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Announcing Operation P.O.W.: NC Prisoner Calls for Truce and Solidarity with the National August 21st Strike

It's Goin Down - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 17:52

The post Announcing Operation P.O.W.: NC Prisoner Calls for Truce and Solidarity with the National August 21st Strike appeared first on It's Going Down.

Earlier this year, prisoners in South Carolina announced their call for a national prison strike to begin on August 21st, the anniversary of the death of revolutionary prisoner George Jackson. Since then, prisoners in Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and now North Carolina have responded with their support for the call. The following is a proposal from an NC prisoner to establish a truce and join the mass demonstration. He has asked to not be anonymous, and for outside supporters to spread this call in mainstream media as well as inside publications.

This is a call to all of those confined within Department of Public Safety to make a stand by resisting against the cycle of oppression and repression, starting August 21st, 2018. Refuse all physical labor such as janitorial duty, barber duty, cloths-house duty, and kitchen duty, until our demands are met.

I’m calling on all my real right Ola’s, all loyal Loc’s, all Moorish misnamers, all G’s with the blackest hearts, both Muslims and neutral prisoners who desire a change to unify and form a statewide formation to abolish these harsh living conditions by demanding the following:

  1. All mental health prisoners who have been on “lock up” for longer than 30 days be released immediately.
  2. Annihilate all forms of long-term solitary confinement for the whole prison commune here in NC.
  3. Abolish the mandatory minimum 85% Act for the whole prison commune of NC. No human shall be sentenced to death by incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  4. Reestablish the opportunity of parole for the whole NC prison commune.
  5. Rectify the structure of the SRG policy and the requirements to profile one as SRG. Some of these restrictions are very inhumane. For example, once one is profiled as SRG, he or she cannot receive visits from anyone but his or her immediate family. This excludes the mother or father of one’s children! Most of us profiled as SRG are being deprived of visiting our children. Being profiled also restricts from obtaining a job and classes that could put us on gain time.
  6. Annihilate the $10 fee for infractions… Every write-up one receives, $10 is deducted from our personal account and given to the state. Yearly this is over a million-dollar revenue for the state.
  7. Restore educational and rehabilitation programs such as college courses, vocational schooling, etc. so that we have something to help us obtain a job once released, so we won’t fall back into the cycle of the system.
  8. Being that NC prisons already have contracts with both J. Pay and Union Supply, offer all the options they have, such as J. Pay’s email system, electronic visitation, as well as MP3 players and downloadable music.

Comrades it is “big facts” that throughout history any unified demonstration has ended with accomplishments. The mass hunger strikes in 2010 in California, the uprising last year at Vaughn facility in Delaware…Even the Lucasville 5 have improved prison conditions for all Ohio prisoners held on Supermax with their acts of solidarity. Five men alone! We act as if North Carolina hasn’t birthed any solid revolutionaries. Let’s not forget the comrade Robert F. Williams—this was one man who took on the KKK!

The average cook or waitress is paid around $9.50 an hour for the same duties done by us in these prison kitchens for 45 cents a day. That’s not even 2% of the minimum wage. What the fuck?! Maintenance crews and plumbers are paid anywhere from $14-20 an hour. But you work in feces-infested waters all day for one dollar a day. Comrades you’re slaving all day for one soup and a honeybun! You’re slaving all day to finance your own incarceration as well as others’.

I’m aware that some of you are dependent on the 45 cents to a dollar a day due to the lack of family support. This is where the solidarity of the prison commune is effective. We that are financially stable should provide a community kitty for those who don’t have family support on the outside. This shouldn’t just fall on one or two of us but should be a responsibility of all of us that are financially stable.

It is the duty of us conscious comrades and generals of these lumpen organizations (gangs) to lead the way and enlighten the comrades of their rights. If one isn’t conscious of the rights they’re being deprived of then there is a minimal desire to resist. The Willie Lynch Syndrome is deeply ingrained in the majority of NC prisoners. The cure to this syndrome of envy, distrust, and fear the whole time has been solidarity and revolutionary consciousness.

There must be masses at every one of these razorwire plantations in NC willing to lay down and resist, starting August 21, 2018, until the above demands are met—not met with promises, but with action. Those of you in leadership positions must lay down the law and demand that all subordinates adhere to this call for resistance. If some of you are not in positions to resist through refusing to offer your labor, then find any way to resist that will affect the daily cycle of confinement and cost the facility money. Hunger strikes, refusing to come out for rec, etc. Governor Roy Cooper will realize that his prized surplus budget that he boasts about will be drained within a month, due to having to pay outside companies to do all the jobs that we do for free!

The majority of you generals know me and I know you. We both are conscious and know what needs to be done, so let’s do it. We are the cause of our own stagnation. Once the prison commune witnesses the hierarchy compromising, then there’ll be no limit to what we can accomplish. We are limited to what we limit ourselves to. Impossible is nothing, nothing is impossible.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win

Until Every Cage is Empty,

Joesph “Shine White” Stewart

Lanesboro CI

Categories: News

Secret plot to 'Evict Julian Assange from Ecuadorian embassy' after 6 years inside

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 17:07

Secret plot to 'Evict Julian Assange from Ecuadorian embassy' after 6 years inside | 15 July 2018 | The UK and Ecuadorian authorities are secretly planning on evicting Julian Assange from his embassy safe house after six years inside, it has been reported. The Wikileaks founder has been living in the South American country's embassy building since 2012 after seeking asylum there over fears he would be extradited to the US on espionage charges. He originally went into hiding after an arrest warrant was issued so he could be sent to Sweden over sexual assault and rape allegations. But he has reportedly overstayed his welcome [?!?] since former Ecuadorian president, Rafael Corra, granted him political asylum. Sources have said the UK and Ecuadorian Governments are keen to strike a deal to get him out.

Categories: News

Cold War ended, difficulties in Russia-US relations don't have any objective reasons - Putin

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 16:09

Cold War ended, difficulties in Russia-US relations don't have any objective reasons - Putin | 16 July 2018 | There are no objective reasons for Moscow and Washington not to get along, said Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking first after more than three hours talks with US President Donald Trump. The talks reflected "shared wish" of the two presidents to fix the US-Russia relations and envision the first steps to do so, Putin added... Trump again asked his Russian counterpart on the alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential elections, Putin revealed, stating that he replied exactly the same, as the last time. Russia has not meddled into the internal affairs of the US, he stated, adding that if any real evidence is provided, Moscow will cooperate on it.

Categories: News

Is Trump-Putin Summit a Danger or Crucial Diplomacy Between Nuclear Powers?

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 16:09

As President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, we host a debate on US-Russia relations. In Washington, DC, we speak with Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Greenwald calls the Trump-Putin meeting “excellent” and adds that President Obama also sought diplomacy with Russia. Cirincione calls the summit “a danger to America and to the West.”

Please check back later for full transcript.

The post Is Trump-Putin Summit a Danger or Crucial Diplomacy Between Nuclear Powers? appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

We Are Nurses and We Won’t Back Down

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 16:09

On Friday night, I marched with hundreds of nurses, their families and supportive community members from our picket line outside the University of Vermont (UVM) Medical Center to downtown Burlington. After two days of being on strike against the second-largest employer in the state, we filled the streets of its largest city, wearing our red T-shirts and carrying signs declaring the importance of safe staffing and fair wages.

I’ve been a socialist and an activist for my whole adult life. I’ve marched in more protests than I can count (200? 300? who knows?). In the 15 years I lived in New York City, I marched with tens of thousands of union members through various campaigns. I was a member of the Communications Workers of America union, and participated in a victorious two-week strike against Verizon.

But the last two days, and last night’s protest in particular, were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and it happened here in little old Burlington, Vermont: population 42,000. I’m still trying to figure out why.

***

Maybe it was the sheer breadth of participation in the strike. Despite sincere and deep concerns about leaving our patients in the care of scab nurses, entire units joined each other on the picket lines. The hospital itself admitted that only 93 of the 1,800 LPNs, RNs and APRNs in our union crossed the picket line.

I knew that the majority of nurses at UVMMC were angry about our working conditions. It was another thing to see that anger translated into a willingness to fight.

We organized 10 picket lines around town. Night-shift nurses maintained an overnight presence at the main hospital picket line. People made fantastically creative signs, taught themselves to lead chants and had special red T-shirts made to reflect the issues on their units. Some spirited souls even wore red tutus and ball gowns to the march.

Maybe, too, it was the community support. Hundreds of drivers passed us on the picket lines, laying on their horns, giving us the thumbs-up, pumping their fists in the air and flashing us electrified grins.

One UPS driver got out of his truck in order to run up and down our lines, high-fiving every single nurse he passed. Like other UPS drivers, he refused to cross our picket lines throughout the strike.

People brought nourishing, lovingly prepared food to our picket lines: roasted zucchini in herb sauce; homemade pesto; artisanal whole-grain bread; popsicles and ice water. Ben and Jerry’s drove a truck up, and served out ice cream by the cupful.

Teachers, university professors, grocery workers, EMTs, home care workers and so many family members of nurses walked the lines with us. A patient wearing his hospital gown — IV pole in tow — joined us in his wheelchair on the picket line. I’m crying as I write this.

Bus drivers shouted out solidarity to us over their PA systems as they drove by. A musician from Massachusetts played labor songs for hours, with lyrics refashioned to suit nursing issues.

Nurses from New York state and Massachusetts drove for hours to join us, even bringing along an inflatable, cigar-chomping “fat cat” that they positioned at a hospital entrance.

Local politicians joined us to give greetings. Sen. Bernie Sanders called in from DC to address us. Ordinary working-class heroes from across the country got their co-workers or socialist pals together to take pictures demonstrating solidarity with us. My favorite came from a comrade in India who took a picture together with her ill father, their fists raised in solidarity.

Maybe it was the timing. In Trump’s America, unions are supposed to be breathing their last gasps. After years of decline in the private sector, workers in the public sector are now facing the threat of extinction after the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 Supreme Court decision.

But we’ve shown that workers can actually fight back against a twisted system, where corporate executives are rewarded with six-figure bonuses while we work longer hours, at a faster pace and for stagnant wages.

***

But it’s more than all these factors. It’s something else: defiance, determination and confidence among people who are sick of being ground down.

Last night, someone played Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” over a megaphone while we were marching. I thought to myself that we ought to try chanting that, so I started it up: “We won’t back down, we won’t back down…”

Suddenly, the fists of everyone around me went up, and that gorgeous Vermont air was filled with a loud, unified message that we will not back down in the face of greed and indifference from our hospital administrators.

My fellow nurses and community members have been transformed by this struggle.

I think that’s what feels different. We went from feeling defensive to feeling confident. From worrying that the community would call us greedy or insensitive to knowing that the community has our backs. From thinking a union was something external — a service group, perhaps — to knowing that we are the union. Our strength comes from our numbers and our solidarity.

It’s not over, and lots of questions remain about what happens next. We may need to strike again, perhaps for more than two days. There is certainly support for this among our co-workers. While we were picketing together, dozens of nurses told bargaining committee members that they want us to announce when the next strike will occur.

But it was clear by the end of last night’s march that we’re in this to win it: for our patients, our coworkers, our community and for working people everywhere. And we won’t back down.

The post We Are Nurses and We Won’t Back Down appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Mass Protests Meet Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 16:07

Mass protests greeted President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as they met for a summit Monday in Helsinki. As the two leaders drove from the airport to their summit, they were met by 300 billboards in English and Russian that were posted by the country’s leading newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, and drew attention to their strained relations with the media. Greenpeace activists unfolded two large banners from the bell tower of Kallio Church in Helsinki that called on the presidents to “Warm Our Hearts, Not Our Planet.” Meanwhile in Helsinki on Sunday, thousands took to the streets to demand human rights, equality and a focus on the climate. We speak with Heidi Hautala, a Finnish politician and member of the European Parliament from Finland, who addressed the protests on Sunday. She is also a member of the Green League, part of the European Green Party.

Please check back later for full transcript.

The post Mass Protests Meet Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Putin, Trump hold first ever one-on-one summit in Helsinki

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 15:53

Putin, Trump hold first ever one-on-one summit in Helsinki | 16 July 2018 | The heads of Russia and the US are holding talks today in the Finnish capital of Helsinki to discuss a wide range of issues in an attempt to mend bilateral relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump have arrived at the presidential palace in Helsinki to hold their first ever full-fledged summit talks... Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said that the Syrian issue would be one of the central topics: Russia's alleged meddling in the US election and energy cooperation are among other issues experts have mentioned. The top diplomats from the two countries Sergei Lavrov and Mike Pompeo have held separate talks.

Categories: News

National Insecurity in the United States of Inequality

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 15:53

So effectively has the Beltway establishment captured the concept of national security that, for most of us, it automatically conjures up images of terrorist groups, cyber warriors, or “rogue states.”  To ward off such foes, the United States maintains a historically unprecedented constellation of military bases abroad and, since 9/11, has waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere that have gobbled up nearly $4.8 trillion.  The 2018 Pentagon budget already totals $647 billion — four times what China, second in global military spending, shells out and more than the next 12 countries combined, seven of them American allies.   For good measure, Donald Trump has added an additional $200 billion to projected defense expenditures through 2019. 

Yet to hear the hawks tell it, the United States has never been less secure.  So much for bang for the buck.  

For millions of Americans, however, the greatest threat to their day-to-day security isn’t terrorism or North Korea, Iran, Russia, or China.  It’s internal — and economic.  That’s particularly true for the 12.7% of Americans (43.1 million of them) classified as poor by the government’s criteria: an income below $12,140 for a one-person household, $16,460 for a family of two, and so on… until you get to the princely sum of $42,380 for a family of eight.

Savings aren’t much help either: a third of Americans have no savings at all and another third have less than $1,000 in the bank.  Little wonder that families struggling to cover the cost of food alone increased from 11% (36 million) in 2007 to 14% (48 million) in 2014.

The Working Poor

Unemployment can certainly contribute to being poor, but millions of Americans endure poverty when they have full-time jobs or even hold down more than one job.  The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are 8.6 million “working poor,” defined by the government as people who live below the poverty line despite being employed at least 27 weeks a year.  Their economic insecurity doesn’t register in our society, partly because working and being poor don’t seem to go together in the minds of many Americans — and unemployment has fallen reasonably steadily.  After approaching 10% in 2009, it’s now at only 4%

Help from the government?  Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare “reform” programconcocted in partnership with congressional Republicans, imposed time limits on government assistance, while tightening eligibility criteria for it. So, as Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer show in their disturbing book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, many who desperately need help don’t even bother to apply.  And things will only get worse in the age of Trump.  His 2019 budget includes deep cuts in a raft of anti-poverty programs.  

Anyone seeking a visceral sense of the hardships such Americans endure should read Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.  It’s a gripping account of what she learned when, posing as a “homemaker” with no special skills, she worked for two years in various low-wage jobs, relying solely on her earnings to support herself.  The book brims with stories about people who had jobs but, out of necessity, slept in rent-by-the-week fleabag motels, flophouses, or even in their cars, subsisting on vending machine snacks for lunch, hot dogs and instant noodles for dinner, and forgoing basic dental care or health checkups.  Those who managed to get permanent housing would choose poor, low-rent neighborhoods close to work because they often couldn’t afford a car.  To maintain even such a barebones lifestyle, many worked more than one job.

Though politicians prattle on about how times have changed for the better, Ehrenreich’s book still provides a remarkably accurate picture of America’s working poor.  Over the past decade the proportion of people who exhausted their monthly paychecks just to pay for life’s essentials actually increased from 31% to 38%.  In 2013, 71% of the families that had children and used food pantries run by Feeding America, the largest private organization helping the hungry, included at least one person who had worked during the previous year.  And in America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.  In New York City, no outlier when it comes to homelessness among the working poor, in a third of the families with children that use homeless shelters at least one adult held a job.

The Wages of Poverty

The working poor cluster in certain occupations.  They are salespeople in retail stores, servers or preparers of fast food, custodial staff, hotel workers, and caregivers for children or the elderly.  Many make less than $10 an hour and lack any leverage, union or otherwise, to press for raises.  In fact, the percentage of unionized workers in such jobs remains in the single digits — and in retail and food preparation, it’s under 4.5%.  That’s hardly surprising, given that private sector union membership has fallen by 50% since 1983 to only 6.7% of the workforce. 

Low-wage employers like it that way and — Walmart being the poster child for this — work diligently to make it ever harder for employees to join unions.  As a result, they rarely find themselves under any real pressure to increase wages, which, adjusted for inflation, have stood still or even decreased since the late 1970s. When employment is “at-will,” workers may be fired or the terms of their work amended on the whim of a company and without the slightest explanation. Walmart announced this year that it would hike its hourly wage to $11 and that’s welcome news.  But this had nothing to do with collective bargaining; it was a response to the drop in the unemployment rate, cash flows from the Trump tax cut for corporations (which saved Walmart as much as $2 billion), an increase in minimum wages in a number of states, and pay increases by an arch competitor, Target.  It was also accompanied by the shutdown of 63 of Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores, which meant layoffs for 10,000 workers.  In short, the balance of power almost always favors the employer, seldom the employee.

As a result, though the United States has a per-capita income of $59,500 and is among the wealthiest countries in the world, 12.7% of Americans (that’s 43.1 million people), officially are impoverished. And that’s generally considered a significant undercount.  The Census Bureau establishes the poverty rate by figuring out an annual no-frills family food budget, multiplying it by three, adjusting it for household size, and pegging it to the Consumer Price Index.  That, many economists believe, is a woefully inadequate way of estimating poverty.  Food prices haven’t risen dramatically over the past 20 years, but the cost of other necessities like medical care (especially if you lack insurance) and housing have: 10.5% and 11.8% respectively between 2013 and 2017 compared to an only 5.5% increase for food.   

Include housing and medical expenses in the equation and you get the Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM), published by the Census Bureau since 2011.  It reveals that a larger number of Americans are poor: 14% or 45 million in 2016.  

Dismal Data

For a fuller picture of American (in)security, however, it’s necessary to delve deeper into the relevant data, starting with hourly wages, which are the way more than 58% of adult workers are paid.  The good news: only 1.8 million, or 2.3% of them, subsist at or below minimum wage.  The not-so-good news: one-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15.  That’s $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.   

The problem facing the working poor isn’t just low wages, but the widening gap between wages and rising prices.  The government has increased the hourly federal minimum wage more than 20 times since it was set at 25 cents under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.  Between 2007 and 2009 it rose to $7.25, but over the past decade that sum lost nearly 10% of its purchasing power to inflation, which means that, in 2018, someone would have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage.

Workers in the lowest 20% have lost the most ground, their inflation-adjusted wages falling by nearly 1% between 1979 and 2016, compared to a 24.7% increase for the top 20%.  This can’t be explained by lackluster productivity since, between 1985 and 2015, it outstripped pay raises, often substantially, in every economic sector except mining.

Yes, states can mandate higher minimum wages and 29 have, but 21 have not, leaving many low-wage workers struggling to cover the costs of two essentials in particular: health care and housing.

Even when it comes to jobs that offer health insurance, employers have been shifting ever more of its cost onto their workers through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as by requiring them to cover more of the premiums.  The percentage of workers who paid at least 10% of their earnings to cover such costs — not counting premiums — doubledbetween 2003 and 2014.

This helps explain why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 11% of workers in the bottom 10% of wage earners even enrolled in workplace healthcare plans in 2016 (compared to 72% in the top 10%). As a restaurant server who makes $2.13 an hour before tips — and whose husband earns $9 an hour at Walmart — put it, after paying the rent, “it’s either put food in the house or buy insurance.” 

The Affordable Care Act, or ACA (aka Obamacare), provided subsidies to help people with low incomes cover the cost of insurance premiums, but workers with employer-supplied healthcare, no matter how low their wages, weren’t covered by it.  Now, of course, President Trump, congressional Republicans, and a Supreme Court in which right-wing justices are going to be even more influential will be intent on poleaxing the ACA.

It’s housing, though, that takes the biggest bite out of the paychecks of low-wage workers.  The majority of them are renters.  Ownership remains for many a pipe dream.  According to a Harvard study, between 2001 and 2016, renters who made $30,000-$50,000 a year and paid more than a third of their earnings to landlords (the threshold for qualifying as “rent burdened”) increased from 37% to 50%.  For those making only $15,000, that figure rose to 83%.  

In other words, in an ever more unequal America, the number of low-income workers struggling to pay their rent has surged.  As the Harvard analysis shows, this is, in part, because the number of affluent renters (with incomes of $100,000 or more) has leapt and, in city after city, they’re driving the demand for, and building of, new rental units.  As a result, the high-end share of new rental construction soared from a third to nearly two-thirds of all units between 2001 and 2016.  Not surprisingly, new low-income rental units dropped from two-fifths to one-fifth of the total and, as the pressure on renters rose, so did rents for even those modest dwellings. On top of that, in places like New York City, where demand from the wealthy shapes the housing market, landlords have found ways — some within the law, others not — to get rid of low-income tenants.

Public housing and housing vouchers are supposed to make housing affordable to low-income households, but the supply of public housing hasn’t remotely matched demand. Consequently, waiting lists are long and people in need languish for years before getting a shot — if they ever do.  Only a quarter of those who qualify for such assistance receive it.  As for those vouchers, getting them is hard to begin with because of the massive mismatchbetween available funding for the program and the demand for the help it provides.  And then come the other challenges: finding landlords willing to accept vouchers or rentals that are reasonably close to work and not in neighborhoods euphemistically labelled “distressed.”  

The bottom line: more than 75% of “at-risk” renters (those for whom the cost of rent exceeds 30% or more of their earnings) do not receive assistance from the government.  The real “risk” for them is becoming homeless, which means relying on shelters or family and friends willing to take them in.

President Trump’s proposed budget cuts will make life even harder for low-income workers seeking affordable housing.  His 2019 budget proposal slashes $6.8 billion (14.2%) from the resources of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) by, among other things, scrapping housing vouchers and assistance to low-income families struggling to pay heating bills.  The president also seeks to slash funds for the upkeep of public housing by nearly 50%.  In addition, the deficits that his rich-come-first tax “reform” bill is virtually guaranteed to produce will undoubtedly set the stage for yet more cuts in the future.  In other words, in what’s becoming the United States of Inequality, the very phrases “low-income workers” and “affordable housing” have ceased to go together. 

None of this seems to have troubled HUD Secretary Ben Carson who happily ordered a $31,000 dining room set for his office suite at the taxpayers’ expense, even as he visited new public housing units to make sure that they weren’t too comfortable (lest the poor settle in for long stays).  Carson has declared that it’s time to stop believing the problems of this society can be fixed merely by having the government throw extra money at them — unless, apparently, the dining room accoutrements of superbureaucrats aren’t up to snuff.

Money Talks

The levels of poverty and economic inequality that prevail in America are not intrinsic to either capitalism or globalization. Most other wealthy market economies in the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have done far better than the United States in reducing them without sacrificing innovation or creating government-run economies. 

Take the poverty gap, which the OECD defines as the difference between a country’s official poverty line and the average income of those who fall below it.  The United States has the second largest poverty gap among wealthy countries; only Italy does worse.

Child poverty?  In the World Economic Forum’s ranking of 41 countries — from best to worst — the US placed 35th.  Child poverty has declined in the United States since 2010, but a Columbia University report estimates that 19% of American kids (13.7 million) nevertheless lived in families with incomes below the official poverty line in 2016.  If you add in the number of kids in low-income households, that number increases to 41%.  

As for infant mortality, according to the government’s own Centers for Disease Control, the US, with 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, has the absolute worst record among wealthy countries. (Finland and Japan do best with 2.3.)

And when it comes to the distribution of wealth, among the OECD countries only Turkey, Chile, and Mexico do worse than the US.

It’s time to rethink the American national security state with its annual trillion-dollar budget.  For tens of millions of Americans, the source of deep workaday insecurity isn’t the standard roster of foreign enemies, but an ever-more entrenched system of inequality, still growing, that stacks the political deck against the least well-off Americans.  They lack the bucks to hire big-time lobbyists.  They can’t write lavish checks to candidates running for public office or fund PACs.  They have no way of manipulating the myriad influence-generating networks that the elite uses to shape taxation and spending policies.  They are up against a system in which money truly does talk — and that’s the voice they don’t have.  Welcome to the United States of Inequality.

The post National Insecurity in the United States of Inequality appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Why Are Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin Holding This Summit?

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 15:36

By the time you are reading this, the much anticipated (dreaded?) summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will have begun. In an interview with CBS News anchor Jeff Glor on Sunday, Trump was asked about his goal for the meeting. He replied, “I’ll let you know after the meeting,” which certainly offers him plenty of room to declare it a success. Trump did say that “nothing bad” would happen, so we can all rest easy on that count.

The indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officers on criminal hacking charges, handed down on Friday, put this entire spectacle in a different light than it was in when Trump set off for the NATO meeting in Brussels last week.  According to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump was aware of the coming indictments, which means that trash-talking the investigation as a “witch hunt” during his trip — and attacking first the NATO alliance and then British Prime Minister Theresa May — were all done knowing that the noose was tightening. What seemed to be an aggressive play for dominance now looks like someone acting out under tremendous stress and anxiety.

Trump’s reckless interview with Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid the Sun, in which he insulted May for no good reason, bears out that impression. The reporter claimed that he rudely shooed away his aides who were trying to protect him from himself as he rambled on with a self-destructive rant that sounded as if he were trying to convince himself that he was in control.

In their joint press conference the next day Trump apologized to May, which was certainly unusual. Naturally he also lied and said that the newspaper hadn’t quoted him in full, claiming that he had a recording and could prove it, all they had to do was ask the press secretary. Of course the paper had already released the audio of the interview. Requests for the White House’s version have gone unanswered.

He was agitated and belligerent, and seemed confused at times. He picked fights with the press, and acted churlish about having to address the issue of Russian election interference yet again. He said he would ask Putin about it but he didn’t expect Putin to confess. There would be no “Perry Mason moment,” so there was nothing he could do.

But the president knew that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office was about to hand down an indictment that told the story in great detail. He knew that the scandal was about to shift into a higher gear.

His performance was extremely odd, even by his standards:

Trump’s last 2 attempts to discuss foreign policy have been complete and utter disasters https://t.co/LCqwmX1xq7 pic.twitter.com/Sq896OUdNn

— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) July 15, 2018

Pressed again on what he’d like Putin to do in Syria, Trump starts bashing Obama, and eventually gets around to praising himself.

The president is simply incapable of discussing foreign policy at any level of depth. pic.twitter.com/A8g4MFbqHI

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 13, 2018

Trump sounds tired, is struggling to read pic.twitter.com/zA3a4a9MHf

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 13, 2018

After the press conference mercilessly came to an end, the president and first lady met Queen Elizabeth. It could not have been more awkward. On one side of the TV screen, Rod Rosenstein was handing down indictments that detailed foreign intervention on behalf of Donald Trump in 2016. On the other side, Trump was acting clueless about how to behave around a 92-year-old woman, much less one accustomed to formal protocol. The whole world held its breath as he zigged and zagged in front of the queen, terrified that he might somehow knock her to the ground. It wasn’t the worst moment of the British leg of his trip, but it was certainly the weirdest.

Trump was obviously relieved to get out of there and head to his usual weekend gig doing personal appearances at his commercial properties. The Turnberry golf course in Scotland was an interesting choice. It has garnered a lot of press attention because nobody can figure out where Trump got the massive amount of cash he paid for what has become an ever-growing money pit.

He played golf and tweeted. He blamed the Obama administration for the Russian hacking. In his interview with CBS, he said:

I heard that they were trying, or people were trying, to hack into the RNC too. The Republican National Committee. But we had much better defenses. I’ve been told that by a number of people. We had much better defenses, so they couldn’t. I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses and they were able to be hacked. But I heard they were trying to hack the Republicans too. But — and this may be wrong — but they had much stronger defenses.

The US intelligence community, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the indictments handed down last Friday all make clear that the Russian agents were helping Trump. It’s unlikely they would have felt the need to try too hard to break into the RNC for that purpose.

As for what’s going to happen now, nobody has a clue, not even John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser. He seems a little dazed and confused, which is not something we’ve seen before.

National security adviser John Bolton on whether he thinks Pres. Trump should trust Russian Pres. Putin:

“I’m the national security adviser, I’m not the national security decision-maker…He’s going to make the decision how to handle this” https://t.co/0ZJlbNSM7i #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/r6kYhEcAQF

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 16, 2018

National security adviser John Bolton tells @jonkarl he finds it “hard to believe” that Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin was unaware of Russian interference in 2016 presidential election https://t.co/lcky4rNR2f #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/Fw2Tp96ePP

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 16, 2018

ABC: Following Mueller’s indictment, do you have any doubt that Putin knew about the election meddling that was going on in 2016?@AmbJohnBolton: Well, when we met, Putin told me he didn’t, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/CaQKumw08j

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 15, 2018

The single biggest unanswered question of this whole strange odyssey is this: Why are they having this summit? Trump’s meeting with Putin alone is obviously suspicious. Considering all the evidence of some sort of collusion that is already in the public domain, it seems reasonable to speculate that the president has nefarious motives. He is certainly behaving like someone with something to hide.

But he is also desperately whirling from one spectacle to another — summits, reality-show Supreme Court nominations, meetings with world leaders, rallies for the faithful. Whatever Trump did or didn’t do with Russians to get elected, it’s obvious that he has no idea how to do the job of president. He’s just putting on a show. This is how he’s gotten through his whole life, bluffing his way through, teetering on the edge of disaster, always on the brink of having everything blow up in his face. He’s dancing as fast as he can, but you can see that he’s starting to flag.

So the question isn’t what Donald Trump wants out of this summit. He will tell us afterwards that it is a great success, because as long as he’s on TV meeting with Vladimir Putin, it’s yuge. The question is what Putin wants out of this summit. He’s giving Trump his extravaganza, and he will certainly expect something in return.

The post Why Are Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin Holding This Summit? appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Secret Documents Expose Monsanto’s War on Cancer Scientists

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 15:23

DeWayne Johnson, a 46-year-old father dying of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, became the first person to face Monsanto in trial last week over allegations the company hid evidence about the cancer-causing dangers of its Roundup weedkiller. Johnson is the first of some 4,000 people suing Monsanto in state and federal courts claiming their cancers were caused by glyphosate-based Roundup. The litigation, and documents coming to light because of it, are shining light on the heavy-handed tactics Monsanto (now a subsidiary of Bayer) has used to deny cancer risk and protect the chemical that is the lynchpin of its profits.

“Monsanto was its own ghostwriter for some safety reviews,” Bloomberg reported, and an EPA official reportedly helped Monsanto “kill” another agency’s cancer study. An investigation in Le Monde details Monsanto’s effort “to destroy the United Nations’ cancer agency by any means possible” to save glyphosate.

Two recent journal articles, based on reviews of the Roundup trial discovery documents, report corporate interference in a scientific publication and a federal regulatory agency, and other examples of “poisoning the scientific well.”

“Monsanto’s ghostwriting and strong-arming threaten sound science and society,” wrote Tufts University Professor Sheldon Krimsky in a June essay. The discovery documents, he said, “uncover the corporate capture of science, which puts public health and the very foundation of democracy at risk.”

This corporate war on science has major implications for all of us, considering that half of all men in the U.S. and a third of women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The Documents the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to See

For years, the food and chemical industries have set their sights on one particular target in the science world: the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the independent research group that for 50 years has worked to identify cancer hazards to inform policies that can prevent cancer.

“I’ve been fighting IARC forever!!! :)” one former Kraft Foods scientist wrote to a former Syngenta scientist in an email obtained through a state open records request. “Foods and ag are under siege since Glyphosate in March 2015. We all need to gather somehow and expose IARC, as you guys did in the paper. Next priorities are all food ingredients: aspartame, sucralose, dietary iron, B-carotene, BPA, etc. IARC is killing us!”

The IARC expert panel decision to classify glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” created a rallying point for the panel’s foes to gather forces. A key Monsanto document released via litigation reveals the plan of attack: discredit the cancer scientists with the help of allies across the food industry.

Monsanto’s public relations plan assigned 20 corporate staffers to prepare for the IARC carcinogenicity report on glyphosate, with objectives including “neutralize impact,” “establish public perspective on IARC,” “regulator outreach,” “ensure MON POV” and “engage industry associations” in “outrage.”

The document identified four tiers of “industry partners” to help advance the three objectives named in the PR plan: protect the reputation of Roundup, prevent “unfounded” cancer claims from becoming popular opinion, and “provide cover for regulatory agencies” to keep allowing the use of glyphosate.

Uncovering Monsanto’s Network of “Industry Partners”

The industry partner groups Monsanto tapped to discredit the IARC scientists included the largest pesticide and food industry lobby organizations, CropLife International, BIO and the Grocery Manufacturers Association; industry-funded spin groups such as GMO Answers and the International Food Information Council; and “science-y” sounding front groups like Sense about Science, the Genetic Literacy Project and Academics Review – all using similar messaging and often referring back to each other as sources.

Documents obtained by the U.S. Right to Know investigation illuminate on how these partner groups work together to promote the “MON POV” about the safety and necessity of pesticides and GMOs.

One set of documents revealed how Monsanto’s PR operatives organized “Academics Review” as a neutral-sounding platform from which they could launch attacks against a target list of foes, including the Sierra Club, author Michael Pollan, the movie Food, Inc. and the organic industry.

The architects of Academics Review – co-founders Bruce Chassy and David Tribe, Monsanto executive Eric Sachs, former Monsanto communications director Jay Byrne, and former VP of the biotech industry trade group Val Giddings – talked openly in the emails about setting up Academics Review as a front group to promote industry interests and attract industry cash, while keeping corporate fingerprints hidden.

Even now with their playbook exposed – and their primary funding identified as coming from a trade group funded by Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Syngenta and DowDuPont – Academics Review still claims on its website to accept donations only from “non-corporate sources.” Academics Review also claims that the “IARC glyphosate cancer review fails on multiple fronts,” in a post sourced by the industry-funded PR website GMO Answers, the industry-funded front group American Council on Science and Health, and a Forbes article by Henry Miller that was ghostwritten by Monsanto.

Miller and the Academics Review organizers Chassy, Tribe, Byrne, Sachs and Giddings are all also members of AgBioChatter, a private listserver that appeared in Monsanto’s PR plan as a tier 2 industry partner. Emails from the AgBioChatter list suggest it was used as a forum to coordinate industry allies on messaging and lobbying activities to promote GMOs and pesticides. Members included senior agrichemical industry staff, PR consultants and pro-industry academics, many of whom write for industry media platforms such as GMO Answers and Genetic Literacy Project, or play leadership roles in other Monsanto partner groups.

Genetic Literacy Project, led by longtime chemical industry PR operative Jon Entine, also partnered with Academics Review to run a series of conferences funded by the agrichemical industry to train journalists and scientists how to better promote GMOs and pesticides and argue for their deregulation. The organizers were, again, dishonest about the sources of their funding.

These groups cast themselves as honest arbiters of science even as they spread false information and level near hysterical attacks against scientists who raised concerns about the cancer risk of glyphosate.

A search for “IARC” on the Genetic Literacy Project website brings up more than 220 articles with industry messaging, maligning the cancer scientists as “anti-chemical enviros” who “lied” and “conspired to misrepresent” the health risks of glyphosate, and arguing that the global cancer agency should be defunded and abolished.

Many of the anti-IARC articles posted on that site, or pushed by other industry surrogates, ignore the many news reports based on the Monsanto Papers documenting corporate interference in the scientific research, and focus instead on the misleading reporting of Kate Kelland, a Reuters’ reporter who has close ties to the Science Media Centre, the sister organization of Sense About Science, a group Monsanto suggested in its PR plan to “lead industry response” in the media.

The battle against IARC, based on these attacks, has now reached Capitol Hill, with Congressional Republicans led by Rep. Lamar Smith investigating and trying to withhold U.S. funding from the world’s leading cancer research agency.

Who Is on the Side of Science?

Monsanto’s lobbying and messaging to discredit the IARC cancer panel is based on the argument that other agencies using risk-based assessments have exonerated glyphosate of cancer risk. But as many news outlets have reported, along with the two recent journal articles based on the Monsanto Papers, evidence is piling up that the regulatory risk assessments on glyphosate, which rely heavily on industry-provided research,  have been compromised by undisclosed conflicts of interestreliance on dubious scienceghostwritten materials and other methods of corporate strong-arming that puts public health at risk, as the Tufts Professor Sheldon Krimsky wrote.

“To protect the scientific enterprise, one of the core pillars of a modern democratic society, against the forces that would turn it into the handmaiden of industry or politics, our society must support firewalls between academic science and the corporate sectors and educate young scientists and journal editors on the moral principles behind their respective professional roles,” Krimsky wrote.

Policy makers must not allow corporate-spun science to guide decisions about cancer prevention. Media must do a better job reporting and probing into conflicts of interest behind the corporate science spin. It’s time to end the corporate war on cancer science.

The post Secret Documents Expose Monsanto’s War on Cancer Scientists appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Progressive Kevin de León Receives Endorsement From California Democrats

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 15:23

In the latest sign that many in the party are ready for new blood and a bolder, more progressive vision, the Democratic Party in California offered a stunning rebuke to the state’s senior US Senator Diane Feinstein by endorsing her primary challenger Kevin de León, the former State Senate leader from Los Angeles.

In a vote by the party’s 330-member executive body in Oakland on Saturday evening, de León received a full 65 percent of the votes, while Feinstein — who had argued with the board not to issue an endorsment — received only 7 percent. Twenty-eight percent of members chose not to vote.

“Tonight we showed the world what a truly unified Democratic Party looks like,” de León declared followig the vote. “California Democrats are leading the call for a bold agenda in Washington that puts people before politics and focuses on building a future for our state that works for everyone.”

The final results from Saturday’s party convention:

As the Los Angeles Times notes, the endorsement of de León “was an embarrassment for Feinstein, who is running for a fifth full term, and indicates that Democratic activists in California have soured on her reputation for pragmatism and deference to bipartisanship as Trump and a Republican-led Congress are attacking Democratic priorities on immigration, healthcare and environmental protections.”

Christina Bellatoni, political reporter for the Times, exclaimed:

Can’t underscore how huge this is in California politics:https://t.co/SkrKjttoNA

— Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) July 15, 2018

Writing for The Intercept, California-based journalist David Dayen added: “The executive board has grown more and more progressive for a decade, since a new generation of activists secured spots in the party hierarchy. De León proved to have better relationships with party delegates than a senator who spends most of her time in Washington, and little connecting with Democratic activists back home. But the endorsement is also a resounding rejection of Feinstein’s brand of centrist politics, which simply doesn’t mesh well with the party’s most dedicated and plugged-in supporters.”

And Winnie Wong, co-founder of the People for Bernie [Sanders] group, simply pointed out just what a stunning landslide it was:

She won 7% of the vote. https://t.co/pUTXpXBAXj

— Winifred (@WaywardWinifred) July 15, 2018

The post Progressive Kevin de León Receives Endorsement From California Democrats appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Inside the Koch Family’s 60-Year Anti-Union Campaign That Gave Us “Janus”

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 15:03

With last month’s monumental Janus decision by the Supreme Court, the Koch family won a major victory in their multi-generational attack on unions.

The ruling spreads to the entire public sector one of the laws the Koch fortune first helped push through in Kansas 60 years ago: “right-to-work.” And in doing so it enshrines the union-busting agenda their fossil fuel money has helped advance for decades. 

Through a single vote, the Court’s 5-4 Janus decision reverses decades of legal precedent that had obstructed part of the Koch’s pro-corporate agenda. That vote was secured with the Kochs’ help in bankrolling efforts that include: helping to maintain a GOP Senate majority; helping the Senate block President Obama from filling the February 2016 Supreme Court vacancy; and helping to win the confirmation of right-wing corporate activist Neil Gorsuch.

Janus helps cement the nation’s highest court as the Koch Court, and Charles Koch wants to keep it that way.

As Documented first detailed in partnership with the Intercept, for months the Kochs had been investing heavily in anticipation of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Court, which was announced on June 27, the same day as Janus. Earlier this year, the Koch group “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP) hired Sarah Field from the Koch-funded Federalist Society to spearhead its campaign to extend the Koch hold on the Court for perhaps a generation or more.

Despite claims by AFP that helping to seat Gorsuch was their “first” foray into Supreme Court nominations, the Koch effort to influence who becomes a judge and how they interpret the law goes back much further.

In fact, the Kochs have been investing in reshaping the law to suit their personal agenda for decades. For example, the Koch group Citizens for a Sound Economy, AFP’s predecessor, backed Clarence Thomas’ controversial confirmation to the Court more than 25 years ago.

The Kochs’ long-term agenda to remake the United States in their image is a multi-pronged effort that includes changing both the law and who makes or interprets the laws, including the anti-union Janus decision.

The Seeds of Janus

The effort to roll back union rights actually began almost a century ago, as wealthy industrialists objected to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, known as the Wagner Act, which enshrined the right to collective bargaining in the United States.

Many tycoons of the time, like Alfred Sloan, head of General Motors, opposed those rights along with other business reforms of FDR’s New Deal.

Fred Koch, co-founder of the corporation that later became Koch Industries, harshly criticized American workers under New Deal policies in 1938. He extolled the economic policies of Emperor Hirohito and fascists Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini:

Although nobody agrees with me, I am of the opinion that the only sound countries in the world are Germany, Italy, and Japan, simply because they are all working and working hard… The laboring people in those countries are proportionately much better off than they are any place else in the world. When you contrast the state of mind of Germany today with what it was in 1925 you begin to think that perhaps this course of idleness, feeding at the public trough, dependence on government, etc., with which we are afflicted is not permanent and can be overcome.

Only recently, through the investigative work of Jane Mayer, has the public learned that the Koch fortune was actually built in part on directly aiding Hitler by building the oil-cracking factory that became “a key component in the Nazi war machine.” As Mayer noted in her 2016 book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, that factory refined high-octane fuel needed for the Luftwaffe, which targeted, terrorized, and killed many thousands of innocent civilians. Fred Koch’s praise of Germany came after Hitler’s air bombers helped murder 136 men, women, and children in Guernica in the Basque region, a tragedy made famous by the mural painted by Pablo Picasso.  

Meanwhile, industrialists like Sloan pursued efforts to undo New Deal reforms. In 1947, Congress amended the Wagner Act with the Taft-Hartley Act. It gave states the power to pass “right-to-work” laws that undermined collective bargaining by not requiring workers who benefit from bargained rights to pay dues to the unions that secured and enforced them.

How the Kochs Fertilized “Right-to-Work”

As Mayer noted:

[Fred Koch] was an early and active member of the Wichita-based DeMille Foundation for Political Freedom, an anti-labor group [founded in 1945] that was a forerunner of the National Right to Work Defense Foundation. In a revealing private letter, one of its staff members explained the group’s ‘Astroturf’ strategy. In reality, he said, big-business industrialists would run the group, serving as its ‘anonymous quarterbacks,’ and ‘call the turns.’ But he said they needed to sell the ‘yarn’ that the group was ‘composed of housewives, farmers, small businessmen, professional people, wage earners-not big business industrialists.’ Otherwise, he admitted, the movement was ‘almost certainly doomed to failure.’

By 1954, an engineer from Wichita, Kan., Reed Larson, took a leave from his job at the Coleman Company, to launch Kansans-for-the-Right-to-Work. The following year, former Rep. Fred Hartley, Jr., (R-N.J.) co-founded the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC). By 1958, the NRTWC was targeting six states to adopt right-to-work laws but it failed in every place, except Kansas.

“Fred [Koch] co-led a referendum drive to alter the state constitution in order to make it harder for unions to take root in Kansas,” Duke University Professor Nancy MacLean noted

On Nov. 9, 1958, the New York Times reported that right-to-work won in Kansas because anti-union views had taken hold, noting:

More campaign efforts and more money were expended on the emotion-provoking issue than on the campaigns of all Republican and Democratic state and Congressional candidates combined. … For the last 10 days or so before Election Day an organization called Kansans-for-the-Right-to-Work flooded newspapers, television channels and other advertising media with appeals to ‘vote yes.’ These by far outnumbered the ‘vote no’ advertisements of unions opposing the amending.

A month later, Fred Koch joined Robert Welch and ten other men in Indianapolis to found the extreme rightwing group dubbed the “John Birch Society” (JBS).

As the Washington Post noted in its 1961 profile of JBS:

At the top of the Society’s structure in Wichita are several very wealthy industrialists. Oil engineer Fred Koch is president of the Rock Island Oil and Refining Co. A millionaire several times over, he is on the Society’s national council. … Wichita is the John Birch Society’s center of strength in Kansas, and one of its greatest in the country. … The leadership of the Birch Society overlaps heavily with the leadership of the organizations that successfully campaigned in 1958 for a right to work amendment to the State’s Constitution.

As detailed by Group Research Inc. in its 1962 history of JBS, Koch worked with both NRTWC and the Christian Crusade in arguing against union dues like those at issue in the Janus case.

A History of Hostility

In 1959, Fred Koch joined the Executive Committee to plan the JBS strategy to push back against what it viewed as communism in nearly every American institution.

In 1960, Koch published his polemic “A Business Man Looks at Communism” and distributed it to JBS chapters across the country. That pamphlet makes a variety of hysterical claims against unions, including:

Labor Unions have long been a Communist goal. How far they have been penetrated by Communists I have no idea, but it must be very far indeed, judging the hatred and venom poured out in some labor papers….

Koch also accused the US Supreme Court under former Gov. Earl Warren (R-CA) of issuing pro-Communist decisions, the universities of having thousands of Communist professors, the United Nations of being subversive, and former GOP President Dwight Eisenhower of being soft on Communism.

Similar sentiments were expressed in numerous other publications the JBS also pushed. The organization pitched a screed against the union workers who organized against Kohler fixtures in Wisconsin. It pushed attacks on the UAW’s Walter Reuther, who was posthumously awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It published and peddled right-wing writer Rosalie Gordon’s attack on the US Supreme Court for decisions enforcing collective bargaining rights as protecting the “labor-union monopoly,” along with what she called the “plague” of desegregation caused by Brown v. Board of Education.

The JBS also pushed reprints of tomes by Ludwig von Mises attacking unions as illegitimate intervenors in the “free market,” artificial inflators of wages for workers, and thieves of the profits of tycoons. It promoted F.A. Hayek’s vilification of government regulation of corporations as leading to fascism and Hilaire du Berrier’s conspiracy theories that American labor unions were supposedly using union dues to finance communist terrorist violence abroad.

Fred Koch’s son Charles urged visitors to the John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita to read copies of JBS pamphlets, including those by anti-labor writers from the Austrian School of Economics, like Mises.

Indeed, as the present author first documented for the Center for Media and Democracy, Charles Koch became active in JBS after returning home to Wichita to help with the family business. Charles was a leader and fundraiser for JBS, including underwriting its publications and national radio network, while it attacked collective bargaining and leaders of the civil rights movement such as the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks.  

Charles Koch in Action

Though he left JBS in 1968, Charles Koch never abandoned its core anti-union agenda and the lessons of his father’s commitment to right-to-work. He did try to shed some of the rhetoric around communist conspiracies, though of late he was painted by Koch political strategist Richard Fink as a martyr against “collectivism,” in audio obtained by the Undercurrent, which also included outlandish claims linking fascism and the minimum wage. 

It was Charles Koch’s investment in lifting up the work of Mises and Hayek, who made similar claims, that helped preserve and extend their legacy. As Stephen Moore noted in a 2006 profile on Charles for the Wall Street Journal:

The authors who have had the most profound influence on his own political philosophy include F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Simon, Paul Johnson and Charles Murray. Mr. Koch says that he experienced an intellectual epiphany in the early 1960s, when he attended a conference on free-market capitalism hosted by the late, great Leonard Reed.

Charles brought Mises to Wichita to speak and deployed F.A. “Baldy” Harper’s Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) to promote Mises and his protégé Hayek. As lauded by Reed’s Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Hayek argued that unions violated the very idea of the “rule of law” and that the Wagner Act was central to that violation, a sentiment he promoted in numerous writings.

Charles Koch is deeply devoted to an alternative universe in which collective bargaining undermines the rule of law and is not a major cause of increased wages. Moore noted in his interview:

As we continue, Mr. Koch becomes increasingly animated. He discusses another seminal work in his collection, F.A. Harper’s 1957 Why Wages Rise. The book demonstrates ‘that wages rise not because of unions or government action, but because of marginal productivity gains — people get more money when they produce more value for other people.’ Then he confides, “I was so thrilled by this revelation that I had what Maslow called a ‘peak experience.’'”

Koch has also supported the NRTWC, which “sought to put a new face on the anti-union campaign by building its rhetoric on the arguments of Hayek, Mises, and otherswith a ‘respectable’ pedigree.” The NRTWC argues that:

Compulsory unionism itself violates the dignity of the individual worker, regardless of how the forced union tribute is spent. As the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich A. von Hayek wrote: “[T]he coercion which unions have been permitted to exercise … is primarily the coercion of fellow workers.

Deep Devotion and Investment

Hayek and Mises are not the only two virulently anti-union economists Charles Koch backed. As Nancy MacLean documented in Democracy in Chains, one of the key architects of the Koch agenda domestically and internationally, James Buchanan, also railed against the so-called “union monopolies” for distorting “free market” wages.

And, as UnKoch My Campus has detailed, Koch money has funded scores of academics to push their agenda at universities, buying control over content and personnel with restrictive dictates attached to their donations.

Many of the rightwing groups Charles Koch is known to have made a major investment in since the 1970s have pushed right-to-work or attacked collective bargaining rights. These include Reason magazine, the Cato InstituteAmericans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the State Policy Network and many more.

During David Koch’s 1980 bid to become vice president, running on the ticket of Libertarian Ed Clark — which was pushed by Charles and fueled with Koch cash — the campaign platform included making right-to-work the law of the land:

[W]e urge repeal of the National Labor Relations Act, and all state Right to Work Laws, which prohibit employers from making voluntary contracts with unions. We oppose all government back-to-work orders as imposing a form of forced labor.

That is, there would be no need for state right-to-work laws if there were no NLRA that protects collective bargaining rights. As a result, right-to-work would be effectively nationalized at the determination of the employer.

After badly losing that election, the Kochs have invested heavily in changing the culture — and courts of America — to make their anti-union vision a reality.

Right-to-work is part of that vision.

Millions Spent

A leak of the Kochs’ summer retreat in 2010 revealed that they featured NRTWC leaders at their gathering of billionaires to plot plans for that year’s midterm elections.

In 2012, before most of America even knew that the Kochs had branded their billionaire conclave as “Freedom Partners,” that group injected $1 million directly into the NRTWC among the more than $200 million of its known spending that cycle.

In 2016, they focused much of their known political spending on keeping a GOP majority in the Senate, and they influenced the make-up of the US Supreme Court by helping to block Judge Merrick Garland’s confirmation.

For the 2018 election, they’ve pledged to spend more than $400 million through the Seminar Network, the latest rebranding of their network of tycoons.

To be clear, the Koch family fortune is not the only one that has been expended pushing right-to-work laws to try to weaken the power of ordinary people to negotiate through unions. A major funder of right-to-work effort has been the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, along with Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which Mother Jones has dubbed “the ATM” of the right wing.

Collective bargaining has provided women with greater economic opportunities and job security. Right-to-work laws also have a disproportionate impact on people of color, who are union members at a higher rate than whites. Black women will likely be the group most adversely affected by the Janus case. Notably, workers in right-to-work states also have lower wages than in states that have rejected this agenda.

Undermining Progressives Too

The spread of right to work through Janus also will affect our elections.

As In These Times has documented with the Center for Media and Democracy, the national push for right-to-work is designed to undermine the power of unions and to “defang and defund” them as a way to weaken the chances for progressives to win in politics and policy.

The Koch investment in making right-to-work a national reality represents one of the longest and deepest commitments to this agenda, aside from NRTWC itself.

And this year marks the 60th anniversary of Fred Koch’s victory of making right-to-work legally binding in Kansas.

Now, six decades later, Charles Koch has helped make his father’s wish binding on the rest of America through helping to make the Janus ruling a reality.

The post Inside the Koch Family’s 60-Year Anti-Union Campaign That Gave Us “Janus” appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Corporations and Mainstream Media Trumpet the “Horrors” of Higher Wages

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 14:35

The media have treated us to an array of stories warning us of the terrible labor shortage facing the country. Some of the pieces have been general, such as this CNBC piece on the labor shortage “reaching a critical point,” or this Wall Street Journal article on wage gains “threatening profits.”

Others have been more industry-specific, such as The Washington Post’s highlighting of the trucker shortage that threatens the “prosperous economy.” Then there is this New York Times piece noting that nursing homes have trouble attracting nursing assistants at the $13.23 an hour average pay for the occupation.

It’s clear that many in the media are terrified by the prospect that as the labor market gets tighter, workers might get a larger share of the pie. Perhaps this should not be surprising when billionaires control major news outlets, but it does mean that economic reporting might be getting pretty far out of line with economic reality.

At the most basic level, if workers did see pay increases at the expense of profits, they would just be getting back some of what they have lost in this century. The after-tax profit share of national income rose by almost three full percentage points between 2000 and 2016. That would correspond to an average loss of almost $3,000 per worker per year.

But even this calculation understates the shift from wages from profits. According to new research by Gabriel Zucman, more than a third of the foreign profits of US corporations are actually profits made in US but shifted overseas to evade taxes.

Factor this profit shift into the calculation and the loss to workers is close to $4,000 per worker per year. And this is before factoring in the corporate tax cut passed last year.

In this context, the whining over higher wages seems especially pathetic. Corporations were happy to take advantage of the weak labor market, especially in the years of the Great Recession, to increase their profit share. Now they are warning of disaster if they have to give back some of their gains if the labor market continues to strengthen.

Undoubtedly, many of those complaining about the labor shortage want the Federal Reserve Board to accelerate its pace of interest rate hikes. The hope is that slower economic growth will mean fewer jobs and higher unemployment.

Others are looking for more direct help from the government. For example, Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is looking to get permission to bring in 78 foreign workers to fill low-paying jobs such as cooks and housekeepers.

We’ll see soon enough how the battle shakes out, but the basic story should be quite clear to anyone paying attention. The increase in income inequality we have seen over the last four decades has little to do with the intrinsic dynamics of the market. It is a story of the rich rigging the rules to get all the money.

We see this again and again in different areas of public policy. After running around the country for 18 months yelling about China’s currency policy, which has cost the jobs of millions of manufacturing workers in the United States, Donald Trump has dropped currency from his list of complaints as he sets out on his trade war. Instead, we are supposed to fight China over Boeing and Pfizer’s patent fees.

The Supreme Court has decided it is a “free speech violation” if unions sign a contract requiring the workers who benefit from the union to share in the cost of maintaining the union. However, the court sees no questions of freedom at stake when fast-food companies prohibit their workers from seeking jobs with competitors.

Undoubtedly, we will see many economists doing careful research studying the causes of growing inequality. Major foundations will devote tens of millions of dollars for this work.

But there is no mystery here. The rich control the political process and they are using this control to get an ever larger share of the economic pie. Implying that there is some complex puzzle to be sorted out helps the rich in their pursuit of upward redistribution.

The post Corporations and Mainstream Media Trumpet the “Horrors” of Higher Wages appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

The Limits of Green Energy Under Capitalism

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 14:14

Renewable energy is expanding rapidly all around the world. The energy capacity of newly-installed solar projects in 2017, for instance, exceeded the combined increases from coal, gas and nuclear plants. During the past eight years alone, global investment in renewables was $2.2 trillion, and optimism has soared along with investments. “Rapidly spreading solar technology could change everything,” announced a piece in the Financial Times, which also explained that, “there is growing evidence that some fundamental changes are coming that will over time put a question mark over investments in old energy systems.”

But can renewable energy grow fast enough in the market economy to pinch off the use of fossil fuels and help fend off climate catastrophe? Unfortunately, it’s not likely. Even as the percentage of global energy generation from renewables increases, so too does global energy consumption, which means that fossil fuel emissions are also increasing.

The world’s energy-related carbon emissions rose by 1.7 percent in 2017 and energy consumption grew by 2.2 percent, the fastest rate since 2013. For the past decade, primary energy consumption increased worldwide at an average rate of 1.7 percent per year. Power generation rose last year by 2.8 percent with renewable energy providing 49 percent of that increase and most of the rest (44 percent) coming from coal. Globally, oil consumption grew by 1.8 percent, natural gas by 3 percent and coal consumption increased by 1 percent. The key point is that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are increasing even as renewable energy use is growing.

To visualize the relationship between the growing percentage of green energy and increasing total global energy production, imagine a “dynamic energy consumption pie chart.” A growing portion of the pie represents green energy sources, so that piece of the pie is getting wider, but the radius of the pie chart also increases with time to account for the increase of global energy consumption. The pie is getting bigger and bigger while the fossil fuel slice is growing longer (which is bad) but thinner (which is good). Which process wins out? As long as fossil fuel use is not decreasing, it doesn’t matter for the climate.

People often get confused when fossil fuels and renewable energy are discussed together, but the climate only cares about the former. The latter has no effect. Solar panels, wind turbines and the like neither help nor harm the climate. The only thing that matters, in terms of climate disruption, are greenhouse gas emissions. 

It is not enough for the percentage of green energy to increase each year — unless it reaches 100 percent of global energy production very quickly. Even if the rate of greenhouse gas emissions decreases, but doesn’t decrease fast enough, we face disaster. What is required is that global greenhouse gas emissions decrease rapidly to zero by midcentury in order for the biosphere to stand a chance of survival. Unfortunately, even a rapidly increasing percentage of green energy production is unlikely to achieve that under capitalist market forces.

What About the Carbon Bubble?

Falling prices for renewable energy have led academics, activists and investors to warn of a “carbon bubble” of overvalued fossil fuel assets in the global economy, which could lead to a major capitalist crisis. A recent economic study, published in Nature Climate Change predicted that a sudden decrease in the value of fossil fuels — triggered by low renewable energy prices — would cause the carbon bubble to burst, and under the assumption of continuing trends, such an event will likely occur before 2035.

Economic crises notwithstanding, could the bursting of the carbon bubble at least prevent or significantly delay environmental collapse? Unfortunately, no. Lead author Jean-François Mercure warned, as reported by the Guardian, “that the transition was happening too slowly to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Although the trajectory towards a low-carbon economy would continue, to keep within [2 degrees Celsius] above pre-industrial levels — the limit set under the Paris agreement — would require much stronger government action and new policies.”

Capitalism or Survival

Capitalism requires perpetual economic growth in order to avoid economic crises such as the Great Depression. More specifically, in order to stave off mass unemployment and economic misery, capitalism requires increasing commodity production, escalating resource extraction, increasing trash and toxic dumping, and ever increasing energy production. Capitalism, by its very nature, must expand unendingly and it has already surpassed the limits of sustainable growth in the sense that global consumption now exceeds the planet’s bio-capacity to regenerate the resources consumed. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 1.6 Earths would be required to meet the demands humanity makes on nature each year. Capitalism is not only incapable of responding adequately to the environmental crisis, it is the very cause of the crisis and can only make matters worse.

As Richard Smith points out in Green Capitalism: The God that Failed, the scale of change needed to achieve a sustainable civilization is staggering. The rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions together with resource conservation requires that we radically reduce or close down large numbers of power plants, mines, factories, mills, processing and other industries around the world. It means drastically cutting back or closing down not only fossil fuel companies, but the industries that depend on them, including automobile, aircraft, airline, shipping, petrochemical, construction, agribusiness, lumber, pulp and paper, and wood product companies, industrial fishing operations, factory farming, junk food production, private water companies, packaging and plastic, disposable products of all sorts, and above all, the war industries. The Pentagon is the single largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy.

The loss of jobs from the de-industrialization required to save ourselves would not be just a few coal mining and oil drilling jobs but millions of jobs in the industrialized world. Mainstream environmentalists argue that the jobs versus the environment dichotomy is a false one, but they are wrong. Within a capitalist framework that is exactly the choice. What we would need to do within this framework to save the biosphere, including ourselves, would result in total economic collapse.

It is not enough just to oppose capitalism. We also need to create something better: An alternative system of human relations along the lines of eco-socialism is not only desirable, it is imperative. Included in such a vision are free health care, free education, free mass transportation, and since most jobs under capitalism are pointless or destructive, we need a drastically reduced workweek.

Polluting industries will not voluntarily shut down. To accomplish what is needed requires socializing virtually all large-scale industries. The only way to rationally reorganize the economy sustainably is to collectively and democratically plan most of the world’s industrial economies.

While all kinds of useless, wasteful and polluting industries must be eliminated, we cannot contract the entire economy. We need to expand some industries, including renewable energy, public health care, public transit, long-lasting energy efficient housing, durable mass transportation vehicles, long-lasting appliances and electronics, repair shops, public schools, public services, environmental remediation, reforestation and organic farming.

It is essential that environmental activists begin to focus on ending the economic system of capitalism itself. The survival of life on this planet depends on it.

The post The Limits of Green Energy Under Capitalism appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Chile : Anarchist comrade Freddy Fuentevilla has been released from prison

Anarchist News - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 14:03

From Act for Freedom!

Refractario’s note: We learn with joy that comrade Freddy has been released. From here, a strong warm hug, after the death threats of Bernales, the jails in Argentina, the Chilean prisons, the trials and farces up until now, time is filled with experiences in the construction of paths of negation. Today new paths are being opened and old ones taken up again, now back in the streets once more! Without ever forgetting Juan and Marcelo’s struggle on the medical and juridical military fronts, respectively, we remember Freddy’s words during the trial against him:

“Our stories didn’t begin on 18th October 2007, as Juan (Aliste) has explained very well, they are a constant. It’s not easy to disengage from them, especially when a hunt is unleashed that is not really aimed at getting someone to court, but on the contrary at their physical annihilation, the annihilation that metaphorically is presenting itself today surgically even buried under tons of cement and iron, not for one year, but for many years (…)

I think these words.. what I feel now is gratitude. But to whom? Gratitude to my mother, because I have no mother, I’m lucky in that respect. To la mia compagna, my comrades, my family, my friends and above all my children’s unconditional love.
A hug to all, and the necessary strength will be always there. And…

While poverty persists there will be rebellion.”

FREDDY RELEASED!!!

To those who struggle against the State, prison and capital all over the world.
— To our comrades and brothers in the struggle
— To all those who have accompanied us tirelessly in these 10 years of Resistance to prison
— To the subversive, autonomous and libertarian nuclei, groups, organizations and individualities
— To our families

Yesterday, 18th June 2018, our brother, friend and comrade Freddy Fuentevilla Saa was released from the high security prison in Santiago de Chile, after 10 years and almost 3 months of uninterrupted imprisonment, on what the language of justice and power calls “parole”.

To talk about this long journey with its vicissitudes, every second of imprisonment, is difficult through these words full of contrasting sensations when the immense happiness of seeing one of ours come out from behind these walls, meeting his loved ones again, feeding the indomitable hearts of all those who give up and don’t bow down in the face of the horrible temple of detention.

The inevitable passing of time now helps, allowing our comrade to be able to gaze at the sky without bars again, to get out of the narrow spaces of prison cement and iron, which were never able to affect our passionate insurrectional conviction.
With every step, constant learning and the will intact we will continue brotherhood with all those who Rebel against this sick world, which only offers us a disposable life based on the most putrid values imaginable, and which announce the extinction of life unless we oppose it with Persistant Multiform Resistance.

The world of power, authority and its hierarchies, of Nazi-fascism in all its variants and colours, the claim of total control, the ideology that justifies it, all continue to be the recipients of our ancestral anger, and it is for this reason that we insist on the continuity of the struggle beyond the bars and walls where we continue to raise our fists today.
Our present battles are urgent!

Let’s redouble our efforts to win!

The indifference of the jailors we are confronting concerning Juan’s medical situation is categorical.
Moreover, Marcelo’s judicial situation, that he is to do 10,123 days in prison following sentences dealt out by the military prosecutors in the 1990s, is aberrant.

Prison is lived inside and outside the walls of the jail … and our comrade is by no means free, he can only walk in the streets under various control measures such as reporting weekly to the police station and prohibition to leave the region, besides the inevitable police control.

Another step forward, a necessary moment to get back some oxygen after so many years behind bars.

With tenacity and subversive complicity we hug all the dignified prisoners who don’t surrender in the jails of chile, argentina, brazil, peru, colombia, mexico, united states, italy, spain, greece, russia, ukraine and all the corners of the planet where one struggles with autonomy and horizontally, searching for total liberation of peoples, individuals and communities.

With affection and brotherhood to the persecuted who carry on making a mockery of the law.

SOLIDARITY AND INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD FOR THE DEMOLITION OF THE PRISONS!!!
AGAINST THE STATE, PRISON AND CAPITAL: SOCIAL WAR!!!
WHILE POVERTY PERSISTS THERE WILL BE REBELLION!!!
Juan Aliste Vega
Marcelo Villarroel Sepulveda
High security prison
Santiago – Chile

Tuesday 19th June 2018
Translated from Italian by act for freedom now!
anarhija.info

Tags: ChileAfter Prisoncategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

15 Flashpoints Which Could Produce A “Perfect Storm” During The 2nd Half Of 2018

The Organic Prepper - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 14:02

Originally Published by Michael Snyder at End of the American Dream

Events are beginning to greatly accelerate, and many believe that the ingredients for a “perfect storm” are starting to … Read the rest

The post 15 Flashpoints Which Could Produce A “Perfect Storm” During The 2nd Half Of 2018 appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Categories: News

Global Temperature Projections Could Double as the World Burns

Truth Out - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:51

A recent mountaineering trip found two friends and myself venturing into the central Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The approach to our climb meant we had to take a ferry 40 miles up the 55-mile-long Lake Chelan to Lucerne village on its western banks, then venture up into the mountains from there.

When we returned to Lucerne after our climb to catch the ferry back, I took note of a US Forest Service sign with information about the remediation work at Holden Mine, which we’d seen nine miles up a dirt road to the trailhead we had used to begin our approach hike.

The propaganda on the sign claimed that the Holden Mine remediation was “Cleaning up the past to improve the future.” I confidently use the term “propaganda” because this is exactly what this is. The sign went on to tell of the covering up of waste rock and mill tailings, because, “Over the several past decades these piles have been exposed to rain, snowmelt and ground water creating acidic water runoff with high concentrations of aluminum, zinc, iron, cadmium and copper. The impacted runoff entered Railroad Creek and degraded water quality and aquatic habitat downstream from the site.”

After reading it, I turned around and looked at the brilliant blue waters of Lake Chelan glistening in the early afternoon sun. This lake — the third-deepest in the United States at well over 1,000 feet with several hundred feet of its deepest reaches even lower than sea level — is the primary water source for a massive amount of farming in Central Washington and hundreds of thousands of people annually use it for fishing and recreation. The lake’s water is toxic.

Lake Chelan is yet another wound that the white colonialist mentality has gouged into the Earth. But as profound as this wound is, it pales in comparison to the ongoing and worsening impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).

Two new studies investigating corn and vegetables have warned of an increasing risk of food shocks around the world, along with malnutrition, if ACD continues unchecked, which by all accounts it will, given the governmental refusal to even discuss the actions necessary for mitigation. Both studies were published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and showed how ACD will increase the risk of simultaneous crop failures across the planet’s largest corn-growing regions, as well as sapping nutrients from critical vegetables. For example, an increase of 4 degrees Celsius (4°C) — which is essentially the current trajectory we are on to reach by 2100 — could cut US corn production nearly in half. Meanwhile, the likelihood of simultaneous crop failures for the four biggest corn exporters (US, China, Brazil, Argentina) suffering yield losses of 10 percent or greater increases from 7 percent at 2°C warming to 86 percent at 4°C.

Another study warns of how ACD already poses a serious threat to the nutritional value of crops, and a lack of action could well have major global implications for both food security and global health. The same study showed that global crop yields could be reduced by nearly one-third with a 4°C temperature increase.

But the food crisis is already current, because drying wells and sinking land at the heart of the most productive farmland in the US, the Central Valley of California, are an indication that we are watching the collapse of this once bountiful area. Large portions of the San Joaquin Valley have already sunk nearly 30 feet since the 1920s, with some areas having dropped a staggering three feet over just the last two years. All of this is the result of farmers’ relentless pumping of groundwater to offset the lack of snowpack and rainfall, both of which stem largely from ACD. It is important to note that the groundwater the farmers are using accounts for between 30 to 60 percent of the water that all Californians use each year, depending on how much rain and snow the state gets. The US Geological Survey stated that the pumping and resultant sinking of the San Joaquin Valley is “one of the single largest alterations of the [planet’s] land surface attributed to mankind.”

Another sign of the dramatic changes besetting the planet comes from the Arctic, where a cyclone became one of the most powerful on record. The fact that it occurred in June was also noteworthy, as historically these storms don’t normally begin to hit the Arctic until late summer. Its impacts on what is left of the ever-shrinking sea ice are, of course, deleterious.

Another recent report illustrates how what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. The loss of Arctic sea ice could well cook the tropics by changing critical ocean currents and altering wind patterns, which will of course cause dramatic changes across the entire planet.

Look out your window. Better yet, go outside and feel what is happening. By early July, cities across the globe set all-time-high temperature records. While no single weather event can ever be attributed solely to ACD, it has been well known for decades now that all of these phenomena are being driven in part (and most are largely driven) by ACD.

Earth

Nearly 1 billion people across South Asia are at risk of seeing their already desperate plight worsen, according to a recent World Bank Report. The report pins the cause on increasing temperatures and precipitation changes stemming from ACD, if major changes are not made to current global emission rates.

Baobab trees that live for millennia and are common throughout sub-Saharan Africa are now rapidly dying off, and scientists are pointing to ACD as the cause. A recent report showed that of the 13 oldest baobab trees, four have died in just the last dozen years, and five others are on their way out, given that they have already lost their oldest stems.

A very disconcerting study coming out of Northwestern University has warned that even slight increases in temperatures could lead to the extinction of bees across the US Southwest in the very near future. Over a two-year period, the study simulated the predicted warmer future climate, and the results are shocking: 35 percent of the bees died the first year, and 70 percent died the second year.

Adding insult to injury, another recent report warned of something we’ve known for years now: that warming temperatures could increase the spread of bark beetles, which are well-known for how effectively they decimate forests.

Meanwhile, Atlantic puffins, which were nearly decimated by hunters about a century ago, had made a comeback thanks to a protection program run by the National Audubon Society. But now, according to a recent report, they are likely on their way out again due to ACD impacts.

Water

Basic high school physics shows that as the atmosphere continues to warm, it can hold more moisture. Hence, we should expect greater severity of rain events due to ACD.

Recent events in Japan provide an example of this, where record rainfall caused flooding and landslides that have led to at least 155 deaths, with dozens still missing at the time of writing.

The flip side of this phenomenon is that there are longer periods between these rain events, which brings drought.

In the US, the Rio Grande River (the fourth-longest river in the country) is vanishing before our eyes. Authorities recently warned that the river likely won’t make it out of Colorado into New Mexico this summer, let alone further down into Texas or Mexico. This means that farmers in the already drought-prone region will be struggling with their crops through a summer of extreme drought.

Over in Iraq, ACD-fueled drought coupled with upstream countries damming the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is creating a crisis for farmers. This is causing even more of Iraq to turn into desert, and the future for farmers there is dismal.

The oceans are continuing to warm as they absorb the majority of the heat humans are generating in the atmosphere.

The giant North Pacific “blob,” a massive area of warming water that occurred from 2014-16, is still having major impacts on Alaskan fisheries. That state’s famous Copper River red salmon are currently in decline, and a dismal salmon run forced the state to carry out an “unprecedented” shutdown of fishing at a popular dip netting area there.

To make matters worse, Alaska also had to shut down several king salmon fishing areas in the Susitna Valley — one of the main reasons again being the ACD-fueled “blob.”

Warming waters in the Gulf of Mexico are causing fish there to change their geographic distribution, a phenomenon happening around the world that has been mentioned in several other climate dispatches.

A fascinating study was recently published showing that, regarding sea level rise, rising bedrock below the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could actually slow down what was expected to be a catastrophic collapse of that ice sheet. The study revealed how as the ice melts, it releases its weight load from the bedrock, which then rises. Projections show that this could rise by as much as eight meters in the coming century, which could potentially protect the ice from the warm seawater that has been melting it from below. The author of the study said that this could buy the world a few extra decades to prepare for what is still eventually to come with sea level rise.

However, a significant amount of sea level rise is already set in motion, given thermal expansion of ocean waters, ongoing melting in Greenland and the rest of the cryosphere, and other factors.

Case in point: Watch a four-mile-long iceberg carve off the Helheim Glacier in late June; an event where half-mile-high columns of ice broke free and spun onto their backs, releasing 10 billion tons of ice into the ocean.

A recently released study shows that coral reefs “will be overwhelmed by rising oceans,” given that they cannot grow fast enough to keep up with rising sea levels. Reefs only grow in certain water depths, so as waters rise, the coral simply cannot cope.

In Bangladesh, ongoing rising sea levels coupled with recurrent flooding is causing an increase in homelessness, and now a recent report shows that growing unpredictability of shifting rainfall patterns is further complicating the people’s plight.

Another report on the ramifications of sea level rise in the US warned that more than 150,000 homes and businesses could face more frequent high tide flooding within 15 years, and the number of homes and businesses impacted by this could well double by 2045. It is worth noting that these projections are not based on worst-case sea level rise estimates, which have thus far themselves not been keeping pace with reality.

The same report warned that Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the riskier places to live on the coast in the Southeast, as within the next three decades, as many as 8,000 homes in Charleston County could flood at least 26 times if seas rise just two feet. Also singled out in the report was Texas, where more than 5,500 homes along coastal areas of that state could be flooded by rising sea levels by 2030.

As a harbinger of further planetary warming, a recent study showed that the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean is continuing to warm dramatically, which means it could soon transition from being a cold Arctic area to a warmer Atlantic-dominated climate regime, hence shifting the climate for the entire region, with global implications. The study showed that the Barents Sea is likely on track to become ice-free year round in the near future.

Fire

Summer is now in full swing, and so is fire season along with record temperatures.

Wildfires have been blazing across the Western US for weeks now. By July 4, thousands of people had already been forced to evacuate from their homes due to encroaching fires, as more than 60 large, active fires were present, mostly across the already drought-ridden Western states. Colorado had already had its third-largest fire in its history, which was still expanding beyond the already 147 square miles it had burned, roughly 200 miles southwest of Denver.

Also in early July, someone in the Rocky Mountains described a “tsunami” of flames, and one of the fires burning in the Rockies had already burned an area larger than the city limits of Denver and was only 5 percent contained.

Wildfires in California this summer have already scorched more than two times the five-year average of land burned this year, and that is only as of July 1.

Things are so bad across the Western US that officials have opted for a rare shutting down of national forests. This is due to widespread “exceptional” drought, record warm temperatures and the high danger of more fires. Thus far, national forests and parks in New Mexico and Arizona have been shut down, along with the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado.

Air

For most of you reading this dispatch, you don’t need science to tell you how much warmer it is outside than it used to be. One look at these global heat maps from early July showing temperature departures from normal tell the story.

A major heat wave swept across most of the US, setting records across the country, while in China, a heat wave torched Shanghai, Beijing and other cities, forcing the country to speed up its natural gas imports to meet energy demand to run air conditioners. Around that time, the UK recorded the hottest temperatures it has ever recorded for June, while in Scotland, the roof of the Glasgow Science Centre got so hot it began to ooze tar as portions of the structure literally began to melt.

In Alaska, just before July 4, Anchorage set a new heat record when the city saw 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

At least 33 people died from the heat across southern Quebec in Canada as the province baked under extreme temperatures, causing Montreal to open pools and air conditioned spaces to the general public in hopes of preventing more deaths.

Across the US, the number of summer days with above normal temperatures has been trending upward, with 92 percent of the 244 cities analyzed in a recent study having more summer days with above-normal temperatures than half a century earlier.

Denial and Reality

As usual, the denialism in the fossil-fuel-funded GOP is on parade.

Four Republican senators recently called to halt funding for an ACD education program, calling the program “propaganda.”

Swerving back into reality, a recent study dispelled, again, the myth about natural gas being a “clean” energy source. The report showed that natural gas could warm the planet as much as coal does, in the short term. “That’s because its main ingredient, the potent greenhouse gas methane, has been leaking from oil and gas facilities at far higher rates than governmental regulators claim,” an article in Science said of the study. “A new study finds that in the United States, such leaks have nearly doubled the climate impact of natural gas, causing warming on par with carbon dioxide (CO2)-emitting coal plants for 2 decades. (Methane doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2 does, but while it does, its warming effect is much stronger.)”

You know things are really bad when even the pope is warning that unless governments take ACD seriously, Earth will be nothing more than “rubble” and “refuse.”

To underscore everything in this month’s dispatch, an international team of researchers from 17 countries recently published their findings in Nature Geoscience, which showed that global temperatures could eventually double those that have been predicted by climate modeling. According to their findings, sea levels could rise by six meters or more, even if the world meets the 2°C maximum temperature rise level set by the Paris climate agreement.

The post Global Temperature Projections Could Double as the World Burns appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

SELCO: What You Need to Know About Survival Caches

The Organic Prepper - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:37
by Selco

I have used survival caches as part of my prepping for a long time. This is because my experience that says no matter how well you are prepared, … Read the rest

The post SELCO: What You Need to Know About Survival Caches appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Categories: News

Call for Submissions for the NIGHT FOREST JOURNAL

Anarchist News - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 13:28

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE NIGHT FOREST CELL – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

There is birdsong in the forest, there is whale-song beneath the sea, and in the self-defaced habitat of the human there is also much noise, but its character and quality may be judged more harshly than other musics; We determine that the grinding of gears and the weeping of starving children are not beautiful sounds. In this it seems We go against the current of popular opinion, but there are worse rivers in which to attempt an upstream journey – since the advent of industrial-scale pollution and poisoning of the waterways of the Earth, it seems there are almost too many to choose from.

In response to the ugliness of sound abounding around Us, We were inspired to begin the NIGHT FOREST project, creating music of animosity toward the Leviathan in whose entrails We linger. We have welcomed other dissatisfied individuals to harmonise in both aggression and joy, revelling in Our personal wars upon the constraints of the civilised world as well as the ecstasies of brief escape into the truly wild and beautiful. Pursuant to expanding upon the potential offered by such harmonies, We, the NIGHT FOREST CELL OF RADICAL POETS, announce the creation of the NIGHT FOREST JOURNAL. This journal is set for publication in several months’ time, at the height of Northern Hemisphere winter, and Southern summer, and will be published online, as well as potentially in print.

To this end, We invite all with rage and love in their souls to offer submissions to the NIGHT FOREST JOURNAL, in the form of RADICAL POETRY, FICTION, ESSAY, PROSE, ART, or PHOTOGRAPHY. Submissions in other formats will be considered, and are welcomed, if the medium is transferrable to the limiting form of a journal. We desire RAW-POETIC expression, as We embrace the concept of such expression as war upon the Leviathan, and it is Our position that should such an abomination as the global capitalist technocracy someday be brought down it will be done in creative and beautiful fashions, through poetic insurrection and artistic terrorism. The expressions We search for must be subversive and radical, occupying a space of total opposition to the Leviathanic values and embracing truly sustainable, savage, and rewilded lifeways. On this subject however, as there is so much existing discussion as to what feral life or sustainable community may look like, and what processes might be taken to achieve it, We encourage great creativity in searching for new aesthetics of resistance and war against civilisation; to this end, the project is open to those of anarchist, post-anarchist, and non-anarchist tendencies alike. Any seeking more insight into Our positions and tendency are directed to our MANIFESTO, accessible through our WordPress site, as this elaborates further on the forms and nature of RAW-POETRY as We perceive it.

Submissions are accepted through our Facebook page, as well as our email, nightforestpoetry@gmail.com.

“We will NEVER renounce raw-poetry and poetry of destruction as a means of ATTACK. Our WILL-TO-LIFE, WILL-TO-POWER, is drawn towards REBELLION and REVOLT. Ontological-cosmic rebellion is far more interesting and enjoyable for Us than the monotonous comatose world of politics.”
– Extract from the MANIFESTO of the NIGHT FOREST CELL of RADICAL POETS

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Tags: Journaleco struggleGreen Anarchismcategory: Projects
Categories: News

San Diego, CA: Identity Evropa Run Off By Antifascists While Attempting Banner Drop

It's Goin Down - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 07:50

The post San Diego, CA: Identity Evropa Run Off By Antifascists While Attempting Banner Drop appeared first on It's Going Down.

Report from antifascists in San Diego, who managed to disrupt and stop a banner drop attempt by the white nationalist group, Identity Evropa, which was instrumental in organizing the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

On Wednesday July 4th, 2018 around 1pm a group of 8 Alt-Right trolls attempted to display and photograph a banner of the white nationalist organization Identity Evropa on the outskirts of the Sherman Heights neighborhood in San Diego. The attempt occurred on the 19th street on-ramp to the eastbound 94 freeway. While the photographer stood on a fence on the entrance to the on-ramp, the other seven held the banner and amerikkkan flags where the on-ramp joins the freeway.

As the photographer was approached, they hopped off the fence, returned to their white, unmarked van, and were startled when confronted. The photographer and the van’s back license plate were photographed. The photographer’s van struck the 94 East Freeway sign while they were attempting to flee in reverse, and then they continued eastbound on G street.

White, unmarked van of photographer: California license plates 8Y653.

Green Toyota Camry LE of group one: California license plates 7NJB830.

When those holding the banner and flags heard the confrontation with the photographer, they rolled up the banner and flags and proceeded down the on-ramp and then downtown, attempting to minimize attention from people around. As they were followed, they split into two groups, one group turning left on 17th Street towards a Green Toyota Camry LE, and the second group headed west on G Street to a white Toyota Tundra, plate number 24762C2.

This right-wing white nationalist organization known as Identity Evropa is a rebranded version of the former National Youth Front, which was the youth wing of a white supremacist organization, the American Freedom Party, founded by southern California skinheads. A propaganda campaign by Identity Evropa this past year has targeted students on college and university campuses, and has included attempted banner drops at different locations in San Diego. At the University of California – San Diego, they disrupted ethnic studies classrooms and dropped anti-immigration banners. At San Diego State University, they posted fascist flyers.

We reject white supremacy and white racism, which are forms of colonialism.
We will not allow fascists to conduct propaganda campaigns in and around our neighborhoods.

We call on the people of San Diego to confront the activities of these fascists on sight.
We ask that community members help us gather more information on the membership and leadership of Identity Evropa, including full names, schools and jobs.

In closing, we offer the following words, adapted from a report back from an anti-colonial, anti-fascist workshop at the Taala Hooghan Infoshop:

We recognize the limitations of anti-fascism on stolen land. We’ve experienced the heavy hand of the state in ‘California’ long before Trump was elected. We’ve resisted widespread attacks on migrants (many of whom are our Indigenous relations) through state mechanisms, many of these institutions designed to ensnare or kill migrants also enforce a colonial rule on un-ceded Indigenous lands.

Indigenous resistance to these efforts is long, while accomplices are still new to this struggle. We have organized projects of solidarity to oppose the colonial networks of control, because we understand that an anti-fascism that is not grounded in anti-colonialism is certain to reproduce the same structures of settler colonial violence that has existed for over 500 years on this continent, and over 200 years of representative democracy in the ‘United States.’

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