News

Transforming economies to sustainability, solidarity

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 19:38
Link: Columnists Brennan Tierney and Boone Shear: Transforming economies to sustainability, solidarity

The monumental 2017 publication, “Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet,” invites readers to learn new ways to understand ourselves in the face of unprecedented social and ecological turmoil.

As part of this rethinking, scholars marshal research that upends the most fundamental unit of biological and social analysis — the individual. Building from the work of famed University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Lynn Margulis, one essay shows the proliferation and importance of nonhuman cells that comprise human bodies. Another essay proposes that evolution depends in part on relationships between species, and not simply individual fitness. And yet another essay argues that collective behavior might best be understood as an emergent process, rather than as a planned outcome.

These growing scientific insights are profound. They suggest that our very existence depends not on individual success, but on a deepening understanding of and attunement to our interrelationships with others — both human and otherwise.

Just as biological research challenges what we thought we knew about our own survival, unorthodox ideas about economy — about how we make, distribute, and consume stuff — are taking hold in communities across Massachusetts. These projects center cooperation and community, unsettling the long-held axioms of self-interest and competition thought to constitute a healthy economy.

Read the rest at the Daily Hampshire Gazette

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Deadly airborne plague in Madagascar now at ‘crisis’ point

Off Grid Survival - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 18:53

Over the last five days, cases have jumped by 37 percent fueled by a strain that is even more deadly than the Black Death which left 200 MILLION dead across the world. [...]

The post Deadly airborne plague in Madagascar now at ‘crisis’ point appeared first on Off Grid Survival - Wilderness & Urban Survival Skills.

Categories: News

Benjamin Tucker American Mutualist: Mutual Banking Part 3 and Final Conclusion Part 4

Anarchist News - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 18:47
Benjamin Tucker Individualist Anarchist Mutualist

Benjamin Tucker American Mutualist: Mutual Banking Part 3 and Final Conclusion Part 4
By Nicholas Evans

In the previous article Benjamin Tucker Part 2: Brief Introduction to the Freedoms in the Individualist Society, it was noted Tucker’s society would have government (in whatever shape or form), but the government would exist through voluntary taxation and without economic exploitation. Therefore Tucker advocated a society of voluntary taxation of government and with employers that pay their employees the full value of their labor (their natural wage), land owners owning land that only they occupy, non-exploitive landlords that are paid only for the work they do on the land they own, and interest charged at one percent or by Mutual Banks for their customers. The one percent of the mutual bank is charged to cover the cost of overhead and wages at the mutual bank. Regarding Tucker’s overall society James Martin states:

"The abolition of compulsory taxation would mean the abolition of the state as well, Tucker asserted, and the form of society succeeding it would be on the line of a voluntary defensive institution... There were two methods of government...The other was the anarchist method of 'leadership', inducing the individual to the 'goal of an ideal civilization' through persuasion and 'attraction'...Two aims of anarchist activity, the abolition of compulsory taxation and the abolition of legally-protected money and land monopolies, form the main theme of his critical writing..." 1.

In this article is a brief introduction to William Greene’s mutual banking theory which Tucker supported. James Martin states that Greene’s mutual banking “…resulted in one of the few real additions to Warrenite mutualism.” 2.

Greene was involved in Unitarian ministry and Transcendentalism*, was a military officer, and Individualist Mutualist. 3. **
Greene with his Libertarian Mutualism believed a bank had only one reason to exist and that reason is for being a place where borrowers and lenders can come together. 4. He believed because banks did not follow the labor theory of value hence banks were charging much higher rates of interest to the loss of the customers. Greene noted “On the side of the bank there is a small army, well equipped, well officered, and well disciplined; on the side of the community, there is a large undisciplined crowd, without arms, and without leaders.” 5.

Governments have helped the banks charge high interest through legislation. The exchangeable value of a commodity is determined by both its utility (usefulness) as well as its scarcity. However after government legislation regarding banks as gold and silver as the only legal tender allowed “…those who managed to obtain a monopoly of the supply of these metals to similarly control the business of the area using them as the sole legal tender, and thereby secure a premium for their use by all others engaged in commerce.” 6.

Greene believed high interest rates charged from banks kept many people in poverty as they were forced to work for others and be paid less than the full value of their labor because they could not afford the high interest rates to go into business for themselves or create co-operatives . 7.

What is the solution according to Greene?

Greene’s solution was the Mutual Bank.

Any person could become a member of the bank by pledging mortgages to the bank on actual property where he stated bills of exchange amounting to one-half of the total value of the mortgaged property would be issued. No money would be loaned to persons not people not members of the banking company. All members of the bank would enter into a voluntary agreement to accept paper money of the bank in all payments when presented by fellow members. Members could be released from their pledge when their mortgage had been redeemed and a declaration stating perpetual non-redemption in specie (coin money) of the bills of the bank. *** 8.

Greene suggested that 10,000 people sign up before starting the mutual bank. This Greene believed would insure a feeling of security with the mutual bank members because all could inspect the books and therefore observe see on what basis all others were having money issued. In addition, with 10,000 local people as members people would be able to use the mutual money in everyday local life in member stores, hotels, theaters, shops, restaurants ect, ect. 9.

The mutual bank is a producer bank. Its currency was non-interest-bearing. The monetization of commodities other than gold and silver (though Tucker mentioned people could use gold or silver if they wished) would enable a person with only his work skills to easily borrow capital to engage in productive work and thus create capital goods of their own. 10.

Greene’s Mutual Banks were not like the “Wildcat money” because the wildcat money were based on specie that did not exist because they were not backed by any actual existing commodities. Mutual bank money on the other hand, is not redeemable in specie but in actual existing commodities. Mutual money is issued against actual values and is utilized by all who insured it and the mutual money has no effect upon the precious metals than upon any other commodities. 11.

Like Proudhon, Greene encouraged co-operatives and democratically run business. Greene encouraged Associated Workshops, Protective Union Stores, and his Mutual Banks which he called the “…Triple Formula of Mutualism.” 12. This triple formula is similar to Proudhon’s Agro-Industrial Federation. 13. in the belief that the Associated Workshops, Protective Union Stores and the Mutual Banks would protect from companies interested in entering the market with the intent of creating usury (un-worked income). Greene believed the mutual bank was best adapted to the local community level. In times of economic troubles, the mutual money would prove to protect against inflationary or deflationary pressures as the local town cannot fail disastrously because they have real property backed by their money literally in the local community. 14

Like Tucker, Greene believed people should be free to live any way they wished. 15.

He believed Mutual Banking would eventually lead to a free mutualist society:

“Mutualism operates, by its very nature, to render political government, founded on arbitrary force, superfluous; that is, it operates to the decentralization of political power, and to the transformation of the State by substituting self-government instead of government ab extra.” 16.

Benjamin Tucker American Mutualist: Final Conclusion Part 4

As noted in Part 3 Benjamin Tucker advocated for a society with voluntary taxation for government and private businesses would exist with either self-employed individuals, non-exploitive employers who pay their employees the full product of their labor, as well as land-owners who own only the land they live on, non-exploitive land lords**** and interest at low rates to cover only the cost and wages of running a mutual bank. The mutual banks would offer low interest to insure anyone who can work would be able to become self-employed as an alternative option to employers who pay their employees less than the full value of their labor. Given this option employers would be looking for employees and therefore raise the wage to the full product or the natural wage. Tucker followed the Labor Theory of Value and opposed unearned income which is why he is a market socialist or Mutualist. In other words, Tucker wanted voluntary taxation with equality of opportunity on the competitive market.

As stated by James Martin:

"The abolition of compulsory taxation would mean the abolition of the state as well, Tucker asserted, and the form of society succeeding it would be on the line of a voluntary defensive institution... There were two methods of government...The other was the anarchist method of 'leadership', inducing the individual to the 'goal of an ideal civilization' through persuasion and 'attraction'...Two aims of anarchist activity, the abolition of compulsory taxation and the abolition of legally-protected money and land monopolies, form the main theme of his critical writing..." 17. People who do not accept the Individualist Society can move to another society that more fits their preferences and they will have an easier time to move because they will be paid their full value of their labor.

Proudhon, an influence on Tucker and his contract theory (See Tucker’s Instead of a Book) stated in the Epilogue of his General Idea of Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (1923):

“Will you join the compact, and form a part of their society?
Do you promise to respect the honor, the liberty and the property of your brothers?
Do you promise never to appropriate for yourself by violence, nor by fraud, nor by usury, nor by interest, the products or possessions of another?
Do you promise never to lie nor deceive in commerce, or in any part of your transactions?
You are free to accept or refuse.”

The society by contact through voluntary taxation and non-exploitive wage labor on a free market with equality of opportunity was Tucker’s goal.

How can the Individualist society of Tucker be created?

Mutual banking may no longer be able to have the intended impact it once could have potentially had. Tucker later stated in his 1926 post script:

“…Today the way is not so clear. The four monopolies, unhindered, have made possible the modern development of the trust, and the trust is now a monster which I fear, even the freest banking, could it be instituted, would be unable to destroy. ... If this be true, then monopoly, which can be controlled permanently only for economic forces, has passed for the moment beyond their reach, and must be grappled with for a time solely by forces political or revolutionary. Until measures of forcible confiscation, through the State or in defiance of it, shall have abolished the concentrations that monopoly has created, the economic solution proposed by Anarchism and outlined in the forgoing pages – and there is no other solution... [It] will remain a thing to be taught to the rising generation, that conditions may be favorable to its application after the great leveling. But education is a slow process, and may not come too quickly. Anarchists who endeavor to hasten it by joining in the propaganda of State Socialism or revolution make a sad mistake indeed. They help to so force the march of events that the people will not have time to find out, by the study of their experience, that their troubles have been due to the rejection of competition...” 18.

So gradual peaceful change through education is the main key to creating an Individualist Mutualist society according to Tucker.

While peaceful gradual education is key, creating Individualist mutual banks and Individualist run businesses can still be helpful. Although we are living in a system without equality of opportunity on the market, another small way to help to create the Individualist Libertarian***** society is by creating mutual banks or by applying the Individualist way of operating a business (any type of business) by having everyone in the company (both employers and employees) vote on wages of both the wages of the employees and the wages of the employers. The jobs within the company that are the most stressful mentally or physically would be paid the most. This is the Labor Theory of Value or the 'Cost Principle' (which includes the mental and physical stress) of the theory of Josiah Warren. The only difference between the individualist model with employers and co-ops (ie Proudhon) is in the Individualist anarchist model the employers are not voted in or out like in the model of Proudhon. In either model there is no surplus value because the wage is decided by how difficult the work is and only people who work (add value) are paid and the employees being the majority in the company decide their wages themselves through voting (rather than letting the market do it with equality of opportunity on the market if they were in an individualist anarchist market which we are not at this time of 2017) are by both the employer and employees voting on wages and by both actually doing their work they are being paid for; they have equality of opportunity to decide their whole wages depending on the physical and mental intensity and thus receive their entire product. Also encouraging the Individualist Anarchist attitudes of freedom, tolerance, and respect for all others views are what someone can do to help create an Individualist society based on Tucker, Warren, and Andrews views.

*This author finds the Christian and Transcendentalism beliefs of Greene as well as the methods of the Sedona Method more helpful over Tucker’s egoism. While most interested in the Individualist Libertarians, this author also likes all forms of libertarianism (ie. Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin)

**Lysander Spooner previously stated the free money decentralist views in his Constitutional /law Relative to Credit, Currency and Banking in 1843. Spooner is a Libertarian Mutualist because although he supported absentee landlords (see: Spooner. The Law of Intellectual Property. 1855. “The principle of property is directly the reverse of this. The principle of property is, that the owner of a thing has absolute dominion over it, whether he have it in actual possession or not, and whether he himself wish to use it or not; that no one has a right to take possession of it, or use it, without his consent; and that he has a perfect right to withhold both the possession and use of it from others, from no other motive than to induce them, or make it necessary for them, to buy it, or rent it, and pay him an equivalent for it, or for its use,…” From section XI Objection Eleventh) he opposed economic exploitation in the workplace and unlike Tucker who preferred employers who pay their employees their full value or natural wage on the market, Spooner preferred co-operative businesses. It is Spooner’s opposition to economic exploitation as the reason why Spooner along with Greene were invited to the International Workingman’s Association. (See: Woodcock, George. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. Pg. 460. Available at: https://libcom.org/files/Woodcock,%20George%20-%20Anarchism,%20A%20Histo...) Economic exploitation in the workplace is when an employer pays their employees a wage less than the full value of their labor on the competitive market. Capitalism is a market system that does not factor the labor into the cost of the product. Economic exploitation follows the labor theory of value theory which factors labor (mental and physical) into the price of a product. Spooner, Tucker, Greene and the other Individualists followed the Labor Theory of Value which is why they are market socialists. (see: Capital Volume 1 by Marx) The full price of a product is the natural wage which is the average going rate for a job on the market that includes the physical and mental labor into the price of the wage or product. Economic exploitation happens when employees are paid less than the going rate on the market. However the Labor Theory of Value can only work in large scale if there is equal opportunity on the market by means of Mutual Banks or if everyone owned a house because people would settle for lower wages simply to survive on a market without equality of opportunity and hence not receive their natural wage.

***In today’s society and especially in the future it may be more efficient to use cashless ways of payment through things like debit cards to represent different types of money from different banks (ie. Government backed money, mutual money ect. ect.).

****Tucker agreed with Josiah Warren on equitable non-exploitive landlord rent though Tucker did not call non-exploitive rent 'rent' but sale. Warren states “The equitable rent of either would be the wear, insurance, ect., and the labor of making contracts and receiving the rents, all of which are different items of cost.” Warren, Josiah. Equitable Commerce. ULAN Press. USA 2017. Pp 46. By ‘cost’ Warren means the physical and mental labor along with the material costs in addition to the average going rate on the market are all factored into price. Tucker states that he considers the term rent to mean usury or unearned income by a landlord. However if a landlord worked on their own land, then the tenant pays the landlord (a money amount covering the physical and mental labor as well as material costs according to the work done by the landlord) due to the damage and wear the tenant does on the land owned by the landlord that was worked on by the landlord then that is non-exploitive and thus not rent but sale. Tucker states: "If Edgeworth performs preparatory labor on a cotton field, the result of which would remain intact if the field lay idle, and that result is damaged by a tenant, the tenant ought to pay him for it on the basis of reward defined above...the transaction, nevertheless, is in the nature of a sale, and not a payment for a loan. Every sale is an exchange of labor, and the tenant simply pays money representing his own labor for the result of Edgeworth's labor which he (the tenant) has destroyed in appropriating it to his own use. If the tenant does not damage the result of Edgeworth's preparatory labor, then,.... this money, paid over and above all damage, if it does not bring equivalent ownership, is payment for use, usury, and in my terminology, rent... The difference between us is just this. Edgeworth says that from tenant to landlord there is payment for damage, and this is just rent; and there is payment for use, and this is unjust rent. I say there is payment for damage, and this is indemnification or sale, and is just; and there is payment for use, and that is rent, and is unjust." Tucker, Benjamin. Instead of A Book. Forgotten Books. 2012. Pg 303.

***** With the exception of the Individualists Libertarians like Tucker, Warren, and Andrews the vast majority of Libertarians want a society of democratically run businesses or workplaces. Please see works by Greene, Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin. Tucker and the other individualists are still libertarians due to their belief in the labor theory of value which is a preference for a society free from economic exploitation. Most all libertarians want a society free of the state and democratic control of the workplace with the exception of Tucker and other individualists who want voluntary taxation and non-exploitive wage labor. Libertarianism that I am referring too is the original term dating back to the 1800’s. Please see Iain Mackay’s excellent AFAQ Blog. 150 Years of Libertarian. Anarchist Writers: AFAQ’s Blog (12/11/2008) Retrieved Nov 2, 2017 from: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/150-years-of-libertarian The AFAQ has been regarded as “…very comprehensive…” by Graham, Paul; Hoffman, John. Introduction to Political Ideologies London: Pearson/Longman. (2006) pp 109

Notes:
1. James J. Martin. Men Against the State. Ralph Myles Publisher Inc., Colorado Springs. 1970. Pg.216-218
2. Ibid. 126
3. Ibid.126
4. Ibid. 128
5. Ibid. 128
6. Ibid. 129
7. Please see: Mutual Banking 1850 Edition by William Greene. (Although Greene opposed wage he did believe it was necessary for landless bank members to have non-exploitive wage labor as a transition period until they can get enough money to buy land of their own to pledge to the mutual banks in order to become self-employed or join co-operatives)
8. James J. Martin. Men Against the State. Ralph Myles Publisher Inc., Colorado Springs. 1970. Pg. 131
9. Ibid. 131
10. Ibid. 132
11. Ibid. 132
12. Ibid. 135
13. Proudhon, Pierre Joseph. Translated by Richard Vernon. The Principle of Federation. University of Toronto Press. Canada. 1979.
14. James J. Martin. Men Against the State. Ralph Myles Publisher Inc., Colorado Springs. 1970. Pg. 135
15. Ibid. 135
16. Ibid. 133
17. Ibid. 216-218
18. Please see the post script at: https://archive.org/details/statesocialisman00tuck

Tags: Benjamin TuckerIndividualist AnarchistFree Market MutualismmutualismBenjamin Tucker Free Market Libertarian Socialistcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Congress Works with Big Oil on Letter Suggesting Anti-Pipeline Activists Face Terrorism Charges

deSmog - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 18:17
Five anti-tar sands activists who shut down tar sands pipelines into the U.S.

On October 23, 84 Congressional representatives made a splash when they published a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking if those engaged in activism disrupting or damaging pipeline operations should face criminal prosecution as an act of terrorism under the USA PATRIOT ACT. 

Spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) and co-signed by dozens of other, primarily Republican, representatives, the letter pays homage to the First Amendment, while also noting that “violence toward individuals and destruction of property are both illegal and potentially fatal.” The letter, covered by several media outlets, was championed by the industry lobbying and trade association, the American Petroleum Institute (API), which said it “welcomed” the letter.

But according to a DeSmog review, API and other industry groups were a key part of bolstering the letter itself. API, along with the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), is listed as among the “supporting groups” on the website DearColleague.us, which tracks congressional letters and their backers.

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12260'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: U.S. Rep. Ken BuckHunton & WilliamsU.S. Rep. Gene GreenDakota AccessClimate Disobedience CenterStanding RockJeff SessionsWestern Energy AllianceDearColleagues.usAmerican Petroleum InstituteAssociation of Oil Pipe LinesAPIAOPLInterstate Natural Gas Association of AmericaINGAA
Categories: News

The Brilliant on exclusion

Anarchist News - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 16:40

From The Brilliant

We present to you a series of four conversations on anarchist exclusion and how the most complex and compelling anarchists (IMO) are also ones who have been excluded from anarchist social cliques. Here is an except from my workshop on this topic from the 2017 BASTARD conference.

This is a basic conversation that, if successful, will question a basic anarchist principle and point a way torward thinking about how to form pods of human activity in a possible, viable future. We will discuss what is social, society, and at what numerical breaks are different kinds of organizations possible and impossible. Mostly we’d like to talk about exclusion as a consequence of how this society is ordered but also how utopia planning is largely a reactionary and conservative process. We are against it.

Exclusion I - Episode 55 a discussion with Ben. Primarily about Occupy.
Exclusion II - Episode 56 a discussion with Soren and Dominique. This episode is primarily about the Oakland group house scene.
Exclusion III - Episode 57 a discussion with Mitchell Halberstadt a local anarchist pariah. This is largely a conversation about aging gay and anarchist in NYC and the Bay
Exclusion IV - Episode 58 a discussion with Andy Robinson. This is a theoretical conversation about the origins of exclusion and questions about what it means to be an anarchist, all the way down.

The third part of this project (workshop and discussions being part one and two) is building some sort of textual engagement with this issue. The first part of this will be a version of my workshop in the upcoming BASTARD Chronicles but my question to you would be what would be a useful way to expand this conversation. How do the excluded organize? Insofar as some anarchists believe that our project is to free the human race, what does that look like when we largely experience ourselves to be unfree even amongst our own? What should we say about anarchists that exclude?

Tags: The BrilliantAragorn!exclusionsocietycategory: Projects
Categories: News

[Porto Alegre, Bra$il] “When anarchy disturbs” Library Kaos statement about the prosecution against anarchists

Anarchist News - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:20

November 2, 2017 | by actforfreedom

via A_N_A
translated by tormentasdefogo

There are many things to say, but we will start with the most urgent. In the 25 of October began an anti-anarchist persecution against FAG [Gaucho Anarchist Federation] Parhesia institute, Pandorga squat and some individuals who had their spaces and houses raided by cops. If not all, probably a good part of the anarchist diversity was reached and several of them spoke firmly from their agreement against repression. And this is a fresh air that strengthens every one who feels sedition.

It is evident that the aim of the agents of repression also points against us, against the publications we have made or in which we participate. And that is what we are going to say. “The chronology of the Anarchic Confrontation”, the one that collects information from 2000 to 2015, and the one that collects the anarchic trigger of 2016, both are the books that are being exhibited as “evidence” of vandalism, attacks, and criminal acts. Among the many ways anarchism has to search for freedom, these books speak of anarchic informality as an option according to the current domination’s face. Further, we clarify that these books speak of actions but not only anarchists ones. The focus of the books is the diffusion of anarchic actions. To be more precise, it spread actions in which we feel the aroma of anarchy. And between anarchism and anarchy there are differences that may be delicate but which are important.

The anarchic instinct is that anti-dominating impulse that can be present in any individuality or collectivity, beyond the ideological belongings and political militancy. That is why in the chronologies we include conflicts of non-Western populations, street conflict within larger protests and diverse motivations, actions against the State and Capital, and more. Far from going by the theory, we clarify this since the persecution against the anarchists does not consider these differences in order to find a scapegoat for multiple events that bothered the cops and the powerful of always. It is surprising that the police, deputy Jardim, and the media, show as the great news some facts that were already headlines at the time and have already been searched by cops, just because all these facts are condensed in our publications. None of the books is a claim. They are books of an anarchic memory, with actions and conflicts long before the existence of the Kaos Library, which will surely continue beyond us. The publication shows with joy and yes, with head held high, the existence of an anarchic confrontation that respond to the domination, the devastation of the earth and the attack against all forms of freedom, but it does not claim responsibility of these facts that can be collected, as we have done from various internet pages and local newspapers. And if we have made these publications aware of the risk they presented, it is because insubmission deserves to be defended, howled, celebrated and shouted by all possible means. We will never believe or respect the obedience they intend to impose, the submission and the fear they want to inoculate in people from the moment they are born.

Therefore, the actions printed in the chronologies are attacks against the materiality of domination. That is against buildings, cars, machines, roads, windows. Stuff. Objects. Symbols. Cops in the territory controlled by the Brazilian state are internationally famous for being a murderous police force. The so-called “pacification operations” are massacres, authentic massacres, such as Candelária and Carandiru, as well as the murder of Eltom Brum from behind his back that even had a police crowd receiving the murderer. And are they the ones who talk about terror, about evil gangs, about attempted murder? They show a sling and ecological bricks as weapons while they’re holding guns. They speak of terrorism and evil gangs while preparing the next invasion against a village or favela, where the dead will not even be mentioned by the media. That insignificant they are to them. We would like to believe that everyone feels insulted by the evidence of the Garden Delegate. In a context where weapons are commonplace, ecological bricks presented as explosives are an insult to anyone. However, we do not forget when Pinho Sol [famous deodorizer label] was considered a weapon and used “evidence” against Rafael Braga* whom they held behind bars until he got tuberculosis, that is, until they felt they had done everything to kill him.

The repression against anarchists show two things. First, to present “terrorists” on screen serves as a TV show to turn the spotlight away from issues such as corruption, political-police discredit and slow genocide throughout economic reforms. That they now try to solve the facts of 2013* and chase a book and literature, clearly shows a spectacular attempt to hide the growing attack on the population, to depoliticize through threats and spread fear even to read (evidently democratic practices). The second thing that presents an anti-anarchist persecution is that anarchy disturbs. When we speak of anarchy that disturbs, we are clearly not talking about well behaved boys and girls acting within the limits imposed by power, we do not speak of people who have laws in their bodies and hearts drawing their limits of action. When we speak of anarchy that disturbs, we speak of such a strong insubordination of people and groups that have been able to interrupt the normality of the power square, to paralyze the city, to break the symbols of militarization in Haiti**, to burn the vehicles that seize, and they kill dragging like horses of the inquisition (Claudia we do not forget your death).

The Kaos Library books spread this anarchy. The one that disturbs. The one that answers the clash of agribusiness, colonization civilization, militarization, ecocide, prison society… In simpler words, while domination tries to destroy the planet and all that they find undesirable, we spread what attacks the domination.

And when anarchy bothers, the reaction of the powerful threatens and wants to sniff the fear. The anarchic response to this persecution will remain in our hearts and actions. How we face this crossroads will mark the moment of our passage through the path of rebellious life.
Strength and solidarity with those prosecuted by “Operation Érebo”

Kaos Anarchic Library
October 2017

Translation notes:

* Rafael Braga was arrested during 2013 protests. At the time, he was homeless and was simply removed from his place while cops repressed the demo.
** 2013 is remembered as a year of street uprising against transportation fairs in great part of the territory under domain of the bra$ilian state. As in other territories in the world, there were a lot of insurgent protests mostly self organized.
*** Bra$ilian army is responsible for the militarization of Haiti.

Tags: brazilPorto AlegroRepressionKaoscategory: Essays
Categories: News

Minority Communities Suffer From Storms as GOP and Trump Administration Promote Oil and Gas

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:40
 Julie Dermansky)Pat Harris in her apartment in the Prince Hall complex in Port Arthur, Texas. (Photo: Julie Dermansky) In times of great injustice, independent media is crucial to fighting back against misinformation. Support grassroots journalism: Make a donation to Truthout.

While victims in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still reeling from the devastation of three hurricanes worsened by a warming climate, the Trump administration and GOP senators in the Gulf continued to push fossil fuel extraction.

On October 18, two senators who reject the science of climate change, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), teamed up to introduce a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for exporting small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG). And on October 24, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed the largest ever sale of oil and gas leases in the United States. The plan would offer nearly 77 million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico for auction to the fossil fuel industry.

 

 Julie Dermansky)Prince Hall Village Apartments across from Valero’s Port Arthur refinery on October 13, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

 

 Julie Dermansky)FEMA interviewing residents at Prince Hall Village Apartments on September 20, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

Rubio and Cassidy now both acknowledge that the climate has changed, but don't think mankind plays a major role in the stronger and more frequent storms, droughts, heat waves, and floods documented by researchers. Both have touted the expansion of the natural gas industry as good for the climate, citing the fact that gas burns cleaner than coal. But they ignore scientific evidence showing that when accounting for the production of natural gas, from extraction to delivery, the fuel could be worse for the climate than burning coal.

Their proposed legislation, if passed, would likely lead to an expansion of the fracking industry to meet the needs of the global market, as DeSmog's Steve Horn has reported recently. In his article, Horn explained the misnomer of "small-scale LNG," writing that "small-scale LNG does not refer necessarily to the actual amount of LNG which will be exported from the site, but rather the size of the tankers carrying the natural gas."

The new bill and lease sale are two of the many actions by Republican politicians and the Trump administration which show a willful indifference to climate change's impact on America, as laid out in the Third National Climate Assessment in 2014. (The Fourth Assessment is slated to be completed by late 2018.)

That assessment confirmed that climate change is affecting people and the economy in every region in the United States. The report also focused on how minority and low-income communities are especially vulnerable to the forces of a changing climate.

While Senators Cassidy and Rubio are touting a bill that flies in the face of mitigating climate change, some their own constituents are victims of extreme weather made even more intense and frequent because of rising temperatures.

Those who suffered significant damage to or loss of their homes may be entitled to help from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), but many of those I met in Port Arthur, Texas, had yet to meet with a representative when I visited on October 13.

 Julie Dermansky)Angela Andgelle pointing out the mold growing in her apartment in the Prince Hall housing complex in Port Arthur Texas, October 13, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

 

 

 Julie Dermansky)Mold in Angela Andgelle’s ground floor apartment in the Prince Hall housing complex in Port Arthur Texas, October 13, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

There, I met with residents in the Prince Hall Village Apartments, a low-income housing complex located near the Valero and Motiva refineries. Most Port Arthur residents in the Prince Hall complex needed to be rescued from Hurricane Harvey's rising waters by boat or helicopter during the flash flooding that followed the region's 28 inches of rain on August 29.

 Julie Dermansky)Lionel Junior in his apartment in the Prince Hall complex in Port Arthur, Texas. He is doing the best he can to keep the mold off the walls but said it is a losing battle. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

 

 

 Julie Dermansky)Cell phone photo of a snake that Lionel Junior removed from his apartment in the Prince Hall complex in Port Arthur, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

Lionel Junior, who lives in one of the ground floor units -- all of which flooded -- showed me a photo of a snake he found in his apartment. Though the complex's management removed the sections of drywall that were underwater, it didn't treat the apartments for mold, Junior told me, a concern echoed by the other Prince Hall residents I visited, many of whom showed me visible mold.

 

 Julie Dermansky)Jo Woodson in his apartment in the Prince Hall housing complex in Port Arthur Texas, October 13, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

 Julie Dermansky)Mold in Jo Woodson’s ground floor apartment in the Prince Hall housing complex in Port Arthur Texas, October 13, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

Jo Woodson complained of an invasion of pests that included roaches and rats. I rescued a frog under a kitchen sink. The smell of mold in his apartment was overwhelming. There were areas of drywall which management did not remove, and his flood-damaged furniture remained in place.

Though he plans to get rid of the moldy furniture, like many of the others I spoke to, he worried that if he removed the storm-damaged contents of his apartment, he would not be able to prove to FEMA what he had lost.

 

 Julie Dermansky)Pat Harris with her father, who moved in with her after Hurricane Harvey on September 20, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

 Julie Dermansky)Pat Harris’s grandchildren, Jerianna, 6, and Jonathan, 2, in her apartment in the Prince Hall housing complex in Port Arthur, Texas, on September 20, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)
Pat Harris is another resident of the Prince Hall complex. Her father moved in with her after his home was flooded even worse than hers, but she worries about his health and the health of her grandchildren. Still, she told me there is nothing she can do; she has nowhere else to go. Although Harris has faith the management will fix her apartment soon, she doesn't think it is right that she and others in the complex are required to pay full rent when living in substandard conditions.

 Julie Dermansky)Percy Blacke in front of Hurricane Harvey debris he removed from his house in Port Arthur, Texas, across from the Prince Hall Village Apartments on September 20, 2017. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

"People are going to die from cancer and have mold for the chaser," Percy Blacke, who lives across the street from the complex, told me. He gutted his home himself. Blacke pointed out that his community is already dealing with harmful emissions from Port Arthur's nearby petrochemical refineries on a daily basis. Topping it off with excessive mold, he fears, could kill some of the elderly who live there.

He isn't against industry, Black says, but he's certain the refineries could be operated without polluting the air as much as they do. Because the plants are located next to an African American community, no one is doing anything to protect them, he says. "Race plays a role in the bad air we breathe, and the slow pace of getting people back on their feet," Blacke told me. "You won't see too many Red Cross vehicles in this part of town giving stuff out."

As Horn recently pointed out, the billionaire Koch brothers and others connected to the fossil fuel industry are key contributors to Cassidy and Rubio.

Not only are these two senators ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus and the cries of people devastated by even more extreme weather, they are also ignoring the teachings of the religious leader Pope Francis. "You can see the effects of climate change with your own eyes, and scientists tell us clearly the way forward," Pope Francis said when commenting on Harvey's aftermath, stressing that leaders have a "moral responsibility" to act.

The Pope continues to rebuke the United States for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, praising the international agreement as a means to mitigate the destructive effects of global warming. But the GOP, a party that frequently boasts of its Christian values, doesn't seem to hear.

All photos by Julie Dermansky.

Categories: News

Recapitulating Alterity,: Hellas as subaltern crossroads

Anarchist News - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:08
a.bradley

reproduced from extinction.global

[PDF] An iterative process of territorial conquest, political and cultural exchange engenders a singular phenomenon wherein the Greek national consciousness and political economy remains in perpetual polar flux: Greece, Urheimat of Eurocentricity–aptly lionized type specimen of democracy (isomorphic with its self-proclaimed [post]modern heir liberal nation-states in the hierarchization of participation and access along a gendered and ethnocentric stratigraphy), now faces again the predicament of those three alternatives to political subjugation by external empire(s) presented by Lord Byron in his letters from Missolonghi of 1824.

To wit:
[Lord Byron] says he must frankly confess, that unless order and union are consolidated, all hopes of a loan, and of any succour which Greece might expect from foreigners, will be suspended and checked; and what is more, the great Powers of Europe, none of which was an enemy to Greece, and seemed inclined to favour the establishment of an independent power in Greece, will be persuaded that the Greeks are unfit of govern themselves, and will take some measures to put an end to your disorders, which will destroy at once all your hopes. “Allow me to add,” he says, “once and for all, I desire the welfare of Greece, and nothing else. I will do my utmost to secure it, but I will never consent that the public or individuals in England shall be deceived with respect to the real state of Greece.”

[…] “Greece now has three ways to choose–to re-conquer its liberty; to become a dependent on the sovereigns of Europe; or to be again a Turkish province. There is no alternative between these three; but civil war seems to lead only to the two last. If you envy the fate of Walachia or the Crimea, you may have it tomorrow [emphasis added]; if that of Italy, the day after to-morrow; but if Greece will become free and independent, she must decide now or it will be too late.”

The contemporary Greek scenario, now seven years into crushing austerity imposed by external powers in Brussels (read: Frankfurt [ECB], Berlin [Wolfgang Schäuble {Finance Minister, Germany (CDU)}], Washington [IMF]) chillingly recapitulates those prior interactions characteristic of relations of late Hellenic civilization with neighboring/transecting ethnocultural planes, wherein the Greek is always already necessarily “other”/marked/subaltern: neither Eastern nor Western, neither Asian nor European, neither white nor black, Hellas ever always interstitially iterates its vexing ethno-ontological amorphism.

The Ottoman Empire laid claim largely to former provinces of once vast preceding Hellenic, Persian and Arab civilizations, integrating pre-existing administrative apparatuses where appropriate, including whole sections of formerly Byzantine territory occupied and predominated by Hellenic/-ized peoples. Against such a backdrop, insurgency and irredentism can only be described as de rigeur, especially as marks the intense ethnopolitical rivalry which has long broadly characterized the often-fraught historical relationships between peoples identified as, respectively, Hellenic or Turkic. This phenomenon can only have intensified subsequent to later superimposition of an intra-Abrahamic sectarian rivalry upon the already existing rhythm of intermittent, iterative (territorial/ecological) conflict.

Contemporary, neoliberal, post-Hartz IV grand coalition Germany epitomizes Max Weber’s Protestant work ethic, and this frugal, centrist, productionist ideology undergirds the European Union terms of Greek debt settlement through social austerity implementation. Once again, a subjugate Greece must hop to at the beck and call of a foreign power whose will supersedes the desires and ambitions of Greek people for their autonomy and themselves. What once took the form of early resistance to Ottoman empire quickly escalated to the anarchic conflagrations that have today driven the state’s emissaries from their police station in Exarchia as insurrectionists militate against borders, technoscientific ecocide and the globalized cisheteropatriarchal capitalism it equips. The German condescension directed toward the Southern “other” euphemistically extends its embrace around the Greek heart through the dry technocratic punishment of bureaucratic language, the simulacra of diplomacy and the heretical pretending to that exhausted European stereotype, “solidarity” bereft of any empathy for the lived experience of that “other” to whom the North, especially Germany, politically condescends. Galpin observes that, with respect to post-2009 discourses in Europe, “reference to ‘foreign’ debts places Greece and other debtor countries as external and therefore not a legitimate recipient of a German guarantee or German money.” Further, Galpin finds “that Germany’s Nazi past [has] in fact provided a constitutive ‘Other’ for European identity construction with the result that Germany linked its national identity closely to Europe, and its national policy interests consistently with European ones in order to deal with its past.” Given such an existential investment in the European ideal as Germany itself since 1955 has helped to construct it, little is surprising about the German overreaction to any threat to the European project, and, given Germany’s status as the world’s third-largest exporter, its common currency in particular.

Lord Byron extricated himself from troublesome affairs in England only to locate himself in the midst of the tumult which through a meandering and violent history inevitably gave rise to the extant Greek state. On observing the tensions along which the impulses of conflict resonated, Byron entered the discursive fray in the sympathy of the Greek nation as it sought its severance from Ottoman rule, writing the passages above from Cephalonia on the 30th of November, 1823, published along with other pertinent doings and sayings of Byron in Telegrafo Greco, an Italian language weekly of the period published from Missolonghi, where Byron had taken up residence.

Byron’s missive identifies the predicament then faced by Greeks which remains clear today: those scant resources which might be obtained to purchase the future of the nation (whose growth, from its foundation upon ecocidally erosive agropastoral land use, has always been organically limited,) rested in the hands of cultures Eastern (Turkish) and Western (Germanic, Francophone) which viewed the Greeks largely as inferior relics, typically tolerated solely as political means to various connivances of ends. Charlotte Galpin identifies the homologous postmodern problematic, which during the Greek sovereign debt crisis of 2009-10:

engendered a (re)definition in the public sphere of how Europe and European solidarity are understood, of what “being a good European” should mean. The “good European” complies with the rules and ordoliberal values of the community and often results in the exclusion of Greece from an imagined “Northern” European community.

An implicit identification of fiduciary responsibility with frugality and moral rectitude underlies the Northern attitude to which Galpin refers, emanating from Weber’s aforementioned Protestant ethos, which not only informed the attitudes of Northern governments and populations but also, given their greater numerical weight in both GDP and population relative to Southern EU member states, informed the development of the treaty-based requirements to which ECB member states generally and Eurozone members in particular are subject. Similarly, in Byron’s day a northerly Protestant concern for the plight of the Greek was lensed by the prejudicial interpretations of the variant Mediterranean attitude toward resources and capital which very likely reflects the transience of any resources accumulated at all in such a marginal ecology of scarcity.

The marginality of Greece and Mediterranean neighbors, both ecological and economic, participates in the ongoing refugee crisis of the EU which is ever in dialog with the German response to Greek sovereign debt. A quid pro quo is implied in the German assumption of the mantle of responsibility for the vast majority of incoming refugees from 2015 forward, advocating on behalf of Greece and Italy in European debates concerning evolving political responses. Once again, Greece embodies a cosmopolitan subaltern crossroads where the concerns of disparate and often distant social planes intersect chaotically in the froth and ferment of semiotics which bore Western origins from the residues of Sanskrit and Semitic upon the sloping and subsident soils under the southern European sun. Indeed, it may even be suggested that the refugee crisis of Syria in particular itself arose out of the ecological degradation wrought upon the region by preceding Hellenic civilizations and in particular the legacy of the Byzantine hegemony now proceeds upon the scorched lands of pale sands. As unarmed German bombers relocate from a once-friendly Turkey to Jordan to further bear witness to the scenes of human struggle below, relaying positions to the pilots of allied combatant nations, Russian fighters strike militant and civilian indiscriminately as Putin slowly secures that long held aspiration of greater Russian access to the Mediterranean, particularly the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, undergoing construction under the supervision of the same Chancellor who oversaw the implementation of German austerity years prior to the crisis under the reforms of Hartz IV (named for a since-disgraced technocrat), Gerhard Schröder himself. Lord Byron’s words apply as readily to the situation of today as to that of his own time, particularly his injunction to beware the fate of Crimea, which has once again played host to inter/intraethnic (whether Russians and Ukrainians comprise a single ethnicity depends upon who you ask) violence in the service of irredentist and imperial ambitions. As Turkish accession to the EU appears permanently foreclosed and Europeans everywhere reflect upon solidarity and identity, Galpin’s meditations bear consideration:

The Eurozone crisis is presumed to have exacerbated this shift away from the European interest. The assumption in the more recent normalization literature is that discourses more avidly promoting Germany’s economic interests and national identity were strengthened and its European vision weakened particularly during the Greek bailout negotiations. Germany’s reluctance to contribute significant sums of money in order to protect the Euro has been interpreted as revealing an absence of European solidarity.

Rule by fiat (currency) has literally usurped solidarity in the European project, led by the tendentiousness of none “Other” than Germany, which seeks with astounding lack of reflexivity to once again impose its rule upon Greece from afar, echoing the long ago letters of a poet lost to the world too soon.

Tags: Ecocideextinctionausteritysolidarityanarchyanti-civEUIMFGreeceExarchiaathensBerlinbrusselsWashingtonfrankfurtTisprasSyrizaCDUgrand coalitionSchäubleRacismcategory: International
Categories: News

Trump Kills CFPB Arbitration Rule: The Little Guy Loses Again

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 12:57

President Trump signed a congressional resolution Wednesday that allows financial institutions to block customers from filing class-action lawsuits, by revoking a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that would have helped us fight banks or credit card companies or mortgage lenders and others if they rip us off. This may open the door to more companies finding ways to block customers from suing in other non-financial services. 

 Gage Skidmore)Donald Trump speaks at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 24, 2017. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)   If you're a fan of real journalism, now's the time to strengthen Truthout's mission. Help us keep publishing stories that expose government and corporate wrongdoing: Make a donation right now!

President Trump signed a congressional resolution Wednesday that allows financial institutions to block customers (that's us) from filing class-action lawsuits. In doing so, he grabbed back a tool we were given in July by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have helped us fight banks or credit card companies or mortgage lenders and others if they rip us off.

The rule, which was supposed to go into effect this spring, would have banned something called a "mandatory arbitration clause" that prevents people from joining together in a class-action lawsuit. Last week the Senate was divided on whether to overturn the rule. Vice President Pence broke the tie 51-50.

To see more stories like this, visit Moyers & Company at Truthout.

When you sign up for a credit card, a checking account, a loan or other financial services from a bank, buried deep in the fine print of nearly every contract is language that requires customers to use arbitration if you have a beef. That puts you up against a team of corporate lawyers, alone. It doesn't matter if you learn that there is a pattern of shady practices hurting millions of other customers, you cannot band together to have your day in court. And however you settle your case, the results of arbitration cases are usually sealed. So the rest of us will not be warned to steer clear.

The Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) was launched in 2010, as part of the Dodd-Frank financial law, to find ways to better protect consumers from dishonest and fraudulent bankers, traders and executives like the ones that misled consumers about the toxic mortgage products they peddled as they paved the way to the global banking crisis. Or like the Wells Fargo employees who opened millions of deposit and credit-card accounts without customers' permission.

The business lobby fought hard to roll back the rule.

When the CFPB was created, it was explicitly charged with studying the use of mandatory arbitration clauses and after five years, numerous hearings, thousands of public comments and a 700-page report determining that class actions are a valuable tool to safeguard consumers.

But the business lobby fought hard to roll back the rule, arguing that arbitration is faster and less expensive, and would prevent nuisance lawsuits that serve to benefit attorneys. David Lazarus a columnist for the Los Angeles Times explains how that argument is twisted:

What's particularly repulsive here is the shamelessness with which conservatives framed the debate -- pretending they were saving consumers from rapacious trial lawyers rather than doing the bidding of deep-pocketed corporate backers.

They also repeatedly painted the CFPB as a "rogue agency" that was unaccountable to the American people.

The reality is that the only ones going rogue were Republican members of Congress.

The head of the Senate Banking Committee, Mike Crapo (R-ID) turned to a little known legislative tool called the 1996 Congressional Review Act. A disapproval resolution gives legislators a limited window to block a new regulation before it goes into effect. And once it is blocked, the CFPB can't take it up again. This is a "significant victory for Wall Street," reports The Washington Post:

If the CFPB's rules had gone into effect, companies like Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Equifax would have been exposed to billions of dollars in lawsuits for future bad behavior. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates the US banking customers paid $14 billion in overdraft fees last year, and the industry has gotten in trouble in the past for shady tactics like transaction reordering, where a bank would reorder a day's debits and withdrawals to extract the most overdraft fee income from its customers that day.

The CFPB rule was meant to deter banks from crooked behavior and to give consumers a fighting chance to recover damages in court. Proponents argued that arbitration is rigged against customers and the right to a trial is guaranteed by the constitution. Now get this -- the financial companies themselves still have a right to join with other companies to sue for damages. When he announced the rule last summer, CFPB Director Richard Cordray wrote an op-ed in The New York Times explaining it:

In truth, by blocking group lawsuits, mandatory arbitration clauses eliminate a powerful means to get justice when a little harm happens to a lot of people. It is the height of hypocrisy for companies to say they're helping consumers by closing off the very same legal option they use when they've been wronged.

So big financial corporations are now off the hook because they will feel little impact after they convince a few solo individuals, behind closed doors and under seal, to settle their grievances. This may open the door to more companies finding ways to block customers from suing in other non-financial services, Reuters reports. For example, "Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is working to keep the clauses in contracts related to higher education."

Marketwatch reports that: "Consumers can still submit complaints to the CFPB about company practices they believe are unfair, on the CFPB's website." But the CFPB is itself under attack by Republican members of Congress who appear more interested in ridding companies of regulation than in protecting consumers. The Conversation provides a thorough analysis of why consumers need to protect the bureau that is supposed to be protecting them.

Categories: News

Trump calls for Justice Dept to investigate claims Hillary took over the DNC months before she ran as even Elizabeth Warren admits the entire system was rigged

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 09:19

'This is real collusion and dishonesty': Trump calls for Justice Dept to investigate claims Hillary took over the DNC months before she ran as even Elizabeth Warren admits the entire system was rigged --Brazile's review showed aides managed to tip the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton during Bernie Sanders's primary challenge | 02 Nov 2017 | President Donald Trump has alleged that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee violated campaign finance and money laundering laws in the run up to the 2016 Presidential Election and the primaries that proceeded it. Late Thursday night, President Trump tweeted, 'Donna Brazile just stated the DNC RIGGED the system to illegally steal the Primary from Bernie Sanders. Bought and paid for by Crooked H....' 'This is real collusion and dishonesty. Major violation of Campaign Finance Laws and Money Laundering - where is our Justice Department?' the President continued in a second Tweet. The tweet was in response to an explosive piece by former Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile in her upcoming book. Brazile alleges that she found 'proof' the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton's favor.

Categories: News

Dow charges more than 90 points higher as Trump taps Powell as Fed boss nominee

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 09:10

Dow charges more than 90 points higher as Trump taps Powell as Fed boss nominee | 02 Nov 2017 | The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to session highs on Thursday, with less than a half-hour left of regular trade, after President Donald Trump picked Fed. Gov. Jerome Powell as the next Federal Reserve chairman. If confirmed by the Senate, Powell would replace Janet Yellen, whose term ends in February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.35% was trading in record territory, up more than 90 points, or 0.4%, at 23,525.

Categories: News

ISIS claims responsibility for New York truck attack, report says

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 08:56

ISIS claims responsibility for New York truck attack, report says | 02 Nov 2017 | The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Thursday for this week's truck attack in New York City that killed eight, Reuters reported, citing the terror group's weekly issue of Al-Naba newspaper. "(T)he attacker is one of the caliphate soldiers," the group reportedly declared. Eight people were killed and a dozen were injured Tuesday near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan when 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented truck into people walking and cycling on a bike path, federal authorities said.

Categories: News

Young Women Mobilize Against "Revenge Porn" and Online Abuse

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00
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In 2011, someone hacked into then 20-year old, University of Copenhagen student Emma Holten's email account. Her private photographs and personal information were stolen and uploaded onto the internet, for all to see, along with the message: "Ruin This Bitch's Life".

People around the world suddenly had access to naked images of Holten, her contact details, workplace, a Google street-view image of her house, and the names of family members. She received hundreds of sexually explicit messages, rape and death threats, and extortion attempts.

A form of sexual assault, 'revenge porn' -- sharing sexually explicit images without consent -- is also a crime against privacy, Holten told me. Now a digital human rights and feminist activist, she says such crimes depend "on social structures that devalue women's humanity."

I spoke with Holten following her talk at the #HerNetHerRights online conference earlier this month, organised by the European Women's Lobby (EWL), and funded by Google, which brought researchers, activists, survivors of online violence together.

During the conference, Holten said she still faces the consequences of her cyber attack on a daily basis, and continues to receive graphic abuse. It remains a factor in every decision she makes. She describes feeling "extremely vulnerable" in real life, as well as online.

Holten explained how such abuse is constantly reproduced on the internet. "Non-consensual pornography is never linear. It's not seven years ago that this happened to me -- if someone uploads it to a new site, it happened yesterday."

As a result, she said there is no space to gain distance or start healing. "In a way, I will forever be 17 years old, and naked in my boyfriend's bedroom."

While shocking, Holten's story is not unique. According to research released this year by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), cyber violence is a growing global problem, which disproportionately affects women and girls.

Such violence includes non-consensual pornography, or 'revenge porn', cyber stalking and sexual harassment. Misogynistic abuse may also combine with racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination online.

Survivors have found little recourse in courts and official institutions. There have been several reports of suicide of victims. Many rely on the work of charities -- and young women across the world are starting to take action themselves.

Pierrette Pape is policy and campaigns director of the EWL, and coordinator of the #HerNetHerRights project, which aims to "take stock of the reality of online violence against women and girls."

"Activism gives the collective strength and opportunity to make policy and social change," Pape told me. "By building campaigns and mobilising their peers, young women want to make sure that society is respectful of their rights, offline and online."

The EIGE report describes an "inadequate" response to online violence from law and policy makers across Europe. In the UK -- considered an example of "good practice" -- of 1,160 cases of revenge porn reported in 2015, 61% saw no action taken.

Tech companies, including Google, have also been criticised for not doing enough to support victims or combat abuse.

Meanwhile, with each new tech development -- such as the option to live-broadcast on social media -- comes the possibility of new forms of cyber violence. This year, Facebook 'live' was used in widely-reported cases in Sweden and the US to share real-time, streaming footage of rape.

Negin Nazem Zorromodi is a 20 year old IT student and youth activist for girls, based in Stockholm. She told me that awareness of how cyberattacks happen -- including via spyware and 'keylogging' -- is the most powerful strategy against them.

At the #HerNetHerRights conference, she also talked about supporting girls who have experienced online crimes. "Our job is to listen and to make sure to tell them that it is never their fault," she said.

Some suggest that victims of online abuse 'simply' turn off their computers, or block perpetrators. Others insist that women have a human right to safe digital space and that internet access is a modern economic necessity.

It's also not easy to disconnect, or disrupt, online abuse. New accounts and domains can be made with ease. Online violence may be connected to offline violence. Internet harassment may be related to 'real life' domestic violence or bullying.

Zorromodi gave an example of a woman who found spyware -- which can secretly gather information, without your knowledge -- installed on her phone by an ex-partner. By blocking notifications, he had been controlling her real life relationships.

But young women around the world are also using the internet to develop grassroots or independent movements for their rights.

At the #HerNetHerRights conference, Sodfa Daaji, 24 -- an activist for women's rights in Italy and Tunisia, working with the Afrika Youth Movement and the EWL -- noted that the internet can play a positive role in enabling victims and activists to share stories and strategies.

This year, in response to the online racist and sexist "vitriol, recycled hate and scrutiny" received by British politician Diane Abbott, Sophie Duker, 27, organised a gofundme page for a "Diane Abbott Care Package". The 606 participants raised nearly £6,000.

In 2014, three years after she was hacked, Holten published an online essay and photo series entitled CONSENT. The images, taken by Danish photographer and activist Cecilie Bødker, show Holten in her home, in various states of nakedness.

Holten says the treatment of revenge porn victims is at odds with general societal attitudes towards sex in Denmark. "We talk extremely liberally about sexuality and nakedness…how could it be that a picture of a naked person was still so taboo?"

Non-consensual pornography, CONSENT highlights, is not about naked women. Attackers specifically want to share images without permission: it is the unwilling participation of victims which is considered erotic.

Holten told me: "I didn't really feel ashamed that people saw my breasts, but I felt ashamed that I hadn't got the right to decide."

The CONSENT project went viral. This year, Danish law changed, so that perpetrators of non-consensual pornography may face two years rather than six months in prison. "Victims will not meet the same world that I met," Holten believes.

As an activist, Holten says she finds speaking at high schools most effective, visiting three or four each week -- though notes that she does not find it productive to vilify young people who share non-consensual pictures.

In her experience, many participants in this abuse do not see it as such, but rather akin to a joke or "reality show". Humiliation, she believes, is core to much of the entertainment many young people consume.

"I think we have to look at the structures that have created children who gain respect in their social circles by being the best to ridicule other people," she told me. Online search algorithms, that prioritise popularity over content, also play a role, she added.

The person who hacked Holten's email account has never been identified. Her activism against online abuse has "an incredible sadness connected to it," she said, but: "channeling that sadness into criticism has been basic for my survival."

Categories: News

Extreme Denial

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00
Categories: News

In Puerto Rico's Highlands, Hurricane Maria Has Exploded Fault Lines of Poverty and Austerity

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00

Six weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, millions of residents are still living without safe drinking water and electricity. Health experts say the storm's massive damage to Puerto Rico's water system is threatening to cause a public health crisis, as more and more people are exposed to contaminated water. Over the weekend, Democracy Now! was in Puerto Rico, and we traveled about three hours into Puerto Rico's mountainous highland region in the interior of the island in order to look at the ways austerity has exacerbated the crisis caused by Hurricane Maria.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Greek Economist Yanis Varoufakis on Nazi Resurgence in Europe and Why "ISIS Loves Donald Trump"

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00

We speak with former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis about the rise of the far-right Golden Dawn party in his country and how their policies "have infiltrated the mainstream" in European politics, including anti-immigrant measures similar to those proposed by Trump. Varoufakis says Trump's vow to crack down on immigration after the attack in New York City will only inspire more attacks, noting that "ISIS loves Donald Trump."

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Donald Trump, Child of Immigrants, Seeks to Destroy Immigration

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00
 Molly Adams)Activists display sign at a march for immigrant rights on September 11, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Molly Adams)   Support your favorite writers by making sure we can keep publishing them! Make a donation to Truthout to ensure independent journalism survives.

We are all fully aware of the appalling terrorist attack that took place in New York City on Tuesday. Eight people were killed, including five classmates from Argentina who were in the city for a 30th anniversary school reunion. Eleven other people were injured, including Martin Marro of Newton, Massachusetts. Marro was also there for the reunion, having been a classmate of the 5 Argentinians who were lost. Martin Marro, like millions of Americans including the president's mother, is an immigrant.

Donald Trump encompassed the horror of the event and nearly broke both legs getting to his phone so he could blame the attack on Chuck Schumer and legal immigration -- via Twitter, of course. "The terrorist came into our country through what is called the 'Diversity Visa Lottery Program,'" he wrote, "a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based." All this while there was still blood on the bike path in Manhattan.

The function and history of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program is just complicated enough to make it an easy target for shameless grandstanders like the president. No, Chuck Schumer did not invent it. The program is the product of a bipartisan effort in the late 1980s to inspire more immigration from Western Europe, and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

There is nothing special or different about the vetting process for the Diversity Lottery.

Over the years, as economies improved in Western Europe, the bulk of immigrants applying for the Diversity Lottery shifted to countries like Nigeria, Nepal and the DRC. All that is required to enter the lottery is the equivalent of a high school diploma or work experience in a skilled profession. Most people in the world, for a variety of reasons, have little chance of successfully immigrating to the US. The Diversity Lottery is often their best and only opportunity. Some nine million people from 200 different nations applied in 2015, but only 50,000 a year are selected.

All are vetted the same way any potential immigrant from any other program is vetted; there is nothing special or different about the vetting process for the Diversity Lottery. The Manhattan attacker, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, was vetted and admitted under this program. By all reports, he became radicalized only after arriving in the US. Unless a homegrown terrorist walks onto a stage and announces their intentions, there is no vetting process presently on the planet capable of sniffing them out before they act.

Tuesday's Twitter comments were only the beginning. Mr. Trump made some remarks on Wednesday before his Cabinet meeting on the matter of immigration, and they amounted to the same verbal demolition derby we have all come to expect and dread:

I am today starting the process of terminating the diversary lottery program. I'm going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program. Diversary and diversity lottery. Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It's not nice. It's not good. It hasn't been good. We've been against it. So we want to immediately work with Congress on the Diversity Lottery Program, on terminating it, getting rid of it.

Let us pause a moment before getting to the meat of the matter to consider "Diversary." Twice. This was printed and distributed by the White House on the official letterhead of the press secretary. He finally got it right before raking it with his verbal machine gun -- "Sounds nice. It's not nice. It's not good. It hasn't been good. We've been against it." -- but it is worthy of note because something like this happens every single day.

Like all of us, every president endures the occasional wrestling match with the language. Obama had his "57 states" gaffe, and George W. Bush made so many linguistic blunders that people in Texas started naming their children "Nukular" because they thought it was a word. This, though … along with the king of China thing, the president of the Virgin Islands thing, calling all Germans "evil, very evil," very publicly failing to understand the concept of the national debt and so many more moments that would be piled around us in vast snowdrifts if groans could be granted substance … this speaks to a larger and more disturbing phenomenon.

Within those four examples live relations with our greatest international adversary and trade partner, the aftermath of the hurricanes, international relations with Europe and fundamental monetary policy. Every topic he touches with his tongue curdles like old milk. The man is not ignorant. He simply, brazenly, aggressively does not care to know what he is talking about when he opens his gob or pounces on his phone.

Immigration -- like China, the hurricanes, trade and finance -- is an incredibly serious issue that directly impacts the lives of millions and plays a massively important role in our national economy. It is part of who we are as a country, as the big green lady in the water off Manhattan will attest to. The white nationalists who infest Trump's administration and brain trust like so many goose-stepping fleas understand immigration down to the last detail. They despise it and want to end it. Trump is racist enough to let them write the copy, details take the hindmost, and if he drops yet another commentary cowpie in the pasture, so much the better: Another distraction for the corporate "news" people to follow.

The pre-Cabinet aria continued:

We want a merit-based program where people come into our country based on merit. And we want to get rid of chain migration. This man that came in -- or whatever you want to call him -- brought in, with him, other people … So we want to get rid of chain migration, and we've wanted to do that for a long time. And I've been wanting to do it for a long time. And we'll be asking Congress to start working on it immediately. There are bills already about ending chain migration and we have a lot of good bills in there. We're being stopped by Democrats because they're obstructionists.

Fun fact: Without "chain migration," Donald Trump would not exist. If he did exist, he would be a Glasgow farmer stiffing the shepherds on grazing fees. In 1929, a 17-year-old woman named Mary Anne MacLeod boarded the SS Transylvania for passage from Scotland to the United States, where she joined her two sisters. In the fullness of time she had a son named Donald who would one day become president. Farther up Trump's family tree sits his paternal grandfather, a man named Friedrich Trump, who immigrated to the US with his family from Germany in 1885.

Back then, chain migration focused on bringing over people from the same villages and communities in order to foster continuity within new immigrant enclaves in the US. The process has evolved to one where "chains" of family members are allowed to immigrate in order to foster that same continuity. The Diversity Visa Lottery Program is one iteration of a process that now spans three centuries. It is how the bulk of immigration to the US takes place.

Trump and his fascist white-power cadre seek to obliterate this fundamental aspect of the United States, and the president is more than willing to use a gruesome terror attack to grease the skids. The fact that he doesn't know what he is talking about, and that his own existence is owed to the very programs he seeks to destroy, only adds yet another layer of embarrassing unreality to the spectacle that is his administration.

We cannot and must not allow Trump and his friends to fumble-mouth their way to a gross reimagining of an immigrant-free nation. Targeting immigrants as a political tactic is as old as the gangs of New York. It has worked in the past all too often. Not again. Never again. 

Categories: News

Trump Tax Plan Would Deal Long-Term Blow to Working- and Middle-Class Americans

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00
 Drew Angerer / Getty Images)Flanked by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, Donald Trump speaks about tax reform legislation during a meeting with members of the House Ways and Means Committee in the Cabinet Room at the White House, November 2, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The tax plan now under consideration by Congress is remarkable for its consistency: a raft of provisions that disproportionately benefit corporations and wealthy Americans and do little for poor, working and middle-class people.

 Drew Angerer / Getty Images)Flanked by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, Donald Trump speaks about tax reform legislation during a meeting with members of the House Ways and Means Committee in the Cabinet Room at the White House, November 2, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)   Exposing the wrongdoing of those in power has never been more important. Support Truthout's independent, investigative journalism by making a donation!

The tax plan now under consideration by Congress is remarkable for its consistency: a raft of provisions that disproportionately benefit corporations and wealthy Americans and do little for poor, working- and middle-class people.

On the front end, there are straightforward giveaways like the corporate tax rate cut and repeal of the estate tax. On the tail end, there's the damage that the tax cuts will do when public revenues have plunged and the deficit hawks step in, claiming there's no choice but to slash federal spending even further. In the middle, there are empty promises to poor, working- and middle- class Americans. The result could be an acceleration in the worsening economic inequality that has been taking shape for decades.

Tax Cuts for Billionaires

In response to a climate of growing economic inequality, in which the wealthiest individuals have left everyone else further and further behind, the Trump tax plan would double down on solidifying wealth at the top. By one estimate from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), based on an initial version of the Trump plan, more than two-thirds of the proposed tax cuts would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans. That means people who earn at least $615,800 a year would enjoy an average tax cut of $90,610 each. The average tax cut for the 1 percent is bigger than the amount the vast majority of Americans earn in a year.

Meanwhile, middle earners -- those who earn between $41,000 and $66,000 a year -- would see an average tax cut ranging from about $400 according to ITEP's early estimates, or about $1,100 according to the Trump plan's own estimates. Either way, that's just an average -- some taxpayers in this income group would actually owe more in taxes under the Trump plan.

The average tax cut for the 1 percent is bigger than the amount the vast majority of Americans earn in a year.

In all, the ITEP study estimates that the Trump tax plan as originally formulated would give more than $100 billion in tax cuts to the top 1 percent of earners. That's enough to fund the annual budget for food stamps (SNAP) and other federal nutrition programs.

The notable giveaways to wealthy individuals include a reduction of tax rates for top earners and a consolidation from the current seven tax rates to only three. There's a particularly nasty subterfuge here: By officially keeping the current top tax rate of 39.6 percent, Trump and his allies hope to disguise the fact that, due to the way taxes are calculated, billionaires will also benefit from the lowering of the bottom tax rate -- and they'll pay less in taxes over all.

Then there's the elimination of the alternative minimum tax -- a mechanism to ensure that even in a system riddled with loopholes, wealthy taxpayers still contribute a bare minimum. Finally, there's the repeal of the estate tax -- a tax that in 2017 affected only estates worth more than $11 million. The Trump gimmick here is that the estate tax will be phased out gradually -- thus saving face, given how much this tax cut for wealthy heirs will actually cost the nation.

What all of these proposals have in common -- from repeal of the estate tax to the so-called special "pass-through" rate -- is that they benefit only the wealthiest Americans.

Squeezing the Middle Class and the Poor

Under the Trump tax plan, some middle- and upper-class Americans could actually pay more in taxes. Taxpayers with incomes from $111,100 to $615,800 would be most likely to pay more in taxes than they do under the current system. But according to the initial estimates from the ITEP study, one in seven taxpayers in the middle of the income distribution -- with incomes from $41,000 to $66,000 -- could also pay more.

One reason is the proposed changes to the state and local tax deduction, which would now only apply to property tax, not state or local income tax. This tenet of current tax law allows taxpayers to forego paying federal taxes on the taxes they pay to state and local governments. This way, state and local governments are not punished for levying adequate taxes to cover locally funded services -- like many roads, K-12 schools, and more. The deduction recognizes that few people are able to choose where they live based on local and state tax rates, and so avoids punishing those who live in areas with relatively high taxes. The trick is that this deduction is popular among middle- and upper-income households. With the new limits, many of them could end up paying more in federal taxes.

The estate tax will be phased out gradually -- thus saving face, given how much this tax cut for wealthy heirs will actually cost the nation.

As for the poor -- those people who earn less than $23,700 a year -- they can expect a tax cut of about $80 a year according to ITEP's initial estimates. This is hardly the stuff of ending poverty. The Trump plan misses many opportunities to help lift up poor and struggling Americans. For instance, it expands the Child Tax Credit for middle-income families, but fails to expand the portion of the credit that most helps the lowest-income families.

Hoarders, Corporate Edition

The biggest single tax giveaway in the Trump proposal is a cut in the corporate tax rate.

Corporate tax rate discussions are often hijacked by misleading claims about how high or low the corporate tax rate in the United States is now, and what the consequences for US competition are. However, the most relevant facts are these: The corporate tax rate is officially 35 percent; almost no corporation actually pays that much, thanks to a complex system of loopholes and deductions; and many profitable corporations actually manage to pay nothing at all in federal income taxes.

In a study of 258 profitable Fortune 500 corporations, the average effective tax rate -- what the corporations actually paid to the federal government -- was about 21.2 percent from 2008 to 2015.

The poor can expect a tax cut of about $80 a year. This is hardly the stuff of ending poverty.

A majority of Americans, including one-third of Republicans and two-thirds of Democrats, think large business and corporations should pay higher, not lower, taxes. The Trump answer to that is familiar to anyone who lived through the presidency of Ronald Reagan: The largesse at the top is supposed to "trickle down" to the masses.

What actually happens when corporate tax rates are slashed is that corporations mostly do just what they would have done anyway, in terms of worker pay and job creation, and CEOs and stockholders take home the difference. A recent study found that instead of being potent job creators, profitable corporations that paid the lowest taxes actually cut jobs, on average.

But even if it won't create new jobs, will the corporate tax cut somehow result in higher wages -- as much as $9,000 higher for some workers, as the Trump administration has claimed?

Don't count on it. According to Harvard economist Mihir A. Desai, a self-avowed supporter of corporate tax cuts, any trickle-down wage increase from a corporate tax cut would be more likely to be in the hundreds, not thousands, of dollars. Meanwhile, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has called the Trump administration's claims of higher wages after a corporate tax cut "dishonest, incompetent, and absurd."

A Downward Spiral of Inequality

It's conventional wisdom that nobody likes paying taxes -- but in reality, Americans are strongly supportive of a government role in many parts of our society, including education, health care, job training and national security. Paying taxes may not be fun, but it's the key to a program of aggressive public investment in the kind of society we all want.

And there lies the final failure of this tax plan: It would constitute a massive loss of federal revenue to the tune of at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years -- and quite possibly even more. A revenue loss that extreme leads down a clear path to a future where the federal government's role in education, job creation, health care, the environment and other areas will be called into question as unaffordable.

This tax plan would constitute a massive loss of federal revenue to the tune of at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years -- and quite possibly even more.

To put that into context, $1.5 trillion is enough to fund all federal education spending, job training, the threatened Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department, homeless assistance and welfare many times over. It's enough to keep both Medicaid and Medicare running for a year. Not only does the Trump tax plan fail to deliver on substantial tax cuts for the poor, working and middle class, it's also likely to lead to cuts in popular investments that help combat inequality. The upside is that the magnitude of the proposed giveaways to corporations and the wealthy make clear that we have the resources to invest in the priorities that Americans care about. That reinvestment, however, simply could not happen under the Trump tax plan.

The Politics of Tax Reform

Much of the political analysis on the Trump tax plan's chances of passage understandably focuses on whether the Republican Party will stick together and get it done. Those analyses are worthwhile, but they miss an important lesson of politics in the era of Trump and the possibilities for resistance.

If this tax plan passes in whole or in part, it will be for two reasons: First, because powerful and highly organized special interests, who stand to gain from the plan's passage, have brought their full resources to bear; and second, that false representations of the Trump plan have muddied the waters enough to effectively mute public resistance.

If the tax plan fails, it may be due to a lack of cohesion among Republicans -- but, just as likely, it may be a result of civic action and a shared understanding of the plan's real winners and losers. Just as confusion can lead to inaction, understanding can spur action.

It's up to all of us to show our legislators that we know the score, and that we plan to hold them accountable.

Categories: News

Justice Department Could Launch Challenge of AT&T-Time Warner Merger Amid Renewed Interest in Trust Busting

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00
 LW / TO)(Photo: Mike Mozart; Edited: LW / TO)   Ready to make a difference? Help Truthout provide a platform for exposing injustice and inspiring action. Click here to make a one-time or monthly donation.

Federal regulators are considering taking action to stop the acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T.

The Justice Department and AT&T aren't close to an agreement on conditions for the merger, according to a report Thursday morning in The Wall Street Journal. Antitrust Division lawyers are subsequently weighing a lawsuit to block the deal.

The telecoms giant wants to purchase Time Warner as a content source for its mobile phone customers. Time Warner -- owner of CNN, HBO, and TBS -- wants to maximize viewership, as Bloomberg noted.

Announced in October 2016, the proposed merger was supposed to be a done deal by the end of the year, according to prior statements made by AT&T executives. Time Warner's stock price dropped roughly $6 per share immediately after the Wall Street Journal published its story.

Antitrust enforcement has become a hot button issue in Washington since last year's presidential campaign revealed widespread distrust of the country's super-rich.

President Trump, for example, reacted to the AT&T-Time Warner merger proposal by vowing to stop it as a candidate: "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." On Wednesday, a likely 2020 presidential contender, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), asked federal regulators to look into "the rising tide of corporate concentration and its impact on labor markets and wages."

Booker urged the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to consider "firms' power over the price of labor" when reviewing mergers, his office said in a press release.

While economic statistics show that median earnings last year finally surpassed pre-2008 levels, the accumulation of any savings since the Great Depression remains elusive for the vast majority of Americans.

Federal Reserve data shows that, between 2007-2016, wealth stagnated or decreased for 80 percent of all households -- and for 98 percent of black and latinx households, according to the People's Policy Project.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee also took up the issue of antitrust by unanimously advancing legislation offering new whistleblower protections.

The bill was cosponsored by committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), formerly the top Democrat on the panel. It passed the Senate in the previous two sessions of Congress, advancing through the upper chamber last year by unanimous consent.

"The House did not bring it up," Leahy noted, calling on leaders in the lower chamber to consider the legislation this time around.

Grassley and Leahy's bill would offer specific safeguards for whistleblowers who shed light on criminal antitrust violations.

"In 2011, the Government Accountability Office issued a report recommending Congress consider adding a civil remedy for antitrust whistleblowers who have been subjected to retaliation," Grassley explained. "And that's what this bill does."

Before Thursday's vote, a number of Democrats added themselves as cosponsors of the bill. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), vice chair of the Senate judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, was among them.

"As you know, we're seeing more and more mergers," Klobuchar told Grassley, thanking him for helping introduce the bill.

Categories: News

Unemployment Falls to New Low for Recovery, Hurricane Driven Wage Hike Reversed

Truth Out - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00

The Labor Department reported the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent in October, another new low for the recovery. The establishment survey showed the economy created 261,000 jobs in the month. The high number is due to a bounce-back from the hurricane-affected growth in September, which has now been revised up to show a small gain of 18,000. The average growth rate for the last three months is 162,000.

The bounce-back from the hurricane also had a large effect on the wage data. Last month's reported 12 cent gain in average hourly wages was heavily impacted by the hurricane. Many new hires in low-paying jobs did not take place and lower-paid hourly workers likely saw their time on the job reduced, thereby raising the overall average. The October data showed a 1 cent decline in the average wage. Nonetheless, wages are still rising at a 2.4 percent rate over the year, which is a bit less than a percentage point above the inflation rate. This puts wage growth in line with productivity growth over the last year, although it means that we are still not seeing any evidence of acceleration even as the market has tightened.

Other data in the report are mixed. The fall in the unemployment rate was associated with a drop in labor force participation. The employment-to-population ratio fell by 0.2 percentage points, partly reversing a 0.3 percentage point jump in September. On the other side, there was a sharp drop in involuntary part-time employment to 4,753,000, bringing this measure down to pre-recession levels. We also see that less-educated workers continue to be big gainers from the tight labor market. The unemployment rate for workers with just a high school degree fell to 4.3 percent, 1.2 percentage points below its year-ago level. The unemployment rate for workers without a high school degree fell to 5.7 percent, 1.7 percentage points below its year-ago level.

In short, the labor market is continuing to improve, but there is no basis for concerns that excessive wage growth will lead to an inflationary spiral. Workers are now seeing respectable wage gains that give them their share of productivity growth, but there is much ground to regain.

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Categories: News

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