News

Economic Update: Revolt Against Sexual Abuse

Truth Out - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 05:00
Thirty seconds: That's how long it takes to support the independent journalism at Truthout. We're counting on you. Click here to chip in!

This week's episode includes updates on other countries undercut US tax changes, US graduate students: fewer and taxed more, "recovery" myth vs foreclosure stats, Valve Corp: worker coops better for innovation, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize snubbed, Starbucks: not really worker-friendly. This week's episode also includes an interview with Dr. Harriet Fraad on the revolt against sexual abuse.

To see more stories like this, visit Economic Update: Your Weekly Dose of Revolutionary Economics

To listen in live on Saturdays at noon, visit WBAI's Live Stream

Economic Update is in partnership with Truthout.org

Your radio station needs Economic Update! If you are a radio station, check this out. If you want to hear Economic Update on your favorite local station, send them this.

Visit Professor Wolff's social movement project, democracyatwork.info.

Permission to reprint Professor Wolff's writing and videos is granted on an individual basis. Please contact profwolff@rdwolff.com to request permission. We reserve the right to refuse or rescind permission at any time..

Categories: News

Jeff Sessions Wants to Crack Down on Legal Weed -- Will Congress Let Him?

Truth Out - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 05:00
 Steffen Geyer)(Photo: Steffen Geyer)   With your support, Truthout can continue exposing inequality, analyzing policy and reporting on the struggle for a better world. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

UPDATE: Congress gave the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment a temporary reprieve after this piece was originally published, extending protections until Dec. 22. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, responded by saying, "[T]wo weeks is not enough certainty," and adding, "Congress must act to put an end to the cycle of uncertainty and permanently protect state medical marijuana programs -- and adult use -- from federal interference."

In all the budget and tax negotiations frantically being hammered out on Capitol Hill, one small amendment that might get lost in the shuffle could have huge ramifications. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment was originally set to expire on Friday (see update above), which would open the door for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do what he's been hinting he wants to: Launch a federal war on states that have partly or completely legalized marijuana use.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, originally passed as the the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in 2014, bars the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute people buying or selling medical marijuana in states that have legalized it. It's a popular bipartisan amendment that protects 46 states, but there have been concerns about whether it will be renewed after Sessions exerted pressure in May on Congress to let the amendment die.

Sessions argued that the DOJ's hands need to be untied when it comes to prosecuting marijuana dispensaries, "particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime." There is, of course, no evidence that marijuana use is contributing to the opioid crisis and, in fact, there's a significant link between legalized medical marijuana and a decrease in opioid overdoses.

The amendment survived, despite Sessions' pressure, through a couple rounds of budget debate in Congress this year, but as Ames Grawert of the Brennan Center for Justice told Salon, "Every time, there’s sort of a dance around whether it will actually get cut this time or not." It’s reasonable to be at least "a little concerned," Grawert said, that Sessions' pressure will eventually convince congressional Republicans to dump the amendment. 

This will-they-or-won't-they game is why Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, and a bipartisan group of 24 other lawmakers have introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, which would prevent the federal government from prosecuting any marijuana users, growers or distributors who are in compliance with state laws.

“You have booming economies in several states, some of whom allow the recreational use of marijuana but many also just for medical purposes, and no real data linking that to a public safety problem," Grawert said, noting that the Brennan Center objects to using federal resources to prosecute people or break up thriving economies without any data to show that doing so would improve public safety.

In March, Sessions argued that marijuana use is "only slightly less awful" than heroin addiction, making it clear that his priority was to aggressively prosecute marijuana users and distributors. He's been stymied by both the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment and a memo issued by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole that discouraged the Justice Department from prosecuting people who were following state-level marijuana laws. The obvious concern here, however, is that Sessions would seize upon the first political opening available to reinvigorate the federal war on pot.

As Sadie Gurman of the AP reported in August, Sessions tried to create such an opportunity by convening a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety that he reportedly expected would give him legal cover to reverse the Cole memo. Instead, as Gurman reports, they came up "with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general’s aggres

Sessions clearly hasn't given up hope of creating a pretense for a crackdown on legal weed, however. As BuzzFeed's Dominic Holden reported on Twitter, Sessions is holding a roundtable discussion on drug policy at the hyper-conservative Heritage Foundation. No press will be allowed to ask questions. Heritage has been aggressively fighting back against the bipartisan efforts to relax marijuana laws, falsely claiming that pot is more addictive and dangerous than alcohol. In fact, the opposite is true: Marijuana is less addictive than booze and significantly less dangerous.

In November, Sessions was hauled in front of the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the Donald Trump-Russia scandal, but as is typical with these sorts of hearings, a lot of congressmen wedged in to ask some off-topic questions. Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, asked Sessions about the DOJ's marijuana policies.

"Our policy is the same, really, fundamentally as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes," Sessions said.

If that sounds comforting, it shouldn't. The DOJ approach to marijuana under the Obama administration was all over the place. On one hand, the Cole memo helped dial back federal prosecutions of marijuana. On the other, Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder did what it could to ignore the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, prosecuting marijuana dispensaries in at least one prominent case that was overturned in court. The fact of the matter is Obama's administration was pretty bad for a long time on marijuana, a fact that Sessions is now eager to use as political cover to do more of the same. 

Ultimately, the legal limbo around this question has to end. There's already a surprising amount of bipartisan support for medical marijuana in Congress. A recent CBS poll shows that 61 percent of Americans believe recreational marijuana should be legal, while 88 percent support legalized medical marijuana. Seven out of 10 Americans believe the federal government should not interfere with marijuana sales in states where it's legal. Ideally, Congress should simply pass a bill removing marijuana from the controlled substances list. In lieu of that, a bill compelling the Department of Justice to respect state marijuana laws will finally clarify the murky legal status of people who sell or use pot in states where getting high is not a crime.

Categories: News

Watchdogs Say US Chemical Safety Board Is "Flying Blind"

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

As per a 1990 Congress mandate, chemical plants must report any dangerous substance releases during accidents, so first responders and others in the vicinity can take precautions. But the federal watchdog agency charged with investigating chemical accidents never finished instituting the rule under pressure from the industry. The agency has also failed to investigate the vast majority of accidents that fall under its jurisdiction.

 Cultura RM Exclusive / Matt Lincoln / Getty Images)(Photo: Cultura RM Exclusive / Matt Lincoln / Getty Images)

The following article could only be published thanks to support from our readers. To fund more stories like it, make a donation to Truthout by clicking here!

In the early hours of August 31, explosions erupted at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, where floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey had cut off the power supply to refrigerated containers containing organic peroxide. Residences in a 1.5-mile radius had been evacuated, and deputies manning barricades began falling ill in the middle of the road one by one. Medics were called, but no further warning was given as columns of black smoke filled the air.

Arkema knew the fires were coming -- organic peroxides burst into flames unless they are kept cool -- but company officials had insisted in a press conference prior to the explosions that the chemicals were not toxic or harmful to people, according to a lawsuit filed in October by emergency workers injured at the scene.

The lawsuit describes the scene near the plant as "nothing less than chaos," with police officers doubled over vomiting and medics gasping for air on their way to assist them. At least 15 people were hospitalized. Arkema initially told authorities the victims had inhaled a "non-toxic irritant," but residues obtained from nearby residences tested positive for dangerous toxins, such as dioxins and heavy metals, according to a separate lawsuit filed by people living nearby.

What else is Arkema hiding? For answers to that question, the public is turning to the US Chemical Safety Board, where an investigation of the Arkema incident is ongoing. However, the federal agency has failed to implement a rule requiring chemical plant operators to report dangerous releases during accidents to its investigators. Congress mandated this provision back in 1990.

Had Arkema been required to report the looming chemical fires to the Chemical Safety Board, the government and emergency workers would have had more to go on than the "vague" disclosure offered by the company during the storm, according to Adam Carlesco, a staff attorney at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The watchdog group filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging the chemical board's inaction on the reporting rule. Other plaintiffs include the Memorial for Workplace Fatalities and two Gulf South environmental groups.

"America's sole industrial safety monitor is currently flying blind and placing the health of the public at risk," Carlesco said.

The Chemical Safety Board is the only federal body charged with investigating chemical accidents and making safety recommendations to improve the industry, but a 2016 report by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) inspector general determined that the agency faces several "management challenges," including low employee morale. The agency has also failed to investigate a number of accidents that fall under its jurisdiction.

The EPA also called out the agency for failing to implement the rule requiring plant operators to report dangerous chemical releases, which Congress mandated with an amendment to the Clean Air Act 27 years ago. The Chemical Safety Board began the process of instituting the rule back in 2009, but never finished the job after receiving a number of public comments from chemical manufacturers and industry groups.

Carlesco told Truthout that Congress gave the EPA administrator authority to enforce the regulation and require chemical companies to start reporting to the safety board. However, the agency's current administrator, Scott Pruitt, is a right-wing Trump appointee who is dedicated to repealing environmental regulations rather than strengthening them. In fact, a Truthout investigation revealed that Pruitt delayed implementation of federal rules designed to prevent accidents at chemical plants just months before the Arkema accident, despite protests from first responders.

Chemical plant operators are required to file reports with the Coast Guard's National Response Center when accidents occur and pollutants are released into the environment. The Chemical Safety Board currently uses that database along with "media monitoring services" to monitor chemical accidents nationwide, according to Hillary Cohen, a spokesperson for the agency.

Yet advocates say this level of monitoring is not sufficient.

"A news clipping service is not an adequate safeguard for the health of communities, workers and first responders," Carlesco said. "American communities are forced into a game of Russian roulette, never knowing when an explosive round will go off – or what it contains."

Dangerous chemical accidents are quite common across the industrial corridors of the United States, and the Chemical Safety Board is currently investigating the Arkema fires along with eight other high-profile accidents that resulted in injuries and deaths at chemical plants and refineries nationwide. However, the agency's resources and staff are limited.

"With an investigative staff of 20, the board cannot investigate all incidents across the country -- internally we evaluate each event and determine if we have the appropriate resources to deploy a team," Cohen said.

Cohen said the board would once again consider implementing the chemical reporting rule in the coming year. There are signs of improvement at the agency -- a recent federal survey found that employee satisfaction at the Chemical Safety Board increased by 22 points this year. However, it remains to be seen whether improved working conditions will help the agency conduct more investigations and meet other "management challenges" identified by the EPA. 

The board's investigators recently released this animation explaining the events leading up to the chemical fires at Arkema, including an attempt by employees to move the unstable organic peroxide from the flooding storage containers to refrigerated truck trailers on higher ground as flood waters rose -- even moving one-gallon containers of the chemical by hand after their forklifts stopped working. The workers were evacuated before the facility lost power.

Categories: News

Rep. Franks resigning after discussing surrogacy with female staff

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 04:39

Puritanical 'MeToo' lunacy claims another victim: Rep. Franks resigning after discussing surrogacy with female staff | 07 Dec 2017 | Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) revealed on Thursday that he is resigning because he discussed the option of surrogacy with female staffers. [!] The House Ethics Committee announced that it is opening an investigation into his actions. "Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others," Franks said in a statement. He said that he's choosing to resign because "in the midst of this current cultural and media climate [of insanity], I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation."
Franks emphasized Thursday that he did not engage in physical sexual misconduct toward his aides.

Categories: News

California fires: San Diego County's Lilac fire explodes to 4,100 acres

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 04:29

California fires: San Diego County's Lilac fire explodes to 4,100 acres | 07 Dec 2017 | A wind-fanned fire growing at a "dangerous" rate in North County has charred 4,100 acres, destroyed dozens of structures and is threatening 5,000 more, fire officials said Thursday. At least three people were burned in the blaze, which roared through Bonsall, a rural community of ranches and agricultural lands, toward Oceanside. At one point, a line of a dozen palm trees ignited. Homes were quickly reduced to piles of ash and teams of horses fled from the flames. "This fire could make it all the way through Oceanside to the coast," said Cal Fire Division Chief Nick Schuler.

Categories: News

US House ethics panel clears Nunes in Russiagate classified leak probe

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 04:26

US House ethics panel clears Nunes in Russiagate classified leak probe | 08 Dec 2017 | The US House Ethics Committee has cleared Representative Devin Nunes (R-California) on a complaint that he leaked classified information. The surprise decision paves the way for the firebrand lawmaker to reassume chairing a House intelligence panel. The ethics committee said Thursday in a brief statement that it determined the Republican congressman did not disclose classified information in March, when he made a surprise announcement about the US government picking up information about President Donald Trump's transition team during a surveillance sweep. Nunes was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time, and was leading the probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Categories: News

Rep. Jordan Grills FBI Director: Did Agent Who Sent Anti-Trump Texts Bring Dossier to FISA Court?

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 04:19

Rep. Jordan Grills FBI Director: Did Agent Who Sent Anti-Trump Texts Bring Dossier to FISA Court? | 07 Dec 2017 | Rep. Jim Jordan grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray this morning on the suspected actions of an FBI agent found to have sent anti-Trump text messages to his mistress. At the House hearing, Jordan (R-Ohio) zeroed in on Peter Strzok's work on the Hillary Clinton email investigation and asked whether Strzok had anything to do with the anti-Trump dossier. Strzok was moved off Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation over the summer after the text messages were discovered. "If you kicked everybody off of Mueller's team who was anti-Trump, I don't think there'd be anybody left," said Jordan, alleging there is "more" behind Strzok's departure from Mueller's team.

Categories: News

Inspired by US, Prison Strike Sweeps Across Brazil

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 03:23

The post Inspired by US, Prison Strike Sweeps Across Brazil appeared first on It's Going Down.

This November, prisoners across 14 states in Brazil went on a six-day hunger strike against abusive and unsanitary conditions, inspired by the USA-wide prison strike on September 9th 2016. The action took place in the context of immense administrative corruption, and a complex situation involving “criminal entities” in the region. While the slow process of obtaining information about the end of the strike continues, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee is publishing this background information to build solidarity for the striking prisoners, and shed light on the obscure universe of Brazil’s prisons.

“Criminal Entities”

In January of this year, two of Brazil’s largest criminal organizations – the PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital), an organization created in the prison units of São Paulo in the 90’s, and the Comando Vermelho – broke their alliance. Until then, they had worked closely together and considered each other “sister organizations.”

This year, the PCC started a special project of commercial expansion, hoping to become possibly the biggest “criminal organization” of the country. Dominating drug traffic, weapons, illegal transport, illegal cable TV, among other sources of income of the “informal market.” The PCC had a strategic interest in the region, because Northern Brazil passes through the so-called San Francisco route, where the majority of the cocaine produced in Peru and Bolivia circulates to get exported to Europe. In January, violence broke out between the PCC and the Família do Norte (NDF), a group allied with Comando Vermelho, in prison units in the North. At least 56 people died in the clash.

Having established and stabilized its control in São Paulo and its expansion throughout the country, the PCC needed to deal with the situation in Rio de Janeiro: it broke relations with the Comando Vermelho and made a failed attempt to unite two rival factions of the CV in Rio – ADA (Amigos dos Amigos) and TCP (Terceiro Comando Puro). In recent years, the State of Rio made one more pathetic creation called the Polícia Pacificadora (“Peace Police”). The UPPs (Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora) were stationed in different favelas of the state, and caused an immense instability in the disputes for these territories. With the bankruptcy of this project officially declared this year, many of these territories were left “open,” causing an escalation of the violence already present in these environments and throughout the state. Given this situation, the Comando Vermelho saw a glimmer of hope that they might be able to retake those territories (the CV controlled all of the State of Rio in the 80’s and 90’s, suffering huge losses in the beginning of the 200’s with the growth of the ADA and TCP). Some of those considered as leaders of the Comando Vermelho are now incarcerated in federal prisons in other states, including in RDD (“Regime Disciplinar Diferenciado”, a kind of SUPERMAX facility where the prisoner stays in the cell for 22 hours of the day).

The Strike

At midnight on November 7th, prison rebels coordinated a work stoppage in facilities across 14 states.

The strike, initiated in federal prisons by these leaders, had the primary objective of securing the transfer of some of these imprisoned leaders back to Rio de Janeiro. It’s important to note that not all of the prisoners associated with the Comando Vermelho spontaneously adhered to the strike initially. However, once it was declared, many perceived the potential of the movement and started to incorporate their own demands. It was in this moment that September 9th 2016 served as inspiration and motivation.

Here is the strike call out that circulated throughout the prisons.

Starting at 00:00h, November 6th, 2017, ALL PRISONERS must STRIKE and DO NOT ACCEPT:

1 – ANY KIND OF FOOD PROVIDED BY THE STATE;

2 – STOP ANY MOVEMENT FOR SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE STATE (TRIALS, HEARINGS, PSYCHOLOGY, SOCIAL SERVICE, LABOR, SCHOOL, CRAFTS, ANYTHING)

The objective of this strike:

1 – IMPROVEMENTS IN THE HEALTH CARE PROVIDED IN EVERY PRISON UNIT, WHERE TODAY MANY DIE FROM THE GOVERNMENT NEGLIGENCE THAT DOES NOT HIRE DOCTORS OR INSURE ADEQUATE MEDICINE AND EQUIPMENTS TO TREAT THE PRISONERS;

2 – DENTAL CARE IN THE PRISON UNITS;

3 – ADEQUATE WARDS FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT (ESPECIALLY FOR TUBERCULOSIS) IN THE PRISON UNITS;

4 –  OVERCROWDED UNITS, SOME CELLS MADE FOR 8 PRISONERS SOMETIMES HAVE MORE THAN 40 SHARING THE SPACE;

5 – LACK OF WORK AND STUDY OPPORTUNITIES INSIDE THE PRISON UNITS, ONLY A FEW HAVE ACCESS TO THAT RIGHT AND MANY ARE FORGOTTEN AND HAVE THEIR RIGHTS MASSACRED ON THE ACCOUNT OF THE STATE’S INEFFICIENCY;

6 – PRISONERS ARE IRREGULARLY TRANSFERRED IN A CLANDESTINE WAY, WITHOUT THE JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS SECRETARY OR THE PENAL COURTS KNOWLEDGE OR GUARANTEE, AND SUFFER FROM INHUMANE TREATMENTS, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE AND TORTURE IN PRISON UNITS FAR AWAY FROM THEIR FAMILIES;

7 – PRISONERS PUT IN ISOLATION FOR UNDETERMINED PERIODS WITHOUT ANY PLAUSIBLE JUSTIFICATION.

Prisoners refused to eat breakfast that morning, prompting the guards to toss out massive amounts of food, much of which is barely fit for human consumption to begin with.

The photos below are from the Cadeia Pública Jorge Santana facility, showing what the guards did to the food, since the prisoners refused to eat.

Prisoners banged on the prison bars, letting guards and other prisoners alike know the strike was on in full force.

Throughout the week, our contacts in Brazil stayed in close communication with the families of the striking prisoners. Family on the outside were extremely concerned with the state of the health of those men who had nothing and who were sacrificing everything in the strike.

In all of the state of Rio, prisons are overcrowded. The water supply is rationed. There are prisons where the quota for each prisoner is four glasses per day for everything, including taking a bath, drinking, washing clothes, and cleaning the cell.

The food, besides being of absolutely abysmal quality, opens even deeper questions: there are many pork factory farms near the prisons. The directors of the prisons usually get money from re-selling to these factory farms the food that is “left over.” In general, the food that comes ready is left out in the sun to sour, and so is rejected by the prisoners, so this way more food is sold to the factory farms for the pigs and the directors get to put more money in their pockets. It’s important to highlight that this happens in almost all the prison units of the state and the prison administration exchanges the sole sustenance of the prisoners for just a little more change in their pockets.

The medical services are practically nonexistent. Prisons with more than two thousand men have merely one doctor on staff every day. There is no supply of medication and hospital equipment from the State and sometimes to get just a simple aspirin, the prisoner needs to be practically almost dying.  Lung problems (like tuberculosis, bronchitis, and asthma) and skin problems (like leprosy, cryptococcosis, and sporotrichosis) are abundant in the prison population, enough to be classified as actual epidemics. The right to go out into the sunlight, guaranteed by law to be one hour a day, is not respected. Prisoners of the state sometimes go months without leaving their unsanitary cells.

There are no psychiatrists and there are only a few psychologists.

Dentists are rare and, where they do exist, there are not enough of them for how much they are needed.

There is an immense portion of the incarcerated population of the state that could be out in the free world, because they still have not been convicted, but instead they are incarcerated.

The work opportunities are true examples of the continuing maintenance of slavery in the country. The prisoner who works in Rio de Janeiro receives as payment a day less in prison for every three days of work, and has a monthly salary of R$545 (USD$165.33). The minimum monthly salary of the country is actually R$937 (USD$284.25). There are no labor laws for prison labor.

For many prisoners and their families, the end of the strike was a relief. Throughout the week, many prisoners with already extremely debilitated health were showing signs that they would not be able to last very long in a hunger strike. Many started passing out, throwing up blood, getting dizzy spells, etc. Throughout all the prison cells of the state there was already talk of the possibility of rebellion, news of which was received with fear from their families, because generally in Brazil when there is rebellion, the State responds immediately with EXTREME violence. All you have to do is remember the case of Carandiru in 1992 in São Paulo, where prisons rebelled and the response of the State was to send in police and kill 111 people.

The leaders of the Comando Vermelho forbid the families from making any public comment in support of the strike, which made the whole movement very difficult because, besides dodging state repression, we also had to deal with interdictions from the Comando Vermelho.

The strike ended today, so it’s still early to make a very profound analysis of its results. But certainly, many of the men that the state holds hostage in prison units walked away from it emboldened, and the struggle continues.

From our contacts:

“In the name of the few with whom I was able to get in contact during the strike (telephone use was restricted to direct family), I want to pass on to everyone here gratitude for the support and solidarity. When I told them that there were people all over the world who knew about the strike and demonstrating their support, especially prisoners all over the world, this information transformed into energy and empowered many of those men. The support that everyone here gave was very important for this also I thank you. I tried to put together here all the information that I gathered over this past week, as little as it is. I hope that this information helps understand what happened here and shed a little light on the obscure universe of Brazilian prisons.”

The strike officially ended on November 13th, and information is still scarce on why. We’re working with our contacts there to learn more. We know though, that this strike is a significant victory for the prison abolition movement in Brazil, in which intra-rival prison group conflict grew into politicized and widespread collective resistance. As prison rebels gather momentum here in the US, may we continue to inspire and support one another across borders until every last cage is empty.

Categories: News

Arizona GOP Rep. Trent Franks to resign following sexual harassment claim

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 02:44

Arizona GOP Rep. Trent Franks to resign following sexual harassment claim | 07 Dec 2017 | Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks announced in a statement Thursday night he will resign from Congress at the end of January, after the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate allegations against him of sexual harassment. The House Ethics Committee announced earlier Thursday that it will investigate Franks to determine if he engaged in "conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment." In his statement, Franks acknowledged he made staffers "uncomfortable" and that he discussed fertility issues and surrogacy with two female staffers, but denied having ever "physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff."

Categories: News

Bloc Party: Going in Style

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 02:29

The post Bloc Party: Going in Style appeared first on It's Going Down.

On a blustery late November morning we rolled out of bed, threw on a pair of boots and our balaclavas. One never leaves the house without a balaclava! We made our disheveled way to the corner store to pick up a copy of the New York Times. Thumbing through the front pages to hurriedly make it to the Friday crossword we stumbled upon the Style section. Little did we know that morning when we donned our all black everything that we would be so on trend!

Welcome to 2017 everyone! The year that never stops giving. Anarchists and anti-fascists have graced the cover of the New York Times and had multiple prominent headlines in the LA Times. Newsweek, CNN, NBC, and other mainstream media outlets cannot get enough of black blocs and the more militant tactics seen this year. One minute we’re media darlings and the next we’re cast as the villain they’re trying to unmask à la some bizarre Scooby Doo episode.

We take style seriously here on the Bloc and for that reason we want to clarify a few of the stylistic inaccuracies presented by the New York Times in “What to Wear to Smash the State.” We don’t want anyone to be mistaken in their future fashion choices. Could you imagine the ridicule if one showed up at the bloc in the wrong brand of rain jacket? The pearl clutching gasps from the others around you? We want to save you, dear friends, the embarrassment of a possible fashion faux pas.

“By now, you know the look. Black work or military boots, pants, balaclavas or ski masks, gloves and jackets, North Face brand or otherwise. Gas masks, goggles and shields may be added as accessories, but the basics have stayed the same since the look’s inception.”

We’re going to say what everyone is thinking, but is afraid to say. North Face? It’s over. Leave that shit in 2008 where it belongs. The look is Marmot in 2017. For stylistic reasons and practical! The cuts of Marmot jackets are far more flattering than North Face. The price point is certainly higher, but we believe the results are fucking worth the investment. Or find yourself a fiscal sponsor for your next black bloc! Daddy Soros, give us that moneeeeeeey. Did we mention that all seams on Marmot jackets are 100% seal taped? Even “extremely wild,” OC spray (to quote MPD Officer Howden who testified at the J20 trial this week) isn’t making it past a Marmot.

Speaking of money…

“Both the ease of uniform procurement — the barrier to entry is just getting black clothes, with only your own ethical purchasing guidelines to steer you — and the aesthetic’s effectiveness allowed black blocs to spread.”

Ethical purchasing guidelines a barrier to pulling together your freshest and most organic look? Don’t worry! Patagonia offers a wide range of black items made from recycled materials! Because whether we’re smashing the state or nazis, we need to be certain that whatever items will be later discarded in the street have the lowest damn carbon footprint we can find. So feel free to just treat yourself and the earth while you’re at!

“One Antifa “fashion don’t” is carrying cellphones. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that 72 agencies in 24 states and Washington, D.C., have “simulators” that mimic cellphone towers in order to track people.”

We couldn’t agree more. If you wouldn’t bring a cop to the bloc, then leave the phone at home because it might as well be a cop. Also, we know we look good. Take a picture with your eyes only and hold the memory dearly. We do not recommend posting outfit of the day shots on your Instagram. We also don’t need to tell our friends on their Facebook wall what babes they were and how on point their gloves were. We all know it. Savor it on the inside.

All sassy comments aside, we want to stress that as silly as it is to be the subject of Style section articles, there is something that leaves us feeling uneasy about the continued media spotlight on this one tactic. There is an unease because of the serious precarity of many people facing decades in prison as a result of the protests on J20. There is an unease because we’re all being cast as one-dimensional characters in a script we are not writing. There is an unease because those who are writing the script have shifted the characters to solely “anti-fascists” and rarely talk about “anarchists,” leaving us wondering about the substance of our politics being left behind.

“Anti-fascist activists believe in dressing for the job they want. Right now, many think, that job is punching Nazis.”

The job we’re dressing for isn’t just about punching nazis, goddamnit. We’re dressing every single day for so many different jobs it honestly is making some of our heads spin. Where is the Style guide for what to wear when you’re emotionally supporting your friend or lover through harsh state repression? What kind of outfit should we wear for going to our friends house to take care of their children so they can head to yet another meeting? What brand of clothing is best suited for the many hours spent hauling water in the desert, bringing aid to those who risk life and freedom to cross borders? We’d personally love style tips on the footwear that will make our outfits pop while we spend endless hours researching prison rebellion and attempting to make contact with those on the inside who are struggling for basic humanity.

Speaking of supporting our comrades in prison. Here’s all that news from the Bloc:

Last week on Bloc Party we focused on the grand jury subpoenas received by anti-racists activists and victims from the car attack on August 12th. For more information on grand juries, including interviews with comrades who survived them, check out the new episode of the Ex-Worker.

Those committed to keeping human beings locked in cages in Bartholomew County, Indiana are having to spend additional funds to do so. In September, two prisoners in the county jail kicked out a mesh section of their cell doors and used them to attack guards while other prisoners flooded the cell block. These combined efforts caused an estimated total of $8,000 in damages to prison infrastructure. The Bartholomew County Commissioners recently decided to spend $2,255 to reinforce the doors in their jail. Never underestimate the power of small damages adding up, y’all. Can prisons actually maintain economic feasibility if these kinds of actions generalized?

Workers at the Bartholomew County Jail in Indiana discuss how best to cage human life (Photo: Fox 59)

On November 1, the Kansas Department of Corrections released a report providing some additional information on the organized protests and uprising that occurred at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in June. According to the report, the uprising began on June 24 when prisoners unexpectedly found the doors to their unit unlocked. The review states:

“A review of camera footage indicated the unit staff in L cell house had not properly secured the doors between pods and multiple pod doors that open on to the hallway…The main exit door from the building is a swing door and was not secured.”

The prisoners left their unit and refused orders to return. Eventually, prisoners returned to their cells, but placed objects in the way of the doors, preventing them from securing. They made weapons from broom and mop handles, set fires, attacked surveillance cameras and broke into an office.

According to the initial reports on the incident, prisoners gained control of the gym, kitchen and prison yard.

When prisoners were released from lockdown later in the week, they immediately began a protest of prison conditions. Around 120 prisoners occupied the prison yard and refused orders to return to their cells. They broke into an office and distributed “security and office equipment” amongst themselves.

As is so often the case, the prison guard union has said that at the time of the riot the prison was severely understaffed and overcrowded.

If you are in contact with prisoners at El Dorado or have more information about the uprising, please let us know.

Sean Swain has a ton of new writings up on his site, from (as always) complex analyses of the psychological impairments of the administrators at the “Ohio Department of Retribution and Corruption” to a lengthy history of last hundred years or so of U.S. economic policy. Also a call out for a lawyer willing to take on the ODRC on their treatment of so-called “security threat groups.” Check them out and drop Sean a line.

Walter Bond, Supreme Vegan Power (Photo: Support Walter)

Animal liberation prisoner Walter Bond went on hunger strike in November to protest the lack of access to quality vegan meals, disruptions with his mail and failure of the prison to honor his requests for a transfer to be closer to friends and supporters.

Walter wrote:

So in the tradition of A.L.F. activists before me, such as Barry Horne, I am going on hunger strike. I will not eat anything and will starve until these issues are remedied.”

I’m asking everybody in the Animal Rights and Anarchist communities to stand with me with your protests and actions of solidarity.

Check out Walter’s full audio statement via RUF Rebel Radio.

Walter’s hunger strike lasted 6 days before he was promised that the mail and food issues would be resolved. Unfortunately, Walter has also learned that he will likely be transferred back to the Communications Management Unit (CMU).

Please take a moment to write some words of encouragement to Walter:

Walter Bond #37096-013
FCI Greenville
PO Box 5000
Greenville IL 62246

His supporters also encourage people to send Walter a paperback book or magazine via Amazon, another book dealer or a publisher. Also the North American Animal Liberation Press Office has retained legal counsel for Walter. They encourage people to help cover these costs.

Eric King has written a new poem, calling attention to the beating of political prisoner Herman Bell in September by prison guards. Despite the awful reality of this attack, we are inspired by Herman’s brave and hopeful words. His capacity to maintain a level-headed fortitude despite years of incarceration should be a lesson to those of us already escaping into a lazy cynicism:

“I sustained multiple kicks, punches to the face and eyes, repeated head slams into concrete, and 2 cracked ribs. They tried to bury me with raining blows, not knowing that I am a seed. But the burning pepper spray sprayed into my eyes and mouth is what did me in – and yet, here I am.”

“The social injustice, jackboot repression, racist attacks, discrimination, wealth disparities, unemployment, lack of affordable housing (the list doesn’t just end there), creates waves of fierce discontent which ls gaining steady momentum, becoming a full-blown cleansing tsunami, the force of which is irresistible.”

Eric also has a new essay entitled “What it Looks Like to be Antifascist in Prison” in which he takes a very frank look at the painful realities of race behind prison walls. A must-read for anyone seeking to intervene in these dynamics:

If you put yourself out there verbally, be prepared to stand on it (fight) because you will be challenged and if you’re lucky it’ll be one on one. Small things that happen instinctively can get you in a jam, so it’s smart to always be mindful. I’ve been in jams for laughing at sunken Navy ships, for watching soccer with the Mexicans, for letting a Gay-Black cat in my yoga class… the things that you do by nature may ruffle a lot of feathers, so we need to be prepared to get called into the cell and defend your actions.

In case you missed it, in September the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement agencies must get a warrant to use Stingray devices to determine the location of a cell phone. According to the Washington Post:

The case against Prince Jones in 2013 involved D.C. police use of a “StingRay” cell-site simulator, which enables law enforcement to pinpoint the location of a cellphone more precisely than a phone company can when triangulating a signal between cell towers or using a phone’s GPS function. Civil liberties advocates say the StingRay, by providing someone’s location to police without court approval, is a violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment right not to be unreasonably searched. The D.C. Court of Appeals agreed in a 2 to 1 ruling, echoing similar rulings in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and federal district courts in New York City and San Francisco.

We know not everyone is in the habit of following what dastardly stuff Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and her co-conspirators at the Supreme Court are up to. But, the Fourth Amendment case they heard oral arguments on last week could have some tangible impact on criminal cases involving cell phone data. Carpenter vs. United States is the biggest Fourth Amendment case heard by the Supreme Court in a number of years. The Fourth Amendment is the one that speaks to searches and seizures.

According to the New York Times:

In 2013, Timothy Carpenter was convicted of being the ringleader behind a series of armed robberies of cellphone stores in and around Detroit, and was sentenced to almost 116 years in prison. His conviction was secured in part based on 127 days of location data that his cellphone service provider turned over to the police, showing that his phone had been in the vicinity of several of the robberies.

The bad news is that right now law enforcement does not need a warrant to gather that kind of electronic information on someone during the course of a criminal investigation. That is because of some 1970’s Supreme Court ruling that resulted in what’s called “third party doctrine.” Not to bog everyone down in the constitutional law hellscape we’re in (because we clearly like a little well-placed, self-inflicted punishment here and there), but this is a case that could have lasting implications for many of us.

The good news is that the buzz around legal nerds is that the Supreme Court is likely to rule in favor of Carpenter and establish limits on the government’s currently unfettered access to all of the data, from the mundane to the significant, that reflect the modern age of smart phones. Fingers crossed the nerds are right, but it is hard to imagine a world in which the state limits itself to the all-you-can-eat buffet of our data.

A ruling in this case isn’t expected until early Summer. In the meantime, remember your phone is a fucking cop and treat it as such.

Don’t forget to check out the J20 trial updates podcast featured here on IGD! Also, please consider throwing a fundraiser to support the efforts around this trial and future trials, which will be continuing throughout all of next year. This case matters for each one of us, whether you were in D.C. last January or not. It isn’t just anarchists and anti-fascists who are on trial, but whole movements of people who stand in resistance to all different manifestations of the state and capital. We all need this win. So throw a party, pass a hat, hustle some shit so you can throw Defend J20 Resistance all your moneeeeeeey.

We have a lot of content that we’re excited to share with all of you throughout December. Keep an eye out for more prisoner interviews, looks into prison rebellions across borders and more.

Categories: News

Urgent Call for Solidarity: Community of Tilzapote, Oaxaca Under Immediate Violent Eviction Threat

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 02:04

The post Urgent Call for Solidarity: Community of Tilzapote, Oaxaca Under Immediate Violent Eviction Threat appeared first on It's Going Down.

Ours is the land and territory and we will not leave it

Ours is the air and we will not lose it

Ours is the sun and we will not turn it off

Ours is the sea and we will not sell it

And we will care for this life that is ours

Residents of Tilzapote, Oaxaca

The Zapotec community of Tilzapote, on the Oaxacan coast in the municipality of Santa María Tonameca, is being threatened with violent eviction tomorrow, Friday, December 8. The village’s 278 inhabitants have been told that tomorrow, machines will arrive to destroy their houses and lands in preparation to develop this tranquil stretch of coastline for tourism. The community has been in dispute with Pedro Martínez Araiza and Domitila Guzmán Olivera, the so-called “owners” of their land – which the inhabitants cultivate and manage communally – for several years now. They have been through a long legal struggle, which unsurprisingly has favored the would-be developers. In 2011, three community members were briefly jailed on trumped-up charges for their opposition to the landgrab. Demonstrate your solidarity with the indomitable residents of Tilzapote in whatever way you can. Under the threat of continuing capitalist development and plunder, we all stand to lose, whether it be tomorrow or somewhere down the line. The following is a translated communiqué issued by the community and others in early October, when faced with an earlier and less concrete eviction threat. It gives a bit more context to the current situation. The original can be found here. Tilzapote takes a stand for the defense of its territory on the coast of Oaxaca

On October 6th and 7th, 2017, we met in the Pastoral House of the Puerto Escondido Diocese, as representatives of the communities of Tataltepec de Valdez, Tilzapote, San Pedro Amuzgos, San Pedro Atoyac, Santa María de Huazolotitlán, Santiago Jamiltepec, San Pedro Tututepec, Lázaro Cárdenas Puerto Escondido, Santo Domingo de Morelos, San Francisco Defensa del Río Verde, and the human rights organizations Comité de Defensa Integral de Derechos Humanos Gobixha AC [“Gobixha Comprehensive Human Rights Defense Committee, Civil Association”] and Tequio Jurídico AC [“Collective Legal Work, Civil Association” roughly] with the firm objective of analyzing the problems we face in our land and territory in order to build collective defense mechanisms together.

We’ve found that the territories of indigenous communities and peoples find themselves at risk due to the implementation of extractive projects such as mining, hydroelectric dams, tourist development, and the implementation of laws that threaten the rights of peoples, such as the hydrocarbons law, the Special Economic Zones, (ZEE), and government programs, among them the Registration of Agrarian Legal Actions Program (RAJA).

We maintain that extractivism, as a part of the capitalist system, threatens the collective life of communities, their social relations, and their territory. It seeks to put this territory in the hands of large businesses, siding with dispossession, violence, community division, and the loss of identity and community patrimony.

We listen with concern to the situation of grave human rights violations that the inhabitants of Tilzapote, municality of Santa María Tonameca are living through, faced with the imminent risk of violent eviction from their community on the 14th and 15th of October. They would be evicted by members of the Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM) [translator’s note: a trade union that acts as a paramilitary arm of the PRI, the political party currently in control in Mexico], with the rationale of executing a judicial resolution in favor of the supposed small landowners PEDRO MARTÍNEZ ARAIZA AND DOMITILA GUZMÁN OLIVERA, who have presented themselves neither before the community nor the assembly.

The members of the community of Tilzapote have lived in this territory for some 70 years. It is located on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca and has a population of 278 indigenous Zapotec inhabitants, all of whom have houses and lands, where they grow food to live on: corn, beans, peanuts, melon, watermelon, hibiscus, among other produce. They have a health center and electricity, two kilometers of beach that allows them to fish, and the Puerto Escondido-Salina Cruz coastal highway passes through their village. The agricultural area of which they are a part (San Francisco Cozoaltepec) is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the south, San Bartolo Loxicha and Magdalena Loxicha to the north, Santa María Colotepec to the west, and to the east, Santa María Tonameca’s other agricultural area and Santo Domingo de Morelos.

Faced with the grave situation that our pueblos are living through, and specifically the community of Tilzapote, Agricultural Area of San Francisco Cozoaltepec, Municipality of Santa María Tonameca, Oaxaca, as organizations and participants we solicit the following:

  1. THAT THE PROVISIONAL SUSPENSION ORDERED BY THE FIRST DISTRICT COURT, SEATED IN THE CITY OF OAXACA, IN THE INJUNCTION 880/2017, BE RESPECTED. Table 6 – A of the First District Court seated in the city of Oaxaca.
  2. Immediate intervention by the Defensoría de los Derechos Humanos del Pueblo de Oaxaca [Organization for the Protection of Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca], accompanying the community by putting out an EARLY ALERT to guarantee the respect of the human rights and physical integrity of the community members.
  3. We ask the pueblos; the civil organizations of Oaxaca, the country, and the world; collectives; and land defenders to be attentive in order to send out urgent actions and raise their voices in case the threats of the plunder of our territory increase.
  4. We declare the State Governor, the head of the Ministry of Territorial and Urban Agrarian Development (SEDATU), the Mexican Workers Federation, and the Agrarian Ombudsman responsible in the event of acts of violence in our territory.
  5. We ask the Mexican government to guarantee the security and physical integrity of the inhabitants of the community of Tilzapote and the human rights defenders that work with it, on the basis of international human rights treaties, in the face of the threat of forced displacement from their territory.
  6. We denounce the pressure by the agrarian ombudsman’s office for our ejidos and communities to accept the implementation of the program known as Registration of Agrarian Legal Actions (RAJA).

Ours is the land and territory and we will not leave it

Ours is the air and we will not lose it

Ours is the sun and we will not turn it off

Ours is the sea and we will not sell it

And we will care for this life that is ours

Signatory Communities:

Tataltepec de Valdez

Tilzapote

San Pedro Amuzgos

San Pedro Atoyac

Santa María de Huazolotitlán

Santiago Jamiltepec

San Pedro Tututepec

Lázaro Cárdenas Puerto Escondido

Santo Domingo de Morelos

San Francisco Cozoaltepec

Candelaria Loxicha

San Juan Cacahuatepec

Signatory Organizations:

Consejo de Pueblos Unidos en Defensa del Río Verde [Council of Pueblos United in Defense of the Río Verde]

Comité de Defensa Integral de Derechos Humanos Gobixha A. [Gobixha Comprehensive Human Rights Defense Committee, Civil Association] C.

Tequio Jurídico AC [Collective Legal Work, Civil Association C.

Colectivo Oaxaqueño en Defensa de los Territorios [Oaxacan Collective in Defense of Territory]

Comisión de Pastoral Indígena de la Diócesis de Puerto Escondido [Indigenous Pastoral Commission of the Puerto Escondido Diocese]

Casa Pastoral de la Diócesis de Puerto Escondido [Pastoral House of the Puerto Escondido Diocese]

Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” [“All Rights for Everyone” National Network of Civil Bodies for Human Rights] (made up of 84 organizations in 23 states of the Mexican Republic)

Categories: News

Australian Climate Science Denier Ian Plimer Follows Tony Abbott in Pushing Dodgy Science to London Think-Tank

deSmog - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 02:04
Ian Plimer

Australians have been keeping the London-based climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) busy in recent weeks.

After former Prime Minister Tony Abbott gave the group’s annual lecture in October, it was the turn of one of Australia’s longest-serving deniers to empty another bucket of bunkum.

Professor Ian Plimer, an Australian director of multiple mining companies, is featured in a new interview with the GWPF to promote his latest subtly titled denial tome: Climate Change Delusion and the Great Energy Rip-off.

When it comes to climate change science, Plimer can be placed very firmly in the file marked “denial.”

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12426'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: ian plimerTony Abbottglobal warming policy foundationBenny PeiserLord LawsonGWPFfamily firstLiberal Democrats
Categories: News

Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 01:59

The post Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise appeared first on It's Going Down.

December 14th is the congressional vote to repeal Title II classification for Internet service providers, which regulates them as public utilities and mandates equal protection for all Internet traffic, fulfilling the concept of Net Neutrality. It seems that I’ve been here before, and nothing feels different aside from this issue in the grand scheme of things. That, and maybe my level of cynicism.

Three years ago, in my social democrat days, I dove into all that so-called “Team Internet” could really do. The late Obama years were a push to ensure progressive policies would withstand after election season. Everything except physically organizing was what I did when the FCC was urged to adopt clear net neutrality rules. We knew that consumers were just waiting to be fucked over by broadband companies if reclassification didn’t beat them to it, so it was a big deal for most of that year.

Outreach was rather grueling when trying to bring the issue to everyone who uses the Internet. The aggressive lies about “innovation” being at stake if broadband speeds didn’t remain a competitive market seemed as convincing to many as the reality of Internet connections being universally jumbled with the stablest ones concentrated in the hands of those who could pay.

Initially, I didn’t think writing/calling congress and having the situation explained in full would matter much. What felt like this loose network of hackers and nerd-activists seemed to be no match for the landlords of broadband and their lobbyists, so my hopes for victory were modest. But in time the decision to reclassify was sealed, thanks to enough noise against the idea of paying premiums for different connections. There was a sense of accomplishment in banding together within the “safety” of government that my white skin affords me.

This, of course, was before the political jolt that was Trump’s presidency. Around an administration that has been one clique power-grab after the other, Ajit Pai’s flagship decision as newly-appointed FCC chairman was to crash and burn protective Internet regulations, similar to our health care system or public water treatment.

What distinguishes then from now is (my understanding of) what I want out of putting time and energy into an issue. I realized the inherent limitations on what could realistically be won through this perpetually circular politics of appeal and compromise. Self-described “radicals” are engaging in a battle for leverage in a situation that affects what they should realistically be forcing out of the hands of the few. Its not exactly overcoming or progressing (notions that liberals have always suggested) if you’re constantly fighting for the same reforms in different political eras. I arrived at the conclusion that working within authority can only push it to change its tactics of constraint. It has to be deconstructed, physically disrupted and abolished by obsolescing its relevance through new social habits.

This is ultimately no more of a surprise than Trump doing anything else. When you have a president with this kind of hubris, uncharted influence and a tattered but intact support base with various reactionary formations, this is just a drop in the bucket. I was convinced that the definitive sign of more (and worse) to come was the early rhetoric around immigration and “America first”, so its hard to be surprised or significantly upset by any of this.

Let’s not take all this to mean this situation isn’t a problem. Bludgeoning Internet access to guarantee that Telecom giants can exert restraint on consumers as a business strategy in this particular time of polarization and turbulence — especially with most organizing happening online — is going to prove difficult for radicals’ playing field.

But do I clench my heart and cry “Oh, the humanity!” No, because whether we have European-style net neutrality regulations or the same model we have for health care, we are ignoring the relationship at play. The entities people are out to win over cannot have the same conversation. There are mutually opposing interests that are the final say, and accruing their sympathy will not do anything if it conflicts with them. You always run the risk of having any concessions revoked when they’re mere options for appeasement within the negligence of impersonal democracy.

Net neutrality is a false distinction in a society where access to anything is fundamentally broken, let alone the Internet. Nonetheless, liberals will prioritize the things within reach to middle-class whites and avoid the overarching motive behind it all. This is going to be a pain, no doubt. What isn’t in this world?

Hashtag resistance is officially canceled.

What the Internet has demonstrated is among the most effective means of collaborating and opening up new and powerful means of expressing, sharing, reinventing and decentralizing. But that ethos can never reach its fullest potential when Telecom property owners can pull the plug at whenever they please. Furthermore, those companies can never cease control of our access so long as any base that props them up remains.

The airwaves are a commons. Every tool and beyond should be, but this will never be adopted as the reality so long as monopolizing or mediating capabilities exist anywhere, be they state or private.

Categories: News

Barack Obama appears to compare Trump presidency to the rise of Hitler and says US democracy could 'fall apart very quickly'

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 01:58

Barack Obama appears to compare Trump presidency to the rise of Hitler and says US democracy could 'fall apart very quickly' | 07 Dec 2017 | Barack Obama [Deep State emissary and best bud of unindicted 9/11 co-conspirator George W. Bush] appeared to compare Donald Trump's presidency to Hitler's rise to power during a speech in Chicago on Tuesday. The former president was speaking at an event thrown by the Economic Club of Chicago at a Hilton hotel when he made the remarks. Without mentioning the current president, Obama told the gathered audience of 1,800: 'We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly. That's what happened in Germany in the 1930s, which despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate.' Some Trump fans said Obama's comments were 'un-American' and 'disgusting'.

Categories: News

Wabash Valley Hunger Strike: A Battle Won, The Struggle Continues

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 01:48

The post Wabash Valley Hunger Strike: A Battle Won, The Struggle Continues appeared first on It's Going Down.

IDOC Watch has been informed that after persistent pressure from numerous supporters, the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility has relented to the demands of political prisoner Shaka Shakur.

Last month, Shakur began refusing meals after being housed in a camera-monitored cell 24 hours a day. For the duration of his internment, he was constantly harassed and threatened by personnel, his property was confiscated, his mail was routinely opened and read, and his food soiled and debased.

Thanks to the significant response to Shakur’s calls for support, the authorities have moved Shakur to another area of the prison, have granted him through-glass visitation (as opposed to video visitation only), and returned the majority of is property. Shakur is still requesting the return of his illegally confiscated postage and is in talks with administration to have it returned. At this point, however, he is once again taking meals.

Despite the victory, Shakur is still facing four felony charges relating to an August incident in which he was provoked into an altercation with Correctional Officer, Jon Sexton. Last month, an initial court hearing was held at Sullivan Superior Court in Sullivan, Indiana. Shakur was able to attend only on camera and was not moved from the facility. Shakur was formally charged with the four counts and a trial date is set for March.

IDOC Watch and Shakur himself have written elsewhere about the hypocritical nature of these proceedings given that Shakur has already been extra-judiciously punished for the incident. Wabash Valley, internally, has already found him “guilty” of assaulting officer Sexton and has made him liable for $3,000 of undocumented and/or unrepresented medical expenses. In addition, the facility has deprived him of good time, effectively adding 8 ½ years to his sentence. Shakur has stated and will demonstrate that Wabash Valley has no authority to take such a measure and believes that he is being used as a test case for a new regime of oppression in the IDOC, wherein a parallel penal system operates without civilian court oversight, extending the sentences of its inmates at will.

Banners in support of Shakur were hung in 4 Indiana cities.

Supporters of Shakur are now focusing their efforts on the assault case. On Wednesday, November 29th, supporters across Indiana dropped banners in four cities demanding that all charges be dropped as well as denouncing for-profit prisons and mass incarceration generally. The actions emphasize the political nature of Shakur’s case. Long a relentless critic of prisoner abuse in Indiana, the IDOC is determined to silence Shakur by innovating new techniques of oppression. Once it has isolated voices such as his, it will move to apply its new methods to the general population in an a desperate effort to prevent a swelling movement towards reform. Intimidating inmates with the possibility of unilaterally extending sentences will become the new strategy in blocking resistance. Shakur’s case then is a crucial moment in determining the direction of prisoner struggle in Indiana. Prison reform activists and abolitionists will have to unite and put the IDOC on trial instead. IDOC Watch will be closely following this case as it develops.

Follow our blog for the latest statements from Shaka Shakur and many other Indiana inmates.

Categories: News

Asheville, NC: Cop Car Tires Slashed in Remembrance of Alexis and Jai

It's Goin Down - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 01:48

The post Asheville, NC: Cop Car Tires Slashed in Remembrance of Alexis and Jai appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following anonymous communique was submitted to IGD and we reprint it below.

The statement reads:

On the anniversary of the murder of 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos in the Exarchia neighborhood of Athens, Greece, a couple of us here in so-called Asheville, North Carolina decided to act.

It didn’t take long after heading out into the night before we found what we were looking for. Once we spotted the police cruiser, we crept up to it and dug our blades into the tires, before making off unseen back into the shadows. There was a call put out for an international day of action against state terrorism in remembrance of its victims.

Here in Asheville, we act to remember Jerry “Jai” Williams, and his murder at the hands of police last year. His memory, along with the memories of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Freddy Gray, Keith Lamont Scott, Aiyana Stanley Jones, Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, Janisha Fonville, and Terence Crutcher, burn in our hearts no matter how much time may pass between their last breaths and ours.

2017 has already seen over 1,000 people murdered by police, and we are not blind to the fact that this will continue. We are tired of quietly crying, and internalizing the pain of how the masses ignore these murdered loved ones, all around us, everyday.

We understand our action was small, especially in comparison to the immense and invigorating actions taken by so many before us in the memory of our comrades murdered by the state. But we hope those who openly attack as we aim to, receive us well in knowing this: We’ve begun our own course of attack on the terrorism of the state and all its violent actors. We plan on sustaining our attacks.

We hope to escalate the insurrectionary energies of those around us here in the Blue Ridge and other smaller, less openly antagonistic communities around the United Snakes. We aim to confront the state terror and violence every chance we get, and become part of the wave of solidarity that breaks the isolation and alienation of the oppressed. We’ve become awakened, and aim to shake others from their sleep and open their eyes to the global vision for a world without exploitation from authority.

alexisg.jpegAlexis Grigoropoulos

jai.jpeg

Jerry “Jai” Williams

In remembrance of all the unknown and unnamed those listed below, and the innumerable others that we hold in our hearts.  We don’t forgive. We don’t forget. Not a step back.

Santiago Maldonado kidnapped and murdered by paramilitaries, Argentina 2017
Pellumb Marinkolla thrown out of a police station window, Greece 2016
Remi Fraisse killed by stun grenade, France 2014
Ilia Kareli tortured to death by prison guards, Greece 2014
43 young students kidnapped and murdered by cops, Mexico 2014
Michael Brown shot by cops, Ferguson (USA) 2014
Berkin Elvan shot by teargas canister by riot cops, Istanbul 2013
Mark Duggan shot by cops, UK 2011
Dimitris Kotzaridis killed by teargas, Athens 2011
Lambros Foundas shot by cops, Greece 2010
Stefano Gucci tortured to death by police, Italy 2009
Inigo Cabacas killed by rubber bullet, Basque country 2009
Giuseppe Uva beaten to death in a police station, Italy 2008
Alexis Grigoropoulos shot by cops, Greece 2008
Gabriele Sandri shot by cops, Italy 2007
Oury Jalloh burned alive in his cell by the cops, Germany 2005
Federico Aldrovandi beaten to death by cops, Italy 2005
Carlo Giuliani shot by cops, Italy, 2001
Sole e Baleno led to suicide in prison, Italy 1998
Christophoros Marinos excecuted by cops, Greece 1996
Halim Dener shot by cops, Germany 1994
Conny Wessmann killed by car when chased by cops, Germany 1989
Michalis Kaltezas shot by cops, Greece 1985
Iakovos Koumis beaten to death by riot cops, Greece 1980
Stamatina Kannelopoulou beaten to death by riot cops, Greece 1980
Francesco Lo Russio shot by cops, Italy 1977
Isidoros Isidoropoulos killed by car when chased by cops, Greece 1976

TO A BLACK DECEMBER!!!

–Some Mountain Comrades–

For more context on the murder of Alexis and the insurrectionary movement inflamed by it, check this video out. For more info on the police killing of Jai Williams, check out this link

Categories: News

Warrior Up: Techniques for sabotaging capitalist infrastructure and extractive industries

Anarchist News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 20:52

"The question is no longer one of theory, but of practice: How to blockade the flows of capitalism as to halt ecological degradation and human exploitation? It may end with generalised social war, but it begins with groups of friends. Hand in hand, bands of friends can co-ordinate to halt the flow of commodities and carbon. Flexing their muscles, perhaps just first for an hour. Then a day. Then a month. The goal: forever." - Introduction to the Apocalypse

Warriorup.noblogs.org is a research project open to any anonymous input, turning an eye towards the infrastructures and extractive industries that the capitalist economy depends upon - how they function, and how they are vulnerable to direct action.

This project is inspired by the infrastructural sabotage carried out by indigenous warriors in the territory dominated by the Canadian state during land and water defense in the last decades. We want to be a resource for anarchists and other rebels carrying out actions against the economy of death - how can we make these actions more effective, safe, creative, and reproducible?

We need the help of all the brilliant troublemakers in the international anarchist space to make this resource more relevant and comprehensive. Please email us texts that have appeared in guides or communiques (or more obscure sources, like industry literature or counter-insurgency manuals) that can help us to better contribute to taking down the mega-machine. Translation of material that isn’t yet in English would be very appreciated - we can translate from French or Spanish if you direct us towards the texts.

The ‘Infrastructure’ page lists actions and research categorized by target (road, pipeline, electricity, rail, fiber-optic and communication infrastructures). The ‘Arson and Sabotage’ page lists techniques, and is also categorized by target (cars, buildings, heavy machinery). The ‘Guides’ page collects publications on arson, sabotage, blockades, security, and warrior fieldcraft. The 'Maps' page lists infrastructure and extractive industry mapping projects.

Once the project is more comprehensive, we will release a zine containing the most relevant content.

warriorupthrowdown (at) riseup (dot) net

Tags: sabotageresearchcategory: Projects
Categories: News

How American Cities and States Are Fighting Climate Change Globally

deSmog - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 20:52
America's Pledge, #WeAreStillIn

By Emma Lecavalier, University of Toronto

Since the Trump administration announced last June its intended withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, attention — and hope — has turned to America’s cities and states.

Many local and regional governments actively voiced support for upholding the United States’ pledges under the Paris Agreement. Initiatives that represented those commitments, including the U.S. Climate Alliance, the We Are Still In declaration and America’s Pledge were all active participants at November’s UN climate conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12423'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: COP23UNFCCC climate conferenceParis AgreementTrump AdministrationGreen Climate Fund
Categories: News

Solecast: Kill The Activist In Your Head an interview w/ scott crow

Anarchist News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 20:29

Latest episode of the podcast SOLECAST hosted by Tim Holland.

Listen here

Scott is a long time organizer and activist and is best known as a co-founder of the Common Ground Relief Effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrine. Common Ground is the subject of his seminal book, “Black Flags & Windmills." His upcoming book “Setting Sights” is available for pre-order now on PM Press.

In this episode we have a critical and informative discussion with Scott Crow about new ways of thinking beyond resistance towards a politics of possibilities. We discuss some of the pitfalls of “activism” and the toxic subculture that can tend to exist within in it. Scott explains about how the vocabulary we use can alienate us from our goals and the world we want to build. We talk some shit about Alex Jones, right wing media and the dangers of it as well.

Tags: solecastpodcastscott crowcategory: Projects
Categories: News

ICIJ’s Anuška Delić makes Politico 28 Class of 2018

Global Muckracker - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:02

Anuška Delić is not someone who goes unnoticed. Opinionated, brazen and bold, her tenacity and relentlessness has made her the foremost investigative reporter in Slovenia and among the most influential in Europe. This week, she’s made the Politico 28 Class of 2018, “the list of doers, disrupters and dreamers who will transform European life, politics and ideas,” selected by the publication Politico.

And disrupt, she does.

Delić, an investigative and data journalist at Delo, is an network partner of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. She has worked on a number of significant cross-border reporting projects, such as the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and The Azerbaijani Laundromat.

More importantly, she launched, managed and coordinated The MEPs Project, a cross-border reporting project that was unprecedented in scope, challenging Members of European Parliament (MEPs) for greater transparency, and ultimately challenging the Parliament itself at the European Court of Justice.

Here she discusses the project, how it began, what it led to and what she’s learned from it so far.

How did you get the idea for The MEPs Project?

It started with a conversation about the European Parliament with my colleague Nils Mulvad from Denmark after I had requested data from Parliament exclusively for Slovenian MEPs. I was turned down. I was really upset because the Freedom of Information Act in Slovenia explicitly states that information pertaining to the spending of public money or exercise of public duty, which I was requesting, is public information and, in theory, I would be able to get this information more or less quickly.

Four women at the helm of 29 journalists V The European Parliament. #TheMEPsProject pic.twitter.com/lqNddFslXL

— Anuška Delić (@007_delic) October 19, 2017

In my conversation with Nils, a lightbulb went off and I said, “Oh, wow, maybe I should just get journalists from all EU member states to file the same request and put pressure on the European Parliament.” Not only that, it would be a symbolic push with journalists across Europe demanding the same thing. This is how the project started.

What were some findings from the project that surprised you?

The investigation we did this year was on the national offices the MEPs used to conduct their work in their member states. I’m not talking about Brussels or Strasbourg, but their national offices in their home countries. We started this project with the primary question: “How do the MEPs spend the allowance they receive?” That allowance is about EUR 4,342 per month as a lump sum. No questions asked. It’s supposed to be spent specifically, more or less, on their office costs — rent, etc.

Blindly trusting 751 MEPs to follow rules without any oversight is utopian. Why would they spend the allowance on how it was meant to be spent if no one is looking?

So we thought, okay, let’s see who the MEPs pay their rent to. We wanted to find out who the office owners were, at least in countries where we could find this out, as not all countries had open land records.

In the process, we found out that national offices of a third of MEP’s could not be accounted for! That was a huge surprise. We were naive in thinking that if an MEP received 4,000 or so euros every month to finance his or her office costs, we assumed they would have an office. We didn’t think it was possible they wouldn’t have a national office at all.

What were the greatest challenges and obstructions you faced?

The MEPs didn’t call us, and offered us no chance to focus and narrow our requests.

There were a few countries where not even one MEP answered the questions put forward by reporters and the reporters tried everything: we called, visited, everything. We had trouble in Poland and in Bulgaria, where not a single MEP answered our questions.

We needed to call them because some of them had no information published about their national office. In Italy, many MEPs didn’t answer at all. In Germany, some MEPs didn’t answer; instead the party chairmen answered on their behalf with blanket statements insisting they were doing everything according to the law.

If had we been asking these questions a few months before European elections, would they have ignored reporters’ questions? Maybe we picked the wrong time.

What are the implications of MEPs refusing to be transparent on how public money is spent?

Our investigations showed that blindly trusting 751 MEPs to follow rules without any oversight is utopian. That will never happen. Why would they spend the allowance on how it was meant to be spent if no one is looking?

I think many things go unnoticed in European institutions because the media and the public are not paying enough attention. Anuška Delić

I really believe that [opaque] public spending was not among EU’s founding principles. EUR 40 million has been spent annually on these allowances without any questions asked for years. We’re talking more than a couple of hundred million euros here. There was one MEP who claimed he was saving this money for a pension. Another who claimed he donated this money to his political party. This is crazy!

This echoes the UK Parliament expenses scandal a few years back, which caused an uproar. Have you seen a similar reaction?

At the national level there was some shock. People were surprised some MEPs didn’t have an office, but there hasn’t been as big of a reaction on the national level as there was for the UK scandal. The Parliament reacted by establishing a working group but it seems so far that it’s not going to implement auditing but only a more specific list of what the allowance can and can’t be used for, but they won’t monitor MEP spending in any way although we’ve shown that this is absolutely necessary. This is public money. I think many things go unnoticed in European institutions because the media and the public are not paying enough attention.

The MEPs Project journalists have taken the European Parliament before the European Court of Justice for refusal to provide access to certain information. Could you explain the background of this?

When the project began in 2015, we filed the Freedom of Information (FOI) requests jointly but we knew we weren’t going to get these documents because a year prior to this project, the Parliament refused to give me access to them for Slovenian MEPs. We knew eventually when the request process was over we would have to decide whether we were going to the European Ombudsman or to the European Court of Justice. The Ombudsman’s decisions are not binding because even if the Ombudsman were to say, “This is public information, you need to give it to the journalists!” the European Parliament can still decline. We knew we had to go to court.

What was the atmosphere like in court?

Our pro-bono lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar, a lawyer from Nataša’s office, Rosana Lemut Strle, and their assistant Tina Kraigher Mišić and I were present for this hearing. It felt really great to be there. I was extremely proud of the fact that four women were taking on the European Parliament and I was very proud of the work Nataša, Rosana and Tina did for the case. It was three and a half hours but it felt like five intense minutes.

Related articles

We don’t yet know when they’re going to rule on the case. What surprised me, though, was that their defense was based on an “excessive burden exemption.” It was only at the court hearing when we were informed that we requested approximately a million documents. The Parliament claimed they only hold about 900,000 documents on paper and that an MEP can have one cupboard full of papers pertaining to their allowance spending and some may have thirty cupboards full.

Whenever a large amount of documents is in question the Parliament should call the journalists requesting the information to negotiate about the types of documents needed for the story and it may well be not all of them are necessary. Due to a lack of transparency we don’t know what documents are valuable to us or not, but the MEPs didn’t call us, and offered us no chance to focus and narrow our requests.

So do they each have their own accounting process?

I’m afraid the internal supervision is weak. The defense was illustrating their difficulties in “cupboards.” The judges asked as to how many cupboards we’re talking about and the defense said it depended on the MEP. So basically, these MEPs are given these allowances, where they need to provide some kind of receipt and they just stick them in a cupboard? They don’t submit them into a system or something? They should have some kind of electronic oversight, but keep everything on paper. I do hope our case will not only lead to a greater transparency but also to a better document management.

Isn’t it their job to answer to their constituencies?

Well, this should always be the case. If it isn’t then we, the journalists, step in. We also heard one more, if I may say, “analogous” argument at the court. The defense claimed that because we are now living in the age of Twitter and Facebook (the MEPs) will be bugged all the time on social media about how they spend their allowance, which is our money.

Many things go unnoticed in European institutions because the media and the public are not paying enough attention.

But as journalists, we have one simple answer to this assertion: The more transparent you are, the less questions will get asked! And when we discuss public money spending, the exemptions should really be limited. In our case we mostly focused on personal data protection as an obstacle to greater transparency. We claim that when performing an MEP function politicians cannot expect as much privacy as “regular” EU citizens.

As a veteran reporter, what advice would you give younger reporters, especially in dealing with FOI requests that are obstructed?

Get a good lawyer! I really encourage journalists to check out European institutions. There’s so much untapped information there that they can work with and it’s not taken advantage of nearly enough.

As far as national requests are concerned, go out there and don’t stop. Any request that we make as journalists, even if we get declined, and then complain and sometimes succeed only half-way and so forth, all of this functions as a way to open up government to the public whether local, national or supranational. FOI requests and complaints, the entire process, is inherently connected to working in the public interest.

Are there any particular databases on this project that you think are underused by journalists?

There’s the database we launched on MEP offices for the public to search, verify or even send us tips to whether an MEP has an office or not. If they have an office, we’ve input information on who owns it, whatever public information we can get about it, and how this MEP voted on transparency of public spending.

This article was written by  and first published by the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

The post ICIJ’s Anuška Delić makes Politico 28 Class of 2018 appeared first on ICIJ.

Categories: News

Pages