News

Bankruptcy Won't Keep Remington From Producing Guns

Truth Out - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 04:00
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Two-hundred-year-old gun manufacturer Remington has recently declared bankruptcy, which has some gun violence advocates thrilled -- but they should put away the party hats.

The venerable arms manufacturer is not going out of business, and the company will continue to produce guns after it's gone through the bankruptcy process. The confusion over what Remington's bankruptcy actually means highlights just how tangled the laws surrounding insolvency can be, as well as the importance of accuracy in conversations about business practices.

In February, Remington started making moves to file for bankruptcy protection, citing what some are calling the "Trump slump" in gun sales; numbers are dropping under the Trump Administration, reflecting larger gun buying trends. Progressive, liberal administrations tend to be good for gun sales, but under conservatives, people are less worried about the possibility of losing access to weapons via tighter gun control.

When many of us hear "bankruptcy," we think of liquidating assets and closing up shop. But in Remington's case, the filing is actually a chapter eleven, also known as "reorganization."

If this sounds pedantic and boring to you, you're not alone -- but it's an important distinction. This move allows the company to restructure itself and get rid of some distressed assets to stay viable in the long term -- possibly by making itself appealing to a potential buyer.

Remington is also seeking to secure funding to keep itself afloat. Some of the banks financing the company will sound familiar: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Deutsch Bank and Chase are all willing to take a chance on investing in the arms trade. Without this financial support, the company would have been forced to close. Those funds also facilitate a swift emergence from chapter eleven, helping Remington keep on making guns while it restructures itself.

But Remington faces another problem: a prolonged class action lawsuit surrounding the Sandy Hook killings in 2012, with parents attempting to sue the manufacturer in federal court. By declaring bankruptcy, the company may be able to neatly exclude itself from liability in this case, starting with a clean slate. In a separate legal case, Remington would also be able to dodge responsibility for a settlement regarding a manufacturing defect on one of its rifles.

You may have heard that gun manufacturers enjoy "absolute immunity" from legal consequences for their products. That's not quite accurate, but it is true that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act extends special treatment that makes it more challenging to bring suit against gunmakers. Sandy Hook parents have already been rebuffed in courts because of this in the past. Some critics wonder if this bankruptcy filing is actually just a way to avoid liability in court.

When you hear that a company -- especially one in a notorious industry -- is filing for bankruptcy, take notice of the kind of filing involved and how the company intends to reorganize itself. A company may plan on starting up again, selling itself to another company or liquidating.

If you're troubled by the gun industry's unique legal protections and by the larger trade in arms, you may wish to consider hitting gun manufacturers where it hurts: In addition to not buying guns, you can put pressure on banks to stop investing in the industry, cutting off the supply of money these companies need to thrive.

Categories: News

New York State's Big Middle Finger to the Republican Tax Plan

Truth Out - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 04:00

 Spencer Platt / Getty Images)Tax-cut protesters watch as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joins other Democratic officials, labor members and activists in front of Trump Tower to protest against the proposed Republican tax overhauls on November 21, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

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Last month New York State gave a big middle finger to Donald Trump and the Republican Congress. It included measures in its budget bill that will allow people in the state to get around the new tax law's limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes. This could save the state's ability to maintain and extend its level of public services.

A provision in the Republican tax overhaul bill limits the amount of state and local taxes (SALT) that could be deducted from federal income tax to $10,000. In a relatively high-tax state like New York, many families have state and local taxes that far exceed this amount. The capping of the SALT deduction is a Republican effort at the federal level to deny states the revenue they would need to maintain and extend current levels of public services. This is why the workarounds designed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration are a big deal.

While the people who will be affected by this cap are mostly higher-income families, its impact would be felt statewide. New York has a relatively progressive income tax, with the highest income families facing an 8.2 percent income tax rate.

While it is a safe bet that people never like to pay taxes, the deduction against federal taxes made the state income tax less costly, especially for high-income people. With a top federal income tax rate of 39.6 percent, the SALT deduction effectively meant that the federal government was reimbursing 40 cents of every dollar that high-income people paid in state and local taxes. This meant that the top New York tax rate of 8.2 percent, was really a tax rate of 5 percent (60.4 percent of 8.2 percent), after factoring in the deduction on federal taxes.    

By limiting the SALT deduction, the Republican tax bill changes this arithmetic. Higher income families will now pay 100 cents on the dollar of any additional taxes imposed by state and local governments. This restriction was explicitly included in the bill to make it more difficult for states like New York to maintain a high level of social services.

Republican congressional lawmakers assumed that limiting the deduction would make high-income people more resistant to any future tax increases and may even cause them to push for tax rollbacks. In a context where progressive change is unlikely to come out of Washington in the foreseeable future, measures like extending health care coverage, affordable child care and free college are most likely to advance at the state level. New York's work around is leading the way for other states that will be penalized by the tax law.

While there are two distinct measures in the state's budget for getting around the SALT limit, the more important measure replaces a portion of the state income tax with an employer-side payroll tax. Under this plan, an employer would pay a 5 percent payroll tax to the government, similar to the employer-side payroll tax they pay now at the state level for workers' compensation and unemployment insurance and at the federal level for Social Security and Medicare.

Economists typically expect that an employer-side payroll tax will come out of wages. They don't care whether they pay wages to the worker or taxes to the government. This means that if an employer paid a 5 percent payroll tax on a worker's $200,000 salary, this amount ($10,000) would come out of the workers' paycheck. Instead of $200,000 a year, this worker would get $190,000 a year.

If you're wondering why a worker would ever want to see their pay cut by $10,000, you have to look more closely. When the worker was being paid $200,000, she had to pay $10,000 in taxes to New York State. Now she is only earning $190,000, but doesn't owe any money in taxes to New York State. This means that her pay, net of state taxes, is exactly the same.

What's more, she is better off now when it comes to federal taxes. Instead of being taxed on $200,000, she will only pay federal taxes on $190,000. Since this person would likely be in the 32 percent bracket, this tax shift would save her $3,200 on her federal taxes. And, as a neat twist, she will get these tax savings even if she doesn't itemize on her federal returns.

While it might have been desirable to make this tax switch mandatory, New York's law is voluntary for employers for political reasons. Several commentators have claimed that few employers are likely to take advantage of this switch because it is too complicated.

A factor suggesting that the switch will be widely adopted is the popularity of Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA). These accounts allow workers to put aside pre-tax dollars to cover medical bills, effectively saving the income and payroll taxes they would otherwise pay on this money.

There is a considerable amount of paperwork involved in documenting expenses for FSAs. Also, money that is not spent at the end of the year is lost. Furthermore, relatively low caps mean the potential savings are limited, typically to a few hundred dollars a year.

Nonetheless, FSAs are very popular. By comparison, the payroll tax shift requires just a one-time adjustment by the employer (like the one they just did for the new tax law). The potential gains are far larger with the employer-side payroll tax; as noted in the example here, the worker could save $3,200 a year on her federal taxes.

For this reason, it is likely that the employer-side payroll tax device will catch on quickly, even though it is not mandatory. It would be great if other liberal states adopted similar workarounds to preserve most of the SALT deduction for their residents.

If that were to be the case, we would get a situation where the only people who lose the benefit of the SALT deduction would be higher-income people living in Republican states. Now that would be a great product of the Republican tax bill.

Categories: News

TigerSwan Employee Applied for Security License in Louisiana Without Disclosing Ties -- After Firm's Attempt Was Denied

Truth Out - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 04:00

The private security firm TigerSwan, known for its controversial military-style tactics against Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, is appealing the decision to deny its application for a license to operate in the state of Louisiana, where Energy Transfer Partners is building the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

 Julie Dermansky)On February 26, 2018, Anne White Hat, Rosebud Lakota Nation, was among those arrested after protesting at a Bayou Bridge Pipeline construction site. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

The private security firm TigerSwan, known for its controversial military-style tactics against Dakota Access pipeline protesters, is appealing the decision to deny its application for a license to operate in the state of Louisiana, where Energy Transfer Partners is building the Bayou Bridge pipeline. In November, several environmental groups opposed to the Bayou Bridge pipeline attempted to intervene in this case, saying their members were particularly vulnerable to TigerSwan's security and surveillance practices should it be allowed to operate in support of that oil pipeline, but today the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners denied this request.

However, during this process, it came to light that the state board denied another security license application from a TigerSwan employee who failed to disclose her employment with the firm after TigerSwan's application was rejected.

The board's deposition of this employee, obtained via a public records request, was included in the request to intervene in TigerSwan's case by 350 New Orleans, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Gulf Restoration Network, L'eau Est la Vie ("Water Is Life") Camp, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West.

"Given its track record, TigerSwan should not be allowed to come into Louisiana and use their military-style tactics to hinder the right of ordinary Louisianans to exercise their First Amendment rights," Pamela Spees, attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is representing the groups, said in a statement. "The board did the right thing in denying them a license."

TigerSwan Employee Tries to Set Up New Security Firm in Louisiana

 Aman Dhaliwal / Oceti Sakowin Camp)TigerSwan ran Energy Transfer Partners' security and intelligence efforts during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota. (Photo: Aman Dhaliwal / Oceti Sakowin Camp)

Part of the reason the board cited for rejecting TigerSwan's case on July 17, 2017 was "they were denied licensure twice in [North] Dakota and are pending litigation," according to the board's executive director Fabian Blache III.

TigerSwan is being sued by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board for allegedly performing security work in the state without a license during and after the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.

On September 19, 2017, the Louisiana board deposed TigerSwan employee Lisa Smith, who had applied for a license to operate her brand-new private security firm, LTSA, LLC, in Lafayette, Louisiana. While she originally said she opened the company office in August, later in the deposition Smith corrected this to say it was actually July -- the same month that TigerSwan's application was rejected. Louisiana state records indicate that LTSA, LLC was registered on August 3, 2017.

In her license application, filed August 4, Smith, a resident of North Carolina, where TigerSwan is also based, submitted a resume which did not disclose her contemporaneous employment with TigerSwan.

Instead, she listed her employer as "Metlife MSOC," which is the security operations center where the firm had contracted her to work. In the September deposition, she confirmed that TigerSwan paid her salary but that she reported for work at Metlife.

In Lisa Smith's deposition she denies her company was set up in any relation to TigerSwan's denied license to operate in LouisianaIn Lisa Smith's deposition on September 19, 2017, she denies her company LTSA was set up in relation to TigerSwan's denied license to operate in Louisiana.

During the deposition, the board asked Smith whether or not she had ever listed TigerSwan as her employer on her LinkedIn profile. She answered that she did not remember.

However, the board supplied an email with a screenshot of a Google search result showing a cache of her LinkedIn profile, which listed her as a "Watch Officer at TigerSwan/Metlife SOC." Her current LinkedIn profile does not list her employment with TigerSwan, and while during the deposition Smith said her Metlife contract was already expired in September, her profile continues to list "Metlife-MSOC" as her present employer.

When asked by the board about why she decided to open a security firm in Louisiana, Smith replied: "The opportunities were good." However, she denied LTSA had any connection with TigerSwan and its failure to secure a license in the state, and further said that while she had heard of "Bayou Bridge," she said she did not know what it was or whether she would consider applying for work related to it in the future.

Smith also denied knowing someone named Brandon Nix. According to Blache, the state board's executive director, Nix was the agent who originally applied for TigerSwan's license in Louisiana.

"We later learned that he was the person liaising with Lisa Smith's registers office site to secure the keys to the property leased by her company LTSA," Blache told DeSmog via email.

Lisa Smith's deposition in which she denies her company LTSA has any relationship with TigerSwanIn Lisa Smith's deposition, she denied her new security company, LTSA, had any connection to her employer TigerSwan.

The board turned down Smith's request for a license on October 4, 2017. "Denial was based on material misrepresentations in the application and during the State Board deposition," said Blache.

TigerSwan had two lawyers representing the firm present during Smith's deposition. It is not currently employed by Energy Transfer Partners to do security work related to the Bayou Bridge pipeline, a 162-mile-long project which will carry to Gulf Coast refineries oil originally drilled in North Dakota. So far, that security work has been performed by the firm Hub Enterprises.

Neither Lisa Smith not TigerSwan responded to multiple requests for comment.

TigerSwan Connections in Louisiana

Even before the Louisiana board rejected TigerSwan's application, the private security firm already appeared to be working its connections to the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

In February 2017, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks testified in support of this pipeline at a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources permit hearing and published an op-ed endorsing it in a local newspaper. In neither of these instances, however, did Marks disclose that he was chair of TigerSwan's advisory board, not unlike the way Smith also failed to share her ties to the firm. (Marks is no longer listed on TigerSwan's website.)

This seems to be a trend for Marks, who has a history of appearing on TV as a military pundit without disclosing his ties to military weapons companies.

TigerSwan appears determined to succeed in gaining access to perform security work in Louisiana.

As Julie Dermansky has previously reported for DeSmog: "A few days after TigerSwan's permit was denied in Louisiana, the company filed an appeal and hired five lobbyists who work for the lobbying firm Southern Strategy Group."

The firm is currently awaiting a hearing with the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners appealing its denied application.

Louisiana Proposes Harsher Punishments for Pipeline Offenses

 Julie Dermansky)In February, 2018, around two dozen protesters shut down for two hours a Bayou Bridge Pipeline construction site in Belle Rose, Louisiana. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

With implications for future protests against the Bayou Bridge pipeline, this week the Louisiana State Legislature introduced House Bill 727, which proposes as a criminal offense the "unauthorized entry of and criminal damage to a critical infrastructure."

The bill seeks to include oil and gas pipelines and their construction sites among the definition of "critical infrastructure." For those convicted of damaging this infrastructure when a threat to human life is "foreseeable" or the action "disrupts" the infrastructure's operations, the bill stipulates a sentence of imprisonment and hard labor for between six and 20 years, up to $25,000 in fines, or both.

It also includes separate "conspiracy" charges, with similar criminal penalties, except that the maximum possible fine is $250,000. The bill both amends the Louisiana criminal code, which currently deals only with "unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure" and creates the new crimes for damaging those facilities and conspiring to either illegally enter or damage them.

Several other states, including Wyoming, Iowa, and Ohio, have introduced similar laws in recent months which would criminalize the type of activities of past oil and gas pipeline protesters. Oklahoma already passed into law parallel legislation which has served as a template for other state proposals.

Some state lawmakers have specifically cited the Dakota Access pipeline protests as inspiration for these "critical infrastructure" bills and likened actions by pipeline protesters to "terrorist activities."

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Categories: News

Another Day, Another Broken Door: The Tower's Statement on Recent Events

Anarchist News - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 00:01

Early Friday morning, Hamilton police raided a home associated with some of those involved with organizing The Hamilton Anarchist Bookfair. The door was kicked in, a flash grenade was thrown into the house, and a full swat team entered. With their assault rifles drawn, the swat team proceeded to pull everyone out of bed some of whom were naked, and with one exception, put everyone in handcuffs. Three people were detained and one person arrested. Cedar, a member of The Tower Collective and our cherished friend, was arrested, taken away, and currently remains in custody.

Those who weren’t arrested were forced to wait outside for close to five hours, while cops “searched” the home. Similar to the fascists who attacked The Tower last month, the police thoroughly trashed the space and even messed with the bookshelves. All three floors of the house were ripped apart and many things were damaged, including a collection of framed feminist postcards that were broken into several pieces and thrown into the bathroom toilet. Police are misogynist pigs, plain and simple, without exception. A long list of items were seized, including all electronics (phones, computers, cameras, external hard-drives etc.), books, posters, zines, and a pretty random assortment of documents (academic journal articles, translated texts from a book project, hand written notes, event programs, pamphlets etc.).

In terms of the arrest, Cedar is facing conspiracy charges in relation to the so-called “Locke St. Riot”. We have no desire to engage with the politics of innocence. The concept of innocence and its flipside criminality obscure more than illuminate – no one is innocent and the most “criminal” amongst us run the economy and government. Beyond that, these notions perpetuate the logic of a colonial legal system rooted in white supremacy. That said, it is worth noting that conspiracy charges are notoriously dubious and flimsy, and have a legacy of being used as a tool of political persecution. They are an act of desperation intended to cast a wide net and scare people. Such charges are *not* a matter of engaging in a particular activity, but rather a matter of possibly encouraging a particular activity.

The Tower is an openly anarchist project that from its inception has promoted ideals of mutual aid and solidarity, equality, and community autonomy, as well as direct action, class war, and fighting back. Our politics have always included *both* gardens and riots. We want to see people building beautiful alternatives of liberation, just as much as we want to see people attacking structures of domination. Nothing about this is going to change, and despite recent challenges, our project will continue to push these ideas. We still have no tears for Locke St. and we remain unapologetically supportive of the activities that took place last month. It's actions like these that can impel conversations that no one wants to have (in this case, intensifying gentrification throughout the city), and we see this as positive.

As things continue to unfold, it is important for people to remember that it is never okay to cooperate with the police – do not talk to them and do not share any information (however big or small) with them. This isn't a question of agreeing or disagreeing with particular tactics, but of refusing to take actions that help facilitate state violence and repression. Aside from discussions about Locke St., local media has been dominated by stories of police corruption, misconduct, brutality, and most recently murder. Less than a week ago, the Hamilton police shot and killed Quinn MacDougall, an unarmed nineteen-year-old who had called 911 in distress looking for help. Cops are not and will never be our allies. We gain safety and strength by sticking together and staying silent.

Tags: hamiltonRepressionanarchists in troublethe statecanadaNorth Americacategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Moscow calls 'chemical attack' in Douma 'fake news,' warns against Syrian intervention

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 23:08

Moscow calls 'chemical attack' in Douma 'fake news,' warns against Syrian intervention | 08 April 2018 | Reports of an alleged gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma are 'fake news' aimed at justifying potential strikes against Syria, Moscow said. It warned of "dire consequences" in the event of any military interference. The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the latest reports about a chemical attack that allegedly affected dozens of civilians in the militant-controlled town of Douma. It said the reports were another example of a "continuous series of fake news about the use of chlorine and other chemical agents by the government forces." The ministry pointed out that the source of the reports was the notorious "civil defense" group, the White Helmets, which has been repeatedly accused of having ties to [*are* the] terrorists, as well as other groups based in the US and UK.

Categories: News

North Korea tells the U.S. it is prepared to discuss denuclearization when Trump and Kim Jong Un meet

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 22:49

North Korea tells the U.S. it is prepared to discuss denuclearization when Trump and Kim Jong Un meet | 08 April 2018 | North Korea has told the United States for the first time that it is prepared to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets President Donald Trump, a U.S. official said on Sunday. U.S. and North Korean officials have held secret contacts recently in which Pyongyang directly delivered the message of its willingness to hold the summit, the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Until now, Washington had relied on South Korea's assurance of Kim's intentions.

Categories: News

West U councilwoman accused of yelling obscenities at teen wearing Trump shirt releases statement

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 22:14

West U councilwoman accused of yelling obscenities at teen wearing Trump shirt releases statement | 05 April 2018 | (Houston, TX) Investigators at the Harris County Precinct One Constable's Office on Wednesday filed a disorderly conduct charge against West University Place Councilwoman Kellye Burke, after accusations that she berated a group of teenage girls over a Trump T-shirt...The father said the girls left without responding to the woman. He said one of the girls said she noticed that Burke had taken a picture of her. "They were scared," the father said. "...My little girl essentially wanted to know if this woman was going to hurt her." West U police referred the case to Harris County Precinct One Constable's office, which filed a class C misdemeanor charge against Burke.

Categories: News

Eco-Terrorism: A Cry of Desperation

Anarchist News - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 22:10

From Medium by A.S. Robak (Dec 18, 2017)

It should not come as surprise to the majority of our population that there is a fairly new phenomena that has arisen within the later half of the 20th century that pertains to the preservation of our environment. Just as light green environmental groups and lobbyists have gained traction within the mainstream, so have their more radical underground counterparts. Groups such as Greenpeace and PETA have attempted to solve our impending ecological and environmental crises time and time again through peaceful methods, but have had absolutely zero success in accomplishing this. However, unilateral organizations such as Earth First! and Deep Green Resistance have taken it into their own hands to halt the industrial complex that has been devastating the life systems on our planet for so long. Not only have these groups had a substantial amount of success in preserving the Earth and its life systems, but have gained sympathetic supporters from the general population in the process. These groups are in opposition to the mainstream environmentalist drivel that has been in circulation for so long, without accomplishing anything. The perspective taken by many of these groups and individuals is not that our system can be reformed to accommodate the other life on this planet. The problems we are facing in regards to the environment lie at the heart of the techno-industrial system as a whole. The problem of our crumbling ecological situation cannot be solved through legal means. Nothing short of the immediate destruction of the techno-industrial complex will be able to save our environment from it’s impending obliteration. We have demonized and cast out individuals such as Ted Kaczynski, who did nothing more than take this problem into his own hands. These people and organizations are here for the betterment of the planet. It makes no sense that we push the agenda that they are wrong, and must be locked up for their actions, when they are the ones who are right. They are the ones who have the courage to see the problem of our crumbling environment, and do something about it that will actually matter. The public should not look down upon these individuals and organizations as “Terrorists,” but should be able to see that these are the measures that must be taken in order for our environment to be truly saved.

Demonization and propaganda against these individuals and organizations will never truly bring them down, it will only make them stronger. Whenever one of these groups is pursued by the authorities, it only garners more attention to the cause. This is a widely observed phenomena. Not to say that this is a bad thing, but it is only aiding the cause of radical environmentalists when the government and the media attempts to demonize them. Let’s take a look at the Earth Liberation Front, which has operated internationally as a “Domestic Terrorist Organization” since the early 1990s. However, up until the early 2000s, not much was known about this group. For over two decades, this group has coordinated unilateral attacks on complexes which seek to enforce the human strangle hold upon the Earth. In the late 1990’s the group gained a significant amount of popularity within North America, with multiple arsons and bombings directed at ski resorts, power lines, and truck dealerships within the Pacific NorthWestern United States. These attacks were not directed at individuals, only the structures that allow these individuals to destroy the Earth. The goal of these attacks was to cause significant amounts of property damage, causing these destructive operations to halt their exploitative practices. Remember, nobody was killed or injured in these attacks. That was not the goal. Despite press releases from the ELF Press Office concerning the motives of these attacks, the group had become classified as a “Domestic Terror Organization.” The classification of the ELF as such only brought more attention to the cause. This is why many within the radical environmentalist community would now justify and defend the actions of the Earth Liberation Front, seeing as their motives were just and necessary in the fight towards a clean Earth. Legal actions have been taken to break down the ELF, but to no avail. Yes, the “Terrorists” such as Daniel McGowan, who were guilty of committing arsons and bombings in the state of Oregon in the late 1990s were later arrested and convicted. However, this exposure brought more people from the general public to look at these actions and justify them. Now, we can look at the Earth Liberation Front in 2017, it is larger than ever, with cells across the globe. It would have never grown to the size that it is today if the United States Government had not classified it as the most dangerous domestic terror threat in the country in 2001.

In another example, we can take a look at Ted Kaczynski, or “The Unabomber.” For 19 years, he led a bombing campaign across the United States that was targeted at individuals who were responsible for the destruction of the Earth, and the advancement of the technosphere. He had managed to elude the authorities for so long, with zero clues whatsoever in relation to his identity or location. The only way that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to catch him, was through the publishing of his 35,000 word manifesto: Industrial Society and its Future. On September 19th, 1995, the New York Times and the Washington Post published this manifesto in its entirety, in order to appeal to the Unabomber’s request, as stated in a letter mailed to both of these newspapers. This decision to publish his was very counterproductive on the part of the FBI. Not only did this decision lead to the American public becoming aware of the Unabomber’s motives, but may have sparked a new era of anti-technology and anti-industry movements. When this manifesto was released to the public, many people around the globe were able to access it through the internet, thus making the dispersal of this information very easy. In doing this, they created a whole new generation of future Unabomber’s, who are ready and willing to look past our technological facade, and rebel against it using whatever methods are possible. However, the publishing of this manifesto did lead to his arrest in 1996 in his cabin in rural Montana. His brother, David Kaczynski, was able to analyze and recognize the writing as his brother’s and subsequently reported this to the FBI. All in All, the decision of the FBI to allow the publishing of Industrial Society and its Future to the American Public was counterproductive. This manifesto has done nothing more than spawn a new generation of Ted Kaczynski’s, who are aware that technological society has done the exact opposite of liberation. It has only enslaved and weakened both us and the Earth. This feeding into the Neo-Luddite and Anti-Civilization ideologies is not necessarily a bad thing, however. Ignorance is not bliss, and it is only better for the general population to know the truth about the dangers of technological society, rather for them to be hidden within a techno-industrial masquerade of lies and deception.

If we are to define “terrorism”, we can see that it is clearly defined as “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, in the pursuit of political aims.” Pondering this, we can explore whether or not these “Eco-Terrorists” are truly terrorists in the common sense of the word. In many of these circumstances, the attacks carried out were not directed at civilians, but at creations of the system itself. It doesn’t make much sense that one would be able to “Terrify” that which is not alive, but is a building or an industrial complex. Yes, these actions may be considered violent, and possibly using intimidation. However, in no way are these groups using “terror” to advance a political goal. On the other hand, who is the real terrorist in this instance? Is it the coercive complexes that uphold the techno-industrial system, which is used to rape the planet of all that is good, or is it those who are courageous enough to stand up to this environmental tyranny? It is the gambit of the techno-industrial system to demonize and destroy all who oppose it. Considering this, we can see that those who are labeled as “Eco-Terrorists” by the technocrats, will certainly be looked down upon by those who the technocrats influence, without thought that the true terrorist may be the technological system itself.

In addition to the fact that the government, as well as the media are only feeding into public sympathy for radical environmentalism, these complexes can do absolutely nothing to stop these operations from taking place. Hypothetically, we can say that the government passes a law that is supposed to debilitate “Eco-Terrorist” organizations. Let us say that a government passes a law which makes it harder for one to buy the materials required to build bombs or conduct arsons. In absolutely no way is this ever going to affect the ability or desire of the “terrorist” to continue doing these activities. Absolutely nobody who is already committing a punishable offense will see that these materials have been made harder to obtain, and thus means that they are unable to proceed as they were before. There are two options that will be followed in this instance. The first is that instead of obtaining materials on the free market, one would have to purchase materials from a black market instead. Yes, this is illegal. However, one would not care if it is illegal, seeing as they are already breaking the law by the mere existence of their “Eco-Terrorist” organization. The second option that will be pursued in this instance is the idea to improvise, adapt and overcome. If one already has their mind set upon an operation that will further the destruction of techno-industrialism as we know it, one will not halt their pursuit once it has been made harder to do it. The only logical way forward is for one to come up with alternatives that will allow one to accomplish the same thing, or something close to it. Hypothetically, let us say that it has been made harder for one obtain a material required to make a bomb. However, I had my mind set on the bombing of a local coal plant with a few of my comrades. We would not see this and think that there is no way that we can proceed. Of course it only makes sense that we either find a way around the obstacle, or find an alternative method. In this instance, it would make sense to find a replacement material that has the same use in the construction of explosives, or we could rescind our idea of a bombing, and resort to arson instead. There is no law that any government can pass that can possibly get between these groups and their goals. If these groups do truly believe in the complete and utter destruction of the techno-industrial system in order to liberate humanity and the Earth, then they will surely do whatever it takes to accomplish these goals. Under no circumstance will a revolution be halted due to illegality. History has shown us otherwise.

Seeing as there is nothing that can be done to prevent these attacks from taking place within the positive law spectrum, there is only one option that the public must take in regard to the rise of “Eco-Terrorism” in the 21st century. It is not unrealistic for me to say that we as a society will have to learn from the motives of these groups and individuals, and see how they are relevant in our society today. Fighting this movement is not an option. The radical environmentalist movement is based on an ideology of non-failure. Nothing can be done to stop the movement that is willing to do anything to bring about the destruction of techno-industrialism as we know it. The adaptation of our society at large to the rise of this movement will allow it to succeed. As our society becomes more and more conscious of the truth underlying this destructive game, we will slowly but surely begin to side with these groups that were once deemed “Eco-Terrorists.” The only way that we will be able to prevent the violent destruction of this system, is through the peaceful dismantlement of the system itself. However, seeing as our society is currently only willing to take legal measures to reform the system, these attacks are necessary to further the ideology that will not stop until the civilized structure that is currently being used to rape the Earth of its resources has been entirely obliterated. As our crumbling civilizational structure continues to destroy itself under the weight of humanity’s industry, public opinion will become more and more favourable towards the construction of a new, improved, and sustainable society.

To conclude, these unilateral attacks that have been taken, and will continue to take place against the techno-industrial system can not be stopped by any form of natural law. The only method that will allow the violence to cease, is the adaptation of the general public to the fact that this way of life will never be able to sustain itself, and must be destroyed in favor of something that is not as harmful to the planet which we rely on. This popularization of radical environmentalism is entirely the fault of the government, and of the media, which has brought these groups to the forefront of environmental discussion within the general population. As the government and the media attempt to expose and demonize these environmental groups and radical individuals. As the government attempts to hinder the actions of these groups through new laws, these groups only become more innovative at finding ways to break through natural law in favor of the goals that will aid the Earth, not just us, within our selfish, human-centric point of view. We must learn from these so called “Eco-Terrorists” if we are to build a better future for all life on this planet. As our failure of a civilization continues to destroy itself, the few members of society who are willing to do something about it, will continue to fight against the injustices that take place across our planet, no matter how much they are demonized and suppressed by the government. These acts of “Eco-Terror” are no more than cries of desperation as the Earth is crushed under the weight of humanity.

Tags: anti-civEco-extremismgreenALFELFpropaganda of the deedattackcategory: Essays
Categories: News

June 11, 2018: A Day Against Oblivion

It's Goin Down - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 20:53

The post June 11, 2018: A Day Against Oblivion appeared first on It's Going Down.

What follows is a call out for June 11th, the international day of solidarity with long term anarchist prisoners. Like last year, IGD will again be collaborating with the June 11th crew. To see what all went on last year, go here.

[PDF for reading] [PDF for printing]

June 11th is an international day of solidarity with Marius Mason and all long-term anarchist prisoners. A spark in the eternal night of state repression. A day set aside for honoring those who have been stolen from us. On this day, we share in songs, events, and actions to celebrate our captured comrades and loved ones. In years past, June 11th celebrations have been international and wide-ranging – from potlucks with friends to various inspiring attacks; fundraising benefits and prisoner letter writing nights to all of the untold and unknown ways we keep the flame alive.

Building up to this day, each year several of us come together to discuss and reflect on lessons from years past and to renew this call for continuous solidarity. This year we invite you to explore and ponder with us how maintaining support for long-term prisoners depends directly on sustaining the movements and struggles we all remain part of. How can we expect to continue through decades of support as movements, groups, and people come and go, burn out, and get caught in the exhausting ebbs and flows of struggle? Going deeper, what can we learn from long-term prisoners and their legacies of solidarity? How can we sustain and improve the health of our movements, and in turn strengthen that support?

Over the last several years, critiques of incarceration have flourished, often resulting in a myriad of prisoner support efforts and projects. Embodying stability, commitment, and longevity are prisoners from Black liberation, the New Left, indigenous movements, and those who have unceasingly supported them for decades. In addition to these efforts, there has been an upsurge in organizing against mass incarceration itself. Though smaller groups had been pioneering these sentiments for many years prior, it is encouraging to see more people taking up this work. There has also been an extension of efforts to support prison rebels who have been engaging in everything from work strikes to burning and trashing entire units on the inside. At the same time, more and more projects are critiquing the state itself – identifying that it is upheld by the pillars of prisons and police. Finally, there are more efforts aimed at addressing the needs of queer and trans prisoners, criminalized survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, and people living with mental health challenges, just to name a few.

In the spirit of June 11th, which invites everyone to participate according to their own desires, personal affinities, and tactical preferences, it encourages us to see such widespread activity. One thing in particular that we have been heartened to see is just how widespread newsletters, blogs, books, and zines written by prisoners have become. After years of discussion about amplifying prisoners’ voices, we are seeing the results and appreciate the countless hours put in by both prisoners and supporters to launch and sustain these publications. Complementing these efforts are those which have furthered international solidarity by translating and transmitting the words of our comrades, and those who have undertaken beautiful gestures and messages of solidarity with bold action and attack.

Amongst these many prisoner support projects we see a variety of orientations, tactics, strategies, and practices. Along with the expansion of initiatives has come endless emergencies and urgent calls to action to have prisoners’ backs, on top of all the other constant crises in this nightmare world. With so much to do, we are forced to make choices. Traditional activism, which demands so much of our energy be directed into immediate and often symbolic responses at the expense of long-term intentions and strategies, simply will not do. We need to act with an eye towards sustaining our movements and projects, so that we remain capable of supporting comrades spending decades in prison. This requires a holistic approach to struggle and living in solidarity. One-time gestures are important, and sometimes the best we can do. But what does it mean to be in it for the long haul?

While June 11th is only one day, it is a manifestation of the daily strength and fortitude of imprisoned comrades and the tireless, behind-the-scenes work of those who support them. This often looks like visiting; writing; raising money; spreading information; and sharing their artwork, poems, and writings. We are inspired by Jeremy Hammond and Marius Mason’s support crews working consistently to keep them connected to the rest of the world. We hearken back to Sacramento Prisoner Support fighting for years to get Eric McDavid free. We are humbled by so many who have helped long-term prisoners like Zolo Azania, Russell Maroon Shoatz, David Gilbert, Sean Swain, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jalil Muntaqim, Leonard Peltier and so many others publish books written in their cells.

Visions & Possibilities

Faced with both the long-term prospect of aiding comrades through decades in prison and the short-term work that this solidarity entails, we risk getting lost in alternating currents of despair and mania that leave no space for reflection. It’s difficult to know where to move when faced with the overwhelming task of ameliorating the deprivation and misery our comrades face, while also remaining critical of reformism. We want our comrades free now and all prisons demolished immediately, but we have no idea how to do this. Despite our combined decades of acting in solidarity with anarchist prisoners, we have no blueprint, only visions.

By throwing away divisive dichotomies and their tactical fetishes (mass struggle vs. direct action), we can come to a new metric by which to judge our work: can this sustain me and my comrades through the coming years? It seems unlikely that a vibrant movement of solidarity with prisoners can come to bloom if our concerns are solely ideological, tactical, or strategic. The joy and difficulty of human relationships, the sadness engendered by concrete and razor wire, the struggle against oppressive ideas and behavior and the concurrent need for transformative forms of addressing conflict, the excitement and fear that come with a comrade’s release, and the frustration and exhaustion of doing this work should all become part of how we envision solidarity.

It seems to us that by actively engaging in these considerations, we can begin to think beyond the immediate crises: restricted literature, missing letters, stints in solitary, harassment from guards, scrambling for commissary funds, restricted phone calls and visits. By grounding ourselves in relationships with individuals in prison – seeing them not as celebrities, leaders, or abstract “oppressed people”– we open space to dream of what a life shared in common with our imprisoned comrades could mean. With this, we exit the realm of the purely political and enter the realm of the human. One cannot survive on duty and ideology, but human relationships can nourish and sustain us. And we must continuously fight to maintain clear paths to reach our comrades in this way, as the state continues to dehumanize and isolate them, increasingly restricting visits to those behind glass or worse, those on a screen, whether we be a few yards or hundreds of miles away. In-person and contact visits, priceless for building real human connection, are often high on the list of demands from prisoners and those supporting them on the outside. Recently we’ve been inspired by Fight Toxic Prisons’ campaign to keep contact visits in the Florida Department of Corrections.

We must strive for lives intertwined with our friends and comrades in prison. And indeed, in many ways, they are. The repression of prisoner support groups by Operation Scripta Manent (the Italian state’s attempt to repress anarchist activities by accusing individuals of carrying out incendiary and explosive attacks) remind us that there is often a thin line separating those who are imprisoned and those who are outside supporting them in whatever way they can.

What can these considerations on building sustainable movements, communities, and projects suggest to us when thinking about accompanying our comrades through both pre-trial repression and post-release transitions? Passing on historical and intergenerational knowledge from those who have already survived the worst the state could throw at them would certainly be helpful and inspiring to those currently fighting to remain free. And what would be better for a comrade coming out of prison than a strong community and friends who have already been working and envisioning lives together?

Prisoner Updates

Throughout the past year, our imprisoned comrades have faced the cold eyes and violent hands of the state with integrity intact. In Chile, Tamara Sol attempted to escape from prison, was seriously injured in the process, and has since been transferred: first to a maximum security prison in Santiago, and then to the especially brutal Llancahue prison in Valdivia. The “Bombs Case 2” wrapped up, with Juan Flores found guilty of multiple bombings in Santiago and sentenced to 23 years in prison. In Germany, Lisa was sentenced to over 7 years in prison after being found guilty of robbing a bank in Aachen. She was transferred to JVA Willich II in February. In the United States, Walter Bond went on hunger strike for six days, demanding vegan meals, an end to mail tampering, and transfer to New York where he intends to live upon release. In retaliation, he was transferred to the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Indiana. In Greece, Pola Roupa and Nikos Maziotis went on hunger strike for nearly 40 days demanding better conditions and more time for visits, as well as the abolition of the ultra-repressive C-type prison that Nikos has been held in. Dinos Yagtzoglou was arrested and is facing charges related to a letter bomb that injured a former Greek prime minister. His resistance behind bars sparked an uprising at three Greek prisons, securing his demand of transfer to Korydallos prison.

In the United States, trans anarchist and eco/animal liberation prisoner Marius Mason needs more mail! He enjoys getting articles about animal rights, environmental activism, resistance to the alt-right, Black Lives Matter, and other prison struggles. Carswell Federal Medical Center, where Marius has been held for the past several years, is a notoriously restrictive and cruel facility. Currently they are denying him medical care for his transition as promised, as well as adequate vegan food options.

June 11th is an idea, not just a day. June 11th is every day. And ideas are bulletproof. Let’s breathe life into the rest of the year and renew the celebration of anarchist prisoners’ lives by carrying on their struggles alongside them.

In short: It’s a call-out, so we’re calling on you! June 11th is what you make of it. Follow your heart and fill the world with beautiful gestures. There is no action that is too small or too grand.

Categories: News

Oppose the Nazi Rally in Newnan, GA, April 21!

It's Goin Down - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 20:25

The post Oppose the Nazi Rally in Newnan, GA, April 21! appeared first on It's Going Down.

People are mobilizing in Georgia to confront the National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the violent neo-Nazi groups which attended Unite the Right in Charlottesville, and for decades has been open about their worship of Adolf Hitler.

The National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization, is having its national meeting in Georgia on April 20-21. While most of the meeting will be in Temple, Georgia (almost certainly at Patrick Lanzo’s Georgia Peach Oyster Bar), the Nazis are also having a public rally in Newnan, Georgia on the afternoon of Saturday, April 21. (Newnan is part of the Metro Atlanta area and is approximately 45 minutes southwest from Atlanta.) The Nazis are expecting 50-100 people to attend their rally at the Greenville Street Park in Newnan.

no nazis in newnanNeo-Nazis often believe that smaller cities (such as Newnan) will be more receptive to their racist message, and that they can come in and recruit. Let’s show the Nazis that they’re wrong and that they are not welcome!

Gather in downtown Newnan, 2PM, April 21st. Follow Atlanta Antifascists’ social media and the #nonazinewnan hashtag for updates.

Please spread the word! Print and distribute posters (download here) and half-sheet flyers (download here)!

If your organization wishes to endorse this mobilization, get in contact and we will add you to the list of endorsers.

Protest endorsers:

  • Atlanta Antifascists
  • Atlanta General Defense Committee
  • Atlanta Industrial Workers of the World
Categories: News

New Solar Capacity Exceeded All Other Fuel Sources Combined in 2017, Study Finds

deSmog - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 17:53
solar pv panels in Hong Kong

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch

In 2017, the world invested more in solar power than it did in any other energy technology and installed more new solar capacity than all other energy sources combined, including fossil fuels.

Those are the bright findings of a UN-backed report Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018, published Thursday.

Tags: renewable energyChina energy policysolar energychina
Categories: News

June 11, 2018: A Day Against Oblivion

Anarchist News - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 15:13

From June 11th

[PDF for reading] [PDF for printing]

June 11th is an international day of solidarity with Marius Mason and all long-term anarchist prisoners. A spark in the eternal night of state repression. A day set aside for honoring those who have been stolen from us. On this day, we share in songs, events, and actions to celebrate our captured comrades and loved ones. In years past, June 11th celebrations have been international and wide-ranging – from potlucks with friends to various inspiring attacks; fundraising benefits and prisoner letter writing nights to all of the untold and unknown ways we keep the flame alive.

Building up to this day, each year several of us come together to discuss and reflect on lessons from years past and to renew this call for continuous solidarity. This year we invite you to explore and ponder with us how maintaining support for long-term prisoners depends directly on sustaining the movements and struggles we all remain part of. How can we expect to continue through decades of support as movements, groups, and people come and go, burn out, and get caught in the exhausting ebbs and flows of struggle? Going deeper, what can we learn from long-term prisoners and their legacies of solidarity? How can we sustain and improve the health of our movements, and in turn strengthen that support?

Over the last several years, critiques of incarceration have flourished, often resulting in a myriad of prisoner support efforts and projects. Embodying stability, commitment, and longevity are prisoners from Black liberation, the New Left, indigenous movements, and those who have unceasingly supported them for decades. In addition to these efforts, there has been an upsurge in organizing against mass incarceration itself. Though smaller groups had been pioneering these sentiments for many years prior, it is encouraging to see more people taking up this work. There has also been an extension of efforts to support prison rebels who have been engaging in everything from work strikes to burning and trashing entire units on the inside. At the same time, more and more projects are critiquing the state itself – identifying that it is upheld by the pillars of prisons and police. Finally, there are more efforts aimed at addressing the needs of queer and trans prisoners, criminalized survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, and people living with mental health challenges, just to name a few.

In the spirit of June 11th, which invites everyone to participate according to their own desires, personal affinities, and tactical preferences, it encourages us to see such widespread activity. One thing in particular that we have been heartened to see is just how widespread newsletters, blogs, books, and zines written by prisoners have become. After years of discussion about amplifying prisoners’ voices, we are seeing the results and appreciate the countless hours put in by both prisoners and supporters to launch and sustain these publications. Complementing these efforts are those which have furthered international solidarity by translating and transmitting the words of our comrades, and those who have undertaken beautiful gestures and messages of solidarity with bold action and attack.

Amongst these many prisoner support projects we see a variety of orientations, tactics, strategies, and practices. Along with the expansion of initiatives has come endless emergencies and urgent calls to action to have prisoners’ backs, on top of all the other constant crises in this nightmare world. With so much to do, we are forced to make choices. Traditional activism, which demands so much of our energy be directed into immediate and often symbolic responses at the expense of long-term intentions and strategies, simply will not do. We need to act with an eye towards sustaining our movements and projects, so that we remain capable of supporting comrades spending decades in prison. This requires a holistic approach to struggle and living in solidarity. One-time gestures are important, and sometimes the best we can do. But what does it mean to be in it for the long haul?

While June 11th is only one day, it is a manifestation of the daily strength and fortitude of imprisoned comrades and the tireless, behind-the-scenes work of those who support them. This often looks like visiting; writing; raising money; spreading information; and sharing their artwork, poems, and writings. We are inspired by Jeremy Hammond and Marius Mason’s support crews working consistently to keep them connected to the rest of the world. We hearken back to Sacramento Prisoner Support fighting for years to get Eric McDavid free. We are humbled by so many who have helped long-term prisoners like Zolo Azania, Russell Maroon Shoatz, David Gilbert, Sean Swain, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jalil Muntaqim, Leonard Peltier and so many others publish books written in their cells.

Visions & Possibilities

Faced with both the long-term prospect of aiding comrades through decades in prison and the short-term work that this solidarity entails, we risk getting lost in alternating currents of despair and mania that leave no space for reflection. It’s difficult to know where to move when faced with the overwhelming task of ameliorating the deprivation and misery our comrades face, while also remaining critical of reformism. We want our comrades free now and all prisons demolished immediately, but we have no idea how to do this. Despite our combined decades of acting in solidarity with anarchist prisoners, we have no blueprint, only visions.

By throwing away divisive dichotomies and their tactical fetishes (mass struggle vs. direct action), we can come to a new metric by which to judge our work: can this sustain me and my comrades through the coming years? It seems unlikely that a vibrant movement of solidarity with prisoners can come to bloom if our concerns are solely ideological, tactical, or strategic. The joy and difficulty of human relationships, the sadness engendered by concrete and razor wire, the struggle against oppressive ideas and behavior and the concurrent need for transformative forms of addressing conflict, the excitement and fear that come with a comrade’s release, and the frustration and exhaustion of doing this work should all become part of how we envision solidarity.

It seems to us that by actively engaging in these considerations, we can begin to think beyond the immediate crises: restricted literature, missing letters, stints in solitary, harassment from guards, scrambling for commissary funds, restricted phone calls and visits. By grounding ourselves in relationships with individuals in prison – seeing them not as celebrities, leaders, or abstract “oppressed people”– we open space to dream of what a life shared in common with our imprisoned comrades could mean. With this, we exit the realm of the purely political and enter the realm of the human. One cannot survive on duty and ideology, but human relationships can nourish and sustain us. And we must continuously fight to maintain clear paths to reach our comrades in this way, as the state continues to dehumanize and isolate them, increasingly restricting visits to those behind glass or worse, those on a screen, whether we be a few yards or hundreds of miles away. In-person and contact visits, priceless for building real human connection, are often high on the list of demands from prisoners and those supporting them on the outside. Recently we’ve been inspired by Fight Toxic Prisons’ campaign to keep contact visits in the Florida Department of Corrections.

We must strive for lives intertwined with our friends and comrades in prison. And indeed, in many ways, they are. The repression of prisoner support groups by Operation Scripta Manent (the Italian state’s attempt to repress anarchist activities by accusing individuals of carrying out incendiary and explosive attacks) remind us that there is often a thin line separating those who are imprisoned and those who are outside supporting them in whatever way they can.

What can these considerations on building sustainable movements, communities, and projects suggest to us when thinking about accompanying our comrades through both pre-trial repression and post-release transitions? Passing on historical and intergenerational knowledge from those who have already survived the worst the state could throw at them would certainly be helpful and inspiring to those currently fighting to remain free. And what would be better for a comrade coming out of prison than a strong community and friends who have already been working and envisioning lives together?

Prisoner Updates

Throughout the past year, our imprisoned comrades have faced the cold eyes and violent hands of the state with integrity intact. In Chile, Tamara Sol attempted to escape from prison, was seriously injured in the process, and has since been transferred: first to a maximum security prison in Santiago, and then to the especially brutal Llancahue prison in Valdivia. The “Bombs Case 2” wrapped up, with Juan Flores found guilty of multiple bombings in Santiago and sentenced to 23 years in prison. In Germany, Lisa was sentenced to over 7 years in prison after being found guilty of robbing a bank in Aachen. She was transferred to JVA Willich II in February. In the United States, Walter Bond went on hunger strike for six days, demanding vegan meals, an end to mail tampering, and transfer to New York where he intends to live upon release. In retaliation, he was transferred to the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Indiana. In Greece, Pola Roupa and Nikos Maziotis went on hunger strike for nearly 40 days demanding better conditions and more time for visits, as well as the abolition of the ultra-repressive C-type prison that Nikos has been held in. Dinos Yagtzoglou was arrested and is facing charges related to a letter bomb that injured a former Greek prime minister. His resistance behind bars sparked an uprising at three Greek prisons, securing his demand of transfer to Korydallos prison.

In the United States, trans anarchist and eco/animal liberation prisoner Marius Mason needs more mail! He enjoys getting articles about animal rights, environmental activism, resistance to the alt-right, Black Lives Matter, and other prison struggles. Carswell Federal Medical Center, where Marius has been held for the past several years, is a notoriously restrictive and cruel facility. Currently they are denying him medical care for his transition as promised, as well as adequate vegan food options.

June 11th is an idea, not just a day. June 11th is every day. And ideas are bulletproof. Let’s breathe life into the rest of the year and renew the celebration of anarchist prisoners’ lives by carrying on their struggles alongside them.

In short: It’s a call-out, so we’re calling on you! June 11th is what you make of it. Follow your heart and fill the world with beautiful gestures. There is no action that is too small or too grand.

Tags: june 11thjune 11anarchists in troubleprisonlong term prisoner supportMarius Masoncategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Crossword Puzzle #46: Things Anarchists Love

Anarchist News - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 14:27

This weeks crossword puzzle is on Things Anarchists Love.

Download it here: https://anarchistnews.org/crossword/crossword46.pdf

***

From LBC about the book:

For those anarchistnews fans who miss Worker's acerbic and insightful bon mots on modern-day anarchy and anarchists, here is a fix (however temporary) for you.

Fifty crossword puzzles of occasionally ludicrous difficulty (there are scattered puff questions throughout also, for those of you, like me, who are terrible at these kind of games) are featured for your education and amusement.

Anarchistnews.org is the most popular, utilized, and non-sectarian news source pertaining to anarchists in North America. Its open commenting system continues to be one of the few spaces in which anarchists, nationally and internationally, converse about topics of the day, challenge each other, and critically engage with a wide variety of issues and events.

Worker retired from running the site after eleven years... Since then they have reflected on their time in the daily trenches of running the site, and this book is the result. These crossword puzzles speak to the years of comment threads, the ridiculousness and wonderfulness of the anarchist space in North America, and finally the absurdity of working with cantankerous, stubborn, and self-righteous people by way of essay or manifesto.

These puzzles should probably be done by a reading group or a group of friends. They are supposed to make you think, laugh, and perhaps smack your head. A more perfect metaphor for North American anarchism cannot be found.

https://littleblackcart.com/books/culture/workers-book-of-50-sectarian-c...

***

[ Here are the solutions! Don’t peek!: http://ardentpress.com/crosswords/ ]

Tags: beautiful crossmess parzelthis sitepdflovestuffthingscategory: Projects
Categories: News

New Abortion Law Requires Doctors to Keep Records that Can Follow Patients Through Life

Truth Out - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 04:00

 TippaPatt / Shutterstock; Edited: JR / TO)(Image: TippaPatt / Shutterstock; Edited: JR / TO)

Indiana passed a new abortion law last week that has made the news. Senate Bill 340 requires that doctors gather data about women who come to see them about "abortion complications," ostensibly to improve patient health and safety.

Sounds good in theory but the law is so broadly drawn that it quickly becomes clear that the bill is actually designed to punish women who have obtained abortions. First, the "abortion complication" symptoms that trigger the reporting requirement are vast. In addition to physical complications that could occur from any kind of surgery, such as blood clots and infection, emotional and psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression are also included.

Moreover, although the law requires that the symptoms must arise "from the induction or performance of an abortion," there is no time limit on the reporting requirement and no guidance for doctors to determine whether any of these symptoms actually "arose" from an abortion.

The vagueness of the requirements is even more concerning when combined with the potential punishment for failure to report the required data: up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. As a result, doctors are likely to over-report data to avoid violating the law.

And what is this required data? Like the definition of "abortion complications," it is also broad and belies its stated purpose of protecting patients' health. Doctors must provide detailed data about the abortion itself including its location, date and prior treatments for complications. But information about the patient herself must also be collected, including her county and state of residence, her age and her race. Let's just pause. Her race? What possible relevance could that have? The age of patient is tenuous enough; perhaps some kind of argument could be made that risks go up as the woman ages. But race. There is no medical reason to collect that kind of information. Doctors must also report the patient's education level. Again, what? Why?

So, any time a woman comes in to see a doctor for an infection, depression, or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (which has multiple potential causes), her doctor is likely to ask her if she had an abortion. If she has, the doctor is then likely to ask her a series of questions about the abortion and herself in order to make sure her symptoms are not caused by the abortion. And then the doctor may report her information to the state. As a woman who lives in Indiana and has experienced symptoms on the list (there are 25 listed symptoms, one of which is death -- I'll let you figure out how a woman could report that symptom to her doctor), I am horrified by the thought that my doctor would quiz me on whether I had had an abortion just because of those ailments.

To say that the conversation would turn awkward is an understatement. To say that women who have had abortions would feel uncomfortable, shamed and persecuted by such questioning is obvious.

But is it legal? Can the state require doctors to gather this information using such broad guidelines? Does it violate the woman's privacy? Does it violate the doctor's right to freedom of speech?

The woman's right to privacy is unlikely to be a viable avenue to challenge this law -- the information will not identify her by name or address. Doctors might have a better chance by arguing that this law compels them to speak.

Compelled speech is generally unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Recently, the Supreme Court has taken cases that concern compelled speech, one of which involves abortion. Unfortunately, the compelled speech doctrine has done little to assist abortion providers. Historically, the Supreme Court has been unwilling to strike requirements that doctors provide information to their abortion patients, even if the information is not strictly medically necessary. According to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, although the compelled speech doctrine is implicated, doctors can be required to give information to patients as long as the information is "truthful and not misleading."

Since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 26 states now require abortion providers to give "informed consent information," and the requirements of the content of that information vary widely. In several states, some of the required information is demonstrably false and clearly intended to deter women from obtaining abortions. For example, some states require physicians to tell women that abortions may cause breast cancer, despite medical evidence to the contrary. The Supreme Court has yet to address the issue of compelled false speech.

But Indiana's law requires something different. Instead of requiring speech in order to provide an abortion, Senate Bill 340 requires doctors to ask questions and gather information after the abortion has already been provided. This is not an issue of informed consent, which was the sole basis for approving the information provided in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

As noted above, the stated reason for the quizzing and data-gathering is to improve women's health and safety, but just looking at the data gathered shows that something else is going on. This is not about health and safety. First, abortions are one of the safest surgeries a woman can obtain and are certainly safer than giving birth. Legislators who argue the dangers of abortion surgeries have historically, and hilariously, shown they have absolutely no knowledge of how the surgery is carried about. For starters, there is no incision, and physical complications are rare.

Second, the law does not apply to women who obtain the exact same surgery -- a "dilation and curettage" -- if the fetus has already died due to miscarriage, even though the surgery is the same. In fact, I know of no other surgery that requires doctors to compile the kind of data required by Senate Bill 340 several years after the surgery took place. If women's emotional health is so important, shouldn't such data be required at least for women who have suffered miscarriages, which are incredibly traumatic?

Finally, the fact that anti-abortion groups are gleefully anticipating future reporting shows the true purpose of this law: to further stigmatize abortions.

In sum, under this law, anti-abortion legislators have found a new way to punish women for getting an abortion. Not only will Indiana women have to endure reading informationthat tells them that Indiana prefers childbirth, and abortion can lead to fertility issues (false), but, for the rest of their lives, their doctors may quiz them about their abortion if they ever present certain -- very common -- physical or emotional symptoms. The stigma will follow them for the rest of their lives, souring their relationships with their doctors, and likely chilling their willingness to report these symptoms in the future. How does that help women's health?

Categories: News

How Do You Tell the Kids that Grandma Is in Jail for Resisting Nuclear Weapons?

Truth Out - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 04:00

"Our grandma is in jail," Madeline tells a woman wrestling a shopping cart at Target.

"She went over a war fence and tried to make peace," Seamus adds helpfully. "They arrested her, and she is in jail now."

"Where?" the woman asks, looking from them to me in disbelief and maybe pity.

"We don't remember," the kids say, suddenly done with their story and ready to make passionate pleas for the colorful items in the dollar section over the woman's shoulder.

"Georgia," I say, but I don't have a lot of energy to add detail to my kids' story. They hit all the high points.

"There's a lot going on these days," she says. I agree, and we move on into the store and our separate errands.

I was happy not to say more at that moment, happy to avoid a sobbing breakdown at Target, happy to wrestle one little bit of normal out of a very abnormal day.

My mom, Liz McAlister, who turned 78 in November, had been arrested deep inside the King's Bay Naval Base in St. Mary's, Georgia in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Along with six friends, she carried banners, statements, hammers and blood onto the base. They started their action on April 4: the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination.

Their statement made connections between nuclear weapons, white supremacy and deeply embedded racism. It is a long statement, but given that they were carrying it into a free-fire zone -- where military personnel are authorized to use deadly force — there was no particular need for brevity: "We come to Kings Bay to answer the call of the prophet Isaiah (2:4) to 'beat swords into plowshares' by disarming the world's deadliest nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. We repent of the sin of white supremacy that oppresses and takes the lives of people of color here in the United States and throughout the world. We resist militarism that has employed deadly violence to enforce global domination. We believe reparations are required for stolen land, labor and lives."

They walked onto King's Bay Naval Station just hours after Saheed Vassell was shot and killed in a barrage of bullets by New York City police officers, just hours after hundreds of demonstrators filled the streets of Sacramento for another day, shouting "Stephon Clark, Stephon Clark, Stephon Clark" and demanding accountability after the young father of two was killed by police officers on March 18. These seven white activists know that when you are black in this country, your own corner, your grandmother's own backyard, is a free-fire zone more dangerous than any military base.

There is indeed a lot going on these days.

The statement continues: "Dr. King said, 'The greatest purveyor of violence in the world (today) is my own government.' This remains true in the midst of our endless war on terror. The United States has embraced a permanent war economy. 'Peace through strength' is a dangerous lie in a world that includes weapons of mass destruction on hair-trigger alert. The weapons from one Trident have the capacity to end life as we know it on planet Earth."

Kings Bay is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world at about 16,000 acres. It is the home port of the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet's Trident nuclear-powered submarines. There are eight in total, two guided missile submarines and six ballistic missile submarines. These submarines were all built in Groton, Connecticut -- right across the river from our home in New London. Each submarine, my mom and her friends assert, carries the capacity to cause devastation equivalent to 600 of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima, Japan.

"Nuclear weapons kill every day through our mining, production, testing, storage and dumping, primarily on indigenous native land. This weapons system is a cocked gun being held to the head of the planet. As white Catholics, we take responsibility to atone for the horrific crimes stemming from our complicity with 'the triplets' [of evil]. Only then can we begin to restore right relationships. We seek to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons, racism and economic exploitation."

That is not the end, you can read the whole statement and their indictment of the United States on their Facebook group.

These sorts of actions -- called Plowshares -- have a nearly 40-year history, since my father and uncle and six others broke into the King of Prussia plant in Pennsylvania in 198o to "beat swords into plowshares." They struck at nosecones with hammers and marked the weapons with blood to reveal the human costs and mess and suffering the weapons are built to wreak in the world.

My father participated in five of these Plowshares actions in his lifetime and helped organize countless others. Committed conspirers, steeped in active nonviolence, have carried out more than 100 of these actions since 1980. This is my mom's second action. She and her current co-defendant Clare Grady, were part of the 1983 Griffiss Plowshares in upstate New York.

My parents estimated that they spent 11 years of their 27-year marriage separated by prison, and it was mostly these actions that kept them apart and away from us. Countless life events in our family -- birthdays, graduations, celebrations of all kinds -- were stuttered by the absence of one of our parents. I say this with pain and loss, but no self-pity. Dad was able to attend my high school graduation, but not my brother's. We went straight from my college graduation to visit my dad in jail in Maine. I missed all the raging keggers, sweaty dance parties and tearful goodbyes that marked the end of college for my friends to sit knee-to-knee with my father in a cramped and soulless room. On chairs designed for maximum discomfort, I tried to share my momentous day and all my 22-year-old big feelings while ignoring the guards and the room crowded with a dozen others doing the same thing. We wrote thousands of letters. They often crisscrossed each other so that there was a constant weaving of story and sharing across the miles.

So, when I explained that grandma was in jail to my kids -- 11-year-old Rosena, 5-year-old Seamus and 4-year-old Madeline -- I felt the weight of a lifetime of missing and provisional family experiences, frequently lived in prison visiting rooms and through urgently scrawled letters.

I tried to figure out a way to talk to them that would make sense and, in thinking it through, I realized that none of this should make sense to anyone! Nuclear weapons? Absurd! Police brutality and white supremacy? Senseless! Plowshares actions with their symbolic transformation and ritual mess-making? A foolhardy act of David versus Goliath proportions!

So, I didn't try to make it make sense. I just forged ahead, grateful that they had some context: We had participated in the Good Friday Stations of the Cross organized by Catholic Worker friends at our local submarine base a few days earlier, and -- the night before -- we had gone to hear a dramatic reading of Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

"Hey guys, know how we went to the sub base on Friday? Grandma was arrested in a place like that late last night. She is in jail now. She and her friends broke onto the base to say that nuclear weapons are wrong. Remember how Dr. King talked about just and unjust laws?" They nodded and remembered that King said "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." I told them that Grandma thinks that nuclear weapons -- things that can destroy so much life on our planet -- shouldn't be built and protected and paid for when so many people are hungry, so many kids don't have good schools to go to, so many people don't have good homes. I went on and on.

"Wait, these nuclear weapons … They are war things?" Seamus asked.

"Yep, they are war things, bud."

"Good for grandma," he said, and that was the end of our serious conversation.

Mom and her friends are charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and two felonies: possession of tools for the commission of a crime and interference with government property.

The kids and I didn't talk about the kind of jail time that could mean for their grandma. It is all I am thinking about right now, but they moved on, imagining out loud and with a lot of enthusiasm how grandma got by the attack dogs and police officers they had seen at the Groton Submarine Base. They were sure there was a similar set up in Georgia. "Grandma needed a ladder and a cheetah," said Madeline. "A cheetah is the only animal that can outrun dogs and police officer's bullets."

I am pretty sure no cheetahs were involved in the Kings Bay Plowshares, but I am happy my daughter sees her grandmother as a fierce and powerful anti-war activist astride a wild cat.

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Categories: News

Betsy DeVos Wants to Roll Back Critical Guidance on School Discipline

Truth Out - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 04:00

Once again, Betsy DeVos is attempting to rescind Obama-era guidance on education issues. This time, she's proposing a rollback of guidelines developed to reduce racialized discipline disparities in schools.

Black and brown children -- especially if they are disabled -- are disproportionately subjected to discipline in schools.

And critics argue that this reality feeds the school-to-prison pipeline – sometimes very directly. Schools may refer students to law enforcement for discipline, and some may keep armed officers on campus as "security." When kids are targeted for suspension and expulsion at higher rates, the disadvantage often spills over into adulthood.

The Obama guidelines focused on moving away from punitive measures and developing more positive approaches to behavioral problems on campus. The federal government argued that discipline disparities constitute a civil rights violation and that schools need to take measures to ensure students are treated equally -- regardless of gender, race or disability status. They also placed a heavy emphasis on keeping students in school and promoting safe, supportive learning environments -- not referring students elsewhere for discipline.

This policy shift is taking place alongside the national gun violence debate, and that's not a coincidence. Some "law and order" conservatives believe that having armed officers --  or teachers -- in schools will make it easier to respond to gun violence, keeping children safer. They also argue that tough disciplinary protocol, like the zero tolerance policies that tend to create extreme racial disparities, can improve school safety.

But if these guidelines are overturned, schools won't have access to the wealth of resources that were previously included. That's unfortunate, as the Department of Education worked extensively to create tools that could connect people with information and organizations for support when changing their disciplinary practices. In addition to mitigating racial disparities, these shifts in thinking about discipline were also designed to help struggling kids stay in school, rather than abandoning them to the legal system.

Schools are using principles like trauma-informed care, restorative justice and positive behavioral interventions and supports to meet students where they are when discipline problems arise. These measures focus on learning why students are acting out and working together to develop a solution that resolves the problem. This approach can help the student deal with underlying issues, while protecting the safety and functionality of the learning environment. Using these tools can generate very real results, and the Department of Education proposal could set districts back in time.

Of course, Betsy DeVos isn't the only one looking to school discipline to resolve the gun problem. Senator Marco Rubio just introduced a bill that would penalize school districts that maintain a policy of not reporting disciplinary actions to law enforcement unless it's strictly necessary. Such districts have taken this approach in order to reduce the risk of negative interactions between students and law enforcement, arguing that they can handle most basic discipline needs on campus, while still leaving crimes to police.

Of course, the real solution to the crisis of U.S. gun violence, including school shootings, doesn't lie with schools and how they make disciplinary decisions. It lies in the ready availability of weapons capable of discharging large numbers of high velocity rounds very quickly -- and a refusal by Congress to take action.

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Categories: News

"Things That Make White People Uncomfortable": Michael Bennett's Essential New Book

Truth Out - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 04:00

Last week, my good friend Michael Bennett, former Seattle Seahawk and current Philadelphia Eagle, released his new book, Things That Make White People Uncomfortable -- the memoir/manifesto that he wrote with my other dear friend Dave Zirin.

I am going to assume my position as a teacher here and officially assign you homework: read this book! Take notes. Report back on it to your community. Then take action. It is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand why so many players today are refusing to just shut up and play and are creating the new national pastime of protest and play. But this book is much more than just an expository essay about the new Black athlete.

This is one of those rare books you read that will change the way you understand yourself and your place in the world. Only a few books have had that kind of impact on me. Books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Uncomfortable has me feeling like a kid again, remembering how those amazing autobiographies turned me upside down and inside out.

These have been the rare books where the authors have fully exposed their souls to the world, and in that vulnerability allowed me to confront my own deepest fears. These have been the books that helped me to see that I'm not alone, that others have suffered from racism, oppression, isolation, feelings of inadequacy, and have turned that pain into a powerful force for good in the world. I too have felt the anxiety that Michael describes that comes from confronting power -- and seeing that it's okay to talk about it publicly was liberating. He writes, "It's harder than they warned you: the anxiety will scratch at your insides like the creature in Alien, except it never bursts out of your chest, it just stays there, scratching."

Uncomfortable, like the great autobiographies of Malcolm and Angela, has helped me understand the meaning of dedication. Michael writes, "The more success you have, the more you hear a voice suggesting sweetly and seductively to rest on those laurels and just skip it or dog it, go half-assed. That voice asks you, 'Why are you working that hard? You got it!' But to be great, you have to continuously put yourself in the mind-set where you don't got it. You have to think about the times you were hungry, you were struggling, you were a kid being pushed around." And Michael takes this attitude both into the gym and around the organizing table: "Whether I die tomorrow or in sixty years, if the only things about me that people talk about are the Pro Bowls and the Super Bowl appearances, I will have failed. I want my legacy to be what I did in the community and the positive changes this work might have created in people's lives."

I can tell you from having worked closely with Michael over the past couple of years, he has walked this talk over and over again. I have been with Michael as he sat with youth listening to their perspectives on the movement for Black lives and their perspectives what needed to change. I have seen him support the Black Lives Matter at School movement. I have seen him speak at the Locker Room Talk forum at my high school where he took on the responsibility of athletes to speak out against sexual harassment, relationship abuse, and violence against women. I have seen him give a young student activist the Black Education Matters award. I have seen him sit down with the family of Charleena Lyles, a pregnant Black mother of four who was killed by Seattle police, and organize a rally and benefit for her family. I was there when Michael brought the Freedom School program to the Seahawks training camp and exchange ideas about the struggle for equitable education.

True, Michael has been one of the most visible leaders in this massive upheaval of athletes around the country who have protested for racial justice during the national anthem. But what you will learn about in this book is that Michael is just as committed to the struggles for women's empowerment, Palestinian rights, LGBTQ rights, and human rights -- and he applies the framework of intersectionality to understand how multiple oppressions can overlap to create deep and complex forms of injustice: "Intersectionality clicked for me when I thought about Charleena Lyles. She was killed because of racism, no doubt, but her life as a Black woman -- not just a Black person -- is critical to understanding her death. Charleena had suffered sexual assault and violence, and she called the police in the first place because she was worried that in abusive former lover was coming back to hurt her."

Uncomfortable will teach you that if you have truth on your mind, you can go ahead and just say it, unfiltered: "Being born Black is a preexisting condition in this society, with a set of stressors that you can't understand without living in our skin. It's not just the fear that you'll be the next James Byrd or Trayvon Martin or Sandra Bland. It's hearing dumb shit in school about America being the land of the free and having to speak up to remind my teacher of slavery and seeing all the faces change expression, from getting red with anger to others rolling their eyes, with looks of relief on the faces of people who had been thinking the same thing. I felt like Kevin in The Wonder Years, if Kevin had been Black and had to face an ass-whupping every day for trying to tell the truth."

Uncomfortable will teach you that we can talk openly about the many forms of trauma we face. Writing in a chapter about the unpaid labor of student athletes and the NCAA racket, Michael writes, "I think PTSD in players also results from a loss of identity. Little by little we conform to what our coach wants, what the program wants, what the academic advisor wants us to study so we stay on the field and bit by bit, chip by chip, we lose the foundation of where we are. We get stuck in a character. Then it's all over, and the PTSD becomes a sports version of postpartum depression."

And this book will teach you that it's okay to laugh out loud as we fight hard for justice: "Part of the mythology of sports is people think it breaks down barriers and makes us more equal. That's miseducation…It's going to be people realizing that we're all human: everyone takes a shit and everybody pisses. Some of us sit, some of us stand up, some of us have colostomy bags, but other than that, we do it exactly the same way."

Finally, Things That Make White People Uncomfortable will teach you that it's okay to ask the biggest questions about how our world is organized. Michael writes about his trip to Haiti with his Haitian teammate Cliff Avril and says, "It reminded me of being young and asking my mother, "Why?" As in, Why does the world even have to be like this? If you don't ask why you'll never be attacked or criticized. No one is going to go after you or your family. But if you don't ask why, nothing, not a damn thing, is ever going to change."

Whether you are a football star, or a teacher, or a student, or locked up, we can all ask the questions that cause discomfort -- and also produce the change that is so desperately needed.

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Categories: News

Auto Alliance Pushed Climate Denial to Get Trump Admin to Abandon Obama Fuel Efficiency Standards

Truth Out - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 04:00

 LanaElcova / Shutterstock)(Photo: LanaElcova / Shutterstock)

The Trump administration officially announced Monday that it will scrap fuel economy and emissions targets for cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States and set new weaker standards, effectively undermining one of the federal government's most effective policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times anticipated late last week, the two agencies responsible for auto standards -- the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- both claimed that their internal reviews have found the Obama-era standards to be too strict, and that the agencies would go back to the drawing board to revise standards for model years 2022-2025. 

The weaker standards, expected to be revealed in coming months and reported to be well below the current targets of 54.5 miles per gallon (or roughly 35 miles per gallon in real-world driving conditions), will be celebrated as a victory for the automakers, which have been lobbying the Trump administration since the day after the presidential election and which used a major trade group to peddle climate science denial in support of the rollback.

"The Obama administration's determination was wrong," EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement. "Obama's EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn't comport with reality, and set the standards too high."

Many argue, however, that weakened standards will hurt the average driver, who will have to pay more for gasoline to fuel the less efficient vehicles. Energy Innovation's peer-reviewed modeling simulator, for instance, shows how a rollback on emissions standards would cause nearly $400 billion in increased consumer costs between now and 2050.

Furthermore, weakening mileage and emissions standards will set up a fight with California, which has a unique authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own emissions standards for vehicles, and state authorities are signaling that they have no intention of chasing the federal government in a race to the bottom. Notably, over recent weeks, Pruitt has been publicly critical of California's authority to set its own standards, leading many to speculate that the EPA might attempt to revoke California's waiver under the Clean Air Act.

"California is not the arbiter of these issues," Pruitt told Bloomberg TV. The state, he said, "shouldn't and can't dictate to the rest of the country what these levels are going to be."

On Monday, a so-called conservative coalition sent a letter to Pruitt and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao applauding the decision, which had yet to be formally announced. Organized by Tom Pyle of the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research, and signed by Michael Needham of Heritage ActionBrent Gardner of Americans for ProsperityMyron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the letter goes so far as to say that "we believe repealing the entire program is appropriate and warranted."

The Auto Alliance Used Climate Denial to Push Its Agenda

Most automakers selling cars in the United States have been actively lobbying President Trump and the respective agencies to rewrite and weaken the rules. This is despite the fact that, in the wake of the financial crisis and $80 billion bailout of Detroit, the car companies helped design these regulations and publicly accepted the mileage and pollution standards.

Through the powerful Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers (or Auto Alliance) trade group, which counts Toyota, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen among its members, the automakers sent a letter to President Trump days after the presidential election, and then another near-identical one to Pruitt after he was confirmed to lead EPA.

In the year since, pressure from the group has increased, and the Alliance has resorted to a disinformation campaign founded in climate science denial and cherry-picked data.

In February, as NHTSA was reviewing the Obama standards, the Alliance sent a report to the agency that presented a number of studies and resources intended to undermine the current standards and present the case for rolling back the targets. The report was written by an industry-connected team from Air Improvement Resources, Inc, along with Joseph D'Aleo, a policy adviser to the Heartland Institute, a fountainhead of climate denial.

Despite its name, Air Improvement Resources is a for-profit consultancy with a long history of combating environmental regulations. Their client tally includes a long list of organizations found in Desmog's Climate Disinformation Database, including the American Petroleum Institute, the American Coal Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the American Enterprise Institute.

The report itself relies heavily on comments from the automakers and on papers that were paid for by the industry or fossil fuel interests. Perhaps the most striking example is the citation of a study by Anthony Cox, Jr. that questions the health impacts of fine particulate air pollution (such as smog), a study that was directly funded by the American Petroleum Institute.

The Alliance's report also promotes outright climate science denial, with an entire section dedicated to questioning climate models. Other sections cherry-pick lines from studies to undermine the scientific consensus linking the burning of fossil fuels with more extreme droughts and floods, hurricanes, ocean acidification, and wildfires.

The Auto Alliance Wants You to Think It's Serious About Selling Cleaner Cars

Meanwhile, last week at the New York International Auto Show, the Auto Alliance, along with the Association of Global Automakers and more than a dozen automakers announced a new marketing campaign to "to increase electric car use throughout the Northeast."

According to the campaign's website: "Drive Change. Drive Electric. represents a unique public-private partnership between auto manufacturers and Northeast states to advance consumer awareness, understanding, consideration, and adoption of electric cars, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and fuel cell electric vehicles. By showcasing to drivers and passengers the convenience, affordability, technology, sustainability, and power performance of electric vehicles, Drive Change. Drive Electric. aims to put more electric cars on the road than ever before."

However, the effort is coming at precisely the same time that the Auto Alliance and its members has been actively lobbying for looser emissions standards, which would lower car companies' incentives for selling more electric vehicles.

As Fred Lambert writes on the popular electric car enthusiast site Electrek:

"They are launching this just as the EPA is about to release its decision over the fuel consumption standard that those same organizations have been pressuring them to lower.

If it does get lower, they wouldn't have to mass produce electric vehicles for a few more years and continue to focus on smaller numbers of EVs [electric vehicles] in CARB [California Air Resources Board] states, like in the Northeast."

California May Save the Auto Industry From Itself

The announcement opens the door for a new weakening of efficiency and pollution standards, but automakers will have to wait months before they know what targets they will have to achieve by 2022. Further complicating matters is California's unique authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own air pollution standards. Publicly, California officials have offered firm resolve in sticking with the existing, stricter standards.

"We are not going to go backward," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the Los Angeles Times. "We are not interested in a race to the bottom … We are prepared to take whatever action, legal or otherwise, we have to to protect our health and our economy."

Twelve other states and the District of Columbia have adopted California's standards, meaning that roughly 40 percent of the light-duty vehicles sold nationally will still have to comply with current standards.

Automakers do not want to have to produce two different types of vehicles within the American market, and have repeatedly argued on behalf of one national standard.

California officials will have plenty of support from the other states, as well as from many business groups and even automobile parts manufacturers. In March, a group of 46 businesses -- including major employers like Kellogg, Levi Strauss, Nike, and Unilever -- sent a letter to Pruitt warning against a rollback of emissions standards.

Meanwhile, vehicle parts manufacturers boast that the Obama standards have created jobs in the auto industry. In March, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association, and the Aluminum Association all announced they are joining forces as the Automotive Technology Leadership Group, with a goal of advocating for continuing current fuel economy standards and reducing emissions.

"Do not slow down the pace on CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards," said James Verrier, president and CEO of Borg Warner, a major auto equipment manufacturer. "We've come a long way as an industry and we need to keep going forward. Don't go backwards and don't slow down."

Meanwhile, in Europe and China -- the world's other two largest auto markets -- carmakers are complying with ever-stricter standards, and any rollback of U.S. regulations would make American companies laggards globally. Chinese officials have even signaled a plan to end all sales of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. "I don't really know if the auto industry wants what this administration might be doing," Harvard law professor Jody Freeman told the New York Times. "It might be like the dog that caught the car."

A lesson could be learned from the last time that the auto industry resisted fuel efficiency improvements. For nearly two decades, the fuel efficiency standards, known as CAFE, held mostly static around 25 miles per gallon. By 2008, when the financial crisis struck, American demand for cars dropped considerably, and demand for gas-guzzling SUVs plummeted even faster. Combined with high gas prices, the 20-plus year run of flat fuel efficiency ended in a massive bailout of Detroit's Big Three automakers as American car companies lost market share to more fuel-efficient German and Japanese cars.

The Auto Alliance's own marketing claims that many electric cars are already cheaper to own than gas-guzzling alternatives. Meanwhile, a whopping 87 percent of American drivers want better fuel economy out of their cars, and 73 percent think the government should raise standards to get it.

Instead, the Trump administration has announced its intention to weaken standards, relying on misinformation provided by the Auto Alliance and its members, which will make it more expensive for Americans to drive and makes the entire auto industry less competitive globally.

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Categories: News

Fire erupts at Trump Tower in New York City; 1 person dead, at least 4 hurt

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 02:33

Fire erupts at Trump Tower in New York City; 1 person dead, at least 4 hurt | 07 April 2018 | At least one person died and four others were injured after a fire broke out in Trump Tower in New York City on Saturday, police and fire officials said. A 67-year-old male who was "unconscious and unresponsive" was removed from the 50th floor by the FDNY, police said. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead...The blaze was described by the FDNY's alert system on Twitter as a 4-alarm fire that erupted on the 50th floor of the high rise on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. They initially had called it a 2-alarm fire.

Categories: News

Japan activates first marines since WW2 to bolster defenses against China

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 02:26

Japan activates first marines since WW2 to bolster defenses against China | 07 April 2018 | Japan on Saturday activated its first marine unit since World War Two trained to counter invaders occupying Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea that Tokyo fears are vulnerable to attack by China. In a ceremony held at a military base near Sasebo on the southwest island of Kyushu, about 1,500 members of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) wearing camouflage lined up outside amid cold, windy weather. The troops conducted a 20-minute mock public exercise recapturing a remote island from invaders.

Categories: News

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