlets to cover this important story. Check our website for scripts & a forthcoming press release. Use the hashtags #DefendAuntiFrances #ClosetheLoopholes and #BlackHomesMatter https://www.defendauntifrances.org/press-kit/

2. Donate to Self-Help Hunger Program
https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/self-help-hunger-program

3. ADD YOUR ORG to Our Community Support Letter
https://www.defendauntifrances.org/supporting-organizations/

4. Join our list-serv & stay in the loop!
https://defendauntifrances.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=c1f79e10f08477b842ec130c2&id=c031ca6c54

ACCESS INFO 

Rally will take place in Driver’s Plaza, which is wheelchair accessible, and around the neighborhood in the street and on the sidewalk. This is an outdoor event and there is no bathroom access. Due to the emergency nature of this event, it is likely we will be unable to provide ASL interpretation. (Please post in this event or contact us at info [at] defendauntifrances.org if you can help with this effort!) There are benches for folks to sit in the Plaza, and we will print some collapsable chairs for people to sit in. More access info forthcoming.

BACKGROUND

Aunti Frances is a beloved Black disabled activist, elder, Black Panther and community leader who has lived in North Oakland/South Berkeley her entire life. She now faces a no-fault eviction by a notorious loophole in Oakland renter protections.

Our mission is to convince Aunti Frances’ landlords, Natalia Morphy and Morphy’s parents, to end the eviction proceedings and instead support Aunti Frances in staying in her community. We need as much community support as possible to insist that the Morphys drop this eviction. We aren’t going anywhere, because you can’t evict community power!

CONTACT US

For any questions, please contact info [at] defendauntifrances.org

LEARN MORE & STAY IN TOUCH

For information about Aunti Frances & this cause and to get involved, visit our website: https://defendauntifrances.org/

Thank you for your support of Aunti Frances, this campaign, and all communities organizing against gentrification!

#DefendAuntiFrances https://defendauntifrances.org/
Categories: News

War Against Anarchists in Brazil

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 06:21

The post War Against Anarchists in Brazil appeared first on It's Going Down.

On the 25th of October, 2017, several anarchists’ homes and social spaces were raided by the police in Porto Alegre, on the territories occupied by the Brazilian State. Computers, banners, books and bottles were seized. What ensued was an enormous campaign headed by the State and corporate media to criminalize anarchist individuals and ideas.

Many are responding to this attack on different levels and with all sorts of tactics.

This is but one of the responses.

Solidarity is a weapon!

Categories: News

Montreal: NYE Prison Demo

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 06:20

The post Montreal: NYE Prison Demo appeared first on It's Going Down.

Join us this New Year’s Eve to send loud messages of solidarity to those spending the holidays behind bars, as we celebrate ongoing prisoner resistance, and renew our commitment to fighting for a world without prisons!

Categories: News

Man Denied Marriage License by Kim Davis Will Try to Unseat Her in 2018

Truth Out - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 05:00

Local elections are heating up, including one for Rowan county clerk in Kentucky. The position, currently held by gay marriage opponent Kim Davis, is being challenged by one of the men to whom she denied a marriage license in 2015. This continues a trend of everyday people defiantly challenging incumbents with whom they have personal scores to settle, which began in the Virginia elections this November.

David Ermold formally announced his plans to run against Davis Wednesday, and submitted the documents directly to Davis.

Ermold, a professor and activist, married David Moore in 2015, despite Davis' attempts to block the couple's marriage. Though the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage was protected under law, Ermold and Moore's attempts to get a marriage license were denied multiple times. Davis' refusal to sign the license drew national attention to the enforcement of Supreme Court decisions on a local level, as well as the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ equality against the religious right.

Kim Davis is seeking re-election (she changed parties and is now a Republican) and has stayed busy since 2015, including her brief time in jail after refusing to grant the marriage licenses, and a recent trip to Romania to speak out against gay marriage.

Ermold is one of four Democratic candidates looking to obtain the nomination and run in 2018. There was attention paid to his speculative run in November, especially on Twitter after he shared content about his run and also tweeted:

According to his website, Ermold's platform is based on leadership, fairness and responsibility, and he's focused on issues relating to voting accessibility and the fact that the "county clerk's office has been in the hands of the same family for almost 35 years." As the Lexington Herald Leader reported, Davis previously worked for her mother while she was county clerk, and Davis' son is also employed in the office.

Ermold said in a statement, "We must recommit ourselves to embracing the diversity within our community, and we must stand strong against those who have turned their backs on our people to pursue the divisive agenda of outside politicians and organizations."

One of the bright spots of 2017 politics has been local elections in which people are standing up to those who oppose their values. This includes women who have won races against GOP members who opposed the Women's March and reproductive justice, like Ashley Bennett who unseated Atlantic County Freeholder John Carman. Carman shared a sexist meme on Facebook about the Women's March early in 2017, and this, plus Carman's failure to apologize at a meeting, pushed Bennett to run. In Virginia's state legislature race, Danica Roem, a transgender woman, won against incumbent Bob Marshall, a leader of Virginia's discriminatory bathroom bill.

It'll be a long road to election day 2018 for David Ermold, especially in a county Trump won with more than 50 percent of the vote. However, as Ermold told Newsweek, "I just cannot sit by and just let her take that seat without a fight."

Categories: News

Strong Job Growth Continues in November, Prime Age Employment Rate Hits New High for Recovery

Truth Out - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 05:00
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported somewhat stronger than expected job growth in November, with employers adding 228,000 jobs. This brought the average for the last three months to 170,000. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent.

While the overall employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) ticked down by 0.1 percentage point, the EPOP for prime age workers rose by 0.2 percentage points, to 79.0 percent. This is an increase of 0.8 percentage points from the year-ago level, but is still 1.3 percentage points below the pre-recession peak.

In spite of measures indicating a continued tightening of the labor market, there is still little evidence of any notable acceleration in wage growth. The annualized growth rate of wages for the last three months, compared with the prior three months, is 2.6 percent, virtually identical to the 2.5 percent rate of increase over the last year.

The relatively low percentage of unemployment due to workers voluntarily quitting their jobs (11.3 percent) suggests that workers still do not feel very confident about their job prospects. This number was 12.3 percent a year ago and had peaked at more than 15.0 percent in 2000.

On the whole, this is a positive report, but one that indicates that the labor market can still tighten further without any major concerns about inflation.

Categories: News

Ousted Honduran President Zelaya Says 2009 US-Backed Coup Led to Election Crisis

Truth Out - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 05:00

In an exclusive interview, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 US-backed coup, says US actions led to the current political crisis in Honduras. The government continues to withhold the results of the November presidential election, which pitted US-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández against opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla. Massive protests erupted after the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes when the count showed Nasralla ahead. Zelaya now heads the opposition LIBRE party, which is part of the Alliance Against the Dictatorship coalition led by Nasralla.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: In Honduras, the political crisis continues as the government is still refusing to release the results of the November 26 presidential election, held almost two weeks ago. The election pits US-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández against opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, head of the National Alliance Against the Dictatorship. Massive protests erupted over the weekend, after the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes when the count showed Nasralla ahead of Hernández by more than 5 percentage points. After the delay, the electoral commission then claimed Hernández was ahead, sparking protests in which as many as 11 people were killed and more than 1,200 detained. Earlier this week, the Honduran police mutinied against the government, saying they would no longer enforce a curfew and crackdown against protesters.

Well, on Wednesday, in a Democracy Now! exclusive, I spoke with President Manuel Zelaya. He was president of Honduras from 2006 to 2009, before he was ousted in a US-backed coup on June 28th, 2009. He's now head of the opposition LIBRE party, part of the coalition of the Alliance Against the Dictatorship, which is led by the opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla. We spoke via Democracy Now!video stream. President Zelaya was in Tegucigalpa. I began by asking him to describe the situation in Honduras right now.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Look, people are in the streets. There are a million people in the streets. There are takeovers. There are checkpoints. There are demonstrations. People are also being killed, assassinated by the repressive apparatuses of the state. There is a massive protest of society because of the lack of transparency in the electoral system.

Today, we are calling our candidate, who is now president-elect -- we are calling for a count of all polling places. There are only 18,000 polling places. It's not such a large number. That can be done in a matter of four days. So that the people can regain calm, because based on the data that the state itself put out, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Alliance of Opposition Against the Dictatorship, on the day of the election, the tribunal said that we had a 5 percent lead, with 71 percent of the votes counted. They said, with 57 percent counted, the alliance already had a 5 percent advantage, and then, with 71 percent counted, the 5 percent trend was maintained -- 71 percent. It was a 5 percent lead and growing.

Then, the system went down for three days. They say that the server was overloaded. That's like putting three needles into a room. How is a server going to be overloaded with so little data. The server can take billions and billions of pieces of data. So, three days, it was the -- the vote count was stopped. And then there was a change in service, in the server. And we were told that they had reset, when we asked for the backup, and it was all lost. And then it was resumed, and we're told, with 29 percent of the vote left to be counted, that we were losing. And so people were indignant, felt bothered.

And we resent the fact that the United States has this duplicitous discourse with respect to Honduras. They control the country. I was the president. They control the media, the private enterprise, the churches, the military. And they are silent. It's very striking that there's a twofold discourse, a duplicitous discourse, here on the part of the State Department.

AMY GOODMAN: President Zelaya, what are you calling for right now?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] At this time, we are asking for two things. First, for people to stay firm and stay in the streets, because if we don't defend what we've won at the polls in the streets -- the Honduran institutions have been coopted from the coup d'état to date. There's no democracy here. There's no rule of law here. We are suffering repression here. People are being persecuted. There are human rights violations every day. Every day. There's no due process. There's nothing. Since the coup d'état, the United States has done what it wants with this country. They changed all the laws. This is a military state, with laws like Plan Colombia, like the laws in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is what's happening in Honduras. And they've done away with guarantees and with respect. What's being done in this country is unjust. We are calling for people to defend themselves in the streets, so that what we won at the polls, we defend in the streets.

And second, the little bit of institutional framework that the state has -- well, the OAS is calling for this, the European Union. Let's count the 18,000 polling places. They say let's count or let's review the reports on the votes. But that's manipulated. Let's actually look at the votes. Let's see where the voters signed. And let's see if the signatures on the reports of the votes coincide with what's on the actual vote. We're asking for something -- this is a very sensitive demand. And we think that the international community should support democracy in Honduras. We want peace in Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you calling for a full recount or a new election?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] We know that Salvador Nasralla won the election. Salvador Nasralla, in a matter of six months. We had an alliance with the LIBRE party, which was founded after the coup d'état. We entered into an alliance with him. He's practically a TV personality and sports journalist. And in a matter of six months -- with happiness, dancing in all of the towns, with music -- he won the elections. We won.

We defeated 130 years of bipartisan rule in Honduras. We defeated them. The people defeated them, because of the poverty, the misery and the violence. The people cannot put up with it anymore. So, the elections were won. They recognized it the day of the elections. It was in the press worldwide that the alliance had won the election. And today, silence. Let's hear the voice of the church, the voice the military. Well, they react only when the United States gives them the order.

AMY GOODMAN: President Zelaya, the US State Department certified the Honduran government has been fighting corruption and supporting human rights, clearing the way for Honduras to receive millions of dollars in US aid. This came just a few days after the election took place on November 26th, in the midst of the dispute. Can you talk about the significance of this?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Well, one month ago, the United Nations in Geneva, which looks out for human rights, directly introduced Honduras in the list of countries that violate human rights. One month ago, the United Nations organization in Geneva that looks out for human rights involved Honduras and put it directly on the list of countries that violate human rights. Just one year ago, they assassinated Berta Cáceres, a defender of nature, a defender of the rivers. They went to assassinate her. And the indicia indicate that the masterminds of this crime are being protected by the state.

Nonetheless, the State Department comes out with these things. The State Department is a very political organization. They protect the dictators who are their friends. Nonetheless, in Honduras, it has been clear -- well, in the last six months, there's not been an ambassador of the United States. The ambassador of the United States is like a governor. It's like a state that is under the dollar. And we find it shameful that the State Department is so indifferent to the Honduran people, who are suffering. There have been 12 assassinations in the last 48 hours. We're under a state of siege. You know, they've declared a state of siege against the protests. They are counting the votes under a state of siege, with a military highly repressive state in Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the United States doing behind the scenes, President Zelaya?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] They want to leave the dictator in, endorsing a fraud, endorsing a dictator.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is it doing? How do you know that? What is it doing to ensure that?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The Organization of American States put out a report yesterday, which is mostly satisfactory, about how the operational side of the elections are being held. And the OAS -- well, this is a report that must be analyzed with the State Department, as well. And they say clearly that the OAScannot consider the results of the -- put out by the election tribunal, to be reliable. They're saying that the current president is being illegally re-elected. They've violated the Constitution. They've assaulted the institutions of the state. They carried out a fraud. They did not want to carry out the national election census. And now, since they were not able to win at the ballot box, they're now manipulating the system, the count system. The OAS already put out a report that we find very satisfactory.

Based on that report, today we will be presenting challenges to the election. We will be calling for a general count of all the votes. Now, if the State Department would like to rectify its position, it should go along with us in this, that there should be a count. If the current president won, what's the problem with having a recount? If they say he won, well, Mr. President, let's have a count. You or the United States, let us look. Let's have a count in Europe. Let's have a count. What's the problem? If the electoral tribunal says that you won -- well, they're all employees of the presidency -- let's have a public count, in front of cameras and television and international organizations. The three parties that participated, the main parties, let's be there. And they say everything is transparent. I would hope it would be. And I would hope that that can happen in coming hours.

AMY GOODMAN: That's former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in 2009 in a US-backed coup. We'll be back with our exclusive interview with him, and then we'll talk about The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assessing a President. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Honduran band Café Guancasco, one of the most politically outspoken bands in Honduras. After the 2009 US-backed coup, they became known as the "Band of the Resistance." This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman, as we return to Democracy Now!'s exclusive interview with the former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in the 2009 US-backed coup. The political crisis in Honduras today is continuing as the government still refuses to release the results of the November 26 presidential election, that pit the US-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández against the opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla, head of the Alliance Against the Dictatorship. Massive protests erupted over the weekend, after the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes when the count showed Nasralla ahead of Hernández. I asked President Zelaya whether he's suggesting the US is still running the show right now in Honduras.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I have no doubt about it, Amy. And you know why? Because I was president of the country, and they tried to run everything. And their opposition is what took me out of power. The coup d'état against me was planned in Miami at the Southern Command. So I know, here, they run the churches -- not all of them, not all of the pastors or all of the priests, but the main heads. They finance the main churches, evangelical churches, as well -- not all of them, but most of them. They run the large owners of the media corporations. They feed them a line, day after day. And the military obey them, because they were trained by them at the School of the Americas. It now has another name, but the graduates are throughout Latin America. The private business -- well, if you're going to be a businessperson and make money in Honduras, you need to export to the United States, and so you have to have a good relationship, you have to have a visa. So, anything the United States says is the law for the private sector here. If they say, "Go into the abyssum," they will. That's how the history of this country has been. They run the transnationals, private sector, the churches, the major media -- not just here, around the world. The major media conglomerates answer to the US line.

And that is why it's necessary for them to reflect upon the harm that they're doing to a small country like this. It's incredible. But they're not going to be able to govern here. If Juan Orlando is imposed in the next four years, they're not going to be able to govern. The people will be in the streets. Everyone is shouting "Fuera JOH," which means, "Out, [Juan] Orlando Hernández," the president.

AMY GOODMAN: Has the United States reached out to Salvador Nasralla? Has he been speaking to the US government?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Yes, quite a bit. They have been meeting with him. But they want Salvador to sign an agreement with the president to review only some of the vote reports. They're asking him to sign that. Salvador has refused, because he knows that it's a trap that they're trying to lead him into. They want just a partial review, and that is obviously not enough.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does Nasralla say to that? What's his response?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The answer is the same that I'm giving you. I've spoken with him. We're in coordination. I'm the coordinator of the alliance. He is the candidate and the president-elect. The answer is: Let's have a general count, and let's have the people in the streets.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about General Kelly, General Kelly who is this White House chief of staff right now, formerly head of SouthCom, certainly involved with matters relating to the United States in Honduras? Do you see him playing a role in the Honduran election?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Well, please extend my greetings to General Kelly. He came here several times. I did not meet him personally, but I know who he is. When he was the head of the Southern Command, head of SouthCom, he was given responsibility over Honduras, and he exercised a great deal of influence in the changes in the country. President Obama said it's a mistake to put the military in charge of drug trafficking, because their armed forces are going to become contaminated. Well, here, General Kelly made that mistake of getting the armed forces involved. Instead of involved in defense, they're involved in security. That's a big mistake, because the military have a patriotic function to defend and support security, but not to be the first line on security. And so, he is, in large measure, responsible for the tragedy that the country is experiencing.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a difference between the Trump administration's involvement in Honduras today and the Obama administration, clearly involved in the coup against you, that toppled you, President Zelaya, in 2009?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] There's less hypocrisy with Trump. He's more direct about what he's going to do, and he does it. Under the previous administration, there was a lack of sincerity in the words. And so, in a way, we like this. But Trump is very repressive. He's very cold and harsh. He only sees the world from the standpoint of business. I think that we, human beings, be it in the eyes of God or in the eyes of the law, have the same value. This is what Jefferson said. It's what Washington said. It's what the US Constitution says. He lacks humanity.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a connection between the coup against you in 2009 and the violence that has grown in Honduras, leading up to, for example, the assassination of Berta Cáceres in 2015?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The world is a global village. Everything is interrelated. You were here after the coup d'état, and you experienced that tragedy in Honduras. Since then, those who carried out the coup and removed me have been governing. I organized the people, and we've now defeated them. At the polls, in a civic manner, without violence, we defeated them. They have the weapons and all.

And, of course, they changed the state. They turned it into a military repressive state, violator of human rights. And there's no more respect for due process. They've introduced new laws. There's a law on secrecy, for example. I had a law called law for access to public information and law for transparency and a law on citizen participation. Now, these are prohibited. Public -- popular consultations are provided by this tyrannical government.

They say there can be elections, but the elections are not the essence of democracy. Elections are: You're presented a piece of paper with a bunch of photos, and you mark it. That is not the full extent of democracy. People making decisions is democracy, and it's not accepted here now, almost 10 years after the coup d'état.

There's a tie-in of death squads. People are being massacred, killed in series. We hadn't seen that before in this country. That is a result of the state. Instead of seeking to be democratic, well, it simply centralized power and made it authoritarian and military. In addition, as indicated in State Department reports, the amount of drugs coming through Honduras has tripled. Of course, now there is directly military control of all movement of the country, and so it's easier for the drug traffickers than in an open democratic system. Now, there is too much control by the security forces, and therefore the drugs go through very openly through Honduras.

Of course, all of that has been the result of the control that the United States came to acquire after the coup d'état. First, remember, Otto Reich came through with accusations against Honduras and so forth. But even so, we won the elections. Roberto Carmona, a Venezuelan CIA agent, came through. The United States took possession of Honduras after the coup d'état. And they've done a very bad job running the country. The economy has been low. The poverty has grown. Violence has grown.

Let me cite one datum: Violence went down in the six months leading up to the elections. Well, that was clearly an indicator that those who are running the violence and control those who are producing the violence are those who reduce the levels of violence. Why? Because there's elections. And then, after the elections, the violence will come back. They are the ones who are running it. It's like a Plan Colombia for Honduras. That is what we have called it.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you for the passage of the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act in the US Congress that would cut off military aid to Honduras until human rights violations stop?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Yes, I agree with passage of the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act, because the United States is financing a repressive state, violating human rights, and we need to have an in-depth investigation into all of that.

AMY GOODMAN: The former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga is heading the Organization of American States, the OAS, election observation mission in Honduras. He said the tight margin, along with the irregularities, errors and systematic problems that have surrounded this election, does not allow the mission to be certain about the results. President Zelaya, what's your response to the former Bolivian president?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Look, Tuto Quiroga, as we know him in Latin America, is a man from the far right. He's a peon of the CIA. He works with them. He informs them. He was vice president of a dictator in Bolivia. In Bolivia, he appears to be critical of the system and of Evo Morales. Here, he has come to defend a dictator. So I don't believe him. A traitor once, a traitor forever.

AMY GOODMAN: In The Wall Street Journal, there was an opinion piece that said that you are doing the bidding of Venezuela, President Zelaya. It's also what the PR firms in Washington that represent the Honduran right are trying to say. What is your response to that?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] I didn't know the Venezuelans until I became president of Honduras and I met Hugo Chávez. My record as a citizen is well known throughout my entire life in Honduras. I am a democratic-minded man. I am a pacifist. I don't use weapons. Plus, I have a clean record, throughout my life, my private life, my public life, my administrative life. No one can have any doubts about me.

Now, in terms of my thinking and my ideology and my ways of thinking, I share directly with all peoples struggling for justice -- Venezuela, the people of Bolívar, the people of Central America, of Morazán, the people of Cuba, Martí, and Artigas in Ecuador, the people of Mexico, the people of Farabundo Martí, the Sandinistas. All have struggled against dictatorships, opprobrious dictatorships, for centuries. That is consistent with my way of being. I defend the Bolivarian Revolution and the revolution of Martí and Morazán here, and the revolutions in the African countries and the Middle East, who are putting up with so much pressure by the empire. I am the defender of just causes, and I identify with that.

Now, if because of that they say that I have some affinity with the people, tell them it's true. It's true. The struggle being carried out by Nicolás Maduro to defend his natural resources, that the United States wants to recover -- oil, the oil wells -- and the European countries' companies, as well, is a just struggle of the Venezuelan people. And I am with Nicolás Maduro in that struggle, because the actions carried out by the United States against Venezuela are public. The Obama decrees against Venezuela, declaring it to be an enemy of the world, is public. The aggression by Trump, saying he's going to invade Venezuela, is public.

We Latin Americans and Caribbeans, Hispanic Americans who are here, just as we defend immigrants in the United States, we also defend peoples who fight for change. Here in Honduras, I began a process of change, and they took us out by bullets. And it was the Latin American left that defended me. At that time, the right united, but as a matter of hypocrisy, because within months they were with those who carried out the coups here, so they don't want changes in Latin America, the Caribbean or anywhere in the world. Not even in the United States do they want changes. There was a candidate proposing democratic socialism. And similarly, we have a proposal along the same lines at the opposition alliance. So, the United States is denying reality. They might stop changes momentarily, but changes of humankind cannot be stopped. We continue going forward. Despite all of the forces that historically try to keep things as they are, humankind has gone through all sorts of change -- war, revolution, peaceful demonstrations, like Gandhi, as Jesus Christ taught us. And we're involved in that process. So, my identification with those causes is a matter of public record.

I come from a right-wing party. But in exercising power at the top level of the public life of any human being holding power, we realized we needed to help the workers, the campesinos, the teachers. I wanted this country to have relations with the world. I brought Lula. I brought Chávez. I brought President Bachelet, presidents of Mexico. I maintained good relations with the United States. You might not believe me, but they had a center with Chávez. They wanted to destroy Chávez because he wanted to free these peoples from the oppression of the big transnationals, the military and the transnationals. It's the US and European military-industrial complex. With that, they've gone to destroy the Middle East.

We have anti-imperialist principles and anti-capitalist principles, because capital is good. Capital needs to be developed. Private enterprise plays a fundamental role in the history of our peoples, the private sector. I, myself, own agricultural businesses and so on. But capital was created by man, and it's not possible that now capital is dominating human beings. Here, they want to run the nations. They want to run the states. They want to oppress and exploit the peoples. I'm a businessperson, but the role of a businessperson is to drive the economy, but not to guide the nation. The nation should be guided by common sense and reason. And that is democracy.

And I am grateful for this opportunity. I see this is not coming from the coup d'état. We are resisting with force, so we will maintain this position the rest of our lives. And we see that the people are the ones who are on the right side of history. The people is like the concept of God. The people is justice. The people is transparency. The people is calling for justice, demanding justice. So, if they want to judge me or criticize me for these views, they may do so.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say that Salvador Nasralla shares your views?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] In large measure. Salvador is a fair man. He is a man of the right, but he is a fair man. And we entered into an alliance, and we signed this, and we said we're going for a participatory democracy because representative democracy is a betrayal. It represents betrayal of the people, who need to be involved in referendums and in popular consultations. We consider him to be an advanced and progressive man. He's not a socialist, but he is a progressive man. And that's why he was our candidate. And that's why we won the election. The people were able to pick up on his message.

AMY GOODMAN: President Zelaya, the significance of the police refusing to impose the curfew, enforce the curfew, for President Hernández?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] There was a mutiny in the COBRA Group, which is a special commando group, a rebellion. And that then spread to all of the civilian police. There was like 24 hours of rebellion. Logically, these are disciplined bodies that have their esprit de corps, and they defend their own integrity at the end of the day.

But it sends two messages to the nation: You are governing poorly, we want clean elections, and we want the winner to be recognized as the winner. We don't want impositions. We're not going to accept impositions. And we're not going to obey the president when he orders us to lash out against the people. They are our sisters and brothers. And they said, "We are not going to repress the people. The people demand transparent elections and a transparent vote count." And it was won. And the police now have stepped back. They reached a specific agreement. But they really left a revolutionary message with the people. It's a group that is with the people. And we have confidence, and we're grateful for this historic gesture on the part of the police, unlike the military. The military are the ones who are killing us. They are the ones who are assassinating. And they should reflect upon this, because they, too, are persons of the people.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, what do you see happening from this point on, President Zelaya?

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] Ask General Kelly. I already told you what we are going to do. And we are going to uphold the will of the people. I've told you what Salvador Nasralla is doing. We're calling on the people to defend themselves in the streets, to take to the streets. If they do not defend their triumph, if we -- what we don't defend in the streets, we're not going to be able to defend in the institutions, which are totally coopted and controlled by the tyranny that has been established in Honduras and with the support of the State Department.

And the State Department, to conclude, I ask you, look, you, in the United States, you have a major responsibility in the world. You have the money, the weapons, power in the world. You have the technology, some of the greatest strides in science. Don't do this to this people. Stop supporting a fraud in Honduras. Please, allow us to act democratically. We're a peaceful people, and we want to have a good relationship with the United States. But in this way, all that is done is for the United States to get a poor image, worse than it already might be.

AMY GOODMAN: That's former Honduras President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 US-backed coup. He was speaking to us from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He heads the operation LIBRE party, part of the Alliance Against the Dictatorship, which is led by Salvador Nasralla, the opposition presidential candidate. The Honduran government-controlled election commission still refuses to release the final results from the election nearly two weeks ago. You can go to democracynow.org to see all of our coverage of Honduras, including our coverage of his return to Honduras in 2011 on a plane from Nicaragua. This was after he was deposed and then returning to Honduras after the US-backed coup.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we'll be talking about The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assessing a President. Stay with us.

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Sinking Flynn

Truth Out - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 05:00
Categories: News

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