The school year has just wrapped up for Kevin Short, which means he has more time to devote to activism. The high school student turned 17 last month — only one more year until he can vote, he says excitedly — but he’s already cut his teeth in advocacy through his work with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Among his priorities: ensuring the state starts to put people and the planet over the profits of coal companies that have long defined the region’s economy.
Short credits his mother, Linda, with his interest in activism. Though she’s not politically involved herself, she taught him to value empathy above all. When he became attuned to the problems around him, “the empathy that she taught me translated into political advocacy,” he says. His first foray into politics came through his work on LGBTQ+ issues. His family was supportive through and through when he came out as gay, but the issue is personal for him, especially as he lives in a conservative area of the state.
He grew more politically involved around the 2016 election, joining, and becoming president, of the Kentucky High School Democrats. From there, he turned his attention to inequality and systemic racism — “things that can be combated,” Short says, “but not if people keep turning a blind eye to them.”
The desire to shine a light on inequality brought Short to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. His mother drove him — “a literal driving force behind my activism,” he jokes — to a coffee meeting with an organizer that changed the course of his activism. It was that meeting, Short says, that made him decide to stay and fight for the future of Kentucky for the rest of his life, rather than moving away at the first opportunity.
Besides, his roots in Kentucky run deep. After joining Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, he learned that organizing with the group was a family affair. His grandfather worked with them in the 1990s to prevent strip mining of Black Mountain, Kentucky’s highest peak. His other grandfather, a coal miner who got black lung on the job, had also acquainted him with the toll coal was taking on the state’s people. Short’s desire to turn Kentucky’s economy green is personal.
“Kentucky’s always been ‘coal country.’ That’s how they view us,” Short says. “I think it’s so imperative that people from Kentucky, from the coal areas, say ‘this is a dying industry, it’s not coming back, stop lying to us, and let’s work on a new transition.’”
Through Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Short has become involved in efforts to do just that. Earlier this year, he lobbied against net metering legislation that would make it more difficult for low-income people to get solar power in Kentucky. Short also makes regular calls to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office in favor of the RECLAIM Act, which would create jobs by reclaiming abandoned coal mines in the state.
Everyone Short talks to is supportive of turning towards renewable energy, but that doesn’t mean the transition is politically simple. “It’s like there’s no alternative in these communities,” Short says. “The economy is surrounded by coal.”
In Harlan County, Short mentions, the dependency on coal led to an education crisis. As coal jobs dwindled, the miners left. Their spouses — many of them teachers and education support staff — went, too, leaving the county with a serious teacher shortage.
“It has a domino effect like that, and we need a nuanced view of these issues,” Short says. “We need a nuanced plan that we can explain to communities in a fair way. Because no one sentence can explain how we can transition like we have to do.” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth worked with the public to develop a plan along these guidelines. Empower Kentucky, their project, lays out common-sense principles for transitioning the state away from coal and towards renewable energy.
But a concrete plan is far from the only thing necessary, especially given some of the established narratives around coal in Kentucky — and the coal barons financing them. “When you have one force that is good and true, but one force with money that is deceitful and only cares about lining its pockets,” Short says, “you’re going to have misinformation spread.”
Short remembers seeing a Fox News clip on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, where coal CEO Robert Murray admitted he didn’t think coal jobs would be returning to the U.S. “The fact that you can have a clip of a coal CEO saying ‘coal’s not coming back where it’s already been lost’ and yet they still say that that exact line to people, you just really have to think they’re really willing to say anything, do whatever, as long as the money keeps coming in.”
Seeing what ordinary Kentuckians are up against helped motivate his work with the Poor People’s Campaign. Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is one of the campaign’s state partners, and Short has spoken at their rallies. The campaign’s emphasis on fixing systemic issues is particularly appealing to him.
“All of these issues, when boiled down, are because people in power assume that people without power are without it because of their own problems, not that the system is rigged against them, but because they’re not willing to put in the effort, without realizing that sometimes you can put in all the effort you can, and it’s still not enough.”
Short is also passionate about bringing more young people into the fold of progressive organizing, something that his organization excels at doing. “Kentuckians for the Commonwealth does such a great job of having respectful conversations with younger individuals. Because I know some people I’ve met — elected officials, even — aren’t very respectful towards people who can’t vote for them.”
It’s important for younger people to know they don’t have to wait until they’re able to vote to be politically involved. “Most people my age think ‘I don’t know enough about that subject to be talking about it with elected officials,’ when they probably do,” Short says.
“Knowing that we need better jobs and a good environment? That’s all you need to know to tell your lawmakers,” Short says. “It’s up to us to express our will.”
Primary season kicks into high gear this month, with 17 states holding elections in June and more to come throughout the summer. It starts what will likely be a contentious campaign, the first federal cycle since the presidency was determined by just 80,000 votes in three states. Americans need no reminding that every vote counts.
But voters might face several hurdles when they go to register or cast a ballot. The past decade has seen a number of laws that restrict the right to vote. This year in particular, voters are wary. Russian interference in the 2016 balloting has Americans questioning the integrity of our election system. And out-of-control gerrymandered legislative maps lock some voters into districts where they don’t have much of a choice about who they send to Washington.
Here are the three major threats to the ballot this fall — and what’s being done to protect the vote:Restrictive Voting Laws
This fall, voters in at least eight states will face more stringent voting laws than they did in the last federal election cycle in 2016. And voters in 23 states will face tougher restrictions than they did in 2010 (the last major wave election). The most common impediments are strict voter ID laws (read the research on why these laws make it harder for some citizens to vote), but they also include additional burdens on registration and cutbacks on early voting and absentee voting — this year, voters in Iowa will have just 29 early voting days, down from 40 prior to that state’s midterm primaries.
If these laws remain in effect, they have the potential to make it harder for millions of Americans to vote. Even with an expected wave of enthusiasm this November, a growing body of research shows these laws reduce participation, particularly among communities of color, low-income voters, young people, older citizens, and people with disabilities.
So what can be done?
Besides passing laws that expand voting access, judicial orders are likely the best way to stop some of these laws before Election Day. Courts in as many as eight states could issue decisions in lawsuits that could temporarily stop some of these laws before November. And even in places where restrictive laws aren’t going anywhere, voter education and mobilization are key so that people know what they’re up against when they head to the polling place.Election Security
While there’s no evidence that Russian interference changed vote totals in the 2016 election, a recent Senate report showed that agents linked to the Russian government targeted election systems in 18 states. These agents attempted to access voting-related websites in at least six states and even gained access to some registration databases.
The interference might not have changed the outcome of the election, but it shook Americans’ confidence in our nation’s outdated voting machines and computer systems. And rightly so. This fall, 43 states will use voting machines that are no longer manufactured, and officials in 33 states say they must replace their machines by 2020 but are unlikely to have the funds to do so. In a recent survey, some election officials told the Brennan Center they’ve had to resort to buying spare parts on eBay and in some cases are using computers that still run Windows 2000. Older machines aren’t just more vulnerable to hacks — they’re also more likely to break down.
Adding to the uncertainty, 13 states still use voting machines that produce no paper record as their primary polling place equipment. That makes a software-independent audit virtually impossible.
The concern isn’t limited to hacks or malfunctions that affect vote totals. If websites fail, voters may not know where to cast a ballot. If a recount is needed and there’s no paper trail, voters may lose confidence in the results. It’s no way to run a democracy.
Fortunately, Congress set aside $380 million for states to upgrade their election infrastructure. While our analysis shows that this amount won’t be enough to replace all the nation’s vulnerable voting machines and computers, it nonetheless represents a down payment on phasing out the most outdated systems. And it’s not too late — in 2017, Virginia was able to decertify and replace all its paperless machines only two months before statewide elections.
Organizations like the Brennan Center, Verified Voting, Common Cause, and the National Election Defense Coalition are sending materials to election officials across the country that gives them guidance on how to secure older machines and offers suggestions for replacements and fixes that can happen before November 6.Gerrymandering
Partisan gerrymandering — or the process of redrawing legislative maps to lock in power for one political party — continues to skew the results of American elections. Sophisticated computer models have made it easier for whoever’s in power to divide opponents and secure nearly bulletproof districts that don’t change power even when it’s apparent that voters want change.
A Brennan Center analysis has found that extreme partisan gerrymandering in just half a dozen key states gives Republicans an advantage of 16 to 17 seats in the House of Representatives. And our research has shown that this fall, Democrats would likely have to win the national popular vote by nearly 11 points to take a slim majority in the House. There’s a real risk that Democrats will win the national vote but lose the House (which happened in 2012).
And it’s not just Republicans who are at fault. Democrats hold fewer state legislatures (where redistricting is often controlled), but in states like Maryland, they, too, have used gerrymandering to secure their control of the state’s Congressional delegation.
In response, citizen-led efforts in four states have put redistricting reform on the ballot for this fall. And crucially, a wave of lawsuits against partisan gerrymandering has culminated in a Supreme Court case that could ultimately establish a national standard to determine if an extremely gerrymandered map is unconstitutional. A decision is expected this month.And Reasons to Be Optimistic…
Despite these threats, there’s growing momentum behind other efforts to protect Americans’ voting rights. The Brennan Center’s signature proposal — automatic voter registration, where information you provide at government offices like the DMV is automatically used to add you to the registration rolls or update your registration — will be in effect in seven states and the District of Columbia. By our count, state legislatures this year have introduced more bills to expand voting than attempts to restrict it. And in Florida, voters will have a chance to restore voting rights to more than a million people who can’t vote because of a prior felony conviction.
The threats this year are powerful and diffuse, but citizens nationally are taking up the fight to protect the vote.
We are pleased to announce the thirteenth annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair, located on unceded Coast Salish Territory in Victoria, British Columbia.
The Bookfair is for anarchists and non-anarchists, with participants from all over North America and beyond. Events include book and information tables, workshops, readings, films, presentations, and much more! Get involved! Please get in touch with proposals for workshops and tables by August 25th, 2018. Late proposals will be considered but may not be included promotional material.
1. Bookfair Dates & Contacts
2. How to Request a Table
3. Call for Workshops & Presentations Proposals
4. Volunteers needed!
1. Victoria Anarchist Bookfair Dates & Contacts
September 22nd and 23rd
Fernwood NRG, Victoria, BC, Lekwungen Territory
We are pleased to announce the thirteenth annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair, located on unceded Lekwungen Territory in Victoria, British Columbia. The Bookfair is for anarchists and non-anarchists, with participants from all over North America and beyond. The Bookfair always includes workshops on a wide range of topics. We seek to challenge colonial attitudes, introduce anarchism to the public, foster dialogue between various political traditions, and create radical, inclusive, anti-oppressive spaces.
Participants with different visions, practices, and traditions are welcome. Events include book and information tables, workshops, readings,films, presentations, and much more!
Please consult our Statement of Principles before sending your proposal. It can be found on our website:http://victoriaanarchistbookfair.ca
2. How to Request a Table for September 22nd and 23rd
The heart of the Bookfair is the main room including booksellers, distributors, independent presses and activist groups from all over BC, North America, and abroad. If you’d like to table this year, please provide a short description of your group and the materials you intend to distribute at the Bookfair.
There is no fee for tabling at the Bookfair, but we suggest 10% of sales after expenses in order to help us cover costs.
3. Workshop & Presentation Proposals
The Bookfair organizing collective is currently seeking workshop and presentation proposals.
As stated above this Bookfair we are looking to convene in order to challenge the ongoing colonization of our communities and our minds. We are looking for workshops that discuss Indigenous perspectives, de-colonialisation, social struggles, and environmental issues. We also aim to foster a growing movement in resistance to colonialism through the sharing of practical skills. Together we can acknowledge our past and move forward with meaningful solidarity.
Workshops may be aimed at people who are curious about, or new to, anarchist ideas and radical practices; alternatively they might address a topic in depth for people who are already familiar with the subject.
Standard Bookfair workshops last for 50 minutes with a 10-minute break in between. While we are open to a variety of workshop formats, we recommend that facilitators leave at least 20 minutes for discussion at the end of their presentations. Each year we get a lot of submissions, but if we don’t have space at the Bookfair, we still want to help make your workshop happen!
Please provide a title and short description of the workshop’s content in your submission. If your workshop is accepted, this information will be reprinted in the program zine.
We need your help! The Victoria Anarchist Bookfair & Festival of Anarchy Collectives are always looking for new people to assist behind the scenes. We’re looking for help in all kinds of areas such as postering, welcoming & information tabling, room set-up, kids activities, counselling and safe-space support, cleanup and more. The Bookfair is entirely volunteer-run and helping out is a great way to get involved and meet new people. If you’re interested, please read the volunteer descriptions, our collective principles and accessibility statements on our website, and let us know how you’d like to help out!
This story was co-published with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
When immigration officers raided a rural Pennsylvania poultry transport company early last year, a lawyer for five undocumented men arrested saw plenty of evidence their rights had been violated.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had no warrant to drive past the company’s “No Trespassing” signs and block the exits with their vans, or to demand documentation on the workers’ legal status. According to witnesses, the officers seemed to target workers solely based on their ethnicity: They lined up Latinos for questioning and asked white employees to lead them to more Latino workers.
In a ruling last month, a Philadelphia immigration judge, John Carle, found there was a strong argument that the ICE officers had “egregiously violated” the Constitution. He noted that the agency presented no evidence to counter allegations of racial profiling.
If the case had played out in criminal court, such a finding might well have resulted in the men going free.
In immigration courts, however, there’s a higher bar, both for proving officers violated defendants’ rights and for getting cases thrown out as a result. Even when immigrants manage to meet this standard, they can get deported anyway.
The system is backed up by decades-old court rulings that consider undocumented immigrants to be in continuous violation of the law, regardless of how they are arrested, and that give officers extra latitude to factor in their targets’ physical appearance when making immigration arrests.
“Even if you were to suppress the evidence because you didn’t have proper consent … that doesn’t matter,” said Claude Arnold, a former ICE special agent. “The fact remains that the person is here illegally.”
ICE says its agents are forbidden from racial profiling, and are refreshed on training every six months.
But advocates for immigrants and some judges say that the logic governing immigration rulings only emboldens officers to trample over constitutional rights.
“It gives a huge incentive to do intentionally illegal searches, because they have a huge way to take advantage of it,” said Rex Chen, an attorney at Safe Passages Project.
In the case involving the Lancaster County poultry workers, the racial-profiling argument has done little to derail ICE’s deportation efforts.
After arresting the workers, ICE officials looked them up in a database and found that four of them had overstayed their visas. Since this information did not stem from their arrests, but was obtained separately, Carle decided their deportation cases could proceed.
“All they did instead was basically almost say, ‘Nanny-nanny, boo-boo, we got you anyway,’” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, a lawyer at the Legal Aid Justice Center who has worked on similar cases. “Like, so what if we violated constitutional rights? We have this other piece of evidence, and that’s it, you’re done for.”It’s Harder for Immigrants to Prove an Unlawful Search
Unlike criminal defendants, immigrants must demonstrate not only that officers acted unconstitutionally, but that their violations were egregious, or represented a widespread pattern, when filing a motion to suppress evidence as the poultry workers did.
This higher bar dates back to Supreme Court guidance from 1984, when the court concluded that allowing motions to suppress in deportation cases would compel courts to release people who would then “immediately resume their commission of a crime through their continuing, unlawful presence in this country.”
At the time, almost all of those arrested for immigration violations agreed to leave the country without a formal hearing, the justices wrote, so challenges to the legality of immigration officers’ actions virtually never came up and wouldn’t deter them.
The justices also trusted that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the precursor to ICE, had “its own comprehensive scheme for deterring Fourth Amendment violations by its agents.”
Its conclusions “might change,” the justices wrote, “if there developed good reason to believe that Fourth Amendment violations by INS officers were widespread.”
A lot has changed since then. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, immigration enforcement moved under the Department of Homeland Security and greatly widened in scope. Now, most immigrants choose to fight their deportations, as the mammoth 680,000-plus case backlog can attest.
Accusations of racial profiling abound — committed by cops on highways, Border Patrol agents on buses and ICE on neighborhood streets — though motions to suppress are still rare and filed by the most aggressive lawyers.
Few cases will have enough evidence to prove an egregious violation.
“The best indicators of racial profiling are comments,” said Sandoval-Moshenberg. “We have one case in which the ICE agent said, ‘Hey, are any other Spanish families living on the block?’ … Otherwise, it’s very difficult to prove racial profiling. The officer always has some other reason on why he stopped your client and no one else.”
One of those reasons could legitimately be “Mexican appearance,” thanks to another Supreme Court ruling.
In that 1975 case, a U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican descent was stopped by Border Patrol agents. Two undocumented people were passengers in the car. The agents said their only reason for the stop was that the car’s occupants looked Mexican.
The court found that “Mexican appearance” alone could not justify an immigration stop, but ruled that a list of examples, used together, could. They included: “characteristic appearance of persons who live in Mexico, relying on such factors as the mode of dress and haircut”; “facts in light of [the officer’s] experience in detecting illegal entry and smuggling”; “driver’s behavior,” such as “erratic driving” or “obvious attempts to evade officers”; and “characteristics of the area in which they encounter a vehicle.”
“All those give an awful lot of discretion to rely on race,” said Kevin R. Johnson, a law professor at University of California-Davis. “Even if they say, ‘Well, he’s wearing working clothes’ or ‘He’s wearing clothes typical of an immigrant from Mexico,’ or something like that, there’s an awful lot of leeway there.”
When confronted with public outcry about profiling, ICE and the Border Patrol usually respond that agents used “a multitude of indicators that, when put together, raise a reasonable suspicion of illegal alienage.”
For example, in an Oregon case caught on video by a legal observer for the ACLU of Oregon last year, Isidro Andrade-Taffolla, a U.S. citizen, alleged racial profiling after he was questioned as he left a county courthouse. ICE officers in plainclothes had approached him with a picture of another man and asked for his identification, but Andrade-Taffolla said the picture looked nothing like him except for his skin color.
ICE officials said the questioning was in line with their policies. “Physical appearance wasn’t the only thing in common between the person questioned and the actual target,” Matthew Bourke, a spokesman for ICE, told ProPublica. “ICE officers had information that the target would be at the courthouse, and that — combined with a similar physical match — was why ICE officers asked for identification.”
Peter Schuck, a Yale law professor, argues that some reliance on profiling may be necessary for officers to act quickly and efficiently.
“It’s hard to see how immigration enforcement could occur without some kind of stereotyping and generalization,” he said. “It stands to reason that they don’t know much about the people they are seeking, so they have to rely on inferences, and those inferences are generally supported by some stereotypes.”
Arnold, the former ICE agent, said officers use observations about a person’s “manner and demeanor” to assess whether they could be here illegally. According to him, these can include noticing when people speak only Spanish or appear nervous when encountered by an immigration officer.
“Maybe a bunch of people are running,” he said. “Maybe the five white employees are just standing there; they aren’t running. It has nothing to do with their skin color, but I know clearly they are not afraid of ICE. … That is an indicator to me that they might be legal.”Proving Profiling May Not Be Enough to Get an Arrest Tossed
ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the Lancaster County poultry workers’ arrest in a series this spring about ICE’s aggressive enforcement in Pennsylvania, an effort not completely supported by local communities.
Luke Brubaker, a prominent dairy farmer, mentioned the workers’ arrest in a meeting between President Trump and agriculture-industry representatives. Brubaker said he told the president that ICE had been arresting essential workers in Pennsylvania agriculture.
According to the workers’ motion to suppress evidence, filed in October, ICE officers came onto the property on April 5, 2017, with a photo of a man they were looking for. His name was “Alix,” and he worked for a company called MainJoy Unlimited.
Workers told them they were at the wrong company, and nobody with that name worked there. But agents immediately moved to ask for the documents of the workers who did.
“They were totally taking advantage of the language barrier and the fact that these guys didn’t know they had any rights,” Nichole Carpenter, the company’s human resources manager, told a reporter. “The three mechanics in the mechanic’s bay — white guys in their 50s — just continued to work like nothing was going on.”
Under duress, the Latino poultry workers admitted to being undocumented.
ICE used those admissions, and the workers’ lack of documentation at the time of the arrest, to try to get them deported. The men asked the judge to prohibit ICE from using that evidence, arguing they were intimidated and coercively interrogated because of their race.
They added, in the motion, that an officer physically forced one of them to sign papers and get fingerprinted. They also said an officer told them they had come to the United States to “take his jobs and invade his country.”
In December, ICE voluntarily withdrew the evidence gathered from the arrests of four of the men, saying it had found independent proof in a database that they were in the country illegally because they’d overstayed short-term visas.
The Philadelphia judge made his preliminary ruling on the motion to suppress only for the one man without a trail in the database. ICE had no record of him, presumably because he entered the country illegally. The ICE officer who ran his background check had simply written “no criminal history” and, crucially, “no migration history” on his intake form.
In court documents, ICE called the interrogation “consensual.” But the judge found that there was enough evidence to suggest ICE officers had detained him because he was “Latino-looking.” He ruled that ICE would have to prove otherwise or drop its case. If ICE decides to fight the allegations, it will do so at a hearing in October.
The judge allowed deportation proceedings to go forward against the four workers in the database. The men are out of custody, on bond, and plan to appeal Carle’s decision.
“It’s a weird situation,” said Andy Mahon, the lawyer for the workers. “Because they did things the ‘right way,’” — entered the country legally — “they are in a worse position than someone who didn’t, because now that evidence is being used against them.”
The agency declined to comment on the case, other than to say: “ICE’s enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”
Arnold said that even if an immigrant proves an ICE officer searched him without cause or consent, it still doesn’t negate being here illegally. “The court can’t remedy that and say, ‘OK, yeah, we’ll make that person legal.’ How do they do that? The court does not have the authority,” he said.
Over the years, some judges have questioned the Supreme Court’s reasoning, seeing outcomes like this as encouragement for ICE officers to overstep in their operations, in hopes that they’ll be able to net enough deportable people.
In August 2017, the 9th Circuit in California reviewed the case of Luis Enrique Sanchez, a 45-year-old undocumented immigrant who had lived for almost three decades in California. A small boat owner, he took his friends out for a ride off Channel Islands Harbor, within territorial waters. When his boat’s engine lost power, he called the Coast Guard for help. The Coast Guard rescued the group — then immediately detained and frisked Sanchez and his friends and reported them to ICE.
When Sanchez filed a motion to suppress, ICE also found him in a database that showed his legal status had lapsed.
Unlike Judge Carle, the 9th Circuit ruled that his deportation case should be dropped. Doing otherwise “allows immigration and other law enforcement agencies to prey on migrant and working-class communities. Law enforcement officers can unconstitutionally round up migrant-looking individuals, elicit their names, and then search through government databases to discover incriminating information in preexisting immigration records,” one judge wrote.
While lower courts have issued conflicting rulings, the Supreme Court hasn’t weighed in to clarify since the 1980s, leaving the issue unsettled until the court decides to intervene again.It’s Impossible to Tell When or if Officers Get Disciplined
ICE and Border Patrol say they investigate complaints of rights violations, including profiling, but it’s unclear what this amounts to.
Both agencies declined to release numbers on how many officers, if any, had been disciplined for racial profiling in recent years.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, which looks into complaints about immigration agencies, has never issued a report on racial profiling. Complaints and internal investigations are never aired in public.
Arnold said ICE officers are deterred from making illegal searches by the threat of lawsuits. But advocates say the system is set up to make officers feel as if they won’t face consequences for inappropriate behavior.
The lawyer for the poultry workers said he has not filed a complaint about the officers’ behavior. Like many immigration lawyers, his priority is to keep the workers in the country. He doesn’t see any benefit for his clients in complaining to the department.
“There’s next to no accountability, “ said Sandoval-Moshenberg, who has made the same decision in similar cases. “Our perception of their internal complaint mechanism is that it’s totally broken and ineffective.”
Do you have information about law enforcement officials engaging in racial profiling and unconstitutional immigration stops? Contact Kavitha.email@example.com.
The post How Racial Profiling Goes Unchecked in Immigration Enforcement appeared first on Truthout.
By Martin Bush. Reposted with permission from ClimateZone.org.
Several major economies, including the U.S. and Canada, rely heavily on fossil fuel production and exports. But the surging market penetration of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency improvements, and climate emission policies are certain to substantially reduce the global demand for fossil fuels.
In a seminal paper published a week ago in Nature Climate Change, researchers present the results of sophisticated multi-dimensional modeling of the macro-economic impacts of future technology transformations and climate change policy, as the demand for fossil fuels declines and the price of oil falls.Tags: Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipelineTrans Mountain Expansionstranded assetsoil and gas pipelines
On May 24, Mayor Miro Weinberger of Burlington, Vermont, released a letter he received from US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. In the letter, Secretary Wilson expressly acknowledges that the 2013 decision to base F-35 bombers at the city-owned airport could still “be reversed” though she makes no firm commitment either way.
Burlington’s voters had stunned the mayor and the entire Vermont political and commercial establishment by adopting a resolution on March 6 requesting “cancellation of the planned basing of the F-35” and replacement with “low-noise-level equipment with a proven high safety record appropriate for a densely populated area.”
The Air Force secretary’s letter was in response to an April 9 letter from Weinberger in which the mayor shared his view of F-35 basing, which was directly contrary to the will of the voters. The mayor identified himself as “the only official elected by all City voters, and … the elected official most directly responsible for the management of the Burlington International Airport.” In bold type he then further wrote, “After carefully reviewing and considering the Council’s action, the advisory public vote, and current public concerns, I remain a strong supporter of basing F-35s at Burlington International Airport.”
Wilson’s letter is the most recent turn in the ongoing, citizen-led battle against the basing of 18 F-35 fighter-bombers in Vermont, whose ear-shattering takeoffs would impair area children’s learning and cognitive development, as the Air Force itself described in the 2013 US Air Force Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The secretary’s letter focuses entirely on the likely consequences of reversal of the F-35 basing decision for the Vermont Air National Guard. Glaringly omitted is any mention of health consequences for the nearly 3,000 area families in the most densely populated part of Vermont — where the airport is located — that the EIS says would be harmed by the F-35.
The secretary’s letter does not provide what the mayor wanted: a blanket rejection of the request by Burlington’s voters for cancellation of the F-35 and replacement with low-noise-level equipment with a proven high safety record. The secretary’s letter, instead, expressly mentions reversal of the decision and leaves open the possibilities of a different flying mission and of a non-flying mission for the Vermont Air Guard if the decision to base the F-35 in Burlington is reversed. Wilson’s letter states that “if the [F-35 basing] decision were to be reversed, the Vermont Air Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s.” The letter then recognizes the fact that Air Guard units continue to exist in “some states [that] no longer have flying missions for their National Guard.”
However, Mayor Weinberger issued a statement on May 24 in which he interprets the secretary’s letter somewhat differently:
I welcome Secretary Wilson’s response to Burlington, which provides clarity in two important respects. First, it signals the United States Air Force’s continued commitment to its 2013 decision to base F-35s at the Burlington International Airport. Second, it provides a strong confirmation of what many of us have long thought: reversing the F-35 basing decision at this late date would likely lead to the end of the VTANG flying mission, jeopardizing hundreds of jobs and threatening the strength of our region’s economy. This clear, decisive communication should bring some measure of resolution of this issue to the community.
Nevertheless, the acknowledgment by the Air Force secretary that F-35 basing can “be reversed” marks a critical juncture in the ongoing struggle against the fighter jets’ basing. This part of her statement appears to recognize the power of citizens who voted to reverse the 2013 Air Force decision.
However, although the letter details Secretary Wilson’s recent meetings with Vermont “Governor Scott and members of the Vermont’s Congressional delegation,” it fails to mention whether she met with any of the families the US Air Force EIS says would be harmed by F-35 basing.
The EIS described the severe harm children in the noise danger zone in Winooski, South Burlington and Burlington will face from chronic exposure to F-35 noise: “tasks involving central processing and language comprehension (such as reading, attention, problem solving, and memory) appear to be the most affected by noise.” Furthermore, chronic exposure of first- and second-grade children to aircraft noise can result in reading deficits and impaired speech perception.
The Air Force EIS also notes that a person standing on the ground below the fighter-jet would be hit with 115 decibels when the F-35 is at 1,000 feet elevation with its afterburner off. This decibel level is above the threshold of pain. The EIS further indicates that residents of neighboring Winooski and Williston would be hit by a sound level four times louder than the extreme noise they experience from the currently based F-16.
Maps in the Air Force EIS show that the F-35, with its afterburner off, is slightly quieter in the Chamberlin School neighborhood of South Burlington than the F-16 taking off with its afterburner blasting. But the EIS says the F-35 will itself be taking off with its own afterburner blasting 5 percent of the time, brutally hammering children among the 961 families in the immediate airport neighborhood.
Moreover, the EIS acknowledges a “disproportionate impact” of F-35 noise on low-income and minority populations.
While the EIS omits mention of the flammable military carbon composite body of the F-35, this information is provided in a Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division report [PDF download] that describes the toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals, particulates and fibers emitted when the 12,000 pounds of military carbon composites in the body of the F-35 burn in the fuel fire after a crash. Toxins emitted by combustion of the stealth coating add to the public health danger.
The EIS also details a much higher expected crash rate for the F-35 than for the F-16, and notes that the Air Force version of the jet planned for Burlington, the F-35A, has fewer than 5 percent of the fleet flight hours that the F-16 had when it arrived in Burlington in 1986. Charts the Air Force provided in the EIS show that fighter jets, including the F-15, the F-16 and the F-22, had very high crash rates when first introduced. (They gradually declined as fleet flight hours and learning accumulated.) The F-35A is currently at that early stage and has so few flight hours that its crash rate cannot be reliably determined.
In light of the dangers posed by basing F-35s in the densely populated area around Burlington International Airport, Vermont Guard commanders, politicians and real estate developers who continue to pressure the Air Force to overrule the voters and force F-35 blasting noise on three unwilling cities must be held accountable.
Activists in a local group who petitioned to get the item on the ballot for a vote say they will continue to fight F-35 basing to protect the citizens of Vermont, regardless of what the Air Force Secretary ultimately decides.
The post Burlington Mayor Continues to Pressure Air Force to Ignore Voters’ Will Over F-35 Basing appeared first on Truthout.
Steve Bannon, currently exiled from the White House, may not be a Donald Trump favorite these days, but he is nonetheless doing his best to ingratiate himself with the president. Far from exiled when it comes to the mainstream press, Bannon told the BBC’s “Newsnight” that Martin Luther King Jr. “would be proud of” Trump for creating jobs for Black and Latino people.
“If you look at the policies of Donald Trump, anybody — Martin Luther King — would be proud of him, what he’s done for the Black and Hispanic community for jobs,” he said. Don’t be surprised if, after an extended apology tour, Bannon is welcomed back into the fold.
Further still, if anyone is going to help bring a version of Benito Mussolini’s fascism back to Italy, it may very well be Bannon. The disheveled-looking butt of late-night jokes who was forced out of the White House, unceremoniously dropped by his biggest financial backers and dumped by Breitbart News, has taken on a new role: pied piper for international white nationalism. He’s here, he’s there; on any given day, he might be anywhere.
According to Vanity Fair’s Isobel Thompson, Bannon has recently been hanging around the disaster that is the Italian government, propping up its newfound right-wing nationalism. With its government in disarray and talk about pulling out of the European Union on some political leader’s agendas, “Bannon’s valedictory yawp is reverberating across Europe.” Further, Bannon told The Daily Beast that if his brand of white nationalism works in Italy, “it is going to work everywhere,” and “is going to break the backs of the globalists.”
Thompson reported that, a few months back, Bannon “met with [far-right] League leader Matteo Salvini, whose rise to power has been motored by racism, and urged him to partner with [Italy’s Five Star Movement far-right populist political party], whose catchphrase ‘vaffanculo’ means ‘fuck off’.” Bannon told Salvini, “You are the first guys who can really break the left and right paradigm. You can show that populism is the new organizing principle.”
Italy’s March election “failed to deliver a governing majority to a single party or a coalition, but voters awarded the largest amount of seats to the Five Star Movement (M5S), rejecting traditional centrist parties,” Newsweek’s Sofia Lotto Persio recently reported. “The M5S was created by the comedian Beppe Grillo in 2009 as an anti-establishment platform promoting direct democracy and transparency, but it eventually encompassed conspiracy theories about vaccines, euroskepticism and anti-immigration sentiments.”
In a March interview with Jason Horowitz of The New York Times, Bannon laid out his humble goals: “All I’m trying to be,” he said, “is the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement.”
In March, Bannon also met up with France’s far-right National Front in the northern city of Lille, where its leader Marine Le Pen introduced him at the party’s annual conference. During that visit to Europe, Bannon also met with leaders of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany party.
“But it is Italy,” Horowitz reported, that Bannon “has turned into his de facto headquarters” after “populist forces smashed the country’s establishment by combining to win more than half the vote,” earlier this year.
Meanwhile, back in the US, Bannon is once again flacking for President Trump, insisting that “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be ordered to turn over all documents associated with a controversial FBI source who [the president] has accused of spying on his campaign,” CNN’s Sophie Tatum recently reported.
Keeping it real, Bannon “acknowledged that his renegade campaign to replace the Republican establishment with fresh faces committed to his brand of outsider populism failed,” according to the National Review’s Jack Crowe. Six months after threatening to destroy Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s grip on the GOP, Bannon told The New York Times that, “People are starting to realize that the anti-establishment thing is kind of a luxury we can’t afford right now.”
But if there is anything that defines Bannon’s homeland failures, it was his backing of the Alabama senatorial campaign of the scandal-plagued Judge Roy Moore. Bannon’s candidates, including Moore and West Virginia’s Don Blankenship, a coal company executive recently released from prison, are notable for the scandals that dogged them, as well as for running feeble and failed campaigns.
Of all the challengers to the GOP establishment backed by Bannon, only two — Chris McDaniel, running for Senate in Mississippi, and Kelli Ward in Arizona, who is competing in a three-way primary — are still in the running, The New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters reported.
And, lest we forget, Bannon was instrumental in helping suppress the Black vote in certain swing states in 2016. Whistleblower Christopher Wylie — a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, which Bannon cofounded in 2013 in an effort to push the US electorate to the right through data-driven messaging tactics — told a Senate panel that “voter disengagement tactics” targeting Black voters were employed by the firm.
CNN reported that when Wylie was “asked by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, if one of Bannon’s ‘goals was to suppress voting or discourage certain individuals in the US from voting,’ Wylie replied, ‘That was my understanding, yes.'”
Bannon realized that while most Black voters might be unwilling to cast a ballot for Trump, convincing them to stay home could be just as effective. And that’s where using Bruce Carter came into play.
According to Bloomberg, Bannon helped connect Carter (the former Black Men for Bernie founder and activist who launched the Trump for Urban Communities nonprofit in the summer of 2016) with Dallas financier Darren Blanton. Together, Blanton and Carter worked to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Trump nonprofit — money that was funneled to the voter suppression campaign. Among other efforts, Carter launched a “Don’t Vote Early” campaign designed to keep Black voters from taking advantage of early voting, which often piles up votes for Democrats.
Lastly, in response to Bannon’s comments that Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of Trump, Rev. Bernice King, an activist and the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., claimed on Twitter that Bannon was co-opting her father’s legacy: “#SteveBannon has dangerously and erroneously co-opted my father’s name, work and words,” she tweeted. “Bannon’s assertion that my father, #MLK, would be proud of Donald Trump wholly ignores Daddy’s commitment to people of all races, nationalities, etc. being treated with dignity and respect.”
Late night television hosts and GOP dirty tricksters may continue to make fun of Bannon’s sartorial choices, and while he’s not likely to appear on the cover of GQ anytime soon, his critics shouldn’t underestimate the role that Bannon is playing in drawing connections between racist right-wing movements internationally.
One thing Donald Trump appears to care about more than just about anything else is the obeisance of his staff. With more well-placed compliments about the job Trump is doing, Bannon just might re-emerge as a key Trump adviser in time for the 2020 presidential campaign.
The post Exiled From DC, Steve Bannon Is Stoking the Racist Right in Europe appeared first on Truthout.
We continue to spread the epidemic of anarchist and insurrectionist rage:
Public response to a misdiagnosis that circulates on the internet.
To the anarchists of Mexico and the world, to all the witches fighting in the universe.
«My Mother, go to your room and take care of your work, the loom and the spinning wheel (…) The word must be a thing of men, of all, and above all of me, of whom is the power of this palace». – Telemachus, The Odyssey
«If I can’t dance, your revolution does not interest me». – Emma Goldman
Those of us who been joing the insurrectional informalism from an anarchist-feminist perspective, and are part of our affinity collectives, have suffered the contempt and persistent attacks of those claiming to be ‘accomplices of Anarchy’, they slander us for accepting a theory and a praxis different from their ‘handbook of the (good) anarchist’. Some in the insurrectionist scene have even accused us of being ‘witches’, ‘whores’, ‘feminazis’, ‘traileras’, ‘buchonas’ and ‘flip flops’. There are also those who call themselves ‘anarcha-feminists’ (operating within extremely sexist ‘federations’ and ‘collectives’) who censure our insurrectionary actions for departing from ‘nonviolence’, for not following a program or the so-called libertarian evolutionism.
However the most recent attacks are those from the libertarian Bolsheviks, who are surprised that «there are also compañeras who have allowed themselves to be infected with rage and led astray by Rodriguista violence who have formed their ‘affinity groups’ from anarcho-feminism and implement terrorism as their praxis». And they worry about us being «part of that group of naive young people around the world who fall into the trap, obstructing the daily growth of the anarchist movement, the popular struggle against the State and Capital for the realization of libertarian communism».
Thus, the Bolshevik libertarians try and prevent our participation in the anarchic war and ask us to return to the school, to the metate, to the molcajete, to caring for our daughters and darning socks. Like Telemachus to Penelopes, they send us to the knitting room. Once again, the cry of patriarchal power disguises itself as ‘libertarian’ and condemns us to shut us up and keep us from ‘the things of men’.
Before continuing we want to clarify that we are not Rodriguistas, and not because we don’t share the theory of compañero Rodriguez but because we are not Bakunistas, nor are we Malatestas, we are not Magonistas, nor are we Goldmanistas. We follow ideas not people.
We are anarchists and we believe that there is only one way to confront power and authority, and that is the anarchic insurrection, that is why we conceive anarchic organization in an informal way through collective affinities and permanent conflict against the patriarchal civilization as a whole. That is why we reject the misogynist authoritarianism of the these Bolshevik libertarians, and why we do it publicly. To fight against sexism and misogyny is to fight against gender, and to fight to destroy gender is to also fight to destroy the whole patriarchal civilization.
We do not represent all the insurrectionist anarchist comrades, we only represent a collective of affinity based in the central region of Mexico. We recognize the struggle of all the other anarcha-feminist insurrectionist compañeras, from those who individually confront the patriarchal civilization, to the compañeras who do it in anonymous collectives and those who have decided to group themselves under new acronyms and claim their actions.
Our fight is the same.
Neither God, nor State, nor Master!
Against the patriarchal civilization!
For the control of our bodies and our lives!
For the destruction of gender!
For the anarchic insurrectional tension!
Informal Insurrectionist Anarcha-Feminist Coven
(via Contra Info, translated into English by Nae Clone for Mpalothia)Tags: Mexicoinformalinsurrectionaryanarcha-feministcategory: International
From June 11th
We are one week away from the June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Marius Mason & All Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners!
Events are coming in fast & there’s still time for organize events and actions in your town. Everything from writing a letter to an imprisoned anarchist to attacking the dreadful normalcy of everyday life contributes to the sort of living and active solidarity that can aid our comrades behind bars and stoke fires which may someday burn down the prisons.
If you’re not sure what to do, check out this list of possibilities drawn from previous years, and our page full of posters, handbills, audio interviews, and more.
And if you’re looking for inspiration, a number of imprisoned anarchists have written powerful statements for this year’s June 11th.JUNE 11th EVENTS
Please email information on additional events to june11th [at] riseup [dot] net
Asheville, NC (USA)
June 11 // 6pm
Potluck BBQ in honor of imprisoned comrades
@ Asheville Park
More info here
Austin, TX (USA)
June 11 // 7:30-9:30
The Gentleman Bank Robber movie screening + letter writing
@ Monkeywrench Books (110 E North Loop Blvd)
a benefit for Austin ABC & former-prisoner & anti-authoritarian urban guerrilla bo brown
Bloomington, IN (USA)
June 7 // 10pm-3am
Rock Against Racism dance party
@ The Back Door (207 S College Ave)
a benefit for June 11th organizing
June 12 // 7-9pm
Letter writing for imprisoned anarchists
@ Monroe County Public Library
Contact: realicide [at] gmail [dot] com
Denver, CO (USA)
June 11 // 5:30 – 8:45 pm
Prison Abolition Potluck
Prison abolitionists will come together to break bread, learn from one
another, and network. Screening of Trouble – No Justice… Just Us, updates, prison abolition discussion and socializing.
For more info, contact denver iwoc at denver [at] incarceratedworkers.org
Durham, NC (USA)
June 17 // 6pm
@ The Pinhook
Grand Rapids, MI (USA)
June 11 // 7pm (tentatively)
Movies, Games, Food, and Letter Writing
@ MLK Park
Minneapolis, MN (USA)
June 10 // 6pm
Vegan potluck, letter writing, board games
Potluck & letters at 6, games at 7:30
@ 2301 Portland Ave S
Montreal, QC (Canada)
June 11 // 22h
Tabling & letter writing + show
with Gazm & Cell, Wax
@Bistro de Paris
Olympia, WA (USA)
June 11 // 8pm
Benefit Show & Letter writing
with Aro, Lomes, Pines
@ 115 Legion Way SW
Olympic Peninsula (USA)
June 11 // 6-8pm
Prisoner Letter Writing & Film Screening
Letter writing & snacks at 6pm, screening of “The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown” at 7. Donations welcome and encouraged, but no one turned away! Snacks and letter writing materials/info provided.
@ Jefferson County Library (in the big meeting room) / traditional Klallam territory / Port Hadlock, WA / Olympic Peninsula
Pittsburgh, PA (USA)
Fight Toxic Prisons Conference
Portland, OR (USA)
June 11 // 4pm
Letters to Prisoners
@ Social Justice Action Center (400 SE 12th Ave)
Followed by a noise demo @ 7PM
June 14 // 6-9pm
Prisoner letter writing night
@ Social Justice Action Center (400 SE 12th Ave)
16 de Junio
Disidencia, accion directa y liberacion total
Conversatorios, proyecciones, musica en vivo, comida vegana, rifa a beneficio, venta de almuerzo
@ Centro Cultural Pedro Mariqueo (Pob. La Victoria)
Seattle, WA (USA)
June 10 // 6pm
Potluck, art show, benefit
173 16th ave and Spruce
Tags: june 11thjune 11long term prisoner supportanarchists in troubleeventscategory: Projects
From CrimethInc.And a Look Inside an Occupied University in Managua
As even the Russian state news service admits, the ongoing revolt in Nicaragua against Daniel Ortega’s government is coming largely from the left side of the political spectrum. While supporters of the authoritarian left exhort people to support “left” governments no matter what neoliberal policies they implement or how many people they slaughter, we believe that the declining fortunes of left governments throughout Latin America are not just the consequences of CIA conspiracies but also the consequence of real shortcomings of the institutional left and of government itself. Doubtless, various capitalists and state actors have their own agendas for Nicaragua and they hope to take advantage of the uprising to implement them. But ordinary people have legitimate reasons to rise up. We should identify the participants in the uprising who are pursuing goals complementary to our vision of a world without capitalism and the state, in order to direct our solidarity towards them. Otherwise, as the Ortega government attempts to retain power by brute force, the revolt will likely be hijacked by right-wing and colonial interests.
While students were discussing what demands to make in the negotiations with Ortega, Dissensus Nicaragua published a translation of the CrimethInc. text “Why We Don’t Make Demands” in Spanish. The negotiations have broken down. Now the crisis is intensifying, with students continuing to occupy universities while the police continue killing people and Ortega refuses to back down. In the following report, our Nicaraguan correspondent outlines some of the tensions within the uprising and presents an eyewitness report from inside one of these occupied universities.
Rebel students in Nicaragua.
I am part of the affinity group that created sosnicaraguareporte.com, in Spanish. It includes a timelime and all sorts of information. It’s a good place for news. There is even a meme section!
As of this writing, over 100 people have been murdered by the state and the police in the uprising in Nicaragua. The majority have been students. On Mother’s Day in Nicaragua, May 30, there was a Mother’s Day march. This march broke all records for participation. The state police and Sandinista Youth attacked the march, killing 11 and injuring 79 all over Nicaragua.
We have not been able to discuss all the questions we would like to. Things are messy and changing constantly, and we are not the majority. Nevertheless, I will try to describe the situation.
We can see some tensions inside the movement. The most noticeable are the following:The Private Sector vs. the Autovoncado Movements
The Autoconvocado movement (the coalition of student organizers and community organizers, independent from the Coalition of Students and Representatives in the dialogue) has been supporting a general strike as a way to escalate the situation and put more pressure on the government to negotiate and stop the killings. The private sector (which employs dozens of thousands of people and holds a lot of wealth and political power) has not advocated for a general strike, supposedly to avoid economic losses. As a consequence, for example, the city of Masaya organized autonomously and declared, independent of the private sector, that they would conduct a citywide general strike. That strike occurred and was violently repressed. Up to now, Masaya is the most dangerous and most affected city in Nicaragua, with over 10 people murdered by the police over last weekend.Student Movements and the Student Coalition
There is very strong communication between the student movement and the Student Coalition that is representing the movement at the level of dialogue with the state. But many participants in the student movement feel that the Student Coalition is being very soft and diplomatic. The Coalition is a group of student organizers from multiple universities all over Nicaragua; they are the ones representing the movement in the negotiations with the state. The student organizers that form the coalition emerged from affinity groups that were created at the beginning of the student protests. I don’t know exactly how they got so much power—it was a combination of being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. These students were the first ones to present themselves as leaders.
So the power distribution is very vague and there are instances when they have been accused of selling out. The Student Coalition representatives are the ones who release the communiqués and plans of action, and the ones who talk to the press the most. Nevertheless, it is possible for student dissidents to claim that the Coalition does not represent them and to provide a different set of demands and methods.
There are also complaints that the Student Coalition does not offer space for anyone’s voices besides those of men when it comes to delegating the responsibilities.
The participant in the Student Coalition that comes closest to our perspective is probably Enrieth Martínez.
The gates of UNAN, the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, in Managua. The sign reads “UNEN [the official student union] doesn’t represent me.”
A lot of the power and decision-making process has been focused on students in Managua, since the capital has been the site of the major manifestations and occupied universities. But the cities that have been affected the most have been outside of Managua—cities that don’t have a university campus, where the residents are defending themselves through citywide barricades and something like a general strike. There is no effective communication among people in the different cities, since the strategy has been to block all major roads and transportation. At the table of the dialogue with the state, there are no representatives from the cities that are affected the most. Here is where several groups have advocated for self-governance and self-administration as a way to take the decision-making power out of Managua.Feminism
The first and most prominent critiques of the government and the state arose from feminists. Since the 1980s, feminists have critiqued the hierarchical and patriarchal aspects of the Sandinista Movement. In a famous speech by Daniel Ortega on International Women’s day at the peak of the Sandinista Revolution, Ortega said that the revolutionary duty of women was to give birth to the next generation of revolutionaries. This showed how the revolution viewed women and women’s participation in everything. It has been feminists who have critiqued the state as connected to machista and religious culture in Nicaragua and Latin America. It has been feminists who have denounced hierarchies in the family, in politics, in culture, and in the state. It has also been women who have constantly said that the war against the people did not start on April 19, it started way before, but it was carried out against rural women and indigenous people in Nicaragua.On the Question of Capitalism
People need to understand that the Nicaraguan people are sacrificing economic stability for social justice. Nicaragua was perceived as safe, an economic paradise for investment, but this only came about through the centralization of political power. Like Vietnam and China, a single-party centralized government has been an incentive to draw private investors.
Nicaragua’s economic stability, which took 10 years to build, only benefitted the upper middle class and the upper class. This created a false sense of “progress,” “development,” and “stability,” all of which the government celebrated. In reality, most of the people worked in informal sectors and did not have access to jobs. In this sense, participants in the student movement are forced to start asking questions: “OK, now I have graduated from an Autonomous University, now what? Where am I going to work? And at what price?” The vast majority of college majors and programs were “pro-market majors” focusing on business administration, engineering, computer science, marketing, tourism, and the like.
The student movements will need to address capitalism and neoliberalism and start to see how their struggle intersects with the anti-capitalist movement outside of authoritarian governments. These conversations have not started yet.
I think a lot of people are disappointed in the lack of international support towards people in Nicaragua. Americans only cared about us as long as they could come to Nicaragua to vacation and enjoy cheap things. On an international level, many of those who support the Nicaraguan insurrection are not asking hard questions about their own governments and structures. Hopefully, we can find a way to make would-be allies start addressing these questions themselves. It’s true, we are seen as a “legitimate” movement that wants “democracy” (whatever that means). If we succeed, we will see how many countries will support our efforts to collectivize, autonomize, and decentralize.
Will the United States still support us after they realize our intention to go ever further left? Will a centrist government create the conditions for more radical politics to emerge? This is a long-term plan; the Ortegas will do the best they can to stay in power at whatever cost. They would prefer to stay in power in a destroyed country than give up power in a way that leaves the country stable.
I think the conversation regarding “politicians,” “elections,” “the state,” “political participation,” and “the police” are all up in the air. It’s an opportunity to create new local concepts. After everything that has been lost—entire towns burned to the ground and children executed in the street—we will not settle for less. Whatever government comes next will need to radically change what it means to do politics.
I think we are trying everything from every possible angle, and it will be the people who will decide what best fits their spiritual needs. We are attacking state power from every angle, some angles more “institutional,” “democratic,” and “legimitate” than others, but somehow these are all complementing each other.
Unfortunately, we don’t know if we are moving forwards or backwards. We just know what the government is doing everything, desperately to survive, and every single day, they lose more support. As the saying goes, El que no critica a su gobierno, no quiere a su madre! Those who don’t criticize their government don’t love their mothers.
A protest at UNAN.
After a week of communicating with my contact inside the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN), I received a message from him: “I’ll be at the main entrance in 15 minutes. I can meet you there if you want to come inside, meet everybody, and see what we’ve been up to.”
For a week, I had been participating in a support system helping the occupation at UNAN from the outside. At first, my contact, Guadalupe (a pseudonym) had advised me not come inside for fear that infiltrators might recognize me and harass me outside. But as things seemed to have settled down, I was invited in.
With about 30,000 students, UNAN is the largest public university in Nicaragua. Students have been occupying it since May 8. Every major entry is blocked by two sets of barricades, starting blocks away from the main Portones (entry gate). Each porton is guarded by at least 15 students armed with morteros (mortors).
“Dress up as a medical student and bring a med kit, just in case anybody is watching. They are less likely to be suspicious if you enter as a ‘medic,’” Guadalupe told me.
I crossed the main Porton and met Guadalupe for the first time. “Second in command” in the occupation, he is also a part of the committee representing the students in the national dialogue. He is 23 years old and a student at UNAN. Guadalupe was part of the first protest organizers inside of UNAN. Currently he divides his time between working inside and outside of UNAN, inside as a coordinator and outside as a delegate of UNAN as part of a larger student coalition.
The organization inside of UNAN involve “leaders” from different portones and sectors (Medical, Food, Supply) that meet up and negotiate responsibilities and priorities. These leaderships emerged out of the first week of occupation and were agreed upon by all. Since each porton is semi-autonomous, it can operate as a closed circuit in case of an attack, without the necessity of a top-down decision-making process that would involve the entire University. Roles were distributed by voluntary association and based around shifts so that everybody can rest. Main roles are: Guarding the barricades, sorting through donations, food, cleaning, guarding the portones, medical attention, communications and coalition participation.
Its important to note that the organization inside the occupied Universities occurred spontaneously. They did not follow a pre-established or pre-rehearsed organizational model. This model of organizing was the most efficient, participatory and democratic. Remember that young Nicaraguans did not have an “occupy movement” o something similar that could have provided the blueprint of how to organize. The only political models that were practiced were through hierarchical political parties, and ONG’s leadership training.
Here are the rules inside the gates: everybody in the University uses pseudonyms; you are not allowed to take any photos or videos of anything; if you are texting, you have to do it with your phone facing the ground. In Nicaragua, it is very common for people to use nicknames, usually derived from physical cues like La Flaca (the skinny one), El Gordo (the fat one), El Negro (the black one), La Zorra (the Fox), El Chino (the Chinese one), El Chele (the light-skinned one), El Gringo (the gringo).
Guadalupe confirmed my identity and began to show me around the university campus. Most of the muchachos (“the boys”—a word that includes girls) were busy taking over UNI, the Engineering University, so UNAN was somewhat quiet. Later that day, the police and Sandinista Youth attacked UNI, injuring 30 students and killing one of them.
We approach the geology building, which has been turned into a medical center. “This is one of the newest buildings of this University and we are protecting it, because we plan on using these facilities in the future for our education.” I see rooms full of medical supplies, and a lot of students sleeping in the hallways in sleeping bags. “Those are the muchachos from the night shift at the barricades. They sleep here during the day. Not all of them are from UNAN—some of them are neighbors that are too afraid to go back home.”
The hallways are dark and quiet, but everything is clean and organized. There are cleaning crews; students know the rules, which rooms to go into and which not to go into. “We need to protect this building. It’s the geology building. We are protecting diamonds and meteors that are worth thousands of dollars, but we want to save them for future generations to learn and study.”
The entire university is protected. You don’t see graffiti on the walls. All the classrooms are locked. The restaurants inside of the university are also protected because the occupiers don’t want the occupation to affect the small business owners who need to keep a job.
We left the building and approach one of the cooking and food collection sheds. The leader of this zone is called Aymara. She administrates the food in this section and keeps a tight record of all the food donations that come in. She distributes the food and supplies wherever they are needed the most.
A map showing the distribution of conflict around Managua.
What do you all do for food?
“We’re living off Gallo Pinto.” (Gallo Pinto—rice and beans—is the most popular Nicaraguan dish). “We don’t have a set time for breakfast. If the muchachos are hungry but don’t want to leave their post, we’ll send food their way. Every day, we must cook three meals for about 400 people.” The joke in Nicaragua is that we eat rice and beans for breakfast, beans with rice for lunch and Gallo Pinto for dinner.
Aymara also showed me a shed full of food, enough food for months, all of which has been donated by people all over Nicaragua. It is rationed out daily. Pointing to an immense pile of spoiled food, Aymara said “You see all that food? That’s all poisoned food. Sometimes people send us bananas with needles inside, or bread injected with rat poison. We need to double-check everything that we receive. That’s why we prioritize canned goods.”
“We also managed to jumpstart five university trucks and one tractor, which we use inside and outside of the university.”
This article does a good job describing the leadership of women inside and outside of the student movement. I studied with the author, Madeleine Caracas, and we both started out in the same organizing committee in early April.
Each porton operates semi-autonomously. Each zone has its own medical center, food center, and bomb-making center, each with a delegate in every porton. Every porton is always ready to defend itself. Two nights before my visit, an armed man on a motorcycle rapidly approached a barricade, shooting at the students. The students defended themselves with mortars and injured the motorcyclist, who destroyed his phone before the students moved him to a local hospital. He died on the way there.
This was a very confusing scenario. The man on the motorcycle underestimated the abilities of the students to defend themselves. Why would he attack the barricades by himself? Did he plan on shooting, perhaps killing, some students and then retreating? We don’t know.
Such attacks usually happen at night. Keep in mind that this university is the size of an entire neighborhood, with hundreds of buildings, classrooms, departments and soccer and basketball courts, with six different entryways. In order to add more protection at night, the barricades are moved further out of the university perimeter to create more of buffer zone.
Unlike UPOLI, UNAN does not have the support of the local community to protect them. In this sense, the students are more exposed. UNAN is neighbored by La Colonia Miguel Bonilla, which is an Orteguista neighborhood. This community was created in the 1980s during the Sandinista Revolution, and most of the houses are owned by the police, the military, and high-ranking military officials. This neighborhood was one of the military headquarters during the Somoza dictatorship, but was confiscated during the revolution and given to UNAN students for housing and to military, police, and civilians to live in. Therefore, most of the families that live inside of La Miguel Bonilla strongly support the Orteguista government as a “revolutionary government.” If you are political dissident in La Miguel Bonilla, you must keep a low profile; there have been many cases of harassment by the community towards anti-Ortega supporters. La Miguel Bonilla is also where a lot of UNAN administration officials live, the safe officials that perpetuate and institutionalize the Orteguista influence inside of the University.
The UNAN has a strong barricade in front of the entrance to La Miguel Bonilla, since a majority of the attacks have been organized inside of the neighborhood, which functions as a safe space for Orteguista forces.
What do you want to accomplish?
“We want to obtain university autonomy, a complete restructuring of UNEN [the chief Nicaraguan student union], and a complete restructuring of the internal administration of the University. Every day we spend in this university, we are sending a message to all of Nicaragua about how far we are willing to go to offer quality education for our generation and future generations.”
What does autonomy mean to you?
“It means professors not getting fired because they oppose decisions that the government has been making. It means giving access to scholarships to everybody, not just the Sandinista Youth. It means taking the Orteguista party out of the Universiy’s administration. It means studying things that matter. We need a student-centered education and not an Orteguista-centered education, and this is happening not just at the University level but also at the Primary and Secondary school education level.”
I noted Campus Security was still present in the University. I asked about their role in the university during the occupation. Guadalupe told me, “They work here because they are privately hired, so they don’t want to lose their jobs. They have helped us identity infiltrators and have been extra set of eyes and ears their own communities, to help the students. They’re on our side.”
For context, in Nicaragua, Campus Security is nothing like the police or “private security.” They do not carry weapons; they do not have the power to turn people in to the police. This job was created in the 1990s when so many revolutionaries were jobless. These jobs are done at a very low wage by very poor families, usually protecting empty lots.
What message do you have for students around the world?
“Hopefully we can inspire students to occupy their universities and start building the kind of university they want to study in.
“It’s also super important for Universities to have a good relationship with their neighborhood. That way you can involve the community in matters that affect the university and start building solidarity.”
The students I met and spoke with in UNAN seem to have developed an unbreakable bond based on solidarity that crosses gender and class backgrounds. They appear willing to die for each other and to protect the future they believe in. They have spent over three weeks building barricades, conspiring, living together, and protecting each other, forever changing what it means to be a student in Nicaragua.
A protest at UNAN
What comes next? Will other forces intervene in Nicaragua to maintain and intensify neoliberalism? Or will the rebellion expand its scope and analysis to take on the forces beyond the Ortega regime?Tags: NicaraguaCrimethinc.Occupystudentscategory: Essays
From CrimethInc.Hacking as Direct Action against the Surveillance State
We spoke with the world-famous hacker persona and self-proclaimed anarchist revolutionary Phineas Fisher about the politics behind their attacks on the surveillance industry, the ruling party in Turkey, and the Catalan police. Here follows a retrospective on the exploits of Phineas Fisher, followed by their remarks to us.
Text and interview by BlackBird.
Hacking is often depicted as something technical, a simple matter of attack and defense. Yet motivations are everything. The same technique that builds oppressive tools can be used as a weapon for emancipation. Hacking, in its purest form, is not about engineering: it is about leveraging power dynamics by short-circuiting technology. It is direct action for the new digital world we all live in.
In the shadows of the techno-empire, the hacking scene became a target for cooptation and infiltration. But the underground cannot be eradicated: from time to time, a new action breaks through the surface. Some of the hackers we admire are coders who produce tools for online privacy and anonymity. Other crews create and distribute alternative media. And then there are those who hack back.
The Lost Hacker Circles
It is no secret, for anyone paying attention, that for a long time the hacker underground was also taking sides in the ongoing war. Yet the effervescence that characterized the underground DIY scene of the past few decades has died down, or at least receded to less visible places.
Pessimists mourned the death of hacker communities in a proliferation of individual desertions. It is true that the techno-military complex succeeded in swelling the ranks of the mercenaries: there is a price at which a particular mindset can be bought, whether with money, success, the feeling of power, or the excitement of playing with fancy toys while chasing what state propaganda labels “the enemy.”
The underground sought to multiply zones of opacity and resistance, while public perception shifted towards normalizing the relationship between the hacker attitude and technology. Hackers were no longer seen as rebel teenagers producing chaos in a casual game (as depicted by movies from the eighties or nineties like War Games or Hackers), but as a highly specialized unit of the military occupation forces—or else as their comic-book-level villain counterparts. In the most depoliticized version, the term “hacker” is understood as just another name for the capitalist entrepreneur, a myth you can find in the “hackerspaces” of any gentrified city.
The surveillance industry was so proud of its business that it did not bother concealing it. Representatives of the armed forces and vendors of spy programs showed up regularly at hacker community events, openly recruiting talent. Commercial videos pitching “offensive security” tactics circulated openly, selling products to intelligence agencies, corporations, and governments.
It’s an old story: states buy legitimacy in the eyes of the public by portraying themselves as fighting the kinds of crime very few dare to discuss—child pornography, human trafficking, international terrorism. But as soon as they have the surveillance weapons in their arsenals, they direct these weapons against the entire population.
In the middle of this ongoing cooptation of the hacker world, the surveillance complex experienced an important yet invisible blow. An individual—or perhaps a group—fought back by hacking spyware companies and publishing the contents of their secret vaults. When you’re fighting an industry that depends on secrecy, publicly disclosing their internal communications and tools can be a very effective strategy.
The GammaGroup Hack
In August 2014, a hack took place against “GammaGroup,” an Anglo-German vendor of spy programs. A dump of 40Gb of information followed. After this hack, there were no more secrets about GammaGroup: everything was made public, including their clients, product catalog, price lists, and the programs themselves, along with their training manuals.
The star product of the company, a program named “FinFisher,” had been sold to more than 30 government agencies and police forces to spy on journalists, activists, and dissidents. The company had been infecting dissidents in Bahrain and Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring. They usually used social engineering to trick their targets into installing the software.
A targeted dissident would click on a document attached to an email, or open a link that would install the spyware. From there on, the clients who bought the spyware from the company would have control over the infected computer or cellphone, monitoring microphones, voice and Skype calls, messages, and emails, not to mention continuous location tracking.
Immediately after the hack, someone began tweeting from an account posing as the Gamma PR. The info dump was not enough: a hacker going by PhineasFisher released an old-school text file containing a tutorial with the details of the attack on Gamma:
“I’m not writing this to brag about what an 31337 h4x0r I am and what m4d sk1llz it took to 0wn Gamma. I’m writing this to demystify hacking, to show how simple it is, and to hopefully inform and inspire you to go out and hack shit… I wanted to show that the Gamma Group hack really was nothing fancy, and that you do have the ability to go out and take similar action.”
The name of that phile was “HackBack—A DIY Guide for those without the patience to wait for whistleblowers.” For a gravely wounded hacker community, in which the original solidarity, freedom, and open exchange of information was losing ground against the commodification of knowledge by the market and the empire, this action was a breath of fresh air. And—perhaps—the beginning of a movement.
You are the target.
“You want more. You have to hack your target. You have to overcome encryption and capture relevant data, being stealth [sic] and untraceable. Exactly what we do.”
You can hear these words in the commercial for a product called “Da Vinci,” a “remote control system” that was sold worldwide by an Italian company named “Hacking Team.”
A company so shamelessly called “Hacking Team” is what results when a local police department approaches two hackers of a mercenary mindset with a request for collaboration. The cybercrime unit of Milan’s police force decided that passive monitoring was not enough for their purposes; to fulfill their offensive needs, they asked Alor and Naga, two famous Italian hackers, for help modifying a well-known hacking tool that they had originally authored.
Who their clients were and how they managed to infect and spy on their victims remained a secret until July 5, 2015. That day, the twitter account for the company announced: “As we have nothing to hide, we are publishing all our e-mails, files, and source code,” providing links to more than 400 Gigabytes of data. As usual, the company initially claimed that the leak was comprised of false information, but forging such a tremendous amount of data would be an almost impossible feat.
The ones who suspected that the attack had a familiar signature were not wrong: the sarcastic nickname of Phineas Fisher was once again behind the disclosure.
By publishing all the internal information—and, later, another tutorial exploring technical details and political motivations—Phineas Fisher offered the world undeniable evidence about the operations of the 70 customers of Hacking Team. Most of these customers were military, police forces, and federal and provincial governments; the total revenue added up to over 40 million Euros. You can read the full list of customers here.
This info dump confirmed that there were very good reasons for the global demand for privacy and anonymity. Alongside the Snowden revelations, the ability to peek into HackingTeam’s dirty secrets gave us an idea of the magnitude of the campaign of targeted surveillance being carried out by governments and corporations. We know today that there are many other unscrupulous firms profiting from illegal spy operations—such as the Israel-based NSO Group, recently involved in targeted infection of the devices of journalists investigating the Iguala massacre in Mexico, which used base tricks to lure their victims into compromising their own devices.
This anonymous unmasking of HackingTeam was a brilliant operation with global repercussions.
A Market for Secrets
A business like Hacking Team depends on secrecy. To infect their targets, in many of the cases something called a “zero day”1 is used. A zero day is a vulnerability in a computer program that has not been publicly disclosed yet, which can be exploited by anyone who knows about it to attack computer programs, data, or networks, in many cases offering complete remote control over them. Recently, surveillance capitalism has created a net of companies that act as brokers, buying these vulnerabilities in black and gray markets. The price for a single zero day can range from $10k to $300k or even $1 million.
Spyware companies like Hacking Team “weaponize” these vulnerabilities, gluing several of them together and selling licenses to the forces of repression so they can simply “click and spy,” with the added possibility of custom developments for penetrating the systems that belong to chosen victims.
The window of opportunity to take advantage of these “zero days” gets shorter over time. The more you use the knowledge of an unknown vulnerability, the higher the chances that someone will notice the attack and start investigating the holes that allowed it, and the higher the likelihood that other groups will find the same holes. The opportunity to use the vulnerabilities ends when the software in the user’s device is patched to fix the errors: this is why it is so important to keep our devices up to date. However, there are cases in which the manufacturers of our devices make the update procedure difficult or even impossible.
Vulnerability brokers and spyware vendors make it possible for technically incompetent people to infect, spy, and exfiltrate data from their targets just by filling forms and clicking around a web application. We saw this when we were able to dissect software like XKeyscore or Hacking Team’s Galileo suite.
The irony is that selling dumb-proof spy tools to the cops can give you a false sense of security. Phineas found that the compromised systems were using absolutely lame passwords such as “P4ssword,” “wolverine,” or “universo.” No one is free from the basic rules of operational security!Hack the Planet! Erdogan and Rojava
Another advantage of cyberspace is that you do not have to travel to attack a target on the other side of the world. You do not even have to get out of bed, although often that is a good idea in order to keep a balanced mind.
“I hacked AKP,” Phineas announced in 2016 after having breached the servers of the ruling Turkish party. A dump of more than 100GB of AKP files and emails was passed on to the revolutionary forces in Kurdistan. Phineas had to hurry because Wikileaks published the information before he even finished downloading all the data.
Information is not the only thing that arrived in Kurdistan thanks to hacking actions: Phineas also exploited a vulnerability in the security systems of an undisclosed bank and sent 10,000 euros in bitcoin to Rojava Plan, a group coordinating international solidarity with the autonomous region of Rojava.Mossos and Scapegoats
In May 2016, after watching the documentary “Ciutat Morta,” Phineas thought about trying a simple attack on the Catalan Police Forces. Ciutat Morta is a film about the 4F case, a famous case in the history of the Spanish state in which repressive forces tortured and imprisoned several young people from South America as an act of revenge after a policeman was put into a coma by the impact of a stone following a police charge in downtown Barcelona.
As a result of this new hacking action, using a well-known vulnerability, Phineas defaced the website of the union of the Catalan police with an ironic manifesto declaring that the organization “was refounded as a union in favor of human rights.” A data dump with personal details of some 5000 police accounts appeared, along with a 40-minute video tutorial on the techniques used in the hack.
Shortly afterwards, the police carried out several raids on social centers and hacklabs in Barcelona, then claimed to have caught the famous hacker. Only hours later, journalists reported that the same person had contacted them to say that “he was alive and well” and that the police forces had only imprisoned a scapegoat who happened to have retweeted the info in the dumps.
After the Catalan police carried out a series of unsuccessful raids in pursuit of the hacker, Phineas Fisher agreed to do an interview with Vice Magazine on the condition that his answers be presented by a puppet.
One of the most interesting consequences of the Phineas Fisher actions is the look you see in the eyes of your fellow hackers when you discuss the topic with them. Chileans will tell you that Phineas is obviously a Latino. Squatters in Barcelona swear that the tone is familiar. Italians will do the same. US-Americans think she or he speaks like one of them. And then there is the commonsense assumption that, like any good hacker, Phineas must be Russian—one of those Russians who speaks surprisingly good Spanish.
There is indeed something familiar in the actions of this ghost: a deep sense of justice and internationalism, and the feeling that his actions will continue to remain under the radar, because—just as in the past—nobody could believe that a person living an otherwise ordinary life could be the mind behind such deeds.
The truth is, no one cares—except for the cops, who are having a hard time identifying this persona despite all their adversarial modeling paraphernalia and stylistic analysis tools. We don’t care about the identity of the person who does these things. It doesn’t matter, in the end: when that identity is burned, a new one will appear. Once you ditch the cult of personality, you suddenly gain a lot of freedom.
What we do care about is that, whoever it is, it is one of us, and his actions help us to realize our power.
These direct actions show that, while a lot of effort and dedication might sometimes be needed to cultivate a concrete skillset, most of the time nothing extraordinary is strictly needed. Perhaps you are not particularly technically inclined, but you might be good with people: often, that is the only thing that is needed to pull off an awesome hack. Or you might not come from a technical background, but a determined and playful perseverance can achieve more than any formal training when it comes to making a breach in the realm of cubicle bureaucrats that only care about enforcing policy.
Security is not an absolute quality; there will never be an absolute power in cyberspace. Quoting Phineas: “That’s the beauty and asymmetry of hacking: with 100 hours of work, one person can undo years of work by a multi-million dollar company. Hacking gives the underdog a chance to fight and win.”
The actions of a humble but motivated hacker can go further than the big, inflated egos of the cyber-security industry, or the academics who do not dare to act outside of the box. It’s not always the big hacks that change reality: someone who learns how to stay anonymous, someone who is not afraid and keeps the discipline needed not to leak personal details already has a huge advantage. Not having an ego to feed is also crucial in the business of keeping one’s personal freedom.
Eventually, Phineas Fisher went silent. “I killed the accounts because I had nothing else to say.” And probably it was enough. Sometimes a little action is all that is needed to shift the collective mood, to render us aware of our own power.Epilogue: Silent Years of Expropriation to Come
Phineas Fisher is dead. It was more than a name: the tip of an underground network of practices and desires. It was not one, but several actions. Cybernetic guerrilla: hit and hide.
However, as anyone who wrote to the hackback email can report, Phineas is still enjoying freedom these days. Engaging in charming conversation, he or she will demonstrate that state does not have absolute control. As he likes to repeat: it is still possible to attack the system and get away with it.
Phineas has kept himself busy. He enjoys talking from the shadows about his new occupation. As he told us:
“Expropriation has some material effects, but it really is an ideological weapon. The rules of this system are not immutable facts, but rules imposed by a minority, and rules that we can question, change, and even break. When someone robs a bank, the State spends huge resources investigating it, not because it makes any economical sense to spend 100k while investigating a 3k robbery, but they spend it because it protects the shared illusion of private property. They try to wipe out that rebel spirit that plays outside of their rules.”
“You don’t need computer science studies to be able to participate in what the former NSA chief Keith Alexander refers to as responsible for the greatest transfer of wealth in the world’s history. In this big project, most of the work is not done by hackers, but by lay people, those who know how to find addresses where to receive post and parcels, how to use a fake ID in a convincing way, and how to use a burner phone. Those are all the skills you need to open a cellphone contract, open bank accounts and ask for loans, make online purchases and receive them. Everyone can learn how to use the Tor Browser and bitcoin, and participate in the darknet markets. Mafia and organized crime acknowledged this change, but anarchists open to illegalism and expropiation did not yet realize that we are not in the pre-internet world anymore, and that there are better tactics than robbing a bank with a gun. We are living an unique moment in history, and we have a great opportunity.”
Indeed we do. Long life to hacking, and to all silent expropriations to come.
From Ruputura Colectiva by Paulo Ilich BaccaA conversation with anarchist sociologist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui
Ritualizing the Memory
It is a lively Tuesday in the second week of August 2016 in the city of La Paz, Bolivia, as I listen to the song Aylluman Kutiripuna (Let us return to the community) by Luzmila Carpio, a Quechua singer who upon facing the double bind of singing in Quechua, her mother tongue, or in Spanish, the ‘prevalent’ language under the trend of Bolivia’s modernization, decided to use the language of her ancestors. In such a tension, the prioritization of the indigenous side of this double bind is not unidirectional. Indeed, the indigenization turn that I am attempting to remark also results in the need to colour the Western tradition with the indigenous syntax, which is precisely what Carpio’s artistic trajectory embodies. By strengthening the melodic ways of the Andes, she has projected her music as a political expression of rebellion against the overuniform model of cultural progress over first nations’ own thinking in two complementary ways. Initially, Carpio composed children’s music in Quechua as a way to keep alive the ancient Andean world training the mind of new generations for the future. Subsequently, she started to croon bilingual songs in order to remark on the potentialities of a heterogeneous society in which the indigenous legacy can bring about a ‘creative adjustment’ to the world inherited from colonialism.
While listening to music, I make the final preparations to interview Aymara sociologist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui. After spending one month and a half in La Paz interacting with Rivera and El Colectivo, a self-organized group of cultural action and critique, she has agreed to converse with me about her work, intellectual trajectory, and political activism during the last four decades. As a prelude, the interview uses Rivera’s course on sociology of the image, an epistemological proposal based on double-bound readings of Andean history. In this appraisal, the double bind between the memory of indigenous peoples and the records of official history is resolved in favour of what Rivera calls indigenous visualization. The ‘heuristic tool’ of visualization is a sort of memory able to condense other senses beyond sight. Thus, while official history has been over determined by the visual, being anchored in both language mediation and data interpretation, visualization, by recovering senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing and movement, is able to decolonize memory, allowing not only for the expression of indigenous sources of knowledge themselves, but also the expansion of mainstream narratives. According to Rivera, it is an
attempt to project her own Aymara mode of thinking, termed ch’ixi epistemology, understood as an articulating agency of contradictions in which those histories that have been hidden, diminished, or forgotten come to the surface as a way to potentiate a dynamic dialogue between the contradictory forces.
Recalling Rivera’s teachings, I had decided to ritualize our conversation with the help of Argentinian photographer Sandra Nicosia, who has kindly accepted to share her photographic memories for this interaction. Rivera usually performs a ritual before starting a new project—to ascertain her social and political responsibility with what will emerge from her writings or artistic interventions. I choose Luzmila Carpio’s melodies to create a previous harmonizing effect because her work, as well as Rivera’s, has been inspired by the inherent contradictions of the double bind between colonial impositions and indigenous resistance. In fact, as Spivak has sustained, Western tradition has prescribed the ‘proper terms’ for conducting social interventions: ‘[i]t seemed that there was always an issue of controlling the other through knowledge production on our own terms, and ignoring, therefore, of the double bind between Europe as objective and subjective ground, judge and
defendant.’ However, as Rivera and Carpio have shown in their work, the appropriations and reappropriations of the indigenous world to turn such impositions into something else are also unquestionable. Or, as Spivak has said, all philosophical traditions should resonate with each other as equals, just as all languages are equally able to prepare a child for life.
This harmonizing effect is accompanied by the reading of the poem ‘Tu Calavera’ (Your Skull) by renowned Bolivian experimental poet Jaime Sáenz (1921-1986), who dedicated the piece to Rivera. In this poem, Sáenz refers to an old dream in which Rivera’s skull appears. It is a reference to a pre-Inca cranium that Rivera considers her adoptive ancestor since a period of illness in which an indigenous healer (yatirí) announced an antidote to the disease: Rivera would have to return the skull to its place of origin or welcome it as a member of her family. Rivera took the second option and named it Jáquima after the finding of a set of documents of her maternal family in the United States during the seventies. Rivera managed to recover these papers from her uncle’s house, being made aware not only of her family genealogy but also the traces of a deep colonial history. Indeed, those documents tell the story of the Indian who first declared that he witnessed the arrival of the Spaniards to Cuzco, the Inca capital. He returned to Pacajes, a province in the central Bolivian highlands, and was executed by his indigenous fellows, who considered him a traitor. The descendant of this legendary character, genealogically related to the
Cusicanqui family, was an indigenous woman named Jáquima and that is why Rivera baptized her skull with this name. Finally, leaving my hotel in downtown La Paz, I decide to take a walk echoing one of the main sources of indigenous knowledge, which is intertwined with ancestral territories as a way of remembering indigenous cosmologies and laws: I go to the Basilica of San Francisco set in the historic heart of La Paz and built over an ancient sacred place where indigenous peoples render cult to their divinities (wak’a), and where, even now, indigenous social movements routinely meet after their mobilizations (see Figure 1.1). Then, I walk through the Mariscal Santa Cruz Avenue, a central street that leads to a corner from which
it is possible to see the Illimani, the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real and one of the main geographical and cosmological referents of the Aymaras—the people to which Rivera belongs (see Figure 1.2). Thus, I feel that I can be closer to Rivera’s work, always enriched by the double bind between her own indigenous sources and Western epistemological frameworks.
Figure 1.1 Basilica of San Francisco, La Paz, Bolivia.
Courtesy of Sandra Nicosia (P.Bacca)
Figure 1.2 Illimani, seen from La Paz, Bolivia.
Courtesy of Sandra Nicosia (P.Bacca)
A Double-Bound Indigeneity
Evoking the life and work of Gamaliel Churata (1897-1969), a Peruvian novelist and philosopher who skilfully mastered the double bind between European avant-garde (taking the foundations of critical Western philosophy seriously) and Latin American indigenism (assessing the contribution of Andean cosmologies with particular emphasis in the conceptual richness of the Quechua and Aymara languages), my conversation with Rivera began by exploring the double bind between indigenous and non-indigenous identity. Talking about indigeneity with Rivera is to speak of the impossibility of resolving the paradox of being simultaneously indigenous and non-indigenous. Rivera recounted growing up in an environment where the understanding of Aymara language is a spontaneous experience: ‘I grew up in La Paz and there were two women who took care of the home. They spoke Aymara all the time and one of them took care of me and while holding me in her aguayo (multicoloured woollen cloth) would tell me stories. Somehow, I was bilingual by means of my sense of hearing – I could not speak but I was very familiar with the sounds of Aymara (there was a lot of onomatopoeia). I was eight-years-old when
she passed away and I felt an orphan since then; indeed, my mother was never able to “replace” this woman.’
According to Rivera, her instinctive appreciation of the Aymara world was the legacy she received during that moment of her childhood. She related that period with a lot of affection since it shaped her temperament and determined her vocation for Andean cosmologies as well as her spiritual connection with Aymara mythical beings such as the fox and the condor. However, Rivera noted that this ‘learning curve’ has always been an unfinished process, indeed, a practice of life that is always to come: she was around sixteen when she began taking Aymara lessons, but feels that she does not speak the language well and is in an unending process of learning. Interestingly, Rivera’s conclusions regarding this route are inextricably connected with the possibility of developing the social sciences using a double bind logic.
In Rivera’s view, behind the physical elimination of Aymara amawt’as (philosophers) and yatiris (healers) during the fifteenth century Spanish conquest of the Americas, lies the ‘spiritual’ annihilation of the philosophical uses of the Aymara language. The amawt’as were murdered, while the yatiris hid their knowledge cryptically and syncretized it with Catholic religious elements in order to survive. Thus she considers it necessary almost to reinvent the words’ philosophical meaning by taking into consideration their metaphorical senses in daily life. And this is precisely what Rivera has done in her unparalleled work: departing from the pragmatic use of Aymara words, she has been ‘scratching’ their allegorical connotation in order to project a philosophical reflection based on indigenous sources of knowledge. In so doing, Rivera is working with an Aymara idiosyncratic translation of what Spivak has termed concept-metaphors, that is to say, the possibility of unveiling the deep philosophical roots of expressions that tend to remain unnoticed for most anthropologists and ethnographers although they are fundamental in day-to-day indigenous activities.
The metaphorization of daily-life concepts is inherent to the polysemous character of Aymara language and, it is by using this polyphony that Rivera has been working with the contradiction (located at the very heart of double bind logics) as an epistemological tool to explain indigenous social realities. One of Rivera’s key concept-metaphors is encapsulated in the Aymara concept of the ch’ixi. Rivera told me: I have reinvented the practicality of this concept by exploring its allegorical and epistemological power. ‘Pragmatically, ch’ixi is the stained sheep, the spotted toad, the smudged snake. It is a descriptor, a keyword; however, its most abstract and philosophical dimension has not been developed and this is because after the assassination of the amawt’as and yatiris in colonial times, the language has been impoverished by the translations conducted by priests such as Ludovico Bertonio (1557-1625) and Domingo de Santo Tomás (1499-1570), who have expurgated Aymara concepts and ideas that were incomprehensible to them, subsequently removing the philosophical potential of indigenous languages’. In an interview given to Francisco Pazzareli, Rivera explained that the ch’ixi as a concept-metaphor, embodies the quintessence of an Aymara double bind, namely, a decolonial gesture to work with the contradiction as a way of moving between opposite worlds. Thus, for instance, the snake is not only ch’ixi for being spotted but also for being an Aymara mythical animal who is undetermined in cosmological terms: it belongs to both the world above and the world below, it is both masculine and feminine, it is both rain and a vein of metal, it is symbolized both as lightning striking from a great height and as a subterranean force. And this is precisely the way in which Rivera traces the epistemological signs of Aymara cosmologies within the contemporaneity of a modern Bolivia that is indigenous and non-indigenous at the same time.
By challenging the official discourse, according to which the colonization of the Americas supposed the harmonious mestizo fusion of European and indigenous cultures (in which Western imaginaries overlay indigenous cosmologies), Rivera projects a reverse process of analysis in which indigenous cosmologies are capable of indigenizing Western imaginaries. In so doing, Aymara cosmologies endow Western narratives with a new throbbing immediacy by taking the threads of indigenous laws and weaving them in their own modern way. This does not occur following the mestizo logic of fusion but by making reference to paradoxical structures as the inspiration of a double-bound reasoning. When I asked Rivera if she is indigenous and non-indigenous at the same time, her response was categorical: ‘of course, being indigenous is a becoming. It is not an identity, it is a search’. Rivera’s reflections range from the personal to the methodological and from the epistemological to the collective. She once described herself, during our interactions, as an ‘abajista’—a Spanish term that she uses in opposition to the ‘arriviste spirit’ that characterizes the Bolivian upper middle class. Indeed, belonging to an upper middle-class family, Rivera never expected to join the ‘elite’ but rather to become an urban Aymara woman.
According to the Argentinian intellectual Verónica Gago, Rivera refers to herself as a ‘non-identified ethnic object’, and has also reclaimed the labelsochologist (fusing the word sociologist with chola, Bolivian term for an urbanized Aymara woman), a term once used to discredit her. She similarly plays with the termbirchola (combining chola withbirlocha, a name for women whose dress indicates upper class aspirations, and were among the social categories that Rivera investigated in El Alto, the indigenous-dominated city above La Paz. Gago sees these amusing word plays as simultaneously a merciless critique against the essentialization of the indigenous. She quotes from a conference address by Rivera: ‘We are all Indians as colonized peoples. Decolonizing one’s self is to stop being Indian and to become people. People is an interesting word because it is said in very different ways in different languages.’
The idiosyncratic way of displaying an indigenous becoming is not only an asset for Rivera but also an indigenous performative act that can be seen in different practices of the Aymara mind-set. A central Aymara principle that passed from Rivera’s personal experiences to her methodological endeavours is captured in the possibility of reading Western sources using Aymara rationalities. Thus, for instance, Rivera’s work clearly demonstrates the principle of selectivity with which Andean communities transform Western properties such as Spanish grammar/syntax and classical European ways of dressing, as well as the epistemological parity demanded in indigenous social struggles (see Figure 1.3). She told me, ‘I read in a fragmentary and selective way, from my point of view, you have to put what is lacking in an author […] and furthermore the different philosophical traditions should be placed on an equal footing […] that is to say that the words of an indigenous sage are connected with an inherited collective knowledge—they have an intellectual genealogy and you do not have to put them as ethnographical data separated from theory. Rather, I believe we have to engage in a dialogue between philosophical and theoretical conceptions of the world’.
In this way, not only are indigenous epistemological tools capable of nurturing collective experiences, as is indeed the case with Aymara cosmologies, but also Western systems of knowledge can resonate in a comparable way with indigenous cosmological frameworks. This synergy vividly appeared in the course of a face-to-face interaction between Rivera and Spivak, in the context of Rivera’s simultaneous translation of a conference presented by her Indian comrade in La Paz. Gago recounts that in so doing Rivera showcased the undiscipline of the text and of linear translation. Finding no Spanish translation for Spivak’s term double bind, Rivera instead came up with an exact equivalent in Aymara: pächuyma, which means having the soul divided by two mandates that are impossible to fulfil.’ Rivera says that these translation exercises reveal that all words are being questioned today: ‘This is a sign of Pachakutik, of a time of change.’ Talking with Rivera spontaneously about this event, she told me that most people in the audience were Aymara speakers, which alerted her to the convenience of translating the idea of the double bind to Aymara rather than Spanish. On the spur of the moment and without any kind of previous preparation, Rivera began to talk about the pä chuyma in Aymara, explaining to the public what Spivak had said. Spivak, double-bind-thinker par excellence, immediately incorporated the Aymara double-bind-pä chuyma in her own English speech, which according to Rivera was a very sympathetic gesture: ‘Spivak once told me that she makes theory with the guts, so she fully understood’ (we laugh). Rivera continued explaining to me that the Aymara have a three-way logic: something can be and not be at the same time, which is tantamount to the possibility of having an included third—completely at odds with Aristotelian logic. ‘I think that is what makes possible such a compatibility with Gayatri. She also thinks that one needs to live with the pä chuyma, that it is necessary to coexist with the contradiction, and that the contradiction must be converted into a purposeful referent rather than an obstacle to the subject’s integrity. For Bateson, the contradictory subject is schizophrenic, and it is a collective schizophrenia that produces a sort of paralysis. Instead, for Spivak, the contradictory subject embodies an incomparable creative power’, Rivera added.Tags: BoliviaInterviewsociologyIndigenouscategory: Other
In this week’s sedition of TFN, a look at the repression being faced by comrades in Klanada and the United Snakes. First an update on the J20 trials, where prosecutors have been repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, and then an udpate on the state’s crack-down on anarchists in so-called Ontario and Quebec in the lead-up to this weekend’s G7 Summit.
For more info on how to help peeps in Hamilton:
For more updates on the J20 defendants, follow Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) and Defend J20 (@Defendj20) on Twitter!submediavideothe fucking newscategory: Projects
DNC panel adopts rule requiring candidates to run, serve as a Democrat | 08 June 2018 | The Democratic National Committee (DNC) adopted a new rule on Friday aimed at keeping outsider candidates like Bernie Sanders from trying to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 [which he would have done, had the Deep State/DNC not stole it]. The new rule, adopted by the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, requires all Democratic presidential candidates to be a member of the Democratic Party, Yahoo News reported. A presidential candidate running for the Democratic nomination must be a member of the party, accept the Democratic nomination and “run and serve” as a member.
Memes 'will be banned' under new EU copyright law, warn campaigners | 08 June 2018 | A new copyright law from the European Union would lead to the banning of memes on the internet, campaigners are warning. The EU Copyright Directive intends to protect the intellectual property rights of people who upload their material to the internet. However, campaigners are warning the law will require "all content uploaded to the internet to be monitored and potentially deleted if a likeness to existing copyright is protected". The law would "destroy the internet as we know it" warn the campaigners, who add it would "allow big companies to control what we see and do online".
'Russia should be in G7, whether you like it or not' - Trump says on way to summit | 08 June 2018 | Donald Trump says Russia should be at the negotiating table in the G7 meeting whether the world powers "like it or not." The US president made the statement as he was preparing to fly to Canada for the summit. "It used to be [the] G8 because Russia was in it, now Russia isn't in it… But Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting while Russia isn't at the meeting," the US leader told reporters, adding that he will recommend Russia's inclusion in the summit. "Whether you like it or not, it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And it’s the G7, which used to be the G8, threw Russia out, they should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table," he stated. [*Exactly.*]
The post San Francisco, CA: Alt-Right Signs Re-purposed in Solidarity with Immigrants and Celeste Guap appeared first on It's Going Down.The following report and photos were anonymously sent to It’s Going Down.
Over the last several days, we have seen wheatpastes and signs put up around San Francisco by supporters of Tommy Robinson after his arrest in the UK.
On Monday we found several wheatpastes around the city, mostly in the Financial District and Chinatown. Images posted by local fascist shithead Based Stickman appear to be ones we took down.
After this, we discovered plywood boards labeled #FreeTommy on Highway 1 entering San Francisco out of Daly City, where Based Stickman resides. These signs were quickly destroyed or re-purposed, much to our delight. Other images found online showed boards in the Outer Sunset area near Great Highway, but we have not found these in person.
We would like to extend our solidarity to Celeste Guap, who was arrested by Richmond police the day after speaking in a rally against SESTA/FOSTA last weekend. The same Richmond police department sexually abused Celeste in the past. Fortunately, she has been released since.
With love, from mfin anarchists in the Bay
In this week’s sedition of TFN, a look at the repression being faced by comrades in Klanada and the United Snakes. First an update on the J20 trials, where prosecutors have been repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, and then an update on the state’s crack-down on anarchists in so-called Ontario and Quebec in the lead-up to this weekend’s G7 Summit.
For more info on how to help peeps in Hamilton:
For more updates on the J20 defendants, follow Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) and Defend J20 (@Defendj20) on Twitter!
Minneapolis is an antifa zone. Antifascists have a organized and militant presence and will kick Nazis off the block.
RIP Toor! – MSP161
President Donald Trump headed for the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Canada on Friday but will be leaving before Saturday's meeting on climate change, clean energy and oceans. The White House said an aide will take Trump's place, CNN reported.Tags: Donald TrumpG7Scott Pruittclimate politics