A Letter of Solidarity From the Year 3017

Anarchist News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 14:35

via puget sound anarchists

Submitted Anonymously


This is a message of love and support for the earth liberation fighters who held down the 2017 Olympia anti-fracking rail blockade, from a collective of free mutants located – not in space, as are the origin points of most gestures of solidarity, but in time. We can’t be certain but most in our world are sure that it just over one thousand years since the date of your magnificent action. The events you took part in are located at a polyphasic rift in the skein of space-time – a thin, partially torn zone where different points on multiple, concurrent dimensional timelines can co-exist – and in fact your blockade actually helped widen the time-rift to the point that we could get this communication back to you. This is far from the first message we’ve been able to get back to your age – in fact we have gotten millions back, but our powers of communication are usually weakened by the immense distance and are often location-specific, to the point that many who have and will receive our urgent messages of support, advice and warning are considered insane in your time, or in left-leaning small towns are known as extremely weird writers or artists. In fact most of those to whom we have made contact had to make recourse to psychedelic visions, trance states, or dreams to receive and relay our messages. We are writing to you, our ancestors, from our ritual circle at the exact place of your blockade on the tracks except we are from the future you have helped to safeguard.

You made your Stand in an area we know as one of the ancient First Places of Resistance, where your global civilization, enslaved by an increasingly self-aware and demented industrial megamachine – known to us and a few of you as Leviathan – began its final phase of annihilation. In our time we remember your blockade as one of the many great sites of creative rebellion against the accelerating death-drive of your civilization, and as an attempt to move beyond both the joyless, often cynical fatalism of the so-called “environmental” consciousness of your time and the sickening passivity of your “normal, law-abiding” peers. The anti-fracking barricades you helped to maintain are one of the marker-events of what we call the Years of Understanding, when many humans began to realize there would be no escape from the world they and their ancestors had seriously damaged – not into space, as many will desperately and foolishly hope, not into a clean, “green” technological version of the capitalist hell-world as it was at the beginning of the 21st century, as Normals and even some “radicals” will blindly believe, and certainly not into the celestial heaven hoped for by the followers of the Dead God, whom you know as Christians – although many of their souls will finally be removed from the Cycles of Rebirth during the Years of Awakening about 150 years from your current time.

You can’t know it yet, and in order to maintain the Balance we cannot reveal too much, but the century following your action will be harder on your human race and our shared god-planet than any your people have yet seen – suffice to say that the projections of mass die-offs, self-destructive warfare and industrial collapse, and increasing climate catastrophe are all in some way going to come to pass. Although many of the Normals of your age refuse to admit it, the process of mass bio-death and transformation begun during the 20th century set the stage for what we now know was a great phase-shift in the lifewave of our planet, a time beginning around your own when many Forms perished in order to teach humanity the consequences for breaking its ancient pact with the Earth. The coming years will reveal so much to you, though much of it will be painful. All lifeforms will continue their processes of mutation in response to the toxins, radiations, electrical pollutions and extreme climate conditions of the post-industrial and digital centuries, creating many new species and Forms: some will be hideously nightmarish, like the acid-blind rats of your massive landfills and the super-powerful bacteria which will wipe out so many of you, created by your society’s massive reliance on antibiotic medicine; some will be grotesquely perfect or specialized, genetically engineered during the years before the Blackout to fill some absurd role in the collapsing capitalist economy, like pesticide-tolerant corn, ultra-docile cows, and gene-designed humans, all of whom, we know, will pass away into the Dust after their host corporations stop constantly producing them because they lack the Life-Spark, the true will to survive which cannot be lab-produced; a precious few of the new Forms will be purely miraculous, like the mutagenic Fungi which will help you and other mammals survive the waves of radiation released by your collapsing nuclear plants, the algae which evolved to break down the fuels and plastics your peers carelessly released into the wondrous Oceans of your age, and even you yourselves.

Your species is already transforming and evolving, developing wildly complex psychic and aetheric powers like those of your ancient ancestors which are in our time completely normal, although many who herald the Change during your years will be cast out, medicated into submission, imprisoned, punished, lulled into the Humming Quiet by your digital devices or just ignored as dreamers and magicians. The devastating wars, pogroms, concentration camps, refugee crises, rural extermination and urban pacification programs your world has been experiencing for so long will continue for more generations, and many of your kind will lose all hope. So much will be lost forever during the years you have yet to live. Across your time-space, the Police and the Normals they guard and control will continue to ravage our homeworld, trying to continue feeding the Leviathan, taking more ore and oil from the Earth’s body, filling more stores with useless and expendable garbage, taking increasingly desperate measures to avoid the truth that their death-trip is coming to an end. Ironically, before we found these thin zones in the space-time membrane – where we can directly observe and contact the past and future – much of what we knew of the 21st century was gleaned from excavations by wandering seekers of those great warehouses of abandoned merchandise which belonged to the god-corporations of your time such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Safeway. There are vast, ruinous museums in our world where the amassed detritus of your aeon is laid out in chronological sequence, from the undecayed ammunition casings of the World Wars to the infinitely preserved snack pastries and candy bars of the late 20th to the titanic piles of small rectangular screen-devices your people seem to worship, and which will domesticate you better than any whip or cage. When we look back through our circles in these rift-places, however, where we can use the Sight to watch you and our other ancestors, we understand the desperation of your present moment, and the courage it takes to resist its onslaught. It is no coincidence that your media culture is already filled with films and books and other works of art which dream of the Leviathan’s destruction – some of them, such as The Road Warrior, 28 Days Later, 12 Monkeys, The Matrix, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind survived the centuries of ruin and are still shown often in our villages to remind us of what it was like in your time…

We did not craft this message, however, to tell you that all is lost. In a sense, nothing is lost. EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS BEGINNING. All events and entities have their place in the Cycles and occur for a reason. Those of you who believe in and act for the planetary lifeforce, known as Gaia, Nature, Pan, and many other names, must know in your hearts that even the mass extinction and cruel materialism of your age would not exist if they did not serve the evolution of the grand Saga of the Worlds. Many of the enemies of freedom and wildness of your time – like the Police, the Technocrats, the Patriarchs, and the Consumers – will be wiped out in the centuries that follow your own, though they will continue lashing out until their annihilation point. Take heart. We cannot say how, and we cannot reveal much more than we already have, or else the Balance may curve and warp and our times may be severed from one another. The powers we freely possess and their art are already known to you, and in some senses have been with your species since long before the Change – the Normals of your age often derisively called them Spiritual Technology, or Magic. Their lessons are few but powerful: all that can be imagined is already real; true power arises from the Earth and the other Spheres; other Worlds are possible; laughter is the true safeguard of sanity; Belief is the secret key. There is so much more to say but our link is becoming frayed – the presence of Police and Tech-Normals thickens the Veil and can temporarily erase the time-rifts we use to reach you – we will try to share more from when we can rest and re-cast our circle…

Many will approach your rebel bases and claim that the hour is too late, that the megamachine can’t be stopped, that one train won’t tip the scales, that it’s already over. From our perspective one thousand years in the future, however, sitting as we do among the massive trees and fungal gardens and meteor scars and stone shrines which now overlay this train track you are blocking, nothing could be further from the truth. Every single action mattered. We remember you, the blockade on the railroad you have bravely created, and the adventure you all lived together as one of the first of many acts of the Long Uprising, when the Earth called the last of her warriors to protect the life that remained so that the Cycles could continue, though each moment seemed to bring new horrors and the Normals hunted, repressed and imprisoned the free mutants almost into extinction. There is no such thing as a lost act of rebellion.


Tags: olympia communeolympiacategory: Essays
Categories: News

A Requiem for the Olympia Blockade

Anarchist News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 14:30

via puget sound anarchists

Submitted Anonymously

I didn’t see it until 8:30 in the morning, while shirking my duties and privileges as a college student to pay attention in class. Dark, blurry videos and photos populated Oly Stand’s Twitter, posted only a couple of hours ago. “#olympiablockade against #fracking raided this morning!” tweeted Demand Utopia. “There are over 50 cops from multiple jurisdictions and armored vehicles. There is a work crew and about 4 heavy pieces of equipment (backhoes, bulldozer/bobcat, cranes). In addition to aircraft that is circling the #OlympiaBlockade” tweeted Olympia Stand, accompanied by more dark photos. Lastly, a simple text tweet: “The #OlympiaBlockade has been raided. More updates soon,” given around 5 in the morning.

I struggled to make out shapes and forms in the dark setting, pictures of black streets illuminated by phone flashes and distant street lights – squinting hard, the outlines of cops in full riot gear became apparent. POLICE is emblazoned on their chests in another photo. A video depicted a large truck being backed into the area; while silenced on the autoplay, an industrial beast growled and grunted. Another tweet by Olympia Stand read, “All the comrades are out of the #OlympiaBlockade. No arrests have been made.” I could only imagine a bunch of punk kids, spray-painting a wall with magic spells, conjuring tricks in tarps to resurrect a giant anti-capitalist hydra, and scrambling to the hills to watch it duke out with the industrial complex’s own monster.

If I had gone to Olympia that morning, all I would’ve seen is a collection of tarps and folks’ personal belongings, spilling out of a Bobcat, hopefully back onto the rail it was trying to “clean up”. I half-wondered out of my anger whether the sunflower seed butter and charcoal I donated was still in the wreckage.


From the high point on Jefferson as it leaves 8th Street, the Blockade truly was a circus with its poles rooted in the gravel, nestled among Scots broom and Himalayan blackberry. Blue and brown tarps haphazardly held together, probably leaking water somewhere somehow, upturned pallets and spray-painted slogans, the statement to no one and everyone in general, “Our Port Supports Fracking with Our Tax$”, and the rainbow variant of the Antifa flag, it culminated in a beautiful visual disaster that lived, respiring with the strong northbound gusts, cardiac rhythms beat out by a kid really going at it on a bass tom. The Blockade had grown since my last time there. A watch tower platform resting on cinderblocks, ceilinged with a tarp, hugged the staircase leading into the south part of the Blockade like a inebriated kid struggling to stand. A small barrel fire stirred nearby, and the two kids monitoring the south huddled over it. One of them was the same kid who radio’d me in the first time I came around. Elsewhere in the camp, a tarp structure labeled as a free skool was set up on the south side of the tracks. Scattered on the inside table were a few Crimethinc publications and a sign labelled “quiet zone”, or as-quiet-as-a-kid-banging-on-a-bass-tom-can-get zone. Nearby, a new tented room was set up, straddling ever-present mud puddles in the gravel.

In-and-out kids of all various backgrounds came and went, twenty-somethings, Evergreen kids, transient kids, homeless folk, thirty- to forty-year-olds bearing donations every once in a while… the daytime crew, as I was told, was a lull. The inside of the structure during the day was dormant, with most folk napping without stirring on the couches scattered about in the space. Even the pigs, as I patrolled and south and radio’d in sightings, seemed not half-concerned with the Blockade. When nights came, fairy lights, tea candles, and barrel fires lit up the Blockade, and even more folks from further strains of life came in to hang around the bonfire. Artifacts, namely, a flyer, read out a list of events happening on Saturday afternoon: Decolonizing Language, Radical Herbalism, Climb Training… Punk concerts and film screenings also transpired (and I am still sore that I missed them). On Monday I roasted marshmallows with two others, sucking the chemical combustion right off the makeshift skewer, and that was just as alright too.

The Blockade was truly a circus.


The cacophony of voices at the Blockade denied the Port of Olympia’s desire to classify it into one concise list of demands, one opinion – that’s what makes it beautiful. The desire was obvious when Port commissioners “invited” members of the Blockade to an “advisory” session on Monday night’s meeting as part of a “dialogue”, “in the interest of harmony” in Port Commissioner Downing’s words. He left empty-handed but iron-fisted. A representative of the Tulalip Tribe and the Indigenous Caucus, a land and water protector, demanded that the Port consult indigenous folk in their decision-making. In reference to Standing Rock, she says “We don’t always agree among ourselves, but [indigenous people] gathered at Standing Rock to make a stand… because we feel so strongly about this”.

What follows are some excerpts of commissioners’ responses to “general public opinion. Port Commissioner Zita, the “liberal” of the three commissioners (and honestly the only somewhat pleasant one), placates “I hear a lot of people concerned about the blocked train tracks.” and “We have an opportunity to listen to people, to work with the City, to work with the Olympia Police Department, to work with the public, to try to compromise, communicate, work for a peaceful settlement.” Commissioner Downing: “I believe in global warming and it’s a bad situation and we need to do something about it… so let’s work towards a solution.” Commissioner McGregor: “…it’s unfortunate that other companies in this community that provide well-paying jobs are being impacted by the fact that the trains are sitting… and [the train’s cargo] is production that they need to get into in order to make some of the great things that we buy at the store called Pepsi or Coke or whatever they’re bottling at the time…” It sounds like the woman who announces for Sound Transit Express buses, “Approaching: Apocalypse and Slow-Burning Extinction.”

Some voices of or associated with the Blockade did show up that night. The same representative of the Indigenous Caucus pointed out the Port’s claim that there are only two affinity groups organizing the Blockade. In response: “There are many affinity groups coming together and no one group speaks for the Blockade, the action… It’s a little more complicated [than last year].” She spoke of the threat of fracking to water and communities, of escalating natural disasters, of 1000-men worker camps imperializing upon Native bodies in Canada, of indigenous resistance. Another voice (whom I had trouble with distilling into one unified statement, funnily enough) defended the effectiveness of direct action, since “writing letters doesn’t really get you anywhere.”, proclaimed unity of folk at the Blockade with indigenous resistance, democratic control of Port development amidst “million-dollar townhouses being built on Port land… when we have people out in the cold, things that the community needs.” One voice representing a Libertarian Socialist caucus had a set list of demands they wanted, consultation and consent of indigenous folk, democratic control of the Port, no more fossil fuel transport, a transition to green jobs out of the Port and cooperative economy in Thurston County, shoreline ecological restoration. Even a “Voltairine de Cleyre” spoke at the meeting.

In response, Commissioner McGregor, expressing his frustration with a lack of unity of demands of the Blockade, quoted a recent list of demands, “… I went online and looked at some of the social media out there, and I find something from someone called ‘Us at the Olympia Commune’,” (cue my bright shining eyes), “… ‘We have investigated our desires and come up with some ideas about what we really want the result of this Blockade to be. Number one: Make the Port a beach again. Two: Blow up the sun… the complete destruction of time itself’…” (cue numerous anarchist cackles), “…‘that while science still exists, one of us is, be endowed with…’ and I’m not sure how to say this, ada.. adamaytium-laced skeleton… I mean how serious are [these lists of demands]?”

Most of the voices at the Blockade didn’t show up to the meeting. Most were roasting and toasting by the fire, probably eating dinner, banging on the one bass tom, fucking around on the 6-string-made-five guitar, smoking weed, having “a fun time”, and having “pizzas […] delivered, and turkeys and chickens… they’re gonna have a dance” as Commissioner McGregor said. The circus makes a good theatre without even having to act.


The pictures on Twitter are in daylight now: the pigs in black riot gear and the green armed forces came with their industrial machines and swept away everything material, seizing the belongings of a person across the way who wasn’t even involved in the Blockade. “Militarized Police force of this size needed to break up peaceful water protectors? Is this necessary?” writes Oly Stand on their Twitter page. It was a strategic show of force to impose fear, to counter the almost 2 weeks of momentum the Blockade created; thank Whoever that no one physically was injured or arrested (as of late November 29th).

There was never room for negotiation with the Port. There was never anyone who would listen on the Port’s side to economically inefficient demands. There was also never any one person who could negotiate on the part of the entire Blockade, only a blaring roar that reverberates not in conference rooms, but on colonized, occupied Nisqually and Squaxin land, on spray-painted walls, in musical instruments, through skillshares. The entropy is high with each varied opinion on what would be best for the world, while everyone simultaneously creates that new world every day. Despite the disunity, no one in the Blockade settled on status quo, only settled on the tracks. On my second day out I noticed how beautiful it was, the train tracks, capitalism’s instruments, pointing straight at kids sharing weed, sleeping quietly, eating donated food, talking and chilling, playing music, sharing skills and giving aid where aid is needed – when the Blockade became a Commune, it was all a normal circus. While the Blockade is gone, the Commune remains – the fire smell trailing off my clothes yet is a testament to that.

My favorite piece of art from the Commune (that I hope still lingers) is on the west wall of the building kitty-corner northeast of the blockade. It humbly reads: “delete the port”. Delete every port, indeed.

Tags: olympiaolympia communecategory: Essays
Categories: News

Italy: Scripta Manent trial (started on 16/11/2017) — Statement to the court by anarchist Alfredo Cospito

Anarchist News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 14:25

(translated by act for freedom now!, via

On 16/11/2017 the SCRIPTA MANENT trial began inside the bunker courtroom of ‘Le Vallette’ prison in Turin. Imprisoned anarchist comrade Alfredo Cospito read a long declaration. Alfredo was not present in court as he was subjected to video conferencing from inside the AS2 unit in the prison of Ferrara.

Declaration to the Court:

Benevento 14th August 1878- Turin 16th 2017

Malefactors on trial

The Union of Egoists is your instrument, it is the sword with which you increase your natural strength; the Union exists thanks to you. Society, on the other hand, demands much from you and it exists without you; in short, society is sacred, Union is yours; society uses you, the Union–you use it – Stirner

O, gentlemen, the time of life is short! .. An if we live, we live to tread on kings — Shakespeare, Henry IV

I regret every crime in my life that I haven’t committed, every desire that I have not satisfied – Senna Hoy

I want to be as clear as possible, so that my words sound like an admission of guilt. As far as it is possible to belong to an instrument, a technique, I claim my belonging to FAI-FRI with pride. With pride I recognize myself in its entire history. I am a fully-fledged part of it and my contribution carries the signature of ‘Olga Nucleus’. If this farce had been limited to myself and Nicola, I’d have remained silent. But you have involved a significant part of all those who have been giving solidarity to us over these years, among them those I love dearly. At this point I cannot refrain from speaking my mind, to remain silent would make me an accomplice of your shameful attempt to strike an important part of the anarchist movement indiscriminately. Comrades dragged behind bars and put on trial, not for what they did but for what they are: anarchists. Tried and arrested not for having claimed, like I did, an action with the acronym FAI-FRI, but for having participated in meetings, written in papers and blogs, and more simply for giving solidarity to comrades on trial. I will not use these comrades as a shield. In an era when ideas don’t count, to be put on trial and arrested for an idea says a lot about the explosive force that a certain vision of anarchy continues to have, and it also says a lot about the empty shells that democracy and so-called democratic freedoms are.

You have your reasons, I’m not denying that, after all good anarchists don’t exist, in every anarchist smoulders the desire to hurl you off that bench. For my part, I make no attempt to pass off the FAI-FRI as a recreational association or a boy scouts club. Those who have made use of this instrument, or as you ignorant of anarchy would say ‘those who are of the FAI-FRI’, claim it with their heads held high like my brothers and sisters arrested in the past, like myself in Genoa years ago and in this courtroom today. It’s our history that is teaching you that, a history that, never martyrs, never surrendered, we are paying with years of prison and isolation over half the world. Those who are not part of this history of ours and are dragged before you in chains are keeping silent out of solidarity, love, friendship, feelings that are unimaginable, incomprehensible for you servants of the state. Your ‘justice’ is abuse perpetrated by the strongest over the weakest. I guarantee, you won’t find any coward or opportunist among the defendants in this trial. The price of dignity is incalculable and its gifts are various and priceless beyond all limits and imagination, it’s always worth paying that price, and I’m ready to pay it any time. It should be of no importance to you whether it really was me who placed those bombs. Because I feel an accomplice to those deeds and all the actions claimed by the FAI-FRI. Especially as the actions you accuse me of are all in solidarity with migrants and anarchist prisoners and I agree with them totally. How could I not feel complicity when these explosions were like flares in the darkness for me. However stupid it might seem to you, for me there is a before and after the FAI. Before, when I was fanatically and stupidly convinced that only unclaimed actions had any utility, reproducibility, convinced as I was that destructive action should necessarily speak for itself and that any acronym was the devil’s shit. And after when, with the gunshot to Adinolfi I questioned these insurrectional dogmas to the point of making my new convictions real through an action. A small thing, some might say, and that would be so if behind that simple acronym there wasn’t a method that could really make a difference for we anarchists of praxis beyond and outside repression and courtrooms. However limited my contribution, however late it came, I feel I am fully an accomplice of the brothers and sisters who began this road.

Whoever they are, wherever they are, I hope they won’t blame me if I make their actions mine, they represent me. It matters little if I have never looked them in the eyes, I have read their words of fire, I agreed with them, I approve of their actions and that’s enough for me, I have no wish to appropriate but rather a strong proud will to share responsibility. Judges, I would have liked to have spit my direct responsibility for the deeds you are accusing me of in your faces (as I did in Genoa), but I cannot appropriate merits and honours that are not mine, that would be pushing things too far. You will and I will have to be content with what you would define ‘political responsibility’ in your language impregnated with authority. Don’t despair, as you are so good at inventing rock-hard evidence, however tortuous, and at resurrecting stupefying DNA, however made inconsistent from the oblivion of past files; you won’t have any trouble in taking home a good haul of years in jail. And then, if you really want to know, a sentence against me is totally appropriate, even only for my adhesion to FAI-FRI, an adhesion to a method, not to an organization, not to mention my firm and concrete will to destroy you and everything you represent. You struck at random among my dearest ones, relatives, friends without pity. Moral scruples are not your strong point, you have blackmailed, threatened, taken children away from their parents as an instrument of coercion and extortion. Comrades who have nothing to do with FAI-FRI were dragged in front of you with dull accusations and evidence. One of the reasons, not the most important, for which I claimed FAI-FRI was so as not to expose the anarchist movement to facile criminalization.

Today I find myself in court to oppose your reprisal, your miserable attempt to put ‘Croce Nera’ in the dock, a historical periodical of the anarchist movement, which with its ups and downs has since the sixties been carrying out its role of support to anarchist prisoners prisoners of war. In your fascistoid delirium you are trying to pass ‘Croce Nera’ off as FAI-FRI press organ. They didn’t even go that far in 1969 in the full anti-anarchist campaign. At the time your colleagues, once they had their pound of human flesh with the murder of the Italian ‘Croce Nera’ founder Pinelli, limited themselves to incriminating individual comrades for specific deeds, and we all know how that ended up. Now that blood is in short supply you don’t limit yourself to accusing a few comrades for specific actions, you push further to the point of criminalizing a whole part of the movement. All those who belonged to the Croce Nera editorial group, who wrote in it or even only participated in their public presentations, are all part of FAI-FRI in your inquisitorial optic. My proud participation in the ‘Croce Nera’ editorial group and in other anarchist periodicals doesn’t make these journals FAI-FRI press organs. My participation is individual, every anarchist is a monad, an island of its own, his/her contribution is always individual. I avail myself of the FAI-FRI instrument only to make war. The use of this instrument, the adhesion to the method that follows doesn’t involve my whole life as an anarchist, and in no way does it involve the other editors of the journals with which I collaborate. One of the characteristics of my anarchy is the multiform nature of the practices used in the field, all of them quite differentiated. I respond only for myself, each one responds for themself. I’m not interested in knowing who claims with the acronym FAI-FRI, I only communicate with them through actions and the words that follow them. I consider it would be counter-productive to know them personally and I don’t go looking for them either, even less to do a journal together. My life as an anarchist, also here in prison, is far more complex and varied than an acronym and a method and I shall struggle to the end so that the umbilical cord that links me to the anarchist movement is not cut by isolation and your jails.

Get it into your heads, without detracting anything from counter-information, the FAI-FRI doesn’t edit journals or blogs. It doesn’t need spectators or fans or experts in counter-information, it’s not enough to like it to be part of it, one has to get one’s hands dirty with actions, risk one’s life, put it at stake, really believe in it. Even heads twisted by authority like yours should have understood, the FAI-FRI is only made up of anonymous brothers and sisters who strike using that acronym and the anarchist prisoners who claim to belong to it, the rest is generalization and manipulation by the repression. I am taking the opportunity that you are giving me with this trial to remove the suffocating gag of censorship and have my say on topics that I really care about in the hope that my words will reach my brothers and sisters beyond these walls. The ‘community I belong to’ is the anarchist movement with all its facets and contradictions. That rich and varied world in which I have lived the last thirty years of my life, a life that I wouldn’t change for any other. I have written in anarchist papers, I continue to do so, I have participated in demonstrations, street clashes, occupations, I have carried out actions, practiced revolutionary violence. My ‘community of reference’ are all my brothers and sisters who use the FAI-FRI method to communicate, in my case, without knowing each other, without organizing themselves, without coordinating themselves, without giving up any freedom. I never confused the two levels, the FAI-FRI is simply an instrument, one of the many at anarchists’ disposition. Uniquely an instrument for making war. The anarchist movement is my world, my ‘community of belonging’, the sea in which I swim.

My ‘community of reference’ are the individuals, affinity nuclei, informal organizations (coordination of a number of groups) that communicate, without contaminating one another, through the acronym FAI-FRI, talking with one another through the claims that follow the actions. A method this which gives me, anti-civiliser, anti-organizer, individualist, nihilist, the possibility of joining forces with other anarchist individuals, informal organizations (coordination of a number of groups), affinity nuclei without giving up my freedom to them, without renouncing my personal convictions and tendencies: I define myself anti-civilizer because I think the time at our disposal is very limited before the technology, becoming aware of itself, will ultimately dominate the human race. I define myself an anti-organizer because I feel part of the anti-organizer illegalist tradition of the anarchist movement, I believe in fluid relations, free relations between anarchists, I believe in free agreement, in the given word. I define myself individualist because by nature I could never delegate power and decisions to others, nor could I be part of an organization, be it informal or specific. I define myself nihilist because I gave up the dream of a future revolution in favour of revolt now, immediately.

Revolt is my revolution and I live it every time I clash with the existent with violence. I believe that our main task today is to destroy. Thanks to FAI-FRI ‘struggle campaigns’ I give myself the possibility of making my action more powerful and effective. ‘Struggle campaigns’ that must necessarily come out of actions that lead to other actions, not out of calls or public assemblies, so that the political mechanisms of authoritativeness of which movement assemblies are full, are cut off. The only word that counts is that of who really strikes. In my opinion the assemblear method is a blunt weapon for making war, inevitable and profitable in other contexts. Adhering to the FAI-FRI ‘struggle campaigns’ with my efforts, in my case as an individualist with no part in any informal organization (coordination of a number of groups), I make use of a collective strength that is something more and different from the mere mathematical sum of the single strengths unleashed by single affinity groups, individuals and informal organizations. This ‘synergy’ makes it possible that ‘the whole’, FAI-FRI, is something much more than the sum of the subjects it is composed of. All this while safeguarding one’s own individual autonomy thanks to the total lack of direct links, knowledge, with the groups, informal organizations and single anarchists who claim with that acronym. One gives oneself a common acronym to allow individuals, groups, informal organizations to adhere to and recognize themselves in a method that safeguards their particular projects in an absolute way, those who claim FAI-FRI adhere to that method. Nothing ideological or political, only an instrument (a claim through an acronym) as the product of a method (communication between individuals, groups, informal organizations through the actions) that aims to give strength in the moment of the action without homologating, flattening. The acronym is important, it guarantees continuity, stability, perseverance, quantitative growth, a recognizable history but in fact the real strength, the real turning, consists in the simple, linear, horizontal, absolutely anarchist method of direct communication through claims without mediators, without meetings, without knowing one another, without exposing oneself excessively to repression, only those who act communicate, those who put themselves at stake with action.

The real innovation is the method. The acronym becomes counter-productive if it spills over the task for which it came to life i.e. to recognize one another as brothers and sisters who adopt a method. That’s all. Practice is our litmus paper, it is in practice that the efficacy of an instrument is tested. One has to acknowledge that the FAI-FRI experience, in constant evolution, puts us in the front of fast, chaotic transformations; one should not be taken aback. Immobilism and stagnation represent death, our strength is the exploration of new roads.

Certainly the future of this experience lies not in more structuring, but in an attempt, full of perspectives, at collaboration between single anarchists, affinity groups, informal organizations, without ever contaminating one another. Coordination instances must remain within the single informal organization, between the single groups or nuclei that form it, without overflowing beyond, without involving other FAI-FRI informal organizations and most importantly FAI-FRI groups and single anarchists who would otherwise see their autonomy, freedom, the very sense of their acting outside organizations and coordination being undermined at the base. In this way only if authoritarian dynamics are created within a group, an organization, they will remain confined there where they were born, thus avoiding contagion. There’s no whole, there’s no organization called FAI-FRI; there are individuals, affinity groups, informal organizations all of them well differentiated, that communicate through the acronym FAI-FRI, without ever coming into contact with one another. Much has been written and said about the internal dynamics of affinity groups, about informal organization and individual action. On the contrary communication between these practices has never been explored, never taken into consideration. FAI-FRI is an attempt at putting this communication into practice. Individual actions, affinity groups, organizations are all part in equal way of those instruments that anarchists have historically always given themselves. Each of these instruments has pros and cons. An affinity group unites operational speed due to a deepened knowledge between the individuals in affinity and a certain force due to the union of more individuals. Its great merits: freedom of the individual guaranteed and significant resistance to repression. Merits due to the scarce number of individuals in affinity and to the great affection and friendship that necessarily links them to one another. Organization, in our case informal, (coordination of a number of groups), guarantees a very strong availability of means and strength, but also high vulnerability due to the necessary coordination (knowledge) between the groups or nuclei, because if one is hit the risk has a ‘domino’ effect, everybody falls. From my point of view individual freedom will necessarily clash with collective decision-making mechanisms (the ‘rules’ of the functioning of the organization). This aspect represents a drastic reduction of freedom and autonomy, indigestible for an individualist anarchist.

Individual action guarantees high operational speed, high unpredictability, very strong resistance to repression and above all total freedom, the individual doesn’t need to relate to anything or anybody other than his/her own conscience. A big defect: low operational potentiality, one probably has fewer means and possibilities to carry out complex operations (which on the contrary an informal organization can achieve fairly easily if there is will and firmness).

To experiment with ways of acting so radically different, this is the innovation, the new that can destabilize and make us dangerous. No ambiguous mixing, groups, individuals, informal organizations must ever come into direct contact. To each his/her own, hybrids would weaken us. United more by a method than an acronym. FAI-FRI makes it possible to unite forces without losing one’s own nature. No moralism or dogmatism, each one relates freely, probably it will be the mixing of all this that will make the difference.

No coordination outside the single informal organization (because coordination includes the physical knowledge between all the groups and organizations making them prone to repression), no homologating, hegemonic superstructure, which crushes individuals and affinity groups. Those who experiment with the informal organization in their acting must not impose their own ways of acting outside it, just as the single individuals of action and ‘solitary’ affinity groups must not cry betrayal of the idea if brothers and sisters act in tight organized ranks. Of course this is only my point of view for what it’s worth. And to top this off, I’ll say that I piss on your penal code carefree and lighthearted. It matters little what you will decide for me, my fate will stay firmly in my own hands. I am strong, or at least I fancy I am, and your jail and isolation don’t scare me, I’m ready to face your retaliations, never tamed, never surrendered.

Long live FAI-FRI

Long live CCF

Death to the State!

Death to civilization!

Long live Anarchy!!

Alfredo Cospito

Tags: Alfredo CospitoFAI-FRIOperation Scripta Manentanarchists in troubleitalycategory: International
Categories: News

Atlanta, GA: Resisting the Food Sharing Ban

It's Goin Down - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:32

The post Atlanta, GA: Resisting the Food Sharing Ban appeared first on It's Going Down.

Cops in Atlanta claim it’s illegal for us to share food with each other. Earlier this month, a volunteer with Food Not Bombs was charged with a crime for giving food to homeless people without a permit. We do not care what the law or the police say, so we vowed to continue disobeying them. On Sunday we followed through.

Hundreds of people from many backgrounds flooded Hurt Park in downtown Atlanta. Anarchist youth, church groups, homeless veterans, liberals, travelers, BLM activists, people of all ages and genders showed up to participate in the illicit practice of public sharing.

We came prepared to face repression, with copwatch teams on-hand and plans in place for dealing with physical interference by the cops. But bullies are also cowards, so we knew that when faced with huge, vibrant, disobedient crowds, the cops would most likely be too scared to even approach. We were right! The police ceded control of the park, allowing an autonomous festival to occupy the space instead.

People ate home-cooked chili and talked to a group of police abolitionists giving out literature. Someone performed impressive tricks spinning a black flag. A folk musician belted out old labor songs. Homeless musicians played drums, sang, and offered passionate spoken word about unity and revolution.

As the day went on, food, clothes, and other resources continued to arrive in the park, all brought by people we had never met, but who shared our outrage that the city would try to suppress such a basic human activity. Homeless people helped to distribute and manage the resources. The lines between giver and receiver blurred, and for a time we got to enjoy simply being people in the park together.

The cops, developers and politicians dream of a completely sanitized downtown where public space only exists for people to move through on their way to work, school, or to patronize a business. They want downtown to be fun and friendly for tourists and young professionals while simultaneously being hostile and uninhabitable for the rest of us. The homeless, black people, queer youth, and many other marginalized people do not fit into this agenda. The City will try anything to rid itself of these “undesirables”, enlisting the support of police, university officials, the Chamber of Commerce, even the very “non-profit service providers” which claim to serve the homeless.

In illegalizing sharing food, the authorities have made one thing clear: Only outlaws can stand against their agenda. In opposing the authorities, we have discovered that our society is full of outlaws just waiting for their moment to do the right thing. We also have seen that without the authorities, we have the power to care for each other and create something better.

There’s no reason to think this fight is over.  The police are probably waiting for an opportunity to strike again. We have to make sure that when they do, Atlanta is ready to make them regret it!

Thanks to John Ramspott for the photos.  To support Food Not Bombs and other grassroots solidarity efforts in Atlanta, donate here.

Categories: News

Olympia Stand Blockade Raided on the Twelfth Day

It's Goin Down - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:18

The post Olympia Stand Blockade Raided on the Twelfth Day appeared first on It's Going Down.

“the police raid was accompanied by officers in full riot gear and an MRAP, an armored vehicle used by the U.S. military…”

On the morning of Wednesday November 29th, 2017, at approximately 5:30 AM, a joint force of SWAT officers, Olympia police, the Washington State Patrol, Thurston County sheriffs, and Union Pacific police broke up the Olympia Stand blockade on occupied indigenous land of the Medicine Creek Treaty nations, specifically the Nisqually and Squaxin Island Tribes.

We were made aware of the impending raid the day before by an anonymous tip off from within the city, allowing us enough time to evacuate everyone safely from the camp before police arrival without injury or arrests. Nonetheless, the police raid was accompanied by officers in full riot gear and an MRAP (an armored military vehicle used by the U.S. military). Police officers marched through the abandoned camp, supposedly looking for more protesters, tearing down the tents, tarps and temporary structures that were built and maintained throughout the twelve days that the blockade stood. Police with the sheriff’s office were also seen destroying and removing valuables from a nearby homeless encampment that had nothing to do with the blockade. Throughout the morning, people suspected of participating in the blockade were followed and harassed by police and a local non-profit was surveilled.

“Police were also seen destroying and removing valuables from a nearby homeless encampment that had nothing to do with the blockade. Throughout the morning, people suspected of participating in the blockade were followed and harassed by police and a local non-profit was surveilled.”

This raid came on the very same morning that the Olympia Stand Indigenous Caucus was scheduled to meet with the Olympia City Council and the Port of Olympia. The police raid of last year’s Olympia Stand Blockade likewise took place the morning the Indigenous Caucus was scheduled to meet with a representative from Union Pacific Railroad. These are just two more examples of the countless betrayals that indigenous people in North America have faced in the last centuries.

There will be some time before we know for sure what the lasting impacts of this blockade are on our city, the port, our communities, and on the fossil fuel industry that our port aids and abets. What we do know, is that we will claim no easy victories. This fight is not over. Every affinity group, caucus and individual that tirelessly dedicated so much of their lives these past twelve days has a stake in continued resistance to the fossil fuel industry, capitalism and colonialism.

The Libertarian Socialist Caucus (LSC) of the Olympia Stand Blockade would like to reiterate our points of unity: why we are fighting and what we stand for. We speak only for ourselves and represent our own opinions. As the LSC, we want to first and foremost defer to the wishes and guidance of the Indigenous Caucus.

Check out this account of the #olympiablockade raid today.

— Olympia Stand (@Olystand) November 30, 2017

In addition, we aim to put forward a positive libertarian socialist program. To that end the LSC has agreed to the following points of unity:

  1. Consent and dissent from local tribes and urban indigenous people about what is transported through indigenous lands.
  2. No more fossil fuel infrastructure or military shipments through The Port of Olympia.
  3. Horizontal, cooperative, community control over The Port of Olympia, which should include:
  • Free, cooperatively managed housing on land owned by The Port of Olympia, and
  • The use of Port resources for cooperatively managed green energy production.
  1. Ecological restoration of Port shoreline property and of the Deschutes Estuary as a whole, including mitigation of future sea level rise and climate change.
  2. A Just Transition for Port and rail workers to self managed, sustainable jobs, and for the economy of Thurston County, and the world as a whole, to transition to a cooperative, fair and sustainable economy.

We have no faith that the colonial capitalist state will ever accede to these points, but we will stop at nothing less than utopia. Long live the Olympia Commune!




Categories: News

Will Trump's Latest Islamophobic Tweets Impact Court Rulings on His Mostly-Muslim Travel Ban?

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00

Oral arguments are scheduled for next week in both federal appeals court cases of President Trump's proposed travel ban, which blocks various people from eight countries, six of them with Muslim majorities, from entering the United States. Mehdi Hasan, award-winning British journalist and broadcaster at Al Jazeera English, discusses the impact Trump's recent retweets of Islamophobic messages and videos could have on the cases and notes, "This is the way he’s always been."

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump: Joseph Stiglitz on Shared Prosperity Without Protectionism

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00

In the updated edition of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz's new book, Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump, he argues that when Trump became president, he "threw a hand grenade into the global economic order." We speak with Stiglitz about the impact of free trade agreements that Trump has criticized.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Politics From the Pulpit

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00
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Tucked inside the enormous House tax proposal is a provision that would roll back a 63-year-old ban on tax-exempt organizations -- including churches -- from making explicit political endorsements. In 1954, then-Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson proposed the amendment to section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code after a brutal campaign during which a tax-exempt group ran advertisements labeling him a communist. With its passage, Johnson hoped to quiet his opponents. But in decades since, the ban has drawn a bright line between pulpits and political podiums, validating one of this country's founding principles: the separation of church and state.

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

But though House Republicans are threatening to use their tax plan to upend the rule, the Senate version does not contain the change -- so its final passage is far from guaranteed.

Donald Trump promised religious leaders at the National Prayer breakfast in February that he would "get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution."
Last spring, Trump signed an executive order directing the Treasury Department not to penalize individuals or congregations who advocate politically from a religious perspective. But since it stopped short of overturning the part of the amendment that prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing specific political candidates, it failed to truly eliminate the rule. Doing so requires Congress to change the tax code. 

If the tax plan passes, it would allow churches and charities to raise money for political candidates, and create a workaround for campaign disclosure rules.

Motivation to change the rule appears to be political. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center report on religious liberty issues:

  • More than 7 in 10 (71 percent) Americans oppose allowing churches and places of worship to endorse political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status, compared to only 22 percent who favor such a policy.

  • Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to favor allowing churches to endorse candidates (34 percent versus 16 percent, respectively).

  • Strong majorities of Republicans (62 percent) and Democrats (78 percent) reject this idea.

All major religious groups in the country oppose allowing churches to endorse candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status:

  • Only about one-third (36 percent) of white evangelical Protestants favor allowing churches to endorse candidates, compared to a majority (56 percent) who oppose it.

  • Even fewer white mainline Protestants (23 percent), Catholics (25 percent), black Protestants (19 percent) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (12 percent) support churches endorsing political candidates.

Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, an organization which works to maintain separation between church and state, said:

This tax bill will deform, not reform, the tax law that protects our houses of worship … Gutting the law that protects 501(c)(3) (tax-exempt not-for-profit) organizations from candidates pressing for endorsements threatens to destroy our congregations from within over disagreements on partisan campaigns … Pastors and people of faith know that there's nothing free about a pulpit that is bought and paid for by political campaign donations or beholden to partisan interests.

For all the fiery rhetoric, since the Johnson law took effect in 1954 only one case is known to have been brought against a church: During the 1992 campaign, when the the Branch Ministries Church in New York bought newspaper advertisements urging Christians not to vote for Bill Clinton.

Categories: News

UnFounding Father : Why We Need to Stare at You Know Who

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00
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Don't look away. I mean it! Keep on staring just like you've been doing, just like we've all been doing since he rode down that escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 and, while you have your eyes on him, I'll tell you exactly why you shouldn't stop.

To begin with, it's time to think of Donald J. Trump in a different light.  After all, isn't he really our own UnFounding Father?  While the Founding Fathers were responsible for two crucial documents, the Declaration of Independence (1,458 words) and the Constitution (4,543 words), our twenty-first century UnFounding Father only writes passages of 140 characters or less. (Sad!)  Other people have authored "his" books.  ("I put lipstick on a pig," said one of his ghostwriters.)  He reportedly doesn't often read books himself (though according to ex-wife Ivana, he once had a volume of Hitler's speeches by his bedside).  He's never seen a magazine cover he didn't want to be on (or at least that he didn't want to claim, however spuriously, he had decided not to be on).  He recently indicated that he thought the Constitution had at least one extra article, "Article XII," which he promised to "protect," even though it didn't exist.  (My best guess: he believed it said, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved neither to the States respectively, nor to the people, but to Trump and his heirs and there will be no inheritance tax on them.")

None of this should be surprising since, for him, the Constitution is undoubtedly a hearsay document, as is much of the rest of life.  Still, at 71, who could doubt that he himself has the constitution of an ox, thanks perhaps to those Big Macs he reportedly adores, the Trump Steaks he tried to peddle, and the taco bowls ("I love Hispanics!") that he once swore he gobbles down.  As someone capable of changing his mind on almost anything (other than himself), his attention span tends to be short.  So briefing him on the state of the world, if you happen to be in the U.S. Intelligence Community, is evidently a challenging task. You reportedly want to keep it, well, brief -- no more than a page per topic, three topics per visit, lots of visuals.  And don't forget to skip the "nuance," as well as any dissenting or conflicting views (especially on him, since that's the rare subject he truly cares about).

His daily briefings reportedly have only a quarter of the information President Obama's had, perhaps because the world's gotten simpler since those godforsaken days.  Thank you, Rocket Man!  And to give him credit where it's due, he's done a remarkably thorough job of turning the Oval Office into a business venture for himself and his kids.  (Hey, if you happen to be a foreign diplomat, lobbyist, industry group of any sort, cabinet member, or White House adviser who wants anything from the Oval Office, let me recommend the new Trump International Hotel just down the block on Pennsylvania Avenue for a meal or an event!  There's no better way to curry favor, even if you happen to be an Indian businessman and there's no curry on the menu.  Don't miss those $24 chocolate cigars!)  For the rest of us, we've gained immeasurably from his business ventures since his election.  Otherwise, how would we know what the once-obscure word "emoluments" actually meant. 

Thank you, big guy!

He's Da Man!

Keep in mind, though, that none of this makes him any less historic.  As a start, it's indisputable that no one has ever gotten the day-after-day media coverage he has.  Not another president, general, politician, movie star, not even O.J. after the car chase. He's Da Man!

Since that escalator ride, he's been in the news (and in all our faces) in a way once unimaginable. Cable news talking heads and talk-show hosts can't stop gabbling about him.  It's the sort of 24/7 attention that normally accompanies terrorist attacks in the United States or Europe, presidential assassinations, or major hurricanes.  But with him, we're talking about more or less every hour of every day for almost two-and-a-half years without a break.  It's been no different on newspaper front pages.  No one's ever stormed the headlines more regularly.  And I haven't even mentioned the social media universe.  There, he has, if anything, an even more obsessional audience of tens of millions for his daily tweets, which instantly become The News and then, of course, the fodder for those yakking cableheads and talk-show hosts.  Think of him not so much as a him at all but as a perpetual motion machine of breaking headlines.

Part of that's certainly attributable to the fact that no presidential candidate or president has ever had his knack for attracting the cameras and gluing eyeballs.  Give him credit for a media version of horse sense that's remarkable.  It's a talent of a special sort fit for a special moment.  What catnip is for cats, he is for TV cameras. He was the Kardashian candidate and now he's the Kardashian president.

But that's the lesser part of the tale.  To grasp why we can't help staring at him, why we essentially have no choice but to do so, you need to understand something else: this sort of attention hasn't been a fluke.  It doesn't represent a Trumpian black hole in time or an anomaly in our history, and neither does he.  Of course, he's Donald J. Trump in all his... well, not glory, but [you fill in the word here].  However, he's also a symptom.  He didn't create this particular media moment or this American world of ours either.  He just grasped how it worked at some intuitive level and rode it (or perhaps it rode him) all the way to the White House. 

He's gotten so much attention in part because he rose in (or, in his case, descended into) a changed media landscape that most of us hadn't even begun to grasp.  He didn't, however, create that landscape either.  If anything, it created him.  What he did was make himself the essence of it.  He was what a news media in crisis needed, as staffs were being decimated, finances challenged by the online world, reporters disappearing.  He came on the scene, politically speaking, just when a once-upon-a-time sense of the "news" was morphing into so many focus groups on what would glue eyeballs, while coverage was increasingly being recalibrated for a series of designated 24/7 events, each generally filled with horror, fear, and plenty of weeping people.  Think: terror attacks, mass killings, and anything involving "extreme weather" with all its photogenic damage.  

By the time The Donald set foot on that escalator, our world of news was already devolving into a set of 24/7 zombie apocalypse events.  Otherwise, he and his rants, his red face and strange orange comb-over wouldn't have made much sense at all.  He would have been an unimaginable candidate before the media went into crisis, experienced what might be thought of as its own news inequality gap, and began refocusing on a few singular events of particularly resonant horror.  These, in turn, regularly wiped away most of the rest of what was actually happening on this planet, while giving media units with smaller staffs and fewer resources the opportunity to put all their attention and energy into a set of eye-gluing, funds- and staff-preserving spectacles.  As CBS Chairman Les Moonves put it bluntly during the 2016 presidential campaign, speaking of the focus on Trump's candidacy and antics, "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS... I've never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going."

In the end, it wasn't Trump who brought it on; it was the media.  And all of this took place in the midst of the rise of a social media scene in which "fake news" was becoming the order of the day and millions of eyeballs could be reached directly by any conspiracy nut or, for that matter, presidential candidate with the moxie to do it.

It was, in other words, the perfect moment for a billionaire salesman-cum-conman-cum-reality-TV-sensation to descend that escalator.  Donald Trump was neither a media mistake, nor an out-of-space-and-time experience.  He was a man made for our unfounding media moment.

The President as Chameleon

And this same way of thinking about him is applicable to so much else.  As our UnFounding Father, he's inconceivable without an American world that was already experiencing various kinds of incipient unfounding. 

Whatever he might now be fathering, he himself was the child, for instance, of a distinctly plutocratic moment.  If we have our first billionaire in the White House, it's only because by 2015 this country's democratic politics had devolved (with a little helping hand from the Supreme Court) into a set of 1%, or perhaps even .01%, elections. 

An American inequality gap that first began to almost imperceptibly widen in the 1970s has, by now, reached Grand Canyon proportions.  Before it hits its ultimate moment, it may make the nineteenth-century version of a Gilded Age look like an era of moderation.  Since 1980, stunningly enough, the share of national income of the richest 1% has doubled.  If all that American wealth hadn't gushed upward, if it hadn't produced a raft of billionaires, as well as hordes of multi-millionaires and millionaires, with so many interests to protect, we would never have experienced such prodigious top-down funding of elections; the building of a 1% democracy, that is, would have been inconceivable.  If the Republican Party hadn't been sold to the Koch Brothers and the Democratic Party hadn't gone all neoliberal on us, can you really imagine working class voters putting their faith in a billionaire to make America great again for them? I doubt it.

Similarly, if this country hadn't been pursuing its never-ending war on terror so assiduously and unsuccessfully these last 16 years, while Washington was being transformed into a war capital, the national security state was rising to prominence as a kind of shadow government, and the funding of the U.S. military hadn't become the only truly bipartisan issue in Congress, Trumpism would never have been conceivable. In our American world, The Donald's tendency toward authoritarianism is often treated as if it were a unique attribute of his.  To believe that, however, you would have to overlook the growth in this century of a distinctly authoritarian spirit in Washington.  You would have to ignore what it meant for the national security state to be ever more embedded in our ruling city. You would have to forget about the American intelligence community's development of an historically unprecedented surveillance machinery aimed not just at the world but at American citizens as well.

The Donald's surprising decision to surround himself with "my generals" in a fashion never before seen in Washington, even in wartime, was treated in a similarly anomalous fashion.  And yet, given the Washington he entered, it was anything but.  During the election campaign, candidate Trump referred to those same generals as "rubble," while deriding the losing wars they had been fighting for so long.  He seemed in some way to grasp that this was a country and a citizenry increasingly being unmade by war.

Still, it took him next to no time as president to tack to where Washington had been heading since 9/11.  As I've argued elsewhere, he might better be thought of as our chameleon president: a Democrat who became a fervent Republican, a billionaire businessman who somehow convinced rural white working class voters that he was their man, a former globalizer who's taken off like a bat out of hell after globalizing trade pacts of every sort. He's a man ready to alter his positions to fit the moment when it comes to everything except himself.

The Dumbfounding Father of Twenty-First-Century America

Let me mention just one more aspect of this Trumpian moment: climate-change denial.  At a time of such planetary stress, in his fervent promotion of a fossil-fuelized America -- of coal miningpipelines, and fracking, among other things -- in his essential rejection of the very idea of climate change, in his appointment of one climate-change denier after another to key positions in his administration, in his decision to make the United States the only country on the planet not to take part in the Paris climate agreement, he seems like an almost inexplicable manifestation of anti-scientific frenzy.  And yet think back.  He's now the head of the party that, in recent years, sold itself to Big Energy, lock, stock, and barrel.  This, at the very moment when the oil giants were suppressing their own research on climate change and pouring money into organizations that would promote climate-change-denial disinformation campaigns.  By default, he has now become the head of what can only be called the party of climate-change denial.  In that sense, he couldn't be more in the spirit of his times.

Okay, it's true. He's presidentially bizarre in ways no one expects a leader to be (other than, perhaps, some strange autocratic ruler in Central Asia).  And he's certainly potentially dangerous.  But he's something else, too: just what late twentieth and twenty-first century America prepared us for (even though we didn't know it).  He's the essence of where this country now is and seems to be headed.

So don't imagine that he's getting too much attention in the land of the rich and home of the craven.  Instead, look at him carefully.  Now, stare at him again.  And keep looking.  If you don't take him in, you won't understand what this moment actually is.  Yes, he's the Dumbfounding Father of twenty-first-century America and that's distracting, but he's also the ultimate symptom of the unfounding of this nation, of the moment when -- to slightly adapt a Cole Porter line -- Plymouth Rock finally landed on us.

Truly, don't look away from the unbelievable figure now in the White House because how else will you know where we are? And until we grasp that, until we understand that he isn't an aberration but the zeitgeist and that simply removing him from the Oval Office won't solve our problems, we aren't anywhere at all.

Categories: News

Has Trump's Presidency Triggered the Movement Against Sexual Harassment?

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00
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The cascade of sexual harassment accusations over the past month has moved from high-profile men to lesser-known people in sectors such as higher education and the restaurant industry. In an important and fundamental way, the ground beneath us has shifted: Victims everywhere have lost their patience and their fear, and are finding willing listeners. 

A question worth asking is: Why has it shifted now?

#Metoo and Beyond

The current outpouring of allegations may seem sudden, but it isn't surprising if you've been tracking the massive swell in women's activism over the past year, as women's studies scholars like me are doing

Yes, the viral #MeToo campaign has been instrumental in raising this issue. According to Facebook, nearly half the people in the United States are friends with someone who posted a message about experiences of assault or harassment. But #MeToo draws its steam from other collective efforts. Even before #MeToo, the 3-million-strong private Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, founded just before Election Day 2016, witnessed hundreds of thousands of women breaking their silence about gender-based violence, among other topics. The Women's March on Jan. 21 was the largest single-day globally coordinated public gathering in world history.

Over the past year, there's been a clear spike in the number of US women running for political office. Emily's List reported that in 2017, more than 16,000 women expressed interest in running, compared to the 920 women who did so in 2015 and 2016 combined. 

I would argue there's a single thread running through all these phenomena: a fierce outrage about the election of Donald Trump.

Women activists are, of course, responding to a range of economic, social and political issues that a Trump presidency raises. But one of the most galling provocations is that Trump acknowledged being a sexual predator and faced no actual consequences. He was recorded saying that he used his star status to forcibly kiss and grab women — and still ascended to the White House. He has been accused of sexual assault three times — by an ex-wife, business associate and a minor — in lawsuits that were later withdrawn. Sixteen women have accused him of sexual harassment. In my opinion, the reason none of these accusations has gathered traction is because of competing news cycle distractions and the pressures his accusers face. 

For many, Trump represents the ultimate unpunished sexual predator. Right after the election, therapists and counseling centers were reportedly flooded with patients -- especially women patients -- seeking help with stress and processing past sexual traumas. Now, one year into the Trump administration, with the ballast provided by women's feverish organizing and the instant power of social media, I see the initial anxious response to the election mutating into something else: a collective emboldening. Even if victims of sexual predation cannot affect this presidency, they can try to fix other problems. Trump has made the comeuppance of other powerful men feel more urgent.

There's a sociological concept that captures what's afoot: "horizontal violence." This term describes situations where people turn on people in their own lives when provoked by forces beyond their control. The Brazilian philosopher Paolo Freire used the term in 1968 to describe substituting a difficult powerful target with a more accessible one like peers or kin. Those who use horizontal violence are typically members of oppressed groups without easy access to economic resources or institutional channels of expression such as the law or the media. One example is when low-income men who are experiencing job instability take out their frustration on intimate partners

It is, of course, inaccurate to term what sexual harassment victims are doing "violence," so a better term in this situation might be "horizontal action." It is also true that most allegations involve men who have greater power than their victims; in this sense, the action is not exactly horizontal. Nonetheless, the fact that victims are naming their colleagues in such great numbers suggests an awakening: They no longer want to protect their professions and careers nor play along with open secrets. It feels important to topple those perpetrators within reach. Trump's impunity has, I suggest, provoked the impatience and fury at the heart of this movement.

This speculation is, of course, hard to prove, since the private injuries of victims can sufficiently explain the anger they feel. Victims who have spoken out might not openly describe Trump as the first cause for their frustration or bravery. But the frequency with which Trump is described as a trigger is telling. We need to theorize, on a cultural scale, why this collective disruption has happened now rather than, say, two years ago, when Bill Cosby was accused by multiple women, or last year, when Roger Ailes was deposed. 

As we dissect the implications of what some call "the Weinstein effect," I suggest we notice something else in the very air we breathe: a deep frustration that a self-confessed sexual predator remains -- thus far -- immune.

Ashwini Tambe received funding from SSHRC and NEH for research on girlhood in South Asian history.

The Conversation

Categories: News

Checking In

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00
Categories: News

Island of Light, Island of Shadow

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00
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"Here's where the hurricane tore off my roof," she pointed upward. We look at exposed wood beams under open sky. "It was horrible," Ruth crossed her arms. "Doors shook. Water came into the house."

Her son tugged on her pant leg and she lifted him. "We hid in the bathroom." Patting his head, she leaned on the balcony to study the island. It was like a furious giant had stomped and clawed the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico. Trees were snapped. Power lines, ripped. Mudslides bled over roads.

"No electricity. No water. All day to get anything done," she said as she rocked her son. "I don't think it's going to get better anytime soon." 

Hurricane Maria

The storm fed on heat. Like an angry spirit seeking release, it climbed the sky. Warm. Sluggish. Slow. Hungry for fury. It found more than wind on the ocean. It tasted carbon, the gaseous exhale of civilization. 

It fed on the heat spawned by a billion cars and thousands of jets that crossed the planet. Awakened to its power, the storm screamed like a newborn, its 175 mile-per-hour winds lashed waves upon waves.

Hurricane Maria's eye opened, seeing a path. This fury, half made by nature, half by man. It violently spun in space, cursed hot breaths of lightning and storm. She drew darkness over the islands as the poor nailed wood over windows, heard of her immensity and said her name over and over … Maria.

New York City

"Are they safe?" I asked.

"I called," Mom said. "But no one picks up the phone." On screen, a NASA video showed a white foamy spiral around a black hole. Like the sky had been unplugged and all the weight and force of the atmosphere drained into the eye.

Everywhere Hurricane Maria passed went dark and then, slowly, photos surfaced. Dominica. Bahamas. Wrecked. Homes like piles of splinters. Roads cracked. Rivers gushed through the center of town. People digging through wreckage.

It churned over the Caribbean until its dark eye slammed into Puerto Rico and then vanished. An eerie quiet followed. No news came from the island. What happened to our family? What happened to Jesus, my mother's first cousin? His wife Yeya? Their kids?

"Mom, did you hear anything?" I asked.

"No one answers," she said again. "They didn't have much."

San Juan

As the JetBlue plane turned to the airport, I saw homes with blue tarps for roofs. Trees stripped of leaves. Warehouses, filled with shipping containers. Huge chunks of torn earth. When the wheels hit the runway, we cheered.

Outside the hot, damp air felt like a childhood memory wrapped on skin. It had been 30 years since I was in Puerto Rico. My family fled long ago. My grandfather ran from an abusive father. My grandmother from rural poverty. He died after I was born, glaucoma blinded him by the time I was a baby. He held me regardless, a new life in old hands.

Grandma and I lived here briefly. I spoke Spanish and chased salamanders up the walls. The jungle was my playground. We left, again for New York. My Spanish faded but the childhood joy glowed like an ember.

Growing up, I learned that Puerto Rico was a colony, its people and land stolen and stolen again. Shame replaced memory. I spat Spanish from my mouth. A gulf opened between who I was and who I am that deepened for three decades until the island was ransacked by a hurricane. I came back to save what I had loved and lost.

Driving around potholes and under dead traffic lights, I saw storm-beaten buildings. The windows looked like bruises. Street signs were folded by the hands of the hurricane.

I found Caritas de Puerto Rico, they welcomed me in, gave me a plate of food and testified to the island's pain. Danny Rojos, a volunteer, shared how a client, a homeless man, lived on the beach. "He ran for safety as the hurricane ripped roofs off," he said, eyes wide and unblinking. "The zinc roofs flew through the air like knives. Even now, he can't sleep. Too traumatized. That's just one story."

The staff said Padre Monserrate could see me. We sat at the table and he talked in measured words. I asked about relief efforts. A hundred people a day came here for food, water and prayer.

"Anyone can come get a meal, water. It was and is still needed. The first days after the hurricane were horrible," he said. "This generation has seen something they've never seen before. They never saw neighbors dying like this. Never saw helicopters having to deliver food. It forced us to care about each other, more." He tapped his cellphone sarcastically. "We've become so individualistic."

He gave me numbers for churches in Arecibo that delivered aid to towns tucked in the island's mountains. I left and in the car, got a text from Pablo Borges, an activist friend. We planned to meet at the To Go food store.

Night had come. San Juan was a city of shadows. Passing car lights showed couples or lone men or families in brief portraits. Generators hummed as gasoline musk mixed with the sea breeze. Under fluorescent-lit stores, people charged cell phones and talked but often stopped and looked into the darkness as if trying to see a future.

I parked and met Pablo, young and wiry, a bushy beard under restive eyes. We went into the store. He grabbed beers and we drank outside as partygoers gathered on the dark sidewalk. Pablo gestured around, "It's a stateless island. It's a shock to my mom's generation, they always thought the feds would take care of them. Corruption? Drugs? The feds would clean it up. Now, they pulled back and we're on our own."

Light and shadow took turns between us. Cars passed by, illuminating our faces in mid-sentence. We talked of Puerto Rico. We talked of the weight crushing the island, how the colonial elite had been replaced by a business elite. Anger drove his breath. The beers rose and fell like pendulums in our hands.

"Electricity has been failing for a long time," he said. "Now this company Whitefish got a multi-million dollar contract to fix our grid and they had only two full-time employees. They'll hire gringos and none of the money is going to stay here. None. The rich are getting richer and the poor are being left behind."

He took a swig. "There's mobilizing going on. Go see Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas, they've been fighting the exploitation of Puerto Rico for 30 years."


"Jesus y Yeya," I shouted through the gate. A large woman dressed in a simple gown came from the house. Wincing at stiff knees, she opened it and hugged me. Thirty years apart, crushed by a hug.

She didn't speak much English. I barely had enough Spanish to say my name right. Or ask directions. I had driven up and down Bayamón looking for a house with a large mango tree. By sheer dumb luck, a guy told me I was one street away. Sure enough, I found it.

She showed me the backyard, the mango tree was chopped down to a nub. The hurricane had broken its branches. Debris littered the yard. They had no generator, no electricity, just relentless heat during the day. Yeya leaned on a chair, squeezed my shoulder and repeated, "Terminado. Terminado."

Her voice was tear-choked but she waved the grief away. Jesus, my grandmother's nephew, rolled in on a wheelchair. He had white hair and a stern face. One arm was a twisted claw from a heart attack and he lifted it to hug me. They fed me coffee, crackers and cheese. I told them I was going to the mountains to report on conditions. While they said be careful, I took my phone and dialed mom's number.

Handing it to Jesus, I saw him press it to his ear as if he could bring her right to his side. His voice rose and fell over the years separating them. He gave the phone to Yeya who laughed and talked, her eyes dancing in her face. They tied their lives together again and our family story flickered like Christmas lights.

I had to leave. Jesus pressed a "thank you" deep into me. Yeya held my face and kissed my cheeks. I got in the car and saw Jesus had wheeled himself out to the front porch to watch me go.


The muscleman pulled the cables, zipping the shopping cart across the riverbed as a remix of Queen's "We Will Rock You" blasted from truck speakers. A crew from the radio station Magic 97.3 cheered as they caught it. On the other side, families waved on the ledge of a broken bridge. Massive pieces of it lay on the rocks below.

"There's 25 families stranded on the other side," said Zamaris Rodriquez, one of the staff. "No electricity. No water."

We paused whenever the shopping cart wobbled on cables over the river. Rodriquez had a bullhorn and shouted instructions. Across the chasm, the cart wobbled and then was caught by outreaching hands.

"We come to help," she said. "This is the first time a hurricane shut down the whole island. We had no nature left. All the cows and chickens died. What food was under the soil made it but everything else was wiped out."

The house music thumped through the valley. We both bobbed our heads to it. She sheepishly shrugged. "We need to keep our spirits up." The staff got back into the trucks, Puerto Rican flags fluttering on the hoods as they drove off.

On the other side, people took the supplies home. I peered over the ledge at the pieces of broken bridge, immense blocks of concrete that had been snapped and thrown downstream by raging waters. Here in Utuado, the hurricane descended with primeval force. Breaking. Bending. Smashing.

I walked on a road where homes lay dark, trees ripped up; roots exposed like the tendons of a torn limb. Overhead, power lines spooled from poles. Back at the car, I felt the weight of devastation. My chest was tight. The pain on every face poured into my spirit and the body instinctively tightened to keep it from blurring the mind. 

Someone shouted. An older man asked why I parked at the abandoned house. I told him I was a reporter with family in Bayamón. He looked me up and down, went back and came out with coffee, cheese and bread. I was stunned by his kindness.

I drove to Utuado's center, parked at the National Guard's office and asked to see the officer in charge. The young men awkwardly pointed at Jorge Nieves, who laughed at his good luck and agreed to talk.

"Everything was destroyed," he said while pulling up a chair for me. "In the first 10 days, we went on 53 missions and found people with injuries. Some needed oxygen but had no electricity. We got them generators. Airlifted them out. Dropped off food. We were working 22-hour days."

I asked him what could have been done better. "The mayor has put security first, health second," he said. "But every day we see more people with medical needs. There's a lot of diabetes." I thought of the cities with no electricity and asked him about Puerto Rico's future.

He looked away, then back at me. "People are leaving, and it's going to make it worse. We're not going to have enough manpower to rebuild. Already, so many on the island are old or disabled or poor."

He asked me where I was staying. I said in my car. He brought me to the kitchen, gave me plates of food wrapped in aluminum and bottles of water.

Driving away, I looked at the mountain where people lived in the dark. Turning on thin roads that coiled tight, I went up, up, up. On the side were wrecked homes and families talking in the street. A few looked at me suspiciously.

I parked and a pot-bellied man walked toward me as he cleaned a knife. He was scared but tried to hide it. I told him I was a reporter. He put away the blade, called to his friends. One of them said, "We have no electricity, no water. Too many people are leaving. If you have money, you go. The poor have to stay."

They pointed to Ruth Montero who lived down the street with two boys. I walked over and she checked me out and waved me in. She gave me a tour of the house as her story, spilled out in one big wave. "Here's where the hurricane tore off my roof," she said. "Doors shook. Water came into the house."

One of her sons came by and she picked him up. "We hid in the bathroom. Afterwards, it was so sad. There were no trees. Mudslides everywhere. No exit. We were out of power. I searched for water. People put pipes in the hillside, drank, showered and did laundry. They're still doing it now."

We looked out from the balcony. Night had fallen. The hills were black mounds under a purple sky. A few lights shone and people walked by like actors on distant stages. Generators hummed under the symphony of coquis, chirping in the gloam. It was a beauty maybe only briefly visible between bouts of hunger and panic.

She lit a candle. "I was thinking of leaving but I don't think I can make it. It's scary to start over. And my parents live next door. But we have to go through a lot to get a little bit of help from the government. The employees at the agency just talk to each other while we wait."

Her youngest son squirmed in her lap. Her older one rode his three-wheeler in circles in the dark. As she talked, the candle flame wavered and the shadows of the family seemed to jump on the walls as if trying to escape.

"We need help. Trump cut Medicare and it's less now. We deserve to be treated like U.S. citizens," she said. I asked what message she wanted to give The Indypendent's readers. Staring across the table, she said, "We are suffering."

I got my things to leave, said goodbye, but in the car, I looked at the food from the National Guard and at her moving in the window. Getting out, I brought it to her.


"Go ahead." Maribel pointed at the switch. "Turn it on." I did and light beamed down. "It's solar-powered." She proudly pointed at the street lamps of Casa Pueblo. "When the hurricane knocked out the electricity, we still had power." I held my hand under the glow. Weightless. Warm. Free. It was like holding the future.

Hours earlier, I woke up in my car's backseat. I saw deep night. Stars scattered like seeds. Each one a bright grain because Utuado had no power, no light. The island had been thrown back into time's abyss.

Driving to Adjuntas was like being in a submarine as my headlights passed over wreckage. Empty homes. Abandoned cars. Sagging power lines. Guardrails washed away. Roads crumbled into a cliff drop. In the absence of people, the nightmare future was more visible. Is this Puerto Rico decades from now? An island too hurricane-battered to live on?

By sunrise, I was in Adjuntas and went to Casa Pueblo's big hall where Maribel showed me a photo of the first meeting in 1980 when one man showed up. The next time they threw a party and hundreds came. Casa Pueblo united the people to stop a strip mine that would have stabbed the earth. Then a pipeline that could have spilled poison. Now they drove trucks to nearby towns handing out water and food.

"We want to build more," Maribel said of the prototype street lamp. "Make an industry for the people to have jobs. We can protect the island from climate change."

Someone called to Maribel. Time to take supplies to the towns.

I followed them as they gave water to families. Tension left people's faces as they took the supplies. Laughter. Smiles. Eyes brightened with relief. I realized this glowing gratitude was everywhere on my trip. Innumerable acts of kindness had scattered love like seeds for a future Puerto Rico. It was as if I had woken from a deep night and saw the people themselves were stars.


The beach was empty. Storm debris littered the sand. Here was southern Puerto Rico, where hurricanes hurled wind and water at the land. Here's where I played as a child.

Thirty years. Thirty damn years. I'd been gone too long. I waded into the sea and cupped the water as if it was my own blood, felt each wave as if it was my own heartbeat, breathed in the breeze as if it was my breath. The trees were my bones. The sand, my skin. The leaves, my hair. The island had poured so much into me that it had become my larger body.

I lay on the waves as clouds darkened the sky. They foretold all the other storms to come. How much time do we have before gigantic hurricanes drive everyone to the mainland? Can we strengthen the island? Can we survive a changing Earth?

And aren't millions being forced to ask these questions? Families fled cyclones in Asia. They fled drought in Africa. They fled fires in the American West. The farther they traveled, the more they looked back to the land that was like their own flesh and blood.


"Señora," I called as Yeya walked out and smiled painfully at knees, still sore. She shook her finger at me.

"Señorita," she made a mischievous eye-twinkle. We laughed. Jesus wheeled over. I told them about the bridge, Casa Pueblo and the beach. They listened, catching my glow more than my words. I said it was time to get a generator and that the family could pitch in. 

I unfolded cash and asked Jesus to take it. He shook his head. Yeya looked at him knowingly and took it for him. Neighbors came by. Upon learning who I was, they asked, "New York? What are you doing here?" I told them of the trip. And they nodded politely, not wanting to relive their hurricane night.

I got up to leave and Yeya gave me her phone number. Jesus embraced me for a long time as if to say, in case you don't make it back before I die, I love you. She kissed my forehead as if to say, you are my other son.

Hours later, I stood at the airport. One by one passengers showed their ID to the agent, turned and waved goodbye to weeping relatives. My eyes burned wet. My throat locked. I wanted to stay and rebuild the island. But I had a full life waiting for me in New York. When the time came, I held out my ID to the agent too.

The Next Storm

From the plane, I studied the sky and knew the next hurricane was already being spoonfed. The exhaust from this plane and all planes and cars, factories and farms were heating the oceans. In a year, another hurricane season will begin, another angry spirit will spin, slow and blind at first, then faster and faster until its eye opens.

It will careen through the Caribbean, bouncing off islands. It will shriek 100 mile-per-hour plus winds. It will lash homes, blast bridges and blow rivers off course. It will blow human lives off course.

People will stumble into a quiet morning of devastation. And face life or death. Modern civilization has turned the Earth against us. Death is here now. Death is chasing us inland. Death is forcing us from home. Life means a revolution against a system that has been embedded in us for hundreds of years. 

We have to make a choice. I leaned close to the window. The shadow of the plane rippled on the clouds.

The newspaper Naomi Klein calls "utterly unique," full of insightful dispatches from around the world, The Indypendent offers a fresh take on today's events.

Categories: News

Without a Hearing and Amid Protests, Senate Budget Panel Passes Tax Bill

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00
 Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)Protesters demonstrate near the full Senate budget committee markup of the tax reform legislation on Capital Hill November 28, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)   In these troubling and surreal times, honest journalism is more important than ever. Help us keep real news flowing: Make a donation to Truthout today.

Senate Republicans' $1.4 trillion tax bill was narrowly passed out of the Budget Committee in a party-line vote, clearing its final hurdle before what will likely be contentious consideration in the full upper chamber.

As with its passage earlier this month out of the Senate Finance Committee, the legislation was approved by the budget panel on Tuesday in a 12-11 vote, without first holding a hearing on its impact.

The committee's ranking member, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lashed out at the hastiness with which the bill was being considered.

"This is one of the most important pieces of legislation to come before this committee in recent years, and I have to tell you that I am extremely disappointed that you have allocated only 15 minutes for debate," Sanders said.

"That is wrong and it is wrong that the budget committee has not yet held a single hearing on this tax bill -- not one," the Senator added.

Sanders went on to call the tax cut proposal "disastrous and unfair." He cited a recent CBO analysis of the plan, which found that due to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and the expiration of other provisions, the bill would actually increase taxes on millions of middle class Americans.

Sanders went on to note that further analysis of the legislation shows that 62 percent of the tax benefits would flow to just the top 1 percent of Americans.

Though Republicans have been intent on legislating with speed, Tuesday's markup was interrupted by protestors. Committee chairman Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) briefly delayed the hearing while Capitol Police officers cleared dissenters from the room.

During the roll call vote, however, multiple individuals could be heard shouting over Senators with chants of "kill the bill" and "stop the tax scam."

The legislation could be considered in the full Senate as early as next week. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can only afford two Republican defections in order to secure passage of the bill through reconciliation.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Steve Daines (R-MT) already expressed reservations about supporting the bill, saying they wanted more tax cuts for businesses included.

Johnson, however, supported the measure in Tuesday's committee vote. Daines is not on the Senate Budget Committee.

Categories: News

How Three Generations Experienced Segregated American Education

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00

In this excerpt from her book Cutting School, Noliwe Rooks describes her family history and three generations' experience of racial, economic and educational inequality in the United States. That history, together with her own experiences growing up in two different school systems, has led Rooks to understand "the tremendous influence of the segregated history of American education on our educational present." 

 Spencer Platt / Getty Images)Thousands of students, parents and educators rally in Brooklyn demanding an end to what they describe as separate and unequal education in New York City schools on October 7, 2015, in New York City. The massive rally follows the release of report 'A Tale of Two School Systems' last August in which documentation showed that black and hispanic students are increasingly confined to some of the worst performing city schools. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Why are schools in the United States more segregated than they have been since the mid-twentieth century? In Cutting School, a book that Naomi Klein calls "astounding" and Bill Ayers calls "smart" and "wise," Noliwe Rooks delivers a timely indictment of the corporate takeover and dismantling of public education. Order your copy today by making a donation to Truthout!

In the following excerpt from Cutting School, Noliwe Rooks describes her family history and three generations' experience of racial, economic and educational inequality. That history, together with her own experiences growing up in two different school systems, has led Rooks to understand "the tremendous influence of the segregated history of American education on our educational present."

I am the child and grandchild of educators on both sides of my family. My mother was born in Texarkana, Texas. Her great-aunt, a woman I grew up calling Grandma Isabelle, was raising my mother when she and her husband, Bill, decided to join the flow out of the South during the great migration. They settled in San Francisco in the late 1950s, my teenage mother along with them.

My Grandma Isabelle did what she termed "maid's work," sometimes for white families, sometimes in hospitals, up until her death in the 1980s. Her husband, my "Uncle Bill," worked a variety of odd jobs. However, more than what he did to earn a living, what I most recall about him was how he was able to impose his will on the hard, rocky ground in the back of their small, two- bedroom, one-bath home in the Hunters Point area of San Francisco. In defiance of the sky that was often gray and the chill of the fog-kissed wind, he made a garden grow tomatoes and okra and collard greens and cabbage.

Neither Grandma Isabelle nor Uncle Bill graduated from high school. They never even went. In the 1930s at the intersection of rural Texas and Arkansas -- two heavily white-supremacist and segregated states -- funding,  access, and support for Black education took a backseat to doing backbreaking work as the means of survival. For their only child, Isabelle and Bill thought the public schools of San Francisco were a yellow brick road toward a more economically and socially secure place in America.

I cannot fully imagine what they must have thought when my mother, the first in her family to attend college, jeopardized her scholarly pursuits by immersing herself in the Black student protest movement at San Francisco State in the early 1960s. This was a movement formed in part to demand that both the state and federal governments honor their commitments to financially supporting education for the poor, people of color, and all disenfranchised students. For the movement, education was a political weapon in the cause for freedom. Members began tutoring programs in the ghettos of the Bay Area with a curriculum that linked individual educational freedoms to a collective narrative about justice and the role of knowledge in wresting loose the promise of the so-called American Dream for those who needed it most. For my mother's parents, educational access could lead to economic uplift and racial equity; for my mother and many others of her generation, the goal was to achieve more than equality -- they were fighting for racial justice.

On the paternal side of my family tree, my grandfather was the principal at the segregated North Ward Elementary School in Clearwater, Florida, where my grandmother was a teacher. Though they met in Clearwater, they grew up in different parts of Florida where their families farmed. Because they had "bettered" themselves and their situation through education, they truly believed that it was a vehicle through which each subsequent generation could rise up through the ranks of a Black, middle-class, segregated society. Education had the potential to remake the future for their children.

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At the time, the idea of fully integrating into white American society did not factor heavily into their thinking about the importance of upward mobility. While recognizing that they needed a certain amount of access to resources and opportunities guarded by white privilege and "anti-Black" Jim Crow-style racism, they did not imagine that such desires would necessitate leaving Black communities behind to live and work in white ones. They didn't think whites would ever allow full integration. Like many Black folks, they were also unsure that they, themselves, would want it.

In addition to his role as a principal, in the late 1950s my grandfather led a ten-year -- and ultimately successful -- effort to integrate the teachers' union in Florida. He wanted Black teachers to be eligible for benefits, to receive equal pay, and to have the opportunity for career advancement and job security. He paid a price for his organizing. He was shot at a number of times over the years. His home was firebombed. His life was repeatedly threatened, as were his job, the lives of his wife and son (my grandmother and father), and the lives of the teachers with whom he worked. He did not romanticize integration, but still saw education as being important for community self-reliance, uplift, and respect of Black Americans.

As for me, given my parents' custody agreement following their divorce, my school years were divided almost equally between the newly integrated schools in Florida -- where my classmates were overwhelmingly white -- and schools in San Francisco, where my classrooms were for the most part of color, or all Black. In both places, I lived in Black communities. That experience, and my family history, led me to understand the tremendous influence of the segregated history of American education on our educational present.

In our current moment, the type of education, the quality of the school buildings, the experience of the teachers, and the ability to graduate are vastly different depending on the racial and economic makeup of one's community. It is apartheid a system that is, at its core, organized by physically separating racial groups and then privileging one racial group over another (a construct that cannot be disentangled from social class). Educational apartheid has high social costs. As discussed in the pages that follow, we can right this wrong, but first we have to take full account of the ways in which race and profit-driven interests in education have negatively impacted the futures of so many of our nation's youth. This book is a step in that direction.

Copyright (2017), Noliwe Rooks. Not to be reposted without permission of the publisher, The New Press.

Categories: News

The Internet Is Freedom, and It Is Under Attack

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00
 MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images)People protest during a rally to protect Net Neutrality as they voice their opposition to the impending FCC vote, outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California, on November 28, 2017. (Photo: MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images)

Today, the internet stands at the apex of the technology used to share and store information. Within its wires, motherboards and towering servers is the literal sum of all human knowledge. This is an intolerable threat to the powerful. The attack on net neutrality is a blow to not only individual freedoms, but to human progress itself. 

 MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images)People protest during a rally to protect Net Neutrality as they voice their opposition to the impending FCC vote, outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California, on November 28, 2017. (Photo: MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images)   Truthout is your go-to source for news about the most critical issues of our time. If you want to see more stories like this one, make a tax-deductible donation today!

In the beginning were the words.

This is the story of the long progress of humanity from the early days of opposable thumbs to the first farmer, the first builder, the first cured disease, the first literature in its second edition, the first time secondhand information was shared as a means of expanding knowledge, the first time anything was read for the first time by a second person who then passed it on, because they could.

This is about the internet as it exists today.

It began when Bi Sheng invented the first moveable type using materials made of porcelain during the Northern Song dynasty in China around 1040AD. Some 300 years later, metal print books were created during the Goryeo dynasty in Korea. Less than 100 years later, Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable-type printing press in Europe using materials that remained standard in the process for more than half a millennium. The Bible he printed, and the machine he used to do it, are widely viewed as the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, the Renaissance and an explosion of learning that transformed the world.

It was no longer just the priests and wealthy elite who had access to information. The world had the words on a page now, and slowly but surely everything changed, and changed again, and then again. The only requirement for joining this ever-expanding new club was learning how to read. This was, and remains, no insignificant hurdle. Literacy has been power throughout the ages, right up to the modern era: Consider the relatively recent use of literacy tests to bar Black people from voting in the Jim Crow South. Poor people have historically and globally had less access to reading and education, yet another means of control.

Despite this, the flourishing of readily available words has become one of the most transformative forces in history. Want to learn how to build a house, grow crops, make a shirt, preserve food, knock down a fever, study a poem, find out about your ancestors or see what your local leaders have been up to lately? Go read about it. All of it.

Today, 1,000 years since Bi Sheng first made words with porcelain tools, the internet stands at the apex of the technology used to share and store information. It is a truly awe-inspiring machine made from billions of parts spread across the entire world and into the near reaches of space. Within its wires, motherboards and towering servers is the best and worst of us, a raw and undistilled vat of almost everything we are, the near sum of human knowledge that can be accessed by devices no larger than the palm of your hand. Oh, and cats. The internet also has cats.

It is daunting to encompass: The sum of human knowledge, access to more information than could be digested in a million lifetimes, right there in your pocket (if you have money for a phone) or on your desk (if you have money for a computer). It is tempting to call the sudden wide availability of information a step in human evolution, but that gets sticky with the science. Let there be no mistake in this, however: It was a revolution when it began a thousand years ago, it was massive, and it continues.

As far as the powerful are concerned, easily accessed information is the single most dangerous thing in the world.

That revolution is happening today and happening tomorrow, you and I are right there in the thick of it, and it all began with the availability of the words. Every time you crack open some dog-eared paperback or look up a recipe on Pinterest, you are participating in that revolution in a very small but actual way, because you are utilizing an incredibly powerful tool only recently available in the human experience: easily accessed information.

As far as the powerful are concerned, easily accessed information is the single most dangerous thing in the world. Indeed, the lessons abound:

* The distribution of Martin Luther's 95 Theses shattered the Roman Catholic Church's iron hold on Europe;

* Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was a formative pillar of the environmental movement;

* Upton Sinclair changed the very nature of labor and manufacturing in the US with one widely read book;

* The US Constitution and Bill of Rights are themselves the product of a mass-distributed pamphleteering war between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists;

The very first act of any despotic government is the harsh restriction of access to information across the board, be it public or educational.

* Anne Frank's reprinted diary forced an unwilling world to confront the true nature of evil.

The Pope, the King, mechanized fascism and Big Business: All exposed by the spread of easily accessed information, and that is a mightily foreshortened list.

These lessons are not lost on the powerful. The very first act of any despotic government is the harsh restriction of access to information across the board, be it public or educational. The Nazis burned books, and the Khmer Rouge butchered teachers. It is all of a piece. When you control the information, you control the people.

Today, a small group of wealthy individuals would appear to have come to the conclusion that we're all getting too smart for our own good around here, and they have friends on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Thanks to the FCC, ownership of television -- the internet's older half-brother who talks too much -- is currently being further condensed into the hands of a corporate few who have powerfully authoritarian views on the matters of freedom, democracy and information.

While television is a notoriously muscular -- not to mention devious -- purveyor of information, it is not the massive library/school/newspaper/sounding board/shopping mall the internet has become. Television is a one-way conversation; the internet is people. This is why the FCC's push to fundamentally rewire the internet is so profoundly dangerous. The fact that the FCC has named this brazen power grab "Restoring Internet Freedom" makes it all the more insidious.

Why? Because the internet is wide open to any and all who can gain access to it, and access is as close as the local library. If the FCC overturns net neutrality, huge multinational corporations like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast will essentially be able to decide who gets to see what online, and for an unregulated fee. Worse, Title II of the Telecommunications Act gives the FCC what is called universal service authority, which grants it the power to make sure everyone in the US has access to the network. Remove Title II, which is central to the plan, and that availability will wither with no legal oversight.

For the internet service providers (ISPs), the core of the argument is control. Title II derives its authority from Congress, which first deployed the rule in 1934 to regulate the telephone monopoly enjoyed by AT&T. Title II, in short, labels the internet as a necessary utility (just as it did with the telephone) and makes it subject to the same regulations as other utilities like water and heat. The ISPs hate that the internet has been designated as such, and this push by the FCC to eliminate that designation is taking place at their behest.

Make no mistake: The internet is a utility, one that was built with your taxpayer dollars by your government in one of the most significant public works projects ever undertaken. With this utility, you do not get water when you turn on the spigot; you get words. Information. Freedom. When they own the words, they own you.

When you control the information, you control the people.

As with everything else these days, those who seek these restrictions do so for financial reasons. What is now an open field where every website is treated the same would become, under "Restoring Internet Freedom," a pay-to-play enterprise highly profitable to the ISPs. Indeed, the only "freedom" involved here is their freedom to jack up the fees for what would become a demonstrably inferior product.

There is, however, far more involved here than simple greed. I believe the powerful few who seek this monumental and dangerous change are doing so because a child viewing a photo of a solitary man defying a tank in Tiananmen Square might learn what courage in the face of wanton authority is. They are doing so, in part, because they fear the words, because words provide liberty in dark places. The internet is all the words in one place, for the first time in human history. Such a mighty tool is a threat to those who have so much but want more, and they know it full well.

The sum of human knowledge is our natural birthright; we made it, and should have access to it as we please. Those who believe otherwise are trying to steal our past and our future.

The net neutrality argument is not only about small business or licensing fees. It is about Sheng and Gutenberg, and all the moments of radical change that came about using the tools they first perfected a millennium ago. It is about what the internet is, and can be, so long as it remains open and free. The sum of human knowledge is our natural birthright; we made it, and should have access to it as we please. Those who believe otherwise are trying to steal our past and our future. They must not be allowed to succeed.

The FCC vote on eliminating net neutrality will take place on December 14. Use the time wisely and well. In the beginning were the words. They belong to you.

Categories: News

Fighting for Freedom From Surveillance: Redefining "Sanctuary" for Trans, Queer and Immigrant Communities

Truth Out - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 05:00

Since Trump's election, several cities around the US have declared themselves sanctuaries. But can a city really call itself a "sanctuary" if it has regressive policing tactics and a surveillance apparatus that disproportionately targets certain communities -- especially queer, trans and poor people of color? Jennicet Gutiérrez of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement and Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition weigh in.

 Ted Eytan)Protesters drape themselves in the LGBTQ+ pride flag and Trans pride flag at a dance protest celebrating trans youth in Washington, DC, February 24, 2017. (Photo: Ted Eytan)   Stories like this are more important than ever! To make sure Truthout can keep publishing them, please give a tax-deductible donation today.

One of the leading strategic movements after the installation of Donald Trump's administration has been the sanctuary movement. Yet, as many critics have asked, what's a sanctuary with jails? Though cities have been quick to claim the mantle of sanctuary, a surveillance apparatus that disproportionately targets poor communities of color runs contrary to that claim. The matrix of broken windows policing, anti-immigrant policies and online tracking lead to presumptions of criminality that, in many cases, keep no one safe. In my own home of New York City, you can be deported for something as simple as jumping a turnstile. How do we reconcile claims of sanctuary with a crisis of over-policing that leaves us all more vulnerable -- particularly those rendered invisible under the state, like transwomen and undocumented immigrants? I'm joined by Jennicet Gutiérrez of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (Familia: TQLM), and Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. You can watch this conversation -- and many more like this -- on the Laura Flanders Show, or subscribe to the free podcast: @lfshow

Laura Flanders: Sanctuary and surveillance this week on The Laura Flanders Show. Can any city really be safe? We talk with Hamid Khan, campaign coordinator of Stop LAPD Spying about the data-mining programs that are proliferating under the Trump administration, and hear from Jennicet Gutiérrez about what the trans queer migrant's movement can teach people about how to protect those most vulnerable. Jennicet, Hamid, welcome to the program. Glad to have you. Let's start with you, Jennicet. We don't hear much about what is happening in the trans community. Sometimes we hear the numbers, statistics -- like when I heard recently that the average life expectancy for an African American trans woman was 35 years old. Is that possible?

Jennicet Gutiérrez: Correct. Yeah, that's very sad and unfortunate that we have to deal with those horrible statistics, right? The life expectancy of a Black trans woman, 35? How can we allow that to be right, as a society, as a community, as a movement? The violence that transgender women of color specifically face -- it's alarming. In the US alone, last year we lost 26 trans women. Most of the victims were Black trans women.

And trans men?

Gutiérrez: I believe there's been one or two that have been reported that we know about, but the majority continue to be Black trans women....

Is it possible that the trans men are just not getting reported?

Gutiérrez: I'm not really sure why that's the case, but it's alarming to me that perhaps they're not being reported as much as the trans women of color.... I think ... the fact that trans women challenge the [gender] binary, the norms ... plays a role in why trans women of color especially get murdered at a higher rate.

And what does Familia TQLM do?

Gutiérrez: Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, we are a local, a national-based organization. We are building still. We're only three years old, and specifically working with the Latinx community. We are working in issues of immigrants' rights, LGBTQ rights and racial justice, because we understand that here there are issues impacting the trans community, including undocumented trans women, but also there are connections with other communities, that we need to feel solidarity.

So, you represent one of those other communities, Hamid. Last time we spoke to you, you were talking about the work of your organization, Stop LAPD Spying. It's been about a year. How have things changed or not changed since the last time we were in Los Angeles, Hamid?

Hamid Khan: Well, while the playbook remains the same, I think enforcement of the operationalization of that playbook is definitely changing. Particularly, I think post-Trump's election, how all these practices are getting much more enhanced, much more severe, and I think speaking about particularly in the immigrant community, while there's a lot of focus on ICE -- the Immigration Customs and Enforcement -- what's really missing is the much bigger ISE, the Information Sharing Environment, which has been established ... for over a decade now, post-9/11, and how data collection has really become the major tool for enforcement, for investigation, for tracing and tracking and monitoring people.

Now, you use the phrase Information Sharing Environment. Other people talk about surveillance. Is it the same thing?

Khan: Well, it's bringing together surveillance and data collection from various parts. This came on the heels of [the] 9/11 Commission Report. Congress passed a law, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, and in that -- in 2004 -- they mandated the executive branch to create a massive environment where ... various agencies and private contractors and corporations, [and] local, regional, international, national [organizations] would be sharing information about people where it would be uploaded into various databases and then the outflow of information would happen.

And how is that intersecting with the immigration agenda of the Trump administration especially? Not that there wasn't a problem beforehand.

Khan: Well, let's look at some of the people that are working with Trump.... Peter Thiel owns Palantir. Palantir is a data-mining firm, which is valued over $25 billion, and Palantir got a contract with Immigration Customs Enforcement for about $45 million. But when you look at Palantir itself ... it was developed by a CIA venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, and Palantir has become the primary data analytics ... engine ... to gather information and develop that into predictive algorithms. So, Palantir is being used by ICE, Palantir is being used by LAPD in their Suspicious Activity Reporting program, Palantir is being used in predictive policing -- so Palantir ... kind of becomes this common thread where information is being shared, information is being collected.

"We cannot allow a city to call itself sanctuary, yet have direct collaborations with ICE." -- Jennicet Gutiérrez

So, in essence, when they talk about sanctuaries, when ... cities are speaking out and political leadership is speaking out against the partnership between police and immigration, I think what's really missing is that there's a lot of misinformation and misleading information, because immigration doesn't have to wait for a police phone call. They're not waiting for LAPD or the LA Sheriff's Department to pick up the phone and say, "Hey, we have somebody here." They can go into the Information Sharing Environment and identify anybody and everybody and go after them.

So, how is this a trans issue? Why are you here sitting next to Hamid here?

Gutiérrez: Oh, obviously there is a clear connection with law enforcements and immigrant detention centers throughout the nation. Familia has been involved directly in the campaign to end trans detention here in Santa Ana, California.... Some of the women who are detained get contact with the police for not having a license, for some type of minor violations, and they get turned over to an immigration detention facility. So, that's been ... critical for us to uplift the community, the issues, the struggles that ... we are facing, and how for many of us, the first contact is through law enforcement, and now that the new administration has made it clear that they're going to invest more money in law enforcement ... it's critical for us to be able to say, with the pressure that [they] are putting, we're forcing ICE to get out of Santa Ana.

Santa Ana was in the news not long ago around this question. How come?

Gutiérrez: Santa Ana was perhaps the first city to call itself "sanctuary," but immigration has been holding business in that specific facility for the last 10 years. It's important for us to challenge the notion of sanctuary, because again, we cannot allow a city to call itself sanctuary, yet have direct collaborations with ICE. We have a number of our LGBTQ undocumented people inside this facility, including undocumented women. Immigration wanted to expand the contract, because the contract expires in 2020, so they wanted to renew it for an additional 10 years, let's say. But by having two direct actions, we have forced them to get out. That is the direction that we need to go. If we're really gonna embrace fully the term "sanctuary," we need to ... cut all ties with ICE and put pressure to go further and shut it down completely.

Do you see a model in the struggle around the Santa Ana facility that could be expanded?

Khan: Absolutely.... I think there's so many different ways, and it's a work in progress because it's not only about ICE and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, because the way our data is moving ... it's a vast, vast apparatus -- the Information Sharing Environment, as I mentioned earlier -- but I think this is definitely a first step towards really dismantling this whole apparatus.

So, that whole discussion around whatever they called it -- Safe Communities Law -- the collaboration between immigration officials and policing -- what I'm hearing [is] it affects trans people disproportionately because you have more run-ins with the police.

Gutiérrez: Yeah.... We're a small population, yet our numbers are highly represented in the criminal justice system ... exposing us to further violence ... so that should be completely unacceptable and the ... LGBT community needs to really center and uplift the leadership for trans women of color specifically.

Are you a documented immigrant?

Gutiérrez: I'm undocumented at the moment.

And what would be your path to quote unquote "legalization?"

Gutiérrez: It's a very complex, lengthy, pricey process ... if, in the process, you missed any minor information, your application can be pushed back.

And is it different for trans people?

Gutiérrez: It's more complex for trans people because no government ... at the federal level recognizes our trans identity that I'm aware of. Right? So, we have to provide our birth-given information that we really don't connect or identify with. That makes it more difficult for us to get through the process without being humiliated, harassed or dehumanized in doing so....

So, if the process wasn't difficult enough for most people, it's even more difficult for you?

Gutiérrez: I would say so, that is the case, and that's why, to me, it's extremely important to let people know that we are being impacted at a higher rate -- more than the regular population -- and in order for us to truly be free in this society, again, we have to center our trans woman leadership.

"Where there's a lot of oppression, there's a long history of resistance as well." -- Hamid Khan

And how is that changing the work that you're doing, Hamid, this new coalition kind of, this new expansion of the communities you're working with?

Khan: ... When you triangulate the tactic and programs that they have -- because now increasingly what we are also seeing is this expansion in real-time facial recognition technology, real-time biometrics technology, as well with the use of body cameras. So, body cameras, while people have been speaking about them as like, "Well, they will result in more officer misconduct," well more than that, it's gonna expand the surveillance state, because body cameras are going to be picking up the information. It's almost a 24/7 surveillance tool.

We had a conversation not so long ago with Eric Adams, the [borough] president of Brooklyn, and he was talking about cameras as possibly a way to document positive interactions with the community. You're saying even in those positive interactions, data's being captured?

Khan: Absolutely, and all the ... footage becomes evidence. Then when you look at ... how the "[If You] See Something, Say Something" programs have worked out, now we have evidence based on LAPD's own inspector general audit that over 80 percent of the suspicious activity reports have come through See Something, Say Something, which comes from private individuals. So, they're basically providing a license to profile people, so when you look at transphobia and how deep transphobia runs, who is a suspect person? What is a suspect body? Why would they be called in? Then when you bring in predictive algorithms and you start looking at how those algorithms would be used against trans sex workers, for example, and who's a suspect in there? So, I think it's not only necessary, we are obligated because these are the level of vulnerabilities that we need to expose.

So, what kind of activities are you up to? What are you all doing together?

Gutiérrez: We really are mobilizing, building coalition with other communities, especially the ones that the new administration has openly and heavily attacked -- the Black community, the Muslim community, the LGBT community -- but also in the LGBT community, we need to let them know, "Hey, there are undocumented LGBTQ people that are also being impacted...." That has to be one of the strategic ways for us to move forward, and how do we engage in difficult, uncomfortable conversations ... for instance, there's been moments when I'm told I'm undocumented but I'm not part of the LGBT community, I don't see the connection, so you shouldn't even be part of the conversation, much less decision making, so we have to really go hard after our own communities and say, "Hey, we can no longer be silenced. We can no longer be thrown under the bus. You need to trust the leadership of trans women of color."

Khan: The one thing if I can add is that I think the other piece that we are doing is ... really challenging the movement itself, because I think what is happening is that as people of color, we who are not Black, all of a sudden there's this mobilization that happens as if the assault started yesterday. I'm originally from Pakistan, but I also challenge the movements in South Asian communities as well, because of the failure to draw parallels and to be there when the Black body is being assaulted on the street.... I think one of our goals is really to continually challenge that we need to ground ourselves in Black liberation and really just to challenge our own anti-Blackness.

Are we going down a helpful track here with this talk of sanctuary?

Gutiérrez: I do welcome the idea of sanctuary cities and municipalities, and colleges and universities and spaces for protection, but I do believe that it is important to redefine what does sanctuary mean, what does sanctuary look like? We cannot just heavily concentrate on one community while other communities have been heavily attacked, for instance, like the Black community, the Muslim community, the transgender community, so we need to really be more broader in our definitions, so when we talk about protection, we mean all people, including those immigrants with criminal records.

Khan: And I think just on the flip side to that, I think this whole conversation can become a slippery slope as well, because sanctuary, as we are reminded by particularly elders in the Black community, is also a containment zone where you are sort of confined within a certain zone, and if you step out of that zone, you or your body's in danger ... what is happening is that there's not really solid information being shared about ... how information gets shared, how it's not just a matter of seeking sanctuary in a place of worship or in your house -- that unless we really are able to move freely around, so I think we have to really just frame this in the bigger conversation of liberation.

Gutiérrez: So, how can you really call yourself sanctuary when you have this facility here that is collaborating with ICE and holding people in cages and putting them through so many human rights violations...? Here we have an opportunity to not only shut down the immigrant detention part of it, but also the entire city jail, and I think instead of having that space to put our people through so much harm and pain, how do we use that space to be able to allow people to be themselves and thrive and be productive people to society and be respected in a very dignified way?

So, I think that is the way we need to move, and yes, it is extremely difficult and complex, because sometimes there will be very hard disagreements with the community, but in the end, the long-term is to abolish all detention centers and prisons and find alternatives. How do we handle these type of conditions that are happening that to me are inhumane and are not working for communities of color?

Last word from you, Hamid.

Khan: Well, I think ultimately, where there's a lot of oppression, there's a long history of resistance as well ... how do we strengthen this culture of resistance, how do we share knowledge with our communities, how do we learn from the elders who have been fighting this system of oppression for so many years? I think at the end of the day, it just comes down to that, however we look at sanctuary, liberation and freedom really comes along as communities are building power together. It's about food, it's about shelter, it's about safe streets, it's about access to health care. It's not only about immigration rates.

Categories: News

Trouble #8: Hack the System

Anarchist News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 03:57

Trouble #8: Hack the System from sub.Media on Vimeo.

Every day, more and more of our activities and communications take place online. We’ve become addicted to connectivity…. to constant access to an endless catalogue of information, entertainment and engagement, all available at the click of a button. The Internet has become deeply ingrained into all facets of our lives, to the point where it often seems like a neutral appendage to reality itself – a “digital commons” where billions of global citizens hold the keys to a vast, decentralized, library of human knowledge. But in reality, the Internet is far from neutral… and it’s certainly not a commons. The server farms and fiber optic cables that make up the Internet’s physical infrastructure are increasingly owned, operated and controlled by a small handful of incredibly powerful corporations. Social Media platforms have become sites of mass indoctrination and anchors of social control. Liberal democratic societies are under attack from Russian trolls. We are at the dawn of a new era in history, in which states wage covert and perpetual cyber warfare against one another, with real world consequences that are hidden and unknown.

Many of us choose to avoid these harsh truths, pleading ignorance of how technology works, and gladly immersing ourselves in the spectacle that it creates. But there are also those who are inexorably drawn to seeking out a better understanding of how the complex mechanics of power operate in our digital age… and how that power might be harnessed for our own ends. In this month’s episode of Trouble, sub.Media talks to a number of hackers and digital security experts, as they share their experiences and offer tips on how to best to navigate the battleground of the Internet.

If you would like to write to Jeremy Hammond, the jailed anarchist hacker featured on this episode, send letters to the address below:

Jeremy Hammond, #18729-424
FCI Milan
P.O. Box 1000
Milan, MI 48160

Download HD * SD * MP3 * Torrent * Translate * Screening Kit

Tags: computerstechnologyhackerssubmediavideoJeremy HammondStratforcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Azadi no. 4 (December 2017): “India and Anarchism: Past, Present, and Future”

Anarchist News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 03:28

From Black Rose Anarchist Federation

We are pleased to share the fourth issue of Azadi (December 2017), a special issue on “India and Anarchism: Past, Present, and Future.”

“Azadi, meaning freedom and liberty, is a 4 page newsletter by Indian Anarchist Federation, published and distributed primarily in city of Bhopal. It began in 2017.”

Azadi volume 1, issue 4

For previous issues, please see:

Issue 3

Issue 2

Tags: IndiaBlack Rose Anarchist Federationthe platformcategory: International
Categories: News

Autonomous, not Atomized: Reflections on the Port of Olympia Blockade

It's Goin Down - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 03:09

The post Autonomous, not Atomized: Reflections on the Port of Olympia Blockade appeared first on It's Going Down.

disclaimer: this statement, as with every other statement released by accomplices within the olympia stand, does not represent the views of the blockade as a whole. the ideologies, intentions and identities that constitute our blockade are diverse, and will not be neatly consolidated. as of the time this message is being written, no consensus has been reached on the subject of demands or points of unity outside of the intention of blocking the shipment of the proppants present in the port.

what i would like to be known is this: the blockade is not monolithic. the blockade is not molar. the blockade is not univocal. the blockade does not have one message, but rather many.

when i say this, i am not speaking for the camp, but rather about it, from a singular perspective i might add. the distinction may seem small, but in reality it is not.

while those present are unified in certain regards, we are diverse in others. it is the strong opinion of this writer, as well as at least a few others within the camp, that this simple fact does not constitute weakness, or hinder our movement, but instead is an invaluable asset to our attempt to build an autonomous community.

i, for one, greatly prefer the lively debates and greater autonomy of an ideologically and tactically diverse group to the imposition of a false unity.

this is not to say that unity cannot, or will not, grow. to the contrary, i believe that the camp’s solidarity grows stronger every day, and that our points of unity are being articulated in an organic fashion as we build our movement, express our differences and discover new convergences. this may not be fully palpable to the public right now, but it is a process that i (as an individual) have been noticing since the very beginning.

one especially noteworthy presence within the milieu is an indigenous caucus, composed of many experienced organizers. it is my personal hope that their wisdom and guidance is heeded and aids us all in building a more powerful and meaningful unity that is truly our own.

to members of the media/ general public: none of the communiques that have previously been issued from members of the blockade represent the community as a whole. if you are a member of a media outlet that has broadcast any sort of transmission from our camp, please take any measures that you can to make this clear to your audience.

to anyone releasing any sort of statement about the encampment: please, please, please preface your statement with a disclaimer that you are not speaking for the group as a whole. in addition, please make sure that your messaging is composed in a manner that is conscientious to the fact that you are speaking only for yourselves. false representation is all but inevitable within the realm of contemporary media, but still, please do your part to reduce your complicity to this as much as possible.

to everyone who has participated or aided the blockade in any way: thank you so fucking much. this blockade has been truly exhilarating. opportunities such as this are rare, and have a power that i do not think we can be fully aware of.

mni wiconi. water is life.

long live the commune. vive la resistance

“olympia” is occupied medicine creek treaty land. it rightfully belongs to the nisqually, duwamish and squaxin peoples.

make the fucking port a goddamn beach again.

– a singluar becoming-haecceity/ whatever-being, who (once again) is in no way attempting to speak for the group as a whole

Categories: News

5.2 million seniors could see taxes increased by GOP bill - AARP

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 02:23

5.2 million seniors could see taxes increased by GOP bill - AARP | 29 Nov 2017 | Millions of senior citizens could see tax increases under the Senate version of the GOP's tax-reform plan, according to an analysis from the AARP. In an article published Wednesday on the group's website, the AARP's vice president and policy director argue that 1 in 5 seniors, about 6.3 million taxpayers, will see either no change or a tax increase in 2019 under the plan passed by the Senate Budget Committee. Of those individuals, 1.2 million people would get a tax hike. The authors argue that number will jump "more than four times" by 2027 to 5.2 million seniors "as a result of sunsetting the middle-class tax cuts."

Categories: News