News

We Are Drowning In Plastic, and Fracking Companies Are Profiting

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 15:34

Plastic production wreaks havoc on people and the planet -- from fracking wells and pipelines in Pennsylvania, to air pollution from plastic plants in Scotland. Fracking companies are profiting off the recent surge in plastic production and are contributing to a growing climate crisis while generating mountains of plastic garbage. 

 Paolo Margari Candidato M5S Europa)(Photo: Paolo Margari Candidato M5S Europa)

We are choking the planet in plastic. Everything from wasteful water bottles to grocery shopping bags are polluting our waterways, and endangering marine life and the natural environment. It's fair to say that even the most casual news consumer has probably encountered a Facebook post, TV report, or radio segment about the garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean. 

But what's less well-known is what is fueling this plastics binge: fracking. As the Guardian recently reported, in less than a decade, tens of billions of dollars have been invested in creating new manufacturing sites around the world to turn fossil fuels into resin pellets used to manufacture plastic products. The companies profiting off this surge in plastics are contributing to a growing climate crisis while generating mountains of plastic garbage.

One company behind this plastics surge is the UK-based chemical company Ineos. While not a household name like Shell or Exxon, Ineos is at the center of this growing plastics industry -- but the damage caused by the company extends beyond the mounds of discarded waste littering beaches and waterways. The company's 75 manufacturing facilities across 22 countries are responsible for chemical leaks, fires, explosions, and air and climate pollution. This record includes a 2008 chemical fire in Germany and air pollution in Scotland, where the company's Grangemouth facilities were the country's single largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2016.

And the Ineos business model also relies on polluting communities thousands of miles away in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where the fracking industry is scarring the landscapepolluting water, and threatening public health. The company uses the liquid gas found in the shale formations there to feed its chemical plants. To meet this demand, the company recently built a fleet of so-called "dragon ships" to carry volatile gas liquids across the Atlantic.

And Ineos wants to continue ramping up. After the first crossing of one of these liquid gas transport ships from the US to the UK, the chairman of Ineos called the event a "gamechanger" that could "spark a shale gas revolution," according to a company news release.

Expanding this business will require new pipelines like the Mariner East 2, now under construction across Pennsylvania. The project belongs to Sunoco, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline that generated international opposition. There is a movement to stop the Mariner East, too, in places across the state where residents have lost their land to Sunoco through the companies use of eminent domain and are being told that they must allow the pipeline to be built near their schools, homes, and community centers.

Sunoco's safety record was a concern before the drilling started; since 2010, the company has had a higher rate of oil pipeline spills than its competitors. And this record of spills continued once construction of the pipeline began. Dozens of drilling spills and accidents and several cases of tainted water supplies eventually forced the state government to shut down the construction at the beginning of this year. Pennsylvania environmental regulators deemed Sunoco's "egregious and willful violations" of environmental laws serious enough to apply the brakes on a project that had been rushed through the regulatory process by drilling-friendly politicians of both major parties.

On February 8, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection allowed construction of the pipeline to resume, after issuing a $12.6 million civil penalty against Sunoco.

While plastic junk floating in the oceans gets the headlines, the truth is that the entire business model wreaks havoc on communities and the planet -- from the fracking wells in Pennsylvania and the pipelines that carry the materials in the US, to the air pollution from petrochemical plants producing plastics in the UK.

Pennsylvania was right to hit the pause button on this fracking-for-plastics pipeline, but if we're to create a stable climate and a healthy planet for all, we need state legislators to stop construction altogether. And we need political leaders in Europe willing to stop fracking before it starts.

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Categories: News

The GOP's New Parental Leave Plan Fails Families

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:55
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It has been just a few weeks since the GOP pushed through a massive tax code revamp that gave the wealthy and big businesses millions of dollars in savings per year. Now, the party claims it will tackle paid parental leave -- a key pet policy issue of first daughter Ivanka Trump and an initiative that Republicans hope to embrace in order to improve their support among women.

If this is their plan, however, it probably isn't going to help.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has now announced a tentative blueprint for finally bringing paid parental leave to the table, in a form that he believes the GOP can embrace. The catch? It can't be a burden on businesses, and Republicans don't believe in federal funding for social programs  -- unless it's  welfare for the rich.

 

Instead, Rubio and Ivanka Trump expect parents to take the money out of their Social Security fund -- and promise to work longer in order to pay it back. Politico reports:

For instance, a person who would begin receiving full benefits when he or she turns 67 years old but wants to take six weeks of paid leave wouldn't draw Social Security benefits until six weeks after his or her 67th birthday. "That's a new idea for Republicans who still identify it as something that comes out of the left," Rubio said of paid family leave. "Forcing companies to provide it is perhaps an idea that finds its genesis on the left, but the notion that pregnancy should not be a bankruptcy-eliciting event is one that I think all Americans should be supportive of."

There are a number of "what if" scenarios that remain unclear in this plan, already suggesting that this is a horrible idea. The first is the concept of making anyone work longer before retirement – an issue that many believe is already creating a jobs and earnings crisis. After all, as baby boomers work further into their retirement years, that leaves fewer openings for college graduates and lower pay for everyone.

Then there is the obvious issue with how the plan would affect the solvency of Social Security as a whole. Linda Benesch, spokesperson for Social Security Works told ThinkProgress:

This seems like something [Republicans] are doing to get good headlines. What this really is is a cut to Social Security/ The proposal that Rubio and Ivanka are reportedly considering involves an increase in the retirement age of people who choose to take leave. An increase in the retirement age is always a benefit cut. Either people are getting benefits for a shorter amount of time or if they choose to claim later their bonus for deferring benefits will be smaller.

Plus, as Elizabeth Bruenig explains in the Washington Post, the plan incentivizes having less children -- since the more children you have, the longer you will need to work in order to ever collect Social Security as a retiree:

The proposal would penalize bigger families more than smaller ones; couples with more children would face working further into old age before receiving retirement benefits. Moreover, it would likely mean that lower-wage workers would end up putting off retirement longer than wealthier workers with ample company benefits, an especially perverse outcome given that America's poor suffer significantly reduced life expectancies compared with the country's rich. If you're not particularly well-to-do and you want a family, in other words, you'll need to be prepared to pay for it in your old age: your family, your choice, your problem.

Paid parental leave is a racial, gender and class justice issue -- and one that the government must step up to address with real answers, not budgetary tricks. In an analysis of 41 major developed countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only the United States lacked any form of paid leave -- whereas other countries ranged anywhere from eight to 87 weeks.

Forcing parents to work longer to gain even a limited amount of time at home with their children flies in the face of all that Republicans claim to value. If there are enough government funds for extreme tax cuts, there's enough money to offer a real paid parental leave package.

Categories: News

B&G Podcast 1: 2-14-18

Anarchist News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:41

From Black and Green Review

You've been asking, now here it is. First introductory episode of the new B&G podcast is up at archive.org

You can listen and/or download it by clicking here.

There's a page for the Podcast in the top bar navigation with more info and contact form to submit questions, comments or whatever else for future episodes. Consider this a work in progress.

Episode one is an overview of Kevin Tucker's incoming new book, Gathered Remains. A walk through of the new Black and Green Review no 5. And some discussion of upcoming projects.

Tags: ktanarcho-primitivismbagrcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Yes, Replacing Food Stamps With a Blue Apron-Style Delivery System Is as Bad as It Sounds

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:35

This article was published by TalkPoverty.org.

This week, the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget. For the most part, it's similar to last year's proposal: massive cuts to safety net programs, a big boost in military spending, and very Trump-ed up estimates of economic growth. But this year, tucked into the Department of Agriculture (USDA) subsection, the administration laid out a proposal to take away a chunk of the nutrition assistance many families rely on and replace it with a massive new food delivery program.

Under the proposal, households receiving $90 or more per month in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits -- which accounts for the vast majority of all of the households who currently participate in SNAP -- will receive a portion of their assistance in the form of a box of pre-selected food. According to the USDA, which would be responsible for administering the program, the box would be filled with items like pastas, peanut butter, beans, and canned fruit, intended to "improve the nutritional value of the benefit provided and reduce the potential for EBT fraud."

In effect, the proposal is a paternalistic spin on Blue Apron: Instead of being able to choose food based on their nutritional and family needs, SNAP households may get standardized boxes of food that the government chooses on their behalf. Hunger and nutrition experts have panned this as "costly, inefficient, stigmatizing, and prone to failure." A 2016 USDA study found no evidence to suggest that households who receive food stamps need the government to select their food for them -- their spending habits are almost identical to other households. (The only exception is baby food -- SNAP households buy a lot more of it, because they're twice as likely to have a child under age 3.) Replacing the food that people are buying for themselves with pastas and canned fruit is likely a nutritional downgrade. And, since the food is being delivered directly to families, it's unclear whether families will get the opportunity to provide input based on allergies or specific nutritional needs -- say, to account for a peanut allergy, or for all that baby food.

As for reducing EBT fraud, the Trump Administration is offering a complicated solution for a nonexistent problem: SNAP fraud is extremely rare, and the government spends about as much money looking for SNAP fraud as it actually finds in misused funds. (As a point of comparison, the Pentagon loses enough money every year to fund the entire SNAP program twice.)

The government spends as much money looking for SNAP fraud as it actually finds in misused funds

What's more likely is that the proposal will become a giveaway to major agriculture companies. Creating this type of program will require a massive number of new government contracts for food, shipping, storage, and delivery. These contracts will have volume requirements that smaller farms will not be able to meet, but they'll open the door wide to America's "Big Aglobbyists -- including those with close ties to Trump's Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

And given that this proposal is paired with a $214 billion cut over the coming decade -- nearly one-third of total SNAP spending -- as well as punishing time limits for workers who cannot find a job or get enough hours at work, it's hard to believe this proposal is anything but malicious.

Considering Trump's past statements on food stamps -- and on poverty in general -- it's likely that malice actually is at the core of this. Remember the time that he said the only reason a protestor could be angry that he was talking about food stamps was because the protestor was fat? Or the time he said he "just doesn't want a poor person" involved in decisions about the economy? The president sees his own wealth as the chief validator of his societal worth, and believes it makes him perfectly qualified to make choices about how low-income people live their lives. This SNAP proposal is the result of that line of thinking. It strips people of control over one of their most basic decisions -- what they're going to eat -- and hands it over to a government agency. It flattens out the shades of humanity that go into our food -- the garlic or chilis or cumin or fish sauce we use when we need to make dinner feel more like home, or the choice to splurge on a steak for your wife's birthday dinner even if it means you'll be scraping by for the rest of the month -- and it replaces them with cans of fruit in a cardboard box.

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Categories: News

West Virginia Candidate Ousted From Hearing for Reading Industry Donors. But Bill She Opposed Just Passed in House.

deSmog - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:03
Lissa Lucas being removed from the West Virginia Senate hearing on HB 4268

On Friday, February 9, Lissa Lucas — a Democratic Party candidate for West Virginia's House of Delegates — was forcibly removed from a Senate hearing for calling out how many thousands of dollars legislators backing a pro-oil and gas industry bill have received from that very industry.

The video of Lucas's public comment and removal has gone viral and served as a launching pad for her campaign, which has raised more than $46,000 since the incident. Previously, she had raised just over $4,000. Coincidentally, Lucas supports a publicly funded campaign finance system. 

The bill (HB 4268) she opposed, however, has passed in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

That law, “forced pooling” legislation which makes it easier for the oil and gas industry to obtain mineral rights from private landowners as a precursor to drilling, has the support of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. It enables oil and gas companies to perform more hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on private land in the state by mandating that, rather than securing land lease contracts from all landowners, companies only need 75 percent of those living in an area to sign leases and are granted the remaining 25 percent by default.

Tags: Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study ActDow ChemicalMonsantoExxonMobilchevronWanhua Chemicalfrackinghydraulic fracturingForced PoolingCo-Tenancywest virginiaAppalachian Storage HubAmerican Chemistry CouncilJoe ManchinJim JusticeDepartment of Energy
Categories: News

Ex-top NY cop slams FBI for missing tip-off on Florida shooter, 'chasing Russian collusion' instead

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 07:33

Ex-top NY cop slams FBI for missing tip-off on Florida shooter, 'chasing Russian collusion' instead | 15 Feb 2018 | Controversial former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik has accused the FBI of "wasting resources chasing Russian collusion," instead of pursuing tips about potential criminals, such as the Florida school shooter. Controversial former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik has accused the FBI of "wasting resources chasing Russian collusion," instead of pursuing tips about potential criminals, such as the Florida school shooter. Kerik, who served as police commissioner during the 9/11 attacks, referred to an article on Thursday that said a YouTube user named 'Nikolas Cruz' had announced last September: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."

Categories: News

Court rules Energy Dept. must implement Obama efficiency rules

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 06:43

Court rules Energy Dept. must implement Obama efficiency rules | 15 Feb 2018 | The Trump administration must carry out the implementation of four energy efficiency regulations that it has delayed for more than a year, a federal court ruled Thursday. The Department of Energy (DOE) wrote the rules and made them public in December 2016, under the Obama administration. But when President Trump took office Jan. 20, 2017, his administration took advantage of a 45-day window for error corrections to review the rules and potentially scuttle them. The DOE still has not published the rules in the Federal Register, the final step to implement them.

 

Categories: News

Parkland student: 'Secret Service was present, changed school security policy, several weeks before shooting'

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 06:00

Parkland student: 'Secret Service was present, changed school security policy, several weeks before shooting' | 15 Feb 2018 | According to a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School who appeared on a radio program Thursday, United States Secret Service personnel were on the ground at the school several weeks before the shooting to change security protocols. Jalen Martin told the Texas talk show host that a teacher of his had confirmed that indeed the Secret Service was present at the school a few weeks prior. The student's testimony dovetails with buried reports that a fire drill and an active shooter drill were, in fact, already scheduled for Valentine's Day. Martin said there had already been one fire drill earlier Wednesday morning before the alarm went off for a second time which prompted the principal to announce over the loudspeaker for all students to evacuate.

Categories: News

Department of Education Will No Longer Protect Trans Students Denied Bathroom Access

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 05:00

The Department of Education has announced that it no longer intends to pursue civil rights complaints filed by transgender students who are denied access to appropriate restrooms.

The agency, headed by Trump appointee Betsy DeVos, argues that gender identity is not covered by Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education facilities that receive public funding. But this interpretation runs contrary to the beliefs of many trans people, as well as legal scholars and several courts.

And this isn't the first time that the Department of Education has denied trans people of all ages their full civil rights, and compromise their ability to participate freely in society. Such efforts are particularly worrisome to a generation of trans kids who grew up during the Obama administration, when progress on their rights was moving forward.

The fixation on trans people and bathrooms is, quite frankly, puzzling to most of us -- really, all we want to do is pee. But since the issue keeps coming up in the form of bathroom bills and cases like this one, it's worth taking a closer look.

When trans men and women transition, they usually want to use the accommodations that align with their gender -- whether those be specifically gendered restrooms or all-gender facilities -- for a variety of reasons, ranging from personal safety to inclusion.

Some people seem convinced that allowing trans people to use the bathroom is "dangerous," and they use harmful rhetoric to suggest that women's bathrooms are particularly vulnerable to "men in dresses" who lurk within and prey on cis women and children. This couldn't be further from the truth: Trans women are women, not men in dresses, and rapists and child molesters aren't stopped by a sign that says "cis women only."

But we do know that trans people are at very high risk of being harassed -- and sometimes assaulted -- in bathrooms. Nine percent of respondents to a Williams Institute survey in 2013 said they had been assaulted in the bathroom, and most had been harassed. Making a big production out of who is using a restroom can make it much more dangerous. Some trans people opt to avoid public restrooms -- partially or totally -- because they feel unsafe.

If you've ever held it through the end of a movie or because your plane is about to land, you know how uncomfortable it is to need to use the restroom and not be able to. Now imagine being a 16-year-old kid who needs to pee in first period, but can't, because there's no accessible restroom. Should you try to hold it all day? Go home early?

A number of survey respondents reported health problems, including bladder and kidney infections, caused by trying to avoid the bathroom. Others deliberately withheld fluids, which can be very dangerous. Six percent had visited doctors with problems caused by restroom avoidance.

Trans people deserve to be able to use the bathroom like anyone else. If schools have problems with assault or harassment in restrooms, they need to address a culture problem -- one that doesn't lie with trans students. Most reasonable users of public restrooms want to get in, do their business and get out. They're not peeping under stall doors or grabbing people's genitals.

The Department of Education has just advised trans students that their safety isn't important, opening up the door to further harassment. The change in policy has also signaled to the trans community at large that the entities charged with protecting us will no longer come to our defense.

Categories: News

Florida Shooter Had Record of Death Threats, Violence Against Women, Racist Statements

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 05:00

Seventeen people were killed and at least 15 other people were wounded Wednesday at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, in one of the deadliest school shootings in US history. More evidence has emerged showing that the gunman, a 19-year-old former student named Nikolas Cruz, shared a common trait with many other men who have carried out mass shootings: He had a record of abusing and threatening women. On Thursday, a white nationalist hate group called the Republic of Florida Militia also claimed the gunman was a member who had trained with the militia, but the group's leader later walked back the claim. Former classmates of Cruz did describe him as politically extreme and espousing racist beliefs. For more, we speak with George Ciccariello-Maher, a visiting scholar at the Hemispheric Institute at New York University and the author of "Decolonizing Dialectics," and Trevor Aaronson, executive director and co-founder of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and a contributing writer to The Intercept.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's New President, Known for Moving Profits to Offshore Tax Havens

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 05:00

African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa has been confirmed as the new president of South Africa, after the former leader, Jacob Zuma, resigned from office abruptly on Wednesday night amid a series of corruption scandals. Ramaphosa once led the National Union of Mineworkers under apartheid in the 1980s. He later built a business empire that encompassed mining interests -- including the Marikana platinum mine, where police killed 34 workers during a strike in 2012. Ramaphosa is now one of Africa's wealthiest men, with a net worth of about $450 million. Now, activists are talking about Ramaphosa's ties to tax havens during his time in the corporate sector. We go to Johannesburg to speak with activist Koketso Moeti, founder of the community advocacy organization Amandla.mobi. Her recent piece for News24 is headlined "The rich can't steal, right?"

Please check back later for full transcript.

 

Categories: News

Beholder in Chief

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 05:00
Categories: News

Economic Update: Capitalism's Excuse: Blame the Government

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 05:00

This week's episode discusses how the fishing industry is self-destructing, how malls mirror US capitalism, how the UK is renationalizing, the upcoming spikes in interest rates, and how tax cuts hurt the public. The show also includes an interview with lifelong unionist Charles Fabian on the decline and potential of the US labor movement.

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

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Categories: News

Who's in Charge of the Classified Intelligence About Trump? Trump. It's a Problem

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 05:00

 

How is it possible that the subject of an investigation gets to look at the evidence against him and decide whether or not it sees the light of day? There's no appeal of President Trump's decision in a case like that.

 Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images) Donald Trump addresses the nation after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in Washington, USA on February 15, 2018. (Photo: Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

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Ever since the House Intelligence Committee voted to release Rep. Devin Nunes' now-legendary "memo," and then sent it up to the White House for presidential permission to declassify it, I've been wondering: How is it possible that the subject of an investigation gets to look at the evidence against him and decide whether or not it sees the light of day? There's no appeal of President Trump's decision in a case like that. He has the ultimate and unquestioned power to do it. Is there any other situation in our society where this could happen?

There's been surprisingly little discussion of this bizarre circumstance. It came up briefly during this week's annual assessment of global threats before the Senate Intelligence Committee, when Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., quizzed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the subject:

According to the White House statement, the president was the one that authorized the memo’s declassification. Do you believe there’s an actual, or at least appearance, of a conflict of interest when the president is put in charge of declassifying information that could complicate an ongoing investigation into his own campaign?

Wray demurred from offering an opinion on that, merely stating that it was within the president's authority to decide on declassification. Harris pressed further, asking if he would hand over sensitive information on the Russia investigation if the president asked. Wray replied, "I'm not going to discuss the investigation in question with the president, much less provide information from that investigation to him." That's pretty unequivocal. 

Then Harris got the real issue into the discussion by asking whether the president had the right to declassify information if he received it from a member of the Congress. She wondered whether the president should recuse himself from making decisions regarding his own case. Wray declined to answer, saying the president would have to review all these questions with the White House counsel.

Anyone who's following this story closely knows exactly what Harris was getting at. From the moment the House Intelligence Committee decided to investigate foreign interference in the 2016 election, Nunes -- who was a member of the Trump transition himself -- has been coordinating with the White House. He was caught red-handed last summer, making an utter fool of himself by holding a press conference in which he pretended to be delivering recently discovered information to the president, which was later revealed to have been provided to him by the White House in a midnight caper worthy of Inspector Clouseau.

Nunes then claimed to "recuse" himself from the probe, but although Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is now supposed to be in charge, Nunes remains involved up to his eyeballs, often working in secret and without consultation with the committee. It's extremely likely that he's still coordinating with the White House and sharing information about the case.

That is, unfortunately, not illegal. As Wray told the committee, the president has the right to classify and declassify any information the government produces and there's nothing that says members of Congress cannot provide him with whatever sensitive evidence they turn up that implicates him. Nobody ever expected members of a congressional oversight committee, even those of the president's party, to be so servile that they would willingly give up their own prerogatives in order to protect a president suspected of conspiring with a foreign government.

Trump was advised by White House counsel Don McGahn at the beginning of his term that the president "cannot have a conflict of interest," which he has repeated on a loop whenever he's asked about his myriad financial and business conflicts. Perhaps Trump believes he similarly "cannot have a conflict of interest" in terms of his legal exposure in the Russia investigation. McGahn should know better. This is the sort of assumption that got Nixon into trouble.

Natasha Bertrand at the Atlantic spoke with several experts on this subject, all of whom were troubled by the unprecedented situation. On the question of whether or not Trump should recuse himself from making decisions about classified documents pertaining to the investigation, some said he absolutely should, while others pointed to difficulties regarding the president's duties as commander in chief. David Kris, a FISA expert who served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, told Bertrand that Trump should be careful:

Nixon showed us that level of intimacy between politics and law enforcement with his infamous "enemies list," which outlined ways to "use the available federal machinery," like IRS audits, "to screw our political enemies." Since then, every presidential administration, from Carter to Trump, has adopted policies limiting interactions between the White House and the Justice Department to protect the independence of prosecutorial decisions.

Trump doesn't understand that and he never will. As recently as last month he was telling the press that he likes to "fight back" and they "call it obstruction" -- pretty much admitting that he has tried to obstruct justice. He is the last person on earth who would recuse himself from an investigation into his own conduct. He would consider that to be just plain stupid. If he can declassify sensitive information that makes him look good and keep secret that which could incriminate him, he'll do it without a second thought. He will push the boundaries as far as possible and they are very far indeed.

But the problem goes far beyond Donald Trump. The classification system in the Unites States is a mess. It's been more than 20 years since the Moynihan Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, chaired by the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was released, showing that over-classification actually harms national security by making it more difficult to accurately assess threats and share information. The Brennan Center offered an updated study showing the same thing in 2011.

If we manage to get through the Trump years in one piece, perhaps one of the salutary effects of his blatant abuse of power will finally be a serious attempt to revise these rules. This is no way to run a modern democracy. Look where it's gotten us.

Categories: News

Disability Activists Crash Congress to Stop a Bill That Would Undermine Their Civil Rights

Truth Out - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 05:00

The civil rights of disabled people came under attack Thursday as Congress made it more difficult to sue businesses that are inaccessible to people with disabilities as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although dozens of activists showed up to loudly voice their protest, the House passed HR 620, weakening the 28-year-old law. Now activists are vowing to take their fight to the Senate.

 Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)Harriotte Ranvig, 71, of Somerville Mass., is escorted out of the House chamber on February 15, 2018, after she and a group of protesters disrupted the vote on The ADA Education and Reform Act on which makes it harder for disabled people to sue for discrimination. The aim of the legislation is to curb dishonest lawsuits. (Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

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Anita Cameron remembers the Capitol Crawl like it was yesterday. It was the spring of 1990, and Congress was dragging its feet toward a vote on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark piece of legislation protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities. To call attention to the bill and the accessibility challenges that people with disabilities face on a daily basis, Cameron and dozens of other activists left their wheelchairs and walkers at the steps of the Capitol building and crawled their way to the top before filling the rotunda with their chanting voices.

Cameron and more than 100 others were arrested that day. The protest had an impact: President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA into law a couple of months later.

However, the ADA has not been a magic bullet and is now under threat. Cameron, a Black feminist and LGBTQ activist, was back on Capitol Hill this week protesting a bill in the House that advocates say would gut the ADA in favor of businesses that have failed to accommodate people with disabilities.

As the House members voted 225-192 to pass the bill on Thursday, dozens of activists made their way into the chambers and could be heard chanting as surprised lawmakers turned to look over their shoulders. Cameron was arrested again along with 16 other people, marking her 134th arrest as a disability activist, according to organizers on the ground. The bill, known as HR 620, would make it more difficult to file lawsuits under the ADA against public accommodations like restaurants and stores that are not accessible to people with disabilities.

"You're not going to get your rights because some politicians thought it would be a good thing, and you've got to fight to keep them," Cameron told Truthout in an interview. "So, here it is, almost 28 years later and the ADA is in danger of being gutted ... once again the onus falls on us."

Earlier this week, Cameron was arrested with nine other activists from the direct-action wing of the disability movement as HR 620 moved out of committee. Videos posted on social media show police dragging activists across the floor and carrying one away in a wheelchair.

House Republicans generally supported the bill, and votes from a handful of Democrats secured its passage, to the dismay of progressive activists. Proponents backed by retail lobbyists argue the legislation is needed to stop frivolous lawsuits against businesses such as hotels, stores and restaurants with architectural barriers that make their facilities difficult for people with disabilities to access. The bill would require people with disabilities to give advance notice before filing a lawsuit under the ADA, and give businesses up to six months to outline a plan for removing the barrier and make "substantial progress" toward doing so, although what exactly constitutes "substantial progress" is unclear.

"So, this is basically saying to disabled people, 'You can wait indefinitely for your rights to be honored,'" said Gregg Beratan, an activist with the grassroots disability rights group ADAPT and manager of government affairs at the Center for Disability Rights, in an interview with Truthout. "We are approaching the 28th anniversary of the ADA and they still want us to beg for our rights. It's appalling."

The legislation would saddle people with disabilities with "additional time-consuming and exhausting" red tape when asserting their rights and deal a "devastating blow" to the ADA, according to ADAPT. The ADA allows people with disabilities to sue public businesses if they fail to make their facilities accessible to people in wheelchairs, for example. Such lawsuits are permitted to force compliance with the ADA and pay for legal fees, but not to demand monetary damages.

These types of lawsuits -- along with plenty of voluntary efforts made by forward-thinking institutions and business -- have been instrumental in expanding equal access to public life for people with disabilities since 1990. HR 620 would make it more difficult to file lawsuits and remove incentives for voluntary compliance, according to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

Cameron said she uses wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices to get around, and today, she can go to nearly any city in the country and use public transportation similarly to people without disabilities, thanks to the ADA. She argues that businesses have had almost 28 years to come into compliance with the law, and there is no reason to give those that haven't extra time to do so now.

"I can get on a lift, and people generally don't stare anymore.... I can get on a bus and go wherever I want to go," Cameron said. "I can go to the movies, I can go to restaurants, I can go into banks, I can go places that everyone else can go.... This is why it is really distressing and disturbing that you have some of these places that are not accessible, and if [HR 620] passes, then they will have that much longer to remain inaccessible."

Beratan, who was arrested along with Cameron at the initial protest in Congress this week, said there has been a problem with frivolous lawsuits filed under the ADA, but only by a small number of lawyers operating in just a few states. He said that if lawmakers really wanted to fix the problem, they would write legislation that targets those attorneys, not the ADA and people with disabilities.

The House rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island) that would have removed the most controversial elements of the bill. Langevin, who was paralyzed by a gunshot while helping police teach gun safety to Boy Scouts, is the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress. Now that the bill has passed the House, disability rights activists will turn their attention to the Senate, where Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), who lost her legs to a rocket-propelled grenade attack while flying an Army National Guard helicopter in Iraq, is rallying lawmakers against the bill.

Cameron said the legislation fits into a larger pattern that the disability movement is all too familiar with. When people with disabilities are unable to access public spaces and resources like everyone else, the onus falls back on them to challenge whatever business or institution is responsible for making a change. When politicians attack and undermine hard-fought civil rights, it's up to the disability movement to raise public awareness and organize in protest.

"To me, if [HR 620] passes and they get away with that, then what other parts of the ADA are they going to come for?" Cameron said. "They are not going to stop. It seems that this administration is taking away the hard-earned rights for people with disabilities that we fought for."

Cameron said it's important to remember that disability rights are civil rights, and activists are demanding equal rights, not "special" rights for certain people.

Businesses should make their facilities accessible because it's the right thing to do, but that's not the only incentive. One in three households in the United States has a member with a disability, and together they represent $1 billion in spending power, according to the commercial analytics firm Neilson. Every shopper has their own needs that drive spending habits, and people with disabilities tend to spend more on common retail items than non-disabled consumers.

"You really don't want our money?" Cameron asked.

Categories: News

Florida High School Shooting

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 04:35

Florida High School Shooting | 15 Feb 2018 | When students were evacuated from the Parkland Florida high school, some thought it was part of the day's drill. Youths interviewed after the incident appeared older than high school students. They repeated the same talking points. Before and during the shooting, fire alarms occurred. Students said they were prepped for this type incident weeks earlier. Why? Two ambulances on the scene had no bodies in them. An unverified video showed men loading weapons on a truck near the school. Most disturbing, one student said she was speaking to [suspect Nikolas] Cruz when she heard gunshots elsewhere in the school. She didn't see a gun in Cruz's possession. He was accused of using an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle with multiple magazines - not easily concealed beneath clothing...

Categories: News

Stolen Comrades: Inzaurralde, Scotto, Nell and the Unluckiest Couple In the World

Anarchist News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:18

(As reconstructed from the files of the Archives of Terror, with the assistance of Anna Recalde Miranda and Rosa Palau)

Arrest--29 March 1977—(a scenario)
Late night, a quiet room in a small monthly hotel located in a southern barrio of Asunción, Paraguay. Three anarchists sit and talk, perhaps discussing the news from Argentina or from Uruguay. The door explodes in flying debris, wood and metal. National Police in helmets throw the comrades to the floor, screaming in Spanish they search the room and then throw the men into the red Chevy wagon out front, the dread Little Red Riding Hood, the vehicle whose sole purpose is to bring living human beings to hell.

Down the hall, another room. An Argentine couple, very young and very much in love listen as the horrible situation unfolds. They hold each other, they fear. Then comes the knock at their door. The scene is repeated, only this time, the terror belongs to them.

Inzuarralde—Anarchist Fighter
The story begins with Gustavo Edison Inzuarralde (born 4 August 1942 at Minas, Uruguay) who was by any measure a hard core militant, anarchist, guerrilla, and now, martyr. By 1964 at the age of 22 he had joined the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU) and had formed an action cell named “Martín.” Three years later (11 November, 1967) he was arrested for carrying a pistol and a machine gun on the streets of Montevideo, though he was released after only a ten days in jail. On September 24, 1970 he was again arrested for a failed robbery in Carrasco, Uruguay and subsequently charged with the crime of forming a criminal association. He spent the next several months in prison, but was liberated and exiled under a Uruguayan law designed to pass subversive elements on to other countries. He was flown, by the Uruguayan authorities, to Chile where Allende’s socialist experiment was in full swing—and where an anarchist might at least be safe, if not wholly welcome.

Inzuarralde flourished in Chile, his training in adult education led to work designing programs for campesinos to learn to read, write and think critically. He was also employed at a factory that made pre-fabricated homes. Clearly, though, his mind and attention were never fully diverted from Uruguay. Some time in late 1973 or early 1974 Inzuarralde leaves Chile (prior to the Pinochet coup), possibly reading the political situation correctly, and settles legally in Argentina. In Argentina he reconnects with the Uruguayan anarchist community in exile and they begin to make plans.

July 1975—The Uruguayan Anarchist Movement
Buenos Aires, various anarchist and libertarian Uruguayan sections form the Partido por la Victoria del Pueblo (PVP). The party was meant to consolidate and extend anarcho-syndicalist ideas through the Uruguayan left, and with a view to turning the Tupumaros into a more libertarian resistance. Simultaneously the PVP formed an armed guerrilla movement known as the OPR-33 which set about to raise funds and secure arms. In addition to being a founder of the PVP, Inzuarralde was known to be in the command formation of the OPR-33. Inzuarralde also participated in the Worker Student Resistance (ROE), yet another group allied with both PVP and OPR-33.

Yet, just as the Uruguayans are pulling their shit together, Argentina was moving further and further towards the abyss of a coup. By March 1976 Isabel Peron and the right-wing peronistas could no longer keep the country from pulling itself apart and Videla and the generals stepped in to destroy the burgeoning revolution, including any radical foreign elements. Within 18 months of the founding of the PVP most of its leaders, activists and guerrillas were imprisoned, dead, or disappeared. In late 1976, and early 1977 plans were made to move any remaining PVP militants to Europe, preferably the safety of Switzerland, to sit out the growing repression and wait for better political weather.

As part of this process, an OPR-33 quartermaster named Jose Nell, a 67-year-old Argentine with a long history of working with left-wing peronistas, communists and others, had been crossing back and forth between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay—securing false documents and arranging travel. The general scenario was that militants would enter Paraguay from Brazil through Ciudad del Este. In Asunción false passports would be secured, the militants would then re-enter Brazil, travel to Rio de Janeiro and fly to Europe. Nell passes repeatedly back and forth between Buenos Aires and Asunción during January and February of 1977 and helps at least two or three anarchists get to the safety of Europe. The passage, it seems, is secure.

Spring 1977 Paraguay--Detention
So on 20 March, 1977 Inzuarralde passes through Ciudad del Este on a false document and makes his way to Asunción and the small hotel that Nell has been operating out of. In addition, another guerrilla, Nelson Rodolfo Santana Scotto, a 27-year-old Uruguayan, passes through customs at Puerto Falcon on March 21, 1977 on his way to the same destination. Scotto, during his subsequent interrogation in Asunción, admits to being a trainer with OPR-33, his expertise includes military science, making explosive and incendiary devices, and bank robbery. Meeting Nell in Asunción must have been bittersweet for the two anarchists, so many militants dead or disappeared, so much work left to do, and danger so close.

The last piece of this puzzle is a young Argentine couple, Dora Marta Landa Gil and Alejandro Jose Logoluso, 22 and 20 years old, respectively. Neither seems to have had much of a political past, Dora Marta never admits to any political activity at all and while Logoluso admits to being a peronista there were so many permutations of peronism during the 70s that there is no way to even assess his link to the Montonero guerrillas on the left, or the legalist peronist mainstream on the right. They have come to Asunción to start a new life, and like the three militants, are looking for false papers--not to travel, but to work. Thing is, all five are staying at the same hotel, and all five are using the same intermediary to try and obtain false documents.

The intermediary, Nilda Leon de Corvalan, proves, in this instance, to be an informer. And her information leads to subsequent arrest of all five on 29 March 1977, for not only possessing forged instruments, but for seeking to obtain further false documents. Heated requests go out from Asunción to other Condor countries for information on the five, and a single dossier on Inzuarralde, compiled by authorities in Montevideo, is forwarded to the Paraguayan National Police. It seems they have caught a big fish…what to do with him?

There is a single attempt to free any of the five during their detention in Paraguay. The parents of Dora Marta traveled to Asunción and met with various police and political authorities. While the files indicate that they are told of her arrest and detention, there is no indication that their pleas for their daughters release were ever even considered. They returned to Buenos Aires empty handed, though likely hopeful—she was alive and they knew where she was.

Spring 1977 Part 2--Interrogations
The files dead-end here in terms of the disposition of the prisoners. There is a lengthy document covering the interrogation of Scotto, it seems clear he knew that the game was up and pretty much told in disjointed terms his entire radical history. He never implicates anyone else, but admits to a string of some pretty wild activities--bank robberies, bombings, and general mayhem. He also spells out the life of an anarchist living underground in Uruguay and Argentina, the clandestinity, the lack of work, the publishing, the writing, the late night meetings to discuss tactics and strategy.

There is also a document covering the interrogation of Nell, though his material is more down-to-earth, commonplace. It is the work of a militia quartermaster, obtaining food, shelter, clothing, securing identity papers and ensuring that guerrillas have all they need to fight. The ideas that motivate the old militant never surface. They don’t need to.

No such interrogation document for Inzuarralde exists, rather there is a brief list of material that he discussed including his trip to Paraguay to obtain papers, his work in the ROE and other organizations, and that’s it. So he either 1) told them very little, or 2) his interrogation documents were subsequently destroyed or waylaid.

There was a concern on the part of the National Police that the militants had come to Asunción as part of an assassination team, or teams. Videla, the Argentine dictator was scheduled to visit Paraguay on 15 May 1977 and the presence of the three anarchists was considered prima facie evidence that something was up. Yet no one admits to it during interrogation, and the absence of explosives or arms at their capture indicates that what they were doing in Paraguay was just what they said they were doing, trying to get the hell out of South America.

Rendition --16 May 1977
There are no records of the negotiations between the Argentine Army and the Paraguayan National Police regarding the transfer of the five prisoners. The military and police bureaucrats were far too cagey to keep such documents, and it is likely that the final arrangements were made telephonically to further decrease the chance of discovery. There are, however, numerous instances in the files mentioning in detail both the flight and the prisoners.

I quote from the most precise document, from the day of the transfer 16 May 1977, written by Pastor Coronel, Chief of the Paraguayan National Police addressed to the Argentine Army transfer team..

“I have the honor to address you and your superiors with the object of letting you know that on this date at 4:34 pm a twin engine plane of the Argentine Army registered 5-7-30-0653 piloted by Capitan de Corbeta Jose Abdala flew to the city of Buenos Aires with the following prisoners: Gustavo Edison Inzuarralde (uruguayo), Nelson Redolfo Santana Scotto (urugauyo), Jose Nell (argentino), Alejandro Jose Logoluso (argentino) and Dora Marta Landis Gil (argentina). The persons mentioned were delivered by your direction in the presence of Cnel. Don Benito Guanes and Cap. Fragata Lazaro Sosa and Jose Montenegro and Juan Manuel Berret all with the SIDE (Servicio de Intelligence [of the Argentine Army])”

As I was researching the material I found myself, more than once, watching (in my minds eye) the five prisoners being loaded onto the plane. I see the afternoon tropical sun casting shadows across the tarmac, the heat tickles my back—a shiver, the revving of the engines, the plane being taxied to its ready position. And inside the plane sit that incredibly unlucky young couple looking to build a new life, and the anarchists looking to build a new world, all prisoners now. I stand and watch the plane as it rises in the still humid air fading into the horizon bisected into blue sky and palm forest--one last glimpse and gone, vanished—as if it had never existed. Disappeared, as sure as the human cargo it carried.

Aftermath
The story doesn’t end here in the files. Several requests regarding the disposition of the prisoners are extant. The first is an undated appeal from a couple living in Argentina who appear to have been friends with Inzuarralde—Britt Marie Stenkvist and Lars-Goran Olsson. The letter—written to Pastor Coronel indicates the Inzuarralde is married, that his wife, who is living in Switzerland, gave birth to a daughter in July of 1977 and that they are all desperate for news of his whereabouts. There was no response from the Paraguayan authorities. The next request for information comes from the International Red Cross Committee and demands, immediately, any and all information on the disposition of the five. The Paraguayans dash off a response that all five were expelled on 16 May 1977—and the unwritten part—they have no idea what happened to them. The friends and family of Dora Martin Landi Gil also demanded information about her whereabouts in September of 1977, but the note, forwarded to the police, seems to have been filed and forgotten. Finally, the United Nations Committee for Refugees gets involved in the case of Jose Nell through the Paraguayan Foreign Ministry. One last time, the note is filed without any response—likely they referred the UN to the material for the Red Cross and then let the matter drop.

Final Thought
I find no desire for closure in this story. The fact that five human beings disappeared off the face the earth requires no ending, no odes, no requiem. What does need to be said, however, is that in the case of the three comrades—they fought back, hard—all their lives and to the end of their lives.

Inzuarralde, Scotto, Nell.

Never Forget Them, Never Forgive.

El Errante

Tags: Paul Z. Simonscategory: Essays
Categories: News

The Hotwire #18: February 14, 2018

Anarchist News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:14

From CrimethInc.

Toxic Waste in STL—Labor Struggles in the Techno Age—A Rant on Love

Hotwire 18 The Hotwire

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

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Summary

The second episode of our second season! There is antifa activity in Olympia, Athens, and Seattle. Vaneesa Hopson died while in the custody of Olympia police and we report on the death and the subsequent protests.. There are strikes by delivery drivers across Hong Kong and Europe, by prisoners detained at an immigrant detention center in Washington, and walkouts across the country as part of the Fight for 15 campaign. We interview an anarchist active in the resistance to the Westlake Landfill. In honor of Valentine’s Day there’s a rant against conventional love. Stay tuned until the Repression Roundup to hear about the Black Pride 4.

Notes and Links Tags: Crimethinc.podcastthe hotwirecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Here’s The Fucking News!

Anarchist News - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:01

From sub.media

After a long hiatus, subMedia’s foul-mouthed news anchor, the Stimulator, is finally back with his brand new show…. The Fuckin News!

In this pilot episode of TFN, Stim interviews far-right youtube troll, El Chico Lobo, and covers the alt-right’s pitiful attempt to hold a picnic in Chicano Park. Plus some good ol’ fashioned riot porn from Italy.

 

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Tags: submediavideolanguagecategory: Projects
Categories: News

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