News

California: Mattole Action Training Camp Updates

It's Goin Down - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 22:37

The post California: Mattole Action Training Camp Updates appeared first on It's Going Down.

Let the call echo through the mountains and forests of so-called Northern California: The Mattole Action Training Camp is on! Activists and forest lovers across the continent are invited to converge in the Mattole River Watershed in Humboldt County from January 12-15 to learn technical climbing skills, tactics for blocking roads, and constructing tree sits and pods. Join us for these skill shares and others, as well as a chance to build affinity and friendship, and learn more about the ongoing campaign to save the ancient Mattole forest!

#favorite #rainydayactivities include #mushroomhunting in #oldgrowthforest for #rarefungi called #agarikon, #knowledge to assist in the struggle against #humboldtredwoodcompany and #sierrapacificindustries for #nonewroads, #noherbicides and no cutting in unlogged areas. #savethemattoleancientforest !

A post shared by Blockade Babes (@blockade.babes) on Nov 30, 2017 at 6:51pm PST

Forest folk should bring warm and waterproof gear and be ready to camp outside, though we will be trying to secure some indoor space for sleeping. Food will be provided by local organizers. If you are interested in post-camp shenanigans, please come prepared with extra warm gear, backpack, tarps, a mask, etc…

You can connect with us through mattoleactioncamp@riseup.net and for more info check out Save the Mattole’s Ancient Forest on Facebook and blockade.babes on Instagram.

For the Wild!

Some blockaders

Categories: News

Call-In Campaign for Arizona Prisoner Adrien J Espinoza on Hunger Strike

It's Goin Down - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 22:18

The post Call-In Campaign for Arizona Prisoner Adrien J Espinoza on Hunger Strike appeared first on It's Going Down.

Friends and family of longtime Arizona prison rebel Adrien J Espinoza, are requesting your assistance in supporting Adrien on hunger strike in A.S.P.C. Florence – Kasson Unit (located in Florence, AZ) to win some basic demands from the prison. Adrien began his hunger strike on 12/8, and has requested that supporters call the prison and urge them to grant him some basic demands for his strike.

The number to ASPC Florence is (520) 868-4011. The Warden is Kevin Curran, and Deputy Warden is Ruben Montano. The Chief of Security is Rodrick Williams.

Please call and pass this information along any support networks.

The following is a correspondence from Adrien, which we have permission to share, of his demands when he initiated his hunger strike in September:

I urge you to call daily to push ADOC (Arizona Department of Corrections) to resolve my issues before my strike severely affects my health and safety. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

List of Hunger Strike Resolutions:

  1. Allow me to resume taking my paralegal correspondence course

  2. Rescind the ban on all my incoming magazines and books.

  3. Give me my TV from property office

  4. Give me my prescription eyeglasses from property (Resolved 10/4/17)

  5. Allow me to receive sunglasses in accordance with my special needs order

  6. Remove me from Protective Custody status

  7. Provide me unfettered access to grievance forms

  8. Provide me with regularly scheduled legal calls to my attorneys

  9. Conduct legal box exchanges in accordance with policy. (Resolved 10/1/17)

  10. Allow me to do book exchanges with my personal books in property

More Info:
  1. ADOC allowed me to begin the course, via Blackstone career institute. I aced the first exam. My tuition sponsor (my mom) and I entered into an $800 enrollment agreement, only to be told by ADC I could not continue the course because maximum custody prisoners cannot take correspondence courses. I am no longer a max custody inmate; I’ve lowered my score. I am now close custody, but ADC still wont allow me to resume the course. This course will help me. It will improve my life, my chances at staying out of prison upon release. I guess the prison doesn’t want that.
  2. In Jan 2017, the mail room began enforcing an illegal ban on all my incoming books and magazines because I would regularly appeal their censorship of publications. Presently, I subscribe to more than 20 magazines and newsletters. ADC returns all to sender without giving me a chance to appeal. The same is done with books.
  3. I am serving over 3 years of disciplinary loss of privilege sanctions, including loss of appliances. ADC is withholding my TV in property. But, I am the only on in Kasson Unit Wing One being subject to Loss of appliances. Everyone else on LOP is allowed to retain their TV and appliances. They single me out because I file so many grievances and some civil rights lawsuits, which other prisoners are scared to do.
  4.  AD said my mom could sending prescription eyeglasses the withheld them upon arrival. They’ve been held in property since May 2017 and are medically necessary. They comply with all ADC policies. (Resolved 10/4/2017)
  5. In retaliation for my grievances on mail room, mail room staff keep returning to sender my medical sunglasses under false pretexts. I have a medical Special Needs Order for them. And I’ve previously had sunglasses here and at browning unit, both max custody units.
  6. ADC placed me under protective custody without notifying me, violating due process. They put me in PC without cause, as an insult to my integrity and pride. There is no need or justification to put/keep me under PC Status.
  7. The prison staff refuse to provide me with the grievance forms I require to proceed in the grievance process in isolation of their own policy. (D.O. 802) and my first amendment right to redress of grievances. My CO III (counselor) Mr. A Oswald refuses to provide me with the forms, as do all staff, who tell me they’ve been ordered not to give them to me.
  8. My CO III who’s backed by ADC administration on this, refuses to provide me with any legal calls to my two criminal attorneys and my civil rights counsel, all of whom are attorneys of record. This violates my constitutional rights to speak with and consult with my lawyers, and is causing irreparable damage to my cases
  9. Kasson property officer Ms. T Williams repeatedly violates policy (DO 909) by not allowing me to do legal box exchanges. Property is to conduct exchanges within 3 days of the request. I submit weekly for the past 5 months. She has allowed only 1 exchange. Because I am only permitted to possess 4 of my 16 legal boxes in my cell, this violation prohibits me room accessing vital legal documents, and thus hinders my ability to adequately litigate my cases. I’ve filed many grievances on Williams, and this is her retaliation. (resolved 10/1/17)
  10. I have several personal books in property. Williams superiors at central office have ordered her to allow me to do book exchanges but she refuses t let me. This has been going on for one year, since my September 7 2016 arrival to Kasson. I simply wish to read my books.
Write to Adrien J Espinoza At:

Adrien J Espinoza #212698
ASPC-Florence/Kasson
PO Box 8200
Florence, AZ 85132

Categories: News

Hudson Valley Earth First! Maintain Tree Sits to Stop NY Pipeline

It's Goin Down - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 21:38

The post Hudson Valley Earth First! Maintain Tree Sits to Stop NY Pipeline appeared first on It's Going Down.

“Courts and government will never protect the land, but these brave beings have put their lives on the line to save endangered species and sacred wilderness.”

WAWAYANDA, New York, December 10th 2017 – Members of Hudson Valley Earth First! have established tree sit blockades in the path of the Valley Lateral Pipeline to stop its construction and to save the forest. On December 8th, 2017, Millennium Pipeline Company started clearing trees for the Valley Lateral Pipeline, which would connect fracked natural gas from the existing Millennium Pipeline to the scandal-ridden, toxic Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Power Plant. Courts and government will never protect the land, but these brave beings have put their lives on the line to save endangered species and sacred wilderness.

Day 2: We have a direct update from one of our treesitters:

“Cut trees leading toward wetlands and eagles nest and to wetlands and farm fields and forests where I hear cutting. Pretty quiet where I am. Swaying in the breeze a bit this morning. Trying to keep snow from getting in warm bags and that’s working well. This fight is only beginning and this is the first known actual treesit in the Hudson valley ever. We need more affinity groups willing to take action against these projects and their world. CPV. Millennium. Legoland and that which destroys this bioregion. Minisink Lenape indigenous land.”

A report from December 9th states:

Hudson Valley Earth First has established a one person tree sit blockade in the path of the Valley Lateral Pipeline to stop its construction and to save the forest. On December 8th, 2017, Millennium Pipeline Company started clearing trees for the Valley Lateral Pipeline, which would connect fracked natural gas from the existing Millennium Pipeline to the scandal-ridden, toxic Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Power Plant. Area activists have tried every other mechanism for stopping the construction of this pipeline, however the state of New York, the federal government, and the courts have failed to protect these woods and the species that live in and around them.

If this 7.8 mile pipeline is completed, it would run through ecosystems which contain, and have the potential to contain, endangered species such as the Bald Eagle(a mating pair is known to live 30 feet from the right-of-way), the Indiana Bat, and the Bog Turtle. Additionally, if the CPV plant is fueled, the pollution from the plant release tons of chemicals known to increase cancer and asthma rates in nearby areas.

This pipeline is the bottleneck to stopping this plant. Aides to Gov. Cuomo and CPV executives go to trial in January over a bribery scandal. Also, if the pipeline is stopped before August 2018, the CPV plant will likely go bankrupt and this beautiful bioregion will be spared from further ecological destruction. After nearly 10 years of calling our government officials and light disruptions, we are out of options.

For More Updates and Photos Hudson Valley Earth First! Facebook page:

If this 7.8 mile pipeline is completed, it would run through ecosystems which contain, and have the potential to contain, endangered species such as the Bald Eagle(a mating pair is known to live 30 feet from the right-of-way), the Indiana Bat, and the Bog Turtle. Additionally, if the CPV plant is fueled, the pollution from the plant release tons of chemicals known to increase cancer and asthma rates in nearby areas.

This pipeline is the bottleneck to stopping this plant. Aides to Gov. Cuomo and CPV executives go to trial in January over a bribery scandal. Also, if the pipeline is stopped before August 2018, the CPV plant will likely go bankrupt and this beautiful bioregion will be spared from further ecological destruction. After nearly 6 years of fighting this project, we are running out of options.

Tree sits are a form of aerial blockade where individuals rig themselves in trees or sit on a small platforms hoisted into trees to prevent the cutting of that tree. Additionally the rigging of the treesitter’s platform can be attached to other trees to protect an entire area of forrest. This tactic relies upon the unwillingness of a logger/company to take human life in the pursuit of economic enterprise, like the building of an unnecessary and polluting pipeline. Tree sits can be long term endeavors, and Hudson Valley Earth First! is prepared to stay in the trees as long as it takes to protect the wild!!

More Info:

hudsonvalleyearthfirst@riseup.net
https://www.facebook.com/HVEarthFirst/

Categories: News

Adventures in Paradise… A trip to Bermuda draws an odd call from the government

Global Muckracker - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 21:16

Having said cheerio a few days earlier to Bermuda and its sparkling pink beaches, immaculate streets, potent rum Swizzle cocktails, colorful shorts and dark kneesocks, I was back at my grey desk in Washington grinding through some incorporation records and bank statements when the phone rang.

Bermuda’s Department of Immigration calling.

“Someone” had handed over my business card, an agent said by way of explanation for the call.

What was the purpose of my recent trip to Bermuda? an agent asked, more or less out of nowhere. What had I done in there?

A bit of a swim, I replied. A little tourism. Some…research. In a flash, the call was over.

“Well, that felt like a warning,” I decided after hanging up.

The unexpected phone call was one of the odder moments in reporting on the Paradise Papers, an investigation into the offshore financial secrets of politicians, moguls, and some of the world’s most profitable companies.

Will found taxi drivers were proud promoters of Bermuda’s offshore industry. i Vice Will's taxi ride in Bermuda

A large chunk of the 13.4 million files that make up the Paradise Papers came from Appleby, a global offshore firm founded in Bermuda.

Understanding Appleby, one of the world’s most prestigious offshore legal advisors, would be key, I thought, to understanding the offshore sector, which has drawn increasing attention from governments, asset recovery lawyers, activists, and average Joes and Janes.

I had spent the previous 10 months at my desk in ICIJ’s Farragut Square offices reading spreadsheets, bank statements, emails and other documents.

In doing so, I had learned a lot about Appleby and where it fit into this global system of secrecy and tax avoidance: how much money it made (more than $100 million a year), how it fought off lawsuits (“hope that the plaintiffs could run out of gas,” lawyers discussed in one case), and how it interacted with government officials (a former BVI minister, while accusing the firm of hiring foreigners over BVI citizens, once told an Appleby lawyer to “Go home tonight and be a human!”).

But obviously there was a lot I didn’t know, and I thought a trip to Appleby’s office and one of the islands it calls home could help. Old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, we call it (or, in this case, perhaps “sandal-rubber reporting”). Anything could be valuable, from speaking to locals to seeing where the rich and the other half, including the (few) homeless, live.

Once on the ground in Bermuda, it didn’t take long to realize how small the island’s financial beating heart was. Will Fitzgibbon

Visiting a place can be a reminder for journalists that what we are writing about is real, that the people are just not names and addresses on an invoice. It puts abstract matters into sharper focus.

For months, for example, I had been reading up on the Bermuda office of Glencore Plc, the Anglo-Swiss commodities trading giant. A major Appleby client, Glencore for years had used a small office space within the law firm’s premises. The “Glencore Room,” Appleby employees called it.

I knew from the Paradise Papers that Glencore’s Bermuda companies were behind some mind-bogglingly large transactions. Multi-billion dollar loans passed through the Bermuda room — at least on paper.

The profile of Major Appleby found in the local library. Reginald Woodifield founded Appleby

In reality, I had learned from Appleby’s files that no full-time Glencore employee worked there and the room rarely housed more than a checkbook, a fax machine and a computer server that occasionally broke down. This was a purported nerve center one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies. I ached to see what the room actually looked like.

The trip was coordinated with reporting teams from Japan, Australia, Denmark and the U.S. and took weeks of planning over email, the secure messaging service Signal, and ICIJ’s collaboration space, known as Global I-Hub. All of us planned to converge on the island at the same time for extra digging and to meet Appleby if we could.

After a six-hour flight from Washington through New York, I arrived at the airport to meet the team from Vice News Tonight on HBO. Vice had been following ICIJ and the “making of” the Paradise Papers for months.

Once on the ground in Bermuda, it didn’t take long to realize how small the island’s financial beating heart was.

Appleby’s office, for example, is a few doors down from the Bermuda Monetary Authority, the regulator that had fined the firm’s subsidiary in a 2015 confidential settlement for failing compliance tests.

No organization thrills at the idea of an unplanned visit by 20 journalists. Especially not a law firm that sells discretion and confidentiality. Will Fitzgibbon

During the day, reporters scoured the island for interviews with locals, experts, politicians past and present in an effort to get a feel for the place. Australian reporters spoke with Jamaican restaurant cooks about Bermuda’s high cost of living. Japanese reporters zigzagged across main thoroughfares, stopping pedestrians to canvass Bermudians on their views, if any, on the offshore financial industry in their midst.

In search of more information on Major Reginald Appleby, the law firm’s founder, I made my way to Bermuda’s National Archives and dug through 60-year old newspaper clippings and parliamentary debates.

Eventually, a helpful librarian at Bermuda’s National Library tracked down a colorful profile and photo portrait of the major. Another reminder that in journalism, as in many things, librarians can be your best friend.

Locals were uniformly among some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. Taxi drivers were eloquent and proud promoters of the island’s offshore industry. That said, the fares cost a small fortune.

One evening, all the journalists who weren’t filming Bermudian sunsets for their Paradise Papers documentaries gathered in my hotel room to plan the next day.

The main topic: how to approach Appleby in the most professional manner possible and with the greatest chance of being granted an interview.

No organization thrills at the idea of an unplanned visit by 20 journalists. Especially not a law firm that sells discretion and confidentiality. But our job as journalists is to seek answers and to offer as many chances as possible for a response.

The Appleby receptionist, a true Bermudian, was polite and helpful. “Take a seat,” she said. I think the day we arrived was her birthday. Balloons bobbed by her desk.

Will (right) and ICIJ partners have an informal meeting in Bermuda. i Hidefumi Nogami/Asahi Shimbun

We saw the visit as an opportunity for Appleby and ICIJ to have a conversation. It had been nearly two weeks since ICIJ sent our first list of questions to the company. We knew that our questions had been received but had received no word on whether the company would grant an on-camera interview. As we waited, we wondered what was happening in the offices above our heads.

After 30 minutes or so on the couch, Appleby dispatched an employee from the facilities department. Blood-orange red Bermuda shorts and all.

He wouldn’t give his name, answer questions or accept a letter with some questions for Appleby’s attention.

He did, however, thank me for my business card.

The post Adventures in Paradise… A trip to Bermuda draws an odd call from the government appeared first on ICIJ.

Categories: News

Daniel Shaver was Killed by the State & Murdered by the Police

It's Goin Down - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 21:03

The post Daniel Shaver was Killed by the State & Murdered by the Police appeared first on It's Going Down.

You need to watch the body cam video of the police murder of Daniel Shaver. You don’t want to, and I don’t blame you, because I didn’t want to either.

The footage is the most painful thing I have ever watched. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I was in tears after watching it. Once I had collected myself, I hugged my children and told them how much I loved them.

#DanielShaver was murdered on January 18, 2016. We're just hearing about him.

Think about that.#ThisAintNew pic.twitter.com/KBf6krMcVk

— Nolan the Angry Negro (@NolanHack) December 8, 2017

Daniel Shaver was a husband and father of two children. He was 26 years old, basically the same age as me. His daughters are about the same age as mine. They will grow up without a father because of the police officer who murdered him. He was also innocent of any crime. He had a job in pest control, and another guest at the hotel mistook his equipment for a firearm. The State murdered him with only the information they got in a phone call.

As I said, I didn’t want to watch the video. Nobody wants to watch a man die, weeping and begging for his life. However, I argue that every single person in this country should watch the video. I argue that it should be played on every news channel, in its entirety, over and over until every person in our country has seen it.

You need to watch this video because you, as a part of this society, are complicit in Daniel’s murder. You need to watch because your apathy is why the man whose finger pulled the trigger was acquitted of all charges and walks a free man. Your choice to look away killed Daniel Shaver, left his wife without her husband and left their children without a father. You murdered Daniel Shaver.

You may believe you are innocent. “How could I have killed him? I wasn’t there, I didn’t pull the trigger! This has nothing to do with me.” I understand your confusion. It isn’t easy to admit you’ve killed a person.

Daniel Shaver was killed by the State. He was murdered by the police who work for you. You, as a part of this society, employ the police who are supposed to protect and serve. You gave the police their mandate, you purchased the military style weapons they used to commit this murder, and you engraved “You’re Fucked” on the gun that killed Daniel.

Horrific video footage of unarmed #DanielShaver shot in #Mesa #Arizona by group of police officers with AR-15s while in hallway of hotel. Shaver was made to crawl across the floor. Officer who shot him just found not guilty of even manslaughter. #FTP #ACAB https://t.co/O276imewTe pic.twitter.com/vABZW3JL3u

— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 8, 2017

As a part of this society, you and I are the source of the State’s power. You and I are the ones who give the State the authority to murder men and women in cold blood while they beg for their lives.

You and I are the source of this violence, whether you believe it or not. This is why you should watch the video of Daniel’s death, because you killed him. If you have any humanity left, the video will cause you a great deal of pain. You will see him die from the point of view of the man behind the gun, and you will know what it was to kill him. You will wish you had never watched it and hope you never see anything like it again. You will hope you never again know what it was to kill a person.

After time, the feeling may fade. You will return to your life, and may never again consider the feeling you had when you took the life of another human being. But this will continue to happen, every single day, just as it has for years. You won’t hear about most of them, but your continued compliance will continue to kill people every day. You now have a choice. Few choices in life are truly black and white, but this one is:

Will you take back the power we have given to the State, or will you kill again?

Categories: News

Richmond, VA: Against the Leviathan and the ACP

It's Goin Down - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 20:48

The post Richmond, VA: Against the Leviathan and the ACP appeared first on It's Going Down.

The Final hearings for the ACP will be held by the State Water Control Board at the Trinity Family Live Center at 3601 Dill Rd, Richmond VA 23222. Monday, December 11th will predominantly be a period of public comment. On Tuesday, December 12th, we expect the SWCB to vote on the ACP. We appreciate any and all who wish to attend these meetings and will welcome you with love and solidarity.

In the morning a banner was dropped from the rail road trestles by some quiet and anonymous neighbors. It is a simple banner, five massive block letters, NOACP, in defiance of the vicious project known among more polite circles as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

These five letters are hanging in clear view of the bridge that provides the descendants of the Great White Flight a pleasant route through the affluent plantation ghosts of the West End and into our city. As they idle their engines on that bridge, we hope that their eye is caught again and again by those block letters. For those who work for Dominion, for those whose opaque suit and tie jobs have their fingers woven into the corporate leviathan that dominates our so called state, we hope that these five letters are burned into the backs of their eyes. It is a simple message to remember, a simple enough demand, yet contained in that demand is everything.

We know what is coming, yet we fight it. We know where this road leads and we walk it. When we say NOACP we say no extraction. We say no to the cowards in the Department of Environmental Quality, who so truly embody the hypocrisy of environmental capitalists. Old, weak profiteers that they are, who cower behind state troopers as they sign away the lives of thousands, knowing perhaps even more than the rest of us, just how minutely destructive their decision is. Fuck the DEQ, and the State Water Control Board, may your children choke on what you have brought about.

We say no to the desecration of stolen indigenous lands, to the biting machinery, to the piss bottles thrown on the sides of our roads, to the transient cities of work men from far away, quietly stalking us in our communities, permanently glaring from behind wrap around sunglasses. We say no to the violence, murders and rapes that follow these Ford Cities from place to place, we say no to their obscene disinterest in what they destroy.

When we say NOACP we say no to the physical eviction of rural farmers in Appalachia, to people who have nothing but their small plots of land now forced to sell or surrender. We say no to the erasure and eviction of Union Hill, a community, predominantly black, that has endured and grown in their own love and autonomy since their forebearers were unceremoniously “freed” from the plantation on which they had been bound in chattel slavery. We say no to that same land, being sold willingly back to that now more nebulous but no less violent structure that is the modern plantation.

When we say NOACP we say no to the democrats who built this while cynically playing the card of the oppressed, we say no to the slave hives that are called prison, to AR-15s pointed at old women, to the raids on the homes of the most vulnerable who oppose this, to the tanks we have already seen, to the quiet ears and electric eyes of the circling planes who stalk our poorest neighborhoods. We say no to money, we say no to our slow emaciation, we say death to the sick and pathetic gluttony of the dying global empire that is capitalism.

We say NOACP and we know what it means. We know because we have lived in defiance of this for our entire lives. We know because we broke our bodies driving back an army of sick men who came to Charlottesville to spew filth and kill our loved ones. We know because the same men who let them beat our friends nearly to death will come in school bus convoys. We know that just as they stood idly and stared at us, their boots caked in our blood, they will stand idly by again, with whoevers blood is most available. We know because we have seen the ICE raids and hidden our friends from this new Gestapo, we know because we have seen the concentration camp in Farmville.

We know because we have lived and loved and broken bread with each other, because we come from this land, because we come from Standing Rock, from those who fought in DC, in Hamburg, in Rojava, in Palestine, in Nigeria, in Charlottesville, from a thousand thousand thousand other places. We are defined by this, even to our deaths, we stand against the Black Snake.

Categories: News

Waging the War on Christmas: King Mob and the Battle of Selfridges

Anarchist News - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 20:35

By late 1966 Situationist-inspired theory and praxis began to manifest across Western Europe and North America. In the USA the cultural interventions and publishing done by the Up Against the Wall Motherfucker (UAW/MF) affinity group echoed many themes considered Situationist. The artist, minor Bakunin scholar, and major league trouble maker Ben Morea is just one notable example of the type that was attracted to the Motherfuckers. It should be noted the Morea’s journal (presciently titled Black Mask) contains some of the better North American anarchist critical material from the 60s—a living theory instead of the reliving of history. The Detroit-based White Panthers also stand out; though most contemporary younger theorists haven’t had the chance to interact with their ideas or actions. John Sinclair, one of the founding members of the White Panthers was also involved with the Fifth Estate in the late sixties, which traces a direct line from Situationist inspired ideas to the US post-left, and internationally to Black Anarchy. Which leads us to the UK and two brothers trying their best to drink their way through art school in Newcastle-on-Tyne, David and Stuart Wise. Much as the surrealists were drawn into Marxist and Trotskyite circles, the Wise brothers soon they found their cultural interventions leading them inexorably to ultra-left communist/anarchist ideas and Situationist theory. Their investigation was bolstered by a series of meeting with Morea and Vaneigem on the Lower East Side of NYC. By late 1967 the Wise’s had dropped out of art school, moved to London, found a few like-minded maniacs and founded King Mob. An affinity group dedicated to the project of cultural subversion.

King Mob from the very beginning was a project predicated to action, to the manufacture of situations that illuminated in the harshest light the various predations and weaknesses of nation-state and Capital. Here again, the conundrum of organization resolved, where the coordination of activity defined and circumscribed King Mobs existence; not an ideology and certainly not the wholly reactionary “desire to belong to something greater then one’s self.” In terms of the types of actions King Mob perpetrated, an example from April of 1968. By Winter of 67-68 most of the group had moved to West London and immediately began to interact and work with some local groups. One of the biggest grievances then was the lack of playgrounds and green space for the local children. It had become so bad that several kids had been hit by cars while playing, and in one instance a child had been killed. It wasn’t that there was a dearth of space for the kids to gambol; rather the on-going process of gentrification had enclosed large swaths of open grass with seven-foot tall fences. The local Communist/community activist types held a lame demonstration in an attempt to open up the play areas, to no avail. The bourgeoisie were simply not giving up the means of recreation to the marxist rabble.

Enter King Mob, who after a little planning hired a gorilla suit and a circus horse costume (the kind with a front and back piece—so two bipeds can impersonate a quadruped) and settled into a local pub for a few drinks. After achieving an appropriate level of chemical conviviality one member went into the bathroom, downed some speed, put on the gorilla costume and burst back into the pub, roaring and howling. The signal given the remaining conspirators poured into the street, the circus horse costume was donned and adjusted, and they moved as a group towards a fenced off park, Powis Square, announcing loudly to the neighborhood their intention to tear the fences down and then to play. The growing crowd finally arrived at the objective of the action and set about tearing down the fences, followed almost immediately by the arrival of the police. Violent scuffles ensued and the police arrested the circus horse, the raging amphetamine-addled gorilla and four humans. The circus then moved on to the courtroom where the King Mob agitators showed little desire to back down in the face of the law. As an example, the front end of the horse pleaded guilty while the rear end pleaded not guilty, using the completely reasonable argument that he had no idea that the head of the horse was breaking the law. The courtroom confrontation was written up by a columnist in The New Statesmen and King Mob, much to their amusement, found themselves with a smattering of (almost) positive publicity. Finally, as a result of further community intervention, including the successful tearing down of the fence surrounding the park, Powis Square was officially redesignated a children’s playground, which it remains to this day. But this was all prelude to the Selfridges outrage and the temporary breakdown of law, order, private property and the Christmas Spirit that it occasioned.

King Mob actions continued apace and began to settle more and more into attacks on spectacular consumption and the contradictions of Capital. So when Ian Clegg, one of the fringe members of KM proposed a Christmas invasion of Selfridges, it was taken for what it was, an intervention of pure genius. As an aside, Selfridges & Co. is a chain of high-end department stores located primarily in the United Kingdom. Originally founded in 1908 and with a flagship store located in Oxford Street the chain is roughly analogous to Marshall Fields or Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States in terms of merchandise, clientele, and marketing. In other words, King Mob and Selfridges were made for each other. In preparation for the action a leaflet was produced, outlining a general hatred for Christmas, deriding the hypocrisy of the holiday and encouraging the reader to turn the holiday into a true event of giving. The flyer failed to mention when and where the action was to take place but word of mouth carried the message to the ultra-left radical community of London. So sometime during the month of December 1968, no one is quite sure of the date and the action was completely ignored by the main stream media, members of King Mob, including Ben Trueman dressed as St. Nick and a young Malcolm McLaren, came barging into Selfridge’s. On the way to the toy department, Trueman—already in character-- took a detour to the candy section and started handing out Christmas goodies to any one brave enough to approach him and his entourage. No doubt the store security at this time registered a faint blip on the radar screen that something very wrong was happening near the confectionery aisle. From there, King Mob moved like a wave towards the toy section, and as they arrived Santa and his elves began to strip the shelves of their very expensive toys and hand them out to the wide-eyed and no doubt delighted children. This new take on potlatch lasted some minutes before the inevitable arrival of both store security apparatchiks and the Metropolitan Police. Kris Kringle and a few of his more impassioned elves tangled with the forces of authority and were finally placed under arrest. When the dust cleared the real dilemma was brought into view…what to do about all those unpaid for toys? The management of Selfridges had only two options, to let the children keep the toys and hope for some good publicity, a la Miracle on 34th Street, or to demand that store security and the police take the toys from the children and place them back on the shelves. Ultimately, the final decision was a foregone conclusion, and in an extreme turn of good luck there were no press photographers present as Selfridges security staff and the London Police relieved the kids of their Christmas presents from Santa and returned them to their displays.

There are usually two reactions to this intervention; a) Wow, that was mean, or; b) Wow, that was brilliant. Both are true. Misanthropy and scathing critical theory often co-exist as a result of necessity or resonance (witness Oscar Wilde). The action also reminds us that interventions need not always be political, and in fact historically the terrain of culture has proven to be equally important for the anarchist project.
Finally I offer this as a Christmas gift to my Comrades, in recognition of the fact that the best presents are usually stolen, as I have reappropriated this history and now give it to you.

Merry Christmas Conrads!!

Paul Z. Simons

Tags: king mobchristmaswar on christmasPaul Z. SimonsEnglandcategory: Essays
Categories: News

ALEC, Corporate-Funded Bill Mill, Considers Model State Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protesters

deSmog - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 20:19
Protesters march with a banner against the Dakota Access pipeline

At its recent States & Nation Policy Summit, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects state legislators with corporations and creates templates for state legislation, voted on a model bill calling for the crack down and potential criminalization of those protesting U.S. oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.

Dubbed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, the model legislation states in its preamble that it draws inspiration from two bills passed in the Oklahoma Legislature in 2017. Those bills, House Bill 1123 and House Bill 2128, offered both criminal and civil penalties which would apply to protests happening at pipeline sites. Critics viewed these bills as an outgrowth of the heavy-handed law enforcement reaction to protests of the Dakota Access pipeline.

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Categories: News

Operation Wild Mayhem – Games To Collapse Empire

Anarchist News - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:57

From Barbarically
A piece by Julian Langer, whose blog can be found at https://ecorevoltblog.wordpress.com
————–
“Three minutes. This is it – ground zero. Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion?” Tyler Durden

As Tyler stood overlooking the heart of civilization he knew he saw a failing empire on the brink of destruction. So Tyler abandons the consumer nesting instinct, in favour of neo-luddite primal anarchy.
 
Whether or not time and this magical land called the future exists is something for another discussion – I’ll just say that I’m not convinced. But for the purposes of this discussion it seems fair to say that we are three minutes from ground zero. The important thing to remember though is that we are not awaiting the arrival of a nuclear bomb, though Trump, Putin and North Korea appear to be directing us towards that situation. No, we are the embodiment of a thermonuclear cataclysm, a world-ruining piece of machinery, three minutes away from ground zero. So I’ll say a few words to mark the occasion.
 
Tyler was wrong when he said that our fathers were our models for God; our fathers were merely meant to teach us how to navigate the body of God – the body of the metropolis, the state, the market, civilisation, the Leviathan. But Tyler was correct when he said that God hates us.
 
After all, what has God, civilisation, the state, the Leviathan, the stranglehold of capitalism brought us? The planet is in ecological ruins. We are plagued by droughts, hurricanes, wildfires intensified by arid conditions and desertification, brought on by agriculture and the deforestation it requires, oil spills, dehabitation, specicde, air unfit to breath and mass extinction. Television feeds us the daily horror of militarism, bombs and politics, along side (m)advertising, supposed reality shows and force-fed comedy spooned down our throats, as we sink deeper into the psychosis of this hyper-real Spectacle – the word of God, the great domesticator.
 
But in the words of Tyler Durden, “fuck damnation, man, fuck redemption! If we are God’s unwanted children, then so be it!”
 
If this culture wants us to live lives of death, I propose we rebel, by seeking (near-)Life experiences; that we lose every-Thing to be free to do anything.
 
How do we do this?
 
Well if this culture is hell bent on trying to domesticate us all, bringing some wildness to this culture seems the best routeless direction to go down.
 
With all their attempts to make living in this culture better, most activist projects have served only to make the planetary work machine more bearable for those closest to “radicals”. The revolutionary project is now largely a t-shirt or film. Social anarchists fill potholes and keep this culture going – acts of service to God.
 
On the other hand, subversive art-focused and psychology-focused milieus, such as Situationists, Discordians, guerrilla ontologists and others which can generally be considered applicable to a post-anarchist practice, have succeeded in creating spaces to release the repressed flow of the wild, within the body of civilisation. This type of practice is that which Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson) calls poetic terrorism, and appears to be a means of eco-radicals waging primal war against this world-ruining culture.
 
Situationists are focused on challenging the psycho-geography of this culture’s everyday normal life, through mediums such as the situationist-prank, which involved turning aspects of capitalism’s everyday-narratives against itself. Discordians and guerrilla ontologists, inspired by the philosophy of Robert Anton Wilson, have often embraced the campaign of Operation Mindfuck, which has focused on art based approaches like performance and guerrilla art, as well as vandalism, practical jokes, reality hacking and hoaxes.
 
Drawing from these both, in mapping out a loose route for our poetic terrorism, a campaign seems available to us, as agents against this culture, as a means of wild-attack.
 
What does this look like?
 
Here are some games –
Modelling glue in the locks of shops, banks and vehicles of world-ruiners. Going into computer shops with fishtank cleaner magnets and destroying the hard drives. Standing on streets with a free hugs sign and giving each person who hugs you a home-made pamphlet on the ecological crisis. Gluing folded up pieces of paper into the coin slots of parking machines and into the card slots of ATMs. Searching for unlocked cars and turning on their lights to drain the battery. Mixing whipped cream, corn flakes, grapes, maple syrup, dish washer fluid and warm water in large quantities in black bags and pouring home-made vomit along streets, in high-traffic pedestrian areas. Standing on the edge and peeing into swimming pools. Leaving kitchen knives in public places covered in fake blood. Graffiti apocalypse poems or surrealist slogans, like “I don’t want to be a wall anymore” on walls, in chalk in public spaces, in sight of on-lookers. Putting itching powder on the toilet paper in public toilets and rolling it back up. Gluing public toilet seats down and putting glue on them. Wearing sandwich boards emblazoned with “the end was yesterday”. Filling wet paper towels with flour, wrapping it up, tying up with a rubber band and throwing flour bombs. Reviving the Existential Negation Campaign. Destroying badger traps or committing other acts of ecotage/monkey-wrenching and turning them into works of art.
 
These are some of the directions for this project of wild mayhem. With every work of creative-destruction performed a communiqué should be left, as words to mark the occasion.
 
With this, eco-radical practice escapes the revolutionary model, which is tied to History (the narrative of this culture and its “progress”), without falling into renunciation and becomes an iconoclastic endeavour, full of wild potential. Eco-radicals can challenge believers in this culture’s faith in its ability to maintain everyday normality in ways that are direct and signify a defiant rebellion, without appealing to ideologies and systems, which end up being incorporated and part of that which we hate.
 
As this operation is intentionally outside of History, there is no start or end date to it. This can be picked up by anyone and dropped as soon as they decide to stop. It has no governing body or even decentralised organisation behind it. It is a wild endeavour, anarchic, free.
 
So this is it – ground zero. Our operation will be one of wild mayhem. What is to come we cannot know for sure, but the present course only leads to ruin. Disrupting that course, disrupting its ruin of the world and encouraging God’s ruin, through wild poetic terrorism as primal war, seems like a pathway to go down with potential. If you want a future, I will turn again to Mr Durden – In the world I see – you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.”

category: Essays
Categories: News

FBI, NYPD raid Port Authority bomb suspect's apartment

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:57

FBI, NYPD raid Port Authority bomb suspect's apartment | 11 Dec 2017 | FBI agents and NYPD cops swooped down on three Brooklyn apartments tied to Monday's alleged would-be terror bomber -- including the pad where he is believed to have assembled his crude explosive device, law enforcement sources said. The members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force are hunting for evidence including computers, phones and other paraphernalia that could be tied to the botched bombing, sources said. Ullah came to the US from his native Bangladesh on an F4 visa -- which is reserved for brothers and sisters of American citizens -- seven years ago, sources said.

Categories: News

Police: Suspect in NYC subway passage attack 'ISIS-inspired'

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:48

Police: Suspect in NYC subway passage attack 'ISIS-inspired' --Ullah made the bomb in his apartment - person briefed on the probe | 11 Dec 2017 | An attempted suicide bomber who set off a rush-hour explosion at the nation's busiest bus terminal is a Bangladeshi national living in Brooklyn who was inspired by ISIS, law enforcement officials said. The suspect in Monday morning's blast at Port Authority in midtown Manhattan was identified as Akayed Ullah, 27, according to New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill. Ullah strapped a pipe bomb to his body with Velcro and zip ties, police said. It detonated earlier than intended, sources told the New York Post. Ullah lived in Brooklyn, but he immigrated from Bangladesh nearly seven years ago, federal law enforcement sources confirmed to Fox News.

Categories: News

Brooklyn-based Bangladeshi national in a suicide vest caused rush-hour panic in Manhattan when his 'revenge' pipe bomb exploded too early

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:23

Brooklyn-based Bangladeshi national in a suicide vest caused rush-hour panic in Manhattan when his 'revenge' pipe bomb exploded too early --A pipe bomb prematurely went off in an underground tunnel linking the Times Square subway station and the Port Authority bus terminal Monday morning around 7:20am --Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the suspect 'supposedly was setting the device off in the name of ISIS' and that it was 'definitely a terrorist attack, definitely intended' --The FDNY says three other people reported to local hospitals for minor injuries | 11 Dec 2017 | A Bangladeshi national in his 20s has been taken into custody with serious injuries after a pipe bomb he was carrying malfunctioned and exploded prematurely inside a Midtown Manhattan subway station Monday morning. It was the second time in two months that New York City was the target of a terrorist attack, and the first since President Trump sparked Muslim outrage around the world last week by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The explosion happened around 7:20am, in an underground tunnel linking the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Times Square. The underground tunnel is a major thoroughfare for workers during the morning rush hour. The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was walking east towards Times Square when a 'low-tech' explosive attached to his body with Velcro and zip ties partially exploded. Another five-inch metal pipe bomb was found on his person.

Categories: News

Explosive detonates near New York City's Times Square in 'attempted terrorist attack,' suspect in custody

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:05

Explosive detonates near New York City's Times Square in 'attempted terrorist attack,' suspect in custody | 11 Dec 2017 | A suspect is in custody today after allegedly detonating a small explosive device in an "attempted terrorist attack" in the New York City subway system, sending commuters scrambling to evacuate a major transit hub just blocks from Times Square, city officials said. The explosion occurred in an underground passageway near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and, despite the rush-hour crowds, only three people suffered minor injuries, officials said. The 27-year-old suspect, Akayed Ullah, is in the hospital, badly injured in the arm and torso from the device that went off in his arms, sources said. Ullah, originally from Bangladesh, told authorities he is self-inspired from ISIS online propaganda, sources said.

Categories: News

Why Al Gore Fears Donald Trump – But Remains Optimistic

deSmog - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:23
Al Gore

Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement – making America the only country on earth to opt out of the climate accord. Al Gore is captured in the new film An Inconvenient Sequel looking distressed at the election of Trump in 2016. Here, one of the film's directors tells The Ecologist’s Brendan Montague how Gore made it clear that he fears Trump is a danger to our planet.

Gore features in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – which is released on DVD on 11 December – and follows a decade after his Oscar winning blockbuster An Inconvenient Truth. The film shows Gore’s increasing despondency during 2016 as Trump successfully campaigns for the presidency.

The latest documentary is directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, who spent almost two years filming and speaking with Gore – including behind the scenes during the Conference of the Parties negotiations held in Paris at the end of 2015. 

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Categories: News

Amid Worst Winter Wildfires in California History, Concern Farmworkers Are Laboring in Hazardous Air

Truth Out - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 16:10

In California, drought-fueled wildfires raged toward Southern California's coastal cities over the weekend. The fires have scorched some 230,000 acres of land and forced nearly 200,000 people to evacuate. At least one woman has died so far. The wildfires are already the fifth largest on record in California history. Climate experts say the intensity of the winter blazes is linked to climate change. Authorities have warned residents to stay inside because of the dangerous air quality caused by smoke and carcinogenic ash from the fires. But a number of farms have stayed open, sparking concerns that farmworkers are laboring in hazardous conditions without proper equipment. Last week, volunteers handing out free protective masks to farmworkers say they were kicked off some farms, despite the fact that the pickers were asking for the safety equipment. For more, we speak with Lucas Zucker, who was evacuated last week due to the wildfires. Zucker is the policy and communications director for CAUSE -- Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy -- and he helped distribute respirator masks to farmworkers who had to continue working despite the hazardous air quality conditions. We also speak with Democratic California State Assemblymember Monique Limón, who represents Santa Barbara and Ventura County.

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

On Eve of Alabama Senate Election, a Look at Roy Moore's Racism, Homophobia and Religious Fanaticism

Truth Out - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 16:07

Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore are locked in a tight and increasingly controversial race to fill the Alabama Senate seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The election is on Tuesday. A Democrat hasn't won a US Senate race in Alabama for 20 years. Polling shows the two candidates are neck and neck, despite Moore being accused by at least nine women of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers. President Donald Trump has repeatedly endorsed Roy Moore, including on Friday, when he held a rally in Pensacola, Florida, which is 20 miles from the Alabama border and in the same media market as Mobile, Alabama. Roy Moore has had a long and highly controversial political career in Alabama that's been marked by racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and religious fanaticism. Over the weekend, the Doug Jones campaign orchestrated a massive get-out-the-vote effort, particularly targeting African-American voters. A number of prominent African-American politicians, including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Alabama Congressmember Terri Sewell and former Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick, all campaigned for Jones over the weekend. For more, we speak with Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at People for the American Way. His most recent piece is headlined "There's More Than One Roy Moore Scandal."

Please check back later for full transcript.

Categories: News

Anarkismo Network: Statement of the general meeting

Anarchist News - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:56

via Freedom News

European sections of the platformist international have issued a joint declaration on the state of the movement following last month’s gathering in Genoa. Launched in 2005, Anarkismo consists of groups which agree with an editorial statement and tends to promote organised engagement with existing mass movements such as large trade unions, in an attempt to push them towards more syndicalist and anarchist methodologies. The 2017 statement is as follows:

Delegations from Wales, France, Italy, Switzerland and Ireland — with a warm solidarity statement from our Catalan comrades of Embat — expressed the need to clarify and deepen our common work.

Where are we?

The phase that we are currently living in is without doubt one of systemic crisis and strategical transformation. Capitalism in crisis is looking for a new model of regulation while the political left is stuck in its own heavy crisis — a lack of any clear perspective or will.

Social-liberalism is an active part of the State and of the European management of capital. It has evolved as an instrument of domination and exploitation. Another section of the political left claims a reformist ambition which is based on a pro-State strategy but to date hasn’t managed to formulate an alternative along the lines of genuine social emancipation. There is also a relatively large milieu which struggles to bring to life meaningful resistance at grassroots level, but nonetheless refuses to abide by institutional frameworks.

Through the process of Fordist-type liquidation sales, capitalism brings us back to forms of exploitation which are reminiscent of the beginning of the 20th century. The traditional proletariat is being transformed and enlarged — it is re-produced through new forms of exploitation like autonomous work and new structures of wage labour in a push towards generalised precarious conditions of life.

The world, and particularly the EU, is facing new contradictions, with relative potentialities for them to explode, such as Brexit or the rise of the far-right movements towards national power. With huge internal tensions, the geostrategic European bloc is on the edge, and in the near future it may either become a coherent imperialist pole, or risk facing the pressure of other centres of power throughout the world.

The lack of a social movement able to check the dominant bloc’s offensive must be redressed to better depict the situation. No movement amongst the oppressed is able to go forward to new social conquests and organise a combative working class under the current dominant social conditions.

This in a situation when the far right is everyday more aggressive and the bourgeoisie is leading an offensive against every right and social conquest that was accumulated through struggles in the last 150 years.

Where do we want to go to and what should we do?

In the present phase and the one yet to come, we must and will have to deal with a hard and difficult situation to build our intervention, but we won’t be afraid and we will not step back.

The end of capitalism and the self-management of the whole of society are needs that cannot and should not wait any longer. As such, they are historical objectives. They are the goals that lie at the heart of our practice within the organisations of the exploited. We learn and prepare tomorrow’s values in today’s struggles.

We do not believe there is any shortcut to that. Our daily duty is to build step by step the struggles and social conflicts in our neighbourhoods and our workplaces. We must accumulate the strength in order to gather and mobilise the whole part of the society which resists and creates dissent, refuses to comply with capitalism and defends the only possible alternative: organization from below and the destruction of every form of domination and exploitation. Our politics are one of emancipation, direct grassroots action and the construction of popular power.

We’ve seen that Europe, despite its contradictions and internal conflicts, is not only a supranational union of States, but also a system of transnational power which has a proper capacity to intervene to guarantee the fundamental interests of the dominant bloc.

We believe in, and therefore we work to build, a common culture and strategy within our respective organizations and our network, in order to reinforce social struggles and strengthen class-struggle and emancipatory organised anarchism. We aim at building an international network in the common area that will be able to fight back against the processes we are facing. By identifying the potentialities of struggle, we plan to generate an alternative and a balance of power that is more favourable to us.

We are determined for as long as necessary to bring our collective contribution to the movement of social struggles in Europe and throughout the world.

Go forward, fight, build popular power!

We carry a new world in our hearts.

Alternativa Libertaria/FdCA – Italy
Alternative Libertaire – France
Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes – France
Libertarian Socialist Federation – Britain
Organisation Socialiste Libertaire – Switzerland
Workers Solidarity Movement – Ireland

Full list of member groups

Australia
Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

Brazil
Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro
Federação Anarquista Gaúcha / Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira
Organização Anarquista Socialismo Libertário

Canada
Common Cause

Colombia
Grupo Anarquista Bifurcación
Grupo Libertario Vía Libre

Denmark
Libertære Socialister

France
Alternative Libertaire
Coordination des Groupes Anarchistes

Ireland
Workers Solidarity Movement

Italy
Alternativa Libertaria/FdCA

Norway
Motmakt

South Africa
Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front

Switzerland
Libertäre Aktion Winterthur
Organisation Socialiste Libertaire

Uruguay
Federación Anarquista Uruguaya

USA
"Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra
Humboldt Grassroots

Wales
Libertarian Socialist Federation

Tags: Anarkismoplatformistscategory: International
Categories: News

As Mueller Closes in on Trump, the Right Pushes Back: Will He Be Fired?

Truth Out - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:42

 Alex Wong / Getty Images) Special counsel Robert Mueller arrives at the US Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017, in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., appeared on CNN on Sunday and laid out the state of the investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in stark, simple terms:

Here is what we know:

The Russians offered help.
The Campaign accepted help.
The Russians gave help.
The President made full use of that help.

That's pretty damning. pic.twitter.com/kRo9NrdQq4

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) December 10, 2017

It is. I would also add, as I wrote last week, that numerous members of the Trump transition team apparently knew that Michael Flynn told the Russian ambassador to tell his government not to react to the sanctions the Obama administration had just imposed upon them. That's damning too. The Russians were essentially told, "Don't worry, we'll make sure you aren't punished for helping us win the presidency."

Whether laws were broken, beyond the charges filed so far against four top Trump advisers, we don't yet know. But it's clear that special counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing leads in a number of directions, from possible financial crimes to obstruction of justice to conspiracy. With former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying and agreeing to cooperate, this investigation has moved beyond the campaign to the transition and the White House. It's very serious.

And as anyone could have predicted, it was inevitable that the president's supporters in the media and the Republican Party would start to push back and try to delegitimize the investigation by attacking Mueller. This is the usual pattern in these presidential scandals.

Everyone in politics knows about the "Saturday Night Massacre" of 1973, when Richard Nixon demanded that Attorney General Elliot Richardson fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, after the US Court of Appeals overruled the president's claim of executive privilege. Richardson refused and resigned, as did his deputy, William Ruckelshaus. It was left to Solicitor General Robert Bork, third in line at the Department of Justice, to do the deed. Ten months later Nixon was forced to resign in the face of certain impeachment. His successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him shortly thereafter.

In the Iran-Contra scandal, the Republicans went after independent counsel Lawrence Walsh with everything they had, even granting immunity to the Reagan administration's henchman, Lt. Col. Oliver North, so he could arrogantly testify before the whole  country that he was proud to have broken the law on behalf of the United States of America. That investigation was finally ended when President George H.W. Bush preemptively pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five other government officials on Christmas Eve 1992, as Bush was on his way out the door.

Democrats mercilessly battered conservative Republican judge Ken Starr, who was appointed independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation when his predecessor failed to turn up any crimes. This was a key to the Democrats' success in maintaining public opinion during the Lewinsky sex scandal, because it seemed that Starr had gone far afield from his original mandate to investigate an Arkansas real estate transaction from the 1980s.

So now we have Mueller, a former US attorney and the longest-serving FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover, investigating President Trump and the 2016 election. If it is true that Trump coordinated with the Russian government during the election and then obstructed justice to cover it up, it is the most serious presidential scandal in American history. Nixon horrifically abused his power, the Reagan administration defied the will of Congress and Bill Clinton lied about an extramarital affair.  This is of a different magnitude altogether.

The Republicans are obviously aware of the danger and are frantically circling the wagons. They spent months throwing various ideas at the wall, including the obscure (and largely fictitious) Uranium One scandal and other Clinton Foundation matters, in an attempt to force Mueller to resign on the grounds that he was FBI director at the time. Now they've finally settled on a grand unifying theory: the Justice Department, the FBI and the special counsel's office are all hopelessly corrupt and compromised due to their fealty to Hillary Clinton and hostility to Trump.

The theory goes like this: James Comey and his men covered up Hillary Clinton's crimes and Mueller and his team are now trying to railroad Trump. This thesis is based on the fact that an FBI agent who was involved in both cases sent some texts to his girlfriend which were allegedly anti-Trump. Muller fired him last summer and he

Trump's most ardent media advocate, Sean Hannity, came out with guns blazing last week. He condemned Mueller's "partisan, extremely biased, hyper-partisan attack team" as "an utter disgrace." He said "they now pose a direct threat to you, the American people, and our American republic."

Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said "I think we now know that the Mueller investigation is illegitimate and corrupt. And Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon. And the FBI has become America's secret police. Secret surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment and threats. It's like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night banging through your door."

Here is Fox News' Jeanine Pirro over the weekend:

.@JudgeJeanine: "There have been times in our history where corruption and lawlessness were so pervasive, that examples had to be made. This is one of those times." pic.twitter.com/rvCKHYhKQ9

— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 10, 2017

Meanwhile, Trump's allies in Congress are also ratcheting up the crazy:

Was there collusion between DOJ and Fusion GPS to use Democratic funded dossier for political and legal purposes?

We need to know the answer to those questions. https://t.co/z8wKjcvxiT

— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 8, 2017

I will be challenging Rs and Ds on Senate Judiciary Committee to support a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 -- not just Trump and Russia.

— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 8, 2017

People wonder why Graham has suddenly become such an obsequious Trump lapdog. My suspicion is that Graham thinks he can distract Trump from doing something that will totally destroy his presidency with Clinton bait and unctuous flattery. It won't work, of course.

Trump's allies in the House have escalated their attacks as well, notably Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Ron DeSantis, a pair of Florida Republicans Trump huddled with aboard Air Force One on his way to the Roy Moore rally in Pensacola last Friday night. DeSantis has been pushing legislation to cut off Mueller's funding and Gaetz has said that America is "at risk of a coup" from Mueller, and has introduced a resolution calling for him to be fired.

All of this, from the right-wing media to the GOP Congress, is designed to push Trump to fire Mueller -- and if that fails to discredit Mueller's findings among their followers, as Paul Waldman argues here. But considering the history of partisan attacks on special prosecutors and independent counsels, this can hardly come as a surprise to Mueller and his team. Mueller has been in high levels of government for many years; he's not a political naif. He undoubtedly knew this was coming.

We don't know whether or not Mueller has laid enough landmines to protect his investigation, although there are some indications that he's made the effort. But if Trump's rhetoric on Friday night is any indication, when he called the system "rigged" and "sick," we may be about to find out.

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Categories: News

Trump Takes a Stand for Corruption -- by Withdrawing the US From Anti-Corruption Pact

Truth Out - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 14:12
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The degree of corruption displayed by the Trump administration is on a scale that is hard to keep track of, and hits so close to home that we often forget about the wider global implications of having an incompetent, at best, and more likely a traitorous "president". As many of us have realized since Day 1, the antics of the Distractor-in-Chief have served as excellent cover for his real agenda: covertly implementing pro-corporate policies.

In this vein, another international issue that flew under the radar recently was the withdrawal of the US last month from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as an implementing country. Through President Barack Obama, the US joined the "Anti-Corruption Pact," as it has been called, in 2011.

Now, Trump's hasty decision to pull out sends an unmistakable signal: corruption is tolerated if it helps line corporate pockets. According to Trump and lots of Republicans, anything regulating business is bad, even transparency. But the reality is that removing the US from EITI benefits no one.

Launched in 2002 by then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, EITI helps address the systemic corruption in countries whose GDP relies primarily on resource extraction. More than 52 countries across the world have joined the pact, which imposes international standards on business transparency so as to hinder illicit payments such as bribes or other forms of corruption. The basic idea of the Anti-Corruption Pact is simple: if extractive firms and corporations are forced to publicly disclose their contributions to government, then citizens can hold them accountable. The agreement is designed to help countries avoid the perils of the so-called "resource curse" often faced by undeveloped, resource-rich nations.

It's little surprise that the countries that have benefited from the EITI regulations are among the poorest and most corrupt in the world, for example, Ghana and Azerbaijan.

The Chairman of the initiative, Fredrik Reinfeldt, responded to Trump's decision in a prepared statement, saying, "This is a disappointing, backwards step. The EITI is making important gains in global efforts to address corruption and illicit financial flows." Some have interpreted the US withdrawal from the EITI as part of the country's indiscriminate and large-scale gutting of regulations, treaties and international agreements. But there is also concern that the Trump administration is giving extractive industries too much control over their own regulations.

In a resignation letter written by a Department of Interior official-turned-whistleblower, Joel Clement stated: "Secretary Zinke: It is well known that you, Secretary David Burnhardt, and President Trump are shackled to special interests such as oil, gas, and mining." In light of the recent news, the fact that Interior Secretary Zinke oversees the Department of Natural Resources Revenue is indeed troubling.

During his time in Congress, Zinke, then a representative from Montana, consistently voted and legislated in favor of extractive industries. Watchdog groups have raised concerns about contributions Zinke received from those industries, totaling at least $345,000 since 2003. Other members of the Trump administration also have ties to extraction industries, notably Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil.

It's no secret that the "fox guarding the henhouse" approach has typified the Trump administration's approach to governance from the start. And given Trump's long history of favoring Big Oil and non-renewable resources, protecting oil companies from having to declare foreign payments on their taxes may now be at the root of the US's withdrawal from the EITI.

The Department of Natural Resources Extraction contends that the EITI didn't take account of the complex US legal framework, explaining that laws such as the Trade Secrets Act prevent the US from participating. The department put forward industry research -- which was itself funded by the extractive industry -- arguing that there is no clear relationship between "good governance" and the EITI.

However, even this research has acknowledged that the pact may ultimately prove effective in some countries. Meanwhile, other research has shown that although the EITI doesn't have a clearly positive effect on the rule of law and control of corruption, it has had a positive effect on government effectiveness, economic development and regulatory quality.

The specious argument made by Big Oil is that the EITI isn't 100 percent successful in eradicating corruption, therefore we shouldn't engage in it at all. However, none of the research shows that the EITI does any demonstrable harm or provides a justifiable reason not to participate. The real reason for US withdrawal from the EITI, it seems, is so that the extraction industry can hide its contributions to foreign governments, including bribes.

Strangely, Exxon itself last month came out in support for the EITI, saying it will voluntarily participate in the pact despite the US's withdrawal. This draws into question the real motives behind Trump's move to bring down 15 years of anti-corruption negotiations. Is it solely for corporate interests? Or perhaps it is just another example of Trump's hatred of anything Obama touched, and succeeded in accomplishing.

The decision to pull the US out of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative may not affect our everyday lives as Americans. But it destroys hope for reform in the world's darkest corners, and further damages America's credibility as an international mediator or fair player on the world stage. While the country's withdrawal from the global Anti-Corruption Pact may have slipped through the autumn news cycle, it will have repercussions on international relations for decades to come.

Categories: News

Former Environment Secretary Promotes Post-Brexit ‘Special Relationship’ with US Climate Science Deniers

deSmog - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:00
Owen Paterson, Myron Ebell, and Jim Inhofe all meet in D.C.

Former environment secretary Owen Paterson made the rounds with some of the top climate science deniers on a tour of the US this autumn to promote a “special relationship” post-Brexit.

The Shropshire MP travelled to Washington D.C. in October, DeSmog UK can reveal, where he met with infamous climate science deniers Lamar Smith, James Inhofe, and Myron Ebell. He also gave speeches at both the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Heritage Foundation – two libertarian think tanks known for promoting climate science denial and working against environmental regulations.

Paterson’s visits are the latest in a string of meetings between pro-Brexit UK politicians (such as international trade secretary Liam Fox) and US climate science denial groups.

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