From Anarchist Agency by Kevin Tucker
Warning: this entire review is a spoiler. See the movie first. Please and thank you.
By this point, you’ve probably heard a lot about Boots Riley’s excellent film, Sorry to Bother You. Heed my spoiler warning, because we’re jumping right in.
I’m a huge fan of Boots. His hip-hop group, The Coup, is a long-standing personal favorite and few have a way with words like Boots does. He’s got that excellent combination of wit, insight, and provocation. I’m not now, nor ever will be, fond of his communism, but I’m always willing to hear him out. His perspective is unique and his critique runs deep. Beyond the art, to put it simply, he can really back it up.
All I needed to hear to get excited was that he had made a movie. Then that it was based around telemarketing. Bound to be excellent. Being last in line to see it, I can say that on the whole it is excellent.
But there’s always a catch, right? This is no different.
It’s hard to distill ours views of a movie like this from what any of us in the radical world have likely heard from others. Most of the film is pretty damn hilarious satire and cutting critique. Those are the parts that have got the most attention, and rightfully so. I’ve had bosses like Steve Lift. I’ve dealt with organizers like Squeeze. I think we’ve all seen some version of the cringe-worthy racism in the party scene. You have the awkwardly pointless nature of the crap we buy, sell, and promote. And then there are the “code switching” aspects that demand the light Boots has put on them.
When I heard the film teeters into science fiction, it didn’t seem like a stretch considering how Boots works best: story telling. He’s smart, and he’s also entertaining. But most of the film could hardly be considered science fiction. Nothing, from the prison-slave corporation, WorryFree, to the caricatures of today’s reality game shows, is really too far off from our reality. You hear corporate-speak and it’s not hard to imagine CEOs toeing those waters.
The first three quarters or so of the film works well because the satire cuts close to home. It’s a fantastical mirror of our sad reality. But the failure of the uprising, the co-optation of rage into entertainment, and the bleak results the unions achieve are genuine.
As social media takes over our lives, we live increasingly in a world where flagrant outrage is counterbalanced by dismal attention span. Lest viewers think this something unique to the world of candidate or President Trump, it’s worth reminded ourselves that this script was completed in 2012. Boots rightfully hasn’t spared Obama or liberals his well-honed, weaponized wit.
What was true in 2012 is only truer now. It is the sickening reality of our increasingly warped and insulated world, constantly boiling over with rage, that when (not if) politicians iterate ideas in this film, such as saying slavery wasn’t such a bad deal, it’s like a firework: explosive, bright, and loud, but gone as quickly as it comes.
Where things shift seems to come down to one question, and again, heed my spoiler warning: is the film over before or after Cash begins the Equisapien process?
A number of anarchists and radicals have told me they felt that the narrative spirals down into the lackluster faux-conclusion. The workers go back to work, they commit to union organizing, and meaning is granted in the resistance, or the idea thereof; all is taken in stride. Boots has proclaimed elsewhere that the real power of strikes comes from removing your body from the production apparatus. As an anarcho-primitivist, I place more long-term hope in that prospect. Ostensibly, in Boots’ view, I trust there’s a point where strike yields results and the machine runs again, but I doubt his ideal society would have much room left for telemarketing.
Protest movements, as Boots has articulated, were an outgrowth of a much longer and deeper history in which our relationship to the functioning of the machine wasn’t just an existential idea, but a more visceral reality. The post-industrial reshuffling of the world ensured that feeling of separation, and to great effect. I share Boots’s concerns about what protest is capable of without taking into account the means of production, reproduction, and distribution innate to the State–or further, as I’m constantly going to push, innate to civilization itself.
If you accept that as the true ending and intellectual conclusion of the film, you can take a lot of the nearly universally-faulted characters on all sides of the story in stride and ignore the fact that nothing is truly resolved. You can live with a world where all of us radicals can see a film like this as a pat on the back. Keep trying, champ, you’ll get there.
But that isn’t the true ending. The more fantastical ending is that the uprising did nothing to stop what was already well underway. Cassius didn’t beat the system; he was beat before he raised his fist against it. The false sense of security is gone immediately and there is only one appropriate response: complete and utter revolt.
Boots is smart enough not to fill in all the blanks. I expect my views of the ending are vastly different from his own; I also know that this is intentional. So perhaps the Equisapien thing falling further into an anarcho-primitivist critique is merely incidental. Fantastical? Sure. And yet, it’s also not a huge stretch for an allegory.
I might be one of the few people to leave the theater with Paul Shepard’s warning in mind that the first steps to genetic engineering began with the act of domestication. Or Lewis Mumford’s long-ago proclamation that the first components of the Megamachine were comprised of human flesh, in the organization of bodies for the production of surplus. Equisapiens are the confluence of both critiques–and totally fitting for our globalized world, where labor itself is split between slavish factory, field, and mine conditions and the sterilized sales and service economy.
Horses once pulled the plows that fed a growing civilization and its hierarchy. Bred for docility and strength, both to subjugate the earth and yet remain subjugated themselves, they’re not a far cry for our own conditioning and the realities of a colonized world. If you want to sound the alarm about what capitalists might do, it helps to remind ourselves of what their agrarian predecessors had already done.
That ending is vengeful, but it isn’t as comfortable.
And for a communist, it might further blur the line between fantasy and release. Will there be a sequel in which proletarian Equisapiens try to craft a new order with the ceased means of production? I doubt it. And the fantasy might leave more room to go beyond the lukewarm potential for unions or organizing.
My goal isn’t to solve the issues Boots raises here. I believe that is his intent: to inspire instead of dictate. But there are a lot of aspects of the film that could be elaborated on at length. I’m sure others have and will go in many directions I’ve left untouched. But considering, for example, Boots’ take down of Spike Lee’s white-washing new movie, Black KKKlansman, we are reminded that Boots isn’t likely to be bought.
The film entertains, but it doesn’t let you roam too far from the reminder that there is a breaking point where we stop trying to get by and start resisting, without delusion and without restraint.
In terms of radical agit-prop: is this “the film” that might incite people to real revolt? I’m not sure. To me, a lot of this is clear, but I have seen other radicals and anarchists get lost in a rabbit hole of dissection as well. The fantastical elements might obscure the radical undertones for any audience, but I’m not faulting Boots for his choices.
I’m not sure where that bar really sits. Fight Club and The Matrix seemed like a fitting backdrop for the anti-globalization uprisings in 1999, but may have been more responsible for neo-fascist Werewolves-style groups and EDM raves than smashed out windows and burnt banks. I don’t fear that this film could have that kind of outcome, but that’s why it’s more important to me to rehash two points: that the feel good ending isn’t the ending and that Boots isn’t trying to hand you everything.
It isn’t the filmmakers intent that you walk away as a Rileyist, but that the film inspire you. More importantly, that it incites you. On that front, I’d say it’s a solid offering, even if it isn’t likely to be the film that convinces your aunt or uncle to resist. At the very least, it’ll spark some conversations. Hopefully it’ll spark some fires too.
* * *
Kevin Tucker lives in the Ozarks of Missouri and is an anarcho-primitivist writer, rewilding advocate, and publisher. He founded Black and Green Press in 2000, was the editor of Species Traitor journal, hosts the Black and Green Podcast, and is the founding editor of Black and Green Review. His books include Gathered Remains and For Wildness and Anarchy.
Tags: kevin tuckerreviewmovieboots rileyprimal anarchycategory: Essays
From Black and Green Podcast, October 4, 2018
Had the pleasure of swinging by Eugene, Oregon to meet up at John Zerzan’s house over last weekend along with five other current and former editors of Black and Green Review to talk about the journal, direction, discussion about the anarchist milieu and the directions to push anti-civ discussion. Featuring John Zerzan, Evan Cestari, Lilia, Cliff Hayes, and Yank.
Listen / Download here:
The post The Communes of Rojava: A Model In Societal Self Direction appeared first on It's Going Down.This amazing video and documentary, produced by Neighbor Democracy, details the evolving communal organs within the Rojava Revolution, from security to health care.
This 40 minute video is an in-depth look into the inner workings of the commune system of Rojava and how they work in practice. Rojava is the colloquial name for the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), a multi-ethnic, pluralist, women’s liberationist, and radically democratic autonomous zone that has grown out of the context of the Syrian Civil War. While there is frequent and thorough reporting on the military aspects of the Revolution in Rojava, especially their fight against Daesh (ISIS) and the Turkish State, the social revolution as it relates to the everyday lives of the people living there is rarely given anything more than a cursory overview, even in radical circles.
This video is one attempt to make up for that gap in easily digestible information about the way the day-to-day autonomous organizing affects daily life in Rojava. It also closes with a call for people in the US and elsewhere to build communes along similar lines, while discussing some possible contextual considerations specific to North America.
The communes in the DFNS are birthed out of tireless organizing by everyday people, predominately Kurdish women, in an effort that started clandestinely in the days of the Regime, but has since led to structures that could fill the power vacuum left in the war. The people of the DFNS are working out in practice through trial-and-error the culmination of 40 years of theoretical and practical knowledge built through the Kurdish struggle, and most thoroughly laid out by the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
The communes have many similarities to the neighborhood assemblies that were the focus of the late American communalist Murray Bookchin, who was an inspiration for Ocalan. There are an estimated 4,000 communes in Rojava today, run through direct democracy of all the residents (50-150 families). The work of the commune is divided up into committees which anyone can join. The most common committees are explored in-depth in this video, and their timestamps can be found below. Each committee covered in the video can be found in its own short clip on the Neighbor Democracy channel so that these short, easy-to-digest videos can me shared in discussions about specific topics relating to communal approaches to various aspects of life.
0:00-2:50 Defining The Commune
2:51-5:53 Defense Committee
5:54-11:09 Health Committee
11:10-15:29 Peace and Consensus Committee
15:30-23:40 Economic Committee
23:41-29:21 Education Committee
29:22-37:40 Women’s Committee
37:41-42:56 A Call for Communes Everywhere!
The post Rebellion and Possibility: Voices in the Anti-ICE Struggle Vol. II appeared first on It's Going Down.The Radical Education Department (RED) returns with another collection of texts from the Abolish ICE movement.
As ICE’s brutality continues to shatter lives, we continue to document the struggle to abolish the institution.
We’ve compiled more stories of radical struggle against ICE, the border patrol, and the police; documenting the different tactics, successes, and philosophies from around the country.
We would like to thank the all of the contributors for each article that we’ve compiled, and the websites that originally published those writings and from which they were borrowed.
Again, this volume, like the first, is only one very limited snapshot of the vast anti-ICE uprising, which developed powerful expressions in many more than the few cities represented here.
Volume 2 can be found here: https://radicaleducationdepartment.com/zines/
The post Duluth, MN: Banner Drop for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women appeared first on It's Going Down.Anti-Colonial Land Defense reports on a banner drop on Indigenous People’s Day in Duluth, MN.
A banner stating, “NO MORE MMIW” was dropped off an overpass by a collective of indigenous and non-indigenous Water Protectors in Duluth on Indigenous People’s Day, October 8th, 2018, calling for an end to the terrible epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous womxn!
The banner hung boldly over the highway overpass for several hours until removed by so-called ‘ law enforcement’… Duluth is sadly the capital for sex trafficking and missing & murdered indigenous womxn on this part of Turtle Island, and we must fight back for our stolen sisters!
Infrastructure like pipelines, mines, refineries, mega-highways, dumps, factories, and industrial agriculture falls under the category of racist resource colonial extractive industries, and they are destroying the collective future of our planet and are largely responsible for womxn/indigenous women going missing and murdered near their work sites and affiliated areas, entities, and businesses.
This will NOT be accepted, and will NOT be taken anymore!
Entities such as US Bank and Wells Fargo- to name a few, are also responsible for funding this racist resource colonial infrastructure, thus funding cultural genocide of indigenous people’s and their lands, and the continuation of missing and murdered indigenous womxn, and the people say, “No More!”
There is a general call to comrades and allies to fight and oppose these racist resource colonial industries and their affiliates, to reclaim communities, community space, and indigenous ancestral homelands!
This fight extends beyond treaty boundaries and artificial so-called “state boundaries”… This is a fight for all life and mother earth, especially against corporations! It must also be acknowledged that in the past, in conjunction with recent fake promises from “police,” their work has NOT contributed to the end of MMIW; this is something we must do as grassroots communities!
We need to honor women, womxn, and two spirits, trans, elders, all life and the children of the next seven generations! Our every-day work must reflect this!
As a cisgender woman of South Asian Indian descent who has decided to make a career in the environmental space, I often get asked to discuss challenges faced by people with marginalized identities in the environmental and conservation space. A part of me gets it: Black womxn, Indigenous womxn, and womxn of color (BIWOC) in particular do face some challenges. But viewing inclusion and equity as a challenge, rather than an opportunity, is where the environmental movement often stumbles and fails.
True, BIWOC are underrepresented in mainstream environmental organizations, and particularly in the Big Green sector (check out data from Green 2.0). And notwithstanding the mainstream environmental movement’s push to recruit BIWOC into entry level positions, we continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions.
The recruitment, retention, promotion, and engagement of BIWOC can seem daunting to mainstream environmental groups. But the reality is quite different. We are not a challenge; we are an opportunity. And the opportunity lies in reimagining what the “environmental movement” is, and actively dismantling some of the barriers we face. So below are some common misperceptions about BIWOC and the environmental movement, and ways organizations with resources and power can work to change the paradigm.
“BIWOC are not involved in environmentalism.”
Though well-intentioned, this statement amounts to erasure of the efforts of BIWOC throughout history to address environmental issues, as well as the work of BIWOC leaders of today. BIWOC have been on the front lines of environmental justice advocacy since the beginning — often because they and children of color are disproportionately impacted by environmental harm. Here I think of Dolores Huerta and womxn delegates at the First National People of Color Environmental Summit in 1991. BIWOC continue to lead organizations that connect communities in meaningful ways to their environment. Here I think of Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, Jaylyn Gough of Native Women’s Wilderness, and Jolie Valera of Indigenous Women Hike, among others. BIWOC were pivotal in important environmental events in history as well as in shaping the environmental ethos that mainstream organizations embrace. Here I think of Zilpa White, a freed slave who lived independently on Walden Pond prior to Henry David Thoreau, who had no choice but to live “off the grid,” and who actually served as an inspiration to Thoreau (for more information, read “Black Walden”).
“BIWOC should reclaim their space in the environmental and public lands movement. After all these lands are all of ours.”
This statement has been a rallying cry of the public lands conservation sector, which has been clamoring to involve more people of color in their work because the votes of the growing majority are pivotal to their advocacy efforts. But this statement constitutes a different kind of erasure, one that perpetuates colonialism by erasing the centuries of genocide, removal, dispossession, assimilation, and dehumanization of Indigenous people by the US government and White settlers in service of creating public lands (among other things). This means that I (as a non-Indigenous womxn) don’t use a possessive narrative around public lands. This means that I refrain from using the term “people of color” in a sweeping and simple way to refer to an entire group of people as if they are a monolith. There is so much diversity amongst us. And this also means I need to acknowledge settler colonialism and support Indigenous peoples.
“As one of few BIWOC in this movement, you should serve on a panel to speak to ways we can diversify our movement and become more culturally relevant.”
This one is tough because I have indulged this request often. But then again, I make my living from doing this work. Other BIWOC, especially those who are committing their time to supporting their own communities, are often pressured into speaking for “their people,” which can be oppressive on many fronts. First, it feels tokenizing to be asked to speak simply because of our identities. Second, it feels as if we’re asked to speak for an entire group of people simply because we all share an identity. And finally, my colleagues are asked to speak but often not compensated or supported in return.
“We’ll give you funding once you create a theory of change, a logic model, show you’ve applied for 501(c)(3) status, and create world peace.”
Ok that last piece was facetious, but the point is that organizations of color receive disproportionately less funding than white-led organizations, and BIWOC-led organizations even less. Ironically, studies show that the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs are BIWOC, who are bucking the system and establishing their own organizations to do the work of community engagement and equity that the mainstream environmental movement has struggled to make happen. Logic models, theories of change, flow charts, and business plans are all hallmarks of a dominant culture that is attached to linear thinking and frameworks and documents and research (I find this piece on White Supremacy culture helpful in unpacking this one). As long as foundations and grantors continue to make funding contingent upon organizations jumping through this many hoops, BIWOC will continue to be underfunded.
“Can you speak to women’s experiences in the environmental movement? But don’t talk about race: We’re just interested in talking about women.”
Equity and inclusion efforts in the environmental space are siloed. There are initiatives and programs for women, for people of color, for people in the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized identities. But the reality is that we don’t walk through the world with just one identity, or one marginalized identity. As a woman of color, I cannot just speak to the experience of being a woman because those experiences are inextricably intertwined with my experience as a person of color. Intersectionality demands we recognize the way oppression is interconnected. For example, a heterosexual, Black, female-identified person may experience power and privilege differently than a queer, Black, female-identified person or a heterosexual, White, female-identified person. Activist Audre Lorde reminds us: “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
“You’re so articulate, put together, and professional. You’re a great fit for a senior level position.”
Those BIWOC who are rewarded in the mainstream environmental space through promotion, etc. are often rewarded because they possess one or more dominant identities or they’re able to code switch and change their behavior or appearance to access privilege. I credit part of my success to the fact that I was raised in an upper middle-class stable family environment, went to college and graduate school, assimilated early to “American” ways of being after my family immigrated here, and was able to practice my stoic demeanor after years of practicing law. A combination of anti-Blackness, respectability politics, and other oppressive structures has created a system in which only those BIWOC who play by certain rules are rewarded. If we don’t play by the rules, we’re either unprofessional looking, inarticulate, angry, hard to understand, or (if you’re using code), “just not a great fit for the position.”
At this point, you might be feeling guilty (“I’ve said some of these things!”) angry (“Who is this lady purporting to tell me what to do?”) or sad (“I’ll never get this right. I’m going to give up.”). I’ll ask you all to lean into these uncomfortable feelings for a bit and process through them, and come out the other end with a plan to take one of more of the misperceptions above and flip the script. There is so much opportunity to better engage and include BIWOC.
The post How the Environmental Movement Can Better Engage Women of Color appeared first on Truthout.
2018 Solidarity Economy Webinar Series
Friday, October 12, 2018 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (PDT)
In our fourth of five webinars, our speakers will talk about converting legacy businesses into cooperatives and the various ways micro businesses can cooperate.
Shevanthi Daniel-Rabin, Democracy at Work Institute
Shevanthi (Shev) is passionate about the intersection of sustainable business and economic development. Her work spans over fifteen years in community and labor organizing, and strategic capacity building with nonprofit and small businesses. She previously served as Lead Manager of Worker Cooperative Initiative at Pinchot University - Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, and also helped develop a Cooperative Management Certificate program at Pinchot University. Shevanthi has managed and implemented large-scale labor organizing and worker justice campaigns with SEIU1199 NW, and programs centered on civil rights and social justice leadership, in rural and urban centers across the country, as well as solidarity work in South Africa, Nicaragua and Ethiopia. Shevanthi is also a co-founder of the O’Dell Education Center, a nonviolence direct action and leadership academy in Washington State, owned and operated by the Institute for Community Leadership. She is also Executive Board member at the Center for Women in Democracy, strengthening women's capacity and leadership in public and private sector. Shevanthi has an MBA in Sustainable Business from Pinchot University and BA in History and Anthropology from University of Washington.
Soyun Park, Micro Business Network
Soyun is an organizer, a trainer, an organization builder and a movement strategist. She has over 25 years of experience with youth and community organizing in Black and Brown communities to affect local, state, and national policy change on racial and economic justice issues and immigrant rights issues.Over the last few years, Soyun has been focused on community economic development, working with owner operator micro businesses fighting predatory development in DC. A natural ally of neighborhood residents and workers, she has mobilized micro business owners in support of progressive worker policies, against public utility rate increases, and to push the largest electric holding company in the US to provide sustainable alternatives. She is also working in Baltimore with Korean owned liquor storeowners and the surrounding Black communities to identify solutions to city policies that perpetuate anti-Blackness and racial triangulation. She grew up in this country as the daughter of an immigrant shop owner and brings this experience into her political and organizing work to make an impact. She lives East of the River in DC with her two beautiful children.
Go to the GEO front page
[T]his group of citizens from all sectors of the metro concluded that only a focus on systemic and structural change will have the desired result. “Programs are critically important; however, they generally deal with the symptoms of problematic, complex systems and structures”—not with the embedded policies, perspectives and practices that are at the heart of Charlotte’s mobility crisis.
Although both Project L.I.F.T. and Read Charlotte are among the 17 grantees selected by Bank of America and Albemarle for the combined $20 million, the list represents a series of investments in individual programs and organizations rather than a strategic investment in changing systems and structures as the Opportunity Task Force recommended.
How were these grantees selected? Bank of America’s spokesperson says both companies looked at each nonprofit’s long-term goals, data-based track records, and adaptability, among other factors. Albemarle’s spokesperson explained, “I did extensive interviews with private and non-private foundations and organizations….We want to make sure we have control over where those donations go. We want to leverage those dollars. Then, we want to give a platform for volunteerism.”
Personal connections also had a role to play. The wife of Albemarle’s CEO is the co-founder of one of the grant recipients—the Carolina Youth Coalition opened its doors in Charlotte in January 2018 and is modelled after a similarly named program in Baton Rouge, the former home of Albemarle. Vision to Learn is co-chaired by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl and his wife.
Can corporate philanthropy play a decisive role in moving Charlotte from its dead-last ranking for economic mobility? As Rick Cohen noted in NPQ in 2013, “Nonprofits have to ask themselves which is more important: the volunteerism and philanthropy offered by corporations…or their business practices relating to labor rights, public health and the environment?” Add predatory lending to that list and Bank of America’s contribution to our nation’s recent record on economic mobility clearly goes in the red.—Debby Warren
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Emergency International Peoples' Tribunal
Saturday - October, 27 - 9 am
715 W. 179 St. - New York City - A Train to 181st
Go to the GEO front pagefile upload: 18oct27-new-2up-bilingualcorrected.pdf
A new report from the United Nations’ climate panel warns humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate global warming and limit the scope of global catastrophe. Otherwise, millions will be imperiled by increasing droughts, floods, fires and poverty. The sweeping report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urges immediate and unprecedented changes to global policy in order to keep global warming at a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. We speak with Kevin Anderson, Zennström professor in climate change leadership at the Centre for Environment and Development Studies at Uppsala University and chair of energy and climate change at the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester in Britain. He says that the IPCC report fails to hold the world’s highest emitters accountable and argues a “Marshall Plan” for climate change is necessary to save the planet from destruction. “About 70 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide [come] from about 20 percent of the world population. … When we try to address climate change and reduce our emissions by focusing on all 7.5 billion people, I think it misunderstands where the actual responsibility of emissions resides,” Anderson says. “We’re not developing policies that need to be tailored to that particular 20 percent.”Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. In Central America, at least 13 people have died after torrential downpours from Hurricane Michael hit Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, causing major flooding and landslides. The monster hurricane is expected to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 storm Wednesday, with Florida Governor Rick Scott declaring a state of emergency in 35 counties, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declaring a state of emergency for the entire state.
Florida is preparing for the massive storm as a new report from the United Nations climate panel warns humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe. This is UN meteorological agency chief Petteri Taalas.
PETTERI TAALAS: There is extreme urgency, and countries giving their pledges after the Paris Agreement and so far the progress hasn’t been good enough that we would move towards 1.5 or two degrees target. So there is clearly a need for much higher ambition level to reach even two degrees target. So we are more moving towards three to five at the moment.
There are some estimations—what is the difference between 1.5 degree and two degree. And one of the major issues is that there would be 420 million people less suffering because of climate change if we would be able to limit the warming to 1.5 degree.
Already the emissions that we have emitted to the atmosphere means that this negative trend will continue for the coming decades. So that’s going to happen and that means a growing amount of disasters and challenges to climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: The IPCC report lays out several possible pathways to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, including transitions in land use and transportation systems and the adoption of future technologies, including removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to the report, global net carbon emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero around 2050. On Monday, President Trump traveled to Orlando, Florida, but made no mention of climate change or the new United Nations landmark report.
For more, we’re joined by Kevin Anderson. He is Professor in Climate Change Leadership at the Centre for Environment and Development Studies at Uppsala University. He is also Chair of Energy and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester in Britain. Dr. Anderson, welcome back to Democracy Now! I wanted to ask you first about this report as this monster hurricane goes through Latin America and bears down on Florida and Alabama.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, the report makes very clear that between 1.5 degrees centigrade of warming and two degrees centigrade of warming, we will expect to see more extreme weather conditions, which indeed is why many of the poorer parts of the world asked the scientific community to actually investigate what are the actual differences between impacts at 1.5 and two degrees. And of course, two degrees was the previous threshold that we were all apparently aiming for, but as has come out from the report, it is very clear that there are a whole suite of impacts that are much worse at two degrees centigrade than 1.5, and that these impacts will primarily hit poorer and more climate-vulnerable communities around the world.
So it’s a very important report in terms of understanding the impacts of climate change and making clear that we must aim, really, for 1.5 rather than two degrees, though as we will probably discuss later, I think even two degrees isn’t looking very hopeful now.
AMY GOODMAN: You write in your response to this landmark UN report that climate change is ultimately the responsibility of a few high emitters. Explain who they are.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, just to put some numbers on this, about half of global emissions arise from the activities in just about 10 percent of the world’s population, and about 70 percent of all global emissions of carbon dioxide come from about 20 percent of the world population. And very closely, the emissions relate to the wealth or the income of the citizens. So a professor like myself will be a relatively high emitter. Typically professors live in large houses and have a relatively large car. They’ll travel quite often. Some of them I know would have second homes. Some of them use business flights. They’ll consume lots of goods. So it does correlate quite closely with income.
So my concern here is that when we try to address climate change and reduce our emissions by focusing on all 7.5 billion people, I think it misunderstands where the actual responsibility for the emissions reside, and therefore, we’re not developing policies that need to be tailored to that particular 20 percent.
So many people listening to your show now in the US or elsewhere in the world will be medium to low emitters. And to them, yes, it’s important they make some changes. But there will also be people listening who the show who are very high emitters. It is those of us that really the policies needs to aim at, to drive the emissions out of our lifestyles. And we must make sure in doing that we don’t impoverish people who already are struggling with the current economic system.
AMY GOODMAN: Who are the highest carbon emitters, Dr. Anderson?
KEVIN ANDERSON: [laugh] The highest carbon emitters? Well, they’re going to be the very wealthiest in this world. From a climate point of view, when you hear the Al Gores and the DiCaprios talking about climate change and you look at their carbon footprint, they will be many thousands of times more than an average African, and many hundreds of times more, probably, even than many Americans. So the very wealthy are the very high emitters.
But also I think a professor like myself, senior lecturers in universities, the people who are more what we like to see as senior — the language we use — senior in our organizations, whether that’s in companies or in the public or indeed the private sector — these people will be the high emitters. I won’t make any comment on journalists, but certainly some of the journalists I am familiar with, they are also very high emitters. So it is that upper echelons of society.
AMY GOODMAN: And in terms of countries?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Oh, in terms of countries, well, the biggest emitter now is China, followed by the US. In both of those countries, of course, there’s a big difference between the high emitters within that country and the low emitters within that country. So the two big emitting countries, though, are the US and China, and then obviously shortly followed by the European Union.
AMY GOODMAN: So can you talk about what the US is facing right now? This monster hurricane hitting the Panhandle. If you look at weather reports — and the networks are, at a time like this — increasingly take up more and more news time are the weather reports, because whether we are talking about wildfires in California or these monster storms in the Carolinas and now possibly hitting Florida and Alabama — Alabama, the whole state has been called a state of emergency — there is almost no mention by meteorologists — and I’m not talking even Fox; I’m talking MSNBC and CNN — of the connection between these increasingly violent storms and climate change. Is there one, and can you explain it?
KEVIN ANDERSON: There certainly is a connection. What we have done by putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is we have made the atmosphere warmer. In other words, we have put a lot more energy into the atmosphere. That energy will play out in terms of a whole suite of different more extreme weather conditions.
Now, whether this particular hurricane is caused by climate change is impossible to say, but what is often the case is that we are exacerbating or increasing the power in these hurricanes, in these extreme weather events. And this what we call the fancy language of attribution, where we are trying to say, “Is this event a climate change event?” — we’re getting better with understanding that. And certainly there’s quite a lot of evidence now to suggest that some of the more recent severe weather conditions we’ve seen have been seriously exacerbated by the additional warming that we have put into the atmosphere from our burning of fossil fuels and the release of carbon dioxide.
So whilst I can’t comment on this particular hurricane and say, “This hurricane was caused by climate change,” the severity of this hurricane and the severity of some of the other events that we’ve seen in recent years certainly has been exacerbated by issues of climate change, by our burning of fossil fuels, and the meteorologists should be making that clear link when they’re discussing these issues during the weather forecast within the US.
AMY GOODMAN: You talk about what’s needed, Professor Anderson. The report says there is no documented historic precedent for the scale of changes required. You have talked about a Marshall plan. What do you mean, a new Marshall plan?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, the Marshall plan was the deliberate strategy after the Second World War to try and reconstruct Europe after it had been obviously very severely bombed and destroyed both institutionally but mostly physically during the war. So I’m saying that that is probably the nearest metaphor, analogy we have to the scale of the challenge that we actually face to decarbonize, to shift away from a fossil fuel-based energy system to a zero-carbon energy system, and to do that within the wealthy parts of the world really within about two decades, and probably three or three and a half decades for the slightly poorer parts of the world.
So we’re not going to do that through small price mechanisms, through just tweaking the markets. It is going to require strategic intervention by governments to make the necessary rates of change. Now that sounds initially very challenging, and certainly it will be. But I think there is also a — there is a positive narrative behind this in that this transition, this transformation to a zero-carbon energy system will come with lots of job opportunities, long-term secure job opportunities, not just in building low-carbon power stations, but in the massive electrification program that will be necessary in retrofitting — in other words making our existing building infrastructure, which we will still be using for the next 20, 30, 40 years — to make that building infrastructure suitable for the 21st century, so you require much less energy to heat it or to cool it, and it is a much safer environment to be in as the climate continues to change, which it undoubtedly will. Even if we stopped emissions today, we will still see some ongoing climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: You have criticized the IPCC for constraining its policy advice to fit neatly within the current economic model. Can you explain? I mean for some, to have a landmark report like this is simply critical because we live in a country in the United States where the president proudly denies climate change, calls it a Chinese hoax. And so to have any kind of report like this — but you are a critic of the report in some respects.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Certainly. Whilst I think it is a really good report in trying to understand the impacts between 1.5 and two degrees centigrade of warming, when it comes to what we have to do about it, I think again, it runs scared of really being very honest. And given it is effectively a scientific report, I think our role as scientists and as academics is to tell it like it is, not to color it or sweeten the pill to make it more attractive.
So my comments here — and it’s not just with this report. It has really repeatedly come out at the IPCC. So whilst we’re quite direct and honest about the impact side, when it comes to what we have to do about this, we run scared. We don’t want to scare the politicians or the public. We don’t want to move away from this, of the energy systems that we have today, so we always try to broadly sort of massage the status quo, so incremental changes, if you like.
And what I’m saying is that actually when you really look at the numbers behind the report, look at the numbers the science comes out with, then we’re talking about a complete revolution in our energy system, and that is going to beg very fundamental questions about how we run our economies. And again, you can turn around and say, “Well, that seems just far too removed from the current economic system we have.” But we have to remember it has only been 10 years now since the banking crisis and many parts of the world are still suffering the repercussions of that banking crisis. So the current economic framework has struggled within its own remit, if you like.
So I think this has been a real opportunity, which we are now losing, to reshape that economy to an economy that’s suitable for society, not as a society that’s suitable for the economy. And I think the policymakers or the academics have just run scared of this, of being honest about what our numbers tell us about the rates of change that we require and how we have to move the productive capacity of our society from building second homes for professors or private jets or private yachts or large four-wheel drive cars — moving from that to building public transport, electrification, improved homes for everyone. So it’s a shift of that productive capacity, the resources and the labor from the — if you like, the luxury for the 20 percent — to the essential low-carbon infrastructure for all of us.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Anderson, the effect of Trump pulling the US out of the Paris agreement? We just had a segment on Brazil. The front runner Jair Bolsonaro, who our guest called an open fascist, an extremely far right-wing candidate, has promised that he will pull out of the Paris Agreement as well and would abolish Brazil’s Ministry of Environment, which environmentalists fear would lead to deforestation of the Amazon. Your thoughts on both Bolsonaro and Trump?
KEVIN ANDERSON: They are completely, from a scientific perspective — and I would also argue probably from a moral perspective — they are completely out of tune of what our analysis is saying. I also think we have to be very careful when we see these extreme figures — and both of these I think are certainly extreme figures — we have to remember that they are a little bit of noise on the system. The general trend line is more recognition that climate change is a serious issue. Even the poll data in the States shows this. I have not seen data from Brazil, so I’m not sure. So we are seeing climate change events and people are thinking this is an important issue.
Because some of our — and perhaps not always the brightest people who are leading our countries and can’t understand that or think that they have a political base they have to appeal to who does not want to hear that message, I think the rest of us should not run scared of them. We just have to redouble our efforts. And indeed, when President Trump decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement, which of course he can’t do yet anyway but plans to, then the Chinese and the French stepped forward and said, “Well, we will try and make some extra effort to compensate.” And we also see in the US many mayors saying actually climate change is still an important issue. So the US is not a dictatorship. Trump cannot dictate what the population of the US is going to do. Of course he is important and he is influential, but so are the mayors.
So it is incumbent on the rest of us who are more informed by the science, and I would argue with a more reasoned moral and progressive background to our analysis, it is up to us to redouble our efforts and make sure that we move in the right direction and not to run scared of the Trumps of this world. There are plenty of them. They will come and they will go, but the overall issue of climate change, the physics of climate change, is here to stay regardless of the ephemeral whims of the occasional president.
AMY GOODMAN: And in this last minute, what does the future look like? How bad can things get if we proceed on this course?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, the way things are going at the moment, I think it is quite reasonable to think we’re heading to about four degrees of centigrade warming across this century. That would be utterly devastating. Just remember, the difference between now and an Ice Age is about five degrees, so we’re talking about changes that would normally occur over probably tens of thousands of years occurring over a little more than 100 years. And 100 years in some respect sounds like a long time, but many of the people listening to this, their children will still be alive in 100 years, and certainly, their grandchildren will be. A hundred years is just tomorrow, really, in so many respects. And what we do today locks in the infrastructure.
AMY GOODMAN: And what would the world look like?
KEVIN ANDERSON: We will be seeing far more famine, drought, floods, changes in food patterns. I think we will probably start to see lot more tensions within communities, and that means then a lot more tension between communities. So we see even in — we look at Syria. Syria clearly wasn’t caused by climate change, but the 12 years of drought in that region was an exacerbating factor, and that’s with just one year of — one degree of warming.
As we head towards four degrees centigrade of warming, we’re talking about breaking down many of the ecosystems of the world that pollinate our crops, that make our air clean for us. So this is a different planet from the one in which we live. And the chaos that will ensue will be bad for our species, for humans, but also indeed of course the many other species around the planet. And that is why we have to do everything we can to hold to ideally two — two degrees centigrade — well, to hold for two degrees centigrade, and ideally aim for 1.5. I think that’s looking very challenging. So let’s do everything we can to keep the temperature as low as possible.
AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Anderson, we want to thank you for joining us, the Zennström Professor in Climate Change Leadership at the Centre for Environment and Development Studies, Uppsala University. Also Chair of Energy and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester in Britain, where he’s speaking to us now. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we will talk about nuclear weapons with the representative Beatrice Fihn of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. Stay with us.
The post We Need a “Marshall Plan” for Climate Change, Says Climate Expert appeared first on Truthout.
In a stunning upset that may radically alter the political landscape of Latin America, far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote in Sunday’s presidential election in Brazil in a far more decisive victory than expected. The former army officer has a long history of making racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments and has openly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship. He will now face Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers Party in a runoff on October 28. Haddad won 29 percent of the vote Sunday. Many are warning that the future of democracy in Brazil hangs in the balance. We speak with Maria Luísa Mendonça, director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil, who says Bolsonaro is a “fascist” and that his election would create “a very dangerous situation in Brazil.”Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
We begin today’s show in Brazil, where a far-right former army officer is moving closer to becoming the next president of the world’s fourth largest democracy. On Sunday, Jair Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote in a far more decisive victory than was expected. Because he didn’t hit 50 percent, he will now face Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party in a runoff on October 28th. Haddad won 29 percent of the vote Sunday.
Many critics of Bolsonaro warn the future of democracy in Brazil is now at risk. Bolsonaro has openly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985. He also has a long history of making racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments, once telling a female lawmaker she was too ugly to rape. He has encouraged police to kill suspected drug dealers. In April, he was actually charged with hate speech over his tirades. But Bolsonaro’s popularity has soared in recent weeks after he was stabbed while out on the campaign trail. On Sunday, he briefly spoke after casting his vote.
JAIR BOLSONARO: All of this has brought and awoken the people to the idea that Brazil can’t continue on the path to socialism. We don’t want to be tomorrow what Venezuela is today.
AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Jair Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party won unexpected victories across Brazil. In Brazil’s lower house, Bolsonaro’s party won 52 seats, up from just eight. It’s now the second largest party in the chamber. Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo received more votes than any Congressional candidate in Brazil’s history. Meanwhile, Brazilian voters ousted a stunning two-thirds of incumbents Sunday.
Jair Bolsonaro also directly benefited from the jailing of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who had been leading all presidential polls earlier this year. Lula has been in jail since April on what many consider trumped-up corruption charges. His handpicked successor, former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, now faces an uphill fight against Bolsonaro in the October 28th runoff. On Monday, Haddad traveled to meet with Lula in his cell and discuss strategy. Afterwards, he said he was ready for the next round of voting.
FERNANDO HADDAD: We are very excited for the second round, because the second round offers an opportunity that we didn’t have in the first round to debate the projects that each one of the remaining candidates advocate for the country. We will have an important opportunity to compare these two projects so that voters have the opportunity, in my opinion, that they didn’t have in the first round, of comparison.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, the Workers’ Party suffered major defeats in legislative races. Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff lost her bid for a Brazilian Senate seat, winning just 15 percent of the vote. We are joined right now by Maria Luísa Mendonça. She is director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil, joining us in our New York City studio. Welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about what took place on Sunday and the significance of Bolsonaro’s — not outright victory; he still has the runoff — but he got many more votes than was expected.
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: Yes. It’s a very dangerous situation in Brazil that I think is very important to monitor, because that could have an impact in the whole region. Like I said before, former President Lula — actually if he was able to run, he would probably win very easily. But there was a vacuum created because he was put in jail with charges of receiving a bribe, but actually there is no evidence that he received the bribe. So since the parliamentary coup against President Dilma Rousseff two years ago, we are in the situation of a limbo. We cannot consider that we have a democracy in Brazil right now. So Bolsonaro is the result of a series of attacks on democracy that started two years ago with the parliamentary coup against Dilma Rousseff.
AMY GOODMAN: So Dilma Rousseff is coup’ed out — she is forced out of the presidency — and then Lula, who decided to run for president, is imprisoned.
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: Exactly. We said that there was a coup because there was no evidence that she committed any crimes, but she was impeached anyway. And Bolsonaro at that time voted as a congressmember, voted for the impeachment in the name of the person who tortured her during the military dictatorship when she was in prison.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, he supported the impeachment in his honor?
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: Yes, because during the vote in Congress, most congressmembers voted in the name of the God, in the name of their family, and Bolsonaro voted in the name of the person who tortured Dilma during the military dictatorship.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Dilma Rousseff. I interviewed her in April here. She was ousted in 2016 in what she has described as a coup. I asked her about the rise of the far right.
DILMA ROUSSEFF: Yes, I can indeed. The far right in Brazil, like the far right everywhere, is anti-woman, anti-black, anti-indigenous persons, and it is in favor of ending all oversight. And they struggled for this. They want to end any oversight of labor work situations analogous to slavery that continue to exist in Brazil. They are full of prejudice and intolerance. And they believe that they can resolve the most complex problems using brute force of violence, open violence.
What happened in the vote in the impeachment process that I suffered—well, legislator Bolsonaro cast his vote paying tribute to the military dictatorship and torture, and the torturer, whose name was Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra. In casting his vote, he paid tribute to this man who was a torturer in São Paulo. And he was recognized in all of the processes of truth and justice that unfolded in Brazil. He said the following to pay tribute to someone who brought terror to President Dilma Rousseff. A person who is capable of doing an impeachment proceeding to justify his vote in this manner is a person who sows hatred. He spread hatred because he only understands one language, the language of violence.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Dilma Rousseff, the former Brazilian President who was impeached. I was speaking to her when she was at University of California Berkeley. Maria Luísa Mendonça, she describes Bolsonaro. If you can talk more about Bolsonaro’s history and exactly what he represents?
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: Yeah. He represents the sector of the military that is openly fascist. Like I said before, he talks about raping women openly. He said that he would rather have a dead son than a gay son. He praises the military dictatorship. He said that he will give the police — the police should be free to kill. So it’s a very —
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to him in his own words, a 2013 interview with — then, well, he was Congressman Jair Bolsonaro — on BBC.
JAIR BOLSONARO: I went into battle with the gays because the government proposed anti-homophobia classes for the junior grades. That would actively stimulate homosexuality in children from six years old. This is not normal. Your culture is different to ours. We are not ready for all of this in Brazil, because no father would ever take pride in having a gay son. Pride, happiness, celebrate if his son turns out gay? No way.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Jair Bolsonaro, the frontrunner in Brazil. Also, as you said, told a congresswoman she was too ugly to rape.
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: Exactly. Yeah. What happens now also is there is a lot of media manipulation. Since the impeachment of President Dilma two years ago, there is constant attacks on the PT, on the Workers’ Party. It was almost like all mainstream media in Brazil is like Fox News. There is no alternative. And also now during the campaign, Bolsonaro started a campaign of fake news, especially on WhatsApp, that is not controlled. For example, Facebook has closed several accounts that were spreading fake news against Fernando Haddad and against the candidate for vice president, Manuela. Also, Steve Bannon is one of the advisors for Bolsonaro. So there’s a lot of misinformation and manipulation.
AMY GOODMAN: In August, Jair Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo posted a photo on Twitter of him with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Eduardo Bolsonaro wrote “It was a pleasure to meet STEVE BANNON, strategist in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. We had a great conversation and we share the same worldview…and we are certainly in touch to join forces, especially against cultural Marxism.” The significance of what Eduardo himself — Jair’s son?
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: Yes, exactly. Well, I think that it’s also important to understand that the media in Brazil is portraying Fernando Haddad, the progressive candidate, as far-left, but when he was the mayor of São Paulo, actually what he did was he built several daycares and more than 30 hospitals and he tried to make the traffic in the city better, for example, having infrastructure for bikes. When he was ministry of education under the Lula administration, he created more than 18 new federal universities, more than 300 new campuses, university campuses, and there was much more incentive and fellowships for education at all levels. So, you know, he comes from an educational background. He doesn’t come from any type of extreme left background.
So what we have now is a very extreme fascist candidate running against a moderate candidate. And our hope now is that three other candidates, progressive candidates, have said that they would support Fernando Haddad now in the runoff elections in a few weeks. So hopefully, between now and then, they will be able to —
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that could make up the difference in the runoff?
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: I think so, because those progressive candidates together will probably get about 20 percent of the votes, and if they are able to convince people that this is a dangerous path — the challenge is how do we deal with media manipulation. Not just mainstream media, but the manipulation on social media.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Noam Chomsky who just recently went to Brazil. He met with Lula in prison, and when he came out, Chomsky condemned Brazil’s right-wing media.
NOAM CHOMSKY: We have just had the great privilege of spending an hour with Lula, and one of the points that he emphasized was that during his entire tenure in office, there was just a constant flood of attacks from all of the media. Constant. Thousands of attacks from every direction, which of course confuses and undermines public opinion. So the answer to your question is, something is needed to counter the concentrated power of right-wing media, which particularly in Latin America just overwhelms everything.
AMY GOODMAN: That is the world-renowned linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky. As we wrap up and leading into this runoff, the significance of the media in shaping popular opinion in Brazil?
MARIA LUÍSA MENDONÇA: That’s very important, because during the administration of Dilma Rousseff, just an example, unemployment rate was 4 percent, and now it is 15 percent. So of course, you know, there is an economic crisis, but instead of looking at the future, the mainstream media plays this role of giving incentive to fear and that creates the space for fascist candidates like Bolsonaro.
So the question is how the — because the left-wing parties already announced they’re going to unite, be united for the second round. The question is how the neoliberal parties — let’s say the mainstream conservative parties that are implementing structural adjustment policies — how let’s say the mainstream conservative neoliberal parties would then — what decision they’re going to make. Because it’s a risky decision to support a far-right fascist candidate. So I think that’s the main question.
AMY GOODMAN: Maria Luísa Mendonça, we want to thank you so much for being with us, director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to Manchester, England, to speak with Dr. Kevin Anderson about a new UN climate report as a monster hurricane bears down on the Panhandle in Florida and the Alabama governor declares the whole state an emergency. Stay with us.
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These days, our global political alliances seem to shift with remarkable rapidity, as if we were actually living in George Orwell’s 1984. Are we at war this month with Oceania? Or is it Eastasia? In that novel, the Party is able to erase history, sending old newspaper articles down the Ministry of Truth’s “memory hole” and so ensuring that, in the public mind, the enemy of the moment was always the enemy. Today, there is one constant, though. The Trump administration has made Muslims our enemy of the first order and, in its Islamophobia, is reinforced by an ugly resurgence of fascism in Germany, Italy, Hungary, and other European countries.
It’s hard today even to imagine that, in the late 1980s, the right-wing Christian Voice Magazine published a “candidate’s biblical scoreboard,” urging its readers (and potential voters) to rate their politicians by how “biblically” they cast their ballots in Congress. One key measure of this: Did that legislator support the anti-Communist Muslim jihadis in Afghanistan, a cause warmly supported by evangelist Pat Robertson in his 1988 presidential campaign? Now, attempting to appeal to twenty-first-century evangelicals, President Trump has announced that “Islam hates us.”
The kaleidoscope of geopolitics and Islamophobia is now spinning so fast that it should make our heads spin, too. At times, it seems as if Donald Trump is the anti-Ronald Reagan of the twenty-first century, idolizing former KGB operative Vladimir Putin, but seeing former US allies in the Muslim world like Pakistan as purveyors of “nothing but lies and deceit” — until, that is, with bewildering rapidity, he suddenly gives us the “good” (that is, oil-rich) Muslims again, willingly performing a sword dance with the Saudi royals, seemingly entirely comfortable with the scimitar of the Saracen.Islamophobes Galore
While the president oscillates between abusing and fawning over the elites of the Muslim world, his true opprobrium is reserved for the poor and helpless. His hatred of refugees uprooted by the horrific Syrian civil war, for instance, stems from his conviction that this population (predominantly women and children, as well as some men fleeing the fighting) might actually be adherents of the so-called Islamic State group (also known as ISIL, ISIS, or Daesh) and so part of the building of a secretive paramilitary force in the West. He’s even speculated that “this could be one of the great tactical ploys of all time. A 200,000-man army, maybe.”
This summer, he also tweeted: “Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!” And a day later claimed it had risen by 10%. Though immigrant communities can indeed produce some crime until they find their footing, the crime rate in Germany, despite the welcoming of two million immigrants in 2015 alone, has fallen to a 30-year low, as have crimes by non-German nationals.
Nor, of course, is there an army of terrorists the size of the active-duty forces of France or Italy among those hapless Syrian refugees. Still, that outlandish conspiracy theory may be part of what lay behind the president’s blatantly unconstitutional 2015 call for a “total and complete shut-down” of Muslims coming to the United States. Consider it a great irony, then, that some significant part of the turmoil in the greater Middle East that helped provoke waves of refugees and an Islamophobic backlash here and in Europe was, at least in part, the creation of this country, not Muslim fundamentalists.
The Islamophobes like to argue that Islam is an inherently violent religion, that its adherents are quite literally commanded to such violence by its holy scriptures, the Qur’an. It’s a position that, as I explain in my new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires, is both utterly false and ahistorical. As it happens, you would have to look to far more recent realities to find the impetus for the violence, failed states, and spreading terror groups in today’s Greater Middle East. Start with the Reagan administration’s decision to deploy rag-tag bands of Muslim extremists (which al-Qaeda was first formed to support) against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. That set in motion massive turmoil still roiling that country, neighboring Pakistan, and beyond, decades after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Of course, al-Qaeda notoriously blew back on America. Its September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington were then used by American neoconservatives in the administration of George W. Bush — some of whom had served in the Reagan years, cheering on the American-backed Afghan fundamentalists, as well as their Arab allies — to set the United States on a permanent war footing in the Muslim world. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, promoted on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein’s government supported al-Qaeda, kicked off a set of guerrilla insurgencies and provoked a Sunni-Shiite civil war that spread in the region.
Hundreds of thousands would die and at least four million people, including staggering numbers of children, would be displaced over the years thanks to George W. Bush’s boondoggle. The al-Qaeda franchise ISIL (formed initially as al-Qaeda in Iraq in the wake of the US invasion) arose to expel American troops there. Ultimately, its militants made inroads in neighboring Syria in 2011 and 2012 and the US allowed them to grow in hopes of putting pressure on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
As is now all too clear, such policies created millions of refugees, some of whom streamed towards Europe, only to be greeted by a rising tide of white Christian bigotry and neo-Nazism. There’s no way to measure the degree to which America’s wars across the Greater Middle East and North Africa have, in fact, changed our world. When, for instance, British Prime Minister Tony Blair signed on to Bush’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, how could he have foreseen that he was helping set off events that would result in a British withdrawal from the European Union (a decision in which anti-immigrant sentiment played an outsized role) — and so the diminishment of his country?
Having helped spread extremism and set in motion massive population displacements, Western elites then developed a profound fear of the millions of refugees they had helped chase out of the Middle East. Executive Order 13769, President Trump’s abrupt January 2017 visa ban, which created chaos at American airports and provoked widespread protests and court challenges — many of its elements were, however, ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court — appears to have been premised on the notion that a Trojan Horse of Muslim extremism was headed for American shores.
In reality, the relatively small number of terrorist attacks here by Muslim-Americans (covered so much more intensively than the more common mass shootings by white nationalists) have most often been carried out by “lone wolves” who “self-radicalized” on the internet and who, had they been white, would have been viewed more sympathetically.
Still, realities of that sort don’t make a dent in the president’s agenda. In 2018, the Trump administration will likely only admit about 20,000 refugees, far less than last year’s 45,000, thanks to administration demands that the FBI carry out “extreme vetting” of all applicants without being given any extra resources to do so. Of the refugees admitted in the first half of this year, only about one in six was a Muslim, while in 2016, when 84,995 refugees were admitted, they were equally divided between Christians and Muslims.
On average, the US still admits a little more than a million immigrants annually, of which refugees are a small (and decreasing) proportion. Since 2010, more immigrants have come from Asia than any other area, some 45% of them with college degrees, which means that Trump’s very image of immigrants is wrong.
His ban on immigrants from five Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia) was largely symbolic, since they were generally not sources of significant immigration. It was also remarkably arbitrary, since it did not include Iraq or Afghanistan, where violent insurgencies and turmoil continue but whose governments host American troops. It does, however, include the relatively peaceful country of Iran.
Trump’s Muslim ban has broken up families, even as it harmed American businesses and universities whose employees (or in the case of colleges, students) have been abruptly barred from the country. The restrictions on immigration from Syria and Yemen are particularly cruel, since those lands face the most extreme humanitarian crises on the planet and the United States has been deeply implicated in the violence in both of them. Moreover, Iranians who do emigrate to the US are, for the most part, members of minorities or political dissidents. In fact, no nationals from any of those five banned states have committed lethal acts of terrorism in the United States in the last 40 years.
The Islamophobia of President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and others in the administration, aided and abetted by the megaphone that Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News offers, has had a distinct impact on public opinion. Attacks on Muslim-Americans have, for instance, spiked back to 2001 levels. A recent poll found that some 16% of Americans want to deny the vote to Muslim-Americans, 47% support Trump’s visa restrictions, and a majority would like all mosques to be kept under surveillance. (A frequent, if completely false, talking point of the Islamophobes is that Muslims here have a single ideology and are focused on a secret plan to take over the United States.) You undoubtedly won’t be surprised to learn that such unhinged conspiracy theories are far more prevalent among Republicans than Democrats and independents.
Similarly unsurprising is the fact that Americans in the Trump era give a lower favorability rating to Muslim-Americans (a little over 1% of the US population) than to virtually any other religious or ethnic group (though feminists and evangelicals are runners-up). By a spread of about 20 points, they believe that Muslim-Americans are both more religious than Christian Americans and less likely to respect the country’s ideals and laws. They slam Muslims for according women and gays low status, though a majority of Muslim-Americans say that homosexuals should be accepted in society, a belief that Muslim-American women hold in the same percentages as the rest of the American public. As for those women, they are among the best educated of any faith group in the country, suggesting extremely supportive families.
In reality, Muslim-Americans are remarkably well integrated into this country and have committed little terrorism here. In the past decade and a half, on average, 28 Muslim-Americans a year were associated with acts of violent extremism out of a population of 3.5 million and most of those “acts” involved traveling abroad to join radical movements. Muslim-American extremists killed 17 people in 2017, a year in which white gunmen killed 267 Americans in mass shootings.Changing Bogeymen
The Islamophobia that Donald Trump has made his own arose in the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, once the bogeyman of Communism was removed from the quiver of the American Right. The 1990s were hard on the Republican Party and its plutocrats (with a popular Clinton in the White House), and on the arms manufacturers facing a public increasingly uninterested in foreign adventurism with no sense of threat from abroad. The Pentagon budget was even briefly cut in those years, producing what was then called a “peace dividend.” (It wasn’t.) And though it’s now hard to imagine, in 1995 the United States was not involved in a conventional hot war anywhere in the world.
In this no-longer-so-new century, the Republican Party, like the Trump presidency, did, however, find the bogeyman it needed and it looks remarkably like a modernized version of the rabidly anti-Communist McCarthyism of the 1950s. In fact, the endless demonization of Muslims may be less a cudgel to wield against the small Muslim-American community than against Democratic opponents who can be lambasted as “soft on terrorism” if they resist demands to demonize Muslims and their religion.
In my own state of Michigan, Elissa Slotkin, an acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama years and a former CIA analyst, is running as a Democrat in the 8th District against Congressman Mike Bishop. Slotkin played a role in developing the anti-ISIL strategies that Trump adopted when he came into office. Nonetheless, our airwaves are now saturated with pro-Bishop ads smearing Slotkin, a third-generation Michigander, for her supposed involvement in President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and so for being little short of a Shiite terrorist herself. Similarly, in San Diego, California’s 50th district, the scandal-ridden campaign of Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter (indicted for embezzling $250,000 in campaign funds) continues to broadly intimate that his opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Christian American of Palestinian and Mexican descent, is a Muslim Brotherhood infiltrator seeking to enter Congress.
Still, despite all the sound and fury from the White House, the US Muslim population continues to grow because of immigration and natural increase. Over the past 30 years, between 3,000 and 13,000 immigrants have arrived annually from Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, and a handful of other countries. Their governments are close geopolitical allies of the US and to interdict their nationals would be politically embarrassing, as Trump discovered when he attempted to include Iraq on his list of banned countries and was persuaded to change his mind by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
Of course, not all Americans share Trump’s bigotry. Two-thirds of us actually disapprove of politicians engaging in hate speech toward Muslims. Some 55% of us believe that Muslim-Americans are committed to the welfare of the country, a statistic that would break the 60% mark if it weren’t for evangelicals. Two Muslim-American politicians, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, won Democratic primaries in Detroit and Minneapolis and so are poised to become the first Muslim-American women in the House of Representatives.
Such an outcome would be one way in which Americans could begin to reply to the wave of Islamophobia that helped lift Donald Trump into office in 2016 and has only intensified since then. The decency of Middle America has certainly been tarnished, but as the polls indicate, not lost. Not yet anyway.
If you were to read about the United States of America from someplace else, you’d probably think it was a nation full of people who are gearing … Read the rest
The post Most of Us Are NOT Participating in the Hysterical Rage You See on the News appeared first on The Organic Prepper.
ICIJ has hundreds of members across the world. Typically, these journalists are outstanding in their countries and have won many national and global awards. Our monthly series, Meet the Investigators, highlights the work of these tireless journalists.
This month, we speak to Helena Bengtsson, the data editor at Sveriges Television, Sweden’s national broadcaster. Previously, she worked on The Guardian’s all-female data team, on top of crunching numbers for both the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers investigations. Follow her on Twitter here.You didn’t begin your career in journalism like many investigators do. In the early 90s, you were a software developer for some pretty niche industries. What were you tasked with?
My first job as a developer, I programmed using Pascal [an early programming language launched in 1970] and the second, longer one, where we did all the crazy stuff, I used BASIC. This was just as Windows was launched. IBM at that time actually launched an alternative to Windows called OS2, so they kind of tried to beat Microsoft. My last job before going to university, I worked using that operating system.
I was building programs for an airline company, so I made a program tracking work hours for pilots and flight attendants because they can’t fly after a certain amount of landings and time in the air. They need to rest, and every airline keeps track of that, so they don’t end up booking too many hotel nights, You want to optimize the time they stay at home, so you don’t have to pay extra.That’s what I like about data journalism, you can look for yourself. You don’t have to rely on a press release or a researcher or an organization. Helena Bengtsson Did that give you a headstart when it came to data journalism?
Well, I learned I wasn’t afraid of taking on a new programming tool, and I knew how programming worked. I don’t program a lot at my work now, but it helped when I got into journalism school and we were introduced to the concept of data journalism in 1994. It was very early, but I wasn’t afraid of it…because I know how computers and spreadsheets work. I think I had seen a spreadsheet back then, on Lotus 1-2-3, but we didn’t have email yet.
In 1996 and 1997, my internship bosses at SVT sent me to a NICAR boot camp at Columbia University. Ever since then I’ve had this unique knowledge. I saw that my fellow interns were struggling more, because they were sharing ground with established reporters, but there wasn’t anybody doing what I was doing.
In one way, I was that strange girl in the corner of the room using Excel, but nobody really understood what I was doing. On the other hand, nobody was really competing with me either. And credit to my bosses, they left me alone.What tools do you use now at SVT?
I still spend 80 percent of my time in Excel, because I think it’s the best tool to get an overview of what you’re looking at. I don’t do data visualizations at all. I look for stories.
When I scrape, I’m very old-fashioned, and, people are going to laugh at this, but I use a very old fashioned tool called PERL, which has been abandoned now because everyone uses Python. I use PERL for scraping, and I use Postgres [an open source relational database management system] to store data if it’s a large database. We have a more visual journalism data team, so we actually have two data teams right now, and if you want to work on the data at the same time you put it in an SQL database [a collection of data structured in tables, such as PostgreSQL or MySQL].
I will never learn a tool for the sake of it. I will only learn a tool when I need it for a project. Until recently we had a really hard time getting maps in Sweden, so up to two or three years ago, I’d just use google maps or tableau to do simple data visualizations that help me see a pattern.So not too complex. How do you synthesize data stories?
You usually have a journalistic idea where you go find data for it, but you should always be very open, because sometimes that idea shows you something completely different.
When you have those big data sets I almost look at them as if I were interviewing a person. You get it and look at it like, what do we have here? Can we group things? How much data is there? What is it about?
Sometimes I just scroll through data just to see what pops out at me. Then I start asking questions through the data. It’s like when you meet an interesting person, and you might ask them a question, then you listen to the answer, and you ask the next question. It’s very seldom you have a dataset out of the blue. You most likely have some sort of journalistic idea.Related articles Your higher education stories for the Guardian caused quite a stir in the UK. You’ve also done prominent education analyses at SVT. What draws you to this topic?
I think it has something to do with the access to data. I think there’s a lot of data available for education, and it’s a subject matter that is very close to people.
Everyone has gone to school, a lot of people have kids in school or work in a school, so it’s a subject matter that lies close to people, and there’s a lot of great data there. Also, in almost every country, the school system isn’t fair. I haven’t yet found a country in which the school system is fair.
My uncle went to university, but other than him, I’m the first generation in my family to go to university, and for me, it’s really important that everyone who wants to level out those differences in school should be able to. That’s what school is about, but it’s also very clear when you look at data that it’s not.
You have schools that can’t take care of those people, that can’t raise the levels of those students, and that’s something I, over time doing these stories, have got engaged in and find to be really important.Where do you feel your work fits into the current information landscape when many distrust the media?
That’s what I like about data journalism. You can look for yourself. You don’t have to rely on a press release or a researcher or an organization that made a report. You can actually look for yourself, you can decide your own angle, or several angles if you want to do that, and you can decide your own agenda and what you want to do with that.
You can also break myths that go around. Many people are quick to believe what we call anecdotal evidence, which is not evidence at all.
Many years ago in Sweden, there was a reporter who wanted to prove there was a suburb that was very segregated. She said, there are only people with an immigrant background living in a valley and, on the other side, on a hill, only people who were born in Sweden and whose parents were born in Sweden. She called it the Swedish Hill and the Immigrant Valley.
I pulled the data on that because we have good geographical data in Sweden. You can go down to a block level in Stockholm. I saw the split was more 49 percent to 51 percent. So I said to her, that’s not true. It may look like that, but just because you’ve got black hair doesn’t necessarily mean you have an immigrant background.
You can’t really go out and look at people to make that judgment, you have to look at what the data says. She was really angry at me because that was her feeling. But I said we can’t talk about this like it’s a fact, because it’s not. Even though everyone says so, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.
That’s what I love about data journalism — you can go in and both break myths but also find out if it is true. You can have a feeling that the Home Counties [Editor’s Note: The Home Counties are the counties surrounding Greater London — typically populated by the upper-middle-class] or rich privileged white kids are overrepresented at the top universities in the UK, but it’s better if you can show them the numbers, because if you don’t, you can’t do anything about it.What issues are currently piquing your interest?
I want to explore the different conditions people have, not just kids but also adults. Recently, I was taken aback because, not only our conservative party but also the social democrats, which has always been a party from the left, were using very harsh words when it came to the asylum seekers in Sweden.
I was astounded. I’d been in the UK for three years, and I followed the news but you can’t follow everything, so I was really astounded when I got back. I think one of the things that we are forgetting, and this might sound old-fashioned, is that people come from different circumstances, that could be a lack of money, or language or culture. Sweden is a very equal place. We pay a lot of taxes, because you shouldn’t earn that much money and because schools are free, roads are free, all those kinds of things.
I think we are getting more, we call it a two-thirds society, where one third has everything and two-thirds have very little, and I find that very interesting. I’d like to look at that more, at demographic data.
One of the things I’ve thought about, I come from a small town, rural, I grew up on a farm out in the middle of nowhere, with a very small high school, and I’ve wondered, would I be able to do what I’ve done if I were brought up now? Would my teachers have encouraged me to do things? Is there a difference now? I think there is. It’s much harder today than it was when I was growing up to even out the different circumstances that we have, which I think is one of the things society should do.
So, that’s a bit old-fashioned, but that’s a story I want to look into once we get out of the elections.Anything on the technical side? In an interview with GIJN, you mentioned unstructured data (such as text or multimedia presentations that aren’t organized in a pre-defined data model such as a database or a spreadsheet) as the next frontier. What are you up to?
I would like to be better at getting data out of free text, to use scraping and programming to find patterns. For instance, court documents are just stored as PDFs in Sweden. What kind of stories could we do if we had access to a large quantity of those? Are there differences in judging or sentencing? Also working with the documents of the Panama and Paradise projects has made me think a lot about unstructured data and what could be made if we had more knowledge in processing text. But before anything else, I have to get through the Swedish election in September.
The post SVT’s Data Chief Helena Bengtsson seeks social justice through spreadsheets appeared first on ICIJ.
If the bruising battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court cemented one new truism of American politics in the Trump era, it is that Republicans have grown insatiable.
Since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory nearly two years ago, the president and his followers have suffered from a “sore winner” syndrome that finds them locked in a perpetual search for a fight in which they can declare themselves the true victims — even after a clear and dominant victory. Their complaints have only grown louder the further away from real-world harm they move.
Even after managing to lock in a conservative Supreme Court by confirming the least popular nominee since Robert Bork, Republicans have reveled in rubbing their victory in the faces of sexual assault survivors everywhere, apparently to gin up their base ahead of the midterm elections.
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, couldn’t bother to offer a decent explanation for why there has never been a female Republican on the committee in its 202-year history. The Republican men on the committee had to hire a “female assistant,” Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her Senate testimony.
After admitting that he and his chief of staff of 33 years failed to “get the job done,” Grassley pointed to the workload as a deterrent for women who would serve on the powerful committee.
“It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it,” he concluded.
He later added, after receiving widespread backlash, that “on average, any woman in the United States Senate, whether they’re on Judiciary or any other committee, probably works harder than the average man.”
But Republicans continued that flippant attitude towards women even after it became clear that the GOP had won the long-fought battle.
President Trump has mocked Ford’s testimony and portrayed Kavanaugh as “a man that was caught up in a hoax set up by the Democrats.” Apparently not satisfied with Kavanaugh winning a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, Trump called in to Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro to demand that alleged sexual assault survivors be criminally prosecuted for publicly accusing Kavanaugh.
“I think that they should be held liable,” he said of the women who he claimed made up “fabrications” about his nominee. “You can destroy somebody’s life.”
As with all of the outrageous antics that emanate from Trump, this sentiment has spread well beyond the president.
The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page, which the previous night had published an op-ed by Kavanaugh, ran the headline “Susan Collins Consents,” an implicit rape joke, after the Maine Republican announced her intention to support Kavanaugh. The hashtag #BeersforBrett began trending Saturday night after Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, tweeted an image of his congratulatory drink for Kavanaugh by gloating about the newest Supreme Court justice’s frat boy image:
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) October 6, 2018
“I think the roles were reversed: The slut whore drunk was Kavanaugh,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, spiking the football following a successful final confirmation vote on Saturday.
I’m not tired of winning……..Victory! pic.twitter.com/ZAhmFVh9LH
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 6, 2018
The ultimate goal of the conservative narrative is to create an atmosphere that depresses Democratic turnout, but it could also backfire and create more force behind the Blue Wave.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation may serve to undercut the “white men are the real victims” shtick that got Trump elected — at least for anybody outside his hardcore base. Pew Research Center is now reporting that 63 percent of women disapprove of how Trump is doing his job. According to a new Post/Schar School poll, in 69 House districts that Donald Trump or a Republican member of Congress won in 2016 by 15 points or more, women voters now favor the Democratic candidates by 54 to 40.
Of course, the crucial question to ask when presented with that kind of political data would be: Which women are we talking about?
In 2014, when Republicans won control of the Senate and grew their lead in the House, white college-educated women preferred a Democratic Congress by just 2 points. College-educated white women now prefer Democrats by a whopping 62 to 35 percent. Even more notably, 54 percent of independent women opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination, according to a NPR/Marist poll released last week. And a new CNN poll reports that 52 percent of all voters say they believe the women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct over the judge’s denials.
But as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the initial accusations against Kavanaugh were made public, Republicans look ready to just “plow” through whatever woman-powered resistance may be rising out there.
“I know I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’m told I should shut up, but I will not shut up,” Sen. Lindsey Graham defiantly shouted during his memorably heated “Braveheart” moment in defense of Kavanaugh. After an unprecedented prime-time swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, up for re-election in state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, tweeted that the “smears backfired”:
The smears backfired. #SCOTUSKavanaugh
— Dean Heller (@DeanHeller) October 8, 2018
All this GOP gloating is about one thing: driving turnout.
Midterms are about base turnout. Historically low turnout rates mean that pivotal elections are dominated by the most animated voters. Republicans have obviously calculated that their voters appreciate all this whining even in victorious times and that a sense of shared, collective victimhood can overcome the tangible rage of nearly all groups of women.
For a path of resistance for Democrats frustrated by Republicans’ antics, look to how Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota has handled her controversial decision on Kavanaugh. After her Republican challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer, criticized her “no” vote by dismissing #MeToo, led by sexual assault survivors, as a movement for the weak, Heitkamp doubled down by sharing her personal experience of assault and defending her vote in campaign ads.
The battle lines have already been drawn, so Democrats would be wise to own this loss as fuel. The midterms will ultimately be the lingering battle of 2016; a fight between the indignant losers and the sore winners.
I’ve always contended that Hillary Clinton’s campaign made its biggest strategic blunder when it decided not to explicitly link Donald Trump to the entire Republican Party. Writing about interviews with 10 lifelong Republican women who have left the GOP since the 2016 election, Politico’s E.J. Graff notes that “Trump alone didn’t push these women to shed their Republican labels; other GOP politicians’ unquestioning support for Trump did that. Several told me they were angry that an all-Republican government has become the party of fiscal waste, deficits, trade wars and rebates for the wealthy.”
Prior to the Kavanaugh fight, health care consistently ranked as the top concern of voters in polls. Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act was a big loss that had clearly depressed enthusiasm of the GOP base. Winning a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, even on the wounds of women — and especially on the wounds of the women apparently most turned off by the maneuver — may have given Republicans a short-term boost. In the end, it may cost them dearly.
The post Post-Kavanaugh, Republicans Throw Salt in Women’s Wounds appeared first on Truthout.
Nikki Haley Resigns as UN Ambassador | 09 Oct 2018 | Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has resigned, CBS News has confirmed, according to a senior administration source. President Trump has accepted her resignation, but he tweeted that a "big announcement" was coming at 10:30 a.m.
Good riddance: Trump accepts Nikki Haley's resignation as UN ambassador | 09 Oct 2018 | President Trump accepted [Deep State neocon] Nikki Haley's resignation as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Fox News confirmed Tuesday -- marking a sudden and unexpected end to the tenure of one of the administration's most prominent figures. Trump is expected to speak at the Oval Office at 10:30 a.m to address the resignation. It was not clear why Haley resigned, or why Trump accepted. Axios, which first reported the news, reported that Haley discussed her resignation last week when she visited Trump at the White House.
Surging towards its goal of 200,000 signatures since it was launched over the weekend, a petition calling for the impeachment of newly-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — just one among others circulating — has already garnered nearly 80 percent of its goal in just over two days.
“Kavanaugh has been credibly accused of sexual assault and lying under oath in 2004, 2006 and at least 30 times during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings,” reads the CREDO Action petition. “Perjury is an impeachable offense. The House Judiciary Committee should immediately investigate these accusations and work to remove Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court.”
As of this writing, the CREDO petition had gathered 158,887 signatures, but that number was quickly climbing.
ACTION NEEDED: We need you to raise your voice to impeach accused sexual predator and proven perjurer #BrettKavanaugh. Make a call and ask House members to use their power to #ImpeachKavanaugh: https://t.co/1BTPikUf9q #SaveSCOTUS #KavanaughLiedUnderOath pic.twitter.com/hldczLahUh
— CREDO Mobile (@CREDOMobile) October 9, 2018
“A majority of Americans opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and we believe a majority will ultimately support his impeachment as well,” Heidi Hess, the group’s co-director told NBC News in an interview.
And CREDO isn’t alone. Another citizen action group, Free Speech for People, is also pushing a petition — part of its ImpeachBrett.org campaign — in the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday and calling on the House of Representatives to immediately begin hearings to further explore the allegations of sexual assault, perjury, and Kavanaugh’s bringing of “disrepute” onto the judiciary.
Brett Kavanaugh MUST be impeached and removed from the bench. We are calling on @HouseJudiciary to launch immediately an impeachment investigation. Learn more here: https://t.co/mIWPpp3pRl #ImpeachBrett #StopKavanaugh pic.twitter.com/z610eBhGfg
— FreeSpeechForPeople (@FSFP) October 6, 2018
“This shouldn’t be controversial, but US Supreme Court justices should not be sexual assailants or perjurers,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, in a statement on Monday. “The evidence suggests that Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault in his youth, and continues to lie about it today — just as the White House emails reveal that he lied in his first confirmation process about receiving stolen documents. The Senate rushed through this process without taking the opportunity to conduct a real investigation of the serious charges against Kavanaugh. It’s not too late for the House of Representatives to demand answers, and if warranted after a full investigation, to impeach Kavanaugh.”
John Bonifaz, FSFP’s co-founder and president, added, “No one is above the law, not even a Supreme Court Justice.”
The post Organizers Say Kavanaugh Isn’t “Above the Law” as Petitions to Impeach Him Surge appeared first on Truthout.
Janine Jackson: September 15 marked ten years since the largest bankruptcy in US history, that of Lehman Brothers, triggering — or exposing — a crisis that cost millions of people their homes, their jobs and their financial futures, followed by a government bailout of the banks behind the damage. The admission in a New York Times op-ed by former Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner and former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke that they “certainly didn’t get everything right” seemed to pass for reflection in corporate media.
But more substantive conversations are happening, have been happening, elsewhere, among those for whom the 2008 crisis and the response to it highlighted not only the flaws in the current system, but alternative visions.
We’re joined now by Nathan Schneider. He’s a journalist and assistant professor of media studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of — among other titles — the new book Everything for Everyone: The Radical Tradition That Is Shaping the Next Economy, out now from Nation Books. He joins us by phone from Boulder. Welcome to CounterSpin, Nathan Schneider.
Nathan Schneider: Thank you. I’m glad to be on the show.
Timothy Geithner was asked at a recent press event about the hardest moment for him, personally, of the 2008 crisis, and he said it was, as reflected in his wife’s face across the breakfast table, dealing with “the gap between what we thought would provide the broadest benefit … and what people thought was fair and just.” For him, it seems that that gap was kind of a perception problem, and overcoming it was a PR effort that he and others, alas, failed at. In a recent piece for Vice, you think about what it might have looked like to acknowledge that gap as real, and respond to it. I wonder if you’d share a little bit of what you were getting at there.
I think it was really, more than anything else, an accountability gap. It’s internalized accountability, but it’s really stemmed from the ownership structures, and the design of some of the largest companies in our economy, the companies that were bailed out after the crash that they helped create. What that accountability means is these are companies, these large banks, that are owned and governed for the purpose of protecting the profits, especially, of large shareholders. So when hard decisions are being made at the companies about what to do — and then they decide how they’re going to lobby Washington, and people who have been trained and schooled in those companies, who hold posts in Washington, have to make decisions about what to do in a crisis like this — that accountability, consciously or unconsciously, is at the forefront, that they have to protect those investors above all, rather than, for instance, protecting the millions of people who lost their homes and their jobs as a result of that disaster.
And what’s exciting about this moment, and what I hope we can turn to as we veer into possibly another such crisis, is to recognize that we can actually shift that accountability.
There’s a long tradition in American economic history, and the economic history of the world, of cooperative enterprise, businesses owned and governed by the people they serve, exemplified by, for example, in the financial industry, credit unions, which are banks that are owned by the people whose money they hold and whose loans they carry. And these kinds of businesses behaved very differently in 2007 and 2008, and those should be the model of how we move forward, rather than simply doubling down on this backwards and very dangerous accountability problem.
It seems important to underscore that you’re not necessarily always talking about — or we’re not necessarily talking about — smoke-filled rooms and conspiracies and evil people. It really is about structures of accountability, and the way systems are set up.
Well, the values of cooperative work, of cooperative ownership, they aren’t new, even though we don’t hear about them every day. It’s almost like a hidden history.
That’s right. And sometimes there are smoke-filled rooms involved, you know. For instance, a picture that came into my mind as you were saying that, an old picture from the offices of the Associated Press. You know, that was a classic smoke-filled room. It was founded in the 1840s, founded as a cooperative of news agencies in New York City, operated very much like a cabal for a lot of its history. It was gradually forced, by a series of court decisions, to open up, and be at least a little more inclusive in its governance.
This is by no means a perfect organization, and one can point to its flaws in all sorts of ways, but one thing that it does is it behaves very differently than a lot of other news organizations today. It hasn’t fallen into the problems of polarization and temptations to fake news, and funny business with advertising and surveillance of its readers, that many other publications have done, because of its ownership structure, because, for polarization, it can’t go that way, because it’s owned by both the New York Times, Fox News and my local paper. So its ownership structure, even when there are smoke-filled rooms and even when people are flawed and so forth, the ownership structure forces it to behave with a certain kind of responsibility that other kinds of publications might be missing, when their incentive structure is toward that short-term return at all costs.
I want to draw you out on one point that I’ve seen you make. We’ve been encouraged, I think, to subtract racism from the financial crisis narrative, even as we have testimony of banks specifically targeting communities of color, for pushing these subprime mortgages, calling them “ghetto loans.”
But the flip side, if you will, is that groups, including Black Lives Matter, talk about alternative economic models, talk about collective ownership. But these connections in the media are obscured, between an antiracism conversation and an economic justice conversation. They get separated, and we don’t see that, in fact, folks are making those connections all the time.
Oh yeah, and those groups are doing a lot more than talking, and they have been for a long time. There’s a hidden history that runs through our social movements in this country — including labor movements, and civil rights and racial justice movements, immigrant rights movements and so forth — where we see the acts of resistance when they appear on the street, we see the protests, we see the conflicts with police, in the media much more than we see the large efforts to build alternative economies that work beneath them.
I spent the first ten years of this crisis covering resistance. And I had these mentors who had been involved in the civil rights movement and so forth; they were advising me on how to cover stories of resistance better. And then when I started getting interested in this cooperative tradition, I asked them, “So were you developing cooperatives too?”
And they said, “Yeah, of course, everywhere we went, we were developing black farmworker cooperatives, we were developing credit unions.”
You know, Martin Luther King tried to set up credit unions and was rejected charters, because he saw this as crucial to building the strength that’s required to resist.
And the Black Lives Matter policy platform, more recently, includes more than 40 references to cognates of the word “cooperation,” and that’s partly because it was written by longstanding activists and organizers in developing a strong, cooperative economy, who knew what they were doing. So this is a longstanding piece of our legacy of resistance movements in this country, something that we need to learn to tell the stories about better.
The Onion headline, “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Country Where This Happens,” about gun violence, is a painful joke about how we don’t see what we don’t see. And then we predicate things on the nonexistence of ideas that we’re just choosing to ignore.
“Single payer could never work!,” you know.
“Well, but what about these countries where it’s….”
“No, no, it could never work.”
How important is media in putting forward and sharing and disseminating alternative economic ideas (and that’s all kinds of media)?
Especially in a moment where media is not just something people are passively taking in, but it’s something that they’re engaging with and practicing, in the age of social media. As we engage with Facebook or Twitter or something, we are learning economic lessons, whether we know it or not.
And the more that we take for granted the notion that these are companies that should be controlled solely for the sake of investor returns, that they should be governed, as Facebook is, essentially as a kind of kingship, we’re learning those lessons.
And, actually, we really can organize these things differently. Both Facebook and Twitter have, at various times in their history, referred to themselves as utilities; they should be owned and governed like utilities. We look to models like Associated Press, or models like the rural electric utility cooperatives, where ratepayers of electric supply are the ones who own the companies that are providing their service. And the opportunity for this kind of model in our media is much greater than I think we allow ourselves to realize. The history demonstrates that this is possible. And the more we forestall these kind of models, the more we’re actually educating ourselves into thinking that there is no other way.
Let me just ask you, finally, this mid-September also marked the seven-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. For many, one of the most heartening, critical uprisings in recent memory.
I resent the way elite media ignored and misrepresented Occupy, but mostly the way they suggested that it was up to them to say what it meant, and when it was over, and then what did “we all” learn from it. What, for you, is the legacy or lasting impact of Occupy? How would you have folks place it in history?
I think it was a moment where, you know, a generation had just elected Barack Obama. There was a great deal of energy around that experience. And then very quickly, people [were] in the midst of this incredible cataclysm of the financial crisis, and Obama’s fairly modest capacity to bring about serious reform, it was a moment where people had to step back from the options that were being offered to them in electoral politics, and remind themselves what they were really seeking.
And that was part of why they were hard for the mainstream media, a lot of times, to acknowledge and understand, because they were not just choosing from among the options presented to them.
My book about Occupy Wall Street, Thank You, Anarchy, is a kind of close-up account of that process, that rationale, the reasoning for why people chose that kind of strategy rather than simply choosing from among certain choices of policies presented to them.
And this project on cooperatives really came out of that one. It was about a lot of those same people having to figure out how to live in this economy after the the protests died down. They turned to cooperative enterprise as a strategy for creating options that they could really live with and really thrive with, rather than simply entering into the kinds of options that the investor-driven economy was offering them.
We’ve been speaking with Nathan Schneider. His new book is Everthing for Everyone: The Radical Tradition That Is Shaping the Next Economy. It’s out now from Nation Books. Nathan Schneider, thank you for joining us this week on CounterSpin.
It’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
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