News

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, who oversaw U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, is found dead in apparent suicide

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 03:28

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, who oversaw U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, is found dead in apparent suicide | 01 Dec 2018 | Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, who oversaw U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, was found dead Saturday in his residence in Bahrain, officials said. Defense officials told CBS News they are calling it an "apparent suicide." Stearney was the commander of the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, the deputy commander of the 5th Fleet, has assumed command, the Navy said in a statement. "This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at 5th Fleet, and for the entire U.S. Navy," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said.

Categories: News

Chain Migration: 60 Percent of 'Retired' Migrants in Italy Have Never Worked

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 02:49

Chain Migration: 60 Percent of 'Retired' Migrants in Italy Have Never Worked | 01 Dec 2018 | According to figures on non-EU citizens in Italy, around 60 percent of "retired" migrants have never worked. Approximately 96,000 non-EU migrants currently receive a pension from the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (INPS), Italy's social security agency. Of those, an estimated 60,000 do not have their pensions covered by prior contributions because they had not worked and paid taxes, Il Giornale reports. Around two million foreigners are enrolled in the INPS system in total, with 1,700,000 of those being employed and making contributions to their retirement.

Categories: News

Anews Podcast #92, 11.30.2018

Anarchist News - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 23:26

https://podcast.anarchistnews.org/index.php/2018/12/02/anews-podcast-92-...

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 92. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week on anarchistnews.org.

Editorial: Slab City, anarchy, and the future of scarcity by Chisel
TOTW: Voting with our Dollars with Aragorn! and Ariel

This podcast is the effort of many people. This episode was

sound edited by Linn O’Mable
what’s new was written by Jackie and narrated by Chisel and Dim
Thanks to Aragorn and Ariel for the topic of the week conversation
Music!
1) fluence – hidden
2) Kamaal Williams – High Roller
3) Gnaw Their Tongues – The Speared Promises

Contact us at podcast@anarchistnews.org

Tags: projectconsumerismslab cityscarcitycategory: Projects
Categories: News

The Final Straw: Rural Organizing In Appalachia

Anarchist News - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 22:05

The Final Straw Radio

Rural Organizing And Resilience (ROAR)

Download This Episode

This week on The Final Straw Radio, we’re sharing an interview with two members of Rural Organizing And Resilience, or ROAR, an anti-racist and mutual aid organization that’s based in Madison County, North Carolina. Madison County is just north of Asheville and VERY Appalachian, with a small population that’s sparsely populated in remote hollers and small towns. For the hour, Matt & Janet talk about anti-racist organizing, community efforts, misconceptions about rural people and Appalachians in particular, radical history, harm reduction and material outreach efforts ongoing in Western North Carolina. You can find out more about their project and contact them via their website, https://ruralorganizing.wordpress.com

Announcements Blue Ridge ABC

BRABC will have it’s monthly prisoner letter writing tonight, Sunday 12/2, at 5pm after the show. Come down to Firestorm to join in, materials and addresses provided.

Also, BRABC’s monthly showing of the Trouble mini-doc continues this Friday 12/7 with an episode on radical approaches to mental wellness. This’ll also happen at Firestorm books and Coffee, 610 Haywood Rd. You can check out all of the Troubles up at https://sub.media. This is the last episode of the season and they put out a special request for support, so check out the other stuff on their site while you’re there.

Asheville Service Workers Assembly Night Out

9pm, Monday, December 17 at the Crow and Quill bar, the Asheville Service Workers Assembly will host a Service Worker’s Night w/ The Carolina Catskins!
Come on out and meet your fellow service workers!

They’re hoping to create a space where folks can hangout and discuss shared struggle in a service work dependent economy, in a town that exploits us.

Charlottesville, VA: The Trial of James Alex Fields

James Alex Fields, the neo-nazi who drove into a crowd, injuring many and killing Heather Heyer on August 12th, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA, is currently facing trial. If you’re in the area, show up and offer support to the survivors of his attack. Also, you can keep up on the trial by following @socialistdogmom on twitter or listen to their very compact podcast on the subject.

Jeremy Hammond Needs Support

Jeremy Hammond, anarchist hacker behind bars for the Stratfor Hack has been placed in solitary confinement and is facing transfer for a supposed altercation with a guard. Now he’s missing his college classes inside, classes that would allow him to be housed at a lower security level an, and is facing a possible punitive transfer which would further disconnect him from that college degree he’s working towards. His supporters are asking folks to write him letters and cards to check in with him, not to send in magazines or books and not to write to the Warden.

You can write Jeremy at

Jeremy Hammond, #18729-424
FCI Milan
P.O. Box 1000
Milan, MI 48160

Jason Renard Walker Beaten For His Writing

Jason Renard Walker, has continued to face harassment by prison guards at the Ellis Unit in response to an article he penned about harassment he was facing from guards at the Ellis Unit for the November issue of the SF Bay View Newspaper. He was beaten by one guard as others stood by and watched. He’s been facing repression since at least 2016 when he voiced support for the Nationwide Prison Strike and has vocally resisted repressive measures by his captors in Texas. He’s seeking attention and legal support from the outside. We’re linking to his writeup of his experience published on the SF Bay View website.

Direct attention to authorities at Ellis Unit:

Ellis Unit warden Kelly Strong: 936-295-5756 (**010) or kelly.strong@tdcj.texas.gov Regional Director Wayne Brewer: Wayne.Brewer@tdcj.texas.gov or 936-437-1770 Ombudsman:

ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov and 936-437-4927

A suggested script is posted in our notes:

“Hello, I am contacting you as I have seen reports that inmate Jason Renard Walker, #1532092, has been attacked by staff at the Ellis Unit, and that he is now being threatened with a false disciplinary charge to try and distort the facts of the issue. I demand that there is a full independent review of all relevant surveillance footage, including any CCTV recordings from the cafeteria on the morning of November 23rd 2018 and the portable camera that was used to record Mr. Walker being escorted to his cell following the incident. Mr. Walker and all the members of staff involved, especially officers Pollock and Williford, should be given polygraph tests to determine whose version of events is more truthful, and all relevant witnesses should be interviewed. Mr. Walker reports that an inmate known as Fishtrap, along with another inmate who lives in B4, witnessed the entire scene. Please be aware that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice may be held legally responsible for any harm that comes to Mr. Walker while he is in TDCJ’s custody. Yours,”

 

Write to Jason at:

Jason Renard Walker
#1532092
Ellis Unit
1697 FM 980
Huntsville, TX, 77343

TFSR Webstore Open

Finally, we just wanted to mention that The Final Straw has opened a webstore for our merch. So, if you don’t feel like sustaining us on a regular via our patreon but want to grab up some of our stickers, buttons, tshirts and more from us, check out https://thefinalstrawradio.bigcartel.com

We are also in the midst of an effort to pick up more radio stations that’ll air us, slogging through contacts state by state and reaching out to as many community radios as we can to offer our show for free and reach more remote areas with the voices we share on these broadcasts. If you have a suggestion, reach out to us via social media or find our contact at our website. The best method is for community radio stations to hear from a community member that we are wanted on their airwaves, so consider reaching out to your local station and passing on our broadcasting link, with all of the pertinent information for how to get ahold of our weekly, anarchist radio show!

Actually Finally Finally

We’d like to point listeners to an awesome piece of swag. With all of this craze around a certain NHL mascot and all of the deep critiques swirling upon their meaning and who owns them, some friends have designed a pretty sweet Gritty antifascist shirt. We usually wouldn’t shill anarcho-consumerism so hard, but it really is the season, no?

. … . ..

Playlist

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Tags: The Final Strawpodcastruralorganizingcategory: Projects
Categories: News

FRR Books Podcast: The Unique and Its Property by Max Stirner, a Close Reading Part 4

Anarchist News - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 18:56

Listen here: http://freeradicalradio.net/frr-books-podcast-the-unique-and-its-propert...
Listen here: https://archive.org/details/FRRBstirner4

Welcome to episode 4 of the FRR Books Podcast series on Max Stirner’s The Unique and its Property translated by Wolif Landstreicher. In this podcast we cover section 2.1 and stop at section 2.2.1 My Power

This episode is hosted by Kahar, John, and rydra wrong. This is our first go recording podcasts at sea! We are floating on water as we speak!

Discussed in this episode:

– Criticism as thought, the downside of criticism

– The 3 types of liberalism

– Human rights!

– rydra hates phenomenology and wants to fight about it!

– morality and stirner

– what is religion?

– Conflict avoidance and how to avoid it!

– Cult of celebrity and “Absolute Monarchy”

– Stirner crushes Social Justice

– Is Stirner related to Nietzsche?

This podcast was produced by rydra wrong

This podcast was edited for sound and quality by Big Cat

Tags: egoismnihilismstirnerwolfianarchy?!free radical radiocategory: Projects
Categories: News

Is the US “Flirting With Fascism”?

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 18:41

The United States is moving closer to fascism, says Henry A. Giroux, author of American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism.

“We’re not talking about whether fascism can only be defined in terms of whether it mimics precisely the elements of fascism we saw in the past,” Giroux told Mary O’Connell during an interview on CBC’s “Ideas” radio program. “I think that America is at war with itself and I think that the elections proved that.”

Giroux also described how the US is changing “from a culture of shared responsibilities and shared values” to one dominated by “fear and bigotry.”

“We don’t talk about democracy anymore in the United States,” said Giroux.

Listen to the full interview with Henry A. Giroux on CBC Radio.

The post Is the US “Flirting With Fascism”? appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

The Fracking Industry Encroaches on Southwest Texas

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 18:07

Sue and James Franklin run a rock and mineral shop in Balmorhea, Texas, a small picturesque town known for hosting the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. Their shop is about 15 miles from their home in Verhalen, a place they describe as too tiny to be called a town — only about 10 people live there. The couple never imagined the area, on the southwest edge of the Permian Basin, would become an industrial wasteland, but they say that transformation has begun the last two years.

Texas’ latest oil boom, driven by the fracking industry and crude oil exports, has brought skyrocketing air, noise, and light pollution to small southwest Texas towns and the surrounding lands which are known for majestic mountain views and brilliant starry night skies. With the oil industry come bright lights illuminating an otherwise almost perfectly dark sky. The Franklins’ home on a narrow rural road is now surrounded by fracking sites. On a clear day they can see 20 of these sites from their 10-acre plot of land.

The Franklins in front of their home in Verhalen, with a fracking industry site directly across the road from them.The Franklins in front of their home in Verhalen, with a fracking industry site directly across the road from them.Julie Dermansky for DeSmogThe Franklins’ home with a drilling rig at a frack site behind it.The Franklins’ home with a drilling rig at a frack site behind it.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

The roads in the area used to be empty, but that’s no longer the case. Today, increased traffic — mostly trucks serving the oil and gas industry — makes even pulling out of the Franklins’ driveway dangerous. James, a Vietnam veteran and retired pilot, has been in a couple accidents caused by truck drivers that “don’t give a shit.”

Meanwhile, the famous pool located in Balmorhea State Park — known as “the oasis of West Texas — has been shut down for about a year due to cracks in its structure, which some locals blame on vibrations from drilling operations nearby. The parks department, however, blamed erosion.

The changes make Sue Franklin sad. “What we are doing to Mother Earth is going to catch up with us,” she told me when I visited in early November. “She is going to wipe the planet clean and start over without us at this rate.”

Earthworks Texas Organizer Sharon Wilson checking for pollution emissions at a fracking industry site a few hundred feet from the Franklins’ home.Earthworks Texas Organizer Sharon Wilson checking for pollution emissions at a fracking industry site a few hundred feet from the Franklins’ home.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog The Permian Fracking Expansion

The Permian, one of the most prolific oil and natural gas basins in the US, spans approximately 86,000 square miles in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

Until recently, there had been little development in the furthest southwestern portions of the Permian’s Delaware Basin. But that changed in mid 2016 after the Apache Corporation announced its discovery of an oil field there called Alpine High. Apache estimated that the oil field contains 75 trillion cubic feet of gas and three billion barrels of oil.

Shortly after Apache’s discovery, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced finding another 20 billion barrels of oil in the Wolfcamp shale, located in the northeast reaches of the Permian Basin, near Big Spring, Texas. The agency called the deposit “the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation … assessed in the United States to date.”

Despite scientists’ warnings that catastrophic climate change could be unstoppable if greenhouse gas emissions are not greatly reduced — including a dire federal climate report released today — numerous companies, such as ExxonMobil and Chevron, are producing record amounts of oil and gas in the Permian Basin. The EIA predicts that the Permian region will drive US crude oil production growth through 2019.

Apache and other oil and gas companies drilling in the Permian Basin use hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a process that injects a highly pressurized mix of chemicals, water, and sand to release oil and natural gas trapped in shale rock deep underground. In the basin fracking is done primarily for oil, but up with the oil comes methane, the main component in natural gas, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including the carcinogens benzene and toluene.

When Fracking Comes to the Neighborhood

I met with the Franklins on November 1, and standing in their yard, I saw some kind of fracking industry site in every direction I looked.

Fracking industry truck in Texas’ Permian Basin with warning signs for other vehicles.Fracking industry truck in Texas’ Permian Basin with warning signs for other vehicles.Julie Dermansky for DeSmogWarning signs on a fracking industry site’s fence in the Permian Basin.Warning signs on a fracking industry site’s fence in the Permian Basin.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

Though most people in the area welcome the money the fracking boom can bring, the Franklins have only seen unwelcome alterations to the once starkly beautiful landscape that first attracted them to Verhalen. These days truck traffic constantly passes their home and a persistent haze blurs their view of the Davis Mountains, which is also obscured by giant tanks on the frack sites around them.

The couple now also worries about the potential health impacts of the pollution from the frack sites on both them and their animals, which include a cat, horse, and donkey.

Though the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences states there is little data conclusively showing how the fracking industry affects nearby communities, a report published by the nonprofits Partnership for Policy Integrity and Earthworks shows that the Environmental Protection Agency has identified health hazards for dozens of chemicals used in fracking.

According to Environmental Working Group scientist Tasha Stoiber, “hazards from the chemicals used included irritation to eyes and skin; harm to the liver, kidney and nervous system; and damage to the developing fetus.”

In addition, the Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group involved in a Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, released their latest in a series of reports examining evidence of the public health and safety risks of the fracking industry at large. Their findings show the Franklins’ worries are not unfounded.

This report, released in March 2018, states that: “Our examination … uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health.”

During a recent call, Sue told me she found two dead hawks that “seem to have just fallen out of the sky.” She can’t prove pollution from the fracking industry killed the birds, but she doesn’t think the connection requires much of a stretch. A nature lover and eight-year-resident of West Texas, she worries about all the creatures she shares the desert with, including the Texas horned lizard (also known as horny toads) and roadrunners, species she is seeing much less frequently.

Primexx, the operator fracking multiple sites nearest the Franklins’ property, is choosing to drill directly across the road from their home. James said putting their rigs there is a clear indication the company cares only for its own profits.

“There is no reason that the frack pad sites weren’t set up at least a few feet away, instead of directly across from the homes along this road,” he said.

View of the Davis Mountains in Alpine, Texas, along the road leading to the McDowell Observatory.View of the Davis Mountains in Alpine, Texas, along the road leading to the McDowell Observatory.Julie Dermansky for DeSmogCemetery in Fort Davis,* Texas.Cemetery in Fort Davis,* Texas.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

Dark Skies, Wilderness, and an Encroaching Oil Industry

Fracking industry sprawl has encroached on other small towns popular with tourists in the southwest Permian Basin, an area known for rugged natural landscapes and big dark skies. Fort Davis, where stargazers flock to the McDonald Observatory, is reputed as having the best view of the Milky Way in the US, and Alpine, Texas, is considered the gateway to Big Bend National Park, where dramatic limestone cliffs, diverse desert wildlife, and ancient pictographs draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

Downtown Alpine, Texas, a town known as the gateway to Big Bend National Park.Downtown Alpine, Texas, a town known as the gateway to Big Bend National Park.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

Alpine resident Lori Glover, who works part time for Earthworks, an environmental advocacy group, has been monitoring fracking industry sites in the region and helping residents like the Franklins file environmental complaints with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Mountains line Texas Route 118 connecting Alpine to Fort Davis.Mountains line Texas Route 118 connecting Alpine to Fort Davis.Julie Dermansky for DeSmogDeer on the side of the main road leading into Alpine, Texas.Deer on the side of the main road leading into Alpine, Texas.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

Lori and her husband Mark are both environmental activists who helped lead the fight against Energy Transfer Partners’ (now Energy Transfer’s) Trans-Pecos pipeline, which was built to transport fracked gas from West Texas to Mexico. Though their efforts weren’t successful in preventing the pipeline’s construction, they believe the resistance against the pipeline helped raise awareness of the fossil fuel industry’s impacts on the region.

They ran a protest camp on land they own, and both were arrested while trying to stop construction of the pipeline.

“We risked everything — home, income, friends, marriage — to fight off the oil and gas industry and preserve the sanctity of the Big Bend,” Lori said. Big Bend National Park is about 80 miles south of Alpine and is a place Mark describes as the last pristine frontier in Texas.

An anti-pipeline sign near the Glovers’ residence in Alpine, Texas.An anti-pipeline sign near the Glovers’ residence in Alpine, Texas.Julie Dermansky for DeSmogLori Glover with a handout she made to instruct people on filing a complaint with the TCEQ.Lori Glover with a handout she made to instruct people on filing a complaint with the TCEQ.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

The Glovers, like the Franklins, didn’t think Alpine, about 60 miles southeast of Balmorhea, would be affected by the oil and gas industry when the couple put down roots there together about 13 years ago. But they told me the air quality today is noticeably different. Smog now interferes with their view of the surrounding mountain range and has taken a toll on the family’s health. They say at least one of them has a cough at any given time.

I told the Glovers I smelled gas when I stopped to photograph an anti-Trans-Pecos pipeline sign about a quarter mile from their house. That didn’t surprise them. Mark had already called in a complaint for what he figures is a natural gas leak from a nearby transmission pipeline. He said he would call it in again but doubted it would make a difference.

As for regulators, the “TCEQ is AWOL in the Permian,” Mark said during a chat at the Glovers’ house, which sits at the base of the Sunny Glen Mountains.

Mark Glover at the entrance to a Trans-Pecos pipeline transfer station a quarter mile from their home.Mark Glover at the entrance to a Trans-Pecos pipeline transfer station a quarter mile from their home.Julie Dermansky for DeSmogThe Glovers at a Primexx fracking site near the Franklins’ house. Lori and the Franklins have filed environmental complaints against this site.The Glovers at a Primexx fracking site near the Franklins’ house. Lori and the Franklins have filed environmental complaints against this site.Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

Not once since Lori started monitoring air pollution in the Permian Basin for Earthworks just under a year ago has she not found something out of kilter, from methane flares burning black smoke to the sickening and dangerous smell of hydrogen sulfide.

Whenever possible she files a pollution complaint but often she can’t specify the exact location of potential violations because they often are not accessible from a public road. This makes it impossible to identify the site operator, making it impossible to file a complaint.

The Glovers have considered moving away but think it is important to challenge the oil and gas industry: If not them, then who?

The Franklins have considered moving too. James told me he’d be willing to clear out if he can manage to sell his house for what he feels it is worth, but Sue wonders what good moving will do.

“Where can you go where humans aren’t in the process of destroying the planet?” she mused.

The post The Fracking Industry Encroaches on Southwest Texas appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Wisconsin GOP Plot to Rig Key Supreme Court Election in Lame Duck Session

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 16:44

If you pick up an election administration manual anywhere in America, what you won’t find are instructions on how to minimize voter turnout.

But that is what is what the Wisconsin GOP is contemplating as they struggle to maintain their grip on the legislative agenda and the state Supreme Court in the face of a “blue wave” that shows no signs of receding.

Scott Walker was swept out of office by an historic turnout November 6th, bested by State Superintendent Tony Evers, but the iron-clad gerrymander of the State Assembly meant that Democrats picked up only one seat. Now Walker and his cronies are publicly mulling a “lame duck” session to weaken Evers’ powers and move the date of a key election to make sure that their favored Supreme Court candidate, Justice Daniel Kelly, is not swept out of office in another blue wave.

The 2020 Supreme Court election will be a pivotal one. At stake is not only the makeup of the state’s highest court, but the agenda of the newly elected Democratic governor.

The brazen manipulation of nonpartisan election administration and of the state’s highest court has election officials, editorial boards and legal scholars up in arms.

“Our objective–as Americans–should be to have large turnouts for our elections. I understand why Justice Kelly would appreciate this change, but I do not understand how some legislators and the governor are contemplating a change so to have less people involved in electing a Supreme Court candidate for the next 10 years. We need more civic involvement not less,” former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske told the Center for Media and Democracy.

Manipulating Election Dates to Ensure Lower Voter Turnout

Legislators were initially talking about having a lame duck session to pass a subsidy package to stop the Kimberly-Clark Corp. plant in the Fox Valley from closing. But since the Evers victory, a raft of ideas to undercut Evers’ powers and that of the newly elected state Attorney General have been floated.

Currently, two elections are planned for the spring of 2020; the primary for state Supreme Court and local offices in February and the general election for those offices plus the presidential primary in April. The Walker plan would move the high-turnout presidential primary to March and create a third statewide election in hopes that lower voter turnout in April would help his pick for the Supreme Court. Justice Kelly has never run for statewide office and was appointed to the post by Walker a few years ago when Justice Prosser quit the court.

It is almost as if Walker is channelling right-wing political strategist and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) founder Paul Weyrich who famously observed “I don’t want everybody to vote. … in fact, our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Using the state’s highest court for partisan gamesmanship is likely to be wildly unpopular in a state where fair play is treasured.

“When Republicans can’t win fair and square playing by the rules, their answer is to change the rules of the game,” said State Representative Lisa Subeck. “Proposing to move the Supreme Court election is just the latest in a long string of Republican attempts–including limits on early voting, stringent Voter ID requirements, and the most gerrymandered legislative districts in the country–to game the system in their own favor.”

It is not just the Evers agenda at stake, it is possible that the 2021 battle over redistricting could end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, even though most gerrymandering issues are usually heard in federal court.

“I am consistently shocked when I see the governor and/or the legislature wanting to change a law (and worse yet the Constitution), because of a desire to target one person (either favorably or unfavorably),” said Justice Geske referring to the GOP’s 2015 effort to change the Constitution specifically to strip the respected Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of her leadership role. “There is no reason to have our taxpayers incur the millions of dollars in additional expense associated with a separate election.”

Election Officials United in Opposition to Electoral Manipulation

Election professionals from all over the state pushed back on the lame duck plan, detailing the logistical nightmares and expense of running three statewide elections in close proximity.

Adding a third election to the spring calendar would cost an additional $7 million or more, municipal clerks estimate. Ironically, Walker justified his reluctance to schedule two, much smaller, special elections earlier this year by suggesting they were too costly and too much of a bother. The reality was that Walker didn’t want to schedule the elections because he feared the Trump backlash that was already apparent in special elections nationwide. After a public outcry and three separate court rulings, Walker was forced to schedule the elections and the Republicans lost an important State Senate race.

Overlapping absentee ballots and military ballots are a special concern of election officials along with the challenges posed to early voting and the difficulty of recruiting additional poll workers.

“Our systems are mainly set up to handle one election at a time,” said Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson told Wisconsin Public Radio. “When they’re overlapping that’s when you’re going to have issues. Voters could get a separate ballot for each, thinking they’ve already voted, and not send the other ballot in. There’s a possibility they could put both ballots in the same envelope, and get counted at the wrong election.”

“As an administrator of the elections, I cannot begin to tell you the numerous ways that this is going to cause so much confusion, logistical nightmare with the voters and I can’t help but think that that’s going to start to question the integrity of the elections here in Wisconsin,” said La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Associated Press that concerns from the county clerks had raised alarms, but nothing has been ruled out.

Lame Duck Proposals Likely to Move Fast With Little Opportunity for Public Input

Wisconsin voters hate sore losers and are outraged by politicians trying to game the system, but special sessions of the legislature often happen fast, normal rules for public notice and participation are suspended, and there is little public scrutiny of the items being considered.

That is why Common Cause Wisconsin is telling its members to call legislative leaders now. The good government group warns that a package of measures “will be shielded from the public and media as long as possible and then unleashed and rammed through the legislature quickly.”

“Unlikely to be part of the session is the reason lawmakers claim to be calling it in the first place,” writes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel referring to the a long-stalled subsidy package to save the closing Kimberly-Clark plant.

The post Wisconsin GOP Plot to Rig Key Supreme Court Election in Lame Duck Session appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

The First-Ever National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Is a Game Changer

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 16:36

When Rosa Sanluis arrived in the United States, she earned $60 per week for a seemingly endless set of household tasks, working for a family in Texas. She worked from 5 a.m. until late at night, sometimes 3 a.m. on weekends, when her employers would go out and leave her to babysit. Like most domestic workers, Sanluis didn’t receive a written contract, uninterrupted breaks, sick leave, or overtime pay—because she wasn’t entitled to them under law.

On Thursday, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) announced a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to raise wages and labor conditions for workers like Sanluis. The legislation is expected to be introduced when the new Congress convenes next year.

“It is time—and past time—to fully correct the historical injustice that left a workforce largely made up of women of color shut out of the protections of core labor standards,” Rebecca Smith, Work Structures Director of the National Employment Law Project, tells In These Times.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the legislation draws on the recommendations of domestic worker leaders as well as similar bills of rights for domestic workers that have been passed in eight states and in Seattle. “Domestic workers are shaping the future of our economy,” Jayapal tells In These Times in a statement. “Their strength, courage and power inspires us all as we fight together for workplace democracy.”

The legislation would include domestic workers in Civil Rights and Occupational Health and Safety Act protections, and require fair scheduling, meal and rest breaks, written contracts and protection from retaliation. It would also increase access to retirement benefits, paid sick leave, healthcare and training programs. Additionally, the bill seeks to facilitate collective bargaining by domestic workers and would establish a federal task force on domestic workers’ rights.

The bill offers special protections to live-in domestic workers, who were previously ineligible for overtime pay. These workers are especially likely to work long hours without breaks, and to report that their employers expect them to be constantly on call, even during scheduled time off.

“Absolutely [overtime pay] would have changed my life,” Sanluis says through an interpreter. “When you’re earning so little, your access to things is completely limited.” The bill would also guarantee live-in workers’ right to privacy and adequate notice in case of termination–a protection that’s especially important when losing a workplace also means losing a home.

Working in private homes, and largely excluded from Civil Rights Act sexual harassment protections, domestic workers are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, these workers are demanding substantive workplace protections in the form of access to “panic buttons”—devices required by law in some cities that can be activated in case of sexual harassment or threats—along with research into federal policies to support domestic worker survivors.

Silvia Reyes, a nanny in New York who described being sexually harassed by her former employer, says, “It’s not fair to feel insecure in your work, and to feel scared and feel alert all the time. It’s a horrible thing to have happen to you every single day, the whole day.”

The bill comes at a pivotal time for domestic workers and those who rely upon them. Women, traditionally the caretakers of children and the elderly, have entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers. And the American population is aging rapidly: Every eight seconds, a baby boomer turns 65. Women, including women with children, have entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers. “As people live longer, we have the opportunity to embrace an intergenerational future in America, where all of us are cared for at each stage of our lives,” says NDWA Executive Director Ai-jen Poo in an emailed statement.

“Quality care and workers’ rights are inextricably linked,” says Nik Theodore, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor of urban planning and policy. When workers have economic security, he explains, they’re able to provide higher-quality care.

In response to the demand for their services, the number of domestic workers is growing. By 2030, caregiving is predicted to represent the largest segment of America’s workforce. And domestic workers are “some of the most vulnerable workers,” says Barnard College history professor Premilla Nadasen. Ninety-five percent are women and more than half are women of color. An estimated 45 percent are immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center, both documented and undocumented.

Like many workers who are employed in what’s considered “women’s work,” domestic laborers are chronically underpaid. According to a 2017 report from the NDWA, less than half of domestic workers are paid enough to adequately support a family, and 20 percent report that, in the last month, there have been times when they had been unable to afford food.

When the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act were enacted in the 1930s, both excluded domestic workers, leaving them without the minimum wage, overtime, and collective bargaining protections offered to other workers.

“Southern congressmen were fearful that granting Black workers labor rights would disrupt the racial order of the South,” Nadasen says. “And Northern labor leaders representing industrial unions also never saw domestic workers as part of their constituency and did not advocate for their rights.”

In 1974, domestic workers finally won the federal minimum wage and other protections, but those protections still weren’t extended to casual workers like babysitters, or companions to the elderly. As Lizzy Ratner wrote in The Nation in 2009:

Because most domestic workers labor in environments with fewer than fifteen employees, they are also excluded from such key civil rights legislation as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII, which bars most kinds of employment discrimination. Add to this the difficulty of enforcing even the few protections that do exist—particularly for undocumented workers—and for many domestic workers it’s still 1934.

“We see the gaps that still exist,” says the NDWA’s Marzena Zukowska. “There are [domestic] workers who live in states that aren’t friendly to workers’ rights or immigrants’ rights,” like Texas, which has the third highest number of domestic workers in the country, about half of whom are undocumented or lacking work authorization. “For the first time in history, we have a chance to raise the bar for every domestic worker in our country,” says Poo.

For Sanluis—now an organizer with the Fuerza del Valle Workers Center—the success of prior bills is proof that federal legislation is achievable too. “Take a look at the bill, analyze it, be conscious of the fact that we are also human beings, and we deserve the same basic rights and protections as workers in other industries.”

The post The First-Ever National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Is a Game Changer appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Labor Leaders Say Only “Full-Throated Economic Populism” Can Defeat Elites

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 16:29

With the American labor movement under relentless assault by the right-wing Supreme Court, the Republican Party at both the state and federal level, and President Donald Trump‘s plutocratic administration, prominent union leaders convened during the final day of The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday to confront the existential threat facing the working class and emphasize the urgency of organizing at the grassroots level to fight back and build political power.

“The working class is hurting, and they’re done with business as usual,” Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, declared during a panel discussion titled, “The Labor Movement: Essential to Democracy.”

Moderated by RoseAnn DeMoro—former executive director of National Nurses United (NNU)—the panel of progressive union leaders attributed Trump’s presidential victory to the Democratic Party’s decades-long corporate turn and abandonment of the working class, which left a gaping void that the billionaire real estate mogul exploited in his rise to power.

The result, Dimondstein argued, was “a lesser of two evils duopoly”—two dominant political parties that side with the interests of business over those of the working class.

“Political parties have failed, absolutely failed, the working class,” Dimondstein said.

To begin rebuilding the labor movement in the face of the ceaseless assault from right-wing politians and their billionaire benefactors, Good Jobs Nation Joseph Geevarghese argued that the tepid centrism and incremental solutions offered by the Democratic establishment will not cut it.

“We don’t need more centrism. We don’t need more half-baked economic ideas,” Geevarghese said during the panel discussion, which also included Peter Knowlton, general president of United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America.

“We need more full-throated economic populism,” Geevarghese continued. “We need to make sure that we grow the American labor movement.”

As the panelists readily acknowledged, the present state of organized labor is grim, particularly after the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, which dealt a major blow to public-sector unions. According to the most recent government data, just over 10 percent of American workers are union members—an all-time low.

But there are plenty of bright spots, such as radicalized teachers unions striking to combat budget cuts and demanding fair pay nationwide, nurses leading the grassroots fight for Medicare for All, and workers throughout the country organizing for a $15 minimum wage.

“Working people are the most powerful force on Earth,” said DeMoro, who retired this year as executive director of NNU, the largest nurses union in the United States. “The labor movement isn’t just people who are in unions, it’s all of us.”

In order to defeat the corporate forces hellbent on completely eliminating workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively for better wages and conditions, Dimondstein of the Postal Workers Union argued the working class must become as organized and political as the business elites it is combating.

“Unions and the working class need to be political as hell,” Dimondstein concluded. “Last time I checked, the Koch brothers are political as hell, Wall Street is political is hell… We have to be political.”

Watch the full panel discussion, which closed with a rousing group performance of Solidarity Forever, the union anthem by Ralph Chaplin, the iconic labor activist:

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The Labor Movement: Essential to Democracy

LIVE at The Sanders Institute Gathering: The Labor Movement: Essential to DemocracyIn an era of systemic attacks to cut union resources and erode workers’ rights, there needs to be serious discussion about how to effectively fight back. This panel will cover the implications of Janus, the fight for $15 and discuss the innovative ways in which unions and workers’ rights groups continue to build a strong voice for the working class.Speakers: RoseAnn DeMoro, Activist & Former Executive Director, National Nurses United (NNU); Mark Dimondstein, President, American Postal Workers Union (APWU); Joseph Geevarghese, Executive Director, Good Jobs Nation; Peter Knowlton, General President, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers (UE)

Posted by Sanders Institute on Saturday, December 1, 2018

The post Labor Leaders Say Only “Full-Throated Economic Populism” Can Defeat Elites appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

The LGBTQ Movement Needs to Revisit Its Radical Past to Thrive

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 15:15

Author and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Roderick A. Ferguson, takes a deep dive into the radical roots of the LGBTQ movement in his new book One-Dimensional Queer. In this interview, Ferguson discusses the capitalist motivations for commodifying queerness and how the movement today can combat those motivations to return to a more intersectional movement.

Samantha Borek: This book struck me as very poignant, especially in the current political moment as well as the state of LGBTQ movements today. Was there any one moment that made you feel this book needed to be written?

Roderick A. Ferguson: I, and many others, have been struck by the accumulation of various moments that require a critique of how gay or queer liberation has been narrowed in the name of gay rights, gay belonging, gay consumption. People forget that, for instance, the freedom to marry, the right to participation in the military, and the expansion of hate crime legislation — which has contributed to the expansion of the prison-industrial complex — were part of the primary agenda for gay rights organizations in the 1990s, as Dean Spade and Craig Wilse analyzed almost 20 years ago. That cluster of agendas that made gay entrance into the mainstream part of the expansion of the US’s military and penal powers was the first time that I thought that there needed to be a critique of how gay and queer politics had strayed. I also remember the first time I saw the rainbow flag advertised as a barcode. That was back in the 2000s. It suggested immediately that LGBTQ identity was being tied to the expansion of capitalism. I bring all of this up to say that the mainstreaming of LGBTQ politics is really about the accumulation of various “moments,” an accumulation that bolsters the powers of the state and of the market.

In the book, you note the University of Toronto’s homophile group quoting Milton Friedman, an economist that would later advise Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: “There is an economic incentive in a free market to separate economic efficiency from other characteristics of the individual.” Could you elaborate on that? Why is that purposeful disconnect important to recognize in queer movements today?

Roderick A. FergusonRoderick A. Ferguson.Via Roderick A. Ferguson

Well, the group was interpreting Friedman in order to align gay rights with neoconservative ideologies concerning market capitalism. It’s the idea that the market is rational and unprejudiced, that the market only values whether or not you’re an efficient and productive worker, that everyone has equality of opportunity in a market that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of your racial, class, gender or sexual identity. Now, the history of labor discrimination and labor segmentation — because of the gender and race of the applicant, as well as the history of redlining — are just two realities that shatter this notion that the market is blindfolded like the image of Justice. Invoking Friedman was a way for groups like the U of T homophile group to claim that the market would be the great rescuer of LGBT folks and usher them into the social mainstream.

There’s an interesting quote (which the book aims to refute) from Leo Louis Martello, “GAY POWER … means earning and paying one’s way,” suggesting that monetary gain means liberation. This reminds me a lot of Caitlyn Jenner, a wealthy, white trans woman who put her stock in Donald Trump, which other white LGBTQ folks did in turn. This seems to be a notion rooted in capitalist white supremacy. How does this contrast with the intersectional, radical picture of queer movements from the ’60s and ’70s?

One-Dimensional QueerAuthor Roderick A. Ferguson discusses the commodification of queerness in One-Dimensional Queer.Polity

If you think about groups like Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), started by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson; the group Third World Revolution; or the Philadelphia group DYKETACTICS, there was no belief that the wealthy would come in and make lives of poor people, people of color, or the great majority of gay or trans people better. How could people believe that in a moment in which they were actively paying attention to all the ways in which wealth was decreasing the life-chances of the poor, who were differentiated not only by race and class, but by gender and sexuality as well? The moment in which these groups were active was one in which they were all in a sense saying that their various differences were not there to be the handmaids of state, capital and white supremacy. We can differentiate them from Caitlyn Jenner and her bourgeois counterparts in that way for starters.

In my own historical understanding, I (and other youths) would assume that the depoliticizing of queer movements only occurred in the last few years. The second chapter of your book suggests that “gay respectability” came into play almost immediately after Stonewall with most of the “blame” for the violence being laid on groups like the Black Panthers and Yippies (Youth National Party). How is this continuing to play out today, particularly in how we celebrate Pride Month?

Yes, I was interested in the earlier emergence of gay respectability as well. It was one of the surprises, how soon after Stonewall it emerged and how it arose as a challenge to the lively anti-racist, anti-imperialist and socialist politics being developed by queer groups. To the extent that Pride becomes a way of externalizing anti-racist and anti-capitalist politics to “those other groups” is the extent to which Pride walks in this bourgeois legacy.

In Austin, Texas, we have QueerBomb in addition to typical Pride. How do celebrations like that, which aim to combat corporate control and commodification of Pride, fit into the radical narrative of queer history?

Events like QueerBomb are hugely important because of the ways in which they try to take inspiration from the radical queer past and for the ways in which they try to shed light on the organizations that are trying to extend the legacies of that past. These events are also important because they demonstrate the creative ways in which people are trying to express the diversities of queerness for critical and alternative purposes. Part of what was so interesting to me doing the research and the writing for the book was how political, economic and social forces were trying to convince queers to press their interests and energies into the confines of what the government and the market would allow. This was a way of trying to quash queer experiments with socialist and anti-racist politics and alternative family formations. The more events (like QueerBomb) that try to reactivate those experiments, the better off we’ll all be.

What, in your view, is imperative for the growing community to do or recognize, in order to continue in the radical tradition of Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, etc.?

We have to encourage and develop practices whereby queerness isn’t a surrender to the status quos of race, class, gender and sexuality. It means building forms of queerness that reject the given realities of the government and the market. After having written the book, I now take the real meaning of Stonewall as not about the singular assertion of gay and sexual liberation at all. It was, in fact, a refusal to accept a whole series of domination. Through the book, I learned that Stonewall was connected to so many issues — institutionalized homophobia and transphobia on a campus like NYU, demonstrations against the violent uses of police power, critiques of US imperialism in places like Puerto Rico, efforts to produce housing security for the most vulnerable. Continuing the radical tradition of the founders of STAR has to be grounded in a multi-dimensional politics and activism. That is my new understanding of Stonewall after the book.

The post The LGBTQ Movement Needs to Revisit Its Radical Past to Thrive appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

How Climate Change Helped Create the Migrant Caravan

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 14:28

The “caravan” of hopeful immigrants from Central America that was tear gassed by the US government on November 25 continues to be shamelessly exploited as political fodder. Trump depicts the immigrants as a security threat to the US, while Democrats like Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compare the Central American immigrants to Jews fleeing Germany because of the threat of physical violence and death in their own country. But both these narratives overlook one of the main contributors of the migrant caravan.

The Southern border has seen a sharp increase in the number of Guatemalans trying to enter the US, starting in 2014. That was coincidentally the first year of a severe drought tied to an extreme El Niño that struck Central America’s “Dry Corridor,” which includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, collectively known as the Northern Triangle. El Salvador’s rivers are drying up and Guatemala’s semiarid region is expanding. Temporary relief from the drought has only come from occasional, devastating flooding, which has only added to the destruction of crops. One-third of all employment in Central America comes from agriculture, and that is now failing across the entire region.

Guatemala is ranked as one of the top 10 of the world’s nations most vulnerable to the climate crisis — meaning an agricultural crisis that is now evolving into a human crisis. The current weather patterns wreaking havoc on Central American agriculture are consistent with what climate scientists have predicted, and climate models indicate it will only get worse. Those areas of the world prone to drought will see even less precipitation (like the American West), and those that see too much will get even more, with overall temperatures on the rise.

An inter-agency study from the United Nations interviewed families trying to leave Central America. The report revealed that the driving force for this exodus was not violence per se, but the drought and its downstream consequences — lack of food, no income and no work — all related to crop failures.

Eduardo Méndez López is a subsistence farmer in Guatemala and was interviewed by National Geographic. The multi-year drought completely wiped out his corn fields. His source of food is rapidly dwindling; he has no income; and he soon will have no way of feeding his six children. “This is the worst drought we’ve ever had. We’ve lost absolutely everything. If things don’t improve, we’ll be forced to migrate somewhere else. We can’t go on like this,” he told National Geographic. The reporter described the physical appearance of López and his neighbors as gaunt and “skin stretched thin over bone” after being forced to survive for months on corn tortillas and salt.

It’s not just subsistence farming that is being threatened by climate change in the Northern Triangle. Cash crops like coffee have been decimated by the drought and another climate-related plague called “leaf rust,” a fungus that used to die with cool evenings, but no longer does because of warmer night time temperatures.

Robert Albro, researcher at American University, says, “The main reason people are moving is because they don’t have anything to eat. This has a strong link to climate change – we are seeing tremendous climate instability that is radically changing food security in the region.” Almost half of Guatemalan children under 5 years old suffer malnutrition. In rural areas of the country, it’s 90 percent. A World Food Program analysis found that nearly half of migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala cited food insecurity as a reason for their leaving their home countries.

Children and teenagers are dropping out of school because their families have no money for supplies. Entire villages are unraveling because there is no money to plant another crop and not enough government help. Even more people would abandon their homes but have no money for transportation. Rural Guatemalans are foraging the landscape in search of wild malanga roots in a desperate attempt to feed themselves.

Global temperatures have been above average for 406 straight months. At the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, by 2100, the world can expect 2 billion of its inhabitants to become climate refugees like the Central American caravan. As required by law, the federal government just released the latest National Climate Assessment, a 1,600-page report from more than 300 scientists from 13 federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA. The overriding theme is that the United States is already being adversely impacted by climate change and it will continue to get much worse; the economic impacts will be enormous and time is running out to do something about it.

President Trump says he doesn’t believe the report, and continues with public statements as ridiculous as, “I want great climate, we’re going to have that.” He has decried “globalism,” extolled “nationalism” and forced the United States to become the only nation to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. But there is no wall tall enough, or Border Patrol massive enough, to stop either the “global” or the “national” consequences of the climate crisis.

Trump is training guns and tear gas on the trickle of human suffering inching toward our border. But that trickle will become a raging torrent if the United States continues to deny the climate crisis, its role in causing it and its responsibility to help alleviate it.

The post How Climate Change Helped Create the Migrant Caravan appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

On Hanukkah, Let’s Challenge Militarized Security Responses to Anti-Semitism

Truth Out - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 14:19

Amid the swirl of responses to the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October was the New York Post report of a Colorado gun shop owner named Mel “Dragonman,” who publicly offered free guns, ammo and firearms training to congregational rabbis. According to the report, responses to his offer were “mixed.” One congregant appreciated the dealer’s intentions but added “arming people is … not part of the solution.” Another answered that while she was fine with the idea, she drew the line at the prospect of her rabbi carrying an AR-15 during services.

While this story is obviously a cheap tabloid throwaway on the surface, it does reflect a serious and increasing intra-communal conversation over the security of synagogues and Jewish institutions post-Pittsburgh. Indeed, it would not be an overstatement to suggest that the Tree of Life massacre is causing an American Jewish reckoning over the threat of anti-Semitic violence with a gravity we have not seen in generations.

According to press reports, increasing numbers of synagogues have already hired armed guards or are seriously considering doing so. The New York Post reports, “Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, a former cop who founded a group called the International Security Coalition of Clergy, said he has been inundated with more than 150 calls from ‘scared’ rabbis, congregants and non-Jews who want guns or self-defense training, which includes learning how to hurl weights and tomahawk axes.” The rabbi of a prominent Kansas City congregation explained his decision to hire an armed guard thus: “You have to be vigilant all the time, unfortunately. That’s just part of what it means to be a congregation at this moment in history.”

Other synagogues and organizations, however, are resisting the urge to resort to armed security, citing an unwillingness to let “fear-mongering” and “trauma-triggering” (embodied by Trump’s comment that an armed guard could have prevented the tragedy) dictate their approach to their own communal security. As New York-based organization Jews For Economic and Racial Justice (JFREJ) responded in its statement:

We know that antisemitism is a pillar of white supremacy, and that as white supremacy rears its head more brazenly, so does antisemitism. In recognizing the very real need for safety in synagogues and Jewish communal spaces, we must be skeptical of calls made by Trump and others to increase police presence in our community spaces.

This issue is also fraught because the American Jewish community is more diverse than many often assume — and vulnerable minority groups within the Jewish community members are openly expressing their fears that an increased police presence or hired security would cause to feel unsafe and unwelcome in their own houses of worship. This fall — even before the Tree of Life tragedy — one synagogue president wrote about this very issue after his synagogue board discussed congregational security during the High Holidays:

Not only do we believe that public or private police won’t keep us safe, we decided that these kinds of security measures could very possibly hurt our community in grave ways. Our congregants include people of color, trans and gender non-conforming folk, queers and their families, peace activists and others who have all been targets of police and state violence…. The risk to individuals and the fabric of our congregation outweighs any potential benefit.

In a widely read article following the attack, Bentley Addison expressed his personal feelings about the impact an armed police presence would have on him as a Black American Jew, pointing out that “with police officers in synagogues, Black Jews and Jews of Color won’t feel safer at all.” Addison concluded forcefully that, following Pittsburgh, congregations should “prioritize the safety of all Jews.”

As a result, some congregations and Jewish organizations are promoting decidedly different models of communal security. For instance, JFREJ, in partnership with Jewish congregations and organizations and allies in the New York City police accountability movement, recently released a “Commit to the Community Safety Pledge” in which Jewish institutions can commit to “develop a community safety plan that aims to honor all who come through our doors.” The text of the pledge further notes:

People targeted by state-enforced violence in our country have had to do this work for centuries, and we are grateful to learn from the wisdom they’ve developed. The strategies include interfaith collaboration and crisis de-escalation, as well as long-term interventions such as creating alternative safety teams, rapid response networks, and broader cultural education around antisemitism and white supremacy.

In a similar vein, Jewish Voice for Peace’s Deputy Director Stefanie Fox has stated that the organization is exploring the possibility of establishing an “interfaith security coalition” in which different faith communities would band together to protect each other’s worship spaces. “If we’re doing the work to deepen our practice and skills around safety outside of policing, that capacity can and should serve not only our Jewish communities but also our interfaith partners in the crosshairs of white nationalist and state violence,” Fox said.

On a strictly practical level, Jewish institutions are actively considering institutional safety strategies such as evacuation plans that have the potential to save lives more effectively than police or armed guards. They also stress the need for these plans to be collectively developed and shared and not simply left to “trained professionals.” As one Jewish organizational consultant recently put it, Jewish synagogue security functions should be “de-siloed,” advising that “safety and security needs to be shared by clergy, operations staff, those responsible for community engagement as well as lay leaders.”

For contemporary Jews of course, this conversation is nothing new. In the post-Holocaust world, the issue of Jewish safety and security is complex and fraught — particularly with the establishment of a Jewish nation-state whose very raison d’etre is to safeguard Jewish lives. In many ways, it might be claimed that Israel itself embodies Trump’s response to the Pittsburgh shooting: that the only true form of protection comes from the barrel of a gun.

However, the 70-year history of the state of Israel has demonstrated the fatal fallacy of this response. In the 21st century, the state founded with the ostensible mission of ensuring Jewish security has ironically become the one place in the world where Jews feel the most unsafe: an over-militarized garrison state that is literally building higher and higher walls between itself and its “enemies.” And of course, the establishment and maintenance of an ethnically Jewish nation state has created an even more unsafe environment for the millions of non-Jews who happen to live there.

On a final note, it’s worth noting that this current conversation is taking place as the Jewish festival of Hanukkah approaches. For many, this holiday is a celebration of Jewish armed might against the anti-Semitic persecution of the Assyrian Seleucid Empire in 168 BCE. This is largely due to the influence of its observance in Israel, where this relatively minor Jewish festival has been transformed into a celebration of military might by Zionist founders who identified with the Hanukkah story’s central characters, the Maccabees — the priestly Jewish clan whose military victory over the Assyrians resulted in the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and a brief period of Jewish independence.

However, while many might reflexively accept Israel’s framing of the Maccabee narrative, the history of Hanukkah is not nearly as simple as this version might indicate. As it would turn out, the Jewish commonwealth established by the Maccabees (known as the Hasmonean Kingdom) quickly became corrupt, oppressing its own Jewish citizens and waging ill-advised wars of conquest against surrounding nations. In the end, it didn’t take long for the Romans to move in and mop up. All in all, the last period of Jewish political sovereignty in the land lasted less than 100 years.

The Talmudic rabbis who developed classical Jewish tradition as we know it were not, to put it mildly, huge fans of Judah Maccabee and his followers, and they were loath to glorify the Books of the Maccabees (which was never canonized as part of the Hebrew Bible). In fact, the festival of Hanukkah is scarcely mentioned in the Talmud beyond a brief debate about how to light a menorah and a legend about a miraculous vial of oil that burned for eight days. Notably, the words of the prophet Zechariah, “Not by might and not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of Hosts,” was chosen to be recited as the prophetic portion for the festival.

In the end, it’s altogether appropriate that this current Jewish communal conversation about the true nature of Jewish safety and security is taking place as the holiday of Hanukkah approaches. In the aftermath of Pittsburgh, American Jews find themselves considering these age-old questions anew: How will we respond to those who seek to do us harm? Can we depend upon the physical force of state security to save us? Or will we answer with a deeper vision of communal security — that none of us will be safe until all of us are safe?

The post On Hanukkah, Let’s Challenge Militarized Security Responses to Anti-Semitism appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Yet Another Benefit of Renewable Energy: It Uses Practically No Water Compared to Fossil Fuels

deSmog - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 10:09
Read time: 7 minsObama and Biden speak with Namaste Solar Electric CEO and look at solar panels in Denver

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently highlighted a little-discussed benefit of using renewables like wind and solar to produce electricity: Unlike most power sources, they require “almost no water.”

This is remarkable because thermoelectric power generation is the leading use of water in America. (That said, only three percent of power generation's 133 billion gallons a day of water is considered “consumptive use,” as the U.S. Geological Survey says, “meaning it is lost to evaporation or blowdown during generation.”)

Tags: renewablesWater conservationdroughtWindsolar
Categories: News

CIA finds Saudi crown prince sent at least 11 messages to adviser who oversaw Khashoggi killing around time of his death

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 07:13

CIA finds Saudi crown prince sent at least 11 messages to adviser who oversaw Khashoggi killing around time of his death | 01 Dec 2018 | Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his adviser, who oversaw the effort to kill Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, around the time of Khashoggi's killing, according to a classified CIA report obtained by The Wall Street Journal. According to the excerpts of the assessment reported by the Journal, the crown prince told associates in August 2017 "we could possibly lure [Khashoggi] outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements," if the crown prince could not convince the dissident Saudi journalist, who was living in Virginia, to return to Saudi Arabia. The Journal noted that it was unclear from the excerpts whether the comments came directly from the crown prince or from someone describing his communications.

Categories: News

Stock markets to close for a day to honor George H.W. Bush

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 06:06

Stock markets to close for a day to honor George H.W. Bush | 01 Dec 2018 | The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq will close on Wednesday to honor former President George H.W. Bush following his death, spokespeople confirmed Saturday. NYSE spokeswoman Kristen Kaus told The Hill that the exchange will also observe a minute of silence on Monday in honor of the late president, who died on Friday. The Nasdaq will also observe a moment of silence on Monday, with spokesman Will Briganti saying it "plans to close its U.S. equities and options markets on December 5 in honor of the national day of mourning."

Categories: News

Jason Walker Attacked by Prison Clansmen for Reporting their Brutality

It's Goin Down - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 02:43

The post Jason Walker Attacked by Prison Clansmen for Reporting their Brutality appeared first on It's Going Down.

This report first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View. See past articles by Jason Walker here.

I’m sad to report that I was attacked and beaten by clansman as Black guards watched. I sent out a report on this but left out info I felt would cause the message to be banned, delayed or thrown away. This attack was in response to my November Bay View piece that circulated around the prison like wildfire.

Until I don’t have hands to write and eyes to see and a tongue to speak, I will continue to expose such attempts to repress my freedom of speech. As long as the oppressor recognizes it can use justified brutality to chill prisoners’ rights of exposing acts that shock the conscience and deter others from expressing them, they won’t stop.

Death is the only thing that will stop me; history has proven that Texas officials are more than up to the challenge. I’m here and I’m waiting. Make me stop. Shut me up. It took death to shut David Ruiz up, and that’s what it will take to silence me. I’m giving my life to the nation of the oppressed.

Judgment day will come for the oppressor. Their wall of protection will come crumbling down like the Berlin Wall. The darkness this evil has hidden in for over one hundred years will one day shine bright for all the world to see.

On the morning of Nov. 23, 2018, around 3:15 a.m., I was grabbed by Officer Pollock, snatched out of the chowhall and beaten by him, Officer Williford and another white officer as Black guards stood by watching. Pollock’s plan was to slam me to the ground and they all punch and stomp me.

I wouldn’t allow him to slam me, so many other guards, including Black ones, began punching me in the face and body. I felt a radio hit me in the head and I fell to the ground. They stomped me in the ribs, head and body.

While I was pinned to the ground, I felt a sharp object poke me in one eye, then the other eye. Now both of my eyes are partially blind. I believe my retinas were scratched. I can see but part of my vision in both eyes have permanent blind spots. I’ll need glasses.

Pollock wrote me a bogus assault case, saying I hit him in the left eye. My only evidence is the kitchen camera that will show I was snatched out of the chowhall door. I never hit anyone, my fight was protecting myself from as many blows as possible.

They even tried to break one of my fingers. If I would have fought back, the first three wouldn’t have stood a chance. I now face trumped up criminal charges. My focus was giving them no legit reason to say I hit them.

I was denied medical care from when it happened until 9:30 a.m. I was told medical staff don’t come until after 6:00 a.m. In violation of policy, I was locked up without having a physical. I was forced to fill out the use of force statement while I was still dizzy and as Lt. Nesbit impatiently waited. I wasn’t able to explain everything because of limited spacing.

I need for someone to subpoena the kitchen surveillance camera from 2:50 a.m. till 3:30 a.m. and the portable camera that was used to escort me to a cell. You will see from the kitchen camera that Pollock got into it with another Black prisoner, stood by him mugging him and me while we ate, then followed the Black prisoner out of the chowhall.

I identified myself as a published writer who would report him. It sounded like he told another white guard that I was “the newspaper nigger.” Then he handed the officer loose items off his person, as if he was getting ready to tussle.

I felt something was wrong so I checked my watch for documenting. Then, when I was about to walk out the chowhall, Pollock elbowed me, then partially slammed the door on me. I asked why he hit me. That’s when I was grabbed.

Pollock and Williford are broadly known as racists and rumor suggests they are Klansmen for the Riverside KKK. Ever since the November Bayview has been circulating, white guards have been making sly remarks about it. Pollock tried to provoke me a time before, but I ignored him.

It’s ironic that the very form of justified assault I explained in the November issue, I’m now a subject of. What are the odds of that?

Don’t be surprised if I’m transferred again. When you get this, please check and see if I’m still here and still alive.

This is my motion that the courts denied. Under their rules, there is no time limit for the courts to notify defendants.

This is only the beginning. They didn’t seem satisfied that I survived with only a few scratches on the left side of my face. More will come.

My body, bones, ribs and back hurt real bad. I was only given a cheap form of Tylenol. I need legal help. I’ve sent motions to the court seeking an injunction for the continuous destruction of my legal mail, legal evidence etc.

As I go from one place to another, I’m having stuff stolen by staff. By the time my First Amendment/social media/retaliation suit is heard in court, I won’t have any supporting evidence left.

I filed suit over a year ago, and the courts still haven’t screened it or notified the defendants that they are being sued. So technically they can retaliate and pretend not to know they are being sued.

Send our brother some love and light: Jason Renard Walker, 1532092, Ellis Unit, 1697 FM 980, Huntsville TX 77340. (And readers, please help find good lawyers for Jason and Malik, brave Black freedom fighters surrounded by Klansmen acting “under color of law.” Hands off Jason and Malik! – ed.)

Categories: News

A Brief Note on the Yellow Vest Movement

It's Goin Down - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 02:34

The post A Brief Note on the Yellow Vest Movement appeared first on It's Going Down.

A short and critical look at the “Yellow Vests” movement taking place in France. For more of an in- depth look, go here.

The Yellow Vest Movement presents something of a conundrum for anarchists. To quote The BBC, “It is quite clear there were agitators or “casseurs” at the sharp end of the clashes with police. We saw groups of people both from the anarchist far-Left and from the nationalist far-Right. They were tooled up and ready for a fight.” Occupying the same spaces as the far-right seems like strange position for anarchists to be in. However, I personally support the anarchist presence in the movement and I’ll briefly explain why.

The proposed tax on fuel functions is regressive tax that would serve to exacerbate inequality and reduce the disposal income of people who’re dependent on fossil fuels through no fault of their own. At the same time, our dependence on fossil fuels is causing catastrophic climate change, which is likely displace millions of people and represents a global network of exploitation and extraction.

CrimethInc. recently published an in-depth analysis of the yellow vest movement, which is a grass-roots, decentralized, direct-action oriented struggle, framed as opposition to the state squeezing the pockets of average French people. It has attracted participants from across the political spectrum including the far-right, anarchists, communists, social democrats and apolitical people concerned with rising fuel costs. Attendees have chanted far-right slogans and have used racist and homophobic rhetoric. At the same time many reject the far-right rhetoric.

The anarchist approach is to address climate change at its root cause, by acknowledging the underlying structures of domination that lead to environmental destruction in the first place, namely capitalism and the state. Instead of offsetting the cost of pollution fuels onto people, anarchists propose to minimize our dependence of fossil fuels by providing alternatives and attacking the concentration of corporate and state power that forces people into being dependent on fossil fuels for the livelihoods, for example, traveling long distances on a daily basis for work. Today, production isn’t local and decentralized, rather, concentrated power has produced a core and periphery, which necessitates the long-distance movement of millions of people and goods on a daily basis.

For fascists this represents an opportunity to sow a false narrative among the working class, blaming immigration, encouraging racism against minorities and maligning environmentalism by associating with a state that is out of touch with the realities of everyday life. Their platform does very little to address the core issues and primarily serves to capitalize on hate.

Before I go any further, it’s important to acknowledge that many people don’t have the privilege to operate in the same spaces as the far-Right and that going out into the streets or extending support is a matter of personal preference.

That said, an anarchist presence on the ground is important to maintain because firstly, we should reject statist measures such as taxes that that eat into the livelihoods of the working class and present an alternate framework that address the problem at its root, capitalism itself. Secondly, as pointed out by CrimethInc., fascists have attempted to co-opt the yellow vest movement and a strong anarchist presence would serve to counter their reactionary appeal to apolitical protesters. Finally standing in solidarity with each other, fighting the police state, is a good opportunity for anarchists to demonstrate their ideals and broaden their networks.

Categories: News

Pickets Hold the Line After Back-To-Work Legislation

It's Goin Down - Sun, 12/02/2018 - 00:56

The post Pickets Hold the Line After Back-To-Work Legislation appeared first on It's Going Down.

Union members and community supporters across Canada have been organizing militant and effective pickets at Canada Post facilities ever since legislation came down on Monday making strikes by Canada Post workers themselves illegal.

Vancouver, Hamilton, Edmonton, Halifax, Windsor, and Mississauga have all seen “cross pickets” or “solidarity pickets” blocking mail trucks from entering or leaving processing plants for hours at a time. The actions have mobilized between 30 and 80 people and targeted key distribution centers.

The solidarity pickets have been made up of a broad coalition of political activists, and labor and community supporters. Major unions and labor councils have turned out dozens of their members.

In several cases, IWW branches and members have been instrumental in coordinating the pickets, and in setting the tone on the line.

Tara, a picketer in Edmonton, said “IWW people were the ones taking the hard stance of not letting the trucks through. Once the first truck with mail in it was parked on their property, a couple of IWW people went over and said ‘this is a bad idea, we’ve got to park them someplace else.’ So then we started making the trucks park on the street.”

In Hamilton, picketers blocked the street with pallets and wouldn’t let trucks pass without first checking their paperwork. Picketer Dan explained:

A guy shows me a bill of lading and it says he’s got 25 pallets of parcels. So I look at it, and I said, ‘Look, I know you’ve probably got somewhere to be, but we can’t let you out. You’ve got to call the plant manager, you’ve got to figure something out. If you go drop your trailer off inside, we’ll let you out.’ So about two hours later, he came back with no trailer and we let him out.

The union for postal workers, CUPW, has been negotiating with Canada Post for over a year, and recently coordinated a month of rotating strikes. However, on Monday, the government ordered postal workers back to work, under penalty of extremely stiff fines: a single worker could face a fine of $1,000 per day, and the union itself $100,000 a day.

The union’s national executive narrowly voted not to defy the law, even though similar legislation that was passed in 2011, during the last contract negotiation, was later found unconstitutional.

According to cross picket organizers, as soon as it became apparent that CUPW leadership was not going to continue strikes, they began making plans to target the distribution facilities in support of Canada Post workers.

Old-fashioned organizing

The actions were organized through phone trees, working with existing social networks of union activists and political groups. In some cases, in-person strategy meetings were held. In other words, they were pulled together through good, old-fashioned organizing methods: live conversations between people who know one another, rather than social media appeals or public blasts.

That is what has allowed them to be successful, say the organizers, not only in turning out sufficient numbers of well-disciplined members, but in putting together an effective picket hours before the police could mobilize a response, allowing participants to set up the infrastructure to successfully turn the mail trucks away.

Postal worker reaction

Picketers report that postal workers have been exceptionally happy to see them. In Windsor and Halifax, “posties” gave picketers a thumbs-up on their way in to or out of work. In Edmonton, “Anybody who drove by in a Canada Post vehicle was honking and waving,” according to Tara. Postal workers also dropped off coffee or delivered pizza to the picket lines. In Hamilton, Dan said, workers “cried with joy and hugged us.”

In Hamilton, the actions even spread inside the plant: “They did mass work refusals inside because the mail backed up so much they couldn’t move around the plant.”

Even local union officers reportedly looked happy to see the pickets, waving at picketers — evidence of the difference of opinion within union leadership with regard to defying the back-to-work legislation.

Working-class solidarity

Organizers noted that the pickets were a way of continuing economic action against Canada Post: “it’s like keeping the rotating strikes going, in a sense, because we are delaying the mail without having the postal workers defy the back-to-work legislation,” said Tara. They also acknowledged that the cross pickets were not as effective as workers themselves being out on strike.

However, one IWW member and former postal worker who participated in the Edmonton picket – and who had been legislated back to work in 2011 – explained the broader significance of what they were doing:

being legislated back to work is a really bad feeling. Having your rights broken by a government that is supposed to uphold your right to strike in the first place is a really negative feeling. So hopefully this is keeping morale up, and letting them know that their struggle is every worker’s struggle. Hopefully they’re staying motivated, still wanting to win, wanting to keep fighting, and knowing that they’re not alone in that fight.

Other picket organizers echoed the sentiment that the actions were about building solidarity across the whole working class. Darius, a picketer in Halifax, explained:

It’s bigger than Canada post. It’s about labor strategy more broadly, and how we can move towards solidarity and social movement unionism. When one union has its hands tied, other unions and other labor activists can still exert that pressure on their behalf. Maybe other workers will end up in the same position and Canada Post workers can come out and hold the line for them. It’s about building a movement of workers that can still exert pressure when laws designed to keep us inactive are enacted.

An IWW member in Windsor gave a specific example of how Canada Post workers had helped the entire working class:

CUPW has held the line for the working class on numerous occasions including the historic 1981 strike which led to the maternity leave system we know today. This back-to-work legislation is a direct assault on collective bargaining rights and further proof that we cant rely on legislation to protect us, only solidarity.

As for the role of the IWW, Dan in Hamilton explained that it was a natural fit:

This is the IWW’s time to shine. So many of the other unions, and mainstream union members, have amazing people who work within them, but they are heavily bound by legalities. And oftentimes the leadership persuades people who have strong tendencies to action to ‘not complicate things.’ So the IWW’s role in this climate right now, with this really fucked up legislation is: this is what we do. For us to call these actions, it’s just the nature of the IWW.

Latest Developments

His comments about legalities soon proved prescient, as the cross pickets are meeting with crackdown. Canada Post appealed to the government to issue an injunction against the actions, which was granted by the Ministry of the Attorney General.

However, picketers in Mississauga persisted in spite of the injunction.

After all, the legislative repression is evidence that the pickets and strikes are working. The crackdown may also backfire and draw more people out in support of Canada Post workers. As IWW organizers and other labor militants have noted, the government has left workers little choice but to use direct action tactics. And those tactics “get the goods.”

Advice for Other Picketers

Organizers had several pieces of advice for other groups looking to organize cross pickets:

  • Keep it off of social media: use phone-trees and direct communication.
  • “Coordinate with as many people in your communities as possible — other workers, other unions, community groups – to get people out.”
  • Don’t be predictable – change picket times and locations. Try to keep the company, and the police, on their toes.
Categories: News

Kite Line: Leon Benson in His Own Words, Part Two

It's Goin Down - Sat, 12/01/2018 - 23:44

The post Kite Line: Leon Benson in His Own Words, Part Two appeared first on It's Going Down.

Kite Line returns with the second part of a discussion with Leon Benson.

Listen and Download HERE

This week, we are continuing our talk with Leon Benson, who speaks to us from inside Pendleton Correctional Facility here in Indiana. He’s been inside since 1998, for a murder conviction and he has been trying to clear his name and win his freedom ever since. Benson was incarcerated at 23 years old, and talks about becoming conscious while on the inside, and shares with us details about the night of the murder, and his ongoing struggles to get Post Conviction Relief.

In addition to talking about being stonewalled by the Indiana court system, Benson talks about the prison industrial complex and its relationship to corporations such as Aramark, Global Tel Link, and more. He also talks about the new Jim Crow, and how race influences mass incarceration. Benson maintains his innocence and continues to fight the system.

You can find out more about Leon’s case at freeleonbenson.org, or write to him at Pendleton Correctional Facility, # 995256.

Categories: News

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