The Average American Family Spends an EXTRA $4721.50 Between October & December

The Organic Prepper - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 13:59
by Daisy Luther

With October begins a consumer frenzy that lasts all the way through the end of the year. For most families, the final quarter of the year isn’t … Read the rest

The post The Average American Family Spends an EXTRA $4721.50 Between October & December appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Categories: News

Why the FBI Used Its Kid Gloves on Brett Kavanaugh

Truth Out - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 13:36

There has always been a stunning double standard when it comes to FBI investigations: The FBI uses its kid gloves for people being vetted to serve the larger US governmental system while ruthlessly hounding activists and others who are perceived as threats to state power. The FBI’s cursory investigation into the charges made by Christine Blasey Ford against now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was just the latest example of this double standard.

At the core of contention in Kavanaugh’s now-completed confirmation process was the need for a more complete investigation to see if the nominee was “suitable” to sit on the Supreme Court — specifically if the claims of sexual assault against him had any merit. For their part, Republicans said due diligence had already been done, noting that Kavanaugh had already been subjected to six background checks. What they didn’t make clear is that those checks were done previously over the course of his career, for positions less than that of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, quite a few people — thanks largely to the Democratic leadership and the mainstream media — were led to believe that another FBI investigation was the best vehicle for getting at the truth of things. Many were then sorely disappointed when the new FBI investigation failed to turn up anything “disqualifying.”

So what happened? Was the FBI’s lack of findings a result of a constrained inquiry dictated by the Republicans and the president, predisposed against finding anything untoward about Kavanaugh? Perhaps, but a deeper explanation lies in the FBI’s long history of double standards — its smoothing the way for those seen to be in service of the larger US governmental system while reserving boundless efforts against those seen as opponents.

Criteria for the FBI’s “Suitability Reviews”

Contrary to what many reasonable people might think — and to the assumptions that left witnesses who independently approached the FBI to offer information about Kavanaugh feeling surprised after their offers were disregarded — the FBI’s checks on people being vetted to serve the larger US governmental system are not set up to go very deep or be particularly analytical. According to Greg Rinckey, a lawyer whose specialty is employment law and the security clearance process, “FBI background checks aren’t meant to dig up decades-old claims that never resulted in a police report or criminal charges.”

Yale University, which prepares a considerable number of people for government service, has a webpage dedicated to laying out the governmental background check process to its advancing students. As it explains, the first level of investigation is something called a “Suitability Review,” which itself has different categories:

High Risk positions require a full Background Investigation (BI), which is a MBI [Minimum Background Check] plus a review of the candidate’s employment, residential, and educational history for the preceding five years with the possibility that some of the information sources will be interviewed in person.

A suitability review, it should be noted, is different from a security clearance — something judges do not require. That check is more intensive, including checking with “former employers, coworkers, friends, neighbors, landlords, and schools along with a review of credit, tax, and police records.”

That process however, does not seem to go all that deep either, which would explain why criminal records and malfeasance — while sometimes weeding out certain people — often become an issue after people have been in office, as was the case for recent Trump administration officials Scott Pruitt, Brenda Fitzgerald, Tom Price and Rob Porter. Porter is particularly noteworthy in this regard. Unlike Kavanaugh — who recommended him for his job as a White House adviser — he had a police report for domestic violence as late as 2010, but this does not appear to have been an issue in his vetting.

Such is the relative kid-glove treatment enjoyed by those seeking to work for the United States government. For those perceived to be working against the government, however, there are other criteria entirely. Anyone who has watched “The Sopranos” understands that FBI agents don’t just sit at their computers doing background checks but are instead proactive, carrying out their investigations over an extended period of time. The Bureau itself says it “may delay making an arrest in order to obtain additional evidence proving the suspect’s guilt.” What it doesn’t mention is that there may never be an arrest.

That is the case with unambiguously criminal cases. However, the FBI is more than a “crime-fighting” outfit; it is also the country’s chief domestic intelligence agency, and as such, carries out the open-ended investigations of a political police.

Comparing Kavanaugh’s Experience to the FBI’s Treatment of Dissidents

According to press reports, the FBI conducted only nine interviews on Brett Kavanaugh in its final investigation — this for a man accused by multiple women of sexual assault. It is worth contrasting Kavanaugh’s experience with an investigation of the famous American composer, Aaron Copland — someone who was neither applying for a government job nor suspected of committing a crime. Aaron Copland was, however, suspected of being a member of the Communist Party in the ’30s and ’40s, and as a result, was intensively investigated.

Copland’s FBI file contains a report from 1950 that includes 20 pages of investigatory data, outlining every time his name appeared in the Daily Worker (the Communist Party’s newspaper), every organization perceived to be a Communist front he was associated with, references to 32 “Confidential Informant” sources that supplied information on Copland, and three “leads” to be pursued in New York, Los Angeles and the Berkshires in Massachusetts, to ascertain more information.

Similarly, the musicologist and folk archivist Alan Lomax — someone else accused of no crimes, but who worked for the Library of Congress — was also suspected of being a communist. Lomax’s file documents interviews with what appear to be his former professors at the University of Texas — the names are redacted — his employers and his wife’s background.

The subsequent reports on Lomax offer evidence not of his “unsuitability” let alone any law-breaking, but of his politics. For example, one interviewee “informed that LOMAX was an extreme liberal in his political views.” Another informant deigned to psychoanalyze Lomax — which the FBI felt was relevant enough to include in the report — saying that Lomax “was a victim of too much adulation by his father and being very intellectual, was extreme in his views and dealt in theory rather than actuality.” That said, the source could offer “no information indicating any connection the Communist Party.”

The efforts against the Communist Party, were not just about passively compiling dossiers, but were part of a larger program of disruption, that, among other things, led to Copland and Lomax being included in the infamous “Red Channels” — a manual for the blacklist of the fifties.

While the FBI surveilled a range of individuals and organizations beyond the Communist Party throughout the sixties, its methodology for monitoring and investigating the different groups was largely the same. One example of its approach is apparent in the case of activist Stephen Charles Hamilton. In 1966, the FBI undertook an investigation of Hamilton, who had taken part in the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley. Hamilton was an early anti-Vietnam War activist and for a time was associated with the Progressive Labor Party.

Even though he had no record of criminal activity aside from his arrest at the Free Speech protest, Hamilton nonetheless was subjected to an investigation that included checking his records at East Los Angeles College, checking police records in South Gate Los Angeles, reviewing indices in Chicago and “where appropriate, contact informants”; and reviewing records in Wheaton, Illinois, where he had attended school. One report, by way of follow-up, noted that Hamilton had “never been in any trouble” in South Gate, but the clerk who reported to the FBI said her son was a friend of Hamilton and she had heard he had been arrested in the Berkeley area recently for “carrying a concealed weapon. She said she believed the weapons was a pipe cleaning tool.” In turn, Hamilton, then 22, was recommended for inclusion in the Bureau’s Security Index, a decades-long program that called for the detention of certain individuals in the case of war or national emergency, and required ongoing monitoring of them as a result.

A Rigorous Vetting of the FBI’s Own Informants

It was not, however, only political dissidents that the Bureau investigated with such rigor. The Bureau also vetted its informants thoroughly. A good example of this is Richard Aoki, the Japanese American radical activist who secretly informed for the FBI throughout the ’60s and early ’70s. Not only did he have a full background check done on him before he was offered the position, the Bureau itself sent the preliminary findings on Aoki back to its field agent for further information. Specifically, they decided that, “Authority is not granted at this time to take any steps to develop Aoki as an informant.” Their reasons?

Your letter does not disclose results of your file search, efforts to obtain information regarding his reliability, stability, general reputation, present and past employment and check of local credit and arrest records.

In Aoki’s case, the agents responsible were able to clear the matter up, and he would go on to be what the Bureau considered a “reliable source” for almost 20 years, giving highly damaging intelligence on the Black Panther Party, the Socialist Workers Party, and the strike for ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, among other things.

The FBI’s Current Scrutiny of Antifa and Anarchists

The FBI’s stark double standard continues into the present. Indeed, had the FBI taken the kind of interest in Kavanaugh as it does for anarchist activists, we would likely have seen a much more thoroughgoing investigation of our newest Supreme Court justice.

Just as the FBI used to expose suspected communists to exhaustive and invasive screenings, it now has turned its focus to antifa (anti-fascist) activists. Note how broadly — and open-ended — the Bureau’s parameters are for investigating this category of activist is. Here is what FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress in November 2017:

[W]e are not investigating antifa as antifa, that is an ideology and we don’t investigate ideologies, we are investigating a number of what we would call anarchist extremists investigations [sic], where we have properly predicated subjects of people who are motivated to commit violent criminal activity on kind-of an antifa ideology. So we have a number of active investigations in that space all around the country.

Here it is worth noting that while much was made about avoiding a “fishing expedition” in the Kavanaugh matter, the Bureau’s mandate and scope of inquiry into “anarchist extremism” appears to be boundless and with no temporal limitations:

Anarchist extremism is nothing new to the FBI. One of our first big cases occurred in 1919, when the Bureau of Investigation (as we were called then) investigated a series of anarchist bombings in several US cities. And during the 1970s, the FBI investigated anarchist extremists such as the Weather Underground Organization, which conducted a series of bombing campaigns.

Not only does the Bureau trace back anarchist extremism to 1919, it also lumps the Weather Underground — ostensibly a Marxist-Leninist organization — into that category, making that example fit the definition. It is also a way of reinforcing a notion of criminality – which can be used to suppress those given that label. Nonetheless, it is illustrative of a plasticity that the Bureau appears to have when its target is something other than a potential Supreme Court justice.

While the background checks and security efforts undertaken for people like Kavanaugh are aimed at elevating individuals and ultimately strengthening the overall state system, the efforts against dissidents have an entirely opposite objective. Such people are to be watched closely, arrested when possible, or otherwise have their lives and efforts disrupted and derailed. No wonder the “process” of investigation should be so strikingly different.

Lessons From the Kavanaugh Debacle

Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation process cannot be understood as anything other than a concentrated effort at the reassertion of patriarchy and the extolling of misogyny. In that respect, it is perhaps not surprising that the FBI, never known for its left-leaning sensibilities, so firmly reinforced the wrong side.

That said, given the contention (ostensibly between Democrats and Republicans, but reflecting a larger divide among the ruling elites) over the future direction of the United States, it is possible that the FBI at some point could be forced to unearth uncomfortable “facts” — there are no absolutes in this equation. However, that the FBI was forced to carry out even a superficial investigation is testament to the presence of those — especially women — willing to step outside “respectable” bounds to challenge the politicians and their institutions.

Regardless, the cursory background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh — someone whose record shows a commitment to depriving people of their rights, reinforcing inequality and intensifying the oppression of women — stands in stark contrast to the FBI’s invasive investigations of and unwanted attention toward those who stand in opposition to such things.

The post Why the FBI Used Its Kid Gloves on Brett Kavanaugh appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Anathema: Volume IV Issue IX

Anarchist News - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 12:51

From Anathema

A Philadelphia Anarchist Periodical, October 2018

Volume 4 Issue 6 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

Volume 4 Issue 6 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

In this issue:

  • Summer Against Prisons
  • Stop The Raids
  • State Aids Federal ICE Abductions
  • Collateral Violence of Society
  • The Legacy Of The Green Scare
  • Anti-Anarchist Repression in Canada
  • Amazon Watch
  • Poetry
  • What Went Down
Tags: philadelphianewspaperprintlocalcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Hamilton: Big Landlord Issues Mass Eviction Notices Against Organized Tenants

It's Goin Down - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 10:39

The post Hamilton: Big Landlord Issues Mass Eviction Notices Against Organized Tenants appeared first on It's Going Down.

As the Stoney Creek Towers rent strike enters its sixth month, CLV is starting to lose it.

Over the past several weeks, CLV has escalated tensions with the residents of the Stoney Creek Towers, in a vain effort to isolate and intimidate tenant organizers. They have installed over 100 new surveillance cameras, and have hired private security to patrol each of the four buildings 24/7. These rent-a-cops have harassed tenants, in some cases demanding they show ID to prove that they live in their building. They have also instituted a blatantly illegal ‘NO LOITERING’ policy covering the buildings’ common areas in a transparent attempt to criminalize tenants for holding their weekly lobby meetings, which have been taking place for months without incident.

They’ve attempted to break up these lobby meetings with goonish tactics, and when that has failed, they have stood on the sidelines videotaping their participants. They’ve issued trespass warnings banning HTSN members from the building complexes, and hired a high-priced law firm to draft up a threatening letter warning of further prosecution. They’ve built literal WALLS to seal off the lobbies of two buildings. And they’ve resorted to calling tenants who have only recently joined the strike, yelling at them and demanding that they pay their rent. All of this has been a desperate and ultimately vain effort to crush the rent strike in the lead-up to their AGI hearing, scheduled for November 1st and 2nd. Tenant organizing interrupts business as usual and poses a direct threat to CLV’s profit model. CLV has resorted to desperate, illegal tactics in an effort to quash this threat.

Tenants have held firm in the face of these intimidation efforts. On Wednesday Oct 3rd, CLV employee and Stoney Creek Towers property manager, Oliver Filip, went around the four buildings with a big stack of N5 eviction notices, delivering them to tenants who have continued to participate in lobby meetings. Recipients included 82 year old strike captain, George Direkz, whose alleged offense was ‘loitering’ in the common area of a building he has lived in for nearly a decade. Like their earlier efforts, this pathetic attempt at bullying their tenants will fail.

Tenants at the Stoney Creek Towers have filed an application at the LTB against this campaign of harassment, obstruction and intimidation. They will be seeking a rent abatement for the loss of their lobbies, and will be seeking the maximum fine of $100,000 for CLV’s wanton and repeated infringement of their right to the reasonable enjoyment of their building complex (including the right to organize with their neighbours). These latest N5 notices have only provided the tenants with more evidence to use in their case. Thanks CLV Group!

Give CLV a call and let them know what you think of their efforts to repress tenant organizing:

CLV – Stoney Creek Towers Administrative Office

CLV – Main Office (Ottawa)

Looking for other ways to support the rent strike? Consider making a donation to the East Hamilton Rent Strike Defense Fund:

Categories: News

The Future of Trumpism: A Conversation with Brendan O’Connor

It's Goin Down - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 09:52

The post The Future of Trumpism: A Conversation with Brendan O’Connor appeared first on It's Going Down.

We recently caught up with freelance journalist Brendan O’Connor, after he had returned from covering a far-Right conference in St. Louis that brought together former White House staff with Pizzagate conspiracy peddlers, Alt-Right “race realist” YouTubers, and European MP’s from neo-fascist parties in Germany and Poland. After the conference, which O’Connor wrote about in The Nationwe wanted to pick his brain about the nature and future of Trumpism, as both the aftershocks of the recent tax cuts are starting to be felt and Trump remains mostly unpopular, yet at the same time, globally there continues to be a march towards far-Right populism and fascism, often in the wake of the failure of the Left in power.

Literal fucking blackshirts

— Brendan O'Connor (@_grendan) October 13, 2018

We begin our conversation by essentially surveying the playing field of the far-Right, which has by and large, seen a decrease in street activity, yet an embrace from the political establishment and mass media outlets, such as Fox News. Fundamentally, we ask what the overall outcome will be from the institutionalization and recuperation of white nationalism.

Moreover, we discuss what the consequences, if there will be any, of the increasing negative returns of Trumpism itself. From the inability of Trump to keep jobs in the country, the failure of trade war tactics, the unfolding class war implicit in the tax cuts, to a possible looming economic recession.

Central to this discussion is the question, of which our conversation does not find a clear answer, of what has animated Trumpism the most in the US: a sense of attempting to re-cement the racial caste system of white supremacy, or simply a “buck the system” desire to push back on decades of neoliberalism and the ravages it has brought to poor and working-class communities.

well that didn't take very long, did it

— Brendan O'Connor (@_grendan) October 9, 2018

As the Democratic Party along with its “progressive” social democratic wing attempts to maneuver in the lead up to the midterms, O’Conner correctly argues that hope for the future rests on working-class movements ability to organize and manage their own struggles and plot their collective futures.

More Info: Brendan O’Connor on Twitter and collected works.

Categories: News

Stop Bayou Bridge Pipeline: Call to Disrupt and Protest Bank Recruitment Events

It's Goin Down - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 00:59

The post Stop Bayou Bridge Pipeline: Call to Disrupt and Protest Bank Recruitment Events appeared first on It's Going Down.

Call from L’eau Est La Vie camp to protest banks who are invested in the Bayou Bridge pipeline that are also holding recruitment events in various public locations.

In the next few months several of the banks that are financing the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) are hosting recruitment events at college campuses. The banks use these events to recruit students to internship programs and for jobs in the finance industry. They speak glowingly about what it means to work for their bank, but leave out the part about how they are financing violent companies like ETP and destructive projects like the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

The banks that finance the Bayou Bridge Pipeline are hosting recruitment events at college campuses: We're asking you to DISRUPT these events and tell students that truth about these banks and the violence that they fund. #NoBayouBridge #StrikeDownETP

— Leau Est La Vie Camp (@NoBayouBridge) October 10, 2018

Water Protectors resisting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline have been beaten, tased and charged with felonies. Stand in solidarity with the frontlines by disrupting and demonstrating at these campus recruitment events and telling students the truth about the banks that are bankrolling the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

Get together with members your organization, affinity group or with your friends and organize an action. It can be something ranging from a disruption, a banner drop or simply handing out flyers outside of the event.

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No Bayou Bridge — L'eau Est La Vie

It's been a long, hot summer in the fight against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline here in so-called Southern Louisana. We've resisted in the streets, in the courts, in the swamps and wetlands, and at every stage of construction. This pipeline is owned by the same company that built the Dakota Access Pipeline through Standing Rock. If completed, it will carry the same heavy fracked oil from the Bakken Shale of North Dakota. The same oil whose extraction brought man-camps, meth, human trafficking, and a crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to the Dakotas will flow through the Bayou Bridge Pipeline unless we are able to stop it.Please Follow "L'eau Est La Vie Camp – No Bayou Bridge Pipeline" for updates and ways to get involved.

Posted by L'eau Est La Vie Camp – No Bayou Bridge on Thursday, October 11, 2018

Here are some examples of past disruptions of these kind of events:

Please take a video or pictures if you disrupt one of these events, and then email us at so we can share it on social media!


October 11th: Goldman Sachs Recruiting Event at Arizona State University
BAC 5th Floor Conference Room


October 17th: Wells Fargo Summer Undergraduate Analyst Information Session – Investment Banking, at University of California, Berkeley
Faculty Club – Great Hall


October 25th: Bank of America Sophomore Information Session at Yale University
The Study at Yale, The Gallery
1157 Chapel St, New Haven, CT


December 6th: Bank of America Sophomore Information Session at Indiana University
IU Kelley School of Business, HH 1000
1275 East 10th Street, Bloomington, IN


October 10th: Goldman Sachs Engineering Lobby Day at the University of Maryland
College Park Campus, CSIC Lobby
College Park, Maryland


October 19th: Morgan Stanley Quantitative Finance Presentation
Sheraton Commander
16 Garden St, Cambridge, MA
Mount Vernon Ballroom

October 19th: Morgan Stanley Quantitative Finance Coffee Chats
Sheraton Commander
16 Garden St, Cambridge, MA

October 19th: Goldman Sachs Lunch-in Recruiting Event
1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

October 24th: Goldman Sachs Summer Information Session
The Charles Hotel
1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA


October 10th: Wells Fargo Summer Undergraduate Campus Interviews at University of Minnesota
Carlson School Atrium, Carlson School of Management
321 Nineteenth Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN

October 16th: Wells Fargo Full Time & Summer Interviews at the University of Minnesota
Lind Hall

New Jersey

October 11th: Morgan Stanley Quantitative Finance Coffee Chats at Princeton University
Small World Café
14 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ

October 11th: Goldman Sachs Information Session at Rutgers University
Busch Student Center

October 12th: Goldman Sachs Coding Presentation at Princeton University
138 Lewis Library

October 15th: Goldman Sachs Engineering Recruitment Event at Princeton University
008 Friend Center

New York

November 14th: Bank of America Cornell University Information Session
The Statler Hotel, Carrier Ballroom
130 Statler Drive, Ithaca, NY

North Carolina

November 6th: Bank of America Duke University Information Session
Washington Duke Inn
3001 Cameron Boulevard, Durham, NC

November 28th: Bank of America UNC Chapel Hill Coffee Chats
Hanes Hall, Room 239B
204 E Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill, NC

November 28th: Bank of America UNC Chapel Hill Campus Showcase
The Carolina Inn, Chancellors Ballroom
211 Pittsboro St.
Chapel Hill, NC


October 18th: Morgan Stanley Quantitative Finance Presentation – CMU Pittsburgh Campus
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Scaife Hall, Room 219

October 26th: Goldman Sachs Summer Associate Information Session
Hotel Sofitel Philadelphia
120 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA

Rhode Island

October 16th: Goldman Sachs Coding Event at Brown University
The Career Lab
167 Angell St, Providence, RI 02906


November 1st: Bank of America Information Session at Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University Student Life Center, Meeting Rooms 1&2
310 25th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37240


October 15th: Goldman Sachs Recruitment Event at Rice University
Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University
1900 Rice Boulevard, Houston, TX

October 16th: CitiBank “Rise and Dine” Event at the University of Texas – Austin
Computer Science Department
Atrium (GDC 2.100)

October 24th: Wells Fargo Undergraduate Information Session – Securities Summer Analayst Program at University of Texas, Austin
University of Texas, Austin, UTC 3.104

October 25th: Morgan Stanley Quantitative Finance Coffee Chats at Rice University
Rice Coffeehouse
6100 Main St, Houston, TX 77005


October 16th: Goldman Sachs Recruitment Event at Bringham Young University
Room TMCB 1170 at Bringham Young University


October 30th: Wells Fargo Undergraduate Analyst Targeted Dinner at the University of Virginia
The Downtown Grille
201 W Main St, Charlottesville, VA

November 7th: Bank of America Information Session at the University of Virginia
McIntire School of Commerce
Rouss/Robertson Hall, Room 254

Washington DC

October 17th: Bank of America Georgetown Coffee Chats
Leavey Center, Leavey Program Room
3800 Reservoir Rd NW
Washington, DC

October 17th: Bank of America Georgetown Campus Showcase
Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center, Salon DEF
3800 Reservoir Rd NW, Washington, DC

Categories: News

New York Republican Club Vandalized Before Visit Of Proud Boys Leader Who Argued that Blacks Are “Incompatible” With Whites

It's Goin Down - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 21:53

The post New York Republican Club Vandalized Before Visit Of Proud Boys Leader Who Argued that Blacks Are “Incompatible” With Whites appeared first on It's Going Down.

Augustus Invictus, a speaker at Unite the Right and former leader within the Proud Boys “military division,” Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK), poses with Gavin McInness.

Late Thursday night or early Friday morning, the Metropolitan Republican Club was vandalized in Manhattan, hours before the leader of the far-Right group who’s members marched in Charlottesville, The Proud Boys’ Gavin McInness, was scheduled to speak.

NSFW: @Gavin_McInnes REALLY likes saying the n-word. @proudboysusa #ProudBoys

— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) May 2, 2018

While McInness is banned from Twitter, he posted on Instagram that he was coming to the Republican Club to re-enact the assassination of a Japanese socialist. He stated:

On October 12th, 1960, Otoya Yamaguchi assassinated the head of the Japanese Socialist Party using a samurai sword. On October 12th, 2018, me and @thatjaprican will be re-enacting this inspiring moment at the Metropolitan Club.

He then posted the following photos:

In regards to the actual vandalism, person(s) unknown reportedly broke windows, spray painted anarchist “circle A” logos, glued the locks to the building, and also let behind a communique that read:

Photo via

Gavin McInness’ organization, The Proud Boys, are listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and have a long history of connection with white nationalism and the Alt-Right. McInness once stated:

I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of. I don’t want our culture diluted. We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, white, English-speaking way of life.

McInness has written for white nationalist publications in the past, such as American Renaissance, a white nationalist mainstay which for decades has argued that whites are genetically superior and that black people destroy whatever civilizations they are found within. McInness has echoed these claims, while writing for American Renaissance:

The myth of “diversity is our strength” is contingent on nobody trying it. When we’re all forced to live side by side, we’ll quickly realize we are incompatible, and agree to disagree…Thanks to the Marxist myth of ubiquitous equality, this “mismatch” leaves blacks [worse off] than they would have been had they been left to their own devices.

In 2009, McInness began to write or the paleoconservative magazine Taki’s, after having gotten the position from none other than Richard Spencer, who had just been pushed out as editor of the American Conservative for his white nationalist views. McInness wrote of Spencer:

“he got me the job at this magazine.”

Spencer would leave Taki’s in December of 2009, while McInness would stay on board until the summer of 2017. In the summer of 2016, McInness announced through Taki’s the creation of the Proud Boys. While it was open to all men regardless of sexuality or race, it also demanded that :

[All Proud Boys] must adhere to some strict and rather awkward requirements. Proud Boys of color “are Western Chauvinists and recognize that white men are not the problem,” and “they don’t whine about racism or blame it for their problems.”

But despite opening up the organization to a few token non-whites and queers, the connections between the Alt-Right, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists among the Proud Boys remained strong. Mike Peinovich, a neo-Nazi podcaster stated:

Let’s break down the Proud Boy constituency. Now, I am friends with the New York Proud Boys. I’m good friends with the leader of the New York Proud Boys, [Sal Cipolla]. He’s a good guy. People probably know who he is, it doesn’t matter. He’s a good guy. You know, he’s not going to be TRS for various reasons. He can go back last. Basically Proud Boys is like, look… if you’re a white guy with a white girlfriend or no girlfriend then you’re going to be TRS, you’re going to be [Daily] Stormer… and loving that stuff, and you’re just a hair’s breath away from jumping into the Alt Right and being one of us, being a White Nationalist. The other people have certain hang-ups, it’s personal issues. They’re Jewish, they’re half-white, they’re mixed race or they have a non-White girlfriend of wife.

I’ve gone and hung out with these guys, we’re not at the point where we’re sending people back, whatever, we need to build relationships and things like that. Let me tell you something, you don’t need to be 100% White to not like Jews…I sit down, have beers with the leader of the New York City Proud Boys and all we do is talk about the fucking kikes.

This relationship only grew after clashes in Berkeley with antifascists took place in the spring and summer of 2017, which caused the launch of the “military wing of the Proud Boys” the “Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights,” which was headed by Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman and Augustus Invictus, who would go on to speak in Charlottesville. FOAK attracted a variety of Alt-Right, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists who wanted to fight antifascists. Many of these people would go on to march at Unite the Right in August of 2017, an event which was organized by Jason Kessler, a member of the Proud Boys who had appeared on Gavin McInnes’ internet show numerous times.

After the murder of Heather Heyer, McInness attempted to backtrack from his long association with those on the Alt-Right and within white nationalism, however in a post on the Proud Boys official website before the deadly demonstration, the organization made it’s position clear:

The organizers are correct when they say we have to unite against our common enemy, the far left. This is why we refrain from punching right. This is why we protested the removal of Confederate Statues. There is a war on freedom happening right now in the West and we stand with anyone who wants to fight it. That doesn’t mean the Proud Boys are compelled to do everything the Alt-Right does. Not punching right does not mean following right to every event.

That being said, if a chapter or an individual Proud Boy feels compelled to go, we encourage him to do so. Chapter autonomy is a big part of the group as well as personal liberty.

Free speech is for everyone. This event isn’t ours, which is why our name is not on the flyer, but we wish them nothing but the best.

[Our emphasis.]

Numerous members of the Proud Boys, beyond Jason Kessler, were seen at Unite the Right, including both members of FOAK who wore their patches, as well as rank-n-file members of the Proud Boys, such as Sal Cipolla and Alex Michael Ramos, both of whom video recorded their experiences and the latter of which was later arrested in the savage beating of Deandre Harris.

ALERT: Alex Michael Ramos is an associate of the Atlanta Proud Boys/FOAK and the III% Georgia Security Force. Here are more pics from Cville

— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) August 15, 2017

Moreover, even the official lawyer of the Proud Boys Jason Van Dyke, (who was recently arrested by police), has threaded to sue numerous activist groups and journalists for writing that the Proud Boys are “Alt-Right,” in fact has a long history of involvement in the white nationalist movement. This goes back to when he was arrested in college with a copy of The Turner Diaries which would go on to inspire the Oklahoma City Bombing, to when he sat on a board of the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas along with other Alt-Right leaders and lawyers, which included Richard Spencer, Augustus Invictus, and Mike Peinovich.

But beyond association with the Alt-Right, the Proud Boys lawyer has also made numerous threats of physical violence. As Bernard Media wrote:

Once, Van Dyke tweeted a picture of a noose to a black Twitter user with a caption saying, “look good and hard at this picture you fucking nigger. It’s where I’m going to put your neck.” In another unhinged tweetstorm, Van Dyke let a user know, “your kiddies are quite a nuisance. My advice: run and hide. If I find you, I WILL kill both you and your family.”

Most recently Van Dyke wrote on Facebook:

“I am very close to coming out as a full blown fascist. Why? The 1st Amendment is an outdated right that has been misinterpreted by courts to the point where it has become a liability rather than an asset. It’s either time to make tough new libel laws or repeal the first amendment.”

Other Proud Boys connections to the far-Right remain. Eli “Mosley,” the former leader of the white nationalist group, Identity Evropa is a former member of the Proud Boys. Juan Benetiz, a Proud Boy from southern California worked closely with the Rise Above Movement, four members of which now face charges for carrying out acts of violence in Charlottesville. Jovi Val, a member of the Proud Boys helped organize and attended the second Unite the Right rally alongside neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Numerous members of the Proud Boys have also stated their support of neo-Nazism and white nationalism, such as Levi Romero of Southern California. He stated in a livestreaming video:

“Nazis are my best friends, all they want is nationalism, what’s wrong with that? They want to introduce, fuckin’, good shit for America.”

This in itself says nothing about the culture of violence and fear that the Proud Boys have promoted, on top of the continued acts of violence they have carried out against members of the public and journalists. Over the past six months, members of the Proud Boys have attempted to intimidate the humorist Vic Berger at his home after he made a montage video of McInness saying the “n-word,” and Proud Boys in Pacific Northwest have carried out attacks on an African-American youth at a mall and a man walking on the streets of Portland. Last month in Austin, after rallying in support of Alex Jones, Proud Boy “Tiny” Toese attempted to start a fight with a group of youths who were wearing Obama hats and MLK sweatshirts and had to be restrained by the police. Members of the Proud Boys have also taken a liking to wearing “Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong” shirts, printed by neo-Nazis in the ‘Right Wing Death Squads’ company and now sold on a Proud Boys website. The back of the shirt shows people represented by antifascist logos being thrown to their deaths out of a helicopter.

A shirt supporting the fascist Pinochet and the murder of political dissidents is sold on a Proud Boys website.

This is not the first time that the Metropolitan Republican Club has opened its doors to the far-Right; Ann Counter who regularly shares social media from Alt-Right and neo-Nazi accounts and who cites white nationalist sources from groups like V-Dare (who she also writes for) was spoken there, as well as Swanson frozen food fortune heir and Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, who has not only mainstreamed white nationalist talking points, but watched as a succession of his staff at The Daily Caller have been fired after their links to white nationalism and the Alt-Right have been exposed. Most spectacularly, this has included Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, who covered white nationalist rallies for The Daily Caller and was also a member of the Proud Boys, appearing on Gavin McInness’ internet show multiple times.

The vandalism at the Metropolitan Republican Club is sure to be used by fodder by right wing pundits as another example of the ‘violence’ of ‘the Left,’ while almost certainly they will fail to mention its central cause: the coming together of violent street based far-Right groups and the Republican Party.

PICS: Metropolitan GOP Club vandalized in Manhattan last night. Anarchist symbol scrawled on the doors —>

— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) October 12, 2018

This is a process which is accelerating. Tucker Carlson poses for pictures with members of the Proud Boys and GOP insider Roger Stone. Republican Rep Steve King shares openly Alt-Right and neo-Nazi content on social media. Donald Trump refers to neo-Nazis and the KKK as “fine people” and Tweets conspiracy theories about “white genocide” in South Africa, while his son follows white nationalists on Twitter, and former White House officials speak at conferences alongside Alt-Right “race realists” and neo-fascist politicians.

The goal of far-Right media and Fox News is to create a panic, a crisis; to generalize a feeling that popular social movements from below pose a threat to the average person, often by arguing that social movements are in reality controlled by shadowy, conspiratorial forces, be they Soros or the Clintons. This is why conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones constantly proclaim that “ANTIFA” or “Black Lives Matter” are going to “kill white people” or “Trump supporters,” because they want their listeners to feel like potential victims from an outside menace, only they (or Trump) can protect them from. The most recent example of this played out this week, as footage of protesters marching to remember a black man killed by Portland police has been described by the Right as “ANTIFA taking over the city” in order to attack white automotive drivers.

Tucker Carlson and Gavin McInness.

Poor and working-class people in the US have been attacked on all sides: from neoliberalism, the gig economy, and flat-lining wages coupled with the increasing cost of everything, tax cuts which make the rich richer and attack social programs in the face of growing health care needs and an exploding overdose crisis, a lack of affordable housing and skyrocketing gentrification, mass incarceration and police who kill over 3.5 per day, the increasing ecological crisis which has led to out of control weather, and the growing threat of far-Right violence that has left many people dead and exposed a network of far-Right, militia, and white nationalist groups that were actively attempting to carry out bombings, massacres, and killings before being apprehended.

The question is, will members of the public believe that a few broken windows and graffiti messages are equal to, or worse, than the actual violence, murder, and attempted mass killings that are happening all around us in real time? Will we believe the pundits at Fox News like Tucker Carlson, who are directly tied to these circles when they try and drum up fear and panic? Or, will understand that there is a struggle being carried out against fascism, and we need to pick a side.

Categories: News

Facebook Purges Over 800 Accounts With Millions of Followers; Prominent Conservatives Vanish

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 20:24

Facebook Purges Over 800 Accounts With Millions of Followers; Prominent Conservatives Vanish | 12 Oct 2018 | Just in time for midterms, Facebook [FaCIAbook] has removed 559 pages and 251 accounts they claim have been spreading misinformation and spam. Several of the pages however - some with millions of followers, were pro-Trump conservatives who had spent years cultivating their followings. Facebook has unpublished our page. After five years of building fans Facebook has officially unpublished our page (3.1 million fans), so we can't post on it.

Categories: News

Building the Cooperative Cloud

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 16:53
Link: OPEN 2018 - Building the cooperative cloud

Wouter Tebbens, Co-Founder and President of the Free Knowledge Institute; Chris Croome from UK co-op Webarchitects; Alexandre Bourlier and Sophie Rocher from discussing their work developing a suite of cooperatively owned and managed open source tools to rival Google and Apple; a shared technical infrastructure to enable co-operators to move away from data harvesting monopolies.

Watch more videos from Open Co-op


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Marriott Workers Struggle to Pay Bills, and Credit Union Fees

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 16:49
Link: Marriott Workers Struggle to Pay Bills, and Credit Union Fees

Working as a dishwasher at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Amos Troyah made about $30,000 in a recent 12-month period. Roughly $2,000 of it was spent on an especially frequent expense: fees on his checking and savings accounts at the Marriott Employees’ Federal Credit Union.

The fees came in increments like $6 and $10 — minimum-balance fees, excess-transaction fees, automatic money-transfer fees. On occasion, they were joined by that pooh-bah of personal finance charges, the overdraft fee, at a hefty $35.

Thousands of Marriott workers around the country are on strike, complaining that stagnant wages and unsteady hours have made it difficult to stay afloat. At a time when they are under particular pressure, the credit union may be adding to their struggles. Other employees said Mr. Troyah’s experience with fees was common.

Read the rest at the New York Times


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Why We Should Strike Against Rape Culture

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:43

Switch to paranoid from having fun
Will he use his hands, knife, or a gun
Knuckles are white, wrapped around my mace
Comes from living in a terrorist state.

Donita Sparks, “Can I Run” from L7, Hunger for Stink

I was 18 and he seemed like a possible mentor. On my first day shadowing him on his social work rounds, he drove me to a waterfall in a remote area and killed the engine. He told me his wife didn’t have feelings for him anymore and put his hand on my knee. I froze and didn’t say a word. Where was I going to run? I thought he might kill me.

We sat in the cab of his truck for what felt like an eternity, so that almost 40 years later, the gray colors of the rocks out the window are emblazoned in my memory. I remember that I remained mute as he chattered on, moving his hand up my leg. I didn’t move a muscle. Eventually, he must have given up on me, because he turned the key in the ignition and drove back to the office.

I think I actually thanked him for the ride. I never told a soul about what happened at the waterfall. He did not become a mentor.

I’m almost embarrassed to tell this story at a time of national emergency about rape culture. I did not get raped that day. It is one of a thousand near-misses I have experienced as a result of repeatedly taking the risk of trusting men to act like human beings. These occurrences are the ground of being cis-female, queer, trans, or any other gender or sexual non-conforming person in the contemporary United State. They are the price of living in the “terrorist state” Sparks describes in the song quoted above.

The terrorism imposed by rape culture is not incidental. As Sylvia Federici argues in her magisterial history, Caliban and the Witch, eruptions of violence against women have historically been the hallmarks of transitions in global economic and political regimes. Federici explains that widespread allegations of witchcraft against women during the early modern period helped insurgent mercantile capitalism to dispossess prior modes of knowledge and landholding. In tandem with the transatlantic slave trade and Indigenous dispossession, witchcraft trials and recriminations constituted a regime of violence that cleared the way for the emergence of capitalist enterprise, white supremacy and patriarchy. Sexual and gendered violence are central to global histories of domination and inequality.

The particular sex and gender terror of the current regime distinguishes the emergence of a particular mode of neoliberal capitalism. Rape culture, the war against abortion and birth control, ongoing and state-supported violence against LGBTQ people constitute part of a neoliberal austerity regime that profits from continuous dispossession and mass incarceration.

Along with millions of other people, I watched the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh on September 27. The trauma Ford described is pervasive. In my experience, any sample of undergraduate journals typically include stories of rape. Ask a group of young teenage girls about whether they would accept an open cup at a party, and they will roll their eyes: They know. Rape culture is pervasive.

That day’s testimony brought us, collectively, deeper into the well of unfiltered agony illuminated by Tarana Burke and the Me Too campaign, which started a decade ago. Since the advent of a presidential administration that rose to power in part through its shamelessness in face of accusations of rape and harassment, the #MeToo movement has propelled the trauma of sexual violence into public consciousness.

Ford’s galvanizing testimony before Congress and the world described the stakes of “living in a terrorist state.” Writer adrienne marie brown writes that Ford’s testimony is a victory, transforming forever “the long war against patriarchy and rape culture.”

Since the testimonies, I have been wondering: Where do we go from here? Surely, we cannot unknow what is now clear: the ongoing emergency of rape culture, the way it pervades every single second of life in the current regime. How do we respond collectively to this emergency?

Striking Reproductive Labor

During Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony, I was taken by the expression on his wife’s face. Ashley Estes Kavanaugh did not affect the familiar, dutiful, chastened-but-loving face of the wife of the political perp. Instead, she looked wrecked, like she could barely hold it together. Maybe Kavanaugh’s handlers did not bother to prepare her. Or maybe her expression was a strategy meant to corroborate her husband’s assertion of the harms they had suffered together, the state of their “ruined” family. But her face looked a lot to me like unfiltered agony. What experiences do she and other “women for Trump” conceal — and at what cost to them and to all of us?

Public, unfiltered agony is a powerful political tool. Unfiltered agony has been part of the creation of the #MeToo movement. It is the mode that sexual assault survivors Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher spoke in when they confronted Sen. Jeff Flake in a DC elevator on the day of the congressional hearings. Their conscious and bold display of their agony precipitated Flake’s insistence on an FBI investigation. Expressing our agony and rage is the opposite of shutting the car door and calling “have a nice day” to your would-be predator.

Women and femmes not only suffer the slings and arrows of rape culture; the effective work we are culturally assigned makes it possible to survive and enjoy the livelong day in this regime. Maybe because of the constant threats against us, we learn to be gracious. Our smiles are the lubricant that allows rape culture to proceed, compliance leveraged by the force of the “terrorist state.”

Federici writes, “It is through the day-to-day activities by means of which we produce our existence that we can develop our capacity to cooperate and not only resist our dehumanization, but learn to reconstruct the world as a space of nurturing, creativity and care.”

Federici locates the “reproductive” labor of birthing and caregiving, of feeding and clothing and “fucking” as central to economic production. No labor, she argues, is possible without reproductive labor. Of course, this labor is not exclusively performed by women and/or queers. But, Federici argues, unpaid work is associated with women and naturalized by gender hierarchy. The system that assigns low wages to crucial caregiving work for children, the infirm and elders operates similarly, through racial as well as gender hierarchies. Naturalized inequality silences the million acts of violence that maintain this system.

What if we stopped? Stopped making nice, stopped greasing the wheels with our smiles and affirmations, stopped or slowed any kind of labor: reproductive, effective or productive. We could skip work where it is possible, serve the coffee without a smile where it is not. Teachers could teach-in, communication workers could speak-in during “A Day Out of Rape Culture.” Everyone could join in as they were able, men as well as women, straight folks as well as LGBTQ people.

There are historical precedents for work stoppages in response to injustice. Immigrant rights organizers have convened tremendous strikes during “Day(s) Without Immigrants” since 2006. By conjuring the specter of a day without immigrant labor, these mobilizations have demonstrated the power of immigrant workers and mobilized a broad movement. Politically, these strikes have been part of successful efforts to defeat anti-immigrant legislation at the state and federal level. The work of the Days Without Immigrants has included organizing support for those who faced repercussions for missing work.

Collective action in the form of strikes created the labor movement in the United States and transformed the conditions of productive labor for millions. Collective bargaining secured reforms such as the eight-hour day, workers’ compensation, overtime and health care benefits. The labor movement won important concessions from management, and forced the federal government to mediate unequal relations between workers and owners. But it represented primarily white men, excluding the agricultural and domestic paid labor done by working-class white women and people of color, and pretty much ignoring the question of labor outside of the industrial workplace, caregiving labor in particular.

In a similar vein, the National Organization for Women (NOW) convened the Women’s Strike for Equality in 1970 to draw attention to widespread gendered inequities in pay. Organizers asked women to stop working for a day; around the US, supporters held marches and rallies. While NOW focused on workplace equality, some organizers drew attention to other kinds of injustice: the way newspapers display photos of brides but not grooms, the existence of plenty of men’s (but few women’s) bathrooms in public buildings. This component of the feminist movement succeeded in opening spaces for some women in previously exclusively male domains. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who pioneered legal strategies on behalf of women’s rights in the workplace, benefited from these changes.

In 1983, 12,000 women from all over the world came together in the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice. Camping out in Romulus, New York, participants created an imaginative historical link to the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, a gathering for equal rights and suffrage that took place there in 1848. At the same time, by living collectively and engaging in civil disobedience against the nearby Seneca Army Depot, the Peace Camp brought together reproductive and productive labor. It conjured a mode of politics existing outside of the contours delimited by the regimes of capitalist nation-states.

In contrast to productive labor, which historically takes place during specific hours and in a designated location, caregiving work pervades daily life. Creating “A Day Out of Rape Culture” could not mean that children go unfed or elders unattended, or that the effective labor that makes social life possible would stop. As adrienne marie brown points out, the ongoing crisis of our times makes holding one another more important than ever. Our work, then, is to strike against rape culture while simultaneously creating institutions of collective support.

The author thanks Benjamin Balthaser, Wendy Kozol, Maureen Ryan and the Center for 21st Century Studies for reading, discussing and time to think.

The post Why We Should Strike Against Rape Culture appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

'Vast Blind Spot': IPCC Accused of Ignoring 'Decades Long' Fossil Fuel Misinformation Campaign on Climate

deSmog - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:39
Read time: 6 minsCharles Koch

The United Nations (UN) climate science panel is being accused of ignoring research into fossil fuel-funded misinformation campaigns that have been key to holding back action on global warming.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — an assessment of more than 6,000 research papers — found global warming caused largely by fossil fuel burning would have severe impacts even if limited to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

Described by the IPCC as “one of the most important climate change reports ever published,” the report is designed to inform policy makers and the public around the world.

But several researchers are angry the report did not take account of academic research into the “decades-long misinformation campaign” funded and promoted by fossil fuel interests and so-called “free market” conservative think tanks that has been a major brake on progress.

Tags: IPCCsr15john cookJustin FarrellRiley Dunlap#ExxonKnewunited nations
Categories: News

New Internet Bill of Rights Introduced in Wake of Digital Privacy Breaches

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:23

Facebook and Google recently admitted major privacy breaches. Facebook says the personal information of nearly 50 million users was exposed after an online attack. Meanwhile, Google is shutting down its social network Google Plus after revelations of a data breach that exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users. The breach was discovered in March but was not disclosed to the public. We speak to Rep. Ro Khanna who recently introduced an Internet Bill of Rights.


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna. I want to switch gears from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, to talk about Amazon, which recently became the country’s second $1 trillion company. On October 2nd, a video went viral showing an Amazon senior vice president telling hundreds of Amazon workers the company’s minimum wage was being increased to $15 an hour.

UKNOWN: [inaudible] that we are also establishing a new Amazon minimum wage of $15 an hour.

EMPLOYEES: [cheers]

UNKNOWN: [inaudible]

AMY GOODMAN: Amazon’s embrace of a $15 an hour minimum wage made headlines, was praised by many in Washington and all over the country. But it turns out Amazon’s new pay structure might result in lower take-home compensation for many workers because Amazon is removing some incentive-based bonuses and stock options. Congressman Ro Khanna, you’re the author of the Stop BEZOS Act in Congress. Can you talk about this latest news?

REP. RO KHANNA: Sure. Well, Senator Bernie Sanders and I, about four weeks ago, introduced the Stop BEZOS Act, which was very simple. We said if you’re working at a billion-dollar company and you’re not making enough to be able to afford food and you’re reliant on public benefits like food stamps, then the taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for that; the company should be paying for that. And we publicly called on Jeff Bezos to raise wages to $15, to look to the model of Henry Ford who did that in 1914.

Jeff Bezos, to our surprise and to his credit, responded. He raised wages to $15. I think he saw all of these Amazon workers who courageously were testifying. Our bill, by the way, was panned by all of the Beltway economists, but it did put pressure on Bezos and I do think 350,000 people are going to get a raise. Now, you are correct that they have taken away some of the bonuses and grants to stock options. I don’t think they should have done that. I do think that’s going to hurt a small number of workers, and I hope they’ll reconsider that. But in the aggregate, this is a huge raise for many, many workers, and my hope is Walmart, McDonald’s and other industries will follow.

AMY GOODMAN: The salary change will not apply to contract workers. That’s right? Just salary workers. The majority of Amazon workers are contract.

REP. RO KHANNA: That is correct. It applies to part-time workers, it applies to about 350,000 workers but it does not apply to contract workers. And you raise an excellent point: contract workers are being underpaid, not just at Amazon, but many places in my district in Silicon Valley where they are not being able to unionize and they’re not getting benefits, and that is a huge issue for our society.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Khanna, I also want to ask you about the fallout from last week’s Facebook data breach announcement, which continues as the company is rushing to reassure users that there is no evidence that hackers were able to access third-party apps such as Instagram, Spotify or The New York Times, which many people access via their Facebook accounts. The breach may have affected up to 50 million users. And we should point out you are a congressmember from California, from Silicon Valley.

REP. RO KHANNA: Absolutely. This is why I have called for an Internet Bill of Rights. I just released it with Tim Berners-Lee, who was the founder of the world wide web, with some very simple principles. That people should know what is happening to their data. People should be notified if there is a breach. People should have the right to consent before their data is collected. It has been a year since the Cambridge Analytica—or six months since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a year since the Equifax scandal and now there are new breaches with Facebook, with Google. It is time that the Congress do something. We have laid out a ten-part principles for rights for folks online and I believe this has to be a top priority for the next Congress.

AMY GOODMAN: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google will shut down its social network, Google+, after revelations of a data breach that exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users. The breach was discovered in March but was not disclosed to the public. An internal Google memo showed executives were worried they’d face new regulations if news of the data breach got out. Congressmember Khanna?

*REP. RO KHANNA: Well, that’s unacceptable, and it’s why we need an Internet Bill of Rights. One of the bill of rights is that you have to be notified in a timely manner, within 24 to 48 hours. And if the breach were discovered in March, people would have, by law, been required to be notified in March. And they would have known where their data was sent and what that data was used for. Right now, there are no laws. Obviously, Google should have acted more responsibly, but I also blame the United States Congress, because we have not required these laws. Europe has, with the GDPR, and it’s time that the United States Congress act to protect people online.

AMY GOODMAN: Ro Khanna, we want to thank you for being with us, Democratic congressmember from California. He has called for congressional hearings into possible Saudi complicity in the disappearance and the probable murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He has been a leading critic of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He has also introduced the Internet Bill of Rights.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the remarkable story of Henrietta Lacks. Johns Hopkins University has just named a building for her. We will speak with her grandson and with the woman who made—her granddaughter—and the woman who made her story known around the world, Rebecca Skloot, who wrote the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Stay with us.

The post New Internet Bill of Rights Introduced in Wake of Digital Privacy Breaches appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Trump Rejects Calls to Stop Saudi Arms Sales After Journalist’s Disappearance

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 15:15

President Donald Trump is rejecting calls to cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the disappearance and probable murder of the Saudi-born Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Washington Post is reporting the Turkish government told US officials it has audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was killed last week inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Officials say the recordings confirm that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi after he walked into the consulate on October 2 before killing him and dismembering his body. We speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic Congressmember from California. He is calling for congressional hearings into Khashoggi’s disappearance. Khanna has been a leading critic of US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

We begin today’s show with the shocking disappearance and probable murder of the Saudi-born Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Washington Post is reporting the Turkish government told U.S. officials it has audio and video evidence that Khashoggi—in English, Jamal Khashoggi–was killed last week inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Officials say the recordings confirm that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi as he walked into the consulate on October 2nd before killing him and dismembering his body. The full audio and video recordings have not yet been released. One person with knowledge of the audio recording told The Washington Post “You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

Khashoggi had written critically about the Saudi government and the Saudi crown prince, MBS—Mohammed bin Salman. He fled Saudi Arabia last year and had been living in Virginia. The Washington Post has also reported that based on U.S. intelligence intercepts, the crown prince had directly ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. The Turkish government has accused Saudi Arabia of flying two planes into Turkey, carrying a 15-man assassination squad to carry out the murder.

One of the Saudi men was reportedly a forensic expert known for pioneering rapid and mobile autopsies. Turkish officials say the men used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body before smuggling body parts out of the consulate. According to The Washington Post, at least seven of the other 15 Saudi men have ties to the Saudi military. The planes then left Istanbul within eight hours of Khashoggi entering the consulate.

Khashoggi had entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul seeking a document he needed to get married. His fiancée waited for him outside the building, but he never came back out. They were supposed to get married the next day. In Washington, a growing number of lawmakers are demanding the United States halt weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over the incident, but on Thursday, Trump rejected the idea.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP: I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion, which is an all-time record, and letting Russia have that money and letting China have that money. Because all they’re going to do is say, “That’s OK, we don’t have to buy it from Boeing, we don’t have to buy it from Lockheed, we don’t have to buy it from Raytheon and all these great companies. We’ll buy it from Russia. We’ll buy it from China.” So what good does that do us? There are other things we can do.

REPORTER: Well, do you think they should pay a price, if it turns out that the Saudis—

PRES. DONALD TRUMP: Yeah. There will be something that has to take place. First I want to find out what happened, and we’re looking. Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen. Is that right, or is that not?

REPORTER: Permanent resident.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP: He’s a permanent resident, OK. We don’t like it, John. We don’t like it. And we don’t like it even a little bit. But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternatives, two very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me.

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Washington, D.C., where we are joined by Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California, calling for congressional hearings into possible Saudi complicity in the disappearance and the possible murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, or Khashoggi in Arabic. Congressmember Khanna has been one of the most vocal critics on Capitol Hill of the U.S.-backed Saudi-led war in Yemen. Congressmember Khanna, welcome back to Democracy Now! What is the latest you understand has happened to the Washington Postcolumnist Jamal Khashoggi?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, it’s appalling. I don’t think there has been any precedent for someone, a journalist, being taken to a consulate, going to a consulate and being murdered. And we don’t know all the facts. We need to find out all of the facts. But this is a pattern with Saudi Arabia of barbarity. And they have been doing this in Yemen, where almost 16,000 civilians have been killed. Many of those civilians have been killed with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon bombs. And this is why many of us on Capitol Hill want to stop any arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk about the Yemen war in a minute, the U.S.-backed Yemen war.
But on this issue of Khashoggi—Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, when pushed on is the Pentagon investigating this, he said something like, “Intellectually.” Donald Trump, obviously, the famous tweeter, had not tweeted almost anything on this in the days after Khashoggi’s disappearance. Can you talk about exactly what the U.S. relationship is with Saudi Arabia? Also, of course, it implicates Jared Kushner, the senior advisor, President Trump’s son-in-law, very close to Mohammed bin Salman.

And this information The Washington Post put out about they already had wanted to get Khashoggi, to lure him back to Saudi Arabia for, well, who knows what they wanted to do with him, to lure him from Saudi Arabia. Also this information that he had gone to the Saudi consulate, the embassy in Washington, but they told him he had to go to Istanbul. He goes to Istanbul, to the consulate there, and they tell him, fine, they’re going to give him that marriage document he needed, but he had to come back in a week.

So he goes to London, participates in a meeting last week, and goes back, which presumably is for them to prepare and to bring these two planes in with the forensic expert and the military intelligence people. And at least, according to these latest reports, if this is true, with the video and audio evidence, he was murdered and dismembered within a few hours, and then the planes flew out.

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, it’s brutal. And what we also know are reports that U.S. intelligence agencies may have been aware that Khashoggi’s life was going to be at risk. And Mark Pocan and I have written calling for the declassification of information that our intelligence agencies had about any threats to Khashoggi’s life. Because as you know, it’s against the law for us not to have warned a resident, a permanent resident of the United States, about a possible threat to his life, and there are many unanswered questions about what the United States government knew, why we didn’t give advanced warning if we did have any information.

And of course, as you alluded to, Kushner has been pushing since he has been in the administration for a closer tie to the Saudis, largely because he sees the Saudis as facilitating a peace deal, from his perspective, with Israel. And they’ve really had carte blanche under the Trump administration to do what they want in Yemen. And now I think the administration is embarrassed when they see the brutality that the Saudis are capable of in this case.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to President Trump speaking Thursday about calls to cut off Saudi arms sales.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP: —don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that is being poured into our country. I know they’re talking about different kinds of sanctions, but they are spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs. I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States. Because you know what they’re going to do? They are going to take that money and spend it in Russia or China or someplace else. So I think there are other ways. If it turns out to be as bad as it might be, there are certainly other ways of handling the situation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ro Khanna, you’re a Democratic member of the House of Representatives. Trump says they’re not cutting off military weapons sales. Of course, the military weapons contractors in the United States benefit enormously, and if you could maybe name some of those that do? But what does the House of Representatives have the power to do?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, we and the Senate can cut off these arms sales. And it’s very important that the President is peddling falsehoods and to correct the record. It’s not as if Saudi Arabia can go and suddenly buy aircrafts or tanks from Russia; it would take decades for them to switch. They are so dependent on U.S. technology. It would be as if you had an iPhone and an Apple computer; suddenly you couldn’t go switch to Windows. These things aren’t transferable. And the president knows this. He knows that if we were to cut off the arms sales, the Saudis wouldn’t be able to quickly switch to Russia or China, and it would really hurt their efforts in Yemen. And the reality is, it is Lockheed Martin, Raytheon’s bombs that are being found in Yemen, responsible for the deaths of children and women.

So first, the president is wrong that the Saudis could switch. Second, $100 billion in the context of a $20 trillion economy is not a significant detriment to the United States. I don’t think there’s a single American citizen who would say that we should be aiding the Saudis and killing women and children for $100 billion. That that’s a price worth paying.

AMY GOODMAN: In August, the Twitter account for Canada’s Foreign Ministry tweeted, “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.” That was a tweet.

Within six hours of the tweet, Canada’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia was barred from returning to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi ambassador to Canada was recalled, new trade with Canada was halted, it was ordered to withdraw Saudi investment in Canada, more than 8,300 Saudi post-secondary students were told to pull out of Canada, flights to Canada by the Saudi-owned airline were canceled. This is for one tweet urging the Saudi Arabian government to release some of the women driver activists.

REP. RO KHANNA: This is a pattern of brutality. It is a pattern of no concern for human rights. And my concern, representing Silicon Valley, is that the Saudis have had, as you know, a huge influence in Silicon Valley. They’re trying to put a foothold. They’re invested in Uber. They have this Davos in the Desert conference where they invite tech leaders. The tech community needs to be very clear that they are not going to take Saudi money and Saudi investment. And this has to be not just Congress stopping arms sales, but the United States technology and investment community cutting off ties with the Saudis. I am pleased that Uber has said they’re not going to participate in the conference, and Sam Altman from Y Combinator recently said that. And I hope others will follow their lead.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk about that. If people haven’t heard of it—maybe people haven’t until now—many journalists and media organizations are beginning to pull out of this high-profile conference in Saudi Arabia that’s scheduled for next week following the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. But the Future Investment Initiative conference, which is scheduled for the 23rd to the 25th of October, still has a long roster of high-level attendees including executive chair of Colony Capital, Thomas Barrack; global markets editor for Fox Business, Maria Bartiromo; United States General David Petraeus; president of the World Bank, Jim Kong Kim; U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin; Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman; BlackRock CEO Larry Fink; Raytheon Company CEO Thomas Kennedy. I think The New York Times has pulled out. There are other top journalists or TV personalities who are also going. Well, what about even the government officials? Can Congress say no to government officials going, like Steven Mnuchin?

REP. RO KHANNA: I don’t know if Congress has the authority to prevent the secretary of treasury from going. We can certainly write to him and urge him not to go, and I think common sense on his part should lead him to cancel the trip.

Look, it’s not a controversial statement for the United States to stand up for an American resident who is engaged in the freedom of press, the freedom of expression and is being brutally murdered at a consulate, a place that is supposed to be safe. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. And I was encouraged that even Senator Bob Corker raised the question that is on so many minds—”Why do we need Saudi Arabia?”

Saudi Arabia is overestimating their strategic importance to the United States, and I think this incident has forced a re-examination. And when we look deeper, we’re going to see the extraordinary barbarity and the killing of civilians that the Saudi government has been engaged in, in Yemen.

AMY GOODMAN: Trump just said “The king needs us.” But you have this growing number of Republicans like Lindsey Graham who said if this is proven, what happened to Khashoggi, there would be hell to pay. As you mentioned, there’s Corker. Rand Paul had said some things. I think even Marco Rubio. So what would this take to get a vote in Congress in both houses?

REP. RO KHANNA: I think we’re building towards that. I think you’ve seen bipartisan support growing. Several things—one, we need to get more of the facts. I think it is an encouraging development that Turkey has video and audio evidence of what took place, and I think that will be very compelling if there is evidence that clearly links the killing to the Saudi government.

Second, we need to look at what the U.S. government knew, as I raised earlier, because if there is evidence that we were somehow sitting on information and didn’t share it, that is a bombshell and that will influence people’s opinion. But you see a growing sense among my colleagues that the relationship with the Saudis is not consistent with our values and isn’t in our national interest. That a few hundred billion dollars is not worth an entanglement in further wars, in complicity in human rights abuses.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go very quickly to Yemen. Last month, you introduced a resolution invoking the 1973 War Powers Act declaring Congress never authorized U.S. support for the coalition in Yemen. Even during the Obama years, the U.S. was providing weapons support for the Saudi-UAE attack on Yemen that has caused the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world. But President Trump went a step further, pulled back any restrictions on these weapons and refueling. What happened to your resolution and will you be reintroducing it?

REP. RO KHANNA: We had introduced this resolution, Amy, as you know, about a year and a half ago, and very few people had gotten on board. You were of course ahead of the curve and really have been sounding the alarm in Yemen, one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes. I am encouraged that we reintroduced this about four weeks ago and we now have Steny Hoyer, who is the number two person in the House, and the chair of the—the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the ranking member of the Rules Committee, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee all on board with the resolution to stop any aid in the Saudi bombing of Yemen.

And the reason is they have seen the same reports—the bus bombings killing children and women, the fact that Lockheed Martin and Raytheon’s bombs have been found in Yemen, responsible for the deaths of children. This is something that has stirred the conscience of the United States Congress, and I am actually quite optimistic that certainly if we take back the House of Representatives, we will be able to pass this. And we may even be able to pass this in the lame duck, given the Khashoggi case and given the changing opinion among Republicans.

AMY GOODMAN: Ro Khanna, I want to ask you to stay with us. I want to ask you about Amazon, Facebook and your Internet Bill of Rights. Ro Khanna is a Democratic congressman from California, has called for congressional hearings into possible Saudi complicity with the disappearance and probable murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He has been a leading critic of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. We will be back with him in 30 seconds.

The post Trump Rejects Calls to Stop Saudi Arms Sales After Journalist’s Disappearance appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Trump’s Best Court Ever

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 14:51

The post Trump’s Best Court Ever appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Drug Makers Play the Patent Game to Lock in Prices, Block Competitors

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 14:47

David Herzberg was alarmed when he heard that Richard Sackler, former chairman of opioid giant Purdue Pharma, was listed as an inventor on a new patent for an opioid addiction treatment.

Patent No. 9861628 is for a fast-dissolving wafer containing buprenorphine, a generic drug that has been around since the 1970s. Herzberg, a historian who focuses on the opioid epidemic and the history of prescription drugs, said he fears the patent could keep prices high and make it more difficult for poor people with addiction to get treatment.

“It’s hard not to have that reaction of, like … these vultures,” said Herzberg, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo.

James Doyle, vice president and general counsel of Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, the Purdue subsidiary that holds the patent, said in an email statement that the company does not have a developed or approved product and “therefore no money has been made from this technology.”

“The invention behind the buprenorphine patent in question was developed more than a dozen years ago,” he wrote. “If a product is developed under this patent, it will not be commercialized for profit.”

Yet, the patenting of a small change in how an existing drug is made or taken by patients is part of a tried-and-true pharmaceutical industry strategy of enveloping products with a series of protective patents.

Drug companies typically have less than 10 years of exclusive rights once a drug hits the marketplace. They can extend their monopolies by layering in secondary patents, using tactics critics call “evergreening” or “product-hopping.”

Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, a patent law expert at Stanford University, said the pharmaceutical industry gets a greater financial return from its patent strategy than that of any other industry.

AztraZeneca in 2001 famously fended off generic versions of its blockbuster heartburn medicine Prilosec by patenting a tweaked version of the drug and calling it Nexium. When Abbott Laboratories faced multiple generic lawsuits over its big moneymaker Tricor, a decades-old cholesterol drug, it lowered the dosage and changed it from a tablet to a capsule to win a new patent.

And Forest Laboratories stopped selling its Alzheimer’s disease drug Namenda in 2014 after reformulating and patenting Namenda XR to be taken once a day instead of twice.

Another common strategy is to create what Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb calls “patent thickets,” claiming multiple patents for a single drug to build protection from competitors. AbbVie’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira has gained more than 100 patents, for example.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awards patents when an innovation meets the minimum threshold of being new and non-obvious. Secondary patents are routinely granted to established drugs when an improvement is made, such as making it a once-a-day pill instead of twice a day, said Kristina Acri, an economist and international intellectual property expert at the Fraser Institute and Colorado College.

“Is there a better way? Maybe, but that’s not what we’re doing,” Acri said.

The controversial patent that Sackler and five co-inventors obtained is widely known as a “continuation patent.” (The original patent application for the wafer was filed in August 2007.)

Continuation patents do not necessarily extend the patent life of a drug, but they can have other uses. In 2016, Rhodes filed a lawsuit against Indivior alleging patent infringement.

Indivior, formerly part of Reckitt Benckiser, sells a film version of the popular addiction treatment drug Suboxone that is placed under the tongue — an oral medicine similar to what Rhodes has patented. Indivior’s comes in a lime flavor.

Indivior’s film, which federal regulators approved in 2010, dominates the market with a 54 percent average market share, according to the company’s most recent financial report. And the company has vigorously fought rivals, including filing lawsuits against firms such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which sought approval to manufacture generic versions. Indivior declined to comment.

The Rhodes Pharmaceuticals version would be a wafer that melts quickly in the mouth. The inventors list potential flavors including mint, raspberry, licorice, orange and caramel, according to the patent.

For opioid historian Herzberg, the patent battles between companies like Rhodes and Indivior are “absolute madness.”

Decisions on what is available on the market to treat people with addiction should be based on what is the best way to treat the people who have the problem, he said.

Patent battles, Herzberg said, are “not how you want drug policy getting made.”

Attempts to change the patent system have intensified over the past decade as prices of prescription drugs continue to climb.

In 2011, President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act, which included the creation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The PTAB is an alternative to using the cumbersome U.S. court system to challenge weak patents. Generic drug manufacturers have used the board’s “inter partes review” process and overturned 43 percent of the patents they challenged, according to recent research.

Critics of the administrative process, including the pharmaceutical industry trade group PhRMA, said it creates “significant business uncertainty for biopharmaceutical companies.” Often companies have to defend their products twice — both in the courts as well as before the PTAB, said Nicole Longo, PhRMA’s director of public affairs.

Drug giant Allergan attempted to overcome the PTAB’s review process by arguing that the patent couldn’t be challenged at the review board because they sold the patent to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which had sovereign immunity. A federal appeals court ruled this summer that Allergan could not shield its patents from the PTAB review this way.

This year, several members of Congress proposed bills that would unwind or limit changes made by the America Invents Act, though nothing is likely to happen before the midterm elections. The STRONGER Patents Act, introduced in both the House and Senate, would weaken the PTAB board by aligning its claims standards with what has been established by court rulings.

KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

The post Drug Makers Play the Patent Game to Lock in Prices, Block Competitors appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Ben Carson Wants HUD to Stop Fighting Housing Segregation

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 14:18
This article was published by

Today, a child born to a low-income family and raised in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans will have beaten the odds if they live past age 67. They can also expect to make just $20,000 a year by the time they reach their thirties.

Just a 20-minute drive away, in the Uptown/Carrollton neighborhoods near Tulane and Loyola Universities, that same child could expect to live 20 years longer and take home roughly $53,000 more in annual salary.

These communities are just six miles apart, yet designed and resourced in such a way that there’s a world of difference between the lives their residents can hope to have. Being raised in different neighborhoods can determine everything from the jobs you have access to, the schools your kids attend, and the groceries you can buy.

In 2015, the Obama administration created the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to fix this disparity. But Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has moved to indefinitely delay implementation and is proposing drastic changes that analysts predict will all but gut its efficacy.

Why This Matters

While the idea of furthering fair housing appears in the 1968 Fair Housing Act, it wasn’t meaningfully enforced over the last half century. So under the 2015 rule, communities that receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development are required to develop action plans to not only remedy their existing racial and ethnic segregation and neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, but to also ensure that every U.S. community is equipped with the resources and opportunities to meet their residents’ housing needs.

As nationwide data released this month grimly reinforced, the neighborhood or ZIP code you grow up in, more than ever, has a dramatic impact on whether you earn more or less than your parents did. Researchers found this impact is particularly acute for black boys who, regardless of their families’ income, face the worst outlook for escaping poverty, building wealth, and doing better than their parents.

This is merely one aspect of a racial wealth gap that has persisted since the formal founding of this nation. Today, a typical black family with an income of $50,000 lives in a poorer neighborhood than a white family earning $20,000. Government-sponsored public policies intentionally crafted to hold back people of color and cut off their communities from wealth-building opportunities, through practices like segregation and redlining, continue to drive these disparities.

What the Rule Was Starting to Do, Before HUD Attacked It

The 2015 rule was meant to begin addressing this man-made problem. And early results were promising. As Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Law and Urban Planning, Justin Steil, pointed out, several municipalities were beginning to create meaningful, measurable goals as part of the new rule.

For example, New Orleans committed to developing 400 units of affordable housing in Tremé, a neighborhood near the French Quarter that is quickly gentrifying, and Seattle proposed expanding its housing affordability requirements into new areas of the city.

Other regions’ goals included increasing access to existing opportunities, such as Chester County, Pennsylvania, which committed to building 200 affordable housing units in neighborhoods already well-resourced with good jobs, quality education programs and health care services, as well as access to other essential amenities such as grocery stores, parks, and community centers. Paramount, California proposed changing its zoning codes to increase housing accessibility for people with disabilities. Wilmington, North Carolina’s goals prioritized workforce development via job training and placement programs tailored to its local economy.

Dozens of communities had submitted plans under the rule. And yet HUD suddenly and without warning removed a key assessment tool from its website in May that communities were using to shape their goals.

Carson cites a “high failure rate” of analyses submitted by communities among his reasons for delaying the rule, but that justification isn’t valid. Of the 49 analyses that communities submitted to HUD between 2015 and 2018, 65 percent were accepted immediately. The remaining 35 percent were returned to communities with detailed guidance about how to fix the problems; almost all have since been corrected, re-submitted, and accepted by HUD.

This degree of success is remarkable considering the rule was being newly implemented. And, contrary to Carson’s reasoning, the fact that a few of the initial submissions were sent back to communities for corrections signals that the new rule’s standards are exacting and meaningful, and should not be interpreted as evidence of failure.

Indefinitely suspending the rule and eliminating the federal assessment tools that have been helping local communities fight segregation as well as identify, increase and ensure fair housing opportunities for all means HUD has brought this long-overdue and much-needed progress to a halt.

What Now?

America continues to grapple with the ongoing byproducts of state-sanctioned separate and unequal neighborhoods that set their residents on very disparate and divergent achievement paths. The rule that the Trump and Carson HUD aim to derail and ultimately demolish is designed to tear down those longstanding structural barriers and shrink the ever-widening gap between the haves and have nots.

It is important to keep in mind that the rule is not only focused on stopping segregation and discrimination but also on actively investing in neighborhoods where people currently live so that those communities are well resourced. The bottom line is that people should not be forced to move away from their community and existing social networks in order to access the basic supports necessary to have a good life.

The department is required to accept public comments until Oct. 15 about these proposed changes. Any member of the public — individuals, organizations, or community groups — can submit comments and let their voices be heard on the importance and fate of this equity tool.

Editor’s note: The public can submit comments on the proposed rule in the Federal Register. For additional instructions, see the guide produced by the Center for Effective Government.

The post Ben Carson Wants HUD to Stop Fighting Housing Segregation appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Youth Living in Settlements at US Border Suffer Poverty and Lack of Health Care

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 14:11

Recent media stories from the U.S.-Mexico border about immigration have largely missed the daily struggle of families and children in U.S. communities called “colonias.”

Colonias line both sides of the border, including the southern counties of Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona.

On the U.S. side, most colonias were established as informal settlements by Latino agricultural workers within the past 70 years, facilitated by loose land regulation in “regulation free zones.”

Over time, many colonia settlements grew to sizable communities – many with hundreds of housing units and residents.

These makeshift settlements are primarily located on the periphery of larger border towns. According to estimates, roughly half a million people live in colonias along the Texas piece of the U.S.-Mexico border alone. There are, in fact, as many as 2,000 colonias in the four border states, of which the vast majority are in Texas.

They have some of the highest poverty rates in the nation. Homes in these communities commonly lack reliable electricity and internet access. Drinkable water is often only available from open-air pipes.

While nearly exclusively of Latino origin, almost three-quarters of the people living in Texas colonias hold U.S. citizenship and two-thirds are U.S.-born.

For more than a decade, I have routinely visited the border region and worked in collaboration with a local health and social service agency to help Latino families address violence, alcohol use, teen pregnancy and inadequate health care in their communities. As the director of the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University, I coordinate the border-focused work on Mexican-American health and social welfare issues.

Life in Las Colonias

The living conditions in border colonias are mostly dire. Many of these small towns on the U.S. side of the border lack the most basic public services and utilities such as paved roads and adequate drainage.

According to Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas data, families in 28 percent of U.S. border colonias have no access to indoor toilets. Instead, they use outhouses.

Staying healthy is also a challenge. According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, border counties with high concentrations of colonia settlements are underserved by clinics and hospitals, and are insufficiently covered by primary and specialty care providers. Arranging transportation to the few local health care centers in larger surrounding towns is difficult, and over one-third of Texas border county residents under age 65 have no health insurance.

As a result, cancer, diabetes, pneumonia, liver disease and unintentional injuries are common along the U.S.-Mexico border and frequently result in serious disease and premature death.

Colonia Youth

More than half of the population is under the age of 30 in the colonias. Poverty, health disparities and lack of opportunity are hitting these younger people particularly hard.

Disadvantage among Latino adolescents in colonia communities does not exclusively manifest itself as poverty or poor health. Disadvantage among colonia youth includes being shut out of opportunities to acquire skills and preparation for success and good health later in life.

Research suggests that young people’s experience of adversity early on or continuously throughout childhood sets the stage for long-term inequality.

Adverse childhood experiences resulting in stress and trauma are common among children and adolescents growing up in colonias. In these communities, teen pregnancy and birth rates are among the highest in the country, childhood obesity is common, and access to all levels of education and employment is limited.

Many colonia adolescents fail to complete high school. They eke out a living in the informal sector, for example as agricultural workers, vendors or construction workers, and fall short of achieving their potential and moving up the ladder.

Ways Forward

Linking families to health care services and helping parents promote adolescent health and well-being is an effective way to creating opportunities for colonia youth.

This is part of the work I’ve done with a variety of organizations in the region. We collaborated with local community health workers in the Rio Grande Valley to deliver the Families Talking Together intervention. It strengthens family bonds, supports parent-adolescent communication about too early sex, and links families to health care. It has reached more than 600 Latino families in colonias along the South Texas border between 2015 and 2018.

What we learned during the project is that families along the border want the same things as families across the U.S.: opportunities for economic prosperity, access to health care and education for themselves and their children, and a shot at the American dream.

Disclosure: Vincent Guilamo-Ramos receives funding from NIAAA. He is affiliated with the Power to Decide and the Latino Commission on AIDS.

The post Youth Living in Settlements at US Border Suffer Poverty and Lack of Health Care appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Women of Color Are Running for Office in Record Numbers

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 13:55

White men make up only a third of the United States population, but they represented two thirds of political candidates and elected officeholders at all levels of government from 2012 to 2016.

The upcoming midterm elections could change all that.

The number of women running for office at all levels of government in 2018 has increased dramatically compared to recent election cycles, according to a new analysis by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, a group dedicated to building a political system that reflects constituents of diverse backgrounds. Women of color have made the greatest gains, with the number of women of color running for both Congress and state legislative seats up 75 percent from 2012.

Democrats are largely responsible for the demographic shift, and the party’s slate of candidates for Congress is beginning to reflect the actual demographics of the country after decades of white male political dominance. The number of Democratic women who won congressional primaries this year is up 46 percent from 2012, and white men represent less than half (41 percent) of all Democrats running for Congress. Almost all of the women of color running for Congress are Democrats.

The number of Democratic women running for state governor positions increased by 67 percent from 2012, while the number of Democratic candidates of color running for governor has tripled. Meanwhile, the number of candidates of color running for governor on Republican tickets decreased, leaving the pool of Republican candidates almost exclusively white and male.

Overall, the number of white men running for Congress has decreased by 13 percent since 2012, and the number running for state legislatures is down 12 percent, according to the report. The number of men of color running for Congress and state legislative seats increased by 8 and 13 percent, respectively.

The demographic shifts come after years of bitter partisan disputes over voter suppression and racial gerrymandering, particularly in the South and states where Republicans have control of the legislature. The increases in women and candidates of color running for office also coincides with a growing backlash against the Trump administration and a wave of progressive candidates that have challenged mainstream Democrats from the left.

“Many of the issues that we hear about in the news, and what Trump is and isn’t doing [about them] — they directly and disproportionately impact women and communities of color,” said Stefanie Brown James, co-founder of Collective PAC, a political action committee supporting Black political candidates nationwide.

However, efforts were underway to increase the number of Black women and women of color on the ballot well before Trump took office. James said Black women represent a loyal voting base for Democratic and progressive candidates, but they traditionally receive the least amount of funding and support when they launch their own campaigns. Now, political strategists are trying to close the gap by raising campaign funds for women of color and building support networks between their campaigns.

“Women and Black women especially felt as though they didn’t have support to build the infrastructure necessary for running for office,” James said. “Therefore, with them being able to understand and feel that they have the support and seeing other Black women successfully running, I think that has played a tremendous role in increasing the number of Black women running for office.”

Jamaa Bickley-King, director of the New Virginia Majority, a group building power for working class communities of color in Virginia, said the increase in women of color running for office is the result of funders and new political actors such as Collective PAC and Black PAC dedicating resources to that very goal.

“While I am pleased with the increases, I would like to see more people of color — especially women of color — who are running for office to get more resourcing and support,” Bickley-King said in an email. “The same financial gaps in resourcing that plague people of color in getting start-up funding for companies and other projects exists in greater numbers and greater deficits in political fundraising.”

The number of women running for Congress is up 44 percent overall since 2012, with a 22 percent increase in Republican women and 25 percent increase in independent women running this year, according to the Reflective Democracy Campaign. Of the 43 states examined by the group, 36 saw an increase in women candidates running for legislative seats in 2018. In four states — South Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and California — women running for state office increased by 50 percent from the last campaign cycle.

Additionally, a record number of LGBTQ candidates have also run for office throughout the 2018 election cycle, including 21 openly LGBTQ candidates who have won Democratic primaries and are currently vying for House or Senate seats, according to a recent report from the Victory Fund, a group that promotes LGBTQ candidates for public office. A record seven LGBTQ Democrats ran for governor this year, and four have won the party’s nomination.

The Republican party has not nominated any openly LGBTQ candidates for governor this election cycle, and there are no openly LGBTQ Republican candidates for Congress on the general election ballot for the first time since 2010.

The post Women of Color Are Running for Office in Record Numbers appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Anti-Terrorism Laws Increasingly Used to Target Indigenous Activists

Truth Out - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 13:48

The images flew around the world. The teepees. The tear gas. The Indigenous water protectors’ camps. The boots advancing in unison as security forces cracked down on protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline. The defiance. The hundreds of arrests.

“While Sioux leaders advocated for protests to remain peaceful, State law enforcement officials, private security companies and the North Dakota National Guard employed a militarized response to protests,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples, wrote in a recent report. A mercenary firm had been surveilling the pipeline opposition movement and engaged in military-style counterterrorism measures, according to an investigative report published by The Intercept.

The use of counterterrorism tactics against Indigenous protesters in the US reflects a global trend. But in many parts of the world, and particularly in Latin America, Indigenous leaders and activists are also openly and explicitly criminalized as terrorists. The use of anti-terrorism and national security legislation and policies against Indigenous activists is becoming more and more common.

Ill-Defined Anti-Terrorism Laws Permit Targeted Criminalization

“Several of the countries that I’ve been to, and from the communications I’ve received, have indicated that the anti-terrorism act or the national security act is the one that’s being used more against Indigenous peoples,” Tauli-Corpuz told Truthout. With laws defining terrorism in a vague manner, governments can consider blockades against logging companies to be terrorist acts, for example, she said.

“It’s easy to put that under the umbrella of terrorism. That’s a big problem that it’s in the hands of governments that have several laws that they can just use to trump up charges against Indigenous peoples and now they have even more possibilities to do that because of the anti-terrorism acts,” said Tauli-Corpuz. “The coming into being of these anti-terrorism laws is exacerbating the situation of impunity and criminalization of Indigenous peoples.”

Tauli-Corpuz has personal experience with that kind of targeted criminalization. Her name was one of 600 on a list that included 47 Indigenous leaders and activists in the mixTauli-Corpuz told Truthout. They were all labeled terrorists by the government of the Philippines, accused of ties to one or both groups also branded as terrorist organizations: The Communist Party and the New People’s Army, an armed left-wing guerrilla movement. Tauli-Corpuz recently had her name removed from the list, but it required taking up individual legal action, she said.

False associations with groups labeled as terrorist organizations place Indigenous leaders at risk whether or not their names are later removed from the list. “That’s very dangerous,” said Tauli-Corpuz, adding that it is particularly so in a country where extrajudicial executions have become the norm.

Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in 2016 and in the two years since he took office, extrajudicial killings and death squad activity has soared in the country. Duterte has openly advocated for murdering drug users and has bragged about personally executing suspects during his long-running tenure as mayor of Davao, where the Philippine Commission on Human Rights documented a systematic practice of extrajudicial killings while he was in office.

Militarized Conservation Threatens Indigenous People in Kenya

Tauli-Corpuz raised the issue of the use of anti-terrorism laws in her recent broader report about the criminalization of Indigenous peoples. Published in August, the thematic report addresses “the drastic increase in attacks and acts of violence against, criminalization of and threats aimed at indigenous peoples, particularly those arising in the context of large-scale projects involving extractive industries, agribusiness, infrastructure, hydroelectric dams and logging.”

“In several countries, increased militarization adds to the threats against indigenous peoples,” wrote Tauli-Corpuz.

“Now more than ever, we must protect our right to dissent publicly and to disrupt business as usual.”

That is the case in the Embobut forest in western Kenya, where Kenya Forest Service guards have been hunting down and evicting Indigenous Sengwer residents from their ancestral forest lands. Tauli-Corpuz has highlighted the case in the past and expressed her long-standing concern again in her recent report. Evictions, arrests and attacks have been ongoing for years, and this past January, forest guards shot and killed Robert Kirotich, a Sengwer herder. Despite a court injunction ordering a halt to evictions, as well as ongoing land rights litigation and international awareness campaigns, little has changed, says Yator Kiptum, an outspoken Sengwer community leader.

“Criminalization of the community members has not changed,” he told Truthout. The crackdown continues as forest service guards attempt to hunt down Sengwer residents hiding out in their ancestral forest lands following past evictions. Government officials have threatened Kiptum and other Sengwer community leaders and accused them of supplying weapons to forest dwellers. Officials have also openly labeled people in the forest as bandits and criminals in order to justify its militarized response. But forest residents hiding out from forest service guards following evictions and the burning of their homes are Sengwer community members, said Kiptum.

“People are still inside the forest. It is hide and seek,” he said. “Some are forced to live in caves.”

The Embobut forest and other Indigenous regions of Kenya are sites of contentious conservation and climate change projects with international backing. In the case of the Embobut forest, following the killing of the Sengwer herder by forest guards earlier this year, the European Commission suspended funding for one such project, part of the financing for which was destined to the Kenya Forest Service. Kiptum is calling for a suspension of international financing of all conservation and climate change projects in Sengwer and other Indigenous lands until evictions are halted and until free, prior and informed consent is obtained through a meaningful consultation process.

“They should really have a human rights approach and ensure free, prior and informed consent be key in their projects,” he said. The European Commission, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and others supported conservation-related projects in Indigenous lands in Kenya before being forced to backtrack in the face of opposition over their failure to respect land rights and engage in consultation, and in light of security forces’ violent response, said Kiptum. “It’s not the way to conserve our eco-system.”

Kenya is highlighted in the UN Special Rapporteur’s report as one of the countries where Tauli-Corpuz has recorded a “disconcerting escalation of violent attacks.” The Philippines and India are also noted as countries with “a significant and rising number of such attacks,” but all remaining countries on that list are from Latin America: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru.

Criminalization of Indigenous Activists Ramps Up in Latin America

The use of anti-terrorism legislation and national security acts to criminalize Indigenous activists and community leaders is also of particular concern in Latin America. In Chile, the government continues to use dictatorship-era anti-terrorism legislation to arrest and prosecute Mapuche leaders and activists battling logging and other companies in their territories. In Ecuador, Sápara leaders were charged with terrorist acts for opposing oil exploitation, and Shuar leaders have been charged with terrorism for resistance to mining and oil industries. In Peru, Indigenous community leaders defending their lands from mining projects have been accused of terrorism.

“One big problem with that is that usually these anti-terrorism acts have very vague definitions of what is terrorism, so anything that they would like to target against Indigenous peoples, they can just say it’s covered under the anti-terrorism act,” Tauli-Corpuz told Truthout.

In Central America, new laws and legal reforms addressing terrorism have been sweeping the region, raising alarm due to the vague and broad definitions they contain. In Honduras, legislators passed a series of criminal code reforms last year. After several failed attempts, in September 2017, the controversial article concerning terrorism was approved despite boisterous opposition due to the fact that its vague definition of terrorism could allow judges to interpret terrorist acts and groups to include almost any kind of social movement protest.

In Nicaragua in July of this year, amid an ongoing violent political crisis during which hundreds of people, mostly opposition protesters, have been killed, the Congress (controlled by the ruling Sandinista Party) passed a new anti-terrorism law, the Law against Money Laundering, the Financing of Terrorism, and the Propagation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The law is already being used against protesters and social movement leaders.

In Guatemala, there are several relevant initiatives. In 2014, Guatemalan lawmakers passed the Law for Highway Circulation Free of Any Kind of Obstacles. Dubbed “the speedbump law,” it imposes severe penalties for any unsanctioned obstruction of public roadways. Though it does not explicitly include protest actions, social movement and human rights groups believe the law will be used to target Indigenous and campesino roadblock actions and marches and to enable more serious charges for supposed crimes against national interests with regard to any obstruction of bridges, highways and other key infrastructure.

One of the related initiatives currently up for approval by the Guatemalan Congress is the Law Against Terrorist Acts. The introductory justification text sent along with the initial bill proposal is an odd jumble of arguments, citing gang and cartel crimes, 9/11, and the alleged potential for Islamic terrorists to use Central America as a pathway to the US. As in Honduras and Nicaragua, the law’s broad definition of terrorist acts is a concern, though in the case of Guatemala, the definition does specifically mention both critical infrastructure and freedom of movement. As with “the speedbump law,” there is widespread concern that it is designed in part for use against Indigenous and campesino highway blockades.

Along with “the speedbump law,” reforms to the criminal code and other laws such as the Law Against Organized Crime are also contributing to the criminalization of Indigenous leaders, says Juan Castro, a lawyer with Bufete para Pueblos Indígenas, a law firm of and for Indigenous peoples.

“The criminal code reform with regard to kidnapping, for example, permitted the criminal prosecution of seven Indigenous authorities in the north of Huehuetenango, accused of kidnapping. I was one of the defense lawyers for the community leaders and we managed to unravel the kidnapping charge because there was no intention whatsoever to kidnap anyone,” Castro told Truthout. “[Prosecutors] took advantage of a criminal definition that was very broad.”

Castro is also defending an Indigenous activist in eastern Guatemala who is accused of criminal association. “It’s a crime that is contemplated in the Law Against Organized Crime,” he said. “It’s clear that they’re using criminal law to persecute people.”

The so-called speedbump law and others used to target and prosecute Indigenous leaders and protesters in Guatemala have clear parallels in the US, where states have been considering anti-protest bills, some of which explicitly target the obstruction of highways and pipelines. In the first half of 2017 alone, lawmakers in nearly 20 states proposed anti-protest laws, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Most did not pass, but several were enacted and others are still under consideration.

The state-level anti-protest laws have historical precedents that created the concept of “eco-terrorists” and used it to jail activists, National Lawyers Guild researcher Tracy Yoder wrote last year. “The recent surge of legislation targeting protesters and protest organizers is not the first time state legislators have attempted to neutralize and punish effective protests. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was proposed in 2003 and passed by Congress in 2006. The initial proposal was followed by a series of similar but far more extreme bills at the state level,” wrote Yoder.

As in Guatemala, the past and present anti-protest bills do not explicitly target Indigenous protesters. The disproportionate use of force and mass arrests in the US against protest movements opposing pipelines and other extractive projects — many of which are Indigenous-led — suggests the laws may in fact be used for that purpose. In fact, a Louisiana state anti-protest law passed in August that specifically targets anti-pipeline protesters is already being used to criminalize water protectors battling the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

“The knowledge that these bills are being considered in many state legislatures, regardless of their status, is likely to have a chilling effect on dissent,” noted Yoder. “Now more than ever, we must protect our right to dissent publicly and to disrupt business as usual.”

The post Anti-Terrorism Laws Increasingly Used to Target Indigenous Activists appeared first on Truthout.

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