News

Greece: Anarchist Prisoner of War Konstantinos Yiagtzoglou Begins Hunger Strike

Anarchist News - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 16:43

via insurrection news

Today, 21.02.18, anarchist prisoner Konstantinos Yiagtzoglou commenced a hunger strike to demand his transfer from the prisons of Larissa to the prisons of Korydallos following the rejection of his request by the Central Committee for Transfers. He is currently in Korydallos Prison, where he was sent yesterday for an ongoing court case. A text from the comrade will follow in the coming days.

We call for an emergency open assembly to plan solidarity actions for the comrade’s hunger strike and share information on the case on Thursday, February 22nd at 19:00 at the Polytechnic (Gini building).

Assembly of Solidarity for Konstantinos Yiagtzoglou

(via Athens Indymedia, translated by Insurrection News)

Received on 22.02.18:

A Few Words about the Case of Anarchist Prisoner Konstantinos Yiagtzoglou

Anarchist comrade Konstantinos Yiagtzoglou was arrested on October 28th 2017, while exiting a hideout rented by him under a false identity and while trasferring guns and explosive materials. Dinos is accused of being a member of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and for sending parcel bombs to various EU officials including the former prime minister of Greece, Loukas Papadimos. The cops’ accusations are based on a mixed DNA
sample and on the fact that Dinos was visiting a former anarchist prisoner in Korydallos prison in early 2013. The comrade stated that both renting the appartment and transferring the equipment were part of “revolutionary solidarity” and denies all other charges.

The judicial authorities aim to isolate him by assigning him to Larissa prison for his pre-trial detention, in a city 355 kilometres away from Athens where his family, friends and comrades are. Dinos was tranferred to Korydallos prison a few days ago to be tried for an older case (he was arrested in Athens, in 2011 during massive clashes with riot
police). While there, he was informed that his official request to remain in Athens (Korydallos prison) until his new trial was denied by the Central Committee for Prison Transfers. As a response, the comrade decided to go on a hunger strike on 21/02, demanding his permanent transfer to Korydallos prison until the time of his trial.

Tags: GreeceKonstantinos Yiagtzoglouanarchist prisonerscategory: International
Categories: News

Stronger Together?

Grassroots Economic Survival - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 16:42
Link: Stronger Together?

Over twenty years ago, the first regional federation of worker cooperatives in the United States, the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives (NoBAWC, pronounced “no boss”), was organized in San Francisco, in collaboration with the Industrial Workers of the World. Beyond mere collective ownership of individual enterprises, the group aimed explicitly to create a national movement for workers’ control over large sectors of the economy.

That strategy contrasts sharply with the recent vogue for worker cooperatives as entrepreneurial endeavors, which seeks to expand, rather than challenge, the rule of market economics. It therefore comes as a relief that Peter Ranis’s Cooperatives Confront Capitalism corrects the record. Ranis traces the origins of workers’ efforts to gain control over their productive lives to the beginnings of the factory and wage labor system itself. Agitation for workers’ control, sometimes advancing from a political demand to an economic reality, escalated as the labor movement grew throughout the nineteenth century, and only declined as a movement with the rise of a reformist labor leadership that abandoned its radical roots.

For Ranis, worker cooperatives provide the agency for social change that was missing from recent movements such as Occupy in the United States and the anti-austerity protests in Europe.

Read the rest at Monthly Review

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Announcing Resistance is Fertile 2018!

Anarchist News - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 16:32

via Montreal Counter Info

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Over the past year, there has been something of a resurgence in anarchist activity in Ottawa, a vibrant community has begun to form, and it feels like the conditions are right for rapid growth in the radical milieu of our city. That is why we say: Resistance is Fertile!

Most visibly, for the first time since the shuttering of Exile Infoshop over 7 years ago, Ottawa now has a anarchist social centre that is not also a punk house. This social centre, known as the Garden Spot (or G-Spot for short) is near Carleton University, and is already serving to bring together radical & leftist students from Carleton, the University of Ottawa, high schools, and the broader community. To build on the current momentum, we decided to hold a series of events of interest to comrades and newcomers alike.

You can find the Facebook event for the week of activities here.

The schedule for the week is as follows:

Monday: DOUBLE WHAMMY

The Truth about Truth and Reconciliation at Faith House

Concerning Violence Movie Screening with Anti Colonial Action at the Garden Spot

Tuesday:

Kurdish Voices on the Rojava Revolution (G-Spot)

Wednesday:

Anarchist Community Organizing (G-Spot)

This event is for people who are currently involved in anarchist projects in Ottawa – please request an invite if you would like to attend.

Thursday:

Closed workshop

Friday:

Daughters of Dust Viewing to celebrate Black History Month (G-Spot)

Saturday: DOUBLE WHAMMY

The Garden Spot is sponsoring a for youth by youth “Alt Art Show”

Canadian Involvement in the Pillaging of Latin America (Faith House)

Sunday:

Black Sheep Supper Club Round #7 (G-Spot)

We have a triple aim with this project: to educate, to inspire, and to provide space in which activists can get to know each other. As always, we will be providing free vegetarian food (with vegan options) at all events. Help procuring, preparing & serving food is always appreciated, as is help cleaning up afterwards.

It is our great pleasure to be able to offer all of these workshops free of charge, although we welcome donations and may pass the hat. 100% of donations will go to the presenters. We are doing all of these events with zero budget.

Since this is for Montreal Counter-Info, we encourage folks to take this info and tuck it into the back of your minds. Abominable shit is always happening in Canada’s capital, and sometimes it makes sense for folks to travel here to express their rage and disgust. At such moments, connections with local organizers become invaluable, and now’s a good time for forward-thinking activists to start building those relationships. Remember, Trump still might come to Ottawa at some point, and if a state visit is announced, there might not be much time to mobilize.

There’s also the massive anti-abortion March For Life, scheduled for May 10th on Parliament Hill, which provides an opportunity to confront the reactionary forces of the patriarchy.

These potential mobilizations aside, it is just a good thing in general to densify the interconnectivity amongst those who want to fight for lives free from the state, capitalism, and oppression, so we encourage folks to travel to Ottawa to build bridges between our communities!

Tags: montrealworkshopsradical reading weekcategory: International
Categories: News

Chicago's Youth Push Back Against Mayor's Proposed "Cop Academy"; Demand More Investment in Communities

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 14:54

 Scott Olson / Getty Images)Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (C) and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson (R) attend a police academy graduation and promotion ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on June 15, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has manipulated a Department of Justice finding that Chicago Police routinely used excessive force on Black and Latinx people, into a proposal for a police training facility in a perennially disinvested and majority Black neighborhood. But a Black youth-led campaign is pushing back, demanding more investment in schools and communities instead.

 Scott Olson / Getty Images)Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (C) and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson (R) attend a police academy graduation and promotion ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on June 15, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images)

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Residents of Black communities on the West and South sides of Chicago are fighting tooth and nail to defend resources in their neighborhoods threatened by Rahm Emanuel, the man some deem "America's Worst Mayor." Meanwhile, Emanuel travels across the country, promoting Chicago as a great place to "work and play." The hard-hitting Democratic Party fundraiser and strategist has worked tirelessly over the past two years to recover from his role in the Laquan McDonald scandal, even calling for "nothing less than total and complete reform of the system." Emanuel is accused of suppressing the video of the October 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer for 400 days in order to help secure his bid for re-election in 2015.

In 2015, Emanuel begrudgingly allowed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Chicago Police Department (CPD), resulting in a report that stated CPD officers routinely used excessive force and most of their ire was focused on Black and Latinx residents of the city. However, Emanuel masterfully manipulated the findings of the investigation into a proposal to build a massive new training compound -- a $95 million "cop academy" -- for the CPD in the majority Black and perennially disinvested neighborhood of West Garfield Park.

We filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the cop academy, which have uncovered a number of troubling findings, full details of which remain withheld and redacted. For example, planning for this new cop academy began months before the DOJ report was released, so could not have been a response to the report's findings. Plus, Emanuel seems intent on using this facility as a regional and national police-training hub. Further, the mayor's office colluded with a city department for facilities management called Fleet and Facilities Management (2FM) and the CPD to facilitate the use of closed Chicago public school properties for police training.

While the stated purpose of the proposed cop academy is to facilitate the "improved" training encouraged by the DOJ, there's little evidence to suggest this will lead to meaningful changes. Moreover, communities fighting for resources across Chicago are wary of seeing more resources spent on policing.

Emanuel and the Department of Justice Masquerade

Emanuel has rolled out various "police reforms" in the past two years to champion his new "tough on CPD" stance. He's rallied behind the use of body cameras, and has talked about the importance of more compassionate training techniques. He has promoted the use of Tasers in some circumstances as an alternative to guns. However, all of these supposed fixes ultimately work to expand resources and budgets for police, with little to no impact on CPD's longstanding racism and violence. What's more, Emanuel doesn't appear to believe in the reforms he champions.

Even with Department of Justice intervention and the investment of money in police department "reforms," the outcomes for communities show little improvement.

In December, 2015, he initially resisted calls for DOJ review, and relented only after public pressure from fellow Democrats. When the DOJ completed its yearlong investigation in January, 2017, Emanuel initially agreed to sign a consent decree that would have been overseen by a federal judge. A consent decree is a court-enforced settlement between the DOJ and a police department that has been found to display a "pattern and practice" of misconduct.

Once Obama's presidency ended, Emanuel colluded with Trump's Justice Department to attempt to avoid federal oversight by trying to arrange for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) instead of the consent decree. MOUs are not legally enforceable, meaning that it would be left to Emanuel and the CPD to be responsible for changes requested by the DOJ with only an "appointed monitor" providing oversight. Only after being sued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan did Emanuel relent.

Currently, Emanuel appears to wholeheartedly accept the DOJ findings, and is using a recommendation given in the report regarding police training to justify the need for an expanded and updated CPD training facility. However, the documents we uncovered reveal that email conversations about the academy were taking place between the mayor's office and 2FM as early as October 2016, a full three months before the DOJ released its findings in January 2017.

Further, while Emanuel sees the DOJ recommendations as a salve for CPD, there is evidence to suggest that large-scale, federal overhauls of police forces that are initiated by the Justice Department do little to deter police misconduct in the long term. According to a 2015 Washington Post article, the Pittsburgh Police Department has struggled to retain the reforms that were supposedly set in place after its DOJ consent decree was lifted. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was also under a consent decree from 2001 until 2013. Compliance with this consent was costly: it totaled $300 million, which includes $41 million spent on the renovation of the LAPD's training academy. In 2013, the ACLU lauded the LAPD for efforts to change the force, and declared, "This is no longer your father's Los Angeles Police Department." However, from 2013-2017, no police department in the country killed more people than the LAPD.

There is clear evidence that even with Department of Justice intervention and the investment of money in police department "reforms," the outcomes for communities show little improvement.

Schools for Cops, Not for Kids

Rahm Emanuel came under fire both locally and nationally for his role in the largest public school closure in the history of the United States in 2013. That year, he oversaw the closure of 49 Chicago Public Schools (CPS), displacing thousands of Black and Brown students. Currently, parents, teachers and students are fighting his proposed closure of all four public high schools in Englewood, as well as the conversion of National Teachers' Academy -- a successful neighborhood school located on Chicago's Near South Side, serving mostly Black and Brown students -- into a selective enrollment high school.

In 2015, Emanuel wanted to shutter Dyett High School in the Bronzeville neighborhood, another predominantly Black community just south of the loop in Chicago. Community members fought to save the high school, and the school remained open only after concerned parents and grandparents staged a historic 34-day hunger strike, which garnered national media coverage. In 2016, against parent, teacher and student desires, a small elementary school charter operating out of a CPS property, the Bronzeville Lighthouse/Hartigan building, closed its doors.

Advocates from all over Chicago have been calling out the Emanuel administration's hypocrisy: Adequate city funds for Chicago Public Schools are not materializing, but the city is more than willing to sell old properties and dip into tax increment financing (TIF) coffers to support a massive expansion project for CPD.

Through FOIA requests, the authors discovered emails from the mayor's chief of staff attempting to facilitate the use of the recently closed Bronzeville Lighthouse/Hartigan school building for expanded CPD training, before the construction of the new academy.

The commissioner of Fleet and Facilities Management, the director of training for CPD and Emanuel's chief of staff corresponded for weeks in an attempt to stave off a private bid for the closed building, so that CPD officers could make use of it. Here's an excerpt from the emails uncovered through FOIA:

"Attached is a list of vacant CPS buildings. I took a quick look at those closed in 2015 and 2016 via Google Maps. The facilities highlighted on the list appear to have ample parking ... I didn't look at the buildings closed in 2013 or earlier since they will likely be boarded-up and harder to put back into service than the recently closed buildings." -- David J. Reynolds, Commissioner, Fleet and Facilities Management, October 17, 2016.

The Chicago Police Department has a precedent of using closed school buildings for tactical training and K9 training, but this particular negotiation hits close to home for organizers fighting school closures in the same neighborhood of Bronzeville.

Larry Dean is a member of Black Youth Project 100, an organization of young Black activists fighting for justice and freedom for all Black people, and he has been supporting the effort to fight school closures on the Southside. "I think it's part of a larger strategy by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to continue to facilitate the school-to-prison pipeline -- to take buildings that were dedicated to education in underserved communities and Black communities -- and turn them into uses for the police department, which already gets $4 million per day," Dean told Truthout. "It just is not in the interest of the people who live there, and I think that the fact that that's something that's not well-known, that the community doesn't have insight into, is further proof that the mayor just hates Black communities, doesn't support what we do and is not going to give us an equal right to education or life in this city."

A Regional Police Training Hub in the Heart of Chicago's Westside

Emails uncovered through FOIA requests also revealed that members of 2FM, CPD and the Chicago Fire Department visited Appleton, Wisconsin, in 2017 to tour Fox Valley Technical College's Public Safety Training Center (PSTC). The PSTC opened in 2015, and its website boasts that the facility is "a national leader in public safety and resources" able to "provide you and your staff with the knowledge you need most." Indeed, the PSTC has garnered national recognition for its simulation technology, which is comprised of "several mock crime scene scenarios ... including a hotel with adjoining bar, a convenience store, a bank, and two houses for the study of forensic science investigation." These innovations sound strikingly similar to ones planned for the cop academy.

Initially, Appleton, Wisconsin, seems an unlikely inspiration for Chicago's proposed cop academy, as it's located on a rural site, miles from the nearest schools and population centers, in a town of 70,000. However, there is evidence Emanuel envisions that the expanded cop academy in West Garfield Park -- a densely populated, historically divested from, majority-Black neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago -- will operate similarly to PSTC. Emanuel has stated his hopes that regional, national and international police departments will travel to Chicago to learn law enforcement techniques -- all from a corrupt department that has never been meaningfully held accountable for the violence and abuse it perpetrates.

#NoCopAcademy: Charting a New Course for Ending Police Violence

Emanuel wields a great deal of influence as the mayor of one of the nation's largest cities, as well as a long-time Democratic power player. His views on police reform and what he believes it should look like doubtless influence other major cities dealing with the scourge of overwhelming police violence that is focused almost exclusively on marginalized people. Resisting Emanuel's proposal is a critical part of refusing to allow the liberal establishment to dictate the terms/solution to the problem of police violence around the country.

Supported by more than 50 organizations across Chicago, young people from Assata's Daughters -- an organization of young Black women in Chicago fighting for Black liberation -- have been on the front lines of fighting Emanuel's agenda and demanding a radical transformation of budget priorities in Chicago, as well as a resolution to the crisis of police violence. In under six months, the #NoCopAcademy campaign has been wildly successful in turning what would otherwise have been a mundane city maneuver into a national controversy, by demanding that rather than expand CPD training capabilities with a $95 million new cop academy, Chicago invest in young people instead. In that way, the youth leaders with the #NoCopAcademy campaign are both visionary and upholding a Chicago tradition.

More than a year before the DOJ released its report on Chicago police violence, young people of color with We Charge Genocide and Black Youth Project 100 had clearly and consistently stated in their own report and actions that the only way to stop police violence was to halt the constant increase of funds that facilitate said violence. As the #NoCopAcademy campaign pushes back on Emanuel's false solution, young Black people across the city are demanding resources for schools and communities. Rather than taking at face value the word of a politician who has repeatedly shown his capacity to hide and alter the truth for his own political gain, we would do well to listen to young Black people about what they need to survive and thrive in Chicago. Similarly, instead of allowing police departments and mayors to dictate the terms of what creates safe communities, and how to respond to the violence inflicted by those same departments, more cities should listen to marginalized young people and follow their lead in charting a new course forward.

Categories: News

The Hotwire #19: February 21, 2018

Anarchist News - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 14:41

From CrimethInc.
Florida School Shooting & Gun Control—Koreatown Against ICE Raids—TN Antifascism

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

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Summary

This episode is packed to the gills with news! There is antifa activity in Tennessee and folks in the Northwest continue to hold it down against the fascist creep. Solidarity for Afrin spreads and an inspiring model to fight ICE raids emerges out of Koreatown, Los Angeles. We offer some analysis about the school shooting in Parkland, FL and interview both an anarchist attending the student led rallies there and an anarchist author who’s written about gun control. There is a short update on the repression Florida prisoners are enduring due to Operation Push. Walter Bond is in need of support and we have some good news about accused confederate statue topplers in Durham, NC. To wrap things up, there are loads of upcoming events, so stay tuned until the end!

Notes and Links Tags: Crimethinc.the hotwirepodcastcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Exxon's Conspiracy Charges Aim to Derail Climate Lawsuits

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 14:20

Oil giant ExxonMobil is engaged in unprecedented efforts to sue and harass in court the very people who are investigating and suing the company over global warming. Faced with determined efforts by states and localities to hold it and other fossil fuel companies accountable for contributing to, and concealing the evidence of, climate change, Exxon is crying foul, contending that it's the victim of politically- and financially-motivated conspiracies.

But in reality there are no improper schemes behind the cases against Exxon. Instead, what's troubling is an apparent effort by Exxon, one of the world's wealthiest corporations, and its powerhouse corporate lawyers, to avoid a courtroom reckoning by making specious legal arguments and outspending their foes in the legal arena.

Through its attorneys at New York's Paul Weiss Rifkin Wharton and Garrison, and Texas-based firms Haynes & Boone and Cantey Hanger, ExxonMobil has sued the attorneys general of Massachusetts, New York, and the US Virgin Islands. And the company has recently targeted for depositions and document subpoenas, and threats of more lawsuits, numerous state officials, private attorneys, and advocates.

Exxon's legal counterattack began after the Massachusetts, New York, and Virgin Islands AGs started investigating whether Exxon misled consumers and investors about the dangers of global warming and the potential impact of those dangers on the company's bottom line. Investigative reporting in 2015 showed that Exxon scientists have known, and told Exxon management for decades, that burning fossil fuels was heating up the planet, but rather than educate the public on the dangers and change its business strategy, Exxon instead spent millions supporting efforts to question and deny the science of climate change. The state AGs also started investigating whether ExxonMobil has properly accounted for its oil reserves in the wake of global price drops and evidence of global warming.

The Massachusetts AG, Maura Healey, has explained that her investigation focuses "on whether Exxon may have misled consumers and/or investors with respect to the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, and climate change-driven risks to Exxon's business," in marketing energy products and in marketing Exxon securities, in violation of the state consumer protection law. Similarly, New York's AG, Eric Schneiderman, has indicated that he is investigating whether ExxonMobil's public statements about climate change conflicted with its internal research, which could have led to "state law violations, including under the Martin Act," the New York law that prohibits financial deception and fraud. (The New York AG reached settlements with Xcel Energy and Dynegy, Inc. in 2008 and with AES Corp. in 2009 based on those companies' failures to disclose climate change risks in securities filings.)

In 2016, Exxon launched its response, suing Healey, Schneiderman, and US Virgin Islands attorney general Claude Earl Walker in federal courts in its home region of Dallas-Fort Worth. The suit against Walker succeeded when his small office halted its investigation of the oil titan, but the other two AGs persisted.

US District Judge Ed Kinkeade approved Exxon's demand that Healey and Schneiderman submit to depositions by Exxon lawyers --  an unwarranted, and  virtually unprecedented move, as prosecutors aren't normally required to face cross examination by people whom they're investigating. Healey and Schneiderman fought back, seeking an unusual mid-case appeal to the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals, after which Kinkeade backed down, cancelled the depositions, and transferred the case to a federal court in New York.

As Exxon continues its efforts to convince a Manhattan federal judge to allow it to depose the two state AGs and, ultimately, to block their probes, it faces a new wave of lawsuits: since September 2017, eight cities and counties in California, plus New York City, have sued Exxon and other fossil fuel companies, alleging harm to their communities from climate change.

The new lawsuits brought by California cities and counties --  the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Richmond, and Imperial Beach, plus Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Marin counties --   could pack a powerful punch. The suits allege that ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and others knew for decades that fossil fuel-driven global warming and rising seas threatened human life, but continued to expand their production, while deceiving consumers about the risks. Asserting that this conduct violates various state tort rules --  public nuisance, failure to warn, design defect, negligence, and trespass -- the suits demand that the companies pay for the costs of environmental harms like damages to seawalls, and dangers from severe weather, droughts, and fires.

These new lawsuits have a stronger chance of success than a 2008 case filed against fossil fuel companies by the small Alaskan community of Kivalina, seeking to recover the cost of relocating their village, which was threatened by rising sea levels. A federal judge dismissed that case, concluding that the village could not trace its injuries to any particular defendant. But today there is much more evidence that global warming is real, accelerating, and caused by burning fossil fuels, and that oil companies knew such information, suppressed it, and sought to counter it. Also, lawyers for the California cities and counties believe that recent scientific advances will make it easier to prove that the specific defendants' activities harmed or threaten their client communities.

Faced with these mounting challenges to its conduct, ExxonMobil is relentlessly trying to change the subject.

In legal papers and public communications attacking the New York and Massachusetts attorney general investigations, Exxon has charged that various meetings among lawyers, advocates, and charitable foundation officials to discuss climate change liability issues, and communications between such people and attorneys general offices, are evidence of an untoward conspiracy against the company. Exxon further alleges that the AG probes attack the company's First Amendment rights.  "The attorneys general have violated Exxon Mobil's right to participate in the national conversation about how to address the risks presented by climate change," Dan Toal, one of Exxon's lawyers at the Paul Weiss firm told Bloomberg.

Now Exxon and its allies are aiming to tie the new California lawsuits into this alleged conspiracy. The company is seeking to depose more than a dozen California officials, plus private attorney Matt Pawa, in anticipation of a threatened lawsuit alleging violation of the company's free speech and other constitutional rights. In a January 8 Texas court petition seeking the depositions, Exxon charges, "A collection of special interests and opportunistic politicians are abusing law enforcement authority and legal process to impose their viewpoint on climate change."

A recent op-ed by New York business consultant John Burnett attacked some of the California cities and counties for hiring outside lawyers to sue Exxon and paying them on a contingent basis -- meaning they get paid if and only if Exxon loses in court or settles -- even though this consultant acknowledges that the cities and counties couldn't afford to pay the lawyers any other way. He calls the arrangement "a perilous new frontier in the world of ambulance-chasing by elected officials." Similarly, Linda Kelly, general counsel for the National Manufacturers Association, told a reporter, "From Richmond, California, to New York City, activist-driven lawsuits are being filed to undermine manufacturers in America without regard to the facts."

But these counterattacks on those pursuing Exxon are themselves fueled by false information and unwarranted charges.

I've worked for many years in association with some of the people Exxon has claimed are part of the alleged conspiracy. They aren't conspirators. They generally do their work and make their cases out in the open. A 2012 meeting in La Jolla, California, among private lawyers and climate experts that Exxon repeatedly cites as the birthplace of the secret plot was meticulously documented and photographed by the participants themselves.

There's also nothing sinister or unusual about scientists, private lawyers, other experts, or simply concerned citizens providing evidence and arguments to state attorney general offices regarding potential legal violations, including, indeed especially, in complex matters involving powerful actors. There's nothing wrong with state and local law enforcement officials working in parallel on probing a common issue or target -- it happens frequently. Nor are public statements by officials regarding those probes proof of political bias or an impingement on Exxon's First Amendment rights. And nor is it unusual or improper for local governments to hire private lawyers to protect their residents' interests in court.

The AGs and local officials are doing their jobs -- pursuing evidence of law-breaking. If Exxon believes it has behaved properly with respect to climate change, it should use its expensive and talented lawyers to defend itself on the merits, rather than harassing others over invented conspiracy theories.

This article originally appeared on Republic Report.

No "alternative facts" here -- we publish the uncensored, uncorrupted news you rely on. Support Truthout by making a donation!
Categories: News

Trump Administration Proposes Rule to Loosen Curbs on Short-Term Health Plans

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 14:19
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Insurers will again be able to sell short-term health insurance good for up to 12 months under a proposed rule released Tuesday by the Trump administration that could further roil the marketplace.

"We want to open up affordable alternatives to unaffordable Affordable Care Act policies," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. "This is one step in the direction of providing Americans health insurance options that are more affordable and more suitable to individual and family circumstances."

The proposed rule said short-term plans could add more choices to the market at lower cost and may offer broader provider networks than Affordable Care Act plans in rural areas.

But most short-term coverage requires answering a string of medical questions, and insurers can reject applicants with preexisting medical problems, which ACA plans cannot do. As a result, the proposed rule also noted that some people who switch to them from ACA coverage may see "reduced access to some services," and "increased out of pocket costs, possibly leading to financial hardship."

The directive follows an executive order issued in October to roll back restrictions put in place during the Obama administration that limited these plans to three months. The rule comes on the heels of Congress’ approval of tax legislation that in 2019 will end the penalty for people who opt not to carry insurance coverage.

The administration also issued separate regulations Jan. 4 that would make it easier to form "association health plans," which are offered to small businesses through membership organizations.

Together, the proposed regulations and the elimination of the so-called individual mandate by Congress could further undermine the Affordable Care Act marketplace, critics say.

Seema Verma, who now heads the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the marketplaces, told reporters Tuesday that federal officials believe that between 100,000 and 200,000 "healthy people" now buying insurance through those federal exchanges would switch to the short-term plans, as well as others who are now uninsured.

The new rule is expected to entice younger and healthier people from the general insurance pool by allowing a range of lower-cost options that don’t include all the benefits required by the federal law -- including plans that can reject people with preexisting medical conditions. Most short-term coverage excludes benefits for maternity care, preventive care, mental health services or substance abuse treatment.

"It’s deeply concerning to me, considering the tragedy in Florida and national opioid crisis, that the administration would be encouraging the sale of policies that don’t have to cover mental health and substance abuse," said Kevin Lucia, a research professor and project director at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

Over time, those remaining in ACA plans will increasingly be those who qualify for premium tax credit subsidies and the sick, who can’t get an alternative like a short-term plan, predicts Lucia and other experts. That, in turn, would drive up ACA premiums further.

"If consumers think Obamacare premiums are high today, wait until people flood into these short-term and association health plans," said industry consultant Robert Laszewski. "The Trump administration will bring rates down substantially for healthy people, but woe unto those who get a condition and have to go back into Obamacare."

If 100,000 to 200,000 people shift from ACA-compliant plans in 2019, this would cause "average monthly individual market premiums … to  increase," the proposed rule states. That, in turn, would cause subsidies for eligible policyholders in the ACA market to rise, costing the government $96 million to $168 million.

Supporters said the rules are needed because the ACA plans have already become too costly for people who don’t receive a government subsidy to help them purchase the coverage. "The current system is failing too many," said Verma.

And, many supporters don’t think the change is as significant as skeptics fear.

"It simply reverts back to where the short-term plan rules were prior to Obama limiting those plans," said Christopher Condeluci, a benefits attorney who also served as tax counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. "While these plans might not be the best answer, people do need a choice, and this new proposal provides needed choice to a certain subsection of the population."

But, in their call with reporters, CMS officials said the proposed rule seeks comment on whether there are ways to guarantee renewability of the plans, which currently cannot be renewed. Instead, policyholders must reapply and answer medical questions again.  The proposal also seeks comments on whether the plans should be allowed for longer than 12-month periods.

The comment period for the proposed rule runs for 60 days. Verma said CMS hopes to get final rules out "as quickly as possible," so insurers could start offering the longer duration plans.

Short-term plans had been designed as temporary coverage, lasting for a few months while, for instance, a worker is between jobs and employer-sponsored insurance. They provide some protection to those who enroll, generally paying a percentage of hospital and doctor bills after the policyholder meets a deductible.

They are generally less expensive than ACA plans, because they cover less. For example, they set annual and lifetime caps on benefits, and few cover prescription drugs.

Most require applicants to pass a medical questionnaire -- and they can also exclude coverage for preexisting medical conditions.

The plans are appealing to consumers because they are cheaper than Obamacare plans. They are also attractive to brokers, because they often pay higher commissions than ACA plans. Insurers like them because their profit margins are relatively high -- and are not held to the ACA requirement that they spend at least 80 percent of premium revenue on plan members’ medical care.

Extending short-term plans to a full year could be a benefit to consumers because they must pass the health questionnaire only once. Still, if a consumer develops a health condition during the contract’s term, that person would likely be rejected if he or she tried to renew.

Both supporters and critics of short-term plans say consumers who do develop health problems could then sign up for an ACA plan during the next open enrollment because the ACA bars insurers from rejecting people with preexisting conditions.

"We’re going to have two different markets, a Wild West frontier called short-term medical … and a high-risk pool called Obamacare," said Laszewski.

KHN senior correspondent Phil Galewitz contributed to this article.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Categories: News

The Hotwire #19: Reactions as Students Flood Streets

It's Goin Down - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 11:00

The post The Hotwire #19: Reactions as Students Flood Streets appeared first on It's Going Down.

This episode is packed to the gills with news! There is antifa activity in Tennessee and folks in the Northwest continue to hold it down against the fascist creep. Solidarity for Afrin spreads and an inspiring model to fight ICE raids emerges out of Koreatown, Los Angeles. We offer some analysis about the school shooting in Parkland, FL and interview both an anarchist attending the student led rallies there and an anarchist author who’s written about gun control.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/exworker/The-Hotwire_19_Florida-School-Shooting-Gun_Control_Koreatown-Against-ICE-Raids_TN-Antifascism.mp3
There is a short update on the repression Florida prisoners are enduring due to Operation Push. Walter Bond is in need of support and we have some good news about accused confederate statue topplers in Durham, NC. To wrap things up, there are loads of upcoming events, so stay tuned until the end!

Notes and Links Transcript

Rebel Girl: February 21, 2018: An interview with an anarchist present at the rallies in Parkland, FL, organized resistance against ICE raids in LA, and an announcement for upcoming CrimethInc. speaking events on this episode of…

The Hotwire.

A weekly anarchist news show brought to you by The Ex-Worker.

With me, the Rebel Girl.

A full transcript of this episode with shownotes and useful links can be found at our website, CrimethInc.com/podcast. You can subscribe to The Hotwire on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, just search for The Ex-Worker. You can listen to us through the anarchist podcast network Channel Zero, or on your radio’s dial in… Eugene, Oregon every Sunday at noon on KEPW 97.3, in Fairbanks, Alaska Saturday mornings at 9 on KWRK 90.9 and in Tacoma, Washington every Friday at 9 AM on KUPS 90.1. Believe it or not, every Hotwire is radio ready, so feel free to put The Hotwire on your local airwaves. If there’s a story or upcoming event you’d like us to include in a future Hotwire, just hit us up at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com.

And now for the headlines…

HEADLINES

All kinds of antifascist action have been taking place across Tennessee. In response to a fascist flier campaign to cover Black History Month posters, Chattanooga Redneck Revolt took to social media and the streets with fliers that say “no racists, no Nazis, no Vanguard America. We will defend our communities.” The fliers include contact information for Chattanoogans to alert Redneck Revolt if they see fascist propaganda around town.

Meanwhile, the group Friends & Neighbors Rising in Resistance from rural Meigs County, Tennessee did a mass mailing last week, alerting neighbors to a fascist couple and their compound project in Meigs County.

And on Saturday, at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, over 200 people marched against a speaking event by the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party. The university allowed the event despite no student invitation, and a whopping 15 people in attendance, who appeared to all be phoned-in neo-Nazi goons who just sat with their hands on their knees. While there was no big confrontation, one anarchist on the ground wrote in to praise the majority of protesters who refused to enter the police-designated protest zone, and to comment that even without confrontation, intelligence gathering can be done at such fascist events that can later be used to disrupt their organizing.

On February 10, anarchists and anti-fascists gathered in Red Square, Seattle to oppose a so-called “Freedom Rally” which featured Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, University of Washington College Republicans, and other ultranationalists and alt-rightists. The right-wingers were outnumbered four-to-one, but they had plenty of police on their side, who set up barricades protecting the nationalists. As if the police protection wasn’t offensive enough, the University of Washington’s administration cancelled all other events happening on campus because of the rally, including multiple Black History Month events. Yep, you heard that right: fascists declared a rally and a university went out of their way to cancel Black History Month events to facilitate it. The rally ended with some scuffles, plenty of pepper spray, a few arrests of antifascists, and Proud Boys getting their tires deflated. An analysis on PugetSoundAnarchists.org celebrates some of the violent retribution that fascists received at Red Square, but also acknowledges, “that smashing fascism is not a zero sum game. Much as capitalism will not be smashed if we simply multiply x number of hammers by y number of windows minus n property destruction charges, we cannot operate as though halting fascism (let alone all forms of governance and control) is a matter of doling out more concussions than we receive.” They go on to clarify that, “That isn’t to say that hammers shouldn’t be applied to windows, or that we should allow fascists a platform, but rather a proposal for conversations about broader strategy, as well as the promotion of anti-racist and anti-fascist cultural events.”

Red Square is the same location where on Inauguration Day 2017, a supporter of Milo Yiannopolous shot Hex, an anarchist with the IWW, in the stomach. Hex miraculously survived, and we have an interview with him in The Ex-Worker’s episode #62. This year, on the anniversary of the shooting, the IWW and other radicals gathered at Red Square in a commemorative act. They held banners that read, “We don’t forget fascist violence, murder by pigs, or state repression,” and, “Our comrade was shot here, January 20, 2017.” The report on It’s Going Down mentions that even this act of memory was harassed, albeit pretty pathetically, by a neo-Nazi and College Republican presence.

Northwest antifascists, we gotta give it up for y’all. You’re putting up a tiring, difficult struggle against the fascist creep in Washington and Oregon, and we just want you to know how much your reports, reflections, and acts give us life and give us strength. Thanks for all you are doing.

On February 13, Antifascist Forces in Afrin, one of the cantons of Rojava, issued a call for solidarity as they fight back against Turkey’s military invasion. The call reads, “The resistance of Afrin is one of the most critical moments in the struggle against fascism of our time. The time to act is now… We call on determined international revolutionaries to join our struggle. We also call upon widespread civil actions against the Turkish state around the world.”

The Antifascist Forces statement came just days after two internationalist fighters died in defense of Afrin, and a third internationalist was martyred the day of the statement’s release.

Their call for solidarity has been answered by actions around the world. In Portland, Oregon members of Demand Utopia flew flags and hung banners in solidarity with Afrin from a highway overpass.

Over a dozen indigenous, anarchist, and women’s organizations in Mexico and beyond signed a joint statement in solidarity with Afrin, as well as, “with their committees, cooperatives, women’s organizations, autonomous schools and to all the efforts of the peoples of Afrin who at this moment are suffering the bombs of neoliberal fascism and the attacks of the paramilitary Salafi gangs.”

In Izmir, Turkey, Kurdish youth claimed responsibility for incendiary attacks against a state-owned gymnasium and a ruling-party collaborator’s business. In their statement they call on, “all Kurdish youths to take action against the fascist Turkish state everywhere. No young person should wait for a leader, because every Kurdish youth is a leader by nature”.

In the Bay Area, Austin, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York, anti-border activists have confronted and disrupted readings by former Border Patrol agent Francis Cantu. Cantu recently published a book of memoirs, which depoliticizes Border Patrol’s job, depicting it more than anything as “complicated” and sometimes even “beautiful.”

Just listen to this:

Cantu: I had all these questions that stemmed from my time in college. Big questions that a lot of us are still talking about with respect to immigration and border policy. I thought that doing this kind of a job, this kind of work, being out on the border day in and day out would give me answers to those questions.

Rebel Girl: Cantu claims he joined Border Patrol to learn about how to “help” immigrant families. Well, Francis, that’s not so complicated actually. Border Patrol is a violent, armed force that prevents immigrants from safely reuniting with their families and results in hundreds of deaths throughout the southwest’s deserts every year. Although, the exact number of deaths is unknown because, in an effort to evade Border Patrol, the force you chose to work for, migrants are forced to tread some of the most vast, hostile conditions on earth. If you really wanted to help, you could stop profiting off of the stories of the migrants who you captured, and instead point people in the direction of humanitarian initiatives like No More Deaths.

For a better book on the border, allow us to suggest No Wall They Can Build, a first person narrative drawing on a decade of migrant solidarity work along the US-Mexico border. You can find it at CrimethInc.com, along with anti-border posters and stickers.

And to tell Francis Cantu to his face how you feel about his hipster Border Patrol apologism, you can find his upcoming speaking dates in the article “Progressive Border Patrol” at ItsGoingDown.org.

Of course, Border Patrol isn’t the only wing of the state breaking up immigrant families. Last week, ICE carried out raids across Los Angeles, arresting over 100 immigrants as political retribution against Los Angeles declaring itself a “sanctuary city.” In response, about 70 activists and community members blocked an ICE van in front of LA’s Metropolitan Detention Center. The Koreatown Popular Assembly, who called for the action, has been organizing for over a year to prepare a Rapid Response Network to counter ICE raids. They canvass the neighborhood with flyers in Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Bengali and English; they operate a 24-hour hotline to monitor ICE raids; and they have trained nearly 100 first responders on an opensource text message alert system.

In Houston, high school students walked out in protest of a fellow student’s detainment by ICE. Students carried banners that read “Black Latina/Latino Unity” and “Education Not Deportation.”

In Minneapolis on Valentine’s Day, hundreds participated in the Murdered Missing Indigenous Women’s march. In a report on Unicorn Riot, indigenous marchers were quoted saying, “We’re marching for stolen women on stolen land. And we’re still a colonized people. We’re still having to negotiate our basic rights as indigenous people,” and, “Please speak up and don’t hide from violence. If you see somebody getting abused, or if you’re getting abused yourself — please speak up, and no more silence.”

This past Monday was what the government has deemed President’s Day, which observes George Washington’s birthday. Yet as a slave owner and profiteer on others’ servitude, George Washington is a poor exemplar of the struggle for freedom. Rather than looking to him for a model representing resistance to tyranny, let’s remember the slaves and indentured servants who sought to escape from him and the Native Americans who defended themselves against his attacks. CrimethInc. just published a lengthy piece on Washington’s relationship to slavery and the slaves that defied him.

MASS SHOOTING IN FLORIDA

By now you’ve heard about the mass shooting at a high school in Broward County, Florida. From the right, we’re hearing all about the killer’s mental instability and accusations that the authorities didn’t act fast enough on the warning signs. On the left, a renewed call for gun control has arisen—to which we ask, “where are the democrats calling for gun control when cops kill teenagers?”

But barely anyone in the mainstream is talking about how, for the third time in a year, a new top ten deadliest massacre in American history was committed by another white man.

Although, for an instant, the media was enthusiastic about finding a connection between the shooter Nikolas Cruz and the white supremacist far-right, sparked by claims made by the leader of a fascist militia that the killer had participated in his group.

These claims were later discovered to be spurious, but there are still three points we’d like to make:

First, even if the racist militia leader’s claims are false, it still shows how dangerous organized white supremacists are. The fact that he would purposefully confuse and distract people from the truth of the events for mere publicity is disgusting. It signals to other fascists that massacres are useful media opportunities for leveraging their opinions.

Secondly, CNN reports that social media accounts believed to be Cruz’s included statements against Muslims and threats to kill antifascist protesters. The Daily Beast interviewed classmates of Cruz’s, who discussed how he would wear a MAGA hat to school. That same report featured YouTube comments praising Elliot Rodgers, another school shooter who was influenced by the Alt-Right and Men’s Right’s movements. Even if Cruz did not officially belong to any specific fascist organizations, it is clear that he was influenced and encouraged by the growth of their movements and their affiliated causes, like Men’s Rights, Islamophobia, and Trumpism. If you want to know more about Nikolas Cruz’s influences and online footprint, we recommend the “what we know piece” from It’s Going Down, titled, “Blood, Red, MAGA.”

Lastly, we’d like to point out that the media’s focus on Cruz’s scandalous comments has overshadowed the larger pattern of mass murders in the last year. Specifically, that the worst massacres from Las Vegas to Sutherland Springs, and now in Florida, were all committed by white men who were abusive towards women. Just like Trump, the latest arc of white masculine violence isn’t an aberration; it’s an extreme manifestation of the hierarchies of white supremacy and patriarchy, both of which are maintained with normalized, daily violence.

Some on the left have pointed out that if the killer had been brown or Muslim, headlines would abound about “terrorism.” If he had been Korean, we might have had a new war. For sure, on the one hand this is a racist double standard, but as we’ve discussed in previous Hotwires, we don’t find the term terrorism a particularly useful one. Discussing the Sutherland Springs mass shooting in Hotwire 12, we stated, “white men, the most violent people in the whole world and in all of history, continue to skirt the ‘t’-label. How? Well, the word ‘terrorism’ is a political term. Rather than describing specific behavior, it more so designates what groups are worthy of state repression and surveillance,” and in Hotwire 7 we argued for delegitimizing fascists for what they are, fascists, rather than as terrorists because, “At best, this strategy legitimizes the police as the only force who can supposedly keep us safe; and at worst it maintains Islam at the standard bearer for extreme hatred and violence, a paradigm that drives fascist recruiting in the first place!”

There are increasing calls to place more security at schools, with some lawmakers advocating that teachers be armed. You couple this with increased surveillance, and schools become even more like prisons than they already are. In the wake of Sandy Hook, many schools did in fact intensify their school security, but it was schools with a majority of students of color that were more inclined to adopt strict surveillance practices—metal detectors, locked gates, security cameras, random sweeps, and school police. This trend mirrors mainstream society, where white kids have greater privacy rights than kids of color. Therein lies a knock on effect of increasing school security-it exacerbates existing racial disparity. And with the majority of major school violence happening in schools primarily populated with white students, we don’t suppose we need to point out the sick irony of this game plan. 

Young folks around the country are getting organized in the wake of this latest shooting and are planning a national walkout on April 20. And students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County are organizing around the tragedy they just experienced. We got in touch with an anarchist in Fort Lauderdale who has been to some of their rallies. 
 Who are we speaking with today?

Patches: I’m Patches, I work with some different groups including Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward. I’m like the anarchist in this group but there’s a lot of other different people working on different issues.

Rebel Girl: And, what’s been going on since last week’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High?

Patches: Basically there’s been a lot of different protest activities that have been popping up where like for instance on Friday there was another high school called South Broward where a bunch of students just walked out. And in Parkland there is actually been like pop up protests in the neighborhood of that school like almost every day so we ended up running into some of those people before long.

And then, yeah, there was sort of like, I guess, a nation-wide call for people to do like demonstrations about gun legislation and stuff like that and so there was one in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

You know, we did this vigil today with Black Lives Matter to try to like show our solidarity and support with the people there. We had a lot of signs about this being an issue of white supremacy; that we need to do something about the patriarchal, violent men in our society. We have all had constant dealings with alt-right neo-Nazi white supremacists, you know, trying to figure out how to keep people from getting hurt at our own events, like all the time, because of that its something that we identify with strongly and we brought that message there. There was such a large amount of people there that obviously there were not everybody there that agreed with it, but I think overall we were really well received in what was like a really extraordinary situation where we didn’t really know how that was going to be.

Rebel Girl: And are there any early takeaways you think radicals elsewhere should know of?

Patches: But, ultimately like one things that I think is really interesting, especially as like a local organizer, is that here’s all these people in Broward County, like all these teenagers who are like all of a sudden are like these like, you know, all-in activist organizers like within like three days. And they are calling out the president on CNN or ABC.

And it might seen like these specific issues that we are talking about, might seem like something that we might not be super excited about, but I think having like a spontaneous and growing youth movement is a very positive thing, especially as like a local organizer, it’s like something people should probably be pretty excited about to see like spontaneous, new activist organizing. Especially like as opposed to this tragedy happening and something like that not happening.

I think that nation wide event is one of many things I’ve heard of just in the last few days and I think that there might probably be more school walk outs this week. If not in Broward County then in other places, I think people are really agitating for that right now and there’s a lot of possibility in those places: organizing and meeting with high schoolers that want to stage walk outs over the way that they are being treated by their school system and not just that but the entire adult world that has let them down. That’s a lot of the perspective that people are bringing, that teenagers are bringing up a lot. They want to stop going along with this, you know, system and cycle that adults have made for them because it’s letting them down and they’re going to stop cooperating and that sounds like it has a lot of potential.

Rebel Girl: With the renewed calls for gun control, we caught up with one of the authors of Dixie Be Damned and Politicians Love Gun Control to discuss how anarchists can engage critically with a possible movement in response to white, male mass shootings.

Shirley: First of all, speaking historically I think it’s important to understand that fundamentally gun control has emerged in waves in this country’s history directly as a reaction against black folks’ efforts towards their own liberation. And the specifics of that we don’t have time to get into, but you could talk about the period of reconstruction when folks were trying to protect themselves after their supposed emancipation, you could talk about Jim Crow era pistol permit purchase laws that allowed sheriffs to prevent folks from buying hand guns if they were black, you could talk about Ronald Reagan’s efforts to disarm the Black Panthers. So, I think it’s important to break with this liberal notion that gun control is something that, sort of, the state might do benevolently on behalf of communities that face a lot of gun violence. It’s actually quite the opposite.

The other thing I think it’s worth pointing out here is that gun control has emerged as kind of a sort of easy but easy but ultimately false flag for democrats to act like they are responding to a social problem. But I think the point is that party politics are really poorly situated to deal with the problem that cuts to the bone of American culture in such a unique and holistic way. The causes of these shootings are everything from toxic masculinity to post-industrial alienation to the complete break down of the mental health system in this country following neo-liberalism in the seventies and all that. There’s no one single cause going on, and the cause certainly isn’t extended magazines or pistol grips on rifles. On the other side, I will say that while party politics are really ill equipped to deal with this massive social problem, I think radical social movements on the other hand are really well equipped to deal with it. I think the framework of a social movement actually gives us the ability to address more holistically this kind of problem that just cuts down to the deep cultural level. The last thing I would say, back to talking about why I’m not into gun control, what’s very important is that increasingly in the last year we’ve seen how important our own ability to conduct armed community self-defense has been in the face of the rise of right-wing armed movements, lone right-wing shooters, much like Nikolas Cruz actually who are connected to white supremacist movements. It’s been increasingly necessary for us to have the ability to defend ourselves. And when we’ve given up the ability voluntarily, things can get really ugly really quick. So, I think it’s really important to situate and contextualize our own needs for armed community self defense as well, and all that. And of course, gun control is not going to allow for that. Any law that we assist the state in passing with regards to gun control will be used to repress our own social movements tenfold.

Rebel Girl: Does that mean you think it’s a waste of time for anarchists to engage in rallies coming out of the Parkland shooting, since they have such a gun control focus?

Shirley: I think we have to be critical of this moment and not leap to jump into the fray in a way that’s incoherent or inconsistent with our own principles. I also don’t think we should stand to the side and not be involved in any conversations. I think we have to step in the middle of a very complicated conversation that doesn’t have an immediately accessibly anarchist perspective and show up to public events and be explicit and well spoken and articulate about why we are not in favor of gun control, in fact, why we are directly opposed to it. But what are other ways that we can try and keep our community safer from the kinds of misogynistic and white supremacist violence that people like Nikolas Cruz represent. Whether or not any one specific demonstration or public forum is worth your time as an anarchist to go to and try to interject your own perspective is going to be up to you. I think sometimes those things are worth our time and sometimes they’re not. And there’s not a simple answer for that. But I would encourage folks to have increasingly nuanced conversations about firearms and firearms use and especially engage with and acknowledge the white supremacist history behind gun control and really actively call out liberals for that history.

REPRESSION ROUNDUP

Rebel Girl: In this week’s repression roundup…

News continues to trickle out of Florida prisons about the ongoing harassment and repression that prisoners active in Operation Push are enduring. Operation Push is a work stoppage organized by inmates and prisoners have issued three demands: 1. Payment for their labor 2. An end to outrageous canteen prices and 3. Reintroduction of parole incentives. In an audio account on It’s Going Down, an inmate involved in the strike reports that prior to the beginning of the work stoppage on January 15th, prisoners active in organizing the strike were transferred to both different facilities and solitary confinement. Additional measures of strike breaking include increased shakedowns and the termination of state phone service at some facilities. Florida prisons have a history of uprisings and work stoppages and the Florida Department of Corrections is using a steady campaign of repression to disrupt prisoners from organizing. You can follow the hashtag OperationPush on twitter and visit our shownotes for more information about the strike and how you can lend your support.

Scott Warren, the humanitarian aid worker whose human trafficking charges we mentioned last week, was just indicted on an additional charge of conspiracy, bringing his possible sentence up to 20 years. We have a link in our shownotes for a No More Deaths organized fundraiser for Scott’s legal costs.

On Monday, three members of the Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Rights, in Oaxaca, Mexico were murdered when their contingent was ambushed after leaving a meeting with the State Interior Ministry. They are organizing protests in response under the slogan “Don’t stay silent. Our tenderness will always be the solidarity among peoples, organize and fight, never again a Mexico without us!”

Animal Liberation Front prisoner Walter Bond has been transferred to the Terre Haute Communication Management Unit in Indiana. Needless to say, he could use some support in the form of correspondence. We have his new address in our shownotes, along with a link to an article about these especially restrictive units, also known as “little Guantanamos,” written by former political prisoner Daniel McGowan.

And some good news—on Monday, a judge in Durham, North Carolina dismissed two people’s cases and acquitted a third in the toppling of a confederate monument last summer, the video of which went viral. And yesterday, in the face of this loss, the prosecution proceeded to drop all charges against the remaining five suspects.

Radicals in Durham have marched, held press conferences, and kept up with the pressure against these charges since day one. When the District Attorney offered so-called “better deals” for those who turned themselves in, hundreds showed up at the courthouse to demonstrate that the so called conspiracy of tearing wond the racist legacy of confederate statues extended well beyond the people who put their hands on the rope. Direct action and solidarity gets the good y’all!

In the latest development in the J20 case, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is suing the DC police for collusion with far-right groups like the Oathkeepers and Project Veritas. For those who weren’t tuned in last season, prosecutors in the first J20 trial introduced evidence from doctored videos taken by Project Veritas, a right wing fake news group who were publicly disgraced when they discovered trying to dupe a Washington Post reporter. PCJF has won lawsuits against the DC police before, and we hope that this one works out in the favor of the remaining 59 J20 defendants.

And lastly, Puget Sound Anarchist Black Cross has organized a call-in campaign around Joy Powell, who was placed in solitary in retaliation for her doing a television interview exposing the brutality of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. The number they give for the superintendent of Bedford Hills is 914–241–3100. There’s a sample script linked in our shownotes.

NEXT WEEK’S NEWS

We’ll close out our episode with political prisoner birthdays and next week’s news.

Monday was the birthday of Kamau Sadiki, a Black Liberation Army political prisoner who was arrested in 2002, over 31 years after the murder he was framed up for.

And on the 26th, indigenous rights activist Byron Chubbuck, better known as Oso Blanco, locked up for robbing banks to raise funds for the Zapatista rebellion in Mexico.

Please take 5 minutes out of your day and write a letter to Kamau and Oso Blanco. Getting your letter can be the highlight of their week. We have their addresses in this episode’s shownotes at Crimethinc.com/podcast, as well as a link to a beginner’s guide to writing prisoners from New York City Anarchist Black Cross.

And now, next week’s news, our list of events that you can plug into in real life.

This Saturday, February 24 antifascists in Washington DC are calling for protests outside of a fancy alt-right event called “a night for freedom.” Ha. More like a night for dweebdom. They call for the protests to start at 5 PM and the location is to be determined, so stay tuned to facebook.com/AntifaDC for details… but may we suggest that you not go to that page while logged into facebook? Thanks.

This weekend, February 23 to the 26, the Earth First! Winter Rendezvous will take place near Kiln, Mississippi. There will be workshops, trainings, and movement building. Go to bellyofthebeastef.wordpress.com to find out more.

And if you do go and are anxious to put those new skills to the test, there is a week of action to stop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline from February 26 to March 4. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is the final, southern leg of the Dakota Access Pipeline System. You can check out @nobayoubridge on twitter or nobbp.org for a list of already planned actions and to find out which corporations, banks, and other entities profit from the pipeline.

On March 3rd and 4th there will be an anarchist bookfair in Hamilton, Ontario. There will be workshops on anarchist history that emphasizes women’s participation, stories from the Syrian revolution presented by a comrade from Damascus, a discussion of land defense across North America, and plenty of booksellers, infoshops, and childcare and kids activities. Go to steelcitybookfair.ca for more information.

The Stop Spencer Coalition at Michigan State University has just released their full plans for opposing Richard Spencer’s visit to Lansing on March 5. The brand new call, which you can find at It’s Going Down, includes printable flyers, points of unity that focus on solidarity and not working with the police, details about medics and legal observers, a map of the event area, and some strategic points. Basically, there’s just two main roads in and out of the venue. The Stop Spencer Coalition is calling for people to gather at noon on March 5, and they’re working on securing lots of parking for those who come in from out of town. The whole thing looks really organized, and we mean that in the best way possible. You can keep up with updates through their Twitter, @StopSpencerMSU.

Also, tomorrow February 22, the Stop Spencer Coalition is hosting a teach-in on free speech and fascist rhetorical strategies. It’s at Michigan State University MSU Union room 50 at 7:30 PM.

Starting March 7, CrimethInc. will be embark on a speaking tour for their latest book, From Democracy to Freedom. They will present in Pittsburgh on March 7, in Morgantown, West Virginia on March 8, in Cleveland on March 9, in Bowling Green, Ohio on March 10, in Chicago on March 11, in Bloomington on March 12, in Carbondale, Illinois on March 13, and in St. Louis later in March. Addresses and times for each event can be found at CrimethInc.com. If you’d like to arrange a presentation in your town or at your university, just contact rollingthunder@crimethinc.com.

Also in March, folks on the west coast can expect a J20 solidarity speaking tour. If you’re out west and it’s been hard for you to make sense of the J20 case, this is the perfect opportunity to be brought up to speed before the next batch of trials. If you want to help set up a speaking date, email westcoastj20tour@riseup.net.

The Southeast Trans and/or Women Action Camp will take place from April 26 to 29 in the smoky mountains of western North Carolina. The action camp is open to all trans and/or woman identified folks. The organizers’ call says, “This four-day camp will offer workshops on a wide range of topics such as earth skills, conflict resolution, botany, tree climbing, direct action, anti-racist organizing, indigenous caucus, black leadership training, prisoner support, security culture, herbalism and much, much more! We hope to incorporate and bring together a wide range of individuals from folks in rural appalachia to southern cities. The relationship between environmental movements and transformative racial and transgender justice is crucial and something that we hope to create discussion around.”

You can find out more by e-mailing setwac@protonmail.com.

And lastly, we’d like to thank everyone who has reached out in response to our first ever wishlist. The offers for help have been one, really useful, but two, totally uplifting. It’s touching to hear how many of y’all appreciate the show and are willing to help support us. CrimethInc. projects can always use more help, so if you haven’t checked it out yet head over to Crimethinc.com to see our full wishlist, entitled, “What We Need From You.” And to help The Hotwire get played on your local airwaves, send us an e-mail at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com.

OUTRO

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Categories: News

Class War in the Classroom: Defend Your Campus from Fascism

It's Goin Down - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 10:19

The post Class War in the Classroom: Defend Your Campus from Fascism appeared first on It's Going Down.

For the time being, the street presence of the neo-fascist movement has been decimated. What remains of the horde that invaded the Berkeley campus in April of 2017 has burnt itself out through a combination of ineptitude, infighting, and an inability to match the speed and reach of antifascist organizing. When the tattered remnants of the Alt-Right showed up to Chicano Park on February 3rd to protest murals, they were nothing more than a fly on the shoulder of the all-out party being enjoyed by the park’s occupants.

However, this raises the question: after the failure of Charlottesville and the winding down of public fascist mobilization, where did all of that early inertia go? Unsurprisingly, the revanchist political faction that fueled the Trump campaign has not vanished simply because the pugilistic boneheads have temporarily hung up their white laces. Rather, the fascist undercurrent of America has retreated to those spaces where it cannot be directly attacked, safely camouflaged by the far-right ecosystem which still holds legitimacy in the media, newspapers, podcasts, and most importantly, college campuses. While outright neo-Nazi propaganda is typically frowned upon by society, media figures like Tucker Carlson have tapped into the frustrated ethos of the white nationalist movement, reformatting their talking points for mass appeal. The rhetoric of fascism, hypernationalism, and xenophobia has unavoidably seeped into public discourse, and that is a point of no return.

Tucker Carlson wishes someone would let him know what a “white nationalist” is and how he qualifies. I gave it a shot: pic.twitter.com/BzW7iYBiBp

— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) January 24, 2018

But rhetoric alone cannot sustain a subculture, and what the neo-fascist movement needs most is fresh recruits. Winnowed by their constant failures, and overpowered by antifascist uprisings, white nationalists and their politically-adjacent sister movements have accelerated their recruitment drive on college campuses, in order to refill their dwindling ranks. The New Right organizations that acted as a vehicle for neo-fascism in 2016 have continued their offensive against leftist professors, campus protections for marginalized groups, and the ideological principles of inclusive education facilities. Known white nationalist groups have renewed their efforts to infiltrate universities, spread propaganda, platform their ideologies, and attract new members. Knowing that violent hate groups deliberately target disaffected young people who are easily drawn to a sense of community and belonging, it is imperative that this new threat be addressed. Furthermore, it should be remembered that since the 1960s, conservative activism on college campuses has been geared towards raising the next generation of politicians, students who will go on to run for local office, become advisors, senators, or even presidents. Considering the state of the modern conservative movement, the implications should be cause for alarm.

Just like in earlier decades of radical struggle, college students are shouldering a large portion of current social conflicts. Abandoned by the government, sidelined by unwilling or incapable college administrations, and left vulnerable to the predations of neo-fascists, they have had to organize and advocate for themselves. In response to growing protests against Alt-Right activity, anti-racist and antifascist students are now being hobbled even further by campus policies that are ostensibly meant to protect equal freedom of speech, but in reality are widening the foothold of white nationalists whose very presence in a university constitutes a threat to the wellbeing of other students. The antifascist movement cannot rest on its laurels while our youngest members are now bearing the brunt of the fight, a burden that hinders their education, jeopardizes their bodily safety, and regularly causes them to be silenced, dehumanized, or punished when they take action. The saplings of the neo-fascist movement have been cut down, but to prevent a resurgence, the roots must be pulled up as well.

THERE IS NO “FREE SPEECH” IN A HIERARCHICAL SOCIETY

The night of February 1st, 2017, then-superstar of the Alt-Right, Milo Yiannopoulos, experienced consequences for the first time in his brief period of celebrity status. Understandably, this was a shocking moment for him. For years, he had been allowed to energize harassment campaigns in the interest of inflating his persona, safe from meaningful scrutiny or pushback from the majority of society, causing an unbelievable amount of suffering to the people he helped to terrorize. He had outed a trans student in front of a crowd of anti-trans bigots, and bragged about the possibility he would be snitching on an undocumented student. Suddenly, overnight, his invincibility was gone. The black bloc arrived, chased him out of Berkeley, and ultimately contributed to his collapse as a public figure.

But predictably, the resultant media cycle was centered around infuriatingly hollow defenses of Milo’s “free speech” rights. The level of concern that was absent for Anita Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn while they were coping with death threats was effortlessly summoned for Milo, one of the architects of their suffering. This began a repugnant trend in how college politics are discussed and debated: no amount of orchestrated intimidation, slander, or harassment qualifies as a “denial of free speech” when it targets a marginalized individual or a leftist. Yet any attempt to fight back, to deplatform people who encourage the isolation and vilification of the socially vulnerable, brings forth breathless, thundering denunciations from every hack journo in America.

At the core of this debate is a simple truth which seemingly no major publication is capable of perceiving: in a hierarchical, class-based society, there is no such thing as “free speech.” Because the freedom to speak comes with the possibility of backlash, it is actually social capital and legitimacy that determines how freely one can express themselves in society. The greater the likelihood that your speech will be defended by a sympathetic or permissive public, the greater latitude you have to abuse that freedom to intimidate others. Conversely, those people who are already excluded or legitimized by society risk much more when they critique the nation or express their identity. The same culture that exalts itself for bravely tolerating Klan rallies in the name of free speech absolutism, will also decry BLM activists as being “racially divisive,” and shrug when confronted with the level of unjustified police surveillance their movement endures. There’s a reason those Klansmen don’t bother wearing their hoods anymore.

This demonstrates the mechanism by which codified “freedom of speech” was eventually hijacked by the far-right, and weaponized to advance their agenda. The very concept relies on the influence of the state in imposing social order. So long as nothing Milo did seriously violated the letter of the law, there was no wrongdoing, no matter how much damage he inflicted. But because the Berkeley crew shut him down without license from the state, they were scolded for breaking protocol, irrespective of how great a moral imperative they had to oppose him. In the final analysis, the “campus free speech” debate is actually an argument over how much responsibility we have to obey codes of law which, themselves, facilitate our oppression and promulgate a lopsided society. To the liberal and conservative blocs, law itself is the axis of morality, because it is ordained by the state; if we silence any individual voice, they claim, we are endangering freedom of expression altogether. Paradoxically, they make a demand of oppressed peoples to not resist their own speech being threatened or policed, if the culprit has the law on their side. This self-defeating ideology infects everything from denunciations of the J20 defendants to sanitized interpretations of the original Free Speech Movement which loudly disobeyed both the police and the administrative policies of UC Berkeley in order to achieve political freedom for themselves. Radical action outside of state control, no matter how necessary, is a sin in the eyes of statistics. Incidentally, the FSM was completely rejected by ’60s conservatives, just as the Civil Rights Movement was rejected by most ’60s liberals.

It’s only logical that the ultimately reactionary fashion in which “free speech” is protected in America has become a cudgel in the hands of the right wing. Not only does it insulate conservatives by processing their angst through the judicial system, meaning revolutionary elements will be disregarded outright from the process, but lawsuits are also prohibitively expensive, and therefore favor the wealthy class. The new tactic of the far-right is to simply bludgeon every university with the threat of legal action while incrementally shifting campus policy rightward, and introducing exponentially more grotesque forms of neo-fascist ideology. Presently, the YAF is moving forward with their lawsuit against UC Berkeley, pertaining to cancellation of Ann Coulter’s speaking event in April of 2017. This coincided with the appearance of a band of unambiguous neo-Nazis who attacked students freely, aided by the local police who stripped the antifascist resistance of their weapons and stood back when the inevitable combat ensued [1]. Berkeley, the lawsuit alleges, violated the First Amendment rights of the YAF when it charged “exorbitant” security fees for the event. Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has filed a statement of interest, siding with the YAF against the campus [2]. The YAF have a much larger war chest than the average student group, funded by both conservative donors and the Leadership Institute, meaning they can leverage the threat of a lengthy court case against any campus that doesn’t completely acquiesce to their introduction of anti-trans, anti-Muslim, and anti-feminist speaking events with figures like Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro, and Robert Spencer. It’s the exact same methodology employed by white nationalists; each time they succeed in forcing a campus to host Richard Spencer, they have also justified and normalized the use of massive police deployments to ensure the state’s decision on the matter can’t be challenged. UC Berkeley alone shelled out four million dollars for security fees in 2017.

Turning Point USA has also made good use of this blindspot in liberal both-sideism. Not only have they regularly platformed the demagogues of the Alt-Right, but they have increased the scope of their assault on campus policies that discourage or punish the dehumanization of their fellow students. They are currently engaged in a campaign spanning 21 states to enact versions of the “Campus Free Speech Act,” the model legislation of which was drafted by the Goldwater Institute. It includes the nullification of existing hate speech policies and imposing a fine of up to $100,000 on students who disrupt scheduled speakers, to prevent the “heckler’s veto” [3]. Similar legislation in Nebraska came on the heels of the TPUSA smear campaign against graduate student Courtney Lawton of UNL [4]. It would require the campus to organize committees to record potential infringements of the free speech policies, instate a three-strikes rule for offenders, and regularly report to the state government. The North Carolina “Restore Campus Free Speech Act” contains a sanction against any action that interferes with the free expression of other students, including – quelle surprise – the act of protest or counter-demonstration [5]. All told, this is a highly focused, government-sanctioned effort from TPUSA and its various conservative supporters to annihilate the possibility of dissent on campus, and it is gaining traction. The fact that it seeks to “enshrine free speech” by severely punishing expressions of opposition is beyond parody.

Behind this kind of legal jousting, TPUSA has continued its onslaught against leftist professors and students alike, completely unchallenged by the same institutions they accuse of not properly ensuring their freedom of expression. Turning Point has already been exposed for funneling dark money into student elections, attempting to override the will of student bodies and inject far-right ideology into campus politics. Candidates of theirs were forced to drop out of elections in Ohio State and the University of Maryland when these unauthorized donations came to light, but Charlie Kirk has already explicated that this is the real objective of his organization:

[[A copy of a Turning Point brochure prepared for potential donors that I obtained provides a glimpse into the group’s tactics. (A former Turning Point employee said the brochure was closely held, and not posted online so that it couldn’t leak.) Its “Campus Victory Project” is described as a detailed, multi-phase plan to “commandeer the top office of Student Body President at each of the most recognizable and influential American Universities.”

Phase 1 calls for victory in the “Power 5” conference schools, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Pacific 12 Conference, the Big 12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference. Phase 2 calls for winning the top student-government slots in every Division 1 N.C.A.A. school, of which it says there are more than three hundred. In the first three years of the plan, the brochure says, the group aims to capture the “outright majority” of student-government positions in eighty per cent of these schools.]] ~ Jane Mayer, The New Yorker [6]

Meanwhile, TPUSA is still operating its Professor Watchlist, a McCarthyist catalogue of professors who have expressed opinions which, allegedly, reveal an anti-conservative bias in the classroom. Many entries are scrubbed of their context to sound ludicrous, then reported and cited through Campus Reform, TPUSA’s personal yellow journalism rag. Courtney Lawton and Amanda Gailey were both targeted at UNL, and both received a torrent of threats afterward. Tariq Khan, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, received the same treatment, and is still being harassed by far-right goons [7]. Sarah Bond of the University of Iowa ended up on the Watchlist for explaining that the use of white marble statuary contributed to the adoption of the word “white” as a racial identifier for light-skinned peoples; she received numerous threats after Campus Reform reworded her speech, claiming she’d called appreciation of marble sculptures a racist act. [8] George Ciccariello-Maher was eventually forced to leave campus when he was attacked for mocking the myth of “white genocide,” and his university bowed to the hate mob rather than standing up for the safety and basic freedoms of a professor. His students protested for his protection, to no avail.

Charlie Kirk’s excuse is that these actions are not his responsibility. “We do not call for any of that sort of harassment,” he told CNN in response to threats against these educators [9]. “We don’t condone it. We don’t try to facilitate any sort of cyber bullying or harassment. And just because you put up the words, or another article that’s been written about a professor in an aggregated format, does not mean we should be held responsible for what other people do.” That’s certainly a convenient mentality; it’s not Charlie’s fault that teachers listed by Turning Point are threatened, professionally blackballed, and pushed out of their job based on the slander his organization prints. He can’t help it if his followers are violent bullies who lash out at every teacher he holds up as a punching bag. He doesn’t condone their behavior, but he won’t interfere with it, either. If this technique of barely-plausible deniability sounds familiar, it’s because Milo Yiannopoulos built a career on that same cheap excuse.

There are two lessons to be found here. The first is that state-based solutions to the fascist menace on campus are useless. Any appeal to existing forms of authority will only result in policies built to uphold the concerns of those who benefit from the status quo. Even colleges which would be willing to protect their students cannot hope to outspend the blackshirt organizations in a prolonged legal battle. The second is that our so-called “freedom of speech” is a myth. It is a hollow platitude used in conversation to cast each of these conflicts as a battle over the right of every human to speak freely. Yet the standard is never applied equally, always at the mercy of reactionaries who actively work to stifle the speech of their political enemies. For every professor or student who is told to suck it up and endure orchestrated intimidation or dehumanization through a bullhorn, there is a rightist whose selfish, infantile shrieking over non-binary gender pronouns is rewarded. While Turning Point claims to only be preaching the value of free market ideals and traditional conservatism, they repeatedly platform speakers who call every trans student a mentally ill child predator, every Muslim student a secret terrorist, and every rape survivor a lying harpy. They use their wealthy donor base to subvert the democratic process of student government elections. And yet no consideration is given to the students targeted by TPUSA’s hateful rhetoric, and how their lives will be affected by the real, material consequences of normalizing and encouraging xenophobia.

10 confederate flag posters w/ cotton stuck to them were hung around American Univeristy in DC tonight. Im w/ 2 black students who r shaken pic.twitter.com/wORotKYQZk

— Dena Takruri (@Dena) September 27, 2017

Militant antifascism rejects, categorically, the suggestion that fascists should be given a chance to thrive. Capitulation to the neo-fascist movement means enabling the creation of a power base which, if it acquires control over state machinery, will threaten the liberty of millions. Paradoxically, liberal society demands that we tolerate the speech of fascists, allow them to organize, and calmly await the day they rob us of our own freedoms or, as the case may be, our lives. Conservatives may believe all speech occurs in a vacuum and words have no real power, but any rational adult can understand the connection between the rise of Donald Trump, and the measurable spike in hate crimes against Muslims, the queer community, and immigrants which occurred shortly after his election [10]. So long as TPUSA, the YAF, and the College Republicans are active on a campus, bigotry will have a safe haven, and that toxicity will attract characters far more unsavory than Charlie Kirk.

WHITE NATIONALISTS ON CAMPUS

In recent weeks, there has been an explosion of white nationalist activity in colleges. Andrew Oswalt, a PhD candidate and member of Oregon State University ASOSU House of Representatives – a body tasked with providing legal advocacy for students – was exposed as a white nationalist [11]. But really, the word “exposed” isn’t entirely accurate; hours earlier, he had given an interview to the student paper of OSU, the Daily Barometer, explicitly stating his neo-fascist, white supremacist political views [12]. Andrew Damitio, a member of the OSU student senate, claimed “It was very open that he was alt-right. It was never a secret.” The real extent of his involvement, however, didn’t come to light until after he was arrested for planting racist stickers on the bumpers of progressive students, and antifascists uncovered his deeper connections.

OSU students vote to oust graduate rep accused of hate crime https://t.co/bdr8xYyUtE pic.twitter.com/l1TCbAvtr7

— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) February 17, 2018

Our comrades of the PWNAWC, Rose City Antifa, and Eugene Antifa used their extensive catalogue of information on fascists to determine that Oswalt is a prominent white nationalist who goes by the online handle of “DatGoy.” [13] He has been present at numerous fascist and white supremacist rallies, including one hosted by American Front, a neo-Nazi gang, wherein he personally held the Nazi Kriegsflagge. He was an active organizer on a Pacific Northwest neo-fascist Discord server, regularly joked about genocidal fantasies, participated in a banner drop which read “Un-Jew Humanity,” and was responsible for hanging the Confederate flag in a window facing the OSU Black Cultural Center. Oswalt is an enthusiastic participant and recruiter for the white nationalist cause, and until last month, he had material influence within a student government body entrusted with advocating for students’ rights.

Andrew Oswalt is emblematic of the new white nationalist offensive on college campuses. Instances of neo-fascist and white supremacist propaganda appearing in universities tripled during 2017, attributed to groups like Identity Evropa, Patriot Front, the TWP, and the murderous Atomwaffen Division [14]. In Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, student and Identity Evropa affiliate Casey Cooper is still attending class a year after he sent a lynching threat to a black community organizer [15]. At the University of Lincoln-Nebraska, hundreds turned out to protest the presence of Daniel Kleve, a self-identified white supremacist and member of Vanguard America, after he posted a video expressing his violent, genocidal beliefs [16]. Members of the Pitt College Republicans were discovered to be members of a racist joke-sharing group on Facebook [17]. The Berkeley College Republicans, formerly headed by neo-fascist Troy Worden, remain a vector for additional white nationalist organizing. Members of TPUSA have appeared on Gavin McGinnes’ podcast, and one member of TPUSA’s leadership, Crystal Clayton, was caught sending the message “I hate Black people. Like fuck them all… I hate Blacks. End of story.” [18] Essentially, if there is a chapter of Turning Point, the YAF, or the College Republicans on a college campus, they are most likely involved with racists, neo-fascists, and/or white nationalists in some capacity. It is through these “respectable” organizations that the white nationalist movement gains access to college students, masked by the safe “conservative” image of the host organization and protected by campus free speech policies like those TPUSA and the YAF are pursuing.

College conservative organizations are not “student activist groups.” They are, rather, highly connected, de facto organs of the GOP which have injected far-right talking points into the university environment. When this method was used in Fascist Italy, the organization was the Opera Nazionale Balilla, a student group which groomed young men to become fascists, then shuttled them into the ranks of the Blackshirts, the vigilante squads Mussolini used to terrorize and murder leftist political enemies. In modern America, the equivalent is the New Right, a loose collection of conservative activist groups which coalesced around the Barry Goldwater campaign, formed an alliance with the Republican party, and worked to eradicate radical leftist ideology in colleges. The YAF, TPUSA, and CR’s function as an astroturfing operation, laying the groundwork for neo-fascism by spreading propaganda, platforming nationalistic and xenophobic beliefs, creating footholds for outright white nationalist groups, and stoking conspiracies about a leftist cabal of professors oppressing conservative students.

White nationalists are also making more brazen attempts to intimidate any opposition. Members of Identity Evropa interrupted an ethnic studies course at UC San Diego, sitting through the lecture and taking notes while periodically messaging on their phones. They claimed they were there to “observe” the class, then flashed IE badges as they left [19]. This curious display of formalistic behavior was uneventful, but it raises concerns about violent neo-Nazis trying to police university life. The TWP has announced their intentions to start a college tour in the style of Richard Spencer, starting in Knoxville, where they misrepresented themselves as a church group in order to secure space for their event [20]. At the University of Tennessee, they spraypainted white supremacist slogans on a monument. Earlier this month, members of the TWP and their allies arrived at the Colorado State campus in Fort Collins during a TPUSA speaking event. They canvased the surrounding area with flyers a few days earlier, but tried to deny they would be attending the event. Thankfully, the local NoCoAnCo crew didn’t buy it and gathered at CSU; when the TWP showed up late in the night to harass the crowd of protesters, they were swiftly removed by antifascists, and some were later identified with footage of the short-lived fight [21].

These are the two elements of the neo-fascist movement. While neo-Nazi groups attack and recruit from the outside, New Right student organizations provide a more legitimate face for the neo-fascist movement, often coordinating with its leaders, while also softening official campus resistance to the rhetoric of racial hatred, misogyny, queerphobia, and brutal nationalism. The hybrid far-right social movement they are welcoming into student populations has, to date, killed dozens of people [22]. One of those people was Richard Collins the III, killed by a radicalized fascist [23]. The far-right is responsible for almost all of political violence committed in America [24]. The average number of far-right attacks has ballooned during the Trump presidency to 300 attacks per year [25]. It is physically dangerous to include white nationalists in a college environment, and permitting them to spread their ideology allows them to also build networks of support.

This is why the struggle against the neo-fascist movement cannot be compared to a scholarly debate between philosophers, as Charlie Kirk would ask us to do. While he’s scoffing about welfare recipients and hate speech codes, the movement to which he materially contributed has taken numerous lives. He used Breitbart to spread his message, worked for months with the Trump campaign to secure the youth vote, and even platformed major figures of the Alt-Right to attract support from their fan bases. He has fought against campus policies on the behalf of viewpoints he shares with open white supremacists. While he puffs up his chest about MS-13, Trump’s overhyped boogeyman [26], Charlie has helped stoke the fires of fascist violence. Maybe he genuinely considers himself part of a separate, coincidental movement, but his opinion on the matter is irrelevant. Charlie may believe his words really have no effect on anybody’s actions, but if that’s the case, why does he hold motivational speaking events to encourage conservative mobilization?

ORGANIZING AND ENABLING STUDENT RESISTANCE

[[The Campus Antifascist Network understands freedom of speech as an important tool for political dissent, and one that should be protected when used without the threat of producing serious physical or mental harm to others. Fascism, however, is not merely a speech-act or set of ideas: it is a social program aimed toward undermining democracy, murdering its opponents, and establishing a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic, transphobic, ableist and nationalist authoritarian state. As such, CAN argues that Fascism should *not* be protected as free speech because speech in support of such a social program is always an expression of violence.

Indeed, Fascist speech on college campuses undermines free speech more than it advances it. By violently disrupting the conditions for all to speak freely, especially for those individuals and groups who are already marginalized, fascist speech attempts to hide its program by deploying “free speech” in order to destroy the free speech of others.]] ~ CAN Statement on Free Speech and College Campuses

For students who have experienced the resurgence of white supremacist activity, this situation may feel daunting. Unlike the ragtag groups of thugs employed by the neo-fascist movement in 2017, the agents of white nationalism on campus have immense protection from the state. Moving forward, speeches delivered by right-wing provocateurs will probably enjoy heavy police protection, a response to the victories of the black bloc last year. Policies will be adapted to appease blackshirt organizations, prioritizing their temper tantrums over the safety of other students. This does not mean, however, that antifascist action is impossible. The law does not dictate our behavior, it only imposes obstacles that shape our response. Antifascism has proven to be an effect means of quarantining white nationalist activity and depriving it of momentum, and is a flexible means of defending communities rom fascist violence. So, how can students participate?

The objective of militant antifascism is the destruction of those resources which fascists use to advance their agenda. This can roughly be broken down into three categories; intimidation, social acceptance, and secrecy. As this essay has outlined, neo-fascism infiltrated college campuses by way of crypto-fascist student groups, who made space for taboo xenophobic beliefs to become acceptable again. To support this objective, they quietly partnered with hardcore white nationalists while stirring up anti-left hysteria among conservatives. This produced an environment in which any racist idea could be submitted as “free speech,” any progressive objection could be used as evidence of anti-conservative bias, and the presence of literal neo-Nazis could be incrementally normalized. However, this model of organization has a critical flaw; it has a limited pool of public tolerance in which to operate. The Nazi party was not widely beloved by Germany, but rather managed to sneak its way to political power by courting liberals long enough to seize control, before unleashing their true intentions. Without the early support and acceptance they enjoyed, the Nazis would have been crushed in their infancy. The question, then, is how can these resources be taken away?

Can you damage the secrecy by which neo-fascists conceal their behavior? As a student, are you aware of the blackshirt organizations on your campus? Do you know if there is a chapter of TPUSA, the YAF, or the College Republicans active in your college? Do you know the name of their chapter president, and do you have the ability to monitor the chapter’s activity? The bulk of antifascist work is based on careful observation; when connections are made between online activity, poorly-concealed associations with white nationalist groups, and publicly available photos, it is easier to identify neo-fascist organizers, as with the Andrew Oswalt case. When a neo-fascist student is exposed to the public, they may be protected by campus policies, but their ability to act is significantly decreased. If you discover a student interacting with white nationalist groups on social media, do you know how to contact a local antifascist chapter, or a revolutionary media source, to make the information available to the public? Do you know how to protect your own skin in the process, practice “security culture,” and use encrypted services like Protonmail to safely transmit information to one another?

Can you chip away at the public acceptance of fascism and white supremacy? Could you patrol your campus, alone or with an affinity group, to remove or replace white supremacist propaganda? The presence of flyers or stickers advertising a white nationalist group or slogan is demoralizing for vulnerable students, a physical reminder that bigotry is largely permitted by society. Conversely, public acts of simple solidarity like banner drops or social media awareness campaigns make a visible statement against the presence of fascism on campus, and encourage people to openly oppose it. Could you agitate campus officials to publicly denounce neo-Nazi groups like the TWP if they are active in your school? Can you out your local fascists by posting flyers of your own, exposing their racist beliefs and depriving them of plausible deniability? Would you be willing to organize letter-writing campaigns or phone zaps to demand the expulsion of white nationalist students?

Can you strike back against the intimidation tactics of neo-fascists? Could you organize a defense committee if a fellow undergraduate, graduate, or professor was targeted by TPUSA’s watchlist? When a person finds themselves the target of a fascist harassment campaign, what they need most is a group of sympathetic actors who can reach out to them, amplify their voice, and make certain their side of the story isn’t drowned in the inevitable conservative witch-hunt. Like George Ciccariello’s students, could you protest on behalf of one of your teachers and demand they be protected by the campus? Can you reach out to other campuses and establish communication with likeminded antifascists? Could you provide material support, and offer to walk other students to class if they’re enduring threats of violence? If public demonstration is still an option for your campus, could you add your voice to the opposition of a fascist speaking event?

There is no strict itinerary for antifascist action, and practically anyone can participate in the process of education, agitation, and organization. The black bloc has become the public face of antifascism thanks to the sensationalist media, but that is a fraction of the movement’s methodology. Militant antifascism, at its core, is a program of mutual defense. Each participant recognizes that from a historically-informed perspective, fascism is an unqualified danger to humanity, and that anybody isolated by widespread xenophobia might become a victim of the bloodshed which always accompanies a fascist regime. Ergo, the only effective prescription is for citizens to band together, adopt a militant attitude towards the presence and public organization of neo-fascists, and to protect one another in any way possible. When this is accomplished across multiple regions, platforms, and interlocking struggles, it becomes a bulwark against the kind of violence that exploded across the country in 2017. If there is any doubt about the effectiveness of antifascism, just take a look at what remains of the star-spangled goons of the Alt-Right.

SOURCES

[1] https://itsgoingdown.org/how-berkeley-police-helped-alt-right-trolls-with-no-permit-stage-rally/
[2] http://www.dailycal.org/2018/01/28/us-department-justice-supports-free-speech-lawsuit-uc-berkeley/
[3] https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=10320
[4] http://journalstar.com/legislature/unl-faculty-say-free-speech-bill-an-attempt-to-squash/article_c0c8690b-ed27-5f9b-8280-685aaaf37dee.html
[5] https://piedmontsundial.com/calendar/calendar_main_article.php?theArticle=27
[6] https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-conservative-nonprofit-that-seeks-to-transform-college-campuses-faces-allegations-of-racial-bias-and-illegal-campaign-activity
[7] http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/illinois-student-targeted-by-alt-right-after-confrontation-at-anti-fascist-rally/
[8] https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/19/classicist-finds-herself-target-online-threats-after-article-ancient-statues
[9] https://www.cnn.com/2017/12/21/us/university-professors-free-speech-online-hate-threats/index.html
[10] http://www.newsweek.com/trump-speech-anti-muslim-hate-crime-terrorism-study-713905
[11] http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/01/osu_student_government_members.html
[12] http://www.orangemedianetwork.com/daily_barometer/alt-right-member-of-asosu-faces-removal-strong-opposition-to/article_d068cb86-ff40-11e7-b6fb-4330fb9b0c5b.html
[13] https://pnwawc.com/2018/01/24/andrew-oswalt-is-datgoy-a-neo-nazi-you-dont-want-this-guy-teaching-you/
[14] http://www.newsweek.com/white-supremacist-propaganda-college-rise-triple-trump-798025
[15] https://torchantifa.org/?p=698
[16] http://www.dailynebraskan.com/news/hundreds-attend-no-nazis-on-unl-campus-rally/article_23f5c87c-0c56-11e8-9f2f-73b0a6bee8a7.html
[17] https://thetab.com/us/pitt/2018/01/25/pitt-college-republicans-outed-for-sharing-racist-anti-semitic-memes-in-groupme-7730
[18] http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43419-young-fascists-on-campus-turning-point-usa-and-its-far-right-connections#15181409590911&action=collapse_widget&id=0&data=
[19] http://ucsdguardian.org/2018/01/29/white-supremacist-group-disrupts-ethnic-studies-class-black-resource-center/
[20] https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/05/white-nationalist-matthew-heimbach-kicking-campus-speaking-tour-tennessee
[21] https://itsgoingdown.org/report-back-the-battle-at-colorado-state-university/
[22] https://www.splcenter.org/20180205/alt-right-killing-people#noteven
[23] http://www.newsweek.com/fbi-alleged-alt-reich-college-stabber-racial-hatred-687584
[24] https://theintercept.com/2017/05/31/the-numbers-dont-lie-white-far-right-terrorists-pose-a-clear-danger-to-us-all/
[25] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/09/killed-hate-victims-america-violence-170924153101480.html
[26] https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/06/trump-ms-13/528453/

Categories: News

Fukushima operator to pay 100,000 pounds to family of 102-year-old who killed himself when told to flee

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 09:51

Fukushima operator to pay 100,000 pounds to family of 102-year-old who killed himself when told to flee | 20 Feb 2018 | The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant [Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)] has been ordered to pay 15.2 million yen (100,000 pounds) in compensation to the family of a man who killed himself when he was told to flee after tsunami waves overwhelmed the reactor. Thousands of people were told to leave their homes in April 2011, a month after the tsunami sent the Fukushima plant into meltdown. 102-year-old Fumio Okubo, who lived in a village 40km (25 miles) from the plant, was among those told to leave. After he received the evacuation order, he took his own life.

Categories: News

Ottawa’s Anarchist Renaissance: Announcing Resistance is Fertile 2018

It's Goin Down - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 09:08

The post Ottawa’s Anarchist Renaissance: Announcing Resistance is Fertile 2018 appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following announcement and report comes from anarchists in Ottawa, Canada.

Over the past year, there has been something of a resurgence in anarchist activity in Ottawa, a vibrant community has begun to form, and it feels like the conditions are right for rapid growth in the radical milieu of our city. That is why we say: Resistance is Fertile!

Most visibly, for the first time since the shuttering of Exile Infoshop over 7 years ago, Ottawa now has a anarchist social center that is not also a punk house. This social center, known as the Garden Spot (or G-Spot for short) is near Carleton University, and is already serving to bring together radical and leftist students from Carleton, the University of Ottawa, high schools, and the broader community. To build on the current momentum, we decided to hold a series of events of interest to comrades and newcomers alike.

You can find the Facebook event for the week of activities here.

The schedule for the week is as follows:

Monday: DOUBLE WHAMMY

The Truth about Truth and Reconciliation at Faith House

Concerning Violence Movie Screening with Anti Colonial Action at the Garden Spot

Tuesday:

Kurdish Voices on the Rojava Revolution (G-Spot)

Wednesday:

Anarchist Community Organizing (G-Spot)

This event is for people who are currently involved in anarchist projects in Ottawa – please request an invite if you would like to attend.

Thursday:

Closed workshop

Friday:

Daughters of Dust Viewing to celebrate Black History Month (G-Spot)

Saturday: DOUBLE WHAMMY

The Garden Spot is sponsoring a for youth by youth “Alt Art Show”

Canadian Involvement in the Pillaging of Latin America (Faith House)

Sunday:

Black Sheep Supper Club Round #7 (G-Spot)

We have a triple aim with this project: to educate, to inspire, and to provide space in which activists can get to know each other. As always, we will be providing free vegetarian food (with vegan options) at all events. Help procuring, preparing & serving food is always appreciated, as is help cleaning up afterwards.

It is our great pleasure to be able to offer all of these workshops free of charge, although we welcome donations and may pass the hat. 100% of donations will go to the presenters. We are doing all of these events with zero budget.

Our hope with this week is also to draw in a new wave of enthusiastic people into our budding community, so please come on out and help us stimulate the G-Spot!

Categories: News

Explosion at US embassy in Montenegro

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 09:03

Explosion at US embassy in Montenegro | 22 Feb 2018 | There has been an explosion at the US Embassy in Montenegro, the government says. An unidentified attacker threw an explosive device into the embassy compound in the capital Podgorica, before killing himself, it tweeted. It said the device thrown was likely a hand grenade. A guard at a nearby sports centre told the AFP news agency he "heard two explosions, one after another".

Categories: News

Attacker throws grenade at US Embassy in Montenegro, kills self with 2nd explosive device

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 08:52

Attacker throws grenade at US Embassy in Montenegro, kills self with 2nd explosive device | 22 Feb 2018 | The US mission in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, has urged people to avoid the area following a grenade attack on the diplomatic premises by an unknown assailant, who subsequently blew himself up with a second device. The attack happened around 00:30 local time Thursday, when an "unknown person" threw an "explosive device" from the street into the US embassy compound, the government of Montenegro announced on Twitter. Authorities believe that the projectile thrown was a hand grenade. Immediately afterward the assailant "committed suicide with an explosive device," the statement added.

Categories: News

District Will Suspend Kids Who Leave Class to Protest Florida Shooting

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 08:38

District Will Suspend Kids Who Leave Class to Protest Florida Shooting | 21 Feb 2018 | "We are here for an education and not a political protest." That's the message from Needville ISD Superintendent Curtis Rhodes Tuesday in response to a call by political groups for students to walk out of class to protest gun issues in the wake of the Florida school shooting. In a post on Facebook, Rhodes said, "A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally. A disruption will not be tolerated." Rhodes said that students who walk out of class -- or disrupt school -- to protest current gun laws face a possible suspension. "They will be suspended from school for three days and face all the consequences that come along with an out-of-school suspension."

Categories: News

Report Back from Confronting the TWP at the University of Knoxville

It's Goin Down - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 05:54

The post Report Back from Confronting the TWP at the University of Knoxville appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following report back comes from Nashville ARA, who discusses a recent mobilization against a neo-Nazi group in Tennessee.

We came, we saw, fascists took over Knoxville. Not literally of course, and their victory was not won in our preferred arena. We’ll take our wins there. Now is the time for increased action.

The Holler Network welcomed us back for the second time in less than a month to join them and drive TWP back out by any means necessary. The TWP can’t and wont beat us with force. They win through laws, politics, and hiding behind cops. It has become abundantly clear that law enforcement will not only fulfill their legal obligations to protect Nazis and fascists, but they will do so willingly and joyfully.

TFW you hold a "National Socialism or Death" speaking event and can't even fill up two rows. Also: Hot Topic circa 1997 called and wants it's wardrobe back. #NoNazisinKnox pic.twitter.com/uHjw0P6TWh

— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) February 17, 2018

In a recent post and call to action, we predicted that Heimbach and the TWP would:

pull into a parking structure where they are greeted by their police escort. They will discuss the minutes of previous meetings between them and the local police department where plans for security and details of the day will be laid out. They will leave the parking structure under the protection of law enforcement and proceed to their destination. They will be guarded as they safely park and leave their vehicles and make their way to their pre-arranged location with police and sheriffs watching for anti-fascists who will likely show up to do whatever is necessary to make it as hard for them to speak as possible.

That is exactly what happened, again, on February 17th at UT. It keeps happening. We will never get another Charlottesville. We will never get the chance again to openly engage racists in physical street combat on that level without police intervening to save the Nazis from antifa. Not anytime soon. We knew we were facing a situation without any real optimal planning choices.

We had just been to Knoxville in January for the Women’s March, where Heimbach marched again into town under police protection to protest feminism and promote segregation and racism. Meanwhile, anti-racist organizers are pinpointed, followed and monitored by fascists and pigs at the same time. Actively collaborating and communicating with each other. This was a repeat of what we witnessed in Murfreesboro at Heimbach’s “White Lives Matter” rally, which was supposed to be Unite the Right 2.0.

USA: Estudiantes y miembros de la comunidad educativa protestan contra Matthew Heimbach y sus violentos matones neonazis para que no sean bienvenidos en #Knoxville #Tennessee. ¡Apoya la movilización, #NoNazisInKnox! Foto @LeftistScumbag pic.twitter.com/JlddIVVAOW

— Revolución Real Ya (@RRYrevolucion) February 17, 2018

Heimbach is making a play to take over Appalachia and grow his movement by exploiting the struggles of poor, working class white folx. With the current political climate and collaboration of law enforcement/government agencies with neo-Nazi and fascist organizations, they have that advantage. But The Holler Network isn’t backing down in defending their territory and ARA will always be there when the call is made.

To us, the question we have to ask ourselves moving forward is how much are we willing to risk, and how much are we willing to lose to be effective in our fight? When your life is on the line the answer is easy; everything. The key to success is failure, and not every failure is a loss. We failed at our objective of getting to strike at fash. But we were successful in laying the foundation for the next steps and gaining critical pieces. The protest and speech went exactly how we knew it would go, as we observed. Big shout out to our friends at Mercy Junction and Peace Center for once again, as always, putting their bodies and freedom on the line. We appreciate y’all and everything you do for us and for your community. Beth Foster and four other members of the clergy and comrades were arrested and detained for civil disobedience.

Today again shows that without the protection of the State and police, and media to give them a huge platform, the Alt-Right holds little power. The real power lies in communities which are coming together to organize and fight back. #NoNazisinKnox #Knoxville pic.twitter.com/QQdLoGgtlz

— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) February 17, 2018

For us, protesting isn’t enough. And we want to be clear, we value each and every person who shows up every time and supports in every way that they can, and this doesn’t mean we won’t show the love back and support calls to action. But if we’re being honest here, we are here to put them down. That means leaving the city every once in a while. We would do a service to ourselves and our comrades by being active collaborators in bridging the gap between rural and urban organizing. At first glance it may seem trivial, but again if we are honest with ourselves we are perhaps missing broader issues with greater implications than appear on the surface.

Tennessee is becoming a breeding ground for fascist activity. We have the opportunities. Holler Network is dedicated. ARA is dedicated. The game is changing and it’s getting harder. But you know what they say. All you fascists bound to lose.

In solidarity.

Categories: News

"A Monstrous Campaign of Annihilation": Death Toll in Eastern Ghouta Tops 300 From Syrian Assault

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 05:00

The United Nations has condemned the Syrian government's recent deadly barrage of airstrikes and artillery fire against the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital of Damascus. Aid workers report at least 300 people have been killed over the past three days. Many of the victims are women and children. Targets have included hospitals and residential apartment buildings. We are joined now by three guests: Rawya Rageh of Amnesty International, Syrian-American journalist Alia Malek and Wendy Pearlman, author of We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Former Parkland Student: "I Interned for Senator Rubio and Now I'm Begging Him to Act on Guns"

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 05:00

As students protests grow in Florida, we speak to a former intern for Senator Rubio who is also a graduate from Stoneman Douglas High School. Shana Rosenthal just wrote a piece for The New York Times titled "I Interned for Senator Rubio. Now I'm Begging Him to Act on Guns." In the piece, the 21-year-old reveals she has already been near four mass shootings: at Florida State University, Fort Lauderdale airport and the massacres at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and at Stoneman Douglas High School last week. She attended the CNN town hall last night.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman, as we continue to cover the fallout from last week's Valentine's Day massacre in Florida. We turn now to a former intern for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. She is also a graduate from Stoneman Douglas High School. Shana Rosenthal just wrote a piece for The New York Times. It's headlined "I Interned for Senator Rubio. Now I'm Begging Him to Act on Guns." In the piece, the 21-year-old reveals she's already been near four mass shootings: at Florida State University, Fort Lauderdale airport, the massacres at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and Stoneman Douglas High School last week. She attended the CNN town hall meeting last night of 7,000 people.

Shana Rosenthal, welcome to Democracy Now! What was last night like?

SHANA ROSENTHAL: Good morning, Amy. Last night was incredibly empowering, to see my community come together and really speak directly to their elected officials.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Marco Rubio did show up. The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, did not come. President Trump was invited to be there in person or to attend by video from the White House. He did not respond. He did not come. But your senator, Marco Rubio, did come. And I wanted to play yet another clip from last night's town hall, where survivors of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School questioned Republican Senator Marco Rubio. This is Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in Parkland shooting last week.

FRED GUTTENBERG: Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak. So, you and I are now eye to eye, because I want to like you. Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in the school this week. And look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Now, I think what you're asking about is the assault weapons ban.

FRED GUTTENBERG: Yes, sir.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: So let me be honest with you about that one. If I believed that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it. But I want to explain to you why it would not.

FRED GUTTENBERG: Senator Rubio, my daughter, running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Yes, sir.

FRED GUTTENBERG:  -- was shot in the back --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Yes, sir.

FRED GUTTENBERG:  -- with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Yes, sir.

FRED GUTTENBERG: OK? It's too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can't stand with everybody in this building and say that, I'm sorry.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jamie, gunned down in her high school. Shana Rosenthal, what was your response to your senator, who you interned for? And when did you intern for him?

SHANA ROSENTHAL: First and foremost, Senator Marco Rubio did show up to that town hall meeting. But I do believe it's our elected officials' job. They work for us. And they need to take action, and they need to do it now. Now, I interned for him my sophomore year at Florida State University during the fall.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did you think of his responses? What's very interesting, and as you pointed out, he did attend this session, and he did answer questions. And it does look like he is changing his position on a number of issues around guns. Were you satisfied?

SHANA ROSENTHAL: It's a first step. But as you could tell by the voices you heard at the town hall meeting and the community as a whole, it's not enough. And I think we need to reinforce that by writing letters to our senators, as I did to Senator Marco Rubio. Everyone has an important point of view on this issue. Everyone has a story. And that's why my sister and I began our Letter to Your Senator campaign.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is that campaign?

SHANA ROSENTHAL: That campaign, you could find us at Letter to Your Senator, where people post letters to their senators on social media, and then they tag their elected officials, and they use a hashtag, #LetterToYourSenator, so, one, we could connect, virtually, while the students are marching out in the streets. If you think, "What can I do?" you could write a letter to your senator, and you can be empowered. And you could use the hashtag and read other people's stories, and maybe this will keep the conversation going and hold our elected officials accountable.

AMY GOODMAN: To be clear, Marco Rubio was not willing to say he supported an assault weapons ban, although I got the feeling if there were a number of these 7,000-person town halls, he might be on the way. He was not willing to renounce support from the National Rifle Association. You had your -- the students from your alma mater, from the Stoneman Douglas High School, going to Tallahassee. When they arrived, the Republican legislators voted -- I think, what, 71 people -- to not even begin a discussion about an automatic weapons ban. And as CNN pointed out, almost all of them have close to A ratings by the National Rifle Association. President Trump, at his listening session at the White House, where he had survivors from Columbine to the latest Valentine's Day massacre, he suggested arming teachers. At the opening of last night's town hall meeting, that you attended, Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie addressed the crowd.

ROBERT RUNCIE: Some of the dialogue that I've heard recently is about arming teachers. We don't need to put guns in the hands of teachers. … You know what we need? We need to arm our teachers with more money in their pocket. This country plays a lot of lip service to the importance of the teaching profession, but we never put our money behind it. Let teacher compensation, benefits and working conditions be part of this national debate, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: That's Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie, clearly responding to President Trump, just hours before at his listening session, where Trump was countered by people in the listening session when he called for arming teachers. Shana Rosenthal, what was your response to that proposal?

SHANA ROSENTHAL: To Trump's proposal?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, to arm your teachers.

SHANA ROSENTHAL: I don't believe we should be arming our teachers. I believe they are teachers, first and foremost. And to expect them to be armed and protect their students at these great lengths is -- it's sad that it would even have to come to that point. And we should really focus on the main issues. But if that is someone's point of view and they express that, if they write their letter to their senators expressing that, I think we could begin to understand other people's point of views. We're all after the same goal, which is to protect our students, the children of this country. And I believe we deserve more than a quick fix. That's my view on that.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn back to the White House listening session earlier in the day. This is Florida shooting survivor Alfonso Calderon.

ALFONSO CALDERON: We aren't being taken seriously enough. Now, I personally don't know the steps that we're going to have to take. But once we figure that out, we're going to take them. And you better believe we're going to take them as soon as possible, because, although we are just kids, we understand. We know.

We are old enough to understand financial responsibilities. We are old enough to understand why a senator cares about re-election or not. We are old enough to understand why someone might want to discredit us for their own political purposes. But we will not be silenced. It has gone on long enough that we, just because we are kids, we are not allowed to understand.

But, trust me, I understand. I was in a closet, locked for four hours with people who I would consider almost family crying and weeping on me, begging for their lives. I understand what it's like to text my parents, "Goodbye. I might never, ever get to see you again. I love you." I understand what it's like to fear for your life. And I don't think we should ever be discredited because of that. I don't think we should ever be silenced because we are just children.

AMY GOODMAN: That's Alfonso Calderon, actually a high school student from the Stoneman Douglas High School, but he was speaking in Tallahassee after the Republicans voted down opening the debate on an automatic weapons ban. The NRA's Dana Loesch took part in the CNN town hall last night. Here she is being questioned by Linda Biegel Schulman. Her son, Scott Biegel, was a teacher killed in the Parkland, Florida, shooting.

LINDA BIEGEL SCHULMAN: Why are my son's unalienable rights not protected as fiercely as the right to bear arms?

DANA LOESCH: I am sorry for what you experienced. And I'm not going to -- as I said, I'm a parent, but I've not been in this position. And as a parent, it terrifies me, to be honest with you.

LINDA BIEGEL SCHULMAN: It should.

DANA LOESCH: It's terrifying. Now, you asked whether it's a life-or-firearms or life-or-Second Amendment thing. I think that all lives should be protected. All lives should be protected. That's why next week there's going to be good guys with guns that are going to be in school protecting lives, just as there's armed security here. We are in the presence of firearms protecting lives. This isn't a you -- if you believe in your right to self-defense, you hate kids, or if you believe in your right to self-defense, you don't believe that people have the right to live. That's not what this issue is. This issue is about making sure that we're protecting innocent lives. No innocent lives should be lost. None of them should.

LINDA BIEGEL SCHULMAN: When the Second Amendment was ratified, they were talking about muskets. We're not talking about muskets. We're talking about assault weapons. We're talking about weapons that -- of mass destruction that kill people.

DANA LOESCH: On that issue, at the time, there were fully automatic firearms that were available: the Belton gun and the Puckle gun. And, in fact, the Continental Congress reviewed a purchase of one of those firearms for the --

LINDA BIEGEL SCHULMAN: Doesn't make it right.

DANA LOESCH: Well, what I'm saying is there was more than just muskets available. We don't say that no one has a right to free speech because of Twitter or social media. But the point that you raise -- and I think it's a good one, and I know what you're saying. And, believe me, I understand that. I think all innocent lives should be protected. I don't think that you should have ever had to gone through that. If I could change time and change circumstances, I would have done everything in my power to prevent that.

LINDA BIEGEL SCHULMAN: I think you have that power.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the NRA's Dana Loesch, who is a former right-wing radio host, taking part in the CNN town hall. She's a spokesperson for the NRA, being questioned by Linda Biegel Schulman. Her son, Scott Biegel, was a teacher who was saved many and was killed in the Valentine's Day massacre. I wanted to turn right now to the NRA's ad. In June, they produced a recruitment video, which came under fire from liberals and conservatives for stoking violence. The video was narrated by conservative television host, yes, the woman who was there last night, Dana Loesch.

DANA LOESCH: They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. And then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance -- all to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia, to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding, until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness. And when that happens, they'll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth. I'm the National Rifle Association of America, and I'm freedom's safest place.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, the NRA Television has announced they will be launching a new show in March hosted by Dana Loesch. And right before the town hall meeting, they released a statement saying that the NRA is rejecting proposals to raise the minimum age for purchasing rifles. So, Shana Rosenthal, you have a major force that has captured many politicians, Republican and Democrat, has them in their crosshairs if they ever dare step out of line. What about this new movement of young people, that you are a part of, student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killing and others? What is your response?

SHANA ROSENTHAL: The students are absolutely inspiring and incredible. And I think what's unique about this is that, one, the victims are within a succinct community, which it's -- I don't want to say easier, but the collective action is strong. And also, it's students who can speak up, who are tomorrow's voters, tomorrow's leaders. And that's why it's unique. And it has sparked something across the nation, and which parents are joining, which neighbors are joining. And they have inspired everyone. And they've inspired me.

AMY GOODMAN: Shana, it sounds like the namesake of the school -- the school was named for Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who was a true crusader, iconoclast. She was a suffragist, fighting for women's right to vote, a civil rights activist. And she was considered the "Grande Dame of the Everglades," a great environmentalist, saving the Everglades, which your community, Parkland, is right next to. Do you see yourself and other students following in her footsteps, as she took on the entrenched developer and business interests?

SHANA ROSENTHAL: Of course, I definitely see. You've heard it all before, our motto at our school: "Be passionate. Be proud to be an Eagle." And that's exactly what is embedded in the Parkland community. That's what's embedded in Marjory Stoneman Douglas. And I have to say, it's embedded in the surrounding area, the greater area of South Florida. Students -- I live right around the corner from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and every day I hear students marching from other schools all the way to Douglas. And I think it's beautiful and incredible, what they are doing on the ground. We need to compliment that. We need to write letters. We need to march alongside them. We need to do whatever we can to support these students.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Shana Rosenthal, for being with us, former intern for Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. By the way, did he respond to your letter to him in The New York Times? You were his intern.

SHANA ROSENTHAL: I have not gotten a response yet, but that is why I'm going to great lengths to get a response. And that's just mimicking what my community is doing. They've gone through great lengths to get a response, as well. And I think the town hall was a first step in that. And I hope we can continue this conversation.

AMY GOODMAN: Shana is a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And we'll link to your piece, "I Interned for Senator Rubio. Now I'm Begging Him to Act on Guns."

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the horror that is Syria, a roundtable discussion. Stay with us.

Categories: News

Trump's Jabs at North Korea Build on Long History of Treaty Violations

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 05:00

President Trump's policy toward North Korea is merely a continuation of US regional designs in the Asia Pacific. Having killed several million Koreans in the Korean war, the US proceeded to repeatedly violate treaties concerning North Korea under the leadership of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

 Jean Catuffe / Getty Images)President of North Korea Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jong, sister of President of North Korea Kim Jong-un (above), and Mike Pence, Vice-President of USA and wife Karen Pence (below) during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo: Jean Catuffe / Getty Images)

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In recent days the Trump administration has continued to scupper reconciliation efforts made by its ally South Korea and its enemy North Korea. On Feb. 9, Vice President Pence reportedly refused to applaud the two nations' carrying of a united Korea flag at the recent Olympic Games. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that any potential US-North Korea negotiations must be contingent on North Korea's willingness to give up its nuclear arsenal -- an arsenal which US intelligence reports cite as a "deterrence" against potential US aggression.

But Trump's stance is not unusual. Ever since the US split Korea between 1945 and 1948, and then killed several million Koreans in a war unofficially ending in 1953, the US has violated treaties, both bilateral and multilateral, concerning North Korea. Both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have violated these treaties, including the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Bush the Elder and Clinton

report by the right-wing Heritage Foundation notes that until the late 1980s and early '90s, the US "refused even casual contact with [North Korean] officials." In 1990, the US claimed that it had satellite proof that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons. Following presentation of the images to the UN, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sprang surprise visits on North Korea, which North Korean leaders rejected. This is because North Korea was not legally obliged to permit surprise inspections. The regime feared that UN inspectors could gain access to their non-nuclear related weapons and thus pose a security risk. Also in 1990, North Korea announced that it would accept IAEA inspections on the condition that the US withdraw its nuclear forces from the region. By the end of the year, Hans Blix, the head of the IAEA, confirmed that North Korea was seeking assurances that the US would not attack it. The US rejected the offers.

In 1992, North and South Korea signed the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This involved joint and mutually-agreed inspections of the other's nuclear systems. Initially, North Korea lived up to its promises in the agreement, halting plutonium reprocessing and eventually allowing IAEA inspectors into the country. North Korean leadership even invited US government officials and the IAEA to inspect its reactors. The offer was rejected by the hard-line George H.W. Bush administration, though former President Carter visited in 1994. Writing in the respected Arms Control Association journal in 1997, specialist Leon V. Sigal notes:

For a country supposedly intent on obtaining nuclear weapons, that self-restraint seems difficult to explain. One possible explanation is that, starting in 1990 or 1991, North Korea was trying to trade in its weapons program for what it thought it needed more -- security, political and economic ties with the United States ... Washington entered into talks only with extreme reluctance, and even then it was unwilling to specify what it would give North Korea in return for abandoning its nuclear arms program. When it did make promises, they were not always kept, often because Washington was dependent on others to fulfill them. As a consequence, the United States very nearly stumbled into war [in 1994].

Under the US-North Korea Agreed Framework of 1994, the US, now led by President Bill Clinton, was obliged to replace North Korea's graphite nuclear reactor with light-water plants. It never did.

After the start of the Agreed Framework, the US helped establish the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) in 1995. International funds were raised to transport oil to North Korea and 8,000 spent fuel rods from North Korea's Yongbyon reactor were removed and sealed. The US never lived up to its obligations under the Agreement and failed to dismantle the reactors and replace them with light water ones.

From Clinton to Bush the Younger

In 1998, North Korea fired a long-range missile over Japan. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this was designed in part to force the US back to the negotiating table; a move that worked. Between 1999 and 2000, the Clinton administration re-entered talks with North Korea.

In his state of the union address in January 2002, President George W. Bush called North Korea part of an "axis of evil," along with Iran and Iraq. Three scholars writing for the Woodrow Wilson Center said at the time: "Faced with such a clear and present danger," i.e., the United States, "Pyongyang did what most countries [sic] under similar circumstances would do," namely it turned to developing weapons of mass destruction. They go on to note that " 'evil' is something to be destroyed, not something to negotiate with. Indeed, the Bush administration ... boxed itself -- and North Korea -- into a corner."

In 2002, the US initiated the Proliferation Security Initiative with allies in the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea and Indian Ocean. In October 2002, US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly claimed that North Korea "confessed" to him an illicit uranium enrichment weapons program. North Korea denied this. As a result of the allegations, Bush suspended heavy oil supplies delivered under the Agreed Framework.

In January 2003, following Bush's axis of evil speech, North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows countries to develop nuclear technologies for civilian usage, but not nuclear weapons or technologies for use in nuclear weapons programs. The implication was that North Korea would begin work on developing a nuclear weapon to deter US aggression. Following the withdrawal, the US requested China take a role in mediating talks over North Korea's nuclear program.

The Bush administration entered into talks with China on the issue, and North Korea was persuaded by China to attend the talks and informed both parties that the matter is between North Korea and the US.

North Korea requested direct talks with the US, but the Bush administration refused. At one of the trilateral talks mediated by China, the Bush administration made a fateful decision in rejecting North Korea's proposal to freeze nuclear development in exchange for economic assistance and so-called security guarantees from the US, South Korea and Japan. The Bush administration said that the "military option" was "on the table" and also "not off the table." The language confused the Chinese- and Korean-speaking delegates, who asked, "Then where is it now?"

The result was the establishment of Three-Party Talks with the US, China and North Korea in 2003. The aim of the talks was to get North Korea to denuclearize on terms acceptable to the regime, i.e., with guarantees that the US won't attack. These became Six-Party talks when South Korea, Russia and Japan joined in. The talks failed for several reasons. First, at the first and second Joint Statement 2005, in which all parties voiced their concerns, Bush prohibited US delegates from negotiating bilaterally with North Korea. North Korea responded by withdrawing from the talks.

Second, the third Joint Statement was held in collaboration with the Six Parties (the US and North Korea, plus China, Russia, South Korea and Japan). South Korea agreed to not develop nuclear weapons, and North Korea agreed for the first time to abandon its nuclear weapons program. In September 2005, the US threatened sanctions on banks doing business with North Korea. North Korea responded by boycotting the Six-Party Talks. The US responded by not only slapping sanctions on North Korea for the first time, but also accusing the country of having accounts in Macao used for money laundering in support of terrorism. The US froze $25 million of North Korea's assets and blacklisted eight North Korean companies. North Korea responded by reverting to its nuclear and ballistic missile developments.

Finally, at the Six-Party talks in late 2006 and early 2007, North Korea agreed to the Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement. This plan outlined closing North Korea's nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and abandoning future nuclear programs. In exchange, the Bush administration would remove the country from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

From Bush to Obama

In February 2007, North Korea's vice foreign minister met with Bush administration officials in the US. This was the first time that diplomacy had been so warm. One of North Korea's prerequisites for denuclearization was ending the US embargo. The Bush administration refused. By July, the US was still freezing North Korea's foreign assets under spurious pretexts, but did deliver 6,200 tons of oil via South Korea, as agreed in the previous decade. North Korea permitted the arrival of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to verify the closing of the Yongbyon station.

By the start of 2008, US reciprocation had declined. The remaining oil promised to North Korea never arrived, new equipment for power plants never came and material assistance for denuclearization was not forthcoming. Despite this, North Korea achieved 75 percent denuclearization unilaterally. In June 2008, North Korea agreed to provide reports to the US concerning its production of plutonium. But the very moment that North Korea supplied the information, the Bush administration announced that it wanted an explanation of the report and failed to honor its commitment to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. North Korea reacted in kind, expelling the UN inspectors and announcing its intention to re-nuclearize.

Also, in June 2008, North Korea publicly demolished its Yongbyon cooling tower. The US briefly lifted sanctions, but Japan refused to oblige the Six-Party agreement and supply North Korea with 200,000 tons of heavy oil. When US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill visited North Korea and promised to remove it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, North Korea signalled willingness to reinstate the inspectors.

By then, Obama had come to office and was scoring points at home by portraying North Korea as the bogeyman of Asia. In March 2009, two US journalists were caught operating in North Korea without a permit near the Chinese border and were returned to the US. In April, North Korea announced its intention to launch a satellite (Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2) and then withdrew from the Six-Party Talks, following the election in South Korea of the hard-line President Lee Myung-bak. In May, North Korea launched its second nuclear test. Following UN Security Council Sanctions on North Korea (UNSCR 1874), China encouraged North Korea to rejoin the Six-Party talks.

By January 2010, North Korea had agreed to a peace treaty with the US, including denuclearization, on the condition that sanctions are removed. The US refused the offer and instead conditioned talks on the sanctions remaining in force until North Korea rejoined in the Six-Party negotiations. North Korea's second, this time bilateral offers with the US on January 11 were met with ridicule by Japanese media. Tensions mounted again in March 2010, when a South Korean warship (Cheonan) exploded and sank, killing 46 people. North Korea denied responsibility, but the US and South Korea immediately accused the country of torpedoing the vessel.

In April 2010, according to the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative nonprofit group, North Korea not only "renewed its calls for a peace treaty," but also "released a memorandum stating that it would limit the number of nuclear weapons it produced [and] rejoin denuclearization efforts in exchange for being recognized as a nuclear arms state." The US rejected the offer.

Trump's Policies Toward North Korea

North Korea does not have the ability to reach the continental US with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) carrying a nuclear warhead. Business Insider reported in November 2017 that the Hwasong-15 ICBM would be weighed down significantly if it carried a nuclear warhead. In December, CNN quoted unnamed US "officials" as saying that North Korea's longest-range ICBM likely broke up on re-entry into the atmosphere.

US citizens must recognize that President Trump's policy toward North Korea is merely a continuation of US regional designs in the Asia Pacific. All over the region, there are networks of dedicated peace activists, including Japanese citizens opposing the presence of US military bases on Okinawa, South Korean activists opposing US bases on Jeju Island, and many, many more, such as Women Cross the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) -- an organization of women from around the world who march in solidarity with both North Koreans and South Koreans. If these resistance networks do not come together in a globalized movement strong enough to force the US to pursue peace, North Korea might one day develop a weapon capable of hitting the US, and the US might start yet another war, this time perhaps a terminal nuclear one.

This article has been adapted from Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (Clairview Books).

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Particle Blaster Massacres

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 05:00
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The 9/11 Hijackers Were Iraqis, Right? Teaching in a Time of Wars

Truth Out - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 05:00

 Mario Tama / Getty Images)Smoke spews from a tower of the World Trade Center September 11, 2001, after two hijacked airplanes hit the twin towers in a terrorist attack on New York City. (Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

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I was teaching the day the airplanes hit the World Trade Center. It was the second meeting of "The Communist Manifesto for Seminarians," a course for my fellow graduate students. By the time I got to class, both towers had collapsed. A few hours later, Building 7 came down as well. We dispensed with a planned discussion about what Marxists mean by "idealism" and "materialism" and talked instead about the meaning of this particular example of the "propaganda of the deed."

We already sensed that, with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House, the attacks would mean war. But like the rest of the world, we didn't yet have the faintest idea how long that war would last. And 16 years on, we still don't know.

A few years later, I found myself in front of 40 undergraduates on the first day of the first ethics course I would ever teach. You know how sometimes you have no idea what you're going to say until the words are out of your mouth? That day, I opened my mouth and this came out: "I was so excited about this class that I couldn't sleep last night." Eighty horrified eyes stared back at me. "I guess it wasn't like that for you," I added, and felt the blush creep up my face. Most of them had the grace to laugh.

Thirteen years later, I still have trouble sleeping the night before a new semester begins. It's not exactly stage fright, but knowing that I'll only have a few chances to convince a new crop of students that they really do want to examine their deepest values -- the things they care most about -- and even talk about them in front of their peers.

In fact, most of them do care deeply and about important things, too, like how they should treat their friends, their parents, and their sexual and/or romantic partners. They care about their friends who drink and drug too much and appreciate the friends who get them home safe when they do the same. They care about economic inequality, especially when they're trying to find a place they can afford to rent in this city of soaring prices, San Francisco, or when contemplating the massive debt most of them will be carrying for years, if not a lifetime, after they graduate.

Some of them regularly turn out to be Milton Friedman-style economic libertarians. Almost invariably, more are reflexively anti-capitalist. More than half of them are young people of color. They and the majority of their white peers care deeply about racism. They don't think the police should shoot unarmed black men and they tend to believe that people of color face institutional barriers that white people never even see. Slavery, they know, was a terrible idea, but many of them are fuzzy about when it started in this country and how it ended.

Quite a few of them are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Some are undocumented or DACA recipients, so not surprisingly they care about immigration laws and policies. Their fellow students would never turn them in to the authorities. They may not know exactly why, but they have the feeling it would be unethical.

Some of them are in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC. Some are veterans. US military adventures affect them directly. While the rest of the students do care about war and peace, most of their lives are touched more lightly by America's wars than were those of their peers a decade ago.

Education is crucial to citizenship in a democracy and, for many years, those on the right in this country have done their best to defund and dismantle public education.

They care about so much, but there's a lot they just don't know.

Don't Know Much About History...

The first hint I got about the gaps in my students' background knowledge came early on in my teaching career. In a homework assignment a student wrote that Aristotle had quoted Shakespeare. Another thought that when that Greek philosopher mentioned a theater, he was talking about going to the movies.

I wasn't surprised that those students knew little about ancient Athens; there's no reason to expect them to arrive at college versed in Greek philosophy. But something far more basic was missing: a sense of the sweep of what Americans call "western" history -- a chronological grid on which to pin the key movements and events that shape today's world. I soon found myself putting a giant timeline on the blackboard on which the students would try to place the authors we were reading. Then we'd fill it in with other world events.

Even the relatively short history of the United States occupies a strangely flattened state in many of their imaginations. In their minds, for instance, all of the country's wars -- especially those of the twentieth century -- seem to run together, making it hard to understand how one war can lead to another.

My pre-collegiate history education was not really much better than theirs, but it was somewhat different. I grew up in Washington, D.C., in the days when Congress ran the city directly, including defining the curriculum for elementary and secondary school students. We were required to take three cracks at American history (in fifth, eighth, and twelfth grade). Repeatedly, we spent so much time on the 13 original colonies that, by the day school let out for the year, we had barely reached World War I. I never did find out what happened after that, not in school anyway. Nowadays, schools have speeded things up a bit and the war they never get to happened in Vietnam.

I'm certainly not the first person to discover that, for new generations, foundational events in her own life -- the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the women's liberation movement, even the first Gulf War -- are, to the young, history almost as ancient as the Civil War. Why should they know about such things? They weren't even born yet.

But here's a surprising development -- surprising because this last decade and a half seems to have flown past so quickly. I'm now encountering students who have no memory of an event that has shaped their lives, this country, and much of the world for the last 16 years: the 9/11 attacks.

The Early Years

The first undergraduates I taught were already in their teens on 9/11, which meant that those attacks formed a historic dividing point in their lives. For them, as for the coterie of men who would lead this country to the "dark side" (to use Vice President Dick Cheney's admonitory phrase), there was a "before 9/11 and an after 9/11."

After 9/11, they lived in a nation "at war." The United States was suddenly fighting an enemy that, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told "Meet the Press" less than a month after the attacks, "is not just in Afghanistan. It is in 50 or 60 countries and," he added, "it simply has to be liquidated." Little did they -- or the rest of us -- know that the liquid this protean enemy most resembled was a blob of mercury, which multiplies into hundreds of separate droplets when you hit it.

Recently, former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus admitted to Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour that the war on terror's first battlefield, Afghanistan, has become the locus of a "generational struggle," one that more than a decade and a half later is not "going to be won in a few years."

I've watched that generational struggle as it developed in the classroom. My first students had friends and relations fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. One young woman's uncle, a man in his late forties, was a surgeon who had been "reactivated" and sent to Iraq years after completing his active service. In fact, it turns out that everyone who joins the military signs on for eight years, whether they know it or not. Any of those years not spent on active duty or in the "drilling" Reserves still leaves you in the "Individual Ready Reserves," as many were surprised to discover when the US Army ran short of personnel to fight two simultaneous land wars.

A few students had partners fighting overseas and their worry was painful to observe. Soon enough, I had women students whose male partners were returning from those wars as changed -- and dangerous -- men. Several confided (either to me privately or to an entire class) that they'd had to move out because they feared for their safety.

And soon one of our school's graduates, Jennifer Moreno, died in combat.

Every September, the Army would appear on campus. Arriving in gleaming Hummers, they'd erect a portable climbing wall and pass out glossy recruitment literature, encouraging students to join ROTC. Once, I was stunned by the courage of four young women, who stood off to the side of the show holding up homemade antiwar signs. Then one fall, the recruiters didn't show up at all. I never knew whether it was because the wars had fallen out of favor with the board of my Jesuit university or because troop drawdowns had eased recruitment pressure. All I knew was that it probably wasn't thanks to those brave students with their hand-drawn signs.

In the early years, more than one ROTC member admitted to me (or our class) that he or she doubted the Bush administration's rationale for the war in Iraq. One young man from Guam explained that, having accepted a scholarship ("my ticket off the island"), he was duty-bound to fight in Iraq despite his doubts. "I know that in basic training, they try to take you apart as a person and then put you back together as a soldier," he told me. "I want you to know that I'm not going to let that happen to me." I've often wondered what did happen to him.

Here's another thing I remember from those early years. To my surprise, many of my students supported torture -- less as an interrogation method than as punishment for truly heinous crimes (torture, that is, as righteous vengeance). Terrorists should be tortured, some argued, as payback for 9/11, but perhaps because their own childhoods were still so near in time and memory, a number of them thought that those most deserving of torture were not political terrorists, but child abusers.

Just about all of them were certain of one thing: the men who flew the planes on 9/11 were Iraqis.

When Johnny (and Janie) Come Marching Home Again...

Eventually, of course, war veterans began to appear in my classes. They were older and in many cases more mature than the other students in ways that didn't just reflect their age. I often teach an ethics class in which students work with a community-based organization. One veteran chose to do this "service learning" with Swords to Plowshares, which provides services for vets. They'd helped him when he first got out, and he wanted to return the favor. "If anyone tells you they came back whole from Iraq or Afghanistan," he assured me, "they're either lying or they just don't know yet."

He was right, I think. One thing I've noticed over the years: like many survivors of war, those vets never volunteer to talk about what they've seen. Nor do their fellow students show much curiosity about it, and I don't ask directly. But some, like the young man who'd served five years as a sniper in Iraq and Afghanistan, are clearly in pain. He'd suffered a broken back and brain trauma when an improvised explosive device blew up his Humvee. He was bitter about the war and his own role in it, certain that he'd been lied to by his government. Since leaving the military he had learned a lot of history. Now, he sat in the last row of the classroom, back to the wall, one leg bouncing uncontrollably up and down. Usually he left early. The anxiety of being in a room with that many people, he explained to me, was more than he could endure.

Such veterans, however, are classroom oddities, rare exceptions to the general rule that the US can fight an endless war on terror without pain, sacrifice, or even, in recent years, much attention at all. These days, my students live in a country that has been at war almost since they were born, and yet, as is true with most of their fellow citizens, the fighting could be happening on Mars for all the impact it has on them. Most of them no longer know people directly affected. Their friends and family, of course, aren't among the tens of millions of Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, or Yemenis made refugees by those American wars and their consequences.

"Nowadays, schools have speeded things up a bit and the war they never get to happened in Vietnam."

Most of them haven't yet realized that, if their government hadn't spent $5.6 trillion and counting on those very wars, there might have been federal money available to relieve them of the school debt they will carry for decades.

Those Who Fail to Learn...

It's not an accident that my students arrive at college with little understanding of US history or, for that matter, knowledge of how their government works. Nor is it their fault. Education is crucial to citizenship in a democracy and, for many years, those on the right in this country have done their best to defund and dismantle public education. Under President Trump we have a secretary of education who makes no secret of her belief that, like other public goods, education is best left in the tender hands of the market.

The other day I asked my "Ethics: War, Torture, and Terrorism" class to name the countries where the United States is currently involved in some military action. They were able to come up with Iraq and Afghanistan. A veteran then added Djibouti, where US Africa Command has a key base. "Syria?" someone wondered. A ROTC member mentioned Yemen. No one even thought of Somalia or Libya. No one had heard of the West African country of Niger, where Sergeant LaDavid Johnson died in an ambush set by an ISIS affiliate. (If asked, some might have remembered that when Donald Trump called Johnson's widow, he made news by struggling to remember her husband's name and suggesting that Johnson had known "what he signed up for.")

Nor could they name any of the other countries, 76 in all, affected in some fashion by their country's undeclared, never-ending "generational" war on terror.

The good news is that they want to learn.

The bad news: nowadays, they tend to think that the men who flew those planes on 9/11 were from Iran.

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