News

New York: Wobbly Waiters Stage “Sip In” to Demand IWW Recognition

It's Goin Down - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 01:42

The post New York: Wobbly Waiters Stage “Sip In” to Demand IWW Recognition appeared first on It's Going Down.

This following report and video comes from the Stardust Family Diner, which is a group of workers who are fighting as part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to be in a union. Recently the workers won the rehiring of several dozen employees who were fired in an anti-union campaign conducted by management. 

Some footage [see video in this post] from last night’s “Sip In” at Stardust diner, where servers and former staff are fighting for the right to join a union (that’s right, they don’t even have the right to fight for their rights), along with a laundry list of other abuses perpetuated by management.

The idea was to disrupt the Saturday dinner rush—several arrived, were seated, and only ordered water (with copious amounts of lemon), stayed for an hour or so, tipped the server generously (so that they wouldn’t be punished financially), and then as we left, told the manager that they should allow the servers to join the union.

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Some footage [2:15] from last night's “Sip In” at Stardust diner, where servers and former staff are fighting for the right to join a union (that’s right, they don’t even have the right to fight for their rights), along with a laundry list of other abuses perpetuated by management.The idea was to disrupt the Saturday dinner rush—several arrived, were seated, and only ordered water (with copious amounts of lemon), stayed for an hour or so, tipped the server generously (so that they wouldn’t be punished financially), and then as we left, told the manager that they should allow the servers to join the union.The very talented singing staff started the action by singing Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (feat. in the musical “School of Rock”), then went into Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid.” During the chorus (“Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union…”), those participants in the diner, stood up, held their waters and ketchup bottles aloft and sang along (To the wtf-bewilderment of all the tourists). Then one of the servers who was fired last week for joining the union came in off the streets, grabbed a mic, and somehow turned “New York, New York” into an accusatory political anthem. She stood on the booth, pointed to the patrons, and after she belted the final note, raised her fist, and shouted “Worker’s Rights!”Best dinner in quite a while…

Posted by Thanatos Gonzales on Sunday, September 25, 2016

The very talented singing staff started the action by singing Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (feat. in the musical “School of Rock”), then went into Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid.” During the chorus (“Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union…”), those participants in the diner, stood up, held their waters and ketchup bottles aloft and sang along (To the wtf-bewilderment of all the tourists). Then one of the servers who was fired last week for joining the union came in off the streets, grabbed a mic, and somehow turned “New York, New York” into an accusatory political anthem. She stood on the booth, pointed to the patrons, and after she belted the final note, raised her fist, and shouted “Worker’s Rights!”

Best dinner in quite a while…

Categories: News

Court Orders Nonprofit Law Firm to Pay $52,000 to Oil and Gas Company for Defending Local Fracking Waste Ban

deSmog - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 00:59
Marcellus Shale gas well in Pennsylvania

In early January, a federal judge ordered the nonprofit law firm Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to pay $52,000 to an oil and gas exploration company for defending a rural Pennsylvania township’s ban on underground injections of frack waste.

This sanction comes at the request of Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, but is part of a growing trend to prevent municipalities across the nation from pushing back against state and federal attempts to overrule them.

Tags: hydraulic fracturingfrackingfracking wastewaterCommunity Environmental Legal Defense Fundpennsylvania
Categories: News

Tenants Demand Nuspor Investments drop Rent Increases

It's Goin Down - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 23:43

The post Tenants Demand Nuspor Investments drop Rent Increases appeared first on It's Going Down.

This morning a group of our neighbours from 1251 King, along with members of Parkdale Organize, travelled together from Parkdale to the uptown offices of the landlord, Nuspor Investments. We came to demand Nuspor drop the above guideline rent increase at the building. We also brought a stack of requests for repairs that have gone long neglected in tenants’ units.

On a Wednesday morning during business hours we arrived to find the office door locked. Our calls to the Nuspor office phone extensions went unanswered. Rather than hear from their tenants, Nuspor decided to close their office altogether.

In the lobby of Nuspor’s office we met and discussed next steps for escalating action against the landlord. If recent organizing by working class people in Parkdale is any indication, Nuspor will not be able to evade its tenants for long.

Categories: News

San Francisco: Trump Supporters reunite with the Alt-Right against Sanctuary Cities

It's Goin Down - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 23:32

The post San Francisco: Trump Supporters reunite with the Alt-Right against Sanctuary Cities appeared first on It's Going Down.

On Saturday December 16, right wing activists organized two separate but coinciding events after Jose Inez Garcia Zarate was acquitted for the accidental death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco in 2015. Though Garcia Zarate was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a jury found him not guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a deadly weapon. In response, various factions on the right gathered in San Francisco to protest sanctuary city policies and to hold a vigil for Kate Steinle, disregarding the Steinle family’s wishes for Kate’s death and the verdict to not be further politicized.

Jourdin Davis event page

Trump referenced Kate Steinle’s death during his campaign and the issue was revisited with the conclusion of Garcia Zarate’s trial. Following the verdict, Jourdin Davis called for a rally against sanctuary cities in San Francisco’s Union Square. The rally was to end with a vigil for Steinle at Pier 14, organized by Lindsay Grathwohl. These events saw a revival of sorts of the broader coalition between mainstream Trump supporters and more far right, white nationalist groups, though it was clear the overall turnout and energy was deflated in comparison to events earlier in the year such as Berkeley on April 15. Counter protests organized by the Left brought together anti-racists, immigration activists, and anti-fascists and ended up outnumbering those on the right despite being organized in a relatively short amount of time.

Organizer Jourdin Davis of Berkeley writes a post on Facebook stating his position against diversity

Jourdin Davis’s pro-border wall, anti-sanctuary event got off to a rocky start. After creating a Facebook event to organize, Davis faced an overwhelming amount of pressure online and he cancelled the rally soon after. However, this first Facebook event page showed the potential for the return of the big tent-style organizing that occurred on the right for their “free speech” rallies. Known local white supremacists and fascists announced their intention to attend. In particular, Christopher Locke of Sacramento, who has a history of violence, indicated he would arrive to the rally armed. This was welcomed by Jourdin Davis.

Christopher Locke’s Facebook page Jourdin Davis and his partner Alexandria welcome Christopher Locke’s attendance

Lindsay Grathwohl decided to host a vigil for Kate Steinle after Davis cancelled his event. Eventually, Davis made a second event page on Facebook announcing that his rally was back on and would happen in tandem with Grathwohl’s vigil. Right wing activists gathered in Union Square before marching to Pier 14 where Steinle was accidentally shot. The politics being expressed were dominated by both implicit and explicit racist anti-immigrant sentiments. They were confronted by a larger rally of Leftists, which followed and heckled the racists, making it known they weren’t welcome in the Bay Area.

Just like most other right wing events in the Bay Area throughout 2017, December 16th showed that Trump supporters don’t care who they organize with- even if they are white supremacists and Neo-Nazis. This reveals a degree of desperation on the part of Trump supporters who repeatedly cheer on a president that has stabbed his base in the back and continues to lose what little support he once had. Among the far-right groups in attendance at the rally against sanctuary cities were the Proud Boys and Identity Evropa, including individuals who had previously brought violence to cities such as Berkeley and Charlottesville.

Proud Boys at Pier 14

It’s ironic that Trump supporters claiming to honor Kate Steinle would be comfortable with the presence of the Neo-Nazis in Identity Evropa. Kate Steinle’s family asked the city of San Francisco to remove the memorial that Identity Evropa set up for her on the night of Garcia Zarate’s acquittal because they were uncomfortable with receiving support from white supremacists. This is not the first time Identity Evropa has acted in response to Steinle’s death. In October 2016, the group held a dismal 20 minute rally at Pier 14 before getting scared of anti-fascist mobilization and running away. The rally on December 16 shows how Trump supporters help to give cover to fascists and facilitate their organizing by creating events and providing the far-right with space to recruit and spread their own talking points.

Guy with flag giving an anti-Semitic lecture. pic.twitter.com/vg8cQP3WXG

— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) December 16, 2017

His name is Patrick Little.
Says he's running for U.S. Senate.
At San Francisco anti-sanctuary city rally. pic.twitter.com/CUf6rGWvDl

— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) December 16, 2017

Patrick Little accompanied Identity Evropa members at this rally. Dressed in a suit and carrying a US flag, Little was observed by local reporters shouting and giving an anti-Semitic rant. Little is an ex-marine running for Senate in 2018 and has been banned from Twitter due to his anti-Semitic tweets. One Identity Evropa member who attended previous rallies in the Bay Area as well as Unite the Right in Charlottesville was also at this event, marching alongside the organizer Will Johnson and speaking with Ashton Whitty, former member of the Berkeley College Republicans.

Identity Evropa member that attended SF event on 12/16/17 attended previous rallies; top: UC Berkeley 5/6/16 and San Francisco 10/17/16, middle: UC Davis 1/13/17 and Berkeley 3/4/17, bottom: Berkeley 4/15/17 and Charlottesville 8/12/17 Identity Evropa member in SF march and talking to Ashton Whitty

Ultimately, December 16 appears to be an attempt to use the acquittal of Garcia Zarate as one last gasp for breath for a movement that has had trouble maintaining a presence in the streets, especially after Charlottesville. While it did draw together a broader coalition than the past few efforts on the Right, the energy and number of attendees was low. Moreover, it doesn’t appear that this cause has the potential to inspire sustained activity, and the Right has mostly moved on from this issue. Going forward, anti-fascists should continue to be aware of the ways that elements of the alt-right insert themselves into more mainstream conservative spaces, and find strategies and tactics that break those links in order to prevent the further mainstreaming of fascist politics and organizing.

If you have any information regarding the white supremacists discussed above or any other white nationalist groups in Northern California, please get in touch with us at nocara@riseup.net

Categories: News

France: ZAD declares victory as airport plan dropped!

Anarchist News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 23:15

From Freedom News UK

In a communique the famous horizontal community Zone à Defendre (ZAD) has declared a “historic victory” and called for “expropriated peasants and inhabitants to be able to fully recover their rights as soon as possible.”

The entirety of the land area devoted to the airport project — 1,650 hectares of land declared as being of public utility in 2008 — currently belongs to the State, with the exception of three roads crossing it. the ZAD has argued that this land should be kept in public hands and, rather than turned into an airport, put into forms of public lease for the benefit of the community and wildlife.

Responding to reports that the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project is now officially dead, reps for the ten-year environmental occupation campaign wrote:

This afternoon, the government has just announced the abandonment of the project.

We note that the declaration of public utility [key to enabling large projects to function and compulsory purchases to happen] will not officially be extended. The project will definitely be null and void on February 8th.

This is a historic victory against a destructive development project. This has been possible thanks to a long movement as determined as it is varied.

First of all, we would like to warmly welcome all those who have mobilised against this airport project over the past 50 years.

Regarding the future of the ZAD, the whole movement reaffirms today:

The need for expropriated peasants and inhabitants to be able to fully recover their rights as soon as possible.
The refusal of any expulsion of those who have come to live in recent years in the grove to defend it and who wish to continue to live there and take care of it.
A long-term commitment to take care of the ZAD lands by the movement in all its diversity — peasants, naturalists, local residents, associations, old and new inhabitants.

To implement it, we will need a period of freezing the institutional redistribution of land. In the future, this territory must be able to remain an area of ​​social, environmental and agricultural experimentation.

With regard to the issue of the reopening of the D281 road, closed by the public authorities in 2013, the movement undertakes to answer this question itself. Police presence or intervention would only make the situation worse.

We also wish, on this memorable day, to send a strong message of solidarity to other struggles against major destructive projects and for the defense of threatened territories.

We call to converge widely on February 10th in the grove to celebrate the abandonment of the airport and to continue building the future of the ZAD.

Acipa, Coordination of Opponents, COPAIn 44, Naturalists in struggle, the inhabitants of the ZAD.

https://zad.nadir.org/spip.php?article5034#info2018-01-17-14-41

Tags: Francela zadwinningcategory: International
Categories: News

Update on the Earth First! Winter Rendezvous in Southern Mississippi

It's Goin Down - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 22:55

The post Update on the Earth First! Winter Rendezvous in Southern Mississippi appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following event announcement comes from Earth First!, and offers details about the Winter Rendezvous in Southern Mississippi. 

Greetings and a Happy Gregorian New Year to All!

An autonomous group of Earth First!ers has been busy all winter long searching for a small corner of swamplandia, deep down in the dirty gulf south, that might be willing to host the finest gathering of scumbags to ever assemble… since like seven months ago. And to our own surprise, we did manage to find the perfect place: rural and accessible, beautiful and wild, amphibian and terrestrial, noisome and moist.

From the wetland bayous of the Gulf Coast, we are excited to invite Earth First!ers and like minded accomplices from all corners of Turtle Island to join us for the 2018 Winter Rendezvous and Organizer’s Conference: February 23-28th. This year’s gathering will be taking place in occupied Choctaw territory, roughly 70 miles east of New Orleans. The event will begin with the Winter Rendezvous on Friday the 23th, which will last through the weekend. The rendezvous portion of the event is open to anyone who shares affinity with the Earth First! movement and/or its guiding principles of biocentrism, deep ecology, and direct action (of course this means law enforcement and other similarly positioned/opinionated assholes are not welcome). The weekend will be filled with workshops and panel discussions featuring local organizers and community leaders from across the Gulf South, as well as skill shares and trainings on topics like mutual aid disaster relief, fighting toxic prisons, practicing good consent, climbing on rope, and many more.

On Monday, February 26th, we will begin to transition into the Organizer’s Conference (OC) portion of the event. This half of the gathering is intended for folks who are involved in movement organizing work and want to spend several days meeting and discussing the finer points of improving on that work. We are still in the process of setting the agenda for the OC and welcome suggestions/requests to byobef@riseup.net. The OC is designed for a much narrower audience than the Winter Rendezvous, meaning we expect there will be many folks who will only attend the Rendezvous portion over the weekend and then head home sometime on Monday the 26th.

We will be camping about a dozen miles upstream from the Gulf Coast itself, but tragically this nearby coastline was colonized and adulterated long, long ago. The land was stolen by white supremacists (aka capitalists) and used as a slave-operated cotton plantation, then in the early 20th century the plantation was converted to a luxury hotel with an accompanying golf course, which was then replaced in 1979 by a 2,280 acre highly toxic titanium dioxide plant, operated by the chemical giant Du Pont. This intertwined history of structured domination illustrates why we refer to the Gulf South region as the Belly of the Beast.

Here’s another fun fact: over 80% of all US oil pipelines terminate along the Gulf Coast between Houston and New Orleans. This region is home to more oil, gas and chemical refining infrastructure than anywhere else on planet Earth, yet even here the industrial capitalists remain unsatisfied. We are inundated with new infrastructure proposals every year, including projects like the recently permitted Bayou Bridge pipeline, the tail end of ETP’s Dakota Access Pipeline system. In sum, the Belly of the Beast is where we must fight to prevent the Gulf South from devolving into the world’s largest toxic sacrifice zone.

So, if you love singing in the sun as much as you hate crying in polar vortexes (at least that’s what we assume y’all must be doing up there), then please join us in the Gulf South this February! Belly of the Beast Earth First! wants you to put on those action socks and grab a flotation device. The swamps are calling.

See ya there!

Categories: News

Red Fawn Fallis Reaches Non-Cooperating Plea Agreement

It's Goin Down - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 22:32

The post Red Fawn Fallis Reaches Non-Cooperating Plea Agreement appeared first on It's Going Down.

Mandan, ND: Attorneys for Red Fawn Fallis today notified the court of a change of plea pursuant to an agreement with prosecutors. If the judge accepts the plea, the government will drop the most serious charge and recommend a sentence of no more than seven years for the remaining two charges.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Ms. Fallis would plead to Counts 1 and 3 of her indictment (Civil Disorder and Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon) and the government would drop Count 2 (Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Felony Crime of Violence). This latter charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and the possibility of up to life in prison.

The next step is a hearing on Monday January 22, 2018 in Bismarck at which time the plea will be tendered to the court and a later date will be scheduled for when the judge will sentence Red Fawn on the remaining two charges.

Under the agreement, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than seven years in prison, although the judge does have the authority to go as high as 10 years on these charges. There is no minimum sentence. If the judge decides not to accept the agreement the case will continue to trial on all three charges.

Red Fawn has been fighting an uphill battle at every stage of this case. She is facing up to life in prison and the prospect of a trial in North Dakota where there has been extensive pre-trial publicity adverse to Water Protectors and against the no-DAPL movement. Rulings against Red Fawn at every step of proceedings have left the defense with insufficient information about the paid FBI informant who became her boyfriend and who plans to testify against her at trial. The government has refused to provide full disclosure of even potentially exculpatory surveillance and other records in the possession of TigerSwan and other private security firms who coordinated with law enforcement during the encampments at Standing Rock and had targeted Red Fawn as a leader.

Given these circumstances, Red Fawn has made the very difficult decision to enter into a plea agreement that still risks significant prison time, but removes the mandatory minimum and the possibility of life imprisonment. The agreement relates only to Red Fawn and will not harm other Water Protectors.

Red Fawn Fallis is a community leader and human rights advocate. She is well-known and respected for her work with youth and as a medic as well as for her deep commitment to her people and to protecting the water. She was incarcerated for one year awaiting trial and is currently confined to a halfway house. We look forward to the day she can return home to her family and her community and continue her great work.

Water Protector Legal Collective stands by Red Fawn and we call on Water Protectors and community members to continue to support her through this difficult time. Please follow her Support Committee websitefor information on how to write to her and be in solidarity with her through her sentencing hearing and as she serves her prison time.

This plea would make Red Fawn the first Water Protector to be sentenced to a substantial prison term for activity at Standing Rock. There are five other Water Protectors with pending federal charges preparing for trials in the coming months and over 300 with pending state charges.

Ms. Fallis is represented by attorneys Molly Armour, Jessie Cook and Bruce Ellison.

Links:

WPLC Case Page for Red Fawn

Red Fawn’s Support Committee

Categories: News

Durham, NC: “NO WALL NO BORDER” Graffiti in Solidarity with #J20 and FL Prison Strikers

It's Goin Down - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 22:28

The post Durham, NC: “NO WALL NO BORDER” Graffiti in Solidarity with #J20 and FL Prison Strikers appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following short report was sent anonymously to It’s Going Down

A group of friends spent a casual and soon-to-be snowy evening decorating a huge wall in view of Durham’s highway 147. We hope this can warm the hearts of friends and comrades facing repression on both sides of the wall. Winter is coming!

Categories: News

Norfolk, VA: Solidarity with Operation PUSH

It's Goin Down - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 22:26

The post Norfolk, VA: Solidarity with Operation PUSH appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following report from Tidewater IWW details an action in solidarity with #OperationPUSH: 

On January 15th, in lieu of our regular letter writing hours, a group of fellow-workers from the Tidewater Industrial Workers of the World took to the streets in love and solidarity with the #OperationPUSH strike in Florida.

We held a banner and handed out flyers and literature to raise awareness about the strike, prison conditions, and prison struggle both locally and nationally. We concluded the night with a demonstration at the local Norfolk City Jail, where we made noise, chanted, danced, and sent love to the people incarcerated inside.

They, in turn, smiled and laughed, jumped up and down, waved other people over to come and watch and read the banner, and danced along to the chants. One fellow-worker even spotted an incarcerated worker holding up and pointing to a copy of the monthly zine we just finished producing called Breaking Bars, a compilation of poetry, prose, and other writings by incarcerated people in Virginia!

Though we’ve been having hard luck getting information to the inside, hopefully now news of the strike will spread like fire inside the jail and perhaps inspire some new conversations.

Categories: News

Red Fawn Fallis Enters Non-Cooperating Plea Agreement

It's Goin Down - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 22:14

The post Red Fawn Fallis Enters Non-Cooperating Plea Agreement appeared first on It's Going Down.

Mandan, ND – Attorneys for Red Fawn Fallis have announced that they have reached an agreement with government prosecutors in her case, which was set to go to trial later this month on January 28th.

Under the agreement announced on Tuesday, Fallis would plead guilty to counts 1 (Civil Disorder) and 3 (Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon) of the indictment brought against her, in exchange for dropping the more serious second count of Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Felony Crime of Violence.

The US Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case has agreed to ask the judge for a sentence of no more than 7 years, but District Judge Daniel Hovland could still legally set a sentence of up to 10 years.

A statement from the Water Protector Legal Collective explained the motivation behind Red Fawn’s choice to take the plea:

Red Fawn has been fighting an uphill battle at every stage of this case. She is facing up to life in prison and the prospect of a trial in North Dakota where there has been extensive pre-trial publicity adverse to Water Protectors and against the no-DAPL movement. Rulings against Red Fawn at every step of proceedings have left the defense with insufficient information about the paid FBI informant who became her boyfriend and who plans to testify against her at trial. The government has refused to provide full disclosure of even potentially exculpatory surveillance and other records in the possession of TigerSwan and other private security firms who coordinated with law enforcement during the encampments at Standing Rock and had targeted Red Fawn as a leader.

Given these circumstances, Red Fawn has made the very difficult decision to enter into a plea agreement that still risks significant prison time, but removes the mandatory minimum and the possibility of life imprisonment. The agreement relates only to Red Fawn and will not harm other Water Protectors.”

Fallis had initially been charged in North Dakota state court with the attempted murder of a police officer after she was arrested during the military police raid on October 27, 2016 to seize treaty land near the Standing Rock reservation for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and remove an indigenous resistance camp from its path.

North Dakota state charges against Red Fawn were later dropped, and new federal charges were filed, with an indictment bringing 3 counts of Civil Disorder, Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Felony Crime of Violence, and Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon.

Police said that they had targeted Red Fawn for arrest because they saw her acting as an “agitator,” and officers claimed that when they placed her under arrest, she pulled a gun and fired several shots (nobody was struck).

Fallis’ supporters have long maintained her innocence, and records recently obtained by The Intercept show that the gun in question actually belonged to Heath Harmon, Fallis’ boyfriend at the time, who was working as an FBI informant.

The plea agreement is to be officially tendered in court hearing in Bismarck on Monday, January 22, when, if Judge Hovland accepts the plea, a sentencing date will be set. If Judge Hovland does not accept the plea bargain, Fallis could still go to trial on all three charges.

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Categories: News

SCOTTeVEST CEO, who markets jackets to preppers, Says customers are ‘Gullible and Fucking Idiots’

Off Grid Survival - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 21:16

Scott Jordan, Founder and CEO of the shitty clothing company SCOTTeVEST just showed his downright disdain for his customers in a facebook post where he called his customers “Gullible” and “F*cking Idiots”. [...]

The post SCOTTeVEST CEO, who markets jackets to preppers, Says customers are ‘Gullible and Fucking Idiots’ appeared first on Off Grid Survival - Wilderness & Urban Survival Skills.

Categories: News

A Community Currency in Rural Kenya

Grassroots Economic Survival - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 18:11
Link: A Wonderful Experience in Miyani

I am a French researcher involved in an MSc Agricultural Development at the University of Copenhagen. I am very interested in Community Currency, especially regarding their potential to foster sustainable agriculture, food security and endogenous development in developing countries.

In this context, I am currently doing amazing fieldwork in the rural area of Miyani (near Mombasa, Kenya) where a community currency -the Miyani-Pesa (MP) (part of the Sarafu-Credit system)- has been launched last August. Grassroots Economics has, indeed, supported a local agricultural cooperative in (1) investing in a posho mill; (2) launching the MP (which is backed by the milling service) and an inital network of 40 local smallholders.

[...]

Although the MP is still at an early development stage, 14 out of 36 interviewees mentioned that MP helps them on their daily food purchases by allowing them to buy food or mill their maize even when they experience a lack of Kenyan shillings. More astonishing, 60% of users noticed that they could already buy more diverse food thanks to the MP. Inital analysis of the food consumption booklets shows that in average, the non-users spend 23 Ksh per day per household member for food while the Miyani-pesa users spend 41 Ksh. This is an astonishing difference after only a few months!

Besides, 60% of interviewees also underlined that, by using MP, they could increase their savings in Kenyan Shillings. They would use the savings for paying the school fees, developing their farm and/or increasing their business stocks. For instance, one of the respondents underlined that he saved 300 Ksh (more than a weeks wage for him) since September and could, therefore, invest on his farm by buying one chicken.

Read the rest at Grassroots Economics

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

How Black Businesses Helped Save the Civil Rights Movement

Grassroots Economic Survival - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 17:58
Link: How Black Businesses Helped Save the Civil Rights Movement

The story of the Montgomery bus boycott usually focuses on two key figures: Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. But without the development of car pools and the support of small businesses, the boycott could not have succeeded. These stories demonstrate that the support of small black-owned businesses helped the civil rights movement to succeed in a variety of ways. King, for example, traveled widely during the civil rights movement. One magazine estimated that King travelled nearly 780,000 miles per year in the late 1950s as he preached against segregation. Such wide travel would have necessitated considerable material support. Local businesses played a key role.

In Mississippi, black business owners were also on the front lines, enduring pressure from the white community. In addition to preaching at four different congregations, Reverend George Lee ran a prosperous printing business and a grocery store, positioning him as a prominent leader in Belzoni, Mississippi’s black community. He was the first African American in Humphreys County to get his name on the voting list and organized the Belzoni, Mississippi branch of the NAACP in 1953 along with his friend Gus Courts, another grocery store owner.  Lee and Courts registered hundreds of black voters in a county where no black person had voted since Reconstruction. In 1955, after regularly receiving telephone threats that said, “You’re number one on a list of people we don’t need around here anymore,” Lee was shot and killed while returning from picking up his preaching suit at the dry cleaners. The investigating sheriff dismissed the death as merely an automobile accident and said the lead pellets lodged in what remained of his jaw were just dental fillings. Gus Courts then endured threats that wholesalers would not deliver goods to his grocery store and a local bank refused to do business with him unless he handed over NAACP records.  But this did not deter Courts. Despite threats that he would face a similar fate as Lee, he continued to push for voter registration. In response, white-owned gas stations stopped selling gasoline to him. Recognizing the power of black-owned enterprise, Courts started pooling money within the black community so that it could purchase its own gas station. After refusing to remove his name from the voter registration list, Courts was shot twice while standing inside his store, but survived.

Read the rest at Institute for New Economic Thinking

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

The Enigmatic Anarchist

Anarchist News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 16:13

via Jacobin

An interview with Jacqueline Jones by Arvind Dilawar

Lucy Parsons is often lionized as a pioneering black radical, a powerful writer and orator who championed workers’ emancipation through organizations like the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), while flouting racist conventions with her white husband, Albert Parsons.

But while this sketch carries the patina of truth, it is, like so many aspects of Parsons, rife with contradictions. Throughout her life, Parsons hid her background as an African American and a former slave, instead claiming she was of Mexican and Native American descent. She refrained from denouncing the plight of black workers, focusing almost exclusively on an urban working class composed primarily of European immigrants. And despite being a delegate at the founding convention of the IWW in 1905, her involvement with the radical union thereafter was minimal.

Yet her journey from slave to nationally recognized radical voice, her tireless advocacy for workers, and her undeniable bravery in the face of murderous state repression made her stand out in an era full of notable leftists.

Parsons largely faded from the popular imagination following her death in 1942. It wasn’t until 1976 that the first biography of her, Lucy Parsons: An American Revolutionary by Carolyn Ashbaugh, was published. The second — Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical by Jacqueline Jones was just released by Basic Books. Jacobin recently spoke with Jones, a renowned historian at the University of Texas, about Parsons’s political evolution, her lifetime of tribulations, and her many, many faces.

AD

In light of the old anarchist slogan “no gods, no masters,” it seems natural that Lucy Parsons, an ex-slave, would be attracted to anarchism, but her political evolution was not so simple. Can you explain how she went from freedwoman to anarchist?

JJ

The development of Lucy Parsons’s political ideology was entwined with that of her husband, Albert Parsons. As a teenager, Albert served in the Confederate Army, but he lacked any principled commitment to the Southern cause. After the war, Albert returned to Waco, Texas, and became active in the Republican Party. He played a major role in helping freedmen register and vote, and urged them to seize their rights as free and equal citizens. It was during this period that Albert realized he possessed considerable talent as a powerful, even fearless, orator. Gradually, he developed political ambitions, as evidenced by his attempt to curry favor with prominent Republicans in Texas.

He and Lucy married in 1872, when Republicans controlled the state government and (at least in some areas) approved of interracial marriage. The Democrats regained control of the state the following year, prompting the couple to flee to Chicago, where they settled in a German immigrant community. He worked as a printer, and she set up shop as a seamstress.

Albert and Lucy partook of German immigrants’ radical sensibilities and embraced socialism. Just as Texas Republicans challenged the powerful Democratic Party and its commitment to slavery, so Chicago socialists challenged both major political parties and their commitment to capitalism.

Albert once again relished his role as an outsider and thorn in the side of the establishment. Several times in the late 1870s, he ran for local office on the socialist ticket but lost every time. He and Lucy became convinced that the franchise was a poor vehicle for class revolution. They pointed out that many workers could not afford to take time off from their jobs to vote, the two major parties had a tenacious hold on the loyalties of the white laboring classes, and the political process itself was corrupted by the influence of big money and greedy lawmakers.

In the early 1880s, the Parsonses abandoned the ballot box and turned to anarchism. They argued that partisan politics was a waste of time and that workers’ direct action against the capitalist system was the only true path to revolution. They noted that technological innovation in the workplace was eliminating jobs for not only factory workers but the middle classes as well. Soon, they claimed, few Americans would be able to afford to purchase the goods made in this country and, at that point, capitalism would collapse. Then workers would organize themselves into specialized trade unions, which would serve as the embryos of a new, egalitarian society — one driven by the welfare of the collective and not by the profit-seeking of a few. This new society would have no need for wages or for war.

Lucy Parsons remained committed to these ideas throughout her long life, even in the face of evidence that the capitalist system was flexible, able to accommodate many new workers, and to create many new kinds of jobs.

AD

Can you describe the impact of the Haymarket Affair on Lucy?

JJ

During the Great Railroad Strike of the summer of 1877 — when Albert made a name for himself as an orator and labor organizer — the Chicago police mobilized as if for battle and attacked protesters, wounding and killing even those meeting indoors for peaceful purposes. The Parsonses and other radicals became convinced that the laboring classes must defend themselves against the police, private security guards, and federal troops armed with rifles, cannon, and Gatling guns. These radicals began to urge workers to take up arms to protect themselves and their families.

The meeting organized by anarchists in Chicago’s Haymarket Square the evening of May 4, 1886, was a direct response to police attacks on striking workers, who were agitating for an eight-hour day. The Haymarket rally was a peaceful one until eighty policemen arrived in the square and someone threw a bomb, killing seven officers and wounding untold numbers of people.

Later, during the trial, state prosecutors admitted that they could not determine who threw the bomb, but went ahead and charged seven anarchists with murder and conspiracy. According to the state, these men, including Albert Parsons, were guilty by their association with Chicago’s anarchist press. In November of 1887, four of the defendants, including Albert, were hanged.

The Haymarket trial came to symbolize the state-sponsored persecution of anarchists, a corrupt judicial system, a complicit mainstream press, and the enduring vulnerability of all workers to well-armed police forces. Many famous socialists and anarchists, including Eugene Debs and Emma Goldman, later said that they were radicalized by Haymarket.

Albert was incarcerated between June 1886 and his death the following year. During that time, Lucy launched her own career as an orator and agitator, traveling the country to raise money for the defense. In the process, she became a national celebrity for her fiery denunciations of the Chicago police and political establishment. She began her speeches with the defiant and unapologetic “I am an anarchist!” The crowds who came to hear her found on the stage not a pathetic, grieving widow, but a defiant woman eager to provoke — even shock — her listeners.

AD

How did Lucy’s character and politics contrast with the popular understanding and depiction of anarchists at the time?

JJ

First, I should note that the “popular understanding and depiction of anarchists at the time” — especially after the Haymarket bombing — promoted certain stereotypes that proved enduring. Editors, reporters, clergy, politicians, social reformers, and political cartoonists all portrayed the anarchist as a bewhiskered, unkempt, wild-eyed man ready to lob a canister of dynamite into an unsuspecting crowd of innocent men, women, and children. That was one of the reasons that people were so fascinated by Lucy Parsons. Elegant and dignified in her bearing, always dressed in the latest fashion, she upended this stereotype in a dramatic way.

The late nineteenth century saw a fracturing of the anarchist persuasion. (It would be difficult to call it a movement.) Parsons and her close comrades represented what would come to be called anarcho-syndicalism. They believed that trade unions were the embryos of the good society. In contrast, some anarchists were extreme individualists who shied away from associations of all kinds, even voluntary ones. Goldman represented what we might call cultural anarchism, with its emphasis on the free expression of not only ideas but also sexual feelings and artistic impulses. Finally, the German anarchist Johann Most promoted the idea that the attentat, or “propaganda of the deed,” was the key to revolution — a brief, violent act that would galvanize the masses and serve as the catalyst for the overthrow of capitalism.

Lucy Parsons at times seemed at least rhetorically committed to the attentat, but as I argue in the book, she used provocative rhetoric primarily to frighten Chicago authorities — to convince them of the latent power of the laboring classes — and there is no indication that she ever plotted an instance of violence herself. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, when followers of the Italian immigrant and anarchist Luigi Galleani were advocating and practicing assassination and the destruction of property, Parsons was careful to distance herself from him and his support for murder and mayhem.

I’ll add that she herself was not a good example of, shall we say, an open-minded theorist, willing to change her views in response to circumstances. She ignored the growth of a consumer culture, a powerful force in the lives of many workers of both sexes and all ages and backgrounds. She remained oblivious to the importance of certain symbols and values for most native-born white workers — the American flag and the church, for example. And she did not anticipate the way that an emerging welfare state could take the edge off radical protest and make large numbers of workers even more devoted to the Democratic Party than ever before.

AD

At first glance, the title of your book, Goddess of Anarchy, might strike readers as an oxymoron (again, “no gods, no masters”), but I think it fittingly captures the contradictions of Lucy’s life. What were some of the opposing circumstances, influences, and aspirations that she had to contend with?

JJ

I should make it clear that the book’s title is a label affixed to Lucy Parsons by the Chicago Citizens’ Association, a group of businessmen who feared her and the appeal she held for the masses of white working men. I used that label for the title because it suggests her power and influence as a radical speaker, and because people at the time commented on her beauty.

When she first launched her speaking career, she devised a fictional identity for herself, claiming that she was the daughter of Mexican and Native American parents. (She was light-skinned and, according to many people, of indeterminate origins.) I think she felt this new identity would give her more credibility with her white working-class audiences. Neither she nor Albert ever evinced much sympathy for the plight of African Americans, and indeed both demonized blacks as strikebreakers and as enemies of white workers.

Lucy took care to fashion her public image in other ways. She presented herself as a prim Victorian wife and mother, when in fact she was a sexual free spirit — one of her love affairs ended in spectacular fashion, splashed across the headlines of local Chicago papers. She also claimed that the nuclear family was the foundational building block of the good society, yet, in 1899, she had her own son, Albert Jr, committed to an insane asylum because he defied her wishes and tried to join the US Army. He languished in the asylum for twenty years before he died, and there is no evidence that Parsons ever visited him in that time.

Lucy was a notoriously difficult person according to those who knew her well. She was a prolific writer and editor, an eloquent speaker, and an influential agitator. At the same time, she felt she could never be honest about her past.

Her owner had forcibly removed her, her mother, and younger brother from their home in the east during the Civil War and established a new plantation in McLennan County, Texas. After the war, violence on the countryside forced her family to flee to the small town of Waco. There she met a black man named Oliver Benton who paid her tuition at the local school for freed children. Benton later claimed that Lucy was his wife and that he was the father of the child she bore. (Apparently, the infant died when only a few months old.) When she left Waco in 1873, she left behind Benton, her mother, and her younger siblings.

I believe that her decisions to assume a new identity — as the champion of the white laboring classes — and immerse herself in the German immigrant community took an emotional toll on her. She was fiercely protective of her privacy, always dissembling, always calculating. As I note in the book, just being Lucy Parsons must have been exhausting.

AD

You mention that Lucy never “evinced much sympathy for the plight of African Americans,” but the Industrial Workers of the World, of which she was a founding member, was — at least in principle — antiracist at a time when most unions traded in racism. What were her views on race?

JJ

It is difficult to pinpoint her views on race or black folks in general because she never wrote about them. However, there might be an easy and quite reasonable answer to this question: that she denied her own background as a former slave, and distanced herself from African Americans in general, because she thought that her constituency — white men of the urban laboring classes — would not grant her the degree of respect and credibility she deserved had they known she was of African descent.

I would note here that although she attended and spoke at the founding meeting of the IWW, she did not identify strongly with that particular organization, except to the extent that it represented a robust defense of the First Amendment. (The local head of the Chicago Wobblies disparaged Parsons and her comrades as “anarchist freaks.”)

She did at one point urge Southern blacks to strike back violently against their oppressors, noting that their vulnerabilities stemmed from their legal liabilities and lack of rights, and not their “race” per se.

AD

The era during which Lucy lived was the era of yellow journalism, as well as the first Red Scare. Considering the tint of reportage and official documents of the time, how difficult was it to find reliable sources on her life?

JJ

Parsons left little in the way of personal papers — diaries, letters, and so forth — so I had to piece together her life from sources such as census reports and newspaper articles. The mainstream press covered her obsessively, and many papers all over the country recorded her speeches, described her appearance, and passed judgment on her personal life, as well as her political views. Predictably, reporters described her in sensationalistic terms as they would any object of their curiosity. They detailed the texture of her hair and the shape of her nose, as well as the shoes, jewelry, and hats she wore.

On her national tours, she delivered variations of her standard lecture, and press stenographers recorded those talks fairly accurately. I should add here that she was a prolific writer, and I was able to read many of the articles she wrote not only for her own anarchist papers — Freedom (1890–1902) and Liberator (1906) — but also for a wide variety of radical publications, from the late 1870s until her death in 1942.

She was private about her personal life. However, she famously feuded with well-known figures, such as Debs and Goldman, and the papers covered those spats as well. Details of her love life made headlines (when she spurned a lover and, in at least one case, hauled him into court), as did her decision to have her son committed.

AD

Despite the awe she inspired at times in her life, Parsons was already being forgotten before her death and remained largely so thereafter. Why was Parsons almost lost to time?

JJ

In Chicago at least, Parsons was definitely not forgotten while she was alive. She continued to speak at Haymarket commemorations, strikers’ rallies, and May Day celebrations almost up until the time of her death. She remained an icon among white workers and a newfound heroine of labor among the city’s small band of communists.

Still, in some respects, Lucy was a victim of her own success. Beginning in the early twentieth century, she became the keeper of the eternal flame of the Haymarket martyrs and devoted the rest of her life to writing and speaking about the unjust judicial system that had claimed the life of her husband and his three comrades. She thereby subsumed her own personality and politics under his memory.

AD

What lessons do Parsons’s life and her work offer to socialists today?

JJ

Like her socialist and anarchist comrades, Lucy Parsons was prescient about a whole host of issues that continue to confront us today — the growing gap between rich and poor, the mixed effects of technology in the workplace, the inability of the two major parties to address injustices and inequalities, the struggles of ordinary workers, the persistent attacks on labor unions and the idea of collective action in general, and the threat to free speech and peaceful assembly. She read widely and thought deeply about history, as well as economic and political theory. She was a courageous defender of freedom of speech.

At the same time, the Chicago anarchists engaged in a kind of anti-clerical, European-style labor organizing and agitation that was ill-suited to that city’s workforce then (and since). The anarchists denigrated the right to vote. They ridiculed the church and national institutions of all kinds, including the three branches of the US government. They considered reforming the system to be a form of complicity in it. They pushed the boundaries of the First Amendment by urging a militant kind of worker self-defense, one that veered into an advocacy of violence against businessmen and the police. They did not appreciate the ways that racial, religious, and ethnic loyalties could divide workers, nor did they anticipate the ways that consumer culture would transform class relations and all of American society.

Finally, Parsons’s own career stands as a stark reminder of, on the one hand, the unique history and struggles of workers of African descent and, on the other, the economic forces which continue to affect workers regardless of their skills or background. To paraphrase the Reverend Jesse Jackson, when the factory lights go out, all workers — regardless of skin color — look the same. Today, America’s tribalistic politics serve as a persistent, stubborn barrier to the kind of class unity needed to challenge the current racist, authoritarian regime in Washington.

Tags: jacobinLucy Parsonsnot anarchist mediacategory: Essays
Categories: News

Friendly Anarchism Episode 32: Conflict Resolution, Dance, And True Prosperity with Sophia 1.8.18

Anarchist News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 15:51

Beautiful conversation with my friend Sophia about conflict resolution, accountability, exile as social sanction, how everyone makes mistakes, talking to each other, outsourcing conflict to authority, in-person dialogues, the problems with written communications, positive conflict, call out culture & public shaming, building trust, the beauty of dance, misogyny and abuse in the dance world, western appropriation of dance, our dissociative relationship with our bodies, re-engaging with dance in classrooms and activism, true prosperity and the prosperity gospel, discomfort with faith, anti-queer nature of faith communities, queer dating and finding religion, that Jesus was rad, the individuality of the spiritual journey, leading by example, and leading with love.

Tags: friendly anarchismpodcastconflict resolutioncategory: Projects
Categories: News

TEDx Talk: ‘Democracy depends on how we archive and share data’

Global Muckracker - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 15:00

Documents and data surround our lives and are key in journalism, often forming the backbone of major journalistic investigations. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists knows this well, having published exposés based on some of the largest leaks in journalism history, the Panama and Paradise Papers, which consisted of a total of 25 million files. What happens to documents after the reporting is done is one of the keys to democracy, according to ICIJ member and former head of the ICIJ Data & Research Unit Mar Cabra.

Speaking at TEDx San Francisco last October, Cabra shared the astonishing fact that the Panama Papers data was still being used to break news stories one year and a half after the investigation was first published. During the initial investigation, ICIJ shared the files with almost 400 journalists as part of an unprecedented collaboration. Afterwards, ICIJ gave the data a second life by putting the names of people connected to offshore companies in a searchable database, which has now been used by more than 11 million people worldwide.

Watch her full talk or read the transcript below to learn why Cabra thinks that journalists need to archive documents and share them so they can connect the dots between stories and make sense of the future.

Transcript

Mar Cabra, TEDx San Francisco, October 2017

Who doesn’t have stacks of paper in their house? I do. I tell myself that I can find my way in my own mess and that if I need any of those papers, I will just go and find them. If I don’t need them, then it means they’re not important. But how do I know they aren’t important if I don’t know what’s in each of them, word by word?

I’m a journalist and as part of my job I also gather stacks of paper from public sources or from whistleblowers. My colleagues do the same. These are some of the messiest journalist desks I could find. Florida, New York, Japan. Paper is all around journalists.

Some reporters are organized though, like this colleague from Argentina. But even if he is organized, when he’s done with a story, he moves on to the next one. And then, does he recall what’s in those papers, word by word? Probably not.

Even in the digital world we live in today, where most of the documents we deal with are electronic, when we run out of storage in our computer what we normally do is we dump the documents in a backup drive… and that’s basically the digital equivalent to the stacks of paper.

To make sense of the future and connect the dots, journalists need to archive their documents and share them. And we’re not doing it.

We normally think of archives as places where we store public records and historical materials. The files are cataloged and stored in a way that makes it very easy to search them later, maybe decades later. Newspapers are normally archived. Let’s think in the same way about the documents we collect when reporting the articles that end up in those newspapers. Let’s create archives of those files, so we can retrieve the knowledge later.

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The need to do this is much greater in the Big Data era, where the number of documents and data that journalists are collecting is growing at a very fast pace.

In the famous Pentagon Papers, back in the late 60s, the whistleblower had to make photocopies of the 7,000-page report on the Vietnam war before giving it to the journalists. In the Watergate scandal, in the early 70s, the Washington Post reporters had to physically meet with Deep Throat, the source, in a parking garage to preserve his anonymity.

In the digital age, anybody can leak to a journalist from anywhere in the world without ever meeting in person. One of the first times when we realized the potential of this was in an investigation called Cablegate. It happened in 2010. It was done by Wikileaks, which partnered with several media organizations including the New York Times to investigate a document dump of documents that exposed the inner dealings of the US diplomatic service.

But the scale of things blew up last year, in the latest investigation I worked in, the Panama Papers. It was a leak of 2.6 terabytes, which amounted to 11.5 million files. At the time, it was the biggest leak in journalism history. It all started with a message from an anonymous source to my colleague Bastian Obermayer in Germany. And the message said: “Hello, interested in data?”

These big document leaks are not just affecting investigative journalism, where we have the time and the resources to slowly look into the documents. In the current political environment we’re seeing a record number of leaks and document dumps. It’s affecting our daily routines.

Add to that all the public records we collect, the public databases, freedom of information requests, social media data… What concerns me is that we haven’t yet found a way to deal with such a big and overwhelming amount of information. This is a recipe for disaster.

The good news – I have good news! – is that I think we’re in time to prevent this disaster from happening. Journalism through, doesn’t have nearly as much money as other industries, which are facing the same issues, such as big corporations, governments or criminals. So we need to think outside of the box, if we want to keep being the watchdogs of democracy.

When my colleague Bastian received the Panama Papers data, he didn’t keep it to himself, as most journalists would’ve done. He and his newspaper in Germany saw the universe of data they were dealing with was too big and complex for them to handle, so they decided to share it with the nonprofit organization I worked with at the time, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

We saw connections in this data to more than 200 countries. So – in a radical move – we shared all the files with almost 400 journalists in about 80 countries. My team of engineers made all these files searchable in a secure website that could be accessed from anywhere in the world at any point in time. The files exposed the offshore system like never before. They revealed a parallel economy that is being used by the rich and powerful for purposes like evading taxes. There were celebrities, billionaires, politicians and of course, criminals in the leak. They were all using the same law firm with headquarters in Panama.

Sharing is not the natural step for a journalist. When we collect documents or get leaks, these allow us to have scoops in our newspapers and have exclusive stories in the front page. So it gives us an added value inside our organizations, added value as a journalist… it’s our intellectual property, exactly what you don’t want to share with your competitors.

But sharing was the only way for us to deal with such a big amount of information. Of course, when you share with so many people, there is one risk: that somebody reveals the secret ahead of time. We used technology to keep us in touch regularly and we had our own social networking platform. So technology helped, but in the end, it was all about human trust and we had to take a leap of faith. And you know what? It worked and we kept the secret for a year. The impact was unprecedented.

The reporters behind the Panama Papers published more than 4,700 stories. The prime minister of Iceland resigned and the prime minister of Pakistan was ousted from office. There were police raids and arrests around the world. Less than a year after the publication of the Panama Papers, we accounted for at least 150 investigations in 79 countries. We got the Pulitzer prize, the highest recognition in journalism. And sharing made all this possible. One journalist could not have achieved all this alone. Maybe it’s time we reframe how we look at sharing.

We didn’t just want to share with journalists. We wanted to give the investigative power to the people. But for source protection and privacy issues, we couldn’t just dump all the documents in the internet, so we created a searchable database with the hundreds of thousands of the names of companies in tax havens and the people behind them. This database has been used by millions of people and is regularly being visited by academics, NGOs and tax agencies. By connecting their data to ours, they’re finding new leads to start new investigations.

For example, Europol, which is Europe’s law enforcement agency, found more than 3,000 probable matches to organized crime and tax fraud. Out of those, 116 were connected to their program on Islamic terrorism.

Traditionally in journalism, stories finish the day you publish them, maybe a few days or weeks later. Corruption never stops but sometimes our reporting does. It’s been one year and a half since we started publishing the Panama Papers and we’re still not done with the investigation. At this point, I don’t know if we’ll ever be. People keep finding new leads in the data, because by sharing the files with the journalists and the world, we gave a second life to these documents.

As I see all these new stories unfold, I just can’t stop thinking about all the other leaks that we have had access to in journalism. I’m sure we’ve missed many connections to other stories and to corruption cases because these files were not archived and shared. We didn’t exploit the real value of these documents, so we didn’t get our true return on investment.

There was one question that kept popping in my head over and over when I was the head of data & technology at the ICIJ and it still haunts me now that I’m a consultant: how can we ensure the documents of our investigations live forever, so they can be used to expose corruption for decades?

I think this is one of the major issues that journalism should be dealing with right now. We should be thinking long and hard about how we archive what we have, what we share and with whom. And we should do it in a regular basis, as part of our daily routines, not just in unique investigations like the Panama Papers. This is very important for us not to miss any stories in the future. Our democracy depends on this.

This post was co-published with Source

The post TEDx Talk: ‘Democracy depends on how we archive and share data’ appeared first on ICIJ.

Categories: News

Facebook's Algorithm Change: Maintaining the Flow of Information in Dangerous Times

Truth Out - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 05:00

 Bill Hinton /  Getty Images)(Image: Bill Hinton / Getty Images)

If you use Facebook regularly, you've probably realized that the items on your newsfeed don't appear at random or in chronological order. Facebook uses an ever-changing algorithm -- a mechanism that decides what content will appear for each person, and in what way it will be prioritized -- to determine what shows up in your feed. Recently, Facebook has made a significant change to its algorithm. Under this new iteration, users will encounter far less news from publishers in their everyday use of Facebook. Since most of us get at least some of our news from social media, this change will undoubtedly lead to a disruption in the flow of information. In the dangerous times we live in, we believe the flow of information has never been more crucial, but when corporations control over 90 percent of the media, and a corporate algorithm governs the distribution of news and analysis, events like this are bound to unfold. The relationship between journalism and social media has been a troubled one for some time, and instead of fostering a dynamic of direct connection, many media outlets have been cajoled into trusting an algorithm with the management of the truth itself.

The only way forward, given the extremity of this corrosion, is to be intentional about recreating connections between ourselves as publications, writers and readers -- and the need to build these connections has never been more urgent. Social platforms will continue to share posts from readers that spark dialogue. That means sharing and sparking discussion about the issues we care about most will be more crucial than ever to the flow of honest information. The corporate filter must be replaced with curation of a publication readership. The flow of information will depend on the desire of readers to not simply be informed, but create dialogues around the information they receive.

Ensuring that stories about what harms disenfranchised communities, and what forces are, indeed, killing the Earth itself, are delivered to the public will now, more than ever, be a collective effort. We are ready to rise to that challenge, and embrace that change, because we believe that relationships, rather than mere facts and analysis, are the root of social transformation. At Truthout, we are asking our readers to join us in this culture-building shift, which we hope will take hold throughout the digital news sphere. If you believe in the necessity of independent journalism, we want to deliver the news to your doorstep. Truthout is committed to the free flow of information, and to keeping information free. We will create no paywalls. We will feature no ads. We will not be influenced by corporate sponsors. And in partnership with our readers, we will cut out the corporate middlemen and spread the truth from person to person, and inbox to inbox.

We are currently developing new ways to work in partnership with our readers to tell stories that fuel movements, and that will better enable our readers to connect with the struggles they care about. While the internet has added some sharp edges to the exchange of information, we must not sacrifice the truth. This is the work of change. This is part of the fight. And de-consolidating knowledge will help set us free.

If you want to receive our daily edition, and help spreads news that can promote change, sign up here.

Categories: News

Focusing on Trump's Mental Health Deflects Attention From His Politics

Truth Out - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 05:00

Ever since Donald Trump hit the presidential campaign trail more than two years ago, there has been a drumbeat about whether he is mentally unstable -- from mainstream news sources (the Washington Post: "Is Trump mentally ill? Or is America? Psychiatrists weigh in") to the left media (Democracy Now!: "Psychiatrists 'deeply concerned' by Trump's instability call for urgent mental health evaluation").

But it is wrong to put all this focus on Trump's mental health because it deflects attention from his reactionary politics. As David Perry wrote at Pacific Standard magazine in an article titled "Stop speculating about Trump's mental health":

I don't believe Trump's mental condition is all that relevant to his miserable performance as president. I believe he's always been a liar, a merchant of racism and sexism, and a person willing to exploit any perceived weakness for the sake of personal gain. The urge to pathologize his conduct says much more about the ableist biases of American society than whatever is going on in the president's brain. What's more, Trump's enablers will resist any such reporting.

To be blunt, the label of "crazy" is both too gentle for the monster who sits in the White House and also insulting to millions of people who suffer from mental illness. As Perry writes:

He lies, boasts, exaggerates, grifts, swaggers, spreads hate and division, and does whatever he can to improve his own fortunes while concealing his vast incompetencies and bottomless ignorance. None of these characteristics requires a pathology to explain. Trump's complete lack of fitness as president has nothing to do with whether he has any diagnosable conditions.

***

It turns out that there are accepted guidelines for how psychiatrists and psychologists should treat speculation of the mental health of elected officials when they take place in the media. They are known as the Goldwater Rule, as Christie Aschwanden explained at FiveThirtyEight:

The rule arose from a 1964 cover story in Fact magazine that had the headline, "FACT: 1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater is Psychologically Unfit to Be President!" which led Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater to sue for libel -- and win.

The American Psychiatric Association's Goldwater Rule explicitly states: "[I]t is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement."

Ashwanden quotes Allen Frances, a co-author of the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and a defender of the Goldwater Rule.

"Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely," Frances wrote in a New York Times op-ed article. "Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump's attack on democracy."'

Ashwaden wraps up the article with a point that liberal commentators might do well to think about: "People accusing Trump of insanity might well feel different about the practice if it was turned on one of their favored candidates."

The answer to this part of the "crazy" label is simple: Trump -- like any other serial abuser, for that matter -- is responsible for his actions and must be held responsible, or he will be unaccountable.

***

Stigma against mental illness is serious problem in this culture. Our society has made important improvements from the draconian days of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but that stigma persists -- and both Republicans and Democrats help perpetuate it, while cutting desperately needed resources.

Access to mental health care is worse than other types of medical services -- in a country that already has horrifically bad health care when compared to other developed countries.

The impact on people who suffer real mental health problems -- which are often rooted in the oppressive and alienating world around us -- is drastic. Many end up in prison, houseless, or dependent on partners or family to make up for their inability to function in a way that serves capitalism's needs.

This gives a very different picture of mental illness and its consequences from the media stereotypes. All too often, for example, the media tend to blame mass shootings on "mental illness," when mentally ill people are more likely to be the victims of violence rather than commit it.

Rev. William J. Barber, the architect of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina who is now launching a new Poor People's Campaign, made an important point on Democracy Now!: "I've been looking at how people are focusing now on Trump's "mental status." I think that's the wrong thing...Dr. King talked about America being sick."

In fact, Donald Trump is the human embodiment of this sickness, having been born into wealth and grown into a spoiled, racist, serial rapist who was then accidentally elected president of the richest and most militarily advanced country in the world.

Trump is erratic and extreme in his self-aggrandizement, and those traits no doubt shape his behavior. But to use mental illness as an explanation is to ignore how the rulers of the capitalist system collectively use sexism, racism, transphobia, Islamaphobia and so on to keep their profit system functioning.

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Categories: News

New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams: Civil Disobedience Is Needed to Protect Immigrants

Truth Out - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 05:00

New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams was arrested last Thursday along with fellow City Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez and 16 others as they and others attempted to block an ambulance being used to transport Ravi Ragbir to detention last week. Speaking at Judson Memorial Church, Williams talked about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's inspiration and the need for civil disobedience.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Is ICE Targeting Immigration Activists? Family Members of Detained and Deported Leaders Speak Out

Truth Out - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 05:00

Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, was detained on Thursday when he went to his check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Ravi’s detention sparked a peaceful protest that was met with police violence. Police arrested 18 people, including members of the New York City Council. He is now being held in Florida and faces deportation. We speak with his wife Amy Gottlieb, a longtime immigrant rights advocate with the American Friends Service Committee.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

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