News

The False Idol of Self-Sacrifice

Anarchist News - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:23

from the new issue of Anathema

Anarchism has often been conflated with social work, much to the chagrin of those of us who prioritize undermining oppression over improving how it functions. The tendency towards charity, thinking it solidarity even when we want very different things politically from those we try to aid, is complicit in the maintenance (or manufacturing) of authority.

For instance, recently a volunteer at a local anarchist space filed a police report after someone came in and damaged the space. The logic behind this was to make medical treatment for the destructive actor available, without pressing charges, which his training as a social worker had taught him to do. But since this person was at the time on parole , this event instead sent him back to prison. Even if this hadn't been the case, filing a report does not take into consideration what the person you're trying to help wants, nor any of the other potential physical or psychological consequences.

Unfortunately, this is what this anarchist was trained to do in a field meant to help people, and in the heat of the moment he understandably reverted to this trained instinct. It had consequences he hadn't intended, but herein lies a risk of formally submitting to this do-the-right-thing (wage-compensated) industry - you're taught to find the path of least harm through state channels. The members of the anarchist space in question have since had meetings and one-on-one conversations about dealing with conflict and reaffirming a shared commitment not to involve the police.

Meanwhile, there is a whole network of activists whose anarchism is simply to do the social work neglected by the state - a strategy that not only seems to go unquestioned within such circles, but rather is continually applauded as though it were the most honorable form of struggle. These figurative social workers usually have aims beyond those of the state, but tend only to seek out a new authority to submit to and be punished by. This is notable in how social justice or accountability frameworks often tend to uphold rather than challenge existent social norms. This tendency toward authority, of course, necessitates a larger populace to submit, to struggle, and to sacrifice. This is a leftist tendency - to softly martyr oneself for the cause, clinging to the identities authority has forced upon us as some sort of empowerment, while in reality attempting to build on narratives of weakness. It involves promoting the most marginalized to leadership positions in order to reverse the current hierarchy, while simultaneously creating a new hierarchy based on the same identitarian logic. No wonder the left is so based on creating a mass movement while constantly failing to produce one. Who would want to join a group advertising weakness, projecting utopia based on bureaucracy (meetings, consensus, leadership), while also incredibly reliant on the state's social programs?

What would it mean to act instead toward freedom? We could imagine that one might begin by turning all that fiery rhetoric into fiery action. But even that would fall short, as it doesn't ask the question of what it would take to foment insurrection. Caring for others in the struggle, taking our basic necessities (regardless of laws protecting private property), and fighting those that stand in our way would be closer to the point. But physically dismantling the infrastructure that intends to prevent us from freedom, in combination with utilizing those expropriated resources for that very cause (by whatever means necessary), is closer.

Tags: anathemainsurrectionsocial workmutual aidcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Texas Lawsuit Could Mean Life or Death for the Affordable Care Act

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:22

Wednesday is looking like yet another pivotal day in the life-or-death saga that has marked the history of the Affordable Care Act.

In a Texas courtroom, a group of Republican attorneys general, led by Texas’ Ken Paxton, are set to face off against a group of Democratic attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra, in a lawsuit aimed at striking down the federal health law. The Republicans say that when Congress eliminated the penalty for not having health insurance as part of last year’s tax bill, lawmakers rendered the entire health law unconstitutional. The Democrats argue that’s not the case.

But first, the sides will argue before U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, whether the health law should be put on hold while the case is litigated. The GOP plaintiffs are seeking a “preliminary injunction” on the law.

Ending the health law, even temporarily, “would wreak havoc in our health care system,” said Becerra in a call with reporters last week. “And we don’t believe Americans are ready to see that their children are no longer able to see a doctor or that they cannot get treated for a preexisting health condition.”

Here are five questions and answers to help understand the case, Texas v. U.S.

1. What is this suit about?

In February, 18 GOP attorneys general and two GOP governors filed the suit in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas. They argue that because the Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012 by saying its requirement to carry insurance was a legitimate use of Congress’ taxing power, eliminating the tax penalty for failure to have health insurance makes the entire law unconstitutional.

“Texans have known all along that Obamacare is unlawful and a divided Supreme Court’s approval rested solely on the flimsy support of Congress’ authority to tax,” Paxton said in a statement when the suit was filed. “Congress has now kicked that flimsy support from beneath the law.”

The lawsuit asks the judge to prohibit the federal government “from implementing, regulating, enforcing, or otherwise acting under the authority of the ACA.”

2. Why are Democratic attorneys general defending the law?

The defendant in the case is technically the Trump administration. But in June, the administration announced it would not fully defend the law in court.

The Justice Department, in its filing in the case, did not agree with the plaintiffs that eliminating the tax penalty should require that the entire law be struck down. But it did say that without the tax, the provisions of the law requiring insurance companies to sell to people with preexisting conditions and not charge them more should fall, beginning Jan. 1, 2019. That is when the tax penalty goes away.

The Republican attorneys general say they still believe the entire law should be invalidated, but if that does not happen, they would accept the elimination of the preexisting condition protections.

The Democratic attorneys general applied to “intervene” in the case to defend the law in its entirety. They say they needed to step forward to protect the health and well-being of their residents. The judge granted them that status on May 16.

3. What would happen if the judge grants a preliminary injunction?

The GOP plaintiffs say the law needs to be stopped immediately, “both because individuals will make insurance decisions during fall open-enrollment periods and because the States cannot turn their employee insurance plans and Medicaid operations on a dime,” according to their brief.

But setting aside the ACA while the case proceeds “would throw the entire [health] system into chaos,” Becerra said. That’s because the ACA made major changes not just to the insurance market for individuals, but also to Medicare, Medicaid and the employer insurance market.

Even in 2012, when the Supreme Court was considering the constitutionality of the law before much of it had taken effect, some analysts from both parties predicted that finding the law unconstitutional could have serious repercussions for the Medicare program and the rest of the health care system.

In practice, however, even if Judge O’Connor were to rule in favor of the Republicans’ request to stop the law’s enforcement immediately, the decision could be quickly appealed up the line, including, if necessary, before the Supreme Court.

4. Is this case purely Republicans versus Democrats?

The case is largely partisan — with Republicans who oppose the health law arguing for its cancellation and Democrats who support it fighting to keep it in place.

But a friend-of-the-court brief filed by five law professors who disagree on the merits of the ACA said that, regardless, both the GOP states and the Justice Department are wrong to conclude that eliminating the tax penalty should result in the entire law being thrown out.

In this case, “Congress itself has essentially eliminated the provision in question and left the rest of a statute standing,” so courts do not need to guess whether lawmakers intended for the rest of the law to remain, they wrote.

5. What is Congress doing about this?

Technically, Congress is watching the case just as everyone else is. But Republicans in particular, while they mostly oppose the health law, are aware that the provisions protecting people with preexisting conditions are by far the most popular part of the ACA. And Democrats are already using the issue to hammer opponents in the upcoming midterm elections.

Last month, 10 GOP senators introduced legislation they said would maintain the ACA’s preexisting condition protections in the event the lawsuit succeeds.

“This legislation is a common-sense solution that guarantees Americans with preexisting conditions will have health care coverage, regardless of how our judicial system rules on the future of Obamacare,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), the bill’s lead sponsor, in a statement.

Critics, however, were quick to point out that the bill doesn’t actually offer the same protections that are embodied in the ACA. While the health law requires coverage for all conditions without extra premiums, the GOP bill would require that insurers sell to people with preexisting conditions, but not that those policies actually cover those conditions.

The post Texas Lawsuit Could Mean Life or Death for the Affordable Care Act appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Undercover Reporter at Amazon Warehouse Found Abusive Conditions

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:16

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has targeted Amazon for its role in widening the wage gap in the United States, and this week he is expected to unveil legislation requiring large employers like Amazon to cover the cost of federal assistance received by their employees. We speak with journalist James Bloodworth, who spent a month working undercover as a “picker” in an Amazon order fulfillment center and found workers were urinating in bottles because they were discouraged from taking bathroom breaks. His new book is Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain.

Please check back later for full transcript.

The post Undercover Reporter at Amazon Warehouse Found Abusive Conditions appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

New Midterm Election Polls Have Bad News for Trump and the GOP

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:10

A pair of recent polls reveal that President Donald Trump’s approval ratings are dangerously low for the Republican Party… and that this is having a measurable impact on their prospects in the upcoming midterm elections.

Democrats are currently ahead of Republicans by an average of six points in major congressional districts that are considered to be toss ups, according to a recent poll by Morning Consult. While Republicans have an edge over Democrats in districts that lean Republican, this amounts to a mere two point advantage.

Perhaps more ominously, Trump’s approval rating is underwater in a number of states where Republicans need to perform well in November, including North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. He is also on average underwater in districts that are regarded as toss-ups (42 percent approve of him in those districts, compared to 55 percent who disapprove) and districts that lean Republican (47 percent approve of him and 48 percent disapprove of him).

Trump also received ominous marks among independents. While Democrats are predictably sour on the president (73 percent strongly disapprove of him and 13 percent somewhat disapprove him) and Republicans are supportive (49 percent strongly approve of the president and 36 percent somewhat approve of him), independents are turning against Trump. While 14 percent strongly approve of the president and 24 percent somewhat approve of him (for a 38 percent total approval rating), 16 percent somewhat disapprove and 37 percent strongly disapprove of him.

In terms of the Senate elections, Morning Consult found that two Democrats (Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Claire McCaskill of Missouri) and one Republican (Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada) were the most vulnerable incumbents.

There was also this news from a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, which revealed that Democrats have a marked edge over Republicans in the upcoming elections:

The political landscape for the midterm elections favors Democrats in general and women candidates in particular, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, raising the prospect of significant perils for President Trump with the next Congress.

At the traditional Labor Day start of the campaign’s fall sprint, those surveyed said by 50 percent-39 percent that they were more likely to vote for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district, not the Republican one. That double-digit advantage, if it holds, would probably enable Democrats to win control of the House, giving them the power to launch investigations and even consider impeachment of the president.

Even if Democrats do sweep in the House of Representatives, it is unlikely that they will be able to remove President Trump from office through congressional will alone. In order for a president to be convicted after impeachment, two-thirds of the Senate has to vote in favor of removing him from office. Even if Democrats retained every Senate seat in which they’re up for reelection (and they could conceivably lose Florida and Missouri), they are at best looking at picking up two, three or maybe four Senate seats, including Nevada, Texas, Tennessee and Arizona. That would put Democrats more than a dozen votes shy of the 67 they’d need to remove Trump from office without Republican support.

The post New Midterm Election Polls Have Bad News for Trump and the GOP appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Do the Crime, Not the Time!

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:58

The post Do the Crime, Not the Time! appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

UCLA’s Patent War in India Prevents Access to Prostate Cancer Treatment

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:52

Drug prices are too high: One in five Americans ration their medicine due to high prices, and 10 million people die every year due to lack of access to medicines. Because of patent exclusivity laws, pharmaceutical corporations are able to set the price tag of a novel drug as high as they want, which often keeps it out of the hands of low-income populations. Patent rights, along with their political and economic power, allow Big Pharma to prioritize profit-making over health interests and leads to even larger inequalities in global access to medicines.

University research often plays a big role in the discovery of lifesaving medicines before manufacturers’ move in to price-gouge the new drugs. Take enzalutamide, a treatment for late-stage prostate cancer, as an example. The underlying research that led to its discovery was done at the University of California and funded in part by the Department of Defense and a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Many of the people it is intended to help cannot access the lifesaving medicine due to the high price set by its manufacturer, Pfizer. Further, Pfizer’s price in lower- and middle-income countries highlights the far-reaching monopoly power that US drug corporations have in the international market.

Intended to treat late-stage prostate cancer that is unresponsive to chemotherapy and surgical methods, enzalutamide — or Xtandi — has the potential to improve and prolong the lives of many people around the world living with untreatable prostate cancer. But the sticker price limits its impact. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has raked in more than half a billion in profit by licensing its novel drug to the biotech company Medivation, Inc., later acquired by Pfizer, which currently sells enzalutamide at $101.16 per pill in the United States.

UCLA went on to pursue a patent on Xtandi in India, which would block generic manufacturers from producing and marketing enzalutamide at a lower price. When the Indian government denied the patent, the university responded by filing an injunction, which freezes generic marketing. India’s generic manufacturers often develop medicines for other low- and middle-income countries. Thus, UCLA’s patent case prevents many nations from accessing a lower-priced generic enzalutamide. Without generic competitors, Xtandi is unaffordable in countries like Argentina, where it has already been introduced as a successful treatment through its clinical trials.

Argentina, a country newly classified as high-income by World Bank, was host to pivotal Xtandi drug trials. However, given the country’s extreme inequality between the wealthy and poor populations, the high price of a medicine like enzalutamide has a compounding effect. The richest 10 percent of people in Argentina control more wealth than the poorest 60, and 32.9 percent of Argentinians live in poverty. Prostate cancer accounts 13 percent of all cancer mortalities in the country.

Although the government provides universal health care to its citizens with provincial governments responsible for the delivery of services, there are significant regional disparities in health outcomes. Insurance coverage was estimated to reach 64 percent of the population by 2010. According to the World Health Organization, the majority of Argentinians pay 45 percent of medicine costs out of pocket, even with insurance. Thus, the price of enzalutamide far exceeds the threshold for a catastrophic health care expenditure when compared with Argentina’s Gross National Income per capita (average income of a citizen) of $13,040 per year.

According to an online drug-pricing database managed by Knowledge Ecology International, the current price of Xtandi in Argentina is listed as $58.06 per pill, putting the daily price of treatment (four pills a day) at $232.24, and the yearly price at $84,767. This means that Argentinians with no insurance would be forced to spend more than six times the country’s average income to purchase a year’s supply of enzalutamide out of pocket. Factoring in a 45 percent out-of-pocket cost that most Argentinians pay for prescriptions, patients with insurance can expect to be responsible for covering $38,145 of the price. Even though enzalutamide is available on the Argentine market and trials were conducted in the country, the price of the medicine is far out of reach for those who need it.

The Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences, an international nonprofit established by UNESCO and the World Health Organization, declares it unethical to conduct clinical trials in low-resource settings without making proper arrangements to ensure that the drug is available to the populations once it is released to the market. In guaranteeing that a drug is available to a low-resource population, researchers and sponsors must also consider financial availability; just because a drug is available for purchase in an area does not mean that the people will be able to afford it. Setting a price tag of more than $84,000 per year, making the drug far from available to these communities, is unethical. Dropping the patent case in India and allowing generic manufacturers to produce the drug would open the door to affordable, accessible treatment in Argentina, where patients have already witnessed the power of Xtandi.

The average Argentinian worker with insurance would have to almost triple their income to afford a year’s supply if they were to spend their income on the drug alone. The drug’s price tag is even more outrageous in low-income countries, which experience disproportionately higher rates of prostate cancer mortality (even though 68 percent of cases occur in high-income countries). The University of California’s Board of Regents has an ethical responsibility to drop the appeal for a patent on enzalutamide in India in order to ensure affordable access, not only in Argentina but worldwide, so that people living with untreatable prostate cancer can have a second chance at life. The university should hold true to its pledge to improve access to research for the betterment of the global society and allow generic manufacturers to produce the drug at a lower price.

The post UCLA’s Patent War in India Prevents Access to Prostate Cancer Treatment appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Melbourne's Trades Hall targeted by man who planned to carry out terrorist attacks

Anarchist News - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:49

From ABC

A man who planned to carry out terrorist attacks on three Melbourne targets intended to recruit people by handing out information on how to make explosive devices, prosecutors allege. Phillip Galea of Braybrook, in Melbourne's west, was charged in 2016 with planning to commit a terrorist act and collecting material in connection to a terrorist act.On the first day of Mr Galea's committal hearing, prosecutor David Staehli alleged there was electronic material showing Mr Galea was targeting the Melbourne Anarchist Club in Northcote, the Resistance Centre in the CBD, and Trades Hall in Carlton where Mr Galea collected intelligence and conducted reconnaissance. Mr Staehli said Mr Galea wanted to produce what he called The Patriots Cookbook, which would show how to make smoke bombs and metal bombs by using potassium nitrate "for the advancement of extreme right wing ideology to overcome the perceived Islam-isation of Australia".

"Mr Galea intended to source and recruit people to attack the targets identified," Mr Staehli said.

The court heard authorities raided Mr Galea's property in 2015 and found 361 grams of mercury, along with video clips on how to make explosives, and instructions on manufacturing mercury as a precursor to explosives. Prosecutors also said they found footage of Mr Galea performing a reconnaissance mission at the Resistance Centre in September 2015.'He started to talk about chopping people up'Witness Heidi Martin told the hearing she met Mr Galea through a right wing rally in Canberra and they met up again in Geelong in 2015 with other people when creating the Facebook group, the Greater Geelong Patriots United. The pair met again with three other people not long after to break away from the group and create their own page, Reclaim Australia Victoria Incorporated. She became the editor of the new page but told the court members of the group became uncomfortable with posts Mr Galea was putting up.

"He had a particular focus on church burnings. He was starting to talk about chopping people up, which is certainly not in line with anyone's beliefs," she said.

"It was a matter that was quite alarming and concerning and you've got someone talking about doing something that could harm the community." She said she spoke with a number of other members about her concerns."We were mainly talking about things that Phil had told [me] which were alarming things. Things that would send shock waves through anyone," she said.Ms Martin told the court a man involved in the group, Greg Burton, had been asked by Mr Galea to edit documents that were going to form The Patriots Cook Book, and he was horrified at what he read. "There was stuff about torture techniques," she said.Mr Galea is in custody.

Tags: MSMattackrightcategory: International
Categories: News

Abstentionist Posters and Anarcho-syndicalist Perspectives on Elections

Anarchist News - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:43

via MTL counter-info

From the CEDAS-ASCED

The electoral circus has begun in Quebec.

As anarcho-syndicalists, we believe necessary to promote a systematic abstaining stance. This is why we share here two posters as an answer to statist propaganda and electoralist brainwashing.

The fact that we don’t vote is the logical result of our revolutionary project.

It’s delusional to think that our emancipation will come from parliament. We’ll only be able to realize anarchist communism (only economical and political system that insures our individual and collective emancipation) by organising our struggles in a horizontal, egalitarian fashion… and far away from political parties.

For us, « leftist » parties place social movement’s and well intentioned activists’ energy in an electoralist dead end that offers only disappointment, treason, instrumentalisation, manipulation, lies, illusions, etc. While the electoral machine of the « leftist » parties are being built, minds and thoughts of social movement activist are pushed toward statist alienation and electoral wait-and-see attitude. If there is no capitalism with a human face and if the state is the wheel of our exploitation, then we’ll have to abolish both to be free.

In the end, we stay convinced that we have nothing to expect from the state, it doesn’t matter who’s in power. Both « right » and « left » parties reproduce and support state and capitalism that lean on oppressions and systematic exploitation. Elections contribute to the alienation of our lives.

Download the posters by clicking the links below

Elections everywhere – Text

Elections everywhere – plain poster

Tags: quebecanti-electoralismelectionscategory: International
Categories: News

Why Childbirth and Abortion Are Not Separate Issues

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:40

Abortion could soon be a crime. That’s not hyperbole, but a legitimate concern among advocates grappling with the possible appointment of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Public support for Kavanaugh is the lowest for a court nominee since 1987, according to a CNN poll. But even if he fails to be confirmed, a long line of other conservative judges are waiting to join the bench and overturn Roe v. Wade.

And by overturn, I mean begin the systematic dismantling of dire medical care for millions of women and gender-variant folks, resulting in more violence against them that is both direct, such as anti-abortion terrorism, and indirect, such as restriction to access and further criminalization of poverty.

But another experience of reproductive health has been missing from public debate. Like abortion, it also affects women of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities; their health, relationships, and self-identity. Like abortion, it can be hugely relieving or deeply traumatizing. Like abortion, it’s an issue of reproductive rights. It’s pregnancy and childbirth, and it’s been left out of the conversation for far too long.

A government that allows employers to deny contraception and abortion coverage while exempting so-called pregnancy centers from providing accurate medical information is essentially trying to control and coerce most reproductive women, those who want children and those who don’t. Whether we’re seeking contraceptives, pregnancy termination, or pregnancy care, our decisions are judged and our bodies treated as property of the patriarchy. Pregnancy and childbirth may seem more ideologically embraced than abortion, especially among conservatives and anti-choice activists, but data indicates otherwise.

Every year, 3.9 million women give birth in the United States. And every year, 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, the highest rate of maternal mortality among wealthy nations. In comparison, US women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women and six times as likely as Scandinavian women to die in the maternal period. Of the women who survive, about 65,000 barely do. For African American women, the mortality rate is even higher.

The risk of dying from childbirth or related complications is about 14 times higher than dying from legal abortion, according to a report published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. That’s not because childbirth is inherently fatal; after all, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control suggests that as many as 60 percent of those aforementioned deaths are preventable.

It’s because women’s health has been maligned and subjugated for a very long time and science and technology have done little to understand and competently care for female bodies.

My story in the reproductive rights conversation is a mixed narrative of empowerment and victimization. In other words, it’s pretty common.

At 25, I had an abortion. Despite identifying as a proud feminist, I felt ashamed about “letting myself get pregnant” — and then doubly ashamed about feeling ashamed, for experiencing ostensibly unliberated emotions such as self-doubt and fear. Misogyny is partly to blame for this reaction. But the women’s movement is also partly to blame, for perpetuating the myth that women are morally superior to men, and therefore are obligated to try to dispel misogyny and prove our intrinsic value by accomplishing everything, everywhere, all the time while looking good and acting cheery. No complaining or protesting, lest we seem ungrateful for the opportunity to work ourselves to death.

I’m now expecting my second child. Since having my first, I’ve seen more clearly how women are harmed by this internalized belief that our health should be invisible because our bodies are repulsive to society.

YES! Media, my nonprofit employer, offers me six weeks of paid maternity leave, and if I piece together the sick and vacation hours I’ve been banking all year long, I’ll get just over three months off to bond with my infant, establish breastfeeding, and (partially) recover from childbirth. I hear all the time that I should be grateful for that, that it’s something, that my three months is better than the two weeks taken by 1 out of 4 employed mothers. But medical research suggests that a minimum of six months is necessary for healing and adjustment. Sure, some tech companies offer that to stay competitive, but the United States still remains the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents.

American women need to stop being told their resentment is unjustified, that their criticism of poor, even risky health care is a failure in gratitude. Furthermore, we should stop telling ourselves that. It’s not women who should be silenced. It’s the systems — economic, political, and social — that need to stop silencing women and start looking at solutions to these problems. We all can’t go work at Netflix.

Because I’ve been banking my sick and vacation hours to total at least three months of paid leave, I’ve had to work longer days to compensate for the missing hours in productivity from weekly prenatal appointments (and post-baby couple’s counseling) plus travel. I have done this not just because I need the income during those three months to support my family — in 40 percent of all families with children, the mother is the sole or primary breadwinner — but because taking off more than that puts me at risk of losing my insurance benefits and my job protections.

The challenges of abortion and pregnancy are profoundly similar, although the circumstances might look different: Many women struggle to coordinate child care, shift coverage, or travel to obtain abortions, but they also struggle to find similar resources to attend pre- and postnatal visits and recover after childbirth.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted in 1978, five years after Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court. Culturally, some changes have occurred, but women are still infantilized by the law and by society. Every time our baby bumps are caressed without consent and every time our decision to terminate a pregnancy is challenged legally or philosophically, the message essentially is, Your body is not your own.

I’m not arguing that abortion rights should be discussed exclusively in the context of pregnancy and birth. But that shift would more clearly, more powerfully serve most women: those needing access to terminate pregnancy and those needing care during and after pregnancy. Both deserve as much public understanding and support as possible.

The post Why Childbirth and Abortion Are Not Separate Issues appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Weaponizing Space Means Opening the Heavens to War

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:24
Janine Jackson interviewed Karl Grossman about the the weaponization of space for the August 24, 2018, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

Janine Jackson: While the internet treated it largely as a kind of painful joke, corporate news media reported the Trump White House’s plans to establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the US military as almost an inevitability: A Los Angeles Times story slips from saying the force “would be” responsible for training military personnel to saying the space command “will centralize planning for space war-fighting.” The pushback reported is from those concerned about “bureaucracy,” or changes in the “roles and budgets” of existing military branches. There are details to be worked out — even such “basic” ones, says a Washington Post front-pager, as “what uniforms” the space force would use. But coverage presents potential opposition to the plan, from congressmembers, for example, more as a “hurdle” than a cause for deeper investigation.

Karl Grossman is a preeminent resource on the weaponization of space. He’s professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and author of the books Weapons in Space and The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet, among others. He’s also a longtime associate of FAIR, the media watch group that brings you this show. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Karl Grossman.

Karl Grossman: A pleasure to be with you, Janine.

We can ask how media can report the statement, from the bipartisan leaders of the Armed Services Committee Panel on Strategic Forces, that “beefing up” military capabilities in space “will result in a safer, stronger America,” with no thought to whether terrestrial war-making has made America safer or stronger, but we know that elite media takes place in this sort of la-la land where those presumptions are premises.

But I want to ask you about the more specific claim being made, and simply recited in the press, about the nature of this plan: USA Today says it “would develop forces to defend satellites from attack and perform other space-related tasks.” It says the Pentagon’s plan “identifies” — doesn’t allege, but identifies — Russia and China as “explicitly pursuing space war-fighting capabilities to neutralize US space capabilities in a time of conflict.” What are we to make, Karl Grossman, of the idea that creating a space force is a defensive measure?

What we would be doing is opening the heavens to war, making space a war zone, and that flies in the face of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which sets space aside for peaceful purposes, and precludes the deployment in space, by any nation, of weapons of mass destruction. And there’s been efforts — I’ve covered them for years now; mainstream media has not covered these efforts — to broaden the Outer Space Treaty to preclude not just weapons of mass destruction, but any weaponry in space, and in that way ensure that it would be space for peace.

And the two countries that have been leaders in this effort have been Russia and China. In fact, I have here a piece from Chinese media, this was just a couple of weeks ago, “China Envoy Calls for Strengthening Outer Space Covenants and Cooperation.” What Russia and China — and let me mention, too, our neighbor Canada — have been promoting, pushing, has been a treaty titled Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, the PAROS treaty.

And I’ve been actually to the United Nations for votes on the PAROS treaty. And one country after another country votes for it — again, with Russia, China and our neighbor Canada in the lead. And the one nation, in all the countries of the world, voting against the PAROS treaty? The United States. And because there’s a consensus process for a disarmament treaty, the PAROS treaty has gotten nowhere. So what we’d be doing by creating this Space Force, and seeking, as Trump put it, “American dominance” in space, is just really asking for Russia and China and other countries — there will be India and Pakistan, the list will go on — to go up into space and weaponize space.

So it’s really turned on its head; it’s being presented, in the words, largely, of Mike Pence and other officials, that it’s “our adversaries,” as it’s put, that have already transformed space into a war-fighting domain — those are their words — and so, therefore, the US has to get up there to respond.

I must say, China did a real stupid thing in the year 2007. It used one of its missiles to destroy an obsolete Chinese satellite. And the next year, we did the same thing to one of our satellites, with a missile. And this is being used by the US as an example of China being keen on anti-satellite weaponry. In fact, what is was was a very dumb way to eliminate a satellite, because you’re left with all kind of debris — dumb on the Chinese part, and dumb for the United States to do the same thing the year after.

But up to now, China and Russia — and I’ve spoken to officials of both countries, and I’ve been to both countries; I’ve been on the story for a long time — and they’re very, very reluctant to violate the intent of the Outer Space Treaty. Also, and they’ve gone on and on with me about this, they don’t want to waste their national treasuries; they don’t want to expend — I mean, to put weaponry up in space is an expensive proposition; it isn’t like acquiring a tank or even a jet fighter; billions and billions of dollars would be the cost — and they’ve told me that they just don’t want to waste their money on placing weapons in space. However, if the US moves up into space with weapons, with this mission to dominate the Earth below from space, despite the cost, they’ll be up there.

I’ve read a lot about satellites, Karl, but a word that I haven’t seen much of in this current round of coverage is nuclear. But that’s got to be in the story, right?

Absolutely. In moving up into space, with the Space Force, no doubt the United States will be placing nuclear power systems in space. That was the architecture of Reagan’s Star Wars, orbiting battle platforms with nuclear reactors on them providing the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons; as Star Wars head general James Abrahamson said, without reactors in orbit, there would need to be a long, long extension cord that goes down to the surface of the Earth, bringing up power. Consider the consequences of a shooting war: Battle platforms are hit, and radioactivity from these nuclear reactors rains down on Earth.

You really are not getting the picture of, not just things going wrong, but things going as they might be anticipated to go, being, really, a horrific calamity for human beings. It’s a very tidy image that we’re getting about what war in space would be like.

This lethal threat would be above our heads. I did a documentary a number of years ago, entitled, advisedly, Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens. And nukes and weapons in space, they go together.

And I wanted to ask you about that question of priorities, finally. The Washington Post had an article headlined “Potential Winners if a Space Force Flies,” which delivered the no doubt shocking news that “a group of government contractors sees a chance to profit.” Hold onto your hat! An analyst tells the Post, “Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Harris Corporation may be particularly well positioned to benefit from Trump’s Space Force.” I found it odd to present military contractors as sort of savvily responding to policy, as opposed to driving it, but then, to your point, there was vanishingly little reference in media coverage to who would not benefit from this allocation of funds, to what would be lost, to what would be harmed, and so I wanted to underscore that point that you made, just to say, media didn’t talk about it either.

And then, finally, what do you see as the role for the public in this, where can people focus in terms of speaking out on this issue?

Just a quick mention of a very important piece, in regards to mainstream media, I was so happy to see it, in the Los Angeles Times, this is just a couple of days ago, the headline, “Trump Backed ‘Space Force’” — in quotes — “After Months of Lobbying by Officials With Ties to the Aerospace Industry.” And listeners can Google that; it’s very, very detailed, talks about:

a small group of current and former government officials, some with deep financial ties to the aerospace industry, who see creation of the sixth military service as a surefire way to hike Pentagon spending on satellite and other space systems.

So on this issue, we can at this point, there’s been enough documentation, to include the “follow the money” precept.

As to what people can do, we have to rise from the grassroots. An excellent organization, that I would recommend that people connect with, is the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Its website is Space4Peace.org, and among other things, the Global Network will be doing, October 6–13 this year, they’re going to — all over the world, this is going to be happening — protests and other actions in a Space for Peace week. So from the grassroots, people — certainly in this country, and all over the world — need to stand up and to stop this madness, to keep space for peace.

We’ve been speaking with Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. You can find his recent article, “Turning Space Into a War Zone,” on CounterPunch. Karl Grossman, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

A pleasure, Janine.

The post Weaponizing Space Means Opening the Heavens to War appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

The 4 Levels of Disasters (And How to Prepare for Each One)

The Organic Prepper - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:15
by Daisy Luther

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes, and so do your preps. There are four different levels of disasters, from personal emergencies to a full-on SHTF end-of-the-world … Read the rest

The post The 4 Levels of Disasters (And How to Prepare for Each One) appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Categories: News

Back to School and Straight to the Picket Line

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:04

Teachers in six school districts in southern Washington state were on strike in late August and early September to demand wage increases needed to bring their pay up to the level of other educators nationally.

Predictably, school officials are claiming that giving teachers a raise would force them to cut important programs for students.

But this stock response is particularly absurd because a recent Washington Supreme Court ruling in the McCleary case — which was the result of the state’s failure to live up to its obligation to provide quality public schools under the state’s constitution — has triggered extra funding in the state budget, including $2 billion specifically earmarked for teachers’ salaries.

Instead of agreeing to the wage increases, however, district administrators have been hoarding the cash, which sits in a bank account accruing interest.

In addition to shining a light on this hoarded gold, the strike has also exposed the fact that superintendents in Clark County make a stunning amount of money. Nearly all get six figures every year — the Vancouver school district superintendent makes more than $300,000.

Many children joined their teachers and parents on the picket line. Among parents unable to attend, many were able to continue childcare arrangements that they had made for the summer.

For those in need of care, part-time staff at many of the schools offered childcare services to the community. “Which is amazing,” one teacher explained. “Because they aren’t getting paid at all during this time.”

As has been the case in other teachers’ strikes this year, community members in southern Washington banded together to ensure that students who rely on school for meals are still being served. Teachers partnered with food pantries to arrange donations and set up numerous locations for families to pick up food during the strike.

The striking districts in Clark County are Vancouver, Evergreen, Battle Ground, Washougal, Ridgefield and Hockinson. While the districts’ teachers send videos of support to each other, they are bargaining independently of each other. (To keep track of all the potential, upcoming and concluded strikes in Washington state, here’s a handy summary.)

Union bargaining teams in these districts have reported negotiating sessions that last 14 to 20 hours. Districts have sent representatives to the table with no bargaining power and have been releasing intentionally misleading information about their offers.

***

In addition to stalling negotiations, the districts have attempted to intimidate striking teachers and pit parents against the teachers.

Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) District Superintendent Steve Webb announced in an August 28 statement that if the strike continued past September 17, the district would have “no choice” but to suspend teachers’ health benefits.

The previous day, VPS filed an injunction ordering teachers back to work, claiming that a strike would cause children to suffer “irreparable or substantial harm.” The Evergreen school district used a similar tactic in 2016, successfully convincing a judge to issue a temporary restraining order requiring teachers to stay on the job.

This time, when word of VPS’s injunction spread on social media, a meeting place was arranged for parents to sign a declaration in opposition to this ludicrous claim. Nearly a thousand parents mobilized to sign the declaration, which only needed 20 signatures.

According to teachers in Evergreen and Vancouver, community support has been overwhelming. Secretaries, custodians, paraprofessionals, parents and even the staff at the local Boys and Girls Club have joined the teachers on the picket line, donated snacks and provided other forms of solidarity large and small.

But it doesn’t stop there. Also on the picket line were students, alumni and parents; plus delegations from Jobs With Justice; unionized nurses and steelworkers; the Vancouver Firefighters Union; International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 4, Service Employees International Union Local 49, Letter Carriers Vancouver Branch 1104 and Joint Council of Teamster 37.

Community members came from all over southern Washington, as well as from Portland, Oregon, just across the Columbia River from Vancouver.

UPS drivers are refusing to deliver packages to any of the schools while teachers are out on strike. Restaurants such as Seize the Bagel, Revive Espresso & Tea, Relevant Coffee, Albina Press, Twilight Pizza, Hula Boy Charbroil, Jimmy John’s, Ice Cream Renaissance, Starbucks and more donated food and/or coffee to strikers. Cascadia Construction donated Portajohns, and Fourth Plain Church of the Nazarene lets picketers use their bathroom.

Monica Stonier, a state representative in 49th district and the vice chair of the House Education Committee, has also been an educator in the district for 18 years. Before attending a rally at her school site, Stonier explained, “[I] dropped my own kids off at the picket line at their school and told them their assignment today is to say thank you to teachers.”

***

After a week of striking, a sea of teachers descended on the main road in front of the Evergreen District office on August 31, as more than 2,000 red-shirted teachers and their allies rallied in a show of strength and solidarity with the Evergreen Education Association.

Picture the following: a picket sign that read “This would never fly at Hogwarts”; dogs in red bandanas; and a marching band made up of music teachers playing jams like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and the foreboding music that accompanies the Death Star. For two hours, the celebratory protest filled six blocks, growing in size as teachers marched from their schools or arrived in cars.

Amy Hubbard is a parent of three children who have all attended public schools in the Evergreen school district. She had been out on the picket line to support teachers as much as possible over the past week.

“Teachers are being bullied by the districts,” she explained. “They are acting like they are running out of money but there is plenty of money.” Hubbard believes that most parents are very supportive of the strike. “Parents who don’t support the strike just don’t get it,” she said.

Around 1 p.m., the crowd marched into the parking lot of the Evergreen district office, chanting “Fair contract!” Principals, the district superintendent, secretaries and other staff all came out of their offices to watch the action, and negotiators thanked the picketers for providing inspiration as they entered into another long day of deliberations.

Leaders of the action ended with a rally near the entrance to the Evergreen district offices, telling members to “go rest their feet” and prepare for Labor Day weekend.

Bargaining continued through the weekend in the various districts. The Vancouver Education Association and Camas Education Association, which was preparing to strike today, reached tentative agreements with their districts on Sunday. Vancouver teachers are set to vote on an agreement today.

***

No matter how long the various strikes go on, experienced organizers are seeing a positive impact and looking forward to future collaborative work with educators across the state in the tireless work of demanding the best for themselves and their students.

Marj Hogan, a member and organizer with Evergreen Education Association, discussed the hopes of the teachers and the radical possibilities for a more empowered union membership:

There are a lot of factors that will influence what “possible” means for us, among them our regionalization factor, the current contract, and of course the will of our membership as a strike lengthens. After a large action on Friday, members are feeling a lot of power…

For me as an organizer, the most valuable aspect of our current situation is the way it is empowering leadership at all levels of union engagement. In a different year, if fewer locals were facing a strike, we would have WEA staffing to manage our strike coordination. In this case, WEA help has been slow to arrive, and for that reason all of our zone leads, my position as strike coordinator, and our communications lead are from our membership, not WEA staff, although WEA staff have arrived and are now advising us.

In this model, the leadership we are growing now is something that we can carry into the school year…[H]aving experienced what active participation feels like, many of those leaders will be ready to think about what our responsibilities and capacities are as a local, beyond contract negotiations: What is our responsibility to our students’ families? To the struggle for fair housing and living wages in our communities? To racial and social justice in our schools?

I believe we will have the opportunity to tackle these questions together among membership, rather than relegating them to a social justice or community engagement committee, and I am excited about that.

The empowering effect of this strike is being felt by first-year and veteran teachers alike. Jennifer Voeller, a third-grade teacher at Illahee Elementary, is entering her 16th year as an educator. She had never been involved with a strike before, but when the opportunity arose to participate, Voeller said she “went for it” and volunteered to be picket captain.

Voeller recognizes that it is essential to demand fair pay, especially in fields dominated by women. “The nurses are about to do the same,” she said. “We feel this is a women’s issue. Women are not paid fairly, and with the high percentage of women being teachers and nurses, it seems obvious.”

Tondalea Downer spent her first day as a teacher on the picket line. Downer had recently transitioned from being a paraprofessional in schools to teaching. She made the switch in order to gain upward mobility and is hopeful that the strike will increase her pay as a first-year teacher.

“People want to be working,” Downer said, echoing the sentiment of all of the teachers on the picket line. “We want to be with the kids, but unfortunately, there’s no conversation,” she said of the districts’ early attempts to avoid realistic negotiations.

The post Back to School and Straight to the Picket Line appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Our who, what, why leak explainer

Global Muckracker - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 13:46

Whistleblowers, like Deep Throat, Daniel Ellsberg, Karen Silkwood, Mordechai Vanunu, Linda Tripp, Jeffrey Wigand, Edward Snowden, Bradley — now Chelsea — Manning and John Doe, come from all walks of life, and stigma and myth tend to surround them.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has lots of experience with information leaks. In the past five years alone, we’ve sifted through about 30 million leaked documents to produce groundbreaking investigations like the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Swiss Leaks and Lux Leaks.

The common denominator? Whistleblowers providing information, secretly, in an attempt to expose hidden wrongs.

Famously, whistleblowers have toppled President Richard Nixon, effectively ended the Vietnam War, exposed an Oval Office tryst, revealed nuclear secrets, uncovered environmental and health catastrophes and focused global attention on offshore tax havens.

Related articles

ICIJ is often approached by concerned citizens who believe they’ve found an injustice that they’d like us to investigate,  but few know the first thing about becoming a whistleblower or how to provide information to journalists.

So we thought a basic guide to leaking might prove useful, one laid out using an old journalistic tool: the five W’s and a H (loosely interpreted!)

Who?

You! Anyone can be a whistleblower. If you’ve seen something wrong and you want to do something about it, then sharing information (especially information that might otherwise remain secret, hidden or unknown) with a journalist could help uncover the injustice and force society to take action.

What?

Documents and data. We can sometimes turn a small tip into a big story through hard work and public documents, but there are many stories that can only be told with help from an insider, someone who has hard evidence of injustice or wrongdoing. That’s where brave whistleblowers can help with documents and data that otherwise might be kept hidden away. It doesn’t need to be a hard drive with millions of files or a database of facts and figures. Sometimes just a single, damning document can be enough.

Where?

Choose where you want to leak your information very carefully. Seek an outlet or journalist who is likely to be interested in the story. If it’s a local issue, try a local news outlet. If it’s a financial issue, look for a journalist with experience investigating financial wrongdoing. If it’s a global issue, look for an organization renowned for global investigations, like ICIJ (we couldn’t go through this whole post without plugging our work at least once!).

Whistleblowers often take great risks to provide data to journalists. Look for an outlet that will treat the leak (and the leaker) with respect. ICIJ takes source protection seriously and can work with you to keep your identity secret when necessary.

When?

Now (so long as you’re ready). It’s important to be prepared. Have documents and data ready, if possible, and have a plan around what might happen next, once the information has been leaked.

Some stories might happen quickly — within hours of passing the information to a journalist. Others might take months or even years of further research to complete an investigation. If in doubt, ask a reporter about the timeline.

Why?

Expose injustice. There can be any number of individual reasons that might motivate a whistleblower, but ultimately it’s the wrongdoing or unfairness or injustice of a situation that will provide both the impetus to leak and the reason for a journalist to investigate.

How?

Safely and efficiently. There are lots of options for contacting journalists, from making a phone call to anonymously providing encrypted information over obscure networks. Assess the risk first (how sensitive is this information, what are the consequences of leaking it), then choose a method that’s both appropriate and comfortable.

Email and phone calls are easy, but also can be easily traceable. Consider using a different phone to normal, or creating a new email address on a different computer if you’re worried about your communication being tracked.

Encryption for digital files and communication is wonderful, but only if it’s done correctly. Instead, consider using apps like Signal and Peerio which include built-in encryption. Or perhaps posting the hard copy material in the mail might be easier.

There are a number of ways you can get in touch with ICIJ, including via email, Signal, Peerio and, for anonymous and secure communication, SecureDrop.

If you’d like to know more, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

To speak with one of our reporters, you can use one of the contact methods here or send us an email:

The post Our who, what, why leak explainer appeared first on ICIJ.

Categories: News

The Prison Strike Is a Disability Rights Issue

Truth Out - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 13:37

This week, as what may be the largest prison strike in US history continues to unfold, disability rights groups have a historic opportunity to act in solidarity with striking imprisoned people and articulate the deep overlaps in our communities and in our struggles.

Some disability justice collectives and organizations have already amplified this historic rebellion to highlight the ableism, sanism and audism that are deeply rooted throughout the entire criminal legal system. However, disability rights and deaf rights organizations must do far more to effectively practice disability solidarity with the strike and help people understand the nexus between racism, classism, ableism and incarceration.

After centuries of disabled people being forced into all manner of institutions — asylums, nursing homes, poor houses, jails, prisons, etc. — disability communities are acutely aware of how institutions often serve as breeding grounds for human and civil rights violations with very little, if any, visibility, accountability, or public scrutiny and outcry. Yet still, there is a palpable lack of ire from disability rights communities (not to be confused with disability justice communities, which refuse to rely upon the legal system for liberatory purposes) toward carceral-based institutions that steal disabled people in the name of “justice.”

Disabled people continue to be preeminent targets for state surveillance, violence and deprivation of rights and freedom. It should come as no surprise then, that despite comprising just 25 percent of the U.S. population, disabled people represent about 85 percent of those youth found in kid prisons, and anywhere between 40-80 percent of the adult prison population — with no one actually having an accurate accounting of disability in our adult carceral system. As is true in every kind of institution, disabled people in our nation’s prisons are prime targets for violence, exploitation, isolation and other injustices.

As community builders who live, organize and advocate at the intersection of disability and numerous other marginalities, on the occasion of this historic prison strike, we call on disability communities to work in solidarity with imprisoned people, and we call upon those engaged in decarceration and abolition work to remember to name and address disability amidst the ongoing struggle against systems of oppression.

The current prison uprising began on August 21, when thousands of imprisoned people in at least 17 states initiated a strike in response to an uprising at Lee Correctional Institution, South Carolina’s largest maximum security prison. Over the course of seven hours, prison officials and medical personnel refused to intervene as violence erupted. August 21 strike organizers at Jailhouse Lawyers Speak lamented this tragic day and condemned the prison conditions and profiteering that led to the uprising, stating:

Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.

This historic strike is scheduled to continue until September 9, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica uprising. There is still time for acts of disability solidarity.

How Disability Issues Relate to the 10 Prison Strike Demands

Most people are unaware of the unremitting disability-based injustices found within our legal and penal systems. This disability consciousness gap is likely due to the fact that the majority of society has come to understand disability through a lens of whiteness, wealth and other privileges that actively excludes the experiences of nonwhite, low-income people — namely people that have experienced or witnessed violence; those who come from or reside in communities that have endured generational trauma; and those who live in financial precarity.

Here are the 10 prison strike demands and just some of the ways in which each demand implicates disability:

1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.

Disabled people are the largest “minority” population in jails and prisons in large part because they are disproportionately represented in incidents of police use of force, arrests and convictions. In addition, current conditions of confinement in jails and prisons create and exacerbate disability, especially because incarcerated people experience extreme abuse, medical neglect and isolation in our prisons.

Those who come in without disabilities are likely to experience disabilities while incarcerated that often last long after their release. Incarcerated people are often malnourished or ill because they are provided unhealthy and unsanitary food and forced to drink contaminated water or expired drinks. This often leads to imprisoned people resorting to eating unhealthy, sugar- and sodium-saturated foods sold at a premium in prison commissaries. Similar to low-income neighborhoods, prisons are often built on toxic or environmentally unsafe land, having outdated water and sewage systems, both of which lead to various health conditions. Sufficient meals for those with dietary restrictions are difficult to come by, if and where they are available.

Solitary confinement is used to punish or “protect” imprisoned people, including disabled people and those who have suicidal ideations (often activated by conditions of confinement). Solitary confinement beyond two weeks is considered torture by the United Nations but on any given day, here in the US we have 80,000-100,000 being held in solitary confinement — some for months, years or decades, even. In some cases, prison officials have encouraged imprisoned people to commit suicide. Exercise is routinely prevented, as when held in solitary confinement, and access to fresh air and natural light is restricted. Overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions lead to the rapid spread of communicable and infectious diseases.

On top of all this, health care contracts are granted to corporations whose bottom line is profit, not quality, such that only the bare minimum is provided. Imprisoned people are therefore often forced to seek counsel and sue just to receive life-saving medical attention. Inhumane prison conditions are not unlike those conditions survived by disabled people who have been warehoused in other kinds of institutions, where, for example, psychiatric institutions would lock “patients” in cages.

Similarities between prisons and other institutions are not a coincidence. Victories in the struggle against the violent and unhealthy conditions of jails and prisons will save disabled people’s lives.

2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.

Capitalism demands that our value as people be determined in part by our capacity to produce. The goal of capitalism is to maximize profit, which has always relied on the unpaid labor and exploitation of bodies — specifically, Black/Indigenous bodies. The ableist structure of the labor system allows people labeled as disabled to be paid subminimum wages or excludes them from employment opportunities altogether, while simultaneously disabling others through forced labor in harsh conditions for so little pay that they cannot care for themselves or their loved ones. These practices continue to serve as mechanisms of mass exploitation of disabled and negatively racialized people, shape-shifting over time to trap the most exploitable marginalized groups of each era — from enslavement, to convict leasing and prison labor, to migrant labor or sheltered workshops where disabled people are legally paid nothing or pennies on the hour.

3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.

The PLRA infringes upon the civil rights of incarcerated people by, among other things, requiring exhaustion of the grievance process available within the prison prior to bringing a federal lawsuit. This requirement also applies to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jails and prisons have purposefully designed their grievance processes to be matrices of confusion, rendering them largely inaccessible by design. All tiers of grievance processes must be completed in written English, making them nearly impossible for those who do not know or who cannot read or write English for any reason.

Disabled and deaf imprisoned people often need to receive accommodations in their jail or prison under long-standing federal disability rights laws, but they can rarely get through grievance processes — rendering it literally impossible to utilize laws that were specifically established to guard against disability-based discrimination found in every jail and prison across the nation. Jails and prisons are known for not explaining the grievance process to disabled people, claiming to not have necessary grievance forms, and discarding completed grievances. Imprisoned people often cannot afford to send forms to the necessary offices. All of this only further hamstrings imprisoned people from gaining access to legal remedies. In addition, the PLRA requires a showing of “physical injury,” which allows psychological, emotional and sexual violence in prisons to continue unabated. It has taken some deaf and disabled people years just to exhaust the administrative remedy process with the support of attorneys. Retribution from prison officials and staff for filing grievances is common, adding to the harm of the lengthy and more often than not completely inaccessible process.

Rescinding the PLRA would greatly benefit disabled people.

4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.

The front end of the criminal legal system consistently fails to provide reasonable accommodations and modifications when interacting and working with deaf and disabled people. That is to say, that law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, diversion agencies and the courts create a system whereby disability is criminalized and disabled people are punished. Sentences for disabled people are therefore disproportionately longer because of systemic ableism. Additionally, the longer a person stays in prison, the more likely they are to develop disabilities. Studies point to exponential increases in the prison aging population. Sentences to death in prison (also called, “life without parole”) are inhumane and must be fought regardless of age, but in the meantime we can also fight for age and disability to be taken into consideration determining eligibility for release, especially when evidence proves that prisons will not provide adequate care and accommodations for disabled and elder incarcerated populations.

5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and Brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in Southern states.

Disability-, race- and class-based oppressions are now and always have been inextricably linked. Notably, disabled people are disproportionately represented within every marginalized community that exists. This is especially true in communities beset by poverty, violence and deprivation of other vital and life-enhancing and sustaining resources (food, water, health and mental healthcare, education, living wages, etc.). An end to race- and class-based inequities within carceral systems would greatly benefit disabled people.

6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and Brown humans.

As argued in relation to the fifth demand above, any decrease in or end to race- and class-based inequities within carceral systems will disproportionately benefit disabled people.

7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.

Prior to contact with carceral systems, many people have tried and failed to access addiction and mental health supports, for example. Due to the lack of access to services and supports, and adequate legal counsel for people with various disabilities — especially those who also are negatively racialized and have no income or a low income — disabled people are disproportionately among those labeled as “violent offenders.”

Relatedly, in prisons across the nation, deaf, blind and other disabled people are punished for not responding to auditory commands or following rules that were never conveyed to them in an accessible manner. Disabled people often experience mental and emotional crises from communication deprivation and other abuse. Additionally, disabled people in jails and prisons are punished for behaviors that are obvious symptoms of their disabilities. Thus, jails and prisons often have disciplinary records that label disabled people as “violent,” which merely reflect the state’s illegal disability discrimination. These records allow jails and prisons to continue to discriminate against disabled people by locking them in solitary confinement, and further preventing access to programming — even when programming is mandatory for release. All of this leads to disabled people spending more time in prison than their abled counterparts.

8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.

Disability, trauma, violence and poverty are all causes and consequences of each other. Restorative and transformative practices should be implemented to support the needs of the people that have been harmed, such as the 85 percent of incarcerated women that have experienced sexual violence. The lack of these community-centered-and-led rehabilitative programs within prisons actually perpetuates the need to build more prisons. For people returning to our communities it becomes exponentially more difficult to assimilate into a society without the proper tools to cope with the acquired trauma from imprisonment. Incarceration without rehabilitation results in re-incarceration.

9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.

Intelligence is a manufactured, racist-ableist concept intended to reinforce fictitious ideologies around Black and Indigenous inferiority. Its measurement is an ever-shifting standard measured from whiteness that actively excludes marginalized communities from accessing information via law, physical violence, geographical placement and incarceration. A particular kind of formalized education is almost requisite for access to even the most basic opportunities in the United States.

Denying access to education while incarcerated or not allowing for financial aid upon release is an evolution of anti-literacy laws, which denied enslaved African peoples the right to read and write. A similar arrangement transpires throughout auxiliary components of the prison system, specifically special education programs in low-income communities. Students are often denied education or provided with lower-quality education based on the label of disability and are thus denied a fundamental human right. Students labeled as disabled have the highest dropout rates, are punished the most, and are funneled into the prison system at rates higher than any other marginalized group. Once imprisoned, disabled and deaf people who already were deprived of education in traditional school settings often attempt to enter prison educational programing just to be told that their scores are too low for them to enter prison educational programs. This only perpetuates social inequity.

To the detriment of disabled people, education and prison systems alike are deciding who is worthy of an education. Learning is central to the processes of growth and rehabilitation. Rather than implementing programs to encourage education, prison systems have focused on banning books deemed “too dangerous” or only allowing books from selected companies inside of prisons.

Accessible and high-quality education access, funding and programming in prisons would greatly benefit disabled people.

10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

Disenfranchisement of disabled people and people with criminal convictions has always been tied together — in both law and social practice. For the state, deprivation of the vote for disabled, imprisoned and formerly imprisoned people is the ultimate checkmate. The devastating impact of incarceration is most prevalent in the same communities that experience the most pervasive voter suppression, including felon disenfranchisement, voter purging, strict ID requirements, closing down of polling places with little or no notice and prison gerrymandering. Voter suppression tactics have always disproportionately targeted disabled people; whether through guardianship laws, inaccessible polling locations and equipment, or institutionalization. The voting bloc of currently incarcerated and other institutionalized people (and reentrants) could radically transform the landscape of our society for the better. More importantly, incarceration status should not affect the right to have a say in the matters directly impacting them.

Restoration of voting rights for incarcerated, detained and formerly incarcerated people increases the disabled voting bloc as well.

The Time for Solidarity Is Now

Mass incarceration is a disability rights issue.

The failure of disability communities to act in solidarity with racial, economic and prison justice communities harms all marginalized communities. Similarly, the failure of non-disability communities to name and address disability justice issues also harms all marginalized communities.

This massive undertaking in the name of human and civil rights is being led by incarcerated people spanning across every demographic (disability included), in solidarity with people on the outside. Many of the incarcerated people who are currently engaged in work stoppages, sit-ins, hunger strikes, canteen boycotts, and other forms of protest will face harsh retribution, including solitary confinement, deprivation of food, violence, denied visits and calls, the stripping of privileges and longer sentences. Those on the outside who act in solidarity risk a great deal less than our incarcerated comrades. Now is the time to practice disability solidarity. There are four days remaining. It’s time to assess what we each can do for justice’s sake.

Note: The authors of this piece will host an online conversation about disability, incarceration and the prison strike on Thursday at 8 pm Eastern Time. Extensive lists of ways to get involved, resources, information, updates, history, actions and more can be found online at Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and Sawari Mi.

The post The Prison Strike Is a Disability Rights Issue appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

What You Need to Know About Health Hazards After a Flood

The Organic Prepper - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:56

 

A flood is a disaster that just keeps coming back to haunt areas affected by it. As the waters recede, it doesn’t mean that the risk of illness is … Read the rest

The post What You Need to Know About Health Hazards After a Flood appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Categories: News

Trump, and the Mirage of Economic Prosperity

It's Goin Down - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 09:32

The post Trump, and the Mirage of Economic Prosperity appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following essay from Anathema argues that the success of “our” economy that we are told about over and over, from a variety of parasites, is nothing more a cycle of boom and bust that is designed to explode every few years, trapping us both in poverty and jobs that we hate.

Despite constant governmental controversies and the raging disaster that is the global capitalist system, in late August President Trump was able to announce record-setting economic success as the U.S.’s bull market became the longest running in its history. For those struggling to find work and stay afloat, it may be surprising to hear that the economy is doing better than ever and unemployment at an all-time low. How is that possible?

To start with, the stock market is not an accurate indication of how well the economy is actually doing. Even to many capitalist experts, the current valuations of the market seem like a serious stretch. But more importantly, to correctly assess current economic phenomena would require a historical perspective on capitalism and certain insights into its tendencies that no mainstream economist is willing to take on — hence professional analysts’ sometimes amazing inability to understand or predict economic trends.

A basic tendency of the capitalist system is that it needs to keep expanding in order for it to preserve itself. At this point in its history, global capitalism has been struggling for some time to find new markets and other ways to continue growing profits at the massive rate that is now necessary. Its growth has happened through increasingly constricting labor costs in a number of ways – through employers decreasing full-time jobs with benefits, automating more jobs, and employing temporary, part-time, or even unpaid labor, as in the notorious case of prison inmates. Some specific manifestations of this have been the rise of the gig economy, which, in promoting “flexible” working arrangements, cuts the costs and responsibilities that corporations would have if they maintained a permanent workforce; the adjunctification of labor in universities, in which professors are hired on a cheaper, temporary basis instead of the university maintaining tenure-track lines; and a major shift towards what’s called just-in-time production, which similarly involves a dramatic increase in temporary work, as employers adjust their workforce based on supply and demand.

“Meanwhile, news media is reporting unemployment in the U.S. is at 3.9%; it seems poised to hit 3.7%, the lowest it’s been since 1969. As we’ve written previously, this low number is actually the result of more and more people giving up on looking for work and no longer being officially counted in the “workforce.” This number has nothing to do with the total population of the U.S. and the significant actual changes in the nature of labor mentioned above. It is hopelessness and misery that are spreading, not the number of jobs.”

So the fact that Walmart is posting high earnings does not mean, as mainstream analysts are suggesting, that consumer power is up and the economy will keep doing great. It just means that Walmart is a corporate distributor using just-in-time supply chains to crush labor and reduce costs to the absolute minimum. Meanwhile, news media is reporting unemployment in the U.S. is at 3.9%; it seems poised to hit 3.7%, the lowest it’s been since 1969. As we’ve written previously, this low number is actually the result of more and more people giving up on looking for work and no longer being officially counted in the “workforce.” This number has nothing to do with the total population of the U.S. and the significant actual changes in the nature of labor mentioned above. It is hopelessness and misery that are spreading, not the number of jobs.

At what point will global growth actually peak, and another recession kick in? The U.S.’s current economic success is in part the result of the Trump administration’s massive tax cut, spending increases, and aggressive stance on trade, all of which have been calculated to grow the market for now without necessarily holding up well in the long term.

Moreover, trade tariffs and the looming reality of Brexit stand to lead to a loss of investment confidence and tank the markets; however, it seems very possible that the escalatory trade threats with China are just Trump politicking and that nothing will actually happen until after the midterm election. The real sign of a looming recession is wage inflation, meaning the rise in the price of goods that happens when wages increase.

It seems obvious, given the reality of employment conditions in this country, that there will not be any significant wage growth any time soon. Average hourly wages have risen only 2.7% in the past year, which is much lower than usual in a strong economy. What the current market’s success really indicates, then, is ongoing success by employers in keeping their workers underpaid and unstable, while pushing more and more people out of the job market altogether. While labor organizing and reforms may occasionally still have some successes, to reverse these trends and go back to better labor conditions under capitalism is structurally impossible for the capitalist system, which depends on increasingly minimizing labor costs.

The only way forward for this economy is for the obscenely rich to get richer through devastating the livelihoods of more and more of the world, crushing the ability or will of the latter to do more than survive, let alone rebel.

Categories: News

Final Straw: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson Speak on the #PrisonStrike

It's Goin Down - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 08:14

The post Final Straw: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson Speak on the #PrisonStrike appeared first on It's Going Down.

Long running anarchist radio and podcast show brings us their latest weekly episode, this time on the historic #PrisonStrike.

Listen and Download HERE

This week on the Final Straw, we’re featuring two main events, both themed around the Prison Strike ongoing across Turtle Island until at least September 9th.

First, an interview we conducted with Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. Rashid is a co-founder of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party and is the Minister of Defense from within it’s Prison Chapter. He is the author of two books available from Kersplebedeb, Defying the Tomb Panther Vision, both collections of Rashid’s art and essays on capitalism, racism, imperialism and his view of a road towards liberation. Rashid is a Maoist and presents some interesting arguments in his writings. In this interview, Rashid talks briefly about his own case, his politicization behind bars, organizing the NABPP-PC, it’s split from the New Black Panther Party, cross-racial class organizing, the #PrisonStrike and more. We hope to be able to bring more of Rashid’s voice in the future. To check out his writing and and his quite literally iconic art, check out rashidmod.com. And at the moment you can write to Rashid at the following address:

Kevin Johnson #1007485
Sussex 1 State Prison
24414 Musselwhite Dr.
Waverly, VA 23891

Next, we’ll hear an audio post-card that some friends put together, interspersing words of encouragement and audio from a noise demonstration outside Hyde prison in Eastern North Carolina on August 20th. Prisoners at Hyde CI met the outside supporters in the yard and from across lines of razor wire they unfurled three banners with simple statements: “parole”; “better food”; & “In Solidarity.” To read an article about the noise demo, see some pictures and hear about NC specific demands, check out the article, Community Shows Support as NC Prisoners Rally With Banners on ItsGoingDown. Make some noise!

To close out the hour, we will hear some words of encouragement to striking prisoners in #Amerikkka from comrades incarcerated in #Klanada!

Categories: News

Michigan: Banner Drop Against Line 5

It's Goin Down - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 07:57

The post Michigan: Banner Drop Against Line 5 appeared first on It's Going Down.

Following report and photo was originally published on the Earth First! Journal Newswire.

On September 3, eco-defenders in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan wanted to make sure the mass of drivers heading home from one of the most popular weekends ‘Up North’ were reminded of the continued struggle in the straits of Mackinac. Serving as a reminder of the messages shared by Anishnaabeg and environmental activists along the route of Enbridge’s Line 5 which continues to threaten the Great Lakes, the group dropped a banner alongside Michigan’s main south bound highway, which parallels the pipeline reading “No Line 5, No Compromise”. In defense of Mother Earth, in solidarity with Camp Anishnaabek.

—Lake Effect Earth First! (LEEF)

 

Categories: News

Philadelphia, PA: New Issue of Anathema

It's Goin Down - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 07:50

The post Philadelphia, PA: New Issue of Anathema appeared first on It's Going Down.

Long running anarchist publication from Philadelphia, Anathema returns with a new issue.

Volume 4 Issue 8 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

Volume 4 Issue 8 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

In this issue:

  • We All Live Downstream
  • The Fight Against Borders Continues
  • The Mirage of Economic Prosperity
  • What Went Down
  • Accident or Attack?
  • Companies Profiting from Putting People in Cages
  • Knock Down Drag Out Fascists in the Street
  • The False Idol of Self Sacrifice
  • 7 Theses on Selfies
  • A Test of Strength
Categories: News

Collective Opposition Thwarts Soldiers of Odin Attacks on Homeless Camp in Nanaimo

It's Goin Down - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 07:33

The post Collective Opposition Thwarts Soldiers of Odin Attacks on Homeless Camp in Nanaimo appeared first on It's Going Down.

Article from Anti-Fascist News about how people in so-called Canada are fighting the Soldiers of Odin.

Twice in a matter of weeks in August the white supremacist Soldiers of Odin (SOO) threatened to assault homeless people and take down Discontent City, the shared space at which they are living, in Nanaimo. A march of SOO the first weekend in August was opposed by a collective gathering of homeless people and allies effectively turning SOO away. A week later the SOO made a threat to forcibly tear down the tent city on August 19. Again a mass turnout of people showed up to oppose them but the fascists no-showed.

soldiers-of-odin.jpg

We must not misunderstand the neo-Nazi basis of the Soldiers of Odin. We should all be deeply concerned about the open, brash, mobilization of the white supremacists against poor people housing themselves at the Discontent City in Nanaimo, a major city in so-called BC. It says plenty about the anti-homeless group, Action Against the Discontent City (AADC) that they would unashamedly ally themselves with neo-fascists.

It is important to view the rise of neo-fascism and white supremacy in a context of growing poverty and homelessness. It speaks to the effects of austerity politics and poorbashing by politicians and public figures in promoting and installing those policies (including stigmatizing homeless people, as “undeserving,” as “others,” etc.). It is not surprising that the structural violence (inequality, poverty, colonialism) that contributes to homelessness would give rise to bare manifestations of neo-fascist, white supremacist violence.

Notably, in Surrey, BC, where I live and work, Soldiers of Odin unsuccessfully tried to recruit homeless people on 135A Street (the Strip) against refugees, who Soldiers of Odin wrongly blame for taking housing. Strip residents had none of it.

The community responses to defend Discontent City shows a positive way forward in times of crisis. Support and care rather than stigmatizing rage and scapegoating that further harm people who are already victimized by structural violence. Solidarity works against fascists as the situations in Nanaimo have shown. It remains necessary to be vigilant and prepared.

It is curious that AADC want to pose as respectable citizens compared to the unrespectable tent city residents, yet do so by collaborating with neo-fascists and white supremacists. People on the sidelines in Nanaimo and elsewhere need to ask: “Who would you want as a neighbour: poor people acting to build a supportive community or ‘good citizens’ who would ally themselves with neo-Nazis?”

Categories: News

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