On June 21, Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), released a statement condemning the Trump administration’s immigration “enforcement overreach,” including the forcible separation of children from their parents.
“Nothing embodies our broken immigration system more than the unnecessary pain and suffering of our immigrant brothers and sisters as families are torn apart at the border,” wrote the head of the federation, which is composed of 55 unions representing a total of 12.5 million workers.
Just eight days later, the president of an AFL-CIO affiliate — the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) — wrote a column for Fox News forcefully defending Trump and arguing for more hardline immigration policies, including a wall between the United States and Mexico. “If families can’t enter illegally, then they won’t be separated while the adults await trial and sentencing,” wrote Brandon Judd, head of the NBPC, which represents 16,000 border patrol agents.
This divide raises pressing ethical questions for the US labor movement, whose ranks are filled with undocumented workers demanding basic safety and dignity on the job, but which also includes unions representing US Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Those unions constitute the far-right pole of the labor movement — and of the US political spectrum — backing Trump and his hardline immigration policies. In These Times spoke with union members, as well as immigrant justice activists, who say the white supremacist and xenophobic positions of immigration enforcement unions are an affront to the principles of justice and solidarity that the labor movement should embrace as the undocumented workers in its ranks face unprecedented attack.
“There is no place for racism or xenophobia in the labor movement,” Sam Gutierrez, an activist member of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2822, tells In These Times. “We have to understand when we are fighting for our rights, we are also fighting for everyone.”
The NBPC and the National ICE Council, a union representing ICE employees, have emerged as among the biggest cheerleaders of Trump’s hardline immigration policies. They endorsed him during the presidential election and have forcefully defended him in the press and lobbied for his most aggressive immigration policies. Amid mounting public outrage at family separations, Judd publicly defended the policy and called for more draconian actions, including the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. The leadership of National ICE Council, meanwhile, has publicly expressed frustration that the president is too soft on immigration and is open about its intentions to push the Trump administration further to the right.Doing Public Relations for Trump
The Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, including the forced separation of more than 2,300 children from their parents at the border, has provoked widespread public outrage. People have taken to the streets across the country, occupied ICE detention centers and blockaded court proceedings. As the call to Abolish ICE goes mainstream, the Trump administration claims it will jail families together — yet, in reality, thousands of children are still separated.
In this climate, Judd hit the media circuit to defend Trump’s policies, appearing June 19 on NPR, where he argued that the media is largely overblowing the horrors of the Trump administration’s immigration policies — and falsely claimed that Border Patrol agents are not separating families for meaningful amounts of time. In a June 30 appearance on Fox and Friends, Judd again championed Trump’s proposed wall, which he said is a result of the “business expertise” Trump is “taking to the White House.” In a May 20 interview with Fox News, Judd defended Trump’s description of some immigrants as “animals,” saying “They’re worse than animals, in my opinion. … Animals do not treat other animals the way MS-13 treats other human beings.”
During this period, the website and social media account of the NBPC looked nearly indistinguishable from the website of white nationalist publication Breitbart, referring to immigrants as “illegals” and choosing inflammatory headlines for its posts. Breitbart, incidentally, is where the union records its official podcast.
But the union’s pro-Trump public relations efforts predate his presidential victory. In March 2016, the NBPC broke with past practice of not endorsing presidential primary candidates, and came out in support of Trump. “We think it is that important: If we do not secure our borders, American communities will continue to suffer at the hands of gangs, cartels and violent criminals preying on the innocent,” said the union in its endorsement statement.
There is reason to believe Trump finds the alliance useful. In January, Judd appeared in an official White House video, in which he says, “The Trump administration has accomplished more in one year to secure our border than any other presidents. … He wants to ensure the American public is safe. He wants to ensure that we can go about our daily lives and not fear what might be coming across the border.”
On April 1, Judd went on Fox and Friends to call for even more hardline immigration policies, criticizing the policies that allow some people to leave detention facilities to attend immigration court at a later time. “They need to pass laws to end the catch-and-release program that’ll allow us to hold them for a long time,” Judd said. Trump immediately took to Twitter to echo Judd’s call, proclaiming: “Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release.”
The exchange prompted the New York Times to write a headline about Judd’s influence: “A Border Patrol Agent (and Frequent Fox News Guest) Has Trump’s Ear on Immigration.” Judd reiterated the demands in April 12 in testimony before the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.Pushing Trump Further Right
If anything, the ICE union is to the right of the NBPC — and of Trump. The National ICE Council, which says it represents roughly 7,600 “officers, agents and employees who work for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” endorsed Trump on the campaign trail but has grown frustrated with the Trump administration for not being aggressive enough on immigration. In a September 2016 statement explaining its first-ever presidential endorsement, the union cited Trump’s confrontational stance toward immigrants: “He has outlined core policies needed to restore immigration security — including support for increased interior enforcement and border security, an end to Sanctuary Cities, an end to catch-and-release, mandatory detainers, and the canceling of executive amnesty and non-enforcement directives.”
In January 2017, the union cheered Trump’s decision to build a wall along the Mexican border. “President Trump’s actions now empower us to fulfill this life saving mission,” reads part of its joint statement with the NBPC. By November 2017, however, the union began publicly declaring that the Trump administration had “betrayed” it by leaving Obama’s ICE team in place. That same month, its president Chris Crane wrote an open letter accusing Trump of inflicting “a stab in the back to the men and women of law enforcement who we know you support wholeheartedly.” Among his grievances, he cited “ICE managers ordering their own officers in the field not to wear bullet-proof vests because illegal aliens might find it offensive.” The letter also cites alleged deal-making that ICE managers are making with so-called sanctuary cities.
In February, Crane released another letter to the White House criticizing Trump’s immigration strategy: “We simply cannot in good faith support any legislative effort on immigration that does not include provisions regarding immigration detainers, sanctuary cities and the smuggling and trafficking of children across US borders.” The union wants more money to detain people, as well as an end to “catch and release.”
Anonymous ICE employees have also created a website that criticizes the leadership of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security for not being tough enough on immigrants, citing articles from Breitbart. One typical headline reads, “ICE Officers forced to warn city officials before making arrests; Criminals and Fugitives ‘magically disappear’ before they can be arrested.”
There are signs that the Trump administration has been influenced by the political efforts of these unions. In January 2017, the president publicly thanked Judd and Crane, identifying them as “two friends of mine.” Trump said, “You guys are about to be very, very busy doing your job the way you want to do them.”An Unacceptable Affiliation?
Both unions are chartered by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), an AFL-CIO affiliate. The AFGE hasn’t taken an official position on the border crisis, but in the past, the border patrol union has praised the AFGE, saying the NBPC’s parent union has “gone above and beyond” in supporting it.
The NBPC is less pleased with the AFL-CIO and its stance on immigration. In the FAQ on its website, the union justifies its AFL-CIO affiliation to its members by stating that, if it disaffiliated, the union would be placed in trusteeship by AFGE and lose its assets and status as the exclusive representative of border patrol agents. “Although NBPC is opposed to the shameless promotion of illegal aliens by the AFL-CIO, the NBPC must work through internal measures to change the position of AFL-CIO or risk jeopardizing our status,” reads the section. (When asked for comment, the AFL-CIO referred In These Times to Trumka’s aforementioned statement on the border crisis.)
For some labor and immigrant-justice activists, the affiliation is unacceptable. In 2016, the immigrant justice group #Not1MoreDeportation released a petition calling on the AFL-CIO to terminate the NBPC’s membership after the border patrol union endorsed Trump. “NBPC’s endorsement shines light on the disconnect between Border Patrol, immigrant communities and the rest of the labor movement across the United States,” reads the statement. “By endorsing Trump, Border Patrol endorses a racist, xenophobic and misogynist campaign that advocates mass deportation, torture, state-sanctioned discrimination against Muslims, subordination of women, and more broadly undermines the values and goals of the labor movement.”
There’s a precedent for the AFL-CIO to expel unions for political reasons — although, troublingly, it has only been applied to progressive unions: In 1949 and 1950, the CIO expelled 11 left-led unions, joining the liberal Cold War consensus and aligning itself with McCarthyism. The unions represented almost one million workers altogether and the ensuing strife ultimately led to the CIO merging with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955. Some of the expelled unions were able to survive outside of the AFL-CIO. One, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), rejoined the AFL-CIO in 1988, but chose to leave again in 2013 after the AFL-CIO failed to punish unions whose members had crossed an ILWU picket line.
The way the constitution of the AFL-CIO is currently written, it would be difficult to isolate the Border Patrol and ICE unions, since they’re within the AFGE, which also represents other federal and Washington, DC-based workers. However, with a two-thirds vote at one if its conventions, the AFL-CIO could conceivably amend the constitution to say it can expel certain chapters without expelling the whole affiliate. The AFL-CIO also has the option of pressuring AFGE to stop chartering the Border Patrol and ICE unions.
Whatever the best procedural path, some rank-and-file union members say the labor movement must grapple now with the urgent moral questions presented by the actions of border patrol and ICE unions. “As a federation, we cannot condone their behavior,” says Gutierrez, whose union is part of the AFL-CIO.
Carl Rosen, president of United Electrical Workers Western Region, told In These Times that he prefers not to comment on the AFL-CIO question, since his union is not a part of the federation. But he argues that the actions of border patrol and ICE unions should prompt soul searching on the part of the labor movement. “It’s extremely unfortunate that these organizations are taking those sorts of positions that are extremely destructive to the working class and antithetical to what the labor movement ought to stand for,” he said. “I think it is important for the labor movement as a whole to stand up on the side of justice and condemn organizations taking those positions.”
In a labor movement where other law enforcement unions have historically generated controversy and internal opposition, at least one labor council appears to be encouraging immigration enforcement agents to refuse orders. On June 26, Rusty Hicks, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, released a statement declaring, “As L.A. labor, we call on immediate and comprehensive reform of the US immigration detention system. We commit to defending and protecting all immigrants. We also commit to defending and protecting all workers who take a stand against orders they are asked to carry out in violation of basic human rights.”
And in February, Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, an employee at Montana’s labor department, quit his job after he learned that his agency was sending employee information to ICE. He called on other government employees to do the same. “So this is me, pointing at you, and telling you to act,” he wrote in a Medium post. “I’m especially telling you to take action if you find yourself as part of one of the agencies helping commit these atrocities.”
As the labor movement fends off attacks from Trump’s National Labor Relations Board and attempts to organize more workers, including undocumented immigrants, who are highly exploited by employers, its response to the current crackdown on immigrants could impact its success moving forward. According to Amy Livingston, a labor educator at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, “The call for the labor movement to divest from Border Patrol and ICE unions is a meaningful opportunity for the mainstream US labor movement to stand with workers and communities of color by rejecting white supremacy.”
Carlos Rojas Rodriguez is an organizer with Movimiento Cosecha, which organizes undocumented workers to build collective power. He tells In These Times, “Unions have a responsibility to protect workers, and in the United States we have one of the most diverse workforces in the whole world. The recent statements made by the ICE and CBP unions defending Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-worker policies are a betrayal to union values.”
The post ICE and Border Patrol Unions Cheer Trump’s Immigration Crackdown appeared first on Truthout.
President Donald Trump has just removed an old IRS rule that required specific types of nonprofit organizations to disclose the identities of their large donors.
As the Department of Treasury explained on its website:
The Treasury Department and IRS announced today that the IRS will no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations to file personally-identifiable information about their donors as part of their annual return. The revenue procedure released today does not affect the statutory reporting requirements that apply to tax-exempt groups organized under section 501(c)(3) or section 527, but it relieves other tax-exempt organizations of an unnecessary reporting requirement that was previously added by the IRS.
Nearly fifty years ago, Congress directed the IRS to collect donor information from charities that accept tax-deductible contributions. That statutory requirement applies to the majority of tax-exempt organizations, known as section 501(c)(3) organizations, receiving contributions that can be claimed by donors as charitable deductions. This policy provided the IRS information that could be used to confirm contributions to those organizations.
By regulation, however, the IRS extended the donor reporting requirement to all other tax-exempt organizations—labor unions and volunteer fire departments, issue-advocacy groups and local chambers of commerce, veterans groups and community service clubs. These groups do not generally receive tax deductible contributions, yet they have been required to list the names and addresses of their donors on Schedule B of their annual returns (Form 990).
As The New York Times reported, “the change, which has been long sought by conservatives and Republicans in Congress, will affect labor unions, social clubs and, most notably, many political groups like the National Rifle Association and the Koch network’s Americans for Prosperity, which collect what is known as ‘dark money.””
Treasury officials said the reporting change would protect privacy and reduce compliance costs for nonprofits, and that the IRS could still request donor information from groups in the rare event that it was needed for tax scrutiny.
“Americans shouldn’t be required to send the I.R.S. information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in a statement on Monday evening.
“Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s announcement is a thinly-veiled attack on transparency in political campaigns,” Adav Noti, senior director at the Campaign Legal Center and a former associate general at the Federal Election Commission (FEC), told Salon by email. “The information that he is allowing organizations to withhold from the IRS was one of the very few remaining protections for voters against the influence of foreign dark money in elections. So the administration has made a choice to deprive law enforcement agencies of the information they need to detect and deter illegal campaign spending by foreign powers.”
Noti’s concerns were echoed by Steven Rosenthal from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
“There’s a lot to this administrative rule under the semblance of reducing paperwork,” Rosenthal told the Times. “It adds another layer of opaqueness to the tax-exempt funding.”
By contrast, Republican lawmakers — many of whom claimed that the existing laws had allowed the IRS to inappropriately target various political groups during the administrations of President George W. Bush and Barack Obama — celebrated the new policy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that it was “particularly welcome news to those of us who intently are focused on defending the First Amendment, for those of us who over the years have raised concerns during the last administration about activist regulators punishing free speech and free association. It’s a straightforward, common sense policy decision.”
Similarly, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, declared that “for years, Members of the Ways and Means Committee have fought for an I.R.S. that is accountable to the taxpayer and does not target or single-out any person or entity based on their political beliefs.”
The Wall Street Journal also lauded the decision in an editorial on Tuesday:
Presidents swear an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution,” and that includes guarding against restrictions on political speech. So congratulations to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter for advancing that cause on the controversial issue of donor privacy.
Treasury announced Monday evening that the Internal Revenue Service will no longer require most 501(c) organizations to include donor names and addresses on their tax Form 990 Schedule B. Nonprofits have had to divulge those sensitive details for donations above $5,000. From now on, only 501(c)(3)s that receive a tax deductible benefit will have to provide such donor information. This new IRS revenue procedure will exempt some 45,000 nonprofits from the reporting rule, including unions and social-welfare groups.
Donor names are supposed to remain private, but the government has inadvertently revealed donor lists. IRS employees also used donor-information demands as part of their harassment of Tea Party organizations during the Obama Administration. State Attorneys General have even sought to require nonprofits to release Schedule B details to state regulators, with a goal of requiring public disclosure that could tee up donors for political harassment—a threat to free speech. The new IRS policy means states won’t be able to exploit this donor information as easily.
By contrast, Democrats condemned the decision as one that would only help the rich continue to remain unaccountable, with Sen. Jon Tester of Montana describing it as “the swampiest, darkest, dirtiest decision.”
This doesn’t mean that nonprofits are completely off the hook.
“Organizations still need to keep the identities of donors on file, and the IRS has the power to request that information,” Noti told Salon by email. “If there is reason to believe that an organization is illegally funneling foreign funds into U.S. elections, the Department of Justice or the Federal Election Commission could open an investigation.”
The post IRS Drops Rule that Required Disclosure of Donors to Political Nonprofits appeared first on Truthout.
via MEL Magazine
Last year, squads of young men and women in black clothes, masks and bandanas crept out to the streets of Portland, Oregon, with bags of asphalt in hand. This wasn’t about Neo-Nazis, law enforcement, immigration rights or other prickly issues millennials have demonstrated a passion for. They took to the streets for one purpose only: to patch potholes, which had grown out of control as the city struggled with a backlog.
Peter, a self-identifying anarchist in his mid-30s, was a part of the grassroots crew, which dubbed itself Portland Anarchist Road Care. In his eyes, the city had let down too many people who frequently popped tires and crashed bikes on their way to work. Being critical of government was old hat to Peter, who had felt a distrust of authority from a young age and fed himself a steady stream of punk rock and Noam Chomsky in his 20s. For him, fixing potholes wasn’t just a kind volunteer act — it was a political statement.
“Like everyone else, we were just sitting around waiting for the city to deal with it, and then we realized, these are our streets,” he says. “And if we want to offer an alternative to state solutions to problems, why not show people that we can do things together, as a society, that the state fails to do for us?”
Over several months, the crew patched several dozen potholes — a small number in comparison to the hundreds the city ultimately fixed, but an achievement nonetheless for a band of unauthorized, self-organized workers. In the process, it became a curious new symbol for anarchism, a centuries-old political ideal that has long been misunderstood.
The ideology resurfaced into the mainstream when white nationalist Richard Spencer, dressed in a grey suit with his signature “Nazi haircut,” stood in front of a camera for an interview in January 2017. He had just wrapped up a rant about the aggressive tactics of leftist activists and started explaining the meaning of a Pepe the Frog pin on his lapel when, out of nowhere, a lanky black-clad man flew into him, throwing a right hook that hit Spencer square on the head and sent him fleeing.
That one punch captured the attention of the nation, triggering a flash flood of humorous memes, political analysis and outright condemnation. The puncher had dressed in the all-black uniform seen in a number of Antifa (anti-fascist) groups, which led media coverage to speculate that he was a member. More Antifa appearances around the country on Inauguration Day, in Berkeley in protest of Milo Yiannopoulos and at the deadly Charlottesville rally only helped bring exposure to the groups, which were at least partly composed of anarchists and influenced by anarchist tactics.
Search Google for the meaning of “anarchy” and the first result you see is a definition: “a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority,” with synonyms like “lawlessness,” “turmoil” and “mayhem.” Culturally, there’s long been a link between anarchy and chaos, signified by things like the Spencer punch, the rise of anarcho-punk bands in the 1970s and 1980s and the textbook The Anarchist Cookbook, which rose to infamy in the 1970s as a guide to cooking up homemade bombs and other weapons.
But those references distract from the fact that anarchism is, at its heart, a philosophy that simply works to minimize government’s inherent power over its citizens — and condemns the damage that power does to people, whether that’s domestically with abusive law enforcement or abroad with invasions and wars. Their activities may overlap with leftist groups like the Democratic Socialists of America, but anarchists reject government on principle rather than commit to working within its construct.
Anarchism has already been a valuable force for social and economic change in the U.S., among other things inspiring the massive labor movements to standardize an eight-hour workday, first in 1886 and again in 1890. As evidenced by Portland Anarchist Roadcare, today’s young anarchists are continuing that tradition of political action, through a wide range of groups and activities far beyond the physical violence and chaos that the mainstream media often ties to the ideology. “Anarchism is about the ability for everyday people to solve their own problems and create a world worth living in, outside of top-down hierarchies and politics,” says James, an editor of anarchist news site It’s Going Down (and who declined to reveal his full name, as with some other anarchists quoted in this piece). “The terrain that millennials are increasingly seeing is a nihilistic one. Despite what Trump says or even the cheerleaders of Obama said, things aren’t getting better for working-class people.”
This is the true fringe of the “Radical Left”: ambitious in theory, practical in action and driven by a desire to prove that people don’t need a nation-state to support fulfilling lives. Usually, that means tackling non-violent tasks to help vulnerable Americans without the assistance or permission of the government, as with the work of groups that bring aid to neighborhoods damaged by natural disasters, create humane conditions for prisoners and increase wages for poor workers.
And once in a while, it means punching fascists, too.What Do Anarchists Do?
On Sept. 9, 2016, 24,000 incarcerated men and women in prisons across America collectively refused to do their assigned labor, ranging from building vehicle parts to sewing clothes to working as janitors or cooks. The work strike served to protest extremely low wages and unethical living conditions behind bars, and was led by the Free Alabama Movement and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), the latter being an arm of Industrial Workers of the World, one of the most influential anarchist-driven organizations in American history. IWOC staffers collaborated with incarcerated members behind prison walls, communicating with people using a series of contraband cell phones hidden in more than 20 prisons. Even some guards in Alabama got in on the strike.
While it’s hard to measure the actual impact of the work strike, advocates say it showed prison officials that political activism can bloom in unlikely (and oppressive) spaces, led by motivated individuals who face inhumane treatment on a daily basis. Now, anarchist activists like IWOC member Clayton Dewey are gearing up for another prison strike on August 21.
Dewey first began identifying as an anarchist when he was 16, inspired by punk bands like Anti-Flag, Fugazi and At the Drive-In. Later, he fought for political prisoners’ rights and helped organize protests against the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. In joining IWOC, Dewey was inspired by the sight of a national organization operating without hierarchy in command. “The real effective activity comes from local groups working off their own initiative. This upcoming strike is a good example. We’ll set out a larger framework of demands that you can use, but if your facility has something specific you want to fight for, we say take it and go with it,” Dewey notes. “It allows us to be flexible, and it’s more about trust and relationships. There’s no formal chain of command to get permission.”
Anarchists don’t buy into bowing to authority outside of their organizations, and will often not obey laws if they prevent direct aid to a community that needs it. That may include acts like rent strikes against landlords as a reaction to poor conditions or gentrification, or dropping into towns damaged by natural disasters to dispense fast and unauthorized help, as with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR).
The group first formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as a reaction to the mass evacuations and building teardowns that many residents feared would lead to permanent evictions, despite government promises to the contrary. Today, MADR is composed of decentralized crews around the country with a small core committee that gives guidance to its many independent working groups.
MADR doesn’t label its politics, but its ranks feature a large number of anarchists, says co-founder Jimmy Dunson, 33. The crux of the group’s work is its belief that conventional government and nonprofit aid responses can serve as a form of “disaster capitalism,” in which institutions angle to best promote their agenda in the aftermath of a tragedy, rather than aid the survivors in the best way possible, Dunson says. The group recently funded and delivered a $60,000 solar energy microgrid to a Puerto Rican aid center, and toured around the nation to various chapters during the spring to encourage action and provide training. MADR emphasizes collaborating with locals in disaster areas whenever possible, to create recovery strategies beyond the charity of major institutions.
“The nonprofit-industrial complex and the state, with its military or police, often come into disaster areas and try to reestablish the status quo of the dominant social hierarchy in that area. We see colonizing forces setting up curfews and checkpoints, for instance,” Dunson adds. “Others may treat the community as passive aid recipients who don’t need to be involved in the recovery, even though they have valuable knowledge and goals. We’re creating alternatives to all of those problems.”
Other anarchists choose to set up residential communes, as with Detroit’s Trumbullplex, a community founded in 1993 when activists set up a nonprofit and purchased two Victorian homes and the small one-story art space that sat between them. Residents care for common spaces together, collaborate to host performances with visiting artists, and collectively run the zine “library,” which holds more than 2,000 pieces of literature to share within the commune and with the surrounding community. The individual “rent” of $300 a month is used to maintain operations, with no profit going to any member. Recently, the Trumbullplex anarchists won a major victory when they outbid a real estate developer for two lots next door to their complex, which they will use for more community events.Where Did Anarchism Come From?
These kinds of practical, grassroots tactics promote ambitious ideas about an individual’s freedom, outlined in a number of historical texts that have crafted the philosophy around modern anarchism. The earliest recorded anarchistic ideals may have come from Chinese philosophers like Zhuang Zhou, who mulled over questions of liberty and state rule in 4 B.C. Others point to Jesus as being one of history’s earliest anarchists, given his own fight against state punishment. The moniker of “anarchism,” however, wouldn’t rise until French philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon identified himself as anarchist in his groundbreaking 1840 book, What Is Property?
In the text, Proudhon decried the institutions that allowed the powerful to accrue private property at the expense of the working class, setting the foundation for modern anarchist critique of capitalism and wealth inequality:
“The liberty and security of the rich do not suffer from the liberty and security of the poor; far from that, they mutually strengthen and sustain each other. The rich man’s right of property, on the contrary, has to be continually defended against the poor man’s desire for property.”
In 20th century America, anarchism and its followers helped birth influential community organizations and unions, most notably the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), an international group that first formed in Chicago in 1905. While it didn’t identify as solely anarchist, the IWW championed many of its ideas. It stood as an alternative to larger labor groups like the American Federation of Labor, which the IWW criticized for excluding workers and giving too much power to employers.
The IWW exists today with much smaller decentralized chapters, but it hit the news this year when the Portland IWW chapter helped organize the first federally recognized fast-food union in the nation, the Burgerville Workers Union.Are Anarchists Violent?
It is true that sometimes, anarchist action means committing to physical violence as a tool. Whether it be the 1886 bombing of Haymarket Square in Chicago, the violence of Earth Liberation Front members or fistfights at modern-day “black bloc” (where activists dress in black to disguise themselves, as with Antifa groups) counter-protests, the anarchist credo of direct action has long been intertwined with violent tactics — though public perception greatly exaggerates the link.
Portland’s Rose City Antifa (RCA), which was recently involved in a skirmish against a right-wing Patriot Prayer event, see violence as an option only in self-defense. The justification is a simple one for the group: The fact white nationalists feel emboldened enough to march in public stands as an existential risk to the communities and ideals they want to protect, says Joseph, a twentysomething representative of RCA. After all, despite the pearl-clutching reaction to Antifa fights, proponents argue the bigger problem appears to be that fascists now exist in all facets of American life — from the internet to public streets to the highest levels of government.
The political climate of the last decade has rapidly accelerated interest in joining Rose City Antifa, Joseph says. The group is led by the stated principle of fighting for a “free, classless society,” but its current actions focus on disrupting the ability for white nationalists and Neo-Nazis to organize. “Antifa opposition has diminished Patriot Prayer and the ability of like-minded groups to organize. They had hundreds of people last year, now it was 20 or 30 people this time,” Joseph says. “Community self-defense is a practical way to provide social consequences for Neo-Nazism. But beyond direct action, a lot of Antifa groups are focusing on the kinds of journalistic investigation we do to gather information and expose Neo-Nazis around the country.”
Antifa has been on the actual front lines of defending other peaceful protestors, as in Charlottesville. National media depicted the fights as being instigated by both alt-right and Antifa groups, but a number of witnesses said in the aftermath that Antifa had protected people from harassment and violence from alt-right crews. “I am a pastor in Charlottesville, and Antifa saved my life twice on Saturday. Indeed, they saved many lives from psychological and physical violence. I believe the body count could have been much worse, as hard as that is to believe,” Rev. Seth Wispelwey told Slate. While anarchism has a number of major tenets, none may be bigger than the idea that an individual holding disproportionate power over another is bound to create institutional violence, whether economic or physical. Converts can come from the most unlikely of backgrounds, as with Carne Ross, who learned how toxic a chain of command could become when he served as a diplomat for Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1997 to 2004. Most notably, he was Britain’s expert on the hypothetical weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, representing the nation at the U.N. Security Council. He and other British civil servants had concluded that Iraq wasn’t a threat over his four and a half years of study, yet he watched on TV as Tony Blair joined forces with George W. Bush to justify a war to the public. It was a slap to the face of Ross, who heard their statements as outright lies. The moment made him reconsider actions he had defended previously — e.g., economic sanctions on Iraq. Why, he wondered, had he so readily backed the punishment of the Iraqi people? He resigned from the Foreign Office in 2004 and soon found himself taking on the ideas of anarchism as an alternative to what he now saw as corrupt governments. Anarchism, he says, is both elegant and misunderstood: “A simple idea you can implement in almost any circumstance, but one that has a bad reputation.” The task is to find small ways to take back power from organized government, which Ross believes cannot give equality and freedom to the masses. “Any government, certainly as they’re currently constituted, exerts coercive authority over its population. Even so-called democratic governments give themselves the right to imprison people, kill people, wage war, things that are immoral for us as individuals,” Ross says. “But there’s no reason why in the current context of nation-states you can’t engage in anarchist action in your community. And, in fact, I think that’s the most plausible route of long-term revolution.” Despite the negative attention, the ideas of anarchism have clearly struck a chord with young and working-class people around the country, says James, the It’s Going Down editor. He points to recent political polls that show widespread dissatisfaction with not just Donald Trump’s administration, but the inequality of the economy, the threats of climate change and beyond. “We see ourselves as wanting a conversation with the half of the population that’s sitting there, largely thinking that things just suck,” James says. “There are two corporate parties that represent huge tech capital on one side and right-wing industries on the other, with no real representation of the people stuck in the middle.” Similarly, in Ross’ mind, the failure of the current system to uphold the needs of average Americans is becoming more and more obvious. He laughed out loud while recalling one time when he gave a presentation of his ideas to a group of venture capitalists. The first slide of the PowerPoint bluntly stated “Capitalism Isn’t Working.” He was shocked to see that nobody in the room even mustered a protest. It was another sign to Ross that even people profiting off the status quo couldn’t help but acknowledge something was wrong with it. Does anarchism provide a blueprint for a whole alternative system of governance? Ross doesn’t think so. After all, being an anarchist doesn’t necessarily mean dropping all reliance on government services, or not paying taxes, or not voting, Ross notes — that would be unrealistic given the power structure of nation-states, he says. What anarchism can do is provide a value system for anyone who wants to effect change in their community today, and in this sense, Ross admits anarchism feels to him more like a spiritual way of viewing the world than a strict political theory. “What all anarchists have in common is a rejection of one person having power over another,” he says. “And that’s a profound and important idea for us to wrangle with.”
Why Do People Convert to Anarchism?
While anarchism has a number of major tenets, none may be bigger than the idea that an individual holding disproportionate power over another is bound to create institutional violence, whether economic or physical. Converts can come from the most unlikely of backgrounds, as with Carne Ross, who learned how toxic a chain of command could become when he served as a diplomat for Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1997 to 2004.
Most notably, he was Britain’s expert on the hypothetical weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, representing the nation at the U.N. Security Council. He and other British civil servants had concluded that Iraq wasn’t a threat over his four and a half years of study, yet he watched on TV as Tony Blair joined forces with George W. Bush to justify a war to the public. It was a slap to the face of Ross, who heard their statements as outright lies. The moment made him reconsider actions he had defended previously — e.g., economic sanctions on Iraq. Why, he wondered, had he so readily backed the punishment of the Iraqi people?
He resigned from the Foreign Office in 2004 and soon found himself taking on the ideas of anarchism as an alternative to what he now saw as corrupt governments. Anarchism, he says, is both elegant and misunderstood: “A simple idea you can implement in almost any circumstance, but one that has a bad reputation.” The task is to find small ways to take back power from organized government, which Ross believes cannot give equality and freedom to the masses. “Any government, certainly as they’re currently constituted, exerts coercive authority over its population. Even so-called democratic governments give themselves the right to imprison people, kill people, wage war, things that are immoral for us as individuals,” Ross says. “But there’s no reason why in the current context of nation-states you can’t engage in anarchist action in your community. And, in fact, I think that’s the most plausible route of long-term revolution.”
Despite the negative attention, the ideas of anarchism have clearly struck a chord with young and working-class people around the country, says James, the It’s Going Down editor. He points to recent political polls that show widespread dissatisfaction with not just Donald Trump’s administration, but the inequality of the economy, the threats of climate change and beyond. “We see ourselves as wanting a conversation with the half of the population that’s sitting there, largely thinking that things just suck,” James says. “There are two corporate parties that represent huge tech capital on one side and right-wing industries on the other, with no real representation of the people stuck in the middle.”
Similarly, in Ross’ mind, the failure of the current system to uphold the needs of average Americans is becoming more and more obvious. He laughed out loud while recalling one time when he gave a presentation of his ideas to a group of venture capitalists. The first slide of the PowerPoint bluntly stated “Capitalism Isn’t Working.” He was shocked to see that nobody in the room even mustered a protest. It was another sign to Ross that even people profiting off the status quo couldn’t help but acknowledge something was wrong with it.
Does anarchism provide a blueprint for a whole alternative system of governance? Ross doesn’t think so. After all, being an anarchist doesn’t necessarily mean dropping all reliance on government services, or not paying taxes, or not voting, Ross notes — that would be unrealistic given the power structure of nation-states, he says. What anarchism can do is provide a value system for anyone who wants to effect change in their community today, and in this sense, Ross admits anarchism feels to him more like a spiritual way of viewing the world than a strict political theory.
“What all anarchists have in common is a rejection of one person having power over another,” he says. “And that’s a profound and important idea for us to wrangle with.”
Environmental and conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Tuesday, challenging federal lease sales for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that represent the largest offering to the oil and gas industry in United States history.
As part of President Trump’s “America-First Offshore Energy Policy,” federal regulators are offering every available acre of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling companies at an auction in New Orleans next month, only excluding waters off the coast of Florida protected by Congress for tourism and other reasons. The Gulf is already one of the most heavily drilled offshore regions in the world.
The government is putting 77.3 million acres of Gulf waters up for grabs offshore of five states. Environmentalists say opening the rest of the Gulf up to drilling will reduce competition for available drilling areas and allow fossil fuel companies to gobble up leases at rock bottom prices.
“Donald Trump and [Secretary of the Interior] Ryan Zinke have made it clear that their first priority is handing over our public lands and waters to corporate polluters at as low a cost as possible, regardless of the consequences for our communities, marine ecosystems, and the climate,” said Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program Director Athan Manuel in a statement.
The lawsuit challenging 2018 Gulf lease sales argues that the Trump administration is working to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf based on a flawed analysis of the industry’s environmental impacts, putting wildlife such as sea turtles and dolphins at risk. Dustin Renaud, a spokesperson for the Gulf Restoration Network, said the analysis relies on environmental protections established under President Obama that the Trump administration is actively trying to roll back as part of its deregulatory, pro-fossil fuel agenda.
“The crux of this lawsuit is that the Trump administration is using Obama-era rules like the well control rule to justify that their lease sale won’t have any impact, while simultaneously rolling back those rules,” Renaud told Truthout.
The well control rule is one of several targeted by the Trump administration that were written after the massive 2010 BP oil spill disaster, which killed 11 oil workers, caused lasting damage to fisheries, ecosystems and even human health. The well control rule focuses on blowout preventers, the emergency systems designed to prevent a Deepwater Horizon-style disaster if operators lose control of their well.
“With these massive lease sales in the Gulf, the Trump administration is holding up President Obama’s policies with one hand to claim [that] the environment and worker safety won’t be compromised, while slashing those same policies with the other hand and aggressively attempting to expand drilling,” said Chris Eaton, an attorney with Earthjustice, the organization that filed the lawsuit. “Trump can’t have it both ways.”
The lawsuit also argues that the Trump administration’s environmental analysis underestimated the impacts that the lease sale could have on global climate disruption.
Oil and gas producers have already developed much of the Gulf, and the industry has shown dwindling interest in federal lease sales like the massive one officials have planned for August. Renaud said the Trump administration is trying to attract new development by pushing down lease prices and rolling back safety rules that smaller fossil fuel firms complain are too expensive.
However, reports show that several of the smaller firms pushing for deregulation and flocking to aging oil and gas fields in the Gulf under Trump’s oil and gas push have a history of pollution and safety violations. Of the 2,104 active oil and gas facilities in the Gulf, 449 are operated by financially at-risk companies that may be motivated to cut corners, according to the Gulf Restoration Network.
An average of 2,100 oil and chemical spills in the Gulf of Mexico are reported to the Coast Guard every year, and the impacts of expansive oil and gas production are well documented. Last month, the same plaintiffs filed a separate lawsuit against federal regulators for failing to conduct a legally required consultation on offshore drilling’s impacts on endangered and threatened Gulf wildlife.
The post Lawsuit Challenges Trump’s Massive Offshore Drilling Sale in Gulf of Mexico appeared first on Truthout.
Today we bring you a conversation with Liat Olenick, a public school teacher and co-president of Indivisible Nation BK, which is a Brooklyn-based activist group. Olenick discusses the group’s latest rally targeting Sen. Chuck Schumer and how Indivisible Nation BK plans to hold Democrats like Schumer accountable in the coming months.
Sarah Jaffe: We’re talking today because you had a rally last week targeting Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, right? Can you tell us how that came off?
Liat Olenick: We held a rally outside his Manhattan office, although we have held previous rallies … outside his house as well. The purpose of this rally was to push him to lead the Democratic Caucus and unite them in opposing the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh [to the Supreme Court]. Because of the makeup of the Senate, the only way that we really have a chance at blocking this nomination is if Democrats are united, so his leadership is essential.
This is not the first time that you’ve protested Chuck Schumer, as you said. Talk about the importance of groups challenging Democratic leadership and demanding that they stand up to Trump.
Indivisible is all about holding your own elected officials accountable. As a Brooklyn group, we meet … literally in his backyard; we’re right near his house. We do have members from all over Brooklyn, but because we’re so close to him, we kind of feel a special responsibility to continue to hold him accountable and put pressure on him to be the leader that we need right now.
All elected officials are there for one reason: because they were elected by people going out and voting for them. When we signal to our representatives what we want them to do or that we are thankful for something or that we are disappointed in actions that they have taken, they pay attention because they want to, ultimately, get re-elected and stay in office. The whole Indivisible model is based on that. We — especially with Chuck Schumer — take that really seriously because we are in his backyard, and also because he is the most powerful Democrat in the country right now, and more than anybody else, we need really strong consistent clear leadership coming from him and his office.
Have you gotten any response from his office to these actions?
Yes, we talk to his staff pretty frequently. They know about the rally. We always invite them to come and talk to people when we do a rally like that, or a protest. They did not come down this time around. We did let them know about it in advance, and they certainly were aware that it is happening, and were in conversation with them about the Supreme Court nomination and all the other things that are going on.
You said they didn’t come down this time, but they have before?
Yes. We have held previous similar rallies, especially last summer with the [Affordable Care Act (ACA)] repeal fight. In those instances, the staff would often come down and talk to people, which was really appreciated. But they did not do that this time.
Aside from the ACA repeal, what are some of the other rallies that you have held? What were the targets and the demands?
In terms of Schumer, specifically, we have also organized a lot of actions around the DREAM Act. Last winter, we staged one protest in Grand Army Plaza, which is two blocks from his house, and then one directly outside his home about the DREAM Act because that is an area where we wanted to see stronger leadership, in terms of using his leverage to protect Dreamers, which is obviously still an issue.
Then, last summer, as I said, we had been fighting Trumpcare. We organized one or two rallies outside his office. Then, way back in January of 2017, there were some protests in Grand Army Plaza and near his house that were more focused on pushing him to oppose Trump’s cabinet appointments. We did not organize that, but we did participate. So, there has been kind of a similar local consistent push to urge him to be a stronger “No” in the Senate and to unite his caucus on some key issues.
Tell me about the makeup of the group. Who are the people? Are these longtime activists? Are these first-time activists getting involved because of Trump? Tell me how that came together and who the average person in the group is.
We got started in December of 2016. It was very much a response to the election. However, I would say there is a wide range of experiences in the group in terms of political activity and work. There are some people who have been engaged in some form of activism for years and years … and there are some people who … are new to taking political action in this way, and they are really just still learning the tools that are part of Indivisible and part of getting involved in elections. So, it is a range.
I think I am kind of a middle-ground example. I am a teacher, but I have been an education advocate for a long time, where I have been organizing and writing and protesting on issues related to education, but I was kind of siloed. Then, after the election, it was like, “No, I need to organize everything, I can’t just focus on this one issue,” and felt like I needed to learn and kind of spread out to things that were bigger.
Within the group, was anybody opposed to the idea of challenging Democrats, or do people really come together with this idea that … this is the appropriate thing to be doing right now?
I think within our group there is definitely — and within Indivisible groups across the city and the state — there is a fair degree of unity with regards to how we see Senator Schumer’s role in particular, and there is a widespread desire to see stronger leadership from him, not just specific to our group.
We don’t really see it as “challenging Democrats.” We see it as doing the basic democratic job of holding elected officials accountable no matter what party they are a part of. That is our role as active and informed constituents: to make sure that our elected officials are really representing us and our interests. That guides our work related to Senator Schumer, but also other elected officials that we interact with.
Going forward, the Supreme Court nomination is one fight, [and] we’re leading into midterm elections. What do you want to see from Senator Schumer and the Democratic leadership going forward?
Specifically, with regard to the Supreme Court, we want to see a united Democratic caucus. It is very simple and it is essential. We have seen that be effective last summer with the ACA repeal fight. The only reason we were able to stop the repeal of the ACA is because we had a united Democratic Caucus and it did not hurt Democrats in polling or in messaging or anything to take a strong stance on an issue that affected millions of people.
We see the same issue at stake with this — health care is at stake combined with so many other issues, including the possibility that our president could attempt to pardon himself. We just expect a clear firm line on the Supreme Court nomination where all Democrats are saying, “We are voting no.” Whatever their individual reasons are, that will vary depending on what state they are from, but we expect unity.
Then, going forward into the elections, we would really like to see him take a more active role in helping to craft Democratic priorities and messaging because he is not very visible in this. This is actually something that we have met with him in person about, where he put out this Better Deal platform, which has a lot of really good policies in it, but we are not seeing it promoted or shared with the public in a way that is effective.
That is part of why we had pushed for Senator Schumer to hold a town hall in New York City for over a year. He hasn’t held one in years … and we felt like this is what leadership is about and he needs to talk directly to constituents. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are holding nationally televised town halls where they are talking to millions of Americans. He is minority leader. He needs to put himself out there. There was a town hall scheduled for the first week in July, which we were very excited about, and it was cancelled at the last minute because of some travel issue.
So, in addition to uniting Democrats on a Supreme Court nomination, we really want to see him rise to that leadership and meet the leadership needs of the moment, reschedule his town hall … kind of an “all hands on deck” situation.
What were some of the policies in that that people in your group found inspiring?
There are definitely some really good things in the Better Deal. There is antitrust regulation, $15 livable minimum wage, protections for unions, for teachers…. Those are all compelling things. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs. There are great policies within it, but there is not an overarching message and it is not being shared with the public.
We want to see him out there talking about, “This is what I stand for, this is what it means to be a Democrat, and I am not afraid to answer your questions. I am not afraid to be held accountable by my constituents and these are the ways you can do your part to help whoever get elected in November.” We see other elected officials doing that across the country, where people are really stepping outside traditional ways of relating to constituents and “business as usual” to try to mobilize people and inspire them.
How can people keep up with you and with your group and what is going on?
They can definitely follow us on social media. On Twitter, we are @bkindivisible. Our website is www.IndivisibleNationBK.org. We have our Facebook, also. Everything is on the website. We are very active. We are doing things every day. We welcome everybody to get in touch in any way.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.
The post Schumer’s Leadership Is Essential in Blocking Kavanaugh’s Nomination appeared first on Truthout.
You can buy prepping books, stockpile food, and learn first aid, but unless you have organized your personal information and documents, the aftermath of an ordinary disaster … Read the rest
The post How to Create a Personal Emergency Preparedness Binder appeared first on The Organic Prepper.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has nothing but contempt for international law. But he has shown uncritical deference to executive power, particularly in the so-called war on terror cases.
The two primary sources of international law are treaties and what’s known as “customary international law.” Ratified treaties are part of domestic US law under the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which says treaties “shall be the supreme law of the land.” Furthermore, it has long been established that customary international law, which arises from the consistent and general practice of nations, is part of US federal common law.
Although he professes to interpret the Constitution as written by the founders, Kavanaugh has apparently overlooked the supremacy clause and simply scorns customary international law.
Jordan Paust, international law scholar and professor emeritus at University of Houston Law Center, told Truthout in an email, “The unanimous views of the Founders, Framers, and Supreme Court Justice opinions is that the President and all members of the Executive Branch are bound by international law.” Paust also referenced a 2016 article he wrote in the Houston Journal of International Law documenting this fact.
Kavanaugh, however, erroneously conflates international law with foreign law. The US agrees to the terms of treaties it ratifies. And in most instances, the United States can opt out of a customary international law norm if the US objected while the norm was being developed. Foreign law, on the other hand, is the law of other countries — such as French law, German law, etc.
In the 2016 case of Al Bahlul v. United States, a Guantánamo detainee argued that since “conspiracy” was not an offense under the international laws of war, he should not be tried for conspiracy before a military commission.
Kavanaugh’s concurrence in that case characterized al-Bahlul’s argument as “extraordinary” because “it would incorporate international law into the U.S. Constitution as a judicially enforceable constraint on Congress and the President.”
That would mean, Kavanaugh cynically wrote, that wartime decisions made by the president and Congress to try unlawful enemy combatants before military commissions “would be subject to the dictates of foreign nations and the international community, as embodied in international law.”
He added: “The federal courts are not roving enforcers of international law. And the federal courts are not empowered to smuggle international law into the U.S. Constitution and then wield it as a club against Congress and the President in wartime.”Kavanaugh and the War on Terror
For 12 years, while serving as a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh had the opportunity to rule on several cases stemming from the “war on terror.” In nearly all of them, he demonstrated nothing but disdain for international law and an uncritical deference to executive power.
During the Bush administration, the Supreme Court checked and balanced the executive branch in several war on terror cases. They included Rasul v. Bush (which established that federal courts have jurisdiction to hear Guantánamo detainees’ habeas corpus petitions); Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (which held that a US citizen held as an enemy combatant has due process rights to contest his or her detention); and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (which concluded that Bush’s military commissions violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions).
In 2008, the high court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that Guantánamo detainees held as enemy combatants have the right to file habeas corpus petitions in US federal courts to challenge their detention.
But in the wake of the Boumediene decision, Kavanaugh tried to neuter detainees’ habeas corpus rights in cases that came before him on the Court of Appeals, such as Omar v. McHugh and Uthman v. Obama. University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck noted in a 2011 article that since Boumediene was decided, commentators “have accused the D.C. Circuit in general — and some of its judges in particular — of actively subverting [Boumediene] by adopting holdings and reaching results that have both the intent and the effect of vitiating the … decision.”
Edith Roberts went further, writing at SCOTUSblog that “Prominent among those judges is Kavanaugh.”
In the 2010 case of Al-Bihani v. Obama, Kavanaugh ruled that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), under which al-Bihani was held as an enemy combatant, should not be interpreted in light of the international laws of war.
Kavanaugh wrote, “International-law norms that have not been incorporated into domestic U.S. law by the political branches are not judicially enforceable limits on the President’s authority under the AUMF.”
Paust noted in a law review article that Kavanaugh “embraced and basically relied merely on a radical ahistorical and ultimately anti-constitutional minority viewpoint” in that statement.
Kavanaugh “prefers a radical and dangerous view that ‘courts may not interfere with the President’s exercise of war powers based on international-law norms that the political branches have not seen fit to enact into domestic U.S. law,'” Paust wrote.
In fact, Kavanaugh twisted the law to reach what appear to be politically motivated results. Paust opined, “Bias is strikingly evident in [Kavanaugh’s] non-judicious use of the phrase ‘lurking international-law.'”
“This sardonic mischaracterization of law,” according to Paust, “is one that [Kavanaugh’s] former colleagues in the White House (for example, [Alberto] Gonzales, [George W.] Bush, [David] Addington, and [Dick] Cheney) might have appreciated during their infamous era of serial criminality orchestrated in the White House.” But, Paust added, “it is decidedly out of place in an impartial appellate chamber within the judicial system of the United States.”A Dangerous Presumption
Another example of Kavanaugh’s disrespect for international law and fondness for executive power is the 2009 case of Kiyemba v. Obama. Seventeen Uighur men found to be unlawfully detained at Guantánamo feared being returned to China in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and a federal statute, given the likelihood that they would face torture upon their return. Kavanaugh took the position that courts must defer to the president’s determination of whether there is a likelihood of torture upon return. Most of the Uighurs were ultimately relocated to other countries, but many remain in detention.
Kavanaugh’s deference to the president goes even further. In a 2014 law review article, he wrote that the take care clause of the Constitution requires the president to enforce the law, “at least unless the President deems the law unconstitutional, in which event the President can decline to follow the statute until a final court order says otherwise.” Kavanaugh would create a dangerous presumption in favor of a president who refuses to follow the law.
If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh will almost certainly defer to the president’s wartime decisions during the perpetual war on terror. He will likely extend that deference to Donald Trump’s immigration policies under the guise of “national security.” And Kavanaugh’s frightening theory will encourage the president to disobey any law he deems unconstitutional, including customary and treaty-based international law.
The post Kavanaugh Scorns International Law and Loves Executive Power appeared first on Truthout.
LISTEN HERE: https://archive.org/details/0717201819
"breath at the threshold" by Joan Kovatch. 2.1 million year-old tools, pre-domestication bread. Over-heating, drought, fires, 4 mile wide Greenland iceberg event. Time now measurable at 100 billionth of a second. Good discussion of basic questions. Action briefs, 4 calls.Tags: anarchy radiopodcastJZ and EGcategory: Projects
Hawaii gets new island as erupting volcanic crater continues to spew lava into sea | 16 July 2018 | Lava flows that have been cascading into the sea have formed a brand new, small island off the coast of Hawaii after a crater at Mount Kilauea exploded with the force of a 5.2-magnitude earthquake. Friday's crater explosion sparked a slow-moving flood of lava that destroyed hundreds of homes at Kapoho, on the Big Island...When the lava cooled, the sea peeled back to reveal a small island jutting out from the depths only a few meters from the mainland.
“The concept of the White Ally is bankrupt. One cannot be an ally to a category of people. To speak the words “I am a White Ally to people of color” is to commit an act of double speak, to internalize non-sense. There is no singular black voice that can be listened to, no authentic community leadership which to follow. There are only many different people with different ideas, life experiences and perspectives. To think otherwise, to think that all black people share a common opinion is extremely problematic, one might even say racist. One can be an ally to individuals though there are other words in the English language which describe this relationship with more grace: friend, lover, partner and sometimes cellmate or co-defendant.”
Music: Lil Boosie – Fuck the Police Ft. WebbieFergusonStLSaint Louisaudiozineallycategory: Projects
Billionaire Mining Magnate Gina Rinehart Revealed As Key Donor to Australian Climate Science Denial Promoter Institute of Public Affairs
Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has been revealed as a key funder of the right wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) – a major pusher of climate science denial.
Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting Proprietary Ltd (HPPL), donated $2.3m to the IPA in 2016 and $2.2m in 2017, according to disclosures made to the New South Wales Supreme Court.
As part of a long-running legal dispute over the use of company funds, Gina Rinehart’s daughter Bianca had served a subpoena to access documents that would have shed light on the two donations from HPPL to the IPA.
The IPA is an influential right wing think tank with close ties to Australia’s governing Liberal Party. IPA fellows regularly appear in the media. The payments suggest that more than a third of the IPA’s income in 2016 and 2017 was from HPPL – majority-owned privately by Gina Rinehart.Tags: Institute of Public Affairsgina rinehartHancock Prospectinghppl
From 325Mirror image of Civilisation & Religion (PDF)
Small booklet compiling the recent texts critical to the so-called ‘Eco-Extremist’ trend written by nihilist-anarchists and anarchist-insurrectionalists from around the world.
Produced in collaboration with Verde Press.325Eco-extremismITScategory: Essays
From 325Other expressions of authoritarianism and sacred thought
Given the recent proliferation of eco-extremism and some opinions expressed in the broadcast media related to this tendency, the need arises for this text. Without pretending to engage in a dialogue, we will clarify a few things that seem essential to us.
For several years now, various individuals from different parts of the American continent (especially from the territory dominated by the Mexican State) close to the positions and struggles against civilization, gave shape to a trend that they called “eco-extremism”.
What is eco-extremism? Although there are subtle differences between those who are placed under that concept, we can more or less talk about a consensus among them, since they see the whole of humanity as their enemy; that humanity and it’s civilization is incompatible with Wild Nature.
They understand that the war against civilization is indiscriminate, so any person would represent an enemy. Since humanity is the problem, anyone can be the target, regardless of gender, economic condition, age, etc. The forms of attack of these groups are inspired by the most diverse experiences, so they do not mind picking up the “teachings”(I) of religious fanatics such as ISIS or political parties that wager for national liberation, as their indiscriminate methods serve them.
One of the most emblematic action groups of this current is “Individuals Tending towards the Wild” (ITS). In 2011, several technological research centers began to be attacked with explosives in some Mexican cities. Over the years, the attacks continued and at the same time several related groups appeared, all of them having civilization as their common objective. In 2014, “Reacción Salvaje” (RS) appears, concentrating several eco-extremist groups and leaving aside the initials ITS. For 2016, ITS returns with the main objective of expanding the project to new locations. That same year from the Territories dominated by the Chilean, Argentine and Brazilian States arise attacks and claims related to ITS. There are also organizations sympathetic to this trend, ranging from an individualist perspective to anti-civilization, such as the Egoist Sects in Italy, and organisations have emerged related to eco-extremism in Germany, France, Finland, etc.
To achieve its objectives, which is the end of civilized humanity, there have been all kinds of attacks ranging from the abandonment of explosive devices on public roads during the day to fire, letters bombs and some murders.
In addition, they believe that every natural phenomenon that hurts humans in their lives and properties is akin to their principles of ending civilization, as for what they have claimed in their pages of internet tidal waves, earthquakes, snowfalls, etc.
Between aesthetic radicalism and the sacred
The eco-extremists call themselves individualistic and nihilistic, many of them come from anarchism and, according to their own words, approached anarchism seeking “salvation” and “free community” but only saw “a set of Christian moralists”, and so they chose to move towards something “more radical”. This search for “radicalism”, we understand it more as the appropriation of everything that is seen as “politically incorrect”, according to the parameters of what the citizenry collects. In this way, if tomorrow there is a new concept that bothers or disturbs the “normal human” beings, no doubt, they will appropriate it. Radicality is to finish with the root of the problem, not just going towards the extreme or provocative.
They have cemented their theoretical foundations in the study of some nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples; according to their own words, they have rescued pagan animism, however they have created a new faith based on different ancestral deities. Their sacred polytheistic thoughts are perhaps not as violent as the Christian God, but it is one (or some) All Powerful, after all…
We find it curious that they call themselves individualists and nihilists, being that they believe in entities that are above them, how can the individual be developed integrally if their reality is subject to something that controls them? We appeal and we fight to destroy all the chains, creeds and laws.
“We are and will be enemies of any religion, be it Christianity, animistic paganism or Wild Nature. No static doctrine is above us. Let us free ourselves from all that is sacred, we have neither faith nor law and our discourse will have neither.”
We see in their writings how they try to be masters of the Truth and how they sacralize their war against civilization into a kind of neo-inquisition against everything that, for them, is not correct or against everything that represents “civilized” values. By validating their position as “the only possible reality” they are necessarily above the rest, setting the standard of “good and bad”. Their evident authoritarian positions are closely linked to the absolutism of feeling possessed of a certain wisdom and of believing themselves to be the elect for the naturalistic Crusade.
“The sacred is then the highest of the essences and everything by which it is revealed or manifests itself, also sacred are those who recognize that supreme in their own being, that is, in its manifestations. What is sacred sanctifies in turn its worshiper, who by their worship makes it sacred; and in the same way sanctifies all that it does: holy commerce, holy thoughts, holy aspirations, holy actions, etc…” Max Stirner
On opportunistic criticism
As is good to affirm, we are different things, so we are not interested in criticizing their work, much less falling into the easy exit of insult. The questions that they ask of anarchism do not affect us, since we do not share the way they see it; as a doctrine with patterns of rigid and immovable behavior. We understand it and we live it as a set of anti-authoritarian ideas and practices that confront all forms of domination. It is a constant tension not an achievement or an ideology. It is the destruction of everything that makes us enslaved, building new ways of relating between all the beings that inhabit this world and others with the Earth.
When the anarchists are criticized for having a moral as if we were religious or owners of the Truth, we clearly say that we reject morality, understanding this as the institutionalization of certain patterns and behaviors that are immovable, that is, when it becomes a “just because” and not a learning based on the experience of what is beneficial to us. We prefer the terminology of ethics, which comes from ethos or custom, not referring to a tradition but to experience, to what is habitual. We are not ingenuous or conformist, we know that within anarchism there is a wide range of tendencies and that, among these, there are opposing tendencies. There are those who see anarchism as a dogma taking the postulates of some comrades of other times as if they were sacred writings. In this way, we think, individual freedom is restricted within its organizational forms. Criticisms to these forms of thought and the differences in what refers to the action exist since there are anarchists who took the wholeness of the individual and/or took a qualitative and radical leap in the forms of attack. The criticisms made by some eco-extremists about certain forms of anarchism are not new… There are some of us who have been doing it for several decades (not to say more than a century). We do not expect a day for the revolution, nor the legitimacy of the masses, and we do not have a uniform pattern of behavior to follow.
Our option is to destroy all authority
As we explained earlier, many of the eco-extremists come from the anarchic world, specifically from the eco-anarchist and primitivist struggle, so it is logical that there may be many things that we share, but there are many other fundamentals that put us on opposite sides. We could expand on several but we will specifically address the vision of authority. In a text that we find in their digital media entitled “Anarchist Myth” they point out:
“We understand that authority and hierarchical organization are neither “good” nor “bad” but are something that simply exist, like it or not, it’s something very natural in human behavior since forever. Therefore we can be false and fall into the hypocrisy of anarchists and “Anti-authoritarians” or we can accept the reality and use it for what suits us.”
However, curiously, in the same text they call themselves individualists who do not “bow their heads in front of anyone” and that “they do not need to be told what they have to think, do or what decisions to make “. This dichotomy that unites hierarchy and individual freedom expressed by the author or authors, seems profoundly contradictory. Our idea of individualism has part of the basis of placing the individual at the center of all actions, that is, it is not above the collective nor below it, nothing submits it. We are completely contradictory to the position of the eco-extremists, we are enemies of all forms of authority and we do not see hierarchy as something “very natural” in human organizations. To make it clear; Anarchy comes from the Greek prefix “an” which means “without” or “no” and from the root “arkê” that translates into “power” or “mandate”.
We understand that in order for power relations to be generated, there basically has to exist some kind of mandate and obedience, which can be coercive or not, but it does not stop at violence. To support their “natural hierarchy”, they usually analyze various behaviors of some hunter-gatherer peoples.
We will do the same. As stated by Pierre Clastres in “The Society against the State”, when studying the different behaviors of several tribes of the Southern Cone (yes, leaving aside the great civilizations of the Incas and Mayas), he says:
“A pertinent feature of the political organization of most indigenous societies is the lack of social stratification and authority of power: some of them, such as the Ona and Yagan (II) of Tierra del Fuego, do not even possess the institution of leadership; it is said of the Jíbaros (III) that their language has no term to designate the chief.”
Almost all the writings that are known about the behavior of many American native peoples are from evangelizing priests, European conquerors and contemporary researchers. The first and second came from lands where there were great kingdoms, so they knew perfectly well what obedience is, and subsequent studies reaffirmed the above.
Clastres explains it clearly; “However, the direct experience in the field, the investigators’ monographs and the oldest chronicles, leave no doubt about this: if there is something completely alien to an indigenous, it is the idea of giving an order or having to obey it, except in very special circumstances, such as the expedition of war.”
We look, analyze and learn from different peoples, but we are clear that we do not want to be like them and even from our western vision (which we try to destroy) there are many things that we find hard to understand. We want to end domination, and in that exercise we build new ways of relating, we create new dynamics and we do not we want those of others, be they parties, vanguards or indigenous people.
The most certain thing is that with what we’ve written we will labeled anthropocentric hyper-civilized Christians; We may be, it’s not our intent to try to give lessons to anyone, but we simply want to make things clear. We do not want to leave their shadows of this world, we want to destroy each of the links of this great chain that makes us all slaves, among them too we include civilization, since we are aware of the damage it does to everything that surrounds it, but with this we do not believe that the solution is misanthropy and sacralization of nature, in fact, we believe that it is part of the problem.
I We have found several articles referred as, according to the eco-extremists, “what can be learned from different groups for the war against civilization”, they mainly talk about collecting experiences, forms of attack, etc. To name a few examples is the article in the magazine Ajejema entitled “Paraguayan People’s Army” (EPP). Can you learn from them?, in which they point out: “Valuable things can be learned from both the left and the right armed groups, and we have no moral problem in admitting it because more than once we have claimed a marked tendency towards anti-politics and what anti-ideological”. And another in Extinction magazine n° 6 called “The lessons left by the Islamic State before its collapse”, in which they point out: “The war of the Islamic state is an authentic war against civilization, although, surely if they triumphed they would impose their Islamic civilization with an iron fist, it’s a war anyway, so personally, I have no moral problem in learning from it.” In the forms of attack the eco-extremists collect from ISIS, among other things, the use of hens, donkeys and even children with Down’s syndrome attached to bombs.
II Ona and Yagan, towns that resided in Tierra del Fuego. The Onas or Selknam are extinct, the last Yagan woman was killed in the year of 2006.
III Los Jíbaros is a derogatory name for the Shuar people, they are the most numerous Amazonian natives (approximately 80,000 individuals). The Shuar inhabit the jungles of Peru and Ecuador.
From Kalinov Most #1
Today most large companies like Exxon Mobil, Ford and GM issue slick reports extolling their efforts to conserve resources, use renewable energy or fund clean water supplies in developing countries. This emphasis on efforts to curb environmental harm while benefiting society is called corporate sustainability.
Once uncommon but now mainstream, this show of support for a greener and kinder business model might seem like a clear step forward. But many of these same companies are quietly using their political clout, often through industry trade associations, to block or reverse policies that would make the economy more sustainable. And because public policy raises the bar for entire industries, requiring that all businesses meet minimum standards, lobbying to block sound public policies can outweigh the positive impact from internal company initiatives.Tags: auto alliancealliance of automobile manufacturersTrump AdministrationClean Power Plangreenwashingcorporate lobbying
Russian military 'ready to work with US' after Trump and Putin talk Syria, nuclear arms in Helsinki | 17 July 2018 | The Russian military is ready to work with the US colleagues on all the areas discussed by the two presidents during the Helsinki summit, namely cooperation in Syria and mutual reduction of the strategic nuclear arsenals. "Russian Defense Ministry is ready to implement the agreements on the international security, reached by Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump during the Helsinki summit yesterday," Ministry's spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Tuesday. On Monday, Russian and the US leaders agreed to revitalize the military cooperation in several fields. During the press conference in the aftermath of the summit, Trump stated that Russian and US militaries proved to actually get along better than the politicians of the two countries over the past few years, naming deconfliction communication in Syria as an example.
The post The New Prison Movement: The Continuing Struggle to Abolish Slavery in Amerika appeared first on It's Going Down.New essay from Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, political prisoner and incarcerated journalist, tracks the history and growth of the new prison movement to abolish prison slavery.
Across Amerika (home of the world’s largest prison population) growing numbers of the imprisoned are coming to realize that they are victims of social injustice.
Foremost, as victims of an inherently predatory and dysfunctional capitalist-imperialist system, which targets the poor and people of color for intensified policing, militaristic containment, and selective criminal prosecutions. While denying them access to the basic resources, employment and institutional control needed for social and economic security. Deprivations which generate “crime”: economic crimes, crimes of passion, and crimes of attempting to cope (through drug use and addictions).
Secondly, once imprisoned they become victims of inhumane abuses, warehousing, and one of the most decadent and dehumanizing forms of social economic injustice: slavery.
This rising awareness among the imprisoned has prompted increasing numbers of prisoners to unite in resistance proclaiming “no more!” And the momentum is building.
This “new” Prison Movement is seeing growing waves of open resistance to slave labor and conditions of abuse, which is eroding the structures put in place beginning nearly 50 years ago to repress the Prison Movement of that era, such as solitary confinement.From Yesterday’s Suppressed Prison Movement
During the earlier wave of the Prison Movement (of the 1960s-70s), when the courts barred their doors against prisoners’ lawsuits seeking redress against the inhumane conditions that pervade U.S. prisons, the prisoners rose up in resistance.
In a dialectical relationship their movement both informed and was informed by revolutionary ideas then prevalent in the broader social movements of the time, which exposed and challenged the capitalist system. At the forefront of that movement was the original Black Panther Party and allied groups on the outside and Comrades like George Jackson who formed the BPP’s first prison chapter on the inside.
To suppress that movement and stamp out its revolutionary consciousness, the Establishment began constructing and operating solitary confinement prisons and units (called Supermaxes and Control Units) at an unprecedented level. Beginning with the Marion Control Unit which opened in 1972, after the assassination of George Jackson by guards, and the peaceful 1971 uprising at Attica State Prison that officials suppressed by murdering 29 prisoners and 10 civilians, then tortured hundreds more, sparking international outrage and exposure of the inhumane conditions in U.S. prisons.
In a rare admission of the actual political purpose of subsequent high security units, Ralph Arons, a former warden at Marion, testified in federal court: “The purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in prison and society at large.”
Alongside this repression also came concessions to the Prison Movement, including prison officials granting prisoners more privileges and the federal courts opening their doors to prisoner litigations challenging their living conditions. But this did not last.
As the U.S. prison system expanded eight-fold and solitary confinement units contained prisoner resistance the concessions were rolled back and the courts soon made rulings like Turner v. Safley and laws like the Prison Litigation Reform Act were enacted, that in effect reinstated the courts’ old “hands off” doctrine towards prisoner lawsuits.Oppression Breeds Renewed Resistance
With these reversals abuse conditions intensified especially with the vastly expanded use of solitary confinement, a condition which the U.S. Supreme Court found to be cruel and unusual and constituted torture back in the late 1800s, and the attendant enlargement of prison labor pools to be exploited as free workers. Under these conditions of heightened abuse and exploitation a new Prison Movement has emerged and is only growing.
At each stage of this new movement record numbers of prisoners have joined and forged unity across racial and tribal lines that the system has traditionally been able to keep prisoners divided and controlled by. Even more monumental is unity in these struggles has been achieved not just within individual prisons, but across entire prison systems and now across the country, with public support spanning the country and reaching international levels.
This has and can only inspire greater levels of resistance and help us refine our forms of resistance, and methods of organizing and communication.
To these ends I’d like to summarize the major events in today’s growing waves of prison resistance and call on readers to join and support the struggles to come.And Resist We Have!
When in 2008 a migrant Jesus Manuel Galindo was left to die in a solitary confinement cell from untreated epilepsy, hundreds of detainees at Reeves County Detention Complex in Pesos, TX took over the complex and put it to the torch. Over $2 million in damage was reported in an uprising that united detainees from Cuba, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Mexico.
During December 2010, prisoners in six Georgia prisons went on a mass strike, protesting unpaid slave labor; solitary confinement, and other oppressive conditions. Latinos, Blacks, whites, prison tribes of all orientations, Muslims, etc. united in this protest. Following the week-long strike, two years later at Jackson State Prison, where many of the 2010 strike leaders were transferred to, a 44 day hunger strike was staged as guards violently retaliated.
In 2011 and 2013 three historical mass hunger strikes were undertaken by California prisoners protesting indefinite solitary confinement and other abuses, where 6,000, 12,000, and 30,000 prisoners respectively participated. Prisoners in other states also joined the strike – in Virginia, Oregon, Washington state, etc. This strike united and was led by Blacks, Latinos, and whites, and all the major California prison tribes. Which led to a call by the prisoners to end all racial and group hostilities, and which Cali prison officials have repeatedly tried to sabotage. This strike and unprecedented unity alongside legal challenges by some strike leaders and participants forced the Cali prison system to reform its long term solitary confinement policies and release some 2,000 prisoners to general population in 2015.
Inspired by the 2010 GA prison strike, in 2013, prisoner leaders of the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) called for a strike in protest of Alabama’s “running a slave empire” and “incarcerating people for free labor”. In January 2014, prisoners at four Alabama prisons took up the strike. As a result of FAM’s organizing efforts and collaborating with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a committee within the IWW was formed called the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), which now has over 800 imprisoned members in 46 states. The IWOC has since played an important support role in subsequent strikes and building public support. Shortly after the IWOC’s founding, the IWOC and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter united as allies in this work, and I as a co-founder of the NABPP and numerous other NABPP members joined IWOC.
In 2014, all 1200 detainees at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, went on a 56 day hunger strike, which spread to the Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, Texas, all protesting oppressive conditions at the facilities. Outside protesters organized in support of the strikers.
In April 2016, prisoners in seven Texas prisons went on a work strike at the call of leading comrades of the NABPP’s TX branch and IWOC. The month before a spontaneous uprising took place in Alabama at Holman prison, where the new warden, Carter Davenport, known for his role in physical assaults on prisoners, ended up on the receiving end of violence.
These initiatives in early 2016 inspired a call to prisoners across the U.S. to engage in a county-wide strike beginning on September 9, 2016, a date chosen to commemorate the 1971 Attica uprising.
September 9th proved historical as over 30,000 prisoners in up to 46 facilities in 24 states took up various forms of protest from refusing to work, to hunger strikes, to prison takeovers, to disrupting operations. Outside protests took place in various cities across the U.S. in support of the prisoners.
In response to the rising voices of prisoners resisting slave labor and abusive treatment, on August 19, 2017, a March on Washington was undertaken in support of prisoners and against the 13th Amendment which, enacted at the end of the Civil War in 1865, legalized enslavement of the criminally convicted, in violation of international law written and ratified by the U.S. after World War 2, which forbids all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude.
Shaken by the protests of September 2016, in an unprecedented move states like Florida locked down their entire prison system hoping to head off any possible uprisings attending the August 19, 2017, Washington March. Florida went even further to serve its prisoners special gourmet meals during the entire four day lockdown (from August 18-21).
Despite this move Florida prisoners made an end run around officials and still undertook a strike codenamed Operation PUSH, beginning February 12, 2018, on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. PUSH involved prisoners across the state refusing to turn out for work and boycotting the prison commissary. They were protesting unpaid slave labor, price-gouging in the system’s commissary and packaging services, the gain-time scam that replaced parole, compounded by extreme overcrowding caused by extreme sentencing, causing inhumane conditions.
As Florida prison officials scrambled to replace men who refused to work with more compliant ones and transferred and carted off strike participants to solitary confinement, they falsely reported to the media that no strike and no retribution against participants occurred. An outright lie.
As one of Operation PUSH’s main outside supporters informed me in a letter during latter January 2018:
“I am receiving mail daily from prisoners all over FL who are either participating in Push or being retaliated against for having literature or correspondence with outside organizations that support the strike, such as IWOC and FTP. Some have been outright threatened with punishments if they continue to talk to us … There was only 6 weeks of planning and it was covered by 50 news outlets including Newsweek, The Nation, Teen Vogue! I think we’re off to a good start and the DOC is lying that no one is participating.”
Not only this but I can bear witness to Florida officials’ lying about there being no strike nor reprisals, because I also participated.
On the eve of the strike the warden at Florida State Prison (FSP) had me and nearly a dozen others with whom I was known to socialize split up, which we’d anticipated. This did nothing to prevent our planned boycott of the commissary for several weeks. In fact it allowed us to spread the word.
Then on January 10th the warden had me charged with a disciplinary report for inciting FL prisoners to riot, in retaliation for me writing an article explaining the strikes purpose and the prisoners’ need of public support that was published online. After a prompt kangaroo hearing and conviction of the infraction I was put in an unheated cell with a broken window as outside temperatures dipped into the 20s, and guards kept exhaust fans on 24/7 sucking the freezing air into the cell.
Yet another call went out, initiated by any NABPP’s Comrade Malik for a renewed round of strikes across the U.S. to begin on Juneteenth (June 19, 2018). As I and several dozen prisoners at Florida’s Santa Rosa prison where I was then confined prepared a commissary boycott for this strike, and undertook to build unity among the prisoners there in solitary (to counter the culture of guard-manipulated violence between them), I was abruptly interstate transferred back to my home state of Virginia and promptly assigned to a permanent solitary confinement status called Intensive Management.The Struggle Continues
But the struggle doesn’t end there. A broad call has gone out for a sustained prison strike from August 21-September 9, 2018, for prisoners across the US. Participants are called on to participate in any, several, or all of the following manners:
- Work strikes: prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
- Sit-ins: In certain prisons, people will engage in peaceful sit-in protests.
- Boycotts: All spending should be halted. Those outside the walls are asked to not make financial judgments for those on the inside. People on the inside will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
- Hunger strikes: People shall refuse to eat.
The strike will raise the following 10 general demands:
- Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned people.
- An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No humans shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
- An immediate end to the racist overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and Brown people. Black people shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
- An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and Brown people.
- No imprisoned person shall be denied access to rehabilitative programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
- State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitative services.
- Pell grants must be reinstated in all U.S. states and territories.
- The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!
Slavery and oppressive “containment” of the marginalized and poor never ended in Amerika. The 13th Amendment was passed as a compromise to previous slave owners whereby they could continue to exploit the labor of disempowered people, but now free of the burden of paying for their upkeep. This was done at taxpayers’ expense.
This oppressive dynamic must continue to be resisted as must the inhumane and dehumanizing conditions that attend imprisonment in Amerika. It was only by resistance that the slaves of the old antebellum slave system effectively countered the lies and logic of the ruling powers of that system erected by them to justify their institutions of slavery; it was only by unifying in that resistance and sabotage and ultimately fighting for their freedom, with the support of outside allies and comrades, that the slaves of the old South destroyed the system as it was.
But it was only reformed into the system of penal slavery that it is now. So we still have much work to do until slavery in Amerika is abolished once and for all.
Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!
 Quoted in Stephen Whitman, “The Marion Penitentiary – It Should be Opened-Up Not Locked Down,” Southern Illinoisan, August 7, 1988, p. 25.
 Turner v Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987), basically established that if prisoner officials can invent a rational sounding justification for violating a prisoner’s established constitutional rights the courts will allow them to act illegally.
 The “PCRA” is a federal law passed by Congress that makes it difficult for prisoners to sue in federal courts and get meaningful relief when they do. Many states have adopted similar laws.
 See, In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160 (1890).
 See, Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
 “How to Organize A Prison Strike,” Pacific Standard (May 7, 2018) https://psmag.com/social-justice/how-to-organize-a-prison-strike
Only a few weeks into his time as Premier, Doug Ford has already moved on a key promise he made to social conservatives while securing the Progressive Conservative party’s leadership nomination. By canceling the sexual education reform and restoring the 1998 curriculum, Ford has provoked some significant popular anger. This is interesting because the level that people feel impacted by this is much more than at other moments around the same issue, for instance, in 2010 when Dalton McGuinty’s government proposed and then withdrew a very similar reform, or in 2015 during consultations by the Wynne government to write the new curriculum
In large part, this can be explained by Ford’s hateable face, but also by his willingness to hand wins to the religious right. That he is emboldening and bringing in the same groups that push an anti-queer and anti-women agenda more broadly makes this a much larger threat than just an issue of curriculum.
In this short text, I want to pose a couple of questions for us as we move ahead on this issue: what are the possibilities of a grassroots response? Is canceling the reform actually going to change anything? And how can we think about the groups behind the campaign that led to the cancellation? (For details about the reform and its cancellation, see links at the end)
There were already queers, radicals, and feminists organizing to plug into the sex-ed portion of the school curriculum. This wasn’t a mass effort, but there has been for a long time a constellation of volunteer and not-for-profit groups that support teachers in providing quality sex-ed content or talking about consent or LGBTq issues in schools. It sounds like many people are seeing the value and urgency of this work now and are trying to organize themselves to either get into classrooms or provide after-school programming or printed resources.
This is direct action and it’s a very positive step. However, the scale of the problem is very large and its unlikely that decentralized groups focused on service provision will be able to make a dent. In Ontario, there are 125,000 teachers working in almost 5000 schools with a budget of 23 billion dollars.
The Liberals and NDP (and their supporters) will point to this problem of scale when arguing that the only answer is to support them, in the Canadian tradition of social progress coming from the top. However, we can understand the problem differently and ask if we really accept a situation where the state has almost total authority to decide what children learn and how.
There is a lot that has been written in critiquing the mainstream, state-centric education model: that it is most concerned with authority and obedience, that it is homogenizing, that it seeks to make docile workers rather than well-rounded individuals, that it reproduces class society, that it is a key tool in cultural hegemony, that it breaks apart other forms of community and rebuilds us as a mass… This might be a moment to dream a bit bigger than just a pressure campaign about curriculum.
At times, there have been very interesting FreeSkools in Ontario, providing free (like freedom) and decentralized education, mostly aimed at adults. Like in many places, there are also large networks of parents unschooling or homeschooling their kids in response to critiques like those described above. Are there skills, tools, and analyses in these experiences that could be brought to bear alongside the specifically sex-ed work comrades have been doing that could provide a vision for what taking grassroots control over school, schooling, and education can be?
It’s also possible that the issue of sex-ed in schools is being overstated. Social movements in Ontario have very little autonomy from political parties and unions, which can make it hard to tell when an issue is actually critical and when its just being mobilized as a partisan wedge. After all, the new curriculum never came into effect, so Ford’s cancellation of the reform is a status-quo move. Definitely, there was real reason to be excited about the changes and having a provincial government that caters to reactionaries is a cause for concern. But materially, the situation around sex-ed is the same as last year.
When I went through school, I started under the sex-ed curriculum that the 1998 one replaced: I got an explanation of what kinds of touching might be inappropriate in grade 3, the full anatomy lesson and where babies come from in grade 4, and discussion of puberty in vague terms in grade 6. In high school however, ostensibly under the 1998 curriculum, my whole school, in the public board, got abstinence-only education, anatomy that talked about the skeletal and muscular systems but not ovaries and testicles, and the only discussion of sex or dating was when the gym teacher put on a film about hockey bros hooking up with girls in Alaska.
All that to say that if teachers in my high school could fall so far short of the 1998 guidelines, then probably there were other teachers already exceeding it and teaching about how some people are gay, gender is complicated, consent is a thing, and that sex can be fun. And very likely individual teachers still are able to do so if they feel that they can get away with it and have the supports they need.
One aspect of this that’s particularly interesting is the composition of the movement against the sex-ed reforms. Although the movement is heavily and explicitly Christian, there is large and visible participation by conservative Muslims. Their campaign against the sex-ed reform has been ongoing since 2010 – it’s worth asking how much this multicultural alliance of religious reactionaries has been a factor in the far-right’s failure to import the kind of anti-Muslim organizing that has occurred in Quebec.
The only people involved in the anti sex-ed campaign in my life are Muslims and both of them were already pulling their kids out of the sex-ed classes under the old curriculum, as were some religious Christians (who also gravitated towards religious private schools). What do they gain by restoring a curriculum they were already boycotting?
Perhaps this campaign, through its truly shocking levels of dishonesty, managed to present the sex-ed reforms as so radical that families who had not objected to the old curriculum now do. The biggest wedge issue here is homosexuality – the movement against the reform is unapologeticaly homophobic, and much of their discourse claims that the curriculum is teaching children to enjoy anal sex. Certainly public acceptance of non-hetero couples has increased a lot in the past 20 years, so perhaps this is something of a last stand for social conservatives on this issue.
Understanding the composition and goals of the conservative religious movement that coalesced around sex-ed is important, especially if the coalition manages to hold together and turn its sights on other issues – are we likely to start seeing protests outside of abortion clinics again, which were banned under a year ago by the Wynne government? How about the protests that attempted to disrupt Pride events across South-western Ontario? Are they a continuation of the hundreds of rallies against the sex-ed curriculum? Some of those big signs about sodomy look pretty familiar…
Handing a win to this coalition of religious assholes is probably the biggest aspect of the cancellation. Finding ways to target and disrupt the groups behind the campaign will be important if Ford really does go ahead with fresh consultations and the drafting of a new curriculum.
The Doug Ford era is just getting started. Rather than rushing into each issue with urgency, it’s a good time to go slow and take stock of where we stand. The kinds of organizing that shut down the province against Mike Harris twenty years ago are a distant memory, so if we’re going to get ourselves in a position to actually stop anything Ford wants to do, we’re going to have to put time into building networks and deepening our analysis. Finding direct action responses to the sex-ed cancellation that go beyond service provision and that are independent of partisan politics is a great starting point. Turning up the heat on the religious right is another. But the opening shots are fired and we’ve got four years to go.
The post Avalon, PA: Neo-Nazi Group Linked to Republican Party Attacks Black Man at Bar appeared first on It's Going Down.Report from Philly Antifa about a recent racist attack carried out by the Keystone State Skinheads/United, who includes a member which is active within the local Republican Party.
Coming a few weeks after holding a picnic in the area, Keystone United members were cited by police (but tellingly not arrested or charged) following an unprovoked attack on a regular patron of the Jackman Inn in Avalon PA on July 7th.
According to a local news report:
“An alleged neo-Nazi group is being accused of targeting an African American customer, assaulting him and using racial slurs against him at the Jackman Inn…
It happened when the victim, patron Paul Morris, walked into a backroom where a group of men were playing pool. The men allegedly used a racial epithet against the victim.
Police say the group of men may have been from Keystone United, which they describe as a racist neo-Nazi group formerly known as the Keystone State Skinheads…
when the bartender asked the group to leave, they attacked Morris…
‘Eight of them jumped Paul,’ (the bar manager) said. ‘He was hit in the face. He bent down to pick up his glasses. He was hit again’…
Morris is now California, but KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke with him on the phone. He says one member who called him the n-word said his group would eradicate blacks one-by-one, and then he attacked.
‘They attacked me because they had hate in their hearts. I didn’t do anything to these people,’ Morris said.
Avalon Police detained some members of the group, but did not charge them. Avalon Police Chief Thomas Kokoski said he believes they will be charged, but the incident is still under investigation….
The incident happened on July 7, and Morris’s lawyer, Fred Rabner, questions why no arrests have been made, saying they should be charged, not only with assault but with ethnic intimidation.
‘This is a hate crime, there’s no doubt about it,’ said Rabner. “
Fortunately, Morris received no serious injuries, nor did the bar employee, who was also attacked when they intervened.
It is unknown which KSS members were involved in the attack, but the event is not dissimilar from an attack on a black man by 3 KSS members in Scranton, PA back in 2003, one of whom was Luzerne County republican committeeman and co-founder of KSS Steve Smith.Steve Smith is a longtime Neo-Nazi. He is a former Klansman, co-founder of KSS and Luzerne county republican committeeman.
Smith was in attendance at the KSS picnic in the area at the end of May, but it is unknown if he was involved in the attack on the 7th.
We could go on forever about state/cop bias in favor of white supremacists (and white people in general), for example, participating in an Anti-Racist march where some windows got broken can get you arrested and looking at 70 years while attacking 2 people during a hate crime gets you cited with no charges. Or we could belabor that those who equate Antifa with Nazis, or claim we have “Anti-White Bias” would be hard pressed to find an incident where Antifa randomly attack a white man for his race when he comes into a bar to deliver a thank you note to one of the employees, but we won’t.
This was a horrific attack that could have ended in much more serious injury or even death, as attacks by KSS members have in the past. We are glad Mr. Morris and the bar employee escaped serious injury.
Keystone United/KSS have been a blight on PA for too long. If we can hope for any silver lining to this attack, it is that people in this state will start taking the threat they represent seriously again, and that the years of PR spin KSS has employed to try and convince people that their “old days” of randomly attacking People of Color, Queers and Anti-Racists were behind them in favor of “positive white activism” have been debunked.
Anyone with information about this attack, specifically which KSS members were involved, should contact us. We plan to identify those involved and release their names, which is more than the state could be counted on. No one should be able to commit a racist assault on Saturday and go back to anonymity on Sunday.
Time to shut these fucks down. More to come.
The post Beyond Occupation: Thoughts on the Current #OccupyICEPHL and Moving Forward to #EndPARS appeared first on It's Going Down.Friendly Fire Collective offers up some thoughts and critiques on the ongoing occupation in Philadelphia. This article was originally published on Philly Anti-Capitalist.
We are two weeks into #OccupyICEPHL. We have ceased occupying the ICE offices since July 5 and the current encampment at City Hall has lost a lot of its original momentum. The Left in Philly united on July 2nd for the original occupation, but it has been fractured by burnout and internal conflicts. A lot of us are wondering, how did we get here and how do we move forward?The Encampment at City Hall
After the camp was dismantled on July 5th by homeland security and Philly cops, a meeting took place in the evening. Hundreds gathered, sharing reflections and potential strategies for moving forward so that we could effectively pressure Mayor Kenney to not renew the Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS) contract, which allows ICE access to the PPD’s database.
Following the meeting, an autonomous group decided that one strategy in continuing the fight was to begin a camp at City Hall in order to be a confrontational presence for city officials, and to educate the public about both PARS and ICE. Within minutes, they set up at City Hall, bringing yoga mats, signs, umbrellas, chairs, and food.
Picking up on the momentum of the previous camp, many came around to provide support. The camp was quickly built up with a medic and food storage tent, as well as a table of leftist literature, including flyers on both #EndPARS and #AbolishICE. Participants were flyering; workshops and teach-ins happened throughout the day; food and water and other supplies were consistently being dropped off; chants were constant; and general assemblies were held twice a day (and they still are).
That being said, within the past week, the energy at the camp has been fizzling out. I was at the camp this morning and counted around 15 present.
Skepticism of the New Camp
A number of leftists in Philadelphia have expressed skepticism of the camp.
This is fair.
More than half of those present at most general assemblies are white, and a majority of the principal organizers are white. Whiteness is a destructive force for all, with material consequences for those that cannot access its privileges. For those who are white or can access whiteness, it hinders empathy and results in moral deterioration to those who reap benefits from whiteness. We need to see and combat the way whiteness operates among us, making it a priority to center the needs and the voices of POC. In my experience, this is a constant struggle in leftist spaces, and in this sense the encampment is not unique.
It seems that a major reason why people have either backed away or have chosen not to support this camp is because they see the occupation as ineffective and believe greater action is needed. What should be noted is that this camp began with this in mind. A diversity of tactics is sorely needed and this camp was never envisioned as THE tactic for all to take. This camp was started to agitate at City Hall as part of a larger project which would include the continuing work of the original #OccupyICEPHL coalition as well as autonomous actions.
There is also skepticism because of the camp’s independence from the original coalition. Those in the camp desire to work alongside the coalition but are intentionally not bound to the coalition, structured so that those on the ground and actively involved decide the direction of the camp.
Some skepticism feels neither political nor strategic, but personal.
Infighting among leftists has been present throughout the whole occupation, even prior to the new camp. The first night of the occupation included coalition organizers squabbling with a few anarchists of a more illegalist, insurrectionist tendency. This was aired out very publicly through a zine that was published online and passed out at the final assembly at the previous occupation.
Tensions between those of a more anarchist orientation and those of a more Marxist orientation were heightened.
Some smaller orgs, especially those with a more autonomous bent, have expressed that they felt unheard and even shut down by the larger coalition.
A skepticism of anarchist organizers continues, leading some to view the new encampment as an anarchist project. Though the organization of the new camp is more horizontal, it is not solely anarchist-organized. Such thinking dismisses those houseless folks who are actively flyering, chanting, and keeping the camp smoothly operating – that do not identify as anarchists – as well as the presence of Marxists.
Again, I think some of this skepticism is a projection of people’s personal issues with specific organizers.
The stress of the original occupation, where participants were constantly surrounded by cops and federal officers, exacerbated disagreements among organizers. I cannot blame individuals for withholding their support because of being made to feel unsafe by certain organizers, but it would be strategically unwise to fully dismiss this camp because of that.
In the past week hundreds have come together to publicly agitate at City Hall. This camp is not meant to last forever, but it would be wise to not let it sputter and die out on such a sour note in such a public space. The forces-that-be want our inactivity and burnout so that the PARS contract can be renewed without a fight.
This occupation ending in such a way will reflect badly on all of us, and even more importantly, could hinder and even sabotage the campaign to #EndPARS.
Last week, running off the energy of the first encampment, the camp became a base for activity.
Occupiers were constantly talking to those passing by, providing information on the PARS contract and getting folks to sign the petition put out by Juntos. Media and public attention on the camp highlighted the PARS contract. Mayor Kenney and other officials were flooded with phone calls.
This base is limited, as action-planning cannot occur in such a public space. That said, it has been a space for educating, connecting organizers and people of good conscience, and most importantly, a very public way of getting Kenney’s attention.
I don’t think as much energy needs to be put into this project as the first encampment, but I think it is worth actively supporting this camp in order to strengthen our message. If more people were out on the ground, more people could take shifts. The burden of this camp would not remain on the same 20-30 people, many of which have slept in their own beds only a handful of times since the original occupation.
But, again, we need to do more.
We need to continue calling city officials, handing out flyers, flooding social media with information on PARS; but we also need to begin agitating with more creativity. Perhaps also at other strategic locations – maybe not to the point of occupation, but at least picketing. We need to be creative in finding ways to get our message out to the public and to our so-called “leaders” as well as hinder ICE operations. We cannot afford to waste time on infighting. We cannot lose sight of the goal, and therefore we must not lose sight of our current moment. Upset over ICE continues, despite the media trying to move on. The time is ripe. We must act.
In Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital, John Restakis, a veteran of the Canadian co-op movement, argues for increasing the role of co-operatives and economic democracy, without suggesting that they are a panacea.
Restakis’ argument is firmly grounded in a critique of corporate capitalism; the 2007-2008 financial crisis still loomed very large when the book was published. But Restakis is also highly critical of the disastrous and dehumanizing effects of authoritarian systems with centralized, planned economies.
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