News

The Hubris of American Exceptionalism Devalues the Rest of the World

Truth Out - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 04:00

The idea of American exceptionalism is a hubris that reeks of bigotry and is harmful to life in other nations. In this excerpt of David Swanson's new book, Curing Exceptionalism: What's Wrong With How We Think About the United States, he discusses the US's long history of devaluing life in other nations.

 Alex Milan Tracy / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)A Trump supporter carries an American flag as police monitor the scene during a "Make America Great Again" rally in Salem, Oregon, on March 25, 2017. (Photo: Alex Milan Tracy / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

No, the United States is not exceptional and David Swanson explains why in Curing Exceptionalism: What's Wrong With How We Think About the United States. Get the book now by donating to Truthout. Click here. 

US exceptionalism is a hubris that reeks of bigotry and is harmful to life in other nations, David Swanson argues in this excerpt from his book.

What we're dealing with is not just valuing the United States, but also devaluing the rest of the world -- and not just as observers, but as people who believe they have the right, if not the duty, to impose their will on the rest of the world. Exceptionalism is an attitude that tends to include arrogance, ignorance, and aggression, and these tend to do a great deal of damage.

In recent polling on possible future wars, a majority in the United States is willing to support an air attack, even a nuclear attack, on a foreign country, such as Iran or North Korea, that kills 100,000 civilians if it is an alternative to a ground attack that could kill 20,000 Americans. In fact, the US public has largely sat by for the past 17 years of wars in which the nations attacked have suffered tens and hundreds of times more deaths than the US military. Americans overwhelmingly tell pollsters that it is fine to kill non-Americans with US drones, but illegal to kill US citizens. Keith Payne, a drafter of the 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review, back in 1980, parroting Dr. Strangelove, defined success to allow up to 20 million dead Americans as the price for killing a much higher number of non-Americans. The US government has placed compensation for an Iraqi life at no more than $15,000, but the value of a US life at no less than $5 million.

When people ask how President Harry Truman could have used nuclear weapons that killed so many Japanese people unless he actually believed he was saving at least some significant number of US lives, they are assuming that Truman placed some positive value on the life of a Japanese person. Truman was the same man who had earlier remarked, "If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible." US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously remarked that the deaths of a half million Iraqi children was "worth it," without really being pressed to explain what the "it" was. During the war on Vietnam, the US military bragged on a weekly basis about how many people it killed. In recent wars, it has avoided mentioning that topic. But in neither case does it weigh the non-US lives taken against whatever the supposed good is that's being attempted, as it might do if it believed those lives had any value.

Truthout Progressive Pick  What's Wrong with How We Think about the United States? What Can We Do about It?

"American exceptionalism" is a myth.

Click here now to get the book!

This is where exceptionalism looks like a form of bigotry. One type of person is much more valuable. The other 96 percent of humanity is just not worth very much. If people in the United States valued all human lives equally, or even remotely close to equally, discussions of foreign aid funded by the US government would sound very different. The US government budget devotes less than 1 percent to foreign aid (including weapons "aid") but the US public on average believes that 31 percent of the budget goes to foreign aid. Reducing this mythical generosity is extremely popular with the US public. The US public usually sees itself as enormously generous to the rest of the world, but often believes its imagined generosity to be unappreciated. Several years into the war on Iraq that began in 2003, a plurality in the United States believed, not only that Iraqis should be grateful, but that Iraqis were in fact grateful for a war that had scholars using the term "sociocide" to describe its impact on Iraqi society.

US exceptionalism does not just devalue the individual lives of others. It also devalues the earth as a whole. US policy is generally not shaped by concern for its impact on the planet's environment. And the attitude of constant competition for the most growth on a finite planet is destructive and ultimately self-defeating. As an exceptionalist -- or, as the US government would call the same attitude in someone else, a rogue -- the United States keeps itself out of more international treaties than do its peers. It also keeps itself out of the jurisdiction of courts of international law and arbitration. This position hurts the US public, by denying it new developments in human rights. And it deals a severe blow to the rule of law elsewhere, because of the prominence and power of the world's leading rogue nation.

The US Constitution and US laws are not independently updated to match world standards. In fact, it seems that the further the United States' ancient constitution falls behind, the more it is treated as a sacred relic never to be improved. In an exceptionalist outlook, it is the responsibility of foreigners to learn from the US Constitution, not the responsibility of the US public to learn from the constitutions or laws more recently developed elsewhere. If you give rights to the environment or to indigenous people, you're being silly. If we give rights to corporations, we're being American -- and that's not to be questioned. End of discussion.

In an exceptionalist worldview it is of absolutely zero interest that many countries have figured out big advances in healthcare coverage or gun control or fast trains or green energy or drug treatment. Why would anyone in the United States care to hear such news! A study of presidents' state of the union speeches between 1934 and 2008 found 2,500 mentions of other countries, but only 3 suggestions that the United States might learn anything from any of them. As the Greatest Nation on Earth it is the rightful US role to continue bumbling along with its always greatest policies, even if those policies kill us -- but especially if they merely kill other people.

The United States not only turns away ideas. It also turns away actual emergency aid offered by other countries following natural disasters. What are human lives in comparison with national pride?

Copyright (2018) by David Swanson. Not to be republished without permission of the publisher.

Categories: News

The FCC Loses a Champion of Net Neutrality as Mignon Clyburn Steps Down

Truth Out - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 04:00

As FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn prepares to step down, much of the progress she championed on behalf of consumers, communities of color and the underserved is unraveling under the commission's Republican majority. While the GOP's decision to kill net neutrality is facing political backlash and Democrats are attempting to position themselves as the champions of consumers, Clyburn's legacy is more relevant than ever. 

 Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images)Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn listens to a fellow commissioner speak during a FCC hearing on the internet on February 26, 2015, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images)

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In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders -- better known as the Kerner Commission -- released a landmark report examining what had caused a series of violent uprisings in cities across the country. The report warned that the United States was "moving toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal."

Among other racial problems, the report cited the mass media's coverage of the uprisings and its treatment of Black people in general. News outlets had failed to convey to their main audience of white people the underlying causes of the riots, such as rampant poverty and inequality, and Black people did not see themselves accurately represented in the media. The report called on the media to expand coverage of the Black community, integrate the activities and civic concerns of Black people into everyday news coverage and bring more Black journalists into the field.

For outgoing Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Mignon Clyburn, the Kerner report is a historical milestone. Since then, Black and Latinx activists have challenged local broadcasters for failing to serve their communities and worked to create media that center their stories, but US media have also experienced rampant corporate consolidation and the rise of right-wing outlets like Fox News.

"The sad part of it is, there are only a few conclusions in that report that are not applicable to today," Clyburn told a panel of leaders from media and digital rights groups focused on people of color during a discussion on Tuesday.

Clyburn's acknowledgment that there is much more work to be done comes as the commissioner prepares to leave the FCC, where she has served for eight years, including a stint as the commission's first Black chairwoman in 2013. During her tenure, Clyburn has consistently fought for people of color and consumers in general. Her commitment to the underserved brought her close to media justice and digital rights groups like the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Color of Change, which showered her with praise during a virtual "town hall" this week.

"I remember just being incredibly impressed with how clear you are about the community that you serve," Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson told Clyburn, remembering his first visit to her office at the FCC.

The advocates lauded Clyburn for meeting directly with people impacted by FCC policies and amplifying their voice on the national stage. They cheered her commitment to bringing down phone rates for prisoners that tear families apart and pull them into debt. They thanked her for defending the Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone and internet service for low-income households.

Clyburn is also a strong advocate of net neutrality rules that prevent internet providers with playing favorites with online content. As Clyburn and her allies pointed out on Tuesday, many people still get their news from traditional media like local TV, but only a small handful of television broadcasting licenses are in Black hands. The internet has acted as a sort of equalizer in the notably unequal world of media ownership, allowing people of color to amplify their stories and challenge racist narratives in real time.

"I'm not posing a solution necessarily, but I can say that these [web] platforms that are currently more open -- if we win the fight for keeping them more open -- then maybe we can work our way into ownership of the legacy platforms," Clyburn said of media ownership among communities of color.

The future of net neutrality is highly uncertain. Clyburn is leaving the FCC amid a Trump-era deregulatory blitz spearheaded by Chairman Ajit Pai, who has used his Republican majority on the commission to issue an order repealing landmark net neutrality rules that Clyburn helped establish in 2015. Clyburn has seen much of the progress she championed at the FCC unravel under Pai, who initiated a long list of deregulatory moves that Clyburn says will harm people the FCC is charged with protecting: low-income families, underserved Indigenous communities, disabled people, as well as women and people of color.

Pai has also shown little interest in a cause central to Clyburn's legacy -- reducing exorbitant phone rates paid by prisoners and their families. After years of work by grassroots activists, the FCC issued a historic order capping costs for calls to and from prisons and jails in 2016. However, a lawsuit filed by prison phone companies has held up the order in the court, leaving higher rates in place. It's a stark reminder of how difficult it can be to get things done in the FCC's highly politicized atmosphere, even when a strong advocate for marginalized people is in a leadership position.

"It was a no-brainer that this would be something that I would be an advocate for," Clyburn said when asked why she chose to be a champion for prisoners. "What kind of legacy would I have if everything is good and shiny [but] my people from my communities cannot afford to keep in touch with their loved ones?"

Meanwhile, Clyburn's Democratic colleagues in Congress are working to hammer Republicans over net neutrality. Polls consistently show that voters in both parties don't trust internet providers and do support the net neutrality rules Pai awkwardly threw out. Senate Democrats introduced a resolution on Wednesday to undo Pai's decision to repeal the FCC rules amid a mass online day of action held by web platforms and net neutrality advocates. The resolution faces an uphill battle but could force Republicans to abandon the party line or take an unpopular, anti-consumer position ahead of the midterms.

Clyburn said that the FCC has shifted from a "consumer-centric, consumer-based approach to an industry-led point of view" now that Pai is in charge. Democrats are betting that this won't fly with voters and are positioning themselves as the party that stands up for digital consumers in the internet age. Thanks to Clyburn and media justice activists, issues like net neutrality also resonate with communities of color in the party's base. Clyburn says she plans to continue her advocacy outside the FCC. Her fellow Democrats would do well to keep her close. There is still plenty of work to be done.

Categories: News

Will Congress Authorize Indefinite Detention of Americans?

Truth Out - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 04:00

 Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)Sen Bob Corker and Sen. Tim Kaine talk during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "The President's Request for Authorization to Use Force Against ISIS: Military and Diplomatic Efforts," March 11, 2015. Sens. Corker and Kaine have introduced an Authorization of Military Force bill to Congress. (Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

A proposed 2018 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) could potentially give President Trump unlimited power to wage war and also provide a basis for indefinitely detaining US citizens in military custody without criminal charges. If passed, the bill could imperil a citizen's right to challenge whatever military adventures the president decides to undertake.

 Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)Sen Bob Corker and Sen. Tim Kaine talk during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "The President's Request for Authorization to Use Force Against ISIS: Military and Diplomatic Efforts," March 11, 2015. Sens. Corker and Kaine have introduced an Authorization of Military Force bill to Congress. (Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

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Under the guise of exercising supervisory power over the president's ability to use military force, Congress is considering writing Donald Trump a blank check to indefinitely detain US citizens with no criminal charges. Alarmingly, this legislation could permit the president to lock up Americans who dissent against US military policy.

The bill that risks conveying this power to the president is the broad new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), S.J.Res.59, that is pending in Congress. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Democratic committee member Tim Kaine (Virginia) introduced the bipartisan bill on April 16, and it has four additional co-sponsors.

This proposed 2018 AUMF would replace the 2001 AUMF that Congress gave George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks. Although the 2001 AUMF authorized the president to use "all necessary and appropriate force" only against individuals and groups responsible for the 9/11 attacks, three presidents have relied on it to justify at least 37 military operations in 14 countries, many of them unrelated to 9/11.

But the 2018 AUMF would codify presidential power to make war whenever and wherever he chooses.

To read more stories like this, visit Human Rights and Global Wrongs.

S.J.Res.59 allows the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, al-Qaeda, ISIS (also known as Daesh), the Taliban and their "associated forces" anywhere in the world, without limitation.

A president may conceivably claim that a US citizen who writes, speaks out or demonstrates against US military action is a "co-belligerent" and lock him or her up indefinitely without charge.

"Associated forces" is defined as "any organization, person, or force, other than a sovereign nation, that the President determines has entered the fight alongside and is a co-belligerent with al Qaeda, the Taliban, or ISIS, in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

However, the bill contains no definition of "co-belligerent." A president may conceivably claim that a US citizen who writes, speaks out or demonstrates against US military action is a "co-belligerent" and lock him or her up indefinitely without charge.

Under the new AUMF, the president could tell Congress he wants to use force against additional countries or "associated forces" that are not listed in the bill. It would put the burden on Congress to say no by a two-thirds vote, a virtually impossible margin to achieve in the current political climate.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- a treaty the United States has ratified, making it part of US law under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause -- forbids arbitrary detention without charge.

Supreme Court Hasn't Sanctioned Indefinite Detention for US Citizens

Nevertheless, in the 2004 case of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court upheld the enemy combatant designation of US citizen Yaser Hamdi, who had been apprehended in Afghanistan in 2001. But the Court limited its holding to people fighting against US forces in Afghanistan, and did not include the broader "war on terrorism."

The Court also stated that US citizens held as enemy combatants must be provided due process to contest the factual basis for their detention before a neutral decision maker.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a US citizen who is apprehended in the United States can be detained indefinitely.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the Court's plurality, "We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens," adding, "even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties."

The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a US citizen who is apprehended in the United States can be detained indefinitely. It declined to decide the case of José Padilla, who was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2002 and held in military custody as an enemy combatant by the Bush administration, relying on the 2001 AUMF. The Court ruled that Padilla's habeas corpus petition was mistakenly filed in New York instead of South Carolina.

Criminal charges were eventually brought against Padilla in 2005. Padilla had been held in isolation for more than three years and tortured while in custody.

Padilla was tried and convicted in 2007 of conspiracy charges and providing material support to terrorism, and sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. In 2014, his sentence was increased to 21 years. Meanwhile, the Fourth Circuit and the Second Circuit US Courts of Appeal came to opposite conclusions about whether an American citizen apprehended on US soil could be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant.

"John Doe" is another American citizen detained by the US government. In September 2017, the US-Saudi citizen was named an enemy combatant for allegedly fighting for ISIS and has been held in military custody in Iraq ever since. Although the 2001 AUMF never mentioned ISIS, the government used it as a basis to detain Doe. In April, the Department of Defense attempted to transfer Doe to Saudi Arabia and avoid a judicial ruling in the case, but a federal judge in Doe v. Mattis blocked the move.

It is not clear how passage of the proposed 2018 AUMF would affect Doe's case.

Does Defense Authorization Act Permit Indefinite Detention?

There is a 1971 US statute that says, "No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." An AUMF is an Act of Congress.

Another Act of Congress is the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 (NDAA). Relying on the 2001 AUMF, the 2012 NDAA purported to codify the president's authority to hold US citizens in military custody indefinitely.

Section 1021 of the NDAA says, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

When he signed the NDAA, Barack Obama declared in a signing statement that section 1021 does not "limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force," pledging that "my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens."

Obama's statement implied that while a president does have the power to indefinitely detain Americans, he chose not to exercise that power.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) supported the NDAA, stating that it would "basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield," adding that people could be held without charge by the military, "American citizen or not."

Nothing in the 2018 AUMF would prevent the president from adding an American organization or individual to the list set forth in the bill.

Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges and other journalists and human rights activists sued the US government, claiming the 2012 NDAA would have a chilling effect on their freedom of speech because they could be arrested. A federal district court judge found section 1021(b)(2) unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the government from relying on it.

But the Second Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction in 2013, stating that section 1021 of the NDAA "has no bearing on the government's authority to detain American citizen plaintiffs" because "Section 1021 simply says nothing about the government's authority to detain citizens."

The 2018 AUMF Might Be Used to Indefinitely Detain Americans

Nothing in the 2018 AUMF would prevent the president from adding an American organization or individual to the list set forth in the bill, according to Christopher Anders of the ACLU.

The 2018 AUMF has no expiration date. Every four years, the president would be required to give Congress a proposal to repeal, modify or maintain the authorization. Once again, it puts the onus on Congress, by a two-thirds majority, to take contrary action.

S.J.Res.59 may not make it to the floor of the Senate and/or the House. Congress has thus far resisted enacting a new AUMF that could be seen in any way to limit the president's military authority.

Ironically, however, the enactment of this new 2018 AUMF could both enshrine the president's unlimited power to wage war and also provide the president with a basis for indefinitely detaining US citizens in military custody without criminal charges.

If this bill were to pass, it would imperil our right to speak out and challenge whatever military adventures the president decides to undertake.

Categories: News

The GOP's Midterm Strategy Is All About the Courts

Truth Out - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 04:00
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If there is one factor responsible for massively impacting President Donald Trump's surprise 2016 election victory, it had to be the open seat of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. By refusing to allow a confirmation hearing for President Barack Obama's appointee -- Judge Merrick Garland – and leaving the seat vacant for over a full year, the GOP easily propelled the religious right to the polls.

No wonder they're trying so hard to recreate that crisis.

There's little doubt for Republicans that the 2018 midterms are going to be a hard slog. They've under-performed in every election and special election that has taken place since President Trump was sworn into office. Even without that bellwether, the party in the White House traditionally gets hammered in the next midterm. And on top of that, President Trump has been one of the most polarizing, unpopular presidents in history, making him a drag on any GOP ticket.

Of course, Trump was a drag in 2016, too, which is why Republicans chose to campaign primarily on their own, focusing like a laser beam on the issue of the courts. It worked surprisingly well, creating a blueprint for the right to follow again this election. Now that November is fast approaching, Republicans are ramping up the rhetoric, too.

For the religious right, President Trump has been the leader they never thought they'd see -- fervently anti-abortion, anti-Muslim and willing to embrace and promote religious liberty for Christians over all other policy issues. Social conservative leaders are chomping at the bit to return the U.S. to the mythical 1950s -- an era where gays were closeted, schools segregated and full of public prayer, women stayed home with children and birth control was a sin.

That's why conservatives are making a point to tell their followers just how close they are to making this a reality.

According to Right Wing Watch, far-right legal activist Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel told a religious right radio audience that they must hit the polls come the midterm, since that could be the point when a GOP majority in the Senate finally pushes the last remaining Supreme Court justice to overturn legal abortion and marriage equality.

Miranda Blue reports:

Staver added that social conservatives are 'one midterm election away from eventually overturning the Roe v. Wade decision' because 'there will be at least one, maybe two more' Supreme Court vacancies during Trump's first term in office.

If Trump is able to replace any liberal or moderate justice "with someone like Gorsuch," he said, "that means the abortion decision, the same-sex marriage decision, all of those things that went the wrong way will ultimately be in the balance to be reversed. So literally we are a few months away."

Staver isn't the only one rallying the far-right voting troops, either. Tony Perkins at Family Research Council points out that the midterms could well lead to extreme abortion bans like Iowa's new six-week "heartbeat ban" being upheld if the right judge makes it through.

According to RWW's Jared Holt:

"We are anticipating another retirement from the [Supreme] Court. Is it going to come this year? Don't know," Perkins said on 'Washington Watch.' "But a case like this usually -- it's going to take a while to get all the way up to the Supreme Court. So, the probability that there will be a new justice on the court by the time this gets to the court is very high."

The courts worked so well as a political tool in 2016 that Judicial Crisis Network -- an influential and extremely well funded right-wing legal action group -- is launching a campaign to accuse Democrats of "obstructing" President Trump's judicial appointments. It's a rich accusation, considering that the GOP blocked most of President Obama's nominees at the end of his term and left a mass of vacancies for the next president to fill.

Judicial Crisis Network's Carrie Severino announced:

President Trump and Senate Republicans have confirmed a record number of exceptionally qualified judges who will follow the law and uphold the Constitution. Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer (D-NY), want to stop that progress so that liberal extremists can maintain control of our courts. Confirming President Trump's extraordinary nominees is a top priority for JCN, and we are committed to doing whatever necessary to end the Democratic obstruction.

That "whatever necessary to end the Democratic obstruction" inevitably means defeating Democrats in the midterms -- and creating a Republican Senate super majority is just icing on the campaign cake.

Will the courts be a compelling enough issue to drive GOP voters to the polls in November? The Republican Party definitely hopes so. After all, without the courts, they're stuck campaigning with nothing but President Trump.

Categories: News

Canadian zoo faces charges after taking bear out for ice cream at Dairy Queen

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 01:19

Canadian zoo faces charges after taking bear out for ice cream at Dairy Queen | 09 May 2018 | A private zoo in the Canadian province of Alberta is facing charges after a bear from the facility was taken through a drive-thru Dairy Queen in a pickup truck and hand-fed ice cream through the vehicle's window. News of the outing emerged earlier this year after Discovery Wildlife Park, located about 70 miles north of Calgary in the town of Innisfail, posted a video on social media showing a captive Kodiak bear sitting in the passenger seat of a truck. The video later showed the one-year-old bear, known as Berkley, leaning out of the truck's window, enthusiastically licking an ice cream cone held by the owner of a local Dairy Queen. Amid widespread criticism [?!?], the video -- along with a second one showing Berkley licking frosting off an ice cream cake -- was taken down. At the time, the zoo said the drive-thru run had posed no danger to the public, as it had taken place before the Dairy Queen had opened for the day and that the bear had been secured by a chain throughout the entire outing. [Insane! Bears love ice cream - let them enjoy it.]

Categories: News

Anarchy Radio 05-08-2018

Anarchist News - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 23:36

LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio05082018

Kentucky Derby and domestication. Oppositional energy on upswing internationally. Backwoods zine. 700,000 year-old sea voyaging to Philippines. Ad of the Week: Verizon: "We're Not Waiting for the Future, We're Building It." Disease epidemics now chronic, from e-coli to ebola. Massive pollution from international shipping. Geoengineering trashed; raves for Camila Power. Action news, one call.

Tags: KZjzKarlanarchy radiocategory: Projects
Categories: News

Final Straw: 8th Anniversary Podcast Special

It's Goin Down - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 23:07

The post Final Straw: 8th Anniversary Podcast Special appeared first on It's Going Down.

Long running anarchist radio show and podcast The Final Straw celebrates it’s 8th anniversary – 8 years! Happy birthday Final Straw!

Listen and Download Here

Heya listeners. The Final Straw has an irregular tradition of using our anniversary to air conversations with other projects that produce anarchist media. In past episodes, linked in the notes for this special, you can find chats from past anniversaries. This time around, we are featuring two interviews.

First, you’ll hear audio from the regular host of the ItsGoingDown podcast. The IGDcast is a weekly podcast produced by It’s Going Down which features interviews with participants in social movements, struggles, rebellions, projects, thinkers, and organizers, mostly focused on anti-capitalist, anarchist, antifascist, autonomous and anti-colonial activities in North American. For the interview, we talk about the past of the IGDcast, what it covers, the state of radical media and mainstream interventions and some of their plans for the future.

Then we bring you a chat with Linda Rose, the main host of Subversion1312. Subversion1312, inheritor of The Anarchy Show, airs in Brisbane, Australia on 4zzz radio. Linda Rose and I speak about the history of the show, which has run in various forms for over two decades, anarchist approaches in Australia to anti-colonial struggle, spaces and scenes in Australia, feminism interventions against so-called “Men’s Rights Activists“, with a special appearance by Mark, the international pop sensation and occasional co-host.

Enjoy!

Categories: News

Hotwire #31: Get Ready for A Hot Summer

It's Goin Down - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 22:52

The post Hotwire #31: Get Ready for A Hot Summer appeared first on It's Going Down.

Long running anarchist media collective CrimethInc. presents the latest episode of The Hotwire, the last show of the season.

Our last episode of the season! This episode is chocked full of May Day repression updates—from FBI visits in Washington state to the dozens of anarchists rounded up in Indonesia. The New School in New York City is occupied once again, and we have an audio report!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/exworker/The-Hotwire_31_Repression-in-Indonesia_Hamilton-rent-strike_J20-on-May-14_events-all-summer.mp3
The next J20 trial begins in less than a week. Teachers, tenants, and fast food workers are getting organized and striking back against their bosses and landlords. We close the episode with a long list of summertime anarchist fun that you can get into before we’re back in the fall with more Hotwires. Make sure to check out our listeners survey and e-mail it to us!

Notes and Links
  • Table of Contents:
    • Introduction {0:00}
    • Headlines: {1:22}
    • Repression Roundup {15:40}
    • Next Week’s News {24:20}
  • Download 29:30 minutes long version
  • LISTENER SURVEY (please e-mail to podcast@crimethinc.com)
    • 1) How often do you listen to the Hotwire?
      – More than once a week
      – Weekly
      – Once a month
      – Once a month or more, but I binge multiple episodes at once
  • 2) How often, if ever, do you use…
    – The shownotes?
    – The phone numbers for call-in campaigns?
    – Next Week’s News announcements?
    – References to past episodes and other podcasts
  • 3) What are the Hotwire’s greatest strengths? Biggest weaknesses?
  • 4) Our shows have progressively increased from 30 minutes to up to 45 minutes. Is keeping the show to strictly 30 minutes important? How long is too long for an episode?
  • 5) What topics are most useful/interesting when we cover them? What kind of coverage is lacking?
  • Dozens of anarchists have been rounded up in Indonesia, and legal defense funds are needed. Go here to find out how to help.
  • J20 support:
    • Countering State Repression With Daniel McGowan
      Thursday, May 10 at 7 PM
      St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church
      1525 Newton St NW, Washington DC, 20010
      Free
    • Rally to Drop J20 with Chelsea Manning and former defendants
      Friday, May 11 at 12:30 PM
      Franklin Square, Washington DC
    • Call-in campaign May 10–11. Please be aware that your calls are likely recorded and we do not advise answering any questions about your identity. Please use your best discretion if referencing anything that occured on January 20th so as to not negatively impact the ongoing case.
      • Jennifer Kerkhoff – Lead Prosectuor on the case, Deputy Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section (202) 252–7380
      • Lisa Greene – The Deputy Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252–7485
      • Richard Tischner – The Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252–7274
      • US Attorney for DC Jessie Liu – The person in charge of the US Attorney’s office, a Trump appointee (202) 252–7566
      • Rizwan Qureshi – Assistant J20 prosecutor (general line – use directory/operator) (202) 252–7679
      • John Gidez – The Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section, Kerkhoff’s colleague (202) 252–6752
      • John Borchert – Assistant J20 prosecutor (esp. Dreamhost and Facebook warrants) (202) 252–7679
    • Here’s a sample script to get you started!
      “Hello. My name is __________. (first name is fine)
      I am calling about the inauguration day protesters still facing trumped up criminal charges. Your office needs to drop these remaining charges. There is no good reason your office should be pursuing these charges when six people have already been found NOT GUILTY on all counts in the first trial. Again, your office should drop the remaining charges. Over the last year these prosecutions have pushed all limits: Intimidation to coerce plea deals by making inflated charges. Shielding law enforcement from public accountability by issuing gag orders. Disrupting people’s lives by making overblown charges and using those to justify intrusive, extensive investigations meant to build those cases. overall strategy to intimidate activists, disrupt social movements and silence dissent by weaponizing the use of trumped up charges is not going unnoticed. Your office has the power to end the repression and intimidation. Drop the charges now.”
  • Sub.Media’s Spring 2018 Media Mash-up Tour:
    • May 11, Portland State University 
Workshop 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Public screening 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Smith Memorial Union 026 Hosted by Radical Education PSU
    • May 12, The University of Oregon 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Hosted by Radical Organizing and Activism Resource Center & the Civil Liberties Defense Center
    • May 13, Seattle University
    • May 14, Olympia, Washington Chop Chop Video Making workshop Multimedia Lab 1404 in the Library Building Monday, May 14th 2018 * Workshop from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. *Ten participant limit! Email info@naaame.org. Public Screening at Traditions Fair Trade 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 300 5th Ave SW, Olympia, WA
      Hosted by The Black Cottonwood Collective
  • Mutual Aid Disaster Relief tour
    • May 11 at 6 PM at Bad River Dept of Social & Family Services 72772 Elm Street, Odanah, WI 54861
    • May 12 at 10 AM at Bad River Dept of Social & Family Services 72772 Elm Street, Odanah, WI 54861
    • May 14 at 4 PM at YWCA Wausau 613 5th St, Wausau, WI 54403
    • May 16 at 7 PM at The Train Station 302 S Story St., Appleton, WI 54914
    • May 17 at 7 PM at The Train Station 302 S Story St., Appleton, WI 54914
    • May 18 at 7 PM at Breakaway Social Center 2424 S. Western Ave (rear) Chicago, IL 60608
    • May 19 at 9 PM at Breakaway Social Center 2424 S. Western Ave (rear) Chicago, IL 60608
    • May 20 at 10 AM at Art In 1444 E. Washington Ave Madison, WI 53703
  • May/June: a month of anarchy in Quebec
  • June 11, the international day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners, is coming up soon. Start planning a letter writing night, a solidarity action, or some other way to let our comrades on the inside know that they are in our hearts and minds.
  • Check out The second annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking July 21–29 in Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • Use this straightforward guide to writing prisoners from New York City Anarchist Black Cross to write to a birthday letter to Xinachtli, formerly Alvaro Luna Hernandez:Xinachtli* #255735
    James V Allred Unit
    2101 FM 369 North
    Iowa Park, Texas 76367
    *Address envelope to Alvaro Luna Hernandez.
    (Birthday: May 12, 2018)
  • Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain has called for a campaign to get his communication turned back on. Please call:
    • Kevin O’Donnell Stanek, Asst. Chief Counsel to Governor Kasich: (614) 466- 3555;
    • State Representative Doug Green (614) 644–6034;
    • State Representative Hearcel F. Craig (614) 466–8010;
    • State Representative Greta Johnson (614) 466–6037.

    Sample script: “I’m calling to bring to your attention an illegal effort by prison officials to terrorize an Ohio prisoner. The prisoner, Sean Swain, is a model prisoner, a published writer and a radio personality on a globally-syndicated radio show. Because Sean exposed how prison employees who were directed by ODRC Counsel Trevor Clark intercepted and stole Sean’s mail from courts to hide their crimes, prison officials have shut down all of Sean’s communication to the outside world…to his family, his friends, and even to the courts. Prison officials are blocking Sean’s phone, email, and even regular mail. Their goal is not just to silence him, but to cut him off from everyone who loves him and drive him to suicide.

    “I want you to know that I’m signing an online petition that has 50,000 signatures already, demanding that the director of prisons resign, and I’m urging your office to make arrangements to speak with Sean. You can contact him by phone at the prison by calling his Case Manager K. Baessler at: (513) 932–3388, ext. 84405 or ext. 84410. Please know that if anything happens to Sean while he’s being illegally silenced, I know a lot of registered voters, including me, who will hold your office responsible. The eyes of the world are watching.“

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS:

  • For last Hotwire’s May Day roundup we reported that a Wells Fargo in Seattle had been smashed up and graffitied, but it in fact was in Olympia, Washington. Also, the US Bank that was smashed in Olympia was on May 2, not May 1.
Transcript

REBEL GIRL: May 9, 2018: A new anarchist social center in Cuba, calls to support anarchists facing repression in Indonesia, J20 updates, and a whole lot of announcements for anarchist events all summer long on this season’s final episode of…

The Hotwire.   A weekly anarchist news show brought to you by The Ex-Worker.   With me, the Rebel Girl.   A full transcript of this episode with shownotes and useful links can be found at our website, CrimethInc.com/podcast. You can subscribe to The Hotwire on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, just search for The Ex-Worker. You can listen to us through the anarchist podcast network Channel Zero, or on your radio’s dial in… Eugene, Oregon every Sunday at noon on KEPW 97.3, Fairbanks, Alaska Saturday mornings at 9 on KWRK 90.9 and in Tacoma, Washington every Friday at 9 AM on KUPS 90.1. Every Hotwire is radio ready, and in our shownotes you can download a twenty-nine and a half minute version of this episode for standard radio timeslots. If there’s a story or upcoming event you’d like us to include in a future Hotwire, just hit us up at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com.  And now for the headlines…

HEADLINES

The rent strike launched on May Day in Hamilton, Ontario is going strong. Tenants across four buildings are withholding rent until the landlords 1) withdraw a proposed %10 rent increase and 2) address the long list of repairs needed in their homes. You can support the strike by giving to the tenants’ strike fund at gofundme.com/easthamiltonrentstrike.

After a weeklong strike that shut down the state’s schools, Arizona teachers just won a pay increase of 9% in the fall with a 5% raise in each of the next two years. In addition to the pay increase, teachers won hundreds of millions of dollars of increased spending on education. Like West Virginia, these policy decisions happened in a red state with a republican governor. Regardless of our thoughts about public education as an authoritarian and nationalist institution, these strikes do show that self-organization and direct, disruptive action get the goods, not electing representatives.

On May 16, teachers in North Carolina will be walking out and demonstrating in the state capitol of Raleigh. Many of the state’s school districts have already voted to close for the day, which could be an effort by politicians to separate teachers from the sense of agency that disruptive actions like strikes lend to their protagonists. At the end of April, Colorado teachers also joined the wave of walkouts that have happened in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona.

Also at the end of April, the Burgerville Workers Union, a part of the IWW, made history and became the first fast food chain in the US to be unionized. Their report reads,

“The fight isn’t over, of course… And we need to remember what got us to this point: workers taking action for themselves, standing up against poverty wages and horrible conditions. We got here because of the strike, union benefits, pickets, and marches on the boss. We got here through direct action, and that won’t change now that we’ve won an election. If anything it’s even more important.

“In this moment of victory we want to celebrate, yes, but we also want to turn our attention to the 4.5 million other fast food workers in the United States. We want to speak to everyone else who works for poverty wages, who are constantly disrespected on the job, who are told they aren’t educated enough, aren’t experienced enough, aren’t good enough for a decent life. To all of those workers, to everyone like us who works rough jobs for terrible pay, we say this: Don’t listen to that BS. Burgerville workers didn’t, and look at us now.”

We caught up with people active in the occupation of the cafeteria at The New School

Eli: Hey Ex-Worker, gretings from the Occupied New School cafeteria in so-called New Yrok City.

Louis: I’m Louis

Eli: And I’m Eli.

Louis: We’re here to lay out some of the history and current context for the occupation of the cafeteria.

Eli: So on May 1, students surged into the cafeteria in support of the workers, about 45 of whom were under contract, many of them have worked here for a number of years, some of them up to 16 years. Many of them are people of color, they have dependants, they were intending to retire on this job, so the New School’s declaration hat they were going to fire all of them and “invite” them to re-apply for their jobs, well, we know what kind of bullshit that is.

So, super exclusive university says its progressive, but acting totally not progressively. Students said no way, we occupied the cafeteria on the call of the Communist Student Group who did a lot of organizing to make it possible. And we’re still here and we’re not going to leave until the demands of the workers are all met

Louis: Yes. In the context of the history of occupations at the New School, more or less every other occupation in recent history from 2008, 2009, 2011 were all run democratically and had a consensus building model and they were initiated by anarchists. The struggles and the power dynamics were extremely different, from what I understand from some of the legacy here at the New School. The Communist Student Group, they were the first ones on the line so they definitely deserve credit for organizing the space, but they’re vanguardist Leninists or self-styled Maoists, and they claim the kind of role of the student leadership in the entire movement, and it’s an issue when, for example, the two or three people that are part of this group, when they call general assemblies, it’s more or less one person shouting from a megaphone.

Eli: There are a bunch of other things going on of course—the labor struggle at the New School. The student employees at the New School are currently on strike indefinitely until the contract there is met, the workers are waiting for their contract. We are not leaving the cafeteria, this is a beautiful space in spite of the way it was initiated and there are lots of groups who have come in since then and have claimed the space as their own, so y’all are welcome to come and join us. We hope you do!

REBEL GIRL: And in Okayama, Japan, bus drivers in a labor dispute have decided to undercut their management’s ability to appeal to the public by continuing to clock in, but without charging anyone for fare. Free bus rides for all!

Last weekend, despite police pens and the recent militarized police freak-out against anti-fascists in Newnan, Georgia, up to 100 anti-fascists turned out in Burns, Tennessee to oppose the white supremacist American Renaissance conference. The last American Renaissance took place two weeks before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and this year’s conference included some of its key organizers.

Meanwhile, on Saturday in Richmond, Virginia, anti-fascists outnumbered about a dozen neo-confederates who rallied to defend their stupid precious monuments.

On April 30 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, just 15 minutes down the road from where anti-racists tore down the confederate monument in Durham last year, graduate student Maya Little poured red paint over the confederate monument on the campus of the University of North Carolina. Little was arrested, and when she was arraigned on Monday supporters circled the block to show that they had her back.

In Montreal, as It’s Going Down reports, “Since… last week, a storm has erupted in response to the publication of the personal information of one of the leaders of the most popular neo-Nazi websites in the world, The Daily Stormer. On Thursday, student journalists with the Montreal Gazette published a story which outed Gabriel Sohier Chaput as the prolific neo-Nazi writer and podcaster, “Zeiger,” after receiving information from local antifa organizers. Along with Andrew Anglin, Weev, and Azzmador, Zeiger is seen as one of the leaders of the Alt-Right website which openly embraces swastikas, calls for genocide, and the rape of women. Like Stormfront before it, it as been a key source of influence for a variety of killers, from Dylann Roof to James Harris Jackson.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of local antifascists who were able to track down Zeiger, as well as slog through thousands of messages on the Daily Stormer’s Montreal Discord chat logs, Zeiger’s full name and home address was exposed, as was the wider network he operated within which included everyone from Alt-Right ‘Identitarians,’ to hardcore national socialists.

“While journalists at the Montreal Gazetter have been quick to receive accolades for their work, they have remained clear that all that did was simply fact check the information given to them by local antifascists and then publicize it.”

Posts on the Daily Stormer have suggested that Zeiger is in the process of packing his bags and moving out of Montreal.

“The case of Zeiger shows that antifascism works. Exposing and outing neo-Nazis to the communities that they live in disrupts and often stops their organizing, and more often than not, forces them to drop out of the movement. As action continues against the Alt-Right in Canada, hopefully this reality will only continue to play out.”

In Ellwangen, Germany, a crowd of about 200 African migrants forced police to un-handcuff and release a man who was about to be deported to Congo. Reportedly, the release man has gone into hiding. Stay safe friend.

On May 4 in France, a crowd of about 50 migrants attacked two police patrols and their car less than a kilometer away from where the notorious refugee camp known as The Jungle used to exist in Calais. Nearly 10,000 refugees lived at the camp before it was razed by riot police just over one and a half years ago. But of course, without anywhere to go, the refugees have fought for their humanity and their right to exist, recently refusing the French government’s so-called “assistance” and instead recently organizing their own food-sharing in the day.

It’s Going Down reports that, “On Monday, April 23rd, following the not-guilty verdict of a Border Patrol agent who shot and killed 16 year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, people in so-called Tucson took to the streets for over six hours and blocked freeway onramps.”

We here at the Hotwire are thrilled to announce the opening of ABRA, a new anarchist library and social center in Havana, Cuba! The social center just opened on May 5, and we hope to see it spread some anarchist magic. Abracadabra!

In the anarchist tradition of antipathy to standardized calendars and time, a march of 30 odd people in Olympia, Washington took to the streets the evening of May 2—continuing the revelry and rebel-ry of May Day. Downtown was covered in graffiti that read, “Happy May Day,” “Stolen Land,” “Kill Cops,” “ACAB,” and “FTP,” as well as “F this” and “F you” on some yuppie condos. Windows were broken at a property that used to be a gathering place for houseless people, but had since been fenced up by the owners. Clueless riot cops showed up 45 minutes after the march had dispersed, scratching their heads and checking their iPhone calendars. “May…second?” Hey, why not make every day May Day?

REPRESSION ROUNDUP

REBEL GIRL: In this week’s repression round-up…

Last week we reported on the black blocs all around Indonesia for May Day. Unfortunately, the vibrant anarchist presence in Yogyakarta ended in severe repression, and we share an international call for solidarity from comrades there.

“44 of our comrades were arrested—accused of property destruction, provocation, and fighting with the police… One of the Legal Aid was arrested and beaten. Until now… 12 comrades are still imprisoned and the police [are] continuing the witch hunt.

“Believe us when we say that we already knew, even since before we carried out our demonstration, that there would be an antipathy from the public towards our demonstration. It is very understandable. Feudalism creates this belief that kings and the royals are like half-divine beings; their authority is sacred and self-justified….

“Our demonstration was meant to disturb the circulation of capital in Yogyakarta. We intentionally want to create a non-conducive situation for capital investment, be it national or foreign, that will intensify the development and gentrification that disenfranchise the middle and lower class people in Yogyakarta. We had guessed that the public would be infuriated by our vandalism and provocative calls. The destruction of one police post and the call to ‘murder the Sultan!’ have massively angered the people of Yogyakarta. The anger is absent when the police repeatedly, with violence, [are] at the front line of conflicts between people’s interests and the rulers’, on the side of the rulers’ of course.

“We are what you call… anarchists. We dream of a world where people cooperate with each other, work together, rule over themselves, in a horizontal way, without rulers, the royals, political contract, social contract, or the capitalists. We want a life in its truest form, where human’s natural desires are in tune with nature; a life without class, racial, ethnic, religious, and other false [divisions]. We are what you call utopists. We want a free society without oppressors. We want a society where people can have any beliefs, sexual orientations, or anything without fearing being persecuted. Total freedom!

“– The Anarchists”

To donate to the much needed legal defense of anarchists in Indonesia, you can e-mail matata@riseup.net or feldasit@riseup.net.

May Day also marked the first 100 days that Three Sisters Camp has been resisting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia. But on Friday a judge found Red, a 61 year-old tree-sitter, as well as her daughter, in contempt for their treesit against the Mountain Valley Pipeline closer to West Virginia. The judge even found Red’s husband in contempt for just supporting them. What this translates to is that they would have been fined $1,000 a day if they did not come down. Red and her daughter decided, then, to pack it up, but treesits remain blocking pipeline construction paths in the Virginias.

Puget Sound Anarchists reports that the FBI visited a few different houses just before May Day, posing as delivery people in order to confirm the identities of the residents, but once it was clear they were agents they had the door slammed in their faces. The report states, “These visits have become a yearly ritual. In the week before May Day, the feds do the rounds to make sure that everyone knows they are watching. We should see this for what it is – an intimidation tactic and part of a strategy of repression designed to scare people out of organizing. It is important to take visits like this seriously, but their predictability also makes it fairly clear that they are mostly intended to make people feel afraid.”

In an update on the ongoing cases from the Standing Rock No Dakota Access Pipeline struggle, the Water Protector Legal Collective reports, “Of the 831 state arrests from Standing Rock, 578 have concluded so far. A large majority of those, 337, were won through dismissal or acquittal at trial. 122 Water Protectors have accepted Deferred Imposition of Sentence agreements instead of going to trial and 106 Water Protectors have accepted Pretrial Diversions.”

Water Protector Legal Collective has worked on many of these plea bargains, and the pleas they have worked out for defendants have exclusively been non-cooperating deals, aka, no snitching.

If you are or know a Water Protector from Standing Rock in need of a free, effective lawyer, you can get in touch with the Water Protector Legal Collective through their hotline at (701) 566–9108 or email WPCriminalDefense@protonmail.com.

Pre-trial hearings began on Monday for the May 14 trial in the J20 inauguration resisters case. One defendant was continued for a later date, but now we can be 99% certain that the second J20 trial will begin on May 14 in Washington DC. The first trial took place at the end of last year and resulted in full acquittals, leading to the prosecution to drop over 100 cases, but nearly 60 defendants still face charges. The government argues that the remaining defendants have the clearest evidence that they are guilty of the multiple felony counts they face, yet just last week they agreed to a misdemeanor plea bargain with one of the defendants—just further evidence that the government is casting a wide net and trying to see what can stick, which is why we need to support ALL the defendants.

The government also motioned to include a quote-unquote “black bloc expert” witness from the FBI, whose expertise, according to their CV, is based on, uh, reading some books about the black bloc.

To gear up for a new round of trials and support, Defend J20 Resistance has announced a rally in DC on May 11—that’s Friday—with Chelsea Manning and former defendants to demand that the remaining J20 cases be dropped. The rally is at 12:30 PM at Franklin Square.

The day before, on May 10, ex-green scare political prisoner Daniel McGowan will be speaking in DC about countering state repression, especially in the context of the J20 case. The event is at 7 PM at St. Stephen Episcopal Church on 16th street Northwest.

And if you can’t make it to DC for either of those days, you can support the remaining defendants by calling the prosecutor at (202) 252–7380, or you can call the prosecutor’s boss at (202) 252–7566, and tell them to drop the charges.

Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain has called for a campaign to get his communication turned back on. Please call State Representative Doug Green at (614) 644–6034 or Representative Hearcel Craig (614) 466–8010 and politely demand for them to get prison officials to stop cutting off Sean’s phone access, e-mail, and even regular mail.

NEXT WEEK’S NEWS

REBEL GIRL: Before we end with Next Week’s News, some of you might remember that at the end of last season we implored our listeners to not get caught up in only oppositional politics, like anti-fascism, but to engage in conflicts that can also demonstrate an anarchist vision. May Day in North America may not have been as confrontational as years past or other countries this year, but between the really really free markets in Durango, Colorado, Oxnard, California, and New London, Connecticut; a tenants’ strike in Hamilton, Ontario; the anti-juvie block party in Seattle; the Redneck Revolt and John Brown Gun Club picnics in Denver and Michigan; reportedly the first-ever anarchist May Day gathering in Long Island; nocturnal attacks in solidarity with La ZAD; not to mention the continued blockades of pipeline construction in Louisiana and West Virginia; and the courageous black blocs and confrontations with militarized police in Montreal and Puerto Rico; between all that, we’d say that this year’s May Day in North America demonstrated the wide scope of what anarchists oppose and propose.

With the midterm elections coming up in November, we have to keep up this visibility and engagement, lest Democrats position themselves as the most viable resistance to Trump. Regular listeners might also remember that in Hotwires 19, 20, and 23, we went on long rants about how laws and law enforcement aren’t the solution to mass shootings, but putting youth in direct control of their lives and schools is. We collected some of the more exciting and uncontrollable news reports of high school walkouts. But by and large, the #NeverAgain movement has presented an opportunity for the Democrats to direct the opposition to Trump and his world back into electoralism and the machine that keeps them in power. Let’s take this momentum from May Day and keep it going so that when the lazy left encourages us to vote for the lesser evil in November, we can respond by pointing out our own solidarity-based disaster relief efforts, our own ways of taking charge of our neighborhoods and workplaces, and our own autonomous resistance that doesn’t rely on their representatives. Let’s make sure that autonomous action in the streets and collective projects in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces overshadow the Democrats as the real resistance to Trumpism. In that spirit, here’s our list of events and gatherings that you can plug into this summer:

This weekend, Sub.Media will be touring the Pacific Northwest with their Spring 2018 Media Mash-up Tour. They’ll be screening films and leading workshops in video making. You can catch them at…

Portland State University on Friday, May 11;

The University of Oregon on Saturday, May 12;

Seattle University on Sunday, May 13;

And in Olympia, Washington on May 14 at The Evergreen State College in the afternoon and at Traditions Fair Trade in the evening.

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief continue their speaking tour on Communities in Resistance to Disaster Capitalism and Community Organizing as Disaster Preparedness.   You can find their tour… In Odanah, Wisconsin on May 11 and 12, in Wausau, Wisconsin on May 14, in Appleton, Wisconsin on May 16 and 17, in Chicago at Breakaway Social Center on May 18 and 19, and in Madison, Wisconsin on May 20.

On May 12, 19, and 26 in Mexico City there will be do-it-yourself workshops and discussions at the squats and anarchist social centers Casa Naranja and Okupa Che Guevara. E-mail okupaomuere@riseup.net or search “okupa o muere” on facebook for more info.

Tomorrow, May 10 there will be an anti-fascist demonstration against Trump during a campaign stop in Elkhart, Indiana. The call on It’s Going Down reports that, “Originally, Trump was set to speak at a local airport in South Bend, but after calls for anti-Trump protests grew, Trump’s airport speech was cancelled and was then moved to a nearby school.” So let’s keep the momentum rolling.

From May 10 to the 13, the Chaos Days are coming back to Germany! The Chaos Days were wild gatherings that used to happen in Hannover where thousands of punks took over the city with generator shows, demonstrations, and plenty of, well, chaos. This year’s Chaos and Discussion Days will take place Berlin, and they aim to, “fill the streets and their hearts with life, organize resistance, [and] cause decentralized chaos on those days and nights.” This will immediately precede the May 14 court proceeding for the Rigaer Strasse 94 squatted social center, from which the judge could order an eviction of the squat. When Rigaerstrasse 94 was raided by pigs back in 2016, the protests that followed were dubbed by the cops and the media as “the most aggressive and most violent protest in the past five years.” So, it could be an exciting time to be in Berlin!

There’s an international call for a week of action against fossil fuel infrastructure from May 12–19.

On May 14, the Diné elders of Black Mesa and Big Mountain are calling resisters from near and far to converge at Black Mesa for a camp in defense of Diné sovereignty. The call reads, “Black Mesa is an area of ancestral Diné territory within so-called Arizona where families have been resisting forced relocation for over forty years. The elders here have steadfastly refused to cede their land to Peabody Coal and wish only to continue their traditional life and allow the land to heal. Having a continuous presence at the site will also provide a strong measure of protection against livestock impoundments, a threat the elders face on a daily basis.”

And May 19 in Portland, OR, there will be a game of Radical Capture The Flag in Colonel Summers Park at 12 PM. Bring your affinity group, bring your companion animal, bring zines, and/or bring food for the vegan potluck to follow the games.

For the rest of May and going into June, there will be a solid month of anarchy in Quebec. It starts with the Montreal anarchist film festival May 17–20, then there’s the Montreal anarchist theatre festival May 22–23, the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair May 26–27, the North American Anarchist Studies Network Conference is June 1–3 also in Montreal, and the grand finale will be the mobilization against the G7 summit, which will feature fierce anti-capitalist protests in Quebec City on June 8 and 9.

The European Animal Liberation Gathering is happening June 1–3 in Bilbao, Basque Country. Workshops will be translated into Spanish, English and French. You can find out more at animalliberationgathering.wordpress.com.

The 2018 Stockholm Anarchist bookfair takes place on June 2 and 3 in Sweden. They have a fundraising link at firefund.net/bookfair.

June 11, of course, is the international day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners. It’s a day for letter-writing, solidarity actions, fundraising, and raising awareness about our comrades on the inside—it’s a day to remember that imprisoned comrades are still a part of our movement, and we should do what we can, across the walls that separate us, to include them in our struggle.

And June 8–11 is the Fight Toxic Prisons Convergence in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which will be a good place to plug into supporting the [#Juneteenth2018](https://itsgoingdown.org/call-for-a-juneteenth2018-mobilization-against-prison-slavery/) mobilization against prison slavery. For those who don’t know, Juneteenth is an abolitionist holiday originating from the end of the Civil War. This year, the supporters behind the #OperationPush prison strike and Fight Toxic Prisons are calling, “on all opponents of mass incarceration and modern-day slavery internationally to honor the Juneteenth holiday (Tuesday, June 19, 2018) with community organizing and direct action.” We also have a recording of a letter sent by revolutionary politicized prisoner Malik Washington about why he is calling for the Juneteenth mobilization:

Malik Washington: Why I Am Calling For An International Day Of Action On Juneteenth

Keith Malik Washington

Peace and blessings, sister and brothers…

[A]s we organize for our Juneteenth rallies, protests, celebrations and direct actions, I want to make all of you understand why I have made this call to action.

In Texas, at the very end of the Maafa Black Holocaust, slave owners didn’t want to release their slaves. It was too profitable. In fact, many slaveholders had erected elaborate obstacles, which kept the news of emancipation from reaching the ears of slaves in Texas.

Texas government created a shell company known as “TCI,” also known as Texas Correctional Industries. The business model grosses approximately 89 million a year. Its labor force is made up of prisoners who work in numerous factories throughout the state, in prisons that are operated and supervised by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice…

I am calling for Juneteenth protests in order to address the absolute failure of the US government to address the plight of the DREAMers. And what of the environment, our planet, clean air, clean water? If free citizens fight for clean and safe drinking water supplies and still don’t receive it, how do you think prisoners fare when fighting a system that refuses to even acknowledge them?

…I am calling for Juneteenth protests to recognize the struggles of my sisters and brothers at Standing Rock, and to highlight the inadequacy of a government which has still not fixed the problem in Flint, Michigan, and to protest the impotent and lackluster response to the human beings in Texas who lost everything during Hurricane Harvey. The Juneteenth protests are a beginning of our organizing and actions to finally confront this filthy, rotting system you call capitalism. This is a call to action to all socialists, communists, anarchists, freedom fighters, to include antifa, black bloc, and all progressive and revolutionary New Africans. United we stand. Divided we fall. Fascists must be defeated. Dare to struggle. Dare to win. All power to the people.

REBEL GIRL: The ACAB, Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair, is happening June 22 through the 24, and they’re still looking for workshop submissions. Find out more at ACAB2018.noblogs.org.

The second annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking will take place from July 21 to the 29 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Institute for Advanced Troublemaking is a weeklong anarchist summer school offering classes on Anarcha-Feminism, Prefigurative Politics, and Communities of Care; Decolonizing Anarchism; Direct Action Praxis; Reframing Animal Liberation as an Exercise in Antiracism; Social Anarchism and Radical Ecology; Trying Anarchism for Life; and Understanding Repression and Building Resilience. You can sign up and find out more at advancedtroublemaking.wordpress.com.

And lastly, the group Jailhouse Lawyers Speak has issued a press release announcing a National Prison Strike from August 21-September 9, 2018. Their demands include immediate improvements to prison conditions and policies that recognize imprisoned peoples’ humanity, an immediate end to prison slavery, universal availability of rehabilitation programs, pell grants for prisoners, an immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws, and a few more. The press release goes on to state that prisoners will use work strikes, sit-ins, boycotts, and hunger strikes in the course of the national prison strike. We have a link in our shownotes with details about how you can support the strike.

OUTRO

REBEL GIRL: And that’s it for this episode of The Hotwire. Thanks to all of our listeners, and whether you’re tuning in for the first time or the fiftieth, please help us by filling out our listener survey at crimethinc.com/podcast. As always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music, and thanks to Malik Washington for the letter. You can get in touch with us by e-mailing podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com.

Stay informed. Stay rebel. And have a hot summer of resistance!

Categories: News

Report-back from the 2018 CLAC May Day Demo

It's Goin Down - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 22:38

The post Report-back from the 2018 CLAC May Day Demo appeared first on It's Going Down.

This following report back on May Day was originally published on Montreal Counter-Info.

CLAC organized its annual May Day demonstration on the theme of the G7 this year. The planet’s most powerful will gather June 8th and 9th for a major meeting in the Charlevoix region.

This year, May Day saw the unions agreeing to accommodate the bosses’ calendar by holding a march Saturday April 28th, gathering several thousand people.

On the first of May, three demonstrations were called in Montreal: CLAC’s at Parc Lafontaine, the Revolutionary Communist Party’s in the Golden Square Mile, and the IWW’s in Parc-Extension.

About 200 people gathered towards 6pm at the southwest corner of Parc Lafontaine for the CLAC demo. Lots of police were deployed all around with bike cops as well as numerous buses of riot police. The SPVM had made up its mind to let no one demonstrate on this May Day. The crowd growing gradually, one noticed the presence of about forty individuals putting on black clothing, looking to form a black bloc more consequential than in recent demos in Montreal. The riot cops chose to move in closer to leave the small crowd no room to maneuver.

Just before the departure, some speeches were given on the ravages of capitalism locally and elsewhere. The demo then took the street towards 6:30pm on Sherbrooke, going west. The cops then decided to take the sidewalk on the north side to begin forming a kind of moving kettle around the demo. A small but very determined black bloc did not want to allow them this space prized by the Urban Brigade which gains considerable tactical advantage from it. By taking the sidewalk, the Urban Brigade is able to control the whole of the demo, in that it can decide where to direct the crowd. This greatly limits attacks on symbols of capitalism, such as banks. Taking the sidewalk should be a collective reflex of the demo, because having a demo encircled by the SPVM is a problem for everyone. If removing the cops from the sides remains the work of a small part of the demonstration, it will remain very difficult to hold the street in Montreal in a more combative way.

Protected by banners the black bloc decided to empty a fire extinguisher, throw bricks and rocks, and shoot fireworks at the cops, to force them to make a retreat. While the cops backed up a bit, a number of them choosing to hide behind parked cars in fear, the strategy was not as effective as hoped, as the demo found itself split in two with the arrival of a second Urban Brigade on the other side, which pushed the rear of the demo back east and made one arrest. At this moment the police rapidly regained control of the situation, deploying riot cops on the streets north and south of Sherbrooke. People had no choice but to disperse or return to Parc Lafontaine just five minutes after the start. It wasn’t the clash with the cops that forced the dispersal, but rather the arrival of cops from all sides in large numbers.

The dispersal was also facilitated by the lack of closer links between people in the demo. Being able to keep a much more compact unity could have limited the damage caused by the cops’ intervention. Keeping a slower pace and ensuring that no one is isolated at the front or the back could have possibly allowed the demo to go on for longer. The cops prepare for annual demos like May Day months in advance, and they seek to disperse us as quickly as possible. Finding ways to unite the intentions of every person who shows up is difficult, but it remains the key to continuing to hold the street.

This is a text that calls for others: how did you experience this May Day, and what could be done so that we continue to find each other in the street?

Categories: News

The Final Straw Radio: 8th Anniversary Episode

Anarchist News - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 22:29

From The Final Straw Radio

8th Anniversary Episode

May 9, 2018

The Final Straw has an irregular tradition of using our anniversary to air conversations with other projects that produce anarchist media. In past episodes, linked in the notes for this special, you can find chats from past anniversaries. This time around, we are featuring two interviews.

First, you'll hear audio from the regular host of the ItsGoingDown podcast. The IGDcast is a weekly podcast produced by It's Going Down which features interviews with participants in social movements, struggles, rebellions, projects, thinkers, and organizers, mostly focused on anti-capitalist, anarchist, antifascist, autonomous and anti-colonial activities in North American. For the interview, we talk about the past of the IGDcast, what it covers, the state of radical media and mainstream interventions and some of their plans for the future.

Then we bring you a chat with Linda Rose, the main host of Subversion1312. Subversion1312, inheritor of The Anarchy Show, airs in Brisbane, Australia on 4zzz radio. Linda Rose and I speak about the history of the show, which has run in various forms for over two decades, anarchist approaches in Australia to anti-colonial struggle, spaces and scenes in Australia, feminism interventions against so-called "Men's Rights Activists", with a special appearance by Mark, the international pop sensation and occasional co-host.

Enjoy!

Tags: The Final StrawaudiopodcastIGDInterviewcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Pennsylvania Lawmaker Advancing Pro-Fracking Legislation Profits from Leasing his Land to Drillers

deSmog - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 22:26
Eugene Yaw

A Pennsylvania state senator, who is responsible for a slew of legislation favoring the oil and gas industry, leases his own land to fracking companies, recent disclosure documents show. Last year, veteran lawmaker Gene Yaw of Lycoming County profited from royalties he received from several different drillers.  

Tags: pennsylvaniafrackingAnadarko PetroleumGene YawConflicts of InterestStatoilChesapeake Operating Inc.
Categories: News

TFN #8: Calling in Sick to Riot

Anarchist News - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 22:17

From sub.media

For well over a hundred years, peeps around the world celebrate May Day by taking to the streets, fighting the cops, and destroying symbols of capitalism. This week, we took a look at some of the best riots of May Day 2018, from Santiago, Chile to Paris, France.

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TFN #8: Calling in Sick to Riot from sub.Media on Vimeo.

Tags: submediavideoriot pornmay daythe fucking newscategory: Projects
Categories: News

Are You Radical Enough to Be a Relationship Anarchist?

Anarchist News - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 21:45

From GQ

Polyamory is so 2017.

When I first heard the term "relationship anarchy," I found it infuriatingly pretentious. “Simmer...the fuck...down!” I thought. Anarchy is a fine and dandy concept, but let’s be real: Very few of us are actually living as imposed-authority-is-no-good anarchists, even in Trumpland 2018. Those who do identify as anarchists are too often leftist bros who had their girlfriend iron an anarchist patch onto their denim vests. Yes, I said it. So when I heard about relationship anarchy, I assumed these dudes had gone to Burning Man, learned about polyamory, and begun identifying as relationship anarchists as another way to use supposed self-reliance, leftist politics, and feminism to excuse their commitment issues and desire for multiple girlfriends. As I learned more about relationship anarchy, I came to see that it has its perks, even if the label is a little bit over the top. So, what does it mean?

RA uses anarchist concepts to deny hierarchy within relationships and forgo imposed expectations. Relationship anarchists don’t apply different values to their relationships: A relationship that is sexual doesn’t take priority over a relationship that is platonic. For a relationship anarchist, an intimate friendship, a sexual partner, and a roommate may all have equal weight and importance.

Additionally, relationship anarchists take things as they come and have no set expectations, unlike monogamous relationships and even most polyamorous ones: In polyamorous partnerships, there’s still an assumption that if you’re in love and partnered with someone, when you wake up tomorrow, they’ll still be there and accountable for you. Relationship anarchists don't have that, but they're not devoid of commitment. They just believe that all parties involved have total freedom and flexibility in what that commitment looks like.

Relationship anarchy is a label used by some polyamorous people, but not all relationship anarchists identify as polyamorists. "Hierarchical poly" is what most of us think of when we consider polyamory: In a hierarchical poly situation you have a primary partner, which is a relationship that may even appear monogamous to outsiders, but you also have secondary partners. "Solo poly," in which all sexual partners are given equal standing, is probably the relationship format closest to relationship anarchy. However, relationship anarchy is not the same as solo polyamory, because RAs reject sex and romance as an inherent aspect of their partnerships (a solo poly person would probably not put their platonic roommate on the same pedestal as their sexual partners).

The term “relationship anarchy” was probably coined by Andie Nordgren, a Swedish activist who wrote the relationship anarchy manifesto in 2012. Nordgren explains that “love is abundant, and every relationship is unique.” Nordgren suggests that love is not a finite resource and asks you to “customize your commitments” and design your own relationship responsibilities based on desire rather than societal pressure. It sounds like it takes incredible trust, maturity, and a ton of work. But, then again, so do all successful relationships. I’m in a monogamous relationship, but I believe that we all have a lot to learn from the tenets of polyamory, from how polyamorists navigate jealousy to how they examine what binds you and your primary partner together beyond than sexual exclusivity (i.e. true love). And even if the name “relationship anarchist” makes your eyes to roll back into their sockets when you come across one on Tinder, you might be more of relationship anarchist than you think.

For instance: My boyfriend is my intimate partner, my bringer of orgasms, my trusted friend, and the person with whom I’m planning a shared life with. But I also have a best friend who lives next door to me and occasionally even spends the night in my bed, even though we don’t hook up. My other best friend is a woman I used to date and still love, but who is no longer a romantic or sexual partner. Likewise, my boyfriend has close and intimate friendships with people whom he was once sexually involved with. Despite our commitment to one another, we also give each another room for those other intimate relationships. Are we relationship anarchists tricking ourselves into believing we’re monogamous based on imposed societal structures?

The answer is no, but also sort of? In the relationship anarchy manifesto, Nordgren states: “Don’t rank and compare people and relationships—cherish the individual and your connection to them.” For many people, a commitment to a primary or monogamous partner best suits their desires and needs. Those people might read about “customizing their commitments” and feel that they have already done that by entering a monogamous relationship. But other people may read the relationship anarchy manifesto and feel like they’ve finally found a sensible way to balance all their relationships.

Whether you enjoy your relationships without hierarchy, or if you love the romance of committing yourself to one person who comes before everyone else, there’s one line from the relationship anarchy manifesto, in the section named “Trust is better,” that’s so soothing that I have to share it: “Choosing to assume that your partner does not wish you harm leads you down a much more positive path than a distrustful approach where you need to be constantly validated by the other person to trust that they are there with you in the relationship,” Nordgren writes. A toxic relationship trap many people fall into, which I am certainly guilty of, is assuming that my partner is going to betray me at some point. It’s a cynical, nasty, jealous place to be in. Could my partner truly love me, never wish me harm, and have my best interests in mind? That’s a really nice mindset. Relationship anarchists don’t disregard commitment; they just go about it very differently than monogamists do. Whether you think of your friends as being separate from your romantic partner, but not someone you’d walk down the aisle for (in relationship anarchy, it’s totally chill to marry a platonic partner), or want everyone to have the same power, imagine how healthy your relationships would be if you assumed that the people who loved us had our best interests in mind. Now that is radical.

Tags: MSMrelationshipssexcategory: Other
Categories: News

The Hotwire #31: May 9, 2018

Anarchist News - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 21:37

From CrimethInc.

Repression in Indonesia—Hamilton rent strike—J20 on May 14—events all summer

Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com.

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Full Episode Transcript

Summary

Our last episode of the season! This episode is chocked full of May Day repression updates—from FBI visits in Washington state to the dozens of anarchists rounded up in Indonesia. The New School in New York City is occupied once again, and we have an audio report! The next J20 trial begins in less than a week. Teachers, tenants, and fast food workers are getting organized and striking back against their bosses and landlords. We close the episode with a long list of summertime anarchist fun that you can get into before we’re back in the fall with more Hotwires. Make sure to check out our listeners survey and e-mail it to us!

Notes and Links
  • Table of Contents:
    • Introduction {0:00}
    • Headlines: {1:22}
    • Repression Roundup {15:40}
    • Next Week’s News {24:20}
  • Download 29:30 minutes long version

  • LISTENER SURVEY (please e-mail to podcast@crimethinc.com)
    • 1) How often do you listen to the Hotwire?

      - More than once a week

      - Weekly

      - Once a month

      - Once a month or more, but I binge multiple episodes at once
  • 2) How often, if ever, do you use…

    - The shownotes?

    - The phone numbers for call-in campaigns?

    - Next Week’s News announcements?

    - References to past episodes and other podcasts

  • 3) What are the Hotwire’s greatest strengths? Biggest weaknesses?

  • 4) Our shows have progressively increased from 30 minutes to up to 45 minutes. Is keeping the show to strictly 30 minutes important? How long is too long for an episode?

  • 5) What topics are most useful/interesting when we cover them? What kind of coverage is lacking?

  • Dozens of anarchists have been rounded up in Indonesia, and legal defense funds are needed. Go here to find out how to help.

  • J20 support:
    • Countering State Repression With Daniel McGowan

      Thursday, May 10 at 7 PM

      St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church

      1525 Newton St NW, Washington DC, 20010

      Free

    • Rally to Drop J20 with Chelsea Manning and former defendants

      Friday, May 11 at 12:30 PM

      Franklin Square, Washington DC

    • Call-in campaign May 10–11. Please be aware that your calls are likely recorded and we do not advise answering any questions about your identity. Please use your best discretion if referencing anything that occured on January 20th so as to not negatively impact the ongoing case.
      • Jennifer Kerkhoff – Lead Prosectuor on the case, Deputy Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section (202) 252–7380
      • Lisa Greene – The Deputy Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252–7485
      • Richard Tischner – The Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252–7274
      • US Attorney for DC Jessie Liu – The person in charge of the US Attorney’s office, a Trump appointee (202) 252–7566
      • Rizwan Qureshi - Assistant J20 prosecutor (general line - use directory/operator) (202) 252–7679
      • John Gidez – The Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section, Kerkhoff’s colleague (202) 252–6752
      • John Borchert - Assistant J20 prosecutor (esp. Dreamhost and Facebook warrants) (202) 252–7679
    • Here’s a sample script to get you started!

      “Hello. My name is __________. (first name is fine)

      I am calling about the inauguration day protesters still facing trumped up criminal charges. Your office needs to drop these remaining charges. There is no good reason your office should be pursuing these charges when six people have already been found NOT GUILTY on all counts in the first trial. Again, your office should drop the remaining charges. Over the last year these prosecutions have pushed all limits: Intimidation to coerce plea deals by making inflated charges. Shielding law enforcement from public accountability by issuing gag orders. Disrupting people’s lives by making overblown charges and using those to justify intrusive, extensive investigations meant to build those cases. overall strategy to intimidate activists, disrupt social movements and silence dissent by weaponizing the use of trumped up charges is not going unnoticed. Your office has the power to end the repression and intimidation. Drop the charges now.”

  • Sub.Media’s Spring 2018 Media Mash-up Tour:
    • May 11, Portland State University 
Workshop 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Public screening 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Smith Memorial Union 026 Hosted by Radical Education PSU
    • May 12, The University of Oregon
      6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Hosted by Radical Organizing and Activism Resource Center & the Civil Liberties Defense Center
    • May 13, Seattle University
    • May 14, Olympia, Washington
      Chop Chop Video Making workshop Multimedia Lab 1404 in the Library Building Monday, May 14th 2018 * Workshop from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. *Ten participant limit! Email info@naaame.org. Public Screening at Traditions Fair Trade 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 300 5th Ave SW, Olympia, WA

      Hosted by The Black Cottonwood Collective
  • Mutual Aid Disaster Relief tour
    • May 11 at 6 PM at Bad River Dept of Social & Family Services 72772 Elm Street, Odanah, WI 54861
    • May 12 at 10 AM at Bad River Dept of Social & Family Services 72772 Elm Street, Odanah, WI 54861
    • May 14 at 4 PM at YWCA Wausau 613 5th St, Wausau, WI 54403
    • May 16 at 7 PM at The Train Station 302 S Story St., Appleton, WI 54914
    • May 17 at 7 PM at The Train Station 302 S Story St., Appleton, WI 54914
    • May 18 at 7 PM at Breakaway Social Center 2424 S. Western Ave (rear) Chicago, IL 60608
    • May 19 at 9 PM at Breakaway Social Center 2424 S. Western Ave (rear) Chicago, IL 60608
    • May 20 at 10 AM at Art In 1444 E. Washington Ave Madison, WI 53703
  • May/June: a month of anarchy in Quebec
  • June 11, the international day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners, is coming up soon. Start planning a letter writing night, a solidarity action, or some other way to let our comrades on the inside know that they are in our hearts and minds.

  • Check out The second annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking July 21–29 in Worcester, Massachusetts.

  • Use this straightforward guide to writing prisoners from New York City Anarchist Black Cross to write to
    a birthday letter to Xinachtli, formerly Alvaro Luna Hernandez:

    Xinachtli* #255735

    James V Allred Unit

    2101 FM 369 North

    Iowa Park, Texas 76367

    *Address envelope to Alvaro Luna Hernandez.

    (Birthday: May 12, 2018)

  • Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain has called for a campaign to get his communication turned back on. Please call:
    • Kevin O’Donnell Stanek, Asst. Chief Counsel to Governor Kasich: (614) 466- 3555;
    • State Representative Doug Green (614) 644–6034;
    • State Representative Hearcel F. Craig (614) 466–8010;
    • State Representative Greta Johnson (614) 466–6037.

    Sample script: “I’m calling to bring to your attention an illegal effort by prison officials to terrorize an Ohio prisoner. The prisoner, Sean Swain, is a model prisoner, a published writer and a radio personality on a globally-syndicated radio show. Because Sean exposed how prison employees who were directed by ODRC Counsel Trevor Clark intercepted and stole Sean’s mail from courts to hide their crimes, prison officials have shut down all of Sean’s communication to the outside world…to his family, his friends, and even to the courts. Prison officials are blocking Sean’s phone, email, and even regular mail. Their goal is not just to silence him, but to cut him off from everyone who loves him and drive him to suicide.

    “I want you to know that I’m signing an online petition that has 50,000 signatures already, demanding that the director of prisons resign, and I’m urging your office to make arrangements to speak with Sean. You can contact him by phone at the prison by calling his Case Manager K. Baessler at: (513) 932–3388, ext. 84405 or ext. 84410. Please know that if anything happens to Sean while he’s being illegally silenced, I know a lot of registered voters, including me, who will hold your office responsible. The eyes of the world are watching.“

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS:

  • For last Hotwire’s May Day roundup we reported that a Wells Fargo in Seattle had been smashed up and graffitied, but it in fact was in Olympia, Washington. Also, the US Bank that was smashed in Olympia was on May 2, not May 1.
Tags: Crimethinc.audiopodcastthe hotwirecategory: Projects
Categories: News

May Day Report from Indonesian Anarchists

Anarchist News - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 21:22

From It's Going Down

Following statement was sent to It’s Going Down from one group of anarchists in Indonesia and addresses the repression and blow back the growing movement has faced in the wake of militant May Day actions. The anarchist movement in Indonesia is growing, and includes a variety of organizations and initiatives. Read another statement on May Day here.

Although this is an exclusive communique towards Yogyakarta or Indoenesian in general, we call for international pressure and solidarity of this rotten feudal system that still exist in this century!

Greetings to the beloved people of Yogyakarta, those who vilify our demonstration which was intentionally intended to censure the institution of Kraton in Yogyakarta.

Believe us when we say that we already knew, even since before we carried out our demonstration, that there would be an antipathy from the public towards our demonstration. It is very understandable. Feudalism creates this belief that kings and the royals are like half-divine beings; their authority is sacred and self-justified. Someone becomes a ruler in a feudal system because they happened to be born in the right family: the royal family. The whole feudal territory is the property of the king and his royal family, and the people are just occupants who can be evicted any time at the king’s will. The sytem is perpetuated by, among other things, this irrational belief towards the feudal rule.

In Yogyakarta, feudalism is what makes Yogyakarta “special”. Politically, this special status means Yogyakarta is not governed by an elected governer like other provinces in Indonesia. Instead, the region is governed by a governer who is also a Sultan. Socio-culturally, this special status has another meaning; it gives a false sense of pride to the people of Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is special because it is ruled by a Sultan, and the people are proud about it.

How is being ruled by someone with an unchecked power something that you can take pride of? What is so proudful from being a subordinate of another human being, solely because they were born in the royal family? Our demonstration was not meant to draw sympathy. If drawing sympathy was what we were aiming, we wouldn’t have done a demonstration that disturbed the reproduction of social values like what we did. No, our demonstration was not intended for that. We are not a political party, a “leftist” organization, an NGO, or the proponents of the incumbent rulers or their opposistions, who need people’s endorsement and sympathy.

WE ARE ALSO NOT PART OF PMII; FAIZI ZAIN AND HIS CRONIES WHO EXPECTED A RIOT TO LIFT THEIR AGENDA OF OVERTHROWING JOKOWI FOR THE BENEFITS OF THEIR POLITICAL MASTERS! THEY ARE POWER BROKERS! WE ARE NOT!

Our demonstration was meant to disturb the circulation of capital in Yogyakarta. We intentionally want to create a non-condusive situation for capital investment, be it national or foreign, that will intensify the development and gentrification that disenfranchise the middle and lower class people in Yogyakarta. We had guessed that the public would be infuriated by our vandalism and provocative calls.

The destruction of one police post and the call to “murder the Sultan!” have massively angered the people of Yogyakarta. The anger is absent when the police repeatedly, with violence, is at the front line of conflicts between people’s interests and the rulers’, on the side of the rulers’ of course, like the one in Temon, Kulonprogo, where there is an on-going process of land-grabbing by the Sultan through the legitimation of Sultan Ground/Pakualaman Ground, a feudal land ownership system, on behalf of the expantion of tourism industry capital. The anger is also absent when the inhabitants of the urban kampungs (informal settlements, slums) have to deal with water shortage, caused by the usage of ground water by hotels and apartments, which construction is being intensified, under the blessing of the Sultan of course.

That call to “murder the Sultan!” that have angered some people of Yogyakarta, whether we wrote down the call or not, whether the call was literal or symbolic, has its own importance in rattling the authority of the Sultan in Yogyakarta, which is seemingly sacred and unquestionable; a power with no control mechanism because it is protected by “faith” towards the Sultan’s self-justified authority. This “faith” is responsible for the disenfranchisement of the people. Sooner or later, you who are reading this will probably be disenfranchised by the “development” in Yogyakarta too. A “development” for the interests of the Sultan and his cronies; local and national corporations; domestic and foreign investors.

Yes, the Sultan is one of the main orchestrators of many problems in Yogyakarta; eviction, land-grabbing, gentrification, and the development that disenfranchise middle and lower class people. The Sultan and his royal family, and also his cronies, are the ones who dominate every economic aspect in Yogyakarta.

Yogyakarta is one of the most economically unequal provinces in Indonesia. The development in Yogyakarta is not carried out for the interests of the people, but for the interests of the ruling class: the capitalists and the feudals. In Yogyakarta, the two vile sytems are having an affair, while crushing the people under; those who aren’t the royals and are the middle and lower class.

Mothers, aren’t you tired of having to visit your children at prisons, twice a week, who probably had to steal or rob people just to survive? And the reason why they are in these overpopulated prisons in Yogyarta is the deeply rooted poverty that is prevalent in Yogyakarta. Does your Sultan care?

And then, are we gonna keep fooling ourselves, thinking to oursevels that everything is fine? Or even, “special”? We have no interest in being admired. We are not a political party who need people’s votes on elections.

We are just people who are sick. Sick of everything that is going on around us and how the people are lulled by this false consciousness, telling them that everything is fine.

We’re calling to the middle and lower class people, intellectuals, artists, academics, those who claim to be liberals and moderates, and others who choose to be “neutral”. Do you remember the historical event that gave birth to the concept of modern nation-state? The period that you call the Enlightment Period, where the kings, queens, and the royals were guillotined at the Place de la Révolution. Didn’t it create what you call as democracy?

We don’t mean to repeat or glorify history. The democracy that you uphold and sell out is not bringing us anywhere other than to poverty, ecological degradation, and disfranchisement.

We are the libertarians. We are what you call as anarchists. We dream of a world where people cooperate with each other, work together, rule over themselves, in a horizontal way, without rulers, the royals, political contract, social contract, or the capitalists. We want a life in its truest form, where human’s natural desires are in tune with nature; a life without class, racial, ethnic, religious, and other false divides.

We are what you call utopians.

We want a free society without oppressors. We want a society where people can have any beliefs, sexual orientations, or anything without fearing being persecuted. Total freedom!

– The Anarchists

Tags: it's going downcategory: International
Categories: News

April 19th Uprising in Nicaragua: Interview, Overview & Analysis

It's Goin Down - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 21:06

The post April 19th Uprising in Nicaragua: Interview, Overview & Analysis appeared first on It's Going Down.

CrimethInc. offers up an analyis and play by play of the recent riots and rebellion in Nicaragua.

In April, a countrywide revolt broke out in Nicaragua against neoliberal reforms introduced by the government of Daniel Ortega, a Sandinista revolutionary from the 1980s. We worked with Nicaraguan anarchists who participated at the forefront of the movement to bring you the following interview, offering an overview of the events and an analysis of the difficulties of organizing against leftist authoritarian governments while resisting right-wing cooptation.

The FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) overthrew the US-backed military dictatorship of Somoza in 1979 and held power from 1979 to 1990. [For a brief summary of US interventions in Nicaragua during that time, read this text by Noam Chomsky.] After 16 years of neoliberal governments, the FSLN returned to power in 2006, establishing an authoritarian administration that mixes socialism with neoliberalism, creating new economic elites while offering social support programs to the lower classes. The government is controlled by the presidential couple: President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President, Rosario Murillo.

The situation in Nicaragua right now reminds us of what happened in Brazil in 2013, when anarchists catalyzed a popular social movement against the neoliberal policies of the “left” government of the Workers Party. At first, this movement was pluralistic, including the anti-authoritarian horizontalism of the anarchists who started it and a vague popular opposition utilizing nationalistic symbols. Yet over the following years, as the police state cracked down on anarchists, right-wing reactionaries were able to take advantage of popular discontent to topple the Workers Party government and institute an even more reactionary administration. This provoked many people to rally to the same Workers Party that had originally betrayed them, sidelining anarchists and setting the stage for ever bloodier state repression.

Apologists for the authoritarian left will use the events in Brazil as an excuse to delegitimize uprisings like the one in Nicaragua. But these uprisings are catalyzed by real problems. Defending left regimes as “the lesser of two evils” only ensures that people will continue to side with the other evil against them. We have to support popular uprisings in a way that opens a space for grassroots, horizontal movements to develop.

All around the world, similar stories are playing out as authoritarian parties from the left and right attempt to monopolize the field of political possibility between them while implementing different versions of the same neoliberal agenda. Both sides benefit from reducing politics to this dichotomy. Because all the charges that each party levels against the others are absolutely true, each can point to the others’ misdeeds to rally support. So long as we can only imagine choosing between left and right parties, we will never be able to free ourselves of the hierarchies and injustices that both sides are determined to impose on us.

Anarchists can identify several errors that can arise in popular uprisings. The discourse of “fighting corruption,” widespread from Nicaragua to Armenia, appears to offer a point of departure to build popular movements that are critical of the government. Yet in fact, by implying that government could function properly if not for the corruption of specific politicians, this discourse legitimizes government itself, distracting from the systemic problems created by capitalism and setting the stage for new politicians to replace the old ones in an endless cycle. That explains why this rhetoric has been so useful to demagogues like Donald Trump who charge their enemies with corruption in order to take power and do the same things themselves.

Likewise, nationalism can appear to offer a platform for people to come together on a common basis against the authorities; think of the national flags that were widespread during the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, or the popular chant during the Egyptian revolution of 2011, “Muslim—Christian—We are all Egyptian.” Yet these old symbols always set the stage for new authoritarians to take power as the “true” representatives of the nation: remember how political parties like Syriza coopted and destroyed the movements of 2011, and how the Egyptian military took power in 2013 in a coup draped in Egyptian flags.

In the coming years, anarchists and other participants in social movements will have to develop a more nuanced analysis of how to present a third option in the conflict between authoritarian leftists and right-wing nationalists. We will have to find ways to critique the neoliberal policies of left governments like those in Nicaragua and Brazil that do not play into the hands of right-wing neoliberals. This is one of the most pressing questions facing us today.

Here follows the interview from our contacts in Nicaragua.

A barricade with a Nicaraguan flag.

I am a part of an affinity group of six people. We’ve all worked together since 2015. The majority of us identify as queer; we are employed in very different sectors. Arts, culture, feminism, and politics brought us together.

Both of my parents are historians. They both received their master’s degrees in History at the UNAN [Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, National Autonomous University of Nicaragua]. My mother is a feminist and my father is an ex-military poet.

Timeline of Events

Throughout the events, I posted updates on my SoundCloud, starting here. You can find an archive of material we compiled during the events here.

You can also search for the hashtags #OcupaINSS, #SOSINSS, #SOSIndioMaiz, and #SOSNicaragua on Twitter and Facebook.

April 2018

The first protest was a demonstration demanding immediate action from the authorities to extinguish a large-scale fire in the most important nature reserve in the country, Reserva Indio Maiz.1 The government did not listen to the protestors’ call to action, which was basically a demand to recognize the damage done by illegal cattle farms in indigenous territory. The fire lasted ten days; it was finally extinguished with the assistance of the military, indigenous volunteers, and international solidarity (e.g., a helicopter sent by Mexico).

This environmental disaster ignited environmental and social activism, shedding light on the government’s colonial practices and on its resource-intensive neoliberal interventions in indigenous territories, such as promoting cattle grazing and monocrops like palm for palm oil. This movement was called #SOSIndioMaiz. It successfully organized three protests in the capital city, Managua. I participated in this organizational committee; it has now been dissolved, with several members creating other groups.

April 16

To add to this social discontent, the Ortega Regime announced reforms to social security including an increase in contributions for employees and employers, a decrease in future pensions, and a fee from every retiree’s pension. The controversial reform was intended to save the social security institute from a deficit crisis. The INSS has repeatedly been accused of approving millions of dollars in private loans to government officials. Essentially, workers and retirees were to be forced to pay for the corruption and mismanagement of the social security funds (INSS).

A previous social justice movement had emerged in 2013 under the name of #OcupaINSS. In response to the proposed social security reforms, this group of young organizers joined a group of elderly social security recipients who had started protesting because they were the ones who were going to suffer the most.

April 18

The #OcupaINSS movement joined together with the #SOSIndioMaiz movement. Protests took place in two locations, in front of the Universidad Centroamericana and in Camino de Oriente (a plaza beside one of the busiest roads in Managua) on Wednesday, April 18. The government brutally attacked both of these protests, sending the police and its paramilitary forces (Motorizados2 and Sandinista Youth—see below) to attack the demonstrators. At 5 pm, anti-riot police (Anti-Motines) surrounded and dispersed protesters in Camino de Oriente. The protest in front of UCA escalated inside and around the University perimeters. More than 20 people were severely injured.

April 19

The entire country mobilized in protest in response to the news of the previous night’s repression of #OcupaINSS in UCA and in Camino de Oriente.

The government began censoring independent news channels on national television. They also ordered some hospitals not to aid wounded demonstrators. After the stations were removed from the airwaves, people followed them on social media. Pro-government mobs attacked students inside several university campuses.

The following universities were closed and occupied by students. Nicaraguan police and members from the Sandinista Youth clashed with protestors inside and outside these facilities.

  • Universidad Agraria (UNA) – A public university focused on agroindustry. They started in the morning, taking over the North Highway near the airport.
  • Universidad CentroAmericana (UCA) – A semi-private university serving middle-class and upper middle-class student, recently criticized for restructuring their research and humanities departments.
  • Universidad de Ingenieria (UNI) – A public university for engineering. UCA and UNI saw the most intense clashes at the beginning, after which the confrontations chiefly occurred around UPOLI.
  • Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua (UPOLI) – A public university.
  • UNAN – The largest public university, with about 50,000 students; controlled by UNEN, the pro-government student “union.” UNAN has been a stronghold for UNEN. I live right in front of this university.

Protests were reported all over the country. It was especially significant that protests took place in Monimbo, Masaya, Leon, Matagalpa, and Estelí, because they have been traditionally pro-government sites. The fact that resistance erupted there was a blow to the state and the power of UNEN. Granada and Leon are the most important tourist destinations in the country.

The government had made several statements advocating for peace and dialogue as the police and Sandinista Youth violently attacked peaceful protestors. They would also set up PA systems to blast revolutionary songs and sing them together, protected by the police.

This was the first time that a nationwide strike had occurred at this magnitude since the “6%” student protests in the late 1990s [described below].

President Daniel Ortega.

April 20

Protests continued throughout the country as anti-riot police intensified their attacks. They raided locations where civilians were organizing medicine and food donations for protesters and stole them.

At approximately 3 pm, the largest demonstration yet gathered in Carretera Masaya, one of the main roads in Managua. Paramilitary forces attacked using tear gas and rubber bullets. Later that night, in Managua, Sandinista Youth and police surrounded students and activists inside the cathedral, UNI (the national engineering university), and UPOLI (the polytechnic university). Police attacked Leon, where several buildings caught fire, including civilian households, a radio station, restaurants, and CUUN (the national university council of UNAN Leon). Masaya and Esteli were also attacked and occupied by paramilitary forces. In Granada, the city hall was burned down. Several people were killed and dozens reported missing.

April 21

Confrontations continued throughout Nicaragua. There were demonstrations at several Nicaraguan embassies abroad. The government agreed to discuss social security reforms with COSEP, the private enterprise council. Many rejected the proposal, demanding that representatives from other organizations and movements be invited to the negotiations as well. At 12:30 pm, in his first address to the nation since protests began, Daniel Ortega called the demonstrators a “group of criminals and thugs that promote a culture of violence.” He did not mention the murders of activists and students, nor the censorship of television channels.

Confrontations continued after Ortega’s address. Protests turned violent in several cities including Leon, Diriamba, Jinotepe, Matagalpa, and Chinandega. Students at UPOLI, the polytechnic university, continued protesting against police repression. The Nicaraguan army released a statement backing the government’s request for dialogue with COSEP, the private enterprise council, and demanding an end to police repression, the release of the detained students and activists, and the guarantee of free press without censorship. At 4 pm, the self-assembled movement, Movimiento Autoconvocado Nicaragua, released a statement demanding public negotiations including a variety of Nicaraguan sectors, labeling a dialogue between COSEP and the government a “pact.” As of 5 pm, the death toll was reported to be between 25 and 30, with 64 injured, 43 missing, and over 20 detained.

April 22

As protests continued, looting took place around several cities. President Daniel Ortega addressed the nation for the second time, revoking the social security reforms in a televised announcement. He was accompanied by several top-ranking representatives from free trade zones in Nicaragua. Ortega briefly mourned the deaths of civilians, police, and journalists, without mentioning the violence of the Sandinista Youth and police. The president continued to describe protestors defending themselves as “thugs and gang members,” comparing them to looters. After his statement, another protest was called for; popular outrage had gone beyond the social security reforms to extend to violent repression and government corruption.

Daniel Ortega’s speech on April 22, complete with a letter from an English-speaker representing the business interests in Nicaragua.

After Ortega’s address, people took the streets again demanding justice and mourning those who had been killed by the national police. COSEP demanded that the government take into consideration their proposed terms and conditions for a dialogue and negotiations to take place, and confirmed the march they had announced for the next day, Monday, April 23. At approximately 9 pm, students at the polytechnic university, UPOLI, reported being brutally attacked by the police while they were paying their respects to the fallen victims. Francisco Diaz, second in command of the national police, claimed that police forces were nowhere near UPOLI, despite accusations from students in the area. According to la Prensa, at least one student was killed and five injured by gunshots.

April 23

Students at UPOLI confirmed the death of two students and about eleven injured from the previous night’s police attack. They also announced they would not be attending the march announced by COSEP, as they would not be leaving the university grounds. The “self-assembled movement,” movimiento autoconvocado Nicaragua, called for another march at the same time but with a different route than COSEP’s, stating that COSEP did not represent them. Vice President Rosario Murillo announced that the decree read by Ortega on Sunday revoking the social security reforms had been published by the government’s gazette, making it official. Approximately 70,000 to 80,000 people marched together to UPOLI, carrying Nicaraguan flags, chanting for the end of repression, and calling for justice for the deceased, detained, and missing. Students at UPOLI welcomed the demonstrators and demanded the resignation of several government officials including Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. They announced a march from UPOLI to the police station in District 6 on Tuesday, April 24, to demand the liberation of the illegally detained students and civilians. Since Friday, families of the detained had been protesting outside El Chipote, the judicial assistance department.

April 24

The massive march culminated with the removal of another “Chayopalo” [one of the big pieces of public art introduced by the Ortega family] in Managua. Students at UPOLI reported attacks by policemen dressed as civilians around 3 am. In the morning, detainees were released from “La modelo,” Managua’s penitentiary in Tipitapa, in groups of 15 or less along a remote road with shaved heads, barefoot, with 20 c$ (0.64 usd) in their hands. They described being tortured by policemen but aided by prisoners, who were consequently tortured as well. A journalist was also released in Leon.

After trying to reach Managua for two days, participants in the peasant movement in Nueva Guinea, Rio San Juan, and Ometepe resorted to road blockades to support the protests. This movement joined calls for a national strike. The bodies of two missing youths suddenly appeared at the Institute of Medical Forensics (IML) in Managua after their families had searched for them at different hospitals. Ortega’s government began removing state-sponsored wifi from public parks. Sectors of the formal labor market resumed operations and city halls began cleaning up damaged roads. Around 6 pm, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua announced that they would mediate the dialogue between Ortega, the private sector, and other civic groups. At 7 pm, Ortega interrupted national television to accept the Episcopal Conference’s announcement.

April 25

A week after the protests erupted, a sense of eerie calm arose in response to the promise of dialogue. Confrontations ceased; however, the death toll continued to rise as the bodies of students reported missing were identified. Bishop Baez, a key figure of support for protestors who was included in the mediation commission, stated that optimal conditions for dialogue should include prosecuting those responsible for the murders and other acts of violent repression. In a statement from students at UPOLI, the self-proclaimed “Movimiento estudiantil 19 de abril,” they accepted the invitation to participate in the dialogue as long as their safety was guaranteed during and after the meeting. Several retired and active political figures jockeyed to participate in the dialogue, including former military chief Humberto Ortega Saavedra, the liberal party (PLC), and Telemaco Talavera, president of both the National University Council (CNU) and UNA (National Agrarian University). A statement denying support for the participation of Talavera in the dialogue was signed by 160 faculty members at UNA, arguing that he represented conflicting entities. In the afternoon, demonstrators held a march to accompany the families of those still detained at “El chipote.” Several vigils to honor the victims of police repression took place nationwide.

April 26

Anonymous, the world-famous hacktivist group, announced that they hacked several government websites in response to the repression against the Nicaraguan people. The website for congress was one of the hacked pages and stayed offline for a couple of hours. These interventions were widely celebrated on social media. Nevertheless, several of us were wary of the fact that Anonymous further legitimized the Orteguistas’ claim that foreign powers—i.e., the USA—are intervening in Nicaraguan affairs.

The public prosecutor’s office announced that they will be investigating all thefts, injuries, and deaths that resulted from the demonstrations. Earlier that day, the Nicaraguan human rights association, ANPDH, publicly denounced President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo before the prosecutors office for the crimes and perpetuation of violence against demonstrators. Later in the night, the Movimiento 19 de Abril announced that they had left UPOLI’s premises as they found several government infiltrators within their organization. In addition, they stated that they did not trust the investigation carried out by the public prosecutors office.

An entrance to the Polytechnic University in Managua during the occupation.

How was the uprising organized?

Affinity actions were spontaneously created through social media platforms like Signal, Telegram, and Whatsapp. All of these originally started on Facebook, with groups of up to 100 people, which decentralized to several hundred smaller groups. These “groups” formed as a way to care for and protect the student protestors who were on the streets. Some of the roles they filled include:

  • Establishing safe houses
  • Distributing medical supplies
  • Social media advocacy
  • Writing communiqués
  • Creating maps of safe routes and tracking police presence
  • Offering medical support
  • Creating shields to protect protesters from rocks and rubber bullets
  • Sending credits to cell phone numbers
  • Creating emotional support groups
  • Creating lists of participants on the ground in case some went missing
  • Buying food supplies

Clashes in Managua.

What were the causes of the uprising?

There was no indication that this was going to happen, just growing silent discontent. The fire was ignited when the Sandinista Youth and motorcycle gangs attacked protestors and this confrontation was broadcast publicly.

The conditions that were boiling before the Abril 19th Student Uprising include:

  • The INSS Protests in 2013. Activists established an occupation in front of the Institute for Social Security; police violently evicted them in the middle of the night.
  • Corruption at all levels of government. Corruption through pacts between government officials and the upper-class investors. Corruption to support the Ortega-Murillo family’s concentration of power and wealth.
  • The concentration of power and wealth, what we call authoritarianism, by controlling the General Assembly and the Electoral Supreme Council. Opening up little possibility for any parties (including left-wing parties) to run for elections.
  • Undemocratic elections: no foreign supervision of local elections at the national and municipal levels. The elections are basically supervised by the Sandinista Party. There is evidence of people voting twice and dead people also voting.
  • Lack of transparency on government investments and foreign aid (for example, Venezuelan oil money). There is little transparency or accountability in how government funds are used. Much goes to social programs, but other parts are assumed to go directly to the party.
  • Increasing gas prices compared to Central America, despite our relationship with Venezuela.
  • Poor investment in education. Only 5% of applicants passed the math admission test to apply to UNAN, the largest public university in the country.
  • A political model based on dependency between poor communities and the state instead of critical participation and dialogue. This is called clientelism.
  • Cooptation of Media. The government owns eight different television and radio stations and, as they recently showed, are known to censor and attack other independent media outlets, including 100% Noticias and Confidencial.
  • Overall hatred towards the police on account of corruption, bribery, and police murders such as the Las Jaguitas case. Bribing traffic police is a local custom.
  • The Grand Canal project, which gave a lot of power to a Chinese company; it was potentially going to displace indigenous communities in the Caribbean/Atlantic side of the country. This $50 billion project started with the legal infrastructure but was never actually built.
  • No private sector accountability over the environment. Environmental laws have been relaxed in order to incentivize private investment.
  • Harassment from Juventud Sandinista and motorcycle gangs (which were first implemented by Venezuela) towards protesters.
  • The aesthetic hijacking of Nicaragua—for example, the “Trees of Life” and the new Party aesthetic color pallet.
  • The Church and the State are not separate. The slogan of the government is “Socialism, Christianity, and Solidarity.”
  • Institutions that should be neutral—such as the military, the ministry of education, the ministry of health, and the police—are pro-government.
  • Femicide rates are high for rural women.
  • The closing of women’s centers (comisarias de la mujer).
  • Abortion has been illegal since 2006.
  • Ortega has been accused of sexual abuse against his step-daughter, Zoilamerica.

Despite all this, things were not so bad for the middle and upper class. Those sectors were pacified. The situation could be a lot worse. People could work in the private sector and draw benefits from the public sector. We have free education and free healthcare. They are not the best quality, but they are free and accessible to most.

But the government completely underestimated the level of national discontent towards the FLSN. This insurrection united all these sectors around one feeling: we don’t like the government and things could be better.

The trigger for all of this was not a right-wing conspiracy or right-wing funding. The student protests erupted simultaneously at UNA, UCA, UNI, and UPOLI on Thursday and by Friday these protests had grown to cities all over Nicaragua. The right wing only started to organize after they saw an opening in the dialogue that was going to occur between the students, the private sector, and the government.

There is plenty of evidence of United States involvement in Nicaragua, through the “Nica Act” and the National Endowment for Democracy funding organizations in Nicaragua. But there is no evidence connecting that to the emergence of this protest movement.

Who Are the Sandinista Youth?

The Sandinista Youth is the youth wing of the FSLN/Government. They are known for wearing the very colorful white shirts with colorful slogans. They are the first responders to natural disasters, they are the ones who go to government events, and they are the ones who respond to any public protest.

My father (a Sandinista Guerillero and then a major in the military) tells me that in the 1970s and 1980’s, the student movement were the ones debating theory and action: Trostky vs. Lenin vs. Mao vs. Castro vs. Gramsci vs. Carlos Fonseca vs. Sandino. If you were a student organizer at that time, you would be well-versed in theory and practice; you would also aspire to be a good student and an example of the hombre nuevo (“new man”), modeled after Che Guevara.

During the revolutionary process between 1979 and 1990, the Sandinista Youth played a key role in the intellectual and organizational aspect of the Revolution. They were the youth wing of the government; they gave the Sandinistas a relationship with young people; they organized the Literacy Crusade. They were also in the military, since there was a draft.

Today, it is a different story.

Since Daniel Ortega’s democratic victory in 2006, the Sandinista Youth have been the most visible sector that supports the Ortegas. They are the youth face of the government; they are organized very hierarchically; they no longer have the intellectual weight that the historical Sandinista Youth had. The government recognized that 60-70% of Nicaragua is between the ages of 18-35—this is an important demographic.

The Sandinista Youth are convinced that anyone that opposed Daniel Ortega must be a right-wing neo-liberal who wants to overthrow the government. It was right to react against the neoliberal parties in the 1990s and early 2000s—but today, those parties have lost leadership and power, mainly as a consequence of divisions in the right wing and co-optation by the Orteguista party.

After the events of April 19, the image of the Sandinista Youth is completely tainted. There are clear pictures of them attacking peaceful protestors, mostly students (not to mention 10 years of evidence of this occurring before). There are plenty of videos, photographs, and testimonies describing how Sandinista Youth attacked journalists, students, and peaceful demonstrators. I personally witnessed this myself in several protests on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I believe that the Sandinista Youth are facing an existential crisis. They thought they were the largest youth movement in the country, but this is no longer true. They are meeting students and other young people who think very differently and are empowered in a completely unique way that is not related to party politics.

The Sandinista Youth is hierarchical, and far from autonomous, by contrast with the student and autoconvocados (“self-assembled”) movements. The Sandinista Youth already failed to form an alliance with powerful anti-canal Campesino Movement, which was formed against building the Canal around 2013. Under the leadership of Francisca Ramirez, the Campesino movement entered Managua on April 28 in support of peace and dialogue and in solidarity with the student uprising.

I have never been involved with the Sandinista Youth. They have tried several times to recruit me, but I rejected their cult following of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo and their strictly vertical approach to power. They do have a very militant organization and language. Several friends of mine are a part of the Sandinista Youth, however, through their families’ historical involvement in the Sandinistas or through their government jobs.

What is the relationship of the UNEN and the Sandinista Youth to the Student Movement?

UNEN is the pro-government student union, which has chapters in each major university, mostly concentrated in UNAN Managua, the largest public university in the country.

UNEN get their “street cred” from the student protests in the late 1990s, when they were protesting the neoliberal government of Arnoldo Aleman and Bolaños, who wanted to cut education funding. The demonstrators demanded that 6% of the National Budget go to education.

But the participants in the 6% protests are no longer young. The current UNEN students have no experience in protests; they only have experience following orders and supporting the Sandinista Government. If you are a part of UNEN, you will receive benefits and scholarships—but those should be accessible to all, not just UNEN.

It is well documented that whenever there is a pro-government event or demonstration, all the public institutions of the government must attend these events, including workers’ unions. They have lists; you are required to go, or you will lose you job or your scholarship. This is how they get hundreds of people to attend pro-government rallies. It is the same with voting: If you are a state employee or part of UNEN or of the Sandinista Youth, you must prove that you voted.

The psychology of the Sandinista Youth and UNEN is “us vs. them.” If you are a young organizer but you are not UNEN or Sandinista Youth, you are automatically assumed to be a right-wing, CIA-funded traitor who wants to destabilize all the wonderful things that the government has created.

This is one of the main flaws of the Sandinista model: their relationship with the people has been economic and political, instead of social and sustainable. They have created dependency instead of autonomy: clientelism.

What made the Ortega government popular?

The government keeps contrasting the current situation to the 1990s, which were a complete disaster for the poor and working-class. Neoliberal governments created new political and economic elites, ruling from the 1990s to 2006. In the 1990s, we had power outages, water outages, extreme poverty, and crime and drugs. The World Bank and the IMF created free trade zones, with maquilas (sweatshops), that were designed to modernize Nicaragua. After the revolutionary process of the 1980s, we also saw the introduction of casinos, fast food chains, call centers, malls, private resorts, cell phones… basically violent globalization.

Since 2006, the government has created a stable economy via authoritarianism and political and economic pacts. Costa Rica is too boring and expensive, so nowadays most tourists are coming to Nicaragua. Now the government is afraid that tourism will decline, affecting thousands of jobs.

Nicaragua experiences relative peace compared to the most dangerous zones in Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala). We enjoy this safety not simply because of our large police force, but because Nicaraguans migrate to Costa Rica rather than the United States, so we don’t fully participate in the dynamics around migration to the US involving the cartels. There are also very harsh border laws between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Right now, a camp of Afro-Caribbean and Cuban immigrants want to enter Nicaragua so that they can make their way to the USA, but they are not allowed in the country, not even just for transit.

The most celebrated act of the government has been constructing parks with wifi and rejuvenating the old downtown. These parks are painted with the multicolor government aesthetic, but they are spaces that can be enjoyed by all. Every weekend, you see thousands of people enjoying public spaces, which was unconceivable in the 1990s.

How does this relate to the historical legacy of the Sandinistas?

The error of the Sandinista Party is that they have created a dependency between the poor class and the government. You can only buy loyalty for so long; they needed to build social infrastructure but never did. The Sandinista Youth was supposed to do that, but they failed. The government supported poor communities by giving away free food and building materials.

Their approach has always been hierarchical, vertical, and authoritarian. This is a big problem for new youths who don’t like being told what to do. There is no debate inside of the Sandinista Party.

Sandino is a national hero from the 1920s and 1930s. His original platform was anti-imperialism, cooperativism, citizenship, and nationalism. Sandino was radicalized in Mexico, where he experienced the labor movement after the Mexican Revolution. He brought the Sandinista red and black flag to Nicaragua from Mexico after he met with Spanish Anarchists.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Carlos Fonseca introduced Sandinismo as an ideology and movement based around a revolutionary strategy that did not include an industrial class—as Nicaragua had few industrial workers. In the 1980s, the FSLN held power; they introduced agrarian reform, the National Literacy Crusade, and a socialist model with a strong central government and a small private sector. Cuba and the Soviet Union were their chief supporters.

At the time, the Contra War impacted the revolution. The Contras were supported by the USA, but they also included farmers who didn’t want to work in cooperatives and thought that the FSLN was hierarchical.

In any case, the 2006 Sandinista Government is nothing like the Nicaraguan government of the 1980s. In 2006, the Sandinistas originally spoke of continuing the revolution where they left off in the 1980s. But the current Orteguismo sold out to corruption in order to hold on to power. They’ve been in power since 2006 because:

  • They own the electoral assembly;
  • There is no political opposition (the second biggest party received 12% of the votes in 2016);
  • They make deals with the private sector and upper class;
  • They control the police;
  • People hate voting because the elections are not transparent—the abstention rate in voting is around 50%, and young people don’t vote because we all know who is going to win and there is no coherent opposition that is even mildly left-wing;
  • Youth are tired of party politics;
  • The FLSN have changed the constitution; they have spent the last 10 years building their own infrastructure in order to hold on to control.

These insurrections are a wake-up call to the government and to the Sandinista Youth. They no longer have control of the discourse and of the image of Nicaragua.

The UNEN and the government have pointed at the right wing and at the MRS (Movimiento Renovador Sandinista, “Movement to renovate Sandinismo”), claiming that the MRS has infiltrated student groups and funded the protests. The MRS is a dissident Sandinista group formed in the 1990s. They have been running in elections without winning; their support is around 10%. In reality, the MRS only wish they had the kind of money it would take to fund the protests. I have several friends in the MRS; they are good people, and smart, but they still play party politics.

The more existential questions are: What does Sandinismo mean today? Who speaks for Sandinismo? What still works about Sandinismo? Who owns Sandinismo? The FSLN? The war veterans?

We have seen people trying to re-signify the co-opted image of Sandino. There has been a nationwide effort to paint blue and white all the Sandinista monuments that were originally painted in red and black. People are putting the Nicaraguan flag behind Sandino, but they are still respecting his image. This suggests that a lot of people want a National Sandinismo instead of an Orteguista Sandinismo. But this is just aesthetic, nothing political has emerged.

We lack leftist critiques of Orteguismo. What does a left-wing anti-Orteguismo look like?

A vigil for those killed during the uprising. Again, note the flags.

How has the private sector responded to the situation?

We’ve heard rumors about how Roberto Pellas, Nicaragua’s first billionaire and head of Casa Pellas, the company that owns the upper class private Hospital, the car dealerships, the insurance and the banks, is positioning himself strategically in light of future negotiations. This is odd, since the Pellas families have benefited from the Ortega family being in power. But to say the least, the Pellas industry supports capitalism and further economic growth at all costs.

I only see the upper class supporting stronger IMF influence. Nicaragua already survived 15 years of IMF and World Bank control through neoliberal governments. Everybody hated it. That’s the main reason Ortega won in 2006—people wanted change. I don’t see working class people demanding a return to neoliberal politics.

The student movement has said several times that although the private sector is affected by the INSS reform, they do not represent the student movement. Right now, the majority of the people who have been murdered have been student protestors. No upper-class or private sector person has died as a result of confrontations with the Police.

The bravery of the student protestors places them at the center of the dialogue. The government is including several other sectors in the dialogue (workers, private sector, representatives of free trade zones) in order to suppress the students’ demands.

One of the chief things that I celebrate form these last 10 days has been how fast youth have been radicalized into taking a political position and forming political organizations. University students have organized themselves in assemblies and collectives. People have placed pressure not just on politicians but on artists and cultural producers. We are experiencing a new culture war. People are thinking beyond individual action, in terms of institutions and collective solutions. But again, horizontal methods don’t relate to progressive leftist politics—or do they?

There are efforts now to create a radical leftist consciousness and organization. Several organizations and groups are promoting this.

But efforts have not been targeted towards full infrastructure change. Right now, people want justice for the people who were murdered, hence the dialogue with the government. The main rhetoric of the movement has been “We must stay in the streets so that we don’t forget all the ones who have died.” Whatever comes out of this dialogue will not be enough, because the government will never give you the tools to overthrow it.

Have right-wing groups attempted to co-opt the movement?

Right now, the only right-wing group we are keeping our eye on is the PLC political Party, but they keep being booed out of marches and protests. No political party has attempted to take their own party flags to the demonstrations yet. The real right-wingers are the people from the private sector. The right wing in Nicaragua will not come from a nationalist ethno-centric movement but from private interests.

I was shocked when I saw how many upper-class wealthy families were attending the marches. Of course those marches were not disrupted by the police; of course they did not encounter any violence; of course they were safe and offered a cathartic feeling of belonging to a national movement. I saw Piero Cohen, a Nicaraguan millionaire, shouting on live television about how Ortega had to be overthrown.

Here is where we can see how opportunistic everyone has been. “Opposition” is such a plural and changing concept; the only thing all the opposition shares is opposition to the Ortegas. Nicaragua is an extremely Catholic Country, and somewhat conservative when it comes to LGBTQIA and feminist issues. The arguments and positions of the “opposition” have taken on a very nationalistic tone with a Christian inflection. Right now, we are seeing a nationalistic push against the Ortegas, but inside of this nationalism there are many different ideals that contradict each other.

People are extremely suspicious of attempts to support and speak on behalf of the students. Everybody is attempting to co-opt these movements. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. People from every sector are organizing themselves and want to promote a dialogue that includes them. Everybody is sharing their disapproval of the government. The conditions have been created under which new leaders will emerge and try to represent movements. Not necessarily from the right wing, but whoever wants power. It is the task of the students and the self-assembled to not fall into this trap and to do a good job at having delegates and representatives that can speak on behalf of the organized majority. Who has the right to speak on behalf of the murdered students, who mostly came from working class backgrounds?

To be honest, our right wing is not as organized in Nicaragua as in the United States or Venezuela or Brazil. They don’t attract young people. I think people are tired of party politics; we have seen the same talking heads over and over again for the last 10 years. People are excited for a new kind of leadership. But what also needs to be proposed is a new kind of method.

The right wing was in power through the 1990s with Arnoldo Aleman and Enrique Bolaños. They set the ground for vicious neoliberal policies and created a new political and economic elite at the expense of the working class. Right now, Arnoldo Aleman’s wife is trying to take advantage of this situation to get more votes on her party. But nobody wants to talk about political parties at this point. I think populism is over here.

The strongest actor that wants to co-opt the movements is still the state and the Sandinistas. They have already started to dress as civilians (without the colorful Ortega Shirts) and to wave Nicaraguan Flags instead of FLSN flags. The government has said in almost every communiqué and television that the entire uprising is a plan from the right to destabilize the country. This message is being multiplied at all levels of society. Consequently, the movements are doing their best at critiquing any “right wing” conspiracy.

The interest of the United States through the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) has also been a concern. But people are not talking about it very much on the ground.

A door has been opened, but we don’t know what’s going to come out of the other side—it could be a right-wing neoliberal subject or a radical leftist subject. But the Sandinistas and the MRS have co-opted all the leftists’ language. What does it mean to be a Nicaraguan leftist and not support the Ortegas? Or should the strategy be to support the Ortegas as a vehicle to get into more radical politics? There are still debates about this.

A diagram explaining the difference between anarchism and the other ideologies on offer in the marketplace of ideas.

What are the sources of the horizontal values and structures within the movement?

The main source has been the realization that we don’t want to replicate the authoritarian and vertical model represented by the government. As young people, we don’t want to be told what to do by people who claim to be smarter than us. Therefore, it was necessary to experiment with other models. Some sectors only spoke briefly of these models, but it was the right time to implement them and they were beautiful to see. These models are now part of our collective vocabulary. For the first time, thousands of people are listening to groups speak, how they talk, learning how the pass around the microphone, how to speak as a “we.”

This all started with UPOLI, because there was no leadership in the protests; this all started when hundreds of people created Signal and Telegram groups to talk and find ways to help the protests without need of authority. And all of this works because this experience of politics is very different. It is more empowering, but it also takes more work. It has led to confusion and disorganization in some sectors. It does involve a lot of communication.

We have no idea where all of these anarchist ideals came from: mutual aid, affinity groups, horizontalism, communes, occupations, consensus. It was as if they had been part of our collective unconscious but we had never had an opportunity to practice them. Practice came first, then theory. It’s not that people are openly reading anarchist literature, as much as I have tried. People just organized this way, and maintained this way of organizing through the whole week of struggles.

No populist leader has emerged, only delegates and spokespersons. We have ideas of movements, and of secret meetings, but no authority or verticality. Still, our parents tell us that there is a cultural need for leadership. So we have conflicting models fighting each other.

We have still been learning; there have been conflicts. For example, a group of activists leaked naked pictures of one of the UNEN organizers. This provoked the feminist movement to call out misogyny and machismo, and also the role of the church and authority inside student movements. The most stressful thing has been infiltration. Movements have been infiltrated by UNEN, the pro-government student union, who have slowly infiltrated universities like UPOLI and fomented disagreements within the students.

But everything that we have learned over the past days is now part of our political imagination, our skillset, our language. These events created the conditions for us to experiment and practice these skills, and every day we are learning new skills.

How do the events in Nicaragua relate to other struggles in Central America?

Central American has been through a lot. Look at the Fuera JOH movement (which I also briefly experienced) in Honduras and the backlash against the “ultra-conservative” movements in Costa Rica right before their elections. But no elements have connected these. We were keeping a close eye on Costa Rica because we were afraid that the “ultra-conservatives” would influence and inspire Evangelicals here in Nicaragua. So far they have not. Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica are three very different countries.

Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have more in common; Nicaragua is its own bubble. In terms of anarchist presence, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Puerto Rico have by far the largest concentrations of anarchists. But in my experience, we experience very little solidarity and political exchange with these countries. There is more cultural and academic dialogue than political communication.

In 2006, Sandinismo came to power as part of the “Pink Tide,” a wave of electoral victories for leftist parties throughout Latin America. Yet surprisingly, we have very little communication with the rest of Latin America. There is a cultural frontier between Panama and Colombia. We sometimes hear something about the student movements in Argentina and Chile or indigenous resistance in the Amazon. But in terms of organizers getting together and exchanging strategies broadly between Central American or Latin American countries, it is very rare. We might have more affinity to Mexico than to some of the previously mentioned countries, but still, it doesn’t come through as much, and of course the more upper-class sectors of the population have their eyes and ears and hearts aimed at the United States.

Many people draw parallels with Venezuela and Nicaragua. A lot of people in Nicaragua have a strange relationship to Venezuela. We do owe our “sustainability” to Venezuelan aid, in return for which we send meat back to Venezuela. Ortega and Maduro have been compared a lot, even Ortega and Chavez. But again, the context is very different.

Unfortunately, we still need to develop an intersectional analysis inside of Nicaragua and outside of Nicaragua. We have been too busy figuring things out on the ground, we have not had a chance to reflect on our situation in an international context.

What can people elsewhere around the world learn from this movement?

This insurrection occurred so fast. It was literally overnight. The images of the police and the Sandinista Youth beating up peaceful protestors resonated across the entire country. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Never underestimate the solidarity that can come through students. Never underestimate the level of spontaneous organization that can emerge between friends, family, and strangers. I am amazed at how quickly people organized themselves into affinity groups and cells. I am amazed at how horizontal all these efforts and movements have been.

Understand the local conditions in which you live; always consider culture as a factor in your organizing. What happens will follow cultural patterns, but it will also redefine them. Take these moments of crisis to learn new skills and make new friends. Take chances. Experiment.

Anarchists and active organizers and environmentalist academics who read about class struggle were definitely more prepared than others that were just started to get involved. But this did not manifest itself in an authoritarian way; they just offered suggestions and questions and ideas and experiments. So start getting prepared, think of your immediate community needs. To quote someone, somewhere: “sometimes there are decades in which nothing occurs, and then there are weeks worth decades.”

Address your struggle to your own local conditions. Doing so will help you see into the future and understand the present. In Nicaragua, since Ortega, people have claimed that things could be worse compared to our history, but you must be able to also show how things can be better. In the case of Nicaragua, it seems that the past (the revolution from the 1980s) has hijacked the present. So it’s the task of new movements to analyze the 1980s and 1990s, in part by talking with the generations that experienced them.

The question of “the people” as singular has also been contested. The people as plural is richer but at the same time more complex. We need to attack the center from different places, at different intensities, and at different levels. There is no one strategy; the decentralization of groups and efforts into smaller factions concentrates energy in very different places. We need to study the countryside and see how it operates—and the universities, the Sandinista youth, the private schools, the popular markets, the neighborhood, the workplaces. You can’t be involved in all of those spaces at the same time, so decentralizing attacks and conversations and critical reflections helps everyone.

We must expose all the shortcomings of the right. Their political platform, their ideology, their organization, their power structures—and connect them to race, class, gender, history, geography.

We are still figuring this out. Right now, we are trying things and responding to the reactions. Things need to happen in order for people to take positions. We are reacting to the government, but we are also providing material for the government to react to. We need to map the right, center, and left players—to critique them, to expose them. The same goes for the supposed neutrality of institutions.

No matter what happens in the future, what the government does, how the private sector reacts, how the students movements unfold—over the last week, all the students and organizers have grown tremendously. We have learned so much, failed so much, but also won incredible battles. All these things we cannot unlearn and we cannot unsee. We will never unsee how hard the government tried to cover up its failure. We cannot unsee.

  1. The situation in Indio Maiz is more complex than just government ineptitude. As an organizer inside of the #SOSIndioMaiz, I met with Rama and Criol indigenous leaders and with Park Rangers that protect Indio Maiz; they tell a story of racism, illegal cattle ranches, government and private interests, concentration of power and territory via the military, and more. The government department that is designated to protect its natural resources has not replied to any of the lawsuits that have been sent for the last five years. Indio Maiz was not just about the fire. It was about the fact that the government benefits from illegal wood extraction, illegal cattle ranches, and private sector monocrops in indigenous territory. Indio Maiz was about the racist dynamic between the state and local indigenous governments. Indio Maiz was about the fact that it is very difficult to study ecology or environmental resources management in Nicaragua. Indio Maiz was about the Grand Canal. Indio Maiz was about the relaxed environmental policy regarding private investments and construction. ↩
  2. Motorizados, motorcycle gangs. Protesters were repeatedly attacked by these older men wearing helmets and utilizing baseball bats, metal bats, rocks, and other weapons. ↩
Categories: News

Trump: 3 American Detainees Held In North Korea Returning Home With Pompeo

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 17:02

Trump: 3 American Detainees Held In North Korea Returning Home With Pompeo | 09 May 2018 | Three American detainees who were being held in North Korea are now on their way home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A jet carrying the trio and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refueled in Japan this morning. After the plane left North Korea, President Donald Trump made the announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter. In another Tweet, Trump said Pompeo and his "guests" will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2 a.m. Thursday.

Categories: News

African Immigrants Form Co-op in Barcelona

Grassroots Economic Survival - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 16:22
Link: Fake handbags, genuine papers

Mame Mbaye spent almost half his life selling imitation perfumes in the centre of Madrid, but what he really loved was cooking. He dreamed of one day working behind the stove of a good restaurant. “He never had the chance to do what he really loved,” lamented his colleagues in the days following his death.

It was their way of explaining that no one chooses to be a mantero; no one risks their life and their savings, leaves their family and their country to end up like that. 
“If there were decent work, no one would be selling on the streets,” insists Alioune Thiam. He managed to escape that life some years ago and is now part of the Diomcoop cooperative, a groundbreaking project, backed by the Barcelona City Council, to help street vendors break free from illegality.

Diomcoop provides street vendors with training and helps them to apply for their papers. They, in return, switch from selling fake goods to legal merchandise, mainly African handicraft and fashion items.

Read the rest at Equal Times

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

IBEW members are on strike against New Hampshire Electric Co-op

Grassroots Economic Survival - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 15:43
Link: IBEW members are on strike against NHEC

More than 80 union members who work for the New Hampshire Electric Co-op went on strike Monday over pension and retirement issues...

NHEC and Local 1837 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers broke off talks Monday to negotiate a new contract after the old one expired April 30...

“Union and Company negotiators met this morning, but NHEC representatives refused to back off their demand that ... they have the unilateral right to modify or eliminate 401(k) or pension plans without first negotiating with the union,” the union said. “In other areas, the union previously agreed to almost all of the company’s proposals — including flexibility.”

The union said “the company’s continued insistence on this extreme proposal would make NHEC one of the only unionized electric utilities in the country to have such disastrous language affecting worker retirement plans.”

Read the rest at the New Hamphshire Union Leader

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Redistricting and the 2018 Elections: Can Democrats Stop the GOP's Winning Streak?

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

 adamkaz / iStock / Getty Images Plus)(Photo: adamkaz / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The 2018 elections will affect who draws the political maps for redistricting after the 2020 census. Republicans understood this 10 years ago and implemented a strategy that led to a decade of Democratic Party defeats at nearly every level of government. Now Democrats are seeking to reverse this trend, but no matter how the balance of power shifts, this form of partisan gerrymandering is a problem for representative democracy.

 adamkaz / iStock / Getty Images Plus)(Photo: adamkaz / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The four states that held primaries last night for the coming 2018 elections -- OhioIndianaNorth Carolina and West Virginia -- are overwhelmingly controlled by the GOP. Republicans control all eight state legislative bodies within them, with 396 Republican state legislators compared with 189 Democrats. Three of the four states are Republican trifectas, meaning the GOP controls their governorships in addition to all of their legislative bodies.

If Democrats hope to claim and sustain majority status in Congress anytime soon, they will need to reverse this GOP domination of state governments in 2018. State legislators who are elected in 2018 will be among those tasked with rewriting the maps for the 2020 redistricting. As a result, a vote in 2018 can have an impact for a decade. The importance of this was explained by infamous Bush operative Karl Rove who in 2010 said, "He who controls redistricting, can control Congress."

Republicans clearly understood the importance of redistricting 10 years ago and strategized accordingly. Now, the GOP controls almost every body of government in the US: The House, Senate, White House33 governorships and 69 of 99 state legislative bodies.

The GOP's electoral successes occur, however, even though the country is moving left on economic issues and social issues. Support for gay marriagelegal marijuanaguaranteed health care and citizenship for undocumented immigrants is at an all-time high. Support for military interventionism is down. On the whole, young voters are well to the left of their older generations, and only 42 percent say they prefer capitalism to socialism.

The fact that the US government is leaning right, even as the populace is leaning left is a problem in a representative democracy. This disjunction was particularly apparent when Senate Republicans addressed health care policy, the top concern for Americans, according to numerous polls. The Better Care Reconciliation Act -- the GOP's top legislative priority -- was supported by only 12 percent of Americans at one point. There is just not much appetite for GOP policies. This is one reason Donald Trump was able to win the primary against contemporary Republicans by (publicly anyway) breaking with the party on trade.

So, how is it, absent a flood of support for GOP policies, that the Republicans have been winning elections at every level for a decade? And what does it say about the pervasive effect gerrymandering has on our democracy?

REDMAP in 2010: How the GOP Keeps Winning

David Daley, who has covered this issue for Salon, traces the answer to this first question back to June 2009 at the Hermitage, a pricey Nashville hotel. It was here, Daley said in an interview with Truthout, where the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) first presented the Redistricting Majority Project. It became known better as REDMAP, which Daley calls an "audacious strategy that would soon transform American politics."

REDMAP was a shrewd twist on gerrymandering, the undemocratic practice of drawing maps to maximize partisan gain. The focus was deliberate: target key state legislative seats, since these legislators would be redrawing the maps after the 2010 census.

"At the time many of these seats were not competitive races," said Harvard professor Gary King, an expert on legislative redistricting, in an interview with Truthout. "They knew if they could control a legislature, they could move a district. It was a massive advantage."

By 2010, Daley reports, the RSLC decided to invest $30 million in 107 carefully chosen state legislative races, most of which was used for ad blitzes late in the campaign. By the time the election was over 650 state legislative seats changed party hands. Tim Barnes, former president of finance for RSLC, boasted after the election in a thank you note to donors that of 70 competitive districts, "Republicans now control the redrawing of at least 47 of those districts ... Democrats are responsible for 15 districts and a non-partisan process determines the additional eight."

 Data from Carl Klarner/ the Lucy Burns Institute)This chart shows the decline in Democratic Party power at all levels of government since 2010. (Source: Data from Carl Klarner/ the Lucy Burns Institute)

Distribution of Political Party Control of US State Legislatures From 1990 to 2017

 Statista)This chart shows the GOP dominance of State Legislatures in recent years. Note how poorly Democrats have done since 2010. (Source: Statista)

It must be noted that the Democratic Party also engages in gerrymandering and can be as aggressive as Republicans. Former Governor Martin O'Malley helped take a Republican seat in Maryland using gerrymandering during the 2010 redistricting. This approach led to litigation that is now before the Supreme Court (Benisek v. Lamone). "Part of my intent was to create ... a district where the people would be more likely to elect more Democrats than a Republican," O'Malley conceded in a deposition.

But despite a clear willingness to use gerrymandering for their own gain, Democrats were not up to the task in 2010. "They simply lacked the foresight of the GOP and were focused on top-of-the-ticket races," King said. "Not coming up with a viable counterstrategy once it was apparent what the GOP was doing, was really ineptitude."

King notes that Rove outlined this plan in the Wall Street Journal. "It wasn't like the Republicans were being secretive about it the whole time," he said. Still, the Democrats were unable to respond effectively.

Meanwhile, the Republicans made use of data and technology that did not exist in prior rounds of redistricting, improving their ability to microtarget the rights seats. "Partisan gerrymandering is as old as American politics, of course," said Daley, who also authored a 2016 book on the subject. "But from 1790 to 2010 it was a different era. New technology has since turned it into an art," ushering in "the steroid era of gerrymandering."

Indeed, researchers in 2016 found that "partisan bias in congressional district maps [in 2010] tripled compared to the post-2000 districts."

Stacking the Deck

To study the success of REDMAP is also to witness the harmful effects of gerrymandering. For the last decade, the maps written by mostly Republicans have given the GOP a lot more seats than Democrats, without getting a lot more votes. King uses the 2012 and 2014 Wisconsin elections to demonstrate the impact.

Here Republicans received 48 percent of Assembly votes statewide in 2012. The districts were drawn in such a way, however, that they won 60 percent of Assembly seats. In 2014, under the same redistricting plan, King notes in a Boston Globe op-ed, "Democrats received 48 percent of the vote, but just 36 percent of the seats." This means the map lacks "partisan symmetry," the subject of an important coming Supreme Court case Gill v. Whitford. (This is one of two important gerrymandering cases coming before the court, along with Benisek v. Lamone but neither are likely to impact the 2020 redistricting process, no matter the ruling).

One can see the disenfranchising impact of gerrymandering here. Wisconsin's voters got Republican majorities even when they voted for Democrats. In a sense the legislators -- not the citizens -- are choosing which votes count and where.

Daley also cites instances of extreme gerrymandering and its fallout. He writes:

Republicans held the U.S. House in 2012, despite earning 1.4 million fewer votes than Democratic congressional candidates, and won large GOP majorities in the Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina state legislatures even when more voters backed Democrats.... Even in Virginia last November [2016], Democrats won nearly a quarter of a million more votes than Republicans -- and it still wasn't enough to overcome district lines rigged to guarantee the GOP a built-in advantage. In Alabama, where Doug Jones recently became the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in decades, disgraced GOP candidate Roy Moore still carried six of the state's seven gerrymandered congressional districts.

Another consequence of gerrymandering is its detrimental effects on third parties. Both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party have criticized the process.

"Third parties [suffer] greatly as a result of partisan gerrymanders. In 2014, 58 percent of Americans agreed that a third party is needed in the United States; gerrymandering, however, makes it nearly impossible for third party candidates to come to power," writes Lexi Mealey in the Harvard Political Review. "In districts designed to ensure the success of one of two major parties, candidates that do not conform to either ideology are left with an extremely limited, if existent, voter base."

Redistricting Battle Starts With Coming Elections

Democrats have been reeling ever since REDMAP, without a viable counterstrategy. Now the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) and progressive grassroots organizations are apparently heeding the lessons from the last census in an attempt to prevent another decade of GOP control. They are letting everyone know that the 2018 election will have an impact on the makeup of Congress for a full decade, as did the 2010 debacle. Winning the states, the DLCC notes on its website, is "the only sure way to prevent GOP gerrymandering from ever again deciding the outcome of a national election."

If things are going to change, voters have to be fully awakened as to how district lines are the building blocks of our democracy.

This emphasis is apparent from the DLCCs response to a key state legislative victory for Democrats in Florida. "We look forward to gaining more ground in 2018 and 2020 elections ahead of critical redistricting," said Jessica Post, executive director of DLCC, in a statement after the election. "Tonight's win comes on the heels of the DLCC announcing a new record for first quarter fundraising of more than $5 million."

CNN reported it was the "36th GOP-held state legislative seat to change parties since Trump took office" and is being cited by Democrats as "evidence it can win in Republican strongholds."

"Special elections have been favoring Democrats," said Tyler King, a staff writer at Ballotopedia, in an interview with Truthout. "In 2017, Democrats flipped 14 seats compared to three flipped by Republicans. In 2018, all six flipped seats have gone to Democrats. Special elections aren't always the best bellwether because they often have special circumstances attached to them, but it is notable ... Democrats are in a better position to win seats in state legislatures in 2018 than they have been since 2010."

Obama v. GOP Maps

In his last State of the Union in 2016, Barack Obama said "We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters and not the other way around." One can understand why he emphasized this on his way out of the White House. When Obama was elected in 2008, Democrats had dominated their second straight election and took a supermajority in Congress.

"When Democrats won in 2008, they thought they would be able to hold on to these majorities with the Obama coalition. They did not see this coming," Daley said.

When the GOP rebounded in 2010 and redrew the maps, Obama never had a Democratic House again. His party lost the Senate and as many as 1,000 state legislative seats during his presidency.

Obama's window to pass meaningful reforms was much smaller than he likely anticipated -- the Affordable Care ActDodd-Frank and the stimulus bill were all passed in his first two years in office. The GOP Congress, solidified by groundwork laid out in REDMAP, effectively ruined any chance Obama had of passing significant legislation for the rest of his presidency. They also deprived him of a Supreme Court Justice. It is therefore understandable why the former president attended a fundraiser by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), led by his former Attorney General Eric Holder, to raise awareness on GOP redistricting success and its consequences.

 "Since 2011, Republicans gerrymandered the country more aggressively than at any time in our history," the NDRC says on its website. "Your vote might not count the way you think it does."

It is an accurate, if hypocritical claim. The existence of the NDRC, in addition to the emphasis on redistricting by the DLCC, however, are evidence that the Democrats recognize the stakes of these elections. In fact, they have been planning for many years. In 2014, MSNBC reported on how the party was already looking toward the 2020 redistricting battle, "targeting legislative chambers in key states over the next four election cycles with the specific aim of influencing redistricting."

It won't be easy, however. The GOP has released an updated version of the plan: REDMAP 2020. A memo released by the RSLC from two years ago signaled the GOP's commitment: a $125 million investment goal to "expand Republican-controlled legislative chambers in advance of 2020 redistricting," and "help the Republican redistricting data acquisition efforts and provide targeted legal strategic advice in redistricting cases."

If Democrats can't stop the Republicans from controlling so many state legislatures, some speculate, it could become almost impossible for them to recover anytime soon. As a Washington Post article observed, "without vitality in the states, the Democrats will remain what they became in recent years: a hollowed-out political institution."

The Role of the Grassroots

While Democrats have been hurt by gerrymandering, that fact by no means excuses the party's poor performance. Losing to Donald Trump was an epic embarrassment. The Democratic Party let a Republican with no experience win as an anti-establishment crusader against a person who is a relic of the Democratic Party's 1990s-era turn to the right. Clinton performed especially poorly in areas impacted by trade deals like NAFTA in 2016, deals which she proudly supported for most of her career. Now, evidence is surfacing that shows the Democrats are repeating these mistakes from their past.

So, while gerrymandering has hurt the Democratic Party badly, the Democrats' deference to the donor class and regressive neoliberal orthodoxies are their own fault. "The Democrats have a major working-class problem," Norman Solomon, co-author of an "autopsy" of Democrats post-2016, tells Truthout. "This is why it is important there are also grassroots organizations working on the issue of 2020 redistricting."

A number of organizations unaffiliated with the Democratic Party are tackling this issue head on: Flippable, the Democracy Alliance, the New Virginia Majority, the League of Women Voters and countless more. Some grassroots candidates have been inspired by the Bernie Sanders campaign and its focus on running a down-ballot strategy. This is important, since legislative elections have become increasingly less competitive over the last 30 years, according to a study by Harvard's Carl Klarner.
"To have a working democracy you need people, quality candidates, running for these seats. The lack of competitiveness made it easier for [the GOP] to succeed," Gary King said.

Issues surrounding the census are not often seen as hot-button topics. They typically don't blow up on social media. But as people in the US learn of the roots of GOP power while experiencing life under a dangerous Republican-controlled government, more are paying attention. "People are catching on," Daley said, noting that Trump's recent decision to politicize the 2020 census by asking questions about legal citizenship has further mobilized opposition.

"I think a lot of people woke up on November 5, 2016, and started to ask themselves why, if we are a closely divided country, why isn't this reflected in our elections," Daley said. "GOP control and gerrymandering are a huge part of this story. If things are going to change, voters have to be fully awakened as to how district lines are the building blocks of our democracy."

Categories: News

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